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Title: Historical and Political Essays
Author: Lecky, William Edward Hartpole, 1838-1903
Language: English
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Longmans, Green, and Co.
39 Paternoster Row, London
New York, Bombay, and Calcutta
All rights reserved


     THOUGHTS ON HISTORY                                        1

     THE POLITICAL VALUE OF HISTORY                            21

     THE EMPIRE: ITS VALUE AND ITS GROWTH                      43

     IRELAND IN THE LIGHT OF HISTORY                           68

     FORMATIVE INFLUENCES                                      90

     CARLYLE'S MESSAGE TO HIS AGE                             104

     ISRAEL AMONG THE NATIONS                                 116

     MADAME DE STAËL                                          131


     THE FIFTEENTH EARL OF DERBY                              200

     MR. HENRY REEVE                                          242

     DEAN MILMAN                                              249

     QUEEN VICTORIA AS A MORAL FORCE                          275

     OLD-AGE PENSIONS                                         298

     INDEX                                                    319

The Essays 'Thoughts on History,' 'Formative Influences,'
'Madame de Staël,' 'Israel among the Nations,' 'Old-age
Pensions,' appeared originally in the American Review, the
_Forum_--the first under the title of 'The Art of Writing
History'; 'Ireland in the Light of History,' in the _North
American Review_. Those on Sir Robert Peel, Mr. Henry Reeve,
and Dean Milman were written for the _Edinburgh Review_. The
Essay on 'Queen Victoria as a Moral Force' appeared first in
the _Pall Mall Magazine_; 'Carlyle's Message to His Age' in
the _Contemporary Review_. 'The Political Value of History'
was a presidential address delivered before the Birmingham and
Midland Institute; 'The Empire,' an inaugural address
delivered at the Imperial Institute; and the 'Memoir of the
Fifteenth Earl of Derby' was originally prefixed to the
volumes of his speeches and addresses.



I do not propose in this paper to enter into any general inquiry about
the best method of writing history. Such inquiries appear to me to be
of no real value, for there are many different kinds of history which
should be written in many different ways. A diplomatic, a military, or
a parliamentary history, dealing with a short period or a particular
episode, must evidently be treated in a very different spirit from an
extended history where the object of the historian should be to
describe the various aspects of the national life, and to trace
through long periods of time the ultimate causes of national progress
and decay. The history of religion, of art, of literature, of social
and industrial development, of scientific progress, have all their
different methods. A writer who treats of some great revolution that
has transformed human affairs should deal largely in retrospect, for
the most important part of his task is to explain the long course of
events that prepared and produced the catastrophe; while a writer who
treats of more normal times will do well to plunge rapidly into his

Historians, too, differ widely in their special talents, and these
talents are never altogether combined. The power of vividly realising
and portraying men, or societies or modes of thought that have long
since passed away; the power of arranging and combining great
multitudes of various facts; the power of judging with discrimination,
accuracy, and impartiality conflicting arguments or evidence; the
power of tracing through the long course of events the true chain of
cause and effect, selecting the facts that are most valuable and
significant and explaining the relation between general causes and
particular effects, are all very different and belong to different
types of mind. It is idle to expect a writer with the gifts of a
Clarendon, a Kinglake, or a Froude to write history in the spirit of a
Hallam or a Grote. Writers who are eminently distinguished for wide,
patient, and accurate research have sometimes little power either of
describing or interpreting the facts which they collect. All that can
be said with any profit is that each writer will do best if he follows
the natural bent of his genius, and that he should select those kinds
or periods of history in which his special gifts have most scope and
the qualities in which he is deficient are least needed.

It is the fashion of a modern school of historical writers to deplore
what they call the intrusion of literature into history. History, in
their judgment, should be treated as science and not as literature,
and the kind of intellect they most value is not unlike that of a
skilful and well-trained attorney. To collect documents with industry;
to compare, classify, interpret and estimate them is the main work of
the historian. It is no doubt true that there are some fields of
history where the primary facts are so little known, so much contested
or so largely derived from recondite manuscript sources, that a
faithful historian will be obliged in justice to his readers to
sacrifice both proportion and artistic charm to the supreme importance
of analysing evidence, reproducing documents and accumulating proofs;
but in general the depreciation of the literary element in history
seems to me essentially wrong. It is only necessary to recall the
names of Herodotus and Thucydides, of Livy and Tacitus, of Gibbon and
Macaulay, and of the long line of great masters of style who have
related the annals of France. It may, indeed, be confidently asserted
that there is no subject in which rarer literary qualities are more
demanded than in the higher forms of history. The art of portraying
characters; of describing events; of compressing, arranging, and
selecting great masses of heterogeneous facts, of conducting many
different chains of narrative without confusion or obscurity; of
preserving in a vast and complicated subject the true proportion and
relief, will tax the highest literary skill, and no one who does not
possess some, at least, of these gifts in an unusual measure is likely
to attain a permanent place among the great masters of history. It is
a misfortune when some stirring and momentous period falls into the
hands of the mere compiler, for he occupies the ground and a really
great writer will hesitate to appropriate and plagiarise the materials
his predecessor has collected. There are books of great research and
erudition which one would have wished to have been all re-written by
some writer of real genius who could have given order, meaning and
vividness to a mere chaos of accurate and laboriously sifted learning.
The great prominence which it is now the fashion to ascribe to the
study of diplomatic documents, is very apt to destroy the true value
and perspective of history. It is always the temptation of those who
are dealing with manuscript materials to overrate the small personal
details which they bring to light, and to give them much more than
their due space in their narrative. This tendency the new school
powerfully encourages. It is quite right that the treasure-houses of
diplomatic correspondence which have of late years been thrown open
should be explored and sifted, but history written chiefly from these
materials, though it has its own importance, is not likely to be
distinguished either by artistic form or by philosophical value. Those
who are immersed in these studies are very apt to overrate their
importance and the part which diplomacy and statesmanship have borne
in the great movement of human affairs.

A true and comprehensive history should be the life of a nation. It
should describe it in its larger and more various aspects. It should
be a study of causes and effects, of distant as well as proximate
causes, and of the large, slow and permanent evolution of things. It
should include, as Buckle and Macaulay saw, the social, the
industrial, the intellectual life of the nation as well as mere
political changes, and it should be pre-eminently marked by a true
perspective dealing with subjects at a length proportioned to their
real importance. All this requires a powerful and original intellect
quite different from that of a mere compiler. It requires too, in a
high degree, the kind of imagination which enables a man to reproduce
not only the acts but the feelings, the ideals, the modes of thought
and life of a distant past, and pierce through the actions and
professions of men to their real characters. Insight into character is
one of the first requisites of a historian. It is therefore, much to
be desired that he should possess a wide knowledge of the world, the
knowledge of different types of character, foreign as well as English,
which travel and society and practical experience of business can
give, and it will also be of no small advantage to him if he has
passed through more than one intellectual or religious phase, widening
the area of his appreciation and realisations. He should also have
enough of the dramatic element to enable him to throw himself into
ways of reasoning or feeling very different from his own. One of the
most valuable of all forms of historical imagination is that which
enables a writer to place himself in the point of view of the best men
on different sides, and to bring out the full sense of opposing
arguments. All these gifts or qualities are never in a high degree
united, but they are all essential to a great historian, and a true
school of history should widen instead of narrowing our conception of

The supreme virtue of the historian is truthfulness, and it may be
violated in many different degrees. The worst form is when a writer
deliberately falsifies facts or deliberately excludes from his picture
qualifying circumstances. But there are other and much more subtle
ways in which party spirit continually and often quite unconsciously
distorts history. All history is necessarily a selection of facts, and
a writer who is animated by a strong sympathy with one side of a
question or a strong desire to prove some special point will be much
tempted in his selection to give an undue prominence to those that
support his view, or, even where neither facts nor arguments are
suppressed, to give a party character to his work by an unfair
distribution of lights and shades. The strong and vivid epithets are
chiefly reserved for the good or bad deeds on one side, the vague,
general and comparatively colourless epithets for the corresponding
deeds on the other side; and in this way very similar facts are
brought before the reader with such different degrees of illumination
and relief that they make a wholly different impression on his mind.
In the history of Macaulay this defect may, I think, be especially
traced. The characteristic defect of that great and in most respects
admirable writer, both as historian and artist, was the singular
absence of graduation in his mind. The neutral tints which are
essential to the accurate shading of character seemed almost wanting,
and a love of strong contrasted lights and shades, coupled with his
supreme command of powerful epithets, continually misled him. But no
attentive reader can fail to observe how unequally those epithets are
distributed and how clearly this inequality discloses the strong bias
under which he wrote.

The truth of an historical picture lies mainly in its judicious and
accurate shading, and it is this art which the historian should
especially cultivate. He will scarcely do so with success unless it
becomes to him not merely a matter of duty, but also a pleasure and a
pride. The kind of interest which he takes in his narrative should be
much less that of a politician and an advocate than of a painter, who,
now darkening and now lightening the picture, seeks by many delicate
touches to catch with exact fidelity the tone and hue of the object he

The degree of certainty that it is possible to attain in history
varies greatly in different departments. The growth of institutions
and laws, military events, changes in manners and in creeds, can be
described with much confidence, and although it is more difficult to
depict the inner moral life of nations, the influences that form their
characters and prepare them for greatness or decay, yet when the
materials for our induction are sufficiently large this field of
history may be studied with great profit. Diplomatic history and the
more secret springs of political history can only be fully disclosed
when the archives relating to them have been explored and when the
confidential correspondence of the chief actors in them has been
published. The biographical element in history is always the most
uncertain. Even among contemporaries the judgment of character and
motives depends largely on indications so slight and subtle that they
rarely pass into books and are only fully felt by direct personal
contact, and the smallest knowledge of life shows how quickly
anecdotes and sayings are distorted, coloured, and misplaced when they
pass from lip to lip. Most of the 'good sayings' of history are
invention, and most of them have been attributed to different persons.
A history which is plainly written under the influence of party bias
has the value of an advocate's speech giving one side of the question.
When our only materials for the knowledge of a period are derived from
such histories, the saying of Voltaire should be remembered--that we
can confidently believe only the evil which a party writer tells of
his own side and the good which he recognises in his opponents. In
judging the historian we must consider his nearness to the events he
relates, his probable means of information and the internal evidence
in his narrative of accuracy, honesty, and judgment, and we must also
consider the standard of proof and the methods of historical writing
prevailing in his time. A modern writer who placed in the mouths of
his personages speeches which he himself invented would be justly
discredited, but in antiquity it was a recognised custom for a
historian to embody in fictitious speeches the reflections suggested
by his narrative and the motives which he believed to have actuated
his heroes.

Different ages differ enormously in the severity of proof which they
exact, in the degree of accuracy which they attain. The credibility of
a statement also depends not only on the amount of its evidence, but
also on its own inherent probability. Everyone will feel that an
amount of testimony that would be quite sufficient to persuade him
that a butcher's boy had been seen driving along a highway is wholly
different from that which would be required to persuade him that a
ghost had been met there. The same rule applies to the history of the
past, and it is complicated by the great difference in different ages
of the measure of probability, or, in other words, by the strong
predisposition in certain stages of knowledge to accept statements or
explanations of facts which in later stages we know to be incredible
or in a high degree improbable. Few subjects in history are more
difficult than the laws of evidence in dealing with the supernatural
and the extent to which the authority of historians in relating
credible and probable facts is invalidated by the presence of a
mythical element in their narratives.

Connected with this subject is also the question how far it is
possible by merely internal evidence to decompose an ancient document,
resolving it into its separate elements, distinguishing its different
dates and its different degrees of credibility. The reader is no doubt
aware with what a rare skill this method of inquiry has been pursued
in the present century, chiefly by great German and Dutch scholars, in
dealing with the early Jewish writings. At the same time, without
disputing the value of their work or the importance of many of the
results at which they have arrived, I may be pardoned for expressing
my belief that this kind of investigation is often pursued with an
exaggerated confidence. Plausible conjecture is too frequently
mistaken for positive proof. Undue significance is attached to what
may be mere casual coincidences, and a minuteness of accuracy is
professed in discriminating between the different elements in a
narrative which cannot be attained by mere internal evidence. In all
writings, but especially in the writings of an age when criticism was
unknown, there will be repetitions, contradictions, inconsistencies
and diversities of style which do not necessarily indicate different
authorship or dates.

I have spoken of the uncertainty of the biographical element in
history. It must, however, be said that when a historian is dealing
with men who have played a very prominent part on the stage of life,
the general acceptance of his judgment is a strong corroboration of
its truth. It may be added that the later judgment of men is not
unfrequently more true than the contemporary judgment. The wisdom of a
teaching or of a policy is shown by its results, and these results are
in most cases very gradually disclosed. Great men are like great
mountains which are surrounded by lower peaks that often obscure their
grandeur and seem to a near observer to equal or even to overtop them.
It is only when seen from far off that their true dimensions are fully
realised and they soar to heaven above all rivals. In the page of
history men are judged mainly by the net result of their lives, by the
broad lines of their characters and achievements. Many injudicious
words, many minor weaknesses of conduct, are forgotten. Faults of
manner, deficiencies of tact, awkwardnesses of appearance, which tell
so largely upon the judgments of contemporaries, are no longer seen.
The conversational nimbleness and versatility of intellect, the charm
or assurance or magnetism of manner, the weight of social position,
all of which tend to secure to an inferior man a pre-eminence in the
circle in which he moves, are equally evanescent, and the shy, rugged,
and tactless recluse often emerges on the strength of his genuine and
abiding performances to a position in the eyes of the world which he
never attained during his lifetime.

That fine saying of Cardan, 'Tempus mea possessio, tempus ager meus,'
might be the motto of the historian. Time is the field which he
cultivates, and a true sense of space and distance should be one of
the chief characteristics of his work. Few things are more difficult
to attain than a just perspective in history. The most dramatic
incidents are not the most important, and in weighing the joys and
sorrows of the past our measures of judgment are almost hopelessly
false. The most humane man cannot emancipate himself from the law of
his nature, according to which he is more affected by some tragic
circumstance which has taken place in his own house or in his own
street than by a catastrophe which has carried anguish and desolation
over enormous areas in a distant continent. In history, too, there are
vast tracts which are almost necessarily unrealised. We judge a period
mainly by its great men, by its brilliant or salient incidents, by the
fortunes of a small class; and the great mass of obscure, suffering,
inarticulate humanity, whose happiness is often so profoundly affected
by political and military events, almost escapes our notice. It should
be the object of history to bring before us past events in their true
proportion and significance, and one of the greatest improvements in
modern history is the increased attention which is paid to the
social, industrial, and moral history of the poor. The paucity of our
information and the difficulty of realising the conditions of obscure
multitudes will always make this branch of history very imperfect, but
it is one of the most essential to the just judgment of the past.

Another task which lies before the historian is that of distinguishing
proximate from ultimate causes. Our first natural impulse is to
attribute a great change to the men who effected it and to the period
in which it took place, and to neglect or underrate the long train of
causes which had been, often through many generations, preparing its
advent. A faithful historian must especially guard against this error.
He must study the slow process of growth as well as the moment of
efflorescence, the long progress of decay as well as the final
catastrophe. He will probably find that the part played by statesmen
and legislatures is less than he had imagined, and that the causes of
the movements he relates must be sought over a wider area and through
a longer period.

Moral, intellectual, or economical movements very slightly connected
with political life are often those which have most largely
contributed to the good or evil fortunes of a nation; and even in the
sphere of politics it is not the events which attract the most vivid
contemporary interest that have the most enduring influence. Few
things contribute so much to the formation of the social type as the
laws regulating the succession of property and especially the
agglomeration or division of landed property. The growth of militarism
in a nation, besides its direct and obvious consequences, forms a type
of character which will sooner or later show itself in almost every
department of legislation, and the tendency of politics to enlarge or
narrow the sphere of individual liberty or of government control, will
affect most deeply the habits of the people. Laws regulating private
enterprises, substituting State control or initiative for individual
action, encouraging or discouraging thrift, and above all interfering
with free contracts, have much more than an immediate influence, for
they become the prolific parents of many further extensions. In the
words of an excellent observer, it will be found 'that our legislative
interference is but the first link of a long chain of repetitions,
every subsequent interference being naturally produced by the effects
of the preceding.' It is by studying such tendencies through long
periods of time that their good or evil influences may be best
discovered, and this should be one of the great tasks of the

But, however large a part may be given to the impersonal influences in
history, he will still be largely concerned with the record of
individual achievements, and the great men of the past will form the
most conspicuous landmarks of his narrative. I have often thought,
however, that nations are judged too much by the great men they have
produced and not sufficiently by the way in which they have
discriminated among them and appreciated them. Genius is like the wind
that bloweth where it listeth, and it often appears in strangely
uncongenial quarters. The true nobility of a nation is shown by the
men they choose, by the men they follow, by the men they admire, by
the ideals of character and conduct they place before them. Tried by
such tests, there is often much that is profoundly saddening in the
history of countries that have been far from poor in the number of
their great men.

In the judgment of historical characters there are two cautions on
which it may not be useless to dwell. There is a large class of public
men who show little capacity in dealing with or directing the present
conditions of their time, but who see clearly the bourne to which
existing forces or tendencies are moving and who, judged by their
distant forecasts, will appear much wiser than their contemporaries.
It is the natural bias of the historian to place them perhaps higher
than they deserve. This power of just speculative foresight is no very
rare gift, and in public affairs it is often as much a hindrance as a
help. Forms of government and other great religious or political
institutions, like the products of nature, have their times of
immaturity, of growth, of ripeness and of decay, and it by no means
follows because they at last become indefensible, that they have not
during many generations discharged useful functions and that those who
first assailed and condemned them are deserving of praise. Not
unfrequently, indeed, a public man must take his choice whether by
fully identifying himself with the existing conditions around him and
employing them to the best advantages he will lead a useful and
practical life, or whether as an advanced thinker he will associate
himself with the cause that is one day to conquer, place himself in
the van of progress and at the sacrifice of much present influence
deserve the credit of foresight.

Historians will probably always judge men and policies by their net
results, by their final consequences, and this judgment is on the
whole the most sure that we can attain. It is not, however, altogether
infallible. Apart from the question of the moral character of the
methods employed which a good historian should never omit from his
consideration, success is not always a decisive proof of sagacity.
Chance and the unexpected play a great part in human affairs, and a
judgment founded on a perfectly just estimate of probabilities will
often prove wrong. The result which was the least probable will come
true, some wholly unforeseen and unforeseeable occurrence will scatter
dangers that were very real and give a new complexion to events. The
rise of some pre-eminently great or of some pre-eminently mischievous
personage among the guiding influences of a nation will derange the
most sagacious calculations, and the reckless gambler or the obtuse
obstructionist may prove more right than the most cautious, the most
skilful, the most farseeing statesman.

A fatal and very common error is that of judging the actions of the
past by the moral standard of our own age. This is especially the
error of novices in history and of those who without any wide and
general culture devote themselves exclusively to a single period.
While the primary and essential elements of right and wrong remain
unchanged, nothing is more certain than that the standard or ideal of
duty is continually altering. A very humane man in another age may
have done things which would now be regarded as atrociously barbarous.
A very virtuous man may have done things which would now indicate
extreme profligacy. We seldom indeed make sufficient allowance for the
degree in which the judgments and dispositions of even the best man
are coloured by the moral tone of the time or society in which they
live. And what is true of individuals is equally true of nations. In
order to judge equitably the legislation of any people, we must always
consider corresponding contemporary legislations and ideas. When this
is neglected our judgments of the past become wholly false. How often,
for example, has such a subject as the history of the penal laws
against Irish Catholics been treated without the smallest reference to
the contemporary laws against Protestants that existed in every
Catholic nation and the contemporary laws against Catholics that
existed in almost every Protestant country in Europe. How often have
the English commercial restrictions on the American colonies been
treated as if they were instances of extreme and exceptional tyranny,
while a more extended knowledge would show that they were simply the
expression of ideas of commercial policy and about the relation of
dependencies to the mother-country which then almost universally

It is not merely the moral standard that changes. A corresponding
change takes place in the moral type, or, in other words, in the class
of virtues which is especially cultivated and especially valued. To
know an age aright we should above all things seek to understand its
ideal, the direction in which the stream of its self-sacrifice and
moral energy naturally flowed. Few things in history are more
interesting and more valuable than a study of the causes that produced
and modified these successive ideals. Thus in the moral type of pagan
antiquity the civic virtues occupied incomparably the foremost place.
The idea of a supremely good man was essentially that of a man of
action, of a man whose whole life was devoted to the service of his
country. The life and death of Cato were for generations the favourite
model. He was deemed, in the words of an old Latin historian, to be of
all men the one 'most like to virtue.' This pattern retained its force
till the softening influence of the Greek spirit, permeating Roman
life, made the stoical ideal seem too hard and unsympathising; till
the corruption and despotism of the Empire had withdrawn the best men
from political life and attached a certain taint or stigma to public
employment; till new religions arose in the East, bringing with them
new ideals to govern the world. Gradually we may trace the
contemplative virtues rising to the foremost place until, about the
fifth century, the ideal had totally changed. The heroic type was
replaced by the saintly type. The supremely good man was now the
ascetic. The first condition of sanctity was a complete abandonment of
secular duties and cares and a complete subjugation of the body. A
vast literature of legends arose reflecting and glorifying the
prevailing ideal and holding up the hermit life as the supreme pattern
of perfection, and this literature occupies a place in mediævalism
very similar to that held by the 'Lives' of Plutarch in antiquity.

Ancient art was essentially the glorification of the body, a
representation of the full strength and beauty of developed manhood.
The saint of the mediæval mosaic represents the body in its extreme
maceration and humiliation. The rhetorician, Dio Chrysostom, in a
somewhat whimsical passage, which was suggested by a remark of Plato,
found a special moral significance in the fact that Homer, though he
places his heroes on the the banks of what he calls 'the fishy
Hellespont,' never makes them eat fish, but always flesh and the flesh
of oxen, for this, as he says, is 'strength-producing food' and is
therefore suited for the formation of heroes and the proper diet for
men of virtue. Compare this judgment with the protracted, and indeed
incredible, fasts which the monkish writers delighted in attributing
to the saints of the desert, and we have a vivid picture of the change
that had passed over the ideal.

But as time moved on the ascetic ideal gradually declined and was
replaced by the very different ideal of chivalry. It consisted chiefly
of three new elements. The first element was a spirit of gallantry
which gave women a wholly new place in the imaginations of men. It was
in part a reaction against the extreme austerity of the saints, and
this reaction was much intensified after the cessation of the panic
which had risen at the close of the tenth century about the
approaching end of the world. It was in part produced by the softer
and more epicurean civilisation which grew up in the country bordering
on the Pyrenees. It was especially represented in the romances and
poems of the Troubadours, and the new tendency even received some
assistance from the Church when the Council of Clermont, which
originated the Crusades, imposed on the knight the religious
obligation of defending all widows and orphans.

The second element was an increased reverence for secular rank, which
grew out of the feudal system, when a great hereditary aristocracy
arose and all European society was moulded into a compact hierarchy,
of which the serf was the basis and the emperor the apex. The
principle of subordination and obedience ran through the whole
edifice, and a respect for rank was universally diffused. Men came to
associate their ideal of greatness with regal or noble authority, and
they were therefore prepared to idealise any great sovereign who might
arise. Such a sovereign appeared in Charlemagne, who exercised upon
Christendom a fascination not less powerful than that which Alexander
had once exercised upon Greece, and he accordingly soon became the
centre of a whole literature of romance.

The third element was the fusion of religious enthusiasm with the
military spirit. Christianity in its first phases was utterly opposed
to the military spirit; but this opposition was naturally mitigated
when the Church triumphed under Constantine and became associated with
governments and armies. The hostility was still further qualified when
many tribes of warlike barbarians embraced the faith, and the military
obligation which was an essential element of feudalism acted in the
same direction. But, above all, the rise and conquests of
Mohammedanism awoke the military energies of Christendom and
determined the direction it should take. In the Crusades the two great
streams of military enthusiasm and of religious enthusiasm met, and
the result was the formation of a new ideal which for a long period
mainly governed the imagination of Christendom.

It for a time absorbed, eclipsed, and transformed all purely national
ideals. No poet was ever more intensely English in his character and
sympathies than Chaucer, and he wrote when the dazzling glories of
Crécy and Poitiers were still very recent. Yet it is not on these
fields, but in the long wars with the Moslems, that his pattern knight
had won his renown. The military expeditions of Charlemagne were
directed almost exclusively against the Saxons and against Slavonic
tribes. With the Spanish Mohammedans he came but very slightly in
contact. He made in person but one expedition against them, and that
expedition was both insignificant and unsuccessful. But in the
Karlovingian romances, which were written when the crusading
enthusiasm was at its height, the figure of the great emperor
underwent a strange and most significant transformation. The German
wars were scarcely noticed. Charlemagne is surrounded with the special
glory that ought to have belonged to Charles Martel. He is represented
as having passed his entire life in a victorious struggle with the
Mohammedans of Europe, and is even gravely credited with a triumphant
expedition to Jerusalem. The three romances of the Crusades which are
believed to be the oldest were all written by monks, and they all make
Charlemagne their hero. Even geography was transformed by the new
enthusiasm, and old maps sometimes represent Jerusalem as the centre
of the world.

In few periods has there been so great a difference between the ideals
created by the popular imagination and the realities that are
recognised by history. Few wars have been accompanied by more cruelty,
more outrage, and more licentiousness than the Crusades or have
brought a blacker cloud of disasters in their train. Yet the idea that
inspired them was a lofty one, and they were so speedily transfigured
by the imaginations of men that in combination with the other
influences I have mentioned they created an ideal which is one of the
most beautiful in the history of the world. We may trace it clearly in
the romances of Arthur and Charlemagne and of the "Cid;" in the
"Red-Cross Knight" of Tasso and Spenser; in the old ballads which
paint so vividly the hero of chivalry, ever ready to draw his sword
for his faith and his lady-love and in the cause of the feeble and the
oppressed. The glorification of military courage and self-sacrifice
which had been so prominent in antiquity was again in the ascendant,
but it was combined with a new kind of honour and with a new vein of
courtesy, modesty, and gentleness. When we apply the epithet
'chivalrous' to a modern gentleman, this is no unmeaning term. There
is even now an element in that character which may be distinctly
traced to the ideal of chivalry which the Crusades made dominant in

I do not propose to follow the history of other ideals that have in
turn prevailed. What I have written will, I trust, be sufficient to
illustrate a kind of history which appears to me to possess much
interest and value. It will show, too, that a faithful historian is
very largely concerned with the fictions as well as with the facts of
the past. Legends which have no firm historical basis are often of the
highest historical value as reflecting the moral sentiments of their
time. Nor do they merely reflect them. In some periods they contribute
perhaps more than any other influence to mould and colour them and to
give them an enduring strength. The facts of history have been largely
governed by its fictions. Great events often acquire their full power
over the human mind only when they have passed through the
transfiguring medium of the imagination, and men as they were supposed
to be have even sometimes exercised a wider influence than men as they
actually were. Ideals ultimately rule the world, and each before it
loses its ascendancy bequeaths some moral truth as an abiding legacy
to the human race.


When, shortly after I had accepted the honourable task which I am
endeavouring to fulfil to-night, I received from your Secretary a
report of the annual proceedings of the Birmingham and Midland
Institute,--when I observed the immense range and variety of subjects
included within your programme, illustrating so strikingly the intense
intellectual activity of this great town,--my first feeling was one of
some bewilderment and dismay. What, I asked myself, could I say that
would be of much real value, addressing an unknown audience, and
relating to fields of knowledge so vast, so multifarious, and in many
of their parts so far beyond the range of my own studies? On
reflection, however, it appeared to me that in this, as in most other
cases, the proverb was a wise one which bids the cobbler stick to his
last, and that a writer who, during many years of his life, has been
engaged in the study of English history could hardly do better than
devote the time at his disposal to-night to a few reflections on the
political value of history, and on the branches and methods of
historical study that are most fitted to form a sound political

Is history a study of real use in practical, and especially in
political, life? The question, as you know, has been by no means
always answered in the same way. In its earlier stages history was
regarded chiefly as a form of poetry recording the more dramatic
actions of kings, warriors, and statesmen. Homer and the early
ballads are indeed the first historians of their countries, and long
after Homer one of the most illustrious of the critics of antiquity
described history as merely 'poetry free from the incumbrance of
verse.' The portraits that adorned it gave some insight into human
character; it breathed noble sentiments, rewarded and stimulated noble
actions, and kindled by its strong appeals to the imagination high
patriotic feeling; but its end was rather to paint than to guide, to
consecrate a noble past than to furnish a key for the future; and the
artist in selecting his facts looked mainly for those which could
throw the richest colour upon his canvas. Most experience was in his
eyes (to adopt an image of Coleridge) like the stern light of a ship,
which illuminates only the path we have already traversed; and a large
proportion of the subjects which are most significant as illustrating
the true welfare and development of nations were deliberately rejected
as below the dignity of history. The old conception of history can
hardly be better illustrated than in the words of Savage Landor. 'Show
me,' he makes one of his heroes say, 'how great projects were
executed, great advantages gained, and great calamities averted. Show
me the generals and the statesmen who stood foremost, that I may bend
to them in reverence.... Let the books of the Treasury lie closed as
religiously as the Sibyl's. Leave weights and measures in the
market-place; Commerce in the harbour; the Arts in the light they
love; Philosophy in the shade. Place History on her rightful throne,
and at the sides of her Eloquence and War.'[1]

It was chiefly in the eighteenth century that a very different
conception of history grew up. Historians then came to believe that
their task was not so much to paint a picture as to solve a problem;
to explain or illustrate the successive phases of national growth,
prosperity, and adversity. The history of morals, of industry, of
intellect, and of art; the changes that take place in manners or
beliefs; the dominant ideas that prevailed in successive periods; the
rise, fall, and modification of political constitutions; in a word,
all the conditions of national well-being became the subjects of their
works. They sought rather to write a history of peoples than a history
of kings. They looked specially in history for the chain of causes and
effects. They undertook to study in the past the physiology of
nations, and hoped by applying the experimental method on a large
scale to deduce some lessons of real value about the conditions on
which the well-being of society mainly depends.

How far have they succeeded in their attempt, and furnished us with a
real compass for political guidance? Let me in the first place frankly
express my own belief that to many readers of history the study is not
only useless, but even positively misleading. An unintelligent, a
superficial, a pedantic or an inaccurate use of history is the source
of very many errors in practical judgment. Human affairs are so
infinitely complex that it is vain to expect that they will ever
exactly reproduce themselves, or that any study of the past can enable
us to predict the future with the minuteness and the completeness that
can be attained in the exact sciences. Nor will any wise man judge the
merits of existing institutions solely on historic grounds. Do not
persuade yourself that any institution, however great may be its
antiquity, however transcendent may have been its uses in a remote
past, can permanently justify its existence, unless it can be shown
to exercise a really beneficial influence over our own society and our
own age. It is equally true that no institution which is exercising
such a beneficial influence should be condemned, because it can be
shown from history that under other conditions and in other times its
influence was rather for evil than for good.

These propositions may seem like truisms; yet how often do we hear a
kind of reasoning that is inconsistent with them! How often, for
example, in the discussions on the Continent on the advantages and
disadvantages of monastic institutions has the chief stress of the
argument been laid upon the great benefits which those institutions
produced in ages that were utterly different from our own,--in the
dark period of the barbarian invasions, when they were the only
refuges of a pacific civilisation, the only libraries, the only
schools, the only centres of art, the only refuge for gentle and
intellectual natures; the chief barrier against violence and rapine;
the chief promoters of agriculture and industry! How often in
discussions on the merits and demerits of an Established Church in
England have we heard arguments drawn from the hostility which the
Church of England showed towards English liberty in the time of the
Stuarts; although it is abundantly evident that the dangers of a royal
despotism, which were then so serious, have utterly disappeared, and
that the political action of the Church of England at that period was
mainly governed by a doctrine of the Divine right of kings, and of the
duty of passive obedience, which is now as dead as the old belief that
the king's touch could cure scrofula! How often have the champions of
modern democracy appealed in support of their views to the glories of
the democracies of ancient Greece, without ever reminding their
hearers that these small municipal republics rested on the basis of
slavery, and that the bulk of those who would exercise the chief
controlling influence over affairs in a pure democracy of the modern
type were absolutely excluded from political power! How often in
discussions about the advantages and disadvantages of Home Rule in
Ireland do we find arguments drawn from the merits or demerits of the
Irish Parliament of the eighteenth century, with a complete
forgetfulness of the fact that this Parliament consisted exclusively
of a Protestant gentry; that it represented in the highest degree the
property of the country, and the classes who are most closely attached
to English rule; that it was constituted in such a manner that the
English Government could exercise a complete control over its
deliberations, and that for good or for ill it was utterly unlike any
body that could now be constituted in Ireland!

Or again, to turn to another field: it is quite certain that every age
has special dangers to guard against, and that as time moves on these
dangers not only change, but are sometimes even reversed. There have
been periods in English history when the great dangers to be
encountered sprang from the excessive and encroaching power of a
monarchy or of an aristocracy. The battle to be then fought was for
the free exercise of religious worship and expression of religious
opinion, for a free parliament, for a free press, for a free platform,
for an independent jury-box. All the best patriotism, all the most
heroic self-sacrifice of the nation, was thrown into defence of these
causes; and the wisest statesmen of the time made it the main object
of their legislation to protect and consolidate them.

These things are now as valuable as they ever were, but no reasonable
man will maintain that they are in the smallest danger. The battles of
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries have been definitely won. A
kind of language which at one period of English history implied the
noblest heroism is now the idlest and cheapest of clap-trap. The
sycophant and the self-seeker bow before quite other idols than of
old. The dangers of the time come from other quarters; other
tendencies prevail, other tasks remain to be accomplished; and a
public man who in framing his course followed blindly in the steps of
the heroes or reformers of the past would be like a mariner who set
his sails to the winds of yesterday.

It is difficult, I think, to doubt that the judgments of all of us are
more or less affected by causes of this kind. It is, I imagine, true
of the great majority of educated men that their first political
impression or bias is formed much less by the events of their own time
than by childish recollections of the more dramatic conflicts of the
past. We are Cavaliers or Roundheads before we are Conservatives or
Liberals; and although we gradually learn to realise how profoundly
the condition of affairs and the balance of forces have altered, yet
no wise man can doubt the power which the first bias of the
imagination exercises in very many cases through a whole life.
Language which grew out of bygone conflicts continues to be used long
after those conflicts and their causes have ended; but that which was
once a very genuine voice comes at last to be little more than an
insincere echo.

The best corrective for this kind of evil is a really intelligent
study of history. One of the first tasks that every sincere student
should set before himself is to endeavour to understand what is the
dominant idea or characteristic of the period with which he is
occupied; what forces chiefly ruled it, what forces were then rising
into a dangerous ascendancy, and what forces were on the decline; what
illusions, what exaggerations, what false hopes and unworthy
influences chiefly prevailed. It is only when studied in this spirit
that the true significance of history is disclosed, and the same
method which furnishes a key to the past forms also an admirable
discipline for the judgment of the present. He who has learnt to
understand the true character and tendencies of many succeeding ages
is not likely to go very far wrong in estimating his own.

Another branch of history which I would especially commend to the
attention of all political students is the history of Institutions. In
the constantly fluctuating conditions of human life no institution
ever remained for a long period unaltered. Sometimes with changed
beliefs and changed conditions institutions lose all their original
utility. They become simply useless, obstructive, and corrupt; and
though by mere passive resistance they may continue to exist long
after they have ceased to serve any good purpose, they will at last be
undermined by their own abuses. Other institutions, on the other hand,
show the true characteristic of vitality--the power of adapting
themselves to changed conditions and new utilities. Few things in
history are more interesting and more instructive than a careful study
of these transformations. Sometimes the original objects almost wholly
disappear, and utilities which were either never contemplated by the
founders or were only regarded as of purely secondary importance take
the first place on the scene. The old plan and symmetry almost
disappear as the institution is modified now in this direction and now
in that to meet some pressing want. The first architects, if they
could rise from the dead, would scarcely recognise their
creation--would perhaps look on it with horror. The indirect
advantages of an institution are sometimes greater than its direct
ones; and institutions are often more valuable on account of the evils
they avert than on account of the positive advantages they produce.
Not unfrequently in their later and transformed condition they
exercise wider and greater influence than when they were originally
established; for the strength derived from the long traditions of the
past and from the habits that are formed around anything that is
deeply rooted in the national life gives them a vastly increased

There is probably no better test of the political genius of a nation
than the power which it possesses of adapting old institutions to new
wants; and it is, I think, in this skill and in this disposition that
the political pre-eminence of the English people has been most
conspicuously shown. It is difficult to overrate its importance. It is
the institutions of a country that chiefly maintain the sense of its
organic unity, its essential connection with its past. By their
continuous existence they bind together as by a living chain the past
with the present, the living with the dead.

Few greater calamities can befall a nation than to cut herself off, as
France did in her great Revolution, from all vital connection with her
own past. This is one of the chief lessons you will learn from
Burke--the greatest and truest of all our political teachers. Bacon
expressed in an admirable sentence the best spirit of English politics
when he urged that 'men in their innovations should follow the example
of Time itself, which indeed innovated greatly, but quietly, and by
degrees scarcely to be perceived.'

There is a third department of history which appears to me especially
valuable to political students. It is the history of those vast
Revolutions for good or for ill which seem to have transformed the
characters or permanently changed the fortunes of nations, either by a
sudden and violent shock or by the slow process of gradual renovation.
You will find on this subject, in our country, two great and opposite
exaggerations. There is a school of writers, of which Buckle is an
admirable representative, who are so struck by the long chain of
causes, extending over many centuries, that preceded and prepared
Revolutions, that they teach a kind of historic fatalism, reducing
almost to nothing the action of Individualities; and there is another
school, which is specially represented by Carlyle, who reduce all
history into biographies, into the action of a few great men upon
their kind.

The one class of writers will tell you with great truth that the Roman
Republic was not destroyed by Cæsar, but by the long train of
influences that made the career of Cæsar a possibility. They will show
how influences working through many generations had sapped the
foundations of the Republic--how the beliefs and habits on which it
once rested had passed away--how its institutions no longer
corresponded with the prevailing wants and ideas--how a form of
government which had proved excellently adapted for a restricted
dominion failed when the Roman eagles flew triumphantly over the whole
civilised world, and how in this manner the strongest tendencies of
the time were preparing the downfall of the Republic, and the
establishment of a great empire upon its ruins. They will show how the
intellectual influences of the Renaissance, the invention of printing,
and a crowd of other causes, many of them at first sight very remote
from theological controversies, had in the sixteenth century so
shaken the power of the Roman Catholic Church, that the way was
prepared for the Reformation, and it became possible for Luther and
Calvin to succeed, where Wyckliffe and Huss had failed. They will show
how profoundly our theological beliefs are affected by our general
conception of the system of the universe, and how inevitably, as
Science changes the latter, the former will undergo a corresponding
process of modification. Creeds that are no longer in harmony with the
general spirit of the time may long continue, but a new spirit will be
breathed into the old forms. Those portions which are most discordant
with our fresh knowledge will be neglected or attenuated. Although
they may not be openly discarded, they will cease to be realised or
vitally operative.

In the sphere of politics a similar law prevails, and the fate of
nations largely depends upon forces quite different from those on
which the mere political historian concentrates his attention. The
growth of military or industrial habits; the elevation or depression
of different classes; the changes that take place in the distribution
of wealth; inventions or discoveries that alter the course or
character of industry or commerce, or reverse the relative advantages
of different nations in the competitions of life; the increase and,
still more, the diffusion of knowledge; the many influences that
affect convictions, habits and ideals, that raise, or lower, or modify
the moral tone and type--all these things concur in shaping the
destinies of nations. Legislation is only really successful when it is
in harmony with the general spirit of the age. Laws and statesmen for
the most part indicate and ratify, but do not create. They are like
the hands of the watch, which move obedient to the hidden machinery

In all this kind of speculation there is, I believe, great truth, and
it opens out fields of inquiry that are of the utmost interest and
importance. I have, however, long thought that it has been pushed by
some modern writers to extravagant exaggeration. As you well know,
there is another aspect of history, which, long before Carlyle, was
enforced by some of the ablest and most independent intellects of
Christendom. Pascal tells us that if Cleopatra's nose had been
shorter, the whole face of the world might have been changed, and
Voltaire is never tired of dwelling on the small springs on which the
greatest events of history turn. Frederick the Great, who was probably
the keenest practical intellect of his age, constantly insisted on the
same view. In the vast field of politics, he maintained, casual events
which no human sagacity can predict play by far the largest part. We
are in most cases groping our way blindly in the dark. Occasionally,
when favourable circumstances occur, there is a gleam of light of
which the skilful avail themselves. All the rest is uncertainty. The
world is mainly governed by a multitude of secondary, obscure, or
impenetrable causes. It is a game of chance in which the most skilful
may lose like the most ignorant. 'The older one becomes the more
clearly one sees that King Hazard fashions three-fourths of the events
in this miserable world.'

My own view of this question is that though there are certain streams
of tendency, though there is a certain steady and orderly evolution
that it is impossible in the long run to resist, yet individual action
and even mere accident have borne a very great part in modifying the
direction of history. It is with History as with the general laws of
Nature. We can none of us escape the all-pervading force of
gravitation, or the influence of the climate under which we live, or
the succession of the seasons, or the laws of growth and of decay; yet
man is not a mere passive weed drifting helplessly upon the sea of
life, and human wisdom and human folly can do and have done much to
modify the conditions of his being.

It is quite true that religions depend largely for their continued
vitality upon the knowledge and intellectual atmosphere of their time;
but there are periods when the human mind is in such a state of
pliancy that a small pressure can give it a bent which will last for
generations. If Mohammed had been killed in one of the first
skirmishes of his career, I know no reason for believing that a great
monotheistic religion would have arisen in Arabia, capable of moulding
for more than twelve hundred years not only the beliefs, laws, and
governments, but also the inmost moral and mental character of a vast
section of the human race. Gibbon was probably right in his conjecture
that if Charles Martel had been defeated at the famous battle near
Tours, the creed of Islam would have overspread a great part of what
is now Christian Europe, and in that case it might have ruled over it
for centuries. No one can follow the history of the conversion of the
barbarians to Christianity without perceiving how often a religion has
been imposed in the first instance by the mere will of the ruler,
which gradually took such root that it became far too strong for any
political power to destroy. Persecution cannot annihilate a creed
which is firmly established, or maintain a creed which has been
thoroughly undermined, but there are intermediate stages in which its
influence on national beliefs has been enormously great. Even at the
Reformation, though more general causes were of capital importance,
political events had a very large part in defining the frontier line
between the rival creeds, and the divisions so created have for the
most part endured.

In secular politics numerous instances of the same kind will occur to
every thoughtful reader of history. If, as might easily have happened,
Hannibal after the battle of Cannae had taken and burned Rome, and
transferred the supremacy of the world to a maritime commercial State
upon the Mediterranean; if, instead of the Regency, Louis XV. and
Louis XVI., France had passed during the eighteenth century under
sovereigns of the stamp of the elder branch of the House of Orange or
of Henry IV., or of the Great Elector, or of Frederick the Great; if,
at the French Revolution, the supreme military genius had been
connected with the character of Washington rather than with the
character of Napoleon--who can doubt that the course of European
history would have been vastly changed? The causes that made
constitutional liberty succeed in England, while it failed in other
countries where its prospects seemed once at least as promising, are
many and complex; but no careful student of English history will doubt
the prominence among them of the accidental fact that James II., by
embracing Catholicism, had thrown the Church feeling at a very
critical moment into opposition to the monarchical feeling, and that
in the last days of Anne, when the question of the succession was
trembling most doubtfully in the balance, his son refused to conform
to the Anglican creed.

Laws are no doubt in a great degree inoperative when they do not
spring from and represent the opinion of the nation, but they have in
their turn a great power of consolidating, deepening, and directing
opinion. When some important progress has been attained, and with the
support of public opinion has been embodied in a law, that law will do
much to prevent the natural reflux of the wave. It becomes a kind of
moral landmark, a powerful educating influence, and by giving what had
been achieved the sanction of legality, it contributes largely to its
permanence. Roman law undoubtedly played a great part in European
history long after all the conditions in which it was first enacted
had passed away, and the legislator who can determine in any country
the system of national education, or the succession of property, will
do much to influence the opinions and social types of many succeeding

The point, however, on which I would here especially insist is that
there has scarcely been a great revolution in the world which might
not at some stage of its progress have been either averted, or
materially modified, or at least greatly postponed, by wise
statesmanship and timely compromise. Take, for example, the American
Revolution, which destroyed the political unity of the English race.
You will often hear this event treated as if it were simply due to the
wanton tyranny of an English Government, which desired to reduce its
colonies to servitude by taxing them without their consent. But if you
will look closely into the history of that time--and there is no
history which is more instructive--you will find that this is a gross
misrepresentation. What happened was essentially this. England, under
the guidance of the elder Pitt, had been waging a great and most
successful war, which left her with an enormously extended Empire, but
also with an addition of more than seventy millions to her National
Debt. That debt was now nearly one hundred and forty millions, and
England was reeling under the taxation it required. The war had been
waged largely in America, and its most brilliant result was the
conquest of Canada, by which the old American colonies had benefited
more than any other part of the Empire, for the expulsion of the
French from North America put an end to the one great danger which
hung over them. It was, however, extremely probable that if France
ever regained her strength, one of her first objects would be to
recover her dominion in America.

Under these circumstances the English Government concluded that it was
impossible that England alone, overburdened as she was by taxation,
could undertake the military defence of her greatly extended Empire.
Their object, therefore, was to create subsidiary armies for its
defence. Ireland already raised by the vote of the Irish Parliament,
and out of exclusively Irish resources, an army consisting of from
twelve to fifteen thousand men, most of whom were available for the
general purposes of the Empire. In India, under a despotic system, a
separate army was maintained for the protection of India. It was the
strong belief of the English Government that a third army should be
maintained in America for the defence of the American colonies and of
the neighbouring islands, and that it was just and reasonable that
America should bear some part of the expense of her own defence. She
was charged with no part of the interest of the National Debt; she
paid nothing towards the cost of the navy which protected her coast;
she was the most lightly taxed and the most prosperous portion of the
Empire; she was the part which had benefited most by the late war, and
she was the part which was most likely to be menaced if the war was
renewed. Under these circumstances Grenville determined that a small
army of ten thousand men should be kept in America, under the distinct
promise that it was never to serve beyond that country and the West
Indian Isles, and he asked America to contribute 100,000_l._ a year,
or about a third part of its expense.

But here the difficulty arose. The Irish army was maintained by the
vote of the Irish Parliament; but there was no single parliament
representing the American colonies, and it soon became evident that it
was impossible to induce thirteen State legislatures to agree upon any
scheme for supporting an army in America. Under these circumstances
Grenville in an ill-omened moment resolved to revive a dormant power
which existed in the Constitution, and levy this new war-tax by
Imperial taxation. He at the same time guaranteed the colonists that
the proceeds of this tax should be expended solely in America; he
intimated to them in the clearest way that if they would meet his
wishes by themselves providing the necessary sum, he would be
abundantly satisfied, and he delayed the enforcement of the measure
for a year in order to give them ample time for doing so.

Such and so small was the original cause of difference between England
and her colonies. Who can fail to see that it was a difference
abundantly susceptible of compromise, and that a wise and moderate
statesmanship might easily have averted the catastrophe? There are few
sadder and few more instructive pages in history than those which show
how mistake after mistake was committed, till the rift which was once
so small widened and deepened; till the two sections of the English
race were thrown into an irreconcilable antagonism, and the fair
vision of an United Empire in the East and in the West came for ever
to an end.

Or glance for a moment at the French Revolution. It is a favourite
task of historians to trace through the preceding generations the long
train of causes that made the transformation of French institutions
absolutely inevitable; but it is not so often remembered that when the
States-General met in 1789 by far the larger part of the benefits of
the Revolution could have been attained without difficulty, without
convulsion, and by general consent. The nobles and clergy had pledged
themselves to surrender their feudal privileges and their privileges
in taxation; a reforming king was on the throne, and a reforming
minister was at his side. If the spirit of moderation had then
prevailed, the inevitable transformation might probably have been made
without the effusion of a drop of blood. Jefferson was at this time
the Minister of the United States in Paris. As an old republican he
knew well the conditions of free governments, and among the
politicians of his own country he represented the democratic section.
I know few words in history more pathetic than those in which he
described the situation. 'I was much acquainted,' he writes, 'with the
leading patriots of the Assembly. Being from a country which had
successfully passed through a similar reformation, they were disposed
to my acquaintance, and had some confidence in me. I urged most
strenuously an immediate compromise to secure what the Government were
now ready to yield.... It was well understood that the King would
grant at this time (1) freedom of the person by Habeas Corpus; (2)
freedom of conscience; (3) freedom of the press; (4) trial by jury;
(5) a representative legislature; (6) annual meetings; (7) the
origination of laws; (8) the exclusive right of taxation and
appropriation; and (9) the responsibility of Ministers; and with the
exercise of these powers they could obtain in future whatever might be
further necessary to improve and preserve their constitution. They
thought otherwise,' continued Jefferson; 'and events have proved their
lamentable error; for after thirty years of war, foreign and domestic,
the loss of millions of lives, the prostration of private happiness,
and the foreign subjugation of their own country for a time, they have
obtained no more, nor even that securely.'[2]

Let me, in concluding these observations, sum up in a few words some
other advantages which you may derive from history. It is, I think,
one of the best schools for that kind of reasoning which is most
useful in practical life. It teaches men to weigh conflicting
probabilities, to estimate degrees of evidence, to form a sound
judgment of the value of authorities. Reasoning is taught by actual
practice much more than by any _a priori_ methods. Many good
judges--and I own I am inclined to agree with them--doubt much whether
a study of formal logic ever yet made a good reasoner. Mathematics are
no doubt invaluable in this respect, but they only deal with
demonstrations; and it has often been observed how many excellent
mathematicians are somewhat peculiarly destitute of the power of
measuring degrees of probability. But history is largely concerned
with the kind of probabilities on which the conduct of life mainly
depends. There is one hint about historical reasoning which I think
may not be unworthy of your notice. When studying some great
historical controversy, place yourselves by an effort of the
imagination alternately on each side of the battle; try to realise as
fully as you can the point of view of the best men on either side, and
then draw up upon paper the arguments of each in the strongest form
you can give them. You will find that few practices do more to
elucidate the past, or form a better mental discipline.

History, again, greatly expands our horizon and enlarges our
experience by bringing us in direct contact with men of many times and
countries. It gives young men something of the experience of old men,
and untravelled men something of the experience of travelled ones. A
great source of error in our judgment of men is that we do not make
sufficient allowance for the difference of types. The essentials of
right and wrong no doubt continue the same, but if you look carefully
into history you will find that the special stress which is attached
to particular virtues is constantly changing. Sometimes it is the
civic virtues, sometimes the religious virtues, sometimes the
industrial virtues, sometimes the love of truth, sometimes the more
amiable dispositions, that are most valued, and occupy the foremost
place in the moral type. The men of each age must be judged by the
ideal of their own age and country, and not by the ideal of ours. Men
look at life in very different aspects, and they differ greatly in
their ways of reasoning, in the qualities they admire, in the aims
which they chiefly prize. In few things do they differ more than in
their capacity for self-government; in the kinds of liberty they
especially value; in their love or dislike of government guidance or

The power of realising and understanding types of character very
different from our own is not, I think, an English quality, and a
great many of our mistakes in governing other nations come from this
deficiency. Some thirty or forty years ago especially it was the
custom of English statesmen to write and speak as if the salvation of
every nation depended mainly upon its adoption of a miniature copy of
the British Constitution. Now, if there is a lesson which history
teaches clearly, it is that the same institutions are not fitted for
all nations, and that what in one nation may prove perfectly
successful, will in another be supremely disastrous. The habits and
traditions of a nation; the peculiar bent of its character and
intellect; the degree in which self-control, respect for law, the
spirit of compromise, and disinterested public spirit are diffused
through the people; the relations of classes, and the divisions of
property, are all considerations of capital importance. It is a great
error, both in history and in practical politics, to attach too much
value to a political machine. The essential consideration is by what
men and in what spirit that machine is likely to be worked. Few
Constitutions contain more theoretical anomalies, and even
absurdities, than that under which England has attained to such an
unexampled height of political prosperity; while a servile imitation
of some of the most skilfully-devised Constitutions in Europe has not
saved some of the South American States from long courses of anarchy,
bankruptcy, and revolution.

These are some of the political lessons that may be drawn from
history. Permit me, in conclusion, to say that its most precious
lessons are moral ones. It expands the range of our vision, and
teaches us in judging the true interests of nations to look beyond the
immediate future. Few good judges will deny that this habit is now
much wanted. The immensely increased prominence in political life of
ephemeral influences, and especially of the influence of a daily
press; the immense multiplication of elections, which intensifies
party conflicts, all tend to concentrate our thoughts more and more
upon an immediate issue. They narrow the range of our vision, and make
us somewhat insensible to distant consequences and remote
contingencies. It is not easy, in the heat and passion of modern
political life, to look beyond a parliament or an election, beyond the
interest of a party or the triumph of an hour. Yet nothing is more
certain than that the ultimate, distant, and perhaps indirect
consequences of political measures are often far more important than
their immediate fruits, and that in the prosperity of nations a large
amount of continuity in politics and the gradual formation of
political habits are of transcendent importance. History is never more
valuable than when it enables us, standing as on a height, to look
beyond the smoke and turmoil of our petty quarrels, and to detect in
the slow developments of the past the great permanent forces that are
steadily bearing nations onwards to improvement or decay.

The strongest of these forces are the moral ones. Mistakes in
statesmanship, military triumphs or disasters, no doubt affect
materially the prosperity of nations, but their permanent political
well-being is essentially the outcome of their moral state. Its
foundation is laid in pure domestic life, in commercial integrity, in
a high standard of moral worth and of public spirit; in simple habits,
in courage, uprightness, and self-sacrifice, in a certain soundness
and moderation of judgment, which springs quite as much from character
as from intellect. If you would form a wise judgment of the future of
a nation, observe carefully whether these qualities are increasing or
decaying. Observe especially what qualities count for most in public
life. Is character becoming of greater or less importance? Are the men
who obtain the highest posts in the nation men of whom in private life
and irrespective of party competent judges speak with genuine respect?
Are they men of sincere convictions, sound judgment, consistent lives,
indisputable integrity, or are they men who have won their positions
by the arts of a demagogue or an intriguer; men of nimble tongues and
not earnest beliefs--skilful, above all things, in spreading their
sails to each passing breeze of popularity? Such considerations as
these are apt to be forgotten in the fierce excitement of a party
contest; but if history has any meaning, it is such considerations
that affect most vitally the permanent well-being of communities, and
it is by observing this moral current that you can best cast the
horoscope of a nation.


[1] _Pericles and Aspasia._

[2] Jefferson's _Memoirs_, i. 80.


