Memoirs of a Social Atom (11)

Home Up American Cousins Miscellanea Main Index Site Search
 


 

[Previous Page]


 
CHAPTER L

TERRORS AND SINGULARITIES OF THE PRESS


THE linotype machine is an ingenious invention.  Like the Chassepot at Mentana, it has done wonders.  But it is also responsible, I am afraid, for many of the dismal errors that so often appear in the press, the reason being that the whole process of type-setting, or rather of type-casting, is now almost purely mechanical.  Added to this there is the difficulty of correcting the mistakes the printers have made, inducing people in charge of newspapers who know the value of time to abstain from correcting them at all.  The thing is unfortunate, because the blunders, besides being liable to mislead the ignorant or half-educated reader, are calculated to cause confusion in his mind as to the real meaning of words.

    "Literals," mistakes of mere letters, were common enough in the old days.  Now the errors of the press take the form of substituting a wrong word for the right one.  Blunders of this more serious kind were formerly rectified in a paragraph devoted to errata, as in the celebrated case of the American editor who had reported that a Baptist minister was "spanked in infancy," and who inserted a correction in his next issue—"for 'spanked,' read 'sprinkled.'"  But no attempt is made to explain such matters now.  Indeed, if it were made, a considerable space would be required for the purpose.  Hence, unless there should be a libel in the case, blunders remain blunders.  Once for a few weeks I went to the trouble of making a collection of the errors I had seen in newspapers.  Here are a few of them:—"Described" was printed for "descried;" "received" for "reviewed," "bloated" for "floated," "recognised" for "reorganized," "transmitted" for "transmuted," "immunity" for "impunity," "affected" for "afflicted," "denoted" for "devoted," "denied" for "deprived," "comprised" for "compressed," "converged" for "conversed," "wonder" for "winter," "invitation" for "initiative," "glister" for "glitter," "warrior" for "wanderer," "masked" for "marked," "stained" for "strained," "disposed" for "disputed," "animal spirits" for "annual sports," "infernal agreement" for "informal agreement," and "devil to play" for "devil to Pay"!  When Dr. Johnson was asked by a lady how he came to make a certain mistake in his dictionary, he is said to have replied, "Pure ignorance, madame."  Pure ignorance would perhaps be the rightful explanation of many of the errors that appear in newspapers—pure ignorance on the part of reporters or sub-editors, compositors or printers' readers.  What but pure ignorance could make any body speak of "poems by Dante, Gabriel, and Rossetti"?  The cause of the great majority of errors, however, is the haste which all engaged in the production of newspapers display to be first on the market. [27]

    Errors of the press have furnished food for mirth to many generations—ever since the early printers printed the first Bibles.  Dismissing all the old standards—such as the substitution of the word "sauce" for the word "sense" in Ross's translation of Lessing's "Laocoon"—a few recent examples that have not been collected before may amuse the reader. A  controversialist wrote of Irishmen that they couldn't tell "whether they would like to cuddle maidens on Mars or have England pitch Ulster," etc.; but the ingenious printer made him say that Irishmen couldn't tell whether they wanted to cuddle "maidens or mars"—maidens or mammas!  The report of an application for contempt of court against a newspaper stated that the said newspaper had accused a party to a suit then pending of "mailing Tory misstatements to the country."  What the newspaper had said was that he had been "nailing Tory misstatements to the counter"!  And then there was the report of an inquest in which it was twice stated that the deceased had died of "inflammation of the bowls."  Which rather reminds one of the quack doctor who, explaining the anatomy of the human frame, said that the principal organs were "the heart, the liver, and the bowels, of which there are five—a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes w and y!"

    One of the most exasperating misprints that ever appeared in a newspaper, though it is amusing enough now, occurred in the report of an address which the Rev. T. Harwood Pattinson, now a professor in a Theological College at Rochester, U. S., delivered in Newcastle in 1872.  The effect of an eloquent appeal in favour of peace was entirely destroyed, so far as the report was concerned, by a misprint in the word "save."  For the audience was urged to take its place in that increasing host—


Along whose front no sabres shine,
    No blood-red pennons wave,
Whose banner bears the simple line,
    "Our duty is to shave."


Here the mistake was a single word; but many words were misprinted in a passage from Byron's "Siege of Corinth" which Mr. Joseph Cowen quoted in a speech at Blaydon in 1876.  The poet's lines, describing the work of dogs on a battlefield, were weird and magnificent:—


From a Tartar's skull they had stripp'd the flesh,
As ye peel the fig when its fruit is fresh;
And the white tusks crunch'd o'er the whiter skull,
As it slipp'd through their jaws when their edge grew dull,
As they lazily mumbled the bones of the dead,
When they scarce could rise from the spot where they fed.


But the printer made them ludicrous:—


From the Tartar's skull they had stripped the flesh
As ye feed the pig when the fruit is fresh;
And their white tusks crushed o'er the whiter skull
As it slipped thro' their jaws when their edge grew dull,
As they largely resembled the bones of the dead,
When they scarce could rise from the spot where they fed.


    Reporters, when they "let themselves go," as we say, sometimes play strange pranks with the King's English.  One whom I knew wrote of an actor who was playing the Ghost in "Hamlet" that he had a "semi-resurrectionary voice."  Another was guilty of curious carelessness.  Reporting a speaker who related the origin of a recreation ground, he made him remark that "a cabbage garden was taken in hand by some enterprising gentlemen who lived in the neighbourhood, most of whom, he was sorry to say, were now dead, and converted into a park."  But these feats were pardonable compared with that of the reporter who, in an account of a notable man's funeral, got off the following:—"It was a boisterous winter's day, with fitful showers of rain and hail; and as the polished coffin was borne into the church the lid was sprinkled with rain, like dew-drops on a laburnum leaf, which was a great contrast to wreaths of flowers, as the deceased did not approve of them!"

    There was a time when even the editorial articles of a leading London daily were strewn with rare specimens of gush and bathos.  The "young lions" of the Daily Telegraph produced every morning columns of fantastic literature that made the hair of staid old journalists stand on end.  The staid old Standard, indeed, allowed itself to print at irregular but frequent intervals clever parodies of the style of the Gaily Bellograph.  Elderly people will recollect the wonderful meteoric visitation of 1866.  Thomas Aird wrote a famous line that extorted the admiration of George Gilfillan describing the sky in a storm as "like a red bewilder'd map with lightning scribbled o'er."  It was not lightning, but meteors, that "scribbled o'er" the sky on two or three November nights in that year.  Myriads of rockets seemed to be darting noiselessly hither and thither all over the heavens.  Not a second passed without innumerable meteors of varying sizes and brilliancy coming into view.  Sometimes it appeared as if all the stars in the firmament were seized with a mad impulse to rush into each other's arms.  People woke up their children—I did mine—to show them the great wonder.  Hundreds of writers tried to picture the entrancing sight.  Some succeeded fairly well; others utterly failed.  As a matter of fact, it was a spectacle that could not with any approach to accuracy be described in words.  But the "young lions" of the Telegraph were equal to the occasion.  One of them—Godfrey Turner or Jefferey Prowse most likely, for George Augustus Sala had cut his wisdom teeth by that time—called the meteors "baby stars that had died in teething"!  The earthly leonid who had ventured on this daring metaphor was probably the same youthful spirit that had spoken of the New Year "as a new volume for which Time's scythe would serve as paperknife"!

    Journalists, like actors, are exposed to the temptation of playing to the gallery.  Some of them played to the gallery when they accepted gutter stories—stories that were based on the horrible crimes of Burke and Hare or the perhaps still more infamous career of Charles Peace.  The policy of pandering to the lowest taste of the lowest section of the populace in the matter of fiction was not pursued for long.  It was pursued long enough, however, to get at least one young lad into trouble.  The lad was tried in 1888 before the Recorder of a provincial town on a charge of housebreaking.  When asked what he had to say for himself, he replied that he had been reading the story of Charles Peace in a weekly newspaper, and that this had led him to commit the robbery.  Earnest appeals were made to newspapers which professed to be intended for family reading not to "run the very filth of gutters and sewers through our kitchens, our parlours, and even our nurseries."  The appeals had a good effect in at least one instance; for a Cardiff paper, which had begun the horrible and demoralising narrative, announced that it intended to publish no more of the vile trash.  Stories of a less reprehensible character, but still of a low and vulgar type, were then, and long afterwards, offered to weekly journals by a gentleman who boasted that his serials raised the circulation of the papers which published them by thousands a week.  This ingenious author had three or four stories, or alleged stories, which he used to adapt to different localities according to the orders he received.  The title of one of the tales, which had, he said, been printed no nearer than Bedford, and which he proposed to refurbish for the Northern market, might have stood for that of a penny dreadful of the Edward Lloyd period—"Newcastle's Lovely Lady Martyr; or, Doomed to Fire and Faggot: A Northumberland Romance of the Middle Ages."  If this would not suit, he intimated that he had other tales of blood and murder and mystery which he could localise at a cheaper rate.  Even "Newcastle's Lovely Lady Martyr," however, would have been less degrading to the press, and less demoralising to the public, than the dishing up of Peace's revolting crimes in the shape of fiction.

