Memoirs of a Social Atom (08)

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CHAPTER XXXVI

'TYRANNICIDE'


THE burden of the crimes of the Second Empire did not fall on France alone.  Italy also shared that burden.  It was, however, before he had waded through blood to a throne that Louis Napoleon had begun the treason against Rome.  When the Republic was proclaimed in the Eternal City, he despatched General Oudinot with a fratricidal expedition to Civita Vecchia, solemnly declaring it was not his object to "force upon the State a government contrary to the will of the people."  This was in April, 1849.  "Three months after," says Mazzini, "Rome, her Government, the will of her people, were inexorably crushed."  The heroic defence of Garibaldi failed; the bombarded city surrendered; the Triumvirs, Mazzini the chief, wandered about the streets dazed till friendly advisers found them shelter and safety; Garibaldi himself, after incredible hardships, during which he lost his beloved Anita, escaped to the coast and thence into exile.  From that time for many years forward the throne of the Holy Father was poised on the points of French bayonets.  Hope there was none for Italy as long as France, misled by the man who had mastered her, remained at the head of the coalition of enemies.  Every Italian knew this—nobody better than a Roman citizen who had valiantly fought against fearful odds in the defence of his home, Felice Orsini.

Felice Orsini
(1819-58)

    The patriotic spirit of Italy, during all the dreadful, dreary years that followed the occupation of Rome, was kept alive by fervent appeals from Mazzini, by schemes which he organized, by revolts and risings which he inspired and in which he shared.  But Orsini was impatient of Mazzini's policy.  He had taken part in many of the daring adventures and struggles of his time.  He had made a marvellous escape from the fortress of Mantua.  The story of that escape, told by himself in a little volume, was as widely read in England as the earlier story of Silvio Pellico's imprisonment in the fortress of Spielburg.  Coming to this country, he had lectured here and there on the cause of Italy and his own sufferings in connection therewith.  Also he had written and published a book of Memoirs.  His earnest faith, his intense patriotism, his absorbing passion—all centred in his beloved Italy—made for him friends and admirers in England.  But he longed for some speedier and more certain results than any that had yet followed the efforts of the revolutionary party.  Writing in 1855 from his dungeon in Mantua, he declared his distrust of the old methods—conspiracies, outbreaks, insurrections.  Again, in his Memoirs, published in 1857, he wrote:—"Italy finds herself at the present moment in the most deplorable condition that can be imagined.  This state of things, however, will not last long, because all depends upon Napoleon, and this man will not be tolerated long, with his government based on despotism and treason."  It would seem that Orsini was even then contemplating the movement which a year later startled all Europe—a movement which was to employ for the salvation of Italy the very methods which had been employed in 1851, but with infinitely more awful accompaniments, for the subjugation of France.

    It came to pass on the night of Jan. 14th, 1858, that Louis Napoleon was returning from the opera.  Bombs burst under his carriage, spread terror and destruction all around, but failed to do more than affright the intended victim.  The explosions—clumsy, ineffective, fatal to many innocent people—were the work of Orsini and his accomplices.  It was thus that he hoped to rid Italy of the one man who made her redemption impossible.  The attempt failed in everything except in arousing the conventional indignation of Europe.  Orsini, who had staked his life on the hazard of a desperate venture, resigned himself to his fate.  He died, as Mazzini a few months later counselled Louis Napoleon to die, "collected and resigned."

Louis Napoleon
(1808-73)

    Throughout England there was one long howl of execration.  The newspapers forgot the provocation—forgot the bombardment of Rome, the maintenance of the subjugation of Italy—forgot the crime of Dec. 2nd, which had begot the crime of Jan. 14th—forgot their own bitter imprecations of the author of the parent crime.  [22]  Orsini, from one end of the land to the other, was denounced as a vulgar assassin.  Every epithet of abhorrence was heaped upon his name.  It seemed to be thought that there was absolutely no difference between him and the vilest ruffian that had ended his days in Newgate.

    But surely there was another side to the picture.  Would not somebody take cognisance of the cause of the attempt, of the motive that impelled it, of those not very distant events which had generated in an otherwise high-souled man a fierce and implacable passion?  The question presented itself to some of us.  It presented itself to me.  I prepared a paper which was in some measure a protest against the universal chorus of condemnation, and at the same time an attempt to explain some of the ethical points involved in the catastrophe.  The production was juvenile enough; but it did at any rate show that the event which had so excited and enraged the Press had really another aspect than that alone which the exponents of public opinion were content to recognise.

    The manuscript was offered in the first place to George Jacob Holyoake, then a publisher in Fleet Street.  Mr. Holyoake declined the offer, for one reason, I understood him to say, because he was already in treaty with Mazzini for a pamphlet on that very subject.  "Very well," I said, "if Mazzini or anybody else will raise a voice against the pitiful clamour of the day, especially the beatification of Orsini's intended victim, I will pitch my own little screeching behind the fire."  The pamphlet which Mr. Holyoake had in his mind was probably that terrific indictment of Louis Napoleon, one of the classics of the Revolution, which was published a few months later by Effingham Wilson.  If Mazzini's letter, which must have made even imperial villainy squirm, had appeared earlier, this chapter would not have been written.  But, like Orsini, I was impatient: so the manuscript was offered to Edward Truelove at Temple Bar.  It was the beginning of a life-long friendship.  Mr. Truelove was pleased with the piece that was submitted to him—almost as pleased, I think, as the young author himself.  Yes, he would get it printed at once.  But he had two suggestions to make.  One was that the title of the pamphlet should read—"Tyrannicide: Is it justifiable?"  The other related to a name or nom de-plume for the title-page.  The manuscript was anonymous: it was intended to be anonymous.  "The name," I said, "is nothing, the argument everything.  The argument can stand by itself: the authority for it will add nothing to its weight, particularly an unknown authority."  Mr. Truelove then suggested a nom-de-plume.  "Well," I said, "if there is to be a name, it shall be my own."  So the thing went forth.  But nobody believed the name to be other than fictitious.  The pamphlet was said to be the work of a French exile.  I was told myself that Louis Blanc was the author.  Even workmen in the office who knew me and knew my name, when discussing the pamphlet and the prosecution, did not associate me with the authorship.  It remained an open mystery to the end. [23] 

