Front Page Titles (by Subject) 66.: Redistribution 28 JUNE, 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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66.: Redistribution 28 JUNE, 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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Morning Star, 29 June, 1867, p. 6. Headed: “National Reform Union. Meeting Last Evening.” An identical report is in the Evening Star; The Times has a full report in the third person; shorter reports appeared in the Daily News, the Daily Telegraph, and the Morning Post. (Clippings of the Morning Star and The Times are in the Mill-Taylor Collection.) The evening meeting, under the auspices of the National Reform Union, was held in St. James’s Hall, to protest against the government’s redistribution scheme, on the grounds that it discriminated against the large boroughs. The Chair was taken by Jacob Bright, and Mill (“who was received with prolonged cheering” [Daily News]), was in the platform party. After Bright spoke, a resolution regretting the government’s refusal to introduce an Irish Reform Bill in the present session was moved, seconded, and passed. A second resolution condemning the government’s redistribution plan was passed, as was one (seconded by Beales, who also praised Mill), endorsing continued action by the National Reform Union. Then, at 11:10 p.m., in response to repeated calls, the Chair called upon Mill. “The immense audience at once rose en masse, and hats and handkerchiefs were set waving, and the cheering lasted for several minutes.”
there is not the smallest need that I should address you this evening, for you have already heard many excellent speeches, and there is nothing which I have to say, or that I think it useful to say on this subject on this occasion which has not already been anticipated by some speaker. I had hoped, therefore, that you would have excused me; but as you may wish to hear my view of this question—(cheers)—and as possibly there may be many of my constituents present to-night who have a right to hear what my sentiments are, I will atherefore at this late hour verya briefly explain them. (Hear, hear.) I think that Reformers will only do their duty if they continue to agitate until they obtain a bill far better than the present one in the essential point of the redistribution of seats,1 and, above all, I think no Reformers ought to be satisfied unless the large towns obtain, not a third member here and there, but a great number of additional members—(cheers)—and when I speak of the large towns, I include amongst them the metropolitan districts, which bare eminently entitled to a large representation—(hear, hear)—and I say this ought to be the case even from what our opponents admit.b Mr. Disraeli has, from the beginning, proclaimed and declared with frequent iteration that the counties must have a larger representation than they have at present, because if you take the whole numbers of their population they are more populous than the towns.2 Now, if this argument is good for the counties it is good for the great towns; and the great towns are far more populous than some of the counties. In this metropolis you have over 3,000,000 in population, and if you allow to the counties 12,000,000,3 which is exceeding Mr. Disraeli’s calculation, it follows that London ought to have one-fourth of the amount of representation which the counties have—(hear, hear)—and at that rate London would be entitled to forty or fifty members—(cheers)—and the other large towns of the country would have to have a proportionately large increasec, this increase, of course, being at the expense of the representation of the small townsc . But let us look a little more closely into this question of the counties. Now what is the population of which these 11,000,000 are composed? First of all there are the landlords, and then there are the farmers. Well, they do not count 11,000,000. Then there are the small shopkeepers and professional men dliving in the small unrepresented townsd , and we do not know how many of these will have votes, but theirs is a fair claim as far as it goes. But how is the remainder of the 11,000,000 made up? Why, it is made up by counting the agricultural labourers. (Cheers.) Now, I should like to know whether these gentlemen will have the face to stand up in the House of Commons or anywhere else and say that ethe landlords as county memberse represent the agricultural labourers. (Cheers.) Why, fthose are precisely the only people that the agricultural labourers ever have any dispute or quarrel with. But let them look at the subject in another point of view. Thesef agricultural labourers have not even votes, and this bill is not going to give them any—(hear, hear)—and they are not to have votes either in the counties or in the boroughs g; but if they possess no votes the Conservatives have no right to count that portion of the population as forming a part of the county constituenciesg . But it may be said that if they are not represented directly, they are represented indirectly. Well, sometimes those who are not represented directly are represented indirectly by those who have the same interest as themselves. But I want to know, has the agricultural labourer the same interest as the landlords and the farmers? (Cheers.) It is very well to say that the interests of all classes of the nation are much the same in the long run. I am not going to say anything against that, but mankind are much more governed by their immediate than their ultimate interestsh, and if I had any immediate interest to be settled I should much prefer that the man who has to decide the matter should not be chosen from persons who have opposite interests to my ownh . (Hear, hear.) Now if there are any persons in the community that the agricultural labourers would not wish to be represented by, I should say it is the landlords. (Hear, hear.) Why, the town members represent them better. (Hear, hear.) We town representatives have no disputes with them. (Hear, hear.) We are not their masters, and people do not like to be represented by their masters. (Hear, hear.) We are not their employers, and we never have any dispute with them about wages as the farmers have, and moreover we want to educate them, and farmers generally, I think, do not want to do that. (Cheers.) They think, in the first place, that education makes the labourers too independent; and, in the next place, they want them to make them labour a great deal too early so as to render it impossible for them to remain at school. I do not say this of the landlords. I am now referring to the farmers. Many of the landlords are desirous that the agricultural labourers should be educated, and perhaps things would get on much better if it was not for that accursed subject—game. (Cheers.) Now, we town representatives never have any quarrels with the agricultural labourer on that subject. (Hear, hear.) But such is the state of things and feeling on the subject of game, which has taken possession of the landed interest, that I cannot conceive that any agricultural labourer, if he had his choice, would like to be represented by any man who kept a gamekeeper. (Laughter and cheers.) I am told by persons who live in the country that it is a fixed