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Title: Bygones Worth Remembering, Vol. 2 (of 2)
Author: Holyoake, George Jacob
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Bygones Worth Remembering, Vol. 2 (of 2)" ***

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BYGONES WORTH REMEMBERING

By George Jacob Holyoake

"Look backward only to correct an error of conduct for the next attempt"

      George Meredith

Volume II



CHAPTER XXIV. CONVERSATIONS WITH MR. GLADSTONE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In former times, when an eminent woman contributed to the distinction
of her consort, he alone received the applause. In these more
discriminating days, when the noble companionship of a wife has made her
husband's eminence possible, honour is due to her also. Therefore, on
drawing the resolution of condolence to Mrs. Gladstone, adopted at the
Peterborough Co-operative Congress, we made the acknowledgment how much
was due to the wife as well as the husband. I believe no resolution sent
to her, but ours, did this. Sympathy is not enough where honour is due.
In the splendid winter of Mr. Gladstone's days there was no ice in his
heart Like the light that ever glowed in the temple of Montezuma the
generous fire of his enthusiasm never went out. The nation mourned his
loss with a pomp of sorrow more deep and universal than ever exalted the
memory of a king.



CHAPTER XXV. HERBERT SPENCER, THE THINKER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One day in 1885, being the guest, in Preston, of the Rev. William
Sharman, he showed me a passage in one of Mr. Spencer's volumes,
published in 1874, which I had not seen, and which surprised me much,
in which it appeared Secularists were below Christians in their sense of
fiduciary integrity. Mr. Sharman said, "Defective as we are supposed to
be, you will see that Secularists are one degree lower in morality than
the clergy." Mr. Spencer had given instances which, in his opinion,
"showed that the cultivation of the intellect does not advance
morality." If that were so, it would follow that it was better to remain
ignorant--if ignorance better develops the ethical sense. The instance
Mr. Spencer gives occurs in the "Study of Sociology" (pp. 418-19),
"Written to show how little operative on conduct is mere teaching. Let
me give, says Mr. Spencer, a striking fact falling under my observation:

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

Christian defaulters............. 31 per cent.

Secularist defaulters............ 32 per cent."

I wrote to Mr. Spencer as follows:

"Eastern Lodge, Brighton,

"_December_ 1, 1885.

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

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

"From so dispassionate and analytic an authority as yourself, your
reflection on the ethical insensibility of Secularists justifies me in
asking your attention to certain facts. By what test did you know that
32 per cent of defaulters were Secularists? The names I gave you were of
persons likely to take in your work if prospectuses were sent to them.
But many of them were not Secularists. Some of them were ministers of
religion, others Churchmen, but having individually a taste for
philosophical inquiry. You do not say that these persons sent in their
names as subscribers. Yet unless they did, they cannot be justly
described 'as regardless of an equitable claim.' Had you informed me of
any whose names I gave you, who had not paid for the work, after
undertaking to do so, I could have procured you the payment, for all
whose names I gave I believe to be men of good faith.--With real regard,

"George Jacob Holyoake."


Mr. Spencer sent me the following reply:

"38, Queen's Gardens, Bayswater, London, W.,

"_November_ 16, 1885.

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

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

"Herbert Spencer."


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

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

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

"2, Lewes Crescent,

"Brighton,

"_January_ 6, 1897.

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

"Herbert Spencer."


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like Huxley, Mr. Spencer would not have slept well in Westminster Abbey.
He needed no consolation in death; and if he had, there was no one who
knew enough to give it to him. His conscience was his consolation. His
one choice was that his friend Mr. John Morley--than whom none were
fitter--should speak at his death the last words over him. Mr. Morley
being in Sicily, this could not be. The next in friendship and power of
estimate--the Right Hon. Leonard Courtney--spoke in his stead, at the
Hampstead Crematorium. Mr. Spencer had a radium mind which gave forth,
of its own spontaneity, light and heat. None who have died could more
appropriately repeat the proud lines of Sir Edward Dyer:--

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



CHAPTER XXVI. SINGULAR CAREER OF MR. DISRAELI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER XXVII. CHARACTERISTICS OF JOSEPH COWEN

I

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

Mr. Cowen entertained a strong repugnance to the word "Empress," which
might become a prelude to Imperialism--as it has done.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     * But only where ambition was stronger than his habitual
     sense of honour.    See chapter lxxix, "Sixty Years."



CHAPTER XXVIII. CHARACTERISTICS OF JOSEPH COWEN

II

But the act which most wounded him occurred at the Elswick works of Lord
Armstrong. Mr. Cowen was returning one day in his carriage at a time of
political excitement. Some of the crowd threw mud upon his coach, and,
if I remember rightly, broke the windows. Just before, when the workmen
were on strike, they went to Mr. Cowen--as all workmen in difficulties
did. He found they did not know their own case, nor how to put it He
employed legal aid to look into the whole matter and make a statement of
it. Mr. Cowen became their negotiator, and obtained a decision in their
favour. The whole expense he incurred on their behalf was £150. Services
of this kind, which had been oft rendered, should have saved him from
public contumely at their hands.

At that time Mr. Cowen was giving the support of his paper against
Liberalism, which he had so long defended and commended, which was an
incentive to the outrage. Still, the sense of gratitude for the known
services rendered to workers, which he continued irrespective of his
change of opinion, should have saved him from all personal disrespect.

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

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

I had been a party several years to negotiating with candidates to stand
for Newcastle, whose public expenses Mr. Cowen paid. I obtained the
consent of the Liberals of York, that Mr. Layard, whom they considered
pledged to them, should become a candidate at Newcastle. "Why should
you?" I said one day to Mr. Cowen, "incur these repeated costs for the
candidature of others, when you can command a seat in your own family
for three generations. If you will not be a candidate, why should
not your father?" The conversation ended by his agreeing that I might
persuade his father to go to Parliament if I could.

     * Unwilling that his father or banker should surmise how
     much he was exhausting his personal resources, he directed
     me at one time to borrow £500 or £1,000 in London. It was
     advanced by a personal friend.

It was in vain that I assured him that the seat was open to
him, but he did not believe, nor wish to believe it. I several times saw
his father at Stella Hall. He thought himself too old. I told him there
were fifty gentlemen in the House of Commons, willing to become Prime
Minister, and some of them waiting for the appointment, who were fifteen
years older than he, and would be disappointed did not the chance come
to them. He found this true when he at length entered the House. His
objection was that he could not ask his neighbours, among whom he had
lived all his days, to elect him. "Suppose they signed an undertaking to
vote for you in case you came forward?" That he consented to consider.
A requisition signed by 2,178 electors was sent to him. Then another
difficulty arose. His son said: "I cannot support my father in the
_Chronicle_."* Then I said, "Let me edit it during the election, and no
line shall appear commending your father to the electors. But whatever
pretensions his adversaries put forth, we will examine." My proposal was
agreed to. It was alleged by the rival candidate, that the requisition
was signed out of courtesy to a popular townsman, and did not mean that
those who signed it had pledged their votes. To this I answered that
when Chambers appeared on the Thames, bookmakers said, "Chambers is a
Newcastle man, who never sells the honour of his town, but will win if
he can." Is it to be true that a Newcastle elector would not only give
his promise, but write it, without intending to keep it? Will he be true
on the Thames and false on the Tyne? All the requisitionists save a
few, whom sickness or misadventure kept from the poll, voted for Joseph
Cowen, senior, who was elected by a large majority.

     * This diffidence of appearing as the advocate of his father
     was carried to excess. When a local paper made remarks upon
     his father's knighthood, which ought to have been resented,
     I set out late one night to Darlington, arriving a little
     before midnight, and wrote a vindicatory notice, which, by
     the friendship of Mr. H. K. Spark, was inserted in the
     _Darlington Times_ that night. It was quoted afterwards in
     the _Newcastle Chronicle_.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Honours were not much accessible in those days, especially in uncourtly
quarters. My representation, in suggesting what I did, was, that as
personal distinction was conferred upon persons who had made £100,000,
something was due to one who may be said to have given that sum to the
public.* His chairmanship of the Tyne Commission extended over a period
of twenty-four years, during which the Tyne was converted from a creek
into a navigable river.

     * Sir Joseph Cowen was appointed by Act of Parliament, 1850,
     chairman for life of the Tyne Improvement Commission, an
     unpaid office. There was then only six feet of water on the
     bar at low water spring tides, and twenty-one at high water.
     In 1870 there was a depth of twenty feet at low water, and
     thirty-five at high water; the deepening extending nine
     miles from the bar. In twenty years ending 1870 there had
     been raised thirty-eight million tons. In 1870 the tonnage
     of the Tyne had risen from two and a half millions to more
     than four and a half millions, exceeding by one million that
     of the Thames. In 1865 there entered the Tyne port for
     refuge 133 vessels. In 1870 558 vessels fled there from the
     storms of the North Sea.

The time and assiduity thus devoted to the service of navigation and
trade would have added £100,000 to his fortune. That his knighthood
might be justified in the eyes of his neighbours and his own, I supplied
the facts which authorised it to Mr. Walker, who was then editor of the
_Daily News_, and which appeared in his leader columns. My reason for
taking the step I did was a sense of duty to the public, who should
see as far as possible that those who rendered service should find
acknowledgment of it I was of Coleridge's opinion:--

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

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

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

After his retirement from Parliament and platform he occasionally
delivered orations on persons, at inaugurations, which surpassed all I
have ever read of the kind, for aptness of phrase, variety of thought
and vivid portraiture, which ought to be added to the record of English
oratory.

It was not reasonable in him, after the change in his political views,
to expect that his townsmen should adopt the new opinions he had begun
to countenance, and which he had himself taught them to distrust. But
this is what strong leaders do who suffer the pride of power to become
imperious. A just ambition, which is patient, and will work for results,
can as a rule succeed. It is ambition which is impetuous, and will not
wait longer, which lapses into reaction from disappointment. With all
his virtues, Mr. Cowen was impetuous. To desert a party because of the
folly or excesses of portions of its members, would oblige a man to
change his profession in politics and his creed in religion every twelve
months.

In his earlier career it may be imagined that Mr. Cowen derived his
principles from generous prejudices, in later days from indignant
impulses.

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER XXIX. THE PERIL OF SCRUPLES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     *  Blackheath Park, Kent, August 8, 1869.

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



CHAPTER XXX. TAKING SIDES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The point of importance, I repeat, is--that persons should remember,
or be taught to remember, that the course of right, like the course of
wrong, is attended by consequences. Many who are honourably attracted by
the right are disappointed at finding that it has its duties as well as
its pleasures--which, had they known at first, they would have made up
their minds to do them; but not being apprised of them, when they first
encounter inconvenience, they think they have been deceived, falter, and
sometimes turn from a noble course upon which they had entered.

Any one would think there was no great peril to be encountered by taking
sides with veracity. Let him avoid the sin of pretension, and see what
will happen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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



CHAPTER XXXI. THINGS WHICH WENT AS THEY WOULD

I commence with Judge Hughes' first candidature. There are cases in
which gratitude is submerged by prejudice, even among the cultivated
classes. There was Thomas Hughes, whose statue has been deservedly
erected in Rugby. Three years before he became a member of Parliament
I told him he might enter the House were he so minded. And when
opportunity arose I was able to confirm my assurance.

One Friday afternoon in 1865 some Lambeth politicians of the middle and
working classes, whom Bernal Osborne had disappointed of being their
candidate (a vacancy having attracted him elsewhere), came to me at the
House of Commons to inquire if I could suggest one to them. I named
Mr. Hughes as a good fighting candidate, who had sympathy with working
people, and who, being honest, could be trusted in what he promised, and
being an athlete, could, like Feargus O'Connor, be depended upon on a
turbulent platform. I was to see Mr. Hughes at once, which I did, and
after much argument satisfied him that if he took the "occasion by the
hand" he might succeed. He said, "he must first consult Sally"--meaning
Mrs. Hughes. I had heard him sing "Sally in our Alley," and took his
remark as a playful allusion to his wife as the heroine of the song.
That he might be under no illusion, I suggested that he should not enter
upon the contest unless he was prepared to lose £1,000.

The next morning he consented. I took him to my friends of the Electoral
Committee, by whom he was accepted. When he entered the vestibule of
the hall of meeting I left him, lest my known opinions on other subjects
should compromise him in the minds of some electors. This was on the
Saturday afternoon. I saw that by issuing an address in the Monday
morning papers he would be first in the field. On Sunday morning,
therefore, I waited for him at the Vere Street Church door, where the
Rev. F. D. Maurice preached, to ask him to write at once his address
to the electors. He thought more of his soul than of his success, and
reluctantly complied with my request. His candidature might prevent a
Tory member being elected, and the labours of the Liberal electors for
years being rendered futile, education put back, the Liberal Association
discouraged, taxation of the people increased, and the moral and
political deterioration of the borough ensue. To avert all such evils
the candidate was loath to peril his salvation for an hour. Yet would
it not have been a work of human holiness to do it, which would make
his soul better worth saving? That day I had lunch at his table in Park
Lane, while he thought the matter over. That was the first and last time
I was asked to his house. That afternoon he brought the address to my
home, then known as Dymoke Lodge, Oval Road, Regent's Park, and had tea
with my family. I had collected several persons in another room ready to
make copies of the address.

I wrote letters to various editors, took a cab, and left a copy of the
address myself, before ten o'clock, at the offices of all the chief
newspapers published on Monday morning. The editor of the _Daily News_
and one or two others I saw personally. All printed the address as news,
free of expense. Next morning the Liberal electors were amazed to
see their candidate "first in the field" before any other had time to
appear. All the while I knew Mr. Hughes would vote against three things
which I valued, and in favour of which I had written and spoken. He
would vote against the ballot, against opening picture galleries and
museums on Sunday, and against the separation of the Church from the
State. But on the whole he was calculated to promote the interests of
the country, and therefore I did what I could to promote his election.

I wrote for the election two or three bills. The following is one:--

     HUGHES  FOR  LAMBETH.

     Vote for "Tom Brown."

     Vote   for a Gentleman who is a friend of  the People.

     Vote  for a  Churchman who will   do justice   to
     Dissenters.

     Vote for a tried Politician who will support just measures
     and can give sensible reasons for them.

     Vote for   a   distinguished writer   and   raise   the
     character of metropolitan constituencies.

     Vote for a candidate who can defend your cause in the Press
     as well as in Parliament

     Vote for a man known to be honest and who has long worked
     for the industrious classes.

     Electors of Lambeth,

     Vote for Thomas Hughes.


Mr. Hughes would have had no address out but for me. Had he spent £100
in advertisements a day or two later he could not have purchased the
advantage this promptitude gave him. I worked very hard all that Sunday,
a son and daughter helping--but our souls did not count Two weeks went
by--during which I ceaselessly promulgated his candidature--and I heard
nothing from the candidate. As I had paid the emergency expenses of the
Sunday copyists, found them refreshments while they wrote, and paid for
the cab on its round to the offices, I found myself £2 "out of pocket,"
as lawyers put it, and I sent a note to Mr. Hughes to say that amount
would cover costs incurred. He replied in a curt note saying I should
"find a cheque for £2 within"--giving me the impression that he regarded
it as an extortion, which he thought it better to submit to than resent.
He never thanked me, then or at any time, for what I did. Never in all
his life did he refer to the service I had rendered him.

A number of friends were invited to Great Ormond Street College to
celebrate his election, but I was not one. This was not handsome
treatment, but I thought little of it. It was not Mr. Hughes's natural,
but his ecclesiastical self. I withstood him and his friends, the
Christian Socialists, who sought to colour Co-operation with Church
tenets, which would put distraction into it. Association with me was at
that time repugnant to Mr. Hughes. Nevertheless, I continued to serve
him whenever I could. He was a friend of Co-operation, to his cost,
and was true to the Liberal interests of the people. My daughter, Mrs.
Praill, and her husband gave their house as a committee-room when Mr.
Hughes was subsequently a candidate in Marylebone, and she canvassed for
him so assiduously that he paid her a special visit of acknowledgment.

The Christian Socialist propaganda is another instance of the wilfulness
of things which went as you did not want them to go. In those days
not only did I fail to find favour in the eyes of Mr. Hughes--even Mr.
Vansittart Neale, the most liberal of Christian Socialists, thought me,
for some years, an unengaging colleague. General Maurice, in the Life of
his eminent father (Professor Denison Maurice), relates that Mr. Maurice
regarded me as an antagonist. This was never so. I had always respect
for Professor Maurice because of his theological liberality. He believed
that perdition was limited to aeons. The duration of an aeon he was not
clear upon; but whatever its length, it was then an unusual and merciful
limitation of eternal torture. This cost him his Professorship at
King's College, through the enmity, it was said, of Professor Jelf. I
endeavoured to avenge Professor Maurice by dedicating to Dr. Jelf my
"Limits of Atheism." Elsewhere I assailed him because I had honour for
Professor Maurice, for his powerful friendship to Co-operation. When the
news of his death came to the Bolton Congress it was I who drew up and
proposed the resolution of honour and sorrow which we passed.

It was always the complaint against the early "Socialists"--as the
Co-operators were then called--that they mixed up polemical controversy
with social advocacy. The Christian Socialists strenuously made this
objection, yet all the while they were seeking to do the same thing.
What they rightly objected to was that the chief Co-operators gave
irrelevant prominence to the alien question of theology, and repelled
all persons who differed from them.

All the while, what they objected to was not theology, but to a kind
of theology not their own, and this kind, as soon as they acquired
authority, they proceeded to introduce. They proceeded to compile a
handbook intended to pledge the Co-operators to the Church of England,
and I received proofs, which I still have, in which Mr. Hughes made
an attack on all persons of Freethinking views. I objected to this
as violating the principle on which we had long agreed, namely, of
Co-operative neutrality in religion* and politics, as their introduction
was the signal of disputation which diverted the attention of members
from the advancement of Co-operation in life, trade, and labour. At
the Leeds Congress I maintained that the congress was like Parliament,
where, as Canning said, no question is introduced which cannot be
discussed. If Church views were imported into the societies, Heretics
and Nonconformists, who were the originators of the movement, would have
the right of introducing. Personally, I preferred controversy _outside_
Co-operation. Their tenets. Mr. Hughes was so indignant at my protest
that he, being in the chair, refused to call upon me to move a
resolution officially assigned to me upon another subject. At the
meeting of the United Board for revising motions to be brought before
Congress, I gave notice that if the Church question should be raised
I should object to it, as it would then be in order (should the
introduction of theology be sanctioned) for an Atheist (Agnostic was
not a current word then) to propose the adoption of his views, and an
Atheist, as such, might be a president. Whereupon Mr. Vansittart Neale,
our general secretary, declared with impassioned vehemence that he hoped
the day would never come when an Atheist would be elected president.
Yet when, some years later, I was appointed president of the Carlisle
Congress (1887)--though I was still considered entirely deficient in
proper theological convictions--Mr. Hughes and Mr. Neale, who were both
present, were most genial, and with their concurrence 100,000 copies of
my address were printed--a distinction which befel no other president.

In another instance I had to withstand Church ascendancy.

I was the earliest and foremost advocate of the neutrality of
pious opinion in Co-operation; when others who knew its value were
silent--afraid or unwilling to give pain to the Christian Socialists,
whom we all respected, and to whom we were all indebted for legal and
friendly assistance.

But integrity of principle is higher than friendship. Some Northumbrian
societies, whose members were largely Nonconformists, were greatly
indignant at the attempt to give ascendancy to Church opinions, and
volunteered to support my protest against it But when the day of protest
came at the Leeds Congress they all deserted me--not one raised a voice
on my side; though they saw me browbeaten in their interest My argument
was, that if we assented to become a Church party we might come to have
our proceedings opened with a collect, or by prayer, to which it would
be hypocrisy in many to pretend to assent. At the following Derby
Congress this came to pass: Bishop Southwell, who opened the Industrial
Exhibition, made a prayer and members of the United Board knelt round
him. I was the only one who stood up, it being the only seemly form
of protest there. This scene was never afterwards repeated. Bishop
Southwell was a devout, kindly, and intellectually liberal prelate,
but he did not know, or did not respect, as other Bishops did, the
neutrality of Congress.

For myself, I was always in favour of the individuality of the religious
conscience in its proper place. I love the picturesqueness of personal
conviction. It was I who first proposed that we should accept offers
of sermons on Congress Sunday by ministers of every denomination.
Co-operators included members of all religious persuasions, and I
was for their opportunity of hearing favourite preachers apart from
Co-operative proceedings.

It is only necessary for the moral of these instances to pursue them.
There is education in them and public suggestiveness which may justify
the continuance of the subject.

When the _Co-operative News_ was begun in Manchester (1871), I wrote its
early leaders, and as its prospects were not hopeful, it was agreed that
the _Social Economist_, which I and Mr. E. O. Greening had established
in London in 1868, should cease in favour of the _Co-operative News_,
as we wished to see one paper, one interest, and one party. As the
Manchester office was too poor to purchase our journal, we agreed that
it should be paid for when the Manchester paper succeeded, and the price
should be what the cessation of the _Social Economist_ should be thought
to be worth to the new paper. It was sixteen years before the fulfilment
of their side of the bargain. The award, if I remember rightly, was
£15, but I know the period was as long and the amount as small. The
_Co-operative News_ had then been established many years. It was worth
much more than £100 to the Manchester paper to have a London rival
out of the way. It was not an encouraging transaction, and but for Mr.
Neale, Abraham Greenwood and Mr. Crabtree it would not have ended as
it did. But the committee were workmen without knowledge of literary
matters. So I made no complaint, and worked with them and for their
paper all the same. It was a mistake to discontinue the _Social
Economist_, which had some powerful friends. Co-operation was soon
narrowed in Manchester. Co-operative workshops were excluded from
participation in profit. We should have kept Co-operation on a higher
level in London.

The Rochdale Jubilee is the last instance I shall cite. In 1892 was
celebrated the jubilee of the Rochdale Society. I received no invitation
and no official notice. The handbook published by the society, in
commemoration of its fifty years' success, made no reference to me nor
to the services I had rendered the society. I had written its history,
which had been printed in America, and translated into the chief
languages of Europe--in Spain, in Hungary, several times in France and
Italy. I had put the name of the Pioneers into the mouth of the world,
yet my name was never mentioned by any one. Speaking on the part of the
Rochdale Co-operators, the President of Jubilee Congress, who knew
the facts of my devotion to the reputation of Rochdale, was silent.
Archdeacon Wilson was the only one who showed me public regard. The
local press said some gracious things, but they were not Co-operators.
I had spoken at the graves of the men who had made the fortunes of the
store, and had written words of honour of all the political leaders of
the town, and of those best remembered in connection with the famous
society, which I had vindicated, without ceasing, during half a century.

In the earlier struggles of the Pioneers I had looked forward to the day
of their jubilee, when I should stand in their regard as I had done
in their day of need. Of course, this gave me a little concern to
find myself treated as one unknown to them. But in truth they had not
forgotten me, though they ignored me. The new generation of Co-operators
had abandoned, to Mr. Bright's regret, participation of profit with
Labour, the noblest aspiration of the Pioneers. I had addressed them in
remonstrance, in the language of Lord Byron, who was Lord of the Manor
of Rochdale:--

     "You have the Rochdale store as yet,
     Where has the Rochdale workshop gone?
     Of two such lessons why forget
     The nobler and the manlier one?"

Saying this cost me their cordiality and their gratitude; but I cared
for the principle and for the future, and was consoled.

In every party, the men who made it great die, and leave no immediate
successors. But in time their example recreates them. But at the Jubilee
of 1892, they had not re-appeared, and those who had memories and
gratitude were dead. I spoke over the grave of Cooper, of Smithies, of
Thomas Livesey--John Bright's schoolfellow--the great friend of the dead
Pioneers saying:--

     "They are gone, the holy ones,
     Who trod with me this lovely vale;
     My old star-bright companions
     Are silent, low and pale."*

The question arises, does this kind of experience justify a person in
deserting his party?

The last incident and others preceding it are given as instances of
outrage or neglect, which in public life explain ignominious desertion
of principle. I have known men change sides in Parliament because the
Premier, who had defect of sight, passed them by in the lobby without
recognition. I have seen others desert a party, which they had
brilliantly served, because their personal ambition had not been
recognised. Because of this I have seen a man turn heels over head in
the presence of Parliament, and land himself in the laps of adversaries
who had been kicking him all his life.

If I did not do so, it was because I remembered that parties are like
persons, who at one time do mean things, but at other times generous
things.

     * "History of Rochdale Pioneers, 1844-1892" (Sonnenschein).

Besides, a democratic party is continually changing in its component
members, and many come to act in the name of the movement who are
ignorant of its earlier history and of the obligation it may be under
to those who have served it in its struggling days. But whether affronts
are consciously given or not, they do not count where allegiance to a
cause is concerned. Ingratitude does not invalidate a true principle.
When contrary winds blow, a fair-weather partisan tacks about, and will
even sail into a different sea where the breezes are more complacent. I
remained the friend of the cause alike in summer and winter, not because
I was insensible to vicissitudes, but because it was a simple duty to
remain true to a principle whose integrity was not and could not
be affected by the caprice, the meanness, the obliviousness, or the
malignity of its followers.

Such are some of the incidents--of which others of more public interest
may be given--of the nature of bygones which have instruction in them.
They are not peculiar to any party. They occur continually in Parliament
and in the Church. I have seen persons who had rendered costly service
of long duration who, by some act of ingratitude on the part of the few,
have turned against the whole class, which shows that, consciously or
unconsciously, it was self-recognition they sought, or most cared for,
rather than the service of the principle they had espoused.

There is no security for the permanence of public effort, save in the
clear conviction of its intrinsic rightfulness and conduciveness to the
public good. The rest must be left to time and posterity. True, the debt
is sometimes paid after the creditor is dead. But if reparation never
comes to the living, unknown persons whose condition needs betterment
receive it, and that is the proud and consoling thought of those
who--unrequited--effected it. The wholesome policy of persistence is
expressed in the noble maxim of Helvetius to which John Morley has given
new currency: "Love men, but do not expect too much from them."

Fewer persons would fall into despair if their anticipations were, like
a commercial company, "limited." Many men expect in others perfection,
who make no conspicuous contribution themselves to the sum of that
excellent attribute.

"Giving too little and asking too much Is not alone a fault of the
Dutch."