    It was a passing danger, that which beset the press in 1888.  A more serious danger seems to be threatened by an organization that has lately sprung into existence.  If the members of the Institute of Journalists should succeed in making journalism a strict and exclusive profession, they will do the press an infinite injury.  One of the great merits of the journalistic craft is that it is free and open to everybody who can justify his claims to admission, whether he has been trained in a newspaper office or not.  "Gentlemen of the Press," as Mr. Disraeli called them, are recruited from all ranks and callings in the country.  Some, I know, have been blacksmiths, others tailors, others factory-workers.  In fact, there is scarcely a pursuit in the land that is not represented among the people who manage and write for our newspapers.  And it is this catholicity of selection that helps to give to journalism its unique character and position.  But it would be otherwise if, unfortunately, through the action of the Institute of journalists or in any other way, the ranks should be closed to all but such as had passed through a restricted form of indenture or apprenticeship.  The tendency of the times, however, is to create a system of castes.  Let journalists beware how they encourage that tendency.  We know what the caste system has done for India.  There the man who carries water is not permitted to fetch coals, and the man who fetches coals is not permitted to sweep a carpet.  Thus progress, in consequence of the stereotyped regulation of society, has been utterly impossible for centuries.  The same deplorable condition is creeping into our workshops; for there men are trained to do certain work, and are not allowed to do any other—trained, as Emerson says, to be mere spindles and needles, and nothing else.  Once admit the fatal system into journalism, and it is simply a matter of time when reporters will not be permitted to become editors, nor editors managers, nor anybody anything but that which he has paid a handsome premium for becoming.  It is probably this question of premium much more than any interest in the profession that inspires the sordid part of the movement.  Of all the errors of the press no greater could be committed than that of yielding to the suggestions of the fussy and pedantic gentlemen who are as proud as peacocks when they are able to write strange initials after their names.


 
CHAPTER LI

ECCENTRIC AND CRAZY PEOPLE


CRAZY people are nearly always sure, sooner or later, to put themselves in communication with the press.  When a mad shoemaker murdered a tax-collector in Newcastle, he remarked to the policeman who arrested him, "This will be a grand thing for the penny papers."  Usually the connection is much closer than that implied in providing material for sensational news.  For more than thirty years, to my own knowledge, there never was a time when one or more lunatics, not including poets, were not in direct and almost constant communication with the editor of the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle.  Some sent indecipherable prose, others indecipherable verse.  Some were crazy about the shape of the earth, others were crazy about being buried alive.  But there was a bee in the bonnet of them all.  Sometimes the correspondent was not known even by name, sometimes only by name, at other times personally known.  The correspondence would sometimes continue for months, sometimes for years, and then suddenly cease.  In either case we knew quite well that the unfortunate correspondent was either dead or had become helpless.  It was of course the crazy people who were personally known, and who insisted on seeing the editor, that gave the most trouble.

    An afternoon alone with a madman, or one akin to a madman, is not a pleasant experience.  I once went through it.  Mr. William Bewicke, of Threepwood Hall, near Haydon Bridge, "a gentleman of considerable property, ancient family, and Herculean frame, but unfortunately gifted with a violent temper, and of eccentric habits," made use of his power as a magistrate to unlawfully arrest a poor woman of the neighbourhood.  For this the woman's husband subsequently obtained damages, while the Lord Chancellor struck the name of the offender off the roll of justices of the peace.  Mr. Bewicke, refusing to pay the expenses of his own solicitors, was served by them with a writ.  One morning in January, 1861, a sheriff's officer from Hexham proceeded with several assistants to execute the writ.  Mr. Bewicke, armed with a rifle, locked his doors and parleyed with the party from a window.  The bailiffs, however, took possession of the stables.  Here two of them remained in possession.  But during the night, they alleged, Mr. Bewicke fired at them from the house.  Then followed his arrest for feloniously shooting at the bailiffs.  The prisoner defended himself at the Assizes in Newcastle, with the result that he was convicted and sentenced to four years' penal servitude.  Mr. Bewicke was the victim of a dastardly plot.  The housekeeper at Threepwood set herself to prove it.  As the consequence of extraordinary efforts on her part, three of the witnesses for the prosecution, just a year after the original trial, were found guilty of conspiracy.  It was their turn to suffer penal servitude, while Mr. Bewicke was, of course, released.  The whole case was so strange and romantic that the editor of the Weekly Chronicle, in an unguarded moment, determined to retell the story.  The narrative was published in 1875.  Mr. Bewicke took exception to some of the details, and demanded an interview with the editor, which was readily granted.  There was nothing really wrong with the narrative; but Mr. Bewicke insisted on going through every sentence with the editor.  The two were alone in an upper room of the office.  Every now and then, as the reading proceeded, the visitor, who was accurately described as a man of "Herculean frame," would rise in a rage, storm about the room, and almost terrify the other out of his wits.  All the arts the editor knew had to be employed to pacify the furious gentleman.  Scarcely a statement in the story failed to stir up angry recollections.  There was just a fear that the excitable visitor would associate the editor with his wrongs, in which case the unhappy man expected to be throttled in his chair or hurled into the street below.  The time of terror lasted all a summer's afternoon, with no help at hand either.  No man was more thankful than the editor when the interview ended.  The corrections Mr. Bewicke required were printed in the next issue.  And as these happily appeased the wrath of the injured and eccentric laird of Threepwood, nothing more was heard of the affair.

    The scientific articles which Mr. R. A. Proctor was contributing to the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle in 1883 aroused the ire of another eccentric gentleman, who, however, luckily limited his attentions to the writing of scurrilous and abusive letters from Balham.  Mr. John Hampden was a flat-earth fanatic who had offered a large sum of money—£500, I think—to anybody who could prove the curvature of the globe.  The challenge was accepted by Mr. Alfred Russel Wallace, the celebrated naturalist who is associated with Darwin in suggesting the theory of the origin of species.  Experiments were made on the Bedford Canal, and the verdict of the arbitrator was given against Mr. Hampden.  The result of the litigation that followed was, I think, that Mr. Hampden got himself cast into prison.  Many of Mr. Hampden's letters on the subject were printed in the Weekly Chronicle.  But many others could not be printed on account of their violent and offensive character.  Specimens of the rejected contributions have been preserved.  A few of them may serve to amuse a later generation of readers:—"If, instead of dishonourably suppressing two-thirds of my letters, you would leave out the same proportion of the infamously false statements contained in Mr. Proctor's articles, it would be much more to your credit.  The shameful lies which this man is publishing every week, both in your paper and in his own, are a disgrace to the journalism of England.  He is openly spoken of as a lying charlatan all over the kingdom.  He may depend upon my thoroughly exposing him, and the contemptible cur shall be taught now to speak the truth."  This is not bad.  The following, however, seems to go one better:—"The most conclusive argument in favour of myself with respect to the survey to which Mr. Proctor makes allusion (the Bedford Canal experiment) is to request that gentleman to inform Mr. Alfred Russel Wallace, of Grays, in the county of Essex, that I am still, at the expiration of eight years, advertising him as a cheat, a swindler, and a defaulter; if the degraded cur dares to take any notice, or can justify his conduct by repeating the experiment in the presence of honest men, he can sue me for slander and libel.  Mr. Proctor is the only man in England who has degraded himself by defending the swindler Wallace."  Mr. Proctor had written something about the origin of whales; whereupon Mr. Hampden wrote to him direct:—"If you would endeavour to describe the origin of liars and impostors, you would find they came into the world when the Pagan lunatics devised the shape of the world.  If whales are derived from pigs, according to your theory, you must have been foaled by an ass!"

    Mr. Empson E. Middleton, a disciple of the same school as Mr. Hampden, was also a frequent correspondent of the Weekly Chronicle.  Who and what else he was Mr. Middleton explained in a pamphlet which he printed in 1876.  There he described himself as "the Poet, Geometrician, Metaphysician, Lecturer, and Patentee in Yacht and Ship Building, E. E. Middleton, Esq., member of the Royal Canoe Club, London; the Royal Albert Yacht Club, Southsea; and the Naval and Military Club, London."  "There is not," he adds, "the smallest question as to my right to the title of Esq.  My father was Boswell Middleton, Esq., born in Yorkshire.  His father was Empson Middleton, Esq., a more or less wealthy landowner in Yorkshire."  A further explanation is given in some verses which somebody is said to have written "on seeing Popsy Middleton asleep on board the Swift packet on her passage from Falmouth to Barbadoes."  One of the verses reads thus:—


Sleep, and while slumber weighs thine eyelids down,
May no foul phantom o'er thy pillow frown,
But brightest visions deck thy tranquil bed,
And angels' wings o'er-canopy thy head!
Sleep on, sweet boy; may no dark dreams arise
To mar thy rosy rest, thou babe of Paradise!