Edward Truelove
(1809-99)

   The police of the Metropolis were vigilant in those days.  It is likely that they acted under orders; for despatches had already been received from the French Government.  Anyway, the pamphlet had not been on sale for more than a few hours before an inspector of police invited Mr. Truelove to accompany him to Bow Street.  The invitation was so imperative that he was not allowed to do more than change one coat for another.  That day I was taking my usual walk with a fellow compositor during the dinner hour towards the Strand.  We had passed the book-shop at Temple Bar.  Suddenly I was clutched by the arm.  "Come, I want you: Truelove has been arrested."  The person who spoke was urgent and excited.  It was the wife of the publisher—a refined and accomplished lady, herself devoted to advanced ideas.  I was enjoying a smoke at the time, but my pipe was effectually put out for the rest of the day.  I went into the book-shop.  There I learnt what had happened.  I, the cause of the trouble, the real offender in the case, was ready to become a substitute for the publisher.  What else could a poor compositor do?  But this, I was told, would make two victims instead of one.  Besides, the police, believing that I was a myth, had no warrant against me.  Mr. Truelove remained in durance—only a few hours—till sufficiently substantial friends could be found to go bail for his appearance before the magistrate next morning.

    The result of the proceedings at Bow Street was a foregone conclusion.  Mr. Truelove was committed for trial.  The charge against him was that of having "unlawfully written and published a false, malicious, scandalous, and seditious libel of and concerning his Majesty the Emperor of the French, with the view to incite divers persons to assassinate his said Majesty."  The charge itself was a false and scandalous libel.  First of all, there was not the smallest intention on the part of author or publisher to incite anybody to do any thing.  Nor was there any incitement either, except such as may arise from indignation at the recital of past crimes.  As for libel, the pamphlet could have been voted libellous only on the old doctrine "the greater the truth, the greater the libel."  The pamphlet, it is true, pointed out that the outrages of tyrants and usurpers are apt to inspire desperate men, and even sensitive and judicious men, to attempt the vindication of their country's rights and honour.  If an adventurer violated his oath, dragged the foremost men of the country from their beds, cast the representatives of the people into dungeons, suppressed and dispersed the courts of justice, slaughtered thousands of unarmed people in the streets, shipped without charge and without trial tens of thousands of innocent citizens to a penal and pestiferous colony, made himself by these and other foul and infamous means the master and oppressor of the people—was he therefore to be absolved from the consequences of his villainies?  This was the question that was asked.  A writer in the Times—the author of the "Letters of an Englishman," understood at the time to be Mrs. Grote, the wife of the historian of Greece—had declared that "a man who sets himself above the law invites a punishment beyond the law."  The doctrine proclaimed by Mrs. Grote after the Coup d'Etat was merely reasserted after the attempt of Orsini.  But no name was mentioned in the pamphlet.  All the same, said Mr. Bodkin, who prosecuted for the Crown, there could be no doubt as to the person meant.  The description could apply only to his Majesty the Emperor of the French.  The cap fitted him exactly.  Where, then, was the falsehood?  Mr. Truelove, however, was committed to take his trial before the Queen's Bench.


 
CHAPTER XXXVII

"A LAME AND IMPOTENT CONCLUSION"


THE prosecution of Edward Truelove was seen at once to be an attack on the liberty of public discussion.  As such it was resented by most of the leading Radicals of the day.  The prosecution was all the more resented because it had clearly been commenced at the instigation of a foreign Government and to appease a foreign despot.  A Committee of Defence was formed; a fund was opened for defraying the expenses of the trial; and local committees in the provinces busied themselves in collecting subscriptions.  John Stuart Mill contributed £20 to the Defence Fund.  Among the other contributors were Harriet Martineau, Professor F. W. Newman, W. J. Fox, Joseph Cowen, James Stansfeld, P. A. Taylor, Dr. Epps, Abel Heywood, Edmond Beales, besides many more whose names, though forgotten now, were well known and even famous at the time.  Charles Bradlaugh was appointed secretary to the committee, and James Watson accepted the office of treasurer.  The duties of the committee were afterwards increased by a second press prosecution—the prosecution of a Polish bookseller in Rupert Street for publishing a pamphlet by three French exiles, Felix Pyat, Besson, and Alfred Talandier.  It may be mentioned, as indicating the bitter spirit of the day, that the Times, which had seven years before printed diatribes as fierce as any in the two pamphlets, refused to advertise the appeal of the committee for subscriptions.  Though the press was hostile, however, the public was not unfriendly; for the announcement that Henry J. Slack, eminent in later years as a microscopist, was going to deliver a lecture on the subject of the prosecutions, drew together a crowded and enthusiastic audience at St. Martin's Hall.  Professor Newman saw more clearly than most people, not only the real character of the English pamphlet, but the consequences that would follow the success of the Government attempt to punish its publisher.  "The question," he wrote, "is not whether Mr. Adams's doctrine is right or wrong, but whether, as an Englishman addressing Englishmen, he has a right to advocate it.  Substantially he protests against the confused application of the word 'assassination,' similar to the confused application of the word 'murder' to all deeds of battle.  It is permissible for a free citizen to argue even against the law under which a felon has been condemned.  If Mr. Adams may not endeavour to convince us that Orsini's deed, though punishable and punished at law, is not morally wrong, I do not see how Englishmen can retain the right of censuring the law at all.  Free moral criticism is effectually stopped."  As for the doctrine of tyrannicide, the sentiment embodied in that doctrine, said Professor Newman, "is that which for ages predominated among Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans, the three nations which have been the chief feeders of our moral and intellectual life."  "If," he added, "we have now outgrown certain sentiments and judgments of those three nations, it is rather too much to prosecute, or rather persecute, those who hold to the old opinion that lynch law against a treasonable usurper is better than no law at all."

