Front Page Titles (by Subject) 133.: The Westminster Election of 1868  2 NOVEMBER, 1868 - 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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133.: The Westminster Election of 1868  2 NOVEMBER, 1868 - 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 Westminster Election of 1868 
Daily Telegraph, 3 November, 1868, p. 2. Headed: “Election Movements. / Westminster.” Reported in slightly less full form in The Times and the Morning Star (both in the third person); the report of Mill’s remarks in the Daily News is shorter. In a letter to Edwin Chadwick on 7 November, Mill says, “the papers have given only the most trumpery reports of any of my speeches except the first [on 2 November], which was comparatively commonplace; and of that, the only good report that I saw was in the Telegraph. All have been immensely successful.” (CW, Vol. XVI, p. 1481.) The meeting of Mill and Grosvenor with their constituents was held at 8 p.m. in the Regent Music Hall, Regent Street, Vauxhall Bridge Road, with Dr. Lankester in the chair. The large room was densely crowded, many women being in attendance. Lankester, in introducing the Members, reminded the audience that he had presided over the meeting when Mill had first addressed the electors in 1865 (5 July; see No. 6). Grosvenor again spoke first. Mill rose “amid the loud cheers of the audience.”
electors of westminster—I need hardly now add non-electors, for I believe and hope that by far the greater part of those whom I have now the honour to address, if they were not electors formerly, are so now. If they are not electors now, they will be as soon as the obstacles thrown in the way shall have been removed as far as possible, as I trust they will be, by the new Parliament. I therefore need not say electors and non-electors—but I will say old electors and new electors of Westminster—the question, the issue, which is presented to you at this general election I take to be as simple an issue as ever came before an electoral body. You have not got to decide between one Liberal and another, or between one school or one shade of Liberalism and another. There are constituencies that have this choice to make, and I can conceive that when they have this choice to make there may be difficulties and grounds for much discussion and difference of opinion; and I hope that the constituencies that may find themselves in this position will come to some clear decision and understanding before it comes to the day of pollinga, and thereby destroy all hope of Tory candidates being returned at the head of the polla —(hear, hear)—and I speak this disinterestedly. The example which has just now been set in the great new borough of Chelsea—that example is well worthy of imitation by Liberals of all shades. I deeply regret that Mr. Odger—(cheers)—has been under the necessity—as a man of honour, and as a man who preferred his cause to himself, Liberalism and the good of his country to his personal feelings or vanity, or even his own opinions—to retire from the candidature for the representation of Chelsea.1 I applaud Mr. Odger. I highly appreciate his conduct, and I deeply regret that he is the candidate who has had to retire. (Interruption.) I hope that those who supported him in his candidature will support the Liberal causeb, and that they will be united, Liberals of all shades of opinion, in the grand and paramount object of keeping out a Toryb . In this city you have no such choice to make. It is not between Liberal and Liberal, or even between professed Liberal and professed Liberal. It is between Liberals and Tories, or rather a Tory. aI am not aware that the gentleman who has presented himself—as he did before—to oppose your present members claims your suffrages on any other grounds than that of being a Tory.c2 I am not aware that he gives you any other reason to support him, excepting that he will support a Tory Ministry. The question before you is the simplest possible. It is whether you, who have got a Reform Bill, will have as the fruits of that Reform Bill a Tory Administration? (No, no.) Will you have a popular and Liberal representative system and a Tory Government? (No, no.) It would be peculiarly out of place if you were to have any hesitation on this subject. (Interruption.)
The Chairman hoped that the meeting would keep quiet, as they would then be able to hear Mr. Mill.
