Memoir and Letters of Francis W. Newman
Part 6 out of 7
forced, by man-made laws, to wrap up your talent in the napkin of legal
red-tapeism, when everything within you, perhaps, urges you to turn it to
Let us look for one moment at some of the legal disabilities of women to-
day. Perhaps some of us are hardly aware to what an almost incredible
distance they reach.
Mr. Henry Schloesser, barrister-at-law of the Inner Temple, [Footnote: In
his pamphlet published by the Women's Social and Political Union.] very
explicitly explains how they affect women. "At Common Law the father is
entitled against the mother to the custody of the children, and this right
he could only forfeit by gross misconduct; so also he was entitled to
prescribe their mode of education.... He remains _prima facie_ the
guardian of his children, _to the exclusion of the mother_" [the italics
are my own]. "Alone of the learned professions, the medical is open to
women...." (She constantly proves her aptitude to take the same honours as
man as regards the others, but he still growls over his share and keeps
_her_ out.) "A husband is not bound at Common Law to cohabit with or
maintain his wife."
These facts show luridly against the sky of woman's world, but perhaps few
men know what purgatorial fires they light in many a woman's heart to-day.
They show that man's injustice to her does not only concern her in public
life, but even in the home life (to which he would fain limit her
energies); she has practically no legal status at all. She has not even a
right to her own children in the eye of the law. Quite recently a judge
decided that "a woman is not a parent in the eye of the law," and
therefore powerless in things relating to her children. She is excluded
from the guardianship of them. Yet so curiously irrational is this same
English law that, should any woman wronged by a man become mother to an
illegitimate child, upon her falls the whole onus of its maintenance until
it is sixteen years old. The man gets off scot-free; for the world which
condones an offence (which is shared by both) in the case of the man,
condemns it in the _woman_.
Thus, as Mr. Thomas Johnston [Footnote: _The Case for Woman's Suffrage_,
by Thomas Johnston. Published by the Women's Social and Political Union.]
very clearly puts it: "Where there is any stigma or blame, the woman bears
it alone.... Under the law of England to-day a man can secure divorce by
simply proving the unfaithfulness of his wife. But the wife, in order to
obtain a divorce from her husband for the same unfaithfulness, must, in
addition, prove cruelty or desertion." This in itself is very one-sided
law, and certainly indefensible.
Francis Newman describes this law in no measured terms. He declares in his
article on "Marriage Laws" (1867) that what undeniably needs reform in our
country's government is "the extravagant power given by our law to a
husband.... The exclusive right attributed to him over the children is
unjust and pernicious. His rights over his wife's person [Footnote:
According to English law, as evidenced in a recent case, the wife is _not_
"a person" at all; presumably, therefore, she is simply his chattel!] are
extreme and monstrous.... We need a single short, sweeping enactment that,
_notwithstanding anything to the contrary in past statutes, no woman
henceforth shall by marriage change her legal status or lose any part of
her rights over property_....
* * * * *
"We implore all true and genuine Conservatives not to delay and use half-
measures, but to do justice to the sex in good time. He who tries to
uphold injustice is the true and efficient revolutionist, while he thinks
he is Conservative."
He goes on to touch thus on what is perhaps the most cruel injustice of
all--that the law permits a man to deprive his wife of the children, who,
before God, are as equally hers as his:--
"Not only with regard to _property_, also in regard to _children_, the law
is unjust to women. The mother has to undergo much in bringing a child to
maturity--the agony of childbirth... the countless cares of tending and
watching by night and day. The child becomes the darling of her heart, the
image of her dreams, the great centre of her thoughts and hopes; and after
all her toils, the law permits a husband to take the child permanently out
of her sight, and (if he choose) to put it under the charge of an enemy
... who will fill its mind with falsehoods and teach it to hate and
despise its mother. Such things are not possibilities merely and dreams;
they are stern realities, and the law gives her no redress."
When one thinks of all that these words mean, one is face to face with the
almost unthinkable fact that the case of the woman in England is unjust
beyond description, and for this reason, that, as Newman says, "Men, who
alone make the laws, make them with but little account of woman." At home
with her children she is defenceless. She has no power over them, and her
husband is not bound to "maintain" her, notwithstanding the sentence,
which English law has made absolutely meaningless, of his marriage vow to
her: "With all my worldly goods I thee endow."
In the world, if she have no husband or be unmarried, she is not a
"person" in a legal sense; and during election time her house is
described, in canvassing for votes, as having "no occupier"! In the world,
too, she is unable to obtain a fair wage for her work. She may do the work
as well as man, but nevertheless, in most cases, her pay is less. Mr.
Johnston tells us that the average male worker's wage has been calculated
to be about 18s., but the average woman worker's wage is only about 7s.
And when women find out these many injustices suffered at home and in the
world by their sex, as Miss Christabel Pankhurst says, they are absolutely
unable to right these wrongs, for "women have no political power."
Here is the pivot round which the wrongs of women revolve--her lack of
legal status, her voicelessness as regards the laws of her country, the
country which is so openly irrational as to count her a "person" when it
wants to get a tax out of her, but refuses to do so at any other time when
she has something to ask of it in return!
Once the parliamentary vote is given to women, the same results would
follow in England as have followed elsewhere. Wages and hours of labour
are made just for women, as in many respects they have been now made for
men. The laws of divorce are the same. Mothers are made joint guardians of
their children with their fathers. The age of protection for girls is
raised to 18. [Footnote: At the present moment, by the English law, a girl
can contract a valid marriage at twelve years of age; a boy at fourteen.
(See _Legal Status of Women_, by H. H. Schloesser.)] In New South Wales,
after the women were given the vote, Dr. Mackellar brought in a bill to
deal with the protection of illegitimate children, which has answered
admirably; while in New Zealand and Australia the Wages Board, which the
women's vote helped to pass, has raised in both countries the wages of
women from 5s. to l6s. per week for the same amount of work done. And in
other respects it has abolished sweating--that crucial question of crucial
questions in England to-day.
There is another point, too, amongst many others, in which the vote helped
the national life in Australia in the giving of old age pensions. Perhaps
had women the vote here in England, the shameful system in which old men
and women are separated in the last years of their life, as the workhouses
ordain, would be altered. And this is a question which demands immediate
attention--_immediate_ attention; for more than L26,000,000 are paid by
taxpayers each year to be spent in great part on our wretched system of
Francis Newman was strongly against poor laws administered as they are in
England to-day, as, indeed, is every thoughtful man. He was also strongly
of opinion that there should be women on juries in some cases. And indeed
it is a fact that women magistrates, as well as women jurors, are most
certainly a _sine qua non_ in those cases where, at the present moment,
owing to juries being composed of men only, common justice for the
unrepresented Englishwoman in relation with the other sex is not, in a
great proportion of cases, rendered her. But even were women made eligible
for these offices, it would be no new thing, for in Mary Tudor's reign
there were two women appointed justices of the peace; and, of course,
always there has been a provision in law for "a jury of matrons" in
Indeed, when one goes far enough back in research into most questions, the
invariable lesson, is taught us, which we are always so reluctant, in our
cocksureness of the "antiquity" of our present-day conditions of life, to
learn, and we find that our arrangements very often are _not_ "as it was
in the beginning," but only mushroom growths of a decade or two. As Mrs.
Wolstenholme Elmy very justly says in her recent pamphlet on "Woman's
Franchise," women possessed voting rights from time immemorial, and the
year 1832 was the year when they were dispossessed of many ancient rights
by the Reform Act passed in that year.
