Front Page Titles (by Subject) 5.: The Westminster Election of 1865  3 JULY, 1865 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part I November 1850 - November 1868
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5.: The Westminster Election of 1865  3 JULY, 1865 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part I November 1850 - November 1868 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part I November 1850 - November 1868, ed. John M. Robson and Bruce L. Kinzer (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1988).
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The Westminster Election of 1865 
Daily Telegraph, 4 July, 1865, p. 3. Headed: “Election Intelligence. / Westminster.” The evening meeting was called by Mill’s general committee in one of the large rooms of St. James’s Hall. This was Mill’s first speech on his return to England to stand for election, and, as he indicates, it was impromptu; he had prepared for a speech on the 5th (see No. 6). This occasion clearly involved a surprise: “although it was only what was termed a meeting of the general committee, it was to all intents and purposes an open meeting, between 300 and 400 gentlemen being present” (Daily News). There “were present on the platform most of the leading Reformers not only of the city of Westminster but of the metropolis at large.” Though many were present “who formed no part of the body invited to meet Mr. Mill, . . . the proceedings throughout were undisturbed” (The Times). “The chair was taken at eight o’clock by Dr. Brewer [William Brewer (d. 1881), a prominent physician and medical writer, a consistent supporter of Mill], who introduced Mr. Mill in a highly eulogistic speech.” Then Mill, who “was received with great cheering,” spoke.
gentlemen, I can most sincerely say that our excellent chairman has not in the slightest degree exaggerated anything in what he has said respecting my want of preparation for a speech to-night. I did not at all expect that I should be called upon to make an address. I understood there was a day appointed when I should make a speech and express my sentiments as far as you desire to hear them. I thought that I should only be expected to meet you to-night as friends, and for the purpose of joining in friendly conversation—(hear, hear)—and thus have the opportunity of giving any explanation that you might wish respecting my political views—upon points which I have not sufficiently made known, or may not have sufficiently explained. For this, I was ready, but I was not in the least aware of the public character of this meeting (referring to the reporters). Therefore, I hope you will, in consideration of my want of experience in such cases, excuse the imperfections which must necessarily arise from my want of preparation. (Applause.) Let me begin by saying, that if our chairman has not made any exaggeration in that respect, I am afraid that he has in many others, for I do not know how it will be possible that I should fulfil all that he has said respecting me, in case I have the honour of being elected your representative. I say it will be difficult for me to fulfil the high expectations which must have been raised—(no)—by the friendly and favourable opinions which have been uttered respecting me throughout the whole of this election—friendly and favourable opinions, too, from quarters whence I could little expect them. The mere fact of the number of distinguished persons who have consented to have their names placed on my committee is a matter for which personally I cannot possibly be too thankful. It is a most distinguished honour itself, besides the fact of having been selected by such a body, as a candidate for the important post of representing Westminster, perhaps the most important seat in the whole House of Commons. (Hear, hear.) A higher honour than this can scarcely be conceived. But, though one of the highest, it ought not to be considered as a favour. (Applause.) If it be considered as a favour I have no right to ask ita, and the electors would have no right to confer ita . It is not a favour; it is an onerous duty which you are anxious to impose upon me, and which I cannot but feel flattered to the highest degree at being thought worthy and capable of properly holding. (Cheers.) If I should receive your support and be elected to the House of Commons, I feel that I must fall below your expectations. (Loud cries of No, no.) Notwithstanding the utmost exertions which I could make, I feel that I must necessarily remain behind. (Renewed cries of No, no.) One thing I will say, no one can feel stronger than I do the importance of that part in the contest which has nothing to do with me individually—and that is purity of election. (Cheers.) I am obliged to say that you give me too much honour when you bestow on me the glory of that. If you are victorious, the praise will not be mine, the praise will be wholly yours. (No.) It is all very well for me to say how desirable are these things, but you have to accomplish them, therefore to you will be the credit. You have to maintain the fight to elect me on what you suppose are my qualifications, and which are my only recommendation. I am a person almost entirely unknown to you except through my writings. You have not only undertaken to elect a person on these grounds, but you have also undertaken to do it and bear all those expenses—ordinary expenses—which ought never to be borne by the candidate. (Great applause.) For those charges which are legitimate ought to be borne by the public or the municipal body—(hear, hear)—and those which are illegitimate ought never to be incurred at all. (Cheers.) You have undertaken to abstain from the illegitimate expenses, and to bear the burden of the legitimate. (Yes, and cheerfully.) This you have performed, and not only so, but you have done it having to bear up against a