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John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part I November 1850 - November 1868 [1850]

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John Stuart Mill, 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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About this Title:

Vol. 28 of the 33 vol. Collected Works contains Mill’s electoral and parliamentary speeches from 1865-1868, including those on the right of women to vote, the Reform Bill, the riots in Jamaica, India, and smoking in railway carriages.

Copyright information:

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.

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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.

Table of Contents:

Edition: current; Page: [i]
volume xxviii
Edition: current; Page: [ii]

The Collected Edition of the Works of John Stuart Mill has been planned and is being directed by an editorial committee appointed from the Faculty of Arts and Science of the University of Toronto, and from the University of Toronto Press. The primary aim of the edition is to present fully collated texts of those works which exist in a number of versions, both printed and manuscript, and to provide accurate texts of works previously unpublished or which have become relatively inaccessible.

Editorial Committee

john m. robson, General Editor

harald bohne, j.c. cairns, j.b. conacher,

d.p. dryer, marion filipiuk, francess halpenny,

samuel hollander, r.f. mcrae, ian montagnes,

f.e.l. priestley, ann p. robson, f.e. sparshott

Edition: current; Page: [iii]
Public and Parliamentary Speeches
November 1850 - November 1868
Edited by JOHN M. ROBSON University Professor and Professor of English, Victoria College, University of Toronto and BRUCE L. KINZER Associate Professor of History University of North Carolina at Wilmington
Introduction by BRUCE L. KINZER Textual Introduction by JOHN M. ROBSON
Edition: current; Page: [iv]

© University of Toronto Press 1988

Toronto and Buffalo

Printed in Canada

ISBN 0–8020–2693–1

London: Routledge

ISBN 0–415–03791–3

ISBN 0–415–03793-X (set)


Printed on acid-free paper

Canadian Cataloguing in Publication data

Mill, John Stuart, 1806–1873.


Collected works of John Stuart Mill

Includes bibliographies and indexes.

partial contents: v. 28–29.

Public & parliamentary speeches /

edited by John M. Robson and Bruce L. Kinzer.

ISBN 0–8020–2693–1 (v. 28–29).

1. - Collected works. 2. - Collected works.

I. Robson, John M., 1927-

II. Title.

B1602.A2 1963 192 C65–188–2 rev.

This volume has been published with the assistance of a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

Edition: current; Page: [v]


  • Introduction, by Bruce L. Kinzer xiii
  • Textual Introduction, by John M. Robson lxiii
  • November 1850 to July 1865
    • 1. Secular Education (after 4 Nov., 1850?) 3
    • 2. Cooperation (28 Mar., 1864) 5
    • 3. Corruption at Elections (4 Apr., 1864) 9
    • 4. Hare’s Plan for the Metropolis (10 Apr., 1864) 11
    • 5. The Westminster Election of 1865 [1] (3 July, 1865) 13
    • 6. The Westminster Election of 1865 [2] (5 July, 1865) 18
    • 7. The Westminster Election of 1865 [3] (6 July, 1865) 28
    • 8. The Westminster Election of 1865 [4] (8 July, 1865) 31
    • 9. The Westminster Election of 1865 [5] (10 July, 1865) 40
    • 10. The Westminster Election of 1865 [6] (10 July, 1865) 42
    • 11. The Westminster Election of 1865 [7] (12 July, 1865) 43
  • February to August 1866
    • 12. The Cattle Diseases Bill [1] (14 Feb., 1866) 47
    • 13. The Cattle Diseases Bill [2] (16 Feb., 1866) 50
    • 14. Suspension of Habeas Corpus in Ireland (17 Feb., 1866) 52
    • 15. Representation of the People [1] (12 Apr., 1866) 54
    • 16. Representation of the People [2] (13 Apr., 1866) 58
    • 17. Representation of the People [3] (16 Apr., 1866) 69
    • 18. The Malt Duty (17 Apr., 1866) 69
    • 19. Inclosure of Hainault Forest (25 Apr., 1866) 74
    • 20. Representation of the People [4] (26 Apr., 1866) 74
    • 21. Chichester Fortescue’s Land Bill (17 May, 1866) 75
    • 22. Representation of the People [5] (31 May, 1866) 83
    • 23. The Ministerial Crisis (23 June, 1866) 86
    • 24. The Jamaica Committee (9 July, 1866) 90 Edition: current; Page: [vi]
    • 25. Electoral Franchise for Women (17 July, 1866) 91
    • 26. The Disturbances in Jamaica [1] (19 July, 1866) 93
    • 27. The Reform Meeting in Hyde Park [1] (19 July, 1866) 96
    • 28. W.E. Gladstone [1] (21 July, 1866) 96
    • 29. The Reform Meeting in Hyde Park [2] (24 July, 1866) 98
    • 30. The Value of Land (25 July, 1866) 100
    • 31. The Reform Meeting in Hyde Park [3] (26 July, 1866) 101
    • 32. The Reform Meeting in Hyde Park [4] (30 July, 1866) 102
    • 33. The Disturbances in Jamaica [2] (31 July, 1866) 105
    • 34. The Reform Meeting in Hyde Park [5] (2 Aug., 1866) 114
    • 35. Public Health (2 Aug., 1866) 114
    • 36. The Extradition Treaties Act [1] (3 Aug., 1866) 115
    • 37. The Extradition Treaties Act [2] (4 Aug., 1866) 119
    • 38. The Naval Dockyards (4 Aug., 1866) 119
    • 39. The Extradition Treaties Act [3] (6 Aug., 1866) 120
    • 40. The Disturbances in Jamaica [3] (10 Aug., 1866) 123
    • 41. The Lord Chief Baron (10 Aug., 1866) 124
  • February to August 1867
    • 42. Political Progress (4 Feb., 1867) 127
    • 43. Goldwin Smith (4 Feb., 1867) 130
    • 44. The Royal Commission on Trades’ Unions (15 Feb., 1867) 133
    • 45. The Metropolitan Poor Bill [1] (8 Mar., 1867) 134
    • 46. The Straits Settlements (8 Mar., 1867) 135
    • 47. The Metropolitan Poor Bill [2] (8 Mar., 1867) 136
    • 48. The Metropolitan Poor Bill [3] (11 Mar., 1867) 139
    • 49. The Metropolitan Poor Bill [4] (14 Mar., 1867) 141
    • 50. The Reform Bill [1] (8 Apr., 1867) 143
    • 51. Trades Unions (10 Apr., 1867) 144
    • 52. The Reform Bill [2] (11 Apr., 1867) 145
    • 53. The Reform Bill [3] (9 May, 1867) 146
    • 54. The Reform Bill [4] (17 May, 1867) 150
    • 55. The Admission of Women to the Electoral Franchise (20 May, 1867) 151
    • 56. The Municipal Corporations Bill (21 May, 1867) 162
    • 57. The Fenian Convicts (25 May, 1867) 165
    • 58. Reform of Parliament (25 May, 1867) 167
    • 59. The Reform Bill [5] (27 May, 1867) 175
    • 60. Personal Representation (30 May, 1867) 176
    • 61. The Bankruptcy Acts Repeal Bill (4 June, 1867) 187
    • 62. Petition Concerning the Fenians (14 June, 1867) 188 Edition: current; Page: [vii]
    • 63. The Sunday Lectures Bill (19 June, 1867) 190
    • 64. The Libel Bill (25 June, 1867) 193
    • 65. The Reform Bill [6] (27 June, 1867) 194
    • 66. Redistribution (28 June, 1867) 197
    • 67. William Lloyd Garrison (29 June, 1867) 201
    • 68. Martial Law (2 July, 1867) 203
    • 69. The Reform Bill [7] (4 July, 1867) 205
    • 70. Tancred’s Charity Bill (4 July, 1867) 206
    • 71. The Reform Bill [8] (5 July, 1867) 207
    • 72. The Case of Fulford and Wellstead (5 July, 1867) 212
    • 73. The Reform Bill [9] (15 July, 1867) 213
    • 74. Commodore Wiseman and the Turkish Navy [1] (16 July, 1867) 213
    • 75. Commodore Wiseman and the Turkish Navy [2] (22 July, 1867) 214
    • 76. Meetings in Royal Parks [1] (22 July, 1867) 215
    • 77. Public Education (29 July, 1867) 217
    • 78. The Courts-Martial in Jamaica (1 Aug., 1867) 218
    • 79. Meeting in the Tea-Room of the House of Commons (2 Aug., 1867) 219
    • 80. England’s Danger through the Suppression of Her Maritime Power (5 Aug., 1867) 220
    • 81. The Extradition Treaties Act [4] (6 Aug., 1867) 227
    • 82. The Metropolitan Government Bill (7 Aug., 1867) 230
    • 83. The Reform Bill [10] (8 Aug., 1867) 231
    • 84. East India Revenue (12 Aug., 1867) 233
    • 85. Meetings in Royal Parks [2] (13 Aug., 1867) 236
  • February to November 1868
    • 86. Proportional Representation and Redistribution (29 Feb., 1868) 239
    • 87. The Alabama Claims (6 Mar., 1868) 242
    • 88. The State of Ireland (12 Mar., 1868) 247
    • 89. Election Petitions and Corrupt Practices at Elections [1] (26 Mar., 1868) 262
    • 90. Election Petitions and Corrupt Practices at Elections [2] (2 Apr., 1868) 265
    • 91. Procedure in the House: Amendments (21 Apr., 1868) 265
    • 92. Capital Punishment (21 Apr., 1868) 266
    • 93. The Municipal Corporations (Metropolis) Bill [1] (5 May, 1868) 273 Edition: current; Page: [viii]
    • 94. The Established Church in Ireland (7 May, 1868) 276
    • 95. Local Charges on Real Property (12 May, 1868) 277
    • 96. Election Petitions and Corrupt Practices at Elections [3] (21 May, 1868) 279
    • 97. Representation of the People (Scotland) [1] (28 May, 1868) 281
    • 98. Representation of the People (Scotland) [2] (8 June, 1868) 282
    • 99. Married Women’s Property (10 June, 1868) 283
    • 100. Registration of Publications (12 June, 1868) 287
    • 101. Representation of the People (Ireland) (15 June, 1868) 287
    • 102. The Government of India Bill [1] (15 June, 1868) 288
    • 103. Lodger Registration (15 June, 1868) 289
    • 104. Public Schools [1] (16 June, 1868) 289
    • 105. The Municipal Corporations (Metropolis) Bill [2] (17 June, 1868) 290
    • 106. The Government of India Bill [2] (22 June, 1868) 296
    • 107. Public Schools [2] (23 June, 1868) 297
    • 108. The Sea-Fisheries (Ireland) Bill (24 June, 1868) 299
    • 109. Election Petitions and Corrupt Practices at Elections Bill [4] (25 June, 1868) 299
    • 110. The Municipal Corporations (Metropolis) Bill [3] (30 June, 1868) 300
    • 111. Election Petitions and Corrupt Practices at Elections [5] (6 July, 1868) 301
    • 112. Public Schools [3] (7 July, 1868) 304
    • 113. Supply—Post Office (7 July, 1868) 304
    • 114. The Government of India Bill [3] (8 July, 1868) 305
    • 115. Election Petitions and Corrupt Practices at Elections [6] (10 July, 1868) 306
    • 116. Election Petitions and Corrupt Practices at Elections [7] (14 July, 1868) 307
    • 117. The Fenian Prisoners [1] (16 July, 1868) 310
    • 118. Election Petitions and Corrupt Practices at Elections [8] (17 July, 1868) 311
    • 119. Poor Relief [1] (17 July, 1868) 312
    • 120. Election Petitions and Corruppt Practices at Elections [9] (18 July, 1868) 313
    • 121. Imprisonment for Costs on a Dismissed Charge [1] (21 July, 1868) 314
    • 122. The Fenian Prisoners [2] (21 July, 1868) 315
    • 123. Election Petitions and Corrupt Practices at Elections [10] (22 July, 1868) 316 Edition: current; Page: [ix]
    • 124. The Westminster Election of 1868 [1] (22 July, 1868) 319
    • 125. Election Petitions and Corrupt Practices at Elections [11] (23 July, 1868) 325
    • 126. Election Petitions and Corrupt Practices at Elections [12] (24 July, 1868) 327
    • 127. Smoking in Railway Carriages [1] (24 July, 1868) 328
    • 128. The Westminster Election of 1868 [2] (24 July, 1868) 329
    • 129. The Metropolitan Foreign Cattle Market (25 July, 1868) 332
    • 130. Smoking in Railway Carriages [2] (25 July, 1868) 333
    • 131. Imprisonment for Costs on a Dismissed Charge [2] (27 July, 1868) 333
    • 132. Poor Relief [2] (27 July, 1868) 334
    • 133. The Westminster Election of 1868 [3] (2 Nov., 1868) 334
    • 134. The Westminster Election of 1868 [4] (4 Nov., 1868) 341
    • 135. The Westminster Election of 1868 [5] (6 Nov., 1868) 344
    • 136. The Westminster Election of 1868 [6] (9 Nov., 1868) 347
    • 137. Fawcett for Brighton (10 Nov., 1868) 350
    • 138. The Westminster Election of 1868 [7] (11 Nov., 1868) 355
    • 139. The Westminster Election of 1868 [8] (13 Nov., 1868) 358
    • 140. W.E. Gladstone [2] (14 Nov., 1868) 363
    • 141. The Westminster Election of 1868 [9] (16 Nov., 1868) 367
    • 142. The Westminster Election of 1868 [10] (18 Nov., 1868) 369
  • July 1869 to March 1873
    • 143. The Cobden Club (10 July, 1869) 371
    • 144. Women’s Suffrage [1] (18 July 1869) 373
    • 145. The Education Bill (25 Mar., 1870) 381
    • 146. Women’s Suffrage [2] (26 Mar., 1870) 386
    • 147. The Elementary Education Bill (4 Apr., 1870) 391
    • 148. Election to School Boards [1] (22 Oct., 1870) 396
    • 149. Election to School Boards [2] (9 Nov., 1870) 398
    • 150. Women’s Suffrage [3] (12 Jan., 1871) 402
    • 151. The Cumulative Vote (13 Feb., 1871) 409
    • 152. Discussion of the Contagious Diseases Acts (23 Feb., 1871) 411
    • 153. The Army Bill (10 Mar., 1871) 411
    • 154. Land Tenure Reform [1] (15 May, 1871) 416
    • 155. Land Tenure Reform [2] (18 Mar., 1873) 425
    Edition: current; Page: [x]
  • Appendices
    • Appendix A. The Manuscripts 435
    • Appendix B. Questions before Committees of the House of Commons
      • I) Select Committee on Metropolitan Local Government (1866) 437
      • II) Select Committee on Extradition (1868) 542
    • Appendix C. Petitions in the House of Commons (1866–68) 572
    • Appendix D. Manuscript Drafts of Speeches
      • I) No. 6 (1865) 594
      • II) No. 16 (1866) 599
      • III) No. 144 (1869) 604
      • IV) No. 145 (1870) 610
    • Appendix E. Missing Speeches 614
    • Appendix F. War and Peace, by Helen Taylor (1871) 615
    • Appendix G. Textual Emendations 618
    • Appendix H. Index of Persons and Works Cited 623
  • Index 681
  • Facsimiles
    • “Westminster Election: The Nomination in Covent-Garden” Illustrated London News, 22 July, 1865, p. 56 XXVIII, xi
    • “Nomination of Candidates for Westminster at the Hustings, Charing Cross” Illustrated London News, 21 November, 1868, p. 485 facing 370
    • “Miss Mill Joins the Ladies” Judy, 25 November, 1868, pp. 46–7 XXIX, vii
    • “Poor Ireland!” Fun, 28 March, 1868, facing p. 28 432
Edition: current; Page: [xi]
“Nomination of Candidates for Westminster at the Hustings, Charing Cross” Illustrated London News, 21 November, 1868, p. 485 Metropolitan Toronto Library
Edition: current; Page: [xii] Edition: current; Page: [xiii]


were it not for his Westminster years (1865–68), there would be very little to do in the way of editing or introducing John Stuart Mill’s post-London Debating Society speeches. Mill had an impressive facility for putting thoughts into words, written or spoken, but he recognized that he could usually accomplish much more with his pen than with his tongue. He also understood that formal prose was the only medium capable of doing complete justice to the ideas and arguments he wished to convey to his audience. It can be assumed that Mill felt more comfortable at his desk than on the platform or in the House of Commons. The psychological security offered by his study, however, is not responsible for the marked preference he showed for the written word. Mill’s sense of public duty was such that there would have been a great deal more labour for the editors of these volumes had he been persuaded that his goals could be better advanced through speeches than through essays.

Mill delivered very few public speeches before 1865. Those that he did give were of modest length and ambition; they did not attract much notice at the time and they do not call for special analysis now. From his defeat at the 1868 general election until his death in 1873, Mill was certainly a much more active and prominent speech-maker than he had been prior to the 1865 Westminster campaign. The content and context of that activity constitute a distinctive phase in his life-long experience of political engagement. Even so, the intervening parliamentary career, which established Mill as a highly visible figure in the political world of mid-Victorian England, goes far towards explaining the disparity in quantity and dimensions between the pre-1865 and post-1868 public speeches. Of paramount concern are the origin, character, and significance of that career.


the temptation exists to dismiss J.S. Mill’s three years in the House of Commons as a relatively insignificant episode in a life distinguished by extraordinarily influential writings on virtually every subject central to the Edition: current; Page: [xiv] intellectual discourse of his age. Whereas the Autobiography has induced a literature of impressive proportions on Mill’s education, his mental crisis, and his association with Harriet Taylor, nothing like commensurate attention has been paid to the section of this peculiar work that discusses his years in the House of Commons. Such neglect is not the result of the brevity of the treatment he provides. The account of the 1865 to 1868 period of his life, an account that concentrates heavily on his experiences as a candidate and Member of Parliament, constitutes over a tenth of the entire Autobiography (eighteen printed pages are given to these four years—approximately two-thirds of the space allocated to the preceding quarter-century).1 It is not how much Mill says but what he says and how he says it that has made scholars generally indifferent to Mill’s portrayal of his parliamentary career. Although a conception of purpose with regard to his political objectives imparts a focus and a measure of unity to the parliamentary paragraphs, their content lacks the personal dimension so singularly displayed in the early chapters. The cumulative effect of the self-satisfied detachment with which Mill describes his support of parliamentary reform and purity of election, women’s suffrage and personal representation, justice for Ireland and no less for Jamaica, can produce mild irritation, unrelieved by anything twentieth-century readers are disposed to find absorbing or provocative.

The formality and flatness of tone characteristic of Mill’s consideration of these years cannot be attributed to temporal distance. Written less than two years after his defeat at the November 1868 general election, the exposition of the Westminster period drew upon eminently fresh recollections. The distance is rather psychological and rhetorical, serving an argumentative function that is not without paradox. The final portion of the Autobiography embraces an explanation and justification of his political conduct between 1865 and 1868. If the need to explain and justify is responsible for the disproportionate length of the account, that need itself is a consequence of his failure to secure re-election in 1868. Mill patiently builds up his case, making it abundantly clear, if only by implication, that while he lost nothing of substance at the 1868 general election, the electors of Westminster denied themselves the opportunity of being represented by one whose integrity, intellectual weight, and moral authority did honour to his constituents and his country.

An intellectual and moralist in politics? So much can be taken for granted. But the real interest of his parliamentary career lies in its illumination of Mill as politician. The ultimate objectives invariably involved a commitment to the “improvement” or “regeneration” of mankind. His head might be in the air, but Mill always saw himself as a man whose feet were firmly planted on the ground. The successful moralist had to be an able tactician. Mill’s labours, whether in or Edition: current; Page: [xv] out of the House of Commons, always assumed a form consistent with his understanding of the obligation to marry theory and practice. His grasp of political realities may have sometimes been deficient; his sense of politics as “the art of the possible” remained a constant.

Whatever doubts Mill had respecting the advisability of his entering the House of Commons, they did not spring from an apprehension of personal unfitness. A passage in the Autobiography remote from the parliamentary section makes explicit Mill’s supreme confidence in his capacities as a practical man of business. Evaluating the benefits he gained from his long service in the East India Company, Mill observes:

as a Secretary conducting political correspondence, I could not issue an order or express an opinion, without satisfying various persons very unlike myself, that the thing was fit to be done. I was thus in a good position for finding out by practice the mode of putting a thought which gives it easiest admittance into minds not prepared for it by habit; while I became practically conversant with the difficulties of moving bodies of men, the necessities of compromise, the art of sacrificing the non-essential to preserve the essential. I learnt how to obtain the best I could, when I could not obtain everything; instead of being indignant or dispirited because I could not have entirely my own way, to be pleased and encouraged when I could have the smallest part of it; and when even that could not be, to bear with complete equanimity the being overruled altogether. I have found, through life, these acquisitions to be of the greatest possible importance for personal happiness, and they are also a very necessary condition for enabling any one, either as theorist or as practical man, to effect the greatest amount of good compatible with his opportunities.2

A disadvantage of his position at India House, however, was that it excluded him “from Parliament, and public life,” an exclusion to which he “was not indifferent.”3

Mill never questioned his ability to function effectively in the House of Commons. Although there are very good reasons for viewing the nineteenth-century House as a unique institution with distinctive traditions, conventions, and assumptions that had to be learned and understood before a member could feel at home there, Mill in 1865 never considered the possibility that his full acceptance and recognition would require a period of apprenticeship. He not only entered the House as an established public figure; he also, as his remarks indicate, had a Edition: current; Page: [xvi] consciousness of himself as a mature and experienced politician. Servant of the East India Company from 1823 until its demise as an agency of government in 1858; erstwhile active member of the London Debating Society; political journalist and editor of the Westminster Review in the 1830s; political theorist habitually aware of the need to comprehend contemporary developments and relate them to his analytical objectives—the Mill of the mid-1860s thought he possessed the credentials and qualities necessary to demonstrate what a member of Parliament should be (as opposed to what most members generally were).


in march of 1865 Mill received a request from James Beal, representing a Committee organized to serve the Radical interest in Westminster, to allow his name to be put forward as a possible candidate for the general election expected to occur before the year was out.4 Beal’s association with Mill was not personal. He believed Mill’s name could carry Westminster and sought to use Mill’s presence in the House to advertise the programme of the Metropolitan Municipal Reform Association, founded by Beal in this same year.5 In Representative Government Mill had criticized both the Corporation of the City of London (“that union of modern jobbery and antiquated foppery”) and the Metropolitan Board of Works,6 the primary targets of Beal’s reform campaign. Assuming he could be elected, Mill’s sponsorship of the Association’s proposals in the House would boost the visibility of the issue and the organization that worked to publicize it.7

In response to Beal’s approach, Mill indicated that he would be willing to stand should a majority of Liberal electors so wish. But he told Beal in no uncertain terms that his would be no ordinary candidacy. Having implied that they were not doing him a favour in offering him the prospect of a seat in Parliament—“All Edition: current; Page: [xvii] private considerations are against my accepting it”—Mill said that, if elected, he would not undertake to look after the constituency’s “local business” in the House of Commons. He went on to observe that a seat in the House interested him only as a vehicle for the promotion of his opinions. The electors were entitled to know the nature of those opinions but they should have no expectation that he would modify them to conform with their own. At this time, however, Mill probably thought more about the contribution he could make as a candidate than as an M.P. If he did not win the opportunity to exemplify the correct modus operandi of a parliamentarian, he might at least draw attention not only to his substantive views on major questions but also to his prescriptive conception of the electoral process. Mill intimated that because it was not quite right for an individual to “want” to be in Parliament, he would do nothing to assist any committee formed to secure his return.

It is the interest of the constituencies to be served by men who are not aiming at personal objects, either pecuniary, official, or social, but consenting to undertake gratuitously an onerous duty to the public. That such persons should be made to pay for permission to do hard & difficult work for the general advantage, is neither worthy of a free people, nor is it the way to induce the best men to come forward. In my own case, I must even decline to offer myself to the electors in any manner; because, proud as I should be of their suffrages, & though I would endeavour to fulfil to the best of my ability the duty to which they might think fit to elect me, yet I have no wish to quit my present occupations for the H. of C. unless called upon to do so by my fellow-citizens.8

Elections should involve the qualifications of the candidates—their principles, opinions, and capabilities. They should not be decided by the longest purse.

Mill was deeply disturbed by what he perceived as the growing influence of money at elections. He informed Beal of his conviction “that there can be no Parliamentary Reform worthy of the name, so long as a seat in Parliament is only attainable by rich men, or by those who have rich men at their back.”9 A man whose Liberal credentials Mill held suspect,10 and whose financial resources were considerable, had already entered the field in Westminster. Captain Robert Wellesley Grosvenor, a nephew of the Marquess of Westminster, had declared his intention of seeking to represent the constituency.11 An inexperienced Liberal barely more than thirty years of age, Grosvenor had little to recommend him but his name and flush connections (usually sufficient recommendations at mid-Victorian Edition: current; Page: [xviii] elections). That Mill felt a special affinity for the Radical tradition of Westminster12 can be accepted as a given; that Grosvenor would do less than justice to that tradition few of advanced persuasion could doubt. If Westminster wished to reclaim its status as the fulcrum of English Radicalism, Mill was inclined to assist if asked.

By mid-April the decision had been made—Beal’s electoral Committee wanted Mill to be their candidate.13 Even before the invitation was issued, Mill had sensed the momentum building in his favour. On 6 April he sanguinely reported to J.E. Cairnes on recent developments:

there is something very encouraging in the enthusiasm which has been excited, both in Westminster and elsewhere, not simply for me, but for the opinion respecting the proper position of a candidate, which I expressed in my letter [to Beal]. . . . The greatest pleasure which public life could give me would be if it enabled me to shew that more can be accomplished by supposing that there is reason and good feeling in the mass of mankind than by proceeding on the ordinary assumption that they are fools and rogues.14

Mill could scarcely have been in a more satisfactory position. He had no intention of allowing the campaign to interfere with his Avignon spring. Beal’s Committee had promoted his candidacy and they could now get on with the task of helping Westminster electors prove themselves something other than “fools and rogues.” As a matter of principle Mill would do nothing to help himself. He could best instruct the voters of England in the value of purity of election by refusing to allow the Westminster contest to distract him from his work in Avignon.15 He planned to return to London in early July16 to await the judgment of the electorate—a judgment less on his qualifications as a candidate than on the wisdom of the Committee that nominated him and the virtue of the electors to whom that Committee made their appeal.17

By the end of April there were three candidates in the field—Grosvenor, Mill, and W.H. Smith. Smith, the son of Victorian England’s most innovative bookseller and now the effective head of the firm, offered himself to the electors as a “Liberal-Conservative.” Tories did not win seats in Westminster, and Smith, while he hoped to win Tory votes, did not come forward as a follower of Lord Derby. He claimed to be “unconnected with either of the great political parties”; he Edition: current; Page: [xix] desired to act “as an independent member at liberty to vote for measures rather than for men”; he declared that he would “not be a party to any factious attempt to drive Lord Palmerston from power.”18 Smith’s aim was to combine the votes of the Conservative minority in Westminster with those of Palmerstonian moderates in sufficient number to outdistance Mill. If the Tories had a candidate in this contest, Smith was it.

What did Mill think of his chances as he passed the month of May in Avignon? He does not seem to have taken Smith very seriously. On 11 May he wrote Edwin Chadwick: “I do not think the Tories expect their man to come in, otherwise some more considerable person would have started in that interest.”19 Yet at the end of the month he informed Max Kyllman that he thought “it hardly possible” his own candidacy “should succeed,”20 a view echoed by Helen Taylor two days later in a letter to Kate Amberley.21 With two seats open and only three candidates, one of whom Mill two weeks earlier had lightly dismissed, it is not easy to see how such pessimism could be justified.

A letter from Chadwick in late May could account for it. Chadwick reported that Mill’s Committee wanted him to return to London to meet with them and the electors. Inasmuch as Mill had given clear indication of his unwillingness to play the part of candidate, the approach through Chadwick did not augur well. Mill, nonetheless, held his ground.

If I were now to attend meetings and make speeches to the electors in the usual . . . manner, it would seem as if there had been no truth in my declaration that I did not personally seek to be in Parliament; as if I had merely been finessing to get myself elected without trouble and expense, and having found more difficulty than I expected, had at last shewn myself in my true colours.22

Shortly thereafter Mill’s Committee became increasingly uneasy about the charges of atheism being levelled against Mill by elements of the metropolitan press. The controversy stemmed from a passage in the recently published Examination of Sir William Hamilton’s Philosophy. Attacking H.L. Mansel’s theology, Mill had stated that he could not worship a God whose goodness could not be comprehended in relation to human morality: “I will call no being good, who is not what I mean when I apply that epithet to my fellow-creatures; and if such a being can sentence me to hell for not so calling him, to hell I will go.”23 In Edition: current; Page: [xx] the late spring and early summer of 1865 perhaps no passage in print received more attention.24 Charles Westerton, a prominent member of Mill’s Committee, suggested that he return to England to answer the allegations of irreligion being hurled at him. On 21 June Mill told Westerton that a candidate’s private religious opinions were no business of the electors. As for his published work, he would not disavow anything he had written, but added that the refusal to worship any God “but a good God” did not make him an atheist. He indignantly declined to dignify the charges brought against him by the likes of the Record and Morning Advertiser by issuing a response.25

Less than a week later, however, Mill agreed to return early to meet with his Committee and to address the electors of Westminster.26 He explained to Chadwick that an urgent letter had arrived from Westerton that left him little choice: “it is due to those who have taken so much trouble about me that I should not give them the impression that for my own convenience I expose them to the probable frustration of all their endeavours.”27 Mill’s Committee had evidently persuaded him that he could win, but not without helping himself. Smith’s candidacy jeopardized Mill’s election because of the strained relations prevailing between the Committees of Grosvenor and Mill.28 Few doubted that Grosvenor would top the poll when the day was done, and Mill’s Committee feared that in the absence of cooperation between the two Liberal candidates many Whiggish Westminster electors would split their two votes between Grosvenor and Smith, leaving Mill odd man out. The Committee therefore wanted Mill to take up the fight against Smith, and to sanction negotiations with Grosvenor’s Committee.

On 30 June Mill, now back at Blackheath Park, told Westerton that he would not meet with either Grosvenor or Grosvenor’s Committee. But if he would not support cooperation between the two Committees, neither would he forbid it. He insisted that the campaign was theirs, not his, and it was for them to decide how to conduct it.29 Before the first week of July was out, an arrangement with Edition: current; Page: [xxi] Grosvenor’s Committee had been concluded. Mill tersely disclosed to Chadwick: “there was nothing for me to do but acquiesce in it.”30

Mill’s “acquiescence” in the deal that was cut by the Committees was the product of the same forces that had moved him to become an “active” candidate. His Committee believed that such a course of action was indispensable to the success of their cause. And now that he was in the thick of it, Mill realized that he too wanted that cause to succeed. He felt most comfortable on the high ground, surveying the battle from an elevated vantage point. But a detachment born of disinterest could not be effectively maintained once the struggle had reached a decisive stage. The role of observer had to be abandoned for that of participant, and Mill descended warily into the contested zone. Having done so, he would not veto the negotiations considered necessary to ensure his return to the House of Commons.


there are several noteworthy features about Mill’s election speeches in July 1865. Not at all surprising is the element of defensiveness in his explanation to his audience of why he had come among them after declaring emphatically that he would not be a candidate in the usual sense. “I was told by those who had good means of judging that many of you desired to know more of me than you have been able to collect from what I have written. Such a statement as that left me no option, for you have a right to know my opinions and to have an opportunity of judging for yourself what man you are to select.” (21.) Mill would not admit to his listeners or to himself that he harboured any ambition to sit in the House of Commons. There is more self-deception than fine calculation or hypocrisy in the way he makes bedfellows of disinterestedness and self-advertisement.

When I stated in my letter [to Beal] that for my own sake I should not desire to sit in Parliament, I meant what I said. I have no personal objects to be promoted by it. It is a great sacrifice of my personal tastes and pursuits, and of that liberty which I value the more because I have only recently acquired it after a life spent in the restraints and confinements of a public office; for, as you may not perhaps know it, and as many people think that a writer of books, like myself, cannot possibly have any practical knowledge of business, it is a fact that I have passed many hours of every day for thirty-five years in the actual business of government.


Characteristically, the interpretation Mill offers of the contest at hand focuses on issues of principle and morality, not personality. If Grosvenor figures in this interpretation at all, it is only by implication. The arrangement made by their respective Committees notwithstanding, Mill could not at this stage recommend Edition: current; Page: [xxii] Grosvenor to the electors of Westminster. After what had transpired, however, neither could he condemn him. The best Mill could do was ignore Grosvenor and behave as though the choice before the voters was between Smith and himself, each representing diametrically opposed versions of what the electoral process was about. If Westminster’s virtue was for sale, Mill suggested, Smith could meet the price. Emphasizing the symbolic importance of the decision Westminster had to make, Mill urged her electors in flattering terms to demonstrate that they could not be bought, by supporting the candidate who preferred the public to the private interest.

It is no exaggeration to say that all eyes are upon you. Every friend of freedom and purity of election in the country is looking to you with anxious feelings. . . . If you elect me and I should turn out a failure . . . you would have nothing to be ashamed of. You would have acted an honest part and done that which at the time seemed to be best for the public good. Can the same thing be said if you return the candidate of a party against which for a century past Westminster has in the most emphatic manner protested, for his money? If this great constituency should so degrade itself it will not only be the deepest mortification to all who put faith in popular institutions, but Westminster will have fallen from her glory, and she can never hold her head as high as she has done, because the progress of popular institutions, which cannot possibly be stopped, will have to go on in future without her.


Mill repeatedly hammered away in his election speeches at the unwholesome influence of money in the British political system. His rhetoric was often quite unlike that he adopted later in the House of Commons. Although he certainly did not hesitate to express his views frankly and forcefully in parliamentary debates, he for the most part phrased his thoughts with a judiciousness frequently absent from his extra-parliamentary speeches. He may have sometimes misjudged his audiences but he invariably sought to manifest a sensitivity to their character and expectations. On 8 July Mill asked his hearers whether they thought it a good thing that the House of Commons should be the preserve of the rich or (an oblique reference to Grosvenor?) “men with rich connections?” Admitting that the rich showed a paternalistic concern for the poor, Mill nonetheless insisted that their fundamental sympathies lay with their own kind. In language that some would probably have considered inflammatory, inciting bad feeling between the poor and their betters, Mill revealed his capacity for platform oratory. The rich

had almost universally a kind of patronising and protective sympathy for the poor, such as shepherds had for their flocks—only that was conditional upon the flock always behaving like sheep. But if the sheep tried to have a voice in their own affairs, he was afraid that a good many shepherds would be willing to call in the wolves.


That Mill had a certain relish for polemical combat had been evident long before his candidature; but he had no time for polemic for the sake of polemic. Moral purpose always informed his engagement in controversy. He might have welcomed the opportunity to pitch his message at a level somewhat beneath that he Edition: current; Page: [xxiii] thought suitable for the printed page or the House of Commons, but for all that, the moral intent of the message was not blunted. Mill felt very strongly that purity of election was essential to a healthy political order. Something nobler than money should determine the outcome of elections. As he saw it, his candidacy was undertaken to promote the integrity of the electoral process, and he would have been derelict had he not drawn attention to this aspect of his campaign.

Mill did not eschew the philosophical in these election speeches, setting forth with clarity and directness the method of his politics and offering his prospective constituents a line of vision that looked beyond the pressures, constraints, and opportunities of the moment. He would readily confess that good will and altruistic motives in themselves did not make the ideal politician—a realistic grasp of immediate difficulties, limitations, and contingencies was essential to working a representative political system to progressive advantage. In effect Mill argued that the best politician was one who used the possibilities inherent in a particular political context to further ultimate objectives favourable to the public interest.

In the nature of things, however, many could not see what the future required of the present. Even well-intentioned and liberal-minded politicians could all too easily succumb to the demands, details, and routines of day-to-day political life, and conclude that acting upon principle was a luxury they could ill afford. Progress could not result from subordinating principle to practice, but from seeking the maximum good in each specific set of circumstances. Mill laid out the essence of his political method to the electors of Westminster on 5 July in St. James’s Hall.

Believing as I do that society and political institutions are, or ought to be, in a state of progressive advance; that it is the very nature of progress to lead us to recognise as truths what we do not as yet see to be truths; believing also that . . . it is possible to see a certain distance before us, and to be able to distinguish beforehand some of these truths of the future, and to assist others to see them—I certainly think there are truths which the time has now arrived for proclaiming, although the time may not yet have arrived for carrying them into effect. That is what I mean by advanced Liberalism. But does it follow that, because a man sees something of the future, he is incapable of judging of the past? . . . I venture to reverse the proposition. The only persons who can judge for the present . . . are those who include to-morrow in their deliberations. We can see the direction in which things are tending, and which of those tendencies we are to encourage and which to resist. . . . But while I would refuse to suppress one iota of the opinions I consider best, I confess I would not object to accept any reasonable compromise which would give me even a little of that of which I hope in time to obtain the whole.


One could compromise one’s principles or one could compromise in the interest of one’s principles. While in the House of Commons Mill would strive to avoid the former and pursue willingly the latter, which he deemed both honourable and wise.

Of course the impact of Mill’s appearances on the results of the Westminster contest cannot be known. It is safe to say they did him no harm. On polling day, 12 July, only nine votes separated Mill and Grosvenor (the latter headed the poll with Edition: current; Page: [xxiv] 4,534 votes), while Smith trailed by seven hundred. In his speech following the declaration of the poll, Mill retroactively gave his imprimatur to the compact that encouraged Liberal electors to support both Mill and Grosvenor rather than plump for either or split their votes between Grosvenor and Smith.31 Mill approvingly observed that the electors of Westminster had “shown that whatever differences of opinion may exist amongst the several shades of Liberals, whatever severe criticisms they may occasionally make on each other, they are ready to help and co-operate with one another when the time of need arrives” (45). Part of the politician’s art is to make a virtue of necessity.

Yet it may be that cooperation with Grosvenor was not vital to Mill’s victory. It had been some time since Westminster had had an opportunity to put its mark on a general election. It did so in 1865 by electing Mill; it did so in 1868 by defeating him. A month before polling day in the first election Lord Russell had written to Amberley: “I expect Mill to come in for Westminster, & tho’ I am far from agreeing with him, I think he is too distinguished a man to be rejected.”32 Mill’s triumph did not reflect any deep personal commitment to him among the mass of Westminster electors. Bagehot remarked on Mill’s success in The English Constitution: “what did the electors of Westminster know of Mr. Mill? What fraction of his mind could be imagined by any percentage of their minds? They meant to do homage to mental ability, but it was the worship of an unknown god—if ever there was such a thing in the world.”33


the mill elected by Westminster in 1865 represented no identifiable group, interest, or party in England. He could fairly be described as a Radical or advanced Liberal, but he occupied an unequivocally independent and highly personal position within the spectrum of left-wing liberalism. The weight of his established Edition: current; Page: [xxv] intellectual and moral authority had been employed to promote certain principles and propositions, not to further the political interests or ambitions of a particular set of men who defined their aims in relation to institutional party objectives: Mill did not lack the rudimentary elements of a theory of party,34 nor was he opposed to organized cooperation among men pursuing common goals (his chairmanship of the Jamaica Committee and, later, of the Land Tenure Reform Association come immediately to mind). Although he generally preferred Liberals to Tories, Mill did not find much to choose between Palmerston and Derby,35 and the divisions within Radical ranks were such as to render impossible an affiliation with any specific segment of advanced opinion.

The peculiar character of Mill’s radicalism was highlighted by Bagehot in the latter’s Economist article of 29 April, 1865. Mill’s letter of 17 April to Beal, outlining his position on some of the major issues of the day, was intended for publication (it appeared in the Daily News, Morning Advertiser, and The Times on 21 April). This letter served as Mill’s election address, which Bagehot considered “one of the most remarkable . . . ever delivered by any candidate to any constituency,—especially in respect to the qualities of honesty, simplicity, and courage.” According to Bagehot, Mill’s radicalism, grounded in “a thorough logical capacity, unflinching integrity of purpose, and a profound knowledge of the facts and principles involved,” amounted to a shattering indictment of the creed of the advanced wing of the Liberal party. Bagehot proceeded to cite the opinions expressed by Mill in his letter to Beal and to contrast them with the views of the “Radicals” on the subjects concerned. He observed that the Radicals want the ballot whereas Mill does not; the Radicals want government revenues to be drawn exclusively from direct taxation whereas Mill prefers a mixture of direct and indirect taxes; the Radicals stand for a foreign policy based on the principle of non-intervention whereas Mill asserts that there are circumstances in which English intervention on behalf of freedom abroad may be justified; the Radicals recommend drastic reductions in military expenditure whereas Mill favours only Edition: current; Page: [xxvi] those economies that will in no respect weaken England’s capacity to defend her national interests in the face of aggressive and potentially hostile European despotisms; the Radicals urge abolition of purchase in the army whereas Mill cautions that thought must be given to ensure that the cure for the disease not be more damaging than the disease itself; the Radicals call for the complete abolition of flogging whereas Mill thinks it an appropriate punishment for certain crimes; the Radicals strongly oppose whereas Mill ardently supports the representation of minorities.36

Bagehot is using Mill to slam the radicalism of Bright and the Manchester School. In doing so he occasionally distorts the content of Mill’s letter. Mill’s preference for a combination of direct and indirect taxation is qualified by his assertion that taxes should not be placed on “the necessaries of life.”37 From Bagehot’s discussion of Mill’s views on purchase in the army one would not infer Mill’s confidence that a satisfactory means could be devised for terminating “the monopoly by certain classes of the posts of emolument.” To flogging Mill is “entirely opposed . . . except for crimes of brutality.”38 Yet Mill would have no wish to deny Bagehot’s basic contention: his radicalism was not Bright’s. Apart from their differences on specific issues, there is evidence to show that Mill regarded Bright as a demagogue39 who represented an inferior brand of radicalism from which Mill desired to distance himself.

How can this depiction of Mill as an independent agent in 1865, a depiction that in the Autobiography he by implication extends to his entire parliamentary career,40 be squared with John Vincent’s treatment of Mill as “a good party man in Parliament”?41 By “a good party man” Vincent means an admirer and supporter of Gladstone. When Mill took his seat in February of 1866 the House of Commons was led not by Palmerston, who had died the previous autumn, but by Gladstone, who together with Russell headed a Liberal government pledged to introduce a reform bill. In Palmerston’s hand had lain the key to both the stability and sterility of the politics of the early 1860s, and he held it firmly in his grasp to the very end, knowing there was no one to whom he could safely pass it on.42 Gladstone and Palmerston had been at odds before and after the former accepted the Chancellorship Edition: current; Page: [xxvii] of the Exchequer in the Liberal administration formed in 1859.43 By comparison with Palmerston, Gladstone, notwithstanding his Tory antecedents and instincts, represented the politics of movement. Palmerston’s departure dramatically transformed the political context within which Mill found himself. Many whose liberalism was so moderate as to verge on the nominal had comfortably followed Palmerston. These could not help but be uneasy at the prospect of a government subject to the pre-eminent influence of a man thought by more than a few to be constitutionally (in both senses of the word) unsound.44 The Conservatives, relegated to minority status since the split over the Corn Laws, would now prepare to exploit the fissures opening in Liberal ranks. Their animus against Gladstone was vehement. That Mill should be drawn to a politician of Gladstone’s intellectual stature and great abilities with enemies such as these is no great mystery. The vulnerability of the Russell-Gladstone government led Mill to limit his independence. For much of the eighteen months following the resignation of Russell and Gladstone in June 1866, the latter’s leadership of the party was not secure. On those issues Gladstone chose to stake his authority on, Mill circumspectly avoided action that might weaken Gladstone’s position.

Vincent therefore is not wrong to see Mill as “a good party man,” but he may be misleading. Mill could back Gladstone and yet retain a good deal of independence. On a whole range of subjects upon which Mill felt strongly—Jamaica, women’s suffrage, proportional representation, metropolitan government—he could not look to Gladstone to take the lead. But because these were not “party” questions, in striking an independent line on them Mill in no way jeopardized Gladstone’s leadership. The character of the House of Commons and the party system of the 1860s gave Mill scope to exercise a marked degree of autonomy. The initiatives he took, many of which had no chance of attracting Gladstone’s endorsement, were often on subjects that fell outside the sphere of party questions as defined by the political world Mill had entered in February of 1866.

Mill has various things to say about his mission in the House of Commons. In the Autobiography he emphasizes an independent strategy based on the premise that he should concentrate on doing what others would not or could not do so well. He was less interested in parliamentary influence for himself than in gaining exposure for views that would remain unexpressed were it not for his presence. An element of isolation was inherent in his approach. He often found himself taking up subjects “on which the bulk of the Liberal party, even the advanced portion of it, either were of a different opinion from mine, or were comparatively indifferent.”45 Mill suggests that he chose a role that required more courage than Edition: current; Page: [xxviii] most of his Radical colleagues could muster. His duty was “to come to the front in defence of advanced Liberalism on occasions when the obloquy to be encountered was such as most of the advanced Liberals in the House, preferred not to incur.”46

Associated with this role was a larger ambition: the construction of an advanced Liberal party, which, he told Theodor Gomperz, could not be done “except in the House of Commons.”47 Mill had to use his opportunity to show Liberals in the House and in the country that his brand of liberalism could practically contribute to the formation of a Gladstone-led party built on a foundation of sound Radical doctrine. In essence, Mill saw himself as a shaper of future public and party opinion. He explained to a correspondent, in language rather more grandiose than he employed in the Autobiography: “I look upon the House of Commons not as a place where important practical improvements can be effected by anything I can do there, but as an elevated Tribune or Chair from which to preach larger ideas than can at present be realised.”48 Hence Mill’s objectives in the House were much like those in his political writings. They were educative in nature. He had moved into a new forum in the hope that he could reach more people more effectively than he had hitherto.

There is no reason to question the sincerity of Mill’s statements about purpose. Yet they convey a conception of his part in the parliamentary history of these years that is altogether too static and abstract. No politician in this Parliament functioned within a fixed political context. The major players—Russell, Gladstone, Derby, Disraeli, Bright—had a good deal to do with what Parliament would or would not do, but even they could not control the ebb and flow of political currents that swept through the House of Commons in 1866–67. On many important questions Mill became enmeshed in a web not of his own making. He might be able to affect the web’s configuration but he could not alter its constitution in any fundamental way. He could exercise no influence whatsoever if he pretended that the web had nothing to do with him. His handling of the overwhelmingly dominant issue of parliamentary reform reveals him working those strands that seemed to him most promising.


mill had an agenda of reform but it was not his agenda that counted. He might want adult suffrage limited only by a literacy qualification, and a redistribution modelled at least in part on Thomas Hare’s scheme of personal representation.49 Edition: current; Page: [xxix] But only a government bill could pass through Parliament and Mill would not be one of its draughtsmen.

The 1866 Bill of record would be the work of Russell and Gladstone. Mill cared much about the content of a reform measure but in 1866 he cared more about supporting Gladstone. In February of 1865, five months before his triumph at Westminster and eight months before Palmerston’s death, Mill told Max Kyllman, “no Reform Bill which we are likely to see for some time to come, will be worth moving hand or foot for.”50 By the end of the year he had come to view the matter rather differently, admitting to Chadwick,

The whole of our laws of election from top to bottom require to be reconstructed on new principles: but to get those principles into people’s heads is work for many years, and they will not wait that time for the next step in reform. . . . And perhaps some measure of reform is as likely to promote as to delay other improvements in the representative system.51

Mill had not changed his ideas concerning what should go into a reform bill. Nor did he expect that any bill emerging from the deliberations of the Liberal government would remotely resemble what he wanted. But Mill was now member for Westminster; Palmerston was dead; Russell and Gladstone had left no doubt that parliamentary reform would be the centrepiece of their 1866 legislative programme. Where Gladstone led on this critical party question, Mill would follow.

A comparison of a letter Mill wrote to Hare in January of 1866 with his response to Gladstone’s Reform Bill shows the extent to which he had chained himself to Gladstone’s slow-moving chariot. To Hare Mill expatiated on the dangers a bill confined to franchise extension presented to their position. The proposal and passage of such a bill, Mill argued, would exclude the subject of personal representation from the sphere of parliamentary discussion. Once a reform bill had been enacted “the whole subject of changes in the representation will be tabooed for years to come.”52 (Chadwick, after receiving Mill’s letter of December 1865, would presumably not have attributed such an opinion to his friend.) Mill did not expect the Liberal government to offer a measure that incorporated the views he and Hare held, but he did hope the bill would be sufficiently broad in scope to justify raising the issues that he wanted to air in the House of Commons.

The Bill Gladstone introduced on 12 March provided for a reduction in the borough household qualification from £10 to £7 and for a county occupation franchise of £14. It was a franchise bill and nothing more.53 Had it passed, Edition: current; Page: [xxx] working-class voters would have constituted approximately a quarter of the total electorate of England and Wales (a doubling of working-class electoral weight). The Tories were not inclined to mount a frontal assault on the measure. They were more than happy to let Robert Lowe and the band of Liberal renegades hostile to parliamentary reform, whom Bright referred to as the “Adullamites,” make the running. Although the bulk of Mill’s fine 13 April speech (No. 16) focused on the need for working-class enfranchisement, the occasion for it was a motion tabled by Lord Grosvenor (an Adullamite) and seconded by Lord Stanley (a Conservative for whom Mill had considerable regard) that called for postponement of the Bill’s second reading until a redistribution package had been presented. Mill, knowing that the Adullamites and their Tory sympathizers wanted to wreck the Bill, apprehended that from such a wreckage Gladstone would not emerge without serious injury. That Mill must have agreed with the substance of Grosvenor’s motion did not move him to support it. The preface to his elegant argument on behalf of parliamentary reform was devoted to a defence of the ministry’s exclusive concentration on the franchise. Mill insisted that the Bill, though “far more moderate than is desired by the majority of reformers,” significantly enlarged working-class electoral power and was therefore “not only a valuable part of a scheme of Parliamentary Reform, but highly valuable even if nothing else were to follow” (60–1).54

The government and its Bill survived for another two months. On 18 June Lord Dunkellin’s amendment to substitute a rating for a rental franchise in the boroughs was carried against the ministry by a vote of 315 to 304.55 A week later the Russell-Gladstone government resigned. Throughout their difficulties over the reform question, Mill had steadfastly adhered to the Gladstonian line.56

Mill’s behaviour should not be attributed to servility. He knew what he was doing and why he was doing it. He admired Gladstone and cast him as the future leader of a radicalized Liberal party. That radicalization could occur only in conjunction with a marked increase of working-class political power. Mill had grave misgivings about class power of any sort and did not advocate working-class political ascendancy.57 The enormous appeal Hare’s scheme had for Mill lay Edition: current; Page: [xxxi] partly in its capacity to promote both democratic political participation and meritocratic, government.58 Aristocratic and middle-class prejudices retarded social and political improvement. A sizeable injection of working-class influence was required to achieve the accelerated rate of progress Mill wished to foster. He sensed the growth of working-class activism, as manifested in the Reform League, and put this together with Gladstonian leadership and franchise extension to come up with a new and better political order. In January of 1866 he told H.S. Chapman,

English statesmanship will have to assume a new character, and to look in a more direct way than before to the interests of posterity. We are now . . . standing on the very boundary line between this new statesmanship and the old; and the next generation will be accustomed to a very different set of political arguments and topics from those of the present and past.59

In 1866 and 1867 Mill was prepared to serve as a bridge between Gladstonian parliamentary Liberalism and working-class political agitation. There were other bridges (Bright was unquestionably the most important). But Mill’s conduct inside and outside the House of Commons in relation to both Gladstone’s position and the aspirations of the politically conscious members of the working classes resonates with an acute sensitivity to new forces at work and their potential for constructive political engagement.

The resignation of Russell and Gladstone was followed by the formation of a minority Conservative government under Derby and Disraeli. The public agitation for parliamentary reform, led by the Manchester based middle-class dominated Reform Union and the metropolitan based artisan dominated Reform League, heated up in response.60 The Reform League, eager to impress upon the new government the earnestness of the working classes on the question of the franchise, announced their sponsorship of a mass public demonstration to be held in Hyde Park on 23 July. The right to hold public meetings had been one of the issues galvanizing those reponsible for organizing the Reform League. The view of the Derby ministry, one supported by Sir George Grey, Home Secretary in previous Liberal administrations, was that Royal Parks were not appropriate locations for public meetings, and that such gatherings were prohibited by law.61 The Tory Home Secretary, Spencer Walpole, authorized Sir Richard Mayne, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, to issue an order forbidding the meeting.62 At about 6 p.m. on 23 July the Leaguers, led by their President, Edmond Beales, arrived at the Edition: current; Page: [xxxii] locked gates of Hyde Park and were confronted by a police barricade. Beales did not mind the government’s thinking he carried the match that could ignite an agitation of truly dangerous proportions, but he had no intention of striking that match. On being informed that the demonstrators would not be admitted to the Park, Beales led his forces off to Trafalgar Square. The confusion arising from the shift, aggravated by the turbulence of a crowd that apparently included more than a few ruffians out for a bit of fun, resulted in the felling of the Park railings. Three days of commotion in Hyde Park ensued. Damage to the grounds was fairly extensive and some two hundred people were injured.63

In his speech of 24 July, given while the tumult was still in progress, Mill laid responsibility at the government’s door. In attempting to enforce an exclusion for which there could be no justification, the ministry had precipitated the disturbance and heightened bad feeling between the governing classes and the masses. “Noble Lords and right honourable Gentlemen opposite may be congratulated on having done a job of work last night which will require wiser men than they are, many years to efface the consequences of” (100).

Under the circumstances, Mill’s speech, delivered in a House many of whose members felt they had good cause to be alarmed at the recent turn of events, was remarkably bold.64 Disraeli, cognizant that Mill’s opinions on this matter were shared by few M.P.s on either side of the House, rose when Mill resumed his seat, and opened with an observation designed to accentuate Mill’s isolation: “I take it for granted . . . that the speech we have just heard is one of those intended to be delivered in Hyde Park, and if I may judge from it as a sample, we can gather a very good idea of the rhetoric which will prevail at those periodical meetings we are promised.” In a masterful brief speech calculated to highlight the contrast between the responsible conduct of ministers of the crown and the irresponsible language of the member for Westminster, Disraeli rejected Mill’s imputations. He denied that the government was opposed to working-class political meetings, but declared that these should be held “at the proper time and place.” The 23rd of July at Hyde Park, Disraeli implied, was neither, as the “riot, tumult, and disturbance” unleashed by the League’s initiative unhappily demonstrated.65

Mill devotes more than a page of the Autobiography to the curious and rather enigmatic aftermath of the Hyde Park riots. A trace of bitterness enters into his account of the part he played in dissuading the League from endeavouring to hold a meeting in Hyde Park on 31 July in defiance of the government. Mill thought it Edition: current; Page: [xxxiii] highly probable that serious violence would erupt from such a confrontation and that nothing good could come of it. Having successfully made his case, he agreed to address a League meeting at the Agricultural Hall on the 30th (No. 32). He believed that he had been “the means of preventing much mischief.” His bitterness was directed not against the League but against certain elements of the metropolitan press that had accused him of being “intemperate and passionate.” “I do not know,” he said, “what they expected from me; but they had reason to be thankful to me if they knew from what I had in all probability preserved them. And I do not believe it could have been done, at that particular juncture, by any one else.”66

The object of reviewing this well-known episode is not to assess the accuracy of Mill’s claims. Evelyn L. Pugh, after a searching and sympathetic enquiry into Mill’s connection with the Hyde Park affair, concedes that there is no evidence to corroborate Mill’s assessment of his effectiveness. What Mill reported no doubt did occur, but his interpretation perhaps assigns too much weight to his intervention.67 Whatever the practical import of Mill’s involvement with the League in late July of 1866, the whole business usefully illuminates the purposeful intent that fashioned his response to the reform crisis of 1866–67.

The political coin minted by Mill in answer to the franchise question had Gladstone on one side and the working classes on the other. Through Gladstone the working classes could be integrated into the political process. The mode of achieving this objective could also contribute to a transformation of the Liberal party into an effective instrument of social and political reform.68 But for Gladstone to keep in the air a sufficient number of balls to secure his ascendancy over other ambitious jugglers, he had to put a respectable distance between himself and the radicalism of the Reform League. To some degree both Bright and Mill consciously acted as Gladstone’s surrogates.69

Not too much should be made of Mill’s refusal to join the Reform League. Considering the strong exception he took to its programme of manhood (rather than adult) suffrage and the ballot, his identification with its struggle is impressive. In declining the invitation to join the League, Mill observed that “the general promotion of the Reform cause is the main point at present, and . . . advanced reformers, without suppressing their opinions on the points on which Edition: current; Page: [xxxiv] they may still differ, should act together as one man in the common cause.”70 Not only did Mill defend the League in the Commons on the Hyde Park question, but he sent a £5 donation to assist those arrested by the police on 23 July.71 In February of 1867 he participated in a deputation whose purpose was to persuade Walpole to appoint a working man to the Royal Commission on Trades Unions.72 In the summer of 1867 Mill subscribed to a Reform League fund established to organize the newly enfranchised electors on behalf of advanced Liberalism.73 The League also had cause to appreciate Mill’s role in the successful fight to stop the 1867 Parks Bill from getting through the House of Commons.

In late July of 1866, in urging caution on the League, Mill had drawn on some of the moral and political capital he had invested in the working-class movement. He had done what he could to prevent violence and to ease the war of nerves between the authorities and the agitators. Mill asserted himself not merely for the sake of peace. Indeed, he had no desire to moderate the conflict between the government and the League; rather, he sought to enclose the League’s expression of that conflict within bounds prescribed by the need to build and sustain an unofficial and necessarily unacknowledged alliance between Gladstone and the working-class reform movement.

The same concern prompted Mill to call upon the League to exercise self-restraint in early 1867. At a League-organized conference of late February, delegates representing the League and the trades unions passed a resolution threatening that, in the event of governmental resistance to working-class enfranchisement, it would “be necessary to consider the propriety of those classes adopting a universal cessation from labour until their political rights are conceded.”74 The Morning Star reported that the speeches given at the meeting were demagogic.75 On reading this report Mill wrote to William Randal Cremer, a leading figure in trades union and radical political circles, protesting against the extreme rhetoric employed on the occasion. Mill argued that any reform bill acceptable to Parliament would in the nature of things have to be a compromise. Violent language hinting at “revolutionary expedients” should not be indulged in by those leading the agitation. The conditions that might justify revolution, Mill unequivocally stated, did not exist in England.76 He did not deny that League Edition: current; Page: [xxxv] members had been given “ample provocation and abundant excuse” for their “feelings of irritation.” To allow such irritation to rob them of their sense of proportion, however, was likely to harm the cause of reform. Especially arousing Mill’s displeasure was the message carried in the speeches of “a determined rejection beforehand of all compromise on the Reform question, even if proposed by the public men in whose sincerity & zeal as reformers you have repeatedly expressed the fullest confidence.”77 Mill feared that the rather tenuous line joining Gladstone to the working-class reform movement was beginning to fragment. The course pursued by Derby and Disraeli in 1867 further jeopardized the enterprise to which Mill had committed himself.

The parliamentary struggle over the details of the Conservative Reform Bill centred on the borough householders and their payment of rates. Derby and Disraeli offered borough household suffrage, subject to the stipulation that only householders who paid their rates directly should be eligible for the franchise. In 171 boroughs the composition of rates, whereby the local authorities compounded with the landlords for the payment of the occupier’s rates, had proved a highly convenient mechanism.78 These compound householders, whose names did not appear on the rating book, would be excluded from the vote under clause 3 of the Tory Bill. Disraeli would show himself to be infinitely flexible in committee but he rigidly maintained that on the principle of ratepaying the Bill would stand or fall.79

Gladstone was appalled by what he took to be the dishonest and fraudulent character of the Bill. Early in the debate on clause 3 he moved to eliminate for electoral purposes the distinction between direct ratepayers and compounders. Gladstone held no brief for household suffrage “pure and simple.” His humiliating setback of the previous session doubtless very much with him, Gladstone was now ready to put his strength to the test in opposition to the aspect of the Tory Bill that he thought most unacceptable. The outcome he looked for was a defeat of the government and settlement of the question on terms that satisfied his own preferences. But his reach exceeded his grasp. In the division of 12 April forty-seven Liberals, a number of Radicals among them, rejected Gladstone’s Edition: current; Page: [xxxvi] leadership and the amendment went down by a vote of 310 to 289. Suspecting that, although he would do no business with Gladstone, Disraeli would find it necessary to do business with them, these Radicals put the survival of the Bill before a parliamentary victory for Gladstone. In his diary Gladstone recorded: “A smash perhaps without example.”80 Mill voted with the minority.81

Mill’s sole major speech on the ratepaying issue was delivered in the debate that saw Gladstone empty his barrels in a final attempt to wound the measure fatally. On 6 May Disraeli informed the House that the government could not accept the amendment of J.T. Hibbert, Radical M.P. for Oldham, that would allow compounders who wished to opt out of composition to pay a reduced rate. Instead, he indicated, the government would offer an amendment providing that the full rate would have to be paid by those opting out of composition, but that amount could be deducted from the rent received by their landlords. If defeated on the amendment, Disraeli announced, the government would dissolve. Gladstone took up the challenge and advised the House to reject Disraeli’s amendment. That advice was not heeded by fifty-eight Liberals who voted with the government, which sailed through the division with a majority of sixty-six.82

A correct deciphering of Mill’s speech of 9 May hinges on an understanding of what was at stake in this debate. The Tory Bill had sent tremors through Liberal ranks, as Derby and Disraeli had intended that it should. Mill vehemently criticized Disraeli for politicizing the ratepaying issue and sponsoring an amendment calculated to increase electoral corruption. But Mill’s words were directed less at the government than at the Radicals. “I hope that honourable Gentlemen on this side of the House, who, loving household suffrage not wisely but too well, have brought matters to this state, intend to come down handsomely to the registration societies in their own neighbourhoods; for the registration societies are destined henceforth to be one of the great institutions of the country” (147). Shortly thereafter Mill warned those Radicals who had shown a tendency to act on the supposition that more of what they wanted could be had from Disraeli than from Gladstone that they would pay a heavy price at the polls (monetarily and politically) for their determination “to outwit the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and make his Bill bring forth pure and simple household suffrage, contrary to the intentions of everybody except themselves who will vote for it” (147).

These sentiments did not originate in a conviction that household suffrage was a bad idea. Mill wanted his free-wheeling Radical colleagues to realize they were gambling on getting a form of household suffrage they could live with. More importantly, he wanted them to understand that purchasing any bill of goods from Disraeli at Gladstone’s political expense could severely damage the prospects for the formation of an effective advanced Liberal party.

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Disraeli had managed to put Gladstone on the defensive. The stepped-up pace of the agitation out of doors may for a time have had a similar effect. In 1866 the leaders of the League might have thought a £7 franchise bill from Gladstone preferable to anything the Tories were likely to offer. By April of 1867 they could not be so sure. Frances Gillespie notes that in this month the League “utterly denounced” Gladstone’s proposal of a £5 rating franchise.83 On 6 May the League defied the government and held a demonstration in Hyde Park. Feelings were running high inside and outside the House. Gladstone could make no overt move towards the League. Mill had to take up ground distinct from that occupied by the League while doing everything possible to convince its supporters that Gladstone was the man to whom they must turn for leadership.

Gladstone made that task somewhat easier after the defeat of 9 May. His “reaction to this second defeat,” Cowling observes, “was to abandon the £5 rating line altogether . . . and to deliver a sarcastic address to the Reform Union on 11 May in which he attacked the Adullamite Whigs for the first time in public . . . and went as near as a responsible politician could to committing himself as soon as he returned to office to reject the personal payment principle.”84

On 17 May Disraeli made his stunning announcement to the House that the government intended to accept the principle of Grosvenor Hodgkinson’s amendment for the abolition of compounding. The amendment was not incompatible with Disraeli’s insistence on retaining the ratepaying principle, but its acceptance swept away the restrictive effects of the Bill’s distinction between direct ratepayers and compounders. The fuss that ensued, in which Mill took part (see Nos. 54, 58, 59), focused on the procedure by which the abolition of compounding was to be implemented.85

Disraeli’s bravura performance on 17 May obviated Radical obstruction and ensured the passage of the Bill. Once again he had caught Gladstone off guard and made it appear that the House could carry on very well without Gladstone’s assistance. In his speech to a London meeting of the Reform Union on 25 May, Mill tried to counteract this impression by emphasizing who had done what for whom in 1866 and 1867. He complained of the government’s unfair treatment of the compounder and suggested that Disraeli had been consistent only in his unwillingness to play straight.

This is very like all that has been going on ever since the beginning of these reform discussions. It has been a succession—I will not say of tricks, because I do not like to use hard words, especially when I cannot prove them, but of what is called in the vernacular, trying it on. The object is just to see what you will bear, and anything that you will bear you Edition: current; Page: [xxxviii] shall have to bear, but if you show that you will not bear it, then perhaps it may not be required of you.


No better could perhaps be expected of Disraeli; but Mill thought it vital that he not be rewarded for a technique designed to conceal the identity of the real author of reform. Reformers should have no patience for the leader of the House of Commons

when he gibes at those to whom we really owe all this, when he . . . talks of their “blundering hands,” and gives it to be understood that they have not been able to carry reform and he can, and that it is not their measure. He is quite satisfied if he can say to Mr. Gladstone, “You did not do it.” But Mr. Gladstone did do it. He could not carry his measure last year because Mr. Disraeli and his friends opposed it; Mr. Disraeli can carry his Reform Bill because Mr. Gladstone will not oppose anything but that which is not real reform, and will support to the utmost that which is. I have no objection to thank everybody for their part in it when once we have got it, but I will always thank most those to whom we really owe it. The people of England know that but for the late government this government would have gone one hundred miles out of their way before they would have brought in any Reform Bill at all. And every good thing we have got in this bill, even that which seems to be more than Mr. Gladstone was prepared to give, has only been given for the purpose of outbidding Mr. Gladstone.


Ideas and ideals were central to Mill’s liberalism, but politics was an indispensable medium for their having practical effect. The Liberal party was important to Mill for what it could become. Its development in a direction consonant with his objectives required, he believed, both a leadership dominated by Gladstone and an active influential rank and file with a strong working-class contingent. His response to the reform crisis of 1866–67 followed from this conviction.

Mill, disappointed by the fortunes of radicalism at the 1868 general election, gave scant indication in the Autobiography of the motives that governed his general political disposition in 1867. There he writes not of party political purposes but of independent advocacy of fundamental principles concerning women’s suffrage and the representation of minorities. “In the general debates on Mr. Disraeli’s Reform Bill, my participation was limited to the one speech [on 9 May] already mentioned; but I made the Bill an occasion for bringing the two greatest improvements which remain to be made in representative government formally before the House and the nation.”86 Mill invariably stressed the non-party character of these initiatives, but the “occasion” for bringing them forward was coloured by party considerations. On 7 June 1866, he presented to the House a women’s suffrage petition signed by 1521 women. He also gave notice of a motion for a return of the number of women who met the existing property qualifications but were barred from the vote by reason of their sex.87 Mill had no Edition: current; Page: [xxxix] intention of pressing the issue beyond this point in the 1866 session, explaining to a fellow M.P. (C.D. Griffith) that “there is no chance that we can succeed in getting a clause for admitting women to the suffrage introduced with the present Reform Bill.” The object was “merely to open the subject this year, without taking up the time of the House and increasing the accusation of obstructiveness by forcing on a discussion which cannot lead to a practical result.”88 Had the Reform Bill of 1866 carried it is possible that Mill would never have proposed the enfranchisement of women in the House of Commons (“perhaps the only really important public service I performed in the capacity of a Member of Parliament”).89 Much the same can be said of the personal representation amendment. In November of 1866 Mill wrote to Hare:

There will, in all probability, be a Tory Reform Bill, and whatever may be its quality, no moving of amendments or raising of new points will in the case of a Tory bill be regarded by Liberals as obstructiveness, or as damaging to the cause. Then will be the very time to bring forward and get discussed, everything which we think ought to be put into a good Reform Bill.90


no one was obliged to treat seriously Mill’s views on women’s suffrage and personal representation. Those who disliked such opinions could regard their propagation as foolish but not as dangerous. For the trouble he took on these matters he may have attracted the admiration of some, the derision of others. Few politicians would care to have the measure of their power taken by reference to either the esteem they inspire or the ridicule they provoke. Whatever political power Mill commanded was inseparable from the intellectual and moral authority he could bring to bear on issues that the governing classes could not easily shrug off. Jamaica and Ireland were such issues, and the high moral line Mill adopted on both is well known.91 But his course of action on these questions too was not unaffected by his sensitivity to party and personal struggles, and to their possible implications for the future of Gladstone and the Liberal party.

