'Sixty Years of an Agitator's Life' (3)
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"Have you bethought you of the tedious days
 And dreary nights of your imprisonment?
 The long endurance, whose monotony
 No tidings come to cheer!  This were the trial!
 It is the detail of blank intervals—
 Of patient sufferance, where no action is,
 That proves our nature.  Have you this thought o'er?"



Richard Carlile

NO.  It did not appear to me to matter.  In a general way I had an impression that imprisonment was unpleasant.  But that seemed no reason for not doing what was right.  The maxim that conscience was higher than consequence always appeared true to me.  Imprisonment was worse in my time than in the days of Leigh Hunt and Carlile.  Hunt had books, flowers, and company.  Pleasant visitors had access to Carlile, who spent hours in his society.  Except through the bars of a gate, I saw no friend.  I was imprisoned in a city far from those to whom I was best known, and few visits were possible.  The first and chief of the visitors was Richard Carlile, who came to tell me of his approval of my defence.  This, from the most intrepid defender of free speech of this century, tended to render me indifferent to the discomfort of my new residence.

    The visiting justice who most interested me was Mr. Bransby Cooper, brother of Sir Astley, the famous surgeon.  He formerly represented Gloucester in Parliament.  He was a man of great stature, great tenderness, great humanity, and, like Lord Byron, a man of tumultuous passion, with a voice like the Plymouth Sound.  Old women would waylay him on his road to the gaol.  He would brandish his stick at them, and drive them away with menaces and threats which could be heard across the city; but though they fled, they returned, for they knew that in the end he would give them all the money he had in his pocket.  He would tell me in his stentorian way, before the other prisoners, that I was "a fool for being an atheist," and end by saying, "I could not be one—I did not look like one, nor speak like one."  His son was chaplain of the gaol.  The old gentleman was very anxious for my conversion, and, had he brought it about, he would no doubt have generously given the credit to his boy.  It was therefore a kind of family speculation that I should be brought to a "state of grace."  Yet when my little daughter died, and her mother wished to bring the surviving one to me, Mr. Bransby Cooper kindly ordered that we should have the use of the magistrates' room for an interview, without the presence of an officer.  This unforeseen consideration—so delicate and trustful—inspired me with real respect for him, which has never departed from my mind.  I would have been converted if I could to gratify him.  One day the governor told me that Mr. Bransby Cooper had said before a meeting of magistrates, at which he had laid some representation of mine, that "he did not believe I could tell a lie," which was very generous in him, considering the prejudice he entertained towards my opinions.  This arose from a prisoner (one Upton) being found smoking.  He said he had brought the tobacco (I had given him) in with him after the trial—probably to save me from being made answerable.  It was some I had upon me in court.  This man, who was in the common room, was subject to fits, which he said tobacco mitigated.  So I gave him some.  It was a reflection upon the vigilance of the officer who received him if tobacco had escaped his notice.  To prevent Ogden, the officer, being wrongfully accused, I sent a note to the governor, saying it was I who had given the tobacco to Upton.  I owned it was a censurable violation of the prison rules, and stated that I should not demur to the consequences.  None ensued.  Probably the authorities were gratified that their officer was vindicated from the suspicion of laxity of vigilance.  The tobacco was given me at the time of my trial, and I was not searched after sentence.

    The Rev. Robert Cooper, the chaplain of the gaol, had the kindly nature, but none of the force of character of his father.  He was merely a regulation clergyman, who believed he had spiritual duties to discharge; but his piety was like cold water—it gave you the discomfort of dampness, and when dry again you were as you were before.  Still I retain respect for him.  He had none of that spite of piety I had hitherto experienced, and he was only disagreeable as a matter of official duty.  A prison is a place of organized brutality, and is so intended.  For a chaplain to speak of "divine love" there is not to understand his business.  A single humane act does more to spiritualize a man than a thousand exhortations without it.

    The Hon. Andrew Sayer was one of the visiting justices.  He was no soldier of the Cross.  He brought me "Paley's Natural Theology," and Leslie's "Short and Easy Method with the Deists," which he asked me to read.  This I promised to do; and that he might satisfy himself that the promise was fulfilled, I said he might examine me in the works afterwards— but he never did.  I wrote pamphlets upon their arguments ("Paley Refuted in his own Words," and "A Short and Easy Method with the Saints") to show that they had received careful attention.

    Another of the visiting justices was the Rev. S. Jones, an aged Wesleyan minister, who appeared deferential to his brother justices, placid in speech, and only ill-mannered professionally.  He would occasionally deliver a little lecture to me, before the other prisoners, on the belief I ought to entertain.  One day he quoted to me the ignorant remark of David, that "the fool hath said in his heart, There is no God."  This is what the fool never does say; the subject being beyond his capacity.  Certainly I had never said it in my heart or otherwise.  It had appeared to me to require infinite knowledge of the universe to affirm or deny that stupendous proposition.  "There," exclaimed Mr. Jones, "you see David says you are a fool."  Whereupon I answered "that I no more admired rudeness in the mouth of David than I did in the mouth of a magistrate."  Every one present heard me say it, and the Reverend Samuel looked amazed, was unable to reply, and never more referred to the subject.

    Before long the magistrates became a more serious trouble to me—probably their version was that I became a trouble to them.  They called upon me to wear the prison dress.  My answer was that "I did not wish to do it."   It was the dress of crime, and as I was no criminal it would be admitting it to wear the dress of crime by my own choice.  In gaol I knew official force must be supreme; therefore, I never said "I would not" do a thing, only that "I did not wish to do it."  Of course they said they should compel me.  In that case my reply was "it would be necessary to dress me every morning, as I might not like to put the dress on myself."  As it was never done, I fancy they thought the trouble of it might be too much for them, or it might be that they were in doubt whether Sir James Graham would sanction it.

    Another trouble soon arose.  When the prayer bell rang the first morning, all the prisoners filed out to chapel, but I remained.  Seeing my allotted place vacant, the chaplain sent the gaoler for me.  I said "it was incredible that the chaplain should send for me.  He knew my imprisonment was owing to my not properly believing in his ministration, and that my voluntary attendance at his chapel would be hypocrisy in me."  The gaoler said "he must carry out his instructions and take me there."  My reply was, "In that case you had better get assistance and carry me, as I do not think I should like to go.  Whether the chaplain's congregation will be edified by seeing a dissentient worshipper carried into chapel every morning it will be for him to decide."  Probably the gaoler concluded that this mode of bringing me to church needed special instructions—he went to seek them, and returned to me no more.

    That morning the chaplain sent for me to account to him for my non-appearance at church.  The explanation I gave him was that the service was mainly taken from the Prayer Book, which it seemed impiety to solemnly repeat as true when you knew it was not so.  The chaplain said, "But you know, Mr. Holyoake, that you are in prison, and must do as you are bidden."  "Yes, I am quite aware I am in prison.  I am under no illusion as to that.  Still it does not justify me in addressing to Heaven words not true.  If you will arrange that I may come into church at the time when you commence to preach, I am ready to do that.  Your sermon may have newness of thought instructive to me."  The chaplain was not displeased, but did not consent, and I never went to prayers or sermon.

    One day towards the end of my term the chaplain thought he ought to do something to change my views, and asked whether I would accompany him to the chapel and talk in a friendly way on the subject of spiritual conviction.  As to that I remarked "I had undergone one conviction, and felt no desire for another."  However, assenting, we went together to the chapel, where he entered the reading-desk, I remaining standing where he left me.  Seeing that, he civilly pointed to a front bench for me to be seated, and began a little oration to me, the sole member of his congregation in that gloomy chapel, where every seat had borne the impress of a thousand scoundrels.  When he came to the end he asked me "what I had to say."  Receiving no reply, he concluded he was making an impression, and began another short address, at the end of which he again asked me my opinion.  As his auditor still remained silent, he took heart again and commenced a third little oration.  A third time he appealed to me for some expression of opinion upon his arguments.  I then said, "I had no opinion to give.  He had spoken to me officially as chaplain, and addressed me as a prisoner, and in that character it was my lot to listen to him.  If he wished me to converse with him, he must treat me on a footing of equality.  That place was too cold for reasoning, "it being an inclement month.  He then asked me to accompany him else where.  Arriving at a warm cell, where blankets were aired, we had some friendly argument, and he asked me to accept a present of a Bible.  It was thought a great thing to give me a Bible.  As it had occasioned my imprisonment, it was bad taste to offer it to me; it was not calculated to excite my gratitude.  The copy he offered me was a little, squab, dumpling edition, published by the Society for the Diffusion of Christian Knowledge at 10d.  I remarked to the chaplain, "I should not like to carry a mean-looking little book like that.  It was not respectful to God to present His Word in that curmudgeon form; but I would accept a better-looking copy, with marginal references down the centre, such as might assist me in trying to reconcile what appeared to me its many contradictions."  So our interview ended, but the 7s. 6d. edition upon which I had fixed my mind never came to hand.

    The prisoners I found in the common room were, with one exception, ignorant, and were there for acts of violence, or minor thefts, or frauds.  In the day-time I kept a little school and taught them something.  One was a young, good-looking man, belonging to London, whom I thought well of.  When his term of imprisonment was up, I entrusted him with two volumes of Hume and Smollet's "History of England," which I had in numbers, to get bound for me, and deliver at the Oracle office in London, and I gave him money to pay for the binding.  My confidence was not successful, as he kept the money and sold the books.

    The chief prisoner was a Mr. Wall, who had been postmaster at Cheltenham, said to have been put in that office by the influence of a peer, for reasons relating to his birth.  He had opened letters and taken the money out.  One case was very shocking.  A servant-girl had saved her money up and sent it to a soldier in the army.  Never receiving any answer, she thought him unfaithful, and poisoned herself.  Receiving no communication, as she had promised him, the soldier thought she had deserted him, and shot himself.  This scoundrelly post master was pleasant-spoken, gentlemanly, and cultivated.  His criticisms of some things I wrote were instructive to me.  He was entirely pious, and punctual at prayer, but a knave at heart.

    My liberation occurred some time before Wall's, and he wrote to me shortly after, making in his letter some defamatory remarks upon the governor, and, thereby, implying that I shared the writer's views.  As the governor would read the letter, he might think that, despite my professions of respect for him when in his charge, I had used different language privately.  Captain Mason, however, wrote upon the letter himself saying that "he did not believe that Wall's expressions were warranted by any remarks of mine, as he had always found me honourable in my statements."  This was handsome in Captain Mason, and increased my regard for him.

    My prison companions, therefore, were not of an edifying or improving class; but there were other discomforts, different and far more disquieting, which will never depart from my mind.  Word was sent me that my child was ill, and then a letter came saying she was dead.  The governor considerately called me out into the yard, and gave it to me.  It was not till after my liberation that I knew the manner of her death.  The sole income of home was from subscriptions from friends in various parts of the country, supposed to average 10s.  a week; but it was not regular.  A few days before the fever took the child, her mother was carrying her through Bull Street, Birmingham, when she cried from hunger for a bun in a window.  There was no penny to buy it, and the frenzied mother slapped the child to quiet her.  She never forgave herself for doing that, and forty years later she oft repeated the last words of the child on the night of her death, when she exclaimed that "I was coming to see her"—repeated them in the tones of the child which went into the mother's heart for evermore.


OWING to a Chartist prisoner having died in a neighbouring gaol from disease contracted through bad air, bad diet, and damp, as poor Holbery of Sheffield had done, a Commission was sent down by the Government to take evidence.  Dr. Blissett Hawkins, with his sharp look and scrutinizing eyes, was at the head of it.  The Commissioners came round the cells and asked me, among others, whether I had any complaint to make.  I said "Yes."  One night, between 9 and 10 o'clock, the gaoler came into my cell and told me to dress, as the Commissioners wished to see me.  On arriving before them, and observing Captain Mason and the surgeon were present, I held my peace.  Reminded by Dr. Hawkins that they sent for me, understanding I had a complaint to make, I explained they could not expect to obtain evidence from prisoners in the presence of the governor, since they would remain in the power of those who might resent afterwards what a prisoner had said; even the surgeon had many ways of retaliation.  The governor had behaved to me with courtesy and humanity.  He was always a gentleman, and if he had had to hang me he would have apologized for the inconvenience to which he was putting me and have had the bolt withdrawn while I was saying "Don't mention it."   It was not that I had any distrust of the governor, but I wished to show the Commissioners that they were not going the way to collect prison facts for an honest report.  Dr. Hawkins said, "Captain Mason and the surgeon had better leave."  Observing me still silent, Dr. Hawkins asked the cause.  I answered that the Commissioners ought to give a prisoner a guarantee that no personal consequences should ensue to him after they had left, as he would still remain in the hands of the authorities without protection, if they took offence at any allegation he made.  Dr. Hawkins assured me that that should not occur.

    Then I explained that in that gaol the health of prisoners was in the hands of a kind-hearted but timorous surgeon, who owed his appointment to the magistrates, and had not the resolution or independence to act upon his own judgment when it conflicted with their political, theological, or personal prejudices against prisoners.  They explained to me that if a surgeon failed in his duty he was responsible.  I answered that was so, but a prisoner must die before the responsibility could be brought home to the surgeon, and that was very grave consolation.  They seemed amused at my unconscious use of the word "grave," for they remembered that it was owing to the recent death of a prisoner that they were sent down to inquire into the cause of it.  I added that county magistrates did not seem very bright, and had no clear idea of their duties.  The Commissioner did not encourage me in these remarks, but they were made before they could stop me.  I said some of the cells were filthy and some beds alive with vermin.  No prisoner expected tenderness, but cleanliness ought to exist, together with security for life.  The dependent position of the doctor, however, afforded none, unless a prisoner was a criminal, then the authorities had no prejudice against him.  Neither could they get at the truth they were sent to inquire into and make an honest report to the Crown, unless they caused it to be understood that prisoners who gave them information would be protected.  They promised me again that no resentment should follow; nor did it.  The governor was civil as heretofore, and the doctor kindly gave me a mutton-chop in my broth.  Though inclined to vegetarianism I was glad of that.

    The Commission reported finally that Gloucester Gaol lay low, was unhealthy, and recommended that the gaol in which the Chartist died should be superseded.  No doubt the poor Chartist was killed in it, all according to law, as poor Holbery was, and as Ernest Jones was nearly killed.  No Irish prisoner has run greater risks.  Thomas Cooper would have fared no better save for his wondrous personal resistance.  They thought they had driven him mad before the authorities relaxed their restrictions.  Under the rules of the gaol, the authorities could have killed me had I resisted indignity as Mr. O'Brien and Mr. Mandeville did, and would have run me very near to it had not Sir James Graham and Mr. Roebuck been my friends.

    The quality of mind of the visiting justices who had me in charge may be seen in this instance.  At the Christmas, which occurred during my imprisonment, it came to their knowledge that a poor labourer had got himself under a short sentence, in order to be in gaol on Christmas Day; for on that "day of glad tidings" it was the kindly custom to mark it to the desolate prisoners by a treacle dumpling, with a few raisins in it.  It was not much of a taste of the "glad tidings," but it gave pleasure; to some believing hearts among the prisoners it was comfort, and it gave the only sign, all the year round, that they lived in a Christian land.  Instead of being struck with compassion that there should be an honest labourer, so hopeless of tasting a bit of Christmas pudding as to get himself incarcerated for a week for that transient pleasure, the magistrates, three clergymen among them (the Rev. and Hon.  Andrew Sayer, Rev. Dr. Newell, Rev. Samuel Jones, the chaplain concurring), abolished Christmas pudding on Christmas Day for all the prisoners there, evermore.  Thus these clergymen taught the prisoners to rejoice in the "glad tidings of great joy" brought by Christ.  Because one poor workman got into prison against Christmas pudding day, they reasoned from that single instance that all the workmen of Gloucester would, if they knew it, get into gaol from the same cause!  It is said to be a sign of the ignorance of the people that they reason from a single instance, instead of from a majority of similar instances.  But here were magistrates, educated at college, as ignorant as the uninstructed rabble, and more cruel.