I have been asked on the present occasion to deliver a short address
which might serve as an introduction to the course of lectures and
conferences on the history and resources of the different portions of
the Empire which are to take place in the Imperial Institute. In
attempting to discharge this task my first reflection is one which the
very existence of the Institute can hardly fail to suggest to anyone
with any knowledge of recent history. It is the great revolution of
opinion which has taken place in England within the last few years
about the real value to her both of her colonies and of her Indian
Empire. Not many years ago it was a popular doctrine among a large and
important class of politicians that these vast dominions were not
merely useless but detrimental to the mother-country, and that it
should be the end of a wise policy to prepare and facilitate their
disruption. Bentham, in a pamphlet called 'Emancipate your Colonies,'
advocated a speedy and complete separation. James Mill, who held a
high place among these politicians, wrote an article on Colonies for
the 'Encyclopædia Britannica' which clearly expresses their view.
Colonies, he contended, are very little calculated to yield any
advantage whatever to the countries that hold them, and their chief
influence is to produce and prolong bad government. Why, then, he
asks, do European nations maintain them? The answer is very
characteristic, both of the man and of his school. Something, he
charitably admits, is due to mere ignorance, to mistaken views of
utility; but the main cause is of another kind. He quotes the saying
of Sancho Panza, who desired to possess an island in order that he
might sell its inhabitants as slaves, and put the money in his pocket;
and he maintains that the chief cause of our Colonial Empire is the
selfish interest of the governing few who valued colonies because they
gave them places and enabled them to multiply wars. In more moderate
and decorous language, Goldwin Smith wrote a book, the object of which
was to show how desirable it was that this Empire should be gradually
but steadily reduced to the sweet simplicity of two islands. Similar
views prevailed very generally in the Manchester school. Cobden
frequently expressed them. The question of the colonies, he
maintained, was mainly a question of pounds, shillings, and pence; he
proved, as he imagined, by many figures that they were a very bad
bargain; and he expressed his confident hope that one of the results
of free trade would be 'gradually and imperceptibly to loosen the
bands which unite our colonies to us.' About our Indian Empire he
entertained much stronger opinions. He described it as a calamity and
a curse to the people of England. He looked on it, in his own words,
'with an eye of despair,' and declared that it was destroying and
demoralising the national character. It was the belief of his school
of politicians that all the nations of the world would speedily follow
the example of England and adopt a policy of perfect free trade; that
when all men were able to sell their industries with equal facility in
all countries, it would become a matter of little consequence to them
under what flag they lived, and that this complete commercial
assimilation would soon be followed by a general movement for
disarming, which would put an end to all fear of future war.

Many politicians who certainly cannot be classified with the
Manchester school held views tending in some degree in the same
direction. Even Sir Cornewall Lewis in his treatise on the 'Government
of Dependencies,' which was published in 1841, summed up the
advantages and disadvantages of a great empire in a manner that gives
the impression that in his own judgment the disadvantages on the whole
predominated. In the Autobiography of that great writer and excellent
public servant Sir Henry Taylor, who for many years exercised much
influence in the Colonial Office, we have a curious picture of the
opinions which were held on this subject about thirty years ago, both
by Sir Henry Taylor himself and by Sir Frederick Rogers, who was at
this time permanent Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies. They
both agreed that all our North American colonies were a kind of
_damnosa hereditas_, and that it was in a high degree desirable that
they should be amicably separated from Great Britain. Sir Henry Taylor
wrote his views on the subject with great frankness to the Duke of
Newcastle, who was then Secretary of State. 'When your Grace and the
Prince of Wales,' he said, 'were employing yourselves so successfully
in conciliating the colonists, I thought that you were drawing closer
ties which might better be slackened, if there were any chance of
their slipping away altogether. I think that a policy which has regard
to a not very far off future should prepare facilities and
propensities for separation.... In my estimation the worst consequence
of the late dispute with the United States has been that of involving
this country and its North American provinces in closer relations and
a common cause.'[3] 'I have always believed,' wrote Sir Frederick
Rogers in 1885--'and the belief has so confirmed and consolidated
itself, that I can hardly realise the possibility of anyone seriously
thinking the contrary--that the destiny of our colonies is
independence; and that in this point of view the function of the
Colonial Office is to secure that our connection while it lasts shall
be as profitable to both parties, and our separation when it comes as
amicable as possible.'

I do not believe that opinions of this kind, though they were held by
a large and powerful section of English politicians, ever penetrated
very deeply into the English nation. One of the causes of Mr. Cobden's
'despair' was his conviction that the English people would never be
persuaded to surrender India except at the close of a disastrous and
exhausting war, and in his day the policy of national surrender was
certainly not that of the statesmen who led either party in
Parliament. No one would attribute it to Mr. Disraeli, in whose long
political life the note of Imperialism was perhaps that which sounded
with the clearest ring, and it was quite as repugnant to Lord
Palmerston and Lord John Russell. In an admirable speech which was
delivered in the beginning of 1850, Lord John Russell disclaimed all
sympathy with it, and I can well remember the indignation with which
in his latter days he was accustomed to speak of the views on the
subject which were then frequently expressed. 'When I was young,' he
once said to me, 'it was thought the mark of a wise statesman that he
had turned a small kingdom into a great empire. In my old age it
appears to be thought the object of a statesman to turn a great
empire into a small kingdom.'

I do not think that anyone who has watched the current of English
opinion will doubt that the views of the Manchester school on this
subject have within the last few years steadily lost ground, and that
a far warmer and, in my opinion, nobler and more healthy feeling
towards India and the colonies has grown up. The change may be
attributed to many causes. In the first place, what Carlyle called
'The Calico Millennium' has not arrived. The nations have not adopted
free trade, but nearly all of them, including unfortunately many of
our own colonies, have raised tariff walls against our trade. The
Reign of Peace has not come. National antipathies and jealousies play
about as great a part in human affairs as they ever did, and there are
certainly not less than three and a half millions, there are probably
nearly four millions, of men under arms in what are called the peace
establishments of Europe. It is beginning to be clearly seen that,
with our vast, redundant, ever-growing population, with our enormous
manufactures, and our utterly insufficient supply of home-grown food,
it is a matter of life and death to the nation, and especially to its
working classes, that there should be secure and extending fields open
to our goods, and in the present condition of the world we must mainly
look for these fields within our own Empire. The gigantic dimensions
that Indian trade has assumed within the last few years, and the
extraordinary commercial development of some other parts of our
Empire, have pointed the moral, and it has been made still more
apparent by the eagerness with which other Powers, and especially
Germany, have flung themselves into the path of colonisation. In an
age, too, when all the paths of professional and industrial life in
our country are crowded to excess, the competitive system has combined
with our new acquisitions of territory to throw open noble fields of
employment, enterprise and ambition to poor and struggling talent, and
India is proving a school of inestimable value for maintaining some of
the best and most masculine qualities of our race. It is the great
seed-plot of our military strength; and the problems of Indian
administration are peculiarly fitted to form men of a kind that is
much needed among us--men of strong purpose and firm will, and high
ruling and organising powers, men accustomed to deal with facts rather
than with words, and to estimate measures by their intrinsic value,
and not merely by their party advantages, men skilful in judging human
character under its many types and aspects and disguises.

If again we turn to our great self-governing colonies, we have learnt
to feel how valuable it is, in an age in which international
jealousies are so rife, that there should be vast and rapidly growing
portions of the globe that are not only at peace with us, but at one
with us; how unspeakably important it is to the future of the world
that the English race, through the ages that are to come, should cling
as closely as possible together. As a distinguished statesman who
lately represented the United States in England[4] has admirably said,
'If it is not always true that trade follows flag, it is at least true
that "heart follows flag,"' and the feeling that our fellow-subjects
in distant parts of the Empire bear to us is very different from the
feeling even of the most friendly foreign nation. Our great colonies
have readily undertaken the responsibility of providing for their own
defence by land, and even in some degree by sea. If the protection of
their coasts in time of war might become a great strain upon our navy,
this disadvantage is largely balanced by the importance of distant
maritime possessions to every nation that desires to maintain an
efficient fleet; by the immense advantage to a great commercial Power
of secure harbours and coaling stations scattered over the world. It
is not difficult to conceive circumstances in which the destruction of
some of our main industries, occurring, perhaps, in the midst of a
great war, might make it utterly impossible for our present population
to live upon British soil, and when the possession of vast territories
under the British flag, and in the hands of the British race, might
become a matter of transcendent importance. Think for a moment of the
colossal, and indeed appalling, proportions which our great towns are
assuming! Think of all the vice and ignorance and disease, of all the
sordid abject misery, of all the lawless passions that are festering
within them! And then consider how precarious are many of the
conditions of our industrial prosperity, how grave and how numerous
are the dangers that threaten it both from within and from without.
Who can reflect seriously on these things without feeling that the day
may come--perhaps at no distant date--when the question of emigration
may overshadow all others? To many of us, indeed, it seems one of the
greatest errors of modern English statesmanship that when the great
exodus from Ireland took place after the famine, Government took no
step to aid it, or to direct it to quarters where it would have been
of real benefit to the Empire. Many good judges think that the
advantages of such interference in allaying bitter feelings,
softening a disastrous crisis, and permanently strengthening the
Empire, might have been well purchased even if they cost as much as
England has sometimes lost by one comparatively insignificant war or
by one disastrous strike. In dealing with this question of emigration
in the future, colonial assistance may be of supreme importance. And
those who have understood the significance of that memorable incident
in our recent history--the despatch of Australian troops to fight our
battles in the Soudan--may perceive that there is at least a
possibility of a still closer and more beneficent union between
England and her colonies--a union that would vastly increase the
strength of both, and by doing so become a great guarantee of peace in
the world.

It would be a calumny to suppose that the change of feeling I have
described was solely due to a calculation of interests. Patriotism
cannot be reduced to a mere question of money, and a nation which has
grown tired of the responsibilities of empire, and careless of the
acquisitions of its past and of its greatness in the future, would
indeed have entered into a period of inevitable decadence. Happily we
have not yet come to this. I believe the overwhelming majority of the
people of these islands are convinced that an England reduced to the
limits which the Manchester school would assign to it would be an
England shorn of the chief elements of its dignity in the world, and
that no greater disgrace could befall them than to have sacrificed
through indifference, or negligence, or faint-heartedness, an Empire
which has been built up by so much genius and so much heroism in the
past. Railways and telegraphs and newspapers have brought us into
closer touch with our distant possessions, have enabled us to realise
more vividly both their character and their greatness, and have thus
extended the horizon of our sympathies and interests. The figures of
illustrious colonial statesmen are becoming familiar to us. Men formed
in Indian and colonial spheres are becoming more numerous and
prominent in our own public life. The presence in England of a High
Commissioner from Canada, and of Agents-General from our other
colonies, constitutes a real though informal colonial representation,
and on more than one recent occasion our foreign policy has been
swayed by colonial pressure. These young democracies, with their vast
undeveloped resources, their unwearied energies, their great social
and industrial problems, are beginning to loom largely in the
imaginations of Europe. They feel, we believe, a just pride in being
members of a great and ancient Empire, and heirs to the glories of its
past. We, in our turn, feel a no less just pride in our union with
those coming nations which are still lit with the hues of sunrise and
rich in the promise of the future.

It has been suggested to me that I should on the present occasion say
something about the methods by which this great Empire was built up,
but it is obvious that in a short address like the present it is only
possible to touch on so large a subject in the most cursory manner.
Much is due to our insular position and our command of the sea, which
gave Englishmen, in the competition of nations, a peculiar power both
of conquering and holding distant dependencies. Being precluded,
perhaps quite as much by their position as by their desire, from
throwing themselves, like most continental nations, into a long course
of European aggression, they have largely employed their redundant
energies in exploring, conquering, civilising, and governing distant
and half-savage lands. They have found, like all other nations, that
an Empire planted amid the shifting sands of half-civilised and
anarchical races is compelled for its own security, and as a mere
matter of police, to extend its borders. The chapter of
accidents--which has played a larger part in most human affairs than
many very philosophical enquirers are inclined to admit--has counted
for something. But, in addition to these things, there are certain
general characteristics of English policy which have contributed very
largely to the success of the Empire.

It has been the habit of most nations to regulate colonial governments
in all their details according to the best metropolitan ideas, and to
surround them with a network of restrictions. England has in general
pursued a different course. Partly on system, but partly also, I
think, from neglect, she has always allowed an unusual latitude to
local knowledge and to local wishes. She has endeavoured to secure,
wherever her power extends, life and property, and contract and
personal freedom, and, in these latter days, religious liberty; but
for the rest she has meddled very little; she has allowed her
settlements to develop much as they please, and has given, in practice
if not in theory, the fullest powers to her governors. It is
astonishing, in the history of the British Empire, how large a part of
its greatness is due to the independent action of individual
adventurers, or groups of emigrants, or commercial companies, almost
wholly unassisted and uncontrolled by the Government at home. An
Empire formed by such methods is not likely to exhibit much symmetry
and unity of plan, but it is certain to be pervaded in an unusual
degree, in all its parts, by a spirit of enterprise and self-reliance;
it will probably be peculiarly fertile in men not only of energy but
of resource, capable of dealing with strange conditions and
unforeseen exigencies. England in the past periods of her history has,
on the whole, been singularly successful in adapting her different
administrations to widely different national circumstances and
characters, and governments of the most various types have arisen
under her rule. Nothing in the history of the world is more wonderful
than that under the flag of these two little islands there should have
grown up the greatest and most beneficent despotism in the world,
comprising nearly two hundred and thirty millions of inhabitants under
direct British rule, and more than fifty millions under British
protectorates; while at the same time British colonies and settlements
that are scattered throughout the globe number not less than fifty-six
distinct subordinate governments.

This system would have been less successful if it had not been for two
important facts. The original stuff of which our Colonial Empire was
formed was singularly good. Some of the most important of our colonies
were founded in the days of religious war, and the early settlers
consisted largely of religious refugees--a class who are usually
superior to the average of men in intellectual and industrial
qualities, and are nearly always greatly superior to them in strength
of conviction, and in those high moral qualities which play so great a
part in the well-being of nations. Besides this, in those distant
days, the difficulties of emigration were so great that they were
rarely voluntarily encountered except by men of much more than average
courage, enterprise and resource. These early adventurers were
certainly often of no saintly type, but they were largely endowed with
the robuster qualities that are most needed for grappling with new
circumstances and carving out the empires of the future.

The second fact is the high standard of patriotism and honour which we
may, I think, truly say has nearly always prevailed among English
public servants. It is not an easy thing to secure honest and faithful
administration in remote countries, far from the supervision and
practical control of the central government. I think we may boast with
truth that England has attained this end, not indeed perfectly, but at
least to a greater degree than most other nations. The history of
Indian and colonial governors has never been written as a whole, but
it is well worthy of study. In the appointment of these men party has
always counted for something, and family has counted for something;
but they have never been the only considerations, and, on the whole, I
believe it will be found, if we consider the three elements of
character, capacity and experience, that our Indian and colonial
governors represent a higher level of ruling qualities than has been
attained by any line of hereditary sovereigns, or by any line of
elected presidents. In the period of the foundation of our Indian
Empire much was done that was violent and rapacious, but the best
modern research seems to show that the picture which a few years ago
was generally accepted had been greatly overcharged. The history of
Warren Hastings and his companions has been recently studied with
great knowledge and ability, and with the result that the more serious
opinions on the subject have been considerably modified. Much
exaggeration undoubtedly grew up in the last century, partly through
ignorance of Oriental affairs, and partly also through the eloquence
of Burke. There is no figure in English political history for which I
at least entertain a greater reverence than Edmund Burke. I believe
him to have been a man of transparent honesty, as well as of
transcendent genius; but his politics were too apt to be steeped in
passion, and he was often carried away by the irresistible force of
his own imagination and feelings. Misrepresentations were greatly
consolidated by the Indian History of James Mill, which was for a long
time the main, and indeed almost the only, source from which
Englishmen obtained their knowledge of Indian history. It was written,
as might be expected, with the strongest bias of hostility to the
English in India, yet I suspect that many superficial readers imagined
that a history which was so unquestionably dull must be at least
impartial and philosophical. Unfortunately, Macaulay relied greatly on
it, and, without having made any serious independent studies on the
subject, he invested some of its misrepresentations with all the
splendour of his eloquence. I believe all competent authorities are
now agreed that his essay on Warren Hastings, though it is one of the
most brilliant of his writings, is also one of the most seriously

I am not prepared to say that the reaction of opinion produced by the
new school of Indian historians has not been sometimes carried too
far, but these writers have certainly dispelled much exaggeration and
some positive falsehood. They have shown that, although under
circumstances of extreme difficulty and extraordinary temptation, some
very bad things were done by Englishmen in India, these things were
neither as numerous nor as grave as has been alleged.

On the whole, too, it may be truly said that English colonial policy
in its broad lines has to a remarkable degree avoided grave errors.
The chief exception is to be found in the series of mistakes which
produced the American Revolution, and ended in the loss of our chief
American colonies. Yet even in this instance it is, I believe, coming
to be perceived that there is much more to be said for the English
case than the historians of the last generation were apt to imagine.
In imposing commercial restrictions on the colonies and endeavouring
to secure for the mother-country the monopoly of their trade, we
merely acted upon ideas that were then almost universally received,
and our commercial code was on the whole less illiberal than that of
other nations. Both Spain and France imposed restrictions on their
colonies which were far more severe, and the English restrictions were
at least mitigated by frequent partial relaxations and exceptions, by
some important monopolies granted in favour of the colonies in the
English market and by bounties encouraging several branches of
colonial produce. It is at least certain that under the large measure
of political liberty granted by the English Government to the English
colonies their material prosperity, even in the worst period of
commercial restriction, steadily and rapidly advanced. This has been
clearly shown by more than one writer on our side of the Atlantic, but
the subject has never been treated with more exhaustive knowledge and
more perfect impartiality than by an American writer--Mr. George
Beer--whose work on the Commercial Policy of England has recently been
published by Columbia College, in New York. No one will now altogether
defend Grenville's policy of taxing America by the Imperial
Parliament, but it ought not to be forgotten that it was expressly
provided that every farthing of this taxation was to be expended in
America, and devoted to colonial defence. England had just terminated
a great war, which, by expelling the French from Canada, had been of
inestimable advantage to her colonies, but which had left the
mother-country almost crushed by debt. All that Grenville desired was,
that the American colonies should provide a portion of the cost of
their own defence, as our great colonies are doing at the present
time, and he only resorted to Imperial taxation because he despaired
of achieving this end by any other means. The step which he took was
no doubt a false one. As is so often the case in England, it was made
worse by party changes and by party recriminations, and many later
mistakes aggravated and embittered the original dispute; but I think
an impartial reader of this melancholy chapter of English history will
come to the conclusion that these mistakes were by no means all on one

It is a story which is certainly not without its lesson to our own
time. It is very improbable that any future statesman will follow the
example of George Grenville, and endeavour by Act of Parliament to
impose taxation on a self-governing colony; but it would be a grave
error to suppose that the danger of unwise parliamentary interference
in Indian and colonial affairs has diminished. Great as are the
advantages of telegraphs and newspapers in the government of the
Empire, they are not without their drawbacks. Government by telegraph
is a very dangerous thing, and there is, I fear, an increasing
tendency to override local knowledge, and to apply English standards
and methods of government to wholly un-English conditions.
Ill-considered resolutions of the House of Commons, often passed in
obedience to some popular fad, and without any real intention of
carrying them into effect; language used in Parliament which is often
due to no deeper motive than a desire to win the favour of some class
of voters in an English constituency, may do as much as serious
misgovernment to alienate great masses of British subjects beyond the
sea. All really competent judges are agreed that one of the first
conditions of successful government in India has been that Indian
questions have for the most part been kept out of the range of English
party politics, and that Indian government has been conducted on
principles essentially different from democratic government at home.

On the whole, however, it is impossible to review the colonial history
of England without being struck with the many serious dangers that
might easily have shattered the Empire, which were averted by wise
statesmanship and timely--or at least not fatally tardy--concession.
There was the question of the criminal population which we once
transported to Australia. In the early stage of the colony, when the
population was very sparse and the need for labour very imperative,
this was not regarded as in any degree a grievance; but the time came
when it became a grievance of the gravest kind, and the Imperial power
had at length the wisdom to abandon it. There was the question of the
different and hostile religious bodies existing in different portions
of the Empire, at a time when the monopoly of political power by the
members of a single Established Church, the exclusive endowment of its
clergy, and the maintenance of the purely Protestant character of the
English Government were cherished as religious duties by politicians
at home. Yet at this very time an established and endowed Roman
Catholic Church was flourishing in Canada, and there were numerous
examples throughout the British dominions of the concurrent endowment
of different forms of religious belief by the State,[5] while in India
it abstained, with an extreme, and sometimes even an exaggerated,
scrupulousness, from all measures that could by any possibility offend
the native religious prejudices. There was the question of
Slavery--though we were freed from the most difficult part of this
problem by the secession of America. In addition, however, to its
moral aspects, it affected most vitally the material prosperity of
some of our richest colonies; it raised the very dangerous
constitutional question of the right of the Imperial Parliament to
interfere with the internal affairs of a self-governing colony, and it
brought the Home Government into more serious collision with the local
Governments than any question since the American Revolution. Whatever
may be thought of the wisdom of the measures by which we abolished
slavery in our West Indian colonies, no one at least can deny the
liberality of a Parliament which voted from Imperial resources twenty
millions for the accomplishment of the work. There was the conflict of
race and creed which between 1830 and 1840 had brought Canada to
absolute rebellion, and threatened a complete alienation of Canadian
feeling from the mother-country. This discontent was effectually
allayed and dispelled by the union of Upper and Lower Canada under a
system of constitutional government of the most liberal character,
which gave the colonists on all subjects of internal legislation a
legislative independence that was in practice almost complete.
Considered as a measure of conciliation this has proved one of the
most successful of the nineteenth century, and in spite of a few
discordant notes it may be truly said that there are few greater
contrasts in the present reign than are presented between Canadian
feeling towards the mother-country when Queen Victoria ascended the
throne and Canadian feeling at the present hour. There was also the
great and dangerous task to be accomplished of adapting the system of
colonial government to the different stages of colonial development.
There was a time when the colonies were so weak that they depended
mainly on England for their protection; but, unlike some of the great
colonising Powers of ancient and modern times, England never drew a
direct tribute from her colonies, and, in spite of much unwise and
some unjust legislation, I believe there was never a time when they
were not on the whole benefited by the connection. Soon, however, the
colonies grew to the strength and maturity of nationhood, and the
mother-country speedily recognised the fact, and allowed no unworthy
or ungenerous fears to restrain her from granting them the fullest
powers, both of self-government and of federation. It is true that she
still sends out a governor--usually drawn from the ranks of
experienced and considerable English public men--to preside over
colonial affairs. It is true that she retains a right of veto which is
scarcely ever exercised except to prevent some intercolonial or
international dispute, some act of violence, or some grave anomaly in
the legislation of the Empire. It is true that colonial cases may be
carried, on appeal, to an English tribunal, representing the very
highest judicial capacity of the mother-country, and free from all
possibility and suspicion of partiality; but I do not believe that any
of these light ties are unpopular with any considerable section of the
colonists. On the other hand, though it would be idle to suppose that
our great colonies depend largely upon the mother-country, I believe
that most colonists recognise that there is something in the weight
and dignity attaching to fellow-membership and fellow-citizenship in
a great Empire--something in the protection of the greatest navy in
the world--something in the improved credit which connection with a
very rich centre undoubtedly gives to colonial finance.

It is the custom of our friends and neighbours on the Continent to
bestow much scornful remark on the egotism of English policy, which
attends mainly to the interests of the British Empire, and is not
ready to make war for an idea and in support of the interests of
others. I think, if it were necessary, we might fairly defend
ourselves by showing that in the past we have meddled with the affairs
of other nations quite as much as is reasonable. For my own part, I
confess that I distrust greatly these explosions of military
benevolence. They always begin by killing a great many men. They
usually end in ways that are not those of a disinterested
philanthropy. After all, an egotism that mainly confines itself to the
well-being of about a fifth part of the globe cannot be said to be of
a very narrow type, and it is essentially by her conduct to her own
Empire that the part of England in promoting the happiness of mankind
must be ultimately judged. It is indeed but too true that many of the
political causes which have played a great part on platforms, in
parties, and in Parliaments are of such a nature that their full
attainment would not bring relief to one suffering human heart, or
staunch one tear of pain, or add in any appreciable degree to the real
happiness of a single home. But most assuredly Imperial questions are
not of this order. Remember what India had been for countless ages
before the establishment of British rule. Think of its endless wars of
race and creed, its savage oppressions, its fierce anarchies, its
barbarous customs; and then consider what it is to have established
for so many years over the vast space from the Himalayas to Cape
Comorin a reign of perfect peace; to have conferred upon more than two
hundred and fifty millions of the human race perfect religious
freedom, perfect security of life, liberty, and property; to have
planted in the midst of these teeming multitudes a strong central
government, enlightened by the best knowledge of Western Europe, and
steadily occupied in preventing famine, alleviating disease,
extirpating savage customs, multiplying the agencies of civilisation
and progress. This is the true meaning of that system of government on
which Mr. Cobden looked with 'an eye of despair.' What work of human
policy--I would even say what form of human philanthropy--has ever
contributed more largely to reduce the great sum of human misery and
to add to the possibilities of human happiness?

And if we turn to the other side of our Empire, although it is quite
true that our great free colonies are fully capable of shaping their
destinies for themselves, may we not truly say that these noble
flowers have sprung from British and from Irish seeds? May we not say
that the laws, the Constitutions, the habits of thought and character
that have so largely made them what they are, are mainly of English
origin? May we not even add that it is in no small part due to their
place in the British Empire that these vast sections of the globe,
with their diverse and sometimes jarring interests, have remained at
perfect peace with us and with each other, and have escaped the curse
of an exaggerated militarism, which is fast eating like a canker into
the prosperity of the great nations of Europe?

When responsible government was conceded by the British Government to
her more important colonies, it was done in the fullest and largest
measure. Although the mother-country remained burdened with the task
of defending them she made no reservation securing for herself free
trade with her colonies or even preferential treatment, and she
surrendered unconditionally to the local legislatures the waste and
unoccupied lands which had long been regarded in England as held in
trust for the benefit of the Empire as a whole. The growing belief
that the connection with the colonies was likely to be a very
transitory one, and also the belief that free-trade doctrines were
likely speedily to prevail, no doubt influenced English statesmen, and
it is not probable that any of them foresaw that both Canada and
Australia would speedily make use of their newly acquired power to
impose heavy duties on English goods. The strongly protectionist
character which the English colonies assumed at a time when England
had committed herself to the most extreme free-trade policy tended no
doubt to separation, and when the English Government adopted the
policy of withdrawing its garrisons from the colonies, when the North
American colonies, with the full assent of the mother-country, formed
themselves into a great federation, and when a movement in the same
direction sprang up in Australia, it was the opinion of some of the
most sagacious statesmen and thinkers in England that the time of
separation was very near.[6]

On the whole, however, these predictions have hitherto been falsified.
The federation of North America and, at a later period, the federation
of Australia have been followed by an increased and not a diminished
disposition on the side of the colonists to draw closer the ties with
the mother-country, while in England the popular imagination has been
more and more impressed with the growing magnitude and importance of
her colonial dominions. The tendency towards great political
agglomerations based upon an affinity of race, language and creed,
which has produced the Pan-Slavonic movement and the Pan-Germanic
movement, and which chiefly made the unity of Italy, has not been
without its influence in the English-speaking world, and it is felt
that a close union between its several parts is essential if it is
fully to maintain its relative position under the new conditions of
the world. The English-speaking nations comprise the most rapidly
increasing, the most progressive, the most happily situated nations of
the earth, and if their power and influence are not wasted by internal
quarrels their type of civilisation must one day become dominant in
the world.

Whether their harmony and unity are likely to be attained is one of
the great problems of the future, but the ideal is one which every
patriotic Englishman should at least set before him. It is not one
which can be called an assured destiny, and to many the chances seem
on the whole against it. Unexpected collisions of interest or passion
or ambition may at any time mar the prospects, and in great
democracies largely influenced by demagogues and by an irresponsible
and anonymous Press there are always powerful agencies that do not
make for peace. Immediate party interests both at home and in the
colonies too frequently blind men to distant and ulterior
consequences, and the many ill-wishers to the British Empire are sure
to direct their policy largely to its disruption. The natural bond of
union of a great Empire is economical unity, binding its several parts
together by a common system of free trade and by a common commercial
policy towards other Powers. Unfortunately the profoundly different
policy adopted on these matters in England and her colonies has made
such a Union almost impracticable, and it is quite possible for the
English colonies to be united by closer commercial ties with foreign
countries than with the mother-country. The question of the common
defence of the Empire and the question of the representation of the
colonies in Imperial politics are also questions of great difficulty
and of pressing importance.

Something has been done showing at least a disposition to meet them.
The concession of preferential duties in favour of England by some of
our most important colonies, the small subsidies made to the
maintenance of the British navy, and the far more important military
assistance given by the colonies to the mother-country in the Egyptian
and the South African wars are indicative of the feeling of closer
unity which has grown up between England and her colonies, and in
addition to the appointment of Agents-General, the introduction of a
few eminent colonial judges into the Judicial Committee of the Privy
Council, which is the Supreme Court of Appeal of the Empire, has given
the colonies some real representation in Imperial affairs. Much more,
however, in this direction may be done. There have been several
instances of eminent colonials obtaining seats in the English House of
Commons to the great advantage of the Empire, but a regular
representation of the colonies in this assembly may, I think, be
dismissed as altogether impracticable. The mere distance is a
sufficient objection, and at least nine-tenths of the business of the
House of Commons deals with purely English questions depending for
their wise solution on inherited English habits and on compromises
with existing institutions, and a large proportion of them are
problems which have been already dealt with in the colonies on other
grounds and without any of the complexities of an old country. What
reason could there be for calling in the colonists to adjudicate,
perhaps even to turn the balance, on questions relating to English
education, English licensing laws, English taxation, English
dispositions of property? The difficulty of distinguishing between
Imperial and local questions would be insuperable. The division of the
House into two categories of members with distinct spheres of voting
power would prove unworkable, and the colonial representatives would
during most of their time in Parliament have nothing to do. An
increase in the number of peers drawn from the colonies would be less
impracticable, but there would be much that is invidious in the
choice; much danger that the colonial peers living in England would
get out of touch with the colonies and become an object of envy and
jealousy; and English lawyers do not think that a large infusion of
colonial law peers would raise the competence of the Supreme Judicial
Tribunal of the Empire, which represents at present the highest legal
talent and attainments in England and deals mainly with English legal
questions. A Consultative Council, however, consisting of the
Agents-General and perhaps reinforced by additional colonial
representatives and dealing exclusively with Imperial questions, does
not seem wholly impracticable, and many competent judges believe that
a supreme legal tribunal for dealing with inter-colonial and
international conflicts might be constructed which would be both more
efficient and more representative than any that now exists.

It is probable, however, that the true tie that must unite the
different portions of the Empire must be mainly a moral one. In the
conditions of modern life no power is likely to maintain long a vast,
scattered, heterogeneous Empire if the central governing power within
it has declined; if through want of efficiency, or moral energy, or
moral purity, it ceases to win the respect of its several parts. It is
no less true that the cohesion can only be permanently maintained by
the wide diffusion of a larger and Imperial patriotism, pervading the
whole like a vital principle; binding men by the ties of pride and of
affection to the great Empire to which they belong, and subordinating
to its maintenance local and party and class interests. If this spirit
dies out, the movement of disintegration is sure to begin. No
political machinery, no utilitarian calculation, will in the long run
be powerful enough to arrest it.

What may be the future place of these islands in the government of the
world no human being can foretell. Nations, as history but too plainly
shows, have their periods of decay as well as their periods of growth.
The balance of power in the world is constantly shifting. Maxims and
influences very different from those which made England what she is
are in the ascendant, and the clouds upon the horizon are neither few
nor slight. But, whatever fate may be in store for these islands, and
for the political unity we so justly prize, we may at least
confidently predict that no revolution in human affairs can now
destroy the future ascendancy of the English language and of the
Imperial race. Whatever misfortunes, whatever humiliations the future
may reserve to us, they cannot deprive England of the glory of having
created this mighty Empire.

    Not Heaven itself upon the Past has power.
    But what has been, has been--and we have had our hour.


[3] _Autobiography_, ii. pp. 234, 235.

[4] Mr. Bayard.

[5] See the enumeration of these endowments in Gladstone's _State and
Church_, Ch. IX.

[6] See Cairnes' _Political Essays_, 49-50, 56.


The kind of interest which belongs to Irish history is curiously
different from that which attaches to the history of England and to
that of most of the great nations of the Continent. In very few
histories do we find so little national unity or continuous progress,
or such long spaces which are almost wholly occupied by perplexed,
petty internal broils, often stained by atrocious crimes, but turning
on no large issue and leading to no clear or stable results. Except
during the great missionary period of the sixth and seventh centuries,
and during a brief portion of the eighteenth century, we have little
of the interest that arises from dramatic situations or shining
characters, and in few countries has the highest intellect been, on
the whole, so slightly connected with the administration of affairs.
To a philosophical student of politics, however, Irish history
possesses an interest of the highest order. It is an invaluable study
of morbid anatomy. In very few histories can we trace so clearly the
effects of political and social circumstances in forming national
character; the calamity of missed opportunities and of fluctuating and
procrastinating policy; the folly of attempting to govern by the same
methods and institutions nations that are wholly different in their
characters and their civilisation.

The idea which still floats vaguely in many minds that Ireland, before
the arrival of the Normans, was a single and independent nation, is
wholly false. Ireland was not a nation, but a collection of separate
tribes and kingdoms, engaged in almost constant warfare. In this
respect, however, she resembled many countries which have since
attained the most perfect unity, and there can be little doubt that,
if her development had been impeded by no extraneous influences,
Ireland would have followed the same path as England or France. Much
stress has been justly laid on the disorganising influence of a long
succession of Danish invasions, though it must be remembered that
Ireland owes to the Danes the foundation of some of her most important
cities. Roman conquest, which introduced into most of Europe
invaluable elements of order, organisation, and respect for law, never
extended to Ireland. The Anglo-Norman invasion and conquest produced
consequences which were almost wholly evil. If the invaders had been
driven from the Irish shore, the natural course of development would,
no doubt, have been in time continued. If the invaders had completely
conquered Ireland, a fusion might have taken place as complete and as
healthy as in England. Neither of these two events occurred. The
English conquest was prolonged over nearly four hundred years. A
hostile and separate power was planted in the centre of Ireland
sufficiently powerful to prevent the formation of another
civilisation, yet not sufficiently powerful to impose a civilisation
of its own. Feudalism was introduced, but the keystone of the system,
a strong resident sovereign, was wanting, and Ireland was soon torn by
the wars of great Anglo-Norman nobles, who were, in fact, independent
sovereigns, much like the old Irish kings. The Scotch invasion of the
fourteenth century added enormously to the anarchy and confusion; the
English power as a living reality contracted to the narrow limits of
the pale; in outlying districts the Anglo-Norman assimilated quickly
with the Celtic element, while the English legislators in Ireland,
alarmed at the tendency, made it the main object of their policy, in
the words of Sir John Davies, 'to make a perpetual separation and
enmity between the English and Irish, pretending no doubt that the
English should in the end root out the Irish.'

Such a state of things continued till the long and terrible wars of
Henry VIII. and Elizabeth broke the power of the independent chiefs
and of the Celtic clans, and gave Ireland, for the first time, a
political unity. It is one of the great infelicities of Irish history
that this result was obtained at the very period of the Reformation.
The conquerors adopted one religion, while the conquered retained the
other, and thus a new and most enduring barrier was raised between the
two nations in Ireland, and a pernicious antagonism was established
between law and religion.

Another influence not less powerful than religion had at the same time
come into play. It had become the English policy to place great bodies
of English and Scotch settlers on the land that was confiscated in
consequence of rebellion, and under the impulse of the strong spirit
of adventure which grew up in the generation that followed the
Reformation, streams of English and Scotch adventurers poured over.
The great settlement of Ulster under James I. proved ultimately a
success, and laid the foundation of the prosperity of that province.
Other plantations were in time absorbed and assimilated by the Celtic
population; but vast revolutions in the ownership of land, accompanied
by the subversion of the old tribal customs, laid the foundation of an
agrarian war which still continues.

Religious and agrarian causes combined with the civil war in England
to produce the great rebellion of 1641 and the eleven years of
ghastly, exterminating war which followed. Hardly any page in human
history is more appalling. A full third of the population of Ireland
perished. Thirty or forty thousand of the most energetic left the
country and took service in foreign armies. Great tracts were left
absolutely depopulated, and after the rearrangement of land, which was
accomplished by the Act of Settlement, the immense preponderance of
landed property remained in the hands of the Protestant nation.

New elements, however, of great energy had been planted in Ireland,
and the field had been thrown open to their exertions. The excellence
of Irish wool and the cheapness of Irish labour laid the foundation of
a flourishing woollen manufacture, and with peace, mild
administration, and much practical tolerance, the wounds of the
country seemed gradually healing. The later Stuart reigns, which form
a dark page in English history, were a period of considerable
prosperity in Ireland, but that period was soon interrupted by the
Revolution. There was no general or passionate rising in Ireland
resembling that of 1641, but it was inevitable that the Irish
Catholics should have adopted the side of the Catholic King, and it
was equally inevitable that when a Catholic Parliament, consisting
largely of sons of the men whose properties had recently been
confiscated, had assembled at Dublin, its members should have made a
desperate effort to reverse their fortunes and replace the land of the
country mainly in Catholic hands. The battle of the Boyne shattered
the Catholic hopes, and it was followed by a new confiscation, by a
new emigration of the ablest and most energetic Catholics, by a long
period of commercial restraints, penal laws, and complete Protestant

The commercial restraints formed part of a protective policy which was
at that time general in Europe, and which was severely felt in the
American colonies. Though it did not absolutely originate in, it was
greatly intensified by, the Revolution, which gave the manufacturing
and commercial classes a new power in English government. The linen
manufacture was spared, but the total destruction by law of the
flourishing woollen manufacture, followed by a number of restrictions
imposed on other branches of industry, deprived Ireland of her most
promising sources of wealth, drove great multitudes of energetic
Protestants out of the country, and threw the people more and more
upon the soil as almost their sole means of support.

The penal laws against the Catholics accompanied or closely followed
the commercial restraints. The blame of them may be divided with some
equality between the Government of England and the Parliament of
Ireland. It was the Irish Parliament which enacted these laws, but an
English Act first made the Irish Parliament exclusively Protestant,
and the whole legislation was carried at a time when the Irish
Parliament was completely dependent, and incompetent even to discuss
any measure without the previous approbation of the English
Government. In order to judge this legislation with equity, it must be
remembered that in the beginning of the eighteenth century restrictive
laws against Protestantism in Catholic countries, and against
Catholicism in Protestant ones, almost universally prevailed. The laws
against Irish Catholics were, on the whole, less stringent than those
against Catholics in England. They were largely modelled after the
French legislation against the Huguenots, but persecution in Ireland
never approached in severity that of Louis XIV., and was absolutely
insignificant compared with that which had extirpated Protestantism
and Judaism from Spain. The code, however, was not mainly the product
of religious feeling, but of policy, and in this respect it has been
defended in its broad outlines, though not in all its details, by such
Irishmen as Charlemont, Flood, and Parsons. They argued that at the
close of a long period of savage civil war it was absolutely necessary
for a small minority, who found themselves in possession of the
government and land of the country, to deprive the conquered and
hostile majority of every element of political and military strength.
This was the real object of the code. It was a measure of self-defence
justified by necessity and by the fact that it produced in Ireland for
the space of about eighty years the most perfect tranquillity.

There is much truth in these considerations, but it is also true that
the penal code produced more pernicious moral, social, and political
effects than many sanguinary persecutions. In other countries
disqualifying or persecuting laws were directed against small
fractions of the nation. In Ireland they were directed against the
bulk of the community. Being supported by little or no genuine
religious fanaticism or proselytising ardour, they made few
Protestants except in the upper orders, where many conformed in order
to keep their land or to enter professions; but they drove nearly all
the best and most energetic Catholics to the Continent; they
discouraged industry; closed the door of knowledge; taught the people
to look upon law as something hostile to religion; introduced
division and immorality into families by the rewards they offered to
apostasy; and condemned the whole country to poverty and impotence by
fatally depressing the great majority of its people. Under the
influence of the penal laws the Catholics inevitably acquired the
vices of serfs, and the Protestants the vices of monopolists. A great
portion of the code was pronounced, with good reason, to be flagrantly
opposed to the articles of the Treaty of Limerick, and it completed
the work of the confiscations by making the landlord class in Ireland
almost wholly Protestant, while the great majority of the tenantry
were Catholics.

There was a moment, however, in the beginning of the century when the
whole current of Irish history might easily have changed. Scotland had
suffered, like Ireland, from the protective policy that followed the
Revolution, and her independent Parliament had retaliated by measures
which threatened the speedy separation of the two crowns, and soon led
to a legislative Union. In Ireland such a Union was ardently desired
by enlightened Irishmen, and there is every reason to believe that it
could then have been carried with universal consent. The Catholics
were perfectly passive, and would gladly have accepted a change which
withdrew them from the direct government of the conquerors in a recent
civil war. The Protestants had as yet no distinctively national
feeling, and a legislative Union would have emancipated their industry
and added enormously to their security. Molyneux, the first great
champion of the legislative independence of Ireland, emphatically
declared that he and those who thought with him would gladly have
accepted the alternative of a Union, and both the Irish Houses of
Parliament voted addresses in favour of such a measure. If it had
been carried, Ireland would have been at least saved from the evils
that rose from the commercial restrictions and from the extreme
jobbing that grew up around the local legislature, and she would,
perhaps, have been saved from some parts of the penal code. But the
golden opportunity was lost. The English commercial classes dreaded
Irish competition in their markets, and the petition of the Irish
legislature was disregarded.

Nearly seventy years of quiet followed. The establishment of the
Hanoverian dynasty, the Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1745, the
different wars in which England was engaged, left Ireland absolutely
undisturbed. The House of Commons then sat for a whole reign and met
only every second year. It was completely subservient to the English
Privy Council, and it consisted so largely of nomination boroughs that
a few great nobles commanded a decisive preponderance, and they
practically conducted the government and administered the patronage of
Ireland. There was great jobbing and corruption, but taxation, on the
whole, was exceedingly light, and there was no tendency to throw it
unduly on the poor, or to create in Ireland any of the many feudal
burdens that prevailed in France and Germany. The practical evil most
felt was the system of tithes for the support of the Protestant
establishment, and it was aggravated by a very unfair exemption of
pasture land, and also by the prevailing system of farming out tithes
to a class of men known as tithe proctors. In the country districts
all power was concentrated in the hands of the landlords, who, with
many faults and under many difficulties, at least succeeded in
attaining a large measure of genuine popularity.

There was an Irish army of twelve thousand men, but the greater part
of it was always sent abroad in time of war, and Ireland was then
often left with not more than five thousand soldiers. No militia and
no constabulary force existed, but when Whiteboy or other disturbances
arose, the landlords put themselves at the head of their tenantry, and
usually succeeded in suppressing them. Law was very little observed;
industrial virtues were at the lowest ebb; there was abundance of
drunkenness, idleness, turbulence, neglect of duty, extreme ignorance,
and extreme poverty; but there was not much real oppression or
religious bigotry, and there were no signs of political disturbance or
conspiracy. After a few years the portions of the penal code which
restricted the Catholic worship became a dead letter, and Catholic
chapels were everywhere rising on the Protestant estates. The
monopoly, however, of place and power continued, though the legal
profession was full of professing converts. The theological
temperature in both sects had greatly subsided. Land was usually let
by the owner on long leases, and at very low rents, to tenants who
almost invariably divided and sublet their tenancies.

At a later period of the century, when population pressed closely on
subsistence, the system of middlemen produced a fierce competition
which raised rent in the lower grades to an enormous height, but this
evil was less felt with a scanty population, and the hierarchy of
tenants at least saved the landlords from the dangerous isolation
which their circumstances tended to produce. Arthur Young, who
examined the condition of the country very carefully between 1776 and
1778, perceived great signs of growing prosperity, especially in the
towns, and, although agriculture was far behind that of England, he
found a considerable number of active, intelligent, and improving
landlords. In the opinion of Young the rental of Ireland was unduly
and unnaturally low, but he urged the landlords to exercise a more
direct and controlling influence over their estates, and he
recommended them, for this purpose, to give leases for shorter periods
and gradually to abolish the system of middlemen and subletting.

In the north there was a powerful, intelligent Protestant community,
with a strong leaning to republicanism. They were chiefly
Presbyterians, and they resented bitterly the commercial restrictions
and the obligation of paying tithes to an Episcopal church. The Irish
Parliament was so constituted that they had no political power at all
equivalent to their importance, and, like the Presbyterians in
England, they were burdened by the Test Act, and their marriages were
only valid if celebrated in the Established Church. The great power of
the bishops, both in the Privy Council and in the House of Lords,
formed a very serious obstacle to church reform. In all classes of
Protestants, however, in the closing years of George II., there was a
strong resentment at the political subjection of Ireland, and a
determination to obtain, if possible, those constitutional rights
which the Revolution of 1688 had secured for England.

It is impossible, within the narrow limits assigned to me, to give
even a sketch of the successive stages by which the independence of
the Irish Parliament was established. The movement began with the
Octennial Act, limiting the duration of Parliament, and it came to
full maturity during the war of the American Revolution. Among the
Irish Catholics there appears to have been absolutely no sympathy with
the American cause, but Ulster Protestantism was enthusiastically on
the side of America. Presbyterians from Ulster bore a considerable
part in the American armies, and under the influence of American
example public opinion in Ireland rapidly advanced. The great
Volunteer movement of 1778 and the following years was originated by
the fact that the Government could supply no troops for the defence of
Ulster at a time when it was in imminent danger of attack from France.
The Protestant gentry called their people to arms; and a great
Protestant force was created, which not only secured the country
against foreign danger and maintained the most perfect internal order,
but also exercised a decisive influence over Irish politics. Volunteer
conventions were assembled which represented both property and
educated Protestant opinion much more truly than the borough
Parliament, and which loudly demanded free trade and Parliamentary
independence. Grattan made himself the mouthpiece of the popular
feeling; and the English Government and Parliament yielded to the
demand. The whole system of commercial restraints, which prevented
Ireland from developing her resources and trading with foreign
countries and the British colonies, was abolished, leaving the
commercial intercourse between Great Britain and Ireland to be
regulated by special Acts. The power of the Privy Council over
legislation was abolished. The appellate jurisdiction of the Irish
House of Lords was restored, and, above all, the sole competence of
the King, Lords, and Commons of Ireland to legislate for Ireland was
recognised. The Irish Parliament nearly at the same time made great
steps towards uniting the people by relieving the Presbyterians from
the Test Act and from the restrictions on their marriages, and the
Catholics from those parts of the penal code which chiefly restrained
their worship, their education, and their industry. At the same time
the Protestant monopoly of political power and of the higher offices

Ireland thus found herself in possession of a Parliament which was, in
name at least, perfectly independent. It was a purely Protestant
Parliament, elected by Protestants, consisting mainly of landlords and
great Protestant lawyers, and representing pre-eminently the property
of the country. It was intensely and exclusively loyal, and always
ready to adopt far more stringent coercive measures against anarchy
and sedition than have ever been adopted by an Imperial Parliament. It
included many men of great talents and great liberality, and through
the county constituencies and the representatives of the chief towns
educated public opinion was seriously felt within its walls; but the
large majority of its members sat for nomination boroughs within the
control of the government, and places and pensions were inordinately
multiplied for the purpose of securing a majority.

Could this constitution last? In framing the course of foreign and
Imperial policy, in all questions of peace or war, of negotiations or
alliances, the Irish Parliament had no voice. Yet it might in time of
war, by withholding its concurrence, withdraw the whole weight of
Ireland from the forces and fatally dislocate the policy of the
Empire. It might pursue a commercial policy absolutely inconsistent
with Imperial interests, and bring Ireland into intimate commercial
connection with the enemies of England; and if English party spirit
extended to Ireland and ran in opposite directions in the two
legislatures, a collision was inevitable. The Lord Lieutenant and
Chief Secretary, who administered the government of Ireland, were
appointed by a British Ministry representing the dominant British
party; the counsels of the Irish Government were framed in a British
Cabinet; the royal consent was given to every Irish Bill under the
Great Seal of Great Britain and upon the advice of a British Minister.
If a machine so constituted could work as long as it was in the hands
of a small and undoubtedly loyal and largely influenced class, could
it work if Parliamentary reform made the Irish Parliament subject to
the fierce and fluctuating tides of popular opinion? above all, if
Catholic enfranchisement brought a vast, ignorant, and possibly
seditious element into political life?

It was the recorded opinion of each successive Lord Lieutenant who
administered the Irish Government after 1782 that it could not, and
that it must sooner or later end either in a union or a separation.
They said this, though they fully acknowledged the perfect loyalty
hitherto shown by the Irish Parliament; the liberality with which it
voted its supplies; the care with which it subordinated its particular
measures to the general interests of the Empire. The failure--not
solely or even mainly through Irish fault--of an attempt to establish
a fixed commercial arrangement between England and Ireland, and a
difference between the British and Irish Parliaments on the Imperial
question of a regency, strengthened the opinion of the English
Government, and for many years before the Union was enacted it was in
contemplation. On the two great and pressing questions at issue this
policy exercised a powerful influence. The Government obstinately
resisted every serious attempt to reform the Parliament, lest they
should lose that controlling power which they believed to be essential
to the permanence of the connection. On the Catholic question their
views were more fluctuating, but their dominant impression was that
emancipation could only be safely conceded in an Imperial Parliament,
and that it ought to be reserved as a boon which might one day make a
legislative Union acceptable to the Irish people.

In Ireland, or at least in Protestant Ireland, the idea of a Union was
now intensely unpopular, but the reformers in the Irish Parliament
were seriously divided. Flood and Charlemont desired Parliamentary
reform on a purely Protestant basis. They believed that this would
include in political life the bulk of the property, loyalty,
intelligence, and energy of the country, and that the Irish Catholics
could not for a long period be safely admitted to political power.
Grattan, on the other hand, believed that it was the first interest of
Ireland to efface the political distinction between the two creeds and
nations, and that an introduction of a certain proportion of Catholic
gentry into the Irish Parliament would be in the highest degree
beneficial. He, at the same time, always taught that Ireland was
utterly unfit for democracy, and that under her peculiar conditions no
policy could be more disastrous than one which would 'destroy the
influence of landed property'; 'set population adrift from the
influence of property'; subvert or weaken the guiding influence of the
loyal and educated. When the United Irishmen proposed a Reform Bill
which would have made the Irish Parliament a purely democratic body,
Grattan denounced it with the greatest vehemence. 'This plan of
personal representation,' he said, 'from a revolution of power, would
speedily lead to a revolution of property, and become a plan of
plunder as well as a scene of confusion.... Of such a representation
the first ordinance would be robbery, accompanied with the
circumstance incidental to robbery, murder.' He believed, however,
that with a substantial property qualification independent
constituencies might be formed which would safely represent the best
elements of both creeds.

The denial of parliamentary reform and Catholic emancipation, and the
refusal of the Irish Parliament to deal with the still more pressing
question of tithes, produced much disaffection; but still the country
was steadily improving, and no serious danger was felt till the French
Revolution burst upon Europe. In every country it stimulated the
smouldering elements of disorder. In few countries was its influence
more fatal than in Ireland. I have very lately described at length the
terrible years of growing conspiracy, anarchy, and crime; of
fluctuating policy, and savage repression, and revived religious
animosity, and maddening panic, deliberately and malignantly fomented,
that preceded and prepared the rebellion. It is sufficient here to say
that in the beginning of 1798 three provinces were organised to assist
a French invasion. But at the last moment the leaders were betrayed
and arrested; the French did not arrive; the rebellion was almost
confined to a few Leinster counties, and it broke out without leaders
and without a plan. In most places the rebels proved to be wretched
bands of marauders intent only on plunder, and, although they
committed many murders, they were utterly incapable of meeting the
loyalists in the field. But in Wexford, priests put themselves at the
head of the movement and turned it into a religious war, deriving its
main force from religious fanaticism, and waged with desperate courage
and ferocity. The massacre of Protestants on Vinegar Hill, in
Scullabogue Barn, and on Wexford Bridge, and the general character
the rebellion in Leinster assumed, at once and for ever checked all
that tendency to rebellion which had so long existed among the
Protestants of Ulster. Some twenty thousand persons perished before
the flame was extinguished. The repression was as savage as the
rebellion, and it left Ireland torn by fiercer religious animosities
than at any period since the Restoration.

It will dispel many illusions if the reader will remember that the
great Irish rebellion was directed mainly against the Irish
Parliament, and that it received its death-blow from Irish loyalists
acting under that Parliament before any assistance arrived from
England. The conspiracy began among Protestants and Deists, who aimed
at a union of sects for the purpose of obtaining a democratic
republic. It turned into a war which was scarcely less essentially
religious than the wars of the Cevennes or of the Anabaptists. Yet two
great Catholic provinces remained quiet during the struggle, and a
great proportion of the loyalist force which crushed the rebellion
consisted of Catholic militia.

The English Government thought that the time had now come for carrying
a legislative Union, and, in the eyes of Lord Cornwallis at least, one
of its chief recommendations was that it would take the government of
Ireland out of the hands of the triumphant party, and would make
Catholic emancipation a possibility. The Catholic bishops were sounded
and found to be very favourable. They declared their full willingness
to accept an endowment for the priesthood and to give the English
Government a right of veto on episcopal appointments, and they warmly,
efficiently, and unanimously supported the Union. The great majority
of the Catholic landed gentry and probably of the lower priests were
on the same side; but in general the Catholic laity seem to have
shown little interest and to have taken little part in the contest. In
Dublin, Catholics as well as Protestants were generally hostile, but
Catholic Cork was decidedly favourable, and an assurance that the
Government desired to carry emancipation in an Imperial Parliament
proved sufficient to prevent any serious Catholic opposition. The
United Irishmen seem to have witnessed rather with pleasure than the
reverse the dethronement of the body which had defeated them, and the
Presbyterians showed scarcely any interest in the question.

Yet outside the ranks of the Catholic clergy the measure found few
active supporters, while the Protestants of the Established Church
were in general ardently and passionately hostile. The great majority
of the county members and the great preponderance of petitions were
against the Union, and the opposition to it, which was led by Foster,
Grattan, Parsons, and Plunket, comprised nearly all the independent
and unbribed talent in Parliament. The very eminent ability of that
small group of Protestant gentlemen never flashed more brightly than
in the closing scenes, and there was a moment when the attitude of the
Orangemen and the yeomanry was so menacing that the Government were
seriously alarmed. But a lavish distribution of peerages and places
purchased a majority, and the troops stationed in Ireland were too
numerous for armed opposition to be possible. In truth, however, no
opposition beyond the dimensions of a riot was to be feared. Outside
Dublin, Catholic, Presbyterian, and seditious Ireland remained almost
indifferent. Even before the measure had passed, opposition speakers
complained bitterly that they were deserted by popular support; and it
is a memorable fact that in the general election that followed the
Union not a single Irish member of Parliament was defeated because he
had voted for it.

