Front Page Titles (by Subject) September 1825 to October 1828 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXII - Newspaper Writings December 1822 - July 1831 Part I
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September 1825 to October 1828 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXII - Newspaper Writings December 1822 - July 1831 Part I 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXII - Newspaper Writings December 1822 - July 1831 Part I, ed. Ann P. Robson and John M. Robson, Introduction by Ann P. Robson and John M. Robson (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986).
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September 1825 to October 1828
The letter, dated 15 Sept. (with an additional paragraph oddly inserted in a leading article, Morning Chronicle, 22 Sept., 1825, p. 2), responds to two leading articles in the Morning Chronicle, 7 Sept., p. 2, and 14 Sept., p. 2 (and probably also to “Absenteeism,” a letter signed “A,” that appeared in the Morning Chronicle, 12 Sept., p. 4), all critical of John Ramsay McCulloch’s evidence in “Fourth Report from the Select Committee Appointed to Inquire into the State of Ireland,” PP, 1825, VIII, 807-38. McCulloch (1789-1864), the Scottish economist and statistician, was closely allied to the Philosophic Radicals at this time. Headed as title, subheaded “To the Editor of the Morning Chronicle,” the letter is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A letter on Absenteeism, signed J.S. which appeared in the Chronicle of 16 September 1825” (MacMinn, p. 7); the additional paragraph is not there mentioned.
In several of your recent Papers you have combated the opinion expressed by Mr. M’Culloch in his evidence, concerning the effect of the expenditure of Irish absentees on the prosperity of that country from which their incomes are drawn.1 As I agree almost in every particular with Mr. M’Culloch, and think that the arguments which you have urged against him are fallacious, and that the notions which they inculcate are as pernicious as they are, unhappily, common, I submit to your well-known candour the following statement of my reasons for dissenting from your conclusion.
The income of a landlord, like any other income, may be expended in two ways; in the hiring of labourers, or, in the purchase of commodities. In point of fact, it is expended partly in the former way, and partly in the latter; but in one or other of these ways it must be expended, if it be expended at all, unless, indeed, it were given away.
Now I admit that in so far as the income of the landlord is expended in the hiring of labourers, whether these are employed in building a house, in digging a garden, in making or keeping a park, in shooting Catholics or poachers, in washing dishes, or in blacking shoes; to that extent it does give employment to a certain number of persons who would be thrown out of employment if the landlord were to go abroad, and consequently tends to keep wages somewhat higher, or to enable a somewhat larger population to be maintained at the same wages, than would be the case if he were to live in London or Paris, and employ English or French labourers for the above purposes, instead of Irish.
What I do not admit is, that (in so far as his income is expended, not in the hiring of labourers, but in the purchase of commodities,) it has the slightest tendency to keep wages higher, or to give employment to as much as one labourer more, than if he were living at the antipodes: nor do I believe that (in so far as this part of his expenditure is concerned) as much as one man would be thrown out of employment, if every resident landlord in the island were to go abroad, or to send abroad for every article which he had a mind to consume.
If the landlord remained in Ireland, he would (we shall suppose) eat Irish bread and beef, wear Irish shirts and breeches, sit on Irish chairs, and drink his wine off an Irish table. Now, then, I will put a case:—Suppose that he goes to London, leaving directions behind him that all the bread and beef which he would have eaten, all the shirts and breeches which he would have worn, all the chairs which he would have sat upon, and all the tables off which he would have drank his wine, should be regularly sent to him in London. You will not deny, I suppose, that he would give just as much employment to Irish labour as if he had consumed all these articles in the true orthodox way, close to the doors of the very people who produced them.
It would puzzle you, I think, to discover any error in this proposition, or to shew any difference which it can make to the Irish producers, provided they supply the commodities, whether they are consumed on the spot, or at a thousand miles distance. I would advise you to ponder well, however, before you admit this; since you will find, if you do admit it, that you have conceded the whole question.
In fact, this case, which I have put as an imaginary one, exactly corresponds in every thing that is material to the purpose, with the actual state of the facts. The Irish do not, indeed, always send the identical bread, beef, chairs, tables, &c. which the landlord would have consumed on the spot, to be consumed by him in the foreign country; but they either send those very articles, or, what comes to the same thing, they send other articles of exactly the same value. Some readers will say (I do not impute to yourself such a degree of ignorance) that they do not send goods, but money; to which my answer is short—if they sent any money, they could not send much, because Ireland has no gold and silver mines, and, therefore, cannot continue to export money to one place, without getting it back again from another. Every body knows that if a quantity of the precious metals is exported, unless its place is supplied by paper, it always comes back again. In point of fact, however, every body who knows any thing about the way in which the matter is actually managed, knows that no money whatever is sent. The landlord’s steward sends over to him a Bill of Exchange, drawn upon a mercantile house; and the drawer of the bill sends over a quantity of goods to the drawee, to meet the bill when it becomes due.
It appears, therefore, conclusively, that the only difference between the expenditure of the resident landlord, and that of the absentee, is this: the one buys, let us say, a thousand pounds worth of Irish goods, every year on the spot; the other has a thousand pounds worth of Irish goods every year sent to him. Perhaps you may be able to discover some great difference which this makes to the capitalists and labourers in Ireland. Perhaps you may—but if you can, you can do more than I can.
