'Sixty Years of an Agitator's Life' (7)
Home Up Rochdale Pioneers Leeds Co-op Jubilee Derby Co-op Jubilee Co-operation Bygones Public Speaking Among the Americans The Reasoner Miscellaneous Site Search Main Index


[Previous page]


IT is at once incredible and amusing to contemplate the primeval spiritual subjugation which parts of this little island are still under.  I was wandering in 1867 on the stormy coast of Cromer.  The boisterous sea visible there was once covered by cliff and forest.  Druidical temples, Aryan altars, villages and churches had all been beaten down by the fierce waters which now roll over their sites.  The noble church of lofty arches and majestic towers which now stands in Cromer would have been swept away ere now had not a stout sea wall protected it.  The great ocean, being free, had no doubt suggested to the inhabitants round about that thought ought to be free also.  I had never been in the place, but on the morning of my arrival it was noised abroad that I was the guest of a Quaker of repute thereabout.  On Sunday I attended church.  In a new town I take the first opportunity of hearing the most distinguished preacher in it.  Preachers of different denominations often utter noble sentiments in a noble way, and hearing them enables one better to appreciate the eclecticism of piety.  The preacher at the church was a grey-headed, dignified ecclesiastic in the maturity of his powers.  He was a dean who preached.  He said that there was a class of persons of high character, of perfect intellectual probity, who had that living morality which bound society together.  Yet they professed not the Christian name.  Nevertheless, it must be observed that, while morality bound man to the world, it was spiritual life which bound man to God.  The sentences were clearly cut, as though chiselled by the hand of Woolner.  Nor were the sentiments taken back again in any part of the discourse, as is often the case with some preachers.  One often hears a fine concession at the beginning of a sermon which is explained away at the conclusion.

    The next day it was represented to me that many inhabitants of the town, and especially the fishermen, would like to hear from me a lecture on the "Orators of the English Parliament."  A messenger was sent miles away to the nearest printing press, and early next morning, as I went down to the beach, I found neat little placards in every shop window announcing my lecture for the evening.  In some windows which faced the town two ways, placards were exhibited on each, announcing that I would speak in the evening.  Outside the Bible Society's Depot one of the bills appeared.  So amicable was everything, I thought I had alighted in an unfrequented corner of the Millennium! The fishermen's room was readily granted by two of them who had authority over it.  It was in that room that an eminent member of Parliament, Charles Buxton, used to deliver annual summaries of Parliamentary proceedings, which ranked among the classics of political criticism.  He was dead then; and a memorial window of great beauty of colour and design, which I was told cost a thousand guineas, had been put up in Cromer Church to his memory.  The clouded and chastened light which passed through the window recalled those fine sentiments he used to express, in which philosophy had softened and variegated the fierce light of the controversies of his day.

    Before noon a great change had come over Cromer; there was consternation in the place.  Muffled whisperings were heard behind every counter.  The vicar had been in the town.  The bill on the Bible Society's door had attracted his attention.  He did not know me, but he knew I was not one of the apostles.  Though my name is partly Biblical, the vicar had the announcement bearing it removed.  He went to the shopkeepers and requested them to take the bills from their windows, and not to go to the lecture.  He admitted my subject was not in itself objectionable, but then I might say something else in speaking upon it.  He was told that I regarded it as a breach of faith to announce one subject, and, after inciting people to come to hear that, to speak upon another.  Whether the vicar was convinced, I know not; but, as he did not call again at the places he visited to reverse his request, the bills were not replaced, and by the afternoon not a single copy was to be seen anywhere in the town.  Had Mr. Buxton, whose guest I had been, been living at hand, things would have been different.

    In the meantime I composed, in case the fishermen had a choir, a variation of one of Byron's Hebrew Melodies—beginning, as they say in chapel, at the second verse:

"Like the leaves of the forest when summer is green,
 Placards in the windows at sunrise were seen;
 Like the leaves of the forest when autumn has blown,
 The placards at sunset lay withered and strown.

 The vicar of Cromer came in with the blast,
 And spoke at the door of each shop as he past;
 And the hearts of the keepers waxed deadly and chill;
 Their souls but once heaved and thenceforward grew still."

    When I returned from a tour of inspection, I sent word to the fishermen who had let their rooms to me, that if they thought anything would happen to their families through their act, they were quite at liberty to recall it.  I thought it likely that the vicar might be the almoner of many kind-hearted and wealthy families in the neighbourhood, and the people might fear being passed over when they wanted help in the hard seasons that befell them.  "Tell the men," I said, "that I am no pedlar of opinions; I do not hawk my principles about the country; and if Cromer would rather I should not speak in the town, I had no wish to speak to unwilling ears."

   The stout fishermen probably reflected that they earned their bread in the tempest, by day and by night, holding their lives in their own hands, while the vicar passed his days secure from harm, and that they would get through my lecture as they had through other storms.  Hence they answered "they should light their best candles for Mr. Holyoake, and make their room as bright and cheerful as they could, if he chooses to come."  When nightfall arrived, I marched through the village with my host (whose Quaker blood was a little stirred) to lecture.  Not a soul was moving in Cromer.  Nearing the rooms, we observed a solitary man emerging from a cottage in the direction of the Lecture Room.  His back was made visible by a penny candle in the window.  "There does not appear," I said to my friend, "any great stampede to the lecture, but I shall deliver it to you, and our friend, whose back we have seen, should he arrive there."  On entering the room I was astounded by an immense shout of welcome.  The fishermen were there in force.  A respectable inhabitant of the place was voted to the chair, and a gracious little speech of introduction was made by the gentleman, Mr. Kemp, whose guest I was.

    I delivered my lecture.  As I explained the difference between oratory and mere public speaking, and the characteristics of Bright, Gladstone, Disraeli, Lowe, Bernal Osborne, Buxton, Sir Wilfred Lawson, Stansfeld, and others, and pointed out the gradations of that art by which men climb on phrases to power, signs of discernment arose sufficient to satisfy any speaker.  A reverend visitor, Mr. Valpy, whose father was a great classic authority, made a neat little speech at the end.

    We said not a word about the vicar.  I made no allusion to him, direct or indirect.  It is a long time since those little peculiarities of the ecclesiastical mind, which he had displayed, affected or concerned me; and the audience imagined I did not notice what he had done.  I doubt not he was a kind-hearted gentleman to whom many have been indebted for words of counsel and acts of humanity.  He was, perhaps, a little apt to forget that the people of Cromer were citizens as well as Christians, and had a right to know what affected them as Englishmen—that they needed to understand the secular merits of those great men who influence their destinies and make the English name distinguished on the earth.  The Cromer men had no doubt reasons for respecting the vicar in removing the placards which were distasteful to him, and respected themselves by giving a courteous hearing to what a stranger had to say to them.

    In any other town in England it is necessary to advertise a lecture two or three days; but in Cromer it is sufficient to advertise a lecture for three hours, and this may have been the reason why they took the placards out of the windows at midday.  However, to the inexperienced visitor, it seemed that Church courtesy in Cromer had contracted the qualities of the East wind, and dictation of the Romish type, which many thought obsolete in England, was still in force in that remote corner of East Anglia.


DURING several pleasant years I was secretary to a member of Parliament.  His residence being at a considerable distance from the House of Commons, he had no means of knowing when "the House was up."  Some days there would be an early "count out."  Most members daily leave the House during what is termed "dinner hours" to dine, but it sometimes happened that the House would be counted out in the dinner time.  Then the return journey to the House was needless.  A member in constant attendance at committees and Parliament would be glad to absent himself until later in the evening, when a division in which he was interested might be taken.  But though the House might adjourn before the usual time; there was no means of discovering this until he drove into sight of Palace Yard.  At that time the limelight was coming into use, and I thought it might be made available to prevent this inconvenience to members.  The present Duke of Rutland was then at the Board of Works, and I addressed to him a letter on the subject which remained some years in the archives of the Board of Works, and is probably there now.  I have no copy of the letter, but I well remember its purport.  It was to this effect:—

"Being secretary of a member of Parliament, I have observed that considerable inconvenience arises by members having no means of knowing when the House is up, at times when they are unable to foresee it.  There are no means by which a member can know it, unless he provides some one to send him a telegram to an address which he would have to renew every night, according to the place where he expected to be after leaving the House sitting.  If he dined at one of the great clubs, he would learn when the House was up there, by members coming in who had recently left the House, or from the arrival of the hourly report of the proceedings in Parliament.  But he might be dining four or five miles away, and must drive to one of the clubs to get the information.  It is true that in Palace Yard gas lights, which have three arms, have only the centre one left burning—to indicate to persons arriving there that the House is up.  But any one must drive to the bottom of Parliament Street before the single light can be discerned.  It is a probable calculation that many members in the course of a session drive five hundred miles before they can reach Palace Yard to learn that the House is up.  Reporters and others who have business with members at the House at night are subject to similar inconvenience.  All this might be prevented if a limelight were placed at the summit of the Clock Tower.  It could be seen six or seven miles in most directions, and members could learn at will whether the House was sitting or not."

    This letter was longer than would seem necessary; but it was needful to explain in detail the inconvenience to which members were subjected which might be so simply obviated.  It was necessary to show that all the existing means of information were taken into account by the writer, for if any one had been omitted the suggestion might be thought based upon insufficient information—the official mind being always quick to show that there is no necessity for doing what it does not want to do.  Lord John Manners, the name by which the Duke of Rutland was then known, acknowledged the receipt of the communication, but without indicating whether it would be considered.  Nothing came of it until Mr. Ayrton became Commissioner of the Board of Works.  Though he excelled all Ministers in making himself unpleasant in debate, he also excelled in being the most vigilant of servants of the public in Parliament, being tireless in his attendance and reading more Parliamentary Papers than any four members.  He found my letter in the pigeon-holes of the Board of Works, and put up the limelight on the Clock Tower, which has made the House of Parliament as it were a beacon light visible all over London during the night sittings.  An article upon it in The Times, after Mr. Ayrton had ceased to be Commissioner, giving a description of this Tower light, began by the remark that "a former Commissioner of Works found the suggestion in the office."  The article was evidently written by a well-informed but reticent writer.  It implied that the Commissioner who put up the light did not originate it, but it was not said how the suggestion came into the office, or who sent it there.


MY second candidature was in Birmingham.  It was constantly said that the working class had no reasonable measures to propose which the middle class would not pass.  This was not, and is not, true; for the master class no more feels as the workmen feel than the old aristocratical class before 1830 felt, or as the middle class proved they did, when afterwards they came into power.  And if it were true that the middle class would now do all the working men want, it is better that the working men should do it for themselves.  For these reasons I sought the opportunity of addressing my own townsmen, to whom I could naturally speak with most freedom, upon the conditions and consequences of working-class representation. 

    In my address delivered in the Town Hall I said—

    "More than thirty years ago I was a member of your Political Union, and since
that time there has been no combination (sometimes called "conspiracy") in this country to bring general enfranchisement about, which I have not, by speech and pen, advocated without intermission.  Now we have a considerable extension of the suffrage, there are things of evil to cancel, and conditions of progress to create.
    "We have, though limited, a 'political commonwealth' at last, and one result is that working men will, sooner or later, find their way into Parliament.  Venturous of it myself, it is my townsmen whom I address.  My ancestors lie here; I know most of, and naturally care much for, Birmingham.  In all my writings I have looked on public affairs in the light of the workshop.  A Democracy is a great trouble.  Everybody has to be consulted.  The Conservative is enraged to have this necessity put upon him; the Whigs never meant it to come to this; and I am not sure that many of the Radicals like it.
    "Several things will happen now.

  1. "The Irish Church will go.  Well I remember the horror with which the news was received in the workshops of this town of the massacre of Rathcormac, when a clergyman of the Irish Protestant Church had the sons of the poor Widow Ryan shot before her eyes for the non-payment of tithes.  The middle class mother cannot feel resentment as a poor woman can; she can afford to pay tithes, and no dragoon shoots her children down.  But Widow Ryan's sons were labourers—they belonged to us.  The shriek of the mother reached us.  We in England could do nothing to avert or avenge their murder.  But let us not have the baseness to forget it.  Now that slow, tardy, long-lingering retribution has put the Irish Church in the noose, let its hope it will be allowed a good drop.

  2. "We shall have compulsory education.  There is no ascendency for the people without sense.  We live in a world where the battle of life can no longer be fought by fools; and the child who is turned out into it ignorant is bound, hand and foot, in the conflict.  We shall put away with contempt that pitiful, fitful, partial, mendicant instruction with which voluntaryism has cheated and degraded us so long.

  3. "Pauperism will be put down as the infamy of industry.  A million paupers—a vast standing army of mendicants—in the midst of the working class, depending for support upon the middle class, is a reproach to every workman now.  Every law which deprives Industry of a fair chance must be attacked; whatever facilitates the accumulation of immense fortunes and tends to check the natural distribution of property must be stopped.

  4. "We shall have the ballot.  Open voting is merely an insolent device for getting at those electors who do their duty.  The poll-book is a penal list, first made publishable by those who intended to act upon it—and it is acted upon by all who are enraged at defeat."

    It does good to create a popular belief that the day of progress has arrived; that men need no longer despair of improvement, or seek to obtain it by conflict of arms, as they were formerly justified in doing under the hopelessness of obtaining it by reason.  In my address I ventured to say that the Irish Church would go; that we should have compulsory education; that pauperism would be regarded as the infamy of industry; that elections would be decided by ballot.  I had heard the four things I had spoken of, hoped for, agitated for, and they seemed no nearer, and were believed to be no nearer, than the right of women to sit in Parliament is now.  Yet each of these things, then regarded as words of Utopian enthusiasm, have come to pass.

    The object of my being a candidate at Birmingham was to test and advocate the question of working-class representation.  At that time there was no strong feeling on the part of the working class in favour of the representation of their order.  Had I sought I could have obtained a sufficient support from Conservatives to have embarrassed the prospects of Mr. Bright or his colleague, and the Conservatives would have obtained the credit of supporting a principle for which they did not care and would disown when their own end was served.  I might have obtained some publicity useful to a candidate by such an alliance, but it never seemed to me to be any more right in politics than in morals to do evil that good may come.  For thirty-six years the representation of Birmingham had been in the hands of the middle class, and though the working class were twenty times more numerous than they, it had never occurred to the middle class that the industrious majority were entitled to any personal representation.  Certainly they never offered or facilitated it.


A FEW years ago, London was startled by the discovery of a murder in Whitechapel which recalled the Red Barn murder of Maria Martin, by William Corder, half a century before.  A woman was shot in the rear of some business premises in Whitechapel and buried there, and her murderer, one Wainwright, was caught in the streets twelve months later, conveying the body to another hiding-place.

    Some time previously a public writer, for whom I had much regard, became unwell.  One day a lady came to me at Cockspur Street saying that he was very ill, that she was his wife and needed aid for his succour.  She met my offer to visit him by assuring me that he had a malignant fever, and I had better not call.  This was to deter me from calling, but I did not suspect it.  Soon after she came again in deep mourning, in the character of his widow.  She was a handsome, voluptuous woman, with great dramatic talent.  Her speech, tears, and gestures were very eloquent, and I promised to ask for subscriptions for her.  This entertaining applicant gave me to understand that she had been upon the stage in earlier years, and certainly she showed qualifications for acting which warranted what she said.  I knew that my lost friend, who was really dead, had at one time £30,000 in a public company, which yielded 10 to 12 per cent., when he lived opulently in a house in Piccadilly.  Afterwards his income fell to zero.  In his prosperous days he had given eighty guineas for a jewelled watch, and presented it to Samuel Bailey, of Sheffield, in testimony of appreciation of his philosophical writings.

    In the end I fulfilled my promise to the distressed lady in black, and published the substance of the story told to me by her.  The eventual result was some £40 or £50.  The first and second £5 I remitted to her.  The lady paid me a further visit of thanks, and asked me to call upon her and take breakfast at a suburban cottage, at which she resided with a female friend, as it would save my time in writing, and I could bring any further subscription which might be to hand.  Not wishing any personal acquaintance, which might raise expectations of aid beyond my means of procuring, I asked my brother Austin to make a call at his convenience, and leave further remittances for her; and sometimes a clerk in my employ was sent.  I never went myself.