candidature which is conducted on opposite principles1 —a candidature conducted on principles of the most lavish expenditure. (Hear, hear, and cheers.) And neither is this all, for you have not only to contend against this, but you have to evoke a spirit in the constituency which shall rise superior to those opposite principles, and to a level with those which you have adopted. (Hear, hear.) Therefore the praise will be yours. It is easy for me to say that I will use no illegitimate or even bwhat were usually consideredb legitimate means. Yours will be the deserved credit. I do not think that it is right a candidate should make any other pledge than a complete sincerity cand that he ought not to canvass the electorsc . (Hear, hear.) It costs me nothing to say this, but it costs you much, for it is you who have to bear the burden. (Cheers.) Whatever honour I may receive, it will be you who have gained it for me. I cannot help thanking the worthy chairman for having paid the tribute he has done to one to whom in my early life I owe everything—to my father (applause)—a man who has done more, infinitely more, for the public cause than I can ever do; because he lived in times when there were few to do it—when the fact of being Liberal—Liberalism which was worth anything—stood most seriously in the way of a man’s advancement in life, and especially of men who had their bread to gain.2 He had to win his bread by his pen, and had to do this at a time when his opinions were such as necessarily to produce not only the ill-favour of the chiefs and recognised leaders of political parties, but to compromise him with all the powerful classes of this country. I say he did this at a time when there were very few to favour or praise him. Nothing that I can do will compare with this—it will not have a tenth, a hundredth, a thousandth part of the merit which belongs to those who went before me. To him I am indebted for everything which has made me at all capable of following in his footsteps. As it is, I may say, if there is a time when a person may be allowed to speak of himself, it is on such an occasion as this. I may perhaps say something which may make you better satisfied with me, when I affirm that I have sat by the cradle of all the great political reforms of this and the last generation; and I have not only sat by the cradle of these reforms, but before I was out of my teens I was up and stirring, and writing about them. (Hear.) I have stood by these reforms, which now count followers by millions when their followers did not count tens of thousands, nay, not thousands, nor hundreds. (Cheers.) When they only counted tens I was amongst them. Nay, I may say, when their followers only counted units—when that which is now the universally received principle respecting the government of our colonies was not always so. I can recollect the time when there were two men amongst the active political writers of this country who recognised it—two men, Mr. Roebuck and myself.3 (Great cheering.) I can remember another thing which many of you may—which, indeed, you must have heard—the Wakefield doctrine for finding funds for supplying the population of the colonies.4 The Wakefield principle is to put a price on uncultivated land, and employ the proceeds in paying the expenses of immigrationd, which would prevent them from settling down as Irish cottiersd ; the price, at the same time, being an obstacle to the too great dispersion of the inhabitants. That was in 1831, when there were three persons who held that—Mr. Wakefield, the inventor or discoverer, myself, and one other.5 And we so worked the principle that in four years a new colony, South Australia, was founded on the principle. (Cheers.) eIn a few years afterwards it was a principle which was very greatly extended over all our Australian Colonies. From that date, long before the discovery of the gold mines, these colonies entered upon a career of prosperity which has continued, and those colonies now constitute one of the most splendid offshoots of the English people.e (Cheers.) I have said this for the purpose of showing I have never been one of those who have left difficult things for others. (Cheers.) I have never been one of those who have left things alone when they have been an uphill fight, but I have left them when the fight was no longer difficult. When the thing was prosperous I have left it for a time, and have said, “This matter no longer requires me,” and I have therefore transferred my services to those who did. (Loud cheers.) I have left that prosperous thing, and have turned to something else—to something that was still a crotchet, still an abstraction, still something that no practical person would battle with. (Hear, hear.) For I have been accustomed even in my life—and all history confirms the same thing—I have been accustomed to see that the crotchet of to-day, the crotchet of one generation, becomes the truth of the next and the truism of the one after. (Cheers.) I have lived long enough to see the three steps of this process taking place with a number of my opinions. I have told you a number of my crotchets now, and perhaps they will be truisms by-and-by. (Hear, hear.) I think, gentlemen, as all of you have consented to be members of my committee, I may take it for granted that you have a sufficient general idea of my political opinions for you to be aware what course I should take if you do me the honour of electing me. (We will.) But if there is anything respecting which you wish to know more, or anything upon which you would wish further explanation, and to ask my sentiments, here I am to answer. (Hear, hear.) Coming, as I said, unprepared, I have stated that which came uppermost in my mind. It rests with you upon what other topic I shall speak. If any of you will do me the honour of putting any question, I will endeavour to answer it. (Cheers.)
