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Title: Representative British Orations with Introductions and Explanatory Notes, Volume III (of 4)
Author: Adams, Charles Kendall
Language: English
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Uniform with British Orations

    AMERICAN ORATIONS, to illustrate American Political
      History, edited, with introductions, by ALEXANDER
      JOHNSTON, Professor of Jurisprudence and Political
      Economy in the College of New Jersey. 3 vols., 16 mo,

      single specimen essays from IRVING, LEIGH HUNT, LAMB,
      NEWMAN, LESLIE STEPHEN. 3 vols., 16 mo, bevelled
      boards, $3.75 and $4.50.





    _Videtisne quantum munus sit oratoris historia?_
                              —CICERO, _DeOratore_, ii, 15


    The Knickerbocker Press


    Press of
    New York


    GEORGE CANNING                                                     1

    GEORGE CANNING                                                    13

    LORD MACAULAY                                                     50

    LORD MACAULAY                                                     62
          2, 1831.

    RICHARD COBDEN                                                    95

    RICHARD COBDEN                                                   109

    JOHN BRIGHT                                                      155

    JOHN BRIGHT                                                      159
          OCTOBER 29, 1858.

    LORD BEACONSFIELD                                                204

    LORD BEACONSFIELD                                                216
          AT MANCHESTER, APRIL 3, 1872.

    WILLIAM EWART GLADSTONE                                          277

    WILLIAM EWART GLADSTONE                                          287
          CALDER, NOVEMBER 27, 1879.


The subject of this sketch was born in London in 1770. When he was only
one year old, the death of his father threw the responsibility of his
training and education upon his mother. Dependent upon her own energies
for the support of herself and her child, she at first established
a small school in London, and a little later fitted herself for the
stage, where she achieved considerable success.

As soon as George entered school, he began to show remarkable
proficiency in the study of Latin and Greek, as well as in English
literature. Mr. Stapleton, his biographer, tells us that when still
a child, young Canning was incidentally called upon to recite some
verses, when he began with one of the poems of Gray, and did not stop
or falter till he repeated the contents of the entire volume. At the
age of fifteen he went to Eton, where he was at once recognized as a
boy of surpassing abilities and attainments. In the following year
some of his school-fellows joined him in starting a weekly paper,
called the _Microcosm_, to which he acted the part of editor and
chief contributor. The brilliancy and wit of the paper were such as
to attract even the attention of the leading reviews. He also paid
great attention to the art of extemporaneous speaking. A society had
been established in the school in which all the forms and methods of
the House of Commons were rigidly observed. The Speaker, the Cabinet,
and the Opposition played their mimic parts with all the energy and
interest so many of the members afterward displayed in Parliament
itself. George became “Captain” of the school, and, when in 1788 he
went up to Oxford, he carried with him a reputation for accuracy and
maturity of scholarship which at once drew the eyes of the whole
university upon him. Even in his first year he entered the list of
competitors for the Chancellor’s Prize offered for the best Latin
poem, and was successful over all the upper classmen. Throughout his
course his attention was absorbed with the study of literature and the
practice of writing and speaking.

He left the University at the age of twenty-two, and at once began the
study of law. His great reputation, however, had already attracted the
attention of Pitt, who now invited him to take a seat in the House of
Commons from one of the Government boroughs. With this request Canning
complied; and, accordingly, he became a member of the House in 1793 in
the twenty-fourth year of his age.

His maiden speech, delivered some two months after he entered the
House, was brilliant, but was generally thought to be somewhat lacking
in the qualities of solidity and good judgment. His tastes were so
eminently rhetorical in their nature, that, for some years to come, he
was inclined to excess of ornamentation. Joined to this peculiarity
was an irresistible inclination to indulge in wit and badinage at
the expense of his fellow-members. This tendency was so predominant
that for a long time it was said that he never made what he called a
successful speech without making an enemy for life.

In 1797, in connection with a few friends, Canning projected the
journal known as the _Anti-Jacobin Review_. Its object was to
counteract those peculiar doctrines of the French Revolution which
its contributors thought dangerous. Many of Canning’s articles were
satires, and were so admirable in their way as to be worthy of a place
among the most noted extravaganzas of English literature. The “Knife
Grinder,” and the drama entitled “The Rovers,” are perhaps the most
successful. “The Rovers” was written to ridicule the German drama then
prevailing, and it was regarded as of so much consequence that Niebuhr
in one of his gravest works has devoted nearly a page to a refutation
of it.[A] A good impression of Canning’s peculiar wit will be conveyed
by “Rogers’ Song,” taken from “The Rovers.” Mr. Hayward[B] informs us
that Canning had written the first five stanzas of the song, when Pitt,
coming into his room and accidentally seeing it, was so amused that he
took up a pen and added the fifth stanza on the spot. The following is
the song entire:—

   [A] “Geschichte des Zeitalters der Revolution,” ii., 242.

   [B] “Biographical Essays,” i., 211.


   “When’er with haggard eyes I view
      This dungeon that I’m rotting in,
    I think of those companions true
      Who studied with me at the U—
        —niversity of Gottingen,
        —niversity of Gottingen.


   “Sweet kerchief, checked with heavenly blue,
      Which once my love sat knotting in!
    Alas! Matilda then was true,
      At least I thought so at the U—
        —niversity of Gottingen,
        —niversity of Gottingen.


   “Barbs! Barbs! alas! how swift you flew,
      Her neat post-wagon trotting in;
    Ye bore Matilda from my view;
      Forlorn I languished at the U—
        —niversity of Gottingen—
        —niversity of Gottingen.


   “This faded form! this pallid hue!
      This blood my veins is clotting in
    My years are many—they were few
      When first I entered at the U—
        —niversity of Gottingen—
        —niversity of Gottingen.


   “There first for thee my passion grew,
      Sweet! sweet Matilda Pottingen!
    Thou wast the daughter of my tu—
      —tor, law professor at the U—
        —niversity of Gottingen—
        —niversity of Gottingen.


   “Sun, moon, and thou, vain world, adieu,
      That kings and priests are plotting in:
    Here doomed to starve on water-gru—
      el, never shall I see the U—
        —niversity of Gottingen—
        —niversity of Gottingen.”

Unfortunately for his influence, Canning could not limit his wit
or his pasquinades to the Germans and French. The _Anti-Jacobin_
contained many ludicrous satires on the personal peculiarities of
men like Erskine, Mackintosh, and Coleridge. Some of these made
bitter complaints that the Government should lend its influence to
and should reward the authors of these atrocious calumnies. There is
evidence that the publication was discontinued at the suggestion of
the Prime-Minister in consequence of these complaints, and it is very
probable that Canning’s advancement was retarded by his utter lack of

On the accession of the Duke of Portland, in 1807, Canning became
Secretary of Foreign Affairs, an office which he held for two years,
till he had a quarrel with Lord Castlereagh, which resulted in a duel,
and not only drove them both out of office, but overthrew the Portland
Ministry. During the next seven years he was out of power, though he
was regular in his parliamentary duties, and it was to him especially
that Lord Wellington was indebted for the firm and even enthusiastic
support of England during his military career.

Canning always regarded himself as the political disciple of Pitt.
To his constituents at Liverpool he said: “In the grave of Mr. Pitt
my political allegiance lies buried.” He owned no other master,
and all his energies were devoted to carrying out Pitt’s policy
of foreign affairs. The part of England in the protection of the
smaller nationalities against the larger ones,—that policy which has
preserved Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Portugal, and Turkey,—was
but a continuance of the policy of Pitt, though it took definite form
under the influence of Canning, and is quite as often associated with
his name. The doctrine was strongly put forward on three important
occasions. The first was in his speech urging England to join her
fortunes with those of Spain in driving Bonaparte from the Peninsula.
This, as Mr. Seeley, in his “Life of Stein” has shown, was the
turning point in Napoleon’s career, and it is the peculiar glory of
Canning that England was brought into the alliance by his influence.
With pardonable exultation he once said: “If there is any part of
my political conduct in which I _glory_, it is that in the face of
every difficulty, discouragement, and prophecy of failure, _mine_
was the hand that committed England to an alliance with Spain.” The
second occasion was when, in 1822, he was a second time Minister of
Foreign Affairs, and when France was collecting troops to overthrow
constitutional government in Spain, and urging the other foreign
powers, assembled at Verona, to unite in the same purpose, he
despatched Wellington to Verona with so energetic a protest that even
France was dissuaded from the course she had intended to pursue. Again,
in 1826, Canning took a similar course in giving aid to Portugal when
invaded by Spain. His continental policy might be said to consist of
two parts: England should insist that the small governments should not
be disturbed by the larger, and that each nation should be allowed to
regulate its own internal affairs.

On the death of Lord Liverpool, in 1827, Canning became Prime-Minister.
The great question then before the country was the political
emancipation of the Roman Catholics. The Test Act, adopted in the reign
of Charles II., had excluded Catholics from political rights—from seats
in Parliament and from the privilege of voting—and the act was still
in force. With the agitation that was now endeavoring to secure the
emancipation of the Catholics from political disabilities, Canning was
in hearty sympathy. When he was called into supreme power, therefore,
the inference was natural that Catholic emancipation was to be carried
through. Wellington, Peel, and nearly all the Tories in the ministry
threw up their places. Their purpose was to compel Canning to resign;
for knowing his views on the question of emancipation, they were
unwilling to hold office under him. Unfortunately, while the struggle
involved in their resignation was going on, Canning’s health suddenly
gave way, and sinking rapidly, he expired on the 8th of August,
1827, in the fifty-eighth year of his age. It is a singular and an
interesting fact that the very men who, in 1827, refused to follow
Canning in the work of emancipation, were driven two years later by
public opinion to put themselves at the head of the movement.

By many excellent judges Canning is regarded as one of the foremost of
English orators. Brougham speaks of him in terms of almost the highest
praise, and so judicious a critic as Sir James Mackintosh says that
“Mr. Canning seems to have been the best model among our orators of the
adorned style. In some qualities,” he continues, “Mr. Canning surpassed
Mr. Pitt. His diction was more various—sometimes more simple—more
idiomatical, even in its more elevated parts. It sparkled with imagery,
and was brightened by illustration, in both of which Mr. Pitt, for so
great an orator, was defective. Had he been a dry and meagre speaker,
Mr. Canning would have been universally allowed to have been one of the
greatest masters of argument; but his hearers were so dazzled by the
splendor of his diction that they did not perceive the acuteness and
the occasional excessive refinement of his reasoning; a consequence
which, as it shows the injurious effects of a seductive fault, can with
the less justness be overlooked in the estimate of his understanding.”



  When Mr. Canning was Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1826, a body of
  Absolutists attempted to destroy the existing Portuguese Government,
  which had been founded on the basis of a liberal constitution, and
  had been acknowledged by England, France, Austria, and Russia.
  This government was obnoxious to Ferdinand, King of Spain; and,
  accordingly, supported by the sympathy of Austria and Russia, as well
  as by the active assistance of Spain, the Portuguese Absolutists
  organized a military expedition on Spanish soil for the overthrow
  of the Portuguese Government. Portugal asked for the protection of
  England. Five thousand troops were instantly ordered to Lisbon. This
  action was in strict accordance with what is sometimes known as “Mr.
  Canning’s Foreign Policy,”—that of allowing every nation to manage
  its own internal affairs, and of allowing no interference with the
  smaller nations by the larger.

  The following speech in explanation of his reasons for prompt action
  is the masterpiece of his eloquence.


In proposing to the House of Commons to acknowledge, by an humble and
dutiful address, his Majesty’s most gracious message, and to reply
to it in terms which will be, in effect, an echo of the sentiments
and a fulfilment of the anticipations of that message, I feel that,
however confident I may be in the justice, and however clear as to the
policy of the measures therein announced, it becomes me, as a British
minister, recommending to Parliament any step which may approximate
this country even to the hazard of a war, while I explain the grounds
of that proposal, to accompany my explanation with expressions of

I can assure the House, that there is not within its walls any set
of men more deeply convinced than his Majesty’s ministers—nor any
individual more intimately persuaded than he who has now the honor
of addressing you—of the vital importance of the continuance of
peace to this country and to the world. So strongly am I impressed
with this opinion—and for reasons of which I will put the House more
fully in possession before I sit down—that I declare there is no
question of doubtful or controverted policy—no opportunity of present
national advantage—no precaution against remote difficulty—which I
would not gladly compromise, pass over, or adjourn, rather than call
on Parliament to sanction, at this moment, any measure which had a
tendency to involve the country in war. But, at the same time, sir, I
feel that which has been felt, in the best times of English history,
by the best statesmen of this country, and by the Parliaments by whom
those statesmen were supported—I feel that there are two causes, and
but two causes, which can not be either compromised, passed over, or
adjourned. These causes are: adherence to the national faith, and
regard for the national honor.

Sir, if I did not consider both these causes as involved in the
proposition which I have this day to make to you, I should not address
the House, as I now do, in the full and entire confidence that the
gracious communication of his Majesty will be met by the House with the
concurrence of which his Majesty has declared his expectation.

In order to bring the matter which I have to submit to you, under the
cognizance of the House, in the shortest and clearest manner, I beg
leave to state it, in the first instance, divested of any collateral
considerations. It is a case of law and of fact: of national law on the
one hand, and of notorious fact on the other; such as it must be, in
my opinion as impossible for Parliament, as it was for the government,
to regard in any but one light, or to come to any but one conclusion
upon it.

Among the alliances by which, at different periods of our history,
this country has been connected with the other nations of Europe,
none is so ancient in origin, and so precise in obligation—none has
continued so long, and been observed so faithfully—of none is the
memory so intimately interwoven with the most brilliant records of our
triumphs, as that by which Great Britain is connected with Portugal.
It dates back to distant centuries; it has survived an endless variety
of fortunes. Anterior in existence to the accession of the House of
Braganza to the throne of Portugal—it derived, however, fresh vigor
from that event; and never from that epoch to the present hour, has
the independent monarchy of Portugal ceased to be nurtured by the
friendship of Great Britain. This alliance has never been seriously
interrupted; but it has been renewed by repeated sanctions. It has been
maintained under difficulties by which the fidelity of other alliances
was shaken, and has been vindicated in fields of blood and of glory.

That the alliance with Portugal has been always unqualifiedly
advantageous to this country—that it has not been sometimes
inconvenient and sometimes burdensome—I am not bound nor prepared
to maintain. But no British statesman, so far as I know, has ever
suggested the expediency of shaking it off; and it is assuredly not at
a moment of need that honor and what I may be allowed to call national
sympathy would permit us to weigh, with an over-scrupulous exactness,
the amount of difficulties and dangers attendant upon its faithful and
steadfast observance. What feelings of national honor would forbid, is
forbidden alike by the plain dictates of national faith.

It is not at distant periods of history, and in by-gone ages only,
that the traces of the union between Great Britain and Portugal are
to be found. In the last compact of modern Europe, the compact which
forms the basis of its present international law—I mean the treaty
of Vienna of 1815,—this country, with its eyes open to the possible
inconveniences of the connection, but with a memory awake to its past
benefits, solemnly renewed the previously existing obligations of
alliance and amity with Portugal. I will take leave to read to the
House the third article of the treaty concluded at Vienna, in 1815,
between Great Britain on the one hand and Portugal on the other. It
is couched in the following terms: “The treaty of Alliance, concluded
at Rio de Janeiro, on the 19th of February, 1810, being founded on
circumstances of a temporary nature, which have happily ceased to
exist, the said treaty is hereby declared to be void in all its parts,
and of no effect; _without prejudice, however, to the ancient treaties
of alliance, friendship, and guarantee, which have so long and so
happily subsisted between the two Crowns, and which are hereby renewed
by the high contracting parties, and acknowledged to be of full force
and effect_.”

In order to appreciate the force of this stipulation—recent in point
of time, recent, also, in the sanction of Parliament—the House will,
perhaps, allow me to explain shortly the circumstances in reference to
which it was contracted. In the year 1807, when, upon the declaration
of Bonaparte, that the House of Braganza had ceased to reign, the
King of Portugal, by the advice of Great Britain, was induced to set
sail for the Brazils; almost at the very moment of his most faithful
Majesty’s embarkation, a secret convention was signed between his
Majesty and the King of Portugal, stipulating that, in the event of
his most faithful Majesty’s establishing the seat of his government
in Brazil, Great Britain would never acknowledge any other dynasty
than that of the House of Braganza on the throne of Portugal. That
convention, I say, was contemporaneous with the migration to the
Brazils; a step of great importance at the time, as removing from the
grasp of Bonaparte the sovereign family of Braganza. Afterward, in
the year 1810, when the seat of the King of Portugal’s government was
established at Rio de Janeiro, and when it seemed probable, in the
then apparently hopeless condition of the affairs of Europe, that it
was likely long to continue there, the secret convention of 1807, of
which the main object was accomplished by the fact of the emigration
to Brazil, was abrogated, and a new and public treaty was concluded,
into which was transferred the stipulation of 1807, binding Great
Britain, so long as his faithful Majesty should be compelled to reside
in Brazil, not to acknowledge any other sovereign of Portugal than a
member of the House of Braganza. That stipulation, which had hitherto
been _secret_, thus became _patent_, and part of the known law of

In the year 1814, in consequence of the happy conclusion of the war,
the option was afforded to the King of Portugal of returning to his
European dominions. It was then felt that, as the necessity of his most
faithful Majesty’s absence from Portugal had ceased, the ground for the
obligation originally contracted in the secret convention of 1807, and
afterward transferred to the patent treaty of 1810, was removed. The
treaty of 1810 was, therefore, annulled at the Congress of Vienna; and
in lieu of the stipulation not to acknowledge any other sovereign of
Portugal than a member of the House of Braganza, was substituted that
which I have just read to the House.

Annulling the treaty of 1810, the treaty of Vienna renews and confirms
(as the House will have seen) all _former_ treaties between Great
Britain and Portugal, describing them as “ancient treaties of alliance,
friendship, and guarantee”; as having “long and happily subsisted
between the two Crowns”; and as being allowed, by the two high
contracting parties, to remain “in full force and effect.”

What, then, is the force—what is the effect of those ancient treaties?
I am prepared to show to the House what it is. But before I do so, I
must say, that if all the treaties to which this article of the treaty
of Vienna refers, had perished by some convulsion of nature, or had by
some extraordinary accident been consigned to total oblivion, still it
would be impossible not to admit, as an incontestable inference from
this article of the treaty of Vienna alone, that, in a moral point
of view, there is incumbent on Great Britain a decided obligation to
act as the effectual defender of Portugal. If I could not show the
letter of a single antecedent stipulation, I should still contend
that a solemn admission, only ten years old, of the existence at that
time of “treaties of alliance, friendship, and guarantee,” held Great
Britain to the discharge of the obligations which that very description
implies. But fortunately there is no such difficulty in specifying the
nature of those obligations. All of the preceding treaties exist—all of
them are of easy reference—all of them are known to this country, to
Spain, to every nation of the civilized world. They are so numerous,
and their general result is so uniform, that it may be sufficient to
select only two of them to show the nature of all.

The first to which I shall advert is the treaty of 1661, which was
concluded at the time of the marriage of Charles the Second with the
Infanta of Portugal. After reciting the marriage, and making over to
Great Britain, in consequence of that marriage, first, a considerable
sum of money, and, secondly, several important places, some of which,
as Tangier, we no longer possess, but others of which, as Bombay, still
belong to this country, the treaty runs thus: “In consideration of
all which grants, so much to the benefit of the King of Great Britain
and his subjects in general, and of the delivery of those important
places to his said Majesty and his heirs forever, etc., the King of
Great Britain does profess and declare, with the consent and advice of
his council, that he will take the interest of Portugal and all its
dominions to heart, defending the same with his utmost power by sea and
land, _even as England itself_”; and it then proceeds to specify the
succors to be sent, and the manner of sending them.

I come next to the treaty of 1703, a treaty of alliance contemporaneous
with the Methuen treaty, which has regulated, for upward of a century,
the commercial relations of the two countries. The treaty of 1703 was a
tripartite engagement between the States-General of Holland, England,
and Portugal. The second article of that treaty sets forth, that,
“If ever it shall happen that the Kings of Spain and France, either
the present or the future, that both of them together, or either of
them separately, shall make war, or give occasion to suspect that
they intend to make war, upon the kingdom of Portugal, either on the
continent of Europe, or on its dominions beyond the seas, her Majesty
the Queen of Great Britain, and the Lords the States-General, shall use
their friendly offices with the said Kings, or either of them, in order
to persuade them to observe the terms of peace toward Portugal, and not
to make war upon it.” The third article declares, “That in the event of
these good offices not proving successful, but altogether ineffectual,
so that war should be made by the aforesaid Kings, or by either of
them, upon Portugal, the above-mentioned powers of Great Britain and
Holland shall make war with all their force upon the aforesaid Kings
or King who shall carry hostile arms into Portugal; and toward that
war, which shall be carried on in Europe, they shall supply twelve
thousand men, whom they shall arm and pay, as well when in quarters
as in action; and the said high allies shall be obliged to keep that
number of men complete, by recruiting it from time to time at their own

I am aware, indeed, that with respect to either of the treaties which
I have quoted, it is possible to raise a question—whether variation
of circumstances or change of times may not have somewhat relaxed its
obligations. The treaty of 1661, it might be said, was so loose and
prodigal in the wording—it is so unreasonable, so wholly out of nature,
that any one country should be expected to defend another, “_even
as itself_”; such stipulations are of so exaggerated a character,
as to resemble effusions of feeling, rather than enunciations of
deliberate compact. Again, with respect to the treaty of 1703, if the
case rested on that treaty alone, a question might be raised, whether
or not, when one of the contracting parties—Holland—had since so
changed her relations with Portugal, as to consider her obligations
under the treaty of 1703 as obsolete—whether or not, I say, under
such circumstances, the obligation on the remaining party be not
likewise void. I should not hesitate to answer both these objections
in the negative. But without entering into such a controversy, it
is sufficient for me to say that the time and place for taking such
objections was at the Congress at Vienna. Then and there it was that
if you, indeed, considered these treaties as obsolete, you ought
frankly and fearlessly to have declared them to be so. But then and
there, with your eyes open, and in the face of all modern Europe, you
proclaimed anew the ancient treaties of alliance, friendship, and
guarantee, “so long subsisting between the Crowns of Great Britain and
Portugal,” as still “acknowledged by Great Britain,” and still “of full
force and effect.” It is not, however, on specific articles alone—it
is not so much, perhaps, on either of these ancient treaties, taken
separately, as it is on the spirit and understanding of the whole body
of treaties, of which the essence is concentrated and preserved in the
treaty of Vienna, that we acknowledge in Portugal a right to look to
Great Britain as her ally and defender.

This, sir, being the state, morally and politically, of our obligations
toward Portugal, it is obvious that when Portugal, in apprehension of
the coming storm, called on Great Britain for assistance, the only
hesitation on our part could be—not whether that assistance was due,
supposing the occasion for demanding it to arise, but simply whether
that occasion—in other words, whether the _casus fœderis_ had arisen.

I understand, indeed, that in some quarters it has been imputed to his
Majesty’s ministers that an extraordinary delay intervened between the
taking of the determination to give assistance to Portugal and the
carrying of that determination into effect. But how stands the fact?
On Sunday, the third of this month, we received from the Portuguese
embassador a direct and formal demand of assistance against a hostile
aggression from Spain. Our answer was, that although rumors had reached
us through France, his Majesty’s Government had not that accurate
information—that official and precise intelligence of facts—on which
they could properly found an application to Parliament. It was only on
last Friday night that this precise information arrived. On Saturday
his Majesty’s confidential servants came to a decision. On Sunday
that decision received the sanction of his Majesty. On Monday it was
communicated to both Houses of Parliament; and this day, sir, at the
hour in which I have the honor of addressing you, the troops are on
their march for embarkation.

I trust, then, sir, that no unseemly delay is imputable to government.
But undoubtedly, on the other hand, when the claim of Portugal for
assistance—a claim clear, indeed, in justice, but at the same time
fearfully spreading in its possible consequences, came before us, it
was the duty of his Majesty’s Government to do nothing on hearsay. The
eventual force of the claim was admitted; but a thorough knowledge
of facts was necessary before the compliance with that claim could
be granted. The government here labored under some disadvantage. The
rumors which reached us through Madrid were obviously distorted, to
answer partial political purposes; and the intelligence through the
press of France, though substantially correct, was, in particulars,
vague and contradictory. A measure of grave and serious moment could
never be founded on such authority; nor could the ministers come down
to Parliament until they had a confident assurance that the case which
they had to lay before the Legislature was true in all its parts.

But there was another reason which induced a necessary caution. In
former instances, when Portugal applied to this country for assistance,
the whole power of the state in Portugal was vested in the person of
the monarch. The expression of his wish, the manifestation of his
desire, the putting forth of his claim, was sufficient ground for
immediate and decisive action on the part of Great Britain, supposing
the _casus fœderis_ to be made out. But, on this occasion, inquiry
was in the first place to be made whether, according to the new
constitution of Portugal, the call upon Great Britain was made with
the consent of all the powers and authorities competent to make it,
so as to carry with it an assurance of that reception in Portugal for
our army, which the army of a friend and ally had a right to expect.
Before a British soldier should put his foot on Portuguese ground,
nay, before he should leave the shores of England, it was our duty to
ascertain that the step taken by the Regency of Portugal was taken with
the cordial concurrence of the Legislature of that country. It was but
this morning that we received intelligence of the proceedings of the
Chambers at Lisbon, which establishes the fact of such concurrence.
This intelligence is contained in a dispatch from Sir W. A’Court,
dated 29th of November, of which I will read an extract to the House.
“The day after the news arrived of the entry of the rebels into
Portugal, the ministers demanded from the Chambers an extension of
power for the executive government, and the permission to apply for
foreign succors, in virtue of ancient treaties, in the event of their
being deemed necessary. The deputies gave the requisite authority by
acclamation; and an equally good spirit was manifested by the peers,
who granted every power that the ministers could possibly require. They
even went further, and, rising in a body from their seats, declared
their devotion to their country, and their readiness to give their
personal services, if necessary, to repel any hostile invasion. The
Duke de Cadaval, president of the Chamber, was the first to make this
declaration; and the minister who described this proceeding to me, said
it was a movement worthy of the good days of Portugal!”

I have thus incidentally disposed of the supposed imputation of delay
in complying with the requisition of the Portuguese Government. The
main question, however, is this: Was it obligatory upon us to comply
with that requisition? In other words, had the _casus fœderis_ arisen?
In our opinion it had. Bands of Portuguese rebels, armed, equipped, and
trained in Spain, had crossed the Spanish frontier, carrying terror
and devastation into their own country, and proclaiming sometimes the
brother of the reigning sovereign of Portugal, sometimes a Spanish
princess, and sometimes even Ferdinand of Spain, as the rightful
occupant of the Portuguese throne. These rebels crossed the frontier,
not at one point only, but at several points; for it is remarkable that
the aggression, on which the original application to Great Britain for
succor was founded, is not the aggression with reference to which that
application has been complied with.

The attack announced by the French newspapers was on the north of
Portugal, in the province of Tras-os-Montes; an official account of
which has been received by his Majesty’s Government only this day.
But on Friday an account was received of an invasion in the south of
Portugal, and of the capture of Villa Vicosa, a town lying on the
road from the southern frontier to Lisbon. This new fact established
even more satisfactorily than a mere confirmation of the attack first
complained of would have done, the systematic nature of the aggression
of Spain against Portugal. One hostile irruption might have been made
by some single corps escaping from their quarters—by some body of
stragglers, who might have evaded the vigilance of Spanish authorities;
and one such accidental and unconnected act of violence might not have
been conclusive evidence of cognizance and design on the part of those
authorities; but when a series of attacks are made along the whole line
of a frontier, it is difficult to deny that such multiplied instances
of hostility are evidence of concerted aggression.

If a single company of _Spanish_ soldiers had crossed the frontier
in hostile array, there could not, it is presumed, be a doubt as to
the character of that invasion. Shall bodies of men, armed, clothed,
and regimented by Spain, carry fire and sword into the bosom of her
unoffending neighbor, and shall it be pretended that no attack, no
invasion has taken place, because, forsooth, these outrages are
committed against Portugal by men to whom Portugal had given birth and
nurture? What petty quibbling would it be to say, that an invasion of
Portugal from Spain was not a _Spanish_ invasion, because Spain did not
employ her own troops, but hired mercenaries to effect her purpose? And
what difference is it, except as an aggravation, that the mercenaries
in this instance were natives of Portugal.

I have already stated, and I now repeat, that it never has been the
wish or the pretension of the British Government to interfere in the
internal concerns of the Portuguese nation. Questions of that kind
the Portuguese nation must settle among themselves. But if we were to
admit that hordes of traitorous refugees from Portugal, with Spanish
arms, or arms furnished or restored to them by Spanish authorities,
in their hands, might put off their country for one purpose, and put
it on again for another—put it off for the purpose of attack, and put
it on again for the purpose of impunity—if, I say, we were to admit
this juggle, and either pretend to be deceived by it ourselves, or
attempt to deceive Portugal, into a belief that there was nothing of
external attack, nothing of foreign hostility, in such a system of
aggression—such pretence and attempt would, perhaps, be only ridiculous
and contemptible; if they did not require a much more serious character
from being employed as an excuse for infidelity to ancient friendship,
and as a pretext for getting rid of the positive stipulations of

This, then, is the case which I lay before the House of Commons. Here
is, on the one hand, an undoubted pledge of national faith—not taken
in a corner—not kept secret between the parties, but publicly recorded
among the annals of history, in the face of the world. Here are, on
the other hand, undeniable acts of foreign aggression, perpetrated,
indeed, principally through the instrumentality of domestic traitors,
but supported with foreign means, instigated by foreign councils, and
directed to foreign ends. Putting these facts and this pledge together,
it is impossible that his Majesty should refuse the call that has been
made upon him; nor can Parliament, I am convinced, refuse to enable
his Majesty to fulfil his undoubted obligations. I am willing to rest
the whole question of to-night, and to call for the vote of the House
of Commons upon this simple case, divested altogether of collateral
circumstances; from which I especially wish to separate it, in the
minds of those who hear me, and also in the minds of others, to whom
what I now say will find its way. If I were to sit down this moment,
without adding another word, I have no doubt but that I should have the
concurrence of the House in the address which I mean to propose.

When I state this, it will be obvious to the House, that the vote
for which I am about to call upon them is a vote for the defence of
Portugal, not a vote for war against Spain. I beg the House to keep
these two points entirely distinct in their consideration. For the
former I think I have said enough. If, in what I have now further to
say, I should bear hard upon the Spanish Government, I beg that it
may be observed that, unjustifiable as I shall show their conduct
to have been—contrary to the law of nations, contrary to the law of
good neighborhood, contrary, I might say, to the laws of God and
man—with respect to Portugal—still I do not mean to preclude a _locus
pœnitentiæ_, a possibility of redress and reparation. It is our duty
to fly to the defence of Portugal, be the assailant who he may. And,
be it remembered, that, in thus fulfilling the stipulation of ancient
treaties, of the existence and obligation of which all the world are
aware, we, according to the universally admitted construction of the
law of nations, neither make war upon that assailant, nor give to that
assailant, much less to any other power, just cause of war against

Sir, the present situation of Portugal is so anomalous, and the recent
years of her history are crowded with events so unusual, that the House
will, perhaps, not think that I am unprofitably wasting its time, if
I take the liberty of calling its attention, shortly and succinctly,
to those events, and to their influence on the political relations of
Europe. It is known that the consequence of the residence of the King
of Portugal in Brazil was to raise the latter country from a colonial
to a metropolitan condition; and that, from the time when the King
began to contemplate his return to Portugal, there grew up in Brazil
a desire of independence that threatened dissension, if not something
like civil contest, between the European and American dominions of the
House of Braganza. It is known, also, that Great Britain undertook a
mediation between Portugal and Brazil, and induced the King to consent
to a separation of the two crowns—confirming that of Brazil on the
head of his eldest son. The ink with which this agreement was written
was scarcely dry, when the unexpected death of the King of Portugal
produced a new state of things, which reunited on the same head the two
crowns which it had been the policy of England, as well as of Portugal
and of Brazil, to separate. On that occasion, Great Britain, and
another European court, closely connected with Brazil, tendered advice
to the Emperor of Brazil, now become King of Portugal, which advice
it can not be accurately said that his Imperial Majesty followed,
because he had decided for himself before it reached Rio de Janeiro;
but in conformity with which advice, though not in consequence of it,
his Imperial Majesty determined to abdicate the crown of Portugal in
favor of his eldest daughter. But the Emperor of Brazil had done more.
What had not been foreseen—what would have been beyond the province
of any foreign power to advise—his Imperial Majesty had accompanied
his abdication of the crown of Portugal with the grant of a free
constitutional charter for that kingdom.

It has been surmised that this measure, as well as the abdication
which it accompanied, was the offspring of our advice. No such
thing—Great Britain did not suggest this measure. It is not her duty
nor her practice to offer suggestions for the internal regulation of
foreign states. She neither approved nor disapproved of the grant of
a constitutional charter to Portugal; her opinion upon that grant was
never required. True it is, that the instrument of the constitutional
charter was brought to Europe by a gentleman of high trust in the
service of the British Government. Sir C. Stuart had gone to Brazil
to negotiate the separation between that country and Portugal. In
addition to his character of Plenipotentiary of Great Britain, as the
mediating power, he had also been invested by the King of Portugal
with the character of his most faithful Majesty’s Plenipotentiary for
the negotiation with Brazil. That negotiation had been brought to a
happy conclusion; and therewith the British part of Sir C. Stuart’s
commission had terminated. But Sir C. Stuart was still resident at
Rio de Janeiro, as the Plenipotentiary of the King of Portugal, for
negotiating commercial arrangements between Portugal and Brazil. In
this latter character it was that Sir C. Stuart, on his return to
Europe, was requested by the Emperor of Brazil to be the bearer to
Portugal of the new constitutional charter. His Majesty’s government
found no fault with Sir C. Stuart for executing this commission; but it
was immediately felt that if Sir C. Stuart were allowed to remain at
Lisbon, it might appear, in the eyes of Europe, that England was the
contriver and imposer of the Portuguese constitution. Sir C. Stuart
was, therefore, directed to return home forthwith, in order that the
constitution, if carried into effect there, might plainly appear to
be adopted by the Portuguese nation itself, not forced upon them by
English interference.

As to the merits, sir, of the new constitution of Portugal, I have
neither the intention nor the right to offer any opinion. Personally,
I may have formed one; but as an English minister, all I have to say
is: May God prosper this attempt at the establishment of constitutional
liberty in Portugal! and may that nation be found as fit to enjoy and
to cherish its new-born privileges, as it has often proved itself
capable of discharging its duties among the nations of the world!

I, sir, am neither the champion nor the critic of the Portuguese
constitution. But it is admitted on all hands to have proceeded from
a legitimate source—a consideration which has mainly reconciled
continental Europe to its establishment; and to us, as Englishmen,
it is recommended by the ready acceptance which it has met with from
all orders of the Portuguese people. To that constitution, therefore,
thus unquestioned in its origin, even by those who are most jealous of
new institutions—to that constitution, thus sanctioned in its outset
by the glad and grateful acclamations of those who are destined to
live under it—to that constitution, founded on principles, in a great
degree, similar to those of our own, though differently modified,—it
is impossible that Englishmen should not wish well. But it would not
be for us to force that constitution on the people of Portugal, if
they were unwilling to receive it, or if any schism should exist among
the Portuguese themselves, as to its fitness and congenialty to the
wants and wishes of the nation. It is no business of ours to fight its
battles. We go to Portugal in the discharge of a sacred obligation,
contracted under ancient and modern treaties. When there, nothing shall
be done by us to enforce the establishment of the constitution; but we
must take care that nothing shall be done by others to prevent it from
being fairly carried into effect. Internally, let the Portuguese settle
their own affairs; but with respect to external force, while Great
Britain has an arm to raise, it must be raised against the efforts of
any power that should attempt forcibly to control the choice and fetter
the independence of Portugal.

Has such been the intention of Spain? Whether the proceedings which
have lately been practised or permitted in Spain were acts of a
government exercising the usual power of prudence and foresight
(without which a government is, for the good of the people which
live under it, no government at all), or whether they were the acts
of some secret illegitimate power—of some furious fanatical faction,
over-riding the counsels of the ostensible government, defying it in
the capital, and disobeying it on the frontiers,—I will not stop to
inquire. It is indifferent to Portugal, smarting under her wrongs—it
is indifferent to England, who is called upon to avenge them,—whether
the present state of things be the result of the intrigues of a
faction, over which, if the Spanish Government has no control, it
ought to assume one as soon as possible; or of local authorities, over
whom it has control, and for whose acts it must, therefore, be held
responsible. It matters not, I say, from which of these sources the
evil has arisen. In either case, Portugal must be protected; and from
England that protection is due.

It would be unjust, however, to the Spanish Government, to say that
it is only among the members of that government that an unconquerable
hatred of liberal institutions exists in Spain. However incredible
the phenomena may appear in this country, I am persuaded that a vast
majority of the Spanish nation entertain a decided attachment to
arbitrary power, and a predilection for absolute government. The
more liberal institutions of countries in the neighborhood have not
yet extended their influence into Spain, nor awakened any sympathy
in the mass of the Spanish people. Whether the public authorities of
Spain did or did not partake of the national sentiment, there would
almost necessarily grow up between Portugal and Spain, under present
circumstances, an opposition of feelings which it would not require
the authority or the suggestions of the government to excite and
stimulate into action. Without blame, therefore, to the government
of Spain—out of the natural antipathy between the two neighboring
nations—the one prizing its recent freedom, the other hugging its
traditionary servitude,—there might arise mutual provocations and
reciprocal injuries, which, perhaps, even the most active and vigilant
ministry could not altogether restrain. I am inclined to believe that
such has been, in part at least, the origin of the differences between
Spain and Portugal. That in their progress they have been adopted,
matured, methodized, combined, and brought into more perfect action,
by some authority more united and more efficient than the mere feeling
disseminated through the mass of the community, is certain; but I do
believe their origin to have been as much in the real sentiment of the
Spanish population, as in the opinion or contrivance of the government

Whether this be or be not the case, is precisely the question between
us and Spain. If, though partaking in the general feelings of the
Spanish nation, the Spanish Government has, nevertheless, done nothing
to embody those feelings, and to direct them hostilely against
Portugal; if all that has occurred on the frontiers has occurred only
because the vigilance of the Spanish Government has been surprised,
its confidence betrayed, and its orders neglected; if its engagements
have been repeatedly and shamefully violated, not by its own good-will,
but against its recommendation and desire, let us see some symptoms of
disapprobation, some signs of repentance, some measures indicative of
sorrow for the past and of sincerity for the future. In that case, his
Majesty’s message, to which I propose this night to return an answer of
concurrence, will retain the character which I have ascribed to it—that
of a measure of defence for Portugal, not a measure of resentment again

With these explanations and qualifications, let us now proceed to
the review of facts. Great desertions took place from the Portuguese
army into Spain, and some desertions took place from the Spanish army
into Portugal. In the first instance, the Portuguese authorities were
taken by surprise; but in every subsequent instance, where they had
an opportunity of exercising a discretion, it is but just to say that
they uniformly discouraged the desertions of the Spanish soldiery.
There exist between Spain and Portugal specific treaties, stipulating
the mutual surrender of deserters. Portugal had, therefore, a right to
claim of Spain that every Portuguese deserter should be forthwith sent
back. I hardly know whether from its own impulse, or in consequence
of our advice, the Portuguese Government waived its right under those
treaties; very wisely reflecting that it would be highly inconvenient
to be placed by the return of their deserters in the difficult
alternative of either granting a dangerous amnesty or ordering numerous
executions. The Portuguese Government, therefore, signified to Spain
that it would be entirely satisfied if, instead of surrendering the
deserters, Spain would restore their arms, horses, and equipments; and,
separating the men from their officers, would remove both from the
frontiers into the interior of Spain. Solemn engagements were entered
into by the Spanish Government to this effect—first with Portugal, next
with France, and afterward with England. Those engagements, concluded
one day, were violated the next. The deserters, instead of being
disarmed and dispersed, were allowed to remain congregated together
near the frontiers of Portugal, where they were enrolled, trained, and
disciplined for the expedition which they have since undertaken. It is
plain that in these proceedings there was perfidy somewhere. It rests
with the Spanish Government to show that it was not with them. It rests
with the Spanish Government to prove that, if its engagements have not
been fulfilled—if its intentions have been eluded and unexecuted,—the
fault has not been with the government, and that it is ready to make
every reparation in its power.

I have said that these promises were made to France and to Great
Britain as well as to Portugal. I should do a great injustice to France
if I were not to add, that the representations of that government upon
this point to the cabinet of Madrid, have been as urgent, and alas!
as fruitless, as those of Great Britain. Upon the first irruption
into the Portuguese territory, the French Government testified its
displeasure by instantly recalling its embassador; and it further
directed its chargé d’affaires to signify to his Catholic Majesty,
that Spain was not to look for any support from France against the
consequences of this aggression upon Portugal. I am bound, I repeat,
in justice to the French Government, to state, that it has exerted
itself to the utmost in urging Spain to retrace the steps which she
has so unfortunately taken. It is not for me to say whether any more
efficient course might have been adopted to give effect to their
exhortations; but as to the sincerity and good faith of the exertions
made by the government of France to press Spain to the execution of her
engagements, I have not the shadow of a doubt, and I confidently reckon
upon their continuance.

It will be for Spain, upon knowledge of the step now taken by his
Majesty, to consider in what way she will meet it. The earnest hope
and wish of his Majesty’s Government is, that she may meet it in such
a manner as to avert any ill consequences to herself from the measure
into which we have been driven by the unjust attack upon Portugal.

Sir, I set out with saying that there were reasons which entirely
satisfied my judgment that nothing short of a point of national faith
or national honor would justify, at the present moment, any voluntary
approximation to the possibility of war. Let me be understood,
however, distinctly as not meaning to say that I dread war in a good
cause (and in no other way may it be the lot of this country ever to
engage!) from a distrust of the strength of the country to commence
it, or of her resources to maintain it. I dread it, indeed—but upon
far other grounds: I dread it from an apprehension of the tremendous
consequences which might arise from any hostilities in which we might
now be engaged. Some years ago, in the discussion of the negotiations
respecting the French war against Spain, I took the liberty of
adverting to this topic. I then stated that the position of this
country in the present state of the world was one of neutrality, not
only between contending nations, but between conflicting principles;
and that it was by neutrality alone that we could maintain that
balance, the preservation of which I believed to be essential to the
welfare of mankind. I then said, that I feared that the next war which
should be kindled in Europe would be a war not so much of armies as
of opinions. Not four years have elapsed, and behold my apprehension
realized! It is, to be sure, within narrow limits that this war of
opinion is at present confined; but it _is_ a war of opinion that Spain
(whether as government or as nation) is now waging against Portugal;
it is a war which has commenced in hatred of the new institutions
of Portugal. How long is it reasonable to expect that Portugal will
abstain from retaliation? If into that war this country shall be
compelled to enter, we shall enter into it with a sincere and anxious
desire to mitigate rather than exasperate—and to mingle only in the
conflict of arms, not in the more fatal conflict of opinions. But
I much fear that this country (however earnestly she may endeavor
to avoid it) could not, in such case, avoid seeing ranked under her
banners all the restless and dissatisfied of any nation with which she
might come in conflict. It is the contemplation of this new _power_ in
any future war which excites my most anxious apprehension. It is one
thing to have a giant’s strength, but it would be another to use it
like a giant. The consciousness of such strength is, undoubtedly, a
source of confidence and security; but in the situation in which this
country stands, our business is not to seek opportunities of displaying
it, but to content ourselves with letting the professors of violent and
exaggerated doctrines on both sides feel, that it is not their interest
to convert an umpire into an adversary. The situation of England, amid
the struggle of political opinions which agitates more or less sensibly
different countries of the world, may be compared to that of the Ruler
of the Winds, as described by the poet:

                          “Celsâ sedet Æolus arce,
    Sceptra tenens; mollitque animos et temperat iras
    Ni faciat, maria ac terras cœlumque profundum
    Quippe ferant rapidi secum, verrantque per auras.”[1]

The consequence of letting loose the passions at present chained and
confined, would be to produce a scene of desolation which no man can
contemplate without horror; and I should not sleep easy on my couch if
I were conscious that I had contributed to precipitate it by a single

This, then, is the reason—a reason very different from fear—the
reverse of a consciousness of disability—why I dread the recurrence of
hostilities in any part of Europe; why I would bear much, and would
forbear long; why I would (as I have said) put up with almost any
thing that did not touch national faith and national honor, rather than
let slip the furies of war, the leash of which we hold in our hands—not
knowing whom they may reach, or how far their ravages may be carried.
Such is the love of peace which the British Government acknowledges;
and such the necessity for peace which the circumstances of the world
inculcate. I will push these topics no further.