Mr. Middleton had gone to Canterbury to lecture on the shape of the earth, and had there got into a squabble with the proprietor of St. George's Hall.  It was out of this squabble that a case arose in the county court.  "I would not tolerate," said Mr. Middleton, speaking to the judge, "the proprietor addressing myself in a flippant and democratic manner, and I refuse to tolerate any such address, not only because I am a bona-fide gentleman, but because I am a man of exceeding talent—in fact, a very great genius."  Nor could he tolerate, as he says in the same pamphlet, "that an under-bred hall-keeper should dictate his slovenly and insulting method of doing business to an exceeding highly polished and artistic, and also scientific, gentleman; one of the most able racing yachtsmen of England, a classical poet, a geometrician, metaphysician, lecturer, and patentee in yacht and ship building."

    Less eccentric, though not less egotistical, than the "babe of Paradise," was another correspondent and lecturer—a clergyman of the Church of England, the Rev. W. D. Ground.  While holding a curacy at Newburn-on-Tyne, Mr. Ground, who claimed to be "at least a philosopher," " near akin to a prophet," wrote a book which, besides demolishing the philosophy of Herbert Spencer, ought, he thought, to have been "a passport to a bishopric, not to say the Primacy."  It was a great and burning grief to him that he never rose higher in the Church than the vicarages of Alnham and Kirkharle.  Once he delivered—this was 1881—a lecture on the "Dynamical Force of Thought, a Newly-Discovered Law of Nature."  The new law, he said, which had cost him twenty years to work out, would accomplish "hardly anything less than an intellectual revolution."  The philosophy of Herbert Spencer was by common consent one of the greatest systems of thought that had appeared in any age.  Yet the lecturer boasted that he had "written papers which, in the judgment of competent men, overthrew it."  But "he did not intend to stop until the system had been battered to pieces and converted into a logical ruin."  And when this destructive work had been effected, "he purposed fashioning a system of philosophy of his own."  Mr. Ground did not speak without book when he claimed for himself an intellectual superiority even over Shakspeare, for he had put the matter to "veritable scientific proof" in a series of experiments with a borrowed spirometer.  "One morning," he said, "he tested the spirometer, which registered 242, 244.  He then read Act III. in the play of 'Hamlet,' after which he tested the spirometer, which registered 222,213, carrying him down very low indeed.  He next read a composition of his own, and then tested the spirometer, which registered 262,253, carrying him, as would be seen, 40 cubic inches."  Forty cubic inches higher than Shakspeare!  "My own consciousness," innocently observed Mr. Ground, "agreed with this test."  Sad to say, the great discoverer of the "dynamical force of thought" died, not a bishop nor a primate, nor even a canon of the Church, but the vicar successively of two remote parishes in Northumberland. [28]

    But a genuine madman was numbered among the correspondents of 1885.  There had occurred about twenty years before a horrible murder in the North of England.  The victim was a little girl, and the crime was of such a character that nobody but a lunatic could have committed it.  The murderer was sentenced to be confined in the criminal asylum at Broadmoor.  Thence he wrote a series of astonishing letters.  "I am undoubtedly," he declared, "the lawful heir of the present King of Bavaria."  But he had received "warnings from Providence of the rancorous opposition of Windsor Castle."  In consequence of this opposition, "I have decided upon deposing the present Queen Alexandria Victoria d'Este Guelph, dispossessing her and the rest of the Guelphs of all their riches, except so much as will enable them to live in comfort without luxury."  Then he asserted that two of the leading ladies of the operatic stage at that time—Madame Marie Roze and Madame Alwina Valleria—were sisters.  For the latter the poor lunatic designed a high distinction.  "I have resolved," he wrote, "to get myself and my betrothed wife, Emily Jaques of Osmotherly, commonly known as Alwina Valleria, appointed conjoint and equal King and Queen of Great Britain and Ireland.  Emily Jaques shall be wed to me under the same name as she had when we were betrothed; and the survivors of her former schoolmates and companions will be delighted beyond measure when they learn that the merry, gracious, and amiable little maiden, who in her puce mantle and frock used to diffuse joy and gladness in the upper part of High Felling, has become their Queen.  Instead of bearing water-cans balanced on her head, she shall wear her own special tiara and sceptre; and instead of singing for the public in music halls, she shall sing for the private delectation of the most illustrious in the land."  A vast deal more of the same inconsequential maundering was written from Broadmoor in 1885 and 1886.  And then there was silence—the silence of the grave.  The unhappy madman was no more.


 
CHAPTER LII

POPULAR DEMONSTRATIONS


NEWCASTLE has always done its share, and even more than its share, in the way of popular demonstrations.  Every just cause has received its support, and every great patriot has received its homage.  To it belongs the honour of being the only town in England to recognise the heroism of Garibaldi after the memorable defence of Rome.  Advantage was taken of the visit of the patriot to the Tyne as the captain of a merchant trader to present him with a sword of honour.  This event took place in 1854, and the principal part in it was played by Mr. Jos. Cowen, then and always the friend of the struggling and the oppressed.  Ten years later, when Garibaldi had achieved his marvellous victories in Sicily and Naples, preparations were made to give him a great public reception in Newcastle.

    This second reception of Garibaldi on the Tyne, had it not been frustrated by intrigues and occurrences in London, would have been a magnificent affair.  No foreigner, save Kossuth, had ever met with heartier or more general acclamations on British soil than the hero of Marsala.  It was a popular triumph, spontaneously offered by the people themselves, that was accorded to the illustrious visitor in Southampton and in the Metropolis.  All the other large towns in the country desired to testify in much the same manner their appreciation of the services which Garibaldi had rendered to the cause of liberty.  As, however, it was manifestly impossible that the gallant patriot could accept even a tithe of the invitations with which he was overwhelmed, he resolved, out of respect for his old friend Mr. Cowen and out of gratitude for the kindness he had received ten years before, not to disappoint the people of Newcastle.  A committee was therefore appointed, with Mr. Cowen as chairman and Mr. Thos. Pringle and myself as secretaries, to make the necessary arrangements.  Suddenly, however, it was announced that Garibaldi would almost immediately, without visiting the provinces at all, return to his home in the island of Caprera.  The mystery surrounding this startling change in the General's plans has never been fully explained; but there is little doubt now, nor was there much doubt in 1864, that the enthusiasm which had been aroused in this country on behalf of the liberation of Rome and Venice, coupled with the visit of Garibaldi to his "friend and teacher, Joseph Mazzini," had excited the jealousy and alarm of the Continental despots.  To avert complications, the Government of Lord Palmerston appealed to the General to save it from embarrassments by quitting the country.  Garibaldi complied; the Governments of Europe were satisfied; and Newcastle was deprived of the opportunity of once more demonstrating its attachment to the cause of the nationalities. [29]

    Another famous soldier, from whose progress through the country and popularity with the people no complications were likely to arise, visited Newcastle thirteen years later.  Ulysses S. Grant, as commander-in-chief of the Federal armies, had by his dogged perseverance and masterly combinations done more than any single man save Abraham Lincoln to re-establish the Republic of the United States.  Further, he had, as President of the Republic, helped to solve in a peaceful fashion the dangerous difficulty that had arisen between England and America in consequence of the depredations of the Alabama. [Ed.—A successful Confederate commerce raider, built at Birkenhead. The Alabama was eventually sunk by the USS Kearsage off Cherbourg.]  When, therefore, General Grant, taking a tour round the world, came within hail of Newcastle, he was invited to pay it a visit.  The American Government was at that time represented in the North of England by a popular and energetic Consul—Major Evan R. Jones, who had himself served through the four years of the Civil War.  It was due to the appeal of his old companion in arms that General Grant consented to accept the invitation.  The September of 1877 was made memorable by the circumstances and ceremonies of the General's presence.  The distinguished stranger was entertained at a banquet, held a reception in the Town Hall, and was presented with an address on the Town Moor.  The proceedings on the Town Moor, which were preceded by a procession through the streets, took the form of a demonstration of respect for General Grant and of amity towards the United States.  Vast numbers of working men and others, accompanied by bands and banners, escorted the visitor and his friends to the Moor.  There a hustings had been erected, and there in the presence of an enormous and enthusiastic concourse of citizens the General was presented with the address that had been prepared.  It was said of some celebrated person that he was silent in six languages.  General Grant was silent in one.  But another American soldier—General Lucius Fairchild, who had lost an arm in the service of the Republic—made eloquent amends for his comrade's reticence.  A few words were all that the conqueror of Donelson and of Vicksburg ever said in public at any one time.  Short speeches, however, had to be delivered so often on Tyneside that he expressed his doubt at the banquet whether the people of the United States, when they read the report of the proceedings, would believe that he had ever spoken them!

