Front Page Titles (by Subject) 43.: Goldwin Smith 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
Return to Title Page for 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 Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
43.: Goldwin Smith 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).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The online edition of the Collected Works is published under licence from the copyright holder, The University of Toronto Press. ©2006 The University of Toronto Press. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form or medium without the permission of The University of Toronto Press.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Manchester Examiner and Times, 5 February, 1867. Headed: “Mr. Goldwin Smith’s Lectures. / William Pitt.” (A clipping of the report is in the Mill-Taylor Collection.) No other report has been located. Mill’s second public appearance on this day (see No. 42) was in the evening at the Assembly Room of the Free Trade Hall. Mill, who was in the Chair, “received a very enthusiastic reception from the audience.” His speech introduced Goldwin Smith (1823–1910), Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford, who was to deliver the last of his four lectures on the Political History of England, which were given to raise funds for the Jamaica Committee.
ladies and gentlemen, if Mr. Goldwin Smith were a stranger here, there are many things which it would be my duty, and still more my pleasure, to have said respecting him; but he was no stranger here before he delivered the lectures which have been so well received here, and which have so well deserved it; and he is still less a stranger after them. I therefore need not tell you who or what Mr. Goldwin Smith is. I will only say this, that what makes him, in my estimation, a perfectly invaluable man at this period in this country, is not his talents, not his acquirements, not even his courage—rare as that quality is, which ought to be the commonest of all public virtues—but it is that these talents, and those acquirements, and that courage have been, above all, exercised and called forth in defence of outraged moral principles. (Applause.) Whenever there is a high moral principle to be asserted against the insolence of power, or against the prevailing opinion of the powerful classes, there Mr. Goldwin Smith is to be found. (Hear.) You all know two of the most conspicuous instances—the stand which he made against the sympathy with the worst of all rebellions, the slaveholders’ rebellion,1 and that which he is now making against the outrages in Jamaica.2 Above all, when any outrage is committed against those united principles, principles which never were dissevered in the best times of our history, and never ought to be dissevered—liberty and law—it is then that we most need the services and the aid, the championship of a man in whom those two ideas are for ever united—ideas which are now so separated in the minds of the powerful that the most lawless outrages are condoned by the proper and authorised defenders of law, provided they are perpetrated against liberty. (Applause.)
[After Smith’s address, the meeting’s thanks to Smith for the series were moved. The motion was carried by acclamation, and Smith responded, commenting that when it was first suggested to him that his friend Mill should preside, he had said that “it would be rather like drawing a champagne cork with a steam engine. (Laughter.) But the steam engine was so kind and unconscious of its own magnitude that it came. (Hear, and laughter.)” Jacob Bright then took the Chair, so that T.B. Potter could move a vote of thanks to Mill. Bright, in putting the motion, remarked that when Mill entered the House of Commons, he “found himself much too large to be a Tory—(laughter)—he was too generous and had too much courage to be a Whig, and he gave his great powers unsought to the cause of the people, which was the cause of humanity. (Cheers.)” After the vote was approved with loud applause, Mill rose again.]
