This is probably a good point to pause the Walmsley stories. Josh’s biography has come to an end. There is an up-dated version of the children of Joshua Walmsley posted fairly recently. If you haven’t seen it, it’s here. The only remaining thing to do is some faces to put to the names. By rights there should be at least one portrait of Adeline, and probably more of the girls, but they have yet to be unearthed.
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 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. “