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The Miscellaneous Writings and Speeches of Lord Macaulay.

Part 9 out of 10

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never before questioned, and which cannot be questioned with the
smallest show of reason. "If," they say, "free competition is a
good thing in trade, it must surely be a good thing in education.
The supply of other commodities, of sugar, for example, is left
to adjust itself to the demand; and the consequence is, that we
are better supplied with sugar than if the Government undertook
to supply us. Why then should we doubt that the supply of
instruction will, without the intervention of the Government, be
found equal to the demand?"

Never was there a more false analogy. Whether a man is well
supplied with sugar is a matter which concerns himself alone.
But whether he is well supplied with instruction is a matter
which concerns his neighbours and the State. If he cannot afford
to pay for sugar, he must go without sugar. But it is by no
means fit that, because he cannot afford to pay for education, he
should go without education. Between the rich and their
instructors there may, as Adam Smith says, be free trade. The
supply of music masters and Italian masters may be left to adjust
itself to the demand. But what is to become of the millions who
are too poor to procure without assistance the services of a
decent schoolmaster? We have indeed heard it said that even
these millions will be supplied with teachers by the free
competition of benevolent individuals who will vie with each
other in rendering this service to mankind. No doubt there are
many benevolent individuals who spend their time and money most
laudably in setting up and supporting schools; and you may say,
if you please, that there is, among these respectable persons, a
competition to do good. But do not be imposed upon by words. Do
not believe that this competition resembles the competition which
is produced by the desire of wealth and by the fear of ruin.
There is a great difference, be assured, between the rivalry of
philanthropists and the rivalry of grocers. The grocer knows
that, if his wares are worse than those of other grocers, he
shall soon go before the Bankrupt Court, and his wife and
children will have no refuge but the workhouse: he knows that,
if his shop obtains an honourable celebrity, he shall be able to
set up a carriage and buy a villa: and this knowledge impels him
to exertions compared with which the exertions of even very
charitable people to serve the poor are but languid. It would be
strange infatuation indeed to legislate on the supposition that a
man cares for his fellow creatures as much as he cares for

Unless, Sir, I greatly deceive myself, those arguments, which
show that the Government ought not to leave to private people the
task of providing for the national defence, will equally show
that the Government ought not to leave to private people the task
of providing for national education. On this subject, Mr Hume
has laid down the general law with admirable good sense and
perspicuity. I mean David Hume, not the Member for Montrose,
though that honourable gentleman will, I am confident, assent to
the doctrine propounded by his illustrious namesake. David Hume,
Sir, justly says that most of the arts and trades which exist in
the world produce so much advantage and pleasure to individuals,
that the magistrate may safely leave it to individuals to
encourage those arts and trades. But he adds that there are
callings which, though they are highly useful, nay, absolutely
necessary to society, yet do not administer to the peculiar
pleasure or profit of any individual. The military calling is an
instance. Here, says Hume, the Government must interfere. It
must take on itself to regulate these callings, and to stimulate
the industry of the persons who follow these callings by
pecuniary and honorary rewards.

Now, Sir, it seems to me that, on the same principle on which
Government ought to superintend and to reward the soldier,
Government ought to superintend and to reward the schoolmaster.
I mean, of course, the schoolmaster of the common people. That
his calling is useful, that his calling is necessary, will hardly
be denied. Yet it is clear that his services will not be
adequately remunerated if he is left to be remunerated by those
whom he teaches, or by the voluntary contributions of the
charitable. Is this disputed? Look at the facts. You tell us
that schools will multiply and flourish exceedingly, if the
Government will only abstain from interfering with them. Has not
the Government long abstained from interfering with them? Has
not everything been left, through many years, to individual
exertion? If it were true that education, like trade, thrives
most where the magistrate meddles least, the common people of
England would now be the best educated in the world. Our schools
would be model schools. Every one would have a well chosen
little library, excellent maps, a small but neat apparatus for
experiments in natural philosophy. A grown person unable to read
and write would be pointed at like Giant O'Brien or the Polish
Count. Our schoolmasters would be as eminently expert in all
that relates to teaching as our cutlers, our cotton-spinners, our
engineers are allowed to be in their respective callings. They
would, as a class, be held in high consideration; and their gains
would be such that it would be easy to find men of respectable
character and attainments to fill up vacancies.

Now, is this the case? Look at the charges of the judges, at the
resolutions of the grand juries, at the reports of public
officers, at the reports of voluntary associations. All tell the
same sad and ignominious story. Take the reports of the
Inspectors of Prisons. In the House of Correction at Hertford,
of seven hundred prisoners one half could not read at all; only
eight could read and write well. Of eight thousand prisoners who
had passed through Maidstone Gaol only fifty could read and write
well. In Coldbath Fields Prison, the proportion that could read
and write well seems to have been still smaller. Turn from the
registers of prisoners to the registers of marriages. You will
find that about a hundred and thirty thousand couples were
married in the year 1844. More than forty thousand of the
bridegrooms and more than sixty thousand of the brides did not
sign their names, but made their marks. Nearly one third of the
men and nearly one half of the women, who are in the prime of
life, who are to be the parents of the Englishmen of the next
generation, who are to bear a chief part in forming the minds of
the Englishmen of the next generation, cannot write their own
names. Remember, too, that, though people who cannot write their
own names must be grossly ignorant, people may write their own
names and yet have very little knowledge. Tens of thousands who
were able to write their names had in all probability received
only the wretched education of a common day school. We know what
such a school too often is; a room crusted with filth, without
light, without air, with a heap of fuel in one corner and a brood
of chickens in another; the only machinery of instruction a
dogeared spelling-book and a broken slate; the masters the refuse
of all other callings, discarded footmen, ruined pedlars, men who
cannot work a sum in the rule of three, men who cannot write a
common letter without blunders, men who do not know whether the
earth is a sphere or a cube, men who do not know whether
Jerusalem is in Asia or America. And to such men, men to whom
none of us would entrust the key of his cellar, we have entrusted
the mind of the rising generation, and, with the mind of the
rising generation the freedom, the happiness, the glory of our

Do you question the accuracy of this description? I will produce
evidence to which I am sure that you will not venture to take an
exception. Every gentleman here knows, I suppose, how important
a place the Congregational Union holds among the Nonconformists,
and how prominent a part Mr Edward Baines has taken in opposition
to State education. A Committee of the Congregational Union drew
up last year a report on the subject of education. That report
was received by the Union; and the person who moved that it
should be received was Mr Edward Baines. That report contains
the following passage: "If it were necessary to disclose facts
to such an assembly as this, as to the ignorance and debasement
of the neglected portions of our population in towns and rural
districts, both adult and juvenile, it could easily be done.
Private information communicated to the Board, personal
observation and investigation of the various localities, with the
published documents of the Registrar General, and the reports of
the state of prisons in England and Wales, published by order of
the House of Commons, would furnish enough to make us modest in
speaking of what has been done for the humbler classes, and make
us ashamed that the sons of the soil of England should have been
so long neglected, and should present to the enlightened
traveller from other shores such a sad spectacle of neglected
cultivation, lost mental power, and spiritual degradation."
Nothing can be more just. All the information which I have been
able to obtain bears out the statements of the Congregational
Union. I do believe that the ignorance and degradation of a
large part of the community to which we belong ought to make us
ashamed of ourselves. I do believe that an enlightened traveller
from New York, from Geneva, or from Berlin, would be shocked to
see so much barbarism in the close neighbourhood of so much
wealth and civilisation. But is it not strange that the very
gentlemen who tell us in such emphatic language that the people
are shamefully ill-educated, should yet persist in telling us
that under a system of free competition the people are certain to
be excellently educated? Only this morning the opponents of our
plan circulated a paper in which they confidently predict that
free competition will do all that is necessary, if we will only
wait with patience. Wait with patience! Why, we have been
waiting ever since the Heptarchy. How much longer are we to
wait? Till the year 2847? Or till the year 3847? That the
experiment has as yet failed you do not deny. And why should it
have failed? Has it been tried in unfavourable circumstances?
Not so: it has been tried in the richest and in the freest, and
in the most charitable country in all Europe. Has it been tried
on too small a scale? Not so: millions have been subjected to
it. Has it been tried during too short a time? Not so: it has
been going on during ages. The cause of the failure then is
plain. Our whole system has been unsound. We have applied the
principle of free competition to a case to which that principle
is not applicable.

But, Sir, if the state of the southern part of our island has
furnished me with one strong argument, the state of the northern
part furnishes me with another argument, which is, if possible,
still more decisive. A hundred and fifty years ago England was
one of the best governed and most prosperous countries in the
world: Scotland was perhaps the rudest and poorest country that
could lay any claim to civilisation. The name of Scotchman was
then uttered in this part of the island with contempt. The
ablest Scotch statesmen contemplated the degraded state of their
poorer countrymen with a feeling approaching to despair. It is
well-known that Fletcher of Saltoun, a brave and accomplished
man, a man who had drawn his sword for liberty, who had suffered
proscription and exile for liberty, was so much disgusted and
dismayed by the misery, the ignorance, the idleness, the
lawlessness of the common people, that he proposed to make many
thousands of them slaves. Nothing, he thought, but the
discipline which kept order and enforced exertion among the
negroes of a sugar colony, nothing but the lash and the stocks,
could reclaim the vagabonds who infested every part of Scotland
from their indolent and predatory habits, and compel them to
support themselves by steady labour. He therefore, soon after
the Revolution, published a pamphlet, in which he earnestly, and,
as I believe, from the mere impulse of humanity and patriotism,
recommended to the Estates of the Realm this sharp remedy, which
alone, as he conceived, could remove the evil. Within a few
months after the publication of that pamphlet a very different
remedy was applied. The Parliament which sate at Edinburgh
passed an act for the establishment of parochial schools. What
followed? An improvement such as the world had never seen took
place in the moral and intellectual character of the people.
Soon, in spite of the rigour of the climate, in spite of the
sterility of the earth, Scotland became a country which had no
reason to envy the fairest portions of the globe. Wherever the
Scotchman went,--and there were few parts of the world to which
he did not go,--he carried his superiority with him. If he was
admitted into a public office, he worked his way up to the
highest post. If he got employment in a brewery or a factory, he
was soon the foreman. If he took a shop, his trade was the best
in the street. If he enlisted in the army, he became a colour-
sergeant. If he went to a colony, he was the most thriving
planter there. The Scotchman of the seventeenth century had been
spoken of in London as we speak of the Esquimaux. The Scotchman
of the eighteenth century was an object, not of scorn, but of
envy. The cry was that, wherever he came, he got more than his
share; that, mixed with Englishmen or mixed with Irishmen, he
rose to the top as surely as oil rises to the top of water. And
what had produced this great revolution? The Scotch air was
still as cold, the Scotch rocks were still as bare as ever. All
the natural qualities of the Scotchman were still what they had
been when learned and benevolent men advised that he should be
flogged, like a beast of burden, to his daily task. But the
State had given him an education. That education was not, it is
true, in all respects what it should have been. But such as it
was, it had done more for the bleak and dreary shores of the
Forth and the Clyde than the richest of soils and the most genial
of climates had done for Capua and Tarentum. Is there one member
of this House, however strongly he may hold the doctrine that the
Government ought not to interfere with the education of the
people, who will stand up and say that, in his opinion, the
Scotch would now have been a happier and a more enlightened
people if they had been left, during the last five generations,
to find instruction for themselves?

