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CHAPTER XXIV.

CONVERSATIONS WITH MR. GLADSTONE


WERE I to edit a new journal again I should call it Open Thought.  I know no characteristic of man so wise, so useful, so full of promise of progress as this.  The great volume of Nature, of Man and of Society opens a new page every day, and Mr. Gladstone read it.  It was this which gave him that richness of information in which he excited the admiration of all who conversed with him.

Holyoake, aged 87.

    Were Plutarch at hand to write Historical Parallels of famous men of our time, he might compare Voltaire and Gladstone.  Dissimilar as they were in nature, their points of resemblance were notable.  Voltaire was the most conspicuous man in Europe in the eighteenth century, as Mr. Gladstone became in the nineteenth.  Both were men of wide knowledge beyond all their contemporaries.  Each wrote more letters than any other man was ever known to write.  Every Court in Europe was concerned about the movements of each, in his day.  Both were deliverers of the oppressed, where no one else moved on their behalf.  Both attained great age, and were ceaselessly active to the last.  In decision of conviction they were also alike.  Voltaire was as determinedly Theistic as Mr. Gladstone was Christian.   They were alike also in the risks they undertook in defence of the right.  Voltaire risked his life and Gladstone his reputation to save others.  Mr. Morley relates of the Philosopher of Ferney, that when he made his triumphal journey through Paris, some one asked a woman in the street "why do so many people follow this man?"  "Don't you know?" was the reply.  "He was the deliverer of the Calas."  No applause went to Voltaire's heart like that.  Mr. Gladstone had also golden memories of deliverance no one else moved hand or foot to effect, and multitudes, even nations, followed him because of that.

    On the first occasion of my going to breakfast with him he was living in Harley Street, in the house in which Sir Charles Lyell died.  As Mr. Gladstone entered the room, he apologised for not greeting me earlier, as his servant had indistinctly given him my name.  He asked me to sit next to him at breakfast.  There were seven or eight guests.  The only one I knew was Mr. Walter. H. James, M.P., since Lord Northbourne—probably present from consideration for me.  One was the editor of the Jewish World, a journal opposed to Mr. Gladstone's anti-Turkish policy.  Others were military officers and travellers of contemporary renown.  It was a breakfast to remember—Mr. Gladstone displayed such a bright, unembarrassed vivacity.  He told amusing anecdotes of the experiences of the wife of the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, whose charm he said he could only describe by the use of the English rural term "buxom."  On making a time-bargain with a cabman, he observed to her ladyship that "he wished the engagement was for life."  Mr. Gladstone thought no English cabman would have said that.  Another pleasantry was of one of Lord Lyttelton's sons, who was very tall and lank.  He being in Birmingham and wishful to know the distance to a place he sought, asked a boy in the street who was passing, "how far it was."  "Oh, not far," was the assuring but indefinite answer.  "But can you not give me some better idea of the distance?" Mr. Lyttelton inquired.  "Well, sir," said the lad, looking up at the obelisk-like interrogator before him, "if you was to fall down, you would be half way there."

    These incidents were not new to me, but I was glad to hear what was probably the origin of them.  From Mr. Gladstone's lips they had a sort of historic reality which was interesting to me.

    Afterwards he spoke of the singular beauty of the "Dream of Gerontius" by Cardinal Newman, and turning to me asked if I knew of it, as though he thought it unlikely my reading lay in that direction.  He was very much surprised when I said I had read it with great admiration.  He said it was strange, as he had mentioned the poem at three or four breakfast tables, without finding any one who knew it.

    As I left, Mr. Gladstone accompanied me downstairs.  On the way I took occasion to thank him for a paper that had appeared in the Contemporary, containing definitions of heretical forms of thought, so fair and accurate and actual, that Shakespeare or Bunyan, who had the power of possessing himself of the minds of those whose thoughts he expressed, might have produced.  There had been nothing to compare with it in my time.  Theological writers described heterodox tenets from their inferences of what they must be—never inquiring what they actually stood for in the minds of those who held them—whereas he had written with unimputative knowledge.  Stopping on the first platform of the stairway we reached, he paused, and (holding the lapel of his coat with his hand, as I had seen him do in the House of Commons) he said he was glad I was able to think so, "for that is the quality in which you yourself excel."  This amazed me, as I never imagined that he had ever taken notice of speeches or writings of mine, or formed any opinion upon them.  Nor was he the man to say what I cite from mere courtesy.

    The second time I breakfasted in Harley Street was in the days of the Eastern question.  Mr. John Morley was one of the party.  Mr. Gladstone had again the same disengaged manner.  Before his guests broke up he entered the room, bearing on his arm a pile of letters and telegrams, and apologised for leaving us as he had to attend to them.  That morning Mr. Bright came in, and seeing me, said, "Poor Acland is dead.  Of course there was nothing in the house, and a few of us had to subscribe to bury him."  James Acland was the rider on a white horse who preceded Cobden and Bright the day before their arrival to address the farmers on the anti-Corn Law tour in the counties.  Mr. Gladstone's grand-daughter was to have arrived at Harley Street that morning, but her nurse missed the train.  When she appeared, Bright, who had suggested dolorous adventures to account for her non-appearance, proposed, when the child was announced to be upstairs, that a charge of sixpence should be made for each person going to see her.

    That morning one of the guests, who was an actor, maintained that it was not necessary that an actor should feel his part.  Mr. Gladstone, to whom conviction was his inspiration—who never spoke without believing what he said—dissented from the actor's theory, as I had done.

    Towards the end of his life, I saw Mr. Gladstone twice at the Lion Mansion in Brighton.  On one occasion he said, after speaking of Cardinal Newman and his brother Francis, "I remember Dr. Martineau telling me that there was a third brother, a man also of remarkable power, but he was touched somewhere here," putting his finger to his forehead.  "Do you know whether it was so?  It is so long since Dr. Martineau named it to me, and my impression may be wrong." I answered, "It was true.  At one time I had correspondence with Charles Newman.  He would say at times, 'My mind is going from me for a time.  Do not expect to hear from me until my mind returns.'  In power of reasoning, he was, when he did reason, distinguished for boldness and vigour."  Mr. Gladstone said, "When you write again to his brother Francis, convey to him for me the assurance of my esteem.  I am glad you believe that the cessation in his correspondence was not occasioned by anything on my part or any change of feeling on his.  I must have been mistaken if I ever described Mr. Francis Newman as 'a man of considerable talent.'  He was much more than that.  His powers of mind may be said to amount to genius."

    Mr. Gladstone asked what I would advise as a rule of policy as to the Anarchists who threw the bombs in the French Chambers.  I answered, "There were serious men who came to have Anarchical views from despair of the improvement of society.  There were also foolish Anarchists who think they can put the world to rights, had they a clear field before them.  There are also a class who are quite persuaded that by killing people who have nothing to do with the evils they complain of, they will intimidate those who have.  They take destruction to be a mode of progress.  These persons are as mad as they are made, and you cannot legislate against insanity."

Charles Bradlaugh
(1833-91)

    I mentioned the case of a Nonconformist minister, who was so incensed by the injustice done to Mr. Bradlaugh that he took a revolver, loaded, to Palace Yard, intending to shoot the policemen who maltreated him.  But the member for Northampton was altogether against such proceedings.  The determined rectifier of wrong in question had a project of throwing a bomb from the gallery on to the floor of the House.  I had great difficulty in dissuading him from this frightful act.  He was no coward, and was quite prepared to sacrifice his own life.  To those ebullitions of vengeance society in every age has been subject, and its best protection lies in intrepid disdain and cool precaution.  The affair of Phoenix Park showed that the English nation did not go mad in the face of desperate outrage.  However, Mr. Gladstone himself gave the best answer to his inquiry.  He said, "The Spanish Government had solicited him to join in a federation against Anarchists.  But how could we do that?  We cannot tell what other Governments may do, and we should be held responsible for their acts which we might deplore."

    He added, "It fills me with surprise, not to say disgust, to see it said at times in Liberal papers that the Tories of to-day are superior to their class formerly.  Sir Robert Peel was a man of high honour, patriotism, and self-respect.  He would never have joined in nor countenanced the treatment to which Mr. Bradlaugh was subjected.  I never knew the Tories do a meaner thing.  Nothing could have induced Sir Robert Peel to consent to that."

    On one occasion, after reference to out-of-the-way persons of whom I happened to have some knowledge, Mr. Gladstone said, "I have known many remarkable men.  My position has brought me in contact with numbers of persons."  Indeed, it seemed when talking to him that you were talking to mankind, so diversified and plentiful were the persons living in his memory, and who, as it were, stepped out in his conversation before you.  The individuality, the environment of persons, all came into light.  His conversation was like an oration in miniature.  Its exactness, its modulation, its force of expression, its foreseeingness of all the issues of ideas, came at will.  I never listened to conversation so easy, so natural, so precise, so full of colour and truth, spoken with such spontaneity and force.

William Ewart Gladstone

    Mr. Morley, in his "Life of Gladstone," cites a letter he sent to me in 1875: "Differing from you, I do not believe that secular motives are adequate either to propel or restrain the children of our race, but I earnestly desire to hear the other side, and I appreciate the advantage of having it stated by sincere and high-minded men."  This shows his brave open-mindedness.

    A few years later it came into my mind that my expressions of respect for persons whose Christian belief arose from honest conviction, and was associated with efforts for the improvement of the material condition of the people, might lead him to suppose that I myself inclined to belief in Christian tenets of faith.  I therefore sent him my new book on "The Origin and Nature of Secularism: Showing that where Free Thought commonly ends Secularism begins"—saying that as I had the honour of his correspondence, I ought not to leave him unaware of the nature of my own opinions.  He answered that he thought my motive a right one in sending the book to him, and that he had read a considerable part with general concurrence, though, in other parts, the views expressed were painful to him.  But this made no difference in his friendship, which continued to the end of his days.

    An unknown aphorist of 1750, whom Mr. Bertram Dobell quotes, exclaims: "Freethinker!  What a term of honour; or, if you will, dishonour; but where is he who can claim it?"  Mr. Gladstone might claim it beyond any other eminent Christian I have known.  It was he who, at the opening of the Liverpool College some years ago, warned the clergy that "they could no longer defend their tenets by railing or reticence"—a shaft that went through the soul of that policy of silence and defamation pursued by them for half a century.  Mr. Gladstone was the first to see it must be abandoned.

    It is Diderot who relates that one who was searching for a path through a dark forest by the light of a taper, met a man who said to him, "Friend, if thou wouldst find thy way here, blow out thy light."  The taper was Reason, and the man who said blow it out was a priest.  Mr. Gladstone would have said, "Take care of that taper, friend; and if you can convert it into a torch do so, for you will need it to see your way through the darkness of human life."

    At our last interview he said, "You and I are growing old.  The day is nearing when we shall enter—"  Here he paused, as though he was going to say another life, but not wishing to say what I might not concur in, in his sense, he—before his pause was well noticeable—added, "enter a changed state."  What my views were he knew, as I had told him in a letter: "I hope there is a future life, and, if so, my not being sure of it will not prevent it, and I know of no better way of deserving it than by conscious service of humanity.  The universe never filled me with such wonder and awe as when I knew I could not account for it.  I admit ignorance is a privation.  But to submit not to know, where knowledge is withheld, seems but one of the sacrifices that reverence for truth imposes on us."

    I had reason to acknowledge his noble personal courtesy, notwithstanding convictions of mine he must think seriously erroneous, upon which, as I told him, "I did not keep silence."

    He had the fine spirit of the Abbé Lamennais, who, writing of a book of mark depicting the "passive" Christian, said: "The active Christian who is ceaselessly fighting the enemies of humanity, without omitting to pardon and love them—of this type of Christian I find no trace whatever."  Mr. Gladstone was of that type.  It was his distinction that he applied this affectionate tolerance not only to the "enemies of humanity," but to the dissentients from the faith he loved so well.

    At our last meeting in Brighton he asked my address, and said he would call upon me.  He wished me to know Lord Acton, whom he would ask to see me.  An official engagement compelled Lord Acton to defer his visit, of which Mr. Glad stone sent me notice.  It was a great loss not to converse with one who knew so much as Lord Acton did.

    Mr. Gladstone knew early what many do not know yet, that courtesy and even honour to adversaries do not imply coincidence in opinion. As I was for the right of free thought, I regarded all manifestations of it with interest, whether coinciding with or opposing views I hold. Shortly before his death I wrote to him, when Miss Helen Gladstone sent me word, "To-day I read to my father your letter, by which he was much touched and pleased, and he desired me to send you his best thanks." I shall always be proud to think that any words of mine gave even momentary pleasure to one who has given delight to millions, and will be an inspiration to millions more.