    It was fortunate I did not.  On the apprehension of Wainwright, I saw in the papers accounts that his brother—who was afterwards transported for his complicity in the murder—was supporting a mistress, and was frequently at the very house to which I had been invited.  Had I accepted the invitation to breakfast, I might have been found there by the police officers who went to the place in search of the brother.  As the murderer was a lecturer at institutes of the kind I had promoted and been present at myself, my intimacy with him would have been inferred.  Had my name been mentioned as that of a visitor at Rosamond Cottage when the address with other interesting particulars were published, I should have found it difficult to persuade everybody of the disinterested nature of my visits, especially as I could only have explained that my business there was to take money to a lady who had invited me there.  My brother had simply called and left the sums I gave him, and neither of us suspected that she was not the wife of my friend.

    Before the Whitechapel affair transpired, the enterprising pretender had written to several public persons on her own account.  As it was my practice always to print in the paper I edited all sums for whatever purpose sent, the "widow" could see who were the friends who had answered my appeal, and she wrote to them and others whom she thought had knowledge of her alleged husband, enclosing what I had written upon him on her behalf.  She was what the Scots would call an "ingenious body."  All her letters to me bore a deep mourning border.  Several members of Parliament wrote to me to ask whether they were warranted in giving money.  In my replies I said I had no knowledge
of the new applications made to them, nor was there any public claim on them, though I understood there was need of help.  Several cheques were sent to me for her.  When I found that I had been misled, I gave notice to all who afterwards wrote to me, and publicly cancelled my appeal and informed the applicant to that effect.

Sir Alexander Cockburn

    The judge at the trial of Wainwright was Lord Chief Justice Cockburn.  The summing-up of some judges is often so learnedly elaborate, involved, dreary, and inartistic, that it is a species of penal infliction on the jury and only merciful to the doomed, upon whom it acts as the drugs given to the Suttee, which stupefies and makes insensible to the fatal fire.  Sir John Holker, as Attorney-General, conducted the prosecution.  Sir John was a Conservative.  It was frequently said there was a good deal in him, but it did not come out on this occasion.  Mr. Moody made the speech for the defence, in which he said nothing wrong and nothing strong.  There was no glamour of light, or pathos, or ingenuity in any one.

    But when Lord Cockburn rose, the hand of the master appeared.  The ornateness which he sometimes showed in speeches out of court was chastened down.  His sentences were expressed with pure nervous force.  Nothing was repeated, no phrase nor even idea recurred.  The story of the evidence was clear, direct, vivid, brief, complete, and conclusive.  The first sentences of the summing-up against Wainwright had death in them.  The jury could see, as in a panorama, the perpetration of a foul murder; the source of the blow, and the ghastly procedure of successive concealments, as plainly as Hamlet displayed the process of the death of his father to his mother and the king.  In sleuth-hound sentences the stealthy steps of the brutal, calculating murderer were tracked.  Wainwright must have seen the noose in every passage.  Lord Cockburn's address to the jury was an unequalled piece of forensic reasoning, so far as any charge of the kind has come within my knowledge.  Its coherence was not only evident to the jury—it was never out of sight.  It had picturesque terms which had colour in them.  The crisp, penetrating voice of Cockburn suited the finished structure of his address.  Juries charged by him were instructed; the prisoner at the bar, who had taste, was afterwards proud to have been condemned with such classic art, and the sentiment of the Court was raised above the level of crime by the genius of the judge.


A GOOD deal of reporting has fallen to me in my time, chiefly of the descriptive kind.  During several years that I had opportunity of hearing nightly the speeches made in Parliament, I found that all the new ideas expressed there could easily be taken down in long hand, since they occurred seldom and were far between.  A newspaper, not having space to report everything said, might entertain and much instruct its readers by giving merely the new ideas of the debates, or remarkable ways of presenting a familiar case.  Once a Cabinet Minister, who was going into the provinces to make a speech he wished to see reproduced in London papers, asked me what he should do to secure that what he said should not be open to misinterpretation.  I answered that, if he was sure of saying exactly what he intended, he might ask the editor of the leading local paper to send a reporter to take down his speech exactly as he made it.  Good stenographers so abound that he would get what he wanted.  But were he doubtful of being quoted at full length in the London press, he had better take a summary reporter with him, since a verbatim reporter, by his habit of literalness, would lack the faculty of bringing into focus the genius of a speech.  To produce a telling summary the reporter need not be able to make the speech, but he must be able to measure the mind and discern the purpose of the speaker.

    When in America in 1879, I found in some parts a class of Reversible Reporters.  After an interview I found next day in the paper sentiments put down to me the very reverse of what I had expressed.  Once I tried the experiment of saying the opposite of what I meant, and next day it came out all right.  It was not perversity nor incapacity which misrepresented me, it was owing to professional confidence in young reporters that they knew better than any speaker did what he ought to say.

    Once a friend of mine, a Jew, who knew this world as well as the Talmud, was the proprietor of a newspaper in a country town, within an hour's ride from London, asked me to come down and give an account of laying the foundation stone of a new town building and report the speeches at the banquet which was to follow at night.  Some members of Parliament came down with whose ways of thought I was familiar, and I made summaries of their speeches which I knew they would be willing to circulate among their constituents.  If the object is to promote the circulation of the paper, the effective portion of what a speaker says must be brought out, or there will be no orders for copies sent to the office.  A reporter may make a clever report of a speech and prefix it with the remark that "the meeting was small."  There are no copies of that paper bought by the speaker or his friends for circulation.  If the hall is crowded it is well to say so.  But no public persons care to circulate information that few care to listen to them.  If the object is to discredit a speaker the question is one of policy not circulation.

    Now, there was a rival paper in the town to which I went.  The proprietor of the paper I represented wished his paper to excel that, which was not difficult, as it was sleepy and unenterprising.  So I wrote a leader upon the speeches at the stone-laying.  A speaker who has ability is pleased to see it discerned and handsomely acknowledged.  A man who acquits himself well may without vanity be pleased with the credit he has fairly earned; and he who does not excel in expression may have merit of character and purpose to which it is the interest of the public to accord recognition.

    The banquet in the evening was prolonged and boisterous.  No reporter was present from the rival paper and I was instructed to report the speeches.  On seeing the composition of the guests, I consulted with my Jewish friend, who, like all his race, was shrewd and foreseeing.  We examined the toast list and then I inquired the characteristics of the speakers, their manner of mind, peculiarity of expression and antecedents of family, public service, and other particulars.  One old farmer was reputed to represent a generation of predecessors who had held the same land from the Norman Conquest.  By the time the toasts began the whole company was more hilarious than coherent.  Some never could speak in public, and little was expected from them.  A few when they began to speak were unable to stop.  Some had forgotten what they intended to say, and others had nothing to forget.  Some could speak better before the banquet began than after, and some acquired boldness in consequence of it, and made up by audacity what they lacked in relevance.  By eleven o'clock I had sent out speeches for them all, and by midnight their orations were all in type, and the paper was out in the early morning.  The town was astonished at the enterprise to which it was unaccustomed.  The principal orator had a speech of some brightness to read at his breakfast, of which he was unconscious when he retired to rest.  My friend the proprietor of the paper had misgivings when he read the report.  He said the town would be surprised that such speeches were made.  I answered, "the town was not present.  The guests who did not speak were not in a condition to know what was said, and, take my word for it, no speaker will disown what he is reported to have said."  And no one did.  As a leader upon the proceedings of the day confirmed and illustrated the report by descriptive characteristics of the speakers, which the town knew to be true, my friend received many congratulations on the variety and vivacity of that issue of his Gazette.  The office was not rich, and for all the writing? from midday till midnight my remuneration was but thirty shillings, but I served my friend and increased for that week the reputation of his paper and its commercial value when he transferred it, as it was his intention shortly after to do.

    "Reporting speeches which never were made" is a title open to the objection of being incomplete.  The speeches were made, but not in the manner which met the public eye.  Two or three of the festive orators had sagacity and brightness, though, on that occasion, not of the consecutive kind.  Every provincial assembly of speakers furnishes instances of native wit or idiomatic humour.  If these points are preserved in the report of the proceedings, an interesting monograph of the meeting is the result.  Every night in Parliament occur notable relevant passages, occasional flashes of common sense, sometimes overlaid with words, and sometimes insufficiently expressed, of which an epitome would be good reading.  Every day the Parliamentary reports of speeches presents them in a more effective form than the hearer was sensible of during the delivery.  When The Times sought to destroy the popularity of Orator Hunt of a former day, it reported his speeches verbatim.  There are many speakers in Parliament who would suffer in public estimation if their repetitions and eccentricities of expression were recorded.  On one memorable occasion the Morning Star reported a passage from a speech of Mr. Disraeli's, with ail its bibulous aspirates set forth, which few forgot who read it.  It was on the night of his famous financial speech when Lord John Manners carried into the House five glasses of brandy and water to refresh him—which got at last into his articulation.  The late Sir John Trelawny told me that he had preserved notes of speeches made after midnight in the House of Commons over a period of twelve years.  At late sittings scarcely a reporter remains, and the necessity of going to the press with some account of the proceedings obliges the editor to give but a brief summary in which the speeches are not only divested of flesh and blood, but are almost boneless.  Yet things are said at those times which the public would read with amazement both for their instruction and their boldness.  Sir John said he did not intend his notes to be published until after his death.  It will be a remarkable volume when it appears.

    A London daily paper of age and pretension, often describes speeches of note which are never found in the report in its columns.  Sometimes it quotes sentences of distinction which nowhere appear in the speech in its pages.  Only one paper gives a full Parliamentary report.  Once five papers did it.  On the great debate when the Taxes on Knowledge was the question before the House, five daily papers gave full reports.  So marvellously accurate were they, that there was scarcely a variation of a word in them.  I heard all the speeches and compared the reports the next day.  Competition in reporting produced a perfection which exists in London no longer.


THIS chapter illustrates the wisdom of the proverb that zeal without experience is as fire without light.

    It was an early ambition of mine to have a publishing house in Fleet Street.  There Richard Carlile had established the right of heretical opinion to publicity.  I was for continuing it there.  The Duke of Wellington headed a society to drive Carlile from the street.  He did not intimidate him, nor was the society able to remove him except by procuring his further imprisonment.  Resentment at this incited me to succeed him.  Fleet Street was one of the highways of the world.  A million curious people pass through it every year, of every travelling nationality under the sun.

    We had won the right to say what we pleased, and the question arose, 'What did we please to say, and how were we going to say it?'  In the combat for the right to speak, very picturesque invective had been used.  In the use of that weapon our adversaries much excelled us; but, we being the party of the minority, the blame of employing it fell upon us.  When we had won the field we could hold it only by fairness of speech, the "outward and visible sign" of just intention and just principles.

    William and Robert Chambers had established a secular publishing house in the High Street of Edinburgh.  I proposed to my brother Austin that we should do the same thing for Freethought, in Fleet Street, London.  The printing business was to be his—the publishing and its risks mine.  The responsibility of capital, trade salaries, rent, and taxes remained with me.  My name alone was on every bond.

    Mr. James Watson had been, since the days of Julian Hibbert, the publisher of Carlile's works, taking like peril.  As the new house in Fleet Street would necessarily affect his business, which was his only means of subsistence, I asked him what would compensate him for loss of trade thus caused.  He said £350, which, with what he had, would provide for him in the future.  According to the accepted morality of trade, I was under no obligation to consider his interests.  A man sets up in business next door to one in the same line, doing what he can to lure away his neighbour's custom, and it is not counted dishonourable.  It seemed baseness to me, and I promised Mr. Watson the money.  This proved an unfortunate thing for me.  When he came to know the indispensable business expenses of the new house were £300 a year, he did not see how I was to meet them, apart from fulfilling my promise to him, and, being of an apprehensive nature, he could not conceal his misgivings; and as he knew the chief country agents upon whom I depended, his fears transpired in personal communications with them and to my chief friends whom he knew, they having as much regard for him as for me.  The effect of this was disastrous on a young business.  My solicitor, who had advanced me purchase money of the lease, asked me what I was to have for the money to be paid to Mr. Watson.  He thought me imprudent.  I had nothing to produce, save the right of selling his books, which never yielded £50.  Nevertheless I kept my promise.  My brother Austin was as solicitous as I was to do it.  Seeing Mr. Watson on the opposite side of the street, looking in his wistful way at the house, I sent my brother with the only £60 in hand to go over and pay him the final instalment, which he did.  The transaction was in every way unfortunate to me, but I never regretted it.  Nor do I now.  The curious thing was that no one respected me for it, or believed it, and no one ever made any acknowledgment of it, not even Mr. Watson.  Mr. W. J. Linton in his "Life of Watson" omits it, although it made the end of Watson's days pleasant.  It was treated as incredible, and for the first time I came to understand the sagacious maxim of the Italians, "Beware of being too good."  I had known few persons in danger of transgressing the rule, and did not suspect I was one.

    A valued colleague, Charles Southwell, took a very different view from Mr. Watson as to the profits obtainable in Fleet Street, and thought I was making riches there, as many others thought, so what was loss tome was envy to others.  Southwell published pamphlets on my prosperity.  One day I sent for him, showed him the bonds I had signed, and that I owed all the money he thought had been given me.  His exclamation was a full acquittal—"Jacob, you are a damned fool!" I asked him to publish it.  "No, I won't own I was wrong; but I will no more say what I have said," was all I could get.  The financial part of the story may end here.  The £250 given me after the Cowper Street debate, £650 given me subsequently, a gift of £250 and all I could earn by lectures and writing—over the needs of my household—were all lost.

    Propagandism is not, as some suppose, a "trade," because nobody will follow a "trade" at which you may work with the industry of a slave and die with the reputation of a mendicant.  The motives of any persons to pursue such a profession must be different from those of trade, deeper than pride, and stronger than interest.

    Afterwards there came mischief of another kind, which I had bespoken without knowing it.  As a co-operator I was an advocate for profit-sharing, and I made this arrangement with those I employed.  As the law then stood, this made them my partners, and gave them an equal claim with me to the property.  One who had some knowledge of law, and was hostile to me, incited two servants to act on their "rights."  They might have carted the stock away, and could only be prevented by force, which I had reason to avoid.  An assault case would then have come on at the Mansion House which would have had an effect bad for the secular cause.  The addresses of my friends were copied from my books, and letters sent to them, which cost me for many years many valued friendships, for reasons I could not answer—not knowing them.  The manager of the newsagents' department was instructed that he might take away the business books, and did it.  It was two years before I could recover them by process of law.  Then I had to keep outside the court because, were I called upon to give evidence, I could not take the oath, and that fact would have set the court against me.  The judge said that had I come into court he would have given the man twelve months' imprisonment. [24]  This affair put me to £200 expense—besides losses through having no proof to adduce of the balances of newsagents due to me.  Had the law which, later, Mr. Wm.  Scholefield, M.P. for Birmingham, caused to be passed, been in force then, I should not have been at the mercy of enemies.  Now-a-days, an employer giving profits to servants does not constitute them partners.

    Just then, when my fortunes were least to my mind, Mr. Ross, at that time an optician of repute, learning that I was being unfairly used, came down and gave me a cheque for £250.  That was a bright, unparalleled morning which I shall never forget until remembrance of all things fades.

    Despite all difficulties, "147, Fleet Street" was kept in force from 1853 to 1861.  Its objects were—

1.  Promoting the solution of public questions, on secular grounds, apart from theology.
2.  Obtaining equal civil rights for all excluded from them by conscientious opinion not recognised by the State.
3.  Maintaining a publishing organisation which should influence public affairs.
4.  Maintaining a centre of personal communication open to publicists at home and from abroad.
5.  Stimulating the free search for truth, without which it is unattainable—the free utterance of the result, without which search is useless—the free criticism of it, without which truth must remain uncertain—the fair action of conviction, without which public improvement is impossible.
6.  Maintaining an organ which should be open to all writers, without regard to coincidence of opinion, provided there was general relevance and freedom from odious personalities.

    The shop was made bright, and, by removal of partitions, spacious.  All new books of progress were on sale, and advertised in papers of the house without cost to the authors.  A large room was fitted up for meetings and for the use of visitors.  In each panel hung a portrait of some eminent writer.  Visitors from every part of the world interested in New Thought came and found information respecting all lecture halls and places they wished to see.  We published a catalogue of all the chief works of advanced thinkers (giving the prices and the names of the publishers to promote their sales), by whomsoever issued.  No other house ever printed a catalogue like it.  The house was an Institute.  There have been other houses in Fleet Street since with similar objects, but none like it—none having the same features.  The main object was the advancement of new opinion: business was an appendage to be well attended to; but it stood in the second place.

    When the peace of 1856 was proclaimed—though the great nations of the Continent were left still enslaved—we illuminated in front of the house those nobly reproachful words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, which said:

"It is no peace.
 Annihilated Poland, stifled Rome,
 Dazed Naples, Hungary fainting 'neath the throng,
 And Austria wearing a smooth olive leaf
 On her brute forehead, while her troops outpress
 The life from Italy."

