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CHAPTER IX.

THE OLD POSTILLION


BESIDES Church Chartists and Positivist Chartists, there were Tory Chartists, of whom I add an account, and a list of those among them who were paid in the days of their hired activity.  But the business of this chapter is with the Old Postillion, the founder of the real Chartists, who taught them and who knew them all.

    Of course I mean Francis Place, who was always ready to mount and drive the coach of the leaders of the people.  Though he took that modest and useful position, it was he who determined the route, made the map of the country, and fixed the destination of the journey.  Joseph Parkes himself, known as "The People's Attorney-General," first addressed Place as the "Old Postillion." [13]  James Watson, a working-class politician (whom Place could always trust), wrote of him at his death as the "English Franklin," [14] a very good title, having regard to the strength of the commonsense characteristics of Place.

    One advantage (there were not many) of my imprisonment which I have never ceased to value, was that it led to my acquaintance with Place.  From him I learned many things of great use to me in after life.  One thing he said to me was: "A man who is always running after his character seldom has a character worth the chase."  Some far-seeing qualification was generally present in what he said.  For a man who is "always" vindicating himself becomes tiresome and ineffectual.  Yet now and then, sooner or later, and often better later then sooner, a personal explanation may be useful.  Printed actionable imputations were made against Cobbett of which no notice was taken—so far as I knew—which created in many minds an ineffaceable personal prejudice against him.

    Once imputations were published concerning me which justified contradiction.  It came to pass that they were certified as true by a person of mark.  Then I proposed to show that the allegations were untrue.  Whereupon I was assured it would be to my disadvantage with many with whom I stood well, which meant that should I prove I was not a rascal I should lose many of my best friends, which shows the curious perplexities of personal explanation.  Nevertheless, I made it. [15]  Mr. Place told me that in the course of his career as defender of the people, "he had been charged with every crime known to the Newgate Calendar save wilful murder."  A needless reservation, for that would have been believed.  He let them pass, merely keeping a record of the accusations to see if their variety included any originality.  There was one charge brought against him which to this day prejudices many against him.  The one thought to be most overwhelming was that he was a "tailor" at Charing Cross.  After that, argument against the principles he maintained was deemed superfluous; as though following a trade of utility disqualified a man's opinions on public affairs; while one who did nothing, and whose life and ideas were useless to mankind, might be listened to with deference.

    In 1849 Chambers's Journal published an article on the "Reaction of Philanthropy," against which I made vehement objection in an article in the Spirit of the Age, of which Chambers's Journal took, for them, the unusual course of replying.  The Spirit of the Age coming under Place's notice, he sent me the following letter, which I cite exactly as it was expressed, in his quaint, vigorous and candid way:—


"B
ROMPTON SQUARE,
"March 3, 1849,


    "M
ASTER HOLYOAKE,—I have read your paper of observations on a paper written by Chambers, and dislike it very much.  You assume an evil disposition in Chambers, and have laid yourself open to the same imputation.  This dispute now consists of three of us, you and I and Chambers —all three of us, in vulgar parlance, being philanthropists.  I have not read Chambers, but expect to find, from what you have said and quoted, that he, like yourself, has been led by his feelings, and not by his understanding, and has therefore written a mischievous paper.  I will read this paper and decide for myself.  Knowledge is not wisdom.  The most conspicuous proof of this is the conduct of Lord Brougham.  He knows many things, more, indeed, than most men, but is altogether incapable of combining all that relates to any one case, i.e., understanding it thoroughly, and he therefore never exhausts any subject, as a man of a more enlarged understanding would do.  This, too, is your case.  I think I may say that not any one of your reasonings is as perfect as it ought to be, and if I were in a condition to do so, I would make this quite plain to you by carrying out your defective notions—reasonings, if you like the term better.

    "It will, I am sure, be admitted, at least as far as your thinking can go, that neither yourself, nor Chambers, nor myself, would intentionally write a word for the purpose of misleading, much less injuring the working people; yet your paper must, as far as it may be known to them, not only have that tendency, but a much worse one; that of depraving them, by teaching them, in their public capacity, to seek revenge, to an extent which, could it pervade the whole mass, must lead to slaughter among the human race—the beasts of prey called mankind; for such they have ever been since they have had existence, and such as they must remain for an indefinite time, if not for ever.  Their ever being anything else is with me a forlorn hope, while yet, as I can do no better, I continue in my course of life to act as if I really had a strong hope of immense improvement for the good of all.—Yours, really and truly,

"FRANCIS PLACE."


    There was value in Mr. Place's friendship.  He was able to measure the minds of those with whom he came in contact, and for those for whom he cared he would do the service of showing to them the limits within which they were working.  It was thus he took trouble to be useful to those who could never requite him, by putting strong, wise thoughts before them.

    Elsewhere [16] have related how Place on one occasion—when all London was excited, and the Duke of Wellington indignant and repellant—went on a deputation to him, and was dismissed with the ominous words: "You seem to have heads on your shoulders; take care you keep them there."  The courage of seeking this interview, at which Place was the chief speaker, is well shown in the experience of George Petrie, who was known to Place.  Petrie was an intelligent soldier, who served under Wellington in the Peninsular War, and was wounded in several engagements.  It often happened that the commissary was in arrears to the troops with their rations, but when the supply arrived the arrears were faithfully served out to the soldiers.  On one of these occasions, when some days' rations were due, Corporal Petrie was absent on duty when the rations were served out, and on his return he found himself without his arrears.  To a half-starved soldier this was a serious disappointment, and Petrie applied to the quartermaster, to the adjutant, and to the captain of his company, but without effect, until he arrived at the commanding officer of his regiment.  Being as unsuccessful as he had been with the other officers, and becoming hungrier by delay, he requested permission to make his complaint to the Commander-in-Chief (Lord Wellington), which was granted.  Upon being introduced he found his lordship seated at a table perusing some documents.  "Well," said the Commander, without raising his eyes from the papers before him, "what does this man want?"  "He is come to appeal to your lordship about his rations," replied the officer in attendance; whereupon the Commander-in-Chief, without asking or permitting a single word of explanation from the injured soldier, without discovering (as he ought in common justice to have done) whether the soldier had a real grievance for the redress of which he had sought the protection of the head of the army, Wellington hurriedly exclaimed, "Take the fellow away and give him a d—d good flogging!"  Petrie, naturally indignant and a determined man, lay in wait two nights to shoot Wellington, who escaped by taking one night a different route, and on another being closely accompanied by his staff.  The facts were published in 1836.  Petrie's appeal shows that the Duke was not a pleasant person for Mr. Place to call upon.  No biography or book about Wellington has anything to say of his sympathy with men who died in making his fame.  He took the same care of his men, and no more, that he did of his muskets, which it must be owned is more than many employers do, who take more care of their machinery than of the workers.  Wellington kept his men dry, but he had no more feeling for them than he had for their carbines.  Petrie's story will be instructive to men who shout for war without knowing what the soldier's fate is.  They were told by Tennyson "not to ask the reason why."  Their business is to die without inquiring whether they are murderers or patriots, or what treatment will befall them in the ranks.  If they do they may expect some form of the Petrie treatment.

    To Place, the experience of social reformers was as valuable as that of politicians.  Social life gives its character to public life, and the politician is most to be valued whose measures tend to exalt the daily life of the people.  Near the end of his days Place addressed the following (his last) letter to Robert Owen, with whom he had been acquainted since 1813:—


"21, BROMPTON SQUARE,
"March 26, 1847,


"D
EAR OWEN,—It is some years since you and I had a conversation, and it is time we had one.  Will you call upon me, or shall I call upon you?  I go out but little, having an asthmatic complaint, which at times treats me sadly, and from which I am never wholly free.  Worst of all, I have an affection of the brain, which will not permit me either to read or write, and when these two complaints co-operate I am something worse than good for nothing.  You are, I conclude, in a much better state than I am, although you are not much younger, yet the doctors tell me that after having lived through seventy years without illness, I have nothing to complain of in the usual circumstances of old age now that I approximate to eighty.—Yours truly,

"FRANCIS PLACE."


    From a condition of absolute penuriousness, he raised himself to the position of master tailor, from which, at the age of forty-five, he was able to retire upon an income of £1,100.  Shrewd, hard-headed, painstaking, vigilant and prudent as he was, he found, when more than sixty, that ,£650 of his income was irrevocably lost.  He had put a large part of his capital into house property, and left the investment of it to an incompetent or dishonest solicitor. [17]  The fate befel him which afterwards befel Cobden, Thomas Bayley Potter, and some others.

    Why did Place let his prudence sleep?  Why, in his walks with Jeremy Bentham, [18] did he not turn his steps to the sites of his investments, and judge for himself their value?  His absorbed interest in public affairs is the only explanation.  Yet he had often warned others that such engrossment, however honourable, should be limited, and not suffered to endanger necessary personal security.

    On the death of Place in 1854, at the age of eighty-two, the Spectator and the Reasoner expressed a hope that a life of Place would be written as one of supreme utility to the great class which he had served so conspicuously.

    Happily this was done, forty-four years after, in 1898, [19] by Mr. Graham Wallas.  When he mentioned to me his intention of writing a biography o f Place, I told him where, in the Manuscript Department of the British Museum, he would find virgin material in Place's own compact and clear hand.  By research there and elsewhere, Mr. Wallas has produced a valuable and remarkable book, of which there is no similar one so instructive to a working-class politician.

    The most notable of all the insurgent publicists Place inspired and counselled, Richard Carlile, an impassable defender of a Free Press, whom pitiless power in the darkest days of its supremacy could not subdue, thus wrote of Place:


"Though by circumstances (meaning those of nine years' imprisonment) separated from the immediate acquaintance of Mr. Place for several years past, I can, by experience of eighteen and the well-founded report of forty years, pronounce him a prodigy of useful, resolute, consistent political exertion and indefatigable labour, which evidently continues unabated to this day. . . . Francis Place, by his assistant labours and advice given to the members of the House of Commons, has produced more effect in that House than any man who was ever a member." [20]


    This testimony from one who bore the heat and burden of the day with Place, agrees with all recorded of him.  Carlile wrote in 1835, and the public work Place was engaged in then he continued until his death in 1854, at which time he was chairman of the Committee for Repealing Taxes on Knowledge.  The Old Postillion was on the saddle to the last.


 
CHAPTER X.

MEETING BREAKERS—LIST OF THOSE PAID FOR DOING IT


THE enfranchisement of the working class, for which Place worked so unceasingly, could not come—in the ordinary course of things English—until the middle class had succeeded in their contest with their feudal masters.  By the possession of the vote in 1832, the middle class became a rival power to the aristocracy; and that power would be greatly augmented if the middle class should favour the extension of the franchise to the working class, as many of them were naturally inclined to do.  The Tory policy then was to sow animosity between the middle and the working classes, which might prevent them acting together.  Their method was to suggest that the middle class, having obtained what they wanted, cared nothing for the people, notwithstanding that Hume, Leader, Roebuck, Grote, Mill, Cobden, and Bright, were the great champions of the franchise for the people, who incurred labour, peril, and obloquy for them.  Temple Leader said: "Do not be too sure workmen will not turn against you, do what you may for them.  If sheep had votes they would give them all to the butcher"—as we have seen them do in this generation.  The Tories had spite against the Whigs, who gave the people the first Reform Bill, Disraeli began to denounce the Whigs, and he soon found ostensible leaders of the people to help.  Chartist speakers were bribed to take up the cry.  The Irish in England, who thought their chances lay in English difficulty, willingly preached distrust of the middle class, and their eloquent tongues gave them ascendency among the Chartists, many of whom honestly believed that spite was a mode of progress, and under the impression that passion was patriotism, they took money to express it.  The Liberal portion of the middle class had long contributed to the support of workmen's political societies.  But when they found their own meetings broken up by Chartists, and their Tory adversaries aided at elections, their subscriptions decreased, and a new charge of hostility to the working class was founded on that.

    This chapter is a statement, not a plea.  Considering the superior information and means of the middle class, they have not shown themselves so solicitous for the political claims of Labour as they ought—having regard to their own interests alone.  Nor have the Labour class shown that regard for the rights of the middle class, by which Labour could have furthered its own advantages.  Friendliness between them is the interest of both.