    The classical and scriptural doctrine against which so great a hubbub was raised in 1858 had not, however, lost favour even among modern statesmen and poets.  Many examples were cited when the subject was of public interest.  Two or three may be cited here.  Walter Savage Landor was almost fanatical in his pronouncements.  "I have," he wrote to the Marquis d'Azeglio, "never dissembled my opinion that tyrannicide is the highest of virtues, assassination the basest of crimes."  Mr. Disraeli had published in 1834. his "Revolutionary Epic," wherein occurred the well-known lines:—


And blessed be the hand that dares to wave
The regicidal steel that shall redeem
A nation's sorrow with a tyrant's blood.


But only fourteen days before Orsini's attempt a poem of Matthew Arnold's on an incident in Greek history had appeared.  And this is what the poet wrote:—


Murder! but what is murder?  When a wretch
For private gain or hatred takes a life,
We call it murder, crush him, brand his name.
But when, for some great public cause, an arm
Is, without love or hate, austerely raised
Against a Power exempt from common checks,
Dangerous to all and in no way but this
To be annulled—ranks any man an act
Like this with murder?


Quite as truly could the charge of incitement have been preferred against Matthew Arnold as against the author of the "Tyrannicide " pamphlet.

    The prosecution—hateful to the people because it had been instituted at the instance of a Government whose origin and practices were alike odious—was fatal to the Ministry which undertook it.  Lord Palmerston, only a few months before the Orsini affair, had swept the constituencies.  Bright, Cobden, and Milner Gibson all lost their seats.  Ministers had a stronger majority than any previous Ministry for many years.  But they truckled to a foreign Power, and they went speedily to pieces.  The fate of Lord Palmerston's Government is an object lesson in English politics.  Although the Prime Minister had as Foreign Secretary exhibited indecent haste in recognising the Government of Dec. 2nd, the favour he had shown it was not reciprocated seven years later.  Following the Orsini attempt there came despatches from Count Walewski, Minister of Foreign Affairs to Louis Napoleon, that were almost insolent in tone.  England was charged with harbouring murderers, and was practically commanded to restrict her own liberties for the protection of the French Emperor.  And swashbucklers of the French army demanded to be led against what they called a "den of assassins."  It was under the pressure of these insults and menaces that the Government of Lord Palmerston ordered the prosecution of Dr. Bernard, commenced proceedings against the publishers, and even had the supreme folly to attempt a revision of English laws.  So much subserviency could not be tolerated.  When the Conspiracy Bill—otherwise popularly known as the French Colonels' Bill—came up for consideration, an amendment proposed by Mr. Milner Gibson, who had returned to Parliament for a new constituency, shattered to pieces one of the most powerful Ministries of the century.  Lord Palmerston, as a consequence, surrendered the seals of office to Lord Derby.

    The new Government did not abandon the prosecutions; but it showed an evident reluctance to press them; and it eventually succeeded, with the aid of an unprincipled counsel, in finding a way out of the difficulty.  The prosecution of Mr. Truelove commenced in February; but the lame and impotent conclusion of the affair was not reached till the end of July.  Meantime, there had been informal negotiations between the Committee of Defence and the Law Officers of the Crown.  It was intimated to the Government at the outset that the author was ready to surrender himself, provided the proceedings against the publisher were withdrawn.  But the offer was declined.  This was in February.  Three months later the author committed a grave indiscretion: he got married.  It was one of the best day's work he ever did, though he saw afterwards that it would have been more prudent to wait till the so-called libel business was settled.  During the time he was taking a brief holiday in the Isle of Wight, wandering from Ryde to Brading, from Brading to Ventnor, from Ventnor to Newport, from Newport to Ryde again, with no postal address anywhere, an important change occurred in the legal situation.  The Crown authorities, who had refused the proposal of the Defence Committee, now offered to accept it.  The very night the author returned from his short honeymoon he attended a meeting which was called to decide whether he or his friend Truelove should run the risk of a trial that might or might not end in a residence of six or twelve months in one of her Majesty's gaols.  Of course he placed himself unreservedly in the hands of the committee.  That body, however, seeing in the overtures of the Government clear evidence of weakness in the prosecution, declined to help the legal advisers of the Crown out of the quagmire.  Preparations were therefore made for the coming trial.

    It was the desire of the defence that a question which involved a distinct violation of the liberty of the Press should be fought out before a British jury.  Eminent counsel were retained.  Mr. Edwin James had at that time achieved considerable popularity by an impassioned address he had delivered at the Old Bailey on behalf of Dr. Bernard.  It was supposed, too, that he had every prospect of rising from office to office till he finally reached the Woolsack.  But he must even then have begun to disclose to keen observers those faults of character which wrecked his career.  Dickens, after a single sitting, as Edmund Yates records, drew his portrait as Mr. Stryver in "A Tale of Two Cities."  Soon after the inglorious conclusion of the Truelove trial, he found it necessary to take flight to New York, where he made a further mess of his life.  But these things had not happened when Edwin James was thought to be the best man at the Bar to conduct a great trial.  The selection turned out to be a blunder.  We were all expecting a new vindication of the right of public discussion.  What we did not know was that intrigues were in progress to defeat the desired object; that the man who had been chosen to lead the defence was going to betray it.