    In former times, when an eminent woman contributed to the distinction of her consort, he alone received the applause.  In these more discriminating days, when the noble companionship of a wife has made her husband's eminence possible, honour is due to her also.  Therefore, on drawing the resolution of condolence to Mrs. Gladstone, adopted at the Peterborough Co-operative Congress, we made the acknowledgment how much was due to the wife as well as the husband.  I believe no resolution sent to her, but ours, did this.  Sympathy is not enough where honour is due.

    In the splendid winter of Mr. Gladstone's days there was no ice in his heart.  Like the light that ever glowed in the temple of Montezuma the generous fire of his enthusiasm never went out.  The nation mourned his loss with a pomp of sorrow more deep and universal than ever exalted the memory of a king.


 
CHAPTER XXV.

HERBERT SPENCER, THE THINKER


A STAR of the first magnitude went out of the firmament of original thought by the death of Herbert Spencer.  His was the most distinctive personality that remained with us after the death of Mr. Gladstone.  Spencer was as great in the kingdom of science as Mr. Gladstone was in that of politics and ecclesiasticism.  Men have to go back to Aristotle to find Spencer's compeer in range of thought, and to Gibbon for a parallel to his protracted persistence in accomplishing his great design of creating a philosophy of evolution.  Mr. Spencer's distinction was that he laid down new landmarks of evolutionary guidance in all the dominions of human knowledge.  Gibbon lived to relinquish his pen in triumph at the end of years of devotion to his "History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire"—Mr. Spencer planned the history of the rise and growth of a mightier, a more magnificent, and more beneficent Empire—that of Universal Law—and for forty years he pursued his mighty story in every vicissitude of strength with unfaltering purpose, and lived to complete it amid the applause of the world and the gratitude of all who have the grand passion to understand Nature, and advance the lofty destiny of humanity.

Herbert Spencer
(1820-1903)

    Herbert Spencer was born April 27, 1820, in the town of Derby, and died in his eighty-fourth year, December 8, 1903, at 5, Percival Terrace, Brighton, next door to his friend, Sir James Knowles, the editor of the Nineteenth Century.  At the time of his birth, Derby was emerging from the sleepy, dreamy, stagnant, obfuscated condition in which it had lain since the days of the Romans.

    It is difficult to write of Spencer without wondering how a thinker of his quality should have been born in Derby—a town which had a determined objection to individuality in ideas.  It has a Charter—its first act of enterprise in a thousand years—obtained by the solicitations of the inhabitants from Richard I., which gave them the power of expelling every Jew who resided in the town, or ever after should approach it.  Centuries later, in the reigns of Queen Anne and George I., not a Roman Catholic, an Independent, a Baptist, an Israelite, nor even an unmolesting Quaker could be found in Derby.

    There still remains one lineal descendant of the stagnant race which procured the Charter of Darkness from Richard I.—Mr. Alderman W. Winter, who opposed in the Town Council a resolution of honour in memory of Spencer, who had given Derby its great distinction, because his views contradicted the antediluvian Scriptural account of the Creation, when there was no man present to observe what took place, and no man of science existed capable of verifying the Mosaic tradition.  The only recorded instance of independency of opinion was that of a humble Derby girl, who was born blind, yet could see, like others, into the nature of things.  She doubted the Real Presence.  What could it matter what the poor, helpless thing thought of that?  But the town burned her alive.  The brave, unchanging girl, whose convictions were torment-proof, was only twenty-two years old.

    The only Derby man of free thought who preceded Herbert Spencer was William Hutton, a silk weaver, who became the historian of Derby and Birmingham.  In sagacity, boldness and veracity he excelled.  The wisdom of his opinions was a century in advance of his time (1770-1830).

    There were no photographs in the time of Mr. Spencer's parents, and their lineaments are little known.  Mr. Spencer's uncle I knew, the Rev. Thomas Spencer, a clergyman of middle stature, slender, with a paternal Evangelical expression.  But his sympathies were with Social Reform, in which field he was an insurgent worker for projects then unregarded or derided.

    When I first knew Mr. Herbert Spencer, he was one of the writers on the Leader newspaper.  We dined at times at the Whittington Club, then recently founded by Douglas Jerrold.  At this period Mr. Spencer had a half-rustic look.  He was ruddy, and gave the impression of being a young country gentleman of the sporting farmer type, looking as unlike a philosopher as Thomas Henry Buckle looked like a historian, as he appeared to me on my first interview with him.  Mr. Spencer at that time would take part in discussions in a determined tone, and was persistent in definite statement.  In that he resembled William Chambers, with whom I was present at a deputation to Lord Derby on the question of the Paper Duty.  Lord Derby could not bow him out, nor bow him into silence, until he had stated his case.

    In those days Mr. Spencer spoke with misgivings of his health.  Mr. Edward Pigott, chief proprietor of the Leader (afterwards Public Examiner of Plays) asked me to try to disabuse Mr. Spencer of his apprehensiveness, which was constitutional and never left his mind all his life, and I learned never to greet him in terms which implied that he was, or could be well.  Coleridge complained of ailments of which no physical sign was apparent, and he was thought, like Mr. Spencer, to be an imaginary invalid.  But after his death Coleridge was found to have a real cause of suffering, and the wonder was that he did not complain more.

    There must be a distinct susceptibility of the nerves—which Sir Michael Foster could explain—peculiar to some persons.  I have had two or three friends of some literary distinction, whom I made it a rule never to accost, or even to know when I met them, until they had recovered from the inevitable shock of meeting some unexpected person, when they would spontaneously become genial.

    Mr. Spencer's high spirit was shown in this.  Though he often had to abandon his thinking, he resumed it on his recovery.  The continuity of his thought never ceased.  One form of trouble was recurring depression, so difficult to sustain, which James Thompson, who oft experienced it, described—when a man has to endure


"The same old solid hills and leas;
 The same old stupid, patient trees;
 The same old ocean, blue and green;
 The same sky, cloudy or serene;
 The old two dozen hours to run
 Between the settings of the sun."


    Mr. Spencer was first known to London thinkers by being found the associate of economists like Bagot; philosophers with a turn for enterprise in the kingdom of speculation—as George Henry Lewes, Darwin, Huxley, Tyndall; and of great novelists like George Eliot.  In those days the house of John Chapman, the publisher, was the meeting ground of French, Italian, German and other Continental thinkers.  There, also, congregated illustrious Americans like Ralph Waldo Emerson, and other unlicensed explorers in the new world of thought.  There Mr. Spencer became known to men of mark in America, who made his fame before his countrymen recognised him.  If it was England who "raised" Mr. Spencer, it was America that discovered him.  Mr. George Iles, a distinguished American friend of Mr. Spencer, sends me information of the validity of American admiration of him, on the authority of the Daily Witness: "Mr. Spencer's income is mainly drawn from the sale of his books in America, his copyrights there having yielded him 4,730 dollars in the last six months.  A firm of publishers have paid in the last six months royalties amounting nearly to ten thousand dollars to Mr. Herbert Spencer and the heirs or executors of Darwin, Huxley and Tyndall.  The sales of Spencer's and Darwin's books lead those of Huxley and Tyndall."

    During the earlier publication of his famous volumes, his expenditure in printing and in employing assistants in gathering facts for his arguments, exhausted all his means.  Lord Stanley, of that day, was understood to have offered him an appointment, which included leisure for his investigations.  But he declined the thoughtful offer, deeming the office to be of the nature of a sinecure.  Wordsworth accepted such an appointment, and repaid the State in song, as Spencer would have repaid it in philosophy.

    I had the honour to be Mr. Spencer's outdoor friend.  He asked me to make known the publication of his work to persons whom I knew to be friendly to enterprise in thought.  For years I assiduously sought to be of service in this way.

    One day in 1885, being the guest, in Preston, of the Rev. William Sharman, he showed me a passage in one of Mr. Spencer's volumes, published in 1874, which I had not seen, and which surprised me much, in which it appeared Secularists were below Christians in their sense of fiduciary integrity.  Mr. Sharman said, "Defective as we are supposed to be, you will see that Secularists are one degree lower in morality than the clergy."  Mr. Spencer had given instances which, in his opinion, "showed that the cultivation of the intellect does not advance morality."  If that were so, it would follow that it was better to remain ignorant—if ignorance better develops the ethical sense.  The instance Mr. Spencer gives occurs in the "Study of Sociology" (pp. 4 18-19), "Written to show how little operative on conduct is mere teaching.  Let me give, says Mr. Spencer, a striking fact falling under my observation:


    "Some twelve years ago was commenced a serial publication, limited in its circulation to the well educated.  It was issued to subscribers, from each of whom was due a small sum for every four numbers.  The notification periodically made of another subscription due received from some prompt attention, from others an attention less tardy than before, and from others no attention at all.  After a lapse of ten years, a digest was made of the original list, when it was found that those who finally declined paying for what they had year after year received, constituted, among others, the following percentages:


Christian defaulters .... .... .... 31 per cent.
Secularist defaulters.... .... .... 32 per cent."


    I wrote to Mr. Spencer as follows:


"E
ASTERN LODGE, BRIGHTON,
"December 1, 1885.


    "M
Y DEAR MR. SPENCER,—I am like the sailor who knocked down the Jew, and when he was remonstrated with said, 'He did it because he had crucified his Lord and Saviour.'  When told that that occurred 2,000 years ago he answered, 'But I only heard of it last night.'

    "It was but a few days ago that your notice of Secularist fraudulency, made in 1874, became known to me.

"From so dispassionate and analytic an authority as yourself, your reflection on the ethical insensibility of Secularists justifies me in asking your attention to certain facts.  By what test did you know that 32 per cent. of defaulters were Secularists?  The names I gave you were of persons likely to take in your work if prospectuses were sent to them.  But many of them were not Secularists.  Some of them were ministers of religion, others Churchmen, but having individually a taste for philosophical inquiry,

    "You do not say that these persons sent in their names as subscribers.  Yet unless they did, they cannot be justly described 'as regardless of an equitable, claim.'  Had you informed me of any whose names I gave you, who had not paid for the work, after undertaking to do so, I could have procured you the payment, for all whose names I gave I believe to be men of good faith.—With real regard,

"GEORGE JACOB HOLYOAKE.


    Mr. Spencer sent me the following reply:


"38, Q
UEEN'S GARDENS, BAYSWATER, LONDON, W.,
"November 16, 1885.

    "DEAR MR. HOLYOAKE,—You ask how I happen to know of certain defaulters that they were Secularists.  I know them as such simply because their names came to me through you; for, as you may remember, you obtained for me, when the prospectus of the 'System of Philosophy' was issued, sundry subscribers.

    "But for my own part, I would rather you did not refer to the matter.  At any rate, if you do, do not do so by name.  You will observe, if you turn to the 'Study of Sociology,' where the matter is referred to, that I have spoken of the thing impersonally, and not in reference to myself.  Though those who knew something of the matter might suspect it referred to my own case, yet there is no proof that it did so; and I should be sorry to see myself identified by name with the matter.—Truly yours,   "H
ERBERT SPENCER."


    But Mr. Spencer had identified Secularists as lacking ethical scrupulousness, and as I was the reputed founder of that form of Freethought known as Secularism, some notice became incumbent on my part.  The brief article on "Intellectual Morality" in the Present Day, which I was editing in 1885, was my answer—the same as appears in my letter to Mr. Spencer, above quoted.

    In 1879 the great recluse meditated going to America.  As I was about to do the same myself, I volunteered to take a berth in the same vessel if I could be of any service to him on the voyage.  He thought, however, that our sailing in the same ship might cause the constructive interviewers out there to confuse together the opinions we represented.  Yet my friends would not know his, nor would his friends know mine.  But I respected his scruples, lest his views should become colourably identified with my own.  I had myself a preference for keeping distinct things separate, and I sailed in another ship and never called at his hotel but once, when he was residing at the Falls of Niagara, which I thought was a curious spot (the noisiest in Canada) to choose for one whose need was quietude.  He would take an entire flat in a hotel that he might be undisturbed at night.  In Montreal, Mr. George Iles gave me the same splendid, spacious, secluded bedroom which he had assigned to Mr. Spencer when he was his host there.  Professor von Denslow, who told me that he was the "champion non-sleeper of the United States," asked me to give a communication from him to Mr. Spencer.  That was the reason of my single visit to him in Canada.  At the farewell banquet given to Mr. Spencer in New York, famous speakers took part; but Henry Ward Beecher, in a speech shorter than any, excelled them all.

    After his return to England, I had several communications from him on the subject of Co-operation.  Like Mr. Gladstone, he usually made searching inquiries into the details of every question on which he wrote.  One of his letters was as follows:—


"2, L
EWES CRESCENT,
"B
RIGHTON,
"January 6, 1897.