    Who would have thought that if you scratched a Chartist you would find a Tory agent under his skin?  Yet so it proved with many of them.  George Julian Harney was a Republican.  In early Chartist days he wore on Winlaton platforms a Red Cap of Liberty, after the manner of Marat, and called himself "L'Ami du Peuple," after Marat's famous "Journal of Blood."  Yet he was not the Friend of the People, in the sense we all thought.  He went to America with the reputation of a fiery patriot.  It procured for him a welcome from the Liberals of Boston, and he was given a clerkship in the State House soon after his arrival.  He might have grown grey in England before a place would have been given him in any Government department here. [21]  To my astonishment Harney soon began to write home disparagements of the American people and their Government, such as we were familiar with from aristocratic pens.  When the Bulgarian massacres were stirring the indignation of English Liberals, he sent me a pamphlet he had written, in the spirit of Disraeli's "Coffee House Babble" speech.  I wrote to him, saying "it read like the production of a full-blown Tory."  He resented the imputation—when all the time it was true.  He had cast off his Liberal garments, and was naked, and ashamed.  Afterwards he cast off the shame.  When I was in Boston, in 1879, American Liberals expressed to me their disappointment that Mr. Harney neither associated with them nor lent them any assistance in their societies, such as they had expected when they welcomed him to their shores.  Yet to the end of his days I remained his personal friend, in consideration of services in agitations in which we had worked together.  I had helped him when he issued The Republic and had written words in honour of his first wife, a Mauchline beauty of the Amazon type, whose heroism was notable.  In times of danger she would say to her husband, "Do what you think to be your duty, and never mind me."

    I first knew Harney at the time of the Bull Ring Riots in Birmingham in 1839.  He was "wanted" by the authorities.  I alone knew where he lodged.  He knew he was safe in my hands, and we never ceased to trust each other.  I never change my friendship for a colleague because he changes his opinions; but I never carry my friendship so far as to change my convictions for his.

    Happily it is now thought a scandal to say that Chartist politicians took money from Tories to break up Liberal meetings.  This shows there is a feeling against it.  But they did take it.  Thomas Cooper, as well as Ernest Jones, the two poets of Chartism, were themselves in this disastrous business.

    When Thomas Cooper came to London he went, as most Chartists of note did, to see Francis Place.  After some conversation Place asked, "Why did you take money to prevent Liberal meetings being held?"  Cooper vehemently denied it.  Place then showed him a cheque which Sir Thomas Easthope, the banker, had cashed for him.  Place said, "You had £109, so much in gold, so much in silver, and so much in copper, for the convenience of paying minor patriots."  Years after Cooper in his Life expressed regret that he had denied receiving Tory money.

    Mr. Bright, in the House of Commons, June 5th, 1846, told the honourable member, Mr. Thomas Slingsby Duncombe, that those parties with whom he was found at public meetings out of doors had been the greatest enemies of the repeal of the Corn Laws. (Cries of "Name!")

    In answer to the cries of "Name" (says a leading article of the League newspaper), we will mention a few only of the most prominent and active of these:—Feargus O'Connor, Leach, McDowall, Pitkeithly, Nightingale, O'Brien, Marsden, Bairstow, Cooper, Harney—some of whom, to our knowledge, and as we are ready to prove, were well paid for their opposition to the Free Traders.  Nor would it be difficult to show where the money came from.  Let one fact suffice.  In June, 1841, on the occasion of a great open-air Anti-Corn Law meeting being held in Stevenson Square, Manchester (in answer to the taunt of the Duke of Richmond that no public meeting could be held against the Corn Laws), the monopolists made a great effort to upset the meeting.  Every Chartist leader of any notoriety was brought to Manchester from places as distant as Leicester and Sunderland.  The most prominent leader and fugleman of the opposition was Mr. Charles Wilkins, Dr. Sleigh and he moving and seconding the amendment to the Free Trade resolution.  On that very morning Mr. Wilkins cashed a cheque for £150, drawn by the Duke of Buckingham at Jones and Lloyd's Bank.  At that meeting of 10,000 working men the Chartists were driven off the ground.  Blows being exchanged and blood spilt in the fray, the aim of the Chartist party to create confusion was so far gained; and the moral effect of the demonstration was effectually marred.  For more than three years at the beginning of the agitation every public meeting called by the Free Traders was subjected to outrages of a similar kind by the followers of O'Connor. [22]

    A short time ago Mr. Chamberlain made a point of declaring that the working classes were against Free Trade in Cobden's days.  The only portion of the working class known to oppose Free Trade were the Chartists.  Why they did so, Mr.Chamberlain ought to know.  If he does not, he may learn the reason in these pages.  The list of the payments made to them was published, when it could have been contradicted if untrue.  But no disproof was ever attempted.  Even "Honest Tom Duncombe," as the Chartists affectionately called him, was known to be in the pay of the French Emperor, of sinister renown, as documents found in the Tuileries showed.  The Chartists, who became the hired agents of Tory hostility, did more to delay and discredit the Charter and to create distrust of the cause of Labour than all outside enemies put together.

    Those who censure the middle class for indifference to the Parliamentary claims of Labour, should bear in mind the provocation they received.  Their meetings were frustrated for years after the Anti-Corn Law agitation was ended.  In the light of what we know it seems hypocrisy in the Tories to speak of Chartists with the horror and disdain which they displayed, when all the while the Chartists were doing their work.  It seems also ingratitude that when questions were raised in Parliament of mitigating the condition of Chartist prisoners, the Tories never raised a single voice in their favour.

    We know there were Tory Chartists, because they took money from the Tories to promote their interests.  We know it also by the sign that while they denounced the Whigs they were always silent about the Tories.  Now the Whigs are practically dropped and Liberals are denounced, there is the same tell-tale silence as to the Tories.  Now we see a party arise so virtuous, philosophic and impartial that no party suits their fastidious taste, and they will have nothing to do with Liberals or Tories.  When they speak, Liberals are referred to as very unsatisfactory persons, but no objections are made to Tories.  The reticence is still instructive.

    So be it.  In art, every man to his taste; in politics, every man according to his conscience.  I only describe species.  There is a science of political horticulture, and it is only by knowing the nature of the plant that any one can tell what flower or fruit to expect.  Yet there are politicians who go mooning about looking for nectarines on crab-apple trees.  The Old Postillion made no such mistake.


 
CHAPTER XI.

TROUBLE WITH HER MAJESTY

-I-


REFERENCES are continually made in the Press to certain events recorded in this chapter founded upon statements made by myself, but lacking details and without the official substantiating documents.  The original summonses and other legal instruments were preserved, and copies of them are given herein.  Reports only would be incredible to the new generation, and it is necessary to publish them to give authenticity to the narrative of what really took place.

    It seems better to say "Trouble with Her Majesty" than Trouble with the Queen, "Majesty" being more official than personal.  The three indictments to be recorded in this narrative all took place in the Victorian reign.  It seems a disadvantage of the monarchical system that the name of the head of the reigning House should be attached to all proceedings, great or petty, noble or mean, honourable or infamous.  It assumes the personal cognisance and interference in everything by the occupant of the Throne.  It is the same in the theological system, where the Deity is assumed to personally cause or permit whatever takes place in this inexplicable universe.  If the glory of the mountain be his, the devastation of the inhabitants of the valley by a volcano is also his act.  The Church is beginning, not too soon, to discourage this theory.  The curate rescued from a wreck who reported to Archbishop Whately that he had been "providentially" saved, was asked by the logical prelate, "Do you intend to say that the lost have been 'providentially' drowned?"  Thus blasphemy is made one of the wings of religion—just as sedition becomes a wing of loyalty, when discreditable incidents are represented as the personal acts of the Crown.  Lawyers know that the King or Queen is not directly answerable, but by acute legal fiction, odious responsibility is transferred to others.  But the people always think that he or she, in whose name a thing is done, is answerable for it, and theologians all teach that everything, even rascality, occurs by the will of God.
 
    References to my indebtedness to the Exchequer of £600,000 of fines incurred by publishing unstamped newspapers, seem to readers of to-day a factless tradition.  This is not so, as will appear from the warrants and notices of prosecution which follow, copied from the original documents in my possession, which have never until now been published.

    Early in 1855, I received the following message from Her Majesty, in the 18th year of her reign:—


"Victoria, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of the Faith, to George Jacob Holyoake,
GREETING.  We command and strictly injoin you that (all excuses apart) you appear before the Barons of our Exchequer at Westminster, on the thirty-first day of January instant, To answer us concerning certain Articles then and there on our behalf to be objected against you.  And this in no wise omit under the penalty of One Hundred Pounds, which we shall cause to be levied to our use upon your Goods and Chattels, Lands and Tenements, if you neglect this our present command.  Witness, Sir FREDERICK POLLOCK, Knight, at Westminster, the eleventh day of January, in the eighteenth Year of our Reign.   By the Barons.

"H. W. VINCENT, Q.R."


    "Mr. George Jacob Holyoake,—You are served with this Process to the intent that you may by your Attorney, according to the practice of the Court, appear in Her Majesty's Court of Exchequer, at the return thereof in order to your defence in this prosecution.

"Mr. George Jacob Holyoake.
    "At the suit of Her Majesty's Attorney-General,
                                  "By Information.
"Folio 9—1855.

                                  "J
OSEPH TIMM,
                      "Solicitor of the Inland Revenue,
                                  "Somerset House, London.

"Folio 9—55.
            "Inland Revenue, Somerset House.
                                  "Solicitors' Department.

"The Attorney-General against George Jacob Holyoake.

    "The penalties sought to be recovered by this prosecution are several of £20 each, which the defendant has incurred by publishing certain newspapers called War Chronicle and The War Fly Sheet on unstamped paper."


    As I had published 30,000 copies, the penalties incurred were £600,000.

    These alarming documents were accompanied by intimation as to the question at issue, and the penalties to be recovered.  My solicitors, Messrs. Ashurst, Waller and Morris, No. 6, Old Jewry, put in an appearance for me, but on the repeal of the duty shortly after, a hearing was never entered upon, and the penalties have not been collected.  How they came to be incurred in respect of the War Chronicles the reader may see in "Sixty years," vol. i. p. 287.

    No intimation was ever given to me—there is no courtesy, I believe, in law—that these intimidating summonses were withdrawn.  I had no defence against the charge.  I could not deny, nor did I intend to deny, that I had knowingly and wilfully published the said papers.  In justification I could only allege that I had acted, as I believed, in the public interest, which, I was told, was no legal answer.  The law, which ought to be clear and plain, was, I knew, full of quirks and surprises; and, for all I knew, or know to this day, the payment of the fines incurred might be demanded of me.  It was communicated to the then Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Gladstone) that in case of the full demand being made upon me, I should be under the necessity of asking him to take it in weekly instalments, as I had not the whole amount by me.

    The position of an "unstamped" debtor was not, in those days, a light one.  My house in Fleet Street could be entered by officers of the Inland Revenue; every person in it, printers, assistants in the shop, and any one found upon the premises could be arrested.  The stock of books could be seized, and blacksmiths set to break up all presses and destroy all type, as was done to Henry Hetherington; and for many weeks I made daily preparations for arrest.

    The St. James's Gazette (April 13, 1901) referred to the fines of £600,000 incurred by me.  What I really owed was a much larger sum, had the Government been exacting.  Previously to the War Chronicle liability, I had published the Reasoner twelve years, of which the average number issued may have exceeded 2,000 weekly, or 104,000 a year—every copy of which, containing news and being unstamped, rendered me liable to a fine of £20 each copy.  Now 104,000 x 12 x £20 exceeded more millions of indebtedness than I like to set down.  Any arithmetical reader can ascertain the amount for himself.  A friend in the Inland Revenue Office first made the calculation for me, which astonished me very much, as it did him.  Had the whole sum been recoverable it might have saved the Budget of a Chancellor of the Exchequer struggling with a deficit.

    The Government were frequently asked to prosecute me.  It was not from any tenderness to me that they did not.  It was their reluctance to give publicity to the Reasoner that caused them to refrain.  It was the advocacy of unusual opinion which gave me this immunity.