    The demonstration in honour of General Grant had been preceded some years before by demonstrations in favour of political reform.  The first of these, organized by Mr. Cowen and the society of which he was the life and spirit, was held on Jan. 29th, 1867.  John Bright—or was it Richard Cobden?—had said a few years before, referring to the apathy of the public, that nothing would be done in the way of the further enfranchisement of the people "till the old men died."  The "old men" were those members of the Liberal Party who, like Lord John Russell, considered that the Reform Bill of 1832 was a final measure.  Chief of the "old men" was Lord Palmerston.  Lord Palmerston died in harness in 1865.  Hardly had he been buried before the new men of the Liberal Party justified the prophetic statement.  An attempt was made to solve the Reform Question on the old lines of a rating suffrage.  The £10 franchise was to be reduced to £5.  This was the proposal of the new Government, with Mr. Gladstone at its head.  But the scheme was defeated by the narrow majority of five on an amendment proposed by Lord Robert Grosvenor, the author of the Sunday Bill that led to the Hyde Park riots.  Back came the Tories to office.  The populace was now thoroughly aroused.  Imposing demonstrations, unexampled in enthusiasm and in numbers, were one after the other held in all the chief centres of population—Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Newcastle, etc.  Many thousands of workmen, preceded by a carriage containing Lord Teynham, the elder Mr. Cowen, and other veterans of the agitation of 1832, marched to the Town Moor, there to show that the demand for political reform could no longer be safely ignored.

    These immense demonstrations, not in one part of the country, but in all, convinced even the Tories that something would have to be done now.  Mr. Disraeli, leader of the House of Commons at last, was the first to see it.  There would have to be a Reform Bill of some sort.  But of what sort?  The imagination of Mr. Disraeli, always equal to the demands upon it, was not at fault in the existing emergency.  It occurred to him that the old Whig method of taking a few pounds off the rental qualification was humdrum, commonplace, lacking in ingenuity and statecraft.  The Tories must go further down to the bed-rock of the household.  There was no principle in a pound more or less; there was, however, a clear and captivating principle in declaring that every householder was entitled to the suffrage.  So he set himself to "educate his party."  "Household suffrage!  Good heavens! was the man mad?"  Yes, but he would surround it with restrictions and hindrances, checks and counterpoises.  And then, see how the principle would enchant the multitude!  The Tory party yielded—not, however, without a good deal of squirming.  Honest old Tories, too, saw that they were going to take "a leap in the dark."  But as they had to take a leap somewhere—well, they would just have to follow their leader.  Besides, there was, as Lord Derby, the old Rupert of Debate, said, the temptation of "dishing the Whigs."  Again, was it not possible, if you dug down deep enough, that you would come even among the masses upon a substratum of Toryism—the Tory Democracy about which Mr. Disraeli had written in his early novels?  It is certain at any rate that the Whigs were "dished."

    When Mr. Disraeli's Reform Bill was produced in 1867, it was received with amusement tinctured with disdain on the part of the Opposition, with surprise tinctured with doubt on the part of the supporters of the Government.  The whole thing, said the Liberals, was a sham.  It pretended to accede to the popular wishes, but in reality frustrated them.  Mr. Disraeli was not a statesman, but a juggler.  His scheme was both a delusion and a snare.  What he offered the country was a feast of Dead Sea apples—fair to look upon, but ashes in the mouth.  Mr. Bright riddled and ridiculed what he called the "fancy franchises," as indeed they were.  There was, it was contended by the chiefs of the Opposition, only one course to pursue with this preposterous measure, and that was to reject it with scorn and contumely.  But certain Radicals in the House were wiser than their leaders.  The elder Mr. Cowen, who was by this time one of the members for Newcastle, was prominent among the Radicals.  They met in the Tea Room of the House of Commons.  And the conclusion they came to was that the principle of the Bill was worth accepting.  As for the restrictions and counterpoises, they could be modified or even swept away afterwards.  The Tea Room party settled the fate of the measure.  The action of the little party settled more than the fate of Mr. Disraeli's Reform Bill—it practically settled the Reform Question itself from that time to our own.

    But there were earnest men in the North who were not satisfied even with an unadulterated Household Suffrage Bill.  They held to the old doctrine of Manhood Suffrage.  So another demonstration was promoted—the last of its kind, but the greatest.  Again were Mr. Cowen's superb powers of organization brought into play.  The trades unions mustered as before with their banners and insignia.  But the most numerous and the most imposing part of the procession was composed of miners from all parts of Northumberland and Durham.  Fifty thousand of these hardy sons of toil, each colliery with its band and its banner, marched into Newcastle on that memorable day—April 12th, 1873.  Accurate and exhaustive returns showed that at least 80,000 persons took part in the splendid array, while it was computed that from first to last fully 200,000 must have followed the appointed speakers to the Town Moor.  Almost every railway in England and Scotland was laid under contribution for carriages and conveyances.  The North-Eastern Company alone borrowed 550 carriages, equal to 60 ordinary trains.  Between 80 and 90 bands of music accompanied the procession, and upwards of 150 banners and flags, most of them of a costly and beautiful description, beside bannerettes, emblems, and devices of every conceivable kind, were carried with the different contingents.  The whole procession, walking four deep and in quick order, took exactly two hours and twenty-five minutes in marching past.  The length of it could not be measured, for the proceedings at the six platforms on the Moor, although they lasted an hour and a half, were entirely concluded when the first part of the last section of demonstrators appeared in sight of the people on the hustings.

    Never before had so many orderly men paraded the streets of Newcastle.  It was a spectacle that brought tears to the eyes.  The writer marched with the miners, whom he best knew, for he had been much among them when lecturing in the colliery villages on the subject of American slavery and the American war.  Many and fervent were the ejaculations of pride and encouragement from the spectators as the magnificent procession tramped through miles of streets towards the trysting place.  But there were other ejaculations too.  Mr. Cowen was at that time idolised by the people, but cordially disliked by the caddish section of society.  As he walked with his friends at the front of the procession, a tradesman in Grey Street expressed the friendly hope that the demonstrators when they reached the Moor would hang him from one of the platforms!  It was an evidence of the intense feeling of resentment that had taken possession of the privileged classes and their supporters.

    As I have said, this was the last of the great demonstrations.  It was, too, as I have also said, the greatest.  Whether because the people are satisfied with the measure of liberty since enjoyed, or because they are now much more interested in other things than politics, it is certain that the lethargy which Mr. Bright lamented in 1864 has once more spread over England.


 
CHAPTER LIII

"THE MORPETH HUBBUBBOO"


THE expectations of the Tea Room party that the hindrances to emancipation contained in Mr. Disraeli's Reform Bill could and would be removed were in due course completely realised.  The credit of removing such of them as related to the residents of colliery villages and the occupants of colliery houses belongs to the miners of Northumberland.  How this came about forms an interesting episode in the history of the borough of Morpeth.  The secretary of the Northumberland Miners' Association, Thomas Burt, soon after his election to that office in 1864, showed so much ability in the management of the society's affairs, and endeared himself so much to his fellow-workmen by reason of his personal qualities, that there arose a strong desire to see him in the House of Commons.  But household suffrage, pure and simple, was not yet the law of the land.  Of the thousands of miners in Northumberland only a few hundreds were numbered among the electors of the county.  As occupiers of colliery houses, and so not paying rates directly to the overseers of the poor, they were considered not entitled to have their names inscribed on the rate-books or on the register of voters.  But some ingenious people in the neighbourhood of Choppington and Bedlington conceived the idea that the occupants of colliery houses, since they stood in respect to rates in about the same position as compound householders in towns, had equal claims with the said householders to the suffrage.  To press this idea upon the authorities the Miners' Franchise Association was formed in the early part of 1872.

    The inception of the movement, undoubtedly one of the most successful ever set on foot in the North of England, was due, I think, to Thomas Glassey, then a miner at Choppington, but for some years now a leading member of the Parliament of Queensland, and at this date a member of the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia.  Mr. Glassey, a native of the North of Ireland, had not been long in the district, nor had he always been associated with the Radical party.  Indeed, he had until shortly before been a rampant Orangeman.  When he did take sides with the Radicals, however, he went with them heart and soul.  Being a man of resource, too, he soon made the whole coalfield ring with the claims of the miners.  Associated with Mr. Glassey were two other notable men.  One was Robert Elliott, author of a vernacular poem which created some stir at the time, entitled "A Pitman Gan te Parliament."  It was thought by many of his friends that justice was hardly done to his services and abilities when he failed to secure the nomination for a neighbouring constituency to Morpeth.  The other member of the triumvirate was Dr. James Trotter, one of four or five brothers, natives of Galloway, all pursuing the practice of medicine at the same time in Northumberland.  James was also an Orangeman at the beginning of his public career.  Like Glassey, moreover, he threw himself with ardour and enthusiasm into the Radical movement.