I say then, Sir, that, if the science of Government be an
experimental science, this question is decided. We are in a
condition to perform the inductive process according to the rules
laid down in the Novum Organum. We have two nations closely
connected, inhabiting the same island, sprung from the same
blood, speaking the same language, governed by the same Sovereign
and the same Legislature, holding essentially the same religious
faith, having the same allies and the same enemies. Of these two
nations one was, a hundred and fifty years ago, as respects
opulence and civilisation, in the highest rank among European
communities, the other in the lowest rank. The opulent and
highly civilised nation leaves the education of the people to
free competition. In the poor and half barbarous nation the
education of the people is undertaken by the State. The result
is that the first are last and the last first. The common people
of Scotland,--it is vain to disguise the truth,--have passed the
common people of England. Free competition, tried with every
advantage, has produced effects of which, as the Congregational
Union tells us, we ought to be ashamed, and which must lower us
in the opinion of every intelligent foreigner. State education,
tried under every disadvantage, has produced an improvement to
which it would be difficult to find a parallel in any age or
country. Such an experiment as this would be regarded as
conclusive in surgery or chemistry, and ought, I think, to be
regarded as equally conclusive in politics.

These, Sir, are the reasons which have satisfied me that it is
the duty of the State to educate the people. Being firmly
convinced of that truth, I shall not shrink from proclaiming it
here and elsewhere, in defiance of the loudest clamour that
agitators can raise. The remainder of my task is easy. For, if
the great principle for which I have been contending is admitted,
the objections which have been made to the details of our plan
will vanish fast. I will deal with those objections in the order
in which they stand in the amendment moved by the honourable
Member for Finsbury.

First among his objections he places the cost. Surely, Sir, no
person who admits that it is our duty to train the minds of the
rising generation can think a hundred thousand pounds too large a
sum for that purpose. If we look at the matter in the lowest
point of view, if we consider human beings merely as producers of
wealth, the difference between an intelligent and a stupid
population, estimated in pounds, shillings, and pence, exceeds a
hundredfold the proposed outlay. Nor is this all. For every
pound that you save in education, you will spend five in
prosecutions, in prisons, in penal settlements. I cannot believe
that the House, having never grudged anything that was asked for
the purpose of maintaining order and protecting property by means
of pain and fear, will begin to be niggardly as soon as it is
proposed to effect the same objects by making the people wiser
and better.

The next objection made by the honourable Member to our plan is
that it will increase the influence of the Crown. This sum of a
hundred thousand pounds may, he apprehends, be employed in
corruption and jobbing. Those schoolmasters who vote for
ministerial candidates will obtain a share of the grant: those
schoolmasters who vote for opponents of the ministry will apply
for assistance in vain. Sir, the honourable Member never would
have made this objection if he had taken the trouble to
understand the minutes which he has condemned. We propose to
place this part of the public expenditure under checks which must
make such abuses as the honourable Member anticipates morally
impossible. Not only will there be those ordinary checks which
are thought sufficient to prevent the misapplication of the many
millions annually granted for the army, the navy, the ordnance,
the civil government: not only must the Ministers of the Crown
come every year to this House for a vote, and be prepared to
render an account of the manner in which they have laid out what
had been voted in the preceding year, but, when they have
satisfied the House, when they have got their vote, they will
still be unable to distribute the money at their discretion.
Whatever they may do for any schoolmaster must be done in concert
with those persons who, in the district where the schoolmaster
lives, take an interest in education, and contribute out of their
private means to the expense of education. When the honourable
gentleman is afraid that we shall corrupt the schoolmasters, he
forgets, first, that we do not appoint the schoolmasters;
secondly, that we cannot dismiss the schoolmasters; thirdly, that
managers who are altogether independent of us can, without our
consent, dismiss the schoolmasters; and, fourthly, that without
the recommendation of those managers we can give nothing to the
schoolmasters. Observe, too, that such a recommendation will not
be one of those recommendations which goodnatured easy people are
too apt to give to everybody who asks; nor will it at all
resemble those recommendations which the Secretary of the
Treasury is in the habit of receiving. For every pound which we
pay on the recommendation of the managers, the managers
themselves must pay two pounds. They must also provide the
schoolmaster with a house out of their own funds before they can
obtain for him a grant from the public funds. What chance of
jobbing is there here? It is common enough, no doubt, for a
Member of Parliament who votes with Government to ask that one of
those who zealously supported him at the last election may have a
place in the Excise or the Customs. But such a member would soon
cease to solicit if the answer were, "Your friend shall have a
place of fifty pounds a year, if you will give him a house and
settle on him an income of a hundred a year." What chance then,
I again ask, is there of jobbing? What, say some of the
dissenters of Leeds, is to prevent a Tory Government, a High
Church Government, from using this parliamentary grant to corrupt
the schoolmasters of our borough, and to induce them to use all
their influence in favour of a Tory and High Church candidate?
Why, Sir, the dissenters of Leeds themselves have the power to
prevent it. Let them subscribe to the schools: let them take a
share in the management of the schools: let them refuse to
recommend to the committee of Council any schoolmaster whom they
suspect of having voted at any election from corrupt motives:
and the thing is done. Our plan, in truth, is made up of checks.
My only doubt is whether the checks may not be found too numerous
and too stringent. On our general conduct there is the ordinary
check, the parliamentary check. And, as respects those minute
details which it is impossible that this House can investigate,
we shall be checked, in every town and in every rural district,
by boards consisting of independent men zealous in the cause of

The truth is, Sir, that those who clamour most loudly against our
plan, have never thought of ascertaining what it is. I see that
a gentleman, who ought to have known better, has not been ashamed
publicly to tell the world that our plan will cost the nation two
millions a year, and will paralyse all the exertions of
individuals to educate the people. These two assertions are
uttered in one breath. And yet, if he who made them had read our
minutes before he railed at them, he would have seen that his
predictions are contradictory; that they cannot both be
fulfilled; that, if individuals do not exert themselves, the
country will have to pay nothing; and that, if the country has to
pay two millions, it will be because individuals have exerted
themselves with such wonderful, such incredible vigour, as to
raise four millions by voluntary contributions.

The next objection made by the honourable Member for Finsbury is
that we have acted unconstitutionally, and have encroached on the
functions of Parliament. The Committee of Council he seems to
consider as an unlawful assembly. He calls it sometimes a self-
elected body and sometimes a self-appointed body. Sir, these are
words without meaning. The Committee is no more a self-elected
body than the Board of Trade. It is a body appointed by the
Queen; and in appointing it Her Majesty has exercised, under the
advice of her responsible Ministers, a prerogative as old as the
monarchy. But, says the honourable Member, the constitutional
course would have been to apply for an Act of Parliament. On
what ground? Nothing but an Act of Parliament can legalise that
which is illegal. But whoever heard of an Act of Parliament to
legalise what was already beyond all dispute legal? Of course,
if we wished to send aliens out of the country, or to retain
disaffected persons in custody without bringing them to trial, we
must obtain an Act of Parliament empowering us to do so. But why
should we ask for an Act of Parliament to empower us to do what
anybody may do, what the honourable Member for Finsbury may do?
Is there any doubt that he or anybody else may subscribe to a
school, give a stipend to a monitor, or settle a retiring pension
on a preceptor who has done good service? What any of the
Queen's subjects may do the Queen may do. Suppose that her privy
purse were so large that she could afford to employ a hundred
thousand pounds in this beneficent manner; would an Act of
Parliament be necessary to enable her to do so? Every part of
our plan may lawfully be carried into execution by any person,
Sovereign or subject, who has the inclination and the money. We
have not the money; and for the money we come, in a strictly
constitutional manner, to the House of Commons. The course which
we have taken is in conformity with all precedent, as well as
with all principle. There are military schools. No Act of
Parliament was necessary to authorise the establishing of such
schools. All that was necessary was a grant of money to defray
the charge. When I was Secretary at War it was my duty to bring
under Her Majesty's notice the situation of the female children
of her soldiers. Many such children accompanied every regiment,
and their education was grievously neglected. Her Majesty was
graciously pleased to sign a warrant by which a girls' school was
attached to each corps. No Act of Parliament was necessary. For
to set up a school where girls might be taught to read, and
write, and sew, and cook, was perfectly legal already. I might
have set it up myself, if I had been rich enough. All that I had
to ask from Parliament was the money. But I ought to beg pardon
for arguing a point so clear.

The next objection to our plans is that they interfere with the
religious convictions of Her Majesty's subjects. It has been
sometimes insinuated, but it has never been proved, that the
Committee of Council has shown undue favour to the Established
Church. Sir, I have carefully read and considered the minutes;
and I wish that every man who has exerted his eloquence against
them had done the same. I say that I have carefully read and
considered them, and that they seem to me to have been drawn up
with exemplary impartiality. The benefits which we offer we
offer to people of all religious persuasions alike. The
dissenting managers of schools will have equal authority with the
managers who belong to the Church. A boy who goes to meeting
will be just as eligible to be a monitor, and will receive just
as large a stipend, as if he went to the cathedral. The
schoolmaster who is a nonconformist and the schoolmaster who is a
conformist will enjoy the same emoluments, and will, after the
same term of service, obtain, on the same conditions, the same
retiring pension. I wish that some gentleman would, instead of
using vague phrases about religious liberty and the rights of
conscience, answer this plain question. Suppose that in one of
our large towns there are four schools, a school connected with
the Church, a school connected with the Independents, a Baptist
school, and a Wesleyan school; what encouragement, pecuniary or
honorary, will, by our plan, be given to the school connected
with the Church, and withheld from any of the other three
schools? Is it not indeed plain that, if by neglect or
maladministration the Church school should get into a bad state,
while the dissenting schools flourish, the dissenting schools
will receive public money and the Church school will receive

It is true, I admit, that in rural districts which are too poor
to support more than one school, the religious community to which
the majority belongs will have an advantage over other religious
communities. But this is not our fault. If we are as impartial
as it is possible to be, you surely do not expect more. If there
should be a parish containing nine hundred churchmen and a
hundred dissenters, if there should, in that parish, be a school
connected with the Church, if the dissenters in that parish
should be too poor to set up another school, undoubtedly the
school connected with the Church will, in that parish, get all
that we give; and the dissenters will get nothing. But observe
that there is no partiality to the Church, as the Church, in this
arrangement. The churchmen get public money, not because they
are churchmen, but because they are the majority. The dissenters
get nothing, not because they are dissenters, but because they
are a small minority. There are districts where the case will be
reversed, where there will be dissenting schools, and no Church
schools. In such cases the dissenters will get what we have to
give, and the churchmen will get nothing.

But, Sir, I ought not to say that a churchman gets nothing by a
system which gives a good education to dissenters, or that a
dissenter gets nothing by a system which gives a good education
to churchmen. We are not, I hope, so much conformists, or so
much nonconformists, as to forget that we are Englishmen and
Christians. We all, Churchmen, Presbyterians, Independents,
Baptists, Methodists, have an interest in this, that the great
body of the people should be rescued from ignorance and
barbarism. I mentioned Lord George Gordon's mob. That mob
began, it is true, with the Roman Catholics: but, long before
the tumults were over, there was not a respectable Protestant in
London who was not in fear for his house, for his limbs, for his
life, for the lives of those who were dearest to him. The
honourable Member for Finsbury says that we call on men to pay
for an education from which they derive no benefit. I deny that
there is one honest and industrious man in the country who
derives no benefit from living among honest and industrious
neighbours rather than among rioters and vagabonds. This matter
is as much a matter of common concern as the defence of our
coast. Suppose that I were to say, "Why do you tax me to fortify
Portsmouth? If the people of Portsmouth think that they cannot
be safe without bastions and ravelins, let the people of
Portsmouth pay the engineers and masons. Why am I to bear the
charge of works from which I derive no advantage?" You would
answer, and most justly, that there is no man in the island who
does not derive advantage from these works, whether he resides
within them or not. And, as every man, in whatever part of the
island he may live, is bound to contribute to the support of
those arsenals which are necessary for our common security, so is
every man, to whatever sect he may belong, bound to contribute to
the support of those schools on which, not less than on our
arsenals, our common security depends.

