Picture of Henry Vincent

Henry Vincent

places mentioned

Feb. 28 to Mar. 9: Bristol, Cirencester and Stroud

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THURSDAY, 28th February. — Rode from Bath to Bristol by coach — the weather very cold. In the evening dropped into the room of the Working Men's Association. The room holds about 500 persons. I found it difficult to get into the room; the staircase and lobby were both crowded. On forcing my way up to the hustings, I found an excellent Radical, of the name of Edwards, from Newport, addressing the audience. Mr. Edwards is a famous fellow. He speaks fluently, and with much effect ... I then addressed the meeting at some length on the principles of the Charter; and also announced my intention of contesting Bristol at the next election. I received the promised votes of thirty burgesses. The meeting broke up about ten. I returned to my lodgings, and went to bed.

FRIDAY, March 1. — Addressed the Bristolians in Frogmore-street — the spirit of the people rapidly increases.

SATURDAY, 2nd. — Wrote several articles for the Vindicator .

SUNDAY, March 3. — Mr. W.G.Burns arrived in Bristol this morning, bringing with him a commission from the Convention, appointing us both as missionaries to explain the People's Charter in the counties of Somerset, Gloucester, Hereford, and South Wales. The weather was very warm. Walked out in the vicinity of Bristol. The birds were singing songs of welcome to the spring. Young lads and lasses were sweethearting in all directions; and the old folks, encouraged by the fineness of the weather, were inhaling the invigorating breeze. Returned home about ten and went to bed.

MONDAY, March 4. — Rose at 8. Had a delightful walk over Brandon Hill to Clifton. Bills were posted on the city walls announcing that the people would accompany Mr. Henry Vincent and Mr. W.G.Burns in procession to Brandon Hill in the evening. Selected a convenient spot on the hill from which to address the meeting. Scrambled over the rocks at Clifton, the scenery of which is truly delightful. The air very exhilarating — although somewhat tainted by the aristocratic breaths of the neighbourhood. At seven o'clock Burns, myself, and two friends, in an open car, rode to Thomas-street. We found upwards of 12,000 persons assembled. We could have walked on the people's heads from the bridge down Thomas-street. An excellent band of music was in attendance, and about a dozen flags enlivened the scene. The people formed in procession eight abreast; and with music playing, flags flying, and multitudes cheering, the cavalcade proceeded through the densely-populated parts of the city. On passing the Mercury , alias the God of Lies' office , the tune of "Oh dear what can the matter be" frightened poor Somerton out of his remaining senses — and he has since been confined in a straight- jacket. We reached Brandon Hill about nine o'clock — Mr. McKay was called to the chair. After a few observations he introduced Mr. Burns to the meeting. Burns is a man of great talent. His mirthful sarcasm kept his audience in a roar of laughter, whilst his coolly- argumentative style produced conviction upon the most obtuse of minds. He was loudly cheered throughout. I next addressed the meeting at some length, and was loudly cheered. A dirty blackguardly police-inspector endeavoured to break the peace, but the people told him they would break his head , so he walked off. There were a great number of ladies present, who, notwithstanding the coldness of the evening, stood their ground to the last. We returned to the city in procession about eleven o'clock. The meeting was one of the best ever held in Bristol. A few such meetings and "Bristol will be herself again!"

TUESDAY, March 5. — Rode over to Bath — the weather intensely cold. Found a meeting of the people was called for the Orange Grove in the evening. Meetings seem the order of the day everywhere I go. Although the night was cold several thousands of people assembled, amongst whom was a considerable number of ladies. [Bolwell chaired meeting, Burns and Vincent also spoke] I asked the people if they would stand firm by the Charter - - and their loud "YES" shook the Abbey to its centre — and Captain Carroll was carried from the Grove in a fainting condition. Poor fellow! I hope he is recovered. Took supper and went to bed.