    The Franchise Association aimed at two things—the extension of the suffrage to all householders in the villages included in the borough of Morpeth, and the return of Thomas Burt as the first working-man member of the House of Commons.  Both objects were achieved, but not before the district had become the scene of exciting events.  Once, when Mr. Walter B. Trevelyan, the revising barrister, sitting at Morpeth, gave a decision hostile to the claims of the association, Mr. Glassey, rising in great wrath, called all his friends outside the court.  It seemed as if a revolution was going to begin there and then.  I recollect assisting to throw oil on the troubled waters, with the result that the standard of rebellion was neither then nor later unfurled.  Greater still was the excitement when a poem entitled "The Morpeth Hubbubboo" made its appearance.  The name of no author was attached to the piece, nor did anybody at the time know whence it had emanated; but it was supposed to represent the feelings of the tradesmen and respectable classes of Morpeth.  As the verses have become historical, I give some of them here:—


Come, all ye jolly freemen,
        And listen to my tale,
How Morpeth served the Howkies,
        And made them turn their tail.
And you, ye Howky beggars,
        We dare you to come down!
And though you come in thousands,
        We'll kick you from the town.
You dirty sneaking cowards,
        Come back to Morpeth, do,
And we'll kick your Burt to blazes,
        And stop your Hubbubboo

The rascals, how they spouted
        On sham gentility,
And swore the dirty Howkies
        Were just as good as we.
They wanted rights of voting,
        The law had ordered so:
What right to Rights have Howkies
        Is what I'd like to know.
We'll let them drink our beer, sir,
        The worst that we can brew,
It's good enough for Howkies
        To raise a Hubbubboo.

Hurrah for Champion Robberts
        That damned the Howky dirt,
The boy that thrashed the traitors
        Who wished to vote for Burt,
That stood up for Sir Georgy,
        And cursed the Howkies well,
And damned them and the Trotters
        To trot right off to hell!
He showed them like a man, sir,
        What brandy schnapps can do,
And soon smashed up the Templars,
        And spoiled the Hubbubboo.

Nine groans for both the Trotters,
        Confound the ugly quacks;
When next they show their faces,
        We'll make them show their backs,
Nine groans for Irish Glassey;
        If he comes here again,
We'll pelt him out with murphies,
        And get the rascal slain.
Nine groans for Poet Elliott
        And his North-Country crew,
Aud ninety for the Howkies
        That raised the Hubbubboo.

Nine groans for Burt the Howky;
        And if he ventures here,
His dry teetotal carcase
        We'll soak in Robberts' beer.
We'll put him in the stocks, too,
        And pelt him well with eggs;
We'll black his Howky eyes, boys,
        And kick his bandy legs.
He would unseat Sir Georgy,
        He would be member, too;
We'll hunt him out of Morpeth,
        And spoil his Hubbubboo.


    The effect of the publication was instantaneous.  Not only did the pitmen round about refuse to enter a public-house where "Robberts' beer" was sold, but the pitmen's wives drove back home the tradesmen's carts that travelled round the pit villages laden with provisions.  Dr. Trotter himself described the state of affairs in a letter I received from him a few days after the appearance of the "Hubbubboo."  It will be seen that the letter was partly in reply to a suggestion of mine that nothing foolish or indiscreet should be done to bring discredit upon the movement.  Here, then, is Dr. Trotter's account of matters :—


BEDLINGTON, THURSDAY.


    My dear Sir,—The whole district is in a blaze.  The tradesmen of Morpeth are like to be ruined.

    A great meeting was held at Morpeth, on Tuesday night, to take the crisis into serious consideration.  A reward of £150 is offered by the tradesmen for the publishers and authors of the squibs which are setting the miners into so desperate a state of excitement.

    All the inns and beer-shops in the district have orders to receive no more ale or spirits from Morpeth on pain of instant extinction, and all here have complied with the demand.  The pitmen made an entrance into every public-house, took down all the Morpeth spirit advertisements framed on the walls, trampled them under foot, and sent the fragments to the owners carefully packed and labelled.

    You can have no idea of the sensation here at present.  It is to be proposed, and has every likelihood of being carried unanimously, that Choppington pits be at once laid idle should a single tubful of coals be sent to the town of Morpeth, and every colliery in the county is to be invited to join issue to the same effect.  So you see that Morpeth people will not only be starved as regards food, but as respects fuel also, if things go on at this rate much longer.

    I believe we could have 10,000 men into Morpeth at a week's notice.  However, I will follow your advice in the matter and keep things as quiet as possible; but if the men get determined, the devil himself will hardly be able to prevent them making an inroad.

    I will excuse our deputation to the collieries to which we were invited as you suggest.  Besides, Mr. Burt will as surely be M.P. for the borough of Morpeth as that I am
                                                           Very sincerely yours,

                                                                                 JAMES TROTTER.


    The shopkeepers of Morpeth were indeed in serious straits.  In this extremity they got up a meeting to repudiate the "Hubbubboo."  Peace, however, was not restored till the Franchise Association was invited to hold a conference in the sacred precincts of the borough itself.  It was suspected at the time, though it was not positively known till long afterwards, that the poem which set the district on fire was the production, not of an enemy, but of a friend.  Things were getting dull, it was thought, and so it was deemed advisable to invent something that would fan the embers of the agitation into a blaze.  And the blaze produced then has certainly never in the same district been equalled since.  Dr. Trotter was fond of practical jokes, and the "Hubbubboo" was one of them [30]—quite of a piece with another which set the inhabitants of his own town of Dalry by the ears.  The "Clachan Fair," a long descriptive poem, satirising everybody in the place, including the author's father, was printed and posted to persons concerned.  And then the incorrigible joker took a holiday, and went back to his old home to enjoy the fun!

    The franchise movement never flagged after the excitement about the "Hubbubboo."  It even attracted attention in distant parts of the country.  Archibald Forbes, in an interval of his war reporting, was sent down to describe for the Daily News the position of matters in the North.  Writing of a "Miners' Monstre Demonstration," held at Morpeth on Sept. 28th, 1872, he fell into a curious confusion in respect to a leading spirit of the movement, assigning to him the name of the colliery village in which he resided.  One of the speakers at the meeting, said Mr. Forbes, was "an Irish pitman, Thomas Glassey, known to fame as the Choppington Guide Post"—"a fine, ardent young fellow, with yellow hair, and a brogue broader than the platform.  And then," he added, "Mr. Glassey lapsed into revolutionary utterances, and began to talk about tyrants and despots and other matters of a like sort, which seemed to indicate him as rather an unsafe guide post for Choppington or any other loyal community."  But the upshot of the whole business was that the revising barrister, when he came his rounds in 1873, admitted the whole of the pitman claimants to the franchise, thus increasing the constituency of Morpeth at one bound from 2,661 to 4,916.

    The rest was easy.  Sir George Grey, the Home Secretary in many successive Whig Ministries, who had represented Morpeth since 1852, retired into private life.  Mr. Cowen presided over a great meeting at Bedlington Cross on Oct. 18th, 1873, at which a requisition was presented to Mr. Burt inviting him to stand as a candidate for the borough.  The invitation was of course accepted.  A committee constituted as follows was chosen to conduct the election:—Robert Elliott, chairman; Thomas Glassey, vice-chairman; James Archbold, treasurer; James Trotter, secretary; general members—Joseph Cowen, M.P., the Rev. Dr. Rutherford, George Howard (now Earl of Carlisle), W. E. Adams, Matthew Pletts, and Ralph Young.  Although the return of Mr. Burt by an overwhelming majority was absolutely certain, a rival candidate was found in Captain Francis Duncan, who, as Colonel Duncan, the author of a "History of the Royal Artillery," rose to distinction both in Parliament and in the military service, and died later while serving his country in Egypt.  The contest which followed was unique.

    Captain Duncan was everywhere respectfully received by the miners.  When he addressed a meeting at Choppington, not a murmur of opposition was heard from the crowded audience; but when a vote of approval of his candidature was proposed, every hand was held up against it.  And the proceedings closed with a vote of thanks to Captain Duncan for his lecture!  Both candidates on the day of the polling visited the different towns and villages comprising the constituency of Morpeth.  Mr. Burt's tour was a triumphal procession.  The arrival of the candidate and his friends at Bedlington, I recollect, led to an extraordinary scene.  The main street of the town was crowded, for of course the pits were all idle.  First there was much cheering; then arose an irrepressible desire to do something unusual.  The horses were taken out of the conveyance, dozens of stalwart miners seized the shafts, and the electoral party was rushed up and down the thoroughfare at a furious and hazardous pace amidst the wildest excitement.  It was even proposed to run the carriage all the way to Morpeth: nor was it without some difficulty that the jubilant crowd was dissuaded from its purpose.  Not less astonishing was the reception accorded to Mr. Burt at Morpeth itself, where both candidates—such was the friendly character of the contest—addressed the multitude, which literally filled the Market Place, from the same platform and from the windows of each other's committee rooms!

