It’s great to see that the press hasn’t changed much in 175 years. This is a report from The Times in 1839, having a go at Sir Josh.
Sneaking Visit Of The Sneaking President Of The Board Of Trade To The Sneaking Mayor Of Liverpool
The Right Hon. Henry Labouchere, the President of the Board of Trade, was entertained at the Town-hall, Liverpool by the Whig Mayor, on Friday last. He arrived from Manchester, where it is said he has been sounding the leading Whigs as to his chances of being returned for that borough in the ever of the anticipated retirement of Mr. Greg. The hon. gentleman was sojourning in Manchester with Mr. Mark Philips M.P., Mr. Greg’s brother-in-law. Your reporter having been given to understand that Mr..Labouchere’s visit to Liverpool was of a public nature, made application to the mayor for admission to report the proceedings, the answer to which was, ” That the mayor had. not yet determined on the course to be pursued with respect to reporters at the dinner.”
No further notice having been taken of the application up to the day of the ” banquet” the reporter to “ The Times ” again wrote to his worship for a decided answer, stating that he did not presume to dictate what course the Mayor ought to pursue, but reminding him that the last time when the Mayor of Liverpool entertained a public character (Lord J. Russell) his Lordship was misreported by an amateur reporter. To this application the Mayor returned the following answer-:
“ The Mayor has now given the fullest consideration to the application of the reporter of The Times, and, with every disposition at all times to accede to any request from. the press, so far as may be properly within his power, he is obliged to decline the present application on the ground that the dinner to which Mr. Labouchere is invited is not public, but private.
Town-hall, Dec 20 ”
It was subsequently ascertained, that the liberal Mayor “with every disposition to accommodate the press,” admitted some of his own creatures, who of course would report nothing more than was suited to his worship’s views.
The following brief account of the proceedings is from one of them, published in a Liverpool paper of Saturday :-
“Visit To Liverpool Of The President Of The Board Of Trade.
“Yesterday, Mr. Labouchere, the President of the Board of Trade paid a visit to Liverpool, as the invited guest of our worthy chief magistrate. The right hon. gentleman received during tho day, a number of deputations from the several commercial associations of the town, at the Town -hall, at intervals (on each introduction) of half an hour.
He was waited upon on the part of the following bodies successively,
The American Chamber of Commerce.
Deputations from the Associated Bodies, Mr. W. M. Duncan, secretary.
The Anti-Corn-law Association, Mr. H.T. Atkinson, Honorary Secretary.
Duty on Slave-grown Sugar Association, represented by, Messrs, Sandbach and Tinne.
These occupied the attention of the right hon. gentleman from half-past 1 to half-past 3 o’clock.
At the latter hour Mr. Labouchere, accompanied by the Mayor, appeared on ‘Change, where he was warmly received. He then visited the News-room, where, as well as on ‘Change, the concourse of merchants and others was unusually dense. On his entering the News-room, the rush at the door was more than inconvenient to those who fell within its vortex.
The right hon. gentleman, on reaching the centre of the room, was received with loud and repeated cheers. Before these had subsided, a few foolish and fashionably-dressed young men, near the door, set up a sort of ass, demonstrative at once of their want of courtesy to a stranger and a highly- respectable and able gentleman, and of their own close affinity to the animal whose cry they imitated. These very partial and contemptible tokens of disapprobation were speedily drowned amidst renewed cheers, clapping of hands, and other demonstrations of welcome to the distinguished visitor. Three cheers were then proposed for the mayor, and the call was heartily responded to. Three cheers were next proposed for ” Sir Robert, “ and the response was most vehement and enthusiastic. Some one rather faintly, and not generally heard in the room, then proposed ” three cheers for the Queen “ ; but the respectable parties present, considering the place and the occasion altogether unsuitable for a demonstration of political feeling (which it was sought to exhibit in a sort of ‘pothouse’ sort of fashion, that might not have concluded till midnight.) very properly refrained from a response. Mr. Labouchere met with the kindest reception from numbers of our most respectable citizens ; and, when he left the room, many of them accompanied him back to the town-hall.