    "DEAR MR. HOLYOAKE,—I should have called upon you before now had I not been so unwell.  I have been kept indoors now for about three weeks.  I write partly to say this and partly to enclose you something of interest as bearing upon my suggestion concerning piecework in co-operative combinations.  The experience described by Miss Davenport-Hill bears indirectly, if not directly, upon them, showing as it does the harmonising effect of piecework.  Truly yours,     "HERBERT SPENCER."


    Busied as he was with the recondite application of great principles, he had practical discernment of the possibilities of Co-operation, unthought of by those of us engaged in promoting co-partnership in the workshop.  Trades unions were mostly against piecework as giving more active workers an advantage over the others.  Mr. Spencer pointed out that in a co-partnership workshop the fruitfulness of piece work was an advantage to all.  The piece-workers increase the output and profits of the society.  The profits, being equally divided upon wages, the least bright and active members receive benefit from the piece-workers' industry.

    Occasionally Mr. Spencer would come to my door and invite me to drive with him.  Another time when he had visitors—Mrs. Sidney Webb and Prof. Masson, whom I wished to meet again—he would, if in the winter season, send me a card from "2, Lewes Crescent, Jan. 24, 1897.—I will send the carriage for you to-morrow (Sunday) at 12.40.  With the hood up and the leather curtain down you will be quite warm.—H. S."  He would occasionally send me grouse or pheasant for luncheon.  Very Pleasant were the amenities of philosophy.

    The first work of Mr. Spencer's which attracted public attention was "Social Statics."  Like Mr, Lewes' "Biography of Philosophy," it had a pristine charm which fascinated young thinkers.  Both authors restated their works, but left behind their charm.  Mr. Gladstone's first address to the electors of Newark contains the germs of his whole and entire career.  "Social Statics" contains the element of that philosophy which gave Spencer the first place among thinkers of all times.  Bishop Colenso found the book in the library of the builder of his Mission Houses in South Africa.  Mr. Ryder, of Bradford, Yorkshire, procured it through me and took it out with him.  It was a book of inspiration to him.

    Ten years before "Social Statics" appeared I was concerned with others in publishing, in the "Oracle of Reason," a theory of Regular Gradation.  Our motto, from Boitard, was an explicit statement of Evolution.  Five out of seven of us were soon in prison, which shows that we did not succeed in making Evolution attractive.  Intellectual photography was then in an infantine state.  Our negatives lacked definition and our best impressions were indistinct.  It was not until Darwin and Spencer arose that the art of developing the Evolutionary plates came to be understood.

Herbert Spencer

    Before the days of Spencer the world of scientific thought was mostly without form and void.  The orthodox voyagers who set out to sea steered by a compass which always veered to a Jewish pole, and none who sailed with them knew where they were.  Rival theologians constructed dogmatic charts, increasing the confusion and peril.  Guided by the pole star of Evolution, Spencer sailed out alone on the ocean of Speculation and discovered a new empire of Law—founded without blood, or the suppression of liberty, or the waste of wealth—where any man may dwell without fear or shame.

    The fascination of Mr. Spencer's pages to the pulpit-wearied inquirer was, that they took him straight to Nature.  Mr. Spencer seemed to write with a magnifying pen which revealed objects unnoticed by other observers.  His vision, like a telescope, descried sails at sea invisible to those on shore.  His pages, if not poems, gleamed with the poetry of facts.  His facts were the handmaids always at hand which explained his principle.  His repetitions do not tire, but are fresh assurances to the reader that he is following a continuous argument.  A pedestrian passing down a long street is glad to meet the recurrence of its name, that he may know he is still upon the same road.  In Spencer's reasonings there are no byways left open, down which the sojourner may wander and lose himself.  When cross-roads come in sight, fingerposts are set up telling him where they lead to, and directing him which to take.  Mr. Spencer pursues a new thought, never loses sight of it, and takes care the reader does not.  No statement goes before without the proof following closely after.

    When the reception was given to me at South Place Institute, London, in April, 1903, on my eighty-sixth birthday, he had been confined to his house from the previous August, yet he took trouble to write some words of personal regard to myself beyond all my expectation.  To the end of his days—save when the weather was inclement—I used to walk up the hill to his door to inquire as to his health, and when I could not do so, Mr. Troughton would write me word.  Mr. Spencer's last letter to me was in answer to one I had sent him on his birthday.  It was so characteristic as to deserve quoting:


"Thanks for your congratulations; but I should have liked better your condolences on my longevity."


    He wanted no twilight in his life.  Like the sun in America, his wish was to disappear at once below the horizon—having amply given his share of light in his day.

    Like Huxley, Mr. Spencer would not have slept well in Westminster Abbey.  He needed no consolation in death; and if he had, there was no one who knew enough to give it to him.  His conscience was his consolation.  His one choice was that his friend Mr. John Morley—than whom none were fitter—should speak at his death the last words over him.  Mr. Morley being in Sicily, this could not be.  The next in friendship and power of estimate—the Right Hon. Leonard Courtney—spoke in his stead, at the Hampstead Crematorium.

    Mr. Spencer had a radium mind which gave forth, of its own spontaneity, light and heat.  None who have died could more appropriately repeat the proud lines of Sir Edward Dyer:

"My mind to me a kingdom is;
     Such perfect joy therein I find
 As far exceeds all earthly bliss
     That God or Nature hath assign'd."


 
CHAPTER XXVI.

SINGULAR CAREER OF MR. DISRAELI


I PREFER the picturesque name of Disraeli which he contrived out of the tribal designation of "D'Israeli."  Had it been possible he would have transmuted Benjamin into a Gentile name.  Disraeli is far preferable to the sickly title of Beaconsfield, by which association he sought to be taken as the Burke of the Tories, for which his genius was too thin.

Benjamin Disraeli, Lord Beaconsfield
(1804-81)

    Disraeli is a fossilised bygone to this generation; though in the political arena he was the most glittering performer of his day.  Men admired him as the Blondin of Parliament, who could keep his feet on a tight-rope at any elevation.  Others looked upon him as a music-hall Sandow who could snap into two a thicker bar of bovine ignorance than any other athlete of the "country party."  He was capable of serving any party, but preferred the party who could best serve him.  He was an example how a man, conscious of power and unhampered by scruples, could advance himself by strenuous devices of making himself necessary to those he served.

    The showy waistcoat and dazzling jewellery in which he first presented himself to the House of Commons, betrayed the primitive taste of a Jew of the Minories, and foreshadowed that trinket statesmanship which captivated his party, who thought sober, honest principles dull and unentertaining.

    Germany and England contemporaneously produced the two greatest adventurers of the century—Ferdinand Lassalle and Benjamin Disraeli.  Both were Jews.  Both had dark locks and faith in jewellery.  Both were Sybarites in their pleasures; and personal ambition was the master passion of each.  Both were consummate speakers.  Both sought distinction in literature as a prelude to influence.  Both professed devotion to the interests of the people by promulgating doctrines which would consolidate the power of the governing classes.  Lassalle counselled war against Liberalism, Disraeli against the Whigs.  Lassalle adjusted his views to Bismarck, as Disraeli did to Lord Derby.  Both owed their fortunes to rich ladies of maturity.  Both challenged adversaries to a duel, but Disraeli had the prudence to challenge Daniel O'Connell, who, he knew, was under a vow not to fight one, while Lassalle challenged Count Racowitza, and was killed.

    It was a triumph without parallel to bring to pass that the proud aristocracy of England should accept a Jew for its master.  Not approaching erect, like a human thing, Disraeli stealthily crept, lizard-like, through the crevices of Parliament, to the front of the nation, and with the sting that nature had given him he kept his enemies at bay.  No estimate of him can explain him, which does not take into account his race.  An alien in the nation, he believed himself to belong to the sole race that God has recognised.  The Jew has an industrial daintiness which is an affront to mankind.  He, as a rule, stands by while the Gentile puts his hand to labour.  Isolated by Christian ostracism, the Jew tills no ground; he follows no handicraft—a Spinoza here and there excepted.  The Jew, as a rule, lives by wit and thrift.  He is of every nation, but of no nationality, save his own.  He takes no perilous initiation; he leads no forlorn hope; he neither conspires for freedom, nor fights for it.  He profits by it, and acquiesces in it; but generally gives you the impression that he will aid either despotism or liberty, as a matter of business—as many do who are not Jews.  There are, nevertheless, men of noble qualities among them, and as a class they are as good or better than Christians would be had they been treated for nineteen centuries as badly as Jews have been.

    Derision and persecution inspire a strong spirit with retaliation, and absolve him from scrupulous methods of compassing it.  Two things the Jew pursues with an unappeasable passion—distinction and authority among believers, before whom his race has been compelled to cringe.  An ancient people which subsists by subtlety and courage, has the heroic sense of high tradition, still looks forward to efface, not the indignity of days, but of centuries—which imparts to the Jew a lofty implacableness of aim, which never pauses in its purpose.  How else came Mr. Disraeli by that form of assegai sentences, of which one thrust needed no repetition, and by that art which enabled him to climb on phrases to power?

    A critic, who had taken pains to inform himself, brought charges against D'Israeli the Elder to the effect that he had taken passages of mark from the books of Continental sceptics and had incorporated them as his own.  At the same time he denounced the authors, so as to disincline the reader to look into their pages for the D'Israelian plagiaries.  In the novels of D'Israeli the Younger I have come upon passages which I have met with elsewhere in another form.  As the reader knows, Disraeli delivered in Parliament, as his own, a fine passage from Thiers.  So that when Daniel O'Connell described Disraeli as "the heir-at-law of the impenitent thief who died on the cross," he was nearer the truth than he knew, for there was petty larceny in the Disraelian family.

    When Sir James Stansfeld entered Parliament he had that moral distrust of Disraeli, which Lord Salisbury, in his Cranborne days, published a Review to warn his party against.  Sir James (then Mr. Stansfeld) expressed a similar sentiment of distrust. Disraeli said to a friend in the lobby immediately after, "I will do for that educated mechanic."  The vitriolic spite in the phrase was worthy of Vivian Grey.  He kept his word, and caused Mr. Stansfeld's retirement from the Ministry.  It was the nature of Disraeli to destroy any one who withstood him.  At the same time he could be courteous and even kind to literary Chartists who, like Thomas Cooper and Ernest Jones, helped to frustrate the Whigs at the poll, which served the purpose of Tory ascendency, which was Disraeli's chance.

    In Easter, 1872, I was in Manchester when Disraeli had the greatest pantomime day of his life—when he played the Oriental Potentate in the Pomona Gardens.  All the real and imaginary Tory societies that could be got together from surrounding counties were paraded in procession before him.  To each he made audacious little speeches, which astonished them and, when made known, caused jubilancy in the city.

    The deputation from Chorley reminded him of Mr. Charley, member for Salford.  He exclaimed, "Chorley and Charley are good names!"  When a Tory sick and burial society came up he said "he hoped they were doing a good business, and that their future would be prosperous!"  When the night came for his speech, the Free Trade Hall was crowded.  It was said that 2,000 persons paid a guinea each for their seats.

    Mr. Callander, his host, had taken, at Mr. Disraeli's request, some brandy to the meeting.  It was he who poured some into a glass of water.  Mr. Disraeli, on tasting it, turned to him and said in an undertone, "There's nothing in it."  This wounded the pride of his host, who took it as an imputation of stinginess on his part, and he filled the next glass plentifully.  This was the beginning of the orator's trouble.  For the first fifteen minutes he spoke in his customary resonant voice.  Then husky, sibilant and explosive sentences were unmistakable.  Apprehensive reporters, sitting below him, moved aside lest the orator should fall upon them.  Suspicious gestures set in.  An umbrella was laid near the edge of the platform, that the speaker might keep within the umbrella range.  For this there was a good reason, as the speaker's habit of raising himself on his toes endangered his balance.  All the meeting understood the case.  The orator soon lost all sense of time.  He, who knew so well how to suit performance to occasion, was incapable of stopping himself.  The audience had come from distant parts.  At nine o'clock they could hear the railway bell, calling some to the trains.  Ten o'clock came, when a larger portion of the audience was again perturbed by railway warnings.  Disraeli was still speaking.  Eleven o'clock came; the audience had further decreased then, but Disraeli was still declaiming hoarse sentences.  It was a quarter-past eleven before his peroration came to an end; and many, who wished to have their guinea's worth of Parliamentary oratory, had to sleep in Manchester that night.  Everybody knew the speaker would have ceased two hours earlier if he could.  His host in the chair was much disquieted.  His house was some distance from the city, and he had invited a large party of gentlemen to meet the great Conservative leader at supper, which had long been ready.  Besides, he was afraid his guest would be unable to appear at it.  Arriving at the house Disraeli asked his host to give him champagne—"a bottle of fizz" was the phrase he used—which he drank with zest, when, to the astonishment of his host, he joined the party and was at his best.  He delighted every one with his sallies and his satire.