This error (for unless the above argument be incorrect, you must give me leave so to denominate your opinion) appears to me to be a relic of the now exploded mercantile system; of that system, from which emanated those wise prohibitions of the importation of foreign commodities, which might have remained to this day monuments of ancestorial wisdom upon our statute-book, had not Mr. Huskisson been somewhat wiser than that Hibernian genius, whose lucubrations you honoured yesterday by a place in your columns.2 The theory on which these sage regulations were founded, was exactly the same with that which this declaimer and yourself maintain in opposition to Mr. M’Culloch. By consuming foreign commodities, you employ foreign labour; by consuming British commodities, you employ British labour. What Englishman, then, it was triumphantly asked, can be so lost to patriotism as to lay out that money upon foreigners, which might have helped to enrich his native country? Admirably argued, truly; one thing, however, which these sagacious reasoners did not advert to, was, that, in buying foreign commodities, you are giving just the same employment to British labour as if you laid out your whole income in commodities of home growth; you are giving employment, namely, to that labourer which was employed in making the British commodities, with which the foreign commodities, that you consume, were bought.
The case of the man who has French goods sent to him in Ireland, and that of the man who goes himself and consumes them at Paris, are precisely similar. If the one be criminal, so must the other be. If the absentee landlord be an enemy to his country, so is every resident landlord who expends a shilling upon any article that is not produced—I was going to say in Ireland—but even on his own estate; and just in proportion to the number of shillings which he so spends, in that same proportion is the mischief which he does. We ought, therefore, if this notion be correct, not only to reimpose upon commerce all the shackles which Ministers have earned such high and such deserved praise for taking off, but we ought to do, what I suppose no Government ever did, prohibit absolutely all foreign, not to say all internal trade. Such is, perhaps, the wise course that we should pursue, if the councils of the nations were taken out of the hands of his Majesty’s Ministers, and placed in those of a set of declaimers, who either are desirous to mislead, or whose incurable ignorance renders them just as mischievous as if they were.
I am not so unjust, Sir, as to confound you with such as these; and I regret the more that you should have given your powerful support to an opinion so utterly inconsistent with those principles of political economy which you habitually maintain; an opinion which has had, as I believe, so great a share in blinding the public to the real causes of the evils by which Ireland is afflicted.
I remain, Sir, your’s, with the greatest respect,
What feeds the journeyman tailors, who make the landlord’s coat, is not the rent of the landlord, but the capital of the master tailor; and if the landlord’s rent were all thrown into the sea, the capital of the tailor would remain, and would employ, if not as many tailors, as many labourers of some sort as it did before.—What employs labourers is capital. More income, unless saved, and added to capital, employs nobody; except menial servants. Ireland has just the same capital when her landlords live in Paris as when they live in Dublin. She, therefore, employs as many labourers, except menial servants, as above.
BLUNDERS OF THE TIMES
This letter, Mill’s only one to the New Times (which he calls “a Tory paper” in No. 41), is also his first to a newspaper editor for almost two years. The New Times frequently criticized The Times (which it often called “The Old Times”); see, e.g., 24 May, 1827, p. 2, and 31 May, p. 3. Mill’s letter, headed “To the Editor of the New Times,” is described in his bibliography as “A letter on the blunders of the ‘Times’ newspaper which app. in the New Times of 6th June 1827, signed A.B.”
(MacMinn, p. 8).
Having frequently admired the happy irony with which you expose the profound ignorance and ludicrous self-importance of the Times, I address to you a few lines on the new specimen which it has recently afforded of these qualities.
In one of its late articles, it is pleased to place under the ban of its censure, persons, whom it designates, with characteristic elegance of language, as “those louts and coxcombs united, the landlords, and political economists.”
The poor farmers, [it adds,] have been dragooned into all these petitions against the new Corn Bill, for the mere purpose of keeping up rents, by those two factions of men, whom we above cited; the one, duller than the earth they tread; and the other, a mere batch of fantastical coxcombs, incapable of attaining literature, or fathoming science; and, therefore, distorting and sophisticating common sense, by every kind of paradox and extravagance.1
Leaving, Sir, the defence of the landlords in your hands, which are much more capable of doing it justice than mine, I request your attention to the following sentence, extracted from the very next paragraph to that of which I have already quoted the conclusion:
We are well assured, that there is no resting place for our feet; there is no firm principle upon which our commercial pre-eminence can be based, or even the landed community rest free from shocks, but the unrestricted and untaxed circulation of all the necessaries of life, both for man and beast, throughout the world; and to this point we hope our steps are tending.
I now submit two questions, not to the Editor of the Times, but to every man, who is capable of being disgusted by insolent and ignorant charlatanerie.
1. Here is the Times, professing itself a determined partisan of the most extreme of all the extreme opinions, which were ever maintained by ultra-political economists on the Corn Laws, and, in the same breath, declaring, that the political economists are “fantastical coxcombs,” “louts and coxcombs united,” for professing the same opinion on the same subject. I ask, then, is not that Journal admirably qualified for the office of a public instructor, which ridicules men for their opinions without knowing that their opinions are the same with its own?
My other question is, whether the accusation of being “incapable of fathoming science” does not come with an admirable grace from the Journal, which, only a few months ago, expressed the utmost surprise that the expectation of a war should have depressed the Funds?2 That the expected creation of an immense quantity of new Stock, by new Loans, should lower the price of the Stock already in existence, was too recondite a truth for this sage, who, nevertheless, thinks himself entitled to trancher du maître, and denounce others as ignorant of science!