    The trial was finally fixed for June 22, 1858.  It was to take place in Westminster Hall before Lord Chief Justice Campbell and a special jury.  The prosecution was to be conducted by the Attorney-General (Sir Fitzroy Kelly), Mr. Macauley, Mr. Bodkin, and Mr. Clarke, while associated with Mr. James for the defence were Mr. Hawkins, Mr. Simon, and Mr. Sleigh.  I was working late, as usual, the night before.  Mr. Truelove came to me in a state of great indignation and excitement.  He had just been informed that the case was to be compromised.  Edwin James, without consulting the defendant or the defendant's friends, had settled the matter with the Law Officers of the Crown.  It was never known what was the consideration.  All that was known was that cause and client had both been sold.  But, I said, could not new counsel be retained?  No, it was too late.  Well, then, could not one of the juniors act for us?  No, it was contrary to the etiquette of the Bar.  So a pregnant opportunity was lost.  The rights of a British subject, the rights of the public itself, had been sacrificed to satisfy the conveniences of the Government.  Then came the farce at Westminster Hall.  Sir Fitzroy Kelly solemnly informed the court that the indictment would not be tried; that he understood his learned friend was prepared on behalf of his client, who was "a respectable tradesman, and the father of a large family," etc., etc.  And then Mr. James solemnly disavowed that either the writer or the publisher of the pamphlet had any intention to incite, etc.; that Mr. Truelove, believing, etc., had agreed to discontinue the sale of the pamphlet; and that he trusted, etc.  And then Lord Campbell solemnly told the jury that it was satisfactory to know, etc.; that the pamphlet was such, etc., that he should have said if the trial had proceeded, etc.; that the defendant had acted with the utmost propriety in the course he had taken, etc.  And then the jury solemnly returned a verdict of not guilty.  And so the solemn farce ended.

    The prosecution was begun by Sir Richard Bethell under the Government of Lord Palmerston, and was abandoned by Sir Fitzroy Kelly under the Government of Lord Derby.  It would probably not have been begun at all if a less subservient Minister had been in office.  As it was, Lord Derby and his colleagues were no doubt greatly relieved when they found that they had to deal with so obliging a gentleman as Edwin James.  But the mischief did not end there; for the very changes in the law which were defeated in 1858 were effected at a later date without anybody seeming to know much about it.  Thus was the liberty of discussion restricted.  And thus did it become perilous to show that the slaughter of Garibaldians at Mentana was simply another challenge to tyrannicides.  It was on this occasion that Du Faillu, reporting to the French Government how Italian patriots had been mown down in swathes, exultantly exclaimed: "The Chassepot has done wonders!"  An indignant protest, warning the perpetrator of the outrage of the consequence of his misdeeds, though printed and prepared for publication, had to be suppressed [Ed.--see 'Bonaparte's Challenge to Tyrannicides'].  So were despots and usurpers protected from fitting condemnation, while the very danger which Professor Newman had anticipated befell the country.  But an inexorable fate asserted itself at last.  Twelve years later the despot and usurper who had triumphed on the Boulevards disappeared in shame and ignominy amidst the blood and smoke of Sedan.


 
CHAPTER XXXVIII

THE WORKING MEN'S COLLEGE


FACILITIES for the higher education of the people were far from abundant in the middle of the last century.  Even mechanics' institutes were few and far between.  But scant as were these facilities, it almost seemed that the supply was equal to the demand.  The masses of the community, indeed, were so ignorant that they placed little or no value on education of any sort.  Nor had they grown much more enlightened towards the end of the century; for many were the parents—mothers especially—who, when Mr. Forster's Education Bill had become law, resented the intrusion of the School Board officer.  A few years after that event, I remember accompanying an antiquarian friend on a visit to some historic buildings in the neighbourhood of Tuthill Stairs, Newcastle.  We were surprised to notice the effect of our appearance—women hurrying their children into the houses, or hiding them in other ways.  When we came to inquire the cause of the commotion, we were told that we were thought to be officers of the School Board!  It was really among the educated classes that the necessity for educating the people was first recognised.  Mechanics' institutes and other similar enterprises were thus promoted, formed, and supported by persons who had no need for the establishments themselves.  Precisely in the same way was that best of all institutions of the kind—the Working Men's College in London—set on foot.

    The Rev. Frederic Denison Maurice, the founder of the College, was a distinguished scholar and divine.  More than that, he was a distinguished friend of the people.  He had been associated with Thomas Hughes and Charles Kingsley in what was known as the Christian Socialist Movement.  And he was so much respected and beloved that I found myself, when any point or problem in the doctrine or practices of the Church of England struck me as absurd, asking the question: "How, then, can such things obtain the assent or approval of Mr. Maurice?"  The question settled one difficulty at any rate: that there could be nothing inherently absurd in the matter, else so good and so able a man would not preach or conform to it.  Yet I knew Mr. Maurice only from seeing and hearing him occasionally at our college meetings.  It was out of affection for the people, and especially the working people, that he conceived the idea of placing in the hands of as many as could reach or appreciate them the priceless advantages of a collegiate training.  The venture was commenced in 1854 at a house in Red Lion Square, Holborn.  After two years' successful operations there, the council announced in its second report that a freehold house, No. 45, Great Ormond Street, Bloomsbury, had been purchased for the further work of the college.  The price of the house was £1,500; of this £500 was contributed by Mr. Maurice, and the rest raised on mortgage.  So was permanency given to an institution which has conferred infinite benefit on many a struggling student.