It would be peculiarly out of place if any Liberal—more especially any advanced Liberal—were to have any hesitation on this subject, when the Liberal party has such a chief as I venture to say it has not had for centuries. (Cheers.) I do not believe that any one here will contradict me when I say that the one statesman in this country who, perhaps, more than any other within living memory has the confidence of the people, is Mr. Gladstone—(loud cheers)—who has the confidence of the mass of the people. The public believe that he is one who plans measures for the public good, who invites public support, who does not wait until there is a cry raised outside, not merely for something, but for the precise measure he brings forward; but he employs his own mind, his time, and thought to devise measures for the public good, and endeavours to put in practice the means of successfully carrying them. (Cheers.) With such a man at the head of the Liberal party, dwho is, in my opinion, the only possible chief of the Liberal party at the present day,d I think any Liberal, of any shade whatever, would prove himself to be false to his principles if he were—I won’t say to vote for a Tory against persons who would support Mr. Gladstone, but if he failed to vote for those who would support Mr. Gladstone. When the choice is between persons who would support Mr. Gladstone and those who would vote against him, the choice, as I say, is extremely simple. (Cheers.) There are some persons, whose Liberalism is not insincere, ewho flatter themselves with what appears to me an extremely false and misapplied notion,e who fancy it is not of much importance who is Minister, and who think there is perhaps some advantage in having the Tories in place, because when they are in place you can force them to pass Liberal measures, which, if they were out of place, they would oppose. (Oh.) According to this you are to give them place and office in order that you may make them the instruments of carrying things against their convictions. Now, I do not mean to say anything about the morality of this. Your own minds will say whether it is a good thing to hold out inducements to make people, in the greatest of matters, act against their convictions? (Hear, hear.) I won’t enter into this at all, but what I will say is this—you have no occasion to do it. If you return a sufficient majority to the House of Commons you are sure to carry any measure which you deliberately say you ought to have. (Cheers.) We are told you can carry measures through the House of Commons, but that the Tories are masters of the House of Lords, and that if you turn out the Tories they won’t let Mr. Gladstone’s measures pass through the House of Lords. (A cry,—Do away with them, then.) We will see what this comes to. This would be making the House of Lords determine who should form the Government of this country. (Hear, hear.) That was a power which the House of Lords never had before, and which they never claimed. The House of Lords has the power to prevent the passing of laws, or rather, I should say, of delaying them for some years. (A laugh.) The power of refusing to pass laws has gone by, or you would never have had the Reform Bill. (Hear, hear.) Of all the great measures which have made this country so improved as it is from what it was in Tory times, there is not one which the House of Lords has not resisted as long as it could. If they had succeeded, you would neither have had Parliamentary Reform nor measures so comparatively unimportant as the abolition of church rates3 or the admission of Jews to equal power with other people.4 Great or small, the House of Lords has shown its desire to prevent good legislation. In order to bribe them to get laws passed a little sooner than you could by a strong administration of your own, you are to give them the power of framing those bills and drawing them up. You know that their drawing up would be as far from your wishes as the Reform Bill brought in by the present Government was like the Reform Bill that passed the House. (Hear, hear.) You are asked to give them the power of framing bills in order that effect may be given to your political purposes. You are to give them a power of enjoying a government which was not their right even under the old constitution before the constitution was reformed. The House of Lords never claimed the power to say what should be the Government. Now you are to give the Lords power to cover the bench with Tory justices. They have covered half the bench with Tories during the two years they have been in power already. You are to give them power to cover the bench of bishops with Tories. You are to give them the power to appoint governors and viceroys. They are not so bad as to make all Tories, for they have done something better than that; their power in that direction is limited, but unlimited is the evil of holding out a prospect to ambitious people throughout the country to induce them to become Tories in order to gratify their ambition. The wavering man, the active lawyer, the active and rising clergyman, and the military man, or the civil servant of the Crown, who would like to have a governorship—all these are things to tempt a Tory Government to remain in power. But if these principles were acted upon, personal interest would be so placed against public duty that you could only rely on those few who would prefer their duty to their interest. I do not think we can do without people who used, during the time of Oliver Cromwell, to be called self-seekers.5 It would not do to put them against us. There are always enemies enough to good. Let us suppose that you really would get better measures from the Tories than you could by displacing them for Mr. Gladstone and the Liberal party. I am far from thinking it is so; but supposing it is, how do you get them? It will be by compulsion. Their business will be to get into Parliament people who will not compel them. Your business is to get in people who will. If we want to get in a Tory Government for the purpose of extracting