Picture of Henry Vincent

Henry Vincent

places mentioned

Mar. 24 to Apr. 1: Newport and Stroud

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SUNDAY, March 24. — Rose at four o'clock. Took the London coach, which passes through Chippenham, for Bath at five o'clock. Arrived in Bath at seven. Dined with citizen Bolwell and spent the afternoon with citizen Day. Left Bath at eight o'clock in the evening for Bristol, and arrived there at ten. Retired to bed immediately.

MONDAY, March 25. — Rose at half past five. Wrote several articles for the Vindicator . Left Bristol at two o'clock in the steam-packet for Newport, in South Wales. Had a very rough passage. I observed two Newport Whigs reaching dreadfully. I think I must have agitated their internals, and they were trying to throw me off. Arrived in Newport at half-past five. Several excellent Radical friends met me at the landing place. The amiable Radical ladies of Newport had got up a tea meeting to me. I went to the place of meeting, and was very enthusiastically received. I found from 4 to 500 people assembled, 300 of whom were ladies. Many who had obtained tickets were unable to procure tea, such was the anxiety of the ladies to be present at the first Democratic tea meeting. As soon as the tea-things were removed — Mr. Edward Thomas was called to the chair. He informed the ladies of the object of the meeting, and then delivered an address to me on behalf of the audience. I must say that I am not worthy of the compliment. But as a matter of history I print it as delivered.

Vincent! we hail thee as our country's friend
In whom the virtues with the graces blend;
The bold asserter of the people's rights,
One of their leaders in their moral fights;
For them equality of rights you claim,
Reason and Justice recognise your aim
As based on principles none can gainsay;
None dare approach you to pronounce — his nay.
Thousands surround you when you stand on high —
You challenge all — and bravely all defy.
Who art thou Vincent? whence didst thou arise?
Or art thou late descended from the skies?
Oh! thou art but a WORKING MAN! what, thou
Stand before gentlemen , with fearless brow!
Undaunted by their frowns — fearless of all
Their mighty talents that would most appal,
Accomplished scholars of collegiate fame —
Dars't thou encounter men of learned name?
Yes! thou hast dared — and we rejoice to see
Thy welcome features at our public tea.
Not in this mere provincial town alone,
Where every enemy is mark'd and known,
Hast thou been met, as thus, in social form,
And hast thou pleaded for a FULL REFORM;
But many an ancient city, boasting much
Of arts and sciences, thou ne'er could'st touch,
Hast thou been in, to hold thy public talk
Mid'st men of learning in their various walk
Of life — unfearing facing all their light
Of knowledge — and their unknown talents might.
We joy to see thee. Let thy foes appear —
Thy strong opponents; — we'll receive them here;
Here we will hear their arguments — and they
May come amongst us — tho' they do not pay .
We'll give them free admission — let them dare
To face a young antagonist — most fair:—
He's not an enemy — he's no man's foe —
Vincent to love, none need but Vincent know:—
He claims affinity to all mankind
By blood, by birth, and by th' immortal mind.
If any fault belongs to Vincent's heart
If any vice shares in his breast a part,
'Tis that most wondrous one of all — men know,
Heard of in heav'n, but seldom seen below,
A fault — a vice — unknown to sons of pelf,
To love all others better than himself! —
Vincent, receive our all admiring praise,
All that we can give in these our humble lays.

At the conclusion of this address I responded to it in a long speech. I explained the principles of the Charter — proved the necessity of their adoption in order to promote the happiness of all classes of society, and appealed to the ladies for assistance, encouragement, and support. I showed them how intimately their happiness was connected with the progress of sound knowledge and government. When drawing a figure of the Chartist plough passing over the bad soil of the Aristocracy and ploughing it up — a lady exclaimed, with great earnestness and solemnity, "GOD SPEED THE PLOUGH!" This sentiment was responded to by the loud plaudits of the ladies. I was loudly cheered on concluding. By this time there was about 3 or 4000 persons blocking up the street begging for an adjournment. After consulting the ladies, they unanimously consented to give up the pleasure of a social meeting to enable the men to receive political instruction. Previous to the adjournment, the ladies requested me to sing "The Democrat". Bless their kind little hearts! Of course I accommodated them. We then adjourned; the ladies falling in procession four abreast, and an immense procession of men following in the rear. Three hearty cheers were given for Mrs. Frost on passing the house. A wagon was placed in the street, from which I addressed the meeting above an hour. At the conclusion three hearty cheers were given for John Frost, Esq. — three for Vincent — three for the Convention — three for our sweethearts, wives, and ourselves, and the meeting separated. The Newport ladies are progressing with great spirit to the terror of the Aristocrats of the town and neighbourhood.