As regards other disabilities of women, Francis Newman wrote very fully
and very strongly upon them, and it is impossible to leave them
unmentioned here. In 1869 he wrote: "There is one important matter which
young men need specially to be taught, viz. that at no time of life is any
man ... exempt from the essential duty of curbing animal impulses....
Nothing so paralyzes his force of Will as to be told that some men have
from God the gift of continence, and _others have it not_. This doctrine
is disastrously prominent in the Anglican marriage service, and is
borrowed from St. Paul. But that great and deep-hearted apostle was
unmarried and without personal experience. He writes, not as one revealing
supernatural communications, _but as imparting his best wisdom_.... A
general and just inference is, that a firm self-restraint is necessary and
salutary for every man."
It is impossible to write more strongly and clearly of the wickedness of
women's ancestral personal rights being swept away than does Newman in
articles published in the fourth volume of his _Miscellanies_. He does not
disguise the shameful state of the law as it affects woman to-day, and as
it is carried out by Government--that law which makes wrongdoing so easy
and unpunishable for man, and so hard and unjust to woman. The
unjustifiableness of certain laws was shown up with no uncertain pen by
him. He was himself convinced of their iniquity; and once convinced, he
stood forward as a modern John the Baptist, spared no one, and
passionately accused his countrymen of the injustice, immorality, and
cruelty of their making one law for men and another for women. He
inveighed against the world's point of view of this subject: and this not
once, nor twice, but constantly; and urged with all his might that these
wrongs to his countrywomen should be righted. Nevertheless his articles,
many of them, are forgotten. The dust of neglect is lying thick upon them
on many an unused shelf to-day. His voice has long been silent; and no
doubt it has been said of him (as it was by a Church dignitary of Father
Dolling at his death): "We shan't be worried any more by _him_ now about
the righting of social abuses." Laws against which Newman declaimed are
not altered yet, and we are a long way from those far-reaching reforms he
advocated. But the words he wrote are not dead. They are in our midst to-
day, and they stir depths to-day in the hearts of his countrymen in
suggestions towards social reformation; towards the righting of wrongs
just as glaring to-day as they were a century ago. Questions which can
never be put superficially aside, by men who, like Newman, cannot endure
to leave a social wrong unredressed, if they can by any searching find the
FRANCIS NEWMAN AND HIS RELIGION
More than one person has said to me in connection with this memoir: "If
the whole of Frank Newman's heterodox religious opinions be not given, the
book will lose half its point."
To my mind there are quite two, if not more, sides to this question. My
strongest argument, however, in favour of only dealing briefly with them
is this: It is quite true that Agnosticism more or less held its sway over
him during the years between 1834 and 1879. I am quite aware of how
tremendous a slice that is of a man's life. But it is not an overwhelming
testimony when one comes to look at it not from the worldly point of view.
There are periods in which Time--as Time--seems almost beside the mark. "A
thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday." When the Israelites had
once achieved their journey through the wilderness--nay, even through the
earlier time of tyranny amongst the Egyptians-I suppose the actual years
seemed as a dream _when one awaketh_.
I myself have known forty years pass, for someone afflicted with a
terrible mental disability, as a watch in the night, once light pierced
through the clouds of the long-darkened mental vision. Time, as sex, is
purely temporary. In this present world we cannot do without either, but
when Time itself passes for good, the old implements which were necessary
to make the clock go round will pass likewise.
So, in Newman's case, when that tremendous slice in a man's life--forty-
five years--was overpast, he sloughed off the old garments of Agnosticism,
and came back to the Christian faith professed by him in early childhood
so conscientiously--and, indeed, up to the year after his missionary
This fact influences me largely in the matter of dealing only briefly with
the time-as regards his religious professions--which lies between these
two dates, and for these reasons, which I hope to prove, carry
The first is that people are mistaken in considering that it was his
religious opinions which made Newman great. The real valour of his life
was shown in the splendid aspects of Social Reform which he showed to the
world; the way of the New Citizenship, of the New Patriotism, which he was
for ever preaching and writing about. He was the Perseus of To-day whose
wholehearted efforts were spent in freeing the Andromedas from their
antiquated bonds and fetters; whose good sword was ever pointed at the
throats of the dragons which lift their ugly heads against freedom--
against reforms of all sorts; the dragons who take so long in dying.
But there are many who will regret bitterly that a man who served his
generation so splendidly as he did in these matters should ever have
written a book such as the _Phases of Faith_; for though it is undeniably
clever, yet it is not convincing; and very much of it is very painful
reading for those who do not care to wander out of the way in the
wilderness of religious speculation and doubt.
Newman declares in this book that he did not give up Christianity; yet he
gave up all that made Christianity Christianity. He said in it that he was
looking for a "religion which shall combine the tenderness, humility, and
disinterestedness that are the glories of the purest Christianity, with
that activity of intellect and untiring pursuit of truth." [Footnote: He
said once he wished for a religion which should combine the best out of
all religions in the world.]
When he mentions that, in his time, "of young men at Oxford not one in
five seemed to have any convictions at all," he seems to imply that it was
on account of the desire for a new religion; whereas it was far more
traceable to the after-effects of Calvinism and Puritanism, which have
stuck, as spiritual limpets, to England's religious rocks ever since they
first reached them. They are certainly looser in their hold than was the
case formerly, but they are there still.
_Phases of Faith_ was published in 1850. But the year before a book of far
more religious suggestiveness had come out, though that too was a book of
opposition to the accepted forms of religion, _The Soul: its Sorrows and
Regarded as a work postulating a new spiritual point of view, it was vague
and unsatisfying. It was without form and void. It desired that most
unsatisfying thing, a religion with no dogmas:--those stakes which
preserve the ground on which grow the flowers of religious truth, from
those who come but to spoil and destroy.
Yet, with all its lack of convincing power, and those parts of it which
are, like _Phases of Faith_, painful reading and profitless--to
Christians--there are here and again striking passages such as this, whose
beauty cannot fail to appeal to us: "None can enter the kingdom of Heaven
without becoming a little child. But behind and after this there is a
mystery revealed to but few; namely, if the Soul is to go on into higher
spiritual blessedness, it must become a _woman_. Yes, however manly thou
be among men, it must learn to love being dependent; must lean on God, not
solely from distress and alarm, but because it does not like independence
or loneliness.... God is _not_ a stern Judge; exacting every tittle of
some law from us.... He does not act towards us (spiritually) by
generalities ... but His perfection consists in dealing with each case by
itself as if there were no other...." And again: "The Bible is a blessed
book if we do not stifle the Holy Spirit within us."
The second reason why I touch on these religious opinions (before
mentioned) but briefly, is because of my own _strong impression_ since I
have been writing this memoir, that in that next chapter of existence upon
which Newman has now entered, he may not impossibly be nearer the Light,
the religious truth, which here he so earnestly sought, but mistakenly;
and in his regret for his own phases of religious unfaith, now cast aside,
may not wish them to be recapitulated anew. There is a certain pathetic
sentence of his, in a letter in later life, which seems to give a certain
amount of confirmation to this idea: "It is a sad thing to have printed
erroneous fact. I have three or four times contradicted and renounced the
passage ... _but I cannot reach those whom I have misled_."
I have mentioned before that Francis Newman returned to his earlier faith
in Christianity a few years before his death.
It remains, therefore, to give the proofs which have been put into my
hands regarding this fact.
