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Title: A Short History of English Liberalism
Author: Blease, Walter Lyon, 1884-1963
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Short History of English Liberalism" ***

Transcriber's note: A few typographical errors have been corrected: they
are listed at the end of the text.

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Page numbers enclosed by curly braces (example: {25}) have been
incorporated to facilitate the use of the Table of Contents and Index.

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    _No rational man ever did govern himself by abstractions and
    universals.... A statesman differs from a professor in an university;
    the latter has only the general view of society.... A statesman, never
    losing sight of principles, is to be guided by circumstances; and,
    judging contrary to the exigencies of the moment, he may ruin his
    country for ever._

    BURKE, "On the Petition of the Unitarians."


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_First Published in 1913_

(_All rights reserved._)

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  CHAPTER                                                 PAGE

  I. LIBERALISM AND TORYISM                                  7




  V. THE DECLINE OF TORYISM                                142

  VI. THE MIDDLE-CLASS SUPREMACY                           168



  IX. GLADSTONE VERSUS DISRAELI                            265

  X. THE IMPERIALIST REACTION                              294

  XI. LIBERALISM SINCE 1906                                324

       *       *       *       *       *


A Short History of English Liberalism



This book attempts to trace the varying but persistent course of Liberalism
in British politics during the last hundred and fifty years. It is not so
much a history of events as a reading of them in the light of a particular
political philosophy. In the strict sense a history of Liberalism should
cover much more than politics. The same habit of mind is to be discovered
everywhere else in the history of thought, most conspicuously in religious
history, but not less certainly in the history of science and of art. The
general victory in these innumerable conflicts of opinion has been to
Liberalism, and the movement of the race, during the period with which the
writer is concerned, is precisely measured by the degree in which the
Liberal spirit has succeeded in modifying the establishments of the
preceding age. The object of this book is to investigate the course of that
process of modification in politics.

By Liberalism I mean, not a policy, but a habit of mind. It is the
disposition of the man who looks upon each of his fellows as of equal worth
with himself. He does not assume that all men and women are of equal
capacity, or equally entitled to offices and privileges. But he is always
inclined to leave and to give them equal opportunity with himself for
self-expression and for self-development. He assumes, as the basis of his
activity, that he has no right to interfere with any other person's
attempts {8} to employ his natural powers in what he conceives to be the
best way. He is unwilling to impose his judgment upon that of others, or to
force them to live their lives according to his ideas rather than their
own. They are never to be used by him for his own ends, but for theirs.
Each is to be left to himself, to work out his own salvation. The Liberal
habit of mind has its positive as well as its negative side. Just as it
leads its possessor to refrain from interfering with the development of
others, so it leads him to take active steps to remove the artificial
barriers which impede that development. Natural obstacles will remain,
though even these may be diminished. But the artificial conditions, which
prevent or hinder growth, are perpetually obnoxious to the Liberal. Upon
class distinctions in society, privileges of sex, rank, wealth, and creed,
he wages unceasing war. They are, in his eye, weights and impediments. To
one of two individuals, not distinguishable in natural capacity, they give
an advantage which is denied to the other. It is the object of the Liberal,
not to deprive any individual of such opportunities as are required for the
exercise of his natural powers, but to prevent the excessive appropriation
of such opportunities by members of the privileged class. The differences
between the practical aims and methods of Liberals at different times are
very wide. But the mental habit has always been the same. "The passion for
improving mankind, in its ultimate object, does not vary. But the immediate
object of reformers and the forms of persuasion by which they seek to
advance them, vary much in different generations. To a hasty observer they
might even seem contradictory, and to justify the notion that nothing
better than a desire for change, selfish or perverse, is at the bottom of
all reforming movements. Only those who will think a little longer about it
can discern the same old cause of social good against class interests, for
which, under altered names, Liberals are fighting now as they were fifty
years ago."[1] The constitutional Liberalism of Fox, the economical
Liberalism of Cobden, and the new collectivist Liberalism of Mr. Lloyd {9}
George exhibit great differences in comparison. But the three men are alike
in their desire to set free the individual from existing social bonds, and
to procure him liberty of growth.

The justification for this individual freedom is not that the man is left
to his own selfish motives, to develop himself for his own advantage. It is
that it is only in this way that he can realize that his own best advantage
is only secured by consulting that of his fellows. "The foundation of
liberty is the idea of growth ... it is of course possible to reduce a man
to order and prevent him from being a nuisance to his neighbours by
arbitrary control and harsh punishment.... It is also possible, though it
takes a much higher skill, to teach the same man to discipline himself, and
this is to foster the development of will, of personality, of self-control,
or whatever we please to call that central harmonizing power which makes us
capable of directing our own lives. Liberalism is the belief that society
can safely be founded on this self-directing power of personality."[2] This
Liberalism has nothing to do with anarchy. Coercion may be consistently
applied wherever individual liberty is employed for the public injury, and
the imprisonment of burglars and the regulation of factories by law are
only two aspects of the same thing. But Liberalism restricts freedom only
to extend freedom. Where the individual uses his own liberty to restrict
that of others he may be coerced. But in spite of the modifications to
which all such political principles must be subject, the general rule holds
good. The ideal Liberal State is that in which every individual is equally
free to work out his own life.

The practical difficulty of working out the relations between the
individual and the society in which he is placed is of course very great,
and it will probably always be impossible to maintain a perfect
equilibrium. No doubt we shall always suffer from one or other of the two
unsatisfying conditions--the sacrifice of the individual to what the
majority thinks to be the right of the whole society, and the sacrifice of
the {10} society to the undue emancipation of the individual. But the
necessary imperfection of the result is no argument against this or any
other political system of thought. Politics are no more than a means of
getting things done, and when we have found a society of perfect human
beings, we can fairly complain that their affairs are not perfectly
managed. So far as he can, the Liberal aims at securing this balance of
social and individual good, remembering that the good of society can only
be measured by the good of all its members, and not by the good only of
some dominant rank, creed, or class. "Rights are relative to the well-being
of society, but the converse proposition is equally true, that the
well-being of society may be measured by the degree in which their moral
rights are secured to its component members.... The moral right of an
individual is simply a condition of the full development of his personality
as a moral being. Equally, the moral right of any community is the
condition of the maintenance of its common life, and since that society is
best, happiest, and most progressive which enables its members to make the
utmost of themselves, there is no necessary conflict between them. The
maintenance of rights is the condition of human progress.... To reconcile
the rule of right with the principle of the public welfare is the supreme
end of social theory."[3]

In practical politics the work of modern Liberalism has been to alter the
conditions of society so that this freedom of growth may be secured for
each member of it. The old conception of society was a conception of
classes. Human beings were graded and standardized. Certain privileges were
reserved for certain groups. Society looked, for its estimate of a man, not
to his natural powers, not to what he might make of himself, but to his
brand or mark. If within a certain degree, he had a free choice of his mode
of life; if without it, he found his condition prescribed, sometimes so
rigorously that he could hardly ever improve it. Liberalism has endeavoured
to go deeper into the man, to get beneath the outward complexion, {11} to
find out his intrinsic worth, and to give him that place in the social
estimate which his natural powers deserve. Arbitrary distinctions are
abhorrent to it. It is incapable of thinking in terms of class. Every class
is, in its eyes, only an aggregate of individuals, and to exalt one class
above another is to appreciate some individuals at the expense of others,
to place marks of comparative social worth upon the members of different
groups which do not correspond to the relative values of their natural
qualities. Against a privileged race, rank, creed, or sex Liberalism must
fight continually. By the artificial elevation of one above another, it is
made to count for more in society, its members are aggrandized and those of
its rivals are depreciated; and while the first are encouraged to abuse,
the second are hampered and fettered in their growth. The Liberal asserts
that no man, because he happens to be of a particular sect, or to be born
of a particular family, or to possess a particular form of property, or to
hold particular opinions, shall be invested by Society with privileges
which give him an advantage in social intercourse over his fellows. He does
not assert that all human beings are equal in capacity, but he demands that
their natural inequalities shall not be aggravated by artificial
conditions. For what he is worth, each shall be free to realize his highest

The Liberal conception of equality as between individuals is extended to
the case of Churches, of nations, and of sexes. These classes are indeed
not regarded by the Liberal as classes, but simply as associations, for
limited purposes, of individuals, who are, in all essential respects,
separate and distinct. To confer a privilege upon one Church or nation or
sex is simply to confer a privilege upon the individuals who compose it,
and whether the privilege is the monopoly of political power or the sole
right to take part in a public ceremony, it does in greater or less degree
affect the relative social values of the members of the two groups, and
places the members of the inferior at the disposition of those of the
superior. To give the Established Church the sole right to take part in the
coronation of the King is a violation {12} of Liberal principle of the same
kind, though not of the same degree, as to exclude Dissenters or Catholics
from Parliament, and if men were content to exclude women only from the
legal profession, they would be arrogating to themselves a superior value
no less clearly than when they refuse to them the right to control their
own government.

The same general habit of mind is applied to foreign policy. The
acknowledgment of the equal worth of individuals within the nation becomes
the acknowledgment of the equal worth of nations among themselves.
"Nationalism has stood for liberty, not only in the sense that it has
resisted tyrannous encroachment, but also in the sense that it has
maintained the right of a community to work out its own salvation in its
own way. A nation has an individuality, and the doctrine that individuality
is an element in well-being is rightly applied to it. The world advances by
the free, vigorous growth of divergent types, and is stunted when all the
fresh bursting shoots are planed off close to the heavy, solid stem."[4]
The interference of one with another, attempts to prescribe the limits or
the cause of development, are as obnoxious in international as in
intra-national relations. It was in fact in connection with this idea of
nationality that the words "Liberal" and "Liberalism" came into use. The
first English Liberals were those statesmen who followed Canning in his
championship of Greece and the South American Republics, and some of them
were very far from being Liberals within the borders of their own State.[5]

This extension of Liberalism from individuals to nations is easy as a
mental process, but very far from easy as a matter of practical politics.
Nationality is not difficult to define in general terms. It is sometimes
infinitely difficult to decide in a particular case whether the general
definition applies. John Stuart Mill has perhaps given as much precision to
the Liberal conception of nationality as it can bear. "A portion of mankind
may be said {13} to constitute a nation if they are united among themselves
by common sympathies which do not exist between them and others. This
feeling of nationality may have been generated by various causes. Sometimes
it is the effect of identity of race and descent. Community of language and
community of religion greatly contribute to it. Geographical limits are one
of the causes. But the strongest of all is identity of political
antecedents, the possession of a national history and consequent community
of recollections, collective pride and humiliation, pleasure and regret,
connected with the same incidents in the past."[6] Nationality is not a
thing of sharp outline, any more than any other political conception, and
community of interest, the management of common concerns over a long period
of time, has triumphed over differences so potent as those of race and
creed. Such has been the fortune of Switzerland, of Canada, and of white
South Africa, and it is the hope of Liberalism that such will also be the
fortune of Ireland. Without attempting to draw hard lines between
communities, the Liberal sees in them distinctions of worth and capacity
such as he sees in individuals, and he would give the same freedom of
self-development to a nation as to a human being.

The idea that nations are to be bound by moral rules as much as individuals
is only another application of the general rule that one man is to be
treated as equally entitled with every other to the development of his own
faculties. The same rule is extended to nations as to single persons. No
one people has the right to interfere with the free development of another,
until it is clearly and unmistakably proved that that free development will
be generally injurious. Once this principle is accepted, it becomes
impossible, as in the case of single persons, for one nation to decline to
recognize moral rules in its dealings with others. Morality is nothing but
the subjection of individual wills to the common will, as expressed in
defined rules. Immorality is only the arrogance of the individual will,
refusing to submit itself to general rules, while it endeavours to enforce
general rules upon {14} others. The Liberal State is that which recognizes
the universal application of its own principles of conduct, declines to
thrust its own ideas upon unwilling associates, and works in harmony with
other races instead of in opposition to them.

It is not suggested here that it is any part of the Liberal doctrine to
seek peace at any price, or to turn the other cheek to the smiter. A vital
condition of the existence of morality is that moral persons shall be ready
at all times to defend it. To suffer wanton aggression is as fatal to a
nation as to an individual. It is a mere encouragement to the general
infringement of rights which means the dissolution of international
morality. Liberal patriotism exists, though it is of a different kind from
that patriotism which is so conspicuous a feature of our modern
Imperialism. Imperialist patriotism is often a vulgar assertion of selfish
power. Liberal patriotism is a means of diminishing national selfishness.
Just as the Liberal believes that the best life within the nation is
produced by the growth of free individuality, so he believes that the best
life in the race at large is produced by the growth of free nationality.
"If there is one condition precedent to effective internationalism or to
the establishment of any reliable relations between States, it is the
existence of strong, secure, well-developed, and responsible nations.
Internationalism can never be subserved by the suppression or forcible
absorption of nations; for these practices react disastrously upon the
springs of internationalism, on the one hand setting nations on their armed
defence and stifling the amicable approaches between them, on the other
debilitating the larger nations through excessive corpulence and
indigestion. The hope of a coming internationalism enjoins above all else
the maintenance and natural growth of independent nationalities, for
without such there could be no gradual evolution of internationalism, but
only a series of unsuccessful attempts at a chaotic and unstable
cosmopolitanism. As individualism is essential to any sane form of national
socialism, so nationalism is essential to internationalism."[7]


By far the most difficult of all the tasks which Liberalism has to perform
is in its conduct of foreign policy. Even in domestic affairs it is often
not easy to calculate the effects of particular proposals, how far they can
be pressed towards the ideal, in what temper they will be received by the
people, with what smoothness they will operate when they have been
expressed in an Act of Parliament. It is a matter of accommodating
ourselves to somewhat intractable material, and of managing, persuading,
and guiding human beings whose motives we cannot directly control. But the
facts are at least fairly within reach. The Liberal statesman has as much
opportunity as anybody can have of knowing the mental habit and disposition
of those whom his legislation will affect. He is acquainted with their
history. He is guided by previous successes or failures. In the last
resort, he knows that the great bulk of the people concerned will respect
the law even if they dislike it, and will express their dissent no more
dangerously than by turning him out of office. In foreign affairs his
difficulties are infinitely greater, and the consequences of failure may be
disastrous. He is dealing, not with subjects, but with independent persons,
who, except in a few points settled by agreement, observe no common law
with himself. Their objects are obscure, and may only temporarily coincide
with his own. They may have private arrangements among themselves of which
he knows little or nothing, and if they cheat him in their own interest he
has no remedy except one which is so violent as to be worse almost than any
disease. Finally, even if his knowledge of the facts were more accurate,
and his confidence in his associates more complete, he would still be
baffled by the hostility to Liberal ideas which animates some, if not all,
of the foreign diplomatists.

These are obstacles to direct action which it would be folly not to take
into consideration, and in the case of the present Foreign Secretary they
seem to have proved insuperable. But in some directions it is obvious that
the Liberal statesman can pursue his course without fear. Where no powerful
opponent or associate is concerned, he is as free as within his own
country, and he is bound to act on purely Liberal principles. He must act
always {16} according to moral rules, even in dealing with weak peoples. He
is bound to do nothing which would help to maintain a vicious system or
government. He is bound not to interfere in the domestic affairs of another
nation, save where the fundamental liberties of his own countrymen are in
danger. It is equally his duty to refrain from arrogance towards distracted
China and towards united Germany. It is not his business to lecture the
Russian Government for its vile domestic policy or the Spanish Government
for the atrocious murder of Ferrer. But it is no more his business to
strengthen these Governments, either by his alliance or otherwise, in thus
acting towards their subjects. It is no doubt the duty of Liberals who are
private persons to protest against cruelty and oppression, wherever it may
be found. Public opinion counts for something, even in a foreign country,
and if we cannot prevent evil abroad, we can at least keep alive the hatred
of it in our own country. The Englishman who is indifferent to the
sufferings of Finland is in danger of becoming insensitive to his own. But
whatever may be the duty of private persons, official representations to a
foreign State are always useless, and often exaggerate the evils to which
they refer. In the face of foreign dictation, domestic tyranny becomes a
patriotic duty. Whatever a Liberal Foreign Secretary may think, he must not
dictate to any established Government. But his duty on the other side is
equally clear, and he must do nothing to strengthen such a Government
against its subjects. Palmerston's expressed approval of Napoleon III's
_coup d'état_ and Sir Edward Grey's more indirect support of the present
Russian tyranny are equally illiberal. If a Government which violates every
Liberal principle in its domestic policy is not to be treated as an enemy,
it is no more to be treated as a friend. It is entitled to the honourable
observance of all agreements for the joint management of joint concerns,
and to perfect freedom in its own domestic administration. It is not
entitled to anything which will enhance its power. To assist it directly or
indirectly is to participate in its wrongdoing, and no Liberal can safely
do that without impairing his own character. {17}

These are elementary rules which the Liberal must observe in all cases
where his conduct is to be determined by nothing out of his own control. In
other cases he can often do very little, and is compelled to acquiesce in
conduct of which he would never himself be guilty. Here it is his duty to
do as much as he can, to avoid the offensive imposition of his own ideas
upon his fellows, to avoid arrangements which dispose of the fortunes of
weak peoples irrespective of their wishes, to work in concert, not with one
Power or group of Powers, but with all who are interested, and, in case of
difficulty, to throw his weight into the scale with those whose aims most
resemble his own. Generally, it is his duty to substitute the expression of
moral rules by arbitration for the brutal assertion of national egoism in
war. But there is no general presumption against war. It is always an evil.
But it may be the least of possible evils. War for the independence of his
own nation requires no justification. War for the independence of another
nation or for the defence of some rule of international morality is to be
judged by its expediency. "It seems to be impossible to state the principle
of non-intervention in rational and statesmanlike terms, if it is under all
circumstances, and without qualification or limit, to preclude an armed
protest against intervention by other foreign Powers. There may happen to
be good reasons why we should on a given occasion passively watch a foreign
Government interfering by violence in the affairs of another country. Our
own Government may have its hands full; or it may have no military means of
intervening to good purpose; or its intervention might in the long run do
more harm than good to the object of its solicitude. But there can be no
general prohibitory rule. When a military despot interferes to crush the
men of another country while struggling for their national rights, no
principle can make it wrong for a free nation to interfere by force against
him. It can only be a question of expediency and prudence."[8] In other
words, the importance of the moral rule involved must be weighed with the
chances {18} of success, the cost of war, the waste of life and wealth, and
the sufferings of the poorer classes, which are the inevitable consequences
of war. In the face of a universal enemy like Napoleon a war on behalf of
Spain and Portugal was just. The Crimean War and the Boer Wars were unjust.
Wars on behalf of Poles or Finns against Russia or Hungarians against
Austrians would have been just, but not expedient, because no maritime
power could have waged them with any chance of permanent success. It is a
matter of calculation, and there are few wars, other than wars for the
independence of their own country, which Liberals would not hold to cost
more in blood and treasure than the principle for which they were

It is obvious that this reasoning is entirely inconsistent with the theory
of the balance of power. That theory, unhappily revived in recent years,
requires not merely the subordination of morality to expediency in
particular cases, but the complete abandonment of morality as a condition
of international politics. Its essence is not international agreement and
the rule of right, but international hostility and the rule of force. It
sets the States into two groups, one of which must always act against the
other. England's policy is no longer decided by herself, but by herself in
consultation with allies, whose character and objects may be purely
selfish. If one of her associates is guilty of immoral aggression against
one of the opposing group, or asserts some right which ought only to be
conferred upon her by international agreement, she is dragged into a
quarrel in defence of wrong against right, and not only violates moral
rules in the particular case, but weakens her own ability to observe them
in every other. Her honour and her interest alike are placed in the hands
of others. She accepts a bill in blank, which the holder may fill in with
any amount he pleases. In cases of extreme necessity this may be
inevitable. When all are threatened by an enemy of the type of Napoleon,
England cannot dissociate herself from the rest on account of their want of
scruple. But as a settled and habitual policy the maintenance of the
balance of power must be abhorrent to every {19} man who is not ready to
put his conscience into the keeping of others.

An examination of the opposing mode of thought will make clearer the
essential nature of Liberalism. This opposite may fairly be called Toryism,
if that term is used, like the other, to describe a persisting habit of
mind and not a policy, which varies from generation to generation.
Conservatism and Unionism are not satisfactory equivalents. The latter,
especially, expresses only opposition to a particular project of
Liberalism, and is itself, like its object, of a temporary nature.
Conservatism on the other hand, though a permanent force, is not
essentially opposed to Liberalism. It is indeed often allied with Toryism,
and so long as Liberalism continues to do positive and reconstructive work
the strength of Toryism must generally lie in this negative and preserving
instinct. When the two opponents exchange their usual parts, the
Conservative mass swings over to the Liberal side. It is to Conservatism,
as well as to Liberalism, that Free Trade owes its present security. In the
face of active retrogression, the true Conservative, without becoming a
Liberal, ranges himself with Liberals. But this sort of temporary alliance
is rare. Until very recent years Liberalism has been the active and
changing force, and has accordingly always found Conservatism its enemy.

A very good illustration of this working agreement between the positive
dislike of individual emancipation and the negative reluctance to modify an
institution which prevents it was furnished a short time ago by the Dean of
Canterbury. The Convocation of the Diocese was considering whether the
wife's pledge to obey her husband should be struck out of the marriage
service. To the Liberal, this pledge, purporting to invest the subjection
of the female sex to the male with a divine sanction, is one of the most
obnoxious of all the fetters upon the freedom of women. Regarding the woman
as of equal worth with the man, he has no doubt that this institution must
be modified in her interest. On the occasion in question, the proposal for
her {20} relief was successfully opposed by the Dean. He said that when
they were asked to say that the views of the Apostles regarding the
position of the two sexes were wrong, that was a somewhat alarming and
distressing principle to introduce into their deliberations. They were
bound, not only by the ancient traditions of their Church, but by their
vows, to submit their judgment absolutely to the statements of the Apostles
on matters of that kind.[9] This is a clear case of Conservatism defending
Toryism. The subjection of the wife enjoined by the marriage service dates
from a period long preceding even that of apostolic barbarism, when women
were regarded as absolutely at the disposition of their male associates. In
origin it was a crude assertion of the male ego at the expense of the
female. The modern Church makes no such naked requisition, and defends the
selfish establishment, not because it is selfish, but because it is an

This is the usual method of Conservatism. The position was fixed by the
remote ancestors of the present garrison, and they are content to defend it
even though they would never have themselves taken it up. But pure Toryism
lives to-day, and reproduces the thoughts, the arguments, and often the
very words, of the Toryism of a century ago. Opponents of Disestablishment
repeat the language of the supporters of the Test Act. Opponents of Woman
Suffrage, even those who call themselves Liberals, argue as Eldon and Peel
argued against Parliamentary Reform. Ulster preserves the atmosphere of the
struggle for Catholic Emancipation. Mr. Lloyd George, like Mr. Joseph
Chamberlain thirty years ago, excites the same fury as was produced by Tom
Paine's _Rights of Man_. The same principles contend on different stages,
and through the mouths of different actors. Though the cries of the
unending warfare change, the parties are always the same. Liberty is like
the books of the Roman Sybil. As each instalment is wrested from the grasp
of the monopolists, the remainder becomes at once as precious as was
previously the whole: loss of one privilege never prepares them for the
surrender of another. The admission of Dissenters {21} to public office
involved no adoption of the general principle that all sects should be
treated equally by the State. The abandonment of rotten boroughs was no
acknowledgment that every individual subject to government had the right to
control government. The innumerable concessions made by Toryism to Irish
nationality have involved no general recognition. The old arguments have
been shattered and dissipated in more than one contest. But when the forces
of Liberalism advance against the next line of defence, the ancient
retainers of monopoly are dragged from the hospitals and galvanized into
new activity, to be routed again after a struggle almost as bitter and as
long as the first. Toryism is beaten. It is never converted.

This Toryism is the habit of mind which refuses to concede to others that
right of free expression which it requires for itself. It is the egoistic
mind which regards all others as at its disposition. Its opinions are of
superior worth, and others must give way. As the Liberal temper is
extended, so is the Tory. The ego includes the Church, the occupation, the
nation, and the sex of the individual. It thinks of human beings in
classes, as distinguished from itself. They are Dissenters, or "people who
do not agree with my religious opinions"; tenants, or "people who pay money
to me or my class for the privilege of working or living on our land";
foreigners, or "people who happen to be born in countries other than my
own"; wives, widows, and spinsters, or "persons who are, or have been, or
will be connected with my sex." The Tory habitually thinks of his
fellow-creatures not according to their individuality, but according to
their class, the face value which, regardless of their intrinsic worth,
either entitles or disentitles them to his favour. They either belong to
his own class or they do not. The real worth of each is not the standard by
which he forms his judgment of them. Every act and utterance, every request
and protest of another person is referred to the artificial connection, or
distinction, instead of being judged for itself. The prime condition is
that the other should keep in his place. By the Liberal the other is
considered as an isolated object, an end in {22} himself, to be treated
without regard to any artificial association between them. The accidental
is distinguished from the essential, and the creed, nationality,
occupation, or sex is not allowed to interrupt the clear view of the human
being who is enclosed in it. The Tory deals with his object as invested
with a status. The Liberal deals with the man in himself.

These different points of view determine the different attitudes of the two
parties to political problems as they arise. The pure Tory is of course as
rare as the pure Liberal, and neither of the two groups, which are at any
particular time described as Liberal and Tory, corresponds exactly with the
habit of mind associated with its name.[10] Self-styled Tories are
occasionally strongly Liberal in particular cases. Windham, who thought
that the abolition of bull-baiting was a dangerous revolution, voted
against the Slave Trade. Peel, the greatest man whom the old Tory party
ever produced, was Liberal in finance, in legislation about crime and
factories, and in foreign policy. In the same way, men who are Liberal in
ninety-nine cases out of a hundred show {23} themselves to be Tory in the
last. Robert Lowe, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer in the great Liberal
Ministry of 1868, had as fierce a contempt for the working classes as Lord
Salisbury himself. The question of Woman Suffrage, appearing unexpectedly
on the surface of politics in 1906, has divided both parties, though in
different proportions. The true Liberal supports the demand for
enfranchisement. The true Tory opposes it. But the agitation has discovered
some of the most bitter of sexual egoists on the Radical benches of the
House of Commons, and champions of the individual's right to control her
own government even among the Cecils.[11] The division between the members
of the schools is thus not sharply defined. But the schools always exist,
and it is in the perpetual conflict between them that the progress of the
nation takes place.

Every political problem involves a conflict between an existing institution
and the interest of individuals. The two parties thus approach it from
different sides. The Tory looks down from the institution to the man, the
Liberal up from the man to the institution. To the Liberal, the State and
all other institutions within it are things of flesh and blood, they are so
many expressions of human society, associations of human beings for their
own human purposes. To the Tory, the institution is a machine, its
efficient working is everything, and it is the duty of the individual to
subordinate himself to that object whether his own interest is served by it
or not. The Liberal says, "The State is made for man, and not man for the
State." The Tory reverses the dogma, and even when he pursues the good of
individuals, he pursues it rather in order to make them better soldiers or
workers, that is to say, better servants of the State, than to make them
better in themselves. Democratic government to the Liberal is an essential
condition of the free growth of the individual soul. To the Tory, if he
believes in it at all, it is a piece of efficient political machinery.
"What use can the State make of this man?" asks the Tory. "What {24} use
can this man make of himself?" asks the Liberal. The Tory theory is
expressed in terms of duties, the Liberal in terms of rights. The disposing
mind is at the back of the one, the encouraging mind at the back of the
other. The Tory finds the good of the individual in the strength of the
State. The Liberal finds the strength of the State in the good of the
individual. Where the one seeks to maintain and use, the other seeks to
ease, to alter, and to readjust, binding himself to no particular scheme of
political or economic construction, but ready to apply to each case of
individual hardship, as it arises, such devices as he can invent.

Practical Toryism, the theory as it has been expressed in actual politics,
has been until recent years the Toryism of a governing class. But no class
has a monopoly of it. The same habit of mind exists everywhere. There is
nothing so universal as the aristocratic temper, which disposes of the
fortunes of others according to its own sense of what is fitting. The Tory
statesman of a hundred and fifty years ago was a landowner, a Churchman,
and a man of wealth. But his view of life would have been much the same if
he had been a tinker, an atheist, and in daily expectation of the
workhouse. He might, in pursuit of his own class interest, have rebelled
against the Toryism of the governing class, without abating any of his own.
To such persons as came within his disposition he would display the same
zeal for the assertion of his own ego at the expense of theirs, as that
which he resented in his own superiors. Even the poorest man has generally
a wife, and even the meanest of Englishmen can always speak contemptuously
of foreigners. Toryism is a habit of mind, which is often modified by
circumstances, but can and does exist in men and women of all classes,
irrespective of wealth, creed, or occupation.

It is true that this Tory doctrine is not always crudely stated. The
formula is more often that of identification than that of disposition. If
the inferior class is so placed that the superior class may dispose of it,
it suffers no hardship, because the interest of both is the same. The
people are identified with the State, {25} the workmen are identified with
the employer, the wife is identified with the husband. Make the State
strong, and you make the people happy. Give the employer higher profits,
and the workmen get higher wages out of those profits. Give the husband
security and freedom, and the wife will partake of them both. But whatever
the form of argument may be, the result is the same. There is an inevitable
tendency in human nature to deteriorate in the enjoyment of absolute power.
Some governing classes may use the strength of the State to make the people
happy. Some employers may cheerfully share their increased gains with their
workpeople. Some husbands may concede to their wives that complete freedom
of occupation, expression of opinion, and control of property which they
themselves possess. But history and contemporary experience alike afford
innumerable examples of governing classes oppressing or keeping down their
subjects, of employers giving higher wages only in response to strong or
even violent pressure from their workmen, and of husbands depriving their
wives of independence of thought and action, and even of the control of
their own bodies. There is no security for the individual in the generosity
of superiors. It is only when all are recognized by the State as having
equal worth in their relations with each other that individual liberty can
be enjoyed by all.

The essential differences between Liberalism and Toryism are revealed in
their disputes about the larger political topics. The franchise never fails
to draw clear expressions of character from both sides. To the Liberal, the
right of a man to control his own government is only one of the many rights
which go to make up his right to control his own life. His freedom of life
cannot be complete if, without his consent, his earnings may be diminished
by taxation, his business ruined by a commercial treaty, the education of
his children prescribed by legislation, and his whole fortune impaired by a
declaration of war. There can be no real freedom of growth without control
of government. But the argument for enfranchisement is based on more than
the {26} direct consequences of it. That the man who is taxed against his
will enjoys only an imperfect freedom is obvious. What is not so readily
perceived is that he is indirectly affected in a much more serious way. It
is axiomatic that a governing class will, sooner or later, abuse its
absolute power. Landowners use the tariff to increase their rents, and so
impose burdens upon the poor. The middle class prohibits the combination of
workmen in trade disputes, or resists the regulation of factories by law.
Working-men exclude working-women from trades which they wish to preserve
for their own sex. Men erect a system of marriage law which places the wife
in the power of the husband. All this is written in history, and cannot be
disputed. But the unseen consequences of disfranchisement are not so often
realized. There is constant action and reaction between political
institutions and social estimates. If disfranchisement springs from
depreciation, it also encourages it. To confine the control of government
to one class is to appreciate that class at the expense of others, and to
encourage its members to abuse their disfranchised associates whenever they
are brought into contact with them. So long as the big business of politics
is reserved for them, so long are they compelled to believe that the
monopoly is the reward of their superior worth. Their ego is exalted, and
that of their subjects is depressed. Private insolence is the inevitable
consequence of public privilege. Government by landlords means interference
with the political and religious opinions of tenants. Government by
Protestants means the exclusion of Catholics from offices of dignity and
profit. Government by masters means bad conditions of labour and fettered
powers of combination among workmen. Government by men means the exclusion
of women from professions and the maintenance of a double standard of
morality. It is not suggested here that disfranchisement does more than
affect tendencies. The political thinker who values his reputation will
always write in terms of tendencies rather than in terms of states. But
disfranchisement at least tends to produce, if it does not actually
produce, the consequences of social depreciation. In some countries, or in
{27} some states of society, these may be less dangerous than the
consequences of general enfranchisement. But they always exist.

An admirable statement of this part of the case for enfranchisement has
been recently made by an opponent of Woman Suffrage. "If you enfranchise
women," he said, "you cannot deprive them of the powers and privileges
which accompany it. If they are to share men's political duties they must
enjoy his rights, they must be eligible for the Bar, the Bench, for the
Civil Service, and for election to Parliament. Once in Parliament you
cannot brand them as a class or sex apart, to be deprived of any of the
high offices open to men. If they are not to attain these offices, it
cannot be by the avowal of sex, but by an admission of incapacity."[12]
This is absolute Toryism. Disfranchisement is a convenient means of
depreciating women in private life, and the main bulwark of the male ego.
It disables every woman in advance, and deprives her of private rights
without the trouble of testing her capacity. Her political disability marks
her with a brand wherever she goes, and the person who disposes of her
politics, disposes also, in proportion to his own selfishness, of her
occupation, of her marital rights, and of her honour. Mr. Harcourt is
content to exclude her from Parliament and the legal profession. Baser men
display the same male egoism in depriving her of education, in enfeebling
her body and mind by excessive child-bearing, and in taking advantage of
her poverty to use her as a prostitute for the gratification of their
vilest passions. This confession by an opponent of Woman Suffrage
illustrates the temper of Toryism in all controversies about the franchise.
Acknowledge the right to control government, and you acknowledge the right
to control life. So long as it lies in the power of one class to impose
taxes, to regulate the hours of labour, to admit and to exclude from
occupations, and generally to control the political organization of
society, so long will its members be tempted to dispose of the members of
the subject class in every part of life. When the equality of both classes
in the State is admitted, the admission of their equal worth in all their
private {28} relations inevitably follows. There is no essential difference
between public and private rights.

But the reaction of political status upon the individual has another aspect
no less important than this. Participation in the organized life of the
community is a necessary part of that education which modern opinion
requires for every human being. There are now living very few of those
frantic Tories who believe that it is harmful to develop the minds of the
poor, and every civilized State regards public education as one of its
ordinary duties. But once the right of individuals to a good education is
admitted, the extent of the right can hardly be limited to the provision of
elementary or secondary schools. There is no education to be compared with
the experience of organized life. Trade Unionism and Co-operation,
political associations outside Parliament, the management of charities, all
these are valuable not only for their immediate results, but for the way in
which they train the people concerned. Incomparably the best school of the
kind is politics. Nothing so broadens the mind and so disciplines the
temper as being engaged, even in a humble capacity, in the management of
political affairs. But the connection between the individual and the State
must be direct, if it is to produce its full benefit. The vague and
irresponsible interest of the disfranchised is a poor substitute for the
definite obligation to apply one's own strength to the machine itself,
which is the privilege of the enfranchised. The extension of the suffrage
to all individuals in the State is thus an essential part of the Liberal
faith, not only because it prevents direct and indirect abuse, but because
it is a means of education without which few individuals can ever develop
their natural powers to the full. "We, who were reformers from the
beginning, always said that the enfranchisement of the people was an end in
itself. We said, and we were much derided for saying so, that citizenship
only gives that self-respect which is the true basis of respect of others,
and without which there is no lasting social order or real morality."[13]
"If the individual is {29} to have a higher feeling of public duty, he must
take part in the work of the State.... That active interest in the service
of the State, which makes patriotism in the better sense, can hardly arise
while the individual's relation to the State is that of a passive recipient
of protection in the exercise of his rights of person and property."[14] It
is this conception of the exercise of the franchise which leads to the
apparent paradox that the people are never fit for the suffrage until they
possess it. In practice these logical difficulties have little weight. It
is true that the only real test of political capacity is politics. But it
is no hard task to detect in a person's management of other affairs how he
is likely to conduct himself as a voter. Plain good sense is the only
essential quality. It is got by living, not by learning, and where
conditions of life are reasonably good, political capacity will not be
wanting. The franchise completes, it does not make, education. It may thus
be fairly extended to all ordinary persons as part of the Liberal method of
equipping the individual for the fullest life of which he is capable.

Influenced by these considerations, the Liberal asserts that the franchise
is a right which exists in the individual subject. To the Tory, accustomed
to the idea of disposition, the subject is under and not above the State.
Where the Liberal emphasizes the responsibility of the State to the
subject, and requires that every act of its ministers shall be done in the
interest of the subject, the Tory emphasizes the duty of the subject to
submit to the State, and by a process of argument which is as illogical as
it is politically vicious, leaves it to the State to decide even to what
persons it shall be responsible. Thus Sir Robert Inglis, opposing in 1853 a
Bill for permitting Jews to sit in Parliament, contended "that power was a
trust which the State might delegate to those whom it thought fit to
exercise it--the exercise of the suffrage, for example--but it was the
inherent right of no man. If it were, then indeed had they destroyed the
value of the principle by all the restrictions imposed with respect to
property, {30} to age, and to sex."[15] The allusion to sex was prophetic.
More than half a century later, Professor Dicey uses precisely the same
argument against the enfranchisement of women. "The rights of an individual
with regard to matters which primarily concern the State are public or
political rights, or, in other words, duties or functions to be exercised
by the possessor not in accordance with his own wish or interest, but
primarily at least with a view to the interest of the State, and therefore
may be limited or extended in any way which conduces to the welfare of the

The confusion of thought in both these passages is the same. What is the
State? Who are the community? How is the State to know what conduces to the
welfare of the community? Both these Tory thinkers reason as if the State
were some concrete thing, some piece of machinery, existing out of and
independent of the society of human beings, managing their affairs,
allotting them their rights, and associating with itself in their
government such of them as it was pleased to select. Their argument is
based upon this fundamental absurdity. The State has in fact no existence
apart from human beings; it is not external to society, but a growth out of
it, and its own form and constitution are determined in all cases by the
creatures whom the Tory theorists treat as subjected to its absolute
discretion. The Liberal declares that human beings exist before the State,
and control it, that their opinion determines in what way the State, like
the Church, the industrial system, and the home, shall be constructed, that
opinion varies in different countries and in different ages, and will at
one time and in one place acquiesce in despotism and at another time and in
another place require adult suffrage, but that always, first and last, the
subjects are masters of the State.

What is actually at the back of the Tory mind, when it reasons in this
fashion, is that the State, as conceived by them, is not external to all
society, but only to a part of it. In other words, {31} when it says "the
State," it means "the governing class for the time being." It is always
thinking of a privileged class disposing of the fortunes of another class.
To Sir Robert Inglis "the State" meant "men of twenty-one years of age, who
are landowners and Christians." To Windham, fifty years before, it meant
"men of twenty-one years of age, who are landowners and Churchmen." To
Professor Dicey, fifty years later, it meant "men of twenty-one years of
age." The class varies, and its boundaries extend. But it is always of a
class of some dimensions that the Tory thinks when he speaks of "the
State." In effect he argues that the general body of men and women have no
right to control their own government, except when the class into whose
hands government has fallen sees fit to give it them. By the same process
of reasoning the most bloody despot who ever usurped a throne could exclude
aristocracy itself, and keep the control of government in the hands of the
meanest of his parasites. This conflict between the individual right of the
subject and the absolute discretion of the governing class has been
repeated at every proposal to extend the franchise in Great Britain. The
work of Liberalism has been, and is still, to extend the limits of the
governing class, and to make State and subjects, government and governed,

The same characteristic difference between the desire to adapt an
institution to the encouragement of individual growth and the desire to
compel individual growth to the efficient working of an institution peeps
out, even where the practical proposals of the two parties appear to be
identical. A Liberal supports State education because it puts the poor man
into fuller possession of himself. A Tory supports it because an ignorant
poor man is likely to be turbulent and to make attacks upon the institution
of property. A Liberal supports a Mental Deficiency Bill because it
protects feeble-minded persons against their neighbours and against
themselves. A Tory supports it because it discourages the breeding of types
which he regards as useless to the State. While the general attitude of
Toryism to the economic reforms of modern Liberalism has been hostile, a
small {32} section of the Tory party has shown itself ready enough to
support, and even to originate schemes which interfere with economic
freedom and the rights of property. But the motives of the Liberal and the
Tory social reformers are not the same. The one aims at private happiness,
the other at public utility. "We would endeavour," said Sir Henry
Campbell-Bannerman, "to secure to every man the best conditions of living,
and so far as can be done by laws and customs, to secure him also an equal
chance with others of a useful and happy life."[17] "The essence of our
policy," says Lord Willoughby de Broke, "is to give each individual the
elements that will afford him an opportunity of at least living a free and
a decorous existence, and the opportunity to raise himself or herself to
the highest point of moral and material efficiency."[18] The emphasis on
happiness in the one passage and on efficiency in the other shows precisely
the difference in the objects of the two men. The first is personal, the
second instrumental. The Liberal conception of the State makes the
development of the individual an end in itself. The Tory conception makes
it a means of public advantage, of obtaining workers for national
industries and soldiers for national armies, and it is accompanied by
proposals for conscription, protection, and the maintenance of popular
education at a low level, which are redolent of restriction and
subordination. A Tory journalist puts the matter more precisely: "If
Unionism is to recover the confidence of the masses it must recognize their
claim to a fuller and a happier life. Only in this way can it serve the
great causes which it has at heart. We stand for the Empire. An Imperial
people cannot be built up in squalor and poverty, when every thought is
absorbed by the provision of the daily bread. We cannot get a hearing for
Imperial causes until we have brought happiness into the homes of the
people."[19] The Tory makes its inhabitants happy for the sake of the
Empire. The Liberal has no use for the Empire unless it makes its
inhabitants happy.


Modern Toryism is identified with Imperialism, and, except for the relics
of old controversies between sects, most of the antagonism of Liberal and
Tory centres to-day about the Empire. The most definite opposition is to be
observed in original conceptions. To the Tory, the Empire seems to be
something in itself; he is impressed with its size, its wealth, its
population; the mere existence of such a huge fabric, efficiently
maintained, under the national flag, satisfies him. The Liberal is more
concerned with what the Empire represents, with its maintenance of
individual liberty, with its development of the subject peoples which it
contains, with its encouragement to exploitation, with its implied
antagonism to foreign peoples, with its increase of the cost of armaments,
and with its effect upon the temper of domestic government. He is not, as a
practical statesman, concerned to evacuate any part of this vast
inheritance. "The situation of man is the preceptor of his duty." But he
looks with suspicion upon any attempt to increase it, he encourages every
transfer of control to local authorities, he insists that where races of an
inferior civilization are incorporated their affairs shall be managed in
their interest and not in that of the conquering race, and he views with
constant apprehension the inclusion of such races because he knows that
their despotic government must threaten the existence of his own free
institutions. If the Empire is justified at all, it is justified by the
ideals which it expresses, and by nothing else.

The better Imperial idea was thus described a few years ago by Mr. Joseph
Chamberlain: "We, in our Colonial policy, as fast as we acquire new
territory and develop it, develop it as trustees of civilization for the
commerce of the world. We offer in all these markets over which our flag
floats the same opportunities, the same open field, to foreigners that we
offer to our own subjects, and upon the same terms. In that policy we stand
alone, because all other nations, as fast as they acquire new
territory--acting, as I believe, most mistakenly in their own interests,
and, above all, in the interests of the countries that they administer--all
other nations seek at once to secure the {34} monopoly for their own
products by preferential and other methods."[20] These are noble and
generous words. The conception of a rich and powerful race extending the
blessings of order, good government, and industrial enterprise into the
backward parts of the earth for the universal benefit of all mankind is a
magnificent conception. But if it ever was Imperialism it is not the
Imperialism of to-day. In less than ten years the speaker denied himself.
The trustees of civilization became national egoists, subordinating all
others to their own ascendancy. The free and open market was made a
national monopoly, and British subjects arrogated to themselves all the
exclusive privileges which had been "most mistakenly" reserved to
themselves by other nations. The deterioration of generosity has seldom
been so swift and so complete. In 1912 Mr. Chamberlain's successor in the
leadership of Protectionist Imperialism makes the exclusion of the
foreigner the very essence of Empire. "Co-operation in war was a vital
necessity; but there could never be real co-operation in war unless there
first had been co-operation in peace. It was for that reason that Unionists
had advocated, and intended to advocate, the policy of Imperial preference.
All the Dominions had urged the Mother Country to adopt in trade--and in
everything else--that principle which would enable one portion of the
Empire to treat all other portions of the Empire on better terms than were
given to the rest of the world." The whole basis of the Empire is thus made
to be hostility towards foreign peoples, and instead of war being a hateful
necessity, undertaken to preserve the ideals for which the Empire stands,
it becomes itself the first object of the Empire, to which all its other
possibilities must be sacrificed.

The Empire, as conceived by modern Imperialists, is in fact the negation of
Liberalism. Domestic liberty, local independence, economic freedom, the
development of inferior races, all must be sacrificed to the idea of an
isolated and mechanically efficient unity. "The Unionist policy is a policy
of union and strength. The Unionists say: As we are faced by great dangers,
{35} let us hold to the tried and proved national organization which was
devised to meet such dangers in the past. And they say also: Let us have
peace between the classes, for division in that way is even more dangerous
than the division of the United Kingdom into its separate tribes or
parishes.... We must keep united or we will be destroyed. But the Unionists
go farther, and they say: We must be united not only as a United Kingdom
but as a British Empire. Old England by herself may not have the strength
to face the enormous forces now being arrayed against her. In the same way
the Dominions by themselves have not the strength to maintain their freedom
against possible attacks. Let us therefore combine, and then we shall be
like the bundle of faggots, impossible to break. Now this policy of
Imperial union cannot be achieved by sentiment alone. Sentiment is an
excellent thing; but as part of the Empire is Dutch and part French, and as
even British colonists tend to forget the Mother Country and look upon
their own new country as the centre and the boundary of their patriotism,
we need the perpetual unifier of material interest. Where a man's treasure
is, there shall his heart be also." Therefore we must tax imported
foodstuffs in order to give a preference to the Colonies. If we do not,
"What are we to offer to Canada in the way of a material interest strong
enough to make her foreign policy identical with ours?"[21]

This is the subordination of everything to organization. Ireland is to be
governed against its will, the poorer classes are to be kept down by force
or by indulgence, the industrial and commercial freedom of the Colonies and
the Mother Country is to be fettered by artificial bonds of trade, in order
that {36} Germany may be kept in her place. The illustration of the bundle
of faggots will serve for the Liberal as well as for the Tory. What the
Liberal wants is not a bundle of dead wood, but a group of living and
growing trees about a parent stem, each planted freely in the soil and
drawing from it its own sustenance.

The Tory conception of the Empire is in fact very like the old Roman
Empire, and ominous comparisons are often drawn between the two.[22] The
Roman Empire was a similar gigantic organization, which subordinated all
other ideas to that of strength and unity against external peoples. What
will preserve the British Empire from the fate of the Roman is what the
Romans omitted, the encouragement of local independence, the sacrifice of
mere mechanical efficiency to that infinite diversity of individual
civilizations which keeps nations alive. The recent Canadian attempt to
make a treaty of reciprocity with the United States produced some excellent
examples of the viciousness of Imperialism. The Liberal Ministry allowed
the British Ambassador in the States to place his services at the disposal
of the Canadian Government. They assumed that it was not their business to
dictate to the Canadians what commercial arrangements they should or should
not make with foreign peoples, and they treated a Canadian Government which
had been in office for seventeen years as properly representative of the
Canadian people. The Tory Imperialists attacked them for assisting the
Canadian Ministry in its negotiations. Their demand, in effect, was that
the British Government should have at least tacitly disapproved of this
assertion of Canadian independence. For the moment the Canadian people have
refused to enter into the treaty. Ten years hence they may have changed
their minds, and we shall then have a direct conflict between Imperialism
and Canadian Nationalism. The Liberals would allow the Canadians to manage
their own affairs as they think best. The Tories, even though they would
refrain from force, would at least try to bribe {37} them into an
artificial union, which they would not enter of their own free will.

The deterioration of Imperialism really dates from the South African War.
This was the first expression of Imperial unity. But what was that unity
worth, which was employed for the shameful purpose of destroying the local
independence which it existed only to maintain? The whole justification of
the Empire was that it enabled communities of different characters to grow
freely within it, and the war destroyed what war should never have been
undertaken except to preserve. The difference of opinion about that grave
event marked the characteristic difference between Liberal and Tory. The
life of the individual parts is everything to the Liberal, and their
organization is only tolerable in so far as it protects and encourages that
life. It is not to him, as it is to the Tory, a thing in itself, a
permanent segregation of his race from the rest of humanity, a monopoly and
a preserve, to be maintained as a weight in the balance of international
power. Nor has he any doubt that the loosely knit federation, which he
prefers, will prove in the end stronger against Foreign enemies than the
drilled and disciplined union which the Tories want. The Roman Empire
collapsed because of this unnatural perfection of strength. The native
vigour and independence of its parts were sacrificed to centralization. By
enslaving the minds of her dependents to the Imperial idea, Rome threw
herself open to less organized but more individualistic enemies. By leaving
the inhabitants of her Dominions to develop themselves according to their
own ideas, and not by managing them as potential weapons against the
foreigner, Great Britain has brought herself to her present strength. A
conscript army may be maintained for an indefinite period by constantly
renewing the recruits. Nations cannot be renewed, and a conscript Empire
must inevitably perish of its own rigidity.

Imperialists often speak of the Empire as if it consisted entirely of
self-governing dominions of white men. In fact, by far the greater part of
it is governed despotically, and consists of countries where white men
cannot make permanent settlements. This {38} part of the Empire the Liberal
regards from two points of view. The less civilized or less powerful races
which inhabit them are as individual to him as are the Canadians or the
Germans, and are no more to be used by him for his own interest. "A
superior race is bound to observe the highest current morality of the time
in all its dealings with the subject race."[23] Order, justice, capital,
the development of natural resources, and education, with an honest spirit
in the Government, may help rather than retard the growth of the local
life. But with the benefits of civilization is too often introduced the
temper of exploitation. Confiscation, massacre, slavery, open or disguised,
and the abuse of native women, have been common enough in the building of
the Empire, and the conduct of men like Cole of Nairobi and Lewis of
Rhodesia shows that the same habit of mind is far from rare at this
day.[24] The modern history of South Africa contains more than one
disreputable passage of this kind, and if the development of territories
like Uganda and Batsutoland has been more disinterested, it is only because
they offered less easy prizes to the rapacity of trading companies and
financiers. The primary motive of all our appropriations of territory has
of course been our desire to increase our own wealth, and in most quarters
we have been more anxious to force the native population into labour for
our profit than to improve their condition or character. The plea that our
Empire is justified because it elevates inferior races is a piece of cant
which has been grafted on to a purely materialistic system. How little
separates us even now from the old slavery may be seen in the following
passage from a Tory newspaper: "In all essential qualities of racial
progress, in self-control, perseverance, reasoning power, and so forth, the
negro races are far behind the white.... The negro is given new racial
ambitions by the acquisition of civil and in some cases of political
rights.... The white South {39} African ... may be forced to reconsider his
whole native policy.... Education is a frightful source of mischief....
Industrial education, the painful teaching of toil in civilization, must
precede the higher development."[25] In plain English, we may have to
disfranchise the coloured voters of Cape Colony, shut up their schools and
churches, and reduce them to slavery. In just such language did the West
Indian planters reason in the days of Wilberforce, from the fact of
inferiority, through the deprivation of the means of improvement, to the
ultimate destruction of character in "industrial education." It is in
problems of this sort that the Liberal sees the evil side of Empire. It is
more important to him that the black races of Cape Colony should not be
deprived of the franchise than that South Africa should be able to assist
Great Britain in time of war. If the country can only be included in the
Empire at the cost of this deliberate degradation of the native peoples, it
is better in his eyes that it should become independent. When the Empire
ceases to encourage the growth of all peoples within it, the justification
of it has ceased to exist.[26]

The badness of this government of less efficient races lies not only in its
possible, and almost inevitable, exploitation of those races themselves,
but in its reaction upon the people of Great Britain. There are very few
men who can occupy themselves even with the honest and disinterested
management of the affairs of a subject people without suffering some
deterioration of their love of liberty. However benevolent despotism may
be, it is always despotism. The essence of such government as that of India
is to dispose of the fortunes of a people according to our own opinion of
what is best for them, and not according to theirs. When it is bad, it is
tyranny. When it is good, as it nearly always is, it is indulgence. It is
never responsibility. It never {40} seriously contemplates the time when
the subject shall control his own affairs, or shall even be associated on
equal terms with the foreign conqueror. Those who grow accustomed to this
absolute power can never work comfortably with free institutions, and the
whole of the governing race tends to become infected with the disposing
habit. The business of government becomes more than the spirit of it, the
mechanical successes of administration are applauded, while the
stultification of the general mind is overlooked. Efficiency is exaggerated
at the expense of freedom, criticism of the Ministry is treated as
insolence, and the right of every intelligent man to interest himself in
the affairs of his own country is subordinated to the convenience of
officials.[27] The official always looks up and not down for approval and
censure, and he cannot depress the eye of his mind when he returns home
from one of our foreign dependencies. The Imperialist revival of the last
thirty years has thus coincided, not only with the neglect of domestic
affairs, but with the active suppression of domestic freedom. The foremost
champions of the House of Lords in 1909 were a retired Viceroy of India and
a man who, after a successful career in Egypt, had been the mouthpiece of
British insolence in South Africa. The best name in the list of the
opponents of Woman Suffrage is that of the greatest despot that Egypt has
ever known. "Is it not just possible," asked Cobden in 1860, "that we may
become corrupted at home by the reaction of arbitrary political maxims in
the East upon our domestic politics, just as Greece and Rome were
demoralized by their contact with Asia?"[28] No Liberal who has watched the
joint progress of {41} Imperial expansion and domestic reaction, which has
taken place since Cobden's death, can answer that searching question in the

The foregoing examination will be sufficient to indicate the scope and the
method of the following chapters. They attempt to describe the political
growth of the country, from a time when power was confined to a small
disposing class, to the present day, when we have reached a well-defined
stage on our advance towards complete equality of values. They also deal
with the varying fortunes of Liberal ideas in foreign policy. The process
seems to the writer to resemble the change from the old Ptolemaic to the
new Copernican system of Astronomy. The old astronomers believed that the
Earth was the centre of the Universe, and that the planets revolved about
it. The new astronomers discovered that the Earth was not the centre, and
that the other planets, though they had certain relations with and
attractions for the earth, actually were, in the main, independent of it,
and revolved, like it, about a common centre in orbits of their own.
Similarly Toryism imagined that the unprivileged sex, classes, and creeds
existed for no other purpose than fulfilling those duties which related to
itself, and for enjoying those rights which proceeded from itself. It has
been compelled to recognize that other individuals, however united with the
dominant class for certain limited purposes, have their independent
interests, orbits, and personalities. The writer cannot pretend to be
indifferent, as between Liberalism and Toryism. But the last chapter will
be sufficient proof that he is not over-full of the spirit of mere party.

       *       *       *       *       *




Modern English politics may be fairly said to begin about the accession of
George III. The conflict of Liberalism and Toryism can no doubt be traced
farther back. But though the same principles may have been at stake during
the Civil War, or even in the time of the Lollards, the general movement
was slow, and the connection with modern politics less definite. About the
middle of the eighteenth century society began to group itself more
permanently, and a train of events was started which can be traced
continuously to our own time. Movement also became more rapid, and the
appearance of the social fabric has been more changed in the last hundred
and fifty years than it was in the preceding fifteen hundred. It is
possible, therefore, to get a substantially accurate explanation of modern
politics by a survey of the recent period alone. So many causes have been
crowded into those few years that the weight of the others is almost
negligible. The history of Liberalism is, for practical purposes, the
history of Liberalism since 1760. This chapter will therefore examine the
political condition of England about that date.

The political structure changed little between 1760 and 1820. At the end of
that period, as at its beginning, power was in the hands of a class which
monopolized every privilege of race, sex, creed, and rank, and disposed, at
its discretion, of the fortunes of all inferior persons. Ireland and the
Colonies were subordinated to Great Britain, women to men, Catholics and
Dissenters to Churchmen, manufacturers, traders, and workmen to landowners.
{43} The classification of humanity, for political purposes, was complete.
The machinery of the State was controlled by a governing class, bound to
listen to the complaints of its subjects, but not submitted to their
authority. The temper of this class as a whole, though it was nominally
divided into Tories and Whigs, was essentially Tory. The two sections
disputed between themselves, and some of the Whigs expressed Liberal
opinions on particular subjects. But the general mental habit of both
parties was that of Toryism. It was not until after the Reform Act of 1832
that even the germ of a Liberal party made its appearance in English
politics, and it was not until after the Reform Act of 1867 that such a
party held office. The history of Liberalism in the early period of its
growth is the history of its slow and painful progress through people who
did not consciously accept it.

The general Tory view of political society was most forcibly expressed
after the French Revolution. The proclamation of the equality of
individuals which that implied was met by very clear and explicit denials.
It is obvious that Toryism was thus strung to its highest pitch, and that
it may have been less aggressive in temper before the violence of the
Revolution inflamed it. But though it was exaggerated by the Revolution, it
was not essentially altered, and the language of the Tories of 1820 may
fairly be taken to illustrate the mental habit of Tories of 1760. The root
principle of government was that it should be controlled by the wealthy
owners of land. There was some free voting in towns. But most borough seats
could be bought, and many were in the absolute disposition of the nearest
landowner. The owners of freeholds worth forty shillings a year voted in
county elections, and were comparatively independent. But no voter, however
sturdy and self-reliant, had a real voice in politics. The landed gentry
took politics for their business, and if the voter could draw attention to
what he conceived to be a grievance, the landowner decided whether any
remedy should be applied. "The country gentlemen," said Lord North, "are
the best and most respectable objects of the confidence of the people."[29]
Wilberforce described {44} the same class as "the very nerves and ligatures
of the body politic."[30] The manufacturing class and traders were looked
upon with a curious and comical jealousy. The great growth of these classes
at the end of the century meant a new form of wealth and a new form of
political power, and Sir William Jones probably spoke the feelings of most
of his class when he opposed a motion for the Reform of Parliament in 1793.
He said "it had ever been his opinion, since he began his political career,
that the country had too much of a commercial turn, and that its commerce
would soon become more than a match for its virtues. The petitioners
proposed a measure that evidently tended to throw weight into a scale which
preponderated too much already. He asserted that boroughs, bought and
controlled by men of property, formed the only balance to the commercial
influence, which was increasing by too rapid strides, and which ought to be
checked."[31] So Robert Jenkinson, afterwards Earl of Liverpool, "thought
the landed interest, which was the stamina of the country, ought to have
the preponderant weight, the manufacturing and commercial interest the next
place, and then those whom he styled 'the professional people.'" He
therefore opposed attempts to reform Parliament, because "the counties and
many of the populous boroughs were required for the return of country
gentlemen. The commercial towns secured the election of certain persons in
that line, and the close boroughs for the election of the professional
people."[32] He thus divided society into nicely graded classes, and
constructed the whole political system with a view to securing that each
class should express just the value which he attached to it. Corrupt town
constituencies were to be preserved in the constitution in order that the
landed gentry might preserve their monopoly of politics against the men of
commerce. But a more striking, because a more innocent, revelation of the
arrogance of the dominant class is contained in Lord John Russell's record
of his discovery of intelligence among employers of labour. Russell was a
Whig, and lived long enough to become a Liberal. In 1810, {45} when he was
a young man, he made a pilgrimage through England, and solemnly made this
entry in his diary. "The first of the few remarks still to be made is the
singular quantity of talent we found amongst the manufacturers. There was
not one master manufacturer of Manchester or Leeds ... that might not be
set apart as a man of sense, and hardly any that, besides being
theoretically and practically masters of their own business, were not men
of general reading and information."[33] What are we to think of social
estimates, when a young nobleman makes a note of signs of intelligence
among captains of industry in the conscientious spirit in which his modern
successors record traces of civilization among Papuans or the inhabitants
of the Congo? The public privileges of the two classes corresponded with
these private estimates of their relative importance. Political offices as
a matter of course were reserved for the landed proprietors. A trader was
sometimes made a knight or a baronet, but never a peer.[34] The best
appointments in the Army and Navy and what is now called the Civil Service
were distributed in the same way. A Member of Parliament must have a
definite income derived from land.[35] A similar qualification was required
in Justices of the Peace. No one could kill game who was not a landowner,
or a person holding a licence as gamekeeper from a landowner. If a man died
in debt, his plate, furniture, and stock in trade might be seized by his
creditors, but his land could not. In every way land was invested with
peculiar rights. There were in fact only three ways in which a man might
rise to political importance without being a landowner. A few naval
officers of high rank had risen from mean beginnings. Servants of the East
India Company sometimes acquired vast fortunes in India, and forced their
way into domestic politics by sheer weight of wealth. A lawyer of {46} the
humblest birth might fight his way up to the Woolsack, and become a peer of
the realm. But as a rule the ordinary avenues were open only to the
landowning class.

The wage-earning common people were more contemptible than the merchants
and manufacturers. On no account were they to be admitted into the
political ring. "Send the people to the loom and the anvil," said Lord
Westmoreland, and there let them earn bread, instead of wasting time at
seditious meetings.[36] "I do not know," said Bishop Horsley, "what the
mass of the people in any country have to do with the laws but to obey
them."[37] "It requires no proof," said the Lord Justice Clerk from the
bench, "to show that the British Constitution is the best that ever was
since the creation of the world, and it is not possible to make it
better.... A government in every country should be just like a corporation;
and in this country it is made up of the landed interest, which alone has a
right to be represented; as for the rabble who have nothing but personal
property, what hold has the nation upon them?"[38] So Pitt "did not
consider those to be the best friends of the people who were always goading
them to bring forward petitions, and encouraging the agitation and
discussion of political affairs."[39] Castlereagh, the last great leader of
the Tory reaction, "always maintained that in a representative government
the preponderance of property and high station was more conducive to order
and general prosperity than that of mob orators or needy adventurers.... He
was no friend to a system which was to be directed by men who had no other
influence than what they could acquire by pandering to the low interests
and lower passions of a misguided rabble."[40] The most consistent of all
the Tories was Windham, a country gentleman of considerable learning and
practical good sense, and the intimate friend of Pitt. He began his
political {47} career as a Whig, but turned Tory after the outbreak of the
Revolution, and died without a shred of Whiggery left to him, except a
qualified dislike of the Slave Trade. He seldom lost an opportunity of
depreciating the common people, and of excluding them from politics. "He
could not see the harm there was of preventing all endeavours to explain to
a poor, illiterate fellow, whose extent of powers was but barely adequate
to the task of procuring food for his own subsistence, points which had
divided the opinions of the ablest writers."[41] Referring to the case of
Bloomfield, a labourer, who wrote a poem called "The Farmer's Boy," he said
that "he had doubts how far it was proper to encourage ideas of literary
profit or renown in those who had been bred to a useful trade."[42]
Speaking against a Bill for the suppression of bull-baiting, he said that
the petition from Stamford against the Bill came from "a body of sober,
loyal men, who attended to their several vocations, and never meddled with
politics."[43] When Whitbread introduced a Bill to provide a public school
in every parish, Windham opposed it. "The increase of this sort of
introduction to knowledge would only tend to make the people study
politics, and lay them open to the arts of designing men."[44] The
publication of the proceedings in Parliament was to be suppressed for
similar reasons. "The people at large were entitled to justice--they were
entitled to every favour that could be shown to them consistently with
their own safety, on which depended their own happiness--they were entitled
to every advantage they could possibly be capable of enjoying, as much as
the proudest person in the state; but they had not education to enable them
to judge of political affairs.... He confessed he never saw any man of a
low condition with a newspaper in his hand, and who read any of it, without
comparing him to a man who was swallowing poison under the hope of {48}
improving his health."[45] Though Windham did not succeed in persuading the
House to exclude the reporters, the basis of his case was generally
accepted by the Tory party. Plunket described the working classes in the
same style as Windham. "He was willing to allow to them the enjoyment of
every constitutional privilege which they were entitled to possess; he
never could consider that nice discussions on the very frame of the
constitution, on the most essential changes in the institutions and
fundamental laws of the country, were calculated for minds of such
intelligence and cultivation."

Politics, in a word, were bad for the lower classes. "These men, the nature
of whose employment and whose education disallowed them to be statesmen,
might, however, learn enough to become turbulent and discontented
subjects."[46] Government was not to be according to the will of the
people, who were incapable of directing that will rightly. "If, to our
misfortune," said Canning, "we had found a popular assembly existing under
the direct control of the people, forced to obey its will, and liable to be
dismissed by its authority,... it would have been the duty of wise
legislators to diminish its overbearing freedom, and to substitute in its
place a deliberative freedom."[47] Even public meetings were only to take
place under the sanction of the superior class. "Far was it from him," said
Castlereagh, in introducing his Six Acts, "to call on the House to do
anything that would operate against the ancient and sacred right of the
people to petition, under the protection and with the sanction of the
magistrates, or the other constituted authorities of the land.... But
meetings not called under such authorities, convened by men without
character, rank, or fortune, were in all probability called for improper
objects, and therefore were a fit subject for the animadversion of the law,
and it was but reasonable that they should assemble under circumstances
that gave a sort of prima {49} facie security against outrage."[48] There
was a general presumption that a popular meeting was a seditious meeting,
and if any such meeting was held at all, its respectability must be
guaranteed by members of the upper classes. These opinions, aggravated as
they were by the excesses of the French Revolution, may be taken as fairly
representative of Toryism during the whole of the reign of George III.

The natural consequence of this general depreciation of the poorer people
was that they were injured in other ways than mere disfranchisement. The
whole scheme of society was so constructed as to prevent them from ever
rising above the station in which they were placed. No facilities were
provided for their education by the State, in spite of the obvious
inadequacy of private enterprise. A Scottish Act of 1696 had compelled
landowners to provide schools in every parish of Scotland. But in England
the neglect was gross and widespread. A Select Committee reported in 1818
that not more than 570,000 children were publicly educated. As the number
of children of school age was about 2,000,000, this meant that only one
child in four received any sort of education. As the teaching was often
hopelessly inefficient, the case was much worse even than the figures
themselves showed; and as affairs had considerably improved during the
twenty years before the Committee began its inquiry, it would probably be
fair to assume that in 1788, immediately before the outbreak of the
Revolution, only one poor child in ten received any substantial mental
training. Lancaster the Quaker began to found schools in 1801, and the
British and Foreign and National Societies commenced operations a few years
later. No systematic teaching of the poor had been previously attempted
except by private benevolence. But it must not be supposed that even
charity was always disinterested. Lurking behind many of these projects was
the belief in education as a precaution against disorder. Wilberforce spoke
of popular education in language which showed that he believed in it not
merely because it helped the poorer people to develop their natural
capacities. Referring to {50} the political disturbances of 1819, he asked,
"If a proper notion of the sacredness of property had been given to the
people, would they have passed such resolutions as those by which they had
disgraced themselves at Barnsley?"[49] The governing class thus used
education partly, at any rate, as a measure of police. Ignorant poverty
meant danger to wealth.

The poorer people, being kept in such a state of intellectual degradation,
were naturally criminal to a far greater degree than at the present day,
and the criminal law punished their offences with such savagery that juries
often acquitted guilty persons rather than expose them to the consequences
of an adverse verdict. In 1819 there were still on the Statute Book two
hundred felonies punishable with death. When it was proposed to substitute
transportation for life for the death penalty in the case of stealing goods
worth five shillings from a shop, Lord Ellenborough, the Lord Chief
Justice, protested in the House of Lords in the name of himself and all his
colleagues on the bench.[50] Conspicuous in ferocity were the Game Laws. In
1816 it was made a crime punishable with transportation for seven years for
any person to be found at night in possession of a net or a snare.[51]
Spring-guns and man-traps might be set by any landowner about his premises.
The public prisons were dens of vice and breeding-places of disease. Women
were flogged in public till 1817, and in private till 1819, and
transportation meant prostitution for nine women out of ten, if not on the
voyage, at any rate after they reached the colony.[52]

While the general state of the common people was so low, some of them had
religious consolations. Those of them who belonged to the Church of England
were elevated above Dissenters and Catholics, as country gentlemen were
elevated above themselves. The same habit of mind persisted in religion as
in politics. A particular Church, connected with the ruling class, and
staffed by {51} its members and dependents, was termed the Church of the
nation. Others existed only on sufferance. The conditions of their
existence were prescribed by the members of the dominant sect.
Free-thinkers were punished for blasphemous libel. Dissenting Christians,
whether Protestant or Catholic, were excluded in different degrees from
public life. Persecution of an active sort was at this date very rare, and
Dissenters, at any rate, enjoyed a qualified legal immunity. The Test and
Corporation Acts, passed in the reign of Charles II, were still in force,
and bound practically every public officer to take the sacrament according
to the rites of the Church of England. As a Liberal Churchman of the time
put it, "The Saviour of the world instituted the Eucharist in commemoration
of His death--an event so tremendous that afflicted Nature hid herself in
darkness; but the British Legislature has made it a qualification for
gauging beer-barrels and soap-boilers' tubs, for writing Custom-House
dockets and debentures, and for seizing smuggled tea."[53] But breaches of
these Acts were regularly committed, and were regularly covered by the
passing of an annual Act of Indemnity. The Catholics were in much worse
case. A whole code of penal laws had been contrived against them in the
reign of William III, and in Ireland, where three-fourths of the people
were Catholics, the code had been a fearful engine of oppression. Catholics
were by these laws excluded, not only from Parliament and public offices,
but from the Army and Navy and the legal profession. A Catholic could not
have a priest as his private chaplain. He could not send his children to be
educated abroad. He could not inherit land. He could not own horses above a
certain value. The exclusions were still absolute in 1760. The grosser
interferences with private liberty were, like the Acts against Dissenters,
not commonly enforced, though so late as 1793 a zealous Scottish Protestant
claimed his right to tender a Protestant oath to a Catholic landowner, and,
on his refusal, to take possession of his estate.[54] But such enjoyments
as were possessed by the members of these inferior Churches, including the
deliberate {52} mitigations of the existing law, were concessions from
their superiors. All was a matter of permission and connivance, and not of
right. It was the benevolence of masters which they had to acknowledge, and
not the association of equals. "It is idle to hope," said Castlereagh in
1801, "that Dissenters of any description can ever be so zealously attached
subjects as those who are of the established religion; but the question is,
what system, without hazarding the powers of the State itself, is best
calculated, if not warmly to attach, at least to disarm the hostility of
those classes in the community who cannot be got rid of, and must be
governed?" Pitt, eleven years earlier, displayed less insolence, but was as
firmly opposed to any idea of equality between sects. "The Dissenters had a
right to enjoy their liberty and property; to entertain their own
speculative opinions, and to educate their offspring in such religious
principles as they approve. But the indispensable necessity of a certain
permanent church establishment, for the good of the state, required that
toleration should not be extended to an equality.... He had no idea of such
levelling principles as those which warranted to all citizens an equality
of rights."[55] This is the essence of Toryism, to grant to others such
indulgences as we think fit, and to retain the consciousness of our own
superior worth and power, even while we refrain from abusing them.

Within the borders of Great Britain the Tory philosophy was expressed most
crudely and practised most universally in the relations of men and women.
Women were made only for those purposes which they could fulfil in
connection with men. They must be trained only in those qualities which men
required in them, irrespective of their own varying capacities and
dispositions. They must not engage in any occupation where they might
compete with men. Their political conditions were prescribed by men. Even
the moral rules which regulated their private conduct were settled by men,
who degraded the wretched prostitute while they permitted themselves the
indulgence which produced her downfall. When a woman married a man her real
{53} property passed to him for his life and her personal property
absolutely, and the subordination of her judgment to his, enjoined upon her
by the marriage service, was secured by this deprivation of her economic
independence. "The profession of ladies," said Mrs. Hannah More, "to which
the bent of their instruction should be turned, is that of daughters,
wives, mothers, and mistresses of families."[56] "Men," said Mrs. Barbauld,
"have various departments in life; women have but one.... It is, to be a
wife, a mother, a mistress of a family."[57] Association with a man being
the beginning and end of a woman's course of life, her whole mind was to be
trained, not according to her capacities, but according to what a man would
want of her. Almost every contemporary treatise on the education of women
emphasizes the necessity of suppressing the woman's intellect in the
presence of the man's. "If you have any learning," said Dr. Gregory in a
very popular work, "keep it a profound secret, especially from the men, who
generally look with a jealous and malignant eye on a woman of great parts
and a cultivated understanding."[58] "Young ladies," said Mrs. Barbauld,
"ought only to have such a general tincture of knowledge as to make them
agreeable companions to a man of sense,"[59] and she persuaded Mrs.
Elizabeth Montagu to abandon her scheme of endowing a women's college.
Toryism has never elsewhere been so remorseless in warping nature to its
own prejudices, and no slave was ever more carefully trained to
intellectual feebleness and triviality, or more carefully educated in
submission and docility towards his master, than was the ordinary young
English lady of the end of the eighteenth century.[60]

If this was the general atmosphere of feminine education, it is not
difficult to understand the ferocious contempt which was poured upon Mary
Wollstonecraft, who suggested that women should even take part in affairs
of State. Even Fox, who came nearer to {54} pure Liberalism than almost any
of his contemporaries, spoke with derision of Woman Suffrage.[61] After the
great war with France, demonstrations of the working classes in favour of
Reform were frequently attended by women. This drew from Castlereagh a
coarse and brutal condemnation. Speaking in favour of his Six Acts, which
were intended for the suppression of these popular demonstrations, he said:
"There was one point on which he should propose no law; it was the part
which women had borne in the late transactions, for he trusted that it
would be sufficient to restrain them from similar conduct in future, to let
them know that when the French republicans were carrying on their bloody
orgies, they could find no female to join them except by ransacking the
bagnios and public brothels. He was happy that no female had attended any
public meeting in the metropolis. Such a drama would, he trusted, be put an
end to by the innate decorum and the innate sense of modesty which the
women in this country possessed, and which would purge the country of this
disgrace."[62] Castlereagh was an honest and chivalrous man according to
the standards of his time. But which showed the greater appreciation of the
real worth of woman, and the greater respect for her real interest, the
workman who permitted her to take an active part in political affairs, or
the nobleman who hinted that if she so much as showed herself at a public
meeting, she was no better than a whore?

Eighteenth-century Toryism was less definitely extended beyond the
boundaries of Great Britain than is its modern equivalent. The conception
of a nation as a unit in human society had little weight in politics until
after the French Revolution. Before that great event the mass of a people
was regarded more as an appendage to the titular head of the State than as
an aggregate of human beings with claims to control their lives without
foreign interference. It was only when nations came to be regarded as
collections of individual men and women, whose individual security and
happiness were the first objects of their government, and no longer as mere
lumps of weight in the {55} balance of power, that the independence of a
nation became an important thing in itself. The revolt of the American
Colonies, which fired the train of modern Liberalism, was an assertion not
only of individual rights as against government, but of the rights of one
homogeneous and self-contained community against another. But Toryism had a
more ancient and a more thorough experience in Ireland. A clearer example
of the egoistic use of one nation by another could hardly be found in
history. From the day when the first English raiders descended upon the
Irish coast down to the day when George III ascended the throne the
paramount object of the English Government in Ireland had been the
maintenance of English and not of Irish interests. It was no longer a case
of subjugation and forcible repression. But it was still a case of
conscious and deliberate employment of the territory and resources of a
conquered people for the benefit of the conquerors. The Irish were left the
semblance of freedom, but they were so hedged round with limitations and
qualifications that they would have resented slavery no more bitterly. The
strength of their limbs served only to aggravate the fretting of their
chains. They had a Parliament which could legislate only as the English
Parliament allowed. They could engage in industry, but only in such
industries as the English Government, ever jealous for the English
manufacturer, permitted. They could make goods for export, but the English
Government kept the most lucrative branches of foreign and colonial trade
for its own people, and practically confined the Irish to supplying such
goods as it required for its own domestic consumption. Englishmen owned
land in Ireland, and spent the rents in England. English clergy owned cures
in Ireland, and did their duties by deputy. The whole system was absentee,
and the fate of Ireland was always decided abroad.

