Richard J. (Richard Josiah) Hinton.

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European Public Men.

Edited by



By Thos. Wbntwoeth Higginson. $1.50.

to follow immediately

By Edward King. $1.50.

G. P. Putnam's Sons, . . . New York.


Radical Leaders

v By




Fourth Ave. and 23D St.








HE preparation of this little volume has been a
pleasant task. It has afforded an opportunity to
delineate not only some of the most influential
of Hying Englishmen, but also the popular agitations and
reforms through which their influence has been exerted.
For this purpose it has been necessary to carry the read-
er into a domain little known to Americans, even to those
Americans who have personally visited the mother coun-
try. English governing influences are in a great measure
social, rather than political ; and American travellers
usually see little of the life of the English people, and
often know less than they see. Bearing in mind this fact,
I have tried in each case to link the man and his work
together, pointing out not merely the personal qualities of


the individual, but his importance as the representative
of some principle or popular movement.

Few of those described in this volume are distin-
guished for social position, wealth, or literary culture • but
they all have sincerity, earnestness, experience and the
power to make their influence felt among the people. It
has seemed to me — an Englishman born and reared, an
American by choice, service, and loyal belief in the re-
public,— that the story of these lives was worth telling, if
only to illustrate the manner in which democratic prin-
ciples are gradually penetrating and re-moulding the in-
stitutions of Great Britain.





I. — Professor Fawcett n

II. — Sir Charles W. Dilke . . 25

III. — Peter A. Taylor 55

IV.— Sir John Lubbock 71

V. — Joseph Cowan 77

VI. — Robert Meek Carter 86



VII. — Thomas Hughes 99

VIII. — Anthony J. Mundella 121

IX. — Alexander Macdonald ... 142

X. — Thomas Brassey. 159

XI. — Samuel Morley I7 8



XII. — Samuel Plimsoll 189

XIII. — Sir Wilfred Lawson 209

XIV. — Edward Miall 222

XV. — Henry Richards 239




XVI. — George Jacob Holyoake ' 255

XVII. — Joseph Arch. .... 275

XVIII. — Charles Bradlaugh. 305

XIX. — George Odger 326

XX. — Joseph Chamberlain 347


Professor Fawcett.

BLIND scholar is not so unusual a phenomenon
in the history of intellect and culture as to ex-
cite marked attention, but a blind statesman or
successful politician is so uncommon a character as to
arouse extraordinary interest. In the case of Professor
Fawcett there is ample justification for this feeling. In
spite of all the drawbacks which his infirmity creates, there
are not a half a dozen public men in Great Britain more
likely than the member for Hackney to become, at a day
not very distant, the Prime Minister of that great empire.
While the Professor cannot be, in any way, considered a
Republican, except in the same sense as are all advanced
Liberals in England, yet were it possible to now organize a
Republic there, Professor Fawcett's name would be among
the foremost of those advanced for the executive leader-
ship thereof. He is esteemed so universally a man of such
wisdom and equitable intention, as to have thoroughly won
public confidence. A friendly writer says : —


"The visitor to the House of Commons, waiting at the
door of the Strangers' Gallery, and watching the members
of Parliament as they file in by the main entrance, will no
doubt have his eye particularly arrested by a tall, fair-
haired young man, evidently blind, led up to the door by a
youthful, petite lady with sparkling eyes and blooming
cheeks. She will reluctantly leave him at the door. The
British Constitution would be quite upset were a woman to
invade the floor of the House of Commons after the chap-
lain's incantation has been heard, even so far as to con-
duct her blind husband to his seat, so she has to consign
him to a youth who stands waiting to lead the blind mem-
ber to his place. As she turns away, many a friendly face
will smile, and many a pleasant word attend her as she
trips lightly up the stairway leading to the Ladies' Cage,
near the roof of the House. The whispers pass around,
' One day, perhaps not far off, she will take her seat be-
side her husband and remain there.' And certain it is
that when ladies have the suffrage, the first female mem-
ber of Parliament will be the lady of whom I write — Mrs.
Fawcett. Not one-half of the members of that body are
so competent as she to think deeply and speak finely
on matters of public policy, while not the daintiest live
doll moving about London drawing-rooms surpasses her in
care of her household, her husband, and her child. The
two whom I have mentioned are as well-known figures as
any who approach the sacred precincts of the legislature.
The policemen bow low as they pass ; the crowd in the lobby
make a path ; the door-keeper, Mr. White, the most amia-
ble Cerberus who ever guarded an entrance, utters his
friendly welcome. The strangers ask ' Who is that?' and a