Two of his very greatest friends, Anna Swanwick and Dr. Martineau,
received from his own hands the knowledge that he wished it to be known
that he died a Christian. I shall give a quotation from one of Newman's
last letters to the former, from Miss Bruce's _Memoir of Recollections of
Anna Swanwick_. In almost illegible writing, he says:--
"If I live through this year, I hope to effect, by aid of a friend's eyes,
a third ... edition of my _Paul of Tarsus_, with grateful acknowledgment
that, in spite of a few details, I more and more come round to the
substance of the views of my honoured friend, James Martineau. Also I
close by my now sufficient definition of a Christian--'one, who in heart,
and steadily, is a disciple of Jesus in upholding the prayer called the
Lord's Prayer as the highest and purest in any known national religion.' I
think J. M. will approve this."
I should also like to add Miss Bruce's own words in this connection:--
"He" (Newman) "was drawn back at the end of his long life by the sweet
reasonableness and loving sympathy of his friend Anna Swanwick, and the
teaching of Dr. Martineau."
Also these words from a letter written by Anna Swanwick: "It is delightful
to me to think how, when the veil shall have fallen from the eyes of our
friend" (F. W. Newman), "he will love and venerate Him in Whose footsteps
he is unconsciously treading." Yet I must add here that in a letter from
Newman to Anna Swanwick (to which I had access) in 1897, there is no
definite statement of his belief in Immortality. "If God gives me
immortality, I am content. If it pleases Him to annihilate me, it is well.
Let Him do with me as seemeth to Him good."
As regards Dr. Martineau's statement, I quote now from a letter received
by me from Mr. William Tallack, who gave me particulars of a letter
written in 1903, by Mr. W. Garrett Horder, on a meeting he had with Dr.
"Not more than three or four years before his death I was sitting in an
omnibus at Oxford Circus, when Dr. Martineau, accompanied by his daughter,
got in and took seats by my side. After I had confessed my pleasure at
seeing him, he said, 'I think you ought to know that the other day I had a
letter from Frank Newman saying that, when he died, he wished it to be
known that he died in the Christian faith.'"
To my mind these strong assertions that Newman wished it known that he
"died a Christian," which he wrote to two of his closest friends, speak
There was also another, Rev. J. Temperley Grey, who visited Newman
constantly in his last illness, and who said of his final conversion these
words, in the "In Memoriam" address he gave at Newman's funeral:--
"Of late his" (Newman's) "attitude towards Christ had undergone a great
change. He confessed to me only very recently that for years he had held
on to Christianity by the skirts of S. Paul; 'but now,' he said, 'Paul is
less and less, and Christ is more and more.' He made this statement with
an emphasis and an emotion which conveyed the impression that he wished it
to be regarded as a final testimony."
To those of us who are Christians these are strong words, showing clearly
where, in his last illness and failing strength, he had turned for final
Some have called Francis Newman an atheist. But he was no atheist. A
theist for many years he was: but it was because he was unable to
reconcile certain historical difficulties, or to get rid of certain
earlier Calvinistic tendencies, or to accept certain dogmas which seemed
to him impossible of acceptation, and in this last respect he is certainly
Mr. Temperley Grey's testimony to Newman as a fellow townsman, during his
last days at Weston-super-Mare (he died 6th Oct., 1897), shows him to us
as a man who _acted_ to his fellow men, and women, as a Christian should,
although he did not, till near the end, _believe_ as one.
"Without depreciating in the least his illustrious brother, it may truly
be said that while the one was a saint in the cloister, the other was a
saint in the very thick of life's battle. [Footnote: "Henry Newman...
stood for a spiritual Tory; while Francis Newman was a spiritual Radical"
(_Morning Leader_, October, 1897).] ... I would speak of him rather as the
neighbour and townsman who moved to and fro among us ... and whom,
distrusting at first, we ultimately reverenced and loved for his nobility
of character, his simplicity of life, his tenderness of conscience, his
devoutness of spirit, and his generosity of heart.
"Theologically we were far apart, but we were entirely with him in his
enthusiasm for righteousness, his sympathy with downtrodden and oppressed
peoples.... We were with him also in his untiring efforts to secure for
women their rightful place in the shaping of our national life, and in his
splendid protests against the tortures inflicted in the name of science on
the poor, helpless animals, our dumb brothers. To hear the old man
eloquently discourse upon these themes was to be morally uplifted....
Those of us who were admitted into the inner circle of his friends were
profoundly impressed by his devoutness. He lived as in the Presence of
God, and his prayers in the home, so simple, so trustful, so reverential,
were always a means of grace, a real refreshment.
* * * * *
"He was a true philanthropist. He championed the cause of the oppressed
everywhere.... A room in his house was set apart as a guest-chamber for
persons needing a change to the seaside, but whose circumstances barred
the way; and not a few were fresh equipped for the work and battle of
life, as a result of his thoughtful hospitality.... Francis Newman stood
by himself in his greatness, his goodness, his simplicity, and we shall
not find his like again.... Above all, our friend was a truth seeker. This
was the ruling passion of his life."
Mrs. Temperley Grey tells me that it was always Newman's first wife's
great hope that her husband should be the means, through his ministrations
during the last part of Newman's life, of leading him back to his original
faith. Mrs. Newman used deeply to regret Newman's lack of definite belief,
but always said when the subject was raised, "Cannot they understand that
my husband is under a cloud--a mist, as it were?" Both the brothers, the
Cardinal and Francis Newman, through the greater part of their lives had
been restlessly searching for truth--for certainty--in their faith.
Calvinism had been the black cloud under which they had both been brought
up. If the _obiter dictum_ of a celebrated Cardinal in the Roman Church be
correct: "Give _me_ the child till he is seven years old, and he will be a
Jesuit all his life," then indeed it shows the tremendous power of habit,
for it was only through much tribulation, through passionate inward
wrestlings with those terrible tenets, and through many searchings of
heart, that either brother made his way out of its toils at length. The
Cardinal sought above all things Truth, through authority; no one will
forget those soul-stirring words of his in his _Apologia pro Vita Sua_ in
which he speaks of the great peace that at last quieted his doubts and
fears when he was received into the Roman Church. To many of us Authority
_is_ the life-buoy which supports us "o'er crag and torrent till the night
is gone"; but Francis Newman could not believe in it. "Authority is the
bane," he would say, "of religion." He must see with his intellectual
eyes, to be saved. He must see and touch Truth for himself; his
intellectual self must be convinced, or he must stand outside the creeds
he knew--a questioner still.
But he was honest and open in his aloofness. Did it mean loss of a
distinguished brilliant worldly career (as it did at Oxford in 1830)?
Well, then the career _must_ be lost, for he could not bring himself to
sign to doctrines which he did not believe. Did it mean unpopularity, that
he held certain views on Social Reform? Well, rather than compromise,
rather than temporize, he _would_ stand out alone rather than yield an
iota of what he held to be the true Progressive Aims for People and Land.
Only--and this was a flaw, and no small one either--he often wrote his
religious opinions so openly as to pain his readers. In many of his
letters which I have read there are expressions relating to the religious
dogmas held by his correspondents which are bluntly, unrestrainedly,
bitterly used. It is true that often, at the close of a letter, there
follows a hope that he had not hurt his friends' feelings; but that he
must, at all costs, be open as to his own beliefs. But that apology only
came as an after-thought, as it were as an attempt to dress the wound
which he himself had made, and is quite unable to do away with the
impression produced by the written word. _Litera scripta manet_.