I do not disguise that standing by Rightness is an onerous duty. It is
as much a merit as it is a distinction to have been, at any time, in
the employ of Truth. But Truth, though an illustrious, is an exacting
mistress, and that is why so many people who enter her service soon give
notice to leave.

     [With respect to this chapter, Mr. Ludlow wrote supplying
     some particulars regarding the Christian Socialists, to
     which it is due to him that equal publicity be given. He
     states "that the first Council of Promoters included two
     members, neither of whom professed to be a Christian; that
     the first secretary of the Society for Promoting Working
     Men's Associations was not one, during the whole of his
     faithful service (he became one twenty years later), and
     that his successors were, at the time we took them on, one
     an Agnostic, the other a strong Congregationalist." This is
     the first time these facts have been made known. But none of
     the persons thus described had anything to do with the
     production of the Handbook referred to and discussed at the
     Leeds Congress of 1881. Quite apart from the theological
     tendencies of the "Christian Socialists," the Co-operative
     movement has been indebted to them for organisation and
     invaluable counsel, as I have never ceased to say. They were
     all for the participation of profits in workshops, which is
     the essential part of higher Co-operation. There was always
     light in their speeches, and it was the light of principle.
     In this respect Mr. Ludlow was the first, as he is the last
     to display it, as he alone survives that distinguished band.
     Of Mr. Edward Vansittart Neale I have unmeasured admiration
     and regard. To use the fine saying of Abd-el-Kader,
     "Benefits   conferred   are   golden fetters which bind men
     of noble mind to the giver." This is the lasting sentiment
     of the most experienced Co-operators towards the Christian
     Socialists.]



CHAPTER XXXII. STORY OF THE LAMBETH PALACE GROUNDS

Seed sown upon the waters, we are told, may bring forth fruit after
many days. This chapter tells the story of seed sown on very stony soil,
which brought forth fruit twenty-five years later.

In 1878, Mr. George Anderson, an eminent consulting gas engineer, in
whom business had not abated human sympathy, passed every morning on his
way to his chambers in Westminster, by the Lambeth Palace grounds. He
was struck by the contrast of the spacious and idle acres adjoining
the Palace and the narrow, dismal streets where poor children peered in
corners and alleys. The sheep in the Palace grounds were fat and florid,
and the children in the street were lean and pallid. The smoke from
works around dyed dark the fleece of the sheep.

Mr. Anderson thought how much happier a sight it would be to see the
children take the place of the sheep, and asked me if something could
not be done.

The difficulty of rescuing or of alienating nine acres of land from the
Church, so skilled in holding, did not seem a hopeful undertaking, while
the resentment of good vicars and expectant curates might surely be
counted upon. Nevertheless the attempt was worth making.

Before long I spent portions of some days in exploring the Palace
grounds, and interviewing persons who had evidence to give, or interest
to use, on behalf of a change which seemed so desirable.

Eventually I brought the matter before a meeting I knew to be interested
in ethical improvement, and read to them the draft of a memorial that I
thought ought to be sent to the Archbishop at Lambeth Palace. Persons
in stations low and high alike, often suffer wrong to exist which they
might arrest, because they have not seen it to be wrong or have not been
told that it is so. Blame of any one could not be justly expressed who
had not personal knowledge of an evil complained of. Therefore I
urged that we should give the Archbishop information which we thought
justified his action, and I was authorised to send to him the memorial I
had read.

I wrote myself to his Grace, stating that I could testify as to
the social facts detailed in the memorial I enclosed, which was as
follows:--

"May it please your Grace,--We, the evening congregation assembled in
South Place Chapel, Finsbury--some assenting and some dissenting from
the tenets represented by your Grace--represented as worthily as by any
one who has occupied your high station, and with greater fairness to
those who stand outside the Church than is shown by many prelates--we
pray your Grace to give heed to a secular plea on behalf of certain
little neighbours of yours whom, amid the pressure of spiritual duties,
your Grace may have overlooked.

"Crouching under the very walls of Lambeth Palace, where your Grace has
the pleasant responsibility of illustrating the opulence and paternal
sympathy of the legal Church of the land, lie streets as dismal,
cheerless, and discreditable as any that God in His wrath ever permitted
to remain unconsumed. In the houses are polluted air, squalor, dirt and
pale-faced children. The only green thing upon which their feverish eyes
could look is enclosed in your Grace's Palace Park, and shut out from
their sight by dead walls. What we pray is that your Grace, in mercy and
humanity, will substitute for those penal walls some pervious palisades
through which children may behold the refreshing paradise of Nature,
though they may never enter therein. In this ever-crowding metropolis,
where field and tree belong to the extinct sights of a happier age,
children are born and die without ever knowing their soothing charm,
and hunger and thirst for a green thing to look upon--as sojourners in
a desert do for the sight of shrub or water. No prayer your Grace could
offer to heaven would be so welcome in its kindly courts, as the prayer
of gladness and gratitude which would go up with the screams of change
and joy from the pallid little ones, breathing the fresh air from the
green meadows, which only a few more fortunate sheep now enjoy.

"Might we pray that the gates should be open, and that the children
themselves should be free to enter the meadows? Even the Temple Gardens
of the City are open to little friendless people. They who give this
gracious permission are hard-souled lawyers, usually regarded as
representing the rigid, exacting, and unsympathetic side of human
life--yet they show such noble tenderness to the little miserables
who crawl round the Temple pavement, that they grant entrance to their
splendid gardens; and half-clad cellar urchins from the purlieus of
Drury Lane and Clare Market romp with their ragged sisters on the
glorious grass, in the sight and scent of beauteous flowers. If lawyers
do this, may we not ask it of one who is appointed to represent what
we are told is the kindliness and tenderness of Christianity, and whose
Master said, 'Suffer little children to come unto Me, and forbid them
not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven'? We ask not that they should
personally approach your Grace, but that the children of your desolate
neighbourhood should be allowed to disport in the vacant meadows of the
Palace--that their souls may acquire some scent of Nature which their
lives may never know.

"Let your Grace take a walk down 'Royal Street,' which flanks your
Palace grounds, and see whether houses so pestilential ever stood in a
street of so dainty a name? Go into the houses (as the writer of this
memorial has) and see how a blank wall has been kept up so that no
occupant of the rooms may look on grass or tree, and the window which
admits light and air has been turned, by order of a former archbishop,
the opposite way upon an outlook as wretched as the lot of the
inhabitants. For forty years many inmates have lived and slept by the
side of your Grace's park, without ever being allowed a glimpse of it.
You may have no power to cancel such social outrage--but your Grace may.
condone it by kindly and considerately according the use of the meadows
to the poor children--doomed to burrow in these close, unwholesome
tenements at your doors.

"No one accuses your Grace of being wanting in personal kindliness. It
must be that no one has called your attention to the unregarded misery
under the shadow of your Palace. Should your Grace visit the forlorn
streets and sickly homes around you, and hear the despairing words of
the mothers when asked 'whether they would not be grateful could their
children have a daily run in the great Archbishop's meadows?' there
would not be wanting a plea from the gentle heart of the Lady of the
Palace on behalf of these hapless children of these poor mothers.

"Disregard not our appeal, we pray, because ours are unlicensed voices.
Humanity is of every creed, and it will not detract from the glory of
the Church that gratitude and praise should proceed from unaccustomed
tongues.

"Signed on behalf of the Assembly, with deference and respect.

"George Jacob Holyoake.

"Newcastle Chambers, Temple Bar,

"November 21, 1878."


Within two days I had the pleasure to receive a reply from the
Archbishop.

"Philpstoun House,

"November 23, 1878.

"Sir,--You may feel confident that the subject of the memorial which
you have forwarded to me with your letter of the 21st will receive my
attentive consideration. The condition of the inhabitants of the poor
streets in Lambeth has often given me anxiety. My daughters and Mrs.
Tait are well acquainted with many of the houses which you describe,
and, so far as my other duties have allowed, I have taken opportunities
of visiting some of the inmates of such houses personally. I should
esteem it a great privilege if I were able to assist in maturing any
scheme for improving the dwellings of the poor families to which your
memorial alludes. Respecting the use of the open ground which surrounds
Lambeth Palace, I have, in common with my predecessors, had the subject
often under consideration. The plan which has been adopted and which has
appeared on the whole the best for the interests of the neighbourhood,
has been that now pursued for many years. The ground is freely given for
cricket and football to as many schools and clubs as it is capable of
containing, and, on application, liberty of entrance is accorded to
children and others. Many school treats are also held in the grounds,
and they are from time to time used for volunteer corps to exercise in.
We have always been afraid that a more public opening of the grounds
would interfere with the useful purposes to which they are at present
turned for the benefit of the neighbourhood, and that, considering the
somewhat limited extent of the space, no advantage could be secured by
throwing it entirely open, which would at all compensate for the loss
of the advantages at present enjoyed. I shall give the matter serious
consideration, consulting with those best qualified from local
experience to judge what is best for the neighbourhood, but my present
impression is that more good is, on the whole, done by the arrangements
now adopted, than by any other which I could devise.

"I have the honour to be, Sir,

"Your obedient humble servant,

"A. C. Cantuar.

"To Mr. George Jacob Holyoake."


This correspondence I sent to the _Daily News_, always open to questions
of interest to the people, and it received notice in various papers.
The _Liverpool Daily Mail_ gave an effective summary of the memorial,
saying:--

"Of all strange people in the world, Mr. G. J. Holyoake and the
Archbishop of Canterbury have been in correspondence--and not in
unfriendly correspondence either. Mr. Holyoake, on behalf of himself and
some friends like-minded, ventured to draw the Archbishop's attention to
the fact that just opposite Lambeth Palace was a nest of very poor and
squalid dwellings, in which many families were crowded together, without
any regard for either decency or sanitary law. The only chance of
looking upon anything green that the children of these poor people could
have would be in the grounds that surround the Primate's dwelling, and
these were absolutely shut off from their view by a high dead wall. In
some cases a former Archbishop had actually ordered the windows of these
miserable houses to be blocked up, and opened in another direction, in
order, we suppose, that the Archiepiscopal eyes might not be offended
by the sight of such unpleasant neighbours." The writer ended by
expressing the hope that if the Archbishop could not open the grounds he
might substitute "pervious palisades" for the stone walls impervious to
the curious and wistful eyes of children. For reasons which will appear,
the subject slumbered for four years, when I addressed the following
letter to the editors of the _Telegraph_ and the _Times_, which appeared
December 20, 1882:--

"Sir,--On returning to England I read an announcement that the Lambeth
Vestry had resolved to send a memorial to the Queen praying that the
nine acres of field, now devoted to sheep, adjoining the Archbishop of
Canterbury's Palace garden, may be appropriated to public recreation in
that crowded and verdureless parish. Four years ago I sent a memorial
upon this subject to the late Archbishop. It set forth that the parish
was so densely populated that it would be an act of mercy to throw open
the sheep fields to the poor children of the neighbourhood. It expressed
the hope that Mrs. Tait, whose compassionate nature was known to the
people, would plead for these little ones, who lived and died at her
very door, as it were, seeing no green thing during all their wretched
days. I visited poor women in the street next to the fields who brought
fever-stricken children to the door wrapped in shawls. Their mothers
told me how glad they should be were the gates open, that the little
ones, whose only recreation ground was the gutter, could enter at will.
The memorial--if I remember accurately, for I cannot refer to it as I
write--stated that the houses which, as built, overlooked the fields,
had had the windows bricked in by order of a former Archbishop, because
they overlooked the garden. I was taken to the rooms and found that the
view was closed up. The trees of the garden have well grown now, and a
telescope could not reveal walkers therein. The late Archbishop sent me
a kindly reply, but it did not answer my question, which was that, if
his Grace could not consent to open the gates to his humble friends, we
prayed that he, whose Master (in words of tenderness which had moved
the hearts of men during nineteen centuries) had said, 'Suffer little
children to come unto Me,' would at least substitute palisades for the
dead walls which hid the green fields so that no little eyes could see
the daisies in the spring. His Grace's reply was in substance the same
as Dr. Randall Davidson's, which appeared in the _Times_ on Monday, who
tells the public that rifle corps and cricketers are admitted to the
fields and that 'arrangements are made for "treats" for infant and other
schools' (whether of all denominations is not stated). How can poor
mothers and sickly children get within these 'arrangements'? Cricketers
are not helpless, rifle corps do not die for want of drill-grounds, as
children in fever-dens do for want of the refreshment of verdure and
pure air. To open the gates is the only generous and fitting thing to
do, as the lawyers have who admit the outcasts of Drury and the adjacent
lanes to the flowers of the Temple Gardens. Dr. Davidson says that the
advice of those 'best qualified from local experience to judge' is that
'no gain could be secured by throwing the fields entirely open.' Let the
opinion be asked of workmen in the Lambeth factories and that of their
wives. These are the 'best qualified local judges,' whose verdict would
be instructive. Mrs. Tait's illness and death followed soon after the
memorial in question was sent in, and I thought it not the time to press
his Grace further when stricken with that calamity. All honour to the
Lambeth Vestry, which proposes to pray Her Majesty to cause, if in her
power, these vacant fields to be consigned to the Board of Works, who
will give some gleam of a green paradise to the poor little ones of
Lambeth. The vestry does well to appeal to the Queen, from whose kindly
heart a thousand acts of sympathy have emanated. She has opened many
portals, but none through which happier or more grateful groups will
pass than through the garden gates of Lambeth Palace."

Immediately a letter appeared in the _Times_ from the Rev. T. B.
Robertson, expressed as follows:--

"Sir,--Mr. Holyoake may be glad to hear that 'Lambeth Green' is open to
schools of all denominations to hold their festivals in. I should think
that no school was ever refused the use unless the field was previously
engaged. The present method of utilising the field--viz., opening it to
a large but limited number of persons (by ticket) seems about the best
that could be devised. Mr. Holyoake asks how poor mothers and sickly
children are to gain entrance. It is well known in the neighbourhood
that tickets of admission are issued annually. The days for distribution
are advertised on the gates some time previous, when those desirous of
using the grounds can attend, and the tickets are issued till exhausted.
No sick person has any difficulty in getting admission. I do not know
the number of tickets issued, but I have seen when cricket clubs were
unable to find a place to pitch their stumps. If the grounds are open
to the public without limitation, it seems that the only way it could be
done would be by laying it out in gardens and gravelled walks, with the
usual park seats; but there is hardly occasion for such a place since
the formation of the Thames Embankment, _a long strip of which runs
immediately in front of the Palace well provided with seats_. It is
evident that if the grounds were open to the public in general, the
space being small--about seven acres--the cricketers and other clubs
would have to give up their sports, and Lambeth schools and societies
would be deprived of their only meeting-place for summer gatherings.

"Yours obediently,

"T. B. Robertson,

"Curate of St. Mary, Lambeth.

"December 22."


The comment of the _Times_ upon this letter made it necessary to address
a further communication to the editor. This comment occurred in a
leader which, referring to a letter of the Lambeth Curate, says: "Mr.
Holyoake, in a letter which we published on Wednesday, asked with some
vehemence, what was the value of permission accorded to cricketers and
schools, to the poor children of Lambeth; but Mr. Robertson, the Curate
of St. Mary's, Lambeth, answers this morning, that no poor or sick
person has any difficulty in obtaining admission for purposes of
recreation and health, and shows that 'Lambeth Green,' as it is called,
is in fact available to a large class of the neighbouring inhabitants.
There is certainly force in Mr. Robertson's argument, that an unlimited
use would defeat its own object, which is presumably to preserve the
grounds as a playground. The large surrounding population would soon
destroy the sylvan and park-like character of the place, and necessitate
its laying out in the style of an ornamental pleasure garden, with
formal walks, and turf only to be kept green by fencing."

This is the old defence of exclusive enjoyment of parks and pleasure
grounds, as the people, if admitted to them, would destroy them--which
they do not. Why should they destroy what they value?

My reply to the _Times_ appeared December 28, 1882:--

"Sir,--It is the weight that you attach to the letter of the Curate of
St Mary, Lambeth, which appeared in the _Times_ of Saturday, which makes
it important. When I have viewed the Lambeth Palace from the railway
which overlooks it and seen how completely the sheep fields are separate
and apart from the Archbishop's garden, it has seemed a pity that
the poor little children of Lambeth should not have the freedom and
privilege of those sheep. No humane person could look into the houses
of the crowded and cheerless streets which lie near the Palace walls
without wishing to take the children by the hand into the Palace fields
at once. Does the Rev. Mr. Robertson not understand the difference
between a ticket gate and an open gate? How are poor, busy women to
watch the gates to find out when the annual tickets of admission are
given? And what is the chance of those families who arrive after 'the
number issued is exhausted'? If all the persons who need admissions can
have them, the gates might as well be thrown open. Of course, the nine
acres would not hold all the parish; but all the parish would not go at
once. No statement has been made which shows that the grounds have
been occupied by tickets of admission more than forty days in the year,
whereas there are 365 days when little people might go in. To them
one hour in that green paradise would be more than a week jostled by
passengers on the Embankment watching a stone wall, for the little
people could not well overlook it. But if they could, can the Curate of
St. Mary really think this limited recreation a sufficient substitute
for quiet fields and flowers? The Board of Works, if the grounds come
into their hands, may be trusted to give school treats a chance as well
as local little children.

"No one who has seen the crowds of ragged, dreary, pale-faced boys
and girls rushing to the fields and flowers at Temple Gardens when the
lawyers graciously open the gates to them and watched them pour out at
evening through the Temple Gates into Fleet Street, leaping, laughing,
and refreshed, could help thinking that it would be a gladsome sight
to see such groups issue from the Lambeth Palace gates. I never thought
when sending the memorial to the Archbishop that the fields should be
divested from the see or sold away from it. I believed that the late
Archbishop would, as the new Archbishop may, by an act of grace accord
his little neighbours free admission, or at least exchange the dead
walls for palisades, so that children playing around may vary the stones
of the Embankment for a sight of sheep and grass through the bars. The
late Canon Kingsley asked me to visit him when he came into residence at
Westminster. My intention was to ask him and the late Dean, whom I
had the honour to know, to judge themselves whether the matter now in
question was not practicable, and then to speak to the Archbishop about
it. But death carried them both away one after the other before this
opportunity could occur. My belief remains unchanged that the late
Archbishop would have done what is now asked had time and the state of
his health permitted him to attend to the matter himself. It would have
been but an extension of the unselfish and kindly uses to which he had
long permitted the grounds to be put."

From several letters I received at the time, I quote one dated Christmas
Eve, 1882:--

"Honour and thanks to you, Mr. Holyoake, for your recent and former
letters respecting Lambeth Palace field. Very much more good could
be got out of it than as a place for cricketing on half-holidays and
occasional school-treats, and for desolation at other times except as
regards an approved few.

"There is no recreation ground in London that I look upon with so much
satisfaction as a triangular inclosure of plain grass by Kennington
Church, enjoyed commonly by the dirtiest and poorest children."

But a letter of a very different character appeared in the Standard,
December 20, 1882, entitled, "The Lambeth Palace Garden ":--

"Sir,--No right-minded person can fail to be deeply impressed by Mr.
Holyoake's touching letter in your impression of to-day. Its sentiments
are so very beautiful and its principles so exactly popular, and in such
perfect accordance with the blessed Liberal maxim--'What is yours is
mine and what is mine is my own,' that I myself am overcome with delight
at their enunciation. The pleasure of being perfectly free and easy with
other people's property, evidently becoming so sincere and abounding,
and the simple manner in which such liberality can be now readily
practised without any personal self-denial or inconvenience, makes the
principle in action perfectly commendable, and one to be duly applied
and most carefully expanded.

"With the latter view, I venture to point out that there is a very
excellent library of books at Lambeth Palace, which, comparatively
speaking, very few people take down or read. Do not, however, think
me selfishly covetous or hankering after my neighbour's property if
I venture to point out that there exist more than twenty clergymen in
Lambeth, to whom a share or division of these scarcely used volumes
would be a great boon. If the pictures, furniture, and cellars of wine
could, at the same time, be benevolently divided, I should have no
objection to receiving a share of the same under such philanthropic
're-arrangement'--I am, sir, your obedient servant,

"A Lambeth Parson.

"Lambeth, December 20."


My reply to this letter appeared in the _Standard_, December 22, 1882:--

"Sir,--This morning I received a letter from a clergyman, who gives his
name and address, and who knows Lambeth well, thanking me for the letter
which I had addressed to you, as he takes great interest in the welfare
of the little ones in the crowded homes around the Palace. Lest,
however, I should be elated by such an unexpected, though welcome,
concurrence of opinion, the same post brought me a letter to the
same purport of that signed 'A Lambeth Parson,' which appeared in the
_Standard_ yesterday. The letter which you printed assumes that the
sheep fields of the Palace are private property, and that I propose to
steal them in the name of humanity. Permit me to say that I have as much
detestation as the Lambeth Parson can have for that sympathy for the
people which has plunder for its motive.

"The memorial I sent to his Grace the late Archbishop asked him to give
his permission for little ones to enter his grounds. We never proposed
to take permission, nor assumed any right to pass the gates. There never
was a doubt in my mind, that had his Grace opportunity of looking into
the matter for himself, he would have granted the request, for his
kindness of heart we all knew. That he gave the use of the fields to
what he thought equally useful purposes showed how unselfishly he used
the grounds. If the question is raised as to private property, I would
do what I could to promote the purchase of it (if it can rightly be
sold) by a penny subscription from the parents of the poor children
and others who would chiefly benefit by it. It would be an evil day
if working people could consent that their little ones should have
enjoyment at the price of theft.--I am, sir, your obedient servant,

"George Jacob Holyoake.

"22, Essex Street, W.C., December 21."


Meanwhile an important public body had taken up the question. "The
Metropolitan Public Garden, Boulevard, and Playground Association" had,
through its officers, Lord Brabazon, Mr. Ernest Hart, Mr. J. Tennant,
and the Rev. Sidney Vatcher, addressed the following letter to the Prime
Minister:--

"Sir,--The undersigned 'members of the Metropolitan Public Garden,
Boulevard, and Playground Association' desire to draw your attention to
an article enclosed which recently appeared in a London daily paper, and
to request that you will bring the needs of Lambeth district, as regards
open spaces, to the notice of the future Primate, in the hope that
his Grace may take into consideration the suggestions contained in the
article, and with the co-operation of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners
and the Metropolitan Board of Works, take such steps as may seem to him
most advisable for the purpose of securing in perpetuity to the poor and
crowded population of Lambeth the use and enjoyment of the open space
around Lambeth Palace.--We have the honour to be, sir, your most
obedient and humble servants,

"Brabazon, Chairman."

Mr. Gladstone willingly gave attention to the subject, and sent the
following reply:--

"10, Downing Street, Whitehall,

"_December_ 21, 1882.

"My Lord,--I am directed by Mr. Gladstone to acknowledge the receipt
of the letter which was signed by your lordship and other members of the
Metropolitan Public Garden, etc., Association in favour of securing for
the use of the population of the neighbourhood the grounds at present
attached to Lambeth Palace. I have to inform your lordship that Mr.
Gladstone has already been in communication with the vestry of Lambeth
on this subject, and as it appears to be one of metropolitan improvement
it is not a matter in which Mr. Gladstone can take the initiative.
He will, however, make known your views to the prelate designated to
succeed to the Archbishopric, and should the Metropolitan Board of Works
intervene Mr. Gladstone will be happy to consider the matter further.--I
am, my Lord, your obedient servant,

"Horace Seymour.

"The Lord Brabazon."


Next Colonel Sir J. M'Garel Hogg, M.P., Chairman of the Metropolitan
Board of Works, had the matter before him. It was stated that the use of
the nine acres of ground (of which a plan was presented) depended upon
the permission of the Archbishop. The Lambeth Vestry had sent a memorial
to the Queen and the Government saying that the pasture and recreation
acres might be severed from the Archbishop's residence.

The following is the reply received from Mr. Gladstone:--

"10, Downing Street, Whitehall,

December 1882,

"Sir,--Mr. Gladstone has had the honour to receive the communication
which you have made to him on behalf of the vestry of the parish of
Lambeth on the subject of acquiring the grounds of Lambeth Palace as a
place of public recreation. In reply I am directed to say that as far as
he is able to understand this important matter it seems to be a case of
metropolitan improvement, and if, as he supposes, that is the case, the
proper course for the vestry to take would be to bring the case before
the Metropolitan Board of Works for their consideration. In this view
Mr. Gladstone is not aware that Her Majesty's Government could undertake
to interfere, but he will make known this correspondence to the person
who may be designated to succeed the Archbishop of Canterbury, and
he will further consider the matter should the Metropolitan Board
intervene. Mr. Gladstone would have been glad if the vestry had supplied
him with the particulars of the case, in regard to which he has only a
very general knowledge.--I am, sir, your obedient servant,

"E. W. Hamilton.

"The Vestry Clerk of Lambeth."


Mr. Hill gave notice of the following motion:--

"That an instruction be given to the Prime Minister that if the proper
authorities are willing to hand over the Lambeth Palace grounds for the
free use of the public, this Board will accept the charge and preserve
the grounds as a portion of the open spaces."

Then came a hopeless and defensive letter, before referred to, addressed
both to the _Standard, Telegraph_, and the _Times_:--

"Sir,--Some of the statements (including a correspondence with the
Prime Minister) which have, during the last few days, appeared in the
newspapers with reference to Lambeth Palace grounds, would, I think,
lead those who are unacquainted with the circumstances to suppose that
these grounds have been hitherto altogether closed to the public, and
reserved for the sole use of the Archbishop and his household. Will
you, therefore, to prevent misapprehension, kindly allow me to state the
facts of the case?

"For many years past the Archbishop of Canterbury endeavoured, in what
seemed to him the best way, to make the grounds in question available,
under certain restrictions, to the general public. During the summer
months twenty-eight cricket clubs, some from the Lambeth parishes
and some from other parts of London, have received permission to play
cricket in the field, and similar arrangements have been made for
football in the winter, though necessarily upon a smaller scale. The
whole available ground has been carefully allotted for the different
hours of each day. On certain fixed occasions the field is used for
rifle corps' drill and exercises, and throughout the summer,
arrangements are constantly made for 'treats' for infant and other
schools unable to go out of London. Tickets giving admission to the
field at all hours have been issued for some years past, in very large
numbers, to the sick, aged, and poor of the surrounding streets; and the
whole grounds, including the private garden, have been opened without
restriction to the nurses and others of St. Thomas's Hospital.

