Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XIV.: bastiat—new tactics—activity in parliament—maynooth grant—private affairs. - The Life of Richard Cobden
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CHAPTER XIV.: bastiat—new tactics—activity in parliament—maynooth grant—private affairs. - John Morley, The Life of Richard Cobden 
The Life of Richard Cobden (London: T. Fisher Unwiin, 1903).
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bastiat—new tactics—activity in parliament—maynooth grant—private affairs.
There had never been any anxiety among the men of the League to stir foreign opinion. “We came to the conclusion,” Cobden said, “that the less we attempted to 1845.
His book, Cobden et la Ligue, came gradually into greater vogue as the movement grew more important, and when the hour of triumph came in England, Bastiat shared its glory in France, as one who had foreseen its importance at a time when no French newspaper had been courageous or intelligent enough to give its readers any information on a subject which was necessarily so unwelcome in a country of monopolies. Bastiat felt that the title of his book had perhaps wounded some of Cobden’s fellow-workers, and among men less strenuous and single-minded he might have been right. He defended himself by the reflection that in France, and perhaps we are not very different in England, it is necessary that a doctrine should be personified in an individual. A great movement, he said, must be summed up in a proper name. Without the imposing figure of O’Connell the agitation in Ireland would have passed without notice in the French journals. “The human mind,” he wrote to Cobden, “has need of flags, banners, incarnations, proper names; and this is more true in France than anywhere else. Who knows that your career may not excite the emulation of1845.
Bastiat was always conscious of the difference between Cobden’s gifts and his own, and nobody knew better than himself how much more fit he was for a life of speculation than for the career of an agitator. But there was no one else in France to begin the work of propagandism and the organization of opinion. Cobden told him that the movement which had been made from those below to those above in England, ought in France to proceed in the opposite course. There they would do best to begin at the top. In France in 1846 they had scarcely any railways, and they had no penny postage. They were not accustomed to subscriptions, and still less were they accustomed to great public meetings. Worse than all this, the popular interest was at that epoch turned away from the received doctrines of political economy in the direction of Communism and Fourierism. These systems spoke a language infinitely more attractive to the imagination of the common people. Bastiat, fired by Cobden’s example, set bravely to work to make converts among men of mark. Besides being a serious thinker, he had the gifts, always so valuable in France, of irony, of apt and humorous illustration, of pungent dialectic. The style and finish of the Economic Sophisms, in which he refuted the fallacies of Monopoly, are even declared to be worthy of the author of the Provincial Letters. But the movement did not prosper. At Bordeaux, indeed, where the producers of wine were eager for fresh markets, a free trade association was formed, and it throve. Elsewhere the cause made little way. Political differences ran so high as to prevent hearty co-operation on a purely economical platform. The newspapers were written by lads of twenty, with the ignorance and the 1845.
The League was now in the seventh year of its labours. In 1839 their subscriptions had only reached what afterwards seemed the modest amount of 5000l. The following year they rose to nearly 8000l. In 1843 the Council asked for 50,000l. and got it. In 1844 they asked for twice as much, and by the end of the year between 80,000l. and 90,000l. had been paid in. They were now spending 1000l. a week. In spite of the activity which was involved in these profuse supplies, the outlook of the cause was, perhaps, never less hopeful or encouraging. The terrible depression1845.
The change did not escape the acute observation of the League. They at once altered their tactics. The previous year had been devoted to agitation in the country. They now came round to the opinion that Parliament, after all, was the best place in which to agitate. “You speak with a loud voice,” said Cobden, “when you are talking on the floor of the House; and if you have anything to say that hits hard, it is a very long whip and reaches all over the kingdom.” It was in Parliament that they were best able to conduct an assault on the Monopolist citadel from a new side. They had tried in their short campaign to show the farmers themselves that Protection was no better for them than for other people. They now made a vigorous effort to bring the same thing home to the farmers’ friends in Parliament. “It gives me increased hopes,” Cobden wrote to his friend, George Combe, “to hear that you, who are a calm observer, think that we are making such rapid progress in our agitation. We who are in the whirl of it, can hardly form an opinion whether we are advancing or only revolving. But I think there are symptoms that the enemy is preparing1845.