    The next morning the city Conservatives were unwilling to speak of the protracted disappointment of the evening before.  The Manchester papers gave good reports of the long speech, which contained some passages worthy of the speaker at any time—as when he compared the occupants of the front bench of the Government in the House of commons to so many extinct volcanoes.  As some members of Her Majesty's Government were known friends of Mazzini and Garibaldi, the aptitude of the simile lives in political memory to this day.  When the Times report arrived it was found that a considerable portion of the speech was devoted to the laudation of certain county families, which were not mentioned in the Manchester reports, and it was said that Disraeli had dictated his speech to Mr. Delane before he came down.  But though he lost his voice and his memory, he never lost his wit, for he praised another set of families that came into his head.

    Only in two instances has Mr. Disraeli been publicly charged with errors of vintage.  In his time I heard members manifestly inebriated, address the House of Commons.  On a memorable night Mr. Gladstone said Disraeli had access to sources of inspiration not open to Her Majesty's Ministers.

Disraeli

    In the Morning Star there appeared next day a passage from Disraeli's speech, reported in vinous forms of sibilant expression.  On that occasion Lord John Manners carried to him, from time to time during his oration, five glasses of brandy and water.  I saw them brought in.  There was the great table between the two front benches, which Mr. Disraeli said was fortunate, as he feared Mr. Gladstone might spring upon him.  All the while it was not protection Mr. Disraeli wanted from the table, but support, for he clutched it as he spoke.  Sir John Macdonald, Premier of Canada, whom I had the honour to visit at Ottawa, not only resembled Disraeli in features, in the curl of his hair, but in his wit.  One night Sir John made an extraordinary after-dinner speech, which had the flavour of a whole vintage in it.  When Sir John found he had astonished the whole Dominion, he sent for the reporter, who appeared, trembling with apprehension.  "Young man," said Sir John, "with your talent for reporting you have a great future before you.  But take my advice—never report a speech in future when you are drunk."

    Connoisseurs in art who went to the sale of his effects at Disraeli's Mayfair house were astonished at the Houndsditch quality of what they found there.  Not a ray of taste was to be seen, not an article worth buying.  The glamour of the Oriental had lain in phrases, not in art.

    It was the Liberals who were the champions of the Jews, and who were the cause of their admission to Parliament.  Mr. Disraeli must have had some generous memory of this.  Mr. Bright would cross the floor of the House sometimes to confer with Disraeli.  There must have been elements in his character in which Mr. Bright had confidence.  It was believed to be owing to his respect for Mr. Bright's judgment that he took no part against America, when his party did all they could to destroy the cause of the Union in the great Anti-Slavery War.  It ought to be remembered to Disraeli's credit, that he made what John Stuart Mill called a "splendid concession" of household suffrage, although he took it back the next night, by the pernicious creation of the "compound householder."  Still, Liberals owe it to him that household suffrage came to prevail when it did.

    Disraeli's attacks upon Peel were dictated by the policy of self-advancement.  He was capable of admiring Peel, but he admired himself more.  Standing outside English questions and interests, he was able to treat them with an airiness which was a political relief.  Yet he could see that our Colonies might become "millstones round the neck of the Empire" if we gave them too much of Downing Street, or maybe of Highbury.

    To say Disraeli had no conscience would be to say more than any man has knowledge enough to say of another; but he certainly never gave the public the impression that he had one.  He devised the scheme of giving the Queen the title of "Empress."  Mr. Gladstone opposed it as dangerous to the dynasty, lowering its dignity to the level of Continental Emperorship, and taking from the Crown the master jewel of law, which has been more or less its security and glory for a thousand years.

    Disraeli seemed to care for the Queen's favour—nothing for the integrity of the Crown.  He declared himself a Christian, and said in the presence of the Bishop of Oxford, with Voltairean mockery, that he was "on the side of the angels," and elsewhere described Judas as an accessory to the crucifixion before the act, and to that ignoble treachery all Christians were indebted for their salvation—an idea which could never have entered a Gentile mind.  This was pure Voltairean scorn.

    In his last illness he was reported to have had three different kinds of physicians—allopath, hydropath, homoeopath; and had he chosen the spiritual ministration of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Chief Rabbi, and Mr. Spurgeon, no one would have been surprised at his sardonic prudence.

    I had admiration, though not respect, for his career.  Yet I was for justice being done to him.  When it was thought the Tories would prevent his accession to the Premiership, which was his right by service, I was one of those who cheered him in the lobby of the House of Commons, to show that adversaries of his politics were against his being defrauded of the dignity he had won.

    How was it that Disraeli's standing at Court was never affected by what would be deemed seditious defamation of the Crown in any other person?  When I mentioned in America the revolutionary license of his tongue in declaring the Queen to be physically and morally incapable of governing, the statement was received with incredulity.  The reporters who took down his Aylesbury speech containing the astounding words hesitated to transcribe them, and one asked permission to read the passage to Mr. Disraeli, who assented to its correctness, and the words appeared in the Standard and Telegraph of September 27, 1871.  The Times and Daily News omitted the word "morally," deeming it incredible.  But it was said.  His words were: "We cannot conceal from ourselves that Her Majesty is physically and morally incapacitated from performing her duties."  This meant that Her Majesty was imbecile—a brutal thing to suggest, considering family traditions.

    At a Lord Mayor's banquet Mr. Disraeli gave an insulting and defamatory account of the Russian Royal Family and Government, and boasted, like an inebriate Jingo, of England's capacity to sustain three campaigns against that Power.  As the Queen had a daughter-in-law a member of the Royal House of Russia, this wanton act of international offensiveness must have produced a sensation of shame and pain in the English Royal Family.  I well remember the consternation and disapproval with which both speeches were regarded by the people.  Whatever even Republicans may think of the theory of the Crown, they are against any personal outrage upon it.  Yet Mr. Gladstone, who was always forward to sustain, by graceful and discerning praise, the interest of the Royal Family, and procure them national grants, to which Mr. Disraeli could never have reconciled the nation, was simply endured by Her Majesty, while to Mr. Disraeli ostentatious preference was shown.  It was said in explanation that Mr. Gladstone had no "small talk" with which Mr. Disraeli entertained his eminent hostess.  It was not "small talk," it was Tory talk, which the Queen rewarded.

    I am of Lord Acton's opinion, that Mr. Disraeli was morally insupportable, though otherwise astonishing.  The pitiless resentment of "Vivian Grey" towards whoever stood in his way was the prevailing characteristic of the triumphant Jew.  Like other men of professional ambition, he had the charm of engaging amity to those who were for the time being no longer impediment to him.  When showing distress at a few drops of rain falling, news was brought Her Majesty that Mr. Gladstone had returned from a voyage and addressed a crowd on the beach.  Disraeli exclaimed with pleasant gaiety, "What a wonderful man that Gladstone is.  Had I returned from a voyage I should be glad to go to bed.  Mr. Gladstone leaps on shore and makes a speech."

    The moral of this singular career worth remembering, is that genius and versatility, animated by ambition without scruple, may attain distinction without principle.  It can win national admiration, but not public affection.  All it can accomplish is to leave behind a name of sinister renown.  If we knew all, no doubt Lord Beaconsfield had, apart from the exigencies of ambition, personal qualities commanding esteem.


 
CHAPTER XXVII.

CHARACTERISTICS OF JOSEPH COWEN

-I-


POLITICAL readers will long remember the name of Joseph Cowen, who won in a single night the reputation of a national orator.  All at once he achieved that distinction in an assembly where few attain it.  After a time he retired to his tent and never more emerged from it.  The occasion of his first speech in Parliament was the introduction of the Bill for converting the Queen into an Empress.  Queen was a wholesome monarchical name, which implied in England supremacy under the law; while Empress, alien to the genius of the political constitution, is a military title of sinister reputation, and implies a rank outside and above the law.  Like Imperialism, it connotes military government, which, in the opinion of the free and prudent, is the most odious, dangerous, and costly of all governments.  Mr. Cowen entertained a strong repugnance to the word "Empress," which might become a prelude to Imperialism—as it has done.

Joseph Cowen
(1831-1900)

   Mr. Cowen's father, who preceded him in the House of Commons, was scrupulous in apparel, never affecting fashion, but keeping within its pale.  His son was not only careless of fashion—he despised it.  He employed local tailors, from neighbourliness, and was quite content with their craftsmanship.  He never wore what is called a "top" hat, but a felt one, a better shape than what is known now as a "clerical" hat.  It was thought he would abandon it when he entered Parliament, but he did not.  He commonly left it in the cloak-room.  He had no wish to be singular.  His attire was as natural to him as his skin is to an Ethiopian.  His headgear imperilled his candidature, when that came about.

    He had been two years in Parliament before he addressed it.  When he rose many members were standing impatient for division and crying "Divide!  Divide!!"  Mr. Cowen, being a small man, was not at once perceived, but his melodious, honest, and eager voice arrested attention, though his Northumbrian accent was unfamiliar to the House.  It was as difficult to see the new orator as to see Curran in an Irish Court, or Thiers in the French Chamber.  Disraeli glanced at him through his eyeglass, as though Mr. Cowen was one of Dean Swift's Lilliputians, and of one near him he asked contemptuously, as a Northern burr broke upon his ear, "What language is the fellow talking?"

    The speech had all the characteristics of an oration, historical, compact, and complete—though brief.  In it he said three things never heard in Parliament before.  One was that the "Divine right of kings perished on the scaffold with Charles I."  Another was that "the superstition of royalty had never taken any deep hold of the English people."  The third was to describe our august ally, the Emperor Napoleon III., as an "usurper."  The impression the speech made upon the country was great.  It so accorded with the popular sentiment that some persons paid for its appearance as an advertisement in the Daily News and other papers of the day, and the speaker acquired the reputation of an orator by a single speech.  Mr. Disraeli's contemptuous reception of it did not prevent him, at a later date, from going up to Mr. Cowen, when he was standing alone by a fire, and paying him some compliment which made a lasting impression upon him.  Mr. Disraeli had discernment to recognise genius when he saw it, and generosity enough to respect it when not directed against himself.  If it were, he was implacable.

    For years, as I well knew, Mr. Cowen spent more money for the advancement and vindication of Liberalism than any other English gentleman.  He was the most generous friend of "forlorn hopes" England has known.  How many combatants has he aided; how many has he succoured; how many has he saved!  If the other world be human like this, what crowds of grateful spirits of divers climes must have rushed to the threshold of heaven to welcome him as he entered.

    Penniless, and his crew foodless, Garibaldi steered his vessel up the Tyne.  Mr. Cowen was the only man in England Garibaldi then sought or confided in.  Before he left the Tyne, Mr. Cowen, on behalf of subscribers (of whom many were pitmen), presented Garibaldi with a sword which cost £146.  Goldwin Smith says, in his picturesque way, Henry III. had a "waxen heart."  Mr. Cowen had an iron heart, steeled by noble purpose.  He knew no fear, physical or mental.  Not like my friend, George Henry Lewes, whose sense of intellectual right was so strong that he never saw consequences.  Cowen did see them, and disregarded them; he "nothing knew to fear, and nothing feared to know"—neither ideas nor persons.  How many men, not afraid of ideas, are much afraid of knowing those who have them?  Unyielding to the high, how tender he was to the low!

    Riding home with him one night, after a stormy meeting in Newcastle, when we were near to Stella House (he had not gone to reside in the Hall then) the horse suddenly stopped.  Mr. Cowen got out to see what the obstruction was, and he found it was one of his own workmen lying drunk across the road.  His master roused him and said: "Tom, what a fool thou art!  Had not the horse been the more sensible beast, thou hadst been killed."  He would use these Scriptural pronouns in speaking to his men.  The man could not stand, and Mr. Cowen and the coachman carried him to the door of another workman, called him up, and bade him let Tom lie in his house till morning.  Then we drove on.

    Another time a workman came to Mr. Cowen for an advance of thirty shillings.  Being asked what he wanted the money for, the man answered: "To get drunk, sir; I have not been drunk for six weeks."  "Thou knowest," said Mr. Cowen, "I never take any drink, because I think the example good for thee.  Thou will go to Gateshead Fair, get locked up, and I shall have to bail thee out.  There is the money; but take my advice, get drunk at home, and thy wife will take care of thee."  How many employers possess workmen having that confidence in them to put such a question as this workman did, without fear of losing their situation?  No workman lied, or had need to lie, to Mr. Cowen.  He had the tolerance and tenderness of a god.