dozen by-standers respond, ' Professor Fawcett.' No one
can look upon him but he will see on his face the characters
of courage, frankness, and intelligence. He is six feet
two inches in height, very blonde, his light hair and com-
plexion and his smooth beardless face giving him some-
thing of the air of a boy. His features are at once
strongly marked and regular. He narrowly escaped being
handsome, and his expression is very winning. His coun-
tenance is habitually serene, and no cloud or frown ever
passes over it. His smile is gentle and winning. It is
probable that no blind man has ever before been able to
enter upon so important a political career as Professor
Fawcett, who, yet under forty years of age, is the most in-
fluential of the independent Liberals in Parliament. From
the moment that he took his seat in that body he has been
able — and this is unusual — to command the close attention
of the House. He has a clear fine voice, speaks with the
utmost fluency, has none of the university intonation, and
none of the hesitation or uneasy attitudes of the average
Parliamentary speaker. He scorns all subterfuges, speaks
honestly his whole mind, and comes to the point. At times
he is eloquent, and he is always interesting. He is known
to be a man of convictions. The usual English political
theory that you need not prove a thing right in principle
if you can show that it for the time works without disaster,
is one which Professor Fawcett ignores. He defends
the right against the wrong, with little respect to conse-
quences." *

Naturally such a character has had to encounter the
opposition of the ordinary English Philistine in politics.

* Moncure D. Conway, in Harper's Monthly, February, 1875.


The author of " Men and Manner in Parliament," declares
that the House of Commons " will not brook a lecture or
advice from a member whose face and figure are not so
familiar that they seem to have become as much a portion
of the chamber as the clock over the gangway or the can-
opy over the Speaker's chair." #

After referring to the election of Mr. Fawcett, in 1865,
to represent Brighton, the same author adds that " at a
period when the nation seemed to be awakening to the
desirability of having culture as well as cotton represented
in Parliament, Mr. Fawcett, like John Stuart Mill, excited
in the public mind a lively expectation of great things.
He strove valiantly to justify this expectation by continually
pronouncing an opinion upon all questions that cropped
up." This course tired the House, and besides, " Mr. Faw-
cett labored under the additional disadvantage of new

" But," continues this lively writer, " he is not a man
who may be smothered in the folds of a wet blanket. I
have seen him stand for fifteen minutes by the clock over
the bar endeavoring to finish a sentence which the House
protested it would not hear. It happened during the de-
bate on the Education Bill. The Ministry had coalesced
with the Conservatives in the enterprise of passing a clause
which was as wormwood and gall to hon. members below
the gangway. Mr. Fawcett was declaiming in a strain of
fervid eloquence against the spirit which, he said, had un-
accountably taken possession of the Liberal Ministry.
Mr. Lowe, in his customary trenchant style, had, earlier in

* " Men and Manner in Parliament," pp. 180, 181.


the debate, protested against the unyielding hostility of
the Irreconcilables, likening them to a herd of cattle
which, having given to them a broad pasture whereon to
browse, discovered in one corner a bed of nettles, and,
forgetting the sweet pasture to be found elsewhere, stood
bellowing their discontent around this little patch. 'The
right hon. gentleman has likened us to a herd of cattle,'
said Mr. Fawcett. ' Let me remind him and the Ministry,
of which he is a distinguished member, of the fate that befel
another herd into which evil spirits had entered, and which,
running violently down a steep place into the sea, — '
At this moment the House caught the bold allusion,
and broke into a roar of laughter, cheers, and cries of
' Divide ! ' Mr. Fawcett waited patiently till the storm ap-
peared to have subsided, and then speaking in exactly the
same tone, began again : ' Which, running violently down
a steep place — ' Once more the roar drowned the speak-
er's voice, and Mr. Fawcett stopped, beginning again at
exactly the same word when a lull in the storm seemed to
offer an opportunity, being once more overpowered, only
to start afresh when an opening presented itself. The con-
test raged for a quarter of an hour, but in the end Mr.
Fawcett triumphed, and continuing at the word he had
originally returned to, proceeded, 'Which, running vio-
lently down a steep place into the sea, perished in the
waters.' " *