These words were read by a quarter of a million of people.  Every newspaper in London agreed that this was the sole illumination which expressed the political truth of the hour.  These things could never have been done save in a house standing in one of the highways of the world, where those must pass whose eyes it was worth while engaging, and where nothing can well be ignored which was done.  On other public occasions Garibaldian and Italian flags greeted memorable processions.

    In 1857 there was the Day of Humiliation proclaimed on account of the Indian Mutiny.  Instead of joining in it, a placard appeared in our windows which attracted crowds of readers.  It was entitled, "Objections to the Humiliation."

"1.  It is an ineffective proceeding, seeing that temporal deliverance is not to be  obtained by intercession of Heaven.
2.  It is offensive, as imputing to the judicial act of God the blunders of the East India Company.
3.  It is impolitic, if we have enemies in India, to give them the satisfaction of thinking that they have brought Great Britain to confess 'humiliation.'"

    Without a publishing house we could not have rendered the service in the Repeal of the Taxes upon Knowledge mentioned in a previous chapter.  In the affair of the opposition to the Conspiracy Bill, the committee met in the Fleet Street house, as did the Garibaldi Committee at the time when the British Legion were sent out to Italy.  Then, for several days, a committee of soldiers sat in the visitors' room, and the shop was constantly crowded with Garibaldians who volunteered to join the Legion.  My brother was as much occupied as I was.  This was international service, but it was not business.

    We published works for Mazzini, Robert Owen, Kossuth, Louis Blanc, Professor Newman, Dr. Arnold Rouge, January Searle, Major Evans Bell, William Maccall, W.  J.  Birch, and many others.

    I had a bust of Kossuth made by a Hungarian sculptor, and one of Mazzini by Bizzi.  The original of Mazzini was purchased by Mr. Ashurst.  The mould, which cost me £7, was never returned to me by the bust maker.  It was said it had been broken.  A few years later I saw several busts in a window cast in my mould, which I judge still exists.

    We printed and published also the "Manifesto of the Republican Party," by Kossuth, Ledru Rollin, and Mazzini.  Though written by Mazzini, he modestly, as was his wont, put his name last.  All the publications I issued bore my imprint as printer as well as publisher, for the law makes the printer responsible.  Were there no printing of books, there could be no publishing of books.  The publisher may be a nominal person, of residential address unknown; but the printer is real, and commonly has a plant of type which may be confiscated, while he himself can readily be found and incarcerated.  The law aims mostly to intimidate the printer.  I, therefore, took the responsibility of the printer as well as publisher.

    Julian Hibbert gave Carlile £1,000 with which to furnish his shop when he opened it, and he had like sums from him on other occasions for publishing purposes.  Notwithstanding the vicissitudes which befell us, we should have succeeded in a "business point of view" had we had money sufficient to continue when hostilities were surmounted.  As it was, we did enough to justify the expectation of usefulness which induced so many to support the undertaking.

    When we opened this house the voice of the Socialist was silent in the land and the watch-fires of the Chartist were extinct.  As far as we were able, we intended to maintain the claim of Socialists and Chartists and some other causes for which they cared not.  We cared for political freedom at home and abroad, for unless it prevails abroad it can never be secure at home.  There is an aristocracy of sex quite as offensive as an aristocracy of peers.  Manhood suffrage was popular with the Chartists, but they cared nothing for women's enfranchisement.  In a passage which I quote from a manifesto of Kossuth, Rollin, and Mazzini, which did but express our ambition:—

"A great movement must have an arm to raise the flag, a voice to cry aloud—The hour has come! We are that arm and that voice.  .  .  .  Advanced Guard of the Revolution, we shall disappear amid the ranks on the day of the awakening of the peoples.  .  .  .  We are not the future; we are its precursors.  We are not the democracy; we are an army bound to clear the way for democracy."

    It was my intention to "disappear in the ranks."  As soon as I had extinguished all the liabilities I had incurred, I volunteered to hand over the place to the promoters.  I thought if others had the profit which might accrue they would continue the work without direction.  This was my mistake.  To me it was of no consequence who had the advantage if the house was maintained.  But nobody believed this.

    Freethought is of the nature of intellectual Republicanism.  All are equal who think, and the only distinction is in the capacity of thinking.  I never set up as a chief.  I never talked of loyalty to me, but of loyalty to principle alone.  In freethought there is no leadership save the leadership of ideas.  I went into this undertaking with this conviction, and as I went in I came out.


THIS chapter describes another instance of work which, my being of the Secularistic persuasion, I was incited to attempt.  In my Christian days I had been taught that the safety of my own soul was the supreme object I should keep before me; but experience showed me that the human welfare of others was a more honourable solicitude, and more profitable to them.

    It has been the custom of the Government, since 1858, to instruct her Majesty's Secretaries of Embassy and Legation to prepare "Reports on the State of Manufactures and Commerce Abroad."  It seemed to me that the same persons might collect information of not less importance to working men.  At times, during several years, I made attempts to get this done.  Through Mr. Milner Gibson, I obtained a copy of the original circular of instruction for the preparation of the manufacturers' reports on commerce, as I intended to base on them a plea for reports on labour.

    At length, in April, 1869, Lord Clarendon being Foreign Minister, whose generous sympathy with those who live by industry was known, I concluded he might, on due representation, make this concession.  It was then I wrote to Mr. Bright, whose attention was always given to proposals which could be shown to be reasonable, useful, and practical; for that which is reasonable may not be useful, and that which is useful may not be practical, while a project which is at once relevant, beneficial, and possible, is self-commended.  Seeing me next midnight at the House of Commons, he called me to him, saying, "Tell me now what you want."  On hearing it, he answered, "Write me a letter with your reasons in it, and I will give it to Lord Clarendon."  By the courtesy of Mr. William White, chief doorkeeper of the House, I wrote in his room the letter' the same night, and posted it in the Lobby before two o'clock.  The next day (April 19, 1869), Mr. H. G. Calcraft (Mr. Bright's secretary, he being then a Minister) wrote to say, "Mr, Bright would ask Lord Clarendon to take into consideration my suggestions."  On April 21st following, Mr. Calcraft again wrote, "by Mr. Bright's request, to say that Lord Clarendon thought my proposal an admirable one, and that he had given instructions that the information may be obtained from the several Legations."  My letter upon which Lord Clarendon acted set forth that workmen needed information of the condition of labour markets abroad as much as their employers.  Strikes against reduction of wages take place, which reduction is often owing to competition abroad, but is not believed, owing to the knowledge upon which the employer acts being unknown to the men.  Authentic information accessible to trade unionists would be instructive and useful.  Emigration is promoted by Government.  Some who go out suffer great disappointment from want of knowledge of the right places to which to go.  This becoming known, many are deterred from emigrating, and thus miss good opportunities of advantage through ignorance of where the right labour markets in other countries lie.  In Turkey 6,000 stone-masons were suddenly wanted for one of the Sultan's new palaces, while masons were emigrating to countries where stones were not used in buildings.  I enumerated certain kinds of information secretaries of Embassy and Legation could furnish from the countries in which they were stationed.

    Questions to which I asked answers were:—

  1. What was the state of the labour market? What openings were there, if any? And what kind of workmen were wanted?

  2. How would English workmen be hired and housed? What kind of dwellings would they find? What wages would they be offered? What rent would they have to pay? In what quarters would they have to dwell, in healthy or unhealthy places? Would they find tenements available—ventilated, drained, and free from air poisoning?

  3. What was the purchasing power of money in other countries? All prices should be reduced to English values.  A workman at home earning £2 a week, on hearing he could earn £6 a week abroad, would resolve to go out; whereas the cost of food, clothing, and rent might be thrice as high as in England, and his £6 in a new country might go no farther than £2 at home.

  4. What is the dietary and habits to which an Englishman must conform in another country, as respects health-preserving power.  Should a workman live in some places abroad as he lived in England, he would be dead in twelve months.  Workmen who have overcome every industrial disadvantage and have raised themselves to competence abroad, yet rush down the inclined plane of excess, the bottom of which is social perdition.  A report which afterwards came from Egypt said "Spirits must be avoided.  Temperate workmen keep their health well.  The intemperate die."  The report from Reunion said, "Rum is rank poison to the European.  None who contract the habit of drinking it can remain in this country and live."  These are torpedo sentences which arrest the attention of the unthinking transgressor.  In the mining districts of Alabama night air is deadly.

  5. School questions need also to be asked.  If an emigrant took out a family, what education could he get for his children?

  6. What is the standard of skill among native artizans with whom the Englishman would have to compete? Do they put their character into their work, or are they without artizan pride? Would they make a stand against doing bad work as they would against bad wages? In what degree would good quality in work have effect in raising wages? A workman might deteriorate among new comrades if they were shabby, bungling, careless workmen.

    All these questions were not contained in my first letter.  They were increased by permission of Lord Clarendon, as mentioned hereafter.  The additions incorporated were three—(a) those relating to health-preserving power abroad, (b) to means of education of children, (c) to the quality of artizan skill.

    A few days after these suggestions were made (April 26), Sir Arthur (then Mr.) Otway informed me that "he was to state that Lord Clarendon, who fully shared my views as to the interest and importance of such information, had received my suggestions with much pleasure, and that it was his lordship's intention to instruct her Majesty's Secretaries of Legation to furnish reports on this subject, which Lord Clarendon proposed eventually to present to Parliament in a collective form, which he hoped might meet the objects indicated in my letter."  When the first volume of these "Reports upon the Condition of the Working Classes Abroad" appeared, they received from the New York Tribune the name of the "People's Blue Book," given, I believe, by Mr. G.  W.  Smalley.  The volume was found to be of unexpected interest, and abounding in curious information.  Some Secretaries of Embassy excelled in brightness, variety, and relevance.  As each volume appeared, I wrote a letter in The Times describing it.  On April 13, 1870, and on September 26, 1871, leaders in The Times were written, illustrating the value of the reports, concurring also in my representations of their usefulness.  Lord Clarendon was pleased to express the satisfaction with which he read my first letter to The Times.  His death unfortunately occurred soon after.

    In Lord Clarendon's instruction to the Secretaries of Legation, I observed that he had changed my phrase "purchasing power of money" into "the Purchase power of money."  "Purchasing power" was a phrase new to the Foreign Office, nor was I aware that it had been used in this financial sense before I employed it.  It seemed a fair form of the participle.  The term afterwards came into general use, and is quite common now.

    Occasionally a consul of an inquiring mind, who happened to be in England when the instructions were first issued, had doubts as to their purport.  Lord Clarendon sent him to me, at Cockspur Street, where I then had chambers, and I had the honour of explaining the nature of the information sought.

    In due course, Mr. Robert Coningsby, a young working engineer, known at that period as the author of letters on social questions having a Tory tinge, wrote to The Times, saying, "It was all very well for Mr. Holyoake to connect his, name with these Blue Books.  The Society of Arts is entitled to the credit of bringing the subject before the Government, and the credit of bringing the subject to the notice of that society belonged to him."  The Society of Arts did not corroborate Mr. Coningsby, nor did he know how early had been my efforts in this matter.  Nor did he pretend that he conceived or defined the scope of the questions, or method of obtaining the information required.  The Foreign Office frankly accorded me permission to cite the communication received from them.  I therefore explained in The Times that Lord Clarendon sent me the minute he had forwarded to the Embassies beginning with the words—"Mr. Holyoake has made a valuable suggestion as to the steps to be taken to ascertain the facts as regards the position of the artizan and industrial classes in foreign States."  This minute was also sent to me for my consideration with the intimation "that Lord Clarendon would be happy to consider any suggestions I might have to offer, as to any other matters connected with foreign countries in which the industrial classes in this country take an interest, on which the Secretaries of her Majesty's Legations might be instructed to report."  This I did, as the reader has seen, in the enumeration already given of questions to be answered.  Sir Arthur Otway, with the spontaneous courtesy usual with him, wrote to me, saying that "these reports which were found so useful and interesting were mainly due to my suggestions, and that the late Lord Clarendon, as also the late Mr. Spring Rice, spoke to him more than once of my services in this matter in terms which would be very gratifying to me."  After these facts appeared in The Times, Mr. Coningsby made no more claim of being the originator of these People's Blue Books.  Three volumes of reports, of nearly 1,000 pages, were issued.  Had the trades unions subscribed £20,000 and sent out commissioners, they could not in five years have collected and published the same amount of accurate, verified, and trustworthy information contained in these volumes thus supplied without cost to them by the Foreign Office.  It was believed that these reports would be furnished at intervals of five or ten years.  Twenty have elapsed since the last was issued.  Changes in artizans' condition, interests, and aims have occurred since then, and new reports would now have new uses and new influence.  Before the People's Blue Books appeared, the information necessary for industrial advancement abroad depended mainly on chance and charity, and as Madame de Staël said of M.  de Calonne, whether he meant mischief or service, "he did not do it with ability"—for want of knowledge.

    Men learn patience if not contentment by a comparison of their condition with that of others, which may be no better or worse than their own.  They may be encouraged by examples of success attained under discouraging circumstances.  A workman can appreciate industrial causes in operation apart from himself, which he fails to discern or estimate through familiarity and prejudice, while he is in contact with his own condition.  Principles true in our own streets are discerned more vividly when their operations are traced in the destiny of strange and distant communities.  Artizans gain expansion of knowledge, like that which travel gives, when they are brought into the presence of international facts, and are inclined to respect a Government which, instead of lecturing them or coercing them, gathers the experience of nations into a page, and bids them read it for themselves.


ABOUT the time of the sixth volume of the Reasoner (that is not an accepted calender of events, though it enables me to fix the date of many) two young Irishmen came to London seeking their fortune in literature, and to them I was able to be of some service.  Both made acknowledgments of it in after years, which I did not often experience in other instances.  One of them, Mr. Gerald Supple, came from Dublin; for him I had regard because, out of his slender earnings, he always sent a portion for the support of his mother and two sisters.  He had seen patriotic service in 1848, having been concerned in an insurrection planned in Meath.  He wrote for me in the Reasoner on secular subjects.  Afterwards he wrote in the Empire and Morning Star, to which I introduced him.  At length he went to Australia, studied law, and became a barrister.  As is the case with the best Irishmen, his sympathies were with liberty and freedom everywhere, and he never forgot the claims of his country.  He had many friends at the bar, and no one who knew him could fail to be impressed by the generous qualities in his character.  In 1848, he had been a contributor to the Nation, then at its best, and several national ballads written by him are to be found in Hayes's collection, to which good judges assigned great merit.  Mr. Ebenezer Syme said in the Argus that Mr. Supple "always wrote with extreme moderation and good taste, never permitting his private predilections or animosities to influence his public writings.  On several subjects outside the newspaper sphere, he had a fulness of knowledge, and wrote upon them with a judgment that was admirable.  He wrote on Irish genealogies and antiquities in a manner no other Australian journalist could approach."

    In 1870 news came that he was under sentence of death in Melbourne.  Newspaper controversialists, as is common in new colonies, are addicted to primitive forms of invective.  Melbourne resembled then the amenities of journalism which prevailed in Canada, a much older settlement, until Mr. Goldwin Smith infused refinement in it; and my friend in Melbourne believed that no reformation in certain quarters there was possible except by the pistol.  He therefore resolved to shoot an imputative adversary, one George Paton Smith, at sight—and did it, the shot taking effect in his arm.  Mr. John Walshe, a retired police officer, hearing shooting about, with the instinct of his profession, rushed forward to defend the man assailed.  Mr. Supple, being near-sighted, mistook the ex-officer for his enemy, shot and killed him.  It was his near-sightedness which caused him to entertain unfounded resentment against many persons whom he thought showed him public disrespect by passing him without notice, who had no unfriendly intentions towards him; he was simply unable to observe their recognition.  His brother barristers considered that he had suffered in his professional career by loss of briefs through his infirmity of sight, and he had become moody and unhinged in mind.  They therefore set up a plea of insanity to save him.  This Mr. Supple repudiated in court, stating that he knew perfectly well what he was doing, and that he intended to kill Mr. Smith, but did not intend to kill Mr. Walshe.