belief with agricultural labourers that a bench of magistrates think that the word of a gamekeeper is law, and that whenever a gamekeeper charges a person with an offence against the game laws, that person is sure to have to go to prison. (Hear, hear.) Now, I do not know whether this is true or not, but so it is asserted, and it is a great pity that every now and then something happens which gives a great deal of colour to this assertion. (Cheers.) Many present may have noticed a recent case, which is very striking in its features, and we should have known nothing of it had it not been for a noble-hearted clergyman who brought the facts before the public.4 A gamekeeper who had had the satisfaction or accident to make a mistake before in charging a person wrongfully, made oaths that two persons had been seen by him in the act of poaching. The father and mother of each of these two supposed delinquents gave positive evidence that these two young men were in their respective houses on the night in question. The gamekeeper, however, was believed by the magistrates, and the two young men were sent to prison. One was sent for a short period, which he served. While the other was still in prison, two persons who had really committed the offence came forward and confessed that they had done so. Now, what would you suppose this circumstance would have inspired in the minds of the magistrates? One would have thought at least a doubt respecting the testimony of the gamekeeper. (Hear, hear.) Not so, however, because they did not see their way to letting the confined man out of prison—(cries of Shame)—and he would have remained in prison to the end of his sentence had it not been for this clergyman who gave publicity to the affair, and after considerable delay and consideration the Home Secretary5 let the man out. (Cheers.) iAs to any atonement being made to the man, such a thing was never to be dreamt of. Nay, more, after all, the man, though innocent, was held to bail.i Now, I believe that these things do not often happen, but one such thing in a year is quite enough to reveal the difference of feeling between a country gentleman and an agricultural labourer. (Cheers.) And it makes it not at all probable that agricultural labourers, if they had any choice, would choose landlords to be their representatives. (Cheers.) I say, therefore, whatever claims the counties may have for representation, those claims should not at all events be put forward as regards the agricultural labourers, who, as I have already said, are better represented by the town members. (Cheers.) jIt is said that these labourers have no votes; but that is not strictly correct, for some of them have votes. I may be asked where. Why, in the towns and, still more, in those petty sham counties—that is to say, in those places hardly better than villages which have large landed districts attached to them. All the agricultural labourers will have votes, but these will count as town votes, and, therefore, as I have said before, the town representatives are the more real representatives of the agricultural labourers than the landlords. Well, it being assumed that the great towns ought to have more representatives, the question, then, to be considered is where are those additional members to come from. I would call attention in respect to this point to those small sham counties of which I have spoken. They are Cricklade, Aylesbury, and Shoreham. By the disfranchisement of other boroughs these have had the surrounding districts added to them, and ought, therefore, to be counted among the county representatives. By the Reform Bill of 1832 many of these boroughs were created. A Conservative member of the House of Commons the other day gave the history of Wenlock, which covered 75 square miles, while the town was not larger than a village, and yet it returned two members to Parliament .6 I should like to know where they could find a better place than this for disfranchisement, which would give them two members to be disposed of elsewhere. There are other places of a similar description, such as Thetford, Tavistock, and Totnes, all of which return two members, the plan generally being that the patron returns one member, and the people the other member. Some of these places are to be deprived of one of their members, and the question is who will be the loser, the patron or the people? (Cheers.) Where there is no member to be disposed of I fear the patron will be stronger than the people, but all such ought to be considered county representations. I will give the Government what credit may be due to them for giving additional members to the metropolis, and also a member to the London University; but while they have added largely to the representation of the counties they will not grant any additional member to the great towns. (Cheers.)j
[The meeting concluded towards midnight with the customary vote of thanks to the Chair, during which Harriet Law (whom the Daily News, not knowing her name, identified as “a lady in a sailor’s hat”), who “had shortly before taken her seat by the side of Mr. Mill,” made “a long oration on the subject of women’s political rights. She called for a show of hands in favour of Mr. Mill’s proposition to admit women to the suffrage, and the meeting, which had half dwindled away, cordially answered the appeal” (Morning Post).]
[a-a]+TT [in the past tense]
[1 ]Clauses 8–16 of the Reform Bill (for which see No. 50).
[b-b]TT , even upon the single ground of population, were entitled to a large increase in representation. But all the large towns were entitled to an increased representation, not only upon the principles advocated by the Liberals but upon the principles even of their opponents, for
[2 ]E.g., in his Speech on the Representation of the People Bill (24 June), PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 188, cols. 467–8.
[3 ]Mill uses the higher figure for easy calculation; he then uses 11,000,000 as a rounded lower figure for what was calculated to be a county population of 11,428,632.
[e-e]TT] MS they
[f-f]TT [in the past tense MS the]]
[g-g]+TT [in the past tense]
[h-h]+TT [in the third person, past tense]
[4 ]Richard Payne (1810–90), Vicar of Downton and Rural Dean of Wilton, wrote a letter to the Daily News, published on 11 June, 1867, in which he outlined the case. George Pilgrim, a gamekeeper, had accused Henry Fulford and Mark Wellstead of poaching, before Edward Hinxman (b. 1810), a Wiltshire magistrate. The two who later confessed were Stephen Deer and Charles Moody. See “The Game Laws and County Representation,” Spectator, 15 June, 1867, pp. 658–9. See also No. 72.
[j-j]TT [in the third person, past tense MS The honourable gentleman then briefly spoke of the unsatisfactory character of the redistribution bill of the Government, and concluded amidst great cheering.] DT As for the redistribution, there are many towns where one member has been returned by the patron and one by the town. Which of these two is to be given up? (Cheers.) I am afraid the people will lose theirs and the patron retain his. (Cheers.)]]
[6 ]Richard Dyott (1808–91), M.P. for Lichfield, Speech on the Representation of the People Bill (25 June, 1867), PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 188, col. 532.