In the midst of the general prosperity, there was one great interest which did not thrive: this was the interest of the tenant-farmer. Deputations waited upon the Prime Minister to tell him that the farmers in Norfolk were paying rent out of capital; that half the small farmers in Devonshire were insolvent, and the others were rapidly sinking to the same condition; that the agriculturists of the whole of the south of England, from the Trent to the Land’s End, were in a state of embarrassment and distress6 There was scarcely a week in which these topics did not find their way into the Parliamentary debates. Cobden brought forward a motion for a Select Committee to inquire into the causes of the alleged agricultural distress. A few nights afterwards one of the country gentlemen in the House moved a resolution for affording relief to the landed interests in the application of surplus revenue. Then came a proposal from a 1845.
“Bright did his work admirably,” says Cobden, “and won golden opinions from all men. His speech took the squires quite aback. At the morning meeting of the country members at Peel’s, to decide upon the course to be taken, the Prime Minister advised his pack not to be drawn into any discussion by the violent speech of the member for Durham, but to allow the Committee to be granted sub silentio! This affair will do us good in a variety of ways. It has put Bright in a right position—shown that he has power, and it will draw the sympathy of the farmers to the League. The latter conviction seemed to weigh heavily upon the spirits of the squires. They seemed to feel that we had put them in a false position towards their tenants, and the blockheads could not conceal their spite towards the League. I pleaded guilty for the League to all they charged us with on this score.”7
The result of these incessant challenges to the landlords and to the Ministers was a thorough sifting of the arguments, and the establishment of a perfectly clear and intelligible position. No Committee was granted, except Mr. Bright’s but discussion brought out the main facts as clearly as any Committee could have done. It became stamped on men’s minds, that while abundant food stimulated manufactures and promoted the comfort of the whole body of workmen and labourers, legislative protection was not saving, and1845.
Cobden himself helped to the result by one of the most important speeches that he ever made. “We are certainly,” he wrote to his wife, “taking more prominent ground this session than ever, and the tone of the farmers’ friends is very subdued indeed. They never open their mouths if they can help it, and then they speak in a very humble strain. I am quite in a fidget about my speech on Thursday. You will think it very strange in an old hack demagogue like me, if I confess that I am as nervous as a maid the day before her wedding. The reason is I suppose that I know a good deal is expected from me, and I am afraid I shall disappoint others as well as myself. I have sent for Mr. Lattimore, who came up and spent an evening with me, on purpose to give me a lesson about the farmers’ view of the question.”9
“I was terribly out of sorts with the task,” he said, after it was all over, “and when I got up to speak, I was all in a maze.” In fact, an intimate friend who had stood on many a platform with him, found him in the lobby, pale, nervous, and confident that he should break down in the middle of his speech. “No, you will not,” said his friend; “your nervousness convinces me that you will make a better speech 1845.
This speech should be read in connextion with the companion speech made the year before, and already referred to (p. 293). Much of Cobden’s speaking, and especially at this time, though never deficient in point and matter, was loose in its form and slipshod in arrangement. That it should be so, was unavoidable under the circumstances in which his addresses were made. These two speeches, on the contrary, show him at his best. They are models of the way in which a great case should be presented to the House of Commons, as well as admirable examples of effective selec1845.
Why are the farmers distressed? Cobden asked. Why are English farmers less successful than English manufacturers? Because they are working their trade with insufficient capital. Throughout England, south of the Trent and including Wales, the farmers’ capital is not more than five pounds an acre, whereas for carrying on the business successfully it ought to be twice as much. How is it that in a country overflowing with capital, where every other pursuit is abounding with money, when money is going to France for railways and to Pennsylvania for bonds, when it is connecting the Atlantic with the Pacific by canals, and diving to the bottom of the Mexican mines for investments, it yet finds no employment in the most attractive of all spots, the soil of this country itself? The 1845.
To the farmers Cobden had never given a probable reduction of rents as one of the reasons for repealing the Corn Law. He told them something still more important. “Though I have not promised reduction of rent,” he said, “I have, however, always maintained that with Free Trade in corn, and with moderate prices, if the present rents are to be maintained, it must be by means of a different system of managing property from that which you now pursue. You must have men of capital on your land; you must let your land on mercantile principles; you must not be afraid of an independent and energetic man who will vote as he pleases; you must give up inordinate game-preserving.”4
This was the skeleton of Cobden’s argument, and each1845.