Your Constant Reader,
THE INHABITANTS OF QUEENBOROUGH
This letter and its enclosed £1 were elicited by “Meeting of the Inhabitants of Queenborough,” The Times, 26 Dec., 1827, p. 3, in which a subscription was suggested. On 27 Dec., p. 3, The Times printed three letters with subscriptions, with an editorial note saying a responsible gentleman would distribute the money. The Times’ account of the long-lasting distress of the fishing town in the Isle of Sheppy, Kent, emphasized the restrictions on the trade enacted by the ruling “select body,” the kind of closed corporation to which the Philosophic Radicals strongly objected. The letter, Mill’s first to The Times, is headed as title, subheaded “To the Editor of The Times,” and described in his bibliography as “A letter on the Queenborough case, inclosing a subscription for the inhabitants of Queenborough, signed Ph., in the Times of 28th December 1827”
(MacMinn, p. 8).
I shall feel obliged by your consenting to be the depositary of the enclosed subscription, towards an object which a nation, which makes greater pretension to humanity than any other will not, I trust, disgrace itself by neglecting—the relief of the ruined and destitute inhabitants of Queenborough, whose misery is so affectingly depicted in your paper of Wednesday.
But if it be a duty to relieve the miserable, the punishment of those who have rendered them so is a still more imperative one. And the 1l. herewith transmitted shall cheerfully be increased to 10l., so soon as any practicable course shall be entered upon to effect that righteous purpose.
Can it be endured that proprietary rights, on which thousands depended as their sole means of support, should be seized by a self-elected body of seven persons, under pretence that the common property of the corporation is their property—that they, the trustees, the depositaries, the executive officers, the servants of the burgesses, have a right to say to their masters, “Go and starve”? Is it to be borne, that when those whom a court of law has declared to have a right to employment in the fisheries, are compelled by starvation to sue for it as a favour, they should be told, with an oath, by one of their magistrates, that he would never give them any employment while breath was in his body, or tauntingly exhorted to go and ask employment of him for whom they had voted? Can Englishmen suffer this, and listen without a blush to the congratulations of foreigners on the felicity with which our Constitution has reconciled the apparently conflicting advantages of freedom and law? No, Sir, I cannot persuade myself that the means of enforcing their right will be withheld from these unfortunate people by a nation which maintains more charitable institutions than all the rest of the world taken together. Our countrymen, whatever may be their faults, have rarely forgotten their reverence for the two great blessings of human life—liberty and property. And will they tamely suffer the whole population of a considerable town to be illegally deprived of the one as a punishment for their inflexible constancy in adhering to the other?
Received a pound [Editor].
NEW MINISTERIAL PUBLICATIONS
These satirical comments (see also Nos. 38, 39, and 40) were prompted by the actions of the Tory ministry formed in January 1828 by Arthur Wellesley (1769-1852), the 1st Duke of Wellington, a target of Radical criticism. The unsigned article is Mill’s first contribution to the Morning Chronicle since September 1825. It is headed as title and described in his bibliography as “A squib on the Wellington ministry, headed New Publications—and two following paragraphs in the Morning Chronicle of 31st May 1828” (MacMinn, p. 9). A printer’s rule (here reproduced) appears in the Morning Chronicle after the 9th paragraph; it is followed by three further paragraphs. Assuming that the entry in the bibliography is accurate, we have excluded the final paragraph from the text, but included it in a footnote.
it is currently reported, that the Duke of Wellington, having become sensible of the detriment which his new Ministry is likely to sustain in public estimation, from the vulgar prejudice, that none except men of talents and information are qualified to administer the affairs of the State, has resolved to establish an office for the publication and distribution of works of a practical character, suited to the composition of the Ministry, and to the exigencies of the times. Doctor Croker being the only Member of the New Administration who can write,1 has undertaken the office of correcting the press; and the following works are confidently announced as shortly about to appear:—
The Dunce’s Manual, or Politics made level with the meanest Capacity: For the use of elderly Gentlemen appointed Cabinet Ministers at a short notice.
Bob Short’s Rules for Governing a State, whereby the whole Science of Government may be learned in a quarter of an hour, without hindrance of amusements, or knowledge of a bookseller.2
The Inutility of Ideas to Public Men, Stated and Exemplified: being an attempt to prove that none but persons totally ignorant of public affairs are competent to administer them. Under the immediate patronage of the Lords of the Treasury, and the three Secretaries of State.
A new edition of Erasmus’s Moriae Encomium, or Praise of Folly:3 with portraits of the New Ministers, beautifully engraven on brass, by George Cruikshank,4 and an Appendix, shewing the peculiar applicability of the author’s Principles to the Government of the British Empire.
Murray’s First Book for Statesmen: Being a Compendious Treatise on the Cavalry Exercise, for the use of Young Members of Parliament, and Candidates for Public Employment. By Lieutentant-General Sir George Murray, K.G.H. and T.S., Col. of the 42d Foot, and Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies.5
Shoulder Arms! A Tyrtaean Poem,6 addressed to the Nobility, Gentry, and Clergy of Great Britain and Ireland. By Field-Marshal his Grace the Duke of Wellington, Drill-Serjeant to the Bench of Bishops, and to both Houses of Parliament.
Moderate Talents best fitted for Affairs of State: an Essay, shewing, from practical Experience, the Dangerousness of confiding political Employments to clever Men. Addressed to the moderately-informed. With Remarks on the unexceptionable Character of the present Administration, in this respect.—Also, by the same Author,
The Vanity of Human Learning; or, The Wonderful Worldly Wisdom of Knowing Nothing:7 wherein are set forth the manifold Advantages, in a practical Point of View, of Ignorance over Knowledge, and the Sufficiency of Reading, Writing, and the Manual Exercise, for the Education of a Cabinet Minister. With a comparative View of Mr. Canning, and the Duke of Wellington, Mr. Huskisson, and Sir George Murray, Turgot, and Sir Thomas Gooch:8 shewing the extreme Ignorance of the latter Statesmen, and calling upon all Persons of moderate Intellect to support them.
