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The Bristolian.

March 30, 2010

Towards the end of January 1826 I again returned to the City of Bristol, but why or how I wended my course in this direction I cannot remember. For the first few weeks I kept house and home together raising the necessary funds by giving talks to the citizens of this great City. My first lecture was gratis and on the “Power of Memory” and held at the local Mechanics Institute in February of 1826. During April of that year I developed this theme still further and gave a lecture on ‘Mnemonics, as applied to the learning of modern languages,’ to a hall of over 300 people. Each paid a shilling to learn of the method that I used so effectively a few years earlier in Calais, whilst teaching the rudiments of the English language to the French. Advertisements in the Bristol Mirror were taken to encourage people to attend these lessons. This, as well as a very popular series of eight lectures on Biblical history helped to confirm my thoughts that the City of Bristol had sufficient population for me to make an independent living.

It was during these times that I acquired a feel for the common grievances of the good citizens and how they felt towards the incumbent Corporation. The plain fact is, up to the date of my unsolicited appearance in the Bristol Council Chamber and my unwelcome interference with the course of Magisterial incapacity the all potent municipality had for too long, had its own way, none daring to question its immaculacy or provoke its malevolence. The Aldermen were the Gogs and Magogs before whom the citizens bowed in humility, if not adoration; and it seemed that the slave drivers in Jamaica imagined that they had a prescriptive right to be slave drivers in Bristol. To such an extent had they assimilated their- dealings in the West Indies with their dealings in the capital of West England that their white slaves here had scarcely the courage to look at them in the face in assertion of their mere humanity! I had that courage, I claim no merit on that account; for, not being a Bristolian, and only a foreigner, I had the conviction that Bristol was but a portion of Britain and that the atmosphere of the British constitution and British law permeated the social system of even this benighted City.

With the welfare of my dear wife Elizabeth and baby daughter Eliza Annie, very much in mind an attempt to secure a more reliable income was undertaken; and on 28th May 1827, I printed the first issue of The Bristolian. From the beginning great care was taken not to, in anyway upset other established papers and in the first issue I declared that the paper had not originated with any proposed opposition to the periodical works already established in this City. Neither shall it be conducted with the acerbity which is ever calculated to excite inimical feelings and degrade that which should be devoted to the public service into a mere vehicle of personal enmity or party annoyance. This, at the time, was secretly my attempt to sideline any adverse attention by competitors from the unstamped nature of this publication. A battle that was forever at the front of my priorities in my battle for the freedom of the press.

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