"His Grace frequently consulted those best qualified from local
experience to judge what is for the advantage of the neighbourhood, and
invariably found their opinion to coincide with his own--namely, that
a more public opening of the ground would interfere with the useful
purposes to which it is at present turned for the benefit of the
neighbourhood, and that, considering the limited space, no gain could be
secured by throwing it entirely open which would at all compensate for
the inevitable loss of the advantages at present enjoyed.--I am, sir,
your obedient servant,

"Randall T. Davidson.

"Lambeth Palace, December 16."


On January 6, 1883, I wrote to the _Daily News_, saying:--

"Sir,--Your columns have recorded the steps taken by the Lambeth Vestry
and by Lord Brabazon (on the part of the Open Space Society, for which
he acts) with respect to the use of the pasture acres connected with the
Palace grounds of Lambeth. I have been asked by a clergyman, for whose
judgment I have great respect, to write some letter which shall make it
plain to the public that it is not the gardens of the Palace for the use
of which any one has asked, but for the nine acres of fields outside
the gardens, as a small recreation ground which shall be open to the
children of Lambeth, who are numerous there, and much in need of some
pleasant change of that scarce and pleasant kind. No one has dined at
the Lambeth Palace, or been otherwise a visitor there, without valuing
the gardens which surround it and which are necessary to an episcopal
residence in London. No one wishes to interfere with or curtail the
garden grounds. I thought the public understood this. I shall therefore
be obliged if you can insert this explanation in your columns. Much
better than anything I could say upon the subject are the words which
occur in the _Family Churchman_ of December 27th, which gives the
portraits of the new Archbishop, Dr. Benson, and the late Bishop of
Llandaff. The editor says that 'every one knows the Archbishops of
Canterbury have a splendid country seat at Addington, within easy
driving distance of London. Within the same distance there are few parks
so beautiful as Addington Palace, whilst, unlike some parks in other
parts of the country, it is jealously closed against the public. The
Palace park is remarkable for its romantic dells, filled with noble
trees and an undergrowth of rhododendrons. There are, moreover, within
the park, heights which command fine views of the surrounding country.
It is thought, perhaps not unjustly, that the new Archbishop might well
be content with this country place, and, whilst retaining the gardens
at Lambeth Palace, might with graceful content see conceded to the poor,
whose houses throng the neighbourhood, the nine acres of pasture land.'
This is very distinct and even generous testimony on the part of the
_Family Churchman_ to the seemliness and legitimacy of the plea put
forward on the part of the little people of Lambeth.--Very faithfully
yours,

"George Jacob Holyoake.

"22, Essex Street W.C."


News of the Palace grounds agitation reached as far as Mentone, and
Mr. R. French Blake, who was residing at the Hotel Splendide, sent
an interesting letter to the _Times_--historical, defensive, and
suggestive. He wrote on January 3, 1883, saying:--

"Sir,--Attention having recently been drawn to the Lambeth Palace
grounds and the use which the late Primate made of them for the
recreation of the masses, it may be interesting, especially at this
juncture, to place on record what were his views with regard to those
historic parts of the buildings of the Palace itself which are not
actually used as the residence of the Archbishops. These chiefly consist
of what is known as the Lollards' Tower, and the noble Gate Tower,
called after its founder, Archbishop Moreton. The former of these has
recently been put into repair, and rooms in it were granted to the late
Bishop of Lichfield and his brother, by virtue of their connection with
the Palace library."

Mr. Blake then adverts to the affair of the grounds. He says:--

"Nor can I suppose that any well-informed member of the vestry could
imagine that it is in the lawful power of a Prime Minister, or even of
Parliament, to alienate, without consent, any portion of the Church's
inheritance. It may be a somewhat high standard of right, which is
referred to in the sacred writings, to 'pay for the things which we
never took,' but in no standard of right whatsoever can the motto
find place to 'take the things for which we never pay.' Although the
Archbishop may have deemed that he turned to the very best account the
ground in question, for the purposes of enjoyment and health to the
surrounding population, he was far too wise and too charitable to
disregard, so far as he deemed he had the power, any petition or request
which might, if granted, add to the pleasure and happiness of others,
and if it had been made clear to him as his duty, and an offer to
that effect had been made to him by the Metropolitan Board of Works or
others, I am satisfied he would have consented, not to the alienation of
Church property, but to the sale of the field for a people's park, and
the application of the value of the ground to mission purposes for South
London, and such a scheme I happen to know was at one time discussed by
some of those most intimately connected with him."

Afterwards, January 13, 1883, the _Pall Mall Gazette_ remarked that "it
is not a happy omen that the consent of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners
is required before the well-fed donkey who disports himself in the
Palace grounds can be joined by the ill-fed, ragged urchins who now have
no playground but the streets." The _Daily News_ rendered further aid in
a leader. Then a report was made that the condition of the streets,
"to which, in his correspondence with the Archbishop of Canterbury,
Mr. Holyoake had called attention, had been illustrated by the fall of
several miserable tenements, in which a woman and several children were
fatally buried in the ruins." The writer says there is "no hope that the
unkindly exclusiveness of 'Cantuar' will be broken down."

So the matter rested for nearly twenty years before the happy news
came that the London County Council had come into possession of the
ecclesiastical fields, and converted them into a holy park, where
pale-faced mothers and sickly children may stroll or disport themselves
at will evermore. All honour to the later agents of this merciful
change. There is an open gleam of Nature now in the doleful district.
Sir Hudibras exclaims:

     "What perils do environ
     Him who meddles with cold iron."

Not less so if the meddlement be with ecclesiastical iron and the
contest lasts a longer time.



CHAPTER XXXIII. SOCIAL WONDERS ACROSS THE WATER

Being several times in France, twice in America and Canada, thrice in
Italy and as many times in Holland, under circumstances which brought
me into relation with representative people, enabled me to become
acquainted with the ways of persons of other countries than my own.
There I met great orators, poets, statesmen, philosophers, and
great preachers of whom I had read--but whom to know was a greater
inspiration. Thus I learned the art of not being surprised, and
of regarding strangeness as a curiosity, not an offence awakening
resentment as something unpardonable, or at least, an impropriety the
traveller is bound to reprehend, as Mrs. Trollope and her successors
have done on American peculiarities. On the Continent I found incidents
to wonder at, but I confine myself in this chapter to America and
Canada, countries we are accustomed to designate as "Across the Water,"
as the United States and the Dominion which have imperishable interest
to all of the British race.

Notwithstanding the thousands of persons who now make sea journeys for
the first time, I found, when it came to my turn, there was no book--nor
is there now--on the art of being a sea passenger. I could find no
teaching Handbook of the Ocean--what to expect under entirely new
conditions, and what to do when they come, so as to extract out of a
voyage the pleasure in it and increase the discomforts which occur in
wave-life. One of the pleasures is--there is no dust at sea.

On my visit to America in 1879, I, at the request of Mr. Hodgson Pratt,
undertook to inquire what were the prospects of emigrants to that
country and Canada, which cost me labour and expense. What I found
wanting, and did not exist, and which does not exist still, was an
emigrant guide book informing him of the conditions of industry in
different States, the rules of health necessary to be observed in
different climates, and the vicissitudes to which health is liable. The
book wanted is one on an epitome plan of the People's Blue Books, issued
by Lord Clarendon on my suggestion, as he stated in them.

When I was at Washington, Mr. Evarts, the Secretary of State, gave me a
book, published by local authorities at Washington, with maps of every
department of the city, marking the portion where special diseases
prevailed. London has no such book yet. Similar information concerning
every State and territory in America existed in official reports. But
I found that neither the Government of Washington nor Ottawa would take
the responsibility of giving emigrants this information in a public and
portable form, as land agents would be in revolt at the preferential
choice emigrants would then have before them. It was continually denied
that such information existed. Senators in their turn said so. Possibly
they did not know, but Mr. Henry Villard, a son-in-law of Lloyd
Garrison, told me that when he was secretary of the Social Science
Association he began the kind of book I sought, and that its' issue was
discouraged.

On my second visit to America in 1882, I had introductions to the
President of the United States and to Lord Lome, the Governor of Canada,
from his father, the Duke of Argyll, with a view of obtaining the
publication of a protecting guide book such as I have described, under
its authority. When I first mentioned this in New York (1879) the editor
of the _Star_ (an Irishman) wrote friendly and applauding leaders upon
my project. On my second visit, in 1882, this friendly editor (having
seen in the papers that Mr. Gladstone approved of my quest) wrote
furious leaders against it. On asking him the reason of the change of
view, he said, "Mr. Holyoake, were Mr. Gladstone and his Cabinet in this
room, and I could open a trap-door under their feet and let them all
fall into hell, I would do it," using words still more venomous. Then
I realised the fatuity of the anti-Irish policy which drives the ablest
Irishmen into exile and maintains a body of unappeasable enemies of
England wherever they go. Then I saw what crazy statesmanship it was in
the English to deny self-government to the Irish people, and spend ten
millions a year to prevent them taking care of themselves.

The Irish learned to think better of Mr. Gladstone some years later.
One night when he was sitting alone in the House of Commons writing his
usual letter to the Queen, after debates were over, he was startled by
a ringing cheer that filled the chamber, when looking up he found the
Irish members, who had returned to express their gratitude to him.
Surely no nation ever proclaimed its obligation in so romantic a way.
The tenderest prayer put up in my time was that of W. D. Sullivan:--

     "_God be good to Gladdy_,
     Says Sandy, John and Paddy,
     For he is a noble laddy,
     A grand old chiel is he."

I take pride in the thought that I was the first person who lectured
upon "English Co-operation" in Montreal and Boston. It was with pride
I spoke in Stacey Hall in Boston, from the desk at which Lloyd Garrison
was once speaking, when he was seized by a slave-owning mob with intent
to hang him. As I spoke I could look into the stairway on my right, down
which he was dragged.

The interviewers, the terror of most "strangers," were welcome to
me. The engraving in Frank Leslie's paper reproduced in "Among the
Americans," representing the interview with me in the Hoffman House, was
probably the first picture of that process published in England (1881).
I advocated the cultivation of the art in Great Britain, which, though
prevalent in America, was still in a crude state there. The questions
put to me were poor, abrupt, containing no adequate suggestion of the
information sought The interviewer should have some conception of the
knowledge of the person questioned, and skill in reporting his answers.
Some whom I met put down the very opposite of what was said to them. The
only protection against such perverters, when they came again, was to
say the contrary to what I meant, when their rendering would be what I
wished it to be. Some interviewers put into your mouth what they desired
you to say. Against them there is no remedy save avoidance. On the
whole, I found interviewers a great advantage. I had certain ideas to
make known and information to ask for, and the skilful interviewer, in
his alluring way, sends everything all over the land. Wise questioning
is the fine art of daily life. "It is misunderstanding," says the
Dutch proverb, "which brings lies to town." Everybody knows that
misunderstandings create divisions in families and alienations in
friendships--in parties as well as in persons--which timely inquiries
would dissipate. Intelligent questioning elicits hidden facts--it
increases knowledge without ostentation--it clears away obscurity,
and renders information definite--it supersedes assumptions--it tests
suspicions and throws light upon conjecture--it undermines error,
without incensing those who hold it--it leads misconception to confute
itself without the affront of direct refutation--it warns inquirers not
to give absolute assent to anything uncorroborated, or which cannot
be interrogated. Relevant questioning is the handmaid of accuracy, and
makes straight the pathway of Truth.

The privations of Protection, which a quick and independent-minded
people endured, was one of the wonders I saw. In Montreal, for a writing
pad to use on my voyage home, I had to pay seven shillings and sixpence,
which I could have bought in London for eighteen-pence. I took to
America a noble, full-length portrait of John Bright, just as he stood
when addressing the House of Commons, more than half life-size--the
greatest of Mayall's triumphs. Though it was not for sale, but a present
to my friend, James Charlton, of Chicago, the well-known railway agent,
the Custom House demanded a payment of 30 dols. (£6) import duty. It was
only after much negotiations in high quarters, and in consideration
that it was a portrait of Mr. Bright, brought as a gift to an American
citizen, that the import duty was reduced to 6 dollars.

The disadvantage of Protection is that no one can make a gift to
America or to its citizens without being heavily taxed to discourage
international generosity.

The Mayor of Brighton, Mr. Alderman Hallet, had entrusted to me some 200
volumes, of considerable value, on City Sanitation, greatly needed in
America. They lay in the Custom House three months, before I discovered
that the Smithsonian Institute could claim them under its charter.
Otherwise I must have paid a return freight to Brighton, as America is
protected from accepting offerings of civil or sanitary service. There
often come to us, from that country, emissaries of Evangelism, to
improve us in piety, but at home they levy 25 per cent, upon the
importation of the Holy Scriptures--thus taxing the very means of
Salvation.

For a time I sent presents of books to working-class friends in America
whom I wished to serve or to interest, who wrote to me to say that "they
were unable to redeem them from the post-office, the import tax being
more than they could pay," and they reminded me that "having been in
America, I ought to know that working people could not afford to
have imported presents made to them." Indeed, I had often noticed how
destitute their homes were in matters of table service and all bright
decoration, plentiful even in the houses of our miners and mechanics
in England. American workmen would tell me that a present of cutlery or
porcelain, if I could bring that about, would interest them greatly.

On leaving New York a friend of mine, a Custom House officer, told me he
needed a coast coat, suitable to the service he was engaged in, and that
he would be much obliged if I would have one made for him in England.
He would leave it to me to contrive how it could reach him. The coat he
wanted, he said, would cost him £9 in New York. I had it made in London,
entirely to his satisfaction, for £4 15s., but how to get it to him free
of Custom duties was a problem. I had to wait until a friend of mine--a
property owner in Montreal--was returning there. He went out in the
vessel in which Princess Louise sailed. He wore it occasionally on deck
to qualify it being regarded as a personal garment. So it arrived duty
free at Montreal. After looking about for two or three months for a
friend who would wear it across the frontier, it arrived, after six
months' travelling diplomacy, at the house of my friend in New York.

I did not find in America or Canada anything more wonderful, beggarly
and humiliating than the policy of Protection. But we are not without
counterparts in folly of another kind.

Visitors to England no doubt wonder to find us, a commercial nation,
fining the merchant of enterprise a shilling (the workman was so
fined until late years) for every pound he expends on journeys of
business--keeping a travelling tax to discourage trade. But John Bull
does not profess to be over-bright, while Uncle Sam thinks himself the
smartest man in creation. We retain in 1904 a tax Peel condemned in
1844. But then we live under a monarchy, from which Uncle Sam is free.

France used to be the one land which was hospitable to new ideas, and
for that it is still pre-eminent in Europe. But America excels Europe
now in this respect. Canada has not emerged from its Colonialism, and
has no national aspiration. Voltaire found when he was in London,
that England had fifty religions and only one sauce. America has no
distinction in sauces, but it has more than 200 religions, and having
no State Church there is no poison of Social Ascendency in piety, but
equality in worship and prophesying. I found that a man might be of any
religion he pleased--though as a matter of civility he was expected
to be of some--and if he said he was of none, he was thought to be
phenomenally fastidious, if not one of theirs would suit him, since
America provided a greater variety for the visitor to choose from than
any other country in the world.

Though naturally disappointed at being unable to suit the stranger's
taste, they were not intolerant. He was at liberty to import or invent a
religion of his own. Let not the reader imagine that because people are
free to believe as they please, there is no religion in America.

Nearing Santa Fe in New Mexico, I passed by the adobe temple of
Montezuma. Adobe is pronounced in three syllables--a-do-be--and is the
Mexican name for a mud-built house, which is usually one story high; so
that Santa Fe has been compared to a town blown down. When the Emperor
Montezuma perished he told his followers to keep the fire burning in the
Temple, as he would come again from the east, and they should see "his
face bright and fair." In warfare and pestilence and decimation of their
race, these faithful worshippers kept the fire burning night and day for
three centuries, and it has not long been extinguished. Europe can show
no faith so patient, enduring, and pathetic as this.

The pleasantest hours of exploration I spent in Santa Fe were in the
old church of San Miguel. Though the oldest church in America, there are
those who would remove rather than restore it. A book lay upon an altar
in which all who would subscribe to save it had inserted their names,
and I added mine for five shillings.

When an Englishman goes abroad, he takes with him a greater load of
prejudices than any man of any other nation could bear, and, as a rule,
he expresses pretty freely his opinion of things which do not conform
to his notions, as though the inhabitants ought to have consulted his
preferences, forgetting that in his own country he seldom shows that
consideration to others. On fit occasion I did not withhold my opinion
of things which seemed to me capable of improvement; but before giving
my impressions I thought over what equivalent absurdity existed in
England, and by comparing British instances with those before me, no one
took offence--some were instructed or amused at finding that hardly any
nation enjoyed a monopoly of stupidity. There is all the difference in
the world between saying to an international host, "How badly you do
things in your country," and saying, "We are as unsuccessful as you in
'striking twelve all at once.'"

We all know the maxim: "'Before finding fault with another, think of
your own." But Charles Dickens, with all his brightness, forgot this
when he wrote of America. Few nations have as yet attained perfection in
all things--not even England.

When in Boston, America, 1879, I went to the best Bible store I could
find or be directed to, to purchase a copy of the apocryphal books of
the Old Testament. In a church where I had to make a discourse, I wanted
to read the dialogue between the prophet Esdras and the angel Uriel.
The only copy I could obtain was on poor, thin paper; of small, almost
invisible print, and meanly bound. The price was 4s. 2d. "How is it," I
inquired, "that you ask so much in the Hub of the Universe for even
this indifferent portion of Scripture--seeing that at the house of the
Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, in Northumberland
Avenue, London, a house ten times handsomer than yours, in a much more
costly situation--I can buy the same book on good, strong paper, in
large type, in a bright, substantial cover for exactly 3s. less than you
ask me." "You see, sir," said the manager of the store, "we have duty
to pay." "Duty!" I exclaimed. "Do you mean me to understand that in this
land of Puritan Christians, you tax the means of salvation?" He did not
like to admit that, and could not deny it, so after a confused moment he
answered: "All books imported have to pay twenty-five per cent, duty."
All I could say was that "it seemed to me that their protective duties
protected sin; and, being interested in the welfare of emigrants, I must
make a note counselling all who wish to be converted, to get that done
before coming out; for if they arrive in America in an unconverted state
they could not afford to be converted here." Until then I was unaware
that Protection protected the Devil, and that he had a personal interest
in its enactment.

My article in the _Nineteenth Century_ entitled, "A Stranger in
America," written in the uncarping spirit as to defects and ungrudgingly
recognising the circumstances which frustrated or retarded other
excellences in their power, was acknowledged by the press of that
country, and was said by G. W. Smalley--the greatest American critic
in this country then--to be "one of those articles which create
international goodwill." Approval worth having could no further go. It
was surprising to me that mere two-sided travelling fairness should meet
with such assent, whereas I expected it would be regarded as tame and
uninteresting.



CHAPTER XXXIV. THE ESTABLISHED CHURCH AT SEA

The voyage out to America described in the last chapter included an
instance of the extraordinary behaviour of the Established Church at
sea, which deserves special mention as it is still repeated.

There is an offensive rule on board ships that the service on Sunday
shall be that of the Church of England, and that the preacher selected
shall be of that persuasion.

Several of the twelve ministers of religion among the passengers of the
_Bothnia_ in 1879 were distinguished preachers, whereas the clergyman
selected to preach to us was not at all distinguished, and made a sermon
which I, as an Englishman, was ashamed to hear delivered before an
audience of intelligent Americans. The preacher told a woful story of
loss of trade and distress in England, which gave the audience the idea
that John Bull was "up a tree." Were he up ever so high I would not have
told it to an alien audience.

The preacher said that these losses were owing to our sins--that is the
sins of Englishmen. The devotion of the American hearers was varied
with a smile at this announcement. It was their surpassing ingenuity and
rivalry in trade which had affected our exports for a time. Our chief
"sins" were uninventiveness and commercial incapacity, and the greater
wit and ingenuity of the audience were the actual punishment the
preacher was pleading against, and praying them to be contrite on
account of their own success. The minister described bad trade as a
punishment from God, as though God had made the rascally merchants who
took out shoddy calico and ruined the markets. It was not God that had
driven the best French and German artists and workmen into America,
where they have enriched its manufacturers with their skill and
industry, and enabled that country to compete with ours.

The preacher's text was as wide of any mark as his sermon. It asked the
question, "How can we sing in a strange land?" When we should arrive
there, there would hardly be a dozen of us in the vessel who would be
in a strange land; the great majority were going home--mostly commercial
reapers of an English harvest who were returning home rejoicing--bearing
their golden sheaves with them. Neither the sea nor the land were
strange to them. Many of them were as familiar with the Atlantic as
with the prairie. I sat at table by a Toronto dealer who had crossed
the ocean twenty-nine times. The congregation at sea formed a very poor
opinion of the discernment of the Established Church.

On the return voyage in the _Gallia_ we had another "burning" but not
"a shining light" of the Church of England to discourse. He was a young
man, and it required some assurance on his part to look into the eyes
of the intelligent Christians around him, who had three times his years,
experience, and knowledge, and lecture them upon matters of which he was
absolutely ignorant.

This clergyman enforced the old doctrine of severity in parental
discipline of the young, and on the wisdom of compelling children to
unquestioning obedience, and argued that submission to a higher will was
good for men during life. At least two-thirds of the congregation were
American, who regard parental severity as cruelty to the young, and
utterly uninstructive; and unquestioning obedience they hold to be
calamitous and demoralising education. They expect reasonable obedience,
and seek to obtain it by reason. Submission to a "higher will" as
applied to man, is submission to arbitrary authority against which the
whole polity of American life is a magnificent protest. The only higher
will they recognise in worldly affairs is the will of the people,
intelligently formed, impartially gathered, and constitutionally
recorded--facts of which the speaker had not the remotest idea.

Who can read this narrative of the ignorance and effrontery, nurtured
by the Established Church and obtruded on passengers at sea, without
a sense of patriotic humiliation that it is continued every Sunday in
every ship? It is thought dangerous to be wrecked and not to have taken
part in this pitiable exhibition.



CHAPTER XXXV. ADVENTURES IN THE STREETS

Were I persuaded, as many are, that each person is a subject of
Providential care, I might count myself as one of the well-favoured. I
should do so, did it not demand unseemly egotism to believe the Supreme
Master of all the worlds of the Universe gave a portion of His eternal
time to personally guide my unimportant footsteps, or snatch me from
harm, which might befall me on doing my duty, or when I inadvertently,
negligently, or ignorantly put myself in the way of disaster. Whatever
may be the explanation, I have oft been saved in jeopardy.

The first specific deliverance occurred when I was a young man, in the
Baskeville Mill, Birmingham. Working at a button lathe, the kerchief
round my neck was caught by the "chock," and I saw myself drawn swiftly
to it. To avert being strangled, I held back my neck with what force I
could. All would have been in vain had not a friendly Irishman, who was
grinding spectacle glasses in an adjoining room, come to my assistance,
by which I escaped decapitation without benefit of the clergy, or the
merciful swiftness of the guillotine.

In days when the cheap train ran very early in the morning, I set out
before daylight from Exeter, where I had been lecturing. At the station
at which the train stopped for an hour or two, as was the custom in days
before the repeal of the tax on third-class passengers, we were in
what Omar Khayyam called the "false dawn of morning." The train did
not properly draw up to the platform, and when I stepped out I had a
considerable fall, which sprained my ankle and went near breaking my
neck.

On my arrival in Boston, 1879, I was invited by a newspaper friend, whom
I had brought with me into the city, to join a party of pressmen who
were to assemble next morning at Parker House, to report upon the test
ascent of a new elevator. It happened that Mr. Wendell Phillips visited
me early at Adam's House, before I was up. He sat familiarly on the
bedrail, and proposed to drive me round the city and show me the
historic glories of Boston, which being proud to accept, I sent an
apology for my absence to the elevator party at Parker House. That
morning the elevator broke down, and out of five pressmen who went into
it only four were rescued--more or less in a state of pulp. One was
killed. But for Mr. Phillips's fortunate visit I should have been among
them.

In Kansas City, in the same year (1879), I was taken by my transatlantic
friend, Mr. James Charlton, to see a sugar bakery, concerning which I
was curious. The day was hot enough to singe the beard of Satan, and
I was glad to retreat into the bakery, which, however, I found still
hotter, and I left, intending to return at a cooler hour next morning.
At the time I was to arrive I heard that the whole building had fallen
in. Some were killed and many injured. This was the City of Kansas, of
which the mayor once said: "He wished the people would let some one die
a natural death, that a stranger might know how healthy the city was.
Accidents, duels, and shootings prevented cases of longevity occurring."

Another occasion when misadventure took place, when we--my daughter,
Mrs. Marsh, and I--were crossing the Tesuque Valley, below Santa Fe,
the party occupied three carriages; road, there was none, and the
horses knew it, and when they came to a difficulty--either a ravine
or hill--the driver would give the horses the rein, when they spread
themselves out with good sagacity, and descended or ascended with
success. One pair of horses broke the spring of their carriage, making
matters unpleasant to the occupants; another pair broke the shaft,
which, cutting them, made them mad, and they ran away. The carriage in
which I was remained sound, and I had the pleasure for once of watching
the misfortunes of my friends.

The river was low, the sand was soft, and the distance through the
Tesuque River was considerable, and we calculated that no horses were
mad enough to continue their efforts to run through it, and we were
rewarded by seeing them alter their minds in the midst of it, and
continue their journey in a sensible manner.

Returning from Guelph, which lies below Hamilton, in the Niagara corner
of Canada, where we had been to see the famous Agricultural College, we
were one night on the railway in what the Scotch call the "gloaming." My
daughter remarked that the scenery outside the carriage was more fixed
than she had before observed it, and upon inquiry it appeared that we
were fixed too--for the train had parted in the middle, and the movable
portion had gone peacefully on its way to Hamilton. We were left forming
an excellent obstruction to any other train which might come down the
line. Fortunately, the guard could see the last station we had left,
two miles from us, and see also the train following us arrive there. We
hoped that the stationmaster would have some knowledge of our being upon
the line, and stop the advancing train; but when we saw it leave the
station on its way to us we were all ordered to leave the carriages,
which was no easy thing, as the banks right and left of us were
steep, and the ditch at the base was deep. However, our friends, Mr.
Littlehales and Mr. Smith, being strong of arm and active on a hill,
very soon drew us up to a point where we could observe a collision with
more satisfaction than when in the carriages. Fortunately, the man who
bore the only lamp left us, and who was sent on to intercept the train,
succeeded in doing it. Ultimately we arrived at Hamilton only two hours
late. When we were all safely at home, one lady, who accompanied us,
fainted--which showed admirable judgment to postpone that necessary
operation until it was no longer an inconvenience. One lady fainted in
the midst of the trouble, which only increased it. The excitement made
fainting sooner or later justifiable, although an impediment, but I was
glad to observe my daughter did not think it necessary to faint at any
time.