I now come to the last words of the amendment. The honourable
Member for Finsbury is apprehensive that our plan may interfere
with the civil rights of Her Majesty's subjects. How a man's
civil rights can be prejudiced by his learning to read and write,
to multiply and divide, or even by his obtaining some knowledge
of history and geography, I do not very well apprehend. One
thing is clear, that persons sunk in that ignorance in which, as
we are assured by the Congregational Union, great numbers of our
countrymen are sunk, can be free only in name. It is hardly
necessary for us to appoint a Select Committee for the purpose of
inquiring whether knowledge be the ally or the enemy of liberty.
He is, I must say, but a short-sighted friend of the common
people who is eager to bestow on them a franchise which would
make them all-powerful, and yet would withhold from them that
instruction without which their power must be a curse to
themselves and to the State.

This, Sir, is my defence. From the clamour of our accusers I
appeal with confidence to the country to which we must, in no
long time, render an account of our stewardship. I appeal with
still more confidence to future generations, which, while
enjoying all the blessings of an impartial and efficient system
of public instruction, will find it difficult to believe that the
authors of that system should have had to struggle with a
vehement and pertinacious opposition, and still more difficult to
believe that such an opposition was offered in the name of civil
and religious freedom.



MARCH, 1849.

At the election of Lord Rector of the University of Glasgow, in
November, 1848, the votes stood thus: Mr Macaulay, 255; Colonel
Mure, 203. The installation took place on the twenty-first of
March, 1849; and after that ceremony had been performed, the
following Speech was delivered.

My first duty, Gentlemen, is to return you my thanks for the
honour which you have conferred on me. You well know that it was
wholly unsolicited; and I can assure you that it was wholly
unexpected. I may add that, if I had been invited to become a
candidate for your suffrages, I should respectfully have declined
the invitation. My predecessor, whom I am so happy as to be able
to call my friend, declared from this place last year in language
which well became him, that he would not have come forward to
displace so eminent a statesman as Lord John Russell. I can with
equal truth affirm that I would not have come forward to displace
so estimable a gentleman and so accomplished a scholar as Colonel
Mure. But Colonel Mure felt last year that it was not for him,
and I now feel that it is not for me, to question the propriety
of your decision on a point of which, by the constitution of your
body, you are the judges. I therefore gratefully accept the
office to which I have been called, fully purposing to use
whatever powers belong to it with a single view to the welfare
and credit of your society.

I am not using a mere phrase of course, when I say that the
feelings with which I bear apart in the ceremony of this day are
such as I find it difficult to utter in words. I do not think it
strange that, when that great master of eloquence, Edmund Burke,
stood where I now stand, he faltered and remained mute.
Doubtless the multitude of thoughts which rushed into his mind
was such as even he could not easily arrange or express. In
truth there are few spectacles more striking or affecting than
that which a great historical place of education presents on a
solemn public day. There is something strangely interesting in
the contrast between the venerable antiquity of the body and the
fresh and ardent youth of the great majority of the members.
Recollections and hopes crowd upon us together. The past and the
future are at once brought close to us. Our thoughts wander back
to the time when the foundations of this ancient building were
laid, and forward to the time when those whom it is our office to
guide and to teach will be the guides and teachers of our
posterity. On the present occasion we may, with peculiar
propriety, give such thoughts their course. For it has chanced
that my magistracy has fallen on a great secular epoch. This is
the four hundredth year of the existence of your University. At
such jubilees, jubilees of which no individual sees more than
one, it is natural, and it is good, that a society like this, a
society which survives all the transitory parts of which it is
composed, a society which has a corporate existence and a
perpetual succession, should review its annals, should retrace
the stages of its growth from infancy to maturity, and should try
to find, in the experience of generations which have passed away,
lessons which may be profitable to generations yet unborn.

The retrospect is full of interest and instruction. Perhaps it
may be doubted whether, since the Christian era, there has been
any point of time more important to the highest interests of
mankind than that at which the existence of your University
commenced. It was at the moment of a great destruction and of a
great creation. Your society was instituted just before the
empire of the East perished; that strange empire which, dragging
on a languid life through the great age of darkness, connected
together the two great ages of light; that empire which, adding
nothing to our stores of knowledge, and producing not one man
great in letters, in science, or in art, yet preserved, in the
midst of barbarism, those masterpieces of Attic genius, which the
highest minds still contemplate, and long will contemplate, with
admiring despair. And at that very time, while the fanatical
Moslem were plundering the churches and palaces of
Constantinople, breaking in pieces Grecian sculptures, and giving
to the flames piles of Grecian eloquence, a few humble German
artisans, who little knew that they were calling into existence a
power far mightier than that of the victorious Sultan, were
busied in cutting and setting the first types. The University
came into existence just in time to witness the disappearance of
the last trace of the Roman empire, and to witness the
publication of the earliest printed book.

At this conjuncture, a conjuncture of unrivalled interest in the
history of letters, a man, never to be mentioned without
reverence by every lover of letters, held the highest place in
Europe. Our just attachment to that Protestant faith to which
our country owes so much must not prevent us from paying the
tribute which, on this occasion, and in this place, justice and
gratitude demand, to the founder of the University of Glasgow,
the greatest of the restorers of learning, Pope Nicholas the
Fifth. He had sprung from the common people; but his abilities
and his erudition had early attracted the notice of the great.
He had studied much and travelled far. He had visited Britain,
which, in wealth and refinement, was to his native Tuscany what
the back settlements of America now are to Britain. He had lived
with the merchant princes of Florence, those men who first
ennobled trade by making trade the ally of philosophy, of
eloquence, and of taste. It was he who, under the protection of
the munificent and discerning Cosmo, arranged the first public
library that Modern Europe possessed. From privacy your founder
rose to a throne; but on the throne he never forgot the studies
which had been his delight in privacy. He was the centre of an
illustrious group, composed partly of the last great scholars of
Greece, and partly of the first great scholars of Italy, Theodore
Gaza and George of Trebizond, Bessarion and Filelfo, Marsilio
Ficino and Poggio Bracciolini. By him was founded the Vatican
library, then and long after the most precious and the most
extensive collection of books in the world. By him were
carefully preserved the most valuable intellectual treasures
which had been snatched from the wreck of the Byzantine empire.
His agents were to be found everywhere, in the bazaars of the
farthest East, in the monasteries of the farthest West,
purchasing or copying worm-eaten parchments, on which were traced
words worthy of immortality. Under his patronage were prepared
accurate Latin versions of many precious remains of Greek poets
and philosophers. But no department of literature owes so much
to him as history. By him were introduced to the knowledge of
Western Europe two great and unrivalled models of historical
composition, the work of Herodotus and the work of Thucydides.
By him, too, our ancestors were first made acquainted with the
graceful and lucid simplicity of Xenophon and with the manly good
sense of Polybius.

It was while he was occupied with cares like these that his
attention was called to the intellectual wants of this region, a
region now swarming with population, rich with culture, and
resounding with the clang of machinery, a region which now sends
forth fleets laden with its admirable fabrics to the lands of
which, in his days, no geographer had ever heard, then a wild, a
poor, a half barbarous tract, lying on the utmost verge of the
known world. He gave his sanction to the plan of establishing a
University at Glasgow, and bestowed on the new seat of learning
all the privileges which belonged to the University of Bologna.
I can conceive that a pitying smile passed over his face as he
named Bologna and Glasgow together. At Bologna he had long
studied. No spot in the world had been more favoured by nature
or by art. The surrounding country was a fruitful and sunny
country, a country of cornfields and vineyards. In the city, the
house of Bentivoglo bore rule, a house which vied with the house
of Medici in taste and magnificence, which has left to posterity
noble palaces and temples, and which gave a splendid patronage to
arts and letters. Glasgow your founder just knew to be a poor, a
small, a rude town, a town, as he would have thought, not likely
ever to be great and opulent; for the soil, compared with the
rich country at the foot of the Apennines, was barren, and the
climate was such that an Italian shuddered at the thought of it.
But it is not on the fertility of the soil, it is not on the
mildness of the atmosphere, that the prosperity of nations
chiefly depends. Slavery and superstition can make Campania a
land of beggars, and can change the plain of Enna into a desert.
Nor is it beyond the power of human intelligence and energy,
developed by civil and spiritual freedom, to turn sterile rocks
and pestilential marshes into cities and gardens. Enlightened as
your founder was, he little knew that he was himself a chief
agent in a great revolution, physical and moral, political and
religious, in a revolution destined to make the last first and
the first last, in a revolution destined to invert the relative
positions of Glasgow and Bologna. We cannot, I think, better
employ a few minutes than in reviewing the stages of this great
change in human affairs.

The review shall be short. Indeed I cannot do better than pass
rapidly from century to century. Look at the world, then, a
hundred years after the seal of Nicholas had been affixed to the
instrument which called your College into existence. We find
Europe, we find Scotland especially, in the agonies of that great
revolution which we emphatically call the Reformation. The
liberal patronage which Nicholas, and men like Nicholas, had
given to learning, and of which the establishment of this seat of
learning is not the least remarkable instance, had produced an
effect which they had never contemplated. Ignorance was the
talisman on which their power depended; and that talisman they
had themselves broken. They had called in Knowledge as a
handmaid to decorate Superstition, and their error produced its
natural effect. I need not tell you what a part the votaries of
classical learning, and especially the votaries of Greek
learning, the Humanists, as they were then called, bore in the
great movement against spiritual tyranny. They formed, in fact,
the vanguard of that movement. Every one of the chief Reformers
--I do not at this moment remember a single exception--was a
Humanist. Almost every eminent Humanist in the north of Europe
was, according to the measure of his uprightness and courage, a
Reformer. In a Scottish University I need hardly mention the
names of Knox, of Buchanan, of Melville, of Secretary Maitland.
In truth, minds daily nourished with the best literature of
Greece and Rome necessarily grew too strong to be trammelled by
the cobwebs of the scholastic divinity; and the influence of such
minds was now rapidly felt by the whole community; for the
invention of printing had brought books within the reach even of
yeomen and of artisans. From the Mediterranean to the Frozen
Sea, therefore, the public mind was everywhere in a ferment; and
nowhere was the ferment greater than in Scotland. It was in the
midst of martyrdoms and proscriptions, in the midst of a war
between power and truth, that the first century of the existence
of your University closed.

Pass another hundred years; and we are in the midst of another
revolution. The war between Popery and Protestantism had, in
this island, been terminated by the victory of Protestantism.
But from that war another war had sprung, the war between Prelacy
and Puritanism. The hostile religious sects were allied,
intermingled, confounded with hostile political parties. The
monarchical element of the constitution was an object of almost
exclusive devotion to the Prelatist. The popular element of the
constitution was especially dear to the Puritan. At length an
appeal was made to the sword. Puritanism triumphed; but
Puritanism was already divided against itself. Independency and
Republicanism were on one side, Presbyterianism and limited
Monarchy on the other. It was in the very darkest part of that
dark time, it was in the midst of battles, sieges, and
executions, it was when the whole world was still aghast at the
awful spectacle of a British King standing before a judgment
seat, and laying his neck on a block, it was when the mangled
remains of the Duke of Hamilton had just been laid in the tomb of
his house, it was when the head of the Marquess of Montrose had
just been fixed on the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, that your
University completed her second century.