    The St. James's Gazette asked me: "Is it justifiable for a good citizen to break a law because he believes it to be wrong?"  I answered—No! unless the public good seems to require it, and that he who breaks the law is prepared to take the consequences."  I never evaded the consequences, nor complained of them when they came.  If every one who breaks a law first satisfies himself that public interest justifies it, and he is ready to meet the penalty, only bad laws would be broken.  It is also the duty of a citizen to find out whether there is any practical way open for procuring the repeal of a bad law before breaking it.  Respect for law, under representative government, in which the law-breaker has a share, is a cardinal duty of a citizen.

    On my violation of the law in the matter of the War Chronicles, Mr. Gladstone (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) said to a deputation, that he knew "my object was not to break the law, but to try the law."

    The impulsive and the ambitious of repute may overlook this consideration, but as I sought neither distinction nor martyrdom, I acted as I did because no other course was open, and no other person would take this.


-II.-


    In the year following the prosecution in the Court of Exchequer, Her Majesty gave me further trouble in discharge of the odious duty imposed upon her as collector of debts for the Church.  As few know to-day how hateful this impost was, it will be informing to see how the clerical case was officially stated to me.  It began as follows:—


"Mr. George Jacob Holyoake,—Take Notice that in and by certain Rates or Assessments made by virtue of and for the purposes mentioned in the Act of Parliament passed in the 4th Year of the Reign of her late Majesty Queen Ann, Cap. 27, intituled, 'An Act for settling the Impropriate Tythes of the Parish of Saint Bridgett, alias Bride's, London,' You are assessed in respect of the Houses, Shops, Warehouses, Cellars, Stables, Tofts, Grounds, or other Tenements or Hereditaments, within the said Parish occupied by you, in four several Sums amounting to One pound four shillings and eightpence for four several Quarters of a Year commencing at the Feast of The Birth of our Lord Christ, 1854, and ending at the same Feast in the Year 1855, and that such assessments are made on a Rental of £74.  Dated this a 2nd day of May, 1856.
                                                    "J
OHN WILLIAM THOMAS,
                                                                             "Collector of the said Rates."


    These ecclesiastical cormorants took a hungry survey of every place containing property on which they could lay hands.  After the Rathcormac massacre, where two sons of the widow Ryan were shot by the soldiers, employed by the Church in collecting its rates—how appropriate and consoling it must be to a bereaved mother to read that the rates commenced to be due at "The Feast of the Birth of our Lord Christ!"  Yet there are people who go about promoting prosecutions for blasphemy, and with a holy partiality leave untouched outrages like these.  The summons sent to me speaks of the "late Queen Ann," who had been dead 140 years.  Her name being spelt "Ann" shows that she had been dead long enough to lose the final "e" of her name.  The rent of the Fleet Street house was £74, £400 having been paid for the lease.  Each time there came on the scene the local agent of the Church, who delivered an interesting intimation as follows:—


"Mr. George Jacob Holyoake,—I do hereby demand payment of One pound four shillings and eightpence, due from you for Rates made in pursuance of the Act of Parliament passed in the 4th Year of the Reign of her late Majesty Queen Ann, Cap. 17, intituled, 'An Act for settling the Impropriate Tythes of the Parish of Saint Bridgett, alias Bride's, London.'  And take notice that unless the same be paid to me within Four Days next after the demand thereof hereby made, I shall Distrain your Goods and Chattels, and sell and dispose thereof, and out of the Monies arising thereby pay the said Sum of Money, and the Costs allowed by the Acts of Parliament in that case made and provided.
    "Dated this 22nd day of May, 1856.
                                        "JOHN WILLIAM THOMAS,
                                                 "Collector of the said Rates."


    The predatory Vicar of St. Bride's, for whose advantage the contemplated seizure was being made, remained in the background, praying for my soul while he picked my pocket, as I regarded his action.

    After two or three seizures of property, I sent to the vicar payment "in kind"—the form in which the payment of tithe was originally contributed.  The chief produce of my farm in Fleet Street consisted in volumes of the Reasoner.  I sent the vicar three volumes, which exceeded in value his demand.  He troubled me no more.

    The last citation relates to a trial in which Lord Chief Justice Coleridge was concerned, and Henry Thomas Buckle made a splendid defence of a poor well-sinker who was afraid of killing the world.


-III.-


    In a Cornish village in 1857 small patch advertisements broke out like small-pox, of which the following is a copy:—


"BLASPHEMY.


    "Any person who has seen a man writing Blasphemous sentences on Gates or other places in the neighbourhood of Liskeard, is requested to communicate immediately with Messrs. P
EDLAR and GRYLLS, Liskeard, or with the Rev. R. HOBHOUSE, St, Ive Rectory."


   
Whether the perturbed Rector of St. Ive found out anything, or whether ashamed, as he might well be, at being mixed up in so miserable a business, he retired from it, and the Rev. Paul Bush appeared in his place as a spiritual detective on the pounce, and a poor, eccentric well-sinker, one Thomas Pooley, was accused of writing in chalk incoherent words in a hand only intelligible to the all-construing eyes of the policeman of the Church, who caused to be issued the following ponderous summons in her Majesty's name:—


    "To Thomas Pooley, of the Borough of Liskeard in the County of Cornwall, Labourer.

    "Cornwall to wit:— Whereas Information and Complaint (a) hath this day been laid before the undersigned, one of Her Majesty's justices of the Peace in and (b) for the said County of Cornwall by The Reverend Paul Bush of the Parish of Duloe, in the said County, for that you the said Thomas Pooley on the twenty-second of May last at the Parish of Duloe, in the said County, did unlawfully and wilfully compose, write and publish a certain scandalous, impious, blasphemous and profane Libel of and concerning the Holy Scriptures and the Christian Religion, and for having blasphemously spoken against God and profanely scoffed at the Holy Scripture, and exposed it to contempt and ridicule, and also for having spoken against Christianity and the established religion.

"These are therefore to command you in Her Majesty's name, to be and appear on Wednesday the 1st day of July next at 11 o'clock in the Forenoon, at Treean Gate in the Parish of Lanewath in the said County, before such said Justices of the Peace for the County as may then be there, to answer to the said Information and Complaint, and to be further dealt with according to Law.

"Given under my hand and Seal this 27th day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty-seven, at Liskeard in the County aforesaid.

"JAMES GLENCROSS."


    Notes on the summons were:—"(a) If upon Oath insert 'On Oath.' (b) Erase the words in italic when summons is issued by justice acting out of jurisdiction in which he resides."

    There is more untruth and holy malevolence in this summons than Pooley was ever known to be guilty of in all his life.  Mr. Bush charges Mr. Pooley with "wilfully composing" the words complained of.  Everybody in the parish knew that he had not the mental coherence to "compose" anything.  He had neither spoken against God—for he was a believer in Him—nor was he a preacher either in pulpit or on street corner.  Nor did he "speak" about God, except when he was being stripped in gaol.  His "scoffing against the Holy Scriptures" merely meant that he was incensed against priests.  The charge that he had published a "scandalous, impious, blasphemous, and profane libel" was simply the reckless, false, professional language of the clergyman and lawyer who drew up the summons, which would be counted unscrupulous and venomous in other persons.  In this summons we have the same profanation of the Queen's name as we have already seen.  How can a monarch expect his office or character to be held in esteem who permits his or her name to be cited for the purposes of any bigot who has spite in his heart and falsehood on his lips?  People cease to respect a monarch who has no respect for himself.  There was more of the evil spirit of untruth in the charges in the summons than in all Mr. Pooley's vague and honest anger.  I went down to Duloe to see Mr. Bush, and found him residing in a spacious house, with a pleasant outlook of roads and fields before it, while poor Pooley lived in wells.  Why should one so well-placed as the Rev. Paul Bush conspire to procure twenty-one months' imprisonment for this friendless, half-demented parishioner?  Very likely Mr. Bush was by nature a kind-hearted clergyman in whom theology generated


                                                                 "Words,
" Which turned the milk of kindness into curds."


    At the trial Pooley, who was entirely undefended received a sentence of twenty-one months' imprisonment.  The son of the judge, Sir John Duke Coleridge, who prosecuted, said, "It was not the prosecution of opinion in any sense, but society was to be protected from outrage and indecency."  If so, six weeks' imprisonment was more than sufficient in a case in which there was no wantonness and only half-insane conviction in it.  Mr. Thomas Henry Buckle, the famous historian of Civilisation, wrote in Fraser an indignant and generous denunciation of the sentence, and those concerned in it.  It was the last great letter of a philosopher in defence of the mental liberty of a poor man, and no equal to it appeared in the century.  I published an account of Pooley's case, which Buckle saw.  Sir John Duke (who afterwards became Lord Chief Justice Coleridge) had behaved, as prosecuting counsel, better than I knew, as I admitted when I did know it.  Still, the sentence (twenty-one months' imprisonment) will always stand on record as atrocious, apart from the irresponsible condition of the offender.  The words said to be "spoken," and which were made a count in his indictment, were mere exclamations, provoked by the irritation of gaolers, which the prisoner had neither means nor intent of publishing.  A barrister in court was struck by the signs of insanity in Pooley, unnoticed by the preoccupied eyes of the judge and his son.

    Pooley, as we have said, was a well-sinker, a tall, strongly-built man of honest aspect and of good courage and fidelity, who had descended into a deep well and rescued his master from death.  Though not a philosopher, Pooley, like some who were, Was a wild sort of Pantheist.  He thought this world to be an organism, and believed it to be alive; and such was the tenderness and reverence of his devotion that nothing could persuade him to dig a well beyond a certain depth, lest he should wound the heart of the world.

    Some years later Lord Coleridge informed me that he did not press the case against Pooley, and that he had no idea he was of uncertain mind, nor did his father suspect it.  I thought it was impossible they could be unaware of it, as it was well known to all Liskeard.  In justice to Lord Coleridge's father, I ought to say, that when he subsequently became aware of Pooley's condition of mind, he at once consented to his liberation, and Pooley was taken home, after four months' imprisonment, in the carriage of the governor of the gaol, who had sympathy for him.  Sir William Molesworth and Sir Erskine Perry were, after Mr. Buckle, the chief instruments of his liberation.  The facts I have related of the Coleridges were not known to me when I first saw Mr. Buckle, who wrote upon the information I gave him.  Pooley was a resolute man, who had self-respect and would not wear the prison dress.  When it was put upon him he tore it to shreds, and he was left naked in the dark cell in which he was confined.  He would have been made quite mad had he not been released when he was.


-IV.-


    The last case in which I supply documentary evidence is that concerning the limelight placed on the Clock Tower at Westminster.  No member of Parliament had thought of it, nor should I, had I not needed it for my own convenience.  I was then secretary to Mr. (afterwards Sir) Joseph Cowen.  When he wished to take part in a division he would ask me to ascertain whether the House was sitting.  In those days there were two lamp-posts in Palace Yard with three lights each, which were kept in while the "House was sitting," but when the "House was up" two of the lights were extinguished.  There was no other sign, and I had often to ride from Redcliffe Square, Brompton, to Palace Yard before the signal-light could be seen.  The limelight had just been perfected, and it occurred to me that if an effective light was placed on the Clock Tower it would be conspicuous for miles around, and members of Parliament, dining in the suburbs, could learn by that sign when the House was sitting and its absence would indicate that the House was up.  I wrote to Lord John Manners, giving reasons of Parliamentary convenience for the institution of such a light.  Lord John was then First Commissioner of Works.  The following is a copy of the letter directed to be sent to me:—


                                 "O
FFICE OF WORKS, 12, WHITEHALL PLACE, S.W.
    "It is requested that any answer to this letter may be directed to The Private Secretary to the First Commissioner of H. M. Works.


"8—I—68.

" SIR,—I am desired by Lord John Manners to acknowledge with thanks the receipt of your letter, and suggestions.
                                           "Your faithful servant,
                                                                         "H. S
TUART WORTLEY.
“G. J. Holyoake, Esq."


    Nothing was done during Lord John Manners' reign as Commissioner of Works, but when Mr. A. S. Ayrton became Commissioner of the Board, he found the letter in the archives of the office, and had the light erected.


 
CHAPTER XII.

