Wednesday, 26 July 2017

26th July 1817: Leeds Mercury editorial reacts to accusations of collusion with Oliver

When an enormous evil exists in the State, supported by the strong arm of power, and seconded by a corrupt and servile press, the man that shall dare to expose, with a view to correct, that evil, ought to stand prepared to encounter some risk, much anxiety, and a large share of obloquy. With the truth of this observation we were fully impressed, when we ventured to exhibit to the nation the system of espionage, as prevailing in the manufacturing district of England, but more particularly as manifested in the West-Riding of the county of York. But with these terrors full in view, we could not submit to shrink from a duty prescribed alike by the safety of individuals and the good of the State. The exposure was made, and one of the first fruits of our labours was the liberation of a number of innocent men from prison. The discovery had an effect almost magical; the film dropped from the eyes of the public, and that terrific figure, which, wrapped in the veil of mystery, presented to an alarmed nation the appearance of a colossus of Rebellion, dwindled, when distinctly seen, to the stature of a pigmy. For this offence we have, as we expected, been subject to the censure of the Ministerial press in every part of the empire; and when all the other arts of deception have failed, we are, at length, accused, by an anonymous writer in the Courier Newspaper, with having ourselves been the associates of MR. OLIVER!

THE passage to which we refer, appears in the Courier of the 19th of July, in a letter dated from Leeds, and bearing the signature of Leodiensis; it runs thus:―
“He,” the Editor of the Leeds Mercury, “asserts that he never had the honour of a Call from MR. OLIVER; whereas I have reason to believe that some of the shopmen could prove that OLIVER not only did pay such a visit, but repeated it, and was received with great civility, and pressed to come again.”
SUCH is the charge made in the Courier, and, in answer to which, we thought proper to address a letter to the Editor of that Paper, requiring him to state, “That so far from having received repeated visits from MR. OLIVER, the Editor of the Leeds Mercury never, to the best of his knowledge and belief, saw that man in his life―he never even heard of his name till after the meeting at Thornhill-Lees, where OLIVER was apprehended, and he never held any communication with him, directly or indirectly, either at his own office, or at any other place.”

THE article in the Courier, on which we are animadverting, among a mass of other assertions, all probably as well founded as that we have just refuted, charges us with having suppressed some part of the facts within our knowledge, relative to the examinations taken before the Lord Lieutenant and the Magistrates at Wakefield, on Monday the 16th ultimo. But this charge we also positively deny. We have been guilty of no suppression. Every fact that has come within our knowledge, regarding that investigation, we have communicated with perfect impartiality. It is well known, that we have, week after week, called for the publication of the whole of the evidence, with a degree of perseverance amounting almost to pernacity; and in order to shew on which side the suppression lies, we now pledge ourselves, that if the correspondent of the Courier, who professes to be in possession of the evidence, will furnish us with a perfect copy of it, we will publish the whole document entire, without a single moment’s unnecessary delay. There is nothing that we more wish; and if the proposal be declined, the public will be at no loss to determine whether the suppression proceeds from the enemies or the friends of the Spy system.

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