As we were leaving the sleepy Falls of Montmorency in the carriage,
we looked out to see whether the Frenchman had got sight of us, fully
expecting he would take a chaise and come after us to collect some other
impost which we had evaded paying. The sun was in great force, and I was
reposing in its delicious rays, thinking how delightful it was to
ride into Quebec on such a day, when in an instant of time we were all
dispersed about the road. In a field hard by, where a great load of
lumber as high as a house was piled, a boy who was extracting a log set
the upper logs rolling. This frightened the horses. They were two black
steeds of high spirit, and therefore very mad when alarmed. Had they run
on in their uncontrollable state, they would, if they escaped vehicles
on the way, have arrived at a narrow bridge where unknown mischief must
have occurred. The driver, who was a strongly built Irishman, about
sixty, with good judgment and intrepidity, instantly threw the horses
on to the fence, which they broke, got into the ditch, and seriously cut
their knees. I leaped out into the ditch with a view to help my daughter
out of the carriage; but she, nimbler than I, intending to render me the
same service, arrived at the ditch, and assisted me out, merely asking
"whether four quietly disposed persons being distributed over the
Dominion at a minute's notice was a mode of travelling in Canada?"
Mrs. Hall, who was riding with us, also escaped unhurt Her husband
deliberately remained some time to see what the horses were going to do,
but finding them frantic, he also abandoned the carriage.

Later, in England, being Ashton way, I paid a visit to my friend the
Rev. Joseph Rayner Stephens, whose voice, in early Chartist times, was
the most eloquent in the two counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire.
He fought the "New Poor Law" and the "Long Timers" in the Ten Hours'
agitation. His views were changed in many respects, but that did not
alter my regard for his Chartist services--and there remained his varied
affluence of language, his fitly chosen terms, his humorous statement,
his exactness of expression and strong coherence, in which the sequence
of his reasoning never disappeared through the crevice of a sentence.
All this made his conversation always charming and instructive.

After lecturing in the Temperance Hall and the "evening was far spent,"
a cab was procured to take me to Mr. Stephens's at the "Hollins." A
friend, Mr. Scott, in perfect wanton courtesy, having no presentiment
in his mind, would accompany me. When we arrived at Stalybridge (where
there is a real bridge), the cabman, instead of driving over it, drove
against it. I thought, perhaps, this was the way with Ashton cabmen;
but my friend came to a different conclusion. He said the cabman had not
taken the "pledge" that afternoon. I was told Ashton cabmen needed to
take it often. The driver, resenting our remonstrance, drove wildly down
a narrow, ugly, deserted street, which he found at hand. It was all the
same to me, who did not know one street from the other. My friend, who
knew there was no outlet save into the river, called out violently to
cabby to stop. The only effect was that he drove more furiously.
Mr. Scott leaped out and seized the horse, and prevented my being
overthrown. Before us were the remains of an old building, with the
cellars all open, in one of which we should soon have descended. Cabby
would have killed his horse, and probably himself, which no doubt would
have been an advantage to Ashton.

As the place was deserted I should have been found next morning curled
up and inarticulate. We paid our dangerous driver his full fare to that
spot, and advised him to put himself in communication with a temperance
society. He abused us as "not being gentlemen" for stopping his cab in
that unhandsome way.

The next morning I went to the scene of the previous night's adventure.
Had Mr. Henley, the loud, coarse-tongued member for Oxfordshire at that
time, seen the place, he would have said we were making an "ugly rush"
for the river. Not that we should ever have reached the river, for we
should certainly have broken our necks in the brick vaults our driver
was whipping his horse into.

As I needed another cab on my arrival at Euston, I selected a
quiet-looking white horse, and a Good Templar-looking cabman, first
asking the superintendent what he thought of him. "O, he's all right,"
was the answer, and things went pleasantly until we arrived at a narrow,
winding street. I was thinking of my friend, Mr. Stephens, and of the
concert which at that hour he had daily in his bedroom, when I
was suddenly jerked off my seat and found the white horse on the
foot-pavement. I stepped out and adjured the cabman, "By the carpet-bag
of St Peter" (no more suitable adjuration presented itself on the
occasion), to tell me what he was at. I said,

"Are you from Ashton?" "Nothing the matter, sir. All right Jump in. Only
my horse shied at the costermonger's carrot-cart there. She's a capital
horse, only she's apt to shy." I answered, "Yes; and unless I change my
mode of travelling by cabs, I shall become shy myself."

Late one night, after the close of the Festive Co-operative Meeting
in Huddersfield, a cab was fetched for me from the fair--it being fair
time. The messenger knew it was a bad night for the whip, as he might
be "touched in the head" by the festivities, so he said to cabby: "Now,
though it is fair night, you must do the fair thing by this fare. He
does not mind spreading principles, but he objects to being spread
himself." Cabby came with alacrity. He thought he had to take some
"boozing cuss" about the fair, with an occasional pull up at the "Spread
Eagle." When he found me issuing from a temperance hotel, bound for
Fernbrook, he did not conceal his disappointment by tongue or whip, and
jerked his horse like a Bashi-Bazouk when a Montenegrin is after him.
I cared nothing, as I had made up my mind not to say another word about
cabs if they broke my neck. I knew we had a stout hill before us, which
would bring things quiet The next day the hotel people, who saw the
cabman's rage, said they thought there was mischief in store for me.
They knew nothing of Ashton ways, and their apprehensions were original.

After a pleasant sojourn in Brighton, where the November sun is bright,
and the fogs are thin, grey and graceful, softening the glare of the
white coast, tempering it to the sensitive sight, I returned to London
one cold, frosty day, when snow and ice made the streets slippery. I had
chosen a cabman whose solid, honest face was assuring, and being lumpy
and large himself I thought he would keep his "four-wheeler" steady by
his own weight. Being himself lame and rheumatic, he appeared one who
would prefer quiet driving for his own sake. We went on steadily until
we reached Pall Mall, when he turned sharply up Suffolk Street. Looking
out, I called to my friend on the box, saying, "This is not Essex
Street" "Beg your pardon, sir, I thought you said Suffolk Street," and
began to turn his horse round. In that street the ground rises, and the
carriage-way is convex and narrow, it required skill to turn the cab,
and the cabman was wanting therein. He said his rein had caught, and
when he thought he was pulling the horse round, the horse had taken a
different view of his intention, and imagined he was backing him, and,
giving me the benefit of the doubt, did back, and overturned the cab,
and me too. Not liking collisions of late, I had, on leaving Brighton,
wrapped myself in a railway cloak, that it might act as a sort of buffer
in case of bumping--yet not expecting I should require it so soon.

Seeing what the horse was at, and taking what survey I could of the
situation, I found I was being driven against the window of the house in
which Cobden died. I have my own taste as to the mode in which I should
like to be killed. To be run over by a butcher's cart, or smashed by a
coal train or brewer's van is not my choice; but being killed in Pall
Mall is more eligible, yet not satisfactory.

As I had long lived in Pall Mall, I knew the habits of the place.
There is a gradation of killing in the streets of London, well-known
to West-end cabmen. As they enter Trafalgar Square, they run over the
passenger without ceremony. At Waterloo Place, where gentlemen wander
about, they merely knock you down, but as they enter Club-land, which
begins at Pall Mall West, where Judges and Cabinet Ministers and members
of Parliament abound, they merely run at you; so I knew I was on the
spot where death is never inflicted. Therefore I took hold of the strap
on the opposite side of the cab to that on which I saw I should fall.
For better being able to look after my portmanteau, I had it with me,
and, fortunately had placed it on the side on which I fell. Placing
myself against it when the crash came, and the glass broke, I was saved
from my face being cut by it. My hat was crushed, and head bruised. It
was impossible to open the door, which was then above me, and had the
horse taken to kicking, as is the manner of these animals when in doubt,
it would have fared ill with me. Possibly the horse was a member of the
Peace Society, and showed no belligerent tendency; more likely he was
tired, and glad of the opportunity of resting himself. The street, which
seemed empty, was quickly filled, as though people sprang out of the
ground. Two Micawbers who were looking out for anything which "turned
up," or turned over, came and forced open the cab-door at the top, and
dragged me up, somewhat dazed, my hat off, my grey hair dishevelled,
my blue spectacles rather awry on my face--I was sensible of a
newly-contrived, music-hall appearance as my shoulders peered above the
cab. A spirit merchant near kindly invited me into his house, where some
cold brandy and water given to me seemed more agreeable and refreshing
than it ever did before or since. The cab had been pulled together
somehow. My rheumatic friend on the box had been picked up not much the
worse--possibly the fall had done his rheumatism good. I thought it a
pity the poor fellow should lose his fare as well as his windows, and so
continued my journey with him.

On one occasion, after an enchanted evening in the suburbs of
Kensington, a fog came on. The driver of the voiture drove into an
enclosure of stables, and went round and round. Noticing there was a
recurring recess, I kept the door open until we arrived at it again, and
leapt into it as we passed again. When the driver, who was bewildered,
came round a third time, I surprised him by shouts, and advised him to
let his horse take us out by the way he came in. There was no house, or
light, or person to be seen, and there was the prospect of a night in
the cold, tempered by contingent accident.

Having engaged to be surety for the son of a Hindoo judge, who was about
to enter as a student in the Inns of Court, a new adventure befel me. I
had accepted from his father the appointment of guardian of his son. My
ward was a young man of many virtues, save that of punctuality. As he
did not appear by appointment, I set out in search of him. Crossing
Trafalgar Square I found myself suddenly confronted by two horses'
heads. An omnibus had come down upon me. It flashed through my mind
that, as I had often said, I was in more danger of being killed in
the streets of London than in any foreign city or on the sea; and I
concluded the occasion had come. I knew no more until I found myself
lying on my back in the mud after rain, but, seeing an aperture
between the two wheels, I made an attempt to crawl through. A crowd of
spectators had gathered round and voices shouted to me to remain where I
was until the wheels were drawn from me. Lying down in the mud again was
new to me. There was nothing over me but the omnibus, and as I had never
seen the bottom of one before, I examined it.

It happened that a surgeon of the Humane Society was among the
spectators, who assisted in raising me up, and took me to the society's
rooms close by, where I was bathed and vaseline applied to my bruises.
My overcoat was torn and spoiled, but I was not much hurt. The hoof
of one horse had made black part of one arm. It appears I had fallen
between them, and had it not been for their intelligent discrimination I
might have been killed. I sent two bags of the fattest feeding cake
the Co-operative Agricultural Association could supply, as a present to
those two horses. I had no other means of showing my gratitude to them.
I was not so grateful to the Humane Society's surgeon, who sent me in
a bill for two guineas for attendance upon me, and threatened me with
legal proceedings if I did not pay it. As he accompanied me to the
National Liberal Club, whence I had set out, I sent him one guinea for
that courtesy, and heard no more of him, and did not want to.

One evening, after leaving a Co-operative Board Meeting in Leman Street,
Whitechapel, I incautiously stepped into the roadway to hail a cab, when
a lurry came round a corner behind me and knocked me into the mud, which
was very prevalent that day. Some bystanders picked me up, and one,
good-naturedly, lent me a handkerchief with which to clear my face and
head, both being blackened and bleeding. The policeman who took charge
of me asked me where I wanted to be taken. I answered that I was on my
way to Fleet Street to an assembly of the Institute of Journalists to
meet M. Zola, then on a visit to us. "I think, sir," said the reflective
policeman, "we had better take you to the London Hospital," and another
policeman accompanied me in a passing tram, which went by the hospital
door. After some dreary waiting in the accident ward it was found that
I had no rib or bone broken, but my nose and forehead were bound up with
grim-looking plasters, and when I arrived at the hotel, four miles
away, where I was residing, and entered the commercial room, I had the
appearance of a prize-fighter, who had had a bad time of it in the ring.
Knowing the second day of an accident was usually the worst, I took an
early train home while I could move. My ribs, though not broken, were
all painful, and I remember squealing for a fortnight on being taken out
of bed. After my last adventure the Accident Insurance Company (though I
had never troubled them but once) refused to accept any further premium
from me, which I had paid twenty or thirty years, and left me to deal
with further providential escapes from my own resources.

Thinking I was safe in Brighton near my own home, I was walking up the
Marine Parade, one quiet Sunday morning, when a gentleman on a bicycle
rushed down a bye street and knocked me down with a bound. Seeing two
ladies crossing the street I concluded matters were safe. The rider told
me that he had seen the ladies and had arranged to clear them, but as I
stepped forward he could not clear me, so gave me the preference. As I
had always been in favour of the rights of women, I said he did rightly,
though the result was not to my mind. He had the courtesy to accompany
me to my door, apologising for what he had done, but left me to pay the
bill of the physician, who was called in to examine me. When I recovered
my proper senses I found he had not left his card. Though I advertised
for him, he made no reappearance.

Another serene Sunday morning I was crossing the Old Steine with a
son-in-law; nothing was to be seen in motion save a small dog-cart,
which had passed before we stepped into the road. Soon we found
ourselves both thrown to the ground with violence. A huge dog, as
large as the "Hound of the Baskervilles" described by Conan Doyle, had
loitered behind and suddenly discovered his master had driven ahead, and
he, like a Leming rat, made straight for his master, quite regardless of
our being in his way.

In these and other adventures or _mis_-adventures, I need not say I
was never killed, though the escapes were narrow. To say they were
providential escapes would be to come under the rebuke of Archbishop
Whately, who, when a curate reported himself as providentially saved
from the terrible wreck of the _Amazon_, asked: "I to understand that
all less fortunate passengers were providentially drowned?" The belief
that the Deity is capricious or partial in His mercies is a form of
holy egotism which better deserves indictment than many errors of speech
which have been so visited. I have no theory of my many exemptions from
fatal consequences. All I can say is that, had I been a saint, I could
not have been more fortunate.



CHAPTER XXXVI. LIMPING THRIFT

Thrift is so excellent a thing--is so much praised by moralists, so much
commended by advisers of the people, and is of so much value to the poor
who practise it--that it is strange to see it retarded by the caprices
of those who take credit and receive it, for promoting the necessary
virtues. Insurance societies continue to recommend themselves by
praising prudence and forethought which provides for the future.
Everybody knows that those who do not live within their income live upon
others who trust them. Those who spend all their income forget that if
others did as they do, there would be universal indigence. Insurance
companies are supposed to provide inducements to thrift, whereas they
put wanton obstacles in its way.

He who takes out a policy on his life finds it a condition that if
he commits suicide his policy will be forfeited--the assumption of
insurance offices being that if a man insures his life he intends to cut
his throat. Can this be true? What warrant of experience is there for
this expectation? Is not the natural, the instinctive, the universal
love of life security sufficient against self-slaughter? If life be
threatened, do not the most thoughtless persons make desperate effort to
preserve it? Is it necessary for insurance societies to come forward
to supplement incentives of nature? Is not the fact that a man is
provident-minded enough to think of insuring his life, proof enough that
his object is to live?

Answers to a series of questions are demanded from an insurer, which
average persons do not possess the knowledge to answer with exactitude;
yet failure in any fact or detail renders the policy void, although a
person has paid premiums upon it for thirty or forty years.

Elaborate legal statements which few can understand are attached to a
policy which intimidates those who see them, from wishing to incur
such unfathomable obligation. A few plain words in plain type would be
sufficient for the guidance of the insured and the protection of the
company. The uncertainty comes from permitting questions of popular
interest to be stated by a member of the legal profession. If the terms
of eternal salvation had been drawn up by a lawyer, not a single soul
would be saveable, and the judgment day would be involved in everlasting
litigation.

An office known to me had judges among its directors, from which it was
inferred by the insured that the office was straight. The holder of a
policy in it, making a will, his solicitor on inquiry found that the
office did not admit his birth. They had received premiums for forty
years, still reserving this point for possible dispute after the
policy-holder was dead, never informing him of it. When the insurance
was effected, they saw the holder of it and could judge his age to a
year. They saw the certificate of his birth, but gave him no assurance
that they admitted it and it had to be presented again.

In another case within my knowledge, the owner of a policy obtained a
loan upon it, from a well-known lawyer in the City of London, who gave
the office, as is usual, notice of it. When the loan was repaid he again
wrote to the office saying he had executed a deed of release of his
claim on the policy. That the office was not satisfied with this
assurance was never communicated to the policyholder, and when many
years later, the lawyer who advanced the loan was dead, and his son who
succeeded him was dead, it transpired that the office did not believe
the assurances they had received. They admitted having received the
letter by the loan maker, but required to see the deeds relating to
the advance and release and repayment of the loan; and they gave the
policyholder to understand that he had better keep those deeds, as
his executors might be required to produce them at his death. It was a
miracle they were not destroyed. As the office had been legally notified
that the claim on the policy had ceased, it was never imagined that
deeds which did not relate to the office could be required by it. Under
this intimidation the deeds have now been kept. They are fifty years
old. This Scotland Yard practice of treating an insurer as a thief,
detracts from the fascination of thrift.

Another instance was that of a policy-holder who applied to the office
for a loan, for which 1 per cent, more interest was demanded than his
banker asked, and a rise of 1 per cent, in case of delay in paying
the interest, and a charge was to be made for the office lawyer
investigating the validity of their own policy, upon which the office
had received premiums for forty-seven years.

Directors, like the Doge of Venice, should have a lion's mouth open, of
which they have the key, when they might hear of things done in their
name, not conducive to the extension of thrift.

No wonder thrift goes limping along, from walking in the jagged pathway
which leads to some insurance office.

There are, as I know, offices straightforward and courteous, who foster
thrift by making it pleasant. Yet, as one who has often advocated
thrift, I think it useful to record my astonishment at the official
impediments to its popularity, which I have encountered. This is one
reason why Thrift, the most self-respecting of all the goddesses that
should be swift-footed, goes limping along.



CHAPTER XXXVII. MISTRUST OF MODERATION

Temperance is restraint in use. Abstinence is entire avoidance, which is
the wise policy of those who lack the strength of temperance.

How necessary entire abstinence is to many, I well know. When the drink
passion sets in, it leads to an open grave. The drinker sees it, and
knows it, and, with open eyes walks into it. He who realises the danger,
would, as Charles Lamb said--

     "Clench his teeth and ne'er undo them,
     To let the deep damnation trickle through them."

For such there is no salvation save entire abstinence. Thousands might
have been saved but for the fanaticism of abstinence advocates who
opposed in Parliament every legal mitigation of the evil, thinking
the spectacle of it would force the legislature into prohibition. In
discussions, lectures, articles, I advocated the policy of mitigation,
and supported measures in Parliament calculated to that end,
encountering thereby the strong dissent of temperance writers who, not
intending it, connived at drunkenness as a temperance policy.

Is it true that moderation is dead? Have teetotalers extinguished it as
a rule of daily life? Bishop Hall, in his fine way, said, "Moderation
was the silken string running through the pearl chain of all our
virtues." Was this a mistake of the illustrious prelate? Is not
temperance a wider virtue than total abstinence? Is there no possibility
of establishing temperance in betting? Can no limitation be imposed
on betting? The public know denunciatory preaching does not arrest it.
Innumerable articles are written against it. Letters about it are not
lacking in the editor's post-bag. Yet not a mitigation nor remedy is
suggested, save that of prohibition, which is as yet impossible.

Betting is a kind of instinct, difficult to eradicate, but possible
to regulate. Games of hazard, as card-playing or dice, are naturally
seductive in their way. They are useful as diversions and recreation.
They exercise the qualities of judgment, calculation, and presence of
mind, as well as furnish entertainment. It is only when serious stakes
are played for that mischief and ruin begin.

But the seduction of card gambling--once widely irresistible--is now
largely limited by the growing custom of playing only for small stakes.
Family playing or club playing, professedly for money, is held to
be disreputable. Formerly, drinking which proceeded to the verge of
intoxication, or went beyond it, was thought "manly." Now, where the
effects are seen in the face, or in business, it is counted ruinous to
social or professional reputation. Drinking is far more difficult
of mitigation than betting, because the temptations to it occur
much oftener. The capricious habit of going in search of luck can be
restrained by common sense. Temperance in betting would be easier to
effect were it not for the intemperate doctrine of total abstainers. By
defaming moderation they rob the holy name of temperance of its charm,
its strength and its trust. By teaching that "moderation is an inclined
plane, polished as marble, and slippery as glass, on which whoever sets
his foot, slips down into perdition," they destroy moderation by making
it a terror. It brings it into contempt and distrust, and undermines
self-confidence and self-respect. Yet it is by moderation that we live.
Moderation in eating is an absolute condition of health--as the Indian
proverb puts it: "Disease enters by the mouth." A man who disregards
moderation in work, or in pleasure, or diet, seldom lives out half his
days. He who has no moderation in judgment, in belief, in opinion, in
politics, or piety, is futile in counsel, and dangerous in his example.
If the disparagement of self-control has not destroyed the capacity and
confidence of moderation in the public heart, temperance in betting is
surely possible.

Occasionally a minister of religion will ask me what I have to say about
betting. I answer, "It is difficult to extinguish it, but possible to
mitigate it." I give an instance from my own experience.

Years ago when I was editing the _Reasoner_, Dr. Shorthouse contributed
a series of instructive papers on the physiology of racing horses.
Out of courtesy to him I took a ticket in a sweepstake in which he was
concerned, but in which I felt no interest. Months after, I saw that
the owner of the prize was unknown. My brother, knowing I had a ticket,
found it among my papers, and I received £50. I invested the amount,
intending to use the interest in some future speculation, if I made any,
which was not in my way. To that £50 there is added now more than £50 of
accumulated interest, with which I might operate if so inclined. Were
I in the crusade against betting I should say, "Form societies for
Temperance in Betting, of which the rules shall be--

'"1.--No member may make any bet unless he is able, having regard to his
social obligations, to lose the sum he risks, and is willing to lose it,
if he fails to win.

'"2.--When he does win anything, he shall invest it, and bet with the
interest, and every time he wins, shall add the amount to the original
investment, which would give him a larger sum for future recreation in
that way."'"

There is a Church of England Temperance Society which has the courage to
believe in moderation, and which makes it a rule of honour to keep
clear of all excess. Thousands in every walk of life have been saved to
society under this sensible encouragement, and where an occasional act
of excess would have been counted venial, it is regarded as revolting as
an act of indecency.

I have known men in the betting ring who made up their mind that when
they acquired a certain sum they would retire, nor step again in the
treacherous paths of hazard--and they kept their resolution. But very
few are able to do this, having no trained will.

I am against extremes in social conduct, save where reason shows it to
be a necessity. If Betting Limited was approved by the public, betting
at hazard would become as socially infamous as petty larceny. In the
dearth of suggestions for the mitigation of an evil as serious as that
of drunkenness, I pray forgiveness for that I have made.

Previous to 1868, I assisted in establishing the _Scottish Advertiser_
conducted by Walter Parlane. It bore the following motto, which I wrote
for it:

"Whatever trade Parliament licenses, it recognises--and so long as
such trade is a source of public revenue, it is entitled to public
protection."

I still agree with the sentiment expressed. All I meant was a reasonable
protection of the interest which the law had conceded to the trade.
The predatory impudence of the monopoly privileges the trade has since
extorted against the public interests was in no man's mind then. No one
intended that the concession of just protection should be construed into
extortion. As respects compensation, the temperate party refused it. I
was not of their opinion. I agreed with them that the publicans had
no logical claim for compensation, but I would have conceded it as
the lesser of two evils, just as it was better to free the West Indian
slaves by purchase than to continue their lawful subjection. If to
maintain in full force the legalised machinery of drunkenness be only
half as dreadful in its consequences as temperance advocates truly
represent, it would be cheaper as well as more humane to limit it by
graduated compensation.



CHAPTER XXXVIII. PENAL CHRISTIANITY

Predatory Christianity would not be far from the mark. Christianity is
of the nature of a penal settlement where independent-minded persons are
made to expiate the sin of thinking for themselves. There can be no real
goodwill in any one who is not for justice and equality. No cause can
command respect, or can claim a hearing from others which is not based
on absolute fairness. Many well-meaning Christians never inquire whether
the great cause they have at heart fulfils this condition. In the past
this omission has been a lasting cause of alienation from their views.

Between 1850 and 1860 there sat in St. Bride's Vestry, London, a
group of Christian churchwardens who twice a year sent agents to seize
property from my house in Fleet Street, because I refused to pay tithes.
Yet there are people who tell us without tiring, of the depravity of the
French revolutionists and atheists who laid, or proposed to lay hands
upon Church property. Yet these Christian officers, acting under the
eye of an opulent rector in the wealthiest capital in the world, seized
clocks and bales of paper on the premises of heretics, in the name
of the Church! Did not this disqualify the Church as ministers of
consolation? The greatest consolation is justice. Is it not spiritual
effrontery to despoil a man, then invite him to the communion table?
In our day by predatory acts, they confiscate Nonconformist property to
maintain Church schools. Can it be that heaven recognised agents engaged
in petty larceny? Are they intrusted with the keys of heaven? May the
priest be a thief? Can a man expect to be admitted at the Golden Gate
with a burglar's passport in his hand? There exist penal laws against
all who do not stand on the side of faith, which Nonconformists as
well as Churchmen connive at, profit by, and maintain. Is not this
destructive of their spiritual pretensions? Can they preach of holiness
and truth without a blush? No higher criticism can condemn Christianity,
as it is self condemned by resting on predatoriness. No person who does
not stand on the Christian side can leave property for promoting his
views, as a Christian can for promoting his. No Christian conscience is
touched at this disadvantage imposed upon the independent thinker. No
sermon is preached against it. No Christian petition is ever set
up against it. Neither the Church conscience nor the Nonconformist
conscience is stirred by the existence of this injustice. It would cease
if they objected to it. But they do not object to it.