But the worst of the grievances of the Irish were the penal laws against
Catholics, by which racial and religious Toryism combined to deprive of
property and exclude from public life, not a sect, but almost an entire
people. Of all the instruments of foreign tyranny, religious disabilities
are the most hateful, and {56} if economic abuses did more to impoverish
the Irish, the penal laws did most to poison their temper. The Irishman's
enemy pursued him into his most private heart, and as the wound was
deepest, so the resentment was most fierce. The laws were not enforced so
mercilessly as they had been fifty years before. But they remained on the
Statute Book, and kept alive the memories of the more active persecutions
of the past. The whole nation was thus aggrieved. The Protestants suffered
no less than the Catholics from the legislative and commercial grievances,
and if the religious disabilities tended to sunder the dominant caste from
the rest of the people, both sects tended to forget their mutual hostility
in their hatred of the common enemy. Towards the end of the century a few
English statesmen foresaw the inevitable explosion, and urged that the
recognition of Irish nationality was the only way to establish good Irish
government. Not even an Irish Parliament could work if it was closed to the
vast majority of the people. "The Catholics," said Fox, "are no longer a
party. The parties now to be dreaded in Ireland are, on the one hand, a few
people holding places of great emolument, and supporting corruption and
abuses; and, on the other, the Irish nation.... I no longer apprehend any
danger to Ireland from disputes between the Catholics and the Protestants;
what I apprehend is the alienation of the whole Irish people from the
English Government."[63] "God never intended one country to govern
another," said Shelburne, "but that each country should govern itself."[64]
"In a mighty empire," said Dr. Laurence, "which enjoyed the blessing of a
free constitution pervading the whole, where two independent Parliaments
existed, that which was the more illustrious and exalted in character, in
authority, and in jurisdiction, he should have expected, would have felt it
to be its peculiar duty to cultivate, protect, and foster in the other,
whatever could be there discovered of the true parliamentary spirit. And
what was that spirit? A zealous attachment of each and all to their proper
constitution, a conscious sense of their own {57} dignity, a reverence for
themselves, a vehement and a jealous love of independence."[65]

These Whigs, speaking after the French Revolution had shaken old political
systems to their foundations, expressed the Liberal theory of the Empire,
that local control of local affairs is not only the best preventive of
English egoism, but also the best cure for local feuds. But in 1760, thirty
years before the Revolution, few Englishmen of either party could be
persuaded, in dealing with Ireland, to consult anybody's interest but their
own. In 1778 Bills were introduced to abolish most of the restrictions upon
Irish trade with England and the Colonies. So vehement was the opposition
aroused by these proposals that we are assured by a contemporary authority
that "a foreign invasion could scarcely have created a greater alarm."
Petitions poured in from every quarter except the City of London. Even the
errors of the English manufacturers displayed their bitter and unreasoning
jealousy. An old Statute had permitted the importation of Irish sailcloth.
This Statute was overlooked, and one of the new Bills proposed, in effect,
to enact what was already law. But this was opposed as fiercely as the
rest, and the most disastrous consequences were predicted from a practice
which had been in operation for half a century. The efforts of Burke and
the other champions of Ireland were powerless in this whirl of selfishness.
Most of the proposed reforms were abandoned, and his disinterested conduct
cost Burke his seat for Bristol.[66] No other events of the time so clearly
showed how the great majority of Englishmen regarded Ireland.

Such was the general scheme of Toryism, an elaborate system of
distinctions. A small class of male, rich, Church of England landowners
controlled and regulated the whole of political society. This class
monopolized public honours and dignities of every kind, and in each of
their separate spheres of aristocracy smaller personages lorded it over
those without the pale. Some were invested with all the privileges at once,
others might content themselves with one or two. Everywhere some one was
{58} exalted and some one depressed, irrespective of their natural
capacities and their intrinsic worth. It is not suggested here that active
tyranny was at all common. The Catholics were not persecuted as they had
been in the reign of William III. Dissenters were generally indulged. The
education of women, bad as it was, was substantially better than in the
time of the later Stuarts. The working classes enjoyed a much higher degree
of comfort and security than was to be theirs for a century to come. But
the atmosphere of Toryism remained. The test of a political system is not
how it operates in a state of equilibrium, but how it shows itself in the
face of changes. Condescension and indulgence are no less the marks of
tyranny than persecution and confiscation, and its essential nature is
revealed when the inferior asks to be permitted to think and act for
himself. When economic and psychological changes began to break down the
old acquiescence in arbitrary disposition, Toryism became active, positive,
and subjugating.

Formally contrasted with the political party which was called Tory, was the
political party which was called Whig. In many respects the contrast was no
more than formal. The fundamental assumptions of the two parties about the
comparative worth of classes were the same, though the Whigs relied more
than the Tories upon commercial places like the City of London. In theory
there was substantial difference between the two conceptions of the State.
The Tories preferred strong government, and inclined towards the Crown, as
its titular head. The theory of Hobbes thus expressed the Tory mind: "The
Covenant of the State is made in such a manner as if every man should say
to every man, 'I authorize and give up my right of governing myself to this
man, or to this assembly of men, on this condition, that thou give up thy
right to him, and authorize all his actions in like manner.' This done, the
multitude so united is called a Commonwealth."[67] In this view association
in political society is association in surrender. The essence of it is
subordination. The Whigs, on the other hand, inclined towards Locke. "Men
{59} being by nature all free, equal, and independent, no one can be put
out of this estate and subjected to the power of another without his own
consent. The only way whereby any one divests himself of his natural
liberty, and puts on the bonds of civil society, is by agreeing with other
men to join and unite into a community."[68] The essence of this
association was delegation and not surrender. The subject conferred power
without abandoning his right to control the use of it. The theory of Locke
was afterwards incorporated by Rousseau and the other French thinkers into
their revolutionary philosophy, and at the end of the eighteenth century
its effect was tremendous. It contains the germ of complete Liberalism, But
in England it was long embedded in a mass of circumstances which prevented
it from attaining to full growth. The people who held it were aristocrats
and landowners, and they converted the potentiality of Liberalism into the
fact of Whiggery. Whiggery, in short, was nothing but Liberalism qualified
by interest.

To this extent Whigs and Tories were distinguished. The Whigs, in the line
of old controversies, inclined to Parliament as against the Crown. Society,
according to Locke, was based upon a sort of contract. Each member, subject
to the corresponding rights of his neighbours, was entitled to enjoy such
property as he acquired without interference by others. For the common
good, certain general rules are contrived by agreement, and the State is
entrusted with all powers necessary for protecting the common interest of
the whole as well as the separate interests of the individual members. As
the State affects all, so it must act with the consent of all, and a
representative Parliament is the only means of expressing that consent.
This argument puts the supreme control of the State in the hands of
Parliament. If the Tories had any definite theory of this nature, it was
more that of Hobbes, who suggested that the State was imposed upon Society
for the purpose of maintaining order among mutually hostile individuals.
The two schools of thought were {60} thus led to emphasize, in the one
case, the need for Parliamentary control, and in the other, the need for a
strong executive Government. But this theoretic distinction, though it
contained the seeds of many practical divergences, did not correspond, in
the year 1760, to any great difference of character. The Whigs as a body
were aristocratic, they were Protestant, they were Church of England, they
were territorial, they were male. The sole point in which they were
substantially more Liberal than the Tories was the toleration of opinion.
They inherited from Locke a much more real belief that a man had a right to
think as he pleased, and to express his opinions as he pleased. They were
more willing that other people should differ from themselves. They had no
doubt of their own superiority, but they did not abuse their inferiors.
They remained themselves orthodox, but they declined to persecute.

This general toleration must not be rated at too high a value. Religion was
a cold and lifeless thing among the governing class, and the Wesleyan
movement, which began about this time to breathe a new moral spirit into
the common people, was treated by the bulk of fashionable society with
extreme contempt. Toleration sprang more often from indifference than from
generosity, and when the French Revolution broke out most of the Whig
aristocracy deserted to the Established Church as one of the strongholds of
reaction. Religion then became valuable to property. So long as it meant
little, they gave it liberty. When restriction became useful to the
magistrate, liberty was forgotten. It was only a small section of the Whigs
that, at any particular date between 1760 and 1820, could be found steadily
and conscientiously practising Liberal ideas even in religion. In the early
part of that period Liberalism existed only among the body headed by Lord
Rockingham, of whom Edmund Burke was the brains and the tongue. Burke thus
attacked the Catholic disabilities: "To exclude whole classes of men
entirely from this part of government cannot be considered as absolute
slavery. It only implies a lower and degraded state of citizenship; such is
(with more or less strictness) the condition of all countries in {61} which
an hereditary nobility possess the exclusive rule." He admits that "this
may be no bad form of government," but declares that in the Irish case the
indirect hardships produced by the Protestant ascendancy are more even than
the indirect. "They are rivalled, to say the least of the matter, in every
laborious and lucrative cause of life; while every franchise, every honour,
every trust, every place down to the very lowest and least confidential
(besides whole professions) is reserved for the master cast.... If they who
compose the privileged body have not an interest, they must but too
frequently have motives of pride, passion, petulance, peevish jealousy, a
tyrannic suspicion, to urge them to treat the excluded people with contempt
and rigour." This is pure Liberalism, perceiving that the whole man is
depreciated by his political disabilities.[69] So Fox said of the Catholic
claims: "Though they require only qualification for corporations,
Parliament, and offices under Government, the object is of great magnitude
to them. It is founded on the great principle of requiring to be placed on
a footing of equality with their fellow-subjects."[70] This insight was
rare, and it was confined almost entirely to matters of religion.
Discussion of political and proprietary institutions was as hateful to the
ordinary Whig after the Revolution as to any Tory, and even Burke always
drew the line at Unitarians. This Church had been excluded from the
Toleration Act of William III, and in 1792, the year in which Burke wrote
his _Letter to Langrishe_, Fox introduced a Bill to put them in the same
position as other Dissenters. Some of the Unitarians, especially Priestley
of Birmingham, had written and spoken in favour of the Revolution, and a
Unitarian society had celebrated the anniversary of the fall of the
Bastille. Burke's support of the Catholics may have been partly due to his
reverence for the antiquity of their creed, which was, if anything, more
venerable and more august than his own. {62} The Unitarians were
revolutionaries in religion and in politics alike, and were opposed to the
Established Church. "Let them disband as a faction," said Burke, "and let
them act as individuals; and when I see them with no other views than to
enjoy their own conscience in peace, I for one shall most cheerfully vote
for their relief." Fox was beaten by two to one, and the Unitarians were
not relieved until the end of the French War.

With the exception of this Rockingham section, and the small section which
at a later date took the Liberal view of the French Revolution, there were
no Whigs who showed a real tendency towards Liberalism. They suffered, for
the most part, no uneasiness at aristocratic monopolies, and had no
illusions about the equal worth of all human beings and their right to
equal opportunities. They believed in a governing class as firmly as the
Tories, and but for their religious freedom and their dislike of
prosecutions for seditious libels the Rockingham Whigs were not much better
than the rest. Government must always remain in the hands of aristocracy.
There must be an element of representation in order to prevent an abuse of
the governed by men endowed with absolute power. But representation must be
of classes and interests, and not of persons; and it must always be
qualified by property. "Nothing is a due and adequate representation of a
State that does not represent its ability as well as its property. But as
ability is a vigorous and active principle, and as property is sluggish,
inert, and timid, it can never be safe from the invasions of ability unless
it be out of all proportion in the representation."[71] The franchise must
be confined to men of substance, and so long as there was a fair
representation of all classes, except those who had no property, it was of
little importance that whole centres of population had no representatives
at all, while some depopulated districts had almost as many representatives
as electors. The individual voter did not count. He voted as representing
an interest. One manufacturing town would be able to protect the industries
of all. One seaport {63} would maintain the interest of all. It was a
sufficient check on a Government that there was one channel of
communication through which its subjects might make their complaints

The elector thus appointed had no power to suggest or to originate. He
could only check and prevent. So Burke, in his speech on a Bill for
Shortening the Duration of Parliaments, said: "Faithful watchmen we ought
to be over the rights and privileges of the people. But our duty, if we are
qualified for it as we ought, is to give them information, and not to
receive it from them; we are not to go to school to them to learn the
principles of law and government. In doing so we should not dutifully
serve, but we should basely and scandalously betray the people, who are not
capable of this service by nature, nor in any instance called to it by the
constitution.... They can well see whether we are tools of a court or their
honest servants ... but of the particular merits of a measure I have other
standards." Philip Francis was no less explicit: "In the lowest situations
of life the people know, as well as we do, that wherever personal industry
is encouraged, and property is protected, there must be inequalities of
possession, and consequently distinction of ranks. Then come the form and
the order, by which the substance is at once defined and preserved.
Distribution and limitation prevent confusion, and government by orders is
the natural result of property protected by Freedom."[72] In plain English,
the Whigs regarded man not as a political, but as a proprietary animal. The
object of the State was to protect man as the owner of property. Man as a
living creature was not its concern. If he could acquire property he came
within its consideration. If he could not, it would not help him; he must
fend for himself. He had a right to its protection against interference,
but he must expect no positive help. Equal worth, equal rights, and equal
opportunities were principles of which the Whigs knew as little as the
Tories themselves.

Between 1760 and 1820 there were only two prominent Whigs who approached
complete Liberalism. Others occasionally used {64} language which led in
the same direction. Lord Moira was not far away in 1796, when he opposed a
Bill for suppressing public meetings. "He could not believe that the
Almighty made any part of mankind merely to work and eat like beasts. He
had endowed man with reasoning faculties, and given him leave to use them."
Whitbread was as near when he introduced a Bill to enable justices to fix a
minimum wage instead of leaving workmen to charity and the Poor Law.
"Charity afflicted the mind of a good man, because it took away his
independence--a consideration as valuable to the labourer as to the man of
high rank."[73] But the Whig leaders whose settled habits of mind were most
Liberal were Shelburne and Charles James Fox. Shelburne's Liberalism was
deep and philosophic, that of Fox impetuous and practical. But both, though
they were never friendly with each other, had substantially the same
sympathies in all controversies of their time. Shelburne seems to have had
no social prejudices. He was an intimate friend of Bentham the Utilitarian,
of Priestley the Unitarian, of Price the Dissenting parson-economist, and
of Horne Tooke the Radical. He even appointed a Dissenting minister as
tutor to his son. In politics he held opinions which were astonishingly in
advance of those of his contemporaries. He was a Free Trader. He favoured
the election of local authorities, the abolition of alehouses, the
encouragement of workmen's clubs and friendly societies, annual national
holidays, cheap county courts, the conversion of prisons into reformatory
institutions, and national compulsory education.[74] This practical
Liberalism was inspired by original Liberal theory. The old feudalism and
government by territorial aristocracy must go, and the middle and working
classes must take its place. After the fall of the Bastille he said: "The
nonsense of feudality can never be revived.... The Bastille cannot be
rebuilt. The administration of justice {65} and feudality cannot again go
together.... The rest ... may be very safely left to public opinion and to
the light of the times. Public opinion once set free acts like the sea
never ceasingly, controlling imperceptibly and irresistibly both laws and
ministers of laws, reducing and advancing everything to its own level."[75]
In drawing up a series of reflections on society he laid down "one
fundamental principle, never to be departed from, _to put yourself in the
power of no man_."

"Constitutional liberty consists in the right of exercising freely every
faculty of mind or body, which can be exercised without preventing another
man from doing the like.... No man can be trusted with power over
another.... No gratitude can withstand power. Every man from the monarch
down to the peasant is sure to abuse it."[76] The territorial theory he
despised. "It would have been happy if the right of primogeniture was
destroyed altogether or never had existed."[77] He said that the middle and
working classes were sure to govern England in the long run, and not only
published an English edition of Condorcet's _Life of Turgot_, in order to
spread sound economic ideas among them, but even proposed to found a
non-party and Free Trade newspaper to be called _The Neutralist_.[78] He
welcomed the rise of the new industrial democracy. "Towns," he said, "will
be always found the most open to conviction, and among them the tradesmen
and middling class of men. Next to them are the manufacturers [_i.e._, the
workmen], after which, but at a great distance, comes the mercantile
interest, for in fact they belong to no country, their wealth is movable,
and they seek to gain by all, which they are in the habit of doing at the
expense of every principle; but last of all come the country gentlemen and
farmers, for the former have had both their fortunes and their
understandings at a stand ... and the farmers, who, uneducated and centered
in their never-ceasing pursuit of gain, are incapable of comprehending
anything beyond it."[79] This frank acceptance of the new order at home and
abroad, and this wise confidence in the good sense of the {66} classes who
were coming into power contrast very forcibly with the frantic
denunciations of Jacobinism in which Burke taught most of his
contemporaries to indulge. Shelburne was generally suspected and disliked
by his associates, and the only explanation seems to be his undisguised
indifference to the conventions of the old order.

Fox was as Liberal in his own way as Shelburne, and if his Liberalism was
less wise, it was much more lively. Even his vices seem not to have
impaired what was a rare and beautiful nature. He never took sides coldly.
As a mere debater he excelled. He was a perfect master of words, and no
English orator has ever surpassed him in readiness, in force, in the
arrangement of a case, in simplicity and directness of statement. But his
finest quality was his warmth of heart. He was a very spendthrift of
sympathy, and every speech of his on behalf of the Americans against
England, of the Indians against Warren Hastings, of Revolutionary France
against her foreign invaders, of the Irish Catholics against their
Protestant oppressors, or of the English common people against their
reactionary Government, had a reality which was absent from the more
splendid utterances of men like Sheridan. Even Burke, who was allied with
Fox in such fierce contests as those about America, Warren Hastings, and
Catholic disabilities, never felt a cause as Fox felt it. Fox had that very
rare and admirable faculty of inserting himself into the very heart of the
oppressed and of resenting their wrongs as if they had been his own. Even
in his greatest moments, when he denounced the treatment of the Americans
or of the Hindoos, Burke was external to the object of his sympathy. He was
a sort of divine arbiter, condemning wickedness because it violated an
eternal principle. Fox was never more than human, and if he was always less
majestic than Burke, his sensitiveness was far more acute. "The defeats of
great armies of invaders," he said, "always gave me the greatest
satisfaction in reading history, from Xerxes' time downwards."[80] A man
who can feel the ardour of a patriot in a struggle more than two thousand
years old may {67} be a bad philosopher, but he is the best possible
champion of struggling colonies, of oppressed nationalities, and of peoples
whose governors deprive them of the rights of liberty and discussion. His
defence of democratic institutions shows how Fox got into the heart of
Liberalism. "We are compelled to own that it gives a power of which no
other form of government is capable. Why? Because it incorporates every man
with the State, because it arouses everything that belongs to the soul as
well as to the body of man; because it makes every individual feel that he
is fighting for himself, and not for another; that it is his own cause, his
own safety, his own concern, his own dignity on the face of the earth, and
his own interest on the identical soil which he has to maintain."[81] It
was this capacity for seeking human beings rather than forms which made Fox
such a champion of liberty during the great war with France. He never
thought out his principles, and his instinct for their application was not
always unerring. There are some early instances of factious opposition,
which do him no credit. But he stood the great test of the French
Revolution, and if others provide posterity with more of the philosophy of
Liberalism than he, no other ever preached it more honestly or more
courageously in his day.

With these exceptions the Whig party of the end of the eighteenth century
contained few believers in Liberalism. The parties were indeed less sharply
divided at the accession of George III than they are at the present time.
Groups of statesmen, like the Rockingham Whigs, were united on general
principles of government. Districts, like the City of London and
Westminster, showed a general inclination towards democratic institutions.
But party ties were largely personal, and George III deliberately set
himself to break down divisions of opinion by bribery and intimidation, and
to consolidate a majority of the Commons in a union which had nothing in
common but its subserviency to the Crown. The labels of Whig and Tory could
not then be applied so surely as those of Liberal and {68} Conservative
to-day. Liberal opinions are therefore to be found only in a state of
partial distribution. The Rockingham Whigs were Liberal in maintaining the
supremacy of Parliament over the Crown, in claiming the rights of free
election and free discussion for the electors, in advocating the abolition
of religious disabilities, and especially in defending the American
colonists against arbitrary government from England. But even they had no
belief in a wide franchise, and some of them, who lived into the French
Revolution, even became violently reactionary. Liberalism was thus a matter
of patchwork at the best, and it would be difficult to find any
considerable party of men who were united in a substantially Liberal
political creed until 1868, when Gladstone's first Government came into
power. The general tone of government up to the outbreak of the Revolution
was Tory, tempered in some quarters by Liberal views of special subjects.
After the Revolution, though the general aspect was more definitely Tory, a
real Liberal appearance was assumed by a small section of the Whig party,
and the growth of modern Liberalism actually began.

       *       *       *       *       *




Three great events, or series of events, combined to produce the process of
individual emancipation, which is the subject of this book. The first was
the economic transformation, called the Industrial Revolution, which began
about 1760 and ended about 1830. The second was the American Rebellion,
which ended in the recognition of the independence of the United States in
1783. The third was the French Revolution, in part at least a consequence
of the American Rebellion, which ended in the establishment of a Republic
in 1793.[82] The first operated to change the conditions of life of the
English people. The second and third operated to communicate to them ideas
for which their new conditions of life had made them ready. Revolutions are
never the product of circumstances alone, or of speculation alone. They are
begotten by speculation acting upon circumstances. New ideas falling upon a
people who have no reason to seek change bring forth little fruit. New
ideas falling upon a people who have cause for discontent may bring forth
fruit a hundredfold. England, at the end of the eighteenth century, was a
society in a state of rapid economic {70} change, which produced a
disposition in the mass of the community to alter institutions adapted for
more stable conditions. From America and from France came the preaching of
the right of the individual to control his own life, which precisely suited
the case of those whom swift alterations of the economic structure exposed
to injury.

For the purposes of this work it is not necessary to examine the industrial
changes in detail. They had four leading features: the discovery of new
processes of manufacture, the invention of machinery, the application of
power, and the improvement of communications. The application of coal,
instead of wood, to the smelting of iron, and the introduction of powerful
machinery in the cotton and woollen industries, enormously increased the
production of goods, and with that the demand for workpeople and the size
of towns. In 1761 Brindley and the Duke of Bridgewater began constructing
canals, which enabled goods to be carried about the country in greater bulk
and with more speed than was ever possible with packhorses and carts. James
Watt obtained his first patent for the steam-engine in 1769, and by the end
of the century it was established in almost every industry of importance.
All these changes combined to increase to an enormous extent the quantity
of manufactured articles. But they did much more. They altered the
distribution of population, and they altered the whole system upon which
industry was based. Two things were of vital importance for the working of
the new inventions. The iron industry had formerly been situated in the
South of England, where the forests of Sussex provided ample fuel. The
coal-beds lay in South Wales and the North of England, and the iron mines
lay conveniently beside them. The iron industry accordingly disappeared
entirely from Sussex, and was re-established in the other districts. The
coal and iron industries determined the situation of the industries which
required steam power and machinery. The cotton industry found another of
its necessities in the climate of Lancashire. The woollen industry was
transferred from Norfolk, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Somersetshire, and
{71} Devonshire to the West Riding of Yorkshire. These geographical
redistributions of industry, in the course of half a century, shifted the
bulk of the population to the Midlands and the North.

The change was not merely geographical. Machinery required additional
capital expenditure, and steam power must be used on a large scale if it
was to be profitable. For the old manufacturer, a workman managing tools or
a hand machine in his own cottage, was substituted the new manufacturer, a
capitalist employing large numbers of artisans in his factory, managing his
large machines, which were operated by his steam power. The old system was
a system of small and scattered master workmen, producing and selling their
own goods. The new system was a system of closely aggregated wage-earners,
producing goods for a common employer, who provided the machinery, the
power, and the superintendence, and sold the product of their labour for
his own profit. This feature of the Industrial Revolution was as important
as its redistribution of industry. It meant a considerable loss of
independence among the working class, and it meant the birth of an entirely
new class, the employers of labour, whose wealth and importance were
destined to rival and eventually to surpass that of the landed gentry.

The most obvious consequence of these economic changes was the conversion
of the rustic cottager into the town-dwelling artisan, and the growth of
the towns presented difficulties and created grievances of which previous
generations had had little experience. The towns were designed at hazard,
with little adaptation to the needs of the present, and with no view to the
needs of the future. They were hastily planned and hastily built. The
problem of the slum, previously recognized only in London and a few
seaports and country towns, was now to be found in every little factory
town which sprang up in the potteries, the textile districts, and the coal
and iron districts. Narrow streets, dark courts, houses built back to back,
inadequate sanitary appliances, deficient water-supply, bad drainage, every
evil thing which to-day stares at the sad eyes of progress, was planted at
a thousand spots where before there had at least {72} been open country and
fresh air. Factory and housing legislation were unknown. Men toiled twelve
or fourteen hours a day in bad air, in excessive heat or cold, and with
insufficient light. Women, who had been accustomed to weave, and spin, and
bake, and brew in their own cottage homes, followed their industries into
the factories. Some of them toiled underground in coalpits. A child of six
might be worked for fourteen hours a day in a mine, as a chimney sweep, at
a potter's oven, or in a cotton mill. Pauper children were farmed out to
employers under conditions which were no better than slavery. Wages, in the
absence of any real combination among the workpeople, were at the
discretion of the employers, and naturally fell to the lowest possible
level. Some trades were better than others, and some employers were better
than others. But the evidence collected by different Parliamentary
Committees between 1800 and 1840 is overwhelming proof of general, if not
universal, degradation. The managing class seems to have believed that
leisure was dangerous, even for little children, and the poor were made
slaves, lest they should become dissolute.

The conditions of life and labour, bad as they were, were often made worse
by the precarious nature of employment. At the present day, invention
seldom inflicts great shocks upon labour. Improvements are constant but
gradual. In the hurry of the Industrial Revolution, invention proceeded at
an accelerating pace, and the introduction of some new appliance into a
single industry might reduce the demand for labour by a quarter, or a half,
or even three-quarters, and almost depopulate a town at a single blow. Some
trades were more fortunate than others in this respect, but almost all
suffered. All alike were injured by the constant wars in which the country
was involved. These wasted capital, increased the taxation of the
necessaries of life, and, by disturbing foreign trade, made profits
speculative, and so made it difficult for the most benevolent manufacturer
to establish his business upon the basis of high and steady wages for his
workfolk. The country was never actually invaded, so that industry was
never ruined, as it was ruined in Germany and other parts of {73} Europe.
Even Napoleon clothed his troops in Yorkshire woollens when he set out to
conquer Russia. But the production of wealth, which so increased in spite
of war, was chiefly for the benefit of the employing and investing classes.
The share of the working class was undoubtedly much less in proportion than
their share under the old system. But their lot was made harder still by
high prices, and especially by the high price of corn. The growth of
population had, by the end of the eighteenth century, made it impossible
for the country to supply all the wheat required for domestic consumption.
The war checked imports, bad harvests reduced the home supply, and a
vicious protective tariff completed the work of natural causes. Between
1785 and 1794 the average price of a quarter of wheat was about 50s.
Between 1795 and 1801 it was about 87s., and at a later date it rose to a
still greater height. The industrial population was thus distressed by bad
conditions of life, fluctuations of employment, long hours, low wages, and
high prices. When we recollect that this society was composed very largely
of ignorant men, we are not surprised to find many of them disaffected and
even turbulent. The man who knows, or thinks that he knows a remedy for his
misery is often dangerous. But he is never so dangerous as the man who
knows nothing of causes and effects, has never pondered over a question of
economics, and, as he has never sought an explanation for the present, can
have little idea of how he can most wisely direct the future. The progress
of the Industrial Revolution was thus accompanied by suffering and
discontent among the labouring population.

These economic changes led directly to psychological changes, and the new
thinking was not merely the expression of unreasoning discomfort. An
entirely new class appeared in society. The employers of labour were added
to the other elements of the middle class, the merchants and shipowners,
the barristers and doctors, and the better sort of clergy and attorneys.
The new class, larger and more wealthy than any of the others, was
dominated by no traditions, either for good or evil, and it depended for
its existence and growth upon qualities of enterprise and adaptability,
which territorial wealth neither required from {74} nor fostered in its
owners. The rise of the capitalist employers meant a great increase in the
Liberal spirit, and their influence eventually broke down the Toryism of
the old landed interest. The manufacturers were perhaps more Liberal than
they knew, and their unconscious influence on political habits of mind was
as great as their deliberate expression of new ideas. The whole atmosphere
in which they lived was fatal to Conservatism, and new ideas moved more
rapidly among them than among those who were surrounded by the stereotyped
forms and persisting influences of a feudal land system. Manufacture, by
its constantly changing processes, accustoms those who engage in it to the
idea of continual adaptation and improvement. Its organizers are never
afraid of change in itself, and they always refer established things to
standards of utility. They are intolerant of any thing which appears to
subject convenience to forms. The early capitalists were therefore little
disposed to set much store by the distinctions of sects and orders. They
were wealthy, and were naturally not inspired by zeal for the wider
distribution of wealth. They were employers of labour, and were naturally
not anxious to strengthen labour in its demand for higher wages and better
conditions. But they were ready to accept, not manhood suffrage, but the
reform of rotten boroughs; not the disestablishment of the Church, but the
removal of the disabilities of Dissenters and Catholics; not social reform,
but the abolition of the protective tariff; not State education, but the
mitigation of the ferocities of the criminal law; not the appropriation of
the unearned increment of land, but the destruction of the antiquated
ceremonies which made its transfer difficult and expensive. The general
effect of the rise of this class was to strengthen Liberalism, not so much
by a direct assault upon Toryism as by overbearing Conservatism. One
positive piece of Liberal work is due to them. Their whole industrial
system was built up in free and open competition. They hated the
interference of the State, and it was they who, in a subsequent generation,
abolished Protection. But at the time with which this chapter is concerned,
their chief value lay in that they had none of the aristocratic Tory's
antipathy {75} to new ideas as such. They had no love of political
monopolies which were not their own.

The effect of the Industrial Revolution upon the minds of the working class
was infinitely more acute. The employers had no aversion to change. The
employed had every reason to seek for it. While they became, as dwellers in
towns, more exposed to the infection of new ideas, they encountered new
hardships, which made them more sensitive. Political doctrines, which
hardly stirred the mind of a cottager, dividing his time between
manufacturing and tilling a small plot of ground in open country, sounded
loudly in the ears of an artisan, quickened by contact with machinery and
constant intercourse with his fellows in the factory or in the street,
cramped by living in a sunless court in a crowded town, earning a bare
subsistence by exhausting labour, or thrown out of work by the introduction
of a new machine or the bankruptcy of his employer. Even in the absence of
systematic education, there is a kind of intellectual development which is
inevitable in industrial society. Friendly societies, Trade Unions, crowded
workshops, closely packed dwellings, all tend to stimulate the exchange of
ideas, and however clumsy the industrial organization of the period may
have been, it inevitably produced a new quickness of thinking. The
character of that thinking was determined by the conditions of life.

Political disability may have nothing, it cannot have much, to do directly
with economic distresses. But no people in a state of bodily misery was
ever yet persuaded by the most logical argument that the one is not
connected indissolubly with the other. They are wretched. They cannot
control their circumstances. Does it not follow that if they could control
their own circumstances they would cease to be wretched? Economic
discontent invariably produces political discontent, and that whether the
sufferer has a voice in his government or not. It is always to the
advantage of society that he should have such a voice. If he has a vote he
may overturn a Government. But he will not overturn all government. He may
expel a party. He will not subvert the State. Whether a trade depression
will produce a {76} revolution or only a General Election depends on
whether the bulk of the working people are enfranchised or not. In the one
case the party system provides discontent with an alternative. In the other
there is no hope of constitutional change. Probably only the excitement of
the war with France saved England from violent internal disturbances at the
end of the eighteenth century. The sense of national power is a good
anodyne for personal misery, as governing classes have always been aware.
But if there was no great disaster, there was grave unrest. All
circumstances combined to make the preaching of new social principles
popular and their application to the existing state of society fierce.

It was not merely a vague and general suffering which stimulated political
discussion among the working classes at this time. They had definite
grievances, which were obviously produced by their disfranchisement and
could only be removed by their admission to political power. When the
Industrial Revolution began, there was still on the Statute Book the Act of
Elizabeth, which allowed the magistrates to fix wages in proportion to the
prevailing local price of corn. It is doubtful whether this method of
establishing a minimum wage based on the standard of bare subsistence could
have been used successfully in the new conditions. Country gentlemen might
have been able to make an accurate guess at a fair wage when industry was
stable and competition not acute. They would certainly be incompetent in
the age of machinery, of violent fluctuations of trade, and of intense
competition between employers. The only people who can ever fix minimum
wages are the employers and workmen themselves, acting through
representatives. But the Act offered at least the opportunity of
experiment, and any attempt to preserve a decent standard of life among the
workpeople would have been better than the alternative of leaving the
standard to the discretion of the employer, who would naturally be disposed
to make it low. The agricultural labourers made several attempts to get
their wages fixed in this way.[83] For {77} various reasons the Act was not
enforced, and in 1795 the magistrates began to adopt the alternative of
granting poor relief regulated by the price of corn. This was the fatal
Speenhamland policy, which, by securing a subsistence to all labourers,
irrespective of their work, degraded their character by making up wages to
the subsistence level, whatever their amount, induced employers to reduce
wages for pauper labourers and independent labourers alike, and, by
enormously increasing the burden of rates, seriously injured the whole
agricultural industry.

A similar experience befell many of the artisans, especially the cotton
weavers. In 1795 Whitbread introduced a Bill, which proposed to apply the
principles of the Elizabethan Act to the workers in towns. It was read a
second time without opposition, but got no farther. Thirteen years later a
second Bill was defeated by the Economists and _laissez faire_. It was
honestly believed by theorists and by the few practical politicians who,
like Pitt, were beginning to study political economy, that wages could only
be fixed by bargaining between employers and employed, and depended upon
the extent of the wages fund, the amount left after the employers had paid
the rent of their land, the interest on their capital, and their own
profits. This fund was always assumed to be fixed. Any attempt to increase
it meant a reduction of profits, and a reduction of profits meant a less
inducement to employers to establish industries, and consequently a
reduction of employment. To some extent the argument was sound. During the
rapid transition from hand labour to machinery, it might have been worth an
employer's while to employ large numbers of men at low wages rather than a
small number of men with expensive machinery. A slight increase of the
average wage might have turned the balance in favour of the machinery. But
the argument as a whole ignored two facts. The first was that the
inducement offered to the employers was excessive, and that they might
still have established as many factories, even if their profits had been
somewhat less. The second was that an increase in wages {78} would have
been followed by increased efficiency and an increased production of
wealth, leaving larger sums to be given to employers and employed alike.
These considerations did not weigh with the early economists. Wages were
left to what was called free bargaining, in which the comparatively wealthy
employer got the better of his comparatively poor workmen.

This refusal of redress by legislation was the more exasperating because it
was accompanied by a prohibition of redress by combination. Parliament
would neither help the workmen nor allow them to help themselves. Attempts
to organize Trade Unions were discouraged or actively suppressed. In 1799
and 1800 two Combination Acts were passed, which made illegal all contracts
between workmen for obtaining an advance in wages, for reducing hours of
employment, for preventing employers from employing any particular workman,
or for controlling any person in the management of his business. Breach of
the Acts was made a criminal offence, punishable by fine and
imprisonment.[84] Combinations of employers were nominally prohibited in
precisely the same way, but in the political circumstances of the time the
law was enforced only against the men. Trade Unions, in fact, continued to
exist, and in many trades they succeeded in arranging wages with the
masters. So long as the relations of employers and employed were friendly,
the Acts were left alone. But when a strike began they were brought into
operation, and the workpeople were forcibly reminded of the consequences of
political impotence. Large numbers of them were thus reduced to the same
state as the agricultural labourers, and lived on scanty wages, eked out by
charity and the Poor Law.

The Industrial Revolution thus gradually transformed society, and created
what were substantially two new classes of people, of which the first was
by nature averse to Conservatism, and the second was by circumstances made
restless and eager for change. The successive events of the American
Rebellion and the French Revolution fell upon this changing society like
flame upon {79} stubble. But a few years before the dispute with the
Colonies came to a head, there took place a sort of preliminary
demonstration of the principles which that controversy forced into
prominence. Speculation had brought a small body of Englishmen to definite
support of manhood suffrage, annual Parliaments, and the substitution of
pledged delegates for representatives with freedom of action. These
principles were simply the logical extreme of Liberalism. If every man is
to be regarded as equal with every other, then every man must have a vote.
If every man ought to have a vote, he must be allowed to exercise it as
soon as he becomes entitled to it, and therefore Parliament must be
dissolved every year in order to permit the new voters to express their
wishes. If every man ought to have a vote, he must be allowed to vote not
merely on general principles of policy, but on details, and his
representative must be instructed to vote for or against without using his
own discretion. This abstract reasoning had not affected any large
proportion of the population. The Duke of Richmond was the most
distinguished of these speculators; John Cartwright, a naval officer, who
afterwards became a major in the militia, was the most voluminous of their
writers; their most effective workers were men like the clerical Horne
Tooke and Wyvil; and their largest following was in the county of
Yorkshire. As a political force they counted for nothing at all. But the
affair of Wilkes and the Middlesex election brought the whole subject of
representative government vividly into the public eye, and the political
philosophers found their doctrines for a short time popular.

Between 1768 and 1770 there was a distinct tendency in politics towards the
reform of Parliament, the reduction of the number of rotten boroughs, and
the restriction of the influence of the Crown. This was produced by bad
harvests and industrial depression. The expulsion of John Wilkes from the
House of Commons in 1770 brought this discontent to a head, and provoked
not only dangerous riots in London, but also violent discussion of
political principles. Wilkes was a disreputable person, though not more
disreputable than some men who enjoyed {80} the confidence of the Crown and
Parliament. He was obnoxious to the Government of the day, and after twice
beating the Tory candidate for Middlesex, was twice expelled from the
House. The Government and the House thus asserted their right to refuse to
accept the chosen representative of the electors, and, in effect, to
dictate to them what representative they should choose. It did not require
any pedantic process of reasoning to show that this was the negation of
representative government, even of the qualified representative government
of that time. The right of election is nothing unless it is the right to
elect whom the electors please. Within the metropolitan area the House of
Commons was fiercely attacked, and there was more than one conflict between
the Courts of Law and the Executive. The main question was whether the
House of Commons was to be a private assembly of gentlemen, managing public
affairs as irresponsibly as they managed their own estates, or whether it
was to be a public assembly, chosen by the community and responsible to it.
"What were the relations between the House of Commons and the
constituencies? Could the House dictate to the constituencies whom they
should elect? If it could, did it not follow that members were neither
representatives nor delegates, but an absolute oligarchy?" From this the
public proceeded to inquire not only whether the House was right in
expelling an elected member, but by what title those who voted in favour of
expulsion held their own seats. The scandals of the existing system were
obvious. Even at that day, before the growth of the great towns, the
distribution of seats bore no relation to the figures of the population.
The county of Cornwall returned as many members as the whole of Scotland.
London, Westminster, and Middlesex, the most densely populated part of the
kingdom, returned only eight members, while Cornwall returned forty-four.
Out of 513 English and Welsh members, 254 were returned by only 11,500
voters, and six constituencies had less than four voters each. Bribery and
corruption was thus made an easy task. Boroughs were bought and sold like
landed estates, and Lord Chesterfield complained in {81} 1767 that the
Indian adventurers had so raised prices that mere inherited wealth could
not compete with them.[85] The expenses of elections were enormous, and in
some cases reached £30,000 or £40,000.[86] Inside the House, members, who
had thus acquired their seats either by nomination or by purchase, had
nothing to fear from their constituents, and many of them could be bought
by the Crown with little difficulty. In 1770 no less than 192 of them held
offices under the Crown, and were directly under its influence.[87] A House
of this sort could only be endured without complaint while it acted in
harmony with public opinion. So long as politics were no more than a
business for gentlemen, it mattered little how gentlemen acquired their
interest in it, or how they employed their interest when they had got it.
But the disputes about Wilkes made people think that politics concerned the
electors as well as the legislators, and when the voters of Middlesex found
that the gentlemen in the House refused to accept their representative,
they, and other voters like them, began to inquire fiercely into the whole

Wilkes actually made use of some of the logical Liberal or Radical terms of
speech for his own purposes. In No. 19 of the _North Briton_, he wrote of
the right of the people "to resume the power they have delegated, and to
punish their servants who have abused it," and he invited his constituents
to give him their "instructions." Whether Wilkes honestly held the Radical
faith or not, he preached it with great popularity and success, and he
stood for much more than he was. He was unquestionably a scoundrel. But he
was expelled from the House because he was a demagogue. Persecution
converted him from a blackguard into a standard of battle, and "Wilkes and
Liberty" became the cry of all who valued free government. Liberty has
always owed as much to the folly and extravagance of its enemies as to the
wisdom and devotion of its friends.

The contest ended in the victory of Wilkes and the electors of {82}
Middlesex, and the popular ardour was quickly cooled. But two permanent
marks were left upon English politics. The first was of infinite
importance, as indicating a breach in the aristocratic monopoly of public
affairs. The public meeting became a regular means of expressing opinion
and of influencing Parliament. In August, 1769, a meeting was held in
Westminster Hall at which seven thousand people were said to be
present.[88] Many meetings were also held of the freehold voters of the
different counties, who were at this time almost the only independent
voters in the country. These passed resolutions, sent instructions to their
members, and approved petitions.[89] The second permanent change effected
by the Wilkes controversy was the establishment of the Society of the
Supporters of the Bill of Rights. This was founded in 1769 to assist
Wilkes, the prime mover being Horne Tooke, the Vicar of Brentford.[90] The
fundamental principles of this Society were Radical, and it proposed to
test every candidate for Parliament by inviting him to pledge himself to
equal distribution of seats, annual Parliaments, and the exclusion of
placemen from the Commons, and to take an oath against bribery. The Society
was soon superseded by the Constitutional Society, which maintained the
same principles, and from this time political associations outside
Parliament have remained a permanent feature of English life.

When the immediate controversy had subsided, the course of domestic
politics remained uneventful for a few years. The King and Lord North were
slowly buying up the House of Commons, and establishing a practical
despotism which proved far more dangerous to the public than the more
obvious tyranny of the Stuarts. The Rockingham Whigs looked with jealous
eyes upon this revival of their ancient enemy, the power of the Crown. Even
as it stood, Parliament was better than Monarchy. Parliament acted
according to law, the Crown at its discretion or caprice. Parliament was
responsible in some {83} measure to the people it governed, the Crown was
not responsible at all. Parliament was an instrument which could be
wielded, however clumsily, by the nation; the Crown was an active and
independent agent, which could only be expelled for misbehaviour, after the
mischief had been done. If the Crown were allowed to overcome the
resistance of Parliament, the last check on its power would be gone. This
small body of Whigs therefore laboured, though with little success, to
maintain the purity and independence of the Commons by the exclusion of
placemen and the reduction of sinecures. The American War brought the whole
question of government to an issue, and the struggle, which had seemed to
end in the English Revolution of 1688, was fought out again across the
Atlantic. The dispute between England and the Colonies was simply whether
the Colonies were to be governed despotically or in accordance with their
own wishes. The stamp duty and the tea duty, which figured so largely in
the quarrel, imposed no real burden on the Americans, and would not, by
themselves, have caused any difficulty. Even the elaborate commercial
restrictions, which used the Colonies for the interest of the Mother
Country in the same way as they used Ireland, had produced little
ill-feeling. What really happened in the first fifteen years of George
III's reign was that a community of civilized men, united by their common
geographical situation and common interest, and sundered from an older
civilization by some thousands of miles of ocean, became resolved no longer
to be governed in accordance with the ideas of that older civilization. The
Americans, in a word, had acquired a nationality of their own. While the
French held Canada, the danger of invasion from the North kept the
colonists eager for the British connection. The expulsion of the French in
1763 left the colonists free from external menace, and without this
pressure towards union, the essential differences of the two societies made
themselves felt. The dispute about taxation would undoubtedly be settled by
all modern lawyers in favour of England. Parliament had the legal right to
impose taxes on the Americans, nor was there anything {84} morally wrong in
asking them to contribute to the cost of their own defence. But the
proposal to tax was only evidence of a persisting habit of disposition. The
Americans were not interested in the affairs of Europe. They preferred to
manage their own business. The English Government made the fatal error of
first irritating them by arbitrary interference, and then alienating them
by force. In 1783 George III acknowledged the independence of the United
States of America.

The war produced a direct conflict between Liberalism and Toryism. Did the
Colonies exist for the benefit of the Mother Country or for their own? Had
or had not one section of the Anglo-Saxon race the right to compel another
section? Was a homogeneous society two thousand miles away to be governed
by an English Government in a way of which it disapproved? Subsequent
generations have settled the Empire upon Liberal principles, and have
decided to treat a colony of white men as an independent nationality. The
Tories of the American Rebellion decided otherwise, with disastrous
results. But in losing the American Colonies, England escaped a greater
disaster. It was a choice between losing the Colonies and losing domestic
liberty. Never was the relation between foreign and domestic policy more
vividly displayed. Never was it more clearly demonstrated that a political
philosophy is one and indivisible. The Tories could only conquer in America
by principles which would enable them to conquer in England also. This was
always present to the minds of the Whigs, who had no doubt that in fighting
for the Americans they were fighting their old enemy of the Revolution.
Liberalism and Conservatism were in this case identified. The Whigs, in
maintaining the principle of representative government, were defending an
established institution. The Tories, in endeavouring to destroy local
self-government by principles which struck at the root of domestic
self-government, were revolutionaries rushing headlong into reaction. "I
deny," said one of their champions, "that there is any such thing as
Representation at all in our Constitution, but that the Commons are taken
out of {85} the people, as the democratic part of the Government, not
elected as representatives of the people, but commissioned by them in like
manner as the Lords are commissioned or appointed by the Crown. If the
Commons were the representatives of the people, the people might control
them, and the instructions of the electors would be binding upon the
members."[91] The Whig doctrine, opposed to this negation of Parliament,
was stated most forcibly by Burke, in his _Address to the King_. In this
manifesto he said: "To leave any real freedom to Parliament, freedom must
be left to the Colonies. A military government is the only substitute for
civil liberty. That the establishment of such a power in America will
utterly ruin our finances (though its certain effect) is the smallest part
of our concern. It will become an apt, powerful, and certain engine for the
destruction of our freedom here. Great bodies of armed men, trained to a
contempt of popular assemblies representative of an English people; kept up
for the purpose of exacting impositions without their consent and
maintained by that exaction; instruments in subverting, without any process
of law, great ancient establishments and respected forms of government; set
free from, and therefore above, the ordinary English tribunals where they
serve,--these men cannot so transform themselves, merely by crossing the
sea, as to behold with love and reverence, and submit with profound
obedience to the very same things in Great Britain which in America they
had been taught to despise, and had been accustomed to awe and humble....
We deprecate the effect of the doctrines which must support and countenance
the government over conquered Englishmen."[92]


The matter was indeed worse than a mere corruption of the army. The people
who used the army would be as much demoralized as the army itself, and
every Tory civilian would be converted into an active enemy of his own
freedom. Burke, whose speeches on this subject are a treasure-house of
political wisdom, saw straight into the heart of the matter. "There are
many whose whole scheme of freedom is made up of pride, perverseness, and
insolence. They feel themselves in a state of thraldom, they imagine that
their souls are cooped and cabined in unless they have some man, or some
body of men, dependent on their mercy. This desire of having some one below
them descends to those who are the very lowest of all, and a Protestant
cobbler, debased by his poverty, but exalted by his share of the ruling
Church, feels a pride in knowing it is by his generosity alone that the
peer, whose footman's instep he measures, is able to keep his chaplain from
a jail. This disposition is the true source of the passion which many men
in very humble life have taken to the American war. _Our_ subjects in
America; _our_ colonies; _our_ dependants."[93] It was not argument, but a
habit of mind, which Burke encountered. Even without a victory in America,
the corruption of the Tory mind was bad enough. It was precisely in the
temper of the American War that Tory statesmen, after the French
Revolution, afflicted their own countrymen. But from the utter loss of the
temper of independence England was saved by the loss of the Colonies. The
power of the Crown seemed to be strong even after the war. But a train of
events in the mind had been started which could not be stopped, and in
feet, when George III abandoned his hold over the Americans, he abandoned
also his hold over the English.

This victory was decisive, and it is difficult to see in what other quarter
it could ever have been won. There was no country in Europe where such a
definite assertion of the right of {87} a people to control their
government was likely to be made. Even France, where a few years later the
assertion came with ten times greater vigour, owed much to the American
rising. The French Government, which allied itself with the Americans to
injure its old enemy England, by that very act destroyed itself. The final
result of its exertions was precisely the opposite of what it intended, and
what, at first sight, it achieved. Apparently, it humiliated England and
elevated itself. Actually, it saved England and destroyed itself. Its
subjects were exposed in America to the fatal contagion of liberty. They
brought it back to their own country, and in ten years the French
Government had perished, and the whole of Europe was infected.

It cannot safely be asserted that the Revolution in Europe would have been
so successful but for the American Rebellion. The general ignorance and
apathy of the poorer classes, and the general acceptance of established
things which prevailed among the others, were weights which few Europeans
would have tried to lift, or could have lifted if they had tried. In the
American Colonies were gathered people of a different complexion. The
Rebellion was not that purely noble and disinterested thing which lovers of
liberty would have wished it to be. But the people concerned were such as
made certain their maintenance of a noble principle, even from bad motives.
The stocks from which they sprang were among the most vigorous of the
English race. The lives which most of them lived made them hard and
self-reliant. The distance which they lived from the Mother Country
weakened the influences of tradition. Their institutions were in some
districts reminiscent of the English. But in general it would be fair to
say that they had no aristocracy and no privileged Church, land was free to
all, the women were trained to vigour and independence no less than the
men. Except in a few of the older settlements every circumstance tended to
foster individuality, and left a man free to raise himself by his own
exertions to positions of dignity and power. As Tom Paine put it in the
Second Part of his _Rights of Man_, "So deeply rooted were all the
Governments of the old world, and so effectually {88} had the tyranny and
the antiquity of habit established itself over the mind, that no beginning
could be made in Asia, Africa, or Europe, to reform the political condition
of man. Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as
rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think." The
significance of this great event could hardly be exaggerated. One of the
oldest and most powerful monarchies had been humiliated by a people who
proclaimed, as the foundation of their new State, the equality of all
individuals within it. The presence of the United States was a perpetual
reminder to the discontented and the suffering among the older peoples that
successful revolt was possible, and that constitutions might stand fast
which did not confer privileges upon any class in the community. It would
be absurd to pretend that the American people have not often fallen short
of their own ideals. But the ideals were at least established. It was no
small thing that a State should have come into being whose founders
proclaimed in their Declaration of Independence that "We hold these truths
to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed
by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights
Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the
consent of the governed." There are not less than five historical or
logical errors in that sonorous passage. But it acted on the old world like
the voice of God among the dry bones.

Opinion in England seems to have been generally favourable to the war.
Opposition was most marked among the commercial classes, whose trade was
seriously injured by the loss of the colonial market and the destruction of
shipping. Such as it was, it encouraged the organization of public opinion
outside Parliament, which had been previously practised in the affair of
Wilkes. The attack was properly directed against the Crown. The City of
London led the way in December, 1779, by resolving "that the various
measures which have brought the landed and {89} mercantile interest of this
country into its present reduced and deplorable situation could not have
been pursued to their actual extremity, had it not been for the abuse of
the present increased, enormous, and undue influence of the Crown." There
followed a meeting of the freeholders of Yorkshire. This assembly protested
against the multiplication of sinecures and pensions "from whence the Crown
had acquired a great and unconstitutional influence, which, if not checked,
might soon prove fatal to the liberties of this country," and a committee
was appointed to prepare a plan for an association to promote economic
reform and restore the freedom of Parliament. Great excitement was caused
at this meeting by the indiscreet remarks of a gentleman called Smelt, who
had been one of the tutors of the Prince of Wales. He appears to have
argued that the King's influence was too little rather than too great, and
the indignation produced by his remarks shows how widely independent
opinion dissented from the servility of Parliament.[94] Similar meetings
were held in nearly thirty different counties and boroughs, and in most of
them committees of correspondence were appointed. Deputies from some of
these committees met in London in March, under the chairmanship of Wyvil,
the Yorkshire clergyman. The deputies published a memorial which described
the state of government as "a despotic system," declared that "the whole
capacity of popular freedom had been struck at," and referred in plain
terms to the "venal majority" in the House of Commons. The memorial
demanded that one hundred new members should be sent to Westminster to
represent the counties.[95]

This external pressure produced some effect even upon Parliament, corrupt
though it was. In April the House of Commons resolved by a majority of
eighteen "that the influence of the Crown has increased, is increasing, and
ought to be diminished." Resolutions in favour of economical reforms were
passed without divisions, and Burke introduced a Bill for reducing
expenditure {90} by about £200,000 a year and for abolishing some of the
worst of the sinecures. But the tide soon ceased to flow in Parliament. The
Gordon Riots in June, 1780, gave the Tories a very useful weapon against
popular agitation. The Duke of Richmond actually introduced a Bill for
manhood suffrage and annual Parliaments on the very day when the Protestant
mob began the work of plunder and arson. But any attempt at political
reform was at this time hopeless. There was no unanimity among the
reformers. The Duke of Richmond was a logical Radical. Fox supported annual
Parliaments and opposed manhood suffrage. Burke, who was active in
proposals to suppress corruption, would not accept even triennial
Parliaments, and though he had no objection to slight changes in the
distribution of seats, hated equally all drastic changes in the franchise
and in the composition of the House of Commons. A dissolution of Parliament
and an election, at which the King spent nearly £50,000 in buying votes,
strengthened the Tory Government, and even Burke's plans for economical
reforms were generally defeated.

The campaign in the country persisted, and in May, 1782, William Pitt
revived the question of political reform in the House of Commons. There can
be no doubt that Pitt was then and for some time afterwards in favour of
considerable changes, and but for the accident of the French Revolution, he
would probably have abolished many of the rotten boroughs and extended the
franchise by the end of the eighteenth century. His speech of 1782 was
hardly less vigorous in its denunciations of royal and aristocratic
influence than were the speeches of Fox in the House and those of the
country meetings outside it. But he was at this time only a new member,
with none of that mastery of the assembly which he afterwards acquired. His
motion for a Special Committee was beaten by 161 votes to 141, and fifty
years elapsed before the cause received such powerful support again. Pitt
did indeed introduce a Bill in 1785 which provided for the purchase of a
certain number of rotten boroughs and the transfer of their members to the
counties and London, and for the establishment of a permanent compensation
fund which should be {91} applied to similar objects in future years, as
the population passed to the unrepresented industrial towns of the North.
But in this scheme he acted without his colleagues. By 248 votes to 174 the
House refused him leave to introduce the Bill, and he never made a second
attempt. Five years later the French Revolution made him a determined
opponent of the cause which he had once supported.

So far as Parliament was concerned, the Liberal movement for political
reform made no headway. In other channels the Liberal tide moved quietly
but steadily. In 1778 relief was obtained by the Roman Catholics from some
of their worst disabilities. In that year Sir George Savile's Bill
abolishing the penalties upon priests and Jesuits who were found teaching
in schools, and the infamous rule which dispossessed a Papist owner of real
property in favour of the next Protestant heir, was passed in both Houses
without opposition. But even this slight measure of justice aroused great
hostility in the country, and two years later the Gordon Riots showed that
the persecuting zeal of Protestantism was not yet dead. The Dissenters were
the next to move, but in their case Conservatism was too powerful. In 1787,
dissatisfied with the annual Acts of Indemnity, which preserved the stigma
of inferiority while relieving them of its legal penalties, the
Presbyterians, Independents, and Baptists attempted to procure the repeal
of the Test Act and the Corporation Act. Their case was presented in the
House of Commons by a Churchman named Beaufoy in 1787 and again in 1789.
North opposed him on the grounds that abolition would endanger the
Established Church, which was an essential part of the British
Constitution. Fox took the true Liberal view, declared that no Church
should be Established which was not the Church of the majority of the
people, and went so far as to say that "if the majority of the people of
England should ever be for the abolition of the Established Church, in such
a case the abolition ought immediately to follow." Pitt was no bigot, but
consulted the Archbishop of Canterbury. A meeting of the {92} Bishops
decided against abolition by ten votes to two.[96] Pitt, therefore spoke
against the motion, which was defeated.[97] But the cause was not hopeless.
The voting in 1787 was 178 against 100. In 1789 it was 122 against 102. But
in 1792, when a similar motion was made by Fox, the conditions were
altered. The French Revolution had broken out. The property of the French
Church had been confiscated. Dr. Priestley, the most copious of the
Dissenting writers, had expressed his desire to disestablish the English
Church. Dr. Price, the most popular of the Dissenting preachers, had
praised the acts of the French revolutionaries. All the fears of reaction
rallied to support the Establishment, and the motion was beaten by 296
votes to 105. It was not brought forward again for nearly forty years.

The right of free discussion, so essential to the maintenance of political
and religious liberty, gained some additional protection in 1791, when
Fox's Libel Act was passed. Prior to that date juries had been confined in
libel cases to answering two questions: was the document published? and
what did its words mean? The judge then decided whether the meaning put
upon the words by the jury constituted a libel or not. This system gave a
great advantage to the Government in all cases of seditious or blasphemous
libel, and prosecutions of printers and journalists were very common. The
judge was a lawyer, and probably Tory in his opinions. He was connected
with Government, with the propertied classes, and with the Established
Church. Any attack on existing political, proprietary, or religious
institutions was therefore tested by a man who was probably prejudiced in
favour of all three, and might actually have defended in the House of Lords
the policy which had been attacked by the prisoner at the bar. Judges like
Lord Mansfield and Lord Camden had shown themselves, during the Wilkes
controversy, to be honourable and upright. But the danger existed, and even
if the judge's power was not consciously abused, it was always {93} liable
to be affected by class prejudice.[98] Fox's Libel Act gave to the jury the
right to decide whether a publication was libellous or not. After the
outbreak of the French Revolution, when the middle classes showed
themselves as bigoted as the upper, even trial by jury was but a poor
protection to an avowed Republican or atheist. But the new principle was
safer than the old, and it was something even to have asserted that a man's
political opinions should be judged by his fellow-subjects, and not by a
member of the governing class. The Act implied, in the minds of those who
voted for it, a reversal of the old conception of State and subject. So
long as the supremacy of the State was assumed, criticism of government was
inevitably regarded as improper. It was, in effect, the servant rebuking
the master. On the other hand, when the right of the subject to control the
State becomes the basis of political reasoning, criticism of government is
no more than the master rebuking the servant. The passing of Fox's Libel
Act is a proof that political minds were in a state of transition, and
suggests, no less than Pitt's proposals for reform, that but for the French
Revolution political estimates might have been revised, and political
institutions readjusted, at a much earlier date than they were.

One other transaction of this period is of importance in the history of
Liberalism. In 1785 the House of Commons resolved that Warren Hastings
should be impeached for his conduct of affairs in India. Hastings had been
Governor-General under the East India Company, whose territory and
influence had been enormously increased since the victories of Clive and
the expulsion of the French twenty years before. The prime mover in the
impeachment was Burke, who devoted to the preparation of the charges and
the conduct of the trial enormous industry, and an eloquence so tremendous
that to this day no man can read his speeches without shaking with horror
and indignation. {94} The Company had been guilty of every vice which the
disposing mind displays when it is brought into contact with weaker
peoples. It had developed the art of exploitation to perfection. Its agents
were in the country to make money for their shareholders, and in pursuing
the interest of their shareholders they did not forget their own. The
natives were exposed to a double confiscation, and every consideration of
good government was not seldom subordinated to this universal rapacity. The
agents bribed and forged, they abused judicial process, they broke treaties
and sold their allies, they made war upon those peoples whom it was
convenient to treat as their enemies, and when they wanted an excuse for a
campaign of their own they hired out British soldiers to a native
destroyer, and entrusted to him the work of massacre and pillage which they
were unwilling to undertake themselves. The inhabitants of India were not
at that time acquainted with the classics. Had they been, they might more
than once have quoted with grim justice against the British those words
which the Latin historian put into the mouth of one of their own ancestors:
"Slaughter and plunder are in their vocabulary synonymous with Empire, and
when they have made a desert they call it peace."[99]

Hastings was in fact incomparably better than his predecessors, and after
the trial had dragged on for more than seven years he was acquitted by the
Lords. But the proceedings had established the great principle that
morality is to be observed by white races in dealing with black, and that
even though forms of government may be different, the objects of government
are the same in all parts of the world, the happiness of the governed and
not the enrichment of the governor. The impeachment cost Burke fourteen
years of unremitting labour. But though he failed in his immediate object,
and though the improvement in the methods of Indian government was slow,
the permanent effects of his work remained. Burke's speeches were often
overcharged, and if {95} Hastings had been as bad as Burke believed him to
be, he would have been supernaturally bad. But indignation on behalf of an
alien race is not so common that we can afford to spare even its excess. A
later generation of Englishmen, reading some of the sorry pages in the
history of our modern Empire, may regret the absence from us of Burke's
imagination, sympathy, and inexhaustible wrath. Acts of Parliament passed
in 1772 and 1784 gave the Crown political control over the East India
Company, and the complete transfer of the Company's rights in 1858
established the government of India upon a political and no longer upon a
commercial basis. Blemishes there are still, but there are few systems of
government in the world which are less influenced by the desire to promote
the selfish ends of the governors. The transformation of English opinion
with regard to India began with Burke.

On the eve of the French Revolution there seemed to be a very good prospect
of reforms in the English Constitution. The Catholics had made an actual
advance. The Dissenters had every reason to be hopeful. The Tory leader
himself had shown sympathy with free election and the enfranchisement of
the new industrial districts. But the fate of English liberties lay in the
hands of the French Government. If Turgot and the French reformers had had
their way, the Revolution might have been averted, or at least mitigated.
The triumph of the French privileged classes made reform impossible, and
made it certain that revolution would be violent and universal. In May,
1776, Louis XVI, impelled by faction and his bad wife, dismissed the one
statesman who could have made absolute monarchy tolerable to the French
people. By the end of 1793 he and the Queen had perished on the scaffold,
the nobility were dead or in exile, and a French Republic was proclaiming
with even greater emphasis than the American the doctrines of individuality
and natural right. The shock to established things was terrific. This was
not a matter of a handful of colonists in a remote part of the world. It
was a whole nation, and that {96} in the heart of Europe, which had not
only risen against monarchy but had destroyed it, and with it aristocracy
and the Church. Every institution upon which political society was based
had vanished in the flood, and the French people, not content with
establishing new principles at home, were calling upon the common people
abroad to do the like, and were announcing their intention of carrying help
wherever it was required. It is difficult to imagine in these days with
what feelings those who believed in class distinctions and privileges and
the aristocratic monopoly of government witnessed the triumph of an
assembly which issued this Declaration of Rights.

"I. Men are born, and always continue, free and equal in respect of their
rights. Civil distinctions, therefore, can be founded only on public

"II. The end of all political associations is the preservation of the
natural and imprescriptible rights of man; and these rights are liberty,
property, security, and resistance to oppression.

"III. The nation is essentially the source of all sovereignty; nor can any
individual or any body of men be entitled to any authority which is not
expressly derived from it."

The Declaration affords as ample material for criticism on logical and
historical grounds as the American Declaration of Independence. But its
plain meaning was the same: that the subordination of the individual to the
institution was at an end, and that everything in politics was to be tested
in future by its effect upon human beings, irrespective of their rank,
wealth, creed, or occupation, or sex. In a word, it was the source of
modern Liberalism.

In England the Revolution was at first regarded with general approbation,
or at least indifferent curiosity. To Whigs like Fox and Mackintosh, as
well as to Radicals like Price and Cartwright, it was a matter of
exultation to see the end of absolute monarchy in France. Even a Tory might
view with equanimity the summoning of a French Assembly which bore some
resemblance to the English. Even a lawyer might rejoice at the fall of the
Bastille, the symbol of arbitrary government, {97} and the negation of the
English rule of law. But as the Revolution swept beyond the constitutional
forms, when the mob broke loose in Paris, when the King's head was cut off,
when the heads of men and women who were noble in character as well as rank
were carried through the streets on pikes, when the property of the Church
was confiscated, and when members of the old nobility of the most splendid
nation in Europe exhibited their destitution in every town of England, the
bulk of the English people hurried into reaction. If anything beyond the
mere excesses of the Revolution was required to turn a timid friend into a
frantic enemy, it was the Assembly's proclamation of its intention to help
all other peoples to follow its example. There is no people which hates
political bloodshed more than the English. There is no people which more
stubbornly resents foreign interference in its domestic affairs. Both these
national characteristics were offended by the Revolution, and their offence
was the opportunity of Toryism. Burke's _Reflections on the Late Revolution
in France_ was published in 1791, and gave voice to the national dislike of
violent political changes. The book, with its deep reading of human nature,
its insistence on the continuity of national growth, and its contempt for
those who thought to alter a political society by reasoning in the
abstract, was the wisest book which the Revolution produced on either side.
But it was full of errors of fact, and it made no allowances for the
horrible suffering which the old system had imposed upon the common people
of France. If it expressed the opinions of a wise Conservatism, it was also
made the textbook of selfishness and monopoly. Every person who owned
property or privilege was roused by it into hatred of any change which
threatened to extend the political rights of the majority. The governing
class marshalled itself to defend its own. From the moment when Burke
published his book to the end of the first quarter of the nineteenth
century, hardly a single Liberal measure was passed into law. The fate of
the Dissenters has already been described. Parliamentary Reform fared no
better. In 1792, 1793, and 1795 Charles Grey, afterwards Earl Grey, brought
the subject {98} before the House of Commons. In 1782 Pitt had been beaten
by 161 votes to 141. In 1793 Grey was beaten by 282 to 41, and in 1793 by
258 to 63. The Dissenters were not admitted to public offices till 1828.
The Catholics had to wait till 1829. Parliament was not reformed till 1832.
Nor was the Tory spirit displayed simply in neglect. It was active and
vicious. During the long interval between the beginning of the Revolution
and the triumph of the Whigs in 1831, the Press was gagged, political
associations were broken up, combinations of workmen were prohibited, the
Habeas Corpus Act was suspended, public meetings were forbidden or
violently dispersed, and large numbers of worthy and respectable men were
transported or kept in prison, in many cases without trial. Free
institutions endured, but they ceased to operate. Liberty was kept, but in

The man who determined the course of this reaction was William Pitt, and
though much of its evil must be ascribed to the state of general opinion,
his personal responsibility was very great. He seems to have assumed that
failure would follow every attempt at change, and though he was in favour
of the Reform of Parliament, of Catholic Emancipation, of Free Trade, and
of the Abolition of the Slave Trade, and was not hostile to the removal of
the disabilities of Dissenters, he abated every one of his principles
without seriously attempting to put them into practice. He was one of the
greatest politicians and one of the worst statesmen England has ever had.
He managed Parliament with astonishing success, and hardly ever used it for
a good purpose. His failure to reform the House of Commons increased
discontent and made government more difficult. His failure to emancipate
the Catholics before the Union with Ireland was the final and decisive
cause of the Rebellion of 1798, and his failure to emancipate them after
the Union was the chief reason why that measure did nothing to improve the
condition of Ireland or its relations with England. His failure to abolish
the Slave Trade, when even Tories like Windham were against it, prolonged
for twenty years a system of human misery and {99} degradation such as had
never been known in any civilized part of the world. His system of finance
burdened the country with an unnecessary load of debt. His failure to
adjust the customs tariff to the new conditions of a population which was
no longer self-sufficing increased distress and discontent with it. His
chief enterprise, the war with France, was begun in folly and conducted
with incompetence, and it was not until after his death that it was
efficiently conducted to a successful issue. The one thing which he did was
to maintain a strong central government in the United Kingdom. But to this
maintenance of government he sacrificed almost everything for which
government exists. "The Pilot who weathered the storm" flung all the cargo
out of the ship, and steered her from the high seas into dangerous
shallows, from some of which she has not yet escaped.

       *       *       *       *       *




The Revolution affected English society in two directly opposite ways. It
is unquestionable that its violence drove the majority into hostility not
only to Revolution, but to Reform. But many men and women welcomed the
triumph of its principles with an enthusiasm which was almost as
extravagant as the opposition of the rest. Those who had preached equality
in the days of Wilkes and the American War were encouraged to greater zeal,
and the bigness of the new shock awakened interest in masses of people who
had previously been apathetic. The Industrial Revolution had by this time
produced much of the social alteration of which some account has already
been given, and the artisans of the North offered a fertile soil for
doctrines which had previously fallen on barren ground. Political
speculation now for the first time attracted the serious attention of the
governing class. The new thinkers themselves belonged to all ranks, though
very few of them were to be found among the aristocracy. They all preached,
with more or less ardour, and with a more or less crude application of
logic to political conditions, the doctrine that every man had an equal
moral right with every other to control his own life. For practical
purposes the speculation of these primitive Liberals did not extend beyond
male limits. But some, of whom Mary Wollstonecraft was the most
conspicuous,[100] even made the same claim for every woman. When only one
woman in ten thousand had any substantial intellectual training, it was
natural enough that men should give little {101} thought to their political
rights. Until women were sufficiently educated to ask for equality in the
State, it was impossible that men should think seriously of granting it.
But the French Revolution, though its direct effect on the political
condition of women was insignificant, started, in their case as in that of
men, a train of events which has borne fruit in more modern times. The
emancipation of women from the control of men, which is the most profound
of all the social changes of the last fifty years, has been produced by
precisely the same changes in social ideas as those which have abolished
the political distinctions among sects and classes of men. It is only
another part of the process of the emancipation of the individual which is
called Liberalism.

The most obvious feature of this early Liberal movement is its neglect of
economic questions, and its concentration upon the mere machinery of
government. The science of political economy was indeed only in its
infancy, and Adam Smith's _Wealth of Nations_, published in 1776, had
little effect upon practical politicians of any school until the beginning
of the nineteenth century. Political argument was therefore conducted in
these early stages very largely upon a theoretical basis, and Tories,
Whigs, and Radicals contended as mightily about the abstractions of natural
rights and sovereignty as the early Churches about the difference between
Homoousion and Homoiousion. Almost the only practical grievances alleged
against the old system were expensive wars and the maintenance of
sinecures. The early Reformers, though the doctrine of _laissez faire_ was
not formulated until half a century later, in fact believed it. They were
in economics what the Whigs were in politics. They hated the interference
of the executive, and they would probably have looked upon attempts to
alter economic conditions as meddling, which would restrict the liberty of
the citizen and increase the already dangerous influence of the Crown.

This indifference, or rather hostility, to economic reforms was shared by
all parties alike. Practically everybody agreed that it was a bad thing for
Government to interfere with trade, though few went so far as to condemn
the system of Protection. {102} Arthur Young disliked Government
interference as an economist. "All restrictive forcible measures in
domestic policy are bad."[101] Burke declared that his opinion was against
"an overdoing of any sort of administration, and more especially against
this most momentous of all meddling on the part of authority, the meddling
with the subsistence of the people."[102] Adam Smith, in his _Wealth of
Nations_ said that "According to the system of natural liberty, the
sovereign has only three duties to attend to ... I. The duty of protecting
the society from the violence and invasion of other independent societies;
II. The duty of protecting, as far as possible, every member of the society
from the injustice or oppression of every other member of it, or the duty
of establishing an exact administration of justice; and III. The duty of
erecting and maintaining certain public works and certain public
institutions, which it can never be for the interest of any individual, or
small number of individuals, to erect and maintain, because the profit
could never repay the expense to any individual or small number of
individuals, though it may frequently do much more than repay it to a great
society."[103] This was the general opinion of the manufacturers, and in
1806 it was embodied in a Parliamentary Report on industrial conditions:
"The right of every man to employ the capital he inherits or has acquired
according to his own discretion without molestation or obstruction, so long
as he does not infringe on the rights or property of others, is one of
those privileges which the free and happy constitution of this country has
long accustomed every Briton to consider as his birthright."[104] The
aristocracy and the commercial classes alike distrusted an interference
which restricted their personal freedom.

The Radicals, who professed to be, and were much more alive to the
distresses of the labourers and artisans, were hardly less emphatic. "All
government," said Dr. Price, "even within a State, becomes tyrannical as
far as it is a needless and wanton exercise of power, or is carried farther
than is absolutely necessary to preserve the peace or to secure the safety
of the State. This {103} is what an excellent writer calls 'governing too
much.'"[105] "Government," said Godwin, "can have no more than two
legitimate purposes, the suppression of injustice against individuals
within the community and defence against external invasion."[106] Most of
the Radicals were in fact of the middle class, and few of them saw things
from the workman's point of view. However far they went, they were careful
to maintain the rights of property. "The phrase 'domineering rich' is
exceptionable," said Major Cartwright, "as it may, by cavillers, be
construed into an attempt to excite the poor to invade the property of the
rich. It is not by an invasion of such property that the condition of the
poor is to be amended, but by such equal laws as would have a natural
tendency to prevent injustice, and to benefit every class of the
community."[107] A free Parliament would allow every man an equal chance of
obtaining wealth. Neither Cartwright nor any of his associates seems to
have considered that, while wealth was accumulated in the hands of a small
class, equality, even of opportunity, was impossible without some measure
of State interference. What was needed by the working class was the removal
of taxes upon food and raw materials, a helpful instead of a degrading Poor
Law, the right to combine against their employers, and factory legislation.
But the speculators were more concerned to reduce the interference of
aristocratic government with the liberty of the middle class than to
increase the interference of any sort of government with the working class,
and they failed to see that the workmen's grievances were not the same as
their own. A man who was wellnigh pressed to death with heavy weights was
to be relieved by an improvement in the ventilation of the torture-chamber.

The Radicals[108] thus, in common with the Tories and the Whigs, ignored
economic problems, or assumed that they were {104} incapable of solving
them by political action. But their opinions, so far as they went, were
Liberal opinions. They made the individual the unit of political society,
and denounced all artificial barriers between ranks and classes. In his
younger days Cartwright held principles which led directly to
Republicanism. In his pamphlet _Take Your Choice_, which was published in
1776, at the height of the American dispute, he said: "How much soever any
individual may be qualified for, or deserve any elevation, he hath no right
to it till it be conferred upon him by his fellows.... It is liberty, and
not dominion, which is held by divine right."[109] The suffrage must be
extended to all adult men. "Personality is the sole foundation of the right
of being represented; ... property has, in reality, nothing to do in the
case.... It is a very fit object of the attention of his representative in
Parliament, but it contributes nothing to his right of having that
representation."[110] "We might as well make the possession of forty
shillings per annum the proof of a man's being rational, as of his being

But Cartwright, though a perfect specimen of the logical politician, and
reasoning on principles as purely Republican as those of Paine himself, was
a member of the middle class, and enjoyed, during a great part of his life,
a substantial income. He openly opposed the followers of Paine, and at a
meeting of the Society of the Friends of the People, which he helped to
found in 1792, he carried a resolution in favour of King, Lords, and
Commons.[112] This Society contained not only Radicals like Cartwright, but
Whig Reformers like Grey and the Duke of Bedford. Eventually, the logicians
were squeezed out, and the Society became a Whig organization, the least
vigorous of all those which worked for reform outside of Parliament. The
best of its members were practical politicians, who concentrated on active
and notorious abuses like rotten boroughs and the disfranchisement of large
towns.[113] Grey worked in {105} Parliament very steadily, and other
representatives of the Society spoke manfully on occasion in both Houses.
But as a whole it seems to have done little to arouse the feeling of the
country, and it was as vigorous in its condemnation of its more active
associates as in its attack upon the common enemy. Its principles were
essentially Whig, and not Liberal. "We profess," wrote Lord John Russell,
the chairman of the London Society in 1794, "not to entertain a wish 'that
the great plan of public benefit which Mr. Paine has so powerfully
recommended will speedily be carried into effect,' nor to amuse our
fellow-citizens with the magnificent promise of obtaining for them 'the
rights of the people in their full extent'--the indefinite language of
delusion."[114] So even Fox, though he said that "government originated not
only for, but from the people," and "the people were the legitimate
sovereign in every community," yet declared himself "a steady and decided
enemy to general and universal representation."[115] Sir Francis Burdett
and one or two other Members of Parliament took the purely Radical view.
But so late as 1818, when, after nearly twenty years of heated agitation,
Burdett moved resolutions in favour of manhood suffrage, annual
Parliaments, and equal electoral districts, Brougham said on behalf of the
official Whig Opposition: "As for universal suffrage, or the doctrine which
severed the elective franchise altogether from property, he begged leave to
observe that he never had at any time held it as less than the utter
destruction of the Constitution."[116] The Whig Reformers were thus
distinguished from the Radicals, and as they spoke contemptuously of the
extremists, so they were in their turn attacked as lukewarm and
time-serving. Even Fox himself did not escape censure, though he was always
careful to abstain from recrimination.[117] The real value of the Whigs was
that they opposed themselves steadily to all attempts to suspend the
ordinary law, to stifle public discussion, and to {106} govern the country
by the arbitrary power of the executive. In this cause Bedford and Grey and
Fox were heartily at one, and the various Bills for suspending the Habeas
Corpus Act, suppressing or restricting public meetings, and dissolving
political associations were always opposed by a compact body of members of
both Houses.[118] The few Whigs, who kept their heads in the face of
Revolutionary France, aimed at the old Whig objects, the supremacy of
Parliament over the executive, and the maintenance of the rule of ordinary

When the Society of the Friends of the People had fallen into the hands of
the Whigs, Cartwright and Radicals like the Duke of Richmond, Dr. Price,
and Horne Tooke found a new outlet for their logical energies in the
Society for Constitutional Information, which had been founded in 1780. The
members of this Society were infinitely less experienced in practical
affairs than men like Grey, and some of their publications show a most
pedantic and ludicrous precision of reasoning from abstract principles.
Like all abstract politicians, they despised those who were content to
advance in opinion by easy stages. "How," asked Cartwright, "shall we speak
of the imbecile efforts of our professors of moderate reform--so much in
the nature of moderate honesty!--politicians whose abortive conceptions and
Sisyphean labours never can command the respect of Parliament, Prince, or
People? Can nothing cure these step-by-step Reformists of their
insanity?"[119] Their own doctrine was compressed on one occasion into the
following remarkable resolutions:

"1. Representation--'the happiest discovery of human wisdom'--is the vital
principle of the English Constitution, inasmuch as it is that alone which,
in a State too extensive for personal legislation, constitutes Political

"2. Political Liberty being a common right, Representation co-extensive
with direct Taxation ought, with all practicable equality, to be fairly and
honestly distributed throughout the community; the facility of which cannot
be denied.


"3. The constitutional duration of a Parliament cannot exceed one year."

The question of the ballot was on this occasion left open, and a prize,
consisting of the thanks of the Society, was offered for the best essay on
its advantages. The justification of the third proposition is a comical
instance of the way in which these theorizing politicians were carried away
from practical affairs.

