This is from March 1867, Josh was seventy three at the time, and it was ten years since he had been defeated in the General Election of 1857. Entertainingly, St Martin’s Hall had been the venue for the First International of the International Workingmen’s Association three years earlier attended by Karl Marx. The hall had a 500 seat lecture theatre, and a 3,000 seat main hall. It was on Long Acre, in Convent Garden.
The annual meeting of the National Sunday League was held last evening at St. Martin’s Hall, Sir Joshua Walmsley in the chair. The chairman having briefly addressed the meeting congratulating it on the success which had attended the movement, the secretary read the report for the past twelve months, which stated that during the year the organization of the League was consolidated, and its internal arrangements considerably modified to meet the requirements of the members. Parliament would shortly be called upon to consider the laws which now denied to the masses rational freedom and recreation on Sunday. In the Spring on two Sundays, the Council invited Crystal Palace shareholders to spend social and recreative afternoons with them at the Crystal Palace, and on each occasion 600 were present. Discourses on Egypt, Pompeii, the extinct animals, &c., were delivered by various friends, and the resources of the Palace and grounds fully availed of for the purposes of instruction. Tho public notice taken of those Sunday meetings by the press was followed by a Sabbatarian memorial to the directors for the suppression of the practice, but their efforts had been defeated by the decisive resolution of tho Board.
The Sunday bands in the parks had proved as popular as hitherto. The Church Congresses at York and Rochester had given striking proofs that the more liberal-minded among the clergy were determined that puritanical views should not any longer sever the people from the Church. The Rev. Newman Hall, Mr.Samuel Morley, and others had expressed views considerably in advance for liberty and toleration of the policy hitherto experienced from the party to which they belonged.
Ten Sunday evening meetings had been held at St. Martin’s Hall, which had been conducted by an association distinct from the League. Mr. Baxter, the chairman of the Lord’s Day’s Society, had instituted a prosecution against the lessee of St. Martin’s Hall for permitting that institution being used for popular Sunday services. Sir Thomas Henry had, however, left the trying of the question on its real issue to a superior court. The Press had spoken out fearlessly on the opening of museums and providing rational recreation for the people. It had been said that the League was in favour of Sunday trading. Such was not the case, but at the same time it was necessary that ” some must work that all may rest.” The primary object of the League was to open national museums and galleries, and the opportunity for action, which must come before long, would no doubt find a Council as ready as that which had acted during tho past twelvemonths. The chairman moved the adoption of the report, which was seconded by Sir John Bowring, and carried unanimously. Addresses were then delivered by Mr. Baxter Langley, and others, and the meeting terminated after a vote of thanks had been accorded to Sir Joshua Walmsley for his dignified conduct in the chair.
The above text was from the Times, Friday March 22, 1867. p.12.
CHAPTER XXVIII. This chapter covers fourteen years from 1857 until 1871. As usual with Uncle Hugh, it is more political than personal, though the letters quoted in this chapter are more two old friends commentating on politics, and rather softer in tone. The whole chapter does have a rather valedictory tone.
For most of this time Josh and Adeline had retired to Wolverton Park, in Hampshire, a rather grand house they rented from the 2nd Duke of Wellington. In the 1861 census, Josh describes himself as ” Knight, J.P. and Adeline’s occupation was given as “Lady” There were three children there James, aged 34 and Emily, 30 and Adah, aged 21. The household comprised of the family, plus the cook Maria Butts (60), three housemaids, and three male servants. Richard Pratt, the butler was only twenty-four, Tommy Smith was a sixteen year-old house boy, and Charlie Jacob, the groom was twenty.
Thomas Milner Gibson, the Anti-Corn-Law Leaguer defeated in Manchester had won a by-election in Ashton-under-Lyne on 14th December 1857. He was the maternal great-grandfather of the Mitford sisters, through Thomas Gibson Bowles, the illegitimate son he had with a servant girl. Tommy Bowles founded both Vanity Fair, and The Lady.
The assassination attempt on Napoléon III referred to was planned and carried out by Felice Orsini who Josh had met at the American Ambassador’s dinner in 1854. Rather splendidly, his bombs were made for him by Joseph Taylor, an English gunmaker based in Birmingham.
When Parliament again assembled, every vestige of the Anti-Corn-Law League had disappeared from the benches of the House. Mr. Cobden, Mr. Bright, Mr. Fox, Mr. Milner Gibson, and Sir Joshua Walmsley had been unseated. Meetings were held to express sympathy with them. ” I had previously determined,” writes Sir Joshua, “ That if defeated at Leicester, I would retire into private life ; and despite several requisitions to represent constituencies, I adhered to this resolution. “ The session of 1857 closed without any Reform Bill being brought before the House.
Mr. Cobden, writing from Midhurst, 18th July, says: ” Looking at the servility of the House of Commons, and the absence of all earnestness in politics, I think we have no reason to be dissatisfied with our bargain — free air and exercise in place of being in a committee-room at Westminster. ”
The news of the attempt of the 16th January [it was actually the 14th January 1858]on the French Emperor’s life, had been received with reprobation by all classes throughout England ; but an official despatch from Count Walewski, accusing England of fostering crime and of erecting assassination into a doctrine, evoked a different feeling. Leaving unanswered and unnoticed Walewski’s despatch, Lord Palmerston, on the 8th February, moved for an alteration of the ” Conspiracy to Murder Bill. “ This brought on protest upon protest, against England altering her domestic laws at the dictation of a foreign power.
On the 19th, Lord Palmerston moved the second reading of his bill. Mr. Milner Gibson proposed an amendment, censuring Government for not having replied to the Walewski note, and his amendment was carried.
Before this vote of censure the Ministers retired, and Lord Derby came into office. The attacks of the French Colonels following closely on all this, roused public indignation to a high pitch. Mr. Cobden’s ideas on this subject are expressed in the following letter, dated 21st April, 1858 :
” Dear Sir Joshua,
” It was very kind of you to think of me. Your letter found us in great trouble. My poor brother, as you know, a sufferer from nervous pains. has been taken to his rest. The last two weeks were awful. It seemed as if the disease had seized suddenly on the spinal cord and moved slowly upwards, torturing him to death by inches. He underwent, for a fortnight almost, one continued paroxysm of agony. We could not witness it without praying God to release him and take him to Himself But I do not the less feel the void which his loss has occasioned. He was little known beyond his own family circle. His shyness and modesty prevented him from mixing in society. But he had a rare intelligence, and a memory so extraordinary, that I used to resort to it as to an encyclopaedia. I feel as if the daylight were partially withdrawn from my house. . . . “
” We shall, of course, be very quiet, and I do not feel any call at present to interfere in politics. I never saw so little above the political horizon worth fighting about. When the struggle is between Dizzy and Sam, earnest politicians may be excused for standing aside and taking a holiday. I quite agree with you about the scandalous tone of our papers respecting the state of France. But the worst part of the business is, that they are evidently bent on making bad blood between the two nations, for the sake of political capital. The Times, Economist, &c., only discovered those dangers and discontents in France after Palmerston’s downfall. “
” They want now to make it appear that his return to power is necessary for the French alliance, forgetting that he alone was the cause of the popular outcry in Hyde Park, against France and the Conspiracy Bill. The fact is, he wished to divert the attention of the House and country from domestic questions, and therefore he brought in that bill. A wise and honest minister would have prevented any public discussion on such a subject, by settling it privately, and showing to the French Government that it was unwise to moot it publicly, and thus rouse the well- known jealousy and pugnacity of our countrymen. But he was ‘ hoist with his own petard,’ and I hope he will not again intrigue himself into office. …”
But few letters remain now to be quoted of the correspondence extending over so many years between the two political allies and friends. An interval of nearly three years occurs before we find Mr. Cobden’s next letter, addressed to Sir Joshua in his retreat at Wolverton Park.
It is dated Algiers, where, after negotiating the Commercial Treaty with France, Mr. Cobden had gone to recruit his health, already impaired by the fatal malady that was too soon to rob England of his eminent services. From it we give the following extract ;
” 9th March, 1861.
“I am sorry to see your brief allusion to the unfavourable state of your health. I hope it is but a slight and temporary indisposition. For myself, though every year reminds me that I have passed my meridian, I have reason to be thankful for having come here for the winter, where the weather has been exceptionally fine, as it has been unusually severe in England. If you find your respiratory organs affected, you would find great benefit from a winter residence here. The hotels and lodgings are all full of visitors, the majority of whom are of course British. I intend to remain here till the end of this month. “
” The state of politics and the proceedings in the House offer but small temptations to return to one’s post — you have certainly the best of it in your rural retreats. In a letter which I got lately from Bright, he observes : ‘ What sensible fellows are Crook and Titus Salt to return to the care of their businesses and families. The worst feature in public matters is the apathy and indifference of people to domestic questions. It seems as if we had become blases by the excitement of foreign revolutions and wars, and had no longer any appetite for home politics. It will be well for us if material reverses recall us to a sense of what is due to ourselves. “
“It will give us pleasure when we again find ourselves at home (where I have scarcely found myself for two years), and renew our personal intercourse with your family. In the meantime, my wife joins me in kind regards to Lady Walmsley and all your circle, and I remain, “
” Very truly yours,
” R. COBDEN. ”
Two letters belong to the year 1864. We give them in their order :
” Midhurst, 6th March, 1864.
“My dear Walmsley,
“The two little pigs have duly reached, and promise to be a good addition to our Sussex stock ; many thanks for them. “
“Perhaps you have already seen the enclosed; if not, you will be glad to see that our friend Kossuth has just had a legacy of a thousand pounds, which I have no doubt will be just now very acceptable to him. By-the-way, I hear that the Hungarian refugees are beginning to turn their faces homewards, that Klapka is already at Turin, where there is said to be a plot hatching, and that unless Austria is as usual very lucky, she will have more fighting in the Adriatic than in the Baltic, and with worse results. It seems as if there would be a general commotion in the East of Europe, but wars and revolutions sometimes fail to come when they are most expected. “
“ I am going to town on Tuesday for a week or ten days before the Easter recess. But I really cannot help considering it an ignominious employment of one’s time to be a party to the hollow proceedings in the House. “
“With our united kindest regards to Lady Walmsley and your circle,
” Believe me, yours very truly,
“ R. COBDEN.
” If you should have Stephenson’s portrait photographed, I hope you will let me have a copy. ”
” At Mr. Paulton’s, 15, Cleveland Square,
11th March, 1864.
“My dear Walmsley,
” I have been amused by the article in The Standard. It is the first I have heard of my promotion. But there is, of course, not the slightest foundation for the report. I could not undertake any post requiring me to work in the City in the winter time. During the frost and fog of that season, I cannot breathe in the London air. I am strangely affected with a sort of asthma in certain states of the atmosphere. Since I have been in town, the weather has been so bad that I have not been down to the House once. No other medicine suits me but the thermometer at 70c. “
” Respecting the engraving or lithographing of my likeness, to which you kindly refer, I really do not know where it originally appeared, whether in London or Manchester. “
“ The proceedings of the House are dull beyond all example. There will be nothing done till Gladstone brings in his Budget. If the Tories were united and willing, they might have office at any time. But it looks as if the two chiefs had a tacit compact, by which it was understood that there is to be no change during the natural life of the Parliament or of the Premier. “
” I find Mr. and Mrs. Paulton very well, and Hargraves has got over the winter better than last year. They are looking to a migration to their country-place in the summer in the neighbourhood of Woking. My wife is here ; she joins me in kind remembrance to Lady Walmsley and your circle.
” Believe me, yours truly,
” R. COBDEN. ”
Death was soon now to sunder this friendship of thirty years, ” on whose surface,” says Sir Joshua, ”there was not a flaw. I think I possess Cobden’s last, or very nearly his last, letter. “ It runs thus :
” Midhurst, 18th March, 1865.
” My dear Walmsley
“ It was very kind of you to think of me with your prescription, which I have no doubt, in a given case, would be very useful. My throat trouble has, however, been somewhat peculiar. I have had what doctors call nervous asthma, which affects me only when the weather is cold or foggy. I am now pretty well, and am only waiting for fine weather to resume my duties in town. I hope in a few days to be able to leave home. There is some difficulty in knowing what one is to go to the House for at present. I confess I feel very little pride or satisfaction in lending myself as a witness to the hollow sham that is going on there. I suppose you will be paying your periodical visit to London. If so, I shall be happy to shake hands with you. My wife joins in kind regards to Lady Walmsley and your circle, and,
“ Believe me, yours very truly,
” R. COBDEN. ”
But this hand-grasp was never to be given. Mr. Cobden, confined to the house since November by bronchitis, brought on by the exertion of a long speech delivered in an overheated hall to his constituents, was in no fit state to undertake a journey up to London in the bitter cold of that spring. Three days after the date of the foregoing letter, on the 21st March, he came up to town, intending to take part in the debate on the Canadian defences. Bronchitis had seized him ere he reached his journey’s end. He was at once conveyed to his lodgings in Charles Street, where he died on the 2nd of April.
Our narrative now draws to a close. When Sir Joshua lost his seat in the electoral contest of 1857 he determined to retire from public life. ” My political career was now over, “ he says. ” I was fifty-six years of age when I entered Parliament. I could not at that late period acquire the facility of quick debate— so important to a public man, and which can be successfully cultivated only in the flexible years of youth — but I was up to the toil and drudgery such a life imposes upon whoever conscientiously enters into it. Whenever I addressed the House, I invariably obtained a patient hearing, for I was careful always to master the subject upon which I spoke. ”
After his eventful life, he was now entitled to allow himself a margin of rest. He took the lease of Wolverton Park, Hants, part of the estate presented by the nation to the Duke of Wellington. In this beautiful retreat, hedged round by friends, and ever exercising a genial, courteous hospitality, he spent some happy years. Horticultural pursuits and field sports had still the charm they had in the old days at Ranton Abbey. Nor was he forgotten by the nation. Requisitions from Liberal constituencies, inviting him to come forward and stand for their representation in Parliament, were on various occasions addressed to him. But he was firm in his resolution not again to enter the House of Commons as a member of its body.
Yet he watched with unflagging interest the progress of Reform, contributing articles in its support to The Daily News and other Liberal journals. Almost to the end, he kept up his connection with the Sunday League, remaining its president until within a few years of his death. To the last he was what he had always been — a man of the people ; from the people he sprang, and with them ran the strong current of his manly, generous sympathies. It was this sense of fellowship that led his voice and hand to be ever among the foremost of his day, in advancing every question and cause that involved their true interest and welfare.
In 1870, Sir Joshua removed to Bournemouth. Some time previously he had decided to build a house on an elevated stretch of moorland, and to end his days in this beautiful watering-place. His unabated mental and physical energy seemed to give assurance that he had yet many years to live, and he himself looked forward to a good old age. The building of the house and the laying out of his grounds were a source of much interest and pleasure to him. One day, before the building was completed, he gave the house its name. A few friends were assembled, when, raising a glass of wine to his lips, Sir Joshua gave : ” To the memory of my old friend, Joseph Hume, “ and accordingly the house was called ” Hume Towers. ”
The hope of spending some years in active rural enjoyment was not destined to be realised. In November, 1871, he died, after a brief illness. His widow survived him till September, 1873.
And now we cannot better wind up these memoirs than by quoting the touching words in which Sir Joshua describes what he owed to Lady Walmsley’s influence through life: ” My wife’s mild and gentle spirit, “ he says, ” constrained and tempered mine. Endowed with talent and excellent judgment, the advice she gave me in business, as well as in domestic matters, was in a great measure the source of my prosperity. I feel that but for her soothing influence and high standard of right, I might have gone sorely astray in the battle of life. She has indeed been to me all that woman could be. How much have I to be grateful for to Him who gave and has continued to me so good a helpmate. ”
CHAPTER XXVII. This is yet again a very political chapter, with almost nothing about the family. By now Josh and Adeline are grandparents of four granddaughters, – all the daughters of Elizabeth Walmsley and Charles Binns. The girls range in age between seventeen year-old Adeline and eight year-old Emily. Three more granddaughters and one grandson follow in the 1860’s and 1870’s. At the time of the election, Josh is sixty-three.
Early in March, 1857, the following requisition, signed by one thousand three hundred and fifty-two electors of Leicester, was presented to Sir Joshua :
” We, the undersigned electors of the borough of Leicester, deem it our duty, under existing circumstances, to assure you of our confidence in your general conduct as our representative. There are points of difference between some of us and yourself, but your devotion to the interests of the constituency, your unflinching advocacy of all measures calculated to promote civil, political, and religious equality in the eye of the law, and your independent parliamentary conduct, so greatly outweigh these points of difference, that we request you will, whenever Parliament shall be dissolved, offer yourself for re-election, when we have the fullest confidence that the constituency of this borough will again triumphantly return you as one of their representatives. ”
” Leicester, 28th February, 1857. ”
The above requisition had been resolved upon at a large and enthusiastic public meeting at the New Hall, where the vast assembly had recorded a unanimous vote of confidence in Sir Joshua Walmsley ; coupling with his name that of Mr. John Biggs, who had succeeded to the representation on the sudden death of Mr. Gardiner, in June.
” This strong expression of feeling, “ says Sir Joshua, ” was called forth by the report that, at the following election, I would be opposed by Mr. Dove Harris, now brought forward by the Whigs and several influential townsmen. I had made enemies for myself by the course I had pursued in Parliament. “
” The warmth with which I had espoused the interests of the stocking-weavers had alienated from me the manufacturers of the town. My earnestness in the cause of Electoral Reform had rendered the Whigs as inimical to me as the Tories. These points of antagonism were, however, limited to certain sets of interests in the boroughs ; outside of them I had fast friends. My advocacy of the claims of the frame- work knitters had also drawn warm hearts to me; and among a liberal constituency the extension of the franchise being held to be a just and necessary measure, I, who had succeeded Joseph Hume in advocating it in Parliament, was consequently popular. “
” It would have taken something more than the banding together of the manufacturing interest and the old Whigs and Tories, to deprive me of the esteem of a constituency whose interests I had devoted myself to and laboured for during five years, whose political battles I had fought, whose political debts I had paid, and towards whom I had redeemed in letter and in spirit every pledge I had taken. “
” One cry there was, however, that had in it potency enough to rouse every sect and interest against me -the cry of the ‘ Desecration of the Sabbath.’ I had moved in Parliament for the opening of the museums on Sundays after church hours. I was president of the Sunday League. The clergy joined their vituperations to those of the manufacturers and Whigs ; and to crown these, the Tories promised to support the candidate brought forward to oppose me. ”
Timid spirits quailed before this rallying cry of the Opposition. The frame-work knitters, unfortunately outside the pale of representation, never swerved from their allegiance to Sir Joshua Walmsley . That much-abused ” Sunday cry “ had in it a ring of sympathy with the overworked multitude ; and they from their hearts wished him to succeed over his rivals.