A hundred years more; and we have at length reached the beginning
of a happier period. Our civil and religious liberties had
indeed been bought with a fearful price. But they had been
bought. The price had been paid. The last battle had been
fought on British ground. The last black scaffold had been set
up on Tower Hill. The evil days were over. A bright and
tranquil century, a century of religious toleration, of domestic
peace, of temperate freedom, of equal justice, was beginning.
That century is now closing. When we compare it with any equally
long period in the history of any other great society, we shall
find abundant cause for thankfulness to the Giver of all good.
Nor is there any place in the whole kingdom better fitted to
excite this feeling than the place where we are now assembled.
For in the whole kingdom we shall find no district in which the
progress of trade, of manufactures, of wealth, and of the arts of
life, has been more rapid than in Clydesdale. Your University
has partaken largely of the prosperity of this city and of the
surrounding region. The security, the tranquillity, the liberty,
which have been propitious to the industry of the merchant and of
the manufacturer, have been also propitious to the industry of
the scholar. To the last century belong most of the names of
which you justly boast. The time would fail me if I attempted to
do justice to the memory of all the illustrious men who, during
that period, taught or learned wisdom within these ancient walls;
geometricians, anatomists, jurists, philologists, metaphysicians,
poets: Simpson and Hunter, Millar and Young, Reid and Stewart;
Campbell, whose coffin was lately borne to a grave in that
renowned transept which contains the dust of Chaucer, of Spenser,
and of Dryden; Black, whose discoveries form an era in the
history of chemical science; Adam Smith, the greatest of all the
masters of political science; James Watt, who perhaps did more
than any single man has done, since the New Atlantis of Bacon was
written, to accomplish that glorious prophecy. We now speak the
language of humility when we say that the University of Glasgow
need not fear a comparison with the University of Bologna.

A fifth secular period is about to commence. There is no lack of
alarmists who will tell you that it is about to commence under
evil auspices. But from me you must expect no such gloomy
prognostications. I have heard them too long and too constantly
to be scared by them. Ever since I began to make observations on
the state of my country, I have been seeing nothing but growth,
and hearing of nothing but decay. The more I contemplate our
noble institutions, the more convinced I am that they are sound
at heart, that they have nothing of age but its dignity, and that
their strength is still the strength of youth. The hurricane,
which has recently overthrown so much that was great and that
seemed durable, has only proved their solidity. They still
stand, august and immovable, while dynasties and churches are
lying in heaps of ruin all around us. I see no reason to doubt
that, by the blessing of God on a wise and temperate policy, on a
policy of which the principle is to preserve what is good by
reforming in time what is evil, our civil institutions may be
preserved unimpaired to a late posterity, and that, under the
shade of our civil institutions, our academical institutions may
long continue to flourish.

I trust, therefore, that, when a hundred years more have run out,
this ancient College will still continue to deserve well of our
country and of mankind. I trust that the installation of 1949
will be attended by a still greater assembly of students than I
have the happiness now to see before me. That assemblage,
indeed, may not meet in the place where we have met. These
venerable halls may have disappeared. My successor may speak to
your successors in a more stately edifice, in a edifice which,
even among the magnificent buildings of the future Glasgow, will
still be admired as a fine specimen of the architecture which
flourished in the days of the good Queen Victoria. But, though
the site and the walls may be new, the spirit of the institution
will, I hope, be still the same. My successor will, I hope, be
able to boast that the fifth century of the University has even
been more glorious than the fourth. He will be able to vindicate
that boast by citing a long list of eminent men, great masters of
experimental science, of ancient learning, of our native
eloquence, ornaments of the senate, the pulpit and the bar. He
will, I hope, mention with high honour some of my young friends
who now hear me; and he will, I also hope, be able to add that
their talents and learning were not wasted on selfish or ignoble
objects, but were employed to promote the physical and moral good
of their species, to extend the empire of man over the material
world, to defend the cause of civil and religious liberty against
tyrants and bigots, and to defend the cause of virtue and order
against the enemies of all divine and human laws.

I have now given utterance to a part, and to a part only, of the
recollections and anticipations of which, on this solemn
occasion, my mind is full. I again thank you for the honour
which you have bestowed on me; and I assure you that, while I
live, I shall never cease to take a deep interest in the welfare
and fame of the body with which, by your kindness, I have this
day become connected.




At the General Election of 1852 the votes for the City of
Edinburgh stood thus:

Mr Macaulay........1872
Mr Cowan...........1754
The Lord Provost...1559
Mr Bruce...........1066
Mr Campbell.........686

On the second of November the Electors assembled in the Music
Hall to meet the representative whom they had, without any
solicitation on his part, placed at the head of the poll. On
this occasion the following Speech was delivered.

Gentlemen,--I thank you from my heart for this kind reception.
In truth, it has almost overcome me. Your good opinion and your
good will were always very valuable to me, far more valuable than
any vulgar object of ambition, far more valuable than any office,
however lucrative or dignified. In truth, no office, however
lucrative or dignified, would have tempted me to do what I have
done at your summons, to leave again the happiest and most
tranquil of all retreats for the bustle of political life. But
the honour which you have conferred upon me, an honour of which
the greatest men might well be proud, an honour which it is in
the power only of a free people to bestow, has laid on me such an
obligation that I should have thought it ingratitude, I should
have thought it pusillanimity, not to make at least an effort to
serve you.

And here, Gentlemen, we meet again in kindness after a long
separation. It is more than five years since I last stood in
this very place; a large part of human life. There are few of us
on whom those five years have not set their mark, few circles
from which those five years have not taken away what can never be
replaced. Even in this multitude of friendly faces I look in
vain for some which would on this day have been lighted up with
joy and kindness. I miss one venerable man, who, before I was
born, in evil times, in times of oppression and of corruption,
had adhered, with almost solitary fidelity, to the cause of
freedom, and whom I knew in advanced age, but still in the full
vigour of mind and body, enjoying the respect and gratitude of
his fellow citizens. I should, indeed, be most ungrateful if I
could, on this day, forget Sir James Craig, his public spirit,
his judicious counsel, his fatherly kindness to myself. And
Jeffrey--with what an effusion of generous affection he would on
this day, have welcomed me back to Edinburgh! He too is gone;
but the remembrance of him is one of the many ties which bind me
to the city once dear to his heart, and still inseparably
associated with his fame.

But, Gentlemen, it is not only here that, on entering again, at
your call, a path of life which I believed that I had quitted
forever, I shall be painfully reminded of the changes which the
last five years have produced. In Parliament I shall look in
vain for virtues which I loved, and for abilities which I
admired. Often in debate, and never more than when we discuss
those questions of colonial policy which are every day acquiring
a new interest, I shall remember with regret how much eloquence
and wit, how much acuteness and knowledge, how many engaging
qualities, how many fair hopes, are buried in the grave of poor
Charles Buller. There were other men, men with whom I had no
political connection and little personal connection, men to whom
I was, during a great part of my public life, honestly opposed,
but of whom I cannot now think without grieving that their
wisdom, their experience, and the weight of their great names can
never more, in the hour of need, bring help to the nation or to
the throne. Such were those two eminent men whom I left at the
height, one of civil, the other of military fame; one the oracle
of the House of Commons, the other the oracle of the House of
Lords. There were parts of their long public life which they
would themselves, I am persuaded, on a calm retrospect, have
allowed to be justly censurable. But it is impossible to deny
that each in his own department saved the State; that one brought
to a triumphant close the most formidable conflict in which this
country was ever engaged with a foreign enemy; and that the
other, at an immense sacrifice of personal feeling and personal
ambition, freed us from an odious monopoly, which could not have
existed many years longer without producing fearful intestine
discords. I regret them both: but I peculiarly regret him who
is associated in my mind with the place to which you have sent
me. I shall hardly know the House of Commons without Sir Robert
Peel. On the first evening on which I took my seat in that
House, more than two and twenty years ago, he held the highest
position among the Ministers of the Crown who sate there. During
all the subsequent years of my parliamentary service I scarcely
remember one important discussion in which he did not bear a part
with conspicuous ability. His figure is now before me: all the
tones of his voice are in my ears; and the pain with which I
think that I shall never hear them again would be embittered by
the recollection of some sharp encounters which took place
between us, were it not that at last there was an entire and
cordial reconciliation, and that, only a very few days before his
death, I had the pleasure of receiving from him marks of kindness
and esteem of which I shall always cherish the recollection.

But, Gentlemen, it is not only by those changes which the natural
law of mortality produces, it is not only by the successive
disappearances of eminent men that the face of the world has been
changed during the five years which have elapsed since we met
here last. Never since the origin of our race have there been
five years more fertile of great events, five years which have
left behind them a more awful lesson. We have lived many lives
in that time. The revolutions of ages have been compressed into
a few months. France, Germany, Hungary, Italy,--what a history
has theirs been! When we met here last, there was in all of
those countries an outward show of tranquillity; and there were
few, even of the wisest among us, who imagined what wild
passions, what wild theories, were fermenting under that peaceful
exterior. An obstinate resistance to a reasonable reform, a
resistance prolonged but for one day beyond the time, gave the
signal for the explosion; and in an instant, from the borders of
Russia to the Atlantic Ocean, everything was confusion and
terror. The streets of the greatest capitals of Europe were
piled up with barricades, and were streaming with civil blood.
The house of Orleans fled from France: the Pope fled from Rome:
the Emperor of Austria was not safe at Vienna. There were
popular institutions in Florence; popular institutions at Naples.
One democratic convention sat at Berlin; another democratic
convention at Frankfort. You remember, I am sure, but too well,
how some of the wisest and most honest friends of liberty, though
inclined to look with great indulgence on the excesses
inseparable from revolutions, began first to doubt and then to
despair of the prospects of mankind. You remember how all sorts
of animosity, national, religious, and social, broke forth
together. You remember how with the hatred of discontented
subjects to their governments was mingled the hatred of race to
race and of class to class. For myself, I stood aghast; and
though naturally of a sanguine disposition, I did for one moment
doubt whether the progress of society was not about to be
arrested, nay, to be suddenly and violently turned back; whether
we were not doomed to pass in one generation from the
civilisation of the nineteenth century to the barbarism of the
fifth. I remembered that Adam Smith and Gibbon had told us that
the dark ages were gone, never more to return, that modern Europe
was in no danger of the fate which had befallen the Roman empire.
That flood, they said, would no more return to cover the earth:
and they seemed to reason justly: for they compared the immense
strength of the enlightened part of the world with the weakness
of the part which remained savage; and they asked whence were to
come the Huns and the Vandals, who should again destroy
civilisation? It had not occurred to them that civilisation
itself might engender the barbarians who should destroy it. It
had not occurred to them that in the very heart of great
capitals, in the neighbourhood of splendid palaces, and churches,
and theatres, and libraries, and museums, vice and ignorance
might produce a race of Huns fiercer than those who marched under
Attila, and of Vandals more bent on destruction than those who
followed Genseric. Such was the danger. It passed by.
Civilisation was saved, but at what a price! The tide of popular
feeling turned and ebbed almost as fast as it had risen.
Imprudent and obstinate opposition to reasonable demands had
brought on anarchy; and as soon as men had a near view of anarchy
they fled in terror to crouch at the feet of despotism. To the
dominion of mobs armed with pikes succeeded the sterner and more
lasting dominion of disciplined armies. The Papacy rose from its
debasement; rose more intolerant and insolent than before;
intolerant and insolent as in the days of Hildebrand; intolerant
and insolent to a degree which dismayed and disappointed those
who had fondly cherished the hope that the spirit which had
animated the Crusaders and the Inquisitors had been mitigated by
the lapse of years and by the progress of knowledge. Through all
that vast region, where little more than four years ago we looked
in vain for any stable authority, we now look in vain for any
trace of constitutional freedom. And we, Gentlemen, in the
meantime, have been exempt from both those calamities which have
wrought ruin all around us. The madness of 1848 did not subvert
the British throne. The reaction which followed has not
destroyed British liberty.