At 4 o’clock he there met a deputation on the trade with the Royal and Brazilian Association, headed by Mr. Alderman Moon.
At 5 o’clock he met a deputation of the Hayti [sic, Haiti] trade, consisting of Mr. Alderman Sheil, Mr. Killock, Mr. Greenshiel, Mr. Maunder, and Mr. Mocatta, who, we learn, represented to the right hon. gentleman the impolicy of forcing coffee produced in foreign colonies to be sent to the Cape of Good Hope and brought back, in order that it might be introduced into this country at the lower duty of 9d. per pound.
We are unable to give the replies of Mr. Labouchere to the several deputations, but are informed that he did not enter into lengthened arguments on each particular topic, but stated that he felt assured the important representations made, when laid before Government, would receive the most anxious and careful consideration, with a view to meet the wishes of the parties, and thereby promote tho commercial welfare of the community.
At 6 o’clock, the right hon. gentleman and the other guests of the Mayor, to the number of 80, principally merchants, sat down to a most splendid dinner in the banquet- room of the Town-hall. After the toasts of ‘ the Queen’ and ‘the Queen Dowager,’ the Mayor gave the health of their distinguished visiter, Mr. Labouchere, and the other members of Her Majesty’s Ministry.
Mr. Labouchere in a feeling reply, said that he was proud to address so large an assemblage of commercial gentlemen, who, though necessarily entertaining different shades of political opinion, were all united in the great common object, the happiness and prosperity of their native country. He was aware that in the office which he had the honour to fill he had succeeded a gentleman of great ability and practical knowledge, and that he must necessarily appear to disadvantage; but he hoped, by imitating the example of his predecessor, and availing himself of tho suggestions of such able individuals as he had that day met, to conduce to the commercial advancement of this great empire. From an early period in life his interests and his hopes had been bound up with its trading prosperity and welfare. He had visited several of the manufacturing towns, and regretted that he could but stay one day longer in this second city of the kingdom. He had that day received a number of deputations, and during the remainder of his stay he should be glad to communicate with others, and to avail himself of any information from them or from individuals in any way connected with the objects and duties of his office. He concluded by proposing ‘ Prosperity to the town and commerce of Liverpool,’ and sat down amidst much cheering.
Sir J. Tobin acknowledged the toast in a very feeling and appropriate manner.
The health of the Mayor was afterwards drunk, to which he made a suitable and eloquent response.
Several other appropriate toasts were given,and replied to. Not the slightest feeling of political dissension was manifested, and the meeting separated highly gratified by the splendid hospitality of the evening, and the sentiments of universal good-will so eloquently expressed.”
It will be seen, from the above account, that at ” the private” visit of the President of the Board of Trade to the Mayor of Liverpool, public business was transacted with deputations from no less than six associated public bodies representing the interests of an immense number of the mercantile community. Such is the anxiety evinced by the Whigs to afford facilities to the press in their arduous duties of furnishing information to the public.
The following is another account of Mr. Labouchere’s visit published in a Liverpool paper to-day:-
“This gentleman, who has lately been at Manchester, it is supposed on an electioneering expedition, and whose intention to visit Liverpool had been rather pompously notified in the Radical prints, received some addresses and deputations yesterday morning at the Town-hall.
Precisely at half-past 3 o’clock,according to an announcement which had been pretty extensively circulated – (not publicly, of course), the right hon. gentleman, accompanied by, or rather walking side by side with, his worship, the Mayor of Liverpool, Mr. Joshua Walmsley, and followed by a rush of gentlemen, most of them excited by curiosity, entered the Exchange news-room, which, as is usual at that hour, was already pretty well thronged. The right hon.- gentleman and his worship (the latter of whom, by the by, looked magnificently humble, or humbly magnificent-which you like) having entered at the centre door, walked up the room for a few yards amidst complete silence.