On the occasion of a recent schism in the Ministry,9 the Duke of Wellington is reported to have said, “There shall be but one head to my Administration.” Dr. Croker, who was accidentally present, was heard to mutter, “Fait, and sure now, that won’t be your Grace’s own, Duke dear.”
Another on dit of the day is, that in the course of the late Cabinet disputes, Mr. Huskisson formally accused Messrs. Dawson and Goulburn10 of a conspiracy to set the Thames on fire—which those Gentlemen indignantly denied, protesting that all their friends could avouch them to be altogether incapable of such a proceeding.11
ADVERTISEMENTS FREE OF DUTY
The second of Mill’s short satiric attacks on the Wellington ministers (see Nos. 37, 39, and 40), this item is described in his bibliography as “Another squib on the same subject, headed Advertisements Free of Duty, in the Morning Chronicle of 3d June 1828”
(MacMinn, p. 9).
wanted immediately, a person qualified to teach Arithmetic with rapidity. The advertiser is desirous to proceed as far as Long Division. Expedition is indispensable, the Budget being positively fixed for this month.—Apply to H. Goulburn, at the Treasury, Whitehall.
To the Right About Face; or, Decision. A Farce, in one act, recently performed with unqualified success at the Theatre Royal, Downing-street; the principal characters by the Duke of Wellington and Mr. Huskisson; with the words of the original Laughing Cantata, executed at the conclusion of the performance by Mr. Peel, accompanied by Messrs. Goulburn, Herries,1 Dawson, and the remainder of the Commander-in-Chief’s band.—N.B. It is expected that on the next representation, this piece of music will be repeated by the same performer, on the other side of his mouth.
one guinea reward.—Lost or stolen, from a Cabinet of Curiosities near the Treasury, a Skull. It is extremely thick, and the eyes are so fixed in it, as to be unable to see beyond the length of the nose. It is also remarkably soft to the touch, and the organ of place is very strongly developed. It is entirely empty, and of no use to any person, except the owner. The reward offered, greatly exceeds the value of the article, as the owner having recently been appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, cannot conveniently do without it.
[Advertisement.]2 —In consequence of the repeated complaints against divided Cabinets, Wellington, Cabinet-maker to his Majesty, has the honour to inform the Nobility and Gentry, that after several unsuccessful experiments, he has at length succeeded in constructing one which is all of a piece. This excellent article of furniture is entirely cut out of the old block, and is composed of pure logwood, without the slightest mixture of any other material, except in the facing, which is of brass. One trial will prove the fact.—Exhibited daily at St. Stephen’s Chapel, Westminster.3 Doors open at Three in the afternoon, begin at Four. Seats may be procured at Gatton and Old Sarum, or of Messrs. Hertford and Lonsdale, House Agents, next door to the premises.4
DR. CROKER’S OPINION
This brief satire on the Wellington ministry (see Nos. 37, 38, and 40), headed “Doctor Croker’s Opinion on the Cause of the Late Ministerial Dispute,” is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A third short squib on the same subject in the same paper of 4th June consisting of two paragraphs, beginning, Dr. Croker’s opinion on the cause of the late ministerial dispute”
(MacMinn, p. 9).
doctor croker’s opinion on the Cause of the Late Ministerial Dispute.—Sorrow a bit could he understand how the payple could so desayve themselves, as to fancy that his Grace, dare cratur, was no arithmetician. Sure it was himself that was mad with Mr. Huskisson, about nothing in life, barring that he couldn’t tache him a lesson of cyphering, by Jasus!
Report says, that Sir George Murray, the new Colonial Secretary, yesterday presented the Duke of Wellington with a handsome copy of his English Spelling Book,1 accompanied by a note, recommending to the Duke’s particular attention that part which treats of letters, it appearing, from recent transactions, that his Grace cannot at present understand them.2
ANOTHER OPINION OF DR. CROKER’S
The final satire in this series on the Wellington ministry (see Nos. 37, 38, and 39) is an unheaded paragraph described in Mill’s bibliography as “A fourth short squib, on the same subject in the same paper of 5th June, only one paragraph concerning Dr. Croker”
(MacMinn, p. 10).
some person having expressed his surprise that any Minister should have thought of placing the finances of the State under the charge of Mr. George Dawson and of Mr. Goulburn, it being extremely problematical whether those gentlemen had been sufficiently successful in their arithmetical studies, to admit of their being pronounced well-grounded in the multiplication table, Dr. Croker replied, that “He couldn’t spake, any how, consarning that same; but it was themselves that were nate lads at a division, by St. Patrick.”
COMPENSATION TO THE SHOPKEEPERS ON THE APPROACHES TO LONDON BRIDGE
This article is Mill’s contribution to the public controversy (see, e.g., The Times, 10 Sept., p. 3, 11 Sept., p. 3, 17 Sept., pp. 3-4, 23 Sept., p. 3, 2 Oct., p. 3) over a proposal that was enacted as 10 George IV, Private Acts, c. 136 (1829). The expensive and potentially litigious proposal was opposed by the small tradesmen of the area, which included Fish Street Hill; Mill contrasts their position with that of the wealthy of Grosvenor Square in the West End, remote from this governmental interference with the rights of property. The unsigned, unheaded leading article is Mill’s only contribution to the British Traveller. It is described in his bibliography as “A leading article in the British Traveller of 27th September [sic] 1828 on the question of compensation to the shopkeepers on the approaches to London Bridge”
(MacMinn, p. 10).
the approaches to the new london bridge are every day becoming the subject of increased discussion. Perhaps if in deciding upon this point, nothing were requisite to be taken into the account except public convenience, it would have been disposed of in a more summary manner. But it seems that in this, as in so many other projects of improvement, a consideration has intruded itself, which, under our national institutions, and with our national modes of thinking, is apt to be esteemed far more important than public convenience, and this is, the convenience of particular individuals.