Parliament was dissolved the first week in March . On receiving the above address, Sir Joshua consented once more to stand for Leicester. Free trade, popular education, liberty of conscience, a wider extension of the suffrage, were still the four cardinal points of his political creed recapitulated in his address to his constituents.
At a public meeting on the 16th March, he explained the position he meant in the future to take in relation to the question of opening the museums on Sunday. ” I regard it as an educational movement, and my advocacy of it is based upon my earnest desire to do justice to the working classes in the metropolis. I am not here to enter into the merits or demerits of the question — one upon which many of the most pious, talented, and virtuous ministers of the day do not agree. But I am free to admit that with such an expression of public opinion against me on this question, I should not be justified were I to bring it, under existing circumstances, again before the consideration of Parliament Further, I am bound to say, with all honesty and sincerity. I have not altered my opinion upon it one iota. All that I did believe I continue to believe ; but now that it is taken up adversely by a great body of those who have been my earnest and warmest supporters, men whom I esteem and who are esteemed and beloved by their fellow-townsmen, I should, if it were again brought before the House of Commons, tender my resignation to this constituency; before, I felt in a position to support it, or to bring it before the House.”
This declaration on the Sunday question did not pacify Sir Joshua’s opponents. The struggle began in right earnest ; and, ” for a fortnight, “ to use the words of The Leicester Mercury, ” the town was divided against itself by an election contest approaching in bitterness and violence to an implacable civil war. “ Placards covered the walls denouncing Sir Joshua as an infidel. The clergy held meetings, where resolutions were passed of uncompromising opposition to the candidate favourable to the principles of the Sunday League.
The Whigs united with the Tories against the Reformer, and the manufacturers, resenting the part he had taken in the House of Commons in the frame-rent question, joined the other factions. Regardless of the antagonism and the misrepresentations rife on all sides, Sir Joshua persisted in his canvass. The poor frame-work knitters felt his cause was theirs and as he passed their cottage doors they, at all events, wished him ” God speed. ”
Friday, 27th March , was the nomination-day, and a multitude filled the market-place. The cup of indignation was full to the brim when Sir Joshua saw how old friends had become enemies, how former political supporters had gone over to his opponents. His speech that morning exposed the inconsistency of those who some years ago had been his allies. ” Those gentlemen brought me to this town, having known me for nearly twenty years ; they then supported me, and glad and proud I am that they have not been able to bring one accusation against me. What did I pledge myself to on that occasion ? That in matters of commercial policy I should be, in the fullest sense, a free-trader ; that in matters of religion and education I should contend for perfect freedom and absolute equality ; and that, as regards the improvement of their representative institutions, I should advocate the scheme of reform embodied in Mr. Hume’s annual motion, which aims at securing the representation of every class of the community. I have fulfilled these pledges. ” He went on to give a rapid sketch of the course he had followed in Parliament, showing that he had never swerved from the path he had pledged himself to follow. He spoke with great earnestness. Some twelve or fifteen thousand persons were assembled in the market-place, of which the great mass were non-electors, eagerly watching the proceedings of the day, and determined to pronounce their sentence, which they knew on the morrow they would be unable to record. At the close of all the candidates’ speeches, a show of hands being called for, the vast crowd arose, and an immense demonstration of feeling ensued in favour of Sir Joshua Walmsley.
The decision of this meeting was reversed next day in the polling-booths. The extraordinary excitement that had possessed the town for a fortnight reached its climax when the result was declared at four o’clock. The coalition had triumphed. Sir Joshua Walmsley was defeated. The votes were as follows :
1618 for Mr. Dove Harris,
1609 for Mr. Biggs,
1440 for Sir Joshua Walmsley.
Soon after the result was known, a concourse of people assembled in front of the hotel to hear the defeated candidate’s farewell words. An eye-witness described the assemblage as extending nearly the whole length of the street, computing it to have numbered some twenty thousand. This hotel was then the leading one in Leicester — a long, low, straggling building of the reign of Queen Anne. It has since been pulled down to make room for a handsome bank and other buildings. In a few words Sir Joshua — after thanking the assembly for the manner in which they had stood by one who was “opposed, not only by Tories, but by Whigs, who, deserting their colours and their principles, arrayed themselves against a man who, as far as he has been able, has stood forward here and elsewhere, during the whole course of his public life, to maintain, to the best of his ability, the rights and privileges of his fellow- countrymen “ — then urged those present ” to unite hand and heart to carry out those great principles which secured to every man, who has intelligence enough to value it and exercise it, and who pays his rates and taxes, a right to vote for the man of his choice. ”
“ Yesterday, “ he went on, ” nine out of ten of the men of Leicester held up their hands for me ; and what would have been the result to-day if you, the hard- working, honest-hearted men of Leicester, if your votes had had weight in the balance ? May this be a lesson you will never forget. Remember they have defeated the man of your choice. “ Sir Joshua’s closing words enjoined to ” forget and forgive, “ while strenuously and peacefully striving for a juster state of things.
But all that night the town was excited, and bands of frame-work knitters paraded the streets, shouting Sir Joshua’s name. The Leicester Liberal papers next day teemed with expressions of regret at the defeat of the popular candidate. It was now decided that an address and a testimonial should be presented to Sir Joshua. The working classes especially responded to the movement, throwing their whole hearts into the work, to show honour and affection to the man who had devoted all the energies of his public life to the cause of justice, liberty, and true fraternity. Many were the wives of the stocking weavers who appended their signatures to the address of the women of Leicester, and who subscribed their pence to the testimonial to be presented to Sir Joshua Walmsley on his removal from the representation of the borough of Leicester.
On the 23rd of June , the day fixed for the demonstration, long before noon, some thousands were assembled in front of Danett’s Hall, where Sir Joshua and Lady Walmsley were staying as guests of Dr. Noble. These electors and non-electors were waiting to escort the defeated candidate to the market-place. At half-past twelve the procession fell into rank. With some difficulty it made its way through crowded streets, that wore the aspect of a popular festival. Flowers festooned the houses ; flags and triumphal arches, bearing mottoes and greetings, decked the route. The cheering multitude, the bursts of music, the beauty of the day, made up a spectacle of brightness and cordiality that removed much of the bitterness that was naturally associated with this Leicester episode of Sir Joshua’s life.
A vast throng awaited the procession in the market-place. The Leicester Mercury estimated the numbers present at between twenty and thirty thousand. The testimonial, a centre-piece of massive silver, artistically designed, and two addresses — one signed by six thousand seven hundred and fifty women, and the other by five thousand six hundred and sixty- five electors and non-electors — were then presented.
There was also presented to Sir Joshua the pure white flag the ladies of Leicester had embroidered for him and Mr. Gardiner, on the occasion of the defeat of the petition against their election in 1852.
” I feel ,” said Sir Joshua, in the course of his brief speech of hearty acknowledgments, ” that this demonstration is a complete and ample reply, rebutting the calumnies recently circulated against me. ”
A public soiree was held that evening in the Temperance Hall. Although the largest hall in the town, yet numbers were unable to obtain admittance.
” It would be impossible,” says the same eyewitness whose words we have already quoted, ” to describe the enthusiasm of the assembly, and the affectionate greeting given to Sir Joshua Walmsley.“ Perhaps there never was an occasion on which the feelings of the disappointed majority of the population of a large town was more unequivocally expressed. ”
” We venture to say, “ remarks The Leicester Mercury” that the proceedings of the 23rd June, 1857, will henceforth constitute one of the most interesting chapters in the history of the borough. Certainly no expression of public feeling was ever attended with more imposing circumstances. ”
Thus closed Sir Joshua Walmsley’s public connection with the borough of Leicester. It was also the closing scene of his public life.
Some time after the hubbub of that day’s excitement had subsided, a deputation of frame-work knitters waited upon him in his house in Westbourne Terrace. They came to thank him for his efforts in Parliament to alleviate their lot, and for his advocacy there of the right of the working-man to the franchise. They asked to be allowed to present Lady Walmsley with a pair of gloves or mittens they had woven in silk for her.
This humble testimonial was preciously kept by Sir Joshua, side by side with the silver centre-piece and the embossed addresses that had been presented to himself.
CHAPTER XXVI. This chapter is a mixture of rather worthy campaigning to open the museums for the moral improvement of working men, and the suppression of ” vice and immorality ” – almost always a good thing, and is counterposed with the fallout of the Arrow affair in Canton [Guangzhou] which was the start of the Second Opium War. So while Josh has political and business sympathies for Sir John Bowring, he may well also have some family loyalty. Sir John is the great-uncle of Adeline’s nephew Hugh Mulleneux’s wife Fanny. Either way, the war culminated in the destruction and wholesale looting of the Summer Palace in Beijing by British and French troops in 1860 and the legalization of the opium trade.
After the death of Joseph Hume , Sir Joshua sought to carry out his work left unfinished. Next to the question of enlarging the suffrage, that of opening the museums to the working classes had of late years most occupied Mr. Hume’s attention. In 1846, he had submitted his first motion to that effect to Parliament, and in the last session he attended had renewed the effort. Sir Joshua had promised to continue it, and he kept his word. At this period some working-men formed themselves into a committee, for the purpose of keeping alive the interest in the question among their class. Round this nucleus numbers gathered, composed chiefly of men connected with the more artistic trades, of pianoforte makers, goldsmiths, jewellers, and carvers — artisans, who felt the importance, for their own instruction, of becoming familiar with artistic creations, and who were conscious of the advantages derived from such influences. The committee gradually developed into an association sufficiently important to style itself the ” Sunday League,” of which Mr. Hume became the president, and Mr. Morrell the secretary, and immediately proceeded to start a newspaper to disseminate its opinions throughout the country.
In 1854, the House of Commons’ Committee on Public-houses came to a resolution that, as a means of combating drunkenness, ” it was expedient that places of public recreation and instruction be open to the public on Sunday afternoons after the hours of two o’clock P.M. ”
The League considered this an opportune moment for presenting a petition to Parliament for ” the opening of the British Museum, the National Gallery, and Marlborough House, on Sunday. “ Sir Joshua Walmsley undertook to present the goldsmiths’ petition. Mr. Hume had promised to bring the question before the House of Commons during the course of the session. We have seen however, that he could find no day for its discussion, and in the February of the following year he died.
“ Several deputations waited on me soon after, “ says Sir Joshua, ” asking me to assume the presidency of the League, and to fight its battle in Parliament. To this invitation I replied, that my promise to Mr. Hume, and my own desire to continue a work that enlisted my heartiest sympathy, would lead me to accept the proffered post; but I knew that my conduct in the frame-rent question had made me many enemies in Leicester. At the next election I foresaw that my seat would be in jeopardy, and my parliamentary career might thus shortly be closed. The working-men persisting in their invitation, I acceded to it, and on the 28th March, 1855, I brought the question before the House. ”
When the House divided, out of two hundred and thirty-five present, forty-eight recorded their vote in favour of Sir Joshua’s motion.
” The men who so warmly stood up for the sanctity of the Sabbath forgot, in their zeal, that they demanded its rigid observance from the working classes alone. They denounced the profanity of a proposal, that would enable the poor man to look at pictures and other works of art on the Sabbath after morning service. They saw no profanity in their own privileged stroll among the curiosities of the Zoological or Botanical Gardens, or in the enjoyment of their West-End clubs. On the very Sunday following the debate on my resolution, I met in the Zoological Gardens, accompanied by his wife and two children, an ardent opponent of the measure. ‘ You here on a Sunday among the wild beasts ! ‘ I exclaimed stopping short and looking him full in the face as if astonished at the rencontre. He was much discomfited, but at once fell back on the reassuring logic of the difference of classes. ‘ Oh ’ he answered, ‘ it is a very different matter my taking a quiet stroll here with my family, and letting crowds of workmen rush off to the museums.’ “
” I could not admit the difference in principle, and as regards circumstances, the difference implied an argument in favour of the workman. In advocating the objects of the Sunday League, I was simply endeavouring to extend to the poor some of the civilising agencies that so abound in the daily life of the rich ”
While working with this aim. Sir Joshua found himself the centre of a very whirlwind of indignation.
” I was privately and publicly apostrophised, ” he says, “ as an infidel. The post daily brought me letters from clergymen addressing me as an atheist, ‘ an agent of Satan.’ From the pulpit, the same epithets were applied to me and the other supporters of the Sunday League. In Liverpool, on one Sunday, a hundred sermons were preached against us. In every town, in every parish, from every church and dissenting sect, a protest was raised against any attempt to do away with the holiness of Sunday; and were it really kept and observed in a holy manner, I should be the last to desire a change. “
In thickly-populated cities and in the drowsiest rural districts, the work of petitioning began. From the most revered pillar of the local church to the youngest Sunday-school scholar, all the members of the various congregations appended their signatures to the earnest prayer to Parliament not to open the doors of museums or the Crystal Palace to the people on the Lord’s Day.
Public meetings, in towns and villages, passed resolutions and expressed sentiments that would not have been out of keeping with the pharisaical spirit dominant in Jerusalem nineteen centuries ago. A society formed for the due observance of the Sabbath threatened with public exposure those who voted for Sir Joshua Walmsley’s motion. A Sabbatical frenzy seized the country. Amid all this tumult, it was difficult to hear the counter protests of thousands of hard-working artisans, who knew well that, among their class, Sunday was not a day of sanctity, such as all this commotion against its desecration implied; or to notice the calm verdict given by some of the highest intellects in England in favour of the objects of the Sunday League.
It required courage to face the storm that was raging, but Sir Joshua was not the man to be driven from any path he had entered after mature deliberation. The National Sunday League announced during the recess that the measure would again be brought before Parliament by its president in the ensuing session. On the evening of the 21st February, 1856, the lobby of the House of Commons was crowded The Speaker’s and Strangers’ Galleries were thronged, and conspicuous by their numbers were the clergy present. There was a perceptible stir of excitement through the assembly, deepening during the hour and a half employed in presenting petitions against the resolution that was to be the principal feature of the night’s debate. It was the evening for the discussion of Sir Joshua Walmsley’s motion for the opening of the museums on Sunday.
On this occasion his speech was more exhaustive than that delivered on the same subject the preceding year. He entered more fully into the bearings of the Sabbatarian movement, meeting the objections that had been so loudly urged against the objects of the Sunday League. Carefully abstaining, however, from any expression that might hurt sensitive, anxious souls, easily alarmed at what seems to them a lowering of that standard of faith necessary to salvation, he was nevertheless ” determined,” he said, ” not to shrink from any discussion calculated to elicit the truth, but truth applicable to all classes, and not an ideal to which our workers are sacrificed. Nor will I yield to any in an earnest desire to preserve the Sunday as free from labour as is consistent with the necessities of the people — a day of rest, devotion, and innocent enjoyment. I believe the measure now proposed is worthy the acceptance of the House, and calculated to elevate the moral and religious character of the people.”
” I am morally certain, “ he proceeded, after giving a summary of the petition signed by upwards of ten thousand workmen in favour of the opening of the museums, ” that were these institutions opened on the afternoon of Sunday, thousands, if not tens of thousands of persons, who now seldom leave their crowded courts and alleys on that day save to resort to the public- house, would be found with their wives and families visiting these pleasant centres of instruction. These people would return to their homes wiser and better men from the contemplation of the beautiful, and for their momentary contact with the finest products of the most gifted of our race. ”
After quoting eminent authorities, past and present, in favour of a brighter conception of the Sabbath, he laid his finger on the real evil the measure was chiefly directed against — drunkenness, that passion that saps and mines all force of character, wrecks virtue, and brings misery into the homes of our lower classes. This passion finds an accomplice in the tedium and stagnation of Sunday which well-nigh excuses and explains it.
Referring to the letter of a man of much practical experience, he showed that ” vice and immorality are relatively more prevalent in London than in the great Continental capitals ; and, especially, the relative proportion of immorality which prevails on the Sunday, compared with any other day of the week, is far larger in London than in the Continental capitals. In Edinburgh and Glasgow, where what might be called the judicial observance of the Sunday is stricter than in London, the vice and criminality prevalent on that day are also relatively greater than in London. ”
” This, “ reiterated Sir Joshua in conclusion, ” is an educational measure in its most comprehensive sense, and one that ought not to provoke religious controversy. As an educational measure, it would humanise and improve that class of the community, which millions spent in church establishments have failed to reach. ”
The discussion that followed was as intolerant in spirit, and as wide of the mark in its objections to the measure, as that of the preceding year. The comfortless homes of the poor; the fact that the large majority of working-men in crowded cities never enter a place of worship, but spend the Sabbath in gin-shops, for lack of a better place of entertainment to resort to; these realities were ignored by those who so loudly denounced the measure. Members of Parliament spoke as though the present observance of Sunday constituted godliness itself. It seemed as if to them Sunday was made holy by the mere fact of the doors of the museum being closed.
Lord Stanley again defended the motives of the Sunday League and its promoters. The faithful few of the year before spoke in favour of the resolution. When the House divided, it was found that the same forty-eight, out of the four hundred and twenty-four members present, had voted for Sir Joshua Walmsley’s motion. The Sabbatarian party received the announcement of their victory with ringing cheers.
In February, 1857, Sir Joshua moved “ for a Select Committee to consider and report upon the most practical means for lessening the existing inequalities in our representative system, and for extending to the unenfranchised that share of political power to which they may be justly entitled. ” The motion, however, found no favour with the House; after the fatigue and excitement of the Russian War, there was little zeal left for measures of home reform.