And why is this? Why has our country, with all the ten plagues
raging around her, been a land of Goshen? Everywhere else was
the thunder and the fire running along the ground,--a very
grievous storm,--a storm such as there was none like it since man
was on the earth; yet everything tranquil here; and then again
thick night, darkness that might be felt; and yet light in all
our dwellings. We owe this singular happiness, under the
blessing of God, to a wise and noble constitution, the work of
many generations of great men. Let us profit by experience; and
let us be thankful that we profit by the experience of others,
and not by our own. Let us prize our constitution: let us
purify it: let us amend it; but let us not destroy it. Let us
shun extremes, not only because each extreme is in itself a
positive evil, but also because each extreme necessarily
engenders its opposite. If we love civil and religious freedom,
let us in the day of danger uphold law and order. If we are
zealous for law and order, let us prize, as the best safeguard of
law and order, civil and religious freedom.

Yes, Gentlemen; if I am asked why we are free with servitude all
around us, why our Habeas Corpus Act has not been suspended, why
our press is still subject to no censor, why we still have the
liberty of association, why our representative institutions still
abide in all their strength, I answer, It is because in the year
of revolutions we stood firmly by our Government in its peril;
and, if I am asked why we stood by our Government in its peril,
when men all around us were engaged in pulling Governments down,
I answer, It was because we knew that though our Government was
not a perfect Government, it was a good Government, that its
faults admitted of peaceable and legal remedies, that it had
never inflexibly opposed just demands, that we had obtained
concessions of inestimable value, not by beating the drum, not by
ringing the tocsin, not by tearing up the pavement, not by
running to the gunsmiths' shops to search for arms, but by the
mere force of reason and public opinion. And, Gentlemen, pre-
eminent among those pacific victories of reason and public
opinion, the recollection of which chiefly, I believe, carried us
safely through the year of revolutions and through the year of
counter-revolutions, I would place two great reforms, inseparably
associated, one with the memory of an illustrious man, who is now
beyond the reach of envy, the other with the name of another
illustrious man, who is still, and, I hope, long will be, a
living mark for distinction. I speak of the great commercial
reform of 1846, the work of Sir Robert Peel, and of the great
parliamentary reform of 1832, the work of many eminent statesmen,
among whom none was more conspicuous than Lord John Russell. I
particularly call your attention to those two great reforms,
because it will, in my opinion, be the especial duty of that
House of Commons in which, by your distinguished favour, I have a
seat, to defend the commercial reform of Sir Robert Peel, and to
perfect and extend the parliamentary reform of Lord John Russell.

With respect to the commercial reform, though I say it will be a
sacred duty to defend it, I do not apprehend that we shall find
the task very difficult. Indeed, I doubt whether we have any
reason to apprehend a direct attack upon the system now
established. From the expressions used during the last session,
and during the late elections, by the Ministers and their
adherents, I should, I confess, find it utterly impossible to
draw any inference whatever. They have contradicted each other;
and they have contradicted themselves. Nothing would be easier
than to select from their speeches passages which would prove
them to be Freetraders, and passages which would prove them to be
protectionists. But, in truth, the only inference which can
properly be drawn from a speech of one of these gentlemen in
favour of Free Trade is, that, when he spoke, he was standing for
a town; and the only inference which can be drawn from the speech
of another in favour of Protection is, that, when he spoke, he
was standing for a county. I quitted London in the heat of the
elections. I left behind me a Tory candidate for Westminster and
a Tory candidate for Middlesex, loudly proclaiming themselves
Derbyites and Freetraders. All along my journey through
Berkshire and Wiltshire I heard nothing but the cry of Derby and
Protection; but when I got to Bristol, the cry was Derby and Free
Trade again. On one side of the Wash, Lord Stanley, the Under-
Secretary of State for the Foreign Department, a young nobleman
of great promise, a young nobleman who appears to me to inherit a
large portion of his father's ability and energy, held language
which was universally understood to indicate that the Government
had altogether abandoned all thought of Protection. Lord Stanley
was addressing the inhabitants of a town. Meanwhile, on the
other side of the Wash, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
was haranguing the farmers of Lincolnshire; and, when somebody
took it upon him to ask, "What will you do, Mr Christopher, if
Lord Derby abandons Protection?" the Chancellor of the Duchy
refused to answer a question so monstrous, so insulting to Lord
Derby. "I will stand by Lord Derby," he said, "because I know
that Lord Derby will stand by Protection." Well, these opposite
declarations of two eminent persons, both likely to know the mind
of Lord Derby on the subject, go forth, and are taken up by less
distinguished adherents of the party. The Tory candidate for
Leicestershire says, "I put faith in Mr Christopher: while you
see Mr Christopher in the Government, you may be assured that
agriculture will be protected." But, in East Surrey, which is
really a suburb of London, I find the Tory candidate saying,
"Never mind Mr Christopher. I trust to Lord Stanley. What
should Mr Christopher know on the subject? He is not in the
Cabinet: he can tell you nothing about it. Nay, these tactics
were carried so far that Tories who had formerly been for Free
Trade, turned Protectionists if they stood for counties; and
Tories, who had always been furious Protectionists, declared for
Free Trade, without scruple or shame, if they stood for large
towns. Take for example Lord Maidstone. He was once one of the
most vehement Protectionists in England, and put forth a small
volume, which, as I am an elector of Westminster, and as he was a
candidate for Westminster, I thought it my duty to buy, in order
to understand his opinions. It is entitled Free Trade
Hexameters. Of the poetical merits of Lord Maidstone's
hexameters I shall not presume to give an opinion. You may all
form an opinion for yourselves by ordering copies. They may
easily be procured: for I was assured, when I bought mine in
Bond Street, that the supply on hand was still considerable. But
of the political merits of Lord Maidstone's hexameters I can
speak with confidence; and it is impossible to conceive a fiercer
attack, according to the measure of the power of the assailant,
than that which his lordship made on Sir Robert Peel's policy.
On the other hand, Sir Fitzroy Kelly, who is now Solicitor
General, and who was Solicitor General under Sir Robert Peel,
voted steadily with Sir Robert Peel, doubtless from a regard to
the public interest, which would have suffered greatly by the
retirement of so able a lawyer from the service of the Crown.
Sir Fitzroy did not think it necessary to lay down his office
even when Sir Robert Peel brought in the bill which established a
free trade in corn. But unfortunately, Lord Maidstone becomes a
candidate for the City of Westminster, and Sir Fitzroy Kelly
stands for an agricultural county. Instantly, therefore, Lord
Maidstone forgets his verses, and Sir Fitzroy Kelly forgets his
votes. Lord Maidstone declares himself a convert to the opinions
of Sir Robert Peel; and Sir Robert Peel's own Solicitor General
lifts up his head intrepidly, and makes a speech, apparently
composed out of Lord Maidstone's hexameters.

It is therefore, Gentlemen, utterly impossible for me to pretend
to infer, from the language held by the members of the
Government, and their adherents, what course they will take on
the subject of Protection. Nevertheless, I confidently say that
the system established by Sir Robert Peel is perfectly safe. The
law which repealed the Corn Laws stands now on a much firmer
foundation than when it was first passed. We are stronger than
ever in reason; and we are stronger than ever in numbers. We are
stronger than ever in reason, because what was only prophecy is
now history. No person can now question the salutary effect
which the repeal of the Corn Laws has had on our trade and
industry. We are stronger than ever in numbers. You, I am sure,
recollect the time when a formidable opposition to the repeal of
the Corn Laws was made by a class which was most deeply
interested in that repeal; I mean the labouring classes. You
recollect that, in many large towns, ten years ago, the friends
of Free Trade could not venture to call meetings for the purpose
of petitioning against the Corn Laws, for fear of being
interrupted by a crowd of working people, who had been taught by
a certain class of demagogues to say that the question was one in
which working people had no interest, that it was purely a
capitalist's question, that, if the poor man got a large loaf
instead of a small one, he would get from the capitalist only a
sixpence instead of a shilling. I never had the slightest faith
in those doctrines. Experience even then seemed to me completely
to confute them. I compared place with place; and I found that,
though bread was dearer in England than in Ohio, wages were
higher in Ohio than in England. I compared time with time; and I
saw that those times when bread was cheapest in England, within
my own memory, were also the times in which the condition of the
labouring classes was the happiest. But now the experiment has
been tried in a manner which admits of no dispute. I should be
glad to know, if there were now an attempt made to impose a tax
on corn, what demagogue would be able to bring a crowd of working
men to hold up their hands in favour of such a tax. Thus strong,
Gentlemen, in reason, and thus strong in numbers, we need, I
believe, apprehend no direct attack on the principles of Free
Trade. It will, however, be one of the first duties of your
representatives to be vigilant that no indirect attack shall be
made on these principles; and to take care that in our financial
arrangements no undue favour shall be shown to any class.