    Many persons who commit brutal outrages, or even commit murder in a brutal manner, when it comes to their turn to suffer, squeal and whine to be saved from that which they have inflicted upon others.  It was not so with Mr. Supple.  In his speech to the Court, before sentence was pronounced, he declared "his purpose was to teach certain persons in Melbourne a lesson in manners.  He well knew the consequences of what he had undertaken, and did not object to be hanged."  Mr. Supple continued:—"Some years ago I quarrelled with G. P. Smith because of his scurrilous abuse of the people of my country, written by his pen and published in the newspaper he edited.  I was the only Irishman on that paper, and I resented it.  He who will not stand up for his country is a paltry person.  From that time Mr. Smith slandered me.  In this colony there is no check on slander.  An action for libel does not arrest it.  The duel does not exist here.  If any man sent a challenge he would be handed over to the police, and his challenge treated as a farce, as a piece of swagger or bravado.  In England public opinion acts as a check on slander.  There is nothing of the sort here.  I have done this colony good service in reviving something of old-fashioned honour, in the middle of this coarse and wholly material civilization—this mean and sordid thing, in which little seems to be valued higher than the dinner or the bank account.  The time will come, and my act will hasten it, when the community will cease to tolerate the assassin of character.  As for me, I hope to give my life very cheerfully in this cause.  Hanging cannot disgrace me.  The gallows cannot disgrace me—I shall confer honour upon it.  I shall be glad to get away from this colony, and I can leave it no other way than by the gate of death."

    This manly speech could not but inspire respect for the prisoner, however much one must feel that society would be impossible if everybody should resent slander in the deadly way he had adopted.  Mr. Supple was sentenced to death.  But his counsel appealed against it, on the ground that it was not justifiable to hang a man for an act he never intended to commit.  A plea good in morals, but not in law.  Mr. E. J. Williams, who was in the Gallery of the House of Commons, and who knew of my early friendship for Mr. Supple, having intimation of the appeal, asked me to aid in saving him from execution.  To this end I made the following affidavit, which Sir Wilfrid Lawson did me the favour of attesting for me:—

"I, George Jacob Holyoake, of 20, Cockspur Street, London, County of Middlesex, do truly and solemnly make declaration that I knew well Mr. Gerald H. Supple, now imprisoned, as I am informed, in Melbourne, Australia, on charge of murder.  When he was in England he was employed by me in journalistic work: I assisted in procuring him engagements.  I had and still have great respect for him as an honourable man; but I observed a moodiness in his manner, varying from impulsive generosity of speech to inexplicable reticence.  His shortness of sight was greatly against him.  He seemed a despairing man at times, and I used to consider him a person whom some great calamity would one day overtake.  From the difficulty his manner put in the way of his friends serving, or indeed being sure when they were serving him, I feared great suffering would befall him.  Though very intimate with me, and as I believed having personal regard for me, he went away without saying such was his intention, and never communicated with me at the time, nor mentioned me in writing to friends of mine who had served him at my instigation.  I doubt not he had acquired some distrust of me, utterly without reason.  No doubt he was liable to dangerous delusions.


"Signed in the presence of WILFRID LAWSON, Justice of the Peace for the County of Cumberland."

    Having rendered political service to Lord Enfield in his Middlesex candidature, I asked him if he could do me the favour of enclosing my affidavit in the Foreign Office bag, he being then in that department.  The transmission would then be surer and probably swifter.  Lord Kimberley, who became aware of my request, directed (Aug. 4, 1870) me to be informed (which I was by Mr. J. Rogers) that my "affidavit would be forwarded by the next mail to the Governor of Victoria."  But Lord Kimberley did much more than this, as I afterwards learned.  Seeing that a man's life was at stake, his lordship, from motives of humanity and kindness, directed that the substance of my affidavit be telegraphed to the Governor of Ceylon with instructions to transmit it to Lord Canterbury at Victoria.  By good fortune, which ought always to attend on so generous an act, the telegram was received in Melbourne on the very day before the appeal, and, being delivered by the Foreign Office messenger, it was a welcome surprise to Mr. Supple's counsel, and gave the Court the impression that the Government at home were desirous that the prisoner should have the advantage of whatever evidence existed on his behalf.  The result was that, instead of the sentence of death being confirmed, Mr. Supple was granted a new trial on the ground of his mental condition.

    Four months later a letter arrived from Lord Canterbury upon the subject.  Lord Kimberley, still remembering my interest in the fate of my friend, desired Mr. H.  T.  Holland to transmit to me a copy of the following despatch from the Governor of Victoria:—


 Sept.  7, 1870.

"MY LORD,I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your lordship's telegram forwarded to me through the Governor of Ceylon, relative to the mental state of health of G.  H.  Supple (now under sentence of death), and stating that a despatch and affidavit would be forwarded by the next mail."  I lost no time in forwarding this telegram to the Law Officers of the Crown.  I may mention that a point of law was reserved at Supple's trial which comes on for argument before the full court to-morrow.—I have the honour to be, &c.,


    It is clear from this despatch that but for Lord Kimberley's calculating promptitude my affidavit had been all too late.

    The next communication I received was dated Melbourne Gaol, October 4, 1870, from the prisoner, saying:—

"MY DEAR MR. HOLYOAKE,—How can I thank you for your friendship and kindness in stepping in so promptly to my help! That telegram must have been an expensive one—I understand from £15 to £18.  My friends only ascertained from the Government the day before the last English mail left that it is you who thus came forward for me.

"I have been thirteen years in this country now.  Ebenezer Syme was my very good friend, thanks to the favourable things you said of me in your letter of introduction to him.

"I calculated upon getting into trouble for what I did, but I cheerfully accept the consequence as a smaller evil than endurance.  The medical commission found I was no lunatic.  I was to be hanged last month, when, two days before the morning fixed, leading members of the bar picked flaws in the legal proceedings, the public was stirred with interest, and the Government granted a reprieve and an appeal to the Privy Council.  I was notified of a new trial—the same case under another aspect.  My legal friends insisted on the plea of insanity.  I would have no more of it, and defended myself.  The jury were half for acquittal and half for conviction.  I may not be hanged for some time yet.

"I often think of those days in London in '50 and '51, and again in '56, when you and Mrs. Holyoake made me feel as if I were at home.—Ever yours sincerely and gratefully,


    In the end he was sentenced to imprisonment during her Majesty's pleasure.  A year later (Aug.  11, 1871), he wrote again from his gaol, saying:—

"I am unable to express what I feel, and how grateful I am, for what you have done for me, so kindly and ably in such various ways, at a time 'when a friend is twice a friend.' Your articles in the press, your telegram, and Lord Kimberley's kind interference, thanks to you, have each and all had a great effect in my favour on public opinion here.  Your article in the Reasoner, which I saw (as well as that in the Birmingham Post, which you enclosed to me), was put into one of the papers here, the Herald, and has done me much service.  The public in Australia are much influenced in all social matters by opinion at home, and your word goes a long way here as well as in England, even among people who may differ from you in politics and theology.  After the appearance of that article I had an unusual number of visiting strangers, including three or four members of the Legislature, cordially promising me their good offices at opportunity."

    How difficult Mr. Supple was to serve was shown by Sir Charles Gavan Duffy.  When he was in office at Melbourne, Supple, at that time a law student and journalist, asked him for permanent Government employment.  Several months afterwards, he offered him a post with a salary of £400, which had been previously held by another journalist, one of Supple's friends.  Supple had a short time previously been called to the bar.  He indignantly resented the offer, which made Sir Gavan think his mind was affected.  He was a singular being, but his courage, disinterestedness, and noble scruples, were honourable singularities.  He had done that for which, as a lawyer, he knew he deserved hanging, and felt bound in honour as a gentleman not to shrink from nor evade the penalty.  Eight years' imprisonment in Melbourne Gaol elicited from him no murmur.  He wrote articles with his dim eyes, and continued his support of sisters who needed aid.  Mr. Eaton, of the Treasury Department in Melbourne, was a valued friend of Supple's.  On his visit to England we consulted how Supple's imprisonment might one day be changed into banishment, and ultimately the Government considerately permitted him to reside in New Zealand, where he followed pursuits of literature to the advantage of himself and his connections, and he had ever a grateful word for whoever had served him.


HAVING been foremost, or at least publicly persistent, in maintaining that the secular duties of this life had precedence in time and importance over ecclesiastical considerations, it became incumbent on me to follow my own precepts, and, as far as in my power lay, to improve the opportunities of daily life.  Being a member of the Council of the London Reform League in 1868, I undertook to vindicate the claim for the Ballot by a "New Defence" of it, of which 10,000 were circulated.  Mr. Henry F. Berkeley, M.P., who succeeded Mr. George Grote as the advocate of the Ballot in Parliament, wrote a letter to the press asking attention to my "Defence."  He had previously written to me, saying "a greater than I has arisen"—not meaning that I was great and he less than before, but merely that the argument for the Ballot was not exhausted, as the House of Commons supposed, and that I, a young man, might continue an advocacy which the nearness of death to him would soon compel him to abandon.  Mr. Bright also was of opinion that the reasons for the Ballot had all been gathered in, and he wrote to me, saying "yours is the only original argument I have seen," which implied no more than that all advocacy of it had proceeded from the points of view of the party politician and the electioneering agent.  No one had treated it from the point of view of the working-class voter, which constituted the distinction, whatever it amounted to, of my argument.

    Mr. John Stuart Mill, notwithstanding the long championship of the Ballot by his friend Mr. Grote, declared that "it ought to form no part of a measure for reforming the representation of the people.  He thought it unmanly that men should not resent intimidation and defy it.  It did not occur to him that it was unmanly on the part of Liberal politicians to allow the means of intimidation to exist.  Like Mr. Herbert Spencer, Mill was for individuality and self-help—not thinking that self-help has its limits.  To help yourself as much as you can, and as far as you can, is a condition every man must fulfil before he has a claim for the aid of others where his own strength is insufficient.  There is no sense in telling a man whose legs are broken he ought to walk unassisted.  Under open voting none who depend upon others for employment can be independent without ruin, and it is not practical politics to expect from the people impracticable virtue.  Liberals in my time were overwhelmed with the prestige of mad manliness, and used to apologise for the Ballot by saying they "wished the people were strong enough to do without it."  Whereas the Ballot was no crutch, it was protection.  It was a device which destroyed intimidation by rendering it impossible.  Mr. Mill, who, like Jeremy Bentham, was a master of what an American would call "ironclad" phrases, said that the Ballot meant "secret suffrage"—that was the merit of it.  Secret suffrage is free suffrageit means an impenetrable, an impassable, a defiant suffrage; since intimidation could not touch it in the case of those who could trust to the secrecy of the ballot box.  There is a base secrecy which men employ in mean, furtive, or criminal acts, but there is a manly secrecy when a man locks his door against impertinent and intrusive people meddling with his affairs without consent.  Privacy in what concerns a man vitally—concerns him alone—is manly and justifiable.  My argument was that of the following paragraph:—

    The old doctrine was that voting was a duty the elector owed to his country.  Then it was the duty of the country to take care that he did discharge it.  Voting, therefore, should be made compulsory, and intimidation impossible in the discharge of a public duty.  The voter is a known person: he is selected by the State—his qualifications are approved: he has recognised interests at stake.  He has assigned to him a duty to his country and to his conscience.  It is only by a secret suffrage that he can without "let or hindrance" discharge it.  I am said to be an "independent" elector, I am told it is my duty to be independent.  Then why should any one want to know the facts of my vote?  It is no affair of my neighbour how I vote, or for whom I vote, or why I vote, since I exercise no power nor use any freedom which he does not equally possess.  I am not called upon to consult my neighbour as to what I shall do.  If I am obliged to consult him, he is my master.  But he has no business with a knowledge of my affairs; and if he wants it, he is impertinent—if he insists upon it, he is offensive, and means me mischief if I decline to do his bidding.  The theory of Representative Government calls upon me to delegate my power to another for a given time.  Once in seven years I am master of the situation; afterwards I am at the mercy of the member of Parliament I elect.  He may tax me, he may compel the country into unjust and costly wars; he may be a party to base treaties; he may limit my liberty; he may degrade me as an Englishman, but I am bound by his acts.  From election to election, he is my master.  I must obey the laws he helps to make, or he will suspend the Habeas Corpus Act, and put a sword to my throat, or fire upon me with the latest improved rifle he has made me pay for in the estimates.  I may howl, but I cannot alter anything.  My only security is that a time will come when I shall be master again without fear from my neighbour, or customer, or employer, or creditor, or banker, or landlord, or priest.  I shall taste of power for one supreme minute when I shall stand by the ballot box.  Then I can vote to displace the member who has betrayed me, and choose another representative in his stead.  Representative Government confers upon the English citizen one minute of liberty every seven years.  It is not much to ask.  It is little to be content with.  It is a wondrous proof of the people's docility that they yield obedience on such terms.  The State ought to keep faith with the elector one minute in every three millions of minutes which elapse on the average between one General Election and another.

    The enemies of the Ballot thought fit to oppose this slender concession.  Sydney Smith derided it.  Lord Palmerston held that it was un-English.  According to this reasoning, the use of armour-plates is cowardly, and it is un-English for a gunner to fire from a casemate.  It is madness, not manliness, in a man who opposes his single head to twenty swords.  His foolhardiness will merely deter others, and the reputation for courage he will acquire will not outlive the coroner's inquest upon him.  There might be more individuality of character than there is if every man rejected the enervating equality of the law, which protects the weak against the strong.  Then even the coward must fight and the weak must struggle or perish.  But it is insanity of individuality which wantonly enters upon unequal conflicts; and open voting is of that nature.  Secret suffrage is the needle-gun which places the proletariat and the proprietor upon an equality in the electoral combat.

    Whittier understood this when he wrote:

"We have a weapon firmer set,
 And better than the bayonet;
 A weapon that comes down as still
 As snowflakes fall upon the sod,
 Yet executes a freeman's will,
 As lightning does the will of God,
 And from its force no bolts or locks
 Can shield you—'tis the ballot-box."

    Much more to the same end was in "The New Defence of the Ballot," which it was said at the time did something in determining the minds of many members of Parliament when they came to vote for the bill who had never looked upon the Ballot from the working class point of view.

    After being before the House of Commons for forty years, the Ballot Bill went up to the Lords—a body of gentlemen endowed with legal power to maim or stifle any live measure of progress which they may deem premature.  To allay the fear of change which constitutionally agitates them, I said, wherever I had the opportunity of being heard, that the first effect of the Ballot would be to give us a Tory Government for ten years.  I wrote to The Times, Daily News, and Echo, urging—

"The two great fears of the Ballot are these.  One is that electors will vote so differently under it as to disturb the balance of parties in many boroughs.  The other and greater fear is that such numbers will vote under the Ballot who never voted before, that nobody will know what will happen any.  where.  For three centuries the political vote in England has been a trust, under the condition that the elector used it under the cognizance and in accordance with the views of somebody else.  Tory and Whig, employer and squire, Radical and Quaker, have all done their best to enforce this doctrine of trust.  Relieve the electors of this hereditary pressure, and after allowing for much that habit will do, and less for the action of intelligence, we come down to what the late Lord Derby needlessly dreaded—the dark, unknown land of ignorance, prejudice, passion, of honest but blind hope.  The Liberals do not quite like that risk, the Conservatives shudder at any change, and the Radicals think of the cost of providing for the neglected political education of the people, which must then be attended to if they are to hold their own.  [The rise of Liberal Clubs, never before heard of, soon proved this.] The Conservatives who collect the suffrage of stolidity will be the first to profit by the Ballot.  In an uneducated nation the 'stupid' are always the majority, and the Tories have so often profited by the fact, that they will be the 'stupid party' themselves if they throw away the mighty chance now before them.

"The working class accept the Ballot, not because it will very early benefit their order, but because it is an indispensable condition to their being able to benefit themselves.  Therefore, let no one be apprehensive of the change which will approach with the Ballot.  In politics nothing approaches; everything has to be fetched.

"The fear of the Ballot is as old as England.  It is the fear lest another should take his own way, and not take yours.  It is in religion as well as in politics, and not easily eradicated.  Error (it was an early maxim of mine) is like a serpent alive at both ends; if severed, it may still sting; while it wriggles, it lives, and those who mean to end it must chop at it."

    It would be futile to recite now this prediction concerning the Ballot, if the reader could not turn to the Echo, August 5, 1871, and read it there.  The first election after the Ballot gave us a Tory Government, and old London Reformers bewailed to me that, after having laboured for fifty years to give the working class the power to be their own friends, they used it to vote for those who always opposed their having a vote.  The nature of a nation does not change all at once with power.  All history gives examples which seem to be unobserved.  The French Revolutionists did but do as they had been done by.  It may be regretted that they did not do better.  To pour on the Revolutionists the censure of Europe, and conceal that the censure belongs to those who made them what they were—is ignorant criticism.  Liberty does not take care of people.  It is intended to enable them to take care of themselves, and it generally takes them a long time to learn how to do it.