In writing on "The National Church" thirty-three years after he had
refused to sign the Thirty-nine Articles, he said, with emphasis,
"Truthfulness of the _individual_ man is essential to moral worth; but for
this very reason the _system_ of the Church must be lax in order to allow
truthfulness to individuals." This is curious reasoning, and subversive of
the idea of Unity. Still, as no one can deny that as Life implies
Progression, so as regards the Churches, the inspired words that they
should be "led into all truth" surely allow for progression also into
higher regions of knowledge and methods of teaching. To allow for this
spirit of progression Newman held that a State Church should not be tied
down to fixed conditions. "No general Church system will go so far as the
foremost minds.... All the moderate and wisest historians of the Anglican
Church have extolled its foundations. They have judged that, take it as a
whole, the Reformation went as far as the collective nation was then able
to go." That it "was necessary to reform it in the sixteenth century in
order to harmonize it with the higher intelligence of the best minds, so
far as could be done without making it useless to the inferior minds." All
this has a certain truth, but when all is said, the fact forces itself
upon one that after all it is a matter for debate whether the Reformation
was a "progressive" movement at all: whether it did not in reality delay
progression. For it is well known to-day that it was really managed by the
machinations of one of the most selfish and unprincipled of kings
[Footnote: Whose conduct at this time largely hinged on the refusal of the
Pope to grant him his wished-for divorce from Katherine.]--who was only
progressive in the matter of wives--and by his ministers, who were, many
of them, men of vile characters and greed. As to motive, it is very patent
to-day what _that_ was. It was that of the man who covets his neighbour's
goods, i.e. the lands and moneys of the monasteries and churches, and who
whitewashes his sin when his desire is satisfied. There is besides
sufficient proof to-day that the great bulk of the unrepresented nation
did _not_ regard this act of wholesale robbery as "lawful and necessary,"
nor that it "harmonized" the Church "with the higher intelligence of the
To the end of his life (from his Oxford days to his death), of course,
Newman was never greatly in sympathy with the Anglican Church. He did not,
even at the end, own himself bound by her dogmas or obedient to her
conditions. To go further into the question is, I think, not desirable
here. It is enough to say that though _he was outside the visible Church_,
yet he was, in life and spirit, "not far off". As was said of Stanley, "he
believed more than he knew." His "life was in the right," though his
doubts and rationalism led him into unbeliefs, which only at the close of
his long life he renounced. And he had a far deeper longing for religious
truth than have many conventional Churchmen.
LAST YEARS, CHARACTERISTICS, AND SOME LETTERS RELATING TO THE _EARLY LIFE
OF THE CARDINAL_
It will be remembered that Francis Newman retired from his official duties
at University College in 1863, with the title Emeritus Professor. As most
of us are aware, this word "Emeritus" was originally given to Roman
soldiers who had served out their term and been discharged, on the
understanding of being given a settled sum of money which was practically
the equivalent of our English half-pay. The term is now used to designate
a professor who has been "honourably relieved" of his office, either
because of physical disability or on account of a term of long service
fulfilled. It is, in effect, a retiring pension.
As will have been seen by letters from Newman which precede this chapter,
he retired from the office of Professor, but in no sense from his work of
writing, studying, and lecturing. The enormous number of books published
will testify to this. His five volumes of _Miscellanies_, his
_Reminiscences of Two Exiles, Europe of the Near Future_, translation of
the _Odes of Horace_, [Footnote: Which did not meet with the approval of
Matthew Arnold.] _Handbook and Dictionary of Modern Arabic, Kabail
Vocabulary, Libyan Vocabulary, Text of the Iguvine Inscriptions, Christian
Commonwealth, History of the Hebrew Monarchy, Hebrew Theism, Early Life of
Cardinal Newman, Anglo-Saxon Abolition of Negro Slavery_, not to mention
many others, alone show how writing largely filled his days and occupied
Besides all this work, however, he was for ever interesting himself in any
cause or society which applied to him for help, or seemed in any way to
need a champion. Indeed, as Mr. Hornblower Gill says of him, "Scholar,
translator, mathematician, historian, political economist, political
philosopher, moralist, theologian, philanthropist, he was the most copious
and various writer of his time."
For a great many years before he died Newman lived at Weston-super-Mare.
But two years before his death, in October, 1897, when he was ninety-two
years of age, he found himself, partly owing to senile decay and partly
owing to a bad fall he had had in the spring of the year, and also to loss
of eyesight, unable to take part in public affairs any longer, nor yet to
write as he had been used to do.
The unpublished article on "Land Nationalization" (which is printed in
this volume) came into the hands of Mr. William Jameson (to whose kindness
I am indebted for it) in 1886, at which time he was Hon. Secretary of the
Land Nationalization Society, and Francis Newman, Vice-President.
Mr. Jameson, at the time of sending me the article, wrote me a letter from
which I shall here quote those parts relating to his friendship with
Newman. He says, speaking of their first meeting: "There was an instant
fellowship that endears his memory to me. I was then about thirty-five,
and he past eighty. There was a quiet dignity in his manner, but no
suggestion of _old age_."
One little anecdote may be of interest.
"We left a rather stormy committee meeting together, over which Professor
Newman had presided. The _storm_ was due to one member who had a grievance
against some others. Speaking of the pity of this, Professor Newman said
to me, 'You know how very strongly my brother and myself differ in
opinion; yet this has never created the _slightest personal discord_....'"
Several years later. Professor Newman wrote Mr. Jameson a letter (on
finding out that he was suffering from overwork and the fear of subsequent
breakdown), saying these strong words of sympathy: "I charge you to give
it up. Save yourself for the years to come." He went on to say that a
friend of his own had kept working on for some cherished cause at the cost
of much mental pressure, and had ended his days in a lunatic asylum. Mr.
Jameson adds that Newman's words of counsel have often and often rung in
his ears since they were first said to him, and he attributes to the fact
that he obeyed them, his having been saved from a physical breakdown.
"Save yourself for the years to come" is a counsel which we, who are
workers, are so often in danger of forgetting. Except in extreme youth,
most men and women live far more in the present and in the past than they
do in the future which lies before them, so largely to be carved into
shape by their Present.
In April, 1887, Sir Samuel Walker Griffith, G.C.M.G., Chief Justice of
Queensland since 1893, Secretary for Public Instruction, Attorney-General
from 1874-8, 1890-3, Premier of Queensland from 1883-8, and 1890-3, was
over in England, and Francis Newman was to have been introduced by Mrs.
Bucknall (mother of Mrs. Bainsmith, the distinguished sculptor [Footnote:
Mrs. Georgina Bainsmith, F.N.B.A., member of the Royal Society of Arts,
and of the Honorary Council of the North British Academy.] to whom I am
indebted for the photo in this book of her bust of Francis Newman, which
now stands in University College, London) to Sir Samuel, at the latter's
own special desire. Unfortunately, Newman was unable to go with Mrs.
Bucknall to Sir Samuel Griffith's house, and this is his letter (kindly
lent me, with Sir Samuel Griffith's reply, by Mrs. Bucknall).
"Dear Mrs. Bucknall,
"Since you tell me that time presses, I have no way but to give up to you
my private copy of (_my_) Christian Commonwealth, which I now send you.