TUESDAY, March 26. — Took a chaise in company with friend Edwards for Pontlanvraith, over the Monmouth hills. The morning fine. The scenery is very picturesque. Fine fertile hills rising in all directions. I could not help thinking of the defensible nature of the country in the case of foreign invasion! A few thousands of armed men on the hills could successfully defend them. Wales would make an excellent Republic. The soil is exceedingly fertile. The working population are chiefly engaged in the iron and coal trade. They are said to have good wages; but I found this far from being the case. Work is very irregular, so what is gained in the wages is lost from the uncertain state of the labour market. We arrived at the Greyhound, Pontlanvraith, at twelve o'clock. A meeting was called for that hour. The Greyhound is a very comfortable house, and its inmates agreeably obliging. The working men hold their meetings in the house. A hustings was erected at the side of the buildings. After partaking of a good repast we went to the meeting and found above 1000 sturdy men and women assembled. I ought to mention that the Radicals met us about a mile from the Greyhound, and conducted us into the village. On ascending the hustings I was loudly cheered. Mr. Davis, a working man, was called to the chair. He explained the object of the meeting, and then introduced a thorough Radical Welchman (whose name I have unfortunately forgotten) to address the people in the Welch language. I regret my ignorance of the Welch. It appears to be a powerfully impressive language, and the people are passionately fond of their mother tongue. Mr. Edwards was next introduced. He delivered an able speech, and was loudly cheered. A low fellow, evidently drunk, endeavoured to create a disturbance, but he was soon silenced, and "taken care of" by a friend. Edwards was loudly cheered. I then arose amidst much cheering, and addressed the meeting for an hour and a half. In the course of which, after explaining the principles of the Charter, I showed the people how they would be better ed in circumstances were they possessed of law-making powers. I also addressed the ladies, and proved to them their intimate connection with the political interests of their country. My speech appeared to make a very powerful impression, and at the conclusion I was cheered for several minutes. Three cheers were given for the Chairman — three for Vincent — three for Edwards — three for the Convention, Charter, and the Ladies, and the meeting separated. Took tea, and walked on to Blackwood, a small village about a mile from the Greyhound. The evening mild. Within half a mile from Blackwood we were met by about 100 little girls, dressed very neatly, carrying in the front of them a pretty device made up of flowers and three handsome flags upon the top. On meeting us they curtsied, and then preceded us to Blackwood, singing a Radical song with great skill; the chorus of which was thus —

"Here's a health to Radical boys,
Here's a health to Radical boys,
May tyranny fall, and freedom prevail,
That millions may share its joys."

It was a pleasing sight to see young children assembled to pray for the success of a cause upon which their future happiness and freedom depended. May God nerve our arms and strengthen our hearts, and carry us triumphantly through the coming struggle! Our little conductors halted at the Coach and Horses, the landlord and landlady of which are good out-and-out Radicals. The meeting was held in front of the house; a delightful place to speak from; for before use lie a most beautiful prospect of hill and valley. The full-toned notes of a blackbird were heard from a neighbouring cluster of trees. The numbers present were about 1500, amongst whom were a great amount of females. Mr. Burrell was called to the chair. Mr. Edwards spoke at some length in explanation of the Charter, and was warmly applauded. I next addressed the meeting; shewed the people what governments should exist for; and convinced them of the necessity of having an equal share in the making of the laws and laying on of the taxes. I spoke to the ladies at considerable length, arguing that they were more interested in a good state of government and society than the men; a fact of which they seemed fully convinced. I was pleased to notice several of the middle classes present, who appeared to take great interest in the proceedings. I was loudly cheered throughout my speech. A few words were spoken in Welch. Cheers innumerable were given in succession for Vincent, Edwards, the Charter, Convention, our sweethearts and wives, and the meeting separated. The people nearly all signed the petition. Sheets distinctly for the ladies were also signed. The most ardent enthusiasm prevailed. Two of Prothero's men waited on me, and told me the men had been prevented attending the meeting, but that they were ALL READY! He also said that —— never mind — I'll tell you some other time. Edwards, myself, and a friend, returned to the Greyhound, and spent the remainder of the evening in conversation, enlivened by a few Welch airs on the harp, and two or three songs from our male friends. We could not prevail upon the young ladies to sing to us. Really the ladies throughout the country must all learn to sing — for how delightful will be their voices in one grand jubilee when we are celebrating the triumph of our Charter. Retired to bed at half-past twelve.

