Picture of Henry Vincent

Henry Vincent

places mentioned

Apr. 15 to 20: Bristol and Newport

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MONDAY, April 15. — Rode from Bath to Bristol, by coach. On reaching Bristol, heard that a riot had taken place in Newport, and that a body of troops were going over to that town. I observed a great number of the 6th Dragoons walking the streets. I accosted one of them, and asked him his place of destination. He said they were on the march to Manchester. I asked him if any riot had taken place at Newport; and he said that he had not heard of it. I then asked him if he was going to Manchester to "cut the throats of the Chartists"; when he answered, "no I'll be —— if I am — I'm a Chartist myself". Having received this information, I walked quietly to my lodgings, and rested very comfortably for the rest of the day.

TUESDAY, April 16. — Rose early, and had a delightful walk round a portion of Clifton before breakfast. In the evening, attended a public meeting of the people of Bristol, in the large room, Thomas street. The meeting was the first attended by me since the Devizes riot. On entering the room, the whole company rose, and cheered me most enthusiastically for several minutes. I should, indeed, have been callous to all proper feeling had I not been deeply impressed by the flattering reception I received. The kindness of my friends will afford me feelings of gratitude and affection whenever I recur to it. William M'Kay, an active Radical, occupied the chair. [M'Kay spoke and then Vincent] On leaving the meeting, I was cheered through the streets by the people.

WEDNESDAY, April 17. — Spent the day in Bristol. In the evening, addressed a very numerous meeting of the people in the large room in Thomas street. The Bristol Radicals are a determined set of men, who are resolved upon having their rights at all hazards.

THURSDAY, April 18. — Rose early. Took my place on board the packet for Newport. The people of Newport had been in a great state of excitement for several days. The Devizes riot was the cause; and hundreds of persons attended the packet each day, expecting my arrival. I had rather an unpleasant passage over, the weather being boisterous, and a little rain falling. On reaching Newport at twelve at noon, I observed the landing place thronged by a large body of Radicals. I landed, and was conducted amidst cheering to the house of my friend, Mr. Edward Thomas. The rain continued to fall heavily; and our friend agreed not to call a meeting, but that I should address such of our friends as might be assembled in the large room of the Bush Inn. At seven o'clock I went to the meeting, and found the room crowded to suffocation. On entering, I was loudly cheered for several minutes. Mr. W.A.Townsend, jun., was called to the chair. He opened the meeting by making a few judicious remarks, and was loudly cheered. I next addressed the meeting, but had not been speaking above half an hour, when loud cries for an adjournment completely stayed my further progress. Although the night was so wet, thousands of people filled the streets. After making an ineffectual attempt to proceed with my discourse, we determined on an adjournment. Out, then, we sallied, in the wet, and marched to our usual place of out-door-meetings — the people walking five abreast, and cheering vociferously through the streets. The rain descended in torrents, so I did not speak above half an hour, but announced I should address them the next evening, which I hoped would be a fine one. Cheers innumerable were given, and the people quietly dispersed. Some of the old-maiden-men, who are friendly with two great men of this town, the one called JACK RAG, and the other TOM GAY, were exceedingly alarmed at this night's meeting. It appears that the Monmouthshire Merlin , a notorious lying paper, had made a statement to the effect that I intended calling upon the people to eat the church steeples, and bolt the bells. Some of the Christchurch Yeomanry were placed around the churches, but nothing important happened .

FRIDAY, April 19. — Remained in Newport. In the evening, accompanied several thousands of people in procession through the streets. On reaching Mill street, the place of meeting, there could not have been less than from 5 to 6000 persons present. W.A.Townsend, jun., was called to the chair. After briefly addressing the meeting, he introduced me to the people. I spoke for two hours. My speech embraced a variety of topics, the most important of which were illustrative of the science of government, and the laws relative to the production and distribution of wealth. Towards the close of my speech a terrible excitement was created in the meeting by the chairman raising and saying, "Friends, will some of you take up your position a short distance behind the waggon, there are persons preparing to fire upon Mr. Vincent!" Some friends immediately rushed behind, and it was several minutes before order could be restored. I resumed my address, and on concluding was loudly cheered. The people then conducted me to the residence of our truly patriotic friend, Mrs. Frost, when I again addressed them from the window, exhorting them to go home quietly, which they immediately did. I am informed by several persons that a few "gentlemen" were in the meeting, who talked of firing upon me . I should state that at the close of our meeting, the people gave three hearty cheers for John Frost, and three more for our brave brothers, the British soldiers.

SATURDAY, April 20. — Rode to Pontypool with Mr. Edwards. The bell-man was sent round to convene a meeting, but owing to some mishap, could not call it. The news of my arrival soon spread, and at seven o'clock, several thousand persons had assembled in one of the main streets of the town. I was much pleased to see a large number of the middle classes present. I addressed the meeting in a speech of two hours duration, which appeared to make a great impression upon them. I spoke to the moral feelings of all present, and the result was truly gratifying. I was loudly and repeatedly cheered throughout. Mr. Edwards also addressed the meeting in an able manner, in explanation of the People's Charter, and was well received.

Henry Vincent, 'Life and Rambles', in the Western Vindicator , no.10 (27th April 1839), p.3

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