I return, in conclusion, to the object of the address. Let us fly to
the aid of Portugal, by whomsoever attacked, because it is our duty to
do so; and let us cease our interference where that duty ends. We go to
Portugal not to rule, not to dictate, not to prescribe constitutions,
but to defend and to preserve the independence of an ally. We go to
plant the standard of England on the well-known heights of Lisbon.
Where that standard is planted, foreign dominion shall not come.


In August of 1825 there appeared in the _Edinburgh Review_ an article
on Milton which attracted instantaneous and universal attention. Though
it did not, perhaps, go to the bottom of the various topics it had to
deal with, it displayed so wonderful a range of knowledge, so great
a variety of strong and striking thoughts, and such a splendor of
rhetoric, that it dazzled and drew into an earnest enthusiasm the host
of readers of that already famous journal. When it came to be known
that the author of this marvellous piece of literary workmanship was
a young man of only twenty-five, it was at once perceived that a new
luminary had made its appearance in the galaxy of English authorship.
From that time till the day when, nearly thirty years later, his
services in behalf of letters were rewarded with a grave in the Poets’
Corner at Westminster Abbey, Thomas Babington Macaulay wielded a
literary influence not surpassed by that of any other master of English

He was the son of Zachary Macaulay, a man who had distinguished
himself as an anti-slavery philanthropist even among men like Stephen,
Clarkson, and Wilberforce. His mother was a daughter of Thomas Mills, a
bookseller, and a Quaker. Though the lad did not inherit a fortune, his
father was able without much inconvenience to give him the advantages
of an education at one of the universities. Up to the age of thirteen
he was taught almost exclusively by his mother; and when he was at
length placed in a private school, his brightness and eagerness of mind
astonished all those with whom he came in contact. That most charming
of all biographies of literary men, Trevelyan’s “Life and Letters of
Macaulay,” teems with evidence of his singular attainments at an early

At Cambridge, which he entered at the age of eighteen, he devoted
himself with great fervor to the study of the classics, to reading in
history and general literature, and to the development of his abilities
as an extemporaneous speaker. He took whatever prizes came in his way,
but, owing to his distaste for the mathematics, did not try for honors
at the completion of his course. On leaving the university with the
degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1822, his mental habits and peculiarities
seem to have been substantially fixed. He was already master of vast
stores of information, which he always seemed to keep under the play
of his wit and his imagination. His memory was so prodigious that he
could repeat the names of the popes either backward or forward; and
he once remarked that if every copy of the “Paradise Lost” were to be
destroyed, he thought he could reproduce the poem from memory. He read
with such marvellous rapidity that he would devour a book in the course
of a morning walk in London; and the vast accumulations which he
thus brought into the range of his knowledge were so vitalized by his
feelings and his imagination that they were always completely at his

Though his biographer shows us that he was one of the most charming
and lovable of men, his writings would convey another impression. He
appears never to have had any self-distrust; he was seldom in doubt
on any subject; what to others seemed mere probabilities were to him
positive certainties; indeed, on whatever question he wrote or spoke
his opinions always seemed to have been irrevocably fixed long before.
Lord Melbourne told the whole story when he once said: “I wish I was as
cock-sure of any thing as Tom Macaulay is of every thing.”

The essay on Milton was followed at brief intervals by that remarkable
series on Machiavelli, Dryden, Hallam, Hampden, Ranke, and others,
which has been the delight and inspiration of so many students in
England and America. Macaulay studied law, but we never hear that
his literary labors were disturbed by clients. The prices which his
articles commanded in the market of the Reviews enabled him to gratify
his tastes; and he seems never to have had any inclination to push
himself into an active practice of his profession.

One of the peculiar merits claimed for the old borough system by
its friends was that it enabled young men of great promise to find
an easy way into the House of Commons. Pitt, Channing, and Brougham
had first been appointed from pocket boroughs, and now Macaulay was
to receive a similar favor. In 1830, the very year when the Whigs,
after a long exclusion from office, came into power under Lord Grey,
Macaulay, through the favor of Lord Lansdowne, entered the House, as
the Member for Calne. Though he afterward boasted that, while sitting
as the nominee of Lord Lansdowne, he was as independent as when at a
later period he represented the popular constituencies of Leeds and
Edinburgh, it is worthy of note that from the first he was an ardent
and unqualified supporter of the Whigs. In the great question of
Representative Reform his sympathies were thoroughly enlisted on the
side of Earl Grey; and his speeches on the subject, four in number,
contributed not a little to the final triumph of that great movement.
Some of his letters, given by Trevelyan, reveal in the most graphic
light the intensity of public feeling while the contest was going on.

In the reformed Parliament of 1834 he took a seat as a member from
Leeds; but in that same year his place was made vacant by his
appointment as one of the Government Council for India. For this
position he was amply qualified. His essays on the “Utilitarian Theory
of Government” and “Dumont’s Recollections of Mirabeau” showed that he
had studied jurisprudence as a science, and even that he considered
the province of a jurist as superior to that of a statesman. Moreover
he had made an especial study of India. In July of 1833 the Government
brought forward its new India Bill, and Macaulay’s speech on the
measure left perhaps even a deeper impression than had been made by
either of his speeches on the Reform Bill. Jeffrey, who happened to
be present, wrote to one of his correspondents: “Mack is a marvellous
person. He made the very best speech that has been made this session on
India. The Speaker, who is a severe judge, says he rather thinks it the
best speech he ever heard.”

Trevelyan, in his life of Macaulay, has thrown out into clear light
the object of his uncle in exiling himself from England during four
years by going to India. While Macaulay was not without faith that he
could be of service to the Government, the consideration which led
to his decision was of a pecuniary nature. Though unmarried, he was
not in a condition to be strictly independent, and without pecuniary
independence, he was open to the charge while in Parliament of being
an adventurer. The salary of the position offered was liberal, even in
the English sense of that term. He was to receive £10,000 a year; and
his letters show with what care he computed that, being a bachelor, he
could live in India even in a governmental position on $25,000 a year,
and save a similar amount for permanent investment. His hope was that
at the end of five years he would be able to return with about $125,000
and henceforth devote himself with entire independence to a higher
range of literary study. He had already begun to make plans for his
great History.

There were, however, those who regarded the appointment as an unmerited
reward for political services. When some one sneered at his abilities,
Shiel, in his mocking way, replied: “Nonsense, sir! Don’t attempt to
run down Macaulay; he’s the cleverest man in Christendom. Didn’t he
make four speeches on the Reform Bill and get £10,000 a year? Think of
that and be dumb!”

While in India Macaulay’s chief energies were devoted to the
preparation of a code, by which he hoped to solve the perplexing
problems that constantly thrust themselves forward in the government
of that teeming peninsula. Though in this effort he was not successful,
the ability and ingenuity of his work were generally acknowledged. His
code was regarded as impracticable, and was finally rejected. It was
during his stay in India that the essays on Mackintosh and Bacon were

Soon after his return in 1838 an election to Parliament by the
important constituency of Edinburgh once more brought him into
legislative activity. He supported Lord Melbourne till the downfall of
his ministry, in 1841, and then became an opponent of Sir Robert Peel,
in opposition to whose policy he delivered some of his ablest speeches.
When a candidate for reëlection in 1847, he was defeated on account of
some offence he had given in advocating a policy of liberality toward
the means of educating Catholics in Ireland. But this defeat, though
deeply mortifying to him at the time, was not without compensating
advantages. He now had leisure to devote himself to the great literary
work which for a considerable time had already been under his pen. In
1848 appeared the first two volumes of the “History of England from the
Time of James the Second.” The work sprang at once into that phenomenal
popularity which has scarcely yet abated, for it still enjoys the
high distinction of having been more read than any other historical
work in the language. The third and fourth volumes were given to the
world in 1855, just as he was beginning to feel the approaches of that
irresistible disease which was soon to bring his labors to an untimely
end. Two years after the appearance of the fourth volume his services
in behalf of history and letters were rewarded with the peerage. The
numerous essays flowing from his pen still showed that the splendor of
his faculties was undimmed, and it was therefore with surprise as well
as sorrow that, late in December of 1859, the English-speaking world
learned of his death from disease of the heart. With the unanimous
concurrence of a mourning nation, he was given the highest literary
honor of a burial in the Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey.

The peculiarities of Macaulay’s oratory were strikingly similar to
those of his writings. With the exception, however, of his speech on
the government of India, no one of his orations has the elaborateness
so characteristic of his essays. Perhaps the most vivid notion of the
methods and qualities of his address is conveyed by the description
that appeared in the “Noctes Ambrosianæ” immediately after the delivery
of the speech selected for this volume. It is the description of a
most ardent political enemy and a most energetic hater of all Whigs.
After saying that Macaulay is “the cleverest declaimer on the Whig
side of the House,” Wilson goes on to say: “He is an ugly, cross-made,
splay-footed, shapeless little dumpling of a fellow, with a featureless
face too—except, indeed, a good expansive forehead,—sleek, puritanical,
sandy hair, large glimmering eyes, and a mouth from ear to ear. He has
a lisp and burr, moreover, and speaks thickly and huskily for several
minutes before he gets into the swing of his discourse; but after that
nothing can be more dazzling than his whole execution. What he says
is substantially, of course, stuff and nonsense; but it is so well
worded, and so volubly and forcibly delivered—there is such an endless
string of epigram and antithesis—such a flashing of epithets, such
an accumulation of images, and the voice is so trumpet-like, and the
action so grotesquely emphatic, that you might hear a pin drop in the
House. Even Manners Sutton himself listens.”



  The privilege of representation in the House of Commons was early
  conferred on different localities for a variety of reasons. Before
  the end of the seventeenth century the constituency of the House had
  come to be fixed. Seats were held by representatives of counties and
  of such cities and boroughs as for one reason or another had been
  admitted as a mark of royal favor. In the course of the eighteenth
  century it came to be plainly seen that the development of the
  country was constantly increasing the anomalies and inequalities
  of representation. Boroughs which in the fourteenth and fifteenth
  centuries had received the right of representation continued to send
  one or two members, even though as in some localities the population
  had entirely dwindled away; and large cities like Liverpool,
  Manchester, and Leeds had grown up to a population of hundreds of
  thousands without any representation whatever.

  This system gave every encouragement to corruption. The smaller
  boroughs were eagerly bought by those who desired to control the
  politics of the Lower House; and consequently, before the end of the
  last century it was found that so many of the boroughs were owned by
  members of the House of Lords that both Houses of Parliament were
  under the control of the nobility. Some of the peers, besides sitting
  in person in the House of Lords, virtually appointed four, five,
  six, or, in one instance, nine members of the House of Commons. Of
  the decayed boroughs some were held by the government, some by peers,
  and some by unscrupulous speculators who were in the habit of selling
  the representation to the highest bidders. In times of political
  excitement bribery became systematic, and in some cases assumed
  colossal proportions. That the constitution was able to survive
  the strain put upon it, is perhaps the most striking proof of its
  remarkable vitality and strength.

  The necessity of a fundamental reform in the methods of
  representation was first publicly announced by Lord Chatham in his
  speech on the right of taxing the American colonies. The younger
  Pitt, in the early years of his administration, made several attempts
  to bring the subject into parliamentary favor. But the excesses of
  the French Revolution made even reformers timid; and the government
  was so exclusively occupied with the Napoleonic wars that the
  agitation made but slow progress. It happened, moreover, that for
  several years the most eloquent and influential members of the House
  of Commons were opposed to the measure. From 1807 to 1830 the Tories
  were in power, and during this period, therefore, there was no reason
  to hope that any thing could be done except in the way of creating
  public opinion.

  At the head of the movement in behalf of reform was Earl Grey. For
  nearly half a century he devoted his great energies and his excellent
  judgment to the subject with such skill and discretion that constant
  inroads were made on public opinion. At length the subject took
  so strong hold of the people that in spite of the fact that the
  Tories were intrenched in power behind the old system, the Whigs
  were victorious in the election of 1830. Earl Grey was appointed
  Prime-Minister, and it was universally understood that the first
  object of the government would be the passage of a reform bill.

  The leader of the government in the House of Commons was Lord John
  Russell, who had been scarcely second to Earl Grey in active sympathy
  for reform. To him, therefore, was intrusted the introduction of
  the measure. His speech explaining the provisions of the bill at
  once placed it before Parliament and the country as a question of
  the most momentous importance. The sweeping provisions of the act
  aroused the most violent opposition and even the ridicule of the
  Tories. It proposed to disfranchise fifty-six rotten boroughs and
  to redistribute the 143 seats thus made vacant. It also changed the
  basis of franchise in constituencies not otherwise disturbed. But
  the country favored the movement, and soon the cry was raised that
  nothing would satisfy the nation but “the whole bill and nothing but
  the bill.”

  When the measure, after a most able discussion on both sides, finally
  came to a second reading, it was carried in the House of Commons,
  amid unparalleled excitement, by a majority of 302 to 301. The
  smallness of this majority made it doubtful whether the bill could
  be finally carried even in the House of Commons. An amendment was
  offered on which the government was defeated. As the subject was now
  the all-absorbing question before the nation, the ministry determined
  to dissolve Parliament, and thus bring public opinion to a definite
  expression. The result showed the wisdom of the course; for more than
  a hundred who had voted against the bill lost their seats. With some
  trifling changes the measure was re-introduced into the House of
  Commons, and speedily carried. It then went to the House of Lords,
  where it was discussed perhaps with even greater ability than had
  been shown in the Lower House. Grey and Brougham urged the measure
  with great earnestness, while Eldon and Lyndhurst opposed it with
  scarcely less skill and power. On coming to a final vote the bill was
  defeated by a majority of forty-three.

  The excitement in the country over this result was unparalleled.
  The attitude of the Lords was in evident opposition to the will of
  the country; and there was much speculation as to the course which
  ought to be pursued. At length the ministry determined not only to
  re-introduce the measure, but also to advise the king to create
  new peers in sufficient number to carry the bill through the Upper
  House. A list of about eighty names was made out for this purpose.
  The House of Lords, however, at the last moment gave way. The Duke of
  Wellington and a knot of his followers, unwilling that so violent a
  method should be resorted to, absented themselves from the House in
  order that the bill might be carried in their absence, and without
  any responsibility on their part. This most important measure of
  modern English legislation became a law on the 7th of June, 1832.

  The action taken has generally been considered as establishing an
  important constitutional precedent. The significance of the method
  resorted to has been well indicated by Bagehot in his brilliant work
  on the English constitution. He says of the Lords: “Their veto is a
  sort of hypothetical veto. They say: We reject your bill this once,
  or these twice, or even these thrice; but if you keep sending it
  up, at the last we won’t reject it. The House has ceased to be one
  of latent directors, and has become one of temporary rejectors and
  palpable alterers.”

  The following speech of Macaulay was one of the first of those
  delivered on the bill in the House of Commons. No other speech in
  the whole course of the discussion gave a more comprehensive view
  of the vast interests involved in the great measure. The day after
  the delivery of the speech his sister wrote: “His voice from cold
  and over-excitement got quite into a scream towards the last part. A
  person told him that he had not heard such speaking since Fox. ‘You
  have not heard such screaming since Fox,’ he replied.”

It is a circumstance, sir, of happy augury for the motion before
the House, that almost all those who have opposed it have declared
themselves hostile on principle to parliamentary reform. Two members,
I think, have confessed that, though they disapprove of the plan now
submitted to us, they are forced to admit the necessity of a change
in the representative system. Yet even those gentlemen have used, as
far as I have observed, no arguments which would not apply as strongly
to the most moderate change as to that which has been proposed by
his Majesty’s Government. I say, sir, that I consider this as a
circumstance of happy augury. For what I feared was, not the opposition
of those who are averse to all reform, but the disunion of reformers.
I knew that during three months every reformer had been employed
in conjecturing what the plan of the government would be. I knew
that every reformer had imagined in his own mind a scheme differing
doubtless in some points from that which my noble friend, the Paymaster
of the Forces (Lord John Russell), has developed. I felt, therefore,
great apprehension that one person would be dissatisfied with one part
of the bill, that another person would be dissatisfied with another
part, and that thus our whole strength would be wasted in internal
dissensions. That apprehension is now at an end. I have seen with
delight the perfect concord which prevails among all who deserve the
name of reformers in this House; and I trust that I may consider it as
an omen of the concord which will prevail among reformers throughout
the country. I will not, sir, at present express any opinion as to the
details of the bill; but having during the last twenty-four hours given
the most diligent consideration to its general principles, I have no
hesitation in pronouncing it a wise, noble, and comprehensive measure,
skilfully framed for the healing of great distempers, for the securing
at once of the public liberties, and of the public repose, and for the
reconciling and knitting together of all the orders of the state.

The honorable baronet who has just sat down (Sir Robert Peel) has
told us that the ministers have attempted to unite two inconsistent
principles in one abortive measure. Those were his very words. He
thinks, if I understand him rightly, that we ought either to leave
the representative system such as it is, or to make it perfectly
symmetrical. I think, sir, that the ministers would have acted unwisely
if they had taken either course. Their principle is plain, rational,
and consistent. It is this, to admit the middle class to a large and
direct share in the representation, without any violent shock to the
institutions of our country. [Hear! hear!] I understand those cheers;
but surely the gentlemen who utter them will allow that the change
which will be made in our institutions by this bill is far less
violent than that which, according to the honorable baronet, ought to
be made if we make any reform at all. I praise the ministers for not
attempting, at the present time, to make the representation uniform. I
praise them for not effacing the old distinction between the towns and
the counties, and for not assigning members to districts, according
to the American practice, by the Rule of Three. The government has,
in my opinion, done all that was necessary for the removal of a great
practical evil, and no more than was necessary.

I consider this, sir, as a practical question. I rest my opinion on
no general theory of government. I distrust all general theories of
government. I will not positively say, that there is any form of polity
which may not, in some conceivable circumstances, be the best possible.
I believe that there are societies in which every man may safely be
admitted to vote. [Hear! hear!] Gentlemen may cheer, but such is my
opinion. I say, sir, that there are countries in which the condition
of the laboring classes is such that they may safely be entrusted with
the right of electing members of the legislature. If the laborers of
England were in that state in which I, from my soul, wish to see them;
if employment were always plentiful, wages always high, food always
cheap; if a large family were considered not as an encumbrance but
as a blessing, the principal objections to universal suffrage would,
I think, be removed. Universal suffrage exists in the United States
without producing any very frightful consequences; and I do not believe
that the people of those States, or of any part of the world, are
in any good quality naturally superior to our own countrymen. But,
unhappily, the laboring classes in England, and in all old countries,
are occasionally in a state of great distress. Some of the causes of
this distress are, I fear, beyond the control of the government. We
know what effect distress produces, even on people more intelligent
than the great body of the laboring classes can possibly be. We know
that it makes even wise men irritable, unreasonable, credulous, eager
for immediate relief, heedless of remote consequences. There is no
quackery in medicine, religion, or politics, which may not impose even
on a powerful mind, when that mind has been disordered by pain or fear.
It is therefore no reflection on the poorer class of Englishmen, who
are not, and who cannot in the nature of things be, highly educated, to
say that distress produces on them its natural effects, those effects
which it would produce on the Americans, or on any other people; that
it blinds their judgment, that it inflames their passions, that it
makes them prone to believe those who flatter them, and to distrust
those who would serve them. For the sake, therefore, of the whole
society; for the sake of the laboring classes themselves, I hold it
to be clearly expedient that, in a country like this, the right of
suffrage should depend on a pecuniary qualification.

But, sir, every argument which would induce me to oppose universal
suffrage induces me to support the plan which is now before us. I am
opposed to universal suffrage, because I think that it would produce
a destructive revolution. I support this plan, because I am sure that
it is our best security against a revolution. The noble Paymaster of
the Forces hinted, delicately indeed and remotely, at this subject. He
spoke of the danger of disappointing the expectations of the nation;
and for this he was charged with threatening the House. Sir, in the
year 1817, the late Lord Londonderry proposed a suspension of the
habeas-corpus act. On that occasion he told the House that, unless the
measures which he recommended were adopted, the public peace could
not be preserved. Was he accused of threatening the House? Again,
in the year 1819, he proposed the laws known by the name of the Six
Acts. He then told the House that, unless the executive power were
reinforced, all the institutions of the country would be overturned by
popular violence. Was he then accused of threatening the House? Will
any gentleman say that it is parliamentary and decorous to urge the
danger arising from popular discontent as an argument for severity; but
that it is unparliamentary and indecorous to urge that same danger as
an argument for conciliation? I, sir, do entertain great apprehension
for the fate of my country; I do in my conscience believe that, unless
the plan proposed, or some similar plan, be speedily adopted, great
and terrible calamities will befall us. Entertaining this opinion,
I think myself bound to state it, not as a threat, but as a reason.
I support this bill because it will improve our institutions; but I
support it also because it tends to preserve them. That we may exclude
those whom it is necessary to exclude, we must admit those whom it may
be safe to admit. At present we oppose the schemes of revolutionists
with only one half, with only one quarter, of our proper force. We say,
and we say justly, that it is not by mere numbers, but by property and
intelligence, that the nation ought to be governed. Yet, saying this,
we exclude from all share in the government great masses of property
and intelligence, great numbers of those who are most interested in
preserving tranquillity, and who know best how to preserve it. We do
more. We drive over to the side of revolution those whom we shut out
from power. Is this a time when the cause of law and order can spare
one of its natural allies?

My noble friend, the Paymaster of the Forces, happily described the
effect which some parts of our representative system would produce
on the mind of a foreigner, who had heard much of our freedom and
greatness. If, sir, I wished to make such a foreigner clearly
understand what I consider as the great defects of our system, I
would conduct him through that immense city which lies to the north
of Great Russell Street and Oxford Street, a city superior in size
and population to the capitals of many mighty kingdoms; and probably
superior in opulence, intelligence, and general respectability, to
any city in the world. I would conduct him through that interminable
succession of streets and squares, all consisting of well-built and
well-furnished houses. I would make him observe the brilliancy of the
shops and the crowd of well-appointed equipages. I would show him that
magnificent circle of palaces which surrounds the Regent’s Park. I
would tell him that the rental of this district was far greater than
that of the whole kingdom of Scotland at the time of the Union. And
then I would tell him, that this was an unrepresented district.[2] It
is needless to give any more instances. It is needless to speak of
Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield, with no representation, or
of Edinburgh and Glasgow with a mock representation.[3] If a property
tax were now imposed on the principle that no person who had less than
a hundred and fifty pounds a year should contribute, I should not be
surprised to find that one half in number and value of the contributors
had no votes at all; and it would, beyond all doubt, be found that one
fiftieth part in number and value of the contributors had a larger
share of the representation than the other forty-nine fiftieths. This
is not government by property. It is government by certain detached
portions and fragments of property, selected from the rest, and
preferred to the rest, on no rational principle whatever.

To say that such a system is ancient is no defence. My honorable
friend, the member for the University of Oxford, challenges us to
show that the constitution was ever better than it is. Sir, we are
legislators, not antiquaries. The question for us is, not whether the
constitution was better formerly, but whether we can make it better
now. In fact, however, the system was not in ancient times, by any
means, so absurd as it is in our age. One noble Lord [Lord Stormont]
has to-night told us that the town of Aldborough, which he represents,
was not larger in the time of Edward the First than it is at present.
The line of its walls, he assures us, may still be traced. It is now
built up to that line. He argues, therefore, that as the founder of
our representative institutions gave members to Aldborough when it
was as small as it now is, those who would disfranchise it on account
of its smallness have no right to say that they are recurring to the
original principle of our representative institutions. But does the
noble Lord remember the change which has taken place in the country
during the last five centuries? Does he remember how much England
has grown in population, while Aldborough has been standing still?
Does he consider, that in the time of Edward the First the kingdom
did not contain two millions of inhabitants? It now contains nearly
fourteen millions. A hamlet of the present day would have been a town
of some importance in the time of our early Parliaments. Aldborough
may be absolutely as considerable a place as ever, but, compared with
the kingdom, it is much less considerable, by the noble Lord’s own
showing, than when it first elected burgesses. My honorable friend, the
member for the University of Oxford, has collected numerous instances
of the tyranny which the kings and nobles anciently exercised, both
over this House and over the electors. It is not strange that, in
times when nothing was held sacred, the rights of the people, and of
the representatives of the people, should not have been held sacred.
The proceedings which my honorable friend has mentioned no more prove
that, by the ancient constitution of the realm, this House ought to be
a tool of the king and of the aristocracy, than the benevolences and
the shipmoney prove their own legality, or than those unjustifiable
arrests, which took place long after the ratification of the Great
Charter, and even after the Petition of Right, prove that the subject
was not anciently entitled to his personal liberty. We talk of the
wisdom of our ancestors; and in one respect at least they were wiser
than we. They legislated for their own times. They looked at the
England which was before them. They did not think it necessary to give
twice as many members to York as they gave to London, because York
had been capital of Britain in the time of Constantius Chlorus; and
they would have been amazed indeed if they had foreseen that a city
of more than a hundred thousand inhabitants would be left without
representatives in the nineteenth century, merely because it stood on
ground which, in the thirteenth century, had been occupied by a few
huts. They framed a representative system, which, though not without
defects and irregularities, was well adapted to the state of England
in their time. But a great revolution took place. The character of the
old corporations changed. New forms of property came into existence.
New portions of society rose into importance. There were in our rural
districts rich cultivators, who were not freeholders. There were in
our capital rich traders, who were not livery men. Towns shrank into
villages. Villages swelled into cities larger than the London of the
Plantagenets. Unhappily, while the natural growth of society went on,
the artificial polity continued unchanged. The ancient form of the
representation remained, and precisely because the form remained, the
spirit departed. Then came that pressure almost to bursting, the new
wine in the old bottles, the new society under the old institutions.
It is now time for us to pay a decent, a rational, a manly reverence
to our ancestors, not by superstitiously adhering to what they, in
other circumstances, did, but by doing what they, in our circumstances,
would have done. All history is full of revolutions, produced by
causes similar to those which are now operating in England. A portion
of the community which had been of no account, expands and becomes
strong. It demands a place in the system, suited, not to its former
weakness, but to its present power. If this is granted, all is well.
If this is refused, then comes the struggle between the young energy
of one class and the ancient privileges of another. Such was the
struggle between the Plebeians and the Patricians of Rome. Such was
the struggle of the Italian allies for admission to the full rights of
Roman citizens. Such was the struggle of our North American colonies
against the mother country. Such was the struggle which the Third
Estate of France maintained against the aristocracy of birth. Such was
the struggle which the Roman Catholics of Ireland maintained against
the aristocracy of creed. Such is the struggle which the free people of
color in Jamaica are now maintaining against the aristocracy of skin.
Such, finally, is the struggle which the middle classes in England
are maintaining against an aristocracy of mere locality, against an
aristocracy, the principle of which is to invest a hundred drunken
potwallopers in one place, or the owner of a ruined hovel in another,
with powers which are withheld from cities renowned to the farthest
ends of the earth for the marvels of their wealth, and of their

But these great cities, says my honorable friend, the member for the
University of Oxford, are virtually, though not directly, represented.
Are not the wishes of Manchester, he asks, as much consulted as those
of any town which sends members to Parliament? Now, sir, I do not
understand how a power which is salutary when exercised virtually can
be noxious when exercised directly. If the wishes of Manchester have as
much weight with us as they would have under a system which should give
representatives to Manchester, how can there be any danger in giving
representatives to Manchester? A virtual representative is, I presume,
a man who acts as a direct representative would act; for surely it
would be absurd to say that a man virtually represents the people of
Manchester, who is in the habit of saying No, when a man directly
representing the people of Manchester would say Aye. The utmost that
can be expected from virtual Representation is, that it may be as good
as direct representation. If so, why not grant direct representation
to places which, as everybody allows, ought, by some process or other,
to be represented?

If it be said that there is an evil in change as change, I answer
that there is also an evil in discontent as discontent. This, indeed,
is the strongest part of our case. It is said that the system works
well. I deny it. I deny that a system works well, which the people
regard with aversion. We may say here that it is a good system and a
perfect system. But if any man were to say so to any six hundred and
fifty-eight respectable farmers or shop-keepers, chosen by lot in
any part of England, he would be hooted down and laughed to scorn.
Are these the feelings with which any part of the government ought
to be regarded? Above all, are these the feelings with which the
popular branch of the legislature ought to be regarded? It is almost
as essential to the utility of a House of Commons, that it should
possess the confidence of the people, as that it should deserve that
confidence. Unfortunately, that which is in theory the popular part
of our government, is in practice the unpopular part. Who wishes to
dethrone the king? Who wishes to turn the Lords out of their House?
Here and there a crazy Radical, whom the boys in the street point at as
he walks along. Who wishes to alter the constitution of this House? The
whole people. It is natural that it should be so. The House of Commons
is, in the language of Mr. Burke, a check, not on the people, but for
the people. While that check is efficient, there is no reason to fear
that the king or the nobles will oppress the people. But if that check
requires checking, how is it to be checked? If the salt shall lose its
savor, wherewith shall we season it? The distrust with which the nation
regards this House may be unjust. But what then? Can you remove that
distrust? That it exists cannot be denied. That it is an evil cannot be
denied. That it is an increasing evil cannot be denied. One gentleman
tells us that it has been produced by the late events in France and
Belgium;[4] another, that it is the effect of seditious works which
have lately been published. If this feeling be of origin so recent,
I have read history to little purpose. Sir, this alarming discontent
is not the growth of a day, or of a year. If there be any symptoms by
which it is possible to distinguish the chronic diseases of the body
politic from its passing inflammations, all those symptoms exist in
the present case. The taint has been gradually becoming more extensive
and more malignant, through the whole lifetime of two generations. We
have tried anodynes. We have tried cruel operations. What are we to
try now? Who flatters himself that he can turn this feeling back? Does
there remain any argument which escaped the comprehensive intellect
of Mr. Burke, or the subtlety of Mr. Windham? Does there remain any
species of coercion which was not tried by Mr. Pitt and by Lord
Londonderry? We have had laws. We have had blood. New treasons have
been created. The press has been shackled. The habeas-corpus act has
been suspended. Public meetings have been prohibited. The event has
proved that these expedients were mere palliatives. You are at the end
of your palliatives. The evil remains. It is more formidable than ever.
What is to be done?

Under such circumstances, a great plan of reconciliation, prepared by
the ministers of the crown, has been brought before us in a manner
which gives additional lustre to a noble name, inseparably associated
during two centuries with the dearest liberties of the English people.
I will not say that this plan is in all its details precisely such
as I might wish it to be; but it is founded on a great and a sound
principle. It takes away a vast power from a few. It distributes that
power through the great mass of the middle order. Every man, therefore,
who thinks as I think, is bound to stand firmly by ministers who are
resolved to stand or fall with this measure. Were I one of them, I
would sooner, infinitely sooner, fall with such a measure than stand by
any other means that ever supported a cabinet.

My honorable friend, the member for the University of Oxford [Sir
Robert Inglis] tells us that if we pass this law England will soon be a
republic. The reformed House of Commons will, according to him, before
it has sat ten years, depose the king and expel the Lords from their
House. Sir, if my honorable friend could prove this, he would have
succeeded in bringing an argument for democracy infinitely stronger
than any that is to be found in the works of Paine. My honorable
friend’s proposition is in fact this: that our monarchical and
aristocratical institutions have no hold on the public mind of England;
that these institutions are regarded with aversion by a decided
majority of the middle class. This, sir, I say, is plainly deducible
from his proposition; for he tells us that the representatives of the
middle class will inevitably abolish royalty and nobility within ten
years; and there is surely no reason to think that the representatives
of the middle class will be more inclined to a democratic revolution
than their constituents. Now, sir, if I were convinced that the great
body of the middle class in England look with aversion on monarchy
and aristocracy, I should be forced, much against my will, to come to
this conclusion, that monarchical and aristocratical institutions are
unsuited to my country. Monarchy and aristocracy, valuable and useful
as I think them, are still valuable and useful as means and not as
ends. The end of government is the happiness of the people, and I do
not conceive that, in a country like this, the happiness of the people
can be promoted by a form of government in which the middle classes
place no confidence, and which exists only because the middle classes
have no organ by which to make their sentiments known. But, sir, I am
fully convinced that the middle classes sincerely wish to uphold the
royal prerogatives and the constitutional rights of the peers. What
facts does my honorable friend produce in support of his opinion? One
fact only, and that a fact which has absolutely nothing to do with the
question. The effect of this reform, he tells us, would be to make the
House of Commons more powerful. It was all-powerful once before, in the
beginning of 1649. Then it cut off the head of the king, and abolished
the House of Peers. Therefore, if it again has the supreme power, it
will act in the same manner. Now, sir, it was not the House of Commons
that cut off the head of Charles the First; nor was the House of
Commons then all-powerful. It had been greatly reduced in numbers by
successive expulsions. It was under the absolute dominion of the army.
A majority of the House was willing to take the terms offered by the
king. The soldiers turned out the majority; and the minority, not a
sixth part of the whole House, passed those votes of which my honorable
friend speaks,—votes of which the middle classes disapproved then, and
of which they disapprove still.

My honorable friend, and almost all the gentlemen who have taken the
same side with him in this debate, have dwelt much on the utility of
close and rotten boroughs. It is by means of such boroughs, they tell
us, that the ablest men have been introduced into Parliament.[5] It
is true that many distinguished persons have represented places of
this description. But, sir, we must judge of a form of government by
its general tendency, not by happy accidents. Every form of government
has its happy accidents. Despotism has its happy accidents. Yet we are
not disposed to abolish all constitutional checks to place an absolute
master over us, and to take our chance whether he may be a Caligula or
a Marcus Aurelius. In whatever way the House of Commons may be chosen,
some able men will be chosen in that way who would not be chosen in any
other way. If there were a law that the hundred tallest men in England
should be members of Parliament, there would probably be some able men
among those who would come into the House by virtue of this law. If the
hundred persons whose names stand first in the alphabetical list of
the Court Guide were made members of Parliament, there would probably
be able men among them. We read in ancient history that a very able
king was elected by the neighing of his horse, but we shall scarcely,
I think, adopt this mode of election. In one of the most celebrated
republics of antiquity, Athens, senators and magistrates were chosen
by lot; and sometimes the lot fell fortunately. Once, for example,
Socrates was in office. A cruel and unjust proposition was made by a
demagogue.[6] Socrates resisted it at the hazard of his own life. There
is no event in Grecian history more interesting than that memorable
resistance. Yet who would have officers appointed by lot, because the
accident of the lot may have given to a great and good man a power
which he would probably never have attained in any other way? We must
judge, as I said, by the general tendency of a system. No person can
doubt that a House of Commons, chosen freely by the middle classes,
will contain many very able men. I do not say that precisely the same
able men who would find their way into the present House of Commons
will find their way into the reformed House; but that is not the
question. No particular man is necessary to the state. We may depend
on it, that if we provide the country with popular institutions, those
institutions will provide it with great men.

There is another objection, which, I think, was first raised by the
honorable and learned member for Newport [Mr. Horace Twiss]. He tells
us that the elective franchise is property; that to take it away from a
man who has not been judicially convicted of malpractices is robbery;
that no crime is proved against the voters in the closed boroughs; that
no crime is even imputed to them in the preamble of the bill; and that
therefore to disfranchise them without compensation would be an act of
revolutionary tyranny. The honorable and learned gentleman has compared
the conduct of the present ministers, to that of those odious tools
of power who, toward the close of the reign of Charles the Second,
seized the charters of the Whig corporations. Now, there was another
precedent, which I wonder that he did not recollect, both because it is
much more nearly in point than that to which he referred, and because
my noble friend, the Paymaster of the Forces, had previously alluded to
it. If the elective franchise is property, if to disfranchise voters
without a crime proved, or a compensation given, be robbery, was
there ever such an act of robbery as the disfranchising of the Irish
forty-shilling freeholders?[7] Was any pecuniary compensation given
to them? Is it declared in the preamble of the bill which took away
their franchise, that they had been convicted of any offence? Was any
judicial inquiry instituted into their conduct? Were they even accused
of any crime? Or if you say it was a crime in the electors of Clare to
vote for the honorable and learned gentleman who now represents the
County of Waterford [Mr. O’Connell], was a Protestant freeholder in
Louth to be punished for the crime of a Catholic freeholder in Clare?
If the principle of the honorable and learned member for Newport be
sound, the franchise of the Irish peasant was property. That franchise
the ministers under whom the honorable and learned member held office
did not scruple to take away. Will he accuse those ministers of
robbery? If not, how can he bring such an accusation against their

Every gentleman, I think, who has spoken from the other side of
the House, has alluded to the opinions which some of his Majesty’s
ministers formerly entertained on the subject of reform. It would be
officious in me, sir, to undertake the defence of gentlemen who are so
well able to defend themselves. I will only say that, in my opinion,
the country will not think worse either of their capacity or of their
patriotism, because they have shown that they can profit by experience,
because they have learned to see the folly of delaying inevitable
changes. There are others who ought to have learned the same lesson. I
say, sir, that there are those who, I should have thought, must have
had enough to last them all their lives of that humiliation which
follows obstinate and boastful resistance to charges rendered necessary
by the progress of society and by the development of the human mind.
Is it possible that those persons can wish again to occupy a position
which can neither be defended nor surrendered with honor? I well
remember, sir, a certain evening in the month of May, 1827. I had not
then the honor of a seat in this House; but I was an attentive observer
of its proceedings. The right honorable baronet opposite [Sir Robert
Peel], of whom personally I desire to speak with that high respect
which I feel for his talents and his character, but of whose public
conduct I must speak with the sincerity required by my public duty, was
then, as he is now, out of office. He had just resigned the seals of
the Home Department, because he conceived that the recent ministerial
arrangements had been too favorable to the Catholic claims. He rose to
ask whether it was the intention of the new cabinet to repeal the Test
and Corporation Acts, and to reform the Parliament. He bound up, I
well remember, those two questions together; and he declared that, if
the ministers should either attempt to repeal the Test and Corporation
Acts, or bring forward a measure of Parliamentary reform, he should
think it his duty to oppose them to the utmost. Since that declaration
was made, four years have elapsed; and what is now the state of the
three questions which then chiefly agitated the minds of men? What
is become of the Test and Corporation Acts? They are repealed. By
whom? By the right honorable baronet. What has become of the Catholic
disabilities? They are removed. By whom? By the right honorable
baronet.[8] The question of parliamentary reform is still behind. But
signs, of which it is impossible to misconceive the import, do most
clearly indicate that, unless that question also be speedily settled,
property, and order, and all the institutions of this great monarchy,
will be exposed to fearful peril. Is it possible that gentlemen long
versed in high political affairs cannot read these signs? Is it
possible that they can really believe that the representative system of
England, such as it now is, will last till the year 1860? If not, for
what would they have us wait? Would they have us wait merely that we
may show to all the world how little we have profited by our own recent

Would they have us wait, that we may once again hit the exact point
where we can neither refuse with authority nor concede with grace?
Would they have us wait, that the numbers of the discontented party
may become larger, its demands higher, its feelings more acrimonious,
its organization more complete? Would they have us wait till the whole
tragi-comedy of 1827 has been acted over again; till they have been
brought into office by a cry of “No Reform,” to be reformers, as they
were once before brought into office by a cry of “No Popery,” to be
emancipators? Have they obliterated from their minds—gladly, perhaps,
would some among them obliterate from their minds—the transactions
of that year? And have they forgotten all the transactions of the
succeeding year? Have they forgotten how the spirit of liberty in
Ireland, debarred from its natural outlet, found a vent by forbidden
passages? Have they forgotten how we were forced to indulge the
Catholics in all the license of rebels, merely because we chose
to withhold from them the liberties of subjects? Do they wait for
associations more formidable than that of the Corn Exchange, for
contributions larger than the Rent, for agitators more violent than
those who, three years ago, divided with the king and the Parliament
the sovereignty of Ireland? Do they wait for that last and most
dreadful paroxysm of popular rage, for that last and most cruel test
of military fidelity? Let them wait, if their past experience shall
induce them to think that any high honor or any exquisite pleasure is
to be obtained by a policy like this. Let them wait, if this strange
and fearful infatuation be indeed upon them, that they should not see
with their eyes, or hear with their ears, or understand with their
heart. But let us know our interest and our duty better. Turn where
we may, within, around, the voice of great events is proclaiming to
us: Reform, that you may preserve. Now, therefore, while every thing
at home and abroad forebodes ruin to those who persist in a hopeless
struggle against the spirit of the age; now, while the crash of the
proudest throne of the continent is still resounding in our ears; now,
while the roof of a British palace affords an ignominious shelter to
the exiled heir of forty kings; now, while we see on every side ancient
institutions subverted, and great societies dissolved; now, while
the heart of England is still sound; now, while old feelings and old
associations retain a power and a charm which may too soon pass away;
now, in this your accepted time, now, in this your day of salvation,
take counsel, not of prejudice, not of party spirit, not of the
ignominious pride of a fatal consistency, but of history, of reason,
of the ages which are past, of the signs of this most portentous time.
Pronounce in a manner worthy of the expectation with which this great
debate has been anticipated, and of the long remembrance which it will
leave behind. Renew the youth of the state. Save property, divided
against itself. Save the multitude, endangered by its own ungovernable
passions. Save the aristocracy, endangered by its own unpopular power.
Save the greatest, and fairest, and most highly civilized community
that ever existed, from calamities which may in a few days sweep away
all the rich heritage of so many ages of wisdom and glory. The danger
is terrible. The time is short. If this bill should be rejected, I pray
to God that none of those who concur in rejecting it may ever remember
their votes with unavailing remorse, amidst the wreck of laws, the
confusion of ranks, the spoliation of property, and the dissolution of
social order.


The name of Cobden will always be associated with the great changes
that took place in the economic policy of England about the middle of
the nineteenth century. As the result of a public agitation that was
carried into every hamlet of Great Britain, and that extended over
a period of seven years, the policy of Protection was practically
abandoned, and the policy of Free Trade practically adopted. Of that
remarkable movement Cobden was the directing and inspiring genius.

Born in 1804, Cobden’s childhood was passed in the disastrous years of
the later Napoleonic wars, and the financial distresses that followed.
His father’s moderate fortune was involved in the ruin that was so
general. As there were eleven children in the family, and as the means
rescued from the financial wreck were but slender, the educational
advantages of Richard were not great. At fifteen he was obliged to
leave the grammar-school in order to enter the counting-house of his
uncle in London. The most that can be said of his education is that
it was enough to give him an insatiable taste for knowledge, that it
implanted within him so ardent a desire, that throughout life he was
indefatigable in the work of self-development.

At the age of twenty he became a commercial traveller for his uncle,
and, in the course of the six years that followed, acquired a very
comprehensive knowledge of the industrial condition of England. When
he attained eminence there were many who remembered the discussions
on political economy and kindred subjects with which he had enlivened
his travelling associates. At twenty-six he induced two of his
acquaintances to join with him in entering upon a business of their
own. They founded an industry of calico-printing, and were so
successful that the firm soon had three establishments, one at Sabden,
where the printing works were, and one each at London and Manchester,
for the sale of their products. Cobden prints soon becoming famous for
the excellence of their material and the beauty of their design; the
sales were large and the income of the firm very considerable. In eight
years from the establishment of the partnership, the business was so
flourishing and so well organized that Cobden was able to devote his
energies almost exclusively to matters of public importance.

His first pamphlet, that entitled “England, Ireland, and America,”
was published in 1835, and attracted such attention for its breadth
and boldness that it ran rapidly through several editions. The views
advocated were those of peace, non-intervention, retrenchment, and free
trade,—in fact, the doctrines which he continued to hold throughout
life. A tour of observation in the United States and Canada, as well
as in the countries of Europe, intensified his convictions; and
consequently when, in 1838, the Anti-Corn-Law Association was formed,
it found him in every way fitted to take a leading part in the work of
agitation. It was at his suggestion that the local association was soon
changed into the National Anti-Corn-Law League.

The so-called Corn Laws have a long history. As early as 1436 an
attempt was made to regulate the price of grain in England by means of
export and import duties. The amount of duties imposed varied from time
to time according to the needs of the state treasury and the prices
of corn. It was not until the passage of what is known as Burke’s Act
of 1773 that any deliberate attempt was made to bring the Corn Laws
into some degree of reason and order. This act was the beginning of
a policy which some years later resulted in the adoption of what is
known as the sliding scale of rates. This policy culminated in the law
of 1828, which proceeded upon the general plan of making the duty vary
inversely with the price of grain in the home market. When the price
of wheat, for example, was sixty-four shillings a quarter, the duty was
twenty-three shillings and eight pence. For every rise of a shilling in
the market-price, the duty was diminished; while, on the other hand,
for every decline in the price the duty was increased. This was the
general character of the law which prevailed when the agitation of the
Anti-Corn-Law League began.