    The staff of the college—whose services were all voluntary of course—was probably as brilliant as that attached to any other college in the kingdom.  Mr. Maurice was the principal.  Associated with him were fifty gentlemen, every one of them eminent in art, science, or scholarship.  The scholars were distinguished in the list of teachers by the degrees they had acquired at the Universities; the others were described as artists, sculptors, or members of the learned professions.  Here are a few of the names:—John Ruskin, Thomas Hughes, F. J. Furnivall, Llewellyn Davies, Lowes Dickinson, R. B. Litchfield, J. M. Ludlow, Godfrey Lushington, Vernon Lushington, Alexander Munro, Dante G. Rossetti, Thomas Woolner, Ford Madox Brown, Frederic Harrison, Edward Burne Jones.  Mr. Ruskin taught a drawing class; Mr. Furnivall taught classes in grammar and in the structure and derivation of English words; and the author of "Tom Brown's School Days," still the best book for boys ever written, besides other work in the college conducted, or wanted to conduct, so that the physical as well as the intellectual culture of the student should not be neglected, a boxing class!  Teachers and students—at least one-third of the latter belonged to the artizan class—constituted a happy family both at Red Lion Square and at Great Ormond Street; for perfect equality prevailed among all.  The only paid officer connected with the college in my time was, I think, the secretary; and this office was held by an old Chartist, Thomas Shorter, whose name I recollected to have seen attached to contributions in Thomas Cooper's Journal.

    My circumstances when I joined the Working Men's College in the autumn of 1855 were not particularly conducive to study.  Being, however, in some sort of settled employment now, the old longing for better education asserted itself.  Wherefore I entered three of the classes in the college—Latin, English Grammar, and the Structure and Derivation of Words.  But the pursuit of knowledge in my case was necessarily attended by many difficulties.  I find in my old diary statements of the conditions under which compositors had to earn their daily bread in the office of a weekly newspaper.  An entry for July 12th, 1855, reads thus :—"Worked without intermission for forty hours; slept for twelve, with many intermissions."  Other entries show that long hours in the middle of the week were the invariable rule.  Monday was our only regular day, and then we worked, or waited for work, from nine o'clock in the morning till eight o'clock at night.  "On Tuesday," the old record runs, "we begin at eight, nine, or ten o'clock.  From that time till the paper goes to press we work without intermission.  Not without interruption, though, especially on Wednesday morning.  Always midnight on Wednesday, frequently early hours of Thursday morning, before the last pages are ready for stereotypers.  Thus nearly forty hours of continuous work—standing nearly all the time, for to sit is to fall asleep, and run the risk of pieing all the matter we may have in our sticks, as has really happened several times in my own case."  The rest of the week we had little to do, except distributing our type ready for the next.  But the leisure we got in that way was poor compensation for the excessive toil that preceded it.  That excessive toil, moreover, was an indifferent preparation for the study of languages.  All the same, the classes were delightful, though I had to give up the Latin from sheer inability to rivet the attention.

    The English classes were conducted by Mr. Furnivall.  Our tutor was a remarkable man at that date, but he has become a much more remarkable man since.  A quarter of a century later he was considered to have done so much excellent work in connection with the study of English philology that he was awarded a pension of £150 a year.  It was said at the time that he was the founder of more literary societies than any man living.  The Early English Text Society, the Chaucer Society, the New Shakspeare Society, the Society for the Publication of old English Ballads—these are among the learned bodies which owe their existence to his untiring efforts.  And the list of books he has edited for the various societies forms a most interesting catalogue of early English literature.  Dr. Furnivall's seventy-sixth birthday fell on Feb. 4th, 1901.  The occasion was celebrated in a unique and appropriate fashion.  A year or more previous fifty of the foremost students and professors of English in different parts of the world—Germans, Americans, Frenchmen among them—combined together to do him honour.  They presented him with an old boat—he declined to accept a new one; they persuaded him to sit for his portrait; and they each contributed to a collection of essays and papers which, along with a bibliography of Dr. Furnivall's own productions, was published in a handsome volume by the Clarendon Press on his next birthday.  Dr. Furnivall is not only a scholar, but a good deal of an athlete—at least he was even after he had entered his sixties.  Like his friend, Tom Hughes—Tom was a term of endearment in this case—he did not, while cultivating the intellectual, neglect the physical element of man.  When he had reached the age of sixty-one, and was president of the Maurice Rowing Club, he is recorded to have won in a single season no fewer than three prizes for his skill as a sculler.  From what has just been said it will be gathered that he retained at seventy-six his old affection for boating on the river.

    But we must hark back to 1855.  Our class evenings were exquisite.  Part of the time Mr. Furnivall took the words as they followed in the dictionary—dissecting them, showing their origin, and tracing their transformation in sound, meaning, and spelling.  Afterwards we read Chaucer and Shakspeare, getting to the root and pursuing the history of every word the poets used.  Mr. Furnivall was at that time pale, handsome, and less than thirty.  The members of his class were mostly working men.  But our tutor put on no airs, as indeed none of the other tutors did.  He was a friend and companion even more than a teacher—absolutely one of ourselves.  It was his delight to take his class on walking or boating excursions on the Sunday.  I remember one glorious afternoon at Kew, for I could not often join the party.  Another summer afternoon I remember being at Hampstead, when teacher and class came pelting along the road with coats over their arms.  Mr. Furnivall on other occasions invited the students to his chambers after lessons.  I joined them one winter's night.  The chambers were in Ely Place, Holborn.  Every nook and corner was filled with books—all treasures of literature.  Here we sat over biscuits and coffee till an advanced hour of the morning, talking or listening to talk about poets and poetry, and languages and literature, and having such a feast of reason and flow of soul as almost never was since Shakspeare had his bout with Ben Jonson at the Mermaid.  Ely Place, closed to all intruders by an iron gate in Holborn, was perhaps then the only locality where an ancient custom of the Charlies was still observed.  Anyway, we heard the watchman crying in the street below—"Past two o'clock, and a frosty morning."  But Dr. Furnivall in those days burnt much midnight oil in his studies, rarely retiring to bed, he told us himself, till five hours "ayont the twal."