With regard to the other question which I have mentioned, the
question of Parliamentary Reform, I think that the time is at
hand when that question will require the gravest consideration,
when it will be necessary to reconsider the Reform Act of 1832,
and to amend it temperately and cautiously, but in a large and
liberal spirit. I confess that, in my opinion, this revision
cannot be made with advantage, except by the Ministers of the
Crown. I greatly doubt whether it will be found possible to
carry through any plan of improvement if we have not the
Government heartily with us; and I must say that from the present
Administration I can, as to that matter, expect nothing good.
What precisely I am to expect from them I do not know, whether
the most obstinate opposition to every change, or the most
insanely violent change. If I look to their conduct, I find the
gravest reasons for apprehending that they may at one time resist
the most just demands, and at another time, from the merest
caprice, propose the wildest innovations. And I will tell you
why I entertain this opinion. I am sorry that, in doing so, I
must mention the name of a gentleman for whom, personally, I have
the highest respect; I mean Mr Walpole, the Secretary of State
for the Home Department. My own acquaintance with him is slight;
but I know him well by character; and I believe him to be an
honourable, an excellent, an able man. No man is more esteemed
in private life: but of his public conduct I must claim the
right to speak with freedom; and I do so with the less scruple
because he has himself set me an example of that freedom, and
because I am really now standing on the defensive. Mr Walpole
lately made a speech to the electors of Midhurst; and in that
speech he spoke personally of Lord John Russell as one honourable
man should speak of another, and as, I am sure, I wish always to
speak of Mr Walpole. But in Lord John's public conduct Mr
Walpole found many faults. Chief among those faults was this,
that his lordship had re-opened the question of reform. Mr
Walpole declared himself to be opposed on principle to organic
change. He justly said that if, unfortunately, organic change
should be necessary, whatever was done ought to be done with much
deliberation and with caution almost timorous; and he charged
Lord John with having neglected these plain rules of prudence. I
was perfectly thunderstruck when I read the speech: for I could
not but recollect that the most violent and democratic change
that ever was proposed within the memory of the oldest man had
been proposed but a few weeks before by this same Mr Walpole, as
the organ of the present Government. Do you remember the history
of the Militia Bill? In general, when a great change in our
institutions is to be proposed from the Treasury Bench, the
Minister announces his intention some weeks before. There is a
great attendance: there is the most painful anxiety to know what
he is going to recommend. I well remember,--for I was present,--
with what breathless suspense six hundred persons waited, on the
first of March, 1831, to hear Lord John Russell explain the
principles of his Reform Bill. But what was his Reform Bill to
the Reform Bill of the Derby Administration? At the end of a
night, in the coolest way possible, without the smallest notice,
Mr Walpole proposed to add to the tail of the Militia Bill a
clause to the effect, that every man who had served in the
militia for two years should have a vote for the county. What is
the number of those voters who were to be entitled to vote in
this way for counties? The militia of England is to consist of
eighty thousand men; and the term of service is to be five years.
In ten years the number will be one hundred and sixty thousand;
in twenty years, three hundred and twenty thousand; and in
twenty-five years, four hundred thousand. Some of these new
electors will, of course, die off in twenty-five years, though
the lives are picked lives, remarkably good lives. What the
mortality is likely to be I do not accurately know; but any
actuary will easily calculate it for you. I should say, in round
numbers, that you will have, when the system has been in
operation for a generation, an addition of about three hundred
thousand to the county constituent bodies; that is to say, six
thousand voters on the average will be added to every county in
England and Wales. That is surely an immense addition. And what
is the qualification? Why, the first qualification is youth.
These electors are not to be above a certain age; but the nearer
you can get them to eighteen the better. The second
qualification is poverty. The elector is to be a person to whom
a shilling a-day is an object. The third qualification is
ignorance; for I venture to say that, if you take the trouble to
observe the appearance of those young fellows who follow the
recruiting sergeant in the streets, you will at once say that,
among our labouring classes, they are not the most educated, they
are not the most intelligent. That they are brave, stout lads, I
fully believe. Lord Hardinge tells me that he never saw a finer
set of young men; and I have not the slightest doubt that, if
necessary, after a few weeks' training, they will be found
standing up for our firesides against the best disciplined
soldiers that the Continent can produce. But these are not the
qualifications which fit men to choose legislators. A young man
who goes from the ploughtail into the army is generally rather
thoughtless and disposed to idleness. Oh! but there is another
qualification which I had forgotten: the voter must be five feet
two. There is a qualification for you! Only think of measuring
a man for the franchise! And this is the work of a Conservative
Government, this plan which would swamp all the counties in
England with electors who possess the Derby-Walpole
qualifications; that is to say, youth, poverty, ignorance, a
roving disposition, and five feet two. Why, what right have
people who have proposed such a change as this to talk about--I
do not say Lord John Russell's imprudence--but the imprudence of
Ernest Jones or of any other Chartist? The Chartists, to do them
justice, would give the franchise to wealth as well as to
poverty, to knowledge as well as to ignorance, to mature age as
well as to youth. But to make a qualification compounded of
disqualifications is a feat of which the whole glory belongs to
our Conservative rulers. This astounding proposition was made, I
believe, in a very thin House: but the next day the House was
full enough, everybody having come down to know what was going to
happen. One asked, why not this? and another, why not that? Are
all the regular troops to have the franchise? all the policemen?
all the sailors? for, if you give the franchise to ploughboys of
twenty-one, what class of honest Englishmen and Scotchmen can you
with decency exclude? But up gets the Home Secretary, and
informs the House that the plan had not been sufficiently
considered, that some of his colleagues were not satisfied, and
that he would not press his proposition. Now, if it had happened
to me to propose such a reform at one sitting of the House, and
at the next sitting to withdraw it, because it had not been well
considered, I do think that, to the end of my life, I never
should have talked about the exceeding imprudence of reopening
the question of reform; I should never have ventured to read any
other man a lecture about the caution with which all plans of
organic change ought to be framed. I repeat that, if I am to
judge from the language of the present Ministers, taken in
connection with this solitary instance of their legislative skill
in the way of reform, I am utterly at a loss what to expect. On
the whole, what I do expect is that they will offer a
pertinacious, vehement, provoking opposition to safe and
reasonable change, and that then, in some moment of fear or
caprice, they will bring in, and fling on the table, in a fit of
desperation or levity, some plan which will loosen the very
foundations of society.

For my own part, I think that the question of Parliamentary
Reform is one which must soon be taken up; but it ought to be
taken up by the Government; and I hope, before long, to see in
office a Ministry which will take it up in earnest. I dare say
that you will not suspect me of saying so from any interested
feeling. In no case whatever shall I again be a member of any
Ministry. During what may remain of my public life, I shall be
the servant of none but you. I have nothing to ask of any
government, except that protection which every government owes to
a faithful and loyal subject of the Queen. But I do hope to see
in office before long a Ministry which will treat this great
question as it should be treated. It will be the duty of that
Ministry to revise the distribution of power. It will be the
duty of that Ministry to consider whether small constituent
bodies, notoriously corrupt, and proved to be corrupt, such, for
example, as Harwich, ought to retain the power of sending members
to Parliament. It will be the duty of such a Ministry to
consider whether small constituent bodies, even less notoriously
corrupt, ought to have, in the counsels of the empire, a share as
great as that of the West Riding of York, and twice as great as
that of the county of Perth. It will be the duty of such a
Ministry to consider whether it may not be possible, without the
smallest danger to peace, law, and order, to extend the elective
franchise to classes of the community which do not now possess
it. As to universal suffrage, on that subject you already know
my opinions; and I now come before you with those opinions
strengthened by everything which, since I last professed them,
has passed in Europe. We now know, by the clearest of all
proofs, that universal suffrage, even united with secret voting,
is no security against the establishment of arbitrary power.
But, Gentlemen, I do look forward, and at no very remote period,
to an extension of the franchise, such as I once thought unsafe.
I believe that such an extension will, by the course of events,
be brought about in the very best and happiest way. Perhaps I
may be sanguine: but I think that good times are coming for the
labouring classes of this country. I do not entertain that hope
because I expect that Fourierism, or Saint Simonianism, or
Socialism, or any of those other "isms" for which the plain
English word is "robbery," will prevail. I know that such
schemes only aggravate the misery which they pretend to relieve.
I know that it is possible, by legislation, to make the rich
poor, but that it is utterly impossible to make the poor rich.
But I believe that the progress of experimental science, the free
intercourse of nation with nation, the unrestricted influx of
commodities from countries where they are cheap, and the
unrestricted efflux of labour towards countries where it is dear,
will soon produce, nay, I believe that they are beginning to
produce, a great and most blessed social revolution. I need not
tell you, Gentlemen, that in those colonies which have been
planted by our race,--and, when I speak of our colonies I speak
as well of those which have separated from us as of those which
still remain united to us,--I need not tell you that in our
colonies the condition of the labouring man has long been far
more prosperous than in any part of the Old World. And why is
this? Some people tell you that the inhabitants of Pennsylvania
and New England are better off than the inhabitants of the Old
World, because the United States have a republican form of
government. But we know that the inhabitants of Pennsylvania and
New England were more prosperous than the inhabitants of the Old
World when Pennsylvania and New England were as loyal as any part
of the dominions of George the First, George the Second, and
George the Third; and we know that in Van Diemen's Land, in New
Zealand, in Australasia, in New Brunswick, in Canada, the
subjects of Her Majesty are as prosperous as they could be under
the government of a President. The real cause is that, in these
new countries, where there is a boundless extent of fertile land,
nothing is easier than for the labourer to pass from the place
which is overstocked with labour to the place which is
understocked; and that thus both he who moves and he who stays
always have enough. This it is which keeps up the prosperity of
the Atlantic States of the Union. They pour their population
back to the Ohio, across the Ohio to the Mississippi, and beyond
the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains. Everywhere the desert is
receding before the advancing flood of human life and
civilisation; and, in the meantime, those who are left behind
enjoy abundance, and never endure such privations as in old
countries too often befall the labouring classes. And why has
not the condition of our labourers been equally fortunate?
Simply, as I believe, on account of the great distance which
separates our country from the new and unoccupied part of the
world, and on account of the expense of traversing that distance.
Science, however, has abridged, and is abridging, that distance:
science has diminished, and is diminishing, that expense.
Already New Zealand is, for all practical purposes, nearer to us
than New England was to the Puritans who fled thither from the
tyranny of Laud. Already the ports of North America, Halifax,
Boston, and New York, are nearer to us than, within the memory of
persons now living, the Island of Skye and the county of Donegal
were to London. Already emigration is beginning to produce the
same effect here which it has produced on the Atlantic States of
the Union. And do not imagine that our countryman who goes
abroad is altogether lost to us. Even if he goes from under the
dominion of the British Queen and the protection of the British
flag he will still, under the benignant system of free trade,
continue to be bound to us by close ties. If he ceases to be a
neighbour, he is still a benefactor and a customer. Go where he
may, if you will but maintain that system inviolate, it is for us
that he is turning the forests into cornfields on the banks of
the Mississippi; it is for us that he is tending his sheep and
preparing his fleeces in the heart of Australasia; and in the
meantime it is from us that he receives those commodities which
are produced with most advantage in old societies, where great
masses of capital have been accumulated. His candlesticks and
his pots and his pans come from Birmingham; his knives from
Sheffield; the light cotton jacket which he wears in summer from
Manchester; the good cloth coat which he wears in winter from
Leeds; and in return he sends us back, from what was lately a
wilderness, the good flour out of which is made the large loaf
which the British labourer divides among his children. I believe
that it is in these changes that we shall see the best solution
of the question of the franchise. We shall make our institutions
more democratic than they are, not by lowering the franchise to
the level of the great mass of the community, but by raising, in
a time which will be very short when compared with the existence
of a nation, the great mass up to the level of the franchise.

I feel that I must stop. I had meant to advert to some other
subjects. I had meant to say something about the ballot, to
which, as you know, I have always been favourable; something
about triennial parliaments, to which, as you know, I have always
been honestly opposed; something about your university tests;
something about the cry for religious equality which has lately
been raised in Ireland; but I feel that I cannot well proceed. I
have only strength to thank you again, from the very bottom of my
heart, for the great honour which you have done me in choosing
me, without solicitation, to represent you in Parliament. I am
proud of our connection; and I shall try to act in such a manner
that you may not be ashamed of it.




On the first of June 1853, Lord Hotham, Member for Kent, moved
the third reading of a bill of which the chief object was to make
the Master of the Rolls incapable of sitting in the House of
Commons. Mr Henry Drummond, Member for Surrey, moved that the
bill should be read a third time that day six months. In support
of Mr Drummond's amendment the following Speech was made.

The amendment was carried by 224 votes to 123.

I cannot, Sir, suffer the House to proceed to a division without
expressing the very strong opinion which I have formed on this
subject. I shall give my vote, with all my heart and soul, for
the amendment moved by my honourable friend the Member for
Surrey. I never gave a vote in my life with a more entire
confidence that I was in the right; and I cannot but think it
discreditable to us that a bill for which there is so little to
be said, and against which there is so much to be said, should
have been permitted to pass through so many stages without a

On what grounds, Sir, does the noble lord, the Member for Kent,
ask us to make this change in the law? The only ground, surely,
on which a Conservative legislator ought ever to propose a change
in the law is this, that the law, as it stands, has produced some
evil. Is it then pretended that the law, as it stands, has
produced any evil? The noble lord himself tells you that it has
produced no evil whatever. Nor can it be said that the
experiment has not been fairly tried. This House and the office
of Master of the Rolls began to exist, probably in the same
generation, certainly in the same century. During six hundred
years this House has been open to Masters of the Rolls. Many
Masters of the Rolls have sate here, and have taken part, with
great ability and authority, in our deliberations. To go no
further back than the accession of the House of Hanover, Jekyll
was a member of this House, and Strange, and Kenyon, and Pepper
Arden, and Sir William Grant, and Sir John Copley, and Sir
Charles Pepys, and finally Sir John Romilly. It is not even
pretended that any one of these eminent persons was ever, on any
single occasion, found to be the worse member of this House for
being Master of the Rolls, or the worse Master of the Rolls for
being a member of this House. And if so, is it, I ask, the part
of a wise statesman, is it, I ask still more emphatically, the
part of a Conservative statesman, to alter a system which has
lasted six centuries, and which has never once, during all those
centuries, produced any but good effects, merely because it is
not in harmony with an abstract principle?