    When I was ill in his house in Essex Street, Strand, he would come up at night and tell me of his affairs, as he did in his youth.  He had for some time been giving his support to the Conservative side.  I said to him, "Disraeli is dead.  Do you not see that you may take his place if you will?  It is open.  His party has no successor among them.  He had race, religion, and want of fortune against him.  You have none of these disadvantages against you.  You are rich, and you can speak as Disraeli never could.  He had neither the tone nor the fire of conscience—you have both.  You have the ear of the House, and the personal confidence of the country, as he never had.  In his place you would fill the ear of the world."  He thought for a time on what I said to him; then his answer was: "There is one difficulty—I am not a Tory."

    I saw he was leaving the side of Liberalism and that he would inevitably do Conservative work, and I was wishful that he should have the credit of it.  He was under a master passion which carried him he knew not whither.

    It was my knowledge of Mr. Cowen, long before that night, that made me oft say that a Tyneside man had more humility and more pride than God had vouchsafed to any other people of the English race.  Until middle life Mr. Cowen was as his father, immovable in principle; afterwards he was as his mother in implacableness.  That is the explanation of his career.

    The "passion" referred to—never avowed and never obtruded, but which "neither slumbered nor slept"—was ambition.  It might be called Paramountcy—that dangerous war-engendering word of Imperialism—which only the arrogant pronounce, and only the subjugated submit to.

    The Cowen family had no past but that of industry, and in Mr. Cowen's youth the "slings and arrows of outrageous" Toryism, shafts of arrogance, insolence, and contempt, flew about him.  He inherited from his mother a proud and indomitable spirit, and resolved to create a Liberal force which should withstand all that—and he did.  Then, when he came to be, as he thought, flouted by those whom he had served (the common experience of the noblest men), he at length resented and turned against himself.  He had reached the heights where he had been awarded an imperishable place, and then descended in resentment to mingle and be lost in the ignominious faction whom he had defeated and despised.  Those who had enraged him were not, as we shall see, worth his resentment.

    It was not for "a handful of silver" he left us—for he had plenty—nor for "a ribbon to stick in his coat," for he would not wear one if offered a basketful.  It was just indignation, stronger than self-respect.

    Not all at once did the desire of control assume this form.  By his natural nobility of nature he inclined to the view that all the supremacy inherent in man is that of superior capacity, to which all men yield spontaneous allegiance.

    Some time elapsed before the bent of his mind became apparent.  Possibly it was not known to himself.

    When a young man, he promoted and maintained two or three journals, in which he also wrote himself, without suggesting to others the passion for journalism by which he was possessed.  Some years later, when proofs of one of his speeches which a reporter had taken down, and Mr. Cowen had himself corrected, passed through my hands, I was struck with the dexterity with which he put a word of fire into a tame sentence, infused colour into a pale-faced expression, and established a pulse in an anæmic one.  It was clear that he had the genius of speech in him and was ambitious of distinction in it.

    Mr. Cowen's father was a tall, handsome man of the Saxon type, which goes steadily forward and never turns back.  He always described himself as a follower of Lord Durham, and was out on the Newcastle Town Moor in 1819, at great meetings in support of the Durham principles.  His mother was quite different in person, both in stature and appearance; somewhat of the Spanish type—dark, and mentally capable of impassable resolution.  Her son, Joseph, with whom we are here concerned, had dark, luminous eyes which were the admiration of London drawing-rooms—when he could be got to enter them.  His eldest sister, Mrs. Mary Carr, was as tall as her father, with the complexion of her mother.  I used to compare her to Judith, the splendid Jewess who slew Holofernes.  She used to say her brother Joseph had her mother's spirit, and that a "Cowen never changed."  Her brother never changed in his purpose of ascendency, but when inspired by resentment he could change his party to attain his end—as I have seen done in the House of Commons many times in my day.  This is why I have said that in the early part of Mr. Cowen's life he was his father—placid but purposeful.  In the second half he was his mother—resentful and implacable when affronted by non-compliance where he expected and desired concurrence.  But I have known many excellent men who did not take dissent from their opinions in good part.

    How fearless Mr. Cowen was, was shown in his conduct when a dangerous outbreak of cholera occurred in Newcastle.  People were dying in every street and lane, but he went out from Blaydon every morning at the usual time, and walked through the infected streets and passages into Newcastle, to his offices on the quay, being met on his way by persons in distress, from death in their houses, who knew they were sure of sympathy and assistance from him.  The courage of his unfailing appearance in his ordinary way saved many from depression which might have proved fatal to them.  When a wandering guest fell ill at his home, Stella House, Blaydon, he was sure of continued hospitality until his recovery.  Mr. Cowen's voice of sympathy and condolence was the tenderest I ever heard from human lips.

    A poor man, who lived a good deal upon the moors, was charged with shooting a doctor, and would have been hanged but for Mr. Cowen defending him by legal aid.  He thought the police had apprehended him because he was the most likely, in their opinion, to be guilty.  He was poor, friendless, and often houseless.  The man did not seem quite right in his mind.  After his acquittal, Mr. Cowen took him into his employ, and made him his gardener.  The garden was remote and solitary.  I often passed my mornings in it, not without some personal misgiving.  Mr. Cowen eventually enabled the man to emigrate to America, where a little eccentricity of demeanour does not count.

    In the political estrangements of Mr. Cowen, it must be owned he had provocations.  A party of social propagandists came to Newcastle, whom he entertained, as they had never been entertained before, at a cost of hundreds of pounds, and was at great expense to give publicity to their objects.  They left him to defray some bills they had the means of paying.  Years later, when they came again into the district, he did no more for them in the former way.  He had conceived a distrust of them.  Another time he was asked by persons whom he was willing to aid, to buy some premises for them, as they would be prejudiced at the auction if they appeared in person.  Mr. Cowen bought the property for £5,000  They changed their minds when it was bought, and left Mr. Cowen, who did not want it, with it upon his hands.  He did not resent it, as he might have done, but it was an act of meanness which would have revolted the heart of an archangel of human susceptibility.

    When the British Association first carne to Newcastle, Mr. Cowen spent more than £500 in giving publicity to their proceedings.  He brought a railway carriage full of writers and reporters from London, that the proceedings of every section should be made known to the public.  He had personal notices written of all the principal men of science who came there, and when he asked for admission of his reporters, he was charged £19 for their tickets.  As I was one of those engaged in the arrangements, I shared his indignation at this scientific greed and ingratitude.  In all the history of the British Association, before and since, it never met with the enthusiasm, the liberality and publicity the Newcastle Chronicle accorded it.

    In the days of the great Italian struggle, little shoals of exiles found their way to England.  Learning where the great friend of Garibaldi dwelt, they found their way to Newcastle, and many were directed there from different parts of England.  Many times he was sent for to the railway station, where a number of destitute exiles had arrived.  He relieved their immediate wants and had them provided for at various lodgings, until they were able to get some situation elsewhere.  I think Mr. Cowen began to tire of this, as he thought exiles were sometimes sent to him by persons who ought to have taken part of the responsibility themselves, but who seemed to consider that his was the purse of the Continent.

William Edward Forster
(1818-86)

    Once when Mr. Cowen attended a political conference in Leeds, he received as he entered the room marked attention, as he was known to be the leader of the Liberal forces of Durham and Northumberland.  But Mr. W. E. Forster, who was present, took no notice of him, though Mr. Cowen had rendered him great political service.  When Mr. Bright saw Mr. Cowen he cordially greeted him.  Immediately Mr. Forster, seeing this, stepped up also and offered him compliments, which Mr. Cowen received very coldly without returning them, and passed away to his seat.  Mr. Cowen's impression was that as Mr. Forster had suffered him to pass by without recognition, he did not want to know him before that assembly; but when Mr. Forster saw Mr. Bright's welcome of his friend, he was willing to know him.  Mr. Forster, as I had reason to know afterwards, was capable of such an action, where recognition stood in the way of his interests, [47] but it was not so on this occasion.  Mr. Forster was short-sighted, and simply did not see Mr. Cowen when he first passed him.  But it happened that he did see him when Mr. Bright stepped forward to speak to him, and there was no slight of Mr. Cowen intended.  Yet from that hour Mr. Cowen entertained a contempt for Mr. Forster, and would neither meet him nor speak to him.  One day Mr. Cowen and I were at a railway station, where Mr. Forster appeared in his volunteer uniform.  We had to wait some time for the train.  Mr. Cowen asked me to walk with him as far as we could from where Mr. Forster stood, that we should not pass near him.  Some years later, at the House of Commons, Mr. Forster asked Mr. Cowen to walk with him in the Green Park, as he wished to speak with him.  After two hours Mr. Cowen returned reconciled.  He never told me the cause of it, which he should have done, as I had taken his part in the long years of resentment.  I relate the incident as showing how personal misconception produces political estrangement in persons and parties alike.


 
CHAPTER XXVIII.

CHARACTERISTICS OF JOSEPH COWEN

-II-


BUT the act which most wounded him occurred at the Elswick works of Lord Armstrong.  Mr. Cowen was returning one day in his carriage at a time of political excitement.  Some of the crowd threw mud upon his coach, and, if I remember rightly, broke the windows.  Just before, when the workmen were on strike, they went to Mr. Cowen—as all workmen in difficulties did.  He found they did not know their own case, nor how to put it.  He employed legal aid to look into the whole matter and make a statement of it.  Mr. Cowen became their negotiator, and obtained a decision in their favour.  The whole expense he incurred on their behalf was £150.  Services of this kind, which had been oft rendered, should have saved him from public contumely at their hands.  At that time Mr. Cowen was giving the support of his paper against Liberalism, which he had so long defended and commended, which was an incentive to the outrage.  Still, the sense of gratitude for the known services rendered to workers, which he continued irrespective of his change of opinion, should have saved him from all personal disrespect.

    The subjection of the Liberals in Newcastle in the days of his early career, and the arrogant defamation with which it was assailed, were what determined him to create a defiant power in its self-defence.

    He bought the Newcastle Chronicle, an old Whig paper.  He published it in Grey Street, afterwards in St. Nicholas' Buildings, and then in Stephenson Place, on premises now known as the Chronicle Buildings.  The printing machines at first cost £250 each, then £450.  The Chronicle Buildings were purchased for £6,000, and a similar sum was expended in adapting them for their new purposes.  The site is the finest in Newcastle.  The printing machines now cost £6,000 to £7,000.  Each machine is provided in duplicate, so that if one side of the press-room broke down, the other side could be instantly set in motion.  Once I made a short speech in the town, which was reported, set up, cast, and an edition of the paper containing the speech was on sale within little more than twenty minutes.  The office above the great press-room, in which the public transact business with the paper, is the costliest, handsomest, Grecian interior know of connected with any newspaper buildings.  What perseverance and confidence must have animated Mr. Cowen in the enterprise, is shown in the fact that he had sunk £40,000 in it before it began to pay.  [48]  He made the Chronicle, as he intended to make it, the leading political power in Durham and Northumberland.  The leaders he wrote in its columns after he left Parliament were unequalled in all the press of England for vividness, eloquence, and variety of thought.  There could be no greater proof of the dominancy of Mr. Cowen's mind, than his establishment and devotion to the Chronicle.

    I had been a party several years to negotiating with candidates to stand for Newcastle, whose public expenses Mr. Cowen paid.  I obtained the consent of the Liberals of York, that Mr. Layard, whom they considered pledged to them, should become a candidate at Newcastle.  "Why should you?" I said one day to Mr. Cowen, "incur these repeated costs for the candidature of others, when you can command a seat in your own family for three generations.  If you will not be a candidate, why should not your father?"  The conversation ended by his agreeing that I might persuade his father to go to Parliament if I could.  It was in vain that I assured him that the seat was open to him, but he did not believe, nor wish to believe it.  I several times saw his father at Stella Hall.  He thought himself too old.  I told him there were fifty gentlemen in the House of Commons, willing to become Prime Minister, and some of them waiting for the appointment, who were fifteen years older than he, and would be disappointed did not the chance come to them.  He found this true when he at length entered the House.  His objection was that he could not ask his neighbours, among whom he had lived all his days, to elect him.  "Suppose they signed an undertaking to vote for you in case you came forward?"  That he consented to consider.  A requisition signed by 2,178 electors was sent to him.  Then another difficulty arose.  His son said: "I cannot support my father in the Chronicle." [49]  Then I said, "Let me edit it during the election, and no line shall appear commending your father to the electors.  But whatever pretensions his adversaries put forth, we will examine."  My proposal was agreed to.  It was alleged by the rival candidate, that the requisition was signed out of courtesy to a popular towns man, and did not mean that those who signed it had pledged their votes.  To this I answered that when Chambers appeared on the Thames, bookmakers said, "Chambers is a Newcastle man, who never sells the honour of his town, but will win if he can."  Is it to be true that a Newcastle elector would not only give his promise, but write it, without intending to keep it?  Will he be true on the Thames and false on the Tyne?  All the requisitionists save a few, whom sickness or misadventure kept from the poll, voted for Joseph Cowen, senior, who was elected by a large majority.

