Front Page Titles (by Subject) 138.: The Westminster Election of 1868  11 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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138.: The Westminster Election of 1868  11 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, 12 November, 1868, p. 2. Headed: “Election Movements. / Westminster.” Also reported in the Morning Star, and the Daily News. The evening meeting of the electors of St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields and St. Mary-le-Strand was held in the Polygraphic Hall, King William Street, James Beal in the Chair (the Morning Star says the Rev. D. Bailey chaired). Grosvenor spoke first. Mill was greeted with “immense cheering” (Morning Star) by the large audience.
mr. mill began,amid some cheering, by saying it was very gratifying to see what is going on in the country just now when the Reform Bill has been given to the people. While Mr. Disraeli held out the Reform Bill in his hand to them, they would persist in saying, “Thank you, Mr. Gladstone!” (Laughter.) All his talking could not alter their opinion. Had the Tories said that the bill which Mr. Gladstone brought in1 did not go far enough, and that no invidious distinctions should be made, what a pleasant time the Commons would have had, what a happy family they would have been! (Laughter.) They would have carried the Amendment Bill, would have saved a vast deal of time, a good many broken palings, and perhaps a few broken heads. (Laughter and cheers.) Perhaps Mr. Disraeli might say he had not then educated his party.2 He did not think Mr. Disraeli intended to educate his party at that time, but he could not help thinking that Mr. Disraeli and Lord Derby, being religious men, as shown by their wish to preserve the Irish Church, intended to carry out a text of Scripture, but had forgotten what it was. (A laugh.) Christ said, if a man wants you to go with him a mile, go with him twain.3 Lord Derby and Mr. Disraeli evidently thought that in order to get their party to go with them a mile one way, they must take them two miles in another. aNo man or body of men who desired to stand well with the people of England could succeed by saying one thing and meaning another, the very suspicion of anything of the kind being enough to destroy such persons in popular estimation (hear, hear).a They had in Mr. Gladstone a statesman whose yea is yea and whose nay is nayb. (Cheers.) When he made up his mind he followed it out and therefore the people reposed a confidence in him which they could not do in a man whose policy, feelings, and intentions were not as they should be in order to be popular with what was called the multitude, namely, transparent as the day. (Cheers.)b If they wanted to know the truth about a man they should hear what his enemies said of him. They could not say he was an hypocrite. They said he was precipitate and rash in divulging his opinions. He (Mr. Mill) denied that Mr. Gladstone spoke his mind too freely or without due consideration. It was Mr. Gladstone who, in Lord Palmerston’s Government, spoke out, and said that Reform had been promised and must be given.4cWhen he (Mr. Mill) read that in a foreign country he predicted that Mr. Gladstone would be the best abused man in England by a certain class.c And had not that been so? (Yes.) Did they believe one word of the aspersions cast on him? (No.) The move the Liberal party was making related to no grievance to England, but to the injury done to Ireland by the maintenance of the Irish Church.5 Englishmen knew that to be a source of irritation to a people with whom they wish to be in close friendship, therefore they wished to get rid of it. They could not make the English Church an Irish Church. If the English Church wanted a branch there, let them endow it from their own funds, without taking anything of the lands or tithes of Ireland. (Hear, hear.) He related many instances of the severity practised under English rule in Ireland for centuries, remarking that the Irish Church is the one relic left of the system which treated the Irish as a conquered and alien people. dHe entered at some length on the question of the tenure of land in Irelandd , recommending the establishment of a tenant right similar to that which has worked so well under the 30 years’ lease system in some parts of India. If this security, not to be turned out, were given to the Irishman, he would know that any improvement he might make would be for the benefit of himself and his family, and that he was safe in his possession so long as he paid his rent. That, however, was a question which was much more likely to be properly dealt with by a Liberal than by a Tory Government, inasmuch as the latter would be entirely bound up in the landlordse; and he hoped that in the approaching election they would send the Liberal party to power, and that that party would approach these questions in a sincere spirite . If the Irish Church were abolished, and the land question were settled on some such basis as he had sketched, the Irishman would give his hand to the Englishman, and the two nations would be as they had never yet been before—an united people. (Cheers.)
fAn elector in the body of the room said he had heard it stated that Mr. Mill had been guilty of forging an order for some theatre. (Laughter.) He wanted to give Mr. Mill an opportunity of denying it .
