Front Page Titles (by Subject) January 1835 to June 1846 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIV - Newspaper Writings January 1835 - June 1847 Part III
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January 1835 to June 1846 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIV - Newspaper Writings January 1835 - June 1847 Part III 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIV - Newspaper Writings January 1835 - June 1847 Part III, 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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January 1835 to June 1846
SENIOR’S ON NATIONAL PROPERTY 
The “crisis” Mill refers to in the first sentence was precipitated by the elevation of Spencer (Lord Althorp) to the Lords on the death of his father in November 1834. The Whigs had already been weakened by the resignation in May of Stanley and Graham over the proposed transfer of Irish Church revenues to secular purposes, and by Grey’s resignation in July over Irish coercion. Rather than see Russell succeed Spencer as leader of the House of Commons, William IV chose to replace Melbourne and called upon Sir Robert Peel to lead a minority Tory government; it lasted only until April 1835. The anonymous pamphlet, discussing possible ministerial policy, was by Nassau William Senior; it was published in London by Fellowes in 1835. See also No. 275, on the 2nd ed. of the pamphlet. The unheaded item is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A leading article on a pamphlet (by Senior) entitled ‘On National Property, and on the Prospects of the Present Administration and of their Successors’; in the Sun of 3d January 1835”
(MacMinn, p. 43).
a pamphlet has just appeared, well deserving of the attention of electors, and of all who can exercise any influence over the dénouement of the present extraordinary crisis; while, at the same time, it stands broadly distinguished from any mere party production, and from works of temporary interest, by containing views and principles applicable to all time, stated and enforced with unusual energy and precision. The title of the pamphlet is, On National Property, and on the Prospects of the Present Administration, and of their Successors.—“The subjects of our title-page,” says the author, “may appear, at first sight, to be totally distinct. It will be found, however, that they are intimately connected.” [P. 3.] In this he is not mistaken. The present Administration, as he powerfully argues, cannot stand, mainly because they will not, and cannot with honour, take such measures as the public voice imperiously demands, on the subject of the “National Property,” namely, the endowments of the Church, the Municipal Corporations, and the Universities. Nor can Sir Robert Peel’s “successors,” whoever they may be, have the slightest chance of maintaining themselves in power, unless they are prepared to deal in the manner this author inculcates, with that great subject.
The pamphlet is evidently from the pen of a practised writer, and one well accustomed to the treatment of political questions. It would be well if we could hope to hear his topics discussed in the ensuing Session of Parliament, in the same tone of thought and in the same manly and popular style.
The writer begins by one of the very best statements which we have seen, in a small number of pages, of the philosophical argument for the right of the State to control all endowments. This right, according to him, extends so far, as to empower the Legislature, when the lawful claims of existing incumbents shall have become extinct, to dispose of the property at its own absolute will; guided of course by the same views of public expediency to which the whole of its conduct ought to be subservient, and under the further restriction of not divesting what was intended for all generations, to the temporary purposes of one.
The cant of “spoliation”1 is disposed of in the following passage:
Some deny the right of the State to deal with the income of property held in mortmain, on the ground that, what they call the church, as distinct from the existing clergymen, is the owner of what they call church property; that the episcopal lands belong to the bench of bishops, not for the lives of the existing bishops, but for ever; and that to declare that no bishop shall in future be appointed, and that the revenues of the sees as they become vacant shall be applied to the support of hospitals, would be an act of spoliation, even although it could be demonstrated that such an application would be more useful, not only at present, but permanently, than the present one. The answer to these reasoners is, that to every spoliation there must be two parties, the spoiler and the person despoiled. Now who, under these circumstances, would be the persons despoiled? Our posterity? No; for the argument assumes that they would be benefited. The existing Bishops? No; for they are untouched. The persons who now have the power to appoint bishops? Their consent must of course be obtained. If the bishopric of Sodor and Mann had still belonged to the Athol family, their right to appoint a bishop could not have been suppressed without compensation.2 But, in the present case, the persons who have the right to appoint bishops are the government, and their consent is pre-supposed. The persons who might hope to be made bishops? They have no vested interest susceptible of valuation; and, therefore, on the grounds already laid down, cannot be heard. They have no more right to protest against the suppression of bishoprics than subalterns have to oppose a reduction of the number of field officers. Bishoprics no more belong to the church, as an imaginary entity, distinct from the existing churchmen, than pay and allowances belong to the army, as an equally imaginary entity, distinct from the existing soldiers.
Others again contend that this property, having been originally given to ecclesiastical purposes, cannot be diverted from them without improperly violating the wills of those deceased persons who so dedicated it. In Scotland, where a right of perpetual entail is admitted, this argument might have some plausibility. In England and Ireland, where the law “abhors perpetuities,”3 it is almost too absurd for refutation. Our ancestors have had their full swing of posthumous power. Their wills have been obeyed for centuries; in some cases, without doubt, most beneficially; in others, more or less mischievously. And will any one, out of a sentimental regard to their memory, maintain that we have not now the right, or that, having that right, we are not now bound to inquire, how far this obedience is now beneficial, how far it is mischievous? or that we have not now the right, or that, having that right, it is not our duty to make such changes as may augment the benefit and remove the mischief?
If this argument were successful, the land would indeed belong not to the living, but to the dead. Every successive generation would find itself more and more confined by testamentary enactments; in many instances the result of vanity, caprice, or ignorance; in others, framed to meet the wants of an obsolete state of society, but in all cases immutable as the laws of the Medes and Persians. One testator might direct his estates to lie fallow for 10,000 years; another that they should be cropped alternately in thistles one century, and in nettles the next; and a third might order, as indeed has been done, that the successive life-owners should for ever be chosen by lot.
The right of Legislative interference with endowments, which existed in all cases whatever, our author considers it expedient, and therefore the bounden duty of the Legislature to exercise, in three instances. The first is, the reduction of the temporalities of the Irish Church, to the amount adequate to the wants of the Protestant population, devoting the surplus to the education, not of Protestants, but of the whole people. [Pp. 23-37.] The second is the reform of Municipal Corporations, and the employment of the property now under the control of those bodies, for such purposes as after inquiry and mature deliberation shall be deemed most useful. [Pp. 37-9.] The third is, the admission of Dissenters to the Universities. [Pp. 39-42.]
We do not think it requisite to extract any of the passages in which our author advocates these measures. Of their propriety, as soon as the right is allowed, every rational mind is already satisified. We pass to his observations on the present Ministry. After stating the obvious grounds on which neither the reforms for which he has been contending, nor any other of these demanded by public opinion, can be expected from the Peel-and-Wellington Cabinet, he urges the following cogent reasons why, even were they to become Reformers to the fullest extent which could be required, they ought, nevertheless, to be driven from office, and with disgrace:
But let us admit, merely for purposes of argument, that all this is mere trick,—that the address to the electors of Tamworth is a counterpart of the letter to Dr. Curtis,4 —and that in the course of the next two months, Sir Robert Peel will discover the justice, or at least the expediency, of carrying all that he now declares he cannot consent to.
It may seem that this is all which those who are not partisans, those whose object is good government, without caring from whom they receive it, can require; and, therefore, that although such an attempt would deprive Sir Robert Peel of the aid of the Tories and of Lord Stanley’s friends,5 it ought to give him that of all the independent Members of the House. The obvious objection to this view, and it appears to us a decisive objection, is, that it would countenance a degree of political immorality, which in no state of society it would be safe, and in our own it would be fatal, to sanction. It would sanction the opinion that, in political warfare, faith is not to be kept with the country, with enemies, or even with friends: that even among the leaders, on one side at least of the House, the debates are a solemn show, in which the actores fabulae wear the dresses and repeat the speeches which the nature of the plot, and the rules of the stage, require; but as soon as a new piece begins, have nothing to do with the characters which they supported in the former one. It would proclaim, that a man making the strongest protestations of his sincerity, may oppose, as a sacred duty, measures which he knows to be not only expedient, but essential; may drive, by his opposition, a part of the country to the brink of civil war; and, the instant he has succeeded in turning out the proposers of those measures, may introduce them himself, and then receive, from the very persons whom he has forced out, support and power as his reward. No nation could hope for public spirit, or even common honesty, from its servants, if it were thus to remunerate falsehood and faction.
Besides this, there is another reason, which hitherto has not been sufficiently insisted upon, and to which we invite, in the strongest manner, the attention of all friends of good government, or of the ancient doctrines of the Constitution:
But even supposing none of these insurmountable objections to exist, and the new Ministry to be personally unexceptionable, there are circumstances connected with their appointment which must deprive them of the support of those who wish to consult the permanent interests of the country.
It has for many years been admitted, that a Minister, though appointed by the Crown, and nominally subject to be dismissed mero motu regis,6 without warning or explanation, really holds his office at the will, not of the Crown, but of the two Houses of Parliament. He might be disliked by the Court, he might be unpalatable to the King, it might be his duty, indeed, to take steps which would necessarily produce one or both of these results; but while he retained the confidence of the Houses of Parliament, he was, according to the doctrine which prevailed until the 15th of last November, secure. And the necessity of this principle is obvious. If a Minister held office at the caprice of the Court, the Court, not Parliament, would be the field on which the battles for power would be fought. The arts which succeed in Courts, and the measures which please Courts, would be the arts and the measures adopted. Despotic governments and constitutional governments have each their peculiar merits and their peculiar inconveniences; but this would be a mode of uniting the faults of both: the slow and cumbersome machinery of the one, and the ignorance, prejudices, corruption, and vacillation of the other. Even in despotisms, where public opinion has acquired any force, deference to that opinion prevents any capricious change. “C’est moi,” said Louis XV, “qui nomme les ministres, mais c’est la nation qui les renvoie.”
Those whom this reasoning does not convince, may, perhaps, yield to the authority of Mr. Burke. That acute observer, after dwelling on the necessity that a Minister should be connected not only with the interests, but with the sentiments and opinions of the people, adds, in words which we might now adopt, “These are considerations which, in my opinion, enforce the necessity of having some better reason in a free country and a free Parliament for supporting the Ministers of the Crown, than that short one, ‘That the King has thought proper to appoint them.’ There is something very courtly in this; but it is a principle pregnant with all sorts of mischief, in a constitution like ours, to turn the views of active men from the country to the Court. Whatever be the road to power, that is the road which will be trod. If the opinion of the country be of no use as a means of power or consideration, the qualities which usually procure that opinion will be no longer cultivated. And whether it be right in a State so popular in its constitution as ours, to leave ambition without popular motives, and to trust all to the operation of pure virtue in the minds of Kings, and Ministers, and public men, must be submitted to the judgment and good sense of the people of England. . . . When a Ministry rests upon public opinion, it is not indeed built upon a rock of adamant; it has, however, some stability; but when it stands upon private humour, its structure is of stubble, and its foundation is on a quicksand. I repeat it again—he that supports every administration subverts all government. The reason is this: the whole business in which a Court usually takes an interest goes on at present equally well in whatever hands, whether high or low, wise or foolish, scandalous or reputable; there is nothing, therefore, to hold it firm to any one body of men, or to any one consistent scheme of politics. Nothing interposes to prevent the full operation of all the caprices, and all the passions of a Court upon the servants of the public. The system of administration is open to continual shocks and changes upon the principles of the meanest cabal, and the most contemptible intrigue. Nothing can be solid or permanent. All good men at length fly with horror from such a service. Men of rank and ability, with the spirit which ought to animate such men in a free State, while they decline the jurisdiction of dark cabal on their actions and their fortunes, will, for both, cheerfully put themselves upon their country. They will trust an inquisitive and distinguishing Parliament, because it does inquire and does distinguish. If they act well, they know that in such a Parliament they will be supported against any intrigue; if they act ill, they know that no intrigue can protect them. This situation, however awful, is honourable. But in one hour, without any assigned or assignable cause, to be precipitated from the highest authority to the most marked neglect, is a situation full of danger, and destitute of honour. It will be shunned equally by every man of prudence, and every man of spirit.”7
It is to be added, that if this principle is to be abandoned; if the king is to be at liberty, merely because he thinks his own opinion better than that of the nation speaking through their representatives, to dismiss a government which enjoys the full confidence of the House of Commons; if he is at liberty to do this at his own personal pleasure; this absurdity follows, that his Majesty can act without a responsible adviser in one point, and on one point only, that point being the most important one which he ever can have to consider. The question, who is responsible?—for some one must be responsible for the sudden and total dismissal of a ministry,—has not been decided since our Constitution assumed its present form, because in fact it has not been necessary to raise it. A parliamentary vote or a resignation has preceded every previous change. It has now been raised, and painful as the discussion is, it must be decided. It must be decided with reference not merely to the present emergency, not as a party or temporary question, but as one of permanent constitutional law.
The king of course is not responsible. Royal responsibility is inconsistent with monarchical government. Of course, too, it would be absurd to fix the responsibility on those persons who may be supposed to have had private access to his Majesty’s ear. The country does not recognise such advisers, either for good or for evil. The domestic comfort and privacy of the sovereign require that those who, filling no political office, are familiarly about his person, should be considered to be, as in reality it is their duty to be, unconnected with politics. The persons on whom this responsibility falls most naturally and most usefully, are those who are to profit by the act in question, the immediate successors of the dismissed administration. If it be once understood that, whether really consulted or not, they are to be considered as having advised the measure which, by their acquiescence they have adopted, and that no administration, for whom a vacancy has been made by a court intrigue, or by mere personal predilections or dislikes, or by caprice, or, in short, on any ground of which Parliament does not recognize the sufficiency, however personally eligible, will receive parliamentary support, we shall return to our established system, and the events of last November will be a warning instead of a precedent.
It may be asked then, what was the Duke of Wellington to do when he was summoned from the hunting-field at Strathfieldsay, and the King threw himself on his loyalty?8 Was he to refuse to aid the King in his difficulties?
Unquestionably it was his duty so to refuse.
It was his duty to say, not in words, but in substance, “Four months ago, your Majesty appointed Lord Melbourne your minister. The country approved of the choice, and nothing has occurred to diminish its approbation. I cannot be a party to any change which has even the appearance of having originated in intrigue, or caprice, or in any personal feelings whatsoever.”
It will be the duty of the houses of parliament to say, “We will not bind on our necks, and on those of our posterity, a yoke from which the country has worked itself free. We will not abandon the trust which the practice of the Constitution has reposed in us of deciding by what party the government shall be carried on.”
It is now the duty of the electors, since Sir Robert Peel is blind enough to appeal to them, to proclaim, “We will return those men, and those men only, who will maintain their station as representatives of the people. We have not broken the chains of an oligarchy to put on those of a court. We will not sanction a single step towards a return to those unhappy times, when the sovereign was the real minister, and placed and displaced at pleasure, the puppets who bore the name.”
Considering it as certain that the present Administration cannot stand, the author proceeds to examine what ought to be the conduct of their successors. And first, on what terms ought they to take office? On this point the writer is most explicit. A creation of Peers (in his opinion Peers for life), sufficient to re-establish harmony between the two Houses, ought to be an absolute condition. This he shows with great force and spirit. [Pp. 64-71.] And if, as there is reason to believe, his pamphlet speaks the sentiments of a part at least, if not the whole, of the late Administration, so strong a declaration on this point is highly important.
The writer thinks, and, in our opinion, for unanswerable reasons, that Peers should be eligible to the House of Commons, otherwise the creation of so many popular Peers might for ever exclude from the other House a large proportion of those who would be its most valuable members. [P. 69.] And what Reformer does not wish that Earl Spencer, the Earl of Durham,9 or Lord Brougham, could again make themselves heard in that assembly in which the direction of public affairs, now and hereafter, does and will mainly reside?
To the observations contained in the pamphlet on giving official seats to Ministers [pp. 72-81], on paying the Catholic Clergy [pp. 87-110], on Secondary Punishments [pp. 110-13], and other important subjects, we can only call the reader’s attention. He will find them well worthy of perusal and consideration.
FLOWER’S SONGS OF THE MONTHS 
Having in No. 248 (20 Apr., 1834) noticed the publication of the first four of Eliza Flower’s Songs of the Months, Mill here seizes the opportunity to eulogize the separate publication of the completed series. He almost certainly refers to this review in asking Fonblanque on 25 Dec., 1834: “Could you insert the enclosed in your next paper?” (EL, CW, Vol. XII, p. 246.) It appeared in the “Music” section of the Examiner, headed: “Songs of the Months. A Musical Garland. [London:] J.A. Novello, and Charles Fox. [1834.]” The songs for May to December are: “A May Day Memory” (May; words by Alexander Hume); “A Summer Song for the Open Air” (June; words by Catherine Partridge); “The Wanderer’s Lullaby” (July; words by Sarah Flower Adams); “The Harvest of Time” (August; words by Harriet Martineau); “An Autumn Song” (September; words by Mary Howitt); “Falling Leaves” (October; words by Sarah Adams); “ ‘Come to My Home’ ” (November; words by Sarah Adams); and “Winter Minstrelsy” (December; words by Charles Pemberton). It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A notice of Miss Flower’s ‘Songs of the Months’ in the Examiner of 4 January 1835” (MacMinn, p. 43). There is no bound volume of the Examiner in Mill’s library after that for 1834.
this is a republication of the beautiful songs which have appeared in the successive numbers of the Monthly Repository for the year now closed; and the first four of which we noticed on a former occasion. As now reprinted, they form one of the most agreeable of Christmas presents to a lover of music.
The words of the songs (except those for July and August) are characteristic of the months to which they belong; and the music is in all cases characteristic of the words. The song for “March” (formerly noticed by us) and that for “August,” are among the most impressive and elevated compositions which have recently appeared, and only require to be generally known, in order to assume, at once, in the estimation of all judges of the art, the high rank which belongs to them. “July,” “October,” and “November,” each of consummate beauty in its kind, are easier of execution, and likely to be greater favourites with the more numerous class. “May” is a sweet and simple ballad. We have expressed our high admiration of “February” in a former paper. “September” is an elegant and graceful duet. “June” (also intituled “A Summer Song for the Open Air”) is a chorus for children’s voices.
We cannot with justice omit to observe that the songs are more truly songs, that is, better adapted for music than almost any which have appeared since those of Scott, the great master in this (and perhaps in no other) kind of poetical composition.1
We hope that the sale of this “musical garland” will afford an ample remuneration to the conductor2 of the excellent and perpetually improving periodical in which both the poetry and music originally appeared.
THE WORD “DESTRUCTIVE”
Here Mill returns to the Globe and Traveller for the first time since 1823. This unheaded leader is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A leading article on the word ‘Destructive’ in the Globe of 6th January 1835”
(MacMinn, p. 43).
it is amusing to see how invariably, in one age after another, party frenzy frustrates its own purposes in the self-same manner. Not only there is no variety in its weapons, but it invariably uses all of them so indiscriminately as to blunt their edge. One of its most universal devices is calling bad names. “Give a dog a bad name and hang him,” might be taken for its motto. But the bad names do not long remain bad; for as they are presently applied to all, without distinction, who are obnoxious to the party coining the names, they are soon shared by so many persons of the highest public and private worth, that no one is either ashamed or afraid of a reproach borne in common with such men, and the names originally opprobrious are in a short time avowed and even boasted of. “Whig” and “Tory” were originally terms of abuse, levelled exclusively at the lowest populace.1 Every one remembers the name “Gueux,” or beggars, applied in derision by the partisans of the Duke of Alva to the first Flemish insurgents, and very soon adopted by themselves as a title of honour.2 Whoever is old enough to remember the first invention of the term “Radical,”3 and the terror with which almost every person above the rank of a working man deprecated the application of it to himself, will be at no loss for a modern instance similar to these ancient ones.
The same game is now played over again with an abusive epithet of more recent coinage, and, as we already begin to see, with the same result. When the term Radical had ceased to terrify any one, the word “Destructive” was invented to supply its place;4 and for a short time a distinction was kept up—many persons were called Radicals who were not called Destructives, and at first nobody was willing to confess himself a Destructive. But this term of opprobrium has run its course more rapidly than any similar term ever did. Already every person is called a Destructive who is not a Tory, who is not willing to be governed by Tories. The majority of the last parliament, the majority of the parliament which is to come, the enormous majority of the electors, and of the middle classes generally, a large portion of the landed and the largest portion of the commercial aristocracy of the United Kingdom, are all Destructives. There are but two parties now, Destructives and Conservatives. The consequence is, that no one who does not call himself a Conservative will feel the least objection to being called a Destructive, and we may soon expect to see even addresses to electors from persons calling themselves “Rational Destructives.”
In the meantime, if we may be permitted to put the question, pray what is meant by calling all the Reformers, except those after the fashion of Sir Robert Peel, Destructives? What does the word signify?
If it means people who are for the destruction of property, there are no such people. At no time, in no country, not even in France during the height of the Revolution, were there more than a handful who wished even to reform, much less to destroy, the laws of property.
If it means people who are for the abolition of monarchy and the House of Lords, and the establishment of an American republic, very good and wise men have thought that this would be desirable; but even of these we never saw or heard of one who wished the experiment tried in this country in defiance of the old and deep-rooted national attachments to those institutions. As for mere adventurers and demagogues, these are the last objects they would choose, because the last which would hold out any hopes of successful agitation. The people of England are not led by words. They carry even to a fault their indifference to abstract principles. The only change which they desire, or even tolerate, is the reform or removal of something which is doing them positive and visible harm. They make no alterations for the sake of symmetry; when an institution works well, that contents them. They want a House of Commons fairly chosen by the people, and a House of Lords so composed as to assist and not thwart the purposes of such a House of Commons. Give them these, and they do not fear that the King will ever make himself an obstacle to the deliberate wishes of two such houses, backed by the opinion of the nation.
Who, then, are the Destructives? The Times says they are all who are for the ballot, for the separation of church and state, for the repeal of the union, and, it has the modesty to add, for an “equitable adjustment” with the fundholder.5 (By this last test Sir James Graham, the Quarterly Review, and full one half of the Tory county members, are Destructives.) To the above catalogue the Standard adds all who are for corporation reform, or for the repeal of the corn laws.6 The Times has not yet come to this; but, fair and softly, it soon will—nous l’attendons là. The Standard is in the right, and we will add a few more categories to the list. All who wish the reform bill to be made effectual by the improvement of the registration clauses, by disfranchising the corrupt freemen of such places as Norwich and Liverpool, and by getting rid of such of the smaller constituencies as have already become, beyond hope of redemption, close or rotten boroughs—all who wish that taxes should be taken off the necessaries of the poor instead of the luxuries of the rich—all who wish for local courts, or any other substitute for the irresponsible and incapable jurisdiction of the county magistracy—all who wish to see any measures introduced for the relief of the Dissenters but such as the Dissenters will indignantly reject—all who wish to see the Universities reformed: those places where the sons of English gentlemen are steeped in the foulest mire of Toryism, and then sent forth to govern a country which has cast forth Toryism with disgust—all who wish to see the church of England reformed, and all rational persons who do not wish to see it destroyed—all who wish to see the church of Ireland reduced to reasonable dimensions, and the national property, which it has so long misused, employed for the benefit of the unhappy oppressed Irish people, whom by combined injury and insult it keeps always on the very verge of rebellion—and, finally, all who will not endure that a dignitary of something calling itself a Protestant and English church shall go forth with armed men and assassinate the children and neighbours of a poor widow because she will not any longer give to him of her scanty substance the wages of a degrading tyranny.
These are the Destructives; for these are the enemies of the present ministry. Electors of the United Kingdom, let such Destructives, and none but such Destructives, have your votes.
SENIOR’S ON NATIONAL PROPERTY 
See No. 272 (3 Jan., 1835) for Mill’s review in the Sun of the 1st ed. of Senior’s pamphlet; the 2nd ed. (London: Fellowes, 1835), from which Mill here quotes, had quickly followed on its heels, and there were two further editions in 1835. The unheaded leader is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A leading article in the Morning Chronicle of 6th (?) [sic] February 1835, on the 2nd ed. of Senior’s pamphlet”
(MacMinn, p. 43).
in our paper of the 2d January1 we gave several extracts from an able pamphlet recently published, On National Property, and on the Prospects of the Present Administration, and of their Successors. The second edition of this important tract has just appeared. It contains much additional matter, in no way inferior either in thought or style to what preceded; and we recommend the whole pamphlet as a text-book to the liberal Members of Parliament—a compendious statement of many of the principles and arguments which will be their strongest weapons, both of offence and of defence, in the approaching conflict with all the remaining strength of the Tory party.
The right of the State to employ what is called Church and Corporation Property for whatever purposes of public utility it deems most expedient—that principle, involved in Mr. Ward’s famous resolution,2 and the dread of which, in high quarters, has raised the present Ministry to its “little brief authority”3 —is stated and enforced in the pamphlet, calmly, philosophically, and uncompromisingly, as a deduction from the very nature and tenure of property itself. The utter incompatibility, both with the principles of the Constitution and with all good Government, of the strange proceedings which we have lately witnessed, the dismissal of one Ministry, and the appointment of another, ex mero motu regis,4 is powerfully shown; and the hack sophisms of the Conservatives to justify this stretch of authority are triumphantly demolished.
We quote from the new matter of the present edition, the following notice of an article in The Standard,5 in which our Contemporary takes off the mask, and avows the intention of its party to take back in one form those powers of misgovernment which, by the passing of the Reform Bill, they have lost in another:
If the present attempt is acquiesced in, it will be a precedent, and a precedent of more than even its apparent force. It will be a precedent which will at least begin by bringing us back to the times of the Stuarts. The organs of the present Ministry have been forced to speak out on this subject; they have been forced to declare, that “although before the Reform Bill, the House of Commons did in practice apparently exercise a veto upon the appointment of the Ministers of the Crown, the Reform Bill,” (by diminishing the influence of the Crown and the aristocracy in the House of Commons) “has brought us back to the theory of the constitution, the power of the King in choosing his advisers as unrestrained as that of the House of Commons in arranging the order of its proceedings6 —the reciprocal independence of the three branches of the Legislature.”
This, then, is the manner in which the Tories propose to work the Reform Bill. This is Sir Robert Peel’s “final and irrevocable settlement of a great constitutional question.”7 The influence given to the people in the House of Commons is to be neutralized, indeed, much more than neutralized, by depriving that house of all control over the other branches of the Legislature. The King is to have the same unrestrained, unquestioned power of appointing, dismissing, and changing the whole body of public functionaries which the House of Commons has of deciding whether it will take motions or petitions for its twelve o’clock sittings. We are to return to the reign of prerogative. The King is, of course (for that is equally within the forms of the constitution), to refuse his assent to any Bill which may displease him. The Commons (for that is also the theory of the constitution) are to commence the session by a statement of their grievances, and postpone the grant of supplies until his Majesty has been pleased to redress those grievances. The three branches are to act independently. The great edifice of parliamentary government, which it has taken centuries to build up, and which we fondly thought that the Reform Bill had rendered complete, but which even without that bill, was supposed to be, at least, secure, is to be destroyed, because that bill has diminished the influence of the Crown and the aristocracy in the House of Commons. When the anti-reform majority of the House of Lords allowed, by their secession, that bill to pass, the country little thought what was their mental reservation. Without relying much on their prudence, it still did not suspect them of so insane a scheme as that of making amends for the Reform Bill by setting up prerogative against the people, and throwing us back, by a recurrence to what they choose to call the theory of the constitution to the state of things which preceded the events of 1643.
In justice to our adversaries, we must admit that this desperate defence is forced upon them. They would have much preferred that, instead of addressing the King “on the exercise of his undoubted prerogative,” they had had no such congratulations to offer. They felt the danger of assuming such a position, and evaded it, as long as evasion was possible, by every sort of artifice and falsehood. First, they declared that Lord Melbourne resigned; then that he admitted the impossibility of going on; then that, at least, he confessed that his administration was falling to pieces through internal dissensions. And it is only when these pretences have been swept away, that they take refuge in the Gothic citadel of prerogative, and turn against the country, and in the nineteenth century, the weapons forged by the Tudors and the Plantagenets.
The following passage on the theory of “political inconsistency” is also new:
When a statesman supports a measure which he formerly opposed, his conduct may be accounted for on any one of the three following suppositions:—1. An intervening change in public affairs. 2. Error. 3. Interest. It may happen, and indeed must happen frequently, that such a change has occurred in public affairs, since the period of his opposition, as to render beneficial what would previously have been injurious. When no such change in the circumstances of the case has occurred, the supposed alteration of conduct must necessarily be attributed to more personal causes. It must be attributed either to Error, or to Interest. He may admit that his former opposition was a mistake, and that he has been subsequently convinced, by facts of which he was not then aware, or by arguments which he had not then sufficiently considered. But if this explanation be not offered, or be not accepted, the only remaining solution is, that interest (using that word as comprehending not only pecuniary interest, but the acquisition or retention of power, or fame, or popularity, or the gratification of party friendship, or of party enmity), was the motive, either of the former opposition or of the present advocacy.
A change of conduct, which is accounted for by the first of these three suppositions, namely, by a change in the circumstances of the case, cannot be called an inconsistency. The real inconsistency would lie in persisting in a course for which the motive had ceased. With respect to the second supposition, the degree in which a public man’s reputation, for knowledge and intelligence, ought to suffer from his defending his present conduct, by acknowledging that he was formerly mistaken, is subject to no general rule. If the matter was not one of such importance as to have required his earnest attention, or the facts or reasonings which now show him to have been in error were not then before the public, he is readily excused. Lord Grenville did not sink in public estimation when he confessed that the support which, during the whole of his political life, he had given to loans for the purpose of supporting a Sinking Fund, was founded in error.8 That it was so founded, has been demonstrated; but it was not suspected by any one, when that most absurd system of finance was first adopted. But if the question at issue was of great importance, and if all the facts and arguments, necessary for its decision, were notorious, a statesman who is forced to acknowledge that he erred from ignorance of those facts, or neglect or incapacity of understanding those reasonings, may make a useful subaltern, but can scarcely maintain the post of a leader. The last of the three supposable cases, namely, that the measure in question was formerly opposed, or is now supported, from interested motives, is one which few men will venture to avow. In a sound state of public morality, such conduct would exclude from confidence and from power every person convicted of it. In the present state of feeling in England such an imputation, though always felt as an objection to the man who is stained by it, is not considered a decisive objection, unless the matter with respect to which it occurred was one of great public importance. So much latitude is allowed to faction, there is so much sympathy with party affection and party hatred, so little of public spirit is hoped for from public men, that in comparatively trifling measures, when introduced by a political adversary, to have knowingly opposed what was right, is considered a venial offence. But, loose as our morality is, we have not yet gone so far as to sanction such conduct with respect to those few questions on the right decision of which the welfare of the community depends; and as public morality is, on the whole, improving, we believe that it never will be sanctioned. If our belief were otherwise, we should indeed despair of the prospects of the country. The conduct which only disgusts in a demagogue would be ruinous in a Minister.
We will now endeavour to apply these principles to the subjects immediately before us. The great questions which we have been considering, are matters of the utmost importance, not only to the welfare, but to the existence of the empire. No event has taken place since they were last before Parliament in the slightest degree affecting them. Nothing new has been discovered respecting either the facts of the case, or the inferences to be deduced from them. If Sir R. Peel should now support those measures which, in the last session, he so resolutely resisted, he cannot plead, in justification, that the circumstances of the case are changed, or, in mitigation of punishment, that he was formerly mistaken. He had before him all the materials for coming to a right decision, and no one imputes to him mental deficiency. It must be admitted, tacitly or expressly, that either his former reluctance, or his subsequent concession, was founded on interest; that he knowingly, and intentionally, and on matters of the utmost importance, sacrificed the country to his party or to himself. And we repeat, that to sanction such conduct would be fatal.
We conclude in the forcible words of the author of the pamphlet:
It appears, therefore, that under any combination of circumstances, the present Administration cannot stand. It can stand only on these suppositions. First, that the present Ministers are willing to sacrifice all the reputation and the self-respect which alone can render the toils of office endurable: secondly, that the country is willing to sanction a degree of political profligacy, which even the tools of a despotism would not venture: and, thirdly, that the monstrous doctrine is to be admitted, that no one is responsible for the most dangerous of all possible exertions of the royal prerogative, the unforeseen and total, and, unless indeed its popular measures were the provocation, the unprovoked, dismissal of a popular Administration. Any one of these objections would be fatal. What then must be the effect of their combination?
BRIBERY AND INTIMIDATION AT ELECTIONS
This unheaded leader is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A leading article in the Globe of 12th February 1835 on the bribery and intimidation at elections”
(MacMinn, p. 43).
the bribery and intimidation which have been practised during the late elections,1 to an extent almost exceeding former example, must engage the attention of parliament immediately after its meeting. The members may be assured that upon the spirit in which this subject shall be taken in hand by them not a little of the future history of their country, and very much of their own prospects as public men, will depend.
The ways of an unreformed parliament ought not to be those of a reformed one. Before the Reform Bill there never was any serious purpose of checking bribery or intimidation: they were the two props on which the system rested, and no one wished to see them weakened. Whether a member had been elected by honest or by wicked means was a question between him and his competitor, not between the culprit and the State. If the rival candidate, after having thought it worth while to spend some thousand pounds for a first chance of getting into parliament, thought it worth while, on the failure of that, to spend as much more for the second, he petitioned. If he did not, no one else did, nor could. If some perverse person, unwilling to lose the excitement of a contest, or to confess himself beaten, by dint of expense and trouble accomplished what none but an eccentric man would attempt, and none but a very fortunate man could succeed in—namely, actual proof of illicit practices, before a Committee of the House of Commons, ministers and public men in general made an edifying display of virtuous indignation against the one case which was proved, and decently ignored the six hundred and fifty-seven which were not proved. All this was in the spirit of the former system—was all right enough, if the end was to uphold that system, by whatever means: it was among what Burke called “the shameful parts of the constitution,”2 part of the filth out of which grew, and on which was fed the stately umbrageous tree to which British society has often been admiringly compared. But the fruit of that tree smacked of the place it drew its nourishment from, and we are minded at present not to cultivate any tree but one which will grow in clean ground.
It is so obvious as to be hardly worth stating, that the reform is no reform if the majority of the members are to be nominated, as they were before, by a small number of powerful families. It is equally evident that the majority will be so nominated if bribery can purchase or intimidation command the votes, and neither be detected and punished. The far greater part of the house are returned by bodies of electors the great majority of whom are not beyond the influence either of corruption or of coercion. Two hundred members at least are elected by constituencies varying from two to four hundred persons—the very number which, under the old system, produced Penryn, East Retford, and all the most rotten of the rotten boroughs. In the counties the influence of the squirearchy cannot be permanently resisted. Already we see the strides which have been made towards recovering the ground which the oligarchy had lost by the Reform Bill. Nothing but intense political excitement can inspire the poorer electors with courage to resist the temptations of sums of money invaluable in their circumstances, or to offend landlords or customers who can cut off at a stroke half their income. Shall there, then, be no other check to bribery and intimidation under the new system than there was under the old? If so, as soon as the remaining enthusiasm (in its very nature temporary) produced by the existing events of the last four years shall have subsided, we shall be landed exactly where we were before, except that political demoralization will have spread farther, will have reached a much larger and hitherto purer class than the wretched freemen and burgage tenants of the old “glorious constitution.”
But this will not, must not be. Let any member of the new parliament, who fears the reproach of innovation, ask himself the simple question whether those who really wish to prevent a great evil will probably be directed to the best mode of setting about it, by the precedents of those who wished that the evil should not be prevented? And when he has answered this question, let him ask himself another, viz., in what manner a person, who really wished that the election of members of the House of Commons should be free and pure, would attempt to secure that object? What means would such a person adopt? Would he throw all kinds of impediments in the way of proving illicit practices? or give it all kinds of facilities? Would he leave it wholly to a particular individual to bring the question to trial, according as he feels personally interested in it or not, and is willing to spend an intolerable sum of money upon it or not? Would he confide the functions of a court of justice to a committee appointed for the nonce—a committee chosen by lot, and the brains knocked out of it (actually the phrase in common use!) by the power which the two parties have of striking off, without any reason assigned, a proportion of the number? a committee deliberating in secret, and whose decisions are notoriously governed in almost all instances not by justice, but wholly by political considerations?
That the members of the house should be duly elected is the concern of the house itself and of the nation; not of any individual, in the house or out of it. There should be a special tribunal for deciding such cases, and special officers for investigating them. All disputed elections should be referred to one committee, selected at the commencement of the session, composed of but few members, chosen for their unquestionable fitness, and paid. There should be no fees to officers of the house, no expenses but those which are absolutely unavoidable, and even these should be repaid by the public to the successful party. The investigations should be public, open to all the world, and one proved instance of bribery by authorised agents should vitiate the election.