"The truth of the third proposition in the Constitution or this Union is
made evident by the following, among other considerations:

"1. An Englishman, at twenty-one years of age, enters on his inheritance,
whatever it may be. 2. A greater inheritance descends to every one of us
from Right and the Laws than from our Parents; on which maxim Sir Edward
Coke (in his second Institute) remarks, 'Right is the best birthright the
subject hath; for thereby his goods, land, wife, children, his body, life,
honour, and estimation are protected from wrong.' 3. To no other 'Right'
than that of a People either personally or representatively making their
own Laws, whereby they may be 'protected from Wrong,' can this remark of
Sir Edward Coke possibly apply. 4. When Election is withholden for seven
years, then all who came of age since the preceding election are kept out
of their Inheritance and best Birthright. 5. Even supposing the
Representation of our Country were in other respects quite perfect, yet
septennial Parliaments would still deprive the whole Nation of its
political Liberty for six parts in seven of human life; and triennial
Parliaments must have a like effect for two years in every three; whence it
follows, that Parliaments of any duration exceeding One Year instead of a
protection from, would be an infliction of 'wrong'; contrary to the
Constitution, against Right, and destruction of Liberty."

This pedantry would destroy itself: by the application of the same
principles it could be proved that a General Election was necessary once a
month, or once a week, or once a day. But the real objection is that which
these _a priori_ Reformers constantly overlooked, the fact that a
Constitution is after all only {108} a machine contrived for certain
practical ends of government, that it must be arranged upon a basis of
convenience, and that infinitely greater hardship could be inflicted upon
the country by interrupting trade for one month in every twelve and
spending a million pounds in unproductive ways, than by forcing a small
portion of the population to abstain from voting even until it was as much
as twenty-eight years old.

These doctrines being based upon pure logic, and not upon practical
convenience, were naturally made applicable to all peoples without
distinction. "All being pure and genuine," said Cartwright, "the result
will be, a strict unity of form universally applicable; and exhibiting its
subject, political liberty, as evidently a common right and inheritance of
every people or nation; for to talk of English liberty, and French or
Spanish or Italian liberty, as different in nature is contrary to
reason."[120] It is easy to understand why men like Fox and Grey,
accustomed to grapple with the affairs of men who were swayed by prejudice,
tradition, interest, by everything but reason, were contemptuous of
political theories of this sort. No one who has been engaged in active
politics can fail to understand that men are infinitely variable, and that
what suits one race will not suit another. There was really only one
problem to consider. Given a society with a known history, composed of
human beings of a known character, and distributed among known conditions,
what form of government was best suited to their case? Origin, character,
social and economic distribution, and past history, are all different in
different peoples, and political institutions will inevitably differ also.
The Radicals were far enough away from real life. But with all their
incapacity for politics, they performed the great service of preaching the
political importance of individuality.

More influential than they were Tom Paine and his followers. These had
fewer men of experience in their ranks, they had less respect for existing
institutions, and they were as bitterly contemptuous of pioneers like
Cartwright as the pioneers in their turn were contemptuous of the Whigs in
Parliament. {109} Cartwright clung to King, Lords, and Commons, the
Established Church, and administration by men of property and rank. Paine
was a Republican, a theist, and a social reformer. The one had influence
among the aristocracy, the gentry, the manufacturers, and the
forty-shilling freeholders. The other was popular with the artisans and
tradesmen. But in general habit of mind the two men were very similar. The
differences were differences of class. Both belonged to the same species.
They were equally destitute of the historic sense, and equally incapable of
understanding that institutions must grow and change with society, and
cannot be praised or condemned according as, at any particular moment, they
do or do not correspond with the needs of the people who work them. Both
pushed theory to logical conclusions, irrespective of the course of events
in the past or the practical difficulties of the present. Of the two, Paine
had more political capacity. He had more genuine understanding of the
character of his audience, and his influence was infinitely more widespread
than that of any of the older men. Burke's _French Revolution_ drew a
volley of books and pamphlets from his opponents. The _Vindiciæ Gallicæ_ of
Sir James Mackintosh was the best of these. But Mackintosh, no less that
Dr. Price, Mrs. Macaulay, and Mary Wollstonecraft, was outwritten and
outsold by Paine. Of the _French Revolution_ 19,000 copies were sold in
twelve months. In the same period Paine sold more than 40,000 copies of the
First Part of the _Rights of Man_.[121]

This famous book is marked by many of the vices of extreme opinions. Its
reading of events in France, in some of which Paine had taken part, was far
more accurate than that of Burke's treatise. Paine avoided the mistake of
taking the Revolution to be a mere outbreak of capricious violence, and
gave due weight to the intellectual revolution which had preceded it, and
to the economic distress which aggravated it. But though he knew France
better than Burke, he had not Burke's grasp of the idea of growth, of the
necessity of development rather than of reconstruction in politics, and he
could not understand that an institution, which {110} was now useless or
detrimental, might, in an older system, have been necessary to the
existence of society. Such phrases as Burke's "chain and continuity of the
commonwealth" had no meaning for him. Everything was to be cut off and
begun afresh. "Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself
in all cases as the ages and generations which preceded it."[122] "When we
survey the wretched condition of man, and the monarchical and hereditary
systems of government, dragged from his home by one power, or driven by
another, and impoverished by taxes more than by enemies, it becomes evident
that those systems are bad, and that a general revolution in the principle
and construction of governments is necessary."[123] Paine is here not
unlike the surgeon in Mr. Shaw's play, for ever eager to plunge his knife
into the vitals of the patient, without knowing either the history of the
disease or the chances of its cure. How much wiser is Burke's "I cannot
conceive how any man can have brought himself to that pitch of presumption,
to consider his country as nothing but carte blanche, upon which he may
scribble whatever he pleases. A man full of warm, speculative benevolence
may wish his society otherwise constituted than he finds it, but a good
patriot and a true politician always considers how he shall make the most
of the existing materials of his country. A disposition to preserve, and an
ability to improve, taken together, would be my standard of a statesman."
Paine's prophecies were as extravagant as his reading of history was
inaccurate. "I do not believe," he said, "that monarchy and aristocracy
will continue seven years longer in any of the enlightened countries in
Europe."[124] After one hundred and twenty years Portugal alone has
attempted to follow the example of France, and it was eighty years before
even France expelled its last despot.

The truth lay midway between the two extremes. Burke was right in theory
and wrong in facts. Paine was right in facts and wrong in theory. Paine was
deceived by the events of his own time. He had personally assisted at the
making of two new {111} constitutions, and he exaggerated the ease with
which others might be made like them. This violent plucking out of ancient
loyalties seemed normal, when in fact it was altogether abnormal. In
America, separated from the old world and its old habits, the process had
been comparatively easy. In France, as subsequent events proved, it was of
enormous difficulty. Men who habitually build their houses on the sites of
abated earthquakes are not in a day to be twisted out of their habit of
submitting to illogical things like kings and nobles and Churches. Nor is
it often servility or credulity which produces that submission. In the vast
majority of cases it is only that they accept that to which they have been
accustomed, and require some outrageous provocation to make them change.
This was incredible to Paine. What was unreasonable was fraudulent, and
what was fraudulent to-day had always been fraudulent. "It is impossible
that such Governments as have hitherto existed in the world would have
commenced by any other means than a total violation of every principle,
sacred and moral. The obscurity in which the origin of all the present
Governments is buried implies the iniquity and disgrace with which they
began."[125] The obscurity seems a little less dense to us, and the King
and the Church appear as necessary in their proper order to the
consolidation of society and its advance out of barbarism. To Paine the
early king was only the head of a band of robbers, and the early Church was
contrived only to maintain him in power by investing him with superstitious
terrors. He assailed monarchy and aristocracy with a variety of scornful
epithets: "Nobility means No-ability." "Titles are but nicknames." "France
has outgrown the baby-cloaths of Count and Duke, and has breeched itself in
manhood." "The difference between a republican and a courtier with a
respect to monarchy is that the one opposes monarchy, believing it to be
something, and the other laughs at it, knowing it to be nothing." "As to
who is king in England or elsewhere, or whether there is any king at all,
or whether the people choose a Cherokee chief, or a Hessian hussar, for a
king, it is not a matter {112} that I trouble myself about." "The House of
Brunswick, one of the petty tribes of Germany." "The splendour of a throne
... is made up of a band of parasites living in luxurious indolence out of
the public taxes." "Monarchy is the master-fraud, which shelters all
others." A torrent of these gibes and sneers at things which to the
ordinary man and woman of comfortable surroundings were hardly less than
sacred, roused against Paine all that horror and aversion which in our own
day has been inspired by Mr. Lloyd George.

But the most disturbing part of Paine's book was not its epithets, but its
doctrine. Before him Radicals had argued more or less directly from the
assumption of natural rights that every man is invested at his birth with
rights against his neighbours, and that political constitutions must be
based upon these rights. The theory of natural rights came from Rousseau,
and the French Revolution claimed to be a practical consequence of it.
Paine brought it over from France in its crude simplicity, and preached it
more forcibly and more effectively than it had ever been preached before.
It was based on a false historical assumption. Every account of the
creation agreed that men are all born equal, of the same degree, and
endowed with equal natural rights. These, natural rights were the
foundation of all his civil rights. "Natural rights are those which
appertain to man in right of his existence. Of this kind are all the
intellectual rights, or rights of the mind, and also all those rights of
acting as an individual for his own comfort and happiness, which are not
injurious to the natural rights of others. Civil rights are those which
appertain to man in right of his being a member of society. Every civil
right has for its foundation some natural right fore-existing in the
individual, but to the enjoyment of which his individual power is not, in
all cases, sufficiently competent. Of this kind are all those which relate
to security and protection." The basis of liberty is contained in the first
three articles of the Declaration of Rights of the French National
Assembly, the whole of which Paine quotes in full and declares to be "of
more value to the world than all the laws and statutes that have yet {113}
been promulgated." The first of these articles, if true, destroys every one
of the distinctions of class and creed which were dear to
eighteenth-century England. "Men are born, and always continue, free and
equal in respect of their rights. Civil distinctions, therefore, can be
founded only on public utility." It followed from this premise that no one
class had any right to impose laws upon the rest of the community without
their consent. The nation must be the source of sovereignty, and no
individual or body of men could be entitled to any authority which was not
expressly derived from it. Monarchy, aristocracy, the Established Church,
the territorial system, and primogeniture, everything which gave artificial
advantages to one man over his neighbour, must be swept away. Given the
first assumption that all men are born equal, the rest follows as a matter
of course.

It is as easy to refute the doctrine as to state it. It is not historically
true that men are or ever have been born equal. It is not logically true
that a man is born with any rights or can ever acquire any except with the
consent of his associates. The historical basis must appear absurd to any
one who is acquainted with the theory of evolution and the early history of
family and tribal organization. The logical basis must appear equally
absurd to any one who is acquainted with the nature of a right. It is
impossible to conceive of such a thing as an abstract right apart from
definite human relationships. A right cannot exist in the air. It cannot
even attach to an isolated individual. A right is always a right against
some other, and postulates the association of its possessor with at least
one other human being. How can we with any propriety speak of the rights of
Robinson Crusoe before the arrival of Friday? The powers of Crusoe were at
first limited solely by physical considerations. When he took Friday under
his protection he acquired certain rights as against Friday, and at the
same time Friday acquired certain rights as against him. But this is only
to say that the natural power of each to do as he pleased, hitherto limited
only by natural forces, was thereafter limited also by certain rules of
conduct, recognized by both for observance so long as their {114} mutual
relations continued. The extent of those limits could only be defined by
their agreement. These are all the rights which any man can ever possess,
even in the most complex society. A right is nothing more or less than a
defined natural power. It may vary in the degree of its definition. It may
be enforced by all the authority of the whole community, and be called a
legal right. It may be enforced only by the pressure of the opinion of the
community or of a class, and be called a moral right. In neither case is it
a thing of spontaneous generation. It arises always out of the relations of
human beings with each other, and may always be tempered and qualified by
the nature of their relations.

Paine's mistake lay simply in using the word "natural" instead of the word
"moral." To assert that a man has a natural right to control his own
government is to assert what is demonstrably false. To assert that a man
has a moral right to control his own government is to assert simply that in
the writer's opinion a man ought to be allowed to control his own
government, and the dispute is simply about a particular problem of ethics.
Substitute the one word for the other in the passage above quoted, and what
is now a false statement of fact becomes a reasonable, if not an
unanswerable, argument. The quarrel between Paine and Burke, so far as it
was a practical quarrel and not merely a quarrel about terms, was a quarrel
about the precise manner in which certain common ethical principles should
be enforced. Government is merely the organization of human beings for
certain common purposes, and the structure is to be adapted solely to the
execution of those purposes. If a particular scheme means the abuse of one
section of the community by another, one of the ends of government, the
protection of all the human beings concerned, is not achieved, and the
scheme, if possible, should be altered. Once we come to the conclusion,
upon ethical principles, that every human being ought to have an equal
chance with every other of developing himself, it follows, not as a logical
deduction, but simply as a matter of practical convenience, that one class
ought not to be entrusted with the control of {115} others. A constitution
in itself has no merit. Its only value is as a piece of working machinery,
and it is to be tested not by the degree of its conformity to abstract
principles, but by its practical effects.

Burke himself, in fact, destroyed his whole argument against "natural
rights," not as a proposition of logic, but as a basis of political action.
He admitted that men had certain "real" rights: "to justice," "to the
fruits of their industry and to the means of making their industry
fruitful," "to the acquisitions of their parents, to the nourishment and
improvement of their offspring, to instruction in life, and to consolation
in death." But what is the difference between these "real" rights of Burke
and the "natural" rights of Paine? How are these rights created and
maintained, but by public opinion and current ideas of morality? And if
these, why not others? "It is a thing," said Burke, "to be settled by
convention." Tom Paine meant nothing else. But when Burke said, "As to the
share of power, authority, and direction which each individual ought to
have in the management of the State, that I must deny to be amongst the
direct, original rights of man in civil society," Paine might have asked in
what respect rights to justice and to the fruits of industry differed from
rights to control government. If the rules of justice are defined by
Government so that it becomes difficult, tedious, and expensive, how is the
poor man to exercise his right to justice? If Government taxes the raw
material of his industry, is not his right to the fruits of it being
impaired? In his _Present Discontents_ Burke had described clearly enough
the consequences of absolute power, the corruption of the governor and the
oppression of the governed. If government remains in the hands of a class,
it will inevitably be conducted in the interests of that class, and the
rules of justice and the regulation of industry will be contrived according
to its interests and not according to those of the general community. In
other words, the rights of the rest of society, however real, direct, and
original, are always liable to be diminished or destroyed by the caprice of
their governors. {116} Burke's admissions lead as inevitably to universal
suffrage as the false assumptions of Paine.

It must not be assumed that Paine was a mere theorizer. So far as the
interests of the mass of the people were concerned, he was the most
practical of reformers. Tories and reactionary Whigs appealed to "the
glorious Revolution of 1688."[126] Cartwright and the Radicals deduced
liberty from abstract hypotheses without considering to what practical uses
liberty was to be put. Paine came boldly forward with definite proposals
for social reforms, and it was this practical application of his principles
which made him to be detested where Cartwright was only despised. It was
bad enough to assail aristocracy. Words could hardly express the feelings
with which comfortable people listened to his attacks upon property. These
would seem moderate to a generation which has grown accustomed to
Socialism, as a creed if not as an institution, and his proposals were
little more drastic than those of the present Liberal Government. He
advocated graduated death duties, old-age pensions, maternity grants, the
right to work, and international agreement for the limitation of
armaments.[127] It is true that the language of his proposals was anything
but reckless. He was far from being an advocate of violent methods. "It is
always better to obey a bad law, making use at the same time of every
argument to show its errors and procure its repeal, than forcibly to
violate it; because the precedent of breaking a bad law might weaken the
force, and lead to a discretionary violation of those which are good."[128]
"The right of property being secured and inviolable, no one ought to be
deprived of it, except in cases of evident public necessity, legally
ascertained, and on condition of a previous just indemnity."[129] This is
the language of temperance. But the owners of property have little capacity
for reflection when their interests are attacked. They are seldom concerned
to examine the justice {117} of any infringement of their privileges, and
they find it difficult to distinguish between taxation and spoliation,
between appeals to natural justice and the negation of law. Paine's
adversaries did not believe in natural rights. But they believed in what
were far worse. They believed in natural wrongs. It was monstrous to
suggest that all men were entitled to equal opportunities. But it was quite
reasonable that the vast majority should be kept in a situation where they
could not be confident even of a bare subsistence. The good cause, if not
the logical reasoning, was Paine's. The right to property is, like all his
"natural" rights, or the "real" rights of Burke, a moral right, and its
extent is to be determined upon the same principles as every other. Violent
disturbances of it are bad, as violent disturbances of every right are bad,
not because they are disturbances, but because they are violent. There is
nothing more essentially vicious in a criticism of property in land or
machinery than in a criticism of property in a negro. As Burke said, "It is
a thing to be settled by convention."

Paine's suggestions for social reform were of little immediate importance,
and it was a hundred years before the first of them, a graduated death
duty, was passed into law. His value in his own day lay, not in his
practical proposals, but in his insistence upon the equal value of
individuals in the State. What the Whigs had practised partially and
obscurely Paine preached universally and with precision. His _Rights of
Man_ was the principal textbook of the new school of politicians, who, by
basing their politics upon individuality instead of class, eventually
transformed the English theory of government. The Reformers found
government the profession of a few families of landed proprietors, at the
best prevented from active abuse by an imperfect system of representation
of classes. They made it a thing of trust and responsibility, for which
every man must prove his competence by his readiness to act directly for
the benefit of those whom he governed. They found it an incident in the
lives of men of leisure. They made it an expression of the life of men of
all ranks alike. Omitting the false historical {118} assumption, there is
nothing substantially untrue in Paine's contrast of the old spirit with the
new. "Government on the old system was an assumption of power, for the
aggrandizement of itself; on the new, a delegation of power for the common
benefit of society."[130]

These new principles did not appear on the surface of politics until forty
years later, and not a single institution was in the interval altered in
the direction of Liberalism. The Whig Opposition broke into pieces, and the
majority joined the Tories.[131] The Church of England found itself for
once allied with the Wesleyans, whose Christianity was as much repelled by
Paine's _Age of Reason_ as its own aristocratic temper was repelled by his
_Rights of Man_. The governing class was driven into a paroxysm of fear and
rage by Paine's triple assault on aristocracy, property, and orthodox
religion, and every Conservative instinct was roused in its defence. Every
Reformer, moderate and extreme, was involved together in one denunciation.
Their opinions admittedly came from France, and every atrocity which had
taken place in France was due to those opinions. Voltaire was an atheist.
Rousseau was a profligate. The French aristocracy had been massacred. The
French Church had been stripped of its possessions. The French landed
proprietors had been spoiled. All this had been done in the name of the
rights of man. The English Reformers believed in the rights of man. These
had been proved by events in France to be incompatible with law, order,
religion, and morality. All who valued these must unite in their defence
against the deadly opinions. Belief in the rights of man marked an
Englishman like a contagious disease. Atheists, Theists, and Christians,
Trinitarians and Unitarians, Churchmen and Dissenters, Reformers, Radicals,
and Republicans, landowners, manufacturers, and artisans, people who
believed in vested interests and people who did not, all were Jacobins, and
all were swept away in one turbid flood of unreasoning invective.


Every proposal for change was opposed by the same arguments. Every
institution, good, bad, or indifferent, became a foothold for shuddering
Conservatism. Alteration became synonymous with evil; there was no good
save in establishment. Even the Slave Trade was strengthened against pious
Tory gentlemen like Wilberforce by the same arguments which defended the
representative system against the profane Republican artisans of
Lancashire. Thus Lord Abingdon claimed to have "incontrovertibly proved
that the proposition for the abolition of the Slave Trade is a French
proposition, that it is grounded in and founded upon French principles,
that it means neither more nor less than liberty and equality, that it has
Tom Paine's _Rights of Man_ for its chief and best support ... that it has
had in the colonies of France all the direful effects necessarily flowing
from such principles, namely, those of insubordination, anarchy, confusion,
murder, havock, devastation, and ruin."[132] Nearly thirty years after the
publication of Paine's book, Lord Wellesley, denouncing universal suffrage,
annual elections, and voting by ballot, said that, if carried into
execution, they "would be the destruction of all regular government, the
destruction of all religion, and the destruction of all private
property."[133] But the most ludicrous expression of this fear of change
occurs in one of Windham's speeches against the Bill to suppress
bull-baiting. The House of Commons solemnly listened to a solemn assurance
that the Bill was promoted by Methodists and Jacobins, and that it was
directed to the destruction of the old English character by the abolition
of all rural sports. "Out of the whole number of the disaffected, he
questioned if a single bull-baiter could be found, or if a single sportsman
had distinguished himself in the Corresponding Society ... the antiquity of
the thing was deserving of respect, for antiquity was the best preservation
of the Church and State."[134]

The controversy was not allowed to remain a mere matter {120} of words.
Both sides set themselves to organize machinery for the dissemination of
their opinions. The Radicals used the Society for Constitutional
Information. The extremists established the Corresponding Society, whose
branches, composed chiefly of the middle and working classes, corresponded
with similar societies in France, held meetings and published their
resolutions in the newspapers, and industriously circulated copies of the
_Rights of Man_. So vigorous were their operations that a Royal
Proclamation was issued in May, 1792, denouncing these "wicked and
seditious writings" and correspondence with "persons in foreign parts," and
exhorting all subjects of the Crown to discourage them.[135] In November
the Tories formed an Association for Preserving Liberty and Property
against Republicans and Levellers, which declared that "It appears from
history and observation, that the inequality of rank and fortune in this
happy country is more the result of every man's own exertions than of any
controlling institution of the State. Men become great who have greatly
distinguished themselves by the application of talents natural or acquired;
and men become rich who have persevered with industry in the application to
trade and commerce, to manufactures, and other useful employments."[136]
Such language was hardy enough in a society where public dignities were
monopolized by a few families, whose inherited wealth was augmented as
often by jobbery as by industry. The Association seems to have acted as a
private detective agency and sent reports and secret information to the
Government. But the honours of agitation rested, as usual, with the
reforming party. If their success was small, it was due less to the private
efforts of their opponents than to the superior resources of the Government


It is difficult to discover how widely the new ideas had spread by the end
of the century. The war with France, which lasted almost continuously from
1793 to 1815, probably drew off much of the national enthusiasm. A foreign
war is always favourable to the enemies of domestic liberty, and however
much their distresses may drive common men to hate their governors, they
generally hate them less than the national enemy. Industrious as they were,
the agitators were too closely identified with France to be popular, and it
was not till the end of the war that the middle and working classes as a
whole began to lend them a favourable ear. In the meantime, they were
regarded by the Government as infinitely more powerful than they really
were, and for thirty years they worked in constant danger of imprisonment
or transportation. They had been depressed, in common with Whigs like Fox
and Grey, by the ferocity of the French mobs. But the invasion of France by
the Duke of Brunswick and the complete victory of the new national
Government, restored their confidence at the same time as it reawakened the
terrors of the Tories. The most trifling expressions of sympathy with the
French people or their principles exposed them to spies and informers and
zealous loyalists.[137] On the 8th May James Ridgway and H. D. Symonds were
sentenced to four years' imprisonment for publishing Paine's works. On the
27th, for saying in a coffee-house, "I am for equality; I see no reason why
one man should be greater than another; I would have no king, and the
constitution of this country is a bad one," Mr. Frost was struck oft the
roll of attorneys and sentenced to an hour in the pillory and six months in
Newgate. On the 1st October Mr. Pigott and Dr. Hudson were tried for
drinking "The French Republic" in a coffee-house. At Leicester a man called
Vaughan distributed a handbill criticizing the war because it inflicted
hardship on the poor. He was sent to prison for three months. Benjamin
{122} Bull distributed the _Rights of Man_ at Bath, and was imprisoned for
a year.[138] Paine himself was tried for seditious libel in 1792, and in
his absence was outlawed. But the most ferocious punishments were inflicted
in Scotland. In England, short of high treason, there was no legal offence
possible except sedition or seditious libel, for which the punishment was a
term of imprisonment. In Scotland the offenders might be transported. In
September, 1793, the Rev. Thomas Fysche Palmer, Unitarian minister at
Dundee, for publishing an address couched in very temperate language, from
which it was proved that he had struck out some more extravagant
expressions, was sentenced to seven years' transportation. The Whigs in
Parliament protested against this monstrous sentence. But the House, by a
large majority, refused even to compel the Home Secretary to detain the
convict ship pending its revision.[139] In the same year Thomas Muir, a
gentleman of acknowledged respectability, was sentenced to fourteen years'
transportation for an offence of as trivial a kind as that of Mr.
Palmer.[140] Other Reformers, chiefly members of Corresponding Societies,
met at Edinburgh in December, 1792, in what they rashly called a "National
Convention." This consisted of delegates from Societies all over the
kingdom. It passed resolutions, appointed committees, and acted as a
permanent body of political delegates is accustomed to act, in order to
further the cause of Parliamentary Reform. There was nothing violent in the
objects, the proceedings, or the language of the Convention, which passed a
resolution in favour of government by King, Lords, and Commons without a
single dissentient voice.[141] But the French Revolution had begun by the
meeting of a "Convention," and the delegates, in addition to selecting that
unfortunate title, presented an address to the French National Convention,
and habitually addressed each other, in imitation of the French, as
"citizens." This was {123} enough for the Government. A representative
body, with a French title, in communication with the French Government, and
using French forms of speech, must meditate that sort of revolution which
had been contrived by the French people. It fell upon the delegates with
all the ferocity of despotism in a panic. William Skirving, Maurice
Margarot, and Joseph Gerald were transported for fourteen years, and
Alexander Callender was outlawed. English juries were less frantic than
Scottish. The members of the London Corresponding Society had done similar
acts in England. But in 1794, when several of them, including Horne Tooke,
were tried for high treason, all were acquitted.

The precise details of all these proceedings, and the widespread suffering
which they caused, are not important for this book. It is enough to state
here that there was much expression of discontent, and that the Government
dealt with it in the worst possible way. The wise course was to detach the
respectable agitators from the agitators who were not respectable by
substantial improvements in the franchise and the distribution of seats.
But the Government were incapable of drawing distinctions, and, by
confounding all sorts of discontent in their repression, alienated and
embittered even those whom they had it in their power to conciliate.
Evidence of any general conspiracy to alter the existing order by violent
means there is none. Nothing was ever published on behalf of the Government
itself which proved anything but constitutional and orderly expressions of
dissatisfaction, with occasional outbreaks of reckless language and
exceedingly rare instances of such acts as the purchase or manufacture of
weapons.[142] There were no collections of arms, no riots, except such as
were purely industrial, and no demonstrations of force. Not a single life
was ever taken or attempted by the Reformers, and the only dangerous
political disturbance of the {124} period was the outbreak of the Tory mob,
who looted and burnt the houses of Dissenters and Radicals at Birmingham.
But the governing class was afraid, and in its fear it struck out blindly
at everything which it disliked.

The Habeas Corpus Act was suspended in 1791, and the executive received
power to arrest and detain suspects without trial. At a later date,
extraordinary powers were created. A meeting held near London in October,
1795, was followed by an attempt to assassinate the King. The meeting was
orderly, and there was not a shadow of proof that there was any connection
between the two events. But the Government took advantage of the prevailing
indignation to create new crimes, and to increase the punishments for
existing crimes. The Treason Act made it an offence, punishable on a second
conviction with seven years' transportation, to "incite or stir up the
people to hatred or dislike of His Majesty's person or the established
Government and constitution of the realm," and extended the definition of
high treason. The Sedition Act prohibited the holding of meetings without
the presence of a magistrate, made it an offence punishable with death for
twelve persons to remain together after a magistrate had called upon them
to disperse, and declared that any house, where a substantial number of
persons beyond that of the resident family assembled for a common purpose,
should be treated as a disorderly house, unless specially licensed. In
1799, after the mutiny in the fleet at the Nore and the great Irish
Rebellion, in both of which the Society of United Irishmen had been
involved, new statutes made it a criminal offence, punishable by fine and
imprisonment, to belong to the Corresponding Society, or the Societies of
United Irishmen and United Englishmen, or to take oaths of secrecy. No
printer was to be allowed to conduct his business without obtaining a
certificate from a clerk of the peace. No attempt was made to discriminate
between the Corresponding Societies, whose violence was confined to their
language, and the other two societies, which had undoubtedly been concerned
in the mutiny and the Rebellion. Individual atrocities were ascribed to
French principles. The Reform Societies preached French principles. {125}
Therefore they were as guilty as the criminals themselves. In effect, all
organized political agitation was suppressed.

All these measures were steadily opposed by the small body of Parliamentary
Whigs who had not lost their belief in free government. Fox, Grey, and
Whitbread in the Commons, and Bedford, Lansdowne,[143] Moira, and
Lauderdale in the Lords, denounced every restriction upon the right of free
discussion, and at huge meetings at Copenhagen House and in Palace Yard
they protested against the Treason and Sedition Bills. They were not in
sympathy with the extremists, who often attacked them as bitterly as the
Tories themselves. There is nothing so obnoxious to violent opinions as
moderation. It seems to add hypocrisy to wickedness. But to those who can
see historical events in proportion the good service of this handful of
statesmen is beyond question. They maintained the purely Liberal view that
toleration is not to be confined to opinions of which we ourselves approve.
"All political libels," said Fox, "he would leave to themselves;
discussions on government, so far as they did not interfere with private
character, he would permit to pass entirely unrestrained."[144] "The best
security of a Government," said Tierney, "is in the free complaints of a
people."[145] "The safety of the State," said Grey, "could only be found in
the protection of the liberties of the people.... There never was an
extensive discontent without great misgovernment. The people ought to be
taught to look to Parliament with a confident expectation that their
complaints would be heard, and protection afforded to them. When no
attention was paid to the calls of the people for relief, when their
petitions were rejected, and their sufferings aggravated, was it wonderful
that at last public discontents should assume a formidable aspect?"[146]
Protests sometimes became threats. Fox declared in 1795 that if the Treason
and Sedition Bills were carried into law, the propriety of resistance to
government would no longer be a matter of morality but of prudence only,
and in this he was supported by Sheridan and Grey.


These Whigs at least contrived to see the popular point of view, and would
have suffered opinions which they would do nothing to promote. The Tories
saw no point of view but their own. They hated free discussion, because
they saw that it meant the end of the institutions which they cherished.
Discussion was to them only a stage on the way to rapine and murder. It
made, therefore, no difference whether discussion were honest and orderly
or not. They were resolute to maintain existing establishments, and the
most constitutional of critics was as much a public enemy as the most
ferocious of rebels. They drew no distinction between agitation and
revolution. They inquired into discontents, but only into their extent and
not into their causes. They applied violent remedies, not to the real
disease, but to its symptoms. The patient was noisy, and they beat him for
being noisy, when they ought to have cured the fever which produced his
delirium. The vice of their system lay not so much in their suppression of
disorder as in their neglect of reform. Order must be maintained by
government, even when the breach of it is the fault of government. But it
must be accompanied by redress of grievances. It is the business of a
statesman to manage his people, not to compel them, and however necessary
it may sometimes be for him to enforce the law, it remains the weakest, and
should always be the last of his instruments. It is useless for him to
maintain order unless it is accompanied by goodwill. Some men may be
constitutionally so disaffected that nothing can appease them. But the
majority can always be satisfied by a generous treatment of their
grievances. Even after the crisis of the Revolution Pitt might have made
the state of England more happy than it was. But what he did not do was not
so important as what he had not done. He believed in Parliamentary Reform,
in Catholic Emancipation, in the relief of Dissenters, in Free Trade. He
was in power from 1783 to the outbreak of the Revolution, and might have
conciliated the middle class and the Irish, diminished public corruption,
stimulated industry, and reduced the cost of living. This would not have
prevented all discontent. But it would have confined it to its essential
and irreducible minimum. {127} Whether this inaction was due to his own
lethargy or the incurable selfishness and stupidity of his associates and
supporters, it was undoubtedly responsible for a large part of his
subsequent difficulties. He left heaps of combustible material untouched,
and it was his own fault that it caught fire. In this unhappy state,
lurching between bitter discontent and savage repression, English liberty
struggled through the great war.

The affairs of Ireland furnished another battle-ground for contending
principles during this period. The complete subjugation of that country was
ended in 1782, when demonstrations of armed force wrested legislative
independence from an England surrounded by foreign enemies. The Irish
Parliament was left free to make such laws as it pleased for Ireland, and
the deliberate destruction of Irish industries in the interest of English
ceased for ever. But this independence, though won by the united efforts of
all creeds and classes, was the independence of a Protestant oligarchy. The
great bulk of the Irish people escaped an external only to submit to an
internal tyrant. The Irish Parliament, though patriotic in matters of
commerce, was hardly any more indulgent than the English in its religious
policy. Catholics were excluded from the Houses at Dublin as vigorously as
from those at Westminster, and few important mitigations of their lot were
obtained from their own countrymen. In 1792 Catholics were admitted to the
Bar, mixed marriages were allowed, and it was made legal for a Catholic to
educate his children abroad. In 1793 all public offices were thrown open to
them, except seats in Parliament and the highest places in the Army, the
Judicature, and the Civil Service. These changes removed the worst
disabilities of the upper and middle classes, who had now fewer
disabilities than their fellows in England and Scotland, and there was thus
exhibited a considerable reduction of Protestant insolence. The supremacy
of Pitt in England aroused great hopes that the last stones of the edifice
would soon be removed. Catholic emancipation would not have cured all the
ills of Ireland, any more than Parliamentary Reform would have cured all
the ills of England. An excessive population, {128} crowded into
agriculture by the destruction of manufactures, demoralized by landowners
who were too often thriftless or absentees, and deprived of education by
the laws which prohibited teaching by Catholic priests or laymen, was in a
condition which mere political reforms could do little to improve. What
Catholic disabilities did was to poison economic discontent by the memories
of racial and religious persecution. The conduct of the English Government
of the day was dangerously uncertain. The hopes of the Catholics were
roused in 1794 by the appointment of Lord Fitzwilliam as Lord-Lieutenant.
Fitzwilliam was notoriously in favour of the Catholic claims, even though
he was not authorized to make any promises on behalf of the Government. He
was too open in his professions of sympathy, and when Protestant bigotry
procured his recall, the apparent treachery only aggravated the bitterness
of old subjection. Catholic resentment and Protestant arrogance soon
brought matters to a crisis. Neither party gained credit from the rising of
1798. The excesses of the magistrates and the troops before, during, and
after the fighting were often of mediæval atrocity, and the retaliation of
the rebels cannot be justified, though it is amply explained by the
character of the provocation. This fearful outbreak in the middle of the
French War satisfied the English Government that only by a Union could
Ireland be kept in peace. The good effects of the recent concessions had
vanished in this whirlwind of savagery, and Protestant and Catholic were
once more in the temper of the Middle Ages. Mutual goodwill could only be
restored by a common tutelage.

There was nothing bad in itself in the plan for a legislative Union. Had it
been carried through with a just regard for Irish opinion, and had it been
followed by a strict attention to the grievances of the common people, the
Union might have been one of the brilliant successes of the English race.
In fact it was itself effected by shameful means, and it was followed by
misgovernment as fatally unsympathetic as that which had preceded it.
English rule in Ireland was less ferocious in the {129} nineteenth century
than in the eighteenth. But it was no less conspicuous a failure. No
constitutional machinery can be better than the men who work it, and
Englishmen after the Union showed themselves no less unimaginative and
egoistic than their predecessors. The objects of the Union were stated by
Pitt, with perfect good faith, to be the substitution of government by an
impartial authority for government by a faction which was steeped in the
memories of old oppression. "An impartial Legislature standing aloof from
local party connection, sufficiently removed from the influence of
contending factions to be advocate or champion of neither, being so placed
as to have no superstitious reverence for the names and prejudices of
ancient families, who have so long enjoyed the exclusive monopolies of
certain public patronages and property ... this is the thing that is wanted
for Ireland."[147] That was what was wanted for Ireland. What it obtained
was a Legislature as partial, as inextricably involved in local party
connection, and as closely wrapped about with superstitious reverence for
ancient families and their patronages and property as could have been
contrived. For half a century at least the government of Ireland remained
what it has always been in the hands of England, government by armed force,
in the interests of the landlords against the tenants, of the Protestants
against the Catholics. A system which Pitt devised as a protection against
the old abuses was converted into an effective engine for their
maintenance. Pitt was himself partly to blame for this disastrous failure.
He probably never saw the need for economic reorganization. But he saw
clearly enough the need for the ending of religious strife, which poisoned
the whole temper of the people and wasted on the jealousies of sects and
the hatred of government energy which would otherwise be free to run in
healthy and productive channels. His weakness in not pushing on with Lord
Fitzwilliam made the rebellion of 1798 inevitable. Similar weakness after
the Union made the constitutional change useless. It was undoubtedly part
of his original plan to emancipate the Catholics. But the King, the {130}
Church, and Protestant Ireland were too strong for him. Pitt resigned. The
Whigs came into office, with a Ministry which was united at least on the
Catholic question. The King again had his way, and rather than hold office
without fulfilling their Catholic pledges, they resigned in their
turn.[148] Pitt's course was clear. He should have refused to come back
without permission to do what he thought right. But he preferred the
convenience of the King, and accepted office on condition that the Catholic
question was left open. This was as effective as a definite refusal.
Canning persuaded the House of Commons in 1812, but Eldon in the Lords
defeated his colleague's Bill, and until Eldon could be expelled there was
no hope for Ireland. The friendly Tories would never unite with the Whigs
to defeat the hostile Tories. Nothing was done to solve the problem, and
Ireland, for a generation after the Union, was governed by coercion.

Throughout this wretched dispute the Whigs maintained the ancient doctrines
of their party with regard to religious disabilities. But the problem
aroused controversy about a second conception of more recent growth, the
conception of nationality. Burke had tried to treat Ireland as an equal
nation for commercial purposes. The Whigs of 1801 extended the idea to its
extreme limits. Had the Irish Parliament the right to surrender its powers
to a Parliament of the United Kingdom without receiving the approval of its
own electors? Unquestionably it had the legal right. Had it also the moral
right? The Whigs held that it had not. "What right," asked Sheridan, "has
the Irish Parliament to resolve that, instead of going back to their
constituents, they shall form part of a foreign legislature?"[149] "The
Union," said Fox, "is not an alteration, but a destruction and annihilation
of the Irish Constitution. Union therefore, like revolution, cannot be
justifiable but by the unequivocal {131} consent of the people."[150] Pitt
opposed this doctrine on the usual Tory ground. It led, he said,
immediately "to the system of universal right of suffrage in the people, to
the doctrine that each man should have a share in the government of the
country by having a choice for his representative; and then goes back to
the whole system of Jacobinism."[151]

The Union was therefore carried through the instrumentality of a
legislature bribed to betray its constituents. This transaction was much
worse than it appeared. The English Government which neglected the wishes
of the Irish people in this matter would neglect them in all others. The
Union was a supreme act of despotism, the fitting prelude to the systematic
disregard of Irish opinion which followed it. "There must," wrote Fox a few
years later, "be a fundamental change in the system of governing Ireland,
to give even a chance of future quiet there.... That there should be a part
of the United Kingdom to which our laws, nominally at least, extend, and
which is nevertheless in such a state as to call for martial law, etc., so
repeatedly, is of itself ground for reconsidering, at least, the system by
which it is governed."[152] The Tories could not understand, even in the
case of England, that it is the business of a governor to manage and not to
coerce the governed, and race and religion combined to obscure still
further their view of Ireland. The system remained what it had been and
was, and the consequences of this fatal negligence are with us to this day.

The foreign policy of the Government gave not a few opportunities for
expressions of Liberalism. The rights of nationalities were in issue in the
beginning of the French War, in the treatment of Ireland, in the descent
upon Copenhagen, and in the negotiations which followed the downfall {132}
of Napoleon. In all these cases the Whig Opposition stated the pure Liberal
doctrine. In that of the war with France, one section of them carried the
doctrine to an absurd extent. In origin, the war was unquestionably a war
of interference, an attempt to force upon the French people an obnoxious
government, and to compel them to abandon those new and revolutionary
principles which they had adopted for themselves. Pitt himself had
apparently no such object, and was hurried into the war partly by the
French threats of assisting other peoples to revolt, and chiefly by the
irresistible pressure of the English governing class. It is impossible to
read contemporary literature, the debates in Parliament, the newspapers,
the pamphlets of Burke and other acknowledged leaders of opinion, the
resolutions of corporations and public meetings, and the private
correspondence, without coming to the conclusion that the great bulk of
influential political society was inspired by a fanatical hatred of the new
opinions. Whatever pretexts may have been urged in public, and may have
been in fact held by comparatively sober people like Pitt, the impelling
force behind the English armies was dread of French principles. The sword
of the invader could not have been feared more than the fatal contagion of
his ideas. The Germans and Austrians, who invaded France in 1792 to restore
the monarchy, were less concerned to hide their motives than the English
Government. But there was little difference in substance between them. The
Continental Sovereigns moved of their own motion. The English Ministers
were carried on by their supporters.

Against a war of this kind the Whigs spoke forcibly and with justice.
Lansdowne described it as "a war, the alleged object of which was to repel
unprovoked aggressions, but the real one to prescribe laws to an
independent country."[153] It was "a metaphysical war; it was declared
against France on account of her internal circumstances."[154] Fox said it
was no better than the methods of the Inquisition. We were killing people
because they thought differently from ourselves. "How could we blame all
{133} those abominable acts of bloodshed and torture, which had been
committed from time to time under the specious name of religion, when we
ourselves had the presumption to wage a similar war?"[155] It was "the most
gross violation of everything sacred which could exist between nation and
nation, as striking at the root of the right which each must ever possess
of internal legislation."[156] "Whatever our detestation of the guilt of
foreign nations may be, we are not called to take upon ourselves the task
of avengers; we are bound only to act as guardians of the welfare of those
with whose concerns we are immediately entrusted."[157]

This language was wise, and its wisdom was proved by events. The Bourbons
were not restored. The temper of the French people was incredibly
stimulated. The new system which might have repelled by its violence and
rapacity became the centre of the national enthusiasm. It inflicted a
crushing defeat upon its foreign invaders and then proceeded to avenge this
additional injury by the massacre of those whom the invasion was intended
to assist. Whether Napoleon would have appeared in French history or not
without this strengthening of the Revolutionary system, it is impossible to
say. Certainly the foreign interference with the first Government
consolidated the nation, and prepared for Napoleon's use the most
formidable weapon that he could have obtained for the braying of Europe.
There is a tragic instance of that insight which is not foresight in the
correspondence of Castlereagh, and it shows how completely the English
Government misunderstood what they had done. "The only thing ... which
really dispirits me is, the unprecedented struggle of order against
anarchy, and the unfortunate facility with which France recruits her army
as fast as the sword exterminates it. A few days transforms their
ragamuffins into troops, which are not contemptible even when opposed to
the best soldiers in Europe.... It is the first time that _all_ the
population and _all_ the wealth of a great kingdom has been concentrated in
the field: what may be the result is beyond my perception."[158] {134} What
was going on was that anarchy was being reduced into order within the
boundaries of France, and no hatred of early extravagance or subsequent
tyranny need blind us to the courage, energy, and skill of those French
statesmen who, in the face of their enemies, built up the new system upon
the ruins of the old. The war made their task comparatively easy, and if it
diminished their strength, it made their material more workable. The
foreign invasion operated like a powerful electric current, and fused the
scattered particles of French nationalism into a solid bulk. The whole
fiery mass of France was being beaten and welded and forged into something
which Castlereagh could not understand: a nation, every member of which had
a personal interest in and a personal devotion to his nationality. Such a
thing had not been known before in France. But it was not long before even
Castlereagh was made to feel that in the councils of Europe the rights of
man might count for as much as government by orders.

The Whigs carried their maintenance of the equal rights of nationalities to
its inevitable conclusion that nations, no less than individuals, must be
bound by moral rules in their dealings with each other. Fox declared that
"the greatest resource a nation can possess, the sweet source of power, is
a strict attention to the principles of justice. I firmly believe that the
common proverb of honesty being the best policy is as applicable to nations
as to individuals ... and that cases which may sometimes be supposed
exceptions arise from our taking narrow views of the subject, and being
unable at once to comprehend the whole."[159] When he was almost at the
point of death he proceeded to suggest an international congress for
settling disputes. "He disapproved ... of any government pursuing under the
title of indemnities a system of partition of States, making some
republics, some monarchies, and annihilating the political existence of
others, without regard to moral rectitude or to the common feelings of
mankind, which considerations had more influence on the affairs of the
world than some politicians were aware. The partition {135} of Poland, the
seizure of Holland, the subjugation of Switzerland, and the division of
States, by the agreement of some, and by the fraud and rapacity of others,
had done more to destroy the confidence of mankind in each other than all
the other misconduct of the powers put together. In private society, when
men lost their confidence in one another, the compact was dissolved. The
same rule applied to States, for they were only aggregates of individuals.
He recommended to all the powers of Europe a system of justice and
moderation, as the only means of putting an end to the evils under which we
labour. He recommended a general congress, and that these principles should
be prevalent in its deliberations."[160]

These principles of international morality were applied most forcibly to
the destruction of the Danish fleet at Copenhagen in 1805. The Danes were
not hostile to us, and in common with all the other small peoples of Europe
they had every reason to fear Napoleon. The English Government knew that
Napoleon intended, if he could, to use the Danish fleet against them. The
English fleet accordingly was sent to Copenhagen to demand the surrender of
the Danish ships, and on receiving a very natural refusal, destroyed some
and carried off the rest. This proceeding is generally treated in English
schools as a matter for national gratification. To Liberals it appears a
very dangerous abuse of arbitrary power. Contemporary Europe was of the
same opinion, and the direct consequence of the affair was to range all the
Northern States on the side of Napoleon. We deprived him of the Danish
ships, and we threw into his hands the Danish army, and all the forces of
Sweden, Norway, and Russia as well. The chorus of denunciation in
Parliament was for once not confined to the Whigs. Even Windham said "he
would sooner have seen the Danish fleet in Buonaparte's hands than in ours,
under all the circumstances of the case."[161] Erskine lamented that the
whole course of civilization had been interrupted by this act. "If anything
could give delight in reading the history of civilized nations, it was the
progressive improvement that was to be traced {136} in law and civilization
amongst the nations of the world. This was the first instance in which the
principles of that amelioration had been trampled upon by us."[162] Lord
Moira spoke in the same strain. "As long as there was a power in Europe
which, from its regard to justice and to the rights of other States, could
form a sort of rallying-point to the oppressed, there was some probability
that the nations who were groaning under the yoke of a pitiless and
inexorable tyrant would have watched for some opportunity, and made some
exertion in common to throw it off. Such a power was this country, previous
to the late most unjustifiable and unfortunate attack upon Denmark; but by
this attack that hope had been completely extinguished."[163] Grey disposed
of the argument that reasons of State could justify immorality. "So far
from adding to the safety of the country, that point on which its safety
most particularly depended, he meant its honour, had not only been greatly
weakened, but had in fact received a mortal stab."[164] Prior to this
oppression of the Danes, England had had the chance of heading a European
movement for emancipation from Napoleon. Every small State might have
supported her as a protector, and every large one as an ally against a
dangerous rival. After the attack it became for the small States simply a
choice between two protectors, either of whom seemed to offer security
against the other if not against itself. The exasperation of the moment
swung the balance to the side of Napoleon, and England found herself face
to face with a hostile Continent.[165]

Fortunately for the country, the Government soon effected a great change in
their policy. For the first time they enlisted on their side what the
French had had from the beginning, the idea of nationality. The war had
entirely changed its character. Beginning as an interference with the
internal affairs of the French people, it had merged, since the rise of
Napoleon, into a struggle against a power which was as universal in its
appetite {137} as it was unscrupulous in its methods. Against this force,
which was so astonishing that it appeared to many pious Christians as
Anti-Christ himself, schemes and combinations had proved powerless. England
had escaped disaster because she was an island. The rest of Europe, with
the exception of Russia, had been beaten to the ground. These dynastic
contrivances of kings and emperors wanted the national spirit which
supported their adversary. To the common people in many parts of Europe
Napoleon appeared as a deliverer from their domestic oppressors, and the
little states of Germany and Italy, which he had carved out of the bigger,
were ready enough to see a champion of freedom in one who tyrannized only
over tyrants. The end began when he deposed a Spanish king and put his own
brother on the throne of the proudest and most exclusive nation of Europe.
The Peninsular War at last found England in her right place, at the head of
a league of nationalities. The Whig Opposition, always weak in numbers, was
now broken to pieces. Part of it repeated the old arguments, which applied
to everything but the present facts, hailed Napoleon as the champion of
liberty, and even expressed regret at his downfall at Waterloo. The wiser
men saw at once the significance of the Spanish expedition. Canning was now
the Tory Foreign Secretary. He found a hearty supporter in Grey among the
Whigs, and both felt an idea in what for Castlereagh was still no more than
a matter of business. "Of all the infamies ever incurred by a nation," said
Grey, "I think the greatest would have been to have appeared to abandon the
Spaniards."[166] "The allies have now been placed by France in the
situation in which France was originally placed by the allies. The success
of both has been occasioned by the spirit of resistance, produced by injury
and oppression; and my great hopes of the present confederacy are chiefly
derived from this, that it has arisen rather from the feeling of the
peoples than the policy of the Governments which it embraces."[167] The new
principle succeeded at last. The Spanish people, with English {138} help,
crippled Napoleon, the Russian people wore him out, and the German people
overwhelmed him. In 1815 the victory of Waterloo completed his destruction,
and the European peoples had at last leisure to look to themselves.

Comparing the England of 1815 with the England of 1790, the Liberals of the
time would find little cause for satisfaction. The economic problems of the
country were more acute, and the attempts to remedy them directly by
legislation and indirectly by encouraging combinations of workmen had been
defeated. A solitary Act of 1802, which did something to regulate the
conditions of parish children who had been apprenticed to private
employers, was the only measure of protection which had passed into law.
Parliamentary Reform and Religious Emancipation seemed more remote than
ever. The principle of nationality had been violated in Ireland, and if the
recognition of it in the later stages of the war gave some ground for
future confidence, hope was soon to be dispelled.

Unhappily for the common people, the spirit of nationality had been used
only as a means and not as an end by the various enemies of Napoleon. No
sooner was the common enemy destroyed than the victorious monarchs sat down
to cut up and distribute Europe among themselves. They had fought, not the
French, but the French Revolution, and when the main conflagration had been
extinguished, they had still to stamp out the burning embers which had been
blown about its borders. The young Republics which had been created were to
be restored to their old rulers, and all the ancient monarchies were to be
re-established, and where necessary strengthened by the acquisition of new
territory. There is something almost ludicrous to modern eyes in the
spectacle of these kings and emperors and their chancellors and envoys
assigning and allotting human beings, by millions together, without
inquiring into the wishes or interests of those with whom they dealt.
England participated in the game, and Toryism and Liberalism were again
brought into conflict. {139}

The Tory view, expressed by Castlereagh and Liverpool, was hardly less
callous than that of the Tzar Alexander himself. There is hardly a word in
any of their speeches or dispatches which shows any tenderness for men and
women as such. Human beings to them were only subjects. The old form of
Europe was to be restored, subject only to such changes as were necessary
to strengthen the principal enemies of Revolutionary France. To the balance
of power was to be sacrificed all local or national independence. "Upon the
subject of Austria and Prussia," wrote Lord Liverpool, "we must always
expect a degree of jealousy on the part of every French Government. It is
quite essential, however, to any balance of power that these two monarchies
should be made respectable. The principle recognized in the early part of
this year, that Austria should have a population in the whole of about
27,000,000 of souls, and Prussia one of about 11,000,000, appears to be
quite reasonable, and ought to give no umbrage to France."[168] Lord
Liverpool wrote of "souls," but if he had been writing of cattle his
language would have been no different. Castlereagh was no better. The
Congress of Vienna, at which this vivisection of a continent took place,
had in his eyes two objects, to check France and to check Russia. Prussia
and Austria must therefore be aggrandized. Italy might be the next free
people and become as dangerous as France, and the dream of her unity and
independence must be subordinated to the necessity of at once strengthening
Austria against Russia and of suppressing those small states upon which
Napoleon had conferred independence. Venice, an ancient Republic, was
handed over to Austria. Lest France should infect Italy, the Genoese
Republic must be annexed to the Kingdom of Piedmont. Lest Russia should
dominate Sweden, Norway must be taken from Denmark and given to Sweden. In
order that Holland might be strengthened against France in the North, she
must be allowed to annex Belgium. Prussia must be strengthened, but not too
much, and accordingly the Kingdom of Saxony was cut in half. The Poles had
been {140} divided between Russia, Austria, and Prussia in 1792. They now
expressed a desire for independence, but in vain.[169] Austria and Prussia
must be maintained at all costs. Castlereagh regretted that they should be
sacrificed and left them to their fate.

The Whigs protested warmly against this infamous disposition of the affairs
of unconsenting peoples. Particular acts, in particular the partition of
Poland, it was not in the power of England to prevent. But that was no
reason why she should give them her formal sanction. "England," said the
young Lord John Russell, "might have appeared as a member of a confederacy
to oppose France without sanctioning any of those acts of pillage by which
the deliverance of Europe has been disgraced. If she was not able to
prevent those acts, she need not have soiled her fair fame by appearing to
countenance them."[170] But other matters were entirely within the control
of England. She had entered into a treaty with Russia and Sweden, by which
she bound herself not only formally to transfer Norway from Denmark to
Sweden, but actually to compel the Norwegians by force of arms to submit to
their new masters. Even Canning, who, though a member of the Government,
held Liberal opinions in foreign affairs, declared that "if the question
now was, whether consent should be given to the treaty, he had no
hesitation in saying that he would refuse it."[171] Wilberforce "considered
the partitioning of States against their will a most despotic sacrifice of
public rights."[172] Lord Grenville appealed "to the old-established and
true principles of national law in opposition to the new-fangled doctrine
of utility, or, in other words, the subversion of all moral principle," and
denounced "the horrible injustice by which an unoffending people were to be
bent to the dominion of a foreign power."[173] Grey expressed the complete
Liberal theory. "The principles are the same in the one case and the other,
whether between individuals or {141} between States. No matter to what
degree the impunity of power might silence the claims of right, its nature
cannot be altered; it is equally sacred, equally important, and is equally
to be recognized, in every attempt to protect the weak against the
strong.... The rights of the Sovereign over his subjects are not the rights
of property. They do not confer the privilege of transferring them from one
to another like cattle attached to the soil.... The Sovereign might
withdraw himself from their protection. He might absolve them from their
allegiance to himself; but he had no right to transfer their allegiance to
any other State. It became, then, the right of the people to decide to whom
their allegiance should be given."[174] He dealt in fitting terms with the
contention that it was after all for the benefit of the Norwegian people.
"Can it be argued," he asked, "that any country shall be obliged to accept
what a foreign State thinks proper to consider as happiness? No sort of
tyranny can, in my judgment, be conceived more complete than that a
Government should undertake to force another people to submit to that
system which such Government may regard as happy, although that people may
think quite the contrary."[175] Neither the reluctance of Canning nor the
attacks of the Whigs could prevent the outrage. The British fleet blockaded
the Norwegian ports, and the Norwegian people submitted to their new

       *       *       *       *       *




The conclusion of the war closed the outlet through which the national
energies had been so long strained, and left the people free to contemplate
their own situation. Popular discontent again made itself felt, and it was
more formidable than ever. Trade was dislocated by the peace, industries
were reduced which had fattened upon the war, and the numbers of the idle
workmen were swollen by disbanded soldiers and sailors. At the same time
bad harvests diminished the supply of corn, and a new Corn Law which
prohibited imports till the home price was eighty shillings a quarter
aggravated the effects of natural deficiency. Wages in some trades were
bad, and grew worse. In 1819 ribbon and silk weavers of Coventry petitioned
Parliament to provide them with the means of emigrating to another country.
They worked sixteen hours a day, in some cases for eighteenpence or half a
crown a week. None of them earned more than ten shillings a week. A
hand-loom cotton weaver could make only five or six shillings a week. A
pound a week was a good wage for a workman in any industry.[176] The price
of corn rose higher and higher. In January, 1816, a quarter of wheat cost
fifty-two shillings and sixpence. In June, 1817, it cost a hundred and
seventeen shillings.[177] As each member of the working class consumed on
the average about one quarter a year, it {143} follows that a family of
five spent on bread at the rate of £13 a year at the first rate, and
eighteen months later at the rate of £29. The whole income of a weaver
might be swallowed up in buying bread alone, and his family be still left
in want.

To this dreadful picture a comic touch was not wanting. The Lord Advocate
once referred to it in language which shows how remotely separated were the
people and their rulers. "In many instances," he said, "the manufacturers,
who in former times were in the habit of attending church, now employed the
forenoon of the Sabbath in political discussions; and it was a common
practice for weavers to work at their looms on the same day, and till a
late hour of the night--and this too with their windows open, to the horror
and disgust of the passengers."[178] The economic necessity which deprived
the wretched artisans even of the day appointed for their rest was thus
twisted into a stain upon their character. It is not surprising that they
discussed politics. Pending their emancipation, they had only three
possible aids, starvation, parish relief, and charity; and many unhappy
workmen and their families experienced all three. Political agitation
revived on the conclusion of peace, and it was more extensive and more
determined than before. It was met by the same dull and brutal repression
and refusal of redress.

We have before us all the evidence upon which the Government proceeded, and
there can be even less doubt than in connection with the events of twenty
years before that its action was wrong and foolish. Almost every
disturbance which took place could be traced to industrial or agrarian
causes, and the ordinary law was in all cases sufficient. The Government
preferred to treat the riots as proof of a general conspiracy against the
State, and they took extraordinary steps in order to suppress them. In 1817
they suspended the Habeas Corpus Act. The suspensions of the {144} earlier
period might have been justified by the universal war, by the rapid
dispersion of Jacobin principles, by the dangerous state of Ireland. The
suspension of 1817 had no such excuse. The paroxysm of the French
Revolution had come to an end. Ireland was disaffected but subdued. There
was no war. The Government had nothing to do but to attend to the condition
of the people. But this was the last thing which it occurred to the
Government to do. Even when the original impulse had ceased to operate,
they continued to move in the line of reaction, and repeated mechanically
the watchwords of their predecessors, who had at least the excuse that they
were surprised and horrified. Sidmouth gravely described the Radicals as
"the enemy."[179] It never seems to have occurred to any one in authority
that Radicalism and riots were not cause and effect, and instead of
grappling with the economic conditions which were equally the cause of
both, Ministers discussed nothing but the means whereby the law was to be
more easily enforced.[180] Undoubtedly there were occasional disturbances
of a serious character. Between 1801 and 1811 the population increased by
21 per cent. The bulk of increase was among the North Country artisans,
whose growing numbers at once made their economic distress and their
political impotence more conspicuous than ever. There was a dangerous riot
in Spa Fields, London, in November, 1816. Another occurred at Huddersfield
in the following May, a third at Derby, and a fourth at Nottingham. Secret
societies were formed in different parts of the country, and the tongue of
Hunt and the pen of William Cobbett, rivalling the earlier popularity of
{145} the _Rights of Man_, led the Government to suppose that the whole
fabric of society was in danger. The Habeas Corpus Act was suspended, the
Seditious Meetings Act was revived, and Secret Committees of both Houses
were appointed to collect information.

It is clear from the reports of these Committees that there was nothing in
the state of the country to justify these unusual measures. The great mass
of the people showed no sympathy with the rioters. Education was spreading
rapidly in Lancashire, Yorkshire, and Scotland, and the artisans were
thinking for themselves. Violence was rare, but agitation was general.
Large bodies of people marched to public meetings at Manchester, Leeds,
Birmingham, and other provincial towns. Not a shadow of proof was produced
by the Committees that these had any criminal intention, and one fact is
sufficient to prove the contrary. At almost every meeting women and
children were present.[181] The discipline and order of these crowds were
indeed, in the obscure reasonings of men like Liverpool, Sidmouth, and
Castlereagh, an additional proof of their seditious character. A turbulent
common people never puzzled a Tory. It was the nature of the beast to be
disorderly. But a common people which thought, and spoke, and organized,
and met and dispersed in companies at the advice of its leaders, was a
thing which he could not understand. What he could not understand, he
feared. Not the least significant fact in this record of dull and
unimaginative mismanagement is the connection between Castlereagh and
Continental statesmen of the type of Metternich. These people had formed a
Holy Alliance for the express purpose of suppressing attempts to establish
Liberal Constitutions in Europe. Castlereagh, representing Great Britain,
had refused to join the Alliance. But in his own country he was pursuing
its very policy, as the European despots well knew. The letters in which
the Courts of {146} Vienna and Berlin congratulated him on his suspension
of the Habeas Corpus Act and the right of public meeting are among the most
degrading which have ever passed through the British Foreign Office.[182]

The worst incident of this struggle between people and Government was the
affair of Peterloo. This showed, as vividly as could have been desired, how
completely the working class was at the mercy of a governing class, which
controlled Parliament, the Army, and the Bench. A large but peaceful
meeting, containing many women and children, was held in St. Peter's
Square, Manchester, to hear speeches by Hunt and other popular leaders. The
crowd had gathered from all the towns in the neighbourhood, and had
marched, unarmed but in military order, to the place of assembly. The
magistrates thought they were faced with rebellion. They sent police and
yeomen to arrest Hunt, who stood on a waggon in the middle of the crowd.
The yeomen got entangled among the people, and with the assistance of some
hussars proceeded to convert the meeting into a riot. Men, women, and
children were cut down or trampled by the horses; a few were killed and
many injured. The action of the soldiers was endorsed by the magistrates
and by the Government.[183] Whigs in both houses protested and demanded an
inquiry, and Radical meetings everywhere denounced the affair as a
massacre. The Government listened neither to expostulation nor to abuse.
They refused to hold an inquiry. Persons injured had a legal remedy, and it
was not the business of the executive to investigate matters which might
come before the judiciary. It was true that a man or woman who was cut down
in the midst of a panic-stricken mob might be unable to identify the
cavalryman concerned. But it was not the business of the Government to step
in where the law failed. Besides, the magistracy were honourable and
patriotic men, and it would cast a slur upon them and weaken {147} their
authority if their superiors examined their conduct. The language of
Ministers was in keeping with their whole policy. The people were to be
kept down, and it was not necessary, seeing that they were politically
powerless, to be squeamish about ways and means. All the usual arguments
were thus employed to protect the official wrongdoers against the public.
One official will always defend the wickedness of another against private
persons who happen to be unpopular, and a Secretary of State, who can rely
on the support of a resentful party, will always ignore the wrongs of
political opponents upon whose votes he is not forced to depend.[184] It is
in agitations for the franchise that we learn best to appreciate it. In no
other circumstances is the tendency to abuse power greater in the governor,
nor the incapacity to obtain redress more conspicuous in the governed.

The direct consequence of this wanton abuse of power was to increase the
disaffection of the common people and to stimulate the Whigs in Parliament.
Much as they hated Radicals, the Whigs were too honestly indignant to
tolerate executive outrage of this kind, and too anxious to retain their
own leadership of constitutional opposition, to leave all the work of
protest to the Radicals themselves.[185] The citizens of London, York,
Bristol, Nottingham, and other large towns sent addresses to the Prince
Regent, and a great meeting of Yorkshire voters was summoned by no less a
person than Lord Fitzwilliam, the Lord-Lieutenant of the county. The
Government was more frightened than ever, and contrived new methods of
repression. Fitzwilliam was dismissed from his office, and Sir Francis
Burdett was fined £2,000 and imprisoned for three months for publishing a
violent criticism in a newspaper. Castlereagh then introduced the notorious
Six Acts. The drilling which had preceded popular meetings was made
illegal. The trial of offenders was to be more expeditious. The magistrates
were authorized to issue warrants to search for {148} arms. Transportation
was made the punishment for a second conviction for seditious libel. Public
meetings were restricted. Pamphlets were subjected to the same stamp duties
as newspapers. A touch of comedy was lent to these proceedings by a grant
of £1,000,000 for the purposes of building new churches. This had two
objects. The first was to check the spread of Dissent. "It was their duty,"
said Lord Liverpool, "to take care that those who received the benefits of
education should not be obliged to resort to Dissenting places of worship
by finding the doors of the church shut against them." But the second
object was to prevent political agitation. "The recent increase of
population," said the same statesman, "had taken place chiefly in the
manufacturing towns; and it was impossible that great masses of human
beings should be brought together in the manner in which they were situated
in these towns without being exposed to vicious habits, and to corrupting
influences dangerous to the public security as well as to private
morality."[186] The gravity with which such remedial measures as this were
proposed shows how utterly the Tories had failed to understand their
business. It is always the habit of a Tory to suppose that popular
discontent is a matter of preaching. It is always preached up, and it can
always be preached down. The people ask for bread, and the Tories offer
them a dogma. The Government of 1819 was no wiser than its predecessors,
and it applied itself with great diligence to convert the people by words
from a disposition which arose directly out of a combination of low wages
and high prices. They were saved by the forces of nature. The Regent
ascended the throne as George IV in 1820, and his scandalous prosecution of
his wife for a short time gave the people a new cry against the Government.
But with the defeat of the Bill of Pains and Penalties the popular feeling
subsided. Ministers had imagined themselves to be faced with a conspiracy
between the Queen and the populace like that which had placed Catherine II
on the throne of Russia. But the death of the Queen removed the {149}
leader, and good harvests, by bringing down the cost of living, reduced the
sufferings of the people. The Tories remained in office for another ten

An attempt at economic reform was made at this time of crisis which
deserves some notice. On the 16th December, 1819, Sir William de Crespigny
moved that a Select Committee of the Commons be appointed to inquire into
Robert Owen's scheme of co-operative production in New Lanark. Owen's
experiment eventually failed. But as an experiment it was immensely
valuable, and afforded abundant proof of the value of education, of the
reduction of child labour, of a short working day, and of good conditions
of housing and factory administration. Parliament could not have failed to
profit by the study of such an excellent model. During the debate on
Crespigny's motion, many professions of sympathy with distressed workmen
were made, and not a few compliments were paid to the owner of the New
Lanark mills. But Owen had made two dangerous blunders. As a Socialist he
had spoken against private property, and his religious opinions were
unorthodox. His scheme was therefore "subversive of the religion and
government of the country," and Tories like Castlereagh, Pietists like
Wilberforce, and individualist economists like Ricardo joined in denouncing
it. The argument of Wilberforce shows with what conscientious frivolity
these governors studied the condition of their subjects. If Owen's plan, he
said, "proceeded upon a system of morals founded upon no religion whatever,
but rather upon considerations of moral rectitude of conduct only, he was
of opinion that it behoved the House to be cautious how it gave its
sanction to an institution which did not acknowledge as one of its
essential features that doctrine on whose truth and piety it was not for
him now to enlarge."[187] Upon such barriers the motion was shipwrecked. It
was lost by 141 votes to 16, and the working classes were left to the
tender mercies of competition.

Everything at home seemed hopeless for the cause of {150} Liberalism. But
while the demand for reform seemed to have grown weaker and its concession
more remote, the aspect of foreign affairs was much more favourable. During
this last period of Tory domination, which extended from the accession of
George IV in 1820 to his death in 1830, the principle of nationality was
steadily and courageously maintained. In capacity the members of these Tory
Governments, with the exceptions of George Canning and Sir Robert Peel,
were inferior to all who had held office before them since 1791.
Castlereagh, the strongest of the older men, killed himself in 1822.
Liverpool, who was Prime Minister from 1812 to 1827, was a respectable
mediocrity. Sidmouth was rather less. Eldon, as Lord Chancellor, reigned
supreme in the Lords, and nearly every measure of reform which was pushed
through the Commons was overwhelmed in the Lords by his single argument.
"The change now proposed was in direct contradiction to what their
ancestors had supposed to be the constitution; whether they were right or
not in that supposition was a matter which he would not take it upon him to
decide."[188] But foreign affairs were happily outside the control of the
House of Lords, and Canning, who joined the Government after Castlereagh's
death, managed them in the temper of pure Liberalism. Except on the
Catholic question, Canning was in domestic politics a Tory. But his zeal
for the rights of nationalities was as warm as that of Fox himself, and he
never failed to encourage the growth of that spirit which had finally
overcome Napoleon. He became the acknowledged leader of European
Liberalism. Even Castlereagh, after the great partition of Europe had been
completed, had declined to interfere in foreign civil wars, or to assist in
the coercion of rebellious nationalities. Canning turned the cold negations
of his predecessor into warm encouragement and remonstrance.

The first difficulties arose in Spain. The expulsion of the French had been
followed by the restoration of the Spanish dynasty, and the promises of
free institutions which had been used to stir up popular feeling were soon
forgotten. Once {151} secure upon his throne, King Ferdinand proceeded with
great vigour to suppress what elements of liberty he could discover in his
dominions, and by 1822 the whole of Northern Spain was in a state of civil
war and the South American Colonies were in revolt. The Holy Alliance had
been contrived for just such circumstances as these. The French King sent
an army into Spain to help King Ferdinand. That this was an outrage not
even Castlereagh and Liverpool could deny, though it merely imitated the
policy of the English Tories of 1793. They declined to join the Holy
Alliance, and they addressed a strong protest to the guilty Powers. They
declined, on the other hand, to go to war on behalf of one half of the
Spanish people against the other. The system of Spanish government was for
the Spanish people to decide. But the revolt of the Colonies gave Canning
an opportunity of which he was glad to avail himself. At the earliest
opportunity he formally recognized the revolutionary Governments. The
establishment of a reactionary monarchy in Spain, where the issue of the
civil war was in doubt, was one thing, the extension of the reaction to
colonies which had set themselves completely free from their former rulers
was another. There was no question here of appearing as a partisan in a
domestic dispute. The Colonies were in fact independent. Was England to
remain passive while they were reduced once more into subjection? Canning
was resolved that if despotism were to be the rule on the Continent of
Europe it should not be extended beyond those limits. He "called the New
World into existence to redress the balance of the Old,"[189] and no one
who compares the present condition of South America with that of Spain will
question the wisdom any more than the expediency of his act.

The affairs of Portugal produced a similar problem, and in 1826 Canning
went so far as to send troops to Lisbon to protect the Portuguese Liberal
Regency from Spanish invasion. In 1828 Don Miguel usurped the Portuguese
throne and violated the constitution which as Regent he had sworn to
protect. The {152} Tory Government, which had lost Canning in 1827, and was
now in the hands of Wellington, adopted the strict Liberal attitude of not
dictating to the Portuguese people how they should be governed. If they
prevented France from supporting despotism, they could not, with any
consistency, themselves support democracy. "Don Miguel," said Peel, "was
the person administering _de facto_ the government of Portugal, and he
could not think it prudent on the part of England to undertake to displace
him and to dictate to the Portuguese who should be their ruler."[190] But
the Government went farther than inaction. An expedition was fitted out in
England by Portuguese refugees, and made a descent upon the Azores. A
British ship fired on them and turned them back. It was the manner of the
act rather than the act itself which was at fault. If the Government were
bound not to assist the Constitutionalists in Portugal, they were bound to
prevent their own territory from being made a base for their operations.
The expedition should never have been allowed to sail. The use of armed
force on the high seas was very unpopular, and Wellington was severely
criticized by the Whigs. Their instinct was right, if their conduct was
wrong. Wellington was in fact not so much refraining from interference in
the domestic affairs of Portugal as suppressing a democratic movement. "We
are determined," he wrote, "that there shall be no revolutionary movement
from England on any part of the world."[191] He was equally determined, as
subsequent events showed, that there should be no revolutionary movement in
England itself. He would have drilled the English people as he allowed
Miguel to drill the Portuguese, and if his policy was Liberal, his temper
was Tory.

The debates on these Portuguese incidents are significant, not only because
they reveal an almost universal acceptance of the principle of
non-interference, but because they contain the ominous expressions of
dissent from that principle which fell from the lips of Palmerston.
Palmerston had succeeded Canning at the Foreign Office, and he always
claimed to be Canning's {153} disciple as well as his successor. He
formally joined the Whig party in 1830, and with the brief interval
occupied by Peel's administration of 1841, dominated the foreign policy of
England until his death in 1865. He had all Canning's hatred of foreign
tyranny, but, in his case, generosity was mixed with an arrogance and
vanity which increased his difficulties and often defeated his objects. "If
by interference," he said in the Miguel debates, "is meant interference by
force of arms, such interference, the Government are right in saying,
general principles and our own practice forbade us to exert. But if by
interference is meant intermeddling, and intermeddling in every way, and to
every extent, short of military force, then I must affirm that there is
nothing in such interference which the laws of nations may not in certain
cases permit.... In like manner as in a particular community any bystander
is at liberty to interfere to prevent a breach of the law of that
community; so also, and upon the same principle, may any nation interpose
to prevent a flagrant violation of the laws of the community of
nations."[192] The bystander in a street row is an exact description of
Palmerston in his foreign politics. It is in these passages that we find
the explanation of a foreign policy which for a whole generation afterwards
disturbed, irritated, and demoralized the whole civilized world. For the
time being he continued Canning's policy with success. In spite of
Wellington, he assisted to liberate the Greeks from the Turks in 1829, and
it was largely owing to his bold opposition to France that Belgium burst
the fetters imposed upon her by the Treaty of Vienna, and wrested her
independence from Holland in 1830. In foreign affairs Liberalism had thus
made a great advance since 1820. The interference in French domestic policy
which was involved in the war of 1793 had never been repeated, and England,
while herself respecting the rights of other nations, had actively assisted
at the emancipation of Portugal, South America, Greece, and Belgium.

Even in domestic affairs the Tory barriers were being slowly {154} borne
down by the rising tide. A humanitarian treatment of the lower classes had
already become apparent in legislation. The punishment of the pillory was
abolished in 1816. The whipping of women was stopped in 1820. In 1823 Peel
succeeded Sidmouth at the Home Office, and the temper of that department
changed as conspicuously as that of the Foreign Office changed when Canning
took the place of Castlereagh. Romilly had fought in vain for mitigations
of the criminal law from 1808 to 1818. Sir James Mackintosh, after him, had
met with slight success. Peel introduced Government Bills, and overcame
even Eldon and the Bishops in the House of Lords. One hundred capital
offences were abolished by a single one of these Bills. In 1827 it was made
illegal for any one to use man-traps or spring-guns for the capture of
housebreakers or poachers. In 1802 Peel had passed a Bill for the
protection and education of parish apprentices who were employed in
manufactures. In 1819, 1825, and 1829 he applied similar regulations to the
case of all children, whether paupers or not, who were employed in
factories. The sum total of these restrictions was little enough, and they
still permitted a child of ten to be worked for sixty-nine hours a week.
But they laid the foundation of our system of Factory Law. In 1824 the
Combination Acts were repealed, and an instrument which had been frequently
used for the disablement of workmen agitating for better terms of
employment was thus taken from the employers. Even before the great Whig
victory of 1831 there was thus strong evidence of a change in the temper of
government. Political power was retained as jealously as ever. But the
ruling class was obviously losing its blind and obstinate reverence for
antiquity and establishments. This change was due partly to the influence
of Evangelical Christianity, which at this time guided a large section of
the English middle class, including Tories as solid as Wilberforce and
Hannah More. This philanthropic Christianity had played a great part in the
abolition of the Slave Trade, and it now operated to humanize in some
measure the state of England. But the most powerful {155} influence of the
time was a philosophy which was identified with revolution and free thought
rather than with Toryism and religion. This was the philosophy of Bentham,
or Utilitarianism.

Unlike the philosophies of men like Cartwright and Paine, Utilitarianism
extended far beyond the boundaries of politics. It was a system of ethics
from which political principles were deduced, and it was directed not only
to political institutions, but to social institutions of every kind,
including property and marriage. Burke's _French Revolution_, though
primarily political, had in fact expressed a whole intellectual system, and
its almost mystical Conservatism, believing in the irrational working of
human instincts through illogical and hardly comprehended instruments, had
been developed and extended by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Benthamism was a
rationalistic and criticizing system, which referred everything to reason
and experience, and would accept nothing merely because it had become by
age the centre of human confidence. The intellectual Conservative tended to
identify truth with antiquity. That an institution had existed, that an
idea had been generally accepted for a long period, was sufficient proof of
its rightness; it should be criticized with reverence and modified, if at
all, without substantial change. The Benthamite respected nothing and
criticized everything. Armed with his own practical philosophy, he summoned
every institution and every idea to stand and give an account of itself,
and if it failed to satisfy him, no degree of antiquity could save it from
condemnation. Benthamism was thus a profoundly modifying force in other
fields than that of politics. But for the purposes of this book it is not
necessary to undertake a general examination of it.

Bentham began to preach his philosophy before the end of the eighteenth
century. But its influence was not great until the French War had exhausted
practical Toryism. Largely under the direction of James Mill the new
thinking then began to make headway, and it had produced considerable
political results even before the enfranchisement of the middle class in
1832. {156} In the turmoil of warring theories Bentham laid about him with
great impartiality. He had no sympathy with antiquity and prescription.
These were but "the infantile foolishness of the cradle of the race."[193]
But his contempt for historical Conservatism was equalled by his contempt
for the conception of natural rights. "Rights, properly so called, are the
creatures of law, properly so called; real laws give birth to real
rights."[194] He had no patience either with appeals to history or with
abstract reasoning. He was as ready as Paine to cut off society and begin
it afresh, and as little ready as Burke to construct a theory in the air
and apply it without regard to its practical effects. He had one guiding
principle--that of utility, by which he meant a tendency to promote human
happiness. Burke and Coleridge asked, "How has it grown?" Cartwright and
Paine asked, "How does it conform to reason?" Bentham asked, "How does it
work?" Every institution--the monarchy, the Established Church, the law,
property, marriage--was to be examined. If it promoted the general
happiness, it might remain, however little it realized an abstract ideal.
If it did not, it must go, whatever its antiquity and splendour. Cumbrous
legal forms and savage punishments which did not prevent crime must be
abolished, even if they dated from the reign of Richard I. The House of
Commons must be reformed, root and branch, because it was corrupt and
selfish. Property was essential to the stability of society, and it must be
preserved, whatever advantages it gave to one class over another. Marriage
must be made dissoluble, because, while divorce was impossible,
indissoluble unions meant misery for many men and women.