    Three of the students of the college acquitted themselves so well that they were elected to the Council of Teachers—Rossiter, Roebuck, and Tansley.  Rossiter was held in high favour and esteem both by professors and students.  And he eminently deserved the position he held, on account alike of his genial qualities, his capacity for acquiring knowledge, and his readiness at all times to impart what he knew to others.  Influenced probably by the commanding and attractive character of Maurice, Mr. Rossiter became a clergyman himself.  Some ten years after the period I have been writing about, he was instrumental in founding another college in the metropolis—the South London Working Men's College, of which Professor Huxley was for a long time the principal.  Ten years later again this institution was removed to Kennington Lane, Lambeth, where Mr. Rossiter, placing his own books at the disposal of the poorer classes of the neighbourhood, opened the first Free Library in South London.  Subsequently, a few pictures being added to the library, this small exhibition became the germ of the South London Fine Art Gallery, which, in 1897, having been acquired by the Camberwell Vestry, was converted into the permanent establishment that is now known as the Passmore Edwards Art Gallery and Technical Institute.  I was brought into contact with Mr. Rossiter again some time in the early nineties—how I can't recollect.  But at that time he was a regular contributor of dramatic and other notes to the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle.  When he died in 1897, the event was sympathetically noticed by all the London and many of the provincial newspapers; for he was, as the Times said of him, and as I can testify from personal knowledge, "much beloved by all whose privilege it was to share his friendship."

    I cannot close this chapter without confessing that large numbers of working people owe a deep debt of gratitude to the eminent and enthusiastic gentlemen who, placing their scholarship at the service of the artizans of London, helped to establish a real bond of union between the richer and poorer classes of the country.


 
CHAPTER XXXIX

MANCHESTER


THE irritating nature of my employment in London, coupled with the miserable wages I was able to earn, owing to the many hours of weary idleness we had to pass in waiting for "copy," induced me to accept the offer of a situation in Manchester.  I had suffered so much, mentally and bodily, from the treatment I had received in common with the rest of our little companionship, that it was no longer a mystery to me why working men hated their employers.  If others endured what I had endured, the animosity was not only excusable, but justified.  The root of the mischief was want of thought or consideration for people whose lot it was to toil in shop or factory.  Indifference to wrongs and evils that can often be easily removed—how can it help but breed bitterness and wrath?  Had the captains of every industry behaved to the rank and file as men ought always to behave to men, they would not have planted those seeds of strife which have brought in recent years so plentiful a crop of strikes and disasters.  Bad masters sowed the wind, and good masters are now reaping the whirlwind.  But I am digressing.

    Manchester at the end of the fifties had stoned its prophets.  But it was still the seat and centre of the political school to which it had given its name.  Mr. Bright, handsome and portly, was often seen in its streets, often heard on its platforms.  The Free Trade Hall was filled to overflowing whenever any great question was to be discussed.  It was there that I heard Kossuth; it was there that I heard Mason Jones; it was there that I heard Washington Wilks.  Kossuth we know; but who were Jones and Wilks?  Jones was an eloquent lecturer, Wilks an eloquent politician of the day.  The Hungarian exile met with a magnificent reception.  The audience seemed to cheer itself hoarse.  A few years later I heard Kossuth again.  It was somewhere in Clerkenwell.  But the audience then was miserably scanty.  Between it and the applauding thousands in Manchester the contrast was terrible.  The fickle populace had forgotten or forsaken its idol.  No wonder that the poor exile, cast down and almost broken-hearted, soon afterwards retired to another clime.  The great hall in which so many stirring scenes were enacted was one of the products of the corn-law agitation.  Mr. George Wilson, the chairman of the association that conducted the movement, was yet an active force in the town.  But when he and other colleagues of his in the old organization ventured to suggest an advance in the direction of Parliamentary reform, they were described and assailed, I recollect, as the "rump of the League."  There came a time, however, as we may see later, when Manchester again led the van.

    Amusing to me, when I became a resident in the town, was the evil reputation I had heard given to it by the chance acquaintance I had met on the road only four or five years before.  The people, I found, were up to the average in behaviour and kindliness—above the average in intelligence and cleanliness.  There was not, I thought, a more neighbourly woman in the world than the Manchester woman.  As for cleanliness, she took as much pride in the front of her house as she did in her own kitchen, whereas women in other parts I have known never think of even sweeping their pavements, no matter what the filth or foulness accumulated around.  But there were black spots about.  Part of Deansgate was a nest of thieves.  The Irk was a foul and inky ditch, and the Irwell and the Medlock were scarcely less loathsome.  The Town Hall was in King Street, and the site of the present municipal palace was a camping-ground for Corporation dust carts.

    Of course there was a better side to the town.  The first Free Library was established in a building that had been erected by the followers of Robert Owen, and branch libraries were being opened in different districts.  The Athenæum was a flourishing institution, as was the Mechanics' Institute, and a Working Men's College was offering immense advantages to poor students.  Pomona Gardens in one direction and Bellevue Gardens in another were favourite resorts of the people.  Charles Calvert was manager of the principal theatre, and Charles Hallé was giving periodical concerts of the highest quality.  Chetham Library was a restful resort, where the quaintest of quaint volumes could be consulted by everybody.  Charming places surrounded the town.  Whalley Range was a residential suburb of exquisite beauty; Brooks's Bar was away in the country; Greenheys Fields were charged with rural walks; beyond Moss Lane the Moss-side Fields afforded opportunity for a lovely ramble to Northenden.  Chorlton-cum-Hardy was a delightful little village within reach of Hulme on a Sunday morning in summer.  For Saturday afternoon excursions—factories and workshops and warehouses were all closed at mid-day or soon after—there were Bowden and Alderley Edge and many another point of attraction.  So Manchester was not such a bad place after all.