For some years before 1838 the impression had become more or less
prevalent that the influence of the Corn Laws was favorable to the
landowners and the landowners alone. The system was devised as a means
of protecting the interests of agriculture. The financial disturbances
occasioned partly by the Napoleonic wars, partly by the invention of
labor-saving machines, and partly by a succession of bad crops, tended
at once to diminish the price of labor and increase the prices of
food. The consequence was a universal prevalence of suffering among
the wage-receiving class. Cobden and his associates believed that the
suffering was chiefly due to the system of protection. The league was
formed for the purpose of arousing public opinion in opposition to the
prevailing system; and it did not rest till, after the most remarkable
agitation in the history of reform, it had convinced the public of its
errors, and swept the Corn Laws from the statute-books.

For seven years Cobden had the ear of the public, and during that
period his labors were incessant. He not only spoke in all the large
towns and cities, but he directed and inspired the movements of
hundreds of others. The policy of the league was not only to send
speakers into every electoral district, but to flood the country
with the most effective writings on the subject in hand. What may be
called the statistics of the league are impressive and instructive.
Five hundred persons were employed to distribute tracts from house to
house. In a single year five millions of such tracts were put into
the families of electors in England and Scotland, and the number
distributed to non-electors exceeded nine millions. This work of 1843
was done at a cost of about £50,000; in the following year it was
resolved to redouble the efforts, and before the end of 1844 nearly
£90,000 had been raised and expended.

The whole theory of Cobden’s propagandism was simply that, if the
truth was brought to people’s doors, they would embrace it. The method
was twofold. It sought to bring the facts bearing on the question to
the attention of the people by means of the press, and then by public
speech to persuade and arouse them to action. Of all the speakers of
the time probably Cobden was the most effective. His methods were
always plain and straightforward, showing a transparent honesty, a
definite purpose, an argumentative keenness, and an almost irresistible

Cobden entered the House of Commons in 1841, and, from his first
speech, delivered five days after the opening of the session, was an
acknowledged power in Parliament. He compelled attention even from an
unfriendly audience, by his thorough mastery of the subject and by
the directness and boldness with which he charged upon the ranks of
his adversaries. His methods of address were new in the House; but
it soon came to be universally conceded that he was one of the most
powerful debaters in Parliament. It is the unique distinction of Cobden
among English orators that he converted to his views a government long
opposed to him, and finally persuaded a Prime-Minister to reverse
his policy and become champion of the very cause he had formerly
condemned. In the March of 1845 Cobden thought the time had come for
the appointment of a select committee to inquire into the causes of the
prevailing agricultural distress. It was in moving for such a committee
that he made the speech selected for this collection. That the argument
made a great impression may be inferred from Mr. Morley’s account of
its effect on Peel. “The Prime-Minister,” he says, “had followed every
sentence with earnest attention; his face grew more and more solemn as
the argument proceeded. At length he crumpled up the notes which he
had been taking, and was heard by an onlooker who was close by to say
to Mr. Sidney Herbert who sat next him on the bench: ‘You must answer
this, for I cannot.’ And in fact Mr. Sidney Herbert did make the answer
while Peel listened in silence.”

During the summer of 1845 the agitation went on without any very
obvious results. Indeed the cause seemed to be making no headway in
Parliament, and Mr. Disraeli, in one of his characteristic phrases,
spoke of the appeals, varied even by the persuasive ingenuity of Mr.
Cobden, as a “wearisome iteration.” But Cobden meantime felt sure of
his ground. Speaking to one of those immense multitudes, “which,” he
said, “could only be assembled in ancient Rome to witness the brutal
conflicts of men, or can now be found in Spain to witness the brutal
conflicts of animals,” he exclaimed: “What, if you could get into the
innermost minds of the ministers, would you find them thinking as to
the repeal of the Corn Laws? I know it as well as though I were in
their hearts. It is this: they are afraid that the Corn Law cannot be
maintained—no, not a rag of it, during a period of scarcity prices, of
a famine season, such as we had in ’39, ’40, and ’41. They know it.
They are prepared, when such a time comes, to abolish the Corn Laws,
and they have made up their minds to it. There is no doubt in the world
of it. They are going to repeal it, as I told you,—mark my words,—at a
season of distress. That distress may come; aye, three weeks of showery
weather when the wheat is in bloom or ripening, would repeal these Corn

This remarkable prophecy was now to have a startling fulfilment. The
autumn of 1845 was a long succession of rains. Disquieting rumors and
even portents of actual famine came from all parts of the islands.
On the last day of October the cabinet met in great haste; and three
other meetings took place within a week. Peel was in favor of calling
a meeting of Parliament at once, and suspending for a limited period
the duty on importation. Others declared that it would be impossible to
restore the duty when it was once removed; and the cabinet separated on
the 6th of November without coming to any decision. But on the 22d of
the same month the public was thrown into great commotion by an address
launched from Edinburgh by Lord John Russell to his constituents of
London. He declared that “procrastination might produce a state of
suffering that was frightful to contemplate.” “Let us all unite,”
cried he, “to put down a system which has been proved to be the blight
of commerce, the bane of agriculture, the source of bitter division
among classes, the cause of penury, fever, mortality, and crime among
the people. If this end is to be achieved, it must be gained by the
unequivocal expression of the public voice.” This was the first
announcement that Lord John Russell was a convert to the doctrines of
the league. As the old reformer was on his way to London, Mr. John
Bright met him at a railway station in Yorkshire, and said: “Your
letter has now made the total and immediate repeal of the Corn Law
inevitable; nothing can save it.”

Another cabinet meeting was called, but still there was no agreement
as to the policy of convoking Parliament. The public distress and
excitement were such that the Prime-Minister now felt it his duty
to resign. That event took place on the 5th of December. It was
universally understood that the strenuous opposition was in the Duke of
Wellington and Lord Stanley. In a great gathering at Birmingham, Cobden
exclaimed: “The Duke is a man whom all like to honor for his high
courage, his firmness of resolve, his indomitable perseverance; but let
me remind him,” added the orator, in a magnificent outburst and amidst
a storm of approval, “that notwithstanding all his victories in the
field, he never yet entered into a contest with Englishmen in which he
was not beaten.”

The voice of the public could not be resisted. On the 4th of December
the _Times_ newspaper announced that Parliament would meet early
in January, and that an immediate repeal of the Corn Laws would be
proposed. On the day following this announcement, Peel tendered his
resignation. The Queen sent for Lord John Russell; but the attempt
of the Opposition to form a ministry was not successful, and Peel
reluctantly consented to resume the leadership. The speech of the
Queen in opening Parliament made it evident that the occasion of
the meeting was the repeal of the obnoxious laws. The question was
practically settled when Parliament met; and the long debate is chiefly
memorable for the extraordinary succession of excoriations to which
the Prime-Minister was subjected by Disraeli. But in spite of a most
energetic opposition the repealing bill slowly made its way to ultimate
triumph. It was on the 26th of June, 1846, that the bill was passed,
and that the great reformer’s work was done.

Until his death in 1865, Cobden continued to exert a powerful influence
in behalf of the ideas which from the first he had advocated. His
political opponents were among the most hearty to recognize his worth;
and his most intimate friend, Mr. Bright, spoke of him in the House
of Commons as “the manliest and gentlest spirit that ever quitted or
tenanted a human form.”




I am relieved upon the present occasion from any necessity for
apologizing to the other side of the House for the motion which I am
about to submit. It will be in the recollection of honorable members,
that a fortnight before putting this notice upon the book, I expressed
a hope that the matter would be taken up by some honorable member
opposite. I do not think, therefore, that in reply to any observations
I may have to make upon the question, I shall hear, as I did last
year, an observation that the quarter from which this motion came was
suspicious.[9] I may also add, sir, that I have so framed my motion as
to include in it the objects embraced in both the amendments which are
made to it. I therefore conclude, that having included the honorable
gentlemen’s amendments [Mr. Stafford O’Brien and Mr. Wodehouse], they
will not now feel it necessary to press them.

Sir, the object of this motion is to appoint a select committee to
inquire into the present condition of the agricultural interests;
and, at the same time, to ascertain how the laws regulating the
importation of agricultural produce have affected the agriculturists
of this country. As regards the distress among farmers, I presume we
cannot go to a higher authority than those honorable gentlemen who
profess to be the farmers’ friends and protectors. I find it stated
by those honorable gentlemen who recently paid their respects to
the Prime-Minister, that the agriculturists are in a state of great
embarrassment and distress. I find that one gentleman from Norfolk [Mr.
Hudson] stated that the farmers in the county are paying their rents,
but paying them out of capital, and not profits. I find Mr. Turner of
Upton, in Devonshire, stating that one half of the smaller farmers in
that county are insolvent, and that the others are rapidly falling into
the same condition; that the farmers with larger holdings are quitting
their farms with a view of saving the rest of their property; and that,
unless some remedial measures be adopted by this House, they will be
utterly ruined. The accounts which I have given you of those districts
are such as I have had from many other sources. I put it to honorable
gentlemen opposite, whether the condition of the farmers in Suffolk,
Wiltshire, and Hampshire, is better than that which I have described in
Norfolk and Devonshire? I put it to county members, whether—taking the
whole of the south of England, from the confines of Nottinghamshire to
the Land’s End,—whether, as a rule, the farmers are not now in a state
of the greatest embarrassment? There may be exceptions; but I put it to
them whether, as a rule, that is not their condition in all parts?

Then, sir, according to every precedent in this House, this is a fit
and proper time to bring forward the motion of which I have given
notice. I venture to state that had his Grace of Buckingham possessed a
seat in this House, he would have done now what he did when he was Lord
Chandos—have moved this resolution which I am now about to move. The
distress of the farmers being admitted, the next question which arises
is, What is its cause? I feel a greater necessity to bring forward this
motion for a committee of inquiry, because I find great discrepancies
of opinion among honorable gentlemen opposite as to what is the cause
of the distress among the farmers. In the first place there is a
discrepancy as to the generality or locality of the existing distress.
I find the right honorable baronet at the head of the government [Sir
Robert Peel] saying that the distress is local; and he moreover says
it does not arise from the legislation of this House. The honorable
member for Dorsetshire declares, on the other hand, that the distress
is general, and that it does not arise from legislation. I am at a loss
to understand what this protection to agriculture means, because I find
such contradictory accounts given in this House by the promoters of
that system. For instance, nine months ago, when my honorable friend,
the member for Wolverhampton [Mr. Villiers], brought forward his motion
for the abolition of the Corn Laws,[10] the right honorable gentleman,
then the President of the Board of Trade, in replying to him, said that
the present Corn Law had been most successful in its operations. He
took great credit to the government for the steadiness of price that
was obtained under that law. I will read you the quotation, because we
find these statements so often controverted. He said:

“Was there any man who had supported the law in the year 1842 who could
honestly say that he had been disappointed in its workings? Could any
one point out a promise or a prediction hazarded in the course of the
protracted debates upon the measure, which promise or prediction had
been subsequently falsified.”

Now, recollect that the right honorable gentleman was speaking when
wheat was 56_s._ per quarter, and that wheat is now 45_s._ The
right honorable baronet at the head of the government now says: “My
legislation has had nothing to do with wheat at 45_s._ a quarter”; but
how are we to get over the difficulty that the responsible member of
government at the head of the Board of Trade, only nine months ago,
claimed merit for the government having kept up the price of wheat
at 56_s._? These discrepancies themselves between the government and
its supporters, render it more and more necessary that this question
of protection should be inquired into. I ask, What does it mean? The
price of wheat is 45_s._ this day. I have been speaking to the highest
authority in England upon this point—one who is often quoted by
this House—within the last week, and he tells me, that with another
favorable harvest, he thinks it very likely that wheat will be 35_s._
a quarter. What does this legislation mean, or what does it purport to
be, if you are to have prices fluctuating from 56_s._ down to 35_s._
a quarter, and probably lower? Can you prevent it by the legislation
of this House? That is the question. There is a great delusion spread
abroad amongst the farmers; and it is the duty of this House to have
that delusion dissipated by inquiring into the matter.

Now, there are these very different opinions on the other side of the
House; but there are members upon this side representing very important
interests, who think that farmers are suffering because they have this
legislative protection. There is all this difference of opinion. Now,
is not that a fit and proper subject for your inquiry? I am prepared to
go into a select committee, and to bring forward evidence to show that
the farmers are laboring under great evils—evils that I would connect
with the legislation of this House, though they are evils which appear
to be altogether dissociated from it. The first great evil under which
the farmer labors is the want of capital. No one can deny that. I do
not mean at all to disparage the farmers. The farmers of this country
are just the same race as the rest of us; and, if they were placed in
a similar position, theirs would be as good a trade—I mean that they
would be as successful men of business—as others; but it is notorious,
as a rule, that the farmers of this country are deficient in capital;
and I ask, How can any business be carried on successfully where
there is a deficiency of capital? I take it that honorable gentlemen
opposite, acquainted with farming, would admit that 10_l._ an acre, on
an arable farm, would be a sufficient amount of capital for carrying
on the business of farming successfully. I will take it, then, that
10_l._ an acre would be a fair capital for an arable farm. I have made
many inquiries upon this subject in all parts of the kingdom, and I
give it you as my decided conviction, that at this present moment
farmers do not average 5_l._ an acre capital on their farms. I speak
of England, and I take England south of the Trent, though, of course,
there are exceptions in every county; there are men of large capital
in all parts—men farming their own land; but, taking it as a rule,
I hesitate not to give my opinion—and I am prepared to back that
opinion by witnesses before your committee—that, as a rule, farmers
have not, upon an average, more than 5_l._ an acre capital for their
arable land. I have given you a tract of country to which I may add all
Wales; probably 20,000,000 of acres of cultivable land. I have no doubt
whatever, that there are 100,000,000_l._ of capital wanting upon that
land. What is the meaning of farming capital? There are strange notions
about the word “capital.” It means more manure, a greater amount of
labor, a greater number of cattle, and larger crops. Picture a country
in which you can say there is a deficiency of one half of all those
blessings which ought to, and might, exist there, and then judge what
the condition of laborers wanting employment and food is.

But you will say, capital would be invested if it could be done with
profit. I admit it; that is the question I want you to inquire into.
How is it that in a country where there is a plethora of capital, where
every other business and pursuit is overflowing with money, where you
have men going to France for railways and to Pennsylvania for bonds,
embarking in schemes for connecting the Atlantic with the Pacific by
canals, railways in the valley of the Mississippi, and sending their
money to the bottom of the Mexican mines; while you have a country
rich and overflowing, ready to take investments in every corner of the
globe; how is it, I say, that this capital does not find its employment
in the most attractive of all forms—upon the soil of this country? The
cause is notorious—it is admitted by your highest authorities; the
reason is, there is not security for capital in land. Capital shrinks
instinctively from insecurity of tenure; and you have not in England
that security which would warrant men of capital investing their money
in the soil.

Now, is it not a matter worthy of consideration, how far this
insecurity of tenure is bound up with that protective system of which
you are so enamoured? Suppose it can be shown that there is a vicious
circle; that you have made politics of Corn Laws, and that you want
voters to maintain them; that you very erroneously think that the
Corn Laws are your great mine of wealth, and, therefore, you must
have a dependent tenantry, that you may have their votes at elections
to maintain this law in Parliament. Well, if you will have dependent
voters, you cannot have men of spirit and capital. Then your policy
reacts upon you. If you have not men of skill and capital, you cannot
have improvements and employment for your laborers. Then comes round
that vicious termination of the circle—you have pauperism, poor-rates,
county-rates, and all the other evils of which you are now speaking and
complaining.[11] * * *

Now, sir, not only does the want of security prevent capital flowing
into the farming business, but it actually deters from the improvement
of the land those who are already in the occupation of it. There are
many men, tenants of your land, who could improve their farms if they
had a sufficient security, and they have either capital themselves or
their friends could supply it; but with the absence of leases, and
the want of security, you are actually deterring them from laying out
their money on your land. They keep every thing the same from year to
year. You know that it is impossible to farm your estates properly
unless a tenant has an investment for more than one year. A man ought
to be able to begin a farm with at least eight years before him,
before he expects to see a return for the whole of the outlay of his
money. You are, therefore, keeping your tenants-at-will at a yearly
kind of cultivation, and you are preventing them carrying on their
businesses in a proper way. Not only do you prevent the laying out of
capital upon your land, and disable the farmers from cultivating it,
but your policy tends to make them servile and dependent; so that they
are actually disinclined to improvement, afraid to let you see that
they can improve, because they are apprehensive that you will pounce
upon them for an increase of rent. I see the honorable member for
Lincolnshire opposite, and he rather smiled at the expression when I
said that the state of dependence of the farmers was such that they
were actually afraid to appear to be improving their land. Now that
honorable gentleman, the member for Lincolnshire [Mr. Christopher],
upon the motion made last year for agricultural statistics, by my
honorable friend, the member for Manchester [Mr. Milner Gibson], made
the following statement:

“It is most desirable for the farmer to know the actual quantity of
corn grown in this country, as such knowledge would insure steadiness
of prices, which was infinitely more valuable to the agriculturist than
fluctuating prices. But to ascertain this there was extreme difficulty.
They could not leave it to the farmer to make a return of the quantity
which he produced, for it was not for his interest to do so. If in any
one or two years he produced four quarters per acre on land which had
previously grown but three, he might fear that his landlord would say:
‘Your land is more productive than I imagined, and I must therefore
raise your rent.’ The interest of the farmers, therefore, would be to
underrate, and to furnish low returns.”

Now, I ask honorable gentlemen here, the landed gentry of England, what
a state of things is that when, upon their own testimony respecting the
farming capitalists in this country, they dare not appear to have a
good horse—they dare not appear to be growing more than four quarters
instead of three? [Mr. Christopher: Hear!] The honorable member cheers,
but I am quoting from his own authority. I say this condition of
things, indicated by these two quotations, brings the tenant-farmers—if
they are such as these gentlemen describe them to be,—it brings them
down to a very low point of servility. In Egypt Mehemet Ali takes
the utmost grain of corn from his people, who bury it beneath their
hearthstones in their cottages, and will suffer the bastinado rather
than tell how much corn they grow. Our tenants are not afraid of the
bastinado, but they are terrified at the rise of rent. This is the
state of things amongst the tenant-farmers, farming without leases.[12]
In England leases are the exception, and not the rule. But even where
you have leases in England—where you have leases or agreements—I doubt
whether they are not in many cases worse tenures than where there is no
lease at all; the clauses being of such an obsolete and preposterous
character as to defy any man to carry on the business of farming under
them profitably.

Now, I do not know why we should not in this country have leases for
land upon similar terms to the leases of manufactories, or any “plant”
or premises. I do not think that farming will ever be carried on as
it ought to be until you have leases drawn up in the same way as a
man takes a manufactory, and pays perhaps a £1,000 a year for it. I
know people who pay £4,000 a year for manufactories to carry on their
business, and at fair rents. There is an honorable gentleman near me
who pays more than £4,000 a year for the rent of his manufactory.
What covenants do you think he has in his lease? What would he think
if it stated how many revolutions there should be in a minute of the
spindles, or if they prescribed the construction of the straps or the
gearing of the machinery? Why, he takes his manufactory with a schedule
of its present state—bricks, mortar, and machinery—and when the lease
is over, he must leave it in the same state, or else pay a compensation
for the dilapidation. [The Chancellor of the Exchequer: Hear! hear!]
The right honorable gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, cheers
that statement. I want to ask his opinion respecting a similar lease
for a farm. I am rather disposed to think that the Anti-Corn-Law
Leaguers will very likely form a joint-stock association, having none
but free traders in the body, that we may purchase an estate and
have a model farm; taking care that it shall be in one of the rural
counties, one of the most purely agricultural parts of the country,
where we think there is the greatest need of improvement—perhaps in
Buckinghamshire,—and there shall be a model farm, homestead, and
cottages; and I may tell the noble Lord, the member for Newark, that
we shall have a model garden, and we will not make any boast about it.
But the great object will be to have a model lease. We will have as the
farmer a man of intelligence and capital.

I am not so unreasonable as to tell you that you ought to let your
land to men who have not a competent capital, or are not sufficiently
intelligent; but I say, select such a man as that, let him know his
business and have a sufficient capital, and you cannot give him too
wide a scope. We will find such a man, and will let him our farm; there
shall be a lease precisely such as that upon which my honorable friend
takes his factory. There shall be no clause inserted in it to dictate
to him how he shall cultivate his farm; he shall do what he likes with
the old pasture. If he can make more by ploughing it up he shall do so;
if he can grow white crops every year—which I know there are people
doing at this moment in more places than one in this country,—or if he
can make any other improvement or discovery, he shall be free to do so.
We will let him the land, with a schedule of the state of tillage and
the condition of the homestead, and all we will bind him to will be
this: “You shall leave the land as good as when you entered upon it.
If it be in an inferior state it shall be valued again, and you shall
compensate us; but if it be in an improved state it shall be valued,
and we, the landlords, will compensate you.” We will give possession
of every thing upon the land, whether it be wild or tame animals; he
shall have the absolute control. Take as stringent precautions as you
please to compel the punctual payment of the rent; take the right of
re-entry as summarily as you like if the rent be not duly paid; but let
the payment of rent duly be the sole test as to the well-doing of the
tenant; and so long as he can pay the rent, and do it promptly, that is
the only criterion you need have that the farmer is doing well; and if
he is a man of capital, you have the strongest possible security that
he will not waste your property while he has possession of it.

Now, sir, I have mentioned a deficiency of capital as being the primary
want among farmers. I have stated the want of security in leases as
the cause of the want of capital; but you may still say: “You have not
connected this with the Corn Laws and the protective system.” I will
read the opinion of an honorable gentleman who sits upon this side of
the House; it is in a published letter of Mr. Hayter, who, I know, is
himself an ardent supporter of agriculture. He says:

“The more I see of and practise agriculture, the more firmly am I
convinced that the whole unemployed labor of the country could, under
a better system of husbandry, be advantageously put into operation;
and, moreover, that the Corn Laws have been one of the principal causes
of the present system of bad farming and consequent pauperism. Nothing
short of their entire removal will ever induce the average farmer to
rely upon any thing else than the legislature for the payment of his
rent; his belief being that all rent is paid by corn, and nothing else
than corn, and that the legislature can, by enacting Corn Laws, create
a price which will make his rent easy. The day of their [the Corn
Laws’] entire abolition ought to be a day of jubilee and rejoicing to
every man interested in land.”

Now, sir, I do not stop to connect the cause and effect in this
matter, and inquire whether your Corn Laws or your protective system
have caused the want of leases and capital. I do not stop to make
good my proof, and for this reason, that you have adopted a system of
legislation in this House by which you profess to make the farming
trade prosperous. I show you, after thirty years’ trial, what is the
depressed condition of the agriculturists; I prove to you what is the
impoverished state of farmers, and also of laborers, and you will
not contest any one of those propositions. I say it is enough, having
had thirty years’ trial of your specific with no better results than
these, for me to ask you to go into committee to see if something
better cannot be devised. I am going to contend that free trade in
grain would be more advantageous to farmers—and with them I include
laborers—than restriction; to oblige the honorable member for Norfolk,
I will take with them also the landlords; and I contend that free trade
in corn and grain of every kind would be more beneficial to them than
to any other class of the community. I should have contended the same
before the passing of the late tariff, but now I am prepared to do so
with tenfold more force. What has the right honorable baronet [Sir R.
Peel] done? He has passed a law to admit fat cattle at a nominal duty.
Some foreign fat cattle were selling in Smithfield the other day at
about 15_l._ or 16_l._ per head, paying only about seven and one half
per cent. duty; but he has not admitted the raw material out of which
these fat cattle are made. Mr. Huskisson did not act in this manner
when he commenced his plan of free trade.[13] He began by admitting
the raw material of manufactures before he admitted the manufactured
article; but in your case you have commenced at precisely the opposite
end, and have allowed free trade in cattle instead of that upon which
they are fattened. I say give free trade in that grain which goes to
make the cattle. I contend that by this protective system the farmers
throughout the country are more injured than any other class in the
community. I would take, for instance, the article of clover-seed. The
honorable member for North Northamptonshire put a question the other
night to the right honorable baronet at the head of the government.
He looked so exceedingly alarmed that I wondered what the subject was
which created the apprehension. He asked the right honorable baronet
whether he was going to admit clover-seed into this country. I believe
clover-seed is to be excluded from the schedule of free importation.
Now, I ask for whose benefit is this exception made? I ask the
honorable gentleman, the member for North Northamptonshire, whether
those whom he represents, the farmers of that district of the county,
are, in a large majority of instances, sellers of clover-seed? I will
undertake to say they are not. How many counties in England are there
which are benefited by the protection of clover-seed? I will take
the whole of Scotland. If there be any Scotch members present, I ask
them whether they do not in their country import the clover-seed from
England? They do not grow it. I undertake to say that there are not ten
counties in the United Kingdom which are interested in the importation
of clover-seed out of their own borders. Neither have they any of this
article in Ireland. But yet we have clover-seed excluded from the
farmers, although they are not interested as a body in its protection
at all.

Again, take the article of beans. There are lands in Essex where they
can grow them alternate years with wheat. I find that beans come from
that district to Mark Lane; and I believe also that in some parts of
Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire they do the same; but how is it with
the poor lands of Surrey or the poor downland of Wiltshire? Take the
whole of the counties. How many of them are there which are exporters
of beans, or send them to market? You are taxing the whole of the
farmers who do not sell their beans, for the pretended benefit of a
few counties or districts of counties where they do. Mark you, where
they can grow beans on the stronger and better soils, it is not in one
case out of ten that they grow them for the market. They may grow them
for their own use; but where they do not cultivate beans, send them to
market, and turn them into money, those farmers can have no interest
whatever in keeping up the money price of that which they never sell.

Take the article of oats. How many farmers are there who ever have oats
down on the credit side of their books, as an item upon which they
rely for the payment of their rents? The farmers may, and generally
do, grow oats for feeding their own horses; but it is an exception
to the rule—and a rare exception too—where the farmer depends upon
the sale of his oats to meet his expenses. Take the article of hops.
You have a protection upon them for the benefit of the growers in
Kent, Sussex, and Surrey; but yet the cultivators of hops are taxed
for the protection of others in articles which they do not themselves
produce. Take the article of cheese. Not one farmer in ten in the
whole country makes his own cheese, and yet they and their servants
are large consumers of it. But what are the counties which have the
protection in this article? Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire,
part of Derbyshire, and Leicestershire. Here are some four or five
dairy counties having an interest in the protection of cheese; but
recollect that those counties are peculiarly hardly taxed in beans and
oats, because in those counties where they are chiefly dairy farms,
they are most in want of artificial food for their cattle. There are
the whole of the hilly districts; and I hope my friend, the member for
Nottingham [Mr. Gisborne], is here, because he has a special grievance
in this matter. He lives in Derbyshire, and very commendably employs
himself in rearing good cattle upon the hills: but he is taxed for your
protection for his beans, peas, oats, Indian corn, and every thing
which he wants for feeding them. He told me, only the other day, that
he should like nothing better than to give up the little remnant of
protection on cattle, if you would only let him buy a thousand quarters
of black oats for the consumption of his stock. Take the whole of the
hilly districts, and the down country of Wiltshire; the whole of that
expanse of downs in the south of England; take the Cheviots, where
the flock-masters reside; the Grampians in Scotland; and take the
whole of Wales, they are not benefited in the slightest degree by the
protection on these articles; but, on the contrary, you are taxing the
very things they want. They require provender as abundantly and cheaply
as they can get it. Allowing a free importation of food for cattle is
the only way in which those counties can improve the breed of their
lean stocks, and the only manner in which they can ever bring their
land up to any thing like a proper state of fertility.

I will go further and say, that farmers with thin soil,—I mean the
stock farmers, whom you will find in Hertfordshire and Surrey, farmers
with large capitals, arable farmers,—I say those men are deeply
interested in having a free importation of food for their cattle,
because they have thin, poor land. This land of its own self does not
contain the means of its increased fertility; and the only way is the
bringing in of an additional quantity of food from elsewhere, that
they can bring up their farms to a proper state of cultivation. I
have been favored with an estimate made by a very experienced, clever
farmer in Wiltshire—probably honorable gentlemen will bear me out,
when I say a man of great intelligence and skill, and entitled to
every consideration in this House. I refer to Mr. Nathaniel Atherton,
Kingston, Wilts. That gentleman estimates that upon 400 acres of land
he could increase his profits to the amount of 280_l._, paying the same
rent as at present, provided there was a free importation of foreign
grain of all kinds. He would buy 500 quarters of oats at 15_s._, or
the same amount in beans or peas at 14_s._ or 15_s._ a sack, to be
fed on the land or in the yard; by which he would grow additional 160
quarters of wheat, and 230 quarters of barley, and gain an increased
profit of 300_l._ upon his sheep and cattle. His plan embraces the
employment of an additional capital of 1,000_l._; and he would pay
150_l._ a year more for labor. I had an opportunity, the other day, of
speaking to a very intelligent farmer in Hertfordshire, Mr. Lattimore,
of Wheathampstead. Very likely there are honorable members here to
whom he is known. I do not know whether the noble Lord, the member
for Hertfordshire is present; if so, he will, no doubt, know that Mr.
Lattimore stands as high in Hertford market as a skilful farmer and a
man of abundant capital as any in the county. He is a gentleman of most
unquestionable intelligence; and what does he say? He told me that last
year he paid 230_l._ enhanced price on his beans and other provender
which he bought for his cattle:—230_l._ enhanced price in consequence
of that restriction upon the trade in foreign grain, amounting to
14_s._ a quarter on all the wheat he sold off his farm.

Now, I undertake to say, in the name of Mr. Atherton, of Wiltshire, and
Mr. Lattimore, of Hertfordshire, that they are as decided advocates
for free trade in grain of every kind as I am. I am not now quoting
merely solitary cases. I told honorable gentlemen once before that I
have probably as large an acquaintance among farmers as any one in
the House. I think I could give you from every county the names of
some of the first-rate farmers who are as ardent free-traders as I am.
I requested the Secretary of this much dreaded Anti-Corn-Law League
to make me out a list of the farmers who are subscribers to that
association, and I find there are upward of one hundred in England
and Scotland who subscribe to the league fund, comprising, I hesitate
not to say, the most intelligent men to be found in the kingdom.
I went into the Lothians, at the invitation of twenty-two farmers
there, several of whom were paying upward of 1,000_l._ a year rent. I
spent two or three days among them, and I never found a body of more
intelligent, liberal-minded men in my life. Those are men who do not
want restrictions upon the importation of grain. They desire nothing
but fair play. They say: “Let us have our Indian corn, Egyptian beans,
and Polish oats as freely as we have our linseed cake, and we can bear
competition with any corn-growers in the world.” But by excluding the
provender for cattle, and at the same time admitting the cattle almost
duty free, I think you are giving an example of one of the greatest
absurdities and perversions of nature and common-sense that ever was

We have heard of great absurdities in legislation in commercial matters
of late. We know that there has been such a case as sending coffee from
Cuba to the Cape of Good Hope, in order to bring it back to England
under the law; but I venture to say, that in less than ten years from
this time, people will look back with more amazement in their minds, at
the fact that, while you are sending ships to Ichaboe to bring back the
guano, you are passing a law to exclude Indian corn, beans, oats, peas,
and every thing else that gives nourishment to your cattle, which would
give you a thousand times more productive manure than all the guano of

Upon the last occasion when I spoke upon this subject, I was answered
by the right honorable gentleman, the President of the Board of Trade.
He talked about throwing poor lands out of cultivation, and converting
arable lands into pasture. I hope that we men of the Anti-Corn-Law
League may not be reproached again with seeking to cause any such
disasters. My belief is—and the conviction is founded upon a most
extensive inquiry among the most intelligent farmers, without stint of
trouble and pains,—that the course you are pursuing tends every hour
to throw land out of cultivation, and make poor lands unproductive. Do
not let us be told again that we desire to draw the laborers from the
land, in order that we may reduce the wages of the work-people employed
in factories.[14] I tell you that, if you bestow capital on the soil,
and cultivate it with the same skill as manufacturers bestow upon their
business, you have not population enough in the rural districts for
the purpose. I yesterday received a letter from Lord Ducie, in which
he gives precisely the same opinion. He says: “If we had the land
properly cultivated, there are not sufficient laborers to till it.”
You are chasing your laborers from village to village, passing laws
to compel people to support paupers, devising every means to smuggle
them abroad—to the antipodes, if you can get them there; why, you would
have to run after them, and bring them back again, if you had your land
properly cultivated. I tell you honestly my conviction, that it is by
these means, and these only, that you can avert very great and serious
troubles and disasters in your agricultural districts.

Sir, I remember, on the last occasion when this subject was discussed,
there was a great deal said about disturbing an interest.[15] It was
said this inquiry could not be gone into, because we were disturbing
and unsettling a great interest. I have no desire to undervalue the
agricultural interest. I have heard it said that they are the greatest
consumers of manufactured goods in this country; that they are such
large consumers of our goods that we had better look after the home
trade, and not think of destroying it. But what sort of consumers of
manufactures think you the laborers can be, with the wages they are
now getting in agricultural districts? Understand me; I am arguing
for a principle that I solemnly believe would raise the wages of the
laborers in the agricultural districts. I believe you would have no men
starving upon 7_s._ a week, if you had abundant capital and competent
skill employed upon the soil; but I ask what is this consumption of
manufactured goods that we have heard so much about? I have taken
some pains, and made large inquiries as to the amount laid out in
the average of cases by agricultural laborers and their families for
clothing; I probably may startle you by telling you that we have
exported in one year more of our manufactures to Brazil than have
been consumed in a similar period by the whole of your agricultural
peasantry and their families. You have 960,000 agricultural laborers
in England and Wales, according to the last census; I undertake to
say they do not expend on an average 30_s._ a year on their families,
supposing every one of them to be in employ. I speak of manufactured
goods, excluding shoes. I assert that the whole of the agricultural
peasantry and their families in England and Wales do not spend a
million and a half per annum for manufactured goods, in clothing and
bedding. And, with regard to your excisable and duty-paying articles,
what can the poor wretch lay out upon them, who out of 8_s._ or 9_s._
a week has a wife and family to support? I undertake to prove to your
satisfaction—and you may do it yourselves if you will but dare to look
the figures in the face,—I will undertake to prove to you that they do
not pay, upon an average, each family, 15_s._ per annum; that the whole
of their contributions to the revenue do not amount to 700,000_l._
Now, is not this a mighty interest to be disturbed? I would keep
that interest as justly as though it were one of the most important;
but I say, when you have by your present system brought down your
agricultural peasantry to that state, have you any thing to offer for
bettering their condition, or at all events to justify resisting an

On the last occasion when I addressed the House on this subject, I
recollect stating some facts to show that you had no reasonable ground
to fear foreign competition; those facts I do not intend to reiterate,
because they have never been contradicted. But there are still attempts
made to frighten people by telling them: “If you open the ports to
foreign corn, you will have corn let in here for nothing.” One of
the favorite fallacies which are now put forth is this: “Look at the
price of corn in England, and see what it is abroad; you have prices
low here, and yet you have corn coming in from abroad and paying the
maximum duty. Now, if you had not 20_s._ duty to pay, what a quantity
of corn you would have brought in, and how low the price would be!”
This statement arises from a fallacy—I hope not dishonestly put
forth—in not understanding the difference between the real and the
nominal price of corn. The price of corn at Dantzic now, when there is
no regular sale, is nominal; the price of corn when it is coming in
regularly is the real price. Now, go back to 1838. In January of that
year the price of wheat at Dantzic was nominal; there was no demand
for England; there were no purchasers except for speculation, with the
chance, probably, of having to throw the wheat into the sea; but in
the months of July and August of that year, when apprehensions arose
of a failure of our harvest, then the price of corn in Dantzic rose
instantly, sympathizing with the markets of England; and at the end of
the year, in December, the price of wheat at Dantzic had doubled the
amount at which it had been in January; and during the three following
years, when you had a regular importation of corn,—during all that
time, by the averages laid upon the table of this House, wheat at
Dantzic averaged 40_s._ Wheat at Dantzic was at that price during the
three years 1839, 1840, and 1841. Now, I mention this just to show the
fact to honorable gentlemen, and to entreat them that they will not
go and alarm their tenantry by this outcry of the danger of foreign
competition. You ought to be pursuing a directly opposite course—you
ought to be trying to stimulate them in every possible way, by showing
that they can compete with foreigners; that what others can do in
Poland, they can do in England.

I have an illustration of this subject in the case of a society of
which the honorable member for Suffolk is chairman. We have lately seen
a new light spreading amongst agricultural gentlemen. We are told the
salvation of this country is to arise from the cultivation of flax.
There is a National Flax Society, of which Lord Rendlesham is the
president. This Flax Society state in their prospectus, a copy of which
I have here, purporting to be the First Annual Report of the National
Flax Agricultural Improvement Association,—after talking of the
ministers holding out no hope from legislation, the report goes on to
state that upon these grounds the National Flax Society call upon the
nation for its support, on the ground that they are going to remedy the
distress of the country. The founder of this society is Mr. Warnes of
Norfolk. I observe Mr. Warnes paid a visit to Sussex, and he attended
an agricultural meeting at which the honorable baronet, the member for
Shoreham [Sir Charles Burrell], presided. After the usual loyal toasts,
the honorable baronet proposed the toast of the evening: “Mr. Warnes
and the cultivation of flax.” The honorable baronet was not aware,
I dare say, that he was then furnishing a most deadly weapon to the
lecturers of the Anti-Corn-Law League. We are told you cannot compete
with foreigners unless you have a high protective duty. You have a high
protective duty on wheat, amounting at this moment to 20_s._ a quarter.
A quarter of wheat at the present time is just worth the same as one
cwt. of flax. On a quarter of wheat you have a protective duty against
the Pole and Russian of 20_s._; upon the one cwt. of flax you have a
protective duty of 1_d._ And I did not hear a murmur from honorable
gentlemen opposite when the Prime-Minister proposed to take off that
protective duty of 1_d._ totally and immediately.

But we are told that English agriculturists cannot compete with
foreigners, and especially with that serf labor that is to be found
somewhere up the Baltic. Well, but flax comes from the Baltic and there
is no protective duty. Honorable gentlemen say we have no objection
to raw materials where there is no labor connected with them; but we
cannot contend against foreigners in wheat, because there is such
an amount of labor in it. Why, there is twice as much labor in flax
as there is in wheat; but the member for Shoreham favors the growth
of flax in order to restore the country, which is sinking into this
abject and hopeless state for want of agricultural protection. But the
honorable baronet will forgive me—I am sure he will, he looks as if
he would—if I allude a little to the subject of leases. The honorable
gentleman on that occasion, I believe, complained that it was a great
pity that farmers did not grow more flax. I do not know whether it was
true or not that the same honorable baronet’s leases to his own tenants
forbade them to grow that article.

Now, it is quite as possible that the right honorable baronet does not
exactly know what covenants or clauses there are in his leases. But I
know that it is a very common case to preclude the growth of flax; and
it just shows the kind of management by which the landed proprietors
have carried on their affairs, that actually, I believe, the original
source of the error that flax was very pernicious to the ground was
derived from Virgil; I believe there is a passage in the Georgics to
that effect.[15a] From that classic authority, no doubt, some learned
lawyer put this clause into the lease, and there it has remained ever

Now, I have alluded to the condition of the laborers at the present
time; but I am bound to say that while the farmers at the present
moment are in a worse condition than they have been for the last ten
years, I believe the agricultural laborers have passed over the winter
with less suffering and distress, although it has been a five-months’
winter, and a severer one, too, than they endured in the previous year.
[Hear!] I am glad to find that corroborated by honorable gentlemen
opposite, because it bears out, in a remarkable degree, the opinion
that we, who are in connection with the free-trade question, entertain.
We maintain that a low price of food is beneficial to the laboring
classes. We assert, and we can prove it, at least in the manufacturing
districts, that whenever provisions are dear wages are low, and
whenever food is cheap wages invariably rise. We have had a strike in
almost every business in Lancashire since the price of wheat has been
down to something like 50_s._; and I am glad to be corroborated when I
state that the agricultural laborers have been in a better condition
during the last winter than they were in the previous one. But does
not that show that, even in your case, though your laborers have in a
general way only just as much as will find them a subsistence, they
are benefited by a great abundance of the first necessaries of life?
Although their wages may rise and fall with the price of food,—although
they may go up with the advance in the price of corn, and fall when
it is lowered,—still, I maintain that it does not rise in the same
proportion as the price of food rises, nor fall to the extent to
which food falls. Therefore in all cases the agricultural laborers
are in a better state when food is low than when it is high. I have
a very curious proof that high-priced food leads to pauperism in the
agricultural districts, which I will read to you. It is a laborer’s
certificate seen at Stowupland, in Suffolk, in July, 1844, which was
placed upon the mantel-piece of a peasant’s cottage there:

“West Suffolk Agricultural Association, established in 1833 for the
advancement of agriculture and the encouragement of industry and
skill and good conduct among laborers and servants in husbandry,
President—the Duke of Grafton, Lord-Lieutenant of the county: This is
to certify that a prize of 2_l._ was awarded to William Burch, aged
82, laborer of the parish of Stowupland, in West Suffolk, September
25, 1840, for having brought up nine children without relief, except
when flour was very dear; and for having worked on the same farm
twenty-eight years. (Signed) Rt. Rushbrooke, Chairman.”

Now I need not press that point. It is admitted by honorable gentlemen
opposite—and I am glad it is so—that after a very severe winter, in the
midst of great distress among farmers, when there have been a great
many able-bodied men wanting employment, still there have been fewer in
the streets and work-houses than there had been in the previous year;
and I hope we shall not again be told by honorable gentlemen opposite
that cheap bread is injurious to the laborers.

But the condition of the agricultural laborer is a bad case at the
very best. You can look before you, and you have to foresee the means
of giving employment to those men. I need not tell you that the late
census shows that you cannot employ your own increasing population
in the agricultural districts. But you say the farmer should employ
them. Now, I am bound to say that, whatever may be the condition of
the agricultural laborer, I hold that the farmer is not responsible
for that condition while he is placed in the situation in which he
now is by the present system. I have seen during the last autumn and
winter a great many exhortations made to the farmers, that they should
employ more laborers. I think that is very unfair towards the farmer;
I believe he is the man who is suffering most; he stands between you
and your impoverished, suffering peasantry; and it is rather too bad
to point to the farmer as the man who should relieve them. I have an
extract from Lord Hardwick’s address to the laborers of Haddenham. He

“Conciliate your employers, and if they do not perform their duty to
you and themselves, address yourselves to the landlords, and I assure
you that you will find us ready to urge our own tenants to the proper
cultivation of their farms, and, consequently, to the just employment
of the laborer.”

Now, I hold that this duty begins nearer home, and that the landed
proprietors are the parties who are responsible if the laborers have
not employment. You have absolute power; there is no doubt about that.
You can, if you please, legislate for the laborers, or yourselves.
Whatever you may have done besides, your legislation has been adverse
to the laborer, and you have no right to call upon the farmers to
remedy the evils which you have caused. Will not this evil—if evil
you call it—press on you more and more every year? What can you do to
remedy the mischief? I only appear here now because you have proposed
nothing. We all know your system of allotments, and we are all aware of
its failure. What other remedy have you? for, mark you, that is worse
than a plaything, if you were allowed to carry out your own views.
[Hear!] Aye, it is well enough for some of you that there are wiser
heads than your own to lead you, or you would be conducting yourselves
into precisely the same condition in which they are in Ireland, but
with this difference—this increased difficulty,—that there they do
manage to maintain the rights of property by the aid of the English
Exchequer and 20,000 bayonets; but divide your own country into small
allotments, and where would be the rights of property? What do you
propose to do now? That is the question. Nothing has been brought
forward this year, which I have heard, having for its object to
benefit the great mass of the English population; nothing I have heard
suggested which has at all tended to alleviate their condition.