    The great services to the town of the new member by his arduous chairmanship of the Tyne Commission, would have insured his election, but his majority was no doubt increased by the popularity of his son. This did not escape the comment of local politicians, and Mr. Lowthian Bell said, " How is it, Mr. Cowen, that everybody votes for your father for your sake? I suppose it is," was the answer, "that while you have been sitting on winter nights with your feet on the rug by the fireside, I have been addressing pitmen's meetings in colliery villages, and finding my way home late at night in rain and blast ; and it happens that they are grateful for it." This was the only time I knew Mr. Cowen to make a self-assertive reply.

    When Mr. Cowen's father was in the field, and Mr. Beaumont began his canvass, in one street he met with forty-nine refusals to vote for him.  "Why will you not vote for me?" he asked.  "We are going to vote for Mr. Coon, now," as his name was pronounced at the Tyneside. "But you have two votes," Mr. Beaumont said; "you can give me one."  No! if we had twenty votes we should give them all to Mr. Coon.  When Chambers and Clasper make a £100 match for the honour of the Tyne, and we cannot make up the money, Mr. Coon always makes it up for us, and when we win and go to repay him, he gives it to us."  This was not a patriotic reason to give for voting for "Mr. Coon," but it showed gratitude, as well as Mr. Cowen's influence, and what a hold his kindness to the people had given him upon their affection.  Thus they voted for the father from regard for the son.  For in those days the son had no idea of Parliament himself, and votes were not in his thoughts.

    Nothing could be more open or gentlemanly than Mr. Cowen in the contests to which he was a party.  Mr. Somerset Beaumont was member for Newcastle, and he impressed Mr. Gladstone with a high sense of his capacity in Parliament.  One morning, as Mr. Beaumont and Mr. Cowen came into Newcastle in the same train, Mr. Cowen said to him, "You know, Mr. Beaumont, we all like you personally, but you do not go far enough for us.  We want a more Radical representative for Newcastle.  We shall prevent your election next time if we can, but only if we have a more advanced candidate.  Otherwise we will countenance no opposition to you."

    Who could foresee the day would come when—save Mr. Cowen—the noblest candidate Newcastle ever had (Mr. John Morley) would be opposed by Mr. Cowen in the interests of Toryism?  Or that, after withstanding at the hustings when he became a candidate, and defeating furious collusions between Tories, Conservatives, Moderates, publicans, and all who had vicious interests to serve or spite to gratify, Mr. Cowen himself would one day be found aiding or abetting the same parties by taking their side against Liberalism.

    When in Parliament, his father had misgivings touching Mr. Gladstone, who, he thought, passed him at times without recognition.  He had conducted Mr. Gladstone down the Tyne in triumph, and his son had assembled 200,000 persons on the Moor, who were addressed from twenty platforms in support of Mr. Gladstone, and provided reporters and published all the speeches.  The cost of this was one of a hundred contributions he made in the interest of Liberalism.  I used to explain that Mr. Gladstone, intent upon great questions (he was always intent upon something) he had to explain to the House—he, self-absorbed, would pass by his friends without seeing them, expecting, as he had a right to expect, that devotion to the great trust of the State would be taken to palliate his seeming inattention to friends.

    But Mr. Gladstone was not unmindful of the service rendered to him at Newcastle, and when some time later—no one else thinking of it—I made representations, through Mr. (afterwards Sir) James Stansfeld—without knowledge of Mr. Cower, or his son—I was instructed to inform Mr. Cowen sen., that a baronetcy would be placed at his acceptance.  Mr. Cowen, jun., objected entirely on his own part.  His father therefore only accepted a knighthood, which Her Majesty, from consideration of his years, kindly ordered to be gazetted, obviating his attendance at Court.  All the same, it was Mr. Gladstone's intention to recognise the services of the son as well as the father.

    Honours were not much accessible in those days, especially in uncourtly quarters.  My representation, in suggesting what I did, was, that as personal distinction was conferred upon persons who had made £100,000, something was due to one who may be said to have given that sum to the public. [50]  His chairmanship of the Tyne Commission extended over a period of twenty-four years, during which the Tyne was converted from a creek into a navigable river.  The time and assiduity thus devoted to the service of navigation and trade would have added £100,000 to his fortune.  That his knighthood might be justified in the eyes of his neighbours and his own, I supplied the facts which authorised it to Mr. Walker, who was then editor of the Daily News, and which appeared in his leader columns.  My reason for taking the step I did was a sense of duty to the public, who should see as far as possible that those who rendered service should find acknowledgment of it.  I was of Coleridge's opinion:—


"It seems a message from the world of spirits,
 When any man obtains that which he merits,
 Or any merit that which he obtains."


    On the death of the father, his son, Mr. Joseph Cowen, was elected in his place, as a member for Newcastle; and Parliament being dissolved shortly after, he was again elected by a triumphant majority.

    Mr. Cowen had made more speeches at the Tyneside than any other resident ever did.  But the town was unconscious of their merit.  They were addressed mostly to working men, and to persons whom it was not thought necessary to report or take into account the speaker.  When he became a candidate all classes of persons were among the auditors.  The town was astonished at the relevance and fire of his orations.  I mention this circumstance to show how a man can be famous in one half of the town and not known in the other.

    After his retirement from Parliament and platform he occasionally delivered orations on persons, at inaugurations, which surpassed all I have ever read of the kind, for aptness of phrase, variety of thought and vivid portraiture, which ought to be added to the record of English oratory.  It was not reasonable in him, after the change in his political views, to expect that his townsmen should adopt the new opinions he had begun to countenance, and which he had himself taught them to distrust.  But this is what strong leaders do who suffer the pride of power to become imperious.  A just ambition, which is patient, and will work for results, can as a rule succeed.  It is ambition which is impetuous, and will not wait longer, which lapses into reaction from disappointment.  With all his virtues, Mr. Cowen was impetuous.  To desert a party because of the folly or excesses of portions of its members, would oblige a man to change his profession in politics and his creed in religion every twelve months.

    In his earlier career it may be imagined that Mr. Cowen derived his principles from generous prejudices, in later days from indignant impulses.  Many persons hold by inheritance right principles into whose foundation they have never inquired.  Investigation, if they entered upon it, would confirm their convictions, but not resting on examination, their nobler prepossessions may be displaced by passion.  We all know in religion how vehemently adherents will vindicate questions of which they know only one side, and hold it to be sinful to inquire into the other.  Such persons, when right, are unstable and liable to variableness under the glamour of unknown ideas.  Mr. Cowen was well informed on Liberal principles and never took to Conservative views, and, save in antagonism, did not assist them.

    The bent of his mind to paramountcy in ideas was shown in the extraordinary requirements he made, that Mr. Morley should disown the political friends who had invited him to Newcastle, and become the candidate of the Chronicle.  Mr. Morley answered, "I will not do it, and that is flat."  Then Mr. Cowen resolved that this refusal should cost him his seat, and ultimately he effected it, not from Conservative resentment, but from pride.  Had Mr. Morley consented to this condition he would have remained member for Newcastle, supported with all the force of Mr. Cowen's splendid advocacy.  Mr. Cowen always remained true to Home Rule for Ireland.  But, as we have seen done in the case of others in Parliament, he assailed every one who held it not under his inspiration.

    Mr. Cowen was naturally noble, and resentment never made him mean, but like any one to whom compliance with his essential convictions is a necessity of his mind, he was apt to regard non-concurring persons as better out of the way.  He would not destroy them, but they were no longer objects of his solicitude.

    Everybody who did not take this into account failed to understand Mr. Cowen's career.  He sought nothing for himself—he refused everything offered to him, office included, and accepted no overture made to him.  Whatever opinion he held, to whatever party he allied himself, he might, if he wished, have remained member for Newcastle all his life.  He wanted no place in Parliament; all he wanted was his own way—compliance with his own opinions.  He had no ambition in the ordinary sense—he had no sinister end to serve, and it was always his preference to promote liberty and progress, generosity and good faith in public affairs.

    Conforming to no conventionality, never entering society, nor accepting any invitation to do it, in his attention to his collieries, his ships, his firebrick works, manufactory, newspaper and public meetings, he was occupied from early morning until late at night, without rest and without hurry.  He was never exhausted and was never still.  One evening he lay down on his sofa, fell asleep, and none around him knew that he was dead.

    It would astonish the reader—were they all narrated—the considerable undertakings which he conducted and carried through at the same time.  He was a great man of business, and had the management of heaven been consigned to him as a pleasure resort, he would have made it pay eventually.  He was an apostle, not an apostate, but his apostleship was of his own ideas.  He was no apostate of his party.  Had he been in the celestial world when Lucifer revolted, Mr. Cowen might have aided Satan, from motives of resentment at being denied, by certain dissentient cherubim, ascendency himself.  But he would never have joined the fallen angels, nor, as we have seen other politicians do, officially engage in their work, or identify himself with them.


 
CHAPTER XXIX.

THE PERIL OF SCRUPLES


AN outlaw is seldom considered a pleasant person, and naturally occupies a dubious place in public estimation.  His position is worse than that of an exile, who, if once allowed to return, is reinstated in society, but the outlaw of opinion is never pardoned.  Where justice turns upon the hinge of the oath, there is no redress for him who has scruples as to taking it.  He who has scruples exposes himself to unpleasant comments.  He is counted a sort of fastidious crank.  All the while it is known that a man without scruples is a knave, who respects nothing save his own interests, and will do anything likely to promote them—even to the commission of robbery or murder—as police-courts disclose.  To be scrupulous is to be solicitous as to the rightfulness of a thing proposed to be done.  It is plainly the interest of society to encourage those who act upon honest scruples.  Scruples may be trivial or unfounded—they may be open to objection on that account.  Nevertheless, the habit of being scrupulous is to be tolerated as conducive to integrity, without which society would be insufferable.  It is therefore not desirable that perils should accompany scrupulousness, as I have often seen them do.

    The obligatory oath has always been detrimental to public morality.  When one oath was imposed on all persons, it was repugnant to their individual sense of truth in many cases, and men, to protect their interests, began to tamper with veracity, and invent new meanings of the terms of the oath.  Thus the fortunate fastidiousness of truth is broken down.

    The Christian oath is an ecclesiastical device, framed in the interest of the Church, to enforce, under penalty, the recognition and perpetuation of its tenets.  He who takes the oath professes to believe that if he breaks it "God will blast his soul in hell for ever."  This is the old brutal, terrifying form in which the consequence was expressed.  It is softened now, to suit the secular humanity of the age, to a statement that God will hold the oath-taker responsible for its fulfilment.  But God's method of holding any one responsible, is by sentencing him to "outer darkness," where there will be "wailing and gnashing of teeth."  A very unpleasant region to dwell in.  There is no good ground to suppose that such a sentence for such an offence would be passed, but the intimidation is retained.  Mr. Cluer, a London magistrate, said lately that "if the fate of Ananias befel all who swore falsely in his court, the floor would be strewn with dead bodies."  But the courts fall back upon the pristine meaning of the oath.  The magistrate asks a little child, tendered as a witness, "whether she knows, if she does not tell the truth, where she will go to?" and whether she "has never heard of a place called hell or of its keeper, the devil?"  If not, he publicly deplores the neglect of the child's education, and declares her to be incapable of telling the truth.  Every one who took the oath, whether rich or poor, a philosopher or a fool, each professed to believe that the Great God of all the worlds, notwithstanding the infinite business He has on hand, was personally present in any dingy court when the oath-taker calls upon Him "to witness" that he speaks the truth, and if not, God, who never forgets, burdens His celestial memory with that fact, with a view to eternal retaliation, in case the oath is false.  He who takes the oath and does not believe this, lies to begin with, whatever may be the character of his testimony.

    To take the oath in any other sense than that in which it is administered to you, is to deceive the court.


"He who imposes the oath, makes it.
 Not he, who for convenience takes it."


    The reliance on the part of those who impose the oath, is that he who takes it believes the terms of it.  If the taker takes it in a private sense of his own, the virtue has gone out of the oath, and the court is deceived.  If the Unitarian takes the oath, not believing in an avenging God, he creates a new oath for himself, in which the compelling power of an eternal terror is absent.  He, therefore, does not take the oath of the court, but another of his own invention; and if he made known to the court what he was doing, the court would not receive his testimony.  Philosophers, who have less belief than Unitarians, take the oath.  But in the eye of morality it is not less discreditable—perhaps more so, for the philosopher stands for absolute truth, while the Unitarian stands only for theological truth.