Sir Joshua brought forward this motion on the eve of the momentous debates in both Houses on the proceedings of Sir John Bowring in China, in the affair of the Arrow. Shortly before Christmas had come tidings by the Chinese mail, startling to ministers and the country, that for six weeks England had been at war with China. An insult had been offered to the British flag. In October, Chinese officials had boarded a Chinese vessel flying English colours, on a charge of having been concerned in an act of piracy, and carried off twelve of the fourteen that composed her crew. Swift and terrible retribution followed this act. The prisoners, indeed, had been given up, on the demand of Sir John Bowring, but Governor Yeh refused to make a public apology. Permission to foreigners to enter Canton, a condition insisted on by the English ambassador, had also been withheld. Then had followed the storming of the city of Hong Kong [ Hugh gets his cities wrong, and actually means Canton] and the shelling of Governor Yeh’s house.
On the 25th of February the debates on the Canton question began. Lord Derby brought the question before the Upper House. In a speech of fiery eloquence, he condemned the conduct of Sir John Bowring as hasty and cruel ” The Hotspur of debate “ failed on this occasion to carry with him the House of Lords. By a majority of thirty-six, the Peers justified the English ambassador’s action.
On the 27th, in the House of Commons, Mr. Cobden, true to the single-mindedness with which he ever pursued the great purpose of his life, set aside the claims of twenty years’ friendship, and moved “ that the papers which have been laid upon the table fail to establish satisfactory grounds for the violent measures resorted to at Canton, in the late affair of the Arrow. “ From the 27th of February to the 3rd of March the debates lasted Lord Palmerston stood by his appointed agent, and the ministerialists to a man supported him. Party spirit doubtless inspired some of the speeches delivered during that week’s discussion, but on reading the reports of it, the impression left on the mind is that the verdict given was deliberately and honestly arrived at. It recorded that, by a majority of sixteen, the representatives of the English people did not sanction the proceedings of their official in the Canton waters. Lord Palmerston, interpreting this decision to be a vote of censure on his Government, announced, a couple of days after, that he had advised the Queen to dissolve Parliament, and to appeal to the nation. It was a question on which there might well be a difference of opinion, and it was for the country to determine whether it would or not endorse that adopted by its representative ; accordingly, throughout the country there began the hubbub and preparation of a general election.
Sir Joshua says : ” I voted against Cobden’s motion. Personally I had a great regard for Sir John Bowring ; and I believed it was next to impossible to judge from a distance the fitting agencies to be brought to bear upon a people, whose code of political honour is so materially different from that of Western nations. I shared also Lord Palmerston’s opinion that government is bound to stand by the acts of a public servant, occupying a post of vast responsibility in a distant country, unless the case be clear against him. The Brutus-like severity with which Cobden denounced his old friend, impelled by a sense of public duty, made a deep impression on me .”
We have incidentally alluded to the correspondence between Sir Joshua Walmsley and Sir John Bowring; we think it may prove interesting to the reader here to append some extracts from the Governor of Hong Kong’s letters during this crisis in his life.
The first referring to this time is dated 11th April, 1857:
” My dear Sir Joshua,
“I hear from Edgar he has had some correspondence with you about Chinese affairs, and the course taken by The Daily News. It is the second occasion on which great injustice has been done me : firsts in the Shanghai duty question which is the chapter in my life’s history of which I shall feel proudest, and in which I sought to fight the battle of honesty and probity; second, the Canton affair, in which Weir has been so much led astray by . (there is a blank marked in the manuscript)
The newspaper here. The Chinese Mail, though much in the habit of abusing me, has on this occasion expressed a honest regret at the course taken by its proprietor. I would add that, though the merchants of Canton have been such sufferers, there is not one who has uttered a word of complaint against my proceedings, and they have been concurred in by the representatives of all the foreign powers, who are generally too well disposed to animadvert upon our proceedings. If my hands had not been tied by Lord Malmesbury, I would have settled the question peaceably years ago. It is a most erroneous and mischievous policy to allow Oriental nations to violate treaties, as it invariably encourages a continuity of acts that must end in collision. No man has ever done so much as I by pacific influences. Look at the Siamese Treaty, which has led in the first year to the lucrative employment of two hundred foreign ships, while the average preceding the treaty was only twelve. I have been knocking at every door in China with olive-branches in my hand, and have succeeded everywhere but at Canton ; and there I have never found anything but an obstinate determination to keep me at a distance, to disregard treaties, to show disrespect to our flag, to protect all who did us an injury ; in a word, to make the most solemn engagements a dead letter. I am persuaded justice will ultimately be done me, and I in the meantime must bear universal opprobrium, in addition to all the perils and responsibilities of my difficult position.
I have never met with a more humane man than the admiral, who has also been so much abused.
” Ever, my dear Sir Joshua, yours faithfully,
“John Bowring. ”
In the course of a letter, dated July, 1857, he writes :
” As regards China, I only wish they would have allowed me and the other ministers to have accomplished our work, and we would have obtained absolute indemnity for the past and a proud treaty for the future. But they have worked out a course of policy for themselves, and I believe Lord Elgin already feels he is engaged in the most serious difficulties. I shall aid him to the best of my power. It is natural enough that cabinets should suppose they know a great deal more about matters than those who receive their instructions from them ; but I presume we, who have lived so long in China, are, or ought to be, better acquainted with what can and what ought to be done than those who, ten thousand miles away, and whose opinions are the result of their knowledge of Western — not of Eastern — natures, lay down the laws for our guidance. “
” My only wish is to get into Parliament in order to compel the production of the whole of the correspondence which I had with the F.O. since I came to China, and which will show whether or not I have been a missionary of peace, a representative of justice and honour, turning neither to the right nor the left. “
I will show what I have done for the extension of trade (Siam alone employs two hundred ships in a trade of my creation). I will show that I have governed this colony for years, and have not drawn a penny from the imperial treasury. Every one of my predecessors has been covered with honours. My labours have exceeded theirs tenfold. I can point to results it was never their good fortune to obtain.”
In November, after the arrival of Lord Elgin, he writes thus :
“My dear Sir Joshua,
” Thanks, many thanks for your favour of 5th October. Though I have now no responsibility as regards our present relations with China and our hopes for the future, yet, I am happy to say. Lord Elgin has endorsed my policy. I believe he came thoroughly impregnated with the views of the opposition, but he has found that to persevere in the course marked out by Cobden and Lord Stanley, he would have to disorganise and imperil the whole of our relations, and to transfer to the Emperor a guard which he left Yeh to settle as best he might. … ”
We give one more extract from a letter dated 29th March, 1858.
” As regards Canton, Lord Elgin found it necessary to carry out my policy, in order to save himself from vexation and disappointment, and to prevent a general war with China, which the reference to Pekin of the local question would probably have brought about. I always believed that the Emperor would not support Yeh, whose supporters are not among his own countrymen, who bitterly blame him, but in an ignorant House of Commons. As the Emperor of China acknowledges that Yeh was wrong, has disgraced and dismissed him, I hope those who condemned me will acknowledge their error. Do not suppose, however, that I approve of the policy now being pursued. I think a fatal mistake was made when Lord Elgin reinstalled the Chinese authorities in Canton. They are all intriguing against us, committing many atrocities, while in the Chinese mind the impression is left, that we are not masters of the city. “
” Then again, the Ambassadors are gone north, without having done anything towards the settlement of the Canton question, which in my opinion should have settled in the locality the indemnity provided for out of the local revenues, the lands appropriated which we want for the factories (under fair rentals).
These matters ought never to have been referred to the Emperor, who leaves invariably such questions to the local Mandarins. It is a sad pity that any foreign power should have been called in to influence our policy, which 1 would have distinctly marked out, and submitted not for discussion but co-operation.
The interests of Russia are wholly territorial; those of France, Catholic proselytism; those of America, to catch what she can at the least cost. I am persuaded had the matter been left to the admiral and me, it would have been arranged satisfactorily months ago, without the cost of a penny to the nation, and with grand results to our trade. . . .”(The rest of this letter is missing.) “
CHAPTER XXV. This chapter covers the mismanagement of the Crimean War; it is mostly in the form of letters between Josh and Richard Cobden. Both took a generally non-interventionist approach to European affairs, and their criticisms of the Army were political, in so far as the Army was still largely officered by the aristocracy. Officer’s commissions were still purchased at this point, rather than awarded by merit. It should be born in mind that both Joshua Walmsley II, and Hugh Walmsley were army officers, which possibly coloured Adeline’s views, who in Richard Cobden’s view ” sometimes takes too poetical a view of the glories of war.” But perhaps that’s the only way to cope with having two sons as serving soldiers.
Sir John Bowring mentioned at the end of the chapter was the fourth Governor of Hong Kong, had been Josh’s predecessor as M.P. for Bolton, and was the great-uncle of Adeline’s nephew Hugh Mulleneux’s wife Fanny Bowring Mulleneux.
As the winter of 1854-55 drew on, the nation realised in its full force the meaning implied in the phrase that we had ” drifted into war. “ In the spring a gallant army had left her shores. In September, letters reached home, complaining that the changeable climate of the Crimea was unprovided for. Then followed reports increasing in gloom with the shortening days, of troops dying of disease and want
Hearts in English homes sickened during that bitter winter at the pictures drawn by ” our own correspondents “ in the Crimea, of the condition of the sick and wounded. In imagination the nation beheld ” that bleak range of hills “ overlooking the Black Sea, where — ragged, shoeless, overworked, racked by disease in want of food, shelter, fuel — the remnant of its army was dying at the rate of ninety or a hundred per day. Seven miles distant the English held a port stored with every necessary provision and means of relief; but the road to it was made impassable by snow, which, combined with the pedantic delays of red-tape-ism, frustrated all efforts to bring comforts to the soldiers, ” I shall never forget the gloom of that winter, “ says Sir Joshua, ” when each man asked the other with whom did the fault lie, was it with the commanders abroad or with the Government at home ? “
” Excitement was at its height when Parliament opened on the 23rd of January . On the first night, the Earl of Ellenborough and Mr. Roebuck gave notice that on the 25th they would bring the conduct of the war under critical review. That night the country was taken by surprise by the resignation of Lord John Russell, who explained this unusual, if not unconstitutional step, by alleging that he could not resist Mr. Roebuck’s motion. The accounts that came from the East were ‘ horrible and heartrending,’ and ‘ with all the official knowledge to which he had access, there was something inexplicable in the state of the army.’ “
” He explained that during the recess, he had urged Lord Aberdeen to appoint Lord Palmerston to the Ministry of War, in the place of the Duke of Newcastle, a course the Prime Minister had refused to follow. When in the hour of reckoning Lord John Russell thus separated himself from hiscolleagues, the conviction deepened in the minds of all who heard him, that culpable negligence could alone explain the cruel fate of the army in the Crimea. “
“ Roebuck was suffering in health on the night he brought forward his vote of censure on the conduct of the war. The emotion that overwhelmed him, the weakness of illness made him almost inaudible; what, he asked, was the condition of the army before Sevastopol, and how had that condition been brought about ? In faltering accents he told how an army of fifty-four thousand men had left England a few months previous ; this army was reduced to fourteen thousand, of which only five thousand men were fit for duty. What had become of the forty thousand missing? Where were our legions ? A stormy and angry discussion followed Roebuck’s motion. Ministers and their supporters opposed the inquiry as dangerous and useless, but the House, dividing, by a large majority declared in favour of the motion. In the face of this overwhelming vote of censure, ministers resigned. ”
They resigned on the 1st of February. Then followed a fortnight during which the country was left without a Government — a fortnight of cruel suspense, as it anxiously watched the protracted negotiations to form a ministry capable of making head against the national calamity. In this fortnight are dated some vigorous letters addressed by Sir Joshua to The Atlas newspaper, showing up the series of blunders committed since the landing of the army at Varna, maintaining that the aristocracy are not business men.
He wrote : ” And it is a man clear-sighted, clear-brained, quick to resolve and act, unshackled by the trammels of red-tape-ism, that is wanted at this juncture. ”
” I have read your spirited letter in TheAtlas “ writes Mr. Cobden. ” It is a pity that our quarrel with the aristocracy does not spring from some other cause than the complaint that they don’t carryon war with sufficient vigour. ”
On the 16th of February , the Cabinet was formed. It was a reconstruction of the former ministry, and included no new members. On Lord Palmerston, who had replaced Lord Aberdeen as Prime Minister, centred the nation’s hopes for the better management of the war. Lord Panmure was made Secretary of War in the place of the Duke of Newcastle. This change in the administration did not induce the House to rescind its vote in favour of Mr. Roebuck’s motion. The nation would not be put off; with passionate reiteration it demanded : ” What has become of our forty thousand missing soldiers of the army of fifty-four thousand that left our shores some months ago ? ”
The House of Commons persisting in the inquiry, another ministerial crisis occurred. On the 22nd of February, Mr. Gladstone, Sir James Graham, and Mr. Sidney Herbert resigned giving as reason that they had accepted office in the belief that Lord Palmerston would continue to oppose the formation of a Committee of Inquiry. They regarded this inquiry as unnecessary, unjust to officers, and dangerous. These vacancies in the Cabinet being filled up by the appointment of Sir Cornewall Lewis and Lord John Russell, the committee was appointed.
A few months later, its revelations justified the fears and suspicions of the nation. It showed that the Government had drifted into war unprepared, regardless of the difficulties and complications inherent to a struggle carried on at a distance. We sub- join the following extracts from a letter written by Mr. Cobden upon the fall of Sevastopol, and dated Midhurst, 27th September, 1855, showing up but too plainly the lamentable military mismanagement and failures that threw discredit upon the English arms in the Crimea.
After referring to a private circumstance relating to the death of a friend, and stating the general feeling of the moment, he proceeds :
” The French have covered themselves with great glory. I am sorry to say nothing but discredit and shame attaches to us; but as everyone speaks out, no doubt you will hear something of it at home. They may blame the men as much as they like ; I blame the system — a system which gives no encouragement to a man to discharge his duty — a system which has not only allowed but encouraged a crowd of officers to slink home on every possible pretence, from the Duke of Cambridge and Lord Cardigan downwards, and to leave, as substitutes for officers who know their men and were known by them, a parcel of mere boys from England, all anxious to come out because they had not the most remote idea what they were coming to. “
” My friend should have added that the men as well as officers who have gone out are mere boys. In fact, the recruiting-sergeant has been successful only in kidnapping children. The manhood of the country has contented itself with voting strong resolutions at meetings, making courageous speeches, or preaching inflammatory sermons; whilst the fighting has been left to unfledged striplings. It makes me indignant beyond expression to find my country exposed to the taunts of the world, as the cowardly bully amongst nations, always ready with the big threat, but skulking from the post of danger. Were I despotic, the first thing I would do should be to seize every newspaper editor, every orator, and every preacher I could prove to have fanned the flames of this war, and pack him off to take part in it until peace was arranged. “
” In sober seriousness, if we are to take a part in military operations on the Continent alongside of France, Russia, and the great powers of Europe, and if we would avoid the disastrous and ridiculous failures which we have witnessed, we must, like them, be prepared to submit to the conscription, by which a guarantee will be afforded that the interests and honour of the country are confided to a fair representation of the manhood of England. “
” As it is, we may fairly assert that the middle class, who, at least in West Yorkshire, are the most zealous advocates of the war, have taken no part in it. They form no part of the rank and file of the army, and, generally speaking, are only to be found as exceptions amongst the commissioned officers. When the operations of the war come to be calmly reviewed, it will be found that our sufferings and disasters have sprung almost entirely from our having started with pretensions to be on an equality with France, and having failed first with the numbers and at last in the quality of our troops. Lord Raglan himself stated that the terrible losses of last winter arose principally from our men having been overworked, the result of their inadequate numbers. And General Klapka, in his book on the war, says that the British, in spite of their heroic courage at Inkermann, would have been driven into the sea by the overwhelming numbers of Russia if the French had not come to their rescue : the small army of men which went out last year having been dribbled away, and mere boys sent to replace them. “
” The foregoing extracts from my friend’s letters will be interesting to my good friends your companions; but the following description of what he saw when he entered Sevastopol, I send exclusively for Lady Walmsley, who sometimes takes too poetical a view of the glories of war. “
“ On the Monday after the evacuation there was a flag of truce, and a steamer crossed to take away some wounded men left in one of the dockyard store-houses, which, as being rather out of fire, had been used as a hospital, I happened to be down on the spot at the time of the removal, and such a sight I never witnessed and hope I may never witness again. Hundreds of men, wounded in every conceivable maimer; some with amputated, some with broken limbs, some writhing in agony with musket-bullets in their bodies. All more or less neglected for many hours, were carried out of the wretched place in which they had been hurriedly placed, and were laid on the decks of the steamer for conveyance to their countrymen. The scene in the building itself was something awful, it was literally one huge mass of dead and dying men — belts, canteens, military equipments and dress, cut or taken from the men as they were brought in, were strewed about; and in many instances dead and putrid bodies lay over those still having a gasp of life left. “
” Anything more utterly shocking I cannot conceive. A huge tub passed me, under which two men staggered. Its contents consisted of arms, legs, feet, hands, and other parts of the human body. I know not what selection the Russian steamer could have made from the hideous mass, but when she had got her cargo she left, and next morning she was sunk with the rest. I passed the place again yesterday, and all around was still one mass of dead bodies in every stage of decay. The smell was frightful, and the sight of those dead bodies, swollen and blackened as they were, was worse. The whole place is a mass of putrefying human flesh. It is impossible to exaggerate the horrors which meet one at every turn. Determined not to leave anything in our hands that they could destroy, they actually hurled their field-guns, horses and all, harnessed as they stood, into the harbour. It was a strange sight to see them as they lay, through the clear blue water.”
” With our united kind regards to all your circle, “
” I remain, very truly yours,”
Let us give another letter from the same pen — the more interesting because of its application to our present position towards Russia — dated :
” Midhurst, 12th November, 1855.