There are prelates, priests, clergymen, and Nonconformist ministers
personally to be respected, who in human things I trust. But for their
spiritual vocation, is it possible to have respect or trust? To tender
consolation with one hand while they keep the other in my pocket is
an act never absent from my mind. I belong to a Secular party who seek
improvement by material means; but were there any body of Christians
upon whom that party imposed legal disadvantages in its own interest,
and kept them there by silence or connivance, Parliament would hear from
me pretty frequently until the insulting privileges were annulled. Any
pretension to having principles worthy of acceptance, or regard, or
even respect, would be impertinence in us so long as we were unfair to
others.

I caused to be brought into Parliament a Bill in which Sir Philip
Manfield took the leading interest, entitled:--

Civil and Religious Liberty Extension.

A BILL

To secure the Extension of Civil and Religious Liberty.

(Prepared and brought in by

Mr. Manfield, Sir Henry Boscoe,

Sir Geo. B. Sitwell, Mr. Picton,

Mr. Illingworth, Mr. W. McLaren,

Mr. H. P. Cobb, Mr. Howell,

Mr. Chas. Feiiwick, Mr. Benn,

Mr. Storey, and Mr. Hunter.)

Ordered, by The House of Commons, to be Printed, 7 November 1893.

PRINTED BY EYRE AND SPOTTISWOODE,

PRINTERS TO THE QUEEN'S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY.

And to be purchased, either directly or through any Bookseller, from
Eyre & Spottiswood, East Harding Street, Fleet Street, B.C., and 32,
Abingdon Street, Westminster, 8.W.; or John Menzies & Co., 19, Hanover
Street, Edinburgh, and 90, West Nile Street, Glasgow; or Hodges, Ptoois
6 Co., Limited, 104, Grafton Street, Dublin.

[Price 1d.]

[Bill 464.]


Memorandum.

This Bill comprises but a small extension of religious equality.
Its object is to enable a man "to do what he likes with his own" for
admittedly lawful purposes. It is affirmed by legal decisions that any
man may believe what he pleases, speak what he pleases, publish his
honest conviction, provided he does it in a temperate and considerate
manner; and he may, while living, give money to maintain his views. All
this Bill seeks is that he may, at his death, bequeath money for such
purpose. This Bill merely proposes to extend a right which Christians
of every denomination enjoy, but which hitherto has been denied to those
who may conscientiously object to prevailing opinions.


BILL TO

Secure the Extension of Civil and Religions Liberty.

WHEREAS

1 it is expedient to remove the Disabilities under which persons suffer
desirous of endowing, creating, and maintaining charitable and other
Trusts for religious and ethical inquiry, so as to further extend civil
and religious liberty:

2 Nothing contained in this Act shall affect or be deemed to repeal
or contravene in any way such parts of the Act 9 George II., cap. 36,
relating to Mortmain as remain unrepealed, or any other Act amending
or altering such Act; and the provisions of all such Acts now in force
shall apply to all Trusts created under this Act.

3 After the passing of this Act, notwithstanding any Act, Rule of Common
Law, Rule of Equity, or Rule of Practice of any Court of Justice now in
force to the contrary, it shall be lawful for any person to create and
endow, or create or endow, any Trust for inquiry into the foundations
and tendency of religious and ethical beliefs which from time to time
prevail, or for the maintenance and propagation of the results of such
inquiry. And the method of application of Bequests made for the
purposes aforesaid shall be, on the part of those responsible for their
administration, subject to revision at intervals of thirty years.

4 Such Trust, whether created by Deed or Will, or by other instrument,
shall be deemed a charitable Trust, and shall be administered and given
effect to in all respects in as full and complete a manner as in the
case of religious and charitable Trusts now recognised by Law; and the
doctrine of _Cy-pres_ shall be applied to it when circumstances shall
arise requiring the application of such doctrine.


This Bill was not proceeded with. It required a member like Samuel
Morley, of known Christianity and a conscience, to carry it through the
House.

A theory has been started that by registering an association, under the
Friendly Societies Act, it would legalise its proceedings and virtually
repeal all the laws confiscating bequests. No case of this kind has come
before the higher courts. To do the Government justice, I know no case
in which the Crown has interfered to confiscate a bequest on the ground
of heresy in its use. Members of families, legally entitled to the
property of a testator, may claim the money and get it. If the family
enters no claim the bequest takes effect. In the meantime the state of
the law prevents testators leaving property for the maintenance of their
opinions, and Christians bring charges against philosophical thinkers
for lack of generosity in building halls as Christians do chapels.
The Christian reproaches the philosopher for not giving, when he has
confiscated the bequest of the philosopher and the power of giving.

Priests often mourn at the disinclination to listen to the tenets they
proclaim, and advertise in the newspapers the melancholy fact that only
one person in five is found on Sunday in a place of worship, and do not
remember how many persons remain away, not so much from dislike of the
tenets preached, as from dislike of the injustice which they would have
to share if they belonged to any Christian communion.



CHAPTER XXXIX. TWO SUNDAYS

None of our Sunday Societies or Sunday Leagues seem ever to have thought
of the advantages of advocating as I have long done--two Sundays--a
Devotional Sunday and a Secular Sunday.

The advocacy of two Sundays would put an end to the fear or pretence
that anybody wants to destroy the one we have.

The Policy of a Second Sunday is a necessity.

It would put an end to the belief that the working classes are mad, and
not content with working six days want to work on the seventh.

It would preserve the present Sunday as a day of real rest and devotion.
The one Sunday we now have is neither one thing nor the other. Its
insufficiency for rest prevents it being an honest day of devotion.
Proper recreation is out of the question. There is too little time for
excursions out of town on the Saturday half-day holiday. Imprisonment in
town irritates rather than refreshes--mere rest is not recreation.

     "A want of occupation gives no rest
     A mind quite vacant is a mind distressed."

Those who would provide recreation in the country find it not worth
while for the precarious chance of half-day visitors. On a Secular
Sunday recreation would be organised and be more self-respecting than it
now can be.

1. It would conduce to the public health. The manufacturing towns of
England are mostly pandemoniums of smoke or blast-furnace fumes. The
winds of heaven cannot clear them away in one day--less than forty-eight
hours of cessation of fire and fume would not render the air breathable.

2. With two Sundays one would be left undisturbed, devoted to repose, to
piety, contemplation and improvement of the mind.

3. It would give the preacher intelligent, fresh-minded and
fruitful-minded hearers, instead of the listless, wearied, barren-headed
auditors, who lower the standard of his own mind by forcing upon him the
endeavour to speak to the level of theirs.

4. A second Sunday would give the people real rest when nobody would
frown upon them, nor preach against them, nor pray against them.

5. It would be cheaper to millowners to stop their works two clear days
than run them on short days; and there need not be fears of claims of
further reduction of forty-eight hours a week on the part of workpeople,
who would have a real sense of freedom from unending toil with two days'
rest and peace. Manufacturing towns would no longer be, as now,
penal settlements of industry. Holiness would no longer be felt to be
wearisomeness.

But for Moses, the changes here sought would have existed long ago. One
day's rest in the week was enough for Jews who were doing nothing when
one Sunday was prescribed to them. Had Moses foreseen the manufacturing
system, instead of saying "six days," he would have said, "Five days
shalt thou labour."

If he deserves well of mankind who makes two blades of wheat grow where
only one grew before; he deserves better who causes two Sundays to exist
where only one existed before--for corn merely feeds the body, whereas
reasonable leisure feeds the mind.



CHAPTER XL. BYWAYS OF LIBERTY

It is worth while recording the curious, not to say ignominious, ways
from which justice to new thought has emerged. In the 5 and 6 Victoriæ,
cap. 38, 1842, the trial of eighteen offences were removed from
the jurisdiction of Justices of the Peace in Quarter Sessions and
transferred to the Assize Court. Persons accused were often subject to
magisterial intolerance, ignorance and offensiveness.

Among the transferred offences were forgery, bigamy, abductions of
women. "Blasphemy and offences against religion," often of doubtful
and delicate interpretation, were two of the subjects taken out of
magisterial hands and placed under the decision of better-informed and
more responsible judges. "Blasphemy" was the general title under which
atheism, heresy, and other troubles of the questioning intellect were
designated. "Composing, printing or publishing blasphemous libels," were
included in the list of subjects to be dealt with in higher courts. Thus
better chances of justice were secured to thinkers and disseminators
of forbidden ideas. This new charter of thought, which conceded legal
fairness to propagandism, was not the subject of a special statute, but
was interpolated in a list, which read like an auctioneer's catalogue,
eluded Parliamentary prejudice, which might have been fatal, had it been
formally submitted to its notice.

In the same manner the Affirmation Act, which changed the status of the
disbeliever in theology from that of an outlaw to that of a citizen,
crept into the Statute Book through a criminal avenue. A Bill to
admit atheists, agnostics, or other conscientious objectors to the
ecclesiastic oath, to make a responsible affirmation instead, was twice
or thrice thrown out of the windows of Parliament. Sir John Trelawny
used to say Mr. Gathorne Hardy (afterwards Lord Cranbrook) would rise
up, as I have seen him, with a face as furiously red as one of his own
blast furnaces at Lowmoor, and move its rejection. It was passed at
last by the friendly device of G. W. Hastings, M.P., the founder of the
Social Science Association, in a Bill innocently purporting to better
"promote the discovery of truth" by enabling persons charged with
adultery to give evidence on their own behalf.

Then and there a clause was introduced which had no relation to the
extension of the right to give evidence, but upon the exemption of an
entirely different class of persons from the obligation of making oath.
Adulterers appear always to be Christians, since no case is recorded in
which any party in an adultery action professed any scruple at taking
the oath. Yet the Bill set forth that "any person in a civil or criminal
proceeding who shall object to make an oath," shall make a declaration
instead. When the Bill became an Act secular affirmation became
legalised. Thus by a clause treading upon the heels of adultery, the
witness having heretical and unecclesiastical convictions was enabled to
be honest without peril.

In 1842, as I witnessed at the Gloucester Assizes, no barrister would
defend any one accused of dissent from Christianity, but apologised for
him and proclaimed his contrition for his sin of thinking for himself.
Slave thought of the mind, chained to custom, could be defended, but not
Free Thought, which is independent of everything save the truth. By the
Act of 1869* atheists ceased to be outlaws, and were henceforth enabled
to give evidence in their own defence. Wide-awake and vigilant as a
rule, bigotry was asleep that day. Thus by circuitous and furtive paths
the right of free thought has made its way to the front of the State.

     * 32 & 33 chap. 68, Evidence Amendment Act



CHAPTER XLI. LAWYERS' LICENCE

The extraordinary legal licence of disordered and offensive imputation
has been limited since 1842. In those days, officers of the law, who
always professed high regard for morality and truth, had no sense of
either, when they were drawing up theological indictments. In the affair
at Cheltenham I delivered a lecture on Home Colonies (a proposal similar
to the Garden Cities of to-day), to which nobody objects now. As
I always held that discussion was the right of the audience, as
self-defensive against the errors of lecturer or preacher, an auditor,
availing himself of this concession, arose in the meeting and asked:
"Since I had spoken of duty to man, why I had said nothing of duty
to God"? My proper answer was, that having announced one subject, the
audience would have a right to complain that I had trepanned them into
hearing another, which they would not hear willingly. Such a reply would
have been received with outcries, and the Christian auditor would have
said, "I dare not answer the question--that I held opinions I was afraid
to disclose." All the while the questioner knew that an honest answer
might have penal consequences, which he intended to invoke. Christians
in those days lacked winning ways. I gave a defiant answer, which caused
my imprisonment. There was no imputation in my reply, which merely
produced merriment.

Yet my indictment said I "was a wicked, malicious, evil-disposed
person," and that I "wickedly did compose, speak and utter, pronounce
and publish with a loud voice, of and concerning the Holy Scriptures, to
the high displeasure of Almighty God, and against the peace of our Lady
the Queen." Every sentence was an outrage, and nearly every word untrue.
I was not wicked, nor malicious, nor evil-disposed. I did not compose
the speech--it was purely spontaneous. I never had a loud voice. I never
referred to the Holy Scriptures, and I only disturbed the peace of our
Lady the Queen by a ripple of laughter.

I carried no arms. I was known as belonging to the "Moral Force Party"
in politics, and was entirely unprepared to attack any person, let alone
one Omnipotent with "force of arms." The imputations in the indictment
were not only untrue, but contained more blasphemy than was in the mind
of any one to utter. I called the Judge's attention to the atrocity
of the language of the indictment He did not say there was anything
objectionable in it, which showed that the morality of the Bench was
not higher at that time than the morality of the magistrates. In the
_Cheltenham Chronicle_, known in the town as the Rev. Francis Close's
(afterwards Dean of Chichester) paper, I was described as a "miscreant"
for the answer I had given to my auditor. Mr. Justice Erskine had no
word of reproof for the infamous term applied to me.

As I have elsewhere said, I spoke in my defence upwards of nine hours.
The length was owing to the declaration of one of the magistrates (Mr.
Bransby Cooper) that the Court would not hear me defend myself. Why I
defended myself at all, was from a very different reason.

No barrister in those days would defend any one charged with dissenting
from the Christian religion. The counsel always apologised to the jury
for the opinions of his client, which admitted his guilt. This was done
at that very assizes at which I was tried. A Mr. Thompson, a barrister
in Court, who we mistook for a son of General Perronet Thompson, also
at the Bar, was engaged to defend George Adams, charged with an act
of heresy. The false Thompson expressed contrition for Adams, without
knowing or inquiring whether it was true that he felt it. Neither
counsel nor magistrate nor judge seemed to think it necessary that what
they said should be true.

Thus my justification of the seeming presumption of defending myself was
the fact that no counsel would defend us without compromising us. I
had no taste for martyrdom. I did not want martyrdom; I did not like
martyrdom. Martyrdom is not a thing to be sought, but a thing to be
submitted to when it comes.

This narrative shows that, in one respect, legal taste and truth have
improved in my time.



CHAPTER XLII. CHRISTIAN DAYS

Many religious thinkers, ecclesiastical and Nonconformist, whose
friendship I value, will expect from me in these autobiographic
papers some account of the origin of opinions in which they have been
interested. Sermons, speeches, pamphlets, even books have been devoted
to criticism of my heresies. It is due to those who have taken so much
trouble about me that I should explain, not what the opinions were--that
would be irrelevant here--but how I came by them. That may be worth
recounting, and to some serious people perhaps worth remembering.

Confessions are not in my way. They imply that something it was prudent
to conceal has to be "owned up." Of that kind I have no story to
tell. An apologia is still less to my taste. I make no apology for
my opinions. I do not find that persons who dissent from me, ever so
strenuously, think of apologising to me for doing so. They do right in
standing by their convictions without asking my leave. I hope they will
take it in good part if I stand by mine without asking theirs.

My mother did not go to the Established Church, to which her father
belonged. She had natural piety of heart, and thought she found more
personal religion among the Nonconformists than in the Church.
She attended Carr's Lane Chapel, where the Rev. John Angell James
preached--who had a great reputation in Birmingham for eloquence and
for his evangelical writings. He was notorious in his day for denouncing
players and ambitious preachers seeking to excel in the arts of this
world; which caused the town people to say that he was dramatic against
the drama and eloquent against eloquence. His name, "Angell" James,
begat a belief that it was descriptive of himself, and that his
doctrines were necessarily angelic. It seems absurd, but I shared this
belief, and should not have been surprised to hear that he had some
elementary development of wings out of sight At the same time, Mr. James
gave me the impression of severity in piety, and my feeling towards him
was one of awe, dreading a near approach.

Some years after, I held a discussion of several nights with the Rev.
W. J. Winks, of Leicester, who wrote to Mr. James to make inquiries
concerning me. In 1881, some thirty-five years after the discussion,
Mr. Winks' son showed me a letter which Mr. James wrote in reply saying:
"Holyoake was a boy in my Sunday School five years. He then went,
through the persuasion of a companion, to Mr. Cheadle's for a short
time, then to the Unitarian school (I believe entered a debating
society), and became an unbeliever. He is a good son and kind to his
mother, who is a member of one of our Baptist churches."

The Rev. Mr. Cheadle, of whom Mr. James speaks, was a Baptist minister.
It is true I went to his church--my sister Matilda became a member
of it--but I never joined it The ceremony of baptism there was by
immersion. It seemed poetical to me when I read the account of baptism
in the Jordan; but I could not make up my mind to be baptised in a tank.
The reason, however, that I gave at the time was the stronger and
the true one--that I did not feel good enough to make a solemn public
profession of faith. Mr. James was misinformed; I never belonged to a
debating society.

It was very good of him to write of me so, when he must have been very
much pained at the opinions he believed me then to hold. A man may
speak generously privately, but he means it when he says the same thing
publicly; and Mr. James did this. He wrote to a similar effect in the
_British Banner_ at the time when the Rev. Brewin Grant was painting
portraits of me in pandemonium colours.

A small Sunday School Magazine came into my hands when I was quite a
youth. It was edited by the Rev. W. J. Winks. As communications were
invited from readers, I sent some evangelical verses to him. The first
time of my seeing my initials in print was in Mr. Winks's magazine.

After a time, partly because the place of worship was nearer home, my
mother joined a little church in Thorpe Street, and later one in Inge
Street. They were melancholy little meeting-houses, and, as I always
accompanied my mother, I had time to acquire that impression of them.
A love of art was in some measure natural to me, and I thought that the
Temple of God should be bright, beautiful and costly. As I was taught to
believe that He was always present there, it seemed to me that He should
not be invited (and all our prayers did invite Him) into a mean-looking
place. It was seeing how earnestly my mother prayed at home for the
welfare of her family, how beautiful and patient was her trust
in heaven, and how trouble and misery increased in the household
notwithstanding, that unconsciously turned my heart to methods of
secular deliverance. She had lost children. I remember the consternation
with which she told us one Sunday night that her pastor, the Rev. Mr.
James, had stated in his sermon his fearsome belief that there were
"children in hell not a span long." That Mr. James believed it seemed
to us the same as its being in the Bible. Another time he preached about
the "sin against the Holy Ghost, which could never be forgiven, either
in this world or the world to come." My mother's distress at the thought
made a great impression upon me. A silent terror of Christianity
crept into my mind. That one so pure and devout as my mother, who was
incapable of committing sin knowingly, should be liable to commit this,
and none of us know what it was, nor how or when consequences so awful
were incurred, seemed to me very dreadful.

The first death at home of which I was conscious, occurred at a time
when Church rates and Easter dues were enforced and augmented by a
summons. None of us were old enough to take the money to the public
office, and a little sister being ill, my mother, with reluctance, had
to go. A small crowd of householders being there on the same errand,
she was away some hours. When she returned, my sister was dead; and the
thought that the money extorted by the Church might have succoured, if
not saved the poor child, made the distress greater. My mother, always
resigned, made no religious complaint, but I remember that, in our
blind, helpless way, the Church became to us a thing of ill-omen. It was
not disbelief, it was dislike, that was taking possession of our minds.

A man in my father's employ, who was superintendent of a Congregational
Chapel School at Harborne, a village some three or four miles from
Birmingham, asked me to assist as monitor in one of his classes. I was
so young that John Collins, who preached at times in the chapel, took me
by the hand, and I walked by his side. The distance was too far for
my little feet, and in winter the snow found its way through my
shoes. Collins afterwards became known as a Chartist advocate, and
was imprisoned in Warwick Gaol with William Lovett, on the ground of
political speeches. They jointly wrote the most intelligent scheme
of Chartist advocacy made in their day. Elsewhere I have recounted
incarcerations which befel many of my friends, proving that, within the
memory of living men, the path of political and other pilgrims lay by
the castles of giants who seized them by the way.

In the Carr's Lane Sunday School I was considered an attentive,
devout-minded boy. All the hymns we sang I knew by heart, as well as
most parts of the Bible. The only classic of a semi-secular nature my
mother had in her house was Milton's "Paradise Lost"; we had besides
a few works of ponderous Nonconformist divines, of which Boston's
"Fourfold State" was one, to which I added Baxter's "Saints' Everlasting
Rest." I devoured whatever came in my way that was religious. Being
thought by this time capable of teaching the little that was deemed
necessary in an Evangelical Sunday school, I came to act as a
small teacher at the Inge Street Chapel. These people were known as
Pædo-Baptists--what that meant not a single worshipper knew. The point
of doctrine which they did understand was that children should not be
baptised when their small souls were in the jelly-fish state and knew
nothing. When their little minds had grown and had some backbone
of sense in them, and some understanding of religious things, the
congregation thought that sprinkling them into spiritual fellowship
might do them good.

Though my mother admitted that adult baptism was more reasonable, she
never listened to the doctrine of baptism by immersion. She disliked
innovation in piety. She had great tenacity in quiet belief, and thought
public immersion a demonstration--very bad bathing of its kind--and
might give you a cold.

Few young believers showed more religious zeal than I did in those days.
On Sunday morning there was a prayer on rising, and one before leaving
home. At half-past seven the teachers were invited to meet at chapel
to pray for a blessing on the work of the day. When school commenced at
nine o'clock the superintendent opened it with prayer, and closed it at
eleven with another prayer. Then came the morning service of the chapel,
at which I was present with my class. That included three prayers. At
two o'clock school began again, opening and ending with prayers by the
superintendent, or by some teacher who was asked "to engage" in it,
in his stead. At the close of the school, another prayer-meeting
of teachers was held, for a blessing on the work done that day. At
half-past six evening service took place, which included three
more prayers. Afterwards, devout members of the congregation held
a prayer-meeting on behalf of the work of the church. At all these
meetings I was present, so that, together with graces before and after
meals three times a day, and evening prayers at time of rest, heaven
heard from me pretty frequently on Sundays. Many times since I have
wondered at the great patience of God towards my unconscious presumption
in calling attention so often to my insignificant proceedings. Atonement
ought to include the sin of prayers.

Nor was this all. At chapels in Birmingham (1834), when anniversary
sermons had been preached on Sunday by some ministers of mark, there
would commonly be a public meeting on Monday at which they would speak,
and to which I would go. On Tuesday evening I went to the Cherry Street
Chapel, where the best Wesleyan preachers in the town were to be heard.
On Wednesday I often attended the Carr's Lane sermon. Thursday would
find me at the Bradford Street chapel, where there usually sat before
me a beautiful youth, whose sensuous grace of motion gave me as much
pleasure as the sermon. I remember it because it was there I first
became conscious of the charm of human strength and proportion. I had
the Greek love of beauty in boys--not in the Greek sense, of which I
knew nothing.

On Friday I generally went to the public prayer-meeting in Cherry
Street, because Wesleyans were bolder and more original in their prayers
than other Christians. In frequenting Wesleyan chapels I could not help
noticing that their great preachers were also men of great build, of
good width in the lower part of the face. Afterwards I found that their
societies elsewhere were mostly composed of persons of sensuous make.
Their preachers having strong voices, and drawing inspiration mainly
from feeling, they had boldness of speech; and those who had imagination
had a picturesque expression. Independents and Baptists often tried
to solve doubts, which showed that their convictions were tempered by
thought to some extent; but the Wesleyan knew nothing of thought--he put
doubt away. He did not recognise that the Questioning Spirit came from
the Angel of Truth. To the Wesleyans, inquiry is but the fair-seeming
disguise of the devil, and to entertain it is of the nature of sin.
These preachers, therefore, knowing nothing of the other side, were
under none of the restrictions imposed by intelligence, and they
denounced the sceptics with a force which seemed holy from its fervour,
and with a ferocity which only ignorance could inspire. So long as I
knew less than they, their influence over me continued. Yet it was not
vigorous denunciation which first allured me to them, though it long
detained me among them--it was the information I had received, that they
believed in universal salvation, which had fascination for me. There was
something generous in that idea beyond anything taught me, and my heart
cleaved to the people who thought it true. This doctrine came to me
with the force of a new idea, always enchanting to the young. Had I been
reared among Roman Catholics, I should have worshipped at the church
of _All_ Souls instead of the church of One Soul. Any Church whose name
seemed least to exclude my neighbours would have most attracted me.

All the fertility of attendance at chapels recounted did not, as the
reader will suppose, produce any weariness in me, or make me tired
of Christianity. The incessant Bible reading, hymns, prayer, and
evangelical sermons of Carr's Lane, Thorpe Street, and Inge Street did
tire me. There was no human instruction in their spiritual monotony. My
mind aches now when I think of those days. When I took courage to visit
various chapels, the variety of thought gave me ideas. The deacons of
the Inge Street Chapel bade me beware that "the rolling stone gathered
no moss."* Yet I did gather moss.

     * Thomas Tusser, of the sixteenth century, to whom the
     phrase is ascribed, said: "The stone that is rolling can
     gather no moss."

Though I was then hardly fifteen, the other teachers would gently ask me
if I would engage in prayer in their meetings, which meant praying aloud
among them. The idea made me tremble. I was very shy, and the sound of
my own voice was as a thing apart from me, for which I was responsible,
and which I could not control. Then, what should I say? To say what
others said, to utter a few familiar scriptural phrases, diluted by
ignorant earnestness, seemed to me, even at that time, an insipid
offering of praise. Then it occurred to me to notice any newness of
thought and expression I heard in week-day discourses, and with them I
composed small prayers, which brought me some credit when I spoke them,
as they were unlike any one else's. But only once--at a Friday night's
church meeting--did I pray with natural freedom. Afterwards I avoided
requests to pray, as I thought it unreal to be thinking more of the
terms of the prayer than the simple spirit of it, and I hoped that one
day fitting language would become natural to me.

It is proof that my mind was as free from scientific inspiration as
any saint's, since I had no misgiving as to the effect of prayer. If
Christianity were preached for the first time now to well-to-do people,
able to help themselves, it would be treated like Mormonism in America;
but to the poor who have neither money nor reflection, Christianity, as
a praying power, is a very real thing. People who have no idea that help
will, or can, come in any other way, are glad to think that it may
come from heaven. It had never been explained to me that low wages
were caused by there being too many labourers in the market, or that
ill-health is caused by poor food and hard condition. It was my daily
habit to pray for things most necessary and always deficient, not for
myself alone, but for others to whom in their need I would give, at any
cost to myself--to whom, if disinterested prayers were answered, any God
of sympathy would give. Yet, though no prayer was answered, it did not
strike me that that method of help failed. Prayer was no remedy, yet I
did not see its futility. Had I spent a single hour only in "dropping
a bucket into an empty well, never drawing any water up," I should not
have continued the operation without further inquiry. It never struck me
that, if preachers could obtain material aid by prayer, or knew any form
of supplication by which it could be obtained, they might grow rich in
a day by selling copies of that priceless formula. No Church would be
needy, no believer would be poor.