Mr. Disraeli once said that Free Trade was not a principle, it was an expedient. In Cobden’s hands just the reverse is true; Free Trade is not an expedient; it is a principle, a doctrine, and a system. He is often charged with arguing his case too exclusively on the immediate exigencies of the situation. It was hardly possible for him to do otherwise. Neither the House of Commons nor the multitude at Covent Garden would have listened with patience to a lecture on international exchanges. But whenever he had a chance, Cobden took care to rest his argument on the importance of a free circulation in the currents of exchange. In his speech of the previous year, he had blamed Sir Robert Peel for promising cheap prices as the result of his tariff. The price of commodities, said Cobden, may spring from two causes:—a temporary, fleeting, and retributive high price, produced by scarcity; or a permanent and natural high price, produced by prosperity. The price of wool, for example, had been highest when the importation was greatest; it sprang from the prosperity of the consumers. Peel, therefore, took the “least comprehensive and statesmanlike view of his measures when he proposed to lower prices, instead of aiming to maintain them by enlarging the circle of exchange.” Prices would take care of themselves without detriment to the consumer, provided only that the stream of commodities were allowed to flow freely and without artificial interruption. (See below, vol. ii. 344.)
This important idea was probably far beyond the reach of most of Cobden’s hearers. I know there are many heads, he once said, who cannot comprehend and master1845.
It was in this session that Mr. Disraeli first opened his raking fire upon the Prime Minister. In 1842, as has been already seen (p. 239), he declared that Peel’s policy was in exact, permanent, and perfect consistency with the principles of Free Trade laid down by Mr. Pitt. But clouds had risen on the horizon since then. Things had happened which made the rising gladiator change his mind, not as to the national expediency of Free Trade, but as to the personal expediency of carrying his sword to the opposite camp. Sir Robert, soon after coming into power, observed to a friend that he knew too little of the young men of the party, and expressed a wish to know more. The friend invited him to dinner, and among the men of promise who 1845.
Yet Mr. Disraeli, who sagacity was always of far too powerful a kind to allow him to blink facts, knew very well, as he afterwards said, that practically for the moment the Conservative Government was stronger at the end of the session of 1845 than even at the commencement of the session of 1842. “If they had forfeited the hearts of their adherents, they had not lost their votes; while both in Parliament and the country they had succeeded in appropriating a mass of loose, superficial opinion, not trammelled by party ties, and which complacently recognized in their1845.
Cobden himself, however, knew exactly how things stood, and foresaw with precision how they would move. In the summer of 1845, when Parliament had found his appeal a wearisome iteration, he had before him one of those immense multitudes, such as could only be assembled, he said, in ancient Rome to witness the brutal conflicts of men, or as can now be found in Spain to witness the brutal conflicts of animals. What, he asked, 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 all afraid that this 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,” he went on, “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 Laws.”9 You cannot call statesmanship, he scornfully argued, a policy which leaves the industrial scheme of such a country as ours to stand 1845.
The great popular agitation of the year, as it happened, was caused by a measure which touched a very different kind of sensibility. This session Peel introduced the memorable proposal for the augmentation of the grant to the Catholic College at Maynooth. That laudable measure was a small detail in the policy of breaking up the old system of Ascendancy—a policy made necessary by the revolution of Catholic Emancipation, in which Peel had assisted in so remarkable a way. Unfortunately, Peel never saw, what clear-sighted men like Lord Clare saw at the time of the Union, that the tenure of land was the only real object of interest to the people to whom he had given political emancipation. His attitude in reference to the Encumbered Estates Act showed that he did not possess the key to the Irish question. But his views on the solution of the religious difficulty were thoroughly statesmanlike, so far as that particular difficulty went. Nothing that he ever did showed greater courage than the Maynooth grant; for though he carried his second reading by the enormous majority of 147, Mr. Gladstone was undoubtedly right when he reluctantly affirmed that the minority represented the prevailing sense of a great majority of the people of England and Scotland.1 The principles on which Peel defended the increased grant to Maynooth, pointed very directly towards a scheme for the endowment of the Catholic clergy. It was for this reason, among others, that Lord John Russell supported the increased grant. “The arguments,” he said, “which are so sound, and as I think so incontrovertible, for an endowment1845.
The following extracts from letters to his wife will show how Cobden passed the time from day to day, during this anxious and wearisome session:—
“London, Feb. 11, 1845.—I met Lord Howick [the 1845.
“April 11.—We are all being plagued to death with the fanatics about the Maynooth grant. The dissenters and the church people have joined together to put the screw upon the members. However, I expect that Peel will carry his measure by a large majority.”
“April 14.—We are still being very much persecuted by the fanatics; all the bigots in the country seem to be using the privilege of writing their remonstrances to me.”