UNFORESEEN QUALITIES IN PUBLIC MEN

-I.-


WITHOUT noticing unexpected qualities now and then, and remembering them, many are needlessly discouraged in purposes of improvement.  The two Bramwells, the judge and his brother Frederick, were both men of great parts.  This narrative relates to the Judge, who could do mischief at will—and did it.  It was Baron Bramwell who protected the bribers of Berwick.  It is to judges of his political proclivities, to whom bribers look still for countenance.  Young men of to-day enjoy advantages unknown to their forefathers, and the new generation are mostly ignorant how their good fortune, which Liberalism brought them, came to them—and they make no inquiry.  Not only have they no pride in sustaining the political traditions of their family, but their base ambition is to give the influence of the position they have attained to that party who put every impediment in the way of their ever emerging from social and industrial obscurity—a condition from which they did not deserve to be rescued.

George William Wilshere, Baron Bramwell
(1808-1892)

    Political reformers used to complain of bribery at elections, by which a few wealthy political adventurers tempted the baser sort of citizens to sell the liberties of the nation to them.  Tories, by the law of their being, seek authority by which the majority of them intend the control of public affairs for their own advantage.  They supply money for corruption, intending to refund themselves by place and profit when the resources of the State come under their manipulation.  Even judges of their party accord them legal security in their political nefariousness.

    When the Liberals of Newcastle-on-Tyne claimed that Parliament should terminate electoral bribery, Lord John Russell said the law was already against it, and that the Newcastle applicants to the House of Commons should put bribery down at their own door, meaning in Berwick-on-Tweed, notorious for it.  Lord John had never tried to do this, or he would not have advised the attempt.  His counsel at the time seemed reasonable, and what came of it was shown in a petition from the Northern Reform Union, sent to Parliament (1859), which set forth as follows:—

    That the petitioners were members of a society named "The Northern Reform Union," which was instituted for the purpose of obtaining a further Reform of the Representation of the People of these Realms in Parliament, and for the purpose of vindicating that purity and freedom of election which is essential to a true representative system.  Amongst other steps with a view to these purposes, the said petitioners were induced to institute inquiries into certain corrupt practices, alleged to have taken place in the election of a member for the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed.

    The result of these inquiries was, that the petitioners were induced, as a matter of public duty, to prosecute certain electors of the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed for the offence of offering bribes at the election aforesaid.  The prosecution was instituted under the provision of the Act of 1854, known as "The Corrupt Practices Prevention Act," when one or more of the persons upon whom writs were served in accordance with the provisions of the Act, made affidavit that to the best of their belief, Mr. Richard Bagnall Reed, the secretary of the Northern Reform Union and the nominal prosecutor in these cases, was not of ability to pay the costs of suit in case of nonsuit, and applied through their counsel to Sir G. W. Bramwell, one of the Barons of Her Majesty's Court of Exchequer, to make order that security should be lodged for payment of the costs in these actions if proceeded with.  A report of the particulars of this application was published in a newspaper printed at Newcastle under the title of the Northern Daily Express, which report is verbatim, as follows:—


"L
ONDON, December 16, 1 859.


    "Actions have been commenced, at the suit of Mr. R. B. Reed, the secretary of the Northern Reform Union, against several persons suspected of bribery at the last Berwick election.  The actions are founded on the 5th Section of 'The Corrupt Practices Prevention Act, 1854,' which provides that 'any one who shall be guilty of using any undue influence at any Parliamentary election shall not only be guilty of a misdemeanour, but shall also be liable to forfeit the sum of fifty pounds to any person who shall sue for the same, together with full costs of suit.'

    "An application was made at chambers before the Hon. Mr. Baron Bramwell, on the part of the defendants in the above actions, for an order that the plaintiff should give security for costs.

    "Mr. Chitty appeared in support of the application.

    "Mr. Rutherford appeared on behalf of the secretary of the Northern Reform Union to oppose the granting of the order.

    "Mr. Chitty founded his application on an affidavit, which stated that Mr. Reed was not the real plaintiff in the action; he was only instigated by the Northern Reform Union, who were the real plaintiffs.  A copy of the Northern Daily Express was annexed as an exhibit to the affidavit, and a passage was read from it relating to the proceedings of the Northern Reform Union.  Mr. Chitty cited cases to prove that where a plaintiff in an action was for the benefit of third parties, he is bound to give security for costs; and he endeavoured to show that in the event of the action being decided in the defendant's favour, it would be in vain to look to the plaintiff for costs.

    "Mr. Baron Bramwell hereupon made the following extraordinary remark: 'This Northern Reform Union is a purity society.  It consists of patriots, and surely these gentlemen will only be too eager to give any security that may be desired, if it were merely to show their high-mindedness and integrity.'

    "Mr. Rutherford said that his Lordship, on looking into the case, would find that the application now made was a vexatious proceeding to throw obstacles in the way of the plaintiff.  Mr. Reed was the secretary of the Union, and the proper person to sue.  The Union must sue in the name of some one, and who so proper as their secretary?  The authorities that had been cited on the other side did not touch the case, because the plaintiff was suing for penalties, which, if recovered, would be for his own benefit.  It mattered not at whose instigation he was suing.  He was suing for a penalty, which the Act of Parliament gave him the right to sue for.

    "Mr. Baron Bramwell: 'What is the plaintiffs position? Is he a man of substance?'

    "Mr. Rutherford: 'He is, I am told, a gentleman of a respectable position.  But that is not the question; it appears clearly from the authorities that in penal actions the courts have refused to order security, even in cases where the common informer was a person of great poverty.  In one case Mr. Justice Bayley says, "Many qui tam actions have been brought by men who were worth nothing, but there is no instance of their being compelled to give security for costs.  It might happen that the penalties had been incurred, but their recovery would be defeated by requiring such a security." '

    "Mr. Baron Bramwell here observed: 'There is great force in that.  Men of property are not likely to trouble themselves about such things.  I think I cannot make the order.  Cannot some agreement be come to between the parties?  Mr. Chitty, will you name any other member of the Union to be substituted as plaintiff instead of Mr. Reed?  Some one must be plaintiff; and the same argument you have used against Mr. Reed would apply to any one else.'

    "A long discussion here ensued.

    "Mr. Rutherford said he could not, without the consent of his clients, agree to substitute another person as plaintiff.  The Act would become a dead letter if the judges allowed obstacles to be thrown in the way of carrying it out.  There was no ground at all for this application, and if his Lordship granted it, it was impossible to conceive under what circumstance a similar action would be refused.

    "Mr. Chitty insisted that his clients would not be able to recover their costs if the action were decided in their favour.  It was a very hard thing to be compelled to defend an action at the suit of invisible personages.  His Lordship had said that 'purity principles were all very fine.'

    "Mr. Baron Bramwell: 'No doubt they are.  It is very easy to go about professing integrity.  To commence actions against people for penalties when the plaintiff cannot pay the costs, is a cheap way of becoming a patriot—cheap and, I think, nasty.  I find that the Act gives me a discretion.  The affidavits made by the defendants have not been answered.  I shall make the order.'

    "The order was made accordingly.

    "The petitioners were informed and believed that the report quoted was substantially and literally correct.  It was reprinted and commented upon by various other journals, and no attempt to question its accuracy was made, either on the part of the learned judge or of any other person.

    "The petitioners were persuaded that the language asserted to have been used by the learned judge on this occasion cannot be deemed by, nor appear to Parliament either befitting the station of him who used it, or just towards the suitors in this prosecution, who were taking legal steps, under a sense of public duty, to put a stop to practices which tend to corrupt the source of all law.

    "The petitioners submitted that the order made on this occasion is contrary to all precedent, and inconsistent with the intention and enactments of the said Corrupt Practices Act, which by Section 13 expressly limits the obligation on the plaintiff to find security for costs to those cases only where he may seek to recover, by order of the judge, the costs of prosecution for offences against the Act.

    "The petitioners urged that they did not deserve to have their motives and characters thus questioned and sneered away, nor did they think that such language as that imputed to Baron Bramwell can tend to add to that respect for the law and those who administer it which the petitioners trusted may never be lost amongst Englishmen.

    "On the contrary, such language appeared to the petitioners calculated to cause the people to believe that a complicity with such practices exists amongst the administrators of the law; subversive at once of justice and of the representative portion of the Legislature.

    "The petitioners, therefore, prayed the honourable House of Commons to take such steps as might appear to it most fitting, to bring the matter under the notice of Her Majesty and her advisers in such a mode as may prevent a repetition of the same."


    This remarkable petition, which may be read in the records of the House, bore the signatures of the following persons:—

THOMAS DOUBLEDAY, JAMES EADIE,
JAMES WATSON, JAMES HAY,
JOS. COWEN, JUN., ROBERT SUTHERLAND,
THOMAS GREGSON, THOMAS ALLEN,
JOS. BARLOW, THOMAS SPOTSWOOD, JUN.,
JOHN EMERSON, ROBERT RAMSAY,
WILLIAM DOUGLAS, JAMES REED,


 and thirty-three others.

    The character of Baron Bramwell's remarks—the impediments he must well know he was putting in the way of any prosecution for bribery in Berwick; the words by which he sought to intimidate the prosecutors by holding them up to public ridicule—the language of the petition appropriately characterised.  Baron Bramwell could not be ignorant of the great expense which had been incurred in taking legal proceedings against the persons accused of bribery and in collecting evidence long after the time when the acts of bribery occurred. Such evidence is expensive to collect at the time, and much costlier at a later stage.  After obtaining witnesses it was necessary to protect them from being spirited away at the time of the trial—no uncommon occurrence in these cases.  Many hundreds of pounds must have been spent before the case reached the stage when Baron Bramwell was appealed to by the accused to put obstacles in the way of the charges against them being tried.  The penalties recoverable under the Act would not have covered a tenth part of these costs.  Those who appealed to Baron Bramwell for protection knew perfectly well, as all Durham and Northumberland knew, that any costs they might be able to claim against Mr. Reed would be met.  Baron Bramwell, by the remarks he uttered and the order he made, aided and abetted the bribery, and protected those who committed it.  The Baron's observation that "men of property would not be likely to trouble themselves" to put the Act in force against electoral corruption, was true and significant.  The "men of property" were they who profited by it; and if any man of property had justice and patriotic spirit sufficient to prosecute bribers, he was certain to incur annoyance and loss, and subject himself to offensive comments such as Baron Bramwell made.  It was the duty of a judge, to whom the Act gave discretion, to use it in favour of public purity, and not to favour public corruption.  Though no other judge behaved so flagrantly ill as Baron Bramwell, there were few who could be trusted to render justice to Reformers.  The Tory judge, Baron Bramwell, sneered away all chance of a just verdict, and Mr. Joseph Cowen's noble effort to vindicate electoral purity cost him £2,000 and whatever obloquy and derision the venomous tongue of the judge could heap upon him.

    Let men beware of principles which render corruption congenial—and let them honour the memory of those who made heroic sacrifices for electoral integrity.

    It is happily exceptional when political partisanship perverts the sense of justice in a judge.  Sometimes the sense of truth, characteristic of Liberalism (for it is not worth while being a Liberal unless it implies the ascendency of truth) is perverted by political exigency or obscured by excitement.  An instance of this occurred where it was little expected.


-II.-


    Mr. J. Humffreys Parry drew up the legal part of my defence at Gloucester in 1842.  He was then a young law student, living in lodgings at (what was then) No. 5, Gray's Inn Road, near Theobalds' Road.  His grandfather was editor of the Cambro-Briton, and one of the founders, in 1820, of the Cymmrodorion Society.  But we knew nothing of this.  We only knew young Humffreys as a stalwart, energetic platform speaker.  Radical, bold, and impetuous, but so manifestly sincere, that it atoned for his somewhat gaseous style of speaking.  Like O'Connell, he acquired eventually two styles.  Parry's legal style became Demosthenic in its terseness.  For the research and care he took to prepare my legal defences, he ought, even at that stage of his career, to have received twenty guineas, but for it he received nothing, nor asked for anything.  When he became Mr. Serjeant Parry he abandoned his platform style altogether, for one of uncoloured vigour, which gave him ascendency at the Bar.  Had he lived a few years longer than he did he would have become one of our judges.  His son—known as judge Parry—was shot by a suitor, while presiding at a Manchester court, but not shot fatally.  He is still known with distinction as a judge, as an author, and dramatic critic.  Thus three generations of Parrys have been notable.

