Front Page Titles (by Subject) 32.: The Reform Meeting in Hyde Park  30 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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32.: The Reform Meeting in Hyde Park  30 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 
Daily News, 31 July, 1866, p. 3. Headed: “The Reform League Demonstration in the Agriculture-Hall.” Reported also in The Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Morning Star, and the Morning Post (in The Times and the Morning Post Mill’s speech is given in the third person, in the latter case in brief summary) (A clipping of the Daily News version is in the Mill-Taylor Collection.) The meeting, held in the Agriculture Hall in Islington at 8 p.m., was chaired by Edmond Beales. Placards had announced that several Members of Parliament would be present, including Mill (who, the Morning Post says, “did not seem in good health”). In his Autobiography, following his account of his role in the discussions between Walpole and the leaders of the Reform League (see No. 31), Mill says: “After the working men had conceded so much to me, I felt bound to comply with their request that I would attend and speak at their meeting at the Agricultural Hall: the only meeting called by the Reform League which I ever attended.” (He dissented from the League’s proposals for manhood suffrage and the ballot.) (CW, Vol. I, p. 278.) The enormous building, in which it was very difficult to hear speeches under ideal conditions, was occupied by thousands of working men, and some women. While admission to the body of the hall was free, entrance to the galleries cost 1s., while a few reserved seats on and adjacent to the platform were priced at 10s. The turbulent and noisy crowd, stimulated by songs (the “Marseillaise” being particularly popular), made it virtually impossible for any of the speakers to be heard; the reporters’ table, originally protected by the reserved seats, was eventually exposed to the surges of the crowd, making even less reliable the reports of the speeches. When the platform party arrived, Beales was unable to act in the normal fashion, and had to mount a table to make his opening remarks, which could be heard only after fifteen minutes. His truncated speech was followed by the reading of a resolution: “That the present Government, by assisting to defeat the Bill introduced by the late Government for the amendment of the representation, and by themselves indefinitely postponing the whole question of Reform, and finally by their employing the police to forcibly prevent the working classes from peaceably meeting in Hyde Park on Monday last to complain of the suffrage being withheld from them, have forfeited all claim to the confidence and support of the country.” The resolution was seconded, and then Mill rose. “The friends of the honourable member upon the platform were loud in their manifestations of applause when he rose to speak, but those in the body of the hall, even within tolerable hearing distance, were evidently unacquainted with the personal appearance of the honourable member for Westminster, for one of their number, under the full conviction that he had gained an insight into what was coming, led an encouraging cry of ‘Bravo, Mills!’ The chairman pressed the honourable member to address the meeting, like the other speakers, from the table; but the offer was politely declined. Mr. Mill doubtless felt it to be questionable whether in the universal clamour any advantage of position would enable him to make his utterances audible; certain it is that beyond the reporters’ table, and not even to all who were there collected, did his meaning penetrate.” (The Times.) Mill, “who seemed deeply impressed by the spectacle of the teeming and swaying multitude before him,” spoke (according to the Morning Post) “in so low a tone that scarcely a word could be gathered.”
