Speech of the Rev. T. Spencer, of Bath, delivered at the meeting of the Anti-Corn-Law League, at Covent-Garden theatre, London, on June 19, 1844, to an audience of, at least six thousand

Speech of the Rev. T. Spencer, of Bath, delivered at the meeting of the Anti-Corn-Law League, at Covent-Garden theatre, London, on June 19, 1844, to an audience of, at least six thousand  (1844) 
by Thomas Spencer


SPEECH


OF THE


REV. T. SPENCER, OF BATH,


DELIVERED AT THE MEETING OF THE


ANTI-CORN-LAW LEAGUE,


AT COVENT-GARDEN THEATRE, LONDON,


ON JUNE 19, 1844,


TO AN AUDIENCE OF, AT LEAST, SIX THOUSAND.




Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have listened, in common with yourselves, with great interest to the address of Mr. Cobden, and I am glad to find that mere parties are getting into disrepute in this country; that the names of "Whig" and "Tory" are almost about to disappear; and I am in hopes—and have long been entertaining the hope—that a new party will rise out of the ruins of both; to be called "the justice party" (great applause)—a party which shall have no other rule but that of justice, not justice to one, but justice to all (loud cheers)—not of favour to the rich, the poor, or to the middle classes only, but holding the balance evenly, and doing at all times, and under all circumstances, the thing that is right. (Cheers.) I am in hopes, too, that the newspapers will take a change at the same time. Instead of their being calculated only, and written on purpose, to deceive the public, or to gain popularity—instead of endless articles on pauperism and the poor-laws—instead of perpetual appeals merely to the passions of men—instead of these old Whig and Tory papers, I trust that we shall have a "truth paper"—a real record of passing events, giving no colouring to, but recording circumstances, and chronicling them just as they are (cheers), so that the people shall really be able to believe what they read, which at present they cannot do, being obliged, in order to get at truth, to read both sides and then to judge between them. (Cheers.)

I ought to feel a great deal of diffidence in my own opinion as a clergyman of the Church of England, when I know that so great a majority of my own order entertain different views from myself upon political subjects—when I see in the late election for South Lancashire that only six or seven clergymen polled for the Free-Trade candidate and sixty or seventy for the other—that is, that nine out of ten entertained opinions differing from my own. However, it is possible for a minority to be right. (Hear.) Sometimes it has happened in the world that truth has been held even by very few, and it is possible for a man even to stand alone—at all events no man should be prevented thinking for himself by this circumstance. The question is, what is right and true, and not "how many are there of your opinion." (Cheers) I am sorry to be of the opinion of Bishop Butler in this respect, "that the greater part of men do not think for themselves." (Cheers.) I do not wish to say anything disrespectful of my fellow- creatures, but I am convinced that he is right: that men are indolent in their minds, whatever they may be in their bodies—they do not like thinking, studying, and labouring mentally; therefore, even when they read, it is, as he says, "too frequently only an act of idleness." We may see them devouring a novel—there is no study in that; or reading a newspaper—there is no mental labour, no inquiry, no investigation, no balancing of the truth. But this stuffing, as it were, of the mind, and this lading of the memory, go on till by-and-by there is a fit of indigestion the memory becomes weakened and destroyed—and nothing, I would remind you, weakens the memory so much as reading an immense mass of matter without the exercise of great consideration, and by much digestion causing it to become part and parcel of the mind itself. I ascribe one difficulty in the way of the League to this want of thought on the part of the people. The League has to do the thinking part for them, just as some people like to have all their work done for them: there are some who commit their health to the doctor, their estates to their agents, all their difficulties to the lawyer, and their souls to the priests. (Great cheering and laughter.) They do not read the scripture aright, for it says, "Examine yourselves;" whereas they say, "Do you come and examine for me if all be right." (Laughter.) The scripture says, "Prove your ownselves"—"Prove all things—hold fast that which is good"—"Know ye not your ownselves?"—"Why do ye not your ownselves judge what is right?" This is the scripture rule; but men are always shifting their responsibility upon other men, and doing everything by proxy. (Cheers and laughter.) Now, as soon as ever the people of this country will do their thinking for themselves—whenever they will come and realize justice for themselves—and, above all, when they come to know for themselves what true religion is,—that it is not mere cant—not the putting on long faces, the saying of prayers, and singing of psalms, but the putting of justice and rectitude into all their words and actions,—when this time, I say, shall come, then will the League go through the country and make converts so fast that a few weeks will see as much success as as many years have witnessed in times past. (Great applause) There is another reason why this cause has not gone on faster than it has done, and that if, that even amongst those who do think a little, and who have made up their minds that Free Trade is right,—and thinking is sure to bring men to this conclusion I mean, unbiassed and disinterested thought,—they commit the great fault of leaving the acting to other people They say, "Nevermind, it is not necessary for me to do much—there is Mr. Cobden (great applause)—there is Mr. Cobden, he will do it all (cheers); there is my representative in the House of Commons, he is a good man, he will speak for me there; and there are people signing petitions and holding meetings; and there are paid agents, and men going about without being paid at all; and there is the League, and the newspapers and tracts of various kinds, all working well: therefore 1 need not spend my time, my money, and my labour, to make enemies, and neglect my own business for this cause; I may very safely leave it in the hands of others." (Applause.) This has been the ruin of many a great cause (Cries of "Hear,") But the really great man is the man who says to himself, "I must act as if I were the only man in this cause (cheers); I will take such steps as are necessary, if all others neglect their duty; and, though I believe in the superintendence of Providence, I will work as though Providence would help no man except he be doing the very best himself," (Hear, hear.)