    After a time, Sir James Graham, in answer to a memorial of mine, sent word for me to be allowed to sit up at night until nine o'clock.  It was a great waste of time for me to be shut up in darkness from four o'clock in winter-time until eight o'clock next morning, sixteen hours.  I contrived some mitigation by secreting the cover of a book, sticking pins in the sides at even distances, and running a thread across from side to side.  It resembled the page of a ruled copy-book—save that the lines were elastic.  By running a sheet of paper under the threads I could write with a pencil in the dark, between the lines.  In this way I prepared articles for the Oracle of Reason, and got them conveyed as opportunity offered to the post.  This night work implied sitting up in bed, and against this was the cold.  For two months I was never warm.  Besides, I was deteriorating in other ways.  My pillow was of coarse sacking stuffed with cocoa-nut fibre, so hard that it flattened and elongated my ears beyond the length which my adversaries expected to find in a person of my way of thinking.

    So it was welcome news when Sir James Graham's order came.  But Sir James had never been a prisoner (all Home Secretaries ought to be imprisoned before taking office), and did not know that the magistrates would construe every instruction against the prisoner.  As he did not say he intended to grant the continuance of fire and light, they construed his kindly interference to mean permission to sit up in cold and darkness.  Then I began to regret my disbelief in future perdition, as there was no adequate place hereafter to which these magistrates could go.  In this respect imprisonment did succeed in shaking my faith a little.

    One night, many years afterwards, in the smoking-room of the House of Commons, I mentioned to Sir Wilfrid Lawson that I cherished grateful memories of his uncle for his generous interference on two occasions on my behalf when I was a prisoner, with no other friend in authority save himself.  At another time Sir Wilfrid told me that it was a consolation to Sir James Graham to hear what I had said, "for though he had served his country for many years, and not unsuccessfully, he feared he would only be remembered as the Home Secretary who opened Mazzini's letters."  Lord Aberdeen denied that the contents of the letters were communicated to the Austrian Government.  Unfortunately, you do not always know when a minister speaks the truth.  It is their custom to give a technical answer which is beside the point of the inquiry.  The letter might be shown to the Austrian minister without a copy being officially communicated to him.  Anyhow, the brothers Bandiera, of noble family, were captured and shot in consequence of Mazzini's letters being opened.  If Sir James did communicate a letter he had opened to a foreign power, he did no more than all Home Secretaries had done before, and he was no worse than his predecessors.  All Home Secretaries since have opened letters, and do so still.  There is a popular understanding that an English Home Secretary shall not act as a spy for foreign governments.  But I remember no assurance being given that they shall never so act.  The intention of Liberals in 1844 was not to hold up Sir James Graham as worse than other Home Secretaries, but to stop the system which prevailed in his office when he came to it.  It is conceivable that he thought foreign ministers were as just-minded as he was, and would use information for precaution, and not for murder.  Anyhow, there has been no Home Secretary in my time who has shown the same regard for the self-respect and rights of unpopular prisoners as Sir James Graham showed towards me.

    We had few friends in those days, but there was one whom those of us who went out in the forlorn hope never forget, and to whom I gratefully inscribed my "History of the Last Trial by Jury for Atheism":

Of New Inn Hall, Oxon.,
Who in the "evil days" of Free Discussion
Was its courageous and Liberal Defender;
And was first to help us
When a Friend is twice a Friend
When we were unknown and struggling.


AFTER the affair with Mr. Justice Erskine, I could not retire from public advocacy.  I should have been thought a coward; my treatment would have been tried on others; many would have been discouraged if I had shown signs of giving way, and the enemies of free opinion would have triumphed and grown insolent.  During my imprisonment it was suggested to me by the chaplain that I might do better by accepting for myself a situation as master of a school in which my wife could be appointed mistress, and this could be arranged if I would desist from the advocacy on which I had embarked.  That doleful ending was not to my mind.  It was also suggested to me that I might free myself by petition and submission.  Not only would I not do it, but I gave notice to my friends that I should count it as an outrage if any one did it in my name, or on my behalf.  My wife would have resented it had I done it on her account.  So when I was free I took the warpath again. 

    To compare a small affair with great ones, had I been, like Savonarola or Bruno, subjected to torture and fire, I know not how I should have behaved, for I have no taste for rack or torch.  But such trouble as can now befall a wilful person—imprisonment, darkness, privation, cold, and insult—is supportable, though death may come that way.

    Wherever I was advertised to lecture, some enthusiasts who engaged me described me as one who had been delivered by the spiritual police to the "secular arm."  I never objected to this, because it was defiance—but it was not profit.  As soon as I could get means of travelling after my liberation, I went down to Cheltenham and repeated the words which led to my sojourn at Gloucester, on the ground that I had been called upon to pay a certain price for free speech, and that, as I had paid the price, I had purchased the right.  This was not good law, but it was good defiance, and that was what I meant.

William Lovett

    One effect of the reputation of having been imprisoned appeared in 1846 where it was least to be expected.  Mr. William Ellis, a great friend and admirer of Mr. J. S. Mill, founded some secular schools in London, and defrayed their expenses himself.  One was intended for the National Hall, Holborn.  Mr. William Lovett was secretary of the proposed school, as he was of the committee of the National Hall.  He had been imprisoned himself two years in Warwick Gaol for political reasons.  Francis Place was one of the consulting authorities of the intended school.  I offered myself for the office of teacher with his consent.  Mr. Lovett, the secretary, to whom I wrote upon the subject, never replied to any communication I made to him.  When, after some months, the matter was brought to his notice, he said "he understood Mr. Place would reply to my letters."  But Mr. Place had never received them.  Mr. C. D. Collet and Mr. Serjeant Parry, members of the committee, complained of Mr. Lovett's conduct.  Mr. Lovett was employed by Mr. Ellis to conduct one of his secular schools, and he had an income from Mr. Ellis as long as he lived.  But so strong was his prejudice against me, who had been imprisoned for heresy, that he who had been incarcerated for sedition was unable to be civil to me.  I told him that, if it should appear to the promoters of the school that my being a teacher of it would be detrimental, I should myself object to my own appointment.  Heresy in theology proved a much more serious thing than heresy in politics; and that avenue of employment was closed.

    At one time a publisher who had known me as a social advocate conceded me employment in his house.  This being a friendly act, my first thought was what would happen to him if I went.  I thought in the interests of my employer that I should always be called by a writing name I had elsewhere used, to neutralize my identity where, if obtruded, the consequence would fall upon others.  My own name would be sure to incite inquiries.

    Mr. Horace Greeley, the founder of the New York Tribune, gave to an Irish journalist of mark in New York (Thomas Ainge Devyr, before named) a letter of introduction to me.  I granted him writing quarters in my publishing house in Fleet Street, and was at willing trouble to be of service to him.  On his return to America he wrote a singular paper, setting forth the causes in operation, which would lead to war before long on the question of slavery.  This was three years before the war broke out, and when Devyr's calculations were published neither the journalists of England nor those of America believed that war was coming.  When it came, three years later, I put this prediction in the hands of several members of Parliament in this country, as an instance of the political foresight of my friend.  The paper consisted of several columns.  It happened that I never read more than two, and their purport being striking, I lent the paper to valued friends, thinking the whole of it was of the nature of the part I had read.  Some years after, curiosity led me to peruse the whole, when I found that it contained indignant reproaches of my friend, Horace Greeley, for having given a letter of introduction to me, as, I being a person well known to hold theological opinions not at all in request, his acquaintance with me was a disadvantage to him; and more to the same uncomplimentary effect.  Thus had I been circulating among my public friends this disparaging account of myself.  My object was to exalt the reputation of my visitor for political sagacity; all the while I was doing my best to destroy any social reputation I might have.  This was another instance in which my residence at Gloucester gave me a profitless distinction; it lent to me a luminosity of a sulphurous kind, which caused me to be distinguished in a crowd.

    Some years later Mr. Devyr wrote to me soliciting some friendly offices at my hands, which I had the pleasure to perform, as I had great regard for him on account of perilous services he had rendered to Ireland.  But I now took the precaution of reading all through his communications before they passed from my hands.  When I visited New York some twenty years later, my ambiguous visitor at Fleet Street appeared on a public platform at Cooper Union, and claimed to bear his testimony in my honour for the advantage to him of the courtesy and kindness I had shown him when he was a stranger in London.  It was quite an unexpected incident.  He had become grateful for what he had been ungrateful.

    Sometimes, when engaged to deliver co-operative lectures, an excited grocer would write a letter to a paper in the town asking if I was not the same person who had given trouble to the saints on a certain occasion.  My friends who engaged me did not care for this, but feared it might harm the society—I was engaged no more.  This sort of thing only excites curiosity now, and increases an audience.  It excited terror then.

    The incident to be related in the chapter on W. E. Forster would never have occurred but for my heretical reputation; nor would the proposal of certain of the Oddfellows to deprive me of the prizes awarded to me have been made.  It was brought against the Society for Repealing the Taxes on Knowledge that I reported in the Reasoner proceedings of Mr. Collet, the secretary, Mr. Serle, who wrote under the name of "Caustic" in the Weekly Dispatch, made this charge.  That most Radical paper was against the Repeal.

    When Garibaldi was at Brooke House, I drove nine miles across the Isle of Wight to a telegraph station, that information might reach a London daily, at the request of their reporter, who could not get the news.  I paid the expense of the telegrams as well as the charge for the vehicle.  Telegrams making a mere paragraph were several shillings then.  I was refused any payment at the office, though my communication was used.  It was not prudent of me to complain, as my secular wilfulness was remembered and marred my eligibility for engagements.  Sometimes I contributed to papers without my work being recognized or paid for, or when paid for I was often precluded from owning to my own articles if I was asked the question, lest the knowledge should damage the paper.  In some instances, I should certainly have been on the staff of public journals but for my heretical disqualification.  The editor was not afraid, but he was afraid lest other people should be afraid.  The only instance to the contrary in those days was the proprietor of the Newcastle Chronicle, who was never afraid of anything or anybody, so far as I could discover.  [16]

    Sometimes my books were not reviewed because it was not to the editor's interest to mention my name; sometimes, as in the Quarterly Review, they were reviewed without my name as author; six other books were reviewed at the same time, and as the omission of my name looked singular, the editor struck out their names, and seven books without authors were duly reviewed.  Sometimes my books were reprinted, as in Paisley, without the name of the writer; sometimes, as in America, "Public Speaking and Debate" was reprinted with the name of a minister on the title-page, and a preface by the reverend gentleman, that the reader might have instruction without the danger of knowing to whom he owed it.  Many hours' amusement all this consideration afforded me; and made me recall the lines

"Yes, I am proud, and must be proud to see
 Men, not afraid of God, afraid of me."

    When I first went out in defence of reason and freedom as against dogma and restriction, experience taught me that I was shutting myself out from opportunities of advantage open to others, and I felt neither surprise nor regret when the evil days came.  As I have said already, imprisonment was never to my taste.  I never wished it: I never sought it—I never feared it.  I have exposed myself to it many times since, and would do it again now for a just principle; but no man will persuade me that persecution is an advantage to any cause or any person.  But it is a great dignity when incurred from a sense of duty or resistance to dishonour.  I neither provoked persecution nor shrank from it.  Though no one else desired freedom, it is enough for me that I desire it; I would maintain the conflict for it as best I could, though no one else cared about it; and, as I chose to make the purchase, I do not higgle about the price.  Tyranny has its soldiers; and why not freedom?  While thousands daily perish at the shrine of vice, of vanity, and of passion, what is the pain of a sacrifice now and then for a public principle?

    Innovation in theology is more serious than innovation in politics.  Politicians are always dealing with new facts; and affairs of years ago are soon swept out of memory by the current of new interests.  Political parties unpopular a few years ago may be in ascendency to-day, and sedition in the past becomes patriotism in the present.  But in ecclesiasticism all is different.  The Church forgets no offence against it, and rarely forgives it.  The part taken in Liberal policy by the great statesmen of France and England at the end of the last century none but historical students remember; but every fool in the streets, in every town and village, knows that Voltaire and Paine were against the priests.  Theology is always in power.  The party of reason is always in a minority, and a prisoner for heresy is always under condemnation, though his sentence may have long since expired.  Indeed, instead of ceasing at his death, it increases.  Charges he might answer if living no one answers for him, since he would himself be suspected who did so.

    Experience convinced me of one thing.  A man need not, like Crusoe, betake himself to the peril of the sea to fall upon a desert island.  Any one of strong individual views soon finds himself upon one at home.  Insight of things not perceived by your fellows and which they do not wish to see, but which you insist upon making known, create a desert island around you before you are aware of it, and you find yourself dwelling with far-off neighbours.  Unknown truth is to the ignorant an unknown terror—a terror because the nature of the new idea is unknown in its relations to the familiar.  The propagandist is regarded as the Brahmin regarded the microscope not as making evident living creatures before unperceived, but as creating the new objects revealed.  When new truth is regarded as a heresy, he who maintains it may be glad if his fate is to be only deserted, and not driven out, like the passenger in a plague ship, to perish in the loneliness of the ocean.  But too much is not to be made of the disadvantages of taking sides.  All opinion has its penalties.  Nor would those I have cited be worth recounting, except to show those who seek truth or usefulness, that inconvenience may arise; and that being forewarned, they may not be discouraged by surprise, and look back.


IN my time I have known many generous lawyers, but no one who took so wide an interest in freedom of opinion, in political and social progress, or who was the counsellor of so many publicists, who as the writer of this chapter did, by opinionative wilfulness got themselves into unforeseen trouble.

    Mr. William Henry Ashurst was an eminent City solicitor of London.  He was a colleague of Sir Rowland Hill, and was counted the second person to whom the success of the Penny Postage was due.  He was the trusted legal adviser of Robert Owen.  He held Owen's principle—that human circumstance had a controlling influence on human action.  When called upon professionally to decide whether a servant guilty of defalcation should be prosecuted, he would cause inquiry to be made as to whether poverty, or the pressure of a family beyond means of support, or strong temptation had overcome natural honesty—showing that the exercise of mercy might afford an opportunity for recovering character.  Thus he saved many from transportation and ruin.  Where a defaulter was without moral principle, he left him to the law.  Thus an intelligent principle of compassion, not based on sentiment or on Biblical authority, but upon human considerations, rescued many who would otherwise have been lost.

    Under the name of "Edward Search," Mr. Ashurst was a frequent writer in the Boston Liberator of Lloyd Garrison, assisting him by counsel, pen, and purse in the battle for negro freedom.  Publicists in England and in other nations brought into conflict with the law, in endeavours to extend the limits of freedom in politics or opinion, often found their way to Mr. Ashurst, whose advice and aid were always at their command.  Thus, when my trial in Gloucester befell me, I was introduced to him, and he was my friend all his days.  Mr. John Morris, who succeeded to the business, and Mr. Shaen, were trained in Mr. Ashurst's office, both became distinguished solicitors, and alike rendered the same generous counsel to propagandists who had trouble with authority.  Mr. Ashurst's son, William Henry, afterwards solicitor to the Post Office, followed in the discerning and merciful steps of his father.  Mr. Ashurst had in his own mind the intellectual freedom he defended for others.  He believed in the wise maxim of Lucretia Mott, whom he greatly esteemed—"Truth for Authority, not Authority for Truth."