On no subject that he addressed during his Westminster years did Mill feel more strongly than that of the conduct of Governor Eyre and the Jamaican authorities in October of 1865, following the uprising at Morant Bay.92 The intensity of Mill’s Edition: current; Page: [xl] reaction to the reports from Jamaica and his assumption that consideration of Eyre’s behaviour did not lie beyond the parliamentary pale were evident as early as December, when he wrote to a correspondent: “There seems likely to be enough doing in Parliament, this session, to occupy all one’s thoughts. There is no part of it all, not even the Reform Bill, more important than the duty of dealing justly with the abominations committed in Jamaica.”93

When Mill took his seat in February the Royal Commission appointed to investigate the Jamaica troubles had not completed its work. The ministry, preoccupied with the Reform Bill, hoped that all parties, including the anti-Eyre Jamaica Committee, of which Mill was a prominent member, would hold their fire until the Commission had reported.94 It is perhaps not surprising that Mill kept himself in check while the Commission took evidence and deliberated, even though he seems to have already made up his mind that Eyre was responsible for the terrible things that had been done and that the rule of law demanded he be punished accordingly. When the Report reached London on 30 April, its content did nothing to soften Mill’s view of Eyre.95 His self-imposed silence on the subject for nearly three months after the Report became public was probably dictated by his resolution that Gladstone’s friends should refrain from aggravating in any way their leader’s formidable difficulties in the House of Commons.96

With the defeat of the Reform Bill and the fall of Russell and Gladstone, Mill’s role in the anti-Eyre movement was transformed. At the end of June Charles Buxton resigned as Chairman of the Jamaica Committee, having vainly argued that the Committee should not attempt to prosecute Eyre for murder. The burden of Buxton’s case was that conviction was highly improbable and, if obtained, would be followed by a royal pardon. While prosecution could produce but meagre results, it would alienate public opinion, which would come to see Eyre as a dutiful servant of the crown, hounded by a vindictive group who failed to appreciate the heavy responsibility borne by the governor of an island whose predominantly black population could present a grave threat to the life and property of the white minority. The Jamaica Committee, Buxton urged, would best serve the interests of the victims and the cause of justice by working to secure an official condemnation Edition: current; Page: [xli] of Eyre and those who had used the declaration and continuance of martial law to inflict unwarrantable and cruel suffering on thousands of British subjects. That condemnation could form the basis of a campaign to win financial compensation for the victims and their families.97

Mill and Bright (also a member of the executive committee) held that the course Buxton saw as impolitic offered the only means by which the principles of law, morality, and justice could be vindicated. Eyre’s removal from the governorship (he had been temporarily superseded in January of 1866 and his successor would be commissioned in July) fell far short of what was required. Compensation for victims should be sought, but such compensation could not restore the moral authority of British imperial government. If the government refused to prosecute, then the Committee must, as was explained to the public in a document issued by the Committee not long after Buxton’s resignation as Chairman.

In undertaking to discharge this duty, so far as circumstances and the means at their disposal may permit, the Committee are not . . . activated by vindictive feelings towards those whom they believe to have violated the law. Their aim, besides upholding the obligation of justice and humanity towards all races beneath the Queen’s sway, is to vindicate, by an appeal to judicial authority, the great legal and constitutional principles which have been violated in the late proceedings, and deserted by the Government.98

Mill and Bright carried the executive with them on 26 June. On 9 July Mill was elected to replace Buxton.99 Ten days later Mill put his Jamaica questions to the government in the House of Commons.100 On 31 July he delivered his single major speech (No. 33) on the subject in the debate occasioned by the introduction of four resolutions by Buxton.101

Mill could hardly have acted as he did on the Jamaica question in July had the fragile Russell-Gladstone government still been in office. Certainly the object in pressing the issue was to rescue England’s moral reputation, not to irritate the Conservative ministry. The fact remains that however strongly Mill felt about the matter, he abstained during the first half of the year from venting his feelings in the Edition: current; Page: [xlii] House of Commons. Had a perfectly secure Liberal government been in office he surely would not have held back. The spectacle of a vulnerable Gladstone harassed by anti-reform forces persuaded Mill that the assertion of principles dear to him had to be subordinated, at least momentarily, to political exigencies.

The Eyre question never acquired a significant parliamentary status.102 Irish subjects, especially the land question, had such a status and Mill came to think that he had an important role to play in making England aware of the remedies appropriate to Irish problems.

Very soon after first taking his seat in the House of Commons Mill spoke on the suspension of habeas corpus in Ireland (February 1866). He did not offer remedies on this occasion; instead he made very plain his belief that England had abysmally failed to reconcile Ireland to British rule. Mill’s words did not sit well with the House.103 His general condemnation of English government in Ireland, however, Edition: current; Page: [xliii] did not translate into a criticism of the particular Liberal ministry then in office. That suspension of habeas corpus should be necessary pointed up the inadequacy of what had hitherto been done for Ireland, but Mill did not question the necessity. A notable feature of the speech is his separation of Russell and Gladstone from the causes that had brought Ireland to the edge of rebellion.

He was not prepared to vote against granting to Her Majesty’s Government the powers which, in the state to which Ireland had been brought, they declared to be absolutely necessary. . . . They did not bring Ireland into its present state—they found it so, through the misgovernment of centuries and the neglect of half a century. [Such words gave Gladstone more cover than they did Russell.] He did not agree with his honourable Friend the Member for Birmingham [Bright] in thinking that Her Majesty’s Ministers, if they could not devise some remedy for the evils of Ireland, were bound to leave their seats on the Treasury Bench and devote themselves to learning statesmanship. From whom were they to learn it? From the Gentlemen opposite, who would be their successors, and who, if they were to propose anything which his honourable Friend or himself would consider as remedies for Irish evils, would not allow them to pass it?


If Mill’s tolerance stretched so far as to accommodate Jamaica during the first half of 1866, it would not snap over Ireland.

Mill’s solicitude for the beleaguered Russell-Gladstone ministry is evident in his speech on the government’s 1866 Irish Land Bill. Introduced on 30 April by Chichester Fortescue,104 Irish Chief Secretary, this “extremely mild measure”105 proposed to invest Irish tenants with a legal claim to compensation for Edition: current; Page: [xliv] improvements in those cases where there existed no written contract between landlord and tenant denying the latter’s right to such compensation.106 On the second reading of the Bill Mill “delivered one of [his] most careful speeches . . . in a manner calculated less to stimulate friends, than to conciliate and convince opponents.”107

Mill’s opponents could be forgiven for wondering what it was he was trying to convince them of in this speech of 17 May. He began with an assertion that may have inadvertently done Gladstone and Fortescue more harm than good. “I venture to express the opinion that nothing which any Government has yet done, or which any Government has yet attempted to do, for Ireland . . . has shown so true a comprehension of Ireland’s real needs, or has aimed so straight at the very heart of Ireland’s discontent and of Ireland’s misery” (75). Such an endorsement from Mill of an Irish land scheme in a House of Commons that had its full complement of landlords was something the Liberal government might have preferred to manage without. Nonetheless, Mill meant to do well by the government and that intention gave rise to a very curious speech on a Bill whose place in the history of the Irish land question is deservedly obscure.

Two themes uneasily cohabit in Mill’s speech. The first concerns the need for English legislators to think seriously about whether Ireland could be best governed according to English principles. Mill argued that Irish conditions resembled those on the Continent and that English assumptions concerning the ordering of agricultural society were unorthodox. “Irish circumstances and Irish ideas as to social and agricultural economy are the general ideas and circumstances of the human race; it is English circumstances and English ideas that are peculiar” (76). Continental experience had shown that where the tenant was also the cultivator of the soil his welfare depended on his having “the protection of some sort of fixed usage. The custom of the country has determined more or less precisely the rent which he should pay, and guaranteed the permanence of his tenure as long as he paid it.” (77.) But if Mill seemed to be saying that Irish tenants should be given fixity of tenure, that is not what he proceeded to advocate. Instead, and here emerges the second theme, Mill defended the ministerial measure on the premise that it would contribute to achieving the aim supported by the English governing class: the promotion of the English system of agriculture in Ireland. Such a goal, whose wisdom Mill openly questioned, entailed making prosperous farmers of the most capable of the Irish tenantry. Indispensable to this process was the provision Edition: current; Page: [xlv] of compensation for improvements, without which tenants would lack the incentive to act the part of Anglicized tenant farmers.

Mill knew the House of Commons would not sanction fixity of tenure and he had to admit that he knew it. He could not remain silent when the opportunity arose to tell the House that Ireland needed fixity of tenure. He would not, however, use the occasion to criticize the government’s feeble proposal. On the contrary he would bestow extravagant praise upon its authors. His admission that fixity of tenure would not fly in the House served to justify a course of action consistent with an allegiance to political ends that could not be dissociated from the fate of Gladstone.108

Towards the end of 1867 Mill concluded that the time for pulling his punches had passed. The Fenian outbursts in Ireland and England in 1867 convinced him that England could not and should not keep Ireland unless she could furnish a satisfactory settlement of the land question. In his pamphlet England and Ireland, published in early 1868, Mill eloquently and trenchantly pleaded the case for fixity of tenure.109 Dr. Steele has documented the hostile reception given this pamphlet and has argued that Mill, realizing that he had gone too far, retreated from his exposed position on 12 March in his speech on the state of Ireland.110

Mill’s speech reads differently from his pamphlet but the difference does not come from his having had second thoughts about fixity of tenure for Irish tenants. Rather it arises from the distinct roles Mill assigned the pamphlet and the speech in his campaign. The scheme he proposed in England and Ireland was deliberately presented simply, boldly, directly. Mill wanted to get people’s attention.—the Edition: current; Page: [xlvi] fleshing out of details belonged to a later stage. The primary function of the speech was to answer the criticisms and misapprehensions the pamphlet had incited, and to emphasize the flexible application to which its principle was subject. The relation of the pamphlet to the speech was plainly laid out by Mill in a letter to Cairnes, written only hours before the opening of the debate on Ireland. “The object [of England and Ireland] was to strike hard, and compel people to listen to the largest possible proposal. This has been accomplished, and now the time is come for discussing in detail the manner in which the plan, if adopted, would work.”111 The generally conciliatory tone of the speech does not represent any backtracking on Mill’s part. He did not hesitate to announce to the House that “Great and obstinate evils require great remedies” (249), nor did he decline the opportunity to reiterate his defence of peasant proprietorship (259–61).

Before March of 1868 Gladstone’s political star, apparently on the descent during the Reform Bill struggle, had begun to regain altitude in a climb that by December would carry him to the premiership with a large majority at his back. At Christmas 1867 Lord Russell resigned the leadership of the party, and Gladstone succeeded to a position that conferred on him an authority he had hitherto been denied. The dissension caused by the controversy over reform had largely dissipated and the prospect of a general election provided ample incentive for the party to put its house in order and unite behind a strong leader. Gladstone was ready to provide that leadership. In February of 1868 he introduced his Bill for the abolition of compulsory church rates, which would not long thereafter become law. Four days after Mill spoke on Irish land, Gladstone committed himself in the House to Irish Church disestablishment, which he made the subject of the resolutions he proposed on 23 March. His grip on the party, so unsure in 1866 and 1867, had tightened noticeably. Mill no longer had to tread softly for Gladstone’s sake. Indeed, Mill’s shift into high gear on the Irish land question reflected his understanding that Gladstone’s growing strength had opened up a fast lane to the leader’s left.

In the drive towards a Liberalism more programmatic than anything yet seen, Mill attempted to set a pace that he hoped would keep him within Gladstone’s sight while helping the latter gain acceptance for measures that would have horrified Palmerston. Mill’s lunge on Irish land did something to make the question ripe for serious legislation and also enlarged the framework of debate. That Gladstone got as much as he did on Irish land in 1870 (he did not get all that he wanted)112 owed a little (maybe more) to England and Ireland. Mill may have had less reason than Gladstone to applaud the legislation of 1870, but he had known better than to entertain expectations incapable of immediate fulfilment. As he told Cairnes in March of 1868: “I do not share your hopes that anything much short of what I have Edition: current; Page: [xlvii] proposed, would give peace or prosperity to Ireland in union with England: but if there is any intermediate course which would do so, its adoption is likely to be very much promoted by frightening the Government and the landlords with something more revolutionary.”113


the irish land question, however important to Mill in 1868, was overshadowed by his immersion in the issue of corrupt electoral practices. Disraeli had promised a bill on the subject for 1868.114 The depth of Mill’s detailed involvement with this measure exceeded that of any other he encountered during his years in Parliament. Believing that a number of advanced Liberals shared his interest, he was disposed to assume responsibility for directing and coordinating their strategy and tactics. In November of 1867 he wrote to Chadwick:

The great question of next session will be the promised bill against electoral corruption. The advanced Liberals must have their rival bill, and I am anxious that all who have thought on the subject . . . should put down, as heads of a bill, all that has occurred to them as desirable on this subject. When all suggestions have been got together, the most feasible may be selected, and the best radicals in and out of the House may be urged to combine in forcing them on the government.115

Later that month Mill was in touch with W.D. Christie, whom he considered the leading authority on the subject.116 He asked Christie to draw up a measure that could serve as an instrument of discussion for advanced Liberals, who might meet on the reassembling of Parliament “and produce an outline of a Bill which might be circulated among the Liberal party. It might be possible to prevail on Mr. Gladstone to introduce it: but . . . the bill will only be a rallying point: the fight will . . . be . . . on the attempt to engraft its provisions on the bill of the Tory Government.”117

In late December Mill, having heard from Christie, clearly felt the time had come to talk about details. The major points Christie wished to press concerned the inclusion of municipal elections within the bill’s purview and the desirability of conducting a post-election enquiry into all contests regardless of whether or not a Edition: current; Page: [xlviii] complaint had been lodged. Mill agreed that corruption at parliamentary elections often fed off the unsavoury techniques used at the municipal level and that any bill that did not apply to both would be highly unsatisfactory. As for a uniform and comprehensive enquiry process, Mill admitted the idea was new to him. “One can at once see many reasons in its favour, but it will be a difficult thing to get carried, owing to the habitual objection to ‘fishing’ enquiries, and to enquiries when there is no complaint. It is, however, evident that the absence of complaint is, in such a case, no evidence of the absence of mischief.” Mill also raised other questions with Christie at this time: what punishment should be imposed on the convicted briber? should all money spent by candidates and their agents at elections “pass through a public officer, so that the mere fact of incurring expenditure in which he is passed over should be legal proof of an unlawful purpose?”118

At the beginning of the new year Mill received and read Christie’s pamphlet Election Corruption and Its Remedies (1867), whose recommendations he considered “excellent.” Of these Mill deemed Christie’s proposal for the appointment of an official in each constituency to supervise all aspects of the local electoral process to be of central importance.119 On 17 January Christie learned of Mill’s preference for his plan “of an investigation after every election, parliamentary or municipal, by a special officer, with the addition of an appeal from that officer to one of the Judges.”120

Disraeli, unlike Mill, did not look to Christie for instruction on this matter. The key question addressed by the government’s Election Petitions and Corrupt Practices at Elections Bill concerned jurisdiction over controverted elections.121 The measure proposed to transfer jurisdiction from Election Committees of the House of Commons to a judicial tribunal.122 What little opposition there was to the principle of the Bill was not party motivated. Gladstone accepted the need for such a change and did not take a leading part in the debates. Mill himself endorsed the measure, declaring that “though it does in reality only one thing, that thing is a vigorous one, and shows an adequate sense of the emergency” (262). Mill had no wish to see the Bill defeated; rather, he sought to expand its scope so that it could be made into a powerful weapon in the fight against the corrupt influence of money at elections.

The campaign organized by Mill secured none of its objectives.123 Nothing could be done to establish the enquiry mechanism urged by Christie. The Act of Edition: current; Page: [xlix] 1868 did not prohibit paid canvassers or limit each candidate to one paid agent; it did not apply to municipal elections; it did not transfer official election expenses from the candidates to the rates, an alteration advocated by Mill in Thoughts on Parliamentary Reform and in Representative Government.124

The account of this episode in the Autobiography, no doubt coloured by Mill’s experience of the general election of 1868, carries the full weight of his disappointment. Referring to the “fight kept up by a body of advanced Liberals,” he blames the Liberal party for the futility to which that fight was condemned.

The Liberal party in the House was greatly dishonoured by the conduct of many of its members in giving no help whatever to this attempt to secure the necessary conditions of an honest representation of the people. With their large majority in the House they could have carried all the amendments, or better ones if they had better to propose. But it was late in the Session; members were eager to set about their preparations for the impending General Election: and while some . . . honourably remained at their post . . . a much greater number placed their electioneering interests before their public duty. . . . From these causes our fight . . . was wholly unsuccessful, and the practices which we sought to render more difficult, prevailed more widely than ever in the first General Election held under the new electoral law.125

Implicit in the passage is a criticism of Gladstone’s leadership, the quality of which Mill would do nothing to impugn during 1868.

That Mill should seek to strike a blow for purity of election can surprise no one; that he should identify the cause so exclusively with a group of advanced Liberals reveals something of his underlying hopes for political realignment. A less narrow identification could have been made. Radicals may have been the most aggressive advocates of a systematic attack on corrupt practices but such advocacy was not confined to them. Beresford-Hope, a Tory, proposed an amendment to forbid the use of public houses as committee rooms. The Saturday Review, not known to sympathize with advanced Liberalism, expressed regret that the Bill did not go further. “The truth is that the Government Bill is only a half-measure. The whole of our election system requires overhauling. It is better to do what is proposed than to do nothing, but far more will yet have to be done before we have exhausted all reasonable legal efforts to put down or to detect bribery.”126 The Times, not one of Mill’s favourite newspapers, could write that “the great increase in the number of the moneyed class is as threatening a spring of danger as the adoption of Household Suffrage.”127 There could be an aristocratic as well as a democratic bias against money at elections.

Mill’s was emphatically of the latter sort. In Considerations on Representative Government he had written:

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There has never yet been, among political men, any real and serious attempt to prevent bribery, because there has been no real desire that elections should not be costly. Their costliness is an advantage to those who can afford the expense, by excluding a multitude of competitors; and anything, however noxious, is cherished as having a conservative tendency, if it limits the access to Parliament to rich men. . . . They care comparatively little who votes, as long as they feel assured that none but persons of their own class can be voted for.128

Mill’s objection to the Palmerstonian ascendancy was that it seemed impervious to politics as he understood the term. Palmerston’s House of Commons was a club of complacent comfortable gentlemen who felt strongly only about preserving an order of things that they found highly congenial. The broad appeal of the Palmerstonian Liberal party emanated from its standing for an ill-defined “progress” in general and nothing very much in particular. Politics without principles might serve nicely the interests of the rich but could not foster the social and moral improvement that Mill prized.

The transformation of the Liberal party into a vehicle of radical reform was vital to the creation of a politics of principle. The entry into the political arena of men of intelligence wedded to ideas and ideals had to be encouraged. Working-class participation in an advanced Liberal party purged of Palmerstonians was also requisite. If these objectives could be secured, the Liberal party would become something different from and far better than the loose combination of individuals who had followed Palmerston. Indispensable to this achievement, however, was a dramatic reduction in the cost of contesting elections, the end to which each of the amendments put forward by Mill and his associates was directed. The substitution of plutocracy for aristocracy could not make English government or English society what it should be; indeed, Mill was inclined to think that plutocracy aggravated the worst tendencies of aristocracy while introducing new ones to which aristocracy was not normally prone. “They desired to diminish the number of men in this House, who came in, not for the purpose of maintaining any political opinions whatever, but solely for the purpose, by a lavish expenditure, of acquiring the social position which attended a seat in this House, and which, perhaps, was not otherwise to be attained by them” (280).


the impact (if not the existence) of corrupt practices in the Westminster election of 1868 remains open to doubt. W.H. Smith’s great wealth contributed to his success in 1868, but its failure to obtain the desired result in 1865 suggests that other factors were at work in Mill’s second Westminster contest.

Parliament was prorogued on 31 July and formally dissolved on 11 November. The prorogation accelerated an election campaign that had indeed already begun, Edition: current; Page: [li] and lasted over three months. Mill left London for Avignon at the beginning of August and did not return to England until early November, two and a half weeks before polling day. His absence handicapped his Committee, which had just cause for irritation at Mill’s posture. His removal from the scene of action suggested an aloofness from the proceedings that probably did his cause no good. It did not, however, prevent him from making seemingly desultory thrusts into the electoral terrain—without consulting those who were working to secure his re-election—that his Committee understandably considered ill-advised.

In late, August Mill sent a ten-pound contribution to Charles Bradlaugh’s Northampton election fund.129 Not only was Bradlaugh a notorious atheist, Malthusian, and Radical, but his candidacy in a constituency already represented by two well-established Liberals (Charles Gilpin and Lord Henley) would inevitably provoke discord in local Liberal ranks. Prudence dictated that a candidate standing in the Gladstonian interest should refrain from promoting challenges to Liberal incumbents, especially when the challenger was Charles Bradlaugh. Mill either failed to see the potentially destructive ramifications of his identification with Bradlaugh or he was indifferent to the consequences. A Bradlaugh victory could only be had at the expense of one of the sitting Liberals, and Gilpin (a member of the Jamaica Committee executive), an advanced Liberal himself though certainly not in Bradlaugh’s league, respectfully expressed his unease to Mill in a letter of 7 September. In response, Mill assured Gilpin that Bradlaugh wanted Henley’s seat and assumed, along with Mill, that Gilpin’s position at Northampton was unassailable. He went on to say that Bradlaugh was a man of ability with distinctive opinions that should be heard in the House of Commons, adding that though “it is most important to uphold honest & honourable men, faithful supporters of our own party, like Lord Henley against Tories & lukewarm Liberals, [he did] not think that their claims ought to be allowed to prevail against the claims of exceptional men.”130

By late September Mill had learned from his Committee that the subscription for Bradlaugh had provoked considerable fuss in Westminster and created difficulties for his supporters. Mill, “exceedingly sorry” that there should have been “trouble or annoyance,” was not penitent. Had he not been a candidate he would have assisted Bradlaugh and he could not allow his own candidacy at Westminster to interfere with a course of action he thought right. It would be wrong for people to infer, Mill maintained, that his sympathy for Bradlaugh had any connection with the latter’s religious opinions. What Mill admired in Bradlaugh was his thoughtfulness, his “ardour,” his independence of mind. He was a “strenuous supporter of representation of minorities” and an “earnest” Malthusian. “If the capability of taking & the courage of maintaining such views as these is not a Edition: current; Page: [lii] recommendation, to impartial persons, of an extreme radical politician, what is?” Admitting that the first priority should be the return of supporters of Gladstone, Mill observed that opponents of Gladstone were not contesting Northampton and that it was necessary to look beyond “the immediate struggle.” He expressed the hope that the House of Commons elected in 1868 would embark on “a general revision of our institutions” and begin to act “against the many remediable evils which infest the existing state of society.”

Already the too exclusive attention to one great question [the Irish Church] has caused it to be generally remarked, by friends & enemies, that there will be very little new blood in the future Parlt, that the new H. of C. will be entirely composed of the same men, or the same kind of men, as the old one. Now I do not hesitate to say that this is not what ought to happen. We want, in the first place, representatives of the classes, now first admitted to the representation. And in the next place we want men of understanding whose minds can admit ideas not included in the conventional creed of Liberals or of Radicals, & men also of ardent zeal.131

In a letter of 1 October Mill again turned to the need for a real representation of working-class “opinions and feelings,” which he was not at all sure the result of the 1868 general election would secure. It would be the responsibility of the new House to pass legislation that would improve the quality of life for the masses. “This cannot be expected unless the suffering as well as the prosperous classes are represented.”132

That Bradlaugh, if elected, would do useful work in the House of Commons, Mill did not doubt; Edwin Chadwick’s services there, Mill believed, would be invaluable. Their longstanding friendship made him keenly conscious both of Chadwick’s ambition to sit in the House and of England’s shabby treatment of a man who had done much for the betterment of his society. Mill encouraged Chadwick to stand for Kilmarnock against E.P. Bouverie, an Adullamite, and Mill’s intervention in this contest would give rise to nearly as much unfavourable comment as did his support of Bradlaugh.133

Chadwick took with him to Kilmarnock a glowing letter of recommendation from Mill. On 16 and 22 October The Times published the exchange of correspondence that ensued between Bouverie and Mill. In his letter of 25 September the former conveyed his surprise and chagrin that Mill should instigate a division among the Liberals at Kilmarnock, who had supported Bouverie as their member for more than two decades. Acknowledging that he and Mill had their political differences, he observed that these had not prevented him, as an elector in Westminster, from endorsing Mill’s candidacy. “Toleration for minor differences, Edition: current; Page: [liii] union for common public objects, such, at least, is the doctrine I entertain with regard to party action, and without a practical adhesion to it, I believe the Liberals will be powerless for good.”134

In his response of 4 October Mill did not say what he thought of Bouverie’s notion of party. Instead, he concentrated on Chadwick’s special claims as an “exceptional man,” asserting that “I would very gladly put him in my place if I saw a probability of success.” Chadwick’s qualities were such that considerations of party were, in his case, of secondary importance. Mill implied, however, that he could, if pressed, defend his intervention on party grounds.135

Bouverie did press him. On 13 October he accused Mill of setting himself up as an authority competent to determine the best interests of the electors of Kilmarnock. “If I were to act on your advice [by withdrawing], the result would be a substitution of your individual opinion for the free choice of the constituency.” As the electors of Westminster, presumably, did not want Chadwick as their representative, there might be good reason to suppose that he would be no more acceptable to Kilmarnock. In effect, Bouverie charged Mill with an arrogant presumption that threatened to harm the Liberal interest, affirming that “the best hope of our common political adversaries lies in the Liberal constituencies being exposed to a contest among Liberals.”136

Mill issued a very lengthy rejoinder on 19 October, in which he projected a conception of the Liberal party from which he knew Bouverie must dissent. He laid bare the significance he attached to the general election, placing personal considerations well into the background, and announcing that “we are not now in ordinary times.” There were new electors and “new questions to be decided.” Parliament required men who understood “the wants of the country” and the remedies for “the most pressing existing evils.” The challenge to the Palmerstonians was unmistakable. If the “recognised candidates of the party” did not include “a reasonable number of men of advanced opinions, or possessing the confidence of the working classes,” then they should not be surprised to face competition from unrecognized candidates. The Adullamites had wounded the Liberal party in the preceding Parliament and “if a similar result should befall it in the next there will be cause for bitter regret that the liberal party did not fight out its battles at the polling booths rather than in the lobby of the H. of C.” Mill’s strident conclusion stated as bluntly as could be stated under the circumstances his view that the Liberal party could well afford to do without Bouverie and those who sympathized with his politics.

We do not want men who cast reluctant looks back to the old order of things, nor men whose liberalism consists chiefly in a warm adherence to all the liberal measures already passed, but men whose heart & soul are in the cause of progress, & who are animated by that ardour Edition: current; Page: [liv] which in politics as in war kindles the commander to his highest achievements & makes the army at his command worth twice its numbers; men whose zeal will encourage their leader to attempt what their fidelity will give him strength to do. It would be poor statesmanship to gain a seeming victory at the poll by returning a majority numerically large but composed of the same incompatible elements as the last.137

Mill hoped that the general election would initiate a Radical take-over of the Liberal party.

He may have felt fairly confident of his own success during the months in Avignon. By late October, however, the concern of Liberal organizers over the effort being mounted by W.H. Smith led to Mill’s being summoned to London for the final fortnight of the campaign.138 Only upon his return did he comprehend the seriousness of his predicament. The tone and content of his election speeches suggest that leading figures on the Liberal Committee, believing that Mill had put himself in a dangerously exposed position and desiring to undo some of the damage that had been done, counselled moderation, restraint, and discretion. That such advice should be proffered is entirely understandable; that Mill should have taken it to heart is perhaps a little baffling.

The most striking characteristic of Mill’s November election speeches is that they are indistinguishable in message from what orthodox Liberal candidates were saying up and down the country. They are highly conventional partisan speeches. Praise for Gladstone, cuts for the Tories, the obligatory reference to the Irish Church, vague allusions to Irish land and social reform—these are the staple of Mill’s election addresses.139 He had little to say about Jamaica, women’s suffrage, personal representation, or the radicalization of the Liberal party. Something approaching defensiveness crept into both the speeches and the letters he wrote for publication at this time. In reiterating his hostility to the ballot, Mill expressed regret that he should find himself “conscientiously opposed to many of the Liberal party, though not in principle, upon the ballot question.” (Mill stood on principle in rejecting the ballot; where this left the multitude of Liberals who favoured secret voting—from whom he pointedly declined to separate himself “in principle”—it is not easy to know.) His audience, in any case, need not worry about his position on the issue: “If he was wrong, he would be beaten in the end; so they could afford to let him have his way” (344). More revealing yet is Mill’s letter of 9 November on the Bradlaugh connection that appeared two days later in The Times, Daily News, and Morning Star. Written in response to the fuss over the matter being Edition: current; Page: [lv] kicked up by the Tories, it says much for his state of mind a week before polling day.

I suppose the persons who call me an Atheist are the same who are impudently asserting that Mr. Gladstone is a Roman Catholic. . . . An attempt was made to raise the same cry against me at my first election, & the defence which I did not choose to make for myself was made for me by several eminent dignitaries of the C[hurch] of England. . . . If any one again tells you that I am an atheist, I would advise you to ask him, how he knows and in what page of my numerous writings he finds anything to bear out the assertion.140

Helen Taylor, on discovering that Mill had penned such a letter for publication, was not a little indignant. “I cannot tell you how ashamed I feel. . . . Do not disgrace yourself as an open and truthful man; do not shut the door to all future power of usefulness on religious liberty by such mean & wretched subterfuges as this letter.”141

Helen Taylor did not walk in Mill’s shoes (though she may have tied them for him). In early November Mill had become acutely aware of the difficulties that in the preceding months had not penetrated his Avignon refuge. He held his cards close to his chest in the fortnight before the election because he lacked faith in the hand he had dealt himself. It was by no means a hand to be ashamed of—the pursuit of Eyre, fixity of tenure for Irish tenants, the contribution to Bradlaugh’s campaign, and the endorsement of Chadwick—and Mill was not ashamed of it. He feared, however, that it might be a losing hand. Mill wanted to win in 1868 in order to be part of a new Liberal dispensation to which he felt he had much to offer.

Neither Mill nor perhaps anyone else could have known in early November that W.H. Smith was not beatable. In the interval between the 1865 and 1868 elections Smith and his people had been assiduously nursing Westminster. His commitment and money, the latter drawn from a purse so deep as to approximate bottomlessness, generated the foundation of the London and Westminster Constitutional Association and fuelled the high level of activity it sustained in the lead-up to and during the 1868 election.142 Excluding the money spent on this effort prior to the summer of 1868 and the money spent by the London and Westminster Constitutional Association on behalf of Smith’s candidacy while the election was in progress, expenditure directly attributable to Smith at the contest came to £9000, more than four times what the Liberal Committee spent for Grosvenor and Mill.143

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The Liberals got many more votes for their money than did Smith, but they were not enough to carry Mill: Smith, 7648; Grosvenor, 6584; Mill, 6284. Smith’s victory marked the beginning of a trend that would establish Westminster as a virtually invincible Tory stronghold in the late nineteenth century. Two Tories would be returned at the 1874 election, Smith on this occasion polling 9371 votes, nearly 5000 more than the stronger of the two Liberal candidates.144 When viewed from this perspective, a perspective unavailable in 1868 to Westminster Liberals disappointed with their showing, it can be seen that Mill did not do at all badly. Might he have won had he known that Grosvenor and not Smith was the man to beat and acted accordingly?

Mill did not run against Grosvenor in 1868 nor could he have done so. In 1865 animosity between their respective Committees had been overcome shortly before polling day in the interest of mutual assistance, from which Mill stood to benefit more than Grosvenor. In 1868 there was a single Liberal Committee sponsoring both candidates. It could not be said that Grosvenor had distinguished himself in the House of Commons, but then no one had expected him to. Unlike his kinsman, the future Duke of Westminster,145 Captain Grosvenor had kept his distance from the Adullamite camp and done nothing to give offence to either Gladstone or advanced Liberals. In July of 1868 the leader of the Liberal party, aware that Grosvenor intended to stand again, sent a letter to the Chairman of the Westminster Liberal Committee recommending Grosvenor to the electors of the constituency.146 A unilateral decision by Mill to take on Grosvenor would have created havoc in Liberal ranks and probably harmed Mill more than Grosvenor, who might have attracted more Tory votes than he did if Mill had gone after him. Most Conservatives clearly plumped for Smith, but those who did not would be far more likely to split their votes between Smith and Grosvenor than between Smith and Mill. If Liberals of whatever stripe could find little to complain of in Grosvenor’s conduct, he was inconsequential enough to generate much less hostility among Tories than did his Liberal associate. Mill, in short, had almost no room for manoeuvre in November of 1868; that he finished only three hundred votes behind Grosvenor was in itself a triumph of sorts.

Although Mill was the most eminent of the Radicals denied admission to the Gladstonian host elected in 1868, he had plenty of worthy company. Bradlaugh and Chadwick were defeated. George Odger, in whose candidacy Mill had taken a Edition: current; Page: [lvii] special interest,147 retired from the field in Chelsea to prevent a Conservative victory there. Edmond Beales, George Howell, and W.R. Cremer—leading figures (as was Odger) in the political world of working-class activists—failed to win their contests. The university Liberals—G.C. Brodrick, E.A. Freeman, Auberon Herbert, George Young, Godfrey Lushington, Charles Roundell—were also unsuccessful.148 None of this was lost on Mill, who found little to celebrate in the results. In a letter to Charles Eliot Norton, Mill remarked on “the defeat of the radical party throughout the country.”149

A Liberal party, even one led by Gladstone, that did not include a substantial battalion of Radicals in the House of Commons (working-class representatives among them) was of limited use to Mill. The experience of 1868 compelled him to recognize that Liberal constituency organizations, largely dominated by men of means, would resist the changes in personnel and policy that he wished to promote.150 He also believed that such short-sightedness would ultimately alienate the working-class electorate and enfeeble the Liberal party. In early November he asserted to John Plummer that the “Liberal party will have cause to repent of not having adopted the best leaders of the working men and helped them to seats.”151 Mill urged working-class political organizations to use their influence to insist on representation equal to that of the higher classes within the party. “Where a place returns two members, one of these should be a candidate specially acceptable to the working classes: where there is but one, he shd be selected in concert by both sections of Liberals.”152 Mill’s loyalty to a Gladstonian Liberal party that refused to give the working classes their due did not extend very far. By February of 1870 he was ready to sanction tactics that emphasized his complete detachment from the Liberal establishment. Writing to George Odger, Mill declared: “It is plain that the Whigs intend to monopolise political power as long as they can without coalescing in any degree with the Radicals. The working men are quite right in allowing Tories to get into the House to defeat this exclusive feeling of the Whigs, and may do it without sacrificing any principle.”153

When Mill came to write the concluding section of the Autobiography he had been disabused of the notion that the 1867 Reform Act and a Gladstonian ascendancy would usher in a new political era responsive to his sense of priorities. He conceived of the years immediately following his defeat as the beginning of a Edition: current; Page: [lviii] transitional period, the outcome of which could not be confidently predicted.154 Mill’s post-election uncertainty manifestly distorted the account he gave of his parliamentary career by refracting it through a lens that elevated the independent aspects of his conduct at the expense of the pattern of action moulded from his interpretation of the ongoing party struggle and its possible implications. Such a pattern did exist, and its source resided in Mill’s view of himself as a progressive politician functioning within a system that seemed to offer unprecedented opportunities for a fundamental reshaping of the Liberal party.

In retrospect it may appear that Mill should have known better than to think that things could have turned out other than they did in 1868. His hopes and illusions, it might be supposed, were those of an amateur lacking a sound grasp of the English political world and the social forces that shaped it. Such condescension would be misplaced. The mid-Victorian equilibrium and the reassurance it gave the governing classes concerning the stability of English society made the granting of borough household suffrage a conceivable option in 1867. But those who conceded so much were by no means sure that nothing untoward would flow from it. Mill’s perhaps unreasonable hopes were matched by equally unreasonable fears on the part of some whose miscalculations could not be ascribed to political naïveté. Lord Derby meant what he said when he spoke of “a leap in the dark.” Mill was looking for a leap into the light, and from 1866 through 1868 he had done what he thought best to help prepare the way for it.


released from parliamentary constraints and responsibilities, Mill redirected his political activism in the last five years of his life to focus on several abiding passions: women’s suffrage, education, and land reform.155 As assessment of Edition: current; Page: [lix] Mill’s parliamentary career shows in its abundant variety those elements that defined its essential unity, so analysis of the late public speeches reveals features common to the core of Mill’s radicalism. Hitherto, the fundamental question has been: What do the Westminster years demonstrate about the character of Mill’s political objectives in the second half of the 1860s and the means by which he sought to give them effect? Emphasis has been placed on Mill’s conception of the party struggle and its relation to his ultimate purposes. The claim is not that the meaning of each and every speech he gave in the House of Commons can be uncovered only through a penetration of the political layers within which the words were often embedded, but that on those critical issues determining the rise and fall of party fortunes Mill acted as a politician in pursuit of fairly precise political aims. Even though the parliamentary context is not especially germane to most of the late public speeches, when viewed as a group they can be seen to encapsulate themes basic to what Mill had been doing from 1865 through 1868.

The speeches on women’s suffrage, education, and land reform manifest Mill’s commitment to a politics of inclusion. The exclusion of women from the franchise “is a last remnant of the old bad state of society—the regimen of privileges and disabilities” (407). Mill wants a sound elementary education made available to all children. He stoutly rejects the claims of religious sectarianism to rate-money designated for educational ends. The exclusionist tendencies of sectarianism were anathema to Mill. The existing distribution of landed property in England, buttressed by such artificial contrivances as primogeniture, entail, and strict settlement, unjustly excluded the vast majority of people from what should be accessible to all. Mill, speaking on behalf of the Land Tenure Reform Association, denounced such contrivances. The Association’s programme, in the drawing up of which Mill had been instrumental, also called for preservation of the commons, government supervision of the waste lands in the interest of the public and the agricultural labourers (to whom allotments on favourable terms should be offered), and—most radical of all—a tax on the unearned increment of rent.156 Landed property must no longer be treated “as if it existed for the power and dignity of the proprietary class and not for the general good” (417).

Unquestionably, a strain of old anti-establishment radicalism lingered in Mill. Privileges, monopolies, exclusiveness—in his mind, these were linked inextricably to the pernicious consequences of aristocratic government. Mill, however, was more interested in elucidating the advantages of progressive change than he was in savaging what remained (quite a lot) of the establishment.

Mill’s politics of inclusion sprang from a profoundly democratic civic Edition: current; Page: [lx] consciousness. Participation was integral to political education. An educated citizenry was vital to the creation and perpetuation of a healthy body politic. The expansive ideal of citizenship inculcated by Mill put a premium on a widely diffused energy, virtue, and intelligence. The achievement of a higher politics required, among other things, opportunities for personal growth, which entailed bringing more and better schooling, more civic participation, more material benefits, and more beauty within the reach of more and more people. Thus Mill ardently supported working-class enfranchisement and women’s suffrage; universal elementary education, which should be in no way inferior to the best primary education bought by the rich; the election of women and working men to school boards; generous allotments for agricultural labourers; public access to parks and commons; and, indeed, a citizen army (“Henceforth our army should be our whole people trained and disciplined”) (413). Political development, personal growth, and an increase in the total sum of human happiness were to advance together.

Mill appreciated that very practical considerations respecting political power had to be attacked by a reformer with an agenda such as this. Abraham Hayward, in his obituary on Mill for The Times, observed that “of late years Mill has not come before the world with advantage. When he appeared in public it was to advocate the fanciful rights of women, or to propound some impracticable reform or revolutionary change in the laws relating to land.”157 It should be borne in mind that Hayward and The Times would have cheered the resurrection of Palmerston. The picture of the later Mill as a crotchety philosopher promoting hare-brained schemes comforted those who wanted no part of his radicalism. That radicalism deliberately cultivated a hard-headedness that Hayward’s shallow dismissal cannot obscure. Mill persistently grappled with issues of power: political, intellectual, and economic. A state that withheld the franchise from women, quality elementary education from the masses, and land reform from the agricultural labourers of England and the tenant farmers of Ireland illegitimately denied to these groups the power needed for self-protection. The liberal state advocated by Mill would confer that power upon the disadvantaged and dispossessed. Mill’s political speeches, no less than his political writings, evince a readiness to tackle the problem of power. “Safety does not lie in excluding some, but in admitting all, that contrary errors and excesses may neutralise one another” (390–1). With the suffrage, women “cannot long be denied any just right, or excluded from any fair advantage: without it, their interests and feelings will always be a secondary consideration, and it will be thought of little consequence how much their sphere is circumscribed, or how many modes of using their faculties are denied to them” (380). Mill is encouraged by signs of an awakening agricultural labouring class, the “most neglected, and, as it has hitherto seemed, most helpless portion of the labouring population.” They had at last “found a Edition: current; Page: [lxi] voice, which can, and which will, make itself heard by the makers of our laws” (430). There is plenty of room for disagreement among commentators concerning how successfully Mill assayed the problem of power; it cannot be persuasively argued that he overlooked or evaded it.

The theoretical and practical tenability of a politics of inclusion partly hinged upon its enlistment of a valid principle and process of authority.158 The final authority for public policy must reside in the will of the democracy. The exercise of that will in the public interest, however, necessitated the acceptance by the demos of a conspicuous role for individuals with superior abilities, knowledge, and experience.

Different people had very different ideas of popular government; they thought that it meant that public men should fling down all the great subjects among the people, let every one who liked have his word about them, and trust that out of the chaos there would form itself something called public opinion, which they would have nothing to do but to carry into effect. That was not his idea of popular government, and he did not believe that popular government thus understood and carried on would come to good. His idea of popular government was, a government in which statesmen, and thinking and instructed people generally pressed forward with their best thoughts and plans, and strove with all their might to impress them on the public mind. What constituted the government a free and popular one was, not that the initiative was left to the general mass, but that statesmen and thinkers were obliged to carry the mind and will of the mass along with them; they could not impose these ideas by compulsion as despots could.


In Parliament and out, Mill strove with all his might.

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Textual Introduction

most of mill’s later speeches have never been republished.1 Those here collected2 are mainly from Parliamentary Debates and newspapers; one uniquely exists in manuscript and one in typescript, and four others are also extant in manuscript as well as in print; a handful appeared in pamphlets, and one was reprinted in Dissertations and Discussions.

Our goal, to include all Mill’s speeches in the House of Commons and in public,3 remains ideal, for several reasons. First, Mill kept no record of his speeches, and we have had to follow many trails, some clear, others overgrown. Locating the public, non-parliamentary speeches gave most difficulty. The existence of a few is signalled in correspondence and other documents, some are found in manuscript or in newspaper clippings in the Mill-Taylor Collection, and others have been located through that indispensable but tormenting aid, Palmer’s Index to The Times. The Times, however, did not report all Mill’s speeches, and we have had to search through files of other London (and occasionally provincial) papers. Under current and abiding conditions, such a search can never be final, and we have asked for and received help from scholars and institutions. Our success will be tested by time and the industry of others; our certain claim is only that we have found many more than were previously known. Locating Mill’s speeches in the House of Commons presents no comparable difficulty, the basic guide being the index in Parliamentary Debates. Even here, however, a couple of minor items appeared only after a search through St. Stephen’s Chronicle, a short-lived journal of parliamentary affairs.

A second problem lies in definition. What is “a speech”? Surely some interjections cannot qualify, and what of questions and replies, or series of short comments? No logical fineness seems here necessary, and our short answer is that Edition: current; Page: [lxiv] all Mill’s remarks are of value in a complete record of his parliamentary career. For convenience we have ruled that all Mill’s recorded words on a specific subject of debate on one day constitute a speech. This policy would prove annoying if he had often made an isolated comment on an issue, which we would by this rule dignify as a speech; fortunately, almost all his interventions can be merged with others as part of a continuing discussion in Committee of the Whole. In fact, we have preserved only a few potentially irritating instances, of which Nos. 30, 35, and 78 are most likely to peeve; if there were more, another practice would be justifiable. The impatient will be grateful that Mill’s one recorded silent intervention is mentioned only in a footnote (No. 22, n1). And one intended speech is recorded only here: on 12 March, 1868, the Speaker was faced with several Members, including Mill, Agon-Ellis, and Pim, who wished to offer remarks on the Irish Church. Bernal Osborne moved that the Honourable Member for Westminster be next heard, thus occasioning “some laughter, mingled with cries of ‘Order’ ”; however, the Speaker ceded the floor to Agon-Ellis.4

Though a secondary goal is to give, through our text and editorial apparatus, a skeletal guide to Mill’s activities in the House of Commons, we have not elevated to textual status his seconding of an unsuccessful motion for a return of the number of times since the Act of Union the Habeas Corpus Act had been suspended in Ireland or the number of acts of repression there since then, and of the number of Irish people sentenced for political offences, indicating which acts had been applied in each case (19 Mar., 1868; PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 190, col. 1939). We also have not given as textual items his notices of motion.5 All of these except two are mentioned in notes to speeches when the motions were made; in two cases, however, no speech was reported. On 5 March, 1867, on Mill’s motion, a return was ordered of the number of robberies of pillar letter-boxes in the metropolis and city of London, giving the number for each year separately from the period of the establishment of the system.6 And on 16 May, 1867, he gave notice of motion that certain petitions against the National Gallery Enlargement Bill be referred to a Select Committee on the Bill.7


the typescript is that of “Secular Education,” the first item. It transcribes a manuscript, not now located, formerly in the possession of Harold J. Laski, who Edition: current; Page: [lxv] published it in an appendix to his edition of Mill’s Autobiography.8 He had bought it as part of Lot 719 in Sotheby’s sale on 29 March, 1922, of the effects of Mary Taylor, Mill’s step-granddaughter.9 The extant manuscripts are printed here in Appendix D; a fragment is given as a variant note to No. 26; and a speech of Helen Taylor’s appears as Appendix F. The manuscript of No. 6, “The Westminster Election of 1865 [2],” was part of Lot 669 in the second Sotheby’s sale of Mary Taylor’s effects, on 27 July, 1927. Described as “Speech to the Electors of Westminster, Auto. Notes, 4 pp. 8vo,” it was bought in 1956 for the Mill-Taylor Collection from Myers for £46. The Houghton Library, Harvard, obtained the manuscript of No. 16, “Representation of the People [2],” as a gift from George Herbert Palmer, who bought it (as a sticker indicates) at the sale of Mill’s books and papers by the Avignon bookseller, Roumanille, on 21–28 May, 1905, after Helen Taylor had moved back to England. The fragment of No. 26, “The Disturbances in Jamaica [1],” in the Yale University Library, was presumably part of Lot 730 in the Sotheby’s sale of 29 March, 1922, which included “various unfinished MSS. in the hand of J.S. Mill, and various essays on the Education of Women, etc., by Helen Taylor a large parcel.” The provenance of the manuscript of No. 144, “Women’s Suffrage [1],” in the Mill-Taylor Collection, is not known. The Houghton Library, Harvard, also has the manuscript of No. 145, “The Education Bill,” which was donated by Mrs. Norman Himes; it was, like that of No. 6, part of Lot 669 in the Sotheby’s sale of 27 July, 1927, “Auto. Notes for a Speech of [sic] the Education League, 9 pp. 4to.” The fragment of Helen Taylor’s speech, “War and Peace,” our Appendix F, also part of the Himes donation to Harvard, is not identifiable as an item from these sales.


each item consists of a headnote, the text, and notes. The headnote gives the provenance of the copy-text, lists other versions, and provides the immediate context, with other closely relevant information. The notes, at the foot of the page, are substantive and textual. The substantive notes include Mill’s own (in the sequence *, †, etc.) and the editors’ (in numerical sequence, beginning anew in each item or section of an item). The textual notes normally record variant readings, with alphabetic markers in the text signalling the word or words for which the variant reading is a substitute; these too begin anew in each item or section of an item.

The texts themselves have been determined in ways appropriate to their kind and provenance. No overall principle presents itself, although in places our methods Edition: current; Page: [lxvi] parallel those based on established principles; for reasons that will become obvious, new rules (with their exceptions) have had to be devised.

The problems originate in the recording and transmission of texts.10 Leaving aside for the moment the few instances where there is a holograph manuscript, we are faced in the non-parliamentary speeches with one or more reports taken in shorthand by recorders for the press or, in rare instances, for special interest groups, including the organizers of the meetings at which Mill spoke. If there is but one report, there are no decisions to make other than those resulting from a study of possible errors. But usually there is more than one report, and when there is, there are large as well as small differences. Most significantly, the reports differ in the length of the main text, in the reporting of answers to questions, and in incidental details. Also, there are differences in the emphasis given to particular parts of speeches, and in summary as against what purports to be (and undoubtedly sometimes is) a verbatim account. Furthermore, some reports are in direct speech, that is, the first person, present tense, but most are in indirect speech, that is, the third person, which by convention carries the past tense.11

Attempts to establish one text consequently must involve an initial choice of copy-text, and then a collation of goats and cabbages, as the French seem to say. If Mill indicates elsewhere, as he occasionally does, which text is to be preferred, we have followed his choice. The same decision might seem to be entailed when there is a pamphlet or other reprint; however, such a document may represent in places what he wished he had said rather than what he actually said. The latter elusive goal being ours, careful consideration must be given to internal criteria. The two most significant of these are comparative length and voice.

As to length, it may with reasonable certainty be assumed that reporters did not normally add (except perhaps transitional words); indeed the established rule was “When in doubt leave out.”12 So we have tended to accept the fullest account as copy-text. It is equally probable, however, that first-person are closer than third-person accounts to verbatim reporting, and are to be preferred for those portions of a speech that they cover. Fortunately, these two criteria seldom conflict, because first-person accounts are generally longer as well. Still, collation is necessary, for often reports that are inferior on these two grounds include matter not found in the copy-text. Consequently, it is necessary to compare what purport to be direct quotations with summaries, because the latter sometimes contain not merely ideas but words that seem prima facie and even after examination to represent something that was said. This comparison leaves one with a decision as Edition: current; Page: [lxvii] to which substantives should be included in the final text; that is, which words or passages should be added from versions other than the copy-text, and which substituted for what are judged to be inferior wordings. In accidentals the copy-text is followed except in demonstrable deficiencies (which are less frequent than the major provenance, newspapers, would suggest). The result is inescapably eclectic, but, given the facts, all the better for its mixed parentage.

It is physically impossible to record all the variant readings without printing parallel texts of each version, a solution both economically impossible and morally inutile.13 Our decision has therefore been to give in variant notes (a) all the readings from the copy-text for which alternate versions have been preferred, (b) alternate readings that, while they have not seemed sufficiently grounded to justify elevation to the text, are possibly what Mill said, or may have influenced judgments of what he said, and (c) manuscript versions that, though probably not uttered, might have been (the recorded version being a mishearing or reporter’s “improvement”), or that have interest as suggesting an ad hoc change of mind.

The question will have arisen in editors’ minds as to why the extant manuscripts are not chosen as copy-text. The reason is simply stated, although its simplicity will not convince traditionalists. As indicated above, what we aim at, looking up to admit and so ensure that we cannot hit the target, is a record of what Mill actually said. A manuscript, even if he read from it (and that option was usually not open and seldom followed), gives only what he apparently intended to say—“apparently” because most speakers consciously leave open the possibility of departing from a text when, as is normally the case, the occasion calls for an alteration. Further, the intention, no matter how fixed, is often frustrated by circumstances, such as lack of time, and faltering memory or tongue.14 It would be foolish to assert that what Mill actually uttered always better fulfilled the intentions he had when he planned a speech, but certainly most of the modifications found in our collations suggest a later intention consciously if rapidly cancelling or modifying the earlier one. To enable others to test our judgments, however, we give the full manuscript texts in Appendix D.

Given our view that the best version of a speech reflects its circumstances, we have also recorded, in italic type, the audiences’ responses.15 Here again we have followed the copy-text, except in adding responses not there contained and in substituting wordings that are fuller or more precise. In choosing the wording of responses from among differing accounts, we have taken that which is most expressive and full, and not given the others in variant notes, except in the rare Edition: current; Page: [lxviii] cases when there is some difference of tone or even full contradiction,16 or when the response can be seen as tied to a particular textual variant.17 The specific sources of the responses are given only when they form part of larger variants. The actual form of course reflects the different reporters’ (and perhaps editors’) views of how to indicate what happened;18 in surprisingly few cases do different versions suggest a bias towards or against Mill and his positions, but almost always they add not just colour but understanding to one’s reading. I hope, for instance, that the frequency with which audiences are reported to have responded with “(Laughter)” will modify at least interstitially the uninformed judgment that Mill was without humour.

A summary of the events leading up to Mill’s remarks is given in the headnotes. Except for the copy-texts, the dates of texts from daily newspapers are given only when they differ from that of the copy-text. Within the text itself the concluding events and remarks by others, and when appropriate intervening events and remarks, are supplied in italic type and, when summarized rather than quoted directly from the copy-text, also in square brackets. (This practice is quite straightforward except in the uncommon cases when a report moves from an apparent attempt to convey the main ideas, if not the words, into an obvious attempt to summarize the flow of the speech.) We have included in these summaries all references to Mill, sometimes embedded in long quotations.

In turning to Mill’s parliamentary speeches, it may be thought that one is leaving behind the excitement and weariness of textual problems. There is, after all, Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates on which to rely. What is not generally known is that T. C. Hansard Jr., who was responsible for the series from the 1830s through the period when Mill was in the Commons, had no official mandate and, apart from rare occasions, no reporters of his own.19 In fact, Hansard proceeded in just the way we have, collating newspaper accounts and giving an eclectic text; he, however, indicates the sources of his texts only in the rare instances when an asterisk signals that a speech was sent to him by the Member; almost always one is left with the choice of taking his text as gospel or trying to unravel what he has Edition: current; Page: [lxix] given and then knitting all together again in a new—or perhaps the same?—pattern. Neither of these choices is attractive, and we have fallen somewhere between. His resources, being immediate and concerted, were better than ours can be, and he and his collators were extraordinarily practised in their craft; therefore we have taken his versions as copy-text, looking for confirmation in the few extant manuscript and pamphlet versions. As a check, however, we have compared the versions in The Times, which is thought to have been Hansard’s main source, because generally it provided the fullest record. To our surprise, it appears that almost never does Hansard’s text agree with that of The Times; indeed, in Mill’s case, we have found only a handful of speeches, all very short, where there is coincidence.20 As a further check, we have made a comparison with the versions in St. Stephen’s Chronicle, which reported parliamentary matters in 1867; here again there is but rare agreement with Parliamentary Debates, although there is not infrequent agreement with The Times.21 This search produced, as mentioned above, two minor speeches by Mill (on 8 March and 4 July), neither of which is in Parliamentary Debates or in Palmer’s Index to The Times, though both are summarized in The Times.

The results of all these comparisons are not trivial, but are also not sufficiently significant for us to adopt anything other than Parliamentary Debates as copy-text. It must not be thought that this decision removes all problems, for even the difficulty over person and tense arises: in No. 120, for instance, which combines several of Mill’s interventions, the first passage in Parliamentary Debates is in the first person, present tense, while the next two are in the third person, past tense; consequently, in adding a fourth from The Times that is not in Parliamentary Debates, we decided to leave it in the third person, past tense, to match what immediately preceded it.

As in the public speeches, we have accepted some variants to complement or replace parts of the copy-text, and have used the alternate texts for the responses in the House. The newspapers’ record of responses is, indeed, much fuller than Parliamentary Debates provides, and gives more to think about.22

Mill, as a prominent Member, was solicited for texts, and at least some of the reports in the Morning Star, the Daily News, and the Daily Telegraph may have had the benefit of his manuscript notes. Writing in June 1866 to Charles Ross, the chief parliamentary reporter for The Times, who had evidently asked him to supply such manuscript, Mill said that, so far as he had examined The Times’s report, it Edition: current; Page: [lxx] seemed so good that it had not suffered by the lack of his script. He continued:

If I understand your note correctly it would not be open to you, if you took a speech from myself, to give slips to the other papers. I am afraid, if this is so, that it will generally prevent me from availing myself of your obliging offer to receive such communications from me. It is of much more importance to be well reported in the Times than anywhere else, but one is so much more certain of being so, that if one has to choose between sending one’s notes to the Times or to the other papers one would rather do it to the others.23

He explained his practice to W.F. Rae on 2 June:

The reason I do not give my speeches to the Times, is that the Times would keep them to itself, while the other papers give slips to one another. It would be a great piece of servility to give anything that depends on me to the Times alone; denying it to the papers with whose politics I agree, and which have acted in the most friendly manner to me throughout.24

As mentioned above, occasionally Mill gave the nod to one or another account, crediting with the best report the Morning Star (Nos. 47 and 124) or the Daily Telegraph (No. 133), and it may be assumed that they were, as most sympathetic to his views, generally fuller in their accounts. But the presumption is not strong enough to override, in the case of the public speeches, the evidence from collation, or, in the case of the parliamentary speeches, the superior resources of Hansard.

In brief summary, we conclude that the text of public and parliamentary speeches, when there are competing authorities, must be eclectic, in the interest of providing the reader with the fullest account possible in one place. The assumptions behind particular choices of text are that (a) Mill did not normally give reporters a text (exceptions, as indicated above, are given special authority), and even when he did, his final intentions, which we respect, are better indicated in the reports of what he said than in what he planned to say; (b) normally reporters made no attempt at verbatim reporting (their highest goal being that of T.C. Hansard, a “full and accurate” account),25 but summarized and revised, taking little time over decisions, aiming to fill the available space with what in their view their editors and readers would find most important; (c) reporters and editors for various newspapers differed in their views of what was most important; (d) reporters and editors did not normally add passages, though they added transitional words or phrases to make their summaries coherent; and (e) as a result, the fullest text from any source probably contains more of what Mill actually said, and so should be used as copy-text, though any variant found in another version may accurately represent what Mill said in that particular passage.

Edition: current; Page: [lxxi]


in general, contractions and abbreviations are expanded to conform to what would be spoken. Other changes are listed in Appendix G, with explanations except when the change has been made for obvious reasons of sense (including easily identified typographical errors).

In conformity with modern practice, italic type is used for the titles of works published separately, while quotation marks are placed around titles of parts of separate publications. Foreign words and phrases are normalized to italic, as are the abbreviations for currency.

In the appendices giving questions and petitions, the dates that begin entries are styled uniformly. When a speech is reported in the first person, the introductory “Mr. J.S. Mill:” is not recorded.


the system of recording variant readings used throughout this edition is based on superscript letters in the text; these appear in pairs around words or phrases, or singly centred between words or between a word and punctuation. As explained above, in the few cases where there are manuscripts, these are printed in Appendix D, but some passages, interesting for various reasons, are also given as variants. The practice for the public speeches is illustrated in No. 4, where the Morning Star provides the copy-text, but alternate readings are adopted from the Daily News and The Times. For instance, on 12 a superscript italic lettera appears in the text at the beginning and end of a two-sentence passage; the variant note, beginning “a-aDN” gives the alternative reading from the Daily News (three sentences) and then, following a closing square bracket and “TT”, the alternative reading from The Times (two sentences). At 12d-d a sentence from the Daily News, not paralleled in the other version, is given in the text; the variant note reads “d-d+DN”. At 12e-e another passage from the Daily News is given in the text; the note indicates again the source and that it is an addition by “e-e+DN”, and then continues after a closing square bracket to give the alternative reading from The Times, beginning “TT”. When an alternative reading is not given in the text (as is the case with manuscript versions), a single centred superscript appears in the text at the place where the reading occurs. For example, at 20,b is centred between “debauching” and “the constituents”; the variant note reads “bManuscript (by strictly legal means of course)”. The interpretation is that the manuscript reads “debauching (by strictly legal means of course) the constituents”, and that, as reported in the copy-text, Mill omitted the parenthesis. The parliamentary Edition: current; Page: [lxxii] speeches, again for reasons explained above, take Parliamentary Debates for copy-text, with a few variants noted from The Times and (for 1867) St. Stephen’s Chronicle; these are based on the same principles as those in the public speeches.


appendix a gives the physical details about the manuscripts. Appendices B and C fill in the detail of Mill’s parliamentary career by giving his questions as a member of Select Committees, and the origins, subjects, and dates of the petitions he presented. Appendix D contains the full manuscript texts of speeches that are represented in the text proper by printed sources. Appendix E calls attention to occasions when it is known that Mill spoke, but no record is extant of his remarks. Appendix F supplies the text of a manuscript speech that is in Mill’s hand, but undoubtedly was prepared by his step-daughter, Helen Taylor, for her use. Appendix G lists and explains the textual emendations, while Appendix H is an index of persons and works cited in the text and Appendices B-D and F. Finally, there is an analytic Index, prepared by Dr. Jean O’Grady with her customary categorical and alphabetic skill.


the following short forms are used, mainly in the variant notes, the headnotes, and in Appendix H. To avoid confusion with “MS” signalling the Morning Star, “Manuscript” is spelled out in full.

35=“Rationale of Representation” (1835)

B=The Beehive

CW=Collected Works of J.S. Mill

CS=Chapters and Speeches on the Irish Land Question

D&D=Dissertations and Discussions

DN=Daily News

DT=Daily Telegraph

JP=Jamaica Papers

JSM=John Stuart Mill

MET=Manchester Examiner and Times

MP=Morning Post

MS=Morning Star

P=a pamphlet

P1=the 1st ed. of a pamphlet

P2=the 2nd ed. of a pamphlet

PD=Parliamentary Debates (Hansard)

Edition: current; Page: [lxxiii]

PMG=Pall Mall Gazette

PP=Parliamentary Papers



SC=Mill’s library in Somerville College, Oxford


SSC=St. Stephen’s Chronicle

TT=The Times

W=Women’s Suffrage: Great Meeting in Edinburgh in the Music Hall, on 12th January 1871, under the Auspices of the Edinburgh Branch of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage (Edinburgh: printed Greig, 1871).


for permission to publish manuscript materials, we are indebted to the National Provincial Bank, residual legatees of Mary Taylor, Mill’s step-granddaughter, and (for specific manuscripts) the British Library of Political and Economic Science, the Harvard University Library, and the Yale University Library. In addition to these, we are indebted to the librarians and staff of the British Library, the Institute of Historical Research (University of London), the Newspaper Library and the India Office Library and Records of the British Library, Somerville College Oxford, the University of London Library, the University of Toronto Library, and the Victoria University Library.

As ever our work has been gladdened and lessened by the warming and unstinted aid of individuals, among the host, Robin Alston, Sue Grace, J.R. de J. Jackson, Trevor Lloyd, Ray Maycock, Mary S. Miller, the late Francis E. Mineka, Pamela G. Nunn, Walter O’Grady, Helene E. Roberts, and Ann Christine Robson. Among the always helpful members of the Editorial Committee we are especially indebted to J.B. Conacher and Ann P. Robson, the former a mentor and guide to both, the latter a source of wise advice appreciated by one and almost always heeded by the other. The generous financial support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada was essential to the preparation and production of these volumes. The staff of the Mill Project are part of the efficient and indeed material causes, especially the Senior Research Assistant, Marion Filipiuk, and the Post-doctoral Fellow, Jean O’Grady, with the Editorial Assistant Rea Wilmshurst, each of whom showed in her individual way the constant and dedicated watchfulness, the inventive intelligence, and not least the interest that make our work a pleasure. The part-time junior members, Jonathan Cutmore, Michele Green, Margaret Paternek, Jannifer Smith-Rubenzahl, Elizabeth King, Marion Halmos, John Huxley, and John Sipos, all contributed to our pleasure and the edition’s profit.

Edition: current; Page: [1]


Edition: current; Page: [2] Edition: current; Page: [3]

November 1850 to July 1865

1.: Secular Education

Fabian Society typescript, headed in ink, “Secular Education.” The occasion is not known. Printed by Laski in his edition of Mill’s Autobiography, pp. 326–30, with the comment, “Not delivered,” and dated 1849 (no evidence given). Laski’s dating is clearly wrong, as Mill refers to events later than 1849. There are no substantive differences between the two versions; the typescript is followed in accidentals.

sir, the commencement at Manchester of a movement for a national education not under the control or management of either established or non-established clergy has already, it would seem, made no inconsiderable impression on the public, or else The Times has made a false move and miscalculated the signs of the coming public opinion; for already at the very beginning of the agitation that journal has discovered, what it did not find out in the case of the Corn Law League until the fourth or fifth year of its existence, that the thing is not merely a good thing, but what is so much better in the estimation of The Times, a thing destined to succeed.1 The promoters doubtless thought no less, but they probably did not expect so early a recognition of their prospects. How much then it is to be lamented that an enterprise of so much promise should have been inaugurated by an act of truckling and compromise; that for the sake of conciliating people who are not to be conciliated and whom it ought not to have been an object to conciliate, the Association should have let itself be persuaded by Mr. Cobden, aided by some dissenting ministers, to sacrifice its distinctive flag, and instead of calling itself an Association for secular education should have sheltered its timidity under the ambiguous designation of unsectarian.2

Edition: current; Page: [4]

If this is only a change in words and means nothing it deserves no better name than that of deception; if it does mean anything, if by unsectarian is to be understood something different from secular education, the broad principle of religious freedom which was to be the foundation of this great educational movement is abandoned.

In the debates of the Conference there was a good deal of misunderstanding, some of it I fear rather wilful on the part of Mr. Cobden and his supporters respecting the import of the word secular. There is no uncertainty about it. There is not a better defined word in the English language. Secular is whatever has reference to this life. Secular instruction is instruction respecting the concerns of this life. Secular subjects therefore are all subjects except religion. All the arts and sciences are secular knowledge. To say that secular means irreligious implies that all the arts and sciences are irreligious, and is very like saying that all professions except that of the law are illegal. There is a difference between irreligious and not religious, however it may suit the purposes of many persons to confound it. Now on the principles of religious freedom which we were led to believe that it was the purpose of this Association to accept, instruction on subjects not religious is as much the right of those who will not accept religious instruction as of those who will. To know the laws of the physical world, the properties of their own bodies and minds, the past history of their species, is as much a benefit to the Jew, the Mussulman, the Deist, the Atheist, as to the orthodox churchman; and it is as iniquitous to withhold it from them. Education provided by the public must be education for all, and to be education for all it must be purely secular education.

When, then, the Association refuses to say that their education is secular but are willing to say that it shall be unsectarian, what do they mean? Doubtless that it is still to be exclusive, though in a minor degree. That religion is to be taught, but not sectarian religion. That they are not to have Church of England teaching, or Catholic teaching, or Baptist, or Methodist, or Unitarian teaching, but I suppose Christian teaching; that is, whatever common elements of Christianity are supposed to be found in all these sects alike. How far this is likely to conciliate the various classes of sectarians the Association will probably hear loudly enough from the sectarians themselves. I am much mistaken if they will be at all thankful for any religious teaching which expresses no opinion on a subject on which Christians differ in opinion, or if the substratum of universal Christianity which it is proposed to teach will appear to them at all different from Deism. But this is their concern. I take higher ground. I maintain that if you could carry all the sects with you by your compromise you would have effected nothing but a compact among the more powerful bodies to cease fighting among themselves and join in trampling on the weaker. You would have contrived a national education not for all, but for believers in the New Testament. The Jew and the unbeliever would be excluded from it though they would not the less be required to pay for it. I do not hear that their money is to be refused, that they are to be exempted from the school Edition: current; Page: [5] rate. Religious exclusion and inequality are as odious when practised towards minorities as majorities. I thought the principle of the Association had been that of justice, but I find it is that of being unjust to those alone who are not numerous enough to resist.

