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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 47.djvu/68

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‘The Sinking Fund’ and on ‘Sir Robert Peel's Financial Statement of 15 Feb. 1828,’ and on 1 March 1830 he was elected M.P. for Rye in the conservative interest. He was, however, unseated on petition. In the first parliament of William IV (1830), he was chosen one of the two members for Chippenham, and during the reform agitation wrote ‘The New Constitution,’ a pamphlet which was described by the ‘Quarterly Review’ (xlv. 289) as ‘one of the best both for reasoning and language that have appeared at this crisis.’ At the general election in April 1831 Pusey lost his seat for Chippenham, but returned to the house next July as member for Cashel. In the first reformed parliament he failed to secure the third seat given to the county of Berks, but was elected for that constituency in 1835, and retained his position through four parliaments until July 1852. In parliament Pusey won a position of influence. Sir Robert Peel and Mr. Gladstone were among his close friends. In 1843 he paid a visit to Scotland to study the Scottish poor-law system, and gained some credit by a pamphlet on the ‘Management of the Poor in Scotland,’ 1844. He appears to have thought that a similar inquiry as to the condition of the Irish people would be useful; and in 1845 he projected, with Mr. Gladstone, a riding tour through Ireland. Owing to family matters, Mr. Gladstone had to break off the engagement, thereby, as he said in a letter, dated 6 Dec. 1894, to Pusey's son Sidney, ‘postponing for a long time my acquiring a real knowledge of Ireland.’

Pusey took no prominent part in the discussions in parliament on the corn laws, and was absent from the two critical divisions on the second and third readings of Sir Robert Peel's bill of 1846. But he followed Peel in his change of opinion, and, though re-elected for Berkshire without opposition at the general election of 1847 as a liberal-conservative, he had to face a growing discontent among his constituents. In 1847 he tried to interest the House of Commons in tenant right, and during four sessions resolutely championed that cause. In 1843, 1844, and 1845 Lord Portman had introduced into the House of Lords bills to secure for an agricultural tenant compensation for unexhausted improvements; but they did not meet with much sympathy from the upper house. Pusey in 1847 submitted to the House of Commons a very modest permissive bill. It was attacked vehemently by Colonel Sibthorp and other members of his class, and was withdrawn. In 1848, on Mr. Newdegate's motion, a select committee was appointed to consider the whole subject. Pusey became chairman, and presented a valuable report. In 1849 and 1850 Pusey's bill passed the commons, but the House of Lords declined to accept it (Hansard, cxii. 855). After a lapse of twenty-five years the struggle was carried by other hands to a successful issue. The Agricultural Holdings Bill of 1875 embodied many of Pusey's views, and Disraeli, in moving the second reading, paid a warm tribute to Pusey's exertions, observing that ‘Mr. Pusey was the first person to introduce into this house the term “tenant right.”’

Before the election of 1852 Mr. Vansittart, a protectionist and ultra-protestant, came forward to oppose Pusey's re-election. Pusey's views on the corn laws, his vote in favour of the Maynooth College grant, and his relationship to the founder of Puseyism, a movement which was identified with ‘Romish practices,’ exposed him to vehement attack. ‘I hear,’ he writes, ‘that, among electioneering tricks, some call me a Puseyite. I am no more than Lord Shaftesbury is; but I will not consent to find fault with my brother in public.’ On the eve of the election, recognising the impossibility of success, he withdrew his candidature.

In 1838 Pusey took a prominent part in the formation of what became in 1840 the Royal Agricultural Society of England [see under Spenser, John Charles, Lord Althorp]. At the preliminary meeting held on 9 May 1838 he seconded the important resolution, moved by Earl Fitzwilliam, determining that annual meetings should be held successively in different parts of England and Wales. Pusey was a member of the original committee of management, and was chairman of the committee appointed to conduct a journal for ‘the diffusion of agricultural information.’ From the first the editorial control was placed exclusively in his hands, and to it he devoted unstintedly his time and his talents during the best years of his life. Pusey was already a ‘Quarterly Reviewer’ (see Smiles, Murrays, ii. 378), and the journal was modelled somewhat on the lines of that review. As early as 1844 it had made its mark (cf. Quarterly Review, lxxiii. 481). On 26 March 1840 the society received a charter of incorporation as the ‘Royal Agricultural Society of England,’ and at the next general meeting Pusey was nominated president by Earl Spencer. He assumed office on 15 July 1840, and retired on 21–23 July 1841. In 1853 he was again elected president, but was unable to attend the meeting at Lincoln in 1854 on account of the illness of his wife.

The six or seven years following 1838 were the most prosperous of Pusey's career. He