    Believing that social ideas would one day largely occupy the attention of society, Mr. Ashurst bought, in 1849, a paper entitled The Spirit of the Age, which had been projected by Robert Buchanan, father of the present poet.  The paper was about to cease, and the purchase money given for it was of the nature of a gift in acknowledgment of services the conductors had otherwise rendered to social progress.  For three months they were retained upon the paper, out of consideration to them, with power to have articles of their own inserted.  I received the appointment of editor.  My advice was in favour of paying the former conductors the salaries accorded them, and commencing the paper on the new lines of studious "fairness towards the middle and the industrious class," whom it was designed to influence or benefit.  Mazzini had consented to write; so had one who afterwards became a Cabinet Minister, two members of the French Provisional Government, and others whose names would have given distinction to the paper, which was intended to be what The Leader afterwards was.

    In the meantime, the retained contributors, who had acquired class anger in many social conflicts, wrote in hostility to the dispassionate views of the new proprietor.  In the last number over which they could exercise the right of insertion, they announced a new paper to be started by themselves.  As public support was then very limited, there was little prospect of establishing The Spirit of the Age, with a rival journal arising as it were out of itself.  I therefore advised Mr. Ashurst that he would lose all further money which he intended to devote to the enterprise, and that he had better consider the £600 he had already expended as wholly lost.  Thus I terminated my own appointment more valued by me than any other which had then been accorded me.

    Mr. Ashurst wrote a final notice which was expressed with force and dignity, saying, "It is due to our readers to inform them that with this number The Spirit of the Age ceases.  He who took the paper and defrayed its entire liabilities has since sustained it, to see whether an addition of quantity, more care in its superintendence, and a well considered devotion to the interests of those whose views it was intended to advance, would obtain for it that support which would give it an independent existence.  The experiment would have been continued longer, money not being essentially important; but it appears that, unless the paper is conducted in the same tone and style under which it arrived at death's door, it will not be satisfactory to those who had originally issued it, and who had sought our aid to prevent its termination.  Our own views are that just ends should be sought, and ought to be sought by peaceable means.  All subscribers who have paid in advance for copies will have returned to them the residue due to them."

    The discontinuance of this journal was an advantage to those who had projected a rival paper, as it left the field clear for them.  They, however, regarded the advice I had given which led to the cessation of The Spirit of the Age as implied censure upon them, which indeed it was.  Thus, without deserving it, I incurred their dislike, and the hostility and disparagement by the principal of them, Mr. Lloyd Jones, were protracted through thirty-four years.

    Mr. Ashurst was a shrewd judge of efficiency.  To the writer of the foreign summary of The Spirit of the Age, in which Mr. Ashurst observed vacancies where facts were wanting, he said, "How do you write your summary—from notes?" The reply was, "Oh no, I do not need to do that.  I write from memory of the week's news."  Mr. Ashurst answered, "The plan has the advantage of saving you the remorse of knowing what you omit."

    While I was responsible for The Spirit of the Age, I devised a tabular slip of paper on which appeared the number printed, the number sold, the sum received for papers, the sum received for advertisements, cost of paper, weekly average of rent, taxes, and office expenses, the amount paid for salaries and contributions; total outlay and total loss or gain.  This statement I delivered every Saturday to Mr. Ashurst, that he might have at a glance true knowledge of the fortunes of his enterprise.  It was a rule in my mind to do what was just, and to take care that others to whom I was answerable saw that I did it, and had not the trouble of inquiring for their own satisfaction.  This seemed to me to be due towards those who trusted me.

    In many ways I was indebted to Mr. Ashurst's friendship.  Desiring to attend lectures at the London University, impossible to me with my means, he made me a loan of £50 to enable me to do it.  A year or two afterwards I repaid him by instalments which seemed unexpected to him, as though his experience had not lain much in that way.  He was pleased, however, more for my sake than his own.  There was no other idea in my mind than that of repaying him.  It was a greater gratification to return the loan than to receive it.  Upon paying him the last amount he sent me to his cashier, Mr. Mayer, to get the repayment recorded in his ledger, lest it might appear hereafter as still due.  This really happened.  Mr. Mayer deferred and neglected to make the entry, and after Mr. Ashurst's decease it was mentioned to me that the amount appeared as still owing.  The receipt given me by Mr. Ashurst I was then unable to find, and I was told not to trouble about it, as my word was sufficient.  Some years later the receipt turned up, and was sent to the family who had so handsomely accepted my word.  This was resented as amounting to distrust of their assurance.  That was not so.  Their word was the same to me as a new receipt, but it was simply following the rule I observed with Mr. Ashurst of making it clear on the first opportunity that the fact corresponded with my word.

    When the Leader newspaper company was being formed, a provisional meeting was held at the Whittington Club.  Mr. Ashurst, who took shares in the paper, attended the meeting.  Quite unforeseen by me, he said "he had come to meet the promoters for the purpose of saying that he understood that Mr. Holyoake was to be the manager of the paper.  He therefore wished to say that he had held a similar appointment under him, and had saved him a thousand pounds by his advice, when it was to his interest that he (Mr. Ashurst) should go on expending the money, and that Mr. Holyoake was the only person connected with the ink pot, with whom he had had relations, who had repaid him when he had taken a pecuniary interest in his affairs."

    This speech took me very much by surprise.  I can see now, writing forty years later, that I ought at once to have risen and thanked Mr. Ashurst for his generous tribute, of which I knew nothing beforehand.  That certainly is not "presence of mind" which occurs to you forty years after the event.  I was confused, and said nothing.  Mr. Thornton Hunt, with his quick kindness, saw the reason of my silence, and he and Mr. Lewes made acknowledgments for me in terms which placed me under obligations to them for their courtesy and confidence.  Thus it was not always a disadvantage to me to have done what I conceived to be right without considering whether it was for or against my interest to do it.


OF two men who were for a time contemporaneous—both famous in a different way, both impassable in their opinions—one was English in everything, the other Scotch in everything —one was Richard Carlile, the other Thomas Carlyle.

    Richard Carlile was best known to me.  It was in 1841, on my first Sunday in London, that I first met him.  It was on one of the few days allowed me to prepare for my trial at Gloucester.  As I was passing Blackfriars Bridge at two o'clock in the afternoon, I saw approaching a short, thick-set gentleman, with piercing eyes and pleasant though resolute expression of countenance.  The beams of the sun, then fiercely descending, lent animation to his features.  The friend with me stopped and introduced me to Richard Carlile.  He greeted me with many friendly words of commendation, which I valued as coming from a veteran prisoner for opinion to one who had scarcely entered the ranks.  He told me he had to speak that night at the Hall of Science in the City Road, a building constructed in a waggon yard, near the Bunhill Fields Cemetery.  The hall was put up by Mr. Mordan, the well-known inventor, of the gold pen, in order that Rowland Detrosier might speak there.  Carlile said he was to lecture upon "The New Scientific Interpretation of the Scripture," and expressed a wish that I should take part in the discussion thereon—which I did, as is related in the chapter on the "Origin of Secularism."

    It was an additional attraction to me to go to the Hall of Science, as I should see the place in which Detrosier lectured, and speak myself there.  Rowland Detrosier was dead then.  He was a foundling, bearing his mother's French name, and was educated in a Manchester Benevolent Vegetarian Institution, where he came to be a kind of preacher, and astonished, not only his congregation, but the city, by taking geological stones into the pulpit and telling their story to his hearers.  Few people in those days knew or believed that stones had a story to tell.  Detrosier had French vivacity and a voice like Lord Brougham's.  An address which he delivered on the subject of the "Elevation of the Working Class," was printed by John Cleave in London, and became as famous as Dr. Channing's address on a similar subject.  This led to his being invited to London by the political reformers of that day.  John Stuart Mill took great interest in him, and after his death contributed to the support of his widow for many years.  Detrosier died in a little street off Seymour Street, the first as you turn out of Euston Road.  The cause of his death was a chill taken by riding on an omnibus from Whitechapel, after lecturing in a heated room.  I first read of his death in the Argus of Birmingham, published by Mr. Allday, of whom I have made mention.  Subscriptions were asked for Detrosier's family.  I sent tenpence, the whole contents of a little copper money box which I had made myself.  This was my first public subscription.  The story of Detrosier's career and singular ability fascinated me, and having a little brother born at that time requiring a name, I persuaded my mother to call him Rowland.  She gave him the name of Walter Rowland.  She had a suspicion of outlandish names, and put Walter before it to civilize it.

    When my trial came on, Mr. Carlile came down to Gloucester and remained all the ten days the assizes lasted; he was in court with me to counsel me in my defence, and was, as I have said, my first visitor after the sentence.  In one of the last articles he published in the Warrior, he wrote—"I was present in the court to witness the trial of George Jacob Holyoake.  I heard Wooller and Hone defend themselves successfully in 1817; but I would prefer to be declared guilty with Holyoake to being acquitted on the ground of Wooller and Hone."

    Before my liberation in 1842 Richard Carlile was dead.  Following the example of Jeremy Bentham, Carlile left his body for dissection, and Mr. Lawrence, the eminent surgeon, was the operator.  Mr. Lawrence had published a volume of "Lectures on Man" which caused him for a time to be regarded as of Carlile's way of thinking.  They contained some materialistic passages which would excite no interest in these days, biological science having advanced far beyond Lawrence; but when the "Lectures" appeared they were regarded as so serious that the author had to recant them.  There is no reason to suppose, any more than in the case of Galileo, that the recanter's opinions were changed.

    In the days of Bentham, and long after, there was such ignorant prejudice against dissection that "subjects" could not be obtained for the uses of surgical science.  This could only be overcome by gentlemen leaving their bodies for dissection.  Jeremy Bentham, Richard Carlile, and other distinguished freethinkers ordered their bodies to be given for that purpose.  Harriet Martineau gave similar directions with regard to her remains.  There is no instance of any distinguished Christian who did this.  This generous and courageous devotion to science, though creditable to freethinkers, was a great disadvantage to their cause, and increased the public prejudice against them.

    Carlile, like Bunyan, was a tinker.  He came to London when a young man, and followed his trade for several years.  He had not Bunyan's genius, but he had his courage, and braved imprisonment and endured it with as much heroism as the author of the "Pilgrim's Progress."

    In days when gentlemen were transported for having in their possession Paine's "Age of Reason," Carlile published editions of his works.  He was imprisoned himself altogether nine years and three months—his wife was imprisoned also—more than one hundred and fifty of his shopmen were at various times imprisoned.  He not only resisted the fetters upon the press, but inspired others to resist.  He wrote heretical books, delivered lectures, and by his pen, his speech, and in his person maintained the conflict, until he established a free press.  Like Paine, recognition and credit have never been given Carlile because of his heretical sentiments.  The enlargement of freedom has always been due to heretics who have been unrequited during their day and defamed when dead.  No publisher in any country ever incurred so much peril to free the press as Richard Carlile.  Every British bookseller has profited by his intrepidity and endurance.  Speculations of philosophy and science, which are now part of the common intelligence, power, and profit, would have been stifled to this day but for him.


Thomas Carlyle

THE two men whose names sound alike were an instructive contrast.  Richard Carlile was all for freedom—Thomas Carlyle was all for despotism.  Carlile the publisher, was for every one thinking and speaking for himself.  Carlyle the writer was for the silence of all men but himself, and for the uninformed many submitting themselves to the imperious dominion of the wise.  Carlyle felt tenderness and taught contempt for the people.  He described them as consisting of "thirty millions, mostly fools," reserving himself as the only well-ascertained exception.  In an age when all power was in the hands of the insolent classes he preached the worship of force and ferocity.  He no doubt intended that their exercise should be directed against imposture and in favour of truth and justice, but he did not make it sufficiently clear; whereas he should have made the qualification very plain.  He applauded Governor Eyre of Jamaica, who added pianoforte wire to the cats with which he flogged working men and women—an act more likely to find imitators than Carlyle's nobler advice to practise truth and industry.  Men in the negro condition, black and white, may one day have their turn of power, when Carlyle's ferocious approval of Eyreism will invigorate many a cat and sharpen many a knife for use on respectable backs and throats—unless they learn from other teachers that firmness and clemency alone bring security.  I sent Mr. Carlyle word that he was nurturing dynamiters.

    In politics his influence has been wholly disastrous.  On industry his teachings have been less malign.  His theory of the Organization of Labour has given us State Socialists; but he has been the friend of the industrious by exalting the dignity of labour and inspiring it with honesty of execution.  But it seemed never to occur to him that there can be no general pride in labour, nor dignity in it, until it is endowed with the right of profit in its performance.

    January Searle (George Searle Phillips, who wrote under this name) told me that at a breakfast at Fryston Hall at which Carlyle was present, on my name being mentioned he observed "that was the mon who said there was no God."  I had never said that, but Carlyle, though honourably scrupulous about the truth in most things, did not always regard accuracy as of consequence, even where it pleased him to pass judgment.  Lord Dalling, who, having been all his life a diplomatist, might be supposed to be familiar with the purport of terms and scrupulous in their application, spoke in one of his last essays of "Thomas Paine the atheist."  Had he thought it necessary to proceed upon knowledge, he would have found that Paine was not only not an atheist, but a passionate theist, who founded a Society of Theists in Paris.  However, in Carlyle injustice of phrase was artistic picturesqueness rather than malevolence, and when another guest, presuming on what he had said of me, made some disparaging remark concerning me, Carlyle at once stopped him by some fierce and generous words of vindication.

    Once, when in Paisley, I had read in a newspaper published there, an attack on Carlyle's opinions, in which the editor confounded his great countryman with Richard Carlile, who was an open heretic.  Though complimentary to the party to which I belonged to see it assumed that we had so famous an adherent as Thomas Carlyle, it was not true, and I wrote and pointed out how different a school of religious thought the great Scotch thinker represented from that of Richard Carlile, the English Fleet Street publisher.  Probably Mr. Carlyle remembered this when he defended me from conventional aspersion at Lord Houghton's breakfast table.

    In what I say of Carlyle here I confine myself to his influence on politics and industry, which mainly concerns me.  His personal nobility of character, as it seems to me, is beyond praise, as it is beyond dispute.  His intrepid letter in defence of Mazzini when it was a social peril to one in Carlyle's position to own himself a friend of the great insurgent Italian, was a generous act beyond the reach of common men.  But Carlyle knew an honest man when he saw him, and his testimony thereto was at command, come what might.  Though Carlyle was the greatest ruffian in literature since the days of Dr.  Johnson, he had, like the doctor, the redeeming virtues of honesty and heroic love of truth.