At the opening of the last parliament, Mr. Charles Buller placed on the order-book of the House of Commons a series of propositions which, if adopted by the house, would have effected a salutary change in the forms of proceeding in cases of disputed returns. The motion was never discussed; we know not if it was even nominally brought on and entered on the Journals.3 The first session of the reformed parliament was the most suitable time for breaking through the mischievous rules and practices of the unreformed house. But, unhappily, “no innovation,” or as little of it as possible, was at that time the order of the day. The Whigs made the mistake (which by this time they have had ample reason to correct) of imagining that the danger to be apprehended was from the friends of too rapid movement, not from the enemies of all movement whatever. That opportunity, therefore, was lost; but it is never too late to retrieve the error. We trust that Mr. Charles Buller, or some other Reformer, will bring this subject to the serious consideration of the house immediately after its meeting.
THE LONDON REVIEW ON MUNICIPAL CORPORATION REFORM
While there can be no question about Mill’s interest in municipal reform, the occasional cause of this account (see the opening sentence) is surely the publication of the first number of the London Review, of which he was the editor and Sir William Molesworth (1810-55), a wealthy Radical politician, M.P. 1832-41 and 1845-55, the proprietor. In 1836 Molesworth was to buy the Westminster Review for £1000 and unite the two under Mill’s editorship as the London and Westminster Review. Though Mill (himself here anonymous, of course) promoted a policy of semi-identification of authors in the London Review, he here speaks of the “reputed author” of “Municipal Corporation Reform,” London Review, I (Apr. 1835), 48-76, which is signed “J.A.R.,” not a very thick disguise for John Arthur Roebuck, then M.P. for Bath. The article, headed “Corporations—London Review,” is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A notice of the Article on Municipal Corporation Reform in No. 1 of the London Review: in the Globe of 17th April 1835”
(MacMinn, p. 44).
among various interesting and well-timed articles in the first number of the London Review, just published, is one on the great practical question of the day—municipal corporation reform—to which we invite the attention of all our readers. Without entering into the minutiae of corporation abuses—which, if not already sufficiently known to every one, are amply exhibited in the commissioners’ report1 —the article addresses itself at once to the practical question, how to frame the required measure of reform. The writer has brought to the examination of this question the best lights of the political philosophy of the age, along with a just estimate of the modifications required by existing opinions and impediments. And we venture to affirm that if either the proprietor of the Review, or the reputed author of the article, will promulgate its doctrines from their places in parliament in the approaching debates on corporation reform, they will contribute not a little to the satisfactory settlement of that vital question, and lay the basis of no ordinary political reputation for themselves.
After briefly stating the uses and conveniences of a local or municipal government, the writer says—
It is unnecessary here to dwell upon the history of our own corporations, or those of Europe generally. Whatever were the circumstances which gave rise to the municipia of ancient, or the corporations of more modern times, the convenience of local governments, as above explained, alone justifies, in the present condition of this country, the existence of these petty jurisdictions. Their olden form will doubtless influence the changes which may hereafter be made; but this influence will, for the most part, be mischievous. Antiquated rules, and foolish customs sanctioned by time, though opposed by reason, will often prove stumbling blocks to the reformer of municipal corporations, if he attempt to remodel the many various systems of corporate government which now exist in England. One uniform system ought to be established, framed with reference to the present condition of the people; and to do this, the whole mass of ancient rubbish should be completely swept away.
He proceeds to show that if utility alone were consulted, these local governments would not be confined to the precincts of single towns, but would be extended to districts, spreading over the whole country, by which the whole of the present ill-contrived and ill-administered apparatus of local judicature and local taxation would be superseded. This, however, being a greater innovation than public opinion would at present sanction, the writer contents himself with recommending that if the corporation government cannot be extended beyond the town in which it is situate, it shall at least include the whole town, which at present is rarely the case.
The reviewer next proceeds to inquire what should be the powers of the local government, and in what manner the persons exercising these powers should be nominated.
The powers are partly powers of judicature, partly of administration, partly of local legislation. The points for which the reviewer contends are chiefly the three following:—
1st. That the administration of justice should be entirely separated from the powers of administration and legislation, and confided not to ignorant amateur aldermen, but in every town to one duly educated judge (or more than one if required).
2d. That this judge should have power to adjudicate in all causes, civil and criminal, subject to appeal to a central court in the metropolis.
3d. That the powers of local taxation, local legislation, police and other branches of administration, should be vested in or placed under the control of a town-council, periodically elected by all rate-payers, or at the lowest by all ten pound householders; and that this town-council should appoint the local judge.
For the fuller statement of these views, and for the argument by which they are supported, we must refer our readers to the article itself. We content ourselves with extracting a few, not of the most striking passages, but of those which will best admit of being separated from the context.
On the vices of the administration of justice in corporations as at present constituted:
The recorder now is, in many places, a mere nominal officer; in others he really does adjudicate the matters within his jurisdiction; but this is done only a few times in the year. He is usually in these cases a barrister, practising in London, and running down for a few days to the seat of his jurisdiction; his business is dispatched with hurry, so that he may run back again, and lose no chance of profit in his profession. This ought to be wholly reformed. The recorder should, in all cases, be made a permanent judge—residing in the town, administering justice from day to day, and pursuing no other avocation whatever. He should be, what judges are not now (excepting those of the Courts of Westminster), a person possessing the confidence and respect of the people. At the present time the greater part of the business of administering the law is performed by persons whom the mass of the people bitterly hate, and oftentimes contemn. All corporation magistrates, as now chosen, acquire, from the mere fact of their being of the corporation, the ill-will, and even the suspicion, of the persons within their jurisdiction. The body of persons by whom such judges are chosen are looked upon by the people as men living by dishonest peculation. Whether this suspicion be correct or not, matters nothing. It is the necessary consequence of the system of monopoly and secrecy which belongs to all our present corporations. A judge, administering justice with this odium attached to him, cannot so administer the law as to make the people yield a cheerful obedience to it; no matter how just his judgments, the losing parties, having no confidence in the judge, will never be content with his decision. Instead of accommodating their minds to acquiescence, a surly spirit of rebellious opposition arises within them. They do not, as they would do had the judge their confidence, doubt their own opinion, and yield up their passions and their opposition. Where the judge is respected, the opinion of the world also leads men powerfully to this obedience;—when a man sees that his neighbours all believe that he has had justice done, he begins involuntarily to believe it himself; finding no sympathy in his gall and bitterness, he is quiely compelled to put up with his condition. How different is the situation of a man condemned by a judge whom all suspect, and none love! At every turn the disappointed suitor finds countenance, and sympathising auditors; he charges his judge with unfairness, and they agree with him. Suspicion and hate grow together. The administerer of the law is first hated—then the law; and bitter are the feelings of animosity created in the minds of the multitude by the belief that for them justice is but a name, and law but a cruel step-mother.
On the mode in which English statesmen are accustomed to legislate, the mode recommended by “practical men” and by the haters of “philosophy” and “theory:”
Much care and knowledge would be required to make an accurate and scientific classification of the rights to be conferred, and the obligations imposed on the municipal governments; so that a general rule might be framed, and put into the form of a law. To draw correctly and distinctly the line between these various small jurisdictions and the general government, would demand no ordinary proficiency in the science of legislation; that is, so to draw it, that a complete conception of the whole field of their jurisdiction could be attained by an instructed man on a perusal of the law. It would be easy to perform the task in the ordinary, clumsy mode of English legislation, in which difficulties are avoided only by putting them off to be settled by expensive and doubtful judicial decisions. Any English act of parliament which shall regulate the extent of corporation jurisdictions will, doubtless, contain a confused, illogical, and incomplete list of the powers conferred; an attempt at an enumeration will be made, and appended to it will be a drag net to catch any forgotten or stray right which may have escaped the detail, in a shape, perhaps, like the following: “And all other rights, powers, privileges, or immunities necessary to the due and proper discharge of the several functions above enumerated.” What “rights, powers, privileges, &c.” may be so necessary, will lie hidden in the womb of time till a judgment of a court of law shall give them birth, so that we shall never come to the end of the list. The decisions of the courts will never do more than settle the matter immediately in dispute, and, on every fresh emergency, a new suit, and new decision, will be requisite. To avoid these mischiefs by a previous, complete, and exhaustive classification of the rights and obligations necessary to the end in view, will, we fear, never suggest itself to those whose business it will be to prepare a bill for the consideration of the legislature. To do so would appear too much like the conduct of a philosopher; and a philosopher, as every blockhead is supposed to know and always asserts, is not a practical man. The practical men are the drag-net framers—men to whom nothing suggests itself but what a narrow experience teaches—men who never use thought to learn what may happen, but who are content to task their own memory to remember what has happened. They put down a confused list of particulars in the order in which their memory supplies them, and then complacently crown their work by the capital contrivance of a wide generality, which, as it distinctly specifies nothing, may, upon occasion, be made to signify anything. After this manner have all our laws hitherto been fashioned. Would that we could reasonably hope that, in the case of corporation reform, science was about to assume its proper function, and order and logic to occupy the place of a confused and disorderly enumeration!
In the following passage the defects of the bill formerly proposed by Lord Brougham, for giving corporations to the new boroughs,2 are forcibly exposed. Lord Brougham, we are sure, has long been completely alive to the faults of that hastily concocted measure:
We are not inclined, in any case, to be very solicitous about names merely, but instances do occur in which the effects of a name are of great import. The matter in hand appears one of these. Instead, therefore, of retaining the old, and in themselves unmeaning designations of corporate officers, it would be wise to choose new and significant ones. The designation to which this remark chiefly applies is—aldermen. We propose to do away entirely with the name alderman, and for this reason; aldermen in almost all instances have hitherto been chosen for life. As in the army, once a colonel always a colonel, so in corporations, once an alderman always an alderman. It is deemed not so much an office as a dignity, and to deprive a man of a dignity once attained is contrary to usage and feeling. The idea of permanency is so indissolubly connected with the name, that we see little chance of getting rid of the one without the other. The name, if it now point to any, points to one only, and that an insignificant one, of the many circumstances which should determine the choice of the elector. Alderman, or elder, is one whom, from being old, people believe to be experienced. Now age is but a faulty index to experience—and experience alone is not enough to constitute a good servant of the public. Honesty is an essential quality, and this, unfortunately, has no necessary connexion with experience.
Having got rid of the insignificant name alderman, one difficulty will be removed from our way, when endeavouring to apportion to each officer the business he will have to perform. To each will be affixed a significant name—a name that will distinctly point to, and, in some measure, mark out the duties of his office; while with these appellations no mischievous associations of permanency or dignity will be allied. There is more importance in this matter than inexperienced observers would, at first sight, be inclined to attach to it.
Amongst other offices which we propose to abolish is that of mayor. The aggregate of duties now attached to that office are heterogeneous, and ought in no case to be exercised by one and the same individual. While, on the other hand, there is no need of creating anew any head to the body corporate. Under the proposed system the mayor would not act as judge or magistrate, for these duties would be performed by the regular judge; he would have no administrative office, for all that class of duties would be specifically apportioned to their respective officers. All the members of the town-council to be hereafter spoken of would be equal, and elect their own chairman. To retain a mayor under these circumstances would be to retain a useless incumbrance.
The following passage well deserves the attention of Repealers and anti-Repealers, as the reviewer points out the only rational “adjustment” of the repeal question would be to give Ireland a local legislature for local purposes exclusively, and to give to all other parts of the empire the same advantages:
Much has been said—much more will be said, and perhaps something eventually done—respecting the union of Ireland and England. The remedy—the only effectual one for the evils of which the Irish people justly complain, lies in the due application of the corporation system. They complain that their interests are judged of and controlled by persons at a distance, and ignorant of their affairs. In order to remedy this mischief, it has been proposed to do away with the supreme authority of the imperial legislature. This would certainly avoid the evil complained of, but might entail upon both countries others of still greater magnitude. When there is no higher authority to settle differences between contending governments, war is the arbiter; and between nations so nearly allied as England and Ireland, it behoves us to find, if possible, some means of avoiding so direful a calamity as war. The remedy is at hand, and easy of application. The evil complained of is, that the concerns of the Irish people are administered by persons at a distance, and ignorant respecting them: to obviate this, grant to the people corporation governments. Bring, by this means, the government of their concerns home to their very doors; give large and liberal powers to these subordinate governments, but keep them still subject to the general legislature, and let their limits, under the law, be determined by the judicature. Thus on the one hand we obviate the existing ills, and avoid those that are dreaded in consequence of a separation.
SENIOR’S PREFACE TO THE FOREIGN COMMUNICATIONS IN THE POOR LAW REPORT
This article is in response to the separate publication of Senior’s Preface to App. F of the “Report from His Majesty’s Commissioners for Inquiring into the Administration and Practical Operation of the Poor Laws” (see No. 239), under the title, Statement of the Provision for the Poor, and of the Condition of the Labouring Classes, in a Considerable Portion of America and Europe: Being the Preface to the Foreign Communications Contained in the Appendix to the Poor Law Report (London: Fellowes, 1835). The unheaded leader is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A leading article, in the Globe of 22d June 1835, on Senior’s Preface to the Foreign Communications (Poor Law Report)”
(MacMinn, p. 44).
the value of the recent poor law inquiry has not been confined to the important changes which it has been the means of effecting in our pauper legislation. In itself, and considered merely as an investigation of facts, it is eminently useful. It has afforded almost the first authentic and accurate information ever yet possessed on a subject which has so long been a theme of acrimonious controversy, and which must always be of the deepest interest—the condition of our labouring population. To the facts which the inquiry has elicited on this subject public attention has been forcibly drawn by the subsequent legislative proceedings; but it is not yet so generally known that the evidence taken by the commission affords an equally interesting collection of information on the pauper management and condition of the poor throughout the greater part of the civilized world.
In the year 1833, Lord Palmerston, at the suggestion of the poor law commissioners, issued to all his Majesty’s diplomatic agents in foreign countries a very full and carefully framed set of queries, calculated to elicit complete and clear information on the nature and practical operation of the legal provisions existing in those countries severally for the relief of the poor.1 The answers to these inquiries, together with some valuable communications made by private individuals to the commissioners, have been printed as one of the appendices to the poor law report, and form a large volume. Mr. Senior, to whom his country and mankind are already so largely indebted for his wise and zealous exertions on this subject,2 has, in a preface to the volume in question, exhibited an abridged view of the most important part of its contents; and we are much pleased to see that this preface has been published as a separate volume (of 238 pages), to which we earnestly invite the attention of all who feel interested in a subject, one of the most interesting which ever occupied the thoughts of a statesman or a philosopher.
From the evidence presented by Mr. Senior it appears that the principle of the English poor laws, that of the legal right of every human being to relief, is recognized by nearly half the nations of Europe; and that wherever it exists, the abuses also which have been supposed to be peculiar to England have crept in, but generally to a very moderate extent; and nowhere, except perhaps in the canton of Berne, in Switzerland [pp. 74-84], has the laxity of poor law administration, and the consequent degradation of the labouring classes, reached a height at all comparable to what was nearly universal in this country before the late poor law act. In the very able statement which the government of Berne did not think it troublesome or beneath their dignity to frame and communicate to his Majesty’s Consul, Mr. Morier,* the reader will see a picture of evils very closely resembling those we see here, and, what is more remarkable, a government which understands and is capable of explaining their nature and origin.3 In Berne, accordingly, and in general wherever the abuses have reached a formidable height, measures are in contemplation for repressing them; and chiefly by the very means which have been recently adopted in this country—the establishment of a central control; for the countries where no such control exists are uniformly those in which the abuses are greatest.
For the most part, however, the principle of compulsory relief has not produced in foreign countries evils at all comparable to those which have been engrafted on it here; and Mr. Senior is even of opinion that “in the majority of the nations which have adopted it, the existing system appears to work well.” [P. 84.] He then points out with remarkable good sense and discrimination the circumstances which in those countries have operated as checks to abuse. After mentioning, 1st. that in some of the countries in question the labouring classes are still serfs (which entirely alters the state of the question in regard to them); and 2ndly, that in most of the others the compulsory system is still in its infancy [pp. 84-5], Mr. Senior proceeds to give further highly important details of the points of difference which exist in the state of the labouring population in this and other countries [pp. 85-94], which we extract elsewhere at some length, under the head of “Contemporary Press.”4 We have preferred to give these valuable particulars in Mr. Senior’s words rather than in our own.
In that part of the volume which relates to the countries which recognise no legal claim to relief (in most of which, however, there is extensive pauperism, and an organised system of public charity) the reader will find much interesting information. We would direct his attention particularly to the account of the much-vaunted “Home Colonization” system of Belgium and Holland, which, from the facts here stated, plainly appears to be, what from general principles one might have predicted that it would be, a miserable failure.5
FIRST REPORT OF THE POOR LAW COMMISSIONERS
This unheaded leader, a comment on “First Annual Report of the Poor Law Commissioners for England and Wales,” PP, 1835, XXXV, 107-359, is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A notice of the First Report of the Commissioners under the Poor Laws Amendment Act, printed as a leading article in the Globe of 8th September 1835”
(MacMinn, p. 45).
the first annual report of the Commissioners1 for carrying into effect the Poor Laws Amendment Act has just been laid before parliament, and we are glad to learn that Lord John Russell has directed that, like the report of the Commissioners of Poor Law Inquiry,2 it shall be printed in an octavo form and rendered accessible to the public at large.
So great a reform in the details of the administration of so important and complicated a branch of the institutions of a great country—a reform, too, which, both before and since its passing, has stirred up such a mass of prejudiced or interested hostility—was likely, in the commencement, to be attended with many difficulties. The difficulties, however, appear in this, as in many other cases, to have vanished as soon as they were steadfastly looked at and boldly encountered. It is truckling, it is a timid and wavering policy, which creates difficulties. Those who court opposition, by showing that they fear it, always meet with plenty of it. The authors of the Poor Law Bill were masters of their subject, and therefore knew that they were right; and knowing the right they dared do it, and relied upon the good sense of the nation for bearing them through. Nor were they disappointed. The Commissioners for executing the act have followed in the steps of its framers, and have carried the provisions of the act into effect through a great portion of the most pauperised parts of England, with a facility which scarcely any of the supporters of the bill expected, and already with a good effect which gives the most complete confirmation to all their predictions.
Before we extract for the benefit of our readers any part of the information contained in the report, we must remark how admirable a precedent has been introduced into our legislation by that provision of the act to which this report owes its origin;3 and how much it were to be desired that not only a Board merely created for a special purpose, like the Poor Law Board, but that all public offices, new or old, should be required to lay before parliament annual reports of their proceedings during the year, with full statements, such as the present report contains, of the reasons of any of those proceedings the grounds of which are not obvious. Such a regulation would not only afford encouragement and reward to a good administration of the several departments, while it imposed a salutary restraint upon bad, but it would be a check upon the Ministers of the Crown in the distribution of patronage; it would compel them to place able and efficient men at the heads of departments, because ignorance, incapacity, or negligence, not to mention worse faults, would be at once detected by the necessity of an annual statement and vindication of all the proceedings of the department, and by the discussions to which those statements would give rise.
The Commissioners have, during the first year of their administration—
1. Corrected numerous misunderstandings of the intention of the act, and diffused through the whole country a better knowledge of its purposes and provisions.
2. Occasioned a very general substitution, by the parishes themselves, of relief in kind for relief in money; the effect of which has been a very considerable reduction of the amount of out-door pauperism. It is remarkable that in the only cases in which any local disturbances have been produced by the operations of the Commissioners, the provocation has consisted not in the refusal of relief, the introduction of the workhouse system, &c., but in the substitution of bread for money; thus showing clearly the real origin of the dissatisfaction.
3. They have effected unions of parishes throughout a large part of the most pauperised counties, placing each union under a representative body, or Board of Guardians, elected by the rate payers. The consequences of this change have already been most salutary. It is not only the sole means by which the grand remedy of poor law evils, the introduction of the workhouse system, can be effected, but it is also the only system by which local jobbing and peculation can be arrested, and an agency, as well superior as subordinate, obtained of adequate respectability and skill.
4. They have facilitated (what under the old law of settlement4 was virtually impossible) the migration of labourers and their families from the parishes where they were superabundant, to the manufacturing towns where there was a pressing demand for new hands.
5. They have formed rules to be observed by the Boards of Guardians in conducting their business, and for the management of workhouses.
The number of parishes which have already been formed into unions are 2,066, constituting 110 unions; their population forms one-tenth of the population of England and Wales; their rates one sixth of the amount for the whole kingdom. In the unions which have been formed for a sufficient length of time to allow of a comparison, a very great reduction of rates has already been effected. A statement furnished in p. 26 of the report shows a reduction of 4,384l. on a total of 13,889l., or about 30 per cent. The effect on the labourers themselves has been admirable. Wherever the allowances in aid of wages have been discontinued, wages have risen, and the whole of the able-bodied paupers have found employment, generally within the parish. We shall find room to-morrow for such extracts from the report itself as may best illustrate and confirm our foregoing observations.5
The Commissioners have expounded the principles upon which they act, with a degree of clearness and precision which will give confidence to the late Commissioners of Inquiry,6 and supporters of the act, that the measure will not be injured in the execution by acting upon partial views, or without that knowledge of sound principles, and confidence in their operation, which is essential to the success of such an undertaking. The determination announced of applying general rules to the un-united parishes, and of enforcing one uniform system of accounts, is a subject of especial congratulation. If the Commissioners complete their task with the same attention to general principles, with the same firm yet cautious perseverance which they appear to have exercised at the commencement of their duties, the country will owe them a debt of gratitude second only to that which is due by the country to the late Commissioners of Inquiry by whom the measures were prepared.
THE HOUSE OF LORDS 
Leaders on the House of Lords had appeared on p. 2 of the Globe and Traveller on 29 and 30 Sept., and 1, 2, 3, 7, and 8 Oct., 1835. The British Upper House attracted Mill’s attention as well as the public’s at this time; see his letter to Tocqueville in September (EL, CW, Vol. XII, p. 272), his “Postscript: The Close of the Session” (CW, Vol. VI, pp. 312-17), and, continuing his argument, No. 281. This letter is headed as title, with the subhead: “To the Editor of the Globe.” It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A letter signed A. on the Reform of the House of Lords, in the Globe of 9th October 1835”
(MacMinn, p. 45).
I am about to address you on a subject which is at this moment engaging the attention of the whole nation, which will never again cease to engross all minds until it shall be set at rest, and which has been treated by none of the organs and directors of public opinion with so much judgment and wisdom as by your journal. I need not say that I mean the Reform of the House of Lords. And I could not help beginning by expressing the admiration which I feel for the spirit in which you have discussed this question, because I am about seriously to controvert some of the opinions which you have recently put forth in regard to it.
You have very wisely deemed it to be no longer a question whether any reform is needful in the Tories’ house, nor whether that reform should amount to a thorough change in its constitution. These are now evident. We are free to constitute our second chamber in the best manner; and we have only to inquire what the best manner is—conformity to received ideas and feelings being of course one of the elements of which the excellence of this, as of any other political institution, is composed, but by no means the sole, or even the principal element.
Various plans have been proposed for so improving the composition of the Upper House that it shall no longer make a practice of thwarting all the popular measures of the Lower.
The first is, a large creation of Peers. But this seems to be at length generally given up. It would swell the house to a bulk altogether unsuitable for deliberation; and as the new members would, from the very moment of their elevation, be placed in exactly the same misleading position as their predecessors, the remedy would have to be repeated at every new advance of the public mind, and would therefore be altogether nugatory.
All other plans seem to resolve themselves into one or other of these two:—To make the House of Lords a senate for life, named by the King; or to make it a representative body. You, Sir, have suggested, as preferable to either, a scheme which (pardon the expression) appears to offer an infelicitous combination of both.
You propose that the Upper House should consist of 200 members—one hundred to be named for life by the King, the other hundred to be elected for a term of years by the Peers themselves, as the representative Peers of Scotland and Ireland are now chosen by the collective peerage of those ancient kingdoms.1
You have proposed arrangements which would prevent the Tory majority of the Peerage from engrossing the whole of the representative portion of your proposed Upper Chamber.2 The Whig minority would obtain a certain number of representatives, but of course nothing like a majority.
On the first introduction of your plan it would, no doubt, if the Whigs remain in office, effect the desired change in the politics of the body. The Tories would indeed have a large majority of the hundred representative Peers; but a still larger majority, or the whole of the Peers for life, named by a Whig ministry, would of course be Whigs.
Suppose, however, either of two things: It is generally believed that the Tories, now and at all times, are only prevented from making a fresh trial of the people’s patience by their own conviction that the opportunity would be of no service to them. But suppose that immediately after the passing of the House of Lords’ amendment act, the Tories should be brought into power for the sole purpose of selecting the 100 Peers for life out of their own body. The Tories would then become even more predominant in the House of Lords than at present. They would nominate the whole of the life Peers, and a large majority of the representative ones.
Or, dropping this hypothesis, let us suppose that no such unfortunate occurrence of circumstances takes place, and that the Whig ministry obtain the nomination of the whole 100 Peers for life. What kind of persons will they be likely to nominate?
I maintain that they will nominate almost exclusively the most aristocratic and least popular among the considerable members of the Whig party. In the first place, the nomination of such persons is most conformable to the received idea of a Second Chamber, which, it is always understood, ought to be of a more Conservative character than the Lower House, whose supposed democratic and innovating tendencies it is intended to restrain. In the next place, it is a supposition probable in itself, and borne out by experience in a neighbouring country, that a ministry will usually nominate to the Upper Chamber those among their adherents who have least chance of being elected to the Lower. Those who can find seats in the House of Commons are for the most part likely to be of more use to their party there than elsewhere; especially if they be men of popular talents. In France, a peerage is the ordinary consolation tendered to a ministerial deputy who has lost his seat and sees no probability of getting another.
I am, therefore, entitled to assume that the Peers for life would chiefly consist of that portion of the Whig party who have most in common with the Tories—who on questions on which their party is divided, such as the corn laws, the taxes on knowledge, the ballot, triennial parliaments, and many others, would be most likely to take the unpopular side; and who, on any schism which, on these or other questions, might take place in the Whig party, would be most likely to join the Tories. If the reform of the House of Lords on a plan similar to yours had taken place two years ago, the men most likely to have been selected would in great part have belonged to the class of public men who have since been called the Waverers.
For these reasons, it appears to me inevitable that a time would soon come when a large majority of the Peers for life, by whatever ministry nominated, would be again in open opposition to the spirit of the Lower House. Another modification, therefore, in the House of Lords would be necessary; and your plan does not provide any means by which an adequate one could be made.
On your plan the number of Peers to be named by the Crown is limited to a hundred. This list would of course be filled up immediately. No means, therefore, would exist of modifying the spirit of this part of the body, except by the slow process of supplying the vacancies caused by death or resignation. The Crown and the House of Commons could only break a hostile majority by operating upon the other half of the body, the representative portion.
Now, of this portion, while the peerage is Tory, a very large majority would consist of Tories. The only means, therefore, of restoring harmony between the two branches of the legislature would be to create new Peers equal in number to almost the entire British Peerage augmented by that of Scotland and Ireland.
It is true, that to so extensive a creation the objection would no longer exist of its rendering the Upper House too numerous for deliberation. The creation of Peers would then be a creation of electors only, not of representatives. But though free from this objection, would not so great an addition to the body, liable also to be continually repeated, so lower the value and importance of the peerage, that no minister, with the feelings and opinions of nearly all the present generation of public men, would choose to have recourse to it?
And besides, this remedy, even if resorted to, might not accomplish the desired object. On your plan the minority of the peerage would have the power of returning some portion of the representative Peers; indeed, if not, the show of representation would be a mockery; the representatives would either represent the present Tory body exclusively, or the Crown exclusively. Let us say, then, that even after so large a creation of Whig Peers, the Tory body, who now predominate in the peerage, would still be represented by a portion, say one-third of the representative peerage; all, therefore, which ministers would have accomplished by even so great a change in the composition of the collective British peerage would be to get two-thirds of the 100 representative Peers on their side. Now, if it should happen, which it very well might, that from any of the causes to which I have already alluded, more than two-thirds of the Peers for life, who compose the other 100, should turn against them, they would not, even by such a strong measure as that which I have supposed, have obtained a majority of the whole body.
For these and other reasons, I conceive that the plan which you propose for the re-organization of the Upper House could not be permanent, and would only prove the commencement of a series of successive modifications, which would end in leaving us without any Upper Chamber at all. As it is the second blow which makes the quarrel, so it is the second change which destroys confidence in the permanency of what is established, and creates general instability. It is therefore of the greatest importance that when we once touch an institution we should mend it thoroughly, so that it shall not require to be touched again.
In a future communication I will, with your permission, state the reasons I have to urge in favour of the plan which, of all yet proposed for the reform of the House of Lords, appears to me the most likely to be capable of being permanently adhered to.
I have the honour to be, Sir, yours respectfully,
THE HOUSE OF LORDS 
For the context and the heading, see No. 280. the letter is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A second letter signed A. on the Reform of the House of Lords, in the Globe of 16th Oct. 1835”
(MacMinn, p. 46).
In a former communication I have attempted to explain the objections to which it occurred to me that the particular scheme which you had suggested for the reform of the House of Lords was justly liable. I will now propound that which seems to me at once the most effectual, and the least exceptionable which could be suggested, for effecting such a change in the composition of that house as shall render it at once efficient for the ends which are commonly regarded as requiring the existence of a Second Chamber, and unlikely to set itself in opposition to what is good in the acts and purposes of the First.
I must begin by observing, that in proposing a scheme for present adoption I regard myself as precluded from recommending any which should interfere with existing names, or radically alter the associations at present connected with those names; the House of Lords, reformed, must still be a House of Lords—not another House of Commons; its members must be drawn from the Peerage only, and the Peerage must, as heretofore, be recruited solely by the crown. I say this not from any superstitious reverence for ancient usages, nor from a belief that an Upper Chamber composed of a titled and privileged class is in itself the best which could be constituted. I say it because, in a government which is to be (as it is necessary that all governments should now be) essentially popular—and in which, therefore, even the barriers which we erect to restrain the unenlightened or incautious exercise of the people’s will must be such barriers as the people themselves will voluntarily forbear to overstep—in such a state of things we cannot afford to lose any hold over the people’s minds which existing names, historical recollections, traditional attachment, custom, and imagination already give to the institutions which are designed to serve that purpose. Give us a good Upper House, and if you can call it a House of Lords the people will tolerate in that house a greater degree of independence in the exercise of its constitutional authority, than they will bear from a body created but of yesterday, with a new name and composed in a completely new manner. Now, no one will doubt that it is desirable that the Upper House, being just so constituted as to have no interest in abusing its powers, should then be allowed as much latitude for the conscientious exercise of them as the people can be induced to permit. It should therefore remain a House of Lords.
But although the question for our consideration is not what would be the best Upper House if we were making a new constitution for a new people, but how we can best remodel the present House of Lords without taking away its character as such—yet, in considering this we ought to have before us an idea of the kind of Upper Chamber which is best in the abstract, in order that we may render the House of Lords as similar to that ideal Upper House as is consistent with the limits within which we must confine our innovations.
The object of an Upper House, when the Lower House is chosen by the people, is to ensure a revision of the enactments passed by the Lower. Now a revision is of no use, if made by a body no wiser than that whose acts it is to revise. The Upper Chamber, therefore, must not be elected by the same constituency as the House of Commons, otherwise it would be merely another, and probably a worse, House of Commons; and, at the best, every able man whom the people might elect to it would be an able man subtracted from the Lower House.
On the other hand, the revising body must not be so chosen, nor hold their office on such a tenure, that they shall have no motive to consult the public good; much less should they, like the present House of Lords, have the strongest motive to the pursuit of ends irreconcilable with the public good. They must not constitute a caste—they must not hold their power from themselves only, without the possibility of discharging them from their office if they misconduct themselves. There must be security, and effectual security, for their doing their duty. That security the public mind is now too much enlightened by experience, to expect from any other principle than responsibility; in other words, removability. The members of the Upper House must be chosen, and the choice must be revocable—not indeed by the people, the objections to that I have already stated, but by some party identified in interest with the people; some party, therefore, responsible to the people, and deriving its origin from popular choice.
No such body can be thought of for this purpose, except the House of Commons.
I conceive that the best Upper House would be an Upper House chosen by the Lower; with the necessary proviso that they should not choose any of their own members.
An Upper House so chosen would be completely identified in interest with the Lower House, and with the people. They could pursue the same ends, and act on the same general principles. But they would be a wiser, a more instructed and discreet body. It may very reasonably be assumed that a select body, like the House of Commons, would be more careful and more enlightened judges of the merits of philosophers and statesmen than a numerous constituency, provided they really desired to choose the fittest men. And that they would desire this cannot be doubted, when we consider not only that they would be responsible to the people for the conduct of those whom they chose, but that they would be choosing persons to whom to entrust a veto on their own acts. This would ensure their making choice of men who they believed would aim at the same ends with themselves, and whom they believed the most fitted in point of talents and acquirements to pursue these ends skilfully. Men do not voluntarily bestow the power of controlling their own measures upon any but upon persons in whose intentions and in whose judgment they have full confidence.
One great recommendation of this measure is, that, alone among all plans that I have ever known proposed for the constitution of a popular government, it would ensure to the people (under efficient securities for good conduct) the services of those able and instructed men who are not known to the people, in addition to those who are so. The men of active habits and popular talents, or of personal influence in the constituencies, who would in general be elected to serve in the House of Commons, would look out for a different class of persons to serve in the Upper House: they would look out for men who had qualified themselves, by hard study and superior mental cultivation, to put the wishes or resolves of the people, or of the people’s direct representatives, into a practicable shape; to chuse their legislative expedients, and to draw up their enactments in a circumspect and cautious manner, so as to avoid those collateral inconveniences, not sufficiently considered in the pursuit of the main object, which are apt to arise from the legislatorial attempts of purely popular assemblies. A nation which should adopt such a constitution for its Upper Chamber would do much to free itself from the greatest inconvenience of representative governments—crude and unskilled legislation.
If you, Sir, or any of your correspondents, can suggest any plan which would so completely attain the ends of an Upper House, and at the same time afford any thing like the same security against the errors to which a badly constituted Upper House is liable, I shall be happy to re-consider my opinion, and to discuss the matter further in your columns.1
In the meantime I have one inference still to draw. If, as I think, an Upper House chosen by the Lower, with a restriction against choosing any of themselves, be the best Upper House conceivable, it follows that when our Upper House must be constituted within the conditions of a House of Lords, the best House of Lords conceivable would be a House of Lords selected (at the beginning of every parliament) from the entire Peerage by the House of Commons. It might be advisable as a part of this scheme that either branch of the legislature should have the power of addressing the King to create any particular person a Peer; but whether this would be essential admits of doubt, as the King’s minister, who would generally share the sentiments of the majority of both houses, would have a strong interest in keeping the Peerage properly recruited with eligible persons.
I throw out this plan, Sir (as you said of that which you yourself suggested), for general consideration.2 I do not believe that any so simple, so easy in its working, or so efficient for all its purposes, can be found; but if it can, I trust some of your correspondents, or, what would be still better, yourself, will suggest that better plan, or point out the objections, unforeseen by me, to which it is possible that my proposition may be liable.
GRANT’S ARITHMETIC FOR YOUNG CHILDREN AND EXERCISES FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE SENSES
This review, containing material important in understanding Mill’s views of education, is of two books by Mill’s friend, walking companion, and colleague in the Examiner’s Office of the East India Company, Horace Grant (1800-59), who wrote a number of elementary textbooks of which these were the first, issued by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. The article, in the “Literary Examiner,” is headed “Arithmetic for Young Children; being a series of exercises exemplifying the manner in which Arithmetic should be taught to young children. [London: Knight, 1835.] / Exercises for theImprovement of the Senses, for Young Children. By the Author of Arithmetic for Young Children. [London: Knight, 1835.]” It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A notice of Grant’s ‘Arithmetic for young children’ and ‘Exercises on the Senses’ in the Globe of 23d October 1835”
(MacMinn, p. 46).
under the above titles the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge have given to the world the first two works of a series which promises to outweigh in utility all that the Society has yet produced. The appearance of these works amounts to a reform in elementary education.
They are, in fact, the very first works which completely carry into practice, from the earliest commencement of instruction, those principles of teaching which the wisest writers on education have long inculcated, but which have mostly remained barren theories, because no one had submitted to the irksome drudgery of contriving in detail a system of means for carrying the principles into effect.