It is easy to find fallacies in the philosophy of Benthamism. It is untrue
to say that morality consists in the pursuit of pleasure. There are logical
fallacies in the expression "the greatest happiness of the greatest
number." Men do not habitually pursue their own interests, and if they are
left free to pursue them it is not true that each of them will secure the
greatest happiness for {157} himself. But whatever difficulties reasoners
may find in the philosophy, there is no question that the practice of the
Utilitarians was of immense value to society. The abstraction at which they
aimed was not a mere abstraction. Cartwright wanted liberty as an end in
itself. Bentham wanted happiness, which involved an indefinite number of
tangible benefits. A Benthamite might reason absurdly about "self-interest"
and "happiness," but in effect he was seeking to improve conditions of life
and to redress grievances. An assertion that it is the duty of Government
to produce the greatest happiness of the greatest number might confuse a
logician. To the ordinary Englishman, incapable of deep reasoning, it meant
that it was his business, whenever he saw an abuse which could be remedied
by legislation, to promote legislation to remove it. Utilitarianism
provided a working formula for practical philanthropy.

Its direct influence upon politics was distinctly of a Liberal kind. Every
man was to count for one, and no man for more than one. No man could know
the interest of another better than the other himself, and each must be
left free to pursue his own. A restricted franchise and government by a
class could not stand. Where each man's conduct was directed solely to the
pursuit of his own interest this could only mean the abuse of the majority
for the benefit of the minority. "Whatsoever evil it is possible for man to
do for the advancement of his own private and personal interest that evil
sooner or later he will do, unless by some means or other, intentional or
otherwise, he be prevented from doing it.... If it be true, according to
the homely proverb, that the eye of the master makes the ox fat, it is no
less so that the eye of the public makes the statesman virtuous."[195] The
argument is, of course, only partly true, and if it were entirely true it
would be a poor argument for a wide franchise. If every man will, sooner or
later, subject the public interest to his own, are we likely to be any more
happy under a democracy than under an oligarchy? If all are corrupt, does
it matter very much whether all or only a few have power? Democratic {158}
government has its peculiar dangers, and it may be corrupted by absolute
power no less than despotism or aristocracy. But it at least diffuses power
among an infinitely greater variety of people, who are less likely to be
animated by a single interest than a closely knit and homogeneous class.
For the practical purposes of the time, where the privileges were all in
the hands of the minority and the deprivations were all suffered by the
impotent majority, the argument was good enough. It led to universal
suffrage no less directly than reasoning from the abstract rights of man.
In practice some of the Benthamites stopped short at a middle-class
franchise. This class was so large and so varied in character that it might
be trusted to legislate for the nation as a whole. But the Benthamite
reasoning went beyond this. It involved, as Bentham himself admitted, the
enfranchisement of women. James Mill and many of his friends would not go
so far, and drew from William Thompson, in 1825, his _Appeal of One-Half of
the Human Race_, which is the second of the great marks in the progress of
English women.

Disputes about subjects of this sort, which were not yet practically
important, did not weaken the general influence of the Utilitarians. Even
where their philosophy was rejected, their sustained and general attack
upon abuses produced its effect. They were allied with Tories like
Wilberforce in abolishing the Slave Trade. Romilly, Mackintosh, and Peel
reformed the criminal law in the very spirit of Bentham. Sydney Smith,
Jeffrey, Macaulay, Brougham, and the other Whigs, who since 1802 had
written in the _Edinburgh Review_, habitually spoke with contempt of
Utilitarians. But their practical politics were hardly different from those
of James Mill and George Grote.[196] Restrictions on trade, excessive
punishments for crime, costly and incomprehensible legal procedure,
religious inequalities, anomalies {159} of the franchise, sinecures, jobs,
all the fetters which hampered the individual in the pursuit of his own
interest, were attacked by Whigs and Utilitarians together, and with the
irregular assistance of Tories like Peel, the two contrived, between 1820
and 1850, to transform English politics.

The work of the Utilitarians was Liberal, so far as it went. Their
insistence upon the equal value of all individuals led to the removal of
restrictions upon liberty. No man could know the interest of another.
Therefore every man must be left, as far as possible, to himself. Each must
control his own government. Each must be permitted to hold and to publish
his own opinions. Trade and manufacture must be left to the unfettered
discretion of traders and manufacturers. The Government must stand away
from the individual, except when, as for national defence, some central
control was inevitable. This course of reasoning led the Benthamites into
the neglect of economic problems which was the great blemish of their
practical politics. The economists had arrived at the theory of _laissez
faire_ by a different route. Both schools now gave a scientific expression
to the old English dislike of Government interference, which the Whigs
cherished as part of their inheritance from the past, and the new middle
class as the result of their methods of industry. All four groups agreed in
this claim for individual freedom, and the humanitarian tendencies of
Benthamism were sacrificed to its pedantry. Enterprise was allowed full
play. Protective duties were reduced and finally abolished. Competition
stimulated and encouraged the production of wealth. But while the masters
profited, the workpeople suffered.

There is a very precise indication of the way in which the political
economy of the day and the Utilitarian theorizing combined to neglect the
peculiar miseries of the common people, in a speech of Joseph Hume. He was
speaking against the Framework Knitters' Bill of 1812, which proposed to
fix maximum and minimum rates of wages, and to prohibit the payment of
workmen otherwise than in cash. Hume declared that the function of the
State in economic matters was "to protect both {160} masters and workmen,
and allow every individual to exert himself in employing his capital and
labour in such an honourable manner as he may think best; every one in
general being the best judge of his own abilities how to employ his stock
in trade.... Viewing capitalists and artisans equally as traders, I
consider an uncontrolled competition as beneficial to both, and the
strongest spur to ingenuity and industry.... If it should be more
convenient or profitable for a workman to receive payment for his labour
partly or wholly in goods, why should he be prevented from doing so? For if
such a practice is inconvenient or injurious to any man, he will not work a
second time for the master who pays him in that manner."[197] In the same
speech Hume declared that he would put masters and men on an equal footing
by the repeal of the Combination Acts, and the Acts were repealed, on
Hume's motion, in 1824. This speech and the repeal of the Acts were
Benthamite in essence. But equal treatment by the State was not equality,
and to leave masters and men free to fight out their disputes was not to
make each count for one and no one for more than one. Of what use was it to
tell a workman that his uncontrolled competition with his fellows was a
spur to his ingenuity and industry, when it meant that a crowd of men,
under pressure of starvation, undersold each other for a bare subsistence?
Of what use was it to put capitalists and workmen into a comparison as
traders, when for the one holding out of the market meant merely a
temporary loss of income, and for the other it meant destitution? Of what
use was it to say that a workman who was deprived of part of his earnings
by the truck system could refuse to work a second time for the master who
paid him in that manner, when he had perhaps no means of travelling to find
another, and when in any case there were so many men willing to fill his
place on any terms that the master had no reason to fear his refusal? For
all its philanthropy, Benthamism did not settle the problem of the
conditions of life among the working classes. Wages, hours of labour,
ventilation, sanitary appliances, housing and the planning of towns, were
all {161} left by the Utilitarians to this desperate system of individual
bargaining. On this side their philosophy was as conspicuously deficient as
that of Cartwright himself. But its results were positive, and it gave to
the scattered impulses of Liberalism a coherence and a philosophic unity
which they had hitherto lacked.

Apart from the new humanitarianism, there were other signs that the old
Tory structure was breaking to pieces. Two of its main supports were
destroyed before the Tory party left office in 1830. The Church of England
was at last deprived of its political monopoly. Papists, Dissenters, and
Jacobins had long enjoyed a common abhorrence, and all the progress which
the two depreciated religious classes had won before the French Revolution
had been lost. In 1819 the Tory Government had actually spent £1,000,000,
raised indiscriminately by taxing them as well as Churchmen, on building
new churches to prevent the spread of their opinions. Ten years later each
had won a signal victory over its hereditary enemy.

The state of Ireland since the Union had been such as to make all lovers of
order and good government despair. A population of 7,000,000 was crowded on
to land which was not extensive enough to support it. One-seventh of the
people, it was said, lived by begging or robbery.[198] The rest farmed
little patches of land for which many of them paid rent at the amazing rate
of ten guineas an acre a year.[199] The average rate of wages was fourpence
a day.[200] Squalor and disease were the lot of the majority of the
inhabitants of a rich and fertile land. Their economic distress, which was
due, at least in part, to the vicious, unsympathetic system of absentee
landlordism, was aggravated by religious disabilities. Under the Tithe Law
a Protestant clergyman was entitled to one-tenth of the produce which a
Catholic farmer could scrape out of his potato-patch. Poverty and ignorance
combined with religious bitterness to make the {162} government of Ireland
impossible. In every year since the Union the ordinary law had been
suspended, and the English ruled Ireland only in the way of foreign
conquerors. In 1822 they governed under the Insurrection Act, which
empowered the Lord-Lieutenant to proclaim a whole county to be in a
disturbed state, to compel all residents to keep in their houses between
sunset and sunrise, to instruct magistrates to enter houses at night to see
if the inmates were at home. Constitutional government was at an end.

In 1821 Plunket, who was a Tory Irishman, introduced a Bill to relieve the
Catholics from their disabilities. It was carried through the Commons by a
majority which included such rigid Tories as Castlereagh, Wilberforce, and
Croker, as well as Canning and Palmerston and the Whigs. The Lords, led by
Liverpool, Eldon, Wellington, and Sidmouth, threw out the Bill. Canning
introduced another Bill in 1822, which met the same fate. But a measure of
a different kind was passed into law in the same year, and did much to
allay the bitterness, if it did little to improve the economic conditions
of the Irish. This was an Act which extended the Tithe Law to grazing land
as well as to agricultural land, and at the same time enabled the
tithe-owners to accept a money payment instead of a part of the actual
produce. This relieved the peasantry of the obnoxious liability to hand
over the actual produce of their labour to the representative of an alien

The main grievance remained, and the struggle for complete emancipation now
entered upon its final stage. In 1823 Daniel O'Connell founded the Catholic
Association, a gigantic league, which included Catholics of every rank, and
levied a rent or annual contribution on all its members. In 1825 this had
become such a formidable engine that an Act was passed to suppress it. The
law was evaded. It was directed against societies formed for political
objects. The Association was dissolved, and a new Association was formed
ostensibly for educational and charitable purposes. The Act suppressed
societies which renewed their meetings for more than fourteen days. The new
Association sat for {163} fourteen days at a time, and described the
meetings as "convened pursuant to Act of Parliament." The rent was paid as
before, but was stated to be paid "for the relief of the forty-shilling
freeholders," or "for all purposes allowable by law." The Act, in short,
achieved nothing except to irritate the Catholics, and to show them that
they could defy the English Government.

Under these circumstances, there was nothing for wise Protestants to do but
to give way. A Bill was introduced relieving the Catholics of their
political disabilities. It was accompanied by two other Bills, which were
intended to mitigate the dangers of the first. One of these additional
Bills, or "wings," was intended to take political power from the poorest,
most ignorant, and least independent of the peasantry, by disfranchising
the forty-shilling freeholders. The other was intended to conciliate and
improve the character of the leaders of opinion, by endowing the Catholic
clergy. The Emancipation Bill passed the Commons by a majority of 21. The
bigotry and stupidity of the Lords had not diminished since 1812, and they
threw it out by 178 votes to 130. For four years more the Catholic
Association remained the dominant force in Irish politics, and every bitter
and violent man in the country had a just ground for denouncing the English
Government. The House of Lords made one more attempt to reduce Ireland to
anarchy. Liverpool died in 1827, and was succeeded by Canning as Prime
Minister. This substitution of a friend of the Catholics for an enemy meant
the beginning of the end. Eldon, Wellington, Peel, and four other Ministers
resigned, some of the Whigs joined the Cabinet, and the English Ministry
was at last united in a policy of justice and wisdom. But the death of
Canning a few months after he became Premier again shattered the hopes of
Liberalism. The old party came back, with Wellington at their head, pledged
to resist the Catholic claims. Within twelve months they had cut their own
throats, and a trifling controversy in the Cabinet led not only to Catholic
Emancipation, but to the entire destruction of the Tory system. {164}

Two boroughs, Penryn and East Retford, had been disfranchised for bribery
and corruption. The question arose whether their members should be
transferred to the counties in which they were situated or given to some of
the large towns like Manchester, Leeds, and Birmingham, which had no
members at all. Huskisson, the President of the Board of Trade, took the
Liberal view, and in an important division voted against the Government.
The letter in which he explained his action was accepted by Wellington as a
resignation. His post was given to Vesey Fitzgerald, the member for Clare,
who submitted himself for re-election in the ordinary way. To the
consternation of the Tories, O'Connell himself came forward as a Catholic
candidate. The Catholic Association and the priests led or drove the voters
to the poll, Fitzgerald was beaten out of the field, and O'Connell,
disqualified by his religion, but with three-fourths of the Irish people at
his back, claimed a seat in the House of Commons. The Government had the
choice of two courses, neither of which promised them any credit. They
might give way to organized illegality and emancipate the Catholics. They
might exclude O'Connell and undertake a new civil war in Ireland.
Wellington was as good as a soldier as he was bad as a statesman, and he
knew when a position had become untenable. He was now ready to retreat in
good order. Peel supported him, and the two together controlled the
Cabinet. The Relief Bill and the Bill disfranchising the freeholders were
both law by the end of April, 1829.[201] The endowment of the clergy was
abandoned. Two facts of vital importance were involved in this defeat of
the Government. The first was that, for the first time in English history,
a political association had compelled Parliament against its will to pass a
measure into law. The people were beginning to control their Government.
The second fact was that the Irish had been forced into the belief that
patience and endurance were less likely to succeed in obtaining redress
than violence and {165} intimidation. The stupid resistance of the House of
Lords had planted this idea ineradicably in the Irish mind, and the events
of the next fifty years watered it and made it flourish to excess. The
reaction of these events upon English politics resembled that of the
success of the American Rebellion. The people were no longer at the
disposition of the governing class. What Ireland had done, England could
do. All over the country Political Unions for Reform came into existence,
and imitated the success of the Catholic Association. In two years the old
system came to an end.

Before the final breakdown of the Tory party the Dissenters had won for
themselves the abolition of their disabilities. On February 26, 1828, Lord
John Russell moved for the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts. There
was nothing new to be said on either side of this controversy. Was or was
not a Dissenter to count for as much in the State as a Churchman? Two
quotations from the debate will set the two schools of thought in their
places. Sir Robert Inglis, a Tory Churchman, said: "The question whether
any man ought to be eligible to power is a question of pure expediency, not
of justice; and such power may be regulated by sex, by age, by property, or
by opinions, without any wrong to any one's natural claims."[202] In other
words, a disposing class is to decide the social value of another class in
the interests of any institution with which it is itself associated.
Brougham replied in the language of pure Liberalism: "Assuming that no
practical grievance exists, is the stigma nothing? Is it nothing that a
Dissenter, wherever he goes, is looked on and treated as an inferior person
to a Churchman?... Is it nothing even that the honourable baronet should
say, as he has said this night, 'We will allow you to do so and so'? What
is it that gives the honourable baronet the title to use this language ...
but that the law encourages him to use it?"[203] On this occasion
Liberalism won an unexpected victory. The motion for repeal was carried by
237 votes to 193, and Peel, accepting the decision of the {166} Commons,
was able, after much labour, to overcome the resistance of the Lords.[204]

Two great breaches had thus been made in the edifice of Toryism, and the
Liberal tide was now very high above the point at which it had been left by
the French War. But events were moving more rapidly outside Parliament than
within it. The large provincial towns were still growing larger and their
demand for representation louder. A financial crisis in 1825 had injured
industry. Bad harvests in 1829 and 1830 combined with the import duties on
corn to increase the sufferings of the artisans and labourers. The latter
were already much demoralized by the administration of the Poor Law, and
the riots and disturbances in agricultural districts and factory towns
alike were more serious than they had ever been. The demand for Reform was
renewed with great vigour, and this time with success. The details of the
final struggle are not important for this work. Several circumstances
combined with the economic condition of the people to make agitation
effective. Continental Liberalism won two great victories in 1830. Belgium
shook off the yoke of Holland, and Charles X of France, expelled by a new
revolution, took refuge in England. Both these events gave encouragement to
English reformers. At the same time the Parliamentary Whigs, who had never
before recovered the cohesion which they lost in 1793, were united under
the leadership of Lord Althorp in the Commons and Lord Grey in the Lords.
The Tories, on the other hand, were broken up by the surrender to the
Dissenters and the Catholics. The Whigs, with a few exceptions like Lord
Durham and Lord John Russell, had no liking for drastic changes. But the
pressure in the country was too strong. A motion on some trivial matter
connected with the Civil List overthrew the Ministry. The Whigs came in
under Lord Grey, and introduced a Reform Bill which made a clean sweep of
the {167} rotten boroughs, gave seats to all the large provincial towns,
and enfranchised every townsman who occupied a house worth £10 a year. A
defeat in Committee produced a dissolution and a great Whig victory at the
polls. The Lords, indifferent alike to the trend of history and to the
state of contemporary opinion, threw out a second Bill. A great clamour
broke out all over the country, and at Bristol, Nottingham, and other
places the scum of the populace destroyed an enormous amount of public and
private property in riots. A third Bill was introduced in 1832, Wellington
again led his forces in retreat, and the Bill received Royal Assent on the
7th June, 1832. The people were at last the masters in their own house.

       *       *       *       *       *




The significance of the victory of 1832 was immense. It broke up and
reconstructed the whole of the machinery by which the old Toryism had
managed the people, and it involved the first great revision of social
values which had taken place in England. It was perhaps more important as a
precedent for future changes than for what it was in itself. It was very
far from implying the triumph of Revolutionary principles, though the
spread of Revolutionary principles had alone made it possible. The Whigs
themselves remained aristocratic and territorial, and they still dominated
politics. The small group of commercial and manufacturing Members of
Parliament was considerably increased by the enfranchisement of the new
towns. But members continued for another generation to be chosen for the
most part from the nobility and gentry, and only their constituents and the
tone of their policy were changed. Very few members and only a small
proportion of the newly enfranchised class had any belief in the equal
worth of individuals in the State. The revision of values extended no
farther than the middle class. Capital was appreciated in relation to land.
Labour was still depreciated in relation to both. An end was put "to all
the advantages which particular forms of property possess over other
forms,"[205] but property as a whole was still supreme. The Reform Act was
intended to enfranchise "the middle class of England, with the flower of
the aristocracy at its head, and the flower of the working classes {169}
bringing up its rear."[206] From their new elevation these looked down upon
the mass of wage-earners as the old Tories had looked down upon them. "I
would withhold from them," said Macaulay, "nothing which it might be for
their good to possess.... If I would refuse to the working people that
larger share of power which some of them have demanded, I would refuse it
because I am convinced that, by giving it, I should only increase their
distress. I admit that the end of government is their happiness. But that
they may be governed for their happiness, they must not be governed
according to the doctrines which they have learned from their illiterate,
incapable, low-minded flatterers."[207] In just such language had Pitt
referred to the working class and the Corresponding Society. Just as the
old Tories had held that the landed gentry were the natural leaders of the
nation, so the new Whigs paid the same tribute to the upper and middle
classes combined. "The higher and middling orders are the natural
representatives of the human race."[208] The disposing habit had come down
a step. But it remained the disposing habit.

The new governing class had that dislike of forms and liking of individual
liberty to which reference has been made. The Parliamentary Whigs, no less
than the manufacturers, were imbued with the same spirit. The natural bias
of their party had always been in that direction. They had abolished
slavery, had emancipated Dissenters and Catholics, had defended free speech
during the reaction, and had finally substituted the control of the middle
class of the common people for that of the aristocracy and the landed
interest. In recent years they had been infected with the temper, even
while they despised the philosophizing, of the Benthamites. In one respect
they lagged behind the Philosophic Radicals. They were landed proprietors,
and their adoption of Free Trade was slow and reluctant. It was as
unnatural for them to lower the price of their tenants' corn as it {170}
was for the manufacturers to reduce the hours of their men's labour. But
their general tendency to restrict the action of Government was as marked
as that of the avowed Utilitarians. They constantly, as in the reference to
"happiness" already quoted, used the very language of the creed. The
following words of Macaulay might have been spoken by Grote or Roebuck.
"The business of Government is not directly to make the people rich, but to
protect them in making themselves rich.... We can give them only freedom to
employ their industry to the best advantage, and security in the enjoyment
of what their industry has acquired. These advantages it is our duty to
give at the smallest possible cost. The diligence and forethought of
individuals will thus have fair play; and it is only by the diligence and
forethought of individuals that the community can become prosperous." The
Reform Bill would thus indirectly conduce to the national prosperity. "It
will secure to us a House of Commons which, by preserving peace, by
destroying monopolies, by taking away unnecessary public burdens, by
judiciously distributing necessary public burdens, will, in the progress of
time, greatly improve our condition."[209]

"Reform," said Sydney Smith, "will produce economy and investigation; there
will be fewer jobs and a less lavish expenditure; wars will not be
persevered in for years after the people are tired of them; taxes will be
taken off the poor and laid upon the rich;... cruel and oppressive
punishments (such as those for night poaching) will be abolished. If you
steal a pheasant you will be punished as you ought to be, but not sent away
from your wife and children for seven years. Tobacco will be 2d. per lb.
cheaper. Candles will fall in price ... if peace, economy, and justice are
the results of Reform, a number of small benefits ... will accrue to
millions of the people; and the connection between the existence of Lord
John Russell and the reduced price of bread and cheese will be as clear as
it has been the object of his honest, wise, and useful life to make


There was therefore very little disposition among the Whigs to undertake
economic reforms. "We can no more prevent time," said Macaulay, "from
changing the distribution of property and intelligence, we can no more
prevent property and intelligence from aspiring to political power, than we
can change the courses of the seasons and of the tides."[211] But in the
immediate present they would decline to change the distribution of property
as firmly as to change that of political power. The two things in fact went
together. Society was based on property; universal suffrage meant the
confiscation of property. Therefore the franchise must be limited to the
owners of property. "My firm conviction," said the same typical Whig, "is
that, in our country, universal suffrage is incompatible, not with this or
that form of government, but with all forms of government, and with
everything for the sake of which forms of government exist; that it is
incompatible with property, and that it is incompatible with

This refusal to undertake anything in the nature of graduated taxation or
social reform was accompanied by a dislike of the organizations by which
the working people endeavoured to help themselves. After the repeal of the
Combination Acts in 1824 the number of Trade Unions had greatly increased.
The methods of these associations were often of a violent and dangerous
character. Any unusual poverty will produce disorder, even among men of
good understanding. The effect on men of poor education is much worse. The
new-found power of combining was thus often abused, intimidation and
assault were common, and even murder was not unknown. To the Whigs, as to
the philosophic Radicals, the whole system of Trade Unionism was nothing
but tyranny and oppression. They failed to see the necessity for
combination. They assumed that nothing could increase wages but an increase
of production, and consequently that so long as the total earnings of a
trade remained fixed a Trade Union could produce no result except a bad
{172} temper. They ignored the possibility that the master's profits and
the landlord's rent might both be reduced without injury to the industry as
a whole. In all this the Utilitarians agreed with them. But theorists like
Hume and Roebuck were compelled logically to admit that if a man was to be
free to pursue his own interest, he was to be free to combine with others.
A Trade Union was thus not offensive to a Radical except when it abused its
rights and acted oppressively. The Whigs had a much stronger objection. A
Union to them was obnoxious in itself, probably because it had a social and
political, as well as an industrial complexion. The Radical employer at
least understood his men. The Whig landowner probably did not. Brougham
described the Union leaders as "idle, good for nothing agitators," and
declared that "the worst enemies of the trades themselves, the most
pernicious counsellors that they possibly could have, were those who had
advised them to adopt the line of conduct which they had followed since the
repeal of the Combination laws."[213] Palmerston referred constantly in his
correspondence to the rise of Trade Unions as a danger to the State.[214]
This is the style in which modern Tories spoke during the miners' strike of
1912. The grievances were ignored or not understood, and the attempts at
self-help were treated only as evidence of a malicious and dangerous

This temper led the Government into one gross abuse of power. In 1834 an
Agricultural Labourers' Union was formed in Dorsetshire. Some foolish
person thought it necessary to bind the members by an oath. One of the
Statutes of the Revolution period had made it illegal to administer an oath
to a member of any association. The Act had been passed in consequence of
the mutiny at the Nore and the activities of societies like the {173}
United Irishmen, which were avowedly criminal. It had not been intended to
apply, and it had practically never been applied to any other kind of
society. It was suddenly revived in the case of the Dorsetshire labourers.
Six of them were tried at Dorchester, found guilty, and sentenced to seven
years' transportation. The ferocity of the sentence was surpassed by the
indecent haste with which the Government hurried the wretched men out of
the country. They proceeded exactly as the Tories had proceeded in the
cases of Muir and Palmer. The prisoners were put on board a convict ship,
which set sail before the matter could be discussed in Parliament. To the
working man new Whig was but old Tory spelt differently. But on this
occasion popular opinion was against the Government. The men were ignorant,
but honest. Two of them were Methodist preachers. None of them was, in any
real sense of the word, criminal, and the whole country was roused in their
behalf. Petitions poured in from towns of every sort, from Oxford,
Cheltenham, Leeds, Newcastle, and Dundee. Hume, Roebuck, and O'Connell
spoke in the House of Commons. Twenty thousand workmen, headed by Robert
Owen, marched on one occasion to Whitehall, and Melbourne was compelled to
receive a deputation. Humanity and reason at last had their way, but it was
two years before the prisoners received a pardon, and longer before they
had all returned home. In this episode the country showed itself more
Liberal than the Government, and the Whigs were sharply reminded that the
Reform Act had changed their own situation no less than that of the Tories.

The case of the Dorchester labourers is sufficient proof that the Whigs had
little understanding of the working classes and little sympathy with their
point of view. The agitation for the people's charter, manhood suffrage,
annual Parliaments, vote by ballot, and the rest, never made any impression
upon Parliament. The Chartists were sent to prison when they broke the law,
their meetings were sometimes dispersed by force, and they were sometimes
shot dead in the course of riots. For several years after the Reform Act
the Whig Government was engaged in {174} watching and suppressing political
agitation almost as regularly as the Tories before it. But more than one
important economic reform was carried through Parliament about the same
time, and conferred considerable benefits upon the common people. One was
the Act of 1834, which reconstructed the Poor Law system. This was purely
Benthamite, and the Report of Royal Commissioners, upon which it was based,
was drafted by the Utilitarian, Nassau Senior. The new Poor Law combined
the thorough, scientific, mechanical principles of the theory of utility
with the characteristic Benthamite avoidance of restrictions on liberty.
The old system had been promiscuous and charitable. Relief had been granted
in many quarters promiscuously, and without regard to indirect
consequences. Wages had been kept down, bastardy had been encouraged, no
tests had been required to show that the applicants were really distressed.
Rates had in consequence increased enormously, and in one parish had
reached such a height that the whole economic system had broken down, and
industry had actually ceased. There were some remarkable exceptions,[215]
but the general state of the country was slovenly. The reform was of the
most drastic character. A central body of commissioners was appointed to
introduce uniformity. Small parishes were united to form efficient units of
administration. Relief was to be granted by elected Boards of Guardians,
and not by inexperienced justices of the peace. But for the purposes of
this book the most important changes were in the system rather than in the
machinery. Every applicant for relief must pass a test. He was offered
relief, but only coupled with the workhouse, where he must make some return
in labour for what he received. The workhouse must be of such an
unattractive character that none but those who were in actual want would
enter it. In short, the poor man must be forced, by this sufficient
deterrent, to rely upon his individual strength and skill. The new system
met with great apparent success, and much of the success was real. It
unquestionably stopped the demoralization of the labourers, and rates {175}
were everywhere reduced. The failure was of the sort which was inevitably
incident to Benthamism. The law checked pauperism, but it did not abolish
poverty. It prevented the abuse of public assistance, but it did not deal
with those causes of poverty which did not depend on the motives of the
poor themselves. The idler was driven by the workhouse into work. The
honest man who was made destitute by the bad organization of casual labour,
by the periodic fluctuations of trade, by the introduction of machinery, or
by the bankruptcy of his employer, could only be driven into the street.
Where independence depended upon the will of the man himself the unpleasant
nature of poor relief was beneficial. Where it depended upon causes beyond
his control it was actually harmful. The Utilitarian dislike of positive
attempts to improve conditions of life and labour thus left their work

A second economic reform was the Factory legislation of 1831 and 1833. The
object of the Acts, which, owing to inadequate inspection, was only
partially attained, was to restrict the hours of labour of children and
young persons. Peel's Act of 1825 had prohibited the employment of children
under sixteen for more than twelve hours of actual work a day, and it
applied only to cotton mills. The Act of 1833 prohibited all night work in
all textile mills, prohibited the employment of children under nine except
in silk mills, imposed a limit of forty-eight hours a week on children up
to thirteen, and a limit of sixty-nine hours on young persons up to
eighteen. It also provided for a system of inspection, which unfortunately
proved insufficient. This was the first important example of a general
State interference in economic conditions, and the campaign for its
improvement and extension divided all parties.

The true line of Liberal action was undoubtedly in the direction of
restricting the liberty of the individual to exploit those who were unable
to protect themselves. But such a course was contrary to the general
individualistic current of the time, and a large section of the Whig party
was persistently and bitterly hostile. The best of them eventually came to
the same conclusions as {176} Macaulay. "I hardly know which is the greater
pest to society, a paternal Government, that is to say, a prying,
meddlesome Government which intrudes itself into every part of human life,
and which thinks that it can do everything for everybody better than
anybody can do anything for himself; or a careless, lounging Government
which suffers grievances, such as it could at once remove, to grow and
multiply, and which to all complaint and remonstrance has only one answer:
'We must let things alone; we must let things find their level.'... I hold
that, where public health is concerned, and where public morality is
concerned, the State may be justified in regulating even the contracts of
adults.... Never will I believe that what makes a population stronger, and
healthier, and wiser, and better, can ultimately make it poorer."[216] But
there were few of the Whigs who held these wise opinions immediately after
their triumph in 1831, and even Macaulay in 1832 defeated a Tory candidate
whose views on Factory legislation were at that time far sounder than his
own. Those Whigs who belonged to the middle class were generally hostile to
the whole movement. Cobden, not yet in Parliament, would have prohibited
all employment of children under the age of thirteen.[217] But Brougham,
Harriet Martineau, and the type of business man which was best represented
by John Bright, were bitter opponents of reform. The utmost which could be
got from the middle-class Parliaments which followed the Reform Act was a
restriction of the work of children. The protection of adults, even by the
regulation of machinery, ventilation, and temperature, was always repugnant
to their stubborn belief in the power and the duty of the individual to
work out his own salvation.

The real impulse to Factory legislation came from two different quarters.
The first was Tory philanthropy. The second was the industrial democracy
which had worked for Parliamentary Reform, and had been left out of the Act
of 1832. These last acted obviously from interested motives. Their own
health and {177} happiness were at stake, and their campaign on behalf of
the children was only part of a general campaign for shorter hours and
better conditions of labour. The Tory Evangelicals acted as Tory theorists.
Robert Southey, Richard Oastler, Michael Sadler, whom Macaulay beat at
Leeds in 1832, and Lord Shaftesbury, who succeeded Oastler as the
Parliamentary leader of the movement, were Tories of a pronounced type. But
they were philanthropists, they had no personal interest as manufacturers,
and their Toryism left them logically free to employ the power of the State
on behalf of their philanthropy. Their general readiness to dispose of the
affairs of others was in this case wholly beneficial. Shaftesbury hated
Catholic Emancipation, Free Trade, life peerages, the higher criticism, the
Oxford movement, everything which during his lifetime tended to free the
individual from the control of selfish interests and monopolies. But as he
refused to allow a Catholic or a Tractarian religious freedom, or the
common people political freedom, so he refused to allow a cotton-spinner
economic freedom. To his narrow mind, no less than to his large heart, the
legal protection of working people against economic tyranny is due. It must
not be supposed that he found more favour with the ordinary Tory than with
the ordinary Whig or Benthamite. It was only where philosophic Toryism was
combined with the philanthropic instincts of Evangelical Christianity that
there was any marked superiority in one party over another. Shaftesbury had
to fight every step of his way, and he encountered indifference, if not
opposition, wherever he turned.[218]

Apart from this lamentable neglect of economic reforms the Whigs of the
Reform Bill made valuable contributions to the work of Liberalism.
Something was done to abolish the cumbrous devices which made legal
procedure unintelligible and costly, and the method of conveying land was
simplified and {178} cheapened.[219] A Bill to establish local courts for
the recovery of small debts was introduced by Brougham, but abandoned. The
reform of Parliament was followed by the reform of municipal corporations.
The old close corporations were of the same type as the old close House of
Commons. All were founded on monopoly, most were corrupt, and hardly any
were responsible to the ratepayers whose affairs they administered. By an
Act of 1835 the old system was destroyed, and the control of local
government in towns was vested in bodies elected by the ratepayers.[220]
The representative principle was thus asserted in local as in national
affairs. The domination of the landed interest was further reduced. The old
Game Laws had made the killing of game the exclusive privilege of
landowners. No one else could kill game legally, and the law, sparing
offenders of higher rank, was ruthlessly enforced by landowning magistrates
against the poor. Between 1827 and 1830 more than 8,000 persons had been
sentenced, some of them to transportation for life, for offences against
this law. In 1831, before the passing of the Reform Bill, the Whigs altered
the savage and partial Game Laws by permitting any one to kill game who
obtained a licence from the Inland Revenue authorities.[221] After the
election of the first reformed Parliament, a second attack on land was
made. In 1807 the land of traders only had been made liable to the payment
of his simple contract debts. Romilly had in vain attempted to {179} make
this provision impartial. But in 1833 the liability was extended to all
classes, and the country gentleman was no longer allowed to evade the
obligations which were imposed by law upon his social rivals.[222]

In the same year slavery was abolished in the West Indies. The trade had
been stopped in 1807. But it was still legal for the planters to own
slaves, though they could no longer import them. In 1821 Wilberforce had
solemnly confided the leadership of his cause to Thomas Fowell Buxton.
Mackintosh, Brougham, and Lushington had supported him steadily in the
Commons, and they had always had the help of Canning. But the planters had
succeeded, partly by threats of secession, partly by promises of amendment,
in maintaining their abominable system. The decline of the West Indian
trade since the peace had reduced their influence, and Parliament, free
from unrest at home, could turn its attention more easily to the Colonies.
The planters were presented with twenty millions of public money. The
slaves were to be treated as apprentices for seven years and afterwards
were to be free labourers. Thus the last trace of acknowledged slavery was
removed from the British Empire. It is melancholy to reflect that the men
who expended so much honest sympathy and indignation over slavery in the
West Indies should have so carefully refrained from using it to abolish the
slavery which oppressed their fellow-countrymen. Slavery is not always a
matter of buying and selling, of chaining and whipping; and in the sweated
labour and prostitution which were rife in England there were things no
less horrible than the worst barbarities of the colonial planters.

A Liberal reform no less important than the Factory Act was the
establishment of a State department of education. In 1833 Radicals like
Roebuck and Grote and Whigs like Brougham persuaded Parliament to grant
£20,000 to supplement the private donations which were being administered
by the different societies for education. Whitbread had introduced a Bill
to establish schools in all poor parishes in 1807. Brougham had obtained
{180} returns showing the existing provision for popular education in 1818.
But nothing was done by the State to remedy the deficiencies of private
enterprise until 1833, and even what was done then was so unscientific
that, the private societies being all Protestant, Roman Catholic children
got no benefit from it at all. After further efforts by Brougham and other
enthusiasts, the Government in 1839 proposed to appoint a committee of the
Privy Council as a central education authority. A training school for
teachers was to be established under its supervision, and the State grant
was to be increased to £30,000.

These proposals were slight enough in themselves. But they produced one of
those ugly conflicts which are inevitable in English politics so long as
one religious sect holds a privileged position. Some of the clergy of the
Established Church claimed the control of all popular education, religious
and secular. The more responsible claimed to control the religious
education only. The Archbishop of Canterbury used language which was none
the less insolent because it fell from the lips of an amiable and
benevolent man. "The moral and religious instruction of the great mass of
the people of this country was a subject peculiarly belonging to the clergy
of the Established Church.... In the distribution of the public money for
the encouragement of religion, their first object ought to be to maintain
and extend the religion of the State."[223] "The State," said the Bishop of
London, "has established a great National Church, a great instrument of
education, which ought to conduct the whole process as far as religion is
concerned. The Church is the only recognized medium of communicating
religious knowledge to the people at large; and where there is an
Established Church the Legislature ought to embrace every fit opportunity
of maintaining and extending the just influence of the clergy, due regard
being had to complete toleration."[224] In other words, these ecclesiastics
regarded it as perfectly fair that money should be taken from Dissenters to
pay for the teaching of doctrines of which they disapproved, while none was
expended on the teaching of doctrines of which they {181} did approve. They
were answered firmly by Ministers, more bitterly and more effectively by
Brougham. "In what does the tolerance consist?" asked Brougham. "Is it in
permitting the Dissenting children to be instructed in those schools in
which the Church doctrines alone are taught?"[225] The meaning of religious
liberty was extended. "Men who value religious liberty do not, in these
days, dread anything that can be called persecution, but they do dread
privileges and oppressive exclusions, preferences to one sect over
another;... they are resolved never to pay to man any tax to support
education, if the fruit of the tax does not go to maintain education to
which all shall have an equal access."[226] The issue was thus again joined
between those who would dispose of the consciences of others and those who
would allow every man an equal right with every other for the propagation
of his own opinions.

On this point the Whigs were successful. Their proposals for distribution
between the sects were in the direct line of their removal of ancient
political disabilities, and they stood their ground. One concession was
made. The inspectors of schools were to present their reports to the Bishop
of the diocese as well as to the Committee of Council. But after several
close divisions in the Commons and several defeats in the Lords the scheme
was established. It must not be supposed that the majority of the Whigs
supported these novel proposals in a very Liberal spirit. Brougham was
passionately Liberal. The Radicals made State education part of their
practical philosophy of equality. To men of this type education was a means
of increasing the individual's power to develop and express himself. But to
very many of the supporters of Government the measure was rather a measure
of police than of emancipation. Ignorance meant discontent and danger to
society and property. In answering the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord
Lansdowne said: "In the 80,000 uninstructed children now growing out of
infancy your Lordships may see the rising Chartists of the next age."[227]
Eight years later Macaulay {182} declared that "It is the duty of
Government to protect our persons and our property from danger. The gross
ignorance of the common people is a principal cause of danger to our
persons and property. Therefore it is the duty of the Government to take
care that the common people shall not be grossly ignorant."[228] This is
more in the temper of Wilberforce than in that of Tom Paine. But whatever
their motives, the services of the Whigs were great. Their grant was
absurdly inadequate. But they had at least begun to enable the common
people to think for themselves, and if they had not prevented the disputes
of sects, they had at least secured that no sect should have an artificial
advantage over another.

The great Whig administration went out of office in 1841. Their foreign
policy was the policy of Palmerston, and is perhaps best treated in
connection with his conduct of affairs after 1846, when his party returned
to power for an almost continuous period of twenty years. Lord Grey retired
in 1834, and was succeeded by Lord Melbourne, an easy gentleman, whose only
claim to the gratitude of posterity was his careful training of the young
Queen Victoria. Under his guidance the country was little troubled by
legislation, and the closing years of the Ministry were marked by no
important domestic achievement. But the establishment of a new Constitution
in Canada marked the beginning of a new and Liberal colonial policy. This
was the work of Lord Durham, who had outrun all his colleagues at the time
of the Reform Bill, and earned for himself the name of "Radical Jack." He
received little support from the Home Government during his service in
Canada, and all the credit which it deserves is his alone.[229]

Since the loss of the American Colonies, Canada was the only considerable
colony of white men which England possessed. Australia and New Zealand were
comparatively recent {183} discoveries, and South Africa, captured from the
Dutch during the great war, was only sparsely populated. Canada represented
a civilization of an older type, and a large portion of its inhabitants was
French. In 1791 a Constitution had created two Provinces, Upper and Lower
Canada, which corresponded roughly with the distribution of the two
nationalities. The arrangement was satisfactory to nobody. Upper Canada was
dominated by an oligarchy which monopolized public offices, and had
acquired the bulk of the public land for its own use. The Governor and his
Executive Council habitually rejected the advice of his elected
Legislature, and the Province was in practice governed by officials. In
Lower Canada the elected House was chiefly French, and the Governor,
packing the Upper House with English, managed his Province much as England
had managed Ireland. The real Government of both Provinces was in fact the
Colonial Office. Parliament generally was indifferent. Many of the
Radicals, following Bentham, accepted in full the theory that local affairs
must be controlled by local representative assemblies. But they pushed
their theory to logical conclusions, and, believing that the complete
independence of the Provinces must come, sooner or later, were little
inclined to administer the affairs of territories which were only costly
burdens upon the British taxpayer. The Whigs, misreading the lesson of the
American Rebellion, saw no alternatives but this complete independence and
the present difficult and irritating subjection. In this atmosphere the
officials had their own way. Bickerings about domestic affairs continued
from 1810 to 1837. The Lower Province wanted an elected Upper House and
power to dispose of the Crown Lands. The Upper Province wanted
responsibility of Ministers and no oligarchy. Commissioners were sent to
Canada in 1836 to inquire into complaints, and at once came to grief. In
March, 1837, the English House of Commons, in spite of Radical opposition,
resolved that it was inexpedient to make the Upper House of Lower Canada
elective. In August the Assembly of the Province was dissolved, and rioting
began. Troops were called in, and Canadians were {184} killed. In May,
1838, Durham arrived at Quebec on an errand of pacification. Some of his
acts were arbitrary, and he was at last forced to resign by a torrent of
abuse, which the Home Government did nothing to avert. But his policy was
in effect adopted, and his _Report_ contains the statement of the
principles which have ever since been the foundation of our colonial

The reforms were not until a later date completed by the consolidation of
the two Provinces, which directed the energies of the two races into the
management of their common affairs, and so ended the discord which had
nearly ruined Lower Canada. But both Provinces were separately endowed with
responsible government. Full control was given over revenue, Ministers were
made responsible to the Legislature, and the nominated Houses were
abolished. "Hitherto," said Durham, "the course of policy adopted by the
English Government towards the colony has had reference to the state of
parties in England, instead of the wants and circumstances of the
Province." In future, other principles were to prevail, and the first step
was to equip the colony with the machinery for managing its own business.
"I do not anticipate that a Colonial Legislature, thus strong and thus
self-governing, would desire to abandon the connection with great Britain.
On the contrary, I believe that the practical relief from undue
interference, which would be the result of such a change, would strengthen
the present bond of feelings and interests; and that the connection would
only become more durable and advantageous, by having more of equality, of
freedom, and of local independence. But at any rate, our first duty is to
secure the well-being of our colonial countrymen; and if in the hidden
decrees of that wisdom by which this world is ruled, it is written that
these countries are not for ever to remain portions of the Empire, we owe
it to our honour to take good care that, when they separate from us, they
should not be the only countries on the American continent in which the
Anglo-Saxon race shall be found unfit to govern itself.

"I am, in truth, so far from believing that the increased power {185} and
weight that would be given to these Colonies by union would endanger their
connection with the Empire, that I look to it as the only means of
fostering such a national feeling throughout them as would effectually
counterbalance whatever tendencies may now exist towards separation. No
large community of free and intelligent men will long feel contented with a
political system which places them, because it places their country, in a
position of inferiority to their neighbours." The object of the reforms was
to give as much freedom to the colonists as was compatible with the
sovereignty of the Crown. They would then lose two temptations to
rebellion; the interference of foreign officials in the disputes of their
own parties, and the contrast which the liberty of Americans as well as of
English presented to their own condition. Some points were left open, and
were not settled until a later date. But Parliament had at last been
brought to recognize that "Englishmen abroad are the same animals as
Englishmen at home--energetic, self-relying, capable of managing their own
affairs, impatient of needless and domineering interference."[231] The
egoistic habit had received a decisive check.

The total contribution of the Whigs to Liberalism was very large. They had
declared that government, national and local, was to be no longer the
business of a class, but the interest of the people as a whole; that no
form of religious opinion was to be appreciated at the expense of another;
that no man should be allowed to have property in the body of another; that
land should not be privileged against goods in relation to legal debts, and
that landowners should not be privileged against landless men in relation
to the killing of game; that employers and parents should not be allowed to
dispose of the health and happiness of children; that the English people
should not be permitted to regulate the domestic concerns of one of their
colonies. Much remained to be done. The middle class was admitted to
political power, but the working class was not. Catholics and Dissenters
were no longer practically disabled by the Church, but both were still
depreciated by the establishment of the rival sect, and the Jew {186} was
still excluded from Parliament and office by the Christian. Land was still
privileged by the Corn Law as against industry, and particular industries
as against the public by the protective tariff. The poor working man was
still liable to be abused by his wealthy employer. If the Colonies were
emancipated, Ireland was not. The condition of women had not been improved,
or even considered. Some of these reforms were simply applications of old
Whig theories about the responsibility of Government to the people and the
toleration of heterodox opinions. A Whig of 1688 would have understood the
ideas which lay beneath the Reform Act, the Canadian Constitution, the
repeal of the Test Act, and Catholic Emancipation, even if he had disliked
the particular expression of them. Other reforms were novel not only in
themselves, but also as implying a new attitude of mind, a new conception
of the relations between the State and society. The education scheme and
the Factory Act meant that men were ceasing to look upon the State as
something external to the people, a thing which was contrived simply to
protect individual human beings from being injured either by foreign
invaders or by domestic law-breakers. They were beginning to look upon it
as an engine which might be put to positive as well as to negative use,
which might be employed to strike off fetters as well as to prevent their
imposition, which might be consciously directed towards improving a man's
natural capacity as well as towards allowing it free play. It was a long
time before these ideas received much fuller expression. Political power
remained in the hands of classes who required little assistance of this
sort for themselves, and were incapable of seeing how urgently it was
needed by others. Until the Reform Act of 1867 had transferred power to the
working classes the new conception of the State was only rarely and
unsystematically expressed in legislation. In the meantime the landed
gentry and the manufacturers exaggerated rather than diminished the old
idea of individualism, and neglected or resisted every proposal which
tended to restrict competition.

In 1841 the Tories under Peel came into office. The Toryism {187} of this
short administration was very different from that of Pitt, of Castlereagh,
and of Liverpool. The Prime Minister was not in the least aggressive in
foreign policy, and was far more Liberal in abstaining from interference
with other nations than was a Whig like Palmerston. At home he was
influenced by the spirit, if not by the direct teaching of Bentham, and the
Peelite school of Ministers was a group which for efficiency and economy
has never been surpassed in England. Peel's most conspicuous virtue was
perhaps his incapacity to make permanent resistance to sound argument. Men
like Liverpool would hold to a bad principle at any cost. Peel was always
open to conversion. In 1829 he had, by one of these wise surrenders, saved
the country from the maintenance of the Catholic disabilities, and he was
now in a similar way to abandon Protection. But the real credit for this
Liberal triumph belonged to the Manchester School. In other matters he
moved in the same line without outside pressure. The most conspicuous
exhibition of Liberalism which was made by Peel of his own initiative was
his treatment of Ireland, and his most useful project was frustrated by his
own party. He applied himself with his usual disinterested ambition to the
government of Ireland. He saw that that country must be treated according
to its own nature, and not according to that of England, if it was ever to
be prosperous and contented. Its principal grievances were the subjection
of Catholicism to Protestantism, and the distortion of a peculiarly Irish
system of landholding to the peculiarly English rules of law. Both problems
were attacked by Peel in the right spirit, if not in the right way,

One of the worst consequences of the religious inequality was the ignorance
of the Catholic clergy and population. No honest Catholic would set foot in
the Irish Universities, which were exclusively Protestant in temper. A
small annual grant of £9,000 had been made to the Catholic College for
priests at Maynooth since the beginning of the century. This was all that
had been done to carry out the conciliatory policy of Pitt. Peel in 1845
proposed to increase the grant to £26,000. This was not a purely Liberal
way of dealing with the difficulty. No {188} system of endowment can
establish equality between sects, because no Government is capable either
of endowing all sects or of deciding what sects should be selected in
preference to the others. Endowment can only create inequalities. The only
levelling process is disendowment. But the Maynooth grant was a practical
measure, however little it squared with logic. The Whigs supported it, and
in the face of a clamour which recalled the days of the Puritan Revolution,
Peel had his way.[232] A second Bill established three colleges for laymen,
which offered education to all comers irrespective of creed.

The second line of advance was towards the establishment of the tenant's
right to compensation for improvements. The Irish land question had at last
attracted the earnest attention of an English Government. The particular
difficulty with which Peel now endeavoured to grapple was the result of the
English legal theory that everything put into the soil was the property of
the landlord, and the Irish custom which allowed the tenant to make all the
improvements in the holding. A tenant who spent his own money on building,
fencing, and ditching found his rent raised on the ground that the land had
thereby been made more valuable, and in default of payment, was mercilessly
evicted. In England, where the landlord paid for most permanent
improvements, this rule was not unjust. In Ireland, where the landlord paid
for none of them, it was little better than robbery. Bills entitling the
tenant to compensation for his improvements had been introduced in 1835,
1836, and in 1843. A Royal Commission appointed by Peel presented a
favourable report in 1845, and a fourth Bill was brought forward in the
Lords. That Assembly, by one of its most fatal displays of Tory spirit,
killed the Bill, and it was not introduced again for thirty-six years.

The debate in the Lords presented the Tory theory of Irish government in
its crudest form. It was nothing that the history and the economic
structure of Irish society were entirely different from those of English
society. If Ireland appeared different, it {189} was a reason, not for
trying to understand her, but for trying to coerce her. If she would not
behave like England, she must be forced. If she would not swallow of her
own free will those provisions which formed the ordinary diet of England,
they must be rammed down her throat. Thirty-six Peers, owning Irish land,
presented a petition against the Bill. Lord Clanricarde stated the case
with precision. "What," he asked, "had of late years been the drift of
their Irish legislation? Had it not been, as far as they could, to
assimilate the laws of that country to those of Britain? And if they meant
to preserve tranquillity--to support the Union--they must persevere
steadily in that course of legislation."[233] To this disastrous policy
Lord Stanley, for the Government, Lord Devon, the chairman of the
Commission, and one or two other Peers, offered a vain resistance. Nobleman
after nobleman rose to denounce this interference with the rights of
property. The Bill was thrown out, and Parliament returned to its dull
application of armed force to the management of the affairs of Ireland.

       *       *       *       *       *




While Peel was thus, with the co-operation of the Whigs, making some
approach towards Liberalism, the real control of Liberal policy was passing
out of the hands of the old governing class altogether. The active force in
the Liberal movement of this period was the Manchester School. The members
of this school were not unlike the Philosophic Radicals, and the two were
generally found on the same side. But the Manchester men differed in
character, if not in opinions, from the philosophers, and as they were more
numerous, they were more powerful. Conclusions which in the one case were
reached by reasoning from accepted principles of human nature were reached
in the other by the ways of practical experience. The manufacturer liked
individual liberty, not because he believed that it was only by leaving
every man to pursue his own interest that the greatest happiness of the
greatest number could be secured, but because he felt that he could manage
his business best if no outside person interfered with him, and that in
similar circumstances others could do the same. The Radical was a Free
Trader because Protection benefited one class at the expense of another.
The manufacturer was a Free Trader because Protection, by raising the price
of corn, made his workpeople wretched, lowered the purchasing power of the
people, and lessened the demand for his manufactures, or else forced him to
pay higher wages and exposed him to foreign competition. The Radical
suggested that war should be made expensive, in order that human nature
{191} might revolt against it. The manufacturer confined himself to the
commercial view that, so long as war existed, it was better to make it
cheap and to confine it to the smallest possible area. The Radical approved
of colonial independence because he believed that the Home Government could
not understand the interests of the colonists as well as the colonists
themselves. The manufacturer approved of colonial independence because it
lessened the expenses and lightened the taxation of the English people. By
different roads the two schools generally reached the same end.

The Manchester School was essentially a middle-class school. The Radicals
had nothing in common but their Radicalism. The Manchester men were almost
all of that sober, clear-headed, independent class, often sadly wanting in
gracefulness and culture, but always amply endowed with courage,
enterprise, and common sense, which has built up the cotton industry of
East Lancashire. They were not democratic in any theoretical sense.[234]
They cared nothing either for aristocracy or democracy. They were
accustomed to mix on terms of equality with men of all classes, and their
estimate of a man's worth was always their own, and depended on nothing but
his capacity. So far as personal intercourse is concerned, there is no part
of the world where the social estimate of a man depends less upon the
accidents of birth than that part of England where the Manchester School
flourished. The manufacturers were not proof against the attacks of
interest, and their opposition to factory legislation is a serious blot on
their political character. They believed as firmly as the Whigs in the
virtues of property, and most of them had no liking for such things as
universal suffrage. But in other respects they had an influence upon the
progress of Liberalism which was profound and continuous. They made
Parliament think highly of the common people.

Their general principles were best stated by Fox, of Oldham. "I have gone
into politics," he said, "with this question constantly in my mind, What
will your theories, your forms, your {192} propositions, do for human
nature? Will they make man more manly? Will they raise men and women in the
scale of creation? Will they lift them above the brutes? Will they call
forth their thoughts, their feelings, their actions? Will they make them
more moral beings? Will they be worthy to tread the earth as children of
the common Parent, and to look forward, not only for His blessing here, but
for His benignant bestowment of happiness hereafter? If institutions do
this, I applaud them; if they have lower aims, I despise them; and if they
have antagonistic aims, I counteract them with all my might and main."[235]
The language is more florid than that of Bentham would have been. But the
principles are Bentham's, and they are purely Liberal.

The policy thus expounded by Fox was not a mere creed of pounds, shillings,
and pence. The Manchester School is often denounced alternately as
cold-hearted and material and as warmhearted and sentimental, of
sacrificing at one time humanity to trade and at another national interests
to a feeble love of peace. It in fact combined an intense moral earnestness
with a degree of plain good sense which has never been surpassed. It is, on
the one hand, largely due to the efforts of the School that ideas of
international unity have supplanted the old ideas of the balance of
international hostilities. But their whole programme--Free Trade, peace,
non-intervention, reduction of armaments, retrenchment, arbitration, and
colonial self-government--might have been, and in suitable circumstances
always was, urged on grounds of convenience and interest. Both the Peace
Society and Mr. Norman Angell are descended politically from the Manchester
School, and without the union of the two forces, moral and economic, the
School would have effected little. No popular agitation can ever succeed
without an appeal to a moral sense, good or bad. Cobden and Bright and the
other Manchester men saw, what the men of the world who differ from them
never see, that in politics, as in all life, your ultimate interest
coincides with morality. Honesty, if it had no virtue in itself, would
still be the best policy. It is as {193} true among nations as among
individuals that material good is achieved most easily and maintained most
securely by treating your neighbour as you would have him treat you.
Interference, boasting, hostile tariffs, regulating the affairs of a nation
without regard to the feelings of its members, all mean unrest, expense,
heavy taxation, and perhaps war. Order and peace are essential to
prosperity, and order and peace can only be secured by moral conduct. Even
the dullest economic programmes were thus touched by the Manchester men
with moral fire. "I see in the Free Trade policy," said Cobden, "that which
shall act on the moral world as the principle of gravitation in the
universe--drawing men together, thrusting aside the antagonism of race, and
creed, and language, and uniting us in the bonds of eternal peace."[236]
The hope was sanguine, and its realization will not come yet. But it is
only by hopes like this that the world has ever been moved. We advance by
the labours of those who identify interest with morality, and not of those
who calculate morality in terms of interest. To domestic and foreign policy
alike the Manchester School gave a tone which they had never possessed
before. The international ideas of the French Revolution, thus identified
with national interest, were by them made part of the inheritance of

The School naturally subordinated foreign and colonial policy to domestic
policy. Foreign affairs were bluntly described by one of them as a gigantic
system of outdoor relief for the aristocracy, and they resented the use of
the common people for the dynastic aims of diplomatists. "Crowns, coronets,
mitres," said Bright, "military display, the pomp of war, wide colonies,
and a huge empire, are, in my view, all trifles light as air, and not worth
considering, unless with them you can have a fair share of comfort,
contentment, and happiness among the great body of the people."[237] "It
was with that view," said Cobden, "that I preferred my budget, and
advocated the reduction of our armaments; it is with that view, coupled
with higher motives, that I have recommended arbitration treaties, to
render unnecessary {194} the vast amount of armaments which are kept up
between civilized countries. It is with that view--the view of largely
reducing the expenditure of the State, and giving relief, especially for
the agricultural classes--that I have made myself the object of the
sarcasms of those very parties, by going to Paris to attend peace meetings.
It is with that view that I have directed attention to our Colonies,
showing how you might be carrying out the principle of Free Trade, give to
the Colonies self-government, and charge them, at the same time, with the
expense of their own government."[238] "The condition of England question,"
wrote Cobden to Peel, after the repeal of the Corn Laws, "there is your
mission!"[239] It was certainly the mission of Cobden and his associates.

This insistence upon the paramount importance of domestic policy led the
Manchester men into an exaggerated contempt for foreign policy. Their
patriotism was not wanting in sturdiness, but it was of that noble and rare
variety which is not afraid to rebuke national insolence and oppression.
Their opposition to the Crimean War and the support which most of them gave
to the North during the American Civil War are among the best things which
the School ever did for England. Bright spoke of "the high example of a
Christian nation, free in its institutions, courteous and just in its
conduct towards all foreign States, and resting its policy on the
unchangeable foundation of Christian morality.... I believe there is no
permanent greatness to a nation except it is based upon morality.... The
moral law was not written for men alone in their individual character, but
that it was written as well for nations."[240] The patriotism of a man like
this may have been mistaken, but it was never mean. The title of a "Peace
at any price man" was never deserved by any member of the School. It
opposed only the aggressive and risky policy, which in Palmerston's day
passed for the maintenance of national dignity and influence, and wasted
the wealth of the people in quarrels with which they had no real {195}
concern. "The middle and industrious class of England can have no interest
apart from the preservation of peace. The honour, the fame, the emoluments
of war belong not to them; the battle-plain is the harvest-field of the
aristocracy, watered with the blood of the people.... It is only when at
peace with other States that a nation finds the leisure for looking within
itself, and discovering the means to accomplish great domestic
ameliorations."[241] So they suspected British rule in India, partly
because it involved wars, partly because its temper reacted upon free
government at home. So they maintained that England should never interfere
in the quarrels of other peoples. The Balance of Power was to them a mere
phrase, and unless the interests of England were directly involved, the
Government had no right to inflict upon her common people the miseries even
of a successful war. If Russia abused the Poles, or invaded Hungary to
reduce it into the power of Austria, that was their affair, and not ours.
"We are no more called upon," said Cobden, "to wrest the attribute of
vengeance from the Deity, and deal it forth upon the Northern aggressor,
than we are to preserve the peace and good behaviour of Mexico, or to
chastise the wickedness of the Ashantees."[242] "It is not our duty," said
Bright, "to make this country the knight-errant of the human race."[243]
This was a rule of good sense. The breach of it was not only costly, but a
bad precedent. "If you claim the right of intervention in your Government
you must tolerate it in other nations also.... I say, if you want to
benefit nations struggling for their freedom, establish as one of the
maxims of international law the principle of non-intervention."[244] Cobden
once went so far as to say that "at some future election we may probably
see the test of 'no foreign politics' applied to those who offer to become
the representatives of free constituencies."[245] But he was never opposed
to a policy which protected our own {196} interests, and he approved of
offers to mediate between two contending foreign nations.[246] This dislike
of armed force went much farther than the old Whig principle. The Whigs
denounced active interference in the domestic affairs of other peoples. The
Manchester School would have prevented interference for the protection of
one nation against another. Let the Continent settle its own quarrels, and
however much we may abhor particular acts of immorality, let us confine
ourselves to cases where we are ourselves concerned. This marked the
extreme of the reaction against the policy of aggression, and it went
farther than a Liberal ought to go. The Manchester men were probably driven
to exaggerate their principles by the excesses of Palmerston. Canning, who
was a true Liberal, interfered in defence of national rights, but only when
he had a good chance of success. Palmerston often interfered when he had no
chance of success, and irritated to no purpose. The reaction against
Palmerston's ill-judged activity brought the Manchester School to the point
of justifying inactivity even where activity would have been safe for
England and of benefit to a foreign people. But however ill-judged it may
have been in particulars, the general effect of this depreciation of
foreign affairs was beneficial. The condition of England has ever since
remained the first care of English Governments.

The domestic policy which the Manchester School made the first object of
government was in the direct course of Liberalism. As has already been
stated, they agreed generally with the individualist proposals of the
Philosophic Radicals. "I do not partake," said Cobden, "of that spurious
humanity which would indulge in an unreasoning kind of philanthropy at the
expense of the great bulk of the community. Mine is that masculine species
of charity which would lead me to inculcate in the minds of the labouring
class the love of independence, the privilege of self-respect, the disdain
of being patronized or petted, the desire to accumulate, and the ambition
to rise.... Whilst I will not be the sycophant of the great, I cannot
become the parasite of the {197} poor."[247] This habit of mind was
expressed in a general opposition to institutions and policies which
interfered with individual freedom. The School gave no assistance to
proposals for economic regulation, and opposed Factory Bills in the same
spirit as they opposed Protection.

The greatest practical service which they rendered was the emancipation of
industry from the system of Protection. Import duties were an interference
by Government with the freedom of the individual to use his capital and his
intelligence as he thought best, and they gave advantages to certain
classes and interests over other classes and interests and over the
community at large. An import duty raised the price of the taxed article
for the benefit of the industry which produced the same article in England.
Two consequences followed. The industries which used the taxed article paid
an artificially high price for the benefit of the industries which made it,
and the tax might be so high that they would be unable to continue in the
face of foreign competition. Government was incapable of selecting what
industries might be taxed in this way without injury. It made an arbitrary
selection without regard to the general interest, or at the instigation of
classes which desired to be benefited at the expense of the community. Some
industries were maintained by this artificial system which could not have
maintained themselves by their own efficiency. Other industries were
crippled which, in a freer system, could develop themselves to an
indefinitely greater extent. Protection was vicious precisely as government
by a class was vicious or as a system of religious disabilities was
vicious. It established an aristocracy of industry, which was as bad as an
aristocracy of birth or of creed. Every industry should have an equal
chance with every other, and no industry should be given the chance of
exploiting the common people.

The Free Trade movement had begun with Adam Smith in the eighteenth
century. But little progress had been made in practical politics before the
Reform Act. A {198} few economists like Ricardo and Joseph Hume argued the
case in the Commons with as much persistency as Cobden and Bright. But the
country gentry were not economists, and their main practical object had
been the maintenance of their rents by import duties on corn. The common
people, without any direct voice in politics, had been stung by their own
sufferings into a vision of the truth, and resolutions in favour of free
imports of corn had been passed at some of the Radical meetings after the
French War.[248] In 1820 a number of London merchants presented a petition
to the House of Commons which covered import duties of every kind, and
stated "That freedom from restraint is calculated to give the utmost
extension to foreign trade, and the best direction to the capital and
industry of the country."[249] Huskisson, who was President of the Board of
Trade from 1826 to 1828, had done something to readjust some of the import
duties as between raw materials and partly or wholly manufactured goods.
The Whig victory took the matter no farther. The Whigs were at first
occupied with constitutional changes, and after Melbourne had succeeded
Grey, they ceased to apply themselves to reform of any kind. Immediately
before their defeat in 1841 they made one or two vague proposals, but were
beaten before they could carry them into effect. The arrival of Peel, a
Utilitarian Tory, decided the fate of the old system.

Peel, with Gladstone at the Board of Trade, carried on Huskisson's policy
with vigour and success. The tariff in 1842 included no less than 1,200
separate articles. On 750 of these the duties were cut down, and a general
rule was established that duties on raw materials should never exceed 5 per
cent. of their value. Though this was not Free Trade, it was a great
departure from the existing system of regulating trade by taxes. But the
corner-stone of Protection was the Corn Law, and this remained in force,
modified, but in principle untouched. Whigs and Tories alike believed in
the supremacy of land, and nothing {199} but a revolt of the manufacturers
could break it down. The revolt was led by the Manchester School.

The details of this famous struggle are not to be stated here. One or two
quotations will indicate the Liberal temper of the Free Traders. The
Radicals attacked the Corn Law in Radical language. "It is the duty of
Parliament," said Hume, "equally to protect all the different interests in
the country.... Are we warranted in giving to one particular interest a
monopoly against the other interests? I see no reason for giving the
capital employed in agriculture greater protection than the capital vested
in other branches of trade, manufacture, or commerce."[250] The
manufacturers hated the landowners with a more personal hatred. They had
little respect for these ignorant country gentlemen who maintained their
own dignity at the expense of the manufacturer's capital and the workman's
life. "The sooner the power in this country is transferred from the landed
oligarchy, which has so misused it, and is placed absolutely in the hands
of the intelligent middle and industrious classes, the better for the
condition and destinies of this country."[251] The Corn Law was described
as saying to the people, "Scramble for what there is, and if the poorest
and the weakest starve, foreign supplies shall not come in for fear some
injury should be done to the mortgaged landowners."[252] "The labourer's
bones and muscles are his own property, and not the landlord's. We claim
for ourselves that which we concede to him--the fair produce of whatever
power, privileges, or advantages we possess. Here our principle claims the
same respect, the same sacred veneration, for the rights of property of the
man who has nothing in the world but the physical strength with which he
goes forth in the morning to earn his dinner at noon, and that of the
inheritor of the widest and most princely domain which can be boasted of in
this country of Great Britain.... There is no doubt that any duty on the
importation of corn must enhance the price of food; and whatever enhances
the price of food takes away from the fair earnings {200} of the
industrious."[253] The victory of the Anti-Corn Law League meant the
victory of the people over the landowners.

But that victory was emphasized not only by the triumph of principle, but
by the triumph of organization. The fighting was done almost entirely by
Cobden and Bright outside Parliament. Both of the leaders, with Hume,
Villiers, and other members, made speeches in Parliament. But the real work
was done by the League, which was founded in 1838, and for eight years
carried on an indefatigable but orderly campaign in the country. It bore
some resemblance to the Political Unions which had supported the great
Reform Bill. But those Unions had been massed behind the official Whig
Opposition. The League had very few Members of Parliament at its head, and
not one of those was within the circle of Whig favour. The Unions had
forced their policy upon the Tory party. The League forced its policy upon
Parliament. So far as active assistance was concerned the Opposition was no
more to the Free Traders than the Government. Both official parties looked
upon it with suspicion, and the old jealousy of popular organization which
had faced the Corresponding Society and the Catholic Association was
displayed by Whig as well as by Tory landlords. The lecturers of the League
were denounced, not only as "commercial swindlers," but as "the paid
hirelings of a disloyal faction," and "revolutionary emissaries," who
inflamed the public mind "with sentiments destructive of all moral right
and order."[254] In 1843 the League was accused of promoting a strike of
factory hands in the North, and of rick-burning by agricultural labourers
in the South, and it was rumoured that the Government intended to suppress
it, as it suppressed the Catholic Association. It was not until Lord John
Russell published his manifesto in favour of repeal in 1845 that a Member
of Parliament of official rank openly allied himself with the League. Once
the leaders of Opposition had given way the work was easy. The political
centre of gravity was thus shifted from Westminster to the {201} country.
It was no longer open to Parliament to decide policy, and to direct the
fortunes of the nation as it thought fit. Not even Opposition could make a
free choice of the topics of controversy and of legislation. It became the
duty of members to observe the main currents of opinion, to check and
deflect them, but no longer to originate them. They must look in future,
not to their leaders, but to their constituents, for the principles which
were to direct their conduct. The people were brought into direct touch
with politics, and asserted their right, not only to censure their
representatives by unseating them at elections, but positively to influence
their actions while they sat in the House.

An equally remarkable feature of the League, though its immediate political
importance was much less, was its use of a women's branch, which took an
active part in the work. This was the first organized employment of women
in practical politics. The women who took part in Reform demonstrations
like that of Peterloo belonged to an impotent class, and did little active
work. The women of the Anti-Corn Law League did not make speeches.[255] But
short of appearing on public platforms they did the same kind of work as
their men. Politics were at last acknowledged by the most powerful class in
the State to be women's work as well as men's. For the moment there was no
demand that women should control their own political affairs. But the one
step followed inevitably from the other. It was impossible that a woman of
strong character should thus engage in a strenuous political agitation
without acquiring some of that desire for personal control which is the
essence of democratic politics. Among the men of the League there were
probably few who would have allowed women to work with them except as
subordinates, and the supporters of the women used language which showed
that they were not very far removed from the eighteenth century. "I offer
no apology," quaintly says the historian of the League, "for the course
they took, for I never {202} had the smallest doubt of its perfect
propriety and its perfect consistency with the softer characteristics of
female virtue."[256] It did not occur to him that, even if it had been
inconsistent with those softer characteristics, it might still have been
consistent with the desire of the women to use their natural powers as they
themselves, and not as he, thought fit. Men had not yet got to the point of
allowing women to regulate their own lives in their own way. But when they
admitted that they might safely take part in serious public business, they
sowed seed which has since borne much fruit. The modern Women Suffrage
movement began in those Northern districts where the League was powerful,
and it has made least impression in those quarters where the League was

The repeal of the Corn Law was the greatest practical achievement of the
Manchester School. In other matters they divided the credit with the
Radicals, who were avowed followers of Bentham, and with the Peelites, who
were often Utilitarian in practice though not in theory. So far as domestic
policy was concerned their Liberalism was of the negative and incomplete
kind. An attempt had been made in 1835 to establish agricultural training
schools and model farms in Ireland. It was not enough to relieve the
distress of that miserable land, but it attacked one of its most urgent
problems in the right way. The Manchester men objected to their support of
a particular industry by the State, and Peel and the Benthamites took the
same side. In 1844 Peel ended the system of practical instruction, and the
model farms were nearly all abandoned. In the same temper the Manchester
School opposed Shaftesbury's Factory Bills, and if Free Trade is the best
thing which they did for their country, their resistance to Factory
legislation is the worst. Many of them accepted restrictions on the hours
of child labour. But anything which forced the employer to regulate his
buildings or his machinery or his processes in the interests of the health
or safety of his workmen was opposed fiercely and persistently by the
majority. They objected to any interference with adult {203} men. On a
motion to inquire into the condition of journeymen bakers, Bright once
spoke with a most unpleasant flippancy. "He did not see how Parliament was
to interfere directly and avowedly with the labour of adult men.... He
should be ashamed to stand up in defence of about two hundred stalwart
Scotchmen, who could publish a Gazette of their own, and write articles in
it of considerable literary merit, and appeal for a remedy to that
House."[257] He and his associates overlooked the fact that the difference
between a man and a woman or a child was only a difference of degree. They
misunderstood the principle of all legislation of this kind. Women and
children were protected not because they were women and children, but
because they were economically weak. They were not organized, they were
poor, and their employers could use them as they pleased. Any class of men
which was economically weak was morally entitled to the same protection. To
say that they were adult men was no answer to a complaint which had nothing
to do with sex or age. Maleness did not of itself prevent either long hours
or dirty premises. Here Radicals and Manchester men failed, and by 1867
Parliament had got no farther than to prohibit the employment of children
under eight years, to restrict the hours of labour of women and youths
under eighteen to ten or twelve hours a day, and to impose conditions about
sanitation, ventilation, and the fencing of machinery upon some of the more
unhealthy or dangerous trades. This progress, qualified by many exemptions,
was all that could be won in the face of individualist opposition to
economic reform.[258] But in another quarter the different schools of
individualists were united with conspicuous success.

The most complete and the most successful application of Liberal principles
during this period was in the reconstruction {204} of the colonial system.
The American Rebellion and the restoration of Canada had been isolated
examples, the first of Liberal defeat, the second of Liberal victory. But
by the middle of the century this casual wisdom had been developed into a
deliberate and consistent policy. The growth of the other Colonies at the
Cape, Australia, and New Zealand forced upon the Home Government the
reconsideration of their methods of transacting colonial business. The Cape
had been taken from the Dutch during the French War. Australia and New
Zealand had been discovered at the end of the eighteenth century, and by
1840 were both recognized as British Colonies. The Government were then
faced with the same problem as that which had confronted them in America.
The old system was government by the Colonial Office, and in one respect it
had been more deliberately egoistic than in any other part of the world.
The Australian Colonies had for a long time been used as a dumping ground
for social rubbish. The people for whom the Home Government could not
provide in England, it had been accustomed to send to New South Wales, to
Western Australia, and to Van Diemen's Land. A large part of the population
of these countries consisted partly of transported convicts and partly of
paupers whom public or private money had enabled to emigrate. As Sir
William Molesworth bluntly described it, "Colonial Office colonization
consists in the transportation of convicts and the shovelling out of
paupers."[259] The time was at length reached when the independent
emigrants and the descendants of earlier settlers who were themselves of
good character protested against this use of their country without their
own consent.[260]


In 1839 Russell, as Colonial Secretary, stopped transportation to New South
Wales. But convicts were still sent to Tasmania and Norfolk Island. In four
years no less than sixteen thousand of these unwelcome immigrants had been
forced upon the inhabitants of Tasmania, and in 1840 they presented a
petition praying that the system might be stopped. Peel's Government
suspended transportation to Tasmania for two years, but actually
contemplated reviving it in the case of New South Wales. Transportation was
apparently regarded as a sort of administration of human alcohol. So long
as the proportion of convicts to independent settlers did not exceed a
certain figure no harm would be done. But the inhabitants of New South
Wales protested loudly, and when the Whigs came into office in 1847, with
Lord Grey as Secretary for the Colonies, they abolished all transportation
except to Bermuda and Gibraltar. A last attempt to impose upon colonists
was made in 1849. A shipload of convicts was then taken to the Cape. There
was a violent outburst of feeling, and the noxious cargo was finally
discharged in Tasmania. After a few more years of bickering between the
embarrassed Imperial Government and the determined colonists, the system
was completely abandoned in 1853.[261]

The next step was to entrust the colonists with the management of their own
domestic affairs. The details of the various Acts of Parliament are not
important. In 1842 Peel's Ministry had established a Legislative Council in
New South Wales. The Whigs extended the system to the whole of Australia.
But the real credit for establishing the new spirit belongs to the
Manchester School and the Radicals, of whom Sir William Molesworth was the
most conspicuous. Russell and Grey always took the Liberal line, but with
more coldness. They were content with nominated or partly nominated
Legislatures. Molesworth argued boldly for a complete system of responsible
government. "The nostrum of the Colonial Office for the Australian Colonies
is the {206} single, partly nominated Chamber. Now every one acknowledges
that such an institution is not only in opposition to the principle of
political science, but to the universal experience of Anglo-Saxon
communities in every part of the globe.... An Englishman, when he emigrates
to the United States, carries with him in reality all the laws, rights, and
liberties of an Englishman; but if he emigrates to our Colonies, on
touching colonial soil he loses some of the most precious of his liberties,
and becomes the subject of an ignorant and irresponsible despot at the
Antipodes."[262] He proposed "that the Colonial Office shall cease to
interfere with the management of the local affairs of these Colonies, and
that they shall possess the greatest amount of self-government that is not
inconsistent with the unity and well-being of the British Empire."[263]

The practical proposals of Molesworth were not immediately accepted, and
the first colonial constitutions did not provide for the responsibility of
Ministers to the Legislature. But a clause in the Australian Colonies
Government Act of 1850 provided that the Colonies might alter their own
constitutions, and it was not long before they took advantage of the
permission. The Liberal principle of local independence was thus
permanently established. The temper in which the Imperial Government has
ever since applied itself to the details of administration has been that of
Molesworth. "The great principle of colonial government is, that all
affairs of merely local concern should be left to the regulation of the
local authorities; to that principle I know of no general exceptions,
unless in cases where local interests may clash with the interests of the
Empire at large, or in cases where some one predominant class of a society
might be disposed to exert such powers, so as unjustly to depress some
feebler and defenceless class."[264] In modern times the line between local
and Imperial interests has been pushed farther back. Some Acts of {207}
Colonial Legislatures have been disallowed by the Crown. These have
generally conflicted in spirit or in letter with the Imperial law. Among
them have been Acts for reducing the salary of a Governor-General, for
regulating copyright and shipping, for checking foreign immigration, and
for altering the law relating to marriage and divorce. But with the growth
of colonial populations even this interference has become rarer. Acts for
checking Chinese immigration into Australia and for permitting marriage
with a deceased husband's brother in New Zealand have been recently
sanctioned by the Crown. Under the influence of this Liberal temper the
self-governing Empire has grown to its present proportions. A queer freak
of political fortune has made Tories of the present generation the
self-styled champions of communities which, if Tory doctrines had been
applied to their government half a century ago, would have been long since
driven into revolt and independence.