    When in Canada, in 1882, I visited Carlyle's sister, Mrs. Hanning, formerly Janet Carlyle, who was then residing at Hamilton in a small detached house.  Quite a country garden lay in the rear, from which she gathered bright flowers for my daughter, who was with me—an act of pleasant familiar country life at home which made us forget that Niagara was, hard by.  Soon after Mrs. Hanning's marriage, which took place near Manchester, England, she emigrated to Canada with her husband.  Since her husband's death she had lived alone where we found her, self-dependent in a house "self-contained, as they say in her own country, keeping no servant.  Since that visit she has died.  She was tall, with decision of manner, and very much resembling in features her illustrious brother.  She had a full-length portrait of him, in which he appears reclining against a wall, in a careless manner, with hat in hand—a sketch by Count d'Orsay.  Carlyle was quite a young man then.  She had also a book-case filled with the costliest editions of her brother's works, which he had sent her from time to time.  All his volumes on Cromwell and Frederick the Great were there, and his last book on John Knox.  They all bore affectionate inscriptions written by himself.  One book which interested me was one given by Mrs. Carlyle to Mrs. Hanning.  It was when she was living near Manchester.  It bore the inscription, "To Janet Carlyle, with Jane Welsh Carlyle's affectionate regards.  Comely Bank, January 10, 1827."  It was not long after her own marriage to Carlyle, and apparently she had not anything more costly to send as a memorial of her having entered the family.  The book was one of her earlier school books, being a volume of examples in eloquence and composition of the last century—a book which happily had not influenced her own style.  That was natural, bright, and elastic, beyond anything I observed in the book, which bore an earlier inscription than the one I have quoted, namely, "Jean Welsh, 1806," written with attempts at ornament, and the letters dotted round as a child writes its name for the first time.  The book was probably sent as a memento of regard, and might have been intrinsically interesting to Miss Janet, and no doubt was, since she had preserved it to that day.

    Speaking of Mr. Froude's account of her brother, which was then the talk of America, as it was of England, she said, "Some of my family have sent me a paper wishing me to sign it as objecting to the appearance of the Froude book.  I replied I did not wish to sign it."  This was said with true Scotch sagacity and prudence.  She did not intend to sign it; but she did not offend any one by saying she would not, contenting herself with saying she "did not wish" to sign it—which still left the door open, should she see reason to do it.  She added, "Mr. Froude was a friend of my brother, and he whom my brother trusted I think the family should trust.  Mr. Froude had no doubt said the thing that was."  And then, drawing herself up with a gesture of dignity, she said, "My brother was always for the truth, and so am I,"—a declaration which had the true Carlylean ring in it.

    It was Mrs. Carlyle's letters which, being published, had caused the trouble.  Carlyle had shown his noble sense of justice by desiring their publication, although he knew the impression they would make would be against himself.  I remarked to Mr. Froude one day, when he did me the honour to call upon me, that to desire to publish her letters was in Carlyle an act of justice to her memory.  "Yes," answered the great historian, "but what man thinks of doing justice to his wife?"  The singular thing is that Mr. Froude, who published these works in obedience to Carlyle's wish, who desired him as his friend to do it, has been censured, as though he had been the author of the letters.  It was noble of Mr. Froude to incur all this censure himself through fidelity to his friend, and it seems to me an act of justice to record that Carlyle's sister had honour in her heart for Mr. Froude.

    A Spanish scholar left Mr. Carlyle a thousand pounds, who, remembering that the brother of the donor had suffered some reverses, Mr. Carlyle inquired whether he had become free of them, otherwise, if the money would be useful to him, he, the legatee, desired to place it at his disposal, as he (Mr. Carlyle) was free from prospect of reverse, and he should remember his friend all the same for his generous regard of him.  This act implied a nature of natural nobleness.  It is common to find men who have a biting tongue, which they cannot restrain, yet possessed of instinctive tenderness and generosity.


WITHIN sixty years there have been four communities in England—Orbiston, Motherwell, Manea Fen, and Queenwood.  The promoters were not merely Socialists, they were Communists.  As this is still a name of terror, it will interest many readers to have a glimpse of the last place where they had a local habitation and a name.

    Cobden, in affairs of trade or peace, had good discernment.  In social aims, with which he had little sympathy, he was undiscriminating.  In his day communism was a term of alarm in the mind of ignorance, and was exaggerated by interest, which knew better.  Though before 1840 there existed community societies, the persons belonging to them were spoken of as "members of the community society," not communists.  Communism was a Continental term, scarcely recognized or used in England.  Mr. Cobden used it as a term of social spoliation.  An English community, as the followers of Robert Owen understood it, was a self-supporting industrial city, distinguished by common labour, common property, and common means of intelligence and recreation.  These communal cities were to be examples of industrialism freed from competition.  In the communal life an ethical character was to be formed in the young and impressed upon adults, and all assured education, leisure, and ultimate competence.  As this was the first systematized social conception in which I believed, and believe no less in it still, it is relevant for me to give some account of the last English attempt to realize it in my time.

    On Monday morning, October 14, 1843, I "wended my way," as the novelists say, down by Parliament House, over Vauxhall Bridge, on my visit to Harmony Hall.  At the Nine Elms terminus I demanded a ticket for Nine Mile Water, Harmony Hall.  "Oh," said the official in the railway office, "you must take a ticket to Farnborough! that's the station."  Taking it for granted that he knew, in five minutes I was on my way to Farnborough, the rain coming down like a workman too late for the factory bell, the wind blowing with preternatural velocity.  In due time I alighted at Farnborough Station, and thought, "Well, after all, Harmony Hall is not so far off as people have said," and I looked about for one of the Community vehicles.  But I found myself surrounded by a crowd of Frenchmen talking with the explosiveness of volleys of musketry, and I thought, "Surely these people can't belong to Harmony Hall, unless they are the 'hired labourers,' who were then unpopular."  I inquired at once for Queenwood.  "Queenwood," said the marvelling superintendent, "there was a gentleman once before came here asking for that place.  It is forty or fifty miles below.  You had better take the next train to Winchester, and then inquire again!'"  I had nothing to do but to turn myself to the fire and the Frenchmen, in the hopes of finding either warmth or amusement.  In a few minutes I found that the Frenchmen were king's attendants waiting for the arrival of Louis Philippe and the Queen, who were expected from Windsor at one o'clock.  Before long, I observed some strange-looking men darting off at all angles without any apparent reason, and pushing people about I could not tell why.  But soon I discovered their movements followed on the nod and beck of a marble-eyed elderly gentleman, who was, if I mistake not, one of Sir James Graham's special commissioners, whom I saw at Gloucester Gaol, and I knew I was surrounded by the A Division of Police from Scotland Yard, who darted about at every roll of the official orbs before mentioned.  I immediately called in all external signs of curiosity, and commenced to wear an entirely neutral look, by which means I noticed everybody in security.  When the Royal party arrived from Windsor, even the gaping gentry of the neighbourhood were thrust to the back of the building.  At every avenue policemen brandished their batons; a poor Frenchman, looking over a gate, was rudely thrust back, and given in charge of the police; and none but officials and myself stood in the narrow passage made for their Majesties to pass.  Finding me walking about the rooms, they probably regarded me as a station assistant.  I therefore took a position by the side of the police, deeming that the best place for passing unsuspected, and I was right.  Guizot first interested me.  His half-military dress detracted from his philosophical character, but his well-moulded head and firm features, resting upon his iron-looking shoulders, gave him, though rather a short man, an appearance of majesty which none of their Majesties possessed.  He looked one of the princes of what the Chambers styled the "intellectual aristocracy"—a new phrase of that time used by them.  Many a Frenchman would envy me.  Louis Philippe I could have shot half-a-dozen times, had I been so disposed.  There was nothing inviting about him.  His cheeks hung like collapsed pudding bags.  The only thing to which I could compare his head was an inverted humming-top.  The people of France, I learned afterwards, had nicknamed him "Louis le Poire," or the pear-headed, from the resemblance they discovered in his face and head to an inverted pear.  And Paris was placarded with pictures of pears bearing his face, with the words annexed, "When the pear is rotten, it will fall," as afterwards happened.

    Prince Albert had a right princely appearance.  His large German eyes were singularly full and glaring.  He looked as though he was well fed, and without care whence his meals came.  None of these notables had I seen before.  The Queen I had not seen since she was a girl, and I wondered how the cooped-up, swaddled thing I saw in Birmingham when she was eleven years old, had become so graceful a young woman.  I was agreeably surprised at her.  The breezes of Blair Athol had left her quite blooming, and her pretty Saxon-looking face, beaming both with maternal affection and thought, quite prepossessed me in her favour.  I do but record my impressions at the time.  The Royal party passed on to Gosport, for Louis Philippe was going home, having been on a visit to our Court.

    About three o'clock I was again on the line making another attempt to get to Harmony Hall.  How the wind blows on the Southampton railway over its uncovered carriages!  Even on the Brighton line, then and long after, third-class passengers made the journey in open trucks, where a mother could ill-protect her child from the rain, and with difficulty prevent it from being blown away.  Who travel to Hants in October weather should tie caps upon their heads and their heads on their shoulders.  My cap, which had seen some service, having had six months' imprisonment, was almost blown into its original fleece, and was near regaining its first abode on the backs of the neighbouring sheep.  When I reached Winchester it was half-past four o'clock, and Stockbridge was nine miles off.  No conveyance being procurable, and the rain abating, I walked the distance.

    At last, regular Egyptian darkness—such as could be felt—set in, but where Stockbridge lay, whether near or far, on hill or in hollow, I knew not.  At last, feeling my way with my umbrella, I ran against something that proved to be a ploughman, from whom I learned that I was on the verge of the village, that I must "turn by the Ship, ask for the Queen's Head, and tell Stone that I was one of the Zozialites," and I would be all right.  There I found a pretty, kind creature of a landlady, and by half-past seven I was engaged with toast and tea, and listening to the song of one of those organized fungi which seem to vegetate about Stockbridge in the shape of farm labourers.

    In those days there were no village reading-rooms.  Hetherington's Poor Man's Guardian had never been heard of in Stockbridge.  Newspapers were then sixpence and ninepence each, and were seen only by the squire or the clergyman, who never lent them to the cottagers.  No union of agricultural labourers was thought of.  The company I was in reached the highest point of their existence with a mug of beer and a song.  There was no assembly in the Queen's Head of long pipes and village philosophers such as George Eliot has depicted in "Silas Marner."  One of the Stockbridge zoophytes was singing, for the amusement of his companions, a song, of which the, best applauded couplet was—

If I had a wife wot blowed me up,
I'd get a gal and make her jalus."

Had these lines come upon them with the novelty of originality, the delight they caused could not have been more spontaneous.  They quite brought down the tap-room.  The landlady smiled from the bar window, partly in applause of the singer and partly to encourage business.  This was the high water mark of intellectuality to which the parson and the squire had brought the farm labourers of Stockbridge.

    The next morning I set out for Queenwood.  It rained then as in the days of Noah.  My directions were "to pass through the village, and, at a mile and a half onwards, to turn off to the left by a gentleman's house, which would lead me (somehow) to Broughton."  I was now fairly in the land of flint and chalk.  Everywhere lay flanks of earth, dressed in nature's shabbiest attire—not unlike a man in threadbare hose, and the mounds of white chalk, peeping up here and there, presented the picture of nature out at the elbows.  When high on the road that lay "by the gentleman's house," I asked my way of an old villager, who, unfortunately for me, "knew the road well."  He sent me along this field, over that, by a stile "which I should be sure to see" (but be sure not to know), and after turning here, and turning there, I should come out (somewhere) in Broughton.

    Reader, beware of one who knows the way.  Were I about to be hanged (that being the time when persons who never had any wisdom commence to give important advice) the first thing I should warn young persons against would be those people who "know the way."  Many a week I have walked five times farther than the real way through following the directions of people who sent me the "nearest" way.  When a stranger asks his road, instead of being directed straightforward through highways or well-known streets, which he could not miss, somebody who knows all the lanes and byways, courts and alleys, will send him through them.  The moment a stranger enters the first of these, he knows not where he is, and has to spend more time in making inquiries than would take him ten times the actual distance.  Some plain-minded person, who knows little about a place, is the man for a guide.  In Bristol, when I went in 1841 to visit Charles Southwell, then in prison there for wounding what Lord Salisbury would call the "grotesque susceptibilities" of Sir Charles Weatherell, I had the good fortune to be taken to Bristol Bridge.  This became my centre of transit.  Every where I went I started from Bristol Bridge.  I was never so happy in any town.  In London, though always being directed "the nearest way," I am sure I have walked a thousand unnecessary miles.

    After a time, I discovered the road I had left, which soon brought me to Broughton, a pleasant village to look at; but all its pleasantness was outside.  It was plain and dull enough within.  But as it was the first relief from barrenness and stones, one was glad to see it.  About a mile through it, over a chalk hill, is the next road to be taken, and as the traveller descends the hill's brow, he comes suddenly upon Harmony Hall—an entirely respectable—looking building, half red, half blue, a compound of brick and slate of oblong shape, with two spires in front, and two glass chimneys, apparently intended to let people see the smoke come up; but further examination tells you they are lanterns over the corridors leading to the dormitories.  "C. M. 1841," are observable at one end of the building, which informed me, for the first time, that the Millennium had commenced three years ago.

    Verdure and beauty first make their appearance in the neighbourhood of the Hall.  Around pleasant prospects arise.  But it was a place to look at rather than to live on.  The soil had been made productive at great expense; but the flints which covered the land pointed out the place as one intended by nature, not for a colony of Socialists, but for a colony of gunsmiths, who, before percussion caps came up, might have made their fortunes there.

    No devisers are perfect all at once, even in community making, and the site chosen for it in Hampshire, remote from any seat of manufacture or of commerce,  was a disadvantage.  The quality of the soil was also against the success of the agricultural community.  Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid, being in friendly relation with Robert Owen, was a reason why that site was chosen.  Indeed, at that time it was difficult to obtain land anywhere.  A beautiful avenue was preserved upon it; a part of the estate called Rosewood, with a sequestered building in it, was entitled to the name.  Roads were laid out at great cost worthy of the Romans.  An imposing hall was erected by Mr. Hansom, the inventor of the cab which Disraeli called the gondola of London.  It was built as the "new world" should be built.  Forged nails, not machine-made nails, were used in fixing lath and plank.  The parts out of sight were as honestly done as those in sight.  There was nothing mean about the place.  The lower rooms had a costly range of windows, the walls were tastefully panelled, the sides of the room were ribbed with mahogany, and all the tables, neither few nor small, were of the same costly material.  The place served as a dining room when I was there.  The kitchen had hardly a rival in London for its completeness.  So much was expended in this way (£30,000 altogether), that there was insufficient to put into cultivation the Little and Great Bentley farms.  It is due to Mr. Owen to state that he never approved of the attempt to establish a community with the insufficient capital then at command.  Mr. Galpin, a banker at Salisbury, had subscribed £8,000 or more, Mr. William Pare £5,000.  Mr. Frederick Bate put in £14,000 his total fortune bequeathed to him.  Half a million of money was necessary to complete the community on the scale on which the board of directors commenced.  The administration being democratic, there was no concentration of authority, so indispensable until success had repaid the capitalists.  The arrears of rent accumulated, which the profit from the farms was insufficient to meet.  The three trustees who were responsible, evicted, in the Irish fashion, the governor and his family, who encamped in the lanes for some days.  The trustees then let the estate to George Edmondson, a Quaker and famous Yorkshire educator.  It then became Queenwood College, as it is still known.  Professor Tyndall was one of the teachers of science there.  In a few years £11,000 of profit accumulated, which Lord Romilly, on the suit of Mr. Pare, myself, and others, ordered to be distributed among the principal shareholders, and the place to be sold and the proceeds further divided.  Nothing came to the smaller community shareholders, whom I represented.  It was clear that this project under purely commercial management might have paid as a social university, and ultimately as an agricultural settlement.  Had it not been denounced by the clergy and the Bishop of Exeter, it is probable that Mr. Owen's great influence had obtained capital sufficient to establish an industrial city.  Many independent families contemplated going to reside there, the rent of whose tenements would have made the place prosperous.  It was a satisfaction at last to see a noble college established there, in which students were educated in the arts of industry as well as in science and classical literature, which had never been united on so large a scale elsewhere in England.  It was one part of the community scheme.