“April 28.—I can’t fix the day, I am sorry to say, when I shall positively see you. There is a notice of motion standing by Lord John Russell upon the state of the labouring population, which I am almost compelled to take a part in. If I were to be absent, it would be construed into a slight on the Whig party. It stands for Friday, but I am not without hope that he may put it off till after the Whitsun holidays. I will learn his views to-morrow if I can.”
“June 19.—On Wednesday I was to speak at Covent Garden, and being confined all the day in the Committee-room, and having to prepare my speech after four o’clock, I knew I should be excused writing. I find it very difficult to get up my spirits to appear before a large audience like that at Convent Garden. Indeed I feel myself to be only acting a part, in appearing to speak with energy, hope, and confidence. I can’t go through another period such as the present session, to be harassed and annoyed as I have been in every possible way; it would kill me. I have1845.
“June 20.—Now I will give you a specimen of my day’s work. Our Committee meets at twelve and sits till four. Then the House commences, and lasts on an average till twelve. Twice last week I sat till two o’clock in the House, having been under the roof for fourteen hours. Next morning I can’t be down till nine o’clock, and scarcely have I got breakfast, and glanced at the Votes and Proceedings for the day, when I must start again for the House. You will, I think, excuse me after this, if I am not a very good correspondent.”
“June24.—There never was such a case of petty persecution as I am enduring in this Railway Committee! We have been now nearly five weeks sitting, hearing witnesses, and listening to the tedious harangues of counsel about a lot of paltry lines among the little towns and villages in Norfolk and Suffolk. I thought we should have got to the end of our work in a fortnight or three weeks, but now we are threatened with another week or ten days. And the great misfortune is, that we have no power to put any restraint upon the tongues of the counsel, who are paid in proportion to the length of time they can waste. But I have made up my mind to go down to Manchester on Friday night at any rate, although I shall be obliged to come up again on Sunday night, to be here in the Committee at twelve o’clock.”
“June 26.—The meeting at Convent Garden was as usual a bumper, but I did not think the speaking was quite up to the mark. I have had a successful motion for a 1845.
Over all these busy interests hung a heavy cloud of the gloomiest thoughts. Throughout the session Cobden’s mind had been harassed almost beyond endurance by a host of dark cares; and it is only by knowing what these amounted to, that we can measure the intensity of a devotion to public concerns which could sustain itself unabated under this galling pressure. The following extracts from letters to his brother will suffice to show us what was going on. At the end of the session of 1844, he had allowed a groan to escape him, extorted by the reports which his brother had sent him of the state of their business:—“I shall have a month or two for private business, and, Heaven knows, it is not before it is required. It is a dog’s life I am leading, and I wish I could see my way out of the collar.”3 But in the recess of 1844, as in that of the previous year, he had been speedily dragged back from his own affairs to those of the League and the country. Throughout the spring of 1845, however, things were rapidly approaching a crisis from which there seemed to be no escape:—
“April 7.—I shall certainly be down a week before the Whitsuntide holidays, so as to have at least a fortnight. The fidgets have so got possession of me that I cannot master them. For the first time I feel fairly down and dead-beaten. It is of no use writing all one feels. Entreat J. S. to work down the stock of odds and ends of cloth, and keep down everything as low as possible. And remind Charles again of the critical importance of finding something for the machinery to do in the interval between the seasons. It is of no use your writing bad news to me. I can’t help it while1845.
“April 18.—I do not see any difficulty in giving adequate attention to the business, and still retaining, ostensibly at all events, the same public position as heretofore. But whether this can be done or not, I shall of course make everything else subservient to the one point in which honour is involved. There is no doubt that our pattern department, so far as the home trade is concerned, has been a failure this spring. This is now irremediable, and it is of no use dwelling on it. But it cannot be overlooked in any estimate of the management at the works and the warehouse, and of the cause of failure.”
“May 26.—I am fixed in the Norfolk Committee to-day, and do not feel the least chance of being released for a week, and it may be a month; and for this there is no help, for if I were to leave for twenty-four hours, the Sergeant-at-Arms would be after me.”
“June 6.—I am sorry to say it is impossible for me to come down even for a day. Our Committee have determined to sit on Saturdays, and the rule of the House precludes me from being absent even for an hour. God only knows when this odious Committee will come to a close. If you should wish to say anything about money-matters, write to me. If you want a little temporary assistance, pray see Mr. —, and give him a message from me to the effect that I shall feel obliged if he will try to get a few thousand pounds in a similar manner to the former transaction.