“ My dear Walmsley,
” But, really, when I see the tone of the press, and the reports of such meetings as that in the City, where that old desperado, Palmerston, is cheered on in his mad career by his turtle-fed audiences, I am almost in despair. If our ignorant clamours for the ‘ humiliation of Russia ‘ are allowed to have their own way, look out for serious disasters to the Allies ! No power ever yet persisted in the attempt to subjugate Russia that did not break to pieces against that impassive empire. “
” Tartars, Turks, Poles, Swedes, and French, all tried in their turn, all seemed to meet with unvarying success, and yet all in the end shared the same fate. The Russians can beat all the world at endurance, and the present struggle will assume that character from this very day. The question is, who can endure the longest the pressure on their resources in men and money ? It is not a question of military operations; the Russians will retire, but they will not make peace on terms that will give any triumph to the English and French ; they will gradually retire inland upon their own supplies, where you cannot follow them, to return again if your forces quit their territory. In the meantime, high prices and conscription in France, and taxes, strikes, and heavy discount in England, will have their effect. And who can tell what the consequences may be in a couple of years ? We are exaggerating the power of a naval blockade, and the effect of the depredations we are committing on the coast of that vast empire, because we do not sufficiently appreciate the comparative insignificance of its sea-going foreign trade, as compared with its interior and overland foreign trade. An empire three thousand or four thousand miles square, with such vast river navigation, has resources, which we cannot touch, ten times more important than the trade we blockade. “
” The very fact of her having followed a higher protective policy, and thus developed artificially her internal resources, whilst it has no doubt lessened her wealth and diminished her power of aggressive action against richer states, has, at the same time, by making her less dependent on foreign supplies, rendered it easier for her to bear the privations which a blockade is intended to inflict. The more I think of the matter, the more I am convinced that the Western Powers, if they persist in their attempt at coercing Russia by land operations, relying on the effect of a blockade, will suffer a great humiliation for their pains. The only thing that could have given them a chance of success was the co-operation of Austria and Germany upon the land frontier of that empire. “
” This was the only danger dreaded by Russia, and hence her efforts to conciliate German interests ; for, as I said in the House, every concession offered by Russia has been to Germany, and not to the allies. However, it is no use reasoning on these matters, for reason will have little to do in the matter. It is a question of endurance, and time will show which can play longest the game of beggar-my-neighbour. “
” My friend Colonel Fitzmayor wrote to me on the 4th inst., on board the Ripon, off Southampton. He said he was going to Woolwich, to which place I immediately wrote him a letter, but have had no reply. He is perhaps gone to see his family, and may not get my letter for some days. I fear there is no chance of my seeing him here this week. When do you think of leaving Worthing ? I am sorry I cannot leave home to come and see you at present. With regards to all your circle,
” Believe me, truly yours,
In February , Sir Joshua lost his friend, Joseph Hume. During the closing months of his life, the old man complained often with pathetic petulance ;
” I am in a grumbling condition, because I cannot do as I used, and yet would fain still do. The will remains the same, but the flesh is weak. ”
To the last the progress of the Crimean War was a subject of keen and painful interest to him. He kept on hoping to the last he would recover sufficient strength once more to take his accustomed seat in Parliament, and help to procure a more wisely administered system in behalf of the soldiers’ welfare. Those closing letters are touching evidences of an undimmed spirit and a failing body. The 4th December  is the date of a letter written in a more hopeful vein :
” My dear Sir Joshua,
” I shall now expect to see you on the 12th, if I continue as I am ; but I have had doubts whether I should in prudence be able to attend the meeting. The state of the war and of public affairs is such as to call for a grand meeting as to numbers, and, I hope, strong in the advocacy of future and speedy measures for the support of our brave country- men in the East. There is much in Kossuth’s speech that deserves serious attention, but the condition and plan of Austria is what has destroyed the policy that ought to have been adopted, to unite and rally the popular and free principles against the military and despotic, which really is the great point to look to. “
“The Governments of Germany remember 1848, and have their fears of reaction which, sooner or later, must take place. But at present the difficulty is great, and we must give all the help we can to overcome that difficulty. “
” Let me have a few lines with any news that you may think worth repeating, and to engage my thoughts until the 11th, when I propose to be in Bryanston Square with Mrs. Hume. ”
The intended journey to London was never accomplished. We find him on the 21st January, 1855, writing:
” I have decidedly improved the last two days.Although all was packed up, and the horses were ordered, I do not think I shall move for the week, unless some extraordinary occurrence shall compel me. I shall therefore hope for a line, if anything be worth attention. We have had two gentle falls of one inch and a half of snow each, and at this moment not a breath of wind. I have not been out of doors for four days, and a good pair of bellows would blow me over, and yet I have no pain to look to as the cause of all this. ”
The end was not far off On the 13th February Mr. Cobden wrote :
“ My dear Walmsley,
“ I wrote to poor, dear old Hume, some time ago, but when I was not aware that he was so very ill, and of course I expect no answer. I fear your apprehensions will prove too well founded. “
” Perhaps if he had retired from Parliament at the last election, and gone to Switzerland, or America, or to some new scene, with his family, he might have lived a few years longer. But he preferred to die in harness, and after all, life to him would have wanted more than half its charms, if he had abandoned Parliament. May Heaven smooth the pillow of the glorious old man. ”
On the 20th of February  he died. In him the Reform party lost its oldest leader, and the country the man whose keen, firm sense of justice and indomitable resolution had raised a standard of integrity, and established principles of order and economy, that made a mark that can never be effaced on the public administration of affairs.
On the 26th of February , moving for a new writ for Aberdeen, Lord Palmerston paid a high tribute to Mr. Hume’s memory. Sir Joshua Walmsley, overcome by emotion, alluded, in a short speech, to the privilege he had enjoyed of possessing for many years the confidence and friendship of Mr. Hume.
“ It may be justly said that his unostentatious labours for the public good were only excelled by his private worth. Even in the arena of political strife, he never made an enemy or lost a friend. And I would indulge the hope that the representatives of a grateful people will not suffer services, at once so eminent and so disinterested, to pass away without some memorial worthy of them and of the country. ”
Sir Joshua Walmsley wished that a national monument, voted by both Houses of Parliament, should be erected to the memory of his friend. Mr. Cobden and many others approving the idea, it was taken up, and a requisition, signed by two hundred and twenty-four members of both Houses, was presented to Lord Palmerston, calling upon him to propose“ that a durable memorial be erected, by a vote of Parliament, to the memory of the late Mr. Hume, in testimony of the country’s grateful appreciation of his long, disinterested, and laborious public services. ”
But the proposal was silently defeated, on the plea that there was no precedent for it, that Joseph Hume had never been in office. A few hundred pounds subscription endowed a scholarship in the London University. Sir Joshua, keenly felt this rejection of a national recognition of his friend’s services. ” What man, “ he would often exclaim, ” had done so much for the best interests of his country, devoting his whole life to strenuous, unflagging work, without fee or reward ? ”
Sir John Bowring, writing from Hong Kong, in September, 1856, to Sir Joshua, remarks: ” I think it sad evidence of an unsound state of things, that a man like Joseph Hume should have been allowed to live and die without other honours than those which individual esteem and gratitude brought to accompany him on his progress, and which now gather round his tomb. The appreciation of the fiercer parts of human character ; the warlike, the passionate, in preference to the gentle, the pacific, the permanently useful, is somewhat startling to those who desire the world’s improvement. We grieve, protest, but where shall we find a remedy ? ”
The following graceful tribute from the same pen, to the memory of Joseph Hume, we find enclosed in another letter :
Not of the crowd, nor with the crowd did he
Labour, but for them, with clear vision bent
On to reform, steadily he went
Onward, still onward perseveringly ;
Yet not a hair’s breadth from his pure intent
Diverted, or by frowns or flattery ;
His nature was incarnate honesty.
And his words moulded what his conscience meant ;
So, honoured most by those who knew him best,
Leader or link, in every honest plan
Which sought the advance of truth, the good of man,
Still scattering blessings, through life’s course he ran ;
And when most blessing others, then most blessed.
Till called from earth to heaven’s most hallowed rest
CHAPTER XXIV. This is almost self-explanatory politics, and the drift into the Crimean War.
Through the autumn , the National Reform Association abated no jot of its efforts. Whatever reforming energy, at this crisis, existed in the country, centred in that body. But the apathy of the nation was great in regard to every interest, save the absorbing one of watching the signs of the approaching conflict.
When the Queen opened Parliament on the 31st January , the first paragraph of the royal speech announced the failure of the hopes entertained in August of a peaceful termination of the existing difficulties between the Sultan and the Czar. Another paragraph announced that a measure for the reform of the representation of the people would be laid before Parliament.
There was a certain grandeur in the attitude of a Government, which, amid the quickly gathering portents of war, could thus employ the interval on which such mighty issues depended with the reform of abuses in its own system. On the 13th February, Lord John brought forward his third Reform Bill. The exposition of this peaceful measure succeeded an animated discussion on the movement of the fleet and the provisions of the troops.
” Lord John Russell’s Bill of 1854, “ says Sir Joshua, “ was very different from the one he had laid before Parliament in 1852. The clumsy contrivances, the timidity that had marked the latter, were nowhere traceable here. “
” As clause succeeded clause, it became evident that a generous measure of reform was now offered to the nation. The six-pound borough franchise, hampered though it might be by an enforced municipal term of residence of two years and a half, would be almost equivalent in great cities to household suffrage. “
” The ten-pound country franchise would admit within the pale of the constitution all who were above the grade of the agricultural labourer. Various franchises were created, recognising the claims of education and the modest property of the thrifty. The principle of grouping boroughs, that had encumbered the proposed second Reform Bill, was abandoned, and in its stead was substituted the reduction in boroughs of less than five hundred electors from two members to one ; the representation thus withdrawn to be given to single unrepresented towns, or added to the representation of large constituencies insufficiently represented. This brief notice of the Reform Bill of 1854 will show that it was conceived in no narrow spirit. “
” It was calculated that it would enlarge by one-third the actual constituency in the country. By the six-pound franchise alone one hundred and fifty thousand of the working classes would be admitted to vote. True, the measure included no item of Mr. Hume’s yearly motion. The ballot was ignored. A distinct property qualification was still the requisite to citizenship. In all its bearings, however, it was calculated so materially to improve the working of the representative system, that, at my instigation, the Reform Association formally determined to give it hearty support. ”
But no Reform Bill could gain a hearing at that hour. The war, that for some time had been casting its shadow before, now became an actual and terrible reality. In March, the Queen’s message to Parliament announced the rupture of relations with the Czar. The second reading of the Reform Bill, previously fixed for the 13th of March, was deferred to the 27th of April. In the meanwhile, the nation’s professed indifference on the subject became more and more manifest ; all minor interests were swallowed up by tho absorbing one of the war, Since the night when Lord John Russell had explained the ministerial scheme to Parliament, only four spiritless public meetings had been held in its favour throughout the country ; only four petitions had been laid on the table, urging the House to persevere with it in spite of existing circumstances. The mind and heart of England were with its fleets in the Baltic and the Mediterranean ; with its departing armies ; and it had no care for other interests. An impatient feeling was growing up, demanding of ministers the withdrawal of a measure, the discussion of which the country was in no mood for at present; and upon which, if ministers were defeated, their resignation must follow ; and which, if carried, must involve a dissolution of Parliament, and the consequent ferment of a general election at a time when united action and vigilant watching of events were Parliament’s first duties. Still, to the queries as to the course Government proposed in relation to the Reform Bill, Lord John’s answers were evasive, revealing how keenly he felt his honour involved in redeeming the pledge he had given. On the 11th April, he yielded to the pressure of circumstances, and withdrew for the session the ministerial Reform Bill. The emotion that impeded his utterance in the closing passages of his speech, testified to the sharp conflict waged in his heart by a sense of conventional honour and the claims of a higher duty. The universal and hearty applause that greeted the announcement from all sides of the House showed that the sacrifice was understood and appreciated.
Friend and foe united alike to commend the act.
These exciting topics did not, despite the magnitude of the interests involved, outweigh the interest felt by Sir Joshua for the sufferings of the poor framework knitters of Leicester ; and here we pause to remark upon that noble trait in the character of the man that, ever true to himself, his heart was with the people of whom he never ceased to feel himself one. Neither parliamentary or municipal honours, increase of wealth, or advantages of social position, could for a moment render him unmindful of the working people, with whose feelings his own were identified.
And now that Mr. Cobden’s anticipation of a bad harvest had been realised, and that an almost universal scarcity prevailed throughout Europe, aggravating the anxieties of approaching war ; with dear provisions and heavy taxation, the condition of the unfortunate work-people of Leicester, encumbered by the frame- rent system, weighed heavily on Sir Joshua’s mind.
So strongly did he feel as to the course to be taken in this matter, that he refused to be influenced even by the opinion of Mr. Hume, whom he revered and loved above all men. ” Hume, “ he says, ” severely and utterly condemned as unfair and almost cruel the proposal by Parliament of any measure that might lead labourers to imagine that the law could interfere between workmen and masters. To this I would answer that political economy is not a one-sided science, that it recognises the claims of labour to be co-equal with those of capital. ” At the root of the fast-spreading evil —strikes — is a confused conviction that this balance is not justly upheld ; and until some mode of legislation is hit upon, whereby a fair solution of differences can be arrived at, this form of lynch-law will prevail. While, in this case, where penury and oppression prevented appeal to strikes, was it true political economy to allow an extensive and important manufacture to be sacrificed to the petty and arbitrary profits derived by individuals out of the hire of the necessary tool ?
In February , Mr. Charles Foster moved for leave to introduce a bill to alter and amend the Truck Act, which had been passed in 1831, for the purpose of enforcing the payment of wages in money. The object of Mr. Foster’s measure was to provide against the many evasions of the law by making the Act more stringent. Mr. Foster’s bill passed a second reading, and was referred to a Select Committee.
Early in March, Sir Henry Halford introduced a bill, drawn up in conjunction with Sir Joshua Walmsley and Mr. Packe, to restrain stoppages from the payment of wages in the hosiery manufacture.
Sir Joshua appealed to the House to send the bill before a Select Committee. ” I have received numerous communications,” he said, ” from a number of persons connected with this trade ; and I can assure the House that all they desire is, that the whole subject should be fully and fairly investigated by a committee. ”
The second reading of this bill came off on the 22nd March . In a speech marked by deep feeling. Sir Henry Halford entered into many details depicting ” the distress, now grown to be proverbial, of the frame-work knitters of the Midland Counties. “ Sir Joshua Walmsley encountered the opponents of the measure, who maintained that it was contrary to the maxims of political economy. ” To inquire into the complaints of the industrial classes is not adverse to political economy. There is no free trade as respects frame-rents; the workmen must take the tools from those who give the work, and take them upon their own terms. “
After reading to the House letters addressed to him by operatives and employers : “ Both admit,” he showed, ” the evils that have grown up, although, I am bound to say, they do not all agree as to the remedy. For my own part, I do not take up the question as a pastime; I am impelled solely by the sincere wish to produce a better state of things than now exists. “ A majority of forty-seven decided in favour of the bill being read a second time. It was referred to the same Select Committee appointed to consider the bill brought in by Mr. Foster, for the amendment of the Truck Act. Of this committee Sir Joshua was a member.
The decision of the House caused some excitement in Leicester. Separate meetings were held by manufacturers, middlemen, and operatives, to appoint deputations to lay evidence before the House of Commons’ Committee. The manufacturers’ meeting was private. That evening in the Town Hall, the frame-work knitters assembled in temperate and orderly fashion. The half-starved men eagerly deprecated the expectation ascribed to them, that legislature could interfere with wages. They did not wish, as it was asserted they did, to confiscate property. They demanded only to have to pay a fair price for their frames. They asked to be protected, that was all. This was their answer to the political economy plea, the force of which they understood well enough. Mr. George Buckby was their spokesman. ” We will conduct the agitation, ” he said, ” in a good spirit, but at the same time with a determined opposition to a system fraught with mischief from beginning to end. ”
After detailing cases, the harshness of which it is difficult to conceive, the frame-work knitters passed a resolution thanking Sir Henry Halford, Sir Joshua Walmsley, and Mr. Packe for their endeavours to carry the bill through Parliament.
The Committee to inquire into the working of the Truck Act sat from the 15th of March to the 21st July , and every day Sir Joshua attended its sittings. The inquiry, protracted so far into the session, allowed no time for the consideration of the question of the hosiery manufacture ; accordingly, the investigation of the frame-rent evil had to be postponed. The inquiry, however, was resumed in the following session, on Parliament granting Mr. Packe’s motion for a committee to be appointed to continue the work begun and left unfinished in the preceding year. From April to July this committee, of which Sir Joshua Walmsley was still an indefatigable member, inquired into the cause of the deplorable misery of the frame-work knitters. The evidence of many manufacturers, amongst whom that of Mr. Biggs, of Leicester, was conspicuous for its calm and earnest tone, condemned the system of frame-rent as ” the cancer in the hosiery trade. “
Mr. Biggs submitted a plan which he had adopted for years. In place of the usual custom of exacting full rent, whether slack time or illness impeded the knitter’s hand, he had substituted a system of deducting, for the wear and tear of his machinery, a certain ratio on the amount of work delivered in by the labourer.
This system the knitters liked, but the middlemen, as a rule, set their faces against it. The tale of the knitters was a simple and appalling statement of misery, out of which no issue seemed possible but a change in the system of exacting frame-rent. The evidence conclusively proved that whether it be in the power of legislation or not to effect a remedy, the hosiery trade was being sacrificed, and with it the interests of thousands of labourers, to the greed of the hirers out of the tool necessary for the manufacture. The report of the committee clearly indicated the conflicting currents in the trade and their fatal results. Parliament shrank, however, from the task, at once so delicate and so complicated, in attempting to reconcile under this new guise the claims of labour and capital, and again refused to interfere in the matter. The battle between manufacturers, middlemen, and labourers must be fought out by themselves, and so for the present the questionof frame-rents was dropped by Parliament. The good work that had thus apparently failed bore its fruit, however. Popular opinion in Leicester condemned the iniquitous oppression. Manufacturers were stimulated to fresh resources by the ruin that menaced the trade, and middlemen themselves became less exacting. The knitters remembered who had been their advocate in the House; they knew Sir Joshua had upheld their cause even against his best friend and in their squalid homes his name became a household word.
CHAPTER XXIII. This chapter takes in the General Election of 1852 which resulted in the Tories having a majority of six seats. Josh had been elected an M.P. for Bolton in 1849, replacing John Bowring who had been appointed British Consul in Canton [ Guangzhou]. He exchanged that seat for Leicester in this election. Again all the family details are frustratingly small. We discover that Josh and Adeline take the two youngest daughters Emily, and Adah on holiday to France. It was an interesting choice of places to go, Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte had seized power in a coup d’etat on the 2nd December 1851, and would go on to take the throne as Napoleon III on the 2nd December the following year, the forty-eighth anniversary of Napoleon’s coronation. The press were whipping up scare stories about a possible French invasion, and the Duke of Wellington died. The new Houses of Parliament were almost completed, and the new House of Commons was used for the first time. The State Opening of Parliament was the first time there was a Queen’s Speech from the current House of Lords.