I cannot help remarking how much less confidence professed Christians appear to have in the truth and power of their principles than infidels generally have in theirs. Disbelievers in Christianity almost always hail the advance of public intelligence as favourable to them; the more informed and exercised a mind is, the more likely they account it to adopt their opinions: but I cannot find a trace of similar confidence in most of the professedly religious. If they hold their belief with the same full assurance as the others their disbelief, surely infidels and the children of infidels are those to whom, even more than to any others, they would be eager to give all instruction which could render their minds more capable of pursuing and recognising truth. A person is without religious belief, or in other words is in their estimation in a state of the most pitiable, the most calamitous ignorance by which anyone can possibly be afflicted, and for this reason they refuse him instruction, they refuse him knowledge and the cultivation and discipline of the intellect, as if they thought that mental cultivation could not possibly be favourable to Christianity, unless the mind is first strongly prepossessed on its behalf. Such sentiments as these are not complimentary to Christianity nor to the sincerity of their belief in it. Its greatest enemy could say nothing worse of it than that either ignorance or early prejudice is the soil it must have to flourish in, and that to instruct unbelievers, to make them rational and thinking beings, is but to confirm them in unbelief. I hoped that the founders of the Lancaster Association3 had been persons who thought that mental cultivation opens the mind to all truth, whether expressly taught or not. Let us hope that this conviction is still theirs and will guide and animate their labours; but they have missed through pusillanimity a splendid opportunity for inscribing it on their banner and proclaiming it in the face of the world.

2.: Cooperation
28 MARCH, 1864

The Reasoner (then subtitled The Secular World and Social Economist), XXVIII (1 May, 1864), 116–17. Dated in text “Easter Monday.” Headed: “Great Co-operative Soiree in London. / Speech of Mr. J.S. Mill.” Also in The Co-operator, No. 52 (June 1864), pp. Edition: current; Page: [6] 4–6. Both journals were the property of George Jacob Holyoake, who says, in his J.S. Mill as Some of the Working Classes Knew Him (London: Trübner, 1873), p. 5: “The first time [Mill] appeared at a public meeting and made a speech was at the Whittington Club, before a large tea gathering of co-operators with their wives and families. I was asked to urge him to speak. . . . [H]ad it not been for the evidence of so many women taking part in co-operative economy, . . . he, I suspect had not spoken then.” The organizing group was the London Society for Promoting Co-operation. The Chair was taken by Edward Vansittart Neale. His speech was followed by those of Lloyd Jones, Dr. Bowker, and Henry Pitman (editor of The Reasoner). Then Mill spoke.

i have very little to say, but that little will be to express my sense of the great value of such societies as this is, as a central organ in London, and possibly for much more than London. It appears to me that the value of such a society consists not solely or principally in the great advantage it affords, to bring into a single focus the interests and efforts of its members, so as to carry on, as this purposes to do, that joint operation for their common benefit; it is not this merely which seems to me to constitute the principal value of a central organ like this—but it is also to be a moral organ, to keep before the eyes of co-operators true principles. What does this mean? Does it mean merely a contrivance by which a small number of persons, or a small number of societies can eat or drink that which is wholesome, and eat and drink it at the lowest price? This is certainly not an unimportant thing; but this is a small thing, and co-operation is a great thing. No doubt it is very desirable, and, indeed, important, that some hundreds of persons or societies should improve their condition—if they should do so, I would be very glad, and should greatly rejoice at it,—and that they should purchase what they want more cheaply and of better quality than they have been accustomed to do. But this is not co-operation. It is not co-operation between a few persons to join for the purpose of making a profit from cheap purchases, by which one, two, or more might benefit. Co-operation is where the whole of the produce is divided. aWe want, not to benefit a few, but to elevate the whole working class.a This principle has been so well stated before, that I should not venture to insist upon it after the admirable manner in which it has been put by previous speakers; but it is absolutely necessary to insist upon it, and it is impossible to insist upon it too strongly. It is not bgenuineb co-operation, where any of the cco-operators are excluded from the division of the whole producec. Anything else than such participation in the produce, is nothing more than raising working people into the position of employers. Now, what is wanted is, that the whole of the working classes should partake of the profits of labour. (Cheers.) We want that the whole produce of labour shall, as far as the nature of things will permit, be divided among the Edition: current; Page: [7] workers. The nature, however, of things dfixes certain limitations. But the whole of the produce of labour can be divided amongst the workers only to the extent that it is obtained fromd their own industry. So long as profits are thus obtained, and the workers are in possession of capital, they will naturally receive,—as they are entitled to receive,—the whole of the produce; but as long as they are not in possession of means sufficient, or cannot employ their labour, they will need to be aided by greater means—by the capital of those ewho, ore whose progenitors have accumulated it by their labour for acquired it by their intelligence. Thosef who furnish a portion of the capital, will, no doubt, be entitled to a portion of the profit. The earnings of capital are not large—its remuneration is not great. Three per cent. is but little for its use; that is the rate with the Government, where the security is the best given. Capitalists are satisfied with four per cent. from some of the railway companies, where the security is not so good. This is all that can be obtained for the risk implied in its investment. Now, we are not to suppose that co-operation may not be made as safe as railway companies. Indeed, you may ultimately hope that the workers will be able to divide among themselves the whole produce, with the exception of the small amount I have mentioned. Three, or four, or five per cent., five pounds out of £100, is but a small deduction. Who can say that this is too much, or that it is unreasonable for the use of capital to be applied to the purposes of labour? Few societies would think of offering a less consideration gthan that to their own members to induce them to save, and put their savings into the joint concerng. Many people think, although the co-operatives have very judiciously and very rightly shown no hostility to any other class—no desire on their own account to bring any other class down, yet that their aims are unattainable. A difficulty is felt; and it is said, what is to become of capital, if you succeed to the extent you hope for? In the first place, it is necessary to state that this is a gradual process; for as long as there are hany working people who are dishonest—as long as there are any who are idle, who are intemperate, who are spendthrifts—so long there will be working people who are only fit to beh receivers of wages. We are enabled to judge of those who are honest and trustworthy in the same way as we are to judge who is untrustworthy, so that, while we ought not to give our confidence rashly, there is also a danger in withdrawing it rashly when it has been once reasonably, and after due consideration, given. Here are two dangers; and it follows, that, so long as there are persons unworthy to take a part in great Edition: current; Page: [8] operations, there must be persons receivers of wages. iIt is only when the entire working class shall be as much improved as the best portion of them now are that our hopes will be realised, and the whole mass of the people will practically adopt co-operation.i There is no fear that there will be any disturbance of existing interests, that there will be any disposition to avoid taking part in the working out the problem. Nothing will last any longer than the circumstances which necessitate it. There is no fear that co-operation will spread faster than the co-operators jimprovej. It is not an easy thing. It is certain there will be, for many generations a great scope for labour in common way of wages. It is only in proportion as the lower grades rise to the level of the higher classes—it is only in proportion as that great change takes place, that the advantages of co-operation will be individually felt; and persons will become ashamed of not taking their due share in the work; and no difficulty whatever will be felt of obtaining capital to co-operate with labour. This will be a new millennium, which it requires but little knowledge to comprehend as entirely practical. We want, then, the co-operation of all workers—such ought to be our object. We ought to proceed towards this cautiously and tentatively, and never attempt to do an act which we feel will not be recommended by right principle. We ought to be content with steady persevering co-operation. I do not mean that the industrial or commercial operations of co-operatives can or ought to be carried on on some gigantic scale; for all such operations as you contemplate are in their essence limited. That which can be carried on from your side, must be necessarily small. The duty of all such co-operative societies is first, that they should help one another, that they should encourage those who have gone first, and shown the others the way to go,—how to succeed, and the sort of success worth having. (Cheers.) How to succeed will be learned by degrees. Co-operators will learn by practice. It is not an easy thing: if it had been, people would not have waited until this period for it. It cannot advance further than the minds and morals of the people engaged in it knor faster than honest and competent men and women can find howk to manage its concerns. It cannot progress faster than the lability to distinguish those who are trustworthy, and the willingness to trust them when foundl. These are the points on which co-operators are most in danger of failing—in the first place in not having competent and trustworthy managers; and, in the next place, to have them and not to know them. (Hear.) Then, what is the success to be kept in view! mBut when this great improvement in the mind of the people has taken place,—when all have become capable of co-operation, and most have adopted it,—I believe that the Edition: current; Page: [9] owners of property will be ashamed to be the only persons who do not take their share in the useful work of the world, and will be willing to invest their capital in co-operative societies, receiving a fair interest for its use. This is the millennium towards which we should strive. I do not mean that the industrial or commercial operations of particular co-operative societies can or ought to be carried out upon some gigantic scale. All that such societies as this can do, is in its nature limited. But this co-operative societies can do—they can help one another. Those who have succeeded can encourage and show the way to others; and they can keep constantly in view both the way to succeed, and the sort of success worth having. How to succeed will be learned by degrees—co-operators will learn by practice.m I confess, if there were no other object in view than that persons who are original members should make themselves a little better off, I should not be addressing you to-night. I should be glad of it. I should be rejoiced at any person being improved in his position. This, however, is a small thing compared with co-operation. What we ought to aim at is, not to enable a small number of persons to rise, but all workers to share in the profits of labour. It all depends upon keeping right principles in view. All depends upon the disposition to put into practice the excellent principles that Mr. Lloyd Jones has expounded.1 I believe there are many co-operators who are fully imbued with these principles, and I believe that the number is increasing. It is because I believe this n—and therefore feel assured thatn co-operation will ultimately regenerate the masses of the country, and through them society itself, that I have ventured to address you this evening. (Loud cheering.)

[Following Mill, the Rev. Henry Solly (a long-time friend of Mill’s family) and George Jacob Holyoake spoke.]

3.: Corruption at Elections
4 APRIL, 1864

In Frederick D. Maurice, Corruption at Elections (London: Faithful, 1864), pp. 14–16. Briefly noted in the Daily Telegraph, 5 April, 1864 (copied in the Beehive, 9 April, p. 2), and the Law Times, 16 April, p. 277. The Department of Jurisprudence and Amendment of the Law, a section of the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science, met at its offices, 3 Waterloo Place, Edwin Chadwick (1800–91) in the Chair, to consider the standing committee’s report on the paper by William Dougal Christie (1816–74), which is included, with Chadwick’s speech, in the pamphlet and was issued as Suggestions for an Organization for the Restraint of Corruption at Elections (London: N.A.P.S.S., 1864). Edition: current; Page: [10] After mention by G.W. Hastings of registration in Ireland, letters were read in support of the report, and then Mill spoke.

it is unnecessary here, though it might be necessary in some other places, to insist upon the magnitude of the evil to which this report relates. What is at stake is nothing less than the vitality of representative government. If the majority or a preponderant portion of the House of Commons represented only their own pockets, we should, indeed, have what Mr. Disraeli called a Venetian Constitution,1 and that in a very bad form. It would be a great mistake to suppose that we have seen the worst of this evil. I am persuaded that we are only in the beginning of it. When we consider the rapid growth of manufacture and commerce, and the number of persons that are constantly becoming wealthy, whose sole ambition is to obtain what wealth alone has not yet given them, namely, position, we see what a rapidly increasing number of persons there is to whom it is worth any money to acquire the only thing purchaseable by money, which will give them the grand object of their desire. I have been told by one who has filled a distinguished position in Australia2 that there were within his knowledge five or six persons, Australians, who were only waiting for a general election to offer themselves to English constituencies, with the object I have mentioned. I mean nothing uncomplimentary to Australians. I believe them to be a very intelligent community. But the instance suggests the class of persons who make this evil an increasing one—the vulgar rich, to whom it is worth while to spend any amount of money for the sake of station in society. Persons of established position are often wishing to spend money corruptly, but there is a limit to the amount they will spend. They can gain comparatively little in importance by lavish expenditure. Their position is made, and they may even impair instead of advancing it if they spend too lavishly. But to a person of the other kind a seat in Parliament may be worth half his fortune. Now I think the Society must feel that, saving exceptions (admirable exceptions there are sure to be,) this class of persons, whether they act the part of flunkies, crouching at the feet of the aristocracy, or of envious demagogues anxious to bring them down, or, as will often be the case, are ready to turn from either of these parts to the other, according to convenience, are about the most undesirable and the most dangerous class of persons who can obtain admission to Parliament. It may be thought that the only evils to be apprehended from them are those of what may be called plutocracy; but, in reality, we should Edition: current; Page: [11] have those of democracy too, for if the costliness of elections limited the choice to such men, the electors, finding no one to vote for whom they could trust to act according to his own judgment and conscience, if they themselves have any regard to their own particular opinions, will bind them strictly by pledges to abide by subjects which the electors care about. The House of Commons would be an assembly of delegates, while on other subjects the member would vote according to his own interests or caprice, or according to the questions in which he desired to curry favour. Now as to the remedying of this, I am not one of those who think that legal means would necessarily be insufficient. I think there are legal measures which could be made effectual, but only if backed by a moral demonstration of a sufficient number of honest men, who would league themselves together against the political crime, expressly or virtually pledging themselves both to abstain from it personally, and to use all their influence to prevent it. They would probably be able to obtain from the Legislature any such enactments as may be desirable, while they would supply the only powers which could enable those enactments to be enforced. Great credit is due to Mr. Christie for having, as it seems to me, “hit the right nail on the head.” As to the persons who should take this in hand, I think there is none so fit as this Society. aNo individual, and no self-elected committee could address themselves to the leaders of parties, and to influential politicians throughout the country, nor would they be listened to if they did. But this Association, not to mention the larger society of which it now forms a part, could address itself to anyone.a

[Mill concluded by moving the reception and adoption of the report; the motion was seconded by Frederick Hill, and adopted after discussion. A report on Walter Crofton’s paper on the convict question was read, received, and adopted, and the meeting adjourned.]

4.: Hare’s Plan for the Metropolis
10 APRIL, 1865

Morning Star, 11 April, 1865, p. 3. Headed: “Corrupt and Pernicious Influences at Elections.” Also reported in summary form on 11 April in the Daily News, and The Times, and (apparently copied from the Morning Star) in The National Reformer, 16 April, pp. 250–1. The well-attended evening meeting, with many women members present, of the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science and the Society for Promoting the Amendment of the Law was held in the Rooms, Adam Street, Adelphi, with Lord Stanley in the Chair. The principal speaker was Thomas Hare (1806–91), author of A Treatise on the Election of Representatives, Parliamentary and Municipal (London: Longman, et al., Edition: current; Page: [12] 1859), which had a profound effect on Mill (see Autobiography, CW, I, 262–3). Hare read his paper, “On such an organisation of the metropolitan elections as would call into exercise the knowledge and judgment of the constituencies, and as far as possible discourage all corrupt and pernicious influences” (The Times, 11 Apr., p. 10). In the ensuing discussion seven members spoke before Mill.

mr. j. stuart mill dilated at much length on the details of the plan submitted by Mr. Hare, and pointed out that the objections raised to it were caused by a misapprehension on the part of those who, either through a want of interest in the matter or a determination to adhere to the present state of things, neglected to pay sufficient attention, so as to properly understand it. aIt seemed to him that the plan proposed was as simple as possible, easy to be understood, and if given a trial would be found to be effectual and salutary in its results. Mr. Mill then referred in caustic terms to the manner in which contending parties under the present system get themselves represented, dwelling particularly on the part the great clubs play during election times.a bFor instance, he remarked that no sooner a vacancy for a Liberal or Conservative candidate occurred than some one went down from a club with 3,000l. or 4,000l. at his back, saying, “I am a Liberal,” “I am a Conservative,” as the case might be.b But by the plan proposed by Mr. Hare this system would be checked. cBoobies would no longer be able to go down to constituencies with any chance of success; and besides, public interest would be elicited to a far greater extent than at present.c dHe referred to the injustice of the existing system, in leaving the minority, say 19,000 out of 40,000—the election being carried by 21,000—practically unrepresented.d He considered the proposition of Mr. Hare both feasible and just, and he trusted the discussion that evening, and a little better understanding of the plan submitted, would have the effect of gaining for it that public support it so well deserved, and that the result would be that it would at all events get a fair trial. eThis evil would be remedied by the Edition: current; Page: [13] proposed plan, which, in answer to the objection that it was complex and impracticable, he said was much more simple than the multiplication table, and might be easily understood by anyone who took the trouble to examine it fairly. Mr. Hare’s plan, he knew, was anxiously thought of by some of the leaders of the working classes, and he should not be surprised if, before long, it became part of their political programme. He claimed for it the merit of giving ascendancy to none and justice to all.e He considered that the metropolitan constituencies offered a good field for the purpose of trying the experiment, and he urged the desirability of doing so.

[After discussion, Hare replied. A motion of thanks to Hare, calling for his paper to be printed and circulated to members, was passed, and the meeting concluded with a vote of thanks to the Chair.]

5.: The Westminster Election of 1865 [1]
3 JULY, 1865

Daily Telegraph, 4 July, 1865, p. 3. Headed: “Election Intelligence. / Westminster.” The evening meeting was called by Mill’s general committee in one of the large rooms of St. James’s Hall. This was Mill’s first speech on his return to England to stand for election, and, as he indicates, it was impromptu; he had prepared for a speech on the 5th (see No. 6). This occasion clearly involved a surprise: “although it was only what was termed a meeting of the general committee, it was to all intents and purposes an open meeting, between 300 and 400 gentlemen being present” (Daily News). There “were present on the platform most of the leading Reformers not only of the city of Westminster but of the metropolis at large.” Though many were present “who formed no part of the body invited to meet Mr. Mill, . . . the proceedings throughout were undisturbed” (The Times). “The chair was taken at eight o’clock by Dr. Brewer [William Brewer (d. 1881), a prominent physician and medical writer, a consistent supporter of Mill], who introduced Mr. Mill in a highly eulogistic speech.” Then Mill, who “was received with great cheering,” spoke.

gentlemen, I can most sincerely say that our excellent chairman has not in the slightest degree exaggerated anything in what he has said respecting my want of preparation for a speech to-night. I did not at all expect that I should be called upon to make an address. I understood there was a day appointed when I should make a speech and express my sentiments as far as you desire to hear them. I thought that I should only be expected to meet you to-night as friends, and for the purpose of joining in friendly conversation—(hear, hear)—and thus have the opportunity of giving any explanation that you might wish respecting my political views—upon points which I have not sufficiently made known, or may not have sufficiently explained. For this, I was ready, but I was not in the least aware of the public character of this meeting (referring to the reporters). Therefore, I hope you will, Edition: current; Page: [14] in consideration of my want of experience in such cases, excuse the imperfections which must necessarily arise from my want of preparation. (Applause.) Let me begin by saying, that if our chairman has not made any exaggeration in that respect, I am afraid that he has in many others, for I do not know how it will be possible that I should fulfil all that he has said respecting me, in case I have the honour of being elected your representative. I say it will be difficult for me to fulfil the high expectations which must have been raised—(no)—by the friendly and favourable opinions which have been uttered respecting me throughout the whole of this election—friendly and favourable opinions, too, from quarters whence I could little expect them. The mere fact of the number of distinguished persons who have consented to have their names placed on my committee is a matter for which personally I cannot possibly be too thankful. It is a most distinguished honour itself, besides the fact of having been selected by such a body, as a candidate for the important post of representing Westminster, perhaps the most important seat in the whole House of Commons. (Hear, hear.) A higher honour than this can scarcely be conceived. But, though one of the highest, it ought not to be considered as a favour. (Applause.) If it be considered as a favour I have no right to ask ita, and the electors would have no right to confer ita. It is not a favour; it is an onerous duty which you are anxious to impose upon me, and which I cannot but feel flattered to the highest degree at being thought worthy and capable of properly holding. (Cheers.) If I should receive your support and be elected to the House of Commons, I feel that I must fall below your expectations. (Loud cries of No, no.) Notwithstanding the utmost exertions which I could make, I feel that I must necessarily remain behind. (Renewed cries of No, no.) One thing I will say, no one can feel stronger than I do the importance of that part in the contest which has nothing to do with me individually—and that is purity of election. (Cheers.) I am obliged to say that you give me too much honour when you bestow on me the glory of that. If you are victorious, the praise will not be mine, the praise will be wholly yours. (No.) It is all very well for me to say how desirable are these things, but you have to accomplish them, therefore to you will be the credit. You have to maintain the fight to elect me on what you suppose are my qualifications, and which are my only recommendation. I am a person almost entirely unknown to you except through my writings. You have not only undertaken to elect a person on these grounds, but you have also undertaken to do it and bear all those expenses—ordinary expenses—which ought never to be borne by the candidate. (Great applause.) For those charges which are legitimate ought to be borne by the public or the municipal body—(hear, hear)—and those which are illegitimate ought never to be incurred at all. (Cheers.) You have undertaken to abstain from the illegitimate expenses, and to bear the burden of the legitimate. (Yes, and cheerfully.) This you have performed, and not only so, but you have done it Edition: current; Page: [15] having to bear up against a candidature which is conducted on opposite principles1—a candidature conducted on principles of the most lavish expenditure. (Hear, hear, and cheers.) And neither is this all, for you have not only to contend against this, but you have to evoke a spirit in the constituency which shall rise superior to those opposite principles, and to a level with those which you have adopted. (Hear, hear.) Therefore the praise will be yours. It is easy for me to say that I will use no illegitimate or even bwhat were usually consideredb legitimate means. Yours will be the deserved credit. I do not think that it is right a candidate should make any other pledge than a complete sincerity cand that he ought not to canvass the electorsc. (Hear, hear.) It costs me nothing to say this, but it costs you much, for it is you who have to bear the burden. (Cheers.) Whatever honour I may receive, it will be you who have gained it for me. I cannot help thanking the worthy chairman for having paid the tribute he has done to one to whom in my early life I owe everything—to my father (applause)—a man who has done more, infinitely more, for the public cause than I can ever do; because he lived in times when there were few to do it—when the fact of being Liberal—Liberalism which was worth anything—stood most seriously in the way of a man’s advancement in life, and especially of men who had their bread to gain.2 He had to win his bread by his pen, and had to do this at a time when his opinions were such as necessarily to produce not only the ill-favour of the chiefs and recognised leaders of political parties, but to compromise him with all the powerful classes of this country. I say he did this at a time when there were very few to favour or praise him. Nothing that I can do will compare with this—it will not have a tenth, a hundredth, a thousandth part of the merit which belongs to those who went before me. To him I am indebted for everything which has made me at all capable of following in his footsteps. As it is, I may say, if there is a time when a person may be allowed to speak of himself, it is on such an occasion as this. I may perhaps say something which may make you better satisfied with me, when I affirm that I have sat by the cradle of all the great political reforms of this and the last generation; and I have not only sat by the cradle of these reforms, but before I was out of my teens I was up and stirring, and writing about them. (Hear.) I have stood by these reforms, which now count followers by millions when their followers did not count tens of thousands, nay, not thousands, nor hundreds. (Cheers.) When they only counted tens I was Edition: current; Page: [16] amongst them. Nay, I may say, when their followers only counted units—when that which is now the universally received principle respecting the government of our colonies was not always so. I can recollect the time when there were two men amongst the active political writers of this country who recognised it—two men, Mr. Roebuck and myself.3 (Great cheering.) I can remember another thing which many of you may—which, indeed, you must have heard—the Wakefield doctrine for finding funds for supplying the population of the colonies.4 The Wakefield principle is to put a price on uncultivated land, and employ the proceeds in paying the expenses of immigrationd, which would prevent them from settling down as Irish cottiersd; the price, at the same time, being an obstacle to the too great dispersion of the inhabitants. That was in 1831, when there were three persons who held that—Mr. Wakefield, the inventor or discoverer, myself, and one other.5 And we so worked the principle that in four years a new colony, South Australia, was founded on the principle. (Cheers.) eIn a few years afterwards it was a principle which was very greatly extended over all our Australian Colonies. From that date, long before the discovery of the gold mines, these colonies entered upon a career of prosperity which has continued, and those colonies now constitute one of the most splendid offshoots of the English people.e (Cheers.) I have said this for the purpose of showing I have never been one of those who have left difficult things for others. (Cheers.) I have never been one of those who have left things alone when they have been an uphill fight, but I have left them when the fight was no longer difficult. When the thing was prosperous I have left it for a time, and have said, “This matter no longer requires me,” and I have therefore transferred my services to those who did. (Loud cheers.) I have left that prosperous thing, and have turned to something else—to something that was still a crotchet, still an abstraction, still something that no practical person would battle with. (Hear, hear.) For I have been accustomed even in my life—and all history confirms the same thing—I have been accustomed to see that the crotchet of Edition: current; Page: [17] to-day, the crotchet of one generation, becomes the truth of the next and the truism of the one after. (Cheers.) I have lived long enough to see the three steps of this process taking place with a number of my opinions. I have told you a number of my crotchets now, and perhaps they will be truisms by-and-by. (Hear, hear.) I think, gentlemen, as all of you have consented to be members of my committee, I may take it for granted that you have a sufficient general idea of my political opinions for you to be aware what course I should take if you do me the honour of electing me. (We will.) But if there is anything respecting which you wish to know more, or anything upon which you would wish further explanation, and to ask my sentiments, here I am to answer. (Hear, hear.) Coming, as I said, unprepared, I have stated that which came uppermost in my mind. It rests with you upon what other topic I shall speak. If any of you will do me the honour of putting any question, I will endeavour to answer it. (Cheers.)

Mr. Probyn said that a rumour had been circulated by the Conservatives that Mr. Mill did not intend to go to the poll. fThis was utterly false; for not only did they intend to go to the poll, but they believed by next Tuesday night that Mr. Mill would be one of the members for Westminster. (Cheers.)f He would simply venture to mention the American question as one upon which he would wish to ask Mr. Mill to give them some little explanation—viz., with respect to the doctrine of non-intervention. He read a paper of Mr. Mill’s, which in 1857 was published in Fraser’s Magazine, and which well pleased him.6 Its doctrine was that we as a country ought not to intervene in the domestic, in the purely internal events which occurred in any particular country, whatever our sympathies might be; but this did not preclude our interfering in the affairs of the continent when any one power or any two by their attitude or acts jeopardised a third power, and which might be a free power. In that case we ought to interfere for the sake of freedom, and in so doing we did not contravene the real doctrine of non-intervention.

Mr. Mill said that this was a correct quotation from his writings. gHe did not think it was possible for a nation more than an individual to say that if it should cost anything, it would not help people who were struggling in a good cause. He thought intervention was generally wrong, not on account of the nation interfering, but of the nation with which it interfered. He thought every nation was the best judge of its own affairs.g (Cheers.)

Professor Masson strongly advocated the claims of Mr. Mill.

Edition: current; Page: [18]

A gentleman in the body of the room asked the honourable candidate’s views respecting Church and State and the Maynooth grant.7

Mr. Mill said that as he had said before he would not give a pledge; but this would not prevent him from stating what was his sincere opinion. His sincere opinion was that it was best that Church and State should be perfectly distinct. He was against all connection between Church and State. As things stood, he did not think this was a practicable object. hHe thought their object should be to exercise all the influence the State had over the Church, to improve its spirit.h He thought most present would agree with him that the State was considerably more Liberal than the Church. (Cheers.) iThere had been occasions on which the State had tended to corrupt the Church, but at present matters stood the other way.i He had a great opinion that at present those who held the most liberal sentiments—and by liberal he did not mean lax, but who took the most Christian view of religion—had a much greater chance of being in the highest places of the Church than if the Church were separated from the State. Respecting the Maynooth grant, he should be quite ready to discontinue it as soon as no State endowment was granted to any other religion. (Hear, hear.) As long as there was, and especially that jutterly condemnablej body, the Irish Church Establishment—(hear, hear)—he should think it a very great shame to take away from the religion of the body of the people the small pittance which they were allowed. (Applause.)

kNo resolutions were moved, and the proceedings concluded by the announcement of a series of meetings which Mr. Mill would attend.k8

6.: The Westminster Election of 1865 [2]
5 JULY, 1865

Morning Star, 6 July, 1865, p. 2. Headed: “Election Intelligence. / Meeting of Mr. J.S. Mill with the Electors of Westminster.” The speech exists in a shorter version in manuscript (Mill-Taylor Collection, printed in Appendix D), and was reported fully on 6 July also in the Daily Telegraph, the Daily News, and The Times (the last in the third person). The meeting was held in St. James’s Hall in the evening. “A considerable time before the hour for the commencement of the meeting the hall was crowded to excess by an audience, a large portion of whom seemed to be electors. The meeting displayed a feature not common Edition: current; Page: [19] at election assemblies. Both side galleries were occupied by ladies, who appeared to take a warm interest in the proceedings.” (Morning Star.) Edwin Lankester (1814–74), surgeon, coroner for central Middlesex, and professor of natural history, long known to Mill, was in the Chair. He said “it gave him great pleasure in introducing Mr. John Stuart Mill as a candidate for the suffrages of the electors of the ancient city of Westminster. (Cheers.) Mr. Mill was not unknown to them by name: he was not unknown to the people of England by reputation. (Hear.) He was known wherever the interests of humanity lay deep in the hearts of men, wherever progress and civilisation formed an element in the thoughts of men. (Hear, hear.)” (Morning Star.) “They saw before them the great philosopher of the day, and he should have been still better pleased if they could have elected him without seeing him” (Daily News). “They would find that Mr. Mill was not an advocate of chimerical theories as had been represented, but a man of large and practical views. He was a great politician and a great practical philosopher, [“and though some of his ideas were termed crotchets, they would turn out to be the seed from which they would hereafter have abundant results” (Daily News)]; and he trusted they would not from any imaginary difference of religious views push him from the pedestal on which he now stood. (Cheers.). The opposition to Mr. Mill on account of his religious opinions was disgraceful to Westminster. (Loud and prolonged cheers.)” He mentioned the “great religious teachers of the day”: Charles Kingsley (1819–75), Anglican priest and author; Frederick Denison Maurice (1805–72), also priest and author, an acquaintance of Mill’s since the 1820s; Connop Thirlwall (1797–1875), historian and Bishop of St. David’s since 1840, also known to Mill since the 1820s; and Arthur Penrhyn Stanley (1815–81), author and professor of ecclesiastical history at Oxford, Dean of Westminster since 1864: all had publicly expressed support for Mill’s candidature, in the face of his anti-Church attitudes. Those men, Lankester said, “had perfect confidence in his opinions; and he hoped therefore that they would away with the wickedness and uncharitableness which sought to reject Mr. Mill on account of his religious views. (Loud cheers.)” (Morning Star.) “Mr. Mill, on rising to address the meeting, was received with the utmost enthusiasm. The people rose en masse, and waved their hats and cheered, and again and again renewed the cheers. When silence was restored” (The Times), Mill spoke.

ladies and gentlemen, it is probable that many persons present desire that I should explain why I have hitherto abstained from all the ordinary practices of candidates, and from appearing at public meetings of the electors. My reasons for doing so have been stated in the letter in which I consented to be made a candidate;1 but that is no reason why I should not repeat them here. When I stated in my letter that for my own sake I should not desire to sit in Parliament, I meant what I said. I have no personal objects to be promoted by it. It is a great sacrifice of my personal tastes and pursuits, and of that liberty which I value the more because I have only recently acquired it after a life spent in the restraints and confinements of a public office; for, as you may not perhaps know it, and as many people think that a writer of books, like myself, cannot possibly have any practical knowledge of business, it is a fact that I have passed amany hours of every day fora thirty-five years in the Edition: current; Page: [20] actual business of government.2 These personal considerations I have cast aside—(cheers)—but there is one thing which it is not so easy to cast aside—a rooted dislike to the mode in which the suffrages of electors are ordinarily sought. To be selected by a great community as the representative of what is highest in their minds, their consciences, and their understanding—of their sincere convictions and their patriotic sentiments—is one of the highest honours which it is possible for the citizen of a free country to receive. (Hear, hear.) But to be sent into Parliament as representative of that part of the electors whose minds are to be got at by money—who are to be reached by trickery—by saying one thing and meaning another—by making professions which are not intended to be acted upon, and which being contrary to one’s own convictions it would be a greater breach of morality to keep than to violate—that I regard not as an honour but as a disgrace. (Cheers.) Therefore, when a body of this great constituency did me the honour to make the most unexpected and flattering proposal of presenting me as a candidate for your suffrages, I answered that I should not be willing to spend £10,000 in corrupting and debauchingb the constituents who are debauchable and corruptible; that neither would I give any pledge except the single pledge to be always open and above board (loud cheers); and that neither would I solicit your votes. I hold the whole system of personal solicitation to be a mistake. Not that I would condemn those who merely have conformed to a bad custom, and have done nothing to make that custom worse than they found it. A seat in Parliament ought not to be a matter of solicitation, because it cannot be a matter of favour. I have no right to ask it as a favour; you have no right to grant itc. You have no right but to select the man who appears to you to be fittest. That was my answer, and to the honour of Westminster—I may say that much, though I am a party concerned—a body of men were found who were sufficiently alive to what is due to public principle, who were sufficiently solicitous for their own honour, and for the honour of this constituency, to say dthat not the man who did those things, but the man who would not do them, was the man of their choice. (Cheers.) It remained to be seen if the electors of Westminster thought so too. (Cheers.)d That, gentlemen, is the way in which I became a candidate, and it would have been quite inconsistent with a candidature grounded on these considerations to have gone about amongst you and asked for your votese. (Hear, hear.) My principle is that you are bound to elect the fittest man. Would it have been decent in me to have gone among you and said, “I am the fittest man”? (Hear, hear.) What would have been thought of the candidate who said, “It is your duty to elect a man of merit; here am I, elect Edition: current; Page: [21] me.” (A laugh and cheers.) Gentlemen, I am not here because I proposed myself; I am here because I am proposed by others. I hope you don’t suppose that I think all the fine things true about me which have been said and written with so much exaggeration, but with a depth and strength of kind feeling towards myself, for which I never can be sufficiently grateful, by numbers of persons almost all personally unknown to me. I know that you will excuse fthese strong encomiumsf, knowing how much a man is liable to be overpraised, as well as unjustly attacked, at a contested election. (Hear, hear.)

Perhaps you may ask, since for those reasons I have during all these weeks not come among you, why I come now. I come for two reasons. I was told by those who had good means of judging that many of you desired to know more of me than you have been able to collect from what I have written. Such a statement as that left me no option, for you have a right to know my opinions and to have an opportunity of judging for yourself what man you are to select. Whatever you think right to ask concerning my political opinions it is my duty to tell you, I stand pledged to answer you—and it is the only pledge I will give—not only truly, but with perfect openness. (Cheers.) It would have been as easy for me, as it is for many others, to have put forth a plausible profession of political faith. It need not have been one of those wishy-washy, meaningless, and colourless addresses—(cheers)—of which the papers are now so full, and which a Tory, Whig and Radical might equally have signed—which bind them to nothing, and which are consistent with almost any vote that they can give. (Cheers.) I need not have been reduced to such an extremity. (Hear, hear.) I might have made out a long gbona fideg list of political questions on which I have the high satisfaction of believing that I entirely agree with you. I might have passed gently over all subjects of possible difference and observed a discreet silence about any opinion that might possibly have startled anybody. (Laughter and cheers.)h I did the very reverse. I put forth no address, but instead I undertook that whatever questions you put to me concerning my political opinions I would answer fully. (Hear, hear.) The questions that you did put to me I answered with a degree of unreserve which has been a sort of scandal in the electioneering world. (A laugh and cheers.) What compelled me to say anything about women’s votes or the representation of minorities? Is it likely that any one would have questioned me upon those points? Not one of you probably would, but you asked what my opinions on Reform were, and being asked, I did not think it consistent with plain dealing to keep back any of them. (Cheers.) I dare say I lowered myself prodigiously in the eyes of those persons who think that the cleverest thing in a candidate is to dissemble, to finesse, and to commit himself to nothing if he can possibly help it. “How injudicious!” said one; “How impractical!” said another; “How can he possibly expect to be elected on such a Edition: current; Page: [22] programme?” thought even sincere friends. In answer to all that I beg them to consider—1st, that perhaps if I had the choice I would rather be honest than be elected—(loud cheers, which continued for several minutes); and 2nd, that perhaps the electors of Westminster have a taste for honesty and may think that man who deals honestly with them before he is elected is the more likely person to deal honestly with them after he is elected. (Renewed cheers.) Of one thing I am sure—thati, even though a man should lose his election by it,i the most practical thing in the world is honestyj, and perhaps they would live to learn this lessonj. (Hear, hear.)

I suppose you would hardly expect me to travel over a whole catalogue of political questions, and tell you things which you know quite as well as I do. kIt would be better that I should answer questions afterwards, and give you any explanations that you may desire on particular points. What I will do now is to attempt to give you an idea of the general tendency of my opinions.k I am here as the candidate of advanced Liberalism—(cheers)—and I should like to tell you what in my estimation these words mean. Mr. Gladstone (cheers) in one of those memorable speeches which have made every sincere reformer look to him as our future Parliamentary leader—(cheers)—has given us a definition of the difference between Tory and Liberal. He has said that Liberalism is trust in the people, limited only by prudence; that Toryism is distrust of the people, limited only by fear. (Cheers.)3 That is a distinction which in one of its aspects is a most important one; but there is a still larger view that may be taken of the difference. A Liberal is he who looks forward for his principles of government; a Tory looks backward, (Cheers.) A Tory is of opinion that the real model of government lies somewhere behind us in the region of the past, from which we are departing further and further. Toryism means the subjection and dependence of the great mass of the community in temporal matters upon the hereditary possessors of wealth, and in spiritual matters to the Church, and therefore it is opposed lto the last moment,l to everything which could lead us further away from this model. When beaten the Tory may accept defeat by a necessity of the age, but he still hankers after the past, and still thinks that good government means the restoration in some shape mor otherm of the feudal principle—(hear, hear)—and continues to oppose all further Edition: current; Page: [23] progress in a new direction. The Liberal is something very different from this. nThe probability is,n that we have not yet arrived at the perfect model of government—that it lies before us and not behind us—that we are too far from it to be able to see it distinctly except in outline, but that we can see very clearly in what direction it lies—not in the direction of some new form of dependence, but in the emancipation of the dependent classes—more freedom, more equality, and more responsibility of each person for himself. (Loud cheers.) That, gentlemen, is the first article of my political creed. Now for the second. Believing as I do that osociety ando political institutions are, or ought to be, in a state of progressive advance; that it is the very nature of progress to lead us to recognise as truths what we do not as yet see to be truths; believing also that pby diligent study, by attention to the past, by constant application,p it is possible to see a certain distance before us, and to be able to distinguish beforehand some of these truths of the future, and to assist others to see them—I certainly think there are truths which qthe time has now arrived forq proclaiming, although the time may not yet have arrived for carrying them into effect. (Cheers.) That is what I mean by radvancedr Liberalism. sBut does it follow that, because a man sees something of the future, he is incapable of judging of the past? Does it follow that, because a man thinks of to-morrow, he knows nothing of to-day?s That is what the dunces will tell you. (Cheers and laughter.) I venture to reverse the proposition. The only persons who can judge for the present—who can judge for the day truly and safely—are those who include to-morrow in their deliberations. tWe can see the direction in which things are tending, and which of those tendencies we are to encourage and which to resist. That is a policy to which we look for all the greater good of the future.t But while I would refuse to suppress one iota of the opinions I consider best, I confess I would not object to accept any reasonable compromise which would give me even a little of that of which I hope in time to obtain the whole. (Cheers.)

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There is one more topic upon which I have something to say. I have told you one reason why I have now come amongst you. There is another. The contest has changed its character. It uno longer relates to me personallyu. What you are called upon to decide is not whether you prefer me to somebody else: it is whether the representation of Westminster, up to this time the most honourable seat in the House of Commons, is to continue hereafter, as it has been heretofore, to be obtained by the honest choice of the constituents, or is to be had for money? (Cheers.) The very fact that such a question can be put—much more that there should be a doubt as to the result—is enough to fill with shame any inhabitant of Westminster who knows the ancient reputation of his city. (Cheers.) vWev Reformers have been accustomed to demand that the great landed nobility and gentry should no longer have it in their power to hoist their sons and protégés into Parliament over the heads of the constituents, passing over their minds, and addressing themselves either to their personal interests or to their hereditary subserviency. wWe object to this, and with reasonw; but what shall we gain, what will it profit us, to weaken aristocratic ascendancy if seats in Parliament are to be put up to auction? (Hear, hear.) What is it but putting them up to auction if they are to be knocked down to the man xwith the longest purse, and who is willing to spend his moneyx? (Cheers.) Of all the political nuisances of the day this is one which it most behoves everyone to make a stand against, because it is the only one which is increasing while almost all the others are rapidly diminishing. The great facilities for money-getting which arise from the unexampled prosperity of the country are raising up a crowd of persons who have made large fortunes or whose fathers have made large fortunes for them—(laughter)—and whose main object in life is by means of these fortunes to purchase position—that is to say, admission into the society of persons of higher rank than themselves. In this country there is only one way in which that can be done by money, and that is by getting a seat in Parliament: Was it for this purpose that the House of Commons was instituted? (Cheers.) I am the very last person to say anything disparaging of the class of persons I am speaking of and to assert that they have no business in Parliament. Many of them have strong claimsy, by their knowledge and abilities,y to a seat in the House of Commons, and are an element which it could ill spare. (Hear, hear.) But the mischief is that it is precisely those who have the least chance of getting elected on their own merits zwho have no chance of getting into good society by Edition: current; Page: [25] their talents, their education, and their breeding. It is exactly those personsz who are under the strongest temptation to employ the only other means open to them—viz., a lavish expenditure of money, in corrupting the electors—I say corrupting, not meaning necessarily a violation of the law. There is a great deal of corruption which is not technically bribery. (Hear, hear.) aIt makes no difference if a working man is paid for his vote or paid for putting a placard in his window.a Everyone who gets into Parliament by such means as these—by opening the public-houses—goes there to represent the vices of the constituency. (Cheers.) It is vain to hope that men will be shamed out of these things as long as they are not cut in societyb. But if you cannot prevent them from doing these things you can prevent them from succeeding. (Cheers.) The experiment is being tried upon you. A strong effort is being made to bring in a Tory candidate by an expenditure of money more profuse than a Tory ever attempted in this city. (Cheers.) It is tolerably well known that the majority of the electors of Westminster are not Tories—(a laugh)—and it is not uncharitable to suppose that the supporters of the Tory candidate rested their hopes upon money. If they thought that you had turned Conservative, that you had had enough of Reform, that constitutional improvements had gone far enough, and that it was now time to stop—(a laugh)—they would have selected for the distinction of representing this city one of their eminent men—one of the men who are an honour to their party—such a man as Lord Stanley.4 (Cheers.) When, instead of the man of the greatest merit they offer you a man who is willing to spend most profusely, they show plainly in what it is that they put their trust. (Cheers.)

Will you let them succeed? (Cries of No, no.) It is no exaggeration to say that all eyes are upon you. Every friend of freedom and purity of election in the country is looking to you with anxious feelings. There is another class of persons who are also looking at you, and they are thosec—and there are many of them—c who cultivate contempt of the people. All these are watching you, and hoping to find you worthy of their contempt. They are chuckling in the hope of succeeding in the attempt to debauch you. They say dthat it is not in you to elect any man except he is willing to spend his money, thatd you have no public virtue, and that public Edition: current; Page: [26] virtue is not to be expected from such people as you are. They are waiting eagerly and anxiously for you to justify their opinion. I hope you will disappoint them. (Cheers.) If you elect me and I should turn out a total failure—if I disappointed every expectation—you would have nothing to be ashamed of. You would have acted an honest part and done that which at the time seemed to be best for the public good. Can the same thing be said if you return the candidate of a party against which for a century past Westminster has in the most emphatic manner protested, for his money? If this great constituency should so degrade itself it will not only be the deepest mortification to all who put faith in popular institutions, but Westminster will have fallen from her glory, and she can never hold her head as high as she has done, because the progress of popular institutions, which cannot possibly be stopped, will have to go on ein futuree without her. (Mr. Mill resumed his seat amid loud and prolonged cheers.)

fMr. Harrow (a non-elector) asked what were Mr. Mill’s views with respect to marriage with a deceased wife’s sister.5 (Great laughter and cries of Oh, and Hear, hear.)f

Mr. Mill said he ghad not considered the outs and ins of the question of marriage with a deceased wife’s sisterg, but as he did not see any hconclusiveh reason why such marriages should not be permitted, he would vote for freedom in the matter. (Cheers.)

[In reply to Mr. Morrison, an elector of the City of London] Mr. Mill said he would do away with the Irish Church, root and branch. (Cheers.)

[An elector, Mr. Whitely, asked if Mill was in favour of the Permissive Bill.]6

iMr. Mill replied that this was a question on which it was painful for him to Edition: current; Page: [27] touch, because the answer which he was conscientiously compelled to give was one contrary to the opinions of persons for whom he had a sincere respect and sympathy. (Hear, hear.) He agreed thoroughly with the teetotallers and the temperance leagues in the objects they had in view, because he believed that the prevalence of drunkenness was one of the greatest obstacles to real national progress. (Cheers.) But for all that he could not say that because some persons abused the liberty now given to use intoxicating liquors, others should be deprived of the power of using them temperately. The Permissive Bill gave the power to the majority to coerce the minority in that respect, and therefore he could not assent to such a measure. (Cheers.) He trusted to improved education to render all such coercive legislation unnecessary. (Cheers.)

Mr. Whitely—I am perfectly satisfied. (Cheers.)i

In reply to other questions,

Mr. Mill said he was jnot opposed toj capital punishment in extreme cases—in cases where murder was aggravated by brutalityk—because, although death by hanging was less painful than death in bed, and was more merciful than imprisonment for life, it had a more deterrent effect on the imaginationk. He was in favour of the opening of the British Museum and similar institutions on Sundays, under proper regulations.

Mr. Malleson then moved a resolution declaring Mr. Mill a fit and proper person to represent Westminster, and pledging the meeting to make every effort to secure his return. (Cheers.) He announced, amid loud cheers, that the split in the Liberal party was likely, he might say certainly, to be removed, and hoped that the great Liberal party would vote for Mill and Grosvenor.

[The resolution was supported by Fawcett, Lord Stanley who “appealed to the constituency of Westminster as the ‘aristocracy of democracy’ to set a good example to the country at large by electing Mr. Mill,” Potter, Montague Chambers, and Henry Vincent.]

lBefore the resolution was put, a lady in the body of the room obtained permission to make a speech. Addressing the assemblage as “Gentlemen and ladies,” she, in a vigorous and well-finished style of public speaking, said she supposed it would be needless for her to tell them she was not an elector of Westminster—(laughter)—but she had heard as a secret, and as a woman was bound to tell it, that Mr. Mill was in favour of manhood suffrage and womanhood suffrage. (Loud cheers and laughter.) It seemed to her that the complaints against Mr. Mill on that account were not complaints against vice, but against excess of Edition: current; Page: [28] virtue. (Cheers.) The electors of Westminster had been called the aristocracy of democracy. Let then their honour be on the side of virtue. (Cheers.) It was said that men consulted their wives as to whom they should vote for—(laughter, and a voice, That’s true)—and she had heard that members of Parliament also who had wives asked them what votes they should give. (Laughter and cheers.) It was a motto of the ancient Spartans that a free man could never be the son of a bond woman. That might be so; but wherever there was intellect, wherever there was character, conscience, responsibility, there ought to be representation, although the sex might be female. (Cheers.)

The lady’s remarks were attentively heard, but at this part of her speech the Chairman, finding time was pressing, requested her to postpone further observations until the resolution was put.l

[The resolution was carried unanimously, amidst long-continued cheers, and the meeting ended with a vote of thanks to the Chair.]

7.: The Westminster Election of 1865 [3]
6 JULY, 1865

Daily News, 7 July, 1865, p. 3. Headed: “Westminster.” Reported also in the Daily Telegraph, 7 July. The evening meeting of the Westminster electors was held in the Regent Music Hall, Regent Street, Vincent Square, which “was densely crowded by an enthusiastic audience” (Daily Telegraph). Thomas Hughes took the chair and, alluding to Mill’s great practical qualifications, mentioned his advocacy of cooperation and exhorted the electors to vote on Monday or Tuesday. Hughes being obliged to leave the chair, Westerton took his place. Mill, who was “received with loud cheers, the assemblage rising and waving their hats” (Daily Telegraph), then spoke.

he explained in almost precisely the same terms as he used at St. James’s-hall1 the reasons that had induced him to come forward and to meet the electors personally. He said that he accepted the office of candidate on the condition that he should neither solicit nor buy votes. There was an old saying, not altogether true, perhaps, that he who buys will sell, and it was certainly not fair that a candidate who did not intend to sell the votes should be called upon to buy them. This meeting had been called for the purpose of giving what were termed the working classes an opportunity of seeing him and asking him any questions. He did not like the phrase “working classes,” because it implied the existence of non-working classes, and nobody in this country had any business to be idle. Indeed there was a growing feeling among those who could afford to be idle that they ought to be Edition: current; Page: [29] usefully employed. There was abundant scope for the spread of education among the richer classes as well as among the working men. For his part he never desired to be paid for being idle or for work which he did not do. His sympathies were all with working people. (Cheers.) There was a much greater distinction than there ought to be between those who worked with their head and those who worked with their hands. It would probably be better for the head workers if they worked a little more with their hands; it would be better for their health, it would tend to make them more cheerful, and it would lead to increased human fellow feeling and public spirit. It was, perhaps, not generally known that he was one of the first persons in the kingdom who had suggested the adoption of the principles of co-operation in a practical shape. aFive years before the Rochdale Pioneers society was established he wrote an article in the Westminster Review,2 the object of which was to show the radical party of the House of Commons, then almost on the eve of dissolution, how it might be reconstructed and rendered more in unison with the radicals out of doors.a At that time the radicals in the house did not go for universal suffrage, while those out of doors demanded nothing less, and his object in writing that article was to show the radical party in the house that the best way of getting out of its difficulty was to redress the practical grievances of the working classes, and he then pointed out the fact that by the operation of the then existing law co-operative societies could not be established; when the law was altered,3 and co-operative societies were established, they went on with surprising rapidity (hear, hear), and a way was soon found by which the working classes could raise themselves without pulling down anybody, but, on the contrary, with advantage, not only to themselves, but the country at large. The principle of co-operative societies went on extending itself, and the conviction of the truth of that principle eventually became so strong that it found an advocate bof all other places in the worldb in the pages of the Quarterly Review (oh).4 That implied an immense change in public opinion; the working men were in fact emancipated, and their cause was in their own hands. With respect to the extension of the suffrage, he went much further in his views of the concessions which he thought ought to be made to working men than did even those who sympathised warmly with working men, although, on the other hand, some might imagine that he had not gone far Edition: current; Page: [30] enough. It could not be a perfect government cin which one class of the community could legislate for another which was not representedc, and he certainly agreed in the opinion that no man who was competent to manage his own affairs ought to be without a vote. He thought the House of Commons ought to be placed in the position of da fair, just, and impartial umpire ord arbitrator between contending interests, and that any mode which would secure the return of one-half of the members who were devoted to the interests of the employed, the other half representing landed property, capital and their sympathisers would be in a position to reason justly on any grievance of the working men. Class distinctions should be abolished were it possible to do so; but so long as they existed they ought to be fairly represented in parliament. He would not permit the employer class to be represented in such a way as to be able to outvote the representatives of the employed, while so far as the suffrage itself went, he thought it ought to be given to all persons of age who could read, write, and cypher. eBut, though he was prepared to give to every man and woman who was of age, and capable of managing his or her affairs, a voice, he was not prepared to give them such an equality that, whether they were right or wrong, they should be able to outvote everybody else. (Hear, hear.)e fAlthough he had suggested plans of his own to accomplish this,5 he was quite ready to consider those of any other person. If he was returned to Parliament, he would give his earnest attention to any reform measure which might be proposed, and anything which would bring them nearer to that which they wanted would receive his support, as a compromise; but he would accept nothing which did not increase the influence of the working classes, and give a great many more representatives in Parliament. (Hear, hear.)f

gA person in the body of the hall put a question, quoting from a placard by the Tories, to this effect: “ ‘The result of observation is borne out by experience in England itself. As soon as any idea of equality enters the mind of an uneducated English working man, his head is turned by it. When he ceases to be servile he becomes insolent.’—Mill’s Principles of Political Economy, People’s Edition, p. 68.”6

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Mr. Mill said that he did not want uneducated men voters, and was in favour of an educational test—reading, writing, and simple arithmetic. If the suffrage were not to depend upon that, it would be universal. The honourable candidate then highly praised the conduct of the Lancashire operatives, and expressed his belief that it was owing to their intelligence they knew the cause of their distress.7 This was mainly owing to the cheap press. (Loud applause.) They had seen the discussions respecting the subject, and that they owed to the cheap press. If they had not learnt to read, they could not have benefited by the cheap press, and the press now gave to any man, however humble his circumstances, the means of acquiring the best information respecting political knowledge, written by some of the most able men of the country. (Cheers.) To men, therefore, who had the qualification of reading, writing, and arithmetic, he would entrust a share in the management of the destinies of this country, when they had those excellent means of learning the opinions of the ablest men. (Applause.) Respecting the malt tax, Mr. Mill said a question had been sent up to him, “Will you vote against it?”8 If that meant, would he advocate free trade in intoxicating drinks, without asking leave of any person in opening a public-house, he would say, “No”—(hear, hear)—because public-houses were very often a nuisance, and it was of great importance that nuisances should be out of the way. (Cheers.) There must be such things, but they should be out of the way as much as possible consistent with the public convenience. He would have some public authorities whose duty it should be to see that they were not a nuisance. He thought that it was much better to tax stimulants than necessary articles. He would, in the present state of affairs, vote for the Maynooth grant, and was in favour of opening museums on Sundays. The ballot should be an open question. The shopkeepers were much more in need of it than the working classes.

Other questions having been satisfactorily answered, a vote approving of Mr. Mill as a candidate was carried, and the meeting separated.g

8.: The Westminster Election of 1865 [4]
8 JULY, 1865

Daily Telegraph, 10 July, 1865, p. 2. Headed: “Election Intelligence. / Westminster.” Reported fully on the same day in the Morning Star; brief summaries appeared also in the Daily News and The Times. The meeting of electors and non-electors on Saturday evening Edition: current; Page: [32] in the Pimlico Rooms, Winchester Street, was chaired by Charles Westerton. “The room was densely crowded by a most enthusiastic audience” (Daily Telegraph).

mr. j.s. mill, who upon rising to speak was received with loud cheers, again and again repeated, said that, as the electors of Westminster must all pretty well know what were the principles upon which he rested his candidature, it was not necessary that he should occupy their time by recapitulating them. But he should like to say a few words upon a most important principle, which was involved in this contest—that this was a protest against the “money power” employed in elections. (Cheers.) He was not going to say anything which could possibly offend any party or anybody—nothing about the misuse of money—about using it for the purposes of corruption, giving it to electors to return any particular candidate. If it were stated to candidates that before going to the poll they must spend £2,000, £3,000, £4,000, or any other sum of money, “for the good of the public,” things would be pretty much as they now stood, with the important difference, that then the candidate who had to pay this money, as most had, would know that it was used for some other purpose than it was now, viz., the demoralisation of the electors. (Cheers.) Did they think it was the right and best thing that the House of Commons should be composed exclusively of rich men, or men with rich connections? (No.) There were a good many reasons why this was not desirable, and one was that the rich naturally sympathised with the rich. (Hear, hear.) The rich had sympathies enough for the poor when the poor came before them as objects of pity. Their feelings of charity were often highly creditable to their dispositions; and, besides, they had almost universally a kind of patronising and protective sympathy for the poor, such as shepherds had for their flocks—(laughter and cheers)—only that was conditional upon the flock always behaving like sheep. (Renewed laughter, and Hear, hear.) But if the sheep tried to have a voice in their own affairs, he was afraid that a good many shepherds would be willing to call in the wolves. (Cheers.) Now this sympathy of the rich for the rich had manifested itself in a very decided way during the last two or three years, by the extraordinary good wishes of the higher classes of this country for the success of the American slaveholders. He did not make this a matter of reproach against the rich and higher classes of this country, for he was quite ready to let bygones be bygones; but they were not at liberty to renounce the privilege, nay, the duty, of drawing lessons from the very things before their eyes—(hear, hear)—and he should like to make a few remarks upon the cause and meaning of the sympathy of the rich for these slaveholders. It was not that they loved slavery; he acquitted them of that. (Hear, hear.) But he could not acquit them of not having realised to their own minds by experience or reflection what a dreadful thing slavery really is, and what are the results it produces and gives rise to. It gives a power—whether those who have it use it or not—of torturing human beings to death at their caprice. (Hear, hear.) The government which the slaveholders endeavoured to establish, Edition: current; Page: [33] has fortunately been frustrated, or there would have been a kind of reign of evil on the earth. It is this which has given rise to the Bowie knife and the revolver—not the pure government of democracy. (Hear, hear.) Our privileged classes did not consider this, or he believed that they would have acted in a different manner from that which they did. They merely saw one thing—a privileged class opposed by those who they thought wanted to take the privilege away; and when they saw that, they said “These (the Southerners) must be gentlemen, with whom gentlemen ought to sympathise.” He believed that to be exaggerated. (Hear, hear.) The man who nearly murdered Mr. Sumner on the floor of the House of Congress—that man was a gentleman!1 and the wives and daughters of slaveholders, who raised subscriptions to mark their approval of his conduct—they were gentlewomen! but the refined and polished, the highly intellectual society of Massachusetts, the poets, orators, philosophers, the popular preachers, the brightest and best, those who took a lead against these enormities—men such as Channing, Emerson, Theodore Parker, Palfrey, Lowell, Bancroft, Motley, etc.—these were not gentlemen, they were low Radicals and vulgar demagogues.2 (Cheers.) So blind were these people—these privileged ones—on our side of the water, that they did not know or care that the people whom they were thus attacking were those known to all Americans as lovers of England, lovers of English literature, sympathisers with the English people, admirers of us, and ignorant of much that was bad in our institutions. He did not make this a matter of reproach to any one, because when so many joined in it, it would not be right to apportion a share. Many who were well worthy of their respect had yielded to this general perversion of sentiment: and the moral he drew from it was this, that they had here one of the most signal instances, and so recent that it could not be objected to as belonging to olden times, of how far men could be carried away by their bias, unconscious and unintentional bias he was persuaded, but still one that made the rich sympathise with the rich, the privileged with the privileged; and the practical lesson which he deduced from it was this, that it was a very just and proper thing that there should be rich men in Parliament for the purpose of watching over the interests of the rich, but also, if they wanted a similar care to be taken of the poor, they had better not shut the door of the House of Commons upon the poor man. (Loud cheers.) The only people they would do well to keep clear of were those kind of poor men who would be glad to use a seat in Parliament to get rich—(hear, hear),—or pin themselves to the skirts of those who were rich. They would not suppose that he was one of those. Edition: current; Page: [34] (Loud cries of No, no.) A great writer had said that those who wanted to be well governed should look out for those who did not want to be governors.3 They knew that he had not thrust himself upon them. (True.) If he were as certain of being up to the mark in everything else as he was that he had not sought to force himself upon them, his mind would be quite at ease. Perhaps they might wish him to refer to his general ideas of reform as applied to the Constitution—(hear)—and also whether he would be a supporter or non-supporter of the present Ministry. He could not look forward to any time in the history of this country when he should not think any Liberal Ministry preferable to any Conservative Ministry. (Cheers.) Whatever the shortcomings of a Liberal party or Government might be, they did not bear in their very names the profession of wishing to keep things as they were.4 (Hear, hear.) Their name implied that they wished to improve them; and although between the least liberal of Liberals and the most liberal of Conservatives there might only be a little difference, a short distance, still it should be ever borne in mind, and seriously remembered, that this least liberal of Liberals was surrounded by those who were far better men than himself, politically speaking, while this most liberal of Conservatives was surrounded by men who, politically speaking, were far worse than himself. (Loud applause.) Suppose York was half-way between Edinburgh and London, and two travellers met there from either place, there would be very little, if any, difference in the respective distances they had to go, but that did not decrease in the least the hundreds of miles which London was distant from Edinburgh. (Hear, hear.) If he were returned to Parliament, what he should do, and that which he should recommend others to do, would be to vote for any Liberal Government on questions as between them and the Tory Government, but he should not let himself be muddled under the pretence of keeping a Liberal Government in; therefore he would advise the independent Liberals always to vote as they thought best, and to let the Government or Ministry shift for themselves, and take their chances of whatever might be the result of a full and free discussion. As regarded Reform and improvements of details, he thought they might be pretty sure that they would go on under any Government. One of the admirable effects of the reforms and improvements which had already taken place was that the spirit of improvement had penetrated even into the Tory camp—(hear, hear)—and he thought that in all the subordinate departments of public affairs the Tories and the Whigs would vie and compete with each other in improvements of that sort. The fact was, they had a difficult problem to solve, let alone how to deal with what were called “proved abuses.” There was a general conviction, and one in which he fully shared, that most of the departments of public affairs—almost all the public Edition: current; Page: [35] business—was either badly done or done not nearly so well as it ought to be done. (Cheers.) What they had to do to remedy this—without introducing fresh evils—was to reconcile a skilful management of public affairs by trained and specially qualified people with the preservation and extension of their local liberties and the responsibility of all public functionaries to the people. (Cheers.) In short, they wanted a system of administration which should at once be skilful and popular. This was not an easy matter. It would task the best minds, both in and out of Parliament, for a considerable time. But that was what they had to do. He had no doubt that in this some assistance would be rendered by the Conservatives, because, without speaking of such a brilliant exception as Lord Stanley, there were Sir John Pakington, Sir Stafford Northcote,5 and others, who would be glad to assist in improvements of that sort—(hear, hear)—as far as they saw the way, and they often saw a good way. But still, while good service could be got out of such men, the Tories must be looked to as a body, as a party; and as a party they showed what they were, a long way behind the Liberals. The only way in which the Tories could at all distinguish themselves was by actually showing that they were “a little bit worse” than the Liberals. (Laughter.) This at least was the best excuse that could be found for them, though recently they had showed that they were a good deal worse than the Liberals, in dealing with such subjects as the church rates and the Catholic Oaths Bill.6 (Hear, hear.) In conclusion Mr. Mill expressed his readiness to answer any questions, and resumed his seat amidst considerable applause.

Several of those present availed themselves of the opportunity to examine Mr. Mill respecting certain of his political doctrines.

Question: How do you explain your writing that the upper classes are liars, and the lower classes—the working classes—habitual liars?7

Mr. Mill said such was his writing. He thought so, and so did the most intelligent of the working classes themselves, and the passage applied to the natural state of those who were both uneducated and subjected. If they were educated and became free citizens, then he should not be afraid of them. Lying was the vice of slaves, and they would never find slaves who were not liars. It was not a reproach that they were what slavery had made them. But those persons who Edition: current; Page: [36] quoted this passage were not candid enough to read on. (Applause.) He said that he was not speaking of the vices of his countrymen, but of their virtues, and that they were superior to most other countrymen in truthfulness—(cheers)—and that the lower classes, though they did lie, were ashamed of lying, which was more than he could venture to say of the same class in any other nation which he knew. (Hear, hear.)

aAn Elector inquired on what ground Mr. Mill thought the working classes had not the right to have large families as well as the higher classes. (Oh, oh.)

Mr. Mill said he would have no difficulty in answering the question. For one thing he never had said that the working classes had not as much right as the higher classes, but that they had no more right.8 Neither had a right to have more children than they could support and educate. The higher classes had no more right than the lower classes to overstock the labour market. If this was a reproach it was a reproach which attached to almost all the writers on political economy during the last half century. Their views on this subject were dictated by the strongest wish for the best interest of the working classes. They felt that as long as wages were as low as they then were, and as they still were, it was not possible to hope for a great political and moral improvement in the country. The interests of the working classes required that their wages should be higher, not only for the obvious reason that they were not sufficient, but because it was a necessary condition of proper education. They felt that wages, though other causes might have helped, were a great deal kept down by excessive competition for employment, and although that excessive competition had been to some extent relieved by emigration, they saw no hope for altering this state of things except by a moral resolution on the part of the labouring classes not to overstock the labour market. Some people said it was absurd to expect this. He said that, on the contrary, all morality was a triumph over some of their natural propensities. The strongest of their natural propensities had been overcome by the various inducements that had been addressed to mankind—by public opinion, by education, by religion, none of which influences had ever been sufficiently or satisfactorily brought to bear on this particular end. Such was his faith in human nature and in the effect of these influences, that when they were brought to bear on the over-multiplication of mankind they would have an influence on all classes of the community. No class who might be called rich had a right to have more sons and daughters than they could provide for, because if they could not leave them well off they might be quartered on the public. (Cheers.)a

Question (from a person on the platform): How can Mr. Mill reconcile his doctrine with the Scriptural injunction, that we are to increase and multiply?9 (Much laughter.)

Edition: current; Page: [37]

Mr. Mill: It says we are to eat and drink, but not to over-eat and over-drink ourselves.10 (Cheers and laughter.)

bAn Elector asked how Mr. Mill thought the representation of minorities was practicable?

Mr. Mill said he was sure that the opinion which he had expressed on this point was only not shared by reformers generally because it was not understood. His idea of representation was that not a part only, even if it were a majority, but that everybody should be represented. cFor instance, if there was a constituency of 5,000, and it had to elect one member, and there were two candidates, and 3,000 voted for one candidate and 2,000 for the other, the man elected would represent the 3,000 voters; but why were the 2,000 to go unrepresented if there could be found another 1,000 to agree with it in returning some other person? The number to be fixed would of course depend on the proportion between the number of representatives and the number of voters; but he would certainly give a member to every 10,000 or 8,000, whatever the number might be, who could agree in electing a representative.c This was what they had heard of as Mr. Hare’s plan, otherwise the system of personal representation which, instead of being the complicated and unintelligible thing which some people represented, was the simplest thing in the world.11 Mr. Hare’s was the most practical and organising head that he knew, and he believed that they could not carry out the principle of popular representation or democratic government without this plan.b

Question: Will you support a bill for purifying the Church of England from Romanising practices and tendencies?

Mr. Mill had often thought that one of the most important uses of a representative constitution was that it caused great questions to be discussed. He was never more sensible of this truth than just now, and this question had given him an opportunity of saying something which he had not been able to do before. The question meant, would he chase out of the Church of England the Tractarian party?12 That he would not do, because he thought the greatest argument against an Edition: current; Page: [38] Established Church was that it tied up the minds of its clergy. He wanted, within certain bounds, that the clergyman should not have to sign away his mental liberty; that he should have the power, as far as was consistent with an Established Church, of forming his own sincere convictions as to what Christianity was; and although many of the clergy might come to different, and perhaps some to wrong perceptions, he would not turn them out for that, so long as they thought their opinions ought not to turn them out—which some of the Tractarians had done. But if they asked him whether he would leave it in the power of any single clergyman to suppress any of the customary services, or introduce others, he would not give them such power. (Applause.) If any body of persons wanted any particular sort of worship, let them have it at their own expense. He did not admit that the clergy had a right to determine what the ceremonials of the Church should be. That ought to rest, if any one had to determine it, with the majority of the parishioners. In short, although in the Church he would have the utmost mental liberty, yet with respect to the ceremonial part, of whatever kind, that ought to rest with the laity, and not with the clergy. For it was not the collective clergy, much more one clergyman, who were the Church, but the clergy and laity. No clergyman, or collective clergy, therefore, ought to have the power of introducing ceremonials into the services against the wishes of the parishioners. (Hear, hear.)

Question: How do you reconcile this—to open the museums on Sundays and obey the Divine command to keep the Sabbath day holy?13 (Hear, hear.)