You admit that the farmer’s capital is sinking from under him, and that
he is in a worse state than ever. Have you distinctly provided some
plan to give confidence to the farmer, to cause an influx of capital
to be expended upon his land, and so bring increased employment to
the laborer? How is this to be met? I cannot believe you are going
to make this a political game. You must set up some specific object
to benefit the agricultural interest. It is well said that the last
election was an agricultural triumph. There are two hundred county
members sitting behind the Prime-Minister who prove that it was so.
What, then, is your plan for this distressing state of things? That
is what I want to ask you. Do not, as you have done before, quarrel
with me because I have imperfectly stated my case; I have done my best;
and I again ask you what you have to propose? I tell you that this
“Protection,” as it has been called, is a failure. It was so when you
had the prohibition up to 80_s._ You know the state of your farming
tenantry in 1821. It was a failure when you had a protection price
of 60_s._; for you know what was the condition of your farm tenantry
in 1835. It is a failure now with your last amendment, for you have
admitted and proclaimed it to us; and what is the condition of your
agricultural population at this time? I ask, what is your plan? I
hope it is not a pretence; a mere political game that has been played
throughout the last election, and that you have not all come up here
as mere politicians. There are politicians in the House; men who look
with an ambition—probably a justifiable one—to the honors of office.
There may be men who—with thirty years of continuous service, having
been pressed into a groove from which they can neither escape nor
retreat—may be holding office, high office, maintained there, probably,
at the expense of their present convictions which do not harmonize very
well with their early opinions. I make allowances for them; but the
great body of the honorable gentlemen opposite came up to this House,
not as politicians, but as the farmers’ friends, and protectors of the
agricultural interests. Well, what do you propose to do? You have heard
the Prime-Minister declare that, if he could restore all the protection
which you have had, that protection would not benefit agriculturists.
Is that your belief? If so, why not proclaim it? and if it is not your
conviction, you will have falsified your mission in this House, by
following the right honorable baronet out into the lobby, and opposing
inquiry into the condition of the very men who sent you here.[16]

With mere politicians I have no right to expect to succeed in this
motion. But I have no hesitation in telling you, that, if you give me
a committee of this House, I will explode the delusion of agricultural
protection! I will bring forward such a mass of evidence, and give
you such a preponderance of talent and of authority, that when the
Blue-Book is published and sent forth to the world, as we can now send
it, by our vehicles of information, your system of protection shall
not live in public opinion for two years afterward.[17] Politicians
do not want that. This cry of protection has been a very convenient
handle for politicians. The cry of protection carried the counties at
the last election, and politicians gained honors, emoluments, and place
by it. But is that old tattered flag of protection, tarnished and torn
as it is already, to be kept hoisted still in the counties for the
benefit of politicians; or will you come forward honestly and fairly to
inquire into this question? I cannot believe that the gentry of England
will be made mere drum-heads to be sounded upon by a Prime-Minister
to give forth unmeaning and empty sounds, and to have no articulate
voice of their own. No! You are the gentry of England who represent
the counties. You are the aristocracy of England. Your fathers led our
fathers; you may lead us if you will go the right way. But, although
you have retained your influence with this country longer than any
other aristocracy, it has not been by opposing popular opinion, or by
setting yourselves against the spirit of the age.

In other days, when the battle and the hunting-fields were the tests
of manly vigor, your fathers were first and foremost there. The
aristocracy of England were not like the noblesse of France, the mere
minions of a court; nor were they like the hidalgos of Madrid, who
dwindled into pigmies. You have been Englishmen. You have not shown a
want of courage and firmness when any call has been made upon you. This
is a new era. It is the age of improvement, it is the age of social
advancement, not the age for war or for feudal sports. You live in a
mercantile age, when the whole wealth of the world is poured into your
lap. You cannot have the advantages of commercial rents and feudal
privileges; but you may be what you always have been, if you will
identify yourselves with the spirit of the age. The English people look
to the gentry and aristocracy of their country as their leaders. I,
who am not one of you, have no hesitation in telling you that there is
a deep-rooted, an hereditary prejudice, if I may so call it, in your
favor in this country. But you never got it, and you will not keep
it, by obstructing the spirit of the age. If you are indifferent to
enlightened means of finding employment to your own peasantry; if you
are found obstructing that advance which is calculated to knit nations
more together in the bonds of peace by means of commercial intercourse;
if you are found fighting against the discoveries which have almost
given breath and life to material nature, and setting up yourselves as
obstructives of that which destiny has decreed shall go on,—why, then,
you will be the gentry of England no longer, and others will be found
to take your place.

And I have no hesitation in saying that you stand just now in a very
critical position. There is a wide-spread suspicion that you have
been tampering with the best feelings and with the honest confidence
of your constituents in this cause. Everywhere you are doubted and
suspected. Read your own organs, and you will see that this is the
case. Well, then, this is the time to show that you are not the mere
party politicians which you are said to be. I have said that we shall
be opposed in this measure by politicians; they do not want inquiry.
But I ask you to go into this committee with me. I will give you a
majority of county members. You shall have a majority of the Central
Society in that committee. I ask you only to go into a fair inquiry as
to the causes of the distress of your own population. I only ask that
this matter may be fairly examined. Whether you establish my principle
or yours, good will come out of the inquiry; and I do, therefore, beg
and entreat the honorable independent country gentlemen of this House
that they will not refuse, on this occasion, to go into a fair, a full,
and an impartial inquiry.


The most eloquent of the orators of the Liberal party in England
was born at Greenbank, a village now forming a part of Rochedale,
in 1811. His father was a manufacturer of some prominence, and the
son at the age of fifteen left school and became identified with
the business interests of the firm. The education of John Bright
was neither comprehensive nor thorough. He early showed an unusual
fondness for English literature, and he acquired a large knowledge of
English history; but in other respects his education was simply of
that fragmentary nature which comes from quick intelligence and large
opportunities of observation. His teachers have left no record of any
remarkable promise in his early days. About the time of attaining his
majority he travelled extensively on the continent; and the first
evidence of great oratorical promise was given in a course of lectures
embodying his recollections of a tour in Europe and the Holy Land in

Though Bright had taken an active part in the local agitation for
reform in 1832, it was not till he became identified with the
Anti-Corn-Law League in 1839 that he became prominent as a public
speaker. In the course of the agitation that followed he was closely
identified with Cobden in the work of the league. Bright’s oratory,
while less persuasive than that of Cobden, was of a loftier tone,
and was better adapted to arouse the attention of the people to the
importance of the subject. Throughout the whole of the Anti-Corn-Law
movement the names of Cobden and Bright were closely associated, and
the intimate and beautiful friendship then begun continued without
interruption till Cobden’s death. It was the popular influence they
acquired by their speeches in behalf of free trade that brought them
both into Parliament. Bright took his seat in 1843, and delivered
his maiden speech in August of the same year in behalf of extending
the principles of free trade. Though defeated in 1857 by the city of
Manchester, on account of his energetic opposition to the course of
the government in the Crimean War, he was immediately taken up by the
electors of Birmingham and returned by a triumphant majority. His
career in the House of Commons, therefore, has been uninterrupted for
more than thirty years.

During the whole of this period Mr. Bright’s powers have been
consistently exerted in behalf of certain definite lines of political
policy. From first to last he has been the uncompromising advocate
and champion of the principles of free trade. He has been a thorough
student of American affairs; and at the time of the American civil
war, it was his eloquence more than any other one thing that
restrained England from following the lead of France into the policy
of acknowledging the independence of the seceding States. In domestic
affairs he has advocated the general policy of retrenchment, a more
equitable distribution of the seats with reference to population, and
a wide extension of the rights of suffrage. In 1857 his strenuous and
eloquent opposition to the methods of Palmerston cost him his seat in
the House; and in 1882 he resigned his place in the cabinet, because
he was unwilling to share the policy of Mr. Gladstone which led to the
bombardment of Alexandria. On each of these subjects he has left a
group of speeches that are likely to retain an honorable and permanent
place in the history of British eloquence. It has been his lot to be
more frequently opposed to the government than in sympathy with it; and
although he can hardly be said to have originated any great lines of
policy, his influence has always been felt in behalf of peace and of an
extension of popular freedom.



  [The foreign policy of Lord Palmerston in the Crimean War had been
  severely criticized by Cobden and Bright, and in consequence of
  this criticism, Bright had lost his seat for Manchester. He was at
  once, however, elected by Birmingham; and the speech here given was
  delivered in the Town-Hall on the occasion of his first visit to his

The frequent and far too complimentary manner in which my name has
been mentioned to-night, and the most kind way in which you have
received me, have placed me in a position somewhat humiliating, and
really painful; for to receive laudation which one feels one cannot
possibly have merited, is much more painful than to be passed by in a
distribution of commendation to which possibly one might lay some claim.

If one twentieth part of what has been said is true, if I am
entitled to any measure of your approbation, I may begin to think
that my public career and my opinions are not so un-English and so
anti-national as some of those who profess to be the best of our public
instructors have sometimes assumed. How, indeed, can I, any more than
any of you, be un-English and anti-national? Was I not born upon the
same soil? Do I not come of the same English stock? Are not my family
committed irrevocably to the fortunes of this country? Is not whatever
property I may have depending, as much as yours is depending, upon
the good government of our common fatherland? Then how shall any man
dare to say to any one of his countrymen, because he happens to hold a
different opinion on questions of great public policy, that therefore
he is un-English, and is to be condemned as anti-national? There are
those who would assume that between my countrymen and me, and between
my constituents and me, there has been, and there is now, a great gulf
fixed, and that if I cannot pass over to them and to you, they and you
can by no possibility pass over to me.

Now, I take the liberty here, in the presence of an audience as
intelligent as can be collected within the limits of this island, and
of those who have the strongest claims to know what opinions I do
entertain relative to certain great questions of public policy, to
assert that I hold no views, that I have never promulgated any views,
on those controverted questions with respect to which I cannot bring as
witnesses in my favor, and as fellow-believers with myself, some of the
best and most revered names in the history of English statesmanship.

About 120 years ago, the government of this country was directed by
Sir Robert Walpole, a great minister, who for a long period preserved
the country in peace, and whose pride it was that during those years
he had done so. Unfortunately, toward the close of his career, he was
driven by faction into a policy which was the ruin of his political

Sir Robert Walpole declared, when speaking of the question of war as
affecting this country, that nothing could be so foolish, nothing so
mad, as a policy of war for a trading nation. And he went so far as to
say, that any peace was better than the most successful war.

I do not give you the precise language made use of by the minister, for
I speak only from memory; but I am satisfied I am not misrepresenting
him in what I have now stated.

Come down fifty years nearer to our own time, and you find a statesman,
not long in office, but still strong in the affections of all persons
of Liberal principles in this country, and in his time representing
fully the sentiments of the Liberal party—Charles James Fox.

Mr. Fox, referring to the policy of the government of his time, which
was one of constant interference in the affairs of Europe, and by which
the country was continually involved in the calamities of war, said
that although he would not assert or maintain the principle, that under
no circumstances could England have any cause of interference with the
affairs of the continent of Europe, yet he would prefer the policy of
positive non-interference and of perfect isolation, rather than the
constant intermeddling to which our recent policy had subjected us, and
which brought so much trouble and suffering upon the country. In this
case also I am not prepared to give you his exact words, but I am sure
that I fairly describe the sentiments which he expressed.

Come down fifty years later, and to a time within the recollection
of most of us, and you find another statesman, once the most popular
man in England, and still remembered in this town and elsewhere with
respect and affection. I allude to Earl Grey. When Earl Grey came
into office for the purpose of carrying the question of parliamentary
reform, he unfurled the banner of peace, retrenchment, and reform,
and that sentiment was received in every part of the United Kingdom,
by every man who was or had been in favor of Liberal principles, as
predicting the advent of a new era which should save his country from
many of the calamities of the past.

Come down still nearer, and to a time that seems but the other day,
and you find another minister, second to none of those whom I have
mentioned—the late Sir Robert Peel. I had the opportunity of observing
the conduct of Sir Robert Peel, from the time when he took office in
1841; I watched his proceedings particularly from the year 1843, when
I entered Parliament, up to the time of his lamented death[19]; and
during the whole of that period, I venture to say, his principles, if
they were to be discovered from his conduct and his speeches, were
precisely those which I have held, and which I have always endeavored
to press upon the attention of my countrymen. If you have any doubt
upon that point I would refer you to that last, that beautiful, that
most solemn speech, which he delivered with an earnestness and a sense
of responsibility as if he had known he was leaving a legacy to his
country. If you refer to that speech, delivered on the morning of the
very day on which occurred the accident which terminated his life, you
will find that its whole tenor is in conformity with all the doctrines
that I have urged upon my countrymen for years past with respect to our
policy in foreign affairs. When Sir Robert Peel went home just before
the dawn of day, upon the last occasion that he passed from the House
of Commons, the scene of so many of his triumphs, I have heard from
what I think a good authority, that after he entered his own house he
expressed the exceeding relief which he experienced at having delivered
himself of a speech which he had been reluctantly obliged to make
against a ministry which he was anxious to support, and he added, if I
am not mistaken: “I have made a speech of peace.”

Well, if this be so, if I can give you four names like these,—if there
were time I could make a longer list of still eminent, if inferior
men,—I should like to know why I, as one of a small party, am to be set
down as teaching some new doctrine which is not fit for my countrymen
to hear, and why I am to be assailed in every form of language, as if
there was one great department of governmental affairs on which I was
incompetent to offer any opinion to my countrymen.

But leaving the opinions of individuals, I appeal to this audience, to
every man who knows any thing of the views and policy of the Liberal
party in past years, whether it is not the fact that, up to 1832,
and indeed to a much later period, probably to the year 1850, those
sentiments of Sir Robert Walpole, of Mr. Fox, of Earl Grey, and of Sir
Robert Peel, the sentiments which I in humbler mode have propounded,
were not received unanimously by the Liberal party as their fixed and
unchangeable creed? And why should they not? Are they not founded
upon reason? Do not all statesmen know, as you know, that upon peace,
and peace alone can be based the successful industry of a nation,
and that by successful industry alone can be created that wealth
which, permeating all classes of the people, not confined to great
proprietors, great merchants, and great speculators, not running in a
stream merely down your principal streets, but turning fertilizing
rivulets into every by-lane and every alley, tends so powerfully to
promote the comfort, happiness, and contentment of a nation? Do you not
know that all progress comes from successful and peaceful industry,
and that upon it is based your superstructure of education, of morals,
of self-respect among your people, as well as every measure for
extending and consolidating freedom in your public institutions? I am
not afraid to acknowledge that I do oppose—that I do utterly condemn
and denounce—a great part of the foreign policy which is practised and
adhered to by the government of this country.

You know, of course, that about one hundred and seventy years ago there
happened in this country what we have always been accustomed to call a
“Glorious Revolution”—a Revolution which had this effect: that it put
a bit into the mouth of the monarch, so that he was not able of his
own free will to do, and he dared no longer attempt to do, the things
which his predecessors had done without fear. But if at the Revolution
the monarchy of England was bridled and bitted, at the same time the
great territorial families of England were enthroned: and from that
period until the year 1831 or 1832—until the time when Birmingham
politically became famous,—those territorial families reigned with
an almost undisputed sway over the destinies and the industry of the
people of these kingdoms.[20] If you turn to the history of England
from the period of the Revolution to the present, you will find that
an entirely new policy was adopted, and that while we had endeavored
in former times to keep ourselves free from European complications, we
now began to act upon a system of constant entanglement in the affairs
of foreign countries, as if there were neither property nor honors, nor
any thing worth striving for, to be acquired in any other field. The
language coined and used then has continued to our day. Lord Somers, in
writing for William III., speaks of the endless and sanguinary wars of
that period as wars “to maintain the liberties of Europe.” There were
wars “to support the Protestant interest,” and there were many wars to
preserve our old friend “the balance of power.”

We have been at war since that time, I believe, with, for, and against
every considerable nation in Europe. We fought to put down a pretended
French supremacy under Louis XIV. We fought to prevent France and
Spain coming under the sceptre of one monarch, although, if we had
not fought, it would have been impossible in the course of things
that they should have become so united.[21] We fought to maintain the
Italian provinces in connection with the House of Austria. We fought
to put down the supremacy of Napoleon Bonaparte; and the minister who
was employed by this country at Vienna, after the great war, when it
was determined that no Bonaparte should ever again sit on the throne
of France, was the very man to make an alliance with another Bonaparte
for the purpose of carrying on a war to prevent the supremacy of the
late Emperor of Russia.[22] So that we have been all around Europe, and
across it over and over again, and after a policy so distinguished, so
pre-eminent, so long continued, and so costly, I think we have a fair
right—I have, at least—to ask those who are in favor of it to show us
its visible result. Europe is not at this moment, so far as I know,
speaking of it broadly, and making allowance for certain improvements
in its general civilization, more free politically than it was before.
The balance of power is like perpetual motion, or any of those
impossible things which some men are always racking their brains and
spending their time and money to accomplish.

We all know and deplore that at the present moment a larger number
of the grown men of Europe are employed, and a larger portion of
the industry of Europe is absorbed, to provide for, and maintain,
the enormous armaments which are now on foot in every considerable
continental state. Assuming, then, that Europe is not much better in
consequence of the sacrifices we have made, let us inquire what has
been the result in England, because, after all, that is the question
which it becomes us most to consider. I believe that I understate
the sum when I say that, in pursuit of this will-o’-the-wisp (the
liberties of Europe and the balance of power), there has been extracted
from the industry of the people of this small island no less an
amount than 2,000,000,000_l._ sterling.[23] I cannot imagine how much
2,000,000,000_l._ is, and therefore I shall not attempt to make you
comprehend it.

I presume it is something like those vast and incomprehensible
astronomical distances with which we have been lately made familiar;
but, however familiar, we feel that we do not know one bit more
about them than we did before. When I try to think of that sum of
2,000,000,000_l._ there is a sort of vision passes before my mind’s
eye. I see your peasant laborer delve and plunge, sow and reap, sweat
beneath the summer’s sun, or grow prematurely old before the winter’s
blast. I see your noble mechanic with his manly countenance and his
matchless skill, toiling at his bench or his forge. I see one of the
workers in our factories in the north, a woman—a girl it may be—gentle
and good, as many of them are, as your sisters and daughters are—I
see her intent upon the spindle, whose revolutions are so rapid, that
the eye fails altogether to detect them, or watching the alternating
flight of the unresting shuttle. I turn again to another portion of
your population, which, “plunged in mines, forgets a sun was made,”
and I see the man who brings up from the secret chambers of the earth
the elements of the riches and greatness of his country. When I see
all this I have before me a mass of produce and of wealth which I am
no more able to comprehend than I am that 200,000,000_l._ of which I
have spoken, but I behold in its full proportions the hideous error of
your governments, whose fatal policy consumes in some cases a half,
never less than a third, of all the results of that industry which
God intended should fertilize and bless every home in England, but the
fruits of which are squandered in every part of the surface of the
globe, without producing the smallest good to the people of England.

We have, it is true, some visible results that are of a more positive
character. We have that which some people call a great advantage—the
national debt—a debt which is now so large that the most prudent, the
most economical, and the most honest have given up all hope, not of its
being paid off, but of its being diminished in amount.[24]

We have, too, taxes which have been during many years so onerous that
there have been times when the patient beasts of burden threatened to
revolt—so onerous that it has been utterly impossible to levy them
with any kind of honest equality, according to the means of the people
to pay them. We have that, moreover, which is a standing wonder to
all foreigners who consider our condition—an amount of apparently
immovable pauperism which to strangers is wholly irreconcilable with
the fact that we, as a nation, produce more of what should make us all
comfortable than is produced by any other nation of similar numbers
on the face of the globe. Let us likewise remember that during the
period of those great and so-called glorious contests on the continent
of Europe, every description of home reform was not only delayed, but
actually crushed out of the minds of the great bulk of the people.
There can be no doubt whatever that in 1793 England was about to
realize political changes and reforms, such as did not appear again
until 1830,[25] and during the period of that war, which now almost all
men agree to have been wholly unnecessary, we were passing through a
period which may be described as the dark age of English politics; when
there was no more freedom to write or speak, or politically to act,
than there is now in the most despotic country of Europe.

But, it may be asked, did nobody gain? If Europe is no better, and the
people of England have been so much worse, who has benefited by the
new system of foreign policy? What has been the fate of those who were
enthroned at the Revolution, and whose supremacy has been for so long a
period undisputed among us? Mr. Kinglake, the author of an interesting
book on Eastern travel, describing the habits of some acquaintances
that he made in the Syrian deserts, says, that the jackals of the
desert follow their prey in families like the place-hunters of
Europe. I will reverse, if you like, the comparison, and say that the
great territorial families of England, which were enthroned at the
Revolution, have followed their prey like the jackals of the desert.
Do you not observe at a glance, that, from the time of William III.,
by reason of the foreign policy which I denounce, wars have been
multiplied, taxes increased, loans made, and the sums of money which
every year the government has to expend augmented, and that so the
patronage at the disposal of ministers must have increased also, and
the families who were enthroned and made powerful in the legislation
and administration of the country must have had the first pull at,
and the largest profit out of, that patronage? There is no actuary in
existence who can calculate how much of the wealth, of the strength, of
the supremacy of the territorial families of England, has been derived
from an unholy participation in the fruits of the industry of the
people, which have been wrested from them by every device of taxation,
and squandered in every conceivable crime of which a government could
possibly be guilty.

The more you examine this matter the more you will come to the
conclusion which I have arrived at, that this foreign policy, this
regard for the “liberties of Europe,” this care at one time for “the
Protestant interests,” this excessive love for “the balance of power,”
is neither more nor less than a gigantic system of out-door relief
for the aristocracy of Great Britain. [Great laughter.][26] I observe
that you receive that declaration as if it were some new and important
discovery. In 1815, when the great war with France was ended, every
Liberal in England, whose politics, whose hopes, and whose faith had
not been crushed out of him by the tyranny of the time of that war,
was fully aware of this, and openly admitted it, and up to 1832, and
for some years afterward, it was the fixed and undoubted creed of
the great Liberal party. But somehow all is changed. We, who stand
upon the old landmarks, who walk in the old paths, who would conserve
what is wise and prudent, are hustled and shoved about as if we were
come to turn the world upside down. The change which has taken place
seems to confirm the opinion of a lamented friend of mine, who, not
having succeeded in all his hopes, thought that men made no progress
whatever, but went round and round like a squirrel in a cage. The idea
is now so general that it is our duty to meddle everywhere, that it
really seems as if we had pushed the Tories from the field, expelling
them by our competition.

I should like to lay before you a list of the treaties which we have
made, and of the responsibilities under which we have laid ourselves
with respect to the various countries of Europe. I do not know where
such an enumeration is to be found, but I suppose it would be possible
for antiquaries and men of investigating minds to dig them out from
the recesses of the Foreign Office, and perhaps to make some of them
intelligible to the country. I believe, however, that if we go to the
Baltic we shall find that we have a treaty to defend Sweden, and the
only thing which Sweden agrees to do in return is not to give up any
portion of her territories to Russia. Coming down a little south we
have a treaty which invites us, enables us, and perhaps, if we acted
fully up to our duty with regard to it, would compel us to interfere
in the question between Denmark and the Duchies.[27] If I mistake not,
we have a treaty which binds us down to the maintenance of the little
kingdom of Belgium, as established after its separation from Holland.
We have numerous treaties with France. We are understood to be bound
by treaty to maintain constitutional government in Spain and Portugal.
If we go round into the Mediterranean, we find the little kingdom of
Sardinia, to which we have lent some millions of money, and with which
we have entered into important treaties for preserving the balance of
power in Europe. If we go beyond the kingdom of Italy, and cross the
Adriatic, we come to the small kingdom of Greece, against which we have
a nice account that will never be settled; while we have engagements
to maintain that respectable but diminutive country under its present
constitutional government.[28] Then leaving the kingdom of Greece we
pass up the eastern end of the Mediterranean, and from Greece to the
Red Sea, wherever the authority of the Sultan is more or less admitted,
the blood and the industry of England are pledged to the permanent
sustentation of the “independence and integrity” of the Ottoman

I confess that as a citizen of this country, wishing to live peaceably
among my fellow-countrymen, and wishing to see my countrymen free,
and able to enjoy the fruits of their labor, I protest against a
system which binds us in all these networks and complications from
which it is impossible that one can gain one single atom of advantage
for this country. It is not all glory after all. Glory may be worth
something, but it is not always glory. We have had within the last
few years despatches from Vienna and from St. Petersburg, which, if
we had not deserved them, would have been very offensive and not a
little insolent.[30] We have had the ambassador of the Queen expelled
summarily from Madrid, and we have had an ambassador driven almost
with ignominy from Washington.[31] We have blockaded Athens for a
claim which was known to be false.[32] We have quarrelled with Naples,
for we chose to give advice to Naples, which was not received in the
submissive spirit expected from her, and our minister was therefore
withdrawn.[33] Not three years ago, too, we seized a considerable
kingdom in India, with which our government had but recently entered
into the most solemn treaty, which every lawyer in England and in
Europe, I believe, would consider binding before God and the world.[34]
We deposed its monarch; we committed a great immorality and a great
crime, and we have reaped an almost instantaneous retribution in the
most gigantic and sanguinary revolt which probably any nation ever made
against its conquerors. Within the last few years we have had two wars
with a great empire, which we are told contains at least one third of
the whole human race.[35] The first war was called, and appropriately
called, the Opium War. No man, I believe, with a spark of morality
in his composition, no man who cares any thing for the opinion of
his fellow-countrymen, has dared to justify that war. The war which
has just been concluded, if it has been concluded, had its origin in
the first war; for the enormities committed in the first war are the
foundation of the implacable hostility which it is said the inhabitants
of Canton bear to all persons connected with the English name. Yet,
though we have these troubles in India—a vast country which we do not
know how to govern,—and a war with China—a country with which, though
everybody else can remain at peace, we cannot,—such is the inveterate
habit of conquest, such is the insatiable lust of territory, such is,
in my view, the depraved, unhappy state of opinion of the country on
this subject, that there are not a few persons, Chambers of Commerce,
to wit, in different parts of the kingdom (though I am glad to say
it has not been so with the Chamber of Commerce at Birmingham), who
have been urging our government to take possession of a province of
the greatest island in the Eastern seas; a possession which must at
once necessitate increased estimates and increased taxation, and which
would probably lead us into merciless and disgraceful wars with the
half-savage tribes who inhabit that island.[36]

I will not dwell upon that question. The gentleman who is principally
concerned in it is at this moment, as you know, stricken down with
affliction, and I am unwilling to enter here into any considerable
discussion of the case which he is urging upon the public; but I say
that we have territory enough in India; and if we have not troubles
enough there, if we have not difficulties enough in China, if we have
not taxation enough, by all means gratify your wishes for more; but
I hope that whatever may be the shortcomings of the government with
regard to any other questions in which we are all interested—and may
they be few!—they will shut their eyes, they will turn their backs
obstinately from adding in this mode, or in any mode, to the English
possessions in the East. I suppose that if any ingenious person were
to prepare a large map of the world, as far as it is known, and
were to mark upon it, in any color that he liked, the spots where
Englishmen have fought and English blood has been poured forth, and the
treasures of English industry squandered, scarcely a country, scarcely
a province of the vast expanse of the habitable globe, would be thus

Perhaps there are in this room, I am sure there are in the country,
many persons who hold a superstitious traditionary belief that, somehow
or other, our vast trade is to be attributed to what we have done in
this way, that it is thus we have opened markets and advanced commerce,
that English greatness depends upon the extent of English conquests
and English military renown. But I am inclined to think that, with the
exception of Australia, there is not a single dependency of the crown
which, if we come to reckon what it has cost in war and protection,
would not be found to be a positive loss to the people of this
country. Take the United States, with which we have such an enormous
and constantly increasing trade. The wise statesmen of the last
generation, men whom your school histories tell you were statesmen,
serving under a monarch who they tell you was a patriotic monarch,
spent 130,000,000_l._ of the fruits of the industry of the people in
a vain—happily a vain—endeavor to retain the colonies of the United
States in subjection to the monarchy of England.

Add up the interest of that 130,000,000_l._ for all this time, and how
long do you think it will be before there will be a profit on the trade
with the United States which will repay the enormous sum we invested
in a war to retain those States as colonies of this empire? It never
will be paid off. Wherever you turn, you will find that the opening of
markets, developing of new countries, introducing cotton cloth with
cannon balls, are vain, foolish, and wretched excuses for wars, and
ought not to be listened to for a moment by any man who understands the
multiplication table, or who can do the simplest sum in arithmetic.

Since the “Glorious Revolution,” since the enthronization of the
great Norman territorial families, they have spent in wars, and we
have worked for, about 2,000,000,000_l._ The interest on that is
100,000,000_l._ per annum, which alone, to say nothing of the principal
sum, is three or four times as much as the whole amount of your annual
export trade from that time to this.[37]

Therefore, if war has provided you with a trade, it has been at an
enormous cost; but I think it is by no means doubtful that your trade
would have been no less in amount and no less profitable, had peace and
justice been inscribed on your flag instead of conquest and the love
of military renown. But even in this year, 1858—we have got a long way
into the century,—we find that within the last seven years our public
debt has greatly increased. Whatever be the increase of our population,
of our machinery, of our industry, of our wealth, still our national
debt goes on increasing.[38] Although we have not a foot more territory
to conserve, or an enemy in the world who dreams of attacking us, we
find that our annual military expenses during the last twenty years
have risen from 12,000,000_l._ to 22,000,000_l._

Some people believe that it is a good thing to pay a great revenue
to the state. Even so eminent a man as Lord John Russell is not
without a delusion of this sort. Lord John Russell, as you have heard,
while speaking of me in flattering and friendly terms, says he is
unfortunately obliged to differ from me frequently; therefore, I
suppose there is no particular harm in my saying that I am sometimes
obliged to differ from him. Some time ago he was a great star in the
northern hemisphere, shining, not with unaccustomed, but with his usual
brilliancy at Liverpool. He made a speech, in which there was a great
deal to be admired, to a meeting composed, it was said, to a great
extent of working men; and in it he stimulated them to a feeling of
pride in the greatness of their country, and in being citizens of a
state which enjoyed a revenue of 100,000,000_l._ a year, which included
the revenues of the United Kingdom and of British India. But I think it
would have been far more to the purpose if he could have congratulated
the working men of Liverpool on this vast empire being conducted in an
orderly manner, on its laws being well administered and well obeyed,
its shores sufficiently defended, its people prosperous and happy, on a
revenue of 20,000,000_l._ The state indeed, of which Lord John Russell
is a part, may enjoy a revenue of 100,000,000_l._, but I am afraid the
working men can only be said to enjoy it in the sense in which men not
very choice in their expressions say that for a long time they have
enjoyed very bad health.

I am prepared to admit that it is a subject of congratulation that
there is a people so great, so free, and so industrious that it can
produce a sufficient income out of which 100,000,000_l._ a year, if
need absolutely were, could be spared for some great and noble object;
but it is not a thing to be proud of that our government should require
us to pay that enormous sum for the simple purposes of government and

Nothing can by any possibility tend more to the corruption of a
government than enormous revenues. We have heard lately of instances
of certain joint-stock institutions with very great capital collapsing
suddenly, bringing disgrace upon their managers and ruin upon hundreds
of families. A great deal of that has arisen, not so much from
intentional fraud as from the fact that weak and incapable men have
found themselves tumbling about in an ocean of bank-notes and gold, and
they appear to have lost all sight of where it came from, to whom it
belonged, and whether it was possible by any maladministration ever to
come to an end of it. That is absolutely what is done by governments.
You have read in the papers lately some accounts of the proceedings
before a commission appointed to inquire into alleged maladministration
with reference to the supply of clothing to the army, but if anybody
had said any thing in the time of the late government about any such
maladministration, there is not one of those great statesmen, of whom
we are told we ought always to speak with so much reverence, who would
not have got up and declared that nothing could be more admirable than
the system of book-keeping at Weedon, nothing more economical than the
manner in which the War Department spent the money provided by public
taxation. But we know that it is not so. I have heard a gentleman—one
who is as competent as any man in England to give an opinion about it—a
man of business, and not surpassed by any one as a man of business,
declare, after a long examination of the details of the question, that
he would undertake to do everything that is done not only for the
defence of the country, but for many other things which are done by
your navy, and which are not necessary for that purpose, for half the
annual cost that is voted in the estimates.

I think the expenditure of these vast sums, and especially of those
which we spend for military purposes, leads us to adopt a defiant and
insolent tone towards foreign countries. We have the freest press in
Europe, and the freest platform in Europe, but every man who writes an
article in a newspaper, and every man who stands on a platform, ought
to do it under a solemn sense of responsibility. Every word he writes,
every word I utter, passes with a rapidity of which our forefathers
were utterly ignorant, to the very ends of the earth; the words become
things and acts, and they produce on the minds of other nations effects
which a man may never have intended. Take a recent case; take the case
of France. I am not expected to defend, and I shall certainly not
attack, the present government of France.

The instant that it appeared in its present shape the minister of
England conducting your foreign affairs, speaking ostensibly for the
cabinet, for his sovereign, and for the English nation, offered his
congratulations, and the support of England was at once accorded to the
re-created French empire.[39] Soon after this an intimate alliance was
entered into between the Queen of England, through her Ministers, and
the Emperor of the French.

I am not about to defend the policy which flowed from that alliance,
nor shall I take up your time by making any attack upon it. An
alliance was entered into and a war was entered into. English and
French soldiers fought on the same field, and they suffered, I fear,
from the same neglect. They now lie buried on the bleak heights of
the Crimea, and except by their mothers, who do not soon forget their
children, I suppose they are mostly forgotten. I have never heard it
suggested that the French Government did not behave with the most
perfect honor to this government and to this country all through these
grave transactions; but I have heard it stated by those who most
know, that nothing could be more honorable, nothing more just, than
the conduct of the French Emperor to this government throughout the
whole of that struggle. More recently, when the war in China was begun
by a government which I have condemned and denounced in the House
of Commons, the Emperor of the French sent his ships and troops to
co-operate with us, but I never heard that any thing was done there
to create a suspicion of a feeling of hostility on his part toward
us. The Emperor of the French came to London, and some of those
powerful organs of the press that have since taken the line of which I
am complaining, did all but invite the people of London to prostrate
themselves under the wheels of the chariot which conveyed along our
streets the revived monarchy of France. The Queen of England went to
Paris, and was she not received there with as much affection and as
much respect as her high position and her honorable character entitled
her to?

What has occurred since? If there was a momentary unpleasantness, I am
quite sure every impartial man will agree that, under the peculiarly
irritating circumstances of the time there was at least as much
forbearance shown on one side of the Channel as on the other. Then
we have had much said lately about a naval fortification recently
completed in France, which has been more than one hundred years in
progress, and which was not devised by the present Emperor of the

For one hundred years great sums had been spent on it, and at last,
like every other great work, it was brought to an end. The English
Queen and others were invited over, and many went who were not invited.
And yet in all this we are told that there is something to create
extreme alarm and suspicion; we, who never fortified any places; we,
who have not a greater than Sebastopol at Gibraltar; we who have not
an impregnable fortress at Malta, who have not spent the fortune of
a nation almost in the Ionian Islands, and who are doing nothing at
Alderney; we are to take offence at the fortifications of Cherbourg!
There are few persons who at some time or other have not been brought
into contact with a poor unhappy fellow-creature who has some peculiar
delusion or suspicion pressing on his mind. I recollect a friend of
mine going down from Derby to Leeds in the train with a very quiet and
respectable looking gentleman sitting opposite to him. They had both
been staying at the Midland Hotel, and they began talking about it.
All at once the gentleman said: “Did you notice any thing particular
about the bread at breakfast?” “No,” said my friend, “I did not.” “Oh!
but I did,” said the poor gentleman, “and I am convinced there was an
attempt made to poison me, and it is a very curious thing that I never
go to an hotel without I discover some attempt to do me mischief.” The
unfortunate man was laboring under one of the greatest calamities which
can befall a human creature. But what are we to say of a nation which
lives under a perpetual delusion that it is about to be attacked—a
nation which is the most combined on the face of the earth, with little
less than 30,000,000 of people all united under a government which,
though we intend to reform we do not the less respect, and which has
mechanical power and wealth to which no other country offers any
parallel? There is no causeway to Britain; the free waves of the sea
flow day and night forever round her shores, and yet there are people
going about with whom this hallucination is so strong that they do not
merely discover it quietly to their friends, but they write it down in
double-leaded columns, in leading articles,—nay, some of them actually
get up on platforms and proclaim it to hundreds and thousands of their
fellow-countrymen. I should like to ask you whether these delusions
are to last forever, whether this policy is to be the perpetual policy
of England, whether these results are to go on gathering and gathering
until there come, as come there must inevitably, some dreadful
catastrophe on our country.

I should like to-night, if I could, to inaugurate one of the best and
holiest revolutions that ever took place in this country. We have
had a dozen revolutions since some of us were children. We have had
one revolution in which you had a great share—a great revolution of
opinion on the question of the suffrage. Does it not read like madness
that men, thirty years ago, were frantic at the idea of the people
of Birmingham having a 10_l._ franchise? Does it not seem something
like idiocy to be told that a banker in Leeds, when it was proposed to
transfer the seats of one rotten borough to the town of Leeds, should
say (and it was repeated in the House of Commons on his authority) that
if the people of Leeds had the franchise conferred upon them it would
not be possible to keep the bank doors open with safety, and that he
should remove his business to some quiet place, out of danger from the
savage race that peopled that town? But now all confess that the people
are perfectly competent to have votes, and nobody dreams of arguing
that the privilege will make them less orderly.

Take the question of colonial government. Twenty years ago the
government of our colonies was a huge job. A small family party in
each, in connection with the Colonial Office, ruled our colonies. We
had then discontent, and now and then a little wholesome insurrection,
especially in Canada. The result was that we have given up the colonial
policy which had hitherto been held sacred, and since that time
not only have our colonies greatly advanced in wealth and material
resources, but no parts of the empire are more tranquil and loyal.[40]

Take also the question of protection. Not thirty years ago, but twelve
years ago, there was a great party in Parliament, led by a Duke in one
House, and by a son and brother of a duke in the other, which declared
that utter ruin must come, not only on the agricultural interest, but
upon the manufactures and commerce of England, if we departed from our
old theories upon this subject of protection. They told us that the
laborer—the unhappy laborer—of whom it may be said in this country:

   “Here landless laborers hopeless toil and strive,
    But taste no portion of the sweets they hive,”

that the laborer was to be ruined; that is, that the paupers were to
be pauperized. These gentlemen were overthrown. The plain, honest,
common-sense of the country swept away their cob-web theories, and
they are gone. What is the result? From 1846 to 1857 we have received
into this country of grain of all kinds, including flour, maize, or
India corn—all objects heretofore not of absolute prohibition, but
which were intended to be prohibited until it was not safe for people
to be starved any more,—not less than an amount equal in value to
224,000,000_l._ That is equal to 18,700,000_l._ per annum on the
average of twelve years. During that period, too, your home growth
has been stimulated to an enormous extent. You have imported annually
200,000 tons of guano, and the result has been a proportionate increase
in the productions of the soil, for 200,000 tons of guano will grow an
equal weight and value of wheat. With all this, agriculture was never
more prosperous, while manufactures were never, at the same time, more
extensively exported; and with all this, the laborers, for whom the
tears of the Protectionist were shed, have, according to the admission
of the most violent of the class, never been in a better state since
the beginning of the great French war.

One other revolution of opinion has been in regard to our criminal
law. I have lately been reading a book which I would advise every
man to read—the “Life of Sir Samuel Romilly.” He tells us in simple
language of the almost insuperable difficulties he had to contend with
to persuade the legislature of this country to abolish the punishment
of death for stealing from a dwelling-house to the value of 5_s._, an
offence which now is punished by a few weeks’ imprisonment. Lords,
bishops, and statesmen opposed these efforts year after year, and there
have been some thousands of persons put to death publicly for offences
which are not now punishable with death. Now every man and woman in the
kingdom would feel a thrill of horror if told that a fellow-creature
was to be put to death for such a cause.

These are revolutions in opinion, and let me tell you that when you
accomplish a revolution in opinion upon a great question, when you
alter it from bad to good, it is not like charitably giving a beggar
6_d._ and seeing him no more, but it is a great beneficent act, which
affects not merely the rich and the powerful, but penetrates every
lane, every cottage in the land, and wherever it goes brings blessings
and happiness. It is not from statesmen that these things come. It
is not from them that have proceeded these great revolutions of
opinion on the questions of reform, protection, colonial government,
and criminal law—it was from public meetings such as this, from the
intelligence and conscience of the great body of the people who have
no interest in wrong, and who never go from the right but by temporary
error and under momentary passion.

It is for you to decide whether our greatness shall be only temporary,
or whether is shall be enduring. When I am told that the greatness of
our country is shown by the 100,000,000_l._ of revenue produced, may I
not also ask how it is that we have 1,100,000 paupers in this kingdom,
and why it is that 7,000,000_l._ should be taken from the industry
chiefly of the laboring classes to support a small nation, as it
were, of paupers? Since your legislation upon the Corn Laws, you have
not only had nearly 20,000,000_l._ of food brought into the country
annually, but such an extraordinary increase of trade that your exports
are about doubled, and yet I understand that in the year 1856, for I
have no later return, there were no less than 1,100,000 paupers in the
United Kingdom, and the sum raised in poor-rates was not less than
7,200,000_l._[41] And that cost of pauperism is not the full amount,
for there is a vast amount of temporary, casual, and vagrant pauperism
that does not come in to swell that sum.

Then do not you well know—I know it, because I live among the
population of Lancashire, and I doubt not the same may be said of the
population of this city and county—that just above the level of the
1,100,000 there is at least an equal number who are ever oscillating
between independence and pauperism, who, with a heroism which is not
the less heroic because it is secret and unrecorded, are doing their
very utmost to maintain an honorable and independent position before
their fellow-men?

While Irish labor, notwithstanding the improvement which has taken
place in Ireland, is only paid at the rate of about one shilling a
day; while in the straths and glens of Scotland there are hundreds of
shepherd families whose whole food almost consists of oatmeal porridge
from day to day, and from week to week; while these things continue,
I say that we have no reason to be self-satisfied and contented with
our position; but that we who are in Parliament and are more directly
responsible for affairs, and you who are also responsible though in a
lesser degree, are bound by the sacred duty which we owe our country
to examine why it is that with all this trade, all this industry, and
all this personal freedom, there is still so much that is unsound at
the base of our social fabric?

Let me direct your attention now to another point which I never think
of without feelings that words would altogether fail to express. You
hear constantly that woman, the helpmate of man, who adorns, dignifies,
and blesses our lives, that woman in this country is cheap; that
vast numbers whose names ought to be synonyms for purity and virtue,
are plunged into profligacy and infamy. But do you not know that you
sent 40,000 men to perish on the bleak heights of the Crimea, and
that the revolt in India, caused, in part at least, by the grievous
iniquity of the seizure of Oude, may tax your country to the extent of
100,000 lives before it is extinguished; and do you not know that for
the 140,000 men thus drafted off and consigned to premature graves,
nature provided in your country 140,000 women? If you have taken the
men who should have been the husbands of these women, and if you have
sacrificed 100,000,000_l._, which as capital reserved in the country
would have been an ample fund for their employment and for the
sustentation of their families, are you not guilty of a great sin in
involving yourselves in such a loss of life and of money in war, except
on grounds and under circumstances which, according to the opinions of
every man in the country, should leave no kind of option whatever for
your choice?

I know perfectly well the kind of observations which a certain class of
critics will make upon this speech.

I have been already told by a very eminent newspaper publisher in
Calcutta, who, commenting on a speech I made at the close of the
session with regard to the condition of India, and our future policy
in that country, said, that the policy I recommended was intended to
strike at the root of the advancement of the British empire, and that
its advancement did not necessarily involve the calamities which I
pointed out as likely to occur.

My Calcutta critic assured me that Rome pursued a similar policy for
a period of eight centuries, and that for those eight centuries she
remained great. Now, I do not think that examples taken from pagan,
sanguinary Rome, are proper models for the imitation of a Christian
country, nor would I limit my hopes of the greatness of England even
to the long duration of 800 years.

But what is Rome now? The great city is dead. A poet has described her
as “the lone mother of dead empires.” Her language even is dead. Her
very tombs are empty; the ashes of her most illustrious citizens are

“The Scipios’ tomb contains no ashes now.” Yet I am asked, I, who am
one of the legislators of a Christian country, to measure my policy by
the policy of ancient and pagan Rome!

I believe there is no permanent greatness to a nation except it be
based upon morality. I do not care for military greatness or military
renown. I care for the condition of the people among whom I live.
There is no man in England who is less likely to speak irreverently
of the crown and monarchy of England than I am; but crowns, coronets,
mitres, military display, the pomp of war, wide colonies, and a huge
empire are, in my view, all trifles, light as air, and not worth
considering, unless with them you can have a fair share of comfort,
contentment, and happiness among the great body of the people. Palaces,
baronial castles, great halls, stately mansions, do not make a nation.
The nation in every country dwells in the cottage; and unless the
light of your constitution can shine there, unless the beauty of your
legislation and the excellence of your statesmanship are impressed
there on the feelings and condition of the people, rely upon it you
have yet to learn the duties of government.