“But when I come down after the Session, we must put our business upon a different footing, so as to be able to avoid troubling anybody. I would have written to —, but really, in my prominent position, it is a very delicate matter to write about. You had better, therefore, take an opportunity of seeing him privately, and pray beg him to 1845.
“June 19.—Your letters keep me on the tender-hooks, for I know not in what extremity you may be placed. I am in the same predicament as ever. The committee will in all probability last a week more. To-day we have been treated to a three hours’ speech by a counsel upon a mere fraction of the group. What makes it more difficult to escape is that the committee does not give a decision on any part until we have heard the whole, and consequently nobody not acquainted with the evidence already taken could step in to fill my place. Sir Benjamin Hall, very luckily for him, was pitched from his horse on his head the second day of our meeting, and he was excused from further attendance, and as we have nobody else in his place and as four are the quorum, we can’t proceed to business in the absence of one.”
“June 24.—I will try to put off any meeting of the committee on Saturday, so as to be able to come down on Friday night, but I shall be obliged to be in town again on Monday morning by twelve. I see no end to this tedious affair. We have an appointment for another branch to begin on Monday. The truth is, the rival schemes fight for time, in order to delay the passing of the bills during the present session. But I will at all risks come down on Friday afternoon by the express train which will land me in Manchester at ten o’clock, and I should like to have a bed at your lodgings, and there I must see John Brooks privately on the Saturday morning. I have turned the subject over in every way, and I see no other solution of it than in absolutely withdrawing myself from public life, first having secured such a promise of support from some of my friends as shall secure me from the effects of the shock. I have made up my mind to this, and shall not have a moment’s peace of mind until I have1845.
A friend of Cobden’s, who was engaged in the same business, has told me how we how he received a message one afternoon in the winter before this, that Cobden wished to see him. He went over to the office in Mosley Street, and found him on the edge of dark sitting with his feet on the fender, looking gloomily into the languishing fire. He was evidently in great misery. Cobden had sent for him to seek his advice how to extricate himself from the difficulties in which his business had become involved. They summoned a second friend to their sombre councils. There was no doubt either of the seriousness of the position or of the causes to which it was due. His business, they told him, wanted a head. If he persisted in his present course, nothing on earth could keep him from ruin. He must retire from public life, and must retire from it without the loss of a day. Cobden struggled desperately against the sentence. The battle, he said, was so momentous, and perhaps so nearly won. One of his counsellors asked him how he could either work or rest with a black load like this upon his mind. “Oh,” said Cobden, “when I am about public affairs I never think of it; it does not touch me; I am asleep the moment my head is on the pillow.”
A few months later the difficulty could no longer be evaded. In September Cobden, at the cost of anguish which we may imagine, came to the terrible resolution to give up public affairs. He wrote a letter, describing his position and the resolve to which it had driven him, to the friend who had for four unresting years been his daily comrade and fellow-soldier, and whose mere presence at his side, he 1845.
September 20th, 1845.
“My dear Cobden,—I received your letter of the 15th yesterday evening, on my arrival here. Its contents have made me more sad than I can express; it seems as if this untoward event contained within it an affliction personal for myself, great public loss, a heavy blow to one for whom I feel a sincere friendship, and not a little of danger to the great cause in which we have been fellow-labourers.
“I would return home without a day’s delay, if I had a valid excuse for my sisters who are here with me. We have now been out nearly three weeks, and may possibly be as much longer before we reach home; our plan being pretty well chalked out beforehand, I don’t see how I can greatly change it without giving a sufficient reason. But it does not appear needful that you should take any hasty step in the matter. Too much is at stake, both for you and for the public, to make any sudden decision advisable. I may therefore be home in time for us to have some conversation before anything comes before the public. Nothing of it shall pass my lips, and I would urge nothing to be done till the latest moment, in the hope that some way of escape may yet be found. I am of opinion that your retirement would be tantamount to a dissolution of the League; its main spring would be gone. I can in no degree take your place.1845.
“Be assured that in all this disappointment you have my heartfelt sympathy. We have worked long and hard and cordially together; and I can say most truly that the more I have known of you, the more have I had reason to admire and esteem you, and now when a heavy cloud seems upon us, I must not wholly give up the hope that we may yet labour in the good cause until all is gained for which we have striven. You speak of the attempts which have been made to raise the passion which led to the death of Abel, and to weaken us by destroying the confidence which was needful to our successful co-operation. If such attempts have been made, they have wholly failed. To help on the cause, I am sure each of us would in any way have led or followed; we held our natural and just position, and hence our success. In myself I know nothing that at this moment would rejoice me more, except the absence of these difficulties, than that my retirement from the field could in any way maintain you in the front rank. The victory is now in reality gained, and our object will before very long be accomplished; but it is often as difficult to leave a victory as to gain it, and the sagacity of leaders cannot be dispensed with while anything remains to be done. Be assured I shall think of little else but this distressing turn 1845.
