Front Page Titles (by Subject) 134.: The Westminster Election of 1868  4 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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134.: The Westminster Election of 1868  4 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 
Morning Star, 5 November, 1868, p. 2. Headed: “Election Intelligence. Westminster.” The report in the Daily Telegraph, though shorter, contains some details not in the Morning Star. The brief account in the Daily News contains no additional matter. In a letter to John Plummer on 5 November, Mill commented that he had said “a good deal at the meeting yesterday” about “the expense of elections and the difficulty of getting working men’s candidates into Parliament,” but “it was not reported” in the newspapers (LL, CW, Vol. XVI, p. 1479; cf. ibid., p. 1484). Mill and Grosvenor again addressed their constituents in an evening public meeting, chaired by J.F. Pratt, in Caldwell’s Assembly Rooms, Dean Street, Soho, where in “the gallery and front seats were a good many ladies.” Grosvenor, speaking first, alluded to his record and attacked that of the Government, saying it would be necessary to reform the Reform Bill in the next Parliament. Mentioning that he favoured the ballot, he referred to Mill’s dissent on this issue, the only point of discord between them, and said (to applause) that the electors should not turn from Mill on this one point. After dealing with other questions of the day, Grosvenor concluded, and Mill rose, and was “accorded a reception of quite a remarkable character. All present stood up and for some time waved their hats and handkerchiefs, and cheered with much genuine enthusiasm.”
mr. mill remarked that it was now three years since the electors of Westminster were last called upon to select their representatives in the House of Commons. He was one of those in whom they reposed their confidence on that occasion, and he came now before them to seek for their verdict as to the manner in which he had discharged that trust; and, if they approved of his conduct, to ask for a renewal of their confidence. (Cheers.) But they had something more important to do than to express their judgment on the merits or demerits of any one individual. They had important public issues to effect. An expression of opinion by a large and important place like the city of Westminster exercised a good deal of influence, and it therefore depended upon them, to a great extent, as to how other districts would vote and decide. They had to decide, to some extent, whether the new Parliament should be under a Liberal or a Tory Administration. (Cries of Liberal, and cheers.) That was to say, whether the important work that remained to be done was to be accomplished by persons whose hearts were in the work—(hear, hear)—or whether it was to be continued to be entrusted to persons who would do it only by compulsion. (Hear, hear.) He did not mean to say that the Tories were opposed to all sorts of improvement—indeed, in the present day no political body of men could exist for any length of time that would be entirely opposed to improvement; but he thought he was justified in saying that the Tories were not in general distinguished by having the spirit of improvement exceedingly strong in them. (Laughter.) He therefore thought that they would not be satisfied to entrust the important work that remained to be accomplished in the hands of people who would not perform it unless they were driven to it. (Hear, hear, Hyde Park, and cheers.) He had heard a good deal about intimidation. (Hear, hear.) Carrying on the business of the country by intimidating the Government was a thing he was not fond of. That was the strange system by which legislation on the Reform question had been accomplished. aThe adhesion of the Tories to change was only to be got by persuading them that it was more dangerous to refuse than to make improvements. (Hear, hear.) These were not the qualities of the rulers of the country; and he did not think the electors would entrust improvements to those who had to be frightened into making them. (Loud cheers.) He was no more favourable to government by intimidation than to voting by intimidation; but he thought, like Burke, that such acts of pressure were the occasional medicine of the Constitution, and ought not to be its daily bread. (Hear, hear.)a1 Such a system was troublesome and expensive, and was, besides, not creditable to the country. (Hear, hear.) On the whole, he thought it was much better to put the work into the hands of those who did not want to be whipped into doing it. (Hear, hear.) Mr. Mill then proceeded to touch upon the proceedings in Parliament during the past session, particularly the efforts that were made to reduce election expenses, and to take them out of the public purse of the district in which the election takes place instead of out of the purses of the candidates. It had been said that this would be shabby. He asked would it be shabby to defray the election expenses of such a man as Mr. Odger—(cheers)—who had come forward for Chelsea, and had conducted his candidature with an amount of straightforwardness