The fidelity of Parliament to the new theory was once more seriously tested
in 1853, when the Whigs were no longer in absolute power, and the
government was in the hands of a coalition of Whigs and Peelites. The Tory
side was then weighted by the influence of the Church of England, in whose
favour an unfortunate reservation had been made in Canada. The question
arose out of the appropriation of some lands in Canada for the endowment of
the Church. The Canadian Legislature had presented an address to the Crown,
praying that the disposition of these lands might be left to itself as a
matter of purely local and not Imperial concern. There had been
considerable dispute about the subject in previous years, and in 1840
Parliament had passed an Act appropriating the revenues of the Clergy
Reserves in part to the Church of England, in part to the Church of
Scotland, and otherwise for religious and educational purposes. The
Canadian Legislature now asked that Parliament should invest it with full
power to deal with the endowments according to the wishes of the
inhabitants of the Colony. The issue was plain. The Churches were in
Canada, the clergy were in Canada, the lands were in Canada. {208} Were
their affairs to be managed by Canadians or Englishmen? The Church fought
for its privileges. In 1840 the Bishops in the House of Lords had demanded
that whatever other concessions were made to colonial feeling, the Church
at least should be maintained at all costs. "The Church wished, for the
sake of peace, to make any reasonable concessions with regard to property,
provided always that the Church was recognized as the Established Church of
the Colony."[265] The Canadians were to be adapted to the use of the
Church, not the Church to the use of the Canadians.

In 1853 these arguments were employed in the House of Commons by Sir John
Pakington and by Lord John Manners. Property had been appropriated to the
Church of England, and it must remain with her even at the cost of colonial
independence. Sir William Molesworth and Gladstone put the Liberal case as
forcibly as on the Australian Bill. "It is high time," said the latter, "to
have done appealing to one part of the people. We know of old the meaning
of these words--we know from disastrous experience their effects--we know
that the effect of them was to create knots and cliques of intriguers, who
put upon themselves the profession of British supporters, who denied the
name of loyalists to all who would not adopt their shibboleth, and caused a
strong reaction in the minds of the colonial population; so that, if under
that system of government you would look to govern the people of Canada,
you must expect the spread, if not of disloyalty, yet of dissatisfaction
and dissent; and that pervading the great mass of the community there will
be a current of public opinion throughout the Colony, if not contrary to,
yet distinct from, the current of British feeling."[266] This argument,
showing clearly that the speaker's mind was already moving towards the
Irish policy of which he himself had as yet no conception, was sufficient
to keep the House in the path upon which it had previously entered. The
Church was beaten by 275 votes to 192, and the last foundation-stone of
Empire was firmly laid. The strength of the {209} structure was tested
again in 1858, when the Canadian Parliament was allowed to impose duties
upon British manufactures. It stood the strain, and in 1879 it was finally
acknowledged that in its fiscal arrangements a Colony might treat the
Mother Country as it treated a Foreign State.[267]

In foreign affairs the predominance of Palmerston gave a uniform tone to
English policy for a whole generation. The Whigs were in power from 1830 to
1841, from 1846 to 1852, and, with a brief interval, from 1852 to 1866, and
though Palmerston was not always at the Foreign Office, his influence was
always great while his party was in a majority. Generally his sympathies
were on the side of Liberalism. He believed in the theory of nationality,
and, though he was no enthusiast for democracy, he had a great hatred of
tyranny. But while his principles were in the main Liberal, his methods
were essentially Tory. He had a constant desire to see England play a great
part in foreign affairs, and while he sometimes oppressed small peoples for
unworthy objects, he frequently irritated and offended Great Powers without
any profitable result. As one of his subordinates said of him, "He wished
to make and to keep England at the head of the world, and to cherish in the
minds of others the notion that she was so."[268] "England," he said, "is
strong enough to brave consequences."[269] The braving of consequences in
foreign, even more than in domestic affairs, is a dangerous game to play.
It was a game in which Palmerston delighted, and whenever he was in office
the country might count on a succession of hazardous enterprises being
undertaken for its amusement, and at its expense.

This egoistic policy was not inconsistent with the principles of Whigs who
liked national independence and English political institutions, and in some
of his most dangerous exploits Palmerston had the powerful support of Lord
John Russell. But it was opposed on the one hand to the theories of
Peelites like Peel himself, Gladstone, and Lord Aberdeen, and on the other
to the {210} theories of Cobden and Bright and the Manchester School. The
former disliked everything that was unmethodical, disturbing, and
expensive. The latter hated Palmerstonism, because it so vividly expressed
that aristocratic subordination of domestic to foreign affairs, that use of
the common people for purposes which they could not understand, which it
was their habit to attack in all its forms. The conflict which extended
over the whole of the Palmerston era was thus rather a conflict between a
Tory use of Liberalism and a Liberal use of it than between Toryism and
Liberalism. There was no general disposition on either side to interfere
directly in the domestic concerns of foreign peoples. Palmerston was more
than once guilty of this gross offence. But men so opposite as Peel and
Cobden were agreed on the point, and Peel's dignified request for fair play
for the Socialist French Republic of 1848 is more in the vein of Fox and
Grey than in that of Pitt and Grenville. Even Palmerston would not dispute
the soundness of the general principle. But his constant attempts to
dictate policies to other peoples made his Liberalism a very different
thing from that of his opponents, who, while they were sometimes ready to
offer mediation, were never ready, as he was, to hazard the fortunes of the
English people on behalf of causes where success was doubtful or

Between 1830 and 1841 Palmerston was chiefly concerned with the Iberian
Peninsula and the Near East. In 1832 he very rightly sent a fleet to the
Tagus to stop Miguel's abuse of British subjects, and he declined with
equal propriety to prevent France from doing the same on her own behalf. He
then proceeded to open negotiations for filling the thrones of both
Portugal and Spain, which were inconsistent with Liberal principle and
produced no result except to excite the jealousy of France. Hostility to
France combined with hostility to Russia to shape his policy in Turkey and
Egypt. He had at this time a belief, which he never lost, that Turkey could
regenerate herself. When Mohammed Ali, the Pasha of Egypt, threw off his
allegiance to the Sultan, and not only expelled the Turks from his own
territory but conquered a large part of their possessions in Syria, {211}
Palmerston interfered to prevent his advance. France had shown sympathy
with Egypt, Russia with Turkey. To leave the matter where it stood meant
the permanent separation of the two Eastern countries, neither strong
enough to stand alone, and each therefore dependent on and dominated by one
of the two European Powers whom Palmerston disliked. At all costs Turkey
must be kept from Russia and Egypt from France. The British fleet was
therefore sent to Syria, and Mohammed Ali was stripped of his conquests and
sent back to his own country. This was a clear case of the exploitation of
weaker races in the interest of England's private disputes with other

The Chinese War of 1840, in which English ships and men were used to force
the opium traffic upon China, was hardly Palmerston's fault, and was begun
and conducted by the British diplomatic agents. In 1841 he rendered great
service to the cause of international friendship by procuring the European
Powers to consent to a convention for the suppression of the Slave Trade,
and thus completed the work which had been begun by Wilberforce and
Clarkson more than fifty years before. In 1846, after the fall of Peel, he
began his second term of office by a refusal to join France and Austria in
interfering by force of arms in the internal disorders of Switzerland, and
procured a settlement by mediation. This was as wise and temperate a course
as could be required. But immediately afterwards he began a series of
extraordinary violations of Liberal principle. In July, 1846, he instructed
the British Ambassador in Spain to lecture the Spanish Government on its
unconstitutional domestic policy, and in order to thwart Louis Philippe of
France, meddled with the marriage of the young Queen. In November he sent a
fleet to Lisbon to overawe the Portuguese Junta, and re-established the
Queen, who had been expelled, on condition of her giving up her absolutism
and undertaking to govern with free institutions. In the next year he sent
Lord Minto to Italy on a pedagogic tour among the various Governments,
bidding them set their houses in order before the prevailing unrest upset
them. {212} All this was in the worst possible manner, and love of national
freedom was strangely mixed with jealousy of France and Austria. In 1848,
the year of Revolutions, when every country in Europe except Russia was
disturbed, and even England suffered a final and sporadic outbreak of
Chartism, Palmerston indulged his love of freedom to the full. Neither he
nor Lord John Russell concealed their sympathy with the Poles, the
Hungarians, and the Italians, and while they declined to join in
Continental wars, they upheld the Sultan in his refusal to give up
Hungarian refugees to Austria and Russia. No Liberal could find much cause
for complaint in this sympathetic policy, even though it incurred the
hostility of reactionary Governments. Contrasted with Russia assisting
Austria to put down the Hungarians, and with the French Republic helping
Austria to destroy the Republic of Rome, England at this time appeared
conspicuously magnanimous. But in 1851 Palmerston's gay pugnacity led him
into a gross blunder.

The object of his censure was Greece. The condition of that State was such
as Palmerston could not overlook. British subjects had from time to time
reason to complain of the inefficiency of the law and of the delays and
evasions of the Government. A riot, in which a substantial amount of
private property was destroyed, at last gave an excuse for intervention.
Claims for compensation were presented to the Greek Government, and
Palmerston, without advising the sufferers to try the law, and without
himself allowing any play for diplomacy, sent a fleet to blockade the
Piræus, and demanded the settlement of all the claims in full. Some of
these claims, of which that of the Maltese Jew Pacifico was the worst, were
notoriously extravagant or dishonest, and Palmerston, by his hasty action,
had made the British fleet an instrument of the most impudent blackmail.
France and Russia stepped in, at first with offers of mediation, and then,
when Palmerston flouted their suggestions, with vigorous remonstrance. In
the face of this opposition such a bad case could not be pressed, and the
matter was referred to arbitration. Palmerston's egoism had betrayed him.
He had bullied Greece. {213} He gave way to France, and he abased himself
before Russia. The note addressed to the Russian Ambassador by Count
Nesselrode is perhaps the most humiliating document ever received by an
English Minister. "It remains to be seen whether Great Britain, abusing the
advantages which are afforded her by her immense maritime superiority,
intends henceforth to pursue an isolated policy, without caring for those
engagements which bind her to the other Cabinets; whether she intends to
disengage herself from every obligation, as well as from all community of
action, and to authorize all Great Powers, on every fitting opportunity, to
recognize to the weak no other rule but their own will, no other right but
their own physical strength. Your Excellency will please to read this
dispatch to Lord Palmerston, and to give him a copy of it." To the meek
acceptance of lectures like this was Great Britain reduced by Palmerston's
"spirited and aggressive" policy. The rebuke was not made less effective by
the fact that every word of it might have been addressed to Russia herself.
But Palmerston, with his theories of the Balance of Power and his bluster
in Spain and Portugal, no less than with his genuine love of national
independence and constitutional government, had contrived to offend all the
Great Powers in turn, and they clutched eagerly at this chance of reading a
lecture to the man who had so often played the pedagogue towards

The case of Don Pacifico was the cause of a general attack upon
Palmerston's conduct of foreign affairs. In the House of Lords, Stanley
carried a vote of censure on the particular incident. This was answered in
the Commons by Roebuck's motion of general confidence in the whole policy.
The debate lasted for six days, and Palmerston defended himself in the
finest speech he ever made. He claimed to have maintained the honour of
England, and to have entitled every subject of the Crown to boast of his
citizenship like the old Romans. He was answered as brilliantly by Peel and
Gladstone, by Molesworth, and by Cobden. "I protest," said the philosophic
Radical, "against the honourable and learned gentleman's doctrines, which
would {214} make us the political pedagogues of the world.... I maintain
that one nation has no more right to interfere with the local affairs of
another nation than one man has to interfere in the private affairs of
another man."[270] Gladstone was less dogmatic but equally forcible, and it
is in his speech rather than in those of Radicals and Manchester men that
the real Liberal view of the case was expressed. He admitted that it might
sometimes be right that one nation should interfere with another, and that
if England ever interfered she should interfere on the side of liberty as
against despotism. But his case against Palmerston was that he interfered
on behalf of revolution before it was successful. We should interfere, if
at all, to protect an established constitutional Government, and not to set
it up. "The difference among us arises upon this question: Are we, or are
we not, to go abroad and make occasions for the propagation even of the
political opinions which we consider to be sound? I say we are not.... We
must remember that if we claim the right not only to accept, when they come
spontaneously and by no act of ours, but to create and catch at,
opportunities for spreading in other countries the opinions of our own
meridian, we must allow to every other nation a similar license both of
judgment and of action. What is to be the result? That if in every country
the name of England is to be the symbol and the nucleus of a party, the
name of France and Russia, or of Austria, may and will be the same. And are
you not, then, laying the foundation of a system hostile to the real
interests of freedom, and destructive of the peace of the world?...
Interference in foreign countries, sir, according to my mind, should be
rare, deliberate, decisive in character, and effectual for its end.... I
protest against these anticipations of occasion, on every ground both of
policy and of justice. The general doctrine is that we are not entitled to
recognize a government, far less to suggest one, until we see it
established, and have presumptive evidence that it springs from a national

On the point of Don Pacifico, Gladstone administered a rebuke {215} which
was equally crushing. "It would be a contravention of the law of nature and
of God, if it were possible for any single nation of Christendom to
emancipate itself from the obligations which bind all other nations, and to
arrogate, in the face of mankind, a position of peculiar privilege.... What
was a Roman citizen? He was the member of a privileged caste; he belonged
to a conquering race, to a nation that held all others bound down by the
strong arm of power. For him there was to be an exceptional system of law;
for him principles were to be asserted, and by him rights were to be
enjoyed that were to be denied to the rest of the world.... He adopts in
part that vain conception that we, forsooth, have a mission to be the
censors of vice and folly, of abuse and imperfection, among the other
countries of the world; that we are to be the universal

The victory of argument was with the critics. But Palmerston triumphed in
the Lobby, and there is no question that his policy was popular. A few
months later he was turned out of office. He procured his downfall by a
succession of foolish acts. Kossuth, the Hungarian patriot, paid a visit to
England early in 1851, and Palmerston gave a cordial reception to a
deputation which described the Emperors of Austria and Russia as despots,
tyrants, and odious assassins. The language was not very inaccurate. But it
was not the business of the Foreign Secretary to receive it with
approbation. Public feeling was in this matter with Palmerston, and he was
allowed to keep his place. But in December of the same year Napoleon, then
President of the French Republic, tore up the Constitution under which he
held office, shot down some of his subjects in the streets of Paris,
imprisoned his principal enemies, and took steps to get himself elected
Emperor. The affair was as flagrant a violation of moral rules as any
revolution that had ever taken place, and the most stubborn of English
Tories might have been repelled by such a breach of faith. The Government,
acting on the Liberal principle of non-interference, instructed the British
Ambassador to be strictly neutral. But Palmerston privately told {216} the
French Ambassador that he strongly approved of what had been done. This was
too much for the Queen and for the Cabinet, and it was also too much for
Parliament and the people. The offending Minister was dismissed. With him
went the strength of the Whig party. In a few months the Ministry had
fallen to pieces, and a coalition of Whigs and Peelites, with Lord
Granville at the Foreign Office, had taken the place of the Tory Ministry
which succeeded it.

In a Memorandum addressed to the Queen, Lord Granville laid down the main
principles of the new foreign policy. They were a distinct expression of
Liberal ideas. "It was the duty and interest of a country such as Great
Britain to encourage progress among all other nations. But for this purpose
the foreign policy of Great Britain should be none the less marked by
justice, moderation, and self-respect, and avoid any undue attempt to
enforce her own ideas by hostile threats.... They did not attach to the
expression 'non-intervention' the meaning implied by some who used it,
viz., that diplomacy is become obsolete, and that it is unnecessary for
this country to know or to take part in what passes in other countries....
With respect to the internal affairs of other countries, such as the
establishment of Liberal institutions and the reduction of tariffs in which
this country has an interest, H.M.'s representatives ought to be furnished
with the views of H.M.'s Government ... but they should be instructed to
press those views only when fitting opportunities occurred, and only when
their advice and assistance would be welcome or be effectual.... With the
countries which have adopted institutions similar in liberality to our own,
it ought to be the endeavour of H.M.'s Government to cultivate the most
intimate relations ... and also to exert its influence to dissuade other
Powers from encroaching on their territory or attempting to subvert their
institutions. Cases might occur in which the honour and good faith of this
country would require that it should support such allies with more than
merely friendly assurances."[273] This was the policy of the Government,
composed partly of Whigs and {217} partly of Peelites, which replaced the
short-lived Government of Lord Derby in 1852.

The new Premier was Lord Aberdeen. He had been Foreign Secretary in Peel's
administration, and had exhibited a wise temper in a dispute with America,
which Palmerston had left in a state of great difficulty. By an ironic
twist of fortune, this Liberal Ministry was soon involved in the Crimean
War, a blunder for which Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, the British
Ambassador at Constantinople, Napoleon III of France, and the Palmerston
School in England, must share the moral responsibility. Stratford was eager
for war, and stimulated the Sultan, Napoleon wanted to dazzle his people by
military glory, and Palmerston, once more in office as Home Secretary,
hating Russia as the champion of autocracy, inspired by jealousy of her
power, or fearful of anything which might endanger our communications with
India, wished to bolster up the Turkish Government at all costs. The
details of the negotiations need not be stated here. There was not
originally the least prospect of any danger to British interests, economic
or political. The question at issue was whether Russia should have the
right to protect the Christians of the Balkan Peninsular against the
abominable tyranny of the Sultan of Turkey. Great Britain, through Lord
Stratford de Redcliffe, from the first did everything possible to impede
Russia and to stimulate the Sultan. Eventually, the terms which the chief
Powers presented to the two parties were accepted by Russia. Turkey, acting
under the direct instigation of Lord Stratford, rejected them, and war

Liberal protests were in vain. They were drowned by the clamour of a
people, which is not more conspicuous than any other for wisdom in time of
war. The Ministry collapsed under the odium of their bad management of the
campaign in the Crimea, and Palmerston, in whose temper the negotiations
had been conducted, came back to office, this time as Prime Minister. His
triumph over Liberalism was complete. Every one of the leading principles
of Granville's memorandum was violated. England interfered in a quarrel on
behalf of the vilest {218} Government in Europe. She interfered on behalf
of a State which had rejected her terms against a State which had accepted
them. She marched into the field at the side of a despot who had gained his
throne by a monstrous crime. The enemy against whom she fought was so vast
that not even such ends as she had could be gained except for a brief
space, and real success was as impossible as the cause was bad.

In two years the war was at an end. Hundreds of thousands of lives had been
lost. Hundreds of millions of pounds had been blown away. The Emperor of
the French had strengthened his seat upon his throne. The Sultan of Turkey
was enabled, for twenty years more, to murder, flay, beat, and ravish his
Christian subjects. Russia, rebuffed for the time being in the Balkans,
began to move eastwards, and threatened us more directly in Persia. The
gains of England were of the vaguest kind. If she had succeeded, after a
war which was chiefly due to the folly of her representative at
Constantinople, in preventing Russia from appropriating part of the
Sultan's dominions, she had succeeded at the cost of committing herself to
the support of an ally who was as untrustworthy as he was vicious. The most
solid and permanent acquisition of the war was probably not understood at
the time by one Englishman in a thousand. It was accidental, and had
nothing to do with the objects of British policy. It consisted in the work
of Florence Nightingale. This had finally proved two things: the value of
trained nursing in the regulation of health, and the capacity of women to
construct and control complicated organizations of human beings. Miss
Nightingale's work in the Crimea gave her an authority which made her
subsequent organization of trained nursing a comparatively easy task. Few
statesmen of the nineteenth century can claim to have done more than she to
make life worth living for their fellow-creatures, and if the war had
produced no result but this it might almost have been worth its cost. The
importance of Miss Nightingale's success in its bearings on the general
condition of women will appear greater fifty years hence than now. It was
certainly very great. Mary Somerville had {219} already acquired a
reputation as an astronomer. Harriet Martineau had been an acknowledged
champion of Free Trade. But Florence Nightingale was the first woman who
obtained for her public work that degree of publicity which catches the
imagination of a people. Contemporary opinion, after assailing her with
that abuse and ridicule to which all pioneers are accustomed, consecrated
her as "The Angel with the Lamp." A wiser generation declines to identify
her merely with those gentle qualities in which she is rivalled by many
thousands of her sex, and sees in her strong and imperious temper, her
capacity for reducing order out of chaos, and her power of enforcing her
wishes upon her subordinates, qualities in which she has seldom been
surpassed even by the greatest men. No English statesmen engaged in the
conduct of the war displayed in a higher degree than she the attributes of
a great administrator, and the impression of her statesmanlike qualities
can never be effaced. It has not been possible, since her day, for any
reasonable man to argue that women, as such, are constitutionally incapable
of managing large affairs.

The deeper significance of the Crimean War was not perceived for another
generation, and in domestic affairs at least a decade elapsed before any
Government displayed activity. The whole nation seemed resigned into the
hands of Palmerston. Ireland continued in its sullen course. The artisans,
whose political agitation had collapsed in 1848, were consolidating their
Trade Unions and making successful experiments in co-operation. John Bright
occasionally spoke on Parliamentary Reform, and denounced government by
aristocracy with a contempt as hearty as that of Paine. But he admitted
that he was "flogging a dead horse." Apathy in domestic politics pervaded
all classes. Except in foreign affairs, where Palmerston kept alive his
peculiar conceptions of Liberalism, Parliament showed little activity. The
Cabinet, partly Whig and partly Peelite, was animated by no general
principle. Gladstone, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, already on his way
from the Peelite camp to the Liberal, confessed that in domestic matters
his colleagues of 1860 were far {220} less Liberal than those of 1841,[274]
and when the Lords rejected his Bill for the repeal of the Paper Duty in
that year, it was with the utmost difficulty that he dragged his chief into
a fight for the privileges of the Commons.

One or two measures, which excited little public interest, and required
little effort from the easy-going Premier, marked the slow advance of
Liberalism. The Settlement Duty Act of 1853 reduced the privileges of the
landed interest by imposing the same duties on land passing under a
settlement as had previously been paid by personal property. The Oxford
University Act of 1854 and the Cambridge University Act of 1856 opened the
two ancient Universities to Nonconformists, though the highest degrees and
all the important offices were still retained by the Establishment. The
Jewish Relief Bill, which had passed the Commons and been rejected by the
Lords seven times since 1832, became law in 1859, and the Christian
monopoly of Parliament came to an end. In 1857 the Divorce Act was carried
in the face of clerical opposition, and enabled any person to obtain the
dissolution of an unhappy marriage in a civil court. This was an
essentially Liberal measure, in that it freed the individual from an
ecclesiastical institution, but it emphasized on the other hand that sexual
Toryism which is worse than the Toryism of creed or class. One of the most
barbarous rules of a male society was preserved by the Act, and while a man
was permitted to divorce his wife for a single act of infidelity, a woman
could only divorce her husband if he were also guilty of cruelty or
desertion. Implicitly the Act permitted a man to indulge freely in vice so
long as he chose to live with his wife and not to beat her, at the same
time that it sentenced her to social extinction for a single fault. Moral
standards have risen since that time, and the use of women is no longer
recommended by medical men to their patients as a means of maintaining
health. But the legal privilege preserved by the Divorce Act is enjoyed by
the dominant sex to this day. The Act had other faults, the chief of which
was that the procedure under it was so expensive that it was almost useless
for the {221} poor. But it was at least an advance towards liberty.[275]
One other measure of a Liberal sort has already been mentioned. In 1860 the
Lords rejected the Bill for the repeal of the duty on paper. In 1861 it was
forced through, the price of paper was reduced, and the cheap newspaper and
the cheap book, with their enormous influence upon the habits of the mass
of the people, were made possible. This was the work of Gladstone alone,
and he and Cobden together contrived the great French Commercial Treaty
which completed the reform of the tariff, and left the country with no
import duties except those which were imposed on goods not produced in
England, and those which a countervailing excise robbed of all protective

With these exceptions, the important events of the Palmerston period took
place abroad, where the Prime Minister's foreign policy pursued its
pretentious course. It presented its usual alternation of generous but
risky interference on behalf of oppressed nationalities with arrogant
assertions of the British ego. A war with China in 1856 exhibited it at its
very worst. A ship called the _Arrow_ had obtained a licence from our
representative to fly the British flag in the China seas. Like others which
enjoyed the same privilege, the _Arrow_ seems to have used it for very
dubious purposes. After the period for which the licence was granted had
expired the Chinese Governor Yeh of Canton boarded the ship and arrested
some of its crew on a charge of piracy. Though his conduct at a later stage
was more violent, it seems clear that at the beginning of the quarrel he
acted with dignity, and strictly within the law. But Sir John Bowring, the
British Minister on the spot, chose to treat his action as a wanton and
unprovoked insult to the British flag. He demanded the surrender of the
prisoners and an apology, and when Yeh did what Bowring himself would have
done if their positions had been reversed, and refused to give way, he
proceeded to employ all the ships and troops at his disposal in warlike
operations. It was the {222} affair of Don Pacifico over again, with an
even less specious excuse. In this case there was no legal justification
even for diplomatic remonstrance.

The affair was atrocious enough in itself. But its atrocity was increased
by the language and the methods of the English representatives. The _Arrow_
had been entitled by licence to hoist the British flag. The period covered
by the licence had expired. "But," argued Sir John Bowring, "the Chinese
did not know that the time had expired, so that the insult to the flag is
no less, and our pretext no worse." Macchiavelli himself could not have
argued more shamelessly than this Utilitarian, and Cobden, who was a
personal friend of Bowring, rightly denounced it as the most dishonest
thing that had ever been written in a British official letter. The British
agents were in fact dealing with people whom they thought to be barbarians,
and they were not concerned to stand upon the points of honour which were
commonly observed by civilized men. One of the incidents of the war
expressed this unworthy discrimination between Europeans and Asiatics no
less clearly than the methods of the diplomatists. During the Crimean War
the Government had been very careful to avoid the bombardment of
unfortified towns. However reckless they had been in going to war, they had
had sufficient moral discipline to refrain from the wanton injury of
defenceless persons. This rule, now universally adopted by all civilized
peoples, was abandoned by the British Government in China, and half Canton
was laid in ruins and some hundreds of its peaceful inhabitants were shot
or burnt to death, in order to assert the superiority of the civilized
Western nation over these insolent barbarians.

These outrageous proceedings were brought before the House of Lords by Lord
Derby and before the House of Commons by Cobden, in speeches which in sheer
force of argument have never been surpassed. Every man of eminence, except
the few who were in office under Palmerston, spoke on the same side, and
even Lord Lyndhurst, whose Toryism dated from the days of Eldon, took the
Liberal view. Lord John Russell echoed the language of the Copenhagen
debate of half a century before. {223} "We have heard much of late--a great
deal too much, I think--of the prestige of England. We used to hear of the
character, of the reputation, of the honour of England."[276] Even Roebuck,
whose motion had once defended Palmerston's against the consequences of
actions hardly more honourable than this, came back to the Liberal side.
"The rule of morality extends over the globe, and what is just and unjust
in the Mersey is equally just and unjust in the river before Canton."[277]
On this occasion Palmerston's majority deserted him. He won by a small
majority in the Lords, but was soundly beaten in the Commons. But the
resources of the constitution were not exhausted. He dissolved Parliament
and appealed to the country. The result of the election was not encouraging
to those who valued honour in foreign policy. The Crimean fever had not
abated, and this fresh appeal to national arrogance produced a great
demonstration in favour of the Prime Minister. The most striking feature of
the election was the extinction of the Manchester School. Cobden, Bright,
Milner Gibson, and Fox of Oldham were all turned out of their seats. But
though the Liberals were thus censured by their contemporaries, the
judgment of posterity must be pronounced hardly less emphatically in their
favour. Ten years later the new Liberal party, united on domestic and
foreign policy, came into power, and it governed in both fields in a spirit
which was the very opposite of that of Palmerston.

In the meantime the lively veteran proceeded with varying success and
unchanging cheerfulness. In November, 1857, he saw fit to pass public
censure on the French Emperor, which he had done nothing recently to
deserve. But by the following February he had completely changed his tone.
A man named Orsini had made bombs in London for the purpose of blowing up
the Emperor in Paris, and Count Walewski, in a most impudent dispatch,
requested Palmerston to alter the law of England so as to prevent the
repetition of such practices. To the consternation of a House of Commons
which had been {224} elected to express approval of his high-handed
dealings with Russia and China, he meekly introduced a Conspiracy to Murder
Bill. This was too much even for his own followers, and within twelve
months of his triumph he was beaten, and resigned. But nothing could stop
him, because nobody could replace him. In two years he returned to office,
and he remained there until his death in 1865.

Foreign affairs gave him more than one more opportunity for the display of
his peculiar qualities. The Indian Mutiny was provoked and suppressed in
India, and except for the protest which some Liberals raised against the
occasional ferocity of the conquerors, there were few revelations of
differences of opinion. The appropriation of Schleswig and Holstein by
Germany in 1863 attracted at once Palmerston's zeal for national
independence and his desire to assert himself in Europe. He was always
eager to protect the little man irrespective of his merits. He and Lord
John Russell ventured to interfere with some outrageous oppression of the
Poles by Russia and Prussia in the beginning of 1863. It was a clear case
of interference with domestic concerns of another nation, and the Russian
Government in effect told them to mind their own business. Their
suggestions for reform here produced no good effect whatever. But in the
same year they again interfered, with hardly more excuse and no better
result, in the quarrel between Prussia and Denmark. The quarrel did little
credit to anybody concerned. Prussia, under the direction of Bismarck,
behaved with that dishonesty which was as marked a feature of that
statesman's diplomacy as its apparent success. Denmark behaved with a
rashness which she could not afford in defence of a position which she
ought not to have taken up. By a Treaty of London which had been signed in
1852 by England, France, Austria, Prussia, Russia, Sweden, and Denmark, the
two Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein had been united with Denmark. Their
inhabitants were mostly German, so that this treaty was inconsistent with
Liberal theory. But such as it was, Prussia could not honestly refuse to
observe it. In 1864, after some fruitless {225} negotiations, she and
Austria invaded the Danish territories. Probably no war has ever been begun
with less justification since Frederick the Great marched into Silesia.
Palmerston was carried away by his feelings, and declared that "those who
made the attempt would find in the result that it would not be Denmark
alone with which they would have to contend."[278] Relying on this rash
declaration, Denmark maintained a bold front. A speedy surrender might have
left her with part at least of the disputed provinces. In the end she was
despoiled of both. France and Russia would not fight, England would not
fight alone. After encouraging Denmark to her fatal resistance, and after
summoning an ineffectual conference of the Powers she left her to her fate.

The error of the Government in this case lay not so much in their view of
the facts or their refusal to go to war as in the rash declarations which
had led the Danes to believe that they would have English support.
Palmerston had once more applied Liberal principles in an awkward and
disastrous way. Even Cobden supported him in Parliament, and approved of
his refusal to go to war with a military Power like Prussia. But he pointed
out that there were other principles in issue besides the interests of the
reigning House of Denmark, and protested against "the dynastic, secret,
irresponsible engagements of our Foreign Office," which had in the first
place assigned these German men and women to a Danish Government. He
emphasized the need that all diplomatists should attend to "the question of
nationalities--the instinct, now so powerful, leading communities to seek
to live together, because they are of the same race, language, and
religion.... There will never again, in all probability, be a conference
meeting together to dispose, for dynastic purposes, of a population whose
wishes they do not take into account."[279] The Government contrived to
remain in office until Palmerston died, and the maintenance of the rights
of nations fell into the hands of people who were as ardent as himself, and
much more wise.


On the whole, the foreign policy of Palmerston had been more ostentatious
than wise, and its failures were as conspicuous as its successes. But in
one quarter he and Lord John Russell together by their boldness rendered
invaluable service to a struggling nationality. The Treaty of Vienna had
operated nowhere so vilely as in Italy. The whole country had been
parcelled out between Governments, some of whom were alien and others
barbarous. The kingdom of Sardinia and Piedmont was Italian. Lombardy and
Venetia were Austrian. In the middle, the Pope misgoverned one-third of the
people. The last third was oppressed in Naples and Sicily by a King of the
House of Bourbon. The rising of 1848 had been suppressed by French troops
at Rome and by Austrian troops in Lombardy. But in 1860 the zeal and
devotion of Italian men and women of all classes won a final victory, and
it was England's privilege to assist at this great awakening, the birth of
that new Italy which died the other day in Tripoli. By a series of
miraculous victories, Garibaldi drove the Bourbons out of Sicily and
Naples, and Vittorio Emmanuele marched down through the Papal States to
meet him. The Powers watched this uprising of a people with mixed feelings.
Austria, France, Prussia, and Russia expressed their emphatic disapproval.
Lord John behaved like a Whig whose fire the Manchester School had not
quenched. In a dispatch written on the 27th October, 1860, he supported the
new Italian system. He quoted Vattel with point: "When a people from good
reasons take up arms against an oppressor, it is but an act of justice and
generosity to assist brave men in the defence of their liberties." The
question was whether the Italian rising had taken place for good reasons.
"Upon this grave matter Her Majesty's Government hold that the people in
question are themselves the best judges of their own affairs.... Such
having been the causes and concomitant circumstances of the Revolution in
Italy, Her Majesty's Government can see no sufficient grounds for the
severe censure with which Austria, France, Prussia, and Russia have visited
the acts of the King of Sardinia. Her Majesty's Government turn their eyes
rather to the gratifying prospect of a people {227} building up the edifice
of their liberties, and consolidating the work of their independence, amid
the sympathies and good wishes of Europe." All the noble temper which had
been wasted on Turkey, Poland, and Denmark was concentrated with triumphant
success in this dispatch. The despotic Powers held their hands, and the
Italian nation was enabled to work out its own destiny.

One more controversy arose during the Palmerston era, and it tested English
Liberalism as severely as any other. This was the American Civil War, which
broke out in 1861 and continued until 1864. It was easy for a Liberal to
find a logical reason for taking either side. He might support the North,
because it was fighting to suppress slavery. He might support the South,
because it was fighting for local independence against a central tyranny.
The States were all legally independent except for certain common purposes
of defence. It was thus very plausibly argued that it was the duty of a
Liberal to support the South in its claim to secede from the Union which
interfered with its internal affairs. Though it was not the business of
England to go to war with the North, it could easily be squared with the
doctrines of men like Canning that she should formally recognize the
independence of the South as soon as it appeared to be achieved. When the
issues were thus confused, English statesmen were dangerously vague in
their language and their conduct. Toryism and the governing class took the
side of the South, which in its aristocratic temper differed from the North
much as they themselves differed from the Manchester School. Russell and
Gladstone took the false Liberal view, and inclined towards recognition.
The Manchester men were severely injured by the blockade of the Southern
ports and the consequent dearth of cotton, and many of them may have hoped,
even against their convictions, that the Government would take such an easy
way of ending the war. The situation was highly dangerous. The North were
fighting for national unity. They were fighting to keep within the Union
people who wanted to secede only to maintain the most infamous of all human
institutions save one. The war was not a war between nations. The
Southerners were {228} a class, not a people. The war was a war between two
civilizations, one based on free labour, the other on slavery. The
intervention of England would have meant war on behalf of the bad old
system against that which was most in harmony with her own. So long as the
issue in the States was doubtful the risk remained. Confederate privateers
were fitted out in English ports, and the Government was scandalously
remiss in taking steps to stop them. Mr. Gladstone in 1862 made an
indiscreet speech which hinted at recognition, and the American Ambassador
nearly sent in his papers. The one public man who kept his head cool and
his vision clear was John Bright, who spoke unceasingly against the
approval of slavery. But it was reserved for some nameless men and women to
make the noblest display of wisdom which came from England during the war.
The condition of the people of Lancashire would have been little worse than
it was if every one of their cotton-mills had been swept from the face of
the earth. Practically the whole of the cotton operatives and their
families lived for months together upon charity. If any had cause to
clamour for recognition and the defeat of the North, it was they. But in
the midst of their distress this magnificent race stood by its principles.
No saint or philosopher ever betrayed a greater fortitude than these poor
and simple workfolk. While the merchant princes of Liverpool clamoured for
war, and sent their clerks to howl at Henry Ward Beecher when he pleaded
the cause of the North, the suffering populace of East Lancashire made no
complaint. At one meeting at Manchester they even passed a resolution of
sympathy with the North. This is probably the noblest thing that has ever
been done in the world. It is not uncommon for men and women, in the
excitement of war and in defence of their homes and children, to sacrifice
themselves and all they have. But the act of the Lancashire workfolk was
done in cold blood, and in defiance of every natural impulse. There is
nothing more majestic in human records than the spectacle of these starving
men and women, gathered in the very shadow of their dark and silent mills
to encourage those whose success meant the continuing of their own
miseries. The {229} use of such a people as this in support of the Southern
States would have been a monstrous crime. The final triumph of the North
saved the Government from such a fatal error and made the recognition of
the independence of the South unnecessary by making it impossible.

       *       *       *       *       *




The Palmerston era was now at an end, and that of Gladstone was beginning.
The first had been a period of domestic indifference and external
agitation. Energy at home and restraint abroad were the marks of the first
Liberal Ministry. The dominating force in practical politics was a man who
derived his principles from a mixture of sound stocks. A temperate foreign
policy, a rigorous economy in expenditure, and a dislike of commercial
interference and restriction he had inherited from Sir Robert Peel.
Beginning his career as a strong Churchman, he had gradually acquired the
old Whig liberality in religious matters. "I think it," he wrote in 1865,
"a most formidable responsibility in these times to doubt any man's
character on account of his opinions. The limit of possible variation
between character and opinion, ay, between character and belief, is
widening, and will widen."[280] To belief in popular government he seems to
have approached of his own nature, and he shared with Bright the honours of
leadership in the new agitation for Reform. His party was compounded in
much the same way of the different schools, old Whig doctrines of freedom
of opinion, Palmerston's enthusiasm for nationalities, and the Manchester
School's dislike of foreign affairs and preference for domestic interests
combining in a general theory of individual and national liberty, which for
the first time approached complete Liberalism. In two directions {231} the
policy of the new school of thought showed a distinct advance upon any of
its predecessors. Its conception of freedom was less pedantic than that of
Benthamites or Manchester men, and it was not afraid to imitate the methods
of State interference which Tory philanthropy alone had previously ventured
to employ. This new spirit combined with the regard for nationalities to
produce an entirely novel policy in Ireland, where peculiar diseases were
at last met with peculiar remedies.

The policy of economic reconstruction, which was first seriously undertaken
by the Liberal Ministry of 1868, was undertaken largely in response to
pressure from a new section of society. The Reform Act of 1832 had
enfranchised the £10 householder. The Representation of the People Act of
1867 enfranchised every town-dweller who paid rates. The first gave power
to the middle class. The second gave power to the working class. The
artisans, whose political agitation had died out in the Chartist movement
of 1848, had devoted their energies since that date to the development of
their industrial organizations. In 1863 Holyoake started an "Association
for the Promotion of Co-operation," and in 1869 the Co-operative Societies
had a total capital of £2,000,000, and an annual trade of £8,000,000. A
similar growth had taken place in the case of Trade Unions. Between 1855
and 1865 the numbers of Trade Unionists seem to have been more than
doubled, and Unions which in 1870 contained 142,000 members, had 266,000 in
1875.[281] This form of organization was even more directly political than
co-operation in the manufacture or supply of goods. It was frequently
brought into conflict with legal theories about conspiracy, restraint of
trade, intimidation, and breach of contract; and the necessity of amending
the existing law was apparent.

This growth of organizations had produced a great increase of intelligence
and influence among the better sort of working men. In thus managing
affairs on a large scale, they had developed a capacity for political
control which was very different from the vaguer discontent of an earlier
generation. They were now {232} organized and disciplined, and their demand
for enfranchisement could no longer be ignored or despised. The American
Civil War had aroused their interest in politics, and the fortitude with
which some of them had borne the sufferings of the time had done much to
disarm opposition. Bright's agitation at last found a response, and in 1866
the Whig Government introduced a Reform Bill. The Ministry, deprived of
Palmerston, collapsed before the Bill could be carried, and by a cynical
sacrifice of the very Tory principles which had defeated the Whig Bill, the
Tory Ministry of Lord Derby and Disraeli passed the Bill of 1867 into law.
With the Tory leader himself supporting the Bill, the voice of Toryism was
not loudly raised against it. Lord Robert Cecil, who soon afterwards became
Lord Salisbury, was the most bitter of the independent men behind Disraeli,
and he was rivalled, if not surpassed, by the Radical Robert Lowe. Party
discipline kept most of the Tories quiet, and there was no general
opposition on the other side. Disraeli cared little for his own Bill,
except as a means of "dishing the Whigs," and Gladstone and Bright were the
real champions of the measure, in and out of Parliament. "The working men,"
said the latter, "in thinking over this question, feel they are distrusted,
that they are marked as inferiors, that they are a sort of pariahs."[282]
The former roused the contempt of Lord Cranborne by describing the workmen
as "our own flesh and blood." The issue, in short, was simply that of all
disputes about the franchise. Was the governing class for the time being to
admit that the other was capable of managing its own affairs, or was it to
declare that there was some essential difference between them which made
its own ascendancy necessary? Disraeli was not, in these matters, a Tory,
and with Liberal support he carried his Bill. It was a job, without any
genuine enthusiasm to inspire it, but it had its Liberal effect. The
artisans obtained fuller control over their own lives, and the Liberal
Government which they set up in 1868 expressed for the first time the
wishes of their class in legislation.


It is necessary at this point to refer to two forces which were acting upon
the political machine. The first, Socialism, was a diffused influence,
operating among the working classes. The other, the teaching of John Stuart
Mill, was a definite intellectual impulse, which worked directly upon the
minds of men of education. Socialism has never been accepted as a creed by
the majority of British working men, and its hard, logical reasoning will
probably always prove as alien to them as Philosophic Radicalism was to the
middle class. It had been expressed for a short time in the co-operative
experiment of Robert Owen, and it came into prominence at the time of the
French Revolution of 1830. But its direct proclamation that the system of
private capital meant the abuse of wage-earners, and that it was only where
the whole people owned and controlled the means of production,
distribution, and exchange that the poorer section could get economic
security, was never popular. The Chartist movement had a purely political
programme of annual Parliaments, payment of members, the ballot, and other
constitutional reforms. Practical Socialism, the direct interference of the
State in order to improve economic conditions, was concentrated after the
Reform Act of 1832 in the Tory philanthropists. Lord Shaftesbury hated
Socialism as a creed. But in opposing a Secular Education Bill of 1850 he
used the very arguments by which Socialists justified their demand for the
nationalization of capital: "The honourable and learned member seemed to
think that crime was to be traced in almost all instances to want of
education; no doubt that was in many cases a source of crime, but it was
not the only, nor the chief source. Want of employment was the source of a
vast proportion of crime. The condition in which the people lived, the
influences to which they were subjected, the sunken and immoral state of a
vast number of parents, rendered it next to impossible to produce any
permanent improvement in many brought into our schools; and so long as you
should leave the condition of your great towns, in all their sanitary,
social, and domestic arrangements, such as at present, a large proportion
of your efforts would be vain, {234} and the education you could give
nearly fruitless."[283] This was not Socialism. But it was the recognition
of the fact that the individual would have no chance of honest growth
unless society co-operated to improve the conditions in which he lived.

The general attitude of legislators towards the spirit of Socialism was
very different. The Tories were largely moved to oppose it by its alliance
with free thought. In 1833 the Bishop of Exeter formally moved that the
Government should take steps to suppress it. The Bishop of London said that
"The Government, as a Christian Government, were called upon in the
exercise of their parental functions to interpose a shield between these
pernicious doctrines and the minds of those who were more than the rest of
society liable to the dominion of passion."[284] Wellington gravely
referred to the "atrocious character" of the Socialist Associations, which
decoyed the people away from church by inviting them to Sunday dances. The
Whig Ministry then declined to interfere with the propagation of any
opinions, however obnoxious. But their intellectual hostility was as marked
as that of Wellington himself. In 1852, after the French Revolution of
1848, with its disastrous attempt to provide work for all at the expense of
the State, had brought the new doctrines again into prominence, Macaulay
declined with great vigour to have anything to do with "Fourierism, or St.
Simonianism, or Socialism, or any of those other 'isms,' for which the
plain English word is 'robbery.'"[285] Whigs and Tories, whatever their
opinions about free thought, were at least united in their determination to
brook no interference with private property.

The real English Socialism was of a more practical kind than the
doctrinaire Socialism of Continental thinkers like Lassalle and Marx. The
chief spokesman was Thomas Carlyle, who was a philosopher rather than a
politician, and rather created a {235} new spirit in men than contrived for
them any practical expedients. He never concealed his contempt for the
ordinary politician, and had more in common with a Tory like Shaftesbury
than with Whigs, Radicals, or political workmen.

The Whigs were "the grand dilettanti" or "lukewarm, withered mongrels." The
Radicals were "ballot-boxing on the graves of heroic ancestors." The mass
of the people were "the rotten multitudinous canaille," and manhood
suffrage was as reasonable as "horsehood and doghood suffrage." The world
could only be saved by the hero, and the best thing mankind could do was to
entrust itself to the unfettered genius of its great men. All this, and
much more wild abuse sprang from Carlyle's violent indignation against
individualism. He had no respect either for the aristocratic neglect of the
Whigs or for the philosophical basis of the school of _laissez faire_. For
the conception of society as a collection of competing individuals,
protected in their competition by the State, he endeavoured to substitute a
conception of society as a mass of mutually dependent individuals, united
by "organic filaments," the weaker aided and protected by the State against
the competition of the stronger, and the whole rising and falling,
advancing and retreating together. "Call that yet a society," he exclaimed,
"where there is no longer any social idea extant; not so much as the idea
of a Common Home, but only of a common overcrowded Lodging House? Where
each isolated, regardless of his neighbour, turned against his neighbour,
clutches what he can get, and cries 'Mine,' and calls it Peace, because in
the cut-purse and cut-throat scramble no steel knives but only a far
cunninger sort can be employed."[286] This is not scientific Socialism,
with its logical formulæ, the evolution of economic structures, the
ultimate nationalization of all the means of production, distribution and
exchange, and the rest. But it is a passionate appeal, in the very spirit
of Socialism, to the sense of brotherhood, to the feeling that every man
has as much right as every other not to be left behind in the race of
industrial {236} competition, and that the State, the organization of
Society for common purposes, should not be confined merely to negative
functions, but should be made the active and positive instrument of the
improvement of human life.

Carlyle presented a curious contrast of the aristocrat and the democrat.
His feeling was all for the people. But it was to be carried into practical
effect by despotic or oligarchic methods. No man ever saw more clearly the
miseries of poverty, or felt more acutely the degradation of worth by
external circumstances. "Through every living soul the glory of a present
God still beams." But he was convinced that misery could not be entrusted
with the instruments of its own relief. The two habits of mind, the
sympathetic and the disposing, were in him united. His contempt for
political democracy was bound up with his zeal for social democracy, his
recognition of the equal worth of all with his determination not to give
them equal power. The generation in which he wrote based all its hopes upon
politics. Political reform was everything. Once enfranchised, the
population would be able to protect itself against aggression, and its
distress would come automatically to an end. Carlyle saw, what the Whigs,
the Radicals, and the Manchester men could not or would not see, that this
negative operation of the vote, this power of defence against interference
by others, was of little use for his immediate purpose, the economic
reconstruction of society, and he declared in his haste that it was of no
use. Political reform did not go deep enough, and Carlyle drove violently
into the camp of opposition. There was no hope except in the hero, the man
of extraordinary understanding and strength, who could both detect the
causes of human suffering and compel society to abate them.

It was this emotional appeal of Carlyle which made him such a powerful
force among thoughtful men and women, and especially among those whom
experience had made acquainted with the worst effects of the industrial
revolution. His hero-worship gave no little encouragement to the more
brutal sort of Toryism, and there are still many English people who believe
{237} that the history of a nation is only the biography of its great men.
But his insistence upon the direct responsibility of the social
organization for the happiness of every one within it was in the line of a
reaction against crude individualism, which by 1850 was strongly marked
outside Tory philanthropy. Mrs. Gaskell's _Mary Barton_, a novel which
dealt sympathetically with industrial unrest, was published in 1848.
Harriet Martineau, identified with Whiggery and the Manchester School,
wrote in 1849 of the state of the wage-earners: "A social idea or system
which compels such a state of things as this must be, in so far, worn out.
In ours, it is clear that some renovation is wanted, and must be
found."[287] In 1850 the Christian Socialist movement in the Church of
England produced the _Tracts on Christian Socialism_ and Charles Kingsley's
novel _Alton Locke_. Dickens published his _Hard Times_ in 1854, and
constantly attacked the system of _laissez faire_ in the columns of
_Household Words_. Ruskin, with less political instinct, pleaded as
passionately for beauty in common life as for ethical principles in art,
and, like his master Carlyle, clothed his economic sermons in a style which
put the cold reasoning of individualism to shame. Even Disraeli, who
combined unusual moral levity with an unusual capacity for discovering the
set of social currents, gave utterance to similar opinions in _Sybil_ and
other novels. By the time that the working men were enfranchised in 1867,
the Parliamentary work of Lord Shaftesbury was being accompanied by a
general movement in society. Negative Liberalism, the removal of
restrictions upon the individual, had obviously produced little direct good
among the poorer people. It was time that humane and generous impulses in
the direction of positive assistance had their way. The difference between
the new Liberalism and the old was the difference between emancipation and
toleration, between leaving alone and setting free.

The influence of John Stuart Mill was not so much in the direction of
definite changes in society as in the direction of {238} an alteration of
mental processes by which such changes became possible. Liberal thinkers
like Paine and Bentham had assailed the human mind from without, clamouring
about its gates with completely fashioned ideas, which they endeavoured to
thrust into it by a sort of intellectual assault. They had no doubts of
their own rightness or of the duty of others to agree with them. Mill,
chiefly through his acquaintance with the evolutionary ideas of Comte, was
of a more tolerant disposition, and preferred to adopt the method of
getting to understand how his adversary's error had arisen, and of
persuading him, as it were, to retrace his steps, and by choosing another
road, arrive at a sounder conclusion. His book on Logic was an attempt to
alter the prevailing system of intuitional philosophy, by which he believed
that prejudices and the dictates of interest were assumed to be absolute
truths, and to substitute for it a system in which every idea might be
thoroughly examined and tested before it was adopted. In other words, he
proposed to do with the conceptions of philosophy what Bentham proposed to
do with institutions, to accept none, except on their merits. He thus hoped
to produce, not definitely new ideas, but a condition of mind to which new
ideas would not be repugnant. This method of undermining his adversary's
position was his method in politics as in general philosophy.

Mill was the son of a Utilitarian, and was himself a disciple of Bentham.
But he never accepted the Benthamite theory without qualification. He knew
that men were actuated by other motives, good and bad, than self-interest.
He did not believe that by setting all men free to pursue their own
interest the majority would achieve happiness. He did not believe that it
was enough in politics to enfranchise every person of twenty-one years of
age, or that a democracy might not be guilty of as abominable tyranny as a
despot or an oligarchy. He held most of the Benthamite principles, as
forming the best working philosophy, but he never supposed that they would
not require safeguards against abuse, or would inevitably produce the
desired result. Bentham said, "This individual is actuated by this {239}
motive; apply this remedy to his condition, and he will develop himself to
this point." Mill said, "This individual seems to be actuated by various
motives, of which this seems to be the most important, his history and the
experience of other individuals suggests that if this remedy is applied to
his condition he will tend to develop himself to this point. I will
therefore make the experiment." Bentham was always confident and dogmatic.
Mill was never more than patient and hopeful.

Mill in effect combined the qualities of the historical and the critical
schools of thought. His was not the vigorous hammering method of previous
Liberals, but a cold, illuminating, and suggestive examination, which gave
full credit to the existing institution, even while it displayed its
defects. He asked, "How has it grown?" as earnestly as "How does it work?"
and he lamented the indifference of his predecessors to history. "No one
can calculate what struggles, which the cause of improvement has yet to
undergo, might have been spared if the philosophers of the eighteenth
century had done anything like justice to the past."[288] Every institution
is to be studied historically, though it must be justified empirically. If
it is bad in use, it must be reformed or abolished, but the change must be
made along the line of past growth. What he said of the position of women
he applied to every other problem. "The least that can be demanded is, that
the question should not be considered as prejudged by existing fact and
existing opinion, but open to discussion on its merits, as a question of
justice and expediency; the decision on this, as on any of the other social
arrangements of mankind, depending on what an enlightened estimate of
tendencies and consequences may show to be most advantageous to humanity in
general.... Through all the progressive period of human history, the
condition of women has been approaching nearer to equality with men. This
does not of itself prove that the assimilation must go on to complete
equality, but it assuredly affords some presumption that such is the
case."[289] This double view, combining the Radical view of Bentham with
the historical {240} view of Burke, enabled Mill to see his subject, as it
were, stereoscopically and in true relation with its surroundings. He was
not influenced by Darwin's theory of evolution. But his own work produced a
very similar effect. It made men accustomed to the idea of continuous
alteration, of future as well as past growth.

Mill was thus the most prominent thinker of a time in which old systems of
thought were being undermined. Natural science and the higher criticism
were breaking up the foundations of authority in religion, and Mill's
general method of dealing with habits of thought, no less than the direct
plea for free thinking and free speaking contained in his treatise on
_Liberty_, gave a wider scope to honest scepticism. He expressed approval
of some of the new Socialistic projects. He was in favour of compulsory
education, of the regulation of hours of labour, of Trade Unionism and
co-operation, and he looked forward to a time "when the division of the
produce of labour, instead of depending, as in so great a degree it now
does, on the accident of birth, will be made in concert on an acknowledged
principle of justice." The social problem of the future, he said, would be
"how to unite the greatest individual liberty of action with a common
ownership of the new material of the globe, and an equal participation of
all in the benefits of combined labour."[290] His most original
contribution to politics was his appeal for absolute equality of freedom
for men and women, which was the first effective attempt to remove the
class brand from women, and to abolish the aristocracy of sex. But his most
valuable work, as has already been suggested, was not so much to sow new
political ideas in the minds of his followers as to plough them for the
reception of such ideas. He did not so much start them along new paths as
set them to inquire whether they were right in remaining in the old, and
whether there was any real danger in leaving them. As solvents of
prejudice, Mill's works have not been surpassed by any. He promoted, not
change, but the readiness to change; not Liberal measures, but {241}
Liberal-mindedness. Thus persuaded to refrain from hasty judgments upon
opinions, and to accept every new idea upon its merits, the rising
generation applied itself to the working of the improved political machine.

The Liberalism of the Government which was in power from 1868 to 1874 was
displayed in the further application of old principles, no less than in the
adoption of principles which were new. Religious equality was expressed in
their Irish policy and in their treatment of education. Reforms in the
Civil Service and the Army abolished more class distinctions in the public
service. The new School Boards were another example of popular control of
Government. Acts dealing with Trade Unions and the ownership of Irish land
expressed the new theory of State interference with individual liberty, and
Acts referring to women marked a great appreciation of them in comparison
with men.

One old principle was the basis of the Ballot Act of 1872. This gave to
dependent persons the power of voting freely in the choice of their
representatives, without fear of landlords, employers, or customers. The
project was as old as the agitation for manhood suffrage, and was first
suggested in the days of Wilkes and the Society of the Friends of the Bill
of Rights. Other impediments to individual freedom were removed in 1870,
when all posts in the Civil Service, outside the Foreign Office, were
opened to competitive examination; and in 1871, when the system of
purchasing commissions in the Army was abolished. Two preserves of
aristocracy and wealth were thus thrown open to the people at large. Direct
aid was given to the poorer classes by the establishment of a national
system of education in 1870. This had been first suggested by Whitbread,
and gained the support of Bentham, the Whigs, and the Manchester School.
Tories like Lord Shaftesbury had been in favour of it so long as nothing
was done to limit the privileges of the Church, and there had been no
reason, other than indifference, why the parsimonious grants out of the
Exchequer should not {242} have been increased long before. By this time
the neglect of the poorer children and the complete failure of private
enterprise had become conspicuous. Two million children received no
education at all, one million received an education which was inadequate,
and only one million three hundred thousand were educated in schools aided
and inspected by the State.[291] The system was now made general, and the
local control was placed in the hands of School Boards, elected by the
ratepayers, and empowered to provide for the expenses of their districts by
levying a rate.

The old Liberal principle of equality between sects, implied in the Irish
Church Act, was expressed more simply in an Act of 1871, which abolished
all theological tests for professors, fellows, tutors, and scholars of
Oxford and Cambridge, except in the Theological Faculties. The exception
was a characteristic revelation of Mr. Gladstone's influence. If absolute
freedom of religious thinking is required more in one place than in
another, it is in a school of divinity. But the Churchman was still
involved in the Liberal Prime Minister, and the theological honours and
offices were left to the dominant creed. The exception was not of much
general importance, and the Act removed the principal disabilities which
had fettered the mind of the Universities no less than they had hindered
the education of Nonconformists. This Act was passed with little
opposition, even from the Lords. The great conflict of religious principle
took place over the Education Act, which, like most of its predecessors and
successors, might have been more aptly styled the "Religious Difficulty in
Schools Act." The problem was not educational at all. A substantial
majority of all parties would have agreed upon a scheme of national secular
education in a few hours. But the course of events had determined that the
children's minds should appear less important to Parliament than their

A logical Liberal, faced with the task of establishing a national system of
education, could take only the course which was {243} advocated by the
Birmingham League. That was to make education free, compulsory, and
secular. No one should pay for education except as a taxpayer, all should
be compelled to send their children to school, and no form of religious
opinion should be taught. This would have secured all the benefits of
secular learning and discipline, without compelling the member of one sect
to contribute to the propagation of the opinions of another, and without
compelling a child to be instructed in opinions which were obnoxious to its
parents. But it was impossible for logic to have its way. Schools had been
established in some districts for many years. The majority taught the
doctrines of the Establishment. Others were Wesleyan, others Unitarian,
others Catholic, others Jewish. Most of these had already enjoyed State
aid, though they had been built by voluntary subscription. It was
impossible to ignore their existence. It was impossible also to ignore the
fact that the majority of the English people, in a rough and ready way,
desired that some sort of religion should be taught in the schools. There
was no way out except in a compromise, and the difficulty thus acknowledged
has never yet been removed. State aid was given to sectarian schools as
well as Board Schools, and by the since famous Cowper Temple clause it was
provided that no distinctive religious formulary should be taught in a
Board School. This was not pure Liberalism. Nonconformists might object, as
they had always objected, to paying for the propagation of obnoxious
dogmas. Churchmen and Catholics might object, with equal reason, to paying
for the propagation of opinions which were obnoxious because they contained
no dogmas at all. Between the devil of dogma and the deep sea of
Nonconformity no English Government has yet found a way. But the sects have
had to live together in the country, and the compromise of 1870, though it
settled nothing, was as good an arrangement as could have been made at the

The Education Act was an obvious interference of Government with absolute
liberty, and the argument that this measure {244} of control was only
undertaken in order to equip the individual for the better enjoyment of
liberty was an argument which would have applied to Socialism itself. But
this Act was only a continuation of previous policy. The Trades Union Act
of 1871 was a contrivance of an entirely new sort, and the support given to
it by the Liberal Ministry meant a great change. Previous legislation had
marked an alteration in the attitude of the State towards combinations of
workmen, and the Act of 1871 carried the change a degree farther. The Acts
of 1799 and 1800 had prohibited Trade Unions. The Acts of 1824 and 1825 had
permitted them. The Act of 1871 protected them and gave them special
privileges. This was the direct consequence of pressure by organized
workmen, assisted by members of the middle class like Thomas Hughes and
Frederic Harrison. Decisions of the judges had tended to cripple labour
organizations by declaring strikes to be intimidation, and peaceful
picketing a nuisance, and by holding that workmen acting in combination
might be guilty of the crime of conspiracy, even though they did nothing
which would have been a crime in the case of a single person. One decision
had declared that a Trade Union, being an association in restraint of
trade, was illegal, and that an official who embezzled its funds could not
be sued by the Society.

These judicial attacks were only part of a campaign which was now being
waged against the whole system of Trade Unionism. The workmen were
beginning to make their strength felt, and the old legal dislike of
interference with liberty joined with the less disinterested objections of
employers to anything which interfered with their power to do as they liked
with their capital and their labourers. Some serious outrages, committed by
the smaller organizations of a few towns like Sheffield and Manchester,
gave colour to the general indictment of combinations of this sort. As a
matter of fact nothing stood between the most moral and responsible workmen
and exploitation by the worse sort of masters but his Trade Union. Absolute
freedom to sell his labour as he pleased meant for the ordinary workman
absolute freedom to be abused by an economic superior. The Trade {245}
Union was the workman's only means of obtaining security of life. "Any one
who regards it as a simple instrument to raise wages," wrote Mr. Frederic
Harrison, "is, as Adam Smith says, 'as ignorant of the subject as of human
nature.' Unionism, above all, aims at making regular, even, and safe the
workman's life. No one who had not specially studied it would conceive the
vast array of grievances against which Unionism and strikes are directed.
If we looked only to that side of the question, we should come to fancy
that from the whole field of labour there went up one universal protest
against injustice. There is a 'miserable monotony' of wrong and suffering
in it. Excessive labour, irregular labour, spasmodic overwork, spasmodic
locking-out, 'overtime,' 'short time,' double time, night work, Sunday
work, truck in every form, overlookers' extortion, payment in kind, wages
reduced by drawbacks, 'long pays,' or wages held back, fines,
confiscations, rent and implements irregularly stopped out of wages,
evictions from tenements, 'black lists' of men, short weights, false
reckoning, forfeits, children's labour, women's labour, unhealthy labour,
deadly factories and processes, unguarded machinery, defective machinery,
preventable accidents, recklessness from desire to save,--in countless ways
we find a waste of human life, health, well-being, and power, which are not
represented in the ledgers or allowed for in bargains."[292] In other
words, the law, by a pedantic application of rules of abstract liberty, was
depriving workmen of real liberty. Liberty of contract did not mean liberty
of life, and it was only by sacrificing individual freedom to the common
good in organization that real freedom was to be secured.

The Act of 1871 partly remedied the evil. Trade Unions, if there were
nothing criminal in their expressed objects, were allowed to be registered,
and could then enjoy the rights over their funds which were possessed by
Friendly Societies. But they were given absolute freedom in their internal
organization, and no action at law could be brought against them. These
changes in {246} the law were unfortunately almost nullified by a Criminal
Law Amendment Act which practically gave statutory force to many of the
recent legal decisions. Strikes were made legal, but everything done in
pursuance of a strike was illegal, and working men and women were
frequently imprisoned after 1871 for the most trivial acts, even while the
serious boycotting of workpeople by employers was freely permitted. It is a
great blot on the reputation of the Government, still dominated by the
middle class and its dislike of combination, that it refused to complete
the work which it had begun, and to enable Trade Unions not only to exist,
but to work. At the General Election of 1874 two workmen, Alexander
Macdonald and Thomas Burt, were actually elected to the House of Commons,
and the roused feeling of the Unionists gained its object. The Conservative
Home Secretary repealed the disabling Act, peaceful picketing was
legalized, and workmen in combination were no longer punishable except for
acts which were criminal if committed by single individuals. The strength
gained by the Unions in this brief campaign finally established them in the
industrial and political life of the country. The political reforms did not
directly improve the condition of the working classes. But many, if not
all, the improvements which subsequently took place, were only possible in
the state of real freedom which the Acts of 1871 and 1874 had established.

One attempt to interfere with the absolute liberty of the individual
failed. This was the Licensing Bill of 1871, which proposed to reduce the
number of public-houses in the country. The departure from the old line was
very marked. There had never been absolute freedom of trade in strong
drink. From the earliest years alehouses had been licensed and supervised
by magistrates. But their numbers in all parts of the country were more
than was required for any reasonable consumption by the population. In
Liverpool a disastrous experiment had been tried. Licences had been granted
to every person of good character who chose to apply, on the assumption
that unrestricted competition would lead to good management and the
extinction of the worst class of house by competition. A principle which
was abundantly {247} successful in the cotton industry proved a helpless
failure in the drink trade. There was no unhealthy demand for cotton goods.
It did not depend on a natural instinct which might be increased by supply
beyond the needs of health. To multiply drink-shops was to multiply, for
many of the people who dealt with them, the temptations to demoralizing
excess of consumption. The Liverpool experiment showed the folly of
_laissez faire_ in a matter of this sort. The Licensing Bill of 1871
expressed the opposite policy. It proposed to reduce the number of houses
in each district to that which the justices thought was enough for its
legitimate needs. The licences, though generally renewed, were granted for
one year only. For ten years they were to be continued, subject to a small
annual payment by the licensees. After the expiration of that period the
justices were to fix the number for the district, and, in virtue of the
artificial monopoly which the licences conferred, were to distribute them
among such respectable persons as offered the highest prices. These
proposals were as vigorous an interference with individual liberty as was
consistent with existing rights. The holders of licences had no legal right
to more than a year's profits from their licences. Custom had given them an
expectancy of indefinite length. The public interest required that their
numbers should be reduced. Reduction was therefore proposed, but after a
substantial delay. The scheme was just in principle and generous in
practice. But the extreme advocates of temperance legislation objected to
its generosity, and the brewers and licensed victuallers objected to its
justice. The Home Secretary, Mr. Bruce, was not strong enough to carry it.
It was abandoned soon after its introduction, and a priceless opportunity
of at once improving the conditions of town life and of subduing a powerful
trade interest to the public was lost for ever.

The most difficult of the Ministry's problems was the Irish problem, and
the most novel of its proposals were its Irish proposals. Judged by the
degree of their success, these measures were perhaps not very important. At
least, they did not settle the affairs of Ireland. But their spirit was of
the greatest possible {248} significance. This Liberal Government was the
first English Government which ever set itself to legislate for Ireland
according to Irish ideas, to recognize the essential differences between
the two countries, to establish in Ireland what it would not maintain in
England, and to destroy in Ireland those English institutions which had
been erected by the egoism of its predecessors. The existing system was
recognized as hopeless. In February, 1868, the Tory Government suspended
the Habeas Corpus Act for the fourth time in two years. Fenianism was
checked, but the disease of which it was a symptom was not cured. The
Liberals endeavoured to go to the root of the matter. The maintenance of
order was only a condition of further action, and the only possible further
action was the redress of grievances.

The case of Ireland had for a long time caused anxiety to Liberal thinkers.
In 1835 Cobden had contrasted England's readiness to sympathize with Poland
and Greece with her complete indifference to the claims of Ireland. "Whilst
our diplomatists, fleets, and armies have been put in motion at enormous
cost, to carry our counsel, or, if needful, our arms, to the assistance of
the people of these remote regions, it is an unquestionable fact, that the
population of a great portion of our own Empire has, at the same time,
presented a grosser spectacle of moral and physical debasement than is to
be met with in the whole civilized world."[293] Disraeli in 1844 declared
that it was the duty of an English Minister "To effect by his policy all
those changes which a revolution would accomplish by force."[294] In 1847
Bright pointed to the root cause: "There is an unanimous admission now that
the misfortunes of Ireland are connected with the question of the
management of the land."[295] The rejection of Peel's Bill of 1845 has
already been noticed. The only measure passed for the relief of Irish
tenants since that date was the Encumbered Estates Act of 1849. This had
provided State assistance for the sale of hopelessly mortgaged estates. Its
chief result had been to substitute for a thriftless but easy-going gentry
{249} a company of grasping absentees, who rack-rented their tenants
without mercy, where their predecessors had at any rate let them alone. The
state of the Irish peasantry, even though the pressure of population had
been greatly reduced by famine and emigration, was substantially worse in
1868 than it had been in 1845. The violence of Fenianism, murder and armed
rescue at Manchester, and gunpowder plot at Clerkenwell, at last drew
attention to a state of affairs in which there was nothing new except the
degree of its badness.

Before the Liberals dealt with the land question, they turned their
attention to the other great Irish grievance, the establishment of an alien
Church. This was one of those matters of sentiment which, between
conquering and conquered peoples, produce the most deadly and incurable
animosities. The Irish Church had been established for the express purpose
of prosecuting the English cause. It embodied and symbolized the alien
domination. It perpetuated the memories of a thousand massacres and
confiscations. In the language of John Bright, it was "a garrison Church
... the effect has been to make Catholicism in Ireland not only a faith,
but absolutely a patriotism." Every clergyman "is necessarily in his
district a symbol of the supremacy of the few and of the subjection of the
many."[296] In its presence every Catholic Irishman felt himself a member
of a conquered race, and every economic grievance was exaggerated. To
invest the alien Church with the privileges of Establishment was to rub
salt into the wounds of Ireland.

The Tories resisted the Liberal Bill partly on proprietary grounds. They
treated a corporation, created for the propagation of certain opinions, a
task in which it had conspicuously failed, as if it were a private person,
and denounced disendowment as robbery. The Liberals contended that the
State had endowed the Church, and that on the failure of the Church to
provide for the spiritual needs of the Irish people, it was fair that the
State should resume part of the property and apply it for other purposes.
But the details of disendowment are hardly material. The {250} essence of
the Bill was that it tended to destroy the ascendancy of Protestantism as
against Catholicism, and of Englishmen as against Irishmen. Gathorne Hardy
put the Tory case on this point in one sentence. He said that he looked
upon the Church "as a part of the Imperial Government."[297] Sergeant Dowse
stated the Liberal case in reply. "The Irish people regarded that Church as
a great wrong and a standing memorial of conquest.... Nobody ever said the
measure would lead to social equality. But in future a Bishop or Dean would
no longer be preferred over a Bishop or Dean of the Catholic or minister of
the Presbyterian Church, and in that way, at least, an important removal of
social distinctions would be effected." He reminded his hearers that on the
anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne orange flags were hoisted on the
spires of State churches, and described them as "the badge of degradation
to the vast majority of the Irish people. Protestant ascendancy did exist,
as long as one Church was patronized and preferred above another Church
either of the whole or a portion of the people."[298] The Bill was carried
into law after a hard fight with the House of Lords. It did not entirely
destroy the insolence of Irish Protestants or allay all the discontents of
the peasantry. But it was an earnest of the disposition of an English
Government to legislate for the Irish people as they would have legislated
for themselves.

The sentimental grievance having been removed, the Liberals turned to the
practical grievance. The Irish Land Act of 1870 provided that the tenant
should receive compensation for his improvements, and unless the contrary
were proved, it was to be presumed that all improvements were his, and not
the landlord's. If a tenant were evicted, he was to be compensated for
disturbance, unless the eviction were for non-payment of rent, and even
then the court might hold that the exorbitant amount demanded, or other
circumstances, entitled him to special compensation. No tenant who paid
less than £50 a year could contract out of the Act. Two great principles
were expressed in this measure. The first was that of the Church Act, the
{251} Irish government of Ireland. The second was the new collectivism. The
Act not only alleviated the great hardship of the Irish tenants, it was a
direct interference by the State with the right of property and with
freedom of contract. The absolute owner of land was no longer allowed to
deal with it as he pleased without compensating those to whom he leased it,
and a poor tenant was expressly prevented from agreeing to his own injury.
Utilitarianism and _laissez faire_ had ceased to dominate the Liberal mind,
and liberty was deliberately restricted in one direction that it might
expand more readily in another. Where one party was rich and the other
poor, where one held land in his absolute disposition and the other could
not live without it, freedom of bargaining meant the lessening of liberty.
This principle, suggested in the Factory Acts, and first openly applied to
the problem of Irish land, is now the distinctive character of Liberal
domestic policy.

A phenomenon of this period as remarkable as the appearance of Socialistic
ideas is the direction of the attention of Parliament to the affairs of
women. One or two Acts had dealt with the condition of working women as
with that of working children, and they had been excluded altogether from
the brutalizing labour of mines. But the general status of the sex, as
compared with that of men, had remained unaltered since the accession of
George III. Beneath the surface of politics a substantial improvement had
taken place. The first condition of emancipation was that women themselves
should be enabled to demand it. The carefully fostered ignorance of the
eighteenth century was now being gradually reduced by improvements in
education. The vast majority of middle-class women still received a mental
training which was infinitely inferior to that of men. But a few schools,
of which those of Miss Buss in North London and Miss Dorothea Beale at
Cheltenham were the most conspicuous, had begun to substitute a scientific
training of the mind for the futile cultivation of graces and
accomplishments. Bedford College and Queen's College in London provided
{252} similar training for girls who had passed the school age, and in 1870
the first women's college at Cambridge was established by Anne Jemima
Clough. A few books had been published by women, who claimed the same
freedom of development for the individual woman as all Liberals required
for the individual man. The public distinctions of women like George Eliot,
the Brontës, Mary Somerville, Harriet Martineau, and Florence Nightingale
had accustomed society to the idea of vigorous female independence.
Elizabeth Blackwell and Elizabeth Garrett had already contrived to squeeze
themselves, in the face of every kind of opposition, into the medical
profession, and soon after the Liberal victory of 1868 Sophia Jex-Blake
began that extraordinary struggle at Edinburgh which at last ended in the
defeat of male jealousy and the admission of women to medical schools and
medical degrees. In all directions women of the middle class were beginning
to assert their right to develop their own faculties and to employ their
own powers according to their own ideas of what was right and fitting, and
not according to those of the dominant sex.

This movement among women was only part of the general movement towards
individual freedom from external control which is described in these pages.
The ruling sex was as little capable of understanding the part as the Tory
of the French Revolution had been of understanding the whole. But the real
Liberal had no difficulty in discovering and in comprehending the movement
of women, and the most conspicuous Liberal thinker of the time attacked
sexual Toryism as he attacked the Toryism of class or creed. Mill's
_Subjection of Women_, published in 1869, applied to the condition of women
precisely those arguments which, in other works, he applied to that of men.
The question must be studied with an open mind, and not subject to a priori
assumptions. Why should it be presumed that dependence and feebleness of
mind were natural to women? Why should it be presumed that it was natural
that men should regulate even the private lives of women? Why should it be
presumed that a woman was naturally incapable of managing her own affairs?
{253} These propositions, which had perhaps been true in a barbarous
society, could only be proved in a state of civilization by reason and
argument. Until women had had some opportunity of exerting their natural
powers in a state of independence, it was absurd to argue that those
natural powers were not equal to independence. An arbitrary standard,
convenient to the interest of the dominant sex, had been erected for women,
and they had been carefully trained up to it. Delicacy of mind and body,
diffidence and self-effacement, superficial and unscientific learning had
been required of them, and it was not surprising that they had very rarely
attained to anything stronger. It was absurd to argue that women were
naturally incapable of intellectual exertion, of professional skill, or of
taking part in public affairs, when the whole scheme of their education had
been contrived to make them so incapable. The supposed weaknesses are at
best exaggerated by education, and it was not improbable that they had been
created by it. When everything possible had been done by artificial means
to strengthen their minds and bodies, we might be able to form some
accurate judgment of what their powers were. In any case, we had no right
to enforce a general mode of life upon all women, irrespective of their
individual variations. We no longer branded men with class marks, and
reserved special occupations and dignities for special groups. Why should
we persist in maintaining the same system for women? If there was only one
woman in England who was capable of practising as a doctor, it was her
right as an individual to be allowed to practise, and the incapacity of
every other of her sex was no reason for depriving her of her opportunity
of working out her own life. Every kind of school and college, every
occupation and profession, should be thrown open, and women should be
permitted, as men were permitted, each to find her own place, according to
her own natural capacity.

This was the ordinary argument of Liberalism, a plea for the substitution
of individual opportunity for class regulation. Mill went farther, as every
Liberal is bound to go, and claimed for women the same right to control
their own government as that {254} which he claimed for men. During the
debates on the Reform Bill of 1867 he actually moved an amendment providing
for the enfranchisement of women on the same terms as men. The respect with
which the House listened to his speech was accorded to the speaker rather
than to his argument, and it is only in very recent years that the
opposition to Woman Suffrage has ceased to be largely frivolous and even
obscene. In Mill's day the force outside Parliament was very weak, and it
was impossible that his proposals should succeed. Even among the middle and
upper classes only one woman in ten received a scientific mental training,
and many of the best educated were so far removed by circumstances from all
personal hardships that their sense of the common grievance was slight. But
the movement which Mill thus brought to the surface of politics was
essentially part of the great tide of individual emancipation which had
been flowing since the French Revolution, and pioneers like Lydia Becker
were already struggling with prejudice and prudery with some success. Women
were beginning to refuse, as Catholics, Dissenters, and workmen had
refused, to be treated in the State as a branded class. If the domination
of one class of men over another class of men had led to abuse, did not the
domination of one sex over another also lead to abuse? The deliberate
stunting of the female mind in education,[299] the exclusion of women from
the Universities and the professions, the gross inequalities sanctioned by
the new Divorce Act, the barbarity which stripped the wife on marriage of
all her property and even of the earnings of her own labour, and reduced
her to absolute physical and mental dependence upon her husband, all this
was the direct or indirect consequence of the political domination of the
male sex. Those who disposed of women in the State, disposed of them also
in the schools, in industry, and in the family. With excess of logic, the
early Woman Suffragists even opposed the restriction of women's labour by
{255} Factory Acts as if every such interference had been inspired by male

Most barbarous of all the grievances of women were the legal and
conventional rules which affected the moral relations of the sexes. In
nothing had the egoism of men been so remarkably displayed as in the
construction of these rules, and in the care with which they had concealed
the consequences from women. The progress of the movement in favour of
Woman Suffrage is precisely to be measured by the growth of women's
knowledge of the facts of sex, and in particular of the meaning of
prostitution. The general conspiracy of silence was at last being broken
up, and the new women were turning their new eyes upon the old facts. It
was at this time still common for medical men to recommend the practice of
vice to their men patients, and the practice of vice was an easy thing. A
child of thirteen might legally "consent" to her own dishonour, and the man
who used her for his pleasure could not be punished as a criminal. It was a
crime to abduct a young girl for the purpose of marrying her and so getting
control of her property. But it was not a crime to abduct her for the
purpose of keeping her in a brothel. It was a crime to keep a brothel. But
it was a crime because it was a nuisance to the public, not because it
meant the systematic degradation of women and girls. Their knowledge that
the law sanctioned, and that so much of male opinion encouraged, the abuse
of their sex for the indulgence of their political superiors was enough in
itself to direct the attention of earnest women to politics. But these
grievances were of ancient growth, and it might reasonably be pleaded that
ignorance and want of imagination alone prevented their remedy. A new
expression of the same disposing habit of mind showed that it had lost
nothing of its old vigour.