The account of Sir Joshua Walmsley’s friendship and relations with M. Kossuth, which formed the subject of the last chapter, has forced us to forestall the date of this narrative. We shall now glance rapidly at the events immediately preceding the Crimean War, and give some letters of Mr. Cobden’s belonging to the period, which he characterised as the third panic.
Parliament was dissolved in the spring of 1852. Lord Derby, on the 24th of May, announced his intention of appealing to the nation, in order to decide finally on the question of Free Trade versus Protection. If at the coming election an unequivocal verdict should be given for Free Trade, he bound himself to throw overboard the principle of Protection, and forthwith adopt the policy that had hitherto only roused the rancour and vituperation of his party.
As soon as it was understood that a dissolution was imminent, and that the result of the election was to be regarded as the verdict of the nation on the question of Free Trade, the country prepared to pronounce that verdict.
These were the circumstances under which Sir Joshua Walmsley and Mr. Gardiner, in fulfilment of the pledge given to the Liberals of Leicester, on being unseated in 1848, presented themselves once more for election in that town. Mr. Wilde and Mr. Palmer opposed in the Whig interest ; but many proofs of loyal attachment from adherents and friends in Parliament cheered on the Liberals in the contest.
“ I do hope you may be returned, “ writes Mr. Hume to Sir Joshua, on the 17th June, “ by an overwhelming majority, as your defeat would be a loss to the cause of progressive Reform. I am, indeed, sorry to learn that those who have hitherto been known as Whigs, and considered to be promoters of efficient Reform, should oppose you who have given such assiduous and persevering support to the plan of Reform which with the sanction of one hundred and thirty-six of the sturdiest and best reformers of the day, has been supported by me for the last three years. “
Mr. Cobden also writes :
” Monday night House of Commons.
” My Dear Walmsley,
“ I have yours of this morning, and rejoice to find you in so hopeful and resolute a spirit. If energy, industry, and tact can win, I know you have enough of these essential qualities for an election contest, to put your opponents at the bottom of the poll. You must consider that there is far more than your own personal fate in the balance, for if you were defeated, it would undoubtedly be taken as a verdict from a free and democratic constituency against the principles which Hume and the rest of us advocate in the House. We have to-day got through the estimates, and everybody now says we shall have the dissolution on the 26th. Nobody seems to want any further delay. The ministerial party are not gaining anything by the longer postponement, and therefore I suppose we may consider the matter settled. ”
At Leicester, the nomination of candidates took place on the 7th. The polling began on the following morning. At each return of the poll, the Liberal candidates were declared to be at the head. By four o’clock the market-place was thronged with electors and non-electors, waiting to learn the final issue. When announced, it showed that by a large majority the Liberal candidates had won the day. ” Hearty enthusiasm greeted this announcement of our election, “ says Sir Joshua, “ and for the last time in the annals of Leicester, the victorious candidates were chaired and carried in triumph through the principal streets of the town. Illuminations and acclamations continued far into the night ; every sign of popular rejoicing hailed our election. The honour of the constituency was cleared. These demonstrations testified also to the feeling and convictions of the inhabitants in the question of Reform. ”
The result of the elections throughout the country unmistakably showed that the nature thus appealed to would brook no unsettlement or modifications of the laws passed in 1846-49, repealing the duties on corn, on sugar, and the old navigation laws. The nation once for all declared for Free Trade, and elected a Parliament to deliver its verdict.
The following letter from Mr. Cobden was received by Sir Joshua during a short tour on the Continent, taken immediately after the Leicester contest :
“My dear Walmsley,
“We are rusticating in this quiet nook, to which I confess I become more and more attached, a proof, I suppose, of one’s declining energies.” [After some pleasant chat on home concerns, he passes on to the matters of political interest,] ” I do not think you have lost much, by not seeing the English papers since you left England. There has been quite a lull after the excitement of the elections. With the exception of a few dinners to successful candidates, and still fewer to unsuccessful ones, there has been no public stir. There is much speculation as to the future movements of parties and as to the probable ins and outs. But we have little to do with such combinations, and if Derby and Co. can shake off protectionism, I do not see why they may not give us as good practical measures as Russell or Graham. But I am in great doubt whether Dizzy [Benjamin Disraeli, who was the Chancellor] with all his ingenuity will contrive to doff his protectionist garment, and put on a Free Trade suit, without breaking up his party. There will be a score or two of the honest stupid men, who will not understand the word of command to ‘ wheel.’ In that case, I do not see how he can go on, for we are bound, as the first duty of the Free Trade majority, to have a distinct understanding that the Government gives up its protectionist hankerings. By getting rid for ever of the protective basis for the country party, we shall break up that country confederacy which stands in the way of all progress. But after upsetting the present Government, we shall be in no position to make a stable Government out of the opposition, for the chiefs will resist the ballot, and without that there can be no harmony or strength for the Liberals. I must tell you that the League, having a little money left, is employing Haly to collect together some of the facts connected with the intimidation, bribery, &c. of the late election, and although the League cannot use these facts for the purpose of advocating a reform of Parliament in the ballot, they will be very useful facts for others who can. Haly begins in the Isle of Wight, which is I believe a very strong case. I have heard nothing of Hume. He is, I suppose, in Norfolk, and most likely busy about Rajah Brooke. Fox is, I should hope, likely to be returned for Oldham. It is difficult to believe that the Radicals can be led by their leaders to vote for a Tory in order to spite Fox. By-the-way, I have this morning received a letter from Mr. Biggs, who tells me that his brother John is dangerously ill of fever, and that unless a favourable turn should take place he will be obliged to give up public life. Our harvest is in a critical state. It seems as if we are going to have another 1838. To-day I have not been able to leave the house. A drizzly rain has been falling without a breath of air. The wheat is sprouting in the sheaves, and a good deal of blight and mildew had shown themselves previously, so that even if we should have a sudden turn of fine weather, we cannot possibly have a good harvest. The corn will be in bad order, even if there should be an average quantity. This will be, to the farmers, a more trying season than they have had since 1846. “
” They will now see the full effect of Free Trade upon their interests. Formerly they could sell pig’s meat for human food, and the people had no choice but to take it at high prices. But now, with a free importation of good dry wheat from twenty countries, our farmers will be obliged to sell their sprout-wheat for no more than it is worth. This year will clear out many of the small farmers who are without capital, and it will go very far to put landlord and tenant upon a fair mercantile footing towards each other. The present turn of things in the agricultural world will not be in favour of Dizzy’s ‘ looming-in-the- future’ projects. He will be baffled in his hopes of reducing the interests on the Three per Cents. The revenue will sympathise with the bad harvest, and his agricultural clients will want a real relief, which their landlords will be forced to give them when they find that he cannot jump into a quart bottle to serve them. “
” In the end they will all come to my remedy — ‘a reduction of the expenditure ‘. You are right in saying that the Radical party have gained at the expense of the Whigs and Peelites. In fact the old Whig party is nearly extinct. They have lost all the agricultural counties, and the few county members who are Liberals go farther than the Whigs. If we take the ballot as a test, the whole strength of the Liberal party is Radical. And I do consider the ballot to be more and more the true test of Liberalism. The late election, particularly in the Irish counties, has brought to light more barefaced intimidation and coercions than ever were practised before. The extension of the franchise to the twelve-pound occupiers in the counties has brought a vast mass of poordependent voters under the screw of the landlord and the whip of the priest. The scenes witnessed in that country have been pitiable and heartrending, and knowing that the ballot would be a perfect remedy against their recurrence, my blood almost boils with indignation at the puerile pretences with which it is resisted. And I have made up my mind that I will be no party to any measure for extending the franchise or rendering elections more frequent, until the ballot be secured, for it will only be, as in Ireland, diffusing through a larger portion of the people those sufferings and oppressions which are now practised upon a more independent part of the community. I should like to see a declaration agreed to that in no case should an election be allowed to take place in town or country, without an effort to find a candidate to contest it for the ballot, and to pay legal expenses only. Now is the time to respond to the general feeling amongst the electoral body upon the question. “
” And this is the moment too for impressing on our so-called Liberal chiefs that the party cannot be held together unless by the cement of the ballot. If they should contemplate appealing to the country with some scheme of parliamentary reform omitting, the ballot, there would be no response sufficient to overbear the opposition of the Lords. But this topic will keep until your return. The Parliament will not, I expect, assemble before the beginning of November. You and Lady Walmsley are doing well to take a long respite amidst the natural glories which now surround you. My wife joins me in kind regards to her and to all your family party ; and, believe me, “
“ Faithfully yours,
On the 14th of September the Duke of Wellington died at Walmer Castle, at the age of eighty-three. A burst of grief thrilled through the nation at the news that the great warrior had passed away from us. All that was remembered of him now was his ” life-long unflinching devotion to England.” In that moment of supreme gratitude his constant opposition to all reform — which, at one time, had alienated from him large masses of the people — was now forgotten ; there was memory only of the exploits of the general ” who had fought fifteen pitched battles, captured three thousand cannons, and never lost a single gun.”
The following letter gives Mr. Cobden’s appreciation of the Duke of Wellington ; and his apprehensions of the effect likely to be produced on the public mind by his death :
” Midhurst, 25th September, 1852,
*’My dear Walmsley,
“ We are glad to find that you and Lady Walmsley and the young people are safe at home again. You will find the apathy of the country upon public questions roused into a sudden paroxysm of emotion at the death of the old Duke. The Horse Guards and the aristocracy will not fail to turn this fever-fit to account ; but though the democracy join in the cry, I do not see what it is to gain by it. It is an exaltation of the martial spirit of the country from which despotism draws its natural support, and before which the genius of liberty stands rebuked and humbled. Such, at least, are the grosser developments of the system on the Continent ; and the same principle, in a modified form, will be exemplified in the augmentation of the military power in this country.
” For the ‘ Iron Duke ‘ individually I have always felt a cold respect (who would have any warm attachment or enthusiasm for an iron man ?) If such work as he was engaged in be again taken in hand by this nation, we shall not find an abler, or an honester, or a more disinterested instrument to carry it to a successful issue. But I cannot join in the exaggerated tribute to the Duke as the ‘ saviour ‘ of his country ; and as for his saving the continent of Europe, I don’t understand why we should save some one hundred and fifty millions of people, who, if worth saving, would have done it themselves when opposed to thirty millions of Frenchmen.
” But as for the ten thousand times repeated nonsense about Wellington saving this country. Nelson did that at the battle of Trafalgar before we began our military career on the Continent ; and from the day on which that great naval victory destroyed the fleets of Napoleon, we were as safe from invasion as if we had been inhabitants of the moon. We spent four or five hundred millions after that decisive battle upon purely Continental objects.
” I repeat that the Duke did his work to perfection ; he neither jobbed, nor lied, nor intrigued like Marlborough, nor cursed and bullied like Blucher, nor boasted in melodramatic strains like Napoleon. But it is pure ignorance that prompts all this fustian about his having saved England, and it is only in the spirit of vain-gloriousness that we could persuade ourselves that, with our forty to fifty thousand men on the Continent (we never had so many probably as the latter at one time), we rescued one hundred and fifty millions from oppression.
” However, the old leaven is fermenting again, and it must work itself out ; and unless we peace people and financial reformers hold a discreet silence until the paroxysm is over, we must expect to be hooted.
“You must let me know what our friend Hume is talking and thinking about. I wrote to him on my return from the North, and gave him some information about Rajah Brooke, which I thought he would be thankful for ; but I have heard nothing from him since. You will find the suffrage question a dead horse just now. It will come to life again some day. The ballot has some vitality in it with the middle class. I have advised people in all localities where I know stirring men to get together facts showing the evil workings of open voting at the last election. I have also advised a central committee for collecting these facts to a focus. I hear that your Society is doing something of the kind; but I should like to see a separate committee at work by way of giving increased force to the advocacy of this question. Depend on it, the powers that be will give universal suffrage sooner than the ballot.
” You cut out the very heart of the aristocratic system in applying the principle of secret voting. My wife joins me in kind regards to Lady Walmsley and yourself and the young ladies, and believe me,
” Faithfully yours,
With the autumn deepened the national apprehension. The press added fuel to the fire by circulating stories of French naval preparations. Mr. Cobden’s letters throughout this period rebuke and deplore the popular excitement.
Thus he writes on the 2nd of October :
” My dear Walmsley,
“ I am afraid you have been allowing the alarmists to frighten you about French designs. It is all a matter of opinion upon which time alone can decide, but I record my firm conviction, that go far from the President or any other Government of France seeking to provoke hostilities with England, so impressed are they with our undoubted superiorityat sea — a superiority greater incomparably since the invention of steam navigation than before — that there is nothing they will so much striveto avoid. If we get into collision with France it will be about Belgium, Sardinia, or some other Continental interests.
” But at all events, let the danger be what it may of invasion or attack from France, let us at least be agreed that it is by sea, and nor upon land, that we are to be prepared to repulse the enemy. Once for all I say, if we are in danger (which I don’t believe) of an invasion, I am willing to be prepared with any amount of force at sea to repel it. Nay, if necessary I would agree to have a boom of ships of war, rafts, and gun-boats all round our southern coast. But you must satisfy me of the danger before I agree to that, and before I agree to anything being done, I must see all the large ships of war we have now got in distant stations moored near our own shores If you are alarmed (which I am not), you ought to call out for the return of our Mediterranean fleet to begin with.But let us not so far depart from our old habits as to allow the aristocracy to fill our land with soldiers officered by themselves, under pretence of protecting us from the French, for that is not the course likely to promote liberty. Sailors are not like soldiers, the ready instruments of domestic tyranny.
” You are under a mistake about my raising a ballot organisation. I have no personal aim in the matter. I don’t intend to put myself at the head of any fresh movement. I urged the formation of a Ballot Committee to collect information from all parts of the country respecting the ends of open voting, as disclosed at the late election. I have everywhere, when possible, urged the formation of local societies of the same kind and with similar objects in England, Ireland, and Wales. I urged upon some men in the Reform Club, whom I met there (such as Torrens, McCullagh, Haly, &c.) to work in this matter, and I advised them to try to bring Grote out of his shell, to give fresh force to the movement. So far from wanting to supersede our Society, I advised McCullagh to consult you in the first instance. In fact, if you can do the same thing through our Society (which I doubt, for I am not satisfied that we have a sufficient ramification or influential support in the country), it will not require to be done elsewhere. The ballot will be the greatest difficulty to surmount. You have expressed yourself satisfied with Lord John’s five-pound franchise, if made a crucial test, which is not a difficult point to gain. Our object should now be to screw the Whigs up to the ballot, which can only be done by our showing a wide and deep public interest in the question. Hume does not seem to differ with me, judging by the enclosed, which I have just cut out from The Hull Advertiser.
” Ever yours truly,
Here also let us insert another letter, still further illustrating what favourable results Mr. Cobden expected from the ballot :
” Midhurst, 16th October, 1852.
“My dear Walmsley,
” If I can put a spoke in Fox’s wheel, when in Lancashire, I shall be right glad to do so. I can’tbring myself to believe that a sufficient number of Oldham Radicals will be found to stultify themselves by voting for a Tory to defeat our excellent friend.
“ I hope you are taking advantage of the present favourable moment for giving an impulse to the ballot question. The machinery of the Reform Association ought to be employed in collecting information and arraying the forces, so as to take advantage of ‘ flood tide which leads to fortune. ‘
” There is no doubt that the Liberals of England, Wales, and Scotland are now enthusiastic in favour of a ballot movement. Don’t give in for a moment to the cry that the advocates of secret voting seek to shelve the other points of Hume’s programme. They are the only people who are really in earnest for any reform. You are, I see, about to visit Hume. He seems most anxious to prevent the Whigs coming back to office, without being pledged to a specific policy from which the people will gain something.
” The only way to gain his object is by making the ballot- the ‘ sine qua non.’ All other points of the Reformers’ creed the Whigs will dally with, and to some extent concur in. They will avow themselves for extension of suffrage, more equal distribution, no property qualification, and even shorter Parliaments. These are points in which they can agree and yet compromise them with the Lords as they did before.
” But the ballot, which is worth them all, can be neither frittered away, halved, nor quartered. It is ay or no to the entire measure. Doubtless it involves a larger and fiercer struggle to make a stand upon the ballot; it may require that we should keep the Whigs for years in opposition. So much the better.
” They and we are never so useful as when in opposition. I am. sorry to see the tone of The Daily News about our preparations for repelling a French invasion. The insertion of club letters from old soldiers, provoking a panic again, appears to me to be playing the game of the Horse Guards and the aristocracy, and to be putting the so-called Liberal party in the position which they never ought to occupy. If we are to be made to endorse our present warlike expenditure, and even to call for greater armaments, what policy have we to offer the public which can promise any reduction of Government expenditure ? But I forget I am writing to one who shares in the apprehensions I am deprecating. Let me try to convert you by the way. Read the enclosed very carefully, and talk the matter over with Hume, but do not write to me again about discontinuing my peace agitation. “
” Richard Cobden.”
The Queen opened Parliament on the 11th November, and the struggle at once began. On the 23rd, Mr. Charles Villiers submitted a resolution that the Act of 1846 was a wise, just, and beneficial measure, and that the further extension of the policy of Free Trade best suited the prosperity and welfare of the nation. This was opposed by Mr. Disraeli, who declared the intention of Government to resign if the measure were passed in its present form. Mr. Villiers then brought forward a modified resolution, already assented to by Mr. Gladstone. This was carried by a large majority, and thus Government fairly renounced protection, and took the Free Trade pledge.