As to names, it is not enough to bring them forward either for or against me. There have been those who have found fault with others for relying upon great names, but who have fallen into the very same error themselves—men who charge others with relying on a Pope, and yet stick up another themselves: who have got a Luther, a Calvin, a John Knox, or a Wesley, upon whom they pin their faith. (Cheers.} The proper plan is to throw aside those great names, and not to be frightened even if we are told that we have a Clarkson against us. What matters that, if we have truth Upon our side? So with respect to the influence of the majority of the clergy of England upon my own opinions: though I pay very great respect and deference to such an authority and to such a majority, yet there is one thing in which I think I have the advantage over them, and which ought to bind them as it does me—that is, the doctrine not only of the scriptures which they preach, but of the prayer-book to which they have subscribed. (Hear.) I am not now going to allude to parts of that prayer-book, to which I have referred at other times and in other places—namely, the prayers and thanksgiving for cheapness and plenty; but I would allude to another portion of the prayer-book, viz., as to the right mode of action when a nation is in distress. At this particular time, for instance, many of the clergy are reading the prayer for rain, because we have had three months of dry weather. In my own parish, before I left home yesterday, I was told that one farmer had suffered a loss of 600 in consequence of the exceeding dry weather. In that prayer for rain, I perceive, that the thing which the clergy are taught to desire is, "that we may receive the fruits of the earth to our comfort and to God's honour;" and the meaning of receiving the fruits of the earth to our comfort and to God's honour is explained in those other prayers to mean "cheapness and plenty." I consider, therefore, that to be the standard by which clergymen are to be guided in using these prayers of the church. (Cheers) Now, I have no faith in prayer except it is united with action. The man who says, "Give us this day our daily bread," and does not go to work for it, must be a person of very small sense indeed. (Loud cheers.) I believe there is not an instance in the whole Bible of God's doing anything for man that man could do for himself; and this is a truth which I particularly wish to impress upon the minds of all who respect that book. When we find, for instance, our Lord raising the dead, I do not find that He took away the stone, because that was a thing that man could do: therefore, He says, " Take ye away the stone;" and when the dead was raised (which He alone could do), I do not find that He did any more; but He said, "Loose him, and let him go,"—that being a thing that could be done without His aid. (Cheers.) So, when He fed the multitude, He did not divide them into companies and place them upon the grass—that He told His disciples to do, for they could do it; but the multiplying of the bread was His own business, that He alone could do. When that was done, however, He said, "Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost,"—that being what they could do. So we find it in every case in the scriptures, that when anything is beyond our own power we have a right to ask the Divine assistance; but when it is within our power we have no right to expect the assistance of Providence any farther than we use our own exertions. (Cheers.) I would, then, appeal to the clergy, and Sir Robert Peel as a churchman, as to whether the prayer-book does not lay this down as a foundation—this principle of cheapness and plenty. That is the thing to be prayed for—that is the thing to be sought after; and I would also appeal to Sir Robert Peel from his own statement, for he himself has confessed as much, the the proper rule or government to recognise, and the proper law for the people, is to "buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest." This, he says, is abstract truth—the basis on which things are founded; and this, therefore, ought to have been the original basis of our commercial laws. But he justifies himself for not carrying it into effect from the circumstances in which he finds himself in the present day. Now, every Sunday I am bound by my office to offer up a prayer for the Parliament of which he is so conspicuous a member (laughter); and part of that prayer is to this effect:—"That all things may be so ordered and settled by their endeavours upon the best and surest foundation" (which he acknowledges to be cheapness and plenty—which he confesses to be Free Trade—the best and surest foundation). We pray every Sabbath that these "may be so ordered and settled by their endeavours on the best and surest foundation, that peace and happiness, truth and justice, religion and piety, may be established among us for all generations." (Hear.) Now, at present we have anything but peace and happiness among us we have anything but prosperity in our land;—and why does not Sir Robert Peel, when he hears this prayer, know that he himself is acting contrary to the spirit of the prayer-book, so long as he declines going to the very foundation which is here described as the best foundation—cheapness and plenty—by allowing men to buy wherever they can to their own best advantage, and allowing them to sell wherever they can to their own best advantage? (Loud cheers)