    Thus ended the last of the English communities.  Proud efforts were made for its success—noble sacrifices on the part of hundreds of working men were made, ungrudgingly and unrepiningly, although all the savings of their lifetime were lost in it.  After lectures in the provinces, to this day grey-headed old men and women oft come to me recalling their sacrifices, which they never regret, and still believe they were not made in vain.  The intelligent poor in our chief cities were animated with hope when "community" was named.  Toil-worn men at the anvil, at the loom, and in the mine, regarded it as opening to them a way to industrial independence out of the otherwise pathless desert of their lives.


THESE chapters appear in general chronological order; though it is difficult to think over your life in strict consecutiveness of detail.  Sometimes incidents come back to the mind which were as much out of sight as though they had emigrated.  If a story has interest in itself, and it is apparent when its incidents did occur, the reader is commonly content.

    In my youth I had a moderate faculty of memory, which I endeavoured to improve after the manner suggested by Jacotot, who had fascinated me.  Taking Pope's "Essay on Man," I learned the two first lines, next day two more, always repeating the lines learned.  Thus at the end of a year I could repeat 730 lines; at the end of the second year I could repeat 1,460.  Then the time required to repeat 1,460 lines, with the addition of new lines each morning, obliged me to desist.  This daily use of memory no doubt was an advantage to me when I came to deliver lectures.  Though I could not always foresee what I should say when I began to speak, I could always tell what I had said when I had spoken.  The act of speaking in public fixed the words in my mind as though they were palpable in the air before me.  For six months or more after my speech in the Court at Gloucester, I could repeat all I said, though I spoke upwards of nine hours.  To this day I remember where I was, in what town, in what place, in what house, or at what exact spot, when a particular thought first entered my mind.  It is far from my intention to convey the impression that everything I relate is errorless, unless I have been able to verify it, for many details of affairs must have passed from my memory.  Yet to mean to be right, and to take trouble to be right, is all a narrator can do for the reader, and the reader is not badly used who gets that.

    In 1845, it fell to me to go to Glasgow.  Scotland was then an unknown world to me, and I set out, as I do still on a new journey, elated and glad with curiosity, not less so then that our way was over the "dour" sea to Greenock.  Our little household then included two little ones.  We arrived late one evening at a temperance hotel in Liverpool, near to the dock.  Temperance hotels were then penal settlements of teetotalism.  A rasher of bacon (which had grown black by exposure, and dry as a slice of mummy cat), an old teapot, a chipped cup and cracked saucer, lying in a dusty window, were the outward signs and melancholy emblems of a temperance hostelry in those days.

    My engagement in Glasgow was to lecture to a society of Mr. Owen's followers, which held its meetings in a pleasant little chapel in Great Hamilton Street, near Glasgow Green.  I was the last of the stationed lecturers, then called "Social Missionaries."

    Soon after my arrival I learned that the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows offered five prizes of £10 each for the five best lectures to be read to the members of the Order on taking successive degrees.  The subjects were to be "Charity, Truth, Knowledge, Science, and Progression."

    Before this time four of the degrees of the Order bore the designations of white, blue, scarlet, and gold.  The ceremony of initiation included a marvellous dialogue.  For instance, a candidate for the scarlet degree was asked by the Noble Grand, "Whence come you?"  Not even Dr. Darwin could answer that question satisfactorily.  The candidate dexterously avoided the scientific difficulty, if he was conscious of it, by answering that he came "from Mount Horeb."  All the while the man had never been there, and probably did not know even its situation.  The candidate was then asked, "Where are you sojourning?" and he replied, "To the inward Court of the Sanctuary."   When the further question was put to him, "How will you gain your admittance?" the answer was, "By my sign and password."  This does not seem sufficient had there been a real Sanctuary with an Inner Court, which the Manchester Unity never possessed.  The candidate for the gold degree was asked, "Whom do you represent?" and he replied, "The son of Onias, the High Priest, who repaired the House of God and fortified the Temple"—a very respectable delegation if accompanied by genuine credentials.  When asked, "In what light will he appear in the Lodge?" he replied, with wondrous self-complacency, "As the morning star or the moon at full, I shall cheer and refresh the minds of my brethren like the sun on the Temple of the Most High or the rainbow in the heavens."  These Colney Hatch answers did very well in the first half of this century, but men in the second half could never be got to give them.  The Grand Master therefore advised a change.

    In justice to the Order it ought to be admitted that the Old Degree Book was not all of this extraordinary complexion.  There were some scattered injunctions of worldly wisdom and worth, such as—

    "Be honest to yourself and connection.
    Follow your occupation whereby to provide personal sufficiency and something over wherewith to relieve distress.
    Be honest to your neighbour by not imposing upon or overreaching him.
    Be honest, by candidly acting towards your brother, not professing one thing and meaning another.
    Be temperate in the exercise of the powers and passions of body and mind.
    Be temperate in forming opinion, in expressing it, and in attempting to obtain your wishes.
    You are always to recommend to equals courtesy and affability, to superiors kindness and condescension."

    These were excellent Senecan sentences.  Oddfellowship, like religion, can only sustain and commend itself by association with morality.

    In writing the new lectures, I followed the rule I adopted early in life, of never embarrassing myself by conjecturing what other competitors would say, nor by imagining what adjudicators, or readers, or hearers would expect me to say.  I simply considered what ought to be said on a given subject—what was true and relevant as far as I could discern—and endeavoured to say it as plainly and clearly as I was able.  Napoleon's one injunction to his secretaries—"Be clear"—seemed to me to include the first duty of author or speaker, and I applied it not only to the sentences, but to the writing of the Prize Lectures.  I wrote them out in a plain Palmerstonian hand.  Capital letters I printed, so that the beginning of sentences should be well marked.  I left a broad margin, in which I wrote in red ink the subject of each paragraph.  All the pages of each lecture were put into a separate coloured cover, bearing a cube in isometrical perspective, merely because it was ornamental, and mitigated the dulness of a blank cover.  The motto I took was “Justice is sufficient," believing that no one ought to ask for more, and that this would be a happy world if every one got that.

    The result of this was that my five books of lectures would be sure to be looked at, and when opened the red letter words in the margin enabled the appointed reader to see at once the method and quality of treatment, and be able at a glance to decide whether they were entitled to further examination.  There were 79 competitors for the prizes, and if each sent in five lectures the adjudicators would have 395 to peruse.  They would be sure, therefore, whatever the number, to take up first those they could read most easily.

    It was probable that some competitors would send in only one or may be two lectures, such as they thought they could best write.  Thus it would be difficult to combine five lectures by five different persons in one set, while one person writing the whole would give them due gradation and unity; and unity would be essential.  Therefore I sent in five.

    As I was a member of the Robert Burns Lodge of Glasgow, I was eligible to compete.  Only one person knew of my intention to do so.  The method, matter, or manner of what I wrote no one knew.  Though, as I have said, there were 79 competitors, and some of them clergymen, none, when they came to read the lectures adopted, complained of the adjudication of all the prizes to me.  I had left Scotland long before the award, and had made up my mind I was out of the running, when one day the Grand Master called upon me and handed me five £10 notes.  I remember I was much surprised, for I had never even seen so much money before.  It was with this money that I set up the Reasoner.

    When it became known in the Order that the prizes were awarded to me, some apprehensive members raised the question whether the money ought to be paid to me, or whether the Order ought to use the lectures written by me.  An earthquake might happen in the Order if what I had written were read officially from time to time to a quarter of a million of men who belonged to the great Unity, for the memory of Gloucester Gaol was quite lively in the public mind.  But the Order was honest, and I was paid.  To pay a second time for worse lectures seemed bad economy and bad policy, and so the lectures were adopted.  Several years elapsed before I made any public mention of my connection with them.  As secrecy was to the interest of the Order, it was my duty to keep silence.  Some enthusiastic officer of the Order, anxious to justify their choice, published privately an edition of the lectures for the gratification of members interested in seeing them.  This was a serious breach of faith of which I knew nothing.  I had taken no part in that step, and would have opposed it had I known of it.  Some, indeed, thought I might have done it; but the directors did me the justice to entirely disbelieve that I had any knowledge of, or connivance in, the surreptitious publication.


THE shrewder officers of the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows were right.  Though no rumblings of earthquake were heard in the Order, some premonitory symptoms were felt six years later.  But for six years calm pervaded the solid earth of the widespread Unity.  Assurance that it would be so came in a letter from the Noble Grand Master of the Robert Burns Lodge, addressed to me in London.  He had been attending the Grand Moveable Committee at Bristol, and on his return home he wrote as follows:—

"124, GALLOWGATE, GLASGOW, June 11, 1846.

"SIR AND BROTHER,—Inclosed is an order to any Lodge to which you may go to receive the Quarterly Password and Degree.
    "We had a very fine meeting at Bristol, and I dare say that much has been done to consolidate and improve our Order.  I also had the pleasure of perusing our New Lectures.  They are splendid essays upon the subjects they treat of, and I wish the Board of Directors may soon get them circulated.  I believe they will be the means of doing much good.  They will undoubtedly give great satisfaction to all your friends here.—I am, my dear sir, yours faithfully,


    About 1852 the Unity sought legal protection.  The Grand Master of the Order, Mr. William Benjamin Smith, of Birmingham, had drawn up a masterly statement of the disadvantages under which the Unity, as a friendly society, lay in respect of the funds being at the mercy of any knavish officer with a gift for plunder.  When the protective bill which was passed by the Commons went up to the House of Lords, the Bishop of Oxford opposed it on the ground that I had written their Degree Lectures.  The bishop, who was naturally tolerant and fair-minded, had been influenced or misled by statements forwarded to him by enemies of the bill acquainted with the origin of the lectures.  What took place then, and how the bishop came to withdraw his opposition, the reader will see recounted in the chapter on the "Generosity of the Bishop of Oxford."

    Another objection of a different kind, and not easy to be refuted, might have been brought against the genuineness of the lectures, founded upon a passage in one of them, had any one had the wit to make it.  When I was writing the lecture on Charity, I was living in the house of Mr. David Glassford, St.  Mirren's Street, Paisley.  The house has been pulled down, and the street is all changed now.  I sat with my back to a small bookcase, and often rested my head against the glass front as I cast about in thought for some new argument which should be clear and entirely secular.  Though Secularism as a new form of thought and action was not then in my mind; I had merely a taste for reasoning on morality apart from theology.  At length I put my argument thus:

    "The great obstacles in the way of the friendly intercourse of man with man are the incurable dislikes which some men have the misfortune to entertain for each other.  But when we once agree 'to consider the errors of mankind as arising rather from the want of knowledge than the defects of goodness,' we learn to feel for the most despicable some sympathy on account of their unhappy condition.  We see that those who agree not with us have some difference in capacity, constitution, or education; and, instead of being repelled because their opinions and tastes seem inferior to our own, we are invited by a prospect of improving and enlightening them—for the voice of kindness and intelligence never fails to soften and refine the rugged and the ignorant.  Hence we may be charitable to those we deem mentally unfortunate.  If we behold a fellow-creature running counter to his own happiness, we are satisfied that it is rather his misfortune than his fault.

    "This sentiment, that thus has a basis in intelligence, is also justified by self-love and confirmed by human interest.  Should you hate your fellow-man, what reason is there that he should not hate you?  If you shall regard him but with indifference, you justify him in regarding you with indifference; and why should you provoke only apathy where possibly you might win esteem?  But if you fall on the wiser and happier alternative of affection, or at least friendliness, as dislike creates dislike, so love awakens love, the kindlier emotions are reciprocated, and men who else were foes become, by the generous influence of enlightened charity, pacific and fraternal."

    At the time I believed this argument to be entirely new.  It never occurred to me before, nor had I ever heard or seen anything like it.  Some time after the prizes referred to were awarded, and sent to the press, I was again a guest of Mr. Glassford in the same house and occupying the same room.  The day being wet and misty as only a Scotch day can be, I turned to the bookcase against which I had formerly sat, just to see what kind of dusty-looking books my friend kept there.  It was necessary in my vocation to understand the Covenanter mind, and this seemed an opportunity of doing it.  The narrow bookcase was let into the wall, and previously I had thought it locked.  Finding it was not, I opened it, and the very first book I took down was a volume of sermons by Bishop Hooker.  I had read of the "judicious" bishop, but had never had a work of his in my hands, and I was glad and curious to judge for myself in what the "judiciousness" consisted for which he was so much praised.  But greater than I expected were my surprise and interest when the very page which I accidentally opened contained exactly the argument I had constructed myself!

    Few persons knowing the circumstances under which I had written my lecture on Charity, with the bishop's volume at hand, would not conclude that my passage was a plagiarism and no coincidence.  They would be confirmed in their belief on noticing that in the said lecture I actually cite the following passage:—"If I do harm I must look to suffer; there being no reason that others should show greater love to me than they have by me shown unto them" (Bishop Hooker: book i., c. 8, Ecclesiastical Polity).  This passage, when proofs of the Lectures came to me, I was glad to quote, as it might prevent my secular arguments being suspected of heresy.  I had no idea that the bishop had preceded me altogether.  Had I known it before, I should have quoted his words triumphantly, and have made the fortune of my chapter in the orthodox eyes of the Prize Committee.

    Not having opportunity of reading as much as I ought, other instances of this kind have happened to me.  Had I been what is called "well read," many things would have been known to me which I had to find out for myself.  Still there was consolation in the saying of Hobbes, that "had he read as much as his neighbours did, he would be as ignorant as they were."

    Several times (the first in Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1862), I had said that Mr. Gladstone was the first Chancellor of the Exchequer known to have a conscience.  Others may have had it, but finding no use for it in public affairs, the people had not discerned it.  On December 4, 1891, I read for the first time an old newspaper report of Mr. Cobden's speech in Exeter Hall, February, 1855, in which he said, "Mr. Gladstone was a statesman who had a conscience, and when once you had convinced his understanding, you were sure to have his support, whether in office or out of it."


'THE Duke of Wellington was a cold, hard, contemptuous, unsympathetic Tory.  He had strong sense, honesty, and veracity, and no desire of killing people when they did not stand in the way of carrying out orders.  I have known many soldiers who served under him, but none who had affection for him.  He treated his men as he did his muskets.  He kept them dry and clean, and ready for action.  He took the same care of them as he did of his stores—but had no more human regard for them, or personal sympathy with them, than he had for any other war material. [17]  When Napoleon found a corporal asleep at his post, he took up his musket, and kept guard until he awoke.  Wellington would have called the guard to arrest him, and had him shot.  Thousands of soldiers were ready to die for Napoleon.  No soldier ever showed eagerness to die for Wellington, and some sought to shoot him.  Yet Wellington had the virtue of being an economist in the lives of his men, while Napoleon lavished them.  Kleber said Napoleon was a great general at the cost of ten thousand Frenchmen a week.