Beaten on the question of the Budget, ministers resigned after ten months’ tenure of office, and Lord Aberdeen’s coalition ministry succeeded. What Mr. Cobden’s appreciation of it was, will be seen from the following letter :
” The Government is, I suspect, a fair representation of the state of public opinion, i.e. an agreement upon Free Trade, and no decided views upon any other question. The Cabinet is strong in men, but men of most heterogeneous views, and as they are nearly all leaders, it is just the Government in which you may expect a quarrel They have nothing to fear from without at present. I am very much disappointed at the course things have taken in London, Carlisle, Oxford, &c., where candidates have been allowed to walk over, whilst opposing the ballot. “
” In Oxford and Carlisle we have lost two votes upon this question !I attach little importance to the promised Reform Bill. There will, of course, be something proposed, as like as possible to Sir John’s abortive scheme, and which the Lords will deal with as they please, and the country will take little interest in the matter. To carry the ballot, without which anything else is mere sham and of doubtful use, will require lectures and an organisation in every town. To judge by present appearances, you and I shall not last (politically) long enough to see it carried. ”
In the midst of all these political changes, the opponents of Sir Joshua Walmdey and Mr. Gardiner made another attempt to deprive them of their seats. Again a petition was sent up to Parliament against their return, and again a Parliamentary Committee was appointed to try their case. It sat for six days in the early part of April On the seventh, before the case for the defendants had opened, the petitioners against them unreservedly abandoned their charges, and, through their leading counsel, withdrew every imputation upon them and their friends.
We shall conclude this chapter with one more letter of Mr. Cobden’s. Mr. Cobden saw plainly that the apprehension of war in the first place, and the interest in it in the second, would seriously impede the progress of Reform. In August he wrote to Sir Joshua, expressing his fears :
” Assuming that the Government intend to bring in a measure next session, which I suppose they must, unless public opinion can be directed to foreign politics (the oldest device in the world, but which John Bull seems ready enough to swallow), then it is undoubtedly the duty of all Reformers to be at their post, and endeavour to force the Government if it be unwilling, or to help it if it be so inclined, to make it a real and not a sham Reform Bill of our representative system. It appears that you are, beyond most men, pledged to such a course, unless you formally disband your Association ; for when or how can it possibly be of use, if not during the next six months ? I know of no plan for a general co-operation, which is what is most wanted. “
” Bright, in his letter to me yesterday, merely observes : ‘ I suppose there will be nothing doing about the new Reform Bill till November.’ Your old friend sent me a pamphlet yesterday about the ballot, with a note saying that he was giving much of his time to it, and wanting me to give him the names of any persons in Manchester likely to co-operate. I advised him to go or send a deputation to Manchester. This is the question upon which there will be the most determined resistance on all sides on the part of the aristocracy. It will not be carried without the same pressure as that which repealed the Com Law, and it will be accompanied by the same break up of parties, and an overthrow of perhaps more than one Government. “
CHAPTER XXII. This is perhaps the oddest of any of the chapters in the book. To explain some of the context, I’m going to let Ian Buruma explain at little, followed by James Buchanan’s biographer,Jean Baker, in her 2004 book. What on earth a British M.P. was doing there is absolutely extraordinary?
” It must have been quite a party. The anniversary of George Washington’s birthday: February 22, 1854. Mr Saunders, the American consul in London had invited the leading European political exiles for dinner with James Buchanan, the ambassador and future president of the United States. This would show the old countries which side the new world was on. The guest list was a roll call of the failed 1848 revolutions: Lajos Kossuth from Hungary, Alexandre Ledru-Rollin from France, Stanislaw Worcell from Poland, Alexander Herzen from Russia, and from Italy the triumvirate of Mazzini, Garibaldi, and Orsini. Karl Marx was not invited. he represented a faction – known by his critics as the “sulphorous gang” – not a country, and even if he had been invited, he surely would have despised the others as a bunch of bourgeois wets. In Herzen’s memory there were no German guests at all……”
” As with most good parties, this one had various subtexts. For one thing, the Americans had to reconcile their own not wholly liberal sociopolitical arrangements with their professed alliance to the “future federation of free European peoples. ‘ Herzen, who enjoyed such ironies, described the occasion as “ a red dinner, given by the defender of black slavery….. ‘. ” from Anglomania: A European Love Affair By Ian Buruma [currently editor of the New York Review of Books}
James Buchanan became President of the United States in 1856 and his biographer Jean Baker says of him: ” Americans have conveniently misled themselves about the presidency of James Buchanan, preferring to classify him as indecisive and inactive … In fact Buchanan’s failing during the crisis over the Union was not inactivity, but rather his partiality for the South, a favoritism that bordered on disloyalty in an officer pledged to defend all the United States. He was that most dangerous of chief executives, a stubborn, mistaken ideologue whose principles held no room for compromise. His experience in government had only rendered him too self-confident to consider other views. In his betrayal of the national trust, Buchanan came closer to committing treason than any other president in American history. ” Jean H.Baker, James Buchanan, Times Books, New York: 2004. It’s not too fine a point to hold Buchanan as largely responsible for the American Civil War.
Now Chapter XXII:
We have now to introduce a scene of an extraordinary character, of which, happily Sir Joshua has left an account in his own words, in which he was brought face to face with the great foreign revolutionary leaders, and of whose appearance and manner he made at the moment some slight but vivid sketches :
” One morning, in February, 1854, “ he narrates, “ a gentleman was introduced into my study. On looking at his card, I found it was Mr. Saunders, the United States Consul. We had never met before. He intimated to me that his object in calling was to invite me to meet Mr. Buchanan, the American Minister, and some political friends. It was against my rule to accept invitations of a political or party character. I asked Mr. Saunders who the guests would be; the list was as follows: Mazzini, Garibaldi, Louis Kossuth, Walsh, Pulski, Ledru Rollin, Count Woxcell, and Orsini. I could not resist this catalogue of fiery names, and accepted the invitation. “
” At 25, Weymouth Street, Portland Square, the singular gathering took place. Mazzini sat at our host’s right hand. His appearance was very impressive and characteristic His eyes burning in his wasted countenance, his high, narrow forehead, spoke of a mind lofty and pure, but wanting in variety and flexibility. His whole appearance indicated a man of few ideas, but these ideas sublime and true. It was a never-to-be-forgotten sight, this group of patriots assembled together — the simple, manly, honest face of Garibaldi, the attenuated features of Woxcell, the grave and handsome countenance of Kossuth, the beautiful young head of Orsini. The dinner was genuinely American in the abundance and costliness of its service. The wit, the humour, the vivacity of the conversation, were delightful, but so long as servants were present, I knew the talk was superficial. “
” When the cloth was removed and the servants had left the room, the doors were closed. I noticed they were double doors. Then a toast was given ; it was to ‘ Humanity.’ Mazzini was the first to speak. His austere eloquence lit with flashes of enthusiasm, profoundly impressed me. It was like listening to the utterances of the old Hebrew prophets. He sketched the dark part of humanity, trodden down by kings and priests. Then came the struggles of the people for liberty. He saw streaks of the dawn in the present. In the future lay the glorious day of a regenerated humanity, free, self-respecting, on whose banner the word “ Duty ‘ was inscribed. It was from his beloved Italy that he looked for this new revolution to come. “
” Each one of the party, after him, rose and addressed the gathering. And the theme of every speaker was his country’s sufferings in the past and present, and his aspirations for it in the future. All spoke freely, as men who had cast off restraint, and who were convinced of the accomplishment in the future of their object. In discussing their country’s wrongs, they frankly discussed the means by which they proposed to redeem and deliver her. From these means I should ever shrink. But at such a moment the reasoning power of the listeners was carried away on this torrent of fiery zeal, impassioned patriotism, and persuasive eloquence. As patriot after patriot spoke, each seemed to press on to a higher and ever higher view of the subject in hand. “
” After Mazzini, Kossuth addressed us in a speech full of power; but his eloquence was more flowery than Mazzini’s, and left less impression upon me. He was too much of a poet to guide up the dangerous height to which he had climbed. His friend Pulski was more of a man of business, and ever proved himself a sound patriot. “
” Of all that night’s discourses, Garibaldi’s simple and straightforward words moved me most. He seemed to take the wisest view of the course to be pursued, and to bring to the service of the subject the greatest amount of practical knowledge. His address, more unpretentious, was, to my mind, more convincing than the others. Orsini looked like a man inspired by, and resolved upon, his purpose. He spoke with much seeming sorrow of the necessity for deeds which he himself was prepared to accomplish. I shall never forget how young and handsome he looked that night, and I am persuaded that the wisest course Napoleon could have pursued would have been to have pardoned him.
” Of Ledru Rollin I did not conceive a high idea. The impression he made on me was that of a disappointed politician rather than of a patriot. Count Woxcell represented Poland. An exile for many years, he was so poor as often to lack the necessaries of life ; yet he never complained. That night he had evidently risen from a bed of sickness. His fine features contrasted with the exhaustion and feebleness of his frame ; death was stamped on his countenance ; but his mind was bright with hopes of his country’s redemption. As he spoke of Poland’s sufferings, tears flowed down his pale cheeks. “
” When it came to my turn to speak, my heart was full of sadness. The words I had listened to were pregnant with poetry, patriotism, and love of humanity. They all emanated from men singularly gifted ; many whose private life I knew to be most estimable, and whose friendship it was a privilege to possess; and yet they all seemed to me to lack the one great, needful quality — a due sense of the responsibilities they proposed to incur. I felt that I, a cold, practical Englishman, could bring only my meed of common sense to sober their enthusiasm. I condemned and at the same time I sympathised with them ; each I knew was ready to undergo martyrdom for the sake of that which he believed to be his mission. “
” As I listened to them and noted the exalted expression of their countenances, the intellect and emotion that lit up their features, genuine sorrow came over me. It seemed a presentiment of the failure of all their plans, of the cruel fate that awaited some of them. I rose to speak, overwhelmed with diffidence and grief ; but I spoke out frankly what I felt. I told them that the constitutional changes the Liberals in England were seeking to obtain would not be difficult to accomplish, when my countrymen became convinced of their utility; and, therefore, our mission could not compare with theirs. I had listened with delight to the eloquence around me ; but I was unable to divest myself of the belief that the speakers were poets rather than statesmen. “
” They proposed to compass their ends through bloodshed, and yet, should they carry out their object, after inflicting great human suffering, they would find the large mass of the people wholly unprepared for the changes they contemplated Instead of a baptism of blood, it should be a baptism of education that should usher in the new era. Sudden changes in the social condition of any people had ever been followed by a great recoil, and if we would permanently benefit mankind, it must be done by steady and continuous education. “
“ The patriots listened in courteous silence. My words, as I feared, had jarred upon them. I was reassured and delighted, therefore, when Buchanan rose, and said he had listened to many speeches that night, but the one to which he had listened with most pleasure was that of Sir Joshua Walmsley. He then dwelt upon the necessity for caution, pointed out to the exiles the obstacles in their way. He did not appear less earnest than any who had preceded him, but he opposed all violent courses. The patriots assented to all he said. But the spirit of the meeting was chilled, a cloud had passed over it. “
” This extraordinary social and political gathering left a twofold indelible impression upon my mind. These men were honest, earnest, truthful, capable of achieving great good in their generation ; but they were unfit to wield political power. They were men of abstract ideas, wanting in flexibility, and therefore unable to deal with new conditions and circumstances as they arose in the world. ”
The forebodings that had come over Sir Joshua’s mind that night were but too surely realised. Woxcell died in the course of the year, in his humble garret, far from the Poland he loved. A few years later, Orsini’s young head fell on the scaffold. It never has been reserved to Kossuth to strike the blow for Hungary’s freedom, that he had longed and waited for and prepared himself to strike, Garibaldiwas to taste captivity. Mazzini was to know the isolation, drearier than death, when friends drop away from the patriot and idealist, because he is unpractical.
[There is an entertaining footnote at this point: ” It must be observed that this was written before Garibaldi’s subsequent triumphs, and which were brought about by other means than those contemplated at this strange but pathetic symposium.” The triumph being the re-unification of Italy, finally achieved with the fall of Rome on the 20th September 1870. Felice Orsini had been guillotined in Paris in 1858 for attempting to assassinate Napoléon III ]
After the Crimean War, the bitterness of exile was more than ever felt by Kossuth. The conviction forced itself upon him that he would never again be of use to Hungary. In 1856 he writes to Sir Joshua : “ I may have sown for the future ; but the day of harvest I am not to see. I feel I can do nothing more for my country. “ The very hope of seeing it again died out. When this hope was gone — that had been the consolation of his soul through the protracted years of exile — his heart nearly broke.
He had in his children, however, an incentive to work. We find him writing in The Atlas, and partly managing it. Acting under Sir Joshua’s advice, he delivered also, during this period, courses of lectures in the principal towns of England, which drew crowded audiences around him. Some years passed thus, and on 2nd March, 1861, he wrote as follows to Sir Joshua :
” 12, Regent’s Park Terrace,
” Dear Sir Joshua,
” Irrespective of the contents of your two friendly notes, I was very, very agreeably surprised by receiving again your handwriting, once so familiar to me, now not seen for a long time. Your withdrawing from town on the one hand, and the fluctuations which the stirring events of these last years had thrown me into, caused us to lose sight of each other. I, on my part, have maintained, as I always shall, a lively and grateful recollection of our past intercourse. I never ceased to cherish your name as one of those few, but dear friends, who stood faithfully by me in many gloomy moments of my cheerless life, who never wavered in their sympathies through good and evil report, and whose kind advice never failed me in the hour of need. And I see, I rejoice to see, that you are still the same as of yore ; we had lost sight of each other accidentally for some time, yet the first line I receive from you bears again the stamp of your old, still unabated kindness. You never approached me but to do me good, and so you do now…….
“We are about to bid adieu to good, dear old England ; and all of us feel deeply moved at the very thought. I have grown old on its hospitable soil, and my boys have grown from children to manhood on it. It has been endeared to my heart by many ties of imperishable interest ; the protection afforded to my homeless head; the flowers of consolation strewn on my thorny pathway; the inappreciable, still, joys of domesticity ; the recollection of the very hardships I had to overcome and the very cares and sorrows I had, that were mingled with my aspirations as with my daily bread — make England so very, very dear to me, that it is with a pang of melancholy feeling that I part with her. It may be for good, it may be for evil, that I do so ; but I must, so let come what may, it shall be endured.
“ But is not it strange, that to make my cup of vicissitudes full, I have in the very last days of my stay in England to pass through the ordeal of a suit in Chancery, and that too at a Bill of Prayer and Complaint filed against me, by whom? By Francis Joseph, the pretended King of Hungary,
“ Chancery! To be in Chancery is a word of terrific meaning, even to Englishmen, who are used to this ‘peculiar domestic institution:’ the very name of it adds heavy items of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of pounds to one’s budget. My antagonist may have calculated on my incapacity of meeting him on this expensive field, or may be bent on ruining me, before I have waded across half of it. And in this also, he is not unlikely to have made a good account I may break down (not much strain is needed to bring me to this), but ‘ gli prometto la fede mia,’ it shall not be done before I have brought him to such odds with public opinion in this country, that all his speculations on an eventual support from England shall have vanished like a dissolving view. . . .
“ With many affectionate regards,
” I am, dear Sir Joshua,
” Yours very truly,
“Louis Kossuth. “
And here the figure of the great Hungarian patriot drops out of our narrative. Looking at Hungary,as she now stands, in recovered full possession of her antique constitutional rights, the violation of which had driven Kossuth to take the field, may we not say that his prediction as to the day of harvest has been fulfilled ? The day Francis Joseph had to submit to being crowned King of Hungary, in Pesth, and there solemnly swear observance of all her privileges, Kossuth stood vindicated in the eyes of history. Nor were his efforts in England vain. Through his speeches the people at large were made acquainted with the character of the question at issue, that it was one involving laws and religion akin to their own, and doubtless English sympathy with the Hungarians, and English example of combat by moral means, encouraged and inspired the opposition party in the Hungarian Diet under the leadership of Deak, to which eventually the House of Hapsburg was obliged to yield.
CHAPTER XXI. This chapter takes us from 1851 to the start of the Crimean War in 1854. It’s mainly about Louis Kossuth who was a Hungarian émigré. Louis Kossuth (1802 -1894) was a Hungarian nobleman, lawyer, journalist, politician, statesman and Governor-President of the Kingdom of Hungary during the revolution of 1848–49. He was regarded as a liberal European statesman, and was seeking Hungarian independence from the Hapsburg Austro-Hungarian Empire. Hungary was a considerably larger country in the C19th, it lost 72% of its territory to neighbouring states in 1920.to Romania, Czechoslovakia,Serbia, Croatia, Slovakia, Austria, Poland, and Italy.
Lord Dudley Stuart who was one of Kossuth’s main parliamentary supporters was the Liberal M.P. for Marylebone. He was the youngest son of the 1st Marquess of Bute, and his mother was a member of the Coutts banking family. He married Princess Christine Bonaparte (1798–1847) in 1824, following her divorce from Count Arvid Posse, when he was twenty-one, and she was twenty-six. Her younger half-sister Princess Letizia Bonaparte (1804–1871) had married Sir Thomas Wyse three years earlier aged just sixteen.
On the 23rd of October, 1851, Kossuth landed at Southampton, and his reception there was of the most cordial kind. A crowd of his countrymen waited his arrival, cheering loudly the moment they caught sight of him. The English crowd greeted him with their usual enthusiasm as a man who, though beaten and an exile, had done good service in the cause of liberty and reform.
Mr. Cobden’s letter is dated the 10th of November, 1851 :
” My dear Walmsley,
” I got your letter at the moment I was starting for Southampton to pay my respects to Kossuth, otherwise it should have been answered earlier. I found the Hungarian leader at Winchester, in Andrew’s house, where I passed part of a couple of days with him. He is very much what I pictured him — mild, pensive, and earnest. In his features he is not unlike the lithographs, which, however, have given a romantic touch to the expression of his face, and a depth of colour to his blue eye, which does not quite fairly represent the original. He is slight and delicate in person ; and, if I must confess it, I should add, that his tout ensemble does not impress me with the idea of that power which he must undoubtedly have possessed to have been able to rise to the foremost place in a revolution, and to sway such human materials as surrounded him in the Diet and the camp. I suspect that his eloquence and moral qualities were the main source of his strength. He is undoubtedly a genius both as an orator and a writer. His speech, in English, at Andrew’s dinner, for more than an hour, was delivered with scarcely a mistake. Under all circumstances, it was one of the most marvellous performances I ever listened to. There was little attempt at rhetorical display, but it was a masterly English speech. ”
After a few weeks’ sojourn in England, Kossuth started for America. It was not till his return in the latter part of 1852, that his acquaintance with Sir Joshua began. They met at Mr. Cobden’s house. Speaking of the Hungarian patriot, Sir Joshua said :
” His striking appearance, his gentlemanly bearing, the quick sensitiveness of his nature that found such ready expression in impassioned words, the keen sense of a mission imposed upon him, all this explained to me the influence he had exercised over his countrymen. In conversation, Kossuth often reverted to Hungary. He spoke in a spirit of discouragement, yet there always lurked in his words faith in his mission. ”
There appeared in The Times of the 15th April, 1853, the announcement that the house of M. Kossuth had been searched by commissaries, consequent upon intelligence received by the Secretary of State, and that there had been discovered ” a store of arms and ammunition and materials of war, which may be the stock-in-trade of a political incendiary, but certainly form no part of the household goods of a private gentleman in pacific retirement. ” At this announcement of breach of faith towards English hospitality. Sir Joshua wrote to Kossuth He received the following reply :
“ 2l, Alpha Road, April 15th, 1853.