Pitt intended the Union to be immediately followed by measures
admitting the Catholics into the Imperial Parliament, paying the
priests, and commuting the tithes. If these three measures, or even if
the last two (which were, in truth, the most important), had been
promptly carried, the Union might have become popular. The Catholic
question had, of late, been greatly mismanaged. The chief men who
directed the government in Ireland were bitterly opposed to any
concession of political power to the Catholics, but the views of the
English Ministers had been materially changed. They desired above all
things to separate the Catholics from the United Irishmen, and in 1793
they forced upon their reluctant advisers in Ireland an Act which
extended the suffrage to the vast ignorant Catholic masses, though it
left the Catholic gentry still excluded from Parliament. Two years
later Lord Fitzwilliam was sent over with instructions to postpone the
question if possible, but with authority, as he believed, to carry
emancipation if it could not be postponed, and he found the Irish
Parliament perfectly prepared to pass it. But the opposition of the
King and a question of patronage produced a fatal division and led to
the recall of the Viceroy. The passions aroused by the rebellion
greatly increased the difficulties of admitting Catholics to a
separate Parliament, but there is clear evidence that at the time of
the Union the Irish Protestants were in favour of their admission into
the Imperial one. The dispositions of the King were well known, but it
was believed that, if the scheme of Pitt was submitted to him as the
matured policy of a united Cabinet, he must have yielded. It is well
known how the plan was prematurely revealed; how Pitt resigned office
when the King refused his consent; how the agitation of the question
threw the King into an access of insanity; and how Pitt then promised
that he would not again raise it during the reign. Pitt's conduct on
this occasion is, and probably always will be, differently judged.
There can be but one opinion of its calamitous effect upon Irish

Ninety years have passed since the Union, and the conditions of
Ireland have completely changed. The whole system of religious
disqualification and commercial disability has long since passed away.
Every path has been thrown open, and English professions, as well as
the great Colonial and Indian services, are crowded with Irishmen. The
Established Church no longer exists. Representation has been placed on
a broadly democratic basis, giving Ireland, however, an absurdly
disproportioned weight in the representation of the kingdom, and its
poorest and most backward districts an absurdly disproportioned weight
in the representation of Ireland. Finally, an attempt has been made to
put down agrarian agitation by legislation to which there is no real
parallel in English history, and some parts of which would have been
impossible under the Constitution of the United States. Landlords who
possessed by the clearest title known to English law the most absolute
ownership of their estates have been converted into mere
rent-chargers. Tenants who entered upon their tenancies under formal
written contracts for limited periods have been rooted for ever on the
soil. Rents have been reduced by judicial sentence, with complete
disregard both to previous contracts and to market value, and the
legal owner has had no option of refusing the change and re-entering
on the occupation of his land. A scheme of purchase, too, based upon
Imperial credit, has been established and will probably soon be
largely extended, which is so extravagantly and almost grotesquely
favorable to the tenant that it enables him by paying for the space of
forty-nine years, instead of his reduced judicial rent, an annual sum
which is considerably smaller, to purchase the freehold of his farm.
It is a simple and incontestable truth that neither in the United
States, nor in England, nor in any portion of the Continent of Europe,
is the agricultural tenant so favoured by law as in Ireland, or
anything of the nature of landlord oppression made so impossible. But
though agitation has diminished, it has not ceased, and the great body
of the poorer Catholics still follow the banner of Home Rule.

About a third of the population of Ireland, on the other hand, regard
Home Rule as the greatest catastrophe that could befall themselves,
their country, or the Empire; and it is worthy of notice that they
include almost all the descendants of Grattan's Parliament, and of the
volunteers and of those classes who in the eighteenth century
sustained the spirit of nationality in Ireland. Belfast and the
surrounding counties, which alone in Ireland have attained the full
height and vigour of English industrial civilisation; almost all the
Protestants, both Episcopalian and Nonconformist; almost all the
Catholic gentry; the decided preponderance of Catholics in the lay
professions, and a great and guiding section of the Catholic
middle-class are on the same side. Their conviction does not rest upon
any abstract doctrine about the evil of federal governments or of
local parliaments. It rests upon their firm persuasion that in the
existing conditions of Ireland no Parliament could be established
there which could be trusted to fulfil the most elementary conditions
of honest government--to maintain law; to protect property; to observe
or enforce contracts; to secure the rights and liberties of
individuals and minorities; to act loyally in times of difficulty and
danger in the interests of the Empire.

They know that the existing Home Rule movement has grown up by the
guidance and by the support of men who are implacable enemies to the
British Empire; that it has been for years the steady object of its
leaders to inspire the Irish masses with feelings of hatred to that
Empire, contempt for contracts, defiance of law and of those who
administer it; that, having signally failed in rousing the
agricultural population in a national struggle, those leaders resolved
to turn the movement into an organised attack upon landed property;
that in the prosecution of this enterprise they have been guilty, not
only of measures which are grossly and palpably dishonest, but also of
an amount of intimidation, of cruelty, of systematic disregard for
individual freedom scarcely paralleled in any country during the
present century; and finally that, through subscriptions which are not
drawn from Ireland, political agitation in Ireland has become a large
and highly lucrative trade--a trade which, like most others, will no
doubt continue as long as it pays.

The nature, methods, and objects of the organisation which would
probably exercise a dominant influence over an Irish Parliament have
been established by overwhelming evidence and beyond all reasonable
doubt, after a long, careful, and most impartial judicial
investigation. The report of the late Special Commissioners[7] and the
evidence on which it is founded have been published; and their
conclusions have very recently been summed up in an admirable work by
Professor Dicey, perhaps the ablest of living writers on political
subjects. Readers may find in these works abundant evidence of the
true character of the Irish Home Rule movement. If they read them with
impartiality they will, I believe, have little difficulty in
concluding that there have been few political movements in the
nineteenth century which are less deserving of the respect or support
of honest men.


[7] The Parnell Commission.--ED.


It was about four years before the great upheaval of beliefs in
England, which was partly caused and partly disclosed by the
publication of the 'Essays and Reviews,' in 1860, that I entered
Trinity College, Dublin. I had then a strong leaning toward
theological studies and looked forward to a peaceful clerical life in
a family living near Cork; and in addition to the ordinary university
course, I went through that appointed for divinity students. I found
my life at the university one of more than common intellectual
activity, for although circumstances and temperament made me perhaps
culpably indifferent to college ambitions and competitions, I soon
threw myself with intense eagerness into a long course of private
reading, chiefly relating to the formation and history of opinions.
The great High Church wave which had a few years before been so
powerful, had been broken when Newman and many other leaders of the
party had passed to Catholicism. Darwin and Herbert Spencer had not
yet risen above the horizon. Mill was in the zenith of his fame and
influence. The intellectual atmosphere was much agitated by the recent
discoveries of geology, by their manifest bearing on the Mosaic
cosmogony and on the history of the Fall, and by the attempts of Hugh
Miller, Hitchcock, and other writers to reconcile them with the
received theology. In poetry, Tennyson and Longfellow reigned, I
think with an approach to equality which has not continued. In
politics, the school of orthodox political economy was almost
unchallenged. In spite of the protests of Carlyle, all sound Liberals
in England then desired to restrict as much as possible the functions
of government, and to enlarge as much as possible the sphere of
individual liberty; and they regarded unrestrained competition and
inviolable contracts as the chief conditions of material progress.

The first great intellectual influence which I experienced was, I
believe, that of Bishop Butler, who was at that time probably studied
more assiduously at Dublin than in any other university in the
kingdom. There were few sermons in the college chapel in which some
allusion to his writings might not be found, and few serious students
whose modes of thought were not at least coloured by his influence.
That influence now appears to me to have been not only various, but
even in some measure contradictory. The 'Analogy' is perhaps the most
original, if not the most powerful, book ever written in defence of
the Christian creed; but it has probably been the parent of much
modern Agnosticism, for its method is to parallel every difficulty in
revealed religion by a corresponding difficulty in natural religion,
and to argue that the two must stand or fall together. Butler's
unrivalled sermons on human nature, on the other hand, have been
essentially conservative and constructive, and their influence has
been at least as strong on character as on belief. Their doctrine is
that consciousness reveals in the inner principles of our being a
moral hierarchy, 'a difference in nature and kind altogether distinct
from strength'; and that among these principles conscience has, by the
very structure of our nature, a recognised supremacy or guiding
authority which clearly distinguishes it from all others.

'The principle of reflection or conscience being compared with the
various appetites, affections, and passions in men, the former is
manifestly supreme and chief, without regard to strength.... From its
very nature it manifestly claims superiority over all others, so that
you cannot form a notion of this faculty, conscience, without taking
in judgment, direction, superintendency. To preside and govern, from
the very economy and constitution of man, belongs to it. Had it
strength as it has right, it would govern the world.'

It was a noble philosophy, well fitted to strengthen and elevate the
character, and it has supported many amid the dissolution of positive
beliefs. Utilitarian theories of morals move very smoothly as long as
their only task is to define the course which it is in the interests
of society that each man should pursue. They are less successful in
furnishing any firm and adequate reason why a man should pursue that
course when individual interests and individual passion are opposed to
it. It is the merit of the schools of Kant and of Butler, that they
raise the idea of duty above all the calculations of self-interest,
and make it the supreme and guiding principle of life.

Among living men, the strongest intellectual influence at that time in
Dublin was, I think, Whately, our archbishop, an original and powerful
thinker who has scarcely obtained a place in the literary and
intellectual history of his time commensurate with the wide and deep
influence he undoubtedly exercised. For this there are many reasons.
Unlike the High Church leaders who flourished with him at Oxford in
the second quarter of the nineteenth century, he never identified
himself with any organised party or school of thought, and he thus
deprived himself of many echoes and of much support. It was, indeed,
one of his first principles that there is no more fatal obstacle to
the discovery of truth than the deflecting influence of party and
system, and that the jealous maintenance of an independent judgment is
the first element of intellectual honesty. Few considerable writers
have appealed less to common passions or wide sympathies; and the only
passion--if it can be called so--that appears strongly in his
writings, is the love of truth for its own sake, which is the rarest
and highest of all. He was accustomed to speculate much upon that
strange power of intellectual magnetism which enables some men to draw
others to their views apart from any process of definite reasoning;
and he acknowledged with truth that he was wholly destitute of it;
that he had never produced any effect which could not be clearly
accounted for, or altered any judgment except by distinct reasons. As
a writer, his style, though wholly without grace, was admirable in its
lucidity. He had a singular felicity of illustration, and especially
of metaphor, and a rare power of throwing his thoughts into terse and
pithy sentences; but his many books, though full of original thinking
and in a high degree suggestive to other writers, had always a certain
fragmentary and occasional character, which prevented them from taking
a place in standard literature. He was conscious of it himself, and
was accustomed to say that it was the mission of his life to make up
cartridges for others to fire. The little volume of 'Miscellanies,'
including his commonplace book and his notes for his books, which was
published by his daughter, exhibits with great clearness the character
of his mind. Though a very candid and, in the best sense of the word,
a very tolerant man, and an excellent scholar, he had, I think, little
power of reproducing the modes of thought of men whose mental
structure was widely different from his own, or of entering into the
intellectual conditions of other ages; but he touched a large circle
of subjects, social, political, and even scientific, as well as moral
and religious, with an original and most independent judgment; and he
raised greatly the moral standard of love of truth and the
intellectual standard of severe reasoning wherever his influence
extended. He delighted in that fine saying of Hobbes that, 'words are
the counters of the wise man, but the money of the fool'; he believed
that most controversies might be resolved into verbal ambiguities; and
his hatred of vagueness, grandiloquence, affected obscurity, and
rhetorical exaggeration exercised a very useful influence over young
men. He was also a most attentive and sagacious observer of human
nature, and few modern writers have written so wisely on the
diversities and the management of character and on the science of
life. In this respect he had a strong affinity to Bacon--the Bacon not
of the 'Organon,' but of the 'Essays'--and perhaps still more to
Benjamin Franklin. In theology he challenged the severest inquiry, and
believed that if honestly pursued it would lead only to orthodox
belief. 'A good man,' he once wrote, 'will indeed wish to find the
evidence of the Christian religion satisfactory; but a wise man will
not for that reason think it satisfactory, but will weigh the evidence
the more carefully on account of the importance of the question.'

His strongest antipathy was to the teaching of the Oxford 'Tracts,'
and he wrote about them with great severity, but more from the moral
than the intellectual side. He believed the Tractarian doctrines of
'reserve' and 'economy' to be essentially disingenuous; he considered
that there was good reason to conclude that leading members of the
Oxford school had remained in the Church of England for a considerable
time after they had adopted the Roman theology, had used language
deliberately intended to mask their position, and had employed their
influence as English clergymen to sap the English Church; and he
especially denounced as the grossest dishonesty the attempt that was
made in Tract XC. to show that a man was justified in subscribing to
the Articles of the Church of England and at the same time holding
everything laid down by the Council of Trent, 'though the Articles
were expressly drawn up to condemn the authoritative teaching of the
Roman Church, and after the Council of Trent had held 22 out of its
whole number of 25 sessions.' The quibbling, special-pleading,
equivocating mind which is consciously or half-consciously
endeavouring by subtle distinctions to maintain an untenable position,
was of all things the most abhorrent to him, and while the
Evangelicals denounced the Tractarians as leading men to Rome,
Whately, perhaps alone among his contemporaries, steadily predicted
that their teachings would be followed by a great period of religious
scepticism. This, he said, would be the result of the discredit they
were throwing on the evidential school, of their habit of coupling
ecclesiastical with Scripture miracles, and of their doctrine that it
is the function of faith to supply the missing links of imperfect
evidence and to impart the character of certainty to propositions
which in reason rest only on probabilities. He himself was of the
school of Grotius and Paley, and believed that simple historical
evidence established supernatural facts. This subject long held a
foremost place in my thoughts and studies, and I afterward wrote much
upon it in connection with the history of witchcraft and the miracles
of the Saints.

I owed much to Whately, but I was studying concurrently with him
teachers of very opposite schools, among others Coleridge, Newman, and
Emerson in English; Pascal, Bossuet, Rousseau, and Voltaire in French.
Locke's writings formed part of the college course, and I became very
familiar with them, and fully shared Hallam's special admiration for
the little treatise 'On the Conduct of the Understanding,' while
Dugald Stewart, Mackintosh, and Mill opened out wide and various
vistas in moral philosophy. The following passage from Coleridge,
which I chose as the motto of almost my first published writing,
exercised so great an influence over my later studies, and shows so
happily the direction in which I was endeavoring to turn my mind, that
I may be excused from quoting it at length:

'Let it be remembered by controversialists on all subjects, that every
speculative error which boasts a multitude of advocates has its golden
as well as its dark side; that there is always some truth connected
with it, the exclusive attention to which has misled the
understanding; some moral beauty which has given it charms for the
heart. Let it be remembered that no assailant of an error can
reasonably hope to be listened to by its advocates, who has not proved
to them that he has seen the disputed subject in the same point of
view and is capable of contemplating it with the same feelings as
themselves; for why should we abandon a cause at the persuasion of one
who is ignorant of the reasons which have attached us to it?'

Adopting an illustration which had been employed by Bossuet for
another purpose, I came to believe that religious systems resemble
those pictures occasionally seen in the museums of the curious, which
appear at first to be mere incongruous assemblages of unconnected and
unmeaning figures, till they are regarded from one particular point of
view, when these figures immediately mass themselves into a regular
form, and the whole picture assumes a coherent and symmetrical
appearance. To discover in each system this point of view; to
cultivate that peculiar form of imagination which makes it possible to
realise how different forms of opinions are held by their more
intelligent adherents, appeared to me the first condition of
understanding them.

In this method of inquiry I was, at a little later period, much aided
by the writings of Bayle, a great critic who brought to the study of
opinions an almost unrivalled knowledge, and one of the keenest and
most detached of human intellects. Gradually, however, by a natural
and insensible process I passed into the habit of examining opinions
mainly from an historical point of view--investigating the
circumstances under which they grow up; their relation to the general
conditions of their time; the direction in which they naturally
develop; the part, whether for good or ill, which during long spaces
of time they have played in the world. It was first of all in
connection with the Roman Catholic controversy, with which we were
much occupied in Ireland, that I learnt to pursue this course. Of the
enormous and essential difference between matured Catholicism and the
Christianity of the New Testament, I never doubted, and my convictions
were much deepened by long travels in Italy, France, and Spain, during
which I endeavoured to study carefully Catholicism in its actual
workings as a popular religion, and not as it appears clarified and
rationalised in such books as the 'Exposition,' by Bossuet. I often
asked myself, who could have imagined from a perusal of the New
Testament that Christianity was intended to be a highly centralised
monarchy, governed with supreme divine authority by the Bishop of
Rome; that this bishop was to be connected, not with the great author
of the Epistle to the Romans, but with St. Peter; that the figure
which was to occupy the most prominent place in the devotions and
imaginations of millions of Christian worshippers was to be the Virgin
Mary, who is not so much as mentioned in the Epistles; that in the
immediate neighbourhood, and with the full sanction of the highest
ecclesiastical authorities, graven images were to be employed in
devotion as conspicuously as in a pagan temple, particular images
being singled out from all others for particular devotion by special
indulgences and by special miracles? I soon convinced myself that
popular Catholicism, as it exists in southern Europe and as it has
existed through a long course of centuries, is as literally
polytheistic and idolatrous as any form of paganism, though it has
many beauties, and though much of its very mingled influence has been
for good. In the teaching of my early youth, this transformation of
Christianity was described as the great predicted apostasy, the
mystery of iniquity, the work of Antichrist among mankind. Under the
influence of the historic method it assumed a different aspect, and
the mystery became very explicable. Hobbes had struck the keynote in a
passage of profound truth as well as of admirable beauty:

'If a man consider the original of this great ecclesiastical
dominion, he will easily perceive that the Papacy is no other than the
ghost of the deceased Roman Empire, sitting crowned upon the grave

Few evolutions in history, indeed, can be more clearly traced than the
successive stages through which Rome, by a gradual and very natural
process, obtained the primacy of Christendom. In the condition of
Europe, again, at the time of the downfall of the Roman Empire, the
invasion, the triumph, and the rapid conversion of the barbarians, the
chief causes of the materialising transformation which Christian ideas
underwent appeared abundantly evident; and it became clear to me that
some such transformation was inevitable, and essential to their enduring
influence. Was it possible, I asked myself, that in ages of anarchy and
convulsion, any religion resembling Protestant Christianity could have
prevailed among great masses of wild and ignorant barbarians, with all
the associations and mental habits of idolaters, at a time when neither
rag paper nor printing was invented, and when a wide diffusion of the
Bible was absolutely impossible? But such methods of reasoning could not
stop there. I was naturally led to consider how different are the
measures of probability, the predispositions toward the miraculous, the
canons of evidence and proof, the standards and ideals of morals in
different ages, and how largely these differences affect the whole
question of evidence. I began to realise the existence of climates of
opinion; to observe how particular forms of belief naturally grow and
flourish in certain stages of intellectual development, and fade when
these conditions have changed; how much that is called apostasy and
imposture is in reality anachronism, the survival in one age of forms of
belief that were the appropriate product of an earlier one.

A writer of extraordinary brilliancy and power was at this time
exercising a great influence either of attraction or repulsion on all
serious students of history. Those who are old enough to remember the
appearance of the first volume of Buckle's 'History,' in 1857, and of
the second volume, in 1861, will remember also how rapidly and how
passionately it divided opinion. It was in truth a book in which
extraordinary merits were balanced by extraordinary defects. On the
special subject of the growth of religions, which most interested me,
it was peculiarly deficient, for with all his great gifts Buckle was
almost colour-blind to the devotional and reverential aspect of things,
and he had little more power than Whately of projecting himself into
the beliefs, ideals, and modes of thought of other men and ages. His
unqualified, undiscriminating contempt for the ages of superstition is
the more remarkable, because fifteen years before the appearance of his
first volume, Comte, with whom Buckle had some affinity, and for whom
he expressed great admiration, had been placing those ages on a
pinnacle of extravagant eulogy. His doctrine that there is no real
progress in moral ideas and no real history of morals, I have always
believed to be profoundly untrue, and to have vitiated a large part of
his conclusions; and although he rendered valuable service in showing
by ample illustrations that the capital changes in history are much
less due to the great men who directly effected them than to the long
train of intellectual, political, or industrial tendencies that had
prepared them, he pushed this, like many of his other generalisations,
to exaggeration and even to extravagance. Individuals, and even
accidents, have had a great modifying and deflecting influence in
history, and sometimes the part they have played can scarcely be
over-estimated. If, as I have elsewhere said, a stray dart had struck
down Mohammed in one of the early skirmishes of his career, there is no
reason to believe that the world would have seen a great military and
monotheistic religion arise in Arabia, powerful enough to sweep over a
large part of three continents, and to mould during many centuries the
lives and characters of about a fifth part of the human race. In one
respect, too, Buckle was singularly unfortunate in the time in which he
appeared. From the days of Bacon and Locke to the days of Condillac and
Bentham, it had been the tendency of advanced liberal thinkers to
aggrandise as much as possible the power of circumstances and
experience over the individual, and to reduce to the narrowest limits
every influence that is innate, transmitted, or hereditary. They
represented man as essentially the creature of circumstances, and his
mind as a sheet of blank paper on which education might write what it
pleased. Buckle pushed this habit of thought so far that he even
questioned the reality of such an evident and well-known fact as
hereditary insanity. But only two years after the appearance of the
first volume of the 'History of Civilisation,' Darwin published his
'Origin of Species,' which gradually effected a revolution in
speculative philosophy almost as great as it effected in natural
science; and from that time the supreme importance of inborn and
hereditary tendencies has become the very central fact in English
philosophy. It must be added that Buckle had many of the distinctive
faults of a young writer; of a writer who had mixed little with men,
and had formed his mind almost exclusively by solitary, unguided study.
He had a very imperfect appreciation of the extreme complexity of
social phenomena, an excessive tendency to sweeping generalisations,
and an arrogance of assertion which provoked much hostility. His wide
and multifarious knowledge was not always discriminating, and he
sometimes mixed good and bad authorities with a strange indifference.

This is a long catalogue of defects, but in spite of them Buckle
opened out wider horizons than any previous writer in the field of
history. No other English historian had sketched his plan with so bold
a hand, or had shown so clearly the transcendent importance of
studying not merely the actions of soldiers, politicians, and
diplomatists, but also those great connected evolutions of
intellectual, social, and industrial life on which the type of each
succeeding age mainly depends. To not a few of his contemporaries he
imparted an altogether new interest in history, and his admirable
literary talent, the vast range of topics which he illuminated with a
fresh significance, and the noble enthusiasm for knowledge and for
freedom that pervades his work, made its appearance an epoch in the
lives of many who have passed far from its definite conclusions. The
task which he had undertaken was almost too vast for the longest life,
and when he died at Damascus, in 1862, he had not yet completed his
fortieth year, and his judgment was probably still far from its full
maturity. A few lines of Pliny which I wrote on the title-page of his
history, will suffice to show the feelings with which I heard of his

'Mihi autem videtur acerba semper et immatura mors eorum qui immortale
aliquid parant. Nam qui voluptatibus dediti quasi in diem vivunt,
vivendi causas quotidie finiunt; qui vero posteros cogitant et
memoriam sui operibus extendunt, his nulla mors non repentina est, ut
quæ semper inchoatum aliquid abrumpat.'

I do not purpose to pursue these recollections further. I had drifted
far from my Cork living and very decisively into the ways of
literature, and after I left the university I spent about four years
on the Continent. I read much in foreign libraries, and I also derived
great profit as well as keen pleasure from the study of Italian art,
which throws an invaluable light on the branches of history I was then
investigating. In its earlier phase especially, before the sense of
beauty dominates over the idea, art represents with a singular
fidelity not only the religious beliefs of men, but also the far more
delicate and evanescent shades of their realisations, ideals, and

The result of those years of study was my 'History of the Spirit of
Rationalism in Europe,' which appeared in the early part of 1865. With
many defects, it had at least the merit of describing with great
sincerity the process by which the opinions of its author had been
formed, and to this sincerity it probably owed no small part of its


When Carlyle came to London in 1831, bringing with him the 'Sartor
Resartus,' which is now perhaps the most famous of all his works, it
is well known that he applied in turn to three of the principal
publishers in London, and that each of them, after due deliberation,
positively refused to print his manuscript. When at last, with great
difficulty, he procured its admission into 'Fraser's Magazine,'
Carlyle was accustomed to say that he only knew of two men who found
anything to admire in it. One of them was the great American writer,
Emerson, who afterwards superintended its publication in America. The
other was a priest from Cork, who wrote to say that he wished to take
in 'Fraser's Magazine' as long as anything by this writer appeared in
it. On the other hand, several persons told Fraser that they would
stop taking in the magazine if any more of such nonsense appeared in
it. The editor wrote to Carlyle that the work had been received with
'unqualified disapprobation.' Five years elapsed before it was
reprinted as a separate book, and in order that it should be reprinted
it was found necessary for a number of Carlyle's private friends to
club together and guarantee the publisher from loss by engaging to
take three hundred copies. But when, a few years before his death, a
cheap edition of Carlyle's works was published, 'Sartor Resartus' had
acquired such a popularity that thirty thousand copies were almost
immediately sold, and since his death it has been reprinted in a
sixpenny form; it has penetrated far and wide through all classes, and
it is now, I suppose, one of the most popular and most influential of
the books that were published in England in the second quarter of the

Such a contrast between the first reception and the later judgment of
a book is very remarkable, and it applies more or less to all
Carlyle's earlier writings. It is a memorable fact in the literary
history of the nineteenth century that one of the greatest and most
industrious writers in England lived for many years in such poverty
that he often thought of abandoning literature and emigrating to the
colonies, and he would probably have done so if he had not found in
public lecturing a means of supplying his frugal wants. The cause of
this long-continued neglect is partly, no doubt, to be found in his
style, for, like Browning, Carlyle wrote an English which was so
contorted and sometimes so obscure that his readers had to be slowly
educated into understanding, or at least enjoying, it. But there are
other and deeper causes which I propose to devote the short time at my
disposal to indicating.

It has been truly said that there are two great classes among writers.
There are those who are echoes and there are those who are voices.
There are some writers who represent faithfully and express strongly
the dominant tendencies, opinions, habits, characteristics of their
age, collecting as in a focus the half-formed thoughts that are
prevailing around them, giving them an articulate voice, and by the
force of their advocacy greatly strengthening them. There are others
who either start new ways of thinking for which the public around
them are still unprepared, or who throw themselves in opposition to
the dominant tendencies of their times, pointing out the evils and
dangers connected with them, and dwelling specially on neglected
truths. It is not surprising that the first class are by far the most
popular. The public is much like Narcissus in the fable, who fell in
love with his own reflection in the water. All men like to find their
own opinions expressed with a power and eloquence they cannot
themselves attain, and most men dislike a writer who, in the first
flush of a great enthusiasm, points out all that can be said on the
other side. But when the first enthusiasm is over--when the prevailing
tendency has fully triumphed and the evils and defects connected with
it are disclosed--the words of this unpopular or neglected teacher
will begin to gather weight. It will be found that although he may not
have been wiser than those who advocated the other side, yet his words
contained exactly that kind of truth which was most needed or most
generally forgotten, and his reputation will steadily rise.

This appears to me to have been very much the position which Carlyle
occupied towards the chief questions of his day, and it explains, I
think, in a great degree the growth of his influence. It is
remarkable, indeed, how many things there are in his writings which
appeared paradoxes when he wrote, and which now seem almost truisms.
Thus at a time when the political and intellectual ascendency of
France over the Continent was at its height, Carlyle was one of the
few men who clearly recognised the essential greatness that lay hid in
Germany, and especially in Prussia--a greatness which after the wars
of 1866 and 1870 became very evident to the world. He was one of the
first men in England to recognise the importance of German
literature, and especially the supreme greatness of Goethe. His
translation of 'Wilhelm Meister' was published in 1824, and his noble
essay on Goethe in 1832; but at first it seemed to find scarcely any
echo. The editor for whom he wrote it reported that all the opinions
he could gather about this essay were 'eminently unfavourable.' De
Quincey, who of all English critics was believed to know Germany best,
and Jeffrey, who exercised the greatest influence on English literary
opinion, combined to depreciate or ridicule Goethe. But there is now
no educated man who disputes that Carlyle in this matter was
essentially right, and that his critics were wholly wrong. And to turn
to subjects more directly connected with England, Carlyle wrote at a
time when the whole school of what was called advanced thought rested
upon the theory that the province of Government ought to be made as
small as possible, and that all the relations of classes should be
reduced to simple, temporary contracts founded on mutual interest.
According to this theory, it was the one duty of Government to keep
order. For the rest it should stand aside, and not attempt to meddle
in social or industrial questions. The most complete liberty of
thought and action should be established, and everything should be
left to unrestricted competition--to the free play of unprivileged,
untrammelled, unguided social forces. This was the theory which was
called orthodox political economy--the _laisser-faire_ system--the
philosophy of competition or supply and demand, and it was incessantly
denounced by Carlyle as Mammon worship, as 'devil take the hindmost,'
as 'pure egoism'; 'the shabbiest gospel that had been taught among
men.' He declared that in the long run no society could flourish, or
even permanently cohere, if the only relation between man and man was
a mere money tie. He maintained that what he called the condition of
England question, or, in other words, the great mass of struggling,
anarchical poverty that was growing up in the chief centres of
population, was a question which imperiously demanded the most
strenuous Government intervention--which was, in fact, far more
important than any of the purely political questions. The whole system
of factory legislation, the whole system of legislation about working
men's dwellings, which has taken place in this century, has been a
realisation of the ideas of Carlyle. When Carlyle first wrote, it was
the received opinion that the education of the people was a matter in
which the Government should in no degree interfere, and that it ought
to be left altogether to individuals, or Churches, or societies. In
his work on Chartism, which was published as early as 1834, Carlyle
argued that the 'universal education of the people' was an
indispensable duty of the Government. It was not until about twenty
years ago that this duty was fully recognised in England. In the same
work he maintained that State-aided, State-organised, State-directed
emigration must one day be undertaken on a large scale, as the only
efficient agent in coping with the great masses of growing pauperism.
In his 'Past and Present,' which was published in 1843, he threw out
another idea which has proved very prolific, and which is probably
destined to become still more so. It is that it may become both
possible and needful for the master worker 'to grant his workers
permanent interest in his enterprise and theirs.'

It is evident how much less strange those ideas appear now than they
did when they were first put out some fifty years ago. One of the
most remarkable changes that has taken place during the lives of men
who are still of middle age has been in the opinion of advanced
thinkers about the function of Government. In the early days of
Carlyle the whole set, or lie, of opinion in England was towards
cutting in all directions the bands of Government control, diminishing
as much as possible the sphere of Government functions or
interference. It was a revolt against the old Tory system of paternal
Government, against the system of Guilds, against the State
regulations which once prevailed in all departments of industrial
life. In the present generation it is not too much to say that the
current has been absolutely reversed. The constantly increasing
tendency, whenever any abuse of any kind is discovered, is to call
upon Parliament to make a law to remedy it. Every year the network of
regulation is strengthened; every year there is an increasing
disposition to enlarge and multiply the functions, powers, and
responsibilities of Government. I should not be dealing sincerely with
you if I did not express my own opinion that this tendency carries
with it dangers even more serious than those of the opposite
exaggerations of a past century: dangers to character by sapping the
spirit of self-reliance and independence; dangers to liberty by
accustoming men to the constant interference of authority, and
abridging in innumerable ways the freedom of action and choice. I wish
I could persuade those who form their estimate of the province of
Government from Carlyle's 'Past and Present' and 'Latter-day
Pamphlets' to study also the admirable little treatise of Herbert
Spencer, called 'The Man and the State,' in which the opposite side is
argued. What I have said however, is sufficient to show how
remarkably Carlyle, in some of the parts of his teaching that were
once the most unpopular, anticipated tendencies which only became very
apparent in practical politics when he was an old man or after his

The main and fundamental part of his teaching is the supreme sanctity
of work; the duty imposed on every human being, be he rich or be he
poor, to find a life-purpose and to follow it out strenuously and
honestly. 'All true work,' he said, 'is religion'; and the essence of
every sound religion is, 'Know thy work and do it.' In his conception
of life all true dignity and nobility grows out of the honest
discharge of practical duty. He had always a strong sympathy with the
feudal system which annexed indissolubly the idea of public function
with the possession of property. The great landlord who is wisely
governing large districts and using all his influence to diffuse
order, comfort, education, and civilisation among his tenantry; the
captain of industry who is faithfully and honestly organising the
labour of thousands, and regarding his task as a moral duty; the rich
man who, with all the means of enjoyment at his feet, devotes his
energies 'to make some nook of God's creation a little fruitfuller,
better, more worthy of God--to make some human hearts a little wiser,
manfuller, happier, more blessed,' always received his admiration and
applause. No one, on the other hand, spoke with more contempt of a
governing class which had ceased to govern; of titles which had lost
their original meaning, and no longer implied or expressed duties
performed; of wealth that was employed solely or mainly in selfish
enjoyment or in idle show. It was Carlyle's deep conviction that the
best test of the moral worth of every nation, class, and individual,
is to be found in their standard of work and in their dislike to a
useless and idle life. As is well known, he had no sympathy with the
prevailing political ideas. He believed that men were not only not
equal, but were profoundly unequal; that it was the first interest of
society that the wisest men should be selected as its leaders, and
that the popular methods of finding the wisest were by no means those
which were most likely to succeed. 'No British man,' he complained,
'can attain to be a statesman or chief of workers till he has first
proved himself a chief of talkers.' 'The two greatest nations in the
world, the English and American, are all going to wind and tongue.' He
believed much more than his contemporaries did that there was need and
room in our modern English life for strong Government organisation,
guidance, discipline, reverence, obedience, and control. 'Wise
command, wise obedience,' he wrote in one of his 'Latter-day
Pamphlets,' 'the capability of these two is the best measure of
culture and human virtue in every man.'

There is another class of workers to which he himself belonged--the
men who are the teachers of mankind. He taught them by his example as
well as by his precepts. Whatever else may be said about Carlyle, no
one can question that he took his literary vocation most seriously. He
was for a long time a very poor man, but he never sought wealth by
advocating popular opinions, by pandering to common prejudices, or by
veiling most unpalatable beliefs. In the vast mass of literature which
he has bequeathed to us there is no scamped work, and every competent
judge has recognised the untiring and conscientious accuracy with
which he verified and sifted the minutest fact. His standard of
truthfulness was extremely high, and one of his great quarrels with
his age was that it was an age of half-beliefs and insincere
professions. He maintained that religious beliefs which had once been
living realities had too often degenerated into mere formulas, untruly
professed or mechanically repeated with the lips only, and without any
genuine or heartfelt conviction. He often repeated a saying of
Coleridge: 'They do not believe--they only believe that they believe.'
He used to speak of men who 'played false with their intellects'; or,
in other words, turned away their minds from unwelcome truths and by
allowing their wishes or interests to sway their judgments, persuaded
or half-persuaded themselves to believe whatever they wished. A firm
grasp of facts, he maintained, was the first characteristic of an
honest mind; the main element in all honest, intellectual work. His
own special talent was the gift of insight, the power of looking into
the heart of things, piercing to essential facts, discerning the real
characters of men, their true measure of genuine, solid worth. Creeds,
professions, opinions, circumstances, all these are the externals or
clothes of men. It is necessary to look behind them and beyond them if
we would reach the genuine human heart. One of the reasons why he
detested what he called stump oratory was because he believed it to be
a great school of insincerity. Its end was not truth, but
plausibility. It was the effort of interested men to throw opinions
into such forms as might most captivate uninstructed men; to keep back
every unpopular side; to magnify everything in them that was
seductive. He once said to me that two great curses seemed to him
eating away the heart and worth of the English people. One was drink.
The other was stump oratory, which accustomed men to say without
shame what they did not in their hearts believe to be true, and
accustomed their hearers to accept such a proceeding as perfectly
natural. And the same strong passion for veracity he carried into his
judgment of other forms of work. Rightly or wrongly, he believed that
the standard of conscientious work had been lowered in England through
the feverish competition of modern times, and under the system of what
he called 'cheap and nasty'; that English work had lost something of
its old solidity and worth, and was now made rather to captivate than
to wear. Carlyle saw in this much more than an industrial change. He
maintained that the love and pride of thorough work had long been a
pre-eminently English quality, that it was the very tap-root of the
moral worth of the English character, and that anything that tended to
weaken it was a grave moral evil.

It is worth while trying to understand what truth underlay those parts
of his teaching which seem most repulsive. The worship of force, which
is so apparent in many of his writings, is a striking example. He was
often accused of teaching that might is right. He always answered that
he had not done so--that what he taught was that right is might; that
by the providential constitution of the Universe truth in the long run
is sure to be stronger than falsehood; that good will prevail over
evil, and that right and might, though they differ widely in short
periods of time, would in long spaces prove to be identical. Nothing,
he was accustomed to say, seemed weaker than the Christian religion
when the disciples assembled in the upper room; yet it was in truth
the strongest thing in the world, and it accordingly prevailed. It was
one of his favourite sayings 'that the soul of the Universe is just,'
and he believed therefore that the ultimate fate of nations, whether
it be good or bad, was very much what they deserved. It is curious to
observe the analogy between this teaching and the doctrine of the
survival of the fittest, which a very different teacher--Charles
Darwin--has made so conspicuous.

He scandalised--and I think with a good deal of reason--most of his
contemporaries by the ridicule which he threw upon the career of
Howard, and upon the great movement for prison reform which was so
actively pursued in his time. Much of what he wrote on this subject
is, to me at least, very repulsive; but you will generally find in the
most extravagant utterances of Carlyle that there is some true meaning
at bottom. He maintained that the passion for reforming and improving
prisons and prison-life had been carried in England to such a point
that the lot of a convicted criminal was often much better than that
of an honest and struggling artisan. He believed that a just and wise
distribution of compassion is a most important element of national
well-being, and that the English people are very apt to be indifferent
to great masses of unobtrusive, struggling, honourable, unsensational
poverty at their very doors, while they fall into paroxysms of emotion
about the actors in some sensational crime, about some seductive
murderess, about the wrongs of some far-off and often half-savage
race. 'In one of these Lancashire weavers dying with hunger there is
more thought and heart, a greater arithmetical amount of misery and
desperation, than in whole gangs of Quashees.' He maintained, too,
that a strain of sentiment about criminals was very prevalent in his
day, which tended seriously to obliterate or diminish the real
difference between right and wrong. He hated with an intense hatred
that whole system of philosophy which denied that there was a deep,
essential, fundamental difference between right and wrong, and turned
the whole matter into a mere calculation of interests. He was
accustomed to say that one of the chief merits of Christianity was
that it taught that right and wrong were as far apart as Heaven and
Hell, and that no greater calamity can befall a nation than a
weakening of the righteous hatred of evil.

The parts of Carlyle's teaching on which I have dwelt to-day will be
chiefly found in his 'Past and Present,' his 'Heroes and Hero
Worship,' his 'Latter-day Pamphlets,' his 'Chartism,' and in the two
admirable essays called 'Signs of the Times' and 'Characteristics.' In
my own opinion, though Carlyle teaches much, his writings are most
valuable as a moral force. Very few great writers have maintained more
steadily that the moral element is the deepest and most important part
of our being, deeper and stronger than all intellectual
considerations. In his writings, amid much that has imperishable
value, there is, I think, much that is exaggerated, much that is
one-sided, much that is unwise. But no one can be imbued with his
teaching without finding it a great moral tonic, and deriving from it
a nobler, braver, and more unworldly conception of human life.


Among the strange and unforeseen developments that have characterised
the fourth quarter of the nineteenth century, few are likely to be
regarded by the future historian with a deeper or more melancholy
interest than the anti-Semite movement, which has swept with such a
portentous rapidity over a great part of Europe. It has produced in
Russia by far the most serious religious persecution of the century.
It has raged fiercely in Roumania, the other great centre of the
Oriental Jews. In enlightened Germany it has become a considerable
parliamentary force. In Austria it counts among its adherents men of
the highest social station. Even France, which from the days of the
Revolution has been specially distinguished for its liberality to the
Jews, has not escaped the contagion. General Boulanger found the
anti-Jewish sentiment sufficiently powerful to make an appeal to it
one of the articles of his programme, and the extraordinary popularity
of the writings of Drumont shows that Boulanger had not altogether
miscalculated its force.

It is this movement which has been the occasion of the very valuable
work of M. Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu on 'Israel among the Nations.' The
author, who is universally recognised as one of the greatest of living
political writers, has special qualifications for his task. With an
exceedingly wide knowledge of the literature relating to his subject
he combines much personal knowledge of the Jews in Palestine and in
many other countries, and especially in those countries where the
persecution has most furiously raged.

That persecution, he justly says, unites in different degrees three of
the most powerful elements that can move mankind--the spirit of
religious intolerance; the spirit of exclusive nationality; and the
jealousy which springs from trade or mercantile competition. Of these
elements M. Leroy-Beaulieu considers the first to be on the whole the
weakest. In that hideous Russian Persecution which 'the New Exodus' of
Frederic has made familiar to the English reader, the religious
element certainly occupies a very leading place. Pobedonosteff, who
shared with his master the chief guilt and infamy of this atrocious
crime, belonged to the same type as the Torquemadas of the past, and
the spirit that animated him has entered largely into the anti-Semite
movement in other lands. The 'Gloria' of Galdos, perhaps the most
powerful religious novel of our time, describes the conflict in modern
Spain of the fanaticism of Catholicism with the fanaticism of Judaism.
Even the old calumny that the Jews are accustomed at Easter to murder
Christian children in order to mix their blood with the passover
bread, is still living in many parts of Europe. M. Leroy-Beaulieu has
collected much curious evidence on the subject. It is a calumny which
appears first to have become popular about 1100 A.D. It is
embodied in a well-known tale of Chaucer. It is the subject of one of
the great frescoes that were painted around the Cathedral of Toledo to
commemorate the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. Two Popes of the
thirteenth century, to their great honour, declared its falsehood,
and by the order of Benedict XIV. Ganganelli wrote a full memoir
examining and refuting it. But in spite of all condemnations, in spite
of many exposures in the law courts, it is still a popular belief in
Russia, Poland, Roumania, Hungary, and Bohemia, and even within the
last ten years it has been the direct cause of many outrages against
the Jews.

Another element to which M. Leroy-Beaulieu attaches considerable
importance is the Kultur Kampf in Germany. When the German Government
was engaged in its fierce struggle with the Catholics, these
endeavoured to effect a diversion and to avenge themselves on papers,
which were largely in the hands of Jews, by raising a new cry. They
declared that a Kultur Kampf was indeed needed, but that it should be
directed against the alien people who were undermining the moral
foundations of Christian societies; who were the implacable enemies of
the Christian creed and of Christian ideals. The cry was soon taken up
by a large body of Evangelical Protestants. The 'Germania' and the
'Civiltà Cattolica,' which were the chief organs of Ultramontanism in
Germany and Italy, and the 'Kreuz Zeitung,' which represented the
strictest forms of German Protestantism, agreed in fomenting it.

Still more powerful, in the opinion of our author, has been the spirit
of intense and exclusive nationality which has in the present
generation arisen in so many countries and which seeks to expel all
alien or heterogeneous elements, and to mould the whole national being
into a single definite type. The movement has been still further
strengthened by the greater keenness of trade competition. In the
midst of many idle, drunken, and ignorant populations the shrewd,
thrifty, and sober Jew stands conspicuous as the most successful
trader. His rare power of judging, influencing, and managing men, his
fertility of resource, his indomitable perseverance and industry,
continually force him into the foremost rank, and he is prominent in
occupations which excite much animosity. The tax-gatherer, the agent,
the middleman, and the moneylender are very commonly of Jewish race,
and great Jewish capitalists largely control the money markets of
Europe at a time when capital is the special object of socialistic

The most valuable portion of this work is, I think, that examining the
part which the Jewish race is now playing in the world, and tracing
the action of historical causes on the formation of their character.
On the old problem of the continued existence of the race through so
many ages M. Leroy-Beaulieu has much to say. He reminds us that in the
East the idea of nationality is habitually absorbed in the idea of
religion, and that there are many examples of the long survival of
peoples or tribes which have lost their political individuality. He
instances the Copts of Egypt, the Maronites and Druses of Lebanon, the
Parsees of India, the Armenians and Greeks of Asia as displaying,
though in a less degree, the same phenomenon as the Jews. He
attributes the long continuance of the Jews as a separate people
mainly to two causes. One of them is Christian hatred, which compelled
the Jews for many centuries to remain a separate people, unmixed with
surrounding nations; living in a separate quarter; marrying among
themselves; strengthened and disciplined in the struggle of life by
enormous difficulties and by the constant elimination through
persecution of the weaker elements. The other is the very elaborate
Jewish ritual extending to all departments of life, which has stamped
upon them an intensely distinctive character.

The force of these causes is undoubted, but they are not, I think, the
only elements to be considered. M. Leroy-Beaulieu appears to me to
have somewhat underrated the physiological force and tenacity of the
Jewish race-type. Following the line of reasoning of a remarkable
essay of Renan, he shows very clearly that the modern Jews are far
from being pure Semites. He proves from Josephus and from other
sources that there was a considerable period, both before and after
the Christian era, when great numbers of Greeks, Latins, and Egyptians
adopted the Jewish faith; that much alien blood afterward poured into
the race through conversions among the barbarians and through the
circumcision of the slaves of Jewish masters, and that there is even
reason to believe that, in some periods of history, marriages with
Christians were not infrequent. It is probable, however, that most
alien elements that were introduced into the race sooner or later
mingled with the old stock, and no fact is more clearly shown than the
extraordinary power of the Jewish type to survive and dominate in a
mixed race. A single instance of a marriage with a Jewess will be
sufficient to perpetuate it in a family for many generations. In this
fact the Jews possess an element of stability which is wholly
independent of all considerations of creed and ritual. Few things are
more curious than the effect of persecution on the Jewish element in
Spain and Portugal. Tens of thousands of Jews in those countries were
burned at the stake or driven into exile, but great numbers also
conformed. They mixed in a few generations with the old Christian
population, and Spain and Portugal, M. Leroy-Beaulieu truly says, are
now among the countries in which the Jewish blood is most evidently
and most widely diffused.

Another consideration, which M. Leroy-Beaulieu has omitted to mention,
but which appears to me to have much weight, is the condemnation of
lending money at interest by the Church. This condemnation, which
lasted many centuries, had two important consequences. One of them was
that the Jews became almost the only moneylenders in Europe. The trade
was deemed sinful for a Christian, but it was found to be a very
necessary one; and the Jews (as some Catholic theologians observed)
being already damned, were allowed to practise it. The other
consequence was that on account of the stigma which the Church
attached to moneylending, the amount of money to be lent was greatly
diminished, or in other words, the rate of interest was enormously and
artificially raised. At a time, therefore, when Catholic intolerance
made it impossible for the Jews to mingle with and be absorbed in
surrounding nations they acquired one of the greatest elements of
power and stability that a race can possess--a monopoly of the most
lucrative trade in the world.

The physical characteristics of the race are very remarkable and they
are especially displayed among the Eastern Jews, who still maintain
scrupulously amid poverty and persecution the religious observances of
their ancestors. It is now clearly shown that the Levitical code was
in a high degree hygienic, and even anticipates some of the
discoveries of modern physiology. Prescriptions about forbidden kinds
of food and about the mode of cooking food, which only excited the
ridicule of Voltaire, have a real hygienic value in the eyes of Claude
Bernard and of Pasteur. The Jews have never adopted the Catholic
notions about the sanctity of celibacy and virginity, but they lay
great stress on the purity of marriage. Although they live chiefly in
towns, illegitimate births are proportionately rarer among them than
among either Protestants or Catholics. They have been as a rule
singularly free from the kinds of vice that do most to enfeeble and
corrode a race. They are distinguished for their domestic virtues,
especially for care of their children, and they are nearly everywhere
less addicted than Christian nations to intoxicating drinks. These
things help to explain the curious fact that in nearly all countries
the average duration of life is considerably longer among Jews than
among Christians. This superiority is general, but, as M.
Leroy-Beaulieu observes, it tends to diminish in Western countries
where Jews, being freed from disabilities, are more assimilated to the
surrounding populations. They now usually marry later than Christians;
they have on the whole fewer children, but a proportionately larger
number of Jewish than of Christian infants attain adult age. M.
Leroy-Beaulieu mentions two curious facts which are less easy to
explain. Still-born births are very rare among Jews, and there is
among them a wholly abnormal preponderance of male births over female

It might be supposed from these facts that the Jews were a robust
race, but no one who has come much in contact with them will share
this delusion. Nothing is more conspicuous among them than their
unhealthy colouring, their frail, bent, and feeble bodies. They
develop early, but they have very little of the spring and buoyancy of
youth and they have everywhere a low average of physical strength.
Malformations and deformities are common among them; their nervous
organisation is extremely sensitive, and though they are as a race
distinguished for their sound, clear, and practical judgment, they are
very liable to insanity and to other nervous and brain disorders.
Physical beauty as well as physical strength is much rarer among them
than among Christians.

The causes of this inferiority may be easily explained. Life pursued
during many generations in the crowded Ghetto; the sordid habits that
grow out of extreme poverty and out of the assumption of the
appearance of poverty, which is natural in a persecuted and plundered
race, go far to explain it; but there is another and, I think, a more
important cause which M. Leroy-Beaulieu has rather strangely
neglected. Physical strength and beauty can be maintained at a high
level in crowded town populations only by a constant influx from the
country. The pure air and the healthy labour of the fields are their
main source. This great school of health the Jews have never known.
For many centuries it would have been impossible for them to have
lived in peace as farmers or agricultural labourers among a Christian
peasantry, and if they ever possessed any aptitude or taste for
agricultural pursuits they have long since wholly lost it.

Their moral like their physical characteristics present strange
contrasts. No natural want of moral elevation or tenderness or grace
can be ascribed to the nation that has produced both the Old Testament
and the Gospels, and has most largely shaped and inspired the moral
life of the civilised world. In Christian times no race has maintained
its faith with a more devoted courage, and it has encountered and
survived persecutions before which the persecutions of other creeds
dwindle almost into insignificance. M. Leroy-Beaulieu quotes the
statement of the grand Rabbi Lehmann, that it is a clearly attested
fact that in two months of the year 1096 twelve thousand Jews, whose
names have been preserved, were massacred in the towns of the Rhine
alone, because they refused to accept a Christian baptism. The Spanish
Jews who perished by one of the most excruciating deaths rather than
forswear their faith may be numbered by thousands, and those who
preferred exile and spoliation to apostasy, by hundreds of thousands.
Even in our own sceptical and materialising age the conduct of the
Russian Jews under the recent savage persecution shows that the old
spirit is not extinct. In the face of the long and splendid roll of
Jewish heroism, it is idle to dwell on the fact that in each great
persecution some Jews have yielded to the fear of death and consented
to perform the rites of a faith which they inwardly abhorred, or on
the fact that a few Rabbis have under such circumstances justified
these feigned conversions.

Prolonged persecution, however, has had a profound influence on their
character, and its influence in some respects has been very
pernicious. Hatred naturally provokes hatred, and violent oppression
against which there is no redress is naturally encountered by
subterfuge and fraud. A race who were for centuries playing their part
in life against overwhelming obstacles learned to avail themselves of
every advantage. Adulation, servility, falsehood, and deception became
common among them. They became at once hard, wily, and rapacious, and
ready instruments in ignoble and oppressive callings. Shut out from
open paths and honourable ambitions they haunted the obscurer byways
of industry; they were to be found in many occupations which sharpen
the intellect but blunt the moral sense, and they threw themselves
passionately into the acquisition of wealth and of secret power.
Exposed for generations, even in lands where they were not more
seriously persecuted, to constant insult and contempt, they often lost
their self-respect and learned to acquiesce tamely in what another
race would resent. Slavish conditions produced, as they always do,
slavish characteristics, and, as is always the case, those
characteristics did not at once disappear when the conditions that
produced them had altered.

M. Leroy-Beaulieu has dwelt with much force on this subject, and he
ascribes considerable weight to the fact that the Jews have been
wholly outside the system of feudalism and chivalry in which the
modern conception of honour was chiefly formed. Perhaps the Jew might
retort with some justice, that he has had at least the compensating
moral advantage of having derived no part of his notions of right and
wrong from a Church in which such an institution as the Spanish
Inquisition was deemed a holy thing.

Defects of another kind have contributed largely to his unpopularity.
Great as is the power of assimilation which the Jewish race possesses,
the charm and grace of manner seem to have been among the qualities
they most slowly and most imperfectly acquire. It is natural that men
who have been excluded from honours but not from wealth should value
money and the ostentatious display of riches more than their
neighbours. In the professions in which the Jews chiefly excel, men
rise most rapidly from low origin and culture to conspicuous wealth.
Direct money-making has some tendency to materialise and lower the
character, and Jews have been for generations prominent in occupations
which do much to impair those delicacies of feeling on which the charm
of manner largely depends. Besides this, as M. Leroy-Beaulieu truly
remarks, though the oldest of the cultured races they are a race of
_parvenus_ in the good society of Europe. In nearly all countries they
have till very recently been excluded from the kind of society and
from the kind of education in which the best manners are formed. The
exaggerations of bad taste; the love of the loud, the gaudy, the
ostentatious, and the meretricious; the awkwardness of men who are ill
at ease in an unaccustomed sphere, who have not yet mastered the happy
mean between arrogance and obsequiousness and who are therefore
somewhat prone to both extremes, still frequently characterise them.
Few persons who know Germany will doubt that the tone of manners of
the German Jews has contributed quite as much as any other cause to
their unpopularity.

