Front Page Titles (by Subject) 29.: The Reform Meeting in Hyde Park  24 JULY, 1866 - 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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29.: The Reform Meeting in Hyde Park  24 JULY, 1866 - 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 Reform Meeting in Hyde Park 
PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 184, cols. 1410–12. Reported in The Times, 25 July, p. 7, from which the variants and responses are taken. The debate was initiated by a question from Bernal Osborne (cols. 1385–6) to the Home Secretary about the instructions given to Mayne (see No. 27). Ayrton rushed in with other questions in a long speech, in which, after asking what steps Walpole had taken “for disabusing the minds of the people of the erroneous impression that they have a right to use the park for their own purposes” and for preserving the peace of the metropolis, he moved adjournment. Mill joined the ensuing debate.
sir, I have no intention of taking up much of the time of the House, but this is no ordinary occasion, and it seems to me that noble Lords and honourable Gentlemen opposite are by no means aware of the extreme seriousness of it, and of the serious consequences to which it may lead aif some steps be not taken, of which at present there appears no promisea . (Hear.) I am not going to enter into the question of the right of the people to meet in Hyde Park. We know that Her Majesty’s Government have the opinion of eminent lawyers to the contrary.1 We know that they believe they have the right to exclude the people. But lawyers are not unanimous on the subject; there are other distinguished lawyers, who, on legal and high constitutional grounds, have contended that the people have a right to meet there. But I do not desire to lay any stress on this circumstance. I maintain that if the people have not that right now, they ought to have it. (Hear.) I maintain further, that if, for reasons unintelligible to me, it was thought necessary for the maintenance of any supposed or nominal right that the people should ask permission to hold a meeting there, that permission ought to have been granted. (Hear.) And it ought ten thousand times more to have been granted to them under such circumstances as these, when they believed, erroneously or not, that they had the right; for surely this circumstance, when the people were already in an excited state of mind on another subject, ought to have warned right honourable Gentlemen opposite that the consequences would be such as have actually occurred, and which I believe the people deplore equally with himself. But I maintain that the public ought to have the use of the Park for this purpose, for if not, what other place is there that can suit them? In what other place can they meet where there would be less interruption to recreation? Is there likely to be less interruption to traffic, or to other pursuits or persons, in Trafalgar Square than in Hyde Park? Does a public meeting, if it were held once ba month—in the evening, too—b cause a thousandth part of the interruption that an ordinary review or meeting of Volunteers in the Park does? If such reasons as these are to exclude the public from meeting in the Parks, which assuredly must be held to belong to the public, for they have been ceded by the Crown to the public for a consideration—like other Crown lands—if these reasons are to prevail to exclude the people, there is no place for which equally strong reasons might not be given for their exclusion. Perhaps this is what honourable Gentlemen opposite wish. I give full credit, indeed, to the assurance which the Home Secretary has given us, that he has no desire to prevent political meetings.2 I believe in the perfect sincerity of what he said; but I cannot say that it has altogether reassured me. He said he had no objection to open air meetings at proper hours and in the proper places; but he did not tell us what the proper times or the proper places were in his opinion, and the newspaper scribes of the Government are already declaring that no open air meeting ought to be tolerated in the metropolis.3 I advise them to try that. I promise them that they will have to encounter an opposition of a very different kind, and from different persons, to any they have yet encountered. (Hear, hear, from the Ministerial side of the House.) Noble Lords and right honourable Gentlemen opposite may be congratulated on having done a job of work last night which will require wiser men than they are, many years to efface the consequences of. (Hear, hear.) It has been the anxious wish of all those who understand their age, and are lovers of their country, that the necessary changes in the institutions of the country should be effected with the least possible, and if possible without any, alienation and ill blood between the hitherto governing classes and the mass of the people. Her Majesty’s present advisers seem resolved, so far as it depends upon them, that this anxious desire should be frustrated. (Cries of Oh, oh, and Hear, hear.) We know that there is a kind of people who can do more mischief in an hour than can be repaired in a lifetime. (Ministerial cheers.) I am afraid that the Members of the present Government are animated by the noble ambition of inscribing their names on the illustrious list of those cpersonsc . (Hear.)
[The debate was ended by the withdrawal of Osborne’s question (col. 1416).]
[a-a]TT from the step which they had taken
[1 ]Walpole, Speech on the Reform Meeting in Hyde Park (24 July, 1866), PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 184, cols. 1391–8.
[b-b]TT in every two or three years
[3 ]See leading articles in The Times, 21 July, p. 9, and 24 July, p. 9.
[c-c]TT mischief makers