Then the presence of the distinguished guest or visitant having become known, there was – what do you think ? Oh, such a feeble war ! – nine persons and a half squeaking out, as if they were ashamed of themselves, ‘ Hurrah !’ whilst a strong bass of hisses accompanied the treble of applause. ( You had better not say, however, a ‘bass of hisses,’ or Parson Aspinall may perhaps pun upon it on Monday, and say it was very base.) Well, that ‘ hurrah,’ like a still-born child, or a bubble, or a tobacco-puff, or some other thing equally evanescent, having passed away, and without the slightest attempt at repetition, there was about three seconds of dead silence, during which, as I suppose, the ‘ worthy gentlemen’ were still progressing upwards-not towards heaven, I don’t mean, but towards the top of the room. I followed, as fast as I could push myself through the crowd, but at last got to a standstill, and then the three seconds of dead silence having expired – that is gone dead – there arose a shout from some person whom I could not see- (I don’t -say it was from Charles Jackall Atkinson or whatever that renowned would-be town-councillor calls himself – he has so many names, I quite forget his present one-but I do know that the jackall was loitering about the room to wait upon the ‘lion,’ or ‘ lions’) – well, there was a shout, from some one, of. ‘ Three cheers for the Mayor‘ and the order was obeyed to the very letter. There were three cheers – that is, three persons (calculating nine tailors-to make a man) shouted out ‘hurrah,’ and, as before, the hisses – though hisses are not such telling things as shouts – preponderated.
In plain words, and with very tittle exaggeration -I own to a very little – 27 persons responded to the shout of ‘ Three cheers for the Mayor !’ 27 persons, out of a body of gentlemen amounting probably to – how many do you think the room would hold – say 700, and that’s a low estimate, I think – cheered the Mayor of Liverpool ! I was going to say it was a radical shame, and isn’t it ?
Well, I -can’t help it; it was not my province to shout, or ,I would have shouted; for I felt humiliated, somehow, at the fact of there being a mayor of Liverpool who had descended to such a level that, after it had been bruited abroad that he was about to visit the Exchange news-room with a ‘ lion’ of such dimensions as Labouchere, he could raise only 27 persons to shout for him., Why, a common ass – a very common, twopence a-mile wench-carrying ass, such as you see over at Cheshire on holydays – it went out in company with such a noble creature as a lion – could raise 35 tailors to applaud, and 35, multiplied by 9 would make 315.
Well, the “ immense applause ‘ having subsided, a gentleman called out ironically or sarcastically ‘Three cheers for the French Navy !’. which excited some laughter amongst those who were up to snuff, but many seemed to think it mal apropos and accordingly, another gentleman followed it up by a much better aimed shot. He called out ‘Three cheers for Sir Robert Peel’ , and the applause which followed was most hearty, enthusiastic, and general. I heard a Radical afterwards characterize it as tremendous, but a reporter would hardly go as far as that.
I then looked for the Right Hon. Mr. Labouchere and his satellite, but I could nowhere behold them; I suppose they must have slunk out of the room at an upper door; for in an instant the crowd began to slacken, and laughing groups were seen in every direction, some of whom I heard make use of such expressions as, ‘Well, I think they have got enough of it’ and “They didn’t seem to like it’.
It was very funny altogether, – very funny – I wish you had been there. And what is perhaps as funny as all, the whole scene did not occupy above a minute or two; it was over in less than no time; the infusion of Conservatism in the dose seemed to be too strong for the stomach of the lions, and they went away. There is one consolation, however, if the Ministerial visitor was deprived of his expected portion of applause and adulation, and congratulation, and he would in the evening, have a dinner, which would satisfy his physical appetite, if appetite he had any, after what had occurred. The Town-hall was, at all events, lighted up.
“ This is all I know. I intended to have told you the whole in one slip and a quarter, but I have made a slip in my calculation – a good many slips, I think.”
The Times, December 23, 1839