In those days Christianity was a very real thing to me. What was part of
my conviction was also part of my life. So far as I had knowledge, I was
like the parson of Chaucer, who--

     "Christ's love and his Apostles twelve
     Taught, and _first he followed it himselve_."

This I did with a zeal of spirit which neither knew nor sought any
evasion of the letter.

At this time there came to Birmingham one Rev. Tully Cribbace, a
middle-aged man with copious dark hair, pale, thin face, and earnest,
unceasing speech. The zealous members of many congregations went to hear
him. He interested me greatly. He rebuked our Churches, as is the way
with new, wandering preachers--_without appointments_--for their want of
faith in the promise of Christ, who had said that "Whatsoever ye shall
ask in My name, that will I do." I had the belief, I had asked in His
name; but nothing came of it. With insufficient clothing I had gone out
in inclement weather to worship, or to teach, trusting in that promise
that I should be protected if no gifts of clothing came from heaven. No
gifts did come, but illness from exposure often did. In a very anxious
spirit I went to Mr. Cribbace's lodgings in Newhall Street, where he had
said inquirers might call upon him. When he asked me "what I wished to
say," I at once, not without emotion, replied, "Do you really believe,
sir, what you said? Is it true that what we ask in faith we shall
receive? I have great need to know that."

My seemingly abrupt and distrustful question was not a reflection upon
his veracity of speech. Mr. Cribbace quite understood that from my
tone of inquiry. It never struck me that his threadbare dress, his
half-famished look, and necessity of "taking up a collection" the
previous night "to pay expenses," showed that faith was not a source of
income to him. Yet he had told us that faith would be all that to us,
and with a sincerity which never seemed to me more real on any human
lips. He did not mistake the earnestness or purport of my question. He
parried with his answer with many words, and at length said that "the
promise was to be taken with the provision that what we asked for would
be given, if God thought it for our good." Christ did not think this; He
did not say it; He did not suggest it. Knowing how many generations of
men to the end of the world would imperil their lives on the truth of
His words, He could not suffer treacherous ambiguity to creep into His
meaning by omission. His words were: "If it were not so, I would have
told you." There was no double meaning in Christ, no reticence, no
half-statement, leaving the hearer to find out the half-concealed words
which contradicted the half-revealed. All this I believed of him, and
therefore I trusted Christ's sayings.

St. Chrysostom, in the prayer of the Church Litany, does not stop, but
keeps open the gap through which this evasion crawls. "Almighty God," he
says, "who dost promise that when two or three are gathered together in
Thy name, Thou wilt grant _their_ requests. Fulfil _now_, O Lord, the
desires and petitions of Thy servants, as may be most _expedient_
for them." Christ was no juggler like St. Chrysostom. A prayer is a
deposit--the money of despair paid into a bank; but no one would pay
money into a bank if they were told they would get back only as much as
was good or expedient for them.

My heart sank within me as Mr. Cribbace spoke the words of evasion.
There was nothing to be depended upon in prayer. The doctrine was a
juggle of preachers. They might not mean it or think it straight out,
but this is what it came to. Christ a second time repeated the words:
"If ye shall ask anything in My name, I will do it." However it might be
true in apostolic days, it was not true in ours, and the preachers knew
it, and did not say so. Christ might as well be dead if the promise
had passed away. Christianity had no material advantage to offer to the
believer, whatever else it may have had.

Mr. Cribbace spoke the truth now; I could see that. Never did that
morning pass from my mind. That answer did not make me disbelieve, but I
was never again the same Christian I had been before. The foundation on
which every forlorn, helpless, uninformed, trusting believer rests had
slipped--slipped away from under my feet. Whatever Christianity might
be, it was no dependence in human need. The hard, material world was not
touched by prayer. How else it could be moved I then knew not.

For myself, I did not think about the terms of the Bible, but believed
them. If there was an exception, it related to the saying of Christ that
every "idle word" men should speak should be recorded against them. If
"idle words" were to go down, then angry or wicked words would also be
recorded. At night, as I made my last prayer, I tried to think over
what I had said or done which might have been added to that serious
catalogue, and thus I suffered more than my fair share of alarm. I did
not know then that the rich have a much smaller account against them
above than the poor, and that they fare better than the indigent in
heaven, as they do on earth. A gentleman has his house and grounds, no
one he dislikes can enter his home. His neighbour cannot much annoy him;
he is at a distance from him. If he has a feud with his annoyer, he does
not meet him above once a year, perhaps at a county ball, and there he
can "cut" him; while a poor man lives in a house where he has several
fellow-lodgers, who have done him a shabby turn, and whom he meets four
or five times a day on the stairs. Evil thoughts come into his heart,
evil words escape his lips, and he himself employs a recording angel
all his time in taking down his offences, while the rich man has,
peradventure, only a single note made against his name once a week.

It was after I had been some time at the Mechanics' Institution--which
was quite a new world of thought to me--that I was asked if I would
conduct a class at the New Meeting Unitarian Sunday school. The rooms
in which the Mechanics' Institution was held were those of the Sunday
school of the Old Meeting-house, no other being obtainable. Since
anything I knew had been taught me by these generous believers, it
seemed to me natural that they should invite me to assist in one of
their schools, and that I should comply. My consenting was not because
I shared their tenets. The Rev. Mr. Crompton, whose sister subsequently
became Mrs. George Dawson, asked me after a time what my view was as to
the unity of Deity. My answer was that I believed in three Deities.
I had never thought of the possibility of all this great world being
managed by _one_ Being. My preference for the acquaintance of Unitarians
was that there was so much more to be learned among them than among any
other religious body I had known. My invitation to their school was to
teach Euclid to one class, and the simpler elements of logic to another.
These were subjects never thought of in the Evangelical Sunday schools
to which I had belonged. The need of human knowledge had become very
clear to me. I could see that young men of my age trained in Unitarian
schools were very superior to Evangelical youths, who had merely
spiritual information. Devoutness I knew to be goodness; but I could
see it was not power. My personal piety did not conceal from me my
inferiority to those better informed. This made me grateful to the
Unitarians, who cared on Sundays for human as well as spiritual things;
and I thought it a duty to help them, as far as my humble attainments
might enable me.

As soon as this was known in the Inge Street church, to which I was
considered to belong, the elders spake unto me thereupon. I was invited
to a prayer-meeting, which I readily consented to attend, when I found
that all the prayers were directed against me--were mere solicitations
to heaven to divert my heart from continuing to attend the Unitarian
schools. It would be wronging my sincere and well-meaning friends
of that time, to recount the deterrents they used and the fears they
expressed. Religion refined by human intelligence was regarded then as a
form of sin. At the end I did not dissent from their view, but I made
no promise to do what they wished. It seemed to me a sin that any youths
should be as ignorant as I had been, and I refuse to give them such
knowledge as I had acquired. In this matter of teaching I said it
was right to do as the Unitarians did, but wrong to believe as they
believed. This opinion I held all the while I was a teacher in their
Sunday school.

Had these prayerful friends of mine succeeded in their object of
persuading me from association with these larger believers, they would
have shut the door of freedom, effort and improvement for me. My lot
would have been to spend my days inviting others, with much earnestness,
to cherish like incapacity. Yet I have no word of disrespect for their
honest-hearted endeavour to advise me, as they thought, for the best.
It was the desire of knowledge which saved me from their dangerous
temptation.

The Meeting-house to whose Sunday school I went, was the one where Dr.
Priestley formerly preached. It was my duty on a Sunday to accompany my
class into chapel during the morning service. The scholars' seats were
near the gallery stairs. The other teachers sat at the end of the forms,
farthest from the stairs. I always chose the end nearest the stairs.
When invited to sit elsewhere I never explained the reason why I did
not. My reason was my belief that the wickedness of the preacher, in
addressing only one Deity, would one day be resented by heaven, and that
the roof would fall in upon the congregation. As I did not share their
faith, I thought I ought not to partake of their fate; and I thought
that by being near the stairs I could escape--if I saw anything
uncomfortable in the behaviour of the ceiling, which I frequently
watched. Being the person who would first understand what was about to
happen, I concluded that my descent would be unimpeded by the flying and
unsuspecting congregation. It seems to me only yesterday that I sat
calculating my chance of escape as Mr. Kentish's sonorous and
instructive sermon was proceeding.



CHAPTER XLIII. NEW CONVICTIONS WHICH CAME UNSOUGHT

These singular instances of bygone experience of a religious student,
of which few similar have ever been given, must be suggestive--perhaps
instructive--to religious teachers in church and chapel, engaged in
inculcating their views. How much happier had been my life had there
then existed that tolerance of social effort, that regard of social
needs, that consideration of individual aspiration, which happily now
prevail. This chapter will conclude what Herbert Spencer would call the
"natural history" of a mind, or, as Lord Westbury would say, "what I am
pleased to call my mind."

One evening, at the Mechanics' Institution, Birmingham, I was told that
Robert Owen, who had unexpectedly arrived in town, was likely to speak
in Well Lane, Allison Street, and was asked "would I go?" Mistaking
the name for Robert Hall, I said I would. Of Robert Owen I had scarcely
heard; of the Rev. Robert Hall (who had denounced all deflectors from
the Baptist standard with brilliant bitterness) I had heard, admired
(and do still), and much desired to see. Great was my disappointment
when I discovered the mistake. As Mr. Owen passed me on entering the
room, I--a mere youth--looked at the aged philosopher (who had been
working for human welfare long before I was born) with an impertinent
pity. I felt also some real terror for his future, as I thought what
a "wicked old man" he must be. I had been assured by Robert Hall that
morality without faith was of no avail in the eye of God.

Eventually it became known at the works where I was employed that I had
been to hear Robert Owen, and remarks were made. In those days (1837-8)
advocates of social reform were called "Socialists." Some of the remarks
made against them were unjust Some "Socialists" were fellow-students at
the Mechanics' Institution. These commentators made the usual mistake of
concluding that the social thinkers in question must hold the opinions
it was inferred that they held. At that time I did not understand this
way of reasoning, though no doubt I used it myself, as those among whom
I was reared knew no better. Everybody was sure that an opponent must
mean what you inferred he meant, and charged against him the inference
as a fact--never thinking of inquiring whether it was so. If I was not
misled by those confident arguments, it was because I knew that the
persons accused were leal and kind in daily life. Out of mere love
of fairness I defended them to my working associates, as far as my
knowledge went. Being told that "I did not know what their principles
were" caused me to read their pamphlets and to hear some lectures. For
a year or more I used the knowledge thus gained against the uninformed
impressions of their aspersers around me.

Well do I remember that one day, as I passed two workmen in the
mill-yard, one said to the other, "That is young Holyoake the sceptic."
They did not know that "sceptic" merely meant a doubter in search of
evidence. They used the word in the brutal sense of one who disbelieved
the truth, knowing it to be the truth. The term startled me, as I
neither believed nor assumed to believe what I had reported as the
opinions of my friends. For myself, I had no thought of holding their
opinions. The heresy supposed to be included in them was, indeed, my
aversion. Then I made the resolution to examine their principles, with a
view to show what arguments I could myself bring against them. Great
was my dismay when, after months of thought, I found that the questioned
tenets seemed, on the whole, to be true. These tenets were that wise
material circumstances were likely to have a better influence on men
than bad ones; and that, men having general qualities which they have
inherited, the treatment of the worst should be tempered by compassion
for their ill-fortune. Then it concerned me no more what any one said of
me. It was as though I had passed into a new country, leaving behind
me the barren land of supplication for a land of self-effort and
improvement; and entered into the fruitful kingdom of material
endeavour, where help and hope dwelt. Heretofore doubt and perturbation
as to whether I was of the "elect" had oft agitated me. Now, I had no
bonds in the death of my disproved opinions--no struggle, no misgivings.
Without wish or effort of mine, I was delivered by reason alone from the
prison-house in which I had dwelt with its many terrors. Not all at once
did the terrors go. They long hovered about the mind like evil spirits
tempting me to distrust the truth written in the Book of Nature, of
which I believed God to be the author.

Some time before this change in my opinion occurred I had taken in, out
of my slender savings, the beautiful Diamond edition of the Rev.
Mr. Stebbing's Bible in parts. The type was very fine, the outline
illustrations seemed to me very beautiful; they affect me with
admiration still. It was the first book with marks of art about it that
I had possessed. I had it bound in morocco, with silver clasps. It was
quite a wonder in the workshop when I took it there. To possess many
things I never cared, but if I had only one, and it had some beauty and
finish in it, it was to me as though I had a light in my room at night,
and the thought of it made me glad in the dark. A fellow-workman of
sincere piety, whom I respected very much, coveted this Bible, and
induced me to sell it to him, which I did, as I had it in my mind to get
another bound in a yet daintier way.

Simple and natural as was this transaction, it was misconstrued. It was
said I had "sold" my Bible, as though it was my act instead of being
the act of another. Next it was reported that I had "burnt" it. Thus I
became a founder of myths without knowing it. Nevertheless, it gave me
pain--for nothing was more alien to my mind, my taste and reverence,
than the act imputed to me. But what made a greater impression upon me,
it being inconceivable, and unforeseen, was that he who induced me to
part with my valued volume never came forward to say so. The inspiration
of Christianism I had taken to be personal truth which could be
trusted. In the noblest minds it is so still. But for the first time I
found a Christian could be mean.

It was about this period that a poor woman I knew drew near to death
from consumption. At times I visited and read the Scriptures to her. One
night I asked her if she would like some one to pray with her. As she
wished it, I induced one with whom I had been a Sunday school teacher to
come with me one evening and pray by her side.

The consolation was very precious to her, and that is why I sought it
for her. At no time did it seem to me that everybody should be of one
opinion, since honesty of life consists in living and dying in that
opinion of the truth of which you are convinced. This man whom I took
with me was a workman, poor, mean, and utterly uninformed. In religious
sympathy he inclined to the Ranters, who are not at all melodious
Christians. Yet heaven might respect his prayer as much as a bishop's,
for he had given up his night, after a hard day's labour, to afford what
humble consolation he could to this poor woman.

One sentiment that had always possessed me was a pleasure in vengeance.
I had quite a distinct passion of hatred where I was wronged, and had
no means of resistance or redress. A man in my father's employ did
something very unfair to me when I was quite a youth, and during nine
years that I worked by his side I did not forget it or forgive it. The
Lord's prayer taught me that I should "forgive those who trespassed
against me," and at times I thought I had forgiven him, but I never had.
Christian as I was, the revengeful lines of Byron long influenced me:--

     "If we do but watch the hour,
     There never yet was human power,
     That could evade, if unforgiven,
     The patient search and vigil long
     Of him who treasures up a wrong."

No sermon, no prayer, no belief, no Divine command, rendered me neutral
towards those I disliked. Neither authority nor precept had force which
gave no reason for amity. But when I came to understand Coleridge's
saying that "human affairs are a process," I could see that patience and
wise adaptation of condition was the true method of improvement, since
the tendency to nobleness or baseness was alike an inheritance nurtured
by environment. If tempest of the human kind came, precaution and not
anger--which means ignorance taken by surprise--was the remedy. Pity
takes the place of resentment. Clearly, vengeance did but add to the
misfortune of destiny.

I oft pondered Hooker's saying, that "anger is the sinew of the soul,
and he that lacketh it hath a maimed mind." Nevertheless, I am content
to be without that "sinew." Anger is rather the epilepsy of the
understanding than the dictate of reason. I had come to see that there
are no bad weeds in Nature--but much bad gardening. The reasons of amity
had become clear to me, and that Helvetius was right. We should "go on
loving men, but not expecting too much from them." Even Hooker could not
win me back to the profitless pursuits of anger and retaliation.

These bygone days left their instruction with me evermore. In them I
learned consideration for others. Whatever my convictions, I was always
the same to my mother. The wish to change her views never entered my
mind. She had chosen her own. I respected her choice, and she respected
mine. In after years, when I visited Birmingham, I would read the Bible
to her. She liked to hear my voice again as she had heard it in earlier
days. When her eyes became dim by time I would send her large type
editions of the New Testament, and of religious works which dwelt upon
the human tenderness of Christ. The piety of parents should be sacred
in the eyes of children. Convictions are the food of the soul, which
perisheth on any other diet than that which can be assimilated by the
conscience.

One of the bygones which had popularity in my day was silence,
where explicitness was needed. Nothing is more grateful to the young
understanding than clear, definite outlines. _The Spectator_ (July 23,
1891) said that "Dean Stanley could not at any time have exactly defined
what his own theology really was." George Dawson, who charmed so many
audiences and was under no official restraint, never attempted it.
Emerson, who criticised everybody who had an opinion, never disclosed
his. Carlyle, who filled the air with adjurations to sincerity of
conviction, carefully concealed his own. They who take credit for
advising the public what to believe should avow their own belief. Otway,
crossing the street to Dryden's house, wrote upon his door: "Here lives
Dryden, a poet and a wit." Seeing these words as he came out, Dryden
wrote under them: "Written by Otway opposite," which might mean: "This
is but a partial and friendly estimate written by my neighbour who lives
over the way, opposite to me"; or, it might mean that "It is written by
Otway--the very 'opposite' of 'a poet and a wit.'" Janus sentences
are the very grace of satire, because they offer a mitigating or a
complimentary construction; but in questions of conscience, ethics, or
politics, uncertainty is an evil--an evil worth remembering where it can
be avoided.

"Socialists" were liable to indictment who officiated in a place not
licensed as a place of worship. Such a license could be obtained on
making a declaration on oath that their discourses were founded on
belief in the cardinal tenets of the Church. Two social speakers were
summoned to swear this. One was the father of the late Robert Buchanan.
He and his colleague did so swear to avoid penalties, though they swore
the contrary of the truth. I joined with other colleagues in protesting
against this humiliation and ignominy. And in another way imprisonment
came to all of us. Silence or the oath was the alternative from which
there was no escape. The question then arose, "Was the existence of
Deity so certainly known to men that inability to affirm it justified
exclusion from citizenship?" Thus it was of the first moment to inquire
whether it was so or not, and what was regarded as an atheistical
investigation became a political necessity in self-defence. Was there
such conclusive knowledge of the Unknowable as to warrant the law in
making the possession of it a condition of justice and civil equality?
Thus the refutation of Theism became a form of self-defence, and without
foreseeing it, or intending it, or wishing it, I was, without any act of
my own, engaged in it.

This narrative concerns those who deplore the rise and popularity of
independent thinkers, alien to received doctrine. Few persons are aware
how or why agnostic advocacy was welcomed and extended. Surely this is
worth remembering. The tenet bore statute fruit, for the Affirmation Act
came out of it.

It will be a satisfaction to students of spiritual progress to know that
the extension and legalisation of the rights of conscience, brought no
irreverence with it. The sense that the nature of Deity was beyond the
capacity of dogmatism to define, created a feeling of profound humility
in the mind; the incapacity which disabled me from asserting the
infinite premises of Theism rendered denial an equal temerity. What
tongue can speak, what eye can see, what imagination can conceive the
marvels of the Inscrutable? I think of Deity as I think of Time, which
is with us daily. Who can explain to us that mystery? Time--noiseless,
impalpable, yet absolute--marshals the everlasting procession of nature.
It touches us in the present with the hand of Eternity, and we know it
only by finding that we were changed as it passed by us.



CHAPTER XLIV. DIFFICULTY OF KNOWING MEN

Events of the mind as well as of travel may be worth remembering.
Columbus, high on a peak of Darien, saw an unexpected sight--never to
be forgotten. Of another kind, as far as surprise was concerned, though
infinitely less important in other respects, was my first reading of a
passage of Pascal, which more than any other revealed to me a new world
of human life. The passage was the well-known exclamation:--

"What an enigma is man? What a strange, chaotic and contradictory being?
Judge of all things, feeble earth-worm, depository of the Truth, mass of
uncertainty, glory and butt of the universe, incomprehensible monster!
In truth, what is man in the midst of Nature? A cypher in respect to the
infinite; all, in comparison with nonentity: a mean betwixt nothing and
all."

Everybody knows that not only in different nations, but in the same
nation, mankind present a strange variety of qualities and passions.
The English are outspoken, the Scotch reticent, the Irish uncertain, the
American alert, the French ceremonial. Even our English counties have
their special ways of action. London is confident, Birmingham dogged,
Manchester resolute, New-castle-on-Tyne has greater modesty and greater
pride than any other place. Yes; every one agrees with Pascal that man
is a bewildering creature. He is proud and abject, generous and mean,
defiant and craven, standing up for inflexible truth, and lying in his
daily life. As Byron says, "Man is half dust, half deity." If we go far
enough in our search we find people of all qualities. Everybody sees
these characteristics of countries and classes. Everybody recognises
these conflicting elements of character in a race; but what amazed me
was to perceive that they are to be found in _each_ person in varying
proportion and force--they are all there. The varieties of the race are
to be found in the same individual. No man who understands this
ever looks upon society as he did before. Not knowing this fact, not
calculating upon it, error, distrust, disappointment, estrangement, grow
up needlessly.

Twice within the public recollection, two political parties in England
have been formed, and made furious by a common ignorance. During the
great Slave War in America, the Southern planter was held up as a
gentleman of polished manners, of cultivated tastes, a paternal master
and courteous host By others he was described as selfish, sensual,
tyrannical, with whom any guest who betrayed sympathy with slaves had an
unpleasant time. Both accounts were true. The same model gentleman who
showered upon you courtly attentions would tar and feather you if he
found you display emotion when you heard the shriek of the slave under
the whip. Later, Parliament, the press, and the Church were divided upon
the character of the Turk. One party said he was tolerant, picturesque,
abounding in concessions and hospitality. The other party described him
as subtle, evasive, treacherous, vicious, and cruel. No one seemed to
recognise that all the while he was both these things. He was an
adept in personal deference, generous in professions, evasive and
treacherous--in short, "Abdul the Damned." To those from whom the Sultan
had anything to hope, his graciousness was superb--to those at his mercy
he was rapacious and murderous.

The Circassians will offer their daughters to the Turk--they send
their virgin beauty into the market of lust, and then fight for the
purchasers. The Hindoos seem a gentle, unresisting, rice-minded people;
yet have such capacity of heroic and vigilant reticence, that though we
have been masters of India for one hundred and fifty years, it is said
by experienced officials, we do not know the real mind of a single man.
The Zulus have savage instincts and habits; but they are honest, speak
the truth, and despise a man who is angry or excited.

Thiers, the great French statesman, had trust in individuals, but
despised the masses. Yet the masses pulled down the Bastile, where only
gentlemen were imprisoned and not themselves. The masses were moved by a
generous dislike of oppression as strongly as Thiers himself.

President Washington, looking only at the corruption of classes he came
in contact with, predicted evil to the future of American society. Yet,
one hundred years after, a latent nobleness of sentiment appeared, which
gave a million of lives in order that black men with large feet, as was
scornfully said, should be free.

Because oppression had made, for years, assassination frequent in
Italy, many thought every man carried a stiletto, and did not know that
Italians are more patient and cooler-headed on great occasions than
Englishmen or Frenchmen.

The Irish do not conceal that they are our enemies, and ruin every
English movement in which they mingle, yet who have such brightness,
drollery of imagination as they? Or who will stand by a friend of their
country at the peril of their lives without hesitation as they do?

The Scotch display in contest a sort of divine ferocity, such as we read
of in the Old Testament. Their battle song at Flodden ran thus:--

     "Burn their women, lean and ugly,
     Burn their children, great and small,
     In the hut and in the palace,
     Prince and peasant--burn them all.

     Plunge them in the swelling torrents
     With their gear and with their goods;
     Spare--while breath remains--no Saxon,
     Drown them in the roaring floods."

The Irish could not excel this rage of hell. Yet the same race gave us
Burns and Sir Walter Scott, which no seer would have predicted or any
would believe. The Scotch have deliberate generosity. Though narrow in
piety they are broad in politics and have veracity in their bones.

It concerns us to notice that in every _individual_ there is the same
variety of qualities which exist in the race. Not to understand this is
to misunderstand everybody with whom we come in contact. Take the
case of a man in whom personal ambition predominates. That implies
the existence of other qualities which may be even estimable, though
subordinated to ends of power. William, the Norman Conqueror, had a
gracious manner to any who lent themselves to further his ends; but, as
Tennyson tells us, he was "stark as Death to those who crossed him."
The first Napoleon gave thrones to generals who would occupy them in his
interest, or as his instruments. The third Napoleon was very courteous
even to workmen, so long as he believed they would be on his side in
the streets; but their throats were not safe in the corridor outside his
audience chamber, if he distrusted them.

This unexpected blandishment confused the strong brain of John Arthur
Roebuck, who, under the influence of Bonapartean courtesy, forgot that
he had become Emperor by perjury and murder. A man caring above all
things for power will give anything to acquire it or hold it. If any one
will help him even to plunder others, he will share the plunder with a
liberal hand among his confederates, who proclaim him as a most amiable,
generous, and disinterested gentleman. To them he is so. The political
world and private life also abounds in men who, like Byron's captain,
was the "best-mannered gentleman who ever scuttled a ship or cut a
throat."

There are very few who say as Byron elsewhere wrote:--

     "I wish men to be free,
     From Kings or mobs--from you or me."

The point of importance is that in judging a man we should accustom
ourselves to see all about him, and, while we hate the evil, not shut
our eyes to what there may be of good in the same person.

For objects of popularity men will encounter peril in promoting measures
of public utility, and though they care more for themselves than for the
public, the public profit by their ambition. Provided it is understood
that these advocates are not to be depended upon any longer than it
answers their purpose, nobody is discouraged when they take up with
something else, which better serves their ends.

Men like Mr. Gladstone have a passion for conscience in politics; or,
like Mr. Bright, have a passion for justice in public affairs; or,
like Mr. Mill, have a passion for truth; or, like Mr. Cobden, who had
a passion for national prosperity founded on freedom and peace--will
encounter labour and obloquy with courage, and regard applause only as
a happy accident, caring mainly for the consciousness of duty done.
However, this class of men are not numerous, but command honour when
known.