Mr. Mill said that those who were of opinion that this injunction was intended for the Christians, and not for the Jews exclusively, were quite right in not being able to reconcile it. But his opinion was that the Sabbatical institution was an institution for the Jews alone. (Hear, hear.) The Christian Sunday appeared to him to be an institution of quite a different character. (Hear, hear.)

Question: Has Mr. Mill any confidence in and sympathy with the religion taught by Jesus Christ and his apostles; and does he believe that a State Church is a benefit to this nation or otherwise? (Cries of Don’t answer.)

Mr. Mill: He had already declared that he could not consent to answer any questions about his religious creed. (Loud applause, and “Quite right.”) The question about the State Church was very different, and his opinion was this, that in principle there ought to be no such thing, but he did not think the time had yet arrived when it would be any use to try and abolish it. The thing was not pressing, and at all events the State was more Liberal than the Church, and now the best men in the Church had an opportunity of getting the highest places in it. At present he thought it would be much better to try and improve the Church itself through the State, than to abolish the connection which in principle he objected to; and he had no hesitation in saying that they ought not to be combined.

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dQuestion: What are the disadvantages we labour under in not having a vote, and the advantages we should possess in having one? (Oh.)d

Mr. Mill: The gentleman who had asked that question had asked him in effect to make a speech which would last the rest of the evening. The difference would be this—the man would be a citizen—(loud cheers)—and he would feel that he was a citizen. Let them look at America now. Look at the grand display of patriotism; was it not the wonder of the world? Did anybody dream it would be so? Did anybody think that all those millions would be ready to give the blood of their families, and incur a national debt equal to ours—putting it at the lowest—for the nationality of their country? He did not suppose there was a family in New England which had not lost a member. Was it not something to have such a feeling in the whole body of the people? Did they not think that that had something to do with everybody having a vote? (Hear, hear.) eIt seemed to him that the interests of citizenship—an equal right to be heard—to have a share in influencing the affairs of the country—to be consulted, to be spoken to, and to have agreements and considerations turning upon politics addressed to one—tended to elevate and educate the self-respect of the man, and to strengthen his feelings of regard for his fellow-men. (Cheers.) These made all the difference between a selfish man and a patriot. (Hear, hear.) To give people an interest in politics and in the management of their own affairs was the grand cultivator of mankind. (Cheers.)e That was one of the reasons why he wanted women to have votes; they needed cultivation as well as men. He could not conceive that a country was what it ought to be without an extension of a share of political right to all. (Cheers.) Those left without it seemed a sort of pariahs. Independently of this, there were plenty of practical considerations. There were many, many questions before Parliament in which it was of the greatest consequence that those who had so large an interest in them should be heard on their own behalf, and that in the very place where the questions had to be decided. It was as necessary that they should be heard when they were wrong as when they were right. When such was the case, if a man asked more than he ought, then he had the chance of either being enlightened or shamed out of it. (Cheers.)

Question: What are your principles of non-intervention?

Mr. Mill: He did not understand what was meant by “principle” of non-intervention, because that would be a principle of utter selfishness. His opinion was that every nation was much more capable of settling its own affairs than another Power for it. (Hear, hear.) But if a Power in trying to establish its own affairs was threatened by a foreign despot, that was another thing, and then it was perfectly legitimate to interfere—not to prevent the first Power from doing that which they thought best for themselves, but to protect them from being persecuted by the despot. (Cheers.)

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Question: Is it legitimate for a voter to be told that he must vote for Mr. Smith, or lose custom; or for a person to order a pair of boots and not demand the “exact” price? (Loud cries of Shame! shame!)

Mr. Mill: I think that the feeling of the meeting has sufficiently answered the question already.

Question: What are your opinions respecting primogeniture?

Mr. Mill: Entirely against it, both politically and privately. He thought that the practice of making the oldest son heir by law was in itself unjust. fHe thought that a man should be allowed to leave what belonged to him to whom he liked, but that in cases of intestacy it should be divided equally among the children.f

Question: The ballot?

Mr. Mill did not think it was now necessary, especially to the working classes, and that if it was necessary it was amongst shopkeepers.

[After other speeches, a resolution was passed by acclamation approving of Mr. Mill as a fit and proper candidate, and pledging the meeting to support his election; the proceedings terminated.]

9.: The Westminster Election of 1865 [5]
10 JULY, 1865

Morning Star, 11 July, 1865, p. 2. Headed: “Westminster.” The nomination meeting, at the hustings in front of St. Paul’s Church, Covent Garden, at midday, was also reported on the 12th in the Daily Telegraph, The Times, the Daily News, and the Standard (the last two in the third person). There was considerable excitement, for this would be “a great political contest such as Westminster had not seen for many years”; by 11:30 nearly 3000 people had assembled, and just before noon they began “to show signs of animation. The quiet which had hitherto prevailed was relaxed, and some good-humoured larking and hustling commenced.” (Morning Star.) The High Bailiff, H. Scott Turner, the returning officer, appeared, followed by the first of the candidates, Robert Wellesley Grosvenor (1834–1918), a member of the leading Whig family in Westminster and (after an initial period of uncertainty as to his political credentials) Mill’s Liberal running mate. He “was received with cheers by his supporters, and yells by the rest of the crowd.” Next came Smith, “who received a warm welcome from his supporters,” and then Mill arrived, to be “greeted with enthusiastic cheers from his supporters, mingled with yells from the friends of Mr. Smith.” Mill occupied the central position, with Smith on his right and Grosvenor on his left. The crier in vain called for silence during the reading of the writ by the high bailiff. “Indeed throughout the whole proceedings, a continuous volley of yells and howls, mingled with cheers for the respective candidates, was kept up. The speeches of neither proposers, seconders, nor candidates could be heard except by those close beside them, and in most cases the speakers wisely addressed their remarks to the reporters, and made them as brief as possible. It is right to state that the uproar came chiefly, not from the respectable portion of Edition: current; Page: [41] the electors and non-electors, but from bands of ruffianly lads, who seemed to be organised for the purpose.” (Morning Star.) Grosvenor was proposed and seconded, and then Brewer nominated Mill “amidst great uproar. He alluded to Mr. Mill’s high intellectual character and attainments, and to his Liberal and practical and statesmanlike views, and said it would be an honour to Westminster to be represented by such a man.” Malleson seconded. Smith, characterized as a man of moderate opinions, was proposed and seconded. Grosvenor was the first of the candidates to speak. Mill then stood forward to address the electors, and “was received with great enthusiasm by his friends in the assemblage. But the shouting and noise still prevailing his remarks could only be heard by those in his immediate vicinity.” (The Daily Telegraph says he “obtained a much better hearing, though great noise prevailed.”)


It would be entirely useless for me to attempt to make a speech, which it would be impossible that any of you could hear; and I will only therefore attempt to say a few words. (Noise and cheers.) I am not here by my own seeking; I am here because a numerous and distinguished body of the electors of Westminster, thinking that that numerous and important portion of this constituency who are advanced Liberals are entitled to a representative (cheers), and that my opinions, which have been fully, freely, and unreservedly expressed both in amy letters and at very crowded meetings of the electorsa, qualify me to be that representative. They thought also that in electing me you would be asserting a principle which has been honoured in Westminster—the principle of selecting your representatives for some other reason than for their money. (Cheers.) It now rests with the electors of Westminster, who have bhad the means of forming their ownb opinions on the manner in which the contest has been carried on, to judge whether I have a claim to the votes of the friends of purity of election and of advanced cLiberalism as against a Conservative opponent of all Liberalism whatever. I have nothing further to say.c (Cheers from Mr. Mill’s supporters.)

[Smith spoke, amidst continued uproar. Again silence was ordered, and the high bailiff called for a show of hands.] dFor Captain Grosvenor a considerable number were held up; for Mr. Mill the display of hands was much larger; and for Mr. Smith a great number were held up. As far as could be judged, the numbers in favour of Mr. Smith and Mr. Mill were nearly equal, and there can be no doubt that each of them was larger by three to one than the numbers in favour of Captain Grosvenor. To the surprise, however, of everybody, the high bailiff declared the show of hands to be in favour of Mr. Smith and Captain Grosvenor. We do not know whether this functionary’s organs of vision are imperfect, or whether in the Edition: current; Page: [42] excitement he did not attend sufficiently to the show of hands for each of the candidates but that he made a mistake was manifest to every one who had a view of the assembly.d Mr. Mill’s supporters demanded a poll, and the mistake will be of little importance if he and Captain Grosvenor should be placed at the top of the poll.1

[Smith moved and Grosvenor seconded a vote of thanks to the high bailiff.]

Each of the candidates, on leaving the hustings, was loudly cheered by his supporters. The assembly, which though noisy and uproarious throughout, was in no way mischievous, then gradually dispersed.

10.: The Westminster Election of 1865 [6]
10 JULY, 1865

Daily Telegraph, 11 July, 1865, p. 4. Unheaded; the account comes immediately after the report of Mill’s speech at the hustings on the same day (No. 9). The meeting was not reported in other papers. “Last night, at eight o’clock, Mr. John Stuart Mill addressed a meeting at St. Martin’s Hall, Long-acre. The large room was densely crowded by a most enthusiastic audience, amongst whom was a large number of ladies. The Count de Paris occupied a seat on the platform.”

the honourable candidate, who was received with great applause, referred to most of the subjects upon which he spoke at the meeting at the Pimlico Rooms on Saturday night, which was fully reported in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph,1 especially on the purity of election, the great questions between employers and employed, and co-operation. He next noticed the vast improvements which had taken place in the condition of the working classes. Mr. Gladstone had done a great deal for the working classes. (The name of Mr. Gladstone was received with enthusiastic applause.) Mr. Gladstone was a statesman who did not hold back his good things till they were wrung from him. He employed his mind in conceiving measures for the benefit of his country, whether they had been demanded or not. That was his (Mr. Mill’s) idea of a great Minister. (Applause.) He believed that the future social condition of the working classes was safe. He hoped some day there would be no such thing as a class distinction; but, while it lasted, they had to take care that the House of Commons should not exercise class legislation. They (the working classes) would not be truly represented unless they had their fair Edition: current; Page: [43] share of the voices in the national tribunal. He thought that a Reform Bill would not give the labouring classes an effectual share in and control of the House of Commons, unless they had fully one half of the House of Commons—(cheers)—and the remainder of society the other half. In answer to questions, Mr. Mill said that he would vote for the opening of the Crystal Palace on Sunday. He did not think it would be a wrong thing to open well-conducted theatres on that day, though he should not be prepared to vote for that at present, as he thought it would be considered an affront to the religious opinions of a large and highly respectable portion of the public. Neither upon this nor any other question would he press his opinion on the Legislature, if he thought the vast majority of the people were not prepared for the proposed change. He did not think that the exercise of the franchise should depend on the payment of rates. The duration of Parliament should be from three to five years. Mr. Hubbard’s proposal respecting the income tax was, he thought, a good one.2 If a primâ facie case were made out that it was necessary for convents to be inspected, he would have them inspected; but if there were any such “dreadful mysteries” in the convents,3 he believed the inmates of those places would be a vast deal too clever for her Majesty’s inspectors to find them out. A variety of other questions were put, and answered to the complete satisfaction of the meeting. A resolution expressive of confidence in Mr. J.S. Mill as a fit and proper candidate was carried amidst great applause. Some other speeches were delivered, and the meeting separated.

11.: The Westminster Election of 1865 [7]
12 JULY, 1865

Morning Star, 13 July, 1865, p. 2. Headed “Westminster.” The meeting was also reported in The Times, the Daily News, and (very briefly and in the third person) in the Daily Telegraph. The official declaration of the poll was at the hustings in Covent Garden at 2 p.m. A “dense mass of people” gathered in front of the hustings, crying out such remarks as “Where is Smith now?” A watering cart showered the crowd with cold water, quieting them briefly. The candidates and their friends began to appear on the hustings, Mill being “greeted with loud and long-continued cheers.” Grosvenor was also given an enthusiastic reception; Smith did not appear. The poll was declared: Grosvenor at the head with 4534; Mill a very close second with 4525, and Smith with 3824. (The Daily News uniquely gives Edition: current; Page: [44] 3224, undoubtedly in error.) Grosvenor spoke first. “Mr. Mill then proceeded to address the assembled crowd. Previous to doing so he was treated to a most enthusiastic ovation. The vast mass of persons present set up a cheer of the most hearty, thrilling character, which was kept up for some minutes, and which certainly must have had rather a startling effect on those who did not take part in it. Mr. Mill looked upon the exciting scene before him with that quiet, benign, and thoughtful expression of countenance for which he is so remarkable under all circumstances, and seemingly not the least moved or discomposed, except what was denoted by a pleasing smile which his intellectual features could not conceal, however desirous their owner may have been to do so. When the enthusiasm had subsided,” Mill spoke.

electors of westminster—not omitting the non-electors, many of whom have worked most vigorously in this cause—you have achieved a great triumph. (Cheers.) You have vindicated a principle awhich has been the glory ofa Westminster for generations. (Renewed cheers.) That principle is that members of Parliament should be elected on public grounds alone (Hear, hear, and cheers) and you have done this against all the means, legitimate and illegitimate, which could possibly have been brought to bear to prevent you. (Cheers.) This victory of yours illustrates very strongly two things. In the first place, it teaches a lesson which has been renewed from age to age, but which many have found it extremely hard to learn—bthe power there is inb sincere, earnest, and disinterested conviction. All our working was the working of volunteers against opponents who were a disciplined and paid body. (Hear, hear, and cries of Smith.) All our friends voluntarily gave their time and their labour, which to most of them is money, and to some of them their cmeans of dailyc bread, and even many of them gave money in addition for the purpose of defraying expenses rendered necessary by the bad system of carrying on elections which prevailsd, but which they felt, even if necessary, ought to be paid for by any one rather than the candidate himself (hear, hear)d. All this they have done in the face of much opposition, and they have been successful. (Cheers.) Another thing to be learned from this victory is that it may induce persons to consider whether that mode of returning representatives can be good under which ethe side starting upon principles of electioneering purity is heavily weighted in the race—so heavily weighted, indeed, as to make the contest resemble a race between a man on foot and one on horseback? This simile may be regarded ase literally true, because my supporters had to walk to the poll, whilst the supporters of our opponents were carried there in Edition: current; Page: [45] cabs and carriages not paid for by themselves. (Hear, hear, and a cry of Why did Grosvenor do it?) One of the greatest writers and orators which this country has produced, and who was at the head of the Liberal party fduring the bestf years of his life—I mean Burke—gsaid, “That system cannot be good which rests upon the heroic virtues.”1 I dog say that the mode of election which rendered necessary such heroic exertions as have been made during the last few weeks to maintain purity of election cannot be good. (Hear, hear.) There is one more lesson which the electors of Westminster have given by the victory they have achieved. They have shown that whatever differences of opinion may exist amongst the several shades of Liberals, whatever severe criticisms they may occasionally make on each other, they are ready to help and co-operate with one another when the time of need arrives. This has been very provoking to many people. (A Voice: Yes, to Mr. Smith, and laughter.) I have often observed that those who are in the wrong think it a great shame when those who are in the right show some degree of common sense, as in the present instance—(hear, hear)—and that they entertain the notion that those who are honest must be fools as well. (Great laughter and cheering.) But you have proved to these persons that it is possible to be honest, sensible, hand patriotic at the same time.h The Tories have done their worst. They have exercised all the powers that they could, particularly the force of money power—(hear)—but they have received a lesson they will not soon forget, and possibly they will think twice before they repeat it iamongst the electors of Westminsteri. j(Loud cheers.) Gentlemen, I have done. (Loud and prolonged cheering.)j

This concluded Mr. Mill’s remarks. On ceasing to address the assembly the enthusiasm which greeted his first appearance on the hustings was renewed.

On the motion of Dr. Brewer, seconded by Capt. Grosvenor, a vote of thanks was, amidst cries for Smith, who did not put in an appearance, passed to the High Bailiff for the courtesy and efficiency he had displayed in the election.

Edition: current; Page: [46] Edition: current; Page: [47]

February to August 1866

12.: The Cattle Diseases Bill [1]
14 FEBRUARY, 1866

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 181, cols. 488–92. Reported in The Times, 15 February, p. 7, from which the variant and responses are taken. This, Mill’s maiden speech in the House of Commons, was delivered in the debate on the second reading of “A Bill to Amend the Law Relating to Contagious or Infectious Diseases in Cattle and Other Animals,” 29 Victoria (12 Feb., 1866), PP, 1866, I, 423–44. Mill says in his Autobiography that the speech “was thought at the time to have helped get rid of a provision in the Government measure which would have given to landholders a second indemnity, after they had already been once indemnified for the loss of some of their cattle by the increased selling price of the remainder”

(CW, I, 277n).

mr. j. stuart mill said, that in the course of the discussion on the Bill many important points had been raised, respecting some of which he was not in a position to form an opinion; and that being the case, he thought it better that he should leave all other topics to Her Majesty’s Government, who had the best means of information, and who were responsible for the failure or success of the measures they might introduce. There was one question, however, which it required no agricultural or special knowledge to understand—that of compensation—it was a purely economical question, and upon this part of the Bill alone he thought himself competent to speak. This question had been raised by his honourable Friend the Member for Birmingham,1 and as his honourable Friend had been rather severely dealt with by the right honourable Gentleman behind him (Mr. Lowe),2 he thought that any one who shared the sentiments of his honourable Friend would be acting unworthily if he did not stand forward and avow them. (Hear.) He did not object to the principle of compensation, but he did object, in the highest degree, to the amount proposed in the Bill, and to the manner in which it was proposed to be provided. It was perfectly true, as his right honourable Friend (Mr. Lowe) had pointed out, that the farmers were to receive compensation, not for their losses as such, but for what they lost through the interference of the Government.3 He (Mr. J.S. Mill) quite agreed that there could not be a more just Edition: current; Page: [48] claim for compensation than this; and, moreover, the grant of it was expedient on account of the inducement it would give not to evade the provisions of the Act. He quite adopted the conclusion of his right honourable Friend, that the farmers who might be the owners of diseased cattle ought not to be placed under the temptation of concealing the fact. But, on the other hand, the more reason there was for granting compensation, the more necessity was there for taking care that the compensation should not be excessive. If, on the one hand, the owner were not to be compensated at all for his loss, there was a strong inducement for him to do, what it was the very object of this Bill to prevent him from doing—namely, to keep the infected animals as long as possible, and thus to be the means of propagating the infection. If, on the other hand, the compensation were excessive, an inducement would exist to be careless as to the spread of the disease; because if his animals on becoming infected were ordered to be slaughtered, he knew that he should get an exaggerated compensation for them. The compensation provided by the Bill for diseased animals slaughtered was two-thirds of the value, when that sum did not exceed £20. But what were the necessary conditions to render that sum a just compensation? It was that the animal should have two chances out of three of surviving, because if it had a less chance of recovery than this, the owner would be an absolute gainer by the compensation he would receive on its slaughter by authority. The value of an animal in the market was its value in its existing astate and with its existing prospects (murmurs)a; unless, therefore, the marketable value of an animal after infection was two-thirds of its value when healthy, the compensation proposed by the Bill was excessive. Whatever the chances were of the animal’s surviving, that would be the measure of compensation which a reasonable person would propose. He came now to another question—in what manner, and at whose expense, the funds for compensation ought to be raised. In order to judge of that, they ought to consider what would be the natural working of economical laws, supposing no compensation were granted at all. If, setting aside merely momentary effects, they took into consideration the ultimate, and indeed speedy, result, there could be no doubt that in whatever proportion the supply of cattle was diminished, in that proportion the price would be enhanced; and, therefore, in the end, the whole burden of the loss would be borne, not by the producer, but the consumer. Farmers and landlords would indeed suffer, but only to the same extent as other members of the community—that is to say, as consumers. As far as it was the whole community which suffered, no class of the community, as a class, had the smallest claim to compensation from the rest. Some, indeed, were less able to bear the loss than others, and it would not have been surprising if a proposal had been made to compensate them; but now, on the contrary, it was proposed to tax them, in order to compensate those who were able Edition: current; Page: [49] to bear the loss much better. It appeared to him that the farmers as a class had no claim whatever to compensation, and the only reason for granting compensation at all was, not that the loss fell peculiarly upon the agricultural interest, but because it fell upon that interest with such extreme inequality. He apprehended that in real justice the compensation ought to be paid to the less fortunate by the more fortunate of the class: thus establishing what would be equivalent to a compulsory system of mutual insurance amongst the owners of stock. This Bill did the very contrary—though he did not blame the Government for introducing it, considering the way in which the House was constituted. It compensated a class for the results of a calamity which was borne by the whole community. In justice, the farmers who had not suffered ought to compensate those who had; but the Bill did what it ought not to have done, and it left undone that which it ought to have done,4 by not equalizing the incidence of the burden upon that class, inasmuch as, from the operation of the local principle adopted, that portion of the agricultural community who had not suffered at all would not have to pay at all, those who suffered little would have to pay little, while those who suffered most would have to pay a great deal. The only argument of any validity which he could anticipate against the opinion he had expressed, was that a portion of our cattle supply is not derived from home production, but from importation; and, as far as that portion was concerned, the compensation which the consumer would pay through the enhanced price of the commodity would not be received by our own agriculturists, but by the importers. This he must admit; but the importation of cattle, though considerable and increasing, bore so very small a proportion to the entire consumption, that it would diminish the indemnity reaped by the home producers only to a very small extent; and this being the case, it would be unworthy of the landed interest to lay any stress upon so small a matter. An aristocracy should have the feelings of an aristocracy, and inasmuch as they enjoyed the highest honours and advantages, they ought to be willing to bear the first brunt of the inconveniences and evils which fell on the country generally. This was the ideal character of an aristocracy; it was the character with which all privileged classes were accustomed to credit themselves; though he was not aware of any aristocracy in history that had fulfilled those requirements. (Laughter.) It might also be said that the farmers would derive no benefit from the ultimate high price, because one of the effects of the cattle plague was by making them bring their cattle prematurely to market, temporarily to keep down the price. This, no doubt, was the case, but after the grant of compensation, it would no longer be so, since the inducement to hurry cattle to market would then no longer exist.

[The Bill was read a second time, and committed for the next day.]

Edition: current; Page: [50]

13.: The Cattle Diseases Bill [2]
16 FEBRUARY, 1866

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 181, cols. 609–10, 620. Reported in The Times, 17 February, p. 7, from which the variant readings and responses are taken. Mill’s observations were made in Committee on the Cattle Diseases Bill, Clause 31. (For the Bill, see No. 12.) Clause 31 provided, inter alia, that “All expenses incurred by a Local Authority in pursuance of this Act, including any Compensation payable by it in respect of Animals slaughtered in pursuance of this Act, shall be defrayed, as to Two-third Parts thereof, out of the Local Rate.” Acton Smee Ayrton (1816–86) moved to amend this clause by omitting the words “as to two-third parts thereof,” thereby throwing the full cost on the local rate, and made reference to No. 12, saying that he “had been much impressed by the able speech,” because he thought that Mill had “given admirable reasons” why a poll-tax to cover one-third of the cost should not be imposed (col. 608). Mill’s response immediately follows on Ayrton’s conclusion.

mr. j. stuart mill said, the honourable and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton) had referred to some remarks of his with reference to this subject, and as, in all probability through his own (Mr. Mill’s) fault, the honourable and learned Member had not seized the point of his argument, he hoped he might be allowed, with the permission of the Committee, to repeat the substance of what he then said. The honourable and learned Member had laid down a principle which no one could dispute—namely, that taxation ought not to be partial. On that ground he urged that a particular class ought not to be taxed to defray the expense of compensation for the consequences of a calamity by which they had already suffered to so great an extent. But his (Mr. Stuart Mill’s) argument1 was grounded expressly on this—that although they suffered more immediately, they would not ultimately suffer more than the rest of the community who were consumers of food (no). It followed that if they were now to tax the whole of the community in order to give a special indemnity to that class for what they suffered, they would, instead of taxing them, tax the rest of the community in order to relieve them. That was his argument, and nothing he had heard had tended to weaken it; and, consequently, that part of the provision for compensation to which the honourable and learned Member objected, the poll tax on cattle, was the only part which he considered sound in principle. (A laugh.) It appeared to him that the valid claim for compensation was not for the burden, but for the inequality of the burden, inasmuch as some cattle owners suffered much less than others, and some not at all. The class on whom the calamity had immediately fallen would, as a class, be compensated in the natural course of things, by the increased price of meat consequent on the diminished supply; but the individuals of the class who had not suffered at all, or who had suffered less than their neighbours, should Edition: current; Page: [51] contribute for the relief of those who had not been so fortunate. In principle, therefore, the tax, whatever it might be, ought to be a rate on land only. (Oh!) Although the clause as it stood was very objectionable, it would be made still more so by the proposal of the honourable and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets.

[Several members contributed to the discussion, including Lowe (cols. 618–20), who referred to Ayrton’s having accepted Mill’s arguments. Mill replied:]

As the arguments of my right honourable Friend (Mr. Lowe) derive great weight from his knowledge, his character, and his talents, it seems desirable that anything which can be said in reply should be said as soon as possible, and while the impression of his arguments is still fresh. (Hear, hear.) I think what is necessary may be said in a very few sentences. My right honourable Friend thinks it a complete answer to the arguments which I submitted to the notice of the House, to say that the object of the tax is not compensation, but to give a motive to the farmer to declare the disease. Now, Sir, I really think that the motive held out to the farmer to make this disclosure does not depend on the quarter from whence the compensation comes, but on the compensation itself. (Hear, hear.) I should like to know whether, if the farmer receives £20 or any other sum for his beast, it makes any difference in the motive held out to him whether it is paid from a cattle tax, or from the county rate, or out of the Consolidated Fund. (Hear, hear.) In the next place, my right honourable Friend stated that the scarcity of a commodity does not always raise the price in full proportion to the deficiency in the quantity. Well, Sir, that is very true, but it is also an extremely common thing that the effect should be to raise the price a great deal beyond the proportion of the loss, and the case in which this is peculiarly known to happen is when the article in deficiency is one of food. (Hear, hear.) Take, for instance, the commodity which the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) has brought forward into the prominence which belongs to it, the article of milk.2 In the case of milk, an article which is of first necessity to even the poorest people in the country, it is hardly conceivable that a scarcity should take place without raising the price immeasurably beyond the proportion of the loss. (Hear, hear.) aNow, that is an extremely important element in the case.a In the next place, my right honourable Friend thought it an extremely unreasonable thing in me to neglect and leave out of sight that portion of the supply of cattle which comes by importation. He said I did not mention it on a former occasion. Sir, I did mention it, and referred to it in a most special manner.3 (Hear.) And the answer which I made then I make now, in the words which my right honourable Friend himself quoted—de minimis non curat lexb. (Hear, hear, and laughter.) It seems to have excited a good deal of Edition: current; Page: [52] scorn on the other side of the House because I said it was unworthy of the landed interest of this country or of any aristocracy. (Cries of Oh, oh! in which the conclusion of the sentence was lost.)b There is one more point in my right honourable Friend’s speech which I would wish to notice. He asked, “Is it not absurd that because a man or any of his family is not mad, he should object to being taxed for a lunatic asylum?”4 I ask, is there any economical law by which the patients of a lunatic asylum are compensated for the expense of their maintenance in that asylum? (Much laughter.) If there is, the cases are parallel; if not, not.

[After further debate, Ayrton’s amendment was accepted.]

14.: Suspension of Habeas Corpus In Ireland
17 FEBRUARY, 1866

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 181, cols. 705–6. Not reported in The Times. Mill’s speech was on Sir George Grey’s motion for leave to bring in “A Bill to Empower the Lord Lieutenant or Other Chief Governor of Ireland to Apprehend and Detain until the First Day of March 1867, Such Persons as He or They Shall Suspect of Conspiring against Her Majesty’s Person and Government,” 29 Victoria (16 Feb., 1866), PP, 1866, III, 121–4. Of the speech he says in his Autobiography: “In denouncing, on this occasion, the English mode of governing Ireland, I did no more than the general opinion of England now admits to have been just; but the anger against Fenianism was then in all its freshness; any attack on what Fenians attacked was looked upon as an apology for them; and I was so unfavourably received by the House, that more than one of my friends advised me (and my own judgment agreed with the advice) to wait, before speaking again, for the favourable opportunity that would be given by the first great debate on the Reform Bill” (CW, I, 277). (For his successful use of that opportunity, see No. 16.)

mr. j. stuart mill said, that some asperity had been introduced into this discussion which he should not imitate. The occasion was one for deep grief, not for irritation. He agreed with the honourable Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) that this Bill was a cause for shame and humiliation to this country.1 We were present at the collapsing of a great delusion. England had for a considerable number of years been flattering itself that the Irish people had come to their senses; that they were now sensible that they had got Catholic Emancipation and the Incumbered Estates Bill,2 which were the only things they could possibly want; and had become aware that a nation could not have anything to complain of when it Edition: current; Page: [53] was under such beneficent rulers as us, who, if we do but little for them, would so gladly do much if we only knew how. We all knew that in times past England had been unjust to Ireland. Of that national sin this nation had repented; and we were not now conscious of any other feelings towards Ireland than those which were perfectly honest and benevolent, and he did not say this of one party, or of one side of the House only, he said it of all. But we had fallen into the mistake of thinking that good intentions were enough. We had been in the habit of saying pleasant things on this subject in the hearing of foreigners, till, from iteration, foreigners were beginning to believe that Ireland was no longer our weak point—England’s vulnerable spot—the portion of our territory where we might perhaps be successfully assailed, and which, in any case, by neutralizing a great portion of our available force, disabled us from doing anything to resist any iniquity which it might be sought to perpetrate in Europe. This pleasing delusion was now at an end. Every foreigner, every continental writer, would believe for many years to come that Ireland was a country constantly on the brink of revolution, held down by an alien nationality, and kept in subjection by brute force. (No, no!) He did not mean that he shared that opinion; he disclaimed it. He hardly knew to what to compare the position of England towards Ireland, but some illustration of his meaning might be drawn from the practice of flogging. Flogging in some few cases was probably a necessary abomination, because there were some men and boys whom long persistence in evil had so brutalized and perverted that no other punishment had any chance of doing them good. But when any man in authority—whether he was the captain of a ship or the commander of a regiment, or the master of a school, needed the instrument of flogging to maintain his authority—that man deserved flogging as much as any of those who were flogged by his orders. He was not prepared to vote against granting to Her Majesty’s Government the powers which, in the state to which Ireland had been brought, they declared to be absolutely necessary. He was not responsible—they were. They did not bring Ireland into its present state—they found it so, through the misgovernment of centuries and the neglect of half a century. He did not agree with his honourable Friend the Member for Birmingham in thinking that Her Majesty’s Ministers, if they could not devise some remedy for the evils of Ireland, were bound to leave their seats on the Treasury Bench and devote themselves to learning statesmanship.3 From whom were they to learn it? From the Gentlemen opposite, who would be their successors, and who, if they were to propose anything which his honourable Friend or himself would consider as remedies for Irish evils, would not allow them to pass it? The Government had to deal with things as they were, and not with things as they might wish them to be. He did not believe that the power granted to the Government would be strained beyond the necessity of the case. He would not suggest a suspicion that tyranny and oppression would be practised. He Edition: current; Page: [54] knew there would be nothing of the kind, at least with their cognizance or connivance. He was not afraid that they would make a Jamaica in Ireland; and, to say truth, the fountains of his indignation had been so drained by what had taken place in that unfortunate island that he had none left for so comparatively small a matter as arbitrary imprisonment. When, however, the immediate end had been effected, he hoped that we should not again go to sleep for fifty years, and that we should not continue to meet every proposal for the benefit of Ireland with that eternal “non possumus4 which, translated into English, meant, “We don’t do it in England.” If his honourable and learned Friend the Member for Sheffield thought that nothing was now amiss in Ireland except the Irish Church,5 he would be likely to hear much more on the subject before long, if he would only listen.

[The Bill went through all its stages in one day and was finally approved in the Commons by a vote of 354 to 6 (Mill’s name is not listed in either lobby).]

15.: Representation of the People [1]
12 APRIL, 1866

Daily Telegraph, 13 April, 1866, p. 6. Headed: “Reform Meeting in Westminster.” Reported also on the same day in the Daily News (in the third person), the Morning Star, and (in brief summary) in The Times. (Clippings of all the reports but the last are in the Mill-Taylor Collection.) The evening meeting of Westminster electors, in St. James’s Hall, Piccadilly, was in support of the Government’s “Bill to Extend the Right of Voting at Elections of Members of Parliament in England and Wales,” 29 Victoria (13 Mar., 1866), PP, 1866, V, 87–100, which was under discussion in Parliament (see Nos. 16 and 23). Charles Westerton, who chaired the meeting, explained that it could not be held earlier because such a large crowd could not be accommodated anywhere but in St. James’s Hall, which had not been available. He said that Mill and Grosvenor were both in the House of Commons, but would appear later. W.T. Mallinson proposed a motion in favour of the Bill; during his speech, Grosvenor arrived, and made a speech in seconding the motion. During that speech, Mill arrived, and after Probyn had spoken in favour of the motion, he rose. Mill, “who upon presenting himself was received with enthusiastic applause,” then spoke to the resolution.

i sincerely congratulate my honourable colleague on having been beforehand, and not for the first time. I have had the satisfaction of hearing the excellent speech which he made on the first reading of the Reform Bill.1 My attendance in Edition: current; Page: [55] the House of Commons this evening prevented me from hearing more than a part of his speech now, but what I did hear was equally excellent to that which he made in the House of Commons. I think that those who foretold and who calculated that the people of England no longer cared about reform, or if they did that they do not care about this measure, would cease so to think if they could see this present meeting—they would be convinced of their mistake. But, indeed, I think they must be pretty well convinced of that already if the demonstrations that have taken place over the country, and the multitude and quality of the petitions which I have seen this evening presented to the House of Commons—(cheers)—can convince them. It must have shown the most incredulous of them that they have made a great mistake. (Cheers.) It has been said that the electors don’t wish reform—that they don’t wish to extend the privilege to other people. Then of the non-electors it was said that they had grown indifferent to politics—that the only questions which occupied their attention were those of wages and co-operation—that they had grown quite Conservative—(a laugh)—and that those who did care about reform wanted so much more reform than this bill gave them, and that they would not stop to pick it up. Again, he believed that some members of Parliament thought they would lose their seats if they supported reform, whereas he hoped now that they would lose their seats if they did not support reform. a(Cheers.) This was a very crafty calculation, but there were many things overlooked in it.a It was overlooked that in all those constituencies in which the electors were the most numerous, there had been, and always would be, a strong feeling for further reform; secondly, it had been overlooked that there existed such persons as sincere reformers—(hear, hear)—reformers in principle, who had faith in a popular Government. Again, some people were foolish and fanatic enough to believe that nothing could be safe which differed from their opinions. It was forgotten that the £10 electors had not been long enough a privileged class to acquire the odious feelings of one. (Cheers.) The ten-pounders, as they were fond of calling them, had not grown into an oligarchy just yet, nor did he think they would. (Hear, hear.) There was another consideration, and that was that the ten-pounders knew they had but a small portion of power. Land and money now, as always heretofore, were the leading powers in this country. In order to make head against these influences—which are not always salutary—they must be glad to take in you and I to share it with them. (Hear, hear.) Now, respecting the non-electors, if there ever was a delusion on the face of the earth I think it is this, because people—the mass of the people—had acquired a degree of education, a degree of cultivation and of knowledge of politics, a degree of familiarity with newspapers and public events, that they never had before, nor anything approaching to it; and because with these things they had acquired powers of intelligence and combination—which excited the admiration even of Conservatives—in the promotion of their own interests, such as co-operation; because these changes and improvements had taken place, Edition: current; Page: [56] was it true that they had grown less interested in politics—(No, no)—less desirous of the good of their country, and less desiring that they themselves should share in its destiny? I think such a delusion is one of the densest that was ever entertained by human beings. (Cheers.) Do they wish for more than this? No doubt they do. I do myself. What is more, I believe Mr. Gladstone does. (Cheers.) I heard him say this evening that he did not think there would have been any danger in extending the franchise further than this bill; but he said, and said justly, it is the way of this country, a prudent and just way, not to attempt to do everything at once.2 And I do not think any of us—not even those who desire a much greater change than this bill promises—ever thought that we should step into all that we want at a single stride. But there is one thing that I may remark, and that is that I am very glad to see from all the demonstrations of the unenfranchised classes on this question, that they take this extremely rational view of the matter. We are told continually that the working classes desire this bill only as a stepping-stone to something else.3 We think it will give us a better Legislature, and it is because we think that it is good in itself that we think it will give us a better Legislature—a Legislature more likely to give us further reform when the time is come for it. Our opponents have thought it best for their interests not to meet the question by a direct negative, but to meet it by what is called a sidewind—by an amendment which merely turned on the order of proceeding, in the expectation that they will be able to add to their minority a certain number of those who habitually vote with the Government.4 They will—I believe they will—succeed in getting some votes, though not many I think. But it would be a mistake to suppose that all who vote with them on this occasion are insincere reformers, or that they will ultimately vote against the bill. (Hear, hear.) I am not speaking of Mr. Horsman5 or Mr. Lowe. (Hisses and laughter.) They are not insincere. There is no duplicity about them. They tell us they want no reform; that they bwere afraid of it, that they would resist it to the last. (Loud hisses.)b At least, I know that Mr. Lowe says it, and I believe Mr. Horsman says it.6 I think we ought to be obliged to them for telling us the worst at once that is in them. (A laugh.) Still, I have no doubt that some who will vote for the amendment will ultimately vote for the future stages of the bill. I do not think that this amendment need discourage us in the least. Nobody doubts that the Edition: current; Page: [57] amendment will be defeated, and we shall see the bill carried by increasing instead of diminishing majorities. (Great cheering.) I never formed any decided opinion as to which part of reform it would be best to begin with. I could not judge of it so well as those whose duty it is to judge of it; and what is the use of leaders unless we can trust them on a mere matter of tactics? (Hear, hear.) This is the first time since 1832 that a Government has pledged itself to stand or fall by a Reform Bill. (Cheers.) I confide in the Ministry. cRumours have been current in the back slums of the Tory encampment that some members of the Government are not sincere, and—though I hope it is not for that reason—(laughter)—that they will vote and co-operate with the Tory party. They calculate on a possible combination between some members of the Government and themselves. Well, all know how often the wish is father to the thought—(laughter)—and how very difficult it is to get some people to believe in the political sincerity and honesty of others. But I shall requirec dsomething better than the gossip of the Tadpoles and Tapers (as Mr. Disraeli would term it)d7 ebefore I shall believe there is any member of the Government who is not sincere in this question. (Loud cheers.) There are two members of the Government, however—Earl Russell and Mr. Gladstone—whose sincerity no one ventures to suspect, and that is the reason the Tories are so inveterate against them.e Their sincerity and earnestness on this subject is so obvious, so transparent, and so indisputable, that no one for a moment can doubt them. (Cheers.) fThey all know from past history that Earl Russell had the greatest share in giving the people the greatest improvement of modern times—the Reform Bill8f to which we owe the next greatest improvement—the repeal of the Corn Laws.9 gWhat the Tories now reproach Earl Russell with is, after having resisted any further alteration in the representative system,10 all at once to reopen the question of Reform, which is the highest misdemeanour possible in the eyes of the Tories. (Laughter.) But the people know that the question of Reform was never closed. (Hear, hear.)g Respecting Mr. Gladstone. (Cheers.) What was the Edition: current; Page: [58] use to speak of him on a question of sincerity? (Cheers.) Every year of his official life had been marked by a succession of measures—no year being without them—some great, some small, but all aiming at the public good—to the good of the people of this country, and especially of the poorer classes. These measures were not even suggested to him; they were the offspring of his own mind, will, and purpose—the free gift from him to his countrymen, unprompted, unsuggested. (Loud cheers.) And his countrymen would reward him as they had done already. (Hear, hear, and cheers.) Mr. Gladstone seems to be the first statesman who has come up to the idea of a great modern statesman: a Minister should be the leader of a free people—not employing his mind only to do that which the people wished, but pointing out to them that which was for their benefit—offering it to them without even being asked—leaving it to them to accept or refuse it—not thinking that it was his business to act only as he was acted upon, and yielding to pressure. What constituted a great statesman was to take the initiative for the good of his fellow-countrymen. Was it not Mr. Gladstone who first broke silence on the subject of reform after the ridiculous failure of 1860?11 hand he was the man who made that celebrated declaration that every human being, inasmuch as he had an interest in good government, had a primâ facie cause for admission to the suffrage.h12 If we do not stand by him as he is doing by our work—if he fails from any defect of ours, from the want of encouragement to go on—the consequence will be that we shall richly deserve to suffer, for we shall not easily find another to serve us in the same way. (Loud cheers.)

[The resolution was carried unanimously. A petition was moved calling for the Commons to pass the Bill without delay, and, after other speeches and demonstrations, the meeting ended.]

16.: Representation of the People [2]
13 APRIL, 1866

Speech of J. Stuart Mill Esq., M.P. for Westminster, upon the Reform Bill, Delivered in the House of Commons, April 13th, 1866. From the “Daily Telegraph.” (London: Diprose and Bateman, 1866). (The title page of the penny pamphlet is headed by a quotation from the Daily Telegraph of the 14th: “All will read it, and in reading it will learn the views of the boldest, and yet the most sure and measured thinker of the day.”) PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 182, cols. 1253–63. Reported in The Times, 14 April, p. 6, from which variant readings and Edition: current; Page: [59] responses are taken. Mill’s manuscript draft of the speech (printed in Appendix D) is extant (Harvard); it lacks, of course, Mill’s responses to the debate. Another pamphlet version appeared: Speech of John Stuart Mill, Esq., M.P. for Westminster, During the Debate on the Second Reading of the Representation of the People Bill, in the House of Commons, April 13, 1866. Reprinted from “The Morning Star.” (London: Judd and Glass, [1866]). The copies of the pamphlets in Somerville College have inked corrections that are here accepted; in all cases except the second and the final two, the changes result in the PD version: at 62.4, “consequences they” is altered to “consequences—they”; at 62.27, “classes, in” is altered to “classes; on”; at 63.38, “this or” is altered to “this and”; at 65.20, “and most” is altered to “and much”; at 67.1, “interests” is altered to “interest”; at 68.5, “and is honest” is altered to “and honest” (PD reads “good, honest”); and at 68.11–12, “(hear)—unless I am mistaken. And (it” is altered to “(hear).—Unless I am mistaken, (and it)”. Mill spoke on the second reading of Gladstone’s Reform Bill (see No. 15), specifically on Earl Grosvenor’s motion (technically an amendment) on 12 April: “That this House, while ready to consider, with a view to its settlement, the question of Parliamentary Reform, is of opinion that it is inexpedient to discuss a Bill for the reduction of the Franchise in England and Wales, until the House has before it the entire scheme contemplated by the Government, for the amendment of the Representation of the People” (col. 1227).

although the question which will be put from the chair relates ostensibly to the mere order of proceeding, it will hardly be denied, and least of all after the speech of the right honourable baronet,1 that the question we are really discussing is whether the bill ought to pass. (Hear, hear.) Indeed, the noble Lord the member for King’s Lynn is the only speaker on the Opposition side who has argued the nominal issue as if he thought that it was the real one, or has even laid any great stress upon it.2 That noble lord, in a speech marked by all the fairness and candour which were known to be his characteristics, and by even more than the ability—at least by more varied and sustained ability—has said, I think, the most and the best that can be said in favour of the amendment, considered as a substantive motion. He has brought forward considerations well calculated to make an impression, but only on one part of his audience—on those who, though they may be willing to consent to some reform, look with extreme jealousy on the most important part of it, the enfranchisement of a portion of the working classes—who regard this less as a good to be desired, than as a doubtful and perhaps perilous experiment, and tremble lest they should eventually find themselves committed to giving those classes a trifle more representation than they were duly warned of beforehand. (Cheers.) What is the very worst extremity of evil with which the noble lord threatens the House, in case it should be so unguarded as to pass this bill without the other measures of Parliamentary Reform by which it is to be succeeded? Why, it is this—that if something happens which it requires the most improbable Edition: current; Page: [60] concurrence of chances to bring about, something against which neither the personal honour of the Government, nor the inexorable dates fixed by the Registration Acts,3 nor even the expressed will of Parliament, if Parliament should think fit to express its will, can guarantee us; in this all but impossible case, there may happen—what? That the redistribution of seats may, in spite of all that can be done, possibly devolve upon a House of Commons elected under the enlarged franchise. (Hear, hear.) Now, I put it to the noble lord’s clear intellect—and impartial because clear—is this an argument which can have any weight with anybody who thinks the enlarged franchise an improvement—(cheers)—who thinks it calculated to give us a better Legislature? If the Legislature it gives us is a better one for all other purposes, will it not be a better one for this purpose? (Hear, hear.) If it can be trusted to govern us, if it can be trusted to tax us, if it can be trusted to legislate for us, can it not be trusted to revise its own constitution? (Hear, hear.) Does experience teach us to expect that this of all things is the work in which legislative bodies in general, and British Parliaments in particular, are likely to be rash, headstrong, precipitate, subversive, revolutionary? (Loud cheers.) I think, Sir, that a Parliament which was cautious in nothing else might be depended on for caution in meddling with the conditions of its own power. (Hear.) Sir, this formidable one chance in a thousand with which the noble lord threatens us, is only terrific to those in whose eyes the bill is a rash and portentous transfer of power to the working classes. To those who think that the enfranchising provisions are good in themselves, good even if there were no redistribution of seats (hear, hear), and still better if there is (cheers), this phantom of evil has no terrors. (Hear, hear.) And that I believe to be the opinion of the great body of reformers, both in and out of the House. (Cheers.) We are, I dare say, as sincerely desirous as the noble mover of the amendment that family and pocket boroughs should be extinguished, and the inordinate political influence of a few noble and opulent families acurtaileda. (Cheers and laughter.) We are, I believe, as anxious to bcontrolb the power which wealth possesses, of buying its way into the House of Commons, and shutting the door upon other people—as the wealthiest gentleman present. c(Hear, hear.)c But though we are quite orthodox on these great points of Conservative Parliamentary Reform—(hear)—and look forward with delight to our expected co-operation with gentlemen on the opposite benches in the congenial occupation of converting them from theories into facts—(hear, hear, and laughter)—we yet think that a measure of enfranchisement like this bill—moderate, indeed—far more moderate than is desired by the majority of Edition: current; Page: [61] reformers, but which does make the working classes a substantial power in this House—is not only a valuable part of a scheme of Parliamentary Reform, but highly valuable even if nothing else were to follow. And as this is the only question among those raised on the present occasion, which seems to me in the smallest degree worth discussing, I shall make no further apology for confining myself to it. (Cheers.) Sir, measures may be recommended either by their principle, or by their practical consequences; and if they have either of these recommendations, they usually have both. As far as regards the principle of this measure, there is but little to disagree about; for a measure which goes no further than this, does not raise any of the questions of principle on which the House is divided, and I cannot but think that the right honourable baronet, in intruding these questions into the debate has caused it to deviate somewhat from its proper course. If it were necessary to take into consideration even all the reasonable things which can be said pro and con about democracy d—and I fully admit that the right honourable baronet has said things both reasonable and unreasonable on that subject (laughter)—d the House would have a very different task before it. But this is not a democratic measure. It neither deserves that praise, nor, if honourable members will have it so, that reproach. It is not a corollary from what may be called the numerical theory of representation. It follows from the class theory, which we all know is the Conservative view of the constitution; the favourite doctrine, not only of what are called Conservative reformers, but of Conservative non-reformers as well. (Hear, hear.) The opponents of reform are accustomed to say, that the constitution knows nothing of individuals, but only of classes. (Hear, hear.) Individuals, they tell us, cannot complain of not being represented, so long as the class they belong to is represented. But if any class is unrepresented, or has not its proper share of representation relatively to others, that is a grievance. Now, all that need be asked at present is that this theory be applied to practice. There is a class which has not yet had the benefit of the theory. While so many classes, comparatively insignificant in numbers, and not supposed to be freer from class partialities or interests than their neighbours (cheers), are represented—some of them I venture to say, greatly over-represented, in this House—here is a class, more numerous than all the others, and, therefore, as a mere matter of human feeling, entitled to more consideration—weak as yet, and therefore needing representation the more, but daily becoming stronger, and more capable of making its claims good—and this class is not represented. We claim, then, a large and liberal representation of the working classes, on the Conservative theory of the constitution. (Cheers.) We demand that they be represented as a class, if represented they cannot be as human beings; and we call on honourable gentlemen to prove the sincerity of their convictions by extending the benefit of them to the great majority of their countrymen. (Cheers.) But, honourable gentlemen say, the working classes are Edition: current; Page: [62] already represented. It has just come to light, to the astonishment of everybody, that these classes actually form 26 per cent. of the borough constituencies.4 They kept the secret so well—it required so much research to detect their presence on the register—their votes were so devoid of any traceable consequences—they had all this power of shaking the foundations of our institutions, and so obstinately persisted in not doing it—(loud cheers)—that honourable gentlemen are quite alarmed, and recoil in terror from the abyss into which they have not fallen. (Renewed cheers and laughter.) Well, Sir, it certainly seems that this amount of enfranchisement of the working classes has done no harm. But if it has not done harm, perhaps it has not done much good either; at least not the kind of good which we are talking about. A class may have a great number of votes in every constituency in the kingdom, and yet obtain scarcely any representation in this House. Their right of voting may be only the right of being everywhere outvoted. (A laugh, and hear.) If, indeed, the mechanism of our electoral system admitted representation of minorities; if those who are outvoted in one place could join their votes with those who are outvoted in another; then, indeed, a fourth part, even if only of the borough electors, would be a substantial power, for it would mean a fourth of the borough representatives. 26 per cent. concentrated would be a considerable representation; but 26 per cent. diffused is almost the same as none at all. The right honourable baronet ewho just preceded me has brought forward a very plausible argument on that point. Hee has said that a class, though but a minority, may by cleverly managing its votes, be master of the situation, and that the tenant farmers in Hertfordshire, fthough only a third of the constituencyf can carry an election.5 They may be able to decide whether a Tory or a Whig shall be elected; they may be masters of so small a situation as that. (Laughter.) But what you are afraid of is their carrying points on which their interest as a class is opposed to that of all other classes; on which if they were only a third of the constituency the other two-thirds would be against them. Do you think they would be masters of such a situation as that?—(cheers)—Sir, there is no known contrivance by which in the long run a minority can outnumber a majorityg. What might be done in that way by preternatural contrivance I do not know (laughter) but by no natural contrivance can one-third be made to outvoteg the other two-thirds. (Renewed laughter and cheers.) The real share of the working classes in the representation is measured by the number of members they can return—in other words, the number of constituencies in which they are the majority: and even that only marks the extreme limit of the influence which they can exercise, but by no means that which Edition: current; Page: [63] they will. (Hear, hear.) Why, Sir, among the recent discoveries, one is, that there are some half-dozen constituencies in which working men are even now a majority;6 and I put it to honourable gentlemen, would anybody ever have suspected it? At the head of these constituencies is Coventry. Are the members for Coventry generally great sticklers for working-class notions? (Hear, hear.) It has, I believe, been observed that these gentlemen usually vote quite correctly on the subject of French ribbons—(laughter)—and as that kind of virtue comes most natural to Conservatives—(renewed laughter)—the members for Coventry often are Conservative. But probably that would happen much the same if the master manufacturers had all the votes. (Cheers.) If, indeed, a tax on power-looms were proposed, and the members for Coventry voted for it, that might be some indication of working class influences; though I believe that the working men, even at Coventry, have far outgrown that kind of absurdities. (Cheers.) Even if the franchise were so much enlarged that the working men, by polling their whole strength, could return by small majorities 200 of the 658 members of this House, there would not be 50 of that number who would represent the distinctive feelings and opinions of working men, or would be, in any class sense, their representatives. (Hear, hear.) And what if they had the whole 200? Even then, on any subject in which they were concerned as a class, there would be more than two to one against them when they were in the wrong. They could not succeed in anything, even when unanimous, unless they carried with them nearly a third of the representatives of the other classes; and if they did that, there would be, I think, a very strong presumption of their being in the right. (Hear, hear, and cheers.) As a matter of principle, then, and not only on liberal principles, but on those of the Conservative party, the case in favour of the bill seems irresistible. (Loud cheers.) But it is asked by my right honourable friend the member for Calne, what practical good do we expect?7 What particular measures do we hope to see carried in a reformed House, which cannot be carried in the present? If I understand my right honourable friend correctly, he thinks we ought to come to the House with a bill of indictment against itself (a laugh)—an inventory of wrong things which the House does, and right things which it cannot be induced to do (hear, hear)—and when, convinced by our arguments, the House pleads guilty and cries peccavi, we have his permission to bring in a Reform Bill. (Hear, hear, and laughter.) Sir, my right honourable friend says we should not proceed on a priori reasoning, but should be practical. I want to know whether this is his idea of being practical. For my part, I am only sorry it is not possible that in the discussion of this question special applications should be kept entirely out of view: for if we descend to particulars, and point out this and that in the conduct of the House, which we should like to see altered, but which the House, by the very fact that it does not alter Edition: current; Page: [64] them, does not think require alteration, how can we expect the House to take this as a proof that its constitution needs reform? We should not at all advance our cause, while we should stir up all the most irritating topics in the domain of politics. (Hear, hear.) Suppose now—and I purposely choose a small instance to give the less offence—suppose we were to say that if the working classes had been represented, it would not have been found so easy for honourable gentlemen whose cattle were slaughtered by Act of Parliament8 to get compensated twice over—(cheers and laughter)—once by a rate, and again by a rise in price. I use the case only for illustration: I lay no stress on it; but I ask, ought the debate on a Reform Bill to consist of a series of discussions on points similar to this, and a hundred times more irritating than this? Is it desirable to drag into this discussion all the points on which any one may think that the rights or interests of labour are not sufficiently regarded by the House? (Hear, hear.) I will ask another question. If the authors of the Reform Bill of 18329 had foretold—which they scarcely could have done, since they did not themselves know it—if they had predicted that through it we should abolish the corn laws—that we should abolish the navigation laws—(cheers)—that we should grant free trade to all foreigners without reciprocity—(renewed cheers)—that we should reduce inland postage to a penny—that we should renounce the exercise of any authority over our colonies—all which things have really happened10—does the House think that these announcements would have greatly inclined the Parliament of that day towards passing the bill? (Loud cheers.) Whether the practical improvements that will follow a further Parliamentary reform will be equal to these, the future must disclose; but whatever they may be, they are not at the present time regarded as improvements by the House, for if the House thought so, there is nothing to hinder it from adopting them. (Cheers.) Sir, there is a better way of persuading possessors of power to give up a part of it: not by telling them that they make a bad use of their power—which, if it were true, they could not be expected to be aware of—but by reminding them of what they are aware of—their own fallibility. Sir, we all of us know that we hold many erroneous opinions, but we do not know which of our opinions these are, for if we did, they would not be our opinions. (Hear, hear.) Therefore, reflecting men take precautions beforehand against their own errors, without waiting till they and all other people are agreed about the particular instances; and if there are things which, from their mental habits or their position in life, are in danger of escaping their notice, they are glad to associate themselves with others of different habits and positions which very fact peculiarly qualifies them to see the precise things which they themselves do not see. Believing the House to be composed of reasonable men, this is what we ask them Edition: current; Page: [65] to do. (Hear, hear.) Every class knows some things not so well known to other people, and every class has interests more or less special to itself, and for which no protection is so effectual as its own. These may be a priori doctrines, but so is the doctrine that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points; they are as much truths of common sense and common observation as that is, and persons of common sense act upon them with the same perfect confidence. I claim the benefit of these principles for the working classes. They require it more than any other class. The class of lawyers, or the class of merchants, is amply represented, though there are no constituencies in which lawyers or merchants form the majority; but a successful lawyer or merchant easily gets into Parliament by his wealth or social position, and, once there, is as good a representative of lawyers or merchants as if he had been elected on purpose; but no constituency elects a working man, or a man who looks at questions with working men’s eyes. (Cheers.) Is there, I wonder, a single member of this House who thoroughly knows the working men’s views of trades unions, or of strikes, and could bring these subjects before the House in a manner satisfactory to working men? (Hear, hear.) My honourable friend the member for Brighton, if any one;11 perhaps not even he. Are there many of us who so perfectly understand the subject of apprenticeships, let us say, or of the hours of labour, as to have nothing to learn on the subject from intelligent operatives? I grant that, along with many just ideas and much valuable knowledge, you would sometimes find pressed upon you erroneous opinions—mistaken views of what is for the interest of labour; and I am not prepared to say that if the labouring classes were predominant in the House, attempts might not be made to carry some of these wrong notions into practice. But there is no question at present about making the working classes predominant. (Hear, hear.) What is asked is a sufficient representation to ensure that their opinions are fairly placed before the House, and are met by real arguments, addressed to their own reason, by people who can enter into their way of looking at the subjects in which they are concerned. (Cheers.) In general, those who attempt to correct the errors of the working classes do it as if they were talking to babies. (Cheers.) They think any trivialities sufficient. If they condescend to argue, it is from premises which hardly any working man would admit; they expect that the things which appear self-evident to them will appear self-evident to the working classes; their arguments never reach the mark, never come near what a working man has in his mind, because they do not know what is in his mind. Consequently, when the questions which are near the hearts of the working men are talked about in this House—there is no want of good will to them, I cheerfully admit (hear, hear)—but all that it is most necessary to prove to them is taken for granted. Do not suppose that working men would always be unconvincible by such arguments as ought to satisfy them. (Hear, hear.) It is Edition: current; Page: [66] not one of the faults of democracy to be obstinate in error. (Hear, hear.) An Englishman who had lived some years in the United States12 lately summed up his opinion of the Americans by saying, “They are the most teachable people on the face of the earth.” Old countries are not as teachable as young countries, but I believe it will be found that the educated artisans, those especially who take interest in politics, are the most teachable of all our classes. They have much to make them so; they are, as a rule, more in earnest than any other class; their opinions are more genuine, less influenced by what so greatly influences some of the other classes—the desire of getting on; their social position is not such as to breed self-conceit. Above all, there is one thing to which, I believe, almost every one will testify who has had much to do with them, and of which even my own limited experience supplies striking examples; there is no class which so well bears to be told of its faults—to be told of them even in harsh terms, if they believe that the person so speaking to them says what he thinks, and has no ends of his own to serve by saying it.13 (Cheers.) I can hardly conceive a nobler course of national education than the debates of this House would become, if the notions, right and wrong, which are fermenting in the minds of the working classes, many of which go down very deep into the foundations of society and government, were fairly stated and genuinely discussed within these walls. (Hear, hear.) It has often been noticed how readily, in a free country, people resign themselves even to the refusal of what they ask, when everything which they could have said for themselves has been said by somebody in the course of the discussion. (Hear, hear.) The working classes have never yet had this tranquillising assurance. They have always felt that not they themselves, perhaps, but their opinions, were prejudged—were condemned without being listened to. But let them have the same equal opportunities which others have of pleading their own cause—let them feel that the contest is one of reason, and not of power—and if they do not obtain what they desire, they will as readily acquiesce in defeat, or trust to the mere progress of reason for reversing the verdict, as any other portion of the community. (Cheers.) And they will, much oftener than at present, obtain what they desire. Let me refer honourable gentlemen to Tocqueville, who is so continually quoted when he says anything uncomplimentary to democracy, that those who have not read him might mistake him for an enemy of it, instead of its discriminating but sincere friend. Tocqueville says that, though the various American legislatures are perpetually making mistakes, they are perpetually correcting them too, and that the evil, such as it is, is far outweighed by the salutary effects of the general tendency of their legislation, which is maintained, in a degree unknown elsewhere, in the direction Edition: current; Page: [67] of the interest of the people.14 Not that vague abstraction, the good of the country, but the actual, positive well-being of the living human creatures who compose the population. (Hear, hear.) But we are told that our own legislation has made great progress in this direction—that the House has repealed the corn laws, removed religious disabilities,15 and got rid of I know not how many more abominations. Sir, it has; and I am far from disparaging these great reforms, which have probably saved this country from a violent convulsion. As little would I undervalue the good sense and good feeling which have made the governing classes of this country h(unlike those of some other countries)h capable of thus far advancing with the times. But they have their recompense—habes pretium, lloris non urerisl.16 Their reward is that they are not hated, as other privileged classes have been. (Hear.) And that is the fitting reward for ceasing to do harm—for merely repealing bad laws which Parliament itself had made. (Cheers.) But is this all that the Legislature of a country like ours can offer to its people? Is there nothing for us to do, but only to undo the mischief that we or our predecessors have done? Are there not all the miseries of an old and crowded society waiting to be dealt with (hear, hear)—the curse of ignorance, the curse of pauperism, the curse of disease, the curse of a whole population born and nurtured in crime? (Cheers.) All these things we are just beginning to look at—just touching with the tips of our fingers; and, by the time two or three more generations are dead and gone, we may perhaps have discovered how to keep them alive, and how to make their lives worth having. I must needs think that we should get on much faster with all this—the most important part of the business of government in our days—if those who are the chief sufferers by the great chronic evils of our civilisation had representatives among us to stimulate our zeal, as well as to inform us by their experience. (Hear, hear.) Of all great public objects, the one which would be most forwarded by the presence of working people’s representatives in this House is the one in which we flatter ourselves we have done most—popular education. And let me here offer to my right honourable friend, the member for Calne, who demands practical arguments, a practical argument which I think ought to come Edition: current; Page: [68] home to him. If those whose children we vote money to instruct had been properly represented in this House, he would not have lost office on the Revised Code.17 (Hear, hear, and a laugh.) The working classes would have seen in him an administrator of a public fund honestly determined that the work for which the public paid should be good and honest work. (Cheers.) They are not the people to prefer a greater quantity of sham teaching to a smaller quantity of real teaching at a less expense. Real education is the thing they want, and as it is what he wanted, they would have understood him and upheld him. (Hear, hear.) I have myself seen those services remembered to his honour, even at this moment of exasperation, by one of the leaders of the working classes—(hear). j[Mr. Bright was here understood to say, So have I.]j—Unless I am mistaken, (and it is not my opinion alone), very few years of a real working-class representation would have passed over our heads, before there would be in every parish a school-rate, and the school doors freely open to all the world; and in one generation from that time England would be an educated nation. (Hear, hear.) Will it ever become so by your present plan, which gives to him that hath, and only to him that hath? Never. If there were no reason for extending the franchise to the working classes except the stimulus it would give to this one alone of the imperial works which the present state of society urgently demands from Parliament, the reason would be more than sufficient. (Hear.) These, Sir, are a few of the benefits which I expect from a further Parliamentary Reform; and as they depend altogether upon one feature of it, the effective representation of the working classes, their whole weight is in favour of passing the present bill, without regard to any bill that may follow. I look upon a liberal enfranchisement of the working classes as incomparably the greatest improvement in our representative institutions, which we at present have it in our power to make (hear); and as I shall be glad to receive this greatest improvement along with others, so I am perfectly willing to accept it by itself. Such others as we need we shall, no doubt, end by obtaining; and a person must be very simple who imagines that we should have obtained them a day sooner if Ministers had encumbered the subject by binding up any of them with the present bill. (Loud cheers.)

Many members, as they passed down the gangway, close to where the honourable member sits, shook hands with him in congratulation for his able address.

[The debate was later adjourned to 16 April; see No. 17.]

Edition: current; Page: [69]

17.: Representation of the People [3]
16 APRIL, 1866

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 182, col. 1477. Reported in The Times, 17 April, p. 10, from which the response is taken. During the adjourned debate on the second reading of Gladstone’s Reform Bill (see Nos. 15 and 16), Mill responded to an interpretation by Hugh Cairns of his remarks in No. 16. Cairns said (cols. 1476–7), “It is saying nothing but what the majority of the House think when I state that, on this point [the whole question of Reform], the speech of the noble Lord the Member for King’s Lynn [Lord Stanley] was both unanswerable and has been unanswered. When I say ‘unanswered,’ I will make one exception. The honourable Member for Westminster did give an answer, and to anybody looking at the question from the same point of view I have no doubt the answer was perfectly satisfactory. The honourable Member said, ‘Here is a Bill which will enfranchise 200,000 borough voters. You are apprehensive that possibly 200,000 or 300,000 more may possibly be enfranchised, when the effect of the redistribution of seats is felt, but I am of opinion that the more enfranchised the better.’ ”

mr. j. stuart mill: I said nothing of the kind.

Sir Hugh Cairns: I should be sorry to misrepresent anything that fell from the honourable Member, but I understood him to say that every considerable enfranchisement in itself was good.

Mr. J. Stuart Mill: I said that the enfranchisement which this Bill gives is an absolute good; and that if it produced an improved Legislature, that Legislature might be entrusted to make the redistribution of seats. (Hear, hear.)

18.: The Malt Duty
17 APRIL, 1866

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 182, cols. 1524–8. Reported in The Times, 18 April, p. 6, from which the variants and responses are taken. Mill says in the Autobiography that this speech, insisting “on the duty of paying off the National Debt before [the nation’s] coal supplies [were] exhausted,” following on the success of No. 16, further improved his position in the House (CW, I, 277). Fitzroy Kelly (1796–1880), then M.P. for Suffolk, moved “That upon any future remission of indirect taxation, this House will take into consideration the Duty upon Malt with a view to its immediate reduction and ultimate repeal” (ibid., col. 1509). Charles Neate (1806–79), M.P. for Oxford, moved an amendment to substitute: “That in the present state of the taxation and resources of the Country, it is the duty of Parliament to make provision for the systematic reduction of the National Debt, and not to sanction any proposal for any repeal or change of taxes which is likely to be attended with a diminution of the Revenue” (cols. 1523–4). Mill’s seconding speech follows on immediately.