I have not, as you have observed, pleaded that this country should
remain without adequate and scientific means of defence. I acknowledge
it to be the duty of your statesmen, acting upon the known opinions
and principles of ninety-nine out of every hundred persons in the
country, at all times, with all possible moderation, but with all
possible efficiency, to take steps which shall preserve order within
and on the confines of your kingdom. But I shall repudiate and denounce
the expenditure of every shilling, the engagement of every man, the
employment of every ship, which has no object but intermeddling in the
affairs of other countries, and endeavoring to extend the boundaries
of an empire which is already large enough to satisfy the greatest
ambition, and I fear is much too large for the highest statesmanship to
which any man has yet attained.

The most ancient of profane historians has told us that the Scythians
of his time were a very warlike people, and that they elevated an
old cimeter upon a platform as a symbol of Mars, for to Mars alone,
I believe, they built altars and offered sacrifices. To this cimeter
they offered sacrifices of horses and cattle, the main wealth of the
country, and more costly sacrifices than to all the rest of their gods.
I often ask myself whether we are at all advanced in one respect beyond
those Scythians. What are our contributions to charity, to education,
to morality, to religion, to justice, and to civil government, when
compared with the wealth we expend in sacrifices to the old cimeter?
Two nights ago I addressed in this hall a vast assembly composed to a
great extent of your countrymen who have no political power, who are at
work from the dawn of the day to the evening, and who have therefore
limited means of informing themselves on these great subjects. Now I
am privileged to speak to a somewhat different audience. You represent
those of your great community who have a more complete education, who
have on some points greater intelligence, and in whose hands reside
the power and influence of the district. I am speaking, too, within
the hearing of those whose gentle nature, whose finer instincts,
whose purer minds, have not suffered as some of us have suffered in
the turmoil and strife of life. You can mould opinion, you can create
political power;—you cannot think a good thought on this subject and
communicate it to your neighbors,—you cannot make these points topics
of discussion in your social circles and more general meetings, without
affecting sensibly and speedily the course which the government of your
country will pursue.

May I ask you, then, to believe, as I do most devoutly believe, that
the moral law was not written for men alone in their individual
character, but that it was written as well for nations, and for nations
great as this of which we are citizens. If nations reject and deride
that moral law, there is a penalty which will inevitably follow. It may
not come at once, it may not come in our lifetime; but rely upon it,
the great Italian is not a poet only, but a prophet, when he says:

   “The sword of heaven is not in haste to smite,
    Nor yet doth linger.”

We have experience, we have beacons, we have landmarks enough. We
know what the past has cost us, we know how much and how far we
have wandered, but we are not left without a guide. It is true we
have not, as an ancient people had, Urim and Thummim—those oraculous
gems on Aaron’s breast,—from which to take counsel, but we have the
unchangeable and eternal principles of the moral law to guide us, and
only so far as we walk by that guidance can we be permanently a great
nation, or our people a happy people.


In 1825 the novel-reading public of England was thrown into not a
little excitement by the appearance of a curious but brilliant work of
imagination entitled “Vivian Grey.” This piece of literary pyrotechny
was rapidly followed by “The Young Duke,” “Henrietta Temple,”
“Contarini Fleming,” “Alroy,” and other curious compounds of fiction
and politics. The name of the author did not at first appear; but it
soon came to be known that the series was the product of a student of
law, not yet twenty-five years of age, and the son of Isaac Disraeli,
the author of the “Curiosities of Literature.” This young novelist was
described by the society journals of the day as a man who frequented
Gore House, and not only poured out upon society there torrents of
remarkable talk on literary and political affairs, but made himself
amusingly conspicuous by his decorations of gaudy waistcoats and gold
chains. It came soon to be universally known in London society that
this eccentric genius, though educated in private under his father’s
care, had been a great reader of literature and history, and had come
to have very definite notions in regard to almost every question under
the sun.

Flushed with the success of his literary experiences, young Disraeli
travelled extensively in Europe and the East, and then returned in
1831, resolved to secure a seat in Parliament. In his first efforts
he was not successful; but in 1837, the year of Queen Victoria’s
accession, the electors of Maidstone gave him a seat, and accordingly
he entered the House of Commons in the thirty-third year of his age.

His first speech was generally regarded as a singular, even a
ridiculous, failure. Those who depend for their impression on its words
as they appear in Hansard or in Lord Beaconsfield’s selected speeches,
will hardly perceive in its fanciful flights the reasons for the
outbursts of laughter and jeers with which it was greeted and finally
brought to an end. It must have been the gaudiness of the speaker’s
dress, and the violent and theatrical manner of his speech, quite as
much as the irrelevancy of what he said, that threw the House into
roars of laughter, and led them to suppress the speaker altogether.
He did not, however, take his seat without thundering out the
prophecy—which appeared at the time quite as much like a threat—that
the time would come when they would hear him. It was long before he
secured the ear of the House. Between 1840 and 1845 he was largely
occupied with literary works, and during that period he published
“Coningsby,” “Sybil,” and “Tancred,” a trio of really remarkable
political novels, designed to present a picture of the forces at work
in the nation and of the way in which they should be dealt with by
Parliament. The conversations of Sidonia in “Coningsby” give a clear
and probably correct notion of Disraeli’s political opinions. He
advanced with great emphasis the doctrine that the Tory party was the
party of the people, and that the welfare of the lower classes was only
to be secured by the prevalence of Tory principles. Holding these views
he attached himself firmly to the party led by Sir Robert Peel; and
it was not until 1846, when the leader announced his determination to
bring in a bill for the modification of the Corn Laws, that Disraeli
deserted him. The eccentric young member was an ardent Protectionist.
In the course of the ten years that had elapsed since his first sad
experience he had become a master of argumentative fence, and in the
years that followed he developed such extraordinary abilities in his
assaults upon the government that he was universally recognized as a
consummate master of parliamentary invective and the most powerful
orator of the Opposition. The repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 was
followed by a succession of poor harvests and by great suffering.
In a series of speeches extending over the years from 1846 to 1852,
Disraeli, with a skill and an eloquence that raised him to the front
rank of British orators, attributed this suffering to the financial and
economic policy of the government. These repeated and well-directed
blows finally broke the power of the ministry, and when, in 1852, the
Liberals went out of office, the Tories came in with Lord Derby as
Prime-Minister and Mr. Disraeli as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

This position was held by Disraeli through each of Derby’s three
administrations; and on the resignation of that nobleman in February
of 1868 the Chancellor of the Exchequer was raised to the post of
Prime-Minister. This, however, he was obliged to resign before the end
of the year; but in 1873, when Mr. Gladstone’s Government was defeated
on the Irish Education Bill, the position was again tendered him. The
circumstances of the situation, however, did not encourage him to
accept. The Liberal ministry had been defeated not by the Conservatives
alone, but by a combination with the Home Rulers, a group of some
sixty Irish members who were likely to vote with the Liberals on all
other questions. The offer, therefore, was declined; but when in the
following year Mr. Gladstone decided to test the relative strength
of the parties by a dissolution and an appeal to the country, the
Conservatives were returned in triumphant majority, and Mr. Disraeli,
in February, 1874, was called a second time to the head of the
government. This position he continued to hold till the election of
1880, when, under the rigorous assaults of Gladstone and his followers,
the Conservative policy was rejected by the country. Meanwhile, in
August of 1876, Disraeli had been raised to the peerage with the title
of Earl of Beaconsfield, and in July of 1878 had been invested with the
Order of the Garter. With the downfall of his ministry in 1880, Lord
Beaconsfield’s political career came to an end, though he continued to
inspire the Opposition to the policy of his opponents till the time of
his death in 1881.

Throughout Disraeli’s political career, or at least ever after
the very first years of it, he was a staunch advocate of the old
Tory principles advocated by Lord Bolingbroke and Lord Shelburne.
In “Coningsby” and cropping out here and there in his speeches we
find constant evidences of his belief that the welfare of the common
people depends upon the union of the upper and the lower classes under
the guidance of the Conservative party. He held that the triumph of
the Whigs was the triumph of the middle class in opposition to the
interests of the lower, and that the inevitable results of a triumph
of Whig principles must be the creation of irreconcilable differences
between classes that ought to be cordially united. These views were
elaborated in his “Life of Lord George Bentinck,” in his “Defence of
the English Constitution,” and to some extent in his speeches on the
Reform Bill of 1867.

Two portions of Lord Beaconsfield’s career were very violently
criticised. The first was his course in regard to the reform of 1867.
Immediately after Lord Palmerston’s death in 1865, and the accession
of Earl Russell’s ministry, it became evident that the popular demand
could only be satisfied with a reform of the franchise. A bill was
accordingly introduced with the design of further extending the
right of suffrage in the manner of the great measure of 1832. The
bill was powerfully advocated by Mr. Gladstone, the Chancellor of
the Exchequer in the House, and was opposed with equal vigor by Mr.
Disraeli. On a motion to amend, the government was defeated, and
Russell and Gladstone going out of power, Derby and Disraeli came in.
As to what would be done, the public were not long left in doubt. On
the 18th of March, 1867. Mr. Disraeli came forward with a measure of
reform far more sweeping in its nature than that which he had in the
previous administration so vigorously and successfully opposed. The
extension of suffrage was to be made on a new principle, or at least
a principle which appeared to be new, though in fact it had been
advocated in Disraeli’s early writings. In his speech introducing the
measure he called attention to the fact that no less than five times
since 1832 attempts had been made to place the right of suffrage on a
firm basis, but that all of these had failed. He declared that they
had failed because they were mere expedients, whereas the question
could only be settled by the adoption of a clearly defined principle.
Hitherto the right to vote had depended upon income; it ought to
depend, he declared, upon permanency of interest. He therefore
proposed the substitution of the principle of household suffrage in
the place of suffrage founded upon the payment of a fixed rate. The
measure was looked upon with consternation by the Liberals, and was
most strenuously opposed by Gladstone and his followers; but it was
advocated in a succession of speeches of so much power and skill by
Disraeli that no opposition could prevent its final passage. But the
author of the measure, always more or less distrusted, was henceforth
regarded as a political adventurer who had stolen into the camp of his
enemy and run off with the spoils.

The foreign policy of Disraeli was equally obnoxious to his opponents.
In one respect he was the lineal successor of Pitt, Canning, and
Palmerston. Though he differed with many of the views held by those
great foreign ministers, and did not shrink from criticising them
with great severity, he was always in favor of a vigorous assertion
of the rights and interests of Great Britain. This, in the opinion
of his opponents, descended into a meddlesome interference with the
affairs of other nations. In Afghanistan, in Abyssinia, in South
Africa, and especially in the Eastern Mediterranean, his policy was
thought to be aggressive, and provoked the most violent opposition of
the Liberal party. By the treaty of San Stefano, concluded in 1878
between Russia and Turkey at the close of the war between these powers,
Turkey was reduced almost to a cipher in the hands of Russia. In the
opinion of Lord Beaconsfield this solution imperilled the interests of
Great Britain in the Mediterranean. Russia was accordingly required
by the English Government to submit the treaty to a congress of
European powers. This at first Russia refused to do, whereupon the
Prime-Minister moved an address to the Queen asking her to call out the
Reserves. This was done, and was immediately followed by the still more
vigorous step of bringing up to Malta a division of the Indian army.
Russia at once began to lower her pretensions, and finally agreed that
the treaty should be submitted to a European Congress. In June of 1878
Lord Beaconsfield and Lord Salisbury went as English Plenipotentiaries
to the Congress at Berlin called to consider the whole question. The
result was an important modification of the Treaty of San Stefano and a
practical restoration of the independence of the Turkish empire. On the
return of the Ambassadors, bringing back, as Beaconsfield said, “peace
with honor,” they were received with an ovation which has not often
had a parallel in English history. Three years later, Mr. Gladstone,
in paying a tribute to his deceased rival, singled out his reception
in the House of Lords as the culminating point of his greatness in the
eyes of all those who regarded his policy with admiration; and applied
to the Berlin triumph the well-known words of Virgil:

    Aspice et insignis spoliis Marcellus opimis
    Ingreditur, victorque viros supereminet omnes.


APRIL 3, 1872.

  [In November of 1871, Sir Charles Dilke delivered an address at
  Newcastle, in which he denounced the cost of royalty. The popular
  agitation that followed throughout the country was very considerable;
  and, as Mr. Gladstone was then Prime-Minister, there were not a
  few that supposed this attack upon the support of the crown to be
  a premonition of a policy to be adopted by the government. The
  position of Dilke met with no popular encouragement, but it gave an
  opportunity to the Opposition which they were by no means reluctant
  to avail themselves of. The agitation that followed had not a little
  influence in bringing on the downfall of Gladstone’s ministry in
  1874. Lord Beaconsfield was at the head of the Opposition, and the
  following speech was at once the most effective assault made upon
  the policy of Gladstone, and the most comprehensive statement of the
  principles advocated by the Conservative party.]


The Chairman has correctly reminded you that this is not the first time
that my voice has been heard in this hall. But that was an occasion
very different from that which now assembles us together—was nearly
thirty years ago, when I endeavored to support and stimulate the
flagging energies of an institution in which I thought there were the
germs of future refinement and intellectual advantage to the rising
generation of Manchester, and since I have been here on this occasion
I have learned with much gratification that it is now counted among
your most flourishing institutions. There was also another and more
recent occasion when the gracious office fell to me to distribute among
the members of the Mechanics’ Institution those prizes which they had
gained through their study in letters and in science. Gentlemen, these
were pleasing offices, and if life consisted only of such offices you
would not have to complain of it. But life has its masculine duties,
and we are assembled here to fulfil some of the most important of
these, when, as citizens of a free country, we are assembled together
to declare our determination to maintain, to uphold the constitution to
which we are debtors, in our opinion, for our freedom and our welfare.

Gentlemen, there seems at first something incongruous that one should
be addressing the population of so influential and intelligent a
county as Lancashire who is not locally connected with them, and,
gentlemen, I will frankly admit that this circumstance did for a
long time make me hesitate in accepting your cordial and generous
invitation. But, gentlemen, after what occurred yesterday, after
receiving more than two hundred addresses from every part of this
great county, after the welcome which then greeted me, I feel that
I should not be doing justice to your feelings, I should not do my
duty to myself, if I any longer considered my presence here to-night
to be an act of presumption. Gentlemen, though it may not be an act
of presumption, it still is, I am told, an act of great difficulty.
Our opponents assure us that the Conservative party has no political
programme; and, therefore, they must look with much satisfaction
to one whom you honor to-night by considering him the leader and
representative of your opinions when he comes forward, at your
invitation, to express to you what that programme is. The Conservative
party are accused of having no programme of policy. If by a programme
is meant a plan to despoil churches and plunder landlords, I admit we
have no programme. If by a programme is meant a policy which assails
or menaces every institution and every interest, every class and
every calling in the country, I admit we have no programme. But if
to have a policy with distinct ends, and these such as most deeply
interest the great body of the nation, be a becoming programme for a
political party, then I contend we have an adequate programme, and one
which, here or elsewhere, I shall always be prepared to assert and to

Gentlemen, the programme of the Conservative party is to maintain
the constitution of the country. I have not come down to Manchester
to deliver an essay on the English constitution; but when the banner
of Republicanism is unfurled—when the fundamental principles of
our institutions are controverted—I think, perhaps, it may not be
inconvenient that I should make some few practical remarks upon the
character of our constitution—upon that monarchy limited by the
co-ordinate authority of the estates of the realm, which, under the
title of Queen, Lords, and Commons, has contributed so greatly to the
prosperity of this country, and with the maintenance of which I believe
that prosperity is bound up.

Gentlemen, since the settlement of that constitution, now nearly
two centuries ago, England has never experienced a revolution,
though there is no country in which there has been so continuous and
such considerable change. How is this? Because the wisdom of your
forefathers placed the prize of supreme power without the sphere of
human passions. Whatever the struggle of parties, whatever the strife
of factions, whatever the excitement and exaltation of the public
mind, there has always been something in this country round which
all classes and parties could rally, representing the majesty of the
law, the administration of justice, and involving, at the same time,
the security for every man’s rights and the fountain of honor. Now,
gentlemen, it is well clearly to comprehend what is meant by a country
not having a revolution for two centuries. It means, for that space,
the unbroken exercise and enjoyment of the ingenuity of man. It means
for that space the continuous application of the discoveries of science
to his comfort and convenience. It means the accumulation of capital,
the elevation of labor, the establishment of those admirable factories
which cover your district; the unwearied improvement of the cultivation
of the land, which has extracted from a somewhat churlish soil harvests
more exuberant than those furnished by lands nearer to the sun. It
means the continuous order which is the only parent of personal liberty
and political right. And you owe all these, gentlemen, to the Throne.

There is another powerful and most beneficial influence which is also
exercised by the crown. Gentlemen, I am a party man. I believe that,
without party, parliamentary government is impossible. I look upon
parliamentary government as the noblest government in the world, and
certainly the one most suited to England. But without the discipline
of political connection, animated by the principle of private honor,
I feel certain that a popular assembly would sink before the power
or the corruption of a minister. Yet, gentlemen, I am not blind to
the faults of party government. It has one great defect. Party has a
tendency to warp the intelligence, and there is no minister, however
resolved he may be in treating a great public question, who does not
find some difficulty in emancipating himself from the traditionary
prejudice on which he has long acted. It is, therefore, a great merit
in our constitution, that before a minister introduces a measure to
Parliament, he must submit it to an intelligence superior to all
party, and entirely free from influences of that character.

I know it will be said, gentlemen, that, however beautiful in theory,
the personal influence of the sovereign is now absorbed in the
responsibility of the minister. Gentlemen, I think you will find
there is great fallacy in this view. The principles of the English
constitution do not contemplate the absence of personal influence on
the part of the sovereign; and if they did, the principles of human
nature would prevent the fulfilment of such a theory. Gentlemen, I need
not tell you that I am now making on this subject abstract observations
of general application to our institutions and our history. But take
the case of a sovereign of England who accedes to his throne at the
earliest age the law permits and who enjoys a long reign,—take an
instance like that of George III. From the earliest moment of his
accession that sovereign is placed in constant communication with
the most able statesmen of the period, and of all parties. Even with
average ability it is impossible not to perceive that such a sovereign
must soon attain a great mass of political information and political
experience. Information and experience, gentlemen, whether they are
possessed by a sovereign or by the humblest of his subjects, are
irresistible in life. No man with the vast responsibility that devolves
upon an English minister can afford to treat with indifference a
suggestion that has not occurred to him, or information with which he
had not been previously supplied. But, gentlemen, pursue this view of
the subject. The longer the reign, the influence of that sovereign must
proportionately increase. All the illustrious statesmen who served his
youth disappear. A new generation of public servants rises up, there
is a critical conjuncture in affairs—a moment of perplexity and peril.
Then it is that the sovereign can appeal to a similar state of affairs
that occurred perhaps thirty years before. When all are in doubt among
his servants, he can quote the advice that was given by the illustrious
men of his early years, and though he may maintain himself within
the strictest limits of the constitution, who can suppose when such
information and such suggestions are made by the most exalted person in
the country that they can be without effect? No, gentlemen; a minister
who could venture to treat such influence with indifference would not
be a constitutional minister, but an arrogant idiot.[42]

Gentlemen, the influence of the crown is not confined merely to
political affairs. England is a domestic country. Here the home is
revered and the hearth is sacred. The nation is represented by a
family—the royal family; and if that family is educated with a sense
of responsibility and a sentiment of public duty, it is difficult to
exaggerate the salutary influence they may exercise over a nation.[43]
It is not merely an influence upon manners; it is not merely that they
are a model for refinement and for good taste—they affect the heart
as well as the intelligence of the people; and in the hour of public
adversity, or in the anxious conjuncture of public affairs, the nation
rallies round the family and the throne, and its spirit is animated
and sustained by the expression of public affection. Gentlemen, there
is yet one other remark that I would make upon our monarchy, though
had it not been for recent circumstances, I should have refrained from
doing so. An attack has recently been made upon the throne on account
of the costliness of the institution.[44] Gentlemen, I shall not dwell
upon the fact that if the people of England appreciate the monarchy,
as I believe they do, it would be painful to them that their royal
and representative family should not be maintained with becoming
dignity, or fill in the public eye a position inferior to some of the
nobles of the land. Nor will I insist upon what is unquestionably the
fact, that the revenues of the crown estates, on which our sovereign
might live with as much right as the Duke of Bedford, or the Duke
of Northumberland, has to his estates, are now paid into the public
exchequer. All this, upon the present occasion, I am not going to
insist upon. What I now say is this: that there is no sovereignty
of any first-rate state which costs so little to the people as the
sovereignty of England. I will not compare our civil list with those
of European empires, because it is known that in amount they treble
and quadruple it; but I will compare it with the cost of sovereignty
in a republic, and that a republic with which you are intimately
acquainted—the republic of the United States of America.

Gentlemen, there is no analogy between the position of our sovereign,
Queen Victoria, and that of the President of the United States. The
President of the United States is not the sovereign of the United
States. There is a very near analogy between the position of the
President of the United States and that of the Prime-Minister of
England, and both are paid at much the same rate—the income of a
second-class professional man.[45] The sovereign of the United States
is the people; and I will now show you what the sovereignty of the
United States costs. Gentlemen, you are aware of the Constitution of
the United States. There are thirty-seven independent States, each with
a sovereign Legislature. Besides these, there is a Confederation of
States to conduct their external affairs, which consists of the House
of Representatives and a Senate. There are two hundred and eighty-five
members of the House of Representatives, and there are seventy-four
members of the Senate, making altogether three hundred and fifty-nine
members of Congress. Now each member of Congress receives 1,000_l._
sterling per annum. In addition to this he receives an allowance called
“mileage,” which varies according to the distance which he travels, but
the aggregate cost of which is about 30,000_l._ per annum. That makes
389,000_l._, almost the exact amount of our civil list.

But this, gentlemen, will allow you to make only a very imperfect
estimate of the cost of sovereignty in the United States. Every
member of every Legislature in the 37 States is also paid. There are,
I believe, 5,010 members of State Legislatures, who receive about $350
per annum each. As some of the returns are imperfect, the average
which I have given of expenditure may be rather high, and therefore
I have not counted the mileage, which is also universally allowed.
Five thousand and ten members of State Legislatures at $350 each make
$1,753,500, or 350,700_l._ sterling a year. So you see, gentlemen, that
the immediate expenditure for the sovereignty of the United States
is between 700,000_l._ and 800,000_l._ a year. Gentlemen, I have not
time to pursue this interesting theme, otherwise I could show that
you have still but imperfectly ascertained the cost of sovereignty in
a republic. But, gentlemen, I cannot resist giving you one further

The government of this country is considerably carried on by the aid
of royal commissions. So great is the increase of public business that
it would be probably impossible for a minister to carry on affairs
without this assistance. The Queen of England can command for these
objects the services of the most experienced statesmen, and men of the
highest position in society. If necessary, she can summon to them
distinguished scholars or men most celebrated in science and in art;
and she receives from them services that are unpaid. They are only
too proud to be described in the commission as her Majesty’s “trusty
councillors”; and if any member of these commissions performs some
transcendent services, both of thought and of labor, he is munificently
rewarded by a public distinction conferred upon him by the fountain of
honor. Gentlemen, the government of the United States, has, I believe,
not less availed itself of the services of commissions than the
government of the United Kingdom; but in a country where there is no
fountain of honor, every member of these commissions is paid.

Gentlemen, I trust I have now made some suggestions to you respecting
the monarchy of England which at least may be so far serviceable that
when we are separated they may not be altogether without advantage;
and now, gentlemen, I would say something on the subject of the House
of Lords. It is not merely the authority of the throne that is now
disputed, but the character and influence of the House of Lords that
are held up by some to public disregard. Gentlemen, I shall not stop
for a moment to offer you any proofs of the advantage of a second
chamber; and for this reason. That subject has been discussed now
for a century, ever since the establishment of the government of the
United States, and all great authorities, American, German, French,
Italian, have agreed in this, that a representative government is
impossible without a second chamber. And it has been, especially of
late, maintained by great political writers in all countries, that the
repeated failure of what is called the French republic is mainly to be
ascribed to its not having a second chamber.

But, gentlemen, however anxious foreign countries have been to enjoy
this advantage, that anxiety has only been equalled by the difficulty
which they have found in fulfilling their object. How is a second
chamber to be constituted? By nominees of the sovereign power? What
influence can be exercised by a chamber of nominees? Are they to be
bound by popular election? In what manner are they to be elected? If
by the same constituency as the popular body, what claim have they,
under such circumstances, to criticise or to control the decisions of
that body? If they are to be elected by a more select body, qualified
by a higher franchise, there immediately occurs the objection, why
should the majority be governed by the minority? The United States of
America were fortunate in finding a solution of this difficulty; but
the United States of America had elements to deal with which never
occurred before, and never probably will occur again, because they
formed their illustrious Senate from materials that were offered them
by the thirty-seven States. We, gentlemen, have the House of Lords,
an assembly which has historically developed and periodically adapted
itself to the wants and necessities of the times.

What, gentlemen, is the first quality which is required in a second
chamber? Without doubt, independence. What is the best foundation of
independence? Without doubt, property. The Prime-Minister of England
has only recently told you, and I believe he spoke quite accurately,
that the average income of the members of the House of Lords is
20,000_l._ per annum. Of course there are some who have more, and
some who have less; but the influence of a public assembly, so far as
property is concerned, depends upon its aggregate property, which, in
the present case, is a revenue of 9,000,000_l._ a year. But, gentlemen,
you must look to the nature of this property. It is visible property,
and therefore it is responsible property, which every rate-payer in
the room knows to his cost. But, gentlemen, it is not only visible
property; it is, generally speaking, territorial property; and one of
the elements of territorial property is, that it is representative.
Now, for illustration, suppose—which God forbid—there was no House
of Commons, and any Englishman—I will take him from either end of
the island—a Cumberland, or a Cornish man, finds himself aggrieved,
the Cumbrian says: “This conduct I experience is most unjust. I know
a Cumberland man in the House of Lords, the Earl of Carlisle or the
Earl of Lonsdale; I will go to him; he will never see a Cumberland
man ill-treated.” The Cornish man will say: “I will go the Lord of
Port Eliot; his family have sacrificed themselves before this for the
liberties of Englishmen, and he will get justice done me.”[46]

But, gentlemen, the charge against the House of Lords is that the
dignities are hereditary, and we are told that if we have a House of
Peers they should be peers for life. There are great authorities in
favor of this, and even my noble friend near me [Lord Derby], the other
day, gave in his adhesion to a limited application of this principle.
Now, gentlemen, in the first place, let me observe that every peer
is a peer for life, as he cannot be a peer after his death; but some
peers for life are succeeded in their dignities by their children.
The question arises, who is most responsible—a peer for life whose
dignities are not descendible, or a peer for life whose dignities
are hereditary? Now, gentlemen, a peer for life is in a very strong
position. He says: “Here I am; I have got power and I will exercise
it.” I have no doubt that, on the whole, a peer for life would exercise
it for what he deemed was the public good. Let us hope that. But, after
all, he might and could exercise it according to his own will. Nobody
can call him to account; he is independent of everybody. But a peer
for life whose dignities descend is in a very different position. He
has every inducement to study public opinion, and, when he believes it
just, to yield; because he naturally feels that if the order to which
he belongs is in constant collision with public opinion, the chances
are that his dignities will not descend to his posterity.[47]

Therefore, gentlemen, I am not prepared myself to believe that a
solution of any difficulties in the public mind on this subject
is to be found by creating peers for life. I know there are some
philosophers who believe that the best substitute for the House of
Lords would be an assembly formed of ex-governors of colonies.[48]
I have not sufficient experience on that subject to give a decided
opinion upon it. When the Muse of Comedy threw her frolic grace over
society, a retired governor was generally one of the characters
in every comedy; and the last of our great actors—who, by the by,
was a great favorite at Manchester—Mr. Farren, was celebrated for
his delineation of the character in question. Whether it be the
recollection of that performance or not, I confess I am inclined to
believe that an English gentleman—born to business, managing his own
estate, administering the affairs of his county, mixing with all
classes of his fellow-men, now in the hunting-field, now in the railway
direction, unaffected, unostentatious, proud of his ancestors, if they
have contributed to the greatness of our common country—is, on the
whole, more likely to form a senator agreeable to English opinion and
English taste than any substitute that has yet been produced.

Gentlemen, let me make one observation more, on the subject of the
House of Lords, before I conclude. There is some advantage in
political experience. I remember the time when there was a similar
outcry against the House of Lords, but much more intense and powerful;
and, gentlemen, it arose from the same cause. A Liberal government
had been installed in office, with an immense Liberal majority. They
proposed some violent measures. The House of Lords modified some,
delayed others, and some they threw out. Instantly there was a cry
to abolish or to reform the House of Lords, and the greatest popular
orator (Daniel O’Connell) that probably ever existed was sent on a
pilgrimage over England to excite the people in favor of this opinion.
What happened? That happened, gentlemen, which may happen to-morrow.
There was a dissolution of Parliament. The great Liberal majority
vanished. The balance of parties was restored. It was discovered
that the House of Lords had behind them at least half of the English
people. We heard no more cries for their abolition or their reform,
and before two years more passed England was really governed by the
House of Lords, under the wise influence of the Duke of Wellington and
the commanding eloquence of Lyndhurst; and such was the enthusiasm of
the nation in favor of the second chamber that at every public meeting
its health was drunk, with the additional sentiment, for which we are
indebted to one of the most distinguished members that ever represented
the House of Commons: “Thank God, there is the House of Lords.”[49]

Gentlemen, you will perhaps not be surprised that, having made some
remarks upon the monarchy and the House of Lords, I should say
something respecting that House in which I have literally passed the
greater part of my life, and to which I am devotedly attached. It is
not likely, therefore, that I should say any thing to depreciate the
legitimate position and influence of the House of Commons. Gentlemen,
it is said that the diminished power of the throne and the assailed
authority of the House of Lords are owing to the increased power of
the House of Commons, and the new position which of late years, and
especially during the last forty years, it has assumed in the English
constitution. Gentlemen, the main power of the House of Commons depends
upon its command over the public purse, and its control of the public
expenditure; and if that power is possessed by a party which has a
large majority in the House of Commons, the influence of the House of
Commons is proportionately increased, and, under some circumstances,
becomes more predominant. But, gentlemen, this power of the House of
Commons is not a power which has been created by any reform act, from
the days of Lord Grey in 1832 to 1867. It is the power which the House
of Commons has enjoyed for centuries, which it has frequently asserted
and sometimes even tyrannically exercised. Gentlemen, the House of
Commons represents the constituencies of England, and I am here to
show you that no addition to the elements of that constituency has
placed the House of Commons in a different position with regard to the
throne and the House of Lords from that it has always constitutionally

Gentlemen, we speak now on this subject with great advantage. We
recently have had published authentic documents upon this matter which
are highly instructive. We have, for example, just published the census
of Great Britain, and we are now in possession of the last registration
of voters for the United Kingdom. Gentlemen, it appears that by the
census the population at this time is about 32,000,000. It is shown
by the last registration that, after making the usual deductions for
deaths, removals, double entries, and so on, the constituency of the
United Kingdom may be placed at 2,200,000. So, gentlemen, it at once
appears that there are 30,000,000 people in this country who are as
much represented by the House of Lords as by the House of Commons, and
who, for the protection of their rights, must depend upon them and the
majesty of the throne. And now, gentlemen, I will tell you what was
done by the last reform act.

Lord Grey, in his measure of 1832, which was no doubt a statesman-like
measure, committed a great, and for a time it appeared an
irretrievable, error. By that measure he fortified the legitimate
influence of the aristocracy; and accorded to the middle classes great
and salutary franchises; but he not only made no provision for the
representation of the working classes in the constitution, but he
absolutely abolished those ancient franchises which the working classes
had peculiarly enjoyed and exercised from time immemorial. Gentlemen,
that was the origin of Chartism, and of that electoral uneasiness which
existed in this country more or less for thirty years.

The Liberal party, I feel it my duty to say, had not acted fairly by
this question. In their adversity they held out hopes to the working
classes, but when they had a strong government they laughed their vows
to scorn. In 1848 there was a French revolution, and a republic was
established. No one can have forgotten what the effect was in this
country. I remember the day when not a woman could leave her house in
London, and when cannon were planted on Westminster Bridge. When Lord
Derby became Prime-Minister affairs had arrived at such a point that
it was of the first moment that the question should be sincerely dealt
with. He had to encounter great difficulties, but he accomplished his
purpose with the support of a united party. And, gentlemen, what has
been the result? A year ago there was another revolution in France,
and a republic was again established of the most menacing character.
What happened in this country? You could not get half a dozen men to
assemble in a street and grumble. Why? Because the people had got what
they wanted. They were content, and they were grateful.[50]

But, gentlemen, the constitution of England is not merely a
constitution in state, it is a constitution in Church and State. The
wisest sovereigns and statesmen have ever been anxious to connect
authority with religion—some to increase their power, some, perhaps,
to mitigate its exercise. But the same difficulty has been experienced
in effecting this union which has been experienced in forming a second
chamber—either the spiritual power has usurped upon the civil, and
established a sacerdotal society, or the civil power has invaded
successfully the rights of the spiritual, and the ministers of religion
have been degraded into stipendiaries of the state and instruments
of the government. In England we accomplish this great result by an
alliance between Church and State, between two originally independent
powers. I will not go into the history of that alliance, which is
rather a question for those archæological societies which occasionally
amuse and instruct the people of this city. Enough for me that this
union was made and has contributed for centuries to the civilization
of this country. Gentlemen, there is the same assault against the
Church of England and the union between the State and the Church as
there is against the monarchy and against the House of Lords. It is
said that the existence of Nonconformity proves that the Church is a
failure. I draw from these premises an exactly contrary conclusion;
and I maintain that to have secured a national profession of faith with
the unlimited enjoyment of private judgment in matters spiritual, is
the solution of the most difficult problem, and one of the triumphs of

It is said that the existence of parties in the Church also proves its
incompetence. On that matter, too, I entertain a contrary opinion.
Parties have always existed in the Church; and some have appealed to
them as arguments in favor of its divine institution, because, in the
services and doctrines of the Church have been found representatives of
every mood in the human mind. Those who are influenced by ceremonies
find consolation in forms which secure to them the beauty of holiness.
Those who are not satisfied except with enthusiasm find in its
ministrations the exaltation they require, while others who believe
that the “anchor of faith” can never be safely moored except in the dry
sands of reason find a religion within the pale of the Church which can
boast of its irrefragable logic and its irresistible evidence.

Gentlemen, I am inclined sometimes to believe that those who advocate
the abolition of the union between Church and State have not carefully
considered the consequences of such a course. The Church is a powerful
corporation of many millions of her Majesty’s subjects, with a
consummate organization and wealth which in its aggregate is vast.
Restricted and controlled by the state, so powerful a corporation may
be only fruitful of public advantage, but it becomes a great question
what might be the consequences of the severance of the controlling
tie between these two bodies. The State would be enfeebled, but the
Church would probably be strengthened. Whether that is a result to be
desired is a grave question for all men. For my own part, I am bound
to say that I doubt whether it would be favorable to the cause of
civil and religious liberty. I know that there is a common idea that
if the union between Church and State was severed, the wealth of the
Church would revert to the State; but it would be well to remember that
the great proportion of ecclesiastical property is the property of
individuals. Take, for example, the fact that the great mass of Church
patronage is patronage in the hands of private persons. That you could
not touch without compensation to the patrons. You have established
that principle in your late Irish bill, where there was very little
patronage. And in the present state of the public mind on the subject,
there is very little doubt that there would be scarcely a patron in
England—irrespective of other aid the Church would receive—who would
not dedicate his compensation to the spiritual wants of his neighbors.

It was computed some years ago that the property of the Church in this
manner, if the union was terminated, would not be less than between
80,000,000_l._ and 90,000,000_l._, and since that period the amount
of private property dedicated to the purposes of the Church has very
largely increased. I therefore trust that when the occasion offers
for the country to speak out, it will speak out in an unmistakable
manner on this subject; and recognizing the inestimable services of the
Church, that it will call upon the government to maintain its union
with the State. Upon this subject there is one remark I would make.
Nothing is more surprising to me than the plea on which the present
outcry is made against the Church of England. I could not believe that
in the nineteenth century the charge against the Church of England
should be that churchmen, and especially the clergy, had educated the
people. If I were to fix upon one circumstance more than another which
redounded to the honor of churchmen, it is that they should fulfil this
noble office; and, next to being “the stewards of divine mysteries,” I
think the greatest distinction of the clergy is the admirable manner in
which they have devoted their lives and their fortunes to this greatest
of national objects.

Gentlemen, you are well acquainted in this city with this controversy.
It was in this city—I don’t know whether it was not in this hall—that
that remarkable meeting was held of the Nonconformists to effect
important alterations in the Education Act, and you are acquainted
with the discussion in Parliament which arose in consequence of that
meeting. Gentlemen, I have due and great respect for the Nonconformist
body. I acknowledge their services to their country, and though I
believe that the political reasons which mainly called them into
existence have entirely ceased, it is impossible not to treat with
consideration a body which has been eminent for its conscience, its
learning, and its patriotism; but I must express my mortification that,
from a feeling of envy or of pique, the Nonconformist body, rather than
assist the Church in their great enterprise, should absolutely have
become the partisans of a merely secular education. I believe myself,
gentlemen, that without the recognition of a superintending Providence
in the affairs of this world all national education will be disastrous,
and I feel confident that it is impossible to stop at that mere
recognition. Religious education is demanded by the nation generally
and by the instincts of human nature. I should like to see the Church
and the Nonconformists work together; but I trust, whatever may be the
result, the country will stand by the Church in its efforts to maintain
the religious education of the people. Gentlemen, I foresee yet trials
for the Church of England; but I am confident in its future. I am
confident in its future because I believe there is now a very general
feeling that to be national it must be comprehensive. I will not use
the word “broad,” because it is an epithet applied to a system with
which I have no sympathy. But I would wish churchmen, and especially
the clergy, always to remember that in our “Father’s home there are
many mansions,” and I believe that comprehensive spirit is perfectly
consistent with the maintenance of formularies and the belief in dogmas
without which I hold no practical religion can exist.

Gentlemen, I have now endeavored to express to you my general views
upon the most important subjects that can interest Englishmen. They
are subjects upon which, in my mind, a man should speak with frankness
and clearness to his countrymen, and although I do not come down here
to make a party speech, I am bound to say that the manner in which
those subjects are treated by the leading subject of this realm is
to me most unsatisfactory. Although the Prime-Minister of England is
always writing letters and making speeches, and particularly on these
topics, he seems to me ever to send forth an “uncertain sound.” If a
member of Parliament announces himself a Republican, Mr. Gladstone
takes the earliest opportunity of describing him as a “fellow-worker”
in public life. If an inconsiderate multitude calls for the abolition
or reform of the House of Lords, Mr. Gladstone says that it is no easy
task, and that he must think once or twice, or perhaps even thrice,
before he can undertake it. If your neighbor the member for Bradford,
Mr. Miall, brings forward a motion in the House of Commons for the
severance of Church and State, Mr. Gladstone assures Mr. Miall with the
utmost courtesy that he believes the opinion of the House of Commons
is against him, but that if Mr. Miall wishes to influence the House of
Commons he must address the people out of doors; whereupon Mr. Miall
immediately calls a public meeting, and alleges as its cause the advice
he has just received from the Prime-Minister.

But, gentlemen, after all, the test of political institutions is the
condition of the country whose fortunes they regulate; and I do not
mean to evade that test. You are the inhabitants of an island of no
colossal size; which, geographically speaking, was intended by nature
as the appendage of some continental empire—either of Gauls and Franks
on the other side of the Channel, or of Teutons and Scandinavians
beyond the German Sea. Such indeed, and for a long period, was your
early history. You were invaded; you were pillaged and you were
conquered; yet amid all these disgraces and vicissitudes there was
gradually formed that English race which has brought about a very
different state of affairs. Instead of being invaded, your land is
proverbially the only “inviolate land”—“the inviolate land of the sage
and free.” Instead of being plundered, you have attracted to your
shores all the capital of the world. Instead of being conquered,
your flag floats on many waters, and your standard waves in either
zone. It may be said that these achievements are due to the race
that inhabited the land, and not to its institutions. Gentlemen, in
political institutions are the embodied experiences of a race. You have
established a society of classes which give vigor and variety to life.
But no class possesses a single exclusive privilege, and all are equal
before the law. You possess a real aristocracy, open to all who desire
to enter it. You have not merely a middle class, but a hierarchy of
middle classes, in which every degree of wealth, refinement, industry,
energy, and enterprise is duly represented.

And now, gentlemen, what is the condition of the great body of the
people? In the first place, gentlemen, they have for centuries been in
the full enjoyment of that which no other country in Europe has ever
completely attained—complete rights of personal freedom. In the second
place, there has been a gradual, and therefore a wise, distribution
on a large scale of political rights. Speaking with reference to the
industries of this great part of the country, I can personally contrast
it with the condition of the working classes forty years ago. In that
period they have attained two results—the raising of their wages and
the diminution of their toil.[51] Increased means and increased leisure
are the two civilizers of man. That the working classes of Lancashire
and Yorkshire have proved not unworthy of these boons may be easily
maintained; but their progress and elevation have been during this
interval wonderfully aided and assisted by three causes, which are not
so distinctively attributable to their own energies. The first is the
revolution in locomotion, which has opened the world to the working
man, which has enlarged the horizon of his experience, increased his
knowledge of nature and of art, and added immensely to the salutary
recreation, amusement, and pleasure of his existence. The second
cause is the cheap postage, the moral benefits of which cannot be
exaggerated. And the third is that unshackled press which has furnished
him with endless sources of instruction, information, and amusement.

Gentlemen, if you would permit me, I would now make an observation
upon another class of the laboring population. This is not a civic
assembly, although we meet in a city. That was for convenience, but
the invitation which I received was to meet the county and all the
boroughs of Lancashire; and I wish to make a few observations upon the
condition of the agricultural laborer. That is a subject which now
greatly attracts public attention. And, in the first place, to prevent
any misconception, I beg to express my opinion that an agricultural
laborer has as much right to combine for the bettering of his condition
as a manufacturing laborer or a worker in metals. If the causes of his
combination are natural—that is to say, if they arise from his own
feelings and from the necessities of his own condition, the combination
will end in results mutually beneficial to employers and employed. If,
on the other hand, it is factitious and he is acted upon by extraneous
influences and extraneous ideas, the combination will produce, I fear,
much loss and misery both to employers and employed; and after a time
he will find himself in a similar, or in a worse, position.

Gentlemen, in my opinion, the farmers of England cannot, as a body,
afford to pay higher wages than they do, and those who will answer
me by saying that they must find their ability by the reduction of
rents are, I think, involving themselves with economic laws which
may prove too difficult for them to cope with. The profits of a
farmer are very moderate. The interest upon capital invested in land
is the smallest that any property furnishes. The farmer will have
his profits and the investor in land will have his interest, even
though they may be obtained at the cost of changing the mode of the
cultivation of the country. Gentlemen, I should deeply regret to see
the tillage of this country reduced, and a recurrence to pasture take
place. I should regret it principally on account of the agricultural
laborers themselves. Their new friends call them Hodge, and describe
them as a stolid race. I must say that, from my experience of them,
they are sufficiently shrewd and open to reason. I would say to them
with confidence, as the great Athenian said to the Spartan who rudely
assailed him: “Strike, but hear me.”

First, a change in the cultivation of the soil of this country would
be very injurious to the laboring class; and secondly, I am of opinion
that that class instead of being stationary has made, if not as much
progress as the manufacturing class, very considerable progress
during the last forty years. Many persons write and speak about the
agricultural laborer with not so perfect a knowledge of his condition
as is desirable. They treat him always as a human being who in every
part of the country finds himself in an identical condition. Now, on
the contrary, there is no class of laborers in which there is greater
variety of condition than that of the agricultural laborers. It changes
from north to south, from east to west, and from county to county. It
changes even in the same county, where there is an alteration of soil
and of configuration. The hind in Northumberland is in a very different
condition from the famous Dorsetshire laborer; the tiller of the soil
in Lincolnshire is different from his fellow-agriculturist in Sussex.
What the effect of manufactures is upon the agricultural districts in
their neighborhood it would be presumption in me to dwell upon; your
own experience must tell you whether the agricultural laborer in North
Lancashire, for example, has had no rise in wages and no diminution
in toil. Take the case of the Dorsetshire laborer—the whole of the
agricultural laborers on the southwestern coast of England for a very
long period worked only half the time of the laborers in other parts of
England, and received only half the wages. In the experience of many,
I dare say, who are here present, even thirty years ago a Dorsetshire
laborer never worked after three o’clock in the day; and why? Because
the whole of that part of England was demoralized by smuggling. No one
worked after three o’clock in the day, for a very good reason—because
he had to work at night. No farmer allowed his team to be employed
after three o’clock, because he reserved his horses to take his illicit
cargo at night and carry it rapidly into the interior. Therefore, as
the men were employed and remunerated otherwise, they got into a habit
of half work and half play so far as the land was concerned, and when
smuggling was abolished—and it has only been abolished for thirty
years,—these imperfect habits of labor continued, and do even now
continue to a great extent. That is the origin of the condition of the
agricultural laborer in the southwestern part of England.