    The story of the Ballot illustrates the characteristics of the English political mind in the last generation.


IT is good advice that a man should guard himself from misconception.  But, do what he will, misconceptions will come to him.  Then all he can do is to explain—stand to the truth and never mind.

    At the time of the Reform League agitation in 1866, being a member of the executive, I was one of a deputation to the Home Office, to confer with Mr. Walpole concerning a meeting the League intended to hold in Hyde Park.  The Government was then Tory, and the Tories are always against public meetings, as being unnecessary and inconvenient.  Then (1866) they said: "We had Trafalgar Square to go to, and what better place could we have?  Hyde Park was impossible."  In 1888, twenty-two years later, they said "we could not have a better place than Hyde Park, and that Trafalgar Square was impossible."

    Mr. Walpole showed an honourable anxiety to prevent collision between the police and the people, for fear of " bloodshed," which Mr. J. S. Mill said in Parliament, the next night, "the League firmly believed would result."  Mr. Walpole stood in the recess of a window at the Home Office, and our small deputation stood near him.

    Mr. Beales stated that our object was "not to censure the Government, but to declare the public sentiment on the franchise," and therefore we demanded permission to hold a public meeting in the park on Monday.  Mr. Walpole (deprecatingly): "Don't ask me that."  After consulting with Lord J. Manners, Mr. Walpole said, "Well, put your request in writing to me.  I will consult my colleagues, and, that there may be no mistake, I will send an answer in writing."  It was, however, agreed that we might occupy a platform that night in Hyde Park to dissuade people from assembling further.

    Afterwards, being at the House of Commons, I told all this to many members who inquired what had occurred at the Home Office.  Later, I went to Hyde Park to attend the dispersion meeting, and, being on the platform, I heard Mr. Beales announce that we had permission to hold a meeting on Monday night.  Whereupon I asked him whether Mr. Walpole had since given him permission to do so, as I did not so understand him at our interview.  The next morning a letter appeared from Mr. Walpole in The Times, stating that Mr. Beales's letter had been received, but no answer had been given.  The same morning placards appeared, issued by the League, stating that a public meeting would be held in the park by Mr. Walpole's permission.

    That morning, Mr. George Howell, secretary of the League, sent me by hand to Waterloo Chambers, Cockspur Street, a summons to attend another deputation to Mr. Walpole at 2 o'clock.  At that hour I went there, but, seeing none of my colleagues, I supposed they had already arrived, and were in some room awaiting the interview.  I asked to be shown to the deputation to Mr. Walpole, and I was told "there was no deputation; and Mr. Walpole himself was not at the Home Office."  I said that was incredible, as I had been summoned to attend a deputation to him at 2 o'clock.  Seeing that I was unconvinced, an officer said, I "had better see Mr. Walpole's secretary and satisfy myself."  Accordingly I did so, and was told that "Mr. Walpole really had declined to receive any deputation."  I answered that, "as the League had sent me notice to attend the interview, they should have sent me word it was not to be.  I understood we were to see Mr. Walpole respecting his letter to The Times, and that I intended to say I for one thought Mr. Walpole right in his letter.  The placard assumed that the meeting was agreed to, which was not my impression."

    The secretary asked whether he might state that to Mr. Walpole.  I answered "certainly."  I went at once to the Reform League, and explained to Mr. T.  Bayley Potter, M.P., and other friends of the League present, what I had said at the Home Office, and learned then, for the first time, that Mr. Beales was decidedly under a different impression.  Mr. P. A. Taylor asked me at the House of Commons the same day to put in writing what took place with Mr. Walpole, which I did, and placed it in the hands of Mr. John Stuart Mill, who, I knew, was always for the truth.

    In the meantime Lord Derby in the House of Lords, speaking in defence of the Home Secretary, accused by his party of indecision, said: "Mr. Holyoake, one of the members of the deputation to Mr. Walpole, having seen the placard, came this morning to repudiate in the strongest terms Mr. Beales's proclamation.  He spoke to many Liberal members last night at the House of Commons, informing them that Mr. Walpole had not given his consent to the meeting announced."

    Mr. Walpole, on his part, stated in the House of Commons that, "in justice to a member of the Reform League, who is known to many members in this House, and who was present with the deputation—I mean Mr. Holyoake—he, in a manner which reflects infinite credit on him, volunteered to come to my office to-day.  I was so busily engaged I could not see him, but he saw my private secretary, who came into my room immediately afterwards, and told me what had passed between them.  I (Mr. Walpole) said, 'The words which you say were used by Mr. Holyoake are so important, let me, while they are fresh in your recollection, take them down.' The words taken down are these: 'He came to repudiate in the strongest terms Mr. Beales's proclamation.  He perfectly understood Mr. Walpole to decline to sanction any meeting in the park, and to ask that an application for that should be made in writing.  He spoke to many Liberal members last night, and also to Mr. Beales, when the proclamation was being posted."'

    Reciting these incidents serves to show by authentic instances how difficult it is to get at the truth of history, and how the simplest facts become transformed into what Carlyle would have called "curiously the reverse of truth."  Even when the facts are fresh—not even an hour old—variations of them occur even while passing through the minds of educated official persons.  Neither Lord Derby, Mr. Walpole, nor his secretary, could have any intention of perverting the truth, and yet the perversion transpired on the part of each of them.  Mr. Walpole said that I "volunteered to come to his office."  I did not "volunteer " to go to the Home Office.  It never entered into my mind to go—I certainly never should have gone on any notion of my own.  My going was solely through the instruction sent me by the secretary of the Reform League.  It was quite unforeseen by me that I should enter the secretary's room.  It was purely incidental that I was asked by an official to do so.  It was to account for my acquiescence in seeing the secretary that I mentioned the subject of the placard.  The officer in the corridor of the Home Office told me "Mr. Walpole was not in the building."  Yet Mr. Walpole said "he was busily engaged there."  My words as related by the private secretary, and as taken down by Mr. Walpole, were that "I came to repudiate in the strongest terms Mr. Beales's proclamation."  I did not go for any such purpose.  The words taken down represent me as saying "I spoke to Mr. Beales when the proclamation was being posted."  I never saw Mr. Beales at that time.  I was not present when the proclamation was posted.  My words were: "I spoke to him the same night at Hyde Park."  That was before the placards were printed.

    The Express, the evening issue of the Daily News, remarked that the Tory papers commended me, the Standard describing me as "a man of high honour and probity, whose opinions, however offensive to the general feeling of society, had not prevented him from commanding the respect of all who knew his reverence for truth, and his thorough loyalty in all dealings with friend or foe."

    It is not a matter of suspicion when any one is commended by his adversaries, unless it appears that he has abandoned his professed principles to win their praise.

    Notwithstanding my explanations, the Reform League regarded me as a traitor who had gone down to the Home Office privately, and made a communication against them.  A great meeting was held, within a few days of these events, at the Agricultural Hall.  Mr. Mill asked me to accompany him from the House of Commons to the hall, and afterwards I returned with him to the House.  It was well I was in his Company, as my colleagues of the Reform League were wrathful with me.  Had I done what they supposed, their indignation would have been justified.  Certainly the version of the affair given by Ministers was calculated to confirm their impressions. 

    Mr. Walpole for a time fared no better at the hands of his colleagues than I did with mine.  They accused him of weakness in giving way to the League Radicals.  They even said he wept before the deputation.  Lord John Manners could have contradicted that, as he was present, but he made no sign.  Had it not been for my accidental testimony, which, being that of a political opponent, satisfied both Houses, it was said that Mr. Walpole must have resigned.  On the following Sunday he sent me a handsome letter of acknowledgment.  At no time did I ever speak to Mr. Walpole, nor did he ever speak to me.  My action with regard to him was public and not personal.

    Afterwards some Radicals enclosed bread pills in small bottles, labelled them "Walpole's tears," and sold them at Reform League meetings, which was ill treatment of a Minister who had shown honourable scruples against firing upon them.

    Mr. Walpole was the first Home Secretary who, so far as we knew, ever showed consideration for the people at his own peril.

    On the day when the Hyde Park railings fell, the Reform League went in procession to the gates.  As I was one of the executive, I accompanied my colleagues.  Mr. Beales was to attempt to enter the gates, when, the police opposing him, a question of assault was to be raised, and legal opinion taken as to the legality of closing the gates against the people.  The throng was dense about the entrance.  A man in a rough cap and round jacket—in appearance like an ostler—thrust a watch in my vest pocket, saying, "Take care of that the next time."  I thought he might be a thief who, being followed, was planting a watch he had stolen on me to get rid of it.  But on taking out the watch I saw it was my own.  I had no time to thank the man, who darted through the crowd to keep the real thief in sight.  The man was a detective, who had seen the theft of my watch, had taken it from the man, and restored it to me.

    Thus ended my adventures on the Hyde Park question.


IN 1870 I had expressed, in some journal or speech, the opinion that Lord Palmerston's wilful and hasty recognition (1851) of the Government of the usurper, Louis Napoleon, was discreditable to the Crown and injurious to the English nation, as openly sanctioning the massacre of thousands of French citizens, of the imprisonment of its Parliament and expatriation of many eminent men, who withstood the illegality of the false President.  It was a great affront to the majority of Frenchmen, who would be incensed at England giving official countenance to Bonapartist treachery and assassination.  In what way this opinion came under the notice of Mr. Gladstone I now forget, but he was kind enough and considerate enough to write me a letter, in which he explained the facts of that affair.

    On February 3, 1852, Lord John Russell explained that Lord Palmerston had sent an approval to Lord Normanby, our ambassador at Paris, of the usurpation of Louis Napoleon.  Lord Palmerston said "it was a misrepresentation of the fact to say that he had given instructions to Lord Normanby inconsistent with the relations of general intercourse between England and France."

    What Lord Palmerston did was this.  He wrote to the British ambassador at Paris (Lord Normanby), December 5, 1851, saying that he had been commanded by her Majesty to instruct him not to make any change in his relations with the French Government.  "It is her Majesty's desire that nothing should be done which would even wear the appearance of an interference of any kind in the internal affairs of France."  At the same time M.  Turgot said he had heard from M. Walewski (the French ambassador in London) that Lord Palmerston had expressed to him his entire approbation of the act of the President, and his conviction that he (Louis Napoleon) could not have acted otherwise than he had done.  Lord Normanby complained that this "placed him in an awkward position for misrepresentation and suspicion."  Lord Palmerston replied next day that if "Lord Normanby wishes to know my own opinion on the change which has taken place in France, it is that such a state of antagonism had arisen between the President and the Assembly that it was becoming every day more clear that their co-existence would not be of long duration; and it seemed to me better for the interests of France, and through them for the interest of the rest of Europe, that the power of the President should prevail."

    The representative of the French nation naturally regarded this as the opinion of the Government, being given by a Minister of the Crown at the Foreign Office, and it was cited by the confederates of the usurper as proof that Liberal Parliamentary England was in favour of a murderous despotism being imposed by arms on the French people.

    On February 17, 1852, Lord John Russell advised the dismissal of Lord Palmerston from the office of Foreign Secretary on the ground that "he had, first, in a conversation with the French ambassador, and next, in a despatch to Lord Normanby, expressed officially his approval of the recent proceedings of Louis Napoleon," contrary to the following instructions, laid down by her Majesty in 1850, for the guidance of her Secretary:—

"The Queen requires, first, that Lord Palmerston will distinctly state what he proposes, in a given case, in order that the Queen may know as distinctly to what she is giving her royal sanction.  Secondly, having once given her Royal sanction to a measure, that it be not arbitrarily altered or modified by the Minister.  Such an act she must consider as failing in sincerity towards the Crown, and justly to be visited by the exercise of her constitutional right of dismissing that Minister.  She expects to be kept informed of what passes between him and the foreign Ministers before important decisions are taken based upon that intercourse; to receive the foreign despatches in good time, and to have the drafts for her approval sent to her in sufficient time to make herself acquainted with their contents before they must be sent off."

    Lord Palmerston was dismissed, and was succeeded at the Foreign Office by Earl Granville.

    From this instruction it appears that Lord Palmerston two years previously had sent instructions to foreign Courts without the knowledge of her Majesty, and had in other cases changed the purport of what had been submitted to her.  The Queen's note is also instructive to those foolish, misleading, or uninformed politicians who continually assure the people that the English monarchy is practically a democracy, and that the interfering power of the Crown is ideal.  The Crown has the power of vetoing any international instruction the Democracy may wish to give through its representatives.  The Foreign Minister is simply the mouthpiece of the Crown.  The Crown has a voice—and the people are dumb.

    Mr. Gladstone, with a brevity beyond my power, explained to me that the Crown did in the case of Lord Palmerston's conduct what the people would have done.  The Queen deserves very high credit for her action in dismissing him, reassuring the French people that England was neutral, intended no interference in their affairs, and lent no encouragement or sanction to the usurpation imposed upon them.

    After receiving (1870) the letter of Mr. Gladstone, in which he explained all this, I placed it in the Edinburgh Review of that date and left it in a cab.  After fruitless efforts to recover the lost articles, they were advertised for in The Times, in one of the numbers of that journal which was photographed for circulation in Paris during the siege.  The photographed copies of The Times were dropped over Paris from balloons, and the contents were magnified and well scanned, but as my lost letter was never heard of, I concluded that it had probably got into the hands of some intelligent and covetous reader, and I have sometimes attended sales of autograph letters expecting to find it.


A FEW years ago, the Liberal world in London and at large—so far as the outer world took notice of metropolitan affairs—were surprised by an announcement that eminent peers, not before known for Radical partisanship, were about to place themselves at the head of a new movement, which was to do great things.  The working classes were to be taken from pestiferous dwellings in crowded towns and put, as Lord Hampton said, out "in the open," and other advantages, never dreamt of by the unenterprising Liberals who had hitherto been looked up to by the people, were to be bestowed upon them.  Mr. Scott-Russell, a naval enthusiast, who had built the Great Eastern ship, was the constructor of this new political vessel for carrying Tory Democratic passengers into the Conservative haven.

Left to right
John Scott Russell, Henry Wakefield, I. K. Brunel.

    Certain working class leaders [26] were invited to form a committee or syndicate of popular sponsors of the new project.  All were known to be on the Liberal side, but some, like the teetotal cabmen, were not bigoted; they preferred fishing in Liberal waters provided fish were to be caught, but, if not, they had no invincible repugnance to trying another stream.  They called this "being above the narrowness of party"; sometimes they represented it as "taking an independent view" of things—phrases honestly used by men of conscientious conception of principle, but whose scruples these patriots, with principles turning on a universal pivot, burlesqued.  There were others among them, men of consistency, who were curious to find out what these unexpected friends of the people (whom Mr. Scott-Russell assumed to represent) really intended.  They asked time to consider the project to which they were to be committed.  Their meetings were held at a pleasant restaurant near King Lud's in Ludgate Hill, and, as good dinners were provided to assist their deliberations, they were not impatient to come to a decision.  Like men having responsible business on hand, they felt precipitation unbecoming; they took time and dinners, too.  They made suggestions, and adjourned until Mr. Scott-Russell had considered them.  Then it became necessary to dine again to receive his opinion.  When adjournments were played out, they, with show of reason, intimated that it was desirable that they should know who the noblemen were who were at the head of the project which they were to commend to the working class, whom these leaders were supposed to influence.  A further dinner was necessary for receiving and weighing this information.  It was conceded by the constructor of the Great Eastern that this committee should see a list of the names, which, however, were not to be divulged.

    If there really were persons of eminence desirous of rendering some new service to the people, the intention was to be respected.  There was one member of the committee, Mr. Robert Applegarth, who never thought there was anything in the scheme, and there were others who did not feel any sure ground under their feet.  Thus the inspection of the list of peers who had popular ideas ready to put in force, was interesting.  That the names were to be held secret did not inspire confidence.  How could honest leaders of the people command a project of which they could not disclose the authority which alone could inspire trust.  Mr. Applegarth prudently suggested to his colleagues that, since they were not to possess or copy the list, and might not remember all the names upon it, it would be well that one of them should fix in his memory the first two names, another should notice the second two, and so on through the list.  Afterwards, when they met, they could verify the whole list of names appended to a document which was to be published without the names.  It was observed that the names were all in the same handwriting as the text of the address prepared for their issue.