It is probable that these defects will gradually diminish, and it
would be a grave error to regard the Jewish race as wholly devoted to
material ends. The multitude of their martyrs is a sufficient answer
to the charge, and no people cherish more strongly the ideals of their
past and have more of the pride both of race and of creed. They have
at all times, as M. Leroy-Beaulieu observes, been distinguished for
their reverence for learning, and it is an undoubted fact that Jewish
families and families mixed with Jewish blood have produced an amount
and variety of ability that far exceed the average of men. The ability
goes rather with the race than with the religion. Spinosa, Heine,
Ricardo, and Disraeli--to quote but a few of the most illustrious
names--were not believers in the synagogue. Some of the forms in which
the Jews have most excelled are such as might have been expected from
their past. It is natural that the descendants of the most nomadic
and cosmopolitan of races should have been great masters of language
and in the foremost rank of philologists, and it is not surprising
that the descendants of the chief moneylenders and calculators of the
world should have produced great financiers, and have shown a very
eminent aptitude for mathematics. Medicine more than most professions
depends on individual ability, and has been exercised independently of
the favour of Churches and Governments, and in medicine the Jews were
for a long period pre-eminent. Their marked taste and turn for music
may appear more surprising. It is universally recognised and is
sufficiently evident to anyone who will look at the faces of the chief
orchestras of Europe. Besides a crowd of lesser names they have
produced among composers Mendelssohn, Meyerbeer, and Halévy, and among
contemporary performers Rubinstein, Joachim, Hermann Levy, and Lucca.
A Jewess is the most popular tragic actress on the contemporary stage,
and another Jewess was probably the greatest tragic actress of the
century. M. Leroy-Beaulieu notices that in painting and sculpture the
Jews have been less conspicuous, and he attributes this to their
horror of idolatry. I should rather ascribe it to the fact that
European art in its best period was mainly devoted to depicting
Christian subjects for Christian churches. At all events several
considerable Jewish names may be cited in contemporary art, and the
Dutch painter who bears the name of Israels is perhaps the greatest
living master of the pathetic in painting. In Western Europe, wherever
public life has been opened to them, Jews have thrown themselves into
almost all the great movements of their time and have distinguished
themselves in nearly all. Crémieux, who was a leading figure in the
French Republic of 1848, was a Jew both by birth and by creed. David
Manin and Léon Gambetta had Jewish blood in their veins. Lassalle and
Marx, the chief names in German socialism, as well as great numbers of
their followers belong to the same race, and more than one English
example of political eminence will occur to the reader. In both German
and Dutch literature Jewish names are frequent and they are nearly
everywhere prominent in journalism. In the army they have been much
less distinguished. Many Jews no doubt serve in the great continental
armies with honour, but the Jew is naturally a pacific being, hating
violence and recoiling with a peculiar horror from blood. The
beneficence of the Jew was for a long time very naturally confined to
his own race, but since the hand of persecution has been withdrawn,
and wherever the Jews have been suffered to mingle freely with the
Christian population, it has taken a wider range and Jewish names are
conspicuous in some of the best forms of unsectarian philanthropy.

It is the evident tendency of modern political life to split up into a
number of distinct groups representing distinct interests or forms of
thought. We find a Catholic party, a Nonconformist party, a Labour
party, a Socialist party, a Temperance party, and many others. But in
spite of the crusade that has arisen in so many countries against the
Jews, we nowhere find a distinct and clearly defined Jewish party. The
tendency of the race is rather to throw themselves ardently into
existing movements, and their power of assimilation is one of their
most remarkable gifts. As M. Leroy-Beaulieu shows by many
illustrations, they are apt in most Western nations even to exaggerate
the national characteristics, though they usually combine with them a
certain flexibility of adaptation and a certain cosmopolitanism of
view which is essentially their own.

It was inevitable that with such tendencies the old rigidity of creed
should be impaired and that the observances which completely severed
the Jew from other people should be discarded. There can be little
doubt that the dissolution of old beliefs which has been such a marked
and ominous characteristic of the latter half of the nineteenth
century has been even more common among the Western Jews than in
Christian nations, and it appears to have spread quite as rapidly
among the women as among the men. Many Jews have passed into complete
religious indifference--into absolute and often very cynical negation.
They have become, as Sheridan wittily said, like the blank page
between the Old and the New Testament. Others have taken refuge in a
kind of highly rationalised Judaism little different from pure Theism.
Some of the most independent, scientific, and trenchant criticism of
the Old Testament writings has proceeded from members of the race
which was once distinguished for the most complete and superstitious
worship of the letter of the law. Spinoza in his 'Tractatus
Theologico-Politicus' led the way in this path, and in our own day I
need only mention the writings of Salvador, Kalisch, and Darmesteter
and the remarkable Hibbert Lectures of Mr. Montefiore.

This movement, however, is chiefly confined to the Western Jews. The
Oriental Jews have retained in a far greater measure their old creed
and ritual, their old fanaticism and aspirations. To them Palestine is
still the land of promise, and they still dream that it is destined to
become once more a Jewish State. Few persons who consider the
conditions of the East and the power of the Jewish race will
pronounce the realisation of this dream to be impossible or even in a
very high degree improbable. Perhaps the most formidable obstacle is
the poverty of the land and the total absence among the Jews of
agricultural tastes and aptitudes. One thing, however, may be safely
predicted. If Palestine is ever again to become a Jewish land, this
will be effected only through the wealth and energy of the Western
Jews, and it is not those Jews who are likely to inhabit it.


[8] Mr. Lecky had made various notes with the intention of bringing this
essay up to date, but failing health prevented him from accomplishing


Among the many important works which have lately been published on the
Continent, reconstructing the history of France during the struggle of
the Revolution and during the periods that immediately preceded and
followed it, scarcely any have been so comprehensive, and not many
have been so valuable, as 'The History of the Life and Times of Madame
de Staël,' by Lady Blennerhassett. The author--a Bavarian lady who was
an intimate friend and favourite pupil of Dr. Döllinger--has brought
to her task a knowledge, which is scarcely rivalled in its
completeness, of the French, German, English, and Italian literatures
relating to the period; and she has produced a work of which it is in
one sense the merit, but in another the defect, that it sweeps over a
far wider field than might be expected from its title. It is seldom, I
think, a judicious thing to confuse the provinces of history and
biography by turning the life of an individual into an elaborate
history of his time; and in the few cases in which this method has
been successfully pursued, the biographer has selected as his subject
some man like Cromwell, or Frederick the Great, or Napoleon, who was
indisputably the chief mover of his age. When figures of less
prominence are chosen, both the history and the biography are apt to
suffer. The true perspective, or relative magnitude, of events is
impaired, and the book is almost sure to lose something of its
artistic charm and of its popularity. Mr. Masson, as it seems to me,
committed a mistake of this kind in his 'Life of Milton,' when he
grouped around the great Puritan poet--who, however illustrious, was
certainly not the central figure of his time--a full and valuable
history of the Commonwealth, and of large sections of the reigns of
Charles I. and Charles II.

In like manner, a great part of the work of Lady Blennerhassett is not
biography, but history, and history of a very high order. Madame de
Staël was so closely connected in her own person, and still more
through her father, with the early events of the French Revolution,
that we accept with gratitude the admirable sketch of that period
which Lady Blennerhassett has given us; but we should scarcely expect
to find in a work primarily devoted to Madame de Staël full and
masterly accounts of the Ministry of Turgot, of the rise and teaching
of the Economists, of the rival influence of the writings of
Montesquieu and Rousseau on the French political character, of the
effect of English influence and American example in preparing the
Revolution, and of the part played by Germans and Swedes in French
politics. At the same time, the pictures of the social and
intellectual life prevailing in the different countries with which
Madame de Staël was connected, and the full accounts given of a crowd
of persons with whom she came into casual contact, though in
themselves both interesting and valuable, often tend to divert the
reader from the main subject of the book. In truth, Lady
Blennerhassett has not been able to resist the temptation of a very
full mind to pour out all its knowledge, and, while possessing many
rare and brilliant literary gifts, she appears to me to want that
restraining sense of literary perspective which gives biography its
true proportion and symmetry. This defect has, I fear, diminished the
popularity of a most valuable book. In the original German, and in an
excellent French translation which was revised by the author and which
I especially commend to my readers, the work consists of three very
substantial volumes.[9] A hasty reader will readily conclude that, in
this short and crowded life, such a space is far more than should be
allotted to a long-vanished figure which, though interesting and
brilliant, was not of the first magnitude. But if he has the courage
to persevere, he will soon discover that few modern books have lighted
up in so many directions the political, social, moral, and
intellectual history of a momentous period, and have exhibited at once
so many kinds of talent and so wide a range of sympathies and
knowledge. The complete competence, the firm, sober, and--if I may use
the expression--masculine judgment with which Lady Blennerhassett has
grasped the great political problems of the period of the Revolution,
is not less conspicuous than the truly feminine delicacy of
observation and touch with which she has delineated social life in
many different countries, and painted the finer shades of many widely
dissimilar characters.

Anne Louise Germaine Necker was born in Paris on April 22, 1766. Her
father was at that time known only as a Swiss banker of high character
and reputation, who had amassed a vast fortune and had come to Paris
for his private affairs; but about two years after the birth of his
daughter he was appointed to represent the interests of Geneva at
Paris, and when she was ten years old he rose, for the first time, to
a leading place in the Ministry of France. Her mother had been the
Mademoiselle Curchod whose charms and accomplishments had captivated
Gibbon when he was a young man at Lausanne. Every reader of his
autobiography will remember the famous passage in which he describes
his engagement, the opposition of his father, and the resignation with
which he 'sighed as a lover, but obeyed as a son.' M. d'Haussonville
has published from the archives at Coppet some melancholy letters
which show clearly that Gibbon exhibited more heartlessness and
inflicted more suffering than might be gathered from his own stately
narrative. But no lasting scar remained. After a few years of poverty
and hardship, during which she was obliged to earn a livelihood as a
schoolmistress, Mademoiselle Curchod found in Necker a husband who
realised her fondest wishes; and when, soon after, she became the
centre of a brilliant salon at Paris, her former lover, then in the
zenith of his fame, was often among her guests. Madame Necker did not
always abstain from slightly veiled allusions to the past, but it is
pleasant to see that a warm and solid friendship seems to have grown
up between Gibbon and both his host and hostess. A pretty anecdote is
related of how, on one occasion, after he had left the house, they
agreed in expressing the deep regret with which they looked forward to
his approaching departure for England; when their little daughter, who
was then just ten years old, gravely offered to prevent the
catastrophe by marrying the illustrious, but by no means
prepossessing, historian.

It was a saying of Talleyrand that he who had not lived before 1789
had never known the full charm of life. Germaine Necker grew up in the
last bright flush of a society which had, perhaps, as many
fascinations as any that the world has known. Her mother, however,
though she occupied a prominent position in this brilliant world, was
never altogether of it. She shared fully, indeed, its intellectual
tastes, and had herself won some small place in literature. She threw
herself ardently into its philanthropic movements, and especially into
that for the reform of the hospitals. She formed a warm and true
friendship with Buffon and Thomas. She corresponded with Voltaire, and
attracted to her house most of the best writers of the age. But to the
last she remained eminently and characteristically Swiss, and she
never acquired the light touch, or the easy, pliant grace, of the true
Parisian. She was a little cold, a little prim, a little pedantic, a
little self-conscious. Neither her reserved manners nor her strong
domestic tastes, nor the vein of Puritanism that ran through her
opinions, harmonised with the lax and sceptical society around her,
and it was no sacrifice to her to exchange the splendours and the
gaieties of Paris for her peaceful retreat on the Lake of Geneva.

In this, as in most respects, her daughter was very different. In her
the Swiss element had altogether disappeared, and, as is often the
case with the eminent child of eminent parents, her character shot out
in directions wholly unlike both that of her father and that of her
mother. She was not beautiful, though her dark and eminently lustrous
eyes, beaming with intelligence, and her rich brown tint, gave some
charm to her large and rather coarse features; while her massive
shoulders, arms, and breast, her full lips and the firm grasp of her
vigorous hand, indicated a strong, frank, ruling, and passionate
nature, overflowing with life and with many forms of energy. Her
education was somewhat fitfully conducted, but she threw herself
eagerly into literary enthusiasms. At fifteen we find her annotating
Montesquieu. Raynal and Richardson were among her idols, but, like
most of the more ardent spirits of her generation, her ideas and
character were moulded chiefly by the genius of Rousseau. Her first
work of importance was an exposition of his doctrines, and his
influence left deep traces on both 'Corinne' and 'Delphine.' Her
strong sane judgment, however, her genuine humanity, and the
moderating influence of her father, saved her from being swept away,
like Madame Roland and most of the disciples of Rousseau, by the
sanguinary torrent of revolutionary enthusiasm; and in times of wild
passion and exaggeration she usually exhibited a singular soundness
and sobriety of political judgment. She was sometimes mistaken, but on
the whole it may well be doubted whether there is any other French
writer or politician of the period of the Revolution whose
contemporary judgments of men and events have been more frequently
ratified by posterity.

In this respect she was not of the school of Rousseau. In another and
less admirable way she was curiously untouched by his spirit, for few
superior intellects have been so openly, so utterly, insensible to the
charms of nature. She once spoke of 'the infernal peace' of her Swiss
home, and she candidly acknowledged that if it were not for respect
for the opinions of others she would not open her window to look for
the first time on the Bay of Naples, though she would gladly travel
five hundred leagues to make the acquaintance of a man of talent. On
the borders of the Lake of Geneva, with one of the fairest scenes on
earth expanding before her, she was incessantly pining for 'le
ruisseau de la Rue du Bac'--for the interest and the excitement of a
society which had become the passion of her life.

Her gifts of conversation were very wonderful, and she had a wide
range of sympathies, keen insight into character, and great power of
describing it by a few vivid words. She had, however, no reticence or
reserve, she made many enemies by her unbounded frankness, and she
often fatigued or overwhelmed by her exuberant animal spirits and by
the torrent of her words. At the same time, unlike most great talkers,
she possessed to a very eminent degree the gifts of learning from
others, of grasping the characteristic features of their teaching, of
awakening sympathies, of dispelling bashfulness, and of kindling
latent intellect into a flame. Few women combined so remarkably a
sound and moderate judgment with extreme vividness and impetuosity of
emotion. She admired deeply, and she generally admired wisely; her
first judgments and impulses were almost always generous; and,
although she was subject to violent gusts of passion, she could be
very patient with those she loved. Through her whole life she was the
warmest and most self-sacrificing of friends, and her few antipathies
were singularly devoid of rancour. One of those who knew her best
pronounced her to be 'absolutely incapable of hatred.'

She soon became the most attractive figure in the salon of Madame
Necker, and as the health of her mother declined she became its
central figure. Her rare accomplishments and her position as a great
heiress naturally would have drawn many suitors around her, but in
that age the determined Protestantism of her family was a formidable
barrier. It appears from something that she wrote late in life to a
German correspondent that, when a mere girl, she had come under the
spell of Louis de Narbonne, who asked her hand, and with whom, in
after years, she had relations which caused much scandal and which
greatly coloured her political life. The story that her parents at one
time contemplated a marriage between her and William Pitt, on the
occasion of his visit to France in 1783, was discredited by Lord
Stanhope; but M. d'Haussonville pronounces it to be quite true, though
there is no clear evidence that Pitt was apprised of the wish of the
Neckers. She was then only seventeen, and her vehement protest against
an English marriage nipped the project in the bud. In 1786, however, a
marriage was negotiated for her with the Swedish ambassador, the Baron
de Staël, who was at that time a special favourite of Gustavus III. It
was a marriage into which but little affection entered, and twelve
years later it ended in a separation. There was afterward, it is true,
a partial reconciliation, and she was present with her husband when he
died, in 1802, on the way from Paris to Coppet.

Her marriage gave her an independent position, and she mixed much in
the politics of the early days of the Revolution. She corresponded
regularly with the Swedish King, and formed intimate friendships with
great numbers of the guiding politicians. The proudest moment of her
life was in August 1788, when, amid a transport of transient
enthusiasm and extravagant hopefulness, her father was for the second
time called to the helm. Her devotion to him amounted almost to
adoration, and she would never acknowledge, what the rest of the world
soon perceived, that, though excellently adapted to be Minister in
quiet, regular times, he had neither the daring nor the insight, nor
the commanding power, that was needed to guide the bark of State
through the fierce storms of the Revolution. She fully shared the
enthusiasm with which the opening of the States General was received.
She mentions that on that occasion she was watching the procession
from a window with Madame de Montmorin, wife of the Minister of
Foreign Affairs, and that as she expressed her delight, her companion
said: 'You are wrong in rejoicing; great calamities will follow from
this to France and to us.' The words were truly prophetic. Madame de
Montmorin perished on the scaffold with one of her sons; the other was
drowned. Her husband was murdered in prison during the massacre of the
second of September. Her eldest daughter died in the prison hospital.
Her youngest daughter withered away when not yet thirty,
broken-hearted by the calamities of her family.

Madame de Staël, too, soon discovered that no millennium was at hand.
She was an eye-witness of the terrible scenes of the fifth and sixth
of October, when Versailles was invaded by a half-famished mob, when
the guards were cut down and beheaded, and when the royal family were
brought captive to Paris. She clearly saw that all power was passing
from the Government to the clubs, and that the mob violence which
reigned was either instigated or deliberately connived at by the very
men whose first duty was to repress it. 'These gentlemen,' she once
said, 'are like the rainbow; they always appear when the storm is
over.' Under her influence the Swedish Embassy became the chief centre
in which the 'Constitutional Party' was organised. Narbonne and
Talleyrand were then completely devoted to her. Ségur, Choiseul, the
Prince de Broglie, and other members of the party were constantly at
her house; and at what were called her 'coalition dinners' she brought
them in contact with leading men of other groups. She had a
conspicuous talent for inspiring, encouraging, conciliating, and
organising a party; and for some months she exercised a very real
political influence. Her aim was a constitutional monarchy of the
English type; but she came gradually to believe that a republic, or at
least a change of Sovereigns, had become inevitable. She never wavered
in her devotion to liberty, order, and justice; but on minor questions
she always exhibited a spirit of compromise which was very rare in her
age and in her country. 'The true line of conduct in politics,' she
once said, 'is always to be ready to rally to the least obnoxious
party among your adversaries, even though it is far from representing
exactly your own point of view.' At the end of 1791 she had a moment
of delicious triumph, when her favourite Narbonne became Minister of
War. Marie Antoinette, who disliked her, clearly recognised her hand.
'Count Louis de Narbonne,' she wrote to Fersen, 'has been Minister of
War since yesterday. What a glory for Madame de Staël and what a
pleasure for her to have the whole army at her disposal!'

The triumphs of Madame de Staël, however, were very fleeting. Her
father had fallen irretrievably, and in September 1790 he passed
almost unnoticed out of the country where, but little more than a year
before, he had been welcomed with such enthusiasm. The Ministry of
Narbonne, to which she had attached her most ardent hopes, ended in
four months, and before its conclusion her husband, whose views on
French politics had been for some time diverging from those of his
Sovereign, was recalled. He was not, however, replaced, and Madame de
Staël remained alone in Paris till September 1792. Her position there
was an extremely dangerous one. She had long been an object of
incessant abuse in the Royalist press, and now the red waves of
Jacobinism were rising higher and higher, surging fiercely around
those to whom she was most attached. Nothing in her life is so
admirable as the courage with which, in this period of the Revolution,
she devoted herself to saving the lives of the proscribed. Her purse
was always open, and she often risked not only her fortune, but her
life. The royal family had always disliked her; but she was filled
with horror at the fate that was impending over them, and she herself
organised a plan for their escape, in which, if it had been accepted,
she would have borne a leading part, at the imminent risk of her head;
and she afterward wrote an earnest and eloquent pamphlet in the hope
of saving the life of the Queen. Sometimes by interceding with those
in power, sometimes by concealing fugitives in the Swedish Embassy,
very often by large and timely gifts of money, she saved many. Her own
life, at the time of the September massacres, was in extreme danger,
and she at last fled to Switzerland. Coppet then became a great centre
of refugees, and many of them owed their lives to her help. Among
others, Narbonne appears to have owed his escape, in part at least, to
her assistance, and she chiefly managed the escape of his daughter.
She was for a long time completely under his charm; but he is said to
have been irritated by her often tactless impetuosity, and especially
by the manner in which public opinion regarded him as her creature,
and he seems to have treated her with much ingratitude. There was no
violent breach, but there was a separation, and a wound which was long
and bitterly felt. Many years later, Madame de Staël, when praising
the Prince de Ligne, said of him: 'He had the manners of Monsieur de
Narbonne--and a heart.'

A short visit to England, in 1793, the death of her mother in May
1794, and the publication of her first purely political work,
'Reflections on Peace, addressed to Mr. Pitt and to the French,' were
the chief events of her life during the next few months. In this work
she dwelt with much force on the absurdity of supposing that any
foreign intervention could restore what the Revolution had destroyed,
and she predicted that the inevitable effect of the prolongation or
extension of the war would be to strengthen that militant Jacobinism
which was now the greatest danger to Europe. In this year, too, she
first came in contact with Benjamin Constant, and her acquaintance
soon developed into a connection which gave her a new and powerful
instrument for acting on French politics, but which also brought with
it much suffering, many reproaches, and long and lasting discredit. In
May 1795 we find her again in Paris, with her husband, who had once
more been sent on a mission to France; again eagerly engaged in French
politics; again largely occupied in defending the interests of her
proscribed friends. Among others, Talleyrand appears to have owed his
recall to her influence. As usual, she excited many antipathies, she
was denounced in the Convention by Legendre for her political
intrigues and especially for her efforts in favour of the emigrants,
and she was obliged to leave Paris for about eighteen months. Her pen
was at this time very active, and to this period belong her 'Essay on
Novels' and her 'Treatise on the Passions.'

The star of Bonaparte was now rapidly rising, and it profoundly
affected the last years of her life. The pages in her 'Considerations
on the French Revolution' in which she describes her first interview
with him, after the peace of Campo Formio, are among the most graphic
she ever wrote, though something of the shadow of the picture was, no
doubt, drawn from later experience and antipathy. She was at first
dazzled; she was at all times profoundly impressed by his genius, but
she soon came to perceive that his nature was wholly unlike that of
other men. She had seen, she said, men worthy of all respect, and she
had seen men noted for their ferocity; but the impression produced on
her by Bonaparte was generically different from that produced by
either of these classes. She found that such epithets as 'good,'
'violent,' 'gentle,' and 'cruel' could not be applied to him in their
ordinary senses. He was in truth a being who stood self-centred, and
apart from the sympathies, passions, and enthusiasms of his kind,
habitually regarding men, not as fellow-creatures, but as mere
counters in a game; a will of colossal strength; an intellect of
clear, cold, transcendent power, solely governed by the imperturbable
calculation of the strictest egotism, and never drawn aside by love or
hatred, by pity or religion, or by attachment to any cause. It was
impossible, she found, to exaggerate his contempt for human nature and
his disbelief in the reality of human virtue. A perfectly honest man
was the only kind of man he never could understand. Such a man
perplexed and baffled his calculations, acting on them as the sign of
the cross acts on the machinations of a demon. The superiority which
so clearly shone in his conversation was not that of a mind cultivated
by study and by society; it was the supreme insight into the
circumstances of life possessed by a mighty hunter of men. There was
something in him, she said, like a cold and trenchant sword, which at
the same moment could wound and chill.

Such was the estimate she formed of the man who, nearly at the same
time, was presented by Talleyrand to the Directory as 'the pacificator
of Europe,' as a hero 'who despised luxury and pomp--the wretched
ambition of common souls--and who loved the poems of Ossian,
especially because they detach men from the earth'! That two such
different natures should come into collision was very natural.
Bonaparte always hated superior women, and especially women who
meddled in politics. He well knew that the circle of Madame de Staël
was the centre of ideas about freedom and constitutional government
irreconcilably opposed to his ambition, and that the world of good
society and good taste, of independent thought and independent
characters, in which she played so great a part, remained unsubdued
and undazzled by his power. Benjamin Constant had been placed in 'the
Tribunate,' and in the beginning of 1800 he made a speech there,
indicating a desire to establish in that body an opposition like the
opposition in the English Parliament. Bonaparte was furious at his
attitude, and at once ascribed it to the inspiration of Madame de
Staël. A year later the last work of her father appeared, and it
contained an earnest warning against growing despotism in France and a
strong argument for the establishment of a republican constitution.
The sayings of Madame de Staël that were repeated from lip to lip, and
the atmosphere of thought that grew up around her, irritated and
disquieted Bonaparte. 'She is moving the minds of men,' he said, 'in a
direction that does not suit me.' 'They pretend that she does not
speak of politics or of me, but somehow it always happens that those
who have been with her become less attached to me.' Soon her salon was
emptied by an emphatic intimation that those who entered it would
incur the displeasure of the First Consul. Official scribes were
busily employed in depreciating her, and these measures were speedily
followed by the long exile which darkened the later years of her life.

It is impossible for me in this article to relate, even in outline,
the story of this exile, and of her travels in England, Italy,
Austria, Russia, and, above all, in Germany. Madame de Staël has
herself described this period of her life in her 'Ten Years of Exile,'
and all the details have been collected by Lady Blennerhassett with an
industry that leaves nothing to be desired. A woman of a more heroic
type would have borne with less repining an exclusion from Paris life
which was mitigated by wealth, and fame, and abundant occupation, and
a family that adored her, and troops of admiring friends. A woman who
was less essentially noble would have assuredly accepted the overtures
that were more than once made to her, and would have purchased her
peace with Napoleon by burning a few grains of literary incense on his
altar. But though, in a life of more than common vicissitude and
temptation, Madame de Staël was betrayed into great weaknesses and
into some serious faults, she never lost her sense of the dignity and
integrity of literature, and her works are singularly free from
unworthy flattery as well as from unworthy resentments and jealousies.
The homage which Napoleon desired was never received, and in her great
work on Italy and her still greater one on Germany there was no trace
of his victories, influence, or animosities. 'In France,' he once
said, 'there is a small literature and a great literature; the small
literature is on my side, but the great literature is not for me.'

The disfavour which thrust Madame de Staël out of political
influence, and then drove her into exile, proved a blessing in
disguise, for it turned her mind decisively from political intrigues
to those forms of literature in which she was most fitted to excel.
Her treatise on 'Literature,' which was published in 1800, was
conceived upon a scale too large for her own knowledge, and though she
herself attributed to it the great and general favour that she enjoyed
for a time in Paris society, it has not taken an enduring place in
French literature. 'Delphine,' the most personal, and also the most
censured, of her novels, had a still wider success, and made a deeper
and more lasting impression. It appeared in 1802, and it was followed
by a long interval, during which she appears to have published nothing
except a short but admirable notice of her father, who died in the
spring of 1804; but in 1807 'Corinne' burst upon the world, and at
once obtained a European fame equalled by that of no French novel
since 'La Nouvelle Héloise.' In this great work of imagination she
embodied, in a highly poetic form, the impressions she had derived
from her journeys in England and Italy, and its immense and
instantaneous success placed her on the very pinnacle of fame. It is
worthy of notice that a bitter attack upon 'Corinne' appeared in 'Le
Moniteur,' based chiefly upon the fact that its hero was an
Englishman; and there is good reason to believe that this attack was
from the pen of Napoleon himself.

A book of larger scope and of more serious influence soon followed.
Germany at this time presented the singular spectacle of a people who
had been reduced to the lowest depths of political depression, but
who, at the same time, could boast of a contemporary literature that
was the first in the world. In France a translation of 'Werther' had
attained great popularity; some of the plays of Schiller, the idylls
of Gessner, and a few other German works were well known; but scarcely
any Frenchman had a conception of the magnitude and importance of the
intellectual activity which was growing up beyond the Rhine, or of the
vast place which Goethe, Schiller, and Kant were destined to take in
European thought. It was one of the chief pleasures and occupations of
Madame de Staël, during her exile, to explore this almost unknown
field. It would scarcely have been thought that she was well fitted
for the task. She learned the language late in life, and her
characteristically French mind seemed very little in harmony with
either the strength or the weakness of the Teutonic intellect. There
was nothing very profound, or very subtle, or very poetical in her
nature, and she had all that instinctive dislike to the vague, the
disproportioned, the exaggerated, and the ambiguous, to fantastic and
far-fetched conjecture, and to imposing edifices of speculation based
upon scanty or shadowy materials, that pre-eminently distinguishes the
best French thought. Very wisely, however, she placed herself in
direct communication with the great writers of Germany, and a wholly
new world of thought and sentiment gradually opened upon her mind. It
is not too much to say that it was her pen that first revealed to the
Latin world the intellectual greatness of Germany. In England,
Coleridge had already laboured in the same field, and his admirable
translation of 'Wallenstein' had appeared as early as 1800; but it had
been completely still-born, and in England also it was reserved for
the great Frenchwoman to give the first considerable impulse to the
study of German literature. For the history, the merits, and the
defects of her work on Germany, I cannot do better than to refer to
the admirable pages which Lady Blennerhassett has devoted to the
subject. With the doubtful exception of 'Le Génie du Christianisme,'
it was by far the most important French work which appeared during the
reign of Napoleon. It is a characteristic fact that the whole of the
first edition was confiscated by order of his Government. Happily the
manuscript was saved, and about three years later it was printed in

After some discreditable scenes, on which a recently published
correspondence has thrown a painful though somewhat doubtful light,
the connection of Madame de Staël with Benjamin Constant was broken.
The two continued occasionally to correspond, and as late as 1815 we
find her lending him a large sum of money; but their relations were
never again what they had been, and on the side of Constant there
appears to have been a large amount of positive malevolence. 'O
Benjamin,' she wrote to him in one of her later letters, 'you have
destroyed my life! For ten years not a day has passed that my heart
has not suffered for you--and yet I loved you so much!' A strong
affection, such as she had not found in her marriage with the Baron de
Staël, was an imperious necessity of her existence, and after her
breach with Constant she soon found an object in a young officer from
Geneva named Rocca, who had returned to his native town badly wounded
after brilliant service in Spain. When they first met, in 1810, Madame
de Staël was forty-four and Rocca about twenty-three; but a genuine
and honourable affection seems to have grown up on both sides, and in
the following year they were married. Madame de Staël, however, either
clinging to her name or dreading the ridicule of such a strangely
assorted marriage, insisted upon its concealment, and Rocca generally
passed in society as her lover. A child was born in 1812, but it was
only after the death of Madame de Staël that the legitimacy of the
connection was established. It proved much more productive of
happiness than might have been expected, and greatly brightened her
closing years. Nearly at the same time an important change passed over
her religious views, and the vague deism of her youth deepened into a
positive, definite, and earnest Christianity, but without mysticism
and without intolerance. Some beautiful lines that are cited by Lady
Blennerhassett very faithfully express the spirit of her belief: 'Il
faut avoir soin, si l'on peut, que le déclin de cette vie soit la
jeunesse de l'autre. Se désintéresser de soi, sans cesser de
s'intéresser aux autres, met quelque chose de divin dans l'âme.'

She lived to see the downfall of perhaps the only man she really
hated, his return from Elba, his final defeat at Waterloo, and the
restoration of the Bourbons. But, though she detested Napoleon and his
system, these things gave her no pleasure. The spectacle of an invaded
and a dismembered France aroused her strongest feelings of patriotism,
and she loved liberty too truly and too ardently to rejoice in the
influences that triumphed in 1815. Her last years were chiefly spent
in the composition of her 'Considerations on the French Revolution,'
in which she sums up the convictions of her life. It is one of her
most valuable and most lasting books. The disproportioned prominence
which is naturally assigned in it to Necker, and the manifest personal
element in her antipathy to Napoleon, impair its weight, indeed, as a
history; but few writers have criticised with more justice the
successive stages of the Revolution, and few books of its generation
are so rich in political wisdom. The concluding chapters, in which, in
a strain of noble eloquence, she pleads the cause of moderate and
constitutional freedom, show how steadily and how strongly, in an age
of many disenchantments, she clung to the belief of her youth.

The 'Considerations on the French Revolution' had a vast and an
immediate success, and in a few days sixty thousand copies were sold.
Madame de Staël, however, did not live to witness her triumph. In
February 1817 she was struck down by a paralytic illness, and on July
14, after a long period of complete prostration, she passed away
tranquilly in her sleep. It was a peaceful ending to an agitated and
chequered career. She had enjoyed much and suffered much. She had
committed grave faults, and had met with her full share of
disappointment and ingratitude; but few women have left such an
enduring monument behind them, or have touched human life on so many
sides and with so many sympathies.


[9] There is also an English, and somewhat abridged, translation.


There is probably no other English public man of the present century
whose career has attracted in so large a measure the interest both of
politicians and of men of letters as Sir Robert Peel. In addition to a
crowd of industrious but not very distinguished compilers, it has been
discussed with great skill by Guizot, by Lord Dalling, by Mr. Goldwin
Smith, and by Mr. Spencer Walpole; and in that great literature of
monographs which has grown up with such remarkable rapidity in England
within the last decade, no less than three have been devoted to the
life of Peel. The interest that attaches to him is, indeed, of a very
peculiar character. He was almost wholly destitute of the power of
imagination that is so conspicuous in the careers or speeches of
Chatham and Burke, of Canning and Beaconsfield. Except during a few
years that followed the Reform Bill of 1832, he never exhibited the
spectacle of a leader struggling successfully against enormous odds.
He was not one of those statesmen who see further than their
contemporaries, and who, after years of failure and struggle, are
proved by their ultimate triumph to have most truly read the
tendencies of their age. Though he was three times Prime Minister of
England, and though he was for a time deemed the most brilliant of
party leaders, he left the great and powerful party which trusted him
almost hopelessly shattered. Twice in his life he carried measures of
transcendent importance which he had not only persistently opposed,
but had been specially placed in power for the purpose of resisting.
The most striking incidents in his career are incidents of failure
rather than of success, and history has pronounced that, on the most
important questions of his time, he was disastrously wrong. The long
delay in the inevitable emancipation of the Catholics, which was
largely due to him, and the circumstances under which he ultimately
carried the measure, produced evils that are in full activity at the
present hour. His persistent opposition to parliamentary reform
contributed to bring England to the very verge of revolution; though
when the Reform Bill had been carried he nobly retrieved his error by
the frankness with which he accepted, and the skill with which he
used, the new conditions of English politics. His abolition of the
Corn Laws at the head of a Government which had been pledged to
maintain them gave a great shock to public confidence, and for a long
period most seriously dislocated the machinery of party government.
But, in spite of all this, there are few statesmen who have carried so
large a number of measures of great and acknowledged importance, who
have impressed so deeply the sense of their superiority on the minds
of their contemporaries, or who were followed to the grave by a more
widespread and genuine regret.

It is this contrast between the leading incidents of Peel's life and
the impression which he made on the world that constitutes the great
interest of his career. The explanation is not difficult to discover.
It is the common story of extraordinary qualities balanced by
striking defects. He was not a great statesman, but he was a
supremely great administrator, a supremely great master of
parliamentary management and of parliamentary legislation. He had
little prescience; he often grossly misread the signs of the times, or
only recognised them when it was too late; but when he was once
convinced, he acted on his conviction with frankness and courage, and
when a thing had to be done, no one could do it like him. As Disraeli
said: 'In the course of time the method which was natural to Sir
Robert Peel matured into a habit of such expertness that no one in the
despatch of affairs ever adapted the means more fitly to the end.'[10]
In the words of Sir Cornewall Lewis: 'For concocting, producing,
explaining, and defending measures, he had no equal, or anything like
an equal.'[11]

In the interesting volumes which were published by Lord Mahon and Mr.
Cardwell in 1856 we have Peel's own explanation of his conduct
relating to the removal of the Catholic disabilities in 1829, and to
the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846; but the publication of his
confidential correspondence has been long delayed, and the volume
before us only carries the work down to 1827. It has been edited by
Mr. Parker with great care and accuracy, and with undeviating good
sense and good taste, and it throws much curious light upon a corner
of history which has been but little explored.

Peel started in life with great advantages. The eldest son of a very
wealthy manufacturer who had long occupied a respectable place in
Parliament, and who was closely attached to the dominant party in the
State, he was from his earliest youth destined by his father to be a
statesman. Under such circumstances he was certain in the pre-Reform
period to have not only all the advantages which the best school and
university education could give, but also the still greater advantages
of an early introduction into both parliamentary and official life;
provided always that no aberration of character, or taste, or
imagination, or opinion drew him aside from the plain path that lay
before him. He grew up in an atmosphere of the best middle-class
virtues. Decorum, good sense, industry, strict morality; a sober
religious orthodoxy; much simplicity of life, preserved in the midst
of great wealth; ideals which, if not very lofty, were at least
eminently practical and perfectly honourable, prevailed around him,
and their influence imbued his whole nature. He accepted cordially the
destiny that was before him, and threw himself into it with untiring
industry. His opinions changed during his life much more than his
character, and the shy, sensitive, industrious, somewhat
self-conscious, somewhat awkward Harrow boy, prefigured very
faithfully the future statesman. He is described as wandering when a
schoolboy by himself among the hedges, knocking down birds with
stones, a practice in which he was very skilful, and which eventually
developed into a strong passion for shooting. He was quiet,
good-natured, studious, scarcely ever in scrapes, and it was not until
the last year of his school life that he threw himself with any
keenness into the amusements of his comrades. He had good natural
abilities; but probably the one point in which he greatly exceeded the
average of intelligent boys was his memory, which was of extraordinary
retentiveness, and which he carefully cultivated. During a few months
which elapsed between leaving Harrow and going to Oxford he constantly
attended the House of Commons, under the Gallery; and he also
attended some natural history lectures at the Royal Institution. His
Oxford career was very successful. He is said to have worked before
his degree examination for no less than eighteen hours, through the
day and night. He gained a double-first, and in the first class of
mathematics he stood alone. Such a success at once stamped him as a
youth of extraordinary promise, and the impression it made was
especially great because, the examination system having been very
recently reorganised, he was the first Oxford man who had attained it.

He was brought into Parliament in April 1809, almost immediately after
he came of age, for the borough of Cashel. No special significance
attaches to the fact of his having entered Parliament for an Irish
constituency, for his father had simply bought the seat, and the young
member appears to have never gone over to his constituents or held any
communication with them.

'When I sat for Cashel,' he afterwards wrote, 'and was not in office,
having made those sacrifices which could then legally be made, but now
cannot, I did not consider myself at all pledged to the support of
Government.'[12] Perceval, who represented in its extreme form the
Tory reaction that followed the Revolution, was then Prime Minister,
and Peel at once took his place among his followers. He first spoke in
seconding the Address in 1810, and in the partial judgment of his
father his speech was considered, 'by men the best qualified to form a
correct opinion of public speaking, the best first speech since that
of Mr. Pitt.'[13]

It was not, perhaps, an unmixed advantage to Peel that while he was
still a mere boy his father had somewhat ostentatiously destined him
to be one day a Tory statesman. Such an education could hardly fail to
strengthen the self-consciousness which was never wanting in Peel's
character, and to give a decided bias to his judgment. At the same
time, the distinctive merits of his career would have probably never
been fully developed without the early administrative training which
his opinions made possible for him, and there is nothing in his early
history to give the least countenance to the belief that his adherence
to the extreme type of Tory politics imposed the slightest strain upon
his judgment. His immediate interests and his sentiments appear at
this time to have perfectly concurred. He came into Parliament with
the party which was dominant, and with the section of the party which
was most poor in able men. Had he adopted on the Catholic question the
liberal opinions of Canning and Castlereagh, he must have held a
position altogether subordinate to them; and the same causes that in
the preceding Ministry had raised Perceval to be leader of the House
of Commons over the heads of Castlereagh and Canning, marked out for
Peel the future leadership of the party of resistance to concession.
It has been said, on the authority of Sir Lawrence Peel, that his
first appointment was that of private secretary to Lord Liverpool, but
Mr. Parker has found no trace of this in the papers either of Peel or
of Lord Liverpool. In 1810, however, when he was but just twenty-two,
he entered administrative life as Under-Secretary of State for War and
the Colonies, and he held that place till August 1812, when he
obtained the far more important post of Chief Secretary for Ireland,
and became for the next six years virtual governor of that country.

It was a post requiring not only great administrative skill, but also
great gifts of original statesmanship. During the last five years of
the eighteenth century, and especially during the rebellion of 1798,
religious passions in Ireland, which had for more than a generation
been steadily subsiding, had been kindled into a flame, and the urgent
necessity of settling the Catholic question had begun to press with
irresistible force on the minds of the more intelligent statesmen.
Pitt had intended to complete the Union by measures for admitting
Catholics into Parliament, for commuting tithes, and for paying the
Catholic clergy. Through the instrumentality of Lord Castlereagh
assurances of the disposition of the Cabinet had been conveyed to the
Catholic bishops and the leading Catholic laymen in 1799, which were
sufficient to secure their active support for the Union and to prevent
any serious opposition among the Catholic laity. The bishops met the
wishes of the English Government by drawing up a series of
resolutions, in which they declared their readiness to accept with
gratitude an endowment for the priesthood, to confer upon the English
Government a power of veto over the appointment of Catholic bishops
which would prevent the introduction into that body of any disloyal
men, and to certify to the Government the nomination of all Catholic
parish priests, as well as the fact that they had taken the oath of
allegiance. But the King had not been informed of the negotiations
that had taken place, and it is well known how his uncompromising
opposition produced the resignation of Pitt in 1801, how the agitation
caused by the question threw the King into a temporary fit of
insanity, and how Pitt at once promised that he would not move the
question again during the reign. In the spring of 1804 Pitt resumed
office, on the express understanding that he would not permit Catholic
Emancipation; when the question was introduced in 1805 by Lord
Grenville in the Lords, and by Fox in the Commons, it was defeated in
both Houses by immense majorities, and Pitt declared that though he
was still of opinion that there was no danger in the concession, yet,
as long as the circumstances which prevented him from bringing it
forward continued, he would be no party to agitating the question.

In 1806 Pitt died, and Fox and Grenville were themselves in power, but
the Catholics were again disappointed. The prejudice of the King, the
feeling of the country, the recent vote of the House of Commons, the
presence of Lord Sidmouth in the Ministry, proved insuperable
obstacles, and Fox could only urge the Catholic leaders to postpone
the question. Fox died in September 1806, and the Government presided
over by Lord Grenville met a new Parliament in the following December.
Grenville had been Pitt's colleague during the negotiations with the
Catholics that preceded the Union; he had strongly urged upon Pitt the
necessity of resigning in 1801, and he never forgave him for having so
lightly abandoned the cause. Grenville did not attempt to carry
emancipation, but he resolved to take at least one serious step in the
direction of concession, by throwing open to the Catholics all the
posts in the army and navy. An Irish Act of 1793 had enabled them to
hold in Ireland commissions in the army, and to attain any rank except
commander-in-chief, master-general of the ordnance, and general of the
staff; but if the regiments in which they served were sent to England,
they were disqualified by law from remaining in the service. The
original Bill of Grenville's Government was intended to remove this
anomaly, and assimilate the law in the two countries; but in the
course of the discussions it was agreed that the Catholics should be
freed from the exceptions to which they were subjected by the Irish
Act, that all posts in the army and navy should be thrown open to men
of all religious persuasions, subject only to the obligation of taking
an oath which was prescribed, and that Catholic soldiers should be
guaranteed by law the free exercise of their religion. The King had
been informed of this, and was understood to have given a distinct,
though a reluctant, assent; but a strong Protestant party, headed by
Perceval, fiercely opposed it. The King withdrew his assent from the
added clauses, and expressed his disapprobation of the whole measure.
At last, after much discussion, the Ministers agreed for the present
to withdraw their Bill, reserving to themselves by a Cabinet minute,
which was submitted to the King, the right to renew it, or to propose
any other measure on the subject which they desired. But the King was
determined to push his victory to the end. He demanded from his
Ministers a promise in writing that they would never again propose to
him any measure connected with Catholic emancipation, and as the
Ministers refused to give this unconstitutional pledge, the King
dismissed them from office, and called the Duke of Portland to the
head of affairs.

It was the second time that the King had broken up a Ministry on the
Catholic question, and his conduct was especially significant, as his
refusal to grant military promotion to Catholics was announced in the
midst of a great war, and at a time when thousands of Catholics were
fighting in his armies. It at once appeared that there were two
entirely distinct schools of Tories. Pitt, to the very close of his
life, had declared that his opinions on the Catholic question were
unchanged, though he would not force them against the inclination of
the King; and his views were adopted by Canning, Castlereagh, and
Wellesley. Perceval, on the other hand, emphatically declared that he
'could not conceive a time or any change of circumstances which could
render further concession to the Catholics consistent with the safety
of the State.'[14] With the exception of Eldon, scarcely any man of
real ability adopted this view until Peel entered Parliament as the
follower of Perceval. It is sufficiently evident from this fact how
little truth there is in the theory that attributes Peel's early
Toryism to a blind admiration for Pitt.

The party of the King triumphed. Parliament was dissolved on the 'No
Popery' cry, and on the first great party division that followed the
election the Ministers in the House of Commons had a majority of 195.
Canning and Castlereagh, though they had no sympathy with that cry,
availed themselves of the current that ran so strongly against the
Whigs. In the Ministry of the Duke of Portland they held the seals for
the Foreign and War Departments, but the leadership of the Commons and
the virtual leadership of the Ministry was given to Perceval, who,
though entirely without brilliant parts, exhibited unexpected talents,
both as a practical debater and as a manager of men, and who had the
advantage of representing fully the dominant party. Several
circumstances, however, other than a conviction of the danger of the
Catholic claims, contributed to the triumph of the anti-Catholic
party. The Whigs, already broken by their policy towards France in the
first stages of the Revolution and of the war, had become still more
unpopular through their opposition to the seizure of the Danish fleet
and to the Peninsular War. They were divided among themselves, for
there was little sympathy between the more aristocratic Whigs, who
were represented by Grenville and Lord Howick, and the more Radical
party of Sir F. Burdett and Whitbread. A strong personal as well as
political dislike already existed between Howick and Canning, and
prevented their hearty co-operation on the one great question on which
they were agreed. Above all, there was a general conviction among
statesmen that the King's mind was trembling on the verge of insanity,
and that a renewal of the Catholic complications of 1801 would produce
a catastrophe.

The question was debated in both the Lords and Commons in 1808. In the
former it was lost by a majority of 87, and in the latter by a
majority of 153. Grattan on this occasion introduced the Catholic
petition in a speech of consummate power; but both Castlereagh and
Canning opposed the reception of the petition, on the ground that the
time was unsuited for the agitation of the question; and the spirit of
the ruling part of the Ministry was sufficiently shown by the
reduction of the Maynooth grant from 13,000_l._ to 9,250_l._ When the
Portland Government was broken up in September 1809 by the quarrel,
duel, and resignation of Canning and Castlereagh, Perceval became the
head of the new Ministry, Lord Wellesley occupying the place of
Canning, and Lord Hawkesbury that of Castlereagh; and an intensely
anti-Catholic ministry continued to the death of Perceval. In 1809 the
Catholic question was not introduced into Parliament. In the spring of
1810 it was introduced into both Houses, but was defeated by
majorities of 86 and 104; but in October 1810 an event occurred which
profoundly changed the aspect of affairs. The King's insanity broke
out anew in a form which gave little hope of recovery, and the Prince
of Wales was appointed Regent. For a year the regency was subject to
restrictions similar to those which had been adopted in 1788, but on
February 1, 1812, these restrictions were to cease, and the Regent was
to enter into full fruition of the royal power.

The hopes of the Catholics were now raised to the highest point. With
the confirmed insanity of George III. the most serious of all the
obstacles to their claims was removed. During the year of the
restricted regency, while there was still some chance of the recovery
of the King, the Prince of Wales declined to remove the existing
Ministry from office, though even this decision was not taken without
some hesitation and some negotiations with the Whigs. The Catholics,
however, fully expected that the royal influence would now be exerted
in their favour, and that the Whig Ministry would speedily come. The
Prince of Wales had long been in close connection with the Whigs. As
early as 1797 he had expressed a desire to go over to Ireland as
Lord-Lieutenant, carrying with him a policy of conciliation to the
Catholics. In 1805, when Fox and Grenville had introduced the Catholic
question into the Imperial Parliament, the Prince, while stating that
considerations of obvious delicacy prevented him from taking an
immediate and open part in its favour, had given the Whig leaders the
fullest authority to assure the Catholics of Ireland that he would
never forsake their interests, the 'most distinct and authentic
pledge' of his wish to relieve them from the disabilities of which
they complained, and to exert himself in their favour as soon as he
was constitutionally able to do so. It is easy therefore to imagine
the consternation and the indignation with which, in 1812, the
Catholics found that the Prince Regent had changed his principles and
his policy; that, after a short and perhaps insincere negotiation with
the Whigs, he had resolved to maintain in power a Ministry which was
constructed for the main purpose of maintaining the Catholic
disabilities; and that his own opinions were rapidly verging towards
this policy.

The situation in Ireland was becoming very dangerous. For some years
after the Union a great apathy prevailed, and there is no reasonable
doubt that, if events in England had been favourable, Catholic
emancipation would have met with no serious opposition in Ireland, and
could have been carried with every reasonable limitation and
safeguard. The most competent English officials calculated that at
least sixty-four of the hundred Irish representatives would vote for
it, and that a decided preponderance of Irish Protestant opinion was
in its favour. On the other hand, the Catholic bishops and aristocracy
had fully accepted the policy of an endowment for the priests and a
veto on the appointment of bishops, and the most Conservative elements
in the Catholic body still exercised an ascendancy over their
co-religionists. The question of the veto had been mentioned in the
Commons, by Sir J. Hippisley, in 1805, and in 1808 Grattan and
Ponsonby formally announced, on the authority of the Catholic bishops,
their readiness to accept it. A letter from Bishop Milner was read to
the House, which very clearly stated their position:

'The Catholic prelates of Ireland,' he wrote, 'are willing to give a
direct negative power to his Majesty's Government with respect to the
nomination of their titular bishoprics, in such manner that when they
have among themselves resolved who is the fittest person for the
vacant see, they will transmit his name to his Majesty's Ministers;
and if the latter should object to that name, they will transmit
another and another, until a name is presented to which no objection
is made; and (which is never likely to be the case) should the Pope
refuse to give those essentially necessary spiritual powers, of which
he is the depository, to the person so presented by the Catholic
bishops and so approved by the Government, they will continue to
propose names till one occurs which is agreeable to both
parties--namely, the Crown and Apostolic See.'

The prelates also engaged to nominate no persons who had not
previously taken the oath of allegiance.[15] But a democratic party
had now arisen among the Catholics, which utterly repudiated the
restrictions of the veto, which sought emancipation by violent and
democratic agitation, and which was rapidly drawing the most dangerous
elements in the country into its channel. The bishops, pushed on by
the strong force that was behind them, speedily retraced their steps
and passed resolutions against the restrictions they had accepted, and
there were evident signs that the Catholic body was passing away from
the guidance of Grattan and of the gentry. This was not surprising in
a country where many elements of anarchy subsisted; and the democratic
party had already found in O'Connell a leader of consummate skill, and
of untiring industry, energy, and ambition. But the chief cause of the
great change that was passing over the Irish Catholics was to be
found in the disappointment of their hopes in 1801, in 1804, in 1806,
and 1812; in the desertion of their cause by Pitt; in the proved
impotence of the Whigs; in the failure of 'the securities' even to
mitigate the hostility of Perceval and his followers; in the profound
consternation and exasperation that were produced by the attitude of
the Regent. The formation of the General Committee of Catholic
Delegates was speedily followed by its suppression under the
Convention Act. But the influence of O'Connell was rapidly growing;
there were already ominous signs of a possible agitation for the
repeal of the Union, and the indignation of the Catholics was
significantly shown by the famous 'witchery resolutions,' which were
unanimously carried by the aggregate meeting of the Catholics in the
June of 1812, reflecting on the influence which Lady Hertford was
believed to exercise over the Prince. After calling for the 'total and
unqualified repeal of the penal laws which aggrieve the Catholics,'
they proceeded to use the following language: 'That from authentic
documents now before us we hear, with deep disappointment and anguish,
how cruelly the promised boon of Catholic freedom has been interrupted
by the fatal witchery of an unworthy secret influence.... To this
impure source we trace but too distinctly our baffled hopes and
protracted servitude.' Such language was not calculated to conciliate
the Prince, and he was only confirmed in his hostility to the
Catholics. As early as September 1813 the Duke of Richmond wrote to
Peel: 'I was delighted to find H.R.H. as steady a Protestant as the

The commencement, however, of what was virtually a new reign had given
a new activity to the question. It was brought forward in different
forms in the first months of 1812 by Lord Wellesley and Lord
Donoughmore in one House, and by Lord Morpeth and Grattan in the
other; and although it was still defeated, the diminished majorities,
the evident signs of an increased Catholic party in the country, and
the language of some of the most distinguished men in Parliament,
clearly indicated the progress of the measure. Canning especially now
strenuously urged that the time had come when the Catholic question
must be fully dealt with. The assassination of Perceval on May 11,
1812, again changed the situation and led to a long series of feeble
and abortive negotiations. An attempt was made to continue the
existing Ministry under the lead of Lord Liverpool, with the addition
of Canning and Lord Wellesley; but these statesmen declined the offer,
on the ground that the other Ministers refused to carry Catholic
emancipation, and Lord Wellesley on the additional ground of their
languor in prosecuting the Spanish war. The Regent then authorised
Lord Wellesley to construct a Ministry, with the assistance of
Canning, and an offer was made to Lords Grey and Grenville to join it,
promising an immediate consideration of the Catholic claims with a
view to a conciliatory settlement; while, on the other hand, attempts
were made to retain the services of the leading members of Perceval's
Ministry. But the Whig leaders refused to take part in a coalition
Ministry, in which they would probably be outvoted, and the former
Cabinet was reconstructed, under the leadership of Lord Liverpool, but
on the principle of leaving the Catholic question an open one.
Liverpool himself was opposed to concession, but his opposition was by
no means of the unqualified kind which had been shown by Perceval; and
a large proportion of his colleagues, including Castlereagh, who led
the House of Commons, were in favour of Catholic emancipation. If
Canning had consented to join the Ministry, Lord Wellesley would
probably have been Lord-Lieutenant in Ireland, and under these
circumstances the Catholic side could scarcely have failed to acquire
a decisive preponderance. If, on the other hand, Castlereagh had
followed the example of Canning, and refused to take part in a
Ministry which declined to settle the Catholic question, or if the
Whigs had consented to co-operate with Canning, the settlement of this
great question could scarcely have been deferred. Unfortunately, none
of these things happened. Castlereagh remained the leader of the
House. Canning refused to follow his leadership, and two years later
accepted the embassy to Lisbon. The Whig leaders stood aloof from all
Ministerial combinations. The Duke of Richmond, who was violently
anti-Catholic, continued to be Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland; the post of
Chief Secretary was given to Peel, and Ireland was destined to undergo
fifteen more years of demoralising and disorganising agitation before
the Catholic question was settled.

Canning, however, as an independent member, brought forward a
resolution pledging the House to an early consideration of the laws
affecting his Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects, with a view to their
final conciliatory adjustment, and the conditions of the question had
so profoundly changed that it was carried by a majority of 129; while
a similar motion by Lord Wellesley in the House of Lords was met by
the previous question, which was carried by a majority of only one.