It has, for instance, been long felt that there are two methods of what is called instruction, which are as remote from each other as light from darkness. One of these is the system of cram; the other is the system of cultivating mental power. One proposes to stuff a child’s memory with the results which have been got at by other people; the other aims at qualifying its mind to get at results by its own observation, experience, and reflection. One treats a child like a creature that has nothing but a memory, and loads that memory with words, trusting to Providence for enabling the child some time or other to put a meaning into those words; the other considers the child as possessing intelligence as well as memory, and believes it to be the main object of instruction to strengthen that intelligence by judicious exercise. The one (to give a sample of the whole) teaches a child the Latin language by making him learn by rote rules of syntax written in the very language which they are to help him to learn; the other does not even give rules at all till the pupil is sufficiently acquainted with the language to be able to understand them, but makes him learn the theory by seeing it at work in his own practice, and instead of beginning with abstractions, helps him to rise gradually to those abstractions through the means by which they were first arrived at, namely, through an accurate knowledge of the particular facts which they are generalizations of.
The ultimate point, the climax, of the method of cram, has been for the first time reached in our age; it is called the system of Jacotot,1 and surpasses all former specimens of the cram method in this, that former cram-doctors crammed an unfortunate child’s memory with abstract propositions in metaphysics, morals, religion, &c., which could not possibly to them have any meaning; but Jacotot, thinking it very improper to teach a child that certain propositions are truths, without giving them the reasons that prove them to be such, actually makes the unfortunate creature get by rote not only the propositions, but the reasons too!
As Jacotot, by his caricature of the cram system, has brought nobly into relief its intrinsic absurdity, so the author of the works before us (Mr. Horace Grant) has shown still more strongly than any one else the excellence of the system which considers a child as a being endowed with reason—by the admirable specimen which he has afforded of the means of bringing that reason into exercise from the earliest years.—In arithmetic, for instance, hardly any child, and not many grown persons, as at present taught, have any idea of numbers but as marks on a slate, or of the rules of arithmetic but as a set of mechanical operations more like tricks of legerdemain than anything else.
Mr. Grant has, in these works, so chosen the ideas to be presented to the child’s mind, and has presented them in such an order, that the child’s intellect is carried with him throughout; and at every step the child acquires not only a set of sounds, but ideas, and with those ideas the habit of really discovering truths for himself; of using his eyes, his hands, all his perceptive faculties, and his first nascent powers of judgment and reasoning. This is done, not with the absurd purpose of preventing the child from acquiring abstract notions, or inclining him to reject all general propositions of which he cannot be made to understand the evidence. That many truths must be taken upon trust from others is inevitable; but though the child must be told many things which he cannot himself investigate, still those things which he can investigate he should be taught to investigate: those things which are level to his faculties—to all our faculties—he should be accustomed not to get by rote without understanding, but to understand, and not merely to understand, but whenever possible to find out for himself.
We cannot conclude without adding, that we have had the testimonies of several intelligent mothers to the admirable adaptation of these works to the intended purposes, and the delight, as well as permanent benefit, which children derive from them.
WAKEFIELD’S POPULAR POLITICS
Mill’s return to the newspapers after an absence of more than a year shows his continued interest in the views of Wakefield, especially at a time when his hopes for Radical coherence and strength were high. This review, in the “Literary Examiner,” is headed “Popular Politics. By Edward Gibbon Wakefield, Esq. [London:] Charles Knight. [1837.]” It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A notice of E.G. Wakefield’s ‘Popular Politics’ in the Examiner of 29th January 1837”
(MacMinn, p. 48).
this is not a new book, but consists of “Extracts from various publications, by the same author, all of which are out of print.”1 They are mostly from his writings on the Punishment of Death,2 or from England and America—a work which, though very extensively known to be from his pen, Mr. Wakefield had not, so far as we are aware, hitherto avowed.3
Mr. Wakefield is one of the most vigorous and effective writers of our time. But we do not think that this little volume gives an adequate notion of his merits. It is a book of fragments, and Mr. Wakefield, whether as a thinker or a writer, shines less in parts than in the whole. As a writer, his forte is general effect, while the means by which he produces it will not always bear a critical inspection. His thoughts, indeed, like all thoughts of value, might be exhibited, successfully, for some purposes, in small compass: but such is not his way of exhibiting them; he rather (and it is to this he owes the great success of his works) places a principle before us, clothed in properties and circumstances, than nakedly, and in the abstract he shows us the principle actually at work, makes us see how many things it explains, and even in how wide a sphere its influence is exerted. Though his thoughts are large and comprehensive, it is by an accumulation of details that he makes them tell. If those details are exhibited partially, the effect is not produced.
The fundamental idea, for instance, of England and America, was, that the peculiarity in the economical condition of most old countries is a scarcity, not of labour in proportion to capital, nor of capital in proportion to labour, but of land, in proportion both to the one and the other.4 The mode in which he proved this was by a survey of all the leading economical circumstances of English society, the condition of every particular class, and especially the uneasinesses of every particular class; and of these he gave a picture, which for graphic power and coarse vigour of colouring, has hardly ever been exceeded. Having brought these various phenomena thus vividly before the imagination, he showed that the cause he had assigned, deficiency of land in proportion to labour and capital, or excess of labour and capital in proportion to land, was at the root of them all. His conclusion was, that the resource is to remedy the disproportion; to extend our soil, partly by rendering foreign soils virtually ours, through the free admission of their produce, and partly by systematic colonization of the immense uncultivated tracts of our ultramarine possessions, on the only rational plan possible—the plan which Mr. Wakefield invented, and which Parliament has adopted as the basis of the new colony of South Australia.5
All this is done, and done most powerfully in the book: but comparatively little of the same power is apparent in the fragments now detached from it, because the effect depends on the concatenation. Nevertheless, some of the passages are sufficiently long, and sufficiently complete in themselves, to be read with interest, and with some, though far from an adequate feeling of the author’s powers. We would instance, particularly, his sketch of the middle, or, as he terms it, the “uneasy” class (pp. 26-47).6
The passage in which is extracted most of the marrow of the book, is that entitled “Ships, Colonies, and Commerce” (pp. 87-97).7 Some of the passages from his writings on capital punishment, and on transportation, bear extraction better; such as that most highly-wrought description of a “Condemned Sermon:”8 but the interest in these topics is, for the present, at least, comparatively suspended.
There are some few passages, mostly near the beginning, which we regret to see; that, for instance, which is headed “The bold Peasantry of England,”9 to which the author has had the grace to prefix “written in 1831;” but it would have been better, we think, not to have included among his extracts a passage which the light since thrown upon the condition of the people has shown to be fundamentally erroneous. The peasantry are not, and were not, in the condition of physical privation described in that passage; and the higher classes, though chargeable with most of the other offences he imputes to them, were far from meriting the reproach implied in such expressions as “they make rates of wages, elaborately calculating the minimum of food that will keep together the soul and body of a clodhopper.” [P. 7.] On the contrary they produced boundless mischief by errors on the contrary side—that of profuse distribution of relief, and misplaced humanity. Again, we altogether question Mr. Wakefield’s position that gin-drinking is the effect of poverty.10 The Poor Law Inquiry has gone far to establish that, in the towns where alone gin-drinking prevails, the wages even of the lowest class of labourers are such as utterly to preclude anything like actual want where there is reasonable industry and economy.11 We believe that the gin-drinking population is the vicious population, not the indigent. We have objections to make to some other passages, but we waive the invidious task of selecting the bad particles from so much good. Mr. Wakefield’s fault as a writer is that of overcolouring for effect, and his tints generally require to be lowered a little to render them consistent with nature; but his outlines—always bold—are generally correct. Some of his political doctrines, we may add, require considerable qualifications.
We cannot close without expressing our great admiration of the narrative and dramatic power displayed in the historical sketch of the recent political events in England, which Mr. Wakefield has given us in his England and America, and which we wish he had reprinted entire.12 The fragments of it which he has given in this volume, though sufficient to recal our fading reminiscences, can convey no adequate conception to those to whom the great original is not known. We quote, however, one passage:
At length, on the memorable 1st of March, 1831, the Whig cabinet produced their bill, themselves alone being aware of its contents until it was laid before the House of Commons.
An abstract of the Whig bill would not describe it so well as an account of its reception by the three great parties which then divided the country.
The Conservatives, including those who quarreled with Wellington on account of Catholic relief, were delighted with the bill; they chuckled, and laughed, and clapped their hands. Was there ever, said they, anything so extravagant? The Whigs must be mad: thank God, they had gone far enough. Such a bill! revolutionary was too good an epithet for it. So ridiculous, so preposterous a bill would not be read a first time. The Whigs must resign; they had cut their own throats; nothing could be better.
The feeling of the moderate Reformers was expressed by one of the richest men in England, a Whig, but leaning to utilitarian opinions. He declared in the House of Commons, that the bill took away his breath. Perhaps he was affected, not so much by the bill itself, as by the evidence, which the introduction of such a bill by the cabinet furnished of the force of the popular will.
The decided enemies of the Constitution having examined the bill, said—It is a good first step: pass it, pass it!13
We know not whether this passage, standing by itself, will be felt by others as we feel it, who are acquainted with the whole of which it is but a minute part; but to us it seems that a history of England, written in this style, would be one of the most popular historical productions ever printed.
THE SALE OF COLONIAL LAND
A Select Committee on the Disposal of Colonial Lands, for which Henry Ward was responsible and which he chaired, had been appointed on 8 June, 1836. On 31 Jan., 1837, Ward gave notice in the Commons of his intention to bring forward on 21 Feb. a bill for the sale and distribution of waste lands in the British colonies to encourage and support emigration (not in PD; reported in The Times, 1 Feb., p. 3). He did not, however, present his motion on 21 Feb., nor on 2 May, as he had said on 9 Mar. that he would (again not in PD; see The Times, 10 Mar., p. 4). Mill’s article, his only contribution to the True Sun, appears to have been written to free W.J. Fox, its editor, to write for the London and Westminster (Mill had need himself for relief in these busy months). On 15 Mar., 1837, thanking W.J. Fox for his “Bulwer’s Tragedies,” which appeared in the April number of the London and Westminster, pp. 247-70, Mill says: “I would gladly, whenever possible, give a good many articles to T.S. for such another” (EL, CW, Vol. XII, p. 331). The unheaded leader is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A leading article in the True Sun of 22d February 1837, on Mr. Ward’s intended motion respecting the sale of land in the colonies”
(MacMinn, p. 48).
the examiner once speaking of the course which a Liberal Ministry and House of Commons should take with a Tory House of Lords, pithily and expressively described that course in these words: “Bombard it with good measures.”1 For the first time, the Radicals in Parliament are holding this same course towards the House of Commons itself and towards the Ministry; bombarding them with good measures. How often in every year since 1832, have the Radicals been consulted, urged, entreated to do this—and in vain; but they are bidding fair now to redeem all past errors, thanks to the spirit and energy which a few of their younger members, men who have grown up to political maturity during those years of inaction, at length seem to be infusing into the hitherto inert body of Parliamentary Radicalism.
Among the propositions about to be brought forward by Radical members, there is one, the importance of which may possibly escape notice, but which if carried would produce a more immediate and obvious benefit to the industrious classes generally, and to the labouring class above all, than even the great constitutional changes which we are contending for. We allude to Mr. Ward’s motion, for regulating the sale of public lands in the Colonies, or as it might appropriately be termed, for bridging over the Atlantic. It is, briefly, a most effectual and well conceived plan for making emigration pay its own expenses; by which, if practicable on a sufficient scale (and that it is so we have no manner of doubt) the whole labouring population of Great Britain and Ireland might, in spite of Corn Laws and the tax gatherer, very soon come into the enjoyment of American wages, as surely as they would if these two islands could actually hoist sail and cast anchor off the American coast.
The means are no other than those the efficacy of which has for years been so powerfully enforced in the various publications of the original and vigorous author of England and America.2 The Government of the United States sells all its waste lands, and by their sale raises a revenue exceeding the entire expense of the Federal Government. The waste lands in the transmarine possessions of this country have till lately been given, not sold; it is proposed that they should be sold, and the proceeds of the sale appropriated by act of Parliament, towards defraying the expense of carrying out labourers to cultivate them. In order that the money may go as far as possible towards the object, it is proposed to limit the emigration to young married couples, in order that the greatest power of future increase may be carried out at the smallest expense. It is unnecessary to say that no emigration is contemplated, but such as is, in the fullest sense of the word, voluntary: nothing so monstrous being thought of, as that any persons should be compelled to emigrate, either by direct means, or by the indirect method of making the relief of their necessities dependent upon that condition.
It is well known that labour, in a new country, when aided by the means and appliances3 of civilization, is very greatly more productive than it is in the old countries of Europe. Every party of emigrants, therefore, who go out, produce so much more by their labour in America or Australia, than they produce in England, that the surplus would probably in a single year more than repay the expenses of their passage; and thus perpetually renew the fund for carrying out other emigrants. The proposed plan, however, does not call upon emigrants to repay the expenses of their passage. It relies upon a different principle. Each set of emigrants so increases the resources and the wealth of the country in which they settle, that the means there exist of cultivating more land, and more land therefore (we may safely conclude) will be purchased. The purchase-money is to be applied to the very purpose which is most advantageous to the purchaser, namely, to providing him with the hired labour necessary for making his land yield the greatest net return. But while thus the colony will be not a loser but eminently a gainer by what it pays, these payments will form a perpetual, and for a long time a constantly increasing fund for defraying the expenses of emigration; since the greater the emigration the more land will be taken, and the more land is taken, the greater will be the means of further emigration.
For the calculations which have been made as to the probable amount of the emigration fund, and the immense effect which the subtraction of so many labourers, consisting exclusively of young married couples, would have upon the market for labour in this country, and especially in Ireland, the reader may refer to the various publications on the subject. But we can add our own testimony to that of Mr. Ward, when he affirms in his late pamphlet, that he has never known any sensible man who did not become a convert to these views when he could once be prevailed upon to apply his mind to the question.4 Some striking instances of this were afforded in the last session, when a committee of the House of Commons (Mr. Ward himself was the chairman) containing some of the most able and influential men of all parties, most of whom were new to the subject, entered into a full investigation of it, and ended by almost unanimously adopting the views on which Mr. Ward’s intended motion is founded.5
We understand that the motion will be opposed by Ministers, that is, by the Colonial Office, which like most other Governments and departments of Governments, does not like to divest itself of arbitrary power: but we believe that not only the bulk of the Radicals, but many of the most influential men of the Tories, will vote with Mr. Ward, and that the Ministry will have the almost undivided discredit of resisting, and vainly resisting, the most important proposition for the physical well-being of the working classes, which ever, perhaps, came before the British Legislature.
COMMERCIAL CRISIS IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
The American “Panic of 1837” in March, preceded by inflation, credit expansion, and wild speculation in public lands, was marked by bank failures and refusal to convert notes into specie. Nine States defaulted on interest due on European debts. This is apparently the only original article contributed by Mill to the Guide, founded on 22 Apr. by his friend Henry Cole (1808-82). It appeared in “Commercial & Housekeeper’s Guide,” a regular feature. The article is not listed in Mill’s bibliography, but in Cole’s file copy in the Victoria and Albert Museum he has written “J. Mill” at the head, as he has above an extract (in the Guide, 18 June, 1837, p. 68) from a review of Carlyle’s FrenchRevolution, which Mill had already written for the July number of the London and Westminster (CW, Vol. XX, pp. 131-66; the extract is from pp. 134-6).
the recent intelligence from america has caused a most salutary revolution in the state of commercial confidence, and justifies us in saying that the most critical period of the mercantile pressure has now past.1 It was feared that when the difficulties of the American houses in England became known in America, and produced their natural consequences, in a crash among the mercantile houses of the United States, those houses would satisfy their American engagements first, and their English creditors when they could. Dependent as our American houses were for the fulfilment of their engagements here, upon a speedy repayment of some portion of their advances to America, such conduct, on the part of their American correspondents, would have compelled nearly the whole of them to stop payment; and how far the ruin which this would have spread through the trading communities of England might have extended, or where it might have terminated, no one could venture to divine.
All this evil has been averted by the spirited conduct of the Bank of the United States, who, by stepping forward as the saviours of the commercial credit of their country, will have far more than re-established all the popularity of which General Jackson’s determined hostility can have deprived them.2 They immediately lent their credit to the merchants, to the extent of two millions of dollars; and granted bills to that amount to enable them to pay their debts, and specie to meet those bills is now on its way to this country. The other Banks emulated their example; and, as the engagements of the leading Banks of the United States are equal in security to cash, and bear a far higher interest than can be obtained for cash anywhere but in America, the merchants of America have met, or are enabled to meet, all their engagements here; and the pressure upon our mercantile houses, trading with America, may be considered at an end.
NICHOL’S VIEWS OF THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE HEAVENS
John Pringle Nichol (1804-59) was a friend of Mill’s who helped him in the preparation of his Logic (see CW, Vol. VII, pp. lvii-lxiii, 954-1110). Originally a clergyman, who lost his faith and became a teacher, writer, and newspaper editor, Nichol was appointed Regius Professor of Astronomy at Glasgow in 1836. Mill’s review, in the “Literary Examiner,” is headed “Views of the Architecture of the Heavens. In a Series of Letters toa Lady. By J.P. Nichol, LL.D., F.R.S.E., Professor of Practical Astronomy in the University of Glasgow. Tait, Edinburgh; Simpkin and Marshall, London. [1837.]” It is identified in his bibliography as “A notice of Nichol’s Architecture of the Heavens, in the Examiner for 6th August 1837”
(MacMinn, p. 49).
professor nichol is well known in Scotland as one of the most popular of all living lecturers on natural science, and especially on the subject of his present publication—Practical Astronomy. He is less generally, but still extensively, known as one of Scotland’s best political writers; one of her most active and efficient champions of liberal opinions; a political economist of the first rank, as well as an accomplished mathematician; and one who has carried into physical science a sounder philosophy than most mathematicians. At present he comes before us as a popular expositor of a most captivating science, in one of its branches which has still all the attractions of novelty, and which has never yet been treated in a popular manner. Mr. Nichol is the first who has made accessible to the general reader the brilliant discoveries and speculations of the two Herschels on the fixed stars;1 with all the extraordinary views as to the extent, constitution, and history of the visible creation, which those discoveries and speculations have opened. The perspicuity and eloquent fervour of these letters will sustain Mr. Nichol’s reputation as a popular instructor. We regret that, on a subject all whose parts are so intimately interwoven, quotation is almost impossible. We select the following as one of the most quotable passages, and one which well exemplifies Mr. Nichol’s style of illustration:
Call up to your mind an Indian of that old America, when civilisation had not yet disturbed the sombre twilight of its forests; suppose him of a tribe whose wanderings had been confined far within the interior of a range of primeval pines,—how natural for his untutored thought to conceive the wood of his nativity infinite, or that space is all occupied with trees! His eye had never lighted upon one external object,—the forms of his infancy were the forms to which his manhood had been alone accustomed; trees had always environed him, and hemmed in his prospect; so that, on being informed by an instructed traveller of the existence of free and wide savannahs, he must have seemed to hear of something unintelligible and against nature, and have gazed with that very incredulity which fills our minds at the idea of the great firmament being limited like a forest—of our infinite being comprehended within form. But lo!—in his stray wanderings—at a time when his gods smiled upon him—the Indian arrives at a mountain, whose summit reaches beyond the heights of the gigantic pines. He attempts it, overcomes its precipices, and sees—a new world! The forest of his dwelling is mighty, and stretches far; but America is mightier, and numbers of forests, equal to his, luxuriate upon its plains. Where is our mountain, do you ask,—where the height which can pierce these skies? Indeed it is seldom found. Men wander through centuries, in ancient ignorance, without reaching or scaling an elevation capable of showing them beyond it; but in propitious hour, and after long preparation, genius and industry descry it, and straightway the scales fall from our sight. It was the telescope which, in this case, carried us into outer regions, and revealed their contents—hitherto unseen by human eye; and most splendid is the perspective. Divided from our firmament and each other by measureless intervals, numerous firmaments, glorious as ours, float through immensity, doubtless forming one stupendous system, bound together by fine relationships. These remarkable masses are located so deep in space, that to inferior telescopes they seem like faint streaks or spots of milky light upon the blue of the sky; but the instruments which had just been summoned into being resolve their mystery, and disclose their myriads of stars. One of these objects, perhaps the most brilliant in the heavens, is represented in Plate I: it is in the constellation Hercules. After all, how easy the belief to its indwellers, that a mass thus surpassingly gorgeous is infinite. What wonder, although the inhabitant of a planet revolving around one of its central suns, should have mistaken his own magnificent heavens for the universe, and needed the distant and dim vision of our firmament, appearing to his telescopes as a starry speck, to remove the veil from his mind, and give him juster notions of the majesty of creation!
These are truths which, although startling at first, are found so much in harmony with the scheme of nature, that we are soon chiefly astonished that they never occurred to us before: and I can conceive circumstances in which the Indian, after the foregoing revelation had been made to him, would not fail to descry among the internal aspects of his forest, not only distinct intimations of its limitude, but also of its peculiar shape, and even approximate dimensions. Think of the appearances, which would be mainly remarked by an observant man, as characteristic of his position, were the forest infinite or very extensive. In his immediate vicinity the surrounding trees would be well defined, and of the largest proportions; behind these he would see another range, smaller, but also well defined, and so on through many gradations of size and distinctness, until individual trees could no longer be distinguished, and the view would terminate in an unnamed and vague appearance, which I may be permitted to call a diffused woodiness. But if this peculiar background were not seen in every direction, the light of the sky appearing through the trees in different places, the conclusion would be just and manifest, that the forest had not the characteristics of one stretching out indefinitely or even equally on all sides, that in some directions its edges were nearer than in others, or that it was merely a group or stripe of trees having boundaries, and of a particular and ascertainable shape. With these fresh lights turn again to the heavens, asking what is the case with them? If we were in the interior of an infinite and regular stratum, appearances would necessarily be nearly similar all around us—the aspect of the sky on one side would be almost its picture on every other side. The same, or nearly the same number of visible bodies would, as in the infinite forest, be found everywhere; and there would come from behind in all directions, through those recesses in which no single star could be descried, something of the same amount of whitish or milky illumination, arising from the combined effulgence of luminaries individually unseen. But this does not accord with actual phenomena, which rather agree with the second form of our illustration. It is only when we look towards the Milky Way, that these bodies seem to retire indefinitely, and finally to be lost in a diffused starriness; and in all other places the intervals between the luminaries are nearly quite dark, as if there we were closer on the edges of our bed of stars, and therefore saw through it into the external and obscure vacancies of space. The opinion is thus forced on us anew, that we are in the midst of a mere group or cluster of stars, and moreover, that it is a group of peculiar configuration, narrow, but greatly elongated in the line of the Milky Way.
MOLESWORTH’S ADDRESS TO THE ELECTORS OF LEEDS
At the opening of Parliament on 20 Nov., 1837, the Radicals had tried to amend the Address to the Throne to include franchise extension, the ballot, and shorter parliaments. Russell had, for the ministry, replied that such legislation would undermine the stability of British institutions. Mill hoped for effective Radical cohesion in response, as he indicates in a letter to J.P. Nichol of 21 Dec., saying that he had “raved and stormed with no effect, but that of being thought an impracticable enthusiast.” Mill’s Radical friend Molesworth had been M.P. for Leeds since July. Mill’s letter continues: “M.’s address to the Leeds people was put forward on the failure of our attempt to obtain a collective demonstration” (EL, CW, Vol. XII, p. 365). In fact, the address was Mill’s, as his bibliographic entry indicates: “The whole (except a few words at the beginning and end) of Sir W. Molesworth’s address to the Electors of Leeds reprinted in the Spectator of 3d December 1837 and in the Morning Chronicle of the following day” (MacMinn, p. 49). (Mill is wrong as to the date: the Spectator, a Saturday paper, appeared on the 2nd, and the Morning Chronicle, a daily, on Monday the 4th.) It seems likely that the first and the concluding paragraphs are Molesworth’s. The text below is that of the Spectator, where it is headed “To the Electors of Leeds / 79, Eaton Square / 29th Nov. 1837”; in the Morning Chronicle the Eaton Square address is at the bottom. The variant readings derive from the Morning Chronicle (identified in the notes as MC).
fellow-citizens,—As it appears to me most desirable that the body of Electors should on all important occasions clearly understand the conduct of their Representative, in order that, if they approve of that conduct, they may give to his voice the weight and sanction of their approbation, and he may not appear to express in the House of Commons only his own individual opinions, but those of his constituents; and as the present is an occasion on which those Members of the House of Commons who were elected to promote Reform, stand peculiarly in need not only of the tacit approbation but of the active and energetic support of all throughout the country who share their principles; I now address you, my constituents, and inhabitants of one of the first among the great manufacturing and trading communities of the empire, to claim from you that support.
For the last three years the Reformers of Great Britain and Ireland have, with signal moderation and forbearance, abstained from forcing upon the consideration of the Legislature their opinions on the extensive failure of the Reform Act, and the necessity of further measures to protect the People in the exercise of the rights which that enactment professed to give. I am persuaded that I am interpreting the motives of this forbearance rightly, when I say that it did not arise from any notion that such measures of protection could possibly be much longer dispensed with. You knew that when the party who have the great properties in their hands could recover from the shock of the first great defeat which they have ever sustained since the Revolution of 1688, they would find that the means of corruption and intimidation which they still possess, and which they can never cease to possess under any system of open voting, are much more than sufficient to give them as sure a majority in the Reformed House of Commons as they had in the Rotten Borough Parliament. You knew this; but the danger was not yet imminent; the Tories were still in a minority, though a large one; the language of the Whig Ministers was continually giving you hopes that if bribery and intimidation continued, and could not be arrested by other means, they would become converts, however unwillingly, to the Ballot.1 You imagined these professions to be sincere; and as the progress of events was producing every day more and more the evidences which Ministers professed to be still in want of,—as moreover, you believed what was frequently insinuated by their friends, that their hands were tied up by engagements with the late King, from which a new reign would set them free,2 —you continued to bear, with what patience you could, the disappointment of your hopes and the tyranny of your Tory taskmasters, rather than be called by the Whig Ministers impatient, violent, and unreasonable.
By this conduct you at least showed that you did not deserve any such imputation: so much so, indeed, that it has subjected you to a directly contrary one—that of being apathetic, of being indifferent to Reform, and even of having undergone a reaction in favour of Toryism; and this, as I can inform you, and as you must have learnt from the recent speech of Lord John Russell,3 is the language currently held concerning you at the present time, not only by Tories but by Whigs.
That the conduct which has subjected the People of England to this disgraceful accusation was wrong, it is not for me, nor have I any inclination, to assert. I address you for a different purpose,—to proclaim to you, if any such proclamation be necessary, that the season afora this quiet, deferential, and submissive course of proceeding, has now ended. The Ministers have declared that they were not prevented from supporting the Ballot by any engagements with the Sovereign, but by their own rooted hostility to it. Lord John Russell has chosen the very time when his supporters were smarting under the persecutions they have suffered to keep him in office—he has chosen that very time to declare that they shall never, with his consent, be shielded from those persecutions. At the very opening of the last Parliament in which, unless the Ballot be made a Cabinet question, his party will ever have the majority,—and while it is still uncertain whether they will continue to have it even in this,—he has declared the fact, which for the last three years has been sedulously disguised, that the Reform Act is to him a final measure; and that if the Tories cannot be kept out without a measure to give effect to that act according to the declared intentions of its supporters, the Tories must come in.
I do not say these things for the purpose of complaint; nor do I seek to excite you to that indignation which I do not affect to deny that I think you might justly feel. My object is to impress upon you that the time is come when all temporizing—all delicacy towards the Whigs—all fear of disuniting Reformers, or of embarrassing Ministers by pressing forward reforms, must be at an end. If you wish for the Ballot,—if you wish for Triennial Parliaments,—if you wish for the Extension of the Suffrage, or its distribution so as to diminish the exorbitant and uncontrollable power of the great landholders, of the men who tax your bread and fetter your industry,—byoub must say it in the teeth of both the Aristocratic Factions, now avowedly united to resist cthesec just and necessary improvements. You must be prepared steadily to look in the face the unfortunate but nowise astonishing fact, that not only from the House of Lords, but from a large majority of the House of Commons, you never will obtain either the Ballot or any of the other measures to which I have referred, but by such a demonstration of your will as those bodies shall not dare to resist. You must be prepared for a struggle as arduous as that which carried the Reform Bill, to extort these measures from both the parties of the Aristocracy and from both Houses of Parliament. Nothing can now be done for you within the walls of the House: your faithful Representatives have no power there but that which you give them: it is for you, by a great and simultaneous demonstration throughout the country, to enable your Representatives to speak, not with their own single voices, but with the voices of assembled millions.
If the hangers-on of the Ministry should seek, as they inevitably will, to dissuade you from this declaration of your sentiments, on pretence that it will damage the Ministry, tell them that the Ministry is already doomed. The Ministry themselves know that, without the Ballot, the Tories cannot be kept out of office longer, at the utmost, than till the next General Election. They have made their late declaration in the full knowledge of this; and would never have made it, if they had not fully determined to rest their chance of remaining in office upon being able to persuade the Tories that Tory objects can be better promoted by them than by a Tory Ministry. And, truly, I know not what objects, but Tory objects, they are likely to promote; or what those great prospects of amelioration are, which it is supposed would be injured, if we were to “embarrass the Government”4 by standing forth in the face of the world and declaring our opinions. All the reforms which they propose, are the merest trifles compared with the evils to be removed; and even those they can only propose, but cannot carry. If they ever carry them, it will be only by the terror of your voices, demanding things infinitely greater. All experience proves that unwilling rulers can be more easily induced to concede great reforms than small ones; that so long as the people are satisfied with demanding little, even that little is refused; but when they have raised their demands to something considerable, much more than the little they at first asked is eagerly thrown to them, in the hope of allaying the storm of dissatisfaction which then, for the first time, their masters are willing to consider formidable.
If the People are tired of the pursuit of good government,—if the fruits of seven years of painful struggle are now to be thrown away, and they are willing to bend their necks once more under the yokes of their former masters,—if the cry of Reform never meant any thing with them, or was raised only to please the Whigs, and is to be abandoned because the Whig placemen abandon it,—if the name only and not the substance of Popular Representation was all that the People sought,—then indeed, sincere Reformers will feel bitterly disappointed—will confess they have been mistaken in the character of their fellow countrymen—and though they may not slacken their efforts in behalf of the principles which they profess, their hopes must then be limited to keeping those principles alive for better times and for a new generation.
But if in their exertions and sacrifices for the Reform Bill, the People were contending not for a mere word, but for a reality,—if they were then, and still are, for the principle proclaimed by Lord Grey, “Representation, not Nomination,”5 —if in demanding the Reform of the House of Commons, and in fighting and conquering under its banner, they were not the puppets of a faction, but really meant what they said—really believed they had a right to what they claimed, and are still willing to stand by their first purpose, against the Whigs if need be, with the same determination with which, at the call of the Whigs, they stood against the Tories,—then every town, every district, if possible every parish in the kingdom, ought to hold its meeting and send its petition to Parliament for the Ballot, with or without an extension dandd equalization of the Suffrage. The People, not the Whigs, carried the Reform Bill; the People, by their demonstrations throughout the country, compelled the one party to propose and the other to pass it. What they then did, they may do again. They conquered once, they can conquer a second time. They have only to speak, and the sound of their voice will scatter the hosts of their enemies.
eNowe let them make that voice heard. Now do you, citizens of Leeds, set the example. Now raise again the standard of Reform; and you will merit the eternal gratitude of your countrymen.
Your faithful Representative,
EXCEPTION TO THE OBJECTIONS TO NOMINAL PUNISHMENTS
Lord Durham, who had gone to Canada after the rebellion of 1837 as High Commissioner, had been defended by Mill in “Lord Durham and His Assailants” in the 2nd ed. of the London and Westminster for August 1838 (CW, Vol. VI, pp. 437-43). The Examiner had printed two replies, probably by Fonblanque himself. The first, “Lord Durham and His Assailants,” 26 Aug., pp. 529-30, was a very favourable notice; the second, “Reasoning for Nominal Punishments,” 2 Sept., p. 545, was critical of Mill’s defence of the provision for capital punishment in Durham’s “An Ordinance to Provide for the Security of the Province of Lower Canada,” PP, 1837-38, XXXIX, 914-16. This letter to the editor, in the “Political Examiner,” defends the punishment. Headed as title, with the subhead “To the Editor of the Examiner,” it is signed “A.,” as was Mill’s “Lord Durham and His Assailants.” It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A letter in defence of the last mentioned article [i.e., his “Lord Durham and His Assailants”], in the Examiner of 16 Sept. 1838”
(MacMinn, p. 51).
In the second of two very flattering notices which you have bestowed on the article in the London and Westminster Review, entitled “Lord Durham and his Assailants,” you have animadverted rather strongly on one sentence of the article, in which, speaking of the capital penalty denounced for the violation of Lord Durham’s Ordinance of Banishment, the writer says, “The penalty is capital because that is the usual penalty of state offences, and properly so, since any inferior punishment might be a premium on the offence, while, by denouncing the highest penalty of all, no necessity is incurred of actually inflicting it;”1 and you express, in a very courteous manner, your surprise that the author of the article should have overlooked the important principle, that the law should not denounce a severer punishment than it would be proper actually to inflict, and that punishments should be mild in order that they may be certain.
As the accusation of forgetting so important a principle of criminal legislation is one to which the author of the article feels particularly sensitive, perhaps you will permit him to assure you that the imputation is by no means deserved, and that instead of seeing in the mode of dealing with state offences, which he defended, any infringement of that great principle, he saw in it one of the exceptions which prove the principle. The sentiment which he expressed was grounded on the recognized, and, as on reflection you will certainly feel it, the just, distinction between political and ordinary criminal offences. The principle you so justly contend for is grounded on a most cogent reason, namely, that certainty in punishments has a greater effect than severity; but this reason is, as all philosophic jurists have acknowledged, and as you must at once see, entirely inapplicable to what are essentially the offences of multitudes. Certainty of punishment is neither desirable nor possible in cases of rebellion. It is desirable that no person whatever who commits theft or burglary should escape unpunished: is it desirable that no person whatever who joins in a rebellion should escape without suffering the penalties of the law? If the principle you contend for were applicable to political offences, an amnesty would be the most monstrous absurdity in all legislation. Who would endure to hear of an amnesty for robbery or murder? But in the case of rebellion the most savage tyrant hardly ever thinks of punishing with the arm of the law any but a few leaders; thus completely setting aside the principle of certainty of punishment. If the penalty for treason instead of death were but a fine of one shilling, no one would think of inflicting even that upon every individual of a defeated party.
Indeed, between state offences and all other offences there is this great difference: in the case of any other offence, to remedy the immediate evil which has been produced is a minor object, and the great purpose of punishment is example: but in the case of offences which arise out of the disaffection of the people with their government, and which aim at a change of government, the grand object is the immediate object, that of pacifying the country; punishment ought never to be carried beyond what is necessary to remedy the present evil, to prevent the present malcontents from breaking out again; if that can be prevented, and the country brought to a settled state without any punishment, there ought to be no punishment: there never should be any for the purpose of deterring future malcontents from future insurrections. The security against future discontents is the strength of the government (proved by the failure of the insurrection), and the goodness of the government (which it ought to lose no time in demonstrating by its healing measures). The rule for punishment is—for private offences punish mildly, that you may punish everybody: for offences connected with a rebellion, punish nobody, if you can tranquillize the country without punishment; but if you must punish, punish as few persons and as mildly as is consistent with that object. And on these principles all governments act more or less; all wise and humane governments altogether.
There is therefore no inconsistency in saying that for this kind of offences the severest penalty of the law should be denounced, although in most cases it ought not to be executed. You can never be sure beforehand that you can restore tranquillity without punishing those who may attempt to disturb it afresh; and since any punishment less than death may be less than the temptation to the offence, it is necessary to reserve the option of inflicting the highest punishment known to the law in case it should be necessary. But, as it is not proper to inflict any punishment unless the state of the country require it, so it is proper to inflict the mildest which the state of the country admits of, although the highest of all is and ought to be denounced.
To sum up all in a few words, insurrectionary offences differ from others in this, that in all other cases punishment, but in this case pardon, ought to be the general rule—or mitigation of punishment, when pardon would be unsafe. Other penal laws are made to be implicitly executed; laws against rebellion are made not to be executed without the most imperative necessity.
These, Sir, are no novelties; I am merely vindicating the received doctrines of statesmen and the established practice of all civilized governments; and the principles I have laid down are so completely in accordance with the general spirit of your writings on such topics, that your concurrence in them may be confidently anticipated.