Nobody, in this or in any other country, is so impudent as to say, that his individual interest ought to be attended to first, and the public interest afterwards. But instead of one man, put the case that there are two or three score, much more if there be two or three hundred, and what no one of them would have the face to claim for himself, every man among them will boldly demand for himself and company.
If nobody felt and acted in this manner, except the grocers and cheesemongers of Fish street hill, no doubt it would be very justly considered a flagrant enormity. If, however, these shopkeepers are only following the admired and applauded example of their betters, it might be expected that what is thought very proper and patriotic in those betters, would hardly be stigmatized as unjust and selfish in them. We were therefore surprised to find an attempt made, in a recent number of a Tory paper, to hold up these respectable persons to public disapprobation, because they, too, thought it proper to stand up for the interests of their “order.”1
But there is a distinction running through the whole frame of English society, which, when it is fully seized, explains no small quantity of what would otherwise appear altogether enigmatical in the workings of that society. Fielding describes Bridewell as “that house where the inferior sort of people may learn one good lesson, viz.—respect and deference to their superiors, since it must show them the wide distinction fortune intends between those persons who are to be corrected for their faults, and those who are not.”2 The New Times, in its animadversions upon the Fish street hill shopkeepers, intends, no doubt, to read them a similar lesson; to put them in mind of the wide distinction which our institutions intend between those who are to have their interest preferred to the general interest, and those who are not.
There is no other country in the world, says the New Times, in which the best avenues to such a structure as London Bridge would be rejected, for fear of affecting the paltry interests of a few shopkeepers. We hope not; and we hope, likewise, that there is no other country in the world in which the public would be taxed ten or twelve millions in the price of their bread, and exposed to incessant vicissitudes of glut and famine, for fear of affecting the paltry interests of a few landlords.3 We are sure that there is no other country in which a bill, such as the County Courts’ Bill, for extending the benefits of an administration of justice to the largest portion of the people, to whom at present it may be said, with scarcely any exaggeration, to be altogether inaccessible, would be rejected year after year by the legislature on the avowed ground, that it would affect the paltry interests of Lord Ellenborough, and two or three other holders of law sinecures.4
It was doubtless a great piece of presumption in the persons whom the New Times reprehends, to imagine that what might be proper and commendable in so exalted a personage as Lord Ellenborough, was allowable in persons who were no better than shopkeepers, and who lived in no other street than Fish street hill. If the proposed approaches had encroached upon a Nobleman’s park, or had passed so much as within a quarter of a mile of his game preserves, it is probable that we should have heard another story about paltry interests. But it is a mistake, to suppose that cheesemongers can have vested rights. Cheesemongers are only virtually represented. Lords and Landlords not only are actually represented, but virtually represent the Cheesemongers themselves. They may, therefore, possess vested rights: if they possess any thing which they do not like to give up, it is a vested right: and having received this name, however little they may be entitled to it, or however imperatively the public interest may require the sacrifice of it, to demand it would be to infringe upon the sacred rights of property. All this, to the New Times, is gospel: but that journal is far too acute not to seize the distinction between Fish street hill, and Grosvenor square, and to perceive, that with lawgivers as well as other men, there is all the difference in the world between doing a dishonest thing for their own interest, and doing exactly the same thing for the interest of other people.
THE BRUNSWICK CLUBS
This letter is in response to the agitations promoted by the Brunswick Clubs in opposition to Catholic Emancipation (which was enacted, to the outrage of a large section of his party, by the Duke of Wellington in 1829, 10 George IV, c. 7). The Brunswick Clubs, founded in Ireland in 1827 as an offshoot of the Orange Society, and named for the German House of Brunswick, were spreading rapidly in England in the autumn of 1828 under the active patronage of the Duke of Cumberland (1771-1851), fifth son of George III. The agitation reached a head with a large meeting on Penenden Heath, Kent, on 24 Oct., 1828, at which the attendance was variously estimated between 25,000 and 60,000. The analogy with military “musters” is in “Brunswick Agitation in the Country of Kent,” Spectator, 16 Oct., p. 247. Mill’s signature, “Lamoignon,” probably refers to Nicolas de Lamoignon (1648-1724), Intendant of Montauban, whose administration was marked by vigorous measures against the Camisards, extreme Protestants who took up arms after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The letter is headed “To the Editor of the Morning Chronicle” and is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A letter signed Lamoignon in the Morning Chronicle of 30th October 1828 on the Brunswick Clubs” (MacMinn, p. 10). For nearly two years following this letter, Mill published nothing
(see No. 43).
The “Brunswick muster,” as it is aptly denominated by your contemporary, The Spectator, has at length taken place. The party not having, as they are well aware, any great strength to boast of on the score of heads, are at least determined to let the country see how great a number of hands they can put in requisition on an emergency. Their first exploit has given, it appears, great satisfaction to their own minds. They are as elate with their triumph, as if any part of it had been due to the force of their logic, or to the brilliancy of their oratory. They hug themselves on their majority, as if the number of their votes were a proof of any thing whatever but the number of their acres. Had the Freeholders of Kent been free agents, these personages could not have raised a greater din of self-gratulation. They talk as magnificently of public opinion as if every child did not know, that all the opinion in the matter is their own opinion reflected back from their tenantry. The boast of the moment is, that the nation is with them; and the nation is every thing that is excellent and respectable, till it suits their purpose that it should be directly the reverse.
