Introduction, Part 1 to the Life & Works of
William Cobbett disliked Methodists and middlemen; he thought that the eating of potatoes was unhealthy, and, that the people of London were parasitic, living at the expense of the impoverished country people. Strange were some of Cobbett's thoughts; but his principal purpose in life, the "digging and rooting up of all corruptions," especially in public affairs, laid the ground work for the political reform that unfolded in England during the 19th century. The paper he started in 1802, and which he published with little interruption throughout the balance of his life, the Weekly Political Register, was widely read during its time by people of all stripes. As for government: it was, for Cobbett, but an agent of the "loyal club-mongers" who communicate their schemes to it. These loyal club-mongers then lived like fighting-cocks upon the labour of the rest of the community. That, fundamentally, government was a tyranny which saw to the "enriching and pampering of those who render no public service." A tyranny, which has "no enemy so formidable as the pen." Cobbett, at one point, for his troubles, got two years in Newgate (1810-12): he was not much deterred, he wrote on.2
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