Very sorry I am that I could not accompany you on Sunday to Sir Samuel
Griffith's, but learning from you how graciously such a visitor from the
Antipodes expressed his desire to meet me, I am really sorry that I was
not able in person to attest my deep reverence and admiration as well as
affection for Mrs. Butler, and my conviction that only moral and spiritual
influences can quell the demon of impurity, while the _despair_ which
tries to keep it within limits by moderation and indulging it, is a folly
and an infatuation, especially when coupled with police licenses and
police espionage. Our ladies since 1869 have learned to detest the
despotic police and the despotic doctor with an intensity which time ever
"They must conquer at last: the sole question is,--after how much more
moral damage to young men and women, and how much mental agony to our
"Our young men happily are joining this crusade. Alas, for those who mean
to be Christian, and do not know the elements of Christian sentiment.
[Footnote: See "Marriage Laws" (1867), "State Provision for Vice" (1869),
and "Remedies for the Great Social Evil" (1869), in Vol. III of F. W.
"I look to you to apologize for me to Sir S. G, for offering to him a book
written by me... one which my pen has defaced....
"Most truly yours,
"F. W. Newman.
"Weston-s.-M., _19th April_, 1887."
This is Sir Samuel Griffith's answer:--
"Dover Street, W.,
"_21st April_, 1887.
"Dear Mrs. Bucknall,
"Accept my best thanks for Professor Newman's writings on the _Christian
Commonwealth_ and the _New Crusade_. I really feel ashamed to deprive you
of the latter, and Professor Newman of the former, but it would be most
ungracious of me to refuse to accept them.
"Pray assure him that the value of the copy of the _Christian
Commonwealth_ is to be much enhanced by the fact that it bears his
autograph notes, and that I feel deeply honoured by the terms in which he
has been good enough to express himself in his note to you, which I have
read with great interest and which I enclose. I shall always regret that I
had not the honour and pleasure of meeting him at Weston, but my time was
"Yours very faithfully,
"S. W. Griffith."
Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Pennington were great friends of Newman's, and he
often stayed with them from time to time. By the kindness of Mrs.
Pennington I am able to quote from some letters written by him in 1881-90,
and one much earlier, in 1875, in which he laments the death of Mrs.
Blackburn. Mrs. Blackburn was a sister of Mr. Pennington's, and one of the
most munificent of contributors to the United Kingdom Alliance in its
early days, who (I am told by Mrs. Pennington) often denied herself many
luxuries in order to be able to make her contributions larger. She
describes her as one of the best women she had ever known.
Newman, in his letter to Mr. Pennington in 1875, says of Mrs. Blackburn:--
"I have known her ever since Michaelmas 1869, when the revelation was
first made to us of the Contagious Diseases Act; and at the Congress of
Social Science at Bristol she was pleased to receive my hospitality. My
esteem for her was great and ever increasing...."
He goes on to say that his dread of cold and chills makes him fear a long
journey, "though it is mortifying to me not to meet you and Mrs.
Pennington, and many other earnest friends of this very important cause."
In 1881 Gladstone was Prime Minister, and stayed in office for five years.
For almost the whole of this time the country was hardly ever at peace.
The Transvaal rebellion was started in 1880 and later our own troops were
defeated by the insurrectionists; whereupon the Government promptly
surrendered the Transvaal.
About this time Newman writes to Mrs. Pennington:
"_I am not a member of Cambridge University, nor indeed of Oxford
University since 1830. If I had kept my name on the book, I should have
paid L6 a year, if I remember; that is, L300 in these fifty years; and as
I never took my M.A. degree (because of the 39 Articles), I should even
then have no vote.
"I now act on the fixed rule _not to take any long journey in the winter
months_, except from real duty. Experience guides me, and I refuse even
pressure from very friendly quarters.... I am melancholy about this
Cabinet and Mr. Gladstone, and ashamed to be an Englishman. All comes to
me like a domestic calamity. And Parliament is so overworked that
_English_ misrule cannot be corrected. I look on _Ministers in the House_
as nearly our worst nuisance. But I must not begin on our defective and
Then in 1890 the letters begin more and more to show a change in his
handwriting. He no longer wrote in his original firm, clear style, but in
a crabbed, cramped manner. His words now were often difficult to decipher,
and the letters of the words very shaky and undecided, bearing witness
very plainly of the trembling hand of Age. After mentioning the immense
number of letters which he had to answer, and how the trouble of replying
was almost beyond his strength, he says, "The sister-like affection of my
honoured friend Anna Swanwick has ... again and again won me to London;...
but the place seems never to agree with me. Partly the whirl by night and
day, I suppose, is my bane; still more, the endless meeting of fresh and
fresh small talk, with the fatigue of _listening_, and the impression on
my brain of miscellaneous memories when I ought to sleep. In Oxford, from
like causes, I became as it were 'daft,' and from forgetfulness of the
right words could not complete an English sentence. A like affection came
on me in London last summer, and I had to break away suddenly, to the
disappointment of friends, because my own sense of _idiotcy_ was
unbearable. Rest and sleep sufficed to restore me when I reached home. The
inability to get out the right word, if (for instance) _suddenly_ asked
'to what station I am going,' is enough to make me seem insane or half
asleep.... I am increasingly aware that my _brain_ is my weakest part....
On the whole I am healthy, and agile in all movement as are few men of my
age (two doctors fancy that _all_ men of eighty-five have pulses as
_disorderly_ as mine!)...."
[Illustration: CARDINAL NEWMAN
FROM AN OIL PAINTING BY MISS DEANE, OF BATH.
PHOTO BY MESSRS. WEBSTER, CLAPHAM COMMON]
As regards the work on the _Early Life of the Cardinal_, which was
published at this time, he says:--
"I am (_under a sense of duty_) writing concerning the late Cardinal quite
a different side of his character from that which for fifty years the
public have heard. I knew him as eminently generous as to money, but so
fanatical as to embarrass judgment of his character. Another weakness I
confess and _lament_. I can write large. I begin everything with
resolution so to write. But as soon as I think only of the substance, and
forget the manner, my writing so dwindles that I can hardly read it
myself. I suppose that weakness of the fingers is the cause. I see how
deficient they are of flesh."
In September, 1890, he wrote the following letters to Rev. J. K. Tucker,
Rector of Pettaugh, Suffolk, who was an old friend of Newman's, and to Mr.
John Henry Tucker, [Footnote: Which have been kindly lent me by Mr. John
Warren.] from which I make quotations:--
"Ever since my brother's death (Cardinal J. H. N.) I am overwhelmed with
letters, and now am writing more and longer every day than my fingers can
well manage, for publishers eager for my MS."
And again in October of the same year:--
"I am about to send to my publishers my _painful_ contribution to the life
of the late Cardinal, my brother. I am conscientiously bound to write it,
because in his _fifty_ years' absence from the sight of the public a new
generation has grown up ignorant of the facts, and the attempt is already
begun to puff them off for their beauty of style..,. My age being eighty-
five, I know the truths, and must tell them. I shall be howled at as
_unbrotherly_. My immediate business now is to write to numbers of
correspondents of whom you are one, whom I have necessarily neglected
while engaged in the most anxious work I have ever undertaken...."