    The ballot box revealed the fact, or rather emphasised the fact, that the old order had indeed changed.  The miners' candidate had received 3,332 votes as against his opponent's 585.  So was Thomas Burt returned the first veritable working man that had ever entered the House of Commons. [31]


 
CHAPTER LIV

THE LAWS OF THE WORKSHOP


WORKMEN, now that they make their own laws, have the power to make the workshop a place of pleasure or a place of torment.  It is to be feared that the policy of modern days is calculated to bring about the latter result.  And the reason for this policy is the false and wrong-headed conception that all labour is degrading, to which there has latterly been added the equally false and wrongheaded doctrine that the less the labourer produces the more the labourer will profit.

    The fundamental error of the workman lies in disparaging his own calling.  He should leave disparagement to snobs and idlers and loafers—to those slugs and scums of the earth who have never done an honest day's toil in their lives.  If work is degrading, how, then, about the workman?  As one cannot touch pitch without being defiled, so one cannot do a degrading thing without being degraded oneself.  To this complexion the modern doctrine must bring the whole working world at last.  A leader of the new school—he was a member of Parliament, too, at the time—once advised the blast-furnacemen of Cleveland to do as little work as possible, adding that he himself never did any work at all if he could help it!  French adherents of the same school have gone even further.  The ideal of one of them—M. Jules Guesde, a member of the Chamber of Deputies—was, as I recollect writing in 1892, not so much a "fool's paradise" as a "pig's paradise."  But a comrade of his—M. Godefroy, described as "an anarchist of local celebrity in one of the lower quarters of Paris," that same year put the doctrine into practice in a singularly audacious way.  M. Godefroy, so it was recorded at the time, went into a fashionable restaurant, ordered a sumptuous repast, consumed all the luxuries that were placed before him, and then refused to pay the bill.  He had no money, he said, because he did no work, and he did no work because work was degrading!

    The older and infinitely better conception was comprised in the desire to elevate labour, and so elevate the labourer.  "Work is worship."  Never was truer aphorism put into words.  Work has redeemed the world.  It is the salvation of man: for those who don't work die of weariness or debauchery.  Every great thinker has acclaimed the old doctrine—none more powerfully than Thomas Carlyle.  "For," says he, "there is a perennial nobleness, and even sacredness, in Work.  Were he never so benighted, forgetful of his high calling, there is always hope in a man that actually and earnestly works: in idleness alone is there perpetual despair."  Again, "Blessèd is he who has found his work; let him ask no other blessing."  And again, "All  true Work is sacred; in all true Work, were it but true hand-labour, there is something of divineness.  Labour, wide as the earth, has its summit in heaven.  Sweat of the brow; and up from that to sweat of the brain, sweat of the heart; which includes all Kepler calculations, Newton meditations, all Sciences, all spoken Epics, all acted Heroisms."

    But Carlyle has preached in vain; for a canker is eating into the very soul of the worker.  "Ca' canny" is an ugly term; but it is not nearly so ugly, so ineffably repulsive, as the policy it represents—a "policy of skulk," a policy of demanding a good day's wage and doing in return for it a bad day's work.  And yet it is a policy that received in 1896 the open approval of certain prominent leaders connected with the International Federation of Ship and Dock Workers—not Dock Workers, but Dock Skulkers, if the policy were carried out.  Everybody can understand what happens when workmen demand higher wages; everybody can understand, and even appreciate, what happens when the workmen enter upon a strike to enforce their demands; but what cannot be understood, what certainly cannot be appreciated, is a course of procedure which, if persistently and successfully pursued, must inevitably end in the utter demoralization of the artizan classes.  Honesty, according to the new doctrine, is not the best policy.  Trick, deceit, sloth—these are to take the place of industry, integrity, and honour.  Such a scheme of behaviour would have surprised most people if it had been proclaimed by men of the gutter.  That it should have been advocated by persons in the position of leaders of workmen was simply astounding.  The mere fact that the base proceeding should have even been discussed gave the world a shock.

    Consider for a moment.  If dishonesty be good for ship and dock workers, it must be good for all other workers.  And what then?  Bad workmanship will be the order of the day.  Our ships will be made, not to swim, but to sink; our houses, not to stand, but to fall; our clothes, not to wear, but to wear out.  And who will fare worst from the general collapse of things—who but the sailors who go to sea in the rotten ships the labourers who live in the jerry houses, the poor who buy the shoddy clothes?  Dreadful calamities have happened often enough from criminal negligence and botchery—the bad workmanship put into ships, into bridges, into dwelling-houses, into public buildings.  I write as a victim; for my health was permanently injured, and my life was nearly lost, through the conduct of workmen who deliberately mislaid the drains in a new house.  And the terrible catastrophe that befell the Forth Bridge and the train that was crossing it in a storm was presumably due to the faulty castings that were used in the structure.

    Our workmen are yet too honest, too proud of their skill, too mindful of their character and reputation, to sanction the disgraceful policy of skulk.  Out upon the evil counsellers who persuade them to dishonour themselves!  But ominous reports are current that the odious system is creeping, or has crept, into the laws of the workshop; that workmen who do their best, if that best is better than the restrictions laid down allow, are penalised, worried, and assaulted; and that agents and spies are appointed to watch that the restrictive rules are not infringed.  Fancy the shame and degradation of being obliged to refrain from doing an honest day's work!  The effect is disastrous, not only to the character, but to the comfort of the workman.  The labour problem will never be really solved till means have been found to make every man feel an affection for his work and a desire to excel in it.  "A man's joy in his work," the late Mr. Cowen once wrote, "is the best of all human feelings and the greatest of all human pleasures."  The great aim ought, then, to be the realisation of a state of industry in which men will pursue their callings with the same love and the same ardour as they pursue their hobbies and amusements.  Secure such a condition of industry as this, and you make the world happier than it has ever been before—happier than it ever can be in other and differing circumstances.  The policy of the workers, or of some of them, is to get themselves regarded as so many machines.  There is no policy more calculated to make the working life of mankind unendurable.  "A man can do his best thing easiest," says Emerson.  And when he is doing his best he is happy.  The happiest time is the busiest time (so long as the worker is not over wrought), whether in factory, field, or office.  It is the idler and the loafer who find the hours drag heavily.  To ordain idling and loafing, therefore, is to ensure that the workman's life shall be dreary and miserable.  But human nature itself will revolt against the general application of so tyrannous a practice—unless, indeed, the British workman should become a mere slave to his own agent, the petty despot of the workshop.

    The doing of less than they can do, less than they ought to do, and less than they contracted to do, was a ground of just complaint against the men who were employed to plant some of the belts of trees that surround the Town Moor of Newcastle.  There was a great stagnation of trade during the winters of 1892-93 and 93-94.  To relieve the distress the Town Council resolved to provide work in the shape of trenching the ground for the trees.  The work was satisfactorily done the first winter.  But before the second winter came round the ca' canny cancer had eaten its way into the conduct of the suffering people.  The annual report of the City Engineer, dated March 25, 1894, contained this significant passage:—"The result of the efforts made to provide work for the unemployed during the last winter have not been encouraging.  The work has cost more than double what similar work, done under the same conditions and the same supervision, cost the year before."  What was done for 2½d. one year cost 6¼d. the next!  The loss was the town's, but the benefit was nobody's.  The loss was the workman's too, since he lost his character for honesty.

    Curious reasons—sometimes silly and sometimes tyrannical—are occasionally given for strikes.  Miners at one colliery struck because the management had discharged men for dishonest practices; those at a second because the management had closed a pit which had ceased to pay; those at a third because some of their fellows were not in the union.  This latter form of strike, common in all trades of late years, is symptomatic of the growth of arrogance and despotism in the workshop.  And in some trades the employers are compelled to carry out the unlawful and unwarrantable behests of the employed.  Was ever position so humiliating?  I remember how we old Radicals fought tooth and nail against employers who denied to their workmen the right of combination.  It is the right to abstain from combining that is now denied.  Moreover, if workmen insist upon exercising that right, they are expelled from the workshop altogether.  This is the new unionism as once expounded in a document circulated in Tyneside factories:—"The non-unionist should be treated as a social leper, avoided as the plague."  But the old unionism as expounded by Thomas Burt was this:—"While asserting and resolutely maintaining our own rights and liberties, we should respect the rights and liberties of others."  Those who fought against the tyranny of capital, not because it was capital, but because it was tyranny, have now to fight against the tyranny of labour, not because it is labour, but because it also is tyranny.  But Abraham Lincoln was right:—"Men who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and under a just God cannot long retain it."