    In the "Life and Times of Queen Victoria," it is said of Wellington that "he never regarded himself as in any sense the servant of the people.  It was as the sworn servant of the Crown that he always spoke and acted, and the only test he ever applied to any project of legislation was, whether it was likely to strengthen or weaken the Monarchy."  He looked upon the people simply as persons to be kept in order, and had no idea that liberty and responsibility would enable them to take care of themselves.  In military matters it was not possible to impose upon him—concerning social facts he was as credulous as the country Tory vicar of the time.  The duke believed the reports that French Jacobin gold incited English agitation.  It was regarded as vulgar ignorance when the French Jacobins believed that English gold was the cause of all their trouble.  The duke had this vulgar credulity in politics.  Though he had been Premier in England, he wrote to the Earl of Malmesbury saying "he entertained no doubt that there exists a formidable conspiracy, but as yet we have not got a trace of it.  We certainly had not when I quitted office, nor do I believe the King's servants have."  Yet having "no trace" of it, he still believed it.

    "We have in this country," he said, "unfortunately, a numerous class of men well educated who go about in gigs.  You will ask how are their gigs paid for?    I answer I know that the Société Propagande of Paris has at its command very large means from subscriptions all over Europe, but particularly from the Revolutionary bankers in France."  The duke could not know this, but in politics he was ready to believe whatever he was told.  There never was a Liberal propagandist society that had funds, and bankers were never the persons to supply them.  This did not prevent the duke believing they did.

    At the time when he was contriving plans for meeting the Birmingham Political Union in the field, and the whole country was convulsed with demands for reform, he said (1) the mass of the people cared nothing for the bill and were neither agitatting nor agitated; (2) the agitation, if any, was subsiding; (3) it would subside if time was only given it.  This old anti-Reform formula of 1830 is repeated in 1891, with regard to Ireland.

    In 1840, when Mr. Owen's Social Agitation was represented by Social Missionaries, whom the Bishop of Exeter proposed to put down by coercion, the duke was told that these men were mostly well-informed, and personally of good character.  His reply was, "Oh, yes, they are clever; they are clever devils."  In his eyes all political reformers were seditious, and all social reformers satanic.
    In the duke's time there was living in London, not far from his residence at Apsley House, a man in every way as unlike the duke in character as he was in station—known as "the Radical Tailor of Charing Cross."  This was Francis Place, who was one day to circumvent the duke at the height of his power.

    Place was a working tailor at the beginning of this century.  He was somewhat short in stature, solidly built, with a grave, intelligent face.  He was self-taught, studious, well-read, with a strong understanding, without passion, and of immovable resolution.  He advised young men who had a taste for the work of a publicist, to continue in business until they had saved money and had some to spare, so as to aid themselves any agitation in which they engaged.  By being able to give money themselves they would have more influence than though they gave ten times as much in service.  He followed himself the advice he gave.  His house, then 41, Charing Cross, in which he had a large library, was the place of meeting for the leading Reformers of Westminster, whose projects were matured and whose policy was decided there.  Jeremy Bentham encouraged Place both in his prudence and his political usefulness.  Bentham, who lived in Queen Square, Westminister, took his utilitarian walks with Place, and accompanied him on his business calls to take orders from his customers, or deliver the garments he had made for them.  While Place was engaged within, Bentham would walk outside until his friend emerged again, when they would continue their walks and their political conversation.

    One day when Place was detained longer than usual with a customer difficult to please, Bentham sat down on the step, leaning his head upon his hand, probably meditating some constitution for the government of New Brazil, when there came under his eyes an open palm with a shilling in it.  The sight aroused him from his reverie, and, on raising his head, he found a gentleman, who hastily withdrew his hand and begged pardon.  He had mistaken Bentham for a person in distress needing assistance.  But on Bentham looking up with his bright glance, refined expression, and white flowing locks, he saw he was a gentleman.  The hand was instantly withdrawn with apologies.  Bentham told Place of his adventure with expressions of respect for his kindly intending friend.

    Place had great mastery of all the political questions of the day.  He defended the views of Malthus with discrimination as against the misconceptions of William Godwin, then in the height of his popularity.  Place was regarded as an equal antagonist.  Though a friend and sympathizer with the general views of Godwin, he did not hesitate, in the interest of the public, to confute his errors.  In the Monthly Magazine, and in such of the press as in those days condescended to notice a Radical writer, Place was described as "an independent and original thinker distinguished by research, accuracy, and acumen."  Place was the associate and adviser of the leading Philosophical Radicals and others, as Miss Martineau, with whom he corresponded on her "Illustrations of Political Economy."  So high an opinion had James Mill of him, that he entrusted Place with the formation of the political mind of his famous son John Stuart.  In after years, when Place was preparing for death, with that deliberation and forethought which always characterized him, he packed up all the letters he had ever received from John Stuart Mill and sent them to him at Blackheath.  But the messenger could not find the house.  Whether he kept them, or lost them, or whether the messenger delivered them to Mrs. Chatterton, the actress whom Place married, I could never discover from any member of his family or from hers—though years ago I made many endeavours.  Mr. Joseph Cowen assisting by enquiries among actors, as Professor Bain wished to see them.  If they exist, they would throw more light upon the views, character, and political relations of John Stuart Mill than anything he has said or left behind him.  Place was his confidant and agent—and he had no other among politicians.

    When Francis Place died, Mr. Mill wrote in the Spectator of that day a short notice of him, covering his career in a few words—a reward in itself from Mill's pen of the singular services of Place's life.  In Mr. Place's time, young insurgent politicians of any capacity went to him.  He instructed them, he counselled them—I well know how wisely; in danger, he found them means of defence, and made known their peril to those who might protect them.  Mr. Mill and Mr. Grote showed generous knowledge of it all.

    In 1849 I had attacked the Messrs.  Chambers, in the Spirit of the Age, for an article they had published, entitled, the "Reaction against Philanthropy."  The vehemence with which I wrote led them to take the unusual course of replying in Chamber's Journal.  On that occasion I received from Mr. Place the following letter, which I quote exactly as it was expressed, in Place's quaint, vigorous, candid way:

"BROMPTON SQUARE, March 3, 1849.

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

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


    There was value in Mr. Place's friendship.  He was able to measure the minds of those with whom he came in contact, and for those for whom he cared he would do the service of showing to them the limits within which they were working.  It was thus he took trouble to be useful to those who could never requite him, by putting strong, wide thoughts before them.  For himself, he took no steps even to be remembered.

    The meeting of two such men as the Duke of Wellington and Francis Place, of views so opposite, each distinguished in his sphere—one, the greatest military commander, the other the greatest working-class politician of his timewas a singular occurrence.  It came about thus:

    Political excitement ran high all over the country, and especially in London.  A Tory Administration was in power, and the Premier was a soldier of overshadowing prestige who thought intimidation was the whole art of government.  When dismay and hopelessness prevailed, Place took the course of waiting upon the duke, with four other working men, to represent to him the political condition of the people, and how much reform in Parliament was needed to improve their condition.  It was an entirely dangerous proceeding, for the duke was not a man to approach with impunity.  On arriving at Apsley House, the duke agreed to see them.  When they went upstairs, they found his Grace leaning with his back against the mantelpiece.  Whether the duke recognized the name of Francis Place, which would be on the paper of application for the interview, I know not, but his more familiar designation as the "Radical Tailor of Charing Cross" would not be a recommendation to the favourable reception of the duke.

    When they entered the room, the duke said in his abrupt, contemptuous way, "Well!  what do you want?"

    Mr. Place, who was spokesman for the humble deputation, stated that agitation pervaded all classes of society, filling the country with alarm, shaking public confidence, arresting commercial enterprise: trade was suffering, and the condition of the working class was growing more desperate every day. 

    The duke heard their brief story—they made it brief, knowing he was not an amiable person to delay with Radical pleas.  The duke answered in his curt, unsympathetic way, "I suppose you men know that I am responsible for public order.  I know how to keep it.  You can go."

    Of course, they went, glad that nothing worse befell them than that abrupt dismissal.  Before they were well out of the room, the duke called out, "Come back."  They returned with some trepidation, expecting the duke would order their arrest.  It appeared that the duke had been impressed by their plain, manly story, and, looking at them, he said, "You seem to be men who have heads on your shoulders.  Take care you keep them there."

    There was a rough sort of compliment in the duke's imperious candour characteristic of him.  The intrepid deputation bowed, the duke turned away, and they departed, not without amazement.

    Two years later the Duke of Wellington was driven from power a second time.  One morning when the citizens of London appeared in the streets they found placards on the walls in large letters bearing two lines only—"Stop the Duke—Go for Gold."

    How came these placards there?  What printer had the temerity to print them?  What stickers could be trusted with the dangerous task of setting them up, who might have been seized and imprisoned until they disclosed their employers, if indeed they escaped on those terms?    Who devised that expedient of disturbing the Government of the duke?  In those days of spies and militaryism the scheme was dangerous alike in conception and execution.  The duke never knew that the blow came from one of the deputation whom he admonished "to keep their heads upon their shoulders."  It was Francis Place who devised the scheme—which certainly he carried out.

    He knew a printer in a court in Holborn who could be trusted.  One Saturday afternoon when the men had left he went in to the master, examined his stock of paper, and finding it sufficient, he went out and brought in beer and food sufficient for two days, flour, a billstickers' flat can and a brush.  They then locked the doors, and he and Place worked all night and the greater part of the Sunday, Place and he pulling alternately at the hand press.  They made paste, and a bag which would hold the placards concealed under a loose overcoat, and on midnight of Sunday, Place went out and put up the placards himself, sticking them up in the most convenient places he came to.  At certain points, he passed his friend, the printer, who had a supply of placards, which he put quickly into Place's bag, who then went on with his bill-sticking until daylight—when they went back and distributed the type.  So, when the men returned to work on Monday morning, no one but Place and the printer knew how London had been placarded.

    In the excitement in which London was, this suggestive warning produced an immense impression.  The public knew not whence the mysterious announcement came, and, knowing nothing, every one imagined everything.  No one doubted that the warning came from influential quarters.  The Bank of England was besieged, and the duke who would not have retreated before an army—retreated before Place's placards.

    Debate has arisen as to whether the words of the placard were "Run for Gold" or "Go for Gold."  The evidence is in favour of "Go."  The competent testimony of Mr. Collet admits that Place devised the placard.  On hearing Joseph Parkes read a copy of a proposed wall-bill, Place stopped him and wrote instead a placard of one line "To stop the Duke—Go for Gold."  It was like Place's directness and impatience of verbiage.  Mr. Collet saw one of these bills at Saville House, Leicester Square, on Saturday, May 12, 1832, which may have been one Place had procured.  Mr. J. G. Harney relates that he saw a placard at St. Hiliers which bore the words, "J. Brooks, Printer, Oxford Street, London," probably a reproduction of Place's placard, as £80 was subscribed to multiply them.  Mr. Brooks claimed to have been the originator of the bill.  Doubleday, in his "Life of Sir Robert Peel," says, "The placard was the device of four gentlemen who each put down £20 that thousands might be printed of the terrible missives.  The effect was hardly to be described.  It was electric."  Miss Helena Cobbett, the last surviving child of William Cobbett, writes to Mr. Harney that "Her Father in the Register, vol. lxxvi.  p. 392, mentioned the placard at the time of its appearance, and that her brother James had added to it a note, saying, 'The placard was suggested by Mr. John Fielden to Mr. T.  Attwood, Mr. J. Parkes, and others.'"  Mr. Samuel Kydd sends an extract from Alison's "History of Europe," which supplies a name for the placard which explains its efficiency.  "Then were seen the infernal placards in the streets of London.  ‘To Stop the Duke—Go for Gold!' and with such success was the suggestion adopted, that in three days no less than £1,800,000 was drawn out of the Bank of England in specie" (vol. iv. p. 373).  The Duke resigned his first Premiership November 16, 1830, and returned to office May 9, 1832, and resigned on the 18th.  The public agitations of which the placard was but a symbol, limited the Duke's second reign to nine days.


IN 1840 there were no signs of an agitation for the civil rights of women.  Only a small number of women knew how few the rights of their sex were, or had any desire to increase them.  The majority did not know, in any intelligent way, whether they had any civil rights at all.  Women had no journal of their own.   Ladies' newspapers there were, but they were edited by gentlemen.   The public tongue of women was in the mouth of men.   Among social reformers, Mrs. Chappell Smith, Mrs. Emma Martin, and one or two others were public advocates of social rights.   Only in that quarter of society were women speakers seen upon the platform; they were counted wilful and presuming, and it was thought that they would be better employed at home.  At a later period a lady known as Mrs. Clara Lucas Balfour appeared as a lecturer on uncontested subjects before religious and literary societies.  She was a lady of goodly presence, whose husband was the littlest man ever seen about the House of Commons.  He had an appointment in the Private Bills office.  He had fought on the Bellerophon, and it was put down to his sailor's daredevilism that he allowed his wife to speak in public.

    Seeing how much faster political and social amendment would proceed were the quick discernment and decision of women engaged in public affairs, I often spoke of it in lectures.  The fine scorn of women for delay in doing what can be done and ought to be done was much wanted in politics, where men who declare an evil to be intolerable will desist from abating it on the appearance of the first fool who tells them "the time is not come" to act against it.  Women, being one-half of society, suffered greatly by the intolerance and ignorance of men in matters which did not concern men.  Still the women who well knew this, and wrote eloquently against it, had no idea of combining against it.

    In 1847 I wrote in the Free Press, printed in the Isle of Man for the advantage of free postal circulation in England, the following passages:—

    "Women have no esprit de corps.  The language of Lord Grey, when he said, 'I shall stand by my order,' is scarcely understood by them.  We have a race of women, but no order of women.  .  .  .  Reputable and intelligent women were deputed in America to attend a conference of the Peace Society in London.  They crossed the Atlantic on this public mission, and when they arrived in London they were refused the privilege of sitting in the conference because they were women.  Yet this insult was never resented.

    "The police courts of the metropolis are satiated with complaints of half-murdered women against brutal husbands who escape with comparative immunity.  But where are the women out of court who remonstrate?  Why have they not formed a society for their own protection?  Women desire a share in the suffrage.  They are taxed, and therefore they claim a right to vote.  But where are women's political unions—self-originated and self-sustained?  If they want political rights, why do they not themselves ask for them?  If it is unwomanly to ask for them, it will be unwomanly to exercise them when granted—in short, unwomanly to have them.  Women, like peers, should 'stand by their order'—should have societies of their own.  The impunity with which women are despoiled of property, liberty, and even of their children, at the caprice of their husbands, as some melancholy instances in our law courts have lately shown, is an imputation more powerful than any conceivable argument upon the womanly spirit of this nation.  Let them take their own affairs into their own hands, as Sir Robert Peel once advised the men of this country to do.

    "Let them draw up a list of their legal disabilities, and take the usual constitutional modes of obtaining redress.  Let them have societies and public meetings of their own.  Let all the offices be filled by women—let the audiences be of women entirely.  Let the womanly mind come into action as a separate element of reform—as a 'Fifth Estate.'  It is no use to talk about fitness; it must be proved—the question is not one of theory, but of practice.  If women have capacity for public affairs, let it be demonstrated.  Familiar as women now are with literature, we have not one periodical, magazine, or newspaper conducted by women.  In America the Lowell Offering was produced by Lowell factory-girls, but in England we have nothing of the kind.  The Lady's Newspaper is not conducted by women.  We ought to have a Woman's Journal—edited by women, contributed to by women, and in every sense an exponent of womanly thought and an advocate of women's rights.  Hints and suggestions might be accepted from men, but no interference, no dictation, no direction.  For well or ill, skilfully or unskilfully, the act should be their own in every sense."