PETITION FOR FREE TRADE
When he drafted this petition, Mill had published nothing in the newspapers for thirty-three months; in the interval he had been busy with the London and Westminster and with the writing of his Logic. On 17 June, 1841, he wrote to Fonblanque: “The Kensington petition, printed in the Chronicle today, is of my writing, & I had a great share in getting up the public meeting, which, though in a very unpromising neighbourhood, was a very striking demonstration” (EL, CW, Vol. XIII, p. 478). The item is headed “Kensington. The following is the petition agreed to at the meeting held at Kensington on Tuesday evening,” with a subhead: “To the Honourable the House of Commons.” It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “The Kensington Petition for free-trade, agreed to at a public meeting held on the 15th June 1841, and printed in the Morning Chronicle of June 17th” (MacMinn, p. 53). The petition is also in CW, Vol. V, pp. 761-3
the humble petition of the inhabitants of Kensington and its vicinity, in public meeting assembled, sheweth,
That protecting duties, or, in other words, duties imposed on foreign commodities, not to raise a revenue, but to keep up the price of similar articles produced at home, are a tax on the whole community for the pecuniary profit of some class or classes, and are therefore an abuse of the power of legislation.
That the argument frequently urged in defence of such duties, namely, that they encourage production and favour the national industry, is, in the opinion of your petitioners, not only unfounded, but the very reverse of the truth, inasmuch as employments which would not be carried on without an artificial high price, are by this very circumstance proved to be employments yielding of themselves a less return than that which the same amount of labour and capital would realise if left to take its natural course. A smaller production is by this means obtained through the sacrifice of a greater, and thus, in addition to what these restrictions take from one portion of the community to bestow upon another, they cause a further and commonly a still greater loss of national wealth, without benefit to any one.
That nevertheless former Parliaments, partly influenced by the class interests of their several members, and partly by mistaken views of public policy now exploded, have imposed protecting duties on almost every article of foreign produce or manufacture which could possibly come into competition with anything produced in our own country or its dependencies, thus throwing upon the public, in the increased price of the articles of their expenditure, burdens which, according to the calculations of the best practical authorities, exceed the amount of all the taxes which the people of this country pay to the state, while of this vast sum a very small portion alone reaches the coffers of the various classes of producers whom the legislature intended to benefit.
That of these burdens, the most revolting in its principle, the largest in its amount, and the severest in its pressure, is the tax on food, imposed by the present corn and provision laws.1
That a tax on food is the only tax from which no degree of abject poverty is an exemption, but which in its very nature falls heaviest upon the poorest class, nearly the whole of whose consumption consists of food.
That whatever makes the poor poorer, tends in the same proportion to render them ignorant and vicious, by depriving them of the opportunities and means of good education, while it strengthens and multiplies the temptations to which their condition exposes them. That the corn-laws, as producing these effects, are, in the view of your petitioners, opposed both to the first principles of morality and to the spirit of the Christian religion, as well as to the direct precepts of Scripture, which expressly declares,
“He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him; but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.”2
That, as your honourable house are doubtless aware, there exists, and has for some time existed, in a considerable portion of the labouring classes, a deeply seated hostility to existing political institutions, and in the country generally a growing alienation among the different ranks of society, the causes of which, your petitioners humbly submit, demand the most serious consideration from your honourable house.
That, so far as your petitioners are able to observe, these evils originate in the persuasion openly entertained by large bodies of persons that the ruling principle in the government of this country is not the public good, but the particular interest of certain classes, who command a majority, both in the other house of Parliament and in your honourable house. Your petitioners respectfully express their conviction that nothing has so much contributed to give rise to this unfortunate impression, or has given so much colour of truth to it, as the existing commercial restrictions, and in particular the corn-laws. That by whatever arguments the supporters of those laws may justify themselves to their own minds, their reasons are not of a nature to be convincing or intelligible to persons whose small loaf is made smaller for no purpose apparent to them but that of still further enriching the rich. A bread tax for the supposed benefit of the landlords, and a people well affected to the state, are two things which, in the opinion of your petitioners, cannot easily co-exist.
That, entertaining these opinions, your petitioners have hailed with joy the announcement by her Majesty’s government of a general revision of the existing import duties, and the introduction into your honourable house of measures, by which some of the most oppressive of those duties, and particularly, the most oppressive of all, the corn-laws, are considerably relaxed.3 That although in the article of food nothing but entire freedom from taxation would be satisfactory to your petitioners as a permanent arrangement; yet, as a means of transition, to prevent too sudden a shock to existing interests, your petitioners fully subscribe to the propriety of retaining, for the present, a moderate duty on imported corn. And your petitioners are strongly of opinion that the protection thus temporarily conceded should be in the shape of a fixed duty rather than of a sliding scale. Your petitioners can scarcely imagine any mode of regulating a great branch of commerce and industry more injurious to all parties than the present variable scale of duties, under which the home grower can never know what degree of protection he has to reckon upon, nor the importer what rate of duty he will be required to pay.
That although the measures recently promulgated by her Majesty’s government would have commanded, under any circumstances, the warmest support of your petitioners, they derive an additional recommendation from the particular time at which they are proposed, namely, when the approaching revision of the duties levied on our productions by several of our largest customers threatens us with retaliatory measures most ruinous to our foreign trade, while the state of our own revenue leaves us no option but either to lower the tariff, or impose new and onerous taxes upon the property or the already overburthened industry of the country.
Your petitioners, therefore, earnestly entreat your honourable house to give your most serious consideration to these various circumstances, and to adopt the measures recently submitted to you by her Majesty’s government with respect to the duties on imports, and especially on foreign corn.
And your petitioners will ever pray.
STERLING’S THE ELECTION
In a letter dated only “Wedy” (probably 28 July, 1841), Mill wrote to John Black, his father’s old friend, and still editor of the Morning Chronicle: “I have just been reading again that poem I told you of and I liked it so much that I could not help sitting down and scribbling off a hurried notice of it for you. Do with it as you please—I shall be glad to see either that or any other notice of the book in the Chronicle.” (EL, CW, Vol. XIII, p. 482.) The Election was by John Sterling (1806-44), one of Mill’s most beloved friends, whom he met in the London Debating Society as an antagonist, but soon found common ground with, in part on the basis of Sterling’s admiration for Coleridge. The review, in the “Literature” section, is headed “The Election: a Poem, in Seven Books. [London:] Murray, 1841.” It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A notice of Sterling’s Poem of the Election, in the Morning Chronicle of July 29th 1841”
(MacMinn, p. 53).
now, when the turmoil of real elections is for the present ended,1 we may venture, perhaps, to solicit attention to a story of an election. Let not the reader look askance at the publisher’s name, and ask, whether any good, on the subject of elections, can come out of Albemarle-street2 —for this volume is a proof that even from that place may issue the most biting satire upon Toryism, when, whatever is low-minded and base on the other side of the question is satirized likewise; and when the writer, though wielding satire with the hand of a master, is capable of something better than any satire, and inculcates a still higher thing than hate and scorn of what is bad, namely, love and practice of what is noble. In truth, this little narrative poem is equally remarkable for wisdom and high feeling, and for wit; while in versification it has had no rival in satirical poetry since Byron’s Age of Bronze.3
We quote the opening passage as an average specimen:
After this introduction, the tale begins with the following passage, of which the first eight lines are in the best style of Pope, while those which follow remind us of Crabbe:5
Two candidates present themselves: Mogg, the Conservative; and Vane, the Liberal. The author has worked up into the portrait of Mogg all the features of a prosperous Tory chairman of quarter sessions, of which the following, from the description of his Oxford career, is one of the most characteristic:
The exemplifications of vice and folly on the Liberal side, are in the persons of some of the candidate’s chief supporters; the candidate himself being a man after the author’s own heart; and the history of his previous life, together with a love story in which he is involved, and which is not unskilfully connected with the election, form the serious interest of the tale. It would be impossible to give any just idea of this by extracts; and we shall, therefore, confine our quotations to the satirical portion of the poem, taking them chiefly from the hustings speech of the Conservative candidate, which contains, almost prophetically, the quintessence of most of the Tory speeches since delivered at the elections which have just concluded:
We have only room for one more extract; it is a satirical portrait of a different kind:
We venture to promise to any one whom our extracts may tempt to read the volume, a fund both of amusement and of highest interest, of which these extracts are no more than a fair sample.
The controversy within the Established Church of England over its Catholicity, historically and doctrinally, was greatly heightened by the publication of Tracts for the Times, which gave interpretations of the Thirty-nine Articles that minimized their Protestantism, by a group variously known as the “Tractarians,” the “Oxford Movement,” and the “Puseyites.” The leaders were Edward Bouverie Pusey (1800-82), Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford; John Keble (1792-1866), Professor of Poetry at Oxford (1831-41) and vicar of Hursley, whose sermon on national apostasy attacking Erastian liberalism had initiated the movement in 1833; and John Henry Newman (1801-90), the greatest controversialist of all, whose Tract 90 had given most offence. Mill’s two letters on the subject (this and No. 292) were prompted by letters in the Morning Chronicle in December 1841 by “Philo-Puseyite” (18th, p. 3, and 24th, p. 3) and by “Miso-Jesuit” (23rd, p. 3, and 30th, p. 3), as well as by editorial attacks on the Puseyites (see the leading article on the Oxford Professorship of Poetry, Morning Chronicle, 3 Dec., p. 2). This item is headed “Puseyism,” with subhead, “To the Editor of the Morning Chronicle.” The letters are described in Mill’s bibliography as “Two letters on Puseyism, signed Historicus, in the Morning Chronicle of 12th [sic] and 13th January 1842”
(MacMinn, p. 54).
I address you as one of, I believe, many who although most remote from any connection, either personal, or through their opinions, with Puseyism, have seen with pleasure the letters of “Philo-Puseyite,” in the first place, because we agree with that writer in a large portion of his sentiments, but also, and still more, because we approve of the tone of mind, which is less eager to hold up to obloquy the errors of an adversary, than conscientiously to examine what portion of truth exists in those errors, and gives them their plausibility. We not only esteem it a more healthful exercise of the mind to employ itself in learning from an enemy, than in inveighing against him; but, we believe, that the extirpation of what is erroneous in any system of belief is in no way so much promoted as by extricating from it, and incorporating into our own systems, whatever in it is true. If your correspondent, “Miso-Jesuit,” had taken heed of these things, he would probably have spared you his ill-tempered and uncourteous second letter—a document which would prove, if such proof were required, that there is nothing which a zealot, Christian or infidel, dissenter or churchman, can so little pardon, or on which he is so incapable of putting a candid interpretation as the offence of not going with him to the full length of his narrow-minded antipathies.
It was scarcely needful for your correspondent to remind “Philo-Puseyite” that the Oxford theologians would not thank him for such advocacy as his, and that whoever stands up for toleration or charity in their behalf claims for the Puseyites what the Puseyites would not be willing to bestow.1 The leaders of this sect, for a sect it is, are, as it is evident that “Miso-Jesuit” himself is, conscientious bigots: like him, however, they are not bigots to error, but to one-half of the truth; and are, in the present writer’s estimation, entitled to the approbation and goodwill which he cannot but feel towards all such persons, provided that the portion of truth they contend for is one which the age specially needs, and provided (he must add) they have not the power of burning him for heresy, a fate which, to say truth, if their doctrines ever obtained the ascendancy in this country, he does not well see how he could hope to escape. It is not, therefore, out of any special partiality to them that he undertakes their apology. But not to our friends alone is justice due from us and to the Puseyites; permit me to say, it is more particularly due from your paper, inasmuch as you have repeatedly in your leading articles done them cruel injustice, of the kind likely to be most severely felt by conscientious men, and most likely also to prejudice impartial bystanders against your good cause, by your perpetual denunciations of them as hypocrites and mammon-servers, because, holding doctrines which you (not they) deem inconsistent with the articles of the church, they yet do not secede from it.2
Can you be serious, sir, in addressing this particular reproach to men of whom it is the distinctive feature, among all other religious parties, to maintain that no difference of opinion whatever is capable of justifying the sin of schism? That the first command of Christ is adherence to the standard which he has erected upon earth, and for the recognition of which he has appointed certain criteria, of which the profession of a particular set of theological tenets3 is not one; that even if the whole human race, one person excepted, should desert that standard and set up another, by proclaiming a church of man’s ordinance, not God’s, it is they who apostatize, and he, that one person, be his opinions what they may, is the Christian church upon earth; or if, instead of themselves seceding from the communion, they forcibly exclude him from it (as the Romish church did Luther),4 he refusing and protesting, they, by so doing, constitute their church a schismatic body, while he remains a member of the church as before! In common candour, sir, ask yourself whether persons of whose belief this is a correct expression, are sacrificing their principles to lucre because they do not take upon their consciences what they esteem a deadly sin.
And since we are on the subject of interested motives, give me leave to ask you, as a man acquainted with the world, and aware of the ordinary course of affairs in political life, whether you do or can think other of these men than that by professing their opinions they are abandoning all hope of further advancement in worldly advantages? If the extraordinary acquirements and powers, for example, of Mr. Newman had been employed in any of the modes in which able men in the church of England usually seek to distinguish themselves—in the paths, for instance, by which Dr. Blomfield, or Dr. Philpotts rose to eminence,5 is there any dignity in the Establishment to which he might not have aspired? And do you believe that either the present government, or any other ministry that could be formed, would dare to raise an avowed and active Puseyite to episcopal, or any other high ecclesiastical honours? Let me answer for you, sir. You know the contrary: you are not ignorant of the sort of feelings with which practical politicians of every class invariably regard the speculative men who formulize either into philosophic theories or religious dogmas the extreme doctrines of their own party. You know that those whose business is conciliation and compromise, the smoothing of difficulties and the allaying of apprehensions, do not hold their most determined adversaries in so much dread as they do those who display to public view all the vulnerable points in their system of opinions, in the manner most fertile of misgiving to friends, and irritation to opponents, and proclaim as sacred principles, to be acted upon without qualification or reserve, all which they in their practice not only sedulously guard by countless modifications and restrictions, but are so often forced, even honestly, to surrender altogether, in points of detail at least, on the summons of declared opponents. If we know this, think you that Mr. Newman knows it not? Think you that a man so deeply read in history, and who has analysed in so one-sided, but yet so profound a manner, the course of the stream of human affairs from age to age,6 is ignorant of what every school-boy knows, that the philosophers of a creed are seldom its successful politicians?
It would do you credit, sir, to desist from these incessant attacks upon the disinterestedness of the Oxford theologians, or to reserve them until you find the Puseyites violating the doctrines of their own creed, by disobeying the authority, canonically exercised, of their ecclesiastical superiors. Such imputations of insincerity are applied with a very bad grace to a party from whom, whatever may be said against the reasonableness or the real Christianity of many of their doctrines, this acknowledgment cannot be withheld, that instead of being insincere members of the church, they are the only party in it who attempt, or even pretend to attempt, to be perfectly sincere. I assert this without qualification as one of the greatest, or rather as the very greatest of the peculiarities which, in my opinion, entitle this school to be warmly welcomed among us. They are the first persons in the Church of England who for more than a century past have conscientiously and rigidly endeavoured to live up to what they nominally profess—to obey the regulations of that church of which they call themselves members. Even Philo-Puseyite speaks of their “predilection for ceremonies, and vestments, and fastings, and vigils, and saints’ days,” as something “revolting.”7 But is it forgotten that these things are actual ordinances of the Church of England, and that the Puseyites are simply acting out the written code of their religion? If these things are absurdities, with whom lies the fault? They were not placed in the Rubric8 by the Puseyites. The charge of insincerity brought against this party for remaining in the church without assenting, or while assenting only in a latitudinarian sense, to the articles, may be much more fairly retorted upon those who, without considering, as the Puseyites do, adherence to the church to be the paramount duty of a Christian, nevertheless remain in it with a tacit reservation that they are to conform to just as many of its rules and authoritative precepts as to them appear reasonable. Let the opposite party, then, bestir themselves to cause such of the ceremonies, and such of the religious exercises prescribed by the church as they disapprove of, to be abrogated in the lawful manner, by canonical authority. But until this is done, I confess I honour far more those who act up to what is professed by all, than those who take one part of it and leave another, as suits themselves.
It is not, sir, by continuing to profess opinions, and silently forbearing to act upon them, that either religious or any other prevailing doctrines are to be freed from whatever of irrational or pernicious they may contain. It is too true that this is the ordinary course of changes of opinion. It is a disgusting, but sometimes inevitable era of transition between the pristine vigour and final downfall of creeds or doctrines, originally too deeply rooted in the soil to admit of being eradicated unless they have first reached an advanced stage of corruption and decomposition. In religion, and also in politics, the whole eighteenth century was a period of this kind. But that is a happy day for renovated humanity, when first a sincere man, indignant at the more and more complete severance of profession from practice, stands up as a fulfiller, in his own person, and a vindicator to the world, of the solemn duty of doing the whole of that which he daily professes that he ought to do. By carrying out this principle, and even because he carries it out to its last and absurdest consequences, he challenges and compels inquiry into the grounds of the belief itself, and the degree in which it is or is not still adapted to be the rule of conduct for humanity in its altered state; and by the very vigour with which he asserts the false parts of his own creed, he, by a reaction as certain as it is salutary, calls forth into corresponding activity and energy those opposite truths, in the minds of other people, which are the suitable means of expelling the false opinions without prejudice to the just views with which they are always, but not inseparably, interwoven: thus giving to the world over again that without which its whole scheme would be an abortion and a failure—notions of duty made to be executed, not to be locked up as too good for use, or worn for outside show.
I must not, sir, encroach further on your space; but if you should deem this letter worthy of insertion, I may perhaps return to the subject, and lay before you in a more particular manner the grounds on which I contend that Puseyism is one of the most important and interesting phenomena which has appeared above the horizon of English speculation for many years past.
For the background and the entry in Mill’s bibliography, see No. 291. This letter is headed “Puseyism.—Letter II,” with the subhead, “To the Editor of the Morning Chronicle.”
Let me begin by thanking you for your prompt insertion of my former communication, and not less sincerely for the comments in a subsequent editorial article, which in temper and candour were all that could be desired, and in substantials quite as favourable as I had reason to expect.1 I never did so much injustice to the writer of the denunciations of Puseyism which have so often appeared in your paper, as to imagine that he would have thus written with opinions of the subject so weak as to be shaken by the first breath of controversy. You have said what there is to be said for your view of the question, and it is satisfactory to find that there is so little. I cannot say that I perceive in it anything new, or which, as you seem to surmise, I had previously overlooked. The topics are such as no one could overlook, who attempted to anticipate what you would say. How, for example, after charging with hypocrisy, for not seceding from the church, men who hold that to secede from her would be to renounce their baptism, could you possibly defend yourself without drawing the distinction, and making as much of it as you could, between remaining in the communion of the church and partaking of its emoluments? The point could not be missed: a nisi prius advocate of the lowest grade could not have failed to take advantage of it.
I with, sir, that it were as easy to exculpate the Puseyites, or Newmanites (as I admit that they may be more properly called) from every other of the accusations brought against them, as it is from this, of dishonestly retaining a state fee of which they violate the conditions. You would scarcely continue to bring this charge if you had sufficiently considered what it implies, or how widely the theory of the relation between spiritual teachers and temporal governors, which you seem to hold, differs both from that of the Newmanites themselves, and from the doctrines of the most enlightened friends of liberty in the present and in past ages.
It would be a sufficient vindication of this party against the imputation of dishonesty, to show that their conduct is strictly consistent with their own principles; especially when those principles are not theirs peculiarly, but common to them with the great body of churchmen, or at least with the principal defenders of the Church of England as a political establishment. By what right do you require the Newmanites to make themselves martyrs for opinions which are not theirs; to acknowledge as a truth, by recognizing as obligatory upon them in practice, the doctrine that the endowments of the Church of England are a state fee given as a consideration for teaching certain religious tenets? Do they hold this doctrine? Is there any party in the church worth mentioning which holds it? Will they not answer, and will not the whole Conservative body answer with them, that the endowments, the far greater part of them at least, did not come from the state, never belonged to the state at all, but to private individuals who voluntarily gave them to the church, for purposes and under expectations, which it is the very crime charged against the Puseyites, that they far more nearly fulfil than the party of the Protestants par excellence think it right to do? Some kings did, it is true, give lands from their hereditary domain, and the state, as a state, did render compulsory the payment of tithe,2 not however until the majority of landed proprietors throughout Christian Europe had, from religious motives, consented to take the payment upon themselves; and, at all events, when once given, it was, according to the doctrine of all Conservative, and of many liberal writers, given irrevocably; it became as the land itself became in the hands of its feudal holders, not a salary, but a property.
The Puseyites do not, and, consistently with their religious doctrines, cannot acknowledge that the state made the Church of England, or gave it the property it holds, or did or could annex to that property any new conditions imposed by itself. Its power, in their view, like that of any judicial tribunal, extends only to enforcing the conditions on which the property is really held, which, according to them, are simply and solely those of being in communion with the Church Catholic, and having received ordination from a bishop to whom the power of conferring it has descended by uninterrupted succession from the Apostles. They do not, indeed, deny that the state, in the person of the tyrant Henry VIII, did assert another sort of power over these endowments, and did nefariously abuse that power by seizing a full half of the church property for the use of the monarch himself and of his favourites.3 But is any one bound to resign what is his own, because somebody who is stronger chooses to assert a claim to it which he does not and cannot substantiate, and to pretend that it is only held on sufferance from him? If the Church of England has ever admitted that it is a national church by virtue of the King’s appointment, that the Crown made it, or had anything to do with the matter but to recognize it as the portion of the church of Christ existing in this nation, there would be something to be said against the Newmanites. But this they deny. The mere acknowledgment of the King as head of the church, that is, as what the Pope, according to the best Catholic tradition, was before, the mere executive (the supreme authority being in the body itself), does not, in their view, nor in the view of many persons besides them, constitute such an admission.
I am not stating these as my own arguments. I do not concur in them. They are deduced from the principles of a religious and political creed which is not mine. But it is the creed of the Puseyites. They stand upon their right to the endowments. On their own premises they are justified in making this stand. And when men are accused of insincerity, it is by their own premises that they are entitled to be tried. I confess, however, that I should not feel the same interest in their cause if there were nothing concerned in it but their own honesty and consistency; if it did not appear to me to involve a great principle, which it is not necessary to be a Newmanite, or even a churchman to acknowledge, and which it more especially becomes those who call themselves Liberals to take every occasion of asserting and vindicating.
The endowments, which the Puseyites say are not derived from the state, I say are derived from it.4 I deny the inviolability of foundations, and not only claim it as a right, but affirm it as a duty, of the Legislature to alter the appropriation of all such as, after due deliberation, with due precaution against its own fallibility, it deems to be no longer beneficially employed. I therefore hold that the state can rightfully take away the endowments of the Church of England, as many good and wise men have held that it ought to do; that it has a right to determine whether it will endow with this property, any body of religious teachers whatever, and if it does, has a right to select the body which it judges best qualified for that high function. Its power, therefore, of giving the endowments for the purpose of spiritual teaching, is absolute; but that it has a right to give them conditionally, the condition being that of teaching certain doctrines, and those only, I deny. It must bestow them for teaching what the teachers believe, not what itself believes. It is not to chuse doctrines, but instructors. If there is to be an endowed church at all, there must be a power in the legislature to judge what is the body which shall be recognised in that character. But this is the same thing with determining the doctrines that shall be taught. Is that work for a King’s ministers and two Houses of Parliament? Are they the theologians from whom those who listen to the publicly accredited religious instructors are to take their religion? Have we rejected popes and councils to receive our doctrines from a pope in St. James’s, or a council in St. Stephen’s?5 The state has a different duty to perform. It is to judge, not what is taught, but the title to teach. The Newmanites say that they, or rather the church to which they adhere, are the teachers, divinely commissioned, and have credentials from the Almighty, pointing them out as such: if so, let the state look to the credentials, and judge of them. If nobody can make out a title by appointment from above, those are entitled who can give best proof of having qualified themselves by the fitting studies and the fitting moral discipline. It is for the state to decide this. It is for the state to determine what communion or what body of persons is most fitted, in point of general competency, to put a right interpretation upon Christianity, and to bring its practical principles home to the national mind. But when we are told that the state has ordained certain religious tenets to be taught, and a certain interpretation to be put upon Christianity, under the penalty of not teaching under state authority at all, I can only answer that whether by the state are to be understood a dead Henry VIII, or a living Peel or Melbourne, they have no credentials for this trust, can show no qualifications for it. Their duty is to find who are, or ought to be, the national church; it is the church’s duty to determine what the church ought to teach.
I am tempted, sir, as one who has for many years considered himself a Liberal, to ask what is become of several doctrines which were once considered the distinguishing principles of the extreme Liberal party. Among the rest we used, I remember, in former days, to profess much disapprobation of what was called a connection between church and state. Perhaps some of those who reproach the Puseyites for objecting to state interference with the church, could refresh my memory as to what we meant by this. I wonder if it was merely the acres, or the pounds sterling, which we wanted to rescue from the church, and convert to our own uses; or whether we thought that there was nothing so certain to corrupt religious teaching, as the interference with it of temporal governors; that such persons when they meddle with prescribing religious doctrines, seldom do it for any good, and that the sole effect of making the church dependent on the state, is to make religion an instrument for upholding temporal despotism, and an ally of every abuse which the indolence of rulers suffers, or by which their cupidity profits. And has not such been, in fact, the history of every church which has held its commission from the state, or been dependent upon it? Of the Greek church, both at Constantinople and at Petersburgh? Of the Church of England, and most Protestant churches, from their very commencement? And even the Church of Rome, to which, corrupt and effete as it now is, humanity owes a debt never to be sufficiently appreciated, is not it chargeable with the same sin, from the time when that glorious struggle for which a Hildebrand lived and a Becket died—heroes who will eternally survive by the side of Martin Luther and John Knox—was shamefully wound up by the memorable blow inflicted upon Boniface VIII at Anagni, by the emissary of Philippe le Bel—which established for all the centuries which have since elapsed the supremacy of the sceptre over the crosier, and of which it was but a natural consequence that a few years after, the pontiff of the Christian world sat at Avignon, for the first time in history, as the degraded tool of a temporal oppressor, sanctioning the butchery of the Templars and every other enormity of that rapacious despot?6
Against this idea of a church establishment, the Newmanites protest, and I protest with them. If an established church is not to be independent of state control, no established church ought to exist. A church bound to teach only what the state commands! Why, it is the business of a church to be a schoolmaster to the state, and a bridle or a spur to it—the one or the other, or both, according as it needs them. It is the business of a church to fill the minds of the people with ideas and feelings of duty by which the temporal rulers shall be restrained, and of which they shall stand in awe. If these rulers, to be a check upon whom is one of the chief uses of an organised body of religious teachers, are to prescribe to that body what it shall teach, can we expect anything but what has generally existed in the Church of England, a tacit understanding that the peace is to be kept on all points which would really stir up people’s minds, and on all matters of religion or morality which concern the higher classes of society in their duties as governors; that so much of Christianity shall alone be insisted upon as is good for the lower orders, and that the church shall exist, in the words of a clever and eloquent writer, only for the purpose of
Most heartily is it to be rejoiced at, that a party has arisen which asserts a higher position than this for the religious teachers of a nation, and with whose convictions it is consistent, while claiming this higher character for the church, to remain in the church—to assert these as her principles, not those of her enemies; and to revive the remembrance of the claims which the Christian church once made to a more exalted destination, and of the services which she rendered in the fulfilment of it. I care not in what manner they reconcile this to their consciences, so that they do reconcile it. The principles by which they do so are those which they profess in common with almost every defender of the establishment; but were it otherwise—were it true that they silence their scruples by the most flimsy sophistry—it is not for us, who hold the same conclusions on firmer grounds, to meet them with reproach or discouragement.
The remaining part, sir, of your reply to my letter is chiefly employed in contending that the motives of these men are not so pure from mere worldly ambition, as, taking a rational view of their situation and prospects, I had concluded them to be. Your proofs of this are, that they are eager to propagate their opinions, to get newspapers, and reviews, and the younger clergy on their side, which you seem to think a very unpardonable stretch of priestly assumption; and that they have been, as you represent, very successful in these objects, although judging from present appearances their success even in their stronghold, Oxford, does not amount to any very substantial ascendancy. If the clergy and even the monkery of their own university will not consent, and it seems far from likely that they will, to raise one of this body to the dignity of a Poetry Professor and a salary of £100 a year,7 one would not give much for their chance of deaneries or mitres from the practical statesmen of the Conservative party, for whom, in fact, and for whose principles of action, instead of practising any sycophancy, they scarcely disguise their contempt. But suppose them to have been ten times more successful, what argument is this against them, any more than against Luther, or Wesley, or any other leader of a great religious movement? Grant them any degree of possible success, and they gain only a dim and distant prospect of what they would have been sure of by very ordinary exertion in the common road of preferment. You talk of the movement as having originated in a meeting held at the house of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s chaplain, to consult about what should be done to protect the church against the encroachments of the Whig ministry. I am surprised that you should attach any importance to such an old nurse’s tale.8 Is a profound and connected system of thought, embracing not only a complete body of theology and philosophy, but a consistent theory of universal history, a thing which can be got up suddenly in a year, or two years, for a momentary political exigency? That there may be persons in high places, both in and out of the clerical body, who have joined or countenanced this movement from such motives as you allege, is likely enough; every cause has its share of this sort of proselytes; and there very probably was such a meeting as you state: but that the set of doctrines called Puseyism originated from thence, it would take no ordinary portion of credulity to make any person believe. The circumstances of the times may have awakened serious thoughts in minds which otherwise would have slumbered; the dangers which menaced the institutions they most valued may have helped to lead even such men as Mr. Newman and Dr. Pusey to reflect more deeply than they otherwise would have done upon the spirit and original purposes of those institutions. But this dependence of our deepest and most conscientious thoughts upon the suggestions of our outward circumstances, is incident to the infirmity of our speculative faculties, and is no imputation upon the sincerity of any one, nor, to any great extent, even upon the strength of his judgment. If it be a reproach, it is one to which all mankind are liable.
But I must not encroach farther, and really I do not know what I could add, or in what way the vindication of any set of men could be more complete. On their doctrines, as distinguished from the characters of the men themselves, and on the position which they seem to me to hold in English speculation, I could say much on a future occasion, if you continue to do me the honour of inserting my letters.9
REPORT ON THE SANITARY CONDITION OF THE LABOURING POPULATION OF GREAT BRITAIN
On 8 June, 1842, Mill had written to his friend Edwin Chadwick about the “Report on the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population of Great Britain,” to be printed in House of Lords Sessional Papers, 1842, XXVI (published separately by Her Majesty’s Stationery Office in the same year): “I have read the whole report carefully through again. The defects of arrangements are now corrected & I have nothing to suggest except that it be carefully revised by yourself or some other person to correct the numerous typographical errors & occasional ungrammatical sentences. I think it all excellent & shall be glad to write about it for any newspaper as you suggest.” (EL, CW, Vol. XIII, pp. 523-4.) The review, headed as title, appeared in the “Political Examiner.” It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “The greater part of an article on Chadwick’s ‘Report on the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population in Great Britain’ in the Examiner of 20th August 1842” (MacMinn, p. 54). It is not known which part of the review is not by Mill, nor who added it, though Fonblanque normally wrote most of each issue.
this report, prepared by Mr. Chadwick from the results of inquiries made in all parts of England, Wales, and Scotland, by himself and others, under the Poor Law Commission,1 is destined, if we mistake not, to make an impression on the public mind more extensive and permanent even than that recently produced by the appalling disclosures of the Children’s Employment Commission.2 It is long since we have read any document so painful in respect to the past and present, or so encouraging in regard to the future. The occasion is a fitting one for a remark similar to that of Demosthenes to the Athenians, that what is worst in retrospect is sometimes best in prospect.3 If the mass of disgusting misery depicted in this Report had been found to exist after all which human wisdom could devise had been done to avert it, things would indeed be hopeless. But since the evils are so great only because it has been nobody’s appointed duty to stir a finger for their alleviation; because legislators and administrators have thought they did enough for the poor by leaving them to themselves; and even private philanthropy, except in the case of a very few noble-hearted landlords and manufacturers, has taken any other direction rather than this; the spectacle of so vast a field of human improvement altogether untrodden, or imprinted only by the feet of a few thinly scattered pioneers, suggests the most cheering prospects of an amount of physical, moral, and social amelioration, not only practicable, but easily and rapidly to be accomplished, such as the most sanguine would hardly have dared, without the superabundant evidence contained in this Report, to indulge even in imagination.
A conception of the extent of the field comprehended in the Report may most easily be given by an enumeration of the titles under which it is arranged [pp. xxiii-xxix]:
I. General condition of the residences of the labouring classes where disease is found to be the most prevalent.
II. Public arrangements, external to the residences, by which the sanitary condition of the labouring population is affected.
Subdivided under the following heads:
Town drainage of streets and houses.
Street and road cleansing: road pavements.
Supplies of water.
Sanitary effect of land drainage.
III. Circumstances chiefly in the internal economy and bad ventilation of places of work; workmen’s lodging-houses, dwellings, and the domestic habits affecting the health of the labouring classes.
IV. Comparative chances of life in different classes of the community.
V. Pecuniary burdens created by the neglect of sanitary measures.
VI. Evidence of the effects of preventive measures in raising the standard of health, and the chances of life.
With the following sub-heads:
Cost to tenants and owners, of the public measures for drainage, cleansing, and the supplies of water, as compared with the cost of sickness.
Employers’ influence on the health of work-people by means of improved habitations.
Employers’ influence on the sobriety and health of work-people by modes of payment, which do not lead to temptations to intemperance.
Employers’ influence on the health of work-people by the promotion of personal cleanliness.
Employers’ influence on the health of work-people by the ventilation of places of work, and the prevention of noxious fumes, dust, &c.
Employers’ means of influencing the condition of the working population, by regard to respectability in dress.
Employers’ or owners’ influence in the improvement of habitations and sanitary arrangements for the protection of the labouring classes in the rural districts.
Effects of public walks and gardens on the health and morals of the lower classes of the population.
VII. Recognised principles of legislation and state of the existing law for the protection of the public health.
Under this head the Report has little to do except to demonstrate the total inefficiency of all the administrative arrangements at present applicable to the various purposes referred to in the preceding part of the Report, and the impossibility of making any real provision for those purposes without reconstructing the arrangements upon more rational and comprehensive principles than have yet been seen by those who have hitherto undertaken to legislate on the subject.
VIII, and last. Common lodging houses.
After two most careful and deliberate perusals of this important document, we need not fear to express the opinion, that under each and every one of the leading divisions of the Report, the intelligent reader, who has no previous acquaintance with the subject, will find his utmost imagination exceeded, both by the extent and magnitude of the existing evils, and by the amount of good which not only may be, as a matter of inference and speculation, but has been, in occasional instances, actually accomplished, and that too by the employment of the simplest and most obvious means.
We are accustomed to value ourselves upon our superiority to the nations of the continent in the airiness, cleanliness, and neatness of our towns. We deserve this praise as to the quarters, or at least the thoroughfares, inhabited by persons in the higher and middle ranks of life, but those classes are entirely unaware that the quarters exclusively inhabited by the labouring people, and even the lanes and alleys abutting on the backs of their own mansions, are too often in a condition which the most noisome and pestilential parts of the worst continental towns can scarcely exceed, and this by no means exclusively in large manufacturing but in small country towns, and even villages, and not from poverty, but from bad drainage, a mode of building which excludes ventilation, and lastly, insufficient supplies of water; defects which, as the Report shows, might be completely remedied at a trifling cost, compared even with the mere expense of maintaining the sick and orphan poor who are made such by these deleterious agencies.
Mr. Chadwick states in his concluding summary of the points which he considers established, and it is difficult to read the evidence which he adduces and not agree with him,
That the annual loss of life from filth and bad ventilation is greater than the loss from death or wounds in any wars in which the country has been engaged in modern times:
That of the 43,000 cases of widowhood and 112,000 cases of destitute orphanage relieved from the poor rates in England and Wales alone, it appears that the greatest proportion of deaths of the heads of families occurred from the above-specified and other removable causes; that their ages were under 45 years; that is to say, 13 years below the natural probabilities of life, as shown by the experience of the whole population of Sweden:
That measuring the loss of working ability amongst large classes by the instances of gain, even from incomplete arrangements for the removal of noxious influences from places of work or from abodes, this loss cannot be less than eight or ten years.
The following is a most important and unexpected result: and most fully is it established:
That the ravages of epidemics and other diseases do not diminish, but tend to increase the pressure of population:
That in the districts where the mortality is greatest the births are not only sufficient to replace the numbers removed by death, but to add to the population.
Amongst the structural arrangements, of the practicability of which evidence is given, will be found the testimony of practical engineers on such points as the following:
That the chief obstacles to the immediate removal of decomposing refuse of towns and habitations have been the expense and annoyance of the hand labour and cartage requisite for the purpose.