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in rising to second the Amendment of my honourable Friend the Member for Oxford, I hope I shall not be suspected of any disposition to abuse the indulgence which the House has so recently and so kindly extended to me. But I have for some time felt so serious, I may say so solemn a conviction upon the subject which my honourable Friend has brought forward, that it is almost a matter of conscience with me not to let slip an occasion of endeavouring to impress that conviction on some honourable Members of this House. (Hear.) Not long ago it might not altogether unreasonably be supposed that the unrivalled growth of this country in every kind of wealth—the limits of which it seemed impossible to define—was an excuse to us, and even a justification, for leaving our pecuniary obligations, without any serious attempt to reduce them, to weigh upon posterity, whom we might reasonably expect to be better able to support them than we ourselves are. This, however, was at no time a conclusive argument or a sound excuse, because future generations will have their own exigencies too; and we have had an example of it in the fact that not many years ago two years of war sufficed to re-add to our National Debt nearly as much as had been subtracted from it by the savings of fifty years.1 (Hear, hear.) But, more recently, facts have been brought to our notice, which have been too much overlooked; showing that the excuse we made to ourselves is not admissible in the case of a nation whose population greatly exceeds that which with the existing resources of science can be supported from its own soil; who are therefore dependent for subsistence on the power of disposing of their goods in foreign markets; and whose command over those markets depends upon the continued possession of an exhaustible material. The termination of our coal supplies, though always certain, has always until lately appeared so distant, that it seeemed quite unnecessary for the present generation to occupy itself with the question. The reason was that all our calculations were grounded upon the existing rate of consumption; but the fact now is that our consumption of coals increases with such extraordinary rapidity from year to year, that the probable exhaustion of our supplies is no longer a question of centuries, but of generations. (Hear.) I hope there are many honourable Members in this House who are acquainted with a small volume written by Mr. Stanley Jevons, entitled The Coal Question.2 It appears to me, so far as one not practically conversant with the subject can presume to judge, that Mr. Jevons’ treatment of the subject is almost exhaustive. He seems to have anticipated everything which can possibly be said against the conclusion at which he has arrived, and to have answered it; and that conclusion is, that if the consumption of coal continues to increase at the present Edition: current; Page: [71] rate, three generations at the most, very possibly a considerably shorter period, will leave no workable coal nearer to the surface than 4,000 feet in depth; and that the expense of raising it from that depth will entirely put it out of the power of the country to compete in manufactures with the richer coal-fields of other countries. I think that if there be anyone in this House, or out of it, who knows anything which will invalidate these conclusions of Mr. Jevons, it will be right for him to come forward and make it known. I have myself read various attempts to answer Mr. Jevons,3 but I must say that every one of them, admitting the truth of everything said, has only made out that our supplies will continue a few years longer than the term which Mr. Jevons has assigned. In fact, it has now come to this, that instead of being at liberty to suppose that future generations will be more capable than we are ourselves of paying off the National Debt, it is probable that the present generation and the one or two which will follow, are the only ones which will have the smallest chance of ever being able to pay it off. Now, what is the duty which facts of this sort impose upon this country? Are we going to bequeath our pecuniary obligations undiminished to descendants, to whom we cannot bequeath our assets? Suppose the property of a private individual had come to him deeply mortgaged, and that the bulk of it consisted of a mine, rich indeed, but certain to be exhausted in his lifetime, would he think it honourable to waste the whole proceeds of the mine in riotous living, and leave to his children the apayment of the debt out of the residue of the estatea? Then what would be vicious and dishonourable in a private individual is not less dishonourable in a nation. We ought to think of these things while it is still time. This country is at present richer and more prosperous than any country we ever knew or read of, and it can without any material inconvenience or privation set aside several millions a year for the discharge of this important duty to our descendants. I do not think we are much to blame as far as we have yet gone. It was perfectly right to get rid of all very bad taxes, all those which produced a greater quantity of incidental mischief than advantage to the revenue from their imposition. Thanks to the progress of opinion, and thanks also to the enlightened and far-sighted Minister who has administered our finances for some years back (hear, hear),4 this work has been nearly performed. There are very few taxes remaining which are utterly unfit to exist. If there are any, they do not yield so large a revenue but that we may hope, without much difficulty, to get rid of them also. The bulk of our revenue is derived from a comparatively small number of Edition: current; Page: [72] imposts, each yielding a considerable sum, and none of which, I think, is now very seriously objectionable in principle, or greatly mischievous in practice, any further than is inevitably incident on the payment of taxes. I think it is perfectly legitimate to try experiments upon these taxes, if there be any chance, by lowering the amount, to increase the revenue. It is also legitimate to vary the mode of imposing taxes; for example, by levying them at a later stage in the production of the article, by which means we may get rid of objections such as some which have been brought forward by the honourable and learned Member opposite.5 But if we are to abolish any tax which yields a revenue of £5,000,000 or £6,000,000, merely in order to have the satisfaction of expending the amount in some other way, it will be, as it appears to me, a criminal dereliction of duty. (Hear, hear.) If we are able either by increasing our resources or by a retrenchment of our expenditure to dispense with the malt tax, how much wiser and worthier it would be if we were to set apart this tax as a fund for the extinguishment of our Debt. (Hear, hear.) I beg permission to press upon the House the duty of taking these things into serious consideration, in the name of that dutiful concern for posterity, which has been strong in every nation which ever did any thing great, and which has never left the mind of any such nation until, as in the case of the Romans under the Empire, it was already falling into decrepitude, and ceasing to be a nation. There are many persons in the world, and there may possibly be some in this House, though I should be sorry to think so, who are not unwilling to ask themselves, in the words of the old jest, “Why should we sacrifice anything for posterity; what has posterity done for us?”6 They think that posterity has done nothing for them: but that is a great mistake. Whatever has been done for mankind by the idea of posterity; whatever has been done for mankind by philanthropic concern for posterity, by a conscientious sense of duty to posterity, even by the less pure but still noble ambition of being remembered and honoured by posterity; all this we owe to posterity, and all this it is our duty to the best of our limited ability to repay. (Hear, hear.) All the great deeds of the founders of nations, and of those second bfoundersb of nations, their great reformers—all that has been done for us by the authors of those laws and institutions to which free countries are indebted for their freedom, and well governed countries for their good government; all the heroic lives which have been led, and all the heroic deaths which have been died, in defence of liberty and law against despotism and tyranny, from Marathon and Salamis down to Leipsic and Waterloo; all those traditions of wisdom and of virtue which are enshrined in the history and literature of the past—all the schools and Universities by which the culture of former times has been brought down to us, and Edition: current; Page: [73] all that culture itself—all that we owe to the great masters of human thought and to the great masters of human emotion—all this is ours because those who preceded us have cared, and have taken thought, for posterity. (Hear, hear.) Not owe anything to posterity, Sir! We owe to it Bacon, and Newton, and Locke, cand Bentham; aye,c and Shakespeare, and Milton, and Wordsworth.7 I have read of an eminent man—I am almost sure it was Dr. Franklin—who, when he wished to relieve the necessities or assist the occasions of any deserving person by pecuniary help, had a way of his own of doing it, and it was this. He said to them, “I only lend you this; if you are ever able, I expect you to repay it; but not to me: repay it to some other necessitous person, and do it under the same stipulation, that so the stream of benefits may still flow on, as long and as far as human honesty can keep it flowing.”8 (Hear, hear.) What Franklin did from beneficence, in order that the greatest possible amount of good might be extracted from a limited fund, our predecessors, to whom we owe so much, have done from the necessities of the case. The debt of gratitude due to them is such as makes it at times almost an oppressive thought that not one tittle of that vast debt can ever be directly repaid to those from whom we have received so much. But, like the objects of Franklin’s beneficence, we can indirectly repay it, by paying it to others—to those others whom also they cared for, and for whom, and not merely for us, their labours and sacrifices were undergone. What are we, Sir—we of this generation, or of any other generation, that we should usurp, and expend upon our particular and exclusive uses, what was meant for mankind?9 It is lent to us, Sir, not given: and it is our duty to pass it on, not merely undiminished, but with interest, to those who are in the same relation to us as we are to those who preceded us. So shall we too deserve, and may in our turn hope to receive, a share of the same gratitude. (Hear, hear.)

[Neate withdrew the amendment, and the motion was defeated 234 to 150, Mill voting with the majority.]

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19.: Inclosure of Hainault Forest
25 APRIL, 1866

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 182, col. 2012. Reported in The Times, 26 April, p. 6.

mr. j. stuart mill said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department,1 Whether the Inclosure Commissioners have finally signed and sealed their award for the Inclosure of the newly-created Common set out for the ratepayers of the parish of Chigwell; if he is aware that the timber on the fifty acres of recreation ground granted by Parliament in 18622 for the use of the Metropolitan public is being cut down, thereby destroying the forestal appearance of the spot, which the intention of the Legislature was to keep uninclosed and preserved in its natural wildness; and if the destruction of the timber has been sanctioned by the Inclosure Commissioners?

Sir George Grey: Sir, the Inclosure Commissioners have not finally signed and sealed their award for this inclosure. The appeal meeting was held only on the 17th of this month, and they have not yet received the Report of their Assistant Commissioner on that meeting. With regard to the latter part of the Question of the honourable Member, the Commissioners have no knowledge of the timber on these fifty acres being cut down, and if it is so it is entirely without their sanction. The timber, they believe, belongs to the lady of the manor within which the fifty acres are situated.

20.: Representation of the People [4]
26 APRIL, 1866

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 182, col. 2100. Reported in The Times, 27 April, p. 6. During the seventh day of debate on the Second Reading of the Reform Bill (see No. 15), Robert Lowe in a long speech (cols. 2077–99) made repeated attacks on Mill’s position concerning representation of the working classes, and concluded by complaining of Mill’s “narrowness and illiberality” in “saying that those who differ from [him] must be wrong, and that if it were not for the faulty constitution of this House we should see and judge things in the same narrow manner as he does.” Mill immediately rose and, “(amid loud cries of Order)” (The Times), replied.

i wish to correct the last assertion of my right honourable Friend. I never Edition: current; Page: [75] imputed to honourable Gentlemen in this House, or to the landed interest, that they were wilfully wrong.

21.: Chichester Fortescue’s Land Bill
17 MAY, 1866

Chapters and Speeches on the Irish Land Question (London: Longmans, et al., 1870), 97–107. The speech appears in PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 183, cols. 1087–97. Reported in The Times, 18 May, pp. 7–8, from which variants and responses are taken. Writing to John Elliot Cairnes on 4 December, 1869, Mill says: “The ‘Chapters and Speeches’ will be out shortly. The reports of the speeches are taken from Hansard. The first of the two, that of 1866 [i.e., this speech], was printed verbatim from my MS.” (CW, Vol. XVII, p. 1667.) There are, however, some substantive variants. (For the second speech, see No. 88.) Mill spoke on the second reading of “A Bill Further to Amend the Law Relating to the Tenure and Improvement of Land in Ireland,” 29 Victoria (30 Apr., 1866), PP, 1866, V, 353–64.

it was in an auspicious hour for the futurity of Ireland, and of the Empire of which Ireland is so important a part, that a British Administration has introduced this Bill into Parliament. I venture to express the opinion that nothing which any Government has yet done, or which any Government has yet attempted to do, for Ireland—not even Catholic Emancipation itself—has shown so true a comprehension of Ireland’s real needs, or has aimed so straight at the very heart of Ireland’s discontent and of Ireland’s misery. It is a fulfilment of the promise held out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the beginning of the Session, when, in discharging the painful duty of calling on Parliament to treat Ireland once more—let us hope for the last time—as a disaffected dependency, he declared his purpose, and that of the Government of which he is a Member, to legislate for Ireland according to Irish exigencies, and no longer according to English routine.1 To have no better guide than routine is not a safe thing in any case; but to make the routine of one country our guide in legislating for another, is a mode of conduct which, unless by a happy accident, cannot lead to good. It is a mistake which this country has often made—not perhaps so much from being more liable to it than other countries, as from having more opportunities of committing it: having been so often called on to legislate, and to frame systems of administration, for dependencies very unlike itself. Sir, it is a problem of this sort which we still have before us when we attempt to legislate for Ireland. Not that Ireland is a dependency—those days are over; she is an integral part of a great self-governing nation: but a part, I venture to say, very unlike the remaining parts. I am not going to talk about natural differences, race Edition: current; Page: [76] and the like—the importance of which, I think, is very much exaggerated; but let any honourable gentleman consider what a different history Ireland has had from either England or Scotland, and ask himself whether that history must not have left its impress deeply engraven on Irish character. Consider again how different, even at this day, are the social circumstances of Ireland from those of England or Scotland; and whether such different circumstances must not often require different laws and institutions. (Hear, hear.) People often ask—it has been asked this evening2—why should that which works well in England not work well in Ireland? or why should anything be needed in Ireland which is not needed in England? Are Irishmen an exception to all the rest of amankinda, that they cannot bear the institutions and practices which reason and experience point out as the best suited to promote national prosperity? Sir, we were eloquently reminded the other night of that double ignorance against which a great philosopher warned his cotemporaries—ignorance of our being ignorant.3 But when we insist on applying the same rules in every respect to Ireland and to England, we show another kind of double ignorance, and at the same time disregard a precept older than Socrates—the precept which was inscribed on the front of the Temple of Delphi: we not only do not know those whom we undertake to govern, but we do not know ourselves.4 (Cheers.) No, Sir, Ireland is not an exceptional country; but England is. Irish circumstances and Irish ideas as to social and agricultural economy are the general ideas and circumstances of the human race; it is English circumstances and English ideas that are peculiar. Ireland is in the main stream of human existence and human feeling and opinion; it is England that is in one of the lateral channels. If any honourable gentleman doubts this, I ask, is there any other country on the face of the earth in which, not merely as an occasional fact, but as a general rule, the land is owned in great estates by one class, and farmed by another class of capitalist farmers at money rents fixed by contract, while the actual cultivators of the soil are hired labourers, wholly detached from the soil, and receiving only day wages? (Cheers.) Parts of other countries may be pointed out where something like this state of things exists bas an exceptional factb, but Great Britain is the only country where it is the general rule. In all other places in which the cultivators have emerged from slavery, and from that modified form of slavery, serfage, and have Edition: current; Page: [77] not risen into the higher position of owning land in their own right, the labourer holds it, as in Ireland, directly from the landowner, and the intermediate class of well-to-do tenant-farmers has, as a general rule, no existence. Ireland is like the rest of the world, and England is the exceptional country. Then, if we are making rules for the common case, is it reasonable to draw our precedents from the exceptional one? (Hear.) If we are to be guided by experience in legislating for Ireland, it is Continental rather than English experience that we ought to consider, for it is on the Continent, and not in England, that we find anything like similarity of circumstances. And this explains why so much has been said in Ireland about tenant-right and fixity of tenure. For what does Continental experience tell us, as a matter of historical fact? It tells us that where this agricultural economy, in which the actual cultivator holds the land directly from the proprietor, has been found consistent with the good cultivation of the land or with the comfort and prosperity of the cultivators, the rent has not been determined, as it is in Ireland, merely by contract, but the occupier has had the protection of some sort of fixed usage. (Hear, hear.) The custom of the country has determined more or less precisely the rent which he should pay, and guaranteed the permanence of his tenure as long as he paid it. Such a social and agricultural system as exists in Ireland has neverc, or next to never,c succeeded without tenant-right and fixity of tenure. Do I therefore ask you to establish customary rents and fixity of tenure as the rule of occupancy in Ireland? (Hear, hear.) Certainly not. It is perhaps a sufficient reason that I know you will not do it (laughter); but I am also aware that what may be very wholesome when it grows up as a custom, approved and accepted by all parties, would not necessarily have the same success if, without having ever existed as a custom, it were to be enforced as da lawd. (Hear, hear.) Only I warn you of this. Peasant farminge, as a rule,e never answers fanywheref without fixity of tenure. If Ireland is ever to prosper with peasant farming, fixity of tenure is an indispensable condition. But you do not want to perpetuate peasant farming; you want to improve Ireland in another way. You prefer the English agricultural economy, and desire to establish that. The only mode of cultivation which seems to you beneficial is cultivation by well-to-do tenant-farmers and hired labourers. Well, Sir, there is a good deal to be said against this doctrine—it is very disputable, but I am not going to dispute it now. I accept this as the thing you have got to do, and assuming it to be desirable, I ask, how is it to be brought about? This is not the first time that a problem of this sort has been propounded. The French Economists of the eighteenth century—on the whole the most enlightened thinkers of their time—tried to deal with a state of things not unlike what you have to deal with; and they wanted exactly what you want. They had a wretched, down-trodden, half-starved race of peasant cultivators, and they wanted to have, instead of these, Edition: current; Page: [78] comfortable farmers. Some of the more enlightened of the great landlords of France adopted the doctrines of the Economists, and would gladly have carried them into practice; but nothing came of it, and the reform of the agricultural economy of France had to wait for a revolution. (Cheers.) Now, to what do the best writers attribute the failure of these agricultural reformers? To this—that they aimed at putting farmers in the place of the peasants, when they should have aimed at raising the peasants into farmers. If you are going to succeed where they failed, it can only be by avoiding their error. Instead of bringing in capitalist farmers over the heads of the tenants, you have got to take the best of the present tenants, and elevate them into the comfortable farmers you want to have. You cannot evict a whole nation (cheers)—the country would be too hot to hold you and your new tenants if you attempted it. And supposing even that things could be made smooth for the successors of the existing peasantry by means of emigration, are you going to expatriate a whole people? (Cheers.) Would any honourable gentleman desire to do that? Would he endure the thought of doing it? Supposing even that you sought to use the right of landed property for such a purpose, is there any human institution which could have such a strain put upon it and not snap? (Cheers.) Well, then, how are the present tenantry, or the best of them, to be raised into a superior class of farmers? There is but one way, and this Bill which is before you affords the means. Give them what you can of the encouraging influences of ownership. (Cheers.) Give them an interest in improvement. Enable them to be secure of enjoying the fruits of their own labour and outlay. Let their improvements be for their own benefit, and not solely for those whose land they till. There is no parallel problem to be resolved on this side of St. George’s Channel. The system of tenancy in England is found to be at least not incompatible with agricultural improvement. In England and Scotland a large proportion of the landowners either give leases to their tenants which afford them sufficient time for reaping the benefit of whatever improvements they may make, or, when there are no leases, there is generally such a degree of confidence and mutual understanding between landlord and tenant, that they make their improvements in concert; or at all events the tenant, as a general rule, has no fear that the landlord will take an unfair advantage of him, and, by accepting a higher offer over his head, will possess himself without compensation of the increased value which the tenant has given to the land. This is the case in England: but how is it in Ireland? The reverse in all respects. (Oh, oh!) There are few leases, except old and expiring ones, and no confidence at all between landlords and tenants. g(Oh, oh!) Well, at least one-halfg of the landlords, or some other proportion of them, do not deserve confidence, and the consequence is that the tenants dare not trust the other half. (Hear, hear, and laughter.) If a tenant does trust his landlord, he does not trust, for he does not know, the next heir, or the stranger who may buy the property Edition: current; Page: [79] in the Landed Estates Court. The extent to which this want of confidence reaches is really one of the most remarkable facts in all history. There have been incontestable proofs of late years that the tenant farmers of Ireland often possess a considerable amount of savings. Where do these savings go to? They go into banks of deposit; they go into the English funds; they go under the thatch; everywhere but to their natural investment, the farm. (Hear, hear.) There is something, to my mind, almost tragical in this state of things. For the fact is decidedly honourable to Irish landlords that these savings have been made by their tenants; it exculpates a large proportion of them from the indiscriminate charges often brought against the entire hclassh (hear, hear); it proves that a much greater number of them than has often been supposed are neither greedy nor grasping, do not rack-rent their tenants, or take the last farthing in payment of rent; and in spite of this, the tenants are so absolutely without confidence in them, that even the sums which the landlord’s forbearance has enabled them to accumulate are sent away everywhere—are employed for any purpose—except the most obvious and natural purpose, the improvement of their farms. (Hear, hear.) Now, are you going to let this state of things continue? If we all deplore it—if we all are ashamed of it—what remedy is there but one? Give the tenant compensation, awarded by an impartial tribunal, for whatever increased value—and only for the increased value—he has given to the land. Do not use the fruits of his labour or of his outlay without paying for them, or without giving him assurance of being paid for them. (Hear.) The Bill appoints an impartial tribunal. When the parties do not agree, the case is to be adjudged by authorities who even in Ireland deserve and possess the confidence alike of landlords and tenants. Valuers appointed by the Government Board of Works will decide in the first instance, and the assistant barrister, the stipendiary Chairman of Quarter Sessions, is the Judge in appeal.5 I believe no one doubts that such arbitrators as these would be impartial, and would be trusted by the Irish people. But the right honourable gentleman who spoke last (Mr. Lowe) said it was not so much the giving compensation he objected to, as to the fact that improvements might be made under the Bill, to which the consent of the landlord had not been previously obtained.6 That provision, however, if we consider the matter, is the very essence of the Bill, and is indispensable to its operation. If improvements are only to be made by the landlord’s permission, and on his voluntary promise of an indemnity, that can be done now; saving, indeed, some insufficiency in the legal power of a limited owner to bind his successors. But experience proves that when there is a want of confidence between landlords and tenants, improvements which require the previous consent of the landlord are not made at all. The tenant is afraid to serve a notice on his landlord. He is afraid to announce before hand to the Edition: current; Page: [80] landlord that he is in a condition to make improvements, lest, being mostly a tenant-at-will, he should be thought to be also in a condition to pay a higher rent. Or he fears that the landlord will do what some landlords have been known to do—withhold his assent, on the speculation that the tenant may make the improvement notwithstanding, and the landlord may be able to profit by it without paying any indemnity. (Hear, hear.) Or he thinks that the landlord may dislike an improving tenant, from a mere wish to keep his tenantry in a state of dependence. And what does the landlord sacrifice by renouncing the condition of previous consent? Nothing whatever but the power of taking for himself the fruits of the labour of others. (Hear, hear.) He will still be free to improve the estate himself, if he can and will. But if he does not, and his tenant does, he will be prevented from appropriating the value which the tenant has created, without paying him an equivalent. What he will have to pay, will be determined not by the outlay of the tenant, but by ithei value actually added to the farm by the tenant’s labour or outlay, in the opinion of an impartial tribunal. It is of no consequence how much the tenant may have expended; unless he has made the land worth more money to the landlord for the landlord’s uses, he will receive nothing. Even in such a case as that to which the right honourable gentleman alluded, and to which reference was frequently made before the Committee7—the case of a landlord wishing to consolidate his farms, and the buildings erected by the tenant not being required when such consolidation takes place—this circumstance would be taken into consideration by the valuer, and the tenant would have to bear the loss. Indeed, in no case would the landlord sustain any pecuniary loss. He would simply have to pay for value received. The objection is what would be called on almost any subject but the present, a purely abstract objection. The Bill is thought to violate a certain abstract right of property in land. I call it an abstract right, meaning that it is of no value to the possessor though it is hurtful to other people. Of what earthly use to any landed proprietor is the right of preventing improvement? (Hear, hear.) It is the right of the dog in the manger. Yet, wonderful to relate, even this the Bill does not take away; it leaves to the landlord the power of preventing the tenant’s improvements by a previous stipulation. But it does this in the confidence—I believe the well-grounded confidence—that the power will seldom be used, except when there is something to justify it in the special circumstances of the case. The framers of the Bill place a just reliance in the influence of a sound moral principle when once embodied in the law. They know that there is a great difference between requiring the tenant to ask permission from the landlord to make improvements, and throwing the onus on the landlord of prohibiting by anticipation a public benefit (hear), which the law, if this Bill passes, will have Edition: current; Page: [81] declared its purpose of encouraging. I maintain, Sir, that the claim of the improver to the value of his improvements, so far from conflicting with the right of property in land, is a right of the very same description as landed property, and rests on the same foundation. What is the ground and justification of landed property? I am afraid some honourable Members think that I am going to give utterance to some grave heresy on this subject. At least, those honourable gentlemen who have been so obliging as to advertise my writings on an unexampled scale, and entirely free of expense either to myself or jto myj publisher (a laugh), seemed to be much scandalized by some passages they had discovered, to the effect that landed property must be more limited in its nature than other proprietary rights, because no man made the land.8 Well, Sir, did any man make the land? If not, did any man acquire it by gift, or by bequest, or by inheritance, or by purchase, from the maker of it? These, I apprehend, are the foundations of the right to other property. Then what is the foundation of the right to property in land? The answer commonly made to this question is enough for me, and I agree in it. Though no man made the land, men, by their industry, made the valuable qualities of it; they reclaimed it from the waste, they brought it under cultivation, they made it useful to man, and so acquired as just a title to it as men have to what they have themselves made. Very well: I have nothing to say against this. But why, I ask, is this right, which is acquired by improving the land, to be for ever confined to the person who first improved it? If it requires improving again, and some one does improve it again, does not this new improver acquire a kind of right akin to that of the original improver? Of course I do not pretend that when one person has acquired a right to land by improving it, another, by improving it again, can oust the first man of his right. But neither do I admit that the man who has once improved a piece of land, acquires thereby an indefeasible right to prevent any one else from improving it for the whole remainder of eternity (hear, hear); or a right to profit, without cost to himself, by improvements which some one else has made. Landed property in its origin had nothing to rest upon but the moral claim of the improver to the value of his improvement; and unless we recognise on the same ground a kindred claim in the temporary occupier, we give up the moral basis on which landed property rests, and leave it without any justification but that of actual possession—a title which can be pleaded for every possible abuse. We have heard a good deal lately about “thoughtful Reformers” kwho seemed to be held in some sort of contempt of late (a laugh)k. It seems there are a great many thoughtful Reformers in this House—some of them very thoughtful ones indeed. I wish there were as many Edition: current; Page: [82] thoughtful Conservatives; but I am afraid they keep most of their thoughtfulness for Reform. However, we know there are thoughtful Conservatives, and they cannot be all on this side of the House. Let me remind them of a writer with whose works they must all of them be familiar—the most thoughtful mind that ever tried to give a philosophic basis to English Conservatism—the late Mr. Coleridge. In his second Lay Sermon, this eminent Conservative propounds a theory of property in land, compared with which anything which I ever hinted at is the merest milk and water.9 (A laugh.) His idea of landed property is, that it is a kind of public function—a trust rather than a property—which the owner is morally justified in using for his own advantage, only after certain great social ends, connected with the cultivation of the country and the well-being of its inhabitants, have been amply fulfilled. I am not claiming anything comparable to this. All I ask is, that the improvement of the country and the well-being of the people may be attended to, when they are proved not to be inconsistent with the pecuniary interest of the landowners. This modest demand is the only one I make; because I believe, and because it is believed by those who are better judges of the condition of Ireland than I can pretend to be, that no more than this is necessary to cure the existing evils. Sir, the House has now a golden opportunity. When I think how small a thing it is which is now asked of us, and when I hear, as I have heard, Members of this House, usually classed as of extreme opinions—men who are Irish of the Irish, who have the full confidence of what is called the National party—when such men assure us that the tenantry, who have been scarcely touched by any of the things you have hitherto done for the benefit of Ireland, will, as they hope, and as they think there is ground to believe, be reconciled to their lot (hear, hear), and changed from a discontented, if not disloyal, to a hopeful and satisfied part of the nation, by so moderate—I had almost said so minute—a concession as that which is now proposed;10 I confess I am amazed that those who have suffered so long and so bitterly are able to be conciliated or calmed by so small a gift (hear); and deplorable would it indeed be if so small a gift were refused to them. Even if we ourselves had not full confidence in this remedy, there is nothing in it so alarming that we need be afraid to try, as an experiment, what is so ardently wished for by a country to which we owe so much reparation that she ought to be the spoilt child of this country for a generation to come—to be treated not only with justice but with generous indulgence. (Cheers.) I am speaking in the presence of many who listened, like myself, to that touching speech which was delivered on the last night Edition: current; Page: [83] of the Reform debate, by the honourable Member for Tralee (The O’Donoghue)—when he, who is so well entitled to speak in the name of the Irish people, and of that portion of them of whom we have had the hardest thoughts, and who have had the hardest thoughts of us, held out his hand to us and declared that if there is even one party in this House and in this country who reciprocate the feeling he then showed, and really regard the Irish as fellow-countrymen, they will be fellow-countrymen to us—they will labour and contend by our side, have the same objects with us, look forward to the same and not to a different future, and let the dream of a separate nationality remain a dream.11 Many, I am sure, must have felt as I felt while I listened to his eloquent and feeling words, that if this House only wills it, that speech is the beginning of a new era. Let us not fling away in want of thought—for it is not want of heart—the reconciliation so frankly tendered. History will not say that we of the present generation are unwilling to lgovern Ireland as she ought to be governed:—let us not go down to posterity with the contemptible reputation of being unable to do sol. Let it not be said of us that, with the best possible intentions towards Ireland, no length of time or abundance of experience could teach us to understand her—whether it is insular narrowness, making us incapable of imagining that Ireland’s exigencies could be in any way different from England’s; mor because the religious respect we cherish for everything which has the smallest savour of a right of property, has degenerated, as is sometimes the case with other religions,m into a superstition. Let us show that our principles of government are not a mere generalization from English facts; but that in legislating for Ireland we can take into account Irish circumstances: and that our care for landed property is an intelligent regard for its essentials, and for the ends it fulfils, and not a servile prostration before its mere name. (Loud cheers.)

[After further debate on 25 July the Bill was withdrawn.]

22.: Representation of the People [5]
31 MAY, 1866

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 183, cols. 1590–2. Reported in The Times, 1 June, p. 6, from which the variants and responses are taken. The continued debate was on the motion to go into Committee on the Reform Bill (see No. 15) and “A Bill for the Redistribution of Seats,” 29 Victoria (7 May, 1866), PP, 1866, V, 33–48. The discussion was on an amendment Edition: current; Page: [84] opposing the government’s proposal to group boroughs. After considerable debate Pakington spoke, followed by Mill.

honourable gentlemen opposite in considerable numbers have shown a very great desire to inform the House, not so much as to their views on the question before us, as with regard to what I have said or written upon the subject, and they have also shown a great desire to know the reasons I have for the course which they suppose I am going to take upon the question.1 I should be sorry to refuse any honourable Gentleman so very small a request, but I must first of all correct a mistake made by the right honourable Baronet (Sir John Pakington) who has just sat down. I did not allow myself to be persuaded not to speak upon the Bill of my honourable Friend the Member for Hull (Mr. Clay).2 I had various reasons for the silence which I observed on that occasion. One of these I have the less hesitation in stating, because I think it is one with which the House will fully sympathize—a decided disinclination for being made a catspaw of. (Hear, hear.) What other reasons I had may possibly appear in the very few observations that I am now about to make, for the gratification of those honourable Gentlemen who show so much friendly concern for my consistency. No doubt it is a very flattering thing to find one’s writings so much referred to and quoted; but any vanity I might have felt in consequence has been considerably dashed, by observing that honourable Gentlemen’s knowledge of my writings is strictly limited to the particular passages which they quote. (Hear, hear, and laughter.) I suppose they found the books too dull to read any further. But if they had done me the honour to read on, they would have learnt a little more about my opinions than they seem to know. It may be that I have suggested plurality of votes and various other checks as proper parts of a general system of representation; but I should very much like to know where any Gentleman finds I have stated that checks and safeguards are required against a £7 franchise? (Laughter.) The proposals I made had reference to universal suffrage, of which I am a strenuous advocate. It appeared to me that certain things Edition: current; Page: [85] were necessary in order to prevent universal suffrage from degenerating into the mere ascendancy of a particular class. Is there any danger that the working class will acquire a numerical ascendancy by the reduction of the franchise qualification to £7? It is ridiculous to suppose such a thing. (Hear.) The effect of the present Bill will not be to create the ascendancy of a class, but to weaken and mitigate the ascendancy of a class; and there is no need for the particular checks which I suggested. I must, however, except one of them, which is equally desirable in any representative constitution—the representation of minorities; and I heartily congratulate the right honourable Baronet on the qualified adhesion which he has given to that principle.3 It is not intended specially as a check on democracy—it is a check upon whatever portion of the community is strongest—on any abuse of power by the class that may chance to be uppermost. Instead of being opposed to democracy, it is actually a corollary from the democratic principle, for on that principle every one would have a vote, and all votes would be of equal value; but without the representation of minorities all votes have not an equal value, for practically nearly one-half of the constituency is disfranchised, for the benefit, it may happen, not even of the majority, but of another minority. Suppose that a House of Commons is elected by a bare majority of the people, and that it afterwards passes laws by a bare majority of itself. The outvoted minority out of doors, and the outvoted minority of the Members of this House who were elected by the majority out of doors, might possibly agree; and thus a little more than one-fourth of the community would actually have defeated the remaining three-fourths. (Hear, hear.) On the principle of justice, therefore, and on the principle of democracy above all, the representation of minorities appears to me an absolutely necessary part of any representative constitution which it is intended should permanently work well. If the right honourable Gentleman who has declared in favour of the representation of minorities (Sir John Pakington) will bring forward a Motion, in any form which can possibly pass, with a view to engraft that principle upon any Bill, I shall have the greatest pleasure in seconding him. (Hear, hear.) I desire to make a brief explanation in reference to a passage which the right honourable Gentleman has quoted from a portion of my writings, and which has some appearance of being less polite than I should wish always to be in speaking of a great party. What I stated was, that the Conservative party was, by the law of its constitution, necessarily the stupidest party.4 (Laughter.) Now, aI do not retract this assertion; but I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid;a I meant, that stupid persons are generally Conservative. (Laughter and Edition: current; Page: [86] cheers.) I believe that to be so obvious and undeniable a fact that I hardly think any honourable Gentleman will question it. Now, if any party, in addition to whatever share it may possess of the ability of the community, has nearly the whole of its stupidity, that party, I apprehend, must by the law of its constitution be the stupidest party. And I do not see why honourable Gentlemen should feel that position at all offensive to them; for it ensures their being always an extremely powerful party. (Hear, hear.) I know I am liable to a retort, an obvious one enough, and as I do not intend any honourable Gentleman to have the credit of making it, I make it myself. It may be said that if stupidity has a tendency to Conservatism, sciolism and half-knowledge have a tendency to Liberalism. Well, Sir, something might be said for that—but it is not at all so clear as the other. There is an uncertainty about half-informed people. You cannot count upon them. You cannot tell what their way of thinking may be. It varies from day to day, perhaps with the last book they have readb, and therefore they are as likely to prove Conservatives as Liberals, and as likely to be Liberals as Conservativesb. They are a less numerous class, and also an uncertain class. But there is a dense solid force in sheer stupidity—such, that a few able men, with that force pressing behind them, are assured of victory in many a struggle; and many a victory the Conservative party have owed to that force. (Laughter.) I only rose for the purpose of making this personal explanation (hear, hear), and I do not intend to enter into the merits of the Amendment, especially as I concur in all that has been said in the admirable speech of my right honourable Friend the Member for London (Mr. Goschen).5 (Cheers.)

[After lengthy debate, there was an adjournment to the following day; another long debate then led to a further adjournment to 4 June, when there was agreement to go into Committee.]

23.: The Ministerial Crisis
23 JUNE, 1866

Daily News, 25 June, 1866, p. 3. Headed: “The Ministerial Crisis. / Westminster.” Reported identically in substantives in the Morning Star, and the Daily Telegraph; the version in The Times is a generally compressed rewording with some additions. (Clippings of the Daily News and The Times reports are in the Mill-Taylor Collection.) The meeting of the electors of Westminster was held on Saturday evening in the Pimlico Rooms, Winchester Street, W.T. Malleson in the chair, “to urge the propriety of dissolving Edition: current; Page: [87] Parliament, and voting unabated confidence in the Ministry,” following Gladstone’s defeat on the Reform Bill (see the debate and votes on 18 June in PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 184, cols. 536–643). The room was about half full, and there were only some eight or nine on the platform. Malleson apologized for Grosvenor’s unavoidable absence, assuring the audience of his loyalty to the cause. Of Mill he said, “the whole country was proud, and he believed that they would seldom find in the history of the House of Commons any occasion on which a new member had so suddenly risen to so prominent a position, had so rapidly established himself in the House of Commons, and had so soon made a firm place for himself in the hearts of his fellow-countrymen. (Cheers.)” (Daily Telegraph.) Probyn moved, Merriman seconding, a resolution expressing confidence in the Ministry. Mill, “on rising, was greeted with tremendous applause, the whole assembly rising and cheering with extraordinary vehemence.”

he said they were called together that evening in order that they might ask themselves the question whether or not the people of Westminster cared for reform. That was the question before them, and that was the only question. Who would be the men for whom her Majesty would send to form an administration if she accepted the resignation of her present advisers of course they could not tell, but he could state what her Majesty ought to do, if she followed the old constitutional practice of sending for the leader of the victorious party, and that was to send for Mr. Lowe. (Hear, hear, and laughter.) It was he who carried with him the triumphant majority the other night, for although he was the only man amongst the opponents of the present bill who in direct terms declared he was against all reform whatever, yet all who had heard, as he had done, the shouts of rejoicing which greeted every anti-popular sentiment to which Mr. Lowe gave utterance, would know that the whole of the sympathies of the tory party were against any measure of reform, whatever it might be.1 He believed that there were only two opinions as to what might be the course the conservatives would pursue if they were able to form a ministry—first, whether they would propose a reform bill at all; and second, whether they would propose a reform bill which was not reform. They said that any bill on this subject must be a compromise. Well, the liberal party made a compromise at the commencement of the session, and a very great compromise it was. They gave up the best part of the matter in dispute to the tories, and now after the liberals had given up to them the better half they cried halves for the remainder. (Laughter.) The difference was split with them in the first instance, and now they wanted to split the other part. But it was worse even than that, and he was going to tell them something which they had all the means of knowing, but which few had paid much attention to, and a very significant and characteristic process it was. He would tell them what was proposed by one of the best of the tory party. They all knew, perhaps, that a political party had heads and tails. The tails of Edition: current; Page: [88] the liberal party sometimes thought that the heads were not quite so good as they should be, but the tory heads were unquestionably a great deal better than the tails. One of the best of the tory heads was Sir Stafford Northcote, a gentleman for whom every one ought to entertain a very sincere respect, because it was to him, in conjunction with Sir Charles Trevelyan, that they owed those competitive examinations by which government appointments, instead of being given, as they used to be, to party connexions for political purposes, were given to proved fitness tested by fair examination.2 Now, when a man agreed that all the spoils of office and all the booty of political life, which unprincipled politicians desired to appropriate for the interests and advancement of their party, should be given up not for the reward of political subserviency, but to persons of whatever class or rank who could prove themselves qualified for public appointments, although they might never have, perhaps, seen the face of a member of parliament, nothing should persuade him that such a man was really a tory, aor wished to postpone the interests of the people in order that he might advance the prosperity of his own party. That was what he thought of Sir Stafford Northcote. Well, what did theya put Sir Stafford Northcote up to do? They followed out their usual tactics in putting up their best men to do their shabbiest things. All present knew how much had been said about large numbers of working people being admitted to the franchise, and how solemnly parliament had been warned that if they let in many more there might be a majority, who would be induced to let in others, until at length the door was opened so wide that all were let in, and that then Heaven knew what would be the result. Now what did they think Sir Stafford Northcote proposed?3 If a working man could occupy a 10l. house it must in most cases be by letting some part of it, but Sir Stafford Northcote proposed to disfranchise all such persons, unless they were able to show that, after deducting all they received from letting, they paid 10l. or 7l., or whatever other sum might be agreed upon, to their landlord. bProbably he would have spared those who were at present on the register, but he would not consent that any one hereafter should be on the register who did not pay to his landlord that 10l. or 7l., or other sum. That was a condition which very few working men could fulfil;b and if that proposition came from one of the best, most honest, and most liberal members of the conservative party, what might they Edition: current; Page: [89] expect from the others? (Hear, hear.) Now, as to the foreign policy of the tories, he wished all those present could have listened as he had done to the five hours of solemn abuse of the Italians, in which the tories had indulged when the Reform Bill should have been brought under discussion.4 Liberals, panting to help and defend the noble Italians against the calumnies heaped upon them, were restrained from entering upon the discussion, clest they should have delayed the bill on which the hearts of reformers were setc. But now came the question of the present government. All knew the noble manner in which they had held up the banner of the people through the late stormy session. Their political enemies had been taunting them and insulting them day after day, saying that here was a government which started with a clear majority of seventy, and had converted it into a minority of eleven. Well, so they had, and why had they done it? There was a majority of seventy pledged to support a liberal government, and who would have supported them if they had followed out Lord Palmerston’s policy of doing nothing, and glossing it off as an excellent joke.5 The government might have a seven years’ undisturbed lease of power if they had adopted a similar course—that is, if they had determined on doing nothing in the way of reform. But they had chosen to resign office, to receive baiting, taunts, and insults, directed against them all; but more particularly against Mr. Gladstone, the greatest parliamentary leader which the country had had in the present century, or, perhaps, since the time of the Stuartsd, by those who ought to have been in ecstacies of admiration at the way in which he outdid himself and at the beautiful feeling which animated his eloquence. Like Hotspur, he had been nettled and stung by pismires,6 that annoyance had been inflicted in the hope that either he might be led to give way to something like foolish irritability, or that those eloquent lips, which gave such happy expression to every feeling that became an honest and upright politician, might deny to themselves the utterance of honest indignationd. Whatever the speculation might have been, it had been defeated—the hopes of the opponents of the government had not been fulfilled. (Hear, hear.) eAs to dissolution, he, as member for Westminster, was the last who should speak to his constituents of a dissolution; because, perhaps, he was the only member of the House of Commons whose election had cost him nothing.e It would appear to him the most natural thing that Edition: current; Page: [90] his constituents might not like to incur this great expense twice in the same twelve months. (Yes, yes.) It was very natural that they should not wish it, and he should not have the face to ask it for himself. If they thought they could fight this battle more advantageously with any other candidate than himself—any candidate who would bear the expenses that must necessarily be incurred, or part of them—he trusted that no consideration for himself would induce them to refrain from taking that course. fSo far from thinking himself slighted, he would be the first to condemn them if they lost the seat on the chance of preserving it for him.f They had, above all things, to consider how they could carry this bill and support the government, and he most sincerely hoped that no other consideration would induce them to allow that object to be interfered with.

gAt the close of the honourable member’s speech the meeting with one accord declared that the electors would pay the expenses of his election 50 times, if necessary, and would esteem themselves honoured in having him as their representative. The resolution was then agreed to. In reply to a question from an elector, Mr. Mill said that Captain Grosvenor had not suffered in the estimation of his political friends by his vote in favour of Sir R. Knightley’s amendment for an instruction to the committee to add to the Reform Bill provisions against bribery and corruption.7 It was a question of tactics. He voted the other way; but, no doubt, Captain Grosvenor thought his vote was in favour of the best policy, and it had not shaken the confidence of the Liberal party in the honourable and gallant gentleman’s political honesty.g

[Another resolution in support of the Ministry was moved and accepted unanimously. The meeting concluded, as usual, with a vote of thanks to the chairman.]

24.: The Jamaica Committee
9 JULY, 1866

Daily News, 10 July, p. 3. Headed: “The Jamaica Committee.” Reported also in the Morning Star, The Times, and (in brief summary) in the Daily Telegraph. This special meeting of the Jamaica Committee was held in the evening in Radley’s Hotel, Bridge Street, with P.A. Taylor in the chair. The meeting was called because Charles Buxton had published a letter in The Times, 30 June, p. 12, and other papers resigning his chairmanship and strongly criticizing the Committee’s action. He believed that the Executive Committee had decided by a vote of 11 to 3 to prosecute the ex-Governor of Jamaica, Edward John Eyre Edition: current; Page: [91] (1815–1901), for the murder of George William Gordon 1818–65), a popular Jamaican leader. The meeting opened with a summary of events by Taylor, who condemned the way Buxton had proceeded, his view being that the general opinion at the earlier meeting, not confirmed by a vote, was that the Committee should press the Government to prosecute Eyre for murder, failing which they should give assistance to Gordon’s widow to carry on a prosecution. When Buxton defended himself, Bright countered in scathing terms. Ludlow moved “That this committee approves and confirms the resolutions passed by the executive committee on the 26th of June”; Goldwin Smith seconded. T.F. Buxton spoke in support of Charles Buxton’s actions, and after further speeches the resolution was passed with one dissenting vote. A motion by Beales that Mill be elected chairman was adopted unanimously. Then Mill spoke.

gentlemen, I think you for this honour and mark of your confidence. I accept the post you have given me. (Cheers.) I do so in the full conviction that the objects of this committee are simply to ascertain whether there exist in this country any means for making a British functionary responsible for blood unlawfully shed—(applause)—and whether that be murder or not. I believe it to be murder. (Hear, hear.) This committee ought not to rest until it obtains from the legislature the assurance that men like Mr. Eyre will be made responsible for their criminal actions. (Hear, hear.)

[Votes of thanks were passed to Messrs. Gorrie and Payne, solicitors, for their services in Jamaica, and to the chair, and the meeting separated.]

25.: Electoral Franchise for Women
17 JULY, 1866

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 184, cols. 996–8. Reported in The Times, 18 July, p. 8, from which the variant and responses are taken. Mill spoke in moving “for an Address for ‘Return of the number of Freeholders, Householders, and others in England and Wales who, fulfilling the conditions of property or rental prescribed by Law as the qualification for the Electoral Franchise, are excluded from the Franchise by reason of their sex.’ ”

sir, I rise to make the Motion of which I have given notice.1 After the petition which I had the honour of presenting a few weeks ago, the House would naturally expect that its attention would be called, however briefly, to the claim preferred in that document.2 The petition, and the circumstances attendant on its preparation, Edition: current; Page: [92] have, to say the least, greatly weakened the chief practical argument which we have been accustomed to hear against any proposal to admit women to the electoral franchise—namely, that few, if any, women desire it. Originating as that petition did entirely with ladies, without the instigation, and, to the best of my belief, without the participation of any person of the male sex in any stage of the proceedings, except the final one of its presentation to Parliament, the aamount of response which became manifest, the number of signatures obtained in a very short space of time, not to mention the quality of many of those signatures, may not have been surprising to the ladies who promoted the petition, but was certainly quite unexpected by mea. I recognize in it the accustomed sign that the time has arrived when a proposal of a public nature is ripe for being taken into serious consideration—namely, when a word spoken on the subject is found to have been the expression of a silent wish pervading a great number of minds, and a signal given in the hope of rallying a few supporters is unexpectedly answered by many. It is not necessary to offer any justification for the particular Motion which I am about to make. (Hear, hear.) When the complaint is made that certain citizens of this nation, fulfilling all the conditions and giving all the guarantees which the Constitution and the law require from those who are admitted to a voice in determining who shall be their rulers, are excluded from that privilege for what appears to them, and for what appears to me, an entirely irrelevant consideration, the least we can do is to ascertain what number of persons are affected by the grievance, and how great an addition would be made to the constituency if this disability were removed. I should not have attempted more than this in the present Session, even if the recent discussions in reference to Reform had not been brought to an abrupt close. Even if the late Government had succeeded in its honourable attempt to effect an amicable compromise of the Reform question; any understanding or any wish which might have existed as to the finality, for a certain period, of that compromise, could not have effected such a proposal as this, the adoption of which would not be, in any sense of the term, a lowering of the franchise, and is not intended to disturb in any degree the distribution of political power among the different classes of society. Indeed, honourable Gentlemen opposite seem to think, and I suppose they are the best judges, that this concession, assuming it to be made, if it had any effect on party politics at all, would be favourable to their side (hear); and the right honourable Member for Dublin University, in his humorous manner, advised me on that ground to withdraw this article from my political programme;3 but I cannot, either in jest or in earnest, adopt his suggestion, for I am bound to consider the permanent benefit of the community before the temporary interest of a party; and I entertain the firmest Edition: current; Page: [93] conviction that whatever holds out an inducement to one-half of the community to exercise their minds on the great social and political questions which are discussed in Parliament, and whatever causes the great influence they already possess to be exerted under the guidance of greater knowledge, and under a sense of responsibility, cannot be ultimately advantageous to the Conservative or any other cause, except so far as that cause is a good one. And I rejoice in the knowledge that in the estimation of many honourable Gentlemen of the party opposite, the proposal made in the petition is, like many of the most valuable Reforms, as truly Conservative, as I am sure it is truly Liberal. I listened with pleasure and gratitude to the right honourable Gentleman who is now Chancellor of the Exchequer, when in his speech on the second reading of the Reform Bill,4 he said he saw no reason why women of independent means should not possess the electoral franchise, in a country where they can preside in manorial courts and fill parish offices—to which let me add, and the Throne. (Hear, hear.)

[Spencer Walpole said he would consent to the motion, without pledging himself to any future action, and the motion was agreed to.]

26.: The Disturbances in Jamaica [1]
19 JULY, 1866

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 184, cols. 1064–6. Reported in The Times, 20 July, p. 5.

mr. j. stuart mill said, wishing to spare the House the monotonously painful details contained in the Questions of which he had given notice, he would simply ask the right honourable Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer,1 Whether any steps had been or would be taken by Her Majesty’s Government for bringing to justice those who had been concerned in the commission of various illegal acts in Jamaica?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer:

I should prefer, Sir, that the honourable Gentleman should ask the Questions in detail. I think the Questions which the honourable Gentleman has thought proper in his discretion to address to the Executive should be well known to the House, as many honourable Members have not really had an opportunity of making themselves acquainted with them. Under these circumstances, it is due to the House and to the subject that the honourable Edition: current; Page: [94] Gentleman should address himself now to the House, and let them hear what the Questions are. (Hear, hear.)

Mr. J. Stuart Mill:

Does the right honourable Gentleman desire me to read the whole?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer:

The whole.

Mr. J. Stuart Mill:

I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether any steps have been or will be taken to bring to trial Lieutenant Adcock,2 for unlawfully putting to death two men named Mitchell and Hill without trial, and six persons, after alleged trial by Court Martial, on charges not cognizable by a Military Court; for flogging, without trial, John Anderson and others, and authorizing one Henry Ford to flog many men and women without trial, one of whom, named John Mullins, died in consequence: Whether any steps have been or will be taken to bring to trial Captain Hole for hanging one Donaldson without trial; for shooting, and permitting to be shot, various persons without trial; for putting to death by hanging, or shooting, thirty-three persons, after trial by a so-called Military Court, for acts not cognizable by a Military Court, and without observance of the rules prescribed by the Articles of War; for flogging various men and women without trial; and for being accessory, after the fact, to the unlawful putting to death of numerous persons by soldiers under his command: Whether any steps have been or will be taken to bring to trial Lieutenant Oxley, for putting John Burdy to death after a similar unlawful trial, and for permitting the men under his command to fire at unarmed peasants and cause the death of several persons: Whether any steps have been or will be taken to bring to trial Ensign Cullen and Dr. Morris, for putting three men3 to death without trial, and Dr. Morris for shooting one William Gray: Whether any steps have been or will be taken to bring to trial Stipendiary Magistrate Fyfe, for burning houses of peasantry, putting to death one person without trial,4 and being accessory to the unlawful putting to death of various others: Whether any steps have been or will be taken to bring to trial Attorney General Heslop, Lieutenant Brand, Captain Luke, and Captain Field, for sitting as presidents or members of alleged Courts Martial, by whom numerous persons were unlawfully put to death: Whether any steps have been or will be taken to bring to trial General O’Connor, for having been accessory before and after the fact to numerous unlawful executions, some of them without trial, and others after the illegal trials already specified: Whether any steps have been or will be taken to bring to trial Colonel Nelson, Brigadier General in Jamaica, for unlawfully causing to be tried, in time of peace, by Military Courts irregularly composed, for acts alleged to have been done before the proclamation or beyond the jurisdiction Edition: current; Page: [95] of Martial Law, and after such trial to be unlawfully put to death, the following persons:—George William Gordon, Edward Fleming, Samuel Clarke, William Grant, George Macintosh, Henry Lawrence, Letitia Geoghan, and six other women, one of them in a state of pregnancy;5 Scipio Cowell, Alexander Taylor, Toby Butler, Jasper Hall Livingston, and various other persons who had been previously flogged, and about 180 other alleged rebels; and for authorizing the flogging without trial of Alexander Phillips, Richard Clark, and numerous others: Whether any legal proceedings have been or will be ordered to be taken against Mr. Edward John Eyre, lately Governor of Jamaica, for complicity in all or any of the above acts, and particularly for the illegal trial and execution of Mr. George William Gordon: And, if not, whether Her Majesty’s Government are advised that these acts are not offences under the Criminal Law?

[In response, after expressing his annoyance at the way in which Mill had embodied opinions in his questions, thus “trespassing in some degree upon the liberty and freedom of expression” of the House, Disraeli pointed out that the first nine questions assumed that illegal actions had been taken by individuals, while the tenth asked if the Government was of opinion that the actions were illegal. Not only were the questions put in a form that could lead to great inconvenience, but in substance they were inaccurate. First, Mill ignored the fact that martial law was in force in Jamaica, and so ordinary law was superseded. Second, he ignored the fact that the cases against Cullen and Morris were not proved on the evidence presented, and that further inquiries were being made. Similarly, the statements Mill made against Nelson were not founded on fact. Disraeli then went on to state what had happened: the former Government had—properly in his view—set up a Commission of eminent men whose inquiry led them to recommend the removal of Eyre, and had acted on the Commission’s recommendation. The Commission also recommended that the conduct of subordinate officers should be investigated by the Admiralty and the Horse Guards; the former had decided no fresh inquiry was needed, and the latter was still considering the matter. In the circumstances, Mill was quite wrong to be impatient and press for actions that would, if necessary, be taken at the appropriate time. “This being the state of the case,” Disraeli concluded, “I am not prepared to offer any further information to the honourable Gentleman.”]

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27.: The Reform Meeting in Hyde Park [1]
19 JULY, 1866

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 184, col. 1075. Reported in The Times, 20 July, p. 3, from which the variant is taken. P.A. Taylor first asked the Home Secretary, Spencer Walpole (1806–98), then M.P. for Cambridge University, by whose authority, and under what law, the Police Commissioner, Richard Mayne, had issued an order forbidding a public meeting in Hyde Park. Walpole replied that he had himself instructed Mayne, on the grounds that a meeting in a Royal Park would interfere with the recreation of quiet and orderly people. Mill then put his question.

i wish, sir, to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether we are to understand that the prohibition which he authorized to be issued as to the contemplated public meeting is based only on the circumstance that the meeting was announced to be held in one of the parks? If so—a(Cries of Order, order, which prevented the honourable member from proceeding.)a

Mr. Walpole: I may perhaps be permitted to say that the notice which has been issued is grounded on the circumstance that the meeting was to have been held in Hyde Park; and I may venture to add, as this Question has been put to me, that I hope the notice which I have caused to be issued will not be interpreted as being intended in the least degree to prevent the holding of ordinary public meetings for political discussion, but simply for the preservation of the public peace.

28.: W.E. Gladstone [1]
21 JULY, 1866

Daily Telegraph, 23 July, 1866, p. 2. Headed: “The Cobden Club.” Reported fully in The Times, the Morning Post, and (in shorter form) the Daily News. (A clipping of the last is in the Mill-Taylor Collection.) The report in the Daily Telegraph gives the background to the formation of the Club, mentions its advanced liberalism, and gives a list of the eighty-five members from the Commons, including Mill. The occasion was the inaugural dinner of the Cobden Club, on Saturday evening, at the Star and Garter Hotel, Richmond. A meeting of the Club was held before the dinner, at which fifteen members, including Mill, were appointed as a governing committee. Gladstone presided at the dinner, Mill being one of the vice-chairs. Just before the speeches began, several ladies took seats in a small gallery placed at the side of the room. After the traditional toasts to the Queen and other members of the Royal Family, Gladstone gave the toast of the evening, “To the Revered Memory of Mr. Cobden,” in a long speech. The toast was drunk in silence, and then Goldwin Smith, “in a very animated” (but unreported) speech, gave the “Health of Lord Russell,” to which Edition: current; Page: [97] Russell replied at length; Russell next proposed the health of Mrs. Cobden. Mill, “who met with the most cordial reception,” then spoke.

there is one part of the business of the evening which still remains to be performed; and though I am sensible of my incompetency to do it justice, I cannot but feel some pride in its having been entrusted to me. It is that of tendering our grateful acknowledgments to the distinguished statesman who has done this club the honour of presiding at its inauguratory meeting. (Loud cheers.) The nature of this commemoration, which is not of a party, nor even, in the narrower sense of the term, of a political character, adisclosesa to us on this occasion many of the most important topics which are connected in all our minds with Mr. Gladstone’s name. (Hear, hear.) One thing, however, not only may but ought to be said on such an occasion as the present; that to him of all men belonged the post of honour in a celebration of the great apostle of commercial freedom, being, as he is, the one survivor of the three eminent men by whom, as Ministers, that cause has been most effectually served. (Cheers.) If Mr. Huskisson opened the long and arduous campaign; if Sir Robert Peel achieved its most signal and most decisive victory,1 Mr. Gladstone will be for ever remembered as he who completed the conquest, and who not only made freedom of trade and industry the universal rule of the institutions of our country, but by the brilliant success of his application of it is fast converting the whole of Europe to its principles. (Cheers.) There is another thing which this is, perhaps, a suitable opportunity for saying. Veneration for the memory of Mr. Cobden is not confined to any section of the Liberal party, nor even to the Liberal party itself. (Hear, hear.) But it has so happened, owing principally to the cast of Mr. Cobden’s own political opinions, that an unusual proportion of the original members of this club is composed of gentlemen who would be classed, and who would class themselves, as what are called advanced Liberals. (Cheers.) As being one of these, I may say for myself, and I believe they would all join with me in saying, that we claim our fair share, and no more than our fair share, in the great leader of the Liberal party. (Cheers.) It is one of the differences between a party of Progress and any Conservative party, that its political sympathies are not restricted to those who conform, or who pretend to conform, to those of a distinctive creed. We have not bound ourselves by any narrow articles of orthodoxy—ours is a broad church. (A laugh.) The bond which holds us together is not a political confession of faith, but a common allegiance to the spirit of improvement, which is a greater thing than the particular opinions of any politician or set of politicians. And if there ever was a statesman in whom the spirit of Edition: current; Page: [98] improvement was incarnate—of whose career as a Minister the characteristic feature has been to seek out things which required or admitted of improvement, instead of waiting to be compelled or even to be solicited to it—that honour belongs to bthe late Chancellor of the Exchequer and leader of the House of Commonsb. (Cheers.) I might stop here; but, fresh as most of us are from listening to that magnificent speech which went forth last night2 to the furthest extremity of Europe as the utterance, in the noblest language, of what is felt and thought by all the best part of the British nation—(loud cheers)—for sympathy with freedom and national independence is not exclusively confined to any section, or even to any party, among us—I should not do justice to the feelings of those present were I to sit down without giving expression to the pride, and more than pride, to the hopefulness with which we are filled when we see the author of that speech standing at the head of the Liberal party to lead it to victory. (Cheers.) That speech was not only a splendid specimen of oratory, it was also a good action; for it will ccheerc those who are struggling and suffering in the cause of freedom and progress; while its value is inestimable in raising—when I remember certain speeches, I might almost say in redeeming—the character of England. I propose “The health of the Right Honourable William Gladstone.” (Loud cheers.)

[Gladstone in reply] expressed his sincerest thanks to Mr. Mill for the kind way in which he had given the toast, and to the company for the reception they had been pleased to pay it. He was the more grateful to Mr. Mill because he could not forget that he was one of the most distinguished and powerful critics of the day, and, at the same time, possessed the most generous feelings of the heart. (Hear, hear.) [He also expressed thanks to Russell and to colleagues in the House for their support. The dinner concluded about eleven o’clock.]

29.: The Reform Meeting in Hyde Park [2]
24 JULY, 1866

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 184, cols. 1410–12. Reported in The Times, 25 July, p. 7, from which the variants and responses are taken. The debate was initiated by a question from Bernal Osborne (cols. 1385–6) to the Home Secretary about the instructions given to Mayne (see No. 27). Ayrton rushed in with other questions in a long speech, in which, after asking what steps Walpole had taken “for disabusing the minds of the people of the erroneous impression that they have a right to use the park for their own purposes” and for preserving the peace of the metropolis, he moved adjournment. Mill joined the ensuing debate.

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sir, I have no intention of taking up much of the time of the House, but this is no ordinary occasion, and it seems to me that noble Lords and honourable Gentlemen opposite are by no means aware of the extreme seriousness of it, and of the serious consequences to which it may lead aif some steps be not taken, of which at present there appears no promisea. (Hear.) I am not going to enter into the question of the right of the people to meet in Hyde Park. We know that Her Majesty’s Government have the opinion of eminent lawyers to the contrary.1 We know that they believe they have the right to exclude the people. But lawyers are not unanimous on the subject; there are other distinguished lawyers, who, on legal and high constitutional grounds, have contended that the people have a right to meet there. But I do not desire to lay any stress on this circumstance. I maintain that if the people have not that right now, they ought to have it. (Hear.) I maintain further, that if, for reasons unintelligible to me, it was thought necessary for the maintenance of any supposed or nominal right that the people should ask permission to hold a meeting there, that permission ought to have been granted. (Hear.) And it ought ten thousand times more to have been granted to them under such circumstances as these, when they believed, erroneously or not, that they had the right; for surely this circumstance, when the people were already in an excited state of mind on another subject, ought to have warned right honourable Gentlemen opposite that the consequences would be such as have actually occurred, and which I believe the people deplore equally with himself. But I maintain that the public ought to have the use of the Park for this purpose, for if not, what other place is there that can suit them? In what other place can they meet where there would be less interruption to recreation? Is there likely to be less interruption to traffic, or to other pursuits or persons, in Trafalgar Square than in Hyde Park? Does a public meeting, if it were held once ba month—in the evening, too—b cause a thousandth part of the interruption that an ordinary review or meeting of Volunteers in the Park does? If such reasons as these are to exclude the public from meeting in the Parks, which assuredly must be held to belong to the public, for they have been ceded by the Crown to the public for a consideration—like other Crown lands—if these reasons are to prevail to exclude the people, there is no place for which equally strong reasons might not be given for their exclusion. Perhaps this is what honourable Gentlemen opposite wish. I give full credit, indeed, to the assurance which the Home Secretary has given us, that he has no desire to prevent political meetings.2 I believe in the perfect sincerity of what he said; but I cannot say that it has altogether reassured me. He said he had no objection to open air meetings at proper hours and in the proper places; but he did not tell us what the proper times or the proper places were in his opinion, and Edition: current; Page: [100] the newspaper scribes of the Government are already declaring that no open air meeting ought to be tolerated in the metropolis.3 I advise them to try that. I promise them that they will have to encounter an opposition of a very different kind, and from different persons, to any they have yet encountered. (Hear, hear, from the Ministerial side of the House.) Noble Lords and right honourable Gentlemen opposite may be congratulated on having done a job of work last night which will require wiser men than they are, many years to efface the consequences of. (Hear, hear.) It has been the anxious wish of all those who understand their age, and are lovers of their country, that the necessary changes in the institutions of the country should be effected with the least possible, and if possible without any, alienation and ill blood between the hitherto governing classes and the mass of the people. Her Majesty’s present advisers seem resolved, so far as it depends upon them, that this anxious desire should be frustrated. (Cries of Oh, oh, and Hear, hear.) We know that there is a kind of people who can do more mischief in an hour than can be repaired in a lifetime. (Ministerial cheers.) I am afraid that the Members of the present Government are animated by the noble ambition of inscribing their names on the illustrious list of those cpersonsc. (Hear.)

[The debate was ended by the withdrawal of Osborne’s question (col. 1416).]

30.: The Value of Land
25 JULY, 1866

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 184, col. 1482. Reported in The Times, 26 July, p. 6. Mill’s intervention came during the second reading of the Tenure and Improvement of Land Bill (see No. 21), after Frederick William Heygate (1822–94), M.P. for Londonderry, had said that Mill had (in No. 21) made an error when comparing rents in England and Ireland without taking the larger Irish acre into account. Mill, however, made no such error, nor, apparently, did anyone else in the debate.

mr. j. stuart mill explained, that he had made no comparison of the value of land per acre in England and Ireland. Either, therefore, he must have ill expressed himself, or the honourable Baronet must have attributed to him remarks made by some other Member.

[The Bill was withdrawn after a few more speeches.]

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31.: The Reform Meeting in Hyde Park [3]
26 JULY, 1866

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 184, cols. 1540–1. Reported in The Times, 27 July, p. 2. from which the variants and responses are taken. In his Autobiography Mill puts great weight on his intervention in this affair: “At this crisis I really believe that I was the means of preventing much mischief. . . . I was invited, with several other Radical members, to a conference with the leading members of the Council of the Reform League; and the task fell chiefly upon myself of persuading them to give up the Hyde Park project, and hold their meeting elsewhere. It was not Mr. Beales and Colonel Dickson who needed persuading; on the contrary, it was evident that those gentlemen had already exerted their influence in the same direction, thus far without success. It was the working men who held out: and so bent were they on their original scheme that I was obliged to have recourse to les grands moyens. I told them that a proceeding which would certainly produce a collision with the military, could only be justifiable on two conditions: if the position of affairs had become such that a revolution was desirable, and if they thought themselves able to accomplish one. To this argument after considerable discussion they at last yielded: and I was able to inform Mr. Walpole that their intention was given up. I shall never forget the depth of his relief or the warmth of his expressions of gratitude. . . . I have entered thus particularly into this matter because my conduct on this occasion gave great displeasure to the Tory and Tory-Liberal press, who have charged me ever since with having shewn myself, in the trials of public life, intemperate and passionate. I do not know what they expected from me; but they had reason to be thankful to me if they knew from what I had in all probability preserved them. And I do not believe it could have been done, at that particular juncture, by any one else. No other person, I believe, had at that moment the necessary influence for restraining the working classes, except Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Bright, neither of whom was available: Mr. Gladstone, for obvious reasons; Mr. Bright, because he was out of town.” (CW, Vol. I, pp. 278–9.) Bernal Osborne having put questions to the Home Secretary concerning his discussions on 25 July about the Reform League’s plan to hold a meeting in Hyde Park on the following Monday, Walpole replied that the situation had been much exacerbated by the League’s action in announcing that the Government had given permission, when in fact no permission for a meeting in Hyde Park had been or would be given until legal opinion had been received. A meeting could be held on Primrose Hill if the League wished. Mill spoke immediately after Walpole.

sir, I rise to make a statementa, with the indulgence of the House,a which I believe will give satisfaction to the whole House. I have just had an interview with Mr. Beales1 and several leading members of the League, including all those who were present at the second interview to which the right honourable Gentleman has referred.2 I have full authority from them to say this, that so far as they are concerned there is no intention of renewing the attempt to meet in the Park. There Edition: current; Page: [102] has been no council of the League held, and they are not, therefore, in a position to speak for the League. (Laughter.) That ribald laugh might well have been spared. Do honourable Members suppose that Reformers do not mean what they say? I tell them that they do. What I have to say is that these gentlemen regret exceedingly that a misunderstanding should have occurred with regard to the communication made to them by the right honourable Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department. They are perfectly certain that the misunderstanding is in no way imputable to him. The interview left on them the most favourable impression of his feelings, disposition, and character, and there is nothing which they would more regret than to say anything which bcould in the slightest degree reflect onb him. (Hear, hear.) That being the case, it is unnecessary to enter into the circumstances, though I might state something that might, perhaps, account for this misunderstanding. But the misunderstanding having taken place, the same motives which induced them to exert themselves last night so as to prevent what they believed would have otherwise resulted in bloodshed, preclude them from taking any advantage of, or in any way acting on, what is now shown to have been a misconception. Whether they will accept the offer of Primrose Hill, or consider that on this occasion it is better to abstain from meeting altogether, I am not authorized to state, and probably they do not consider themselves authorized to decide on that offer without consulting the council of the League. But, so far as their influence goes, nothing will be done that can possibly afford cause for any further cdisturbancec. (Hear, hear.)