As regards this book to which he alludes, his _Early Life of Cardinal
Newman_, everyone feels that in some sense it belittles the writer. For
there was no real need of any sort that he should have written it. From
one brother to another, such an "early history" was, from some points of
view, a disloyalty--and a disloyalty not altogether free from embittered
Was there no personal feeling roused in the lives of the two men? For the
younger was practically overshadowed by the elder. It was the elder one to
whom the world kotow-ed. It was the elder who---though the younger was so
strikingly intellectual, and so strong a social reformer in many ways--
carried the world's laurels, and who was finally given the "splendid
funeral" to which Francis Newman takes exception. And there was another
reason too, which I believe exercised a strong sway over his feelings to
his brother in early youth, and brought into play, though perhaps
unrecognized by himself, the quality of emulation, followed by keen
disappointment, when failure, as regarded that incident, fell to his
share. Be that as it may, it is impossible to justify Francis Newman's
writing thus of his brother, in the "early history" to which I refer. Not
even his keen desire for truth, which some declare to have been his motive
power in the matter, accounted for it.
"I should vastly have preferred entire oblivion of him" (of the Cardinal),
"and his writings of the first forty years, but that is impossible. In the
cause of Protestants and Protestantism, I feel bound to write, however
painful to myself, as simply as if my topic were an old Greek or Latin
one." Later on he says, "I have _tried_ to cherish for him a sort of
_filial_ sentiment," but "we seemed never to have an interest nor a wish
in common." [Footnote: J. H. Newman once in speaking of his brother, said,
"Much as we love each other, neither would like to be mistaken for the
other." A sentence which seems to contain more meanings than one!] Perhaps
no words could more absolutely convey the lack of sympathy between the
brothers, than do these. "I have _tried_ to cherish for him a sort of
filial sentiment!" showing as it does, only too evidently, that there was
no spontaneity of affection between them. The only voice that called each
to each was that of old childish association and duty. Francis Newman
could not be accused of seeking personal distinction or fame for itself;
witness his giving up a very promising career at home in order to go on
his missionary journey to Syria. Witness also his open denunciation of
many existing State abuses. Witness his unceasing crusades against the
stronger party (whatever it might be), which, in his opinion, oppressed
and wronged the weaker section of the community, unable of themselves to
obtain justice and a hearing at the court of English public opinion.
All the more, then, is it difficult to explain away sentences such as
these, which seem to proceed from such an absolutely different personality
than was Frank Newman's; and yet the man who reads his memoirs of his
brother finds them almost on every page, and cannot understand their
"The existing generation has seen him" (he is alluding to the Cardinal),
"through a mist; and if my simple statement anywhere clears away that
mist, they may almost resent my truth-speaking as an impiety." As indeed
they did--and do. Some of his own friends, indeed, urged him not to
publish the book, but he was obdurate.
"In my rising manhood I received inestimable benefits from this (my
eldest) brother.... He supported me, not out of his abundance, but when he
knew not whence weekly and daily funds were to come.... Yet a most painful
breach ... broke in on me in my nineteenth year and _was unhealable_."
This was, of course, when Francis had been at college two years, for in
those days men very often went at the age of sixteen, as he did.
But the entries of 1822 and 1823, which last would be for Francis his
"nineteenth year," give no clue to the "painful breach" which "was
Yet the fact that religious differences did begin between the two brothers
very early in life has been proved beyond all question. Proved also is it
that religious discussions were of constant occurrence between them, and
that while J. H. Newman had always a strange leaning to Churchmanship,
Frank Newman's religious tendencies drew him strongly towards dissent and
I think the latter mentions in his _Phases of Faith_ that when he first
came to college he found his brother had hung up a picture of Our Lady in
his younger brother's room, which he at once removed, and refused to have
on the walls.
The following letter is to Rev. J. K. Tucker; in it he describes himself
as a "Conscious Christian" "at the age of fourteen." But he has often
described himself as holding Christianity _without_ Christ:--
"I hold firmly in memory, that in Easter of 1836 I wished to conduct my
_bride_ to Oxford, and introduce her there to my mother and two sisters--
in those Coaching days we came from Bristol and Cheltenham en route to
Oxford. _I_ did not plan the thought of staying a night at your father's
house, in which I suppose _you and your wife_ were living. No doubt the
scheme was planned _by my wife_ to meet _her friend_. The winter of our
marriage had been one of wild snow; and the following Easter was alike
untimely. I just remember the fact of your kind hospitality fifty-four and
a half years ago, and the snow around us. In that visit to my mother (the
last time I saw her), my young wife caught inflammation of the lungs,
which I did not perceive or understand--she was so cruelly bled and
cupped, that I think she never recovered it.
"It is very kind of you to keep alive in your heart the friendship of the
two ladies. I perhaps ought to state that about two and a half years after
the death of that wife in 1876 I married her ... friend.... Else I must
have given up housekeeping, and know not into what family I could have
gone. My second wife is nineteen years my junior, yet in walking, not at
all my equal, but in affectionate care of me inestimable."
In June, 1892, he writes to J. H. Tucker, Esq.:--"I have not heard whether
your father, like me, is favoured by life continued, but I venture to send
a copy of my hymns.... To-day I have received a letter and book in
_Bengali_ from a believer in _Theosophy_, supposing me to be one of them!
Hence, I was not too early in telling my friends that since _at the age of
fourteen_ I became a Conscious Christian, no unbelief has made my hymns
less precious, _mutato saltem nomine_.... My change more than fifty years
ago was on Historical arguments mainly."
To return to the subject of Newman's last years at Weston-super-Mare.
Perhaps the most graphic descriptions of him as an old man are those
contributed as "Reminiscences" by Mrs. Kingsley-Tarpey and Mrs. Bainsmith.
We know him there as a man who, though hardly ever free from some
discomfort or pain in those days, yet never failed in that old-world
courtesy of which, alas! there is so poor a supply in the world at the
We know him as a man who was always eager to help those who came to him in
trouble or in any difficulty; nay, perhaps almost _too_ ready to believe a
cock-and-bull story of those who did not mind, for their own ends,
practising on his credulity.
A lady, a relation of the Newmans', said that once on coming to stay with
him and Mrs. Newman, she found a secretary in his study smelling strongly
of brandy. When the secretary went out of the room, Frank Newman drew
their guest aside and said, "Ah, yes, it's a sad case, poor fellow! He's
getting away from the temptation of the public-houses."
But when later the secretary's rooms were searched, there were found
numbers of brandy bottles hidden away, to prove that he evidently had
_not_ "escaped from temptation"! This lady said also that when Newman was
old people not infrequently deceived him thus, and traded on his
temperance views, and that he had had _two_ secretaries who obtained their
post on false pretences.
To conclude this chapter I should like to give one striking instance of
his tender sympathy and respect for the poor and lonely. A poor charwoman
had died at Weston-super-Mare who had, I believe, often worked in Newman's
house. He found that she had no friends to follow her body to the grave,
and so he himself, his wife and servants, walked to the funeral as
mourners to show her a last respect. It is the Idea represented by his act
which makes it serve as an unforgettable and very uncommon illustration of
a championship of those unlucky ones who have few or none to champion
Could any act speak clearer of the unfailing respect and reverence for
women which distinguished Francis Newman through life? Though all others
should see the lonely funeral, there should be but the one Good Samaritan
who crossed over the road of ordinary, usual, Conventionalities to show by
his act that he recognized that class and position count for nothing
before the fact of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity and Religion.
TOULMIN SMITH: AUTHOR, ANTIQUARIAN STUDENT, AND POLITICAL REFORMER
Among the names of those who have done most, by untiring, laborious search
among old parish registers, etc., and dusty old records, to bring to light
interesting social ordinances, details of ancient parish government, and
gems of Norse literature and archaeological research, there have been none
in the last century who have by patient work attained more knowledge of
their country's inner history than Mr. Toulmin Smith.