Men of the average sort very much resemble fishes, except that they are
less quiet and not so graceful in their movements. There is the Pholas
Dactylus, which resembles a small, animated sausage with a pudding head.
His plan of life is to bore a perfectly tubular passage in the soft sand
rock on the sea-side, and lie there with his cunning head at the mouth
of his dwelling and snap up the smaller creatures who wander heedlessly
by. Sometimes a near relative has made a dwelling-place at right angles
to the direction in which he has elected to make his residence. He does
not consult the rights or convenience of any one, but bores straight
through his father or his mother-in-law. There are many persons who
do the same thing. There is the subtle and picturesque devil fish, who
hides himself in the sedge and opens his mouth like a railway tunnel.
With the fishing-rod which Nature attaches to his nose, the end of which
is contrived like a bait, he switches the bright water until fish run
forward, when he draws it cleverly up, and the foolish, impetuous, and
unobservant creatures rush down his cavernous and treacherous throat He
offers a bait, not to feed them, but to feed himself. If people had
only eyes to see, there are devil fish about in the sedges of daily
life--political, clerical, and social. There is the octopus, with its
long, aimless arms, as silent and lifeless as seaweed. It lies about as
idle, as soft, as flexible, and as easy as error, or intemperance, or
dishonesty. But let any edible thing approach it, and every limb starts
into energy, every fibre is alive, every muscle contracts, and the thing
seized dies in its inextricable and iron arms. People abound of the
octopus species, and it is prudent to avoid them. However, the bad are
not so many as are supposed. Yet, when we consider that, upon a moderate
calculation, a fool a day is born--and doubtless a knave a day to keep
him company--there must be some dubious people about.

A common mistake is that of taking offence at some unpleasant quality,
and never looking to see whether there be not others for which we may
tolerate and even respect a man. A person is often judged by a single
quality, and sometimes by a single word. Persons who have lived long
years in amity take offence at one expression. It may be uttered in
passion; it may be spoken in mere lightness of heart, with no intention
and no idea of offending--yet it enters into the foolish blood of those
who hear it, and poisons the mind evermore. Nevertheless every man who
reflects knows that those are fortunate and even miraculously skilful
people, who can always say exactly what they intend to say, and no more.
What resource of language--what insight of the minds of others--what
mastery of phrases--what subtlety of discrimination--what perspicuity
of statement must he possess who can express his every idea with such
unerring accuracy that no word shall be redundant, or deficient, or
ambiguous; and that another shall understand the speaker precisely as he
understands himself! Yet by a chance phrase what friendships have been
severed--what enmity has arisen--what estrangements, even in households,
have occurred from these small and incidental causes? All memory of the
tenderness, the kindness, the patient and generous service of years
is often obliterated by a single word! The error people make is--that
everything said is intended. Yet out of the many qualities every man
has, and by which any man may be moved, a single passion may go mad in
a mind unwatchful. Not only hatred or anger, but love will go mad and
commit murder, which is often but the insanity of a minute. Yet nobody
remembers that all are liable to insanity of speech.

What a wonderful thing is perfection! It must be very rare. Yet some
people are always looking for it in others who never offer any example
of it in themselves. It is not, however, to be had anywhere. All we are
entitled to look for is that the good in any individual shall in some
general way predominate over the bad. We have need to be thankful if we
find this. The late George Peabody was not a mean man, though he would
stand in the rain at Charing Cross, waiting for a cheap omnibus to the
City. There was a threepenny one waiting, but one with a twopenny fare
would come up soon--Mr. Peabody would wait for it Making money was the
habit of his mind, and he made it in the street as well as the office,
and having made it, gave it away with a more than royal hand.

One Sunday I rode in a Miles Platting tram car, amid decorous,
well-dressed chapel-going people--several of them young and active. A
child fell out of the tram, whose mother was too feeble to follow it. No
one moved, save a woman of repulsive expression, with whom any one might
suppose her neighbours had a bad time. She seemed the least desirable
person to know of all the passengers; yet this woman, on seeing the
child lying in the road, at once leapt out of the tram, brought the
child back and put it tenderly into its mother's arms. Intrepid humanity
may dwell in a very rough exterior.

There goes a man with a hard, forbidding face, and a headachy
Evangelical complexion. Like the man mentioned in the last paper, he is
not an alluring person to know--those at his fireside have a dreary time
of it. His children have joyless Sundays. He is a street preacher.
His voice is harsh and painful. He howls "glad tidings" at the street
corner. He is wanting in the first elements of reverence--those of
modesty and taste. Yet this same man has kindness and generosity in his
heart After his hard day's work is done he will give the evening,
which others spend in pleasure, to try and save some casual soul in the
street.

Though we continually forget it, we know that men are full of mixed
qualities and unequal passions. Ignorance of this renders one of the
noblest passages of Shakespeare dangerous if misapplied:

     "To thine own self be true,
     And it must follow as the night the day,
     Thou canst not then be false to any man."

But what is a man's "own self"? It all lies there. Tell the liar, the
thief, the forger, or the ruffian to be true to himself, and any one
knows what will follow. Polonius knew the heart of Laertes, and to him
he could say, "to thine own self be true." We must be sure of the nature
of him whom we advise to follow himself.*

     * Cicero appears to have thought of this when he said:
     "Every roan ought carefully to follow out his peculiar
     character, provided it is only peculiar, and not vicious,"

What is or what can be the object of education but to strengthen by
precept, habit and environment the better qualities of human nature;
and to divert, repress, or subordinate where we cannot extinguish
hereditary, unethical tendencies? Though we deny--or do not steadily
see--that nations as well as individuals have capacities for good
as well as evil, we admit it when we attempt to create international
influences, which shall promote civilisation.

If any would avoid the disappointment of ignorance and the alarms of
the foolish, let him learn to look with unamazed expectancy at what will
appear on the ocean of Society. Do not look in men for the qualities you
want to find, or for qualities you imagine they ought to have, but look
with unexpectant eyes for what you can find. Do not expect perfection,
but a few good points only, and be glad if you find them, and be
tolerant of what is absent. Of him of this way of thinking it may be
said, as was said of Charles Lamb: "He did not merely love his friends
in spite of their errors, he loved them errors and all." Whoever remains
under the delusion that nations and men possess only special qualities,
and not all qualities in different stages of development, will hate
them foolishly, praise them without reason, and will never know men.
But whoever understands the trend of things in this ever-changing,
uncontrollable world, where

     "Our fate comes to us from afar,
     Where others made us what we are,"

will utter the prayer of Sadi, the Persian poet: "O God! have pity on
the wicked, for Thou hast done everything for the good in having made
them good." A prayer worth remembering.



CHAPTER XLV. IDEAS FOR THE YOUNG

There are people who live many years and never grow old. We call
them "young patriarchs." Limit not the golden dreams of youth, which,
however, would be none the worse for a touch of the patriarch in them.
There is sense in youth, and it will assimilate the experience of age if
displayed before rather than thrust upon it. Youth should be incited to
think for itself, and to select from the wisdom it finds in the world.
Then the question comes--what is safe to take? That is the time for
words of suggestion. Every one has read of the fox, who seeing a crow
with a piece of cheese in her bill, told her "she had a splendid voice,
and did herself an injustice by not singing." The credulous crow began
a note, dropped the piece of cheese, with which the fox ran away. This
trick is always being played. Among young persons there are a great
number of crows. A youth is given a situation where advancement goes
with assiduity. A fox-headed comrade or clerk below him tells him his
"work is beneath his talents, and he ought to get something better."
Discontent breeds negligence. He loses his place, when the treacherous
prompter, whom he took to be his friend, slips into his situation, and
finds it quite satisfactory.

In public affairs, in which youth seldom takes part, many are confused
by pretences which they understand when too late. A person puts forward
an excellent project, and finds it assailed and disparaged by some one
he thought would support it. Discouraged by opposition, he comes
to doubt the validity of the enterprise he had in hand. When he has
abandoned it he finds it taken up by the very person who denounced it,
and who claims credit for what he has opposed. All the while he has
thought highly of the scheme, but wanted to have the credit of it
himself, and therefore defamed it until he could get it into his own
hands. This sort of thing is done in Parliament as well as in business.
It is only by listening to the experience of others that youth can
acquire wariness and guard against serious mistakes.

The young on entering life are often dismayed by dolorous speeches by
persons who have never comprehended the nature of the world in which
they find themselves. People are told "a great crisis in public affairs
is at hand." There never was a time in the history of the world when a
"crisis" was not at hand. Nature works by crises. Progress is made up of
crises through which mankind has passed. Again there breaks forth upon
the ears of inexperienced youth the alarming information that society is
"in a transition state." Every critic, every preacher, every politician,
is always saying this. Yet there never was a time when society was
not in a "transition state." According to the Genesian legend, Adam
discovered this in his day, when, a few weeks after his advent, he found
himself outside the gates of Paradise, and all the world and all
the creatures in it thrown into a state of unending perturbation and
discomfort which has not ceased to this day. The eternal condition of
human life is change, and he who is wise learns early to adapt himself
to it. As Dr. Arnold said, there is nothing so dangerous as standing
still when all the world is moving.

The young are bewildered by being left under the impression that they
should learn everything. Whereas all they need is to know thoroughly
what their line of duty in life requires them to know. No man can read
all the books in the British Museum, were arrangements made for his
sleeping there. No one is expected to eat all he finds in the market,
but only so much as makes a reasonable meal. Lord Sherbrooke translated
from the Greek guiding lines of Homer who said of a learner of his
day:--

     "He could not reap, he could not sow,
     Nor was he wise at all:
     For very many arts he knew,
     But badly knew them all."

The conditions of personal advancement can only be learned by observing
the steps of those who have succeeded. Disraeli, whose success was the
wonder of his time, owed it to following the shrewd maxim that he who
wants to advance must make himself necessary to those whom he has the
opportunity of serving. This can be done in any station in life by
skill, assiduity and trustworthiness.

Practical thoroughness is an essential quality which gives great
advantage in life. Spurgeon had a great appreciation of it A servant
girl applied to him for a situation on the ground that she "had got
religion." "Yes," said the great pulpit orator, "that is a very good
thing if it takes a useful turn; but do you sweep under the mats?" he
asked, cleanliness being a sign of godliness in the eyes of the sensible
preacher.

Cleanliness is possible to the very poorest--walls which have no paper
might have whitewash. Children should never see dirt anywhere. They
should never come upon it lying out of sight. Fever and death lurk in
neglected corners. Children may be in rags, but if they are clean rags
and the children are clean, they are, however poor, respectable. When I
first went to speak in Glasgow, it was in a solemn old hall, up a wynd.
The place was in the Candleriggs. Everybody knows what a dark, clammy,
pasty, muddy, depressing thoroughfare is the Candleriggs in wintry
weather.

The passage leading to the lecture hall and the steps which had to be
ascended were all murky and dirty; as in those days the passage leading
to the publishing house of the Chambers Brothers was, as I have seen it,
an incentive to sickness. My payment for lecturing was not much, but out
of it I gave half a crown to an active woman I found in the wynd to
wash down the stairs and the passage leading to the Candleriggs, and
the space as wide as the passage along the causeway to the curb-stone.
People passing along might see signs of cleanliness leading to the hall.

I never forget what the woman said to some of the assembly as they
passed by her: "I don't know what this man (or "mon") is, who you have
to lecture to you to-day, but at least he has clean principles." That
was precisely the impression I wanted to create. My tenets might be
poor, my arguments badly clothed, but to present them in a clean state
was in my power.

Do not readily be deterred from a good cause because you will be told
it is unprofitable, but take sides with it if need be. You will find
persons born with a passion of putting the world to rights. A very good
passion for the world, but now and then a very bad thing for him who is
moved by it They have no engagement to undertake that work, no salary is
allotted for it, nor even any income coming in to pay expenses "out of
pocket," as the prudent, open-eyed lawyer puts it. Nevertheless, it may
be well to follow the Jewish rule of giving a tithe of your time to the
public service. There are a large amount of tithes contributed in other
ways which are not half so beneficial to mankind. Many whose names
now are luminous in history, whose fame is on every tongue, have been
personally known to the old. The magical notes of great singers the
living can never know, the triumphs of the great masters of speech in
Parliament and on the platform, whom it was an education to hear--only
the old can recount. What they looked like, and how they played their
memorable parts, are the enchanting secrets of the old, who tell to the
young what passed in a world unknown to them, and which has made them
what they are. The purport of this chapter is to stimulate individuality
and self-reliance. Disraeli's maxim of self-advancement was to make
himself necessary by service in the sphere in which he found himself. In
public affairs committees are not, as a rule, suggestive; they can amend
what is submitted to them; they originate nothing, and generally take
the soul out of any proposal brought before then. If they advance
business it is when some individual provides a plan to which their
consent may be of importance. Individual ideas have been the immemorial
source of progress. A committee of one will often effect more than a
committee of ten; but the committee of ten will multiply the force of
the one, and lend to it influence and authority. Seeing that ideas
come from individuals, a young person cannot do better in life than
by considering himself a committee of one, and ponder himself on every
matter of importance. This gives a habit of resourceful thought--renders
him cautious in action, and educates him in responsibility. In daily
life a man has continually to decide things for himself without the aid
of a committee. It is thus that self-trust becomes his strength.

If youth could see but a little with the eyes of their seniors, some
pleasures would seem less alluring, and they would avoid doing some
things which they will regret all their lives. Now and then some young
eye will glance at a page of bygone lore and see a gleam of inspiration,
like a torch in a forest, which reveals a bear in a bush which he had
chosen for a picnic, or discovers a bog which he had taken to be solid
ground. Proverbs come around the young observer, so fair seeming he
trusts them on sight, and does not know they are only in part guiding
and in part elusive, and have limitations which may betray him into
confident and futile extremes. Even professors will beguile him with
statements which he doubts not are true, and finds, all too late, that
they are false.

He will hear forebodings which fill him with alarm at some new
undertaking, not knowing that they are but the sounds of the footfalls
of Progress, which every generation has heard, the ignorant with terror,
and the wise with gladness. Only the relation of bygone experiences can
save the young from perilous illusions. Of course, youth is always asked
to look at things with the eyes of age, but they never do. They never
can do it, because the eyes of the old look at things with the light
of experience which, in the nature of things, youth is without.
Nevertheless, the experience of others may be good reading for them.

If in the generous eagerness of youth the heart inclines to a forlorn
hope, take it up notwithstanding its difficulties, for if youth does
not, older people are not likely to attempt it. The older are mostly too
prudent to do any good in the way of new enterprise. This is where youth
has its uses and its priceless advantage. However, it is well not to let
enthusiasm, noble as it may be, blind the devotee. Take care that the
cause espoused is sound. Take heed of the Japanese maxim,

     "The lid, if the pot be broken,
     It is no use mending."



CHAPTER XLVI. EXPERIENCES ON THE WARPATH

The late Archbishop of Canterbury spoke derisively of agitators. The
Rev. Stewart Headlam asked whether "Paul, and even our Lord Himself,
were not agitators." Mr. Headlam might have asked, where would the
Archbishop be but for that superb, irrepressible agitator Luther? The
agitator is a public advocate who speaks when others are silent. Mr.
C. D. Collet, of whom I here write, was an agitator who understood his
business.

Agitation for the public welfare is a feature of civilisation. In a
despotic land it works by what means it can. In a free country it seeks
its ends by agencies within the limits of law. The mastery of the means
left open for procuring needful change, the right use, and the full use
of these facilities, constitute the business of an agitator.

For more than fifty years I was associated with Mr. Collet in public
affairs, and I never knew any one more discerning than he in choosing
a public cause, or on promoting it with greater plenitude of resource.
Many a time he has come to my house at midnight to discuss some new
point he thought important. A good secretary is the inspirer of the
movement he represents. Mr. Collet habitually sought the opinion of
those for whom he acted. Every letter and every document was laid before
them. On points of policy or terms of expression he deferred to the
views of others, not only with acquiescence, but willingness. During the
more than twenty-four years in which I was chairman of the Travelling
Tax Abolition Committee and he was secretary, I remember no instance to
the contrary of his ready deference. His fertility of suggestion was a
constant advantage. Mr. Bright and Mr. Cobden (who had an instinct of
fitness) would select the most suitable for the purpose in hand. In
early life Mr. Collet had studied for the law, and retained a passion
for it which proved very useful where Acts of Parliament were the
barricades which had to be stormed.

Mr. Collet was educated at Bruce Castle School, conducted by the father
of Sir Rowland Hill. Collet's political convictions were shown by his
becoming secretary for the People's Charter Union, intended to restore
the Chartist movement (then mainly under Irish influence) to English
hands. In 1848, he and W. J. Linton were sent as deputies to Paris, as
bearers of English congratulations on the establishment of the Republic.
Afterwards he fell himself under the fascination of an Oriental-minded
diplomat, David Urquhart, and became a romantic Privy Council loyalist.
Mr. Urquhart was Irish, eloquent, dogmatic, and infallible--at least,
he put down with ostentatious insolence any one who ventured to demur
to anything he said. If the astounded questioner pleaded that he was
ignorant of the facts adduced, he was told his ignorance was a crime.
Mr. Urquhart believed that all wisdom lay in treaties and Blue Books,
and that the first duty of every politician was to insist on beheading
Lord Palmerston, who had betrayed England to Russia. How Mr. Collet--a
lover of freedom and inquiry--could be subjugated by doctrines which, if
not conceived in madness, were commanded by arts akin to madness, is the
greatest mystery of conversion I have known. I have seen Mr. Bright come
out of the House of Commons, and observing Mr. Collet, would advance and
offer his hand, when Mr. Collet would put his hands behind him, saying
"he could not take the hand of a man who knew Lord Palmerston was
an impostor and ought to know he was a traitor, and still maintained
political relations with him." Yet Mr. Collet had great and well-founded
regard for Mr. Bright.

It was an intrepid undertaking to attempt a repeal of taxes which for
143 years had fettered, as they were designed to do, knowledge from
reaching the people. The history of this achievement was given in the
_Weekly Times and Echo_, While these taxes were in force, neither
cheap newspapers nor cheap books could exist. Since their repeal great
newspapers and great publishing houses have arisen. While these Acts
were in force every newspaper proprietor was treated as a blasphemer and
a writer of sedition, and compelled to give securities of £300 against
the exercise of his infamous tendencies; every paper-maker was regarded
as a thief, and the officers of the Excise dogged every step of his
business with hampering, exacting, and humiliating suspicion. Every
reader found with an unstamped paper in his possession was liable to
a fine of £20. The policy of our agitation was to observe scrupulous
fairness to every Government with which we came in contact, and to heads
of departments with whom unceasing war was waged. Their personal honour
was never confused with the mischievous Acts they were compelled to
enforce. Our rule was steadfastness in fairness and courtesy. The
cardinal principle of agitation Collet maintained was that the most
effectual way to obtain the repeal of a bad law was to insist upon it
being carried out, when its effect would soon be resented by those
who maintain its application to others. Charles Dickens' "Household
Narrative of Current Events," published weekly, was a violation of the
Act which required news to be a month old when published on unstamped
paper. Dickens was not selected from malice, for he was friendly to the
freedom of the press, but from policy, as an Act carried out which would
ruin a popular favourite like Dickens, would excite indignation against
it. A clamour was raised by friends in Parliament against the supineness
of the Inland Revenue Board, for tolerating a wealthy metropolitan
offender, while it prosecuted and relentlessly ruined small men in the
provinces for doing the same thing. Bright called attention in the House
to the Electric Telegraph Company, who were advertising every night in
the lobbies news, not an hour old, on unstamped paper, in violation of
the law.

It took thirty years of supplication to get art galleries open on
Sunday, when the application of the law to the privilege of the rich
would have opened them in ten years. The rich are allowed to violate
the law against working on Sundays, for which the poor man is fined
and imprisoned. An intelligent committee on the Balfour-Chamberlain
principle of Retaliation would soon put an end to the laws which hamper
the progress.

Professor Alexander Bain, remarkable for his fruitfulness in philosophic
device, asked my opinion on a project of constructing a barometer of
personal character, which varies by time and event. Everybody is aware
of somebody who has changed, but few notice that every one is changing
daily, for better or for worse. What Bain wanted was to contrive some
instrument by which these variations could be denoted.

No doubt men must be judged on the balance of their ascertained merits.
Bishop Butler's maxim that "Probability is the guide of life," implies
proportion, and is the rule whereby character is to be judged. For years
I conceived a strong dislike of Sir Robert Peel, because, as Secretary
of State, he refused the petition of Mrs. Carlile to be allowed to leave
the prison (where she ought never to have been sent) before the time of
her accouchement Peel's refusal was unfeeling and brutal. Yet in after
life it was seen that Sir Robert possessed great qualities, and made
great sacrifices in promoting the public good; and I learned to hold in
honour one whom I had hated for half a century.

For many years I entertained an indifferent estimate of Sir William
Harcourt. It began when my friend Mr. E. J. H. Craufurd, M.P.,
challenged him to a duel, which he declined--justifiably it might be, as
he was a larger man than his antagonist, and offered a wider surface
for bullets. Declining was meritorious in my eyes, as duels had then a
political prestige, and there was courage in refusing. The cause of the
challenge I thought well founded. In the earlier years of Sir William's
Parliamentary life I had many opportunities of observing him, and
thought he appeared as more contented with himself than any man is
entitled to be on this side of the Millennium. When member for Oxford as
a Liberal, he declared against payment of members of Parliament on the
ground of expense. The expense would have been one halfpenny a year to
each elector. This seemed to me so insincere that I ceased to count
him as a Liberal who could be trusted. Yet all the while he had great
qualities as a combatant of the highest order, in the battles of
Liberalism, who sacrificed himself, lost all prospect of higher
distinction, and incurred the undying rage of the rich (who have
Canning's "ignorant impatience" of taxation) by instituting death
duties, services which entitled him to honour and regard.

I heard Lord Salisbury's acrid, sneering, insulting, contemptuous
speeches in the House of Commons against working men seeking the
franchise. What gave this man the right to speak with bitterness and
scorn of the people whose industry kept him in the opulence he so little
deserved? Some friends of mine, who had personal intercourse with him,
described him as a fair-spoken gentleman. All the while, and to the end
of his days, he had the cantankerous tongue in diplomacy which brought
contempt and distrust upon Englishmen abroad, while his jests at Irish
members of Parliament, whom his Government had subjected to humiliation
in prison, denoted, thought many, the innate savagery of his order,
when secure from public retribution--which people should remember who
continue its impunity. Difference of opinion is to be respected, but it
is difficult even for philosophy to condone scorn. If recklessness in
language be the mark of inferiority in workmen, what is it in those of
high position who compromise a nation by their ungoverned tongues?

Among things bygone are certain ideas of popular influence which have
had their day--some too long a day, judging from their effects. The
general misconceptions in them still linger in some minds, and it may be
useful to recall a prominent one.

The madness of thoroughness are two words I have never seen brought
together, yet they are allied oftener than most persons suppose.
Thoroughness, in things which concern others, has limits. Justness is
greater than thoroughness. There is great fascination in being thorough.
A man should be thorough as far as he can. This implies that he must
have regard to the rights and reasonable convenience of others, which is
the natural limit of all the virtues. Sometimes a politician will adopt
the word "thorough" as his motto, forgetful that it was the motto of
Strafford, who was a despot on principle, and who perished through the
terror which his success inspired. Cromwell was thorough in merciless
massacres, which have made his name hateful in Irish memory for three
centuries, perpetuating the distrust of English rule. Vigour is a
notable attribute, but unless it stops short of rigour, it jeopardises
itself.

Thorough means the entire carrying out of a principle to its end. This
can rarely be done in human affairs. When a person finds he cannot do
all he would, he commonly does nothing, whereas his duty is to do what
he can--to continue to assert and maintain the principle he thinks
right, and persist in its application to the extent of his power. To
suspend endeavour at the point where persistence would imperil the just
right of others, is the true compromise in which there is no shame,
as Mr. John Morley, in his wise book on "Compromise," has shown.
Temperance--a word of infinite wholesomeness in every department of
life, because it means use and restraint--has been retarded and
rendered repellent to thousands by the "thorough" partisans who have
put prohibition into it Can absolute prohibition be enforced universally
where conviction is opposed, without omnipresent tyranny, which makes
it hateful instead of welcome? Even truth itself, the golden element
of trust and progress, has to be limited by relevance, timeliness and
utility. He who would speak everything he knows or believes to be true,
to all persons, at all times, in every place, would soon become the most
intolerable person in every society, and make lying itself a relief. A
man should stand by the truth and act upon it, wherever he can, and he
should be known by his fidelity to it But that is a very different thing
from obtruding it in unseemly ways, in season and out of season, which
has ruined many a noble cause. The law limits its exaction of truth to
evidence necessary for justice. There are cases, such as occurred during
the Civil War of emancipation in America, where slave-hunters would
demand of the man, who had seen a fugitive slave, pass by, "which way he
had run." The humane bystander questioned, would point in the opposite
direction. Had he pointed truly, it would have cost the slave his life.
This was lying for humanity, and it would be lying to call it by any
other name, for it _was_ lying. Thoroughness would have murdered the
fugitive.

The thoroughness of the Puritans brought upon the English nation the
calamities of the Restoration. Richelieu, in France, was thorough in his
policy of centralisation. He was a butcher on principle, and his name
became a symbol of murder. He circumvented everything, and pursued every
one with implacable ferocity, who was likely to withstand him. He put
to death persons high and low, he destroyed municipalism in France, and
changed the character of political society for the worse. The French
Revolutionists did but tread in the footsteps of the political priest.
They were all thorough, and as a consequence they died by each other's
hands, and ruined liberty in France and in Europe. The gospel of
thoroughness was preached by Carlyle and demoralised Continental
Liberals. In the revolution of 1848 they spared lives all round. They
even abolished the punishment of death.

But when Louis Napoleon applied the doctrine of "thorough" to the
greatest citizens of Paris, and shot, imprisoned, or exiled statesmen,
philosophers and poets, Madame Pulzsky said to me, the "Republicans
thought their leniency a mistake, and if they had power again they
would cut everybody's throat who stood in the way of liberty." As usual,
thoroughness had begotten ferocity.

Carlyle's eminent disciples of thoroughness justified the massacre and
torture of the blacks in Jamaica, for which Tennyson, Kingsley, and
others defended Governor Eyre. Lord Cardwell, in the House of Commons,
admitted in my hearing that there had been "unnecessary executions."
"Unnecessary executions" are murders--but in thoroughness unnecessary
executions are not counted. Wherever we have heard of pitilessness
in military policy, or in speeches in our Parliament, we see
exemplifications of the gospel of Thoroughness, which is madness if not
limited by justice and forbearance.