32.: The Reform Meeting in Hyde Park [4]
30 JULY, 1866

Daily News, 31 July, 1866, p. 3. Headed: “The Reform League Demonstration in the Agriculture-Hall.” Reported also in The Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Morning Star, and the Morning Post (in The Times and the Morning Post Mill’s speech is given in the third person, in the latter case in brief summary) (A clipping of the Daily News version is in the Mill-Taylor Collection.) The meeting, held in the Agriculture Hall in Islington at 8 p.m., was chaired by Edmond Beales. Placards had announced that several Members of Parliament would be present, including Mill (who, the Morning Post says, “did not seem in good health”). In his Autobiography, following his account of his role in the discussions between Walpole and the leaders of the Reform League (see No. 31), Mill says: “After the working men had conceded so much to me, I felt bound to comply with their request that I would attend and speak at their meeting at the Agricultural Hall: the only meeting called by the Reform League which I ever attended.” (He dissented from the League’s proposals for Edition: current; Page: [103] manhood suffrage and the ballot.) (CW, Vol. I, p. 278.) The enormous building, in which it was very difficult to hear speeches under ideal conditions, was occupied by thousands of working men, and some women. While admission to the body of the hall was free, entrance to the galleries cost 1s., while a few reserved seats on and adjacent to the platform were priced at 10s. The turbulent and noisy crowd, stimulated by songs (the “Marseillaise” being particularly popular), made it virtually impossible for any of the speakers to be heard; the reporters’ table, originally protected by the reserved seats, was eventually exposed to the surges of the crowd, making even less reliable the reports of the speeches. When the platform party arrived, Beales was unable to act in the normal fashion, and had to mount a table to make his opening remarks, which could be heard only after fifteen minutes. His truncated speech was followed by the reading of a resolution: “That the present Government, by assisting to defeat the Bill introduced by the late Government for the amendment of the representation, and by themselves indefinitely postponing the whole question of Reform, and finally by their employing the police to forcibly prevent the working classes from peaceably meeting in Hyde Park on Monday last to complain of the suffrage being withheld from them, have forfeited all claim to the confidence and support of the country.” The resolution was seconded, and then Mill rose. “The friends of the honourable member upon the platform were loud in their manifestations of applause when he rose to speak, but those in the body of the hall, even within tolerable hearing distance, were evidently unacquainted with the personal appearance of the honourable member for Westminster, for one of their number, under the full conviction that he had gained an insight into what was coming, led an encouraging cry of ‘Bravo, Mills!’ The chairman pressed the honourable member to address the meeting, like the other speakers, from the table; but the offer was politely declined. Mr. Mill doubtless felt it to be questionable whether in the universal clamour any advantage of position would enable him to make his utterances audible; certain it is that beyond the reporters’ table, and not even to all who were there collected, did his meaning penetrate.” (The Times.) Mill, “who seemed deeply impressed by the spectacle of the teeming and swaying multitude before him,” spoke (according to the Morning Post) “in so low a tone that scarcely a word could be gathered.”

ladies and gentlemen, this avast meetinga is a sufficient guarantee that the cause of reform will suffer nothing by your having determined to hold your meeting here instead of repeating the attempt to hold it in the park. (Cheers.) But I do not want b(so the honourable member was understood)b to talk to you about reform, you do not need to be stimulated by me on that subject. This meeting is a sufficient reply to any one who supposes that you do cwant to be stimulated. (Cheers.) You want to discuss reform.c You have been very much attacked for holding such large meetings, on the ground that they are inconsistent with discussion. (Loud laughter and cheers.) But discussion is not the only use of public meetings. One of the objects of such gatherings is demonstration. d(At this point the address was interrupted for some minutes by a violent lurch of the main Edition: current; Page: [104] body below in the direction of the platform, which seemed in danger of being carried by storm. An appeal from some of the principal members of the League restored order, but not till two or three gentlemen had been propelled bodily to within a few feet of where Mr. Mill was standing.) The honourable member proceeded:deYou want to make a display of your strength, and I tell you that the countries where the people are allowed to show their strength are those in which they are not obliged to use it.e As regards the parks, your chairman, who is a lawyer, does not doubt your right to meet in them. I am not a lawyer, and know nothing about the matter. But you thought it right to assert your claim, and only to withdraw under protest. Your protest has been made, and you have—I think wisely—determined not to renew it. (Interruptions.) You have been promised a fair opportunity of having the question settled by judicial decision, and you have wisely resolved that until that decision is given the question shall remain where it is. f(The soundness of this advice was unquestionable, but just at that moment the crowd manifested a disposition to do anything but remain where they were, for a further and more violent surging in the direction of the platform took place.)f gThe government, without abandoning what they thought were their legal rights, might have permitted the park for one meetingg when permission was asked, and I think it would have been a wise policy and a gracious act to have granted it—(tremendous cheers)—but it was refusedh, and the consequence was—(The meeting was not destined to hear more, for a fresh invasion of the platform took place, and the aspect of affairs at the moment was so threatening that although there were cries of “I will defend you, Mr. Mill,” “Our friends will be steady again in a minute,” “This is a meeting of men and not of children,” etc., the honourable member felt it hopeless to persist in his address and retired at once from the hall.)h

[After an interval to allow order to be established, the resolution was passed, and Bradlaugh moved a second one, calling for a petition to the House of Commons to establish a committee of inquiry into the conduct of Sir Richard Edition: current; Page: [105] Mayne and the police under his command in preventing the meeting in Hyde Park on 23 July and during the next two days. In the course of his remarks he said “Mr. John Stuart Mill has just enunciated a proposition in which I cordially concur. He said if you have not a legal right to meet in the parks you ought to have it. (Loud cheers.)” The resolution was seconded, and passed after another interruption by newly-arrived marchers. Then Colonel Dickson moved a third resolution calling for financial contributions to the Reform League, which after seconding was also passed, and the meeting concluded at 9:30 with the usual vote of thanks to the Chair and three cheers for Bright, Gladstone, and Beales, and then three “For all who strive to preserve the right dearest to England—the right of public meeting.” Sectional meetings were held in different parts of the hall. Then the main part of the spectators (“sightseers,” The Times says, for “auditors they could not be called”) formed again into processions behind their bands, being joined by the huge crowd outside the hall, and did not finally clear the area until 11 p.m.]

33.: The Disturbances in Jamaica [2]
31 JULY, 1866

“Mr. Mill’s Speech on Mr. Buxton’s Motion,” in Jamaica Papers, No. III. Statement of the Committee and Other Documents (London: Jamaica Committee, [1866]), 7–18. A manuscript fragment (Yale University Library, John Stuart Mill Papers, Box 2, MS #350) is printed in full in variant note u-u. In PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 184, cols. 1797–1806. Published in The Times, 1 August, p. 7, from which variants and responses are taken. Charles Buxton (1823–71), M.P. for East Surrey, moved the following Resolutions: “1. That this House deplores the excessive punishments which followed the suppression of the disturbances of October last in the parish of St. Thomas, Jamaica, and especially the unnecessary frequency with which the punishment of death was inflicted. / 2. That this House, while approving the course taken by Her Majesty’s Government in dismissing Mr. Eyre from the Governorship of the Island, at the same time concurs in the view expressed by the late Secretary of the Colonies, that ‘while any very minute endeavour to punish acts which may now be the subject of regret would not be expedient, still, that great offences ought to be punished;’ and that grave excesses of severity on the part of any Civil, Military, or Naval Officers ought not to be passed over with impunity. / 3. That, in the opinion of this House, it is the duty of Her Majesty’s Government to award compensation to those whose property was wantonly and cruelly destroyed, and to the families of those who were put to death illegally. / 4. That, since considerably more than 1,000 persons are proved to have been executed or severely flogged on the charge of participating in these disturbances, all further punishment on account of them ought to be remitted.” (Col. 1763.) When Buxton had finished his speech, Adderley replied, and then Mill spoke.

those who seek to obtain an authoritative condemnation of the transactions in Jamaica, whether they take the milder view of my honourable friend the mover of the resolutions, or the severer one of the body which has been so disrespectfully Edition: current; Page: [106] spoken of, the Jamaica committee, could have desired nothing better for their cause than that the speech which has just been delivered* ashould go forth to the country as the defence of the Government for not taking any measures to bring those events under the cognisance of a judicial tribunal. I would myself be well content to go to the country on my honourable friend’s speech, and that of the right honourable gentleman, without any further discussion. (Hear, hear.) But since nothing has byetb been said in vindication of the view I take as to the proper course to be pursued, which is different from that recommended by my honourable friend, cI shall state to the house what to my mind justifies that coursec. The honourable mover of the resolution has called upon the house to consider the proceedings of the civil and military authorities in Jamaica, which have been so deservedly but so mildly condemned by her Majesty’s commissioners of inquiry,1 and has invited the house to express an opinion on those proceedings, to the same effect and nearly in the same language as the commissioners. I, also, contend that the acts which have been committed demand the particular attention of the house, not however for the purpose of itself pronouncing any judgment on them, but for the purpose of requiring that they be referred to an authority more competent than this house—the only authority that is competent to pass a binding judgment on such acts—the authority of a judicial tribunal. (Hear, hear.) According to the catalogue furnished by the commissioners, 439 of her Majesty’s subjects, men and women, have been put to death, not in the field, not in armed resistance to the Government, but unarmed, after having fallen into the hands of the authorities, many after having voluntarily surrendered to them. (Hear, hear.) dA partd were executed without any semblance of a trial; the remainder after what were called trials, by what were called courts-martial.2 eBesidese those who were put to death, not fewer than 600 men and women were flogged, partly without trial, and partly by sentence of the same courts-martial; and about 1,000 houses, besides other property, were destroyed by military violence. Now, if after due investigation the Government and the country generally had made up their minds that all these lives were justly and properly taken, and all these floggings and burnings justly and properly inflicted, there would have been no ground on which to require the Government to prosecute the agents and authors, though private individuals would be at liberty to Edition: current; Page: [107] do so if they pleased. The case, however, is far otherwise. Respecting the degree of culpability of these transactions there is a wide difference of opinion, but that there has been serious culpability no one now disputes. (Hear, hear.) The events have undergone a minute inquiry, by commissioners carefully selected, and invested with full power to ascertain the facts, but not, I must remind the right honourable gentleman, empowered to declare what is the character of those facts in the eye of the law. The commissioners have emphatically condemned a large portion of the proceedings.3 They declare that many more persons have been put to death than ought to have been put to death; some of these on evidence which they declare to have been, so far as it appears on record, wholly insufficient to justify the findings: while in other cases, assuming the evidence to be unimpeachable, the sentences were not justified by the facts deposed to. The floggings they pronounce to have been reckless, and some of them positively barbarous; the flogging of women they reprobate under any circumstances, and in that I am sure the house will not differ from them. The burnings they pronounce wanton and cruel. There is no need to go one step beyond the verdict of the commissioners. I am almost ashamed to speak of such acts with the calmness and in the moderate language which the circumstances require. The house has supped full of horrors throughout the speech of my honourable friend. But we need not go beyond the dry facts of the commissioners’ summary. On their showing, the lives of subjects of her Majesty have been wrongfully taken, and the persons of others wrongfully maltreated; and I maintain that when such things have been done, there is a primâ facie demand for legal punishment, and that a court of criminal justice can alone determine whether such punishment has been merited, and if merited, what ought to be its amount. The taking of human lives without justification, which in this case is an admitted fact, cannot be condoned by anything short of a criminal tribunal. Neither the Government, nor this house, nor the whole English nation combined, can exercise a pardoning power without previous trial and sentence. I know not for what more important purpose courts of law exist than for the security of human life. fIt has been the boast off this country gthat officers of Government must answer for their acts to the same laws and before the same tribunals as any private citizen; and if persons in authority cang take the lives of htheir fellowh subjects improperly, ias has been confessedly done in this case,i without being called to a judicial account, and having the excuses they make for it sifted and adjudicated by the tribunal in that case provided, we are giving up altogether the principle of government by law, Edition: current; Page: [108] and resigning ourselves to arbitrary power. (Hear, hear.) jThe most proper course, therefore, which could in my opinion be taken by any memberj of this house, was to attempt to elicit from her Majesty’s Government, before the end of the session, some statement of their intentions respecting what, to me and others, appears the solemn duty of bringing the authors of at least the most flagrant of these universally condemned acts before a criminal tribunal. The house knows that this attempt was made,4 and it knows what was the result. We obtained by it no direct, but a good deal of indirect, information. Since then I have redoubled my efforts to learn, or to divine, what reasons there are against the propriety of a criminal prosecution: and I have arrived at the conclusion that if those I have heard are the best, there will not be much difficulty in resisting any of them. I have been told, for instance (but by whom or on what occasion the rules of the house forbid me to recollect), that to warrant a criminal prosecution for homicide, it is necessary that the act should have been done with malice prepense.5 But the right honourable the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot make such a mistake as this; for if not a lawyer himself, he has able lawyers for his advisers, and one need not be a lawyer at all to know that there is such an offence as manslaughter k(for example)k which I have hitherto in my ignorance believed to differ from murder precisely by the absence of malice prepense. The wonder which I felt at this singular specimen of legal knowledge would have been still greater than it was, if I had not just before been told by a very eminent person (but it could not be the right honourable gentleman) that I was grossly inconsistent in assuming through nine questions that certain acts were unlawful, and asking in the tenth whether they were unlawful or not?6 Now, since what I asked was, whether they were offences under the criminal law, I must conclude that, in the opinion of this eminent person, no actions are unlawful but those which are offences under the criminal law. Did he ever hear, I wonder, of such a thing as an action for damages? which everybody knows will lie in many cases in which a criminal proceeding could not be sustained. And, again, is he not aware of cases in which the law imposes pecuniary penalties, but leaves them to be enforced by anybody who chooses to sue for them by a civil action? lSince it Edition: current; Page: [109] appears to be the opinion of this high authority that acts which cannot be prosecuted criminally are not unlawful, I presume he thinks that the courts give damages, and the law imposesl penalties, for lawful acts. (Hear, hear.) mI hope the right honourable gentleman will tell us this evening that he disclaims all participation inm these peculiar views. I am nwilling to defer to himn as an authority on omanyo subjects, but I shall be quite unable to accept his guidance in any matter of criminal law (hear), unless he entirely throws over that other great luminary to whom I have been referring. Then, again, it is asked, how can we think of prosecuting anybody for putting people to death, when we cannot possibly suppose that those who did it believed them to be innocent? Well, very probably they did not, though even this is by no means a thing which it is permissible to take for granted. But admitting the fact, it is an excuse that may be made for actions of still greater atrocity than I claim any right to attribute to these. Did the perpetrators of the massacre of St. Bartholomew think their victims innocent?7 pDidp they not firmly believe them to be hateful to God and to all good men? qDidq the authors of the September massacres—did the French revolutionary tribunals and the Terrorist Government, believe in the innocence of those whom they put to death?8 Were they not fully persuaded that they were traitors and enemies of their country? I do not want to compare Governor Eyre and his subordinates to Robespierre and Fouquier Tinville, though I confess that their modes of proceeding sometimes remind me very forcibly of some of the minor actors in that great tragedy: but the same sort of excuse may be made for Robespierre and Fouquier Tinville as for them. I dare say that if gentlemen on the other side of the house, and I am afraid some on this side, had had the duty of sitting in judgment on those very vigorous rulers, they would have thought it quite enough to visit them with the penalty with which, for example, Governor Darling has been visited for following his constitutional advisers in an erroneous interpretation of the constitution of Victoria.9 We should perhaps have been told that the case as respects Robespierre was closed by dismissal from his office as a member of the Committee of Public Edition: current; Page: [110] Safety. As for Fouquier Tinville, it probably would not have been thought advisable, after so many errors of judgment, to re-appoint him to the responsible situation of public prosecutor. We might have been told, in words with which the house is probably familiar, that it would be desirable “to entrust that arduous task to some other person, who may approach it free from all the difficulties inseparable from a participation in the questions raised by the recent troubles,” and that by placing the office “in new hands,” Government were “taking the course best calculated to allay animosities, to conciliate general confidence, and to establish on firm and solid grounds the future welfare of” France.10 Again, we are told that in proposing to make the authors of those acts criminally responsible for them, we forget that those acts were done under martial law. Sir, we are not at all likely to forget that (hear, hear); we remember it but too well: and we shall remember as long, what it has been declared by the leading member of the Government that martial law is—the total suspension of all law.11 The right honourable gentleman r(Mr. Adderley)r will admit that this is something worth remembering. Well; martial law while it lasts, is the negation of all law; and therefore (such is the conclusion of the right honourable gentleman)12 it is the negation of all responsibility. Not only, as soon as martial law is proclaimed, the civil and military authorities and their agents may run amuck, if such is their pleasure—may do, as far as any legal restraint is concerned, anything they please; but, if they please to do what is wrong, they cannot be made to account for it afterwards, except to their official superiors, nor to suffer any but the official penalties which those superiors can inflict. If that is our condition, and if any Government or any local administrator that chooses to proclaim martial law can place us under this regimen, we have gained little by our historical struggles, and the blood that has been shed for English liberties has been shed to little purpose. (Hear, hear.) But it is not so, sir; it is not so. I do not deny that there is good authority, legal as well as military, for saying that the proclamation of martial law suspends all law so long as it lasts; but I defy any one to produce any respectable authority for the doctrine that persons are not responsible to the laws of their country, both civil and criminal, after martial law has ceased, for acts done under it. The legal opinions, which the right honourable gentleman misunderstands, affirm only this, that martial law is another word for the law of necessity, and that the justification of acts done under that law consists in their necessity. Well, then, we have a right to dispute the necessity. If the right honourable gentleman will consult his legal advisers, he will Edition: current; Page: [111] find that the law is perfectly settled on this point. With the permission of the house I will read a short extract from a law opinion given specifically on the point by two gentlemen, both of them ornaments of their profession, and one of them a member of this house:13

The officers of the crown are justified in any exertion of physical force extending to the destruction of life and property to any extent, and in any manner, that may be required for this purpose. They are not justified in the use of excessive or cruel means, but are liable civilly or criminally for such excess. They are not justified in inflicting punishment after resistance is suppressed, and after the ordinary courts of justice can be reopened. The principle by which their responsibility is measured is well expressed in the case of Wright v. Fitzgerald. Mr. Wright was a French master, of Clonmel, who, after the suppression of the Irish rebellion in 1798, brought an action against Mr. Fitzgerald, the sheriff of Tipperary, for having cruelly flogged him without due inquiry. Martial law was in full force at that time, and an act of indemnity had been passed to excuse all breaches of the law committed in the suppression of the rebellion. In summing-up, Justice Chamberlain, with whom Lord Yelverton agreed, said: “The jury were not to imagine that the legislature, by enabling magistrates to justify under the indemnity bill,14 had released them from the feelings of humanity, or permitted them wantonly to exercise power, even though it were to put down rebellion. They expected that in all cases there should be a grave and serious examination into the conduct of the supposed criminal, and every act should show a mind intent to discover guilt, not to inflict torture. By examination or trial he did not mean that sort of examination and trial which they were now engaged in, but such examination and trial the best the nature of the case and existing circumstances would allow of. That this must have been the intention of the legislature was manifest from the expression ‘magistrates and all other persons,’ which provides that as every man, whether magistrate or not, was authorised to suppress rebellion, and was to be justified by that law for his acts, it is required that he should not exceed the necessity which gave him the power, and that he should show in his justification that he had used every possible means to ascertain the guilt which he had punished; and, above all, no deviation from the common principles of humanity should appear in his conduct.” Mr. Wright recovered £500 damages; and when Mr. Fitzgerald applied to the Irish parliament for an indemnity, he could not get one.15

In the year 1866, thirty-four years after the passing of the Reform Act, we have to reaffirm the principle of this judgment, and reassert the responsibility of all officers of the executive to the tribunals, in order that in our regard for law and liberty we may be on a level with the Orange Government and the Orange Parliament of Ireland in the most tyrannical period of modern Irish history, the rebellion of 1798. (Hear, hear.) And great cause is there why we should assert this responsibility. If martial law indeed is what it is asserted to be, arbitrary power—the rule of force, subject to no legal limits—then, indeed, the legal Edition: current; Page: [112] responsibility of those who administer it, instead of being lightened, requires to be enormously aggravated. So long as the power of inflicting death is restricted by laws, by rules, by forms devised for the security of innocence, by settled usage, by a long series of precedents—these laws, these forms, these usages and precedents, are a protection to those who are judged; but they are also eminently a protection to those who judge. If a law is prescribed for their observance, and they observe the law, they are, in general, safe from sfurthers responsibility. The less we leave to their discretion, the less necessity is there, in the interest of the general safety, for making them personally accountable. But if men are let loose from all law, from all precedents, from all forms—are left to try people for their lives in any way they please, take evidence as they please, refuse evidence as they please, give facilities to the defence or withhold those facilities as they think fit, and after that pass any sentences they please, and irrevocably execute those sentences, with no bounds to their discretion but their own judgment of what is necessary for the suppression of a rebellion—a judgment which not only may be, but in a vast proportion of cases is sure to be, an exasperated man’s judgment, or a frightened man’s judgment of necessity (hear, hear); when there is absolutely no guarantee against any extremity of tyrannical violence, but the responsibility which can be afterwards exacted from the tyrant—then, sir, it is indeed indispensable that he who takes the lives of others under this discretion should know that he risks his own. (Cheers.) I do not wonder that there are conscientious military men who shrink from so vast a responsibility, and prefer any view whatever of martial law to that which we are given to understand is the true one. I hold in my hand a letter written to me by a retired general officer,16 which, after saying that the intelligent officers of the army feel bewildered at the very idea of martial law, from the absence of all precise instructions on the subject, goes on to say,

I had fully made up my mind how I should act if ever called upon to enforce martial law. I had resolved, as the only safe and prudent plan, to consider martial law as simply military law extended to civilians, feeling convinced that a fixed or written code was indispensable, and that what was sufficient to curb soldiers in war was surely sufficient to restrain civilians in revolt.

He adds:

Taken fighting with arms in their hands should alone justify the summary execution of rebels; whilst the composition and powers of the courts-martial on rebels should follow the articles of war, which are amply sufficient to cover all cases that could ever arise under martial law. (Hear, hear.)

We are now informed that neither the Articles of War nor the Mutiny Act17 are Edition: current; Page: [113] in force at all during the proclamation of a martial law, and that the courts-martial are not bound by their provisions. But the oath which is administered to the members of every court-martial, and which was taken by all the members of the courts-martial in Jamaica, begins with these words: “You shall duly administer justice according to the rules and articles for the better government of her Majesty’s forces, and according to an act now in force for the punishment of mutiny and desertion.”18 This is what they swore to do: nobody pretends that they did it; and tthe Government now justifies themt by saying that they were not bound by their oath. Sir, I have stated to the house the principles on which I am acting, and on which those act with whom on this subject I am co-operating. We want to know—as the noble lord, the secretary for India, said on a not more important occasion19—we want to know who are to be our masters: her Majesty’s judges and a jury of our countrymen, administering the laws of England, or three naval and military officers, two of them boys, administering, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer tells us, no law at all.20 This we want to know; and this, if it be humanly possible, we mean to uknow. It remains to be seen whether the people of vthis country will sustainv us in the attempt to wprocure au solemn reassertion of the principle, that whoever takes human life without justification must account for it to the laww. This great public duty may be discharged without help from the Government, but without help from the people it cannot. It is their cause; and we will not be wanting to them if they are not wanting to us. (Hear, hear.)

[Eventually the first resolution was accepted, and the others were withdrawn following Governmental concessions (cols. 1839–40).]

Edition: current; Page: [114]

34.: The Reform Meeting in Hyde Park [5]
2 AUGUST, 1866

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 184, col. 1905. Reported in The Times, 3 August, p. 4, from which the variants and response are taken. For the meeting alluded to, see No. 31.

mr. j. stuart mill presented the petition adopted at the meeting in the Agricultural Hall, complaining of the exclusion of the public from Hyde Park on Monday week, and praying the House to institute an inquiry into the conduct of the Chief Commissioner of Police,1 and of the Police generally.

Major Stuart Knox2 said, he would beg to ask the honourable Gentleman, awho he understood was connected with the Reform League,a Whether a letter which appeared in that morning’s paper from Mr. Beales was genuine;3 and, if so, whether he can inform the House who thebpublicb leadersmentioned in it were?

Mr. J. Stuart Mill: Sir, cI can assure the honourable and gallant Gentleman that I have not the slightest objection to give him any information which I can command in reply to his question.c Sir, I am not in the least degree authorized to make any communication to the House on behalf of the Reform League, of which I am not even a member; and I beg to refer the honourable and gallant Gentleman to those who are members, and particularly to Mr. Beales himself. (A laugh.)

35.: Public Health
2 AUGUST, 1866

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 184, col. 1908. Not reported in The Times. Mill’s interjection came in the debate on the third reading of “A Bill [as Amended by the Select Committee . . .] to Amend the Law Relating to the Public Health,” 29 Victoria (29 June, 1866), PP, 1866, IV, 425–48, Clause 39. This clause, concerning proof that inmates of a house or part thereof were family members, put the onus of proof on the claimants. Ayrton moved (unsuccessfully) to strike out this clause. He was followed by Thomas Chambers, who said “nothing Edition: current; Page: [115] could be easier than for the parties charged to show that they were one family, while it would be an impossibility for the police to prove the negative.” Mill replied.

mr. j. stuart mill said, the only proof that would be required would be repute.

36.: The Extradition Treaties Act [1]
3 AUGUST, 1866

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 184, cols. 2023–6. Reported in The Times, 4 August, p. 7, from which the variants and reponses are taken. Mill spoke in the debate on the second reading of “A Bill Intituled An Act for the Amendment of the Law Relating to Treaties of Extradition.” 29 & 30 Victoria (26 July, 1866), PP, 1866, III, 39–42. The Bill eventually passed (see No. 39), though Mill says in the Autobiography that he “joined with several other independent Liberals in defeating an Extradition Bill, introduced at the very end of the session of 1866 and by which, though surrender avowedly for political offences was not authorised, political refugees, if charged by a foreign government with acts which are necessarily incident to all attempts at insurrection, would have been surrendered to be dealt with by the criminal courts of the government against which they had rebelled: thus making the British Government an accomplice in the vengeance of foreign despotisms” (CW, Vol. I, pp. 282–3). He may have in mind that his proposal to limit the duration of the Act to one year had later been accepted (No. 39). In any case, as he says further: “The defeat of this proposal led to the appointment of a Select Committee (in which I was included) to examine and report on the whole subject of Extradition Treaties; and the result was that in the Extradition Act, which passed through Parliament after I had ceased to be a member, opportunity is given to any one whose extradition is demanded, of being heard before an English Court of justice to prove that the offence with which he is charged is really political. The cause of European freedom has thus been saved from a serious misfortune, and our own country from a great iniquity.” (Ibid., p. 283.) For Mill’s part in the Select Committee, see App. B.

sir, I do not mean to say anything against the French Government, but I think it is neither in any way improper nor at all impertinent to the question to say something about the French law, and particularly those parts of it which are thought most defective by the best Judges in France itself. There are many things in that law which are worthy of great praise, and many from which we in this country have a great deal to learn; but I never met with any enlightened Frenchman who did not think that the worst part of the French law is the law of criminal procedure, and that the mode in which the preliminary evidence is taken is the worst part even of that.1 The depositions which are taken preparatory to a criminal trial in France by the juge d’instruction are taken in secret. They are not taken in the presence of the Edition: current; Page: [116] accused; he is not confronted with the witnesses, much less has he any opportunity of cross-examination. It is, therefore, the easiest thing in the world to get up a false charge against a person, if on the part of any other person there is the slightest disposition to do so. I have, indeed, much confidence in the love of justice and the integrity and dignity of the French Judges, who, very often, when the trial comes on, are able to prevent these great defects in the preliminary proceedings from issuing in final injusticea, but with this final trial the House has nothing to do, fora we are now called upon to surrender the accused persons upon the original depositions only. (Hear.) Now, we are told2—and it is true—that the committing magistrate has the power, and is bound, to consider whether the evidence is such as would in his own opinion establish a primâ facie case against the accused, sufficient to warrant a committal for trial. But there is great danger lest the magistrate, not being fully aware of the differences between French and English criminal procedure, might be led, unless something is put in this Bill to guard against it, to attach the same weight, or nearly the same weight, to those depositions as if they had been taken in his presence. It would be very desirable if the magistrate is to have the power of ordering the extradition of an accused person, that something should be done in the way of directing him how to exercise it. When even so experienced a magistrate as the Chief Magistrate at Bow Street, appears to have laboured under some misapprehension in this respect,3 it appears to me important that magistrates should receive warning from their superiors not to attach more than the due weight to those depositions. If, however, they attach no more than the due weight to those depositions, the effect desired will not be produced. Consequently, either the French Government will have to waive the point of honour which they are said to entertain,4 or the new Act will be as much a dead letter as was the old one.5 We are told by high authorities, in a place not far from this, that the old Act was an entirely dead letter;6 and it has been said by every one who has spoken in favour of the Bill that the objection to it is equally an Edition: current; Page: [117] objection to the law as it stands, under which we are subject to the same obligations as are now sought to be imposed on us. I admit that nothing can be more harmless in appearance than this Bill. No substantial alteration, it is argued, is proposed in the law, and therefore nobody can possibly object to the Bill. But it unfortunately happens that although nominally there is no alteration, practically there is the greatest alteration in the world. bThe old Act, we are told, has not been acted upon at all—nobody has been surrendered under that Act—and it is precisely in order to call the Extradition Treaty7 out of the condition of a dead letter into that of a practical fact, that this Bill is brought in. If it does not do this, it answers no purpose. Therefore, if the Bill passes, one of two things must ensue: either our magistrates will give up offenders, on evidence which would be in great danger of being insufficient, or it will be necessary to come to us again on some other occasion to reinforce this Bill and make it still more easy to effect the extradition of accused persons. I can conceive that in the case of ordinary offences it may not be necessary to insist upon these considerations. But as soon as an application is made for the extradition of a political offender, we shall find the strongest reasons for hesitating on the question. If the laws of any country afford facilities for getting up a false case, that false case is very much more likely to be got up where political offences are concerned. Political offences eo nomine are not, it is true, included in the Extradition Treaty, but acts really political often come within the definition of offences which are so included. Apply this observation to the case of the French Emperor at Boulogne,8 and you will perceive—as doubtless the Emperor himself would perceive—the force of what I am advancing.b The noble Lord who has introduced this Bill (Lord Stanley) has expressed his willingness, if it be possible, to exempt offences really political from being made the grounds for extradition, under the name of murder, or attempt to murder.9 This declaration is worthy of the noble Lord, and is such as might be expected from his character. I perfectly sympathize in the difficulties he feels. His difficulty is the case of political Edition: current; Page: [118] assassination. I do not pretend, if the only question were with reference to persons who had really done these things, that I should have much to say against it. People who do such things ought to make up their minds to sacrifice their lives; and if they have any honest feeling in the matter they generally do. (Hear, hear.) When there has been an actual attempt at political assassination, it is not perhaps difficult, in most cases, to distinguish between a false charge and a true one. But it is often uncommonly so in the case of complicity in such an attempt; and these are precisely the cases in which there is most danger of a false charge. It is a thing which may happen any day, our being called upon to deliver up some person charged with complicity in such an offence; and this charge may be the most false imaginable, and yet such as is extremely likely to be entertained. If I may offer, merely by way of illustration, a case fresh in the memory of every Member of this House, I will say that Governor Eyre felt convinced that Mr. Gordon was an instigator of the insurrection in Jamaica,10 and on that ground Mr. Gordon was put to death, although the evidence has been pronounced by those who have examined it judicially—one of them expressed himself very strongly on the point in this House11—utterly insufficient to establish this charge. Well, we have heard no end of testimony from both sides of the House as to what a good man, a clever man, and a blameless man Mr. Eyre was. Well, then, let Mr. Eyre be all this: it follows, that let a man be as good, and wise, and blameless as it is possible for a man to be, he may yet make this mistake; and, if a Governor may make it, a King or an Emperor may make it. We cannot doubt that in such cases depositions will always be forthcoming, and that, if undue weight were attached to these depositions, it would be extremely difficult to resist the extradition of anyone charged with complicity in an attempt on the life of any foreign Sovereign or statesman. The great majority of people, especially people in power, are ready to believe almost anything against their political enemies, especially those who have said or published things tending to excite disapprobation of their conduct; as witness the case of Mr. Gordon. I am not contending for the impunity of these persons. Even those who look with the least horror on political assassination do not doubt that it ought to be punished as murderc. The least the Government of this country could demand in such cases is that the foreign Government should send over here the same evidence that would be necessary to put the man on his trial in the country that shelters him. (Hear, hear.) I cannot approve a Bill under which our magistrates will be called upon to surrender prisoners upon depositions taken in secret, and under no circumstances ought an extradition treaty to deal with political offenders. (Hear, hear.)c

Edition: current; Page: [119]

37.: The Extradition Treaties Act [2]
4 AUGUST, 1866

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 184, cols. 2056–7. Not reported in The Times. A motion had been made to take the Extradition Treaties Act Amendment Bill (see No. 36) into Committee.

mr. j. stuart mill appealed to the Government to postpone the further consideration of this Bill, on the ground of the absence of his honourable Friend the Member for Reading (Sir Francis Goldsmid), who had an Amendment on the paper, to which he attached great importance.1 His honourable Friend was obliged to leave the House yesterday before the division, and was probably unaware of the intention of the Government to have a sitting of the House that day, in order to pass that as well as other measures on the paper through their remaining stages.

Mr. Walpole asked, whether the honourable Member for Westminster was not prepared to move the Amendment?

Mr. J. Stuart Mill doubted whether he should be able to do justice to the subject, as he had come to the House totally unprepared to undertake the task.

[The Committee was deferred until the 6th.]

38.: The Naval Dockyards
4 AUGUST, 1866

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 184, col. 2067. Reported in The Times, 6 August, p. 6, from which the variant is taken. Adjournment had been moved by John Pakington (cols. 2057–60) so that the House could discuss allegations of extravagance by officials in the Royal Dockyards.

mr. j. stuart mill thought the conclusion to be drawn from this discussion was, that a great improvement had been attempted in the mode of conducting public business, but that, as is often the case with first attempts, it had not proved very successful. Every one must feel the great advantage it would be to this House and the public if the facts in any matter relating to public expenditure could be authenticated and agreed upon on both sides aby previous inquirya before the question founded on those facts was brought before the House. His honourable Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. Seely), with great credit to himself, applied Edition: current; Page: [120] to be allowed to ascertain his facts in the best possible way, and with the assistance of those best qualified to help him:1 and the Admiralty consented to that arrangement,2 though they did not appear to have persevered in that laudable intention to the end. The misunderstanding which appeared to have arisen was to be regretted, as they all knew how much more information could be obtained on a complicated matter across a table than across this House, and how much more complete and intelligible that information was likely to be when asked for in a friendly than in a hostile manner.

39.: The Extradition Treaties Act [3]
6 AUGUST, 1866

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 184, cols. 2115–18. Reported in The Times, 7 August, p. 7, from which the variant and response are taken. Goldsmid, now being in the House (see No. 37), moved his amendment to the Bill (see No. 36 for it and the related Acts), to add a clause: “That nothing in this Act, nor in any previous Act relating to Treaties of Extradition, shall be construed to authorize the extradition of any person in whose case there shall be reasonable grounds for belief that his offence, if any, had for its motive or purpose the promotion or prevention of any political object, nor to authorize the extradition of any person the requisition for the delivery of whom shall not contain an undertaking on the part of the Sovereign or Government making such requisition, that such person shall not be proceeded against or punished on account of any offence which he shall have committed before he shall be delivered up, other than the offence specified in the requisition.” Mill spoke after Lord Stanley.

mr. j. stuart mill felt that many of the sentiments which they had just heard from the noble Lord1 were of a very reassuring character, and if the noble Lord were always to be Foreign Secretary, he should not require much further security; but since the country was not likely to be always so far favoured, he could not help regretting that the deliberations of the noble Lord had not led him to frame some other clause, if that already proposed did not meet with his approbation. It should be remembered that if a person charged with political assassination were not given Edition: current; Page: [121] up, he would not necessarily escape punishment; for he might still be prosecuted in the country where he had sought refuge. Nobody wished that political should enjoy any more impunity than any other kind of assassination; but if we had only the alternative of trying in this country persons charged with political offences, or of giving up everybody charged with homicide of a political character, he (Mr. Stuart Mill) should prefer the former. At the same time, he did not think it impossible to define political offences. Various attempts at definition had, to his knowledge, been communicated to the noble Lord. aOne of them, suggested by a learned Gentleman, he would mention. It was,a “Any offence committed in the course or in furtherance of any civil war, insurrection, or political movement.”2 That he thought would not include political assassination. It appeared to him that this matter required much more consideration than it had yet received; the more one examined into it the worse it looked. There was at the present moment the utmost uncertainty as to the nature of the inquiry which an English magistrate was bound to make, previous to delivering up any person charged with a political offence. He found in the papers before the House two entirely different views of the law of this country. The Extradition Act said—

It shall be lawful for any justice of the peace, having power to commit for trial, to examine upon oath any person or persons touching the truth of such charge, and upon such evidence as according to the law of that part of Her Majesty’s dominions would justify the apprehension and committal of the person accused if the crime had been there committed, it shall be lawful for the magistrate to commit the prisoner into the custody of the officers of the Power so demanding him.3

Now, it was stated in the able and excellent letter of Lord Clarendon to Lord Cowley, that a magistrate, when called upon in this country to commit any person for trial, was authorized to examine into the truth of the charge; that, according to our practice, when a person has made oath that another person has committed a certain crime, a warrant is issued for his apprehension; and that the next step is to bring the accused person before a magistrate, when the accuser must appear with his witnesses and be confronted with him in open court, and it must be proved to the satisfaction of the magistrate, before committing the prisoner for trial, that there was sufficient primâ facie ground for believing, first, that the crime had been committed, and next, that the prisoner was the party who had committed it.4 According to this view of the law, it would be in the power of the person accused, Edition: current; Page: [122] before the order is passed for delivering him up, to produce witnesses and have them examined. By the treaty now entered into, the prisoner might be delivered up on the production of written depositions. But he had always understood that, although the depositions might be received in evidence, yet conformably with our practice it would be open to the prisoner to produce counter evidence in contradiction to them, which might show them to be untrustworthy. But now look at the memorandum of the Conference at the Foreign Office on the 8th of February. It was there stated that an impression prevailed in France that the English magistrate actually tried the case; and that that impression was unfounded.5 Of course it was, because there was a great deal of difference between the inquiry previous to committal and the actual trial. But, then, the memorandum went on to say, that when the prisoner was brought before the magistrate he would be entitled to have the depositions read in his presence; but that he would not be allowed to controvert the truth of those depositions, or to produce counter evidence, except as to his identity. Could there be a more flagrant case of contradiction between theory and practice? They were entitled to ask Government whether the law laid down in the Act or the practice laid down in the Foreign Office memorandum was right. If the practice were to prevail over the law, a law should be made to legalize it; but it ought to be considered whether such a law would not be an absolute enormity. Could it be dreamt of that even in respect to an ordinary offence, depositions taken unknown to the person charged—which he had no opportunity of disputing—with reference to which he was not permitted to cross-examine his accusers, should be sufficient to require his surrender?6 Were these depositions, produced in evidence in a court in this country, to be made the grounds for delivering up a person to be tried in the country in which the depositions were made, on the sole condition that he was not shown to be the person named in the warrant? If he really were the person charged, was he not to be allowed to tender any evidence to show that the depositions did not establish a case against him? That was a subject on which the noble Lord the Secretary of State should tell them his mind. Then they had been led to think that there was an understanding with foreign Powers, including the Government of France, that political prisoners should not be delivered up. It now appeared, however, that there was no such understanding, but it was assumed that the French Government would not ask them to deliver up such persons. If that was the case, it was extremely honourable to the French Government, or to our own, perhaps to both—honourable to the French Government if they did not desire to have such persons delivered up, honourable to the reputation of our own Government in foreign countries, if the absence of the demand was grounded on a conviction that it would not be complied with. They had the noble Lord’s assurance that he would not deliver up such persons, but they ought to have some Edition: current; Page: [123] more complete security. Was that intention grounded on an understanding that the treaty did not require us to give up persons charged with political murder, or on a belief that, although the treaty did bind us to deliver them up, the demand would not be made? Surely it would have been better to have some words inserted in the Act showing that it was not the intention of Parliament that the Act should authorize the extradition of political offenders. It was admitted that the Act in terms admitted the extradition of political offenders, but we were told that the right was not exercised. That might be the case with regard to a particular Sovereign, but what security had they for the conduct of his successors. It seemed now that there had not been even a verbal understanding, and that absence of any demands from which it had been sought to infer one, might have arisen only from the circumstance that during the period which had elapsed there had not been a sufficiently strong desire for the surrender of any person included in the class referred to, to induce the French Government to demand his extradition. It was said that we could get rid of the treaty in six months, but that could not or would not be done until something irrevocable had taken place, until, perhaps, some illustrious exile had been delivered up, whose surrender would cover this country with ignominy. He entreated the noble Lord to apply his mind to the subject, and see if it were possible to insert words that would show at least the will and intention of Parliament that the extradition should not extend to political cases, so that there might be something to be relied upon by the Secretary of State in justification of the course he might have to take. This Act was an experiment which they were going to try for the first time, and surely it would be worth while to try it avowedly as an experiment. Would the noble Lord limit the duration of the Act to twelve months? At the expiration of that time they would perhaps have better means of judging than they had now, and might be able to renew the Act from time to time for a longer period. (Hear, hear.)

[Later in the debate Kinglake suggested acceding to Mill’s suggestion of limiting the duration of the act to one year, so that the House could consider the matter more carefully; Goldsmid’s amendment was withdrawn, and Kinglake’s clause added (col. 2124). The Bill thus amended passed its third reading.]

40.: The Disturbances in Jamaica [3]
10 AUGUST, 1866

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 184, col. 2160. Reported in The Times, 11 August, p. 6.

mr. j. stuart mill said, he wished to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether any further information has been received as to the apprehensions Edition: current; Page: [124] which he stated to be entertained by the authorities in Jamaica of a new outbreak in the Colony;1 and whether he has any objection to state more particularly to the House the information which had previously been received on that subject?

Mr. Adderley said, in answer to the honourable Member’s question, he must beg to state that just before the recent debate on the subject of Jamaica despatches were received, from which it appeared that disturbances were apprehended by the Custos of the parish of Metcalfe, a Member of the Colonial Government, as likely to take place in his district during the present month of August. Her Majesty’s Government immediately took such precautions as they deemed fully adequate to secure the peace of the colony, and they ascertained from the Admiralty that a considerable naval force was about the island, and available for any emergency which might arise. The Governor, Sir Henry Storks, felt no distrust in the powers which he possessed to meet any such disturbances as were apprehended. No further information had been received since the arrival of those despatches, but he had laid papers on the table that day which gave the despatches in extenso, together with the fullest information up to the most recent period respecting the late lamentable occurrences.

41.: The Lord Chief Baron
10 AUGUST, 1866

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 184, col. 2165. Reported in The Times, 11 August, p. 6.

mr. j. stuart mill said, he rose to move for an Address for Copies of all the Correspondence which has taken place between Members of the Government and Mr. Rigby Wason in relation to the appointment of Sir FitzRoy Kelly to be Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer;1 and of any Correspondence between the Members of Government and Sir FitzRoy Kelly upon the same subject.

Mr. Walpole said, he had no objection to the first part of the Motion; but as the Edition: current; Page: [125] second part related to communications made to him by the Lord Chief Baron which were of a private character, he (Mr. Walpole) could not assent to their production. There might be an investigation into the matter in another Session, and in that case he thought that the Lord Chief Baron should have an opportunity of considering what answer he should make.

[Mill’s motion, which came on the last day of the Session, was not acted upon.]

Edition: current; Page: [126] Edition: current; Page: [127]

February to August 1867

42.: Political Progress
4 FEBRUARY, 1867

Manchester Examiner and Times, 5 February, 1867, p. 6. Headed: “Opening of the Manchester Reform Club.” (A clipping of this version is in the Mill-Taylor Collection.) The speech was reported in London on the 6th in the Daily News and the Morning Star. Mill had travelled down from St. Andrews, where on 1 February he had delivered his Inaugural Address as Rector (see CW, Vol. XXI, pp. 215–57), to attend the inaugural luncheon meeting of the Manchester Reform Club at Spring Gardens. Hugh Mason presided. In addition to Mill, Goldwin Smith was present as a guest (see No. 43 for Mill’s speech in his honour later the same day). After the formal business of the meeting was concluded, toasts were offered, including one by Thomas Bayley Potter (1817–98), M.P. for Rochdale, who proposed “Political progress, the only safeguard of civil liberty,” with which he coupled the names of Mill and Smith. “Mill, on being called upon to respond,” then spoke.

mr. chairman and gentlemen, you have done me the honour of associating my name with the words of “political progress.” It is with you, it is with the men of Lancashire, that that idea should be more particularly connected. We of the south are accustomed to look to you—to the north—as invariably leading the van, not only in the industrial and the commercial progress, but in the political progress of this country. And in doing so you have only confirmed the idea which we have heard from our childhood, which is admitted and even asserted as a general principle by Conservative as well as Liberal thinkers, that manufacturing and commercial populations are always the leaders on the side of progress—(hear),—and that agricultural populations, and particularly the territorial aristocracy and the great landowners, have a different function in the community—a function sometimes necessary, although often it has become excessive—the Conservative function, the function of keeping that which is good, and I am afraid sometimes that which is bad too. a(Cheers and laughter.) But to you it particularly belongs—toa the manufacturing and commercial communities of the world, and to the manufacturing and commercial part of mixed communities, belongs the lead in improvement, both in ideas and above all in the application of those ideas to practice. It is natural that it should be so, because those who are constantly employed in devising more and more new contrivances for making the laws of nature bavailableb for the increase of the national wealth, and for attaining Edition: current; Page: [128] all the objects that are pursued in the economical department of things with ever-increasing facility; those of us, a very large proportion of whom are always men who have made their own position and their own fortunes, who are always rising, a succession of them rising from inferior to higher positions—those are the persons whose practice and whose whole course in life naturally ought to make them, and very generally does make them, habitual improvers and reformersc. (Hear, hear.) Those are the industriesc which turn men’s minds to improvement in all departments of things as well as in their own. I wish it were not, unfortunately, to be set down to the general infirmities of human nature, that even these very men, after they have raised themselves, their fortune completely made, they and their descendants dvery often cherishd the rather low ambition of passing over to the class of territorial magnates—(hear, and cheers), and from that time ewee rather see their influence employed on the Conservative side—often, wholesomely, sometimes perhaps not quite so wholesomely, than on the side on which they have themselves made their position. (Cheers.) Still, it is to them, it is to this class that we must look in all great national movements for political improvement, and it is to them we look mainly for fsuccess for the futuref in the great battle in which we are now engaging against what remains of privilege in this country. (Cheers.) The sentiment which has been given by my friend Mr. Potter gassociatesg political progress, with civil liberty, as being the sole condition of it; and I think no person who uses the smallest reflection can doubt that this is true, for hour history and our principles together combineh in showing, in the first place, that the nation which is not going forward always goes back; the nation which is not constantly employed in improving whatever it has both of iphysical and moral good,i and also of spiritual good, which is not constantly engaged in improving, gets into a state of stagnationj, and actual indolence and indifferencej, the sure consequence of which is decline kin these things, and with decline in these things, with decline either in mental prosperity, in mental or moral culture,k comes necessarily—where a people has been free—the gradual loss of liberty. (Hear, hear.) Consequently it is not to be expected that any country should long retain its liberty which is not engaged in political progress, which does not keep political progress constantly going. And more than this, there is a point which more especially tempts and invites our attention at this present moment, namely, the question of how a country—in the lnewl state of the world—is to protect, not only Edition: current; Page: [129] its liberty, but its national independence, against foreign countries. Look at the armed hosts that are rising up all over the world just now. Look at the immense extent to which the governments of Europe—all the more powerful governments—are devoting their resources,—the whole, almost we may say, of their population,—to the maintenance of enormous armies, and not merely defensive but aggressive armies. (Hear, hear.) Is not that menacing to this country? Does anybody suppose that these governments look with pleasure on the degree of freedom that we enjoy, or upon the contrast whereby, in many respects, our position offers to that of their subjects, min all thism freedom? Not at all. Yet what position are we in? We, with our small army, and I hope we shall never have a large and an aggressive army—we actually cannot keep it up, we cannot get recruits, because—and this is the point to which the most attention, I think, should be turned, as being one of the most remarkable signs of the times—the people of this country, and, indeed, of other countries, but especially of this country, will no longer fight for a cause that is not their own. Men will not be soldiers as a mere profession, or at least the number is constantly diminishing, who will hire themselves out to shed the blood of others when it is not for the protection of their own freedom and laws. And we have a noble example of what a people will do—how a people will fight—when it is for themselves, for their own cause, for their own liberty, or for moral principles which they regard equally with their liberty. We have seen that in the late heroic and glorious struggle of the United States. (Loud cheers.) We have seen there a million of men in arms for their own freedom, but chiefly for the freedom of others, chiefly for the general cause of liberty; a million of men in arms—every family in the country almost had some one of its members in that force, and scarcely a family in the ncountry, or in the free states, is notn in mourning in consequence of that war. Nevertheless they fought on until they had triumphed. They have triumphed, and they have gone back to their ploughs and to their looms, and have resumed the pursuits of civil life, no more thinking to continue a military life, or to make oany invidious encroachmentso on their neighbours, or to engage in any war but such a one as they have carried so nobly to a conclusion—(hear, hear)—any more than if they had never handled a musket. (Hear, hear.) That is the defensive army which we require—(loud cheers)—it is the defensive force we seek—(cheers)—and we ought with the utmost vigour to oppose any attempt to increase it so as to give us an aggressive force. What we want is a defensive force; what we want is that the people shall be a disciplined people, shall be an armed people, shall be ready to fight, and to go forth as the Americans did, in their own cause, por in any cause in which they feel a disinterested concern;p that it shall be for themselves and not for others—and that they shall offer the highest places in that force not to those who Edition: current; Page: [130] have bought, or who are born to it, but to those who qcan showq that they have earned it, and that they deserve it. (Loud applause.)

[Goldwin Smith also responded, and after several more toasts and replies the meeting ended.]

43.: Goldwin Smith
4 FEBRUARY, 1867

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, Edition: current; Page: [131] 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 Edition: current; Page: [132] 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 Edition: current; Page: [133] 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.]

44.: The Royal Commission on Trades’ Unions
15 FEBRUARY, 1867

Morning Star, 16 February, 1867, p. 5. Headed: “The Trades’ Unions Commission. / Deputation to the Home Secretary.” Reprinted without substantive variants in Report of the Various Proceedings Taken by the London Trades’ Council and the Conference of Amalgamated Trades, in Reference to the Royal Commission on Trades’ Unions, and Other Subjects in Connection Therewith (London: Kenny, 1867), pp. 33–4. The deputation of representative working men called on Spencer Walpole at the Home Office. Mill introduced them and, after others exchanged comments, spoke.

i have no doubt the commission will examine every person that may be produced, and that any person the working classes wish to represent them will get a fair hearing, but if I understand the matter rightly the difficulty was not that witnesses will not get opportunities of giving all the evidence they consider desirable, but that some persons in the interests of the trades’ unions, and properly understanding their working, should be present to answer any charge that may be made affecting the character of any one of the trades. I believe what is desired is, that some persons having practical acquaintance with trades’ unions should be put in position to contradict anything that may be said, through, perhaps, ignorance, damaging to the character of these societies, or to put such questions as would have Edition: current; Page: [134] the effect of enabling the commission to form a better and more impartial opinion than perhaps they otherwise could have done. Very likely Mr. Harrison may do it well,1 but Mr. Harrison with a working man may be able to do it better. If the commission had the power to do what the trades’ unions desired with regard to the attendance of persons to watch the interests of each trade as questions affecting that trade came up for inquiry, no doubt it would be better.

Mr. Walpole: I think the commission can do so, but I should not like to interfere any further.

Mr. Mill then thanked Mr. Walpole for the courteousness of his reception, and the delegation withdrew.

45.: The Metropolitan Poor Bill [1]
8 MARCH, 1867

Saint Stephen’s Chronicle, Vol. II, p. 148. Not in PD. The Times, 9 March, p. 6, summarizes Mill’s intervention in a clause. On 7 March (PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 185, col. 1510) Gathorne Gathorne-Hardy (1814–1906), M.P. for the University of Oxford and President of the Poor Law Board, moved that the House go into Committee pro forma on “A Bill for the Establishment in the Metropolis of Asylums for the Sick, Insane, and Other Classes of the Poor, and of Dispensaries; and for the Distribution over the Metropolis of Portions of the Charge for Poor Relief; and for Other Purposes Relating to Poor Relief in the Metropolis,” 30 Victoria (7 Mar., 1867), PP, 1867, IV, 283–324 (as amended). He proposed that the discussion proper should begin on the next day, and Mill spoke at the beginning of that session, concerning the scheduling of the Bill. In reply to a question, Gathorne-Hardy said that he intended to proceed with the Committee on the Metropolitan Poor Bill that evening, and Mill intervened.

the bill with the amendments of the right honourable gentleman is not yet in the hands of honourable members, and they are therefore hardly in a position to go into committee upon it.

[Sir Thomas Chambers (1814–91), M.P. for Marylebone, agreed with Mill, but Gathorne-Hardy concluded the discussion by saying that the importance of the matter entailed continuing immediately, and that the amended version would soon be in members’ hands. For the ensuing discussion, see Nos. 47–9.]

Edition: current; Page: [135]

46.: The Straits Settlements
8 MARCH, 1867

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 185, cols. 1606–7. Reported in The Times, 9 March, p. 7. Myles William O’Reilly, M.P. for Longford, asked questions of Adderley, the Colonial Secretary, concerning the treatment of officers as a result of the transfer of the Settlement from the India to the Colonial Office. Adderley replied, saying in part that the Colonial Office did not communicate with the superseded officers because it dealt only with its own appointees, not those of the Indian Department. Mill then spoke.

mr. j. stuart mill said, he knew nothing of these particular cases, but he did know something of the Straits Settlements. He hoped that the general proceedings of the Colonial Office were not such as they appeared to have been in this instance. The reason why Parliament desired to transfer the Straits Settlements from the India to the Colonial Office was, he apprehended, because those settlements were totally different from India, in a totally different state of society, and had always been under a totally different system of government. There was no natural connection between the Straits Settlements and India; but as soon as the transfer was made it was thought necessary by the Colonial Office that the officers, who had been conducting the affairs of the Settlements, as seemed to be implied, upon the Indian system, should be superseded by others who would conduct them upon the colonial system. He wanted to know what the colonial system was. He hoped and trusted that there was no such thing. How could there be one system for the government of Demerara, Mauritius, the Cape of Good Hope, Ceylon, and Canada? What was the special fitness of a gentleman who had been employed in the administration of the affairs of one of those colonies, for the government of another of which he knew nothing, and in regard to which his experience in other places could supply him with no knowledge? What qualifications had such a man, that should render it necessary to appoint him to transact business of which he knew nothing, in the place of gentlemen who did understand it, and who had been carrying it on, not certainly upon the Indian system, and he believed upon no system whatever but the Straits Settlements system? He did not know upon what principle the government of the Straits Settlements was to be carried on by the Colonial Office; but he did know that the principle upon which such trusts were administered by the old East India Company was that of retaining a man in the position the duties of which he understood, and they would never have thought of removing a man from an office of which he understood all the details, and replacing him by one who knew nothing about them. He knew nothing of the gentlemen who had administered the government of the Straits Settlements. He was not even aware whether they desired to retain their offices: but he was sure that Edition: current; Page: [136] if they did, it would have been for the public advantage that they should be allowed to keep them. At all events, if they were to be removed, they ought to have been informed of that intention by some Department of the Government, and ought not to have been allowed to learn it from reading in a newspaper that their successors had been appointed.1 That that should have occurred was very discreditable to somebody; and for his own part he should have thought that it was the duty of the Colonial Office to communicate with these gentlemen, because they were still serving in a territory which had been transferred to that Department, and were not then acting under the India Office. They must, indeed, until they ceased to exercise their functions, have been in communication with the Colonial Office upon a hundred other subjects, and it was curious that the only topic upon which the Colonial Department did not think it necessary to intimate its sentiments to them, was that of their removal from their posts, and the appointment of their successors.

47.: The Metropolitan Poor Bill [2]
8 MARCH, 1867

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 185, cols. 1608–10, 1616. Reported in The Times, 9 March, p. 7, from which the variant and responses are taken. Mill indicated in a letter of 9 March to Chadwick that his comments were “imperfectly reported,” though the account in the Morning Star—which Hansard would have used in his collation—was “the best” (LL, CW, Vol. XVI, pp. 1254–5). Mill spoke during Committee consideration of the Metropolitan Poor Bill (for which, see No. 45). Clause 5, on which Mill first spoke, and which was approved, read: “Asylums to be supported and managed according to the provisions of this Act may be provided under this Act for Reception and Relief of the Sick, Insane, or Infirm, or other Class or Classes of the Poor Chargeable in Unions and Parishes in the Metropolis.” Mill’s second intervention came on Clause 9—“the Managers shall . . . be partly elective and partly nominated”—immediately after speeches by Chambers and Torrens that are summarized in the text below.

(Chambers’s amendment was defeated.)

mr. j. stuart mill said, he was too much alive to the extreme difficulty of carrying any measure for the improvement of the law or its administration to be over critical in regard to the present Bill, as it was brought forward with a real desire to improve the administration of the Poor Law,1 and really did so in many important particulars. But he wished to make a few observations, chiefly for the purpose of eliciting the views of the right honourable Gentleman (Mr. Gathorne-Hardy), and of entering a caveat in respect to principles of administration which Edition: current; Page: [137] seemed to him true and just, but which that measure was very far from carrying out to the extent which he was persuaded the House and the country would come in time to think desirable. He wished to ask the reason why the Bill, in the new system which it originated, preserved so much of the fractional character of the old system. Why was it necessary, for example, that there should be one set of managers for asylums, and a different set for dispensaries? Why were asylums to be provided according to districts marked out by the Poor Law Board, while dispensaries were to be provided according to parishes and unions? Both of those institutions, being kindred institutions, must be managed in a certain degree on the same principles, and those who were capable of managing the one must be capable of managing the other. Why was it thought necessary that the management of every separate asylum should be under a separate body, and that every separate dispensary should be under a separate management? No doubt, the right honourable Gentleman meant that there should be the same system of administration for them, and trusted to the powers reserved for the Poor Law Board for establishing it.2 But it was a sound rule that the administration of the same kind of things ought to be, as far as possible, on a large scale, and under the same management. A Central Board would be under the eye of the public, who would know and think more about it than about local Boards. It would act under a much greater sense of responsibility. The number of persons capable of adequately performing the duties in question was necessarily limited, and such persons would be more easily induced to undertake duties on a large scale than on a small one. It was probable that a considerable number of powers now reserved to the Poor Law Board might safely be exercised by such a Central Board; which would, to that extent, preserve the principle of the administration of the local affairs of the people by their own representatives. (Hear.) He was not one of those who desired to weaken the power of the Poor Law Board to guide local authorities, and supersede them when they failed in their duty, for Poor Law administration is not a local but a national concern. But there was much force in what was said by some local authorities, who did not object to the main principles of this Bill, who admitted that its proposals were necessary, who applauded the right honourable Gentleman for making them, yet had fair ground for urging that they ought to have the opportunity of themselves doing what was required, and that interference should take place only when they had failed. With a view to future legislation it would be well worth considering whether the administration of the relief of the sick poor for the whole of London should not be placed under central instead of local management, the Central Board to be constituted by election, or partly by election and partly by nomination. He did not wonder that the right honourable Gentleman (Mr. Gathorne-Hardy) had not chosen to leave the sick poor in the hands of the vestries. Edition: current; Page: [138] Vestry government was hole and corner government, and he hoped the time was coming when they would not tolerate hole and corner administration for any purpose whatever. He hoped, before long, to have the opportunity of bringing this matter before the House in connection with the general subject of metropolitan local government. Of course, some of the vestries had suffered wrongfully for the deficiencies of those who had done worse; but it was in the essence of hole and corner government to be comparatively irresponsible, inefficient, jobbing, and carried on by inferior persons—objections which would not apply to a Central Board. With a Central Board in existence, the duties of the vestries would be those of superintendence rather than of execution. A numerically large Board was unfit for executive or administrative duties, but admirably fitted for looking after those who were intrusted with such duties. Administrative duties were best intrusted to a single hand, which should be responsible, and, if possible, paid (hear, hear); and the executive administration of the Poor Laws should principally devolve on paid officers, who would be watched in the districts by the vestries, which would consist of ready-made critics superintending others with a vigilance with which they did not like others to superintend them. (Hear, hear.) aIn this way an addition might be made to the provisions of this Bill for securing appropriate superintendents.a The proposal to make the asylums medical schools, and thus to secure to them a high degree of publicity and the constant supervision of skilled persons, did the greatest credit to whoever suggested it, and was a proof of a real capacity for practical legislation.3 (Hear, hear.)

[In the discussion of Clause 9, Thomas Chambers moved an amendment to the effect that all the managers should be elected. McCullagh Torrens, while expressing great anxiety that the Bill should pass, argued in favour of the amendment, asserting that opinion outside the House was unanimous that control should not be taken out of the ratepayers’ hands.4]

Mr. J. Stuart Mill said, he agreed with the honourable Gentleman, and did not see any reason for the provisions in the Bill by which the Poor Law Board were empowered to appoint a certain number of guardians.5 According to his view, the guardians were, or ought to be, quite competent to perform their duties without any assistance from the Government of any kind; but in the case of the appointment of a manager, in whom special skill was required, popular election might not be altogether so satisfactory as the appointment of a responsible functionary. He was therefore fully disposed to support this particular clause, although he should oppose, with his honourable Friend the Member for Finsbury, that part of the Bill which left the nomination of the guardians in the hands of the Poor Law Board.

Edition: current; Page: [139]

48.: The Metropolitan Poor Bill [3]
11 MARCH, 1867

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 185, cols. 1678–9, 1680, 1685, and 1696. Reported in The Times, 12 March, p. 7, from which the variant and response are taken. Mill wrote to Chadwick on the 12th to say that his remarks were “better reported this time than last [see No. 47], though briefly” (LL, CW, Vol. XVI, p. 1256). The Committee consideration of the Metropolitan Poor Bill (see No. 45) continued, with Mill speaking on Clause 45, which provided that the District Medical Officers for the Unions and Parishes should be appointed by the Dispensary Committee, subject to the rules and orders of the Poor Law Board, except that those in employment when the Dispensary Committee was first set up should continue in office under such modifications of their duties and remuneration as should be made by the Poor Law Board.

mr. j. stuart mill said, he had ventured on a former clause to make some suggestions which had been received very courteously,1 and he was now going to make two other suggestions, which were not new, but had been frequently made by, perhaps, the highest authority on the subject, Mr. Chadwick, the only surviving member of the Royal Commission which drew up the Poor Law.2 That Commission was one of the most enlightened and able that ever sat, and so long ago as 1834 proposed principles on the subject of education, which, Parliament being afraid of doing too many good deeds at once, left for adoption by generations to come. He regretted Mr. Chadwick was not himself a Member of that House; there was scarcely any one whose services would be more valuable on many points of administrative improvement. (Hear.) The first suggestion he had to offer was this—if they wished the poor to be effectually taken care of, the medical officers appointed should not be in private practice.3 It was not to be expected in the ordinary run of human affairs that public duty would not be neglected for private practice. It was eminently honourable to the profession that public duties were so well attended to as they were; but medical officers should be under no temptation to postpone their public duties to private practice. Could any one suppose that in a time of epidemic and disorder, when their services would be most required by the poor, that they would not be under the temptation of postponing their public duties for their private practice? One had heard of people advertising for perfection in a schoolmaster for £40 a year, which they were just as likely to get as a Board of Edition: current; Page: [140] Guardians were likely to get a competent medical officer for £100 a year. The other point was as to the mode of the appointment of the medical officers. He thought we might well adopt the practice of the hospitals of Paris, which were the best managed in Europe, where the medical officers were appointed by a medical board after examination; and he would suggest whether it would not be in the power of the College of Physicians and the College of Surgeons, in combination with the Civil Service Commissioners, to have a system of competitive examinations in order to test the capacity of those medical officers who were appointed.4 It was clear that the House was not at present prepared to adopt this suggestion; but he laid it before the House and the right honourable Gentleman, in the hope that it might be taken into consideration on some future occasion.

aIn reply to the Chairman,

Mr. Mill saida He did not move any Amendment on the subject.

[Gathorne-Hardy replied (cols. 1679–80) that it would not be possible to employ officers if they were prohibited from engaging also in private practice. As to Mill’s suggestion of competitive examinations, he had no experience of them in such cases, and thought that such a system would lessen the responsibility of those appointing the officers. In fact, the present checks were sufficient. Gathorne-Hardy was followed by John Brady, F.R.S., M.P. for Leitrim, who expressed surprise that Mill, “so well informed on subjects in general,” should argue a case on which he knew nothing. Were he to visit the hospitals, he would find eminent men attending without any salary; if private practice were denied, the officers would be drawn from inexperienced men who would give up the post for private practice as soon as they were qualified. Further, the present examinations for physicians and even more for surgeons were sufficiently severe.]

Mr. J. Stuart Mill said, that as the suggestion which he ventured to make was an administrative, not a medical, suggestion, he did not see why he should be prevented from making it, though he was not a medical man. As to the question of remuneration, he had said before what he now repeated, that if his suggestions were agreed to, the remuneration to medical officers must be considerably raised. Whatever money was spent in this direction was most usefully employed, because they ought to have the best medical assistance that could be obtained for the poor.

[Clause 45 was agreed.]

Mr. J. Stuart Mill said, the clause,5 as he understood it, would empower the Poor Law Board to dismiss the officers of any Poor Law district, on grant of compensation at their discretion, though those gentlemen had hitherto held office Edition: current; Page: [141] for life, except in case of misconduct. Whatever the confidence which those officers felt in the right honourable Gentleman (Mr. Gathorne-Hardy), they did not like to be in the power absolutely of an unlimited line of his successors. They would accordingly be very glad if the right honourable Gentleman would either sanction an appeal or a reference to arbitration, so that they might not be at the mercy or discretion of a single officer.

[Gathorne-Hardy responded negatively (cols. 1685–6). The Clause was agreed.]

Mr. J. Stuart Mill said, he wished to ask if it were worth while risking the popularity of the measure for the sake of the clause.6 Boards of Guardians, who had hardly any power left, except in relation to the outdoor poor, would be quite as fit to inspect asylums, etc., without nominee guardians as with them.

[The Clause was approved, amended to limit such nominees to one-third of the total number.]

49.: The Metropolitan Poor Bill [4]
14 MARCH, 1867

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 185, cols. 1861–2. Reported in The Times, 15 March, p. 5, from which the variants and response are taken. Mill was the first speaker in debate on the third reading of the Bill

(see No. 45).

i wish to make only one or two observations. This Bill effects a great improvement in the existing state of things, and the chief thing to be regretted is that it does not go further. (Hear, hear.) The right honourable Gentleman (Mr. Gathorne-Hardy) has reserved to himself1 the decision of a point which he was urged by several deputations to decide by the Bill itself—namely, the extent and boundaries of the districts, each of which is to have an asylum to itself.2 I wish to urge upon the right honourable Gentleman the importance of making these districts large; as large as the present or future Parliamentary districts. Less than this will not answer the purpose; and I hope the right honourable Gentleman will give us this evening some idea of what are his purposes on this subject. Another point of Edition: current; Page: [142] more importance is, that there should be created, to stand between the Poor Law Board and the local Boards, an intermediate representative body, which might be intrusted with the aexecution of those rules and principles which concerneda the metropolis as a whole, and which, although elected, might have the exercise delegated to it of some of the functions now reserved to the Poor Law Board. I much regret that the right honourable Gentleman has not taken powers to establish such an authority, for we know that he is himself favourable for it.3 The value of large bodies representing large constituencies, as compared with small bodies representing small districts, is indisputable. I will at present confine myself to suggesting one or two practical cases in which it will be found of importance. Take the case of an epidemic likely to affect the whole metropolis, but for the present confined to a single district. In that case the resources of the entire metropolis could, through the administration of the general Board, be applied to the district in which they were wanted. Something like this was done lately in apprehension of a visit of the cholera, by the establishment of a central committee sitting at the Mansion House.4 That committee centralized the charity of the whole of London. Again, there is the case of bsevereb destitution confined to certain districts. In these cases the buildings and beds in some parts of the metropolis are empty, while in the districts suffering the distress they are crowded. The value of a central or intermediate Board between the Poor Law Board and the local bodies, to superintend the application of the resources of the whole metropolis to the immediate exigencies of the distressed districts, is in such cases obvious. This function might well be discharged by a Central Board composed partly of the ratepayers’ nominees, and partly of persons selected by the Commissioners. Another most important consideration is that referring to the providing of food, medicine, and other necessaries for the hospitals. In many cases, also, relief is most advantageously given in kind, which makes it very important that provision should be made for obtaining the best articles possible. To make contracts for the supply of these things is an operation for which no local or small body can be by many degrees so fit as is a central body either in point of efficiency or economy. Jobbing, which is inseparable from hole-and-corner proceedings, need not be apprehended in the case of a body representing the whole metropolis, making purchases on a large scale, and entering into large contracts competed for by opulent firms, for these transactions, being of a public nature, would be carried on under the eyes of the world, and subject to public criticism. No one can dispute, and the right honourable Gentleman must be perfectly aware, that efficiency and Edition: current; Page: [143] economy in contracts are better secured when the body which makes them must do so with publicity—when it stands conspicuous in the public eye. To any one disposed to object to the suggestion for creating an intermediate or central elected Board, like the one I am speaking of, that it is a step on the road to centralization, I would say that if the establishment of such an intermediate body be denied, the denial of it would be a far greater step towards centralization. The powers which such a body is best qualified to exercise have become indispensable. They will therefore be necessarily assumed by a purely Government Board, without any elected body at all—by the Poor Law Board. These are the suggestions I offer to the right honourable Gentleman, and the reasons by which I support them.