This signal respect for popular opinion, considering from what quarter it comes, is at least new. We were not always accustomed to so much deference, in certain personages, for the will of the people. Expressions of popular feeling were not deemed worthy of so much obedience when the feeling expressed was a reluctance to be starved by a bread-tax for the benefit of rent, and buried in a gaol “on suspicion of being suspected” of an encroachment upon the landlord’s monopoly of game.1 It was not respect which was felt for the voice of the nation, when it complained that the life-blood of the nation was drained from it in exorbitant taxation, to be profligately expended in affording a patrimony to the younger branches of certain families.2 There was a time when public opinion was only named to be insulted; only interfered with to be bound down and gagged. I congratulate these Lords and Gentlemen on their conversion. It is somewhat tardy; but it still is welcome. Some slight shew of external respect towards a people whose bread so many of their relations eat, is at least decent. Pity that they did not see at a somewhat earlier period the error of their ways. The country might have been spared the recollection of more than one act, which will not redound to the honour of the British Aristocracy in future ages, nor perhaps of the nation, which an Aristocracy of such a stamp could so quietly rule.
What strange destiny! By what marvellous overturning and reversing of the established relations of things have English Borough Lords given in their adhesion to the “sovereignty of the people;” and the men who cheered the declaration of the Duke of Wellington, that county meetings were a farce,3 appealed from the Duke of Wellington to a county meeting? I am not one of those who profess a sort of instinctive horror of “new lights;”4 I think little of the wisdom, and not much of the sincerity, of such horrors. But the new lights which break in upon the professed enemies of new lights appear to me an object of very well-grounded distrust. I am suspicious of those, who then first discover the value of a nation’s support, when for some immediate and momentary purpose they happen to need it. A lesson so conveniently learned, may no doubt be as conveniently forgotten, when need requires. I shall give credit to these Lords and Gentlemen for their popular principles when I behold them calling forth the people to join with them in any exalted and generous scheme of philanthropy and benevolence. But, as one of the multitude, I give these Noble Personages no thanks that I am summoned to aid them, not in giving freedom to the oppressed, or relief to the afflicted, but in silencing groans with bayonets, and wading up to the knees in the blood of six millions of my countrymen. I complain that, by these new candidates for my favour, no appeal is ever made to any but the mere grovelling and brutish part of my natural Constitution. I am little flattered when I perceive that I am never thought capable of being used for any services but those to which a wild beast would be perfectly adequate—and that my voice is never deemed worthy to be listened to in affairs of State, but when it is hoped, that swelled into rage by savage and malignant passions, it will emit sounds of hatred and ferocity against those over whom, for purposes in which I have no concern, it has been resolved to tyrannize.
But there is one consolatory assurance which may be gathered from the appeal of the Brunswick faction to the British people. The support for which they condescend to stoop so low, they assuredly need. It is unquestionably from no common necessity that they fly for help to those for whom, in the days of their pride, they have so little made a secret of their utter aversion and contempt. Perhaps, like other scornful persons before them, they have learned by experience, that very high people may need that assistance which very low people can give. They have little hope of other support, when they will throw themselves upon ours. They feel their weakness, and they feel it with mortification and rage. The feeling is excusable. It is new and strange to them as yet to find any difficulty in keeping their foot on any neck upon which it has once been planted. The loss of power is not familiar to them; it is what they have not yet learned to bear. Every sentence of the famous letter of the Duke of Newcastle betrays a deep and painful sense of humiliation.5 Ill does he brook to renounce that tone of lofty authority so natural to the Lord of five Boroughs, and descend to the unaccustomed language of complaint and solicitation. His Grace does not easily use himself to the lachrymose tone. It does not sit gracefully upon him. His first efforts in the comédie larmoyante have all the inexperienced awkwardness of a beginner.—Amidst the most piteous of his complaints, it is easy to discern how much more to his taste the Aristocratic sic volo sic jubeo would be.6 He probably would not be flattered by being told that he excites the commiseration of others; but he evidently is perfectly sincere in pitying himself.
The Ultra faction7 are driven to their last resource. It was pleasanter, it was easier to govern the country by the strong arm of power, wielded by an obedient Ministry. For twenty years this scheme of Government had succeeded to their wish; and great was their surprise when they discovered, on a sudden, that it would endure no longer. They laid the blame of this disappointment at first upon those at the helm, who, they thought, having been formerly overpraised for being useful tools, had been puffed up by self-conceit to aspire above their station, and imagine that they might venture to be tools no longer. The new and unexpected difficulty which the Ultras found in governing the country being thus satisfactorily accounted for, they cast their eyes round the circle of the trading politicians of the day, and explored who among the hacks in office, or the hacks who wished to be in office, were the most narrow-minded and illiberal, the most ignorant and inept, and the most destitute of all moral dignity and decent self-respect. Having found that which they sought—having ascertained, as they conceived, which were the individuals who, in a field where such commodities abound, united in the greatest degree all these requisites; being satisfied with the result of their search, they resolved that of these individuals, thus pricked out, their next Ministry should be composed. Accident rather than their own strength gave them the Ministry of their choice; and if jobbing for them, and truckling to them, in any ordinary mode of truckling and jobbing, would have contented them, few Administrations ever did so much, in so short a time, to justify the selection. But no Ministry dares do all, which, at the present crisis, the interests of these men require, and their tongues do not scruple to demand. They wanted a Tory Ministry; they have had their wish, and they cannot find men who do not shrink from the responsibility of a bellum internecinum8 between the soldiers on one side, and one-third part of the people on the other. Men in conspicuous stations, exposed to the public eye, who know that the opinion of mankind at least will render them personally answerable for the evils which come upon their country through their means, are not hastily or easily brought to the perpetration of a great crime, to uphold a domination which to them is of no advantage, and satiate passions which they do not share. Since, then, the Ultras can find no other instruments to do their work, they hope at least to make instruments of the people. Their last desperate shift is to terrify their own Minister with that popular voice which they had themselves taught him to despise. What portion of the people fair or foul means will procure to back them in their unhallowed enterprise, a few weeks, or at farthest a few months, will disclose. But it is at least the duty of those who detest it as it deserves not to indulge a sleepy inactivity, nor flatter themselves with the idea that, when wicked men are preparing wicked deeds, it is enough for the good to sit still and silently disapprove. What, in all nations and in all ages, has caused the successes of interested villainy, is the indifference of the well-intentioned. The remark has been often repeated,9 but it is little attended to; why? apparently because it has not been repeated enough.