Mr. Fawcett is declared to be, "for strength of charac-
ter, political integrity, inflexibility of purpose, and power
in debate," the " model independent member of the House

* " Men and Manner in Parliament," pp. 141-5.


of Cofnmons," yet, it is acknowledged, that having become
a power there, he has conducted himself with " rare mod-
eration and dignity." In 1873, he compelled the Glad-
stone Ministry, after some ungracious treatment, to accept
as their own, a bill he had introduced relative to Irish
University Education. His moderate course in that mo-
ment of triumph gave him a marked popularity in the
House, which he has retained and enlarged.

At a subsequent debate this was made manifest " in a
remarkable manner," when the Professor, having separated
himself from those who supported the policy of which Mr.
George Dixon, Member for Birmingham and President of
the " National Education League," is regarded as the Parlia-
mentary leader, declared for the Government measure.
Opinion ran high for and against the bill, and Mr. Forster's
policy was especially and severely condemned by the Non-
conformists' votes, headed by Mr. Miall, who declared that
the Liberal Ministry had " brought them through the Val-
ley of Humiliation," and who, with Mr. Dixon and his as-
sociates, almost regarded Professor Fawcett's action as a
betrayal of public faith. The issue involved was as to the
continuance of support, by the Government, of denomina-
tional schools — the radical opposition wanting to allow
only voluntary religious schools, and secular instruction
only in those of a public character.

It has been said of this event that occasions are rare
in Parliamentary history when a crowded House has
been so absolutely swayed by the eloquence of a private
member as it was on the night when Mr. Fawcett made
clear his intentions in this matter. Mr. Bright has fre-
quently had great oratorical triumphs, speaking from the


bench behind that at which the sightless Professor stood.
But the applause which Mr. Bright's eloquence was accus-
tomed to call forth came chiefly from one side of the
House, whereas Mr. Fawcett drew alternately and at will
enthusiastic cheers alike from the Conservative as from
the Liberal ranks. Mr. Gladstone himself was quite ex-
cited, leaning forward with hands clasped over his knees,
watching the words as they fell from the speaker's lips,
while Mr. Forster lost no time in declaring that " amid
the numerous very powerful speeches delivered by the
hon, member for Brighton, this assuredly was the most
moving." *

Of his manner of speech, a critic, not so partial as
Mr. Conway, says that the Professor " suffers much as a
speaker from a habit of pitching his magnificent voice at
too level a monotony of height and in ' mouthing ' his
words when he desires to be specially emphatic. His
speeches," he continues, " are rather professorial exercita-
tions than statesman-like orations." It is added, with a
dry air 'of witty patronage, that after having overcome the
Puritan in him, that " there are no bounds to the possible
heights he might reach in the state if his acceptance of
office were conceivable."

Mr. Conway believes that Professor Fawcett's " mind
has the instinct of leadership ; it is able to bring out every
thought in a circle of minds. He has also a rare humor,
enriched by imagination, and has a large repertoire of good
stories with which to enliven his altogether extraordinary
conversation. He must be regarded," continued his ad-

* " Men and Manner in Parliament," p. 147.


miring friend, " as a type of ' the coming Liberal ' as dis
tinguished from the democrat of that familiar description
which approaches demagogueism. All men have faith in
the fundamental honesty of the masses. The most rigid
Tory, walking in a lonely place after midnight, may feel
a qualm of apprehension if he discern a single individual
approaching ; but if there are a dozen he will feel safe.
He knows that security, so far as good intent is concerned,
is with the many. That feeling is the basis of democracy."
And it is this idea and feeling that Mr. Fawcett seeks to
embody in his political life. In some respects, says Mr.
Conway, he " is the most radical man in Parliament, yet
no man is less servile to the many, none more normally in
the minority."

