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To the PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL OF TEN.
Tavistock Place, September 12, 1822. I HAVE read, with great pleasure, your constitutional observations upon “ The Abuses of the Police.” How such an act as that which you allude to could pass in a legislature representing freemen, is to me incomprehensible.
Not long ago, during a short stay at Leamington, in Warwickshire, I had an opportunity of witnessing the arbitrary and cruel operation of this act.
Three poor Irishmen, driven by famine from their own country, just at the commencement of our harvest, were seeking for employment. Unable to succeed, and without the means of purchasing food, they committed the heinous sin of asking charity, which being observed by the beadle of the place, (who, in a scarlet costume and ponderous gold-laced hat, struck terror into the unhappy strangers as he approached), demanded them as his prey; and with the ferocity of a tiger, seized the weakest of the three, who, during the struggle, was deserted by his companions, and left at the mercy of this bloodhound. At the moment I was ignorant of the power vested in this man, until the cry of “ Shame, shame! - infamous act! - despotic bill!” — rung in my
“ This wretch,” said a man standing by me, “ takes up all the poor people he meets with, carries them to the black-hole, locks them up for the night, and has five shillings for each, when carried before the justice !” I was at first unwilling to interfere with the arm of power, except by expostulation; upon which the ruffian told me, with a sneer, “ he did not mind what
I said, and he would be dd but he would do his duty.”
The poor fellow was dragged to the black-hole, wherè, shortly after, I conversed with him through the grating of the door, and revived his drooping spirits by saying “ I would see justice done to him.” I lost not a moment, and instantly communicated to a respectable inhabitant what I had witnessed, who accompanied me to one of the overseers, remarking, as he walked with me, “that he was very glad the matter had been taken up by a spirited gentleman; for it was really shameful that such power should be vested in the hands of such men, whose only object was blood-money.” A meeting was immediately called, and the result was the liberation of the poor, unoffending Irishman ; his sickle (which had been wrested from him) was restored, and he went in search of his frightened companions.
“ Can such things be,
Without our special wonder ?” By exposing these iniquitous practices, strengthened by the observations of your powerful mind, you “will do the state some service," and deserve the thanks of your country.
I remain, Sir,
Your constant Reader,
To Misses ELIZABETH AND LUCY OAKLEY.
Tavistock Place, September 20, 1822. I sent you twenty pounds, which acknowledge per return of post. I would have you secure
two places in the Crown Prince for Friday or Saturday next, which you may do by applying at the coach-office. Let me know at what time the coach leaves Leamington, and when it is expected to arrive at La Belle Sauvage, to which place I would have you go, provided you do not meet me at the Peacock at Islington. A pleasant journey to you.
To Mr. R. R. OAKLEY, HARROW.
MY DEAR RICHARD,
Royal Exchange, October 7, 1822. I am always glad to receive a letter from you; and with the one before me, I cannot help saying, it does you great credit, both in diction and in the writing
On my return from Fonthill, I own I was rather surprised to find you had been in Tavistock Place; but as you had so pleasant a conveyance offered you, I was pleased to find you accepted it in accompanying Doctor Hawkins, and I have little doubt he was equally pleased in your company.
You do not say how you get on in your studies : this you should not omit to do when you write. We are in a sort of partnership, Richard ; and as I find money to carry on the concern, I ought to be informed of the profits. You have the opportunity of gaining great advantages, which no one can deprive you of when obtained; whereas all I can get will be the satisfaction of observing that you possess them for your own benefit.
I wish you to attend a little more to orthography: many of your words are often misspelt.
You say, hopping that I shall soon hear from you : " hoping, I presume you mean; but perhaps you were thinking of a hop, step, and jump; a favourite amusement of mine when a boy; and even now I will hop, step, and jump, with the best fellow in Harrow School.
Should I find Mr. Ravenhill disposed, and in the same humour he was in last year
“ for a wild-goose chase," we may probably (if we cannot get a wild goose) be content to sit down, with you and his son Edward, to a tame one, at the Harry's Head, sometime in the next month; or if you prefer the dismemberment of Turkey, and are Greek enough to commence an attack, we will be
allies. Elizabeth and Lucy are much benefited by their excursion to Leamington. Your mother and sisters are very well. Mr. and Mrs. Britton, and Mr. Shaw, drank tea with us last night.
I have commenced another volume of letters. Jane has furnished me with all I wrote to you since last January
To Mr. R. R. OAKLEY.
MY DEAR RICHARD,
Royal Exchange, October 30, 1822. I am glad to find you got safe down, and were at your post in time.
The merited disgrace of the two boys will, I hope, convince them of the impropriety of their conduct, and occasion a feeling of gratitude to their superiors, for their tender consideration in not expelling them.
How perfectly ridiculous these freaks appear to men of sense! The inconsiderate indulgence of their parents, in supplying them with too much money, is here manifest. Pride, and the silly boast of having performed (as they think) a great feat, seem to have upset their reason, and probably led them to imagine that it was meritorious to squander away their money in a nocturnal ramble, encountering not only accident, but the risk of destroying health, their reputation, and good name, " by doing those things they ought not to do, and leaving undone those things they ought to do.” The school task they had to perform could not be otherwise than imperfectly done, and they richly deserve the disgrace that has befallen them by being thrown back in their form.
In communities of every description, improprieties will arise : though evils in themselves, they sometimes tend to do good, inasmuch as the judicious and welldeserving profit by the folly and example set before them, by shunning the pernicious example, and learning to appreciate virtue and shun vice. You have afforded me a text on which I could expatiate to a greater length than the limits of this paper will allow; and as I know you value the observations I make, and are capable of making the application, it is not necessary I should say more, than to warn you against associating with such boys, 'whose thoughtlessness may effect their own ruin, and “ bring down the gray hairs of their parents with sorrow to the grave.”