“I have written this letter under feelings to which I have not been able to give expression, but you will believe that
I am, with much sympathy and esteem,
Your sincere friend,
The writer, however, felt the bad tidings lying too heavily on him to be able to endure inaction. A day or two later Mr. Bright changed his plans and hastened southwards. Helpful projects revolved in his mind, as he watched the postboys before him pressing on through the steaming rain. When he reached Manchester, he and one or two friends procured the sum of money which sufficed to tide over the emergency. For the moment Cobden was free to return to the cause which was now on the eve of victory.
Cobden to Mr. Van der Maeren. Oct 5, 1858.
Dec. 1845. Œuv. i. 117.
Bastiat to Cobden. Mar. 20, and April 20, 1847. OElig;uv. i. 156–9.
At a meeting held in Oldham, a workman got up in the body of the hall. He had been thinking, he said, on the subject of the Corn Laws for twenty years; as there was no possibility that he should ever see Sir Robert Peel, as he never came down into that neighbourhood, and as he, the speaker, could not bear the expense of a journey to London, he begged Mr. Cobden to convey to the Prime Minister the following train of thought—“When provisions are high, the people have so much to pay for them that they have little or nothing left to buy clothes with; and when they have little to buy clothes with, few clothes are sold; and when there are few clothes sold, there are too many to sell; and when there are too many to sell they are very cheap; and when they are very cheap, there cannot be much paid for making them; and consequently the manufacturing working man’s wages are reduced, the mills are shut up, business is ruined, and general distress is spread through the country. But when as now the working man has the said 25s. [the fall in the price of wheat] left in his pocket, he buys more clothing with it, ay, and other articles of comfort too, and that increases the demand for them, and the greater the demand, you know, makes them rise in price, and the rising in price enables the working man to get higher wages and the master better profits. This therefore is the way I prove that high provisions make lower wages, and cheap provisions make higher wages.”—Quoted in Cobden’s Speeches, i. 251.
To George Combe. London, Feb. 23, 1845.
Cobden;s Speeches, i. 261.
To Mr. George Wilson. London, Feb. 28, 1845.
Speeches, i. 290.
To Mrs. Cobden. March 11, 1845.
To Mrs. Cobden. March 14, 1845.
In the course of his speech Mr. Sidney Herbert said that it was very distasteful to him, as a member of the agricultural body, to be always coming to Parliament “whining for protection.” The expression was unlucky, and gave Mr. Disraeli the hint for one of his most pungent sallies. The agriculturists, he said, referring to Peel’s inconsistencies, must not contrast too nicely the hours of courtship with the moments of possession. “There was little said now about the gentlemen of England; when the beloved object has ceased to charm, it is vain to appeal to the feelings. Instead of listening to their complaints, he sends down his valet, a well-behaved person, to make it known that we are to have no ‘whining’ here. Such is the fate of the great agricultural interest; that beauty which everybody wooed, and one deluded.”
Speeches, i. 264–5.
Speeches, i. 402–3. March 8, 1849.
Speeches, i. 382. Some extremely interesting supplementary criticisms on Cobden’s view of the effects of Protection on agricultural interests are to be found in Mr. Fawcett’s Free Trade and Protection, pp. 37–47.
Speeches, i. 383. Feb. 27, 1846.
Lord George Bentinck, p. 221.
Life of Bentinck, p. 7.
Speeches, i. 292, 299.
Mr. Gladstone had resigned the office of President of the Board of Trade at the beginning of the Session, on the rather singular ground that while he approved of the Maynooth grant and was going to support it, he had once written a book in which a different view of the proper relations between State and Church had been laid down. “As a general rule, those who have borne solemn testimony on great constitutional questions, ought not to be parties to proposing a material departure from them.”
April 18, In twenty-five years Cobden and Mr. Bright only went twice into different lobbies. This was one occasion. The other concerned the expenditure at South Kensington. Cobden as a Commissioner for the Great Exhibition supported Prince Albert’s policy.
To F. W. Cobden. Leamington, 8th August, 1844.