His name is indeed familiar to everyone as the greatest living authority
on "English Gilds." That book alone, by itself, is an invaluable gift to
the nation. By that alone has he done so signal a service to his
countrymen that no gratitude could repay it.
It is true that, owing to ill-health, Mr. Toulmin Smith unavoidably left
it unfinished at his death, but there is sufficient fulness of information
in it as it is, to make it worth more than an infinity of other finished
books of to-day.
As Father Gasquet says in his _Parish Life in Medieval England_, of the
universality of these "gilds" in this country: "Every account of a
medieval parish must necessarily include some description of the work of
fraternities and guilds.... Their existence dates from the earliest
times." Mr. Toulmin Smith, indeed, says, "English Guilds are older than
any kings of England.... They were associations of those living in the
same neighbourhood, who remembered that they had, as neighbours, common
obligations." But it was not only because of his _English Gilds_ that he
is remembered. In 1854, when he was thirty-eight years of age, he
published another very important volume, _The Parish: its Obligations and
Powers, its Officers and their Duties_. This was also a book towards the
making of which had gone many long years of the most incessant, careful
research in old documents. It was one of those rare literary buildings,
each stone of which was laid with infinite exactitude and care. There is
too much "jerry-building" to-day, both in houses and books.
To Mr. Toulmin Smith some of the shallow books of to-day would represent
literary "pariahs." He would bar the very superficial method in which they
were put together.
In _The Parish_ and in many a pamphlet he set his face steadily against
centralization. "The ruling passion, the guide of his life, the dream of
his youth, the glory of his manhood and his later years, was the
intelligent freedom of the people, based on 'the ancient ways.'"
[Footnote: _Toulmin Smith, 1816 to 1869_, by the late Samuel Timmins,
Esq., of Birmingham. From this pamphlet I have gained much information of
It is not difficult to understand how the friendship between Toulmin Smith
and Frank Newman began. For the decentralization of the nation, better
forms of local self-government, were also, each of them, a dream of the
latter's, which he longed eagerly to see realized. There was another keen
common interest between them. Both ardently desired the freedom of
Hungary. Both wrote strongly in favour of it. Both warmly welcomed the
exiled patriot, Louis Kossuth, when he came to England to collect funds
for the revolutionary movement of his country. But long before Englishmen
had made themselves _au fait_ with the subject of the Hungarian revolt,
Toulmin Smith had, in his literary studies, understood the why and
wherefore of the quarrel, and had, by his words, roused his country to the
true recognition of how urgent was the whole question between Austria and
Hungary. It must not be forgotten, too, that all his labours amongst the
tangled undergrowths of the literary land were undertaken in the leisure
time he could spare from his profession. For he was barrister-at-law of
Lincoln's Inn, and he was also a landowner in Birmingham (his native
city), of property which had belonged to his ancestors in succession for
five hundred years. He had made himself a proficient in the Icelandic,
Danish, Norse languages, and was learned in the ancient history and
politics of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Scandinavia. [Footnote:
I quote from the pamphlet on _Toulmin Smith_, referred to before.]
Mr. Timmins tells us that "while he maintained his own convictions with
energy and power, he had a kindly regard for all who differed from him, a
large appreciation of genuine humour, and he was in private life one of
the most courteous, kindly, and genial of men. While he honoured the past
and the memory of his fathers, he was no blind adherent of a falling
cause, no obstinate opponent of the needful changes of the age.... Amid
all the worry of a London lawyer's life, when far away in the United
States and stricken down by 'grievous illness,' almost his last written
words, 'I _long_ to return to Birmingham,' express the passion of his
The friendship between Toulmin Smith and Newman probably began in 1849, in
connection with the formation of the Hungarian Committee. This I am told
by Miss Toulmin Smith, to whose kindness I am indebted for permission to
use the following letters.
She believes that her father was introduced to Newman by Mr. John Edward
Taylor (of Norwich). She says she has a keen memory of Francis Newman
coming to her father's house at Highgate at that time, with Pulszky and
other Hungarians, all eager in the "efforts for reform and constitutional
freedom and local government." But later on, she adds, many difficulties
arose, and "about 1852 something connected with Louis Kossuth" (and the
Hungarian movement) "caused a coolness" between the friends, and their
correspondence seems to have come to an end after September in that year.
Newman, owing to his University College engagements probably, I think
retired from his position on the Committee in October, 1849.
_Francis Newman to Toulmin Smith._
"University College, Gower Street,
"_8th Jan._, 1850.
"My dear Sir,
"I rejoice in your ward-mote exertions, and I beg you will not think that
I am indifferent to them."
[This refers to "a series of meetings during the winter of 1849-50 in one
of the Wards of the City of London; part of a movement endeavouring to
rouse the citizens to a sense of civic local duties."] [Footnote: I am
quoting from notes _re_ these letters, kindly supplied by Miss Toulmin
"On Wednesday I have to attend a meeting of our Professors here which will
interfere with the Wardmote.... I exceedingly want presence of mind, if
there is any tumult, so as to remember quickly enough what is to be said.
Against a mob I could _act_ with firmness, but I could not speak with
promptitude. Moreover, I suffer physically from the air of a crowded room,
and never go to _hear_ a speech when there is a chance of my being able to
The next letter I quote from is dated from Church Street, Old Eastbourne,
August, 1850. It begins with questions of canvassing at University
College, and goes on to touch on the subject about which he and his
correspondent were at one: local land reform:--
"I have been here less than a week, but was at first unsettled, and my
servant did not know whither to send my letters. It is fine air, rather
bleak downs" (this is an unappreciative criticism of those exquisitely
rounded outlines), "but with sunny days very pleasant and healthy.
"I am glad to hear of your Bristol excursion. If one could convert some
sheriff of a county, I should like to see the thing tested in some
practical form, i.e. to assemble every month a Parliament of County
Freeholders to do some real work--as, if roads, or public lands, or docks,
etc., were to be dealt with; or to protest against a Private Bill in
Parliament, and claim to have the settling of it.
"I wish you knew Tom Taylor. He is an able man, desiring Reform, and is on
the Public Health Board in some legal capacity. He heartily wishes to
develop the local powers, and will not admit that they are practically
undermining them. He fully assented to all I said in theory, but thought I
misconceived what they were actually doing.
"Believe me, sincerely yours,
"F. W. Newman."
Tom Taylor, journalist and playwriter, was born 1817 in Sunderland. For
two years he was Professor of the English language and literature at
University College. He was called to the Bar of Inner Temple in 1845. He
acted as Secretary to the Board of Health and Local Government Act Office.
After the year 1846 he devoted himself chiefly to playwriting, and in 1874
was editing _Punch_.
The following letter is dated September, 1850:--
* * * * *
"It is not Tom Taylor only who honestly believes the Sanitary Board to be
engaged in teaching Central and Local Powers to _co-operate_, and to be
anxious to leave _bona fide_ power of the most important kind to the
localities. Only a few days ago a friend of mine (a physician) was proving
to me this very point in them. We who are not lawyers do not understand
points rapidly enough (or cannot remember them) to see where a great
principle is violated.
"I do not care about the Sanitary Board _per se_ ... but what I think you
are most wanted to do is to show that, however much the Parliamentary
franchise needs reform, yet a _greater_ need is that of limiting the
functions of Parliament, and giving them to County Assemblies or Town
"That word _Mote_ is almost obsolete! May not the fact itself be a text to
you? The modern substitute, 'meeting,' has no taxing powers, no legal
officers, no constitutional power any more than a mob.... The sands of the
Whigs run fast out, and it is high time for the Radicals to have a creed.