I shall, perhaps, continue to address to you a few occasional remarks, as this great drama unfolds itself.
[1 ]McCulloch, “Evidence,” pp. 815, 818.
[2 ]The “Hibernian genius” identified in the Morning Chronicle’s leading article on 14 Sept. as an anonymous writer in the Dublin Evening Post, is probably William James MacNeven (1763-1841), a medical practitioner and active participant in the United Irish movement, who had been banished to the United States in 1805 but continued to be interested in Irish affairs. The many British laws giving force to the mercantilist policy were replaced in 1825 (see especially 6 George IV, cc. 105 and 107) by Huskisson, who had begun the attack in 1824 by reducing some duties (see 5 George IV, cc. 21 and 47).
[3 ]In the Morning Chronicle of 22 Sept., this paragraph is introduced: “Our correspondent J.S. has sent us the following addition to his communication:”.
[1 ]Leading article on the Corn Bill, The Times, 28 May, 1827, p. 2. “A Bill to Permit, until 1st May, 1828, Certain Corn, Meal, and Flour to Be Entered for Home Consumption,” 7 & 8 George IV (19 June, 1827), PP, 1827-28, II, 573-6, was passed by both Houses in June, and enacted as 7 & 8 George IV, c. 57 (1827).
[2 ]See “The Money Market,” The Times, 13 Mar., 1827, p. 3.
[1 ]John Wilson Croker (1780-1857), M.P. and writer of Irish origin, one of the mainstays of the Tory Quarterly Review, was a friend and adviser to Wellington, who, on acceding to power, had him sworn as a Privy Councillor.
[2 ]Bob Short was the pseudonym of the author (or authors) of such works as Twelve Short Standing Rules, for Ladies [and Gentlemen] with Short Memories, at the Game of Whist (Salisbury: Fowler, 1801); Hoyle Abridged: A Treatise on Backgammon; or, Short Rules for Short Memories (London: Allman, 1820); and Hoyle Abridged: A Treatise on the Game of Chess; or, Short Rules for Short Memories (London: Allman, 1824).
[3 ]Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536), the great humanist, friend of Thomas More, whose name is played on in the title of Moriae encomium (Paris: Gourmont, 1511), Englished as In Praise of Folly.
[4 ]George Cruikshank (1792-1878), the best-known caricaturist and engraver of the time.
[5 ]Mill is playfully conflating Lindley Murray (1745-1826), author of such well-known elementary texts as English Grammar, Adapted to the Different Classes of Learners (York: Wilson, et al., 1795) and An English Spelling Book; with Reading Lessons (London: Longman, et al., 1804), and Sir George Murray (1772-1846), general and statesman, Colonial Secretary in Wellington’s cabinet.
[6 ]Tyrtaeus, a Spartan general and poet (ca. 640 ), was known for his war-songs in the epic tradition; see Elegies of Tyrtaeus, trans. William Cleaver (London: Payne, 1761). The Morning Chronicle here reads “Tyriaean” rather than “Tyrtaean,” but the fragments of the Tyrian Annals do not suit the reference, and a printer’s error seems probable.
[7 ]Cf. The Vanity of Human Wishes (London: Dodsley, 1749), an imitation of Juvenal’s Tenth Satire by Samuel Johnson (1709-84), English poet and critic.
[8 ]Thomas Sherlock Gooch (1767-1851), M.P. for Suffolk, a supporter of Wellington and spokesman for the landed gentry. The concluding ironical “comparative View” in the subtitle reflects a common element in titles such as John Gregory’s popular A Comparative View of the State and Faculties of Man, with Those of the Animal World (London: Dodsley, 1765).
[9 ]A split in Wellington’s cabinet arose over the disfranchisement of the corrupt boroughs of Penryn and East Retford. Huskisson’s resignation as Colonial Secretary and leader of the House of Commons was followed by those of Lord Palmerston as Secretary of War, Charles Grant as President of the Board of Trade, and William Lamb (later Lord Melbourne) as Irish Secretary.
[10 ]George Robert Dawson (1790-1856) was Secretary to the Treasury; Henry Goulburn (1784-1856) was Chancellor of the Exchequer.
[11 ]The following paragraph (see the headnote to this item) concludes the article: “It has been observed, that a large proportion of the ’Squire Wrongheads, who were present at the annual bamboozlement called the Pitt Club—where fools entrapped by knaves assemble to honour (as they fancy) the memory of one who supported through life principles which they themselves now oppose with all their power—came from Essex, a county of well known vituline celebrity.” (The ultra-Tory Pitt Club was named for William Pitt [1708-78], 1st Earl of Chatham.)