Mr. Mill: I am much obliged to the gentleman for giving this new instance of what length the Tories will go to, which justifies what I have said in another place, that they stick at nothing. I need hardly say I never heard one word of this charge before, and if it ever happened to anybody there must be some mistake about the name.
Another elector asked if the honourable candidates were in favour of closing the public houses on Sunday. [Grosvenor would not pledge himself to the view that the public houses should be closed altogether.]
Mr. Mill: It would not be just, while the rich are able to get access to wine and other intoxicating drinks on Sundays at their clubs, to pass a law that would make it impossible for the poor to obtain refreshment of a similar character on that day.f
Captain Grosvenor was against the law; as was Mr. Mill, who criticised the present law as an abominable one.
Another elector asked respecting bankruptcy and imprisonment for debt.
Mr. Mill said he did not think there should be any punishment—which imprisonment was—for debtors who were blameless. But there should be punishment for debtors who were not blameless.gMr. Mill, in answer to another question, said that no law could be too strong to enforce the education of the community.
In reply to questions, Captain Grosvenor declined to say anything as to the disunion of Church and State.
Mr. Mill believed all connection between Church and State to be an injury to both; but as the State was more liberal than the Church, and might exercise an influence on clergymen, he thought the question might be allowed to sleep for a time.
A middle-aged man in the meeting asked the honourable candidates if they were against the separation of married couples in workhouses. The querist seemed to be so likely to have a direct interest in the matter, that the audience laughed loudly at his question.
Captain Grosvenor: I am very much against married couples going into workhouses at all. (Great laughter arose at the pointed application of this reply to the able-bodied man who had introduced the subject.) I do not see what they should marry for if they go to a workhouse; but if unfortunate circumstances reduce them to poverty, they will have become so sick of one another that in the workhouse they will be very glad to be separated. (Hisses. That will not do, Grosvenor!)
Mr. Mill: Then see if this will do. I think that for old people and for infirm people the workhouse should be made a place of comfort (hear, hear), but I think that for young people and for able-bodied people the workhouse should be a place of discomfort. (Cheers.) They ought not to be able to enjoy all the advantages of self-support while receiving support from others. I would separate married people if young and able-bodied; but I would not separate them if old. (Hear, hear.)
[The customary vote of confidence in the candidates was moved, seconded, and carried unanimously amid great cheering, and a vote of thanks to the Chair concluded the meeting.]
[1 ]In 1866; see No. 15.
[2 ]In his speech at Edinburgh on 29 October, 1867; cf. No. 135.
[3 ]Matthew, 5:41.
[a-a]+MS] DN No man who wished to . . . as MS . . . England would . . . as MS . . . another. (Hear, hear.) The very suspicion of that was enough to destroy a man in the popular estimation. (Hear, hear.)
[b-b]DN] DT , and to that he attributed the placing in Mr. Gladstone of a degree of confidence which had been rare indeed in England of late years.] MS , and who, when he had made up his mind upon a subject, was not to be swerved away from carrying out the intentions he had formed.
[4 ]E.g., speech of 11 May, 1864, PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 175, cols. 312–27.
[c-c]MS Mr. Gladstone could boast of being the best abused man in England, but the time had come when the people of England found how base were those inventions, as the result of the elections would sufficiently show.
[5 ]Gladstone gave notice of his intended resolutions in his Speech on the Irish Church Establishment (23 Mar., 1868), ibid., Vol. 191, cols. 32–3.
[d-d]DN As to the land question, he said a government, whig, tory, or liberal, must soon turn its attention to this great sore
[g-g]MS] DT Both candidates agreed that a tenant ought not to be liable for the debts of his landlord. Mr. Mill was of opinion that in some cases bankrupts should be liable to more severe punishment than can be inflicted under the present laws.
[6 ]4 George II, c. 28 (1731) had extended the landlord’s right under common law to seize the personal chattels of a tenant to include the goods of lodgers. (Lodgers were protected later by 34 & 35 Victoria, c. 79 .) In the text the questioner uses “landlord” to signify a tenant who leases from the primary landlord, and himself lets to lodgers.