Peel, though he had come into Parliament as a special follower of
Perceval, had not yet pledged himself decisively against the
Catholics. He had voted silently against Canning's motion in June, and
although he had spoken against a previous motion of Grattan, he had
done so mainly on the ground that the time was not opportune, and had
expressly guarded himself against giving any positive pledge. He was
now, however, obliged to take a more prominent part, and for the next
six years he was the chief support of the anti-Catholic party in
Parliament. His part was a very difficult one, for he had to encounter
Grattan, Plunket, Canning, and the Whig leaders, and he had scarcely
any real supporters. Saurin, the Attorney-General, it is true, was
strongly opposed to all concession. He was a lawyer of high character
and attainments, of Huguenot descent and strong Huguenot principles,
and he had borne a distinguished part in opposition to the Union; but
Saurin refused to go to London. Bushe, who was Solicitor-General,
leaned to the Catholic side; and, to the great indignation and
consternation of the Government, Wellesley Pole, who had preceded Peel
as Chief Secretary and who was the brother of Lord Wellesley, now
pronounced himself strongly in Parliament in favour of the Catholics.
This speech was entirely unexpected, for Pole had hitherto been
regarded as a staunch adherent of the Protestant party, and as late as
the last day of 1811 he had sent a memorandum on the Catholic question
to the Secretary of State in England, which was intended to be laid
before the Cabinet, and which maintained the impossibility of safely
satisfying the Catholic claims, and the expediency of the Prince
Regent's taking a decided part against them. A general election had
taken place in September, and it is evident from the letters of Lord
Liverpool and Peel that they at this time looked upon Canning and his
followers with even more hostility than the regular Opposition.

In the new Parliament the Catholic question at once assumed a great
prominence. A motion for the immediate consideration of the laws
affecting the Catholics was introduced by Grattan, supported by
Castlereagh, opposed by Peel, and ultimately carried by a majority of
40. A resolution of Grattan's for removing laws imposing civil and
military disabilities on the Catholics, with such regulations and
exceptions as might provide for the security of the Protestant
succession and of the Established Church, was next introduced. Peel
opposed it bitterly, but was beaten by a majority of 67.

'We were terribly beaten,' he wrote to his Under-Secretary, 'but we
are sad cowards, I am afraid; at least, we are shamefully used. Poor
Duigenan could not get a hearing, and the general impression seemed
against the Protestants. We will fight them out, however, to the last.
I am sure it is better than to give way.' 'Your defence of the
Protestant cause,' wrote Saurin, 'was not only by far the ablest and
best, but the only one which did not seem to strengthen the cause of
the adversary by some concession of principle. I really fear the
Protestant cause is lost in the Commons. There can be no rally now but
on the securities.'[16]

Grattan at once brought in a Bill in accordance with the terms of the
Resolution that had been carried; but the Protestant party now rallied
around a motion of Sir John Hippisley, for a committee to inquire into
the state and tenets of the Roman Catholics, and the laws affecting
them. Canning pointed out with great force that a committee of inquiry
was exactly what the Protestant party had for so many years
strenuously resisted; but, as Peel wrote to the Duke of Richmond,
there was no inconsistency in their conduct: 'When the question was
whether we should consider the claims of the Catholics and the laws
affecting them, or should resist their claims, we voted for resistance
without inquiry; the question now is, whether we shall consider or
concede, and we prefer inquiry to concession.'[17]

The motion for delay, however, was defeated by 187 to 235, and the
second reading of Grattan's Bill was carried by 245 to 203. But a
sudden change now occurred in the prospects of the cause. Canning and
Castlereagh, with the full assent of Grattan, introduced clauses for
the securities which had been before intimated, giving the Crown a
control over the nomination of the Catholic bishops. But the bishops
unanimously condemned the proposal, and the large majority of the
Catholic Board supported them. It became evident that the Bill before
Parliament would fail to satisfy the Catholics, and after a long
discussion the clause admitting Catholics to Parliament was rejected
by 251 to 247.

Peel had triumphed. The profound division which had broken out among
the supporters of Catholic emancipation threw back for many years a
cause which had been almost gained, though in 1817 an Act was passed
without opposition throwing open to the Catholics the military and
naval positions which Grenville had vainly attempted to open in 1807.
Few things could have been eventually more disastrous both to Ireland
and to the Empire than the defeat of the influence represented by
Grattan and by the Catholic gentry, and the growing ascendancy of
O'Connell and the democratic and sacerdotal party in Irish popular
politics. Grattan had long predicted that, if concession was not
speedily and wisely made, population in Ireland would drift away from
the guiding and moderating influence of property; that seditious and
anarchical men would gain an ascendancy which would make the whole
problem of Irish Government incalculably difficult; that a priesthood
unconnected with the English Government would lead to a 'Catholic
laity discorporated from the people of England.' In the Irish
Parliament the strong bias of Conservatism in his policy had been
repeatedly displayed, and it was equally apparent in the Imperial
Parliament. In 1807 he had supported the Insurrection Act, in
opposition to many of his friends, on the ground that there was a real
and dangerous French party in Ireland, which the common law was
insufficient to suppress. In 1814 he expressed his full approval of
the proclamation suppressing the Catholic Board. He steadily and
earnestly maintained that, although it was vitally necessary that
Catholic emancipation should be speedily carried, it should be
accompanied by measures for securing, as far as possible, the loyalty
of the higher Catholic clergy, and uniting them in interest and
sentiment with the British Government. He looked with bitter hostility
on the rise and policy of O'Connell. He accused him of 'setting afloat
the bad passions of the people,' making grievances instruments of
power without any honest wish to redress them, treating politics as a
trade to serve a desperate and interested purpose.

But the influence of Grattan was now manifestly declining, and Peel
watched the decline with a short-sighted and not very generous
pleasure. In Parliament, though numbers were against the Catholics,
the overwhelming preponderance of ability was still in favour of the
principle of emancipation, and it was in leading the anti-Catholic
party that Peel chiefly acquired his almost unrivalled parliamentary
skill. He had, indeed, all the qualities of a great debater: courage,
fluency, self-possession, complete command of every subject he
treated, unfailing lucidity both in statement and reasoning; admirable
skill in marshalling and disentangling great masses of facts, in
meeting, evading, or retorting arguments, and detecting the weak
points of the case of an opponent, in veiling, by plausible language,
extreme or unpalatable views, in extricating himself by subtle
distinctions and qualifications from embarrassing situations. He can
scarcely, it is true, be called a great orator. His style was formal,
cumbrous, extremely verbose, without sparkle and without fire. He had
little or no power of moving the passions, nothing of the flexibility
that can adapt itself to very different audiences, nothing of the
philosophic insight that can impart a perennial interest to transient
discussions. But few men have ever understood the House of Commons
like him, or have possessed in so high a degree the qualities that are
most fitted to command and influence it. The great mass of
anti-Catholic sentiment in the country rallied around him as its most
powerful champion, and in 1817 he attained one of the chief objects of
his ambition in being elected member for Oxford University. It is well
known that his older and more brilliant rival had long aspired to this
honour. It was mainly through the Catholic question that Canning
missed and Peel won the prize.

The nickname 'Orange Peel,' which was given to him in Ireland, was
not wholly deserved. His letters abundantly show that he had no
sympathy with the ribbons, the anniversaries, the party tunes, the
insulting processions and insulting language of the Orangemen; and,
although he believed that in Ireland anti-Catholicism and loyalty were
very closely connected, he viewed with much dislike the growth of any
political confederacies unconnected with the Government. Declamation
and boastfulness and needless provocation were, indeed, wholly alien
to his nature; and even when defending extreme causes he rarely or
never used the language of a fanatic. He resisted Catholic concession
mainly on the ground that the admission of the Catholics to political
power would prove incompatible with the existence of the Established
Church in Ireland, with the security of property in a country where
property was mainly in Protestant hands, and ultimately with the
connection between the two countries. His arguments were not based on
religion, but on political expediency; but it was an expediency which
he believed to be permanent.

'I see,' he wrote to the Duke of Richmond, 'one of the papers reports
me as having said that I was not an advocate for perpetual exclusion.
It might be inferred that I objected only to the time of discussing
the question. That is not the case.... There are certain anomalies in
the system which I would wish to remove, but the main principles of it
I would retain untouched.... At no time, and under no circumstances,
so long as the Catholic admits the supremacy in spirituals of a
foreign earthly potentate, and will not tell us what supremacy in
spirituals means--so long as he will not give us voluntarily the
security which every despotic Sovereign in Europe has by the
concession of the Pope himself--will I consent to admit them.'[18]

The letters before us show clearly that his political sympathy was
with Saurin, with Duigenan, with Lord Eldon, and even with Lord
Norbury. O'Connell early perceived in Peel his most dangerous
opponent, and a strong personal enmity, which was as much due to
profound differences of character as to differences of policy, grew up
between them. A scurrilous attack of O'Connell on Peel in 1815 was
followed by a challenge, and a duel was prevented only by the arrest
of O'Connell. The antipathy between the two men was never mitigated.
O'Connell said of Peel that 'his smile was like the silver plate on a
coffin.' Peel, in his confidential letters, expressed the utmost
dislike and contempt for the character of O'Connell, and when he was
at length compelled by the Clare election to concede Catholic
emancipation, his feeling towards him was significantly and
characteristically shown. He enumerated in a brilliant passage the men
to whom the triumph of Catholic emancipation was really due. He spoke
of Fox and Grattan, of Plunket and of Canning, but he made no mention
of O'Connell.

The administrative side of Peel's Chief Secretaryship is much more
creditable to him than the political side. The vivid picture which his
letters present of the manner in which Ireland was governed more than
fifteen years after the Union will probably strike the reader with
some surprise, when he remembers that the Union had extinguished about
seventy small boroughs, and had at the same time greatly diminished
the importance of the Irish representatives, and therefore the
necessities for corruption. Peel noticed that while 'the pension list
of Great Britain was limited to 90,000_l._ per annum, the pension list
of Ireland may amount to 80,000_l._ a year; and he found almost all
Irish patronage still employed for political purposes, and almost
every office honeycombed with abuses and peculations. A few extracts
will give the reader some notion of the nature and extent of the evil,
and of the efforts of Peel to reduce it:--

'How is it possible,' he wrote, 'to propose that a shilling should be
granted to a general officer on the staff in Ireland when sixpence is
granted in England? This is called a modification in official phrase,
but it ought to be called doubling the allowance. Set your face
steadily against all increase of salary, all extra allowances, all
plausible claims for additional emolument. Economy must be the order
of the day--rigid economy.'[19] 'When English members hear that the
sheriff appoints the grand jury, that the grand jury tax the county,
that the sheriff has a considerable influence at elections, and that
the sheriff is appointed openly on the recommendation of the member
supporting the Government, they are startled not a little.... I know
that this is a most convenient patronage to the Government, but I know
also that I cannot hint in the House of Commons at such a source of
patronage, and I confess I have great doubts on the legitimacy of
it.... After Lord Redesdale's declaration ... that the mode of
appointing sheriffs "poisons the sources of justice," and witnessing
the general feeling among the English against making the nomination of
a most important officer in the execution of justice dependent on the
will of the county member, I thought it highly expedient to give a
positive assurance that the Government would revert to the ancient
and legal practice of appointing sheriffs in Ireland.... With a pure
Bench--and time will, I hope, purify it--the change would be an
essential change for the better.'[20] 'Foster says that the abuses
discovered in the office [of Clerk of the Pleas] are enormous, that
the amount of fees exacted from suitors is not less than 30,000_l._
per annum, of which the principal clerk did not receive more than
one-third. A Mr. Pollock, the first deputy, is in receipt of 8,000_l._
or 9,000_l._ a year as his own share of the profits; other deputies
and persons unnecessarily employed have profits amounting to 1,200_l._
or 1,400_l._ a year each. Foster thinks that every possible difficulty
will be thrown in the way of an early decision in the Irish Courts....
In the meantime, the Chief Baron is receiving the enormous profits
arising from these enormous abuses.'[21]

The practice of buying and selling public offices, and the practice of
dividing the salaries of a single office between a principal and
deputies, still continued; but Peel did his utmost to eradicate them.
If it were permitted in one case, he said, 'every officer in every
department who purchased on corrupt terms and is now living may claim
a right to sell the office so purchased.'

'With respect to a payment out of the salary to R., I can have no
scruple in giving you my opinion that it would not be right. I have
never been, and cannot conscientiously be, a party to an arrangement
of that kind, because I think this is quite clear, that if the salary
of the office is disproportionate to the labour of it, and can bear to
be taxed to the amount of 200_l._, the public should benefit, and the
emoluments of the office be reduced.'[22]

One of Peel's first tasks was to conduct a general election, and he
had ample opportunities of judging how these things were managed in
Ireland. A law known as Curwen's Act had been recently passed,
condemning to a heavy fine in the event of failure, and to the loss of
his seat in the event of success, any person giving, or promising to
give, or consenting to give either money or office for a seat in
Parliament. The law was not a little embarrassing to Peel, as his own
seat of Cashel had been purchased, and he thought it safer to transfer
himself to the English seat of Chippenham, where his return was
managed by his father without any intervention on his own part. At the
same time, the elections in Ireland went on much as if Curwen's Act
had never passed.

'I am placed in a delicate situation enough here,' he wrote to his
friend Croker: 'bound to secure the Government interests, if possible,
from dilapidation, but still more bound to faint with horror at the
mention of money transactions, to threaten the unfortunate culprits
with impeachment if they hint at an impure return, and yet to prevent
those strongholds, Cashel, Mallow, and Tralee, from surrendering to
the enemies who besiege them.'

Croker himself furnished an admirable illustration of the manner in
which these principles were carried out. 'I find the borough' [Down],
he writes, 'extremely well disposed to me. Of the respectable and
steady people I have a decided majority, not less than twenty; but
there are sixty-two persons who are extremely doubtful.... I have the
greatest repugnance to bribery, ... but my agent informs me that many
voters will require money.... The return absolutely depends upon
pounds sterling. The best computation which my agents can make is
that a sum of 2,000_l._ will be necessary. The natural expenses will
be 500_l._ These, I think, I am bound to make good. But with regard to
the money for votes, that I expect from Government.'

Peel replied that he could not answer for the Government in England,
and that the Irish Government possessed no funds for this purpose; he
would himself have been ready to send Croker '1,000_l._ as a private
concern between ourselves with no reference whatever to Government';
but he had it not. 'If you think proper,' he added, 'to take the
chance whether it [the Government] will assist you, you can promise.'
For about six years Peel was constantly receiving from Croker requests
for places, in order to discharge 'debts of gratitude' incurred at
this election; and in 1816 we find the Government very nearly beaten
in the House of Commons in an attempt to raise Croker's own salary.

'Could you tell me,' writes Lord Palmerston to Peel, 'whether you
think there is any probability of a contest for the county of Sligo at
the next election? I could at the present moment make from 280 to 290
voters by giving leases to tenants who are now holding at will. If
there is any chance of their being of use next year, I will do so
forthwith, and register them in time. If not, I should perhaps
postpone giving twenty-one years' leases till matters look a little
more propitious to the payment of rents.'

'Lord Lorton wrote yesterday to his agent to make all the freeholders
he can on his small Queen's County property. He says he is sorry he
can't make more than twenty, but that those shall go against Pole.'

A few illustrations of the minor details of patronage may be added.
One gentleman called upon Peel about an election in Clare, but 'said
that he would make no promise of his interest unless he received a
pledge from me that his two brothers should be provided for--one in
the Church, and the other advanced in the profession of the law.'

Lord C. 'wanted, long since, to make terms with me for his support in
Cork, ... and wished to be one of a committee for superintending the
patronage of the county.'

'When G. wants a baronetcy, he is very rich; and when he wants a
place, he is very poor. I think we may fairly turn the tables on him,
and when he asks to be a baronet, make his poverty the objection, and
his wealth when he asks for an office.'

'Pole is constantly pressing K., of the Navigation Board, for
promotion.... I am told he entirely neglects his duty. Pole readily
admits his hopeless stupidity and unfitness for office.'

'I do not think your son,' Peel wrote to his Under-Secretary, 'can
make a more inefficient member of the Board of Stamps than Mr. T. has
done. I am perfectly ready, therefore, to acquiesce in the exchange.'
'I make a great sacrifice,' he wrote to Lord Whitworth, 'when I say
that I doubt whether O.'s habits would qualify him for such practical
duties as the Collector of Belfast at least ought to perform. Belfast
is so flourishing a town, and contributes so much to the revenue, that
I fear the Collectorship of it is too prominent a situation to place
in it a young man ... we must admit to be a ruined man by gambling.
Considering how careless he has been of his own money, perhaps some
office not connected with the collection of the public money ... would
be more suited to him.... What do you think of the following
arrangement? Make J. collector for this very bad and very good reason,
that he is the most inefficient Commissioner, and therefore the public
service will suffer least from his appointment. Make Colonel H. a
Commissioner. He will be about as inefficient as J. Make R.M. junior,
the most inefficient of the three, Surveyor of Lands, _vice_ H., which
(though he will lose 200_l._ a year) will greatly oblige his father,
the member; and, lastly, fulfil your good intentions towards O. by
making him a Commissioner of Accounts, _vice_ M.'

Many other characteristic pictures pass before us. There were officers
of the revenue who were recommended to 'the marked favour' of the
Government because they had shown what Peel somewhat rashly called
'the common honesty' of refusing bribes. There was an official who
scandalously connived at an abuse of justice by which innocent women
were condemned to transportation, though taking measures that the
Government should indirectly hear of the transaction. There were
shameful abuses in the sale of the office of gaoler, shameful frauds
in the collection of taxes, in the Customs, in the barrack charges.

'My most decided opinion,' Peel wrote about one of these culprits, 'is
in favour of his dismissal. I am quite tired of, and disgusted with,
the shameful corruptions which every Irish inquiry brings to

Much trouble was given by newspapers which were subsidised by the
Government, and at the same time conducted in a manner which no honest
Government could approve of.[24] Another evil is disclosed in the
following very creditable letter written by Peel to one of his

'I found in Ireland that every official man, not content with the
favour of Government to himself, thought he had a right to quarter his
family on the patronage of Government. I took the course that you have
done in order to enable me to resist with effect such extravagant
pretensions. I determined never to gratify any private wish of my own
by the smallest Irish appointment. There is nothing half so disgusting
as the personal monopoly of honours and offices by those to whom the
distribution of them is entrusted.'[25]

In the Irish Pension List there had been enormous abuses, but Peel
took credit for having effectually stopped them. 'No member of
Parliament,' he wrote, 'has benefited by it. No vote has been
influenced by it.... I do not think there are any three years in the
whole period of the Irish history during which so honest a use has
been made of it.'[26]

As might have been expected, blunders arising from extreme
inefficiency were very numerous. In one case, by negligent drafting,
the Insurrection Bill was made to extend to three instead of two
years, while a simple mistake in one of the Revenue Bills was believed
to have cost the Revenue not less than 40,000_l._[27]

In all this dreary field the great administrative ability of Peel and
the essential integrity of his character produced much real
improvement, though it is very possible to exaggerate his merits. No
one who has read the Hardwicke and Colchester papers will question
that some of his predecessors, and especially the Chancellor, Lord
Redesdale, had laboured with at least equal earnestness to purify
Irish administration; and the energy with which Lord Redesdale,
though out of office, still recurred to the subject, was extremely
displeasing to Peel.[28] His own patronage, as we have already seen,
was by no means ideal, and he was very anxious to stifle parliamentary

'I believe,' he wrote, 'an honest, despotic government would be by far
the fittest government for Ireland'; but as this could not be attained
he wished no essential alteration. 'I think the present system on
which the government of Ireland is conducted is the best, but I am
terribly afraid that Englishmen, who know nothing of Ireland, would
not concur with me if they inquired into detail. It is very difficult
to manage even the most limited inquiry. How could we prevent the
introduction of tithes, magistracy, the Catholic question itself?'[29]

Whatever might be the case in the future, he believed that in the
present it was impossible for the Irish Government to receive adequate
support unless it made up its mind to purchase it. 'It would be good
policy,' he says in one of his letters, 'to direct the channel of
patronage as plentifully as we can towards those who are adhering to
us on these pressing questions of army establishments and property
tax.' He refused in very lofty tones applications for peerages as
rewards for political support; but the merit of this refusal belongs
mainly to Lord Liverpool, who, at the beginning of the Chief
Secretaryship, took on this subject a very firm and honourable line,
both in England and Ireland, and maintained it at the sacrifice of
many votes. For Irish honours unaccompanied by endowments there appear
to have been few applicants. Peel disliked the bestowal of
ecclesiastical dignities as rewards for political services; but if he
did not practise it quite as much as his predecessors, this appears to
have been much more due to nature than to policy.

'There is nothing so extraordinary,' he wrote, 'in natural history as
the longevity of all bishops, priests, and deacons in Ireland. During
the last five years there has been literally no Church preferment to
dispose of, to the infinite disappointment of many expectants.'

In the higher legal appointments, however, while insisting that
'attachment to the Government on principle' was very material, Peel
cordially agreed with Saurin that it was vitally necessary to select
men 'for character, and not for politics or connection'; and he added,
that those were not likely to be the least fit for high office who
were too proud to solicit it. 'It is a species of pride which
occasions very little practical inconvenience in Ireland.'

His letters show clearly the terrible evils of Irish life. He speaks
of 'the enormous and overgrown population,' with no employment except
agriculture; of a poverty so extreme that in many districts widespread
starvation was averted only by prompt Government intervention; of
'that infernal curse, the forty shilling freeholds'; of the evil
system of employing the military in distraining for rent and in the
collection of tithes; of juries, through fear or sympathy, acquitting
prisoners in the face of the clearest evidence; of the gross perjury
in the law courts; of the almost universal disaffection of the lower
orders, fostered by a seditious press; of the growing spirit of
animosity in the north of Ireland between the lower orders of
Protestants and Catholics, which was breaking out in constant riots,
and had already cost many lives. This last evil, it might be truly
said, was very largely due to the policy of his own party, who had
protracted through so many years the Catholic question, which ought
to have been settled at the Union. There was extreme and chronic
ignorance, poverty, and anarchy; the payment of tithes was constantly
resisted; and a failure of the potato crop, and a sudden and terrible
fall in the price of agricultural products after the peace, added
enormously to the difficulties of the situation. It is remarkable,
indeed, that there appears to have been in 1816 and 1817 less
disturbance of the public peace in Ireland than in England; Peel found
it even possible to reduce the military establishments, and in Dublin
extreme distress was borne with remarkable patience; but in many parts
of the country crimes of combination were frequent, and almost
incredibly savage. Peel mentions one case of a family of eight persons
who were deliberately burnt in their house by a party of armed men,
because the owner of the house had prosecuted to conviction three men,
on a capital charge, at the Louth assizes. In another case a farmer,
who had shot two men who attacked his house, was himself shot dead on
a Sunday morning, after Mass, at the chapel door, in the presence of
hundreds of men, not one of whom attempted to arrest the culprit.

These things filled Peel with a not unnatural horror, and his letters
showed clearly his intense dislike both of the Irish character and of
the Irish religion.[30] By far the most valuable contribution he made
to the improvement of Ireland during his Chief Secretaryship was the
formation, in 1814, of an efficient police force, which has ever since
been popularly associated with his name, and which was the nucleus
from which the present admirable constabulary force was developed in
1822 and in 1835. 'We ought to be crucified,' he wrote, 'if we make
the measure a job, and select our constables from the servants of our
parliamentary friends.' He attempted also, though without much
success, to institute a system of popular education on a perfectly
unsectarian basis, and with Catholics among the commissioners.[31] He
appears to have met with little encouragement, and at least one
Catholic bishop lost no time in cursing 'these nefarious deistical
schools'; but some schools were established, and Peel has the merit of
being one of the earliest advocates of a general system of unsectarian
national education for Ireland, which many years after was
accomplished. His measures for the relief of distress appear to have
been skilful and judicious, supporting and stimulating, but not
superseding private benevolence.[32] For the rest, he relied chiefly
on Insurrection Acts strengthening the Executive and giving a greater
efficiency to the administration of justice, and on strong protective
legislation encouraging the corn and the manufactures of Ireland.

'I have always,' he wrote, 'been, and always shall be, as strong an
advocate for giving that preference to the productions of Ireland,
natural or artificial, which will best promote the industry of the
people, as I am for instructing the lower orders.'[33]

To the tithe system he would do nothing, and this is one of the fatal
blots on his reputation as a statesman. There was no single source of
crime, agitation, and disaffection in Ireland which was so prolific as
this, and there was no subject on which the wisest statesmen had been
more agreed than on the supreme importance of meeting this evil by a
judicious system of commutation. Pitt had clearly expressed his
opinion of the necessity of such a commutation to the Duke of Rutland
as early as 1786, and it was one of the measures which he intended to
have followed the Union. Grattan had brought schemes of commutation in
three successive years before the Irish Parliament. Lord Loughborough,
who was the chief cause of the failure of Catholic emancipation after
the Union, had himself drawn up a Tithe Commutation Bill. Lord
Redesdale, who represented the extreme Toryism of the ministry of
Addington, strongly urged the absolute necessity of speedy legislation
on the subject. The Duke of Bedford, in 1807, dwelt on the importance
of commuting tithes into a land-tax, and ultimately into land. Parnell
and Grattan had brought the subject before the Imperial Parliament in
1810, and it was again and again insisted on by the Whig writers, and
nowhere more strongly than in Sydney Smith's admirable letters to
Peter Plymley and in some of the pages of the 'Edinburgh Review.' But
nothing was done till the evil had become intolerable, and had brought
the country to a state of anarchy and demoralisation that can scarcely
be exaggerated. The connection of Peel with the question of Irish
tithes is a very remarkable one. The Tithe Commutation Act, which was
carried by a Whig Government in 1838, is one of the few instances of
perfectly successful legislation in Irish history, and it is well
known that the chief credit of this measure does not belong to the
Ministers who carried it. It was the very measure which Sir Robert
Peel had introduced in 1835, which the Whig party when in opposition
defeated by connecting it with the Appropriation clause, and which the
Whig party when in power were compelled to carry without that clause.
But if the chief credit of the final settlement of this momentous
question justly belongs to Peel, it must not be forgotten that in the
eleven years during which, as Chief Secretary or as Home Secretary, he
was directly responsible for the government of Ireland, he had allowed
this monster curse to grow and strengthen without making any serious
effort to mitigate it.

Peel was Chief Secretary during the concluding part of the viceroyalty
of the Duke of Richmond, during the whole of that of Lord Whitworth,
and during part of that of Lord Talbot. He had grown very tired of his
position, but agreed to postpone his departure till after a general
election, and he at last left Ireland, as he says, with 'undiminished
and unqualified satisfaction,' in August 1818. He remained out of
office until January 1822; but the interval was not spent in idleness,
and in 1819 he took the leading part in the great Act for resuming
cash payments, which, as it has been truly said, attaches to his name
'the same meed of praise which he had quoted as inscribed on the tomb
of Queen Elizabeth: "Moneta in justum valorem redacta."' It is one of
his greatest legislative achievements; it is also the first of that
series of recantations which forms one of the most distinctive
features of his career, for it was based upon the policy which Horner
had advocated in 1811, and against which Peel had then voted. He still
took, on the Catholic question, the leading part in opposition to
emancipation, declaring his determination to offer 'a most sincere and
uncompromising,' though he now feared unavailing, resistance to
Catholic concession. The last time the question was brought forward,
by Grattan, was in 1819, and he was defeated by a majority of only
two. In 1821, after the death of Grattan, and in a new Parliament,
Plunket carried a Bill for Catholic emancipation successfully through
all its stages in the House of Commons, though it was afterwards
rejected in the Lords. In the ensuing session a similar fate befel a
Bill of Canning's to relieve Catholic peers of their disabilities.
Some considerable change, however, was introduced into the spirit of
the Irish Government by the appointment of Lord Wellesley, who was in
favour of the Catholics, to the viceroyalty. One of its most important
results was the removal of Saurin from the office of Attorney-General
and the appointment of Plunket in his place. Lord Wellesley described
this measure to Lady Blessington as the removal of 'an old Orangeman'
who, though 'Attorney-General by title, had really been
Lord-Lieutenant for fifteen years'; but it is evident from the letters
of Peel that his warm sympathies, both personal and political, were
with Saurin.

The accession of George IV. to the throne in the beginning of 1820
brought to a crisis the quarrel between the new King and his wife, and
led to the resignation of Canning in the last days of the year, and
Lord Liverpool then tried to induce Peel to enter the Cabinet in the
vacant post of President of the Board of Control. Peel, however,
refused the office, declaring that he differed from some of the
proceedings of the Ministry about the Queen. In the summer of 1821 he
again declined a similar offer, chiefly, as it appears, on the ground
of uncertain health and of a dislike to official life which his recent
marriage had produced. But when Lord Sidmouth resigned the Home
Office, Peel proved less inflexible, and on January 17, 1822, he
accepted the seals, which he held till 1827. In August Castlereagh,
or, as he now was, Lord Londonderry, committed suicide. Lord
Liverpool saw the necessity of recalling Canning to the Cabinet as
Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Canning would accept the post only as
leader of the House of Commons. The King hated Canning, and would
gladly have excluded him altogether from the Ministry, and Eldon and
the Duke of Newcastle greatly desired that the leadership of the House
of Commons should be given to Peel. Canning, however, who had been
sixteen years longer in Parliament than Peel, had both the right and
the power to insist upon the leadership, and Peel acquiesced in his
claim with honourable frankness. Except on the Catholic question they
appear to have cordially agreed, and something of the success of
Canning's brilliant foreign policy is due to the loyalty with which he
was supported by Peel in the Cabinet and at Court.

Space will not permit us to relate at length the history of Peel's
conduct as home Minister. The Catholic question was rapidly advancing
to a crisis, and the system of a divided Ministry in which it was an
open question, and in which the leading Ministers took opposite sides,
was becoming plainly impossible. Ireland was again in a state of
anarchy bordering on civil war, and the foundation, in 1823, of the
Catholic Association by O'Connell and Sheil gave a new impulse to the
agitation. The Duke of Wellington, who knew the country well and was
not liable to panic, predicted that the new association if it
continued would lead to civil war, and declared that the organisation
of the disaffected in Ireland was much more perfect than in 1798.[34]
At the same time the long-protracted and increasing violence of the
conflict had aroused fierce Orange passions both in the North and in
Dublin, while in England the King was embarrassing even his
'anti-Catholic' Ministers by the vehemence of his hostility to
concession. He described Peel as 'the King's Protestant Minister' and
Lord Wellesley as an 'enemy in the camp.' He assured Peel that,
whether the Cabinet wished it or not, he would never consent to give
letters of precedence to a Roman Catholic barrister, and he wrote Peel
a formal letter in which he said, 'the sentiments of the King upon
Catholic emancipation are those of his revered and excellent father;
from those sentiments the King never can and never will deviate.'[35]

Peel, while maintaining his unflinching hostility to important
concessions, tried to moderate all parties. He implored the King to
make no public declaration. He wrote to Ireland strongly discouraging
the violence of the Orangemen and urging that 'in this age of liberal
doctrine, when prescription is no longer even a presumption in favour
of what is established, it will be a work of desperate difficulty to
contend against "emancipation," as they call it, unless we can fight
with the advantage on our side of great discretion, forbearance, and
moderation on the part of the Irish Protestants.' He recurred to his
old idea of establishing a system of unsectarian national education,
and he readily abandoned the corrupt and proselytising charter
schools. He supported a measure of Lord Nugent, which Lord Eldon
succeeded in defeating in the Lords, for extending to the English
Catholics such privileges as were already possessed by Catholics in
Ireland, and he fully approved of a letter written on behalf of the
Cabinet to the Lord-Lieutenant urging 'that a disposition should be
manifested to admit the Roman Catholics of Ireland to a fair
proportion of the emoluments and honours to which they are eligible by
law,' but without issuing patents of precedence.[36]

On matters unconnected with the Catholic question his administration
was skilful and, on the whole, enlightened; and in 1823 he introduced
the first of a series of important measures diminishing the enormous
number of capital offences that disgraced the English criminal code,
and, at the same time, doing much to simplify and consolidate that
code. In this, as in most respects, there was little original in his
legislation. He followed, at some distance, in the steps of Romilly
and Mackintosh, and he left very much to be done, which was chiefly
accomplished during the Whig ascendancy that followed the Reform Bill
of 1832. It appears, from some remarkable letters in this volume,
that, before Peel took up the question of criminal reform, George IV.
was exceedingly sensible of the enormity of executing very young men
for secondary offences, and that he was continually pressing on his
Ministers a more merciful administration of the law. He sometimes
found Peel by no means ready to yield. In one case Peel invoked the
aid of the Cabinet to overrule the wish of the King, who desired to
save two culprits from the gallows; and, in another case, he
threatened to resign his office if the King persisted in commuting the
sentence of a youth who had been found guilty of uttering forged
notes.[37] But Peel had at least the merit of recognising an
intolerable abuse, and his legislation on the subject was skilfully
framed and still more skilfully introduced and carried. In his
patronage in this, as in later periods of his life, he cared much more
than most English Ministers for the interests of science, literature,
and art. He was by no means indifferent to the opportunities his
position gave him of advancing his own family and friends; but he
never, in his English patronage, forgot the character of those whom he
recommended for promotion, and he brought forward or assisted many men
of ability and learning with whom he had no connection and no
political sympathy. The letters in this volume between Peel and his
very intimate Oxford friend Dr. Lloyd are especially interesting and
characteristic. They are in general very honourable to Peel; but Mr.
Parker is much too indulgent when he describes the intensely worldly
letters in which Dr. Lloyd urged his own merits and his claims to the
bishopric of Oxford as merely 'frank, and free from affectation of the
traditional _nolo episcopari_.' Both Peel and Lord Liverpool appear to
have had a much stronger sense than most of their predecessors of the
responsibilities attaching to Church patronage and of the duty of
administering it in the public interest, and in this respect they were
broadly distinguished from Lord Eldon.

'It is really a cruel thing,' Lord Liverpool wrote to Peel, 'that the
patronage of the Crown as to Church matters should be divided between
the Minister and the Chancellor, and that all the public claims should
fall upon the former. The Chancellor has nine livings to the
Minister's one. With respect to these he does occasionally attend to
local claims, but he has besides four cathedrals, and to no one of
these cathedrals has any man of distinguished learning or merit been

In the beginning of 1825 the Irish Government, having without
consulting Peel undertaken a foolish prosecution of O'Connell for a
not very dangerous speech, received a heavy rebuff, for the Grand
Jury threw out the Bill, and the prosecution of an Orange leader was
equally unsuccessful. A Bill was about the same time brought in and
carried, suppressing the new association; but it could not suppress
the spirit which it had aroused. O'Connell, however, was thoroughly
alarmed at the state of the country, and as far as possible from
desiring a rebellion, and he was at this time in a very conciliatory
mood. He was perfectly ready to accept an endowment for the
priesthood, which would attach them to the Government, and also a
considerable raising of the Irish franchise. This was the last
occasion on which his party and the Catholic gentry very cordially
concurred, and it was the last occasion on which the Catholic question
could have been settled on a basis that would have given real strength
to the Empire. A Relief Bill passed through all its stages in the
Commons by considerable majorities, and it was followed by a Bill for
raising the qualifications of Irish electors, and by a resolution for
endowing the priesthood. O'Connell fully believed that Catholic
emancipation would definitely pass in this session,[38] and he
appeared to have excellent reasons for his belief. In Ireland it
generally prevailed, and it exercised an immediate pacifying
influence. Lord Fingall and other Catholic noblemen, in presenting an
address at this time to the King, were able to say 'the whole of
Ireland reposes in profound tranquillity, and the law, without the aid
of any extraordinary power, everywhere receives voluntary obedience.'
It was afterwards stated by Lord George Bentinck that Peel had changed
his opinions about Catholic emancipation in 1825, and had communicated
this change to Lord Liverpool. The letters before us, however,
conclusively prove that if Peel was shaken, it was not about the
merits of emancipation, but about the practicability of resisting it.
Having been four times defeated in the Commons on the Catholic
question, he tendered his resignation, and Lord Liverpool at once
declared that without his assistance he could not continue the
struggle. Peel was the only Minister in the House of Commons opposed
to the Catholic cause, differing on the question from all his
colleagues in the House. If he had resigned, and if Lord Liverpool had
followed his example, there is good reason to believe that a
Government might have been formed which would have carried the measure
safely and speedily with the securities that had been accepted. Most
unfortunately for the Empire, the 'Protestant' party persuaded Peel to
withdraw his resignation in order to avert this surrender. In the
House of Lords the Duke of York, who was the heir-presumptive to the
throne, stood up and declared his unalterable opposition to the
Catholic claims, 'whatever might be his situation in life, so help him
God,' and the Lords rejected the Bill by a majority of 48.

The conscientious views of George III. obtained some measure of
respect even from those who believed them to be most unfounded; but no
halo of sanctity dignified the scruples of George IV. or of the Duke
of York. The Irish Catholics, exasperated at the present
disappointment of their hopes, and at the prospect of another hostile
King, flung themselves into a furious agitation, and in a few months
all the progress which had been made towards pacifying the country was
undone, while in England Peel had to meet a terrible commercial
crisis. Seventy county banks stopped in less than a week. In dealing
with questions of commerce and currency Peel was always in his
element, and his measures appear to have been wise and skilful. A
general election took place, and he was again returned by the
University of Oxford as the uncompromising opponent of Catholic
emancipation. In England the anti-Catholic party gained some seats,
and the increasing violence in Ireland had produced some reaction. In
Ireland it was soon apparent that what Grattan had feared had come to
pass, and that the tie which had hitherto attached the people to their
landlords was completely broken. The priests everywhere appeared at
the head of their people, and it was at once seen that a new and
terrible power was dominating Irish politics. In Waterford, where the
Beresfords had long been omnipotent, they were totally defeated, and
Leslie Foster sent Peel a vivid description of his own defeat in the
Louth election. At the outset of the contest, upwards of five-sixths
of the votes were promised to him; but the whole priesthood turned
themselves into electioneering agents against him. In every chapel
there were political sermons; the priests menaced all who voted for
him with eternal damnation; they were present at every polling-booth
to overawe their parishioners; and their efforts were seconded by
savage mobs who waylaid and beat all opponents, and forced multitudes
of Protestants, by threats of assassination or of the burning of their
houses, to vote against their promises and their convictions. 'In the
county town the studied violence and intimidation were such that it
was only by locking up my voters in enclosed yards that their lives
were preserved.' By these means the election was won. What, asked
Foster, will be the end of this? 'The landlords are exasperated to the
utmost, the priests swaggering in their triumph, the tenantry sullen
and insolent. Men who, a month ago, were all civility and submission
now hardly suppress their curses when a gentleman passes by. The text
of every village orator is, "Boys, you have put down three lords;
stick to your priests, and you will carry all before you."'

The letters of Goulburn, the Chief Secretary, show that the picture
was not overcharged.

'Never,' he wrote, 'were Roman Catholic and Protestant so decidedly
opposed. Never did the former act with so general a concert, or place
themselves so completely under the command of the priesthood.' 'The
priests exercise on all matters a dominion perfectly uncontrolled and
uncontrollable. In many parts of the country their sermons are purely
political, and the altars in the several chapels are the rostra from
which they declaim on the subject of Roman Catholic grievances, exhort
to the collection of rent, or denounce their Protestant neighbours in
a mode perfectly intelligible and effective, but not within the grasp
of the law. In several towns no Roman Catholic will now deal with a
Protestant shop-keeper, in consequence of the priest's interdiction,
and this species of interference, stirring up enmity on one hand and
feelings of resentment on the other, is mainly conducive to outrage
and disorder.... The first vacancy on the Roman Catholic bench is to
be supplied by Dr. England from America, a man of all others most
decidedly hostile to British interests and the most active in
fomenting the discord of this country.... With such leaders it is
reasonable to anticipate the worst. It is impossible to detail in a
letter the various modes in which the Roman Catholic priesthood now
interfere in every transaction of every description, how they rule the
mob, the gentry, and the magistracy, and how they impede the
administration of justice.' Their power is greater than any other in
the State, 'and they love to display it, and omit no opportunity of
taunting their adversaries.' 'The state of society here is so
disorganised, and the Government has so inferior an authority to other
powers acting on the people, that the opinion formed to-day may be
quite changed to-morrow.'[39]

The election of 1826 virtually carried Catholic emancipation, for it
reduced Ireland to a state in which it was impossible long to resist
it. Clear-sighted men had no difficulty in perceiving that the policy
of Peel had failed to avert it, though it had succeeded in making
impossible the securities which Grattan and the wisest men of his
generation had pronounced indispensable for its safe working, in
kindling religious hatreds as intense as in the darkest period of the
eighteenth century, in breaking down that healthy relation and
subordination of classes on which beyond all other things the future
well-being of Ireland depended. Peel was not wholly blind to what was
happening. 'A darker cloud than ever,' he wrote, 'seems to me to
impend over Ireland, that is if one of the remaining bonds of society,
the friendly connection between landlord and tenant, is
dissolved.'[40] He still persuaded himself, however, that the
political power of the priests was transient, and that a reaction
would set in that might destroy it. The defeat of the Catholic
question in the new Parliament by a majority of four encouraged him in
his resistance. In January 1827 the death of the Duke of York removed
one serious obstacle to the Catholic cause, and six weeks later Lord
Liverpool, who had so long held together the divided Ministry, was
struck down by apoplexy. Peel would gladly have continued in his
present position if a peer of real weight who held his opinions on the
Catholic question was appointed to the vacant place. But there was no
such peer, except Wellington, to be found, and under Wellington
Canning refused to serve. Canning had, indeed, now fully resolved to
be at the head of the Administration, and Peel refused to serve under

With his opinions on the Catholic question it is impossible to blame
him, and the letters which passed between the two statesmen are very
honourable to both, and show clearly that in spite of great divergence
of opinion, character, and interests, each could recognise the good
faith of the other. In a letter written to one of his brothers Peel
describes his position with complete frankness:

'I am content with my position in the Government, and willing to
retain it--willing to see Mr. Canning leader of the House of Commons,
as he has been. But giving him credit for honesty and sincerity, if he
is at the head of the Government, and has all the patronage of the
Government, he must exert himself as an honest man to carry the
Catholic question; and to the carrying of that question, to the
preparation for its being carried, I never can be a party. Still less
can I be a party to it for the sake of office.'

These words were written little more than a year before Peel
undertook, as Minister of the Crown, to introduce a measure of
Catholic emancipation. But if they do little credit to his prescience,
no one can mistake the accent of sincerity in what follows:

'I do not choose to see new lights on the Catholic question precisely
at that conjuncture when the Duke of York has been laid in his grave
and Lord Liverpool struck dumb by the palsy. Would any man, woman, or
child believe that after nineteen years' stubborn unbelief I was
converted, at the very moment Mr. Canning was Prime Minister, out of
pure conscience and the force of truth?'[41]

With the resignation of Peel and the other anti-Catholic members of
Lord Liverpool's Government, and the formation of the short Canning
Ministry, this instalment of Peel's letters comes to an end.[42] We
rejoice that the publication of this very interesting correspondence
has been entrusted to an editor who is at once so competent and so


[10] _Life of Lord George Bentinck_, p. 304.

[11] Lewis's _Letters_, p. 226.

[12] _Private Correspondence of Sir R. Peel, 1788-1827_. Ed. by C.S.
Parker, M.P., 1891, p. 24.

[13] _Ibid._ p. 27.

[14] _Hansard_, First Ser. xxi. 663.

[15] Butler's _Hist. Memoirs_, ii. 177.

[16] _Peel Correspondence_, p. 80.

[17] _Peel Correspondence_, p. 83.

[18] _Peel Correspondence_, p. 76.

[19] _Peel Correspondence_, pp. 217, 218.

[20] _Peel Correspondence_, pp. 222-224.

[21] _Ibid._ p. 212.

[22] _Ibid._ p. 284.

[23] _Peel Correspondence_, p. 282.

[24] _Ibid._ pp. 114-116, 211, 218.

[25] _Peel Correspondence_, p. 60.

[26] _Ibid._ p. 275.

[27] _Ibid._ p. 96.

[28] _Peel Correspondence_, p. 211.

[29] _Ibid._ pp. 215, 219, 220.

[30] _Peel Correspondence_, pp. 207, 231, 235, 236.

[31] _Peel Correspondence_, pp. 87-92.

[32] _Ibid._ pp. 244, 265.

[33] _Ibid._ pp. 167, 233.

[34] _Peel Correspondence_, p. 348.

[35] _Peel Correspondence_, pp. 349, 358, 359, 370-371.

[36] _Peel Correspondence_, p. 358.

[37] _Ibid._ pp. 315-317.

[38] Fitzpatrick's _Correspondence of O'Connell_, i. p. 108.

[39] _Peel Correspondence_, pp. 416, 418, 419, 422.

[40] _Ibid._ pp. 413, 420.

[41] _Peel Correspondence_, p. 485.

[42] Two more volumes have been published since this Essay was


The time has not yet arrived for the publication of a full life of the
late Lord Derby, but in submitting to the public a collection of his
more important speeches outside Parliament, a short sketch of the
chief features of his life and character may not be out of place.

Edward Henry, fifteenth Earl of Derby, was born July 21, 1826, and was
educated at Rugby, and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he obtained a
First Class in classics. In March 1848 he unsuccessfully contested
Lancaster, and soon after started for a long and instructive journey
in America and the West Indies. During his absence from England he was
elected Member for Lynn Regis upon the death of Lord George Bentinck
in September 1848, and he held this seat without interruption till his
accession to the earldom in October 1869. His first speech in the
House of Commons was delivered on May 31, 1850, on the sugar duties.
The effect on the West Indies of the abolition of the preferential
duty on sugar was a subject which he had specially studied during his
journey, and he had published a pamphlet upon it. Sir Robert Peel
greatly praised his maiden speech, and Greville describes the great
impression which it made--an impression which a further knowledge of
the speaker speedily confirmed.

The appearance in Parliament of the eldest son of one of the most
brilliant party leaders of the age could scarcely fail to be a
considerable political event, and it was soon found that the new
member was not only a man of rare ability, but was also in nearly all
respects very unlike his illustrious father. Never was there a more
striking instance of that strange freak of heredity by which an able
son is sometimes much less the continuation than the complement of an
able father, exhibiting in strongly contrasted lights both opposite
qualities and opposite defects. The fourteenth Earl was a great
orator. He was one of the greatest debaters who have ever lived. He
was a party leader of extraordinary power, delighting in political
conflict; throwing into it much of the fire and passion which he
displayed in his sporting contests; little fitted to conciliate
opponents, but eminently fitted to win the enthusiastic loyalty of his
followers, to rally a dispirited minority, to lead a party attack. His
keen and rapid judgment; his perfect command of pure and lucid
English; his unfailing readiness in argument, invective, sarcasm, and
repartee; his indomitable courage, and the somewhat imperious dignity
of his manner, all marked him out for the position which he held. If
there was some truth in the common taunt that he was more a party
leader than a statesman, it must at least be remembered that he has
identified his name with several important measures, and that during
most of his career he was in a hopeless minority. His enemies accused
him of rashness, arrogance, and some superficiality, both of thought
and knowledge. They alleged that he carried too much of the sporting
spirit into politics; that his naturally excellent judgment was often
deflected by the passions of the fray; that he was accustomed to
judge measures more by their party advantages than by their intrinsic
merits, and to care more for an immediate triumph than for ultimate

His son was made in a very different mould. Though like most able and
clear-headed men he acquired by much practice a respectable facility
in purely extemporaneous argument, he was never a great debater. His
speeches were very carefully prepared, and they possessed conspicuous
merits of form as well as of matter, but they were not the speeches of
a brilliant orator. No one could reason more clearly, more powerfully,
or more persuasively. He was a supreme master of terse, luminous,
weighty, and accurate English. He had much skill in bringing into
vivid relief the salient points of an obscure and complicated subject,
condensing an argument into a phrase, and illustrating it by graphic
felicities of language that clung to the memory. But he hated
rhetoric. His enunciation was faulty and unimpressive. He appealed
solely to the reason, and never to passion or to prejudice, and he had
nothing of the fire and temperament of a party orator. Very few
politicians mastered so thoroughly the subjects with which they dealt.
No politician of his time retained so remarkably, amid party
conflicts, the power of judging questions from all their sides; of
balancing judicially opposing considerations; of looking beyond the
passions and interests of the hour; of realising the points of view of
those to whom he was opposed. Declamation, clap-trap, evasion,
ambiguities of thought and expression, empty plausibilities, unfair,
partial, and exaggerated statements, were all essentially repugnant to
that clear and sceptical intellect, to that sound, cautious, practical
judgment. His business talents were very great, and they were
assiduously cultivated. His appetite for work was insatiable. No one
knew better how to administer a great department or preside over a
Parliamentary Committee, or arbitrate in a difficult controversy, or
give wise and timely advice to an inexperienced organisation. It was
in these fields that his influence was, perhaps, most deeply felt. His
success in them did not depend merely on his unflagging industry and
his excellent judgment, it was also largely due to his eminently
conciliatory character. The uniform courtesy which he displayed to men
of all ranks and opinions is happily no rare thing among his class,
but everyone who was brought in contact with Lord Derby soon felt that
he was in the presence of one who tried to understand his position, to
estimate his arguments at their full worth, to find some common ground
of agreement. If it were possible in a bitter controversy to arrive at
reasonable compromise, Lord Derby was most likely to effect it. He had
a curious talent of making speeches with which everyone must agree,
and which at the same time were never commonplace. Their secret lay in
the habit of mind that led him always to seek out the common grounds
of principle or fact that underlie every controversy, and which in the
heat of the conflict the disputants had often failed to recognise.

It was not difficult to forecast the place which a statesman of this
kind was likely to fill in English politics. He was plainly wanting in
many of the qualities of a party leader, and in most of the qualities
of a parliamentary gladiator, and he was not likely to succeed in all
forms of statesmanship. He would certainly not prove

    A daring pilot in extremity,
    Pleased with the danger when the waves went high.

His clear perception of the objections to any course, combined with a
very deep sense of responsibility, not unfrequently enfeebled his will
in moments when bold and decisive action was required, and there were
times when the love of compromise which was so useful an element in
his character seemed to his best friends too closely allied to
weakness. But he probably saved every party with which he acted from
many mistakes. He brought to every Government which he joined a very
eminent administrative capacity. He defended every policy that he
espoused with a persuasive reasoning that few men could equal. He was
a supremely skilful detector of false weights and of false measures.
Every fad, every new-born enthusiasm, every crude ill-digested theory,
found in him the calmest and most penetrating of critics, and he
inspired the great body of moderate men of all parties with a deep
confidence in his patriotism and in his judgment.

His political position was marked out by the fact that his father had
recently broken away from the Whig connection which had hitherto been
that of his family, and was now the leader of the Conservative party.
The son naturally took his place under his father's banner, but I much
question whether he would have done so if no family influence had
interfered. It was not that he at any time changed considerably his
views. As Macaulay has truly said--while the extremes of the two
English parties are separated by a wide chasm, there is a frontier
line where they almost blend; and Lord Derby when a Conservative
always represented the Liberal, and when a Liberal the Conservative
wing of his party. But his mind had much of the Whig character; his
judgment was very independent; and on Church questions especially he
was never fully in harmony with his party. He was appointed
Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in his father's first
short Ministry in March 1852, at a time when he was travelling in
India, and he left office with his father in December of the same
year. In 1853 he made a remarkable speech on Indian affairs, in some
degree foreshadowing the Indian policy which he was afterwards
destined to take such a large part in carrying into effect. During the
next few years he spoke frequently on Indian and Colonial questions,
on questions connected with education, factories, and other
working-class interests, and he supported--often in opposition to the
majority of his party--a large number of reforms which have since been
accomplished. He advocated the introduction of competitive
examinations, first of all into the Diplomatic, and then into most
branches of the Civil Service. He spoke against the system of purchase
in the army, and served on a Royal Commission on the subject. He
supported a motion for securing to married women their property and
earnings. He took a decided part in opposition to Church rates. He
voted for the emancipation of the Jews. He voted and spoke in favour
of the Maynooth grant. He was an early advocate of the opening of
museums on Sundays, and of a conscience clause to be enforced in all
schools receiving State assistance. He supported the establishment of
the Divorce Court, and clearly showed that preference for social as
distinguished from political questions which he retained through his
whole life. He delighted in placing himself in touch with working men.
Mechanics' institutes, free libraries, almost every movement for the
education and improvement of the working class, found in him a steady
friend. He once wrote to Lord Shaftesbury: 'We are both public men
deeply interested in the condition of the working class, and for my
own part I would rather look back on services such as you have
performed for that class than receive the highest honours in the
employment of the State.' On working-class questions he was often
accused of Radicalism, but it was Radicalism of the old school, which
relied mainly for reform on spontaneous effort, on moral improvement,
and extended education, and was very jealous of State interference,
compulsion, and control. He had a great admiration for Mill's
writings, and especially for his treatise on Liberty, which he
described as 'one of the wisest books of our time.' Mill fully
reciprocated the feeling. He once spoke of Lord Stanley as 'one of the
very few English public men who hold that a politician's opinions
ought to be founded on principles.'

'Our party,' wrote Lord Malmesbury in 1853, 'are angry with Disraeli,
which is constantly the case, and they are also displeased with Lord
Stanley, suspecting him to be coquetting with the Manchester party.'
Greville, nearly at the same time, expressed his belief that Lord
Stanley was taking 'a wise and liberal line,' and that he was 'pretty
sure to act a conspicuous part.' In November 1855 there was a critical
moment in his career, when Lord Palmerston, on the death of Sir
William Molesworth, offered Lord Stanley the post of Secretary of
State for the Colonies. He at once went down to Knowsley to consult
his father, who put a strong veto on the proposal, and the offer was
refused, but in terms which showed that it had been far from
unacceptable. It is probable that the refusal was a wise one, for
although on many home questions Lord Stanley would have found himself
more in harmony with moderate Liberals than with his own party, he
would certainly have dissented from Lord Palmerston's foreign policy.
During the Crimean war he seems to have sympathised with the views of
Bright and Cobden. He took an active part in an able but now nearly
forgotten Tory paper called 'The Press,' which was opposed to the war,
and his extreme horror of war and of every policy which could possibly
lead to war was one of his strongest characteristics. Responsibility
in office never weighed lightly upon him, but responsibility for
measures which led or might lead to bloodshed was more than he could

At the time when this offer of Lord Palmerston was made, Lord Stanley
was little more than twenty-nine. Greville considered that he had
acted wisely in refusing, and he has given us an interesting account
of the light in which the young statesman then appeared to experienced
political judges. 'His position and abilities,' he said, 'are certain
before long to make him conspicuous, and to enable him to play a very
considerable part. He is exceedingly ambitious, of an independent turn
of mind, very industrious, and has acquired a vast amount of
information. Not long ago Disraeli gave me an account of him and of
his curious opinions--exceedingly curious in a man in his condition of
life and with his prospects. Last night Lord Strangford (George
Smythe) talked to me about him, expressed the highest opinion of his
capacity and acquirements, and confirmed what Disraeli had told me of
his notions and views even more, for he says that he is a real and
sincere democrat, and that he would like if he could to prove his
sincerity by divesting himself of his aristocratic character, and even
of the wealth he is heir to. How far this may be true I know not....
Nothing appears to me certain but that he will play a considerable
part for good or for evil, but I cannot pretend to guess what it will
be. At present he seems to be more allied with Bright than with any
other public man, and as his disposition about the war and its
continuance is very much that of Bright it would have been difficult
for him to take office with Palmerston.'