The subject of the Contagious Diseases Acts of 1866 and 1869 is dreadful to
contemplate and to describe. But its significance is so immense, and its
neglect by all ordinary historians is so marked, that it must be treated in
this book. The conflict between the disposing and the sympathetic minds,
between the {256} blind and largely unconscious egoism of a governing class
and the interest of its depreciated subjects, has never been elsewhere so
terribly illustrated. Prostitution has always been regarded by a male
society either as a danger or as a convenience. By such women as have known
of its existence it has been more justly considered as an example of
heartless oppression and abuse. Only a minority of the women who engage in
it are there out of their own choice. The great bulk of this trade, which
is now not improperly described as the White Slave Traffic, is supplied by
unwilling victims. They are entrapped in childhood, or in early youth, they
are corrupted by bad housing and overcrowding, they are betrayed by
seducers, or they are driven by starvation wages to earn their living on
the streets. Their condition is the most wretched of any people in the
world. No other trade is so dangerous to those who are employed in it, or
so quickly uses up their lives. No other trade so swiftly devours in its
workpeople those noble qualities of the mind which would enable them to
support the heaviest physical burdens. In prostitution everything is sooner
or later destroyed that most adorns body, mind, and soul.

For the victims of this traffic in flesh the Legislature had for long
provided nothing but fine and imprisonment, methods which were as useless
to deter the minority which was corrupt as they were powerless to save the
majority which was unfortunate. The Liberal could adopt only one course, to
attack the causes at their roots, to amend Statutes like the Divorce Act,
which sanctioned vice in men, to protect young girls by raising the age of
consent, and to impose penalties on those who exploited them, to improve
the conditions of housing and labour, and to raise wages. The Government
which was left in power by Palmerston, seeing prostitution only with male
eyes, made a fatal error. They set themselves, not to make prostitution
difficult for women, but to make it safe for men. The diseases produced by
vice were seriously injuring the health of the Army and Navy. The
Government did not attempt, as its successors have attempted, to reduce the
practice of vice among their servants. They took the easier {257} course of
recognizing and regulating what they thought they could not check. By the
Act of 1866, amended by the Act of 1869, they compelled the unfortunate
women in garrison towns to submit themselves periodically to medical
examination. The healthy were discharged. The diseased were compulsorily
detained in hospitals until they were cured, when they also were released
to continue the practice of their trade. The soldiers and sailors were
implicitly told that if they were careful to select one of these Government
women they could be vicious with impunity. The climax of the system was
reached in 1885, when the Commander-in-Chief in India instructed his
commanding officers to see that plenty of good-looking girls were provided
for their men, and that they had all proper facilities for practising their

Of the foul barbarity of this contrivance of the Legislature it is
difficult to write with moderation, even at this distance of time. It is
not suggested here that the majority of the men who were responsible were
animated by vicious motives. It was only another example of unimaginative
dullness legislating without responsibility. But the effect of deliberate
wickedness could not have been worse. The wretched were confirmed in
wretchedness. The degraded were thrust farther into the depths of
degradation. Thousands of human beings of the subject class, originally
guilty of nothing worse than poverty or a youthful lapse from principle,
were placed by the State at the disposal of the governing class for the
foulest purpose. It is a most vivid illustration of the rarity of complete
Liberalism, that the Contagious Diseases Acts remained on the Statute Book
for seventeen years, and that if they were in the first place smuggled
through Parliament, they were afterwards defended by men of all parties

A few politicians like James Stansfeld fought steadily in Parliament. But
the Parliamentary machine is so constructed, that when parties are divided
public causes fall to the ground. In this case, as in that of the repeal of
the Corn Laws, reform came by way of a struggle outside the walls of the
Legislature. {258} Mrs. Josephine Butler was the leader of the agitation.
Seventeen years of fighting against vested interests, against the medical
profession and the Army, against indifference, against active and
persecuting prudery, and against physical violence were required, and the
victory was not completed till 1886. But this long agony was of enormous
historical importance. It not only achieved its immediate object, the
repeal of the Acts and the further result of the passing of the Criminal
Law Amendment Act of 1885; its indirect effects were infinite. It was the
first organized effort on the part of women in their own political
interest. It extended to other parts of the world. It taught women,
irrespective of class and race, the value of solidarity. It stimulated the
demand for education, for better moral standards, for the franchise, for
everything which would enable women to control their own lives and to take
themselves out of the disposition of men. It was in fact the greatest
single stimulus to that vast social movement for the emancipation of women
which is to-day visible in every part of the world. No one can understand
the modern demand for Woman Suffrage who does not realize that the driving
force behind it is the increasing knowledge of prostitution which has
sprung from Mrs. Butler's agitation. Rightly or wrongly, the Suffragists
believe that political domination involves moral domination, and that
involuntary prostitution will exist so long as the regulation of women's
political affairs rests in the hands of men.

The Contagious Diseases Acts represented the extreme abuse of the male ego.
But the Liberal Government of 1868, which actually passed the second of the
two Acts, did not a little in other ways to improve the condition of women.
The Married Women's Property Act of 1870 protected the wife's earnings
against her husband, and permitted her to enjoy, for her own use, property
which she had acquired by inheritance. The Education Act of 1870 permitted
women to be elected as members of the new School Boards, and an Act of 1875
admitted them also to Boards of Guardians. These three Acts marked a
substantial rise in the social scale. They affected chiefly women of the
{259} richer classes. But the admissions which they implied were of
indefinite extent. Society had begun to look at the individual within the
family as it had begun to look at the individual within the class or sect.
The wife was acknowledged to be a separate individual from her husband, and
the presence of women on public bodies was a sufficient answer to the
argument that women should be confined to those duties which they could
only perform in association with men. Marriage had ceased to be the sole
object of a decent woman's life. In spite of the monstrous injustice of the
Contagious Diseases Acts, woman was being placed in Society, in some
measure at least, in accordance with her own worth, and not with the
assumptions of male egoism.

The foreign policy of the Government was conspicuously Liberal, and it was
justified by its results. Liberty was maintained and moral rules were
enforced without Palmerston's recklessness, and there were none of the acts
of petty bullying with which he had varied his tilting at tyrants. The
general outline of the new policy is contained in a memorandum addressed by
Mr. Gladstone to the Queen in 1871. He stated its principles to be "That
England should keep entire in her own hands the means of estimating her own
obligations upon the various states of facts as they arise; that she should
not foreclose and narrow her own liberty of choice, by declarations made to
other powers, in their real or supported interests, of which they would
claim to be joint interpreters; that it is dangerous for her to assume
alone an advanced, and therefore an isolated, position, in regard to
European controversies; that, come what may, it is better for her to
promise too little than too much; that she should not encourage the weak by
giving expectations of aid to resist the strong, but should rather seek to
deter the strong, by firm but moderate language, from aggression on the
weak; that she should seek to develop and mature the action of a common, or
public, or European opinion, as the best standing bulwark against wrong,
but should beware of seeming to lay down the law of that opinion by her own
authority, and thus running the risk of setting against {260} her, and
against right and justice, that general sentiment which ought to be, and
generally would be, arrayed in their favour. I am persuaded that opinions
of this colour are the only opinions which the country is disposed to
approve. But I do not believe that on that account it is one whit less
disposed than it has been at any time, to cast in its lot upon any fitting
occasion with the cause it believes to be right."[300]

This is a sort of middle between Palmerstonism and Cobdenism. It repudiates
the balance of power. It condemns isolated, single-handed war on behalf of
weak nations against strong, and emphasizes the necessity of international
co-operation. But it lays down no general rule of non-interference, it
justifies diplomatic protest against the immoral treatment of one nation by
another, and it admits that war may sometimes be right and necessary, even
when no specifically British interest is directly involved.[301] It is
probably as nearly a precise definition of Liberal policy as could be made
in connection with a matter where precision is extremely difficult.

Ministers were more than once severely tested during their term of office.
Lord Clarendon, the Foreign Secretary, made some attempt to suggest a
general reduction of armaments. The British forces had been considerably
diminished by the withdrawal of troops from the self-governing Colonies,
and expenditure on both the war services had been cut down. Lord
Clarendon's tentative advances were at least disinterested. He approached
the French Emperor and Bismarck. Each waited for the other to begin, and on
the 15th July, 1870, six months after the proposals were made, the outbreak
of the Franco-Prussian War supplied a tragically ironic comment on their
futility. The British Government suggested mediation, but without success,
and in another six months France was at the feet of her enemies. Sir Henry
Bulwer, an old subordinate of Palmerston, was the {261} only responsible
statesman who suggested intervention on her behalf.[302] The quarrel was
her own. If Bismarck had been dishonest, Napoleon III had been little
better, and the French people had been as eager for war as the German.
Ministers had no difficulty in maintaining a strict neutrality.

On two controversies arising out of the war they showed themselves as
prompt and as resolute as any one could have wished. In order to prejudice
France in the eyes of Europe, Bismarck published some proposals which the
French Emperor had made to the King of Prussia a few years before for the
annexation of Belgium to France. The independence of Belgium had been
guaranteed by England, France, Prussia, Austria, and Russia in 1839, and
this plan was as immoral in itself as it was dangerous to the peace of
Europe. It was suggested that England was not concerned single-handed to
enforce a treaty to which other Powers were parties. Gladstone was
determined at least to attempt it. An ingenious treaty was contrived
between Great Britain and the two belligerents, by which either France or
Germany was to go to war in alliance with Great Britain, if the
independence of Belgium was violated by the other. The House of Commons
voted two millions of money and approved of an increase of the forces by
20,000 men. The treaty and the Parliamentary votes were sufficient proofs
of the determination of the Government to defend the Belgians, and no
hostile army set foot upon their soil. This was an intervention in a good
cause, made without bluster, and it was justified by success.

The second occasion for strong action was a similar violation of an
international agreement. By the treaty of Paris, which ended the Crimean
War, Russia and Turkey had agreed to place no ships of war upon the Black
Sea. This was a futile interference with what might almost be called the
domestic concerns of the two countries, in an inland sea which was entirely
surrounded by their own territories. But such as it was, it was made
binding in most solemn terms. Russia could have {262} obtained a release by
diplomatic means without any difficulty. She preferred, in the crisis of
the Franco-Prussian War, to announce that she intended to be no longer
bounded by this restriction. This was an impudent breach of her engagement,
made possible only by the difficulties of her associates. The English
Government acted again with vigour and directness. Lord Granville[303]
wrote to the British Ambassador at Petersburg in language which was really
that of Gladstone: "It is quite evident that the effect of such doctrine,
and of any proceeding which, with or without avowal, is founded upon it, is
to bring the entire authority and efficacy of treaties under the
discretionary control of each one of the Powers who may have signed them,
the result of which would be the entire destruction of treaties in their
essence."[304] Mr. Odo Russell got the support of Prussia by saying that
England would fight, even if she had no allies,[305] and a conference in
London resolved formally that no single nation could arrogate to itself the
power of dispensing with a treaty. The obnoxious clause in the Treaty of
Paris was then repealed. Here again the readiness to use force in support
of moral rules was successful.

A third occasion for intervention arose when Germany required France to
cede the two provinces of Alsace and Lorraine. Gladstone wished to procure
a European protest against this transfer of territory without the assent of
the inhabitants. "My opinion certainly is that the transfer of territory
and inhabitants by mere force calls for the reprobation of Europe, and that
Europe is entitled to utter it with good effect."[306] He did not suggest
that England should step in single-handed, in the manner of Palmerston. It
was Europe's duty as it was Europe's interest. "A matter of this kind
cannot be regarded as in principle a question between the two belligerents
only, but involves considerations of legitimate interest to all the Powers
of Europe. It appears to bear on the Belgian question in {263} particular.
It is also a principle likely to be of great consequence in the eventual
settlement of the Eastern question."[307] He apprehended "that this violent
laceration and transfer is to lead us from bad to worse, and to be the
_beginning_ of a new series of European complications."[308] He was
perfectly right. His aim could only be secured with the assistance of the
neutral Powers, and the greatest of these had just shown how little she
regarded rules of morality and the public opinion of Europe. Bismarck had
indeed begun a new era, and the theory of compensation was being
substituted for the theory of obligation. It was no longer "I keep my word,
therefore you must keep yours," but "I will acquiesce in your breaking your
word, if you will allow me to break mine." Gladstone's attempt to maintain
the better system was prevented by his Cabinet, and with Russia imitating
German contempt for morality, it was probably the wisest course to do

After these two demonstrations of their readiness to enforce moral rules
where the circumstances required it, the Government showed that they were
equally ready to observe moral rules even against their own material
interest. The American Civil War had left them the onerous legacy of the
_Alabama_ claims. The _Alabama_ was a privateer, which Palmerston and
Russell, in spite of the protests of the American Ambassador, had allowed
to sail from Birkenhead. In the service of the Confederate Government, she
had inflicted great damage upon the shipping of the North, and after the
conclusion of the war the American Government had claimed that the British
Government should pay compensation for the consequences of their
negligence. Their case was spoilt by the impudent inclusion of claims for
remote injuries, including the whole cost of the war after the last defeat
of the Confederate army in the field.[309] Palmerston and Lord John Russell
had steadily refused to admit liability. Gladstone and Lord Granville had
more wisdom and {264} more real courage. The whole case was submitted to a
Court of Arbitration at Geneva composed of representatives of the two
disputants, Italy, Switzerland, and Brazil. Great Britain was held to be
responsible, and damages were awarded. The American claims for direct
injury were nine and a half millions. The award was for three and a
quarter. This was perhaps the greatest act of the Government. For the first
time in history, a great State, instead of asserting its claims by force,
had agreed to be bound by the decision of an impartial tribunal, and had
paid damages for its wrong-doing as if it had been a private person in a
court of law. The cause of international morality advances slowly, and
reaction is frequent and universal. But the disposition to subdue egoism to
the common interest and to subordinate national vanity to moral rules grows
steadily on the whole. The first important step in advance was made by the
Liberal Government which submitted to the arbitration at Geneva.

       *       *       *       *       *




The history of the Disraeli Ministry which in 1874 followed that of
Gladstone is almost entirely a history of foreign policy. The new Premier
had described the domestic activity of his predecessor as a policy of
plundering and blundering, and he himself avoided the imputation of either
form of error by doing little of any significance at home. In effect he
revived the system of Palmerston, and endeavoured to distract the popular
attention from domestic grievances by splendid demonstrations abroad. One
or two useful Liberal measures, besides the Employers and Workmen Act, were
passed into law. An Artisans Dwellings Act empowered municipal corporations
to acquire land by compulsory purchase, for the erection of workmen's
houses. This was an entirely wise application of the new collectivist
principles, and a belated individualist was discovered in Mr. Fawcett, who
opposed the Bill, on strictly logical grounds, as "class legislation." The
same argument would abolish the Poor Law. Another measure of great utility
was forced on the Government by Plimsoll, a Liberal philanthropist. It
provided for the inspection and detention of unseaworthy ships, and was a
notable example of interference with private property and freedom of
contract in the interest of a class of adult men. A third reform of a
Liberal kind was due to Parnell, the new leader of the Irish Nationalists,
who amended the Prison Bill of 1877 by inserting a clause that persons
guilty of seditious libel should be treated as {266} first-class
misdemeanants and not as common criminals. This was the high-water mark of
the reaction from the eighteenth-century treatment of political criticism.
In 1777 an honest Republican might have been treated as a felon. Since 1877
allowance has been made for the motives even of the advocate of Revolution.
Even the law shows respect for the right of the common man to censure his
governors. A last Liberal measure was the Act of 1878, which enabled
Universities to confer medical degrees upon women. These Acts were
substantially all the important domestic legislation of the Ministry.

While thus abstaining from activity at home, Disraeli gratified his
instinct for magnificence abroad, and sacrificed morality and interest on
the altar of prestige. One bold stroke was to buy from the Khedive of Egypt
his shares in the Suez Canal. This feat was not so splendid as it was
claimed to be. It gave England no additional hold over the route to India,
which, in time of war, can only be maintained by the fleet, whether the
Canal is English or Egyptian. But it gave England a deciding voice in the
management of a neutral waterway, and prevented it from falling into the
hands of other and less altruistic Powers. This action at least did no
harm. The other proceedings of the Government were almost uniformly
disgraceful, and most disgraceful where they were most pretentious. In the
Balkans and in Afghanistan they were guilty of conduct which was at once
vainglorious, unsuccessful, and wrong, and neither in objects, nor methods,
nor results was there anything worthy of credit. The first of these shabby
performances took place in the Near East, where they adopted Palmerston's
policy of protecting Turkey without any of his excuse. It could be urged in
favour of the Crimean War that it was undertaken to enable the Turks to set
their house in order, and a firm belief in the possibility of that
regeneration might justify an honest man in supporting Turkey against
Russia. Palmerston retained that belief until his death. At the time of
Disraeli's accession it could not have existed in the mind of any
reasonable being. After twenty years, Turkish Government of subject
Christian races remained what it had always been, and in {267} 1876 a just
and necessary revolt in Bulgaria was suppressed with the usual Turkish
incidents of massacre, burning alive, rape, torture, and destruction of
property. Gladstone was inspired to a passionate demand for armed
intervention, and the British peoples have never been so deeply stirred as
by his pamphlet to ignore the distinctions of party, class, and creed.
Disraeli treated the news of outrage with characteristic flippancy, and
talked airily of "coffee-house babble," even when Lord Derby, his Foreign
Secretary, was instructing the British Ambassador at Constantinople to
protest against the atrocities of the Turkish agents. The responsibility of
Great Britain could not be questioned. We had taken Turkey under our
protection twenty years before, to serve our private ends, and as we had
helped to maintain the system of government, so we were entitled to
denounce its abuse. There was indeed only one step for an honourable and
courageous people to take, to confess our error and to confine Turkish
sovereignty to Turkish people. There was no question of single-handed
action. Russia, Austria, and Germany agreed, in the Berlin Memorandum, to
require the Sultan to reform his government, and France and Italy
concurred. Great Britain refused to join the others, on the ground that she
had not been consulted from the first. This policy had but one motive,
distrust of Russia; it had but one consequence, the encouragement of
Turkey. The joint Memorandum was ineffective, and in the face of
Anglo-Russian jealousy, the Sultan snapped his fingers at suggestions of

The climax was reached when Great Britain refused to join Russia in a naval
demonstration in the Bosphorus. The Tsar then declared that he would act
alone, and gave the British Ambassador his word of honour that he had no
intention of annexing any part of the Turkish dominions or of permanently
occupying Constantinople. On the lips of the Tsar Nicholas of the Crimean
War such a pledge might have meant little. On the lips of the Tsar
Alexander, a genuine Liberal, who had emancipated the serfs and given his
subjects, for the first time in their history, courts of law in place of
bureaucratic caprice, it {268} meant very much. Nothing is more certain
than that the Tsar was honest in his professions, and that he was impelled
by a disinterested wave of enthusiasm among his subjects. The Balkan
question is the one question on which a Russian Government always expresses
the opinions of the Russian people. But even if the Tsar had been
dishonest, and if England had been placed in a real dilemma, it was
entirely England's fault. The Tory Government, by refusing to act in
concert with the other Powers, had left only two alternatives possible to
Russia: to do nothing, or to interfere single-handed. When she showed signs
of adopting the second, Disraeli at the Lord Mayor's Banquet made ominous
references to war. Everything was done by the Tory Press to inflame the
popular mind against Russia, and to divert attention from the real issue.
Even the Liberal Opposition was distracted, and in Parliament Mr. Gladstone
maintained his straight and courageous course almost without a helper.[310]
When the Russians had crossed the border, and, after an astonishingly
successful resistance by the Turks, were actually approaching
Constantinople, the balance of English opinion swung against them, and the
Government openly prepared for war.[311] The music-halls rallied to their
support, the name of Jingo was invented, and Gladstone's windows were
broken by the mob. But the conclusion of peace by the Treaty of San Stefano
ended the war between Turkey and Russia and prevented the war between
Russia and Great Britain. The Tory Government was saved, by no fault of its
own, from a moral disaster which no material successes could have effaced.
During the negotiations which followed the Treaty they made full use of the
dangerous temper which they had aroused.

The terms of the Treaty gave them an opportunity of enforcing a Liberal
principle, and for the first time Russia made {269} a false step. The
treaty gave Russia a small indemnity and a little territory. Bulgaria was
made an independent principality, and the Turks, as Gladstone had demanded,
"one and all, bag and baggage, cleared out from the province they had
desolated and profaned." Russia had done single-handed what it should have
been the duty and the pride of England to help her to do. But the treaty,
as it stood, was as much an infraction of the Treaty of Paris as the
placing of armed ships upon the Black Sea, and the British Government very
properly required an international agreement. Russia at first refused, and
if this difficult situation had not been the direct result of their own
unprincipled conduct, the British Government would have had a very good
excuse for war. A disaster was once more imminent, and Lord Derby finally
resigned. He was succeeded by Lord Cranborne,[312] and the Tory Press once
more fanned the flames of national hatred.

But Disraeli was above all things a contriver of effects, and while his
followers applauded his firmness and resolution in maintaining the Treaty
of Paris, he was privately engaged in pulling it to pieces. He made a
secret treaty with Russia, agreeing to support her at the international
conference in asking substantially for what she had obtained by the Treaty
of San Stefano. He then proceeded with great solemnity to Berlin, after
having apparently humiliated his adversary, and Russia obtained what she
wanted without difficulty. The Treaty of Berlin made few alterations in the
Treaty of San Stefano, and the most important was unquestionably for the
worse. The extent of the New Bulgaria was reduced, and it was divided into
two provinces, which a few years later joined together to form the present
State. The reduction was effected by the restoration of Macedonia to
Turkey, and as these words are being written that unhappy district, after
another generation of distress, has become the cause of another Balkan war.
The policy of Disraeli was for the time as popular as that of Palmerston
had ever been. Surveyed after thirty-five years, it appears to have
consisted in {270} encouraging Turkey to fight in defence of an iniquitous
system of government, and, after nearly involving the British people in a
war for a vile cause, in forcing the inhabitants of Macedonia to suffer for
another generation at the hands of their unregenerate oppressors. Through
this policy, for the last thirty years the Macedonian peasant, setting out
in the morning for the fields, has not known that on his return in the
evening he would not find his house burnt to the ground and his wife
dishonoured. Through this policy, the bloody issue of the Balkans has now
been settled for the second time by a savage and destructive war. The
transaction, so selfish in its origin, so shameless in its methods, and so
horrible in its consequences, is generally described by admirers of
Beaconsfield in his own words, as his achievement of "Peace with

The next scene for the display of this reckless and improvident system was
Afghanistan. The Viceroy of India was Lord Lytton, whose strong character
was expressed in a wise and vigorous conduct of domestic affairs, and a
conduct of foreign affairs which was only vigorous. His attention was
directed, soon after the Balkan difficulty began, to Central Asia. In that
quarter Russia, following her usual habit of advancing in Asia whenever she
was repulsed in Europe, had come into touch with the Afghans. The policy of
the Gladstone Government, in similar circumstances, had always been to
negotiate directly with Russia, and they had steadily refused to use other
peoples as tools of their diplomacy. This was not merely a moral, it was
also a wise rule of conduct. Just as strong and independent Balkan States
were better barriers against Russia than a corrupt {271} and enfeebled
Turkey, so the best bulwarks of India were native tribes who had no reason
to fear British aggression, and every reason to believe that she would
protect them against the encroachments of other States. The policy of
Liberalism coincided with that of almost every Indian statesman of
experience. Everything had been done, in past times, to avoid the
appearance of dictating to the small peoples beyond the frontier. "Surround
India," wrote Lord Lytton's predecessor, "with strong, friendly, and
independent states, who will have more interest in keeping well with us
than with any other Power."[314]

This was the policy of wisdom. Lord Lytton and his Home Government
preferred to adopt the other policy, and to make the Amir of Afghanistan a
pawn in their game with Russia. "A tool in the hands of Russia I will never
allow him to become. Such a tool it would be my duty to break before it
could be used."[315] In other words, the Amir was to put himself into the
hands of England in order that he might be unable to put himself in the
hands of Russia. He was requested to receive a British Envoy in terms which
would have been more properly addressed to an open enemy than to an ally,
and from the first Lord Lytton adopted a tone which did nothing to
conciliate and everything to disturb a race who are, beyond almost all
others, suspicious of foreign interference. The result was that Shere Ali
was driven into the arms of Russia, whose manners were better if her aims
were not less selfish than those of the British Viceroy. Russia was not
reluctant to embarrass England in Central Asia, and the Bulgarian dispute
was followed by the despatch of a Russian mission to Kabul. The Amir
objected, but was powerless. The Russian representative soon left the
country, but not before his object, the provocation of the Viceroy, had
been achieved. Lord Lytton retaliated by sending {272} an envoy of his own,
who was turned back at the Kyber Pass. War began in November, 1878, and the
Parliamentary parties were divided more sharply than by the threatened war
with Russia.

Gladstone was on this occasion supported by all the Liberal Opposition, and
in the House of Lords, Lord Lawrence, one of the greatest Englishmen who
had ever governed in India, was on the same side.[316] Liberal principles
had been offended in more than one way. The Viceroy had bullied Afghanistan
as Palmerston had bullied China. He had attempted to interfere with her
independence. He had endeavoured to repair the blunders of his diplomacy by
war, and to supply his own deficiency of wisdom by brute force. If he had
had any real cause of quarrel it was with Russia, and he had used
Afghanistan simply as an unwilling means to an end of his own, on account
of transactions in which she had had no freedom and no responsibility.
"Having a cause of complaint against the strong," said Whitbread, "they
fixed the quarrel on the weak; and they have brought us to a war, in which
already gallant men's lives have been lost, and homes made desolate, to
atone for the blunders and errors of their administration."[317] Mr.
Chamberlain, the rising hope of the uncompromising Radicals, reiterated
those general principles which are familiar to all who have read the
debates on the China War in 1860. "Is it sufficient to call a man a
barbarian in order to discharge oneself of all obligations to treat him
with common fairness and consideration?... Only admit that a country has to
follow the law of self-preservation without reference to others, and it is
evidently a justification for an attack, say of France upon Belgium, or
Germany upon Holland, or the absorption of Canada by the United States, and
this deliberate attempt to substitute might for right in dealing with
Indian Princes, and the law of force for the law of nations, is certain, in
my opinion, to {273} have a most disastrous effect upon the true
foundations of our Indian Empire."[318]

Force triumphed, for the time, over morals. But retribution came with more
than its usual swiftness. The Afghans were beaten in the field. Shere Ali
disappeared, and his son Yakúb Khan took his place. Lord Lytton had
distrusted the father, who was no worse than weak. He confided in the son,
who was thoroughly bad. Major Cavagnari entered Kabul as British Envoy on
the 24th of July, 1879. On the 3rd of September he was murdered with all
his people. A second war was undertaken, more lives were lost, and the
Government actually proposed to partition Afghanistan, and to incorporate
the eastern part in the Indian Empire. This course could have produced only
three consequences. Free Afghanistan would have been thrust into the arms
of Russia. British Afghanistan would have been in a perpetual condition of
unrest. Our military responsibilities would have been extended beyond the
natural barrier of the great mountains at the same time that they would
have been indefinitely increased by the direct contact with the Russian
frontier. Entangled in difficult passes, and surrounded by unfriendly hill
tribes, our troops would have been infinitely less formidable to Russia
than in the plains of India. The General Election of 1880 extricated Great
Britain from this dangerous folly, and the new Government evacuated
Afghanistan and abandoned the project of a British Envoy at Kabul. From
that day to this the Afghans have been treated according to the principles
laid down by the Liberal Opposition.[319] They have been encouraged to
believe that Great Britain will protect them against external aggression,
and nothing has been done to make them suspect that she has any intention
of interfering with their independence.

One other action of this Tory Government betrayed the same {274} desire to
acquire territory and to extend responsibilities as their enterprise in
Central Asia. In 1877 they annexed the Transvaal Republic. This step was
prompted partly by military motives, as giving additional security against
the Zulus, whose quarrels with the scattered Dutch farmers caused perpetual
unrest. It was also part of a scheme for South African federation, which
was the offspring of the growing spirit of Imperialism. Nor did it seem at
first that annexation was contrary to Boer sentiment. The Republic was
loosely organized, its finances were in a bad state, its great mineral
wealth was unknown, and some of the inhabitants were anxious to obtain the
stability which the British connection would afford. If the promise of
representative institutions, which was made at the time, had been fulfilled
with reasonable speed, the hostile section might have been reduced to
insignificance. But the British Government seemed to forget that it was
dealing with a race whose dislike of foreign domination was as stubborn as
that of their own people. It is unquestionable that the bulk of the Boer
population resented the annexation, and used every peaceful means of
expressing its real wishes. But in spite of deputations, public meetings,
and petitions signed by practically every elector of the old Republic, the
Disraeli Ministry continued to govern by the arbitrary methods of Crown
Colony Government. When the Liberals came into power, in 1880, three years
after the annexation, the Boers were still without the promised
institutions, and the opponents of England were no longer a faction, but
the whole people. Want of imagination never stumbled into a worse folly.

The General Election of 1880 is the only election which has ever been
fought in Great Britain on the general principles of foreign policy.
Gladstone had retired from the nominal leadership of the Liberal party
after his defeat in 1874. But there was no question who had directed its
policy in the last few years, and Lord Hartington, in 1880, was obviously
no more than the lieutenant of his principal follower. Any doubts which may
have before existed were dispelled by Gladstone's election campaign {275}
in Midlothian. He invaded the strongest Tory constituency in Scotland, beat
the nominee of the Duke of Buccleuch, and in his speeches dictated the
issues upon which candidates fought all over Great Britain. These speeches
were almost entirely concerned with the Liberal case against egoism in
foreign affairs, and the result of the polls was an emphatic approval of
their principles. There were some errors in the speeches. To represent the
Zulu War as an outrage of the same kind as the annexation of the Transvaal,
or the invasion of Afghanistan, was absurd. The rights of bloodthirsty and
aggressive savages are different from those of civilized white men or even
the comparatively peaceful tribes of Asia. But this was only an unwise
application of the sound general principles which were expressed in the

The Midlothian speeches reproduced the opinions of Granville's Memorandum
of 1851 and those of Clarendon's statement of 1871. Gladstone dissented
from the absolute pacificism of the Manchester School.[320] But while he
admitted the occasional necessity for war, and pointed to his own readiness
to protect Belgium as a proof that he did not believe in peace at any
price, he required that a real and sober policy should be substituted for
the ostentatious vanities of the Tories. "What we want in foreign policy is
the substitution of what is true and genuine for what is imposing and
pretentious, but unreal.... Let us get rid of all these shams and fall back
upon realities, the character of which is to be quiet, to be
unostentatious, to pretend to nothing, not to thrust claims and
unconstitutional claims for ascendancy and otherwise in the teeth of your
neighbour, but to maintain your rights and to respect the rights of others
as much as your own."[321] "The great duty of a Government, especially in
foreign affairs, is to soothe and tranquillize the minds of a people, not
to set up false phantoms of glory which are to delude them into calamity,
not to flatter their infirmities by leading them to believe that they are
better than the rest of the world, and so encourage the baleful {276}
spirit of domination; but to proceed upon a principle that recognizes the
sisterhood and equality of nations, the absolute equality of public right
among them."[322] The speaker denounced Beaconsfield's reference to
"Imperium et Libertas" as he had once before denounced Palmerston's use of
"Civis Romanus Sum," and appealed to "the sound and sacred principle that
Christendom is formed of a band of nations who are united to one another in
the bonds of right; that they are without distinction of great and small;
there is an absolute equality between them, the same sacredness defends the
narrow limits of Belgium as attaches to the extended frontiers of Russia,
or Germany, or France."[323] From this admission of the equality of nations
came the need for the observance of public law. "There is no duty so
sacred, incumbent upon any Government in its foreign policy, as that
careful and strict regard to public law."[324]

Gladstone laid down six general principles by which our foreign policy
should be guided. "The first thing is to foster the strength of the Empire
by just legislation and economy at home, thereby producing two of the great
elements of national power--namely, wealth, which is a physical element,
and union and contentment, which are moral elements--and to reserve the
strength of the Empire, to reserve the expenditure of that strength for
great and worthy occasions abroad.... My second principle ... is this--that
its aim ought to be to preserve to the nations of the world ... the
blessings of peace. My third principle is this--when you do a good thing,
you may do it in so bad a way that you may entirely spoil the beneficial
effect; and if we were to make ourselves the apostles of peace in the sense
of conveying to the minds of other nations that we thought ourselves more
entitled to an opinion on that subject than they are, or to deny their
rights--well, very likely we should destroy the whole value of our
doctrines. In my opinion the third sound principle is this--to strive to
cultivate and maintain, ay, to the very uttermost, what is called the
Concert of Europe; to keep the Powers of {277} Europe in union together.
And why? Because by keeping all in union together you neutralize and fetter
and bind up the selfish aims of each.... My fourth principle is that you
should avoid needless and entangling engagements. You may boast about them,
you may brag about them. You may say you are procuring consideration for
the country. You may say that an Englishman can now hold up his head among
the nations.... But what does all this come to, gentlemen? It comes to
this, that you are increasing your engagements without increasing your
strength; ... you really reduce the Empire and do not increase it.... My
fifth principle is, to acknowledge the equal rights of all nations. You may
sympathize with one nation more than another.... But in point of right all
are equal, and you have no right to set up a system under which one of them
is to be placed under moral suspicion or espionage, or to be made the
constant subject of invective.... The sixth principle is that ... subject
to all the limitations that I have described, the foreign policy of England
should always be inspired by the love of freedom. There should be a
sympathy with freedom, a desire to give it scope, founded not upon
visionary ideas, but upon the long experience of many generations within
the shores of this happy isle, that in freedom you lay the firmest
foundations both of loyalty and order; the firmest foundations for the
development of individual character, and the best provision for the
happiness of the nation at large.... It is that sympathy, not a sympathy
with disorder, but, on the contrary, founded upon the deepest and most
profound love of order, ... which ought to be the very atmosphere in which
a Foreign Secretary of England ought to live and to move."[325] The most
important of these general principles was that of the equality of nations,
"because, without recognizing that principle, there is no such thing as
public right, and without public international right there is no instrument
available for settling the transactions of mankind except material force.
Consequently the principle of equality among nations lies ... at the very
basis and root of a Christian {278} civilization, and when that principle
is compromised or abandoned, with it must depart our hopes of tranquillity
and of progress for mankind." The policy of the Tory Government had been
"unregardful of public right, and it has been founded upon ... an untrue,
arrogant, and dangerous assumption that we were entitled to assume for
ourselves some dignity, which we should also be entitled to withhold from
others, and to claim on our part authority to do things which we would not
permit to be done by others."[326] These general rules, to be applied, not
in the temper of logical pedantry, but, like all general political rules,
as far as the circumstances of each case will permit, form the complete
theory of a Liberal foreign policy.

Every one of Gladstone's principles had been violated by the Government.
The welfare of the people had been subordinated to a costly display of
energy abroad. The ordinary expenditure on armaments had increased by more
than six millions in five years, and a special vote of credit had been
required by the quarrel with Russia. The acquisitions in the Transvaal, in
Zululand, in Cyprus, and in Afghanistan had increased our burdens without
adding to our strength. Peace had always been in danger, and had more than
once been broken. The Government had claimed a peculiar right to dictate to
Turkey, had threatened Russia with war for appearing to claim a similar
right, and had made international action impossible by refusing to join the
Concert of Europe. They had prevented Russia from making a separate treaty
with Turkey because it violated the Treaty of Paris, and they had
themselves made a treaty with Turkey which violated the Treaty of Paris in
the same way and to the same extent. They had made an indefinite engagement
with Turkey to go to war in defence of her Asiatic territory, no matter how
she abused her sovereign rights. They had been partial and capricious in
their friendships and in their antipathies. Russia could do nothing right,
Turkey could do nothing wrong. The claims of freedom had been ignored. The
Transvaal had been annexed against the formally expressed wish of its
inhabitants. {279} The Afghans had been coerced into accepting an envoy.
Nothing had been done to help the Bulgarians against the Turks, and when
Russia undertook the work which England should have done, she had been
opposed instead of helped. The worst thing that Gladstone said of his
opponents is the worst thing that posterity can say of them. He quoted from
a dispatch of the Turkish Government: "The Sultan's Ministers lay great
stress on the maintenance of the Beaconsfield Cabinet, which has given so
many proofs of its benevolent intentions for the Turkish Empire." The
approbation of these men, whose praise was blame, is more damning to the
Tory foreign policy of this period than any censure of their party enemies.
Gladstone made some mistakes in his general attack. But posterity has
seldom been so nearly unanimous as in its belief that on his two main
lines, Turkey and Afghanistan, he was completely right.

The history of the Liberal Ministry which succeeded that of Beaconsfield is
not a splendid record. The Cabinet and the party were in fact in process of
disintegration, and even without the Irish controversy, some new grouping
of the parties would soon have taken place. All sections of the Liberals
were united in their dislike of the Imperialist foreign policy of their
predecessors. But the younger men, headed by Mr. Chamberlain and Sir
Charles Dilke, were aggressively Radical, deeply tinged with new theories
about land, capital and labour, and the unfair distribution of wealth.
Older men, like the Duke of Argyll, held by the individualist ideas of a
previous generation, and Goschen refused to join the Government at all
because he objected to proposed extensions of the franchise. The internal
differences of such a composite Ministry inevitably weakened it in the face
of the enemy. The external difficulties were also unusually great. A trade
depression in 1878 and 1879 caused great distress among the working
classes. Ireland was again seething with discontent, the Land League had
begun a campaign against the payment of rent, and agrarian and political
crime soon attained to such proportions that it seemed as if Society would
be dissolved. In Parliament, the Irish Nationalists {280} made the
obstruction of business a fine art, and the Fourth Party,[327] shouldering
Sir Stafford Northcote out of the leadership, conducted the Conservative
Opposition with equal vigour and success. These different obstacles reduced
the real power of the Government below its apparent strength. But it
contrived, nevertheless, to apply Liberal principles with considerable
success, both at home and abroad.

The progress of reform was along the lines which had been marked out by the
last Liberal Government. Education was made compulsory in 1881, almost
without opposition. The household franchise, conferred upon dwellers in
towns by the Act of 1867, was extended to rural districts by an Act of
1884, and so far as men were concerned, the right of the individual to
control his own government was thus secured, nearly a hundred years after
the French Revolution began. Almost more significant than this legislation
as a mark of the appreciation of the voter was the construction of the
modern party machine on the model of Mr. Chamberlain's system in
Birmingham. Electors are now grouped in wards and divisions, each section
having its elected committee, and all linked up together in a central
caucus. Communication between voters and representatives has thus become
more direct than ever before, and the Member of Parliament is now
completely subject to the authority of those whom he is supposed to govern.
Both parties, and the women auxiliaries who, about this time, were
organized in connection with them, adopted this organization of public
opinion between 1880 and 1890, and the effect on political life has been
very great. The common man is brought into direct touch with the machinery
of the State, his information is more precise, and the expression of his
wishes more effective. The party system as it exists to-day has in fact
completely reversed the eighteenth-century theory of government. In 1812
the Legislature, within very wide limits, enforced the wishes of its
members upon the people. In 1912 the people, within very {281} wide limits,
enforced its wishes upon the members of the Legislature. Ministers have
ceased to be the leaders of the Houses in which they sit, and have become
leaders of the people. Their appeal is direct to the constituencies, and it
is among the rank and file of their party in the country that they find
their strength. The new system is not without its dangers. If it is a more
efficient check upon abuse of the common people than the old, it offers
less freedom to the independent member, and where we once contrived party
as a means of controlling our government, we are now rather inclined to
cast about for some contrivance which will control our party. The extent to
which the Cabinet, relying upon its hold over the party machine, is enabled
to dictate its wishes to the members who depend upon that machine for their
own success, is the greatest danger to real political freedom which at
present exists. The Cabinet is now almost as much a legislative as an
executive body. But whatever the difficulties and the risks involved, the
construction of this political machinery in 1880 was a distinct mark in the
progress of Liberalism.

The condition of women once more attracted the attention of a Liberal
Parliament. An Act of 1882 finally separated the wife from her husband in
all matters concerned with property, and permitted her to make contracts,
and to acquire, hold, and dispose of property as if she were a single
woman. Even this reform was incomplete. A husband is still responsible for
all the civil wrongs of his wife, except those which consist in breach of
contract, and the year 1912 has seen a husband sent to prison because he
could not pay income tax on his wife's income which she earned by her own
exertions and had not disclosed to him. But the existing relics of the old
legal theory which subjected the wife to the husband, and made him
responsible for her conduct as if she were a child, are not very numerous
or important. Substantially, so far as the law allows, the wife has been
economically independent of her husband since 1882. The Contagious Diseases
Acts were suspended in 1883, and were finally repealed in 1886. In 1885 the
Criminal Law {282} Amendment Act raised the age of consent to sixteen, and
penalties were at last imposed upon those who procured women and girls for
immoral purposes. Another reform was effected by administrative act.
Professor Fawcett, the Postmaster-General, began to employ women in the
inferior posts in his department, and so opened to the sex the whole of the
large field of labour provided by the Civil Service. These successive
improvements in the state of women were made with little difficulty except
such as sprang from ignorance, and the indifference of legislators to the
special claims of disfranchised classes. As has always been the case,
practical reforms were executed by the Legislature when the demand for the
enfranchisement of women became urgent. This House of Commons actually
contained a majority who had promised to vote for Woman Suffrage. The
pledges, given in response to pressure from the women of the middle class,
were of that easy, good-natured sort in which Parliamentary candidates
indulge in matters to which party is indifferent. The women trusted that
they would be carried into effect by an amendment of the Reform Bill of
1884. But the House of Lords offered so much opposition to the Bill as it
stood, that Gladstone spoke against the inclusion of women, and the
proposal was defeated. The Toryism of class was destroyed. That of sex
remained, and it was not until the Liberal revival of twenty years later
that it was ever again threatened.

On ancient subjects of party controversy temper again rose high. Church and
Chapel fought the last of many battles over the Burials Bill. The point
raised by this measure was very simple. In more than 10,000 parishes the
only burial ground was the churchyard. In large towns, where there were
public cemeteries, and in districts where Nonconformists were wealthy, and
could purchase private ground, no difficulty arose. But in the other cases
no Nonconformist could be buried except with the Burial Service of the
Established Church. The service, however majestic in its language,
expressed opinions which were obnoxious to many Nonconformists, and the
Burials Bill provided that any person might be buried in the yard of the
parish church with {283} such religious service as his relatives desired.
The Church party, while claiming that the Church was the Church of the
nation and not of a sect, protested against being deprived of the absolute
control of the public burial grounds. Any person might be buried there, but
only on such terms as they chose to appoint. It was a plain case of a
conflict between public right and private privilege. The Bill had been
passed four times by the last Liberal House of Commons. It was beaten in
the following Tory House. In the Parliament of 1880 it was at last accepted
by the Lords, and the Nonconformist grievance was removed.

A second religious controversy provided a useful illustration of the
difference between Liberalism and the Liberal party. The Nonconformist
members, in debating the Burials Bill, had expressed the pure Liberal
doctrine that no man should be prevented from exercising a public right by
his opinions on matters of conscience. When they came to deal with Charles
Bradlaugh, many of them showed themselves to be as Tory in their essential
habit of mind as the most bigoted vicar who ever shut out a Quaker funeral
from his churchyard. Bradlaugh was a dogmatic atheist, and as honest a man
as was ever elected to Parliament. He was chosen for Northampton with Henry
Labouchere, who was a man of no more Christian opinions and of much less
pure character than himself. Labouchere, like other easy-going men, had no
scruples about taking the oath required from Members of Parliament;
Bradlaugh refused to swear, and claimed to make affirmation in the form
prescribed by Statute for witnesses in courts of law. A Committee of the
House decided against him, and he then offered to take the oath in the
ordinary way. There arose such a storm of bigotry and insolence as is
generally to be found only in Orange Lodges. Gladstone and Bright, two men
in whom Christianity was usually conspicuous, contended in vain, not only
against Tories, but against those of their own party whose religious
tolerance did not extend beyond the Jews. It was resolved that Bradlaugh
could neither swear nor affirm, and when he refused to withdraw he was
committed to the Clock Tower. Eventually, he made affirmation and took his
seat, {284} speaking on several occasions with good sense. But the matter
was not ended. An informer obtained a judgment against him in the King's
Bench Division, and his seat was declared vacant. He was re-elected, and
again attempted to enter the House. On this occasion he was thrown out by
the police. A third election sent him back again, and he sat for some time
below the bar of the House. In 1883 a special Bill was introduced which
enabled any person, who thought fit, to make affirmation instead of taking
an oath. It was thrown out. Bradlaugh resigned, and was elected for the
fourth time in February, 1884. But it was not until the end of this
Parliament, and after an enormous waste of time, energy, and money in
agitation and litigation, that his struggle came to an end. He was elected
to the new Parliament of 1885, and took the oath without serious
opposition. In 1888 he himself introduced and carried through the enabling
Bill. In 1891, when he died, all the hostile resolutions were expunged from
the records of the House, and freedom of conscience received at last full

The whole proceeding did little credit to a Liberal House of Commons.
Parliament had been opened to Dissenters in 1828, to Catholics in 1829, and
to Jews in 1858. If these reforms had any significance at all, they meant
that for political posts only political tests were to be applied, and that
a man's opinions upon subjects which were not political were not the
concern of the State. Liberty of thinking is one and indivisible. As
Gladstone, himself the most dogmatic of Churchmen, put it, "On every
religious ground, as well as on every political ground, the true and the
wise course is not to deal out religious liberty by halves, quarters, and
fractions, but to deal it out entire, and make no distinctions between man
and man on the ground of religious differences from one end of the land to
the other."[328] Every argument which could shut out Bradlaugh could shut
out a Quaker or a Wesleyan. The atheist was to the Nonconformist of the
day, what the Nonconformist had been to the Churchman of 1800, a person who
held opinions other than his own. {285} Experience of toleration should
have satisfied those who could not see truth by their own light. The ablest
men in the Cabinet were of the utmost possible diversity of religious
belief. The Prime Minister was a High Churchman, Lord Hartington was a Low
Churchman, Bright was a Quaker, Mr. Chamberlain was a Unitarian, Forster
belonged to no Church and professed no creed. But there were members of the
Liberal party who tolerated this latitude in their leaders, and yet could
not bear the society of an avowed atheist. They drew the line at God. The
case was made somewhat worse by Bradlaugh's opinions on the limitation of
population. But the real weight of the charge against him was that he did
not believe in the existence of a deity, and was sufficiently honest and
sufficiently public-spirited to endeavour to preach his gospel. Some
Liberals abstained from voting in these divisions. Others joined the most
bigoted and reactionary of their usual opponents, and used arguments
against Bradlaugh which, if logically applied, would have excluded from
Parliament more than one of the best men in the Cabinet.

While old issues were thus fought out, the new economics made a further
impression upon legislation. Fawcett again led the way by making the Post
Office extend its activities farther into the field of private enterprise,
and experiment as a Savings Bank, in the creation of annuities, and in the
management of the telegraph. About this time also began the modern
development of municipal trading, which has converted the local authority
from a mere regulating body to a body which supplies the means of light,
heat, and locomotion to the inhabitants of its area. The debts of English
municipalities in 1875 amounted to about £93,000,000. In 1905 they were
about £483,000,000, and the bulk of this increase is represented by the
various gas, water, electricity, and tramway enterprises which are managed
by the local bodies. All this large part of national industry is now
monopolized by collective management, and it is not now denied that on the
whole the public wants are better supplied by these municipal monopolies
than by the competition of private traders.

An extension of national and municipal enterprises was {286} accompanied by
more direct legislative restrictions upon economic freedom. The Employers'
Liability Act of 1880 began the series of statutes which have compelled
employers to insure their workmen against accident. The legal doctrine of
"common employment" had produced a stupid state of affairs. A man who was
injured through the negligence of another man's servant, acting in his
employer's business, might recover damages from the employer. But if both
men were the servants of the same employer, and if the transaction in which
the injury was inflicted was part of their common business as servants of
the same master, no claim for compensation was allowed. A master was liable
for the negligence of his workmen to everybody but his other workmen. The
Act of 1880, in the face of loud opposition from employers of all parties,
to some extent abolished this absurd distinction, and made the master
liable to his men for injuries sustained through the negligence of his
superintendents or foremen. An Act giving the English tenant the right to
kill game on his own land was followed by an Agricultural Holdings Act,
which entitled him to compensation against his landlord for unexhausted
improvements. In 1884, in response to an agitation which had nothing to do
with party, the Government appointed a Royal Commission to inquire into the
housing of the poor, and thus prepared for an extension of the system which
had been begun by their predecessors.[329] But the most striking economic
experiment made by this Liberal Government, as by the last, was made in
Ireland. The condition of that country was now more dangerous than at any
time since the Rebellion of 1798. The wholesale and systematic depopulation
of the country by rack-renting and evictions had demoralized and degraded
those whom it had not driven out of the country or starved to death, and
throughout the most congested districts no spirit was to be found {287} but
hatred of the landlords and the English connection. Boycotting had now been
invented, and boycotting was accompanied by agrarian outrages of the most
brutal description. The Land League was supreme. Rents could not be
collected. No man would work for a tenant who paid his rent, or for a man
who took a farm from which a former tenant had been evicted. The whole
country seemed to be in sympathy with the Moonlighters and maimers of
cattle, informers were murdered or intimidated, and the perpetrators of
some of the most atrocious crimes were never discovered. The Government
applied itself at once to the suppression of disorder and to the redress of
grievances. Drastic Coercion Acts armed the executive with new powers, and
in 1881 Gladstone introduced and carried, practically single-handed, a new
Land Act.

This Act went farther than any previous Act of Parliament in interfering
with freedom of contract. It strained the relations of the two sections of
the Cabinet almost to breaking point, and the Duke of Argyll actually
resigned. The Act of 1870 had provided that the tenant should be
compensated for eviction except in case of non-payment of rent. The
exception took nine-tenths of the virtue out of the Act. The country was
crowded with poor people who wanted land and could not live without it. The
tenant got no compensation so long as he kept his farm, and so long as he
kept it he was rack-rented. If he was at last evicted, he was probably no
better off for his compensation, because he had little chance of getting a
second farm on any better conditions than the first. In these
circumstances, bad landlords did very much as they pleased, and a Royal
Commission reported that "Freedom of contract did not in fact exist."[330]
The tenant was at the mercy of the landlord in every case. The Government
therefore stepped in to protect him, on the principle that interference is
justified "where the necessities of one of the parties to a bargain deprive
his seeming freedom of choice of all substance."[331] Their Bill accepted
the recommendations of the {288} Royal Commission, and established what
were known as "the three F's," fair rent, fixity of tenure, and freedom of
sale. The amount of the rent was to be fixed by an impartial Land Court.
The tenant was to pay this rent for fifteen years, after which it might be
revised. The right to remain in the holding at this rent was to be
transferable to any purchaser. No tenant whose land was worth less than
£200 a year could contract himself out of the benefits of the Act. This
sweeping reform prevented the rack-renting of tenants. But the state of
Ireland was now such as no remedies could affect. Parnell, the Irish
Nationalist leader, was imprisoned in October, and all the extraordinary
powers of the executive were employed. But in 1882 Lord Frederick
Cavendish, the newly appointed Secretary for Ireland, was brutally murdered
in Phoenix Park, and the release of Mr. Parnell, and an Act for
extinguishing arrears of rent, were accompanied by new measures of
coercion. Two years of hard administration of the law suppressed the
disorder. But the national feeling was as ill as ever, and no Liberal
Ministry could confound the maintenance of order with government. To
produce moral corruption in his subjects is the worst wrong of which any
governor can be capable, and coercion disgraces government more than it
punishes crime. The disease of lawlessness was not to be cured by the mere
suppression of its symptoms. So long as the temper of the people remains
unchanged, obedience to the commands of authority is worth little or
nothing. The attempt to find a new method of Irish government in 1885
settled the course of English politics for a whole generation.

Two disasters overtook the Government in foreign affairs. The first
occurred in the Transvaal, and it was entirely their own fault. They had
criticized the annexation when it took place: it had obviously been carried
through in haste and contrary to the wishes of the inhabitants, and the
right and wise course was to withdraw. Crown Colony Government, which meant
government by Sir Owen Lanyon, an honest but unsympathetic official, had
brought the Boers to the verge of revolt by the time that the {289}
Liberals came into office. They were in fact restrained only by their
confidence that a change of government would mean a change of policy. But
this very absence of turbulence deceived the new Ministry. They were
officially informed that the Boers were reconciled to British rule, and
Gladstone, Bright, and Chamberlain were overruled by their less Liberal
colleagues. Unofficial warnings went astray, arrived too late, or were
disregarded. By January, 1881, the Boers were in arms, and had repulsed Sir
George Colley at Laing's Nek. The Government, at last aware that the
population of the Transvaal wanted independence, opened negotiations. A
rash move by Colley produced the defeat at Majuba and his own death.

The situation was now such that the Government could gain little credit,
even by doing what was right. They had the choice of three alternatives.
They could defeat the Boers and keep the Transvaal. They could defeat the
Boers and give up the Transvaal. They could stop fighting and give up the
Transvaal. The first meant that in order to avenge a defeat in a battle
which ought never to have been fought they should do some more men to
death, and then keep a country which they confessed they should never have
taken. Having been guilty in the first place of robbery, they should
endeavour to repair its consequences by murder, and having made it
difficult to work with the Boers by apparent insincerity, they were to make
it impossible by deliberate cruelty. The second course meant simply that
they should do men to death to gratify their own wounded vanity. Either
course was brutal, and the first was also stupid. No Liberal Government,
with the case of Ireland before its eyes, could undertake the permanent
domination of a free white people by force of arms. The Ministry, in the
face of a loud outcry from those who believed that the strength of England
consisted in her readiness to assert her own brute strength at the expense
of others, chose the third way out of the difficulty. What was right before
Majuba was not wrong after Majuba. The negotiations which had been begun
were allowed to proceed. No more lives were destroyed, and the Transvaal
regained its independence, subject {290} to some vague provisions for
British suzerainty. In 1884 all references to this suzerainty were struck
out of the Convention by the hand of the Colonial Secretary himself, and
there is no question that it was then implied that England waived all right
to interfere in the domestic concerns of the Dutch Republic. The Government
acted as a Liberal Government was bound to act. It preferred to act
according to moral rules, and to do what it thought right without regard to
the protests of national egoism. This was the moral and the courageous
course. But tardy moral courage is not an adequate political substitute for
timely wisdom. For twenty years the two races cherished the memories of
this miserable episode, and the recollections of wounded pride on the one
hand and of hard-won triumph on the other were at last found to be
excellent fuel for the flames of a second war.

The blunders of the Government in South Africa were balanced by other
blunders in North Africa. Beaconsfield had declined to occupy Egypt openly
and with the sanction of the Concert of Europe. Gladstone stumbled into it
against his will, asking in vain for European sanction, and protesting his
intention to withdraw at the earliest possible moment. Never was such a
successful experiment in government begun in such an irresolute and
unmethodical way. The details of the occupation of Egypt are not important
for this book. The main outlines are clear enough. To increase the extent
of the Empire by the appropriation of any country was a violation of the
principles of the Midlothian speeches, and there is no question that the
entry into Egypt was made with misgiving and reluctance. But circumstances
were too strong, and for the first and last time in his life Gladstone
masqueraded in the trappings of Imperialism.

Egypt, nominally subject to the Sultan of Egypt, had long enjoyed an
insolvent independence under its Khedive. In 1879 its finances had been
entrusted, in the interest of foreign bondholders, to the joint control of
England and France, represented for the purpose by a large and costly army
of officials. The entanglement of England in Egypt was thus the first
example of what is now a common political case, the disposition of the
{291} fortunes of a whole people by its investing class. Plutocracy was
beginning to usurp the temper, as well as the place, of aristocracy. In
1881 a revolt began, which was partly due to military discontent, and
partly to a nationalist dislike of foreign domination. Had the British
Government been free to act as they pleased, they would probably have
abstained from interference, and would have recognized and supported the
first Nationalist Government of Egypt, whatever its constitution might have
been. But their hands were tied by the financial arrangements of their
predecessors. The Khedive was acting under the advice of England and
France, and could not be deserted. When the revolt became fanatical, and
Europeans were massacred in the streets of Alexandria, there was no longer
any room for choice. The other Powers declined to interfere, France
withdrew when it came to the use of armed force, and the revolt was
suppressed by English ships and English troops. One step after another led
England deeper into occupation. In 1883 the Dual Control was abolished, and
Sir Auckland Colvin became the sole Financial Adviser of the Khedive. By
1885 British financial control was established throughout Egypt, and
evacuation, though the intention of it was not abandoned by either Liberals
or Conservatives for some time afterwards, really became impossible. The
total effect of this new acquisition can hardly yet be estimated. It was
infinitely less equivocal in origin than our conquest of India, and the
material benefits which it has conferred upon the native population are
immense. The real test of its temper will arise when the Egyptians desire
to take the control of their own affairs into their own hands. If the
British bureaucracy can surrender its supremacy as generously as, on the
whole, it has employed it, it will prove itself a miracle of magnanimity.
In the meantime, the events of this time are important as marking the
intrusion of high finance into foreign politics, and the beginning of a
series of huge extensions of territory, which have reacted very forcibly
upon the fortunes of the British peoples.

The Gladstone Government, having been pushed and dragged into Egypt, was at
least determined to go no farther. A wise {292} application of Liberal
principle was the withdrawal from the Soudan. The death of General Gordon,
who ought never to have been sent to Khartoum, has invested this operation
with an unreal significance. To conquer and hold the southern provinces
would have been as difficult and as costly as to conquer and hold
Afghanistan. Being in Egypt, the Government wisely decided to restrict
their responsibilities. The reorganization of finance was the first
condition of the conquest of the Soudan, and a few years later the swift,
successful, and cheap campaign of Lord Kitchener did what could at that
time only have been done at the cost of enormous financial burdens. The
wisdom of the policy of evacuation is not now questioned. But the loss of
Gordon, due as much to his own disobedience to orders as to the tardiness
of the Government, was very damaging to their reputation. They ought either
to have kept out of Egypt altogether, or to have gone into it with a
determination to do the work thoroughly. A vote of censure was averted in
February, 1885, by only fourteen votes, and it was obvious that the days of
the Government were numbered.

One flash of vigour illuminated their decline. The Ameer of Afghanistan, by
the judicious treatment of Lord Ripon and Lord Dufferin, had been converted
into a firm friend of Great Britain. An advance by Russia in Central Asia
made some definition of boundaries necessary, and while negotiations
between the two Powers were in progress some Russian troops made an attack
upon Afghans in Penjdeh. The Government promptly obtained a vote of credit
for six and a half millions, and showed Russia plainly that, however
anxious they were to restrict the extent of the Empire, they were ready at
all times to defend those peoples whom they had taken under their
protection. The dispute was referred to the arbitration of the King of
Denmark. The reference was denounced by the Tories as a cowardly surrender.
The Liberals were content with the victory of morality over prestige. This
affair took place in April. In the middle of June the Government,
distracted by the prospect of more coercion in Ireland, resigned, and Lord
Salisbury became Prime Minister. {293}

In spite of their difficulties, this Liberal Ministry had contrived to do
much for the cause of Liberalism. They had extended the control of the
individual over his government to substantially all men. They had raised
the value of women. They had removed one of the few remaining disabilities
of the Dissenters. They had restored freedom to the Transvaal, and saved
incalculable expense to both Great Britain and India by withdrawing from
Afghanistan. They had blundered into Imperialism in Egypt, and though they
had treated Ireland without egoism, like all their predecessors they had
failed to pacify it. In the new spirit of collectivism they had stepped in
between the economically weak and the economically strong. The Irish
peasant had been further protected against the Irish landlord. The English
farmers had got compensation for improvements and the right to protect
their crops against game. Something had been done to get the poor into
better houses. Workmen had got some protection against the negligence of
their employers. The record of emancipation in the various fields of class,
of sex, of race, and of wealth was respectable, if not glorious. Everything
except the state of Ireland indicated the future course of Liberalism with
clearness. Mr. Chamberlain expressed the opinions of the advance guard when
he demanded the reform of the House of Lords, the compulsory purchase of
land for agricultural holdings, free as well as compulsory education, the
disestablishment of the Church, and a graduated income tax. This was the
work to be done, to reduce the power of aristocracy in government, which
had been displayed of late in more than one conflict between the two
Houses, to perfect the equalization of sects in the State, to employ the
superfluity of wealth in mitigating the conditions in which poverty lived.
But the actual course of events was determined by the state of Ireland.

       *       *       *       *       *




The condition of Ireland was now forced upon the attention of both parties.
The Irish Nationalist party had demanded Home Rule since Parnell assumed
the leadership in 1879. The General Election of 1885 gave this demand a
force which it had never possessed before. The extension of the franchise
by the Act of 1884 gave a much larger representation to agricultural
Ireland, and agricultural Ireland was wholly Nationalist. Out of
eighty-nine contests Parnell's party won eighty-five. All the fourteen
Liberal Irish members were thrown out. The Protestant half of Ulster
remained Tory and returned seventeen members. But the general sense of the
country was made clear. Parnell, so long denounced by both English parties
as the head of a faction, was now manifestly what he had always claimed to
be, the leader of a nation. Strong and resolute English government had
hopelessly failed. Crime was suppressed. But no Nationalist had been
converted by punishment into a good citizen. Egoistic government by England
could not succeed. Altruistic government by England could not succeed. The
only alternative was the government of Ireland by Ireland.

Both English parties showed signs of a change of temper. Gladstone had
hinted in his first Midlothian Speeches at a general devolution of local
control upon England, Scotland, and Ireland,[332] and in his election
address in 1885 he declared that, subject to the unity of the Empire being
preserved, grants of such control {295} to portions of the country averted
danger and increased strength. Mr. Chamberlain denounced government by
officials at Dublin Castle as heartily as any Nationalist could have
wished. Mr. Childers pronounced definitely for Home Rule. The other side
hinted at a complete change of policy. They appointed, in Lord Carnarvon, a
Lord-Lieutenant who was known to be in sympathy with Home Rule, and he
actually entered into informal negotiations with Parnell. They declined to
renew the last Coercion Act, and Lord Salisbury at Newport, Lord Carnarvon
in the Lords, and Sir Michael Hicks-Beach and Lord Randolph Churchill in
the Commons denounced coercion with different degrees of vigour.[333] So
far as the political leaders were concerned, the most definite opposition
to Home Rule came from the Liberal Lord Hartington. But everything pointed
to the abandonment of government by force and the substitution for it of
government by sympathy. Parnell actually instructed Irish Nationalists in
all constituencies to vote against the Liberals.

The election gave the Parliament into the hands of the Nationalists. The
Liberals had a majority of eighty-five over the Conservatives, and Parnell
commanded exactly eighty-five votes. The Government were beaten on an
amendment to the Address, and the Liberals came into office dependent on
the Nationalist vote. If they had had any reluctance to introduce a Home
Rule Bill, they must have been beaten in their turn. But Gladstone's line
of action had been sketched with sufficient definition to make it clear
that he would introduce some measure for the better government of Ireland,
and Lord Hartington, Goschen, Bright, and Sir Henry James refused on that
ground to join the Ministry. Before the Bill was introduced Mr. Chamberlain
and Mr. Trevelyan resigned, and the disruption of the Liberal party began.
The Bill was laid before the House on the 8th April, 1886. It proposed to
establish an Irish {296} Parliament and an Irish Executive responsible to
it. Law and police were included in their powers, but the establishment and
endowment of religion were not, nor were the Customs. Ireland was to levy
taxes and to pay one-twelfth of the British revenue to the Imperial
Treasury. This Bill was accompanied by a Land Purchase Bill, under which
the landlords might be bought out on the security of British credit.

The spirit of the Home Rule proposals was that of Liberal policy since
1868. The attempt to govern Ireland from England was to be given up, and
the right of the Irish people to have an Irish Government was to be
recognized, in the only possible way, by putting the government under the
control of Irish representatives. "The fault of the administrative system
of Ireland," said Gladstone, "is simply this--that its spring and source of
action is English, and not Irish.... Without having an Irish Parliament, I
want to know how you will bring about this result, that your administrative
system shall be Irish and not English?"[334] Recognition of the principle
of local independence would, it was hoped, be followed by a union between
the two peoples stronger than the union of mere form. "British force," said
Thomas Burt, one of the three working men in the Commons, "could do a great
deal; but it could not make a real and genuine union between one people and
another. That was only possible on a moral basis."[335] Home Rule, with all
its possible risks, was the Liberal substitute for government which was
alien, and consequently costly, obnoxious, and unsuccessful. It was not
that Englishmen and Irishmen were by nature so discordant that they could
not manage their joint affairs in harmony. As a problem of race differences
the Irish problem need never have existed. But artificial means had been
employed to produce a divergence of character almost as complete as the
divergence of East and West, of Europe and Asia. Successive English
Governments had first imagined and then in fact produced such an
incompatibility of temper as generally arises between nationalities so
distinct as Turk and Slav, or German {297} and Magyar, or Russian and Finn.
As Mr. Balfour has recently put it, "The difficulty is not that when
England went to Ireland it had to face nationality. The difficulty is that
the behaviour of England in Ireland has produced nationality."[336] With
this creation of her own selfish folly England had now to deal. Gladstone
proposed to fuse the ancestral antipathies in the common management of
common affairs.

The Tories had several mighty weapons. They appealed to Conservatives to
defend the Union. They appealed to Nonconformists against the threat of
Catholic domination in Ireland. They appealed to law-abiding citizens
against concession to violence, and against the gift of supremacy to a
political party which had not condemned, if it had not encouraged,
intimidation and murder. They appealed to the less worthy motives of
Liberals against whom Parnell had thrown the weight of his authority at the
election. They appealed to the timid persons who listened to the threats of
Ulster rebellion. They hinted at the development of municipal government.
But they did nothing to solve what Mr. John Morley told them was the
immediate problem of the hour, "How are you to govern Ireland?"[337] They
insisted, as usual, upon forms. They spoke of the greatness of the Empire
and the wickedness of severance, of the cost to the taxpayer and of
possible difficulties in case of foreign war. Much of the criticism of
detail was just, and there was emphasis of mechanical difficulties which
was sound enough. But nothing was expressed, in or out of Parliament, which
showed that the Opposition could contrive any system which should satisfy
the first condition of good government, that it should be acceptable to the
governed. The most powerful Tory argument was the shocking history of
agrarian crime. The sole argument which had moral force behind it was the
argument that the Ulster Protestants would be persecuted by the Catholic
Nationalists. Those who had used every engine of oppression to degrade and
demoralize their religious enemies had a very {298} genuine fear that the
hour of retaliation had arrived. If there had been any real chance for the
Nationalists, at the very gates of England, to avenge all the wrongs that
their race had suffered at the hands of Ulster, this risk would have been
enough to deter even Gladstone from Home Rule.

The Tory alternative was announced by Lord Salisbury to the Union of
Conservative Associations on the 15th May. In a passage which contained a
reference to Hottentots and Hindus, he declared that the Irish were
incapable of self-government. His policy was "that Parliament should enable
the Government of England to govern Ireland. Apply that recipe honestly and
resolutely for twenty years, and at the end of that time you will find that
Ireland will be fit to accept any gifts in the way of local government or
repeal of coercion laws that you may wish to give her. What she wants is
government--government that does not flinch, that does not vary." In plain
English, government by consent was to come to an end. The Irish were not to
control their own political affairs. They were to be kept in subjection to
a people whom they had every reason to regard as alien, and such force was
to be applied as should be necessary. The temper of Roman ascendancy,
applied by Palmerston to weak States like Greece, and by Disraeli to
uncivilized tribes like the Afghans, was thus to be exerted over a people
who, in all parts of the Empire, had shown themselves as capable of
managing political affairs as any nation in Europe. Disraeli had preached
the gospel of "Empire and Liberty." His successor preached the gospel of
"Empire before Liberty."

On the 8th June the Bill was defeated on the second reading. No less than
ninety-three Liberals voted with the Opposition, and the party broke into
pieces. The General Election completed its ruin. Before Parliament was
dissolved, a violent outbreak of Protestant savagery in Belfast was
suppressed by force of arms, and all the devils of racial and religious
ascendancy were awake. Egoism was reinforced by the ordinary reluctance of
Conservatism, by a very honest hatred of agrarian crime, and by an equally
honest if less reasonable fear of religious persecution. The Liberals were
{299} driven from the field in headlong rout, and the majority against Home
Rule was more than 120. Gladstone came into office again in 1892. But he
was without the essentials of power. The main current of political thought
remained Tory for twenty years.

This general political temper was Tory and not Conservative. It was more
positively reactionary than at any time since the Reform Act of 1832.
Peel's so-called Tory administration of 1841 contained many Liberal
elements. The Tory Ministries, which filled in the gaps in the subsequent
period of Whig ascendancy, were too short-lived to make any definite
expression of principles of government. The Toryism of the Disraeli Cabinet
was most marked in foreign policy, and at home made little display. But
between 1885 and 1905 the temper of the dominant party was definitely and
consistently Tory, and there was hardly any problem that it touched which
it did not stamp with the brand of Toryism. The prime cause of this
reaction was the dispute about Home Rule. The victory of Toryism in the
controversy of 1886 had much the same effect upon general politics as a
victory in the American War a hundred years earlier would have had. It
could only be gained by arguments which applied universally, and not only
in the particular case. The temper of the government of Ireland must be the
temper of the government of Great Britain and the Empire.

Even among Conservatives this Irish policy was sometimes described in
language which it deserved. No Liberal could put the case against Mr.
Balfour's system more concisely than Sir Michael Hicks-Beach when he warned
his constituents against "our favourite English habit of measuring
everything by the English rule, of bringing English prejudice to bear upon
the settlement of Irish affairs, and of looking upon Irishmen as our
inferiors rather than our equals."[338] This was the very temper of Mr.
Balfour, who believed that all the law and all the civilization in Ireland
are the work of England.[339] No Liberal ever {300} suggested that the
difficulties of Irish government had nothing to do with the character of
the Irish people. But no Liberal ever had any doubt that the character of
the Irish people, as it appeared in 1886, was very largely due to
deliberately vicious and demoralizing abuse of them by their English
conquerors. Mr. Balfour preferred to deal with them in the manner of a
statesman who wished them well, but was convinced that they could do no
good with themselves. Every manifestation of Irish discontent was thus
attributed to a natural incapacity for good behaviour under government.
Outrage and violence never attained in this Tory period to the proportions
with which the last Liberal Government had had to deal. But coercion was
applied as unsparingly as ever, and almost with cheerfulness. A Crimes Act,
a permanent Coercion Act, was passed in 1887, and under its powers the
Irish Executive might, by proclamation, apply it to any part of the country
whenever it pleased. Under this Act not only were agrarian crimes punished
and the armed forces of the Crown employed to collect rents and evict
tenants, but Irish newspapers were suppressed, and Irish members who made
speeches no more criminal than those of innumerable English, Scottish, and
Welsh Liberals were imprisoned with all the degrading incidents of cells,
clothing, and discipline which were forced upon common felons. Ireland was
governed as Egypt and India were governed, and a race which had shown
itself in other countries perfectly competent to sustain freedom of
discussion and representative institutions was treated in that despotic
temper which was elsewhere reserved for people of colour. Two incidents
displayed this Toryism at its very worst. The first was the affair of
Mitchelstown. The second was the Parnell Commission.

But before either of these events illustrated the mental habit of Toryism,
another had displayed its complete futility. Under the land Act of 1881
rents all over Ireland had been fixed for fifteen years. Immediately
afterwards the prices of agricultural produce began to fall, and the rents
which had been thought fair became unfair. Good landlords reduced their
demands of their own free {301} will. The type of landlord which was more
common in Ireland than anywhere else in the world spoke of "the sacredness
of judicial rents," and exacted the last penny of their dues. The usual
process of eviction, starvation, and riot began. The Plan of Campaign was
formed by the more determined Nationalists. Tenants who paid more than they
thought fit were to meet and agree what rents they should offer to their
landlord. If these were refused, the money was paid to a central fund,
which was used to resist evictions. This was a criminal conspiracy. But
criminal conspiracies are common in countries whose economic history
resembles that of Ireland, and this had at least the merit of being free
from violence and outrage. A Royal Commission inquired into the working of
the Act of 1881, and reported in favour of a revision of judicial rents.
Lord Salisbury, Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, and Mr. Balfour declared
emphatically that they would never interfere with the rents.[340] They
introduced a Land Bill in March, 1887. This Bill allowed leaseholders, who
had been excluded from the Act of 1881, to obtain the benefits of its
provisions. The Bill said nothing about revision. But Nature knew nothing
of racial and religious distinctions. The fall in prices had been
universal, and the tenants of Ulster complained as loudly as the tenants of
Connaught. The Government gave way, and amended the Bill. Then the
landlords set up an outcry, and the amendment was withdrawn. The tenants
again raised their voices, and seeing that to hold out meant that Ulster
and Nationalist Ireland might agree to subordinate their jealousies to
their common grievance, the Government again surrendered. When passed, the
Act provided for the revision of judicial rents. The first of the twenty
years of resolute government had ended in a fresh triumph for agrarian

Concession involved no change in temper. On the 9th September, 1887, a
meeting was held at Mitchelstown, at which English Members of Parliament
and English ladies were present. It was not illegal, and no attempt was
made to suppress {302} it. But the police wished to have a shorthand note
of the speeches, and with gross and unpardonable folly endeavoured to force
a reporter through the crowd. A squabble began, the police were hustled and
beaten with sticks, they retreated to their barracks and fired upon the
people who followed them, and three men were killed. All the facts except
one were obscure. There was no question that the police should have applied
for accommodation on or near the platform, instead of using force to
introduce their reporter. What happened afterwards required thorough
investigation. A coroner's jury returned a verdict of wilful murder against
six officers, but this was quashed on technical grounds by the High Court.
No other inquiry ever took place, though every means was used to put
pressure on the Government. Their duty was plain. Even if no policeman had
been technically guilty of crime, it was clear that there had been an
atrocious blunder. The Government was bound to make a strict investigation,
and to punish by censure, reduction of rank, or dismissal from the force
the officers who were responsible. Mr. Balfour did nothing of the kind. He
treated the affair of Mitchelstown as the Tories of 1819 had treated the
affair of Peterloo. Before any thorough inquiry could have been made, he
declared that the police were free from blame, and he never made any
attempt to do justice between them and the public. Only one meaning was to
be attached to his action. His policy was crudely egoistic. The English
Government was to decide at its pleasure by what rules of conduct it was to
be bound in its dealings with Ireland, and considerations of morality were
to be subordinated to the convenience of the executive. Gladstone appealed
to the British people to "remember Mitchelstown," and the affair became a
potent weapon in the hands of the Liberals. To refuse inquiry where injury
has been done to the person is the most unfortunate thing that an English
statesman can do. Not even the memories of agrarian crime could prevent
sober people from being alienated by this refusal of the opportunity of

The Parnell Commission was equally ugly. During April, {303} 1887, the
_Times_ newspaper published a series of articles which endeavoured to prove
that the Nationalist party were responsible for agrarian outrages of the
worst kind. On the 18th of the month it printed what professed to be a
letter from Parnell. If genuine, the letter showed that Parnell, while
publicly disapproving of the Phoenix Park murders, privately defended them.
As a matter of fact, it had been forged by a man named Pigott, and the
proprietor of the _Times_ had bought it with such credulity as showed that
he was completely reckless in his eagerness to injure Parnell. In November
an action was brought against the _Times_ by another Nationalist, and the
Attorney-General, who acted for the defendants, produced in court a number
of other letters of the same kind. Parnell then took action. He had been
advised by English Liberals that the verdict of a London jury would be
cast, from political motives, against him. He had known that a verdict on
the other side from a Dublin jury would get no credit out of Ireland. He
had therefore declined to issue a writ for libel. He now demanded an
inquiry by a Select Committee of the House of Commons. The Tories, who
believed the letter to be genuine, refused the Committee, but promised to
establish a Commission of three judges "to inquire into the allegations and
charges made against Members of Parliament by the defendants in the recent
action." This was accepted by Parnell instead of a Select Committee. But
the Government, without his consent, inserted the words "and other persons"
after the word "Parliament," and thus turned a particular inquiry into the
conduct of members into a roving investigation into Irish politics of the
last ten years. Members of Parliament, boycotters, defaulting tenants,
moonlighters, murderers, and maimers of cattle were all lumped together for
examination by a body which was incapable by its nature of giving weight to
the historical and economic condition of Ireland. Whether Parnell had
expressed approval of murder or not was a question of fact which could be
settled by a court of law better than by any one else. The rights and
wrongs of England and Ireland could not be tried by {304} any tribunal upon
earth, and Parnell's case was huddled up with the rest simply in the hope
that general prejudice against proved outrage might outweigh the effect of
an acquittal on the particular charge. Nothing would be settled by proving
that the National League had promoted outrage. The case for the League was
that it was the only means of obtaining justice for the Irish peasant. No
judge, however impartial, could try such an issue. The Bill establishing
the Commission was forced through the House, without the excuse of urgency,
by the use of the closure. Parnell was thus compelled to accept a tribunal
for which he had not asked, in order that the Tory party might find
judicial support for their case against Ireland. The facts revealed by the
inquiry were of no particular value. The forger shot himself, and the
letters were declared to be fabrications. The Irish members were acquitted
on the charge of encouraging crime, and condemned for not being more ready
to disapprove it. This was nothing new. The demoralization of respectable
Irishmen has been the worst result of English misgovernment of Ireland.
When worthy means of obtaining redress are exhausted it requires almost a
supernatural virtue not to acquiesce in unworthy means. The moral and
political defence of the Nationalists could not be heard by the Commission,
and the judgment did not affect it. So far as the affair influenced
independent opinion at all, it influenced it against the Government. The
eagerness with which the Tories had assumed the truth of the Parnell
letters, and the indecency with which they had confounded irrelevant issues
in order to present an indictment against a whole people were as vivid
illustrations as the Mitchelstown incident of Tory disregard of equity and
fair dealing. From this moment the Liberal party began to recover strength,
and the union between English Liberalism and Irish Nationalism became
indissoluble. But for the O'Shea divorce case, which discredited Parnell
and distracted the Nationalist party, the strength of the united forces
might have been sufficient to carry Home Rule in the next Parliament. In
the actual event, the Liberal victory at the election of 1892 was {305}
little more than nominal, and in 1895 Toryism asserted itself more
emphatically than before.