    The situation I accepted was that of reader and compositor in a small jobbing office.  Our principal business was the production of the Alliance News, the organ of the United Kingdom Alliance.  Mr. Thomas H. Barker was then the secretary of the society, and Mr. Henry Septimus Sutton the editor of the paper.  Mr. Barker was a man of great energy, absolutely absorbed in his work; Mr. Sutton was a bit of a poet ("Emerson thought some of his pieces were worthy of George Herbert ") who ingeniously turned almost every event of the day into an argument for the prohibition of the liquor traffic.  What I chiefly recollect about the Alliance at that time was the long, elaborate, and masterly reports which Mr. Samuel Pope, the hon. secretary, used to produce for the annual meetings of the society. [24]  Yes, I recollect another thing.  A question had been submitted by the Alliance to the clergy and ministers of religion throughout the country, and hundreds of letters had been received in reply.  These replies were printed in the News, and passed through my hands as reader.  I was astonished at the loose, slovenly, and ungrammatical way in which educated men—all of whom had been trained in colleges and some of whom had won degrees in universities—expressed themselves.  It occurred to me that these gentlemen had spent so much time in the study of Latin and Greek and Hebrew that they had forgotten to learn English.

    The change I had made was, as Mr. Epps said of his cocoa, grateful and comforting.  I had regular work, regular hours, regular wages—always my evenings at home or to myself, except once a week.  I had now several hours of a night which I could spend in my own pleasures or my own pursuits—in reading, writing, taking a stroll, or attending a class.  Life was no longer a weariness: it was a real enjoyment.  I was happy and contented: so was my dear companion.  There wasn't a happier or more contented couple in all Manchester.  The men with whom I worked, too, were generally of a higher order than those I had encountered in London.  While there was less dissipation among them, there was also, as may be supposed, a more refined taste.  Every man in the establishment, and indeed every boy, took an intelligent interest in public affairs.  The talk was of politics, of literature, of cheering events of the day.  Men and boys read the newspapers, the magazines, books; and they had views of their own about all they read.  The Free Libraries were a boon and a blessing to many of them.  Besides borrowing books from the libraries, we had a book club of our own.  Thus we kept ourselves abreast of the culture of the time.  Better than all, I found lifelong friends in Manchester, one in the office, others elsewhere.  The friend I made in the office was one of the gentlest, best read, and most refined gentlemen I have ever met. [25]  It was in such sweet companionship at home or on pedestrian excursions among the picturesque dales and peaks of Derbyshire that my four years in Manchester passed like a summer holiday.

    There was a Working Men's College in Manchester too.  I made other friends at the college.  The classes I attended were conducted, the one by a Unitarian minister, the other by a curate of the Church of England.  The Unitarian minister was the Rev. William Gaskell, husband of the famous novelist; the curate of the Church of England was the Rev. William Thackeray Marriott, who, leaving the Church, became first a barrister, then a member of Parliament, and finally the Right Honourable Sir W. T. Marriott.  Mr. Gaskell was a master of literature.  I thought at the time that he was the most beautiful reader I had ever heard.  Prose or poetry seemed to acquire new lustre and elegance when he read it.  Our literary evenings under Mr. Gaskell were ambrosial evenings indeed. [26]  Mr. Marriott's class was devoted to the History of England.  The reverend gentleman was as little like a clergyman as he was like a costermonger.  There was nothing clerical—nothing even conventional—about him.  Free and easy in his manners, he was as familiar with the members of his class as they were with each other.  Even his lectures, if they could be called lectures, were notable for their freedom from the least sign of pedantry.  It was really a conversation on historic subjects that he carried on with the working men who sat before him.  Mr. Marriott's views, moreover, especially on the controversy between the Parliament and Charles the First, were of a very advanced character.  Our old tutor has figured in many prominent transactions since 1859, but in none which was more calculated to win the esteem and regard of his old scholars.  Besides literature and history, I tried my hand at logic, under Professor Newth of the Lancashire Independent College.  But logic, literature, and history, so far as classes were concerned, had to be abandoned when the Working Men's College, greatly to the disappointment of the students, was merged into Owens College, then situated in an old mansion in Deansgate, but now located in a palatial home of its own.

    While gratifying my taste for such studies as I had time or capacity for pursuing, I did not forget the republican idea.  Whenever chances presented themselves, the editors of the local papers—the Examiner, the Guardian, and the Courier—were pestered with letters in defence of Mazzini or in explanation of revolutionary enterprises.  With the view of reviving interest in the Reform question, I wrote, printed, and published at my own expense a rather heavy "Argument for Complete Suffrage."  But nobody wanted the pamphlet, and I was burdened with a debt which took me a long time to pay off.  Also I wrote, and here and there delivered, a lecture on a still heavier subject—"The Province of Authority in Matters of Opinion."  This was printed too, but nobody wanted it either.  However, a peculiar opportunity for getting said what I wanted said occurred in the summer of 1859.  Somebody speculated on the publication of a weekly paper called the Buxton Visitor.  It was printed in our office.  The speculators had no notion of what was wanted for even an ephemeral journal.  All they supplied was a list of the visitors to the Derbyshire town, with of course the advertisements.  The rest of the matter had to be found by the printer.  I was asked to write the leading articles—gratuitously of course.  Yes, I said, if I was allowed to choose my own subjects and treat them in my own way.  It was the time when Louis Napoleon went to war for what he called an idea—the idea subsequently taking the substantial form of a couple of Italian provinces.  Well, I pegged away at the war and other questions all through the season.  The summer butterflies who fluttered about Buxton must have been much surprised when they read, if they did read, the fiery lucubrations that occupied the leading columns of the Visitor.  At that time I was rejoiced when I could get my opinions before the public, anyhow or anywhere.  I would write anything for nothing if I approved of it—nothing for anything if I did not.  A quack doctor wanted his wretched treatise revised, and an invitingly handsome sum was offered me to do the work.  I refused.  Great was the astonishment of the smug printer, who went regularly to church with silk hat and prayer-book of a Sunday morning, when I politely declined a proposition which he thought any poor devil in my situation would jump at.  "Old Jacky," as we called him, did not understand how anybody could be fool enough to make a conscience of writing.