    The trouble was that he who refuses to take the oath of the court, in the sense of the court, became an outlaw, and that was a serious thing.  I was myself an outlaw, until I was fifty-two years of age, without the power of obtaining redress where I was wronged, or of punishing fraud or theft from which I suffered, or of protecting the life and property of others, where my evidence was required.  My ambition was to be a barrister, but legal friends assured me that the law turned upon the hinge of oath-taking, and that the path of the Bar would to me be a path of lying.  It happens that I have never taken an oath.  When I found that my belief did not coincide with that implied by the oath, I felt precluded from taking it.

    This reluctance brought me peril.  When the question of a Parliamentary oath in Lord Randolph Churchill's days raged, a new doctrine was set up among some partisans of Freethought—that an Atheist might take the oath.  That meant there was no longer any distinction in terms, or any meaning in principle.  If an Atheist may, for the sake of some advantage before him, make a Christian profession, there is no reason why a Christian should not make an Atheistical profession if it answered his purpose.  The apostles made quite a mistake by incurring martyrdom for conscience sake.  Bruno, Servitus, and Tyndale need not have gone to the stake, had they only understood that the way to advance the truth was to abandon it, instead of standing to it.  If a man is not to stand by the truth when the consequences are against him, there is an end of truth as a principle.  It is no longer a duty to suffer for it and maintain it.

    It seemed to me that the friends of reason, who rejected theological tenets, should be as scrupulous as to the truth as partisans of superstition have often proved themselves to be, and that the Atheist should have as clear a sense of intellectual honour as the Quaker, the Catholic, or the Jew; who all suffered rather than take an oath contrary to their sense of truth.  This was regarded as a reflection upon some excellent colleagues of mine, who thought it fatuity to allow an oath to stand in their way, and frustrate their career.

    It was brought against me that there were circumstances under which I should be as little scrupulous as other people.  Major Bell, who had incurred great peril in India for the sake of honour, put a question to me in the Daily News purporting that, "Had I married before 1837 I should not have hesitated at twice invoking the Trinity as the Church service required?"  And if I had done so, "should I not have perpetrated a piece of hypocrisy?"  There is an immoral maxim that "All things are fair in love and war," and it is probable that I should not have hesitated to perpetrate that "piece of hypocrisy," as it would have been the lesser of two evils, but it would not, therefore, cease to be an evil.  If under any compulsion of love or war I was induced to perpetrate "a piece of hypocrisy," it would never occur to me to go about saying it was not hypocrisy.  I dislike law, custom, or persons who force me to do what I know to be wrong, but no person could do his worst against me, until he prevailed upon me to go about saying it was right.

    Dr. Moncure Conway asked whether, if his life was in danger in China, and I could save it by the Chinese oath of breaking a saucer, I would not do it?  Certainly I would, to save Dr. Conway, if the Confucians would permit me, but I should not the less deceive them by pretending to have sworn before them in the Chinese sense.  But I should regret the necessity, since in no country would I willingly treat truth as a superstition.  By taking the "saucer" oath, I should obtain in Chinese eyes a validity for my word not really belonging to it.  However I might excuse the act, it would still be deceit, nor ought it to be called by any other name.  There is no virtuous vagueness in unveracity, and he who in peril uses it would not be justified in carrying it into common life, where Lord Bacon has warned us, "Truth is so useful, that we should make public note of any departure from that excellent habit."  Major Evans Bell further argued that because the Prince of Wales may sign himself my "obedient, humble servant," while not feeling himself bound to act so, the terms of the oath may be likewise regarded as a form of words merely.  Yet all "forms" which are unreal are unwise and hurtful.  But the superscription of the Prince is known to be but a false form, and accepted as such, while the oath is a profession of faith.  If the Prince went into a public court and swore in the name of God that he really was my "obedient, humble servant," I should think him a very shabby Prince if the solemnity went for nothing.  As I have known Major Bell expose himself to what his friends believed to be fatal peril, from a noble sense of self-imposed duty, to which neither oath, nor contract, nor any conventional superscription called him, I no more imagine him than I did Dr. Conway, to really mean what their arguments seemed to imply.

    Some are for the spirit more than the form.  I was for both, and I regard all legislation as immoral which divorces them.  Referring to these letters, the Daily News (December 23, 1881) regarded them as "marked by rectitude of moral judgment, which is recognised by those who most deplore what they think is theological aberration.  Some such testimony as he gives was almost needed to efface the impression which recent events in and out of the House of Commons have made, that moral indifferentism is of necessity associated with religious negation."  I was glad of those words at a time when I was fiercely assailed for saying what I did, in the midst of the Parliamentary contest which then occupied the attention of the country.  My object was to assist the right in the contest, and to defend the Free Thought cause.  Had I not spoken then, it would have been in vain to speak afterward.  To be silent about principle in the hour of its application would have been fatal to its influence and repute, so far as it might be represented by me.

    As far as in my power lay, I left no uncertainty in the mind of Parliament as to what was wanted, in lieu of the oath.  It was simply a "promise of honour," to declare the truth in matters of testimony, and observe good faith in contracts.  One of my petitions to the House of Commons ran thus:—


"Your petitioner is a person who never took an oath, as it implied theological convictions he did not hold.  He, however, has seen persons of far greater knowledge than he possesses, of high social position and authority, and whose example men look up to, take the oath, though it was known to all that they held no belief corresponding thereunto—the opprobrium and outlawry attending the refusal of the oath being more than they would incur.  This has led to a practice of public prevarication, that of persons saying a thing and not meaning it, or meaning something else.  Nowhere is this example more disastrous than in your High Assembly, where anything said is conspicuous and its example influential on the conduct of others."


    Another petition so interested Professor J. E. Thorold Rogers, M.P. (who had held holy orders), that he had copies made of it, and sent one with a letter to each morning paper, saying he regarded it as expressing the "quintessence of political morality."  The petition set forth:—


    "That it is at all times important that public declarations should be so expressed that any one making them shall be able to say what he means, and mean what he says.  In these days, when popular instruction is being advanced by national schools, it is yet more desirable that no public declaration should be exacted, the terms of which are unmeaning or untrue to those who make it, inasmuch as such declaration deteriorates the wholesome habit of national veracity, and is of the nature of a fraud upon the public understanding, which becomes more repugnant as general intelligence increases.

    "Your petitioner respectfully submits that the present Parliamentary oath is open to these objections so long as it is obligatory upon all members, irrespective of whatever personal and private beliefs they may hold.

    "Your petitioner, therefore, prays, in the interests of public good faith, that a form of affirmation may be adopted, optional to all members of Parliament, instead of the present ecclesiastical oath."


    Francis Place once explained to me that in the Benthamite view, it was not warrantable to incur martyrdom unless it was clear that the public would be gainers by the martyr's loss.  In a letter, Mr. J. S. Mill, in answer to questions I put to him with regard to taking an oath, wrote:—


"I conceive that when a bad law has made the oath a condition to the performance of a public duty, it may be taken without dishonesty by a person who acknowledges no binding force in the religious part of the formality.  Unless (as in your own case) he has made it the special and particular work of his life to testify against such formalities, and against the belief with which they are connected."


    I could not concur with this view.  Personal candour is far-reaching in its effects, and should be cherished where we can, and as far as we can.  Truth is to the life of the mind what air is to the life of the body.  When the mind ceases to breathe truth, the mind is impaired or dies.

    It is necessary to add the grounds which actuated me in endeavours to put an end to the outlawry of opinion.  Many beside myself helped to obtain a law of affirmation, but I was the only person among them all who had never taken an oath.  Sir George Cornewall Lewis demanded in Parliament how the oath could be a vital grievance to Atheists, whose throats were furrowed with swallowing it.  When summoned on the grand jury at Clerkenwell I refused to take the oath in the sense the court attached to it, and I was fined twelve guineas for not taking it.  I drew up a paper showing the privileges given by the law to those who were honestly unable to swear.  They were exempted from the militia, from the duty of acting as special constable, they could procure the acquittal of any thief, fraudulent person, or murderer, where their evidence was necessary to conviction.  In some cases the thief has escaped, and the person robbed has been imprisoned instead, for his contumacy in not lying.  It became known among thieves that where they could find out a witness against them, who disbelieved in an avenging God, the counsel defending the thief had only to call the attention of the court to the fact for the witness to be ordered "to stand down," and the thief would "leave the court without a stain on his character."  Mr. Francis, in his "History of the Bank of England," relates how Turner, whose fraud amounted to £10,000 escaped, because the only witness who could swear decidedly to his handwriting, was a disbeliever in the New Testament.  The jury returned a verdict of "Not guilty."

    Sir John Trelawny told me that the fly-leaves I published on the " Privileges of Sceptics and the Immunity of Thieves " made more impression upon members of Parliament than any petition sent to the House. These and similar services, with my lifelong refusal to take the oath, caused John Stuart Mill to write to me, saying : " It is a great triumph of freedom of opinion that the Evidence Bill should have passed both Houses without being seriously impaired. You may justly take to yourself a good share of the credit of having brought things up to that pass." [51]

    These instances will no doubt satisfy the reader as to the peril of entertaining scruples in the face of power.  The earliest instance which concerned me was a case in Birmingham in which several thousand pounds were left for the establishment of a secular school which I was to conduct.  Not being willing to take the oath, I could not prosecute my claim.  When a son of mine was killed by the recklessness of a driver, I could not give evidence on the inquest because I could not be sworn.  My private house was thrice robbed by servants who became aware of my inability to prosecute.  When in business in Fleet Street, my property could be carted away, for which I had no remedy save lying in wait and knocking down the depredators, which would at the Mansion House have led to a public scandal and injured the business.  Money was left to me which I could not claim, being an outlaw.

    It would tire the reader to tell him all the instances of the perils attending scruples.  Mr. Roebuck put the case in the House of Commons against Sir George Cornewall Lewis.  Pointing his finger at Sir George, he asked, "What is the right honourable gentleman going to do?  Two men go into court.  One disbelieves in the oath, but he takes it.  The other takes the peril of outlawry rather than profess a faith which he does not hold.  You believe the liar, whom you know to be a liar, and you reject the evidence of the man who speaks the truth at his peril."  I had asked Mr. Roebuck to speak when the question of affirmation was before the House.  There were then only he, Sir John Trelawny, or Mr. Conyngham to whom such a question could be put.  It was upon Mr. Roebuck that I mostly relied.  After his speech I thanked him for doing what no one else could do so well.  He disclaimed any desert of thanks, saying, "I have only done what Jeremy Bentham taught me."


 
CHAPTER XXX.

TAKING SIDES


EVERY ONE of manly mind, every person of thought and determination, takes sides upon important questions.  Those who say they are indifferent which side prevails, are indifferent whether good or evil comes uppermost.  Those who are afraid to choose a side, command only the cold respect accorded to cowardice.  Those who sit upon a fence to see which side is likely to prevail before they jump down, are not seeking the success of a principle, but their own interests.  In most questions—as in business—there is a side of honesty and a side of fraud.  Some do not take either separately, thinking they can better take both at discretion.  If they profit by their dexterous duplicity, they command no regard.  Some persons have no fervour for the right, and would rather see the wrong prevail than take the trouble to prevent it.  They would be on the side of truth altogether if it gave them no discomfort, and caused them no outlay.  They belong to the large Laodicean lukewarm class, of whom he who sought their allegiance said he would "spue them out of his mouth."  Not a pleasant simile, but it is not mine.  It shows that no one is enthusiastic about those who are undecided where decision interferes with advancement.

    If the selfish, or the politic, or the supine do not care to take sides with right, they have no cause to complain if the triumph of wrong involves them in discredit or disaster.  But whatever be their fate, I am not concerned with them.  What I am concerned with is the omission of all information of what may follow to him who shall take the right side.  These consequences ought never to be out of sight.

    It is too often forgotten that in this world virtue has its price as well as vice, and neither can be bought cheap.  Vice can be bought on the "hire system," by which a person gets into debt pleasantly—which introduces shiftlessness into life.  Wrong is a money-lender, whose concealed charges and heavy interest have to be paid one day at the peril of ruin.  Right doing may be said to pay as it goes along, which implies conscience, effort, and often sacrifice of some immediate pleasure.  But independence lies that way, and no other.  Right principle incurs no deferred obligation.  Debt is a chain by which the debtor binds himself to some one else.  The connection may be disregarded but the chain can never be broken, except by restitution.  Many persons are beguiled into doing right under the impression that it is as pleasant as doing wrong.  This is not so, and the concealment of the fact has injurious consequences.  When a person who has been, as it were, betrayed into virtue, without being instructed as to the inconvenience which may attend it, when he encounters them, he suspects he has been imposed upon, and thinks he had better give vice a turn.  It was this that made Huxley declare that the hardest as well as the most useful lesson a man could learn, was to do that which he ought to do, whether he liked it or not.  Character, which can be trusted, comes that way, and that way alone.  He who enters on that path reaps reward daily in the pleasure and strength which duty imparts, while sooner or later follow advantage and honour.  The most useful character George Eliot drew was that of Tito, who was wrecked because he had no sense that there was strength and safety in truth.  The only strength he trusted to lay in his ingenuity and dissimulation.  The world is pretty full of Titos, who all come to one end, and nobody mourns them.