    Years ago propagandists of new opinion were often assisted by Mr. Robert Mackay, author of a powerful work on the "Progress of the Intellect."  A silent, unobtrusive man, Mr. Mackay would be seen at times at meetings or lectures, but never taking any public part.  He seemed to shrink back when addressed, and was as reserved as an affrighted man.  In his quiet way, of his own initiative, he took much trouble to promote the opening of the National Gallery on Sundays, and went personally to men of note in law, science, and art, to solicit their signatures to a memorial in favour of opening public treasures on Sundays for the refinement of the poor, that being the only day, when they had a leisure hour to see them.  Among others, Mr. Mackay called on Mr. Serjeant Parry, who signed the memorial.  Later the Serjeant was a Parliamentary candidate for Finsbury.  Some super-fervid free Sunday advocate went to electoral meetings, asking Mr. Parry whether he would vote for the opening of the National Gallery.  There are always "fool-friends" of progress, who are ever ready to ruin it by their Pauline zeal of doing things in season and out of season.  It was well known to all concerned that he would vote for an "Open Door" of art.  But if the constituency knew it, it would cost him the votes of most of the Puritan portion of the electors.  Forgetful, at the moment, of the incident that he had signed the memorial, the candidate denied that he had.  One morning when due in court, he had hurriedly signed his name to some documents brought before him, among them the memorial sent in by Mr. Mackay.  Whereupon this modest, retiring, shrinking, impalpable gentleman went into turbulent meetings, vindictively parading the actual memorial to confront the candidate.  This proceeding cost Mr. Parry his election.  It was a warning to public men against signing a liberal document which might be needlessly obtruded against them at a critical conjuncture.  Thus the Sunday League lost a Parliamentary defender, who, from persuasion of the righteousness and rightfulness of its objects, would have stood by it.  The word of Mr. Mackay would have been quite sufficient to vindicate the honour of the League, had he waited till the election was over.  But the unexpected thing was to see Mr. Mackay—who had never spoken at a meeting before— appearing at crowded and tumultuous assemblies, where a strong and resolute man might have hesitated to present himself.

    The answer of Mr. Serjeant Parry in question was given without premeditation; it was evident to the audience that it was made under the inspiration of an after-dinner speech, when robust barristers, in those days, were liable to airiness or eccentricity of statement.  Being pursued vindictively, he became too indignant to give the obvious explanation of the inadvertency of his denial of his signature.


-III.-

Anthony Ashley Cooper, Lord Shaftesbury
(1801–1885)

    There are saints of the Church and saints of humanity; Lord Shaftesbury was a saint of both churches.  There are two kinds of Conservatives, as I have elsewhere said. [23]  One class seek power for personal aggrandisement; another, and better class, covet it as a means of doing good.  Lord Shaftesbury belonged to this class.  Through not making this distinction, the whole Conservative body are made answerable for the actions of a part.  Discrimination is as just in politics as in morals.  Lord Shaftesbury was a nobleman of two natures.  In politics he would withhold power from workmen.  In humanity he would withhold nothing from them which could do them good.  In theology he knew no measure.  Of Professor Seeley's book, "Ecce Homo," he said it was "vomited from the mouth of hell."  Surely something ought to be pardoned to a writer who made Satan sick.  At an earlier day such language had handed the luckless Professor over to Torquemada.  Yet Lord Shaftesbury was so courteous, tender, and friendly to Nonconformists, that he laid more foundation stones of Dissenting chapels than any other peer or patron.  Should England one day be counted among extinct civilisations, and some explorers arrive to excavate its ruins, they will come upon so many stones deposited by Lord Shaftesbury and bearing his name, that report will be made of the discovery of the king of the last dynasty.  Whatever contradictions biographers may have to record of the character of Lord Shaftesbury, everything will be forgiven him in consideration of his noble exertions on behalf of factory children.  He sought to improve the condition of women in mines and collieries.  Public health, emigration, ragged-schools, penny banks, drinking-fountains, and model lodging-houses were subjects of his generous solicitude.  Lord Shaftesbury was one of the earliest of slum visitors.  He was essentially and exclusively a social reformer.  He took no part in political amelioration.  He believed that working people only clamoured for political enfranchisement because they were ill-used and uncomfortable.  He saw no further.  Their desire for independence never occurred to him.  His sympathy with co-operators was on moral grounds.  It was quite unforeseen by any, and had little acceptance in his day, that he should advise, that the agencies for planting Christianity among heathen nations should include the secular missionary, who must precede the Christian teacher to prepare the soil of the soul by social amelioration before the seeds of Christianity could take root.  Like Faraday, Lord Shaftesbury had a dual mind.  Faraday reasoned like a Sandemanian on questions of faith and like a philosopher on questions of science.  In like manner Lord Shaftesbury was a sectarian in piety and a latitudinarian in humanity.


 
CHAPTER XIII.

THE COBDEN SCHOOL


THERE never was a "Manchester School," though a volume has been published upon it.  It never had professor nor special tenets.  Manchester stands for Free Trade and nothing more.  Its three great leaders—Thomas Thomasson, Richard Cobden, and John Bright—were also for Peace, Retrenchment, and Reform, for the extension of the suffrage, and the repeal of the taxes upon knowledge, because they were essential to the popularity and maintenance of Free Trade.  But Manchester took no special interest, save in Free Trade, which was a local manufacturing necessity, as well as a national one.

Richard Cobden
(1804-65)

Mr. John Morley uses the term "Manchester School," as embodying the personal convictions of the great Free Trade leaders.  Manchester did a great thing in adopting, adhering to, and enforcing Free Trade.  That itself is a noble distinction.  The advocacy of Thomasson, Cobden, and Bright included principles loftier and wider than Manchester.  The "Manchester School" is but a term of courtesy used for convenience of reference, far less definite than the "School of Bentham."  The "School of Cobden" is intelligible, as covering a larger area of thought than Manchester.  As to Cobden, no one can presume to give any new estimate of him, after John Morley has written his Life.  Therefore I confine myself to such personal incidents as came under my own observation.

Once, when I had the pleasure to be a guest of Mr. Joseph Chamberlain at Highbury, Mr. John Morley was present.  Conversation in the library turning upon Cobden, I remarked that he had introduced more immorality into politics than any other public man in my time.  "How?" asked Mr. Morley, with a quick, questioning look.  I answered, "By advising electors to vote for any candidate, irrespective of his politics, who would vote for the repeal of the Corn Laws."  This was in effect saying, "Vote for the devil, provided the devil will vote for you," who, even if he keeps faith with you, is a dangerous ally to put in power.  In a speech to the council of the Anti-Corn Law League in Manchester in September, 1842, Mr. Cobden said: "We are no political body.  We have refused to be bought by the Tories; [24] we have kept aloof from the Whigs, and we will not join partnership with either Radicals or Chartists; [25] but we hold out our hand, ready to give it to all who are ready to advocate the total repeal of the Corn and Provision Laws."

John Bright
(1811-89)

    This doctrine, sanctioned by Cobden's illustrious name, has demoralised politics and placed every Prime Minister at the mercy of every conscientious party strong enough to defeat him by an unscrupulous conspiracy in Caves, or at the poll.  The Independent Labour Party founded their Ishmaelitish policy (of more than aloofness) upon this contagious Manchester speech—leaving out the friendly condition of "readiness to give their hands" to any who advocate the interests of Labour, which is their professed reason of being.  Women who seek the political emancipation of their sex adopt the policy of voting for Tories, and Mr. Woodall, in their name, risked the wrecking of a Liberal Government if it did not accede to their claim.   Mr. Cobden, in inviting electors to vote for Conservatives who were against the Corn Laws, would have established Tory ascendancy in the land.   Considering that the stricken condition of the people was through their food being taxed, Toryism might be a lesser evil than the denial of Free Trade.  Cobden might reasonably be of opinion that no party can do so much harm as starvation, and therefore felt justified in possibly destroying the Liberal party to save the people.  But he should have qualified his policy by restricting it to extreme cases, where the arrest of a progressive Government is a lesser peril than refusing a particular and paramount claim.  Without such qualification Cobden's precedent proclaimed a policy of selfishness which fights for its own hand against the general interest of the State.  This is the charge which Liberals bring against the aristocracy.  It is the policy of Self which makes the multiplication of parties a public danger.  Such unqualified advocacy of reforms carries with it an element of national hostility.  Justifying himself by the example of Cobden, we have seen the publican going for the bung, and the teetotaler for the teapot.  The anti-vaccinator will risk poisoning the nation by Toryism in order to arrest the lancet; as certain workmen will destroy Liberalism in the interest of Labour.  Thus, generally speaking, every party is for its own hand and none for the State.

     The great French Revolution, which promised the emancipation of Europe, was destroyed by the determination of each party to obtain the ascendancy of its own theories, at the peril of the Republic.

    The Society for Repealing the Taxes upon Knowledge met in many places.  When Francis Place was chairman we met in Essex Street.  At one time we met in the rooms of the secretary, Mr. C. D. Collet, in Great Coram Street, within a door or two of the house where a girl was killed, for which a Dutch clergyman was arrested, and falsely and ignominiously imprisoned for a time.  Bright and Cobden attended committee meetings in Great Coram Street.

    One day when Cobden came, he walked to the House of Commons after the meeting, through falling snow, in the quiet, meditative way peculiar to him.  As I had some duties in the House of Commons in those days, I followed him, curious to see what streets he would go through, wondering as I went along, at the disinterested and unnoted services so great a man, of European fame, rendered to the interests of the working people.  Mistaken Chartists were denouncing Cobden, Bright, and Milner-Gibson as Whigs—as mere middle-class advocates—these libelled leaders were generously and disinterestedly labouring to confer upon the working class the enfranchisement of the Press—although they knew full well it would put larger means of assailing them into the hands of their defamers.  Why should Mr. Cobden walk through the snow to put new power in their hands—save from nobleness of nature, which helped others, irrespective of any advantage to himself—irrespective even of their goodwill?  He not only personally attended committees, as Bright and Gibson also did, but often sent us letters explaining principle or policy which implied constant thought upon the movement as well as labour for it.

    The "pale-faced manufacturer" was a champion of the industrial classes, which he foresaw would come into the field, which were thought then good enough for paying taxes, but who were to be kept out of the pale of the governing classes.

    Thus I conceived and retained a personal affection for Cobden, notwithstanding his aversion for some views he supposed me to hold.

    When it was advised that I should appear at the London Tavern to oppose Mr. Peter Borthwick's design of setting up a separate society for the repeal of the paper duty, which would divide the forces for the repeal of the whole of the taxes upon knowledge, Bright hesitated as to the propriety of sending me on that mission.  "What I am thinking of," said Bright, "is whether we shall not be taken as seeking the repeal of the Thirty-nine Articles instead of the taxes on knowledge."  Cobden was more fearless in things intellectual.  I was deputed to speak at the Borthwick meeting.

    Though Cobden's mind was engrossed in public affairs, public affairs were never master of him.  He always possessed himself.

    Sir Alexander Burne's despatches were long withheld, and when produced, at Mr. Bright's instigation, they were found to be so mutilated that they were spoken of as the "forged" despatches.  It was of that transaction that Cobden said, "Palmerston was so impartial, that he had no bias, not even towards the truth," showing that he could speak epigrams that cut into reputation.

    One night Mr. Cobden brought to me in the Bill Room of the House of Commons a blind young man, whom he said he wished to introduce to me.  It was Mr. Henry Fawcett, of whom he said great things might be expected in the future.  Mr. Cobden had procured for Mr. Fawcett an order for the Speaker's Gallery.  He was waiting for admission, as the doorkeeper told him there was no room.  Amid all the chatter and bustle of the Lobby, Mr. Fawcett's ears were up that staircase, and he said, "I hear footsteps coming down," which meant there was a vacant seat, and Mr. Fawcett was admitted.  No one else had heard the descending feet.  It was that night that Mr. Cobden told me, in answer to a question put to him, that he "believed, had it not been for the occurrence of the Irish famine, all the vast educative efforts of the Anti-Corn Law League would not have effected the repeal of the Corn Laws at that time."  Nevertheless, the great propagandist activity of the League was the main element of success.  The Anti-Corn Law agitation of the League was a triumph of argument aided by calamity.  Subsequently Mr. Fawcett became a professor, and an authority on political economy.  At Social Science meetings, wherever or whenever I asked him to aid the Co-operative question of Co-partnership—by defining it in debate, as public ideas were confused about it—he would always find or make occasion to do so.