[1 ]John Charles Herries (1778-1855), M.P. for Harwich (1823-41), was, like the others named, a Tory politician; Chancellor of the Exchequer (1827-Jan. 1828) in Goderich’s cabinet, he became Master of the Mint in Wellington’s. Robert Peelwas Home Secretary in Wellington’s cabinet.
[2 ]Square brackets in original.
[3 ]The House of Commons met in St. Stephen’s Chapel from 1547 until its destruction in the fire of 1834.
[4 ]Gatton and Old Sarum were the most celebrated of the corrupt “pocket” boroughs, with almost no voters (or even inhabitants). Francis Charles Seymour-Conway (1777-1842), 3rd Marquis of Hertford, controlled two boroughs; William Lowther (1787-1872), Lord Lonsdale, controlled nine.
[1 ]See No. 37, n5.
[2 ]The sarcasm here plays on the misunderstanding (intentional or not) by the Duke of a letter from Huskisson offering to resign if such an action would serve the government’s interest; he eagerly took the letter as proffering resignation, which he accepted, and maintained his reading even after Huskisson’s denial. See PD, n.s., Vol. 19, cols. 917-44 (2 June, 1828).
[1 ]See the leading article on the New London Bridge, New Times, 24 Sept., 1828, p. 2.
[2 ]Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones a Foundling (1749), Bk. IV, Chap. xi, in Works, Vol. VI, p. 191.
[3 ]The reference is to the Corn Laws, which included 55 George III, c. 26 (1815), 3 George IV, c. 60 (1822), and 7 & 8 George IV, c. 57 (1827). The most recent, 9 George IV, c. 60 (1828), established a sliding scale starting from a nominal duty of 1s. on imported grain when the price at home reached 73s.
[4 ]Between 1823 and 1828 five bills pertaining to County Courts were introduced, but none passed. The most recent was “A Bill for the More Easy Recovery of Small Debts in the County Courts of England and Wales, and for Extending the Jurisdiction Thereof,” 9 George IV (13 June, 1828), PP, 1828, II, 445-58. While the issue of sinecures was clearly central in these bills’ failure, the topic was treated gingerly in the debates; perhaps the most forthcoming admission is subsequent to Mill’s comment, in Peel’s Speech on Small Debts (8 May, 1829), PD, n.s., Vol. 21, cols. 1165-6. Edward Law, Lord Ellenborough (1790-1871), son of the former Lord Chief Justice, was Lord Privy Seal in Wellington’s administration; at this time, as Chairman of The Approaches to London Bridge Committee, he opposed the suggested improvements.
[1 ]The first reference is to the Corn Laws; the second is to the Game Laws, of which 22 & 23 Charles II, c. 25 (1671), 57 George III, c. 90 (1817), and 7 & 8 George IV, c. 27 (1827) were the most important prior to the passing, in July 1828, of 9 George IV, c. 69.
[2 ]Radical objections to the expenditures of the Civil List had been most prominently expressed by John Wade (1788-1875), author and periodical writer, in The Black Book; or, Corruption Unmasked!, 2 vols. (London: Fairburn, 1820, 1823), Vol. I, pp. 110-41, and Vol. II, pp. 9-40. The most outstanding younger branches were the ten acknowledged illegitimate children of the Duke of Clarence, soon to succeed his brother as King William IV.
[3 ]Wellesley, Speech on Petitions to the Crown (25 Jan., 1821), PD, n.s., Vol. 9, col. 108.
[4 ]A term that originated in the seventeenth century to describe those who claim special enlightenment, especially religious enthusiasts who reject the authority of “old lights”; see Thomas Hubbert, Pilula ad expurgandam hypocrisin (London: Lloyd and Cripps, 1650), p. 67.
[5 ]Henry Pelham Fiennes Pelham Clinton (1785-1851), 4th Duke of Newcastle, A Letter to the Right Hon. Lord Kenyon from His Grace the Duke of Newcastle (London: Hatchard, 1828). He was “lord” of the five boroughs of Aldborough, Boroughbridge, East Retford, Newark, and Nottingham. His letter, dated 18 Sept., 1828, and published also in The Times, 23 Sept., expressed deep alarm at the threat of Catholic emancipation to the ancient Constitution; in his view the government’s “liberalizing” spirit was extremely dangerous at a time when sedition and treason were stalking abroad.
[6 ]Juvenal (ca. 60-140), Satires, VI, 223, in Juvenal and Persius (Latin and English), trans. G.G. Ramsay (London: Heinemann, 1950), p. 100.
[7 ]The extreme anti-Catholic faction, which had exerted strong influence in the previous Tory administrations, found less support in Wellington’s ministry.
[8 ]The phrase goes back to Cicero (106-43 ), Roman orator and statesman, “De domo sua ad pontifices oratio” (xxiii, 61), in Cicero. The Speeches: Pro archia poeta, Post reditum ad Quirites, De domo sua, De Haruspicum responsis, Pro Planico (Latin and English), trans. N.H. Watts (London: Heinemann, 1935), p. 206.
[9 ]See, e.g., Edmund Burke, Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents, in Works, Vol. I, p. 495. Cf. Charles Louis de Secondat, baron de la Brède et de Montesquieu (1689-1755), Considérations sur les causes de la grandeur des Romains, et de leur décadence (1734) (Edinburgh: Hamilton, et al., 1751), p. 24; and Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-78), Du contrat social, ou Principes du droit politique (1762), in Oeuvres complètes, 2nd ed., 25 vols. (Paris: Dalibon, 1826), Vol. VI, p. 153 (Bk. III, Chap. xv).