    The laws of the workshop sometimes help to make the worker's life a burden.  They do so, I think (for I have had personal experience of both systems), when they insist on time-work instead of piece-work.  Drearily drag the hours in the one case, but rapidly and happily they pass in the other.  As Earl Grey once said, "the man who takes no interest in his work is apt to become morose, peevish, and discontented—a pest to the society in which he lives, and a sort of human mosquito, carrying a microbe which spreads the malaria of unhappiness."  Not less effective in the same direction is the system of castes which the laws of the workshop are establishing.  The dominant idea of working men, or rather of working men's societies, is that nobody should be allowed to do anything outside his own trade.  Once a scavenger always a scavenger.  "A man," says Emerson, "should not be a silkworm, nor a nation a tent of caterpillars."  Yet, under the new caste system, men and women will be reduced to the condition, not so much of spiders and ants, as of slugs and worms.  The life of the wretched exiles in Siberian mines is scarcely more weary, monotonous, and despairing than that to which some of our modern trades unionists would condemn all mankind.  Without hopes, aspirations, or even the desire for anything better, our workmen will have to drag out their lives in rounds as dismal as a horse in a grinding-mill, or a squirrel in a cage, or a criminal on the tread-wheel.  But Englishmen will never consent to become or remain mere cogs in a machine.  The attempt to make them or keep them in that condition, however, may bring infinite mischief—such mischief as will inevitably result from the elimination of character and spirit from even a small section of the working classes.

    Workmen are now invested with so vast a power that they can, if they will, reform and renovate the world.  But first they must set their faces against practices in the workshop that are a disgrace to all concerned.  Men are often so much like monkeys and school-boys that they find pleasure in tormenting and ill-using each other.  These petty tyrannies, rendering existence intolerable in the case of victims who are capable of defending themselves, are mean and contemptible in the case of helpless and inoffensive companions.  I know of a poor half-wit in a London workshop who seldom comes home without some tale of outrage done to him.  Once he was smothered with lime which nearly cost him his eyesight.  The men who do these things are scoundrels, and the men who permit them to be done are cowards.  If workmen would exercise a moral censorship—send sots to Coventry and wife-beaters out of the pale—they would do more than has ever yet been done to purge and elevate society.

    And now I will finish with a story.  A great strike for an advance of wages was in progress in one of our chief coal-fields.  It had been raging for fourteen or fifteen weeks, and nearly a quarter of a million men were still idle, their families of course being in dire distress.  The Government of the day (Mr. Gladstone's Government), desiring to end the disastrous strife, commissioned a discreet person to sound the president of the union as to the willingness of the miners' leaders to meet Lord Rosebery and the coalowners to discuss terms of settlement.  The president had gone to bed when the discreet person reached the headquarters of the society on Saturday night.  Next morning the president was interviewed.  "No, sir," said he, "I won't talk about it.  I'm a member of the Lord's Day Observance Society.  Do you think I'm to be bothered about worldly affairs on the Sabbath?"  But the discreet person had already seen the other officers of the society—the vice-president and secretary—and had obtained their assent.  So a conference was held, which resulted in an agreement to pay the old rate of wages for a time, and then refer all matters in dispute to a Board of Conciliation.  Whereupon the miners' delegates passed resolutions congratulating the president on the victory he had won!  Lord Rosebery, then Foreign Minister, delighted with the story of the Sabbath, said to Sir William Harcourt, then Home Secretary: "Splendid fellow that!  Wish I had him in my department."


 
CHAPTER LV

DYNAMITE AND DAGGER


MICHAEL BAKUNIN, the Russian giant whom I saw at the funeral of Dr. Bernard after his escape from Siberia, is accorded the credit of having inspired the Anarchist movement.  Proudhon had been before him in teaching the doctrine that "property is robbery," and Blanqui had been before him in fighting and conspiring against society.  But Bakunin had more to do than either with fomenting an agitation that has resulted in incredible crimes.  "Neither God nor master," was one of Bakunin's mottoes; "destruction for destruction's sake," was another.  From this horrible teaching, and the evil spirit it evoked, there have issued such a series of assassinations and murders as have appalled the world.

    It was not, however, till after Bakunin's death that anarchism was scientifically formulated.  This was done at a conference held in Berne in 1876.  The propositions then adopted, partly positive and partly negative, cleared the ground of all possible misconception as to the meaning of the Anarchists.  The negative doctrine was thus set forth:—


    All things are at an end.

    There is an end to property.  War to the knife against capital, against every description of privilege, and against the exploitation of one man by another.

    There is an end to all distinctions of country.  There shall be no such thing as frontiers or international conflicts.

    There is an end of the State.  Every form of authority, elected or not, dynastic or parliamentary, shall go by the board.


Equally precise and unmistakable was the affirmative part of the doctrine:—


    The social revolution, if it is to escape being a fresh exploitation of the individual, must have no other aim than to create a community in which the individual shall enjoy absolute independence, obeying simply and solely the behests of his own will, and fettered by no obligations imposed upon him by the will of his neighbour; for any restraint of this latter description would undermine the very foundations of the system.  Hence are deduced the two propositions which comprise the whole positive creed of the Anarchist—
    1. Do what you choose.
    2. Everything is everybody's; that is to say, the entire wealth of the community is there for each individual to take from it what he requires.


    Even before the tenets of the Anarchist had been put into formal and precise language, as if the authors were stating a mathematical proposition, they had been practised and exemplified by the Paris Commune.  The Communards, when they were at last defeated, destroyed for the sake of destroying.  It was well for Paris that they had at their command petroleum instead of dynamite.  Dynamite was a later weapon that was employed with deadly and dastardly effect by the furies of another race.  There was perhaps some excuse for the Communards, who were caught like rats in a trap, and who fought like rats in a pit.  Despair and madness accounted for the flames with which the desperate and maddened insurgents endeavoured to reduce Paris to ashes.  It may, however, be doubted whether any similar excuse can be urged for miscreants who, beginning with the dagger, calmly planned and executed the most villainous and yet most useless outrages.

    Broken down in health, in consequence of the criminal negligence, or rather the deliberate rascality, of certain workmen who had prepared a death trap for the first occupants of a new house, I was in the spring of 1882 on my way to America to recruit.  Our ship was the Germanic, one of the fleet of the White Star Line.  We were nearing New York in a dense fog, with icebergs round about us.  The situation was unpleasant, but perhaps not unusual on Atlantic liners.  Nevertheless, we landsmen were greatly relieved when the yellow sails of a pilot boat were seen looming though the mist.  A few minutes more and the pilot was on board.  Almost instantly the whole ship's company—officers, crew, and passengers—was in a state of commotion.  The pilot had brought copies of the latest papers, and these papers contained particulars of the assassination of Lord Frederick Cavendish in Phoenix Park.  The crime had been committed more than a week before—the day after we had left Liverpool.  It was the one subject of excited conversation on board the Germanic, among Britons and Americans alike, till our ship was moored at the landing stage.

    The murder of Lord Frederick and his companion, who were cut to pieces with knives in broad daylight and in a public park, was the beginning of a series of even more diabolical and purposeless atrocities.  The Fenians who did these things, many of whom came from America to do them, had probably not needed the incitements of Anarchist apostles to initiate a propaganda of bloodshed.  But they preached and put into operation the same ferocious doctrines.  The midnight use of torch and dagger in England was openly and almost incessantly advocated in New York and other cities of the United States from 1881 onwards.  The mysterious sinking of the British ship Doterel with the loss of all on board was claimed as a triumph for the dynamite party.  "It is the duty of every Irish citizen," cried an Irish orator in 1883, "to kill the representatives of England wherever found.  The holiest incense to Heaven would be the smoke of burning London."  Emergency Clubs and Crusader Clubs were established to wreck and ruin England.  One of these took the name of one of the murderers of Lord Frederick Cavendish—the Joe Brady Emergency Club.  A meeting of the members was held in March, 1884, whereat Frank Byrne, who had been concerned in the Phoenix Park crime, but who then ran a liquor saloon in New York, advised the general use of "dynamite, the torch, and the knife."

    But the great fire-eater of the day was Jeremiah O'Donovan, otherwise known as O'Donovan Rossa.  The Americans called him a blatherskite, but he called himself a madman.  "I am not a fool," said he at a meeting in Columbia Hall, Brooklyn, on Dec. 30, 1883; "I am not a fool, but I admit I am a madman."  Rossa published a paper called the United Irishman.  This paper announced that a "verdict of murder" had been returned against Mr. Gladstone, and that "four Irishmen had volunteered to carry out the verdict."  Gladstone was doomed, but London was doomed also.  "The wrongs and injuries of seven centuries of oppression," it was declared, "may yet be avenged by the conflagration of London.  It has been repeatedly asserted that London is perfectly combustible.  It is built of such wretched materials, and contains such mountains of coal, wood, cotton, and cloth, such oceans of spirituous liquors, such immeasurable quantities of inflammable materials, that the Irish inhabitants might easily wrap London in crimson conflagration.  Not London alone.  Liverpool might blaze like another Moscow, or Manchester redden the midnight skies like another Chicago."  Rossa was for practical work, he said at the Brooklyn meeting:--"I go in for dynamite.  Tear down English cities; kill the English people.  To kill and massacre and pillage is justifiable in the eyes of God and man."  One need not, after this, contest the accuracy of Rossa's description of himself.