It was impossible for Toryism to govern Ireland in this spirit without the
contagion spreading to other quarters. Those who refused liberty to others
came near to losing their own, and those who claimed arbitrarily to dispose
of the fortunes of the Irish people found it an easy task to assert their
egoism elsewhere. During the twenty years which followed the rejection of
the first Home Rule Bill, every principle which Liberalism had inherited
from the Whigs, the Radicals, and the Manchester School was violated in
turn. The powers of hereditary aristocracy were increased,[341] the status
of woman was lowered, the Established Church was aggrandized, an attempt
was made to revive Protection, a sinister trade monopoly was allowed to
dictate the policy of the State in its own interest, a system of labour was
established under the British flag which was not distinguishable from some
ancient forms of slavery, the powers of Trade Unions were limited by
judicial decisions, a foreign State was invaded because it mismanaged its
internal affairs, large tracts, including the territories of two
self-governing races of white men, were annexed to the Empire by force,
morality was frankly struck out of the list of national virtues, and in its
favourite cant word "efficiency" Imperialism coined an exact equivalent for
the vertu of Macchiavelli. Even women suffered a loss of status. The
agitation for Woman Suffrage dwindled away. By the Education Act of 1902,
which abolished the old School Boards, they were deprived of one of their
opportunities of being elected to a public body, and were given in exchange
the inferior dignity of co-option to a committee of men. In 1897 they
received a worse blow, when the regulation of vice was re-established, in a
modified form, in India. These positive wrongs were accompanied by a
serious neglect to improve the conditions of common life, and the
consequences of neglect were made worse by the {306} burden of debt and the
increased expenditure on armaments which the prevailing policy involved. At
the end of the Tory period, when the excitement of the Boer War left the
people once more free to contemplate their own condition, economic reforms
were overdue, and attempts to grapple with the modern industrial problems
jostled with attempts to undo the work of positive reaction, and to assert
once more the Liberal principles of the previous generation.

It is of course not suggested that the Liberal Government of 1906 had to
begin again from the beginning. The practical reaction was not, and could
not have been, so complete as the moral. But the tide rose high and some
landmarks were covered. The full term of reaction was not reached until the
end of the century, and especially in the early years of Tory domination
more than one useful and Liberal measure was passed. Some of these were due
to Liberal Unionist influence. Others were in the line of previous Tory
action. Bradlaugh carried his Oaths Bill into law in 1888. In the same year
the Local Government Act abolished the old system of county administration,
and substituted councils elected by the ratepayers for the justices of the
peace who were appointed by the Lord Chancellor. In London a County Council
took the place of a Metropolitan Board of Works. This Act gave to all the
inhabitants of counties and of London that control of their own government
which had been enjoyed by the inhabitants of all other large towns since
the Whig Ministry of 1832. One blemish of importance was left in the Act, a
curious proof that this, like other Tory reforms in political machinery,
was due to a desire rather for efficient working than for the assertion of
any principle of popular freedom. Two women were elected to the first
London County Council, and a court of law decided that their election was
void. No attempt was made to remove the disability, which remained until
the revival of Liberalism in the twentieth century. Liberal Unionism
remained male. In Ireland more than one useful change was made. A private
Members' County Councils Bill was rejected in 1888. But in the same year a
{307} Land Act advanced £5,000,000 to assist land purchase, and in 1891 a
second Act provided for advances up to £30,000,000 for buying out the
landlords. Grants to relieve the distress caused by failure of the potato
crop were made in the usual spirit of Tory benevolence, and accompanied the
most relentless application of coercion. They prevented starvation, and
they did nothing to alter the popular enthusiasm for Home Rule. No amount
of indulgence from an acknowledged superior will satisfy the man who wants
only freedom to look after himself. Ireland took what she could get, and
asked for more. A last domestic reform was made in 1891, when education was
made free, as well as compulsory.

The Liberals came into office again in 1892. The most important result of
their brief triumph was perhaps the illustration which it afforded of the
power of the new party machinery in the country. The National Liberal
Federation met at Newcastle, immediately before the election, and succeeded
in imposing its will upon the Liberal party with questionable effect. It
seemed to be animated by the logical temper of the early Radicals rather
than by the practical, managing temper which is so essential to political
action. It advocated, among more orthodox things, the Disestablishment of
the Churches of Scotland and Wales, and a local veto on the sale of
alcoholic liquors. Both these proposals carried Liberal principles to
logical and unreasonable extremes. Disestablishment in Wales was a right
application of the principle of religious equality. To invest with public
privileges the members of a sect which contained a minority of the
population, and had been for more than a century alien in spirit as well as
in the nationality of its official heads, was one of those artificial
appreciations which are abhorrent to all Liberals. The Scottish case was
entirely different. The Established Church Of Scotland differed only in
unimportant details of constitution and government from the other Churches.
No social privileges were claimed or enjoyed by its members, and there was
no national demand for the abolition of its formal privileges. An
aristocratic Church with a form of service alien to the natural disposition
of the people was {308} an institution which the Welsh could reasonably
denounce. A Church which was as plain and sober in its habit as the
humblest chapel in the land was accepted by the Scotch because it never
claimed to be more than it was worth.

Local veto was as dangerous an application of logic as the Disestablishment
of the Church of Scotland. It meant that the majority of the inhabitants of
a district could prevent any one of them from obtaining a particular form
of refreshment. It was not a question of protecting weak men against
temptation by reducing the number of public-houses. Nor was it a question
of the inhabitants preventing a public-house being placed in a district
where none had been before. Either of these applications of a popular vote
would be legitimate. Every public-house above a certain number in
proportion to the population is a public nuisance, and if a man has gone to
reside in a neighbourhood where he cannot get a drink, it is quite
reasonable to argue that he has no real need of the opportunity. But local
veto means that the neighbours of an honest and sober citizen can impose on
him against his will total abstinence, a form of life of which he does not
approve. Modern forms of interference with economic freedom can generally
be justified on the ground that while they diminish the apparent liberty of
a few they increase the real liberty of many. Local veto is an attempt
rather to diminish the liberty of many in order to increase that of a few.
If the extreme view of it is accepted, that total abstinence must be
enforced because it is better than even moderate indulgence, it is not
distinguishable from the crudest Toryism, which forces upon some
individuals what others believe to be in their best interest. Hard lines
can never be drawn in politics. But local veto appears to be one of those
interferences with private conduct which are intolerable, even if they are

One or two Government measures were passed into law. District and Parish
Councils were established by an Act of 1893 to do the less important work
of rural government under the County Councils, and this Act was more
Liberal than that of 1888 in that it permitted the election of women. The
Budget {309} of 1894 greatly increased the death duties on landed property
and at last put an end to the advantages which it enjoyed in comparison
with other forms of wealth. The same Budget emphasized and extended the
principle of taxation according to ability to pay. Where money was required
by the State for public purposes, it was reasonable that those who had
large accumulations should pay at a higher rate than those who had small.
Equality of rate was not equality of taxation. The estates of deceased
persons were thus directly taxed upon a graduated scale, and the first step
was taken in the process of shifting fiscal burdens from the poorer to the
richer classes, which is so marked a feature of modern Liberal policy. This
reform, the House of Lords not having yet the boldness to interfere with
taxation, was carried without much difficulty. A more direct attempt to
improve economic conditions failed. The Employers' Liability Bill,
compensating workmen for injuries caused by the neglect of fellow-workmen
under the rank of foreman, was so amended by the Lords that it had to be
dropped. The second Home Rule Bill passed the Commons, but was beaten in
the Lords by ten to one. Gladstone resigned in March, 1894, and his place
was taken by Lord Rosebery, a splendid orator, who could never lead the
people because he could never understand them. Welsh Disestablishment and
Local Veto Bills were introduced and dropped, because even the House of
Commons would not pass them. The party collapsed in a few months, and the
Tories came back to office and to power. The tide had been but little
checked, and it now resumed its steady course away from Liberal ideals. The
examination of the current of events requires some preliminary
investigation of prevailing modes of thought.

It is impossible to understand the present methods of English political
thinking without some consideration of the theory of evolution. Both habits
of mind, the Liberal and the Tory, have been able to employ it for their
own purposes, and its influence upon Socialism at one extreme and
Imperialism at the other {310} has been equally marked. Darwin's book, _The
Origin of Species_, was published in 1859, and produced instantly a turmoil
in science and religion. Its bearing upon politics was less obvious, and
there are no traces of it in the speculations of such a philosophical
Liberal as Mill. The man who did most to bring the theory to bear upon
things other than biology was Herbert Spencer, who was anything but a
politician. But the channels by which its influence was poured into the
general mind had become, by the end of the century, too numerous for
discrimination, and the pulpit, the Press, the stage, the platform, and
popular literature of every kind were full of references to the struggle
for existence and the survival of the fittest. For good and evil the idea
of evolution had become part of the national stock.

Stated in plain terms, Darwin's theory was that the old conception of man,
as having been specially created by God in a state of blessedness from
which he fell by his own sin, was false, and that he had in fact been
gradually developed out of an inferior state to his present degree of
perfection. Humanity, like every other living thing, had been developed,
whether mechanically or by divine order was not important, by a constant
struggle with environment. Individuals, varying among themselves, were
placed under certain conditions of life, for which some were better suited
than others. Those who were fittest for the particular environment
survived, and transmitted their particular variations to their offspring.
When a sufficient number of generations had lived and died, these
variations or characters were permanently fixed in the stock, and a class
or species had appeared on the earth, which was distinct from others, who
in different environments had similarly developed different forms. This
theory was connected, not only with experiments and observations in the
field of biology, but with geological investigation and the system of
historical examination of constitutions, systems of law, and social
structure, which was becoming increasingly common in Darwin's day. All
united to emphasize the idea of growth. The eighteenth century appeared to
conceive of everything as stationary. The later {311} nineteenth century
conceived of everything as in motion. The organisms which were healthy and
vigorous were those which adapted themselves most successfully to their
environment, fixed new characters in their stocks, and rose from a lower
condition to a higher.

The immediate application of this theory to politics is obvious. If true,
it gives a scientific explanation and justification of change and
development. It is impossible at the present day for any political thinkers
to do what Sir Henry Maine did at the beginning of the Imperialist
reaction, and speak of change as a phenomenon peculiar to Western Europe
and of a stationary condition as the general rule.[342] Events of recent
years in Japan, China, India, Persia, Turkey, and Egypt have exposed the
false basis of his reasoning. But even without this experience, a
post-Darwinian politician would point to the changelessness of the East as
in itself a sign of degeneracy, and the restlessness of the West as a proof
of its superiority. Life is identified with change. Movement is normal,
activity the universal rule of health. The peoples who stagnate, decay; and
the one test of vitality is the capacity to receive and to apply new ideas.
The primeval mollusc indeed saved itself from injury by its protective
shell, and its descendants are molluscs to this day. The organisms which,
consciously or unconsciously, preferred mobility and risk to immobility and
perfect safety, have evolved, through countless intervening steps, to man.
The modern outburst of reforming zeal is thus not spasmodic, but only an
acceleration of an eternal process of development. The old Toryism is dead
and damned. The maintenance of the old, without inquiry and without
readjustment, is the upsetting of the natural order. The prospect of change
has lost its terrors. What we fear to-day is not change, but permanence; or
rather, we seek for permanence in a line of change.

The evolutionary philosophy has thus come directly to the aid of
Liberalism, and some reformers, particularly a certain school of
Socialists, apply it mechanically to the growth of {312} society, as from
home industry to factory industry, from factory industry to the Trust, and
from the Trust to the national organization of production. But most
advocates of change are more cautious, and are content to find in it a
defence of the need or the harmlessness of change. On the other hand, it
has moderated the reforming temper. No Liberal of any capacity of mind can
now rush to the cutting and carving of society with the cheerful zeal of
Paine or Bentham. There can be for him no cutting off and beginning afresh.
The historical caution which distinguishes Mill from Bentham must now be
emphasized in his successors. Reform must be a process of training and
adaptation, not of destruction and substitution. Logic must be applied with
circumspection, and if the statesman has now a more certain hope that the
people will ultimately achieve happiness, he is no less sure that they can
never be dragged into it by the hair of the head.

While the idea of evolution has thus operated both to encourage and to
discipline the Liberal temper, it has also operated to give license to the
Tory. The most brutal egoism is supported by pseudo-scientific applications
of the theory of the survival of the fittest. Some thinkers find in the
mere existence of a governing class a proof that its members were the
fittest for their position. Capacity for government has been bred into our
aristocracy, as beef is bred into a bullock, or speed into a racehorse, and
the poor members of other classes represent the unfit stocks, who have
fallen, by the operation of natural laws, into the position best suited to
them. Neglect of social reform is justified, in a similar way, on the
ground that the economic struggle eliminates unfit types, and that to make
life easier for the masses of the people is to preserve undesirable stocks
in the race. It is useless, and even positively dangerous, to interfere
between landlord and tenant, and master and workman, or to put an end to
slums and sweating. These things should be left to themselves. In the
apparently dreadful conflict between individuals and their environment,
beneficent laws are at work. The fittest men will survive out of this as
the fittest {313} organisms survive in the animal kingdom. Good sense and
common humanity have generally prevailed over these two applications of the
theory. But in foreign policy it has unquestionably dominated modern
Toryism. As among primitive invertebrates, so among civilized races of
mankind, it is only in struggle that any one can be developed to its
highest capacity. International politics should therefore be a system of
perpetual antagonism. It is only in war that we can develop those vigorous
qualities which are essential to human as to animal progress. Humanity and
consideration for others are fatal to that success in the internecine
strife, which is necessary for the survival of the fittest among nations.
The consideration of evolutionary Toryism in domestic affairs is postponed
to the next chapter. It is here necessary only to deal with its connection
with what is called Imperialism. At the end of the last century it
unquestionably combined with the apparent success of Bismarck to revive and
aggravate egoism in foreign policy.

The first serious suggestion of Imperialism was made by Disraeli in 1872.
Speaking at the Crystal Palace, he said that "self-government, when it was
conceded, ought to have been conceded as part of a great policy of Imperial
consolidation. It ought to have been accompanied by an Imperial tariff ...
and by a military code which should have precisely defined the means and
the responsibilities by which the Colonies should have been defended, and
by which, if necessary, this country should call for aid from the Colonies
themselves. It ought further to have been accompanied by the institution of
some representative council in the metropolis which would have brought the
Colonies into constant and continuous relations with the Home
Government.... In my judgment, no Minister in this country will do his duty
who neglects any opportunity of reconstructing as much as possible our
colonial Empire, and of responding to those distant sympathies which may
become the source of incalculable strength and happiness to this land." He
exhorted his hearers to choose between national and cosmopolitan
principles, and to fight "against Liberalism on the continental system."
Nothing was {314} done by his Ministry to carry out the plan of Imperial
consolidation, except the addition of the Imperial title to the dignity of
the Crown and the abortive attempt to federate South Africa. The fight
against cosmopolitanism was not avoided, and the demonstrations against
Russia in Turkey and Afghanistan showed the fatal ease with which large
conceptions of national importance degenerate into vulgarity. The new idea
of Empire was thus early identified with national insolence and immorality.

The federation of self-governing dominions has not been the most striking
feature of Imperialist policy since Disraeli. In the last thirty years of
the nineteenth century four and three-quarter millions of square miles of
land and eighty-eight millions of human beings were added to the Empire,
and of the latter only two millions were white people.[343] The primary
object of all these extensions was not the incorporation of free peoples in
a federal union, but the subjugation of weak peoples for the purposes of
private profit. The British trader and the British capitalist who wanted
security for his foreign investments were the pioneers of Empire, and in
South Africa they succeeded, not only in incorporating, by methods often
worse than dubious, races of barbarians, but in dragging the whole British
people into a costly war for the annexation of two civilized Republics.
Imperialism has not of set purpose extended liberty in any part of the
globe. It has introduced order and justice into some unsettled tracks, it
has provided capital for the development of neglected natural resources,
and in South Africa it showed how readily it would subordinate the moral to
the material interests of Empire. The only conspicuous extensions of
liberty during the period of expansion have been made by Liberals, and in
South Africa they acted in the face of almost unanimous protest from the
Imperialist party. The successes of Imperialism have been material.

The steady deterioration which has taken place in the ideals of Imperialism
has already been indicated. Its moral failure {315} is due simply to the
fact that the object of expansion was never in any case moral.
Incidentally, as in India, Egypt, and Nigeria, an enlightened bureaucracy
has avoided the blunders of exploitation and oppression. But for the most
part, the best that can be said of our rule is that it is disinterested.
Little has been done, even in India, to train and develop the higher
faculties of the natives, and it is only in the Liberal reforms of Lord
Morley that definite steps towards self-government have been taken. We are
in these countries frankly to maintain order and to produce wealth, and for
the most part we attempt nothing else. Benefits to the natives are only
incidental and not primary. Unquestionably the growth of the Empire has
extended the advantages of civilization to backward and uncultivated
districts. But it has been promoted by the zeal of the investor rather than
of the missionary. The enormous growth of wealth required new fields for
investment. Visions of national grandeur were employed to direct the common
people from the social reforms which would have reduced this wealth. The
Press, the pulpit, and the platform united to represent the material
pursuit of gain as a disinterested labour on behalf of humanity. A mist of
moral enthusiasm was wrapped about the crude realities of commercial
enterprise, and the acquisition of wealth by private persons was disguised
in the trappings of national magnificence. Much honest enthusiasm was thus
generated which commercial and financial magnates turned to their
advantage. But in the face of temptation the artificial structure
collapsed. National egoism and cupidity have now converted the organization
for the distribution of blessings into an organization for the monopolizing
of profits. The Empire is to-day regarded by Imperialists as essentially
national, and not as essentially international. It is to be surrounded by a
tariff for the exclusion of the foreign trader, and it is to be organized
as a gigantic weapon against those nations with which, for the time being,
we happen to be at variance.

This conception of Empire has grown with those false applications of
evolutionary theory to which reference has been previously {316} made. The
objects of the organization of the State having ceased to be moral, it has
ceased to be moral in its methods of working. International morality is
flung away with the other rules of conduct, and material success becomes
the sole justification of public action. "As a nation we are brought up to
feel it a disgrace to succeed by falsehood; the word 'spy' conveys in it
something as repulsive as slave. We will keep hammering away with the
conviction that honesty is the best policy, and that truth always wins in
the long run. These pretty little sentences do well enough for a child's
pocket-book, but the man who acts upon them in war had better sheathe his
sword for ever."[344] Out of success, by whatever methods it may be
achieved, this school proposes to acquire the desirable human qualities. By
warfare, and warfare only, whether it be military or diplomatic, is it
possible for a people to develop and to retain strength, courage, and
resource. Those nations which survive in this perpetual conflict are
presumed, in the Darwinian phrase, to be the "fittest." Survival justifies
itself. Success is the test of virtue, and the steps by which it is
obtained may be safely ignored. The gross fallacies of this process of
argument have been sufficiently dealt with by other hands.[345] It is only
necessary here to suggest the Liberal answer. A State is not an individual.
It is simply an expression of the ideas of a human society, or aggregation
of human beings. The morals of a State are nothing but the morals of its
individual members. To say that morality must be observed by those members
in their dealings with each other, but not in their collective dealings
with the members of other States, is to weaken private and not public
morality. Public morality is not distinguishable from private. The man who
abstains from stealing his neighbour's goods cannot, without personal
deterioration, join his neighbours in appropriating the territory of
another {317} nation. Morality has gradually spread from organizations
within the State till it includes all persons within the State. In the
remote past, morality was observed only in dealings between members of the
same family. Strangers took their chance. At a later date it was extended
to the tribe, or the village, or the Church, and finally to all subjects of
the same central government. There is no reason for stopping the operation
of moral rules at the Straits of Dover, that would not prevent an
Englishman from dealing honourably with a Scotchman, or a Churchman from
dealing honourably with a Dissenter. Morality must be universal, or it
ceases to be morality. The argument thus outlined must be fatal to
evolutionary Imperialism. Qualities cannot be developed in nations. They
can only be developed in the individuals who compose those nations. To
speak of a strong and virile State is to obscure the issue. Strong and
virile States can only be those which are maintained by strong and virile
human beings. States which "survive" by the exercise of force and fraud can
only be those whose subjects have ceased to dislike force and fraud. In
other words, the evolution of the individual and the evolution of the State
cannot proceed upon different lines. Man has now reached a point of
development where mere brute strength has ceased to be a desirable quality.
The test of a man is always a moral test. We have evolved morality. If we
formally reject morality in our use of the State, for the express purpose,
as it were, of "breeding it out," we deliberately turn back the course of
human evolution. The State will react upon the individual, and the
individual will suffer. We cannot select certain qualities for individuals,
and certain others for States, and suppose that evolution can be directed
towards the development of both together.

British Imperialism, thus strengthening its natural tendency to egoism by
the assimilation of scientific theory, has been only a local manifestation
of an almost universal tendency. The career of Bismarck in Germany formed
an excellent example of the operation of the same principles. Germany
consolidated, France and Austria humiliated, and territory snatched from
France and {318} Denmark have invested the gospel of "State might is State
right" with a lustre which conceals the deterioration of private morals,
the distresses of the common people, and the profound social unrest, which
this costly parade has brought in its train. Men and women as individuals
may sometimes escape the Nemesis which waits on immorality. Nations can
never die, and the debt incurred by one generation must always be paid by
its successor. Only a short view of German history can fail to see the
dangers which the policy of Bismarck has brought upon his country. The
reaction of Russian policy upon the internal state of Russia is more
obvious, and the case of Great Britain is hardly less clear. But for the
moment, Imperialism is the fashion at home and abroad. The earth is
parcelled out among the Powers. England, Germany, and France share Africa
between them. Austria covets and by instalments obtains territory in the
Balkans. Russia is thrust out of Manchuria, and compensates herself in
Mongolia and Persia. All join in wresting concessions of territory and
financial opportunities from China, and even the United States takes her
colonies from Spain. In all parts of the earth the Powers are thus brought
into new competition. The Balance of Power is revived, but for investors
and not for dynasties. The struggle is for opportunities for the private
acquisition of wealth, rather than opportunities for the public control of
territory. But the result is the same. Obligations are indefinitely
extended. The risks of conflict are indefinitely increased. The burden of
armaments grows larger every year. The common people are more and more
removed from the decision of the most far-reaching public questions, and
know little more of the things which may decide their fate than is forced
upon them by the weight of their taxes and the advice which they receive
from their governors for the direction of their national antipathies.

British Imperialism came to a head in the South African War. Since the
troubles of 1880 the condition of the Transvaal had greatly changed. The
discovery of gold had caused an enormous flow of immigrants, mostly of
British descent. The {319} government remained in the hands of more
primitive men, who resented the intrusion of this foreign and industrial
population. Paul Kruger, the last President, was a stubborn member of the
old school, and while he possessed the confidence of his own countrymen, he
was incapable of appreciating the necessity for new ideas and new
institutions which the new economic conditions had produced. The older men,
who had not forgotten how they had wrested their independence out of the
unwilling hands of England, were being steadily overtaken by men of wider
views, who saw clearly enough that independence could not be maintained for
ever on the basis of racial distinctions. Government could not be kept for
ever in the hands of Dutch agriculturists, when the most vigorous, the best
educated, and almost the most numerous section of the community were
British industrialists. The existing system was the system which produced
our Irish problem. But in the Transvaal the problem was neither so old nor
so acute as in Ireland, and there was no question that time would have
remedied all the grievances of the Outlanders. The conflict of the two
races would have died a natural death, and would have ended in the
Transvaal, as it had ended long before in Cape Colony, in amicable
adjustment. The disease would have run its course. But the folly of British
Imperialism preferred a surgical operation. The Outlanders who agitated for
reforms of the franchise, of taxation, and of the judicial system, were
used for purposes other than their own. A group of South African
politicians, headed by Cecil Rhodes, a genuine, if unscrupulous
Imperialist, and including several financial magnates, whose interest in
the Empire was pecuniary rather than hereditary, determined to use the
legitimate grievances of the Outlanders as weapons for the destruction of
the Transvaal Republic. Rhodes was determined, at all costs, to unite South
Africa under the British flag. His less enthusiastic associates wanted to
control the Transvaal Government in their own interest, and they knew that
they could not control it unless it was made British. Therefore they took
steps to provoke a war which should end in the annexation of the Republic.

Case for armed interference by Great Britain there was none. The Convention
of 1884, which reserved to her some rights in connection with foreign
affairs, was intended to leave the Transvaal independent in domestic
matters. Undoubtedly she might have interfered on behalf of her own
subjects, if they had suffered gross oppression. But they had not. They had
entered the country in pursuit of gain, and many of them had acquired
enormous wealth. They were denied the franchise, which they ought to have
possessed. But disfranchisement had not exposed them to peculiar hardships,
and the current of opinion among the Dutch was setting steadily in their
favour. Taxation, though heavy, was not ruinous. Justice, though generally
slovenly and sometimes corrupt, was no worse than in many parts of the
United States. The general condition of the Outlanders was infinitely
superior to that of the vast majority of the English people before 1832,
and no grievance was so intolerable as to make it impossible to wait until
the old governing class of Dutch was replaced by the new. There was ample
reason for political pressure from within. There was ample reason for
diplomatic representations from without. There was no reason for armed
force either within or without.[346]

Having no case for war on the merits, the Imperial and financial
politicians proceeded to manufacture one for themselves. A systematic
campaign of calumny against the Transvaal Government was begun in the
African and British newspapers, every abuse was exaggerated, and every
incident misinterpreted. The climax was reached at the end of 1895, when,
with the connivance of Rhodes, Dr. Jameson led a small party of invaders
into the Transvaal. This expedition, as wicked a violation of State rights
as has ever been made, was designed expressly to provoke rebellion and
intervention. It was invested with all the splendour of a war for liberty,
and a forged invitation had been {321} prepared some weeks before, to be
discharged at the critical moment, which represented that the honour of
English women in Johannesburg was in danger from the Dutch. The Raid met
with the fate which its vicious inspiration and the foul lie which
accompanied it deserved. The final effect of it was to destroy all the
moral authority of the British Government, and to convince even the Dutch
Reformers that they could only maintain their independence by force of
arms. When Mr. Chamberlain publicly declared that Rhodes had done nothing
inconsistent with honour, and, in the course of further negotiations about
the franchise, revived the obnoxious term "suzerainty," all chance of peace
had gone. The Dutch were consolidated against the English as the French had
been consolidated in 1793, reform was denounced as inconsistent with
patriotism, and diplomatic language was received with suspicion as
proceeding from a hopelessly corrupt and tainted source. War began in 1899,
and ended, after a display of energy and resource by the enemy which none
of our responsible statesmen had expected, in the annexation of both the

The events of the war are of little importance for this book. A Liberal,
who witnessed this display of national egoism, with its boastful
beginnings, its slovenly neglect of preparations for its own work, the
bestial ferocity of language with which it assailed its enemy, and its
hysterical exultation at its final triumph, can find no pleasure in the
recollection of it. Posterity will pass its final judgment in its own time,
and if it sees virtue in the conduct of our soldiers in the field and in
the colonial zeal for the common interest of the Empire, it will doubtless
see more in the stubbornness of the Dutch and in the devotion with which
the people of the Orange Free State sacrificed life, property, and
independence in a cause which was not their own. The actual event was
probably more beneficial to us than either the thorough defeat which our
vanity deserved, or the easy and overwhelming triumph which it anticipated,
would have been. The one might have broken up the Empire. The other might
have led us into further exploits of the same kind, which could only have
ended in {322} our final overthrow. The chastisement was serious enough to
reform without destroying. The violent emotions produced by the war, and
the distress consequent on its waste of life and treasure, roused the
common people, whose attention had been diverted by conceptions of Imperial
magnificence to other parts of the world, once more to the contemplation of
their own affairs. Even before the end of the fighting the reaction had
begun, and when the Imperialists were driven out of office in 1905, it was
the despised and discredited Pro-Boer, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, who
was at the head of their successors.

Before this change of Government, Toryism had completed its course of
reaction. Its government of Ireland had finally broken down. The system of
Local Government by County Councils, rejected in 1888, was established in
1898, and in 1904 British credit was pledged to secure the extinction of
landlordism by purchase. But if Tory government of Ireland had become
little more than the tardy application of Liberal principles, its
government of England remained its own. In 1902 fresh vigour was given by
the Education Act to the Established Church and its itch for instructing
the children of Dissenters in its own dogmas. In 1904 the drink trade
procured a Licensing Act, which gave it a new legal property in its
opportunities for demoralizing the people, by making it impossible to
abolish superfluous public-houses except on payment of compensation out of
a limited fund. In 1903 Imperialism came to its natural end, by proposing
to revive the old system of Protection, with a preference to the Colonies
as against foreign countries. This was partly a Tory way of dealing with
economic distress, and it has unquestionably appealed to honest as well as
to corrupt sentiment. But its essential principles are national jealousy
against foreign peoples, and the abuse of the common people by the
plutocracy. To both these Liberalism found itself in 1903 in direct
opposition. Tariff Reform involved a rise in the cost of living which would
press most hardly on the poor, it involved the control of tariffs by vested
interests of landlords and manufacturers, and, less certainly, of Trade
Unionists. There was nothing in it which {323} distinguished it in essence
from the old Protection, and Liberalism was, in this line of attack,
reinforced by the Conservatism which had grown around Free Trade. A last
provocation to the working classes had been given by judicial decisions,
which construed the legislation of thirty years before to deprive the Trade
Unions of their powers of peaceful picketing, and exposed their accumulated
funds to actions for damages for wrongs done by their agents during trade
disputes. Trade Union activity was thus stimulated. The new Labour Party
came into existence, and joined with the opponents of Tory Imperialism, the
Nonconformists alienated by the Education Act, the people of all classes
who had been offended by the Licensing Act, the Conservative Free Traders,
and those who were anxious to resume the work of economic reconstruction,
to overwhelm the Tory Party at the General Election.

       *       *       *       *       *




The policy of the Liberal Government which came into power in 1906 was the
policy of those who had followed the old course during the Imperialist
reaction. The general principles laid down by the new Prime Minister did
not differ substantially from those of Gladstone, though the problems with
which he had to deal were not precisely the same. His argument against
Tariff Reform was inspired by the same zeal for personal freedom as those
which he used against Chinese Labour, the Education Act, and aggression in
South Africa. It was a conflict between habits of mind, and not a
difference of opinion. Protection placed the common people at the mercy of
capitalists and landlords, and increased the political power of plutocracy.
Chinese labour established an industrial system, which had for its primary
object, not the well-being of all its members, but the increase of the
profits of capital. The Education Act subjected large numbers of
Nonconformists to the domination of the Established Church in the
instruction of their children. The Boer War was a brutal interference with
the national concerns of a foreign race. The Liberal attack on the
Imperialist position was thus general and not particular. Liberals in this
matter were not fighting a single proposal, but a whole spirit and tone of
policy and administration and legislation. "These fiscal proposals were
saturated, as the whole of the present Government had been found to be,
with restriction against freedom, with inequality between trade and trade
with injustice towards the community of consumers, with {325} privilege and
monopoly, with jealousy and unfriendliness towards other nations. They were
essentially part of a retrograde and anti-democratic system."[347] It was
this clear sight of the real issues of the moment which extinguished Lord
Rosebery, and brought back the Liberals who had supposed they could at once
support the Boer War and retain Liberal habits of mind in domestic affairs.
The great social currents which had run strong until Home Rule produced a
temporary diversion had once more gathered head, and those who suggested
that the Liberal party could take a clean slate, and ignore the writings of
its predecessors, were sharply reminded by the result of the election that
it was their duty to take up the tale where it had been interrupted twenty
years before. When the flood of war had subsided, the social stream was
found running in the channel which it had followed since the French
Revolution. The bad memories of Ireland were not effaced. The problems of
industry were more urgent than ever. The pent-up hopes of women broke free.
Nonconformity once more demanded relief from sectarian domination. Only
those could deal with the new situation who had not tried to forget how
they had been accustomed to deal with the old. Lord Rosebery, punting about
for a new course, grounded on the shallows, and was left behind.
Campbell-Bannerman, holding on the old course through the storm, found
himself afloat, and set for a prosperous journey.

Much of the Liberal work done since 1905 has consisted in the undoing of
the work of reactionary Toryism. For the first time since the close of the
French War, Liberalism has found itself engaged in maintaining
establishments, and in leading the people to reoccupy positions which they
have evacuated. Free Trade is a purely negative policy, and means nothing
but keeping the ground clear for economic reconstruction. The unsuccessful
attempts at Education and Licensing Reform would at best have done no more
than restore the social values which had been established in the previous
century. The extension of {326} self-government to the Transvaal and the
Orange River Colony undid, so far as it could be undone, the war, and
restored freedom.[348] The abolition of Chinese Labour was a complete
reversal of a policy only a few years old. The Trade Disputes Act of 1906
put Trade Unions in the legal position which they had occupied without
question for twenty years after 1874.[349] All this work of restoration
hampered the Government in its positive work, and when it ought to have
been free to deal with the peculiar problems of its own day, it was forced
to wait while it resettled those of a previous generation. The most
original work of the new Liberalism has been economic. What most
distinguishes the Governments which have held office since 1906 is the
degree to which they have interfered with the economic structure of society
in order to give greater freedom to the poorer classes. This work was begun
under Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, and since Mr. Lloyd George has relieved
Mr. Asquith of the duty of inspiring his followers with new ideas, has been
controlled and directed by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer. The
Budget of 1909, the Old Age Pensions Act, the Workmen's Compensation Act,
the Wages Boards Act, the Labour Exchanges Act, the Education (Provision of
Meals) Act, and the Insurance Act have all one feature in common, the use
of State machinery for the active assistance of the economically weak. The
principle of the Factory Acts has been extended into projects for Social
Reform, the number and variety of which may be almost indefinitely
increased. Burke's test of convenience is applied even to the {327} right
of property. "Private property is no longer regarded as one of the natural
rights of man; its incidents are considered and settled by the common
modern criterion of all these matters--to wit, the balance of social

This growth of the importance attached to economic problems has appeared
sudden only to those who have been at once deaf to the warnings of history
and without experience of personal hardship. The dangers once expected from
extensions of the franchise had receded from the view of a plutocracy and a
middle class, which had contemplated for twenty years a common people
dazzled by visions of national greatness.[351] The clamour with which these
disposing classes greeted the new democracy in 1906 expressed the natural
dismay of those who had thought that they could always manage the people as
they pleased, and now realized, in the presence of forty working men
elected to the House of Commons, that the people were going to manage
themselves. Gladstone's concentration upon Ireland had delayed this advent.
But for his adoption of Home Rule, the new policy, already suggested by Mr.
Chamberlain, would have been incorporated in practical Liberalism at least
fifteen years earlier. It was not made less ominous by the postponement.
Economic discontent was both more bitter and more articulate in 1906 than
it would have been in 1891. The Trade Unions had been roused by hostile
judicial decisions. The political organizations of workmen were perfected,
and the Trade Unions and the Independent Labour Party worked in harmony.
The workmen formed a distinct party of their own, and several of their
{328} representatives were of definitely Socialist opinions. Outside the
working classes the public mind had been directed more and more to the
study of industrial problems. The Fabian Society had been active for twenty
years, and Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Webb were only the most industrious of the
many investigators who were establishing a historical and scientific case
for reform. All this improvement of machinery marched with an increase in
actual distress. The war added not only to the temporary, but also to the
permanent burdens of the poor, and not merely by accumulating debt, but by
increasing the expenditure on armaments which an immoral policy required
for its defence. The dislocation of industry, which always follows a war,
had brought insecurity to many and destitution to not a few. Casual labour
was more general, and sweating not less than at any previous period. In
every direction distress and discontent had increased, and the political
machinery was now adapted to the direct and articulate expression of the
feelings of the common people. The Parliament of 1906 represented the
desire of the masses to fit their conditions of life to their own capacity
for growth.

Liberals were bound to apply themselves to the new conditions in a new way,
and it savours of pedantry to accuse Liberal economists of 1906 of having
departed from the principles of Liberal economists of 1846. Paradoxical as
it may appear to say that a positive policy of constant interference is the
same as a negative policy of constant abstention, it is true that the
mental habit at the back of the one is identical with that at the back of
the other. Both aim at emancipating the individual from the things which
prevent him from developing his natural capacities. The Manchester School
saw only the fetters which directly impeded him. The modern Liberal sees
also the want of the positive aids without which he is only half free. "Of
all the obstacles which obstruct men's advance towards good living, and of
all the evils with which politics can help to deal, there is no obstacle
more formidable and no evil more grave than poverty.... Our first principle
leads clearly and directly to a policy of social {329} reform. Whoever
admits that the duty of the State is to secure, so far as it is able, the
fullest opportunities to lead the best life, cannot refuse to accept the
further proposition, that to lessen the causes of poverty and to lighten
its effects are essential parts of a right policy of State action."[352]
Poverty cripples the individual in many ways. It deprives him of mobility,
so that he cannot travel freely in search of employment. It prevents him
from accumulating reserves for times of emergency, so that a depression in
trade or an illness of a month's duration may drive an honest and
industrious man with his wife and family to the workhouse, and make it
impossible for him ever again to resume his place in the ranks of
independent labour. It disables him from saving enough to keep himself in
his old age, and thus makes him either an additional burden on his children
or a charge upon the ratepayers. If bad enough, it permanently reduces his
bodily, mental, and moral efficiency, stunts his faculties, prevents the
full development of his children, and creates disease, vice, and crime in
himself and his descendants. The diseases, the temporary losses of
employment, and the fluctuations in income which, to a man of substantial
means, may never be, and cannot immediately be disastrous, often involve in
the case of the ordinary wage-earner, the complete destruction of
everything which makes life worth living. No one who seriously believes
that it is the duty of society to secure freedom of growth to every one of
its members can doubt that it is its duty to mitigate, so far as it is
able, those consequences of poverty which no degree of thrift, enterprise,
or fortitude can avert.

To this end the economic reforms of the new Liberalism have been directed.
The Labour Exchanges Act did not furnish work for all. It provided
facilities for obtaining work for all who sought for it. The workman is no
longer left to scramble about for fresh employment. He goes to a public
office, where he learns what posts are vacant, and is put in touch with
those who may be willing to employ him. No man can now complain that
because he cannot afford to travel in search of work, or to delay {330} for
more than a day or two before he finds it, he has suffered a permanent
deterioration in health or character. If this Act can eliminate the evils
of casual and irregular labour, it will have enormously increased
individual liberty for growth.[353] The Old Age Pensions Act removed from
the shoulders of working-class families what was to many an intolerable
burden. Before the Act came into force some thousands of men and women,
from no cause but the lapse of time, became incapable of supporting
themselves. The alternatives were the workhouse and the generosity of their
children. The first meant a loss of independence for themselves, the second
a fetter upon the freedom of their relations. In the absence of sickness
requiring hospital treatment, the pension of five shillings a week is
generally sufficient to maintain the dignity of the pensioner and the
efficiency of the children. The Workmen's Compensation Act, extending Mr.
Chamberlain's Acts of 1896 and 1900, insures the working people against
accident as the Old Age Pensions Act insures them against age, and the
Insurance Act against sickness and unemployment due to causes beyond their
control. So the Act providing for the feeding of necessitous children in
public schools aims at preventing the permanent deterioration of body and
character which is produced by inadequate nourishment in the early years of
life. So the Wage Boards Act and the Miners' Minimum Wage Act established
machinery for fixing a wage in certain employments which, having regard to
the circumstances of each trade, would insure that the wage-earner should
enjoy a reasonable standard of health and comfort. All these measures are
based upon the same principle, that absolute liberty of the individual
meant the degradation, if not the destruction, of many individuals who were
poor. There can be no equal chance of growth so long as accidents which
cannot be averted, by any effort of the individual, may permanently impair
his natural capacity. Social reform is {331} justified as a national army
is justified. It is a system of common organization for the purpose of
common protection. What Mr. Churchill said of insurance may be said of all
these economic projects: "I think it is our duty to use the strength and
the resources of the State to arrest the ghastly waste, not merely of human
happiness, but of national health and strength, which follows when a
working man's home, which has taken him years to get together, is broken up
and scattered through a long spell of unemployment, or when, through the
death, the sickness, or the invalidity of the bread-winner, the frail boat
in which the fortunes of the family are embarked founders, and the women
and children are left to struggle helplessly on the dark waters of a
friendless world."[354] The conception of society is no longer that of an
extended procession, the strongest pushing on to the full limit of their
powers, while the country to the rear is strewn with the sick and injured.
It is that of a compact army, every man of which has to be brought in, with
a sufficient organization of waggons and ambulances to pick up all the

This elaboration of the system of protection is not inconsistent with such
competition as is necessary for the development of character, and for the
production of the wealth which is so distributed among the members of
society. It is not Socialism. It is not a system of doles. It removes only
some of the risks of failure, and only those which are beyond individual
control. No man is made less thrifty because at the age of seventy he will
receive five shillings a week. No man works the better for knowing that if
he is ever ill for a month he and his family will never be free again, or
will work the worse for knowing that his home will be kept together until
he is able once more to support it by his own exertions. No woman gets any
virtue out of working fifteen hours a day for seven days a week, with the
knowledge that even then she will not earn enough to keep herself in food
and clothing without recourse to charity or prostitution, and her character
will not be deteriorated when a {332} level is fixed below which her wages
cannot fall. The benefit of competition remains. The disasters inevitably
attendant on it are averted. The poorer people no longer wrestle on the
brink of an unfenced precipice. "I do not want to see impaired the vigour
of competition, but we can do much to mitigate the consequences of failure.
We want to draw a line below which we will not allow persons to live and
labour, yet above which they may compete with all the strength of their
manhood. We want to have free competition upwards; we decline to allow free
competition to run downwards. We do not want to pull down the structures of
science and civilization, but to spread a net over the abyss."[355] "It is
clear that the unlimited and uncontrolled struggle of wages spells anarchy
almost as painful in its effects as the unlimited and uncontrolled
competition of physical force in our streets and highways. What is to be
the remedy? What, using the expression in its broadest sense, appears to be
the solution--whether through Parliament, local boards, or an independent
Commission--to which we are heading? A Plimsoll line for labour as well as
for ships; a line above which the ship is not to sink with its burden when
it puts out to sea; a line to limit with human lives on land as with those
'who go down to the sea in great ships,' the extent of peril and suffering
to which the worker is to be liable. Not to abolish competition any more
than competition has been abolished in ships. Competition will always be
powerful enough. But to limit the strife--to fix a ring round the
prize-fight--to protect the vital parts from the blows of the
combatants."[356] These statements reconcile the old individualism with the
new. Individual growth can only take place in competition. But it is not
necessary that failure in competition should be mortal. The struggle of
competition is to go on. But it is not to go on to the death. Economic
society is to be converted into a gigantic Trade Union,[357] based upon the
{333} belief that the highest good of the individual can only be secured in
co-operation with his fellows, and limiting his freedom only in so far as
it is necessary to secure freedom to his associates.

It is obvious that this new economic Liberalism has borrowed largely from
Socialism, and it has one character in common with Protection. Once we
admit that it is right for the State to interfere with economic freedom, we
have advanced one step on the road which leads towards the nationalization
of industry and towards the regulation of production by tariffs. The
difference between Social Reform and Tariff Reform is nevertheless clear.
Social Reform operates directly, only where it is needed, and without
substantially interfering with any individual's enjoyment of life. Tariff
Reform, if it can destroy poverty at all, can only destroy it indirectly by
giving higher profits to the employer, who may or may not share his
increased gains with his workpeople. Its operation is also entirely
capricious, it can only apply to industries which suffer from foreign
competition, and cannot touch those many underpaid forms of employment in
which such competition cannot or does not in fact exist. Finally, as it can
only operate by raising prices, it can only give benefits to one class of
labour by imposing burdens upon another. It has only one certainty, the
increase of prices, with the consequent increase of profits and rents. The
benefits to be obtained from it by the poor are vague, must be confined to
one section only, and cannot be got by that except at the cost of those
which are differently situated.

The resemblance between Social Reform and Socialism is much more real. The
sympathies and the objects of the two are not dissimilar, though their
practical proposals are essentially different. Socialism, so far as it is
ever expressed in definite terms, makes a logical application of a general
formula. Private ownership of the means of production, distribution, and
exchange means a combination of the owners of capital against the
wage-earners to the injury of the class which is economically the weaker of
the two. Therefore society as a whole must take possession of industrial
capital, production for use must be substituted for {334} production for
profit, work at a good wage must be guaranteed to every one who asks for
it, and the fair distribution of wealth among the workers must be regarded
as of more primary importance than the quantity which is produced.
Socialists differ widely about methods and the rapidity with which the
economic change is to be effected. Generally, the modern Socialist of the
Fabian type prefers a gradual evolution to the cruder appropriations of
early thinkers, he is prepared to exempt certain industries from his
scheme, and the equal distribution of rewards has gone the way of the class
war and community of goods. But all agree that, sooner or later, society,
as politically organized in the form of the State, shall produce and
distribute or control the production and distribution of wealth according
to ethical principles. The Liberal is less universal in his proposals. He
does not object to the municipalization, or even nationalization, of
mechanical monopolies, of industries which in fact do not admit of
competition. Such industries as the supply of water, gas and electricity,
tramways and railways, are not in fact competitive, and efficiency is
probably as well maintained by aggrieved payers of rates and taxes as by
shareholders disappointed of their profits. But the Liberal is not disposed
to admit that similar conditions would produce similar results in
industries of a more speculative or hazardous character. Nor can he admit
that private ownership of capital necessarily involves the exploitation of
labour. In certain industries, notably the cotton industry of Lancashire,
he sees examples of the successful combination of individual enterprise in
management with minimum standards of life and wages fixed either by the
Factory Acts or by powerful Trade Unions, and he is not satisfied that the
enterprise would be as brilliant or the minimum standards as high if the
capital engaged were owned by the State.

In particular, the Liberal distrusts the bureaucratic system of management
which Socialism involves. The London School of Economics seems to him a
very good servant. He has no doubt that it would be a bad master. Even with
its disadvantages, the system which makes private gain at once the {335}
incentive to efficiency and its only possible test may be much superior to
that which leaves the determination of industrial policy to a sort of lay
hierarchy. An active and persecuting aristocracy will at least keep its
subjects alive. The dull and unimaginative methods of bureaucracy stifle
even when they are inspired by benevolence. Officialism is generally fatal
to new ideas, and apart from the reduction of wealth which would probably
follow the abolition of private profit, the officialization of mind which
would be diffused throughout society is a sufficiently deadly argument
against Socialism. It might even destroy individual life as completely as
did some of the religions of the East. This argument against Socialism is
to some extent an argument against Social Reform. Social Reform requires
the appointment of many officials. But the functions of such as have
already been appointed are confined to inspection, to advice, and to the
collection of money or information. We have had no experience of officials
engaged in the manufacture of goods for export, or in the conduct of the
shipping trade. Such experience as we have had of municipal enterprise has
only satisfied us of the capacity of officials who are controlled and
criticized by unofficial ratepayers, who have a personal and pecuniary
interest in the efficiency of the official. No Liberal Government has yet
proposed to extend official management to those many fields where success
depends upon the judicious calculation of risks. Until that proposal is
made there will always be a gulf between Liberals and Socialists, and a
distinction between the policy which limits the destructiveness of
competition for private gain and that which abolishes such competition

A second objection which is urged against Social Reform is its cost; and
the charges on the public, required by Old Age Pensions, Insurance, and
Labour Exchanges, have afforded a good opportunity for contrasting the
greatly increased expenditure of Liberal Government with the demand of
Liberal Opposition for "Peace, Retrenchment, and Reform." As the terms are
now understood, Retrenchment and Reform cannot go together. The new
Liberalism has been compelled to recognize that {336} economy and parsimony
are not synonymous expressions, and that the mere refusal to spend money
may in the end prove more costly than a judicious outlay in the present.
What is too generally ignored by the critics of this new policy is that, in
one way or another, all the service which is now being rendered by the
State has already been rendered by society. Since the reign of Elizabeth we
have admitted our duty to provide for the destitute, and the burden which
has not fallen upon the poor rates has been borne by private charity, by
public hospitals, and by the police. In public or private poor relief, in
the curing of disease, and in the punishment of crime we have long been
accustomed to pay for the consequences of poverty. The new Social Reforms
merely transfer these various duties to the national Exchequer. It is
impossible to compare figures of expenditure. But it is most probable that
ultimately the total weight of poverty will be considerably less than under
the old system. Prevention is better than cure. Relief used to be delayed
until some permanent degradation of body or character had taken place. It
is now applied while there is still a chance of restoring the unfortunate
to their old efficiency. The Old Age Pension directly relieves the rates by
keeping the pensioner out of the workhouse, or gives his family the
opportunity of a fuller life by releasing the money hitherto required for
his support. The Insurance Act should eventually abolish all that very
large proportion of pauperism which is produced by casual sickness, prevent
the deterioration which so often follows the temporary loss of work, and
maintain the average level of industrial efficiency at a higher level than
before. The Minimum Wage Acts impose a direct charge upon industry. It is
possible that some trades may be extinguished because they cannot bear the
charge. If that should be the event, it can only be because the trades in
question are at present parasitic: they do not support themselves, but suck
nourishment from society by way of outdoor relief, charity, petty larceny,
or prostitution. The cost to the community will here be made definite
instead of remaining unknown. But in most of the underpaid trades the Acts
will have the same effect as a powerful {337} Trade Union. So long as
Parliament abstains from fixing wages, and confines itself to the erection
of machinery for fixing them in accordance with the conditions of the
trade, Minimum Wage Acts merely create by law what Trade Unionism creates
by voluntary effort. The higher wages established under the Acts will do
what higher wages established under Trade Unionism have done. They will
mean increased efficiency, increased production of wealth, and increased
purchasing power. In this case, as in those of the Workmen's Compensation
Act and the Insurance Act, not only will a burden be transferred from one
part of the community to another, but it will in time be reduced in weight.
So the Act for feeding necessitous school-children, by preventing the
reduction of physical, mental, and moral strength in the present, will
prevent future expenditure in poor relief, hospitals, and police. The
survey which includes nothing but the legislative reforms themselves is
partial and deceptive. It is only when we realize that poverty is already
being relieved in a tardy, disorganized, and unscientific way that we can
see how the cost of the new reforms will be in fact a most wise economy of
national resources, and that by spending on prevention instead of on
restoration we will actually be saving money.

The philosophical argument against Social Reform which has most weight is
neither the argument from bureaucracy nor the argument from expense. It is
the argument which is more justly directed against Socialism, that by
helping individuals the State deprives them, in whole or in part, of the
disposition to help themselves, that they tend to rely more and more upon
the social organization and less upon their own strength. Everything in the
way of public assistance is thus regarded with suspicion. To feed
school-children is to weaken parental responsibility. To raise wages by
legislation is as demoralizing as to distribute doles. To offer a pension
of five shillings a week in old age is to discourage thrift in youth. It is
therefore better, in the end, that poverty should be allowed to run its
course than that a misdirected benevolence should demoralize {338} the
people. This argument, reproducing the logical individualism of the
Utilitarians, has been greatly strengthened by Darwinism. No less impartial
a man than Herbert Spencer has thus applied the theory of evolution to
political affairs. "The well-being of existing humanity, and the unfolding
of it into ... ultimate perfection, are both secured by the same
beneficent, though severe discipline to which the animate creation at large
is subject; a felicity-pursuing law which never swerves for the avoidance
of partial and temporary suffering. The poverty of the incapable, the
distresses that come upon the imprudent, the starvation of the idle, and
those shoulderings aside of the weak by the strong, which leave so many in
shallows and in miseries, are the decree of a large, far-seeing
benevolence."[358] The conception, which makes of foreign politics an
immoral conflict between nations, is to make of domestic politics an
equally immoral conflict between individuals, in which justice and humanity
are to be set aside as inconsistent with the progress of the race. At first
sight it would appear that the whole of that progress up to the time of
Darwin had been along a wrong line. If there is one thing which most
distinguishes modern from ancient society, and society of any kind from the
disorganized existence of primitive man, it is the prevalence of the idea
that we are, in some measure, responsible for the condition of our
neighbours. The emotions and the reasoning faculties which have produced
moral inhibitions on our own desires, laws for the protection of the weak
against the strong, the machinery of private charity, and the public relief
of the poor, all these have been evolved with the other characteristics of
humanity as we know it. If the course of past development is any guide we
may be certain that unless we take steps to alter our conditions, we shall
certainly continue in the same course in the future. It would be at least
surprising that the salvation of the race should now be found to lie in
deliberate reaction, against the movement of countless ages towards the
stage of undisciplined human egoism which followed that of the anthropoid
apes. A doctrine so repugnant to what we {339} have been accustomed to
regard as our better feelings requires little examination to discover its

The evolutionary argument against Social Reform falls to the ground when it
is once admitted that the individuals in contemplation are individuals
organized in a society, and that it is only so long as they are so
organized that development, as we understand it, can take place. If mankind
were left to scramble for such good things as it could get without
co-operation, the race would no doubt, in course of time, develop such
characteristics as that competition would allow to survive. But if we erect
higher standards, and require, even from selfish motives, the moral,
intellectual, and physical benefits which only organization, culture, and
the communication of ideas will produce, the comparison between human
beings and the rest of the animate creation is useless for our purpose.
Some limitation of the struggle for existence is obviously needed, if we
are not to fall back to the level where only the brute qualities of
strength, swiftness, and cunning are of value. Once we admit the need of a
social organization, which involves a very considerable check on mechanical
evolution by the survival of the fittest, the only controversy is about the
extent and character of the limits on competition, and not about their
existence. The beasts, birds, and fishes which are unfit for their
environment, and have not those qualities which make for survival, perish
by disease or are destroyed by their enemies. The man generally remains a
drag on the community. What is the community to do with him? The lethal
chamber being regarded as impossible, it must keep him in hospital, in
prison, in the workhouse, or in a charitable institution, and if he is not
thus maintained he will maintain himself by crime or beggary. Throughout
his life he remains a parasite upon his fellows. It is always therefore the
most economical course, if it be possible, to alter his environment, so
that he may have the chance of supporting himself.

But the argument for Social Reform is not based only on the possibility of
altering environment so that individuals who are unfit for it may maintain
themselves so long as they live. Spencer was reasoning away from the facts.
It is not only the incapable {340} who are poor. It is not only the
imprudent who are overcome by distresses. It is not only the idle who
starve. Bad conditions of life destroy not only the inefficient, but the
efficient, and many of those whom they do not kill they maim. He is a very
dull and stupid observer who supposes that all the slovenly, debauched, and
criminal men and women whom he sees around him are what they are because of
their innate qualities, or that all those who die of their own dirt,
debauchery, and criminality are any worse. They were not all born criminals
whom our great-grandfathers hung or transported for petty larceny, nor are
they all born inefficients whom some modern eugenists would segregate or
sterilize. A bad environment does not merely destroy the inefficient, it
manufactures them; and it is as reasonable to oppose social reform, because
it prevents the elimination of the unfit, as it would be to defend
excessive eating and drinking, or sitting in wet clothes. Unhealthy living
would no doubt destroy people with weak stomachs and livers, and a tendency
to chalky deposits in the joints. But for every one who perished in this
struggle with environment there would be ten who survived. Bad housing and
bad wages produce the same results as bad habits. Of all the slum children
who die of their surroundings, a large number would have lived to become
valuable citizens if they had had better conditions of life in their early
years. An ill-fed girl becomes the mother of weakly children. Inadequate
housing produces disease, incest, and prostitution, besides killing a few
undesirable infants. Casual labour kills only after it has given birth to
an incalculable amount of laziness, vice, and mental disorder. Everywhere
the good is kept back, even if some of the bad is prevented from
development. The slum creates what the slum destroys, and it discharges
upon the community much that it does not destroy. The elimination of the
unfit is uncertain and capricious. The deterioration of the fit is certain
and remorseless. Social Reform, if it is nothing else, is thus the only
possible means of discovering which individuals are fit in the human sense.
It is only when all have a chance of survival that we can distinguish the
naturally inefficient from the accidentally inefficient. The {341} reformer
need have no fear that his generous impulses are signs of an anti-social
sentimentalism. He is in fact only Evolution conscious of itself. He marks
a point in the great course of life, at which the cultivation of
individuals ceases to be careless and wasteful, and becomes deliberate and
economical, adapting its own environment to the achievement of its ideals.

When the necessity for Social Reform is admitted, the provision for its
cost affords another opportunity for the conflict of Liberalism and
Toryism. The Budget of 1909, which tempted a plutocratic House of Lords
into a rashness which an aristocratic House of Lords had never ventured to
display, was a clear expression of the new Liberal principles. Part of that
Budget was merely an extension of the Finance Act of 1894. Another part was
entirely new. It carried the principle of graduation to a further point,
both in income tax and in death duties, and it imposed for the first time a
tax upon the natural monopoly of land. To those who understand the meaning
of Social Reform, the necessity of the Budget is clear. Money must be found
for the purpose of relieving poverty. To raise it by a general taxation of
rich and poor would be to lay a new burden upon the poor in order to remove
an old burden, to increase by one act the poverty which the other was
intended to diminish. Social Reform financed by Protection is an economic
contradiction. The money required to improve the condition of the poor must
be taken from the rich, if it is to be of any practical use. The heaviest
of the new taxes were therefore placed, according to a graduated scale,
upon the payers of income tax, the inheritors of large estates, and the
recipients of unearned increments from land. These taxes had one principle
in common. They were based, not upon the enjoyment of property, but the
method of its acquisition. Those who drew incomes from permanent
investments were taxed more heavily than those whose prosperity depended
upon their personal exertions, and the owners of property, which was a
natural monopoly and grew in value without any effort of their own, were
compelled to pay charges, from which the owners of property of other kinds
were exempted. Other taxes were imposed upon {342} the luxuries of the
working classes. These would in any case be paid by those who could afford
them, and would not deprive a poor man of anything which was a real
necessity of life.

The arguments against the Budget were characteristic of their plutocratic
origin. The class which had used Imperialist sentiment in the interest of
its foreign investments, and had proposed at once to finance its military
exploits and to increase its wealth by taxation of the common people,
naturally resented this increase of its own fiscal burdens. The super-tax
on incomes of more than £5,000 a year was described as a penalty upon
thrift and enterprise, and it was urged with most patriotic zeal that these
appropriations of surplus wealth would produce unemployment. The answer to
the first argument is that incomes and accumulations of a size to be
affected by the new taxes are not produced by thrift, in any real sense of
the word, nor will the enterprise which produces them be checked by such
trifling deductions. Enterprise was as vigorous and successful fifty years
ago, when £10,000 a year was a very large income, as it is now, when
incomes of £50,000 and £100,000, are almost as common. A certain definite
inducement is required to stimulate a man to the utmost use of his capacity
for producing wealth. Beyond that limit all that he earns is sheer waste,
and uneconomic remuneration which evokes no further effort. Upon that
surplus, and upon that only, do the new taxes operate. The argument from
unemployment is more specious. It is that, deprived of the money required
for income tax and death duties, the more prosperous citizens will be
compelled to dismiss some of their servants. During the discussion of the
Budget, the general public learnt, for the first time, that those wealthy
persons who spent money on horses and dogs, motor-cars, jewellery, and
china, shooting-boxes, racing stables, and rock-gardens were animated by no
selfish love of their own ease and comfort, but by a disinterested passion
for providing remunerative labour for the common people. The argument was
partial. It dealt only with the taxes of the Budget, and ignored the
alternative taxes of Tariff Reform. The problem was to raise money.
Whatever form the taxation took, it must {343} deprive the taxpayer of his
power of spending money and employing labour. If £1,000 was paid by a man
with £20,000 a year, his power to employ motormen and gardeners, jockeys,
gamekeepers, and dealers in pictures and jewellery was reduced by precisely
that amount. But if the same sum is paid by a thousand cotton operatives,
their power to employ butchers, bakers, tailors, and bootmakers is equally
reduced. The reduction of employment is precisely the same in each case,
whether the £1,000 is taxed out of one rich man or out of a thousand poor
men. But there is an infinite difference in the other consequences of the
two systems of taxation. The rich man paying the £1,000 is not deprived of
anything which contributes to his present efficiency, to his future
security, or to his reasonable enjoyment of life.[359] The poor men paying
the same sum may suffer in any one of the three ways. A charge of sixpence
a week upon an artisan who earns twenty-five shillings a week may be the
difference between sufficiency and insufficiency. A charge of £1,000 a year
upon the head of a family who earns, or receives without earning, £20,000 a
year leaves him with everything which could be required for the fullest
development of all his natural capacities. Taxation of poverty cripples
life. Taxation of wealth does not. The new Liberalism, seeking to extend
life, must draw upon abundance and superfluity.

In their economic proposals the Liberal Governments since 1906 have thus
advanced along the old line towards the more complete emancipation of the
individual. If they have interfered with liberty, they have interfered with
liberty on one side only to enlarge it on another, and the money required
for reform has been so provided as to reduce by as little as possible
individual capacity for growth. Whatever the particular defects of these
{344} social reforms may be, their general character has been as Liberal as
that of the reforms of 1832 and 1868. In other matters they have met with
varied success. Their repayment of debt and their refusal to continue the
wasteful policy of borrowing for the construction of works have followed
the best traditions of Peel and Gladstone, though Mr. Lloyd George's
treatment of the surplus of 1912 affords a vicious precedent for less
economical successors. The Irish University Act, the Home Rule Bill, and
the Welsh Disestablishment Bill are partly recognitions of the principle of
nationality, concessions to the demand that matters of local concern shall
be regulated by local opinion. They also express the other Liberal
principle, that sects shall be equal in the State. Recent demonstrations in
Ulster, the persecution of Catholic and Liberal workmen in the shipyards of
Belfast, and speeches which reveal a ferocity of religious bigotry equal to
that of the seventeenth century, have confirmed rather than weakened
Liberal belief in Home Rule. So long as one section of Irish society looks
to England as the successor of an ancient enemy, and the other looks to her
as a protector against the descendants of those whom their fathers kept
beneath their heel, so long will incompatibility of temper exist. As soon
as possible Liberals intend to put the inhabitants of Ireland in such a
position that, ceasing to batten upon the exhumed remains of mediæval
controversies, they may discover, in the course of managing their joint
affairs, that they are only Irishmen after all. The various Education Bills
seem to have only partially expressed Liberal principles. It is impossible,
in a country where sharply divided sects exist side by side, to establish a
system which shall completely satisfy any party. Denominationalists and
undenominationalists must agree upon mutual concessions. No practical
hardship is done where denominational schools, with teachers subjected to
denominational tests, are confined to the instruction of children whose
parents approve of such a system. The demand of some Nonconformists, that
they should not be compelled to pay for denominational teaching, cannot be
recognized unless the demand of some Churchmen and all Catholics, {345}
that they should not be compelled to pay for undenominational teaching, is
also recognized. Whatever logical answer there may be to the second, a
Liberal State, accepting the equality of all sects as its first principle,
must give them precisely the same liberty as the first. If a Churchman is
not to count for more than a Dissenter, a Dissenter is not to count for
more than a Churchman. Where the denominationalist case passes from a
reasonable request for justice to the assertion of an insolent and
intolerable claim to control the opinions of others is when it requires
that any school, which was founded for denominational purposes, shall be
maintained by public money as a denominational school, with denominational
teachers, for the instruction of Nonconformist children. No Liberal can
have regard to this claim, not to teach their own opinions to their own
children, but to teach their own opinions to other people's children.
Nothing can justify this part of the denominationalist case, which would
not also justify a grant from the national Exchequer to the Church of
England for a mission to convert Dissenters. So far as the recent proposals
tend to overthrow this denominational control of schools to which the
children of Nonconformist parents are compelled by circumstances to go,
they are as purely Liberal as the repeal of the Test Act or the abolition
of the Church monopoly of the Universities.

In two matters of vital importance the Liberal Governments have
conspicuously failed to express Liberal principles. The right of the
individual to control his own government was recognized, with equal courage
and wisdom, when the conquered Dutch Republics, in the face of Tory
opposition, received the grant of responsible government under the Crown.
The contest with the House of Lords in 1910 re-established the control of
government elected by representatives, and the subordination of the
hereditary and irresponsible House to that which the people could choose
for themselves. The payment of Members has somewhat enlarged the field of
choice, though the expense of an election is still an almost impassable
obstacle to a {346} poor man. The Plural Voting Bill, passed through the
Commons and rejected by the Lords, was an attempt of the same sort to give
equal political rights to individuals, irrespective of the amount of their
property, and the Franchise Bill of 1912 proposed to abolish the property
qualification, or limitation, altogether. The extension of political
freedom in South Africa and the defeat of the House of Lords in its attempt
to prevent the application of the new economic principles of Liberalism
represented real conflicts in matters of vital importance. The other
measures were comparatively trifling, and the proposal to enfranchise all
adult men has less popular enthusiasm behind it than any previous Reform
Bill which was introduced by a Government. The only existing problem which
involves the struggle between essential Liberalism and essential Toryism is
that of Woman Suffrage. It is here, more than in any other field of
domestic policy, that the Government have failed to discover and to pursue
the Liberal course.

It is not the purpose of the writer to describe in detail a course of
events which has been so interesting to the student of reforming
fanaticism, unimaginative administration, and political chicanery. The
levity with which Members of Parliament have given pledges which they never
meant to perform, and have prepared to break pledges given openly, in the
face of all circumstances, existing, probable, and possible, may seem
ludicrous or contemptible according to the disposition of those who watch
the working of the political machine.[360] The writer has little to say
about this subject in this place. He is now only concerned to place the
demand for the enfranchisement of women in relation {347} with other
expressions of the Liberal habit of mind. The arguments which support Woman
Suffrage are those which have supported every proposal for the
enfranchisement of men. Women claim now to be treated in political society
as Dissenters claimed to be treated in 1828, and Catholics in 1829, and the
middle class in 1832. They decline to remain any longer at the disposition
of governors over whom they have no control. They desire to enforce their
opinions, not merely as a sex, for the removal of such political
disabilities as are imposed upon them on account of their sex, but as
separate and distinct individuals, each of whom has the same interest in
questions of general politics as a man. Women have peculiar grievances in
marriage laws, in the law dealing with sexual vice and crime, in the
payment of women in the Civil Service, and in threatened legislation for
excluding married women from work in factories. But their peculiar
grievances are no more to them than those which they share with men. They
pay taxes, their conditions of labour are regulated by the State, their
wages may be affected, favourably or adversely, by legislation, questions
of peace and war are decided to their benefit or detriment, in almost every
action of Government the individual woman is involved to precisely the same
extent as the individual man. It is not to them a question of men imposing
oppressive taxes upon women, it is a question of a legislature imposing
taxes upon individuals. The human being who controls his own fortunes and
takes all the chance of life in society is to them no different from any
other human being in the same situation. To confer political control upon
one class of such human beings and to deny it to the other is to establish
one of those artificial distinctions in social value which are of the
essence of Toryism, and produce the private egoism in the superior and the
incomplete development of the inferior which have been already described.

The arguments against Woman Suffrage are the usual arguments of Toryism.
The franchise is not a right, but a privilege, to be conferred by a
disposing class upon such persons as it selects. Women are, from physical
causes, periodically incapable of taking a rational interest in public
affairs. To enfranchise women will {348} distract them from their proper
duties of maternity and the management of the home. It will produce
dissension between husband and wife. It will lead to the admission of women
to the professions, to Parliament, and to public offices. To those who have
followed the course of Liberalism, as described in these pages, the
arguments will appear familiar. The first is the general Tory assumption,
inconsistent with every Liberal proposal of every kind, that the individual
has no rights, except such as the State, or rather the governing class,
chooses to bestow upon him. The second, third, and fourth are the egoistic
arguments, which express the mind of a person who sees another always in
relation with himself. They assume that the other is completely defined in
terms of that relationship, and has outside its limits no character. All
the actions of the other are explained by abstract reasoning from that
assumption. Women are thus supposed to be involved entirely in their sex,
and while no man suggests that the demand of transport workers for higher
wages or the violence incident to a transport strike is an expression of
maleness, the demand of women for the franchise and the violence of
militant Suffragists are assumed to be the actions of spinsters
disappointed of maternity and of females impelled by perverted sexual
instincts.[361] The argument from maternity is one of those which imply
that the governed class must be confined, so far as artificial methods
permit, to those occupations which it can only perform in association with
the governors. Women's political fortunes must be regulated upon the
assumption that they ought to become mothers. Women are not to be free to
choose maternity out of all possible occupations, they must be driven to it
by the want of opportunity to do anything else. It is not a question of
what women think that they ought to do, but of what men think that they
ought to do. The individual is not to have the right to plan out her life
as she pleases. Maternity is her business, and men will so contrive the
State as to {349} discourage her from engaging in any other. In the same
way eighteenth-century fathers warned their daughters not to develop their
minds, lest the revelation of intellectual power should discourage suitors.
Literary education was withheld in the reign of George III for the same
reason that political education is withheld to-day, because it involves the
independent activity of the individual. The fourth argument is even more
crudely selfish than the third. Stated in plain terms, it means that if
women have votes they will tend to form political opinions of their own,
that these may differ from those of their husbands, and that as such a
discordance could not be tolerated, the home will be broken up. The husband
might be wrong. But the argument has nothing to do with the soundness of
his opinions. He is entitled to think for himself, and in order to maintain
his unquestioned despotism of political judgment the wife is to be deprived
of the encouragement to thinking for herself. Another argument, that the
natives of India will refuse to submit to government by a race which has
enfranchised its women, is a characteristic example of the reaction of
Imperialism upon domestic liberty. The constitution of the United Kingdom
is to be determined, not by the needs of its inhabitants, but by the wishes
of a race whom they have conquered. The development of the individual is
subordinated to the use which the disposing class wishes to make of her.
Even if it were true that the Indian peoples would object to the
enfranchisement of English women, an assertion which has never been
supported by any evidence, the success of the argument would be the most
astonishing example of Toryism in English history. No Englishman would
suggest, after the loss of the American Colonies, that one self-governing
community of white men within the Empire should dictate to another how its
government should be constituted. But it carries the opposite doctrine of
interference in local affairs to a frantic extremity, to say that a
conquered race shall be allowed to dictate the constitution of the
government of the conquerors. If this argument prevails, and the ill temper
of the Indian peoples is allowed to decide the form of our political {350}
system, our eighteenth-century exploitation of them will be amply avenged.
The last argument, that enfranchisement will only be a step towards other
measures of emancipation, is another characteristic expression of Toryism.
Private depreciation will cease, as soon as political depreciation is
abolished. How can a Liberal man dictate to a woman how she shall exert
herself in society? There is no motive, other than that of selfish
interest, the desire to retain the most honourable and profitable
occupations for the dominant sex, which can impel a man to the use of this
argument. It is precisely that which most roused Burke to the support of
the Catholics. It was used forty years ago against the women who wished to
practise medicine, and Sophia Jex-Blake was covered with insult, and even
pelted with mud, for no other reason than that she tried to obtain
admission to the medical schools of Edinburgh. It is now admitted that if a
woman has the natural capacities which enable her to practise medicine mere
artificial restrictions shall not stand in her way. When the medical
profession is opened, how can any other logically be kept closed? When the
individual can satisfy the tests which are imposed at the entrance, whether
they are tests by examination or tests by election, why should she be
excluded because she possesses the quality of sex, which has nothing to do
with those tests? This is simply to brand women, who vary infinitely among
themselves, with a class mark, and to decide the fortunes of each
individual by some general assumption which may be true in other cases and
false in hers. No one can use this argument, who is not steeped in those
ideas of domination and disposition, which once operated in the same way to
prevent the free development of Catholics and Dissenters. The case against
Woman Suffrage varies little from the case against every other Liberal
movement, and some of the arguments are literally the same as the arguments
against the Reform Bills of 1832, 1867, and 1884. Fundamentally the case is
pure Toryism.[362]


In 1906 the movement in favour of Woman Suffrage, neglected during the
Imperialist reaction, became once more prominent. Various causes
contributed to produce this revival. Like all the other movements for
enlarging the opportunities of women, it partook of the fortunes of the
general movement of Liberalism. In the history of English women the periods
of emancipation have always been those of Liberal ascendancy, and the
geographical and social divisions between Liberalism and Toryism have
always been substantially the same as those between Feminism and
Anti-Feminism.[363] The manufacturing districts of the North are Liberal
and Feminist. The agricultural districts of the South are Tory and
Anti-Feminist. The Feminist movement is strong among the better sort of
artisans and those of the middle class who depend upon their own exertions.
It is weak among the country gentry and those whom accumulated wealth
enables to live a parasitic or partly parasitic existence. The so-called
Liberal who opposes the emancipation of women finds himself allied with his
hereditary political enemies. Liberalism must be universal. The immediate
causes of the new agitation for Woman Suffrage were three. The first was
the {352} economic condition of working women, upon whom the low wages,
long hours, and unhealthy surroundings, which are described by the general
term of "sweating," pressed with far greater force than upon men. The
second was the general improvement in feminine education, not only by the
improvement of schools and colleges for women of the middle class and the
public education of women of the working class, but by the development of
women's organizations. Bodies like the Women's Liberal Federation, a purely
political association, the National Union of Women Workers, an association
of middle-class women for the study and improvement of women's labour of
all sorts, the Women's Co-operative Guild, an association of working women,
the various Women's Trade Unions, associations of women for the protection
of their industrial interests, all these bodies, founded in the twenty-five
years preceding the Liberal victory, had broadened and deepened the minds
of women, extended their knowledge of affairs, increased their practical
capacity, and given them that interest in association for the management of
common concerns which is the basis of all political movements. In
particular, their attention had been directed to foreign countries like the
United States, Australia, and Norway, where women had recently been
enfranchised, and more than one international association linked up the
English movement with the rest of the universal progress of women. But the
most influential of all the causes of the new strength of the agitation was
the increased knowledge of physical facts and the consequences of sexual
vice. The development of sick nursing since Florence Nightingale, the
experience of work among prostitutes since Josephine Butler, and the study
of medicine since Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Sophia Jex-Blake, had
revealed to an increasing number of women the dreadful consequences of a
moral standard which indulged men and degraded women. Prostitution appears
to the Suffragist to be a direct consequence of the political supremacy of
one sex over the other, to be the result of that encouragement of egoism
which always follows the disposition of the political affairs of one class
by another. There are in the United Kingdom at the {353} present day not
less than one hundred thousand women who are kept, through no desire of
their own, for no other purpose than that of the destruction of their
bodies and souls for the gratification of their political superiors. In
1899 Englishmen went to war, as they supposed, to rescue some of their
countrymen from oppressive taxation and the abuse of the machinery of
justice. The Suffragists since 1906 have been conducting a political
agitation of a milder sort, as they suppose, to rescue some of their
fellow-creatures from an infinitely more dreadful fate. Those who require
an explanation of their earnestness, or an excuse for their extravagance,
will find it in their belief that social degradation is the inevitable
consequence of political inferiority. The White Slave Traffic Act of 1913,
flung by Parliament as a sop to womanhood in revolt, merely touches the
surface of the problem. The whole system of sexual ethics is put in issue
by the Woman Suffrage movement.[364]

The failure of the Government and their followers to deal liberally with
this question has been an interesting revelation of the incompleteness of
self-styled Liberalism, and of the power of the party machine to subdue
independent thinking to the convenience of Ministers with stereotyped
minds. The majority of members of the Liberal party, in the Cabinet and
elsewhere, have acknowledged the justice of the demand, even though its
sudden violence has taken them by surprise. A minority, which unhappily
includes Mr. Asquith, have displayed a Toryism, in matters of sex, as
complete as that of Castlereagh. It has been particularly unfortunate for
the credit of the Liberal party that its leader at such a critical moment
should be a man of little imagination. It is the large imagination, ever
ranging beyond the bounds of the practicable and the expedient, and
detecting in the obscurity of apparent chaos the currents of new social
forces, which distinguishes the greatest statesmen from those who are
merely {354} great. Peel had it, though in him it was often blind and
groping. Disraeli had it, though spoilt by his mean and tawdry ideals.
Gladstone had it, in full measure, and so, with less practical gifts, had
Campbell-Bannerman. The mantle of leadership descended in 1908 upon the
shoulders of a man who had all the qualities of a great leader except the
greatest of all; and Mr. Asquith's inability to see the rightness of the
women's movement has brought his party into great difficulty and greater
discredit. In spite of his own public promise to adopt the opinion of the
House of Commons, even if it be contrary to his own, a perverted sense of
loyalty has caused many of his followers to find in his feelings a reason
for the violation of their own express and public pledges. This dullness of
vision in Ministers has been severely blamed. But it is not for the want of
imagination which disables them from understanding the problem that they
are to be condemned. The historian who wastes his indignation on such
natural incapacities will have little to spare for the graver political
vices. The blameworthiness of the Liberal party and the Government lies in
their mismanagement of the disorder which was produced by their refusal to
redress grievances. The writer has nothing to say in defence of the recent
actions of the militant Suffragists. The earliest breaches of the law
produced no substantial injury to anybody but the women themselves. Those
of the last twelve months have in some cases been as wicked as they have in
all cases been foolish. But however arrogant, reckless, and unscrupulous
the militant movement may now have become, it was in origin as
disinterested and as remorseless in its self-sacrifice as any political
movement in history, and its corruption is due no more to the native
ill-disposition of the women than to the folly of the Government and its


However that may be, the treatment of the militant Suffrage movement since
the death of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman has been in the very temper of
the Toryism of the French Revolution. Trifling disorders, springing from
political discontent, have been treated as serious crimes, and people who
offended, not out of private malice or greed, but out of a desire to
improve the conditions of society, have been subjected to harsh and
degrading punishments. It has always been the contention of Liberals in
opposition that a distinction should be drawn between criminals whose
motives are political and criminals whose motives are personal, between
those who break the law for private and anti-social ends and those who
break it for ends which they honestly believe represent the advantage of
their fellow-creatures. This distinction, obvious to the moralist, is
expressed in the legislation of almost every other civilized state, as well
as in that Act of Parliament which provides that a seditious libeller shall
be treated in prison, not as a common offender, but as a first-class
misdemeanant. The same ethical distinction impelled the Whigs to oppose
Tory methods of repression during the French War, and was the basis of all
modern Liberal attacks on Tory methods in Ireland. Liberals have always
recognized that the maintenance of order is only a condition of the redress
of grievances, and that those who are impatient for redress are to be
restrained only and not to be injured. If there is one principle of
administration more distinctively Liberal than any other, it is that
wrongful action from right motives requires delicate handling, and that
even if it must be punished, the motives which produce it must be
destroyed, not by brutality, but by removal of the abuse which has created
them. What the Government did with the militant Suffrage movement was to
violate this essentially Liberal principle, and while they refused to
remove the cause of discontent, they repressed its early and trifling
symptoms with a severity which only dangerous crime could have
deserved.[366] The {356} Government in fact did what Tory Governments have
always done. They looked, not to the people concerned, to find out what
they were, and why they acted as they did, but to the class brand which
custom had placed upon them. They thought they were dealing with women,
when in fact they were only dealing with human beings. They assumed that
the disorder was due to something peculiar to the sex, and not to a state
of mind which was common to men and women alike. Their formula was not the
general political formula, "Disorder springs from grievances," but some
hasty deduction from inaccurate assumptions about the physical constitution
of women. They thought that they were dealing, not with political
discontent, but with sexual aberration, and they sought for explanations,
not in the history of Reform, Chartism, and Fenianism, but in medical
treatises on the diseases of women.[367] They did not reflect that this
revolt of women did not differ in any essential from previous revolts of
men, or that as it sprang from similar causes it could be cured by the same
remedies. When Ministers ought to have been giving facilities to a Woman
Suffrage Bill, they were contriving means of avoiding vitriol, and based
their policy upon speculations about erotic mania when they should have
thought of nothing but common political principles. This sexuality of mind,
exactly reproducing the mental habit of eighteenth-century Toryism,
determined their fatal course of action.