That this expense may be reduced to one-twentieth or to one-thirtieth, or rendered inconsiderable, by the use of water and self-acting means of removal by improved and cheaper sewers and drains.
That refuse, when thus held in suspension in water, may be most cheaply and innoxiously conveyed to any distance out of towns, and also in the best form for productive use, and that the loss and injury by the pollution of natural streams may be avoided.
That by appropriate arrangements, 10 or 15 per cent. on the ordinary outlay for drainage might be saved, which, on an estimate of the expense of the necessary structural alterations of one-third only of the existing tenements, would be a saving of one million and a half sterling, besides the reduction of the future expenses of management.
That the expense of public drainage, of supplies of water laid on in houses, and of means of improved cleansing, would be a pecuniary gain, by diminishing the existing charges attendant on sickness and premature mortality.
The following general observations are made on this topic:
The condition of large rural districts in the immediate vicinity of the towns, and of the poorest districts of the towns themselves, presents a singular contrast in the nature of the agencies by which the health of the inhabitants is impaired. Within the towns we find the houses and streets filthy, the air foetid, disease, typhus, and other epidemics rife amongst the population, bringing, in the train, destitution and the need of pecuniary as well as medical relief; all mainly arising from the presence of the richest materials of production, the complete absence of which would, in a great measure, restore health, avert the recurrence of disease, and, if properly applied, would promote abundance, cheapen food, and increase the demand for beneficial labour. Outside the afflicted districts, and at a short distance from them, as in the adjacent rural districts, we find the aspect of the country poor and thinly clad with vegetation, except rushes and plants favoured by a superabundance of moisture, the crops meagre, the labouring agricultural population few, and afflicted with rheumatism and other maladies, arising from damp and an excess of water, which, if removed, would relieve them from a cause of disease, the land from an impediment to production, and if conveyed for the use of the town population, would give that population the element of which they stand in peculiar need, as a means to relieve them from that which is their own cause of depression, and return it for use on the land as a means of the highest fertility.
To afford a conception of the need of care in this respect to provide for the increase of population, it is stated that the rate of that increase, 230,000 per annum, is equivalent to the annual addition of a new county, requiring about 60,000 new houses every year to accommodate them—an increase in houses equivalent to two new towns nearly as large as Manchester proper, which has 32,310 houses, and Leeds, which has 27,268 houses.
It may be of interest to observe that, as the whole population grows in age, the annual increase in numbers may be deemed to be equivalent to an annual increase of numbers of the average ages of the community. If they were maintained on the existing average of territory to the population in England, the additional numbers would require an annual extension of one fifty-seventh of the present territory of Great Britain, possessing the average extent of roads, commons, hills, and unproductive land. The extent of new territory required annually would form a county larger than Surrey, or Leicester, or Nottingham, or Hereford, or Cambridge, and nearly as large as Warwick. To feed the annually increased population, supposing it to consume the same proportions of meat that is consumed by the population of Manchester and its vicinity (a consumption which appears to me to be below the average of the consumption in the metropolis), the influx of 230,000 of new population will require for their consumption an annual increase of 27,327 head of cattle, 70,319 sheep, 64,715 lambs, and 7,894 calves, to raise which an annual increase of upwards of 81,000 acres of good pasture land would be required. Taking the consumption of wheat or bread to be on the scale of a common dietary, i.e., 56 oz. daily for a family of a man, woman, and three children, then the annual addition of the supply of wheat required will be about 105,000 quarters, requiring 28,058 acres of land, yielding 30 bushels of wheat to an acre; the total amount of good land requisite for raising the chief articles of food will therefore be in all about 109,000 acres of good pasture land annually. If the increase of production obtained by the use of the refuse of Edinburgh (that is, of 3,900 oxen from one quarter of the refuse of Edinburgh) be taken as the scale of production obtainable by appropriate measures, the refuse of the metropolis alone that is now thrown away would serve to feed no less than 218,288 oxen annually, which would be equivalent to the produce of double that number of acres of good pasture land.
There is no one thing more completely made out in the Report, from incontestable statistical evidence, than that the mortality occasioned among adults by vice and misery does not check, but rather stimulates, the undue increase of numbers. Its principal effect consists in merely substituting a young, and, at the same time, weakly population, for one fairly proportioned among the seven ages of man.4 Precisely in those places where, by accurate records, it is known that deaths are fewest, and the average duration of life longest, there also occurs the smallest annual number of births; and as improvement occurs in the one respect, its consequences are more and more felt in the other.
Such evidence as the following is adduced of hope for the future:
In illustration of the moral and social effects to be anticipated from measures for the removal of the causes of pestilence amongst the labouring classes, and for the increase of their duration of life, concurrently with an increase of the population, I refer to the effect experienced in Geneva from the like improvements effected during the lapse of centuries. That city is, so far as I am aware, the only one in Europe in which there is an early and complete set of registers of marriages, births, and deaths. These registries were established in the year 1549, and are viewed as preappointed evidences5 to civil rights, and are kept with great care. This registration includes the name of the disease which has caused the death, entered by a district physician who is charged by the State with the inspection of every person who dies within his district. A second table is made up from certificates setting forth the nature of the disease, with a specification of the symptoms, and observations required to be made by the private physician who may have had the care of the deceased. These registries have been the subject of frequent careful examinations. It appears from them that the progress of the population intra muros of that city has been as follows:
It is proved in a report by M. Edward Mallet, one of the most able that have been made from these registries, that this increase of the population has been followed by an increase in the probable duration of life in that city:
The progression of the population and the increased duration of life had been attended by a progression in happiness: as prosperity advanced marriages became fewer and later;* the proportion of births were reduced, but greater numbers of the infants born were preserved;† and the proportion of the population in manhood became greater.8 In the early and barbarous periods, the excessive mortality was accompanied by a prodigious fecundity. In the ten last years of the 17th century, a marriage still produced five children and more; the probable duration of life attained was not twenty years, and Geneva had scarcely 17,000 inhabitants. Towards the end of the 18th century there were scarcely three children to a marriage, and the probabilities of life exceeded 32 years. At the present time a marriage only produces 2 3/4 children; the probability of life is 45 years, and Geneva, which exceeds 27,000 in population, has arrived at a high degree of civilization and of “prospérité matérielle.”9 In 1836 the population appeared to have attained its summit; the births barely replaced the deaths.
M. Mallet observes, that it is difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish the different causes, and the different degrees of intensity of each of the causes, that have tended to produce this result.10 It is, however, attributed generally to the advance in the condition of all classes; to the medical science of the public health being better understood and applied; to larger and better and cleaner dwellings; more abundant and healthy food; the cessation of the great epidemics which, from time to time, decimated the population; the precautions taken against famine; and better regulated public and private life. As an instance of the effects of regimen in the preservation of life, he mentions that, in an establishment for the care of female orphans taken from the poorest classes, out of 86 reared in 24 years, one only had died.11 These orphans were taken from the poor. The average mortality on the whole population would have been six times as great.
We would willing touch at greater length upon many of the important topics in the Report, but we have only space remaining for one.
The attention of philanthropists has of late begun to turn itself to the improvement of the imputed evils of the Factory System, and many have sincerely adopted the opinion (which has, moreover, been sedulously propagated by those who thought themselves interested in maintaining the Corn Laws) that to work in factories at all is inconsistent with a healthy condition, either physical or moral, of the labouring classes of any community. The Children’s Employment Commission has already done much to dissipate the error of supposing that human beings who work in large bodies, and under the protection, more or less perfect, of publicity, are worse taken care of, or more unfavourably circumstanced in any respect, than those who perform work of an analogous description in places called by other names. The present document shows, by the most copious evidence, that factories, even as they are now, are much surpassed in unhealthiness, and in all the demoralizing consequences shown to result from unhealthiness, by other places of work not called factories, such as those of the tailors in London, and by the private dwellings of a large part of the labouring population. That, nevertheless, the existing factories are, speaking generally, extremely unhealthy; but that they are so only for want of proper ventilation and other important requisites, which, if the enlightened self-interest of the owners fail to supply, the law could and ought to enforce; and that in all instances in which, either from that enlightened self-interest or from benevolence, such improved arrangements have been carried into effect, and especially where the improvement of the private dwelling-places of the work-people has been included in the plan, its authors have been rewarded by seeing around them a healthy, thriving, and well-conducted factory population attached to them, and having none of the evil characteristics so often declared to be inseparable from the Factory System.
Our limits compel us to quit the subject of this Report before we have given an idea of a tithe of its important contents. But no such notice as we could give would do it justice. The Report itself, or a full abstract, should be in the hands of every legislator or administrator, every philanthropist, and every employer of labour in the community.
LORD ASHBURTON’S TREATY
The warlike attitude of British Liberals towards the United States, of which Mill complains in this letter, had arisen over such matters as the right to search slave-ships. It had been inflamed in November 1840 by the capture, and subsequent indictment for murder, of Alexander McLeod (1796-1871), a Canadian who boasted of seizing the U.S.S. Caroline and murdering a crew member when the ship was engaged in an attempt by rebels and adventurers to capture Navy Island from the Canadians. McLeod was acquitted in 1841, and an exchange of notes in August 1842 lessened the tension. At the same time, the Canadian-American border dispute going back to the Treaty of Versailles in 1783 was resolved by negotiating teams led by Alexander Baring, Lord Ashburton, for Britain, and Daniel Webster (1782-1852) for the United States. The result was the “Treaty between Her Majesty and the United States of America” (9 Aug., 1842), PP, 1843, LXI, 1-8, known as the Webster-Ashburton Treaty. Palmerston, the former Foreign Secretary, had vigorously attacked the concessive policy of Peel, as manifested in the Treaty, and was reputed to be the author of the critical articles in the Morning Chronicle that had appeared almost daily from 19 Sept. to 3 Oct. Mill’s letter, headed “To the Editor of the Morning Chronicle,” was answered on the day of its publication by an article on p. 2 of the Chronicle. The letter is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A letter signed A on Lord Ashburton’s Treaty with America, in the Morning Chronicle of 4th October 1842”
(MacMinn, p. 55).
As an old admirer of your paper, and an ancient adherent of that Liberal party, one of whose chief distinctions I have always understood to be that it was the party of peace; which, indeed, one can ill imagine how a party carrying the banner of advancing intelligence and progressive improvement, could fail to be; give me leave to solicit some explanation from you on the new character in which, on all matters affecting foreign policy and national differences, it has of late been the pleasure of some of the leaders of that party to manifest themselves, and of some of its organs, yourself in particular, as the most potent of them, to aid and abet that manifestation.
Until within these few years, it was not only the doctrine of the Liberal party, but a sort of commonplace among writers in general, that war is the game of kings,1 not the pleasure of their subjects. We were accustomed to contend, that in proportion as the affairs of nations were withdrawn from the control of individual ambition, vanity, or animosity, and placed under the power of those who pay the taxes and smart by the commercial losses which war engenders, in the same proportion would that ancient and barbarous mode of terminating the disputes between governments fall into disuse. For some years past, however, that which has called itself the popular party in each of the three most powerful countries of the earth—England, America, and France—has, whether in or out of power, been sedulously engaged in blowing up war between those countries, if not by direct instigation, yet by that blustering tone and that bitter and insulting language, which are much more likely provocatives of quarrel than even real injuries; and now, it seems, this course is to be persevered in; as in France, so here the Liberal party, if some who seek to be its leaders are suffered to have their way, will stand openly before mankind in the disgraceful character of a war party, and will labour to discredit and frustrate the apparently sincere and hitherto successful exertions of the governments of the three countries to keep the world at peace;—an attempt of which you, sir, are making yourself in our own country, the main instrument, but in which I trust you are destined to be speedily, signally, and shamefully defeated.
The complaint which I make extends to the principles and tone of nearly every article on foreign policy which has appeared in your paper for the last three years, and I select as the most recent, and one of the most striking examples, your strictures on the late treaty with America.
Although it may suit party politicians to have short memories, I imagine most of your readers can carry back their recollection to the state of public feeling respecting our relations with the United States; for many months previous to the commencement of Lord Ashburton’s mission, public opinion, which is usually in excess either on the side of security or of apprehension, then inclined strongly in the direction of alarm. It was generally thought that feelings naturally tending to hostility between the two countries, were progressively and dangerously on the increase. Many did not hesitate to affirm, some to affirm publicly, that war, even if now averted, was yet, in no very long period, inevitable: while there were none who did not feel that dispositions existed on the other side of the Atlantic, and were, to all appearance, very likely to be excited on this, which would eagerly lay hold of any pretence for quarrel. Above all, it was feared, that so long as the boundary question remained open, acts of aggression on one or the other side, were every year more likely to take place, which might force the two governments into war in spite of themselves: because, however unauthorised by them the provocations might be, it might not be possible for them to extricate themselves from the responsibility except by acts of atonement more humiliating to national vanity than in the present low average of human virtue the public opinion of their respective countries would permit them to make. It is hazarding little to assert that to this extent the generality of sober and sensible people in our own country did feel uneasiness; and that a war of this description, unintended by the two governments or nations, but in which they might insensibly and almost unconsciously become involved by the mere natural progress of the boundary dispute, was the only one of which such people thought there was any real danger. And certainly this belief is not proved to have been ill-grounded, because it may happen that public opinion has since gone round to the opposite quarter, and changed from exaggerated alarm to an indolent forgetfulness that there ever was any ground for apprehension at all.
With this sense of the importance of removing, while it could still be done, all stumbling blocks to good understanding between the two nations, and especially the greatest stumbling block, the boundary dispute, most persons, I believe, saw with pleasure the appointment of a special envoy to the United States. It indicated that an attempt was about to be made in earnest to settle these differences. It proved that Sir R. Peel’s policy on the question was to be pacific.2 And I do not think I am mistaken in affirming that Lord Ashburton was generally deemed to have been wisely selected for this purpose, precisely because of those family ties and former commercial relations which connected his interests and his sympathies with the welfare of America as well as of England. It was felt that the regular diplomatists of the ministerial party with their Tory and anti-American prejudices had been put aside, and that a man had been chosen of whom, more than of almost any other who would have been considered eligible, it might be certain that he had no such prejudices. I believe this circumstance to have been the cause of the decrease of public apprehension, which almost instantly manifested itself on the announcement of Lord Ashburton’s appointment. The choice was approved, not because it was thought that he would not, but that he would, make peace. It was felt that he was a man who would take a practical, rather than a pedantic, view of the matters in issue, and who would be less likely than most men to hold out for the summum jus where it would have the effect of summa injuria.3 However this may be, there was no mistaking the indications of general belief that Lord Ashburton, if any one, was the man to settle this question; and of a general hope that he would settle it, mixed, indeed, with considerable doubt of the practicability, but accompanied by an evident disposition to call both him and the government which employed him to a severe account if, being able to settle it in any manner not disgraceful, they failed to do so.
And now, let me ask, in what manner was it expected, or desired, that Lord Ashburton should apply himself to effecting this settlement?
Was it by announcing the peremptory resolution of Great Britain to make no concessions, but to insist upon receiving the whole of what, upon her own showing, she was entitled to? Would any human being have suggested this as the style of negotiation to be adopted, or a proposition of this nature as the basis of the settlement to be offered? Yet, sir, if your series of articles does not mean this, I am unable to discover what it does mean. Your main ground of accusation is that Lord Ashburton has given up a part—I have no objection to say a very large part—of the territory in dispute, when we were, you say, entitled to it all. We had got a report from our commissioners, which proved our case to our own complete satisfaction.4 We had obtained our own consent to keep the whole country. We had sat as judges in our own cause, and nothing remained but to execute the verdict pronounced by that impartial tribunal. It is difficult to see, on this showing, what Lord Ashburton was sent across the Atlantic to do; for I do not suppose his instructions were to argue the matter à champ clos with Mr. Tyler,5 the report in his hand, until he brought over that gentleman, and along with him the whole American people, to the English way of thinking on the subject.
Where then is the candour of urging, in condemnation of the treaty, our own opinion of our own right, which, if it be an objection to this, would have availed equally against any other treaty by which a person in his senses could have expected to effect a settlement of the differences? I do not mean to weary you by prolonging the discussion on the details of this interminable question. Mr. Featherstonhaugh’s report shall, for me, be the most irrefragable of documents; it shall have proved our entire case, by evidence which only the utmost perversity and folly could resist. It is very natural and very usual for the plaintiff in a cause, to think all this in favour of his own side. But unhappily it is also very common for the defendant to think the exact contrary. It may be very shameful that persons with opposite interests on a question should take such opposite views of it. But as it is a fact, grounded on the testimony of experience, mankind have generally been of opinion that it is not advisable to take an interested party’s views of his own case; that in general he had better forbear to act upon it himself; and that when no tribunal exists having authority over both parties, nor any umpire whom both would accept, that sort of medium between the pretensions on both sides, commonly called a compromise, will in general be not only the most expedient arrangement, but the nearest approach to substantial justice which the circumstances admit of. Accordingly, in the year immediately preceding Lord Ashburton’s mission, the voice of every rational person in both nations was in favour of a compromise. When a special envoy was appointed, nobody had any doubt that a compromise was to be attempted; and at this moment everybody is in reality very glad that it has been effected, and would have been very much disappointed if it had not.
I am quite aware of the volley of argument and oratory which may be opened from the old topic of the danger of yielding to unjust pretensions, the imprudence as well as spiritlessness of submitting to aggression in order to avoid inconveniences, the preferableness of actual war to the reputation of an over-dread of it, &c. &c. These are truisms which nobody desires to dispute. When a real injury is attempted; when, for the purpose of insult, or in the spirit of ambitious encroachment, a neighbour seizes, or endeavours to seize, upon some possession belonging to us, or to usurp from us something generally acknowledged to be our right, nobody but a coward would offer him half the amount on condition of not disturbing us in the remainder. But the present is a case of a totally different complexion. In the first place there is no injury, no aggression, but a fair and allowable difference of opinion. An absurd treaty, framed in ignorance of the country, and in terms which no one could understand, left the question in complete uncertainty; and each party might, and in fact did, in perfect good faith, believe that it had right on its side.6 You yourself admit that our right was not proved until the commission made their report (though just as noisily asserted before as after the appearance of that wonderful document) and since there are many Englishmen who think that the report has not proved it, there is little wonder that the American people should think the same.
But, in the next place, suppose that it really had been, in the beginning of the dissension, a question of injury; that America had been guilty of an intentional and unwarranted aggression upon an indisputable right of ours, which it was incumbent on us to repel, even though war were the result—the time for resisting the injury was the time when it commenced, and not twenty-five years afterwards.7 If there is a proposition in international policy more plain than another, it is, that a question which has been allowed to remain open for that space of time, must either go on to a war, or be settled by a compromise. One generation has passed away, and another has grown up in the belief, well founded or not, that its own side of the question was right. When this is the case, you will vainly strive to convince them that they were wrong. A nation cannot change in a few weeks, an opinion a quarter of a century old in its own favour. This may be very pitiful; but it is because human nature is thus pitifully constituted, that policemen and judges have been found necessary. When a dispute between two nations has lasted so many years, one or other of them must commit the supposed meanness of giving up what it deems its right, or else each side must abate somewhat of its claims. In the adjustment, each will be apt to think the expectations of the other extremely unreasonable; but the opinion which either has of its having a right to more is not the consideration which ought to decide, either whether there shall be a compromise or what shall be its terms.
With respect to the conditions of the compromise, something like an equal division of the matter in dispute was the most natural and most equitable mode of settling the question at once; or since the subject in litigation was of much greater importance to the Americans than to us, if the balance inclined to either side, it was most reasonable that it should incline to theirs. But Lord Ashburton appears to have held the scales tolerably even. His boundary line gives us, it is acknowledged, a larger share of the territory than the King of Holland’s award, which as we were willing to accept, we did not, it must be presumed, deem it grossly unfair, at least as a compromise. But, it is objected, we concede to the Americans what the former award did not give them, the navigation of the St. John’s,8 a concession which cost us nothing, but by which, on the contrary, as their trade by that river will be chiefly with ourselves or our colonies, we equally with them shall be gainers. But it is pretended that the presence of Americans on our river will be dangerous to us, not in time of war with America, for then they would, of course, be excluded, but by enabling them to aid or foment internal disturbances. Why more so, I should be glad to know, than their presence on our highways, where they are already entitled to be, and from which nobody has ever dreamt of excluding them?
As for the pettifogging questions which you profess to think of so much importance, about Rouse’s Point, or any other unheard-of military station on one or other side of the boundary, these are scarcely the sort of objections one is expected to hear from the Morning Chronicle. Does modern warfare turn upon the possession of a frontier post more or less?—a post, too, from which whoever is strongest in the field could expel the other in the first week after the commencement of hostilities, if, as is scarcely probable, he thought it worth while. Lord Ashburton is to be commended for not attaching exaggerated importance to these misères. The wisdom of nations consists in avoiding occasions of quarrel, and in removing them as early as possible when they arise; not in keeping a dispute open, in order that, when it has grown into a war, the war may be carried on with some infinitesimal fraction more of advantage to their own side. If war should come, the issue, we may rely upon it, will be determined by quite another class of considerations than these. Every person who has not some extremely strong interest in maintaining the contrary, knows perfectly well that our retaining or not our American territories, in case of a war with the United States, depends simply and solely upon our so acting in the meanwhile, that when the time comes we shall be found in possession of the sincere adherence and attachment of the colonists. Without that, no military force that we could afford to maintain in the colonies, would hold them against the far larger force which the vicinity of the enemy would enable them to pour down upon us. With it, the whole strength of the union, when it shall have grown to three times what it is, will not suffice to tear them from us. Let us have the affections of the Canadians, and let the Americans have Rouse’s Point. If we gain one additional chance in twenty thousand of averting a war by the relinquishment of that regretted promontory, we have made an advantageous exchange, and Lord Ashburton would have been much to blame if he had perilled the ratification of his treaty by objecting to arrange the matter on that basis.
TORRENS’S LETTER TO SIR ROBERT PEEL
Mill’s comment on the economic and social life of Britain continues in this notice of Robert Torrens’s A Letter to the Right Honourable Robert Peel, Bart., M.P. &c. &c. on the Condition of England, and on the Means of Removing the Causes of Distress (London: Smith Elder, 1843). The review, in the Spectator’s “Library” section, is headed as title. It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A review of Col. Torrens’ Letter to Sir Robert Peel ‘on the Condition of the country’ in the Spectator of 28th January 1843”
(MacMinn, p. 55).
colonel torrens has done good service both to political science and to the exigencies of the moment by this pamphlet. It is long since temporary events have given birth to a publication more full of matter for permanent thought. It takes a comprehensive and far-sighted view of the circumstances on which the industrial prosperity of Britain and the condition of all classes of our population will ultimately depend: and although the author, as is not unusual with him, seems to us to overstate the importance and urgency of a portion of his doctrines in their application to the immediate circumstances of the country, this exaggeration is venial if it tends to fix the earlier attention of statesmen upon perils which every day brings nearer, and upon precautions which cannot without imminent mischief be much longer neglected.
From the time when the mechanical inventions of the era of Watt and Arkwright1 made England the principal manufacturing nation of the globe, an ever larger and at length a preponderant part of her population have gained their subsistence by the production of manufactured articles for foreign markets. The condition of this great and growing mass of human beings has, during the whole period, been on the average considerably superior, as to the quantity of the produce of labour which they could command, to the condition of the corresponding classes in other countries: but it has been subject to great vicissitudes, and chequered by occasional intervals of severe distress. We are now in one of the severest of these; one which has already surpassed the usual duration of such periods, and, long after most people expected it to terminate, shows no signs of termination. Is this, then, a passing crisis like the rest, or the indication of a permanent change? Is the sun of our manufacturing superiority momentarily eclipsed, or is it sinking below the horizon?
Colonel Torrens is of the latter opinion. He deems the time to be approaching when England will be unable to continue manufacturing for foreign markets, unless by submitting to a fall of the wages of our artisans, down to, or even below, the foreign level. Our peculiar position, as a people selling our goods in foreign markets and yet making greater gains than our foreign competitors, depends, in his view, upon circumstances essentially temporary. It depends upon our being able to produce manufactured goods with a smaller quantity of labour than other countries. This is owing to “mechanical inventions, manual dexterity, and productive coal-mines.” [P. 10.] To whatever extent these advantages enable us to produce the same quantity of manufactured goods with fewer hands than our neighbours, to the same extent those hands may be better paid. But if these advantages ceased, we could not continue to sell in the same markets with foreigners and yet pay higher wages than they. And if the power of cheaper production were not only lost by us but transferred to foreigners, (by reason, for instance, of their easier access to the raw material,) we could only maintain a competition with them by a fall of wages even below their level.
Now, our advantages in cost of production during the war,2 when we had the full benefit of the inventions of Watt and Arkwright while other nations had not yet acquired them, were immense: but since the peace, all other nations have been rapidly making up their lee-way. American labour, even as applied to manufactures, is as efficient as our own; that of the principal Continental nations is rapidly approaching to ours. They now obtain all mechanical inventions almost as early as ourselves; and the skill of their operatives cannot long continue inferior. It is in cheapness of coal only, and that to a very moderate extent, that we can hope to retain any superiority; amply compensated, in the case of several of our competitors, by their cheaper command over the raw materials of our manufactures. We cannot, therefore, expect much longer to retain the greater part of our foreign trade, and at the same time uphold a rate of money-wages exceeding that of the Continent.
The same conclusions may be deduced still more directly from the most universal truths of political economy. A nation cannot maintain higher wages than other countries, except in the proportion in which the general productiveness of her industry is superior. For if she could, those higher wages must be at the expense of profits. But profits cannot, in the present state of civilization, be depressed in any country much below the general level of the commercial world, since otherwise capital would emigrate, and restore the balance. Wages, therefore, in England, must cease to be higher than on the Continent, when the productiveness of English ceases to surpass that of Continental labour.
These are the abstract doctrines of our author; which, as abstract doctrines, we cannot gainsay; but as truths applicable to the present circumstances of England, they do not appear to us of very serious moment. Doubtless, the industrial progress of foreign nations does and must progressively diminish the inferiority in the productiveness of their labour as compared with ours. But there is still a large margin, on which it will take them many years, if not generations, seriously to encroach. Our advantages are stated by Colonel Torrens to be, besides cheap coal, “mechanical inventions” and “manual dexterity.” We should rather say, not the mere dexterity, but the efficiency in all respects, moral and physical, of British labourers. This is not the mere effect of practice and training; it is a feature of national character. An Englishman is a more hard-working animal than a Frenchman or a German: he throws more of his energy, more (we may say) of his life, into his work. Competent witnesses, who have compared English with Continental labour, generally deem English labour the cheaper of the two at a much higher price. Before a Continental operative can be as steady a workman as an Englishman, his whole nature must be changed: he must acquire both the virtues and the defects of the English labourer; he must become as patient, as conscientious, but also as careworn, as anxious, as joyless, as dull, as exclusively intent upon the main chance, as his British compeer. He will long be of inferior value as a mere machine, because, happily for him, he cares for pleasure as well as gain. In America, indeed, labour is as efficient as with us; but in America wages are already higher than in England.
And even in mechanical inventions, we shall probably maintain our superiority somewhat longer than Colonel Torrens expects. It is true, inventions spread rapidly from country to country, but not so the power of bringing them into profitable use. In that respect, the advantage of having large masses of capital already accumulated is immense. There are as many inventions made on the other side of the Channel as on this; but it is to England that the inventors bring their inventions when they desire to make money by them.
We have on the whole, then, no expectation that the superiority of England, as a manufacturing nation, will be very seriously undermined in our own time. And if it were, the evil with which we are menaced is not, when closely examined, so very frightful as the terms in which it is announced might lead one to imagine. The threat is, not that wages will be low, but that they will be no higher than the wages of the same description of labourers in some other countries. And as the process by which this result is to be brought about consists of a great improvement in the productive resources of those countries, we may reasonably hope that it will be accomplished fully as much by a rise in the remuneration of their labour as by a fall in our own.
But how if all other nations adopt restrictive tariffs? How if, by imposing duties on English manufactures, fully equivalent to their superior cheapness, foreign governments should prematurely force our goods to meet theirs on terms of mere equality, or positive inferiority? Here, undoubtedly, is the real source of alarm; and here it is that the principles of this pamphlet become of immediate practical application. If foreign nations generally adopt this policy and persevere in it, our manufactures will either be excluded from their markets, or will find admittance only by a great reduction of money-wages; and the train of consequences described and characterized by Colonel Torrens will then be inevitable, unless remedial measures adequate to so critical a state of things can be devised and adopted.
Here, then, is the really vital question of practical statesmanship for England, so far as material interests are concerned. With universal free trade, England might not indeed remain for ever, but would be tolerably secure of remaining for generations to come, the workshop of the world. Not how to retain her natural superiority, but how to make herself independent of the attempts of foreign governments to counteract it artificially by restrictive tariffs, is the problem for English politicians.
Three different remedies have been suggested; and these are fully and elaborately discussed by Colonel Torrens.
The first is the repeal of the Corn-laws. Of this our author is an earnest advocate. But he does not anticipate from it all the benefits which sanguine persons have prophesied. [Pp. 29-32.] If by abolishing the Corn-laws we could induce foreign governments to repeal their restrictions, we should indeed arrest the evil. But if not, we should only succeed in slightly alleviating its pressure. With money-wages reduced to the level of France, it would be some relief to our labourers if the money were made to go further in the purchase of corn. But as corn would still be dearer than in France by the charges of importation, while money-wages were the same, real wages would be lower than in France, though not quite so much lower as they would be if the Corn-laws were maintained.
The second remedy which has been thought of is the improvement of our own agriculture. [Pp. 32-7.] This would relieve our labourers in the same manner, by making their diminished money-wages go further in the purchase of the main necessaries of life. But it is quite problematical whether any practicable agricultural improvement would render food permanently cheaper here than on the Continent; while such improvements, (however salutary their ultimate effect,) if introduced on a great scale, would in the first instance diminish greatly the employment of labour on the land, and aggravate instead of relieving the immediate distress of the population. The introduction, for example, of Scotch agriculture into Ireland, would scatter the Irish labouring population as paupers and beggars over the Three Kingdoms, and “wheat-fed, decent-clad, cottage-lodged England, would disappear under the avalanche of potato-and-weed-fed, half-naked, mud-lodged Ireland.” [P. 37.]
One remedy remains; and that is, to supply the loss of our foreign customers, by raising up new, young, prosperous agricultural communities beyond the sea. [Pp. 76-94.] This is the great resource which Mr. Wakefield first pointed out the means of turning to useful account;3 and almost from the first promulgation of Mr. Wakefield’s views, Colonel Torrens has been their earnest and intelligent apostle.4 He has urged these views in season and out of season, never wearying, and never dreading the reproach of repetition; and nowhere has he done this good service more effectually than in the present pamphlet. Nowhere will the reader find more completely demonstrated than here, the reviving effect which would be produced upon the industrial state of a country in which both labour and capital are every year more and more redundant, by the transfer of large masses of both to her outlying possessions, there to raise raw produce for exchange against the manufactures of the parent nation. And this, as our author clearly shows, could be accomplished without taxation—by the mere guaranteeing of loans, on which, if the colonizing scheme were sufficiently comprehensive, a large interest would be securely paid from the proceeds of the industry which those very advances would set in motion.
It is really time that our statesmen should consent to occupy themselves in sober earnest with such suggestions as these, and not continue to reject them as “projects” and “theories”: expressions never applied, we observe, to any proposition which is pressed upon Government by a dozen monied persons who fancy they have a private interest in it; but there is a prejudice against all views which appear to be taken up disinterestedly and from public motives—as if nobody who is worth listening to could have any intellect to spare from the pursuit of his own emolument for so trifling a matter as the public good. We predict, nevertheless, that in no long period Systematic Colonization will force itself upon our rulers, as an indispensable measure, not only of industrial policy, but of national safety. While the Corn-laws last, little will probably be done towards what would be deemed by a large portion of the community a mere trick to save the “landlord’s monopoly.” But that great moral barrier to a right understanding of the causes of national calamity once swept away, the Minister, whoever he be, that has the wisdom and the courage to originate a great system of colonization, on the only principles on which it can be any thing but a miserable abortion, will find, we believe, in the intelligent of all parties, a completeness of preparation and a strength of support of which few yet dream.
LORD BROUGHAM AND M. DE TOCQUEVILLE
Alexis Clérel de Tocqueville (1805-59), the French historian and social analyst whom Mill knew and whose De la démocratie en Amérique he had twice fully reviewed and praised (CW, Vol. XVIII, pp. 47-90 and 153-204), had made a speech on 28 Jan., 1843, in the Chamber of Deputies on the Right of Search (Moniteur, 1843, pp. 162-4). Lord Brougham took exception to his remarks on 2 Feb., in the course of a speech at the opening of Parliament (PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 66, cols. 33-48). Tocqueville’s letter of protest of 10 Feb. and Brougham’s reply of 14 Feb. were printed in the Morning Chronicle on 16 Feb., p. 5 (and in the Spectator, 18 Feb., pp. 154-55, and elsewhere). In the course of a letter to Tocqueville of 20 Feb. enclosing a copy of this item, Mill remarks that he is not surprised at English misunderstanding of Tocqueville’s position: “il est très naturel que les Anglais ne comprennent pas la France, pas plus que les Français ne comprennent l’Angleterre” (EL, CW, Vol. XIII, p. 570). His letter, headed as title with the subhead, “To the Editor of the Morning Chronicle,” is described in his bibliography as “A letter signed A and headed ‘Lord Brougham and M. de Tocqueville’ in the Morning Chronicle of 20th February 1843”
(MacMinn, p. 55).
You have aided in giving publicity to a correspondence between Lord Brougham and M. de Tocqueville, which, from the interest of the subject, and the celebrity of the disputants, has attracted considerable attention, and in which, not unnaturally, perhaps, the victory seems to have been generally awarded to our own countryman. Will you, in justice to one of the most eminent thinkers and writers of the age, allow it to be pointed out through your journal, that M. de Tocqueville’s meaning has been entirely misunderstood and misinterpreted by Lord Brougham? It is seldom worth while to occupy the public with questions implicating only the good sense and candour of an individual; but as the writings of M. de Tocqueville are of value to all Europe, his reputation is so too; and in the present state of feeling in this country towards France, a state of feeling which Lord Brougham has very laudably endeavoured to mitigate, it is a real evil that one of the best and wisest men in France should be undeservedly deemed to exhibit in himself a concentration of the worst prejudices and faults of his weaker countrymen.
Lord Brougham accused M. de Tocqueville of “marvellous ignorance”1 on a question on which he had made an elaborate speech to the Chamber of Deputies, the question of the right of search. Lord Brougham supposes him to have said that, by the treaties in force, an English cruiser could carry a French vessel to an English port, to be tried and sentenced for slave-trading by an English tribunal; and marvellous indeed must have been M. de Tocqueville’s ignorance if he had believed this to be the case. M. de Tocqueville thought he had done enough to repel the imputation, by sending to Lord Brougham the printed report of his speech,2 but it seems he reckoned without his antagonist; for Lord Brougham, with the words before him, persists in the accusation, and says that M. de Tocqueville must have meant what he says he did not mean, and cannot possibly have meant what he affirms he did.3 Let us see which is right. These are the words:
“Les traités de 1831 et de 1833 contiennent une disposition tout aussi singulière; ils accordent au tribunal d’une nation le droit de juger une nation étrangère.”4 They grant to a tribunal of either nation the right of judging another nation.
Now will any one who knows either French, or common sense, deliberately assert that “juger unenation” ever means, or can possibly mean, to judge, not the nation, but the captain and crew of a vessel belonging to a merchant of that nation? “Juger une nation” can bear only one meaning—to give judgment against the nation itself, that is, against its government; and this is what, under the treaties in question, the courts of another and a foreign country can do. M. de Tocqueville meant, that if a French vessel, seized by England as a slave-trader, and tried, where alone, under the treaties, it can be tried, by a French court, is pronounced by that court to have been seized wrongfully, the French court can award damages against the English government; or an English court could award them against the French government in the reverse case: and this provision M. de Tocqueville (I believe quite rightly) called extraordinary, and unheard of previously to the slave-trade treaties. That he was understood in this sense by his audience, is proved by M. Berryer’s exclamation, “Oui, pour l’indemnité!” and M. de Tocqueville was about to explain himself more fully, when the general sense of the chamber was expressed that it was unnecessary.5 When M. de Tocqueville is speaking of what the treaties permit to be done by one nation against ships or persons of another, he does not designate these last as “une nation,” but as “des criminels d’une nation.”6
Surely either Lord Brougham’s knowledge of French, or his candour, or at least his calmness and considerateness, are greatly at fault here.