Mr. Mill said: Ladies and gentlemen, I am most sincerely and deeply grateful for the kind feelings with which you have received me, and for the kind vote of thanks you have been pleased to pass, though I do not feel that I at all deserve it, for having come here to give myself the opportunity of hearing the noble address which has kept us all in such a state of delight from beginning to end, and the opportunity also of giving, so far as the case admits of it, my adhesion to the whole tone and tenour of that discourse, and to nearly all the sentiments and statements which it contains. I say nearly all, because it is impossible that, in any address of that length, there should not be some things on which differences of opinion might arise, and if I could wish to suggest any difference of opinion from this noble discourse it would be to put in a word for the poor French Revolutionists. (Applause.) Unfortunately, there is too much of what Mr. Goldwin Smith has brought against them which can neither be denied nor palliated; but I should be very sorry, and I have no doubt Mr. Goldwin Smith himself would be very sorry, that you should suppose that there is not another side to the question—that there is nothing whatever to be said for them. On the contrary, in many of what seem their most exceptionable acts, there were circumstantial justifications of detail which, if they were stated, would very often, in my opinion, justify, and always excuse their conduct. I am speaking of the comparatively good period of the revolution. I would not, any more than the best revolutionists did then, and their greatest admirers have done since, palliate for one instant either the massacre of September or the excesses of the reign of terror. There were many bad men among them, and there were many bad acts; but there were also men of the purest virtue, some of the most heroic characters that ever existed, many of whom gave their lives, not only for their principles, but to preserve the purity and the fame of those principles by preventing, as far as could be, the atrocities with which they were stained, and rather sacrificed their own lives when they could have saved them, than tacitly connive at, or appear to be any parties to those iniquities. For what there was—and there was very much—for which no excuse can be offered, the greatest share of the blame rests where Mr. Goldwin Smith placed it, upon the odious system under which they had hitherto lived, the oppressions under which they had suffered, and the entire failure of their governing classes to establish any claim whatever on their forbearance. But even among those governing classes there were exceptions—a minority of the noblesse in the first States General, the minority which first joined with the people, consisting of about forty-five, among which there is not one name that was not eminent. Those 45 men, or thereabouts, I take to be about as heroic a body of men as ever existed, Lafayette being at their head.3 (Applause.) However, this is not the occasion on which it would be suitable to go any further into this subject. I have only entered upon it at all because I thought that possibly, without any intention on the part of the lecturer, a more unfavourable impression than he intended might be given to some of those who had not studied the history of the period; and I could not help saying what little depends upon myself to reduce this too heavy catalogue of just accusations against the French revolutionists within its legitimate bounds. (Hear.) I cannot sufficiently congratulate this assembly and this city upon what Mr. Brodrick4 has so well called the union between Oxford and Manchester—that is, between the best part of Oxford and Manchester—(laughter and applause)—which is inaugurated, I hope, by Mr. Goldwin Smith’s presence here. (Applause.) Mr. Goldwin Smith is one of that band of reformers who have made Oxford so different from what it was not long ago. (Hear.) There was a time not very distant when it seemed as if the University of Oxford existed for the purpose of preventing all which a university is supposed to exist in order to create. That time has gone by. There is abundant need for reform in Oxford still; but there is abundance of good there. There is a race of men now rising in Oxford in whom the spirit of improvement is as strong and as enlightened as in any other class or body of men who can be found in this country—(applause), who are taking the lead in all Liberal improvements—not only in politics, but in all that with which Oxford is more particularly connected—in ecclesiastical matters. We have an example of this in the two Fellows5 of an illustrious college at Oxford who have appeared among you on this occasion, and uttered sentiments which all present will appreciate. They also form part of this noble band of men from whose exertions England will yet reap admirable fruits, and fruits which will doubtless increase year after year. The improvements which are taking place, and which will take place, are being prepared and will be forwarded and carried into effect in a great degree, as I fully believe, by them all, such men as they are. I am sure that my friend, Mr. Goldwin Smith, may well leave this city with the feelings of satisfaction, of pleasure, and of thankfulness which he has expressed. (Hear.) And I am sure that no less those whom I am addressing sincerely feel the thanks which they have voted to Mr. Goldwin Smith. I am sure that from the lectures he has delivered, and of which I have only had the satisfaction of hearing one, but, if the others were like it, I know what I must have lost—you must be quite aware how much you have yet to look to from him. (Applause.) How he can possibly suppose that his sole means of usefulness is his pen, I know not, and I think the statement must have surprised all of you as much as it surprised me. But I have no doubt that the faculty which appears to have been a secret to himself, but which he has manifested in so remarkable a manner to us, will be yet exercised in many other ways and on many other occasions, equally with his very active pen, for the service, not only of parliamentary reform, but of all other public improvements. (Applause.)
[The meeting then terminated.]
[1 ]See, e.g., his “England and America,” Daily News, 27 Nov., 1862, p. 5.
[2 ]I.e., in this lecture series. For reports, see The Times, 16 Jan., p. 12, 22 Jan., p. 9, 29 Jan., p. 7, and 5 Feb., p. 6.
[3 ]Marie Joseph Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette (1757–1834), French aristocrat who distinguished himself in the U.S. War of Independence and then on the popular side in the French Revolution.
[4 ]George Charles Brodrick (1831–1903), a lawyer and leader writer for The Times, and a Fellow of Merton College, had spoken before Mill.
[5 ]In addition to Brodrick, Charles Saville Roundell (1827–1906), a lawyer who had been Secretary to the Jamaica Inquiry, was a Fellow of Merton.