But now, gentlemen, I want to test the condition of the agricultural
laborer generally; and I will take a part of England with which I
am familiar, and can speak as to the accuracy of the facts—I mean
the group described as the south-midland counties. The conditions of
labor there are the same, or pretty nearly the same, throughout. The
group may be described as a strictly agricultural community, and they
embrace a population of probably a million and a half. Now, I have
no hesitation in saying that the improvement in their lot during the
last forty years has been progressive and is remarkable. I attribute
it to three causes. In the first place, the rise in their money
wages is no less than fifteen per cent. The second great cause of
their improvement is the almost total disappearance of excessive and
exhausting toil, from the general introduction of machinery. I don’t
know whether I could get a couple of men who could, or, if they could,
would thresh a load of wheat in my neighborhood. The third great cause
which has improved their condition is the very general, not to say
universal, institution of allotment grounds. Now, gentlemen, when I
find that this has been the course of affairs in our very considerable
and strictly agricultural portion of the country, where there have
been no exceptional circumstances, like smuggling, to degrade and
demoralize the race, I cannot resist the conviction that the condition
of the agricultural laborers, instead of being stationary, as we are
constantly told by those not acquainted with them, has been one of
progressive improvement, and that in those counties—and they are
many—where the stimulating influence of a manufacturing neighborhood
acts upon the land, the general conclusion at which I arrive is that
the agricultural laborer has had his share in the advance of national
prosperity. Gentlemen, I am not here to maintain that there is
nothing to be done to increase the well-being of the working classes
of this country, generally speaking. There is not a single class in
the country which is not susceptible of improvement; and that makes
the life and animation of our society. But in all we do we must
remember, as my noble friend told them at Liverpool, that much depends
upon the working classes themselves; and what I know of the working
classes in Lancashire makes me sure that they will respond to this
appeal. Much also may be expected from that sympathy between classes
which is a distinctive feature of the present day; and, in the last
place, no inconsiderable results may be obtained by judicious and
prudent legislation. But, gentlemen, in attempting to legislate upon
social matters, the great object is to be practical—to have before
us some distinct aims and some distinct means by which they can be

Gentlemen, I think public attention as regards these matters ought to
be concentrated upon sanitary legislation. That is a wide subject,
and, if properly treated, comprises almost every consideration which
has a just claim upon legislative interference. Pure air, pure
water, the inspection of unhealthy habitations, the adulteration of
food,—these and many kindred matters may be legitimately dealt with
by the Legislature; and I am bound to say the Legislature is not idle
upon them; for we have at this time two important measures before
Parliament on the subject. One—by a late colleague of mine, Sir Charles
Adderley—is a large and comprehensive measure, founded upon a sure
basis, for it consolidates all existing public acts, and improves them.
A prejudice has been raised against that proposal, by stating that
it interferes with the private acts of the great towns. I take this
opportunity of contradicting that. The bill of Sir Charles Adderley
does not touch the acts of the great towns. It only allows them, if
they think fit, to avail themselves of its new provisions.

The other measure by the government is of a partial character. What
it comprises is good, so far as it goes, but it shrinks from that
bold consolidation of existing acts which I think one of the great
merits of Sir Charles Adderley’s bill, which permits us to become
acquainted with how much may be done in favor of sanitary improvement
by existing provisions. Gentlemen, I cannot impress upon you too
strongly my conviction of the importance of the Legislature and society
uniting together in favor of these important results. A great scholar
and a great wit, three hundred years ago, said that, in his opinion,
there was a great mistake in the Vulgate, which, as you all know,
is the Latin translation of the Holy Scriptures, and that, instead
of saying “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity”—_Vanitas vanitatum,
omnia vanitas_—the wise and witty king really said: “_Sanitas
sanitatum, omnia sanitas_.” Gentlemen, it is impossible to overrate
the importance of the subject. After all the first consideration of
a minister should be the health of the people. A land may be covered
with historic trophies, with museums of science and galleries of art,
with universities and with libraries; the people may be civilized and
ingenious; the country may be even famous in the annals and action of
the world, but, gentlemen, if the population every ten years decreases,
and the stature of the race every ten years diminishes, the history of
that country will soon be the history of the past.[52]

Gentlemen, I said I had not come here to make a party speech. I have
addressed you upon subjects of grave, and I will venture to believe
of general, interest; but to be here and altogether silent upon the
present state of public affairs would not be respectful to you, and,
perhaps, on the whole, would be thought incongruous. Gentlemen, I
cannot pretend that our position either at home or abroad is in my
opinion satisfactory. At home, at a period of immense prosperity, with
a people contented and naturally loyal, we find to our surprise the
most extravagant doctrines professed and the fundamental principles
of our most valuable institutions impugned, and that, too, by
persons of some authority. Gentlemen, this startling inconsistency
is accounted for, in my mind, by the circumstances under which the
present administration was formed. It is the first instance in my
knowledge of a British administration being avowedly formed on a
principle of violence.[53] It is unnecessary for me to remind you of
the circumstances which preceded the formation of that government.
You were the principal scene and theatre of the development of
statesmanship that then occurred. You witnessed the incubation of the
portentous birth. You remember when you were informed that the policy
to secure the prosperity of Ireland and the content of Irishmen was
a policy of sacrilege and confiscation. Gentlemen, when Ireland was
placed under the wise and able administration of Lord Abercorn, Ireland
was prosperous, and I may say content. But there happened at that time
a very peculiar conjuncture in politics. The civil war in America had
just ceased; and a band of military adventurers—Poles, Italians, and
many Irishmen—concocted in New York a conspiracy to invade Ireland,
with the belief that the whole country would rise to welcome them. How
that conspiracy was baffled—how those plots were confounded, I need
not now remind you. For that we were mainly indebted to the eminent
qualities of a great man who has just left us.[54] You remember how
the constituencies were appealed to to vote against the government
which had made so unfit an appointment as that of Lord Mayo to the
Viceroyalty of India. It was by his great qualities when Secretary
for Ireland, by his vigilance, his courage, his patience, and his
perseverance that this conspiracy was defeated. Never was a minister
better informed. He knew what was going on at New York just as well as
what was going on in the city of Dublin.

When the Fenian conspiracy had been entirely put down, it became
necessary to consider the policy which it was expedient to pursue in
Ireland; and it seemed to us at that time that what Ireland required
after all the excitement which it had experienced was a policy which
should largely develop its material resources. There were one or two
subjects of a different character, which, for the advantage of the
state, it would have been desirable to have settled, if that could have
been effected with a general concurrence of both the great parties in
that country. Had we remained in office, that would have been done. But
we were destined to quit it, and we quitted it without a murmur. The
policy of our successors was different. Their specific was to despoil
churches and plunder landlords, and what has been the result?[55]
Sedition rampant, treason thinly veiled, and whenever a vacancy occurs
in the representation a candidate is returned pledged to the disruption
of the realm. Her Majesty’s new ministers proceeded in their career
like a body of men under the influence of some delirious drug. Not
satiated with the spoliation and anarchy of Ireland, they began to
attack every institution and every interest, every class and calling in
the country.[56]

It is curious to observe their course. They took into hand the army.
What have they done? I will not comment on what they have done. I will
historically state it, and leave you to draw the inference. So long
as constitutional England has existed there has been a jealousy among
all classes against the existence of a standing army. As our empire
expanded, and the existence of a large body of disciplined troops
became a necessity, every precaution was taken to prevent the danger to
our liberties which a standing army involved.

It was a first principle not to concentrate in the island any
overwhelming number of troops, and a considerable portion was
distributed in the colonies. Care was taken that the troops generally
should be officered by a class of men deeply interested in the property
and the liberties of England. So extreme was the jealousy that the
relations between that once constitutional force, the militia, and the
sovereign were rigidly guarded, and it was carefully placed under
local influences. All this is changed. We have a standing army of large
amount, quartered and brigaded and encamped permanently in England, and
fed by a considerable and constantly increasing Reserve.

It will in due time be officered by a class of men eminently
scientific, but with no relations necessarily with society; while the
militia is withdrawn from all local influences, and placed under the
immediate command of the Secretary of War. Thus, in the nineteenth
century, we have a large standing army established in England, contrary
to all the traditions of the land, and that by a Liberal government,
and with the warm acclamations of the Liberal party.

Let us look what they have done with the Admiralty. You remember,
in this country especially, the denunciations of the profligate
expenditure of the Conservative government, and you have since had
an opportunity of comparing it with the gentler burden of Liberal
estimates. The navy was not merely an instance of profligate
expenditure, but of incompetent and inadequate management. A great
revolution was promised in its administration. A gentleman [Mr.
Childers], almost unknown to English politics, was strangely preferred
to one of the highest places in the councils of her Majesty. He set
to at his task with ruthless activity. The Consultative Council,
under which Nelson had gained all his victories, was dissolved. The
Secretaryship of the Admiralty, an office which exercised a complete
supervision over every division of that great department,—an office
which was to the Admiralty what the Secretary of State is to the
kingdom,—which, in the qualities which it required and the duties which
it fulfilled, was rightly a stepping-stone to the cabinet, as in the
instances of Lord Halifax, Lord Herbert, and many others—was reduced
to absolute insignificance. Even the office of Control, which of all
others required a position of independence, and on which the safety of
the navy mainly depended, was deprived of all its important attributes.
For two years the Opposition called the attention of Parliament to
these destructive changes, but Parliament and the nation were alike
insensible. Full of other business, they could not give a thought to
what they looked upon merely as captious criticism. It requires a great
disaster to command the attention of England; and when the “Captain”
was lost, and when they had the detail of the perilous voyage of the
“Megara,” then public indignation demanded a complete change in this
renovating administration of the navy.[57]

And what has occurred? It is only a few weeks since that in the House
of Commons I heard the naval statement made by a new First Lord
[Mr. Goschen], and it consisted only of the rescinding of all the
revolutionary changes of his predecessor, the mischief of every one of
which during the last two years has been pressed upon the attention of
Parliament and the country by that constitutional and necessary body,
the Opposition. Gentlemen, it will not do for me—considering the time I
have already occupied, and there are still some subjects of importance
that must be touched—to dwell upon any of the other similar topics,
of which there is a rich abundance. I doubt not there is in this hall
more than one farmer who has been alarmed by the suggestion that his
agricultural machinery should be taxed.[58]

I doubt not there is in this hall more than one publican who remembers
that last year an act of Parliament was introduced to denounce him as a
“sinner.” I doubt not there are in this hall a widow and an orphan who
remember the profligate proposition to plunder their lonely heritage.
But, gentlemen, as time advanced it was not difficult to perceive that
extravagance was being substituted for energy by the government. The
unnatural stimulus was subsiding. Their paroxysms ended in prostration.
Some took refuge in melancholy, and their eminent chief alternated
between a menace and a sigh. As I sat opposite the treasury bench
the ministers reminded me of one of those marine landscapes not very
unusual on the coast of South America. You behold a range of exhausted
volcanoes. Not a flame flickers on a single pallid crest. But the
situation is still dangerous. There are occasional earthquakes, and
ever and anon the dark rumbling of the sea.

But, gentlemen, there is one other topic on which I must touch. If the
management of our domestic affairs has been founded upon a principle
of violence, that certainly cannot be alleged against the management
of our external relations. I know the difficulty of addressing a body
of Englishmen on these topics. The very phrase “Foreign Affairs” makes
an Englishman convinced that I am about to treat of subjects with
which he has no concern. Unhappily the relations of England to the
rest of the world, which are “Foreign Affairs,” are the matters which
most influence his lot. Upon them depends the increase or reduction
of taxation. Upon them depends the enjoyment or the embarrassment of
his industry. And yet, though so momentous are the consequences of the
mismanagement of our foreign relations, no one thinks of them till the
mischief occurs and then it is found how the most vital consequences
have been occasioned by mere inadvertence.

I will illustrate this point by two anecdotes. Since I have been in
public life there has been for this country a great calamity and there
is a great danger, and both might have been avoided. The calamity was
the Crimean War. You know what were the consequences of the Crimean
War: A great addition to your debt, an enormous addition to your
taxation, a cost more precious than your treasure—the best blood of
England. Half a million of men, I believe, perished in that great
undertaking. Nor are the evil consequences of that war adequately
described by what I have said. All the disorders and disturbances
of Europe, those immense armaments that are an incubus on national
industry and the great obstacle to progressive civilization, may be
traced and justly attributed to the Crimean War. And yet the Crimean
War need never have occurred.

When Lord Derby acceded to office, against his own wishes, in 1852, the
Liberal party most unconstitutionally forced him to dissolve Parliament
at a certain time by stopping the supplies, or at least by limiting
the period for which they were voted. There was not a single reason to
justify that course, for Lord Derby had only accepted office, having
once declined it, on the renewed application of his sovereign. The
country, at the dissolution, increased the power of the Conservative
party, but did not give to Lord Derby a majority, and he had to retire
from power. There was not the slightest chance of a Crimean War when
we retired from office; but the Emperor of Russia, believing that the
successor of Lord Derby was no enemy to Russian aggression in the East,
commenced those proceedings, with the result of which you are familiar.
I speak of what I know, not of what I believe, but of what I have
evidence in my possession to prove—that the Crimean War never would
have happened if Lord Derby had remained in office.[59]

The great danger is the present state of our relations with the
United States. When I acceded to office, I did so, so far as regarded
the United States of America, with some advantage. During the whole
of the civil war in America both my noble friend near me and I had
maintained a strict and fair neutrality.[60] This was fully appreciated
by the government of the United States, and they expressed their wish
that with our aid the settlement of all differences between the two
governments should be accomplished. They sent here a plenipotentiary,
an honorable gentleman, very intelligent and possessing general
confidence. My noble friend near me, with great ability, negotiated
a treaty for the settlement of all these claims. He was the first
minister who proposed to refer them to arbitration, and the treaty
was signed by the American Government. It was signed, I think, on
November 10th, on the eve of the dissolution of Parliament. The borough
elections that first occurred proved what would be the fate of the
ministry, and the moment they were known in America the American
Government announced that Mr. Reverdy Johnson [the American Minister]
had mistaken his instructions, and they could not present the treaty
to the Senate for its sanction—the sanction of which there had been
previously no doubt.[61]

But the fact is that, as in the case of the Crimean War it was supposed
that our successors would be favorable to Russian aggression, so it
was supposed that by the accession to office of Mr. Gladstone and a
gentleman you know well, Mr. Bright, the American claims would be
considered in a very different spirit. How they have been considered
is a subject which, no doubt, occupies deeply the minds of the people
of Lancashire. Now, gentlemen, observe this—the question of the Black
Sea involved in the Crimean War, the question of the American claims
involved in our negotiations with Mr. Johnson, are the two questions
that have again turned up, and have been the two great questions that
have been under the management of his government.

How have they treated them? Prince Gortschakoff, thinking he saw an
opportunity, announced his determination to break from the Treaty of
Paris, and terminate all the conditions hostile to Russia which had
been the result of the Crimean War. What was the first movement on
the part of our government is at present a mystery. This we know,
that they selected the most rising diplomatist of the day [Mr. Odo
Russell, later Lord Ampthill], and sent him to Prince Bismarck with
a declaration that the policy of Russia, if persisted in, was war
with England. Now, gentlemen, there was not the slightest chance of
Russia going to war with England, and no necessity, as I shall always
maintain, of England going to war with Russia. I believe I am not
wrong in stating that the Russian Government were prepared to withdraw
from the position they had rashly taken; but suddenly her Majesty’s
Government, to use a technical phrase, threw over the plenipotentiary,
and, instead of threatening war, if the Treaty of Paris was violated,
they agreed to arrangements by which the violation of that treaty
should be sanctioned by England, and, in the form of a congress, they
showed themselves guaranteeing their own humiliation. That Mr. Odo
Russell made no mistake is quite obvious, because he has since been
selected to be her Majesty’s ambassador at the most important court of
Europe. Gentlemen, what will be the consequence of this extraordinary
weakness on the part of the British Government it is difficult to
foresee. Already we hear that Sebastopol is to be refortified, nor can
any man doubt that the entire command of the Black Sea will soon be in
the possession of Russia.[62] The time may not be distant when we may
hear of the Russian power in the Persian Gulf, and what effect that may
have upon the dominions of England and upon those possessions on the
productions of which you every year more and more depend, are questions
upon which it will be well for you on proper occasions to meditate.

I come now to that question which most deeply interests you at this
moment, and that is our relations with the United States. I approved
the government referring this question to arbitration. It was only
following the policy of Lord Stanley. My noble friend disapproved
the negotiations being carried on at Washington. I confess that I
would willingly have persuaded myself that this was not a mistake,
but reflection has convinced me that my noble friend was right. I
remember the successful negotiation of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty by
Sir Henry Bulwer. I flattered myself that treaties at Washington might
be successfully negotiated; but I agree with my noble friend that his
general view was far more sound than my own. But no one, when that
commission was sent forth, for a moment could anticipate the course
of their conduct under the strict injunctions of the government. We
believed that commission was sent to ascertain what points should be
submitted to arbitration, to be decided by the principles of the law of
nations. We had not the slightest idea that that commission was sent
with power and instructions to alter the law of nations itself.[63]
When that result was announced, we expressed our entire disapprobation;
and yet trusting to the representations of the government that matters
were concluded satisfactorily, we had to decide whether it were wise,
if the great result was obtained, to wrangle upon points, however
important, such as those to which I have referred.

Gentlemen, it appears that, though all parts of England were ready
to make those sacrifices, the two negotiating states—the government
of the United Kingdom and the government of the United States—placed
a different interpretation upon the treaty when the time had arrived
to put its provisions into practice. Gentlemen, in my mind, and in
the opinion of my noble friend near me, there was but one course to
take under the circumstances, painful as it might be, and that was
at once to appeal to the good feeling and good sense of the United
States, and, stating the difficulty, to invite confidential conference
whether it might not be removed.[64] But her Majesty’s Government
took a different course. On December 15th her Majesty’s Government
were aware of a contrary interpretation being placed on the Treaty of
Washington by the American Government. The Prime-Minister received a
copy of their counter case, and he confessed he had never read it. He
had a considerable number of copies sent to him to distribute among
his colleagues, and you remember, probably, the remarkable statement
in which he informed the House that he had distributed those copies to
everybody except those for whom they were intended.

Time went on, and the adverse interpretation of the American Government
oozed out, and was noticed by the press. Public alarm and public
indignation were excited; and it was only seven weeks afterward, on the
very eve of the meeting of Parliament—some twenty-four hours before
the meeting of Parliament—that her Majesty’s Government felt they were
absolutely obliged to make a “friendly communication” to the United
States that they had arrived at an interpretation of the treaty the
reverse of that of the American Government. What was the position of
the American Government. Seven weeks had passed without their having
received the slightest intimation from her Majesty’s ministers. They
had circulated their case throughout the world. They had translated
it into every European language. It had been sent to every court and
cabinet, to every sovereign and prime-minister. It was impossible for
the American Government to recede from their position, even if they
had believed it to be an erroneous one. And then, to aggravate the
difficulty, the Prime-Minister goes down to Parliament, declares that
there is only one interpretation to be placed on the treaty, and defies
and attacks everybody who believes it susceptible of another.

Was there ever such a combination of negligence and blundering? And
now, gentlemen, what is about to happen? All we know is that her
Majesty’s ministers are doing everything in their power to evade
the cognizance and criticism of Parliament. They have received an
answer to their “friendly communication”; of which, I believe, it
has been ascertained that the American Government adhere to their
interpretation; and yet they prolong the controversy. What is about to
occur it is unnecessary for one to predict; but if it be this—if after
a fruitless ratiocination worthy of a schoolman, we ultimately agree so
far to the interpretation of the American Government as to submit the
whole case to arbitration, with feeble reservation of a protest, if it
be decided against us, I venture to say that we shall be entering on a
course not more distinguished by its feebleness than by its impending
peril. There is before us every prospect of the same incompetence that
distinguished our negotiations respecting the independence of the Black
Sea; and I fear that there is every chance that this incompetence will
be sealed by our ultimately acknowledging these direct claims of the
United States, which, both as regards principle and practical results,
are fraught with the utmost danger to this country. Gentlemen, don’t
suppose, because I counsel firmness and decision at the right moment,
that I am of that school of statesmen who are favorable to a turbulent
and aggressive diplomacy. I have resisted it during a great part of my
life. I am not unaware that the relations of England to Europe have
undergone a vast change during the century that has just elapsed.
The relations of England to Europe are not the same as they were in
the days of Lord Chatham or Frederick the Great. The Queen of England
has become the sovereign of the most powerful of Oriental states. On
the other side of the globe there are now establishments belonging
to her, teeming with wealth and population, which will, in due time,
exercise their influence over the distribution of power. The old
establishments of this country, now the United States of America, throw
their lengthening shades over the Atlantic, which mix with European
waters. These are vast and novel elements in the distribution of power.
I acknowledge that the policy of England with respect to Europe should
be a policy of reserve, but proud reserve; and in answer to those
statesmen—those mistaken statesmen who have intimated the decay of
the power of England and the decline of its resources, I express here
my confident conviction that there never was a moment in our history
when the power of England was so great and her resources so vast and

And yet, gentlemen, it is not merely our fleets and armies, our
powerful artillery, our accumulated capital, and our unlimited credit
on which I so much depend, as upon that unbroken spirit of her people,
which I believe was never prouder of the imperial country to which they
belong. Gentlemen, it is to that spirit that I above all things trust.
I look upon the people of Lancashire as a fair representative of the
people of England. I think the manner in which they have invited me
here, locally a stranger, to receive the expression of their cordial
sympathy, and only because they recognize some effort on my part to
maintain the greatness of their country, is evidence of the spirit of
the land. I must express to you again my deep sense of the generous
manner in which you have welcomed me, and in which you have permitted
me to express to you my views upon public affairs. Proud of your
confidence, and encouraged by your sympathy, I now deliver to you, as
my last words, the cause of the Tory party, the English constitution,
and of the British empire.


Mr. Gladstone, the fourth son of the late Sir John Gladstone, a
prominent and prosperous merchant of Liverpool, was born in 1809.
He was educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford, where his
scholarship was at once so thorough and so comprehensive as to win
for him at his graduation in 1831 the great distinction of a double
first-class. Having spent nearly a year in a continental tour, he was
elected to the House of Commons in December, 1832, at the election
which immediately followed the passage of the great reform bill. In
political sympathies he ranked with the Tories, and followed with
little reserve the leadership of Sir Robert Peel. The great reputation
he had acquired at the university, his mercantile habits, his high
character, and his manifest abilities as a speaker, recommended
him at once to the favor of the Premier, who admitted him to the
ministry as Junior Lord of the Treasury, in December of 1834, and as
Under-Secretary for Colonial Affairs in February of the following
year. In 1841 Mr. Gladstone became Vice-President of the Board of
Trade and Master of the Mint, and in the same year was sworn in as a
member of the Privy Council. In the position now held it devolved upon
him to explain and defend the commercial policy of the government.
The revision of the tariff in 1842 was entrusted to his energy and
industry, as a part of this duty, and so admirably was the laborious
task executed, not only in its mastery of general principles, but in
its command of details, that the bill received the sanction of both
Houses with scarcely an alteration. Gladstone’s great abilities as a
financier were at once universally recognized; and, accordingly, his
appointment as President of the Board of Trade and his admission to the
cabinet in 1843 were generally approved.

In 1846, Sir Robert Peel, who up to this time had been regarded as
the most strenuous opponent of free trade, announced his intention of
bringing in a bill to modify the existing Corn Laws. The announcement
created great popular agitation. Gladstone determined to support
Peel; but holding his seat from Newark, the property of the Duke
of Newcastle, who sympathized strongly with the Opposition, he was
unwilling to appear to be in a false position, and accordingly he
resigned, and remained out of Parliament for about a year. This
voluntary withdrawal from the House is worthy of note, not only on
account of the honorable motives which prompted it, but also as the
only interruption of a parliamentary career of more than half a
century. His parliamentary abilities, however, were not long permitted
to be idle, for in 1847 he was returned as one of the members for the
University of Oxford.

Up to this time he had appeared to sympathize strongly with the
principles of the Tory party. His work on “The State in its Relations
with the Church,” published in 1838, had not only proved him to be,
even when still a young man, a deep and original thinker, but had also
shown that his sympathies were unmistakably with the Tories and the
High Church. Macaulay, in his elaborate and critical review of the
work, introduced Gladstone to his readers as “the rising hope of those
stern and unbending Tories who follow, reluctantly and mutinously,
a leader whose experience and eloquence are indispensable to them,
but whose cautious temper and moderate opinions they abhor.” But if
the “stern and unbending Tories” had any such “rising hope” in Mr.
Gladstone, they were destined to be disappointed. In the four years
that followed 1847 the member for Oxford found himself frequently
opposed to his former friends; and in 1851 he formally separated
himself from the great body of the Conservative party. He was
re-elected for Oxford, though as the result of a very bitter contest;
and on the defeat of the Derby-Disraeli ministry and the succession
of the “Coalition” under Lord Aberdeen in 1852, he was appointed to
the Chancellorship of the Exchequer, where his thorough knowledge of
finance was of the greatest assistance to the government during the
Crimean War.

In the fifteen years that followed, Mr. Gladstone came to be more and
more generally recognized, not only as one of the ablest, but also as
one of the most influential members of the House of Commons. Meanwhile
his reputation was considerably advanced by the numerous literary
productions which came from his pen. On the death of Lord Palmerston
in 1865, he became leader of the House of Commons, retaining the
Chancellorship of the Exchequer in the second administration of Earl
Russell. It was at this time that Gladstone’s career as the leader of
the great reformatory movement may be said to have begun.

Early in the session of 1866, he brought forward a reform bill designed
to extend the franchise substantially on the line of advance that had
been adopted in 1832. On the 18th of June, the measure was defeated
by a majority of eleven votes, and Mr. Gladstone and his colleagues at
once resigned. During the next administration, the ranks of the Liberal
party, however, were divided, and therefore it was found impossible to
defeat the Derby-Disraeli reform bill, which Mr. Gladstone strenuously
opposed. The Conservatives, however, were unable to hold their
position, and when the Ministry resigned, in December of 1868, Mr.
Gladstone succeeded Disraeli as Prime-Minister.

And now began that remarkable series of legislative enactments for
which Mr. Gladstone’s career will be remembered. In 1869 was passed
the Irish Church Disestablishment Act; in 1870, the Irish Land Act; in
the same year, the Elementary Education Act; in 1871, the Abolition of
Purchase in the Army Act; in 1872, the Ballot Act; and in 1873, the
Supreme Court of Judicature Act. In 1873 the country seemed disposed
to call a halt. The government was defeated on the Irish University
Education Bill; and, in consequence, Mr. Gladstone tendered his
resignation. The Queen sent for Mr. Disraeli, but as the defeat had
been occasioned by a temporary union of the Roman Catholics with the
Conservatives, Mr. Disraeli saw no hope of commanding a majority, and
therefore declined to attempt to form a ministry. Mr. Gladstone was
recalled, and reluctantly consented to reconstruct a cabinet. He was
unwilling, however, to go forward in any uncertainty, and accordingly,
in January of 1874, he surprised the country by announcing an immediate
dissolution of Parliament.

The result of the ensuing canvass and election was most disastrous to
the Liberal party. The returns, completed in February, showed that
351 out and out Conservatives had been elected; while the Liberals,
including the Home Rulers, who, in fact, declined to identify
themselves with the party, numbered only 302. Mr. Gladstone, of course,
resigned at once, and Mr. Disraeli, for a second time, was appointed
Prime-Minister in his place.

During the next two years, Mr. Gladstone, though retaining his seat,
was not often seen in the House of Commons. In January of 1875 he
announced his determination to retire from the leadership of the
Liberal party, and the Marquis of Hartington was accordingly chosen
to act in his place. For a time he gave himself up to authorship, and
published a considerable number of controversial articles on Church
and State. As Disraeli’s ministry, however, became involved in the
entanglement of Eastern affairs, Gladstone was more and more drawn
back into something like his old parliamentary activity. In 1879 was
invited to become the candidate for Mid-Lothian, and the canvass that
followed was perhaps the most remarkable exhibition of energy and
oratorical skill that the history of British eloquence has to show.
He set out from Liverpool on November 24th, and from that date, with
the exception of two days’ rest, till his return on December 9th, his
journey was a long succession of enthusiastic receptions and unwearied
speech-making in condemnation of the Conservative government. The
addresses delivered in the course of this canvass were printed in
all the leading papers of the kingdom, and were subsequently brought
together in a volume. As a whole, they form what is probably the most
remarkable series of political criticisms ever addressed by one man to
the people of his country. The result was not only the election of Mr.
Gladstone, but also, when in the following spring a general election
took place, the triumphant return of the Liberal party to power. While
the Conservatives had only 243 seats, the Liberals had 349, and the
Home Rulers, 60 in number, were quite likely, in all general measures,
to ally themselves with their old friends.

As Mr. Gladstone had for some years not been at the nominal head of
the Liberal party, it was not certain what policy would be pursued.
The Marquis of Hartington was the leader in the Lower House, and Earl
Granville in the Upper. Either of these might have been called to the
head of the ministry by constitutional usage; but the natural primacy
of Mr. Gladstone was so universally acknowledged that the Queen decided
to hold a consultation with the chiefs of the party. The conference
resulted in recommending the Queen to entrust the forming of a cabinet
to Mr. Gladstone; and accordingly the great leader entered upon the
work of Prime-Minister for a second time in April, 1880. It is a proof
of his extraordinary vigor that at the age of seventy-one he should
choose to superadd to the duties of First Lord of the Treasury, those
of Chancellor of the Exchequer, a position which he continued to hold
till, in 1883, the multiplicity of his duties led him to turn it over
to Mr. Childers.

His second administration will probably be remembered for the
disturbances in Ireland, and the consequent Irish Land Act of 1881; the
Municipal Corporation Act of 1882; the difficulties in Egypt in 1883
and 1884; and the Extension of Suffrage Act, introduced in the spring
of 1884. His career as a whole may be considered as perhaps the most
remarkable illustration of a system which, whatever its faults, brings
the most eminent men into power, and gives them a wide field in which
to exert their continuous influence and power.



  The following speech was the third of the series delivered by Mr.
  Gladstone in the course of his Mid-Lothian canvass, extending from
  November 24th to December 9th. These assaults on the policy of Lord
  Beaconsfield had not a little to do with the triumph of the Liberals
  and the return of Gladstone to power in the following spring.


In addressing you to-day, as in addressing like audiences assembled
for a like purpose in other places of the county, I am warmed by the
enthusiastic welcome which you have been pleased in every quarter
and in every form to accord to me. I am, on the other hand, daunted
when I recollect, first of all, what large demands I have to make on
your patience; and secondly, how inadequate are my powers, and how
inadequate almost any amount of time you can grant me, to set forth
worthily the whole of the case which ought to be laid before you in
connection with the coming election.

To-day, gentlemen, as I know that many among you are interested in
the land, and as I feel that what is termed “agricultural distress”
is at the present moment a topic too serious to be omitted from
our consideration, I shall say some words upon the subject of that
agricultural distress, and particularly, because in connection with
it there have arisen in some quarters of the country proposals, which
have received a countenance far beyond their deserts, to reverse or to
compromise the work which it took us one whole generation to achieve,
and to revert to the mischievous, obstructive, and impoverishing system
of protection.[66] Gentlemen, I speak of agricultural distress as a
matter now undoubtedly serious. Let none of us withhold our sympathy
from the farmer, the cultivator of the soil, in the struggle he has
to undergo. His struggle is a struggle of competition with the United
States. But I do not fully explain the case when I say the United
States. It is not with the entire United States, it is with the Western
portion of these States—that portion remote from the seaboard; and I
wish in the first place, gentlemen, to state to you all a fact of
very great interest and importance, as it seems to me, relating to
and defining the point at which the competition of the Western States
of America is most severely felt. I have in my hand a letter received
recently from one well known, and honorably known, in Scotland—Mr. Lyon
Playfair, who has recently been a traveller in the United States, and
who, as you well know, is as well qualified as any man upon earth for
accurate and careful investigation.[67] The point, gentlemen, at which
the competition of the Western States of America is most severely felt
is in the Eastern States of America. Whatever be agricultural distress
in Scotland, whatever it be, where undoubtedly it is more felt, in
England, it is greater by much in the Eastern States of America. In the
States of New England the soil has been to some extent exhausted by
careless methods of agriculture, and these, gentlemen, are the greatest
of all the enemies with which the farmer has to contend.

But the foundation of the statement I make, that the Eastern States of
America are those that most feel the competition of the West, is to be
found in facts,—in this fact above all, that not only they are not
in America, as we are here, talking about the shortness of the annual
returns, and in some places having much said on the subject of rents,
and of temporary remission or of permanent reduction. That is not the
state of things; they have actually got to this point, that the capital
values of land, as tested by sales in the market, have undergone an
enormous diminution. Now I will tell you something that actually
happened, on the authority of my friend Mr. Playfair. I will tell you
something that has happened in one of the New England States,—not,
recollect, in a desert or a remote country,—in an old cultivated
country, and near one of the towns of these States, a town that has the
honorable name of Wellesley.

Mr. Playfair tells me this: Three weeks ago—that is to say, about
the first of this month, so you will see my information is tolerably
recent,—three weeks ago a friend of Mr. Playfair bought a farm near
Wellesley for $33 an acre, for £6 12_s._ an acre—agricultural land,
remember, in an old settled country. That is the present condition of
agricultural property in the old States of New England. I think by the
simple recital of that fact I have tolerably well established my case,
for you have not come in England, and you have not come in Scotland,
to the point at which agricultural land is to be had—not wild land,
but improved and old cultivated land,—is to be had for the price of £6
12_s._ an acre. He mentions that this is by no means a strange case, an
isolated case, that it fairly represented the average transactions that
have been going on; and he says that in that region the ordinary price
of agricultural land at the present time is from $20 to $50 an acre, or
from £4 to £10. In New York the soil is better, and the population is
greater; but even in the State of New York land ranges for agricultural
purposes from $50 to $100, that is to say, from £10 to £20 an acre.

I think those of you, gentlemen, who are farmers will perhaps derive
some comfort from perceiving that if the pressure here is heavy the
pressure elsewhere and the pressure nearer to the seat of this very
abundant production is greater and far greater still.

It is most interesting to consider, however, what this pressure is.
There has been developed in the astonishing progressive power of the
United States—there has been developed a faculty of producing corn for
the subsistence of man, with a rapidity and to an extent unknown in
the experience of mankind. There is nothing like it in history. Do not
let us conceal, gentlemen, from ourselves the fact; I shall not stand
the worse with any of you who are farmers if I at once avow that this
greater and comparatively immense abundance of the prime article of
subsistence for mankind is a great blessing vouchsafed by Providence
to mankind. In part I believe that the cheapness has been increased by
special causes. The lands from which the great abundance of American
wheat comes are very thinly peopled as yet. They will become more
thickly peopled, and as they become more thickly peopled a larger
proportion of their produce will be wanted for home consumption and
less of it will come to you, and at a higher price. Again, if we are
rightly informed, the price of American wheat has been unnaturally
reduced by the extraordinary depression, in recent times, of trade
in America, and especially of the mineral trades, upon which many
railroads are dependent in America, and with which these railroads
are connected in America in a degree and manner that in this country
we know but little of. With a revival of trade in America it is to
be expected that the freights of corn will increase, and all other
freights, because the employment of the railroads will be a great deal
more abundant, and they will not be content to carry corn at nominal
rates. In some respects, therefore, you may expect a mitigation of the
pressure, but in other respects it is likely to continue.

Nay, the Prime-Minister is reported as having not long ago said,—and he
ought to have the best information on this subject, nor am I going to
impeach in the main what he stated,—he gave it to be understood that
there was about to be a development of corn production in Canada which
would entirely throw into the shade this corn production in the United
States. Well, that certainly was very cold comfort, as far as the
British agriculturist is concerned, because he did not say—he could not
say—that the corn production of the United States was to fall off, but
there was to be added an enormous corn production from Manitoba,[68]
the great province which forms now a part of the Canada Dominion.
There is no doubt, I believe, that it is a correct expectation that
vast or very large quantities of corn will proceed from that province,
and therefore we have to look forward to a state of things in which,
for a considerable time to come, large quantities of wheat will be
forthcoming from America, probably larger quantities, and perhaps
frequently at lower prices than those at which the corn-producing and
corn-exporting districts of Europe have commonly been able to supply
us. Now that I believe to be, gentlemen, upon the whole, not an unfair
representation of the state of things.

How are you to meet that state of things? What are your fair claims? I
will tell you. In my opinion your fair claims are, in the main, two.
One is to be allowed to purchase every article that you require in the
cheapest market, and have no needless burden laid upon any thing that
comes to you and can assist you in the cultivation of your land. But
that claim has been conceded and fulfilled.

I do not know whether there is an object, an instrument, a tool of
any kind, an auxiliary of any kind, that you want for the business
of the farmer, which you do not buy at this moment in the cheapest
market. But beyond that, you want to be relieved from every unjust and
unnecessary legislative restraint. I say every unnecessary legislative
restraint, because taxation, gentlemen, is unfortunately a restraint
upon us all, but we cannot say that it is always unnecessary, and we
cannot say that it is always unjust. Yesterday I ventured to state—and
I will therefore not now return to the subject—a number of matters
connected with the state of legislation in which it appears to me to
be of vital importance, both to the agricultural interest and to the
entire community, that the occupiers and cultivators of the land of
this country should be relieved from restraints under the operation
of which they now suffer considerably. Beyond those two great heads,
gentlemen, what you have to look to, I believe, is your own energy,
your own energy of thought and action, and your care not to undertake
to pay rents greater than, in reasonable calculation, you think you can
afford. I am by no means sure, though I speak subject to the correction
of higher authority,—I am by no means sure that in Scotland within
the last fifteen or twenty years something of a speculative character
has not entered into rents, and particularly, perhaps, into the rents
of hill farms. I remember hearing of the augmentations which were
taking place, I believe, all over Scotland—I verified the fact in a
number of counties—about twelve or fourteen years ago, in the rents
of hill farms, which I confess impressed me with the idea that the
high prices that were then ruling, and ruling increasingly from year
to year, for meat and wool, were perhaps for once leading the wary and
shrewd Scottish agriculturist a little beyond the mark in the rents
he undertook to pay. But it is not this only which may press. It is,
more broadly, in a serious and manful struggle that you are engaged,
in which you will have to exert yourselves to the uttermost, in which
you will have a right to claim every thing that the legislature can do
for you; and I hope it may perhaps possibly be my privilege and honor
to assist in procuring for you some of those provisions of necessary
liberation from restraint; but beyond that, it is your own energies, of
thought and action, to which you will have to trust.

Now, gentlemen, having said thus much, my next duty is to warn you
against quack remedies, against delusive remedies, against the quack
remedies that there are plenty of people found to propose, not so
much in Scotland as in England; for, gentlemen, from Mid-Lothian at
present we are speaking to England as well as to Scotland. Let me give
a friendly warning from this northern quarter to the agriculturist of
England not to be deluded by those who call themselves his friends
in a degree of special and superior excellence, and who have been too
much given to delude him in other times; not to be deluded into hoping
relief from sources from which it can never come. Now, gentlemen, there
are three of these remedies. The first of them, gentlemen, I will not
call a quack remedy at all, but I will speak of it notwithstanding in
the tone of rational and dispassionate discussion. I am not now so much
upon the controversial portion of the land question—a field which,
Heaven knows, is wide enough—as I am upon matters of deep and universal
interest to us in our economic and social condition. There are some
gentlemen, and there are persons for whom I for one have very great
respect, who think that the difficulties of our agriculture may be got
over by a fundamental change in the land-holding system of this country.

I do not mean, now pray observe, a change as to the law of entail and
settlement, and all those restraints which, I hope, were tolerably well
disposed of yesterday at Dalkeith[69]; but I mean those who think that
if you can cut up the land, or a large part of it, into a multitude of
small properties, that of itself will solve the difficulty, and start
everybody on a career of prosperity.

Now, gentlemen, to a proposal of that kind, I, for one, am not going
to object upon the ground that it would be inconsistent with the
privileges of landed proprietors. In my opinion, if it is known to be
for the welfare of the community at large, the legislature is perfectly
entitled to buy out the landed proprietors. It is not intended probably
to confiscate the property of a landed proprietor more than the
property of any other man; but the state is perfectly entitled, if it
please, to buy out the landed proprietors as it may think fit, for
the purpose of dividing the property into small lots. I don’t wish to
recommend it, because I will show you the doubts that, to my mind, hang
about that proposal; but I admit that in principle no objection can
be taken. Those persons who possess large portions of the spaces of
the earth are not altogether in the same position as the possessors of
mere personalty; that personalty does not impose the same limitations
upon the action and industry of man, and upon the well-being of the
community, as does the possession of land; and, therefore, I freely own
that compulsory expropriation is a thing which for an adequate public
object is in itself admissible and so far sound in principle.

Now, gentlemen, this idea about small proprietors, however, is one
which very large bodies and parties in this country treat with the
utmost contempt; and they are accustomed to point to France, and say:
“Look at France.” In France you have got 5,000,000—I am not quite sure
whether it is 5,000,000 or even more; I do not wish to be beyond the
mark in any thing—you have 5,000,000 of small proprietors, and you do
not produce in France as many bushels of wheat per acre as you do in
England. Well, now I am going to point out to you a very remarkable
fact with regard to the condition of France. I will not say that
France produces—for I believe it does not produce—as many bushels of
wheat per acre as England does, but I should like to know whether
the wheat of France is produced mainly upon the small properties of
France. I believe that the wheat of France is produced mainly upon
the large properties of France, and I have not any doubt that the
large properties of England are, upon the whole, better cultivated,
and more capital is put into the land than in the large properties of
France. But it is fair that justice should be done to what is called
the peasant proprietary. Peasant proprietary is an excellent thing, if
it can be had, in many points of view. It interests an enormous number
of the people in the soil of the country, and in the stability of its
institutions and its laws. But now look at the effect that it has upon
the progressive value of the land—and I am going to give you a very few
figures which I will endeavor to relieve from all complication, lest I
should unnecessarily weary you. But what will you think when I tell you
that the agricultural value of France—the taxable income derived from
the land, and therefore the income of the proprietors of that land—has
advanced during our lifetime far more rapidly than that of England?
When I say England I believe the same thing is applicable to Scotland,
certainly to Ireland; but I shall take England for my test, because
the difference between England and Scotland, though great, does not
touch the principle; and, because it so happens that we have some means
of illustration from former times for England, which are not equally
applicable for all the three kingdoms.

Here is the state of the case. I will not go back any further than
1851. I might go back much further; it would only strengthen my case.
But for 1851 I have a statement made by French official authority of
the agricultural income of France, as well as the income of other real
property, viz., houses. In 1851 the agricultural income of France was
£76,000,000. It was greater in 1851 than the whole income from land
and houses together had been in 1821. This is a tolerable evidence of
progress; but I will not enter into the detail of it, because I have no
means of dividing the two—the house income and the land income—for the
earlier year, namely, 1821. In 1851 it was £76,000,000—the agricultural
income; and in 1864 it had risen from £76,000,000 to £106,000,000. That
is to say, in the space of thirteen years the increase of agricultural
values in France—annual values—was no less than forty per cent., or
three per cent. per annum. Now, I go to England. Wishing to be quite
accurate, I shall limit myself to that with respect to which we have
positive figures. In England the agricultural income in 1813–14 was
£37,000,000; in 1842 it was £42,000,000, and that year is the one I
will take as my starting-point. I have given you the years 1851 to 1864
in France. I could only give you those thirteen years with a certainty
that I was not misleading you, and I believe I have kept within the
mark. I believe I might have put my case more strongly for France.

