Front Page Titles (by Subject) 42.: Political Progress 4 FEBRUARY, 1867 - 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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42.: Political Progress 4 FEBRUARY, 1867 - 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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Manchester Examiner and Times, 5 February, 1867, p. 6. Headed: “Opening of the Manchester Reform Club.” (A clipping of this version is in the Mill-Taylor Collection.) The speech was reported in London on the 6th in the Daily News and the Morning Star. Mill had travelled down from St. Andrews, where on 1 February he had delivered his Inaugural Address as Rector (see CW, Vol. XXI, pp. 215–57), to attend the inaugural luncheon meeting of the Manchester Reform Club at Spring Gardens. Hugh Mason presided. In addition to Mill, Goldwin Smith was present as a guest (see No. 43 for Mill’s speech in his honour later the same day). After the formal business of the meeting was concluded, toasts were offered, including one by Thomas Bayley Potter (1817–98), M.P. for Rochdale, who proposed “Political progress, the only safeguard of civil liberty,” with which he coupled the names of Mill and Smith. “Mill, on being called upon to respond,” then spoke.
mr. chairman and gentlemen, you have done me the honour of associating my name with the words of “political progress.” It is with you, it is with the men of Lancashire, that that idea should be more particularly connected. We of the south are accustomed to look to you—to the north—as invariably leading the van, not only in the industrial and the commercial progress, but in the political progress of this country. And in doing so you have only confirmed the idea which we have heard from our childhood, which is admitted and even asserted as a general principle by Conservative as well as Liberal thinkers, that manufacturing and commercial populations are always the leaders on the side of progress—(hear),—and that agricultural populations, and particularly the territorial aristocracy and the great landowners, have a different function in the community—a function sometimes necessary, although often it has become excessive—the Conservative function, the function of keeping that which is good, and I am afraid sometimes that which is bad too. a(Cheers and laughter.) But to you it particularly belongs—toa the manufacturing and commercial communities of the world, and to the manufacturing and commercial part of mixed communities, belongs the lead in improvement, both in ideas and above all in the application of those ideas to practice. It is natural that it should be so, because those who are constantly employed in devising more and more new contrivances for making the laws of nature bavailableb for the increase of the national wealth, and for attaining all the objects that are pursued in the economical department of things with ever-increasing facility; those of us, a very large proportion of whom are always men who have made their own position and their own fortunes, who are always rising, a succession of them rising from inferior to higher positions—those are the persons whose practice and whose whole course in life naturally ought to make them, and very generally does make them, habitual improvers and reformersc. (Hear, hear.) Those are the industriesc which turn men’s minds to improvement in all departments of things as well as in their own. I wish it were not, unfortunately, to be set down to the general infirmities of human nature, that even these very men, after they have raised themselves, their fortune completely made, they and their descendants dvery often cherishd the rather low ambition of passing over to the class of territorial magnates—(hear, and cheers), and from that time ewee rather see their influence employed on the Conservative side—often, wholesomely, sometimes perhaps not quite so wholesomely, than on the side on which they have themselves made their position. (Cheers.) Still, it is to them, it is to this class that we must look in all great national movements for political improvement, and it is to them we look mainly for fsuccess for the futuref in the great battle in which we are now engaging against what remains of privilege in this country. (Cheers.) The sentiment which has been given by my friend Mr. Potter gassociatesg political progress, with civil liberty, as being the sole condition of it; and I think no person who uses the smallest reflection can doubt that this is true, for hour history and our principles together combineh in showing, in the first place, that the nation which is not going forward always goes back; the nation which is not constantly employed in improving whatever it has both of iphysical and moral good,i and also of spiritual good, which is not constantly engaged in improving, gets into a state of stagnationj, and actual indolence and indifferencej , the sure consequence of which is decline kin these things, and with decline in these things, with decline either in mental prosperity, in mental or moral culture,k comes necessarily—where a people has been free—the gradual loss of liberty. (Hear, hear.) Consequently it is not to be expected that any country should long retain its liberty which is not engaged in political progress, which does not keep political progress constantly going. And more than this, there is a point which more especially tempts and invites our attention at this present moment, namely, the question of how a country—in the lnewl state of the world—is to protect, not only its liberty, but its national independence, against foreign countries. Look at the armed hosts that are rising up all over the world just now. Look at the immense extent to which the governments of Europe—all the more powerful governments—are devoting their resources,—the whole, almost we may say, of their population,—to the maintenance of enormous armies, and not merely defensive but aggressive armies. (Hear, hear.) Is not that menacing to this country? Does anybody suppose that these governments look with pleasure on the degree of freedom that we enjoy, or upon the contrast whereby, in many respects, our position offers to that of their subjects, min all thism freedom? Not at all. Yet what position are we in? We, with our small army, and I hope we shall never have a large and an aggressive army—we actually cannot keep it up, we cannot get recruits, because—and this is the point to which the most attention, I think, should be turned, as being one of the most remarkable signs of the times—the people of this country, and, indeed, of other countries, but especially of this country, will no longer fight for a cause that is not their own. Men will not be soldiers as a mere profession, or at least the number is constantly diminishing, who will hire themselves out to shed the blood of others when it is not for the protection of their own freedom and laws. And we have a noble example of what a people will do—how a people will fight—when it is for themselves, for their own cause, for their own liberty, or for moral principles which they regard equally with their liberty. We have seen that in the late heroic and glorious struggle of the United States. (Loud cheers.) We have seen there a million of men in arms for their own freedom, but chiefly for the freedom of others, chiefly for the general cause of liberty; a million of men in arms—every family in the country almost had some one of its members in that force, and scarcely a family in the ncountry, or in the free states, is notn in mourning in consequence of that war. Nevertheless they fought on until they had triumphed. They have triumphed, and they have gone back to their ploughs and to their looms, and have resumed the pursuits of civil life, no more thinking to continue a military life, or to make oany invidious encroachmentso on their neighbours, or to engage in any war but such a one as they have carried so nobly to a conclusion—(hear, hear)—any more than if they had never handled a musket. (Hear, hear.) That is the defensive army which we require—(loud cheers)—it is the defensive force we seek—(cheers)—and we ought with the utmost vigour to oppose any attempt to increase it so as to give us an aggressive force. What we want is a defensive force; what we want is that the people shall be a disciplined people, shall be an armed people, shall be ready to fight, and to go forth as the Americans did, in their own cause, por in any cause in which they feel a disinterested concern;p that it shall be for themselves and not for others—and that they shall offer the highest places in that force not to those who have bought, or who are born to it, but to those who qcan showq that they have earned it, and that they deserve it. (Loud applause.)
[Goldwin Smith also responded, and after several more toasts and replies the meeting ended.]
[a-a]DN,MS] MET To
[c-c]DN,MS ; these are the antecedents
[d-d]DN,MS] MET often try
[e-e]DN,MS they would
[g-g]DN,MS] MET asserts
[h-h]DN,MS] MET all the history of all principles together combines
[j-j]DN,MS and mental indolence
[k-k]DN,MS And we have declined to those things. We have declined either in material prosperity, or in mental and moral culture, and with that decline
[l-l]DN,MS] MET now
[m-m]DN,MS owing to our
[n-n]DN,MS Free States that is not now
[o-o]DN an invasion or encroachment] MS any invasion or encroachment
[p-p]DN,MS] MET but not in any cause in which their interest is not concerned—
[q-q]DN,MS have shewn