COLLINS' LETTERS TO BIRMINGHAM WOMEN'S UNION
On the evening of Monday 18th March 1839 the Birmingham Women's Union held their weekly meeting at the Lawrence Street Chapel. There were few members present which the chairwoman Mrs Lapworth found suspicious, especially since she had heard there was "some secret influence at work, to damage their union." She then went onto read the following extracts from a letter received from Mr John Collins.
"The greatest excitement prevails throughout this part of the country, in consequence of my visit. Although the villages are small, there are many of them within a circuit twenty miles round this place, I go to two or three more every day, gaining great accessions to our strength.
"On Friday I delivered a lecture in the theatre, to the females, which was well filled, boxes, pit, and gallery, and goodly number on the stage; they formed a Female Radical Association, appointed a chairwoman, and a committee of twenty-six, and no doubt great good will be the result.
"The sufferings of the labouring classes are so great, and they have been so plundered of their right to common land, and, in many villages, of land left by charitable individuals, that their strongest feeling seems to me to be an expectation of, and, in some instances, a strong desire for an outbreak, that they may have revenge; this I, of course, repress, and explain how we may succeed."
Birmingham Journal dated 23 March 1839
At another weekly meeting of the Birmingham Women's Union held on Monday 24 June at the Public Office there was much loud applause when Miss Groves, the secretary, informed the ladies that John Collins had met with great success on his continuing campaign tour throughout Scotland having traveled 500 miles and attended 19 public meetings. She accordingly read out a letter received from him as follows:
"Glasgow, June 21, 1839
"To the Members of the Birmingham Female Women's Political Union.
"I thank you from my heart for your confidence, and beg to assure you that I felt highly gratified in reading in the Northern Star the resolution passed at your last meeting. If anything could give increased vigor to any one engaged in a public cause, it must be the encouraging smiles and cheers of the “fair sex” and while I did not need them to induce me to endeavour to ameliorate the condition of my fellow creatures, I beg most earnestly to assure you that I properly appreciate your approbation, and inform you that your example has been nobly followed by the women of Scotland, of whom I have much to tell you when I return. They have bound me to them in strong bonds – silken ones it is true; but only emblematical of the much stronger bonds of affection that must and shall unite the Radicals of Scotland and England, which union shall continue until tyranny shall fall, and liberty and prosperity be restored to our beloved country.
"Hoping soon to be among you.
"I beg to subscribe myself,
"Yours most sincerely,
Northern Star & Leeds General Advertiser dated 6 July 1839