    In a way never explained to the public, the list of the names—which, in the way described, came into the hands of the committee—met the sharp journalistic eyes of Mr. Stephen Girard, of the New York Herald, and were by him made known, much to the chagrin of Mr. Scott-Russell and to the astonishment of the peers, who instantly became subjects of comment.  Each of them immediately wrote to the papers disavowing any knowledge of the affair or complicity in it.  Thus it happened that the political Leviathan ship for carrying Democratic passengers into the sea of Conservatism never set sail.

    Knowing all the members of the Scott-Russell Committee, their proceedings interested me, and I wrote in the public press reasons for regarding the project as suspicious in origin and tendency.

    Mr. Scott-Russell had genius in his own walk.  His conception of a great ship, so ponderous that the waves should not vibrate beneath it, so powerful that the storm should not retard it, showed naval daring; but the sea of politics was unknown to him, and the craft he put upon it was of antiquated build.

    Every aspirant for power, who has ambition for personal ascendancy, every despot who understands his business, holds out promises of what excellent things he will do if he be only secured a position whereby he may be able to act.  When the power is once put into his hands, he is able to defy those who dare to claim the fulfilment of their expectations, as did Louis Napoleon, who promised great things to the working classes, and shot them when they asked for them.  In the meantime the policy of holding out great hopes of this kind has its success.  Like the "confidence trick," it finds a succession of credulous persons ready made.  There are always a number of people ready to have something done for them, and very unwilling to be put to the trouble of doing it for themselves.

    My reason for opposing the Scott-Russell plot was that Liberal working men could not join in it without foregoing their principles.  A man is free to change his principles with out reproach when his honest view of duty dictates it.  But he should know what he is doing, and not go on pretending to be on one side when he has gone over to another.  If working men calling themselves Liberals accept Tory leadership, they have left their party.  If they accepted this Tory-peer scheme, in the belief that the Tory party would carry it out, they must at elections canvass for and vote for Tory candidates.  It were vain to adopt a programme and not provide a majority in Parliament to give effect to it.  He who chooses new leaders proclaims his distrust of his old ones, and has changed sides whether he knows it or not.  Not thinking it to the credit of the working classes to be under illusions, I publicly explained the nature of the Tory democratical scheme.

     If Conservatives come to profess, as they sometimes do, to be in favour of a Liberal measure, respect such concession, and give them, so far as such measure extends, aid and credit for it.  But that is a different thing from changing sides and undertaking to sustain a party opposed to the main principles you profess to hold.

     The names of the peers who were alleged to be the "high contracting parties" in this plot were Lord Salisbury, Lord Derby, Mr. Disraeli, the Earls of Carnarvon and Lichfield, Lord Henry Lennox, Lord John Manners, Sir John Pakington, Sir Stafford Northcote, Mr. Gathorne Hardy, and the Duke of Richmond.  Mr. P. Barry wrote to The Times saying that "Mr. Scott-Russell had the signatures of the lords," which they naturally repudiated in successive letters to the newspapers.  The Seven-Leagued programme to which these noble Socialistic Democrats were alleged to have given their assent, is not without historic interest to-day.  Its planks were as follows:—

  1. Something like the United States Homestead Law, with modern improvements, is to be enacted, by which " the families of our workmen " may be removed from the crowded quarters of the towns, and given detached homesteads in the suburbs.

  2. The Commune is to be established so far as to confer upon all counties, towns, and villages, a perfect organisation for self-government, with powers for the acquisition and disposal of lands for the common good.

  3. Eight hours of honest and skilled work shall constitute a day's labour.

  4. Schools for technical instruction shall be established at the expense of the State, in the midst of the homesteads of the proletariat.

  5. Public markets shall be erected in every town, at the public expense, for the sale of goods of the best quality, in small quantities at wholesale prices.

  6. There shall be established, as parts of the public service, places of public recreation, knowledge, and refinement.

  7. The railways shall be purchased and conducted at the public expense and for the common good, as the post-office service is now conducted.


THE Bishop of Peterborough was a prelate remarkable alike for timidity and boldness.  The public were often amazed at his ecclesiastical candour.  But he had apprehensive intervals, as this chapter will show.  In 1871 he and the Dean of Norwich announced their intention to deliver controversial discourses in that city.

Dr. William Magee, Bishop of Peterborough

    Wet, half-melted snow covered the ground, the sky above was dark and disturbed, a cold haze made chill and damp the crowd which stood in the silent cathedral yard on Tuesday night (December 12, 1871) waiting for the cathedral doors to open.  No city in England has been so fortunate as Norwich in its bishops.  It has had no bad bishop in our time.  The memory of man runneth not back to the contrary.  The preacher, however, whom we waited to hear was not the Bishop of Norwich, but the Bishop of Peterborough.  In the pulpit this bishop appeared somewhat short, stoutly built, and had the look of a man who ate more than his spiritual profession required.  Nevertheless the bishop's discourse was admirable.  It had the chief qualities of an oration.  It was delivered with elasticity: the action, though not always graceful, was pleasantly vehement, and there was a manly energy in the preacher's tones.

    Dr. Goulburn, the Dean, was a very pleasant gentleman to see.  He was one of those radiant divines who diffuse a sense of satisfaction around them, looking on life with a dignity that appears never to have been distressed.  You saw at once that his "lines had fallen unto him in pleasant places, and that he had a goodly heritage."  Yet, notwithstanding Dr. Meyrick Goulburn's sunbeam aspect, he threw out some venomous little epithets at his supposed adversaries which need not be recounted here.

    The Bishop's alluring subject was the "Demonstration of the Spirit."  Who could expect the future Archbishop of York, whose revenue would be princely, whose palace looked down on the lotus waters of the Ouse, whose earthly home an angel might envy, to be appreciative of the humble ethical philosophy which knew none of these things?  To the Bishop of Peterborough whose worldly welfare was provided for by a happy destiny and a powerful patron, Christianity must seem "demonstrably" true.  Mean, poor, and even wicked must seem the scruples of those who find themselves condemned to perplexity and patience; while to others, who mean no better and strive less to realise human good, opulence and honour fall.  To the prelates of that day, the efforts of obscure moralists, who, with penurious means, unaided and contemned, struggled to multiply secular comfort, to cheer the unfortunate with the consolations of duty, and kindle the fire of reason in cold and abandoned minds, must seem pitiful, and to be sufficiently recognised by being scolded into grace.

    In the cathedral city of Norwich, where prelatical doctrine had the advantage of State splendour and official advocacy, it might be expected that civil equity would prevail under its supreme influence.  Yet the ratepayers there had no right to the use of the public halls for which they paid.  To obtain one in which to reply to the Bishop of Peterborough was impossible.

    A Dissenter in Norwich, who was proprietor of a hall eligible for the proposed review of the "Cathedral Discourses," said he would let it for the purpose if he knew that it would not be displeasing to the Lord Bishop of Peterborough.  I thereupon wrote to the bishop upon the subject.  My chambers were then at 20 Cockspur Street, Trafalgar Square, London.  The Bishop was at the Athenaeum Club, Pall Mall, and our correspondence was conducted hardly a hundred yards apart.

    Several letters passed between us.  I did not ask that the Bishop should advise the cathedral authorities to use their influence in favour of controversial equity, or that he should interfere in the affairs of a diocese in which he had no authority, but simply to say on his own part whether it was distasteful to him that a hall should be conceded in which his Discourses should be reviewed on the part of those whose attention and concurrence he had challenged.

    In his first discourse, the Bishop urged that it was "the duty of the Christian to manifest the truth in love"; but he declined to manifest it at all.  He told us how the first apostles went to Christ, saying, "Master, tell us."  But the Bishop was not of his Master's mind, and would tell us nothing.

    In the end I did deliver a review of the Bishop's polemical orations; but it was owing to the independence of Mr. R. A. Cooper, who lent a large room in his Albion Mills for the purpose.

    Why should the Bishop show such timidity in giving an opinion asked of him? He had nothing to fear.  No one in Norwich could harm him.  A bishop is set high above clergy and deans that he may be independent and discharge even Christian duty fearlessly.

    Had he spoken the one word which would cost him nothing, he had taught a lesson of toleration to a city which wanted it much, and have won for Christianity a respect on the part of adversaries which the most brilliant clerical argument would fail to create.

    A curious circumstance occurred while Dr. Magee was in Norwich.  Mr. R. A. Cooper, before mentioned, the largest sugar baker in East Anglia, had a place of business opposite the cathedral.  During a successful career in Cincinnatti he had acquired American ways of vivid speech, and as Dean Goulburn was an adversary of ponderous orthodoxy, Mr. Cooper offered to take the cathedral as a sugar bakery, it being little used and he in want of larger premises.  The Bishop being the Dean's guest at the time was told this bit of American irreverent humour, when the clever Bishop went elsewhere and declared that the Liberation Society of the Nonconformists had "shown itself willing to turn churches into drinking saloons or shoe factories"—though the Nonconformists had no knowledge of Mr. Cooper's isolated saying, had no more to do with it, or sympathy with it, than Dr. Goulburn himself.

    The Nonconformists resented the wanton imputation upon them, without knowing how it originated.


IN two instances I had personal opportunity of forming an opinion of Dr. Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford, and in both he displayed more fairness and candour than I expected from a bishop.  Perhaps my limited acquaintance with prelates obliged me to judge them from a narrow standpoint.  The Bishop of Exeter had not given me a favourable impression of the clerical bench.  I knew of no case among my friends in which a reference to them in the case of injustice or intolerance had been favourably entertained, and we all knew that in the House of Lords the votes of the prelates were mostly given against the people.

Dr Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford

    Oddfellows as well as the co-operators were liable before 1852 to be robbed by their officers without redress in law.  A secretary had appropriated £4,000 of the money belonging to widows and orphans of the Manchester Unity.  When placed in the dock in that city, he was dismissed, as the law then gave no protection to such societies.  When the Friendly Societies Bill in 1852 came before the House of Lords, the Bishop of Oxford raised objections to the legalisation of the Manchester Unity, on the ground that I had written their Prize Lectures, which he therefore concluded must be atheistic.

    The Grand Master of that day, Mr. W. B. Smith, hearing this objection, asked, "Has your lordship ever read them?"  The Bishop said very frankly he had not.  "Does not your lordship think," rejoined the Grand Master, "that you ought to do so before pronouncing a deterrent judgment on them?"  "Well," said the Bishop, "perhaps I ought.  Send me a copy and I will do so."  At the next interview, the Bishop said candidly that, "after reading them, he must admit that they were not irreligious—neither were they religious."

    The Grand Master replied: "We have a quarter of a million of members in our Order, and among them are included some of every religious persuasion in the land.  How could the Lectures be 'religious' in your lordship's sense without leading to dissent and theological controversy in all our lodges—which would be an evil, and inconsistent with that concord and brotherhood our Order is designed to promote?"

    The Bishop admitted the force of this representation, and withdrew his opposition to the Friendly Societies Act, which was afterwards passed.

    Some years later when, acting as Commissioner of the Morning Star, I was writing upon "Rural Life in Bucks," I became acquainted with the condition of the labourers of Gawcott, who had, as they believed, a grievance.  A commodious schoolhouse in which their little children were educated had been taken from them, and the school was held in a cottage quite inadequate for the purpose.  The parents believed that the schoolhouse was given to them by the kindness of the wife of a former vicar.  For years the poor people had been lamenting their deprivation of the schoolroom.  No one was able to help them.  I said to a friend who sympathised with them, "Why do they not put their case before the Duke of Buckingham, who lives within four miles of them?  If there be an injustice, what is the advantage of ducal influence, of which we hear so much, if it be not exercised for redress in such a case as this?" The answer was, "No one had trust or hope in the Duke, and the poor people are rather afraid of him."  "Then why not apply to the bishop of their diocese?" I answered.  "These poor people, who mostly attend the church, have claims upon him, and surely he is not afraid of the Duke?"  That remedy was thought to be more hopeless still.

    Upon hearing this, though I was not exactly the person to put their case before the Bishop with advantage, I offered to do so, and accordingly I wrote to the Bishop of Oxford.  Since they were hopeless, no harm could come of it.  Things could not be worse if no redress resulted.  My letter was as follows:—

"MY LORD,—Standing without the pale of your lordship's communion, I have no personal claim upon your attention, but I unhesitatingly assume that this circumstance will not disincline you to give ear to a demand if commended by fitness and humanity.

"It is this.  At Gawcott, in Bucks, is a commodious village school erected by the active charity of the wife of the then incumbent—to be held and used in trust for the benefit of the Gawcott poor.  This school, the villagers say, has been appropriated to the purposes of a Middle Class School by the Rev. Mr. Whitehead.  For twelve years the infant poor of Gawcott have been displaced, ill-trained, and personally ill-treated suffering in health and morals.  Their situation is a public scandal.  Herewith I beg to enclose your lordship certain public letters written by myself after personal inspection of the place.  In fairness I add others defensive of the incumbent.  The Rev. Mr. Whitehead, the reputed appropriator, is now leaving Gawcott, if I am correctly informed, and is about to sell the schoolhouse, which, if suffered, will complicate or compromise the claim of the poor to its use.  There may be a remedy for this wrong in equity, but these poor villagers can never invoke it.  The Rev. Mr. Whitehead is undoubtedly a kind-hearted gentleman, who has done much in his way for the Gawcott poor.  The villagers speak affectionately of him in many respects, but nevertheless say 'he has defrauded us of our school.'

"My lord, whether these poor people are acting under a painful delusion, or suffering, as I believe, a great wrong, they are equally entitled to your all-powerful consideration, which I am told is never refused to the humblest person in your diocese who really deserves it.  If these villagers are under a wrong impression, let an inquiry dispel it; let the Trust Deed be published.  They will be instructed, they will be satisfied: and, if they are in error, the Rev. Mr. Whitehead will be vindicated.  If, however, the reverend gentleman has acted wrongfully, none but your lordship can do these poor villagers justice.  You can prohibit the sale of the school, and restore to these poor children that education which a merciful lady of your Church once provided for them.  The people of Gawcott are poor, are timid, are despairing.  They pray for a powerful friend.  They hoped and ought to have found one in the Mayor of Buckingham.  He, however, is silent, fearing the ducal influence he would confront.  The Duke does not—as it would be graceful and noble to do—volunteer them protection.  These poor villagers should be able to obtain redress from their own clergyman, but he is the alleged offender.  You, their bishop, high in holy and independent authority, may not hesitate to act where mayors fear and dukes neglect, and for the sake of these friendless villagers I entreat your lordship's interference.—I am, your lordship's obedient servant,


    The Bishop sent a courteous reply, and said that he would request the Rural Dean to inquire into the case, and when he received the report he would send it to me.

    The cottage room in Gawcott, in which the poor children received their humble instruction, was as unsatisfactory as any school I ever entered.  From fifty to sixty children occupied raised seats, as in a theatre.  The young woman who acted as teacher stood in their midst, without room to move among them.  Indeed, they were so crowded that any of them could be reached with the cane.  Without other ventilation in the room than the fireplace, the air was unbreathable, and the pallid, consumptive look of the teacher showed that she found it so.  The parents complained that if one child caught the measles all the children had it, and then the school was closed for a time.  The description of the state of things as I found them, which I published in the Morning Star, I enclosed in my letter.

    The Bishop was as good as his word, and in due time sent me the report of the Rural Dean and a copy of the Trust Deed, asking my opinion upon them, whereupon I wrote to the Bishop as follows, from which the reader will gather what the Rural Dean's report was:—

"MY LORD,—I am under obligation for the courtesy and consideration with which you have made inquiries respecting the allegations of my letter of February 1st, and sent for my perusal the replies you have received.  These enable me to present to the villagers a clearer and more definite view of the case than I was able to put before.  There is clearly an end of the alarm that the Rev. Mr. Whitehead is about to sell the school.  That gentleman's denial is conclusive.  I dismiss this point.  The grievance of the villagers is substantially this:—

"They say the schoolhouse was built for the benefit of the infant poor of Gawcott; that the instruction given was to be under the direction of the incumbent is not in question.

    "They say that the object of the benevolent foundress of the school, the wife of the incumbent of that day, was to provide a place where the infant children of the poor wives of the village could be sent during the day.

    "They say that this was the meaning of the words in the Trust Deed 'to permit and suffer the said schoolhouse to be used and enjoyed in such manner for the religious instruction of the poor children of the said hamlet.'  They say that the schoolhouse was used in this way for the eight years previous to the Rev. Mr. Whitehead's coming to the hamlet, when he turned the poor children out of the school.

    "They say that the poor children, 70 in number, were crowded for years into a small room unfit and unhealthy, where it was a sin to put them and a scandal to keep them.