ladies and gentlemen, this avast meetinga is a sufficient guarantee that the cause of reform will suffer nothing by your having determined to hold your meeting here instead of repeating the attempt to hold it in the park. (Cheers.) But I do not want b(so the honourable member was understood)b to talk to you about reform, you do not need to be stimulated by me on that subject. This meeting is a sufficient reply to any one who supposes that you do cwant to be stimulated. (Cheers.) You want to discuss reform.c You have been very much attacked for holding such large meetings, on the ground that they are inconsistent with discussion. (Loud laughter and cheers.) But discussion is not the only use of public meetings. One of the objects of such gatherings is demonstration. d(At this point the address was interrupted for some minutes by a violent lurch of the mainbody below in the direction of the platform, which seemed in danger of being carried by storm. An appeal from some of the principal members of the League restored order, but not till two or three gentlemen had been propelled bodily to within a few feet of where Mr. Mill was standing.) The honourable member proceeded:d —eYou want to make a display of your strength, and I tell you that the countries where the people are allowed to show their strength are those in which they are not obliged to use it.e As regards the parks, your chairman, who is a lawyer, does not doubt your right to meet in them. I am not a lawyer, and know nothing about the matter. But you thought it right to assert your claim, and only to withdraw under protest. Your protest has been made, and you have—I think wisely—determined not to renew it. (Interruptions.) You have been promised a fair opportunity of having the question settled by judicial decision, and you have wisely resolved that until that decision is given the question shall remain where it is. f(The soundness of this advice was unquestionable, but just at that moment the crowd manifested a disposition to do anything but remain where they were, for a further and more violent surging in the direction of the platform took place.)fgThe government, without abandoning what they thought were their legal rights, might have permitted the park for one meetingg when permission was asked, and I think it would have been a wise policy and a gracious act to have granted it—(tremendous cheers)—but it was refusedh, and the consequence was—(The meeting was not destined to hear more, for a fresh invasion of the platform took place, and the aspect of affairs at the moment was so threatening that although there were cries of “I will defend you, Mr. Mill,” “Our friends will be steady again in a minute,” “This is a meeting of men and not of children,” etc., the honourable member felt it hopeless to persist in his address and retired at once from the hall.)h
[After an interval to allow order to be established, the resolution was passed, and Bradlaugh moved a second one, calling for a petition to the House of Commons to establish a committee of inquiry into the conduct of Sir RichardMayne and the police under his command in preventing the meeting in Hyde Park on 23 July and during the next two days. In the course of his remarks he said “Mr. John Stuart Mill has just enunciated a proposition in which I cordially concur. He said if you have not a legal right to meet in the parks you ought to have it. (Loud cheers.)” The resolution was seconded, and passed after another interruption by newly-arrived marchers. Then Colonel Dickson moved a third resolution calling for financial contributions to the Reform League, which after seconding was also passed, and the meeting concluded at 9:30 with the usual vote of thanks to the Chair and three cheers for Bright, Gladstone, and Beales, and then three “For all who strive to preserve the right dearest to England—the right of public meeting.” Sectional meetings were held in different parts of the hall. Then the main part of the spectators (“sightseers,” The Times says, for “auditors they could not be called”) formed again into processions behind their bands, being joined by the huge crowd outside the hall, and did not finally clear the area until 11 p.m.]
[a-a]DT] DN building] TT vast multitude assembled in that hall] MS crowded meeting in this vast hall
[c-c]DT] DN not want to discuss reform. (Hear, hear.)] MS (hear, hear). Neither do you want to discuss reform.
[d-d]TT] DN (Hear.)] DT (Loud cheers.)] MS (Hear, hear.)
[e-e]TT The best way to show strength sometimes was by abstaining from employing it.] DT You wanted . . . as DN . . . strength. (Hear, hear.) The countries . . . those where the . . . as DN . . . it. (Cheers.)] MS They tell you you want to make a display of your physical strength. The countries where the people can . . . as DT . . . it. (Hear, hear.)
[g-g]TT It was true, the honourable member continued during a momentary lull, that without abandoning their right the Crown might have permitted the use of the parks for a single meeting.
[h-h]TT] DN [paragraph] At this point the crowd in front of the platform became, from the inevitable effect of pressure, so tumultuous and noisy that it was impossible for the honourable gentleman to proceed so as to make himself audible even to those who were nearest to him, and accordingly he made no attempt to complete his remarks.] DT (Cries of Shame.) [paragraph] At this moment great confusion took place in consequence of the pressure from behind forcing those standing around the reporters’ table completely over it. The tressels having given way, the top fell, and seriously endangered those who were using the table. Mr. Mill did not resume his speech.] MS (Loud cheers, in the midst of which Mr. Mill retired.)] MP The honourable member cut short his address somewhat abruptly, after signifying his assent to the resolution, which was put by the chairman and carried by acclamation.