    Yet there were other madmen in the field then—three at least.  One was Robert Blissert, another William Bourke, the third Professor Mezeroff, "the dynamite apostle."  Mr. Blissert declared that it would be "an act of humanity to lay all England in ashes."  Mr. Bourke was a little more particular.  "Scientists teach us," he said, "that gunpowder will blow a man up at the rate of 6,000 miles a minute; but, thank Heaven, these same scientists have given us dynamite, which would send the city of London—yes, all England—flying at the rate of 73,000 miles a minute.  If we educate a thousand men in the science of chemistry, they can blow every city in England four miles above heaven in less than six months."  It was to teach them chemistry that Professor Mezeroff (apparently an Irishman with a Russian name) desired to set about establishing dynamite schools—a dynamite school in every ward of New York.  Bourke asked for a thousand men.  Mezeroff thought a tenth of that number would do.  "One hundred men educated in scientific warfare," he proudly proclaimed, "could lay every town and city in England in ashes."

    Madness was in the air in the eighties and far into the nineties.  Nor was it confined to one country or one race.  It was rampant in England as much as in America, and in France and Spain as much as in either.  There were German madmen, English madmen, French madmen—all thirsting for blood, like so many ghouls or vampires.  Johann Most, who, like Bakunin, wished to "destroy everything," advised every labourer to select a victim: "He will seek him at his house, in his office, in his factory, at the counter, at the store, or in the church.  Then he will bludgeon him, or stab him, or poison him."  The German was not more sanguinary than the English Anarchist.  "If," said Mr. Champion, "I thought the miserable system under which we live could be done away with by cutting the throats of the million and a quarter of people who hold among them three-fourths of the wealth of England, I would do it with my own hand this minute."  Even the champion pig-killer of Chicago could hardly with his own hand cut a million and a quarter of throats in a minute; but this was a difficulty that did not occur to the English Anarchist.  Champion, however, was scarcely more bloodthirsty than some of his comrades.  One Nicoll, representing the "Commonweal Group," declared that all means were lawful to the Anarchist, "whether the knife, the pistol, or the running noose," and that everything that stood in his way was to be destroyed, "from God to the meanest policeman."  During a time of distress in 1894, one Williams, an organizer of the Social Democratic Federation, set himself to incite the suffering people of London to violence and outrage.  "The unemployed," he said, "were morally justified in helping themselves to the accumulations of wealth created by their own toil."  And the police who interfered with them should be "sent to heaven by chemical parcels post."  Quite a facetious person, Mr. Williams!"  With a piece of explosive the size of a penny, which could be carried in the pocket," he added, "the whole of two lines of police could be removed."  And a comrade of Williams's said he was prepared to start at once the pulling down and burning business.  Compared with these ferocious sentiments, the advice of one Shaw Maxwell, who came down from London to suggest that the unemployed people of Newcastle should "sack the bakers' shops," was commendable for its moderation.  The French Anarchists were not behind the rest in truculence.  The massacre of the bourgeoisie was openly advocated in Paris in 1884; Citizen Eudes, a general of the Communards, lamented that the Commune had not "slaughtered, burned, and destroyed to the end"; and Louise Michel, the crazy Frenchwoman whom the Anarchists thought inspired, exultantly exclaimed in 1886, when a Socialist mob had robbed the jewellers' shops in Pall Mall, that "the English people were at last aroused, and would choke the Thames with the corpses of the capitalists."

    But Anarchism did not confine itself to threats.  Diabolical outrages were of frequent occurrence from 1890 to 1894—now in France, then in Italy, anon in Spain.  Ravachol, a low thief and murderer before he became an Anarchist, startled the world with a fiendish crime.  Worse atrocities followed.  Auguste Vaillant, a gaol-bird and the companion of thieves and burglars, threw a bomb into the midst of the Chamber of Deputies of France, causing terrible injuries; Emile Henri, selecting the happiest crowd he could find, did the like in a Paris restaurant; and Salvador Franch, who seems to have never done an honest day's work in his life, exploded an infernal machine in a crowded opera house at Barcelona, killing twenty-three innocent people and wounding twice as many more.  And the deeds of these demons were hailed with acclamations in the Anarchist circles of London.  "If," said one Turner at a meeting in Wardour Street, "if the working classes were to do any good for themselves, they must do as Ravachol did."  H. B. Samuels, the editor of a bloodthirsty print called the Commonweal, declared at a meeting in the Grafton Hall, Fitzroy Square, that "their comrade in Barcelona had done a great and good act."  Writing later of the same event in his own publication, he expressed the pleasure he felt "because of the death of thirty rich people and the injury of eighty others"!  The Anarchists had other heroes besides Ravachol and Franch.  One was Hermann Stellmacher.  This man was executed in Austria for the murder of a policeman.  But he had been guilty of still more despicable crimes.  Two men, one evening in January, 1883, entered the office of a money-changer named Eisert, situated in a principal
street of Vienna.  Herr Eisert was first blinded with sand, and then so brutally assaulted that he died shortly afterwards.  This done, the miscreants penetrated to an inner apartment of the house, where they attempted to murder the two children of their victim and an aged lady who was giving them some lessons.  One of the children subsequently died.  The murderers ransacked the office, and stole all the money they could find.  Some brewery shares which fell into their hands were sold to a bank in Pesth, the proceeds being distributed between Stellmacher and two Anarchist newspapers.  The memory of this common thief and assassin, who was described as the "Hero of the Proletariat," was commemorated a few months later by the Anarchists of New York, Most and a man, named Kennel glorifying his crimes and extolling him as a martyr!

    The homicidal maniacs who constitute the extreme section of the Anarchical party are alleged to be all consumed with vanity.  The behaviour of most of them in court and prison warrants this assumption.  When Ravachol was condemned to death, he wrote an abominable song which he hoped to sing before a great crowd on the way from the prison to the place of execution.  But his calculations were upset by the arrangements of the Prefect of the Loire.  When he found, says M. Lepine, that he was to be deprived of an audience, his bravado forsook him, and he collapsed so utterly that he was half-dead before he reached the guillotine.


[Next Page]

_________________________


FOOTNOTES.


27.    It was no doubt to this cause that we must ascribe a recent feat of a Plymouth daily.  The name of my old friend the member for Morpeth was therein given as "Mr. Durt, M.P."

28.    It was this same divine who astonished a diocesan conference in Newcastle by declaring that dynamite and the dagger, in the eyes of the judge of all the world, were "only an impassioned prayer"!

29.    Confirmation of the statements in the text may be found in the "Memoirs of an Ex-Minister."  The Ex-Minister was the Earl of Malmesbury, who twice held the seals of the Foreign Office in the Cabinets of Lord Derby.  Lord Malmesbury made the following entry in his diary on April 20th, 1864:—"Garibaldi leaves England on Friday.  Lord Clarendon, who has just returned from Paris, has informed the Government that the Emperor has made that a condition of his joining with us in the conference (Danish-German affairs); and certainly there must be some intrigues, as Mr. Ferguson, the surgeon, writes a letter to the Duke of Sutherland—which is published—saying that it would be dangerous to Garibaldi's health if he exposed himself to the fatigue of an expedition to Manchester, etc.  On the other hand, Dr. Basile, Garibaldi's own doctor, says he is perfectly well and able to undergo all the fatigue of a journey to the manufacturing towns.  The publication of this letter in contradiction to Mr. Ferguson's must have been done with Garibaldi's consent; it shows he is angry, and does not leave England willingly."

30.    Mr. Elliott thinks I am wrong in this statement.  The "Hubbubboo," he says, was the production of Dr. Robert Trotter, then of Choppington, but now of Perth, the author of "Galloway Gossip" and a host of other things.

31.    Mr. Burt often afterwards dined at the same table as Mr. Gladstone—often, therefore, heard the great statesman tell interesting stories.  Here is one that I have not seen in print before.  An old admiral lay on his death bed.  The fact did not seem to concern him.  So the clergyman of the parish endeavoured to prepare his mind for the impending change.  The dying man was reminded of the privileges that belonged to the household of faith.  Wonderful was the happiness that awaited the repentant and believing spirit.  Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive, the glories of the realms above.  "Aye, aye," piped the old salt, "it may be as you say,—but," feebly waving his nightcap around his head, "Ould England for me!  Ould England for me!"

 


 

[Home] [Up] [American Cousins] [Miscellanea] [Main Index] [Site Search]

Correspondence should be sent to Webmaster@Gerald-Massey.org.uk