Ministers could not reasonably have been required to introduce a Government
Bill for the enfranchisement of women. The Cabinet had not been formed on
that basis, and no Anti-Suffrage {357} Minister could be compelled to
submit his judgment to that of his colleagues. But there has not been, at
any time since 1906, any reason why facilities should not have been given
for the passing of a private members' Bill. So long as the Government
refused to help the women, and refused to allow private members to help
them, even while they continued to inflict degrading forms of punishment,
so long must their administration increase instead of diminish discontent.
Facilities for the private Bill were refused year after year, until the
militant women and their sympathizers had become convinced of the
insincerity of the Government, and when at last the concession was obtained
it was robbed of all value by the recollection of previous quibbling and
evasion. In the meantime punishment had failed to do anything but poison
the temper of agitation. Imprisonment in the third division among common
felons was at first imposed upon women who had been guilty only of
technical offences. When the women were roused to demand privileged
treatment in the second division, the Government advanced to granting
ordinary treatment in the second division. When the demand became a demand
for imprisonment in the first division, the Government consented to
privileged treatment in the second division. When the women refused to
submit to any imprisonment at all, and prepared to starve rather than
remain in jail, the Government made a partial surrender, and offered the
leaders the first division, while it kept their followers, the tools and
instruments of their conspiracy, in the second. Each stage of the disease
has been conscientiously treated with those remedies which would have cured
it at the preceding stage, and always without any result, except to
increase the contempt with which the offenders regarded the Government.
Concessions, which should have been made boldly and generously, have been
made grudgingly and parsimoniously, and where prompt and spontaneous action
would have been effective, this tardy and reluctant yielding to pressure
has produced no good at all.

The folly of the Government has not been confined to their neglect. In two
matters they have been guilty of positive action, {358} for which they
cannot escape heavy censure. The first was the adoption of the policy of
feeding by force those women who starved rather than submit to degrading
conditions of imprisonment. The second was Mr. Churchill's refusal to
inquire into the charges which were brought against the police in
connection with one of the women's deputations. The writer will not attempt
to argue the abstract merits of the operation of forcible feeding. He has
read most of the public and private proofs that among criminals, lunatics,
and dyspeptics it is a harmless process. They appear to him to have nothing
to do with the Government's adoption of it in the case of people who were
neither of bad character nor of unsound mind, and who were not only
unwilling patients, but were already inspired by a profound resentment
against their political superiors. It is not the business of a statesman to
consider how his actions would affect other persons in other conditions. It
is his business to consider only what is their effect upon the particular
individuals with whom he has to deal at the particular moment. Tried by
this test, the Government's forcible feeding was of almost incredible
stupidity. It is clear that in the case of the militant women it produced
grave physical and mental injuries, in many cases of a permanent kind.[368]
Of its political consequences the writer can speak from personal knowledge.
It exasperated the temper of the agitation to an infinitely greater degree,
and brought us, in 1909, from the breaking of a few panes of glass to the
brink of assassination. The concession of privileged treatment which was
wrested from Mr. Churchill in 1910 at once allayed this dangerous spirit,
but it was at once revived in 1912, when Mr. McKenna, defying all
experience, resumed the stupid and brutal policy of his predecessor. It is
of course argued that the Government cannot enforce the law unless it
adopts this course. Are we to release dangerous criminals because they
refuse food? The {359} answer to this is simply that if the Government had
been wise in the past they would have had no such difficulty to encounter
in the present. When forcible feeding was first employed, hardly a single
assault, even of the most trivial character, had been committed, and there
had only been a few isolated cases of the breaking of windows. If
concessions had been freely granted then, crime would not have become so
frequent or so dangerous now. The Government, having adopted harsh methods
at the beginning, are impelled to use harsher methods now. They have been
occupied with great diligence in turning enthusiasts into fanatics, and
fanatics into criminals, and they are now faced with dangers and
difficulties which could once have been prevented by the use of tact and
discretion. Five years ago they might have disarmed their rebellious
subjects by giving a week of Parliamentary time for the study of their
grievance. To-day, they can only subdue them by starvation or hanging. They
will get little credit from posterity either for humanity or for wisdom.

The episode of Parliament Square was as ugly an affair as Mitchelstown or
Peterloo. On the 18th November, 1910, the militant organization known as
the Social and Political Union sent a numerous body of women to present a
memorial to the Prime Minister. Mr. Asquith, whose views had been
repeatedly published, declined to receive the deputation, it was turned
back by the police, and many women were arrested. Women, under similar
circumstances, had been more than once maltreated by the mob. On this
occasion it was alleged that brutality was displayed by the police as well
as by the populace. In more than twenty cases specific charges of indecent
assault were made. Many of the women concerned are known to the writer,
personally or by reputation, and however strongly he may disagree with
their general policy, he has no doubt that they are incapable of
fabricating accusations of this sort. The police, against whom the charges
were made, were not those who had had to deal with previous deputations,
but had been brought in from rougher districts like Whitechapel. The case
against them was not {360} brought by the militant women, but by the
committee of Members of Parliament of all parties, which had been formed to
press forward the cause of Woman Suffrage in the House of Commons, and it
was with great reluctance that the women consented to give the committee
the information for which it asked. Mr. Ellis Griffith, a Liberal, and Lord
Robert Cecil, a Conservative, both lawyers of experience and reputation,
personally examined some of the women, and read the written statements of
the rest, and came to the conclusion that the complaints were made honestly
and deserved inquiry. In the face of this request Mr. Churchill behaved
precisely as Lord Grenville behaved in 1819, and Mr. Balfour in 1887. He
made no attempt to examine any witnesses against the police, and he
declared that the charges should be brought against individuals in a court
of law.[369] But while he refused to pronounce judgment on the constables,
he was eager to pronounce judgment on the women. He acted, not as an
impartial representative of the public in a dispute between officials and
private citizens, but as a champion of the officials. He threw all his
influence against the women, described their story as a fabrication, and
the Social and Political Union as "a copious fountain of mendacity." Mr.
Churchill's party followers will no doubt be content to accept his
judgment. Posterity cannot act so lightly. It is not to accept accusations
{361} against individual policemen to say that charges put forward under
such circumstances, and supported by such responsible and independent
authorities, must have had some foundation in fact. No impartial observer
can acquit either the police of misconduct, or the Home Secretary of a
gross and partisan abuse of the powers of his office. Lord Gladstone, who
began the maladministration of the law, could urge that he was taken by
surprise, and that he knew neither the character of the individual women,
nor the force of the movement which was behind them. Mr. McKenna, who
succeeded Mr. Churchill, and has developed the policy of harshness with a
caprice and a partiality which has enormously increased its ill effects,
may plead his natural incompetence in explanation of all his blunders. Mr.
Churchill has neither one excuse nor the other. He acted in cold-blood, and
he is too wise a man to be allowed to suggest that he did not know his
duty. His was a deliberate refusal to grant to his political opponents the
opportunity of obtaining a public endorsement of their complaints, and it
will always remain a blot upon the reputation of the Government. The memory
of this affair, added to the passionate resentment provoked by forcible
feeding, now prevents all chance of reconciliation. The loss of the
Franchise Bill of 1912, which no reasonable person believes to be the
result of deliberate dishonesty on the part of the Government, has only
completed the process of satisfying the militant women that there is no
good faith to be found in Parliament. The Government should have given full
facilities to the Private Members' Bills of 1910 and 1911. When they had
the opportunity, they refused to disarm the hostile party by concession,
and when they at last had the will, the opportunity was taken away. They
will now be faced by a conspiracy, involving danger, certainly to property,
and probably to life, less extensive and less excusable, but no less
determined than Irish Fenianism. They will suppress it with the approval of
the great majority of English men and women. But no acknowledgment of the
moral corruption which has now fallen upon the women will blind those who
have followed closely the varying fortunes of the Suffrage {362} movement
to the fact that that moral corruption is largely due to the gross
administrative blunders of the Government and the levity and moral
cowardice of Members of Parliament. Such clumsy folly in the management of
discontent has not been displayed in England since 1832.[370]

While the failure of the Liberal party in one important part of domestic
policy has thus been unquestionable and complete, it appears, so far as it
is possible to get an accurate sight of events, that they have also failed
in foreign policy. In India, the Liberalism of Lord Morley triumphed over
official tradition. The admission of natives of India to a greater share in
their own government was as much an expression of Liberalism as the
reversal of Lord Curzon's partition of Bengal, a preference of the national
idea over one of those mechanically efficient devices by which despotic
Governments continually increase their own difficulties. Outside India, the
management of external affairs has been less successful. The deportation of
Cole of Nairobi was an excellent example of the protection of native
populations against the arbitrary power of white colonists. But no effort
on the part of the British Government could guarantee the political rights
of black men under the new South African Constitution, and this and the
equally complete failure to secure freedom of movement and occupation for
coloured immigrants into the new Federation are disquieting evidence of the
conflict between the two Imperial principles of self-government for white
men and full opportunities of development for black and brown. These
failures could hardly have been avoided. The general failure of foreign
policy, so far as it is possible to speak with certainty, is due largely,
if not entirely, to our own fault.


The writer has already indicated, in the first chapter of this book, how
little he is disposed to lay down hard and fast rules for the conduct of
foreign policy. It is conceivable, in his view, that facts may subsequently
be disclosed which will satisfy Liberals of another generation that Sir
Edward Grey's abandonment of most of the principles of his Liberal
predecessors has been forced upon him, and that the speeches, in which he
has appeared to repudiate them, have been the utterances of diplomacy
rather than conviction.[371] Imperialism has not been a monopoly of Great
Britain. Russia in China and Persia, Japan in China, Austria in Bosnia and
Herzegovina, Italy in Tripoli, and France in Morocco, have in turn shown
their willingness to upset the established rules of international morality
in the pursuit of their own interests. In the almost universal
demoralization of foreign policy which has followed The Hague Peace
Conference of 1899, it has perhaps been impossible for a single statesman
to tread a straight path. When Sir Edward Grey failed to persuade the
Powers to take concerted action to prevent Austria's cynical appropriations
of 1908, the fault was unquestionably not his.[372] The selfish aims of his
associates prevented him from attaining his own object. But other
circumstances suggest that he has not had the will to act liberally, even
if he has had the opportunity. Before 1908 he had shown a personal
incapacity, which had nothing to do with the machinations of competing
diplomatists. The public execution and flogging of the villagers of
Denshawi in 1906, for an offence which barely amounted to manslaughter, and
was committed under extreme provocation, was more in the Russian than in
the English temper. Here the Foreign Secretary acted {364} under the
direction of Lord Cromer, and it is not impossible that in other cases he
may have surrendered himself to the hierarchy of the Foreign Office.[373]
Whatever the cause, the desertion of Liberalism is clear. Even Lord
Lansdowne and the late Lord Salisbury, after the Boer War, gave up some of
the inheritance of Beaconsfield. They ceased to befriend Turkey, and in
1903 Lord Lansdowne failed, through no fault of his own, to revive the
policy of concerted European pressure on the Turk. He, like Lord Salisbury,
generally pursued a policy which tended towards internationalism, and away
from egoism. But his successor twisted even his internationalism into
weapons of offence. In 1904 Lord Lansdowne made an agreement with France by
which the two contracting Powers settled all their outstanding disputes.
This was intended by its author to be only the first of a series of
international agreements. It was converted by Sir Edward Grey into a weapon
of offence against Germany, the country upon which, after passing from
Russia to the United States, and from the United States to France, the
animosity of modern Toryism had definitely settled. The fortunes of Great
Britain were bound up with those of France. The theory of the Balance of
Power was revived, every diplomatic conference was made a conflict between
France and Great Britain on the one side and Germany on the other, and in
1911 the lives and the wealth of the British people were endangered, not to
maintain any moral principle or any British interest, but to promote the
material interests of French financiers in Morocco. To this diplomatic
warfare, and to the military warfare which it constantly contemplates, our
whole foreign policy is subdued. When Germany proposed at a Hague
Conference, that international agreement should abolish the system of
destroying private property at sea, Great Britain refused even to discuss
the point. When we fought Germany, our great fleet would be able to destroy
her commerce. The right to destroy her commerce was our {365} most powerful
weapon against her, and as our peace policy was determined by our war
policy, we preserved this relic of barbarism. The inevitable consequence of
our diplomacy was to give German Jingoism an irresistible argument for the
increase of the German Fleet. The increase in the German Fleet was
described in threatening language by Mr. Churchill, and was matched by an
increase in our own. The burden of armaments increased, and unremunerative
expenditure drained the resources which should have been available for the
costs of social reform. Such was the foreign policy of Great Britain until
the outbreak of the Balkan War at the end of 1912. There may have been
information in the possession of the Foreign Office which justified this
persistent hostility towards Germany. That country may have been animated
by some desire to destroy our commerce, or to appropriate our Colonies. So
far as we are allowed by our governors to learn any facts at all, there is
no more than a shadow of a foundation for such an assumption. Up to the end
of 1912 we were bound straight for a conflict, of the causes of which not
one Englishman in ten thousand knew anything definite, and not one in a
thousand knew anything at all. All the Gladstonian principles, rightly or
wrongly, had been forsaken. We made no serious attempt to establish the
comity of nations, we carefully distinguished between Germany and the rest
of the world, and we entangled ourselves in engagements with France and
Russia, which brought us no profit, and served only to increase the
suspicions of the German people. This violation of Liberal principle, which
was also a violation of the practice of the last Tory Foreign Secretary,
may have been inevitable. But its justification is not contained in
anything that has yet been said or written on behalf of Sir Edward Grey,
and those of us who held by the old rules during the Boer War can get only
a melancholy satisfaction out of a comparison of the failure of this
Imperialist Liberal in foreign affairs with the successes of his Pro-Boer
associates in South Africa, in India, and in Social Reform.[374]


The departure from principle which has most disgusted the supporters of the
Government is the alliance with Russia. This, like so many of our modern
associations, is cemented by finance, and the union of the two Governments
has been followed by a steady flow of British capital into Russian
municipal and industrial securities. It is suggested that the object of
both the diplomatic and the financial support is the same, to restore the
influence of Russia, seriously impaired by her humiliation at the hands of
Japan and by her violent internal dissensions, in the councils of Europe.
In other words, we have strengthened the Russian Government as part of our
scheme for keeping Germany in her place. This is one of those alliances
which would have been repugnant to a Liberal of the old school. Russian
Government and British Government are essentially different. The temper of
national independence, which is welcomed by English Liberals everywhere,
and even by English Tories outside the boundaries of the Empire, is to the
governing class of Russia what a heap of dirt is to a sanitary inspector.
It is a perpetual menace to what it is their business to protect, and they
devote to the extinction of some of the noblest of human aspirations the
untiring zeal with which better men apply themselves to the destruction of
evil. No Government in the world has so persistently violated the rules of
morality in its dealings with its own subjects or with the foreign peoples
who lie without its boundaries. In five years of the {367} twentieth
century it executed 3,750 persons, its courts of law sentenced 31,885
political offenders to imprisonment or exile, and its administrative orders
transported 28,173 others without trial. More than 30,000 of its Jewish
subjects have been massacred in organized riots at which it has connived.
In these affairs it has had to deal with all sorts of persons. But it has
exercised little discrimination in its treatment, and if some of its
victims have been the vilest of criminals, it has also caused thousands of
honourable men and women to be shot or bludgeoned, to be exiled, or to rot
in crowded prisons. It has even employed agents to promote the
assassination of its own associates, that it might have the better excuse
for taking violent measures to suppress peaceful agitation. It has now
crowned its career of domestic misgovernment by beginning to destroy the
liberties of the Finnish people, whose social policy has been at once the
admiration of the civilized world, and a standing rebuke to the comparative
brutality of Russia. It is not the business of Great Britain to dictate to
established Governments, or to go to war with them for the better
regulation of their internal affairs. Nor is it the business of a British
Government to refuse to make agreements with any foreign Government for the
management of matters in which they are jointly concerned. But it is the
duty of a British Government not to corrupt its own people by involving
itself intimately with a Government whose methods are not only different
but are utterly alien from its own. An alliance with France is bad only in
so far as it is turned into a combination against Germany. An alliance with
Russia is in itself unnatural and horrible.

The Persian Agreement of 1907 appears to have been twisted into such an
alliance. Originally that Agreement, like the Moroccan Agreement with
France, provided merely for the settlement of outstanding disputes in Asia,
and as such it was welcomed by all Liberals. It has been converted into an
instrument for the destruction of the independence of Persia, which both
Powers had solemnly declared it was their intention to maintain, and more
recently into a means of enabling Russia {368} to blackmail the struggling
Chinese Republic. The successive steps of Russian aggression cannot be
described here. In effect, the Northern Sphere, marked out by the Agreement
solely for the purposes of financial and commercial development, has been
annexed politically to Russia, and occupation by her troops has been
followed by outrages of almost indescribable brutality. The attempt of the
Persian Government to restore the finances of the country, with the aid of
the American Mr. Morgan Shuster, was frustrated by Russian intervention,
and for want of money the protection of trade routes, life, and private
property has ceased in many districts. In each successive act of Russian
insolence, except the foul barbarities at Tabriz, Sir Edward Grey has
acquiesced, and he actively assisted in the removal of Mr. Shuster. He has
apparently acted Liberally in only two matters, in his protest against the
outrages which followed the Russian occupation, and in his refusal to
participate in the guilt of a formal partition. But the national
independence of Persia to which the recent revolution seemed to give a new
justification, has been practically destroyed, and the supposed limitations
on British freedom of action by war of protest are construed out of that
Agreement, which professed to be based upon its preservation. The
strangling of Persia has not been such a plain affair of right and wrong as
some critics of Sir Edward Grey suggest. Generations of misgovernment had
corrupted the native system. Mr. Shuster gave provocation by his
straightforward independence where a more supple diplomatist might have
succeeded in managing even Russia. But he was the only hope of Persia, and
if he could have been supported as Afghanistan has been supported, even
Russia might have been forced to hold her hand.[375] Here again we are
brought up against our policy of isolating Germany. At all costs Russia was
to be kept out of the orbit of German diplomacy. We acquiesced in Russian
appropriations in Persia for the same reason that we supported French
exploitations of Morocco. We were bound to make it to the {369} interest of
our allies to prefer association with us to association with our enemy.
Where we might have defended a people against Russia on moral grounds, we
sacrificed them for our diplomatic interests. Where we might have promoted
international agreements for the disposition of uncivilized races, we were
compelled to resist them in the interest of the ally, with whom we had just
arranged a private deal. All came back to our settled policy of acting in
opposition to Germany. There may be excuses, of which we have as yet no
knowledge. But it is unquestionable that the present Government had lost
the habit of expressing Liberalism in foreign policy. Liberals had
certainly reason to regret it. Posterity alone will know whether or not
they had also reason to be ashamed.

More recent events have lightened the general gloom. The Persian disgrace
remains, and the Russian penetration of Mongolia proceeds steadily. But
just as the rising tide of French Jingoism seems to have found a President
and a Premier who will float easily upon its surface, the Anglo-German feud
has begun to ebb. Apparently by no effort of our own, but simply through
the overwhelming pressure of our common interest in peace, the Balkan
crisis has united Great Britain, France, and Germany in preventing war
between Austria and Russia. We have not lacked suggestions that we should
make war on Germany because Russia wished to prevent Austria from attacking
Servia. This would have been the climax of anti-Liberalism; to engage in
war because Servia wished to impose her will upon that of the Albanians,
and because the allies with whom we were entangled decided to support
her.[376] From this disgrace, and from the destruction of European
civilization which such a war would have involved, we have been preserved.
The reality of common interests and common aims has broken the fiction of
the Balance of Power into pieces, and Sir Edward Grey, whose career had
been watched with dismay by the most Liberal of his followers, now finds
{370} himself in universal favour as he expresses once more the pure theory
of Liberalism. The Concert of Europe has been revived, with Great Britain
at the head of it, and if the Foreign Secretary can make out of our
temporary association with Germany something in the nature of a permanent
friendship he will render a greater service to his country than any of his
predecessors. The gross brutality of Denshawi in 1906 and the unexplained
provocation of Germany in 1911 will not be obliterated by a peaceful and
honourable issue out of our afflictions, and the Russian difficulty is only
now beginning. It is possible that there can be no such thing as a
permanently Liberal Foreign Policy, that the systematic application of
Liberal principles to foreign affairs can never be undertaken with any
chance of success. No Liberal as yet will be content with that desperate
assumption, and the recent improvement in the international situation
rather confirms than weakens his belief that abroad, as at home, politics
will ultimately rest upon a basis of ethics. His chief hope is not in the
chancelleries, but in the large and increasing body of international
associations of private persons. Unions for the purpose of promoting peace,
and for the discussion of the unnational interests of women and of working
men, and periodical meetings of representatives of all nations to determine
the principles of commercial law, and even the rules of war, are steadily
uniting the nations by "organic filaments." For what the present Government
has apparently done in the way of preventing rather than encouraging union,
Liberals are ready enough to find excuses. But until they are presented
with more facts than have yet been published by the Government itself, they
will continue to contemplate its foreign record with more regret than

       *       *       *       *       *



  Aberdeen, Lord, 217
  American Rebellion, 83;
    effect of, on Liberalism, 86
  American Civil War, 227, 263
  Army Purchase, 241

  Balance of Power, 18, 139, 364
  Balfour, Arthur, 280 _n._, 297, 299, 302
  Ballot, 107, 241
  Beaconsfield, _see_ Disraeli
  Bentham, Jeremy, 155
  Bowring, Sir John, 221
  Bradlaugh, Charles, 283
  Bright, John, and Factory Acts, 176, 203;
    moral ideals of, 194;
    and American Civil War, 228;
    and Reform, 219, 232;
    on Ireland, 248, 249;
    otherwise mentioned, 193, 195, 199, 223, 283
  Brougham, Lord, on the franchise, 105;
    on religious disabilities, 165;
    on Trade Unions, 172;
    otherwise mentioned, 176, 181
  Burke, Edmund, and Ireland, 57;
    on Catholic disabilities, 60;
    on Unitarians, 62;
    on the franchise, 62, 63;
    on American Rebellion, 85, 86;
    and Warren Hastings, 93;
    and French Revolution, 97, 109, 115

  Campbell-Bannerman, Sir Henry, 322, 324
  Canada, affairs of, 182
  Canning, George, on the franchise, 48;
    and Catholic disabilities, 130;
    and nationality, 140, 150
  Carlyle, Thomas, and Socialism, 234
  Cartwright, Major John, 79, 103, 104, 106, 108
  Castlereagh, Lord, on the working class, 46;
    on public meetings, 48;
    on Dissenters, 52;
    on women in politics, 54;
    on French War, 133;
    at Vienna, 139;
    and Reform agitation, 145, 147
  Catholics, political condition of, 50, 55;
    emancipation of, 91, 127, 129, 161, 162
  Chamberlain, Joseph, 33, 272, 279, 321
  China, affairs of, 211, 221
  Civil Service, reforms in, 241
  Clarendon, Lord, 260
  Cobden, Richard, on Empire, 40;
    and Factory Acts, 176;
    moral ideals of, 193;
    on intervention, 195;
    on social reform, 196;
    and Palmerston, 213, 225;
    on Ireland, 248;
    otherwise mentioned, 199, 223
  Collectivism, _see_ Social Reform.
  Colonial System, the old, 55, 83;
    the new, 182, 204;
    and Imperialism, 33
  Contagious Diseases Acts, 255
  Co-operation, 231
  Copenhagen, attack on, 135
  Crimean War, 217
  Criminal Law, 50;
    reforms in, 154

  Denmark, Palmerston and, 224
  Disestablishment, 307
  Disraeli (Beaconsfield), and the franchise, 232;
    on Ireland, 248;
    Turkish policy of, 266;
    Afghan policy of, 270;
    and Social Reform, 237;
    and Imperialism, 313
  Divorce Act, 220
  Dorchester Labourers, 172
  Durham, Lord, 166;
    on Canada, 182

  Education, 31;
    condition of, 49, 241;
    first public grant for, 179;
    legislation concerning, 241, 280, 307, 322, 344
  Egypt, affairs of, 290, 363
  Empire, Liberal and Tory conceptions of, 32, 33
  Evolution, theory of, and politics, 309;
    and foreign policy, 313;
    and social reform, 337

  Factory Acts, 175
  Fawcett, Henry, 265, 282, 285
  Foreign policy, 15, 131, 187, 193, 209, 259, 266, 275, 313, 362
    Fox, Charles James, Liberalism of, 66;
    on Ireland, 56, 130, 131;
    on Catholic disabilities, 61;
    on Reform, 90, 105;
    Libel Act of, 92;
    on political discussion, 125;
    on French War, 132;
    on international morality, 134
  Fox, W. J., 191, 223
  Franchise, Liberalism and, 26
  Francis, Sir Philip, 63
  Franco-Prussian War, 260, 262
  Free Trade, 197, 322
  French Revolution, 95;
    effect of, in England, 96, 100, 118
  Friends of the People, Society of, 104

  Game Laws, 45, 50, 154, 178
  Gladstone, William Ewart, and Colonial system, 208;
    on foreign policy, 214, 259, 275;
    and paper duty, 221;
    and American Civil War, 227, 228;
    Liberalism of, 230;
    on the franchise, 232;
    and _Alabama_ claims, 263;
    and Bulgarian atrocities, 267;
    and Irish land, 287;
    on Home Rule, 296;
    otherwise mentioned, 261, 262, 283, 302
  Godwin, William, 103
  Granville, Lord, 216, 262, 263
  Grenville, Lord, 140
  Grey, Charles Earl, 97, 125;
    on international morality, 136, 140;
    on Peninsular War, 137

  Hastings, Warren, 93
  Hume, Joseph, 159, 199

  Imperialism, 33, 305, 313
  Industrial Revolution, 70;
    political effects of, 73
  International morality, 13, 134, 263, 363
  Ireland, before Union, 55;
    Union with, 128;
    since Union, 161, 187;
    land question in, 188, 250, 286, 300, 307, 323;
    Church in, 249;
    Home Rule question in, 294;
    and Imperialism, 299;
    local government in, 306, 322
  Italy, affairs of, 226

  Jews, emancipation of, 166 _n._, 220
  Land, social estimate of property in, 43;
    reforms in law affecting, 178, 220, 309
  Law, Mr. Bonar, 34, 39 _n._, 305 _n._
  Libel, law of, 92, 265
  Liberalism, definition of, 7;
    and class distinctions, 11;
    and nationality, 12;
    and foreign policy, 15, 260, 275, 362;
    and marriage law, 19;
    and the franchise, 25;
    negative and positive, 8;
    and theory of evolution, 311, 316;
    since 1906, 324;
    and taxation, 341;
    and Woman Suffrage, 346
  Liquor Trade, 246, 308, 322
  Liverpool, Lord, on class distinctions, 44;
    on Balance of Power, 139;
    on Reform agitation, 148
  Local Government, 178, 306, 308

  Macaulay, Lord, on the working class, 169;
    on the business of Government, 170;
    on the franchise, 171;
    on social reform, 176;
    on education, 181;
    on Socialism, 234
  Manchester School, 190, 241
  Middle-class, social estimate of, 44;
    industrial revolution and, 73;
    supremacy of, 168
  Mill, James, 155
  Mill, John Stuart, on nationality, 12;
    influence of, 237;
    and the condition of women, 252
  Mitchelstown, 301
  Molesworth, Sir William, on the Colonial system, 204, 205, 206
  Municipal Trading, 285

  Nationality, Liberalism and, 12;
    French Revolution and, 54, 131;
    in Europe, 131, 136, 138, 150, 166;
    in American Colonies, 83;
    in Ireland, 55, 130, 296
  Nightingale, Florence, 218
  Nonconformists, condition of, 50;
    repeal of disabilities of, 91, 165;
    in Universities, 220, 242;
    and education, 242, 344;
    and Burials Bill, 282;
    and Bradlaugh, 283
  North, Lord, 43

  Owen, Robert, 149, 173

  Paine, Thomas, on American Rebellion, 87;
    his _Rights of Man_, 108
  Palmerston, Lord, foreign policy of, 151, 182, 209, 221;
    attacks upon, 213, 222
  Parnell Commission, 302
  Peel, Sir Robert, and humanitarianism, 154;
    and Utilitarianism, 158;
    and Catholics, 163, 164;
    as Prime Minister, 186;
    and Ireland, 187;
    and foreign policy, 209, 213
  Peterloo, 146
  Pitt, William, on the working class, 46;
    on Dissenters, 52;
    and Reform, 90;
    after French Revolution, 98, 126, 132;
    on Union with Ireland, 129, 131
  Political associations, 82
  Poor Law, the old, 77;
    reform of, 174
  Portugal, affairs of, 151, 210
  Price, Dr., 102
  Prostitution, 255
  Public meetings, 82, 88

  Radicals, 102, 106, 120, 121, 144
  Radicals, Philosophic, _see_ Utilitarians
  Reform, agitation for, 79, 82, 144, 166;
    in 1832, 166;
    effect of, 168,  232, 280
  Richmond, Duke of, 79, 90, 106
  Rights, 29, 112
  Russell, Lord John, 44, 140, 166, 205, 209, 222

  Salisbury, Lord, 232, 269, 298
  Shaftesbury, Lord, 177, 233, 241
  Shelburne, Lord, on Ireland, 56;
    Liberalism of, 64, 125;
    on French War, 132
  Slave Trade, 130 _n._, 179
  Smith, Adam, 102
  Smith, Sydney, 170
  Socialism, growth of, 233;
    Mill and, 240;
    and Social Reform, 328, 333
  Social Reform, 32;
    Tom Paine and, 116;
    after 1832, 171;
    after 1867, 231, 237;
    after 1880, 279, 286;
    since 1906, 326;
    cost of, 335, 341
  Spain, affairs of, 150, 210
  State, Liberal and Tory conceptions of, 30

  Tooke, Horne, 79, 106, 123
  Toryism, opposite of Liberalism, 19, 21;
    and the franchise, 25, 29;
    and Empire, 33;
    in 1760, 43;
    and Ireland, 298;
    and Woman Suffrage, 347
  Tory philanthropy, 176
  Trade Unions, 78, 171, 231;
    objects of, 245;
    legislation concerning, 78, 160, 244, 326
  Transvaal, annexation of, 274;
    war with, 288;
    second war with, 318

  Universities and Nonconformists, 220, 242
  Utilitarianism, 155;
    and Manchester School, 190;
    and Colonial system, 204

  Vienna, Treaty of, 139;
    breakdown of, 153, 166, 226

  Whigs, mental habit of, 58, 62, 169;
    and freedom of discussion, 60, 125;
    and religious disabilities, 60, 130, 181;
    and American Rebellion, 83;
    and French Revolution, 106, 118, 125;
    and French War, 137;
    and Socialism, 234;
    and Reform, 147
  Whitbread, Samuel, and Education, 47;
    on Poor Law, 64;
    and Wages Bill, 77, 125
  Wilberforce, William, 43, 49, 140, 149
  Wilkes, John, 79
  Windham, William, 46, 119, 135
  Woman Suffrage, 27, 254, 282, 346
  Women, social estimate of, 27, 52;
    marriage law and, 52, 220, 258, 281;
    and Reform agitation, 54, 145;
    and French Revolution, 100;
    Utilitarianism and, 158;
    and Anti-Corn-Law League, 201;
    Florence Nightingale and, 218;
    education of, 53, 251;
    improvement in condition of, 251, 258, 281;
    and Contagious Diseases Acts, 255, 258;
    and Imperialist reaction, 305;
    and local government, 306, 308

  Young, Arthur, 102


       *       *       *       *       *

THE LAND HUNGER: LIFE UNDER MONOPOLY. Descriptive Letters and Other
Testimonies from those who have Suffered. With an Introduction by Mrs.

       *       *       *       *       *

Large crown 8vo, cloth, 2S. net.

       *       *       *       *       *

This book will form a companion and complementary volume to the famous
collection of letters published under the name of "The Hungry Forties."
Scores of books issue from the Press yearly, written by thinkers of various
schools, dealing with the now universally admitted hardships of our land
laws. It is time, however, that the people were permitted to speak for
themselves, and in this book they have done so. From the South of England
to the far North of Scotland men and women have sent in letters detailing
the actual hardships they have suffered through land monopoly. Included in
the volume are many letters and testimonies from people who understand by
experience how much more could be done with our land under happier laws,
and thus contribute their ideas, not only on the nature of, but on the
remedies for, a difficult problem. Mrs. Cobden Unwin writes a chapter
dealing with the utterances of her father on the land question, and
vindicating his insight into a problem which still awaits its solution.

       *       *       *       *       *

T. FISHER UNWIN, 1 Adelphi Terrace, London

       *       *       *       *       *


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[1] T. H. Green, _Works_, iii. 367.

[2] L. T. Hobhouse, _Liberalism_, 122.

[3] L. T. Hobhouse, _Liberalism_, 126, 127, 133.

[4] L. T. Hobhouse, _Democracy and Reaction_ (2nd edition), 166.

[5] Bulwer's _Life of Palmerston_, i. 278. Palmerston's list of "Liberals"
of June, 1828, includes 11 Peers and 37 Commoners.

[6] _Representative Government_, chap. xvi.

[7] J. A. Hobson, _Imperialism_ (1905 edition), 319.

[8] Morley's _Life of Cobden_ (popular edition), 529. The reference is to
Russia's assistance of Austria against the Hungarians.

[9] _Daily News_, 16th February, 1912.

[10] There are few modern expressions of a general theory of Tory politics.
_The Letters of an Englishman_ (Constable, 1911, 1912) are almost pure
Toryism. Lord Hugh Cecil's _Conservatism_ is tinged with Liberal ideas on
Free Trade and Foreign Affairs. Mr. Pierse Loftus's _Conservative Party and
the Future_ is essentially Tory, but is rather suggestion for the future
than an expression of the present mind of Toryism. Mr. J. M. Kennedy's
_Tory Democracy_ is the philosophy of Nietzsche masquerading in political
dress, and bears no relation to practical politics, past, present, or
future. Mr. Price Collier's _England and the English_ is the Toryism of an
American who has enjoyed the hospitality of the leisured class, and has
read the _Times_ with some diligence. The cheap reprint is introduced by a
characteristic eulogy from the pen of Lord Rosebery, who seems to have
spent the last twenty-five years, if not in a castle in Spain, at least in
an eighteenth-century nobleman's country house. Neither he nor Mr. Collier
seems to have any knowledge of the industrial North. The _Standard_ has now
opened its columns to a discussion of the principles and proposals of
Toryism, but I have not yet (December, 1912) detected much system in what
has been published. Various periodicals express various shades of Toryism,
from the purity of Mr. W. S. Lilly, through the individualism of Mr. A.
Baumann, to the Protectionist-Social Reform School of "Curio."

[11] But most of the Tory Suffragists stop at a narrow property franchise.

[12] Mr. Lewis Harcourt at the Albert Hall, 28th February, 1911.

[13] T. H. Green, _Works_, iii. cxii.

[14] T. H. Green, _Political Obligation_, § 122.

[15] _Hansard_, III. cxxiv. 602.

[16] _Letters to a Friend on Votes for Women._

[17] _Speeches reprinted from the Times_, 47.

[18] _National Review_, May, 1912, 420.

[19] _Observer_, leading article, 15th September, 1912.

[20] At the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, 13th November, 1896.

[21] _Morning Post_, leading article, 22nd August, 1912. The most startling
feature of this passage is its assumption that patriotism can be bought,
and, indeed, cannot be made secure except by being bought. If it be true
that patriotism follows the cash, we are bound to the Argentine Republic
and the United States by as close ties as to Canada, and if the present
flow of British capital continues, our hearts will soon warm towards
Russia. For the Liberal view of Empire, half a century old, see Gladstone's
speech (1855), quoted in Morley's _Life of Gladstone_, i. 363.

[22] See, for example, leading articles in the _Morning Post_, 18th July,
1912, and _Daily Telegraph_, 12th July, 1912.

[23] Morley's _Burke_ (English Men of Letters), 136.

[24] Cole shot a black man because he suspected him of stealing sheep.
Lewis shot another because his daughter said he had insulted her. Both acts
were done in cold blood, and with the approval of local whites. There was
no suggestion in either case that the law was inadequate or could not have
been enforced.

[25] _Morning Post_, leading article, 14th May, 1912.

[26] The grossest modern example of Tory Imperialism is Mr. Bonar Law's
proposal, while claiming the right to close English markets to foreign
manufacturers, to keep those of India, whether Indians like it or not, open
to English manufacturers. It is matched by his proposal that it should be
left to the Dominions to say whether or not our own food supplies should be
free or taxed.

[27] The _Times_ recently spoke of "insolence" when a meeting of East
Lancashire manufacturers and Members of Parliament criticized Sir Edward
Grey's policy in Persia. We may be wrong in the North. But we shall always
think for ourselves. The same journal has made a vicious attack upon the
Supreme Court of India, because it interferes with the arbitrary acts of
executive officers.

[28] Moray's _Life of Cobden_, ii. 361. The _Review of Reviews_ furnished
another example of this vicious reaction when it urged (October, 1912) that
England must not put pressure upon Turkey to reform its government of
Macedonia, because such action would impair our authority over the Moslem
of India. In other words, because of our Empire, we must connive at murder,
rape, and every form of brigandage.

[29] _Parliamentary History_, xxv. 472.

[30] _Wilberforce Correspondence_, i. 219.

[31] _Annual Register_, 1793, 113.

[32] _Parl. Hist._, xxx. 810.

[33] Walpole's _Life of Lord John Russell_, i. 56.

[34] The first exception to this rule was Mr. Smith the banker, who was
made Earl Carrington in 1797.

[35] Scottish borough members were exempt. But Scottish boroughs were the
most rotten of all rotten boroughs. An English county member must have £600
a year, a borough member £300. The qualifications were often fictitious.

[36] _Annual Register_, 1796, 52.

[37] _Parl. Hist._, xxii. 422.

[38] _State Trials_, xxiii. 229.

[39] Speech on Seditious Societies, 17th November, 1795.

[40] Londonderry to Brougham, 31st August, 1829, _Castlereagh
Correspondence_, i. 121.

[41] Speech on _Revolutionary Principles_, 13th December, 1792. Compare the
argument which is used to-day against the enfranchisement of working women.
Toryism knows no sex.

[42] Speech on _Bull-baiting_, 24th May, 1802.

[43] _Ibid._

[44] _Speech_, 24th April, 1807.

[45] _Parl. Hist._, xxxiv. 162, 165 (1798). The publication of reports of
debates began in 1771, or rather, was then first permitted.

[46] _Hansard_, I. xli. 1045 (1819).

[47] _Hansard_, I. xxxviii. 1171 (1818).

[48] _Hansard_, I. xli. 388 (1819).

[49] _Hansard_, I. xli. 914. The resolutions were no more "disgraceful"
than those of the ordinary Trade Union Congress of to-day.

[50] Arnould's _Life of Denman_, i. 253.

[51] In 1817 no less than 1,200 persons were sent to prison for offences
against the Game Laws.

[52] _Hansard_, I., xxxix. 1435, 1439.

[53] Beaufoy's speech, _Annual Register_, 1787.

[54] Burke's _Memoirs of the English Catholics_, ii. 459, 466.

[55] _Speeches: On Repeal of the Test Act_, 2nd March, 1790.

[56] _Strictures on Female Education_ (1799), i. 106.

[57] _Legacy to Young Ladies_ (1826).

[58] _Legacy to his Daughters_ (1784).

[59] Lucy Aikin's _Memoir of Mrs. Barbauld_ (1825), xvi.

[60] See further, the writer's _Emancipation of English Women_, ch. 3.

[61] _Speeches_, 26th May, 1797.

[62] _Hansard_, I. xli. 391.

[63] _Parl. Hist._, xxxi. 1384.

[64] Fitzmaurice's _Life of Shelburne_, ii. 367.

[65] _Parl. Hist._, xxxiv. 416.

[66] _Parl. Hist._, xix. 1100.

[67] _Leviathan_, ii. ch. xvii.

[68] _On Civil Government_, ch. viii.

[69] _Letter to Sir Hercules Langrishe_ (1792). Compare his _Speech at
Bristol previous to the Election_ (1780).

[70] _Speeches_, vol. vi. 310 (23rd March, 1797). Compare Granville, in the
_Annual Register_, 1808, 196.

[71] Burke, _French Revolution_.

[72] _Parl. Hist._, xxxii. 961 (1796).

[73] _Parl. Hist._, xxxiv. 1429.

[74] Fitzmaurice's _Life of Shelburne_, iii. 88, 435. His ideas on
education he tried to enforce on his own estates. But "the clergy opposed
his lordship's intentions, lest the children should become Dissenters,
although it was engaged that the children of Church people should go to
Church with their parents." _Ibid._, 438 n.

[75] Fitzmaurice, iii. 497, 498.

[76] _Ibid._, ii. 329.

[77] _Ibid._, 360.

[78] _Ibid._, iii. 438.

[79] _Ibid._, iii. 365.

[80] Letter to Lord Holland, 12th October, 1792.

[81] _Speeches_, vi. 383.

[82] M. Halévy suggests that the Wesleyan revival, which began in the
middle of the eighteenth century, was largely if not wholly responsible for
the social changes. But, except in so far as it increased dissent in
religion, the liberating influence of Wesleyanism was small. The Wesleyans
are, to this day, the most conservative of Nonconformists, and their
mystical piety was utterly opposed to the rationalistic freethinking of the

[83] Arthur Young's _Annals_, xxv. _passim._

[84] 39 Geo. III, c. 81; 39 & 40 Geo. III, c. 106.

[85] _Letters to his Son_, 19th December, 1767.

[86] Walpole's _George III_, iii. 197; Chesterfield's _Letters_, 12th
April, 1768.

[87] _Annual Register_, 1770, 72.

[88] _Annual Register_, 1769, 125.

[89] _Annual Register_, 1769, 197 _et seq._

[90] Stephen's _Memoirs of Horne Tooke_, _passim._

[91] William Knox, in a letter to Grenville, _Grenville Papers_, iv. 336.
Knox wrote the pamphlet _State of the Nation_, to which Burke replied in
his celebrated _Observations_.

[92] For the views of Fox, see Lord Russell's _Correspondence of C. J.
Fox_, I. 146; Walpole's _Last Journals_, ii. 241; and for those of the
elder Pitt, _Chatham Correspondence_, ii. 367. The Duke of Richmond set up
a claim to an old French peerage, by way of preparing an asylum for himself
when George III had finally established his despotism. Burke's
_Correspondence_, ii. 112.

[93] _Speech at Bristol previous to the Election_ (1780). The union between
English reformers and American rebels was marked by deeds as well as words.
In 1770 the Assembly of South Carolina subscribed £1,500 to the Society of
the Friends of the Bill of Rights. _A. R._ 1770, 224.

[94] _A. R._ 1780, 51. See also Sir George Savile's _Address to the
Freeholders of York_, 169.

[95] _A. R._ 1780, 55.

[96] Watson's _Anecdotes of His Own Time_.

[97] _Parl. Hist._, xxix. 509.

[98] See, for instance, Luxford's case, mentioned by Fox in _Parl. Hist._,
xxix. 557, and contrast the judge and the juries in William Hone's trials

[99] See the speech of Calcagus to the British, in Tacitus' _Agricola_, c.

[100] In her _Vindication of the Rights of Woman_ (1792).

[101] _Political Arithmetic_ (1774), 95.

[102] _Thoughts on Scarcity_ (1795).

[103] _Wealth of Nations_, Bk. IV., cix.

[104] _Reports_, 1806, iii. 2.

[105] _On Civil Liberty_ (1776), 72.

[106] _Political Justice_ (1793), ii. 190.

[107] _Memoir of Major Cartwright_, i. 244.

[108] I use the term "Radicals" for these early extremists because it is
the most convenient. But the word was not actually introduced till the end
of the French War in 1816.

[109] P. 3.

[110] P. 22.

[111] P. 37.

[112] _Memoir_, i. 191.

[113] In 1793 the Society published a _Report on the State of the
Representation_, which showed that 309 members were returned by private
patronage, 163 of them by Peers (_Annual Register_, 1793).

[114] _Parl. Hist._, xxxi. 793.

[115] _Speeches_, v. 97, 115 (1795).

[116] _Hansard_, I. xxxviii. 1118. The voting on Burdett's resolution was
106 to 0. _Ibid._, 1185.

[117] _Speeches_, 17th May, 1794.

[118] The minority in the Commons ranged between forty and sixty. In the
Lords it was sometimes only three or four.

[119] _Appeal to the Nation_ (1812), 78.

[120] _A Problem_ (1824).

[121] Preface to _Rights of Man_, Part II.

[122] Part I.

[123] _Ibid._, Conclusion.

[124] Part II., Preface.

[125] Part II., c. i.

[126] See for example the resolutions of the London Wards in the _Annual
Register_, 1792.

[127] _Rights of Man_, Part II.

[128] Part II., Preface.

[129] Part II.

[130] _Rights of Man_, Part II., c. 3.

[131] So late as 1840 Cook, a Whig, described the _Rights of Man_ as "a
fountain of evil," and denounced its "licentiousness and impiety." See his
_History of Party_, iii. 399.

[132] _Parl. Hist._ (1799), xxxi. 467. Compare Colonel Cawthorne's speech,
xxx. 1440.

[133] _Hansard_, I. xli. 434 (1819).

[134] _Speeches_, 24th May, 1802.

[135] _Annual Register_, 1782. There is an admirable account of these
different societies in Mr. G. S. Veitch's _Genesis of Parliamentary Reform_

[136] _Annual Register_, 1792. The Association soon got into difficulties.
Its president, Mr. John Reeves, published a pamphlet so violently Tory in
tone that the House of Commons ordered him to be prosecuted for sedition
involved in contempt of itself. He was acquitted.

[137] Government spies were sometimes involved in their own net. Two of
them took part in treasonable proceedings at Edinburgh, and were hanged,
drawn, and quartered (_Annual Register_, 1793, _Chronicle_, 53, 58).

[138] These cases are taken from the _Chronicle_ in the _Annual Register_,

[139] _State Trials_, xxiii.; _Annual Register_, 1794, 32.

[140] _State Trials_, xxiii.

[141] _Report of Secret Committee of Commons_; _Parl. Hist._, xxxi. 727.

[142] _Reports of Secret Committees_ of 1795 and 1799 in the _Parl. Hist._,
xxxi. 475, 574, 688; xxxiv. 579, 1000, and the consequent debates. Dr. J.
Holland Rose and Mr. G. S. Veitch come to the same conclusion as that
reached in the text.

[143] Shelburne became Lord Lansdowne in 1784.

[144] _Speeches_, vi. 61.

[145] _Parl. Hist._, xxxiv. 992.

[146] _Hansard_, I. xli. 7, 8.

[147] _Parl. Hist._, xxxiv. 248.

[148] During their brief tenure of office in 1807 they stopped the Slave
Trade, which Pitt's Government, while always condemning it, had never
suppressed. This was the last and the noblest of the public acts of Fox.

[149] _Parl. Hist._, xxxiv. 213.

[150] Letter to Lord Holland, in the _Correspondence of C. J. Fox_, 23rd
February, 1799.

[151] _Parl. Hist._, xxxiv. 244. Cf. Granville and Auckland at pp. 668,

[152] To Charles Grey, 8th August, 1803, 6th January, 1804; _Correspondence
of C. J. Fox_.

[153] _Parl. Hist._, xxxi. 684 (1793).

[154] _Ibid._, xxx. 422 (1792).

[155] _Speeches_, v. 496.

[156] _Ibid._, 84.

[157] _Ibid._, 174.

[158] Alison's _Life of Castlereagh_, i. 21, 23.

[159] _Parl. Hist._, xxxi. 1367 (1795).

[160] _Speeches_, vi. 620 (1805).

[161] _Hansard_, I. x. 290.

[162] _Hansard_, I. 354.

[163] _Ibid._, I. x. 365.

[164] _Ibid._, 376.

[165] The descent upon Copenhagen is to-day used as an argument for a
powerful German Navy. Our old immoralities pursue us still.

[166] _Life and Opinions of Earl Grey_, by Colonel Grey, 220.

[167] _Ibid._, 332.

[168] Yonge's _Life of Lord Liverpool_, ii. 26.

[169] Alison's _Castlereagh_, i. 500 _et seq._; Castlereagh's speech in
_Hansard_, I. xxx. 292.

[170] Walpole's _Life of Russell_, i. 110.

[171] _Hansard_, I. xxvii. 850.

[172] _Ibid._, 862.

[173] _Ibid._, 790, 791

[174] _Hansard_, I. xxvii. 773.

[175] _Ibid._, I. xxvii. 782.

[176] _Hansard_, I. xl. 338, 671; xli. 421, 892.

[177] Tooke's _History of Prices_, ii. 4, 18.

[178] _Hansard_, I. xli. 924.

[179] Pellew's _Life of Sidmouth_, iii. 276. The name "Radical" was just
coming into use. It was explained in the Commons as a new word in 1817
(_Hansard_, I. xxxvi. 761).

[180] Yonge's _Life of Liverpool_, ii. 429. There were one or two flashes
of imagination. Peel, just rising into prominence in the Tory party,
thought that Reform could not be long delayed. "Public opinion is growing
too large for the channels that it has been accustomed to run through"
(_Croker Papers_, i. 170).

[181] _Hansard_, I. xxxvii. 570, 680, 682; xli. 230. Bamford's _Passages in
the Life of a Radical_, _passim._

[182] _Castlereagh Correspondence_, xii. 162, 259.

[183] _Annual Register_, 1819, _Hist._ 107. Hunt and his associates were
afterwards sentenced to imprisonment for conspiracy, Hunt for two and a
half years. _A. R._, 1820; _Chron._, 898.

[184] See the speech of Lord Grenville in _Hansard_, I. xli. 448.

[185] Burdett's motion of 1818 for Radical Reform was beaten, as already
described, by 106 votes to 0. See _ante_, p. 105, and _Hansard_, I.
xxxviii. 1185. For the official Whig view see Brougham, _ante_, p. 105.

[186] Yonge's _Liverpool_, ii. 365. Wilberforce supported State grants in
aid of education from a similar motive. See _ante_, 52.

[187] _Hansard_, I. xli. 1212.

[188] Twiss, _Life of Eldon_, ii. 124.

[189] _Hansard_, II. xvi. 397.

[190] _Hansard_, II. xxi. 1632.

[191] _Wellington Despatches_, v. 409.

[192] _Hansard_, II. xxi. 1646, 1655. For the Liberal arguments see
_ibid._, xix. 1719; xxi. 1601, 1795; xxii. 591; xxiii. 75, 738; xxiv. 126.

[193] _Catechism of Parliamentary Reform_ (1817).

[194] _Theory of Legislation_, ch. xiii. § 10.

[195] _Constitutional Code._

[196] It was Macaulay who, during the debates on the Reform Bill,
contrasted "the beauty, the completeness, the speed, the precision with
which every process is performed in our factories, and the awkwardness, the
rudeness, the slowness, the uncertainty of the apparatus by which offences
are punished and rights vindicated" (_Speeches_, 5th July, 1831). This is
pure Utilitarianism.

[197] _Hansard_, I. xxiii. 1166.

[198] _Report of Lords' Committee on the State of Ireland_ (1825), 558.

[199] _Commons' Committee_ (1825), 414.

[200] _Ibid._, 810.

[201] Catholics were expressly excluded from the places of Lord Chancellor
and Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. These disabilities still exist.

[202] _Hansard_, II. xviii. 711.

[203] _Ibid._, II. xviii. 869.

[204] A declaration was substituted for the old tests, that the candidate
for office would never attempt "to injure or subvert" the Established
Church. The Lords added the words "upon the true faith of a Christian." In
freeing the Dissenters they disabled the Jews.

[205] Macaulay's _Miscellaneous Writings; Westminster Reviewer's Defence of

[206] Macaulay's _Speeches_: Speech on Reform, 16th December, 1832.

[207] _Ibid._

[208] Macaulay's _Miscellaneous Writings; Mill on Government_.

[209] Macaulay, _Speeches_, on Reform, 20th September, 1831.

[210] _Works_ (1869), 670 (written in 1830).

[211] _Speeches_, on Reform, 16th December, 1831.

[212] Speech on the People's Charter, 3rd May, 1842.

[213] _Hansard_, III. xxiii. 101, 102.

[214] Bulwer's _Palmerston_, ii. 174, 178. See also his _Memoirs_, iii.
322, 323; Torrens' _Life of Melbourne_, i. 437; Walpole's _Life of
Russell_, i. 264; and the _Edinburgh Review_, July, 1834. The King included
the Catholic Association, the Orangemen, the Political Unions and the Trade
Unions in one dislike, and wished they could all be put down by law
(Walpole's _Russell_, _ubi sup._).

[215] See, for instance, Webb's _Local Government; The Parish and the
County_; Peet's _Liverpool Vestry Books_, vol. i.

[216] _Speeches_, on Ten Hours Bill, 22nd May, 1846.

[217] Morley's _Life of Cobden_, i. 464.

[218] Hodder's _Life of Shaftesbury, passim_; Oastler's letters on _Slavery
in Yorkshire_ (1830); Hutchin and Harrison's _History of Factory
Legislation_, ch. iii.-vi.

[219] The Acts were the Common Law Procedure Act (1832) and the Fines and
Recoveries Act (1833).

[220] The House of Lords did its utmost to maintain the old abuses. The
Bill was sent back to the Commons "with the title altered but the preamble
changed.... Out of 140 clauses 106 have been in substance omitted, 18 other
clauses have been introduced, and of the whole purport and intention of the
original Bill little is to be found in the Bill which is now come down to
us" (Lord John Russell in _Hansard_, III. xxxiv. 218). The Government stood
firm, and, with the help of Peel, obtained the greater part of what they

[221] The contending principles were most clearly expressed in the Lords.
The Duke of Richmond and Lord Wharncliffe supported the Bill because it
abolished a class distinction. Wellington opposed it for precisely that
reason (_Hansard_, III. vii. 129).

[222] Romilly, _Memoirs_, iii. 252; _Memoir of Earl Spencer_, 185.

[223] _Hansard_, III. xlviii. 1252.

[224] _Ibid._, 1304, 1305.

[225] _Hansard_, III. xlviii. 1321.

[226] _Ibid._, 1322.

[227] _Ibid._, xlviii. 1263.

[228] _Speeches_, on Education, 18th April, 1847.

[229] He was very ably supported by his secretary, Charles Buller.

[230] _Parliamentary Papers_, 1839, xvii. 53.

[231] Adderley, in _Hansard_, III. cx. 578 (1850).

[232] In ten days 5,884 petitions were presented against this "endowment of

[233] _Hansard_, III. cxxxi. 1123.

[234] Cobden to Peel; Morley's _Life of Cobden_ (Popular Edition), 395.

[235] Quoted in F. W. Hirst's _Manchester School_, 491.

[236] Hirst, 229.

[237] _Speeches_, ii. 397.

[238] Hirst's _Manchester School_, 251.

[239] Morley's _Cobden_, 396.

[240] _Speeches_, i. 470; ii. 397, 399.

[241] Cobden, _England, Ireland, and America_ (1835).

[242] _The Three Panics_; _Russia_, c. iv.

[243] _Speeches_, i. 463.

[244] Cobden, _Hansard_, III. cxii. 671.

[245] _England, Ireland, and America_.

[246] _Hansard_, III. clxxvi. 832.

[247] Hirst, xii.

[248] See _e.g._, _Hansard_, I. xli. 456 (1819). A few Whig members like
Lord Grenville (_ibid._, 456) and Ellice (_ibid._, 931) pressed the same

[249] The whole petition is set out in Hirst's _Manchester School_, 117 _et

[250] Hirst, 123 (1833).

[251] Cobden, _Speeches_, i. 256 (1845).

[252] Bright, in Hirst, 218.

[253] W. J. Fox, in Hirst, 175.

[254] Prentice's _History of the League_, i. 129, 140.

[255] A meeting of Birmingham women on the 2nd April, 1838, protested
against the Corn Law and the new Poor Law. It was connected with the
Chartist agitation.

[256] Prentice, i. 171.

[257] _Hansard_, III. cx. 1248.

[258] After 1867 Factory Bills were often opposed by women and their
champions, in the same logical spirit, as an interference by men with
women's "liberty."

[259] _Hansard_, III. cx. 566.

[260] It is perhaps worth noting here that there is no trace to-day in the
character of Australian colonists of any unusual taint in origin. Many of
the transported criminals were made criminal simply by their surroundings,
and when they obtained a new chance became as energetic, as resourceful,
and as valuable to the community at large as the most respectable people in
the Colony. This experience should always give pause to those who argue
that the inhabitants of our slums are naturally degenerate, and that the
process of "selection" which has reduced them to the depths has anything
accurate or scientific about it.

[261] _Hansard_, III. ciii. 383; cviii. 161, 777; cxvii. 543; cxxiv. 554.
Convicts were until 1867 occasionally sent to Western Australia, but only
at the request of the inhabitants, who needed cheap labour.

[262] _Hansard_, III. cx. 559, 566.

[263] _Ibid._, 1170. Compare Bright at p. 661, and Russell, _ibid._, cviii.

[264] Lord Grey, _Hansard_, III. cx. 657.

[265] Archbishop of Canterbury, _Hansard_, III. liii. 959.

[266] _Hansard_, III. cxxiv. 1150.

[267] _Hansard_, III., ccxliv. 1313.

[268] Lytton Bulwer's _Palmerston_, i., 139.

[269] _Ibid._, 346.

[270] _Hansard_, III. cxii. 583, 584.

[271] _Ibid._, 508, 509.

[272] _Hansard_, III. cxii. 586.

[273] Fitzmaurice's _Life of Granville_, i. 49.

[274] Morley's _Life of Gladstone_, ii. 37.

[275] The two great blemishes, the inequality of the sexes, and the
difficulty of giving redress to the poor, have now been unanimously
condemned by a Royal Commission (1913).

[276] _Hansard_, III. cxliv. 1476.

[277] _Ibid._, 1784.

[278] _Hansard_, III. clxxvi. 709.

[279] _Ibid._, 829.

[280] Morley's _Life of Gladstone_, ii. 431.

[281] Webb's _History of Trade Unionism_ (1902), 495.

[282] _Speeches_, ii. 100.

[283] _Hansard_, III. cx. 464. Compare Viscount Duncan's speech on the
Window Tax, _ibid._, 68.

[284] _Ibid._, III. li. 537.

[285] _Speeches_, on re-election to Parliament, 2nd November, 1852.

[286] _Sartor Resartus_ (1833) Bk. III. c. v. Compare his _Past and
Present_ (1843) and _Latter Day Pamphlets_ (1850).

[287] _Thirty Years' Peace_, iv. 454.

[288] _Essay on Coleridge._

[289] _Subjection of Women_, c. i.

[290] _Autobiography_; _Political Economy_, Bk. V. c. xi.

[291] Sir Henry Craik, _The State in its Relation to Education_, 84, 85.

[292] _Fortnightly Review_ (1865); reprinted in _National and Social
Problems_ (1908).

[293] _England, Ireland, and America._

[294] _Hansard_, III. lxxii. 1016.

[295] _Speeches_, on the Coercion Bill, i. 308.

[296] _Speeches_, i. 425, 369 (1866).

[297] _Hansard_, III. cxciv. 2071.

[298] _Ibid._, 1955, 1963.

[299] See the Report of the Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the
condition of education in England (1869-70). So little importance was
attached to the education of girls that the Commission at first proposed to
confine its work entirely to boys' schools!

[300] Morley's _Gladstone_, ii. 318.

[301] For a statement of Gladstone's views on war and the Manchester
doctrine, see his speech at Edinburgh on the 17th March, 1880, quoted in
Morley's _Gladstone_, iii. 182.

[302] _Times_, 25th September, 1870.

[303] He succeeded Lord Clarendon at the Foreign Office just before the
outbreak of the war.

[304] Morley's _Gladstone_, ii. 350.

[305] _Ibid._, 353.

[306] _Ibid._, ii. 346.

[307] Morley's _Gladstone_, ii. 347.

[308] _Ibid._, 348.

[309] The Prime Minister estimated these at more than the whole National
Debt (Lord Selborne's _Memorials_, II. i. 231.)

[310] One of his resolutions advocating intervention was beaten by 131
votes, a far greater majority than the Government could expect on any party

[311] Lord Derby and Lord Carnarvon resigned their posts in the Ministry
rather than share the responsibility of such a crime. The former suspended
his resignation for a few weeks.

[312] Afterwards Marquis of Salisbury.

[313] Beaconsfield did not stop at this point. He made a treaty with
Turkey, binding us to defend her possessions in Asia, and her to reform her
system of government. The reforms were never carried out, and fifteen years
later the Armenian massacres showed what Turkish promises were worth. One
omission was made in these arrangements. Bismarck offered to support a
British occupation of Egypt. Beaconsfield refused thus to impair the
integrity of the Ottoman Empire, and took a worthless "lease" of the island
of Cyprus instead. The sanction of Europe for our incursion into Egypt was
thus lost.

[314] Lord Mayo, quoted in _Hansard_, III. ccxliii. 312. Lady Betty
Balfour's _Lord Lytton's Indian Administration_ is a very good account of
the Viceroy's aims and methods. See also the Blue Book, _Papers Relating to
Afghanistan_ (1878).

[315] Balfour, 30.

[316] For the Parliamentary debates see _Hansard_, III. ccxliii. 245
(Lords), and 310 (Commons). Lord Lawrence's views were quoted from a
dispatch of his (1869) at p. 311.

[317] _Hansard_, III. ccxliii. 349.

[318] _Hansard_, 380. Mr. Chamberlain's defence of the claim to criticize a
war while it is in progress (p. 382) is the best possible comment on his
treatment of Pro-Boers twenty years later.

[319] The best Liberal speeches are in _Hansard_, III. ccxliii., Lords
Halifax (245), Lawrence (261), and Grey (406); Whitbread (310), Chamberlain
(380), and Gladstone (541).

[320] _The Midlothian Campaign_ (speeches in 1879 and 1880), 113.

[321] _Ibid._, 194.

[322] _The Midlothian Campaign_, 19.

[323] _Ibid._, 66.

[324] _Ibid._, 131.

[325] _The Midlothian Campaign_, 58.

[326] _The Midlothian Campaign_, 63.

[327] Lord Randolph Churchill, Mr. Arthur Balfour, Sir John Gorst, and Sir
Henry Drummond Wolff.

[328] _Hansard_, III. cclxxviii. 1174. Bright's best speech is at cclx.

[329] _Times_, 21st November, 1883; _Nineteenth Century_, January and
February, 1884. Miss Octavia Hill, who knew more about the subject than
anybody else, was not appointed a member of the Commission, though she gave
evidence. Twenty years elapsed before a woman sat on a Royal Commission.

[330] _Report_ of Lord Bessborough's Commission (1881), 21.

[331] Lord Morley's _Miscellanies_, iv. 306.

[332] _Midlothian Campaign_, 44.

[333] See _Hansard_, III. ccxcviii. 1659; ccxcix. 1085, 1098, 1119. Lord
Salisbury spoke at Newport on the 7th October, 1885, three months after
Lord Carnarvon had, with his knowledge, communicated with Parnell.

[334] _Hansard_, III. ccciv. 1050.

[335] _Ibid._, 1372.

[336] At Nottingham, 31st January, 1913.

[337] _Hansard_, III. ccciv. 1268.

[338] At Bristol, 17th January, 1888.

[339] _Aspects of Home Rule_ (speech of 22nd April, 1893), 170. Mr. Balfour
succeeded Sir Michael as Irish Secretary on the 7th March, 1887.

[340] _Hansard_, III. ccccix. 66, 1191; cccxii. 183; cccxiii. 1608.

[341] Lord Hugh Cecil, Lord St. Aldwyn, and Mr. Bonar Law have recently
suggested that the Crown itself should once more take an active and open
part in politics and veto legislation.

[342] See his _Popular Government_.

[343] J. A. Hobson's _Imperialism_, chap. i.; Meredith Townsend in
_Liberalism and the Empire_, 341.

[344] Lord Wolseley's _Soldier's Pocket Book_. His lordship would probably
not poison his enemy's wells, or burn him alive, or kill him with explosive
bullets, or massacre his women and children. But why not?

[345] See, for instance, L. T. Hobhouse's _Democracy and Reaction_; J. A.
Hobson's _Imperialism_; and Norman Angell's _Great Illusion_.

[346] See Fitzpatrick's _Transvaal from Within_; Sir E. T. Cook's _Rights
and Wrongs of the Transvaal War_; Mr. Bryce's _Impressions of South
Africa_; and Sir Francis Younghusband's _South Africa of To-day_ (1897),
246, 250.

[347] Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman's _Speeches reprinted from the Times_,

[348] It has been suggested that without the war this would have been
impossible. Even if this were true, the case against the war would still
stand. Material success cannot be balanced against morality. It might
similarly be argued that an eruption on the skin is a good thing, because
it rids the body of poisonous matter. Clean living would have prevented the
accumulation of the poison, and made the violent means of discharge

[349] The questions of limiting the number of "pickets," and of making
Unions liable for the wrongful acts of their central executive committees
are not yet finally settled. The Acts of 1871 and 1874 did not, I think
contemplate an absolute immunity.

[350] Lord Morley's _Miscellanies_, iv. 311. The same principles are of
course being applied in all civilized countries. See Mr. Jethro Brown's
_Underlying Principles of Modern Legislation_.

[351] In a very remarkable article in the _Edinburgh Review_ for January,
1912, an anonymous writer declares that the better sort of workmen are now
not merely politically, but actually, in character and ability, the
superiors of the middle class. The shameless ignorance and hostility to
ideas, which he discovers in the latter, are due partly to the increase of
luxury and partly to the public-school system. The reform of the latter,
which is now in progress, is probably as urgent a need of the middle, as
industrial insurance is of the working class.

[352] Herbert Samuel's _Liberalism_, 8, 11.

[353] The Labour Exchange at Liverpool has actually decasualized the whole
of the system of dock labour in that port. Credit for this is due to Mr.
Rowland Williams, of the Exchange, and Mr. Lawrence D. Holt, a local
shipowner. The machinery established by the Act has done what private
effort had for a generation found beyond its strength.

[354] _Liberalism and the Social Problem_, 316. These speeches are by far
the best expression of the philosophy of the new Liberalism.

[355] Churchill, _op. cit._, 82.

[356] Mr. Harold Spender, in Mr. Philip Snowden's _Living Wage_, x.

[357] It should be remembered that in the peculiar case of women Trade
Unionism is almost impossible. Without the State, they have no means of
raising their wages as men have raised theirs by combination.

[358] _Social Statics_ (1851), 325.

[359] A great proportion of this surplus wealth is spent on giving
fictitious values to works of art and curiosities. A china jar which cost
£500 fifty years ago may be bought for £5,000 to-day. The increase
represents no real increase in value, but simply an increased capacity of
millionaires to bid against each other. The price will again fall, as
incomes are reduced.

[360] Accusations of moral corruption are most rarely made by those who are
best acquainted with political history. But what other term is to be
applied to this action, of which I am informed on the best possible
authority? For several days before the day on which the Woman Suffrage
amendment was moved to the Franchise Bill, a Liberal Member, who had
refused to pledge himself to either side, was "bombarded" with requests
from pledged Suffragist Members that he would vote against them and defeat
the amendment. We hang soldiers who commit this offence in military

[361] Sir Almroth Wright's notorious pamphlet has of course been repudiated
by the saner women Anti-Suffragists. But it certainly represents the
opinions of the average man Anti-Suffragist.

[362] I cannot deal seriously with the argument that the vote is merely an
expression of physical force, that a minority only yields to a majority
because it would be beaten in a civil war, that substantially all women
might vote on one side at an election and substantially all men on the
other, that the women outnumber the men and would therefore be able to
procure the legislation which they wanted, that the men would refuse to
obey the law, that civil war would follow, that the women would be beaten,
and that society would be dissolved. Those politicians who believe in the
possibility of such a succession of miracles had better retire each to a
separate desert island. They will not find in any society of human beings a
constitution which does not admit, on similarly logical grounds, of the
same dreadful disasters. Such an absurd and pedantic example of reasoning
away from human nature has not been seriously maintained in England since
the time of Cartwright.

[363] I use these terms as a convenient way of referring to the general
movements for and against emancipation. They may mean anything in
themselves. So far as I am concerned, I believe neither in that sexual
promiscuity which some Anti-Suffragists charge against their opponents, nor
on the other hand in that theory of a primitive matriarchate upon which
some Suffragists base their claims.

[364] For the history of the agitation see Mrs. Fawcett's _Women's
Suffrage_ ("The People's Books" series); and for its philosophical basis,
Mrs. Olive Schreiner's _Women and Labour_, and my own _Emancipation of
English Women_.

[365] I refer those who believe that the militant women were suffering from
hysteria or other sexual disorder to the deliberate contradiction of Mr.
H. L. Carre-Smith, in the _Standard_ of the 9th April, 1912. Mr. Smith is a
competent physician, and an Anti-Suffragist, and he has made a careful
study of the militant type. "As a rule," he says, "I have been struck by
their normal demeanour."

[366] The only Government department which acted wisely in dealing with the
women was the Irish Office. The first offenders against the law in Dublin
were promptly placed in the first division. Unhappily, this was after Mr.
McKenna had revived forcible feeding, and too late to produce any effect.
The next Irish offences were attempts at arson and murder, committed by one
of Mr. McKenna's prisoners. Had Mr. Birrell been at the Home Office in
1906, we should still be far from arson and explosives.

[367] I received a letter from a Cabinet Minister in 1909, in which he said
that he expected vitriol-throwing at any moment. Vitriol is, of course, the
weapon of an outraged sex instinct, the injured wife or discarded mistress.

[368] I refer my readers to the grave and responsible report of Sir Victor
Horsley, Dr. Mansell Moulin, and Dr. Agnes Saville, three physicians of
unquestioned competence and probity, which appeared in the _Lancet_ of the
24th August, 1912.

[369] One of the charges, that a large number of plain-clothes policemen
had mingled with the crowd for the purpose of attacking the women, was no
more a subject for investigation in a court of law than the subject of the
Parnell Commission. On this point Mr. Churchill denied the charges without
inquiring of anybody but police officers, whose evidence, even if it was
perfectly honest, was of little value. For a police officer to say that he
did not see a fact, one of a large number of facts, is not sufficient proof
that a private person is lying when he states that he did see it. Two
gentlemen known to me say that they saw a large number (one says "more than
a hundred") of plain-clothes men march back into Scotland Yard after the
disturbance. Mr. Churchill says that there were "not more than a dozen" on
duty. My informants may be lying or mistaken. But Mr. Churchill is not in a
position to say so, because he never attempted to cross-examine them. Both
appear to me to be honest witnesses.

[370] For a naïve and illuminating statement of the militant women's case
see _The Suffragette_, by Sylvia Pankhurst; and for a fuller statement of
my own opinions, my _Emancipation of English Women_ (1913 edition). For the
case against Mr. Churchill see the pamphlet _Treatment of the Women's
Deputations by the Metropolitan Police_ (The Woman's Press, 1911). See also
my pamphlet _Political Prisoners_ (National Political League, 1912). During
the London Dock strike of 1912 charges similar to those above mentioned
were made against the police. Mr. McKenna granted a public inquiry at once.

[371] No Liberal questions Sir Edward Grey's honesty or good will. His
record in connection with Woman's Suffrage, no bad touchstone, is
conspicuously pure.

[372] The action of Austria in establishing formal sovereignty over Bosnia
and Herzegovina was not such a gross violation of moral rules as it appears
at first sight. Austria had been in occupation of these territories, with
European sanction, for more than a generation, and there is no question
that they had been well governed. It was only in taking advantage of the
revolution in Turkey, without obtaining the formal consent of the Powers,
that she acted immorally.

[373] It should be remembered that the whole of the Foreign Service is
recruited from among people with minimum incomes of £400 a year. This
ensures a Tory bias among permanent officials.

[374] There is great need of a history of foreign policy which shall trace
in a satisfactory way the various currents which have brought us to our
present situation. For the present we have to rely on detached studies like
Mr. E. D. Morel's _Morocco in Diplomacy_, Mr. E. H. Perris's _Our Foreign
Policy and Sir Edward Grey's Failure_, Mr. J. A. Spender's pamphlet
reprinted from the _Westminster Gazette_, Mr. Morgan Shuster's _Strangling
of Persia_, Professor E. G. Browne's pamphlets on the same subject, and the
Hon. George Peel's _Friends of England_, _Enemies of England_, and _Future
of England_. There is no general historical survey, and until there is,
foreign policy will remain as much the monopoly of a caste as ancient legal
systems. It is time that this mysterification of such important affairs was
ended. At this moment (February, 1913), though the French Government has
published a huge Yellow Book on the Morocco crisis, Sir Edward Grey still
refuses to the English people any explanation of the reason why he nearly
led them into war eighteen months ago.

[375] An article in the _Times_ of the 15th March, 1913 seems to endorse
all our Liberal protests and criticisms.

[376] See, for example, the article by Mr. Sydney Brooks in the
_Fortnightly Review_ for January, 1913. The suggestion was also made in a
leading article in the _Daily Telegraph_, the date of which I forget.

       *       *       *       *       *

Changes made against printed original.

Page 10. "The maintenance of rights is the condition of human progress":
'conditions' in original.

Page 90. "The Gordon Riots in June, 1780": '1880' in original.

Page 197. "paid an artificially high price": 'artifically' in original.

Page 235. "mass of mutually dependent individuals": 'mutally' in original.

Page 261. "to which other Powers were parties": 'others Powers' in

Page 290. "not an adequate political substitute": 'adeqate' in original.

Page 308. "protecting weak men against temptation": 'tempation' in

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Short History of English Liberalism" ***

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