And what is the abstract principle for the sake of which we are
asked to innovate in reckless defiance of all the teaching of
experience? It is this; that political functions ought to be
kept distinct from judicial functions. So sacred, it seems, is
this principle, that the union of the political and judicial
characters ought not to be suffered to continue even in a case in
which that union has lasted through many ages without producing
the smallest practical inconvenience. "Nothing is so hateful," I
quote the words of the noble lord who brought in this bill,
"nothing is so hateful as a political judge."

Now, Sir, if I assent to the principle laid down by the noble
lord, I must pronounce his bill the most imbecile, the most
pitiful, attempt at reform that ever was made. The noble lord is
a homoeopathist in state medicine. His remedies are administered
in infinitesimal doses. If he will, for a moment, consider how
our tribunals are constituted, and how our parliament is
constituted, he will perceive that the judicial and political
character are, through all grades, everywhere combined,
everywhere interwoven, and that therefore the evil which he
proposes to remove vanishes, as the mathematicians say, when
compared with the immense mass of evil which he leaves behind.

It has been asked, and very sensibly asked, why, if you exclude
the Master of the Rolls from the House, you should not also
exclude the Recorder of the City of London. I should be very
sorry to see the Recorder of the City of London excluded. But I
must say that the reasons for excluding him are ten times as
strong as the reasons for excluding the Master of the Rolls. For
it is well-known that political cases of the highest importance
have been tried by Recorders of the City of London. But why not
exclude all Recorders, and all Chairmen of Quarter Sessions? I
venture to say that there are far stronger reasons for excluding
a Chairman of Quarter Sessions than for excluding a Master of the
Rolls. I long ago attended, during two or three years, the
Quarter Sessions of a great county. There I constantly saw in
the chair an eminent member of this House. An excellent criminal
judge he was. Had he been a veteran lawyer, he could hardly have
tried causes more satisfactorily or more expeditiously. But he
was a keen politician: he had made a motion which had turned out
a Government; and when he died he was a Cabinet Minister. Yet
this gentleman, the head of the Blue interest, as it was called,
in his county, might have had to try men of the Orange party for
rioting at a contested election. He voted for the corn laws; and
he might have had to try men for breaches of the peace which had
originated in the discontent caused by the corn laws. He was, as
I well remember, hooted, and, I rather think, pelted too, by the
mob of London for his conduct towards Queen Caroline; and, when
he went down to his county, he might have had to sit in judgment
on people for breaking windows which had not been illuminated in
honour of Her Majesty's victory. This is not a solitary
instance. There are, I dare say, in this House, fifty Chairmen
of Quarter Sessions. And this is an union of judicial and
political functions against which there is really much to be
said. For it is important, not only that the administration of
justice should be pure, but that it should be unsuspected. Now I
am willing to believe that the administration of justice by the
unpaid magistrates in political cases is pure: but unsuspected
it certainly is not. It is notorious that, in times of political
excitement, the cry of the whole democratic press always is that
a poor man, who has been driven by distress to outrage, has far
harder measure at the Quarter Sessions than at the Assizes. So
loud was this cry in 1819 that Mr Canning, in one of his most
eloquent speeches, pronounced it the most alarming of all the
signs of the times. See then how extravagantly, how ludicrously
inconsistent your legislation is. You lay down the principle
that the union of political functions and judicial functions is a
hateful abuse. That abuse you determine to remove. You
accordingly leave in this House a crowd of judges who, in
troubled times, have to try persons charged with political
offences; of judges who have often been accused, truly or
falsely, of carrying to the judgment seat their political
sympathies and antipathies; and you shut out of the house a
single judge, whose duties are of such a nature that it has never
once, since the time of Edward the First, been even suspected
that he or any of his predecessors has, in the administration of
justice, favoured a political ally, or wronged a political

But even if I were to admit, what I altogether deny, that there
is something in the functions of the Master of the Rolls which
makes it peculiarly desirable that he should not take any part in
politics, I should still vote against this bill, as most
inconsistent and inefficient. If you think that he ought to be
excluded from political assemblies, why do not you exclude him?
You do no such thing. You exclude him from the House of Commons,
but you leave the House of Lords open to him. Is not the House
of Lords a political assembly? And is it not certain that,
during several generations, judges have generally had a great
ascendency in the House of Lords? A hundred years ago a great
judge, Lord Hardwicke, possessed an immense influence there. He
bequeathed his power to another great judge, Lord Mansfield.
When age had impaired the vigour of Lord Mansfield, the authority
which he had, during many years, enjoyed, passed to a third
judge, Lord Thurlow. Everybody knows what a dominion that
eminent judge, Lord Eldon, exercised over the peers, what a share
he took in making and unmaking ministries, with what idolatrous
veneration he was regarded by one great party in the State, with
what dread and aversion he was regarded by the other. When the
long reign of Lord Eldon had terminated, other judges, Whig and
Tory, appeared at the head of contending factions. Some of us
can well remember the first ten days of October, 1831. Who,
indeed, that lived through those days can ever forget them? It
was the most exciting, the most alarming political conjuncture of
my time. On the morning of the eighth of October, the Reform
Bill, after a discussion which had lasted through many nights,
was rejected by the Lords. God forbid that I should again see
such a crisis! I can never hope again to hear such a debate. It
was indeed a splendid display of various talents and
acquirements. There are, I dare say, some here who, like myself,
watched through the last night of that conflict till the late
autumnal dawn, sometimes walking up and down the long gallery,
sometimes squeezing ourselves in behind the throne, or below the
bar, to catch the eloquence of the great orators who, on that
great occasion, surpassed themselves. There I saw, in the
foremost ranks, confronting each other, two judges, on one side
Lord Brougham, Chancellor of the realm, on the other Lord
Lyndhurst, Chief Baron of the Exchequer. How eagerly we hung on
their words! How eagerly those words were read before noon by
hundreds of thousands in the capital, and within forty-eight
hours, by millions in every part of the kingdom! With what a
burst of popular fury the decision of the House was received by
the nation! The ruins of Nottingham Castle, the ruins of whole
streets and squares at Bristol, proved but too well to what a
point the public feeling had been wound up. If it be true that
nothing is so hateful to the noble lord, the Member for Kent, as
a judge who takes part in political contentions, why does he not
bring in a bill to prevent judges from entering those lists in
which Lord Brougham and Lord Lyndhurst then encountered each
other? But no: the noble lord is perfectly willing to leave
those lists open to the Master of the Rolls. The noble lord's
objection is not to the union of the judicial character and the
political character. He is quite willing that anywhere but here
judges should be politicians. The Master of the Rolls may be the
soul of a great party, the head of a great party, the favourite
tribune of a stormy democracy, the chief spokesman of a haughty
aristocracy. He may do all that declamation and sophistry can do
to inflame the passions or mislead the judgment of a senate. But
it must not be in this room. He must go a hundred and fifty
yards hence. He must sit on a red bench, and not on a green one.
He must say, "My Lords," and not "Mr Speaker." He must say,
"Content," and not "Aye." And then he may, without at all
shocking the noble lord, be the most stirring politician in the

But I am understating my case. I am greatly understating it.
For, Sir, this union of the judicial character and the political
character, in Members of the other House of Parliament, is not a
merely accidental union. Not only may judges be made peers; but
all the peers are necessarily judges. Surely when the noble lord
told us that the union of political functions and of judicial
functions was the most hateful of all things, he must have
forgotten that, by the fundamental laws of the realm, a political
assembly is the supreme court of appeal, the court which finally
confirms or annuls the judgments of the courts, both of common
law and of equity, at Westminster, of the courts of Scotland, of
the courts of Ireland, of this very Master of the Rolls about
whom we are debating. Surely, if the noble lord's principle be a
sound one, it is not with the Master of the Rolls but with the
House of Peers that we ought to begin. For, beyond all dispute,
it is more important that the court above should be constituted
on sound principles than that the court below should be so
constituted. If the Master of the Rolls goes wrong, the House of
Peers may correct his errors. But who is to correct the errors
of the House of Peers? All these considerations the noble lord
overlooks. He is quite willing that the peers shall sit in the
morning as judges, shall determine questions affecting the
property, the liberty, the character of the Queen's subjects,
shall determine those questions in the last resort, shall
overrule the decisions of all the other tribunals in the country;
and that then, in the afternoon, these same noble persons shall
meet as politicians, and shall debate, sometimes rather sharply,
sometimes in a style which we dare not imitate for fear that you,
Sir, should call us to order, about the Canadian Clergy Reserves,
the Irish National Schools, the Disabilities of the Jews, the
Government of India. I do not blame the noble lord for not
attempting to alter this state of things. We cannot alter it, I
know, without taking up the foundations of our constitution. But
is it not absurd, while we live under such a constitution, while,
throughout our whole system from top to bottom, political
functions and judicial functions are combined, to single out, not
on any special ground, but merely at random, one judge from a
crowd of judges, and to exclude him, not from all political
assemblies, but merely from one political assembly? Was there
ever such a mummery as the carrying of this bill to the other
House will be, if, unfortunately, it should be carried thither.
The noble lord, himself, I have no doubt, a magistrate, himself
at once a judge and a politician, accompanied by several
gentlemen who are at once judges and politicians, will go to the
bar of the Lords, who are all at once judges and politicians,
will deliver the bill into the hands of the Chancellor, who is at
once the chief judge of the realm and a Cabinet Minister, and
will return hither proud of having purified the administration of
justice from the taint of politics.

No, Sir, no; for the purpose of purifying the administration of
justice this bill is utterly impotent. It will be effectual for
one purpose, and for one purpose only, for the purpose of
weakening and degrading the House of Commons. This is not the
first time that an attempt has been made, under specious
pretexts, to lower the character and impair the efficiency of the
assembly which represents the great body of the nation. More
than a hundred and fifty years ago there was a general cry that
the number of placemen in Parliament was too great. No doubt,
Sir, the number was too great: the evil required a remedy: but
some rash and short-sighted though probably well meaning men,
proposed a remedy which would have produced far more evil than it
would have removed. They inserted in the Act of Settlement a
clause providing that no person who held any office under the
Crown should sit in this House. The clause was not to take
effect till the House of Hanover should come to the throne; and,
happily for the country, before the House of Hanover came to the
throne, the clause was repealed. Had it not been repealed, the
Act of Settlement would have been, not a blessing, but a curse to
the country. There was no want, indeed, of plausible and popular
commonplaces in favour of this clause. No man, it was said, can
serve two masters. A courtier cannot be a good guardian of
public liberty. A man who derives his subsistence from the taxes
cannot be trusted to check the public expenditure. You will
never have purity, you will never have economy, till the stewards
of the nation are independent of the Crown, and dependent only on
their constituents. Yes; all this sounded well: but what man of
sense now doubts that the effect of a law excluding all official
men from this House would have been to depress that branch of the
legislature which springs from the people, and to increase the
power and consideration of the hereditary aristocracy? The whole
administration would have been in the hands of peers. The chief
object of every eminent Commoner would have been to obtain a
peerage. As soon as any man had gained such distinction here by
his eloquence and knowledge that he was selected to fill the post
of Chancellor of the Exchequer, Secretary of State, or First Lord
of the Admiralty, he would instantly have turned his back on what
would then indeed have been emphatically the Lower House, and
would have gone to that chamber in which alone it would have been
possible for him fully to display his abilities and fully to
gratify his ambition. Walpole and Pulteney, the first Pitt and
the second Pitt, Fox, Windham, Canning, Peel, all the men whose
memory is inseparably associated with this House, all the men of
whose names we think with pride as we pass through St Stephen's
Hall, the place of their contentions and their triumphs, would,
in the vigour and prime of life, have become Barons and
Viscounts. The great conflict of parties would have been
transferred from the Commons to the Lords. It would have been
impossible for an assembly, in which not a single statesman of
great fame, authority, and experience in important affairs would
have been found, to hold its own against an assembly in which all
our eminent politicians and orators would have been collected.
All England, all Europe, would have been reading with breathless
interest the debates of the peers, and looking with anxiety for
the divisions of the peers, while we, instead of discussing high
questions of state, and giving a general direction to the whole
domestic and foreign policy of the realm, should have been
settling the details of canal bills and turnpike bills.