" Henry Fawcett belongs to a county family of the
Midland Counties, of ancient descent and high character.
Born in 1835, he is now forty years of age, and his superb
physique promises as many more years of useful life.
Fortunately the accident by which he was deprived of
sight, did not occur until he had graduated at Cambridge,
which University he entered as a scholar of Trinity Hall.
His graduation, with the highest mathematical honors, oc-
cured in 1856. He then studied law and was admitted as
a bencher of the Middle Temple in 1862. But blindness
has necessarily prevented him from pursuing his profes-
sion. That misfortune was the result of an accidental
discharge of his father's gun, soon after the son's gradua-
tion, while both were out shooting. Part of the charge
entered the young man's face, putting out both eyes, but
leaving him otherwise undisfigured." Mr. Conway says :
" The father who had looked forward to a distinguished


career for his son, was almost inconsolable, and it was
for a time feared he would not survive the event I have
heard from Professor Fawcett's intimate friends at Cam-
bridge touching accounts of how the blind boy sat beside
the father, who felt the affliction more keenly than himself,
assuring him that the accident should make no difference
whatever in the career to which they both had looked for-
ward. ' The accident,' he would say, * did not happen
until I had received at the University the basis of my ed-
ucation, and fortunately we have the means to secure aid
from the eyes of others for practical needs. Rejoice with
me that my health is unimpaired, my purpose still strong,
and my spirit as cheerful as ever.' He has lived to make
good the hope he thus held out to his father."

Henry Fawcett turned his attention to the study of
Economic Science, and to literary pursuits in connection
therewith. As a writer on these topics, he ranks with
Thorold Rogers, and for ability and vigor stands but a
step below Prof. Cairns. As a teacher, his influence is
great and his success remarkable. He soon became a
Fellow of his College and then Professor of Political
Economy in the University, a position he still holds.
The Manual of Political Economy which he has published
has become the standard work of his school. Other vol-
umes on the Agricultural Laborer Question, Pauperism,
and kindred topics, prove his thorough mastery of the
massive materials, which go to make up what Thomas
Carlyle has designated as the "dismal science." At
Cambridge the Fawcetts are great favorites, and the Pro-
fessor's rooms are crowded when the duties of his position
and the adjournments of Parliament bring him the oppor-


tunity to pursue the congenial work of his Professorship.
His lecture-room is always crowded.

Though Professor Fawcett is classed among the " irre-
concilables," and has always assumed the position of an
" Independent Member," it must not be supposed_that his
Radicalism is necessarily of the aggressive, " root and
branch " order, or has in it any of the iconoclast spirit.
It is based on moral order and convictions ; does not seek
to pull down, but conserving the good, aims to re-create
his country without disorder or dangerous excitement. A
disciple of the strictest school of Economists, he does not
support all the measures of an ameliorative character which
are pressed on the British Parliament. Mr. Fawcett has
several times opposed such propositions, — the most no-
table case being that of the Factory Health Act of 1874, by
which the hours of labor for women and children were still
further restricted. On this subject and that of pauper-
ism, Mr. Fawcett (whose economic views on population,
etc., are largely tinged with Malthusian ideas) is not in
accord with the active labor agitators and their friends, in
and out of Parliament. Yet his frankness and honesty
have saved his popularity with the masses, though there is
a bitter hostility to the cold and theoretical way in which,
it is charged, he has dealt with this question. Mr. Con-
way, in the sketch from which so much has been quoted,
pithily states the sentimental side of the economic argu-
ment which the member for Hackney gave inside the
House, and his wife, Mrs. Fawcett, talked outside. "It
is not often," he says, " that one has to charge large
masses of the working classes with a deliberate scheme of
injustice or oppression. But I fear that under the terrible


struggle for existence in this country, the workingmen
have at length begun to show signs that their instincts
have become impaired. From them appears to have pro-
ceeded a demand for a measure which, under the pretence
of a desire to protect women and children from overwork
by restricting the hours per day in which they can labor,
can only result in rendering women unable to compete
with men even in the few employments now open to them,
and so crippling that sex still further in the struggle for life.
The excess in the numbers of women over men in Great
Britain is nearing a million."