I hold Free Trade to be one of the rights of man (loud cries of "Hear") that nothing can take from him; I hold it to be a right to be exercised at all times, under all circumstances, and with all nations, and that there can be no case in which Free Trade ought to be infringed upon. It is the only true foundation. God has caused the earth to be differently divided, some climates being warmer, some colder, some possessing iron, some possessing corn, some fruits; but all these things diversified, so that when there is not " corn in Canaan, there is in Egypt;" and it was His intention that man should have the benefit of that which was produced in every part of the earth: it is for His honour and our comfort that it should be so—and the Christian religion, which is declared to be "Glory to God in the highest; peace on earth, and good- will towards men," can never be fully carried out until the ministers of that religion come forward and advocate this great and good principle. (Great cheering.) I have before me the testimony of a very great man in his day—a man, indeed, who has not been a very long time dead—not a clergyman of my own church, but Robert Hall, the Baptist minister. (Hear, hear.) He says, "If there is any class of persons whose opinion on these questions are entitled to deference and respect, they are, undoubtedly, political economists men who have made the sources of national wealth the principal subject of their inquiry; and where shall we fir d one, from Adam Smith to the present time, who has not reprobated the^interference of the legislature with the price of corn. To say nothing of the reasoning of that great philosopher, which is unanswerable, common sense will teach us that laws to raise the price of such a commodity are unjust and oppressive upon the whole community for the exclusive benefit of a part." (Loud cheers.)

