Leeds Times (19/Dec/1840) - Incorporation of Huddersfield
Incorporation of Huddersfield.
It cannot fail to be gratifying to every man of intellect and virtue to observe that the inhabitants of this town are determined to obtain possession of their borough, and to govern themselves. 'They scornfully repudiate the threatened "protection"(?) of the "Dragon of Wantley," and his expensive, degrading, bludgeon police, and therefore, when in public meeting assembled, they all but unanimously resolved to petition the Queen for a Charter of Incorporation, At this meeting a straightforward and simple statement of their position was made to them, their judgment were appealed to in a manner which completely dumb-foundered a previously organised opposition, and they — feeling the proud response of new-born energies agitating their bosoms for freedom — answer like rational creatures — like men. Nearly three thousand householders, including the majority of the respectability of all parties have already signed the petition, although we are sorry to say a few of the quondom leaders still stand aloof from this justly popular object, but for which no doubt in future these obstructives will have to take their position in the rear. On Friday morning last, two precious documents, originating from some hole-and-corner, made their appearance on the walls of the town and neighbourhood, one pretending to be a petition of the "magistrates! bankers! merchants! and other rated inhabitants of the boroughs," to the Queen praying her Majesty not to grant a charter of incorporation, and the other stated that this petition was laying at the bookseller's shops and called upon the inhabitants to sign it. At first we thought that this was the burlesque of some wag, and in that sense it would not have been bad, but we are seriously informed that the petition is intended in earnest, which, of course, gives it a totally different aspect. 'The writer of this document is excessively stupid and ignorant, or he has made his calculation on the stupidity and ignorance of the burgesses, the document is too long for us to transcribe, but we will amuse our readers with its substance. These "magistrates, &c." begin by stating, with really surpassing modesty, to her Majesty that they transact business twice a week in Huddersfield in a most "satisfactory" manner! that the town is free from excitement! and they doubt the "propriety" of establishing the county constabutary! but believe that its "usefulness"! would be intercepted by making petty jurisdictions!! that they cannot elect their officers and govern themselves without quarrelling with each other, that the military might have to be called in to quell their riots and disturbances!! that they decidedly object to municipal corporations because they create (oh, the hypocrites,) dissensions, and because of the animosity and bad feelings which once existed in the borough !! and that they would therefore much prefer remaining as they are at present — "under the jurisdiction of the Riding magistrates!!!" Such are the objections which these sapient animals have thought proper to urge against the principle of local self-government, and they are worthy of the black corner from which they have emanated, for if they prove any thing, they prove that all political freedom is a curse, and that we ought at once to go back to the feudal system. Happy, however is it for mankind, that the age has gone by when the people could be induced to sign such a slavish and subservient document — they now publicly laugh it to scorn, and repudiate its exploded sentiments. We understand, however, that it has received about forty signatures, and that there is at least one just-ass, who is not an inhabitant of the borough! amongst the number. The individual who can sign such a document, commits political suicide, and he ought to wear upon his forehead, a brand as indelible and as scathing as that which the first murderer wore.