In 1842, then, the agricultural income of England was £42,000,000; in
1876 it was £52,000,000—that is to say, while the agricultural income
of France increased forty per cent. in thirteen years, the agricultural
income of England increased twenty per cent. in thirty-four years.
The increase in France was three per cent. per annum; the increase in
England was about one half or three fifths per cent. per annum. Now,
gentlemen, I wish this justice to be done to a system where peasant
proprietary prevails. It is of great importance. And will you allow
me, you who are Scotch agriculturists, to assure you that I speak
to you not only with the respect which is due from a candidate to a
constituency, but with the deference which is due from a man knowing
very little of agricultural matters to those who know a great deal?
And there is one point at which the considerations that I have been
opening up, and this rapid increase of the value of the soil in France,
bear upon our discussions. Let me try to explain it. I believe myself
that the operation of economic laws is what in the main dictates the
distribution of landed property in this country. I doubt if those
economic laws will allow it to remain cut up into a multitude of small
properties like the small properties of France. As to small holdings,
I am one of those who attach the utmost value to them. I say that in
the Lothians—I say that in the portion of the country where almost
beyond any other large holdings prevail—in some parts of which large
holdings exclusively are to be found—I attach the utmost value to them.
But it is not on that point I am going to dwell, for we have no time
for what is unnecessary. What I do wish very respectfully to submit
to you, gentlemen, is this. When you see this vast increase of the
agricultural value of France, you know at once it is perfectly certain
that it has not been upon the large properties of France, which, if any
thing, are inferior in cultivation to the large properties of England.
It has been upon those very peasant-properties which some people are so
ready to decry. What do the peasant-properties mean? They mean what, in
France, is called the small cultivation—that is to say, cultivation of
superior articles, pursued upon a small scale—cultivation of flowers,
cultivation of trees and shrubs, cultivation of fruits of every kind,
and all that, in fact, which rises above the ordinary character of
farming produce, and rather approaches the produce of the gardener.

Gentlemen, I cannot help having this belief, that, among other means
of meeting the difficulties in which we may be placed, our destiny
is that a great deal more attention will have to be given than
heretofore by the agriculturalists of England, and perhaps even by
the agriculturalists of Scotland, to the production of fruits, of
vegetables, of flowers, of all that variety of objects which are sure
to find a market in a rich and wealthy country like this, but which
have hitherto been consigned almost exclusively to garden production.
You know that in Scotland, in Aberdeenshire—and I am told also in
Perthshire—a great example of this kind has been set in the cultivation
of strawberries—the cultivation of strawberries is carried on over
hundreds of acres at once. I am ashamed, gentlemen, to go further
into this matter, as if I was attempting to instruct you. I am sure
you will take my hint as a respectful hint—I am sure you will take
it as a friendly hint. I do not believe that the large properties of
this country, generally or universally, can or will be broken up into
small ones. I do not believe that the land of this country will be
owned, as a general rule, by those who cultivate it. I believe we shall
continue to have, as we have had, a class of landlords and a class
of cultivators, but I most earnestly desire to see—not only to see
the relations of those classes to one another harmonious and sound,
their interests never brought into conflict; but I desire to see both
flourishing and prospering, and the soil of my country producing, as
far as may be, under the influence of capital and skill, every variety
of product which may give an abundant livelihood to those who live upon
it. I say, therefore, gentlemen, and I say it with all respect, I hope
for a good deal from the small culture, the culture in use among the
small proprietors of France; but I do not look to a fundamental change
in the distribution of landed property in this country as a remedy for
agricultural distress.

But I go on to another remedy which is proposed, and I do it with a
great deal less of respect; nay, I now come to the region of what I
have presumed to call quack remedies. There is a quack remedy which
is called Reciprocity, and this quack remedy is under the special
protection of quack doctors, and among the quack doctors, I am sorry
to say, there appear to be some in very high station indeed; and if I
am rightly informed, no less a person than her Majesty’s Secretary
of State for Foreign Affairs has been moving about the country, and
indicating a very considerable expectation that possibly by reciprocity
agricultural distress will be relieved.[70] Let me test, gentlemen, the
efficacy of this quack remedy for your, in some places, agricultural
pressure, and generally distress—the pressure that has been upon you,
the struggle in which you are engaged. Pray watch its operation; pray
note what is said by the advocates of reciprocity. They always say,
We are the soundest and best free-traders. We recommend reciprocity
because it is the truly effectual method of bringing about free trade.
At present America imposes enormous duties upon our cotton goods and
upon our iron goods. Put reciprocity into play, and America will become
a free-trading country. Very well, gentlemen, how would that operate
upon you agriculturists in particular? Why, it would operate thus: If
your condition is to be regretted in certain particulars, and capable
of amendment, I beg you to cast an eye of sympathy upon the condition
of the American agriculturist. It has been very well said, and very
truly said,—though it is a smart antithesis,—the American agriculturist
has got to buy every thing that he wants at prices which are fixed in
Washington by the legislation of America, but he has got to sell every
thing that he produces at prices which are fixed in Liverpool—fixed
by the free competition of the world. How would you like that,
gentlemen—to have protective prices to pay for every thing that you
use—for your manures, for your animals, for your implements, for all
your farming stock, and at the same time to have to sell what you
produce in the free and open market of the world? But bring reciprocity
into play, and then, if reciprocity doctors are right, the Americans
will remove all their protective duties, and the American farmer,
instead of producing, as he does now, under the disadvantage, and
the heavy disadvantage, of having to pay protective prices for every
thing that constitutes his farming stock, will have all his tools, and
implements, and manures, and every thing else purchased in the free,
open market of the world at free-trade prices. So he will be able to
produce his corn to compete with you even cheaper than he does now. So
much for reciprocity considered as a cure for distress. I am not going
to consider it now in any other point of view.

But, gentlemen, there are another set of men who are bolder still,
and who are not for reciprocity; who are not content with that milder
form of quackery, but who recommend a reversion, pure and simple, to
what I may fairly call, I think, the exploded doctrine of protection.
And upon this, gentlemen, I think it necessary, if you will allow me,
to say to you a few words, because it is a very serious matter, and
it is all the more serious because her Majesty’s government—I do not
scruple to say—are coquetting with this subject in a way which is
not right. They are tampering with it; they are playing with it. A
protective speech was made in the House of Commons, in a debate last
year by Mr. Chaplin, on the part of what is called “the agricultural
interest.” Mr. Chaplin did not use the word protection, but what he
did say was this: he said he demanded that the malt tax should be
abolished, and the revenue supplied by a tax upon foreign barley or
some other foreign commodity. Well, if he has a measure of that kind
in his pocket, I don’t ask him to affix the word protection to it. I
can do that for myself. Not a word of rebuke, gentlemen, was uttered
to the doctrines of Mr. Chaplin. He was complimented upon the ability
of his speech and the well-chosen terms of his motion. Some of the
members of her Majesty’s government—the minor members of her Majesty’s
government—the humbler luminaries of that great constellation—have been
going about the country and telling their farming constituents that
they think the time has come when a return to protection might very
wisely be tried. But, gentlemen, what delusions have been practised
upon the unfortunate British farmer! When we go back for twenty years,
what is now called the Tory party was never heard of as the Tory
party. It was always heard of as the party of protection. As long as
the chiefs of the protective party were not in office, as long as they
were irresponsible, they recommended themselves to the good-will of
the farmer as protectionists, and said they would set him up and put
his interests on a firm foundation through protection. We brought them
into office in the year 1852. I gave with pleasure a vote that assisted
to bring them into office. I thought bringing them into office was
the only way of putting their professions to the test. They came into
office, and before they had been six months in office they had thrown
protection to the winds. And that is the way in which the British
farmer’s expectations are treated by those who claim for themselves in
the special sense the designation of his friends.

It is exactly the same with the malt tax. Gentlemen, what is done with
the malt tax? The malt tax is held by them to be a great grievance on
the British farmer. Whenever a Liberal government is in office, from
time to time they have a great muster from all parts of the country
to vote for the abolition of the malt tax. But when a Tory government
comes into office, the abolition of the malt tax is totally forgotten;
and we have now had six years of a Tory government without a word said,
as far as I can recollect,—and my friend in the chair could correct
me if I were wrong,—without a motion made, or a vote taken, on the
subject of the malt tax. The malt tax, great and important as it is,
is small in reference to protection. Gentlemen, it is a very serious
matter indeed if we ought to go back to protection, because how did we
come out of protection to free trade? We came out of it by a struggle
which in its crisis threatened to convulse the country, which occupied
Parliaments, upon which elections turned, which took up twenty years of
our legislative life, which broke up parties. In a word, it effected a
change so serious, that if, after the manner in which we effected that
change, it be right that we should go back upon our steps, then all I
can say is, that we must lose that which has ever been one of the most
honorable distinctions of British legislation in the general estimation
of the world,—that British legislation, if it moves slowly, always
moves in one direction—that we never go back upon our steps.

But are we such children that, after spending twenty years—as I may
say from 1840 to 1860—in breaking down the huge fabric of protection,
in 1879 we are seriously to set about building it up again? If that be
right, gentlemen, let it be done, but it will involve on our part a
most humiliating confession. In my opinion it is not right. Protection,
however, let me point out, now is asked for in two forms, and I am
next going to quote Lord Beaconsfield for the purpose of expressing my
concurrence with him.

Mostly, I am bound to say, as far as my knowledge goes, protection has
not been asked for by the agricultural interest, certainly not by the
farmers of Scotland.

It has been asked for by certain injudicious cliques and classes
of persons connected with other industries—connected with some
manufacturing industries. They want to have duties laid upon

But here Lord Beaconsfield said—and I cordially agree with him—that he
would be no party to the institution of a system in which protection
was to be given to manufactures, and to be refused to agriculture.

That one-sided protection I deem to be totally intolerable, and I
reject it even at the threshold as unworthy of a word of examination or

But let us go on to two-sided protection, and see whether that is
any better—that is to say, protection in the shape of duties on
manufactures, and protection in the shape of duties upon corn, duties
upon meat, duties upon butter and cheese and eggs, and every thing that
can be produced from the land. Now, gentlemen, in order to see whether
we can here find a remedy for our difficulties, I prefer to speculation
and mere abstract argument the method of reverting to experience.
Experience will give us very distinct lessons upon this matter. We
have the power, gentlemen, of going back to the time when protection
was in full and unchecked force, and of examining the effect which it
produced upon the wealth of the country. How, will you say, do I mean
to test that wealth? I mean to test that wealth by the exports of the
country, and I will tell you why, because your prosperity depends upon
the wealth of your customers—that is to say, upon their capacity to
buy what you produce. And who are your customers? Your customers are
the industrial population of the country, who produce what we export
and send all over the world. Consequently, when exports increase, your
customers are doing a large business, are growing wealthy, are putting
money in their pockets, and are able to take that money out of their
pockets in order to fill their stomachs with what you produce. When, on
the contrary, exports do not increase, your customers are poor, your
prices go down, as you have felt within the last few years, in the
price of meat, for example, and in other things, and your condition
is proportionally depressed. Now, gentlemen, down to the year 1842 no
profane hand had been laid upon the august fabric of protection. For
recollect that the farmers’ friends always told us that it was a very
august fabric, and that if you pulled it down it would involve the ruin
of the country. That, you remember, was the commonplace of every Tory
speech delivered from a country hustings to a farming constituency.
But before 1842 another agency had come into force, which gave new
life in a very considerable degree to the industry of the country,
and that was the agency of railways, of improved communication, which
shortened distance and cheapened transit, and effected in that way an
enormous economical gain and addition to the wealth of the country.
Therefore, in order to see what we owe to our friend protection, I
won’t allow that friend to take credit for what was done by railways
in improving the wealth of the country. I will go to the time when I
may say there were virtually no railways—that is the time before 1830.
Now, gentlemen, here are the official facts which I shall lay before
you in the simplest form, and, remember, using round numbers. I do
that because, although round numbers cannot be absolutely accurate,
they are easy for the memory to take in, and they involve no material
error, no falsification of the case. In the year 1800, gentlemen,
the exports of British produce were thirty-nine and a half millions
sterling in value. The population at that time,—no, I won’t speak of
the exact figure of the population, because I have not got it for
the three kingdoms.[71] In the years 1826 to 1830,—that is, after a
medium period of eight-and-twenty years,—the average of our exports for
those five years, which had been thirty-nine and a half millions in
1800, was thirty-seven millions. It is fair to admit that in 1800 the
currency was somewhat less sound, and therefore I am quite willing to
admit that the thirty-seven millions probably meant as much in value
as the thirty-nine and a half millions; but substantially, gentlemen,
the trade of the country was stationary, practically stationary, under
protection. The condition of the people grew, if possible, rather worse
than better. The wealth of the country was nearly stationary. But now I
show you what protection produced; that it made no addition, it gave no
onward movement to the profits of those who are your customers. But on
these profits you depend; because, under all circumstances, gentlemen,
this I think, nobody will dispute,—a considerable portion of what the
Englishman or the Scotchman produces will, some way or other, find its
way down his throat.

What has been the case, gentlemen, since we cast off the superstition
of protection, since we discarded the imposture of protection? I will
tell you what happened between 1830, when there were no railways,
and 1842, when no change, no important change, had been made as to
protection, but when the railway system was in operation, hardly in
Scotland, but in England to a very great extent, to a very considerable
extent upon the main lines of communication. The exports which in 1830
had been somewhere about £37,000,000, between 1840 and 1842 showed
an average amount of £50,000,000. That seems due, gentlemen, to the
agency of railways; and I wish you to bear in mind the increasing
benefit now derived from that agency, in order that I may not claim
any undue credit for freedom of trade. From 1842, gentlemen, onward,
the successive stages of free trade began; in 1842, in 1845, in 1846,
in 1853, and again in 1860, the large measures were carried which have
completely reformed your customs tariff, and reduced it from a taxation
of twelve hundred articles to a taxation of, I think, less than twelve.

Now, under the system of protection, the export trade of the country,
the wealth and the power of the manufacturing and producing classes
to purchase your agricultural products, did not increase at all. In
the time when railways began to be in operation, but before free
trade, the exports of the country increased, as I have shown you, by
£13,000,000 in somewhere about thirteen years—that is to say, taking it
roughly, at the rate of £1,000,000 a year.

But since 1842, and down to the present time, we have had, along with
railways, always increasing their benefits,—we have had the successive
adoption of free-trade measures; and what has been the state of the
export business of the country? It has risen in this degree, that
that which from 1840 to 1842 averaged £50,000,000, from 1873 to
1878 averaged £218,000,000. Instead of increasing, as it had done
between 1830 and 1842, when railways only were at work, at the rate
of £1,000,000 a year—instead of remaining stagnant as it did when the
country was under protection pure and simple, with no augmentation of
the export trade to enlarge the means of those who buy your products,
the total growth in a period of thirty-five years was no less than
£168,000,000, or, taking it roughly, a growth in the export trade of
the country to the extent of between £4,000,000 and £5,000,000 a year.
But, gentlemen, you know the fact. You know very well, that while
restriction was in force, you did not get the prices that you have
been getting for the last twenty years. The price of wheat has been
much the same as it had been before. The price of oats is a better
price than was to be had on the average of protective times. But the
price, with the exception of wheat, of almost every agricultural
commodity, the price of wool, the price of meat, the price of cheese,
the price of every thing that the soil produces, has been largely
increased in a market free and open to the world; because, while the
artificial advantage which you got through protection, as it was
supposed to be an advantage, was removed, you were brought into that
free and open market, and the energy of free trade so enlarged the
buying capacity of your customers, that they were willing and able
to give you, and did give you, a great deal more for your meat, your
wool, and your products in general, than you would ever have got under
the system of protection. Gentlemen, if that be true—and it cannot, I
believe, be impeached or impugned—if that be true, I don’t think I need
further discuss the matter, especially when so many other matters have
to be discussed.

I will therefore ask you again to cross the seas with me. I see that
the time is flying onward, and, gentlemen, it is very hard upon you
to be so much vexed upon the subject of policy abroad. You think
generally, and I think, that your domestic affairs are quite enough to
call for all your attention. There was a saying of an ancient Greek
orator, who, unfortunately, very much undervalued what we generally
call the better portion of the community—namely, women; he made a very
disrespectful observation, which I am going to quote, not for the
purpose of concurring with it, but for the purpose of an illustration.

Pericles, the great Athenian statesman, said with regard to women,
their greatest merit was to be never heard of.

Now, what Pericles untruly said of women, I am very much disposed to
say of foreign affairs—their great merit would be to be never heard
of. Unfortunately, instead of being never heard of, they are always
heard of, and you hear almost of nothing else; and I can’t promise
you, gentlemen, that you will be relieved from this everlasting din,
because the consequences of an unwise meddling with foreign affairs are
consequences that will for some time necessarily continue to trouble
you, and that will find their way to your pockets in the shape of
increased taxation.

Gentlemen, with that apology I ask you again to go with me beyond the
seas. And as I wish to do full justice, I will tell you what I think
to be the right principles of foreign policy; and then, as far as your
patience and my strength will permit, I will, at any rate for a short
time, illustrate those right principles by some of the departures from
them that have taken place of late years. I first give you, gentlemen,
what I think the right principles of foreign policy.

The first thing is to foster the strength of the empire by just
legislation and economy at home, thereby producing two of the great
elements of national power—namely, wealth, which is a physical element,
and union and contentment, which are moral elements,—and to reserve the
strength of the empire, to reserve the expenditure of that strength,
for great and worthy occasions abroad. Here is my first principle of
foreign policy: good government at home.

My second principle of foreign policy is this: that its aim ought to
be to preserve to the nations of the world—and especially, were it but
for shame, when we recollect the sacred name we bear as Christians,
especially to the Christian nations of the world—the blessings of
peace. That is my second principle.

My third principle is this: Even, gentlemen, when you do a good
thing, you may do it in so bad a way that you may entirely spoil the
beneficial effect; and if we were to make ourselves the apostles of
peace in the sense of conveying to the minds of other nations that we
thought ourselves more entitled to an opinion on that subject than they
are, or to deny their rights—well, very likely we should destroy the
whole value of our doctrines. In my opinion the third sound principle
is this: to strive to cultivate and maintain, aye, to the very
uttermost, what is called the concert of Europe; to keep the powers
of Europe in union together. And why? Because by keeping all in union
together you neutralize, and fetter, and bind up the selfish aims of
each. I am not here to flatter either England or any of them. They have
selfish aims, as, unfortunately, we in late years have too sadly shown
that we too have had selfish aims; but their common action is fatal to
selfish aims. Common action means common objects; and the only objects
for which you can unite together the powers of Europe are objects
connected with the common good of them all. That, gentlemen, is my
third principle of foreign policy.

My fourth principle is: that you should avoid needless and entangling
engagements. You may boast about them, you may brag about them, you
may say you are procuring consideration for the country. You may say
that an Englishman can now hold up his head among the nations. You
may say that he is now not in the hands of a Liberal ministry, who
thought of nothing but pounds, shillings, and pence. But what does all
this come to, gentlemen? It comes to this, that you are increasing
your engagements without increasing your strength; and if you increase
engagements without increasing strength, you diminish strength, you
abolish strength; you really reduce the empire and do not increase it.
You render it less capable of performing its duties; you render it an
inheritance less precious to hand on to future generations.

My fifth principle is this, gentlemen: to acknowledge the equal rights
of all nations. You may sympathize with one nation more than another.
Nay, you must sympathize in certain circumstances with one nation more
than another. You sympathize most with those nations, as a rule, with
which you have the closest connection in language, in blood, and in
religion, or whose circumstances at the time seem to give the strongest
claim to sympathy. But in point of right all are equal, and you have
no right to set up a system under which one of them is to be placed
under moral suspicion or espionage, or to be made the constant subject
of invective. If you do that, but especially if you claim for yourself
a superiority, a pharisaical superiority over the whole of them, then
I say you may talk about your patriotism if you please, but you are
a misjudging friend of your country, and in undermining the basis of
the esteem and respect of other people for your country you are in
reality inflicting the severest injury upon it. I have now given you,
gentlemen, five principles of foreign policy. Let me give you a sixth,
and then I have done.

And that sixth is: that in my opinion foreign policy, subject to all
the limitations that I have described, the foreign policy of England
should always be inspired by the love of freedom. There should be a
sympathy with freedom, a desire to give it scope, founded not upon
visionary ideas, but upon the long experience of many generations
within the shores of this happy isle, that in freedom you lay the
firmest foundations both of loyalty and order; the firmest foundations
for the development of individual character, and the best provision for
the happiness of the nation at large. In the foreign policy of this
country the name of Canning ever will be honored. The name of Russell
ever will be honored. The name of Palmerston ever will be honored by
those who recollect the erection of the kingdom of Belgium, and the
union of the disjoined provinces of Italy. It is that sympathy, not a
sympathy with disorder, but, on the contrary, founded upon the deepest
and most profound love of order,—it is that sympathy which in my
opinion ought to be the very atmosphere in which a foreign secretary of
England ought to live and to move.

Gentlemen, it is impossible for me to do more to-day than to attempt
very slight illustrations of those principles. But in uttering those
principles, I have put myself in a position in which no one is entitled
to tell me—you will hear me out in what I say—that I simply object
to the acts of others, and lay down no rules of action myself, I am
not only prepared to show what are the rules of action which in my
judgment are the right rules, but I am prepared to apply them, nor
will I shrink from their application. I will take, gentlemen, the name
which, most of all others, is associated with suspicion, and with
alarm, and with hatred in the minds of many Englishmen. I will take
the name of Russia, and at once I will tell you what I think about
Russia, and how I am prepared as a member of Parliament to proceed in
any thing that respects Russia. You have heard me, gentlemen, denounced
sometimes, I believe, as a Russian spy, sometimes as a Russian agent,
sometimes as perhaps a Russian fool, which is not so bad, but still
not very desirable. But, gentlemen, when you come to evidence, the
worst thing that I have ever seen quoted out of any speech or writing
of mine about Russia is that I did one day say, or I believe I wrote,
these terrible words: I recommended Englishmen to imitate Russia in her
good deeds. Was not that a terrible proposition? I cannot recede from
it. I think we ought to imitate Russia in her good deeds, and if the
good deeds be few, I am sorry for it, but I am not the less disposed on
that account to imitate them when they come. I will now tell you what I
think just about Russia.

I make it one of my charges against the foreign policy of her
Majesty’s government, that, while they have completely estranged from
this country—let us not conceal the fact—the feelings of a nation
of eighty millions, for that is the number of the subjects of the
Russian empire,—while they have contrived completely to estrange the
feelings of that nation, they have aggrandized the power of Russia.
They have aggrandized the power of Russia in two ways, which I will
state with perfect distinctness. They have augmented her territory.
Before the European powers met at Berlin, Lord Salisbury met with
Count Schouvaloff, and Lord Salisbury agreed that, unless he could
convince Russia by his arguments in the open Congress of Berlin, he
would support the restoration to the despotic power of Russia of that
country north of the Danube which at the moment constituted a portion
of the free state of Roumania. Why, gentlemen, what had been done by
the Liberal government, which forsooth, attended to nothing but pounds,
shillings, and pence? The Liberal government had driven Russia back
from the Danube. Russia, which was a Danubian power before the Crimean
War, lost this position on the Danube by the Crimean War; and the Tory
government, which has been incensing and inflaming you against Russia,
yet nevertheless, by binding itself beforehand to support, when the
judgment was taken, the restoration of that country to Russia,[72] has
aggrandized the power of Russia.

It further aggrandized the power of Russia in Armenia; but I would not
dwell upon that matter if it were not for a very strange circumstance.
You know that an Armenian province was given to Russia after the war,
but about that I own to you I have very much less feeling of objection.
I have objected from the first, vehemently, and in every form, to the
granting of territory on the Danube to Russia, and carrying back the
population of a certain country from a free state to a despotic state;
but with regard to the transfer of a certain portion of the Armenian
people from the government of Turkey to the government of Russia. I
must own that I contemplate that transfer with much greater equanimity.
I have no fear myself of the territorial extensions of Russia, in Asia,
no fear of them whatever. I think the fears are no better than old
women’s fears. And I don’t wish to encourage her aggressive tendencies
in Asia, or anywhere else. But I admit it may be, and probably is,
the case that there is some benefit attending upon the transfer of a
portion of Armenia from Turkey to Russia.

But here is a very strange fact. You know that that portion of Armenia
includes the port of Batoum. Lord Salisbury has lately stated to the
country that, by the Treaty of Berlin, the port of Batoum is to be
only a commercial port. If the Treaty of Berlin stated that it was
to be only a commercial port, which, of course, could not be made an
arsenal, that fact would be very important. But happily, gentlemen,
although treaties are concealed from us nowadays as long and as often
as is possible, the Treaty of Berlin is an open instrument. We can
consult it for ourselves; and when we consult the Treaty of Berlin,
we find it states that Batoum shall be essentially a commercial port,
but not that it shall be only a commercial port. Why, gentlemen, Leith
is essentially a commercial port, but there is nothing to prevent
the people of this country, if in their wisdom or their folly they
should think fit, from constituting Leith as a great naval arsenal
or fortification; and there is nothing to prevent the Emperor of
Russia, while leaving to Batoum a character that shall be essentially
commercial, from joining with that another character that is not in
the slightest degree excluded by the treaty, and making it as much
as he pleases a port of military defence. Therefore, I challenge the
assertion of Lord Salisbury; and as Lord Salisbury is fond of writing
letters to the _Times_ to bring the Duke of Argyll to book, he perhaps
will be kind enough to write another letter to the _Times_, and tell in
what clause of the Treaty of Berlin he finds it written that the port
of Batoum shall be only a commercial port. For the present, I simply
leave it on record that he has misrepresented the Treaty of Berlin.

With respect to Russia, I take two views of the position of Russia. The
position of Russia in Central Asia I believe to be one that has, in the
main, been forced upon her against her will. She has been compelled—and
this is the impartial opinion of the world,—she has been compelled to
extend her frontier southward in Central Asia by causes in some degree
analogous to, but certainly more stringent and imperative than, the
causes which have commonly led us to extend, in a far more important
manner, our frontier in India; and I think it, gentlemen, much to the
credit of the late government, much to the honor of Lord Clarendon
and Lord Granville, that, when we were in office, we made a covenant
with Russia, in which Russia bound herself to exercise no influence or
interference whatever in Afghanistan, we, on the other hand, making
known our desire that Afghanistan should continue free and independent.
Both the powers acted with uniform strictness and fidelity upon this
engagement until the day when we were removed from office. But Russia,
gentlemen, has another position—her position in respect to Turkey; and
here it is that I have complained of the government for aggrandizing
the power of Russia; it is on this point that I most complain.

The policy of her Majesty’s government was a policy of repelling
and repudiating the Slavonic populations of Turkey-in-Europe, and
of declining to make England the advocate for their interests. Nay,
more, she became in their view the advocate of the interests opposed
to theirs. Indeed, she was rather the decided advocate of Turkey; and
now Turkey is full of loud complaints—and complaints, I must say, not
unjust—that we allured her on to her ruin; that we gave the Turks a
right to believe that we should support them; that our ambassadors,
Sir Henry Elliot and Sir Austin Layard, both of them said we had most
vital interests in maintaining Turkey as it was, and consequently
the Turks thought if we had vital interests, we should certainly
defend them; and they were thereby lured on into that ruinous, cruel,
and destructive war with Russia. But by our conduct to the Slavonic
populations we alienated those populations from us. We made our name
odious among them. They had every disposition to sympathize with us,
every disposition to confide in us. They are, as a people, desirous
of freedom, desirous of self-government, with no aggressive views,
but hating the idea of being absorbed in a huge despotic empire like
Russia. But when they found that we, and the other powers of Europe
under our unfortunate guidance, declined to become in any manner their
champions in defence of the rights of life, of property, and of female
honor,—when they found that there was no call which could find its way
to the heart of England through its government, or to the hearts of
other powers, and that Russia alone was disposed to fight for them,
why naturally they said, Russia is our friend. We have done every
thing, gentlemen, in our power to drive these populations into the
arms of Russia. If Russia has aggressive dispositions in the direction
of Turkey—and I think it probable that she may have them,—it is we
who have laid the ground upon which Russia may make her march to the
south,—we who have taught the Bulgarians, the Servians, the Roumanians,
the Montenegrins, that there is one power in Europe, and only one,
which is ready to support in act and by the sword her professions of
sympathy with the oppressed populations of Turkey.[73] That power is
Russia, and how can you blame these people if, in such circumstances,
they are disposed to say, Russia is our friend? But why did we make
them say it? Simply because of the policy of the government, not
because of the wishes of the people of this country. Gentlemen, this is
the most dangerous form of aggrandizing Russia. If Russia is aggressive
anywhere, if Russia is formidable anywhere, it is by movements toward
the south, it is by schemes for acquiring command of the Straits or
of Constantinople; and there is no way by which you can possibly so
much assist her in giving reality to these designs, as by inducing and
disposing the populations of these provinces, who are now in virtual
possession of them, to look upon Russia as their champion and their
friend, to look upon England as their disguised, perhaps, but yet real
and effective enemy.

Why, now, gentlemen, I have said that I think it not unreasonable
either to believe, or at any rate to admit it to be possible, that
Russia has aggressive designs in the east of Europe. I do not mean
immediate aggressive designs. I do not believe that the Emperor of
Russia is a man of aggressive schemes or policy. It is that, looking
to that question in the long run, looking at what has happened, and
what may happen in ten or twenty years, in one generation, in two
generations, it is highly probable that in some circumstances Russia
may develop aggressive tendencies toward the south.

Perhaps you will say I am here guilty of the same injustice to Russia
that I have been deprecating, because I say that we ought not to
adopt the method of condemning anybody without cause, and setting
up exceptional principles in proscription of a particular nation.
Gentlemen, I will explain to you in a moment the principle upon which
I act, and the grounds upon which I form my judgment. They are simply
these grounds: I look at the position of Russia, the geographical
position of Russia relatively to Turkey. I look at the comparative
strength of the two empires; I look at the importance of the
Dardanelles and the Bosphorus as an exit and a channel for the military
and commercial marine of Russia to the Mediterranean; and what I say
to myself is this: If the United Kingdom were in the same position
relatively to Turkey which Russia holds upon the map of the globe, I
feel quite sure that we should be very apt indeed both to entertain
and to execute aggressive designs upon Turkey. Gentlemen, I will go
further, and will frankly own to you that I believe if we, instead
of happily inhabiting this island, had been in the possession of the
Russian territory, and in the circumstances of the Russian people, we
should most likely have eaten up Turkey long ago. And consequently,
in saying that Russia ought to be vigilantly watched in that quarter,
I am only applying to her the rule which in parallel circumstances I
feel convinced ought to be applied, and would be justly applied, to
judgments upon our own country.

Gentlemen, there is only one other point on which I must still say a
few words to you, although there are a great many upon which I have a
great many words yet to say somewhere or other.

Of all the principles, gentlemen, of foreign policy which I have
enumerated, that to which I attach the greatest value is the principle
of the equality of nations; because, without recognizing that
principle, there is no such thing as public right, and without public
international right there is no instrument available for settling
the transactions of mankind except material force. Consequently the
principle of equality among nations lies, in my opinion, at the very
basis and root of a Christian civilization, and when that principle is
compromised or abandoned, with it must depart our hopes of tranquillity
and of progress for mankind.

I am sorry to say, gentlemen, that I feel it my absolute duty to make
this charge against the foreign policy under which we have lived
for the last two years, since the resignation of Lord Derby.[74] It
has been a foreign policy, in my opinion, wholly, or to a perilous
extent, unregardful of public right, and it has been founded upon the
basis of a false, I think an arrogant and a dangerous, assumption,
although I do not question its being made conscientiously and for what
was believed the advantage of the country,—an untrue, arrogant, and
dangerous assumption that we are entitled to assume for ourselves some
dignity, which we should also be entitled to withhold from others, and
to claim on our own part authority to do things which we would not
permit to be done by others. For example, when Russia was going to
the Congress at Berlin, we said: “Your Treaty of San Stefano is of no
value. It is an act between you and Turkey; but the concerns of Turkey
by the Treaty of Paris are the concerns of Europe at large. We insist
upon it that the whole of your Treaty of San Stefano shall be submitted
to the Congress at Berlin, that they may judge how far to open it in
each and every one of its points, because the concerns of Turkey are
the common concerns of the powers of Europe acting in concert.”

Having asserted that principle to the world, what did we do? These
two things, gentlemen: secretly, without the knowledge of Parliament,
without even the forms of official procedure, Lord Salisbury met Count
Schouvaloff in London, and agreed with him upon the terms on which the
two powers together should be bound in honor to one another to act upon
all the most important points when they came before the Congress at
Berlin. Having alleged against Russia that she should not be allowed to
settle Turkish affairs with Turkey, because they were but two powers,
and these affairs were the common affairs of Europe, and of European
interest, we then got Count Schouvaloff into a private room, and on the
part of England and Russia, they being but two powers, we settled a
large number of the most important of these affairs in utter contempt
and derogation of the very principle for which the government had been
contending for months before, for which they had asked Parliament to
grant a sum of £6,000,000, for which they had spent that £6,000,000 in
needless and mischievous armaments.[75] That which we would not allow
Russia to do with Turkey, because we pleaded the rights of Europe, we
ourselves did with Russia, in contempt of the rights of Europe. Nor
was that all, gentlemen. That act was done, I think, on one of the
last days of May, in the year 1878, and the document was published,
made known to the world, made known to the Congress at Berlin, to its
infinite astonishment, unless I am very greatly misinformed.

But that was not all. Nearly at the same time we performed the same
operation in another quarter. We objected to a treaty between Russia
and Turkey as having no authority, though that treaty was made in the
light of day—namely, to the Treaty of San Stefano; and what did we do?
We went not in the light of day, but in the darkness of the night,—not
in the knowledge and cognizance of other powers, all of whom would have
had the faculty and means of watching all along, and of preparing and
taking their own objections and shaping their own policy,—not in the
light of day, but in the darkness of the night, we sent the ambassador
of England in Constantinople to the minister of Turkey, and there he
framed, even while the Congress of Berlin was sitting to determine
these matters of common interest, he framed that which is too famous,
shall I say, or rather too notorious, as the Anglo-Turkish Convention.

Gentlemen, it is said, and said truly, that truth beats fiction; that
what happens in fact from time to time is of a character so daring,
so strange, that if the novelist were to imagine it and put it upon
his pages, the whole world would reject it from its improbability.
And that is the case of the Anglo-Turkish Convention. For who would
have believed it possible that we should assert before the world the
principle that Europe only could deal with the affairs of the Turkish
empire, and should ask Parliament for six millions to support us in
asserting that principle, should send ministers to Berlin who declared
that unless that principle was acted upon they would go to war with
the material that Parliament had placed in their hands, and should at
the same time be concluding a separate agreement with Turkey, under
which those matters of European jurisdiction were coolly transferred
to English jurisdiction; and the whole matter was sealed with the
worthless bribe of the possession and administration of the island of
Cyprus![76] I said, gentlemen, the worthless bribe of the island of
Cyprus, and that is the truth. It is worthless for our purposes—not
worthless in itself; an island of resources, an island of natural
capabilities, provided they are allowed to develop themselves in the
course of circumstances, without violent and unprincipled methods
of action. But Cyprus was not thought to be worthless by those who
accepted it as a bribe. On the contrary, you were told that it was to
secure the road to India; you were told that it was to be the site of
an arsenal very cheaply made, and more valuable than Malta; you were
told that it was to revive trade. And a multitude of companies were
formed, and sent agents and capital to Cyprus, and some of them, I
fear, grievously burned their fingers there. I am not going to dwell
upon that now. What I have in view is not the particular merits of
Cyprus, but the illustration that I have given you in the case of the
agreement of Lord Salisbury with Count Schouvaloff, and in the case of
the Anglo-Turkish Convention, of the manner in which we have asserted
for ourselves a principle that we had denied to others—namely, the
principle of overriding the European authority of the Treaty of Paris,
and taking the matters which that treaty gave to Europe into our own
separate jurisdiction.

Now, gentlemen, I am sorry to find that that which I call the
pharisaical assertion of our own superiority has found its way alike
into the practice, and seemingly into the theories of the government.
I am not going to assert any thing which is not known, but the
Prime-Minister has said that there is one day in the year—namely,
the 9th of November, Lord Mayor’s Day—on which the language of sense
and truth is to be heard amidst the surrounding din of idle rumors
generated and fledged in the brains of irresponsible scribes. I do
not agree, gentlemen, in that panegyric upon the 9th of November.
I am much more apt to compare the ninth of November—certainly a
well-known day in the year—but as to some of the speeches that have
lately been made upon it, I am very much disposed to compare it with
another day in the year, well known to British tradition, and that
other day in the year is the first of April. But, gentlemen, on that
day the Prime-Minister, speaking out,—I do not question for a moment
his own sincere opinion,—made what I think one of the most unhappy and
ominous allusions ever made by a minister of this country. He quoted
certain words, easily rendered as “Empire and Liberty”—words (he said)
of a Roman statesman, words descriptive of the state of Rome—and he
quoted them as words which were capable of legitimate application
to the position and circumstances of England.[77] I join issue with
the Prime-Minister upon that subject, and I affirm that nothing can
be more fundamentally unsound, more practically ruinous, than the
establishment of Roman analogies for the guidance of British policy.
What, gentlemen, was Rome? Rome was indeed an imperial state, you may
tell me,—I know not, I cannot read the counsels of Providence,—a state
having a mission to subdue the world, but a state whose very basis it
was to deny the equal rights, to proscribe the independent existence
of other nations. That, gentlemen, was the Roman idea. It has been
partially and not ill described in three lines of a translation from
Virgil by our great poet Dryden, which runs as follows:

   “O Rome! ’tis thine alone with awful sway
    To rule mankind, and make the world obey,
    Disposing peace and war thine own majestic way.”

We are told to fall back upon this example. No doubt the word “Empire”
was qualified with the word “Liberty.” But what did the two words
“Liberty” and “Empire” mean in a Roman mouth? They meant simply this:
“Liberty for ourselves, Empire over the rest of mankind.”

I do not think, gentlemen, that this ministry, or any other ministry,
is going to place us in the position of Rome. What I object to is the
revival of the idea. I care not how feebly, I care not even how,
from a philosophic or historical point of view, how ridiculous the
attempt at this revival may be. I say it indicates an intention—I say
it indicates a frame of mind, and the frame of mind, unfortunately, I
find, has been consistent with the policy of which I have given you
some illustrations—the policy of denying to others the rights that we
claim ourselves. No doubt, gentlemen, Rome may have had its work to
do, and Rome did its work. But modern times have brought a different
state of things. Modern times have established a sisterhood of nations,
equal, independent, each of them built up under that legitimate defence
which public law affords to every nation, living within its own
borders, and seeking to perform its own affairs; but if one thing more
than another has been detestable to Europe, it has been the appearance
upon the stage from time to time of men who, even in the times of
the Christian civilization, have been thought to aim at universal
dominion. It was this aggressive disposition on the part of Louis XIV.,
King of France, that led your forefathers, gentlemen, freely to spend
their blood and treasure in a cause not immediately their own, and to
struggle against the method of policy which, having Paris for its
centre, seemed to aim at an universal monarchy.[78]

It was the very same thing, a century and a half later, which was the
charge launched, and justly launched, against Napoleon, that under his
dominion France was not content even with her extended limits, but
Germany, and Italy, and Spain, apparently without any limit to this
pestilent and pernicious process, were to be brought under the dominion
or influence of France, and national equality was to be trampled under
foot, and national rights denied. For that reason, England in the
struggle almost exhausted herself, greatly impoverished her people,
brought upon herself, and Scotland too, the consequences of a debt
that nearly crushed their energies, and poured forth their best blood
without limit, in order to resist and put down these intolerable

Gentlemen, it is but in a pale and weak and almost despicable miniature
that such ideas are now set up, but you will observe that the poison
lies—that the poison and the mischief lie—in the principle and not the

It is the opposite principle which, I say, has been compromised by the
action of the ministry, and which I call upon you, and upon any who
choose to hear my views, to vindicate when the day of our election
comes; I mean the sound and the sacred principle that Christendom is
formed of a band of nations who are united to one another in the bonds
of right; that they are without distinction of great and small; there
is an absolute equality between them,—the same sacredness defends
the narrow limits of Belgium as attaches to the extended frontiers
of Russia, or Germany, or France. I hold that he who by act or word
brings that principle into peril or disparagement, however honest his
intentions may be, places himself in the position of one inflicting—I
won’t say intending to inflict—I ascribe nothing of the sort—but
inflicting injury upon his own country, and endangering the peace and
all the most fundamental interests of Christian society.


NOTE 1, p. 48.

                  Æolus sits upon his lofty tower
    And holds the sceptre, calming all their rage;
    Else would they bear sea, earth, and heaven profound
    In rapid flight, and sweep them through the air.

                      —_Virgil’s Æneid_, book i., lines 56–59.

NOTE 2, p. 73.—Only so much of London was represented as was included
in the territory of the Corporation—scarcely more than one square
mile in the heart of the metropolis. The other portions of the city,
Westminster, Southwark, Paddington, Chelsea, etc., were subsequently
enfranchised as individual boroughs.

NOTE 3, p. 73.—The condition of representation in Scotland before the
passage of the Reform Bill was worse than that in England. The county
franchise consisted of what were known as “superiorities,” which were
bought and sold like stocks in open market. The County of Argyll, for
example, with a population of 100,000 had only 115 electors, of whom
84 resided outside the county, and were known as “out voters.” The
city and borough franchise was vested in the town-councillors, who
constituted a close corporation, with the right of electing their own
successors. Edinburgh and Glasgow, the two first cities in Scotland,
elected their representatives in this way, each having a constituency
of thirty-three persons. See May, “Con. Hist.,” Am. ed., i., 284.

NOTE 4, p. 81.—The revolution of 1830 resulted in a complete change in
political affairs both in Belgium and in France. The restoration of
the Bourbons and the doctrines of the Holy Alliance led to the general
policy of repression. This policy culminated in July, 1830, with the
publication of five ordinances issued by Charles X. of France. These
ordinances, which were an audacious violation of the constitution,
suspended the liberty of the press, dissolved the newly elected Chamber
of Deputies, changed the system of election and reduced the number
of representatives, convoked the two Chambers, and appointed a new
Council of State from the extreme Royalist party. The city was thrown
into immediate revolt, and within four days the royal palace was in
the hands of the mob. On the 2d of August the king was obliged to
abdicate in favor of Louis Philippe. The revolution outside of France
made itself felt chiefly in Belgium, where, as the result of a violent
struggle, the friends of liberal government succeeded in adopting a
constitution modelled after that of England.

NOTE 5, p. 86.—Sir Robert Peel, in his argument in opposition to the
bill, had urged that Pitt, Fox, Canning, Brougham, and Macaulay himself
had been brought into Parliament from nomination boroughs.

NOTE 6, p. 87.—There were two memorable instances during the short
political experience of Socrates, to either of which Macaulay may have
referred. In B.C. 406 he was a member of the Senate and one of the
Prytanes, when he refused to put an unconstitutional question to vote
on the trial of the six generals, though all of the other Prytanes
were against him. Amid great political uproar he persisted in holding
out, and thus prevented the required unanimity. The other instance was
his refusal to obey an unconstitutional order of the Thirty Tyrants to
arrest Leon the Salaminian. See Plato, “Apol. Socr.,” c. 20; and Grote,
“Hist. of Greece,” viii., 200.

NOTE 7, p. 88.—Reference is made to the repeal of the Oath of Supremacy
Act, by which, in 1829, Irish Roman Catholics otherwise qualified were
admitted to the rights of franchise. In order to prevent too large an
influx of new voters into political power, the forty-shilling condition
of rating was raised to a ten-pound condition. Mr. O’Connell was twice
elected for Clare before he could be admitted to Parliament.

NOTE 8, p. 91.—Sir Robert Peel, in the early part of his career, had
attached himself to the Tories, and had been elected to the House by
the University of Oxford, with the expectation that he would be the
successful champion of Toryism. When the Irish question, under the lead
of O’Connell, first assumed formidable proportions, Peel was ardently
opposed to the project of emancipation. In the course of the debate,
however, his opposition weakened, and he finally, on coming into the
ministry, became the champion of the cause which he formerly opposed.
Macaulay possibly hoped to draw him into a similar course on the Reform
Bill,—at all events to weaken the force of his opposition to it. He was
not successful; but, as we shall hereafter see, Sir Robert pursued a
nearly identical course in regard to the Corn Laws.