WEDNESDAY, March 6. — Weather cold — took coach for Wootton-under-Edge in Gloucestershire. A very heavy fall of snow commenced as the coach left Bath. We had a bitter cold ride. Arrived at Wootton by one o'clock. The snow had ceased falling. Dined with Remy Lacey, a real good Radical and founder of the Wootton Association. After dinner Burns and I walked to the room of the Association — spoke to the people briefly, and were loudly applauded. The Wootton people are very intelligent and will soon upset the aristocratic power of the neighbourhood. At three o'clock a procession was formed, consisting of about 3000 persons, headed by an excellent band of music, with beautiful banners, flags, &., and proceeded through the town up to the Chipping, where a wagon was placed as accomodation for the speakers. [Meeting chaired by Henry Lacey; Burns and Vincent spoke] We returned to our inn in procession, and spent the evening in the company of 200 ultra rads. "Fall, tyrants, fall" was sung by the whole company in famous style. We separated about eleven o'clock.

THURSDAY, March 7. — Rose at seven — broke our fast in the cottage of Richard Skelton. Skelton is a stout, sturdy, six-foot Radical. ... At ten we left Wootton for Cirencester, Gloucestershire. We reached Cirencester about three. The town is very neat and clean — the population about 7000. A meeting was convened for six in the evening, in the Market-place. At six, Burns and myself walked to the place of meeting. We found upwards of 4000 persons assembled. The agricultural labourers poured in from the surrounding villages. The town was in a very excited state. One man said such a stir had not been created since the town was taken by Prince Rupert. .... Burns and myself addressed the meeting at great length. An attempt was made by half-a-dozen "gentlemen" to interrupt the meeting, by throwing stones at the speakers. I had one capital knock — it did me more good than an electric shock. The people soon silenced the "gentlemen". Al the resolutions were carried unanimously, and measures were adopted for obtaining signatures to the petition, and for collecting the National Rent. Burns and myself were elected Delegates. We had a great number of ladies present. God bless them!

FRIDAY, March 8, — Took coach for Cheltenham. Weather very cold. Within a mile of Cheltenham one of the coach wheels came off — but being Chartists, of course, we were not hurt. After some little delay all was made right again — and we arrived safely at our journey's end in time for dinner. At night we had a splendid meeting in the York Hotel. Upwards of 5000 people were present — and hundreds went away unable to obtain admission.

SATURDAY, March 9. — Mounted coach for Stroud, the place said to be represented by the sneaking little pettifogger who disgraces the office of Secretary of State, and who is "leader" of the reformed House of Commons. The scenery from Cheltenham to Stroud is beautiful — one of the finest vallies [sic.] I ever beheld — from the hills above which the traveller has an excellent view of Cheltenham, the city of Gloucester, and Tewkesbury — and in the distance the Malvern Hills. How I wished the winter over! I panted for the glittering beauty of spring, and the warm rays of the summer-sun — I shall visit that spot again. We arrived in Stroud at five o'clock. A public meeting was called for six. The meeting was held on a bowling green. There were from 4 to 5000 people present. Several of the Russellite manufacturers jumped up behind the hustings. ... Burns made an excellent speech. ... During his speech about a dozen of the chop-fallen Russell gang made a noise similar to the cackling of geese — but the people told them they would break their necks — and that quieted them. I addressed the meeting for two hours — I was in excellent spirits. I never spoke to a more enthusiastic meeting. Every time I referred to the villainy of Little Finality the people expressed their abhorrence of the fellow in the most contemptuous terms. I proposed John Frost to them as their future candidate amidst deafening acclamations. The people said they would not put Russell in the fish-pond the next time he came to Stroud lest he should poison the fishes. I shall visit Stroud again and again, until I meet Finality face to face. The resolutions were carried unanimously, none daring to move an amendment. There will be thousands of signatures to the Petition, and a good contribution of Rent. Long live the men and women of Stroud!

Henry Vincent, 'Life and Rambles', in the Western Vindicator , no.4 (16th March 1839), p.1

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