Lord Brougham further accuses M. de Tocqueville of having omitted all mention of the unratified American treaty.7 On this point I do not feel quite competent to defend M. de Tocqueville. If he knew of the treaty, he probably thought that, never having gone beyond the preliminary stages, it could not constitute a diplomatic precedent. I am ready to join with any one in regretting that so wise a man did not feel and use the strong argument which this treaty, even though unratified, affords against those French orators and journalists who pretend that the right of search, existing under the treaties in force, is offensive to even the keenest susceptibility on the subject of national honour and independence. But we must not be too severe upon an orator in a deliberative assembly for not thinking it his business to point out and expose the exaggerations on his own side. M. de Tocqueville himself has not been guilty of contending that these treaties offend national honour; at least, I can find nothing to that effect in his speech. His objection to them is of a much more reasonable kind. He says these treaties give to the cruisers of each nation extensive powers of interrupting and molesting the trading vessels of the other, and this arrangement might work well and harmoniously as long as there was perfect good will and friendly feeling between the two nations; but when, unhappily, feelings of sympathy and alliance have given place for the present to those of mutual irritation and jealousy, the same degree of interference can scarcely continue to be exercised without producing collisions and a growing exasperation, which must endanger every year more and more the peace between the two countries. Therefore, says he, if you wish for peace, invite the English government to abolish these treaties, the entire inefficacy of which, for their avowed object, is confessed by the best English authorities; professing at the same time your wish to unite with England, and with as many other civilised nations as possible, in urging upon the only two Christian countries whose laws still permit the importation of slaves, the abolition of the traffic, and the adoption of effectual means for closing their markets, which, and which alone, will really put an end to the trade. And, said M. de Tocqueville, if this were the tone taken by our government, I do not believe the British nation would be so unreasonable as to reject, still less to resent, the proposition.8
These views of M. de Tocqueville may be right or wrong, but they surely are such as may be held by an honest and rational person, without exposing him to the imputation of wishing to exasperate the unhappy animosity which at present exists against England in a great portion of the French people. There are men who seek to increase this animosity; but no one can read in a candid spirit this speech of M. de Tocqueville, and believe him to be one of them; on the contrary, though violent against the Guizot ministry, it is so moderate on the main question, that no one in France could see anything in it but a desire to mollify, instead of inflaming, the hostile feeling towards this country. It is really hard that because other Frenchmen hate England, or because other Frenchmen are absurd and intemperate, their offences should be visited on, perhaps, the one Frenchman by whom such imputations are least merited, and who is likely to feel them the most acutely: indeed, the fact of his having so felt them is the main reason of his having, by the tone of his letter, given to his adversary the advantage of superior temper, of which that adversary has made such skilful use, and to which I conceive he is chiefly indebted for his apparent victory.
THE BANK CHARTER QUESTION 
For the previous renewal of the Bank Charter, in 1833, see Nos. 208, 209, and 212. That Charter was now subject to its decennial revision, and once again the Bank’s partial monopoly of issue was the central question. In the banking crisis of 1836-39, a number of country banks of issue had failed, and Peel (unlike Mill) favoured the gradual curtailment of their powers. He refused to allow any new banks to issue notes, or existing ones to expand their issue, in the measure that Mill here anticipates, “A Bill to Regulate the Issue of Bank-notes, and for Giving to the Governor and Company of the Bank of England Certain Privileges for a Limited Period,” 7 Victoria (24 May, 1844), PP, 1844, I, 51-65, enacted as 7 & 8 Victoria, c. 32 (1844). Mill’s discussion continues in Nos. 298-300; see also his “The Currency Question,” which appeared in the June number of the Westminster (CW, Vol. IV, pp. 341-61). The unheaded leader is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A leading article on the Bank Charter Question in the Morning Chronicle of 20th April 1844”
(MacMinn, p. 57).
the time is drawing near when Sir Robert Peel must break his protracted silence respecting the measures to be proposed to Parliament, in connection with the approaching expiration of the Charter of the Bank of England.
If the rules which the Prime Minister prescribes for others could for a moment be supposed applicable to himself, we might wonder that the declaration of his intentions on a subject of such magnitude should be so long deferred. He has recently, in unequivocal language, stated to the House of Commons what he thinks of those who delay the discussion of important measures till the concluding months of the session of Parliament.1 If the representatives of Ireland pray for a few days longer to confer with their countrymen on a proposition which is to convert their national representation into an engine for registering the edicts of the Orange landed proprietary, he gives a grumbling acquiescence, but under protest, and with an express stipulation that no one shall hold him responsible for whatever may be the consequence of such blameable procrastination. But it would seem that in his judgment delay is an evil only when it is to be employed in deliberation; when his purposes have been made known, he deems it impossible that the nation should require any length of time for the consideration of them. But he invariably reserves the declaration of those purposes to the latest possible moment. It is becoming the practice of the Government to have only one of its measures before the public at a time, withholding, if possible, until that one is out of danger, or rejected, or withdrawn, all knowledge of those which are to follow.
The Bank Charter question has not taken the Government by surprise. Since the last renewal, in 1833, it has been known to every one that this year, if not sooner, would be the time to legislate on the subject. Having ample time to prepare, Ministers accordingly gave early note of preparation. The settlement of the Currency was among the promises in the Queen’s Speech;2 and, certainly, those promises were neither so many nor so brilliant as to account for any tardiness in determining how they were to be fulfilled. If the Ministers had not made up their mind, during the recess, what measure they should submit to Parliament on this subject, they must be incapable of making it up, on reasonable grounds, at all; and if they had, what prevented them from at once introducing their bill, that its principles and provisions might have been canvassed, by competent persons, during the ten weeks and upwards that have since elapsed, and the minds of Parliament and the public prepared for an adequate discussion, before the month of June, when, as Sir Robert Peel tells us, it becomes a question what portion of the Government measures the Government intends to abandon?3
Instead of this, Ministers have maintained that perfect silence which they seem to regard as characteristic of statesmanship; and we do not believe that there is one, even of their parliamentary supporters, who can surmise, on just ground, what their proposition will be. The time, however, is past when Sir Robert Peel’s silence was supposed, even by his own party, to conceal some great mystery of state craft. He profited by this delusion while he could; but, like most of the prestiges on which he subsisted while out of place, it did not survive a year after his accession to office. Most persons are now convinced that when he says nothing, he has nothing very valuable to say; that, as was formerly observed of another political character, when he shakes his head, there is nothing in it.
From the remarkable absence of interest, and even of curiosity, which prevails in almost all quarters concerning the promised measure—a state of the public mind so unlike that which has so often before been experienced on similar subjects—it may be inferred that, in the opinion of the public, Ministers are not likely to propose any material alteration in what exists; but will renew the charter of the Bank of England, on its present footing, without extension, but also without curtailment, of any of its exclusive privileges. This conjecture is doubtless a very probable one. That a minister will do nothing at all, when not urged to action by some powerful pressure, is generally a safe enough guess. But still this is only a presumption, and sometimes fails. What a minister will never voluntarily do, is to move in any direction that conflicts with the interests on which he relies for support. But where none of these interests are implicated, the habitual disposition of official men to leave things alone alternates, especially since the Reform Bill, with a rather strong occasional inclination to signalize themselves by meddling. One of the principal effects of that memorable measure, and of the general break-up of old ideas and associations which accompanied it, was to diffuse a notion much more widely than ever before, that the business of a Government was not to sit still and receive the taxes, but to look out in all directions for all means which could be discovered of conferring benefit on the community. The demand for improvement, and the spirit of it, have been in far more active operation upon the minds of rulers in the last eight or ten years than formerly. But as the circumstances which stimulated the desire for improved legislation, could not all at once confer the capacity of it upon men who had been occupied all their lives with any kind of objects and ideas rather than those which would have qualified them for such a function, they are apt to come to their new task with minds rather ill prepared; and the very men who, when their purpose is to maintain things unaltered, have at their fingers’-ends all the commonplaces deprecatory of “speculative changes,” are often found, when they think the time is come for being reformers, to be ready dupes of the crudest and most superficial theories.
We confess that in the case which has led us into this line of remark, our fears are chiefly of this latter kind. The present system, if it can be so called, of the currency is, doubtless, far from perfect; as is implied in the fact, that it is a medley of several systems, founded on conflicting principles. But we believe that the amount of practical evil fairly attributable to its defects, has been enormously exaggerated by most writers on the subject; while we confidently affirm, that no theory which has been propounded for its improvement is sufficiently matured, or has obtained that general sanction from the opinion of those who are entitled to be considered authorities, which would justify Parliament in making any considerable changes on the faith of such a theory. Yet we feel by no means certain that some attempt of this nature will not, on the present occasion, be made. If there is at present no strong direction of public sentiment in favour of such changes, neither is there any strong disinclination to them; while, such is the diversity of individual opinion on the subject, and so much that is plausible may be said in favour of almost every view, that scarcely any plan could be proposed of which, if brought forward by Government, it could be affirmed beforehand to be impossible that a considerable section of the mercantile public might be induced to give it their support.
THE BANK CHARTER QUESTION 
See No. 297 for the political background of the question of policy examined here and in Nos. 299-300. The unheaded leader is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A second leading article on the Bank Charter Question in the Morning Chronicle of 26th April 1844”
(MacMinn, p. 57).
the evils to which a paper currency is liable are two in number—one is the insolvency of the issuers, the other is fluctuation and consequent uncertainty in value.
Propositions for the improvement of the paper currency of a country must be directed against one or other of these two inconveniences. They must be intended to secure either the actual holders of the paper against loss from the inability of the issuers to meet their engagements, or the community generally against the inconvenience and risk of having their receipts, their payments, and their engagements calculated in a medium of no fixed or certain value.
In the first requisite, security against loss by insolvency, the currency of England was, until a late period, singularly defective. While any adventurer might issue notes of so low a denomination as to be the habitual medium for the small savings, if not for the weekly receipts, of the better paid portion of the labouring classes, the Legislature, in its wisdom, had subjected this power of individuals over the national instrument of exchange to one remarkable restriction: individuals might issue notes; associations, if they exceeded the number of six persons, could not.1 This curious piece of legislation, which was in perfect harmony with the spirit of the British Government up to a comparatively recent period, did not ground itself upon any crotchetty notion, or freak of fancy respecting the superiority of the engagements of individuals over those of companies. The Legislature knew better. They were quite aware that the united credit of fifty or a hundred individuals was a better security than the credit of one, or five, or six. It was because they knew it to be a better security that they determined that one body—the Bank of England—should have the exclusive power of supplying it. They erected it into a monopoly, for the benefit of that body. They enacted that the nation should have no safe paper currency, except the paper of the Bank of England. Unsafe paper money it might have, as much as it pleased. Even this did not content them. Not only in the business of issue, but in ordinary banking business, the Bank of England obtained a similar monopoly. Not only was no other association, of more than six partners, permitted to issue promissory notes, but the public were not even allowed to lend money to any such body, or merchants and agriculturists to borrow from it. No such association was permitted to transact banking business at all. For these restrictions no reason of public utility was so much as pretended. They were erected avowedly for the benefit of a certain corporation, which, beyond lending a part of its capital to Government at a low rate of interest, and assisting the national finances in an occasional emergency by temporary advances on the ordinary banking terms, gave no equivalent.
By this abuse of its powers, the Legislature inflicted upon the country the most unsafe paper currency which, perhaps, ever existed along with professed convertibility into coin. Whenever the vicissitudes of the markets brought on a period of extensive commercial distress—and of what regular recurrence such periods are every one knows—the evil was heightened by numerous failures of bankers, and, among the rest, of many who were issuers of notes. The consequences to the unfortunate holders, many of whom, especially in the rural districts, were of the class to whom small losses are great ones, were most distressing. This, indeed, was the principal means by which the evils of a commercial crisis were extended beyond the class directly affected, the merchants and dealers, to the community generally. Of the misery thus occasioned, vicious legislation was the direct cause. Every labouring man or woman whose small reserve, provided by painful self-denial for unforeseen, or, perhaps, for expected emergencies, was swept away by one of the commercial hurricanes which periodically prostrated the weak money-dealing establishments which alone the Legislature suffered to exist, might with strict justice have claimed compensation from the two Houses of Parliament by individual subscription among their members.
The first step out of this vicious régime was made in 1826, under the pressure of the strong popular excitement caused by the crisis of the preceding winter, one of the most distressing ever before experienced, and which had made peculiar havoc among banking establishments, both in London and in the country. Under these peculiar circumstances the Legislature partially repealed the prohibition against joint-stock banks and banks with numerous partners.2 The exclusive privilege of the Bank of England was not abrogated, nor could it be so before the expiration of the charter, without compensation; but it was narrowed, with the consent of the Bank itself, to a circle of sixty-five miles round London. Within that distance, the Bank was still secured against the rivality of any other banks as secure as itself; but beyond the limit safe banks were now permitted to exist and a safe paper currency to be provided. Along with this relaxation of the monopoly, Parliament adopted the further precaution of suppressing all notes under five pounds. In thus interfering with the liberty of private contract, Parliament proceeded on what appeared the still more important principle of protecting the poor and those who could not protect themselves. It was affirmed that the working classes were not, and in the nature of the case could not be, free agents in such transactions. They were practically compelled, it was said, to take one pound notes of any sort which were tendered by their employers. It was, therefore, thought indispensable to limit the issue of notes to denominations too high to be made the instruments of paying wages, and such as could not often come into the hands of labouring people. On the necessity of this precaution there were then, as there probably are now, differences of opinion; but it has, at least, been effectual for its end. Whoever may now suffer by the failure of banks, the poor cannot. Losses by paper currency are now nearly confined to the classes who can better afford to lose, and who, as depositors or as dealers, cannot be prevented from suffering by failures, whether of bankers or of any other persons with whom they have transactions.
In 1833 the privileges of the Bank of England expired, and in renewing them a further encroachment was made on the monopoly.3 The limit of sixty-five miles was now, to a certain extent, removed, and companies of any number of partners were tolerated in London for all banking purposes except the issue of notes, or other transferable securities equivalent to them. The Bank of England has still, in the supply of currency to London and sixty-five miles round, a monopoly against all other issues except unsafe ones. Joint-stock banks cannot issue paper within that limit; though any adventurer, who succeeds in obtaining temporary credit, may and does.
This, then, is the present constitution of the currency, that is to say, in England; for in Scotland and Ireland notes of one pound still exist as the ordinary medium of circulation, and exist without danger. Under the system of joint-stock banks which there exists, and which in Scotland is as old as paper-money itself, the failure of a bank is unknown. So far as the evil of insolvency is concerned, no reason can be imagined for now interfering with the currency of Scotland or of Ireland.
In England also, since the establishment of joint-stock banks, the currency has approximated, so far as the security of the holders is concerned, to the perfect safety of that of Scotland. Between 1826 and the present time several epochs have intervened of commercial distress, bankruptcies, and severe pressure on the money market. Formerly no such period ever passed over without a crash among country bankers, accompanied by all the evils proverbially consequent upon the nonpayment of their notes. Since the change in the law such failures have been rare, and have ceased to be an ordinary accompaniment of distress among the trading classes. The reason is obvious. When numerous banking companies existed, no private banker, whose fortune and credit were not on a par, or nearly so, with those of a company, could succeed in getting his notes into circulation. During the infancy of joint-stock banks, several of them, from improvident management, were unsuccessful in their business, and have been obliged to wind up their concerns. But, even in these cases, we believe there has not been an instance in which the holders of notes, at least, have been ultimate losers. The present currency, therefore, is already sufficiently secure against the evils arising from insolvency, and bids fair soon to attain the perfect and unimpeachable security, not only beyond failure, but beyond all apprehensions of failure, which has long distinguished the monetary system of Scotland.
To render the assurance even more perfect, it has often been suggested that all banks of issue should be required to give security, for instance, by the deposit of stock, for the indemnification of the holders of their notes in the event of their insolvency.4 To this precaution, if it were really necessary, the objections are not such as to be insuperable; but in so far as any portion of the capital of bankers is compulsorily locked up in a permanent investment, the equivalent of which does not necessarily come back to them in deposits, they are to that extent disabled from performing their regular business of making advances on mercantile security. Nor would it be easy to make out a necessity for imposing this inconvenient obligation, when the evil against which it is intended to provide is non-existent in Scotland, and in England, notwithstanding the novelty of the joint-stock system, is evidently in rapid progress towards extinction.
Another suggestion has been made, of which the effect would be to establish a restriction directly the reverse of that which was formerly in force. It has been proposed that the issue of notes should be prospectively confined to companies, no new licenses being granted to individual bankers.5 This seems, however, a needless interference with freedom of action. It is impossible that private bankers, except those of the firmest credit, should long sustain themselves against the competition of joint-stock banks. Even in London, new private banks are now scarcely ever commenced, while not a few of those previously established have been quietly discontinued. It may be predicted that without any interference of Government, in a few years no private bankers, or small banking partnerships, will exist, except those which, from their resources and high character, are quite worthy to compete for public confidence with the aggregate wealth of joint-stock companies. Some private banks of this high character exist even in Scotland, and are practically quite as secure as the larger associations.
There is, however, one extensive portion of this island in which, with respect to currency, the old monopoly subsists; in which individuals may create, without restriction, as much paper money as they can induce any person to take, while no joint-stock bank of issue is permitted to enter into competition with them. We allude not to London, where the notes of the Bank of England exclusively circulate, but to the large circle of sixty-five miles radius round London as a centre. There can be no reason why the inhabitants of this large district should remain exposed to the dangers from which it has been thought necessary to protect the rest of their countrymen. The evil, perhaps, is not great, since the district does not include any of the great seats of production and commerce, while the circulation of Bank of England notes, through its whole extent, restricts practically the issue of notes by private bankers to rather narrow limits. Such, however, as it is, this anomaly should be swept away.
That there should be but one bank of issue for the metropolis, where the pecuniary transactions of the whole country are balanced and settled, is by many considered advisable, on grounds with which danger of insolvency has nothing to do.6 To enforce this monopoly of the currency circulating in London, it may be necessary to superadd a small circle, say of ten miles round it. But beyond some such limited distance, and in districts where the notes of country bankers already circulate, it is a perversion of reason to enact that these notes shall be exclusively of the worst kind. Either all issues, except those of a single body, should be prohibited, or the liberty which is allowed to individuals should be extended to associations of any number of persons. Among the minor changes which may be proposed in the currency by the ministerial project, or in the course of the discussions to which it gives rise, there is no one which seems to us less liable to any well-grounded, or even plausible objection, than the restriction of the monopoly of the Bank to the small but important district which it already exclusively supplies, leaving the larger circle beyond to the free competition of companies and individuals.
THE BANK CHARTER QUESTION 
For the background and other articles in the series, see Nos. 297-8 and 300. This unheaded leader is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A third leading article on the Bank Charter Question in the Morning Chronicle of 27th April 1844”
(MacMinn, p. 57).
the most serious of the imputations against the currency as now constituted, is liability to over-issue, by which is of course meant, issue in such abundance as to depreciate the currency, or what is the same thing, to raise general prices. The representatives of the most opposite interests, and of the most conflicting opinions on the practical part of the question, concur in ascribing this mischievous tendency to the present system; but they do not equally agree as to what is the peccant part of its construction. The country bankers almost unanimously charge all the evil upon the Bank of England, while that body and the advocates generally of a single bank of issue, represent the mischief as closely connected with the multiplicity of issuers, and especially as incurably inherent in the system acted upon by the country banks.
It is very curious to observe the vicissitudes of the public mind in this matter within one generation, and how rapidly the almost universal opinion of persons supposed to be practically conversant with the subject has passed over from one extreme to its opposite. There is a fashion in mercantile, as well as in medical opinions. There is generally a favourite disease and a favourite remedy; and to know what these are we have seldom so much to consider the nature of the case as the date of the year, whether it is 1814 or 1844.1 Between the years 1797 and 1819 the universal currency of the kingdom was paper not exchangeable for specie.2 An inconvertible paper currency is but another word for a currency which can be depreciated at pleasure. There is absolutely no limit to its quantity, except the will of the issuers. Yet, during the greater part of that interval, the mercantile public obstinately refused to believe that depreciation was possible. Nothing could induce the “great practical authorities” to listen to the doctrine that a currency issued by bankers upon bills of short dates, and grounded on actual transactions, could ever be susceptible of excess. Issued on such terms, its amount could never exceed the “wants of trade;” as if the wants of trade were not unlimited, and indefinitely extensible. Those whose memory does not reach to the period, and who are not familiar with its voluminous controversies, can have no idea what a world of argument and explanation were found necessary by Mr. Horner, Lord King, Mr. Blake, Mr. Huskisson, and Mr. Ricardo,3 before the mercantile men of the time could be made to understand that a currency, constituted like that of England, could be, and in fact was, depreciated. Ingenuity was exhausted to explain away all the appearances which proved it. Theories, each more absurd than its predecessor, were set up to account for the rise of gold, when paid for in paper, above the Mint valuation; for the permanently unfavourable exchanges; and for the general high prices. Any supposition—no matter what—was preferred to that of over-issue, although in an inconvertible currency. The currency is now convertible, in law and in fact, without the shadow of an obstacle; the smallest difference of value between gold and paper is rendered impossible, by the perfect liberty of exchanging, at any moment, the one for the other; and this, by the great writers on the bullion controversy, was thought a sufficient security. No one then supposed that a currency, really convertible, needed any additional contrivance to render it steady in its value. Yet the public, which then refused to see or hear such a thing as over-issue, now hears of nothing else. Over-issue is the word for every fluctuation of the markets. The most ordinary disturbance of prices from anticipation of deficiency, or expected variations of demand, can be explained by nothing but over-issue.
Although not going to this absurd length, some writers of merit and reputation contend that, even under the completely convertible currency which we now possess, over-issue is possible to such an extent as to be a very serious calamity. They are not without forcible arguments in support of their position.
They admit that, in a convertible currency, no issue of notes beyond the quantity which would otherwise circulate as coin, can be permanently kept in circulation. The superfluous paper is sure to be returned to the issuers, who have to pay for it in gold. But the removal of the excess requires some time, and takes place by means of a previous rise of prices. The steps of the process are said to be these: the excessive issue of paper raises prices; when prices rise, an inducement is afforded to send increased orders for the importation of foreign commodities; when the time arrives at which these increased importations are to be paid for, gold must be remitted, and this gold is procured from the Bank. But during the intervening period, which is sometimes of considerable duration, the rise of prices, at first occasioned by the over-issue, promotes a spirit of speculation. By speculative purchases prices are still further raised; and the speculators, to enable them to hold on without realising, apply to the banks for additional advances, which, if granted, produce a still further over-issue of paper. The rise of prices and increase of the currency may thus, in periods favourable to speculation, proceed to a great length before the inevitable revulsion, which, of course, will be of corresponding violence. When at last gold begins to leave the country, the fall of prices, which must sooner or later occur, will give rise to commercial distress, proportioned to the previous false appearance of prosperity. But this evil is liable to be greatly heightened by the conduct of the banks. If they become alarmed at the rapidity with which their treasure leaves them, they “put on the screw,” for the purpose of contracting the currency and stopping the drain of gold; they refuse even the usual accommodation to the merchants, who are thus deprived of their accustomed resources at a time of more than ordinary need; or they may, on the contrary, adopt a course less immediately harsh, but ultimately still more fatal. Under the urgent demands made by the embarrassed merchants, and for the sake of “supporting trade,” they may disregard the drain of gold, and re-issue, in loans, the surplus paper which has been returned upon their hands. By doing this, they prolong the crisis; they prevent the complete relapse of prices which would have brought things back rapidly to the natural course. Additional gold is now demanded for exportation proportional to the fresh over-issue; and the issuers are at last compelled to apply “the screw” with still greater violence, in order to prevent the total exhaustion of their treasure.
To guard against these evils, it is affirmed to be indispensable to place the issuing bodies under such regulation that they shall increase their issues only when gold is flowing into the country, whereby the currency, even if metallic, would be increased; and shall always contract their issues when the exchanges show that gold is on the point of flowing out. There cannot, it is justly said, be any better standard of value than the metals. The fluctuations to which a metallic currency would be liable, it is necessary to bear with. But to these inevitable variations it ought not to be permitted that paper money should superadd others. A paper currency should be so constituted, as to be always of the same value as a currency composed wholly of the metals. In order to be of the same value as a metallic currency, it must be the same in quantity: it must increase and diminish only when, and exactly as much as, a purely metallic currency would increase and diminish. Whenever the state of the exchange tends to bring gold into the country, the paper issues ought to increase; whenever it carries gold out, they ought to diminish. The turn of the exchange ought to be the sole regulator of the currency; and the more mechanically, the more automatically it operates, the better.
Those who take this view of a paper currency—among whom Mr. Loyd, Mr. Norman, Colonel Torrens, Mr. M’Culloch,4 and other high authorities may be counted—think that the issue of notes should be confined to a single body. The joint-stock banks and country bankers, they say, do not, and perhaps cannot, regulate their issues by the exchanges. A multiplicity of issuers is not compatible with such regulation. Each bank is urged, by competition, to put forth its own notes, hoping that when the revulsion comes, the loss will fall upon other banks, rather than upon itself. The issue of a paper currency, according to these writers, should be a public function, entrusted to the responsibility of a single body. This body should be either a national board, or, if a corporation like the Bank of England, it should be compelled by law to keep its banking transactions entirely distinct from its circulation. As an issuing body, it should hold a fixed amount of securities, to be neither increased nor diminished; and beyond that amount, should be permitted to issue its notes only in exchange for bullion. It should be obliged to give its notes for bullion, or bullion for notes, whenever required. Under this regulation, the amount of the circulation would, it is affirmed, always be exactly the same as with a metallic currency. Whenever the course of trade carried gold out of the country, the gold would be obtained from the Bank in payment of its notes, and the notes not being re-issued, the same amount would be subtracted from the paper as would have been subtracted from a metallic currency. When the balance of trade brings gold in, which, if the currency were metallic, would have constituted an addition to its amount, the gold will be sold to the Bank, and the notes delivered in exchange for it will be an addition to the paper currency exactly equivalent. In this manner, according to the opinion of these authorities, it is possible to secure the great fundamental requisite of a paper currency, steadiness of value, by making the variations in its quantity exactly conform to those which would occur in a currency altogether metallic.
On another occasion we shall state the considerations by which these arguments, powerful as they appear, have been at least balanced, if not completely overruled.
THE BANK CHARTER QUESTION 
For the background, see Nos. 297-9. This unheaded leader is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A fourth leading article on the Bank Charter Question in the Morning Chronicle of 30th April 1844”
(MacMinn, p. 57).
we gave, on Saturday, a concise statement of the doctrines and arguments of those who, thinking it necessary that a paper currency should exactly conform in its quantity to what would be the amount of a purely metallic circulation, are of opinion that this can only be secured by confining the powers of issue to a single body, compelled by law to regulate its issues strictly by the exchanges.
But these opinions, though plausibly supported by writers of high authority, are opposed by arguments at least as forcible, and by authorities equally high. The case on the other side of the question may be rested upon the pamphlet entitled An Inquiry into the Currency Principle, lately published by Mr. Tooke,1 a writer who has long been considered one of the highest, if not the very highest, of living authorities, on all questions which require the combination of a knowledge of the scientific principles of commerce, and a familiarity with its practical details.
In the first place, granting the truth of the fundamental principle contended for, that the variations in the amount of a paper currency ought to be precisely conformable to those which would take place in a currency wholly metallic, it is denied that this conformity would exist under the system proposed. The doctrine assumes that if the circulating medium consisted exclusively of coin, all gold exported would be taken from the currency; whenever imported, it would all be added to the currency; and that the paper, therefore, should be made to vary in the same manner. But this assumption is not tenable. There is at all times, in every commercial country, a large amount of bullion, as a common article of merchandise, waiting for a market; and this is applicable, and is continually applied, to the payment of international balances, without trenching upon the currency. Doubtless, if the circumstances of the country, in regard to foreign trade, became such as to produce a permanent diminution of its stock of the precious metals, involving, as this would do, a permanent rise in their value, the amount of coin in circulation would eventually diminish in the same ratio. But the mere transportation of bullion from country to country, in the ordinary course of trade, going out one month or year and returning the next, according to the accidents of the markets, would have no such effect. Such transfers would often occur under a purely metallic system, without diminishing the currency in the one case, or adding to it in the other. A metallic currency, therefore, would not necessarily, and in all cases, be affected by the exchanges; and if a paper currency were strictly regulated by them, it would be subject to variation in cases in which a metallic currency would not vary. Under a paper system, as often as the precious metals are wanted for exportation, the banks, being by profession dealers in them, are usually had recourse to. Suppose a balance due to a foreign country. The gold required for making the payment is obtained from the Bank of England in exchange for its notes. These notes, under the proposed system, the Bank would not be permitted to re-issue, until the course of trade again brought in gold, to be offered for sale. In the intermediate period, the currency, consisting of paper, will have been artificially contracted; when if it had consisted wholly of the metals, it would possibly, and even probably, have remained unaltered in amount.
The object, therefore, to which so much importance is attached—that of keeping the amount of paper issues precisely identical with the amount of coin which they displace—would be as often frustrated as promoted by the means proposed. But the objection taken to the theory is still more fundamental than this. The principle itself is denied. The necessity or advantage of conformity between the amount of a paper currency, and what would have been the amount of a metallic, is not admitted. It is denied that the temporary augmentation of issues, which is the only augmentation possible under a convertible currency, has the injurious effects ascribed to it; that it tends to raise prices, or to promote speculation.
According to the views which we are now stating, it is not every increase of the quantity of money in the hands of the public which tends to raise general prices; but only an increase of the money which is in the hands of those who are purchasing for their own consumption: in other words, an increase in the aggregate money incomes of the community. If an addition were made to the currency in such a manner as to be at once paid away in wages, or added in any other form to the funds destined to be expended as revenue, this would raise prices. And any increase of the currency which could be kept permanently out would, no doubt, in time permeate all the channels of circulation, and ultimately add to the funds intended for personal expenditure. But the issues of the banks do not take place in this manner. They are made, not to consumers, but to dealers, to be employed, not in their expenditure for consumption, but in their pecuniary transactions with other dealers. An increase of money in the hands of dealers cannot tend to raise prices as between consumer and dealer. But will it not raise prices as between dealer and dealer? To this it is answered, no; for the following reason:—all purchases by dealers are made with a view to the consumer. The consumer is to pay everything at last. It is from the price which the consumer pays that the dealer is to be indemnified for what he has paid, and to derive a profit. A dealer, therefore, will not consent to pay an advanced price unless he sees a prospect that the price will also rise to the consumer, who is to reimburse his advances. A speculative rise of prices in the great transactions between dealers is always grounded upon some expected deficiency of supply, or increase of the demand for consumption, by which, if it takes place, the consumer will be forced to pay a higher price; and if the speculative rise goes beyond what turns out to be the actual rise to the consumer, the speculation fails.
On these grounds it is contended that an increase of paper, as it takes place in this country, and so long as the paper is convertible, does not tend to raise prices, and does not constitute a new and independent source of demand. Increased issues, made by banks in advances to dealers, are, it is affirmed, an effect, not a cause, of demand. If unusual activity of trade increases the number of transactions, or if, from circumstances affecting the cost of production or the supply of commodities, those transactions take place at higher prices, this will naturally lead to an increased issue of bank notes, if bank notes happen to be the most convenient medium for the purposes in view. But supposing any increased issue of bank notes to be prevented, this would not prevent the transactions: if they could not take place by bank notes, they would be effected by bills of exchange; if this also was made impracticable, they would take place by checks, and transfers of credit in bankers’ books. The vast majority of transactions among dealers are already effected in these modes, and all might be so. The whole of the mercantile transactions of Amsterdam and Hamburg were formerly (at Hamburg they are still) liquidated by simple transfers of credit in the books of the Amsterdam and Hamburg banks, with whom every merchant kept an account. The speculative transactions of commerce, which are supposed to be affected in such an extraordinary degree by variations in the amount of bank notes, are, in truth, entirely independent of any such medium, and would take place to exactly the same extent if bankers’ paper did not exist. What they really depend upon is credit; in what particular shape credit is given is immaterial. To alter, therefore, the whole banking system of the country, to sacrifice all the existing interests concerned in banks of issue, and impose new restrictions upon the free agency of the community, for the purpose of averting dangers entirely chimerical, and of discouraging speculations to which the change proposed could not oppose the slightest obstacle, would, according to the views we have now stated, be uncalled for and indefensible.
On this controversy we do not take upon ourselves to pronounce any decision. The question is still sub judice. The minds of the most competent thinkers are not yet, generally speaking, made up. There is room and necessity for much further discussion. The views promulgated by Mr. Tooke have yet to be maturely weighed, and due regard paid to what will doubtless be urged in contradiction to them. As yet, no answer to his pamphlet has appeared. In the meantime the Legislature, in such a state of the subject, can have but one rule—Dans le doute, abstiens-toi. While the question is unsettled in the greater number of thinking minds, however positively decided in many foolish ones, let it alone. Renew the present Charter of the Bank of England, with little alteration, for a brief period; five years would be sufficient; more than ten are not to be thought of; and reserve to Parliament an opportunity of reconsidering the subject, when the opinions of the best judges shall have become sufficiently unanimous.
THE MALT TAX
The malt tax, which Mill here supports, was an excise tax on the barley that was malted to make beer. First imposed in 1697 by 8 & 9 William III, c. 22, it had reached its present level of 20s. 8d. a quarter in 1819. Periodic attempts to have it reduced or removed (most notably in 1821, 1833, 1834, and 1835) had been initiated by the agricultural interest. Some reformers and Radicals co-operated, arguing that the tax burdened the working man as well as the farmer and wishing to encourage retrenchment, but others voted for its retention for the sake of the revenue. The unheaded leader is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A leading article on the Malt Tax, in the Morning Chronicle of 13th January 1846”
(MacMinn, p. 58).
although the pretence of “peculiar burdens”1 has lost the efficacy it once had as a popular argument for the Corn-laws, and there is now no danger that the landlords will be much longer permitted to compensate themselves for these pretended burdens by a slice from every loaf consumed in the country, there is still some fear lest the same bad argument may be held good as an excuse for some other injustice, as flagrant though not yet so thoroughly exposed. There seems a general expectation that Sir Robert Peel will clog his proposition respecting the Corn-laws with some project of a revision of the general system of taxation, for the benefit of the landlords. It is not wonderful that such a belief is entertained. Neither friends nor enemies can bring themselves to think it possible that a leader of Tories can reform any abuse thoroughly. They always look for some qualification, for some unjust condition. Sir Robert Peel, in particular, has raised up to himself, by a long series of contrary professions, so many difficulties to pursuing a straight course, that no one can help expecting to find a bend in his path.2 Then, too, he has been flattered into the belief that finance is his peculiar forte. The only measure of his four years’ government which is wholly his own, in which he had been anticipated by no Whigs or Liberals—the income-tax—was a financial measure; and he is supposed to feel a parent’s affection for this, his only child. There is, accordingly, a notion abroad that he will propose the abrogation of the taxes which the landlords most complain of, and will supply their place by a large increase of the income-tax.
Such things must not be reckoned improbable because they are monstrous, nor must it be thought of no consequence that they are proposed because public opinion would be sure to defeat them. Defeated they might be, but Corn-law repeal would for the time be defeated along with them. If the Minister proposes them, it will be as an essential part of his measure. He will stand or fall by it as a whole. He will not propose repeal conditionally, and vote for it unconditionally. If his conditions are refused he will throw up the measure, and without him it cannot be carried in the present Parliament. It is, therefore, important that a proposition to replace one gross injustice by another should not be made by him, and that the public should early manifest their opinion in such a manner as to deter him from attempting it.
Among the taxes which the Protectionists lay claim to as “peculiar burdens,” the most important is the malt-tax. It yields five millions sterling to the revenue. Take it off, and if the substitute is to be an income-tax, the present tax must be doubled. The change would be for the worse in every respect, while there is not a shadow of foundation for the pretence on which it would depend for its justification. In no possible sense of the word is the tax on malt a burden on agriculture.
A peculiar burden on agriculture must mean one of two things. It may mean a burden falling on home-grown produce, but from which imported produce is exempt. This cannot be said of the malt-tax. Malt is not imported. If it was, it would of course be charged with a countervailing duty. The exciseman knows no distinction between British and foreign barley. If it is made into malt it all pays duty. If British barley is fitter for being malted than foreign barley, so much the better for the landlord.