Now I may be told that the Free Trade, which I have advocated can hardly be carried out in the case where the countries we trade with grow their produce by slave -labour; and, as I have taken some conspicuous part in this matter, I may be allowed now, after all that has been said in the country, to give my present opinions on this point. (Hear, hear.) I have no idea of altering a rule after it has been once established. If a man, in coming to the Bible, for instance, once makes up his mind, from external and internal evidence, that its pages are genuine and authentic, then he is not to cavil at any particular word afterwards, but recollect the conclusion he had previously come to. (Hear, hear.) Every science takes for granted certain axioms and definitions. Euclid begins with his definitions and postulates. If you grant these you must not deviate from them; in every proposition afterwards you must take them for granted, and as settled. So Sir Isaac Newton, when he commenced his "Principia," begins with his definitions, his axioms, and postulates; and, if we go so far with him, we must not afterwards quarrel with him on these points. So in this country, supposing we did not know a place where slavery existed—suppose we did not yet know America—suppose we did not yet know the Brazils and its inhabitants—and suppose we had come to the conclusion that Free Trade was the right of man, that it was only just—that it was only right that he should be allowed to enjoy that self supporting and self-adjusting system which would enable every man to do his best in the markets of the world, you are not afterwards to alter it from circumstances either here or there—you cannot say, "You shall not trade with Russia," because the Emperor has not pleased us with his conduct towards the Poles; you shall not trade with another country because they are Mahometans, or because they are idolators, and rob God of the honour due to him. But am I to be answerable for all these things? My question is this—"Have you agreed previously with me that Free Trade is right?" If you have, manfully adhere to what you have approved, and keep to that proposition. (Cheers.) Do not be always seeking to examine the foundations. Then, with respect to this slave produce—I have been a member of the Anti- slavery Society for many years past, and I have heard them argue that free labour will beat slave labour if you will only let it be tried. Yet here are the same persons contending against the trial being permitted. Why, then, I say they have no faith in their own principles. (Cheers.) I know, that, under the old poor-law, when paupers were to be had in a parish at 5s. a week, and free labourers for 9s., the farmers have said they would rather pay 9s. for independendent labour than 5s. for pauper labour. (Hear, hear.) The fact is, that the one man works with a feeling of independence: he knows that he is working for himself; probably he works by the piece; and he knows at the same time that he can lay by for sickness or old age, and is in a better condition, and will do ten times the amount of work, that a pauper or slave will do; whilst the man who works without such a stimulus has no feeling of honourable emulation about him, and will not do so much justice to his employer. Then these persons say that slaves are stolen, and that therefore slave produce is stolen goods. I cannot quite see the inference here attempted to be drawn. It does not follow that the earth on which a man treads is . stolen earth because the man himself is stolen; and yet these persons believe it. (Hear.) Now, suppose that it were so—I am sorry to say that in that case they convict themselves of sin, and of being the greatest criminals in the country. That is not a sin in me, but it is in them. I do not hold it to be stolen produce; and, therefore, as whatever is not of faith is sin, this is of faith in me, and is no sin. If a man knows a thing to be good and does it not, he sins; if a man, believing it to be sinful to use, yet uses, slave-grown cotton, slave-grown tobacco, or slave-produced gold, copper, and silver, why, he condemns himself. (Cheers.) But then the answer is, "Two blacks cannot make one white; suppose we are condemned so far, surely we are better than you, who use slave-grown sugar, and cotton, and other things." No: I say, so far from being better, you are much worse. The scripture says, "He that offendeth in one point is guilty of all/' You allow that you offend in one point; we do not allow that we offend at all; you are therefore guilty of all. You are guilty of the slave-grown sugar which you do not touch; you are guilty of using slave-grown produce, because you wilfully use slave-grown cotton, wilfully smoke slave-grown tobacco, and wilfully take up your nose slave-grown snuff. (Great cheers.) I have seen men who have refused even slave-grown cotton, and yet I have known those very men with slave-produced gold in their pockets. (Laughter.) I have said to them, "Show me a penny or a sovereign; and they have replied, "Well but we cannot do without this—we could not live." But my answer is, "It is not necessary for you to live if you set up so high a standard. There have been martyrs at the stake who have not accepted their lives even though by signing their names to a recantation they might have saved them." Men there are, however, who have said, "It is a sin against God to touch anything in the shape of slave-grown produce," and yet they have had slave-produced gold in their pockets. (Cheers.) I am convinced that the master we serve, or the Creator who made us, never expects such slavery from us as always to be examining everything we touch. This book—this paper (referring to the prayer-book in his hand)—is made of slave-grown cotton. He never can expect from us that we should be trembling at every step, nor charge us with sinning in using slave-grown produce. I am, therefore, decidedly of opinion that Government is in error in allowing this idea to weigh with them as an argument for a moment; I am convinced that every one of them in their own minds knows better, but that they do not wish to offend the feelings of people who think otherwise. I cannot, however, but regret that there is such a feeling; it is the misfortune of this country that such a feeling exists in the minds of many good men; but whenever charity and pity occupy the mind in the place of justice, all kinds of blunders are sure to be the result. (Cheers.) All I can say is, that the Bible does not sanction the putting of charity for justice. It says: "Do justly," and then "love mercy." Let everything be based on right principles, let everything be honest, let everything be fair, let everything be equitable, pay your dues, and do what is right, and then, if you have the opportunity and the means, show your generosity. But even then the charity of the Bible is not modern charity not charity at the expense of the state—or of the poor-rates—not charity at the expense of the church-rates—not the charity which says, "Be ye warmed and be ye clothed," and then adds, "go to the parish for it;" but it is the charity which comes out of a man's own pocket. (Cheers.) I will tell you a case of true charity which came to my knowledge yesterday. An excellent gentleman whom I know was travelling with me from Bristol (he may be here—if so I hope he will forgive me for mentioning the circumstance): he stated that thirty years ago a gentleman was travelling inside the coach on a terribly stormy winter night. Outside the coach was a soldier's wife with her child, enduring the misery of the pelting rain and the chilling and boisterous wind. This gentleman, though the journey was long, when he heard the circumstances of the case, resigned his place within the coach, and changed seats with the poor soldier's wife and child, whom he placed in the comfortable interior, whilst he himself for hours bore all the pelting of the pitiless storm. (Cheers.) That gentleman was a noble Free-Trader, whose name is Radnor. (Immense cheering, the audience rising en masse.) I said to the gentleman who informed me of this, "I wonder if Lord Radnor would remember that if he were told of it."—"Oh," he said, "I know scores of similar occurrences, but whenever I have told him of them lately, he said he had quite forgotten them"—another mark of a truly noble, generous mind! (Great cheers.)