    "It is never difficult anywhere to find middle-class subscribers who, lured by the offer of a superior education for their sons, will not be of opinion that their own interests include the rights of others usurped by them.

    "The Trust Deed shows that Mr. Whitehead had a right to use the place as he saw fit, but for 'the instruction of the poor children.'  But the use to which he put it was not that, but was for the benefit of the middle-class children.  The benefits he offers do not meet the want of an infant school and were not so intended, as he has kept up a cruel sort of child-pen, under the name of an infant school, in the village.  Is the rural dean aware that Mr. Whitehead's offer of instruction is at an age when the children begin to go to work and cannot use it?  It is a good, but comes too late.  Mr. Whitehead's Middle School is entirely praiseworthy and needed in Gawcott, and, had these middle-class parents built a school for themselves, there would have been but one unmixed feeling of gratitude towards the reverend founder.

    "Mr. Whitehead's evidence shows that he found the school house occupied as an infant school.  Only three children under eight are now in the school.  There were eighty under that age before Mr. Whitehead's time.

    "Mr. Whitehead admits that he found the room in the occupation of an infant school.  He does not deny that it had been so occupied for the eight years during which it had been built.  He states that he called together the subscribers of the school.  But he does not say whether these were the parties to the Trust Deed, and who subscribed to build the school.  Should he not have called together the parents of the poor children who were to be turned out to make way for the children of these subscribers?  Had these parents consented, Mr. Whitehead's case would be made out.

"Apart from any truth or relevance there may be in these representations—which do not affect the right to dispose of the school for other uses than those which the villagers desire-power to redress the evil which exists is, I believe, nevertheless, in your lordship's hands.  Were you to express an opinion that you think, under the circumstances, the farmers, whose children are now educated in the schoolhouse, should build a new school for their own use, they would, under the encouragement of your lordship's opinion, do it.  They are well able to do it, and I have ascertained from personal inquiries that many would be disposed to take that course, if commended to them by your lordship.  I have the honour to be, your lordship's faithful servant,


    Before making these representations I visited Gawcott again, called upon the officers of the church and several of the farmers, and suggested the erection of a schoolhouse for themselves, which would be honourable to them and insure the gratitude and good feeling of the villagers.  The Bishop very generously did express his opinion and advised them to build for themselves.  A new schoolhouse was built, and the old one restored to the villagers, which they enjoy to this day.

    Considering how unlikely, and I fear how unacceptable, a person I was to interfere in the matter, the willing and courteous attention given to my representations impressed me, as it did all the people in the district who knew or heard of the correspondence, with grateful admiration of the impartial generosity of the Bishop of Oxford.

    The Bishop was not my adversary.  He had not, as the Bishop of Peterborough had done, delivered lectures against views I held, and in a manner challenged my answer.  I was not a resident in Bishop Wilberforce's diocese, and had no right, except on purely public grounds, to interfere in its affairs.  It showed an intrinsic love of justice on his part that he should give heed to what he might rightfully regard as alien representations.

    When the Bishop died some years after, from a fall from his horse, one night in the House of Lords I listened to various encomiums on his character.  Speaker after speaker pronounced eulogiums on his zeal, his eloquence, and his various attainments—no one gave any instance which impressed the public mind as to the qualities of his heart and mind; and, though I was not the person qualified to lay a chaplet on the Bishop's grave, I wrote to The Times citing his conduct at Gawcott in illustration of his character.


THOSE who otherwise followed Landor's advice and "waited," next saw Napoleon III.  a fugitive and an exile.  In 1872, he was at Brighton at the time of the meeting of the British Association.  There arrived also a Frenchman of repute both as a politician (who had fought at the barricades) and as a man of science—Wilfrid de Fonvielle.  He and his brother Elric were my oldest friends in Paris.  I had been their guest.  Elric, a man of accomplishments and courage, had had trouble with the Bonapartes.  It was he who accompanied Victor Noir on his visit to Prince Pierre Napoleon.  But he was not an amiable person to call upon, for he shot Victor Noir dead without provocation, and fired three times at his friend Elric de Fonvielle, but without killing him.  The Emperor had saved the Prince from being hanged as he ought to have been.  If the reader bears this in mind, he will understand the perturbation of the Emperor on having to confront Wilfrid de Fonvielle, who was not indisposed to avenge the attempt to shoot his brother Elric, as I have to relate.

    It was with Wilfrid that I was most intimate.  On arriving in Brighton he came to consult with me about lodgings, as the list at the Reception Room was exhausted.  His intention was to join his friend and co-balloonist, Mr. Glaisher, who had taken rooms at Cannon Place, in the rear of the Grand Hotel.  As Mr. Glaisher had not arrived, I induced the landlady to allow M. de Fonvielle, his friend, to occupy his chambers until he came.  Thus he resided within a few yards of the apartments of the Empress, and from her window she could see his house.  But he neither intended, nor sought, nor wished that situation.

    The Napoleonic fete day immediately preceded the meeting of the British Association, and many Frenchmen, who were then in Brighton, had congregated a good deal about the hotel.  Thinking the sound of the "Marseillaise" might remind the Emperor that liberty was still living in France, some Frenchmen paid a band to play it under the Emperor's window; but M. de Fonvielle very properly stepped into the hotel to inquire if there were any objection to it on the part of the proprietors, who were responsible for the convenience of their guests.  Not obtaining the information, he descended the steps.  The bandmaster, seeing him come from the hotel, thought he was one of the Emperor's suite, and one of them asked whether it was right to play.  On being told by Fonvielle that "he did not know," the bandsman said, "Do you not belong to the hotel?  Seeing you come out, I thought you belonged to the Emperor's party."  It would have been easy to mislead the band and get the terrible "Marseillaise" played, but the answer was that of a gentleman—"No, I do not belong to the hotel; I am not of the Emperor's party."  It ended in no music being played.  The band offered to go to Cannon Place, and play the "Marseillaise" to de Fonvielle.

    On the night of the address of the President (Dr. W. B. Carpenter) in the Dome, I was standing near him, and de Fonvielle next to me.  All at once the audience on the platform and floor of the Dome rose, we knew not why.  Looking round, I said to de Fonvielle, "Here is the Emperor," who was walking, with the aid of a stick, towards us.  M. de Fonvielle, not remembering where he was, was disgusted to see such deference paid to the expelled adventurer who had brought such misery on the people of France.  De Fonvielle and other Frenchmen cried out, "Shame!"  "Shame!"  "Don't do that!"  I said; "remember you are on English ground, and that the Emperor is an exile here.  As such, he is the guest of the nation.  We receive him as we would a Republican or a Communistic exile.  Tyrant and patriot stand here on neutral ground."  My friend at once desisted, but his excitement was pardonable.

    The quick eye of the Emperor knew de Fonvielle, and they steadily looked at each other.  The brilliant audience in the Dome settled down, and Dr. Carpenter was proceeding with his address, when a local agitation was observed opposite the ex-Emperor, between the small, compact, quick de Fonvielle and a large, diffusive, rather phlegmatic clergyman of the Church of England (Dr. Griffiths), one of the secretaries of the local committee.  Rapid and subdued words, a sharp flash of the eyes on the part of the French aeronaut, a sort of aquarium look on the part of the divine, and a hasty seizing of a small parcel by the Gaul, were all that could be made out.  Immediately de Fonvielle arose with a shrug of excitement.  Doubling his marine cap under his arm, and raising himself erect, he marched in front of the Emperor straight out of the Dome, merely stopping as he passed me to say, "I shall see you again."

    Not all the practised sagacity of the Emperor could make out that series of movements, of ambiguous meaning.  Doubt soon reached the point of perturbation, for the dark-headed, square-shouldered, gleaming-eyed Frenchman returned, and striding in front of the Emperor, who might well feel relieved when he had passed him, de Fonvielle was next seen in fierce altercation with Dr. Griffiths, to whom he presented some oval packet not much unlike a small Orsini shell (as the Emperor might think who had remembrances of those missives), and then withdraw it, thrusting it into his own pocket.  Immediately the clerical gentleman began an excited speech, whereupon the Frenchman threw the packet to him.  The Doctor opened it, and said something to de Fonvielle which appeared to appease him.  Meanwhile Dr. Carpenter, knowing nothing of the bye-play under his reading desk, went on quoting Pope until the end.

    The imperial visitor must have given the Empress that evening a curious account of the mysterious proceedings in which, to his astonishment, a respectable clergyman of the Church of England appeared to take a conscious part.  The mystery was never explained to his Majesty; but it was all comedy, not tragedy.  Dr. Griffiths, amid his many labours as local secretary, had acquired a sore throat, and it occurred to him that while the President was speaking he might find time to try a lozenge as a remedy.  Seeing de Fonvielle in aeronaut marine dress, he took him for one of the assistants provided by the forethought of Mr. Alderman Hallett, and said to him, "I should be glad if you would take a parcel for me to Mr. Glaisher."  "Mr. Glaisher, do you say?" "Yes, Mr. Glaisher,"' replied Dr. Griffiths.  "Then I will go with pleasure.  I have been all over Brighton looking for my friend Mr. Glaisher.  Please put his address on the parcel, and I will go and inquire for him."  And accordingly he left the Dome as I have related.  Mr. Glaisher and de Fonvielle were joint editors of a work on ballooning.  De Fonvielle was the first man who took a balloon out of Paris during the siege, over the German lines, and he was most anxious to meet Mr. Glaisher.  It was one of his objects in coming to Brighton, and for the hope of meeting him early he was willing to forego the pleasure of hearing the presidential address.  In his eagerness to meet his friend, de Fonvielle had forgotten all about the Emperor, and passed before him without even seeing him.

    When, however, he reached Mr. Glaisher's, he was discomfited and astounded.  It was a chemist's shop.  "Mon Dieu," exclaimed the curious Frenchman, "is my friend Glaisher a chemist and in business in Brighton, and he never to say a word about it?  How reticent these English are!  You must live among them to understand them."  And he plunged into the shop.

    "I want to see Mr. Glaisher, I have a message for him from a gentleman—a priest, I think—now at the Dome meeting.  Tell him M. de Fonvielle wishes to see him."  "I am Mr. Glaisher," said the chemist.  "I have not the pleasure of knowing you.  But what can I serve you with?" "Then what is this?" exclaimed the indignant balloonist, presenting his packet."  Why, it is a note from Dr. Griffiths, inclosing a shilling, saying he has a bad cold, and asking for a box of throat lozenges."  "Mon Dieu!  And has he sent me on this infernal errand?  And I have lost the President's address, to buy lozenges for a person I don't know; and you are not my friend Glaisher, but a chemist?" And he darted from the shop, leaving the paper and the shilling.  But soon reflecting that as a gentleman he was bound to account for the money he had received, he stepped back and consented to take the box.

    Returning to the Dome he again marched up the reporters' gangway, passing again before the Emperor, but no more regarding him in his new indignation at Dr. Griffiths, of whom he demanded whom he had taken him for, and why he had sent him to buy his lozenges.  "You shall not have them," exclaimed the irate Gaul, after displaying them, and he thrust them back into his pocket.  "You sent me to a chemist, sir, and not to my friend Glaisher."  Dr. Griffiths, understanding at last what a mistake he had made, apologised; his indignant messenger relented, and, handing the Rev. Doctor the box, peace was made.  But the mystery of it was unintelligible to the Emperor and to the audience, who observed these Gallic movements.  They certainly seemed ominous to me until de Fonvielle came and explained them.

    It was known that the Empress did not regard the matter with the equanimity of her Imperial husband.  The lady actually had fears of some attempt at assassination, which were not allayed by learning that De Fonvielle was actually living in Cannon Place, within a few yards of her own apartments in the Grand Hotel.  He did not intend being there; it was too far from the sections.  This, however, was not known, or the Mayor, Mr. Cordy Burrows, who was rightly and assiduously solicitous for the comfort of the Empress, would have explained the matter to her.  Mr. J. E. Mayall, the famous photographer, and chairman of the hotel company, gave orders that no French gentleman not of the Emperor's suite should be permitted to have apartments or to enter the hotel, and, at inconvenience to himself, acted as a guard of etiquette and peace while the Imperial visitors remained at the Grand Hotel.

    But for the Empress, the Emperor would have remained in Brighton.  He liked the gaiety of the New Pier, and the brightness of the scene from the Grand Hotel windows.  The perilous journey the poor lady made to this country, after the affair of Sedan, and the affairs in Paris subsequently, had not been of a nature to reassure her.  The Empress went over Hove Place House (the property of Mr. Mayall), which the Emperor contemplated taking.  It seemed admirably suited to him—enclosed grounds, a handsome house, near the pier, yet out of the way of the town, and overlooking the open country Dykewards, where he could drive for days unobserved.  But nothing could reconcile the illustrious lady to stay in the town.

    There were other French gentlemen in Brighton besides M. de Fonvielle, but they were all engaged in scientific inquiry, and had no intention of diverting their attention from those pursuits.  They were desirous, nevertheless, of showing the Emperor that they still maintained their political hostility towards him.  When an Englishman has triumphed over his political adversary, he will be civil to him, and even pay him honour.  The Emperor might have remained in Brighton with perfect security.  The Scriptures say that certain people flee when no man pursueth.  In a few days the novelty of the Imperial visit would have subsided.  The Association would be gone; the Frenchmen, too, would have departed to their homes.  They were all philosophers engaged on ideas, and that never means other than limited resources to them.  They remain poor that society, which disregards them while they live, may grow rich when they are dead.

    Most lovers of the good fame of England have noticed how Court journalists and Court officials continually gave to the ex-Emperor and family their full reigning titles, ignoring the French people and the Republican Government who had expelled them in the public interest.  This was international offensiveness.  It was done at Brighton.  M. de Fonvielle, being deputed by the French Government to report upon the laws of storms, resented the description of the late Emperor as "His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of the French," and wrote to Mr. Griffith (not Dr. the Griffiths whose name has occurred in this narrative, but the Assistant-General Secretary) saying:—

"DEAR SIR,—I find that M.  Louis Bonaparte and family are styled in a manner which is disregardful of the whole present state of things in France.  I have no objection to meet the ex-Emperor in a scientific forum, but I should not be willingly a party in an Association which could be considered as giving some assistance to any demonstration against the French Government; and I should protest energetically, humble as may be my individual position, against such a perversion of science for promoting the ends of hostile factions.  Consequently I think I am justified in asking on what authority the Association has done this?

" (Signed)         W.  DE FONVIELLE."

Mr. Griffith replied, saying—

"DEAR SIR, It is to be regretted that you have felt it necessary to give a political significance to a matter which has in no way a political bearing.  [This was not true.] It is as a foreigner who has always taken a prominent interest in science that the ticket has been given to the late Emperor of the French.  By this course the Association has not intended to express any opinion on the position of the late Emperor of the French as either de facto or de jure ruler of France.  [But it did it.]"

 (Signed) G.  GRIFFITH."

    The action of Mr. Griffith was better than his explanation.  The next day a new list of foreigners attending the meeting was issued, in which "His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of the French" was changed into "His Imperial Majesty Napoleon III."  Whether the ex-Emperor inquired why his title was changed I never heard.

    The next time I saw the Emperor he was dead.  I saw him twice at Chislehurst after his decease.  Death had lent dignity to his face which it lacked when living.  When he resided here as a libertine, when he returned as an Emperor, and again as an exile, the expression of his face was always that of an adventurer.  Seeing his end in exile without honour, it was impossible not to feel that this world is not so bad as it is painted.  Napoleon I. might have continued to sit on the throne of the Cæsars could his word have been depended upon, and the dead Usurper renewed and confirmed the impression of the world that no Bonaparte could be believed on his word nor trusted on his oath.  When Napoleon III.  made a triumphal entry into Bordeaux soon after the Coup d'Etat, it was arranged that from an arch of flowers, under which he was to pass, an imperial crown should hang, surmounted by the words, "He well deserves it."  But the wind blew away the crown, and when the Emperor passed under the arch only a rope with a noose at the end of it dangled there, with "He well deserves it" standing out in bold relief above it.  The noose still hangs over him in history, and the legend also.


ONE Sunday afternoon, in March, 1878, a meeting was held in Hyde Park in support of Mr. Gladstone's policy on the Eastern Question.  The two principal persons taking part in it were the Honourable Auberon Herbert and Mr. Bradlaugh.  The chief supporters of the Conservative Government of the day were the music-hall politicians, a class of persons little distinguished for sober discernment in public affairs or for patriotic service.  A wild and vain glorious ditty, calculated to excite the contempt of foreigners, was sung with ostentatious applause in their convivial halls.  Its best known lines were—

"We don't want to fight,
 But by jingo if we do,
 We have the ships, we have the men,
 And have the money too."