” Dear Sir Joshua,
” In answer to your note, I have the honour to assure you that not only the statement of The Times referring to my house having been searched, and arms and ammunition been found, is from Alpha to Omega false, but I can also add, that should it be indeed the case that the laws of England do not protect men from the most odious of preventive police measures, ‘ a domiciliary searching,’ no such discovery of arms, &c., could be made ; as, be it good or bad, it is a fact that I have no store of arms and ammunition in England, nor ever had since I am on English soil. “
” Anticipating, as I indeed do, that the time will yet come when I will have to use arms in a good cause, I follow with constant interest every new invention and every improvement in the fabrication of firearms, and neglect no opportunity to get knowledge of them, and to ascertain their practical results ; but I know what is due to the laws of your country while I live under their protection, and therefore I have never tried to have any store of arms in England, and indeed neither had nor have, whether in my house or anywhere else within the boundaries of English dominions. “
” With high and sincere regards,
” Yours respectfully,
” L. Kossuth,”
Sir Joshua brought the question before the House of Commons on the following evening.
” Had M. Kossuth’s house been searched by order of the Government ? ”
Lord Palmerston’s answer was evasive.
“ A house, not occupied by M. Kossuth, at Rotherhithe had been searched, and large quantities of gunpowder and several war-rockets had been found on the premises. “
On this, Mr. Duncombe rose and gave the following explanation of the mystery : “ The house that had been searched, and in which war implements had been found, belonged to Mr. Hales, a trader in gunpowder, who six years ago had taken a patent for the manufacture of a certain sort of rocket. “
” He had offered his invention several times to the Government, and the sale of these rockets had been going on to foreign governments for the last six years. M. Kossuth was in no way implicated in the matter. ”
The Liberals, headed by Lord Dudley Stuart, Mr. Cobden, Mr. Bright, and Sir Joshua Walmsley, took up M. Kossuth’s defence, and in his name disclaimed all underhand connection with the manufacture of war-rockets. The question was allowed to remain over, however, until Mr. Hales had stood his trial. The trial came off at the end of April. No evidence advanced could inculpate Kossuth. Lord Palmerston, in the House on the 5th of May, confirmed what the court had decided, ” that the evidence did not bear out or justify any proceedings against any other person, British or foreign. “ Once more M. Kossuth’s friends in Parliament warmly repudiated the charge so lightly made against him.
No patriot ever came into exile with cleaner hands than did M. Kossuth. He who had once had the control of the Hungarian treasury, was now nobly poor. We give the following letter, for it shows in what spirit he could accept help from the sympathisers of his country’s cause, but now he rejected it, when it came from others. The letter is dated February 3rd, 1854, when Government was still hesitating, temporising, and“ drifting into war. “ It was a moment of supreme import to the Hungarian leader, one laden with issues momentous to his country.
” Dear Sir Joshua,
“Several topics of importance induce me to trouble you with this communication. But before I begin, I beg permission to express the high gratification I felt at witnessing the late juvenile party at your house. It was a charming, cheerful view, such as can do good to a sad heart, as mine but too much is.
” Now, at once let me jump in medias res. It is not the least of the many curses attending misfortune like that of mine, that we cannot help but submit to the imperious necessity of accepting personal favours from compassionate friends, favours weighing heavily on our heart and soul, because we don’t know if we can ever reciprocate them.
” However, when the misfortune which forced us into the category of subventioned individuals is of a public nature, which ennobles our unenviable but not dishonourable position by the character of martyrdom for a sacred and virtuous cause ; and when the favours offered originate in sympathy for that cause, we think we may accept them without degrading our character, because we consider them as marks of approval of our principles and of our public conduct ; then we receive them with gratitude, we accept them as an encouragement to pursue the course which good and honourable men thus countenance.
” But when a personal benefit comes from a man hostile to the cause we suffer for, from one of the oppressors of our country, then the favour thus proffered assumes quite the degrading character of giving alms; equally offensive on the part of the donor, who takes us for base enough to be able to endure such a humiliation, as it would be infamous on our part to receive it.
” No, the cup of adversity may be yet more fully poured upon my head than it already is, the most, horrid misery may be thrown in the scale ; I might see my dear wife and children near starvation, crying out with a silent tear for a bit of bread, and my heart breaking at the sight, but not even the bread which would save them from starving would I ever take from a man who, being a friend to the enemies of my country, is my own dear country’s enemy.
“There is a distinguished and influential gentleman in England, who by former manifestations entitled me fully to take him for a friend of the cause with which ray existence is identified, and I cherished him as such with sincere gratitude, quite as much as I honoured him and honour him for his moral and intellectual qualities. I took him so much for a friend, that I approached him with unbounded confidence ; so much so, that I had no hesitation in not only receiving, but even asking from him personal favours and assistance for myself and my fellow-exiles. Now, of late this gentleman showed himself in the most decisive manner an open abettor of my country’s enemies. I have no claim or other views from him ; he is not bound to be my country’s ally, but I can certainly not play ignorance and cannot consider him a friend when he is an enemy. From such a man I cannot be base enough to hold any benefits. What in taking him for a friend I accepted, nay asked from him, weighs already too oppressively on my breast. I am just about to sell whatever I have, and at whatever price, to acquit myself of the material part of my obligations towards him for the past ; and as for the future, I certainly will never receive the slightest personal favour from one who is my country’s enemy.
” And as I have reason to suspect that that gentleman took an active and prominent part in that generous arrangement for my family which I unhesitatingly, and my soul filled with gratitude, accepted from your kind and friendly hands ; and for which I so gladly owe to you the warmest and sincerest gratitude, I therefore beg leave very pressingly to entreat you to be pleased to communicate to me the names as well as the amount of each of the contributions ; else, not knowing who they are, I would be placed in the awkward position of not knowing how far I may continue a generous assistance of sympathising friends without submitting to the insupportable degradation of accepting alms from an enemy.
” My second request is, would you kindly inform me where and how I may get a copy of the Blue Books on the Oriental question ?
” Further, it is evident that pending matters must soon come to a decision. Either there will be a speedy transaction (compromise), or a serious war between Russia on the one hand, and England and France on the other. And, in case of war, Austria can no longer temporise ; she is forced to make her choice between the Western powers and Russia. Now, in case she sides with the Western powers, England and France will become her friends and allies, and therefore our enemies ; and we can have nothing to hope from England, neither as a state, nor from Englishmen as particulars.
” That’s evident, and that’s natural. But as that issue is not at all certain yet, as the contrary is equally probable, I cannot think that the ministers of a great country like this, living blindly from the hand to the mouth, could have neglected to make up their minds about the course of policy which they intend to follow in that emergency.
” And I cannot imagine that there should be wanting private individuals in England, who, upon the condition of seeing England at war with Russia, and Austria siding with Russia, would feel inclined (as then authorised they certainly would be) to constitute a centre of active and effective agitation for the facilitation of such an assistance, which in that case private sympathy may feel inclined to afford the oppressed nationalities, then the natural allies of England.
” Hence, I beg leave to ask from your kindness, first, in what way and by whom the Government may be asked confidentially (but not publicly) whether, in the case of the above supposition, and in that emergency only, it intends to make any use, or afford any favour, to the Polish, Hungarian, or Italian nationalities ; second, whom would you think to be the fit men to act (always upon the same condition) as a committee of friends of Hungary, that I might timely enter into some consultation with them about the mode of possible immediate action, once that emergency arriving?
“These are very important matters, dear Sir Joshua, and it is their importance which will excuse me for asking your advice, equally valuable, as it is urgently demanded by pressing circumstances ; else we may be surprised by events, and found unprepared to do what then might be done.
” Please to accept the assurance of my high esteem and affectionate consideration, with which
I have the honour to be,
” Yours respectfully,
” Louis Kossuth.
In March came the Queen’s message, apprising her people that the long-pending negotiations for peace had failed, and that she was at war with the Czar. The country received the message with acclamation. It had grown weary of diplomatic reserve ; it had lost faith in the conferences at Vienna, with their fluctuating results.
CHAPTER XX. This chapter covers from February, 1849, when Josh was elected M.P. for Bolton, through to the spring of 1852. The family had left Ranton Abbey and were definitely in London by 1851. The census shows Josh and Adeline, with the two youngest girls living at 101 Westbourne Terrace, in Bayswater, just north of the park. It was a grand address, in a newly-built terrace. According to the History of the County of Middlesex. ” The most spacious and dignified avenue is Westbourne Terrace, begun c. 1840 and ‘unrivalled in its class in London or even Great Britain’. The houses form long stuccoed terraces of four storeys and attic over a basement, with pillared porches, many of them designed by T. Marsh Nelson. They face carriage drives and were separated on either side from the tree-shaded roadway by screen walls surmounted by railings. ” The family had six servants, including 32 year-old scouser Thomas Randdes who was presumably a butler. Adeline had a French ladies maid. Next door to Radical Reform M.P. Sir Josh was Radical Reform M.P. Richard Cobden who was scraping by with only three servants.
The Papal aggression, and the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill are fairly easily explained. The ” aggression ” was the restoration of the Catholic diocesan hierarchy by Pius IX in 1850, and the Bill was the government response to it, which made it a criminal offence ” for anyone outside the Church of England to use any episcopal title “of any city, town or place, or of any territory or district (under any designation or description whatsoever), in the United Kingdom. ” It was almost a dead-letter from the start, and was repealed twenty years later.
Sir Joshua now contested the borough of Bolton, for which he was returned in 1849. Though not an eloquent speaker, he possessed much ready tact. The town seemed divided into two factions, nick- named ” Broadcloths “ and ” Fustians.” At the close of a meeting, some person requested that they might hear their representative on Mr. Hume’s scheme of reform. The following evening was fixed for the purpose, and the hall overflowed with Fustian Jackets.
They listened with intelligent attention, and seemed to understand and approve of the scheme. Suddenly the unanimity of the proceedings was threatened. One of the Fustian Jackets rose, and in a speech full of dry humour and mother wit, criticised incisively the whole project. Each period wound up with the words : ” But I have a question to ask of our esteemed representative. “ This was spoken in a drawling tone, and each time provoked cheers and roars of laughter.
At last the query was put : “ Where, sir, are your Broadcloths to-night? “ This was pregnant with danger, pointing, as it did, to the smouldering enmity between classes, which kept the upperabsent from a workmen’s meeting. Sir Joshua rose. Complimenting the speaker on his ability, he continued : ” I must also ask him a question. Does he remember Queen Elizabeth’s reply when asked a similar one at a very important meeting. ‘ Where were her guards ? ’was the query. The Queen points to the masses before her : ‘ There are my guards,’ she replied. In the same language I would reply : ‘ There are my Broadcloths.’ The meeting proved a very successful one, and for years afterwards a very ragged jacket was always called in Bolton ‘ Walmsley Broadcloth ‘ . ”
In that year the National Reform Association, under his presidency, began its labours, and soon spread like a network over the country. Mr. Fox, Colonel Thompson, Osborne, Roebuck, Slack, and many others joined heartily in the movement, and became speakers or lecturers.
In the House, Sir Joshua never missed an opportunity to bring the question forward. No sooner were his parliamentary duties over than he scoured the country from Southampton to Aberdeen, addressing crowded audiences.
During the year 1850 alone, the Association held upwards of two hundred and twenty public meetings, and published one hundred and twenty thousand tracts. Conferences in London, Manchester, and the larger towns were held. Branch associations were fostered ; freehold land societies founded ; and in London, Drury Lane Theatre was engaged as a place of meeting. “ During the life of the Association,” says Sir Joshua, ” upwards of six hundred large meetings were held, and in no instance did we fail to obtain a vote in favour of our programme. “ Early in October, 1849, Mr. Hume, Mr. Fox, and Sir Joshua visited Norwich. St. Andrew’s Hall was crowded; the reception was enthusiastic, and filled them with hope.
Here is Mr. Cobden’s view of the matter :
” October 6th, 1849.
” My dear Walmsley,
” I was much interested in reading the accounts of your proceedings. As an old hack in these matters, however, let me warn you against relying on the influence of these demonstrations. If such a meeting could be got up without the attendance of Hume, yourself, and other stars, it would have been a sign of spontaneous feeling. As it is, people can conclude that the meeting assembled to hear and stare at certain public men ; and, let me tell you, it is perfectly understood that with a moderate time for giving due notice in advance, the attraction of the names of those who figured in St. Andrew’s Hall would fill the largest room in the country.
Then comes the question, how such a demonstration can be turned to good ? Be assured it is only by impressing on your friends the benefits of organisation and steady work at the registration and at the forty- shilling freeholds, that any impression will be made.
Old Sir Thomas Potter used to wind up all his agitating speeches by these words, accompanying them with a heavy thump of his fist on the table : ‘Work, work, work!’ Try to impress the same on your friends. The Daily News to-day has an admirable article on your meeting, contrasting well with the rhodomontade [vain and empty boasting] of The Times, which shirks the question as usual.
” Believe me, faithfully yours,
The same friendly greeting everywhere met the deputants of the Association. The Liberal London papers occasionally drew attention to the reports of crowded public meetings in provincial towns, and local papers reported the proceedings of branch societies, where the principles of the mother Association were discussed by the labouring and manufacturing classes. Yet, on the whole, this Reform movement attracted little public attention. One important result from it, after awhile, however, became manifest. The antagonism between the industrial and middle classes was declining. Meetings were held, at which a spirit of conciliation prevailed.
For example: “ At Aberdeen,” says Sir Joshua, ” where it was reputed that Chartism was rife, on the eve of the great meeting held by the Association, a committee of working-men was formed, where all agreed to renounce extreme views, in order to avoid giving offence to the middle classes. At the meeting, two thousand artisans, weavers, and mechanics attended, and cheered the speeches of the members of the Association. At Southampton, reputed another hot-bed of Chartism, the largest building in the town did not suffice to hold the crowd assembled to greet the suffrage reformers. A deputation of workmen attended. After my speech, the leader of the band stepped on the platform, and holding out his hand to me in the name of his fellow- workers, gave their adhesion to the principles of the National Reform Association. Up to that period, it had been impossible for the middle-class Reformers to hold public meetings, without interruption from the operatives, but now the two classes meet in every part of the kingdom. ”
Mr. Cobden acknowledged this important and beneficial result, at a Reform gathering held in Manchester, in 1851. ” By holding public meetings, “ he said, ” in the spirit of Mr. Hume’s motion. Sir Joshua Walmsley has conciliated large masses of the working-classes, and after many difficulties, he has enabled us to hold others in the same spirit. ”
Two absorbing interests filled the public mind, when Parliament met in February, 1851 —indignation at the Papal brief issued from the Vatican in the previous October, constituting an episcopal hierarchy in England and Wales ; and pleasant anticipations of the forthcoming great Exhibition. The feebleness of the ministry was admitted by all ; but the nation, looking forward to its holiday, hoped that when the measure for defeating the Papal aggression was passed, all needful work being accomplished, the ministry might yet get through the remaining labours of the session.
In the first week of the meeting of Parliament, the Premier brought forward the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill, the scope of which we need not now enter upon. The anticipations, however, of a calm session, devoted to the accomplishment of a single enactment, were not realised. During the first lull in the discussion of the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill, Sir Joshua Walmsley asked Lord John Russell if it was the intention of ministers during this session to extend the franchise, and amend the deficiencies of the Reform Act of 1832.
Lord John answered that it was not the intention of ministers to do so during the present session, but promised certain amendments of the Reform Act, when the proper time came. This vague answer did not secure peace for the Government. Mr. Locke King followed a few nights after, on the 20th February, with the request for leave to bring in a bill to make the franchise in counties in England and Wales the same as in boroughs, i.e. the occupation of a tenement value ten pounds a-year. In the course of his speech, opposing Mr. Locke King’s motion, Lord John Russell gave a distinct pledge to bring in a new Reform Bill, should he be in office in the course of the ensuing session. He admitted that his views would not ” altogether meet with the approbation of the hon. member for Montrose and other gentlemen who agree with him; but, “ he continued, ” considering that by next session twenty years would have passed since the passing of the Reform Bill, I think it desirable to consider whether there are not great numbers of our fellow-countrymen not possessed of the franchise, who are fully qualified to exercise the suffrage, and whose exercise of the suffrage would tend to the improvement of the House. ”
Mr. Cobden attended the first meeting of the Association, at the London Tavern, after Lord John Russell’s declaration. His presence at this meeting testified to the altered position of the reform question. In simple and magnanimous language, Mr. Cobden now rendered homage to the work done by Sir Joshua and his council. ” I may say that I was a subscriber from the first to his National Reform Association. Sir Joshua Walmsley knows how I have sympathised with him, and at the same time how I frankly told him I could not boast of working as he had done. I have taken no prominent or active part in the agitation conducted under his auspices, but I feel no less warmly thankful to those who have done so; those who have kept the lamp of reform burning, and have trimmed it at a time when it was very likely to be neglected by the great body of the people. I feel grateful to all who have done so, under circumstances of neglect from myself and others. ”
He declared the question the Association had in hand the most practical one that politicians had to deal with ; and distinguishing, as Sir Joshua had always done, the reform of the suffrage from the reform of every other interest, he called upon the people ” to throw themselves into the question of parliamentary reform, in a way that would prove to the world that the English people had not lost that old attribute of their nation, that they knew how to seize the proper time for doing their own work in their own way. ”
After a short trip on the Continent to recruit his health. Sir Joshua returned and once more took his place at the head of the movement. Always unsparing in energy to attain whatever object he had set before himself, his labours during the recess of 1851-52 were excessive. As president of the Association, he took upon himself the management of its organisation, and bore the whole anxiety of its economical arrangements. His correspondence was a weighty item in his day’s work, for he adhered during this busy period to his invariable custom of answering by return of post every communication that called for a reply. As president, where fellow-workers were not called upon to attend, he was present at every meeting held by the Association, and these meetings were now held in every town, often with only interval enough to allow him to travel from place to place. Refusals to help in the work of stirring up an inert people came from the stanchest and oldest friends of progress.