Radical measures from them, as has been sometimes done before now—(cheers)—the way to do it is to put in as many men as you can who won’t let them stay there unless they do pass these measures. (Cheers.) So that, whether you expect to get good measures from a Liberal Government or a Tory Government, your course must be to send Liberal men to Parliament. The more supporters you send to Mr. Gladstone the better measures he will give. Mr. Disraeli will give better measures the more opponents you send. I do not think that the gentleman started in the Tory interest in this great city is likely to compel Mr. Disraeli to grant Liberal measures. It is possible that he might be willing to follow him. (Laughter.) That is not what we want. That is not what Mr. Disraeli wants. He wants people who will be Tories with him; or, if he turns Radical, will be Radical with him. (Laughter.) If you want him to turn Liberal you must send Liberals there. (Hear, hear.) I do not like to charge anybody with, or to suspect anybody of insincerity. Suppose the Tories, from Mr. Disraeli through the Cabinet down to those who voted with him on Reform, are perfectly sincere, and that they are glad they passed it—I do not think this true of them all—(laughter)—I am not sure it is true of any—(laughter)—but suppose it is—suppose they really rejoiced in the Reform Bill, and thought it would be a good thing. If they thought it would be a good thing—why, it must be because they thought it would bring forth fruits for them. Now what sort of fruits must it produce for them to be pleased at? (Laughter.) I like to believe what people say whenever I can. I think there is no time when we can more believe what a man says of himself than when it is to his own disadvantage; and when Mr. Disraeli says he is a Tory I believe him. (Laughter.) If Mr. Disraeli be a Tory and supports Tories, and they think the Reform Bill an excellent measure, what must be the consequence? They must expect the consequence to be Tory measures and Tory administration. If they do think so I do not think you would thank them for it. (Laughter.) If they are sincere they must think that you, who are new electors below ten pounds, are Tories at heart; but, unless you are so, I hope you will show them the contrary. (Hear, hear.) That is one thing they may say; or they may think you are not Tories, but that you are more subject than other electors to intimidation—that you can be forced to vote against your convictions. Well, I hope you will show them you won’t do that. I dare say there are some who are good enough to think you are more bribeable than others. I am quite certain you will fling that imputation in their faces, at all events. (Hear, hear.) Did they give you a Reform Bill because they were afraid of Hyde Park meetings, or did they believe it to be a good measure? If they thought so, they must think the new electors would vote for them, and that the new electors want Tory measures and a Government more Tory than it is. The people who think that, think that you are bribeable, or can be forced into voting against your consciences. Europe and America have their eyes on this country at this moment. They want to see whether the masses of this country who have received the franchise are worthy of it or not. They want to see whether the working classes of this country, who have never before had any participation in the franchise, have got opinions of their own, and will insist upon having such men as they believe will exercise their minds upon such legislation as will give them a full share of the social advantages which they think, and to a great degree reasonably, that they have not yet had. (Cheers.) I do not think that is what the Tories mean. It is a simple question you have to decide. You have to decide whether your interests are better served by the Liberals than by the Tories. If by the Liberals, then vote for the Liberals. If you can get a better Liberal than I am, I will give way to him at once. (Hear, hear.) Only I think it is not fair to ask you to dismiss me for a Tory. I do not think he will serve you better. I have nothing further to say, except that I shall be happy to answer any question and to listen to any gentleman who has any remarks to make or any objections to offer, or suggestions for the future. Such meetings as these are the proper occasions for putting questions to representatives or candidates, and for asking them to explain anything that requires explanation. I shall be happy to listen to any objections, and to answer to the best of my ability.
[The Chair announced a question about the candidates’ willingness to admit local decisions in parishes and townships to prohibit by a 2/3 majority the sale of intoxicating liquors.]
The Honourable Mr. Grosvenor: The only answer I can give is this, that if 999 people out of 1,000 were to combine to prevent the other unit from doing the thing which he had a perfect right to do, they should have no assistance from me. (Loud cheers.)
Mr. Mill: My colleague has expressly stated my views. (Cheers.) I will not weaken his words, but will simply give my adhesion. (Cheers.)
[Mr. Anderson, a City Missionary, expressed great regret at these answers, and asked, amidst much interruption, whether the Members would vote for the Permissive Bill.6 ]
Mr. Grosvenor said that the gentleman who had put the question had stated that the poor man ought to have the same law as the rich man. He would ask how that was to be, if the rich man could enter his place of refreshment and amusement, if need be, at any time on the Sunday, and yet the poor man was not to have any similar privilege. (Cheers.)
Mr. Mill thought it might be said further, that one effect of closing these places on Sundays would be to increase houses for “tippling”—(hear, hear)—and intoxication would be much less under control than it was at present.7
An Elector: It is reported that Mr. Mill is opposed to the equalisation of rates.
Mr. Mill: I am in favour of the equalisation of poor-rates in one town or city, however large, but not for the nation.