    In order that Co-operation should be represented at his funeral, I travelled across country through the early morning fog, from Leicester to Trumpington, where he was buried.  I found in the churchyard my early friend, Sir Michael Foster, who had like regard for the dead Postmaster-General.  I was the only person known to be connected with the Co-operative movement who was present at his grave that day.

    How well Cobden could take care of himself appeared in a matter in which my friend, Thornton Hunt, to my great regret, was in the wrong.  The Times had published defamatory imputations on Mr. Cobden, who took the editor, Mr. Delane, by the throat and held him with a grasp of such vigour that when he died the marks of Cobden's fingers were upon the neck of his reputation.  The Daily Telegraph, of which Mr. Thornton Hunt was consulting editor, published comments in defence of the Times on Cobden's letter to Delane, but refused to insert Cobden's letter of self defence.  Mr. Hunt, who had real regard for Cobden, wrote to assure him of it, and gave as the reason for declining to insert his letter, his fear lest it should damage his reputation.  It was the same as saying to Cobden, "Our readers have a great regard for you, but if you should prove you are not a knave, you will sink in their estimation."  The ineffable meanness and audacity of this inspired Mr. Cobden with a contemptuous indignation, and he told Mr. Hunt there was only one favour he could do him, and that was not to take his reputation under his repellent patronage.

    Apart from instances such as the perfidy to Cobden, Mr. Delane was a great editor, determining the fluctuating policy of the Times (the policy of the ascendancy of prevailing opinion, right or wrong), selecting leading articles and defining the lines to be taken by the writers.  Robert Lowe (afterwards Lord Sherbrooke) received directions which might themselves be printed as leaders in brief.  As it was Mr. Lowe's custom to throw Mr. Delane's letters into his paper basket, they came into the hands of his butterman, who, having practical curiosity, took them to Mr. James Beal, who, upon the advice of Mr. Bright, sent them back to Mr. Lowe.  All who saw the letters were surprised at the fidelity of the articles as they appeared in the Times to Mr. Delane's preconceived comprehensive, explicit, and well-defined tenor.

    It was a favourite story told against Cobden by his adversaries, that when he visited the Central Illinois Railway, the company gave free tickets to residents near each station, that the seeming crowd of travellers might impose on Cobden to report well on its prospects.

    It is what sharp business Americans might be supposed to do.  But it did not impose on the popular traveller, whom many naturally strove to see.  The chief of the company was candid to him.  Mr. Morley has made clear that what did influence Cobden was the prospect of advancing the welfare of emigrants abroad.

    At the Great Exhibition of 1851 a belief arose that international commerce would increase.  A friend of mine, Mr. Allsop, like Cobden, lost a large fortune by premature enthusiasm.  Mr. Cobden's was a like error, but a generous one.

    On the night of Cobden's last speech in Rochdale, I was one of the audience in the great Mill Room in which he spoke.  He sent to me a note from the platform.  It was the last I received from him.  I was that night more conscious than ever before of his wonderful self-possession in speaking.  He held up as it were, in the air, a chief sentence as he spoke it, and supplied, before he left it, the qualification he saw it needed, or the amplification he saw it required, so that malignity could not pervert it, nor ignorance misunderstand it.  After making the longest speech of his life to the largest audience he had ever met in one room, he was taken to the house of a friend, where he was kept standing on the cold marble hearth in a fireless room, while his friends greeted him until late that November night.  To a man of Cobden's temperament standing is painful after mental exhaustion.  A cold followed the fireless reception.  I knew in Birmingham a speaker of great promise, Mr. J. H. Chamberlain (unrelated to Mr. Joseph Chamberlain) who was surrounded by his friends after a long and brilliant lecture, and when at last he sat down, he died.

    I was in Lavington Churchyard when Cobden was buried.  On our walk from the station there, Mr. Gladstone, who was before me, turned round to shake hands with a friend.  I saw at once that he was a Lancashire man, which had never struck me before.  He shook hands from the shoulder; which I had observed Lancashire men did.  In the churchyard I lingered behind, and stood within a clump of trees overlooking the grave.  When Mr. Bright, who had left the other mourners, came there himself, I moved noiselessly away.  He remained alone, looking down on the last resting-place of his star-bright colleague in counsel and in fight.

    Cobden excelled among politicians of the people in enthusiasm of the intellect.  He regarded strong, lucid argument as the omnipotent force of progress.  When one morning the news came, "Cobden is dead," it was felt in every workshop in the land that a great power for peace and industry was lost to the nation.  His disciples have grown with succeeding years, and if he be regarded as the founder of a school, no nobler one exists among politicians.  He laid the foundations of Free Trade, not only for Manchester, but for the world.  As Mr. Morley tells us in his great "Life," Mr. Gladstone "ranked the introduction of cheap postage for letters, documents, patterns, and printed matter, and the abolition of all taxes on printed matter as in the catalogue of Free Trade legislation."  "These great measures," says Mr. Morley, "may well take their place beside the abolition of prohibitions and protective duties, the simplifying of revenue laws, and the repeal of the Navigation Act."  These were all Cobden's ideals.  Most of them he called into being, and he was the principal enchanter who gave them a local habitation and a name.

    As with the "Manchester School," so with the term "Manchester men," it is used with a geographical indefiniteness; as when we speak of any one belonging to a shire instead of a town.  Hence Cobden, who was a Midhurst man, and Bright, who was a Rochdale man, are taken as typical "Manchester men."  As few readers have any definite idea of what a "Manchester man" of the nobler sort individually is, I give a brief biography of one of the most influential of them, who might be regarded as the founder of the Cobden School.

    Thomas Thomasson [1808—1876], manufacturer and political economist, born at Turton, near Bolton, December 6, 1808, came of a Quaker family settled in Westmoreland (1672).  His grandfather came from Edgeworth, near Bolton, about the middle of the seventeenth century, where he owned a small landed estate, and built a house known as "Thomasson's Fold."  He gave the site for the Friends' Meeting House and burial ground at Edgeworth.  Mr. Thomasson's father, John, was born in 1776.  He was manager of the Old Mill, Eagley Bridge, Bolton, having also a share in the business, and subsequently became a cotton spinner on his own account.  His son, Thomas Thomasson, the subject of this notice, erected No. 1 Mill in Bolton in 1841, at a time of great depression in trade, and great distress in the town—a fact which was mentioned by the Prime Minister (Sir R. Peel) in the House of Commons as evidence that persons did not hesitate to employ their capital in the further extension of the cotton trade, notwithstanding its condition.  Thomas Thomasson married a daughter of John Pennington, of Hindley, a Liverpool merchant.  Though brought up a member of the Society of Friends, Thomasson attended the Bolton Parish Church, his wife being a Church woman.  But in 1855 he heard the clergyman preach on the propriety of the Crimean War, which he thought so un-Christian that he never went to church again.  By his vigorous speeches he gave the impression that he knew more of the political economy of trade and commerce than any other manufacturer of his time.  Mr. Bright and Mr. Cobden may be said to have learned from him.  When Mr. Bright went out to deliver his first speech at a public meeting, he went to Mr. Thomasson on his way to take his opinion upon what he had in his mind to say.  At Thomasson's decease Mr. Bright bore testimony to his remarkable capacity as a man of business, saying, "He will be greatly missed by many who have been accustomed to apply to him for advice and help."  He was not merely an eminent manufacturer, he was distinguished for his interest in public affairs.  He assisted by money, counsel, and personal exertions in securing the incorporation of Bolton.  He consented to join the first Council and was at the head of the poll, considering it his duty to take part in promoting the improvements he had advocated.  He remained a member of the Council over eighteen years.  Under the old government it was usual to call out armed police, or the military, for comparatively trifling disturbances, which greatly excited Thomasson's indignation.  He was a vigorous advocate for the town being supplied with cheap gas and cheap water, which involved watchfulness and advocacy extending over several years.  He was foremost in insisting on the sanitary improvements of the town, and that the inspector should proceed against those who suffered nuisances on their premises.  He gave the instance of "a family living in cellar, outside of which there was a cesspool, the contents of which oozed through the walls and collected under the bed."  £300 being left towards the formation of an industrial school, Thomasson gave £200 more that it might be put into operation.  On one occasion, when he was much opposed to the views of the Council, he resigned rather than frustrate a compromise in which he could not concur, but which others thought beneficial.  He promoted petitions in favour of Decimal Coinage, and refused to join in a petition against the Income Tax, deeming direct taxation the best.  For some time he was a member of the Board of Guardians, but resigned because he "could not sit and see men slaughtered by a stroke of the pen," alluding to what he considered the illiberal manner in which relief was dispensed.  He promoted the establishment of a library and museum, and gave £100 towards establishing a school on the plan of the British and Foreign Bible Society.  When new premises were required for a Mechanics' Institution, he gave £500 towards that project.  He subscribed fifty guineas towards a memorial statue of Crompton, the inventor, and proposed that something should be given to his descendants, saying: "If Crompton had been a great general and had killed thousands of people, the Government would have provided him with a small county, and given him a peerage; but as he had given livelihood to thousands of mule spinners, it was left to the people to provide for his distressed descendants."  The town would have given Thomasson any office in its power, but he would neither be Alderman, Mayor, nor Member of Parliament.  He declined testimonials or statue.  He sought no distinction for himself and accepted none; he cared alone for the welfare of the nation and the town, and the working people in it.

    At a time when the votes of workpeople were generally regarded as the property of employers, Thomasson said: "If the men in his employ were Tories and voted so "—which meant voting for the Corn Laws, to which he was most opposed—" they would remain perfectly undisturbed by him—their public opinion and conduct were free."  He was distinguished beyond any Quaker of his day for political sympathy and tolerance.  His principle was "to extend to every man, rich or poor, whatever privilege, political or mental, he claimed for himself."

    At a memorable occasion in the Bolton Theatre, when the Corn Law question was contested, he may be said to have called Mr. Paulton into public life, by sending him on to the platform to defend the cause of repeal.  Mr. Paulton became the first effective platform advocate of that movement.  Thomasson was the chief promoter of the Anti-Corn Law agitation, and the greatest subscriber to its funds.  When the great subscription was raised in 1845, he was the first to put down £1,000.  When it was proposed to make some national gift to Mr. Cobden, Thomasson gave £5,000.  He subsequently gave £5,000 to the second Cobden subscription.  This is not all that he did.  Mr. John Morley relates, in his "Life of Cobden," that Thomasson, learning that Cobden was embarrassed by outstanding loans, raised to pay for his Illinois shares, amounting to several thousand pounds, Thomasson released the shares, and sent them to Cobden, with a request that "he would do him the favour to accept that freedom at his hands in acknowledgment of his vast services to his country and mankind."  On a later occasion, when aid was needed, Mr. Thomasson went down to Midhurst and insisted that Cobden should accept a still larger sum, refusing a formal acknowledgment and handing it over in such a form that the transaction was not known to any one but Cobden and himself.  After Mr. Thomasson's death there was found among his private papers a little memorandum of these advances containing the magnanimous words: "I lament that the greatest benefactor of mankind since the invention of printing was placed in a position where his public usefulness was compromised and impeded by sordid personal cares, but I have done something as my share of what is due to him from his countrymen to set him free for further efforts in the cause of human progress."

    In the repeal of the Corn Laws he always had in mind the welfare of his own townsmen, who, he said, "were paying in 1841 £150,000 more for food than they did in 1835," and every town in the country in a similar proportion.  He constantly sought opportunities of generosity which could never be requited, nor even acknowledged, as he left no clue to the giver.  When in London, he would, two or three years in succession, call in Fleet Street at my publishing house—then aiding in the repeal of the taxes on knowledge and defending the freedom of reasoned opinion—and leave £10, bearing the simple inscription, "From T.T."  Several years elapsed before it was known whose name the initials represented.  All this was so unlike the popular conception of a political economist, that such incidents deserve to be recorded.  Workmen whose views he did not share would invite lecturers to the town, whom he would sometimes entertain, and judging that their remuneration would be scant, he would add £5 on their departure to cover their expenses.  Thinking that Huxley might need rest which his means might not allow, Thomasson offered to defray the cost of six months' travel abroad with his family.  It was not convenient to the Professor to act upon the offer.  At Thomasson's death a note was found among his papers, saying, "Send Huxley £1,000," which his son, afterwards member for Bolton, did in his father's name.