Lord Stanley had not long to wait for high office. His father formed
his second Administration in February 1858, and Lord Stanley was made
Colonial Secretary. He appears to have accepted the office with some
reluctance, and only because Sir E. Bulwer, for whom it was at first
intended, found that he could not secure his re-election. The
Government was a very weak one, and it opened with the worst
prospects. It was a Government in a minority. Its very existence
depended on the dissensions between Lord Palmerston and Lord John
Russell, and its first steps met with little favour either in the
House or in the country. The Indian Mutiny was now nearly suppressed,
and Lord Palmerston shortly before quitting office had pledged the
House of Commons to the policy of withdrawing the Government of India
from the East India Company and placing it directly under the Crown.
To carry this policy into effect was the first task of the new
Government. They introduced an Indian Bill which they were compelled
to withdraw, and then substituted for it a new Bill founded on
resolutions which were carried through the House of Commons. In May
the Government almost fell on account of the indiscreet publication of
a despatch of Lord Ellenborough, condemning a Proclamation of the
Governor-General, Lord Canning. A vote of censure was moved and would
certainly have been carried if Lord Ellenborough had not saved his
colleagues by resigning. He was President of the Board of Control, the
Office which then directed Indian affairs, and Lord Stanley took his
place, piloted the Indian Bill successfully through the House of
Commons, and when the measure became law, was the first Secretary of
State for India, and undertook the very important and responsible task
of beginning the new system of Indian Government.

'The Times' noticed the singular good fortune of Lord Derby in being
able at this very critical moment to place his eldest son in one of
the most important Cabinet offices in his Ministry without incurring
from any side the smallest imputation of nepotism, and the skill and
success of the new administration of the India Office was speedily and
generally recognised. Greville tells us that Lord Stanley 'gained
golden opinions and great popularity at the India House'; and he gives
a striking instance of the firmness with which he maintained the full
authority of the new Council over Indian affairs. He adds: 'I was
prepared to hear of his ability, his indefatigable industry, and his
business qualities; but I was surprised to hear so much of his
courtesy, affability, patience, and candour; that he is neither
dictatorial nor conceited, always ready to listen to other people's
opinions and advice, and never fancying that he knows better than
anyone else. I afterwards told Jonathan Peel what I had heard and he
confirmed the truth of this report and said he was the same in the
Cabinet.' 'Lord Stanley,' Greville said, 'is so completely _the man_
of the present day, and in all human probability is destined to play
so important and conspicuous a part in political life, that the time
may come when any details, however minute, of his early career will be
deemed worthy of recollection.' It is a characteristic fact that Lord
Stanley offered a seat on the Indian Council to John Stuart Mill,
which, however, that great writer declined.

The disturbance in European politics which culminated in the French
declaration of war against Austria contributed to weaken still further
the feeble Ministry of Lord Derby. The Reform Bill caused profound
divisions in its ranks. Mr. Walpole and Mr. Henley resigned, and the
Government Bill was defeated in the spring of 1859. Lord Malmesbury
mentions that in the Cabinet divisions on that question Lord Stanley
supported the more democratic view, and that on one occasion he
threatened to resign if the measure were not made more liberal. He
defended the Bill in an elaborate speech, advocating such an
introduction of the working class to the franchise as would give them
a considerable but not a preponderating power. A general election
followed, and the Government gained several seats, but not sufficient
to give it a majority. The different fractions of the Opposition drew
together; on June 11 a vote of want of confidence was carried by a
majority of 13, and Lord Derby immediately resigned.

In opposition Lord Stanley devoted himself chiefly to the class of
questions that had occupied him before his accession to office. He
served on the long Cambridge University Commission, and supported the
admission of Nonconformists to Fellowships. He was also warmly in
favour of the measure which made it possible for clergymen to free
themselves from their Orders and to adopt other professions. He
presided over the Commission on the Sanitary State of the Indian Army
and over the Commission on Patents. Like Disraeli, he displayed during
the American Civil War a reticence and reserve which contrasted very
favourably with the rash language of other leaders.

In 1862 a curious episode occurred which showed at least the
widespread reputation that he had acquired. Prince Alfred having
refused the throne of Greece, the idea was for a short time
entertained of offering it to Lord Stanley. 'If he accepts,' Disraeli
wrote to his friend Mrs. Willyams, 'I shall lose a powerful friend and
colleague. It is a dazzling adventure for the house of Stanley, but
they are not an imaginative race, and I fancy they will prefer
Knowsley to the Parthenon and Lancashire to the Attic Plains.' 'The
Greeks really want to make my friend Lord Stanley their king. This
beats any novel; but he will not. Had I his youth I would not
hesitate, even with the earldom of Derby in the distance.'

It does not appear that this proposal ever took a very serious form,
and if it had been made there is little doubt that Disraeli formed a
just forecast of what would have been the result. The death of Lord
Palmerston on October 18, 1865, gave a new turn to the political
kaleidoscope: Lord Russell became Prime Minister; the policy of reform
was pushed into the forefront, and the Reform Bill of 1866 speedily
produced a secession in the Liberal ranks and led to the downfall of
the Ministry. The feature of the Bill which specially lent itself to
attack was that it dealt solely with reduction of the franchise,
leaving the question of the distribution of seats to subsequent
legislation, and an amendment was moved by Lord Grosvenor to the
effect that no Bill for the reduction of the franchise should be
discussed till the whole scheme was before the House. This amendment
was seconded by Lord Stanley in a speech which Lord Malmesbury
pronounced to be 'the finest and most statesmanlike speech he ever
made.' In June the Government were beaten by a small majority on an
amendment of Lord Dunkellin substituting rating for rental; a few days
later Lord Russell resigned and Lord Derby for the third time became
Prime Minister.

As on the two former occasions he was in a minority, though the
temporary secession of a portion of the Liberal party gave him a
precarious power. Once more, too, he took office amid the convulsions
of a European war, for the war of Prussia and Italy with Austria had
just begun. In the new Ministry Lord Stanley was Secretary for Foreign
Affairs. In his election address he gave the keynote of his policy by
insisting in the strongest terms that England should observe a strict
neutrality in European controversies. Her vast Indian and Colonial
Empire, he said, made her a world apart and threw upon her duties and
responsibilities that taxed all her energies. She had duties also to
her poorer classes at home, whose condition was not what we could
desire; and by simply existing as a free, prosperous, and
self-governed nation, we should do more for the real freedom of Europe
than by any policy of meddling or war.

As far as his own department was concerned Lord Stanley's
administration during this short Ministry was both eminently
consistent and eminently successful. It is true that this pacific
Minister made the Abyssinian war for the release of some imprisoned
British subjects, but he only did this after every peaceful effort to
procure their release had proved abortive, and it was almost
universally recognised that there was no honourable alternative open
to him. During his ministry the Luxemburg question brought France and
Prussia to the very verge of war. It fell to the task of Lord Stanley
to mediate between them, and he did so with a success which certainly
adjourned, though it could not ultimately avert, the great catastrophe
that burst upon Europe in 1870. No success could have been more
gratifying to him, and he was fond of repeating the saying of Canning
that 'If a war must come sooner or later, for my part I prefer that it
should come later than sooner.' Lord Russell bore an ungrudging
testimony to the 'tact and discretion' Lord Stanley displayed in this
negotiation. In the same spirit he refused to take part in a
conference of European Powers which the French Emperor desired to
convene to settle the Roman question, declaring that this question was
one with which England should in no way meddle, and that a conference
would be useless and dangerous unless a basis were laid down before.
He refused to interfere in any way with the Cretan rebellion, and with
the impending disputes between Turkey and Greece. His abstention on
this question was blamed by some, but it met with the full approbation
of his great opponent, Lord Russell, who declared that 'he had acted
with much prudence and discretion.' He laid the foundation also of the
settlement of the long outstanding difficulty with America by
proposing to refer the Alabama question to arbitration, and he
negotiated a treaty on the subject, which, however, the Senate refused
to ratify.

In all this he was very consistent. The same consistency cannot be
claimed for his support of a Reform Bill far more Radical than that
which his party had so recently rejected. In my own judgment it is
impossible to defend with success the conduct of the Derby Ministry on
this question, and although Lord Stanley took only a subsidiary part
in it, he cannot escape his share of the responsibility. The
difficulty of the position of the eldest son of the Prime Minister who
was taking this 'leap in the dark' was very great, and it must be
remembered that he had long been identified with the more democratic
wing of his party. After the great agitation that followed the
downfall of the Russell Ministry, he probably regarded a democratic
measure as inevitable, and it was the character of his mind to be very
ready to accept what he considered the inevitable, and to endeavour by
timely compromise to mitigate its effects. Lord Derby's health was now
completely broken, and on February 24, 1868, he resigned office, and
Disraeli became Prime Minister.

Mr. Gladstone soon re-united the sundered sections of the Opposition
by raising the question of the Disestablishment of the Irish Church.
The resolutions asserting the expediency of this policy were
introduced into the House of Commons in April. Lord Stanley was put
forward as the principal opponent. His amendment expressed no opinion
about the merits of the proposed policy, but simply affirmed that it
was a question which ought to be reserved for a new Parliament which
was soon to be elected under an altered franchise. In his speech he
disclaimed any wish to maintain that the Irish Church Establishment
was what it ought to be, but urged that in the condition of Ireland a
merely destructive measure would do nothing but harm, that it would
serve no good purpose to attack the Establishment without laying down
the lines of a definite, constructive ecclesiastical policy, and that
it was absurd to launch such a question in the last session of an
expiring Parliament. The more ardent spirits of the Tory party
strongly censured the ambiguity of this defence, and the Government
were beaten by majorities of 56 and 60. The House of Commons was
dissolved in the autumn and a large Liberal majority returned.
Disraeli at once resigned without waiting for the assembling of

In October 1869 the death of Lord Derby terminated the career of his
son in the House of Commons, and the following year added very greatly
to the happiness of his life by his marriage with the Dowager
Marchioness of Salisbury. His attitude in opposition is clearly shown
in his published speeches. He had no wish to see the Conservative
party again in office till they possessed an assured and homogeneous
majority, and he maintained that it should be their main object to
strengthen the influence of the more moderate section in the
Government. He believed that by habitually pursuing this policy they
would best prevent revolutionary changes, mitigate by wise compromises
measures which they did not wholly approve, secure the continuance of
the harmony of classes, on which more than on any other condition the
prosperity of England depends, and gradually strengthen their own hold
on the confidence of the country. It was also his earnest desire that
English politics should be turned as much as possible from a policy of
organic change to a policy of administrative reform. He considered it
a great evil that public men had acquired the habit of continually
tampering with the existing legislative machinery instead of wisely
using it for the benefit of the whole nation. The party system, as he
always thought, had falsified the perspective of English politics,
bringing into the foreground comparatively unimportant questions which
were well suited to rally parties and win majorities; thrusting into
the background others which were immeasurably more important, but
which were less available for party purposes. What Carlyle called 'The
Condition of England Question' was always in his thoughts. No one
would accuse him of under-rating the evils of war, but he questioned
whether the most sanguinary battle which had ever been fought carried
off nearly as many human beings as die in England every year from
purely preventible causes. He threw the whole force of his clear and
penetrating intellect into such questions as sanitary reform, the
regulation of mines, the promotion of education and especially
technical education, the organisation of charities, the treatment of
juvenile offenders, the diffusion of wise methods of encouraging
saving among the poor. The overcrowding of the great cities, and the
vast masses of insanitary dwellings, seemed to him one of the most
pressing dangers of the time, and he was a prominent member of nearly
every important company and association in England for improving the
houses of artisans. He had no puritanism in his nature and was very
anxious, by the establishment of free libraries and people's parks,
and Sunday opening of museums, to extend the range of innocent
pleasure. 'Men die,' he once said, 'for want of cheerfulness, as
plants die for want of light.' He did not believe in the repression of
drunkenness by coercive legislation like the Local Veto Bill, but he
believed that its true root lay in overcrowding, ignorance, insanitary
conditions of life, the want of innocent means of enjoyment, excessive
hours of labour. 'When you have to deal with men in masses,' he said,
'the connection between vice and disease is very close. With a low
average of popular health you will have a low average of national
morality and probably also of national intellect. Drunkenness and
vice of other kinds will flourish on such a soil, and you cannot get
healthy brains to grow on unhealthy bodies. Cleanliness and
self-respect grow together, and it is no paradox to affirm that you
tend to purify men's thoughts and feelings when you purify the air
they breathe.' He supported liberally the movement for establishing
coffee-houses, and he looked with great hope to the co-operative
movement as averting or mitigating industrial conflicts. 'The subject
of co-operation,' he said, 'is in my judgment more important as
regards the future of England than nine-tenths of those which are
discussed in Parliament, and around which political controversies
gather.' As the possessor of one of the largest properties in England
he was excellently informed on all agricultural questions, and he
exercised a great influence upon them. Among other services he
dispelled many misrepresentations by obtaining an accurate return of
the numbers of owners of land in the United Kingdom, and of the
quantity of land which they owned.

With the single exception of Lord Shaftesbury, I believe no
conspicuous English public man devoted so much time and labour as Lord
Derby to the class of questions I have described. He brought to their
discussion an almost unrivalled fulness of knowledge. His purse was
liberally opened in such causes, and the speeches in which he examined
what Government can do and what it cannot do for the material
well-being of the poor, are in my judgment among the most valuable
contributions to political thought that have been furnished by any
English statesman during the present century.

The election of 1874, bringing the Conservative party again into
power, called him to other fields, and he became for the second time
Foreign Secretary under Disraeli, and was soon involved in that
Eastern Question which led to his severance from the Conservative
party. It would answer no good purpose in a short sketch like the
present to rake up the still smouldering ashes of that controversy.
The time will come when it will be reviewed in the calm light of
history, and with the assistance of materials that are not now before
the public. I shall here content myself with a mere sketch. In the
earlier stages of their foreign policy the Government appear to have
been perfectly agreed. Lord Derby fully concurred in the purchase of
the Khedive's shares in the Suez Canal, which was one of the most
successful strokes of policy of the Government, though he defended it
on somewhat more prosaic grounds than some of its supporters, and was
careful to explain that it was essentially a measure of self-defence,
and not connected with any project for the dismemberment of Turkey or
the establishment of an English protectorate in Egypt. When the
insurrection broke out in 1875 in Herzegovina and Bosnia, neither Lord
Derby nor any of his colleagues believed it to be more than a mere
passing disturbance. But the feebleness manifested by the Turkish army
in suppressing the insurrection, and the partial bankruptcy of the
Government at Constantinople, contributed with many elements of race
and religious dissension, with foreign intrigue and local
misgovernment, to aggravate the sore, and the movement soon acquired
the dimensions of a great European danger. In sending an English
Consul in conjunction with the Consuls of the other Powers to the
scene of insurrection, in order, if possible, to arrive at a
mediation; in the acceptance of the Andrassy Note, by which the three
Imperial Powers laid down the reforms which they considered urgently
necessary; in the rejection of the Berlin Memorandum, on the ground
that the Porte could not or would not carry out its demands, and that
it would almost certainly lead to an armed intervention; and finally,
in sending the British fleet to Besika Bay for the purpose of
protecting English and Christian interests at Constantinople, at a
time when that city was in a state of almost complete anarchy, the
Government were fully agreed, and they carried with them an immense
majority in Parliament and in the country. For some time, also, the
country seemed to approve of the policy which Lord Derby uniformly
avowed and steadily observed, of maintaining a strict neutrality in
the contest that was raging; doing all that could be done by advice,
remonstrance, mediation, and moral influence to induce the Porte to
carry out internal reforms; warning the Turkish Government in clear
terms that under the circumstances of the case they must not look for
any military assistance from England, but at the same time
discouraging as much as possible the active interference of other
Powers in the affairs of Turkey, and abstaining rigidly from any step
that would involve the use of force or the chance of war unless some
serious English interest was affected. He believed that the integrity
of the Turkish Empire was a vital English interest, and that any
attempt to substitute a Slavonic for a Turkish Empire would bring upon
Europe calamities the extent of which it was impossible to exaggerate
or to foresee. Russia and Austria would at once come into collision;
England would almost certainly be drawn into the war, and all the
fierce elements of race hatred and religious fanaticism would be let

For a time most English politicians seem to have agreed with him, and
his one great object was to bring about an armistice, a mediation, and
a peace. But the popular agitation which arose in England on the
subject of the Bulgarian atrocities in the summer and autumn of 1876
added enormously to his difficulties, and the danger was the greater
because some skilful party management was blended with much genuine
philanthropy. The speeches addressed by Lord Derby to the successive
deputations that came to him, give the best explanation and defence of
his position during this critical period, and the interruptions to
which he had to reply give a vivid picture of the state of feeling
that had arisen. The Crimean war was now deplored as a calamity, if
not a crime. The Turks were described on high political authority as
'the one great anti-human specimen of humanity.' The Ministers were
accused of complicity in the Bulgarian massacres; they were urged to
cast neutrality to the wind; to adopt a policy of armed coercion in
Turkey; even to assist Russia in driving the Turks out of
Constantinople. It had become, as Lord Derby sarcastically said, a
very unpopular thing for an English Minister to talk of English
interests in connection with the Eastern Question--almost dangerous
for any man at a public meeting to express in plain terms his doubt of
the disinterested philanthropy of Russia.

Lord Derby had at this time to encounter much unpopularity. He was
accused of an undue leaning towards the Turkish Government, and an
inadequate sympathy with the Christian populations, and it was alleged
that if he had acted in firm concert with the other Powers in coercing
the Porte--if he had not proclaimed so loudly and constantly his
determination to abstain from all active interference and
compulsion--his remonstrances would have had more effect, and he might
have averted or restricted the calamities that had occurred. But a
great change soon took place. The first object of the Government was
to prevent the Turkish disturbance from leading to a European war, and
in this object they failed. On April 24, 1877, Russia, in spite of
English remonstrances, declared war against Turkey. On the same day a
Russian army crossed the Pruth, and the Eastern Question entered into
a new and dangerous phase.

To a statesman like Lord Derby, who maintained that war, unless it is
a necessity, is a crime; that the maintenance of peace is beyond all
comparison the greatest of British interests, the months that followed
were extremely trying. His first object was to limit the war, and to
safeguard English interests, and for this purpose he drew up on May 6,
1877, a Note defining the English interests that were vital in the
East. He warned the Russian Government that an attempt by Russia to
blockade the Suez Canal, an attack on Egypt, a Russian occupation of
Constantinople, or an alteration of the existing arrangements for the
navigation of the Bosphorus or the Dardanelles might compel England to
abandon her neutrality. Russia accepted these conditions, and for some
time there appeared every prospect of limiting the war. But in the
beginning of 1878 a period of extreme danger undoubtedly arrived.
Plevna had fallen. The Turkish resistance had collapsed. A Russian
army, flushed with victory, had advanced to near Constantinople. The
treaty of San Stephano was signed; which in the opinion of most
European statesmen placed Turkey at the feet of Russia, and Russia at
first refused to submit its terms to a conference of European Powers.
Public feeling in England now ran strongly in a direction almost
opposite to that in which it had been running eighteen months before,
and the nation was extremely alarmed at the danger of Constantinople
becoming speedily and irremediably a Russian port. On the other hand,
the national and military pride of the conquering Power was aroused,
and it was felt that a single false step, a single imprudent menace,
might lead to war.

It was one of those moments in which men's judgments are largely
affected by their temperaments, and it soon became evident that the
Cabinet was seriously divided. Disraeli had now become Lord
Beaconsfield, and sat with his Foreign Secretary in the House of
Lords. With his character it was inevitable that he should meet the
danger by a bold, decisive, and even aggressive, policy. It was no
less natural that Lord Derby should have persistently leaned towards
the side of caution and shrunk from any measure that could cut short
negotiation and diminish the chances of peace. The order given that
the British Fleet should enter the Dardanelles, first produced the
inevitable schism, and Lord Derby and Lord Carnarvon resigned. The
order was countermanded, and Lord Derby, for a short time, resumed his
post. He acquiesced, but with great reluctance, in the vote of credit
for six millions which was at once brought before the House of
Commons, but he was soon convinced that measures he did not approve of
were impending, and when orders were given for calling out the
reserves he definitely resigned.

He announced his resignation on March 28, 1878, in terms of much
dignity and moderation. He believed, he said, that his colleagues
desired peace as truly as himself, and he did not maintain that their
later measures led inevitably to war, but he considered that they were
neither necessary nor 'prudent in the interests of European peace.'
He agreed that the terms of the treaty should be submitted to a
European Congress, in which England should take part. On minor matters
he thought it his duty to waive his own opinion, but he could not do
so on a question involving the momentous issue of peace or war. The
threat involved in the last act of the Government, he said, in a later
speech, would make it more difficult for Russia to modify her policy,
and he believed that without a threat such a modification of the
treaty of San Stephano could be obtained as would make it acceptable.
He had been accused of indecision and even of cowardice. For his own
part he thought it needed more courage to stand up in his place to
express views which he knew to be unpopular among the great body of
his friends, than to sit at a desk in Downing Street and issue orders
which would bring no danger or unpopularity to himself, but might
bring about a European war.

The short speech in which Lord Beaconsfield accepted the resignation,
and dwelt on the long friendship, personal as well as political, that
bound him to Lord Derby, seems to me a perfect model of good feeling
and good taste. Unfortunately the example of the Prime Minister was
not followed, and words used in a later debate went far to make the
breach irrevocable.

Lord Derby for a short time maintained a neutral position, but the
foreign policy of Lord Beaconsfield was in the highest degree
distasteful to him. A wave of Chauvinism was passing over England,
which was utterly opposed to his views, and he believed that a section
of the Conservative party encouraged it in order to divert the
thoughts of men from internal reforms. He objected to the acquisition
of Cyprus, to some of the responsibilities assumed by England under
the treaty of Berlin, and very strongly to the Afghan war; and in the
beginning of 1880 he formally attached himself to the Liberal party,
on the ground of his objections to the foreign policy of the
Government. His speeches in his new capacity differed very little from
those which he had formerly delivered, but he said that he had learnt
to see more clearly the uselessness of attempting to resist popular
ideas, and to think 'more highly of the moderation, the fairness, and
the general justice with which masses of men, including all conditions
of life, are disposed to use their power.' He thought that England
should mix herself as little as possible with 'the sanguinary muddle'
of European diplomacy; that she should avoid increasing her
responsibilities; that she should take stringent measures to reduce
her debt; that she should pay much more attention than she was
accustomed to do to the condition of her own poorer population; and
that it should be the object of her statesmen to meet every great
popular demand by wise and equitable compromise. One of the greatest
dangers, he said, that could befall the country, would be 'a state of
things in which the comparatively harmless antagonism of parties would
be replaced by the far more serious and dangerous war of classes. From
that danger more than from any other it is the business of a
well-considered Liberalism to protect us.'

In 1882 he accepted the Colonial Office from Mr. Gladstone, and held
it until the fall of the Government in the summer of 1885. His
ministry was not a very eventful one, and it was marked by that steady
adherence to a middle line which had always characterised him. He
congratulated the country that the indifference to our colonies which
had prevailed during his youth had passed away, but he was by no means
favourable to extensions of the Empire. 'We have quite black men
enough,' he was accustomed to say; and he believed that any increase
of our responsibilities was likely to endanger the Empire, and to
divert the energies of politicians from pressing home questions. He
did not condemn the policy which led to the occupation of Egypt by
England, but he declared that even if it was inevitable it was a
misfortune, and that we ought to 'see that we do not on any pretext,
however plausible, get that Egyptian millstone tied permanently round
our necks.' He was very sceptical about Imperial Federation, and
entirely incredulous about the possibility of an Imperial Zollverein.
He deplored the protectionism of the colonies, but was himself a
strict free-trader of the school of Cobden, and utterly opposed to any
attempt to negotiate treaties with the colonies on a basis of
preferential tariffs. On the other hand, he showed himself quite ready
to favour Confederation in Australia, and he accepted gratefully
Australian help in the Soudan, but he was much alarmed by tendencies
in some colonies which might lead to complications with foreign
Powers, and he incurred considerable unpopularity in Australia by
refusing to consent to the annexation by Queensland of New Guinea.

There is, however, one incident in the colonial administration of Lord
Derby on which it is necessary to dwell at somewhat greater length,
for subsequent events have given it an unfortunate prominence and it
has thrown some discredit on his statesmanship. I allude, of course,
to the convention with the Transvaal in 1884. In the preceding
convention, which had been signed in August 1881, complete
self-government had been granted by England to the Transvaal 'subject
to the suzerainty of her Majesty' and her successors, and also to a
large number of carefully specified reservations and limitations. They
comprised the complete control of the external relations of the
Transvaal, including the conclusion of treaties and the conduct of
diplomatic intercourse with foreign Powers, which could only be
carried on through her Majesty's officers; the right of moving British
troops in case of necessity through the Transvaal; a power of veto
over all legislation affecting the interests of the native population.
A number of articles prohibited slavery in the new State; protected
with much detail the interests of the native population; secured
complete religious liberty; established the right of all persons other
than natives who conformed themselves to the laws of the State, to
enter, travel, and reside in any part of the Transvaal, to acquire
property and to carry on their business without being subject to any
other taxation than that which was imposed on the citizens of the
Transvaal; and placed British imports and exports on the same plane as
those of the most-favoured nations. The limits of the new State were
carefully defined and a British Resident was established in the
Transvaal to superintend the carrying out of these provisions. There
was no express provision in the convention for the political
privileges of the English residents in the Transvaal, but the
Government appear to have relied on a not very explicit verbal
assurance given to the British Commissioners by President Kruger in
May 1881. Asked about the rights of British subjects to complete free
trade throughout the Transvaal, President Kruger answered that before
the annexation 'they were on the same footing as the burghers'; that
'there was not the slightest difference in accordance with the Sand
River convention'; that this state of things would be continued and
that 'there would be equal protection for everybody.' Sir Evelyn Wood
then added, 'and equal privileges?' 'We make no difference,' answered
President Kruger, 'so far as burgher rights are concerned. There may
perhaps be some slight difference in the case of a young person who
has just come into the country.' It was subsequently explained that
the words 'young person' did not refer to age, but to the time of
residence in the Republic--according to the old Transvaal
Constitution, a year's residence in the Republic was necessary for
naturalisation. With this assurance the Government of 1881 appears to
have been content. They believed in words expressly sanctioned by Mr.
Gladstone, that the concession of limited independence to the
Transvaal by the convention of 1881 would 'provide for the full
liberty and equal treatment of the entire white population, guard the
interests of the natives, and promote harmony and good-will among the
various races in South Africa.'[43] As a matter of fact, the only
change in the political position of the English residents in the
Transvaal was that the period of naturalisation was extended from one
to five years--a change which appears to have produced little or no
commotion in the Republic.

The convention of 1881 was, however, extremely unpopular among a large
section of the Boer population. Complete independence was their avowed
object, and in order to attain it their first task was to abolish the
suzerainty of Great Britain. Almost immediately after the convention
was signed, the limitations of the Transvaal established by the
convention were flagrantly disregarded by Transvaal filibusters, who
proceeded with the tacit and even with the avowed countenance of their
Government to place new sections of native territory under the
exclusive protectorate of the Transvaal Government;[44] and a
deputation, headed by President Kruger, came to England in 1883 for
the purpose of negotiating with the Colonial Office for the abolition
of the chief articles of the convention of 1881. They avowed with
complete frankness that absolute independence would alone satisfy
them, and that their desire was to revert to the Sand River convention
of 1852, by which this independence had been recognised. This demand
was absolutely rejected by the Imperial Government, but Lord Derby
attempted to meet the objections of the Transvaal leaders by
substituting for the articles of the convention of 1881 new articles
in several respects more favourable to the pretensions of the Boers.

He, in the first place, made a sentimental concession to which it is
probable he attached little importance, but which was regarded by the
Boer population as a considerable step towards the achievement of
their independence. The term 'Transvaal State,' which was accepted in
the convention of 1881 as the designation of the new State, was
dropped and the old title of 'South African Republic' was revived and
recognised. The question of suzerainty was dealt with in a somewhat
ambiguous fashion. The new convention purported only to substitute new
articles in the place of those of the preceding convention; and it was
afterwards argued that the old preamble, which asserted at once the
internal independence of the Transvaal and the suzerainty of Great
Britain, remained in force. In fact, however, this preamble was
neither reprinted nor replaced in the new convention, and the term
'suzerainty,' which occurred in the original draft of the document,
was deliberately expunged--it is said by Lord Derby himself. He
considered the term wholly wanting in the precision which is desirable
in a treaty arrangement, that it was capable of many different degrees
of extension, and that the fact of the paramountcy of Great Britain
over the new State might be sufficiently established without the use
of an ambiguous word which excited the most bitter hostility in the
Transvaal. His own words in defending his conduct in the House of
Lords are perfectly clear. 'The word suzerainty,' he said, 'is a very
vague word, and I do not think it is capable of any precise legal
definition. Whatever we may understand by it, I think it is not very
easy to define. But I apprehend whether you call it a protectorate, or
a suzerainty, or the recognition of England as a paramount Power, the
fact is that a certain controlling power is retained when the State
which exercises this suzerainty has a right to veto any negotiation
into which the dependent State may enter with foreign Powers. Whatever
suzerainty meant in the convention of Pretoria (1881), the condition
of things which it implies still remains; although the word is not
actually employed, we have kept the substance. We have abstained from
using the word because it was not capable of legal definition, and
because it seemed to be a word which was likely to lead to
misconception and misunderstanding.'

The articles of the previous convention relating to slavery, to native
rights, to free trade, to religious liberty, to the rights of
residence of foreigners in the Transvaal, reappear in the new
convention, and the limits of the State were somewhat more fully
defined, but the controlling power of Great Britain over the foreign
policy of the Transvaal, though clearly reasserted, was somewhat
limited in its scope. It was provided that the South African Republic
should conclude no treaty or engagement with any State or nation other
than the Orange Free State, or with any native tribe to the eastward
or westward of the Republic, until the same had been approved by the
Queen; that every such treaty should be at once submitted to her
Majesty's Government for her consent, but that this consent should be
presumed to have been granted if no notification to the contrary was
received within six months. The desire of the Transvaal authorities to
be recognised as representing an independent sovereign power was thus
distinctly rejected, and the English Government positively refused a
proposal to admit foreign arbitration in cases of dispute between
England and the Transvaal.

This convention has been severely censured by later writers on the
ground of the insufficiency and ambiguity of its assertion of the
paramount authority of Great Britain over the Transvaal, and of its
failure to do anything to supply the great deficiency in the preceding
convention by an article securing political equality for the British
population within it. A few years later, when an immense English
immigration had taken place, not only with the consent but at the
express invitation of the Transvaal Government; when the English
element formed a large majority of the inhabitants of the State; when
they paid an enormous preponderance of its taxation, and were the
chief agents in developing its wealth and raising it from the position
of a very poor pastoral community into that of a great and wealthy
State, the Transvaal Government proceeded to impose upon the new
emigrants disqualifications and disabilities which were utterly
unknown when England conceded self-government to 'the inhabitants of
the Transvaal.' They completely deprived the vast majority of
political power or local self-government, and surrounded them at every
turn with the most irritating disabilities. The Transvaal became the
one part of South Africa where one white race was held in a position
of inferiority to another. At a time when perfect equality was enjoyed
by the Dutch population in our own colonies, the political
disqualification of the English race was made the very corner-stone of
the policy of the Transvaal Government. An annual revenue greatly in
excess of what was required for its internal government was raised
almost entirely from the taxation of an unrepresented class, to whom
the prosperity of the State was mainly due, and it was employed in
accumulating a great armament which could only be intended for use
against England and for maintaining the subjection of an English

This was the position to which the paramount Power in South Africa,
the Power which of its own free will had conceded a limited
independence to the Transvaal, found itself reduced. And yet it was
possible for the Boer Government to maintain that there was nothing in
all this legislation which was inconsistent with the terms of the
convention of 1884.

I do not think that the justice of this criticism can be wholly
denied. The Transvaal authorities had already given clear intimation
of their desire to emancipate themselves from all British control, and
especially of their determination to disregard the limitations which
had been imposed on the expansion of their State. There is, however,
one very material fact to be remembered in judging the policy of Lord
Derby. At the time of the convention of 1884 the English population in
the Transvaal was a small, scattered, and powerless minority, and as
their numbers were far too scanty to make them a danger to the State,
there was not much reason to believe that the Transvaal authorities
would repudiate their own assurances and subject them to oppressive
disabilities. It was not until two years after the convention that the
vast gold-mines of the Transvaal were discovered and all the
conditions of the South African problem fundamentally changed. The
gigantic immigration that ensued reversed the proportion between the
two races. The revenue and the expenditure of the State multiplied
more than fifteen fold in little more than ten years.[45] The
Transvaal became the most powerful and wealthy State in South Africa,
and the great preponderance of the Outlander element in numbers,
wealth, energy, and industry rendered a conflict of races almost
inevitable. No statesman could have foreseen this change, and a
convention that might have allayed discontent if the gold-mines had
never been discovered, proved wholly inefficient to meet it.

Though in a politician of the stamp of Lord Derby the change from a very
liberal conservatism to a very conservative liberalism involved little
real modification of opinion, it necessarily involved some change of
attitude, and on some questions he spoke with a freedom which would have
been impossible as a member of the Conservative party. On Church
questions, for example, while strongly maintaining that the country was
not ripe for the disestablishment of the Church in England, he declared
that in his opinion the exclusive alliance of one religious denomination
among many with the State could not be permanently maintained side by
side with a democratic representation--that disestablishment and at
least partial disendowment must ultimately come; that if the
representatives of Scotland desired the disestablishment of their
Church, it was not for Englishmen to oppose them; and that Wales had a
strong claim to be separately dealt with. 'The Welsh people constitute
in many respects a distinct nationality, and I do not see why we should
refuse to Welsh loyalty what we have granted to Irish sedition.' On the
subject of endowments indeed as early as 1875 his view was that of most
moderate Liberals. 'To my mind, so far as right is concerned, the
Legislature may do what it chooses in regard to any endowment, without
injustice, provided only that the rights of living individuals are
respected. How far it is politic to use that power is another matter....
Respect the founder's object, but use your own discretion as to the
means. If you don't do the first, you will have no new endowments. If
you neglect the last, those which you have will be of no use.'[46] He
maintained that the question of local government had in England become
one of pressing importance, and that the administration of county
affairs must be put into the hands of elective bodies. He would give
those local parliaments very large power--but he most urgently insisted
on the importance of one restriction. The new bodies must not be given
an unlimited power of mortgaging the future. The gradual reduction of
the National Debt had been for some years one of the chief aims of
enlightened politicians, but all that had been done in this direction
would be undone if, side by side with the National Debt, there grew up a
municipal debt of perhaps equal amount. In this tendency to municipal
extravagance he saw one of the gravest menaces to property. 'The growth
of Socialism throughout Europe has followed very closely on the gigantic
increase of national indebtedness during the present century, and men
who begin to feel the pressure intolerable are apt to raise questions,
more easily stated than solved, as to the right of any State to impose
burdens in perpetuity for the benefit of one generation.' He urged that
every local body which contracted a debt should be under a statutory
obligation to provide for its repayment in fifty or sixty years at

The growth of municipal indebtedness; the excessive tendency to
increase the functions of the State; the disaffection of Ireland and
the contingency of an isolated and disloyal body of some eighty Irish
representatives offering their services to any party which would
consent to carry out their designs, appeared to Lord Derby the chief
dangers of English domestic politics. The last danger was very
speedily realised, and the sudden conversion of Mr. Gladstone to Home
Rule produced one more change in the attitude of Lord Derby. On this
question he had never flinched or wavered, and he at once took his
place in the front rank of the Liberal Unionists, whom for some time
he led in the House of Lords. I do not know that the Unionist case has
ever been more powerfully put forward than in his speeches on the
subject, and the eminently judicial character of his mind, and his
entire freedom from all mere party bias, gave a special weight to his
advocacy. With this exception he took little part in party politics
during the last years of his life, but he devoted himself largely to
social questions, and among other things served with great assiduity
and ability on the Labour Commission. His last speech was delivered at
Manchester on the unveiling of the statue of Mr. Bright in October
1891. His last public work was that of presiding over the Labour
Commission in May 1892. In the preceding year an attack of influenza,
followed by a relapse, had shattered a health which had hitherto been
robust. Other complications ensued, and he passed away at Knowsley on
April 21, 1893, in his sixty-seventh year.

The foregoing sketch will, I hope, have given a sufficient idea of his
public character. Few men have made a greater sacrifice of ambition to
a conscientious conviction than he did, when, rather than support a
measure which might lead to war, he abandoned the Conservative
Ministry in 1878. He was then the fully recognised successor of Lord
Beaconsfield, and if he had adopted a different course he would in a
short time have been, beyond all doubt, Prime Minister of England. On
the whole, however, the severance from old friends cost him, I
believe, far more than the sacrifice of his political prospects.
Whatever he may have been in his youth, he was certainly not in mature
life an ambitious man. With the great position he held in England the
world had little to offer him, and the self-knowledge which was not
the least of his many remarkable gifts showed him that party conflict
was not the sphere in which Nature intended him to move. With many of
the qualities of the highest statesmanship he wanted some necessary
ingredients of a great statesman. He wanted the power of appealing to
the imagination and moving the passions. He wanted more decision of
character, more power of initiative, more capacity of bearing lightly
the weight of a great responsibility. His belief that the House of
Lords must always ultimately yield to the House of Commons aggravated
a weakness of resolution which was deeply rooted in his nature. There
were moments when his inveterate moderation tended to exasperate, and
he was accused, not altogether without reason, of sometimes making
admirable speeches, pointing out in the clearest terms all the evils
and dangers of a measure, and then concluding by exhorting the House
of Lords to vote for it, introducing mitigating amendments in
Committee. The measures he treated in this way usually, as he had
predicted, became law, but this was not the attitude of a great
leader. During a considerable part of his career, like a very large
proportion of moderate men in England, he was in the embarrassing
position of agreeing substantially with the home policy of one party
and with the foreign policy of the other. After the death of Lord
Palmerston an element of passion was infused into public life which
was very uncongenial to his temperament, and English politics passed
into phases in which caution, character, judgment, and knowledge were
less prized than brilliant strokes that appealed to the popular
imagination, clever coalitions, a skilful barter of principles for
votes. In spheres governed by such methods Lord Derby was very useful,
but he was not likely to play a foremost part.

To few men who have taken a conspicuous part in active politics was
the excitement of such an existence so little necessary. Happy in his
domestic life and in a companionship and sympathy which were
all-sufficient to him, he was not less happy in the wide range of his
interests and duties. The administration of his vast estate would have
been more than sufficient to tax the energies of most men, and it
was, I believe, universally acknowledged that it was admirably
administered. In the everyday affairs of practical life he had no
indecision, and he judged swiftly with the clearest of judgments.
Nothing about him was more remarkable than the apparent ease and the
absence of all hurry and confusion with which he could deal with many
different forms of work. His study in its perfect neatness was more
like a lady's boudoir than the workshop of a very busy man. _Ohne
Hast, ohne Rast_, might have been his motto. He had much belief in the
future of English land, and was not, I think, at all exempt from the
great English landlord's foible of adding field to field. In the long
period of agricultural depression it was easy for a rich man to do so.
'In my experience,' he used to say, 'in nine cases out of ten it is
Naboth who comes to Ahab and begs him to buy his vineyard.' Certainly
no one had reason to complain, for there were few better or more
popular landlords than Lord Derby. In many long walks with him through
his property I was always struck with the evident pleasure with which
he was welcomed by his people, the fulness of knowledge and the
kindness of interest with which he inquired into the circumstances of
every tenant. It is characteristic of him that only two days before
his death he was giving instructions for building a hospital for the
sick poor of Knowsley. I have known few men in whom the desire to make
everyone about them happy was so strongly and so clearly marked. He
was fond of looking minutely into the circumstances of men of
different classes, and comparing their wants with their means, often
with somewhat whimsical results. There was a tradesman who made
regularly 5_l._ a week; who was accustomed every week to devote 2_l._
to his household expenses, to lay by 2_l._, and to employ the
remainder in getting drunk. He was, Lord Derby thought, the only man
he had ever known who satisfied all his wants with 40 per cent. of his
income, who always laid by 40 per cent., and who expended 20 per cent.
on his pleasures.

Outside his property Lord Derby had strong county interests. With
perhaps the exception of Birmingham there is no part of England where
a distinctive local patriotism is so intensely developed as in
Lancashire, and Lord Derby in tastes and character was pre-eminently a
Lancashire man, very proud of the greatness, and deeply concerned in
the interests, of his county. In all the vicissitudes of his career,
Liverpool, I believe, never wavered in its attachment to him. He
contributed to the many charitable and philanthropic works with which
he was concerned not only much money, but also--what in so rich a man
was far more meritorious--an extraordinary amount of time and patient
supervision. Among the many offices he accepted, was president of the
Literary Fund for dispensing charity to needy authors, and on the
committee of that charity I had, during many years, ample opportunity
of observing how far he was from treating a presidential position as a
sinecure. The regularity of his attendance, the constant attention he
paid to every detail of the charity; the infinite pains which he would
bestow upon obscure cases of distress, marked him out as a model
president, and many of those whom our rules did not allow us to help
were assisted by his bounty. He contributed with a large but
discriminating generosity to many causes that were conspicuous in the
eyes of the world, but his special bias was towards unostentatious
and unobserved benevolence, and crowds of obscure men in obscure
positions were assisted by him.

Those who did not know him, and those who had come in merely casual
contact with him, sometimes formed a false impression of his
character. He had a great deal of natural shyness. He had very little
of the gift of small talk. On occasions of mere show and in
uncongenial atmospheres he was apt to be awkward and embarrassed, and
when walking by himself he was extremely absent and quite capable of
brushing against his oldest friend with a complete unconsciousness of
his presence. These traits sometimes gave rise to natural
misinterpretations, which a fuller knowledge always dispelled. No one
who knew Lord Derby could fail to feel that his nature was one of the
most genuine and transparent simplicity, singularly free from all
tinge of arrogance, superciliousness, and acrimony. His personal
tastes were exceedingly simple, and there was not a particle of
ostentation in his character. He delighted in a quiet country life and
had a strong sense of natural beauty. In his youth he had been an
ardent mountaineer, and in later life he had few greater pleasures
than to watch the growth of his plantations. He calculated that he had
planted in his lifetime about two million of trees.

He was among the best-read men I have ever known. His private library
was one of the finest in England, and he took a keen interest in it. A
love of sumptuous, large-paper editions was indeed one of the very few
luxuries in which from mere personal taste he greatly indulged. Like
all men of literary tastes he had his limitations. German was a closed
book to him. Theology and metaphysics were conspicuous by their
absence. He was certainly not drawn to the mystical, the
unintelligible, or the morbid, either in imaginative or speculative
literature, and although he was a great lover and great buyer of
water-colour pictures, I do not think he had much real sense or
knowledge of art. But he had read very extensively and with great
profit and discrimination in many widely different fields, and his
memory was unusually retentive. He was an excellent literary critic,
and if clear thought and accurate knowledge were what he most valued,
it would be a complete mistake to suppose that he was insensible to
the poetic and imaginative side of literature. He could repeat long
passages from 'Childe Harold,' and I can well remember the delight
which he took in the picturesque narrative of Mr. Froude, and in the
fiery verses of Sir Alfred Lyall.

He was one of the kindest and most gracious of hosts, and his genuine
unforced good nature and good humour drew to him many whose tastes and
sympathies were widely different from his own. Nature certainly never
intended him for a sportsman, but he preserved game extensively and
until the last years of his life usually went out with his guests. 'I
rather like shooting,' he once said to me, 'it prevents the necessity
of general conversation.' Among kindred spirits, however, his own
conversation was eminently attractive. His wide knowledge both of
books and men, his vast range of political anecdote, his experience of
so many statesmen and offices and departments of life, made it
singularly instructive. He was a very shrewd, and at the same time a
very kind, judge of character; and he had a power, which is certainly
not common, of fully appreciating merits that are allied with great
and manifest defects. He had much quaint, dry humour, and a great
happiness of expression; and one always felt that his opinions were
genuinely thought out--that they were voices and not echoes. His
private conversation had the quality that I have noticed in his
public speeches, of grasping at once the essential elements of a
question and disencumbering it from accessories and details. It is one
of the qualities that add most to the charm of conversation, and, with
the exception of Lord Russell, I do not think I have met with anyone
who possessed it to a greater degree than Lord Derby. He delighted in
long walks with one or two friends, and he might be seen to great
advantage in some small dining-clubs which play a larger part than is
generally recognised in the best English social life of our time. He
had been a member of Grillion's for thirty-seven years, but the
society to which he was most attached was, I think, 'The Club' which
was founded by Johnson and Reynolds. During the nineteen years of
which I can speak from personal experience, he was an almost constant
attendant, and certainly no other member enjoyed a greater popularity
in it, or contributed more largely to its charm.

He hated cant of all kinds, and had a great distrust of ostentatious
professions of lofty motives. He disliked, I think greatly, the habit
of dragging sacred names into party speeches, and attributing every
party manoeuvre to a solemn sense of duty. Language of this kind
will never be found in his speeches, but I have known few men who were
governed through life more steadily though more unobtrusively by a
sense of duty. He always tried to look facts in the face, and to
promote in the many spheres which he could influence the real
happiness of men. There have been statesmen among his contemporaries
of greater power and of more brilliant achievement. There has been, I
believe, no statesman of sounder judgment and more disinterested
patriotism; there have been very few whose departure has left a void
in so many spheres.


[43] See, on this subject, Cook's _Rights and Wrongs of the Transvaal
War_, pp. 260-265.

[44] See Westlake's _L'Angleterre et les Républiques Boers_, pp. 30-31.

[45] See the table of revenue and expenditure in Fitzpatrick's
_Transvaal from Within_, p. 71.

[46] Inaugural address at Edinburgh University.


Although it has never been the custom of the 'Edinburgh Review' to
withdraw the veil of anonymity from its writers and its
administration, it would be mere affectation to suffer it to appear
before the public without some allusion to the great editor whom we
have just lost,[47] and who for forty years has watched with
indefatigable care over its pages.

The career of Mr. Henry Reeve is perhaps the most striking
illustration in our time of how little in English life influence is
measured by notoriety. To the outer world his name was but little
known. He is remembered as the translator of Tocqueville, as the
editor of the 'Greville Memoirs,' as the author of a not quite
forgotten book on Royal and Republican France, showing much knowledge
of French literature and politics; as the holder during fifty years of
the respectable, but not very prominent, post of Registrar of the
Privy Council. To those who have a more intimate knowledge of the
political and literary life of England, it is well known that during
nearly the whole of his long life he was a powerful and living force
in English literature; that few men of his time have filled a larger
place in some of the most select circles of English social life; and
that he exercised during many years a political influence such as
rarely falls to the lot of any Englishman outside Parliament, or even
outside the Cabinet.

He was born at Norwich in 1813, and brought up in a highly cultivated,
and even brilliant, literary circle. His father, Dr. Reeve, was one of
the earliest contributors to the 'Edinburgh Review.' The Austins, the
Opies, the Taylors, and the Aldersons were closely related to him, and
he is said to have been indebted to his gifted aunt, Sarah Austin, for
his appointment in the Privy Council. The family income was not large,
and a great part of Mr. Reeve's education took place on the Continent,
chiefly at Geneva and Munich. He went with excellent introductions,
and the years he spent abroad were abundantly fruitful. He learned
German so well that he was at one time a contributor to a German
periodical. He was one of the rare Englishmen who spoke French almost
like a Frenchman, and at a very early age he formed friendships with
several eminent French writers. His translation of the 'Democracy in
America,' by Tocqueville, which appeared in 1835, strengthened his
hold on French society. Two years later he obtained the appointment in
the Privy Council, which he held until 1887. It was in this office
that he became the colleague and fast friend of Charles Greville, who
on his death-bed entrusted him with the publication of his 'Memoirs.'

Mr. Reeve had now obtained an assured income and a steady occupation,
but it was far from satisfying his desire for work. He became a
contributor, and very soon a leading contributor, to the 'Times,'
while his close and confidential intercourse with Mr. Delane gave him
a considerable voice in its management. The penny newspaper was still
unborn, and the 'Times' at this period was the undisputed monarch of
the Press, and exercised an influence over public opinion, both in
England and on the Continent, such as no existing paper can be said
to possess. It is, we believe, no exaggeration to say that for the
space of fifteen years nearly every article that appeared in its
columns on foreign politics was written by Mr. Reeve, and the period
during which he wrote for it included the year 1848, when foreign
politics had the most transcendent importance.

The great political influence which he at this time exercised
naturally drew him into close connection with many of the chief
statesmen of his time. With Lord Clarendon especially his friendship
was close and confidential, and he received from that statesman almost
weekly letters during his viceroyalty in Ireland and during others of
the more critical periods of his career. In France, Mr. Reeve's
connections were scarcely less numerous than in England. Guizot,
Thiers, Cousin, Tocqueville, Villemain, Circourt--in fact, nearly all
the leading figures in French literature and politics during the reign
of Louis Philippe were among his friends or correspondents. He was at
all times singularly international in his sympathies and friendships,
and he appears to have been more than once made the channel of
confidential communications between English and French statesmen.

It was a task for which he was eminently suited. The qualities which
most impressed all who came into close communication with him were the
strength, swiftness, and soundness of his judgment, and his unfailing
tact and discretion in dealing with delicate questions. He was
eminently a man of the world, and had quite as much knowledge of men
as of books. Probably few men of his time have been so frequently and
so variously consulted. He always spoke with confidence and authority,
and his clear, keen-cut, decisive sentences, a certain stateliness of
manner which did not so much claim as assume ascendancy, and a
somewhat elaborate formality of courtesy which was very efficacious in
repelling intruders, sometimes concealed from strangers the softer
side of his character. But those who knew him well soon learnt to
recognise the genuine kindliness of his nature, his remarkable skill
in avoiding friction, and the rare steadiness of his friendships.

One great source of his influence was the just belief in his complete
independence and disinterestedness. For a very able man his ambition
was singularly moderate. As he once said, he had made it his object
throughout life only to aim at things which were well within his
power. He had very little respect for the judgment of the multitude,
and he cared nothing for notoriety and not much for dignities. A
moderate competence, congenial work, a sphere of wide and genuine
influence, a close and intimate friendship with a large proportion of
the guiding spirits of his time, were the things he really valued, and
all these he fully attained. He had great conversational powers, which
never degenerated into monologue, a singularly equable, happy, and
sanguine temperament, and a keen delight in cultivated society. These
characteristics showed conspicuously in two small and very select
dining-clubs which have included most of the distinguished English
statesmen and men of letters of the century. He became a member of the
Literary Society in 1857 and of Dr. Johnson's Club in 1861, and it is
a remarkable evidence of the appreciation of his social tact that both
bodies speedily selected him as their treasurer. He held that position
in 'The Club' from 1868 till within a year of his death, when failing
health and absence from London obliged him to relinquish it. The
French Institute elected him 'Correspondant' in 1863 and Associated
Member in 1888, in which latter dignity he succeeded Sir Henry Maine.
In 1869 the University of Oxford conferred on him the honorary degree
of D.C.L.

It was in 1855, on the death of Sir George Cornewall Lewis, that he
assumed the editorship of the 'Edinburgh Review' which he retained
till the day of his death. Both on the political and the literary side
he was in full harmony with its traditions. His rare and minute
knowledge of recent English and foreign political history; his vast
fund of political anecdote; his personal acquaintance with so many of
the chief actors on the political scene, both in England and France,
gave a great weight and authority to his judgments, and his mind was
essentially of the Whig cast. He was a genuine Liberal of the school
of Russell, Palmerston, Clarendon, and Cornewall Lewis. It was a sober
and tolerant Liberalism, rooted in the traditions of the past, and
deeply attached to the historical elements in the Constitution. The
dislike and distrust with which he had always viewed the progress of
democracy deepened with age, and it was his firm conviction that it
could never become the permanent basis of good government. Like most
men of his type of thought and character, he was strongly repelled by
the later career of Mr. Gladstone, and the Home Rule policy at last
severed him definitely from the bulk of the Liberal party. From this
time the present Duke of Devonshire was the leader of his party.

His literary judgments had much analogy to his political ones. His
leanings were all towards the old standards of thought and style. He
had been formed in the school of Macaulay and Milman, and of the great
French writers under Louis Philippe. Sober thought, clear reasoning,
solid scholarship, a transparent, vivid, and restrained style were the
literary qualities he most appreciated. He was a great purist,
inexorably hostile to a new word. In philosophy he was a devoted
disciple of Kant, and his decided orthodoxy in religious belief
affected many of his judgments. He could not appreciate Carlyle; he
looked with much distrust on Darwinism and the philosophy of Herbert
Spencer and he had very little patience with some of the moral and
intellectual extravagances of modern literature. But, according to his
own standards and in the wide range of his own subjects, his literary
judgment was eminently sound, and he was quick and generous in
recognising rising eminence. In at least one case the first
considerable recognition of a prominent historian was an article in
the 'Edinburgh Review' from his pen.

He had a strong sense of the responsibility of an editor, and
especially of the editor of a Review of unsigned articles. No article
appeared which he did not carefully consider. His powerful
individuality was deeply stamped upon the Review, and he carefully
maintained its unity and consistency of sentiments. It was one of the
chief occupations and pleasures of his closing days, and the very last
letter he dictated referred to it.

Time, as might be expected, had greatly thinned the circle of his
friends. Of the France which he knew so well scarcely anything
remained, but his old friend and senior Barthélemy Saint-Hilaire
visited him at Christ Church, and he kept up to the end a warm
friendship with the Duc d'Aumale. He spent his eightieth birthday at
Chantilly, and until the very last year of his life he was never
absent when the Duke dined at 'The Club.' In Lord Derby he lost the
statesman with whom in his later years he was most closely connected
by private friendship and political sympathy, while the death of Lady
Stanley of Alderley deprived him of an attached and lifelong friend.

Growing infirmities prevented him in his latter days from mixing much
in general society in London, but his life was brightened by all that
loving companionship could give; his mental powers were unfaded, and
he could still enjoy the society of younger friends. He looked forward
to the end with a perfect and a most characteristic calm, without fear
and without regret. It was the placid close of a long, dignified, and
useful life.


[47] Mr. Reeve died October 21, 1895.--ED.