[A question was asked about the funds of the Irish Church; Grosvenor indicated no answer was as yet possible.]
Mr. Mill: Without being able to say with precision exactly the way in which the funds should be distributed, I think there are certain facts which must be observed.8 They must be used for Irish purposes. They are Irish. They come from Irish land and Irish produce. They must not be given for the endowment, wholly or partially, of any religious body whatever—(cheers)—nor to any exclusive denominational system of education; but that they shall be applied to the more pressing social needs of Ireland—by preference, perhaps, to unsectarian and undenominational education.
In answer to other questions,
fAs regarded the ballot he (Mill) desired to say that he was as much against it as ever—(hear, hear)—because he considered that what was a trust for the public ought to be exercised in the eye of the public, and if the working classes would only stand by one another as in the case of trades unions, he felt they would be able to prevent their being compelled to vote against their consciences. (Cheers.)f
Respecting the bill for giving legal security to the funds of trades’ unions,9 [Grosvenor said while some protection should be given, he could not pledge himself to the details of any present measure.]
Mr. Mill could not pretend that he had examined the provisions of the bill drawn up on behalf of trades’ unions, but he was perfectly clear about two things—that it ought not to be in the power of any one to rob them, and, as long as people were members, they should be liable for their subscriptions.
[Lyulph Stanley moved approval of the two Members, attacking Smith, referring to rumours that had “passed in Mr. Mill’s absence,” and declaring his own adherence to Mill’s position concerning Governor Eyre. Mr. B. White referred favourably to Mill’s correspondence with Bouverie. “Some people said that this correspondence would cost Mr. Mill hundreds of votes, and even his seat. (Loud cries of No, no.) He was sure that, so far from this being the case, the constituency would rally round Mr. Mill, and support him the more.” The resolution was passed unanimously, and Grosvenor and Mill moved thanks to the Chair, and the meeting concluded.]
[1 ]George Odger (1820–77), trade unionist, Secretary of the London Trades Council, having failed to gain election in Staffordshire, had put his name forward in Chelsea, but had retired to avoid splitting the left-Liberal vote (Dilke was elected).
[b-b]+TT [in past tense]
[c-c]DN The gentleman who was now before them as a supporter of the present government did not base his claims upon anything other than the fact that he would vote with Mr. Disraeli, and it was well known that no measures of reform were proposed by that right honourable gentleman of his own free will. (Cheers.)] MS The more opponents Mr. Disraeli had the better measures he would give. He (Mr. Mill) did not think the Tory candidate would compel Mr. Disraeli; he possibly might follow him.
[2 ]W.H. Smith, who had been defeated by Grosvenor and Mill in 1865.
[d-d]+TT [in third person, past tense]
[e-e]+TT [in third person, past tense]
[3 ]By 31 & 32 Victoria, c. 109 (1868).
[4 ]Initially by 21 & 22 Victoria, c. 49 (1858), and then by 29 Victoria, c. 19 (1866).
[5 ]Oliver Cromwell (1599–1658), a member of parliament from 1628, and Lord Protector 1653–58. For the term, see Edward Symmons (fl. 1640s), Royalist divine, The First Sermon, Entitled “The Ecclesiastical Selfe-seeking” (1632), in Four Sermons (London: Crooke, 1642).
[6 ]A constantly reintroduced measure, the next version of which was “A Bill to Enable Owners and Occupiers of Property in Certain Districts to Prevent the Common Sale of Intoxicating Liquors within Such Districts,” 32 Victoria (22 Feb., 1869), PP, 1868–69, IV, 285–90.
[7 ]For Mill’s response to an elector who objected to these answers, see CW, Vol. XVI, p. 1480.
[8 ]The reference is to the Liberal proposals that would eventually be incorporated in “A Bill to Put an End to the Establishment of the Church of Ireland, and to Make Provision in Respect of the Temporalities Thereof, and in Respect of the Royal College of Maynooth” (1 Mar., 1869), PP, 1868–69, III, 85–116; enacted as 32 & 33 Victoria, c. 42 (1869).
[f-f]DN] DT Mr. Mill stated his reasons for disliking the ballot. He thought a public trust should be exercised in a public manner.
[9 ]It was known that in the next session there would be introduced “A Bill to Amend the Law Relating to Trade Combinations and Trade Unions,” 32 Victoria (9 Apr., 1869), PP, 1868–69, V, 323–8.