Mow, the principle which I wish to lay before you is this—that if there be distress in the country you should not take the modern system of patching, mending, and tinkering, but should go to the fountain head of the mischief and the misery, and try to remove the cause of that misery. (Cheers.) It is better to spend £5 in removing the cause of misery, destitution, and vice, than to spend £500 in striving to keep people comfortable in their wretchedness. (Cheers.) Now, the plan to which I allude is a scriptural plan: the other is too much the fashion in the present day. I will just state to you a few ideas which the business of last Sunday led me to entertain; and if I go wrong it is the Church which sets me to do this work. (A laugh.) In the Psalms of the afternoon. service I read about misery and distress:—"How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. "Here, then, it appears that our conduct to the afflicted and needy is to obtain justice for them. It is not the mere giving them charity that is the doing justice to the afflicted and needy. Then the next verse is, "Deliver the poor and needy; rid them, out of the hands of the wicked." This is what the Free-trade movement is intended to do. (Loud cheers.) Then I find another recommendation, which we who live in an age in which religion is very much in fashion, when there are so many ladies and gentlemen who think themselves more religious than others, who almost feel themselves defiled if they meddle with any movement, or interfere in the affairs of the world, or come within the influence of ordinary matters—still I find that religion which is recommended to us to be this—"Is it such a fast that I have chosen? A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I have chosen?" Let us know the religion that God hath chosen:—"To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke. Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh." It is, then, in breaking these yokes, and undoing the heavy burdens, that true religion consists. I have also found a description in another part of the present state of affairs quite to a nicety. The prophet might almost have lived in England when the people's property was taken from them, not by an open tax which they could understand, not by an income-tax which they could estimate, but indirectly by a tax upon the necessaries of life, which they pay when buying their tea and sugar, giving 7d. instead of 3d, paying a tax to monopoly at the very time when they are paying also for bread. It is in these days when the people are paying taxes on whatever they eat, on whatever they drink, and on whatever they are clothed in—it is to this that the description which I am about to read particularly applies. At a time when a great part of the people are poor, and many men do not know how to keep their heads above water—whilst a few are getting enormously rich, because they do not pay their fair share of the burdens of the state—to such persons the description applies. This is the description:—" Now, therefore, thus saith the Lord of Hosts, Consider your ways; ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye have drunk; but ye are not filled with drink; ye are clothed, but ye are not warm; and he that earneth wages earneth them to put them into a bag with holes." This is exactly the case in the present day. (Cheers.) The Chancellor of the Exchequer has made so many holes in the bags in which the people's wages are put, that a man has no means of keeping his money. (Cheers and laughter.) Now, after this description of the state of England at this very time, the advice is again repeated, which I will repeat again to you:—"Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, Consider your ways." (Cheers.)

It is because the people do not think—because they do not consider—that such a state of things exists. I am of opinion that a wise and understanding people cannot be badly governed. (Hear.) There can be no tyranny where there are free souls and free spirits. (Cheers.) There cannot be bad laws over a wise people, because you cannot bribe a virtuous man, nor make drunk at an election a sober man (cheers), nor can you intimidate a noble-minded man; and, therefore, I say it is partly the fault of the people that the laws are such, and the taxes as heavy as they are. Therefore, the reform must be with the people. (Loud cheers.) There must be a change, and a new understanding must result from enlightening them more; there must be a greater generosity of heart exhibited by every man whilst seeking wisely his own interest, at the same time not injuring the interest of any other man. (Cheers.) There is only one objection to this system not being adopted in this country, and that I will now touch upon.