    Thomasson was not one of those who strongly wish improvement, but feebly will it.  He willed what he wished, and gave his voice and fortune to advance it.  He was not a foolish philanthropist, with emotion without wisdom; his aid was never aimless, but given discerningly to reward or aid others who rendered public service.  His merit was like circumstantial evidence—if special acts did not exceed those of some other men, the accumulated instances made a record which few have excelled.

    That was the character of a real "Manchester man"—on whom Charles Kingsley poured out the vitriolic vials of his holy wrath.  Yet Kingsley had noble qualities—far above those with which the country clergyman is usually credited.  It requires discrimination to speak of men of the "Manchester School" as persons—


"Who have only to close their eyes,
 Be selfish, cold, and wise,
 And they never need to know
 How the workers' children grow,
 And live out only half their time."


Thomasson did know this—wished to know this—took trouble to know it—and gave both thought and fortune to make their lot better.  Thomas Bayley Potter was of that class, which includes Manchester careers worth remembering.


 
CHAPTER XIV.

HARRIET MARTINEAU, THE DEAF GIRL OF NORWICH


THERE is a romance in the title of this chapter, should some one arise to write it.  It was Lord Brougham who first spoke of Harriet Martineau as the "deaf girl of Norwich," which does more than any other words written about her to suggest a great disadvantage under which she accomplished more than any other woman ever attempted.  The phrase quoted occurs in one of those letters which show that kindly feeling and genuine interest in progress was natural to Lord Brougham, though obscured by the turbulence of his later life.  He first brought Miss Martineau into notice.  He wrote: "There is at Norwich a deaf girl, who is doing more good than any man in the country.  Last year she (Harriet Martineau) called upon me several times, and I was struck with such marks of energy and resolution in her, which I thought must command success in some line or other of life."

Harriet Martineau
(1802-76)

    If the reader can realise what deafness means, he will know how great was her disablement.  Asking questions is the surest way of acquiring knowledge, or verifying it.  Harriet Martineau was discouraged in asking questions, because she could not hear the answers, unless given through a speaking-tube, which imposed efforts on her friends she was loath to subject them to.  She could hear no great singer, actor, or orator.  "These noble sources of pleasure and ideas were denied to her.  She could take no part in public meetings or conferences, save those of which the business was foreknown to her.  Then she was dependent upon some friend who indicated to her the time when she might intervene.  Not hearing conversation, she could only learn indirectly what had gone before.  Nor was it always possible to hear accurately, or interpret what was told to her.  How, under these disadvantages, she acquired her large knowledge, her wonderful judgment of character, her unrivalled mastery of political questions of the day—which made her the greatest political woman in English history—proves the possibility of seemingly impossible things.  She wrote some twenty small volumes of "Tales of Political Economy," which were as eagerly looked forward to as the small volumes in which Sterne's "Tristram Shandy" appeared, or Dickens's "Pickwick Papers."  James Mill and Charles Buller told her it was impossible to make the "Dismal Science" entertaining, but she did it, and she was the first who did it.  She translated Comte's "Positive Philosophy" so well that Comte had it retranslated from English into French, as being better than his own work.

    In 1852—3 Harriet Martineau invited me to visit her at Ambleside, saying, "I should like a good long conversation with you on the Abolitionists and American slavery, and also on the intolerable iniquities of the Leader."  What they were I do not recall—probably Copperheadism [26] in one of the editors, which she could sharply detect.

    On Sunday, the day after my arrival, she drove me to Wordsworth's house and other places of interest.  At my request she extended the drive to Coniston Water, some miles away, and on to Brantwood, the place Mr. Ruskin afterwards bought of Mr. Joseph Cowen, who held a mortgage of £7,000 upon it.  Brantwood was then the residence of W. J. Linton, and Col. Stolzman and his wife were inmates.  The Colonel was an old Polish officer, who, when a young man, was present at Fontainebleau, when Napoleon took leave of his Old Guard.  Miss Martineau's quick eye took in at a glance the surroundings of the dwelling, and she explained to Mrs. Linton, who looked delicate, what should be done to render the house healthier, as the rains falling on the hill behind made the undrained foundation damp.  Miss Martineau had an instinct of domesticity.

    I never knew a more womanly woman.  Her life was an answer to those who think that active interest in public affairs is incompatible with household affection.  After my return home she wrote: "I enjoyed your visit very much; and I hope you will come as often as you conveniently can.  It will be a great benefit, as well as pleasure to me.  My good girls, Caroline and Elizabeth, send you respectful thanks for your remembrance of them.  I, too, am obliged by your thoughtfulness of them.  But let this be once for all.  You will come again, I hope; and my girls will enjoy being hospitable, in their own way, to one whom I had led them to respect as they do you"—mentionable as showing the tact, judgment, independence, and friendliness of the hostess to visitors and those of her household.

    She aided the diffusion of opinions she thought ought to have a hearing without altogether coinciding with them.  She sent £10 towards the establishment of the Fleet Street House.  She took in the Reasoner, sending a double subscription.  Many editors will appreciate so excellent an example.  Her interest in the Reasoner was less in the subjects discussed, than in its endeavour to maintain in controversy that fairness to adversaries, which we should have wished (but did not even expect) to be shown towards ourselves.

    Of the £500 given by Mr. Loombs in aid of her translation of Comte's great work, she arranged to reserve £150 for Comte, whose rights, as author, she considered ought to be respected.  Many unrequited authors would be glad if all translators held the same opinion.

    In 1854—5 she was told by her physicians that she had heart disease, which might end her life any day.  I mentioned to Professor Francis William Newman the jeopardy she was said to be in.  At times restoratives had to be administered before she could be brought down to dinner.  Mr. Newman desired me to tell her that he had had, some years previously, heart trouble.  All at once a shock came as though a pistol had been discharged in his brain, and he expected fatal results.  Yet he recovered his usual health and lived to a great age.  Harriet Martineau lived twenty-two years after her friends were instructed to expect her death daily.  Fearless and indifferent when the end might come, she was saved from the apprehensiveness by which the timid invite what they dread.

    It was during this—the period when her physicians apprehended her early death—that I one day (February 5, 1855) received the following note at 147, Fleet Street:—


    "Miss H. Martineau presents her compliments to Mr. Holyoake, and is happy to find that she may hope to see him this week, and to thank him for his kindness in sending her some interesting papers by post.

    "Miss H. Martineau will be happy to see Mr. Holyoake at tea on Wednesday evening next, if he can favour her with his company at seven o'clock.

    "55, Devonshire Street, Portland Place."


    In accordance with this note I took tea with her.  She conversed in her accustomed unperturbed way, and said, "I sent for you that you may bear witness that I die on your side.  An attempt will be made to represent that my opinions have vacillated.  Whereas I have gone right on, as, I believe, from truth to truth.  My views may not, however, have been those of progress."

    I remarked that I had bought her earlier works to satisfy myself of the successiveness of her convictions, as expressed in her writings, and thought she rightly described them as being intrinsically progressive.

    "Yes," she added, "my views from time to time were at successive stages, as they are now, clear and decided.  Certainly I was never happier in my life than at the present time.  Christians, if they think it worth while to attempt it, will not be able to make a 'Death Bed' out of me.  I wish you to know my opinions at this time.  We have to vindicate the truth as well as to teach it." [27]

    For myself, I was neither priest nor confessor.  Had I been, I should have felt it presumption to attempt to confirm one better able to teach me than I was to teach her.  All I said was: "It is certainly a moral relief not to hold the cardinal Christian tenets of faith, as so many preachers speaking, as they assume to do, in the name of God, explain them.  To act according to conscience and speak according to knowledge, never ceasing to consider what we can do for the service of others, is the one duty which a future life, if it comes, will not contradict."

    Though no one was so well able as herself to write her biography, it was not in her mind to do it, and she wrote to me to give her the names of persons I thought might undertake it.  I named three: Charles Knight, who knew more of her life than any one else, eligible to write it; next Francis William Newman, who, being a many-sided thinker, and largely coinciding with her views, could justly estimate her earlier and later convictions.  The third was Mr. H. G. Atkinson, who was entirely conversant with her convictions and career, but who declined with expressions of diffidence, though I urged him to undertake the work.  At length she did it herself, in a way which showed no one else could have done it so well.  She left instructions in her will that I should receive a copy of her Autobiography, which appeared in three volumes, and came to me (February 28, 1877) from Mr. Thomas Martineau, one of her executors.

   No autobiography produced in its day a greater impression.  The treatment Miss Martineau had received from eminent adversaries astonished a generation in which greater controversial fairness had come to prevail.  The friends of those who had assailed her felt some consternation at the imperishable descriptions of their conduct, which would never cease to be associated with their names, and they made public attempts to explain the facts away.

    Her mind was photographic in other respects.  She saw social facts and their influences, their nature and sequences, with a vividness no other writer of her day did.  Her charming romance, the "Feats of the Fiord" impressed Norwegians with the belief that she was personally familiar with the country, where she had never been.  There was "caller" air in the pages which made the reader hungry.

    The autobiography contains a small gallery of statues of contemporaries, of note in their time, sculptured from life, as perfect in their way as Grecian statues.  Their excellencies are generously portrayed for admiration, and their defects described for the guidance of survivors.  Not like the false eulogies of the dead, which, by pretending perfection, lie to the living, where silence on errors or deficiencies are of the nature of deceit, and sure to be resented when the truth comes to be known.  Only that admiration is lasting which is fully informed.

    No character of Lord Brougham so striking and true as hers, has ever been drawn.  Eminent biographers and critics, including Carlyle, have delineated him, but her portrait—drawn twenty years before theirs appeared—Professor Masson assured me her character of Brougham was the most perfect of all.

    Her two-sided estimate gave discomfort to those content with obliqueness in knowledge, but those who have the impartial instinct seek reality, by which no one is deceived.  The light and shade of character, like the light and shade of a painting, alone give distinctiveness and truth.  But whoever delineates so must suffer no distorting tints of pique, or spite, or prejudice on his palate.

    Miss Martineau entered into a correspondence on "Man's Nature and Development," with Mr. Henry G. Atkinson, which, when published, was reviewed by her brother, Dr. James Martineau, in the Prospective Review, No. xxvi., Art. 4, for which he selected the offensive and ignorant title of "Mesmeric Atheism."  It was misleading, because mesmerism has no theology.  It was ignorant, because neither Mr. Atkinson nor Dr. Martineau's sister were Atheists.  Their disavowal of Atheism was in the book before him.


 
CHAPTER XV.

HARRIET MARTINEAU—FURTHER INCIDENTS IN HER SINGULAR CAREER


IF the reader is curious to know what really were the opinions of these two distinguished offenders (H. Martineau and H. G. Atkinson), I recite them. In the book Dr. Martineau reviewed, Mr. Atkinson said:—


    "I am far from being an Atheist.  I do not say there is no God, but that it is extravagant and irreverent to imagine that cause a Person."


Miss Martineau herself writes in the same series of letters:—


    "There is no theory of a God, of an author of Nature, of an origin of the universe, which is not utterly repugnant to my faculties; which is not (to my feelings) so irreverent as to make me blush; so misleading as to make me mourn."


    Yet Dr. Martineau wrote of his sister and her friend in terms which seemed, to the public, of studied insult and disparagement, which, in educated society, would be called brutal.  It was merely spiritual malignity, of which I had in former years sufficient experience to render me a connoisseur in it.

    All the while Dr. Martineau had heresies of his own to answer for, yet he wrote words of his sister which no woman of self-respect could condone, unless withdrawn.  During her long illness of twenty years Dr. Martineau, her brother, never wrote to her nor addressed one word of sympathy to one who had loved him so well.  He had told the world that the "subtle, all-penetrating spirit of Christ has an inspiring nobleness philosophy cannot reach, nor science, nor nature impart."  Then how came Dr. Martineau to miss it?  The nobleness of mind of his illustrious sister all the world knew—before the world knew him—and Mr. Atkinson was a gentleman of as pure a life and of as good a position in society as Dr. Martineau himself.  O Theology, into what crookedness dost thou twist the straightest minds!  I have seen in a "Life of Dr. Martineau" that Professor Newman assented to what Dr. Martineau wrote of his sister.  This fact I ought not to withhold from the reader.  But Mr. Newman only knew what Dr. Martineau told him.