The great prominence which the High Church movement has assumed in the
ecclesiastical history of England during the second and third quarters
of the nineteenth century, and the extraordinary success with which it
has permeated the Established Church by its influence, have led some
writers to exaggerate not a little the place which it occupied in the
general intellectual development of the time. In the universities, it
is true, it long exercised an extraordinary influence, and Mr.
Gladstone, who was by far the most remarkable layman whom it
profoundly influenced, was accustomed to say that for at least a
generation almost the whole of the best intellect of Oxford was
controlled by it. It possessed in Newman a writer of most striking and
undoubted genius. In an age remarkable for brilliancy of style he was
one of the greatest masters of English prose. His power of drawing
subtle distinctions and pursuing long trains of subtle reasoning made
him one of the most skilful of controversialists, and he had a great
insight into spiritual cravings and an admirable gift of interpreting
and appealing to many forms of religious emotion. But though he was a
man of rare, delicate, and most seductive genius, we have sometimes
doubted whether any of his books are destined to take a permanent and
considerable place in English literature. He was not a great scholar,
or an original and independent thinker. Dealing with questions
inseparably connected with historical evidence, he had neither the
judicial spirit nor the firm grasp of a real historian, and he had
very little skill in measuring probabilities and degrees of evidence.
He had a manifest incapacity, which was quite as much moral as
intellectual, for looking facts in the face and pursuing trains of
thought to unwelcome conclusions. He often took refuge from them in
clouds of casuistry. The scepticism which was a marked feature of his
intellect allied itself closely with credulity, for it was directed
against reason itself; and though he has expressed in admirable
language many true and beautiful thoughts, the glamour of his style
too often concealed much weakness and uncertainty of judgment and much
sophistry in argument.

Many of those who co-operated with him were men of great learning and
distinguished ability. No one will question the patristic knowledge of
Pusey, the metaphysical acumen of Ward, the genuine vein of religious
poetry in Keble and Faber, the wide accomplishments and scholarly
criticism of Church. But on the whole the broad stream of English
thought has gone in other directions. In politics the Oxford movement
had brilliant representatives in Gladstone and Selborne, but the ideal
of the relations of Church and State and the ideal of education to
which the Oxford school aspired, have been absolutely discarded. The
universities have been secularised. The Irish Established Church,
which it was one of the first objects of the party to defend, has been
abolished by Gladstone himself, and although the English Established
Church retains its hold on the affections of the nation, it is
defended by its most skilful supporters on very different grounds and
by very different arguments from those which were put forward by the
Oxford divines. Among the foremost names in lay literature during the
fifty years we are considering, it is curious to observe how few were
even touched by the movement. Froude is an exception, but he speedily
repudiated it. The mediæval sympathies that were sometimes shown by
Ruskin sprang from a wholly different source. Macaulay, Carlyle,
Hallam, Grote, Mill, Buckle, Tennyson, Browning, and the great
novelists, from Dickens to George Eliot, all wrote very much as they
might have written if the movement had never existed. An unusual
proportion of the best intellect of England passed into the fields of
physical science, and the methods of reasoning and habits of thought
which they inculcated were wholly out of harmony with the school of
Newman, while both geology and Darwinism have made serious incursions
into long-cherished beliefs. Even in the Church itself, though the
High Church movement was stronger than any other, great deductions
have to be made. The school of independent Biblical criticism, which
in various degrees has come to be generally accepted, certainly owed
nothing to it, and several of the most illustrious Churchmen of this
period were wholly alien to it. Thirlwall and Merivale were
conspicuous examples, but they devoted themselves chiefly to great
works of secular history. Arnold--who was one of the strongest
personal influences of his age, and whose influence was both
perpetuated and widened by Dean Stanley--and Whately, who was one of
the most independent and original thinkers of the nineteenth century,
were strongly antagonistic. In the field of ecclesiastical history it
might have been expected that a school which was at once so scholarly
and so wedded to tradition would have been pre-eminent, but no
ecclesiastical histories which England has produced can, on the whole,
be placed on as high a level as those which were written by the great
Broad Church divine whose name stands at the head of this article.

Milman was, indeed, a man well deserving of commemoration on account
of the works which he produced, yet it is perhaps not too much to say
that to those among whom he lived the man seemed even greater than his
works. For many years he was a central and most popular figure in the
best English literary society, and he reckoned most of the leading
intellects of his day among his friends. He was in an extraordinary
degree many-sided, both in his knowledge and his sympathies. He was an
admirable critic, and the eminent sanity of his judgment, as well as
the eminent kindness of his nature, combined with a great charm both
of manner and of conversation. Few men of his time had more friends,
and were more admired, consulted, and loved.

Mr. Arthur Milman has sketched his father's life in one short
volume,[48] written in excellent English and with uniformly good
taste. We have read it with much interest, yet in laying it down it is
impossible not to be sensible how much of the personal charm which was
so conspicuous in its subject has passed beyond recovery. More than
thirty years have gone by since the old Dean was laid in his grave,
and but few of those who knew him intimately survive. He appears to
have kept no journal. He wrote nothing autobiographical, and he had a
strong sense of the chasm that should separate private from public
life. It was wholly contrary to his unegotistical nature to make the
great public the confidant of his domestic affairs or of his inner
feelings, and he was deeply sensible of the injustice which is so
often done by biographers in printing unguarded, unqualified opinions
and judgments, expressed in the freedom of private correspondence. He
acted sternly on this view. Many of the foremost men in England were
among his correspondents, but he deliberately burnt their letters. 'I
could never bear,' we have heard him say, 'that what was written to me
by dear friends in the most unreserved and absolute confidence should,
through my fault, be one day dragged before the public.' This
reticence and this strong feeling of the sanctity of friendship and
private correspondence, which is now becoming very rare, was one of
his most characteristic traits, but it has necessarily deprived his
biography of many elements of interest.

He was the youngest son of Sir Francis Milman, the well-known
physician of George III. He was born in 1791, and educated at Eton and
Oxford, where he soon distinguished himself as one of the most
brilliant of students. He won the Newdigate in 1812, the Chancellor's
prize for Latin verse in 1813, the prize for English and Latin essays
in 1816. He obtained a first class in classics, and in 1815 he was
elected a Fellow of his college. He was ordained in the following
year, and a year later Lord Eldon, who was then Chancellor of the
university, nominated him to the vicarage of St. Mary at Reading,
where he spent eighteen happy and fruitful years. Like most young and
brilliant men, he first turned to verse, and for several years he
poured out in rapid succession a number of dramas and poems which have
been collected in three substantial volumes. The tragedy of 'Fazio'
was written when he was still at Oxford, and it was speedily followed
by a long and ambitious epic poem called 'Samor, Lord of the Bright
City'; by three elaborate sacred dramas, the 'Fall of Jerusalem,' the
'Martyr of Antioch,' and 'Belshazzar'; and by an historical tragedy on
'Anne Boleyn,' as well as by a few minor poems.

Some of these works had considerable popularity. 'Fazio' for many
years held its place on the stage. Byron, in one of his letters to
Rogers, speaks of its 'great and deserved success' when it was brought
out at Covent Garden. Its heroine was a favourite part of Miss O'Neil
and of Fanny Kemble. It was translated into Italian by Del Ongaro for
Ristori, who acted it with admirable power, and there was also a
French translation or adaptation in which Mademoiselle Mars took part.
The 'Fall of Jerusalem' was never intended for the stage, but it had a
great literary success. Murray, who had given only a hundred and fifty
guineas for 'Fazio,' gave five hundred for the 'Fall of Jerusalem,'
and he gave the same sum both for the 'Martyr of Antioch' and for
'Belshazzar,' which succeeded it. Neither of these, however, proved as
popular as the 'Fall of Jerusalem,' but the 'Martyr of Antioch'
contains that noble funeral ode beginning 'Brother, thou art gone
before us, and thy saintly soul is flown,' which is familiar to
numbers who are probably not aware of its authorship. It is worthy of
notice that as recently as 1880 Sir Arthur Sullivan set the 'Martyr of
Antioch' to music and brought it out at the Leeds Festival, where it
achieved an immediate and brilliant success, and was frequently
performed.[49] On the other hand, 'Samor' and 'Anne Boleyn' were
almost absolute failures, and, on the whole, the longer poems of
Milman have not retained their popularity, and probably now rarely
find a reader.

Those who turn to them will certainly be struck by the command of
language and metre they display. It was shown both in rhyme and in
blank verse. Many fine odes are scattered through them, and in the
octo-syllabic verse Milman always appears to us peculiarly happy. But
his poetry, like most of the poetry that was written under the Byronic
influence, was rather the poetry of rhetoric than of imagination, and
it wanted both the intensity and the concentration of the great
master. Stately, sonorous, fluent, unfailingly lucid, it was too
lengthy and too artificial, and Lockhart was not wholly wrong in
pronouncing that it showed 'fine talents, but no genius,' and in
urging that prose rather than poetry was the vehicle in which its
author was destined to succeed. In addition, however, to the funeral
ode to which we have referred, Milman has written many hymns, and some
of these are of singular beauty. They appeared originally in the
collection of that other great hymn-writer, Bishop Heber, who was one
of his dearest friends, and one of the men to whose memory he looked
back with the fondest affection. The Good Friday hymn, 'Bound upon th'
accursèd tree,' the Palm Sunday hymn, 'Ride on, ride on in majesty,'
and perhaps still more that exquisitely pathetic hymn (so often
misprinted in modern hymn-books) beginning

    When our heads are bowed with woe,
    When our bitter tears o'erflow,

have long since taken their permanent place in devotional literature.

In another and very different field of poetry also he greatly
excelled. He was an admirable example of that highly finished and
fastidious classical scholarship which is, or was, the pride of our
great public schools, and he took great pleasure in translations from
the classics. He translated into verse the 'Agamemnon' of Æschylus,
and the 'Bacchanals' of Euripides, and also a great number of small
and much less known poems. He held the professorship of poetry at
Oxford from 1821 to 1831, and as his lectures, according to the custom
which then prevailed, were delivered in Latin, he had the happy
thought of diversifying them by English metrical translations of the
different poems he treated. They range over a wide field of obscure
Greek poets, as well as of epitaphs, votive inscriptions, and
inscriptions relating to the fine arts, and in addition to these there
are translations from Sanscrit poetry--a branch of knowledge which was
then very little cultivated, and to which Milman was greatly
attracted. These poems the author published in 1865, but the lectures
in which they were produced he committed to the flames. They had, in
his opinion, lost their value through the subsequent publication of
the works on the history of Greek literature by Bode, Ulrici, Otfried
Müller, and Mure.

In prose his pen was exceedingly active. In 1820 he began his long
connection with the 'Quarterly Review,' which continued, with
occasional intervals, through more than forty years. His articles
extended over a great variety of subjects, but most of them were
essentially reviews and essentially critical. The fact that he was
both a poet and an accomplished critic of verse caused some persons to
ascribe to him the authorship of two articles which had an unhappy
reputation--the criticism which was falsely supposed to have hastened
the death of Keats, and the attack upon the 'Alastor' of Shelley, a
poet for whom Milman had a special admiration. It is now well known
that neither of these articles was by him, but it is characteristic of
his loyalty to his colleagues that he never disclaimed the authorship.
This loyalty was indeed not less conspicuous in his nature than the
singular kindness of disposition with which he ever shrank from giving
pain. After his death a few of his many essays in the 'Quarterly' were
collected in one volume. Among them there is an admirable account of
Erasmus, with whom in mental characteristics he had considerable

In 1829 appeared his first historical work, the 'History of the Jews,'
a work which excited a violent storm of theological indignation. The
crime of Milman was that he applied to Jewish history the usual canons
of historical criticism--sifting evidence, discriminating between
documents, pointing out the parallelisms between Jewish conditions and
those of other Oriental nations, and attempting to separate in the
sacred writings the parts which were essential and revealed from those
which were merely human and fallible. In a remarkable preface to a
revised and enlarged edition of this work, which was published thirty
years later, he laid down very clearly the principles that had guided
him. The Jewish writers, in his opinion, were 'men of their age and
country who, as they spoke the language, so they thought the thoughts
of their nation and their time.... They had no special knowledge on
any subject but moral and religious truth to distinguish them from
other men, and were as fallible as others on all questions of science,
and even of history, extraneous to their religious teaching.... Their
one paramount object being instruction and enlightenment in religion,
they left their hearers uninstructed and unenlightened as before in
other things.... In all other respects society, civilisation,
developed itself according to its usual laws. The Hebrew in the
wilderness, excepting as far as the law modified his manners and
habits, was an Arab of the desert. Abraham, except in his worship and
intercourse with the one true God, was a nomad Sheik.... The moral and
religious truth, and this alone, I apprehend, is "the word of God"
contained in the sacred writings.'

It must also, he contended, be always remembered that the Semitic
records are of an 'essentially Oriental, figurative, poetical cast,'
and that it is therefore wholly erroneous to suppose that every word
can be construed with the precision of an Act of Parliament or of a
simple modern historical narrative.

His attitude towards the miraculous was carefully defined. He observed
the absolute impossibility of evading the conclusion that the Jewish
writers, whether eye-witnesses or not, implicitly believed in 'the
supernaturalism, the divine or miraculous agency almost throughout the
older history of the Jews,' and that it is 'an integral, inseparable
part of the narrative.' Sometimes it is possible 'with more or less
probability to detect the naked fact which may lie beneath the
imaginative or marvellous language in which it is recorded; but even
in these cases the solution can be hardly more than conjectural.' In
other cases 'the supernatural so entirely predominates and is so of
the intimate essence of the transaction that the facts and the
interpretation must be accepted together or rejected together.' In
such cases it is the duty of the historian simply 'to relate the facts
as recorded, to adduce his authorities, and to abstain from all
explanation for which he has no ground.'

The distinction between the providential and the strictly miraculous
appears to him impossible to draw. 'Belief in Divine Providence, in
the agency of God as the Prime Mover in the Natural world as in the
mind of Man, is an inseparable part of religion. There can be no
religion without it.' But in numerous cases, to distinguish between
the simply providential and the strictly miraculous implies a
knowledge of the working of natural causes greater than we possess;
and in certain stages of civilisation, and very eminently in the
Jewish mind, there is a marked tendency to suppress secondary causes,
and to attribute not only the more extraordinary but also the common
events of life to direct divine agency. The possibility and the
reality of the miraculous he emphatically asserts.

'The palmary miracle of all, the Resurrection, stands entirely by
itself. Every attempt to resolve it into a natural event, a delusion
or hallucination in the minds of the disciples, the eye-witnesses and
death-defying witnesses to its truth, or to treat it as an allegory or
figure of speech, is to me a signal failure. It must be accepted as
the keystone--for such it is--and seal to the great Christian doctrine
of a future life, as a historical fact, or rejected as a baseless

But great numbers of what were deemed miracles may be explained by
natural causes, by figurative modes of expression which were common in
Oriental nations, by the tendency of the human mind to embellish or
exaggerate surprising facts, or invent supernatural causes for what it
is unable to explain, by the retrospective imagination which seeks to
dignify the distant past with a supernatural halo. The early annals of
all nations are strewn with pretended miracles which no one will now
maintain, and Milman shows in a powerful passage how the idea of the
miraculous has been steadily contracting and receding; how dangerous
it is to base the defence of Christianity on the evidence of miracles
rather than on appeals to the conscience, the moral sense, the innate
religiousness, the deep spiritual cravings of human nature.

Such views, though now sufficiently commonplace, seemed very novel in
England when Milman wrote. Dean Stanley described his work as 'the
first decisive inroad of German theology into England; the first
palpable indication that the Bible could be studied like another book;
that the characters and events of sacred history could be treated at
once critically and reverently.' But though Milman was very well
acquainted with German theology, he resented the notion that he was
its interpreter or representative. He contended that in restricting
the province of inspiration to the direct inculcation of religious
truth he was following a sound Anglican tradition. He quoted the
authority of Paley and Warburton, of Tillotson and Secker. In such
principles of interpretation he said he had found 'a safeguard during
a long and not unreflective life against the difficulties arising out
of the philosophical and historical researches of his time.' They had
enabled him 'to follow out all the marvellous discoveries of science,
and all those hardly less marvellous, if less certain, conclusions of
historical, ethnological, linguistic criticism, in the serene
confidence that they are utterly irrelevant to the truth of
Christianity.' 'If on such subjects,' he concluded, 'some solid ground
be not found on which highly educated, reflective, reading, reasoning
men may find firm footing, I can foresee nothing but a wide, a
widening--I fear, an irreparable--breach between the thought and the
religion of England. A comprehensive, all-embracing, truly Catholic
Christianity which knows what is essential to religion, what is
temporary and extraneous to it, may defy the world.'

These words are taken from the later preface to which we have
referred. In the same preface, and also in his 'History of
Christianity,' may be found some interesting remarks on the German
school of Biblical criticism, the greater portion of which has arisen
since the original publication of the 'History of the Jews.' In many
of its conclusions he had anticipated it, and he was quite as sensible
as the German writers of the hopelessness of seeking scientific
revelations in the Biblical narrative; of the worthlessness of most of
the common schemes for reconciling science and theology; of the
untrustworthy character of Jewish chronology and Jewish figures; of
the grave doubts that hang over the authorship and the date of some of
the books; of the necessity of making full allowance, when reading
them, for human fallibility and inaccuracy. At the same time, his
admiration for the German critics was by no means unqualified. While
fully admitting their extraordinary learning, industry, and ingenuity,
he complained that their too common infirmity was 'a passion for
making history without historical materials,' basing the most dogmatic
and positive statements upon faint indications, or upon ingenious
conjectures that could not legitimately go beyond a very low degree of
probability. The assurance with which these writers undertook by
internal evidence to decompose ancient documents, assigning each
paragraph to an independent source; the decisive weight they were
accustomed to give to slight improbabilities or coincidences, and to
small variations of style and phraseology; the confidence with which
they put forward solutions or conjectures which, however ingenious or
plausible, were based on no external evidence as if they were proved
facts, appeared to him profoundly unhistorical.

It must have been somewhat irritating to one who clung so closely to
University life, and who had been justly regarded as one of the most
brilliant of Oxford scholars, to find that his own University was
prominent in the condemnation of the 'History of the Jews.' Only two
years before he had preached with general approbation the Bampton
Lectures in defence of Christianity. His new work was again and again
condemned from the University pulpits, and among others by the
Margaret Professor of Divinity and by the Hulsean lecturer for 1832.
The clamour was naturally taken up in many other quarters, and
especially by the religious newspapers. It was noticed that 'Milman's
History' appeared in the window of Carlisle, the infidel bookseller.

'I only wish,' wrote Milman, when the fact was brought to his notice,
'all Carlisle's customers would read it. A noble lord once wrote to
the bishop of a certain diocese to complain that a baronet who lived
in the same parish brought his mistress to church, which sorely
shocked his regular family. The bishop gravely assured him that he was
very glad to hear that Sir ---- brought his naughty lady to church,
and hoped that she would profit by what she heard there and amend her
ways. So say I of Carlisle's customers.'[50]

The opinions expressed in this, as in his later works, no doubt in
some degree obstructed the promotion of Milman in the Church, but he
had no reason to regret it. Of all men, he once said, he thought he
owed most to Bishop Blomfield, for there was once a question of
offering him a bishopric, and it was a remonstrance of the Bishop of
London that prevented it. 'I am _afraid_,' he said, 'that if it had
been offered me I should have accepted it, and I should then never
have written my "Latin Christianity."' But, though he escaped the fate
which has cut short the best work of more than one distinguished
historian, his conspicuous position among the scholars and writers in
the Church was widely recognised, and he was soon transferred from a
provincial town to a central position in the Metropolis. In 1835 Sir
Robert Peel made him Rector of St. Margaret's, Westminster, and
Prebendary in the Abbey. Though continuing without intermission his
historical work, he appears to have discharged with exemplary vigour
the duties of a large and poor parish until 1849, when Lord John
Russell appointed him Dean of St. Paul's. The position was exactly
suited to him. It was one of much dignity, but also of much leisure,
and it gave him ample opportunities of pursuing the studies which were
the true work of his life.

The great subject of the history of Christianity was, indeed,
continually before him. Among other things, he studied minutely both
the text and the authorities of Gibbon, for whom he had a deep and
growing admiration. An excellent edition of Gibbon was one of the
first results. Milman's notes have been included in Smith's later
edition, and, though a large proportion of them were naturally
somewhat controversial, being devoted to refuting some of the
conclusions of the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters, it is impossible
to read them without recognising the candour as well as the learning
and the acumen of the critic. Few things that Milman has written are
finer than the preface in which, in ten or twelve masterly pages, he
sums up his estimate of his great predecessor.

The three volumes of the 'History of Christianity,' dealing with its
early history up to the period of the abolition of Paganism in the
Roman Empire, appeared in 1840, and they were followed by the six
large volumes of the 'History of Latin Christianity,' carrying the
history of the Western Church to the end of the Pontificate of
Nicholas V. in 1455. This great work was published in two
instalments--the first three volumes in 1854, and the remaining three
in the following year--and it gave its author indisputably the first
place among the ecclesiastical historians of England and a high place
among the historians of the nineteenth century. He possessed, indeed,
in an eminent degree some of the qualities that are most rare, and at
the same time most valuable, in ecclesiastical history. A large
proportion of the most learned ecclesiastical historians have been men
who have devoted their whole lives to this single department of
knowledge, who derived from it all their measures of probability and
canons of criticism, and who, treating it as an isolated and mainly
supernatural thing, have taken very little account of the intellectual
and political secular influences that have largely shaped its course.
Most of them also have been men who undertook their task with
convictions and habits of thought that were absolutely incompatible
with real independence and impartiality of judgment in estimating
either the events or the characters they described. Milman was wholly
free from these defects. His wide knowledge, his cool, critical,
admirably trained judgment, were never better shown than in the many
pages in which he has pointed out the analogies or resemblances
between Jewish and other Oriental beliefs; the manner in which
national characteristics or secular intellectual tendencies affected
theological types; the countless modifications in belief or practice
which grew up, as the Church accommodated itself to the conditions of
successive ages and entered into alliance or conflict with different
political systems; the many indirect, subtle, far-reaching ways in
which the world and the Church interacted upon each other in all the
great departments of speculation, art, industry, social and political
life. A certain aloofness and coldness of judgment in dealing with
sacred subjects was the reproach which was most frequently brought
against him. As he himself said, he wrote rather as an historian than
a religious instructor, and he dealt with his subject chiefly in its
temporal, social, and political aspects. Justice and impartiality of
judgment to friend and foe he deemed one of the first moral duties of
an historian, and Dean Church was not wrong in ascribing to him a
quite 'unusual combination of the strongest feeling about right and
wrong with the largest equity.' 'What a delightful book, so tolerant
of the intolerant!' was his characteristic eulogy of the work of
another writer, and it truly reflects the turn of his own mind.
Provost Hawtrey, who was no mean judge of men, said, after an intimacy
of nearly fifty years, that he had never known a man who possessed in
a greater degree than Milman the virtue of Christian charity in its
highest and rarest form. It was a gift which stood him in good stead
in dealing with the very blended characters, the tangled politics, the
often misguided enthusiasms of ecclesiastical history. While he was
constitutionally extremely averse to the moral casuistry which
confuses the boundaries of right and wrong, he had too sound a grasp
of the evolution of history to fall into the common error of judging
the acts of one age by the moral standards of another. His history was
eminently a history of large lines and broad tendencies. The growth,
influence, and decline of the Papacy--the distinctive characteristics
of Latin and Teutonic Christianity; the effect of Christianity on
jurisprudence; the monastic system in its various phases; the rise and
conquests of Mohammedanism; the severance of Greek from Latin
Christianity; Charlemagne, Hildebrand, the Crusades, the Templars, the
Great Councils; the decay of Latin and the rise of modern languages;
the influence of the Church on literature, painting, sculpture, and
architecture--are but a few of the great subjects he has treated,
always with knowledge and intelligence, often with conspicuous

In so vast a field there were, no doubt, many subjects which have been
treated with a greater fulness and completeness by other writers.
There are some in which subsequent research has gone far to supersede
what Milman has written, and inaccuracies of detail not unfrequently
crept into his work; but in the truthfulness of its broad lines, in
the sagacity of its estimates both of men and events, it holds a high
place among the histories of the world. Very few historians have
combined in a larger measure the three great requisites of knowledge,
soundness of judgment, and inexorable love of truth. The growth and
modifications of doctrines and the minutiæ of religious controversies
were, however, subjects in which he took little interest, and though
they could not be excluded from an ecclesiastical history, they are
dealt with only in a slight and cursory manner. Those who desire to
study in detail this side of ecclesiastical history will find other
histories much more useful. It has been said that his work is
imperfect as a book of reference, for while the great events and
personages are discussed with a fulness that leaves little to be
desired, many of the more insignificant transactions or more obscure
periods are passed over or barely noticed. Critics of different
religious schools have also complained that his mind was essentially
secular; that he had a low sense of the certainty and the importance
of dogma; that there were some classes of ecclesiastical writers who
have been deeply revered in the Church with whom he had no real
sympathy; that the spirit of criticism was stronger in his book than
the spirit of reverence; that he did not do full justice to the
spiritual and inner side of the religion he described. He looked upon
it, they said, too externally. He valued it as a moral revolution, the
introduction of new principles of virtue and new rules for individual
and social happiness. Much of this criticism would probably have been
accepted with but little qualification by Milman himself. He would
have said that what these writers complained of was in the main
inseparable from an historical as distinguished from a devotional
treatment of his subject. He would have added that no form of human
history reveals so clearly as ecclesiastical history the fallibility,
the credulity, the intolerance of the human mind, or requires more
imperatively the constant exercise of independent judgment and of
fearless and unsparing criticism, and that, if the history of the
Church is ever to be written with profit, it must be written in such a
spirit. Of his own deeper convictions he seldom spoke; but in the
concluding page of his 'Latin Christianity' there is a passage of
profound interest. Leaving it, as he says, to the future historian of
religion to say what part of the ancient dogmatic system may be
allowed to fall silently into disuse, and what transformations the
interpretation of the Sacred Writings may still undergo, he adds these
significant words:

'As it is my own confident belief that the words of Christ, and his
words alone (the primal indefeasible truths of Christianity), shall
not pass away, so I cannot presume to say that men may not attain to a
clearer, at the same time more full, comprehensive, and balanced sense
of those words, than has as yet been generally received in the
Christian world. As all else is transient and mutable, these only
eternal and universal, assuredly whatever light may be thrown on the
mental constitution of man, even on the constitution of nature and the
laws which govern the world, will be concentered so as to give a more
penetrating vision of those undying truths.... Christianity may yet
have to exercise a far wider, even if more silent and untraceable
influence, through its primary, all-pervading principles, on the
civilisation of mankind.'

Macaulay, speaking of the 'History of Latin Christianity' in his
Journal, says, 'I was more impressed than ever by the contrast between
the substance and the style: the substance is excellent; the style
very much otherwise.' Looking at it from a purely literary point of
view it had undoubtedly great merits. Milman had an admirable sense of
proportion--a rare quality in history. He was invariably lucid, and it
is easy to cull from his history many characters excellently drawn,
many pages of vivid narrative, or terse and weighty criticism. Still,
on the whole his historic style is on a lower level than that of
Macaulay, Buckle, and Froude, though it will compare, I think, not
unfavourably with that of Hallam and Grote. The points of controversy
are usually relegated to his notes, which contain a great mass of
curious learning and excellent criticism. The reader who turns to them
from works of the German school will be struck by his strong English
common-sense and grasp of facts, and his dislike of subtle far-fetched
ingenuities of explanation. He has the crowning merit of being always
readable, and his strong sane moral sense never left him. He was
probably at his best in the later volumes, when he could treat his
subject like secular history and was free from the embarrassing
theological difficulties of the earlier portion, and he is especially
admirable in those chapters which give scope to his wide literary and
artistic sympathies. He was an excellent Italian scholar and keenly
sensible of the beauties of Italian literature, and his love of the
ancient classics never left him. There was something at once
characteristic and amusing in the delight which he again and again
expressed, after the termination of his History, at being able to
return to them after spending so many years in reading bad Latin and
Greek. In taste and character he was indeed pre-eminently a man of
letters, and as such he ranks in the first line among his

The outburst of indignation that in some quarters had greeted the
first appearance of the 'History of the Jews' was not repeated when
that work was republished in an enlarged form. Nor does it appear to
have arisen on the appearance of the two later histories. Newman
reviewed the 'History of Early Christianity' at great length, speaking
with much personal respect of the writer, though he was naturally
extremely hostile to its spirit. The difference between the High
Church sentiment and the mind of Milman was indeed organic. Milman's
own type of thought was formed before the Tractarian movement had
begun; the sacerdotal spirit was thoroughly alien to him, and his
profound study of ecclesiastical history had certainly not tended to
attract him to it. He fully recognised both the abilities and the
piety of Newman, and he described his secession as perhaps the
greatest loss the Church of England had experienced since the
Reformation; but he disliked his opinions, he profoundly distrusted
the whole character of his mind and reasonings, and he early foresaw
that he could never find a permanent resting-place in the English
Church. In the posthumous volume of Essays there will be found a full
and most searching examination of Newman's 'Essay on Development,' in
which these points of difference are clearly shown. For Keble, Milman
entertained warmer feelings. They were contemporaries, and at one time
most intimate friends. In the field of sacred poetry they had been
fellow-labourers. Keble had succeeded Milman as professor of poetry,
and Milman had been one of the few persons who had read the 'Christian
Year' in manuscript. When, after Keble's death, a committee was
appointed to erect a memorial to his memory, Milman was much hurt at
finding that it was determined to give it a distinctly Tractarian
character, and that his own name was deliberately excluded. In
Milman's last years the Oxford movement had begun to assume its
ritualistic form, and questions of vestments and ceremonies and
candles came to the forefront. With all this Milman had no sympathy.
'After the drama,' he said of it, 'the melodrama!'

It was a remarkable coincidence that for some years the two deaneries
of London were both held by brilliant men of letters and by men with
the strongest theological sympathy. A feeling of warm personal
affection united Milman and Stanley, and there was something
peculiarly touching in the almost filial attitude which Stanley
assumed towards his older colleague. In one point, however, they
differed greatly. Stanley was a keen fighter. He threw himself into
the forefront of ecclesiastical controversies, and was never seen to
greater advantage than when leading a small minority, defying
inveterate prejudice, defending an unpopular cause. Milman could
seldom be tempted to follow his example. He pleaded old age and
declining strength, but, in truth, though he never flinched from the
avowal of his own opinions, he had a deep and increasing distaste for
religious controversies and Church politics. He was rarely seen in
Convocation, and he always regarded its revival as a misfortune. He
proposed, however, in it a petition for the discontinuance of the use
of the State services commemorating the martyrdom of Charles I., the
restoration of Charles II., the discovery of the gunpowder plot, and
the Revolution of 1688; and Parliament soon after adopted his view. He
also sat on the Royal Commission in 1864 for considering the subject
of clerical subscription. He took on this occasion a characteristic
line, advocating a complete abolition of the subscription of the
Articles, and desiring that the sole test of membership of the Church
should be the acceptance of the Liturgy and the Creeds. In 1865 he
received an invitation, which greatly gratified him, to preach before
the University of Oxford the annual sermon on Hebrew prophecy. The
sermon was delivered in the pulpit of St. Mary's, where many years
before he had been so vehemently condemned for views on the same
subject, no one of which, as he truly said, he had either recanted or
modified. His sermon was afterwards printed, and would form a worthy
chapter of his 'History of the Jews.' In the Colenso controversy he
had no great sympathy with either side. Many of Bishop Colenso's
arguments appeared to him crude or exaggerated, and he dissented from
many of his conclusions, but he considered that he had been treated
with gross injustice and intolerance, and he accordingly subscribed to
his defence fund. For the rest, he confined his ecclesiastical life as
much as possible to his own cathedral, where he presided over the
State funeral of the Duke of Wellington, and where he introduced the
custom of throwing open the nave to evening services. His last and
unfinished work was his 'Annals of St. Paul's,' investigating its
history and portraying with his old learning and with much of his old
felicity the lives of his predecessors.

It was however in secular literary society that he was most fitted to
shine, and there he passed many of his happiest hours. The usual
honours of a distinguished man of letters clustered thickly around
him. He was a trustee of the British Museum; an honorary member of the
Royal Academy; a correspondent of the French Institute. He was also a
member of 'The Club'--the small dining-club which was founded in 1764
by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Dr. Johnson, and which since then has
included in its fortnightly dinners the great majority of those
Englishmen who in many walks of life have been most distinguished by
their genius or their accomplishments. He was elected to it in 1836,
three years before Macaulay, and he became one of its most constant
attendants. In 1841 'The Club' made him its treasurer, and he held
that position for twenty-three years, and presided over the centenary
dinner in 1864. He was also an original member of the Philobiblion
Society, which has brought together many curious and hitherto unknown
documents, and he wrote for it a short paper on Michael Scott the
Wizard, who, as he showed, had been once offered the Archbishopric of
Cashel. He was never a keen politician, but he was intimate with a
long succession of leading statesmen, and he contributed to Sir
Cornewall Lewis's 'Administrations of Great Britain' a full and
valuable letter on the relations of Pitt and Addington, which was
largely based on his own recollections of the latter statesman.

London society in the middle of the nineteenth century was much
smaller and less mixed than at present, and there was then a
distinctively literary or at least intellectual society which can now
hardly be said to exist. The most eminent men of letters came more
frequently together. Criticism was in fewer and perhaps stronger
hands, and was to a larger extent representative of the opinions
expressed in such social gatherings. In this kind of society Milman
was long a foremost figure. He had all the gifts that fit men for
it--not only brilliancy, knowledge, and versatility, but also
unfailing tact, a rare charm of courtesy, a singularly wide tolerance.
He was quick and generous in recognising rising talent, and he had
that sympathetic touch which seldom failed to elicit what was best in
those with whom he came in contact. Few men possessed more eminently
the genius of friendship--the power of attaching others--the power of
attaching himself to others. In the long list of his intimate friends
Macaulay, Sir Charles Lyell, and Sir George Cornewall Lewis were
conspicuous. Like most men of this type, he found the multiplying
gaps around him the chief trial of old age. Not long before he died
there was an exhibition of contemporary portraits, but though Milman
went to it he could not go through it. 'When I found myself,' he said,
'surrounded by the likenesses--often the miserable likenesses--of so
many I had known and loved, it was more than I could bear.'

An admirable portrait by Watts which is now in the National Portrait
Gallery will recall to those who knew him his appearance in old
age--his strong masculine features beaming with intelligence, his
grand shaggy brows, his bright and penetrating eyes. An illness
affecting the spine had bowed him nearly double, and there are still
those who will remember how his bent figure seemed projected, almost
like a bird in its flight, across the dinner-table, while his eager
brilliant talk delighted and fascinated his hearers. In his last years
increasing deafness obliged him to narrow the circle of his social
life, but he retained to the end all the vividness of his mind and
sympathies, and when at length death came in his seventy-eighth year,
it found him in the midst of unfinished work. His life was not of a
kind to win wide popularity and to give him a conspicuous place among
the great masses of his nation, but few English clergymen of his
generation made so deep an impression on those who came in contact
with them or have left works of such enduring value behind them.


[48] _Henry Hart Milman, D.D., Dean of St. Paul's._ A Biographical
Sketch by his son, Arthur Milman, M.A., LL.D.

[49] Laurence's _Life of Sir A. Sullivan_, p. 310.

[50] Smiles' _Memoirs of John Murray_, ii. p. 300.


At a time when the unprecedented increase of gigantic and rapidly
acquired fortunes has deeply infected both English and American
society with the characteristic vices of a Plutocracy, the profound
feeling of sorrow and admiration elicited by the death of Queen
Victoria is an encouraging sign. It shows that the vulgar ideals, the
false moral measurements, the feverish social ambitions, the love of
the ostentatious and the factitious, and the disdain for simple
habits, pleasures, and characters so apparent in certain conspicuous
sections of society, have not yet blunted the moral sense or perverted
the moral perceptions of the great masses on either side of the
Atlantic. To this type, indeed, we could scarcely find a more complete
antithesis than in the life and character of the great Queen who has
passed away. Nothing more deeply impressed all who came in contact
with her than the essential simplicity and genuineness of her nature.

She was a great ruler, but she was also to the last a true, kindly,
simple-minded woman, retaining with undiminished intensity all the
warmth of a most affectionate nature, all the soundness of a most
excellent judgment. Brought up from childhood in the artificial
atmosphere of a Court, called while still a girl to the isolation of a
throne; deprived, when her reign had yet forty years to run, of the
support and counsel of her husband, she might well have been pardoned
if she often found herself out of touch with large sections of her
people, and had viewed life through a false medium or in partial
aspects. Yet Lord Salisbury probably in no degree exaggerated when he
said that if he wished to ascertain the feelings and opinions of the
English people, and especially of the English middle classes, he knew
no truer or more enlightening judgment than that of the Queen. She
thought with them and she felt with them; she shared their ambitions;
she knew by a kind of intuitive instinct the course of their
judgments; she sympathised deeply with their trials and their sorrows.

She could hardly be called a brilliant woman. It is difficult indeed
to judge the full social capacities of anyone who lives under the
constant restraints of a royal position, but I do not think that in
any sphere of life the Queen would have been regarded as a woman of
striking wit, or originality, or even commanding power. The qualities
that made her so successful in her high calling were of another kind:
supreme good sense; a tact in dealing with men and circumstances so
unfailing that it almost amounted to genius; an indefatigable industry
which never flagged from early youth till extreme old age; a sense of
duty so steady and so strong that it governed all her actions and
pleasures, and saved her not only from the grosser and more common
temptations of an exalted position, but also in a most unusual degree
from the subtle and often half-concealed deflecting influences that
spring from ambition or resentment, from personal predilections and
personal dislikes. It was these qualities, combined with her
unrivalled experience of affairs, and strengthened by long and
constant intercourse with the foremost English statesmen of two
generations, that made her what she undoubtedly was--a perfect model
of a constitutional Sovereign.

The position of a Sovereign under a parliamentary government like ours
is a singular and difficult one. There was a school of politicians who
were much more prominent in the last generation than in the present
one, who regarded the Sovereign, in political life at least, as little
more than a figure-head or a cipher, absolved from all responsibility,
but also divested of all power, and fulfilling functions in the
Constitution which are little more than mechanical. This view of the
unimportance of the Monarchy will now be held by few really
intelligent men. Those take but a false and narrow view of human
affairs who fail to realise the part which sentiment and enthusiasm
play in the government of men; and no one who knows England will
question that the throne is the centre of a great strength of personal
attachment which is wholly different from any attachment to a party or
a parliament.

In India and the Colonies this is still more the case. It is not the
British Parliament or the British Cabinet that there forms the centre
of unity or excites genuine attachment. The Crown is the main link
binding the different States to one another, and the pervading
sentiment of a common loyalty unites them in one great and living
whole. In foreign politics it cannot be a matter of indifference that
a Sovereign is closely related to nearly all the greatest rulers in
the world, and in frequent, intimate, unconstrained correspondence
with them. This is a kind of influence which no Minister, however
powerful, can exercise, and it was possessed by Queen Victoria
probably to a greater degree than by any Sovereign on record, for
there has scarcely ever been one who included among her relations so
many of the Sovereigns of the world. Future historians will no doubt
have ample means of judging how frequently and how judiciously it was
employed in assuaging differences and promoting European peace. All
the great offices in Church and State, all the great distributions of
honours were submitted to her; and though in a large number of cases
this patronage is purely Ministerial or professional, there are many
cases in which the Sovereign had a real voice, and a strong objection
on her part was usually attended to. In Church patronage and in the
distribution of honours she is known to have taken a great interest,
and to have exercised a considerable influence.

The one subject on which the Queen was not always in harmony with her
people was that of foreign politics. She and the Prince Consort took a
keen interest in them, and during his lifetime she followed very
implicitly his guidance. The strong German sympathies she imbued from
her own marriage were much intensified by the marriages of her
children, and especially by that of her eldest daughter to the heir of
the Prussian throne. The influence also of Stockmar, who was the
closest adviser of her early married life, was not wholly for good,
and the theory which the Prince held that the direction of foreign
affairs is in a peculiar degree under the care of the Sovereign, and
that the Prince, her husband, should be regarded as 'her permanent
Minister,' created during many years much friction. In a
constitutional country, where the responsibility of affairs rests
wholly on the Minister, who is doubly responsible to the Cabinet and
to the Parliament, such a theory can only be maintained with great

On the other hand, the government of the country was carried on in the
name of the Queen. Foreign despatches were addressed to her and could
only be answered with her sanction. The right of the English
Sovereigns to be present at the Cabinet Councils of their Ministers
was abdicated when George I. came to the throne, but every important
departure in policy was submitted to the Queen and required her
assent. The testimony of Ministers of all shades of policy supports
the belief that this was no idle form. The Queen, though always open
to argument and tolerant of contradiction, had her own decided
opinions; she exercised her undoubted right of expressing and
defending them, and even apart from her royal position, her great
experience and her singular clearness and rectitude of judgment made
her opinion well worth listening to.

The claim put forward by the Queen in her famous memorandum of August
1850, can, I think, hardly be pronounced excessive. She demanded only
that before a line of policy was adopted and brought before her she
should be distinctly informed of the facts of the case and of the
motives that inspired it; that when she had given her sanction to a
measure it should not be arbitrarily altered or modified by the
Minister; that she must be kept acquainted with all important
communications between foreign Ministers and her own Foreign
Secretary, and that the drafts of foreign despatches must be sent to
her for her approval in sufficient time for her to make herself
acquainted with them. She complained that Lord Palmerston was
accustomed to send despatches to the Continent without submitting
them, in their last revise, to the Sovereign; that in one case he
retained without her knowledge a passage which the Prince Consort had
deleted; that he paid little or no attention to the numerous memoranda
which were drawn up by the Prince for his instruction; that he of his
own will and without any consultation committed his Government, in a
conversation with the French Ambassador, to an approbation of the
_coup d'état_ of Napoleon III. If the general line of his policy had
been in accordance with the royal wishes, indiscretions of detail
could probably have been overlooked, but the Queen and Prince were
both undoubtedly on many occasions--and especially in 1848 and
1849--strongly opposed to the policy of Lord Palmerston. In the
interests of peace they objected to the remarkably provocative
character of his despatches, which excited a degree of animosity and
resentment among the Governments of the Continent that has rarely been
paralleled--on two, if not three, occasions it brought England into
grave danger of a war with France--and which aroused a very widespread
indignation among statesmen of his own party at home.

The widely different tone which was adopted by Lord Clarendon and Lord
Granville, the open breach between Palmerston and Lord John Russell on
account of the way in which the former conducted his foreign policy
without consultation with the Cabinet, and the refusal of Lord Grey,
in a most critical moment, to take office in a Government in which
Lord Palmerston held the seals of the Foreign Office, show how fully
in this respect the sentiments of the Queen accorded with those of
many of Lord Palmerston's own colleagues. But in addition to mere
questions of manner and procedure, there was much in the substance of
the policy of Palmerston to which the Queen objected. Her dislike to
the Revolutionary element on the Continent, which Lord Palmerston
either encouraged or viewed with indifference, her sympathy with the
old governments and dynasties, that were so gravely shaken in the year
of the Revolution, were very marked. In the disputes between Germany
and Denmark on the Schleswig-Holstein question her sympathies, unlike
those of her people, were decidedly with Germany, and although she was
fully sensible of the misgovernment of some of the Italian States, she
was not favourable to that cause of Italian unity which Lord John
Russell and Lord Palmerston so strenuously upheld. Her nature, which
was very frank, made it impossible for her, even if she desired it, to
conceal her opinions, and she devoted much time and pains to making
herself acquainted with the details of every question as it arose. She
made it a rule to sign no paper that she had not read. She did not
hesitate fully to apprise her Ministers of her views when they
differed from their own, and she enforced her views by argument and
remonstrance. She more than once drew up memoranda of her dissent from
the opinions of her Foreign Minister, and insisted on their being
brought before the Cabinet for consideration. In the formation of a
new Ministry she more than once exercised her power of deciding to
whom the succession of the first places should be offered. After an
adverse vote of the House of Commons, she considered herself fully
authorised to decide whether she would accept the resignation of a
Minister or submit the issue to the test of a dissolution, and there
were occasions on which she remonstrated with her Ministers on their
too ready determination to resign.

At the same time it is certain that the Queen fulfilled with
perfection that most difficult duty of an able constitutional
Sovereign--the duty of yielding her convictions to those of her
responsible Ministers and acting faithfully with Ministers she
distrusted. To a Sovereign with clear views and a more than common
force of character this must often have been very painful, and to have
fulfilled it faithfully and with no loss of dignity is no small merit.
It is the universal testimony of all who served her, that no Sovereign
ever supported her successive Ministers with a more perfect loyalty or
held the scales between contending parties with a more complete
impartiality. No one understood better to what point a constitutional
Sovereign may press her opinions and at what point she is bound to
give way; and while maintaining her rightful authority she never in
any degree transgressed its bounds. In the very beginning of her reign
she showed this quality in a high degree. She looked up to Lord
Melbourne with an almost filial affection, and there were peculiar
reasons why his great opponent, Sir Robert Peel, should have been
distasteful to her. The dispute about the removal of her Ladies of the
Bedchamber, and still more the conduct of Sir Robert Peel in
supporting the reduction of the income which the Whigs had proposed
for Prince Albert, must have touched her feelings on the most
sensitive points, and the stiff, formal, somewhat awkward manner of
Peel seemed very little fitted to ingratiate him with a young
Sovereign. Yet when the change of Ministry arrived, Peel found no
trace of resentment in the Queen. She gave him her complete
confidence, and she fully estimated his great qualities. Of all the
Ministers who served her there is indeed none of whom she has written
in warmer terms. When Lord Palmerston became Prime Minister in 1855 it
was contrary to her earnest desire, but when the change was made
Palmerston himself acknowledged that he had 'no reason to complain of
the least want of cordiality or confidence on the part of the Court.'
At the time when she was most opposed to her Ministers, she fully
acquiesced in the principle that she must submit all letters on public
affairs to them and frame her replies upon their advice. There were
constant attempts on the part of foreign Sovereigns who were connected
with her to carry on affairs by correspondence with her without the
knowledge and sanction of her Ministers, but the Queen steadily
resisted them. Anything, indeed, that in any way savoured of intrigue
was in the highest degree repugnant to her nature.

She acted in the same way in internal affairs. Few measures that were
carried in her time were more repugnant to her than Gladstone's
disestablishment of the Irish Church. It abolished an institution of
which she was herself the head and which a special clause in the
Coronation Oath required her to uphold, and she foretold, not without
good reason, that it would not pacify Ireland but would be an
encouragement to further agitation. The question, however, had been
submitted at a general election to the decision of the country, and
after that decision had been unequivocally given in favour of the
policy of Gladstone, she frankly accepted it with the assent of the
Prime Minister. When a great danger of a conflict between the two
Houses of Parliament had arisen, she devoted herself actively in
preventing it. She employed for that service the instrumentality of
Archbishop Tait--a great statesman-prelate, whose promotion to the see
of Canterbury was due to her own personal initiative, contrary to the
wish of Lord Beaconsfield, but most fully justified by the result--and
it was largely due to the intervention of the Queen that the Church
Bill was not thrown out in the House of Lords. She acted in a
somewhat similar way with reference to the Franchise Bill of 1884,
though on this occasion she does not seem to have disliked the
measure, which she urged the House of Lords to accept.

On three very memorable occasions the intervention of the Queen had
probably a great effect on English politics. It is well known that at
the time when the issue of peace or war with the United States was
trembling in the balance on account of the seizure of the Southern
envoys on the 'Trent,' the Queen, acting in accordance with the Prince
Consort, by softening and revising the language of an English despatch
to America, did very much to prevent the dispute from leading to a
great war; that in the proclamation which was issued to the Indian
people after the Sepoy Mutiny, she insisted on the excision of some
most unfortunate words that seemed to menace the native creeds, and on
the insertion of an emphatic promise that they should in no wise be
interfered with, and thus probably prevented a new outburst of most
dangerous fanaticism; that at the time of the Schleswig-Holstein
dispute she contributed powerfully and actively to give a turn to the
negotiations that averted a war with Prussia and Austria, which, as is
now almost universally recognised, could only have led to a great

Whatever opinions may be formed of the merits of the dispute between
Denmark and the German powers about Schleswig-Holstein, few persons
who judge by the event can doubt that an isolated intervention of
England on behalf of Denmark against the combined forces of Austria
and Prussia would have been absolutely impotent to effect the object
that was desired, and that even if France had consented to join in the
struggle it would have led to a military disaster hardly less than
that of the war of Sedan. If, contrary to all probability, the
combined forces of France and England had proved stronger than those
of Austria and Germany, the result could have hardly failed to be that
France would have been established on the left bank of the Rhine, and
that the treaty of Vienna, which it was one of the great objects of
English policy to maintain, would have been torn into shreds.

The dangers, however, of conflict arising from the extreme
irritability of English public opinion against Germany on the Danish
question, were very great, and there can be little doubt that the
personal influence of the Queen with the German Sovereign was an
appreciable influence, and it was her desire that a paragraph in the
Queen's Speech opening Parliament in February 1864 was erased. Words
which contained at least a veiled or attributed threat to Germany were
omitted, and instead of them an inoffensive paragraph was inserted
expressing the Queen's ardent desire for peace and recording the
earnest efforts she had made to maintain it.[51] At the same time
when, by the Convention of Gastein in August 1865, the Duchies were
severed from the Danish throne and placed in the virtual possession of
Prussia and Austria, the protest of Lord Russell against so flagrant a
violation of public right, and especially of the right of the people
to be consulted on their own destiny, was drawn up with her full
assent and indeed in a great measure at her suggestion.[52]

On other occasions her remonstrances were disregarded, and courses
were pursued to which she strongly objected. The surrender after
Majuba was in her opinion a pusillanimous abandonment of the English
flag, and it was with extreme reluctance that she acquiesced in it.
Still more vehement were her feelings about the long abandonment of
General Gordon in the Soudan. She had been indefatigable in urging on
the Ministry of Gladstone the duty of speedy measures for his rescue,
and when, owing to the long delay of the Ministry, the most heroic of
modern Englishmen perished at Khartoum, her indignation knew no
bounds. In a letter to his sisters, burning with mingled pity and
indignation, she pronounced his 'cruel though heroic fate' to be 'a
stain left upon England,' which she keenly felt. This was one of the
few occasions in which she allowed her sentiments in hostility to the
policy of her Ministers to appear publicly before the world. In
general, she had a profound distrust of the policy and judgment of Mr.
Gladstone, and she fully shared the dread with which the great body of
English statesmen looked upon the Home Rule policy. It was no new
sentiment on her part, for she had lived through the Repeal agitation
of O'Connell, and as far back as 1843 Sir Robert Peel had somewhat
unconstitutionally declared in Parliament that he was authorised by
the Queen to state that she, like her predecessor, was resolved to
maintain the Union inviolate by all the means in her power.

There can now be no harm in saying--what when both parties were alive
was naturally kept in the background--that the relations of the Queen
with Mr. Gladstone were usually of a very painful character. She had
personally not much to complain of. The skill and firmness with which
Mr. Gladstone resisted the attempts to diminish the parliamentary
subsidies for her family were fully and gratefully recognised by the
Queen, but the main course of his politics, both foreign and domestic,
filled her with alarm, and she never appears to have experienced the
attraction which his great personal gifts exercised over most of those
with whom he came in immediate contact. The extreme copiousness of his
vocabulary, the extreme subtlety of his mind and reasoning, and the
imperiousness of temper with which he seldom failed to meet
opposition, were all repugnant to her. To those who have experienced
the sustained emphasis of language with which Mr. Gladstone was
accustomed in conversation to enforce his views, there is much truth
as well as humour in the saying which was attributed to the Queen, 'I
wish Mr. Gladstone would not always speak to me as if I was a public
meeting'; and a little episode which is related by Sir Theodore Martin
illustrates the irritation which Mr. Gladstone's methods of business
must have caused to a very busy and overworked lady who always loved
few words and simple and direct arguments.[53] At all times the Queen
had decided political opinions, and the experience of a long reign had
given her a large measure of not unjustifiable self-confidence. Few
persons had studied as she had during all those years the various
political questions that arose, and she had had the advantage of
discussing them at length with a long succession of the leading
statesmen of England. Under such circumstances her opinions had no
small weight, and although in the Liberal Government she gave her full
confidence to Lord Clarendon and Lord Granville, she looked with the
gravest apprehension on the policy of Mr. Gladstone.

It was a painful and irksome position, but it did not lead the Queen
to any unconstitutional course. No public act or word ever disclosed
her feelings. It was indeed in most cases very slowly, and in small
circles and through private channels, that the convictions of the
Queen became known.

At the close of the second Ministry of Mr. Gladstone she at once
offered him an earldom, which he refused, and on his death she fully
acquiesced in the public funeral in Westminster Abbey, and the Prince
of Wales attended it as her representative. In an autograph letter to
Mrs. Gladstone she spoke with the deep and genuine warmth that was
never wanting in her letters of condolence of her sympathy with the
bereavement of that lady. She spoke of his illustrious gifts and of
his personal kindness to herself, but it was noticed that no sentence
in the letter intimated any approbation of his general policy. 'Truth
in the inmost parts' was indeed a prominent characteristic of the
Queen, and she wrote nothing which was not in accordance with her true

There were occasions when she took independent steps, and some of these
had a considerable influence on politics. Louis Napoleon was one of the
few great Sovereigns who were not related to her, and to few persons
could the _coup d'état_ which brought him to the throne have been more
repugnant, but the cordial personal relations she established with him
undoubtedly contributed considerably to the good relations which for
many years subsisted between England and France. Bismarck detested
English Court influence and was greatly prejudiced against her, but he
has left a striking testimony to the favourable impression which her
tact and good sense made upon him when he first came into contact with
her. She possessed to a high degree the power of choosing the right
moment and striking the true chord, and she appears to have been an
excellent judge not only of the feelings of large bodies of men, but
also of the individual characters of those with whom she dealt. She had
a style of writing which was eminently characteristic and eminently
feminine, and it is easy to trace the letters which were entirely her
own. Her letters of congratulation, or sympathy, or encouragement on
public occasions scarcely ever failed in their effect and never
contained an injudicious word. The same thing may be said of her many
beautiful letters to those who were suffering from some grievous
calamity. Whether she was writing to a great public character like the
widow of an American President, or expressing her sorrow for obscure
sufferers, there was the same note of true womanly sympathy, so
manifestly spontaneous and so manifestly heartfelt, that it found its
way to the hearts of thousands. The tact for which she was so justly
celebrated, like all true tact, sprang largely from character, from the
quick and lively sympathies of an eminently affectionate nature. No one
could have been less theatrical, or less likely in any unworthy way to
seek for popularity; but she knew admirably the occasions or the methods
by which she could strike the imagination and appeal most favourably to
the feelings of her people. She showed this in the very beginning of her
reign when she insisted, in defiance of the opinion of the Duke of
Wellington, on riding herself through the ranks of her troops at her
first review. She showed it on countless other occasions of her long
reign--pre-eminently in her two Jubilees and in her last visit to
Ireland. It is well known that this visit was entirely her own idea. To
many it seemed rash or even positively dangerous. They dwelt upon the
bitter disaffection of a great portion of the Irish people, upon the
danger of mob outrage or even assassination, upon the extreme difficulty
of preventing a royal visit to Ireland from taking a party character and
being regarded as a party triumph or defeat. But the Queen, as Sir
William Harcourt once truly said, 'never feared her people,' and nothing
could be more happy than the manner in which she availed herself of the
new turn given to Irish feeling by the splendid achievements of Irish
soldiers in South Africa, to come over, as if to thank her Irish people
in person, and at the same time to repair in extreme old age a neglect
for which she had been often, and not altogether unjustly, blamed. There
never indeed was a more brilliant and unqualified success. To those who
witnessed the spontaneous and passionate enthusiasm with which she was
everywhere greeted, it seemed as if all bitter feeling vanished at her
presence; and the Irish visit, which was one of the last, was also one
of the brightest pages of her reign. The credit of its most skilful
arrangements belongs chiefly to the officials in Dublin, but the Irish
people will long remember the patient courage with which the aged Queen
went through its fatigues; the tactful kindness and the gracious dignity
with which she won the hearts of multitudes who had never before seen
her or spoken to her; the evident enjoyment with which she responded to
the cordiality of her reception. One feature of that visit was
especially characteristic. It was the Children's Review in Phoenix Park,
where, by the desire of the Queen, 'some fifty thousand children were
brought together to meet her. No act of kindness could have gone more
directly home to the hearts of the parents, and it left a memory in many
young minds that will never be effaced.