    A certain Lieutenant Armitt, not much heard of previously in war or politics, assembled these jocund politicians in the park, and a conflict ensued.  It was reported in the papers that Mr. Herbert was chased and had his clothes torn, and that Mr. Bradlaugh drew a new truncheon from his pocket, which he fortunately did not use—probably because those who knew him thought it undesirable to incite him to do it, as he was not a man to be intimidated in maintaining the right of public meeting.  Afterwards a portion of the assembly set out to Harley Street, and broke Mr. Gladstone's windows.  The poet of the music-hall patriots received a Royal letter of approval of his production, and those vinous politicians thought themselves called upon to give some public proof of their quality.  It was not advisable that truncheons should be produced at a Sunday meeting by any party.  As I was an advocate of the freer use of Sunday than was customary, I thought fighting on that day would compromise the claim, and that a belligerent meeting was better held on the Saturday, since the Sunday succeeding would give the humbler combatants time to recover before their workshop duties on Monday commenced.  I, therefore, said the leaders of the Jingoes were better left to their own devices on church day.  I entitled my letter to the Daily News "The Jingoes in the Park."  This was the origin of the term "Jingoes," and was the first time it was used.  The public reading it in the Daily News on the morning of March 13, 1878, the term was taken up generally, and it was added to the nomenclature of political literature.  We had then a Music Hall majority in the House of Commons, and the patriotism of the singing saloons and the spread-eagleism of Lord Cranbrook, would produce a bad impression of England on the public opinion of Europe if no one openly expressed dissent.

    Mr. Justin McCarthy, in the first edition (and probably in others) of his "History of Our Own Times," said "The origin of the term was ascribed to Mr. Holyoake."  The editor of the World subsequently remarked, "It is a common belief that the term jingo was first applied to a certain political party by Mr. G. J. Holyoake," to whom I answered (November 27, 1878) that it was so, as I had certainly intended to mark, by a convenient name, a new species of patriots who, often found in the germ state in their native haunts, had propagated in the bibulous atmosphere of a Tory Government, had begun to infest public meetings, and were unrecognised and unclassified.  Their characteristic was a war-urging pretentiousness which discredited the silent, resolute, self-defensiveness of the British people.  Sir Hardinge Giffard, the Solicitor-General of the day, in a speech at Salford, reported in the Standard, deprecated the application of the term to the Conservative Government, saying the "phrase was presented to the Liberal party" by Mr. George Jacob Holyoake, who, he (the speaker) thought, "might claim better than the accredited leader in the House to be the leader of the Liberal party in the country, as he found brains for them."  Of course he did not mean this.  His object was to disparage his political antagonists in Parliament.  A term to obtain currency must be brief, relevant to the time, and easily spoken.  The qualities I did not invent.  I had no merit save that of discerning them in the new political pretensions of the Music Hall party and their Jingo song.

    The Irish World (March 30, 1878), of New York, gave a cartoon, in which the British Lion, with a knife and pistol in his belt, a revolver in one hand, and a waving Union Jack in the other, is calling upon the Jingoes in the park to follow him to demolish Mr. Gladstone's house.  The scene had a special application in the New York paper, as a Jingo riot had broken out in Toronto.  The central figure in the cartoon is the first of the Jingoes, upon whom volumes have since been written.

    In controversy which arose on this subject, Mr. G. J. Harney cited St.  Gingoulph as the origin of the term Jingo who may be taken as a patron saint.  The World newspaper is in favour of an origin more German—that of the Salisburia or gingko-tree (mentioned by Mr. A. R. Wallace in the Fortnightly Review, 1878)—"a pine with a foliage like that of a gigantic maidenhair fern."  The World says the Jingo tree received the name of Salisburia from Smith so long ago as 1796.  If this be true, it had not outgrown its name in 1878.  The Ranger might plant a Salisburia in the Park.  Then we should have a Jingo tree as well as a "Reformers' tree."  There is an abuse of the term when applied to politicians of intelligence and sober thought who are for the consolidation of the empire or for imperial policy.  The Jingoes are mainly the habitués of the turf, the tap-room, and the low music halls, whose inspiration is beer, whose politics are swagger, and whose policy is insult to foreign nations.


IN 1874, the projectors of "Johnson's American Cyclopædia" desired to include in it an article on the Anti-Corn Law League.  It came to pass that, on the advice of Mr. Smalley, I was asked to write it.  I remember well that when I delivered it to the European agent of the "Cyclopaedia," a poet known as "Hans Breitman, "he asked me what he should pay me.  I had not thought of that, thinking there was a tariff already fixed which I should be paid per column, as is usual in these cases.  Three pounds seemed to me a probable sum.  I answered: "As I had to go to Basingstoke to see Mr. Paulton, I would add £1 on that account," and named £4.  Producing a handful of sovereigns, Mr. Leland said, "You had better take seven."  As I had expended time in research and correspondence upon the paper, and as there was nothing in my circumstances that made £7 inconvenient to me, I took it.  The incident is still in my memory, as that form of payment was new to me.  It was freedom of payment consistently applied to an article on freedom of trade.

    Before writing it I asked Mr. Leland if he had any suggestions to make as to the character of the article.  His reply was sensible and characteristic.  He answered: "It would be useless.  I would say, however, that I find a great disposition (and it is very creditable) among English writers for American publications to write so as to please Americans.  It is a very hazardous experiment, and frequently fails."  I was not likely to run this risk.  My wilfulness in writing would preserve me from it.  My policy is simply to tell the reader the truth relevant to the subject, so far as I know it, without implying that the reader is a fool if he takes a different view, for I never forget that the readers who differ from me may be better informed than myself.  No reader is displeased who is treated with candour and respect.

    In the days of the Morning Star there appeared a short letter from Mr. Bright to a correspondent in which the case of Free Trade was stated with a completeness I had never seen equalled.  I wrote to Mr. Bright to ask if it remained in his mind, and if there were any special sources of information I ought to consult—provided "his leisure, or health, or opportunity, or wishfulness permitted him to answer."  He kindly replied as follows:—

"ROCHDALE, Sept.  23, 1874.

"DEAR Mr. HOLYOAKE,—I am glad you are to write the article on the League, but I do not know how I can help you.  The doings of the League are written in detail in the 'Anti-Bread-Tax Circular' and in the League newspaper, and some copies of these exist.  From them, by research and study, everything connected with the movement may be learned.

"To write much is to me burdensome, and my correspondence, diminished as it is, is still burdensome; so I cannot sit down to tell you anything, and indeed I do not feel as if I had anything special to tell you.  If I were in London, and could spend an evening with you, perhaps something might be said that would assist you.  My friend Mr. Paulton is a great authority on League matters.  He was its private and confidential secretary, and a great personal friend of Mr. Cobden and myself.  He is living at Boughton Hall, near Woking; but he is in poor health, and I doubt if he would be able to enter into the matter at all or not.

"I do not remember anything about the letter in the Star to which you refer.

"A good article on the League might do great good in America, and I hope you will be able to write it so as to please yourself.  I feel sure you will do justice to your subject.

"If there is any special point on which you think I can give you an opinion, I shall be glad to hear from you again.—

Yours very truly,                            "JOHN BRIGHT.

"Geo.  J.  Holyoake, Esq., 22, Essex Street, London."

    Mr. Thomas Thomasson, of Bolton, who better understood the political economy of trade than any other manufacturer of those days, and whom both Cobden and Bright consulted when they were young men, sent me, with his usual friendliness, information respecting all the works accessible of Prentice, Dunckley, and others, as did Mr. W. E. A. Axon also.  Afterwards I had the pleasure of visiting Mr. Paulton, of Boughton Hall.  He reminded me of Charles Reece Pemberton.  Still retaining the contagious enthusiasm of his youth, he might be described as having an electric animation of manner.  One thing he said I remember, because it was similar in sentiment to one Francis Place once expressed to me:—" I do not do what I can for men because I have hope of men as they are, but because of what they may be."  It surprised me that two men so dissimilar as Place, the solid-minded, and Paulton, the mercurial, should have the same despair of the present and confidence in the future.  Another remark Mr. Paulton made has been made elsewhere, and must occur to many observers and actors in agitations—namely, "There would be no rogues were there no fools."

    I was a member of the League, and my impressions of its career, principles, and orators may, therefore, have interest for readers of this generation.  The notes Mr. Bright made on my narrative when shown to him I indicate in brackets in this and the next chapter.


    Anti-Corn Law League was a name taken by a famous association of Manchester manufacturers [and others], founded in 1839, for abolishing all fiscal imposts on corn.  The first Manchester election of members of Parliament, which took place in 1832, carried Free Trade candidates, that electoral issue being then raised for the first time in England.  In 1834, the first meeting of the Manchester merchants was called to consider the question of Corn Law repeal.  In 1836, a miscellaneous Anti-Corn Law Society was formed in London which included twenty-two members of Parliament.  Among the names of the adherents were those of George Grote, the historian; Joseph Hume, the economist; Sir William Molesworth, editor of the works of Hobbes; John Arthur Roebuck, historian of the Whigs; Ebenezer Elliot, the Corn Law rhymer; W. H. Ashurst, a leading promoter of the Penny Postage System; Francis Place, the chief of working-class agitators [Place was not a working man in the common use of the term.  He was a tailor at Charing Cross in good circumstances and of gentlemanly education.—J. B.]; and William Weir, subsequently editor of the Daily News; Gen. Perronet Thompson, the great exponent of Free Trade.  But no intellect, however eminent and various in its force, could avail against monopoly without money and popular opinion; and of these forces the precursor was W. A. Paulton, a young surgeon of bright, incessant enthusiasm, with a genius for agitation.

    In 1838, a Dr. Birnie had announced at the theatre, Bolton, Lancashire, a "Lecture on the Corn Laws."  The doctor was laden with notes, in which he got so entangled that he could not tell what he had to say.  Mr. Thomas Thomasson, afterwards the executor of Cobden, a man of striking energy of character and commercial sagacity, being among the auditors, said to Paulton, who was near him, "You can speak; go down on the stage and deliver the doctor."  The spontaneity and capacity which Paulton showed on that occasion led to his being invited to lecture himself, and ultimately he delivered three hundred lectures against the Corn Laws throughout Great Britain.  He became the private and confidential secretary of the future League, which his eloquence and thoroughness mainly instigated.  At a dinner given to him at Bolton, Mr. Bright made the first public speech delivered out of his native town, Rochdale.  Later in the same year Dr. Bowring, then of Free Trade repute, being entertained to dinner in Manchester, Mr. James Howie cried out, on Mr. Paulton's health being drunk, "Why could not we have a Free Trade Association?"  A week later one was formed, consisting of seven persons, of which the chief was Mr, Archibald Prentice, founder of the Manchester Examiner, who had himself, as early as 1828, advised the foundation of such a society.  A subscription of five shillings each was adopted; £5,000 each was wanted before Corn Law repeal was carried.  Some members paid that amount, and Mr. Thomasson much more.

    In 1838, Mr. Cobden first became prominent in the Manchester Chamber of Commerce for resistance to the restrictive commercial policy of the manufacturing trade of the country.  In 1839, delegates from the manufacturing districts were appointed to proceed to London to press their opinions upon the Legislature.  Mr. Charles Pelham Villiers, who ten years later became President of the Poor Law Board, undertook to represent the Free Trade question in the House of Commons.  On February 19th, 1839, Mr. Villiers moved that certain manufacturers be heard by counsel, before the bar of the House of Commons, against the Corn Laws, as injurious to their private interests.  The motion was rejected by an overwhelming majority.  On March 12th following, the day on which the Anti-Corn Law League originated, Mr. Villiers again moved that the House resolve itself into a committee of inquiry on the Corn Laws," when only 195 members could be found to vote for inquiry [I doubt whether so many voted so.—J. B.], while 342 voted against it.

    Discouraged and dismayed, the partisans of inquiry, who had come up from Manchester to await the result of the motion, rushed over to Herbert's Hotel, then standing in Palace Yard, opposite the House of Parliament, to consider what could be done.  It was in that crowded room that Cobden, leaping on a chair, reminded the delegates of the victorious effects of the Hanseatic League, which, three centuries previously, had freed the trade of Hans Towns from the imposts of German princes.  "Let us," cried Cobden, "have an Anti-Corn Law League, which shall free corn and trade also."  It was then and there that the League originated.  Cobden proposed that a fund of £50,000 be raised, and a considerable portion of that sum was subscribed in the room.  The chief Manchester commercial houses followed with subscriptions of £50 and £100 each.

    The English Corn Laws, which had for their object the restriction of the trade in grain, date as far back as 1360.  At that time the prohibition was against exportation.  It was not until 1462 that an Act was passed prohibiting its free importation.  The object of the Anti-Corn Law League of 1839 was stated by the chairman (Mr. J. B. Smith) on the occasion of Paulton's first lecture, in the Manchester Corn Exchange, "to be the same righteous object as that of the Anti-Slavery Society, which sought to obtain for the negro the right to dispose of himself; and the object of the League was to obtain for the people the right to dispose of their labour for as much food as could be got for it, in whatever market the exchange could be made."  The Leaguers little foresaw at the time the formidable work they had undertaken, and only gradually learned themselves, as the great agitation proceeded, the principles they had to establish.  What they discovered was that monopoly always had advocates ready made, who, sharing in its exclusive advantages, had reasons for being enthusiastic in its defence.  Any tradesman would profit could he exclude from the market rival articles of those in which he dealt.  His profits would increase at the expense of the purchaser.  The monopolist dealer considers this protection, but the public, who are customers of the market, find it to be but protection on one side—the protection of the seller, while he has his hands in the pocket of the buyer.  What the public want is free purchase in a free market, the power to procure what they want from whomsoever has it to offer.  Free buying—that is protection to the customer.  The doctrine of the purchaser is as much food as a man can buy, for as much wages as a man can earn, for as much work as a man can do; and is the natural and ought to be inalienable birthright of every man who has the strength to labour and the will to work.

    In other things besides corn, protection was always on the side of the seller, until the Anti-Corn Law League freed all English industry from restrictive imposts.  These "Free Traders," as the Leaguers were styled, were opposed by an organised party, who took the title "Protectionist," and maintained—

(1) That Protection was necessary to keep certain lands in cultivation; (2) that it was desirable to cultivate as much land as possible, in order to improve the country; (3) that if improvement by that means were to cease, there must be dependence on the foreigner for a large portion of the food of the people: (4) that such dependence would be fraught with immense danger.  In the event of war, supplies might be stopped, for the ports might be blockaded, the result being famine, disease, and civil war.  (5) That the advantage gained by Protection enabled landed proprietors and their tenants to encourage manufactures and trade; so much so that, were the Corn Laws abolished, half the country shopkeepers would be ruined.  That would be followed by the stoppage of many mills and factories; large numbers of the working classes would be thrown idle, disturbances would ensue, capital would be withdrawn, and no one would venture to say what would be the final consequences.

    By this formidable enumeration, it was made to appear that the end of England was certainly at hand if the corn monopoly was disturbed.  No country in the world can hope to put on record a more appalling set of consequences if protection is menaced.  In England they exercised a commanding influence, even over the working people, who were induced to believe that it was for their interest that bread was made dear.  The learned as well as the ignorant, the aristocracy as well as the small shopkeeper, were under the same uninstructed terror.  Even Sir James Graham declared in Parliament, when a fixed duty on corn instead of a fluctuating one was proposed by Lord John Russell, that "it would not be the destruction of one particular class in the State alone, but of the State itself."'  Sir Robert Peel at first met the effort of the League by a sliding scale, varying with the price of wheat.  This was a thoroughly English device, worthy of the genius of a people who never precipitate themselves even into the truth.  Had Moses been an English premier, instead of making the Commandments absolute he would have proclaimed a sliding scale of violation.

[Next page]




He was a Wesleyan and of good integrity, until seduced by prospect held out to him of setting up himself with my business.


Afterwards he did, and I was of service to him by sending him letters of introduction.


The best known were Robert Applegarth, George Howell, H. Broadhurst, Lloyd Jones, George Potter, Daniel Guile, P. Barry.



[Home] [Up] [Rochdale Pioneers] [Leeds Co-op Jubilee] [Derby Co-op Jubilee] [Co-operation] [Bygones] [Public Speaking] [Among the Americans] [The Reasoner] [Miscellaneous] [Site Search] [Main Index]