    Mr. Atkinson was the son of a London architect who left him an income which enabled him to devote himself to philosophy, which was his taste.  He was personally conversant, as visitor or guest, with a wide range of distinguished thinkers and writers of his time.  He was full of curious knowledge and notable sayings gathered in that opportune intercourse.  With a mind devoid of prejudice, he looked on scientific discoveries as a veteran and seasoned spectator.  No new idea surprised him, no expression of thoughtful opinion awakened in him resentment.  He cared only for truth, in whatever form or quarter it appeared.  He had none of the indifference of the arm-chair philosopher, but aided struggling opinion to assert itself.  Once I was his guest in Boulogne.  To my surprise I was the only passenger in the packet boat.  The quay of Boulogne was deserted.  At Hughes's Hotel I was the only guest in the dining-room.  On inquiring the reason, I learned that Gilbert a'Beckett had died a few days before of diphtheria, and that Douglas Jerrold had left for England since.  Mr. Atkinson, not expecting me, had gone for a day's sea trip to Calais.  On his return we spent pleasant hours at a cafe.  He had no idea of leaving the hotel where he had rooms.  Some years later Mr. Atkinson died in Boulogne, where he had resided many years.  Personally he was tall, of good presence and refined manners.  He was clean shaven, and might be taken for an Evangelical Bishop.  Save a mobile expression, his face was as shadowless as one of Holbein's portraits.

    The object of his letters to Miss Martineau was to ascertain if there could be found a real basis of a science of mind.  The common idea in those days was that mind was a "vital spark" which shone at will—originating without conditions—acting of its own caprice and obeying no law.  Only the theological spirit could see harm in this investigation.
 
    Not only fidelity, but chivalry towards her friends was a characteristic of Miss Martineau.  When W. J. Linton, for whom I had great regard, as appears in what I have written of him in the "Warpath of Opinion," had become vindictive—because I had obtained 9,000 shillings for European Freedom from readers of the Reasoner at the request of Mazzini, Mr. Linton—equally desirous and equally devoted, had not succeeded—wrote to the Liberator of New York, edited by Lloyd Garrison, assailing me politically and personally, whereupon Miss Martineau sent to the Liberator the following generous letter—which, though it be counted egotism in me to cite, I accept the risk, since such friendship was without parallel in my experience:—


    "D
EAR SIR,—I see with much surprise and more concern an attack in your paper upon the character of Mr. G. J. Holyoake, signed by Mr. W. J. Linton.  I could have wished, with others of your readers, that you had waited for some evidence, or other testimony, before committing your most respected paper to an attack on such a man from such a quarter.  Of Mr. Linton it is not necessary for me to say anything, because what I say of Mr. Holyoake will sufficiently show what I think of his testimony.

    "I wish I could give you an idea of the absurdity that it appears to us in this country to charge Mr. Holyoake with sneaking, with desiring to conceal his opinions, and get rid of the word 'Atheism.'  His whole life, since he grew up, has been one of public advocacy of the principles he holds, of weekly publication of them under his own signature, and of constant lecturing in public places.  One would think that a man who has been tried and imprisoned for Atheism, and has ever since continued to publish the opinions which brought him into that position, might be secure, if any man might, from the charge of sneaking.  The adoption of the term Secularism is justified by its including a large number of persons who are not Atheists, and uniting them for action which has Secularism for its object, and not Atheism.  On this ground, and because by the adoption of a new term a vast amount of impediment from prejudice is got rid of, the use of the name Secularism is found advantageous; but it in no way interferes with Mr. Holyoake's profession of his own unaltered views on the subject of a First Cause.  As I am writing this letter, I may just say for myself that I constantly and eagerly read Mr. Holyoake's writings, though many of them are on subjects—or occupied with stages of subjects—that would not otherwise detain me, because I find myself always morally the better for the influence of the noble spirit of the man, for the calm courage, the composed temper, the genuine liberality, and unintermitting justice with which he treats all manner of persons, incidents, and topics. I certainly consider the conspicuous example of Mr. Holyoake's kind of heroism to be one of our popular educational advantages at this time.

    "You have printed Mr. Linton's account of Mr. Holyoake.  I request you to print mine.  I send it simply as an act of justice.  My own acquaintance with Mr. Holyoake is on the ground of his public usefulness, based on his private virtues; and I can have no other reason for vindicating him than a desire that a cruel wrong should be as far as possible undone.  And I do it myself because I am known to your readers as an Abolitionist of sufficiently long standing not to be likely to be deceived in regard to the conduct and character of any one who speaks on the subject.
                                                     "I am, yours very respectfully,
                                                                                     "H
ARRIET MARTINEAU.
"L
ONDON, November 1, 1855,"


    Born June 12, 1802, at Norwich, she died June 27, 1876, at Ambleside.  In 1832, when she was twenty-eight, Lucy Atkin wrote to tell Dr. Channing that "a great light had arisen among women," which shone for forty-four years.  When she was a young woman, Lord Melbourne offered her a pension, which she declined on the ground that a Government which did not represent the people had no right to give away their money—an act of integrity so infrequent as to be always fresh.  In her case it explains a career.

    Two of the greatest women in Europe, George Sand and Harriet Martineau, of nearly equal age, died within a few weeks of each other.  "Passed away" is the phrase now employed, as though the writer knew that a journey was intended, and was in progress, whereas as Barry Cornwall wrote:—


"A flower above and a mould below
 Is all the mourners ever know."


    Mrs. Fenwick Miller relates that Miss Martineau began writing for the Press, like the famous novelist mentioned, under a man's name, "Deciphalus."  Once when at Mr. W. E. Forster's, at Burley, it fell to me to take Mrs. Forster down to dinner.  Being in doubt as to what was etiquette in such cases, preferring to be thought uncouth than familiar, I did not offer my hostess my arm.  Afterwards I asked Miss Martineau what I might have done.  She answered that "a guest was an equal, and any act of courtesy permissible in him was permissible in me," but in better terms than I can invent.  Recurring to the subject at another time, she said, "I was well pleased at your consulting me as you did.  It would save a world of trouble and doubt and energy, if we all asked one another what the other is qualified to tell.  I, who have to be economical of energy and time, always do it.  I ask, point blank, what it is important for me to know, from any one who can best tell me, and I like to be inquired of in the same way.  I hope no guest will feel puzzled in my house, but ask, and what I can answer I will."  The readiness with which she placed her wisdom at the service of her friends might have given Matthew Arnold (as she was a frequent visitor at Fox Howe) his idea of "Sweetness and Light."

    Greater than the difficulty of deafness was the fact that Miss Martineau wrote on the side of Liberalism.  Tory writers dipped their pens in the best preparation of venom sold by Conservative chemists.  The Church and King party, which burnt down Dr. Priestley's house, soon discovered that Miss Martineau was guilty of the further crime of being a Unitarian.  Nevertheless, she abandoned no principle, nor apologised for maintaining what she believed to be true.  Spinoza, as Renan has told us, gave great offence to his adversaries by the integrity of his life, as it did not give them a fair opportunity of attacking him, for the enormity of his conduct in believing less than they believed.  This was the case with Harriet Martineau, who had said in one of her books, "A parent has a considerable influence over the subsistence fund of his family, and an absolute control over the numbers to be supported by that fund."  The Quarterly Review, "written by gentlemen for gentlemen," added, "We venture to ask this maiden sage the meaning of this passage."  Why not ask the Rev. Thomas Malthus, whose words Miss Martineau merely repeated?  All that was meant was "deferred marriages."  The reviewer put an obscene construction upon it, and imputed to her his own malignant inference.  This was a common rascality of logic alike in theology and politics in those days.

    The intrepid authoress happened to believe there was some truth in mesmerism.  Dr. Elliotson, who thought so too, told me that his temerity that way cost him £7,000 a year in fees.  This mesmeric episode brought the doctors upon the poor lady, who never forgave her being alive when they said she ought to be dead.  Eminent physicians predicted that she would sink down in six months.  When, instead of sinking down, she rode on a camel to Mount Sinai and Petra, and on horseback to Damascus, they said "she had never been ill"!

Harriet Martineau

    She had the unusual capacity which the gods only are said to give—that of seeing herself as others saw her.  She saw her own life and intellectual power in its strength and in its limitation, as though she stood away from them and looked at them; she saw them, as it were, palpable and apart from herself.  Of imagination, which sheds sun shine over style, she had little.  Her pictures were etchings rather than paintings.  Her strength lay in directness of expression and practical thought.  She saw social facts and their influences, their nature and sequences, with a vividness no other writer of her day did.  When she had completed the translation of Comte's "Positive Philosophy," she placed at my disposal twenty-five copies to give to persons unable to buy them, but able to profit by them; and to extend the knowledge of its principles.  She offered me the publication of an edition of "Household Education."  No book like it had been written before, and none since.  Four hundred copies were sold by my arrangement.  The book was mainly intended for women.  The review of it for the Reasoner [28] was written by my wife, as I advocated that women should take their own affairs in the press into their own hands, and give their own opinion on what concerned them.  Miss Martineau's object in writing "Household Education" was, she told me, "to indicate that, in her opinion, education should be on a philosophical basis," adding: "I should see the great point of it is ignoring rank in so important a matter as the development of human beings.  It was written for Buckingham Palace and the humblest cottage where life is decently conducted."  Miss Martineau lived twenty-two years after receiving prognostications of early decease.  Had she not been a woman of courage she would have died, as was suggested to her.  She understood that she must accept new conditions of life.  She had a bed made in a railway carriage, and went down with her maids to Ambleside, and never left her house except to take air and get the relief which the smoking of a cigarette gave her, as she sat on summer evenings just outside the open windows of her sitting-room.  She might have given herself greater liberty, for she did not die of heart ailment after all.

    As I have seen in women of thought, Harriet Martineau, like George Eliot, grew handsomer as she grew older, and acquired that queenly dignity, such as is seen in George Richmond's painting of Miss Martineau in mature years.

    She devoted all her diversified genius to inspire public affairs with loftier aims and persistent purpose.  She was one of those Christians mentioned by Shakespeare who "mean to be saved by believing rightly." [29]  Harriet Martineau did, and these words of Flavius might be her epitaph.


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NOTES.


13.   Wallas's "Life of Place," p. 346. Longmans, Green & Co., 1898. ,
 
14.   Reasoner, No. 409, vol. xvi., March 28, 1854.
 
15.   "Warpath of Opinion."
 
16.   "Sixty Years," vol. i. chap. 40.
 
17.   See Wallas's "Life of Place," p. 329.
 
18.   See "Sixty Years," vol. i. p. 215.
 
19.   "Life of Francis Place," by Graham Wallas, M.A.  Longmans, Green & Co.
 
20.   See article on the "Real Nobility of the Human Character," by A. P. (i.e., Richard Carlile) in the Monthly Magazine, May 1835, p. 454.
 
21.   Sam Bamford, who wrote the "Pass of Death," when Canning died, was old before we accorded him a seat in a cellar in Somerset House, copying papers at a few shillings a week. It was all his Parliamentary friends could procure for him.
 
22.   The League newspaper, No. 142, vol. iii. p. 625.
 
23.   "Life of Joseph Rayner Stephens, Preacher and Political Orator."
 
24.   Would the Tories have bought them ? What could they have done with them?
 
25.   Neither Radicals nor Chartists asked them.  Both parties conditionally opposed the Corn Law Repealers.  Thomasson held that the repeal of the Corn Laws could precede the Charter.  The Chartists contended that the Corn Laws could not be repealed until the people had universal suffrage.   Thomasson was right.
 
26.   "Copperhead" was the name of a venomous American snake, which gave no warning of its approach.  The slavery Copperhead during the Civil War proclaimed his attachment to the Union, and argued against it.  There are Copperheads in every movement.
 
27.   I put these words down the same night; thus I am able to quote them.
 
28.   Reasoner, vol. vi, pp: 378-9 and 390.
 
29.   "Twelfth Night," act iii., scene 2.

 


 

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