Mr. Probyn said that a rumour had been circulated by the Conservatives that Mr. Mill did not intend to go to the poll.fThis was utterly false; for not only did they intend to go to the poll, but they believed by next Tuesday night that Mr. Mill would be one of the members for Westminster. (Cheers.)fHe would simply venture to mention the American question as one upon which he would wish to ask Mr. Mill to give them some little explanation—viz., with respect to the doctrine of non-intervention. He read a paper of Mr. Mill’s, which in 1857 was published in Fraser’s Magazine, and which well pleased him.6Its doctrine was that we as a country ought not to intervene in the domestic, in the purely internal events which occurred in any particular country, whatever our sympathies might be; but this did not preclude our interfering in the affairs of the continent when any one power or any two by their attitude or acts jeopardised a third power, and which might be a free power. In that case we ought to interfere for the sake of freedom, and in so doing we did not contravene the real doctrine of non-intervention.
Mr. Mill said that this was a correct quotation from his writings. gHe did not think it was possible for a nation more than an individual to say that if it should cost anything, it would not help people who were struggling in a good cause. He thought intervention was generally wrong, not on account of the nation interfering, but of the nation with which it interfered. He thought every nation was the best judge of its own affairs.g (Cheers.)
Professor Masson strongly advocated the claims of Mr. Mill.
A gentleman in the body of the room asked the honourable candidate’s views respecting Church and State and the Maynooth grant.7
Mr. Mill said that as he had said before he would not give a pledge; but this would not prevent him from stating what was his sincere opinion. His sincere opinion was that it was best that Church and State should be perfectly distinct. He was against all connection between Church and State. As things stood, he did not think this was a practicable object. hHe thought their object should be to exercise all the influence the State had over the Church, to improve its spirit.h He thought most present would agree with him that the State was considerably more Liberal than the Church. (Cheers.) iThere had been occasions on which the State had tended to corrupt the Church, but at present matters stood the other way.i He had a great opinion that at present those who held the most liberal sentiments—and by liberal he did not mean lax, but who took the most Christian view of religion—had a much greater chance of being in the highest places of the Church than if the Church were separated from the State. Respecting the Maynooth grant, he should be quite ready to discontinue it as soon as no State endowment was granted to any other religion. (Hear, hear.) As long as there was, and especially that jutterly condemnablej body, the Irish Church Establishment—(hear, hear)—he should think it a very great shame to take away from the religion of the body of the people the small pittance which they were allowed. (Applause.)
[1 ]I.e., that of William Henry Smith (1825–91), proprietor and son of the founder of W.H. Smith and Son, who was running as a Liberal Conservative, or Conservative Liberal (both labels were used).
[2 ]James Mill (1772–1836), an active propagandist for radical Benthamite and Ricardian views through articles, pamphlets, books, and personal influence, had lived by his pen until he joined the East India Company in 1819, rising to the head of the Examiner’s Office, a position J.S. Mill also attained.
[3 ]John Arthur Roebuck (1801–79) had been a close associate—initially a disciple—of Mill’s in the late 1820s; he was a leading Radical in the House of Commons after the Reform Act of 1832. Though personally estranged from Mill during most of their adult lives, he remained an admirer, joined in the movement for Mill’s election, and offered him advice on effective performance in the Commons.
[4 ]See, e.g., Edward Gibbon Wakefield, Plan of a Company to Be Established for the Purpose of Founding a Colony in Southern Australia (London: Ridgway, 1831).
[d-d]+DN] TT , and the application of this prevented the people from settling on the land like Irish cottiers.
[5 ]Robert Gouger (1802–66), early and ardent advocate of Wakefield’s scheme; for evidence that he is the one intended, see Wakefield, A Letter from Sydney (London: Cross, et al., 1829), pp. 169–80, and Appendix, pp. iii-xxiv.
[e-e]DN After that, but not to a very great extent, it was applied to all our Australian colonies, and some of the colonies which had languished revived. Western Australia, which had been a failure, had entered upon a career of prosperity.
[f-f]DN He assured the electors that he would poll to the last hour, and that he would then be found at its head. (Loud cheers.)
[6 ]“A Few Words on Non-Intervention,” Fraser’s Magazine, LX (Dec. 1859), 766–76 (CW, Vol. XXI, pp. 109–24).
[g-g]DN] DT He thought a people were much the best judges of their own internal affairs but this spirit of non-intervention did not apply in the case which had been put forward.] TT [He] considered no nation should interfere in the internal affairs of another nation; but that when a despotic government interfered with a nation which desired to be free, then a free country would be in duty bound to interfere on the side of right.
[7 ]8 & 9 Victoria, c. 25 (1845) provided Maynooth College, a Roman Catholic seminary in Ireland, with a special building grant of £30,000, and increased its annual subsidy from £9,000 to £26,000.
[j-j]DN anomalous and contemptible
[k-k]DN] DT The Committee then proceeded with private business.
[8 ]See Nos. 6, 7, 8, and 10.