Or a peculiar burden may mean a tax which falls only on the agriculturists, which is paid wholly or chiefly by them, and not at all, or in a much less degree, by any other part of the community. Neither is this true of the malt-tax. Everybody knows that it is paid in the price, or what is equivalent, in the strength, of beer. All consumers of beer pay it. Beer is not a beverage confined to country people. They are not more than a third part of the population, and they do not drink more than a third part of the beer,—they do not drink nearly so much. There is, in all probability, more beer consumed, in proportion to the population, by the inhabitants of towns than by those of the country, and, if quality as well as quantity be considered, very much more.
It would be difficult to show any five millions of the taxation of the country liable to as little objection as the five millions which are the produce of the malt-tax. There are few taxes collected at less expense; there are few which, in proportion to the amount, give rise to so little fraud and evasion. It falls proportionally heavier on the poor than on the rich, which would be a conclusive objection to it as the sole or the principal source of revenue, but not conclusive against it as one tax among a number of others, many of which (the income-tax being one) do not fall on the poor at all. The balance is not held even; but it easily might and ought to be; and there are many better ways of rectifying it than by abolishing a tax which does not fall on the necessaries of the poor. There are no taxes so little objectionable as taxes on luxuries, and among luxuries none are such proper subjects of taxation as stimulants. All stimulants, whether those of the rich or of the poor, should be taxed as high as they will bear; at the highest rate which will not defeat the object by encouraging smuggling—the rate, in short, which will yield the largest revenue. By taxes on stimulants, and direct taxes equitably apportioned (not like the income-tax), this country might raise all the revenue it requires, without any other taxes whatever. Untax stimulants, and you cannot raise the amount without keeping on, and laying on, taxes beyond calculation worse.
But the crowning absurdity in the case of the malt-tax is, that its remission would not at all afford to the agriculturists the relief they desire. It would do them no more good than taking off any other five millions of taxes; and no good at all, if the amount were made up by any other tax of which they paid their share. It cannot be pretended that they would derive any peculiar benefit as consumers. They would get their beer cheaper, and so would everybody else. But they wisely think that they would be benefitted as producers. There would be more beer drank, and more barley consumed. Good, under a strict Corn-law: but what if the Corn-laws are repealed? To this their answer is, that foreign barley will not do for malting, that it cannot compete at any price with British barley. This would be very consoling, doubtless, if not importing barley implied not importing at all. But suppose the ports open, and a demand for more barley, and that the barley must all be grown at home, what effect would this have but that just so much the more wheat and oats would be imported? There can be no increased growth of barley on our own land without increasing the cost or diminishing the supply of other agricultural produce. The place would be filled up by importation, and the agriculturists would be as they were before. We are supposing free trade. But we question if the case would not be the same under the existing law. The present Corn-law, bad as it is, does not succeed in confining the country to its own produce; and if a larger production were suddenly required, even under the present duties a great part of the increase would probably be obtained cheaper by importation. If so, to make the repeal of the malt-tax any material benefit to the landlords the Corn-laws must be made even stricter than they now are. A fortiori, on the supposition of free-trade the gain to them would be illusory, while if the substitute be the income-tax, the pressure of that would be very real. As it is now assessed they are far from paying their just share of it, but there is no doubt that what they do pay they very thoroughly dislike, and would dislike any increase still more.
THE POOR RATES AS A BURDEN ON AGRICULTURE
This unheaded leader is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A leading article on Poor Rates as a burthen on agriculture in the Morning Chronicle of 19th January 1846”
(MacMinn, p. 58).
among the “peculiar burthens”1 of agriculture, of which we have long heard so much as reasons for protection, and of which we are probably destined to hear still more in the ensuing session, as grounds for a re-adjustment of taxation, one which is a favourite topic with oratorical agriculturists is the poor-rate. This plea has never gone for much with the non-agricultural part of the public, who know well, by disagreeable experience, that the poor-rate is anything but a “peculiar” burthen. The towns support all their poor; the country only supports its own. The towns contain a much larger labouring population than the country; if among this greater number a smaller proportion are poor, what is the natural inference from that? There must be something in the state of manufacturing circumstances to hinder the people from being poor, or something in the state of agricultural circumstances to make them so. We have heard much lately, from the Protectionists, of the baneful influence of manufactures upon the labouring classes.2 We have been told that manufacturing employment makes them purchase a year or two of high wages and overwork, at the price of perhaps several years of idleness and starvation. If this be so, the average amount of poor rates and of paupers in the agricultural and manufacturing provinces and parishes must bear witness to it. Let not “agriculture” shrink from the test. A chacun selon ses oeuvres.3 Let manufactures support the paupers they make. They already do so. They do not ask agriculture to support their poor. On the contrary, they support great numbers of those who by birth belong to agriculture. During the interval between the last census and that which preceded it, the whole population of the country increased largely. The agricultural population did not increase at all.4 During those ten years the whole excess of births over deaths in the agricultural districts had been taken and provided for by the towns. Had it not been for manufactures, these additional numbers, if born at all, must have perished in infancy, or remained—not to lower wages, for that, in Wiltshire and Somersetshire, they could not have done, but to increase the poor rates. In this adjustment of the burthen between town and country, it seems strange that it should be the country that complains; yet the landlords are of opinion that to support part of their own poor is to do more than their share, and that the towns do not help them enough. Such a mode of thinking, if it were found among any class but that of the spoiled children of society, would be deemed rather presumptuous.
Their complaint derives its only semblance of a foundation from a matter of formal technicality, immaterial to the pecuniary result in most cases, and which, in the few instances in which it has any substantial effect, there would probably be no indisposition to alter. The poor rate, as all know, is levied from the occupiers of land and houses, by an assessment proportioned to the rent which they pay, or which it is supposed could fairly be demanded from them.5 Now, the occupiers in towns are rated only on the amount of their house rent; the farmers are rated also on the rent of their lands, which, the agriculturists say (and in so far they say truly) is equivalent to rating the landlord. So that the landlord, besides paying poor rate, like other people, on the house which he inhabits, is also rated, indirectly, on the whole income from his land, which comes to him reduced by the poor rate that has been paid by all his various tenants.
This is substantially true, and would amount to a real grievance if the poor rate were a national, instead of a local impost. Were the poor of the nation supported by the funds of the nation (not the poor of the parish by the funds of the parish), it would be very unjust to the landlords to raise those funds in the present mode of assessment. But the rate is a local rate, and long may it continue so. Were it made national, the owners of the soil would cease to have even the weak and insufficient personal interest they now have in checking the inroads of pauperism. So long, then, as each parish supports its own poor, the nominal injustice of the present mode of rating seldom comes into any practical effect. Almost all parishes are practically either entirely town parishes, or entirely agricultural. An agricultural parish may contain a large village, or a small country town; but the rateable income of the parish is even then almost wholly agricultural; much of the property in the town or village belongs to the neighbouring landowners, the remainder is mostly in small portions, and could pay but little, and the landowners are more than indemnified by the low rating of their own “castles” and “halls,” which (as is well known to those who remember the discussions on the house-tax)6 are assessed on the rent which a tenant could be found to give for them, that is, about a ninth or a tenth of their real value (the interest of their cost price).
The cases in which the unequal principle of assessment to the poor rate really operates with injustice are peculiar and exceptional, being chiefly those in which a parish, otherwise agricultural, contains here and there a cotton-mill or other factory. There is in these cases a real unfairness, as between the millowner and the landowner. The one is rated only on the annual value of his buildings, the other virtually on his whole estate. This is an inequality which unquestionably calls for redress, locally, or generally. Redress might be given in two ways. Neither is free from objections, but to neither, perhaps, would the objections be unconquerable. The millowner might submit to be assessed to the poor rate, as he already is to the income tax, on the entire profits of his trade; or if this would be deemed unendurable, the rating of lands might be abandoned, and the assessment, either in certain parishes or universally, might be made on dwelling houses only. This would amount to levying the poor rate by a house tax, which, if impartially assessed, without the favour formerly shown to the class least entitled to it, is one of the best forms of taxation, approaching nearer than almost any other to a perfectly just income tax, without its inquisitorial character. But on these things it will be time to enlarge further when the time comes for considering them with a view to practical effect.
THE ACQUITTAL OF CAPTAIN JOHNSTONE
Captain George Johnstone (b. 1812), of the ship Tory, was brought to trial at the Central Criminal Court on 5 Feb., 1846, charged with the brutal murders of three seamen under his command during a return voyage from China. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury found Captain Johnstone not guilty because of temporary insanity. The case was reported at length in the Morning Chronicle, 6 Feb., pp. 7-8, and 7 Feb., p. 7, and in The Times, 6 Feb., p. 7, and 7 Feb., p. 8. This unheaded leader is the first of a series (see Nos. 305, 307, 318, 329, 350, 383, 389-90, 392-6, and 400) of leading articles and letters to the editor on cases of injustice and cruelty that Harriet Taylor coauthored with Mill; it is also the first of any of his writings to be described as “a joint production” with her (though she is not named) in his bibliography, where the entry reads: “A leading article on the acquittal of Capt. Johnstone of the ‘[Tory]’ in the Morning Chronicle of 10th February 1846 a joint production—very little of which was mine”
(MacMinn, p. 59).
if the jury who have just acquitted the most atrocious criminal who has been brought to answer for his misdeeds at the bar of a court of justice for many years, had studied how they could bring the administration of justice most effectually into contempt—if they had meant to show what a wretched exhibition of human imbecility jury trial might be made, when carried on by men with neither heart nor intellect, and in whom maudlin weakness and moral poltroonery stand in the place of conscience—they could not have succeeded more completely. A man who has realized almost fabulous atrocities—who has made the metaphorical expression of “killing by inches” a physical fact—who, being placed in authority over a number of men, at a distance from all legal protection, after exhausting ordinary tyrannies, crowned a series of horrors by literally hewing in pieces two human beings, bound and unresisting—this man has been declared “not guilty,” for no other cause whatever but the excess of his guilt, for it is not even pretended that he had shown any marks of insanity, or exhibited any of the characteristics of it, except the crimes which have been proved.
With regard to the wretched culprit himself, we have only now to look to the advisers of the Crown, and trust that he will be treated for the remainder of his life as the most dangerous kind of lunatic, and will not, at the easy price of a temporary confinement, be again let loose upon the world. But there is a lesson to be learnt from this verdict. The state of mind of the jurors is a specimen of the tendency of the humanity-mongering which has succeeded to the reckless brutality of our old laws, and which has brought us to such a pass, that every man is now to be presumed insane as soon as it is fully proved that he is a ruffian.
Burke, long ago, spoke of the “credulous morality” of a certain kind of people, who, when a man acts like a villain, never have the courage to think him one.1 If jurors think every man insane whom they acquit as such, this credulous morality has made wonderful progress. The maxim so well expressed by our contemporary the Times, in an admirable article on Saturday, that “a crime without a motive is no crime at all,”2 might now be inscribed over the door of every court of justice, as the creed of fools and the motto of juries. And a motive must be something which would be a motive to the juryman himself, or to people like himself—people who never framed a thought, had a feeling, or did an act different from everybody else. Time was when it was not thought incredible and miraculous not to be commonplace. But the modern type of civilization has so destroyed even the remembrance, even the idea, of individuality, that to the vulgar everything which shows character is a proof of madness. The conduct of the man Johnstone did show character. It showed a man not exactly like all other people. It showed a ruffian, but it showed a man to whom custom was not the law of his life. This is as much as it is generally necessary to prove before a Commission of Lunacy. If the man had been as much better than other people as he was worse, and had shaped his life by his own inclinations, instead of by the doings and sayings of his neighbours, let the reader ask himself, if any one had an interest in proving him mad, how much chance he would have had of escaping a madhouse in the hands of such a jury?
The only murders which men need now expect to be punished for, are those which are committed for money, or from fear of exposure. These are motives, the reasonableness of which appears to be recognized. These inducements are considered by juries as capable of acting upon a sane man. They are, no doubt, the motives to most of the crimes of the age. The motives of great criminals—the vehement resentment, the bitter revenge, the determined self-will, the superstitious horror, the intense antipathy—are things which jurors have nothing corresponding with in themselves, and cannot recognize when before their eyes.
We have given the jurors the benefit of the supposition most favourable to them—that they are as great fools as they proclaim themselves. We have supposed that they really thought the man insane. If they did not think so, but were influenced by a mawkish dislike to having on their consciences the death of a man who had inflicted so many deaths, what are we to think of them? A morbid feebleness of conscience is in our time so common an accompaniment of other mental feebleness, that the supposition is by no means improbable. In the words of the Times “the contest lies between their judgment and their honour.” We do not add, with our contemporary, “we will not suppose it to be the latter.”3 We leave them to the alternative.
GROTE’S HISTORY OF GREECE 
As early as 1823 George Grote, by then an intimate of James Mill and a friend to his younger contemporary, John, had begun work on what was to become his “opus magnum” (as J.S. Mill called it early in its gestation), the History of Greece, 12 vols. (London: Murray, 1846-56). He laid it aside for a decade after his election as M.P. for the City of London in 1832, but resumed it after leaving the Commons in 1841, and by 1843, having also retired from the family bank, was hard at work on the first two volumes. They appeared in 1846, and ten other volumes appeared at intervals until 1856. Mill, who had followed in manuscript at least the early stages of its composition, reviewed the volumes at various stages in their publication: for the Spectator in 1846 he wrote this notice of the first two volumes, in 1847 one of Vols. III and IV (No. 368), in 1849 two of Vols. V and VI (Nos. 380 and 381), and in 1850 one of Vols. VII and VIII (No. 391). He also wrote two major reviews for the Edinburgh: in 1846, of Vols. I and II; and, in 1853, of Vols. IX-XI. For a discussion of Grote’s History and Mill’s responses to it, see CW, Vol. XI (where the two Edinburgh reviews appear), pp. xxviii-xlv and lxxxvi-lxxxix. Though Mill did not incorporate passages from the Spectator review of April 1846 into the Edinburgh one of October 1846, the two have similar structures, many passages are parallel, and there is considerable overlap in the references. In a letter to Harriet Grote of 1 Apr., 1846, Mill remarks on the length of this article, continuing, “I have taken my extracts from the 2nd vol., which has not yet been quoted, I believe, people not having had time to master it. You will see by the article that I like it very much. I was excessively sorry when I got to the end of it, and am impatient for the next volume.” (EL, CW, Vol. XIII, p. 699.) This review, in the “Spectator’s Library” section, headed as title, is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A notice of the first two volumes of Grote’s History of Greece in the Spectator of 4th April 1846”
(MacMinn, p. 59).
mr. grote’s is the first attempt at a philosophical history of Greece. Much as has been done for history in general by German and French writers, we are not aware that Grecian history (except, indeed, that of Grecian literature and art) owes anything to them save antiquarian researches and dissertations; most valuable, it is true, but only as materials for the historian. Our own country has produced two Histories of Greece, which have obtained a certain share of celebrity; Mitford’s, and Bishop Thirlwall’s.1 But Mitford’s narrative, written and published during the wildest height of Antijacobin phrensy,2 is vitiated by an intensity of prejudice against whatever bears the name or semblance of popular institutions, which renders his representation of Grecian phaenomena not only false, but in many particulars the direct contrary of the truth. Athenian institutions, and the great Athenian people, to whom mankind owe a debt such as they owe to no other assemblage of men that ever existed, are studiously degraded by imputing to them not only the faults they really had, but those from which all the monuments of the time conspire to prove that they were peculiarly and preëminently exempt. On the other hand, every creature, however base, who has the single merit in Mr. Mitford’s eyes of possessing despotic power, holds from him a patent of acquittal from all offences ever charged upon him, by whatever weight of testimony. With Mr. Mitford, a vulgar Asiatic Sultan like Xerxes, an unprincipled usurper and tyrant like Dionysius, are specimens of calumniated innocence, Philip of Macedon a pattern of enlightened and kingly virtue;3 while the characters against whom his vituperation is poured out, are a Pericles, a Timoleon,4 a Demosthenes. Besides being saturated with this spirit, the wretched scholarship of the book would have secured its condemnation in a country like Germany, of real learning, though in this country of merely pretended learning it obtained on this score a high reputation, which has even yet not wholly abandoned it.
Dr. Thirlwall’s performance is the work of a thorough scholar, accurately versed in his subject, and entirely free from the prejudices and biases of Mitford. Many of that writer’s misrepresentations he has, though in general silently and always unostentatiously, rectified; and the work altogether is that of an upright, fair, and perfectly impartial narrator. We mean no disrespect when we say that it is not, in a corresponding degree, the production of a thinker. The character of Dr. Thirlwall’s mind has not led him to speculate much, or with any clear and positive result, on the phaenomena of political society. Even his impartiality seems rather that of a person who has no opinion, than of one who has an unbiased opinion. We do not say that an author is to write history with a purpose of bringing out illustrations of his own moral and political doctrines, however correct they may be. He cannot too carefully guard himself against any such temptation. If he yield to it, he becomes an unfaithful historian. If not led to pervert the history, he is led to exhibit in disproportionate relief some particular features of it. But we do say, that the mere facts, even of the most interesting history, are of little value without some attempt to show how and why they came to pass; that a mere narrative of events, without the causes and agencies which gave them birth—a history of Greece, which does not put in evidence the influences of Grecian institutions and of Grecian opinions and feelings—may be a useful work, but is not the history which we look for, and are entitled to demand.
Mr. Grote, with equal scholarship to Dr. Thirlwall, and a degree of sympathy with the Greek mind, which some, perhaps, might not have expected from him, has aimed at supplying this grand deficiency, and combining with the interest of the facts themselves, that deeper interest which is only excited when the reader is not merely told the facts but made to understand them. And we already need not hesitate to prophesy, that he will produce a work as much superior in value and merit to Dr. Thirlwall’s as his to Mitford’s. A very small portion of the task is yet performed: he has dealt as yet only with the legends of Greece, and the first dawn of its authentic history; where no consecutive stream of narrative is possible, and the main part of the historian’s business must consist of the discussion of evidence. A writer cannot be put to a severer trial. The most attractive graces of historical composition he has in this stage of the work little or no opportunity of displaying, while his power of rendering his subject interesting is more hardly tasked than in any subsequent part of his progress. But Mr. Grote has stood the test. The reader will find that the discussions about historical evidence have an interest he scarcely expects. The reason is, that principles are evolved in them. They are not special pleadings about this, that, or the other fragment of testimony. They involve great questions respecting the credibility of tradition and the origin of historical beliefs; and by implication, many important laws of human intellect, and many leading characteristics of the Greek mind.
In the complete separation which he makes between Legend and History,5 Mr. Grote is of the school of Niebuhr; if that can be called a school which now comprehends all thinkers. But he arrives at similar conclusions by a path of his own. Niebuhr holds that the early stories of Rome are not history, but poetry.6 Mr. Grote holds those of Greece to be not history, but religion as well as poetry. Homer and Hesiod7 were as much the religious books of the early Greeks, and of the general Grecian public down to a late period, as the Puranas are those of the Hindoos, or even as the Mosaic records were of the Jews. The inspiration of the muse was not in those days a commonplace metaphor. The muse was a real goddess, and the poems were her revelations. Even in the times of Herodotus,8 Thucydides, and Plato, they were the acknowledged authorities on all divine things.
Mr. Grote relates the more important legends in considerable detail; those of the gods, as well as those of the heroes and the heroic age. He places them exactly on a par. He no more thinks that the latter had any historical foundation than that the former had. Both rested on the same evidence, that of the poets or bards. Both are blended together in inextricable union. The stories of the heroes are equally supernatural with those of the gods; and equally a part of religion, the gods being not only always mixed up in them, but the heroes themselves being objects of religious worship. Both were believed with equal implicitness by the hearers, and formed together the body of belief in the mind of a Greek, concerning the origin of the world and of himself, and the nature of the divine government. Some of the heroes may be real personages, some of the events recounted may be real events; but the poems not only do not amount to proof of this, they are not even any evidence of it. If, indeed, there were chiefs in those days who left an enduring name behind them, legends were likely to attach themselves to those names. But even then, the facts recounted may have had no more reference to anything which really happened, than the real exploits of Charlemagne had to the events related of him by Archbishop Turpin, whose Chronicle was also accepted as true history, and pronounced to be such by Pope Calixtus II.9 The idea of rejecting everything supernatural and everything extraordinary and romantic in the legends, under the name of poetic ornament, and preserving the dull caput mortuum as a residuum of historical truth, to be believed on no other evidence than we have for the entire story, Mr. Grote shows to have been a fancy of historians and philosophers of a later age—a kind of Rationalists, unwilling or unable altogether to break with the faith of their fathers, though all the more characteristic and impressive facts of it had become repugnant to the altered tone of their minds. Our space prevents us from giving a specimen of the accumulated argument and evidence by which Mr. Grote, we think irresistibly, enforces this conclusion. We would refer especially to the last two chapters of the first volume, and the second chapter of volume second. For centuries, as he remarks, the history of England was supposed to begin with Brute the Trojan, and was continued through a succession of monarchs down to Julius Caesar;10 the very dates of their accessions being fixed by chronologists. Hardying, Fabyan, Grafton, and Hollinshed,11 all the old chroniclers, believed those tales; and jurists argued on them as undoubtedly historical. The evidence for them was similar to that of the Grecian legends, except that they were not protected against gainsayers by connexion with religion. Hector, Priam, and the Atridae, have, in Mr. Grote’s estimation, precisely the same claim to be considered historical characters as Lear and Locrine. Hercules is at once a god like Zeus and a romantic hero like Amadis de Gaul.12
A chapter is devoted to the delineation of the state of society shown in the Homeric and Hesiodic poems. Another relates to the much-agitated subject of the origin of the Homeric poems themselves. Are they, or is either of them, the work of a single author? Was their original state essentially that in which we now find them? Or are they, according to the bold hypothesis of Wolf and his followers, a compilation made in the times of Pisistratus from the ballads of a preceding age?13 Mr. Grote has, we think, completed the overthrow of the Wolfian paradox. His own theory differs much less from the traditional notion of all antiquity: where it does differ, it is at least plausible, and ingeniously and forcibly supported.
Mr. Grote dates the small beginnings of authentic history from the first recorded Olympiad, 776 In recounting it he has yet made small progress; having only been able to include the history of Sparta and the Peloponnesian Dorians, down to the age of Pisistratus and Croesus.14 Of this the most interesting feature is the legislation of Lycurgus,15 the subject of one of his largest and most important chapters.
Mr. Grote does not consider Lycurgus to be, like Numa,16 a fabulous character; though scarcely any facts can be authentically ascertained concerning him. But there is no doubt that the institutions ascribed to him are of great antiquity, considerably anterior to the first Olympiad; and that they were believed to have been established by one man, on whom the Lacedaemonians conferred the power of legislation, to rescue them from a previous state of intolerable disorder. The institutions lasted in considerable vigour for several centuries, and were the cause of the power and eminence which Sparta attained. Even, however, with such a fact as this, the mythic element is strikingly blended. The tale, which has been universally received on the authority of Plutarch, that Lycurgus redivided the land into equal portions,17 —or, indeed, that equality of property was part of the institutions of Lacedaemon at any time,—Mr. Grote cannot find any early authority for; it is inconsistent with the testimony we have from Aristotle,18 and other writers of the best age of Greece; and Mr. Grote believes it to date no higher than the time of Agis and Cleomenes,19 after the Lycurgean institutions had virtually ceased to exist. We quote, as an exposition of the author’s ideas and a specimen of his style, a part of his observations on this point.
The present is not the occasion to enter at length into that combination of causes which partly sapped, partly overthrew, both the institutions of Lycurgus and the power of Sparta; but, taking the condition of that city as it stood in the time of Agis III (say about 250 ), we know that its citizens had become few in number, the bulk of them miserably poor, and all the land in a small number of hands—the old discipline and the public mess (as far as the rich were concerned) degenerated into mere forms—a numerous body of strangers or non-citizens (the old xenêlasy, or prohibition of resident strangers, being long discontinued) domiciled in the town, and forming a powerful moneyed interest; and lastly, the dignity and ascendency of the state amongst its neighbours altogether ruined. It was unsupportable to a young enthusiast like King Agis, and to many ardent spirits among his contemporaries, to contrast this degradation with the previous glories of their country; and they saw no other way of reconstructing the old Sparta except by again admitting the disfranchised poor citizens, redividing the lands, cancelling all debts, and restoring the public mess and military training in all their strictness. Agis endeavoured to carry through these subversive measures, (such as no demagogue in the extreme democracy of Athens would ever have ventured to glance at,) with the consent of the senate and public assembly, and the acquiescence of the rich. His sincerity is attested by the fact, that his own property, and that of his female relatives, among the largest in the state, was cast as the first sacrifice into the common stock. But he became the dupe of unprincipled coadjutors, and perished in the unavailing attempt to realize his scheme by persuasion. His successor Kleomenês afterwards accomplished by violence a change substantially similar, though the intervention of foreign arms speedily overthrew both himself and his institutions.
Now it was under the state of public feeling which gave birth to these projects of Agis and Kleomenês at Sparta, that the historic fancy, unknown to Aristotle and his predecessors, first gained ground, of the absolute equality of property as a primitive institution of Lycurgus. How much such a belief would favour the schemes of innovation, is too obvious to require notice; and, without supposing any deliberate imposture, we cannot be astonished that the predispositions of enthusiastic patriots interpreted according to their own partialities an old unrecorded legislation from which they were separated by more than five centuries. The Lycurgean discipline tended forcibly to suggest to men’s minds the idea of equality among the citizens,—that is, the negation of inequality not founded on some personal attribute—inasmuch as it assimilated the habits, enjoyments, and capacities of the rich to those of the poor; and the equality thus existing in idea and tendency, which seemed to proclaim the wish of the founder, was strained by the later reformers into a positive institution which he had at first realized, but from which his degenerate followers had receded. It was thus that the fancies, longings, and indirect suggestions of the present assumed the character of recollections out of the early, obscure, and extinct historical past. Perhaps the philosopher Sphaerus20 of Borysthenês, (the friend and companion of Kleomenês and the disciple of Zeno the Stoic,) author of works now lost both on Lycurgus and Socrates and on the constitution of Sparta, may have been one of those who gave currency to such an hypothesis; and we shall readily believe that, if advanced, it would find easy and sincere credence, when we recollect how many similar delusions have obtained vogue in modern times far more favourable to historical accuracy—how much false colouring has been attached by the political feeling of recent days to matters of ancient history, such as the Saxon Wittenagemote, the Great Charter, the rise and growth of the English House of Commons, or even the Poor-law of Elizabeth.
[Vol. II, pp. 527-30.]
The real peculiarity of the Spartan institutions was not equality of property, but the equal subjection of rich and poor to the most rigidly ascetic form of the discipline of a camp. And the Spartan character was the joint product of this rigid discipline and of the peculiar position of the Spartan community, encamped as it were in the midst of a numerous body of Helots, who (unlike the purchased slaves of other Grecian states) were Greeks, and warlike as themselves; and from whom their supremacy and safety were always in imminent danger. These things, and many others not less interesting, are amply set forth in this excellent chapter; of which it is saying little to affirm, that it places the Spartan constitution and the general physiognomy of the Lacedaemonian community in a clearer light than they ever were placed in before.
The chapter on “the Hellenic People generally, in the early historical times,” is also of great interest [Pt. II, Chap. ii; Vol. II, pp. 311-56]: but we prefer quoting the observations on the influence of the geographical characteristics of Greece upon its history.
The configuration of the Grecian territory, so like in many respects to that of Switzerland, produced two effects of great moment upon the character and history of the people. In the first place, it materially strengthened their powers of defence: it shut up the country against those invasions from the interior which successively subjugated all their continental colonies; and it at the same time rendered each fraction more difficult to be attacked by the rest, so as to exercise a certain conservative influence in assuring the tenure of actual possessors: for the pass of Thermopylae between Thessaly and Phocis, that of Kithaerôn between Boeotia and Attica, or the mountainous range of Oneion and Geraneia along the Isthmus of Corinth, were positions which an inferior number of brave men could hold against a much greater force of assailants. But, in the next place, while it tended to protect each section of Greeks from being conquered, it also kept them politically disunited and perpetuated their separate autonomy. It fostered that powerful principle of repulsion, which disposed even the smallest township to constitute itself a political unit apart from the rest, and to resist all idea of coalescence with others, either amicable or compulsory. To a modern reader, accustomed to large political aggregations, and securities for good government through the representative system, it requires a certain mental effort to transport himself back to a time when even the smallest town clung so tenaciously to its right of self-legislation. Nevertheless such was the general habit and feeling of the ancient world, throughout Italy, Sicily, Spain, and Gaul: among the Hellenes it stands out more conspicuously, for several reasons—first, because they seem to have pushed the multiplication of autonomous units to an extreme point, seeing that even islands not larger than Peparêthos and Amorgos had two or three separate city communities; secondly, because they produced, for the first time in the history of mankind, acute systematic thinkers on matters of government, amongst all of whom the idea of the autonomous city was accepted as the indispensable basis of political speculation; thirdly, because this incurable subdivision proved finally the cause of their ruin, in spite of pronounced intellectual superiority over their conquerors; and lastly, because incapacity of political coalescence did not preclude a powerful and extensive sympathy between the inhabitants of all the separate cities, with a constant tendency to fraternise for numerous purposes, social, religious, recreative, intellectual, and aesthetical. For these reasons, the indefinite multiplication of self-governing towns, though in truth a phaenomenon common to ancient Europe as contrasted with the large monarchies of Asia, appears more marked among the ancient Greeks than elsewhere: and there cannot be any doubt that they owe it, in a considerable degree, to the multitude of insulating boundaries which the configuration of their country presented.
Nor is it rash to suppose that the same causes may have tended to promote that unborrowed intellectual development for which they stand so conspicuous. General propositions respecting the working of climate and physical agencies upon character are indeed treacherous; for our knowledge of the globe is now sufficient to teach us that heat and cold, mountain and plain, sea and land, moist and dry atmosphere, are all consistent with the greatest diversities of resident men: moreover, the contrast between the population of Greece itself, for the seven centuries preceding the Christian aera, and the Greeks of more modern times, is alone enough to inculcate reserve in such speculations. Nevertheless, we may venture to note certain improving influences, connected with their geographical position, at a time when they had no books to study, and no more advanced predecessors to imitate. We may remark, first, that their position made them at once mountaineers and mariners, thus supplying them with great variety of objects, sensations, and adventures; next, that each petty community, nestled apart amidst its own rocks, was sufficiently severed from the rest to possess an individual life and attributes of its own, yet not so far as to subtract it from the sympathies of the remainder; so that an observant Greek, commercing with a great diversity of half-countrymen, whose language he understood, and whose idiosyncracies he could appreciate, had access to a larger mass of social and political experience than any other man in so unadvanced an age could personally obtain. The Phoenician, superior to the Greek on ship-board, traversed wider distances and saw a greater number of strangers, but he had not the same means of intimate communion with a multiplicity of fellows in blood and language: his relations, confined to purchase and sale, did not comprise that mutuality of action and reaction which pervaded the crowd at a Grecian festival. The scene which here presented itself was a mixture of uniformity and variety highly stimulating to the observant faculties of a man of genius,—who at the same time, if he sought to communicate his own impressions, or to act upon this mingled and diverse audience, was forced to shake off what was peculiar to his own town or community, and to put forth matter in harmony with the feelings of all. It is thus that we may explain in part that penetrating apprehension of human life and character, and that power of touching sympathies common to all ages and nations, which surprises us so much in the unlettered authors of the old epic. Such periodical intercommunion of brethren habitually isolated from each other, was the only means then open of procuring for the bard a diversified range of experience and a many-coloured audience; and it was to a great degree the result of geographical causes. Perhaps among other nations such facilitating causes might have been found, yet without producing any result comparable to the Iliad and Odyssey; but Homer was nevertheless dependent upon the conditions of his age, and we can at least point out those peculiarities in early Grecian society without which Homeric excellence would never have existed,—the geographical position is one, the language another.
[Vol. II, pp. 298-302.]
Mr. Grote expects to complete the History in eight volumes; of which the third, and perhaps the fourth, will appear in the course of the next winter.
DR. ELLIS’S CONVICTION
As Mill indicates in his opening sentence, the Morning Chronicle had published on 6 June, 1846, p. 7, a report of the coroner’s inquest on 5 June into the death of Richard Dresser, an accountant, aged forty-five, after treatment by James Ellis (ca. 1802-81), a practitioner of hydrotherapy. On 9 June a verdict of manslaughter was returned against Ellis (Morning Chronicle, 10 June, p. 5), but when tried on 20 June at the Central Criminal Court he was acquitted (Morning Chronicle and The Times, both 22 June, p. 7). This unheaded leader is the second of those on injustice and cruelty written by Harriet Taylor and Mill (see No. 303). It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A leading article on a verdict of manslaughter against a hydropathic practitioner in the Morning Chronicle of 13th June 1846, very little of this was mine”
(MacMinn, p. 59).
our paper, a day or two since, contained a report of proceedings before a coroner’s jury, terminating in a verdict of manslaughter against Dr. Ellis, the superintendent of the Hydropathic establishment at Sudbroke Park, Petersham, on account of the death of a patient, a Mr. Richard Dresser, who died on Tuesday, having been under the care of Dr. Ellis since the preceding Friday.
The case, in consequence of this verdict, will necessarily undergo investigation before a criminal tribunal; but to be put upon trial, even if acquitted, is so serious an injury and grievance to an innocent person, that it is worthy of deliberate consideration, both how far medical practitioners ought to be subject to such responsibility, and whether it has been judiciously applied to a case like the present.
The jury, of twelve, we dare say, respectable petty tradesmen, but not likely to be very enlightened critics of medical skill, have by this verdict pronounced a solemn opinion on two grave and difficult medical questions. They have decided that the patient died in consequence of Dr. Ellis’s treatment, and that the error committed—assuming it to be an error—was of so culpable a kind as to constitute, in the eye of the law, a punishable offence.
They did not, of course, adopt these serious conclusions on their own knowledge, but on the faith of medical evidence. The professional witnesses in the case were two surgeons practising in partnership in the Kent-road—a circumstance not inconsistent with consummate medical skill, but which assuredly affords no guarantee of it.1 These surgeons had examined the body after death, by the desire of the family, but without the knowledge or presence, so far as appeared, of Dr. Ellis, or of any one in his behalf. We hope, however, that it is still in his power to cause a re-examination of a more public kind, if he judges it desirable. Dr. Ellis, not having examined the body, gave as his opinion that the death was occasioned by diseased liver. The surgeons, after examination, say that the liver was not diseased. They do not agree with each other on all points, one thinking the liver congested, while the other “hardly ever saw a healthier liver in his life.”2 They both say, however, that the heart and lungs were congested, that they could find no other cause of death, and that this excessive congestion must have been produced by the very mild application of tepid (for it was not even cold) water which appears to have been used. They say besides, that if the liver had been diseased, the hydropathic treatment would have been extremely inappropriate; in which Dr. Ellis concurs, since he said that if he had known the liver to be affected he would not have received the patient. The only ailment which the deceased complained of was rheumatism, or sciatica. An extraordinary circumstance is, that on the showing of the two surgeons there was nothing to account for death from so slight a cause. They were asked no questions about the patient’s previous state of health; though one of them said that he had known and attended him for years. The only fact they stated was, that the action of the heart was feeble. But a feeble action of the heart is not enough to make a man die of suffocation from being fomented with tepid water. A man whom that would kill must have been at death’s door first. Was it so unpardonable an oversight in Dr. Ellis not to suspect such a condition in a man who complained of nothing worse than rheumatic pains? It must be remembered, too, that these professional men (we mean it not as an imputation, but as a presumption, which justice requires to be taken into account) were in all human probability strongly prepossessed both against the irregular practice, and against the irregular practitioner; a sentiment, which the patient having quitted their care to place himself under that of Dr. Ellis, was nowise calculated to mollify.
It is by no means a clear case, that in a free country medical men should ever be criminally responsible for the consequences of bonâ fide treatment; or that a person of full age and reasonable understanding, who, with his eyes open, places himself under the care of a practitioner, should not do it at his own risk. It is a question on both sides of which much still remains to be said. But there are weighty reasons to be urged for the responsibility in some other cases, which cannot be applicable to this. A quack may pretend to be acquainted with the whole medical art, and competent to apply all its expedients, each in its proper place. But Dr. Ellis and his compeers profess nothing but hydropathy, practice nothing but hydropathy, do not pretend to judge of anything but hydropathy. Whoever submits himself to them does so because he believes in hydropathy. He knows what he is about, and acts not from faith in the doctor, but from faith in the treatment itself, and in its applicability to his case; and neither is hydropathy a thing of palpable fraud, the bare profession of which can be treated as an attempt to deceive. In its immense pretensions, or in those which have sometimes been made for it, we place no credence whatever; but its occasional efficacy is admitted by all, and the most scientific physicians often advise patients, in obstinate cases, to place themselves in one of these very establishments. All depends on judging rightly of the cases to which it is suited, and in that the most instructed physician may err, as well as the most ignorant.