[After a few more observations, including Gathorne-Hardy’s that they might institute such a Board if the need for new powers became apparent in the next year and a half (cols. 1864–5), the Bill was given third reading.]

50.: The Reform Bill [1]
8 APRIL, 1867

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 186, col. 1321. Not reported in The Times. Under Public Business, the House was discussing the scheduling of debate on “A Bill Further to Amend the Laws Relating to the Representation of the People in England and Wales,” 30 Victoria (18 Mar., 1867), PP, 1867, V, 521–46 (the Second Reform Bill), and on “A Bill to Provide for the More Effectual Prevention of Corrupt Practices and Undue Influence at Parliamentary Elections,” 30 Victoria (9 Apr., 1867), ibid., II, 213–32. Mill followed Ayrton, who suggested putting the Reform Bill first, and deciding when it had got into Committee whether or not to proceed with the Bribery and Corrupt Practices Bill.

mr. j. stuart mill said, there was a great deal of inconvenience in leaving a matter of so much importance in vagueness and uncertainty. He spoke feelingly on the subject, as he had a Motion on the paper which would be the first Amendment on the Reform Bill when they got into Committee,1 and he was naturally anxious therefore to know whether the Bill would come on on Thursday. He was perfectly ready to bring forward his Motion on that day, or later if the House thought fit; but it was extremely important that he should know on what day he would be called upon to bring it forward.

[Disraeli followed immediately on Mill’s speech (cols. 1321–2), and accepted Ayrton’s proposal.]

Edition: current; Page: [144]

51.: Trades Unions
10 APRIL, 1867

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 186, cols. 1452–3. Reported in The Times, 11 April, p. 6. The variant reading is taken from the St. Stephen’s Chronicle, Vol. III, p. 112. Moving the second reading of “A Bill to Exempt Associations of Workmen from Certain Disabilities for a Limited Time,” 30 Victoria (14 Feb., 1867), PP, 1867, I, 129–30, Charles Neate, M.P. for Oxford, said its main aim was to restore to trade societies the right of summary process against defaulting treasurers that they had enjoyed prior to a recent judgment in the Court of Queen’s Bench. The Government’s contention was that the second reading should not be proceeded with, because the Bill proposed to give sanction to what had just been declared illegal; the societies should change their constitutions to avoid the illegality, and then they would enjoy the protection of the Friendly Societies Act. Mill spoke after two further interventions.

mr. j. stuart mill said, that if he were a party man he should be enchanted at the course taken by the Government on this subject; since what they were now doing took away all the grace from the concession they had made in granting an inquiry into the subject of trades unions.1 As far as mere words went, nothing could sound fairer than to say to the unions—Set yourselves right before the law, and we will then see what can be done for you. But, what was the fact? The law which they were said to have violated was a mine sprung under them.2 No one dreamt of it until the recent decision of the Court of Queen’s Bench.3 Under the power which our law allowed the Judges to assume, of declaring that whatever was in restraint of trade was illegal, anything might be made law; but when a law was made in this way, it was to all intents and purposes a new law. As the law which these societies were said to have violated was a law of which they and everybody else had been entirely ignorant, the only rational course was to preserve the status quo until the whole subject had been reconsidered, which would only be done by legalizing provisionally the course which the societies had pursued, and allowing them to continue in that course until a final settlement was come to. It was a highly demoralizing practice to attempt to prevent people from doing what it was desired they, should not do, not by punishing them, but by enabling any scoundrel to plunder them—by granting him complete immunity for acts which in any other case would be severely punished. The Legislature should not employ the vices of mankind, but their virtues, to carry out its intentions. It would have been infinitely Edition: current; Page: [145] better athat these societies, or their officers, should have been punished long ago for violating the law, than that they should now be put in the position they were placed in by the recent decisionsa.

[Following an argument that the Bill should be withdrawn, the debate adjourned, and the Bill was not proceeded with.]

52.: The Reform Bill [2]
11 APRIL, 1867

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 186, cols. 1492–3. Reported in The Times, 12 April, p. 4, from which the variant and response are taken. Hugh Lupus Grosvenor (Earl Grosvenor) having moved adjournment with the aim of postponing consideration of Reform until after the Easter holidays, the discussion turned on whether Mill’s or Gladstone’s amendments should be first given consideration. For Mill’s amendment, see No. 55. The Times reported that, “Mr. Mill and Mr. Henley having risen at the same time, loud calls arose for Mr. Henley; but Mr. Mill, declining to give way,” proceeded to speak.

sir, I confess I attach the highest importance to the Amendment awhich stands on the paper in my name. Nevertheless, I shall waive my right to proceed with it now, entertaining as I do a confident hope that the House, on both sides of which that proposition has most distinguished supporters and sympathizers, will with one consent allow me at some early period an opportunity for a full discussion upon a proposal which I can assure honourable Gentlemen is a most serious one, and is becoming every day more serious from the number as well as the quality of its supporters. I should not for a moment think of interposing this Motion in the way of anything so important as the Amendment of my right honourable Friend the Member for South Lancashire,1 upon which the House is desirous, no doubt, of coming to a decisive judgment before we either adjourn or are dissolved. I am sure that the House is not so eager for its own amusement as not to be willing, if necessary, to sit through a part of next week. (Hear, hear.) To think that the House would rather leave the question as it is than submit to this minute sacrifice of its pleasure or recreation would be so disgraceful to its character, that I cannot think of entertaining so uncourteous a supposition.

[After a long discussion, Grosvenor’s motion was withdrawn, and the House went into Gommittee, where eventually Gladstone’s amendment was considered (col. 1525); it was defeated the next day (col. 1699).]

Edition: current; Page: [146]

53.: The Reform Bill [3]
9 MAY, 1867

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 187, cols. 280–4. Reported in The Times, 10 May, p. 7, from which the variants and responses are taken. The St. Stephen’s Chronicle, Vol. III, pp. 336–7 agrees with The Times in the variants. In Committee on the Reform Bill, when considering Clause 3, dealing with qualifications for voting in boroughs, Disraeli had proposed inserting the italicized words in the third qualification: “Has during the Time of such Occupation been rated as an ordinary occupier in respect of the Premises so occupied by him within the Borough to all Rates (if any) made for the Relief of the Poor in respect of such Premises . . .” (cols. 15–19). The Times reported that Mill “spoke in a low and at times inaudible tone.”

it must be admitted that the Government, by the last concession which they have made, have abated one of the most obvious objections to the most objectionable of all the provisions of the Bill. The compound-householders are not to be burdened with any fine. They are to pay it, but they will be allowed to deduct it from their rent, and will thus be subject to one disadvantage the less. So much has been said about this single disadvantage—so great stress has been laid on what is called the fine—that attention has not been sufficiently directed to the many other impediments which will remain. The honourable Member (Mr. Hibbert) has called the Amendment a great improvement.1 He should rather have called it a real, but a small improvement. Not only will the voter have to keep money by him for a quarterly payment, instead of a weekly payment which gives no trouble, being confounded with his rent; not only will he have to lie out of his money until he has recovered it—perhaps by weekly instalments; but another most essential condition is requisite, on which the honourable Member has justly laid much stress—his landlord must consent.2 And who is his landlord? One of that powerful class, destined henceforward to be more powerful than ever—not a popular class either with this House or with the public—the owners of small tenements: every one of whom, if his solvent tenants take advantage of the Bill, will lose, to say the least, a profitable contract. Let honourable Gentlemen realize to themselves what an obstacle this is, and then say whether it is likely that in the face of it, the Bill will give more than a very limited amount of honest enfranchisement. But I might be better inclined to accept it as an instalment, if it did no worse; if it was satisfied with keeping almost every small householder out, and did not let anybody in by unfair means. But awhat will happen?a If the Bill becomes law in its present shape, no sooner will it have passed than the scramble will begin for the 465,000 Edition: current; Page: [147] compound-householders. It is safe to say that whichever party can put the greatest number of these people on the register, and, what is of still greater consequence, can keep them there, will have a tolerably secure tenure of power for some time to come. Now, success in this will be principally a question of money. We need not necessarily suppose any direct bribery, any payment of rates, anything distinctly illegal. But there will have to be, and there will be, a perpetual organized canvass of the 465,000. Organizations will be formed for hunting up the small householders who are not rated, and inducing them to come on the rate book. The owners of small tenements must be canvassed too, that they may give their tenants leave to register. Every motive that can be brought to bear on either class will be plied to the utmost. Perpetual stimulus will be applied to the political feelings of those who have any, and to the personal interests of all. Both sides in politics will be prompted to this conduct by the strongest possible motive—by that which makes so many men, not wholly dishonourable or without a conscience, connive at bribery—the conviction that the other party will practise it, and that unless they do the same, their side, which is the right, will be at an unfair disadvantage. Now, this annual, or rather perennial, rating and registering campaign among the small householders, will cost much money. I hope that honourable Gentlemen on this side of the House, who, loving household suffrage not wisely but too well,3 have brought matters to this state, intend to come down handsomely to the registration societies in their own neighbourhoods; for the registration societies are destined henceforth to be one of the great institutions of the country. I wonder if any one, possessed of the necessary pecuniary statistics, has estimated how much will be added to the already enormous expenses of our electoral system when this Bill has passed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer knows perfectly well which side is likely to carry off the prize when it comes to a contest of purses (Hear, hear, and Oh!); though, after the profound contempt which I was happy to hear that he entertains for all such considerations,4 it would be uncourteous to suppose that he is in any way influenced by them. But this serviceable piece of knowledge, though the right honourable Gentleman is indifferent to it, is one which I should like to impress upon the clever Gentlemen who are going to outwit the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and make his Bill bring forth pure and simple household suffrage, contrary to the intentions of everybody except themselves who will vote for it. Now, if the Conservatives do, what without doubt the right honourable Gentleman intends they should—namely, by dint of money, bring everybody on the register who is dependent on them, or who they think for any reason is likely to vote with them; what is it expected that the Radicals will do? Every creature must fight with its own natural weapons: honourable Gentlemen opposite carry theirs in their pockets (Oh, oh!): the natural weapon of the Radicals is political agitation. In Edition: current; Page: [148] mere self-defence they will be compelled to be greater agitators than ever, more vehement in their appeals to Radical feeling, more strenuous in counter-working the voter’s personal interest by exalting to the highest pitch every political passion incident to his position in life. This is what will happen even if we make the chimerical assumption, that the money expended in making voters will all be expended in modes which are conventionally innocent—that there will be nothing scandalous, nothing absolutely illegal; not even that decent form of bribery, payment of rates. But is any one so simple as to believe that this will be the case? Encouraged by the brilliant success of your bribery laws,5 you are going to make payment of rates for political purposes an offence against those laws:6 and your reward will be, that whereas you do now and then detect a case of bribery, it is questionable if there will ever be a single conviction for the other offence. You find it difficult enough to prove bribery, committed where all eyes are watching for it, amidst the heat and publicity of a contested election. Will it be an easy matter, think you, to prove judicially that the non-rated householder, who a month or two before the registration, goes quietly to the parochial officer and pays his full, not his composition rate, has had it put into his hands a few days previous, when no one but the registration agent was thinking about him? And if you could prove it, whom could you convict? Not the candidate; at the time of the registration there is no candidate. The offender is a society of gentlemen in the neighbourhood. If you can convict any one, it will be some needy agent, some man of straw, unauthorized by anybody, beyond general instructions to do the best he can for the Conservative or the Liberal interest. I just now called what would take place a scramble for the compound-householders. I might have called it an auction. Except under the impulse of strong political excitement, we may expect that the small householders who will get on the register will generally get there at some other person’s expense. And the work which begins in this way will not end with it. Once paid for his vote, the integrity of the elector is gone. (Hear, hear.) Many a one will go further, and take payment in a grosser and more shameless form. This is the futurity which the Government Reform Bill provides for us. There was but one thing wanting to complete the picture, and that one thing has been vouchsafed to us. It is, that the Minister who is in this way sowing bribery broadcast with one hand, should hold a Bill for the better prevention of bribery in the other.7 That Bribery Bill completes the irony of the situation. (Laughter.) Sir, the point on which we are now deliberating is, in the judgment of this side of the House, the most important of all the points which we shall have to decide. I sincerely hope, in spite of what was said Edition: current; Page: [149] by the honourable and learned Gentleman who spoke last,8 that it is not so in the eyes of the Government. No one now wants to throw out the Bill. (Hear, hear, and Oh, oh.) If it is wrecked it will be by its authors; nobody can wreck it but themselves. The Bill, however, has now come out in its true colours, as a Bill which restricts the suffrage. Of course, I do not mean that it does nothing else. But if it passes, it will make the franchise more difficult of access to a considerable portion of those who are by the present law entitled to it. As regards the new electors, the right honourable Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has framed his measure very skilfully to effect the greatest apparent, and the smallest real, enfranchisement of independent voters (No, no, and Hear, hear), and the greatest, both apparent and real, enfranchisement of the bribeable and the dependent. Perhaps the House thinks I mean this as a reproach to the right honourable Gentleman, as if there were something tricky and insincere in it. But I am bound to say that the right honourable Gentleman, from as long ago as I remember, has seemed to me remarkably constant to a certain political ideal, which may be defined, an ostensibly large and wide democracy, led and guided by the landed interest. (Laughter.) He has always aimed at shaping our institutions after this type, whenever he has meddled with them, either as a theoretical or a practical politician; and there need be no doubt that he sincerely thinks it the best form of Government. But that is no reason why we should follow him, who like neither his end nor his means. (Hear, hear.) I am afraid that this Bill, so far as it relates to compound-householders, will make ten electors with other people’s money, for other people’s purposes, for every one who will make himself an elector by the exercise of the social virtues: and will greatly increase, instead of diminishing, the influence of money in returning Members to Parliament. I believe that in consequence, instead of attaining the end to which so many honourable Members are willing to sacrifice everything, that of putting the question to sleep, and giving a long truce to agitation, this Bill, if it passes with its present provisions, will achieve the unrivalled feat of making a redoublement of agitation both inevitable and indispensable. Thinking these things, I must resist to the utmost these parts of the Bill; and must vote for bthe Amendment of the honourable member for Oldham (Mr. Hibbert), and for every otherb Amendment (Ministerial cheers) which tends to diminish, either in a great or in a small degree, the obstructions, removeable by money, which the Bill throws in the way of a small householder’s acquisition of the suffrage. (Hear, hear.)

[After a long debate Disraeli’s amendment was carried, Mill voting in the negative.]

Edition: current; Page: [150]

54.: The Reform Bill [4]
17 MAY, 1867

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 187, cols. 738–9. Reported in The Times, 18 May, p. 7, from which the responses are taken. Continued discussion in Committee of the Reform Bill had moved to consideration of an amendment to Clause 3 (see No. 53) proposed by Grosvenor Hodgkinson (1818–81), M.P. for Newark, that would have the effect of removing the issue of compound householders by having all householders pay rates directly

(cols. 708–12).

it appears to me that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has held out to us a great and splendid concession,1 which it has been the whole occupation of those of his supporters, who have since spoken, to explain away.2 (Hear, hear.) In the opinion of some of them, we cannot have the complete embodiment of the principle of the honourable Member (Mr. Hodgkinson); and it appears to be the opinion of the Attorney General that we cannot have that embodiment this year at all. That is to say, we are called upon to pass a Reform Bill this year, and to wait until next year for the measure that is necessary to render that Bill tolerable. In what position will the House be placed if they give way to that? A General Election may occur in the meantime, with all the evils which have induced us to oppose that part of the Bill which relates to the compound-householders. We ought to have some security against that. (Hear.) We could have some security, but it must consist in something more than mere general words, which, however sincere they may be, are not to be acted upon until after an indefinite time, and in an indefinite way. No one can be more eager or anxious than I am that the arrangement which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has offered to us should be fairly and honourably carried into effect. I am sure we are all most sincere in that. At the same time, it is absolutely necessary that we should not proceed with the clauses relating to compound-householders as preparatory to doing away with compound-householders altogether. The country feel a great deal more doubt about the sincerity of the House than the Chancellor of the Exchequer seems to think, and I do not think the country will believe that we intend to do away with the compound-householders if we pass the Bill this year, and postpone till next the measure for the abolition of compound-householders. As to the difficulties anticipated by the honourable and learned Member (Mr. Ayrton),3 and by the last speaker,4 I will not undertake to say what reality there may be in them; but the Edition: current; Page: [151] greater the practical difficulties in the way of carrying out the principle of my honourable Friend the Member for Newark, the more important and absolutely essential it is that the House should see the Bill by which these things are to be done before they commit themselves to the Bill of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. (Hear, hear.) There is no need to lose time, because there is a great portion of the Bill which does not relate to the borough franchise, and with that we can go on: If we are only assured by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he will bring in a Bill to give effect to his undertaking, and that we shall see that Bill before we part company with the present one, it would, in my opinion, be the best course to suspend further action upon the borough franchise clauses, and proceed with the other clauses, and only resume the borough franchise clauses when we have seen the promised Bill. At all events, I think we ought not to read the present Bill a third time until we have read the promised Bill a second time. (Hear, hear.)

55.: The Admission of Women to the Electoral Franchise
20 MAY, 1867

Speech of John Stuart Mill, M.P. on the Admission of Women to the Electoral Franchise. Spoken in the House of Commons, May 20th, 1867 (London: Trübner, 1867), and PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 187, cols. 842–3. The text of the pamphlet is reproduced ibid., cols. 817–29, Mill having instructed Trübner to send a copy to Hansard; see CW, Vol. XVI, p. 1277. That Hansard used that text is indicated by the asterisk in PD. (There are no substantive differences except two misprints in PD: “Nor, Sir” for “Now, Sir” at 152.6, and “indirect” for “in direct” at 157.27.) Reported in The Times, 21 May, p. 9, from which variants and responses are taken; the variants are all supported by the report in the St. Stephen’s Chronicle, Vol. III, pp. 475–81. The copies in SC have no corrections or emendations.

i rise, sir, to propose an extension of the suffrage which can excite no party or class feeling in this House; which can give no umbrage to the keenest assertor of the claims either of property or of numbers; an extension which has not the smallest tendency to disturb what we have heard so much about lately, the balance of political power; which cannot afflict the most timid alarmist with revolutionary terrors, or offend the most jealous democrat as an infringement of popular rights (hear, hear), or a privilege granted to one class of society at the expense of another. There is nothing to distract our attention from the simple question, whether there is any adequate justification for continuing to exclude an entire half of the community, not only from admission, but from the capability of being ever admitted within the pale of the Constitution, though they may fulfil all the conditions legally and constitutionally sufficient in every case but theirs. Sir, within the limits of our Constitution this is a solitary case. There is no other example of an exclusion which is absolute. If the law denied a vote to all but the Edition: current; Page: [152] possessors of £5000 a year, the poorest man in the nation might—and now and then would—acquire the suffrage; but neither birth, nor fortune, nor merit, nor exertion, nor intellect, nor even that great disposer of human affairs, accident, can ever enable any woman to have her voice counted in those national affairs which touch her and hers as nearly as any other aperson in the nationa. (Hear, hear.)

Now, Sir, before going any further, allow me to say, that a primâ facie case is already made out. It is not just to make distinctions, in rights and privileges, without a positive reason. I do not mean that the electoral franchise, or any other public function, is an abstract right, and that to withhold it from any one, on sufficient grounds of expediency, is a personal wrong; it is a complete misunderstanding of the principle I maintain, to confound this with it; my argument is entirely one of expediency. But there are different orders of expediency; all expediencies are not exactly on the same level; there is an important branch of expediency called justice; and justice, though it does not necessarily require that we should confer political functions on every one, does require that we should not, capriciously and without cause, withhold from one what we give to another. As was most truly said by my right honourable friend the Member for South Lancashire, in the most misunderstood and misrepresented speech I ever remember;1 to lay a ground for refusing the suffrage to any one, it is necessary to allege either personal unfitness or public danger. Now, can either of these be alleged in the present case? Can it be pretended that women who manage an estate or conduct a business,—who pay rates and taxes, often to a large amount, and frequently from their own earnings,—many of whom are responsible heads of families, and some of whom, in the capacity of schoolmistresses, teach much more than a great number of the male electors have ever learnt,—are not capable of a function of which every male householder is capable? (Hear, hear.) Or is it feared that if they were admitted to the suffrage they would revolutionize the State,—would deprive us of any of our valued institutions, or that we should have worse laws, or be in any way whatever worse governed, through the effect of their suffrages? No one, Sir, believes anything of the kind.

And it is not only the general principles of justice that are infringed, or at least set aside, by the exclusion of women, merely as women, from any share in the representation; that exclusion is also repugnant to the particular principles of the British Constitution. It violates one of the oldest band most cherishedb of our constitutional maxims—a doctrine dear to reformers, and theoretically acknowledged by most Conservatives—that taxation and representation should be co-extensive. Do not women pay taxes? Does not every woman who is sui juris contribute exactly as much to the revenue as a man who has the same electoral Edition: current; Page: [153] qualification? If a stake in the country means anything,2 the owner of freehold or leasehold property has the same stake, whether it is owned by a man or a woman. There is evidence in our constitutional records that women have voted, in counties and in some boroughs, at former, though certainly distant, periods of our history.

The House, however, will doubtless expect that I should not rest my case solely on the general principles either of justice or of the Constitution, but should produce what are called practical arguments. Now, there is one practical argument of great weight, which, I frankly confess, is entirely wanting in the case of women; they do not hold great meetings in the parks, or demonstrations at Islington.3 (Oh!) How far this omission may be considered to invalidate their claim, I will not undertake to decide; but other practical arguments, practical in the most restricted meaning of the term, are not wanting; and I am prepared to state them, if I may be permitted first to ask, what are the practical objections? The difficulty which most people feel on this subject, is not a practical objection; there is nothing practical about it; it is a mere feeling—a feeling of strangeness; the proposal is so new; at least they think so, though this is a mistake; it is a very old proposal. Well, Sir, strangeness is a thing which wears off; some things were strange enough to many of us three months ago which are not at all so now; and many are strange now, which will not be strange to the same persons a few years hence, or even, perhaps, a few months. And as for novelty, we live in a world of novelties; the despotism of custom is on the wane; we are not now satisfied with knowing what a thing is, we ask whether it ought to be; and in this House at least, I am bound to believe that an appeal lies from custom to a higher tribunal, in which reason is judge. Now, the reasons which custom is in the habit of giving for itself on this subject are usually very brief. That, indeed, is one of my difficulties; it is not easy to refute an interjection; interjections, however, are the only arguments among those we usually hear on this subject, which it seems to me at all difficult to refute. The others mostly present themselves in such aphorisms as these: Politics are not women’s business, and would distract them from their proper duties: Women do not desire the suffrage, but would rather be without it: Women are sufficiently represented by the representation of their male relatives and connexions: Women have power enough already. (Laughter.) I shall probably be thought to have done enough in the way of answering, if I answer all this; and it may, perhaps, instigate any honourable gentleman who takes the trouble of replying to me, to produce something more recondite.

Politics, it is said, are not a woman’s business. Well, Sir, I rather think that politics are not a man’s business either; unless he is one of the few who are selected and paid to devote their time to the public service, or is a member of this or of the other House. The vast majority of male electors have each his own business, which Edition: current; Page: [154] absorbs nearly the whole of his time; but I have not heard that the few hours occupied, once in a few years, in attending at a polling booth, even if we throw in the time spent in reading newspapers and political treatises, ever causes them to neglect their shops or their counting-houses. I have never understood that those who have votes are worse merchants, or worse lawyers, or worse physicians, or even worse clergymen than other people. One would almost suppose that the British Constitution denied a vote to every one who could not give the greater part of his time to politics: if this were the case, we should have a very limited constituency. But allow me to ask, what is the meaning of political freedom? Is it anything but the control of those who do make their business of politics, by those who do not? Is it not the very essence of constitutional liberty, that men come from their looms and their forges to decide, and decide well, whether they are properly governed, and whom they will be governed by? And the nations which prize this privilege the most, and exercise it most fully, are invariably those who excel the most in the common concerns of life. The ordinary occupations of most women are, and are likely to remain, principally domestic; but the notion that these occupations are incompatible with the keenest interest in national affairs, and in all the great interests of humanity, is a utterly futile as the apprehension, once sincerely entertained, that artisans would desert their workshops and their factories if they were taught to read. I know there is an obscure feeling—a feeling which is ashamed to express itself openly—as if women had no right to care about anything, except how they may be the most useful and devoted servants of some man. But as I am convinced that there is not a single member of this House, whose conscience accuses him of so mean a feeling, I may say without offence, that this claim to confiscate the whole existence of one half of the species for the supposed convenience of the other, appears to me, independently of its injustice, particularly silly. For who that has had ordinary experience of human affairs, and ordinary capacity of profiting by that experience, fancies that those do their own work best who understand nothing else? A man has lived to little purpose who has not learnt that without general mental cultivation, no particular work that requires understanding is ever done in the best manner. It requires brains to use practical experience; and brains, even without practical experience, go further than any amount of practical experience without brains. But perhaps it is thought that the ordinary occupations of women are more antagonistic than those of men are to the comprehension of public affairs. It is thought, perhaps, that those who are principally charged with the moral education of the future generations of men, cannot be fit to form an opinion about the moral and educational interests of a people: and that those whose chief daily business is the judicious laying-out of money, so as to produce the greatest results with the smallest means, cannot possibly give any lessons to right honourable gentlemen on the other side of the House or on this, who contrive to produce such singularly small results with such vast means. (Ironical cheers.)

Edition: current; Page: [155]

I feel a degree of confidence, Sir, on this subject, which I could not feel, if the political change, in itself not great or formidable, which I advocate, were not grounded, as beneficent and salutary political changes almost always are, upon a previous social change. The notion of a hard and fast line of separation between women’s occupations and men’s—of forbidding women to take interest in the things which interest men—belongs to a gone-by state of society, which is receding further and further into the past. We talk of political revolutions, but we do not sufficiently attend to the fact that there has taken place around us a csilentc domestic revolution: women and men are, for the first time in history, really each other’s companions. Our traditions respecting the proper relations between them have descended from a time when their lives were apart—when they were separate in their thoughts, because they were separate equally in their amusements and in their serious occupations. In former days a man passed his life among men; all his friendships, all his real intimacies, were with men; with men alone did he consult on any serious business; the wife was either a plaything, or an upper servant. All this, among the educated classes, is now changed. The man no longer gives his spare hours to violent outdoor exercises and boisterous conviviality with male associates: the two sexes now pass their lives together; the women of a man’s family are his habitual society; the wife is his chief associate, his most confidential friend, and often his most trusted adviser. Now, does a man wish to have for his nearest companion, so closely linked with him, and whose wishes and preferences have so strong a claim on him, one whose thoughts are alien to those which occupy his own mind—one who can neither be a help, a comfort, nor a support, to his noblest feelings and purposes? Is this close and almost exclusive companionship compatible with women’s being warned off all large subjects—being taught that they ought not to care for what it is men’s duty to care for, and that to have any serious interests outside the household is stepping beyond their province? Is it good for a man to live in complete communion of thoughts and feelings with one who is studiously kept inferior to himself, whose earthly interests are forcibly confined within four walls, and who cultivates, as a grace of character, ignorance and indifference about the most inspiring subjects, those among which his highest duties are cast? Does any one suppose that this can happen without detriment to the man’s own character? Sir, the time is now come when, unless women are raised to the level of men, men will be pulled down to theirs. The women of a man’s family are either a stimulus and a support to his highest aspirations, or a drag upon them. You may keep them ignorant of politics, but you cannot prevent them from concerning themselves with the least respectable part of politics—its personalities; if they do not understand and cannot enter into the man’s feelings of public duty, they do care about his personal interest, and that is the scale into which their weight will certainly be thrown. They will be an influence always at hand, Edition: current; Page: [156] co-operating with the man’s selfish promptings, lying in wait for his moments of moral irresolution, and doubling the strength of every temptation. Even if they maintain a modest forbearance, the mere absence of their sympathy will hang a dead-weight on his moral energies, making him unwilling to make sacrifices which they will feel, and to forego social advantages and successes in which they would share, for objects which they cannot appreciate. Supposing him fortunate enough to escape any actual sacrifice of conscience, the indirect effect on the higher parts of his own character is still deplorable. Under an idle notion that the beauties of character of the two sexes are mutually incompatible, men are afraid of manly women; but those who have considered the nature and power of social influences well know, that unless there are manly women, there will not much longer be manly men. When men and women are really companions, if women are frivolous, men will be frivolous; if women care for nothing but personal interest and idle vanities, men in general will care for little else: the two sexes must now rise or sink together. It may be said that women may take interest in great public questions without having votes; they may, certainly; but how many of them will? Education and society have exhausted their power in inculcating on women that their proper rule of conduct is what society expects from them; and the denial of the vote is a proclamation intelligible to every one, that whatever else society may expect, it does not expect that they should concern themselves with public interests. Why, the whole of a girl’s thoughts and feelings are toned down by it from her schooldays; she does not take the interest even in national history which her brothers do, because it is to be no business of hers when she grows up. If there are women—and now happily there are many—who do interest themselves in these subjects, and do study them, it is because the force within is strong enough to bear up against the worst kind of discouragement, that which acts not by interposing obstacles, which may be struggled against, but by deadening the spirit which faces and conquers obstacles.

We are told, Sir, that women do not wish for the suffrage. If the fact were so, it would only prove that all women are still under this deadening influence; that the opiate still benumbs their mind and conscience. But great numbers of women do desire the suffrage, and have asked for it by petitions to this House. How do we know how many more thousands there may be, who have not asked for what they do not hope to get; or for fear of what may be thought of them by men, or by other women; or from the feeling, so sedulously cultivated in them by their education—aversion to make themselves conspicuous? Men must have a rare power of self-delusion, if they suppose that leading questions put to the ladies of their family or of their acquaintance will elicit their real sentiments, or will be answered with complete sincerity by one woman in ten thousand. No one is so well schooled as most women are in making a virtue of necessity; it costs little to disclaim caring for what is not offered; and frankness in the expression of sentiments which may be unpleasing and may be thought uncomplimentary to their nearest connections, is Edition: current; Page: [157] not one of the virtues which a woman’s education tends to cultivate, and is, moreover, a virtue attended with sufficient risk, to induce prudent women usually to reserve its exercise for cases in which there is a nearer and a more personal interest at stake. However this may be, those who do not care for the suffrage will not use it; either they will not register, or if they do, they will vote as their male relatives advise: by which, as the advantage will probably be about equally shared among all classes, no harm will be done. Those, be they few or many, who do value the privilege, will exercise it, and will receive that stimulus to their faculties, and that widening and liberalizing influence over their feelings and sympathies, which the suffrage seldom fails to produce on those who are admitted to it. Meanwhile an unworthy stigma would be removed from the whole sex. The law would cease to declare them incapable of serious things; would cease to proclaim that their opinions and wishes are unworthy of regard, on things which concern them equally with men, and on many things which concern them much more than men. They would no longer be classed with children, idiots, and lunatics, as incapable of taking care of either themselves or others, and needing that everything should be done for them, without asking their consent. If only one woman in twenty thousand used the suffrage, to be declared capable of it would be a boon to all women. Even that theoretical enfranchisement would remove a weight from the expansion of their faculties, the real mischief of which is much greater than the apparent.

Then it is said, that women do not need direct power, having so much indirect, through their influence over their male relatives and connections. I should like to carry this argument a little further. Rich people have a great deal of indirect influence. Is this a reason for refusing them votes? Does any one propose a rating qualification the wrong way, or bring in a Reform Bill to disfranchise all who live in a £500 house, or pay £100 a year in direct taxes? Unless this rule for distributing the franchise is to be reserved for the exclusive benefit of women, it would follow that persons of more than a certain fortune should be allowed to bribe, but should not be allowed to vote. Sir, it is true that women have great power. It is part of my case that they have great power; but they have it under the worst possible conditions, because it is indirect, and therefore irresponsible. I want to make this great power a responsible power. I want to make the woman feel her conscience interested in its honest exercise. I want her to feel that it is not given to her as a mere means of personal ascendency. I want to make her influence work by a manly interchange of opinion, and not by cajolery. I want to awaken in her the political point of honour. Many a woman already influences greatly the political conduct of the men connected with her, and sometimes, by force of will, actually governs it; but she is never supposed to have anything to do with it; the man whom she influences, and perhaps misleads, is alone responsible; her power is like the back-stairs influence of a favourite. Sir, I demand that all who exercise power should have the burthen laid on them of knowing something about the things they Edition: current; Page: [158] have power over. With the acknowledged right to a voice, would come a sense of the corresponding duty. Women are not usually inferior in tenderness of conscience to men. Make the woman a moral agent in these matters: show that you expect from her a political conscience: and when she has learnt to understand the transcendent importance of these things, she will know why it is wrong to sacrifice political convictions to personal interest or vanity; she will understand that political integrity is not a foolish personal crotchet, which a man is bound, for the sake of his family, to give up, but a solemn duty: and the men whom she can influence will be better men in all public matters, and not, as they often are now, worse men by the whole amount of her influence.

But at least, it will be said, women do not suffer any practical inconvenience, as women, by not having a vote. The interests of all women are safe in the hands of their fathers, husbands, and brothers, who have the same interest with them, and not only know, far better than they do, what is good for them, but care much more for them than they care for themselves. Sir, this is exactly what is said of all unrepresented classes. The operatives, for instance: are they not virtually represented by the representation of their employers? Are not the interest of the employers and that of the employed, when properly understood, the same? To insinuate the contrary, is it not the horrible crime of setting class against class? Is not the farmer equally interested with the labourer in the prosperity of agriculture,—the cotton manufacturer equally with his workmen in the high price of calicoes? Are they not both interested alike in taking off taxes? And, generally, have not employers and employed a common interest against all outsiders, just as husband and wife have against all outside the family? And what is more, are not all employers good, kind, benevolent men, who love their workpeople, and always desire to do what is most for their good? All these assertions are as true, and as much to the purpose, as the corresponding assertions respecting men and women. Sir, we do not live in Arcadia, but, as we were lately reminded, in faece Romuli:4 and in that region workmen need other protection than that of their employers, and women other protection than that of their men. I should like to have a return laid before this House of the number of women who are annually beaten to death, kicked to death, or trampled to death by their male protectors: and, in an opposite column, the amount of the sentences passed, in those cases in which the dastardly criminals did not get off altogether. I should also like to have, in a third column, the amount of property, the unlawful taking of which was, at the same sessions or assizes, by the same judge, thought worthy of the same amount of punishment. We should then have an arithmetical estimate of the value set by a male legislature and Edition: current; Page: [159] male tribunals on the murder of a woman, often by torture continued through years, which, if there is any shame in us, would make us hang our heads. Sir, before it is affirmed that women do not suffer in their interests, as women, by the denial of a vote, it should be considered whether women have no grievances; whether the laws, and those practices which laws can reach, are in every way as favourable to women as to men. Now, how stands the fact? In the matter of education, for instance. We continually hear that the most important part of national education is that of mothers, because they educate the future men. Is this importance really attached to it? Are there many fathers who care as much, or are willing to expend as much, for the education of their daughters as of their sons? Where are the Universities, where the High Schools, or the schools of any high description, for them? If it be said that girls are better educated at home, where are the training-schools for governesses? What has become of the endowments which the bounty of our ancestors destined for the education, not of one sex only, but of both indiscriminately? I am told by one of the highest authorities on the subject, that in the majority of the endowments the provision made is not for boys, but for education generally; in one great endowment, Christ’s Hospital, it is expressly for both: that institution now maintains and educates 1100 boys, and exactly 26 girls.5 And when they attain womanhood, how does it fare with that great and increasing portion of the sex, who, sprung from the educated classes, have not inherited a provision, and not having obtained one by marriage, or disdaining to marry merely for a provision, depend on their exertions for subsistence? Hardly any decent educated occupation, save one, is open to them. They are either governesses or nothing. A fact has recently occurred, well worthy of commemoration in connection with this subject. A young lady, Miss Garrett, from no pressure of necessity, but from an honourable desire to employ her activity in alleviating human suffering, studied the medical profession.6 Having duly qualified herself, she, with an energy and perseverance which cannot be too highly praised, knocked successively at all the doors through which, by law, access is obtained into the medical profession. Having found all other doors fast shut, she fortunately discovered one which had accidentally been left ajar. The Society of Apothecaries, it seems, had forgotten to shut out those who they never thought would attempt to come in, and through this narrow entrance this young lady found her way into this profession. But so objectionable did it appear to this learned body that women should be the medical attendants even of women, that the narrow wicket through which Miss Garrett entered has been closed after her, and no second Miss Garrett Edition: current; Page: [160] will be allowed to pass through it.7 And this is instar omnium.8 No sooner do women show themselves capable of competing with men in any career, than that career, if it be lucrative or honourable, is closed to them. A short time ago, women might be Associates of the Royal Academy; but they were so distinguishing themselves, they were assuming so honourable a place in their art, that this privilege also has been withdrawn.9 This is the sort of care taken of women’s interests by the men who so faithfully represent them. This is the way we treat unmarried women. And how is it with the married? They, it may be said, are not interested in this motion; and they are not directly interested; but it interests, even directly, many who have been married, as well as others who will be. Now, by the common law of England, all that a wife has, belongs absolutely to the husband; he may tear it all from her, squander every penny of it in debauchery, leave her to support by her labour herself and her children, and if by heroic exertion and self-sacrifice she is able to put by something for their future wants, unless she is judicially separated from him he can pounce down upon her savings, and leave her penniless. And such cases are of quite common occurrence. Sir, if we were besotted enough to think these things right, there would be more excuse for us; but we know better. The richer classes take care to exempt their own daughters from the consequences of this abominable state of the law. By the contrivance of marriage settlements, they are able in each case to make a private law for themselves, and they invariably do so. Why do we not provide that justice for the daughters of the poor, which we take care to provide for our own daughters? Why is not that which is done in every case that we personally care for, made the law of the land, so that a poor man’s child, whose parents could not afford the expense of a settlement, may retain a right to any little property that may devolve on her, and may have a voice in the disposal of her own earnings, which, in the case of many husbands, are the best and only reliable part of the incomings of the family? I am Edition: current; Page: [161] sometimes asked what practical grievances I propose to remedy by giving women a vote. I propose, for one thing, to remedy this. I give these instances to prove that women are not the petted children of society which many people seem to think they are—that they have not the over-abundance, the superfluity of power that is ascribed to them, and are not sufficiently represented by the representation of the men who have not had the heart to do for them this simple and obvious piece of justice. (Hear, hear.) Sir, grievances of less magnitude than the law of the property of married women, when suffered by parties less inured to passive submission, have provoked revolutions. We ought not to take advantage of the security we feel against any such consequence in the present case, to withhold from a limited number of women that moderate amount of participation in the enactment and improvement of our laws, which this motion solicits for them, and which would enable the general feelings of women to be heard in this House through a few male representatives. We ought not to deny to them, what we are conceding to everybody else—a right to be consulted din the choice of a representatived; the ordinary chance of placing in the great Council of the nation a few organs of their sentiments—of having, what every petty trade or profession has, a few members who feel specially called on to attend to their interests, and to point out how those interests are affected by the law, or by any proposed changes in it. No more is asked by this motion; and when the time comes, as it certainly will come, when this will be granted, I feel the firmest conviction that you will never repent of the concession.

[At the end of his speech, Mill moved his amendment to substitute the word person for the word man “(hear, hear)” in Clause 4 of the Reform Bill, which dealt with the occupation qualifications for voters in counties. Following seven other speakers, Mill concluded the debate.]

I will merely say, in answer to the noble Lord who requested me to withdraw the Motion,10 that I am a great deal too well pleased with the speeches that have been made against it—his own included—to think of withdrawing it. There is nothing that has pleased me more in those speeches than to find that every one who has attempted to argue at all, has argued against something which is not before the House (hear, hear): they have argued against the admission of married women, which is not in the Motion; or they have argued against the admission of women as Members of this House; or again, as the honourable Member for the Wick boroughs (Mr. Laing) has done, they have argued against allowing women to be generals and officers in the army;11 a question which I need scarcely say is not before the House. I certainly do think that when we come to universal suffrage, as Edition: current; Page: [162] some time or other we probably shall come (oh, oh!)—if we extend the vote to all men, we should extend it to all women also. So long, however, as you maintain a property qualification, I do not propose to extend the suffrage to any women but those who have the qualification. If, as is surmised by one of the speakers,12 young ladies should attach so much value to the suffrage that they should be unwilling to divest themselves of it in order to marry, I can only say that if they will not marry without it, they will probably be allowed to retain it. (Hear, and a laugh.) As to any question that may arise in reference to the removal of any other disabilities of women, it is not before the House. There are evidently many arguments and many considerations that cannot be overlooked in dealing with these larger questions, but which do not arise on the present Motion, and on which, therefore, it is not necessary that I should comment. I will only say that if we should in the progress of experience—especially after experience of the effect of granting the suffrage—come to the decision that married women ought to have the suffrage, or that women should be admitted to any employment or occupation which they are not now admitted to—if it should become the general opinion that they ought to have it, they will have it.

[After Mill’s speech, the question was put, and the amendment lost, 196 to 73, Mill being a teller.]

56.: The Municipal Corporations Bill
21 MAY, 1867

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 187, cols. 882–5, 891. Reported in The Times, 22 May, p. 7, from which the variant and response are taken. Mill spoke in moving for leave to introduce “A Bill for the Establishment of Municipal Corporations within the Metropolis,” 30 Victoria (21 May, 1867), PP, 1867, IV, 447–66.

mr. j. stuart mill said, he did not do so in any spirit of hostility to the Report of the Committee relative to the Local Government of the Metropolis, of which Committee he had the honour of being a Member.1 It was true he had disagreed from the majority of the Committee on several of their Resolutions, but as a whole their Report had his general concurrence, and he considered it a great step in the Edition: current; Page: [163] progress of this question. The Committee, in the first place, freely acknowledged existing defects; and, in the second place, it recognised the general principles upon which, in his opinion, a reform of those defects should proceed. It recognised that good municipal institutions for the metropolis must consist of two parts—namely, local bodies representing districts, and a general body representing the metropolis at large—the latter to take the place of the present Board of Works. Neither was his Motion framed in hostility to the Board of Works. It might at least be said for the Board that it had been appointed to perform a great and laborious work,2 and that it had actually done that work. The Report proposed increased powers and an improved mode of election for the general Board; and with regard to the local district bodies, the Report considered the present districts to be too small, and virtually recommended the abolition of hole-and-corner local government. The Report might be considered in that and other respects as an outline of what municipal reformers desired; and the Bill he proposed to introduce would do something towards filling up that outline with regard to the local bodies only. He had given notice of his intention to ask for leave to bring in a Bill for the establishment of a central federal municipality for the whole of the metropolis,3 but he was not yet prepared with that Bill, and he should not ask the House to read the present Bill a second time until he was able to lay before them the entire plan. The plan he was now about to propose was not his own, but originated with one of the most important vestries in Westminster,4 and it had obtained the warm support of many of the leading vestrymen of the metropolis. He had no hostility to the vestries. Our parochial institutions, with all their defects, had done great things for the country. They had carried down to comparatively low grades of society a familiar acquaintance with the forms of public business and the modes of carrying it on, and in consequence this country possessed an advantage which, perhaps, no other country (except the United States) enjoyed—namely, that when circumstances call for the expression of an opinion by a collective body of citizens, there are numerous persons who know how that opinion should be collected and expressed. These merits could not be denied to our local system; but that system, as established in the metropolis, appeared to him to be on too small a scale. The Report of the Committee did not recognise that fact to so great an extent as he could have wished, and therefore he ventured to propose his plan. The Committee said Edition: current; Page: [164] that the districts of the metropolis were too small and inconvenient in some cases.5 He (Mr. Stuart Mill) believed they were too small in all cases, and that the municipal boroughs of the metropolis ought to be conterminous with the Parliamentary boroughs. He thought it necessary that the municipal districts should be of considerable extent, and highly desirable that they should also be units in themselves. Unless the districts were considerable they were always more or less a kind of hole-and-corner government. It was a common fallacy, now going the round of Europe, but still a fallacy, that the mere circumstance of a body being popularly chosen was a guarantee that it would conduct its proceedings on popular principles. His faith in popular governments did not depend on their being popularly elected. The real value of popular institutions consisted in the popular power of correcting mistakes, and enforcing responsibility to the people. Owing to this responsibility, it would not be possible for any body long to retain its position if it habitually exercised its powers contrary to the public interest as generally understood. Another point was that the greatest attainable publicity should be secured to the business transacted by these bodies; but when the business was on a very small scale it did not excite much attention. The check was not effectual unless the business was of such a nature that the public eye would be fixed on it. It was further desirable, for the sake of greater publicity, that not only should the district be of considerable magnitude and the business important, but that the districts should, if possible, be natural units in themselves, or at least, should be units for other purposes than this special one. The importance of this was, that it would tend to induce a higher class of men to enter these bodies. Three of the metropolitan boroughs (the City, Westminster, and Southwark) were, if not natural, at least historical units; the other districts, though of more recent origin, were gradually acquiring an esprit de corps, and a sense of common interest. It had been at first thought desirable that an additional district should be created out of parts of Marylebone and Finsbury. The great importance, however, of making the municipal and Parliamentary boundaries coincide, had led to the abandonment of this idea, except so far as regarded the formation of a new police district, there being at present no police-office between Marlborough Street and Worship Street in the extreme east. The Bill provided for the division of the Tower Hamlets; but this would be dealt with by the Bill for the Representation of the People. aThere Edition: current; Page: [165] would also be a district for Kensington and Chelsea.a6 He should not ask the House to read the Bill a second time till he had introduced the remainder of the plan of which it formed a part. Whatever merit the plan had, and that merit appeared to him to be considerable, it belonged entirely to his constituents who originated the plan. He himself had no part in it except that, at his own special request, he was permitted to introduce it to the House. (Hear, hear.) He now begged to move for leave to bring in a Bill to establish Municipal Corporations within the Metropolis.

[Mill was followed, inter alia, by Ayrton, who had chaired the committee on the Metropolis that Mill refers to, and Locke, who had served on the committee; Gathorne-Hardy said the Government would not oppose the introduction of the Bill, but indicated hesitation over such a complex matter, on which the Metropolitan members were not themselves agreed. Mill’s concluding sentence follows on Gathorne-Hardy’s remarks.]

Mr. J. Stuart Mill, in reply, observed, that he believed the Bill would be approved of by the City when its provisions became known.

[The Bill was given first reading.]

57.: The Fenian Convicts
25 MAY, 1867

Morning Star, 27 May, 1867, p. 6. Headed: “The Fenian Convicts. Important Deputation to Lord Derby.” Reported in the Evening Star (identically with the Morning Star), the Daily Telegraph, the Daily News, and The Times (an abbreviated summary of Mill’s remarks). (Clippings of the Morning Star and Daily News reports are in the Mill-Taylor Collection.) On Saturday, 25 May, in the afternoon, a deputation of about sixty people, mainly Members of Parliament, called on the Prime Minister, Edward George Geoffrey Smith Stanley (1799–1869), 14th Earl of Derby, at his residence, to ask for a Royal pardon for “General” Thomas Francis Bourke, or Burke (b. 1840), who, having been found guilty of high treason for his part in the March uprising in Tipperary, had been sentenced to be hanged on 29 May. The delegation would have been larger, had some Members not gone by mistake to the Prime Minister’s official residence in Downing Street. Mill, who was “sensibly . . . moved by the affecting nature of the task,” spoke second.

my lord, we have come here without distinction of party. (Loud cries of Hear.) We come here with as deep and earnest a feeling as it is possible for human beings to have, to implore your lordship not to erect the scaffold in this Edition: current; Page: [166] country for political offences. It is not, my lord, for the sake of these unfortunate men we say it.1 Heaven knows the punishment of failure, under the desperateness of these cases, is as painful a measure of punishment as almost any. The punishment to which, at all events, those men have subjected themselves, should their lives not be taken, for the rest of their existence, may be supposed to be quite sufficient to vindicate the law, and deter persons—as we all admit they ought to be deterred—from attempting a revolution when there is not a feeling in the country which would enable them to succeed. We most seriously apprehend that the effect of executing these men will be to make them heroes and martyrs. You must remember that the cause of Irish nationality has not yet had aitsa martyrs. Irish wrongs have had martyrs, but long since this has been put an end to as far as we are concerned. Emmett and Fitzgerald were not martyrs to Irish nationality;2 but the execution of these unhappy men will give a sanctity to the cause in which they embarked which must bring about results most unhappy for Ireland and for this country. We ought to think a little of what will be thought in foreign countries if these men are executed. We know what the feeling of foreign countries is on nationalities. They do not know the actual state of Ireland. They do not know with what a deep and sincere desire we have tried to make Ireland prosperous, and give her no cause to regret her union with us. They know nothing of this. They only know that there is one oppressed nationality which is ruled by another nationality, as they think, by force. bI think that state of things can only be remedied when a country can be induced to forget, as Scotland has forgotten, what is past.b In this view, therefore, I think it would be the most fatal thing in the world to put these men to death. The punishment of death, God knows, is not the most severe punishment, but it is a punishment which excites most sympathy. If these men be executed they will be dearly remembered, their memory will be held sacred by the Irish people, and their example will bring hundreds of their fellow-countrymen to their ruin. (Hear, hear.) There is another point in this matter which is not unworthy the consideration of a statesman, and it is this: It is much to be feared that there must be an impression among the American people that when, with respect to the invaders of Canada,3 many persons desired that the severest punishment should be resorted to, yet with a correct morality—for it was a correct morality to Edition: current; Page: [167] condemn people to penal servitude instead of death—the execution of these men did not take place, that that was done because her Majesty’s Government thought the lives of the men could not be taken with safety. There are many other gentlemen on the deputation anxious to address your lordship, and I will not therefore further detain you.

[Mill was followed by a dozen other speakers before Derby replied at length, explaining that while the Government had considered the case for mercy most carefully before rejecting it, he would be willing to place before Cabinet that afternoon any document they might prepare. The deputation, after thanking the Prime Minister for his attention and courtesy, assembled in Derby’s drawing room and prepared a document, signed by them all, and given to Derby, saying: “We the undersigned members of the House of Commons, very respectfully beg to express the hope that the extreme sentence of capital punishment in the case of the convict Burke may be commuted.”]

58.: Reform of Parliament
25 MAY, 1867

Daily News, 27 May, 1867, p. 2. Headed: “Reform Meeting at St. James’s-Hall.” Reported in the Daily Telegraph, the Morning Star (identically in the Evening Star), and the Morning Post (all of these with similar texts of Mill’s speech), The Times and the Evening Mail (these two with similar reports that rearrange and summarize the speeches and events), the Morning Post (a condensed version of the Daily News text), and the Standard. (Clippings of the Daily News, Daily Telegraph, and Evening Mail reports are in the Mill-Taylor Collection.) This second meeting of the National Reform Union (with many members of the Reform League present) was held on Saturday evening at 7 p.m., chaired by Samuel Morley, who had also chaired the first meeting on Wednesday, 15 May, at which Mill was on the platform though he did not speak. It might have been expected that fewer would attend than at the first, but “such was not exactly the case; for although there was not so much pressure as to put the physical endurance of a large part of the audience to a severe trial, yet every available place, whether for sitting or standing, was occupied; while an ardour, not to say enthusiasm, prevailed, which rivalled the demonstrativeness of the former meeting. Doubtless owing to the fact that Mr. Stuart Mill was announced as the leading orator of the evening, the fair sex was more fully represented than on the previous occasion; many of them, we will not say invading the platform, but occupying places there.” (Daily Telegraph.) After preliminaries by the Chair, a resolution congratulating the reformers of the country on having won from the Government concessions in favour of household suffrage was moved and seconded. Mill “rose to support the resolution, and was received with loud and prolonged cheering, the audience rising in a body and waving hats and handkerchiefs.”

brother and sister reformers—(laughter and cheers)—since I had the satisfaction last week of looking from this platform upon you or other reformers, Edition: current; Page: [168] equally numerous and equally aearnesta, many things have happened. At the beginning of the week it really seemed as if the greatest of the objects for which you are agitating had actually been attained.1 It seemed as if we had got household suffrage, real, honest household suffrage, and that there was very little for us to do but to sit down and congratulate one another. (Laughter.) It is very fortunate that you did not think so, and that you stood to your guns, for here is our friend the compound-householder up again, and as strong as ever. (Laughter.) We have the whole battle to fight over again from the beginning. (Hear, hear.) We hope that we shall fight it out successfully (hear, hear), and we shall have you to thank for it. I will explain how this matter stands. It is not we who object to the compound householder. We do not object to householders compounding for their rates. It is a very great convenience, and it is very desirable that we should ahve the whole subject properly discussed without any reference to political questions, which ought to have nothing to do with it. b(Hear, hear.) It is the government that has forced this upon us; because the government—as it would not quite do to say there was no principle at all in their bill, and as they did not see that they had a very firm hold on any other—somehow attached all their self-consequence to sticking to this little principle. (Laughter.) I am very glad it is not a greater. (Laughter and Hear, hear.) For it seems they would insistb to the very last—the principle that no one should compound and vote too. (Laughter and cheers.) There is no reason in the nature of things why a person should not compound and vote too. Compounding may be a good thing, and I am sure voting is a good thing, and I do not see any incompatibility between them. (Hear, hear.) However, the government do (laughter), and they appear determined that you shall not give every householder a vote unless you prevent him from compounding. Mr. Hodgkinson proposed that, and we thought they had conceded it. (Laughter.) But what have they done? They say, it is very true, that everybody shall be rated unless he objects himself, but if the landlord and he apply to compound they may be allowed to compound, and then he shall lose his vote. Well, that does not suit us. (Laughter and cheers.) cIt is not only that we want every householder to have a Edition: current; Page: [169] vote, as we do;c dthat is not all. See what would happend. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s clause pass, the householder’s having a vote will depend upon his landlord.2 (Hear, hear.) Now that is what we have been afraid of all along (hear, hear), because it is the landlord’s interest that he should not have a vote if he cannot have a vote and compound too. It is the landlord’s interest, and it is the interest of vestries, local boards, and eother authorities in parishese, that he should compound, and therefore it is their interest that he should not have a vote unless he can compound too. Well, if that is the case, observe what would happen. The landlord, it being his interest that such householders should not have a vote, and his consent being necessary, he will not consent unless it is made worth his while; and we know what that means. (Laughter and cheers.) It means that if the landlord wants the votes of his tenants for a political purpose, or if anybody else fcan make it worth his while to want their votes for a political purpose, they will have the vote; and if not, notf. (Laughter and cheers.) That is not what we want, and we are not disposed to stand it. (Loud cheers.) We know very well that if we once get household suffrage, though we may be obliged to give up the convenience of compounding, when all these small householders have got votes, if they want to compound, if it is for their interest, convenience, and advantage to compound they will soon alter the law so that they may compound without the monstrous political consequences wanted to be attached to the act. (Cheers.) This is very like all that has been going on ever since the beginning of these reform discussions. It has been a succession—I will not say of tricks, because I do not like to use hard words, especially when I cannot prove them (laughter), but of what is called in the vernacular, trying it on. (Great cheering and laughter.) The object is just to see what you will bear, and anything that you will bear you shall have to bear (laughter), but if you show that you will not bear it, then perhaps it may not be required of you. (Renewed laughter and cheers.) I dare say that it is thought by the people who do it, and by many others, to be fair political strategy. Well, if the government were our enemies, I mean the enemies of our objects, if we are trying to get the most parliamentary reform that we can, and they are trying to give us the least, if we are openly attempting to take every advantage that we can against one another, these things may be fair enough. If that is the case they should tell us so. (Hear, hear, and a laugh.) But they do not, they leave us to find it out. (Loud Edition: current; Page: [170] laughter.) I must say that Mr. Disraeli cannot be charged with having broken faith with us. Men of his ability seldom do gbreak faith with anybodyg. (Laughter.) He has been very careful hand guarded, indeedh, and no one can say he has deceived us; but I think he has encouraged us a good deal to deceive ourselves. (Laughter.) I ought, perhaps, to be ashamed to make the confession, but he certainly succeeded with me this time. (Loud laughter.) I certainly thought when Mr. Disraeli came forward in the house, and with that bland and conciliatory, and frank and open manner—(cheers and laughter)—which he always exhibits when he chooses (laughter)—and during this session he has often so chosen, except towards our great leader, Mr. Gladstone—i(shame)i—when he came forward in this way, as soon as Mr. Hodgkinson asked for the abolition of the compound household, jin order that we might not disfranchise the small householders,j he claimed that idea as his own—(laughter)—as what he had wanted from the beginning, what he had not only no objection to, but what he positively loved.3 (Laughter.) When he did this I really thought we were going to have real household suffrage. But he has taught me a lesson—(cheers and laughter)—which I did not think I needed; but I did—(laughter)—and that is, to be a precious great distance out of the wood before I holloa in future. (Laughter and cheers.) This may not be so kbad as it looks. Some of our friends—some of the liberal members—k place a deal of trust, I am sorry to say, not in the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s virtues, but in the bad opinion they have of him, for they think that in all this that looks a little equivocal in his conduct, as if he is going both ways, he is trying to impose upon his own party. I do not know that he is trying to impose upon anybody. If I thought he was I should think at least if he was going to impose on anybody it was not so likely to be on his friends as on his foes. (Laughter.) I think rather that if he were disposed to impose on anybody it is likely to be upon us. I hope we shall be mistaken, and that on Monday next, when the subject comes up again, we shall really get the household suffrage that we want. (Loud cheers.) If we get that we can afford to smile when Mr. Disraeli gets up in an exulting tone—whether we have beaten him or he us, it is all the same to him—he always thinks it his victory—(laughter)—and we can smile when he tells us that we have all come over to him. He tells us that with the gravest face in the lworldl. But we are not quite so patient, and ought not to be so, when he gibes at those to whom we really owe all this, when he mcalls them “blunderers,”m talks of their “blundering hands,”4 and gives it to Edition: current; Page: [171] be understood that they have not been able to carry reform and he can, and that it is not their measure. He is quite satisfied if he can say to Mr. Gladstone, “You did not do it.” But Mr. Gladstone did do it. (Loud and long-continued cheering.) He could not carry his measure last year5 because Mr. Disraeli and his friends opposed it; Mr. Disraeli can carry his Reform Bill because Mr. Gladstone will not oppose anything but that which is not real reform, and will support to the utmost that which is. (Cheers.) I have no objection to thank everybody for their part in it when once we have got it, but I will always thank most those to whom we really owe it. (Cheers.) The people of England know that but for the late government this government would have gone one hundred miles nout of their wayn before they would have brought in any Reform oBill at all. (Hear, hear.) Ando every good thing we have got in this bill, even that which seems to be more than Mr. Gladstone was prepared to give, has only been given for the purpose of outbidding Mr. Gladstone. (Hear, hear.) pI have nothing more to say on this subject, but I should like to say something on another. I am reminded by my friend on my right (Mr. Gilpin)6—one of the most thorough and determined reformers in the House of Commons—that I had the gratification of being along with him in thep deputation to Earl Derby qwhich he mentioned to youq, to endeavour to save the life of a poor convict. We do not know what the result will be.7 rWe met under very great disadvantages.r The deputation was arranged last night when the house was very thin, and when the news that sthese poor men weres8 to be executed came upon us like a clap of thunder. (Cries of Shame.) tWe had to hunt up all the members of Parliament we could, many of them as it was the night before (Friday) were out of town, or were going out, having formed engagements, and under the circumstances we gott together some 50 or 60 English, Scotch, and Irish members, including some of the most honoured names in the house u—(cheers)—and saw the Prime Ministeru. We do not know what the result is. I myself, from Lord Derby’s tone, felt a good deal discouraged; but some of my friends, vwho know Edition: current; Page: [172] more of him, andv who are much better judges than I am, think there is a great deal of hope. As long as there is a chance of this hope being gratified, I would not say a word to mar the grace of the concession. I am willing to give the most hearty thanks to her Majesty’s government if they change the resolution which they are understood to have come to wonlyw by a majority, in which some of the most eminent members of the government did not join. (Hear, hear.) I do not wish to say anything that could excite any hostile feeling against the government, since I hope it will appear that they have not deserved it. But I should like to elicit a little feeling from you. (Cheers.) I should like to know, first, whether you think that we have any right to hold Ireland in subjection unless we can make Ireland contented with our government. (Cries of No, no.) That expression of your sentiment will resound through Ireland, and win the hearts of her people to you. (Cheers.) Let me ask you now: Do you think the Irish people are contented with our government?9 (Cries of No, no.) Is that your fault? (No, no.) Do you think those men who have been driven desperate by the continuance of what they think misgovernment—although it is not so intentionally, if it was once; the reason we govern Ireland badly is because the ruling classes do not know how to do it better—do you think that these poor men, who do not understand the English people, and do not understand that you are determined to do them justice, and do not know that you are going soon to be strong enough to do it—(cheers)—and because they do not know this, their patience is worn out, and in most desperate circumstances they endeavour to get rid of what they think misgovernment at the risk of their lives—do you think, I say, that those men are not fit to live for that reason? x(Cries of No.)x It is necessary to punish them. (Hear, hear.) It is necessary to punish any unsuccessful revolutionists (Oh, oh); because no man has a right to endanger the lives of his fellow-creatures, to raise civil war in the country, unless the event proves that there was such a feeling in the country at the timey, and that the circumstances were altogether suchy that he had reasonable prospect of success.10 (Hear, hear.) If people did not risk anything by making Edition: current; Page: [173] these attempts we should have them made upon all sorts of absurd grounds by small minorities. It is necessary, then, to punish these people, but it is not necessary to hang them. (Cheers.) It is important that the world should know that you, the people of England, abhor the idea of staining the soil with the blood of political zoffendersz. (Loud cheers, and a cry of Hang the Government.) I hope that we shall not have to reproach any one for this. But if it is done, I hope that you will show that it is not your doing—that you do not sympathise, that it is not you who want to hang the poor men who aimed to obtain the liberty of their country even by the amost mistaken meansa. (Hear, hear.) Political malcontents are very seldom bad men; they are generally better than the average. They very often do wrong things; but the man who will risk his life and all that is dear to him for a public object is generally a better man than the common—he is an object of pity, and not of hatred. (Cheers.) If he is not successful, his failure will itself be a terrible blow to him. b(Some person in the body of the hall here askedb “How would you punish them?”) I assume that it is unnecessary to punish all. It is only necessary to punish the leaders, and I would punish them by imprisonment, but not for life. They should not be treated like the scum of the earth; and we would always hope that the time would come, and we would do our utmost to make the time come, when an amnesty would let them all out of prison. (Cheers.) These things are done even in some of the most despotic countries of Europe, and I am sure that the people of England will not bear that their government should be the only one except those of Spain and Russia, which does such things. (Cheers.) If the government were so unfortunate as to hang these men, they would have the sympathy of none but Marshall Narvaez and General Mouravieff.11 c(Cheers.)c I could not help addressing you on this subject. (Cheers.) Many of us who went up to Lord Derby feel deeply that it will be a most fatal thing for the honour of this country, for its estimation in the eyes of all other countries, for its future prosperity, for the future good feeling between class and class, and, above all, for Edition: current; Page: [174] the future good feeling between Ireland and England, which was so precious to them all, if the government should persevere in the dcalamitousd resolution to which they have come, but from which many of our friends feel econfident, and I feele considerable hope, that they will virtuously abstain. (Loud and continued cheering.)

fOn the honourable gentleman resuming his seat the vast audience rose en masse, and gave three vigorous cheers in his honour.f

[The resolution was passed unanimously, and then Thomas Mason Jones moved a second one, condemning the government’s “breach of faith” over compounding. In his speech Jones said, “as an Irishman,” he must thank “the most illustrious philosopher in Europe—(loud cheers)—for the speech . . . worthy of even the great reputation of John Stuart Mill” (Morning Star). Later in his speech, Jones referred to a conversation in which Mill indicated that though he had been opposed to the ballot, he “was so convinced of the dangerous state of things in Ireland, that he was willing the ballot should be tried in that part of the kingdom—(great cheering)—that, if the experiment were to be tried at all, that was the place to try it” (Morning Star). When Jones finished, Mill rose again.]

gMr. J.S. Mill: My friend who has just addressed the meeting, and whose enthusiasm has led him greatly to overrate my merits, has misunderstood in some degree the communication which took place between him and me on the subject of the ballot. I have never concealed from you any opinion which you dislike. (Hear, hear.) I did not do so at my election, and you won’t expect me to do so now. I am not in favour of the ballot. I think there are great objections to it, and that we are getting strong enough to do without it. (Hear, hear.) I was not able to say so much of the unfortunate Irish. I said, and I say again, if the ballot is to be tried, try it first in Ireland. (Cheers.)g

[After the unanimous passing of this and another resolution, and thanks to the Chair, the meeting agreed to send a memorial to the Queen, praying that she spare the lives of the Fenian convicts. Morley’s response to the vote of thanks closed the meeting proper, as the “vast assemblage” of some 3,000 separated. A few of those most involved, including Mill, then gathered in a smaller room to draw up the memorial concerning the Fenian prisoners, of which the substantial clause read: “We, your Majesty’s humble memorialists, beg earnestly to pray your Majesty to exercise your Royal prerogative of mercy in sparing the lives of our unhappy countrymen in Ireland now lying under sentence of death for high treason.” It was sent with a covering letter by Morley to Gathorne-Hardy, recently appointed Home Secretary.]

Edition: current; Page: [175]

59.: The Reform Bill [5]
27 MAY, 1867

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 187, cols. 1142–3, 1185, 1188. Reported in The Times, 28 May, p. 9, from which the responses are taken. In the renewed discussion in Committee of Clause 4 of the Reform Bill, Disraeli made an extended defence of the Government’s intentions, in the course of which he referred to Mill’s having attended a meeting (see No. 58) and “if not [moving] at least [supporting] or sanction[ing] a resolution to the effect that I, representing Her Majesty’s Government, had committed a breach of faith with the House of Commons on this matter” (col. 1139). Mill’s first intervention is in response to that accusation.

i hope the Committee will kindly indulge me for a few minutes. No one, so far as I am aware, on the occasion to which the right honourable Gentleman has alluded, charged him with having broken faith with the House or with the country on the subject of the compound-householder. I most explictly acquitted him of having done so. If such a charge has been made I most willingly admit, and justice would compel me to admit, that he has most clearly and satisfactorily answered it. (Cheers.) I was well aware that the shaft with which he had transfixed us was taken from our own quiver. (Hear.) When the Amendment of the honourable Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) was announced,1 I felt, and said, that if it were carried it would entirely destroy us (hear, hear)—that we should be obliged to begin again at the beginning and fight the whole battle over again. If that Amendment had proceeded from this part of the House I should have opposed it, and I shall oppose it now. I had not in my mind that my honourable Friend the Member for Newark (Mr. Hodgkinson) had expressed concurrence in that Motion. I now remember that he did concur in it. But the Committee know that he withdrew that concurrence by placing a fresh Amendment of an entirely different character on the Paper. As the right honourable Gentleman has done me the honour to attend to what I said in another place, he no doubt is well aware of the reasons why I think the 3rd and 4th clauses are entirely inadmissible. I have said this to set myself right with the right honourable Gentleman, against whom I have always endeavoured to avoid saying anything personally offensive. On the occasion referred to, I spoke with studied moderation.

[The Committee moved from Clause 4 to Clause 34, also bearing on the issue of compound-householders; Mill’s second intervention, on an amendment by Ayrton (col. 1183) that would have the effect of making landlords liable for payments not made by short-term occupiers who had been rated in order to gain the franchise, came after Gathorne-Hardy had indicated that the basis of the Government’s Edition: current; Page: [176] objection to payment of compounded rates through the landlord was “that men would get on the register without paying the full rate, and that persons therefore paying unequal rates would be equally entitled to the franchise” (col. 1185).]

Mr. J. Stuart Mill said, that in addition to the objection mentioned by the right honourable Gentleman, the Amendment would place the weekly tenant of a dwelling-house in a worse position than the weekly tenant of a lodging who would not have to pay any poor rate.