I am aware that there is a treat in reserve for this audience, and therefore I will not trespass much longer on your time. (Cheers, and cries of "Go on.") Whereever I go, and have talked with farmers and with persons who have stumbled on the subject of the Corn-laws, I find one of the greatest difficulties to be on the subject of the National Debt. "It might be," they say, "very fair if all countries were alike and all equally taxed; but it is impossible for the farmer, with this national debt upon his land, to compete with countries that have no national debt." Now, I say, in the first place, that it is rather a hard thing in the landed interest, for the sake of their wars to defend their own estates, to incur this national debt, and then to use it as an argument against the people to oppress them still more. (Cheers.) It is, however, no argument at all in favour of protection, but rather, in my opinion, an argument upon the other side. Suppose you take two men keeping shops—one in trade with a mortgage on his property, and the other free from any such encumbrance. The man who had the mortgage could not go to the corporation and say, "You must allow me the privilege of monopoly and give me greater prices, because I am not so unencumbered as the other man/' No; he would not be allowed to do so. But what he ought to do would be to try to undersell, or rather to oversell, his competitor, by obtaining more custom, and so pay off his mortgage and clear his estate. Some towns in England have, by means of their corporations, got into debt; but is a town with a heavy debt to say, "You must protect us and allow us privileges not possessed by other towns, because we have ft sort of little pocket national debt." You would say, "No; be more industrious in your business, so shall you be able to pay off your debt and the burdens which oppress you," So must it be in the wide field and market of the world. (Cheers.) If England have difficulties, other nations will not regard them; and if our goods meet with others of the same quality in the neutral market, the cheapest must and will be taken. As other nations will not, then, regard our difficulties, we must depend for prosperity upon our own wisdom and our endeavours to extend our trade (which will be the result of Free Trade), in order that we may ultimately rid ourselves of the national debt. (Cheers.) I have no doubt, if Free Trade were given, that the national debt would be felt as but a very light burden, and that ere long the people would be so wise as to pay it off, and to take care that the state should never incur another. (Cheers and laughter.) With respect to the farmer complaining of this debt, he seems to look at it in a one-sided manner, forgetting that the manufacturer and the shopkeeper are labouring under it also. (Cheers.) It is not the landowner and the farmer who have to pay this national debt, but each bears his portion. I say, then, that the argument of the national debt is in reality an argument in favour of Free Trade. (Cheers.)

I do hope that the longer the subject is discussed the more it will be believed to be a shameful thing of any man to stand up in Parliament to advocate local or selfish interests, instead of having regard to the advantage of the public at large. (Applause.) I hope they will know that they stand there to represent the public, and not the interests of their own pocket—that they stand there to consult the good of a nation, and not their own individual gain. (Cheers.) I hope the time is coming when no man will attempt to blind the eyes of his more ignorant neighbour, and endeavour to persuade him that it is well for him that food should be dear, and the necessaries of life scarce, when common sense tells him it is desirable that food should be low, plentiful, and cheap. (Cheers.) I hope the time is coming when men shall be ashamed thus to deceive each other; and yet, I am sorry to say, that in the neighbourhood in which t live these attempts are going on on a large scale—even in the villages—not, I need hardly say, by such gentlemen and agents as are employed by the League, but by quite other means. (Cheers.) A petition is brought into a small village by the butler or head servant of the great house, and is taken by him—as I know to be a fact—not only to those who are in favour of the Corn Laws, but to their opponents, calling upon them to sign it. Some of them do as they are directed, and they sign it, as they afterwards confess, to their shame and sorrow. Then with others there is, perhaps, a reasoning with them for a quarter of an hour, base appeals to self-interest are resorted to, and yet, as I know, in some cases unsuccessfully, though the consequence might have been the loss of bread. A worthy tradesman in the village, who was dependant for his business on a certain party, came to me and said, "Sir, I hope you do not think I signed that petition in favour of the Corn Laws." "Well," I said, "I am glad to hear that you did not; and, knowing all the circumstances, I was anxious to hear how you acquitted yourself. I rejoice that you were able to maintain your standing." The man behaved nobly; but it was a shameful thing on the part of wealth and power to lead the man into this temptation. (Loud cheers.) The only system which, I trust, we shall ever advocate will be, first of all to "consider our own ways"—to seek to find out the truth, and then to act our own part;—to endeavour to persuade others, to endeavour to enlighten others, but never to hurt them, never to displease them, never to intimidate them, never to bribe them, but to love and adhere to the truth in all things, in the confidence that we shall ultimately prevail; and knowing that, whether we gain our cause soon or late, we are, at all events, enlisted upon the right side, and that we have sought to conquer by the right means. (Great and general applause.)


This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.