The noble lord, the Member for Kent does not, it is true, propose
so extensive and important a change as that which the authors of
the Act of Settlement wished to make. But the tendency of this
bill is, beyond all doubt, to make this House less capable than
it once was, and less capable than the other House now is, of
discharging some of the most important duties of a legislative

Of the duties of a legislative assembly, the noble lord, and some
of those gentlemen who support his bill, seem to me to have
formed a very imperfect notion. They argue as if the only
business of the House of Commons was to turn one set of men out
of place, and to bring another set into place; as if a judge
could find no employment here but factious wrangling. Sir, it is
not so. There are extensive and peaceful provinces of
parliamentary business far removed from the fields of battle
where hostile parties encounter each other. A great jurist,
seated among us, might, without taking any prominent part in the
strife between the Ministry and the Opposition, render to his
country most valuable service, and earn for himself an
imperishable name. Nor was there ever a time when the assistance
of such a jurist was more needed, or was more likely to be justly
appreciated, than at present. No observant man can fail to
perceive that there is in the public mind a general, a growing,
an earnest, and at the same time, I must say, a most sober and
reasonable desire for extensive law reform. I hope and believe
that, for some time to come, no year will pass without progress
in law reform; and I hold that of all law reformers the best is a
learned, upright, and large-minded judge. At such a time it is
that we are called upon to shut the door of this House against
the last great judicial functionary to whom the unwise
legislation of former parliaments has left it open. In the
meantime the other House is open to him. It is open to all the
other judges who are not suffered to sit here. It is open to the
Judge of the Admiralty Court, whom the noble lord, twelve or
thirteen years ago, prevailed on us, in an unlucky hour, to
exclude. In the other House is the Lord Chancellor, and several
retired Chancellors, a Lord Chief Justice, in several retired
Chief Justices. The Queen may place there to-morrow the Chief
Baron, the two Lords Justices, the three Vice Chancellors, the
very Master of the Rolls about whom we are debating: and we, as
if we were not already too weak for the discharge of our
functions, are trying to weaken ourselves still more. I harbour
no unfriendly feeling towards the Lords. I anticipate no
conflict with them. But it is not fit that we should be unable
to bear an equal part with them in the great work of improving
and digesting the law. It is not fit that we should be under the
necessity of placing implicit confidence in their superior
wisdom, and of registering without amendment, any bill which they
may send us. To that humiliating situation we are, I grieve to
say, fast approaching. I was much struck by a circumstance which
occurred a few days ago. I heard the honourable Member for
Montrose, who, by the by, is one of the supporters of this bill,
urge the House to pass the Combination Bill, for a most
extraordinary reason. "We really," he said, "cannot tell how the
law about combinations of workmen at present stands; and, not
knowing how the law at present stands, we are quite incompetent
to decide whether it ought to be altered. Let us send the bill
up to the Lords. They understand these things. We do not.
There are Chancellors, and ex-Chancellors, and Judges among them.
No doubt they will do what is proper; and I shall acquiesce in
their decision." Why, Sir, did ever any legislative assembly
abdicate its functions in so humiliating a manner? Is it not
strange that a gentleman, distinguished by his love of popular
institutions, and by the jealousy with which he regards the
aristocracy, should gravely propose that, on a subject which
interests and excites hundreds of thousands of our constituents,
we should declare ourselves incompetent to form an opinion, and
beg the Lords to tell us what we ought to do? And is it not
stranger still that, while he admits the incompetence of the
House to discharge some of its most important functions, and
while he attributes that incompetence to the want of judicial
assistance, he should yet wish to shut out of the House the only
high judicial functionary who is now permitted to come into it?

But, says the honourable Member for Montrose, the Master of the
Rolls has duties to perform which, if properly performed, will
leave him no leisure for attendance in this House: it is
important that there should be a division of labour: no man can
do two things well; and, if we suffer a judge to be a member of
Parliament, we shall have both a bad member of Parliament and a
bad judge.

Now, Sir, if this argument proves anything, it proves that the
Master of the Rolls, and indeed all the other judges, ought to be
excluded from the House of Lords as well as from the House of
Commons. But I deny that the argument is of any weight. The
division of labour has its disadvantages as well as its
advantages. In operations merely mechanical you can hardly carry
the subdivision too far; but you may very easily carry it too far
in operations which require the exercise of high intellectual
powers. It is quite true, as Adam Smith tells us, that a pin
will be best made when one man does nothing but cut the wire,
when another does nothing but mould the head, when a third does
nothing but sharpen the point. But it is not true that Michael
Angelo would have been a greater painter if he had not been a
sculptor: it is not true that Newton would have been a greater
experimental philosopher if he had not been a geometrician; and
it is not true that a man will be a worse lawgiver because he is
a great judge. I believe that there is as close a connection
between the functions of the judge and the functions of the
lawgiver as between anatomy and surgery. Would it not be the
height of absurdity to lay down the rule that nobody who
dissected the dead should be allowed to operate on the living?
The effect of such a division of labour would be that you would
have nothing but bungling surgery; and the effect of the division
of labour which the honourable Member for Montrose recommends
will be that we shall have plenty of bungling legislation. Who
can be so well qualified to make laws and to mend laws as a man
whose business is to interpret laws and to administer laws? As
to this point I have great pleasure in citing an authority to
which the honourable Member for Montrose will, I know, be
disposed to pay the greatest deference; the authority of Mr
Bentham. Of Mr Bentham's moral and political speculations, I
entertain, I must own, a very mean opinion: but I hold him in
high esteem as a jurist. Among all his writings there is none
which I value more than the treatise on Judicial Organization.
In that excellent work he discusses the question whether a person
who holds a judicial office ought to be permitted to hold with it
any other office. Mr Bentham argues strongly and convincingly
against pluralities; but he admits that there is one exception to
the general rule. A judge, he says, ought to be allowed to sit
in the legislature as a representative of the people; for the
best school for a legislator is the judicial bench; and the
supply of legislative skill is in all societies so scanty that
none of it can be spared.

My honourable friend, the Member for Surrey, has completely
refuted another argument to which the noble lord, the Member for
Kent, appears to attach considerable importance. The noble lord
conceives that no person can enter this House without stooping to
practice arts which would ill become the gravity of the judicial
character. He spoke particularly of what he called the
jollifications usual at elections. Undoubtedly the festivities
at elections are sometimes disgraced by intemperance, and
sometimes by buffoonery; and I wish from the bottom of my heart
that intemperance and buffoonery were the worst means to which
men, reputed upright and honourable in private life, have
resorted in order to obtain seats in the legislature. I should,
indeed, be sorry if any Master of the Rolls should court the
favour of the populace by playing the mounttebank on the hustings
or on tavern tables. Still more sorry should I be if any Master
of the Rolls were to disgrace himself and his office by employing
the ministry of the Frails and the Flewkers, by sending vile
emissaries with false names, false addresses, and bags of
sovereigns, to buy the votes of the poor. No doubt a Master of
the Rolls ought to be free, not only from guilt, but from
suspicion. I have not hitherto mentioned the present Master of
the Rolls. I have not mentioned him because, in my opinion, this
question ought to be decided by general and not by personal
considerations. I cannot, however, refrain from saying, with a
confidence which springs from long and intimate acquaintance,
that my valued friend, Sir John Romilly, will never again sit in
this House unless he can come in by means very different from
those by which he was turned out. But, Sir, are we prepared to
say that no person can become a representative of the English
people except by some sacrifice of integrity, or at least of
personal dignity? If it be so, we had indeed better think of
setting our House in order. If it be so, the prospects of our
country are dark indeed. How can England retain her place among
the nations, if the assembly to which all her dearest interests
are confided, the assembly which can, by a single vote, transfer
the management of her affairs to new hands, and give a new
direction to her whole policy, foreign and domestic, financial,
commercial, and colonial, is closed against every man who has
rigid principles and a fine sense of decorum? But it is not so.
Did that great judge, Sir William Scott, lower his character by
entering this House as Member for the University of Oxford? Did
Sir John Copley lower his character by entering this House as
Member for the University of Cambridge? But the universities,
you say, are constituent bodies of a very peculiar kind. Be it
so. Then, by your own admission, there are a few seats in this
House which eminent judges have filled and may fill without any
unseemly condescension. But it would be most unjust, and in me,
especially, most ungrateful, to compliment the universities at
the expense of other constituent bodies. I am one of many
members who know by experience that a generosity and a delicacy
of sentiment which would do honour to any seat of learning may be
found among the ten pound householders of our great cities. And,
Sir, as to the counties, need we look further than to your chair?
It is of as much importance that you should punctiliously
preserve your dignity as that the Master of the Rolls should
punctiliously preserve his dignity. If you had, at the last
election, done anything inconsistent with the integrity, with the
gravity, with the suavity of temper which so eminently qualify
you to preside over our deliberations, your public usefulness
would have been seriously diminished. But the great county which
does itself honour by sending you to the House required from you
nothing unbecoming your character, and would have felt itself
degraded by your degradation. And what reason is there to doubt
that other constituent bodies would act as justly and
considerately towards a judge distinguished by uprightness and
ability as Hampshire has acted towards you?

One very futile argument only remains to be noticed. It is said
that we ought to be consistent; and that, having turned the Judge
of the Admiralty out of the House, we ought to send the Master of
the Rolls after him. I admit, Sir, that our system is at present
very anomalous. But it is better that a system should be
anomalous than that it should be uniformly and consistently bad.
You have entered on a wrong course. My advice is first that you
stop, and secondly that you retrace your steps. The time is not
far distant when it will be necessary for us to revise the
constitution of this House. On that occasion, it will be part of
our duty to reconsider the rule which determines what public
functionaries shall be admitted to sit here, and what public
functionaries shall be excluded. That rule is, I must say,
singularly absurd. It is this, that no person who holds any
office created since the twenty-fifth of October, 1705, shall be
a member of the House of Commons. Nothing can be more
unreasonable or more inconvenient. In 1705, there were two
Secretaries of State and two Under Secretaries. Consequently, to
this day, only two Secretaries of State and two Under Secretaries
can sit among us. Suppose that the Home Secretary and the
Colonial Secretary are members of this House, and that the office
of Foreign Secretary becomes vacant. In that case, no member of
this House, whatever may be his qualifications, his fame in
diplomacy, his knowledge of all the politics of the Courts of
Europe, can be appointed. Her Majesty must give the Admiralty to
the commoner who is, of all her subjects, fittest for the Foreign
Office, and the seals of the Foreign Office to some peer who
would perhaps be fitter for the Admiralty. Again, the Postmaster
General cannot sit in this House. Yet why not? He always comes
in and goes out with the Government: he is often a member of the
Cabinet; and I believe that he is, of all public functionaries,
the Chancellor of the Exchequer alone excepted, the one whom it
would be most convenient to have here. I earnestly hope that,
before long, this whole subject will be taken into serious
consideration. As to the judges, the rule which I should wish to
see laid down is very simple. I would admit into this House any
judge whom the people might elect, unless there were some special

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