    I suggested this to several intelligent women without inducing one to follow it out.  Those who saw the importance were not prepared to act upon it, and those who were able wanted the spirit of enterprise.  "Propose it to Margaret Fuller," said one, when that lady was in this country.  But it was not good taste to press upon an American lady a task that ought to be undertaken by an English one.  I further urged that "an enterprising woman of wise will, who would undertake such a task, and would train her unpractised sisters in the art of self-emancipation, would be more of a practical benefactor than the authoress of twenty volumes in favour of their rights.  When women begin to conduct their own affairs—to generate an esprit de corps among themselves, to discuss their own questions in public—there will be blunderings committed, weaknesses displayed, exaggerations perpetrated; but let them remember that men blundered, erred, and exaggerated times without number before they arrived at their present facility.  Failure must be ventured or efficiency will never be won.  Were women to attempt to legislate for men, and exclude them from their Parliament while doing it, and suffer no information of the rights or claims of men to come before them save through their wives—what an outcry there would be from men against what they would call 'one-sided, ignorant, blundering, unjust, insolent, feminine legislation!'"

    In the two articles from which the preceding passages were taken other arguments may be read, now familiar, which were then new or unfamiliar.

    Previously to writing in the Free Press what has been cited, I spoke with Madame Belloc (then Bessie Rayner Parkes), with Madame Bodichon (then Barbara Leigh Smith), with Madame Venturi (then Mrs. Hawkes), with Miss Sophia Dobson Collet, and other ladies interested in the public action of women.  Harriet Martineau was also one whom I consulted upon the subject.  None thought my suggestions practicable.

    There was no doubt in my mind that they would be realized.  The arguments of Mary Wollstonecraft and Madame de Stäel, the splendid political capacity Harriet Martineau displayed, must issue in action.  In lectures and in the Reasoner my subject was frequently the "Civil Rights of Women."  A handsome sarcophagus inkstand was given me by a committee of ladies in Glasgow in acknowledgment of these efforts.  When a publisher in Fleet Street, I obtained, in 1857, through Mr. John Stuart Mill, the consent of Mrs. Mill to issue in a cheap form her famous articles, "Are Women fit for Politics? Are Politics Fit for Women?" and circulated four thousand.  Until now no other edition has appeared.

    It was not until ten years after the articles quoted from the Free Press were written, not until 1857, that women set up a journal of their own.  The very name I gave—Woman's Journal—was adopted.  Women began to edit their own papers.  They have organized associations of their own now.  They hold meetings of their own sex, preside over them themselves, speak from the platform, make themselves an independent power in the State, and have now come to excel men in University contests.


Thornton Leigh Hunt

THORNTON HUNT, the eldest son of Leigh Hunt, was, like George Henry Lewes, his friend, a fragile-looking man.  Dark, slender, but compact, he had piercing eyes and a singular precision of speech—strong without being loud, and strikingly articulate.  The tones were confident, as those of one who had something to say.  He gave to those to whom he spoke the impression of being a well-informed, competent man, to whom it was worth while to listen.  When a boy, he was with his father during his imprisonment, and was so engaging to Charles Lamb when he was a visitor to the prison that he wrote some charming verses to Thornton, as is well known.  Thornton Hunt had West Indian prejudices as well as an Indian complexion.  He was by instinct entirely a gentleman—fearless, true, courteous, and decided in opinion.  If he entered a house as a guest, and held any opinion or rule of action which he thought it material that his host should know, he informed him thereof.  Though tolerant of others where he dissented from them, he would not live under tolerance himself.  Socialist, Communist, Chartist, Atheist, insurgent, regicide, were all interesting to him.  He desired to know what made them what they were.  He was by nature a journalist, and nothing in human life or character was above or beneath him.  Human life was a necessary part of his public knowledge.  Thornton Hunt's full name was Thornton Leigh Hunt, but he never used "Leigh" as part of his name, because it was so well known as his father's Christian name.  With honourable delicacy he did not wish to associate any views of his with his father's name; nor did he wish to accept any consideration, or to bespeak any leniency of judgment, for himself as the son of a distinguished poet.  Like his father, his generosity continually exceeded his means.  I often dined with his family at the Broadway, Hammersmith, where another and considerable family, left orphans by relatives, were at table, and were maintained in his house.  At that time I knew that he dictated so many leading articles in a week that his earnings might have made him rich.  All the time he lived most frugally, and all he gained was consumed in generous acts.  Like his father, he was incapable of making provision for himself.  It did not seem to occur to him.  His main thought was for the misfortunes of others.  No one I ever knew better illustrated Lindsay Gordon's lines—

"Though this world be but a bubble,
 Two things stand like stone:
 Kindness in another's trouble,
 Courage in our own."

    Thornton Hunt had two passions—namely, for political freedom and social improvement—and a third, stronger than either, in favour of liberty of opinion and the right to translate it into action.  He had a contempt for that philosophic opinion which led to no result.  He was a subscriber to the oddest by-way Chartist funds, and found time to attend executive meetings.  He was with me as one of the executive who gave the last public dinner to Feargus O'Connor at Highbury Barns on the night when O'Connor first displayed a failure of intellect.

    When Thornton Hunt was consulting editor of the Daily Telegraph, I used to drive with him some mornings to Lord Palmerston's at Cambridge House, Piccadilly, where Mr. Hunt frequently went to learn the views which the Government wished taken in the journal he represented, to which he would give expression, maintaining his independency of judgment at the same time.  He told me that "Lord Palmerston knew nothing of human life below his carriage steps—with the world of the people on the pavement he had no familiarity.  He had only a carriage knowledge of mankind."

    Mr. Cobden had refused an offer made by Lord Palmerston of a seat in the Cabinet.  Lord Palmerston was then desirous that Mr. Bright should take office, as Mr. Cobden's refusal had been said to be owing to Mr. Bright not having been asked.  Afterwards Lord Palmerston told Mr. Hunt to inform me that, if he knew that Mr. Bright would be willing to take a seat, he would make a proposal to him.  The understanding was that I should endeavour to ascertain what Mr. Bright's views were.  Accordingly, I asked a political friend, in the habit of speaking to Mr. Bright on public affairs, to tell him that, if he were disposed under any circumstances to accept office under Lord Palmerston, he could have it.  Mr. Bright, as the public knows, never was disposed.

    The reasons which influenced me in being a medium of this communication I did not conceal.  It did not seem to be to the public advantage that distinguished friends of the people should refuse office.  It was the opinion of Mr. Cobden and Mr. Bright that they could do most good in opposition.  Still, it seemed objectionable to blame the Government for not doing more, and yet refuse to enter the Government and attempt to do more themselves.  Of course, if they had good knowledge that they would be outvoted in the Cabinet, and they nevertheless become personally responsible for its inaction, or wrong action, they would be justified in remaining in opposition.  But it appeared to me the experiment ought to be tried, and, if it failed, their return to opposition would have greater weight with the country.  Looking at the question from the people's point of view, it was useless to complain, as was often done, that our friends were excluded from the Government if, when they had the opportunity, they would not join it.  The presence of the enemies of evil would oft prevent evil being done.

    Thornton Hunt was trained by Rintoul, the founder of the Spectator, the most perfect weekly newspaper we ever had in England.  In it all the news of the dailies was re-written and condensed—all the essential Parliamentary papers were carefully summarized.  Every essential topic of the day was made clear to the reader, so that he who took the Spectator (which was then ninepence, and such a paper would be worth a shilling now) was well informed on all questions of news, politics, and literature.  Mr. Hunt told me that on Friday Mr. Rintoul would give him a Parliamentary paper for which there was space for two columns.  It would transpire that that space was not available, and the précis would have to be re-written to reduce it to a column and a half.  At a late hour it would be found that there was room for only one column, when the précis had to be reduced again—not by ellision, but by rewriting.  It was Mr. Rintoul's religion to produce a perfect newspaper, and in that sense he was the most religious man of his profession.  If there are newspapers in the other world, no doubt Mr. Rintoul is the first journalist there.  All the ripe fruit of Mr. Hunt's training under Mr. Rintoul was seen in his programme of the Leader newspaper elsewhere quoted.

    Mr. Hunt told me how he had once applied for a place on the staff of a journal then of rising influence.  He needed no introduction to the proprietor; his name was a letter of recommendation.  When he had explained in what way he believed he could contribute to the development of the paper, the proprietor in a few words showed at once his knowledge of Mr. Hunt's character and knowledge of his own enterprise.  "Mr. Hunt," said he, "what we want is not strong thinking, but strong writing."  The policy, the fortunes, and success of the paper were all included in those few words.  Of course the success of such a paper depends upon the sort of readers to whom it appeals.

    Yet in judgment and action Mr. Hunt was sometimes entirely wrong—in my opinion in two instances.  One was when Mr. Delane had, in The Times, charged Mr. Cobden and Mr. Bright with "seeking to reduce the franchise as a step to spoliation," with a view to "seize on the estates of the proprietors of land and divide them gratuitously among the poor."  This, if true, would expose them to execration and destroy them as public leaders.  Mr. Cobden resented the imputation in a letter of just indignation.  The Times refused insertion to his defence of himself and Mr. Bright.  It was sent to all the daily journals.  The Daily News and Morning Star alone inserted it.  The Daily Telegraph declined to insert it, but published a leading article upon it, so much to the taste of The Times that Mr. Delane quoted it.  Mr. Hunt wrote several letters to Mr. Cobden to the effect that they were consulting Mr. Cobden's interest by denying him the opportunity of being heard in his own defence, so far as their journal was concerned, at the same time professing personal respect for Mr. Cobden—which was real.  Mr. Cobden resented this, and said it was within their province to refuse his letter, but they should have remained neutral in a controversy where the plaintiff was not to be heard.  These letters of Mr. Hunt were quite unlike his better and habitual self.  It was otherwise an error to encounter a man of Cobden's vigorous sagacity with an unsubstantial plea.

    To write about one's friend as though he was perfect is not to command regard for him.  The perfect man is not about, and the reader, not having met with him, will be unprepared to believe in him if adduced here.

    The other instance in which I thought my friend wrong was earlier than the one just given.  It was at the time when the Crimean War was first in the air.  The policy of the Leader in respect to it was discussed.  Mr. Hunt's doctrine was that nations, like individuals, were sometimes the better for bloodletting, which seemed very shocking to me.  I had read in Malthus and other doctrinaires of population, that society was kept down by famine, pestilence, and war, but I never before heard war deliberately advocated for that end, or that public plethora required to be relieved by bleeding.  In war, the persons who are bled are the people, while the plethora is among their masters, who are never bled.  This doctrine was contrary to Mr. Hunt's habitual humanity.  Yet he spoke of it without remorse or misgiving as one of the ordinary principles of political wisdom.  The doctrine yet prevails in newspaper quarters.

    Thornton Hunt agreed with Mr. Bright (I do not) in his repugnance to direct representation of labour.  I had written in The Times upon the political education of the working people.  The following letter, written from the house in which Mr. Hunt died, refers to this:—

"26, EUSTON SQUARE, N.W., Feb.  12, 1871.

"MY DEAR HOLYOAKE,—The moment I saw your splendid letter in The Times I wanted to write you, expressing the delight I had in reading it.  And not only for its immediate subject, but for its general bearing on the real truth of progress.  It makes me want to have at least a talk with you, though I often wish for more.  But I have been specially baulked—by the perpetual press of business on my personal attention, by the constantly increasing press of weakened health, and lately by the state of quarantine in which my house has been placed through the illness of my daughter Kathleen.  She has had small-pox, but is now convalescent—after a mild attack—and in a week or two I expect to be released.  I only hope this letter will not dismay you; but she is quite isolated at the top of the house.  I have not seen her.  Those liable have been revaccinated—nearly all in the house; two or three of us having had the malady, myself among that section.  And my writing place is at the bottom of the house, in a room separate from the rest.

"I wanted especially to moot two questions to you: the hideous proposal of the 'direct representation of labour'—a class-perpetuating notion of the worst kind; and the Emperor Napoleon's best 'Idée' of a periodical congress.  On the last I want much to engage your mind.  It is gaining very remark able converts.  As Napoleon said to me in 1864, the periodical assembling would cause many a question to be discussed and settled that now begets a congress only through quarrel, and perhaps actual war; and, as I said to him, the records of that congress would be the very commencement of that international law which now has no existence, except in the Library, and there only as doctrine which may, or may not, suit the practice of nations.  Internationally we still have neither more nor less than anarchy, modified by a very limited sense of decency.  I have long wished that your mind turned itself to that problem.

"And I often wish that we met more.  But I will come to you at 20, Cockspur Street, when I am out of quarantine.—Ever yours, as ever,


    This letter is quoted, as it gives a glimpse of the writer's daily life, and an instance of the large views he entertained and the great opportunities he possessed of influencing public affairs in the direction of progress.

    Thornton Hunt's handwriting was as quaint as the old schoolmen.  He wrote as the monks would write a missal.  It was his taste to wear a close-fitting clerical dress, and, as his complexion was dark, he had the appearance of a Spanish priest, as may be seen in M. Herview's painting of him, which aptly renders his singular expression.

    His death occurred many years before it need have done.  It was not unforeseen.  On several occasions I visited him at Broadway when he was prostrated by the continuity of overwork.  When I urged rest and travel, he would say it was impossible; he could not give the time.

    "You forget," I would say, "that there is one thing to which you will have to give time."

    "What is that?" he asked.

    "Time to die.  I generally observe that has to be attended to, and causes lengthened interruption in fulfilling engagements."

    He did not relent or relax.  You could see leading articles in his corrugated expression.  So it came to pass that, while he was still in the available maturity of his mind, he was carried to Kensal Green Cemetery and laid in the grave of his father.  His friend Mr. Levy Lawson and many distinguished journalists were present, and his oldest political associate, so far as I knew, Sir Eardley Wilmot, came up and talked with me of our lost friend.


    LEIGH HUNT was a taller and statelier man than his son.  Thornton one day took me to have tea with his father, who had done me the honour to wish to see me.  His ample hair was grey then, but he had the same upright, bright, elastic look which all who had known him earlier knew.  His easy, unaffected dignity was a welcome you never forgot.

Leight Hunt

    Dickens is supposed to describe Leigh Hunt in his character of Harry Skimpole.  Lord Macaulay was persuaded of this, because the name he first used was that of Leonard Horner, whose initials were the same as Leigh Hunt's.  It is likely Dickens did intend at first to found the character upon Hunt's, but afterwards changed his purpose, and produced Skimpole, in whom he could better contrast heartlessness with airiness.  Having changed his purpose, he changed the name.  It would have been baseness as well as falseness to describe Leigh Hunt as heartless or selfish.  Leigh Hunt had airiness of manner; so had his son Thornton, and like disregard of himself.  The weakness of father and son was their sympathy—their fault was their generosity.  Though it sometimes involved the loss of other people's money, it first involved the total loss of their own.  They were like the river which fertilises the banks through which it flows until it becomes dry in its own bed.  I have known several persons who would give away the money of others, without my thinking much of them on that account, but when I found that they gave away their own in like manner, never thinking of themselves, though I might wish that their generosity was restricted to the disposal of their own funds, I had respect for them, for their unselfishness.