    Mr. Ruskin, during my time, came to Manchester to lecture on some art subject.  The chair, I remember, was taken by the Mayor—then Mr. Ivie Mackie.  His worship was a spirit merchant—a man of liberal sentiments, but not, I thought, very intellectual.  Stout and stolid, he sat in the chair without moving a muscle of his face or betraying the least interest in the subject.  Presently, however, Mr. Ruskin quoted Goldsmith's epistle to Lord Clare for the gift of a haunch of venison:—


Thanks, my lord, for your venison, for finer or fatter
Ne'er ranged in a forest or smoked on a platter;
The haunch was a picture for painters to study,
The fat was so rich, and the lean was so ruddy.


Here was something the Mayor could understand.  It probably revived recollections of feasts he had enjoyed.  Anyhow, he laughed consumedly.  I think it was the only time he smiled or showed any intelligence throughout the discourse.  As for Mr. Ruskin—I had not then read any of his books, and knew little or nothing of his style as a writer of pure and beautiful English—I am afraid I was not very much impressed with either his appearance or his performance.  Admiration for the man and the author came later.

 


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FOOTNOTES.


22.    Shortly after the Coup d'État, Richard Chevenix Trench, then Dean of Westminster, but afterwards Archbishop of Dublin, published a little volume on the "Study of Words."  Therein he discussed the word "tyrant," pointing out that a tyrant in the ancient Greek sense meant a usurper, one who had "attained supreme dominion through the violation of the laws and liberties of the State," whereas in the modern sense a tyrant is a ruler who uses his power for base and hateful purposes.  And then he added:—"The present ruler of France, in the manner in which he obtained his power and in the manner in which he wields it, throws the fullest light on the meaning of this word."  But the passage—the policy of the British Government having in the meantime made the usurper and tyrant respectable—was expunged from subsequent editions of the book.

23.    Mr. Harold Johnson, who used to write in Secular periodicals over the signature of "Anthony Collins," stated in the Radical for August, 1887, that an agent from the Home Office was sent in 1858 to search among his papers at Blackburn for the manuscript of "Tyrannicide."  This curious proceeding he explained thus:—'When Mr. Truelove was arrested, Mr. Johnson instructed him by telegraph to print the pamphlet entire in the next number of the Investigator, a periodical which he then edited and which Mr. Truelove published.  A copy of the telegram, he surmises, must have been communicated to the Home Office.  At all events, an agent from that department waited on Mr. Johnson for the purpose stated.  Among the contributors to the Investigator was a gentleman named J. P. Adams.  Confusing one Adams with another, the authorities appear to have got the notion that the document they wanted to obtain would be found in the possession of the editor of the Investigator.'  Such was Mr. Johnson's story.  While sorting some old papers more than forty years after the publication, I came upon the original essay that had formed the foundation of the prosecuted pamphlet.

24.    Mr. Pope was the eminent Parliamentary barrister who died in 1901 at the age of seventy-five.

25.    An amusing story may be told of this old friend.  He was very dark, bearded like the pard, and somewhat free and easy in his attire.  When he donned a big black slouch hat and hung it over his left ear, he looked very much like a corsair or a cowboy.  For some such reason we gave him the name of Dirk Hatteraik.  It chanced that a fellow-compositor—he was working in the office of the Manchester Guardian at the time—had been tormented by the trespasses and depredations of a neighbour's fowls among his flower-beds.  To get rid of the nuisance he conceived the dangerous project of scattering poisoned grain in his garden.  A chemist had told him that he could have what poison he required, provided he brought a witness to certify that the drug would be used for no unlawful purpose.  Would Dirk be his witness?  Certainly he would.  Forth the pair sallied into Market Street.  I think it was to Jewsbury's—the same family as Geraldine Jewsbury, Carlyle's Geraldine.  A bland young chemist came to the counter.  "I have called for that poison," said the customer;  "this is my witness."  The bland young chemist's face assumed various expressions—curiosity, anxiety, suspicion, doubt. Without saying a word, he retired behind a screen.  There was a sound of whispering; then heads appeared above the screen, peeping at the customer and the witness; and then the bland young chemist returned with an apologetic air.  "Sorry to say, sir," he said, "but we are quite out of poisons just now!"  Dirk—his real name was Doughty, and he had been associated with Edwin Waugh in his early days at Wakefield—Dirk was never happier than when telling this tale against himself.

26.    Mr. Gaskell encouraged his students to write essays on such subjects as pleased them, and submit the papers to him.  The essays, having been read and corrected in the meantime, were criticised at the next meeting of the class.  I tried my hand more than once.  One of the essays dealt with the republican idea.  Protesting against the notion that the American Republic was to be considered a genuine republic, the daring essayist hazarded the statement that the people of the United States were "far on the way to become Red Indians themselves."  Yet the astounding assertion was not so bad a shot after all; for, more than thirty years later, the following paragraph went the round of the English papers:—Considerable sensation has been caused in the United States by a lecture given by Professor Starr, a well-known anthropologist of Chicago University.  In the course of his remarks, the professor declared that, if intermarriage with immigrants were to be stopped, Americans would soon become Indians again."

 


 

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