It is, Mr. Conway writes, speaking in review of Professor
Fawcett's position, certain that the pressure in the market for
manual labor (women being denied access to the customary
professions and many lucrative employments) "has induced
the workingmen to take this mean way of handicapping wo-
men in the competition, disabling them from selling their
time on the same terms as man sells his."

The argument of Professor Fawcett against the measure
also rested on another ground than that quoted from Mr.
Conway's sketch. That was undoubtedly the argument of
his brilliant wife, who is one of the foremost leaders in the
women's suffrage agitation, and is also a capable writer on
Political Economy. In the House, the Member for Hack-
ney Urged that the measure would largely decrease both
production and wages.

" Manufacturers," he said, " showed an increasing ten-
dency to establish concerns on the continent, where they
were free from such restrictions as were imposed in this
country. In Switzerland and Germany legislative restric-
tions were confined to children, and our working men could


not too carefully remember that capital was year by year
emigrating to other lands.

" The Home Secretary had based this legislation on the
ground that women were not free agents. If the women of
Yorkshire were not free agents, how could it be said that
the women of Dorsetshire and Cambridgeshire were so ?
If women had to wade up to their middle in agricultural
work, could they be called free agents ? Let this kind of
legislation be carried out with regard to factories, and the
women of London must be included in it, and Parliament
must decide at what hour domestic servants should retire
to rest. The Home Secretary said women were forced to
work too long through the pressure of want, or of their em-
ployers. If they accepted the first alternative it resulted
that want was worse than work ; if they accepted the sec-
ond the conclusion was that employers were tyrannical. He
ventured to say that this legislation, when it was understood,
would be hurled back with contempt, and working men
would tell the house that it had no right to accuse them of
forcing their wives and daughters to work against their

The Trades Unions' Organs and their representatives and
friends in the House were strongly in opposition to the Pro-
fessor. Mr. Mundella, a large employer of female labor, de-
clared it would not derange production, reduce wages, or
lessen profits, while it was essential to the physical and moral
well-being of the population to protect those unable to pro-
tect themselves. Mr Joseph Owen, member for Newcastle,
Alderman Carter, member for Leeds, Mr. Samuel Morley,
who sits for Bristol, Messrs. Stanhope, Baxter, Tennant and
other large employers of labor, supported the bill. Mr.


Joseph Chamberlain recently headed a deputation to the
Home Secretary, Mr. Cross, on this subject and emphatically
represented the same views. Of course the members who
were elected as the representatives of working men, Messrs.
Macdonald and Burt, were strong in opposition to the
economic view urged by Mr. Fawcett, and quite bitter in re-
plying to the charges of selfish motives applied to their
clients — the Trades Unions. This debate indicates an im-
portant fact in the political policy and purposes by and for
which Mr. Fawcett is governed and acts. It partially
places him among the " administrative Nihilists," as Prof.
Huxley has described the philosophy of which Herbert
Spencer in theoretical polity, and " the Manchester School"
in practical politics, are the representatives.

In other matters Mr. Fawcett's position is in the van-
guard. He has supported, at considerable risk of popu-
larity among his present constituents, the opening on the
Sabbath of the public museums, picture galleries, &c, — a
subject greatly agitated in England. He is persistent and
consistent in advocating the redressing of political, econo-
mic and educational wrongs that bear hard on the agricul-
tural population — tenant farmers and laborers alike. His
thorough knowledge of law and history comes in good
stead, when bills for the enclosure of commons, or other
measures of land monopoly are on the docket. The exten-
sion of the suffrage to the counties meet his cordial sup-
port. This measure, a compulsory Tenant Rights act, and

Online LibraryRichard J. (Richard Josiah) Hinton...English radical leaders → online text (page 1 of 25)