    Leigh Hunt had consented that a young energetic Manchester gentleman, John Stores Smith (under strong Carlylean impulses, as the style of what he wrote showed), should bring out a paper bearing the title of Leigh Hunt's London Journal, of which Leigh Hunt's part was the popular attraction.  But one day there appeared some imputations on Lord John Russell.  Then Leigh Hunt withdrew from the paper.  Lord John, with his usual affection for literary men, had given Leigh Hunt a pension which rendered his latter days pleasant to him.  Lord John might, or might not, be open to Storian censure, but I quite agreed with the poet (who conversed upon it, as it occurred at the time of my visiting him) that he could not sanction scorn appearing in a paper bearing his name, as it would appear to the public like ingratitude from one who had accepted Lord John's friendship and favour.  Lord Russell was not the man to exact coincidence of opinion with him from any one he had served, but there were always sufficient persons to express disparaging censure without his friends doing it, and the public service was not likely to suffer by Leigh Hunt's silence.  He would, had his convictions turned that way and the public service required it, have dissented from his illustrious friend, but intellectual dissent is a very different thing from contemptuous censure.

    Lord John Russell was himself a man of great independence of spirit and even warmness of heart, which coldness of manner concealed—owing more to want of buoyancy than feeling.  One day as he walked up the House of Commons his small, diminutive figure seemed in great contrast to the majestic stature of Daniel O'Connell, who was passing by him to his seat.  Some one remarking it to him afterwards, the "Liberator" said, "Ah! it is easy to see that Lord John is the son of an old man."

    Mr. Ballantyne, mentioned in another chapter as connected with the Leader, told me that when he was editor of the St.  James's Gazette—which was not a flourishing journal—he waited upon Lord John to solicit him to take a pecuniary interest in the fortunes of the paper, which might thereby become an influential advocate of his lordship's policy.  Lord John listened to Mr. Ballantyne with frigid courtesy until he had concluded, when he rose and said: "Mr. Ballantyne, I never court the press; I never fear the press; I never bribe the press—I wish you good-morning."


THE Leader newspaper excited greater hopes on its announcement, and has since its discontinuance lived longer in the memory of publicists than any other paper started in my time.  Its title was not meant to be taken as egotistical in the sense of putting itself forward as a leader of journals, but as indicating that, as a journal should, the Leader would go in advance of the reader, spy out the unexplored regions of politics, morals, and speculation, and inform him of the pleasant places worth occupying.  No journal conducted by gentlemen ever proposed, before or since, to do this in the same bold way.  In one thing or other many journals are bold, but none bold in so many things, as the Leader undertook to be.  It was Thornton Hunt who drew up the programme, which was privately circulated and never otherwise published.  The following are passages from it:

    "The whole mechanical classification of the kinds usual with existing weekly journals will be cast aside for one calculated to bring out the interest of the current news.  Every striking incident or class of incidents will be taken substantively.  "Every fact or point of interest connected with the subject will be diligently collected and studied.  The whole will then be arranged and compressed into a neatly executed history of the affair, so as to make it the fullest, clearest, and most complete account of all printed.  By this mode of treatment giving the distinctness and simplicity of plain compilation, the papers will read with the smoothness and fulness of historical composition, the freshness and animation of an original article.

    "The principle of the paper will be—the right of every opinion to its own free utterance.  This principle involves a thorough recognition of all existing opinions and their expression in a more positive form than they have hitherto been able to obtain; it involves also a proportionately distinct and positive statement of the opinions entertained by the conductors of the journal.  With a principle so free, it will be necessary, in order to acquire rather than to repel influence, that this positive utterance of opinion should be executed in a skilful and decorous manner, in a generous and elevated spirit.  It will proceed less by a spirit of antagonism against received opinions or parties, than by the direct development of more forcible opinions.  The originators of the enterprise hold that the progress of their country and their kind is advanced by the fostering of new powers as the instruments for obtaining the fruits of opinion; since opinion, without social influence and political power, is a mere honorary and sterile distinction for the community among which it exists.  The endeavour will be kept up to obtain for the whole people the full exercise of the franchise and in extending education according to its lights, the new journal will constantly strive for the complete freeing of secular education from all restraints of sect or dogmatical religion.  Again, in matter of religion every persuasion would meet with respect, and the sympathy due to conscience seen in action; but the pure religion, which is superior to all, would animate the unceasing and strenuous endeavour for its own perfect emancipation.  Free Trade will be advocated, in order that the theoretical consummation already attained in this country shall be carried out in practice, and extended to other countries.  Political economy, however, will be treated as a science not perfected, but demanding progressive development, with the advance of general knowledge and the growing sense of social necessities."

    The passages from this programme, in italics, sufficiently indicate the thoroughness and fearlessness which were afterwards characteristics of the paper.  The principles of nearly all news papers are tempered by advertisers with a view to attract and retain them.  Most journals follow public opinion—not lead it.  Their boldness is limited by profitableness.  It pays better to play the bagpipes in the rear than march in the vanguard.  In other pursuits conscience is apt to collapse before loss, and journalism is not entirely exempt from this infirmity.  The policy of the Leader was conscience, not consequence.  The highest class of advertisements were re-written in the office where taste improved the effect.  The aims of the paper were truth and originality.

    In three conspicuous things in the programme cited, the Leader proved itself an advanced paper.  In regarding political economy as imperfect and needing development, it was before John Stuart Mill, who had not then published his book of "Principles" in which he commenced this extension.  It announced a policy of national and secular education, before Mr. Forster appeared in the field, with a boldness and precision to be found in no other newspaper of similar rank.  It treated for the first time secular education as a distinct, concrete, self-existent thing which should be freed from all restraints of sect or dogmatical religion, in which it was before and beyond Mr. Forster.  The Leader was for the extension and defence of free trade in land before the Cobden Club took that question in hand.

    The Rev. E. R. Larken, a near relative of Lord Monson, was the chief promoter of the Leader, partly from his friendship for Thornton Hunt and partly from desire that a larger Christian liberalism than then existed, should have place in the press.  Mr. Larken was the first clergyman who had the intrepidity to wear a beard in the pulpit.  The upper and lower part of the face were shaven, but he retained his fine dark beard below the chin.  Yet this limited innovation was thought to be very serious.  It was regarded as indicating laxity in theological principle.  Hearing him preach at his rectory on two occasions, I was very watchful, but no one by the use of a theological microscope could have discovered any departure from the tenets of the Church.  George Dawson was the next minister in England who ventured to preach in a beard and with his face wholly unshaven, which brought upon him grave suspicions of latitudinarianism.  Foreigners, as Orsini, Dr. Bernard, and others wearing beards, were mostly introduced to Birmingham by the Dawson congregation.  Bearded persons of that day were locally known as "Dawsonites."

    Thornton Hunt was the editor, but G. H. Lewes, afterwards the husband of George Eliot, was its most brilliant and versatile writer.  Herbert Spencer wrote articles in it which were the beginning of his fame.  He had already become known by his work entitled "Social Statics."  W. E. Forster gave his first indications in it of his interest in social questions by articles on the "Right to Labour."  The chief proprietor, who spent the most money upon the paper, was a gentleman who afterwards became Examiner of Plays.  He knew many languages, had many accomplishments, considerable Continental experience, and infinite vivacity both in speech and pen.  I wrote papers under the signature of "Ion," partly because the name was brief, and more because I admired the character delineated by Serjeant Talfourd in his tragedy of that name.  To letters I wrote under this signature, Wendell Phillips, the famous American Abolitionist orator, replied, in orations delivered in the Melodeon, Boston.  He afterwards told me I was the only person in Europe to whom he ever replied.

    One of the staff was Mr. W. J. Linton, the eminent wood engraver, who had other distinction both as writer and poet.  He could speak well also.  One night at a meeting on behalf of Italy, at the Old Crown and Anchor Tavern (then occupied by the Whittington Club, founded by Douglas Jerrold), referring to insurgents who had fallen in the cause of Italian freedom, Mr. Linton said "their fate was not to be mourned over, but to be imitated."  George Dawson spoke that night, but no one said anything so heroic as this.

    Another writer, a contributor to the Reasoner, known afterwards by excellent historic military works, though himself a civilian, was George Hooper.  Thomas Ballantyne was on the staff, who had been a journalist on the side of the Manchester school, but afterwards wrote against them.  He did not do this in the Leader.  His reputation, through his change of opinion, was not to our advantage.  He was an able, patient, watchful sub-editor; and was afterwards editor of the St.  James's Gazette—a name that has since been revived.

    The commissariat of the Leader fell to me with my other duties, and its administration was very pleasant.  In those days we only knew George Eliot as Marian Evans.  She was residing then at Dr. Chapman's in the Strand, a few doors from our editorial office, which was in Wellington Street.  My evening repasts were unexpected when I first introduced them, and George Eliot, who sometimes came in and joined us at table, used to call me "the Providence of the Office."  Mr. Lewes, who wrote the Vivian Letters, always said something bright and graceful about "Rose."  Mrs. Lewes was Rose, and she looked it, for she had a singularly bright complexion.  She would sometimes join the evening repast.

    The men of advanced opinions among the working class who chiefly valued the paper were not numerous enough to support it, and the middle class were not then liberal enough, nor intelligent enough, to do it to sufficient extent.  In Universities and Parliament it had many subscribers.  One drawback of its popularity was that it was written by writers who knew most things valued by those who knew as much as they, whereby many excellent papers were not understood by the general public.  The audience thought of chiefly was the friends of writers in society, in Parliament, and the clubs.  On one occasion an article was written of which the facts upon which it was based were known to only four persons in Europe—Bismarck, the Emperor Napoleon, Lord John Russell, and Thornton Hunt—and what was said was only comprehensible by them.  Once I put the servant's bonnet on the handle of the office broom and placed it before Thornton (we always spoke of Mr. Hunt as Thornton) when he was writing, suggesting that he should make his arguments intelligible to that average young person in effigy.  It was an illusion to suppose that you had to write down to the capacity of others.  What was required was that a writer should make himself intelligible to persons entirely unfamiliar with the question.  A master in science is always simple and clear.  A master in rhetoric can always make his highest meaning plain to the lowest listener.  A dainty meal need not be adulterated to render it eatable by the multitude.

    I had had colleagues in other circles who considered it was a service to wealthy persons to afford them costly opportunities of promoting public progress, and would encourage their enthusiasm manifested that way.  I was of a different way of thinking; I thought it right to make it quite clear what losses might arise.  To this end I made similar tables for the Leader that I previously made for the Spirit of the Age, so that the proprietors were acquainted every week with the fluctuations or loss in their enterprise.

    When the Leader had been published several years I went one morning to breakfast with the chief proprietor, who then lodged in Southampton Row, and asked him whether he would tell me what his motive was in continuing the paper.  "Some men," I said, "spent their money on horses, or wine, or women; the motive of that was intelligible—but why did he go on paying £41 a week for writing the Leader without prospect of its return?  If I knew his motive, it would save me concern."  Excepting the desire to establish a high class advanced paper, he had no motive.  Thereupon I proposed that my salary should be reduced one half, and that the same reductions should be recommended to all other contributors—for the longer a paper was able to exist the greater would be its reputation and chance of its becoming a property.  My advice was acted upon.  It was not likely to conduce to my popularity in the office; but it was approved by the chief writers, and I never observed that it made any difference in their relations with me for having given it.

    Subsequently, when the Leader came to an end, it was taken by Mr. Edward Whitty, who was a Roman Catholic, and sentiments appeared in it which made its friends wish that it had ceased to exist earlier.  Mr. Whitty prolonged its existence, but for a short period.  He was the son of the editor of the Liverpool Post.  His sister was a famous opera singer.  He first came into repute himself by writing for the Leader remarkable letters from the House of Commons, entitled, "A Stranger in Parliament," in which he introduced for the first time the phrase, "the governing classes," which afterwards entered political literature.  He died on his way to Australia.

    The first time my name ever appeared among public writers of repute was on the handsomely printed list of contributors to the Leader.  The paper was intended to be fearless, and my name was thought to be a necessary proof of it, as the paper appealed to the boldness of thought of the time.  I was against my name being advertised, as it might bring loss to the paper, my rule being to aid, but never to hamper, an insurgent cause.  My name probably cost the Leader £1,000 or more.  Professor Maurice took alarm, and he alarmed Professor Charles Kingsley, who was not easy to alarm.  There were other disquieting names, in our list of writers, but mine was then thought the one most foreboding of innovation, as I was regarded as an atheist and republican.  How far, or in what sense this was true, ecclesiastical persons never inquired then.  What they inferred from my name were to them as facts.

    The Rev. Mr. Maurice's son, in his biography of his father, represented Kingsley as telling Mr. Maurice that the publication of his name on the list of the contributors to the Leader was "an impudent attempt to involve him in opinions which he utterly disclaimed and hated."  It is difficult to imagine Kingsley saying this—since he knew to the contrary.  His name was only published once as one among persons "who had contributed to the Leader."  We only knew Kingsley as an earnest and manly Christian who, differing from us on some questions, did not shrink from attacking us in our own columns.  His only contribution was a letter of assault.  No orthodox newspaper would have permitted us to attack its cardinal views in its own columns.  We not only permitted Kingsley to do this, but honoured him for it.  Of thirty names we gave, only five were "involved" in the opinion of the Leader.  The others were men and women of mark, whom we had allowed to contribute expositions of their views, irrespective of any coincidence with the programme of the Leader.  The conductors of the paper were men of scrupulous honour, and far too proud to admit Mr. Kingsley to write if he had given any hint that he regarded it as "an impudent attempt to involve him in opinions which he utterly disclaimed."
    The Rev. Dr. Jelf had laid down the following fine ecclesiastical syllogism to the Rev. Mr. Maurice;—"Mr. Maurice is identified with Mr. Kingsley, Mr. Kingsley is identified with Mr. Holyoake—Mr. Holyoake is identified with Tom Paine."

    Had I spoken of Dr. Richard Jelf as Dick Jelf, it would be rightly counted vulgar offensiveness—to speak of Thomas Paine as "Tom Paine" was not less so.  Paine was a passionate theist, which should exempt him from clerical disrespect.  He inspired the American nation with a spirit of independence, which made it free, and that is more than all the Jelfs that ever were have done.  It happens that I was more opposed to Paine's principles than Dr. Jelf, but the antagonists of the Leader were not often particular in facts or courtesy.

    After the Leader had been issued for some months, and the public could judge how far it fulfilled its professions, the following words were used on the only announcement in which Mr. Kingsley's name appeared:

    "England is said to be governed by Opinion.  To endow that Power with its fullest action the Leader offers a systematic utterance for perfect freedom of opinion in politics, religion, literature, science, and art.

    "For the struggling nationalities abroad it offers a frank voice among the English people.  In its columns, devoted weekly to European Democracy, it gives an official exposition of the opinions and acts of the great leaders of the European Democratic party, in a form of such authenticity as will enable the public to correct the misrepresentations of the adverse journals of the day.  The Leader seeks to develop the utmost freedom of intellect, energy of production, popular power, and in the political and social relation of all classes the paramount interest of natural affection."

    With all the advance of opinion, the Leader has had no successor in range, thoroughness, and courage.

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These Chapters, save a few additional ones, are reprinted from the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle.


 "Lord Wolseley had declared that Wellington cannot be placed in the first line of Generals because he did not secure, nor even try to secure the affection of his soldiers."  Wellington, George Hooper. Macmillan, 1889, p. 224.



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