    A few instances may be relevantly given in which rightness has been attended by disadvantages, when wrongness appeared to have none—yet wrongness was found to bring great unpleasantness in the end.

    When there were petitions before the House of Commons to change the oath which excluded Jews, and petitions to permit persons to make affirmations who had conscientious objections to taking an oath, it was represented to me that if both claims were kept before Parliament at the same time both would be rejected.  The Jewish claim was the older, and concerned the enfranchisement of a race.  I therefore caused the omission for several years of any petition for affirmation—though my disability of being unable to take the oath excluded me from justice and rendered me an outlaw.

    When the Jews had obtained their relief, Sir Julian Goldsmid, a Jew, became a candidate at Brighton.  Mr. Matthews, a political friend of mine in the town, went to Sir Julian and asked whether, as Mr. Holyoake and those of his way of thinking had deferred their claim for affirmation that the Jews might become eligible for Parliament, would he vote for the Affirmation Bill?  He said, "No! he would not."  Mr. Matthews then wrote to ask me whether he and others who were in favour of Affirmation should vote for Sir Julian.  I answered, "Certainly, if he in other respects was the best candidate before the constituency.  However strongly we might be persuaded our own claim was just, we had no right to prefer it to the general interest of the State."

    Speaking one night with Mr. John Morley when we both happened to be guests of Mr. Chamberlain at Highbury, Birmingham, I remarked that Cobden and Bright, without intending it, had introduced more immorality into politics than any other politicians in my time.  Mr. Morley naturally demanded to be informed when, and in what way.  I answered, "When they advised electors to vote for any candidate, irrespective of their political opinion, who would vote against the Corn Laws.  This incited every party to vote for its own hand—the priest for the church, the brewers for the barrel, and the teetotalers for the teapot, the anti-vaccinators for those who were against the lancet.  Even women proposed to vote for any candidate who would give them the suffrage, regardless whether they put out a Ministry of Progress and put in a Ministry of Reaction.  This was ignoring the general good in favour of a personal measure.  The error of the great Anti-Corn Law advocates lay in their not making it plain to the country that when the population were deteriorating and dying from want of sufficient food, politics must give way to the claims of existence.  That was the justification of Cobden and Bright, and had it been stated, smaller politicians with narrower aims could never then have pleaded their example for crowding the poll with rival claims in which the larger interests of the State are forgotten.  Like Bacon's maxim that speaking the truth was so excellent a habit, that any departure from that wholesome rule should be noted."  The Anti-Corn Law League election policy needed noting.

    However many instances may be given of the kind before the reader, the moral will be the same.  Taking sides involves some penalty which enthusiasts are apt to overlook, and when it arrives ruddy eagerness is apt to turn pale and change into ignoble prudence.  Taking the side of honesty or fraud, unpleasantness may come.  But on the side of right the consciousness of integrity mitigates regret and commands respect; while the penalties of deceit are intensified by shame and scorn.  Many think there is safety in a judicious mixture of good faith and bad, but when the bad is discerned, distrust and contempt are the unevadable consequences.  Besides, it takes more trouble to conceal a sinister life than to act uprightly.  It is true, an evil policy often succeeds, but the interest of society is to take care that he who does evil shall be overtaken by evil.  As this sentiment grows, the chances of illicit success continually decrease.  Rascality—refined or coarse—would have fewer adherents if society took as much trouble to secure that the rightdoer shall prosper, as it takes to render the career of the knave precarious.

    The point of importance, I repeat, is—that persons should remember, or be taught to remember, that the course of right, like the course of wrong, is attended by consequences.  Many who are honourably attracted by the right are disappointed at finding that it has its duties as well as its pleasures—which, had they known at first, they would have made up their minds to do them; but not being apprised of them, when they first encounter inconvenience, they think they have been deceived, falter, and sometimes turn from a noble course upon which they had entered.  Any one would think there was no great peril to be encountered by taking sides with veracity.  Let him avoid the sin of pretension, and see what will happen.

    The sin I referred to is not the common one of declaring that to be true which you know to be untrue—that has long been known by an appropriate name, and does not require any new epithet to denote its scandalousness.  The sin of pretension in question consists in assuming, or declaring that to be true, which one does not know to be true.  Years ago this was a very common sin, and everybody committed it.  You heard it in the pulpit more frequently than on the stage.  Nobody complained of it, or rebuked it, or resented it.  It was not until the middle of the last century that public attention was drawn to it.  It was Huxley who first raised the question of intellectual veracity, and he devised the term Agnostic (which merely means limitation) to express it.  Limitationism does not mean disbelief, but the limitation of assertion to actual knowledge.  The theist used to declare—without misgiving—the absolute certainty of the existence of an independent, active Entity, to whom Nature is second-hand, and not much at that.  The anti-theist—also without misgiving—denied that there was such separate Potentiality.  The Limitationist, more modest in averment, not having sufficient information to be positive, simply says he does not know.  He does not say that others may not have sufficient knowledge of a primal cause of things; but lacking it himself, he concludes that veracity in statement may be a virtue where omniscience is denied.  There may be belief founded on inference.  But inference is not knowledge.  The Limitationist withholds assertion from lack of satisfying evidence.  He is neutral not because he wishes not to believe, or desires to deny, but because serious language should be measured by the standard of proof and conviction.

Thomas Henry Huxley
(1825-95)

   So strange did this precaution in speech seem in my time, that it was believed that reticence was not honest precaution, but prudent concealment of actual conviction, intended to evade orthodox anger.  On problems relating to infinite existence and an unknown future, it requires infinite knowledge to give an affirmative answer.  No one said he had infinite information, but everybody declaimed as though he had.  It appeared not to have occurred to many that there was a state of the understanding in which lack of conviction was owing to lack of evidence.  Where the desire to believe is hereditary, it is difficult to realise that there are questions upon which certainty may, to many minds, be unattainable, and that an honest man who felt this was bound to say so.  An American journal, which needed forbearance from its readers for its own heresy, published the opinion that Huxley was a "dodger" in philosophy.  Whereas Huxley was for integrity in thought and speech.  He was for scientific accuracy as far as attainable.  His own outspokenness was the glory of philosophy and science in his day.  He never denied his convictions; he never apologised for them; he never explained them away.  Is it over his noble tomb that we are to write, "Here lies a Dodger," because he invented an honest term to denote the measured knowledge of honest thinkers?  Dogmatism is not demonstration, but when I was young nobody seemed to suspect it.  It used to be said that "Darwin, Huxley, and Spencer were not really in a state of unknowingness concerning the great problem of the universe"—which meant that these eminent thinkers, upon whose lives no shadow of unveracity ever rested, described themselves as Limitationists when they were not so.  They were not to be believed upon their word.  The term was a mask.  Such are the social penalties for taking sides with veracity.

    The public has begun to discover that veracity of speech is not a mask, but a duty.  None can calculate the calamities which arise in society from the perpetual misdirections disseminated by those who make assertions resting merely upon their inherited belief or prepossessions, with no personal knowledge upon which they are founded.  This is the sin of pretension, which recedes before the integrity of science and reason, just as wild beasts recede before the march of civilisation.

    Few would be prepared to believe that, in my polemical days, the desire to avoid committing the sin of pretension was supposed to indicate desperation of character, of which suicide would be the natural end.  This was a favourite argument, for a heterodox principle was held to be for ever confuted, if he who held it hanged himself.  The best proclaimed champion of orthodox tenets, whom I met on many platforms, went about declaring that I intended suicide, and it was generally believed that I had committed it.  The certainty of it, sooner or later, was little doubted, whereas it was not at all in my way.

    The suicide of Eugene Aram, to escape the ignominy of an inevitable execution, is intelligible.  If Blanco White, whose dying and hopeless sufferings excited the sympathy even of Cardinal Newman, had done the same thing, it would have been condonable.  Suicide proceeding from disease of the mind is always pitiable.  When Italian prisoners were given belladonna by their Austrian gaolers, to cause them to betray, unconsciously, their comrades, some committed suicide to prevent this, which was honourable though deplorable.  When a murderer, knowing his desert, becomes his own executioner, he is not censurable though still infamous, since it saves society the expense of terminating his dangerous career.  But in other cases, self-slaughter, to avoid trouble or the performance of inconvenient duty, is cowardly and detestable.

    In my controversial days (which I hope are not yet ended) the clergy did not hesitate to say that if a man began to think for himself, he would end by killing himself.

    When I thought the doctrine had died out, an instance recurred which led me to address the following letter to the Rev. R. P. Downes, LL.D. (May 18, 1899), who thought the doctrine valid:—


DEAR DR. DOWNES,—It has been reported to me that in Wesley Place Chapel, Tunstall (March 20, 1899), you, when preaching on the 'Roots of Unbelief,' illustrated that troublesome subject by saying that 'when Mr. Holyoake was imprisoned at Birmingham, he attempted suicide.'  This is not true, nor was it in Birmingham, but in Gloucester where the imprisonment occurred.  I never attempted suicide—it was never in my mind to do it.  I had no motive that way.  I experienced no moment of despair.  Better men than I had been imprisoned before, for being so imprudent as to protest against intolerance and error.  Besides, I never liked suicide.  I was always against it.  Blowing out your brains makes an ill-conditioned splatter.  Cutting your throat is a detestable want of consideration for those who have to efface the stains.  Drowning is disagree able, as the water is cold and not clean.  Hanging is mean and ignominious, and I have always heard unpleasant.  The French charcoal plan makes you sick.  Indeed, every form of suicide shows want of taste; and worse than that, it is a cowardly thing to flee from evils you ought to combat, and leave others, whom you may be bound to cherish and protect, to struggle unaided.  So you see what you allege against me is not only irrelevant—it implies defect of taste, which is serious in the eyes of society, which will condone crime more readily than vulgarity.

    "I am against your discourse because of its bad taste.  Suicide is no argument against the truth of belief.  Christians are continually committing it, and clergymen also.  The Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge used to bring this argument from suicide forward in their tracts against heresy.  But being educated gentlemen they abandoned it long ago, and it is now only used by the lower class of preachers.  I do not mean to suggest that you belong to that class—only that you have condescended to use an argument peculiar to uncultivated reasoners.

    "Personally, I have great respect for several eminent preachers of Wesleyan persuasion, but they think it necessary to inquire into the truth of an accusation before they make it.  You must have borrowed yours from the Rev. Brewin Grant, with whom in his last illness I had friendly communications, and he had long ceased to repeat what he said in days when it was not thought necessary to be exact in imputations against adversaries.

    "I do not remember to have written before in refutation of the statement you made.  No one who knows me would believe it for a moment; but as you are a responsible, and I understand a well-regarded, preacher, I inform you of the error, especially as it gives me the opportunity of putting on record not only my disinclination, but my dislike and contempt for suicide, and for those who, not being hopelessly diseased or insane, commit it."


    Dr. Downes sent me a gentlemanly and candid letter, owning that the Rev. Brewin Grant, B.A., was the authority on which he spoke, whose representations he would not repeat, and I have reason to believe he has not.

    Such are the vicissitudes of taking sides.  He has to pay who takes the right, but he has honour in the end.  But he pays more who takes the wrong side consciously, and with it comes infamy.




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NOTES.

 
47.   Put only where ambition was stronger than his habitual sense of honour.  See chapter lxxix, "Sixty Years."
 
48.   Unwilling that his father or banker should surmise how much he was exhausting his personal resources, he directed me at one time to borrow £500 or £1,000 in London.  It was advanced by a personal friend.
 
49.   This diffidence of appearing as the advocate of his father was carried to excess.  When a local paper made remarks upon his father's knighthood, which ought to have been resented, I set out late one night to Darlington, arriving a little before midnight, and wrote a vindicatory notice, which, by the friendship of Mr. H. K. Spark, was inserted in the Darlington Times that night. It was quoted afterwards in the Newcastle Chronicle.
 
50.   Sir Joseph Cowen was appointed by Act of Parliament, 1850 chairman for life of the Tyne Improvement Commission, an unpaid office.  There was then only six feet of water on the bar at low water spring tides, and twenty-one at high water.  In 1870 there was a depth of twenty feet at low water, and thirty-five at high water; the deepening extending nine miles from the bar.  In twenty years ending 1870 there had been raised thirty-eight million tons.  In 1870 the tonnage of the Tyne had risen from two and a half millions to more than four and a half millions, exceeding by one million that of the Thames.  In 1865 there entered the Tyne port for refuge 132 vessels.  In 1870 558 vessels fled there from the storms of the North Sea.
 
51.   Blackheath Park, Kent, August 8, 1869.

 


 

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