The law of the case was fairly enough laid down by the coroner. He said that the jury had nothing to do with Dr. Ellis’s being or not being a regularly licensed practitioner; that they had only to consider if there was proof of gross negligence or incompetence.3 But if thinking that a person has a liver complaint when he has not, is negligence or ignorance, deserving the penalties of manslaughter; thinking that a lady, whose lamentable case ought never to be forgotten, had not a liver complaint, when she was dying of it, does not seem to fall far short of the same criminality. Yet that was the mistake of one of the most instructed and really ablest men in the medical profession.4
The diagnostics of liver disease are proverbially uncertain; to say nothing of the general uncertainty and almost infant state of the medical art. And shall twelve Surrey tradesmen rush in where the best and most acknowledged authorities tread unsafely? Is it for them to take upon themselves the right of punishing the practitioners of the most fallible of all useful arts for not being infallible?
[1 ]For an early use of the term, see Charles Watkin Williams Wynn (1775-1850), lawyer and M.P. for Montgomeryshire, Speech on Irish Church Property (13 May 1833), PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 17, col. 1156.
[2 ]For nearly a hundred years, the sovereignty of the Isle of Man held by the Dukes of Atholl, of the Scottish house of Murray, had been the source of much friction with the British Government, even though the reign of the Atholls over the Island had been officially terminated in 1765. As late as 1814 the then Duke of Atholl appointed his nephew, George Murray, Bishop of Sodor and Man.
[3 ]Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, 8th ed., 3 vols. (London: Strahan, 1796), Vol. II, p. 85 (Bk. III, Chap. ii), drawing on Blackstone, Commentaries, Vol. II, p. 174.
[4 ]Peel’s An Address to the Electors of the Borough of Tamworth (London: Roake and Varty, 1834), commonly known as the “Tamworth Manifesto,” outlining the principles of the new, liberal Conservative party, was delivered on his accession to office and published on 18 Dec., 1834. The Duke of Wellington’s letter of 11 Dec., 1828, intended to be private, but published in The Times (26 Dec., 1828, p. 2), and stating that, although he believed a solution to the Catholic question should be found, the time was not yet, was followed within months by the proposing of Catholic Emancipation by the Duke’s Government. For the private letter of 4 Dec., 1828, of Patrick Curtis (1740-1832), Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, and the Duke’s reply, see Despatches, Correspondence, and Memoranda of Field Marshall Arthur Duke of Wellington, ed. by his son, 8 vols. (London: Murray, 1867-80), Vol. V, pp. 308 and 326.
[5 ]Stanley had refused Peel’s offer to join the Ministry, but had agreed to support him in the Commons.
[6 ]The phrase (in the form ex mero motu, “of his own will”) was first used for grants of land under 4 Henry IV, c. 4 (1402).
[7 ]Edmund Burke, Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents, Works, Vol. I, pp. 447, 491-2. The preceding quotation, attributed by Senior to Louis XV, has not been located.
[8 ]William IV had summoned Wellington from his Berkshire estate on 15 Nov. to offer him the Premiership.
[9 ]John George Lambton (1792-1840), 1st Earl of Durham, a leader of the Radical Whigs.
[1 ]In his Autobiography, writing of his boyhood, Mill says that he did not care for any of Dryden’s poems except Alexander’s Feast, “which, as well as many of the songs in Walter Scott, I used to sing internally, to a music of my own: to some of the latter indeed I went so far as to compose airs, which I still remember” (CW, Vol. I, pp. 19-21).
[2 ]W.J. Fox.
[1 ]The origins of both terms are obscure. Whig is probably a shortening of whiggamer or whiggamore, which in the late seventeenth century became associated with those who supported the Settlement of 1688 and the Hanoverian succession. Tory is probably from an Irish word for “a pursued or persecuted person,” hence an “outlaw,” and by extension a supporter of the Stuarts.
[2 ]Ferdinand Alvarez de Toledo (1508-82), Duke of Alva (or Alba), Spanish general and statesman, had conquered the Netherlands.
[3 ]In the late eighteenth century the word began to be applied to those favouring fundamental political reforms.
[4 ]For the origin of the term, see No. 216, n25.
[5 ]The immediate cause of this article would appear to be the leader on “The Destructive Party,” in The Times of 1 Jan., 1835, p. 2, but Mill seems also to have in mind the leaders of 12 and 26 Dec., 1834 (p. 2 in each case), especially the former. The phrase “equitable adjustment” is Cobbett’s; see No. 203, n1.
[6 ]Standard, 2 Jan., p. 2, and 5 Jan., p. 4.
[1 ]Leading article on unity among the Reformers, Morning Chronicle, 2 Jan., 1835, p. 2. The reference may be thought to imply that the leader was by Mill, and there are some resemblances (including one long passage quoted from Senior) between it and his review of Senior in the Sun on 3 Jan. (No. 272), but it is not listed in his bibliography.
[2 ]Henry George Ward (1797-1860), advanced liberal politician, M.P. for St. Albans from 1832. His famous resolution, later moved annually, was first presented on 27 May, 1834: “That the protestant episcopal establishment in Ireland exceeds the spiritual wants of the protestant population; and that (it being the right of the State to regulate the distribution of church property in such a manner as parliament may determine), it is the opinion of this House that the temporal possessions of the Church of Ireland, as now established by law, ought to be reduced” (PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 23, col. 1396; quoted by Senior, pp. 34-5).
[3 ]Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, II, ii, 118; in The Riverside Shakespeare, p. 561.
[4 ]For the origin of the term, see No. 272, n6.
[5 ]Leading article on party names, Standard, 12 Jan., 1835, p. 2.
[6 ]Senior’s italics.
[7 ]Peel, An Address to the Electors of the Borough of Tamworth, p. 8.
[8 ]William Wyndham Grenville (1759-1834), Baron Grenville, long a prominent government official, head of the Ministry of “All the Talents” (1806-07), a supporter of the Sinking Fund from its establishment in 1786, published in 1828 an Essay on the Supposed Advantages of a Sinking Fund, in which he reversed his previous position.
[1 ]For comments on corruption during the elections (which were held during January), see The Times, 13 Jan., p. 6, 19 Jan., p. 4, 21 Jan., p. 2, 23 Jan., p. 2, and 28 Jan., p. 4.
[2 ]Burke, “Speech on American Taxation” (19 Apr., 1774), Works, Vol. I, p. 575.
[3 ]Buller’s propositions are not in PD, but are in Journals of the House of Commons, LXXXIX (1834), 10 (5 Feb., 1834).
[1 ]For details, see No. 220, n7.
[2 ]For details, see No. 220.
[1 ]PP, 1834, XXXIX, 3.
[2 ]See, e.g., Senior’s A Letter to Lord Howick, on a Legal Provision for the Irish Poor (London: Murray, 1831).
[* ]The government of Wirtemburg deserves a similar praise.
[3 ]David Richard Morier (1784-1877), diplomat, Minister Plenipotentiary at Berne to the Swiss Confederated States 1832-47. See Senior, pp. 76-84.
[4 ]“Poor Laws, British and Foreign, from Senior’s Statement of Provisions for the Poor, etc.,” Globe and Traveller, 22 June, 1835, pp. 1-2.
[5 ]Senior, Statement, pp. 109-17 (Holland) and 148-54 (Belgium). The Société de Bienfaisance, after the famines of 1816 and 1817, founded poor colonies on the heaths of Holland, raising money by subscription to pay the initial expenses; in 1823 the same society founded similar colonies in Belgium.
[1 ]For their names, see No. 265, n2.
[2 ]See No. 239.
[3 ]By Sect. 5 of 4 & 5 William IV, c. 76 (1834), the Poor Law Act.
[4 ]13 & 14 Charles II, c. 12 (1662).
[5 ]“Poor Law Report—Union of Parishes,” Globe and Traveller, 9 Sept., 1835, p. 3.
[6 ]For their names, see No. 265, n3.
[1 ]Globe and Traveller, 1 Oct., p. 2.
[2 ]Ibid., 7 Oct., p. 2.
[1 ]In a leader on the same page as Mill’s letter, the Globe and Traveller mentions the “second letter from our respected correspondent ‘A,’ ” but implies merely that it is continuing in its views, without attempting to controvert Mill’s.
[2 ]That the Globe and Traveller’s plan was intended for general consideration is implied in its leader of 29 Sept., and emphasized in those of 8 and 9 Oct.
[1 ]Joseph Jacotot (1770-1840), French mathematician and pedagogue; his views on the virtues of repetition, constant questioning, and discovery of facts found, for example, in his Enseignement universel, langue maternelle (Dijon: Lagier, 1823), were exposited in Joseph Payne, A Compendious Exposition of the Principles and Practices of Professor Jacotot’s Celebrated System of Education (1830).
[1 ]Taken from the heading of the Contents page.
[2 ]Including Facts Relating to the Punishment of Death in the Metropolis (London: Ridgway, 1831) and The Hangman and the Judge (London: Wilson, ).
[3 ]It was published anonymously by Bentley in 1833.
[4 ]See, e.g., p. vi; the idea is developed passim.
[5 ]See, e.g., Wakefield’s Sketch of a Proposal for Colonizing Australasia, p. 15. The scheme was enacted in 4 & 5 William IV, c. 95 (1834).
[6 ]Extracted from England and America, Vol. I, pp. 82-105.
[7 ]Ibid., Vol. II, pp. 84-95.
[8 ]Pp. 97-103; extracted from Facts Relating to the Punishment of Death, pp. 158-66.
[9 ]Pp. 2-8; extracted from England and America, Vol. I, pp. 48-54, where it is presented as quoted from “one of the countless pamphlets on pauperism lately written by Englishmen,” in fact, from Wakefield’s own Swing Unmasked (London: Wilson, 1831), pp. 9-15.
[10 ]“Cause of Gin-Palaces,” pp. 8-14.
[11 ]See Extracts from the Information Received by His Majesty’s Commissioners, as to the Administration and Operation of the Poor-Laws, pp. 321-4.
[12 ]The eight fragments beginning “The Working Classes in Our Fathers’ Time” and ending “Extension of the Suffrage,” which appear on pp. 54-78 of Popular Politics, are taken (with gaps) from England and America, Vol. I, pp. 150-91, where they appear in Note V (Wakefield uses “Note” rather than “Chapter”), “Political Prospects of the English,” which in full runs from p. 135 to p. 208.
[13 ]“Reception of the Reform Bill,” pp. 70-1 (extracted from England and America, Vol. I, pp. 175-6); Wakefield identifies in a footnote the rich Whig as John Smith (1767-1842), London banker, M.P. for Buckinghamshire, who made the remark in his speech of 4 Mar., 1831 (PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 3, cols. 33-5). For Russell’s speech of 1 Mar., introducing the Reform Bill, see ibid., Vol. 2, cols. 1061-89. For such Conservative reactions as Wakefield describes, see the speeches on 2 Mar. by William David Murray (1806-98), later Earl of Mansfield, and by John Walsh (1798-1881), ibid., cols. 1182-87 and 1187-90, respectively, for the reaction of an “enemy of the Constitution” who thought the Bill a good first step, see the speech of 2 Mar. by Joseph Hume, ibid., cols. 1156-60.
[1 ]Fonblanque, “The Government and the Peers,” Examiner, 15 June, 1834, p. 369.
[2 ]Edward Gibbon Wakefield.
[3 ]One of Mill’s favourite tags, from Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part II, III, i, 29; in The Riverside Shakespeare, p. 902.
[4 ]Ward, The First Step to a Poor Law for Ireland (London: Ridgway, 1837), p. 8.
[5 ]“Report from the Select Committee on the Disposal of Lands in the British Colonies” (1 Aug., 1836), PP, 1836, XI, 499-765 (q.v. for the Committee members).
[1 ]For news that the crisis was passing, see “American Affairs,” The Times, 24 Apr., 1837, p. 3, and a leading article on the subject, ibid., p. 4.
[2 ]Jackson had refused to renew the Bank’s charter in 1832, and in 1833 had transferred federal funds to local banks.
[1 ]John Frederick William Herschel (whose Preliminary Discourse was reviewed by Mill in No. 94) and his father William (1738-1822), born in Hanover, whose astronomical researches at Bath with his sister Caroline Lucretia (1750-1848) led to his appointment as Astronomer Royal in 1782. Nichol refers to the Herschels throughout Views of the Architecture of the Heavens, and especially in Letter IV, pp. 63-114.
[1 ]See, e.g., Henry George Grey, Speech on the Ballot (2 June, 1835), PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 28, cols. 425-9.
[2 ]On 20 June, 1837, Queen Victoria (1819-1901) succeeded to the throne on the death of her uncle, William IV.
[3 ]On 20 Nov., following the Queen’s first Address from the Throne, Russell set himself against further reforms (PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 39, cols. 65-73), thus earning the nickname “Finality Jack.”
[4 ]For the notion, see Anon., Domestic Prospects of the Country under the New Parliament (London: Ridgway, 1837), p. 41, quoted by Mill in “Parties and the Ministry” (Oct. 1837), CW, Vol. VI, p. 388; the notion was attacked in “Tory Facts,” Examiner, 3 Sept., 1837, p. 563.
[5 ]Cf. Grey’s speech of 3 Oct., 1831, col. 936.
[1 ]“Lord Durham and His Assailants,” p. 510; in CW, Vol. VI, p. 442.
[1 ]The latest corn law was still 9 George IV, c. 60 (1828).
[2 ]Proverbs, 11:26.
[3 ]The plan to revise import duties was announced on 30 Apr., 1841, in a speech on the budget by Francis Thornhill Baring (1796-1866), Chancellor of the Exchequer (PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 57, cols. 1304-8), and the intention was confirmed by Russell on 7 May (ibid., Vol. 58, col. 16). However, having lost their majority, the Whigs abandoned the measure on 7 June (ibid., cols. 1260-6), and it was left to Peel to bring in “A Bill to Amend the Laws for the Importation of Corn” (4 Mar., 1842), PP, 1842, I, 563-89, enacted as 5 & 6 Victoria, Sess. 2, c. 14 (1842).
[1 ]The elections ended on 12 July, giving the Conservatives under Peel a majority.
[2 ]The firm of Murray, in its famous offices at 50 Albemarle Street, publisher of the Tory Quarterly Review, was headed by John Murray (1778-1843), assisted in these years by his son, the second John Murray (1808-92).
[3 ]The Age of Bronze; or, Carmen seculare et annus haud mirabilis (London: Hunt, 1823), by George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824), the Romantic poet rarely praised by Mill.
[4 ]Of Stulz, Wain & Co., tailors, 10 Clifford St., Bond St., London.
[5 ]George Crabbe (1754-1832), English poet noted for narrative power and character evocation.
[6 ]I.e., subscribed to the Thirty-nine Articles, based on the forty-two largely drafted by Archbishop Cranmer in 1553.
[7 ]Those of Tory views were fond of the cycle of poems, The Christian Year, 2 vols. (Oxford: Parker, 1827), by John Keble, one of the “Oxford Theologians” (see No. 291), and favoured the Morning Post, the long-established fashionable conservative paper.
[1 ]“Miso-Jesuit,” “Anti-Puseyism—Letter II,” Morning Chronicle, 30 Dec., 1841, p. 3.
[2 ]See, e.g., the leading article of 3 Dec., p. 2.
[3 ]I.e., the Thirty-nine Articles.
[4 ]Martin Luther (1483-1546), German father of Protestantism, was excommunicated from the Catholic Church in 1520 by a Bull of Pope Leo X that Luther publicly burned.
[5 ]Charles James Blomfield had tutored the sons of aristocrats before becoming Bishop of Chester in 1824, and had shown political and social skills before his elevation as Bishop of London in 1828. Henry Phillpotts (1778-1869) was notorious for his reversal of long-standing anti-Catholic and Tory opinions in supporting Peel on the Catholic Relief Bill of 1829, after which he became Bishop of Exeter.
[6 ]Mill presumably has in mind the historical analysis in The Church of the Fathers (London: Rivington, 1840), and such other of Newman’s works as The Arians of the Fourth Century (ibid., 1833), Lectures on the Prophetical Office of the Church (ibid., 1837), and Remarks on Certain Passages in the Thirty-Nine Articles, No. 90 of Tracts for the Times (ibid., 1841).
[7 ]“Philo-Puseyite,” “On the Oxford Professorship of Poetry—Letter II,” Morning Chronicle, 24 Dec., p. 3.
[8 ]See the “General Rubric” in the Book of Common Prayer.
[1 ]Leading article, Morning Chronicle, 5 Jan., 1842, p. 2.
[2 ]By 27 Henry VIII, c. 20 (1535), and 32 Henry VIII, c. 7 (1540).
[3 ]Following the Act of Supremacy in 1534, Henry VIII (1491-1547, ruler from 1509) dissolved the monasteries and confiscated their properties.
[4 ]For Mill’s already expressed views on the issue, see his “Corporation and Church Property” (1833), CW, Vol. IV, pp. 193-222.
[5 ]I.e., as in a theocratic state, with the head of the church in the royal palace (St. James’s), and his council in the legislature (St. Stephen’s).
[6 ]This tightly compressed history of the struggle for dominance between Church and State runs from the establishment of ecclesiastical authority by Hildebrand (ca. 1020-85), Pope Gregory VII, who triumphed over the Emperor Henry IV, through Thomas à Becket (ca. 1118-70), Chancellor of England and then Archbishop of Canterbury, who quarreled with Henry II over the church’s authority and was murdered, with a glancing reference to the Protestant reformers Luther and John Knox (ca. 1513-72), on to Philippe IV (le Bel) of France (1268-1314), whose envoy, Guillaume de Nogaret (d. 1303), seized and imprisoned Pope Boniface VIII (ca. 1235-1303) at Anagni in 1303, just before Boniface could excommunicate Philippe who set up Clement V as the first Pope in Avignon in 1309, and instigated, with Clement’s compliance, the inquisition against the Knights Templar in 1310-11.
[* ]The Election, a poem recently published. [Sterling’s poem, these lines of which appear on p. 68, is reviewed in No. 290.]
[7 ]Mill’s prediction was fulfilled when the Oxford Professorship of Poetry later in 1842 went to James Garbett (1802-79), who held the chair for ten years. The defeated Puseyite candidate was Isaac Williams (1802-65), poet and theologian, author of Tract 80.
[8 ]The account in the Morning Chronicle of 5 Jan. was not “such an old nurse’s tale” as Mill says, though the Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury was not involved. A conference was held at Hadleigh, Surrey, on 25-29 July, 1833, where Hugh James Rose was Vicar, at the instigation of Rose, Arthur Philip Perceval (a Royal Chaplain), and William Palmer. Other participants were R.C. Trench (then Rose’s curate) and Hurrell Froude. The conference was in response to the encroachment on the Church begun by the repeal in 1828 of the Test and Corporation Acts (9 George IV, c. 17), continued by the Catholic emancipation of 1829 (10 George IV, c. 7), and culminating, for the group, in the suppression of the Irish bishoprics by 3 & 4 William IV, c. 37 (1833).
[9 ]No more letters by Mill on this subject appeared, though the Morning Chronicle replied to this letter in a leader on 13 Jan., p. 2, and made further attacks on the Puseyites in second-page leaders on 18 and 29 Jan.
[1 ]The “Report” arose out of the Fourth and Fifth Annual Reports of the Poor Law Commissioners (App. A, No. 1, PP, 1838, XXVIII, 210-44, and App. C, No. 2, PP, 1839, XX, 100-6). The Commissioners then were George Nicholls, George Cornewall Lewis, and Edmund Walker Head.
[2 ]“First Report of the Children’s Employment Commission (Mines),” PP, 1842, XV, 1-281.
[3 ]Demosthenes, “First Philippic,” Sect. 2, in Olynthiacs, Philippics, Minor Public Speeches, Speech against Leptines (Greek and English), trans. J.H. Vince (London: Heinemann, 1962), p. 68.
[4 ]See Shakespeare, As You Like It, II, vii, 139-66; in The Riverside Shakespeare, pp. 381-2.
[5 ]A term introduced by Bentham to whom Chadwick had been an amanuensis; see, e.g., An Introductory View of the Rationale of Evidence, in Works, Vol. VI, p. 60.
[* ]It is the practice in Geneva for female servants to delay marriage until they have saved enough to furnish a house, &c. In illustration of this state of things it is stated that in 290 out of 956 marriages, the female was at the time of marriage older than the male. With further advances in prosperity, it is anticipated that age of marriage would again diminish. [Chadwick’s note, based on Mallet, pp. 83-4.]
[† ]“Out of 100 deaths in the 16th century, 25.92 were children in their first year; in the 17th century, 23.72; in the 18th century, 20.12; in 1801-13, they were 16.57; and in 1814-33, they were 13.85.” [Mallet, p. 114.] In Liverpool, the number of children which in the year 1840 died under one year of age was no less than 23 per cent., or what it was in Geneva in the 17th century. In the county of Wilts, where the proportionate mortality is 1 in 58, the deaths of children in the first year were 16 per cent. Dr. Griffin, in a report on the sanitary condition of the population of Limerick, where the births appear to bear such proportions to the marriages as they appear to have borne in Geneva in the earliest periods, namely, of five children to a marriage, and more in the worst-conditioned districts, makes an important observation on the subject: “I find that as the poor nurse their own children, there is in general an interval of about two years between the birth of one child and that of the next; but if the child dies early on the breast, this interval will be much shorter; and if this occurs often, there will be a certain number born as it were for the purpose of dying; and these being soon replaced, the same number may still be preserved as if there had been few or no deaths, or only the ordinary number.” Of these 55 per cent. died. [Chadwick’s note, the concluding reference being to p. 16 of An Enquiry into the Mortality Occurring among the Poor of the City of Limerick (n.p., 1840), by Daniel Griffin (ca. 1801-63), physician and author.]
[8 ]Mallet, p. 105.
[9 ]Ibid., p. 167.
[10 ]Ibid., p. 88.
[11 ]Ibid., p. 137n.
[1 ]John Dryden (1631-1700), King Arthur; or, The British Worthy (London: Tonson, 1691), p. 19 (II, ii); cf. No. 98, n1.
[2 ]Peel, who had become Prime Minister in August 1841, had charge of Foreign Affairs in the House of Commons.
[3 ]See Cicero, De officiis (Latin and English), trans. Walter Miller (London: Heinemann, 1961), p. 34 (I, x, 33).
[4 ]“Report of the British Commissioners Appointed to Survey the Territory in Dispute, between Great Britain and the United States of America, on the North-Eastern Boundary of the United States” (16 Apr., 1840), Sessional Papers of the House of Lords, 1840, X, 545-639. The Commissioners (appointed in 1839) were George William Featherstonhaugh (1780-1866), British-born geologist, for years resident in the United States, who is usually cited as author of the Report, and Richard Zachariah Mudge (1790-1854), a Royal Engineer who worked on the ordnance survey.
[5 ]John Tyler (1790-1862), 10th President of the United States, 1841-45.
[6 ]To clarify the vague terms of what Mill calls the “absurd” Treaty of Versailles (1783), a Treaty of Arbitration was signed on 29 Sept., 1827, designating the King of Holland, William I, as arbitrator of the disputes over the boundary between the United States and Canada, not resolved after the Napoleonic Wars (see n7). His decision was delivered on 10 Jan., 1831. (See “Copy of an Award of the King of the Netherlands,” PP, 1831-32, XXXII, 241-53.) The boundary disputes, however, continued until the award agreed to in the 1842 Webster-Ashburton Treaty.
[7 ]Art. 4 of “A Treaty of Peace and Amity between His Britannic Majesty and the United States of America, Signed at Ghent” (24 Dec., 1814), PP, 1814-15, XIII, 139-50, provided for arbitration if the boundary commissioners could not resolve the claims. If Mill has a specific “injury” in mind, it is probably the U.S. surveyors’ changing their instructions so as to produce in the years between 1815 and 1819 a map with fictitious features, which was presented to the Commissioners in 1819.
[8 ]See Art. 3 of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty.
[1 ]James Watt (1736-1819), engineer and inventor, known especially for his work in the development of the steam engine; and Richard Arkwright (1732-92), noted inventor of textile machinery.
[2 ]I.e., the Napoleonic Wars.
[3 ]For Wakefield’s writings, see No. 194, n3.
[4 ]The advocacy of Torrens, an original member of the South Australian Land Company (1831), and Chairman of the Crown Commissioners to establish provinces in South Australia (1835), may be seen in his Colonization of South Australia (London: Longman, et al., 1835). A lake and a river in Australia received his name in recognition of his part in the colonization.
[1 ]Brougham, speech of 2 Feb., col. 42.
[2 ]Tocqueville, letter of 10 Feb., Morning Chronicle, 16 Feb., p. 5.
[3 ]Brougham, letter of 14 Feb., ibid.
[4 ]Tocqueville, speech of 28 Jan., Moniteur, 1843, p. 163 (quoted by Brougham, letter of 14 Feb., p. 5). The treaties referred to are “Convention between France and Great Britain for the More Effectual Suppression of the Traffic in Slaves” (30 Nov., 1831), and “Supplementary Slave Trade Convention between France and Great Britain” (22 Mar., 1833), in The Consolidated Treaty Series, Vol. LXXXII, pp. 271-5, and Vol. LXXXIII, pp. 259-75.
[5 ]The interjection by Berryer is reported and the concurrence of the Chamber expressed in Moniteur, 1843, p. 163.
[6 ]Tocqueville, speech of 28 Jan., p. 163.
[7 ]Brougham, letter of 14 Feb., p. 5. For the unratified treaty, see “Correspondence with Foreign Powers Relative to the Slave Trade: the United States,” Journals of the House of Commons, 1823, LXXIII, 707-11.
[8 ]Tocqueville, speech of 28 Jan., pp. 163-4.
[1 ]Peel, Speech on the Irish Registration Bill (15 Apr., 1844), PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 74, col. 4.
[2 ]On 1 Feb., 1844 (ibid., Vol. 72, col. 4).
[3 ]Peel, speech of 15 Apr., col. 4.
[1 ]The provision (excepting the Bank of England,which thus got a monopoly) is in Sect. 61 of 7 Anne, c. 7 (1708).
[2 ]A nation-wide wave of speculation in 1825, which resulted in suspension of payment by seventy-three of the main banks (of which thirty-seven eventually became bankrupt), led to 7 George IV, c. 46 (1826).
[3 ]For earlier discussion, see Nos. 208, 209, and 212.
[4 ]See Remarks upon Some Prevalent Errors, with Respect to Currency and Banking (London: Richardson, 1838), pp. 102-3, by George Warde Norman (1793-1882), a director of the Bank of England.
[6 ]E.g., John Ramsay McCulloch, Historical Sketch of the Bank of England: with an Examination of the Question as to the Prolongation of the Exclusive Privileges of That Establishment (London: Longman, et al., 1831), pp. 42-57.
[1 ]To allow the Government to borrow to finance the war, under 37 George III, cc. 45 and 91 (1797), the Bank of England was forbidden to cash notes in gold, and was authorized to issue notes under £5. This policy was deliberately continued, though the war was thought to be over, by 54 George III, c. 52 (1814).
[2 ]In 1819, 59 George III, c. 49 (“Peel’s Act”) allowed a gradual return to cash payments.
[3 ]See, for example, Francis Horner (1778-1817), M.P. from 1806, Resolutions Proposed to the House of Commons (London: Hatchard, 1811); Peter King (1776-1833), 7th Baron King, Thoughts on the Restriction of Payments in Specie at the Banks of England and Ireland (London: Cadell and Davies, et al., 1803); William Blake, F.R.S. (ca. 1774-1852), writer on currency and foreign exchanges, Observations on the Principles Which Regulate the Course of Exchange; and on the Depreciated State of the Currency (London: Lloyd, 1810); Huskisson, The Question Concerning the Depreciation of Our Currency Stated and Examined (London: Murray, 1810); and Ricardo, The High Price of Bullion (ibid., 1810), and Reply to Mr. Bosanquet’s Practical Observations on the Report of the Bullion Committee (ibid., 1811).
[4 ]Samuel Jones Loyd (1796-1883; later Baron Overstone), banker, Thoughts on the Separation of the Departments of the Bank of England (London: Richardson, 1844); Norman, Remarks upon Some Prevalent Errors, with Respect to Currency and Banking, and Letter to Charles Wood, Esq., M.P., on Money (ibid., 1841); Torrens, An Inquiry into the Practical Working of the Proposed Arrangements for the Renewal of the Charter of the Bank of England (London: Smith, Elder, 1844); McCulloch, Historical Sketch, and “State of the Currency, the Bank of England and the Country Banks,” Edinburgh Review, LXV (Apr. 1837), 61-87.
[1 ]Thomas Tooke, An Inquiry into the Currency Principle; the Connection of the Currency with Prices, and the Expediency of a Separation of Issue from Banking (London: Longmans, et al., 1844). It and Torrens’s Inquiry were reviewed by Mill in the Westminster for June 1844, in “The Currency Question” (CW, Vol. IV, pp. 341-61).
[1 ]See, e.g., Edmond Wodehouse (1784-1855), Speech on the Corn Laws (22 Feb., 1842), PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 60, col. 848.
[2 ]Originally a firm proponent of the Corn Laws, Peel had modified his position in 1842 by introducing a sliding scale of the duty on corn, dependent on its price (5 & 6 Victoria, Sess. 2, c. 14); at that time, however, he was still a confirmed protectionist. Faced with an estimated deficit of £2,000,000, he reintroduced, against strong opposition, the income tax (which had been repealed in 1816), in 5 & 6 Victoria, c. 35 (22 June, 1842); the revenue from this tax, combined with the lowering of taxes on hundreds of items and commodities, greatly improved the state of the economy. Eventually, Peel’s position on the Corn Laws began to ease, and by the end of 1845 he was ready to propose their suspension. On 27 Jan., 1846, he outlined his proposal for repeal (PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 83, cols. 239-85), which was brought forward as “A Bill to Amend the Laws Relating to the Importation of Corn,” 9 Victoria (9 Mar., 1846), PP, 1846, I, 423-8, and enacted as 9 & 10 Victoria, c. 22 (1846).
[1 ]For the phrase, see No. 301, n1.
[2 ]See, e.g., Robert Adam Christopher (1804-77), then Conservative M.P. for Lincolnshire, Speech on Repeal of the Corn Laws (10 June, 1845), PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 81, cols. 314-18.
[3 ]A Saint-Simonian maxim; see Doctrine Saint-Simonienne, Oeuvres, Vol. XLI, p. 41.
[4 ]See “Return of the Total Population of Great Britain in 1831 and 1841, also of the Number of Adult Males Employed in Agriculture at Those Periods Respectively, as Stated in the Reports of the Census Commissioners,” Sessional Papers of the House of Lords, 1846, XIX, 1-2.
[5 ]Judicial interpretation of 43 Elizabeth, c. 2, had determined that the poor-rates would be levied on real property; the current assessment by the obtainable rent was laid down in 6 & 7 William IV, c. 96 (1836).
[6 ]See Nos. 195 and 202 for mention of the agitation in 1832-33 for repeal of the house tax established by 48 George III, c. 55 (1808).
[1 ]Edmund Burke, Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents, Works, Vol. I, p 429.
[2 ]Leading article, The Times, 7 Feb., 1846, p. 4.
[1 ]History of Greece, 8 vols. (London: Longman, et al., 1835-44), by Connop Thirlwall (1797-1875), clergyman, whose debating powers Mill much admired, and who was forced to resign from Cambridge because of his support for the admission of Dissenters.
[2 ]Mitford’s The History of Greece was first published, in five volumes, from 1784 to 1818 (London: Murray, et al.). The references in n4 below, as throughout CW, are to the ten-volume edition (1818-20) in Mill’s library (see No. 97).
[3 ]Xerxes (d. 465 ), often called the “Great King,” ruled Persia 486-465 ; Dionysius I (ca. 430-367 ) ruled Syracuse 405-367 ; and Philip II (ca. 382-336 ) ruled Macedon and conquered Greece.
[4 ]Pericles (ca. 500-429 ), the popular leader of Athens from ca. 460 , inspiring orator and statesman; and Timoleon (ca. 411-337 ), Corinthian statesman and general. Mill somewhat exaggerates Mitford’s bias, but his comment is substantiated by such passages as those in Vol. II, pp. 129 and 189-90 (on Xerxes), Vol. VII, p. 51 (on Dionysius), Vol. VIII, pp. 474-94 (on Philip), Vol. II, pp. 381-3 and Vol. III, pp. 5-6 (on Pericles), Vol. VII, pp. 254-5 and 270n (on Timoleon), and Vol. VIII, pp. 128, 399, and 472-3 (on Demosthenes).
[5 ]See Vol. I, pp. 460-612 (Bk. I, Chap. xvi), esp. pp. 598-604 (“General Recapitulation”).
[6 ]Niebuhr, History of Rome, trans. Hare, et al., Vol. I, pp. 1-2.
[7 ]Hesiod (8th cent. ), poet, celebrated for his Works and Days.
[8 ]Herodotus (ca. 484-420 ), known as the “Father of History” for his attempt at a factual and accurate treatment of the Graeco-Persian wars.
[9 ]See Grote, Vol. I, p. 465, referring to Historia de vita Caroli Magni et Rolandi (first printed in 1566) attributed to Archbishop Turpin (d. 800) of Rheims (Mill may have known the translation by T. Rodd, 2 vols. [London: Todd, 1812]). Charlemagne (ca. 742-814) was King of the Franks and Roman Emperor. Calixtus II (d. 1124), Pope 1119-24, was wrongly thought to have declared Turpin’s account authentic.
[10 ]See Grote, Vol. I, p. 466.
[11 ]Editions available to Grote and Mill were John Hardyng (1378-1465), The Chronicle of Ion Hardyng, ed. Henry Ellis (London: Rivington, 1812); Robert Fabyan (d. 1513), The New Chronicles of England and France, ed. Henry Ellis (London: Rivington, 1811); Richard Grafton (d. 1572), Grafton’s Chronicle; or, History of England (London: Johnson, et al., 1809); and Raphael Holinshed (d. ca. 1580), Holinshed’s Chronicle of England, Scotland, and Ireland, 6 vols. (London: Johnson, et al., 1807).
[12 ]Hector, Priam, and the Atridae (Agamemnon and Menelaus, descendants of Atreus), heroic characters in the Iliad; Lear and Locrine, legendary kings of Britain; Hercules and Zeus, Greek gods; Amadis de Gaul, eponymous hero of an anonymous feudal romance.
[13 ]Christian Wilhelm Friedrich August Wolf (1759-1824), author of Prolegomena ad Homerum (1795), known as the father of philology, whose followers (as Grote indicates) included Wilhelm Mueller (1794-1827), lyric poet, historian, and philologist; and Karl Konrad Friedrich Wilhelm Lachmann (1793-1851), critic and philologist. Pisistratus (ca 560-527 ), Tyrant of Athens.
[14 ]Croesus was the last King of Lydia (560-546 ).
[15 ]Lycurgus, the Spartan lawmaker ca. 650
[16 ]The legendary second King of Rome, assigned the dates 715-673
[17 ]Plutarch, “Life of Lycurgus,” viii, in Lives, Vol. I, pp. 226-8.
[18 ]Aristotle (384-322 ), Politics (Greek and English), trans. H.Rackham (London: Heinemann, 1932), p. 149 (1271b).
[19 ]Agis IV (called III by Grote) and Cleomenes III, reforming Kings of Sparta, ca. 244-41 and 235-219 , respectively.
[20 ]Sphaerus (ca. 285-221 ), disciple of Zeno of Elea (b. ca. 490 ), the founder of the Stoic school of philosophy.
[1 ]The two surgeons—whatever their skill—were Charles Waterworth (d. 1864) and James Hicks (d. 1858).
[2 ]Waterworth, quoted in “The Water Cure,” The Times, 10 June, 1846, p. 6.
[3 ]For the remarks of the coroner, William John Payne (1822-84), see ibid.
[4 ]Lady Flora Elizabeth Hastings (1806-39), a Lady of the Bedchamber to the Duchess of Kent, suffering from abdominal distension, was rumoured to be pregnant. Though she was attended by Sir James Clark (1788-1870), the Queen’s physician, he, when consulted, did not rule out pregnancy, nor did he give any other cause for her marked girth. Queen Victoria ordered a medical examination, after which Sir James declared Lady Flora not pregnant; but an enlarged liver, of which she died four months later, still went undiagnosed. See “Statement in Vindication of Lady Flora Hastings,” The Times, 25 Mar., 1839, p. 5, and “The Post Mortem Examination of the Lady Flora Hastings,” ibid., 10 July, 1839, p. 6.