[Ayrton also moved that where “the dwelling-house or tenement shall be wholly let out in separate apartments or lodgings, the owner of such dwelling-house or tenement shall be rated in respect thereof to the poor rate” (col. 1186); Mill’s subsequent motion came after some discussion of the matter.]

Mr. J. Stuart Mill moved the omission of the words “separate apartments or” in the Amendment.

[The amendment was withdrawn so that a substitute amendment using the words “apartments or lodgings not separately rated” could be agreed to.]

60.: Personal Representation
30 MAY, 1867

Personal Representation. Speech of John Stuart Mill, Esq., M.P. Delivered in the House of Commons, May 29th [sic], 1867. With an Appendix Containing Notices of Reports, Discussions, and Publications on the System in France, Geneva, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, the Australian Colonies, and the United States, 2nd ed. (London: Henderson, et al., 1867), and PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 187, col. 1362. Reported in The Times, 31 May, pp. 7–8, from which variants and the responses are taken; the report in the St. Stephen’s Chronicle, Vol. IV, pp. 44–7, supports the readings in The Times, but may derive from a common source. The first and main part of the speech is given in PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 187, cols. 1343–56. The incomplete listing in Mill’s bibliography reads “Speech in the House of Commons on 1867, in moving for the adoption of Mr. Hare’s system of representation: reprinted in a pamphlet with other writings on Mr. Hare’s plan entitled ” (MacMinn, p. 97). The copy in Mill’s library, Somerville College, has no corrections or emendations. He spoke first.

asir,a the proposal to which I am about to call the attention of the House, and which I move as an amendment to the redistribution clauses,1 because if it were adopted it would itself constitute a complete system of redistribution, has been Edition: current; Page: [177] framed for the purpose of embodying a principle which has not yet been introduced into our discussions—a principle which is overlooked in the practical machinery of our constitution, and disregarded in most of the projects of constitutional reformers, but which I hold, nevertheless, to be most important to the beneficial working of representative government; and if while we are making great changes in our system of representation we omit to engraft this principle upon it, the advantages we obtain by our changes will be very much lessened, and whatever dangers they may be thought to threaten us with will be far greater and more real than they otherwise bneedb be; and this I think I can establish by reasons so clear and conclusive, that, though I cannot expect to obtain at once the assent of the House, I do confidently hope to induce many members of it to take the subject into serious consideration. I cannot, indeed, hold out as an inducement that the principle I contend for is fitted to be a weapon of attack or defence for any political party. It is neither democratic nor aristocratic—neither Tory, Whig, nor Radical; or, let me rather say, it is all these at once: it is a principle of fair play to all parties and opinions without distinction: it helps no one party or section to bear down others, but is for the benefit of whoever is in danger of being borne down. It is therefore a principle in which all parties cmightc concur, if they prefer permanent justice to a temporary victory; and I believe that what chiefly hinders them is that, as the principle has not yet found its way into the commonplaces of political controversy, many have never heard of it, and many others have heard just enough about it to misunderstand it. In bringing this subject before the House I am bound to prove two things: first, that there is a serious practical evil requiring remedy; and then, that the remedy I propose is practicable, and would be efficacious. I will first speak of the evil. It is a great evil; it is one which exists not only in our own, but in every other representative constitution; we are all aware of it; we all feel and acknowledge it in particular cases; it enters into all our calculations, and bears with a heavy weight upon us all. But as we have always been used to think of it as incurable, we think of it as little as we can; and are hardly aware how greatly it affects the whole course of our affairs, and how prodigious would be the gain to our policy, to our morality, to our civilization itself, if the evil were susceptible of Edition: current; Page: [178] a remedy. This House and the country are now anxiously engaged, and certainly not a day too soon, in considering what can be done for the unrepresented. We are all discussing how many non-electors deserve to be represented, and in what mode to give them representation. But my complaint is that the electors are not represented. The representation which they seem to have, and which we have been quarrelling about the extension of, is a most imperfect and insufficient representation; and this imperfect and insufficient representation is what we are offering to the new classes of voters whom we are creating. Just consider. In every Parliament there is an enormous fraction of the whole body of electors who are without any direct representation, consisting of the aggregate of the minorities in all the contested elections, together with we know not what minorities in those which, from the hopelessness of success, have not even been contested. All these electors are as completely blotted out from the constituency, for the duration of that Parliament, as if they were legally disqualified; most of them, indeed, are blotted out indefinitely, for in the majority of cases those who are defeated once are likely to be defeated again. Here, therefore, is a large portion of those whom the constitution intends to be represented, a portion which cannot average less than a third, and may approximate to a half, who are virtually in the position of non-electors. But the local majorities, are they truly represented? In a certain rough way they are. They have a member or members who are on the same side with themselves in party politics; if they are Conservatives, they have a professed Conservative; if Liberals, a professed Liberal. This is something; it is a great deal, even; but is it everything? Is it of no consequence to an elector who it is that sits in Parliament as his representative, if only he does not sit on the wrong side of the House? Sir, we need more than this. We all desire not only that there should be a sufficient number of Conservatives or of Liberals in the House, but that these should, as far as possible, be the best men of their respective parties; and the elector, for himself, desires to be represented by the man who has most of his confidence in all things, and not merely on the single point of fidelity to a party. Now, this is so entirely unattainable under the present system, that it seems like a dream even to think of itd. As a rule, thed only choice offered to the elector is between the two great parties. There are only as many candidates of each party as there are seats to be filled; to start any others would divide the party, and in most cases ensure its defeat. And what determines who these candidates are to be? Sometimes the mere accident of being first in the field. Sometimes the fact of having stood and been defeated on some previous occasion, when the sensible men of the party did not engage in the contest, because they knew it to be hopeless. In general, half a dozen local leaders, who may be honest politicians, but who may be jobbing intriguers, select the candidate: and whether they are of the one kind or the other, their conduct is much the same—they select the gentleman who will spend Edition: current; Page: [179] most money (Oh!); or, when this indispensable qualification is equally balanced, it answers best to propose somebody who has no opinions but the party ones; for every opinion which he has of his own, and is not willing to abnegate, will probably lose him some votes, and give the opposite party a chance. How many electors are there, I wonder, in the United Kingdom, who are represented by the person whom, if they had a free choice, they would have themselves selected to represent them? In many constituencies, probably not one. eThere might be a single exception.e I am inclined to think that almost the only electors who are represented exactly as they would wish to be, are those who were bribed (a laugh); for they really have got for their fmember the gentlemanf who bribed highest. Sometimes, perhaps, the successful candidate’s own tenants would have voted for him in preference to any one else, however wide a choice had been open to them. But in most cases the selection is the result of a compromise, even the leaders not proposing the man they would have liked best, but being obliged to concede something to the prejudices of other members of the party. Having thus, as I think, made out a sufficient case of evil requiring remedy, let me at once state the remedy I propose. My proposal, then, is this: That votes should be received in every locality, for others than the local candidates. An elector who declines to vote for any of the three or four persons who offer themselves for his own locality, should be allowed to bestow his vote on any one who is a candidate anywhere, whether put up by himself or by others. (Laughter, and Hear, hear.) If the elector avails himself of this privilege, he will naturally vote for the person he most prefers—the one person, among all that are willing to serve, who would represent him best; and if there are found in the whole kingdom other electors, in the proper number, who fix their choice on the same person, that person should be declared duly elected. Some number of electors there must be who may be considered entitled to one representative: what that number is, depends on the numbers of the House, compared with the total number of electors in the country. Suppose that there is one member for every 5,000 registered electors, or one for every 3,000 actual voters: then every candidate who receives 3,000 votes would be returned to this House, in whatever parts of the country his voters might happen to live. (Laughter, and some cries of Hear, hear.) This is the whole of my proposal, as far as its substance is concerned. To give it effect, some subsidiary arrangements are necessary, which I shall immediately state. But I must first notice an objection which presents itself on the threshold, and has so formidable an appearance that it prevents many persons from giving any further consideration to the subject. It is objected, that the plan destroys the local character of the representation. (Hear, hear.) Every constituency, it is said, is a group having certain interests and feelings in common, and if you disperse these groups by allowing the electors to Edition: current; Page: [180] group themselves in other combinations, those interests and feelings will be deprived of their representation. Now I fully admit that the interests and feelings of localities ought to be represented: and I add that they always will be represented; because those interests and feelings exist in the minds of the electors; and as the plan I propose has no effect but to give the freest and fullest play to the individual elector’s own preferences, his local preferences are certain to exercise their proper amount of influence. I do not know what better guardian of a feeling can be wanted than the man who feels it, or how it is possible for a man to have a vote, and not carry his interests and feelings, local as well as general, with him to the polling booth. Indeed, it may be set down as certain that the majority of voters in every locality will generally prefer to be represented by one of themselves, or one connected, with the place by some special tie. It is chiefly those who know themselves to be locally in a minority, and unable to elect a local representative of their opinions, who would avail themselves of the liberty of voting on the new principle. As far as the majority were concerned, the only effect would be that their local leaders would have a greatly increased motive to find out and bring forward the best local candidate that could be had, because the electors, having the power of transferring their votes elsewhere, would demand a candidate whom they would feel it a credit to vote for. The average quality of the local representation would consequently be improved, but local interests and feelings would still be represented, as they cannot possibly fail to be, as long as every elector resides in a locality. If, however, the House attaches any weight to this chimerical danger, I would most gladly accept by way of experiment a limited application of the new principle. Let every elector have the option of registering himself either as a local or as a general voter. Let the elections for every county or borough take place on the local registry, as they do at present. But let those who choose to register themselves as members of a national constituency, have representatives allowed to them in proportion to their number; and let these representatives, and no others, be voted for on the new principle. I will now state the additional, but very simple arrangements, required to enable the plan to work. Supposing 3,000 voters to be the number fixed upon as giving a claim to a representative: it is necessary that no more than this minimum number should be counted for any candidate; for otherwise a few very eminent or very popular names might engross nearly all the votes, and no other person might obtain the required number, or any number that would justify his return. No more votes, then, being counted for any candidate than the number necessary for his election, the remainder of those who voted for him would lose their vote, unless they were allowed to put on their voting paper a second name, for whom the vote could be used if it was not wanted by the candidate who stood first. In case this second candidate also should not need the vote, the voter might add a third, or any greater number, in the order of his preference. This is absolutely all that the elector would have to do, more than he does at present; and I think it must be admitted that this is not a difficult idea to Edition: current; Page: [181] master, and not beyond the comprehension of the simplest elector. The only persons on whom anything more troublesome would devolve are the scrutineers, who would have to sort the voting papers, and see for which of the names written in it each of them ought to be counted. A few simple rules would be necessary to guide the scrutineers in this process. My amendment entrusts the duty of drawing up those rules to the judgment and experience of the right honourable gentleman who presides over our deliberations; subjectg, as in other cases,g to the approbation of the House. (Hear, hear, and a laugh.) Let me now ask honourable members—is there anything in all this, either incomprehensible or insuperably difficult of execution! I can assure the House that I have not concealed any difficulty. I have given a complete, though a brief, account of what most honourable members must have heard of, but few, I am afraid, know much about—the system of personal representation proposed by my eminent friend, Mr. Hare2—a man distinguished by that union of large and enlightened general principles, with an organizing intellect and a rare fertility of practical contrivance, which together constitute a genius for legislation. (Hear, hear.) People who have merely heard of Mr. Hare’s plan have taken it into their heads that it is particularly hard to understand and difficult to execute. But the difficulty is altogether imaginary: to the elector there is no difficulty at all; to the scrutineers, only that of performing correctly an almost mechanical operation. Mr. Hare, anxious to leave nothing vague or uncertain, has taken the trouble to discuss in his book the whole detail of the mode of sorting the voting papers. People glance at this, and because they cannot take it all in at a glance, it seems to them very mysterious. But when was there any act of Parliament that could be understood at a glance? (Hear, hear, and a laugh) and how can gentlemen expect to understand the details of a plan, unless they first possess themselves of its principle? If we were to read a description, for example, of the mode in which letters are sorted at the Post-office, would it not seem to us very complicated? Yet, among so vast a number of letters, how seldom is any mistake made. Is it beyond the compass of human ability to ascertain that the first and second names on a voting paper have been already voted for by the necessary quota, and that the vote must be counted for the third? And does it transcend the capacity of the agents of the candidates, the chief registrar, or a committee of this House, to find out whether this simple operation has been honestly and correctly performed? If these are not insuperable difficulties, I can assure the House that they will find there are no others. Many will think that I greatly over-estimate the importance of securing to every elector a direct representation, because those who are not represented directly are represented indirectly. If Conservatives are not represented in the Tower Hamlets, or Liberals in West Kent, there are plenty of Conservatives and Liberals returned elsewhere; Edition: current; Page: [182] and those who are defeated may console themselves by the knowledge that their party is victorious in many other places. Their hparty, yesh: but is that all we have to look to? Is representation of parties all we have a right to demand from our representative system? If that were so, we might as well put up three flags inscribed with the words, Tory, Whig, and Radical, and let the electors make their choice among the flags, and when they have voted, let the leaders of the winning party select the particular persons who are to represent it. (A laugh.) In this way we should have, I venture to say, an admirable representation of the three parties: all the seats which fell to the lot of each party would be filled by its steadiest and ablest adherents, by those who would not only serve the party best in the House, but do it most credit with the country. All political parties, merely as such, would be far better represented than they are now, when accidents of personal position have so great a share in determining who shall be the Liberal or who the Conservative member for each place. Why is it, then, that such a system of representation would be intolerable to us? Sir, it is because we look beyond parties; because we care for something besides parties; because we know that the constitution does not exist for the benefit of parties, but of citizens; and we do not choose that all the opinions, feelings, and interests of all the members of the community should be merged in the single consideration of which party shall predominate. We require a House of Commons which shall be a fitting representative of all the feelings of the people, and not merely of their party feelings. We want all the sincere opinions and public purposes which are shared by a reasonable number of electors to be fairly represented here; and not only their opinions, but that they should be able to give effect by their vote to their confidence in particular men. Then why, because it is a novelty, refuse to entertain the only mode in which it is possible to obtain this complete reflection in the House of the convictions and preferences existing in the constituent bodyi—to make the House, what we are so often told that it ought to be, the express image of the nationi? By the plan I propose, every elector would have the option of voting for the one British subject who best represented his opinions, and to whom he was most willing to entrust the power of judging for him on subjects on which his opinions were not yet formed. Sir, I have already made the remark, that this proposal is not specially liberal, nor specially conservative, but is, in the highest degree, both liberal and conservative; and I will substantiate this by showing that it is a legitimate corollary from the distinctive doctrines of both parties. Let me first address myself to Conservatives. What is it that persons of conservative feelings specially deprecate in a plan of parliamentary reform? It is the danger that some classes in the nation may be swamped by other classes. What is it that we are warned against, as the chief among the dangers of democracy? not untruly, as democracy is vulgarly conceived and practised. It is that the single class of manual labourers would, by dint of numbers, outvote all other classes, and Edition: current; Page: [183] monopolize the whole of the legislature. But by the plan I propose, no such thing could happen; no considerable minority could possibly be swamped; no interest, no feeling, no opinion which numbered in the whole country a few thousand adherents, need be without a representation in due proportion to its numbers. It is true that by this plan a minority would not be equivalent to a majority; a third of the electors could not outvote two-thirds, and obtain a majority of seats; but a third of the electors could always obtain a third of the seats; and these would probably be filled by men above the average in the influence which depends on personal qualities, for the voters who were outnumbered locally would range the whole country for the best candidate, and would elect him without reference to anything but their personal confidence in him; the representatives of the minorities would, therefore, include many men whose opinion would carry weight even with the opposite party. Then, again, it is always urged by Conservatives, and is one of the best parts of their creed, that the legislators of a nation should not all be men of the same stamp—a variety of feelings, interests, and prepossessions should be found in this House—and it should contain persons capable of giving information and guidance on every topic of importance that is likely to arise. This advantage, we are often assured, has really been enjoyed under our present institutions, by which almost every separate class or interest which exists in the country is somehow represented, with one great exception, which we are now occupied in removing—that of manual labour. And this advantage many Conservatives think that we are now in danger of losing. But the plan I propose ensures this variegated character of the representation in a degree never yet obtained, and guarantees its preservation under any possible extension of the franchise. Even universal suffrage, even the handing over of political predominance to the numerical majority of the whole people, would not then extinguish minorities. Every dissentient opinion would have the opportunity of making itself heard, and heard through the very best and most effective organs it was able to procure. We should not find the rich or the cultivated classes retiring from politics, as we are so often told they do in America, because they cannot present themselves to any body of electors with a chance of being returned. Such of them as were known and respected out of their immediate neighbourhood would be elected in considerable numbers, if not by a local majority, yet by a union of local minorities; and instead of being deterred from offering themselves, it would be the pride and glory of such men to serve in Parliament; for what more inspiring position can there be for any man, than to be selected to fight the uphill battle of unpopular opinions, in a public arena, against superior numbers? (Cries of Agreed, agreed.) All, therefore, which the best Conservatives chiefly dread in the complete ascendancy of democracy would be, if not wholly removed, at least diminished in a very great degree. These are the recommendations of the plan when looked at on its conservative side. Let us now look at it in its democratic aspect. (Agreed, agreed.) I claim for it the support of all democrats, as being the only true realization of their political principles. What Edition: current; Page: [184] is the principle of democracy? Is it not that everybody should be represented, and that everybody should be represented equally? Am I represented by a member against whom I have voted, and am ready to vote again? Have all the voters an equal voice, when nearly half of them have had their representative chosen for them by the larger half? In the present mode of taking the suffrages nobody is represented but the majority. But that is not the meaning of democracy. Honest democracy does not mean the displacement of one privileged class, and the instalment of another in a similar privilege because it is a more numerous or a poorer class. That would be a mere pretence of democratic equality. That is not what the working classes want. The working classes demand to be represented, not because they are poor, but because they are human. No working man with whom I have conversed desires that the richer classes should be unrepresented, but only that their representation should not exceed what is due to their numbers; that all classes should have, man for man, an equal amount of representation. He does not desire that the majority should be alone represented. He desires that the majority should be represented by a majority, and the minority by a minority, and jhe only needs to have it shown to himj how this can be done. But I will go further. It is not only justice to the minorities that is here concerned. Unless minorities are counted, the majority which prevails may be but a sham majority. Suppose that on taking a division in this House you compelled a large minority to step aside, and counted no votes but those of the majority; whatever vote you then took would be decided by the majority of that majority. Does not every one see that this would often be deciding it by a minority? (Laughter and cries of Agreed, agreed.) The mere majority of a majority may be a minority of the whole. Now, what I have been hypothetically supposing to be done in this House, the present system actually does in the nation. It first excludes the minorities at all the elections. Not a man of them has any voice at all in determining the proceedings of Parliament. Well, now, if the members whom the majorities returned were always unanimous, we should be certain that the majority in the nation had its way. But if the majorities, and the members representing them, are ever divided, the power that decides is but the majority of a majority. Two-fifths of the electors, let us suppose, have failed to obtain any representation. The representatives of the other three-fifths are returned to Parliament, and decide an important question by two to one. Supposing the representatives to express the mind of their constituents, the question has been decided by a bare two-fifths of the nation, instead of a majority of it. Thus the present system is no more just to majorities than to minorities. It gives no guarantee that it is really the majority that preponderates. A minority of the nation, if it kbek a majority in the prevailing party, may outnumber and prevail over a real majority in the nation. Majorities are never sure of outnumbering minorities, Edition: current; Page: [185] unless every elector is counted—unless every man’s vote is as effective as any other man’s in returning a representative. No system but that which I am submitting to the House effects this, because it is the only system under which every vote tells, and every constituency is unanimous. This system, therefore, is equally required by the Conservative and by the Radical creeds. In practice, its chief operation would be in favour of the weakest—of those who were most liable to be outnumbered and oppressed. Under the present suffrage it would operate in favour of the working classes. Those classes form the majority in very few of the constituencies, lbut they are a large minority in many, and if they amount, say to a third of the whole electoral body, this system would enable them to obtain a third of the representationl. Under any suffrage approaching to universal, it would operate in favour of the propertied and of the most educated classes; and though it would not enable them to outvote the others, it would msecurem to them and to the interests they represent, a hearing, and a just share in the representation. I am firmly persuaded, Sir, that all parties in this House and in the country, if they could but be induced to give their minds to the consideration of this proposal, would end by being convinced, not only that it is entirely consistent with their distinctive principles, but that it affords the only means by which all that is best in those principles can be practically carried out. It would be a healing, a reconciling measure; softening all political transitions; securing that every opinion, instead of conquering or being conquered by starts and shocks, and passing suddenly from having no power at all in Parliament to having too much, or the contrary, should wax or wane in political power in exact proportion to its growth or decline in the general mind of the country. So perfectly does this system realize the idea of what a representative government ought to be, that its perfection stands in its way, and is the great obstacle to its success. There is a natural prejudice against everything which professes much; men are unwilling to think that any plan which promises a great improvement in human affairs has not something quackish about it. I cannot much wonder at this prejudice, when I remember that no single number of a daily paper is published whose advertising columns do not contain a score of panaceas for all human ills; when, in addition to all the pamphlets which load our tables, every member of this House, I suppose, daily receives private communications of plans by which the whole of mankind may at one stroke be made rich and prosperous, generally, I believe, by means of paper money. But if this age is fertile in new nonsense, and in new forms of old nonsense, it is an age in which many great improvements in human affairs have really been made. It is also an age in which, whether we will or not, we are entering on new paths; we are surrounded by circumstances wholly without example in history; and the wonder would be if exigencies so new could be dealt with in a completely satisfactory manner by the Edition: current; Page: [186] old means. We should therefore ill discharge our duty if we obstinately refused to look into new proposals. This, Sir, is not the mere crotchet of an individual. It has been very few years before the world, but already, by the mere force of reason, it has made important converts among the foremost public writers and public men in Germany, in France, in Switzerland, in Italy, in our Australian colonies, and in the United States. In one illustrious though small commonwealth, that of Geneva, a powerful association has been organized and is at work, under the presidency of one of the most eminent men in the Swiss federation, agitating for the reform of the constitution on this basis.3 And what in our own country? Why, Sir, almost every thinking person I know who has studied this plan, or to whom it has been sufficiently explained, is for giving it at least a trial. Various modes have been suggested of trying it on a limited scale. With regard to the practical machinery proposed, neither I nor the distinguished author of the plan are wedded to its details, if any better can be devised. (Hear.) If the principle of the plan were admitted, a committee or a royal commission could be appointed to consider and report on the best means of providing for the direct representation of every qualified voter, and we should have a chance of knowing if the end we have in view could be attained by any better means than those which we suggest. But without some plan of the kind it is impossible to have a representative system really adequate to the exigencies of modern society. In all states of civilization, and in all representative systems, personal representation would be a great improvement; but, at present, political power is passing, or is supposed to be in danger of passing, to the side of the most numerous and poorest class. Against this class predominance, as against all other class predominance, the personal representation of every voter, and therefore the full representation of every minority, is the most valuable of all protections. Those who are anxious for safeguards against the evils they expect from democracy should not neglect the safeguard which is to be found in the principles of democracy itself. It is not only the best safeguard but the surest and most lasting: because it combats the evils and dangers of false democracy by means of the true, and because every democrat who understands his own principles must see and feel its strict and impartial justice.

[Viscount Cranborne followed Mill, dissenting from the measure as impracticable, but arguing that it should be given a full hearing, as the evil Mill described was a real one. After other speeches, Mill concluded the debate.]

Mr. J. Stuart Mill said, he would obey what appeared to be the general wish of the House, and would not press his Amendment to a division; but there were many things which he might have said in reply if the temper of the House had permitted. He must, however, follow his honourable Friend behind him4 in thanking the Edition: current; Page: [187] noble Lord the Member for Stamford (Viscount Cranborne) for his able speech, and for the conviction he had expressed that statesmen must make up their minds to think upon this subject as the only way of getting over a difficulty that must be got over.5 He must also express his warm acknowledgments to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the manner in which he had dealt with the question.6

[The amendment was withdrawn.]

61.: The Bankruptcy Acts Repeal Bill
4 JUNE, 1867

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 187, col. 1572. Reported in The Times, 5 June, p. 7. Mill spoke in the debate on going into Committee on “A Bill to Repeal Enactments Relating to Bankruptcy in England, and to Matters Connected Therewith,” 30 Victoria (14 Mar., 1867), PP, 1867, I, 377–80.

the laws of this country on the subject of debt have passed, not suddenly, but by a succession of steps, from one bad extreme to another. After having continued the old savage treatment of debtors far into an advanced state of civilization, we have now gradually lapsed into such a state that the debtor may be guilty of any kind of misconduct, short of actual fraud, and escape with practical impunity. Last year, for nearly the whole of the Session, I had a Notice on the Paper for an Instruction to the Committee, that it have power to remedy this evil by introducing provisions for the punishment of such debtors as might be shown on inquiry to have, with culpable temerity, risked and lost property which belonged to their creditors.1 The Bill of last year2 never reached such a stage that I could move that Instruction. The present Bill has passed the stage when a similar Instruction could be proposed. Under these circumstances I shall give my best support to the Amendments to be proposed by the honourable and learned Member for Cambridge (Mr. Selwyn),3 and I shall move other clauses going further in the same direction.

[The discussion concluded with a deferment of the Committee until 7 June, when Edition: current; Page: [188] it was again put off. Mill indicated to Helen Taylor on 10 June that he hoped to speak again on the matter (CW, Vol. XVI, p. 1281), but the Bill was withdrawn without discussion on 11 July.]

62.: Petition Concerning the Fenians
14 JUNE, 1867

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 187, cols. 1894–5. Reported in The Times, 15 June, p. 9, from which variants and responses are taken. On 3 May, John Bright had submitted a petition, signed by Edward Truelove, Richard Congreve, Frederic Harrison, and eight others, condemning Fenianism because of its secrecy and premature dedication to violence, but nonetheless asserting the political nature of the offences, and asking that the sentences already assigned to prisoners be revised, that they be segregated from common criminals, that moderation be shown in applying the law in Ireland, and that Fenian prisoners be treated well before trial, and judged and sentenced leniently (Petition 8687, Reports from the Select Committee of the House of Commons on Public Petitions, 1867–68; the wording is in App. 530, pp. 223–4). The Report now having been printed, Augustus Henry Archibald Anson (1835–77), M.P. for Lichfield, moved (cols. 1886–90) that the petition itself be “discharged” and that its wording in the Appendix be “cancelled,” on the grounds that its aim was to encourage Fenianism and insult the British army. He referred to criticisms made in the House by Perronet Thompson in 1858 concerning the army’s reaction to the Indian Mutiny.

i rise, not for the purpose of discussing the question raised upon the Motion submitted to us, which I cannot imagine, especially after the opposition made to it by the Chairman of the Committee on Petitions,1 that the House will think of adopting. I rise, moved by a feeling of self-respect, to say that if the honourable and gallant Gentleman thought it his duty to move that the petition be expelled from the House, he should go further, and move that I be expelled from it, for there is not a single sentiment in the petitiona, as far as I am aware,a which I do not adopt. (Oh, oh!) I will not say that I adhere to every word in it, but to every sentiment in it I most implicitly do, and I thank my honourable Friend who presented it for having given utterance for once in this House to a feeling which nearly all bEurope and the civilized world entertain, respecting certain acts done Edition: current; Page: [189] in the dependencies of this countryb.2 The honourable and gallant Gentleman is mistaken in supposing that utterance to be an attack on his profession. I have been infinitely more disgusted in reference to the Indian transactions referred to, by the inhuman and ferocious displays of feeling made by unmilitary persons, persons in civil life, who were safe at home, and who, it seems to me, were far more culpable than those who committed excesses under such provocation as there is no denying was given in the case of India. Even the deeds there done of inhuman and indiscriminate massacre, the seizing of persons in all parts of the country and putting them to death without trial, and then boasting of it in a manner almost disgraceful to humanity, cas was the case in innumerable instances which were described at the time,c were by no means confined to the army. I have no doubt that in many cases the habitual discipline of the army, and their professional feelings, prevented them from being guilty of such deeds. I could tell the House of gentlemen who resigned their commissions and left the army because they could not bear the deeds which they not only saw done, but were compelled by their orders to do. (Name, name!) I decline to name them, and by naming them to expose them to attacks (Oh, and Hear) like those which have been made to-night against a well-known public man, formerly a Member of this House, for the vindication of whom I return my sincerest thanks to the honourable Member for Bradford.3 With respect to the sentiments contained in the petition dand its alleged palliation of the conduct ofd the Fenians, I beg to point out that it contains a very decided and strong condemnation of their conduct. All it said was that it was conduct esuch as honourable but mistaken men might be capable ofe. That cannot be denied. It cannot be denied that such men as Wolfe Tone,4 Emmett, and Lord Edward Fitzgerald, however wrongly they may have acted, were the very stuff of which patriot heroes are made. The errors of the Fenians may be more blameable than theirs. Do I exculpate their conduct? Certainly not. It was greatly culpable, because it was contrary to the general interests of society and of their country. Still, errors of this character are not errors which evince a vulgar mind—certainly not a mind likely to be guilty of ordinary crime and vice—rather a mind capable of heroic actions and lofty virtue. Such acts have been committed by the most Edition: current; Page: [190] self-devoted and admirable persons. fHow far that is so in the present instance I am unable to say, because, not knowing the antecedents of those whose conduct was implicated, I cannot form an accurate judgment upon the point. I feel, at the same time, sure that the acts for which they have been made amenable to the law, and which the good of society demands should be punished with severity, do not brand them as detestable, but only as pitiable.f (Hear.)

[After further debate, Anson’s motion was lost.]

63.: The Sunday Lectures Bill
19 JUNE, 1867

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 188, cols. 99–103. Reported in The Times, 20 June, p. 8, from which variants and responses are taken. In moving the second reading of “A Bill to Amend the Act of the 21st Year of George III, c. 49, intitled ‘An Act for Preventing Certain Abuses and Profanations on the Lord’s Day, called Sunday,’ ” 30 Victoria (2 Apr., 1867), PP, 1867, VI, 367–70, John Russell, Viscount Amberley (1842–76), M.P. for Nottingham, pointed out (cols. 89–95) that the Bill affected only lectures and speeches to which admission was charged; it did not apply to amusements, or even to performances of sacred music. Immediately before Mill spoke, Alexander James Beresford Hope (1820–87), M.P. for Stoke-upon-Trent, suggested (cols. 97–9) that a Select Committee should look thoroughly into the whole subject.

there is much good sense and good feeling in the speech of the honourable Member for Stoke-upon-Trent (Mr. Beresford Hope). I agree that it is desirable that this question and others should be dealt with in a much broader way than they usually are by the House. But whose fault is it that they are not? Not my noble Friend’s.1 If I may be permitted to say so, it is the fault of the House, which never will look at any subject except by fractions, and will not consent to legislate otherwise than bit by bit. If it would, there would be many things different in our laws and in our discussions. (Hear.) My noble Friend professes wider views on the subject than correspond with the breadth of the measure he has proposed. In his Bill he has dealt with a small portion, a corner of the subject upon which he thinks it hardly possible that there can be a difference of opinion among reasonable persons. (A laugh.) He gives the House credit for being capable of stopping where it likes, and deciding how far it will or will not go. He thinks that wherever the line Edition: current; Page: [191] ought to be drawn, it ought not to be drawn where it is now; and that there is something to be done in the way of promoting useful and instructive amusements, to call them nothing more, on a Sunday, in place of mere sensualities. I am not going to say anything, although much might be said, about the value of the instruction and recreation which these lectures afford. I am going to put it on the lowest ground, and ask whether you will have these or the public-house. (Hear, hear.) It is true that the honourable Member for Chichester (Mr. J.A. Smith) has proposed, and probably will receive much support in proposing, to take away even this from the working man, and leave him nothing whatever to do on Sunday but to go to church, if he should be so disposed.2 But there is no incompatibility between going to church and going to these lectures also. If you are not able to make the churches so attractive to the class of persons who are most in need of moralizing influences as to induce them to go there, you will, if you induce them not to go to the public-house, be doing some good. I refer to the question of closing the public-houses on Sunday, because that is a remedy which probably many gentlemen would propose. They would say, “You have not to choose between scientific lectures and the public-house, because you may close the public-house, and shut up the working people in their homes,” such as those are. There are two ways of keeping people out of what is considered to be mischief. One is to exclude them from what is regarded as hurtful indulgence, without giving them any other. The other is to facilitate their obtaining indulgences, amusements, recreations, to use no higher term, which if possible may be beneficial, and which certainly cannot be noxious. The latter plan appears to me the better, not only for the interests of society, but for the interests of religion itself. If you prevent any but a strictly religious employment of the Sunday, the only leisure day which is possessed by the mass of working men, what happens? You compel mankind, made as they are of flesh and blood, and needing a great deal which is not provided for by the church service—you compel them to look to the church service, and to their religious observances, not merely for spiritual instruction or spiritual edification, but also for all their excitement, and even for all their amusement. And this has two consequences equally serious and equally mischievous, and certainly equally undesirable in the eyes of arationallya religious people. One is to make the churches places of display, places of amusement and levity. The other is to make them places of boundless fanaticism. (Hear.) Both the love of lighter and the love of serious and grave excitement seek their gratification in this way, when others are denied them. The consequence is, that you are very likely to have, under cover of religious observances, all sorts of worldly feelings and worldly excitement, or else bigotry and fanaticism raised to their highest point. Speaking, therefore, in the Edition: current; Page: [192] interests of religion, it is not desirable that all places but churches should be closed on the only day of leisure which the mass of the community enjoy. Then as to the mode in which Sunday is to be employed bafter a certain portion of it is left open for religious observances, other employments being allowedb, I would ask any reasonable religious person whether, if he cannot have all that he would think best, he ought not to desire to have what is next best—and which he thinks nearest to religion: science, or sensuality? (Hear, hear.) With regard to the question of taking money at the doors for admission to these exhibitions, services, or whatever they are called, I understood my honourable Friend the Member for Perth (Mr. Kinnaird) c—for whom I entertain a degree of respect with which nothing I shall say will be in the slightest degree inconsistent—c to say that those who are anxious to give interesting instruction to the people may do it if they choose to defray the expenses themselves; but that it shall not be allowed that those who seek it shall themselves pay the expenses.3 That may be very well for once, twice, or thrice, but can it be expected to last? Is it to be desired that this instruction should be denied to the working classes unless others are willing to do what they themselves are not allowed to do—namely, to keep up a constant succession of these lectures, at the expense of others, and not at the expense of those who are able and willing to pay for them? Surely that is not what would be thought just and desirable in any other case. But perhaps my honourable Friend is of the opinion which seemed to be entertained by the right honourable Gentleman the Home Secretary (Mr. Gathorne-Hardy) on another occasion, when, with a degree of irascibility which I have not seen him exhibit upon any other subject, he spoke of “miserable philosophers” who are never willing to sacrifice anything for their opinions;4 not perhaps sufficiently considering that “miserable philosophers” have not always the means of making great endowments (hear, hear), and that there seems to be no very strong reason why the promulgation of opinions should be left exclusively to those who are able to provide such endowments. As to the evil consequences which my honourable Friend expects to follow if money is taken at the door on these occasions, which, he appears to think, would necessarily lead to the licensing of all sorts of amusements on Sunday, he does not appear to have sufficient confidence in the legislative capacity of the House, or to believe that it is capable of defining what shall be permitted and what shall not. I may, however, observe to my honourable Friend that this Bill actually does draw a line. My honourable Friend says that he once attended these lectures, and that the great attraction was the sacred music. But the Bill of my noble Friend does not include music. He has purposely excluded it, and therefore, also, the paid singers. With regard to that Edition: current; Page: [193] invidious expression, “paid singers,”5 are not the singers at our cathedrals paid? Is there anything necessarily unedifying in sacred music, because those who even thus humbly minister to the altar live by the altar? (Hear.) With reference to my honourable Friend’s fear that if music were allowed dancing must be allowed also, he cannot be indifferent to, or unaware of, the difference between sacred and other music. Is it not the distinctive characteristic of sacred music that its effect upon the mind is at the same time calming and elevating? and therefore I suppose the best preparation for any desirable and good form of religious sentiment. I am not aware that there is any such thing as sacred dancing (a laugh), at least according to our notions, although there is according to the ideas of other nations. Therefore there is no ground for the apprehensions of my honourable Friend. I apprehend that in this matter it is perfectly possible to draw a line of distinction if we choose to do so; to say what modes of amusement—if we put it only upon that ground—we consider to be, if not absolutely edifying, not inconsistent with edification, and what we think it desirable to put under restraint for one reason or another. As to these reasons, and the extent to which they would carry restraint, probably no two persons in this House are agreed. There is therefore—not that I apprehend there could be any reasonable objection to passing my noble Friend’s Bill—ground for assenting to the proposal of the honourable Member for Stoke, and referring the question to a Select Committee. I concur with him as to the desirability of considering these questions in the broadest possible way, and deciding what are the modes of amusement to which there is no objection, and what are those which, from their more suspicious and more dangerous character, require restraint. It is probable that if a Select Committee be appointed, it will extend rather than restrict the scope of my noble Friend’s Bill, and will find that on no broad principle that can be laid down will it be necessary to restrict the measure so much as my noble Friend has done. If the Bill is read a second time I shall be willing, as I presume from what he said my noble Friend will be, to consent to its being referred to a Select Committee, which will probably receive a great deal of valuable evidence—throw some light upon the subject, and I hope remove some prejudices. (Hear, hear.)

[The Bill was lost (col. 116).]

64.: The Libel Bill
25 JUNE, 1867

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 188, col. 546. Reported in The Times, 26 June, p. 7. In Committee on “A Bill to Amend the Law of Libel, and Thereby to Secure More Effectually the Liberty of the Press,” 30 Victoria (8 Feb., 1867), PP, 1867, III, 391–4, Colman Michael O’Loghlen Edition: current; Page: [194] (1819–77), M.P. for County Clare, moved to add a new clause: “No action or prosecution shall be maintainable for the publication of any defamatory matter contained in any report, paper, votes, or proceedings of either House of Parliament, which either House of Parliament shall have ordered to be published; nor shall any action or prosecution be maintainable against a printer or publisher for the publication of any defamatory matter in any periodical or other publication, if such defamatory matter shall be a true and fair report of the proceedings of either House of Parliament”

(col. 544).

mr. j. stuart mill said, the first part of the clause provided that there should be no remedy for any defamatory matter contained in any document ordered by the House to be printed. Remembering the multifarious sources of the documents which the House ordered to be printed, he could not help thinking that if there was to be no remedy against the public, as there could be none against the House, for the circulation of any defamatory matter, the House could not do less than appoint some person to look carefully over all documents and see that no defamatory matter was needlessly introduced.

[Eventually the clause was withdrawn (col. 547).]

65.: The Reform Bill [6]
27 JUNE, 1867

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 188, cols. 635–8. Reported in The Times, 28 June, p. 7, from which the variant and responses are taken. In a further Committee on the Reform Bill (see No. 50), Disraeli moved a new Clause A to provide for increased polling places (cols. 616–17). To an amendment putting the expenses of elections on the local rates, a sub-amendment was attached, requiring the payment of £50 (boroughs) and £100 (counties) by anyone demanding a poll (col. 627). Joseph Warner Henley (1793–1884), M.P. for Oxfordshire, spoke before Mill, pointing out that in county towns a factious candidate might gain nomination by a show of hands; then the other candidate would have to demand and so be put to the expense of a poll; at present, each candidate put down a deposit.

the right honourable gentleman who has just addressed the House appears to me to have raised a difficulty which is, in fact, no difficulty at all, and which he himself pointed out the means of removing. The obvious remedy against relieving the sham candidate, who might have the show of hands, at the cost of the bonâ fide candidate, with a chance of election, was to require deposits from all. But I cannot help thinking that a great deal too much is said of the danger of sham candidates. The expense of the hustings, or the returning officer’s expenses, are not only a very small part of the expense of elections as they now are; but I am afraid bear a very small proportion to the expense which it is impossible to prevent. Though a great amount of expense, which, though not corrupt, is very noxious, ought to be, and Edition: current; Page: [195] can be, prevented, it is impossible to prevent, or defray out of a public fund, such expenses as those of advertisements, printing, public meetings to address the electors. The candidates of whom all seem so much afraid, and who have no chance of being elected, cannot present themselves to the electors without incurring a certain amount of these expenses, and if they cannot pay these it is obvious nobody need care for their candidature. The honourable and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton) has said that if this sham candidature is kept up, the counties or the other candidates may be put to expense.1 But I have no doubt the general opinion would so strongly condemn this, that it would be hardly possible for anyone who cares for the opinion of the constituency, and wishes to make himself favourably known to them, to present himself in this capacity. It may happen, perhaps, or the public may be led to think, that under this horror of sham candidates there is concealed a greater fear of real candidates. This is, as was well observed by the honourable Member for Stoke-upon-Trent (Mr. Beresford Hope),2 part of a much greater question, that of election expenses generally, with which, in all its parts, this House must necessarily have to deal; and I hope it will see the necessity of dealing with it soon. (Hear, hear.) But this particular expense, though a small part of the total cost of elections, is a part which it is really in the power of the House to control. It is a necessary part of the expenditure of the country, like any other portion of the public charges. If a foreigner asked how this country provided for that part of its expenditure which attends the election of its representatives, would he not be astonished to hear that it was done by a tax on candidates? (Hear, hear.) Of all sorts of taxation, was there ever such a partial and unjust specimen as that would be? But it is really a great deal worse. I can compare it to nothing short of requiring a Judge to pay large sums towards the cost of the administration of justice. It is true that you make men pay for commissions in the army, but you do not apply the price of these commissions towards defraying the expense of the army. Does this House, in any other case, arrange to defray any part of the necessary expenses of the country by a special tax on the individuals who carry on its service? The honourable Member for Stoke-upon-Trent (Mr. Beresford Hope), though he has fears of the consequences of the constitutional change we are making, which I by no means share, has expressed an anxiety in which, I think, we must all participate—a sense of the duty under which this House and the country now lie, to provide for educating, in the morality of politics, that large class who are now for the first time to be admitted to the electoral suffrage. What sort of a lesson are we giving them—what sort of instructions do we offer—when we lead them to believe that the great trust of legislating for this country is a thing to be paid for, that it is worth while paying for it, and that men can be made to pay for it? What more natural than that they should Edition: current; Page: [196] think it might as well be paid for directly to those who confer it? The noble Lord who spoke earlier in the debate (Lord Hotham)3 seems to consider that the law of demand and supply should be left to regulate these matters, so that, in fact, those who are willing to pay money should have a clear field, and that the representation should be knocked down to the highest bidder. That is, perhaps, to a certain extent, done already (a laugh); but the House ought not to extend and perpetuate the practice. There is in this country a large and growing class of persons who have suddenly and rapidly acquired wealth, and to whom it is worth any sacrifice of money to obtain social position. The less they have to recommend them in any other respect—the less chance they have of obtaining a place in what is called good society—esteem, either by qualities useful or ornamental—the more sure they are to resort, if they can, to the only infallible and ready means of gaining their end, the obtaining a seat in this House. This is a growing evil which ought to be guarded against. (Hear.) I hope the Government will deal with this subject in all its parts, as it is certainly highly needful to do; but we have now an opportunity of dealing with one part which is entirely in our control, and which forms an element of the question we are now discussing. We can deal with that small part of election expenses which is an unavoidable part of the expense of governing the country, and which, though the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) said it would be extremely shabby to throw on the constituencies,4 I think it would be a monstrous deal more shabby to throw on the candidates. (Hear, hear, and a laugh.) When a man has no personal object of his own to gain by obtaining a seat in this House, it is not for the House to require that he should pay the expense which the country and the electors incur by his election: if he has any such object, we ought to do everything in our power, and to throw every obstacle in his way, to prevent him from obtaining it by money. Above all, it is our duty to show to the new electors, and that large portion of the old who, I am sorry to say, still need the lesson, that the business of election is a thing far removed from aught of buying and selling; that the business of a Member of this House is a laborious and onerous task, and when not sought from personal motives, one which it requires a high sense of public duty to undertake, and that the burthen, therefore, ought not to be increased by throwing any part of the expense on the candidate. aIf members, indeed, are not to be paid for undertaking the business of legislation, they certainly ought not to be made to pay for leave to govern the country.a (Cheers and laughter.) We ought, above all things, to show the electors that they are doing what we and the world consider disgraceful, if they put the candidate to any expense, and thus tempt him to use his seat for his personal advantage. (Hear.)

[Both the sub-amendment and the amendment were defeated.].

Edition: current; Page: [197]

66.: Redistribution
28 JUNE, 1867

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, Edition: current; Page: [198] 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.) Edition: current; Page: [199] 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 Edition: current; Page: [200] 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 Edition: current; Page: [201] 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).]

67.: William Lloyd Garrison
29 JUNE, 1867

Proceedings at the Public Breakfast Held in Honour of William Lloyd Garrison, Esq., of Boston, Massachusetts, in St. James’s Hall, London, on Saturday, June 29th, 1867. Revised by the Speakers; with an Introduction by F.W. Chesson, and Opinions of the Press (London: Tweedie, 1868), pp. 33–5. Reported in full in the Morning Star, and much compressed in the Daily News; the Daily Telegraph gives only a one-sentence summary of Mill’s remarks. Some 300–400 people, including a large number of women, sat down to breakfast, with John Bright in the Chair. After letters were read from the American Ambassador and the Comte de Paris, regretting their inability to attend, Bright gave a lengthy eulogy of William Lloyd Garrison (1805–79), the prominent anti-slavery advocate and pacifist. Then George Douglas Campbell (1823–1900), Duke of Argyll, read an address to Garrison composed by Goldwin Smith. Argyll was followed by Lord Russell; then Mill spoke.

mr. chairman, ladies, and gentlemen,—The speakers who have preceded me have, with an eloquence far beyond anything which I can command, laid before our honoured guest the homage of admiration and gratitude which we all feel is due to his heroic life. Instead of idly expatiating upon things which have been far better said than I could say them, I would rather endeavour to recall one or two lessons Edition: current; Page: [202] applicable to ourselves, which may be drawn from his career. A noble work nobly done always contains in itself, not one, but many lessons; and in the case of him whose character and deeds we are here to commemorate, two may be singled out specially deserving to be laid to heart by all who would wish to leave the world better than they found it.

The first lesson is,—Aim at something great; aim at things which are difficult; and there is no great thing which is not difficult. (Hear, hear.) aDo not pare down your undertaking to what you can hope to see successful in the next few years, or in the years of your own life.a Fear not the reproach of Quixotism band impracticability, or to be pointed at as the knight-errants of an idea. (Hear, hear, and a laugh.) Afterb you have well weighed what you undertake, if you see your way clearly, and are convinced that you are right, go forward, even though you, like Mr. Garrison, do it at the risk of being torn to pieces by the very men through whose changed hearts your purpose will one day be accomplished. (Cheers.) cFight on with all your strength against whatever odds, and with however small ac band of supporters. (Hear, hear.) If you are right, the time will come when that small band will swell into a multitude: you will at least lay the foundations of something memorable, and you may, like Mr. Garrison—though you ought not to need or expect so great a reward—be spared to see that work completed which, when you began it, you only hoped it might be given to you to help forward a few stages on its way. (Cheers.)

The other lesson which it appears to me important to enforce, amongst the many that may be drawn from our friend’s life, is this: if you aim at something noble and succeed in it, you will generally find that you have succeeded not in that alone. A hundred other good and noble things which you never dreamed of will have been accomplished by the way, and the more certainly, the sharper and more agonizing has been the struggle which preceded the victory. The heart and mind of a nation are never stirred from their foundations without manifold good fruits. In the case of the great American contest, these fruits have been already great, and are daily becoming greater. The prejudices which dbeset every form of societyd—and of which there was a plentiful crop in America—are rapidly melting away. The chains of prescription have been broken; it is not only the slave who has been freed1—the mind of America has been emancipated. (Loud cheers.) The whole intellect of the country has been set thinking about the fundamental questions of society and government; and the new problems which have to be solved, and the Edition: current; Page: [203] new difficulties which have to be encountered, eare calling forth new activity of thought, and that great nation is savede, probably for a long time to come, from the most formidable danger of a completely settled state of society and opinion—intellectual and moral stagnation. (Hear, hear.) This, then, is an additional item of the debt which America and mankind owe to Mr. Garrison and his noble associates; and it is well calculated to deepen our sense of the truth which his whole career most strikingly illustrates—that though our best directed efforts may often seem wasted and lost, nothing coming of them that can be pointed to and distinctly identified as a definite gain to humanity; though this may happen ninety-nine times in every hundred, the hundredth time the result may be so great and dazzling that we had never dared to hope for it, and should have regarded him who had predicted it to us as sanguine beyond the bounds of mental sanity. So has it been with Mr. Garrison. (Loud cheers.)

[The address was passed unanimously, and Garrison spoke to great applause. Other speeches followed, and the meeting concluded with the customary vote of thanks to the Chair.]

68.: Martial Law
2 JULY, 1867

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 188, cols. 912–14. Reported in The Times, 3 July, p. 7, from which the variants and response are taken. The debate was on a motion (col. 903), based on a charge by the Lord Chief Justice to the Grand Jury at the Central Criminal Court on 10 April, 1867, that would make it clear that martial law could not be invoked in the United Kingdom.

there appears to be, as far as the discussion has gone on both sides of the House, a real disposition to consider this question with reference to the future rather than the past. Certainly it is most desirable that when we are considering what is essentially a question of legislation, we should not allow ourselves to be diverted to the consideration of past transactions any further than they throw light upon questions which may exist or arise in the future. At the same time it appears to me that certain considerations of great importance have not yet been touched upon, and which I think it is particularly necessary should not remain unstated when we see an obvious desire to explain away and get rid of the effect of the Charge of the Lord Chief Justice of England.1 I do not mean to say that what has been stated by Edition: current; Page: [204] the right honourable Gentleman the Home Secretary in diminution of the validity, in a legal point of view, of this Charge is unfounded.2 We know, on the contrary, that it is well founded. We know that the Charge to the Grand Jury is not law, because it has not undergone the preliminary processes necessary to make it law. At the same time there can be no doubt that such a declaration as this Charge contains, supported by such a catena of authorities afrom the very earliest period of our historya, and coming from a Judge of such high character and reputation, so elaborately produced and bearing the marks it does of most diligent and careful study, is, at all events, an exceedingly strong corroboration of that view of this subject which some of us have taken from the beginning, and which I will briefly state. Our opinion has beenb—and it has been confirmed by this charge—b that the law is what I shall now venture to state, and that if it has not been so, it ought to be made so. Our opinion was, that there is not, properly speaking, as regards non-military persons, such a thing as martial law, and that it has no existence except for military cpurposesc. Of course, Parliament can give it existence, because Parliament can make any law, however inexpedient or unjust. But the Crown, being only one branch of Legislature, cannot dmake that to be law which is not lawd. We have thought that, although there was no such thing as martial law, except for military purposes, there was a law of necessity. There may be a public necessity in case of rebellion, requiring that certain acts not justified by the ordinary law of the country should be done; but these acts should be acts of suppression and not of punishment. Now, a point which has not been noticed, and to which I attach the highest importance, is this—that in a case of public necessity, as in any analogous case of private necessity, those who act upon it, and do under the supposed necessity that which they would not ordinarily be justified in doing, should be amenable to the laws of their country for so doing. As in the case of killing any person in self-defence, so in the case of putting any person to death in defence of the country, the person who does it ought to have the onus thrown upon him of satisfying the ordinary tribunals of the country that this necessity existed. What, therefore, we say does not exist, and ought not to exist, and which if it does exist we should do our utmost to put an end to, is, the idea that any proceeding, such as a declaration of martial law, can or ought to exempt those who act upon it from amenability to the laws of their country. We contend that the law of necessity, of which nobody denies the existence, would justify the Executive in doing these things if no such thing as martial law had ever been heard of, and that by using the term martial law you ought not to be able to get rid of all responsibility. We demand that the officers of the Government of this country Edition: current; Page: [205] should not be able to escape or get out of the region and jurisdiction of the law; but, that whatever they do, if it be against the law, they should be compelled to justify. They must show the necessity which existed, not to the satisfaction of a court martial merely, but of the regular tribunals of the country. When it is said by the right honourable Gentleman the Home Secretary that it is much better that the officers who intend to assume this power, and act on this supposed necessity, should declare beforehand their intention of doing so,3 by all means let them do so; but do not let them, or any one else, think that by using the term martial law, or by announcing that they mean to make a military tribunal one of the instruments by which they will exercise their power of superseding the law, they will clear themselves from all responsibility. (Hear, hear.)

[The motion was withdrawn (col. 918).]

69.: The Reform Bill [7]
4 JULY, 1867

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 188, cols. 1024, 1026, 1029. Reported in The Times, 5 July, p. 7, from which the response is taken. The variants are taken from the report in the St. Stephen’s Chronicle, Vol. IV, pp. 426–7. The discussion in Committee of the Reform Bill (see No. 50) turned to a new clause: “That no committee of any candidate . . . shall sit, or hold any meeting, or transact any business . . . in any hotel, tavern, public-house, or other building licensed . . . for the sale or consumption of wine, spirits, beer, porter, or other intoxicating liquors; and if any such candidate shall, by himself or his agents, cause or permit any breach of this enactment, the Return of such candidate shall be null and void, and no expenses incurred by such committee [in these circumstances] . . . shall be recoverable by law from such committee . . . or from any such candidate . . .” (col. 1019). Mill spoke on an amendment by Joseph Henley (cols. 1023–4) to change “of any candidate” to “appointed by any candidate,” immediately after Gabriel Goldney (1813–1900), M.P. for Chippenham, had pointed out that people quite unknown to the candidate could constitute themselves a committee and call a meeting in a public house.

mr. j. stuart mill said, he thought the object which the honourable Gentleman who had just sat down, as well as that the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire had in view, was a legitimate one. He would suggest that if some such word as “sanction” were substituted for the word “permit,” the clause would be made efficient for its purpose.

[Mill’s second intervention came after Gathorne-Hardy had commented (col. Edition: current; Page: [206] 1026) that it was preposterous to make candidates liable for practices over which they often had no control.]

Mr. J. Stuart Mill said, he would remind the right honourable Gentleman that the first part of the clause did not touch the candidate. (Hear, hear.) He also proposed to insert the word “sanction” instead of “permit,” as to the second part amaking the election void only if the expense were sanctioned or permitted by the candidatea.

[Henley’s amendment was successful; it was then moved to insert “or on behalf of” after “appointed by” (col. 1026), and the Attorney General suggested “no committee appointed by or with the consent of any candidate” as a better alternative; Mill’s third intervention was in reply.]

Mr. J. Stuart Mill said, that in that case the committee might be appointed first and sanctioned afterwards. bHe thought that “recognized by” was much more satisfactory than “with the consent of.”b

[That amendment being lost, another was offered, to insert “acting on behalf of and with the consent of” (col. 1029), prompting Mill’s fourth comment, which was not acted upon.]

Mr. J. Stuart Mill said, he would suggest the addition of the words “recognized by.”

[Eventually the whole clause was rejected.]

70.: Tancred’s Charity Bill
4 JULY, 1867

Saint Stephen’s Chronicle, Vol. IV, p. 432. Not in PD. Reported in The Times, 5 July, p. 8, from which the variant is taken. The debate was on Shaw Lefevre’s motion to go into Committee on “A Bill [as Amended by the Select Committee] for Continuing a Scheme of the Charity Commissioners for the Several Charities Founded by the Settlement and Will of Christopher Tancred of Whixley in the County of York, Esquire, Deceased,” 30 & 31 Victoria (25 June, 1867), PP, 1867, VI, 381–4. Mill spoke immediately after Lefevre.

mr. j.s. mill said this was a question of considerable importance, and he trusted, therefore, that the noble lord1 would not press the Bill forward at so late an hour (a Edition: current; Page: [207] quarter to 1 o’clock) aas there were various amendments on the paper, all of them worthy of discussion. (Hear, hear.)a

[After Montagu replied and Ayrton spoke, the House went into Committee.]

71.: The Reform Bill [8]
5 JULY, 1867

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 188, cols. 1102–7. Reported in The Times, 6 July, p. 8, from which one variant and the responses are taken. The concluding sentence is taken from the report in the St. Stephen’s Chronicle, Vol. IV, pp. 442–4. The discussion in Committee of the Reform Bill (see No. 50) turned to a new clause proposed by Robert Lowe (M.P. for Calne): “At any contested Election for a County or Borough represented by more than two Members, and having more than one seat vacant, every voter shall be entitled to a number of votes equal to the number of vacant seats, and may give all such votes to one candidate or may distribute them among the candidates as he thinks fit” (col. 1068). John Bright (M.P. for Birmingham) had argued (cols. 1090–7) that he had always invited the House “to march along the ancient paths of the Constitution,” while Lowe’s plan would put an end to contests for representation.

i hope my honourable Friend the Member for Birmingham will forgive me if the highly Conservative speech which he has delivered, almost the first which I ever heard him deliver with which I could not sympathize, has not converted me from the eminently democratic opinions which I have held for a great number of years. (A laugh.) I am very glad that my honourable Friend stated so candidly the extremely Conservative vein of thought and tone of feeling which is the foundation of his political feelings. It is true that it is almost as opposite a frame of mind from my own as it is possible to conceive; but, fortunately, in the case of most of the practical questions that we have to decide we draw nearly the same conclusions from our so different premises. Nevertheless, I am extremely glad that my honourable Friend has shown that it is upon the principle of standing by old things, and resisting new-fangled notions, that his antipathy to the proposal of my right honourable Friend the Member for Calne, which I most strongly support, has been derived. It is the less necessary that I should address the House at any length upon this question, because on a previous occasion I expressed myself strongly in favour of the principles upon some of which this Motion rests,1 and expressed my strong sense of the necessity for a change in our mode of election, directed in some degree to the same ends as those pointed out by this almost insignificant makeshift—a makeshift not, however, without considerable real efficacy, and resting in part upon the same principles upon which Mr. Hare’s system of personal representation Edition: current; Page: [208] is founded. There are two principles which we must mainly regard. In the first place, it appears to me that any body of persons who are united by any ties, either of interest or of opinion, should have, or should be able to have, if they desire it, influence and power in this House proportionate to that which they exercise out of it. This, of course, excludes the idea of applying such a system as this to constituencies having only two Members, because in that case its application would render a minority of one-third equal to a majority. The other principle upon which I support the representation of minorities is because I wish—although this may surprise some honourable Members—that the majority should govern. We heard a great deal formerly about the tyranny of the majority, but it appears to me that many honourable Gentlemen on both sides of the House are now reconciled to that tyranny, and are disposed to defend and maintain it against us democrats.2 My own opinion is, that any plan for the representation of minorities must operate in a very great degree to diminish and counteract the tyranny of majorities. I wish to maintain the just ascendancy of majorities, but this cannot be done unless minorities are represented. The majority in this House is got at by the elimination of two minorities. You first eliminate at the election the minority out of the House, and then upon a division you eliminate the minority in the House. Now, it may very well happen that those combined minorities would greatly out-number the majority which prevails in this House, and consequently that the majority does not now govern. The true majority can only be maintained if all minorities are counted; if they are counted there is only one process of elimination, and only one minority left out. Perhaps I may be allowed to answer one or two objections which have been made to the proposal of my right honourable Friend.3 The right honourable Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies urged that, according to our constitution, representation should be by communities, and upon that subject he said several things with which it is impossible not to agree.4 But it seems to me that this is one of many remarkable proofs now offering themselves, that honourable Gentlemen opposite, not content with coming to our opinions, are now adopting our arguments. For instance, the right honourable Gentleman insisted upon the greatness of the mistake of supposing that the country was divided into a majority and a minority, instead of into majorities and minorities. I have said that myself I should think at least 500 times. The right honourable Gentleman said one thing that perfectly amazed me. He said, as we all admit, that it was wrong that the representative of any community should represent it only in a single aspect, should represent only one interest—only its Tory or its Liberal opinions; and he added that, at present, this was not the case, but that such a state of things would be produced by the adoption of this proposal. I apprehend that then, even more than Edition: current; Page: [209] now, each party would desire to be represented, and would feel the importance of getting itself represented by those men who would be most acceptable to the general body of the constituency; and therefore on all other points, except that of being Liberals or Tories, those Members would represent the constituencies fully as much, if not more, than they do now. The right honourable Gentleman thinks that the local communities ought to be represented as units,5 but that is not my opinion. For example, the right honourable Gentleman would contend that if a Member were elected by two-thirds of a constituency he ought to sit in that House as representing the whole. If that were the case they would evidently pass for what they are not. I have no idea of Members sitting in this House as the representatives of mere names of places, or bricks and mortar, or some particular part of the terrestrial globe, in different localities. What we want is the representation of the inhabitants of those places. If there should be a place in which two-thirds of the constituency are Conservative, and one-third Liberal, it is a falsehood to contend that the Conservative Member represents the Liberals of that place. On the other hand, if there were three Members for such a place, two of whom represented the majority, and the third the minority, there would be a full representation of the constituency, and certainly a far more accurate representation than if a man returned by a simple majority assumed to represent the whole constituency. Another objection made and insisted upon by my honourable Friend below me, in one of the most eloquent parts of his speech,6 and in the spirit of which I quite agree, is that the effect of this system will be to put an end to contests at elections, and to all the instruction they afford, and all the public spirit and interest in public affairs which they excite. This appears to me to be an opinion, which only the extreme dislike that my honourable Friend professes for everything new in politics prevents him from seeing to be an entire mistake. The fault which my honourable Friend and others find with the proposed mode of election is one that is in an eminent degree attributable to the existing system; because under that system wherever it is known from the state of the registration aor from previous electionsa that one side is able to return all the Members, the other side now take little or no interest in the election, and therefore it will be evident that if those persons who cannot be represented in their own locality cannot obtain a representation elsewhere, representation, so far as they are concerned, will be a perfectly effete institution. What is it that induces people when they are once beaten at an election to try again? Is it not the belief that possibly a change has taken place in the opinions of at least some of the electors, or that, at all events, there has been such a change in the general feeling of the constituency that there is some chance of their being returned, and therefore there is a sufficient motive to induce them to try Edition: current; Page: [210] again? But that motive never can exist under the present system where there is so great a discrepancy between the parties as two-thirds and one-third, because in no case can one-third of the constituency ever hope to convert itself into a majority. What motive, then, is there for trying? But under the new system, suppose the minority obtains one Member out of three, the minority can always try for the second seat, and precisely the same motive will exist if the parties should be nearly equal. Indeed, in such a case, the motive would be all the stronger, because then the majority will try to get all the members. What will be the case where there are three Members to be returned? The majority of two-thirds will only have two of the Members, and if any change in opinion takes place favourable to the minority they will always be in a position to bid for the third seat; so that I apprehend the healthy excitement of contest in an election, which follows from the existence of the motives which will induce persons to embark in the struggle, will be more certainly guaranteed by the more perfect representation of the constituency. It has been argued by my honourable Friend below me, and it has been several times insisted on by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the Executive will be rendered very weak by the adoption of this principle,7 and I must own that there is some truth and justice in that argument. But the House cannot fail to perceive that so long as you give to the minority the same power as is possessed by the majority, it is perfectly clear that there may be a large majority of the constituency in favour of the Government, while there may be no majority in the House. At the present moment we do not care what majority the Government may have in the country; all that we want is to prevent it having a large majority in the House. No one is more opposed to such a state of things than I am; but the practical application is, that we wish to prevent the Government having a large majority in the House, with a small majority in the country. That is the case in Australia, as was very strongly exemplified on the question of Free Trade and protection, and also in the United States, where there is a moderate difference in the constituencies between one party, and the other, but a very much greater difference in the House of Representatives. (Hear, hear.) When the right honourable Gentleman says that this system will make a weak Government, my answer is that it is not desirable that a Government should be a strong one, if it rests on a small majority of the constituencies; nor is it desirable that a Government should be lured on and deceived by a great majority in the House; because a very small change in the constituencies would be sufficient to deprive them of that majority, and it is not desirable that the policy of the Government should be tumbled about from one extreme to the other (hear, hear) when the opinion of the constituency is almost equally divided between the two parties. I quite agree with my honourable Friend Edition: current; Page: [211] the Member for Birmingham, that in revolutionary times it is necessary that a party should be as strong as possible while the fight lasts, since the sooner the fighting is over the better.8 But although in such a case there should be a decisive predominance, such times are exceptional, and circumstances do not apply which apply in ordinary and peaceful times. They are times for which we cannot legislate or adapt our ordinary institutions. Under such circumstances men may be obliged to dispense with all law, and, if necessary, to have a dictatorship in the hands of one man, but that is altogether an exceptional case. I am extremely anxious that the feeling should not get abroad, from the circumstance of the right honourable Member for Calne having brought forward this proposal, and from its being so largely supported by Gentlemen on the other side of the House, that this is essentially a Conservative “move,” and is intended solely for the purpose of doing away as far as possible with the effect of the Reform Bill now before us. I have always entertained these opinions, long before the introduction of this Reform Bill, and although I never supposed that I should see such a Reform as this adopted in my life, I have protested and reprobated oppression of this kind, on whichever side it has been practised. The only reason why it can be said that it is brought forward as a Conservative measure, and in aid of Conservatives, is that it really operates in favour of those who are likely to be weakest; it is those who are in danger of being outnumbered and subjected to the tyranny of a majority who are protected. I have always been afraid that the Conservative party would not see the necessity of these things until they actually saw that it is their interest, and that they would not see it until the power has passed away to the other side. Had they taken up the question four or five years ago they might by this time have made it the general opinion of the country, and have led the masses of the people to be more just when their time came than they have been to them. (Hear, hear.) Their eyes are not so soon opened to those things which appear to be against them as they are to those that are in their favour; but there are minds on the other side of the House quite capable of seeing the value and importance of the principle, and of representing it with such effect that ultimately the principle of the representation of minorities will be generally adopted. bUpon the understanding that it is not to be supposed that those opinions with reference to the proposed system of voting are not peculiarly applicable to the circumstances of the Reform Bill, no one will more heartily and cordially welcome the opinions of honourable Gentlemen opposite than I will.b

[Mill was a teller for the “Ayes,” who were defeated, 173 to 314.]

Edition: current; Page: [212]

72.: The Case of Fulford and Wellstead
5 JULY, 1867

PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 188, cols. 1157–8. Reported in The Times, 6 July, p. 10, from which variants and responses are taken. P.A. Taylor (1819–91), M.P. for Leicester, moved an address for a copy of the deposition that had led in the preceding March to the conviction by the Salisbury Bench of County Magistrates of Henry Fulford and Mark Wellstead for poaching. (See No. 66, n4, for details.) Taylor implied that their conviction, based on the evidence of a gamekeeper that was controverted by relatives and other witnesses, was unjust. Mill spoke immediately after Gathorne-Hardy (cols. 1153–7) had attacked Taylor’s views.

mr. j. stuart mill said, that since he had the honour of being a Member of that House he had never heard so unjustifiable an attack made upon any Member of it (loud cries of Oh!), as that which had been made on his honourable Friend by so high a functionary as the right honourable Gentleman. That right honourable Gentleman had not shaken a single word of the statement which had been made. The right honourable Gentleman had only misstated what his honourable Friend had said, being too angry to attend to him. (Oh, oh.) The right honourable Gentleman said the magistrates believed the evidence given before them to be true;1 but the whole strength of the case was that the tendency of magistrates was always to believe the evidence of gamekeepers. (Oh, oh.) Whether that was so or not, it was the general opinion, and this was an extraordinary and emphatic corroboration of that opinion. It was not denied that Pilgrim had made an unfortunate mistake as to identity before, and that on his evidence this person was found guilty, notwithstanding the other evidence and that the error was not corrected until evidence had been produced in addition—namely, the self-crimination of other persons. One would think it was the imperative duty of the magistrates to sift the matter to the very bottom, and to take care that the whole should be perfectly understood, so that they might be sure that they were not continuing to perpetrate a great injustice. As to appealing to Quarter Sessions, aour unfortunate labouring classesa in the rural districts were not likely to appeal from magistrates to magistrates; they were binf