WEDNESDAY, March 27. — Rose at nine. The rain descending in torrents. Breakfasted, and then got into our chaise for Gellygroes. Three young ladies accompanied us, together with a host of other friends. We soon reached Gellygroes, and the Half Way House. We had a capital meeting in a barn. ... I received scores of invitations to attend meetings all over the hills. I was compelled to decline them for the present; but I shall visit the hills again in a few days and remain there a fortnight. We left at three o'clock amidst the loud cheers of our friends, and after a cold and cheerless ride, reached Newport at six o'clock. We Chartists are very highly favoured by the weather. A meeting was called in Newport for seven. Just before the meeting commenced the dark clouds rolled away — the rain ceased — and the silver moon looked smilingly upon us. We had above 4000 persons present. Edward Thomas took the chair. I delivered a thrilling oration to the people, which produced a pleasing effect. I felt in excellent spirits and tone notwithstanding my continued travelling and speaking; for I find, on calculating, I have spoke about two hours a day for thirteen months, and travelled six thousand and seventy-one miles. The Newport boys are advancing bravely. I then announced to the ladies that I would address them in their room. Accordingly I proceeded to the room in company with friends Thomas and Townsend. The room was filled with ladies, and scores were unable to obtain admission. Messengers were then dispatched, and a larger room engaged, to which we adjourned in procession, walking two by two. At ten o'clock Miss Dickenson was called to the chair. She expressed the delight she felt on being called upon to preside, and introduced me to the meeting. I addressed them above an hour, and was listened to with the most marked attention, and warmly applauded. We had a little singing. I sung "The Democrat" , and "Up, and plant the tree!" — and also gave them Cole's poem — "A boy I dreamt of Liberty . We broke up a little after twelve. Retired to bed rather weary.

THURSDAY, March 28. — Did not rise till ten. Received the pleasing intelligence that Mr. Frost would meet me in Stroud. Breakfasted with my excellent young Radical friend, William Townsend. Dined with friend Edwards at twelve. Was joined by young Davis, and booked ourselves by the Monmouth coach for Gloucester, intending to proceed from thence to Stroud the same evening. We had a cold ride to Chepstow, and as the coach remained in the town twenty minutes, we took a good survey of Chepstow Castle. It has been a formidable building in its time. Standing on an elevated position of rock it must have formed an excellent stronghold for baronial plunderers. Our ride from Chepstow to a place called Framelode, was very pleasing. We had a view of the Severn all the way. On reaching Framelode we found two gentlemen on the coach anxious to reach Stroud the same night; and learning that by crossing the Severn we could obtain a fly, we joined together, and reached Stroud in safety at nine o'clock. Took up our quarters at the Lamb Inn. Retired to bed at eleven o'clock.

FRIDAY, March 29. — Rose at seven. Found the Radicals all busy preparing for their public meeting. Several friends arrived from Cheltenham, Cirencester, Gloucester, and Wotton-under-Edge. Mr. Frost arrived at twelve, and on entering the committee room was received with three times three hearty thanks. We dined at one. At two o'clock, a procession of several thousand people, and several beautiful flags, arrived in front of our inn. When Mr. Frost appeared, the immense multitude cheered him for several minutes. Taking our station behind the band, the procession advanced through the principal streets, amidst every demonstration of enthusiasm. In approaching the hill on which the meeting was to be held, the appearance of hundreds of people ascending in all directions, thrilled us with delight — the hill swarming with people. The ladies mustered gloriously — there could not have been less than from 12 to 14,000 people present.

Mr. Alexander Gatheral was called to the chair. .... Resolutions adopting the People's Charter and Petition were then moved and seconded, and carried with great cheering; after which Mr. Farr moved "That John Frost, Esq. be appointed to represent the industrious men and women of Stroud in the National Convention ". This resolution was carried with deafening acclamation. ... [Frost and Vincent spoke] Three cheers were then given for Frost, Vincent, and the Convention, and the meeting separated — reforming in procession and conducting us to our inn, the band playing "See the conquering hero comes". I flatter myself that I have made nearly all the women of Stroud Radicals. A farthing subscription is being raised to purchase a copy of Cobbett's Grammar for "Little Finality" . I never witnessed a more attentive and intelligent audience. I promised to address them again on Saturday night.

SATURDAY, March 30. — Spent the whole day in writing for the Vindicator . About six in the evening taken very ill. At seven walked to the Market Cross, where several thousand persons were assembled. Addressed the meeting at considerable length. The people were very enthusiastic, cheering me most vociferously. I promised to return to Stroud again on the first opportunity. Retired to bed very ill at eleven o'clock.

SUNDAY, March 31. — Found that no coach ran through Stroud for Bath or Bristol on Sunday. Took a fly for Pettyfrance, on the Gloucester Road. Arrived too late for the Bath Coach. Compelled to take a Post Chaise in consequence of the Devizes meeting on Monday. Arrived at Bath jaded out. Retired to bed at eleven, very ill.

Henry Vincent, 'Life and Rambles', in the Western Vindicator , no.7 (6th April 1839), pp.3-4

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