NOTE 9, p. 109.—On the 12th of March, in the preceding year, Cobden had
moved for a select committee to inquire into the effects of protective
duties on agricultural tenants and laborers. His speech on the occasion
is one of great importance, and may be read with profit in connection
with the speech here given. As Cobden himself was a manufacturer, and
as the repeal sought was believed to be especially in the interests
of his class, the remark was made that this new argument came “from a
suspicious source.”

NOTE 10, p. 112.—Mr. Villiars was one of the earliest to advocate the
abolition of the Corn Laws, and in 1839 was a recognized leader. In
1841 he was given charge of the interests of the movement in the House
of Commons, where he annually “brought forward his motion.”

NOTE 11, p. 118.—Quotations in support of the positions taken were here
introduced from speeches of Mr. Pusey, Mr. Hobbes, and Lord Stanley.

NOTE 12, p. 121.—It should not be forgotten by the reader that the
lands of England are very generally owned in large estates, and that
these are rented in portions to the farmers, who usually pay a fixed
rent to the landlords in money. Sometimes the agreement is for a
long term of years, taking the form of a lease, but more frequently,
as Cobden shows, it is simply an agreement for a short term only,
sometimes even for a single year.

NOTE 13, p. 126.—Mr. Huskisson, in the distressing period after the
close of the Napoleonic wars, grew into almost universal favor by the
wisdom of his financial methods. In 1823 he became President of the
Board of Trade, and from that time till he was killed at the opening
of the railway between Liverpool and Manchester in 1830, was the most
eminent financial authority in the kingdom. He was the successor of
Pitt in the advocacy of greater freedom of trade, and the advocate of
methods which it was now Cobden’s work to develop.

NOTE 14, p. 135.—In the debate of March 12, 1844, it had been hinted
that Mr. Cobden, a manufacturer, was in a position to be benefited by
such agricultural distress as his measures were calculated to bring on.
It was urged that by admitting grain free, farmers would be ruined,
laborers driven out of employment, wages would be depressed, and
manufacturers would secure labor at a reduced price.

NOTE 15, p. 136.—This assertion was also made at the debate a year

NOTE 15a, p. 143.—The passage referred to, in what can hardly have been
other than mere playfulness, is the following:

    Urit enim lini campum seges, urit avenæ;
    Urunt Lethæo perfusa papavera somno.

For a crop of flax burns the land, also of oats; also poppies
impregnated with Lethæan sleep.—Georgics, Lib. i., 77.

NOTE 16, p. 150.—At the time Cobden was speaking it was the custom,
whenever there was a “division,” for those in opposition to the motion
to go out into the “lobby,” and for those favoring the motion to remain
in the House. The official count was then made by two sets of tellers.
At the present time, both the “Ayes” and “Noes” go into lobbies, the
“ayes” to the left of the speaker, the “noes” to the right.

NOTE 17, p. 150.—The repealing bill, it will be remembered, finally
passed the House of Lords June 26, 1846. It was not the report,
however, but what Sir Robert Peel called “the cogency of events,” that
hastened the final action.

NOTE 18, p. 161.—During the whole of Walpole’s career he held the
views here attributed to him. But his love of office was greater
than his love of peace. When, therefore, the nation clamored for war
with Spain, he declared war, though, as Lord Mahon says: “No man
had a clearer view of the impending mischief and misery.” The same
historian writes that when the bells from every steeple in the city
proclaimed the satisfaction of the people over the declaration of war,
Walpole remarked: “They may ring the bells now; before long they will
be wringing their hands.” Walpole knew that the country was utterly
without preparation for war; and yet rather than lose his place, he
was willing to be the instrument of immeasurable mischief and misery.
When the disasters of the war came on, the Opposition forced the
responsibility of it on the Prime-Minister, and drove him from power in

NOTE 19, p. 163.—The speech of Sir Robert Peel here referred to was
a part of a memorable debate in June, 1850, on what is known as the
“Don Pacifico Affair.” Don Pacifico was a Jew born at Gibraltar (and
therefore an English subject), who settled in Athens. In a riot
his house was assailed and its furniture destroyed. His claim was
presented to the English officials, who at once demanded £500 damages
for Don Pacifico. After some delays the English brought a man-of-war
from Constantinople, blockaded the harbor of Athens, and declined to
allow any vessel to depart till the claim was settled. The French and
Russian governments were thrown into considerable excitement, and the
French ambassador left the English court. A resolution of censure was
introduced into the House of Lords, and was carried by a majority
of thirty-seven. In the House of Commons, however, matters took a
different turn. Mr. Roebuck introduced a resolution of general approval
of the foreign policy of the government, intended, of course, to give
the government a better chance to escape the downfall that seemed
impending. Lord Palmerston, then Minister for Foreign Affairs, defended
the government in a speech of extraordinary power, extending, as Mr.
Gladstone said, “from the dusk of one day till the dawn of the next.”
The opponents claimed that Don Pacifico should have sought redress in
the Greek courts, while Palmerston claimed that the condition of the
Greek courts was such as to make a judicial appeal simply a mockery.
The debate extended over four nights, closing with the speech of Peel
in opposition to the government. The resolution of approval was carried
by a majority of forty-six. The Don Pacifico case was finally submitted
to French commissioners, by whom the amount of damages was fixed. The
speech of Peel was memorable for its pacific and judicial tone, as
well as for the fact that it was delivered only a few hours before the
accident from which he died on the 2d of July. See Peel’s “Speeches,”
vol. iv.; Hansard’s “Debates” for 1850, and “Ann. Reg.,” xcii., 57–88;
Phillimore, “Int. Law,” iii., 76.

NOTE 20, p. 167.—The important assertion here made can hardly be
successfully disputed, though there are many who would be reluctant
to admit its truth. The modern Tories, with Disraeli at their head,
have held that the reform of 1832 tended still further to weaken the
masses of the people. This position, fully elaborated and defended in
Disraeli’s “Defence of the Constitution,” his “Life of Lord George
Bentinck,” and his speech introducing the Reform Bill of 1867, is
touched upon briefly also in the same orator’s speech on “Conservative
Principles” given below. The question is elaborately considered in the
first two chapters of Lecky’s “History of England.”

NOTE 21, p. 168.—This must be regarded as mere conjecture, though
stated as a fact. Even the formidable alliances against Louis XIV. in
the War of the Spanish Succession were not able to prevent the French
king from keeping his heir upon the Spanish throne. If the Bourbons, in
spite of the allied armies with Marlborough at their head, were able
to hold their position, they would hardly have done less if England
had not interfered. To say that a union of the crowns “would have
been impossible in the nature of things,” is to presume that the line
of succession must have been just what it was. But this, of course,
could not have been foreseen. If a disturbance of the balance of power
ever justifies war, it did so in the case of the War of the Spanish

NOTE 22, p. 168.—This statement is not quite correct. The English
Plenipotentiaries at Vienna were Lord Castelreagh and Lord Wellington.
Castelreagh died in 1822 and Wellington in 1852; whereas the alliance
between the governments of England and France to prevent the
aggressions of Russia did not occur till August, 1853. On the 12th of
August Lord Aberdeen declared that the four great powers, England,
France, Austria, and Prussia, were acting cordially together; but on
the 20th of the same month Lord Clarendon announced that an offensive
alliance had been formed between England and France. It was this
alliance which made all further efforts in behalf of peace hopeless.
It was the opinion not only of Cobden and Bright, but also of Disraeli
and of the Tories generally, that the act which made the war inevitable
was the abandonment of Austria and Prussia and the formation of this
alliance with France. Such is also the opinion of Mr. Kinglake. See
Hansard’s “Debates,” cxxix., 1424, 1768, and 1826; also Kinglake’s
“Crimean War,” _passim_.

NOTE 23, p. 169.—The so-called doctrine of the “balance of power,”
whatever may be said against it, has been generally held by Europe
ever since it was so energetically advocated by Henry IV., of France,
at the beginning of the seventeenth century. The doctrine may be said
to exercise the functions of a general European police to prevent any
inequitable disturbance of territorial limits. It is difficult to see
what but that doctrine could have prevented France under Napoleon from
getting and holding two thirds of Europe; what would have prevented
Russia long since from destroying Turkey; indeed what would prevent
the strongest power from ultimately absorbing the whole. It did not
prevent the destruction of Poland, partly because there was a general
conviction that Poland was hardly worth saving, and partly because the
partitioning powers were so strong as to make interference at least a
very costly operation. These facts are enough to show that there is
a very important other side to Mr. Bright’s attractive doctrine of
non-interference. The question is not simply whether Europe has been
made better, but also whether she has not been prevented from being
made worse.

NOTE 24, p. 171.—The orator might also have said that the English
people have very largely given up all _desire_ that the national debt
should be paid off. It affords a convenient investment, which restrains
an undue inclination to speculation and affords a steady and certain
income to vast numbers of the people. Its payment would create a
disturbance which no English minister would venture to advocate.

NOTE 25, p. 172.—This statement is undoubtedly true; and yet it can
hardly be denied that the course taken by England in the Napoleonic
wars added very greatly to the importance of England as a power. A
little later, Mr. Bright objects to the policy pursued, because “it
is impossible that we can gain one single atom of advantage for this
country.” His opponents would claim that England has gained immense
advantages from the very influence she has acquired, and as shown by
the very examples given by the orator. They would probably also say
that no other class gained so much as the manufacturers, the very class
to which Mr. Bright belonged.

NOTE 26, p. 174.—The wit of this passage consists in its use of the
expression “out-door relief.” In England the poor laws provide for two
kinds of relief—that afforded in the work-houses and that afforded to
the poor in their own homes. The latter is popularly known as “out-door

NOTE 27, p. 175.—When the claim of Denmark to the Duchies of
Schleswig-Holstein came forward, in consequence of the death of the
last ducal peer, England decided that she had no right to interfere,
though the claims of Denmark were earnestly pressed by the Crown
Princess of England, a daughter of the Danish king. The question was
finally taken up by Prussia, in opposition to the claims of Denmark, in
a manner that aroused the hostility of Austria, and brought on the war
of 1866 between Austria and Prussia.

NOTE 28, p. 176.—In 1830 the governments of Great Britain, France,
and Russia entered into a treaty, establishing and guaranteeing the
constitutional monarchy of Greece. This was in effect acknowledging
the independence of Greece from Turkey, and guaranteeing to defend
that independence. Mr. Bright could hardly mean to be understood as
objecting to such a guarantee. A loan, furnished by the Rothschilds,
of £2,343,750 was also guaranteed by the three powers, each being
responsible for one third. As the Greek Government did not pay, the
guarantors were held responsible; and in 1866 the amount that had
been paid by England was £1,060,385. This, of course, was held as
a claim against Greece. In 1866 a convention of the powers agreed
that the Greek Government should pay £12,000 a year till all is
liquidated.—Martin’s “Statesman’s Year-Book for 1873,” p. 285.

NOTE 29, p. 176.—“Animated by the desire of maintaining the integrity
and independence of the Ottoman empire as a security for the peace of
Europe,” is the avowal of the object of the treaty of July 15, 1840,
entered into at London by all the powers except France. The occasion of
it was the revolt of Egypt under Mehemet Ali.—Phillimore, “Int. Law,”
i., 86.

NOTE 30, p. 177.—As indicated in NOTE 22, the diplomatic act which
precipitated the Crimean War was the offensive alliance of England and
France against Russia. The cause of this alliance was the attitude of
Prussia, which at that time was very weak, and was under the powerful
influence of Russia. After the practical withdrawal of Prussia from her
treaty obligations to protect Turkey, Austria decided not to venture
upon war without the coöperation of Prussia, unless her own Danubian
principalities should be threatened. The withdrawal of Russia from the
mouth of the Danube, and the transfer of the seat of war to the Crimea,
left Austria free to decline to act with England and France. Some of
the diplomatic correspondence was spirited, though perhaps it is going
too far to call it either “offensive” or “insolent.”

NOTE 31, p. 177.—It is an established principle of international usage
that no nation is obliged to accept or retain a foreign minister that
is offensive to it, and any nation has a right to request the recall
of a minister who is for any reason offensive to it. In 1789 Jefferson
requested the French Government to recall Count de Moustier because he
was “politically and morally offensive.”—Trescott’s “Am. Dip. Hist.,”
34. America requested the recall of Genet, and France in turn requested
the recall of Morris, in 1794, for political reasons.—Hildreth, 2d
series, i., 477. America also requested the recall of Poussin in
1849.—“Ammaire,” xl., 665. In 1872 the Russian minister Catacazy
engaged in writing political articles for the _New York Herald_
offensive to the government, and his recall was requested. In 1809
the English Government was requested to recall Minister Jackson from
Washington, “for questioning the word of the Government.” The case
alluded to by Mr. Bright was doubtless that of Sir John Crampton, whose
recall was requested in 1856, because he was found to be enlisting
troops in the United States for the Crimean War.—“Am. Reg. for 1856,”
277; “Ex. Docs. Thirty-fourth Congress,” 107. In all these cases the
request was acceded to without delay. According to Phillimore, ii.,
149: “It is in the discretion of the receiving state to refuse the
reception of a certain diplomatic agent.”

NOTE 32, p. 177.—This is a very immoderate statement, certainly not
justified by the facts. Everybody conceded that “Don Pacifico” had a
claim that was not “false.” The only question in dispute was whether
the claim ought not to have been first presented to the Greek courts.
See Note 19.

NOTE 33, p. 177.—In 1856 the conduct of the King of Naples toward
political offenders was so tyrannical as to be a scandal to all
Christendom. The governments of England and France addressed
a remonstrance to the government of Naples “upon the general
maladministration of justice in that country, and upon the danger
thereby accruing to the Italian peninsula especially, and generally to
the peace of Europe.” As the remonstrance was rejected by the King of
Naples, England and France showed their condemnation of the internal
policy of the Neapolitan Government by withdrawing their ambassadors,
as under the law of nations they had a perfect right to do. See
Phillimore, ii., 148, and iii. Preface, ix.

NOTE 34, p. 177.—In 1856 Lord Dalhousie, Governor-General of India,
annexed the kingdom of Oude under the following circumstances: The
East India Company had bound themselves by treaty “to defend the
sovereigns of Oude against foreign and domestic enemies, on condition
that _the State should be governed in such a manner as to render the
lives and property of its population safe_.” Lord Dalhousie found on
investigation that “while the Company performed their part of the
contract, the King of Oude so governed his dominions as to make his
rule a curse to his own people, and to all neighboring territories.”
McCarthy (“Hist. of Our Own Time,” Eng. ed., iii., 61), though an
extreme Liberal in his sympathies, speaks of Lord Dalhousie’s act as
“not only justifiable, but actually inevitable.” The act was only one
of many causes of the Sepoy rebellion. The language of the orator seems
altogether extravagant and unwarranted.

NOTE 35, p. 178.—The “Opium War” of 1839, and the “Lorcha Arrow War”
of 1856, are now generally and justly condemned. But to say that “no
man with a spark of morality in his composition,” or “who cares any
thing for the opinion of his fellow-countrymen,” “has dared to justify
that war,” is scarcely less than an absurd and amusing exaggeration.
The election of 1856 turned expressly on the justification of Lord
Palmerston in the “Lorcha Arrow War,” and it was Bright’s opposition
to the war which caused his defeat at Birmingham, and obliged him to
take a seat for Manchester. The causes of both of these wars are given
with admirable spirit in McCarthy’s “History of Our Own Time,” chapters
viii. and ix. Cobden also lost his seat for opposition to the war.

NOTE 36, p. 179.—At the conclusion of the Chinese War in 1858 there
were some who desired a foothold in Japan. Lord Elgin went to the
Japanese capital and succeeded in negotiating a treaty of “peace,
friendship, and commerce,” the first concluded by Japan with any
Western power. This treaty, signed Aug. 26, 1858, and ratified July 11,
1859, is given in “Am. Reg.,” ci., 216, 268.

NOTE 37, p. 182.—This statement is very difficult to understand. The
exports of British produce have varied not very greatly during the
past twenty years. In 1873 the exports amounted to £255,164,603.
This amount declined with considerable regularity till 1879, when
it was £191,531,756. It then began to increase, and in 1883 reached
£241,461,162. Martin, “Statesman’s Year-Book, for 1884,” 264. It seems
impossible to reconcile these figures with Mr. Bright’s statements,
unless he means _profit_ instead of “trade.”

NOTE 38, p. 182.—The facts do not justify this statement. At the time
of the Peace of Paris, in September, 1815, the national debt of Great
Britain was £900,436,845. In March of 1855 it had been diminished to
£808,518,448, £91,918,397 having been paid off. The two years of the
Crimean War increased the debt by £30,399,995. But since March, 1857,
the decrease has been £82,541,924, leaving the debt March 31, 1883,
£756,376,519, a diminution of £144,060,326 since 1815. By a law of 1875
provision was made for the gradual extinction of the debt by means of a
sinking fund to be annually provided for in the budget. In 1883 a bill
passed providing still further for a series of terminable annuities,
by which, in the next twenty years, £173,000,000 will be paid.—Martin,
“Statesman’s Year-Book, for 1884,” 230.

NOTE 39, p. 186.—This is not quite accurately stated. At the time of
the _coup d’état_ Lord Palmerston was Minister of Foreign Affairs.
He did indeed in a conversation with Count Walewski, the French
Ambassador at London, express his approval of the course of the French
Government, but so far from speaking “ostensibly for the cabinet, for
the sovereign, and the English nation,” he offered simply his private
opinion. The English Government formally determined upon a course of
the strictest neutrality; and when it was found that Palmerston’s
approval had been sent by Walewski to France, the message was not only
disavowed, but Palmerston was summarily dismissed. See McCarthy, ii.,
chap. xxii., 148–154, Eng. ed. The _coup d’état_ was in December, 1851;
but there was no alliance till August of 1853, long after the people of
France had given their sanction to the empire.

NOTE 40, p. 192.—This hardly accords with what the orator said a
few moments ago of India—“a vast country which we do not know how
to govern.” The East India Company’s power was broken by the Sepoy
rebellion, and the government was transferred to the crown in 1858.
The government of Canada was made substantially what it now is, on the
recommendation of Lord Durham, in 1839.

NOTE 41, p. 195.—The aggregate number of paupers has changed but
slightly during the last twenty years. In 1874 the total number in
England and Wales was 829,281; in 1883, 799,296. But in Ireland the
number has increased from 79,050 in 1874 to 115,684 in 1883. In
Scotland the number has diminished from 111,996 in 1873, to 95,081 in
1882.—Martin, “Statesman’s Year-Book, for 1884,” 253, 257, 261.

NOTE 42, p. 223.—The daily political duties of the Queen are described
somewhat in detail in Ewald’s “The Crown and its Advisers,” where
the influence of the crown is held to be much greater than it has
sometimes been supposed to be. In 1850 the question was very fully
considered by the government, and the requirement of the Queen, that
no important action should be taken that had not first received her
consideration and sanction, was set forth in a “memorandum” written to
the Prime-Minister. Because of a violation of the principles set forth
in this memorandum, Lord Palmerston was dismissed in the following
year. The details of the controversy, which ended in the more complete
establishment of the constitutional principle, are given in McCarthy,
“History of Our Own Time,” chap. xxii., Eng. ed., vol. ii., pp. 124–163.

NOTE 43, p. 224.—The ablest and most suggestive discussion of this
important topic is to be found in Bagehot’s volume on “The English
Constitution.” In the second chapter the author, with characteristic
ability, traces “how the actions of a retired widow and an unemployed
youth became of such importance” to the English people.

NOTE 44, p. 224.—Reference is here made to Sir Charles Dilke’s speech
at Nottingham adverted to in the sketch of the orator.

NOTE 45, p. 226.—The salaries of English ministers are fixed not
by Parliament but by the ministers themselves. This subject was
considered at length in 1831, and again in 1834, when it was held in
Parliament that the determination of salaries of executive officers is
an executive and not a legislative function. The salaries, therefore,
are fixed by the government, and are included in the budget presented
to the Commons. The ministers, of course, act in full view of their
responsibility; but the estimates for salaries have never, except in
one instance, been modified. The salaries of ministers in England
are generally £5,000, though that of the Lord Chancellor, who is at
the head of the Department of Justice, is £10,000. The salary of the
President of the United States was $25,000 until 1872, when it was
fixed by Congress at $50,000. On the salaries of English officials, see
Todd, “Parliamentary Government in England,” i., 396–420. Members of
Parliament, as such, receive no salaries whatever.

NOTE 46, 231.—In Bagehot’s “English Constitution,” chap. iv., is a very
brilliant and suggestive discussion of the several political as well
as social functions of the House of Lords. In this chapter, p. 100,
Eng. ed., is to be found a remarkable letter of Lord Wellington to Lord
Derby on “managing” the House of Lords. Bagehot argues that a second or
revising chamber, to perform its work well, must have “independence,”
“leisure,” and “intelligence,” and that on the whole these qualities
are found in large measure in the House of Lords. Though many of the
lords are ignorant of political affairs, the ignorant ones generally
are so good as to remain away from the House and leave matters in the
hands of those who are not ignorant.

NOTE 47, p. 232.—The question of raising persons to a life peerage
has often been considered in England. In 1856 Lord Wensleydale was
summoned “for and during the term of his natural life,” in imitation
of what had been done four hundred years before; but the measure
awakened violent opposition on the part of the House of Lords, which
held that the independence of the House was thereby imperilled. The
House decided that although the crown had the right to create “life
peers,” such peers had no right to sit and vote in the House of Peers.
After this decision, Lord Wensleydale did not attempt to take his seat,
until shortly afterward he was created an hereditary peer as Baron
Parke.—Hansard clviii. 1457, 1469; Todd, i. 368. In this same year a
committee of the House of Lords was appointed to further consider the
question, and reported recommending a statute “to confer life peerages
upon two persons who had served for five years as judges, and that
they should sit with the Lord Chancellor, as Judges of Appeal.” A bill
founded on this recommendation passed the Lords, but was thrown out
by the Commons. The principle was revived, however, in the “Appellate
Jurisdiction Act of 1876,” by which provision was made for the constant
presence in the House of Lords of four “Lords of Appeal in Ordinary,”
to rank as Barons. They are selected from those who have held “high
judicial office” and their dignity “does not descend to their
heirs.”—Amos’ “Fifty Years of the English Constitution.” 19.

NOTE 48, p. 233.—This suggestion probably had its origin in the
organization of the Roman Senate, which was made up of persons
appointed for life from those who had been elected to the higher
offices in the state.

NOTE 49, p. 235.—The period referred to was that immediately after
1832. The reformed parliament was strongly Liberal, and several
measures were proposed to alter the constitution of the House of Lords.
The headlong rate of the reformers was checked by the accession of the
opposite party in 1835; but O’Connell was still clamorous for reform
of the Lords, and in May of 1836 he introduced a resolution to make
the Upper House elective, but the motion was received with universal
derision.—Martineau, “Hist. of the Peace,” iii. 552.

NOTE 50, p. 238.—After the Reform Bill of 1832 was passed it was
soon evident that it would have to be supplemented. Again and again
attempts were made to carry a measure that would extend the franchise
on the same principles as those acted on in 1832. But the nobility and
the middle classes appeared to have no further interest in reform.
Meantime there were others who had thought of reform in a different
method. As early as 1821 Lord Durham had proposed the establishment of
electoral districts, essentially according to the custom in America.
In 1859, when Derby and Disraeli were in power, Disraeli introduced a
bill enlarging the suffrage and essentially modifying the methods of
determining qualifications. But this, too, failed. Another reform bill
was introduced by Palmerston’s government in 1860, and still another
by Gladstone in 1866. But all were unsuccessful till Mr. Disraeli’s
bill of 1867. This was founded on the principle that the franchise
should depend on permanency of interest, rather than amount of tax
paid.—McCarthy, iv., 94–117; Molesworth, iii., 303–347.

NOTE 51, p. 248.—On the question here raised, there is a great variety
of opinion, but the best authorities will accept the statement of
the orator as substantially correct. The most careful consideration
of the question has been presented in “Six Centuries of Work and
Wages,” by Professor Thorold Rogers, who has devoted many years to
the subject, and is unquestionably the highest living authority. On
p. 522 (Am. ed.) he says: “Through nearly three centuries the condition
of the English laborer was that of plenty and hope; from perfectly
intelligible causes it sunk within a century to so low a level as to
make the workman practically helpless, and the lowest point was reached
just about the outbreak of the great war between King and Parliament.
From this time it gradually improved, till in the first half of the
eighteenth century, though still far below the level of the fifteenth,
it achieved comparative plenty. Then it began to sink again, and the
workmen experienced the direst misery during the great continental
war. Latterly, almost within our own memory and knowledge, it has
experienced a slow and partial improvement, the causes of which are to
be found in the liberation of industry from protective laws, in the
adoption of certain principles which restrained employment in some
directions, and, most of all, in the concession to laborers of the
right, so long denied, of forming labor partnerships.”

NOTE 52, p. 257.—The rate of increase in the population of Great
Britain is such that there need be no especial alarm. In 1879,
according to the official statistics, the number of births in Great
Britain and Ireland in excess of the deaths was 436,780, while in
France it was only 96,647. To every 10,000 inhabitants in Great Britain
the annual addition is 101, while in France it is only 96. In Germany
it is 115; in the United States (largely through immigration, of
course) it is 260. The number of births per 1,000 in France is annually
26; in Switzerland, 30; in Denmark, 31; in Belgium, 32; in England,
35; in Austria, 38; in Saxony, 40; and in Russia, 50.—Raoul Frary,
“Le National Peril”; also “Bradstreet’s” for Oct. 27, 1883, on “Vital
Statistics,” 259.

NOTE 53, p. 257.—The question most prominently before the English
people at the time of the fall of Disraeli’s government in December of
1868 was the bill for disestablishing the Irish Church. This was the
real issue at the election in November, and is what Disraeli called the
policy of “violence.” The local reference was doubtless to the fact
that Mr. Gladstone and Lord Hartington were both defeated in Lancashire
as candidates for the House of Commons. Gladstone, however, accepted a
seat for Greenwich.

NOTE 54, p. 258.—Lord Mayo, in consequence of his successful
administration of the affairs of Ireland, was appointed by Disraeli’s
Ministry Viceroy of India. He was assassinated early in 1872. His
administration was such as to win the admiration of all discriminating
men of all parties.

NOTE 55, p. 259.—When Mr. Gladstone came into power in 1868, one of his
early measures was bill for the disendowment of the Irish State Church.
The controversy over the measure was one of great earnestness, but it
was finally carried and went into effect January 1, 1871. This was
followed by the Irish Land Bill, which aimed to overthrow the doctrine
of the landlord’s absolute and unlimited rights, and to recognize
certain property of the tenant in the land. This doctrine was carried
still further in the Irish Land Bill of 1882.—McCarthy, chap. lviii.

NOTE 56, p. 260.—This subject is well presented in McCarthy’s chap.
lix., “Reformation in a Flood.” For a list of the most important of
these measures, see the Introduction to Mr. Gladstone.

NOTE 57, p. 263.—The “Captain” was a six-gun turret-ship, which, with
a crew of five hundred men, foundered at sea on the 7th of September,
1870. The court of enquiry found that the disaster was owing to faulty
construction of the vessel, which had been built “in deference to
public opinion, as expressed in Parliament and through other channels,
and in opposition to the views and opinions of the Controller of the
Navy.”—“Ann. Reg. for 1870,” 107, 119. The “Megara” was an iron screw
troop-ship that was run aground in a sinking state at St. Paul’s,
Ireland, June 19, 1871. The commissioners of enquiry into the causes
of the disaster reported their “decided opinion that the state and
condition of the ‘Megara’ was such that she ought never to have been
selected for the voyage.” After giving the details that led to their
conclusion, the commissioners said: “It is with reluctance and pain
that we express unfavorable opinions with respect to the conduct of
officers and the management of a great department.”—“Ann. Reg. for
1881,” 96, and for 1882, 257, 260.

NOTE 58, p. 263.—This had been suggested by Mr. Lowe, the Chancellor of
the Exchequer.

NOTE 59, p. 266.—Mr. Cobden was of the same opinion. In 1854 he said:
“I look back with regret on the vote which changed Lord Derby’s
government; I regret the result of that motion, for it has cost the
country a hundred millions of treasure and between thirty and forty
thousand good lives.”—Morley’s “Life of Cobden,” Eng. ed., ii., 151.

NOTE 60, p. 267.—During the Civil War Mr. Gladstone as well as Lord
Russell had inclined to favor the Southern cause by a recognition of
the Southern States. To this Mr. Disraeli and Lord Stanley (the present
Lord Derby) were strenuously opposed. During Mr. Disraeli’s first
administration Lord Stanley was Secretary of State for Foreign affairs.

NOTE 61, p. 268.—This statement is not quite justified by the facts.
At the conclusion of the Civil War, intense feeling of indignation
pervaded the United States against Great Britain, for three reasons:
first, for a premature recognition of the belligerency of the
Southern States; secondly, for the direct aid and supplies furnished
the Southern States in British ports; and thirdly, for allowing
the fitting out of cruisers in British ports to prey upon Northern
commerce. The people of the United States held that Great Britain
through her government had disregarded the obligations of neutrality
imposed upon her by the law of nations. The United States Government
remonstrated with the British Government, demanding reparation for
past wrong, and cessation from a continuance of the wrong. But so
long as Lord John Russell was in power (through whose negligence or
misjudgment the wrong had been done) no progress was made toward a
settlement. The Derby-Disraeli government succeeded that of Russell
in 1866, with Lord Stanley as Minister of Foreign Affairs. About the
end of 1866 Lord Stanley, through Sir Frederick Bruce, offered to
submit the Alabama Claims to arbitration. To this Mr. Seward assented
“on condition that the whole controversy between the two governments
should be deferred.” Lord Stanley asked for information as to what
was meant by the expression “the whole controversy,” but the answer
was not free from ambiguity, and was supposed to refer to damages for
“premature recognition of the Confederacy.” As Lord Stanley had refused
to submit this subject to arbitration, negotiations were broken off.
The matter rested till March 6, 1868, when it was brought up in the
House of Commons, and was fully debated. This was followed by a debate
March 20th in the House of Lords, both in excellent spirit. It was
in the following November that negotiations were again opened with
a view to submitting the differences to arbitration. A preliminary
agreement was reached and signed November 10th, by Lord Stanley and
Mr. Johnson, the American minister. It was not, however, acceptable to
Mr. Seward, who telegraphed November 26th: “Claims Convention unless
amended is useless.” In a long despatch of the same date sent by mail
the objections were duly pointed out, the most important of which were
in regard to Article IV. of the Protocol, and were stated in these
words: “While the Convention provides that the United States claims
and the British claims shall be settled and determined by a majority
of the Commissioners, this Article IV. _requires entire unanimity of
the Commissioners for a derision upon any of the Alabama Claims_.”
Other objections were given, but this was the most important one why,
as Mr. Seward said, “the United States are obliged to disallow this
Article IV.” On November 28th Mr. Johnson had an interview with Lord
Stanley, when the latter said he had received a despatch from the
British minister at Washington, which stated “that it was understood
that all the cabinet disapprove of it.” On the 5th of December Mr.
Johnson wrote to Mr. Seward that he just had an interview with Lord
Stanley, who “expressed no willingness to change the mode of appointing
the arbitrator who is to decide the question of the liability of
this government for the Alabama Claims.” In the same letter Mr.
Johnson announced the resignation of the Disraeli government, and the
necessity of postponing all further negotiations. On the whole subject
see “Diplomatic Correspondence,” 3d Sess., 40th Cong., vol. i., pp.
361–391. Soon after the Gladstone-Clarendon government came into power
the subject was again taken up, and a Protocol was agreed upon between
Mr. Johnson and Lord Clarendon, providing that “_all claims_ should
be submitted to arbitration.” This treaty was submitted to the Senate
of the United States, and April 19, 1869, was rejected with but one
dissenting voice. The grounds of objection were that the Alabama Claims
were so obscured by minor matters that they would not receive due
attention. The Johnson-Clarendon treaty is given in the “Diplomatic
Correspondence” and in “Ann. Reg. for 1869,” p. 282. The subject was
not again renewed till the outbreak of the Franco-German War, in regard
to which see note 63.

NOTE 62, p. 270.—At the conclusion of the Crimean War the great powers
in the Treaty of Paris agreed to impose and enforce the neutrality of
the Black Sea. The waters and the ports were “perpetually interdicted
to the flag of war of either of the powers possessing its coasts,”
excepting certain small armed vessels to act as a sort of maritime
police. As was not unnatural, Russia chafed under this interdiction.
The Franco-German War broke out in July of 1870. In October of that
year, when France and Germany were so occupied as scarcely to be
able to protest, Prince Gortschakoff addressed a circular despatch
to the European powers, stating that Russia no longer recognized
the obligations of the Treaty of 1856. This despatch called forth a
courteous but firm reply from Lord Granville, in which the obligatory
nature of the treaty was insisted upon. It was feared that Prussia
had secretly assented to the claims now put forward by Russia, in
compensation for grants made to Prussia on the Baltic. Accordingly
Mr. Odo Russell was sent to the German head-quarters at Versailles
to ascertain the attitude of the Prussian Government. Count Bismarck
assured the English ambassador that Prussia had given no sanction to
the step, and proposed that the whole question should be submitted
to a conference of the powers, to be held at London. This proposal
of Prussia was assented to by England and Russia, and the conference
took place in January of 1871. The result was the neutralization of
the Black Sea was abrogated. The prediction of Beaconsfield, that “the
entire command of the Black Sea will soon be in the possession of
Russia,” has been amply justified by subsequent history.—“Ann. Reg.,
1870,” 109; 1871, 3–17.

NOTE 63, p. 271.—The Washington Treaty of June 17, 1871, provided
for referring five important questions in dispute to a Committee
of Arbitration, consisting of one member appointed by the Queen of
England, one by the President of the United States, one by the King of
Italy, one by the President of the Swiss Confederation, and one by the
Emperor of Brazil. The sixth article of the treaty provided that the
Arbitrators should be guided in their decision of the “Alabama Claims”
by “three rules” which were given in the article, and which virtually
acknowledged the responsibility of England for allowing the “Alabama”
to be fitted up in a British port, and allowing her to escape. The
adoption of these “three rules” unquestionably gave the United States
great advantage and made, it nearly certain that the case would be
adjudicated in their favor. But the opposition in England steadily held
that the “three rules” that were made the basis of the arbitration
were not justified by the requirements of international law. This view
has since been held by many prominent publicists, American as well as
European. The rules are of at least questionable advantage, and have
not been assented to by any other powers than England and the United
States. The result of the arbitration, which was held at Geneva in 1871
and 1872, was to award “the sum of $15,500,000 in gold as the indemnity
to be paid by Great Britain to the United States for the satisfaction
of all claims referred to the consideration of the tribunal.” The
treaty and the award are printed at length in Cushing’s “Treaty of
Washington,” pp. 257–280. What made England willing to adopt the “three
rules” for the sake of speedily reaching a final settlement, was the
condition of affairs in Europe. In case England had become involved in
war, her commerce would have been at the mercy of American privateers.
But the treaty and the award were very unpopular in England. Mr.
McCarthy (iv., 347) says: “What most of the English people saw was
that England had been compelled, in homely phrase, to ‘knuckle down’
to America.” This unpopularity of the measure and the good use made of
it by Lord Beaconsfield had not a little to do with bringing on the
downfall of Gladstone’s government.

NOTE 64, p. 272.—Reference is here made to the so-called “indirect
claims” which the United States Government insisted on having
considered by the Arbitrators, but which the English as strenuously
refused to submit. The claim was in substance that the “Alabama” and
other cruisers had not only directly destroyed much of our commerce,
but had indirectly prolonged the war, and that for this prolongation
the United States should be paid. Though this doctrine was presented in
the so-called “American Case,” which, as Beaconsfield amusingly says,
was translated into all languages and sent into all European courts,
it was not formally objected to until the Arbitrators met at Geneva.
The question there seemed likely to bring arbitration abruptly to an
end. But finally the Arbitrators, in an informal manner, declared that
“in case the indirect claims _should_ come before them, they should be
obliged to reject them,” whereupon the Americans said that all they
insisted on was a _decision_, not necessarily a decision in their
favor. The difficult question thus happily disposed of, other matters
were settled with substantial unanimity.

NOTE 65, p. 275.—It is not difficult to understand the great influence
of passages like this in stirring the national feeling of Great
Britain. Lord Beaconsfield knew how to move the British heart as no
other modern statesman except Palmerston has done.

NOTE 66, p. 288.—In 1879 the people of England were confronted with
problems which a long succession of good harvests had caused them
to forget. The failure of four successive crops had brought about
unexampled distress. The cry for protection was revived, and in the
spring of 1879 was brought in various forms before Parliament. Lord
Beaconsfield, the Prime-Minister, in a succession of quite remarkable
speeches, took the ground that “the country had settled the question in
another generation,” and that the distress was not to be relieved by a
return to the former policy. Among other interesting things shown by
the Prime-Minister, was the fact that the loss to the nation from bad
harvests had been in four years not less than about 80,000,000 pounds
sterling.—Beaconsfield’s “Speeches,” i., 327.

NOTE 67, p. 289.—Mr. Gladstone’s praise of Mr. Playfair’s
qualifications was not extravagant. Playfair first became eminent as
a chemist, having been a successful student under Liebig at Giessen,
and subsequently Professor of Chemistry in the Royal Institution at
Manchester and in the University of Edinburgh. In 1844 he was appointed
chairman of a commission to examine into the sanitary condition
of English towns, and in 1851 was sent by the government into the
manufacturing districts to prepare a classification of the various
objects of industry. At the World’s Exposition he was placed in charge
of the department of jurors, and so well did he perform his work
that at the next World’s Exposition, in 1862, he was entrusted with
the selection of the jurors, some six hundred in number, to be drawn
from the most eminent men of all countries. In 1874 he prepared the
elaborate scheme for the reorganization of the English civil service,
a work which he was well fitted to perform by reason of his labors in
1873–4 as Postmaster-General. During his visit to the United States
he delivered an important address in Boston on the civil service in
England as compared with that in the United States.

NOTE 68, p. 293.—The development of Manitoba has quite justified the
predictions of Beaconsfield, which Mr. Gladstone seemed to make light

NOTE 69, p. 297.—In the second Mid-Lothian speech, Mr. Gladstone had
spoken at length on the tenure of land and the land laws. Among other
statements, he said concerning the law of entail and settlement: “I
believe that you view that law with disapproval, as being itself one
of the most serious restraints upon the effective prosecution of the
agriculture of the country. Gentlemen, I need not dwell upon that
matter. I heartily agree with you on the point at issue. I am for
the alteration of that law. I disapprove of it on economic grounds.
I disapprove of it on social and moral grounds. I disapprove of the
relation which it creates between father and son. I disapprove of
the manner in which it makes provision for the interests of children
to be born. Was there ever in the history of legislation a stranger
expedient? * * * The law of England is wiser than the Almighty; it
improves upon Divine Providence.”—Gladstone, “Speeches in Scotland,”

NOTE 70, p. 306.—In the preceding April, Lord Bateman had moved in
Parliament “That, this House fully recognizing the benefits which would
result to the community if a system of free trade were universally
adopted, it is expedient, in all future commercial negotiations with
other countries, to advocate a policy of reciprocity between all
inter-trading nations.” The policy was opposed by Lord Beaconsfield,
because, as he said, he was convinced it was “a proposition which can
lead to no public benefit.” Lord Salisbury, the Secretary of State for
Foreign Affairs, in the course of the summer appeared to favor it.

NOTE 71, p. 315.—The first census of Great Britain was taken in 1801,
when the population was found to be as follows: England, 8,331,434;
Wales, 541,546; Scotland, 1,599,068; army and navy, 470,598; total
in Great Britain, 10,942,646. The first census in Ireland was taken
in 1813, but the returns were so imperfect as to be valueless. In
1821 Ireland had a population of 6,801,827.—Porter, “Progress of the
Nation,” 8.

NOTE 72, p. 327.—The events alluded to in this and in following
passages may be thus summarized. The war between Russia and Turkey
terminated in the treaty of San Stefano, in the spring of 1878. Turkey
had been overwhelmed by the war, and was now practically reduced to
a cipher by the treaty. In the opinion of the English Government,
Lord Beaconsfield being then in power, the interests of England in
the eastern Mediterranean were imperilled by this aggrandizement of
Russia. Russia was required by the British Government to submit the
treaty of San Stefano to a European Congress. This Russia at first
declined to do, whereupon the English Government at once moved an
address requesting the Queen to call out the Reserves. This vigorous
measure was at once followed by the still more decisive step of
bringing up a division of the British army in India to the island of
Malta. The right of the crown to employ Indian troops in European war
was questioned, and gave rise to animated debate; but the measure was
at least successful on diplomatic grounds. Russia at once lowered her
pretensions, and arrangements were soon made for a General Congress
at Berlin, in June of 1878, where the interests of Great Britain were
represented by Lord Beaconsfield and Lord Salisbury. The result of the
Congress was a modification of the treaty of San Stefano, by which
the independence of Turkey was once more restored, and the dependent
provinces were put on a substantial footing. The outcome was regarded
as a great diplomatic triumph of Lord Beaconsfield. The agreement
between Lord Salisbury and Count Schouvaloff is treated more fully
later in the speech.

NOTE 73, p. 332.—This statement, while substantially correct, is a
little misleading. The provinces alluded to were all more or less
dependent on Turkey, and England was at no time quite willing to adopt
a military policy in their defence. Neither was any other government
of Europe, excepting Russia, and Russia was willing simply because it
opened the way for her own advance toward the south.

NOTE 74, p. 335.—In 1877, Lord Derby had resigned the post of Secretary
of State for Foreign Affairs, and had been succeeded by Lord Salisbury.

NOTE 75, p. 337.—The “needless and mischievous armaments” were the
calling out of the Reserves, and the bringing to Malta of the Indian
army. Mr. Gladstone’s adjectives can only mean that in his opinion the
Berlin Treaty was not desirable, since without the military movements
the treaty would have been impossible. The statement of the orator
as to the agreement between Salisbury and Schouvaloff is not quite
correct. There was no pretence to making a treaty or settling any
question whatever, but simply an understanding as to what England
demanded, and what she desired to submit to a Congress. After this
conference, which Mr. Gladstone criticises with so much severity,
Count Schouvaloff went to St. Petersburg, pausing at Berlin for an
interview with Prince Bismarck. At St. Petersburg he appears to have
convinced the Czar that nothing short of a submission of the question
at issue to a General Congress would satisfy England. Soon after the
Count’s return to London, the Prussian Government invited the powers
to a Congress at Berlin; and Russia not only accepted the invitation,
but agreed to submit to the powers, all the terms of the Treaty of San
Stefano. During the whole of these negotiations English public opinion
was wrought up to the most intense excitement and anxiety. The course
of the government was assailed and defended with the utmost vigor,
everybody supposing, meanwhile, that peace or war between the two great
nations hung upon the issue. In the “Ann. Reg. for 1878,” all the
official papers are given, and on pp. 40–64 is to be found an abstract
of the discussions in Parliament.

NOTE 76, p. 339.—The reader perhaps hardly needs to be reminded that
the cases were not parallel. Russia had overwhelmed her weak foe, and
now proposed to dismember her fallen enemy as a reward for her trouble.
This was not only in clear violation of the principles set down by the
Treaty of Paris in 1856, but also obnoxious to the traditional policy
of Great Britain, as held by Pitt. But neither international obligation
nor British usage offered any objection to a peaceful and voluntary
treaty between England and Turkey, by which for a just consideration
the one should cede a bit of territory to the other.

NOTE 77, p. 341.—On the 9th of November, 1879, Lord Beaconsfield, at
the Lord Mayor’s banquet, had expounded his imperial policy, and in the
course of his speech had used the words “_imperium et libertas_.” The
speech attracted great attention as an authoritative exposition of the
Prime-Minister’s views on domestic and foreign affairs.

NOTE 78, p. 344.—With this position Lord Beaconsfield would probably
have heartily agreed. He might even have asked Mr. Gladstone, “Was
it not to prevent just such aggrandizement as you condemn that we
objected to the Treaty of San Stefano, and insisted upon a Congress?”
More than that, he might have asked: “How do you reconcile your plea
for the independence of the smaller states with your denunciation of
the Congress of Berlin, brought about by ‘needless and mischievous
armaments,’ by which alone the independence of Turkey could be saved?”
To these questions Mr. Gladstone would probably have replied: “Yes; but
you ought to have accomplished all this by preventing the war between
Russia and Turkey in the beginning.” How Mr. Gladstone thought this
might have been done and ought to have been done he pointed out in the
first of the Mid-Lothian speeches, delivered at Edinburgh.

Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant
preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unbalanced
quotation marks retained.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained; occurrences of
inconsistent hyphenation have not been changed.

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