and honour that might well be emulated by some of his betters; or the election expenses of Mr. Edmond Beales—(great cheering)—who had been mulcted some thousands of pounds on account of openly expressing his views on political affairs?2 (Hear, hear, and cheers.) On the contrary, he thought it would be shabby to ask these gentlemen to defray the cost of their election. (Hear, hear.) bIn support of his opinion, Mr. Mill referred to the action of the Tory party on Professor Fawcett’s proposal3 to throw the expenses of the returning officers at elections on the public, and Mr. Schreiber’s motion to postpone the municipal elections till after the Parliamentary elections, which were made during last session.4b As for bribery at elections, the attempt made to do away with that disgraceful practice he attached little importance to. He believed that before they could successfully put an end to bribery at parliamentary elections they must first of all check effectually bribery at municipal elections. He fully agreed with the evidence given on this point by the solicitor of the late Governor Eyre.5 (Hisses, cries of Hang him, and general commotion.) That evidence was, in effect, that the corruption at municipal elections was the school and nursery of the bribery at parliamentary elections. (Hear, hear, and cheers.) It happened that municipal elections occurred this year immediately before the parliamentary elections, so that the opportunities and inducements for corruption became much enhanced. An endeavour was made to have the municipal elections this year postponed until after the general election; but notwithstanding what had been stated by the Tory authority to whom he had alluded, the postponement would not be granted. What object the Government had in opposing the postponement of the municipal elections he would leave to his hearers to judge. He would not undertake to say that the majority of the Tory party thought it would be serviceable to them to have a little corruption this one time more—(a laugh)—but they at all events opposed the separation of the two elections. (Shame.) Whatever the motives of the Tories were, he thought the carrying out of the Reform Bill and those other great questions in which they were all alike interested, ought not to be left in such hands. (We don’t mean it, and Hear, hear.) After repeating some matters in connection with his conduct inParliament, which have been already published, Mr. Mill went on to say that he was ready and desirous to answer any questions which they wished to have answered. cHe said that, being anxious to give opportunity for the asking of questions, he would not allude to other subjects, except that of which Captain Grosvenor had spoken. He regretted to find himself conscientiously opposed to many of the Liberal party, though not in principle, upon the ballot question. He abominated intimidation even more than bribery. Of two bad things, he disliked less the inducing people to do wrong by doing good for them than compelling them to do wrong by taking something from them. (Laughter and cheers.) He would not sacrifice permanent principles to temporary advantage; and the ballot would give a temporary advantage, because the cause of democracy was growing too strong to tolerate intimidation much longer—if all men would stand by each other as the members of the trades’ unions did—while it was a permanent principle that a public duty should be performed in public. (Cheers.) He stood by his opinions. (Loud cheers.) If he was wrong, he would be beaten in the end; so they could afford to let him have his way. (Laughter and cheers.)c
An Elector wished to know the candidates’ opinions on the Permissive Bill.6
Captain Grosvenor: I am against the Permissive Bill. (Cheers.)
Mr. Mill: I am against allowing the majority in any place to make laws regulating the tastes and morality of the minority. (Cheers.)
[Following the question period after Mill’s speech, a resolution of support for the Members was spoken to by Fawcett, who also received enthusiastic applause; he described Mill as “that great statesman, that good man, that illustrious thinker, and that eminent philosopher.” The meeting ended with “Cheers for Gladstone and the two sitting members for Westminster and Professor Fawcett,” the proceedings being “throughout of a remarkably earnest and enthusiastic character.”]
[1 ]Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), in Works, Vol. III, p. 95.
[2 ]Beales had been a Revising Barrister in Middlesex from 1862 to 1866 when, because of his political agitation, he was refused reappointment.
[3 ]See No. 120.
[4 ]See No. 128.
[5 ]Mill apparently confuses Philip Rose, the Conservative agent who gave the evidence referred to (see No. 116), with James Anderson Rose (1819–90), Eyre’s solicitor.
[c-c]DT] MS (A voice: The ballot.) As he had before fully explained, he was on principle opposed to the ballot, and he was not prepared to give up that principle. By that principle he meant to stand. If, however, he was wrong, he was sure to be beaten in the end, so that they need not be afraid to let him have his way in this particular.
[6 ]See No. 133, n6.