It is rather, however, by the example of a life than by any public
acts that a constitutional Sovereign can impress her personality on
the affections of her people. Of the reign of Queen Victoria it may be
truly said that very few in English history have been so blameless as
this, which was the longest of all. Her Court was a model of quiet
dignity and decorum, singularly free from all the atmosphere of
intrigue and from all suspicion of injudicious or unworthy
favouritism. She managed it as she managed her family, with a happy
mixture of tact and affection; and though she gave her confidence to
many she gave it to such persons and in such a way that it seemed
never to be abused. No domestic life could in all its relations have
been more perfect, and her love of children amounted to a passion.
Among the great female rulers it would be difficult to find one less
like Queen Victoria than the Empress Catherine of Russia, but they had
this common trait of an intense love of children and a great power of
winning their affection. There is a charming letter of Catherine to
Grimm, describing her life among her grandchildren, which might almost
have been written by the English Queen. Her vast family, spread
through many countries, was her abiding interest and delight, and
although she had to pay in full measure the natural penalty of many
bereavements, she at least never knew the dreary loneliness that
clouded the last days of her great predecessor, Elizabeth.

In the early years of her reign she fully filled her place as the
leader of English society. In the plays she patronised, in the art
she preferred, in the restrictions of her Drawing Rooms, in the
fashions she countenanced, in the intimacies she selected or
encouraged, her influence was always healthy and pure, and for some
years it powerfully affected the tone of English society.
Unfortunately, after the great calamity of her widowhood the nerves of
the Queen seem to have been shaken, and though she never intermitted
her political duties and spent daily many hours over her
correspondence, she allowed her social duties to fall too much and too
long into abeyance. She still, it is true, occasionally appeared in
public ceremonies. She laid the first stones of several hospitals and
infirmaries. She presided over the inauguration of several great
industrial enterprises. She sometimes opened Parliament in person, and
was sometimes present at military and naval reviews. But she scarcely
ever appeared in London, except for a few days. She never appeared in
a London theatre. She shrank from great crowds and large social
gatherings, and buried herself too much in her Highland home. This is
one of the few real reproaches that history is likely to bring against
her. Her influence on English society was never wholly lost, and it
was always an influence for good, but for many years it was exerted
less frequently and less powerfully than it should have been, and the
tone of large sections of society lost something by her retirement.

It may be doubted, however, whether this long retirement really
injured her in the minds of her people. Her rare occasional
appearances had a greater weight, and the depth of feeling exhibited
by her long widowhood became a new title to respect. The transparent
simplicity and unselfishness of her character were now generally
appreciated, and her own books contributed greatly to make her people
understand her. It is in general far from a wise thing for royal
personages to descend into the arena of literature unless they possess
some special aptitude for it. They expose themselves to a kind of
criticism wholly different from that which follows them in their
public lives--a criticism more minute and often more deliberately
malevolent than that to which an ordinary writer is subject. The Queen
wrote pure and excellent English and she had a good literary taste,
but she certainly could never have become a great writer; and the
complete frankness and unreserve of her Journals, as well as their
curious homeliness of thought and feeling, were not viewed with favour
in some sections of the fashionable and of the literary world. There
were circles in which the word 'bourgeois,' and there were others in
which the word 'commonplace,' was often pronounced. Yet in this, as on
nearly all occasions when the Queen acted on her own impulse, she
acted wisely. Her books had at once an enormous circulation, and there
can be no doubt that they contributed very widely to her popularity.
Multitudes to whom she had before been little more than a name, now
realised that she was one with whom they had very much in common. Her
evident longing for sympathy produced an immediate response. Her deep
domestic affection, her constant interest in her servants, her high
spirits, her love of scenery, her love of animals, her power of taking
delight in little things, appeared vividly in her pages and came home
to the largest classes of her people.

In some respects the Queen was an eminently democratic Sovereign.
While maintaining the dignity of her position, rank and wealth were in
her eyes always subordinate to the great realities of life and to
true human affections. In no one was the touch of Nature that makes
the whole world kin more constantly visible. She was never more in her
place than in visiting some poor tenant on the morrow of a great
bereavement, or uttering words of comfort by the sick bed of some
humble dependant. Men of all ranks who came in contact with her were
struck with her thoughtful kindness, and her royal gift of an
excellent memory never showed itself more frequently than in the
manner in which she remembered and inquired after the fortunes and
happiness of obscure persons related to those with whom she spoke.

Her religious opinions were brought very little before the public.
Beyond a deep sense of Providential guidance and of the comforting
power of religion, little is to be gathered from her published
utterances; but she seemed equally at home in the Scotch Presbyterian
and the Anglican Episcopal Church, and her marked admiration for such
men as Dean Stanley and Norman Macleod, and for the preaching of
Principal Caird, gives some clue to the bias of her opinions. Her mind
was not speculative but eminently practical, and while she patronised
good works of the most various kinds, there is reason to believe that
those which most appealed to her personal feelings were those which
directly contributed to alleviate the sufferings, or promote the
material welfare, of the poor. She devoted the greater part of her
Jubilee present to institutions for providing nurses for the sick
poor, and this is said to have been one of the charities in which she
took the warmest and most constant interest.

She is said not to have had any sympathy with the movement for the
extension of political power to women, which became so conspicuous in
her reign; but her own success in filling for sixty-three years the
highest political position in the nation will always be quoted in its
support. Considering, indeed, how comparatively small has been the
number of reigning female Sovereigns, it is remarkable how many in
modern times have shown themselves pre-eminently capable. Isabella of
Spain, Catherine of Russia, Maria Theresa of Austria, and our own
Elizabeth, all rise far above the level of ordinary Sovereigns. Some
of these seem figures of a larger and stronger mould than Queen
Victoria, but they governed under very different constitutional
conditions, and, with one exception, there are serious blots on their
memory. There are few sadder facts in history than that the pure and
tender-hearted Spanish Queen should have been deeply tinged with the
persecuting fanaticism of her age and country; that she should have
consented to the establishment of the Inquisition in Castile, to the
expulsion of the Moors from her dominions, to the first law in Europe
establishing a practical censorship of the Press. The unscrupulous
ambition, the shameless favouritism, the gross personal vices of
Catherine, are as conspicuous as her high intelligence, her
indomitable will, her majestic commanding power. The reign of
Elizabeth is perhaps the most glorious in English history, but the
character of that great Queen is lamentably tarnished by waywardness
and caprice. Among purely constitutional Sovereigns Queen Anne holds a
respectable, though certainly not a brilliant, place, and it may be
added that much of the merit of the very constitutional though not
very glorious reign of George II. is due to the excellent sense and
judgment of Queen Caroline. In spite of the saying of Burke, the age
of chivalry is not wholly dead. The sex of Queen Victoria no doubt
gave an additional touch of warmth to the loyalty of her people, and
many of the qualities that made her most popular are intensely, if not
distinctively, feminine. They would not, however, have given her the
place she will always hold in English history, if they had not been
united with what men are accustomed to regard as more peculiarly
masculine--a clear, well-balanced mind, singularly free from
fanaticisms and exaggerations, excellently fitted to estimate rightly
the true proportion of things.

In the last years of her reign the political horizon greatly cleared.
Lord Beaconsfield, during his later Ministries, obtained not only her
fullest political confidence, but also won a warmer degree of personal
friendship than she had bestowed on any Minister since the death of
Lord Melbourne; and her relations with his successor, Lord Salisbury,
appear to have been perfectly harmonious. The decisive rejection by
the country of the Home Rule policy removed a great incubus from her
mind, and she was fully in harmony with the strong Imperialist
sentiments which now began to prevail in English thought, and
especially with the warmer feeling towards our distant colonies which
was one of its chief characteristics. Her own popularity also rapidly
grew. She had keenly felt and bitterly resented the reproaches which
had at one period been frequently brought against her for her neglect
of social and ceremonial duties during many years of her widowhood.
Her censors, she maintained, made no allowance for her loneliness, her
advancing years, her feeble health, the overwhelming and incessant
pressure of her more serious political duties. But her two Jubilees,
bringing her once more into close touch with her people, put an end to
these reproaches. The Queen found with pleasure and perhaps with
surprise how capable she still was of performing great public
functions, and the vast outburst of spontaneous loyalty and affection
of which she became the object gave her deep and unconcealed pleasure.
To those, however, who were closely in connection with her it was
touching to observe the gracious and unaffected modesty with which she
received the homage of her subjects. Flattery was one of the things
she disliked the most, and all who knew her best were struck with the
singularly modest view she always took of herself. But blending with
this modesty, and even with a shyness which she never wholly
conquered, was the craving of a deeply affectionate and womanly nature
for sympathy, and this craving was now abundantly gratified.

Still, with all this there was much that was melancholy in her later
days. She had survived nearly all the intimacies of her youth. Death
had made--especially in very recent times--many gaps in the circle of
those who were nearest to her, and several of her children and of her
children's husbands had preceded her to the tomb. Her sight had
greatly failed. She was bowed down by physical infirmity, and her last
year was saddened by a long, sanguinary, and inglorious war. Yet
almost to the very end she continued with unabated courage to fulfil
her daily task, and there was no sign that she had lost anything of
her quick sympathy and her admirable judgment and tact. Her life was a
most harmonious whole in which mind and character were happily

    Like perfect music set to noble words.


[51] _Queen Victoria_, by Sidney Lee, p. 349.

[52] Ollivier, _L'Empire Libéral_, vii. p. 455.

[53] Sir Theodore Martin was asked by the Queen to give her a _précis_
of a very long and unintelligible letter of Mr. Gladstone purporting to
explain the Irish Church Disestablishment Bill (_Queen Victoria as I
knew Her_, by Sir Theodore Martin).--ED.


There are many signs that the question of old-age pensions is destined
to assume a great prominence in England; although it is probable that
the large increase of national expenditure which is certain to follow
the unhappy war in South Africa may, for some time, postpone actual
legislation on the subject. The generation has passed away which
witnessed the enormous abuses of Poor Law relief that existed, under
the old English Poor Law, before 1834, and the rapid diminution of
pauperism that was effected by the sterner administration introduced
in that year.

The principles of poor-law relief which were then recognised by the
best minds in England have been somewhat forgotten. These principles
were that, while in England provision is made for the support of all
who are absolutely destitute, it is of the utmost importance that on
the whole the condition of the pauper should be a less eligible one
than that of an independent labourer; that nothing should be done that
could diminish habits of thrift, forethought, and steady industry
among the poor; nothing that could weaken their sense of the necessity
of providing for their latter days, or of their duty of supporting,
when they have the means, their aged parents and relations. In
accordance with these principles it was laid down that outdoor relief
should be either absolutely refused to the able-bodied or only
granted under most exceptional circumstances; that the workhouse test,
with its stringent, deterrent discipline, should be steadily
maintained; that relaxations and special favours granted out of public
funds should be limited, as far as possible, to cases of special
calamity which it was impossible for any prudence or foresight to have

It would certainly be a great exaggeration to say that these
principles have disappeared. Indeed, the robust, independent,
self-respecting character which it was the object of the Manchester
School to encourage is abundantly displayed in the gigantic Friendly
and other working-class Co-operative Societies which have so largely
increased in England during the last half-century. Two of these
Friendly Societies--the Manchester Unity and the Foresters--have each
of them more than seven hundred thousand members on their roll. At the
same time, it is equally certain that in many quarters a different,
and, in my opinion, very dangerous, spirit prevails. In England as
elsewhere there is an increased tendency to aggrandise the functions
of the State and to look to State aid or State control rather than
individual or co-operative effort as the remedy of every evil. Social
questions have assumed a greater prominence in politics; and, with the
lowering of the franchise, the vague State Socialism, which, in
different degrees, pervades most working-class politics, has given a
bias to both parties in the State. It has become prominent in every
election and has produced many rash pledges.

The close connection between taxation and representation, which was
once considered the cardinal principle of English Liberalism, has, in
a marked degree, diminished, both in Imperial and local taxation. It
used to be contended that those who chiefly paid should chiefly
regulate, and that taxation should be as much as possible the
voluntary grant of the taxpayers, restricted to their common purposes.
But in many quarters a different belief has grown up. It is held that
in the hands of a democracy taxation should be made the means of
redressing the inequalities of fortune, ability, or industry; the
preponderant class voting and spending money which another class are
obliged to pay. The income-tax is so arranged that a large majority of
the voters are exempt from its burden; a highly graduated system of
death duties is now nearly the most prominent of our Imperial taxes;
and the Local Government Act of 1894 has placed local taxation on the
most democratic basis. The latter has given the power of voting rates
to many who do not pay them; and, by abolishing the nominated, or
ex-officio, guardians, and the plural voting of the larger ratepayers,
it has almost destroyed the influence of property on local taxation.

At the same time the doctrine has arisen, and is now sedulously
propagated in England, that the State ought to undertake to provide at
the public expense for all old persons, or at least for all deserving
old persons, who have not succeeded in obtaining a sufficient
livelihood for themselves; that this provision should not be regarded
as an eleemosynary grant, but as a positive right; and that, in order
to free it from the taint of pauperism, and take away from the
recipient all reluctance to receive it, a new fund should be created,
entirely distinct from poor-law relief, and administered by some other
tribunal than the poor-law guardians.

The claim has been supported on another ground. The immense
improvement of the material condition of the English working classes
during the last half-century is beyond all question; but it is much
more evident among the young and the strong than among the old. The
intense competition of modern industry, stimulated to the highest
point by free trade, by the factory system, and by the vast
development of machinery, has expelled the old and feeble from some of
its most important fields; and the influence of trade-unions in
enforcing, in each trade which they can control, a uniform and minimum
wage, has obliged the employer to employ only the most efficient

The old man who could once easily obtain a little work at low wages
now finds it much more difficult; and the recent legislation
compelling the employer to compensate his workmen for all accidents
that take place in his employment, even when those accidents are in no
degree due to any negligence on his own part or on that of his
servants, has acted in the same direction. Such serious obligations
have been thrown on the employer in the more dangerous trades, that he
is obliged in self-defence to restrict himself to the workmen who are
least liable to accidents; and they are naturally those whose
strength, activity, and eyesight are at their best. Among the
recipients of poor-law relief the proportion of men over sixty-five is
enormously great; and some figures which, in 1893, were brought before
the Commission on the Aged Poor, made a great impression on the
country. It was stated that in a single year 29.3 of the whole
population over sixty-five were in receipt of poor-law relief in
England and Wales; and assuming that a third part of these old persons
belonged to the well-to-do, it was calculated that not much less than
three in seven must fall into the ranks of pauperism.

There has been much controversy about the accuracy of this statement;
and, even if it be admitted, a good deal has been said to attenuate
its force. In the poor-law system as it was reformed in 1834, it was a
first principle that the workhouse, with its painful and degrading
associations, was to be the chief form of poor-law relief, and that
outdoor relief should only be granted on exceptional occasions and on
stringent conditions. This provision has been gradually relaxed.
Outdoor relief, which, in the eyes of the poor, carries with it very
little of the discredit and dislike that gathers round the workhouse,
is now by far the larger part of poor-law relief; and in many
districts it is administered with great laxity.

It has been proved by the clearest evidence that the immense majority
of the aged and deserving poor who are in receipt of poor-law relief
only receive it in the form of outdoor relief, and very often only in
the form of medical relief, and that if they go to the workhouse it is
only when their peculiar circumstances make it desirable for them to
do so. Wherever a more stringent system of relief is imposed,
pauperism invariably and rapidly decreases; and Mr. Loch, the
Secretary of the Charity Organisation Society, has collected much
evidence to show that, on the whole, old-age pauperism is diminishing,
though it has not been diminishing at the same rate as pauperism under
the age of sixty. The administration of the workhouses has also
greatly improved; and the poor-law infirmaries are becoming hospitals
which are largely resorted to in time of sickness by many who might
easily avoid them. On the whole, old-age destitution is, and must be,
a grave question for philanthropists; but there has been great
exaggeration about its magnitude and its hardships.

The expediency of devising a new and better method of providing for
the destitute aged poor of deserving character has long been
smouldering obscurely in English politics; but it obtained a real
importance for the first time when a very strong Royal Commission,
under the presidency of Lord Aberdare, was appointed, at the beginning
of 1893, to inquire into the question. After long and careful inquiry,
and after hearing a great multitude of witnesses, this Commission
reported in the spring of 1895. The majority of the members, while
recommending various reforms in the administration of the poor-law,
reported decisively against any system of old-age pensions, either in
the form of endowment or assisted assurance, as likely to do more harm
than good; but a minority, which derived special importance from the
presence of Mr. Chamberlain, refused to accept this decision as final,
and urged that the question should be submitted to a smaller body of
experts. In the election which took place in 1895 the question
appeared frequently upon the platform, and many members on both sides
of politics pledged themselves on the subject.

The weight which is always attached to the speeches of Mr. Chamberlain
gave a great impulse to the movement. He never countenanced the idea
of universal old-age pensions, which was already advocated by many;
but he strongly maintained that special provision, apart from the
poor-law and in the shape of pensions, might, and ought to, be made
for the old and deserving poor; he expressed his belief that such a
measure 'would do more than anything else to secure the happiness of
the working classes'; and he suggested as the most feasible scheme
that 'whenever a man acquires for himself in a Friendly Society or
any other society a pension of 2_s._ 6_d._ a week the State should
come in and double that pension.' Mr. Chamberlain, however, did not
insist on this precise proposal; but he gave the question a great
prominence; and among politicians on both sides there was a manifest
tendency to make party capital out of it.

A purely non-party Committee, presided over by Lord Rothschild, and
consisting mainly of distinguished financial authorities connected
with the permanent Civil Service, and therefore removed from active
politics, was appointed in 1896, in accordance with the recommendation
of the Aberdare Commission, to inquire especially into the question of
old-age pensions; and it reported in a document of conspicuous
ability. It was unanimous in condemning as impracticable or dangerous
all the schemes for such pensions that were brought before it; and it
fully confirmed the views of the preceding Commission. The report, and
the evidence on which it is based, clearly show the ways in which
measures intended for the benefit of the working class may prove in
the highest degree injurious to them.

If the matter could have been decided by pure reasoning, this report
might have been generally accepted as decisive. But many of the
supporters of the Government had at the election made speeches in
favour of old-age pensions. One of its most powerful members had
thrown his weight into the scale. The idea had taken hold of great
sections of the working classes. The trade-unions, that see in
increasing old-age poverty the chief drawback to their policy of
enforcing in each trade a uniform and minimum wage, were naturally
delighted that the State should undertake, out of public funds, to
remove their difficulty. A number of Bills dealing with the question
had been introduced into the House of Commons by private members; and
the reluctance of the Government to take it up had become a favourite
form of party attack. The Government acted as perhaps most
Governments, under the circumstances, would have done. While refusing
to give any pledge, and repudiating any sympathy with the idea of
universal pensions, and insisting that an encouragement of thrift
should be an essential condition of any old-age pension scheme, they
refused to admit that a false departure had been made; and they
appointed a new Committee--of which the writer of these lines was a
member--to report upon the best means of improving the condition of
the aged deserving poor, and upon the feasibility of dealing with
their case by old-age pensions.

Mr. Chaplin, the President of the Local Government Board, an
experienced and very popular member of the Cabinet, presided over the
Committee; and the fact that he drew up the report of the majority
gave that report its chief political importance. The Committee
consisted largely of members who had already committed themselves
deeply in favour of old-age pensions; and it will hardly be disputed
in England that it carried with it much less financial and political
weight than its predecessors; and that the majority report--which was
carried by 9 to 4--is more remarkable for the boldness of its
recommendations than for the cogency of its reasoning. It completely,
and almost contemptuously, discarded the conclusions of the majority
of the Aberdare Commission, and the unanimous opinion of the
Rothschild Committee; and it recommended that old-age pensions,
derived in part from Imperial and in part from local sources, and
varying from 5_s._ to 7_s._ a week, should be granted to all the
deserving poor who had attained the age of sixty-five and whose
incomes did not exceed 10_s._ a week. It proposed that these pensions
should be granted by committees established in every poor-law union
and elected by the poor-law guardians; that they should be revised
every three years; and that they should be distributed through the
agency of the post-office.

On the great difficulties that seemed so formidable to its
predecessors it touched very lightly. How many of the poor were likely
under the proposed system to become pensioners, and what burden of
taxation was likely to be thrown on the State, were questions that
were put aside as irrelevant to the inquiry. To meet the enormous
difficulty of deciding upon the real merits, and of investigating the
real circumstances, of the great masses of independent and industrious
labourers who live in the manufacturing towns, or are constantly
moving from one great centre of population to another, and circulating
in quest of work through the whole extent of the Empire, it was
suggested that the relief be confined to those who were resident in a
single locality; and it was pointed out that a number of charities,
endowed out of old legacies or donations, and applying to particular
classes or districts, had come to be administered by the Charity
Commissioners, and that in this restricted field they had been able to
convert a large part of the income at their disposal from doles into
permanent pensions.

The thrift test and the character test, which previous inquirers had
found it almost impossible to establish on a satisfactory basis, were
defined on the loosest lines. The pensioner must not, during the
preceding twenty years, have been sentenced to penal servitude or
imprisonment without the option of a fine; he must not, during the
same period of time, have been in receipt of poor-law relief 'other
than medical relief or unless under circumstances of a wholly
exceptional character'; and he must have 'endeavoured to the best of
his ability, by his industry and by the exercise of reasonable
providence, to make provision for himself and those immediately
dependent on him.'

The extreme vagueness and the extreme elasticity of such provisions
are sufficiently manifest; and it is difficult to see how they can
give any real assistance in practical legislation; while they leave
the door open to the largest and most lavish expenditure. I have
endeavoured in a minority report to deal with these questions at
somewhat greater length than my present space will admit; but a few
pages may suffice to give an outline of the case of those who believe
the new policy to be both mistaken and dangerous.

Nothing is more certain or more cheering in the condition of modern
England than the extraordinary diminution that has taken place, during
the present generation, in pauperism. It began with the reform of the
poor law in 1834; and although it has been found possible to relax
greatly the stringency of the poor-law regulations that were then
made, it has steadily continued. Much of this is due to the increase
in the rate of wages which has taken place in most departments of
English industry, and which has been accompanied by a great decrease
in the cost of most of the chief necessaries of life, as well as by a
considerable reduction in the hours of work. Sir Robert Giffen, in the
very remarkable paper which he published, in 1883, on the condition of
the working classes in England during the preceding fifty years, has
shown that in every class of work in which it is possible to make a
comparison the wages of the labourer have in these fifty years risen
at least 20 per cent., and in most cases between 50 and 100 per cent.;
and he has clearly demonstrated that no other section of the community
has obtained so large a proportion of the increase of the national
wealth, and improved in so great a degree in material prosperity.

But the mere increase of wages is but one element of this improvement.
The very mainspring of the prosperity of the great masses of the
British working classes is to be found in their increased sobriety,
and in the habits of thrift and providence that have followed the
spread of education. The statistics of the Friendly Societies, the
Industrial and Provident Societies, the Building Societies, the
savings-banks, and of countless other institutions, created by
voluntary working-class effort for the purpose of insuring against
sickness or death, and providing working-class investments, attest in
the clearest manner the rapid growth of provident and thrifty habits
among the wage-earning classes. In no other respect is the improvement
of the nation so marked and so indisputable and no element in the
national character is more important to its prosperity and to its
enduring greatness. In the evidence that was brought before our
Committee, it was shown that since 1849 the pauperism of Great Britain
had been reduced from 62.7 per 1,000 to 26.2 per 1,000, if lunatics
and vagrants are included, to 22.8 per 1,000, if lunatics and vagrants
are excluded.

The first, and most vital, condition of any sound legislation for the
relief of poverty is that it should not impair these industrial
qualities, or weaken these vast voluntary organisations of self-help
which are their result. Can it be said that the old-age pension policy
is compatible with this condition?

It proposes to open, in addition to the existing system of poor
relief, a new fund, amounting to many millions of pounds a year, and
drawn from compulsory taxation for the purpose of subsidising simple
poverty; a fund to which it is to be rather creditable than otherwise
to resort; a fund which is intended to deal, not with exceptional
calamity, but with that which springs from the mere efflux of time,
and which is, beyond all others, the most normal and most easily
foreseen. It proposes to teach the whole working population to look to
the State, and not to themselves, for the provision for their old age,
and for the old age of those who might be dependent on them, and thus
to destroy the most powerful of all motives to thrift--the very
mainspring of productive and self-sacrificing industry. And it
proposes to do this at a time when wages are higher than they have
ever been before; when voluntary societies for securing the poor from
want are flourishing and increasing as they have never done before;
when the rapid decline of pauperism is one of the most marked and most
universally recognised signs of national improvement. Can it be
seriously believed that the addition of many millions a year to the
State funds directly employed in the relief of poverty will, in the
long run, tend to diminish pauperism or to encourage self-reliance and

Mr. Chamberlain and the other more considerable advocates of old-age
pensions clearly see that if such pensions are to be of real value
they must discriminate between the deserving and the undeserving; and
they believe that they may have the effect of stimulating, instead of
weakening, thrift. For this purpose several schemes have been devised.

The most popular Continental method of achieving this end is by a law
obliging the working man in early life to insure against old age, and
by supplementing the income derived from this insurance by a State
subsidy. In Germany, where this system is actually carried out, the
old-age pension is derived from three sources--viz. compulsory
insurance by the workers, compulsory contribution by the employer, and
a State subsidy. Compulsory insurance found for many years a powerful
English advocate in Canon Blackley; and it has been recommended by a
recent inquiry in Holland, which, however, refused to propose any
system of old-age pensions. According to the best accounts, the German
system has been far from successful either economically or
politically; and it has certainly not prevented Socialism from
becoming one of the great dangers of the State. Into this question,
however, it is needless to enter, as it is now universally admitted in
England that compulsory insurance for old age is an impossibility; for
it would certainly be repudiated by the working classes.

A large group of proposals are to the effect that old-age pensions
should be granted to all poor persons over the age of sixty-five whose
total income is less than 10_s._ a week, provided that a certain
portion of that income consists of a fixed annuity acquired by their
own industry and thrift. It is urged that in most of the great
branches of industry a deserving man in his earlier and stronger years
could easily earn such an annuity; and it is suggested that the State
should double it, or add to it sufficient to make it up to 10_s._ a
week, or supplement it by a fixed grant of 2_s._ 6_d._, or 5_s._, or
even 7_s._ a week.

The objections to such schemes are very serious. It is obvious that if
they encourage a workman to save up to the amount required to secure a
pension, they would have a directly opposite effect as soon as that
amount had been attained. The first result of any addition to his
income would then be to disqualify him for a pension. It is also
obvious that the pensioner of sixty-five would have a strong
inducement to abstain from the work he could easily do, and that if he
continued to do it he would compete on exceptionally favourable terms
with the workman who, though he had passed the prime of life, was not
yet entitled to a pension, restricting his means of employment and
beating down his wages. Many of the most necessitous and deserving
poor would also be left unrelieved.

Although it is true that in the more flourishing trades men could
easily in early life save out of their wages a sufficient sum to
acquire this annuity, there are large fields of industry in which such
a saving would be almost or absolutely impossible. We have had
melancholy evidence of how utterly insufficient most forms of women's
wages are to provide the needed margin. The same thing is true of the
agricultural labourer in the more depressed districts in England and
in large tracts of Ireland and Scotland. Even in the more remunerative
employments innumerable special circumstances would prevent a thrifty
and deserving man from obtaining this annuity. Certainly no one is
more deserving of compassion and State aid than the widow and young
orphans of a working man; but the scheme we are considering would not
only not help them, but would most seriously injure them. It is a
direct incentive to the workman to sink his savings in an annuity
which would terminate with his own life.

The whole policy, indeed, of attempting to turn all working-class
savings into this one channel is a false one; and it has been shown
that no kind of saving is in fact less popular among working men than
the purchase of a deferred annuity. I may here be allowed to quote a
few lines from my own report:

'In the infinitely various conditions of a working-man's life thrift
will take many forms, and an attempt to prescribe a single form is
eminently injudicious. The whole life-plan of a farmer whose farm will
remain with him to the end will be different from that of an artisan
or a domestic servant whose power of earning a livelihood depends
entirely upon his physical strength. The former will probably find it
most profitable to expend his savings on the improvement of his farm.
Where the system of peasant proprietorship prevails most agricultural
thrift is directed to the purchase and enlargement of farms. In
Ireland it is largely directed to the purchase of tenant right, or to
enabling the younger members of the family to emigrate.

'Nor is it true that even the artisan will find the purchase of an
annuity the best thing to be aimed at. To buy a house or some
furniture; to start a small business; to expend his savings in tiding
over periods of slack or failing work; to avail himself of the
advantage which some fluctuation in the market gives to the man who
can transport himself promptly to a new locality or a new business is
often far more to his advantage. Above all, money expended in settling
his family is often his best policy as well as the course which is
most beneficial to the community. At present a large proportion of
working men look forward to their children to help them in their old
age, and make it a main object of their lives to place them in a
position to do so. It does not seem to me a wise thing for the State
either to emancipate children from this duty or to induce every
married working man to sink his savings in an annuity which will end
with his life and from which his widow and children can derive no
benefit. It is certainly not for the advantage of the country that in
selecting between alternative ways of providing for old age he should
be induced to choose that which throws the greatest burden on the
State. With the vast increase of population, with the great
fluctuations of modern industry, and with the rapid development of the
colonies, it is extremely desirable both in the interest of the
working men and of the State that they should be induced to transfer
themselves from congested towns and from exhausted industries to new
fields. A general pension system would certainly contribute most
powerfully to prevent them from doing so.'

It has been proposed by others that the pension fund should be placed
in the hands of Friendly or Benefit Societies, and that they should be
intrusted with its administration, or that subscription to such
societies for a certain number of years should be taken by the State
as the thrift test. On the first proposal it is sufficient to say,
that these great voluntary societies are themselves opposed to it; for
if they were directly subsidised by the State, they would be obliged
to submit to a State control of their management and their finances
which they do not desire. It is observed that only a very small
proportion of the subscribers to these societies ever find it
necessary to come upon the poor rates; and if a system of old-age
pensions were confined to these limits, it would act in the most
unequal manner. Their members are drawn in a far larger proportion
from the lucrative and flourishing trades than from those which are
struggling and underpaid. Few women belong to them. In Ireland, which
is the poorest part of the Empire, Friendly Societies scarcely exist;
and the same thing is true of large districts in Wales and Scotland.
The main result of such proposals would be to concentrate the new
State fund for the relief of poverty on the richest parts of the
Empire, and on the trades that need it the least.

The extreme difficulty of finding any efficient test of thrift is very
evident; and those proposed by a large number of the advocates of
old-age pensions are so easy as to be almost worthless. Some consider
it sufficient that a man has for a certain number of years not been in
receipt of poor-law relief, except medical relief or relief granted
under 'exceptional circumstances.' Others would accept the mere fact
that a man has lived to be sixty-five, as the drunken and disreputable
workman seldom lives so long. A large number of resolutions have
condemned Mr. Chaplin's report on the grounds that old-age pensions
ought not to be confined to the 'deserving' poor; that they ought to
begin at an earlier age than sixty-five; that they ought to be
administered by a body totally unconnected with the poor law, so as to
carry with them no taint of pauperism or eleemosynary relief. They
ought, it is said, to be universal; to be looked on as a matter of
strict right; to be considered as of the same nature as the pension
given to the soldier or the Civil Servant.

It is obvious that all this may carry us very far. It is estimated
that some of the most popular proposals would involve an annual
expenditure of considerably more than twenty millions of
pounds--making allowance for the saving that might be effected in the
ordinary poor-law relief, but not counting the cost of administration.
And this expenditure would be a growing one; and once accepted it
could hardly be withdrawn. The vast addition to the national debt that
might follow a great European war or the great shrinkage of the
national income that might easily follow some revolution in trade or
manufacture, might render the burden of taxation incomparably more
serious than at present; but once the great mass of the population had
learned to regard State support in old age as their normal prospect
and their inalienable right, it would be impossible, without producing
a social revolution, to recede. All the advantages gained by
generations of economical administration of the national finance would
be nullified; while the certain result of this crushing addition to
taxation would be to weaken incalculably the spirit of thrift,
providence, and self-reliance, and at the same time to lower wages, by
removing one of the great considerations by which they are regulated.
And this reduction of wages would fall not only on the recipient of
the pension, but also on multitudes who would never live to attain it.
Nothing can be more certain than that a general system of pensions
attached to the labour of the wage-earner must lower wages, at least
among all those who are approaching the pension age; while it would
prevent or retard their natural increase over a far wider area.

It would also most certainly bring with it the gravest danger of
corruption. It would not be easy to secure the pure and the impartial
administration of these vast funds; but the political dangers would be
much more serious. It is proposed that the pension system should be
first introduced on a small scale, but gradually extended till it
included all the aged poor, or at least all who were deserving. Such a
question would infallibly pass into the competitions of party warfare.
It would become in most constituencies one of the most prominent of
electioneering tests. Rival candidates would be competing for the
votes of a wage-earning electorate who had a direct pecuniary interest
in increasing or extending pensions and in relaxing the conditions on
which they are given. Can it be doubted that in many cases their first
object would be to outbid one another, and that national and party
politics would soon be forced into a demoralising race of

I cannot conclude without protesting against the supposition that
those who think with me are indifferent to the great evil of old-age
destitution and propose nothing for its relief. The committees which
have most clearly pointed out the dangers of old-age pensions have
also urged, that within the lines of our present poor-law system it is
quite possible to do much, by an improved classification, to
distinguish among the recipients of poor-law relief between the
respectable and the worthless. Much has already been done, and in the
most important unions the guardians have introduced a large amount of
classification by merit. As I have already said, the immense majority
of the respectable aged poor are now relieved only in their own homes
or in comfortable infirmaries. The severe test of absolute destitution
has in practice been greatly relaxed; there is a legal provision
preventing those who are receiving help from Friendly Societies from
being disqualified for relief; husbands and wives are no longer
separated in the workhouse; and in some unions of which we had
evidence much more has been done. This, however, depends too much on
the will of particular Boards of Guardians, and there are in
consequence great inequalities of treatment. The condition of the
deserving poor may be greatly improved by relaxation in points of
hours, discipline, and visitors, and by workhouse arrangements
securing more universally that paupers who have lived respectable
lives should not be obliged to mix with the drunken, the disreputable,
and the hopelessly idle. And, though extensions of outdoor relief
should be carefully watched, and entail great dangers, yet under wise
and strict administration something more may be done in this

But all this should be regarded as essentially poor-law relief, and
not as the recognition of a claim of right for services supposed to
have been rendered to the community. No form of State Socialism is
more dangerous than the doctrine which has been countenanced by Prince
Bismarck, and which is making many disciples in England--namely, that
an industrious man, who has pursued his course in life with perfect
independence, made his own contracts, chosen his own work, and been
paid for it by stipulated wages, is entitled, if he fails in obtaining
a sufficiency for his old age, to be placed as a 'soldier of industry'
in the same category as State servants, and to receive like them, not
on the ground of compassion, but of right, a State pension drawn from
the taxation of the community. There is no real analogy between the
relief that is very properly granted to such workmen in their
destitution, and the pensions--largely of the nature of deferred
pay--that are given by the State or by private employers, under the
terms of distinct contracts, and for specific services duly rendered,
to those who have entered into their employment and placed themselves
under their control.


Aberdare Commission, 303

Addington, 273

American Revolution, 34-37, 55-57, 77, 78

Anne, Queen, 295

Anti-Semite movement, 116-121, 123-125, 128

Arnold, Dr., 251

Australia, 58

Austria, 116, 145

Bacon, 28, 94, 101

Bayard, Mr., 48

Bayle, 97

Beaconsfield, Earl of (B. Disraeli), 126, 151, 153, 207, 211, 214,
    215, 217, 283;
  imperialism, 46;
  policy regarding Eastern Crisis, 222;
  relations with Lord Derby, 223;
  Queen Victoria's regard for, 296

Beer, George, 56

Bentham, J., 43, 101

Bernard, Claude, 121

Bismarck, Prince, 288, 289, 317

Blackley, Canon, 310

Blennerhassett, Lady, 131-133, 145, 148, 149

Blomfield, Bishop, 263

Bossuet, 96-98

Boulanger, General, 116

Bright, 207, 208

British Empire, growth, 51, 53, 64;
  defence, 61, 65;
  unity, 45, 48, 51, 62, 67

Browning, Robert, 105, 251

Buckle, H.T., 29, 100-102, 251, 269

Burke, Edmund, 28, 54, 55, 151, 295

Butler's 'Analogy,' 91, 92

Caird, Principal, 294

Canada, 59, 60

Canning, 151, 174, 188, 189, 198, 199;
  attitude towards Catholic Question, 156, 160, 161, 166-170, 172, 188;
  quoted, 213

Cardan, quoted, 10

Carlyle, Thomas, 47, 91, 216, 247, 251;
  school of, 29;
  style, 105;
  characteristics, 106-113;
  teaching, 107, 108, 110-115

Caroline, Queen, 295

Castlereagh, Viscount, 156, 157, 160, 161, 167, 169, 170, 188

Catherine, of Russia, Empress, 291, 295

Catholic Emancipation, 78-86, 152, 153, 157-174, 187-190, 193, 194, 197;
  _see also under_ Ireland

Cato, 15

Chamberlain, Joseph, 303-304, 309

Charlemagne, 17-19, 266

Charlemont, 73, 81

Chartism, 108, 115

Chatham, Lord, 85, 86, 138, 151, 157-160, 165, 186, 273

Chaucer, 18, 117

Chivalry, 17, 19, 295

Chrysostom, Dio, 16

Church, Dean, 250, 265

Clarendon, Lord, 244, 246, 280

Cobden, Richard, 44, 46, 62

Colenso, Bishop, 272

Coleridge, 22, 96, 112, 147

Colonial policy of Great Britain, 43-46, 52, 53, 55-61

Colonies, British:
  defence, 49, 56, 65;
  federation, 63, 64;
  governors, 52, 54, 60;
  representation, 51, 65, 66;
  trade, 47, 56, 63-65, 225;
  value of, 47-50;
  attachment to the Crown, 277

Comte, 100

Constant, Benjamin, 142, 144, 148

Constitutional sovereignty, 277

Co-operation, 108, 217, 299

Croker, 177, 178

Crusades, 18, 19, 266

Curchod, Mlle., _see_ Necker, Mme.

Curwen's Act, 177

Dalling, Lord, 151

Darwin and his teaching, 90, 101, 114, 247, 251

Davies, Sir John, quoted, 70

Delane, J.T., 243

De Quincey, 107

Derby, 14th Earl of, 201, 202, 204-206, 208-210, 212, 214, 215

Derby, 15th Earl of:
  career, 200, 205-213, 215, 217, 218, 222-224, 234, 235;
  views on Church questions, 205, 210, 214, 232, 233;
  on Reform Bill, 210;
  Indian policy, 205, 209, 210;
  foreign policy, 212, 213, 217-224;
  colonial policy, 208, 224, 225, 228-230;
  attitude towards Home Rule, 234;
  contemporary opinion of him, 206-209, 211-213, 219, 220;
  marriage 215;
  interest in social questions, 205, 206, 212, 216, 217, 224, 235;
  in working men, 205, 206, 210, 216, 217, 237;
  tastes, 239, 240;
  conversation, 240, 241;
  estimate of his talents and character, 202-204, 207, 209, 212, 217,
  speeches, 202, 205, 211, 212, 214, 215, 217, 222-224, 229, 234-236

Dicey, Professor 89

Disraeli, B., _see_ Beaconsfield

Duigenan, 169, 174

Eastern Question, Lord Derby's views on, 218-223

_Edinburgh Review_, 242, 243, 246, 247

Education, popular, 108, 185

Eldon, Lord, 160, 174, 189, 190, 192, 253

Elizabeth, Queen, 291, 295;
  inscription on tomb of, 187

Ellenborough, Lord, 208, 209

Emerson, R.W., 96, 104

Emigration, 49, 50, 53, 108

Erasmus, 257

'Essays and Reviews,' 90

Faber, 250

Factory legislation, 108

Federation, 63, 64, 225

Feudalism, 17, 69, 110

Fitzwilliam, Lord, 85

Flood, 73, 81

Foster, Leslie, 195

Fox, 158, 162, 174

France, 73, 97, 98, 116

Franklin, Benjamin, 94

_Fraser's Magazine_, 104

Free Trade, 44, 45, 47, 63, 64, 78, 225

French Revolution, 28, 37, 38, 82, 139, 141, 142

Froude, J.A., 251, 269

Galdos' 'Gloria,' 117

George II., 295

George III. and Catholic Emancipation, 85, 86, 157-162, 194

George IV., as Prince Regent, 162, 163, 165, 166;
  as King, 188-191, 194

German literature, 146, 147

Germany, 106, 107, 116, 118, 145, 260, 262, 310, 317

Gibbon, 3, 134, 263, 264

Giffen, Sir Robert, 307, 308

Gladstone, W.E., 214, 246, 249, 250, 283, 286-288

Goethe, 107, 147

Gordon, General, 286

Goulburn, 196, 197

Grattan, 78, 81, 82, 84, 161, 163, 164, 166, 168-171, 174, 186, 187,
    195, 197

Grenville, George, 36, 56, 57

Grenville, Lord, 158, 161, 162, 166

Greville, Charles, 206, 207, 209, 243

Grey, Lord, 166, 280

Grote, 251, 269

Guizot, 151, 244

Gustavus III., King of Sweden, 138

Hallam, A., 96, 251, 269

Harcourt, Sir William, quoted, 290

Hastings, Warren, 54, 55

Haussonville, M. d', 134, 138

Hawkesbury, Lord, 161

Hawtrey, Provost, 265

Heber, Bishop, 255

High Church movement, 90, 92, 249-251, 270

Hippisley, Sir John, 163, 169

Historians, qualities requisite, 2, 4-6, 10-12;
  motto for, 10;
  scientific school, 2-4;
  literary, 3;
  methods, 7, 8, 22, 23;
  applied to religion, 97-99;
  eighteenth century, 22, 23;
  fatalist school, 29, 30;
  individualist school, 29, 31

  biographical element, 7, 9;
  individual influences, 12, 13;
  fiction and, 20;
  accident as affecting, 31, 100;
  of institutions, 27, 28;
  of revolutions, 29, 30, 34-38;
  speculations, 32, 33;
  advantages of studying, 38-40;
  moral lessons, 40, 42

Hobbes, 94, 98, 99

Home Rule, _see under_ Ireland

Homer, 16, 22

Ideals, varying popular, 14-19

Imperial Institute, 43

Imperialism, 46-51, 63, 64, 296

India, 44, 46-48, 54, 55, 57, 58, 61, 62, 277

Ireland (_see also_ Ulster):
  invasions, 69;
  rebellions, 71, 82, 83, 85, 157;
  influence of the Reformation, 70;
  under the Stuarts, 71;
  trade, 71, 72, 75, 78;
  effects of English Revolution, 71, 72;
  of American Revolution, 77, 78;
  of French Revolution, 82;
  Young's views on, 76, 77;
  Catholics and Protestants, 70-79, 81-87;
  Volunteer movement, 78, 87;
  political agitation, 77, 78, 82, 87, 88;
  union with Great Britain, 74, 75, 81, 83-85, 157;
  Catholic Emancipation, 81-86, 157-174, 189, 194-198;
  corruption, 175-179, 181, 183;
  discontent, 165, 183, 184, 189, 194;
  tithe commutation, 185-187;
  Church disestablishment, 214, 215, 250, 283;
  land tenure, 70, 75-77, 86, 87;
  landlords, 75-77, 79, 86, 87;
  Home Rule, 25, 87-89, 234, 246, 286, 296;
  Queen Victoria's visit, 290, 291;
  present condition, 86, 87;
  representation in Parliament, 86

Irish Acts of Parliament,
  of settlement, 71;
  octennial, 77;
  of 1793, 85, 158, 159;
  of union, 74, 75, 81, 83-85

Irish Parliament, 71, 72, 74, 75, 77-83, 85

Irishmen, United, 81, 84, 85

Isabella of Spain, Queen, 295

Italian art, 103

Italy, 97, 98, 145, 146

Jefferson, quoted, 37, 38

Jeffrey, 107

Jewish type,
  stability of, 120, 121;
  trade, 118, 119, 121;
  writings, modern investigation of, 8, 9, 257-259, 261, 262, 271, 272

  calumnies against, 117, 118;
  characteristics, 118-130;
  code, 121;
  compared with other tribes, 119;
  continuity of race, 119, 120;
  distinguished, 126-129;
  persecution of, 116-121, 123-126;
  return of, to Palestine, 129, 130;
  Milman's 'History of the', 257, 258, 262, 272

Kant, Immanuel, 92, 147, 247

Keats, John, 256

Keble, John, 250, 270

Kruger, President, 226-228

Landor, Walter Savage, quoted, 22

Leroy, Beaulieu, M. Anatole, 116-128

Lewis, Sir G. Cornewall, 45, 153, 246, 273

Liverpool, Lord, 156, 166, 168, 182, 188, 192-194, 197-199

Lloyd, Dr., 192

Locke, 96, 101

Lockhart, 255

Loughborough, Lord, 186

Louis Napoleon, _see_ Napoleon III.

Lyall, Sir Alfred, 240

Macaulay, Lord, 3, 6, 8, 55, 204, 246, 251, 268, 269, 272, 273

Macleod, Norman, 294

Malmesbury, Lord, 206, 210

Manchester School, 44, 45, 47, 50, 299

Marie Antoinette, Queen, 140, 141

Martin, Sir Theodore, 287

Masson's 'Life of Milton,' 132

Melbourne, Lord, 282, 296

Mill, James, 43, 55

Mill, John Stuart, 90, 96, 206, 210, 251

Milman, Dean,
  career, 253, 256, 262, 263, 271-274;
  dramatist, 253;
  poet, 254, 255;
  translator, 256;
  hymns, 255;
  historian, 257-270;
  critic, 252, 256-261, 263-267, 269;
  learning, 269;
  style, 268, 269;
  views on miracles, 258-260;
  on German criticism, 260-262;
  on Christianity, 268;
  on Tractarian movement, 270;
  on clerical subscription, 271;
  Mr. Reeve and, 246;
  Dean Stanley and, 271;
  friendships, 252, 273;
  private correspondence, 253;
  social gifts, 272, 273;
  characteristics, 252, 253, 257, 265, 266, 268, 269, 271, 272-274;
  works, 252-270, 272, 273;
  portrait, 274

Milman, Arthur, 252

Milner, Bishop, 163, 164

Milton, 132

Mohammedanism, rise of, 32, 101

Molyneux, 74

Monasticism, 24

Montesquieu, 132, 136

Montmorin, Mme, de, 139

Moral standard, changes in, 14-19, 266

Murray, 254

Napoleon I., 142-146, 149

Napoleon III., 280, 288

Narbonne, Louis de, 138-141

Necker, Mme., 134, 135, 142

Necker, Monsieur, 133, 138, 140, 144, 146, 149

Necker, Germaine, _see_ Staël, Mme. de

Newcastle, Duke of, 45, 189

Newman, Cardinal, 90, 96, 249-251, 269, 270

O'Connell, 164, 165, 171, 174, 189, 192, 193, 286

Old-age pensions, 307, 309, 311-316;
  proposals for, 300, 309, 310, 313;
  Royal Commission, 303;
  Rothschild Committee, 304, 305;
  Chaplin Committee, 305, 307

Orangemen, 84, 173, 189, 190

Palestine, return of Jews to, 129, 130

Paley, 95, 260

Palmerston, Lord, 46, 178, 206-209, 211, 246, 279-282

Parker, editor of Peel Correspondence, 153, 156, 192

Parnell, C.S., 186

Parnell Commission, 88, 89

Parsons, 73, 84

Pasteur, 121

Pauperism, diminution of, 298-309

Peel, Sir Lawrence, 156

Peel, Sir Robert,
  education, 154, 155;
  career, 151, 153-156, 168, 172, 177, 187, 188, 194;
  abolition of Corn Laws, 152, 153;
  Irish Secretary, 156, 157, 167, 174-187;
  relations with O'Connell, 174;
  correspondence, 153, 173, 175-185, 189, 190, 191, 197-199;
  Croker and, 177, 178;
  advocates unsectarian education for Ireland, 185, 190;
  Catholic Emancipation, 152, 153, 168-174, 187, 189-191, 193-195, 197-199;
  financial measures, 187, 194, 195;
  patronage, 178-183, 191, 192;
  police force organised, 184, 185;
  Home Secretary, 188-198;
  parliamentary skill, 152, 153, 157, 181, 191;
  debating powers, 172, 173;
  Queen Victoria and, 282, 286;
  recantations, 152, 153, 187, 193, 194;
  estimate of his character and abilities, 151-154, 156, 157, 172, 181, 191

Perceval, 155, 156, 159-161, 165, 166

Pitt, William, _see_ Chatham

Pliny, quoted, 102

Plunket, 84, 168, 174, 188

Pobedonosteff, 117

Pole, Wellesley, 168

Poor-law relief,
  improvement in, 316, 317;
  principles of, 298, 299

Portland, Duke of, 159-161

Portugal, Jews in, 120, 121

Prince Consort, 278-280, 282, 284

Prince Regent, _see_ George IV

Prison reform, Carlyle's views on, 114

Pusey, 250

'Quarterly Review,' 256, 257

Rationalism in Europe, author's History of, 103

Redesdale, Lord, 175, 181, 182, 186

Reeve, Henry:
  education, 243;
  career, 243, 245, 246;
  editor of _Edinburgh Review_, 242, 246, 247;
  historical knowledge, 246;
  views on Home Rule, 246;
  linguistic talent, 243;
  literary judgment, 246, 247;
  religious and philosophical views, 247;
  political and social influence, 242, 244-246;
  friendships, 243, 244, 247, 248;
  writings of, 242-244, 247;
  closing days, 248

Reform Bills, 210, 211, 213

  causes of the, 29, 30;
  effect in Ireland, 70

  American, 34-37;
  effects of, in Ireland, 77, 78

  English, effect of, in Ireland, 71, 72;
  on trade, 72, 74

Revolutions, history of, 29, 30, 34-38

Richmond, Duke of, 165, 167, 187

Ristori, Mme., 245

Rocca, 148, 149

Rogers, Sir Frederick, 45, 46

Roumania, anti-Semite movement in, 116, 118

Rousseau, 96, 132, 136

Ruskin, 251

Russell, Lord John, 46, 47, 211-213, 241, 246, 263, 280, 281, 285

Russia, anti-Semite movement in, 116-118, 124

Salisbury, Lord, 276, 296

Saurin, 165, 168, 169, 174, 183, 188

Schiller, 147

Schleswig-Holstein question, 281, 284, 285

Scotland, Act of Union with, 74

Shaftesbury, Lord, 206, 217

Shelley, P.B., 256, 257

Sidmouth, Lord, 158, 188

Smith, Goldwin, 44, 151

Socialism, 299, 310

Spain, 73, 97, 98, 117, 120, 121, 124, 125

Spencer, Herbert, 90, 109, 247

Staël, Baron de, 138, 140, 142

Staël, Mme. de., parentage, 133, 134;
  personal appearance, 135;
  career, 134-138, 142, 145, 148-150;
  devotion to her father, 138;
  friendships, 138, 139, 142, 145;
  literary works, 136, 141, 142, 145-150;
  Napoleon I., views on, 143, 144;
  political influence, 139, 140, 142, 144;
  religious views, 136, 149;
  travels, 145, 146;
  characteristics, 136, 137, 141, 145, 148, 149

Stanley, Dean, 251, 260, 271, 294

Stanley, Lord, _see_ Derby, 15th Earl of

Stockmar, Baron, 278

Sullivan, Sir Arthur, 254

Tait, Archbishop, 283

Talleyrand, 134, 139, 142, 144

Taxation of American Colonies, 34-36, 56, 57;
  democratic principles of, 300

Taylor, Sir Henry, 45, 46

Tennyson, Lord, 90, 251

Tocqueville, 242-244

  Colonial, 47, 56, 63-65;
  Indian, 47;
  Irish, 71, 72, 75, 78;
  Jewish, 118, 119, 121;
  affected by English Revolution, 72

Transportation to Australia, 58

Transvaal affairs, 225-232, 286

Trinity College, Dublin, 90-92, 96-100, 103

Ulster, 70, 77, 78, 83, 84

United Irishmen, 81, 84, 85

Voltaire, 7, 96, 121, 135

Volunteer movement in Ireland, 78, 87

Victoria, Queen:
  relations with her Ministers, 279-283, 286-288, 296;
  memorandum on foreign affairs, 279, 280;
  political influence, 277, 278, 280, 282-286, 288;
  patronage, 278;
  views on foreign policy, 279-281, 283-286;
  on Irish Church disestablishment, 283;
  on women's suffrage, 294;
  on Home Rule, 296;
  wide experience, 276, 279, 287;
  letters, 288, 289;
  journals, 292, 293;
  widowhood, 275, 292, 296;
  moral influence, 291, 292;
  rule of, 275, 277-279, 281-284, 293-295;
  popularity, 289-291, 293, 296, 297;
  characteristics, 274-276, 279, 281-283, 287-294, 296, 297;
  jubilees, 290, 296, 297;
  visit to Ireland, 290, 291;
  closing days, 296, 297

Walpole, Spencer, 151

Ward, 250

Watts, 274

Wellesley, Lord, _see_ Wellington, Duke of

Wellington, Duke of, 160, 161, 166, 167, 188-190, 198, 272, 289

Whateley, Archbishop, 92-96, 100, 251

Women rulers, 295

Working classes, improvement in their condition, 300, 301, 308

York, Duke of, 194, 197-199

Young, Arthur, 76, 77


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