Conventional thoroughness dwells in extremes. If political economy was
thoroughly carried out, there might be great wealth, but no happiness.
Enjoyment is waste, since it involves expenditure. The Inquisition,
which made religion a name of terror, was but thoroughness in piety.
Pope, himself a Catholic, warned us that--

     "For virtue's self may too much zeal be had.
     The worst of madness is a saint run mad."

Fanatics forget (they would not be fanatics if they remembered) that in
public affairs, true thoroughness is limited by the rights of others.
There is no permanent progress without this consideration. The best of
eggs will harden if boiled too much. The mariner who takes no account of
the rocks, wrecks his ship--which it is not profitable to forget.

It is natural that those who crave practical knowledge of the unseen
world should look about the universe for some chink, through which they
can see what goes on there, and believe they have met with truants
who have made disclosures to them. I have no commerce of that kind to
relate. It is hard to think that when Jupiter is silent--when the Head
of the Gods speaketh not--that He allows angels with traitor tongues to
betray to men the mysteries of the world He has Himself concealed.
Can it be that He permits wayward ghosts to creep over the boundary of
another world and babble His secrets at will? This would imply
great lack of discipline at the outposts of paradise. There is great
fascination in clandestine communication with the kingdom of the dead.
I own that noises of the night, not heard in the day, seem supernatural.
The wind sounds like the rush of the disembodied--hinges creak with
human emotion--winds moan against window panes like persons in pain.
Creatures of the air and earth flit or leap in pursuit of prey, like the
shadows of ghosts or the furtive steps of murdered souls. Are they more
than

     "The sounds sent down at night
     By birds of passage in their flight"?

For believing less where others believe more, for expressing decision of
opinion which the reader may resent, I do but follow in the footsteps of
Confucius, who, as stated by Allen Upward, "declared that a principle
of belief or even a rule of morality binding on himself need not bind a
disciple whose own conscience did not enjoin it on him." Confucius, says
his expositor, thus "reached a height to which mankind have hardly yet
lifted their eyes, and announced a freedom compared with which ours is
an empty name."



CHAPTER XLVII. LOOKING BACKWARDS

It seems to me that I cannot more appropriately conclude these chapters
of bygone events within my own experience, than by a summary of those
of the past condition of industry which suggest a tone of manly
cheerfulness and confidence in the future, not yet common among the
people. Changes of condition are not estimated as they pass, and when
they have passed, many never look back to calculate their magnificence
or insignificance. This chapter is an attempt to show the change of the
environment of a great class of a character to decrease apprehension
and augment hope. The question answered herein is: "Did things go better
before our time?"

When this question is put to me I answer "No." Things did not go better
before my time--nor that of the working class who were contemporaries
of my earlier years. My answer is given from the working class point of
view, founded on a personal experience extending as far back as 1824,
when I first became familiar with workshops. Many are still under the
impression that things are as bad as they well can be, whereas they
have been much worse than they are now. When I first took an interest in
public affairs, agitators among the people were as despondent as frogs
who were supposed to croak because they were neglected.

They spoke in weeping tones. There were tears even in the songs of
Ebenezer Elliot, the Corn-Law Rhymer,* and not without cause, for the
angels would have been pessimists, had they been in the condition of
the people in those days. I myself worked among men who had Unitarian
masters--who were above the average of employers--even they were as
sheep-dogs who kept the wolf away, but bit the sheep if they turned
aside. But Trades Unions have changed this now, and sometimes bite their
masters (employers they are called now), which is not more commendable.
Still, multitudes of working people, who ought to be in the front ranks
as claimants for redress still needed, yet hang back with handkerchief
to their eyes, oppressed with a feeling of hopelessness, because they
are unaware of what has been won for them, of what has been conceded to
them, and what the trend of progress is bringing nearer to them.

     * Thomas Cooper--himself a Chartist poet--published (1841)
     in Elliot's days a hymn by William Jones--a Leicester poet--
     of which the first verse began thus:

          "Come my fellow-slaves of Britain.
          Rest, awhile, the weary limb;
          Pour your plaints, ye bosom-smitten,
          In a sad and solemn hymn."

Of course if there has been no betterment in the condition of the
people, despair is excusable--but if there has, despair is as unseemly
as unnecessary. Every age has its needs and its improvements to make,
but a knowledge of what has been accomplished should take despair out of
workmen's minds. To this end I write of changes which have taken place
in my time.

I was born in tinder-box days. I remember having to strike a light in my
grandfather's garden for his early pipe, when we arrived there at five
o'clock in the morning. At times my fingers bled as I missed the steel
with the jagged flint. Then the timber proved damp where the futile
spark fell, and when ignition came a brimstone match filled the air with
satanic fumes. He would have been thought as much a visionary as Joanna
Southcott, who said the time would come when small, quick-lighting
lucifers would be as plentiful and as cheap as blades of grass. How
tardy was change in olden time! Flint and steel had been in use four
hundred years. Philip the Good put it into the collar of the Golden
Fleece (1429). It was not till 1833 that phosphorus matches were
introduced. The safety match of the present day did not appear until
1845. The consumption of matches is now about eight per day for each
person. To produce eight lights, by a tinder-box, would take a quarter
of an hour With the lucifer match eight lights can be had in two
minutes, occupying only twelve hours a year, while the tinder box
process consumes ninety hours. Thus the lucifer saves nearly eighty
hours annually, which, to the workman, would mean an addition of nearly
eight working days to the year.

In tinder-box days the nimble night burglar heard the flint and steel
going, and had time to pack up his booty and reach the next parish,
before the owner descended the stairs with his flickering candle. Does
any one now fully appreciate the morality of light? Extinguish the gas
in the streets of London and a thousand extra policemen would do less to
prevent outrage and robbery than the ever-burning, order-keeping street
light. Light is a police force--neither ghosts nor burglars like it.
Thieves flee before it as errors flee the mind when the light of truth
bursts on the understanding of the ignorant.

Seventy years ago the evenings were wasted in a million houses of the
poor. After sundown the household lived in gloom. Children who could
read, read, as I did, by the flickering light of the fire, which often
limited for life the power of seeing. Now the pauper reads by a better
light than the squire did in days when squires were county gods. Now old
men see years after the period when their forefathers were blind.

Then a social tyranny prevailed, unpleasant to the rich and costly to
the poor, which regarded the beard as an outrage. I remember when only
four men in Birmingham had courage to wear beards. They were followers
of Joanna Southcott. They did it in imitation of the apostles, and were
jeered at in the streets by ignorant Christians. George Frederick Muntz,
one of the two first members elected in Birmingham, was the first member
who ventured to wear a beard in the House of Commons; and he would have
been insulted had not he been a powerful man and carried a heavy Malacca
cane, which he was known to apply to any one who offered him a personal
affront. Only military officers were allowed to wear a moustache; among
them--no one, not even Wellington, was hero enough to wear a beard. The
Rev. Edmund R. Larken, of Burton Rectory, near Lincoln, was the first
clergyman (that was as late as 1852) who appeared in the pulpit with a
beard, but he shaved the upper lip as an apology for the audacity of his
chin; George Dawson was the first Nonconformist preacher who delivered
a sermon in a full-blown moustache and beard, which was taken in both
cases as an unmistakable sign of latitudinarianism in doctrine. In the
bank clerk or the workman it was worse. It was flat insubordination not
to shave. The penalty was prompt dismissal. As though there were not
fetters about hard to bear, people made fetters for themselves. Such was
the daintiness of ignorance that a man could not eat, dress, nor even
think as he pleased. He was even compelled to shave by public opinion.

When Mr. Joseph Cowen was first a candidate for Parliament, he wore, as
was his custom, a felt hat (then called a "wide-awake"). He was believed
to be an Italian conspirator, and suspected of holding opinions lacking
in orthodox requirements. Yet all his reputed heresies of acts and
tenets put together did not cost him so many votes as the form and
texture of his hat. He was elected--but his headgear would have ruined
utterly a less brilliant candidate than he This social intolerance now
shows its silly and shameless head no more. A wise Tolerance is the
Angel, which stands at the portal of Progress, and opens the door of the
Temple.

Dr. Church, of Birmingham, was the first person who, in my youth,
contrived a bicycle, and rode upon it in the town, which excited
more consternation than a Southcottean with his beard. He was an able
physician, but his harmless innovation cost him his practice. Patients
refused to be cured by a doctor who rode a horse which had no head, and
ate no oats. Now a parson may ride to church on a bicycle and people
think none the worse of his sermon; and, scandal of scandals, women
are permitted to cycle, although it involves a new convenience of dress
formerly sharply resented.

In these days of public wash-houses, public laundries, and water supply,
few know the discomfort of a washing day in a workman's home, or of the
feuds of a party pump. One pump in a yard had to serve several families.
Quarrels arose as to who should first have the use of it. Sir Edwin
Chadwick told me that more dissensions arose over party pumps in a day
than a dozen preachers could reconcile in a week. Now the poorest house
has a water tap, which might be called moral, seeing the ill-feeling it
prevents. So long as washing had to be done at home, it took place in
the kitchen, which was also the dining-room of a poor family. When the
husband came home to his meals, damp clothes were hanging on lines over
his head, and dripping on to his plate. The children were in the way,
and sometimes the wrong child had its ears boxed because, in the steam,
the mother could not see which was which. This would give rise to
further expressions which kept the Recording Angel, of whom Sterne tells
us, very busy, whom the public wash-houses set free for other, though
scarcely less repugnant duty.

In that day sleeping rooms led to deplorable additions to the register
of "idle words." The introduction of iron bedsteads began a new era of
midnight morality. As a wandering speaker I dreaded the wooden bedstead
of cottage, lodging-house or inn. Fleas I did not much care for, and
had no ill-will towards them. They were too little to be responsible for
what they did; while the malodorous bug is big enough to know better.
Once in Windsor I selected an inn with a white portico, having an air
of pastoral cleanliness. The four-poster in my room, with its white
curtains, was a further assurance of repose. The Boers were not more
skilful in attack and retreat than the enemies I found in the field.
Lighted candles did not drive them from the kopje pillow where they
fought. In Sheffield, in 1840, I asked the landlady for an uninhabited
room. A cleaner looking, white-washed chamber never greeted my eyes.
But I soon found that a whole battalion of red-coated cannibals were
stationed there, on active service. Wooden bedsteads in the houses of
the poor were the fortresses of the enemy, which then possessed the
land. Iron bedsteads have ended this, and given to the workman two hours
more sleep at night than was possible before that merciful invention. A
gain of two hours for seven nights amounted to a day's holiday a
week. Besides, these nocturnal irritations were a fruitful source of
tenemental sin, from which iron bedsteads have saved residents and
wayfarers.

Of all the benefits that have come to the working class in my time,
those of travel are among the greatest. Transit by steam has changed
the character of man, and the facilities of the world. Nothing brings
toleration into the mind like seeing new lands, new people, new usages.
They who travel soon discover that other people have genius, manners,
and taste. The traveller loses on his way prejudices of which none could
divest him at home, and he brings back in his luggage new ideas never
contained in it before. Think what the sea-terror of the emigrant
used to be, as he thought of the dreadful voyage over the tempestuous
billows. The first emigrants to America were six months in the
_Mayflower_. Now a workman can go from Manchester into the heart of
America or Canada in a fortnight. The deadly depression which weighed
on the heart of home-sick emigrants occurs no more, since he can return
almost at will. A mechanic can now travel farther than a king could
a century ago. When I first went to Brighton, third-class passengers
travelled in an open cattle truck, exposed to wind and rain. For years
the London and North-Western Railway shunted the third-class passengers
at Blisworth for two hours, while the gentlemen's trains went by. Now
workmen travel in better carriages than gentlemen did half a century
ago. In Newcastle-on-Tyne I have entered a third-class carriage at a
quarter to five in the morning. It was like Noah's Ark. The windows were
openings which in storm were closed by wooden shutters to keep out wind
and rain, when all was darkness. It did not arrive in London till nine
o'clock in the evening, being sixteen hours on the journey. Now the
workman can leave New-castle at ten o'clock in the morning, and be in
London in the afternoon.

Does any one think what advantage has come to the poor by the extension
of dentistry? Teeth are life-givers. They increase comeliness, comfort,
health and length of years--advantages now shared more or less by the
poorer classes--once confined to the wealthy alone. Formerly the sight
of dental instruments struck terror in the heart of the patient Now,
fear arises when few instruments are seen, as the more numerous they
are and the more skilfully they are made, the assurance of less pain
is given. The simple instruments which formerly alarmed give confidence
now, which means that the patient is wiser than of yore.

Within the days of this generation what shrieks were heard in
the hospital, which have been silenced for ever by a discovery of
pain-arresting chloroform! No prayer could still the agony of the knife.
The wise surgeon is greater than the priest. If any one would know
what pain was in our time, let him read Dr. John Brown's "Rab and his
Friends," which sent a pang of dangerous horror into the heart of every
woman who read it. Now the meanest hospital gives the poorest patient
who enters it a better chance of life than the wealthy could once
command.

It was said formerly:--

     "The world is a market full of streets,
     And Death is a merchant whom every one meets,
     If life were a thing which money could buy--
     The poor could not live, and the rich would not die."

Now the poor man can deal with death, and buy life on very reasonable
terms, if he has commonsense enough to observe half the precepts given
him by generous physicians on temperance and prudence.

Not long since no man was tolerated who sought to cure an ailment, or
prolong human life in any new way. Even persons so eminent as Harriet
Martineau, Dr. Elliotson, and Sir Bulwer Lytton were subjected to public
ridicule and resentment because they suffered themselves to be restored
to health by mesmerism or hydropathy. But in these libertine and
happier days any one who pleases may follow Mesmer, Pressnitz, or even
Hahnemann, and attain health by any means open to him, and is no longer
expected to die according to the direction of antediluvian doctors.

Until late years the poor man's stomach was regarded as the waste-paper
basket of the State, into which anything might be thrown that did not
agree with well-to-do digestion. Now, the Indian proverb is taken to be
worth heeding--that "Disease enters by the mouth," and the health of
the people is counted as part of the wealth of the nation. Pestilence
is subjected to conditions. Diseases are checked at will, which formerly
had an inscrutable power of defiance. The sanitation of towns is now a
public care. True, officers of health have mostly only official noses,
but they can be made sensible of nuisances by intelligent occupiers.
Economists, less regarded than they ought to be, have proved that it
is cheaper to prevent pestilence than bury the dead. Besides, disease,
which has no manners, is apt to attack respectable people.

What are workshops now to what they once were? Any hole or stifling
room was thought good enough for a man to work in. They, indeed, abound
still, but are now regarded as discreditable. Many mills and factories
are palaces now compared with what they were. Considering how many
millions of men and women are compelled to pass half their lives in some
den of industry or other, it is of no mean importance that improvement
has set in in workshops.

Co-operative factories have arisen, light, spacious and clean, supplied
with cool air in summer and warm air in winter. In my youth men were
paid late on Saturday night; poor nailers trudged miles into Birmingham,
with their week's work in bags on their backs, who were to be seen
hanging about merchants' doors up to ten and eleven o'clock to get
payment for their goods. The markets were closing or closed when the
poor workers reached them. It was midnight, or Sunday morning, before
they arrived at home. Twelve or more hours a day was the ordinary
working period. Wages, piece-work and day-work, were cut down at will.
I did not know then that these were "the good old times" of which, in
after years, I should hear so much.

The great toil of other days in many trades is but exercise now, as
exhaustion is limited by mechanical contrivances. A pressman in my
employ has worked at a hand-press twenty-four hours continuously, before
publishing day. Now a gas engine does all the labour. Machinery is the
deliverer which never tires and never grows pale.

The humiliation of the farm labourer is over. He used to sing:

     "Mr Smith is a very good man,
     He lets us ride in his harvest van,
     He gives us food and he gives us ale,
     We pray his heart may never fail."

There is nothing to be said against Mr. Smith, who was evidently a
kindly farmer of his time. Yet to what incredible humiliation his
"pastors and masters" had brought poor Hodge, who could sing these
lines, as though he had reached the Diamond Jubilee of his life when
he rode in somebody else's cart, and had cheese and beer. Now the farm
workers of a co-operative way of thinking have learned how to ride in
their own vans, to possess the crop with which they are loaded, and to
provide themselves with a harvest supper.

In my time the mechanic had no personal credit for his work, whatever
might be his skill. Now in industrial exhibitions the name of the
artificer is attached to his work, and he is part of the character
of the firm which employs him. He has, also, now--if co-operation
prevails--a prospect of participating in the profits of his own
industry. Half a century ago employers were proud of showing their
machinery to a visitor--never their men. Now they show their work-people
as well--whose condition and contentment is the first pride of great
firms.

Above all knowledge is a supreme improvement, which has come to workmen.
They never asked for it, the ignorant never do ask for knowledge, and do
not like those who propose it to them. Brougham first turned aside their
repugnance by telling them what Bacon knew, that "knowledge is power."
Now they realise the other half of the great saying, Dr. Creighton, the
late Bishop of London, supplied, that "ignorance is impotence." They
can see that the instructed son of the gentleman has power, brightness,
confidence, and alertness; while the poor man's child, untrained,
incapable, dull in comparison, often abject, is unconscious of his own
powers which lie latent within him. If an educated and an ignorant child
were sold by weight, the intelligent child would fetch more per pound
avoirdupois than the ignorant one. Now education can be largely had for
working men's children for nothing. Even scholarships and degrees are
open to the clever sort. Moreover, how smooth science has made the early
days of instruction, formerly made jagged with the rod.

Sir Edwin Chadwick showed that the child mind could not profitably be
kept learning more than an hour at a time, and recreation must intervene
before a second hour can be usefully spent. What a mercy and advantage
to thousands of poor children this has been! Even the dreary schoolroom
of the last generation is disappearing. A schoolroom should be spacious
and bright, and board schools are beginning to be made so now. I have
seen a board school in a dismal court in Whitechapel which looked like
an alley of hell. All thoughts for pleasant impressions in the child
mind, which make learning alluring, were formerly uncared for. Happier
now is the lot of poor children than any former generation knew.

Within my time no knowledge of public affairs was possible to the
people, save in a second-hand way from sixpenny newspapers a month old.
Now a workman can read in the morning telegrams from all parts of the
world in a halfpenny paper, hours before his employer is out of bed. If
a pestilence broke out in the next street to the man's dwelling, the law
compelled him to wait a month for the penny paper, the only one he
could afford to buy, before he became aware of his danger, and it often
happened that some of his family never lived to read of their risk.

The sons of working people are now welcomed in the army, and their
record there has commanded the admiration of the onlooking world. But
they are not flogged as they once were, at the will of any arrogant
dandy who had bought his mastership over them. Intelligence has awakened
manliness and self-respect in common men, and the recruiting-sergeant
has to go about without the lash under his coat. The working man further
knows now that there is a better future for his sons in the public
service, in army or navy, than ever existed before our time. Even the
emigrant ship has regulations for the comfort of steerage passengers,
unknown until recent years. People always professed great regard for
"Poor Jack," but until Mr. Plimsoll arose, they left him to drown.

Until a few years ago millions of home-born Englishmen were kept without
votes, like the Uitlanders of South Africa, and no one sent an army
into the country to put down the "corrupt oligarchy," as Mr. Chamberlain
called those who withheld redress. But it has come, though in a limping,
limited way. Carlylean depredators of Parliament decried the value of
workmen possessing "a hundred thousandth part in the national palavers."
But we no longer hear workmen at election times referred to as the
"swinish multitude" who can now send representatives of their own
order into the House of Commons. If the claims of labour are not much
considered, they are no longer contemned. It is always easier for the
rider than the horse. The people are always being ridden, but it is much
easier for the horse now than it ever was before.

Sir Michael Foster, in a recent Presidential Address to the British
Association, said that, "the appliances of science have, as it were,
covered with a soft cushion the rough places of life, and that not for
the rich only but also for the poor." It is not, however, every kind of
progress, everywhere, in every department of human knowledge, in which
the reader is here concerned, but merely with such things as Esdras
says, which have "passed by us in daily life," and which every ordinary
Englishman has observed or knows.

If the question be asked whether the condition of the working class
has improved in proportion to that of the middle and upper class of
our time, the answer must be it has not. But that is not the question
considered here. The question is, "Are the working class to-day better
off than their fathers were?" The answer already given is Yes. Let the
reader think what, in a general way, the new advantages are. The press
is free, and articulate with a million voices--formerly dumb. Now a poor
man can buy a better library for a few shillings than Solomon with
all his gold and glory could in his day; or than the middle class man
possessed fifty years ago. Toleration--not only of ideas but of action,
is enlarged, and that means much--social freedom is greater, and that
means more. The days of children are happier, schoolrooms are more
cheerful, and one day they will be educated so as to fit them for
self-dependence and the duties of daily life. Another change is that
the pride in ignorance, which makes for impotence, is decreasing, is
no longer much thought of among those whose ignorance was their only
attainment.

Not less have the material conditions of life improved. Food is
purer--health is surer--life itself is safer and lasts longer. Comfort
has crept into a million houses where it never found its way before.
Security can be better depended upon. The emigrant terror has gone.
Instead of sailing out on hearsay to an unknown land and finding himself
in the wrong one, or in the wrong part of the right country, as has
happened to thousands, the emigrant can now obtain official information,
which may guide him rightly. Towns are brighter, there are more public
buildings which do the human eye good to look upon. Means of recreation
are continually being multiplied. Opportunity of change from town to
country, or coast, fall now to the poorest Not in cattle trucks any
more. Life is better worth living. Pain none could escape is evadable
now. Parks are multiplied and given as possessions to the people.
Paintings and sculpture are now to be seen on the Sunday by workmen,
which their forefathers never saw, being barred from them on the only
day when they could see them.

By a device within the memory of most, house owning has become possible
to those whose fathers never thought it possible. Temperance, once a
melancholy word, is now a popular resource of health and economy. The
fortune of industry is higher in many ways. Into how many firesides does
it bring gladness to know that in barrack, or camp, or ship, the son is
better treated than heretofore.

Can any of the middle-aged doubt that some things are better now
than before their time? Now two hundred workshops exist on the
labour co-partnership principle. Forty years ago those commenced,
failed--failed through lack of intelligence on the part of workers. The
quality of workmen to be found everywhere in our day did not exist then.
Sixteen years ago there were found more than a dozen workshops owned
and conducted by working men. There are more than a hundred now; and
hundreds in which the workers receive an addition to their wages,
undreamt of in the last generation. In this, and in other respects,
things go better than they did. Though there is still need of
enlargement, the means of self-defence are not altogether wanting.
Co-operation has arisen--a new force for the self-extrication of the
lowest. Without charity, or patronage, or asking anything from the
State, it puts into each man's hand the "means to cancel his captivity."

The rich man may vote twenty times where the poor man can vote only
once. Still, the one voter counts for something where the unfranchised
counted for nothing.

Political as well as civil freedom has come in a measure to those who
dwell in cottages and lodgings. For one minute every seven years the
workman is free. He can choose his political masters at the poll, and
neither his neighbour, his employer, nor his priest, has the knowledge
to harm him on that account. One minute of liberty in seven years is not
much, but there is no free country in the world where that minute is so
well secured as in England. If any one would measure the present by the
past, let him recall the lines:--

     "Allah! Allah!" cried the stranger,
     "Wondrous sights the traveller sees,
     But the latest is the greatest,
     Where the drones control the bees."

They do it still, but not to the extent they did. The control of wisdom,
when the drones have it, is all very well, but it is the other sort of
control which is now happily to some extent controllable by the bees.
The manners of the rich are better. Their sympathy with the people has
increased. Their power of doing ill is no longer absolute. Employers
think more of the condition of those who labour for them. The better
sort still throw crumbs to Lazarus. But now Dives is expected to explain
why it is that Lazarus cannot get crumbs himself.

In ways still untold the labour class is gradually attaining to social
equality with the idle class and to that independence hitherto the
privilege of those who do nothing. The workman's power of self-defence
grows--his influence extends--his rights enlarge. Injury suffered in
industry is beginning to be compensated; even old-age pensions are in
the air, though not as yet anywhere else. Notwithstanding, "John Brown's
soul goes marching on." But it must be owned its shoes are a little down
at the heels. Nevertheless, though there is yet much to be done--more
liberty to win, more improvements to attain, and more than all, if it be
possible, permanences of prosperity to secure--I agree with Sydney
Smith--

     "For olden times let others prate,
     I deem it lucky I was born so late."

There is a foolish praise of the past and a foolish depreciation of the
present The past had its evils, the present has fewer. The past had its
promise, the present great realisations. It is not assumed in what has
been said that all the advantages recounted were originated and acquired
by working men alone. Many came by the concessions of those who had the
power of withholding them. More concessions will not lack acknowledgment
"Just gifts" to men who have honour in their hearts, "bind the
recipients to the giver for ever."

The Chinese put the feet of children in a boot and the foot never grows
larger. There are boots of the mind as well as of the feet, that are
worn by the young of all nations, which have no expansion in them, and
which cramp the understanding of those grown up. This prevents many from
comprehending the changes by which they benefit or realising the facts
of their daily life. Considering what the men of labour have done
for themselves and what has been won for them by their advocates, and
conceded to them from time to time by others, despair and the counsels
of outrage which spring from it, are unseemly, unnecessary, and
ungrateful. This is the moral of this story.

A doleful publicist should be superannuated. He is already obsolete.
Whoever despairs of a cause in whose success he once exulted, should
fall out of the ranks, where some ambulance waits to carry away the sick
or dispirited. He has no business to utter his discouraging wail in the
ears of the constant and confident, marching to the front, where the
battle of progress is being fought.

Since so much has been accomplished in half a century, when there were
few advantages to begin with--what may not be gained in the next fifty
years with the larger means now at command and the confidence great
successes of the past should inspire! If working people adhere to the
policy of advancing their own honest interests without destroying others
as rightfully engaged in seeking theirs, the workers may make their own
future what they will. They may then acquire power sufficient, as the
_Times_ once said: "To turn a reform mill which would grind down an
abuse a day."



NOTE.

The last chapter is reprinted from the _Fortnightly Review_ by courtesy
of the Editor, and a similar acknowledgment is due to the Editor of
the _Weekly Times and Echo_, in whose pages several of the preceding
chapters appeared.





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