The following letter from Mr. Hume accounts for his refusal, and gives also an interesting account of a recognition of his services by his native place :
” Glen Quart, 2nd October, 1851.
“ It is my anxious desire to forward the cause of reform in the most efficient manner, and consistent with the views and intentions on the subject of onward movement and the state of my health.
” I am much better, but always tired and done up at night, which proves to me that the stamina is not quite sound as yet, and that I must take care of my health. That is one reason. But the chief one is, that it is not consistent with my views for strangers to take the lead in any public measure affecting all classes, such as reform in Parliament, where the inhabitants of the place do not move and act in chief.
” There is no reason whatever why I should force myself, uncalled-for, by the people of Liverpool ! I could not avoid attending my own boroughs, as there I was on my own dunghill, but I declined to appear at Aberdeen, as I should have done at Inverness if asked. But, unknown to me, the magistrates and council met, and voted me the freedom of their borough and placed me next on their list to Lord Gough and Prince Albert. I had only been two hours in the borough (and without seeing one of that body) on my route to Red Castle, seven miles off, when the compliment was paid, and I declined to a deputation of magistrates who came the seven miles at 8 A. M. to invite me to a public dinner, but consented to drive in next day, Saturday, the 29th, at one o’clock, to receive the freedom. I desired that to be a meeting of the magistrates and council alone, but the anxiety of the inhabitants generally that I should pay the town a visit, induced me to agree to the meeting. I send you a newspaper and you will see what I have said, and as far as I can learn, all classes are satisfied. Now, it is impossible for me to get to Liverpool or any other place in England merely to make a speech (Scotland is my own field) as you propose to me.
“ If I had to receive the freedom, or any other fair and reasonable excuse, I would with pleasure meet your views when you consider that the cause we have at heart must thereby be promoted, and I hope that explanation will meet your approbation, though against your wishes.
” I think, at my age, I ought not to run the risk of being considered and called an itinerant agitator. As president of the Reform Association, you can appear anywhere the Association is wanted, but I cannot do so with propriety.
“ I hope to be in London by the 10th, as Mrs. Hume has only given me leave to the 14th to be at Somerton, where I am much wanted.
” My daughter has been enjoying the scenery here, which is really stupendous, and grander than any I had thought was in Scotland, and if the (time ?) admitted my friends in this part of the country would detain us longer.
” I remain, yours sincerely,
The Free Trade Hall, Manchester, peopled with memories of the Anti-Corn League, was held to be the fittest place in which to inaugurate the new series of the society’s meetings. Mr. Cobden was unable to attend. While still on the Continent, Sir Joshua had received the following letter, declining to do so :
” Midhurst, September 10, 1851.
” My dear Walmsley,
” We are glad to learn that you have carried off Lady Walmsley and your family to the other side of the Channel, and hope to hear that they are deriving great benefit from the change of air and scene. I am leading the life of a hermit here, entirely out of the world, without any companions or acquaintances beyond my own family circle. We are in a thriving way, the children are as wild as young lambs in April. I got a letter from the secretary of the Reform Meeting, but I found it absolutely necessary in self-defence to decline the invitation. If I go to the North on the 24th, I can’t come back again. Already there are several engagements hanging over me for Yorkshire and Lancashire, and my only chance of escaping for a time from the platform treadmill is by declining to break corn at all. I don’t exactly understand the object or character of your intended meeting. If it be a gathering of Chartists offering the right hand to those who advocate Hume’s four points, the more it preserves the form of a working-class assembly the better. But, if it be intended for a Manchester demonstration in favour of a new Reform Bill, you must take care to secure theattendance of the influential men of all classes. Whatever may be the nature of your gathering, I do not doubt that it will be abundantly satisfactory in point of numbers.
” The difficulty will be in forming and sustaining an organisation for permanent action. There never was much enthusiasm in favour of political reform in the manufacturing districts whilst trade was prosperous, employment good, and bread cheap, which you will be glad to find is the case now. And the present glorious harvest weather for the North of England seems to place all danger of any reverses out of the question for next year. Now, this is the safe time for making reforms, and if men acted from calm reflection and sober reasoning, instead of wild and sudden impulse, this is the time we should choose for amending representation. Let us hope that after the Exhibition closes the nation will consider its holiday ended, and begin to occupy itself with serious business. I shall look with interest to your proceedings in Manchester as the opening of the campaign and with kind regards to all your circle.
The meeting took place on September 24th, Mr. Wilson being in the chair. It principally consisted of working-men, who crowded every comer of the hall. This meeting was the first of a series held in every large town in the kingdom. Sir Joshua Walmsley’s speeches delivered during this time were the careful exposition and vigorous advocacy of Mr. Hume’s scheme of reform. We may sum up their tenor thus : Abridged duration of Parliaments, in order to preserve identity of opinion and purpose between representatives and their constituents. Extension of the suffrage, in order to bring within the pale of the constitution the interests and opinions of the unrepresented masses. Equality amongst constituencies, in order to insure a real and fair representation of national electors. The ballot as an indispensable requisite to honest elections.
We have mentioned incidentally the attempts made by the more violent Chartists, known as ” Physical Force Chartists, “ to obstruct the movements of the Association. ” On one occasion,” says Sir Joshua, “it happened that a large hall had been taken by the Association, where deputies from various parts of England, who had attended the congress for the consideration of the reform question, were to assemble; the hall, with the exception of the places reserved for the deputies, was as usual left free to the public. When the evening came, the delegates found to their consternation that every corner of the hall was packed with Chartists. At the first resolution proposed by Mr. Hume, who occupied the chair, Mr. Ernest Jones, who evidently possessed the confidence of the assembled crowd, rose, and moved a counter-resolution of adhesion to the people’s Charter, amidst tremendous cheering. I took the situation in at a glance, and saw the error we had committed in giving free admission to the hall. “
” Instead of discussing the reform question, I asked the chairman’s permission for this evening to debate with Mr. Ernest Jones the people’s Charter. Permission being granted, Mr. Ernest Jones was invited to say his say on the platform. His speech was fluent, plausible, and was received with storms of applause from the assembly, who did not perceive now utterly it had drifted from the question in hand. The subject of the Charter was scarcely touched upon. He launched into superficial platitudes connected with the intricacies of capital and labour. “
” When the loud cheers had partly subsided, I rose, and asking for fair-play and a quiet hearing, at once proceeded to answer Mr. Ernest Jones. It was a difficult task. The sympathies of the crowd were against me, and were fully roused. In a few words I pointed out that Mr. Jones had wandered from the question. The principles of the Charter had been the subject proposed. Little discussion, I showed, was necessary on this point, for on the Charter as a declaration of principles, there was no difference amongst us. The real object of Mr. Jones’s speech was to bring into antagonism, instead of into co-operation of mutual interests, the working classes and their employers. ‘ This cry of capital as being opposed to labour. ’ I said, ‘ is a miserable fallacy, and an unworthy attempt to create ill-will and inflame the passions rather than to convince the reason of the masses. I shall dispose of it by asking this simple question of the working-men around me : What would be the position of labour in the present state of society without capital? ‘ “
” I concluded by making it clear how much Mr. Jones had underrated the value of the extension of the suffrage, for which the Association was agitating. At the close of my address, there was a division, and from the lately hostile assembly less than one hundred hands were held up for Mr. Jones’s views. This is not the only occasion in which we have met with opposition from the more violent Chartists, but on none were our objects or our propositions defeated. With a just cause, the good sense and truthfulness of the masses may be successfully appealed to. ”
Some slight division of opinion still existed between the leaders of the Association and a few of the Liberal members of the House of Commons. On the general principle of Mr. Hume’s scheme they were united; on some minor points they differed. To argue out these points, it was decided to call a conference at Manchester. The invitation came from the Lancashire and Yorkshire Liberals.
Here let us insert an amusing letter from Mr. Hume, giving a hint how to treat a rival’s opposition :
” Burnley Hall, 20th November, 1851.
“My dear Sir Joshua,
“ I have yours of the 14th, and I am pleased that you are to be here soon, as the time approaches for the movement in favour of reform. It is impossible for me to leave this place, on many grounds, and therefore you must not think of it.
” I take a different view from you as to your course in the council of the R. and F. Association. Your address in the first place is too long to be read, in the second place it is throughout complaining, as if you were fearful the demonstration at Manchester were to oppose your parliamentary reform movements, and I consider that bad tactics. I believe there is great jealousy of you and of your movement, and that some of the parties would, if they could, throw you overboard and take the lead, as if they and they only were the parties to head and to urge on the movement.
“I would do as we did in 1810-11 with the education movement. I was on the committee of the Lancastrian move, and on behalf of the Dukes of Kent and Sussex, kept their movements right. At a time when Churchmen opposed the education of the masses, they at first took no notice of our progress ; then when they found we had made and were making progress, they resolved toestablish their own association (known as the Baldwin Court Association) for the Church alone, limiting the teaching to Church-men’s children or such as would read the Bible alone.
” At a public meeting at the Freemasons’ Hall, the Duke of Kent in the chair, I moved resolutions that we considered education (as you have done reform in the manifesto or address — I don’t like manifesto — at Manchester) essential for the future welfare of the people, and we congratulated the country on the establishment of the Baldwin Court Association in aid of the cause of education. We hailed them as coadjutors in the great cause, and we urged them to do their best to promote it, though limited to their own Churches, whilst ours was education for all.
” I did the same when King’s College was set up, in opposition to Gower Street University ; we held the King’s as an assistant and coadjutor, etc
” We never showed any symptoms of jealousy, as 4 if they intended to injure us. Now, if you take the same course, make the corrections of the address on the 27th, as far as I have sent you, leave out all the rest. Congratulate the country, or rather the friends and advocates of reform, that so influential a body as the Yorkshire and Lancashire proprietors and manufacturers were at length awake to the importance of the question ; and as Cobden, Bright, and others have subscribed to my motion, you take care to assume that their advocacy of these four points (as set forth in my motion, which should be copied verbatim) will do great good, and convince Lord John that nothing less than what I ask for can be proposed ; take it for granted that those who meet at Manchester (especially as Mr. Wilson, who was your chairman, will be in all probability their chairman) must at the least support all we had advocated.
” Indeed, they should advocate, as the first move, the abolition of sixty or seventy places like St Alban’s (into Schedule A), and then take my motion (or your address) as their problem.
“Treat every meeting as in aid of you, and as arising from your late efforts, and show not one breath of fear or alarm at the conduct of the cotton lords, although there is reason to believe they do not mean us well.
” I hope these few words will be enough to indicate to you the course I would take.
” When you fix the day for your public meeting, I will send you a letter of excuse to read, and will take the course I have chalked out, which I feel confident is the true one to take. The more slippery the point you have to deal with, the more my plan is recommended
” Yours sincerely,
On Wednesday, 3rd of December, the conference was held at the Spread Eagle Inn. In the evening, a meeting of seven thousand people assembled in the Free Trade Hall. Mr. Bright, in a speech of massive and luminous eloquence, set forth the resolution agreed to at the morning conference.
On the ballot, triennial Parliaments, and a redistribution of the electoral franchise, the delegates were all agreed.
On the question of the suffrage, some dissent existed ; the more advanced Liberals opposing the insertion of a rate-paying clause as a condition of the exercise of the franchise. There had been some debating also on the necessary length of residence.
These were minor points of divergence, and the leaders of the Reform movement agreed to overlook them. Mr. Cobden, Mr. Bright, Mr. Hume, and Sir Joshua Walmsley laboured strenuously to preserve unanimity amongst their followers. There was in truth no practical difference between them; but some amongst them could not be made to see that, and imprudent speeches were sometimes made at public meetings.
” If there is a difference between us, “ writes Mr. Cobden, ” it is only in details, and not such as should induce reformers to place themselves as wranglers and quibblers amongst themselves in the face of their enemies. ”
Again he writes on the same subject :
” Midhurst, 15th January, 1852.
“My dear Walmsley,
” In reply to your inquiry about the mode of uniting the Metropolitan and Northern movement, I repeat I can see no differences to adjust; at least not in your programmes. There have been personal causes of alienation, almost exclusively arising from the class remarks of our friend Thompson, levelled at the large employers, who constitute the money strength of the Liberal party in Lancashire and Yorkshire. He seems unfortunately to have spoken under the influence of soured feelings, which have left a sting that will not easily be cured. I stick to my often-repeated doctrine, that the Northern capitalists, with all their imperfections, are the most liberal of their order in this United Kingdom. I speak particularly of the mill-owners and manufacturers of Lancashire and Yorkshire. They stand almost alone of their class, for even in Staffordshire and the other iron districts, you rarely find men of their wealth with the same disposition to share political power with the people. I foresee a complete deadlock and jumble of political parties in the House in the approaching session. If the Irish members should be faithful to their mission, they may knock the Whigs about like ninepins ; nor can any party govern until the country is prepared to recognise the principle of religious liberty as thoroughly as it does that of Free Trade, and repudiates as completely all interference by Parliament with Catholics as with corn. But what will your flaming Liberals of The M. D. Advertiser and The Daily News say to that ?
I hope to be in London next week, and we can then talk over matters. Meantime,
“I remain, very truly yours,
” RICHARD COBDEN. ”
Mr. Hume also wrote :
” Burnley Hall, 26th January, 1852.
“My dear Sir Joshua,
” In respect to the threatened extension of the parliamentary reform beyond what was agreed upon as a fair and wise compromise in 1849, at the meetings previous to the wording of the motion that should comprehend what we had agreed upon, I can only remark that the advocacy, at the coming conference, of such extreme principles would be very unwise, and tend to shake the ranks of reformers throughout the country.
“I observe that the principles comprehended in our motion have been very generally approved of by the mass of the working classes (who are the parties chiefly excluded), and whoever disturbs that feeling is not a friend to progress.
“No man will stand on strict principle more than I will, when any good object is to be gained. But as I really desire to see the scheme of reform we proposed carried out, I hope we shall keep true to the compromise.
” In a free government like England, where every man is a politician, I may say with truth that every act of the Legislature is an act of compromise ; and he is the wise man that compromises to carry out good measures. Let us therefore act with consistency and wisdom, in that respect ; and I hope your council will well consider what I have stated as the course we can take in the coming contest. I shall not listen to a ten-pound or a five-pound franchise, but hold to the constitutional principles as set forth in the motion.
“I shall be up on Monday evening, and if you have anything to communicate to me before then, write to me here.
“ It is a delightful day, after a stormy night of wind and rain.
” Yours sincerely,
” Joseph Hume. ”
On the 3rd February, 1852, Parliament was opened by the Queen in person. The royal speech recommended an amendment of the representative system. On the 9th, Lord John Russell brought forward the measure that was expected would be the finishing touch, given by the author himself, to his own Reform Bill of 1832. The liberal spirit and bold handling that had marked Lord John’s work twenty years before, were nowhere visible in this supplement which he now laid before the House.
It was a superficial measure without the backbone of principle, that timidly dealt with details, without going to the root of any of the existing anomalies, or removing any of tHe evils which the first measure had left standing. To extend the franchise, and yet leave undisturbed the existing adjustment of interests and classes, was the problem Lord John set to himself.
He prepared to give the borough franchise to five- pound householders, the county franchise to be rated at twenty pounds a-year. There was to be some reduction of long leaseholds and copyholds, and a vote given to all who paid two pounds a-year in assessed taxes. The property qualification, also, for Members of Parliament was to be abolished.
The characteristic feature of the Bill was the manner in which Lord John proposed dealing with the small dependent boroughs. One principle the Premier rigidly maintained — that there must be no disfranchisement. Some anomalies were to be patched up. Small constituencies were to be enlarged by annexing adjacent towns to the existing boroughs. The scheme seemed fair enough at first sight, but on examination its glaring incongruities became manifest- Towns were to be harnessed together that had no link of common interest ; and large cities, that could not thus be yoked, were to be left still unrepresented.
The Reform League, headed by Mr. Hume, accepted the measure as a step in advance, but unanimously expressed disappointment at its narrow scope and unphilosophical spirit. Mr. Cobden and Mr. Bright deplored especially the omission of the ballot. Sir Joshua Walmsley attacked the Bill for countenancing the evils left standing by the Reform Bill — the pocket-boroughs.
” There are fifty or sixty boroughs, “ he said, in the course of his speech, ” having less than five hundred voters, returning two representatives to Parliament. There are six hundred and twenty-seven towns, assessed to the income-tax to the amount of fifteen millions three hundred thousand pounds, that are totally unrepresented. Does Lord John suppose that such places will be satisfied to remain unrepresented, except such representation as they find through county constituencies ? ”
After some discussion, leave was given by a large majority to bring in Lord John’s Bill. The Times had prophesied that in the second Reform Bill, and in its history, “ we shall probably find the old parallel of the Iliad and the Odyssey “ But Lord John was not to write his Odyssey yet.
A ministerial crisis was at hand. On the 16th of February the Government, following in the wake of the panic out-of-doors, brought forward its Militia Bill On the 23rd of February, owing to a majority of eleven in favour of Lord Palmerston’s amendment. Lord John resigned. The Tories now came into power, and with their advent expired for the present all hopes of parliamentary reform. The National Reform Association, undaunted by failure, continued its labours, sending forth lecturers into all parts of the country, supervising the registration, organising freehold land societies.
On the 25th of March, undismayed by the triumph of his opponents, Mr. Hume, who for forty years had never been deterred by ridicule or unwearied labour from advocating the people’s cause, launched forth another protest against the existing corruption and abuses of the representative system. Sir Joshua seconded the quadruple resolution. After a lengthy, but somewhat abstract debate on Reform, the motion was lost, only eighty-nine members having voted for Mr. Hume’s four points.