Do you find any Chartists listen to you? If you cannot convert a Sheriff,
I should be as well pleased with a hundred Chartists, for they learn from
one another by contagion."
In this year there was put forward a project for a society to make more
local government possible. This was later carried out under the name of
the "Anti-Centralization Union."
In November, 1850, decentralization was again to the fore in the minds of
Newman and Toulmin Smith, as is shown here; and what the former says he
puts very trenchantly, forcibly:--
"7 Park Village East,
"R.P., _Oct. 16th_, 1850.
"My dear Smith,
* * * * *
"I can speak with much freedom and energy (but no _wit_) on a subject on
which I have information and feel interested: but I cannot make an after-
dinner speech of compliment, nor talk on a subject which I do not feel I
have very maturely considered.... In regard to _local government_, I think
you would disarm the fears or scruples of many excellent and wise persons
if you made prominent that you do not wish to return to the Middle Ages,
or disown that progress of society which has knit England into a single
State. I think it high time to make an outcry against a system of infinite
legislation, in which we are subjected to laws too numerous for anyone to
be acquainted with; yet I doubt whether we shall get a hearing with the
most influential minds unless we make it clear that we fully understand
that the progress of society forbids our returning to the simplicity of
law which the good Saxons had under Alfred and his successors. The gap is
vast, and there is _no danger whatever_ of our becoming too simple; yet
this fanatical aim will be so surely imputed to us (in days when such men
as Lord John Manners in Politics and the Puseyites in Church are afloat)
that it is not needless to disown it even to candid and strong-headed
"I am asking Froude to dine with me on Tuesday, the 29th instant, at 6
o'clock, to meet you and _some other friends_ whom I want to bring
together: as I believe he will then be in London....
"_Thursday, 6 o'clock_.--I have just got Froude's reply, _Yes_: so please
to say Yes, too.
"In haste, sincerely yours,
"F. W. Newman."
As to the real meaning of the word "Democracy" Newman deals with it
"_What is_ Democracy?... Show that if one town governs itself by universal
suffrage, that _is_ Democracy, so long as the people really exercise
interest in their public concerns; but that if a whole country, as France,
elects an Assembly, that is _not_ Democracy, but Empire delegated to an
Oligarchy, because the people at large cannot understand, follow, and
control public measures.
"I do not mean to dictate this, or any one mode; but I feel strongly that
you must put a sharp curb on all invective _until_ you have fully
developed the difference between the common Radicalism and your own views.
Pulszky says he is satisfied you were not _understood_ at the Radley Hotel
dinner. Radicals are almost as slow as Tories to admit a new thought.
"I should also like to have the question brought out: 'What has been,
historically, the Service performed by Monarchy and Centralization?' The
answer is: 'It has formed nations into larger masses, and lessened or
destroyed _border war_.' The inference is, that the great and peculiar
function of the Central Government is, in fact, what the American Congress
does, viz. to maintain peace at home between the several States, and make
the country _One_ in resisting hostile attack. To do more than this,
should be rather exceptive, and confined to subordinate matters, else
Centralization becomes mischievous...."
And again, later in the year, in answer to a letter from Mr. Toulmin
"What I said of 'Democracy' was meant as _argumentum ad hominem_ to that
side, not as intending to identify myself with it, but I see the danger
you speak of. Query: Would 'popular government' do? Even Conservatives
wish for a Commonwealth and for _Constitutional_ Government. No doubt
_Unity_ is the true word, not Centralization; but I think this Unity
without Centralization would never have been coveted by kings, so that in
fact we have bought the advantage of Unity at the expense of submitting to
(more or less of) Centralization."
Twelve years later, John Ruskin put forth a method which cannot fail to
commend itself to every reasonable mind; a method which, if treated from
the decentralization point of view, seems to offer good solution to the
crux of English pauperism, at any rate, if dealt with under the aegis of
_Local_ government. That "_bona fide power of the most important kind to
the localities" as Newman said, should be conceded; that the "Government
schools" of which Ruskin speaks should, in each place, be directly under
The passage to which I am alluding is from _Unto this Last_:--
"Any man, or woman, or boy, or girl out of employment should be at once
received at the nearest Government School" (training schools, at which
trades, etc., should be taught) "and set to such work as it appeared, on
trial, they were fit for, at a fixed rate of wages determinable every
year; that being found incapable of work through ignorance, they should be
taught; or being found incapable of work through sickness, should be
tended; but that being found objecting to work, they should be set, under
compulsion of the strictest nature, to the more painful and degrading (?)
forms of necessary toil; especially to that in mines, and other places of
danger (such danger being, however, diminished to the utmost by careful
regulation and discipline), and the due wages of such work retained, cost
of compulsion first abstracted, to be at the workman's command so soon as
he has come to sounder mind respecting the laws of employment."
LETTERS TO MRS. KINGSLEY
"_4th Nov._, 1877.
"Dear Mrs. Kingsley,
"I hurried home from Manchester to meet an expected widow friend here, who
has just left me. Somehow or other she and her little girl engrossed me
much, and made me neglect my intended warm thanks for your very kind
letters, and for your phrases even of affection, to which, be assured, I
am not inattentive or apathetic, though I imperfectly know how to respond
to that which I do not seem to have duly earned.
"Your children were as kind and attentive to me as you could have been
yourself; but I much regret not to have met you and Mr. Kingsley, to whom
I beg you to give my kind regards, and believe that it is always a
pleasure to meet you, and that I am necessarily proud of having made so
_fruitful_ a convert ... though our severe ones will remind me that you do
not wholly abstain from fish!
"Believe me, yours heartily,
"Francis W. Newman.
"I am bringing out a _dreadful_ pamphlet!"
"28 Cumberland Terrace,
"Regent's Park, London,
"_25th May_, 1878.
"Dear Mrs. Kingsley,
"Concerning the controversy about increase of population, I forgot to add
what I think has moral weight, that the theory which makes men bewail
every increase on the ground that _at length_ the earth will be overfilled
would be in argument just as powerful if the size of the earth were
increased to that of Jupiter, or to that of the sun. It simply deduces
from the axiom / _fact_ that any finite area whatsoever will at length be
overfilled by a constant unchecked increase--a reason why we should
actively check the increase NOW and HERE--a deduction wholly void of good
"Again, I did not mention what reduces John Mill's school to something
worse than negative error, the certainty that their doctrine will not be
obeyed by any but those whom we would desire to have the peopling of the
earth, viz. the people of most intellect. If the highly intelligent and
conscientious obey John Mill, we evidently must look forward to the
peopling of every land by the most backward and least intelligent part of
the nation.... Malthus was shocked by the system of encouraging very early
marriage and large families for the mere sake of getting men as food for
gunpowder: but if people marry (say young men at 27 or 28, not at 17 or
18) he denounces as unnatural and unimaginable that society or law should
frown upon a family as being too numerous. In every moral aspect of the
case, John Mill is opposed to Malthus, and his followers have no right to
call themselves Malthusians. I feel confident that human population would
waste _if_ every man adopted the doctrine _either_ of John Mill _or_ of
certain American theorists....
"With best regards to all yours,
"I am, yours most sincerely,
"F. W. Newman."
"15 Arundel Crescent,
"_12th Feb_., 1880.
"Dear Mrs. Kingsley,
"Your kind letter, yesterday received, gives me great concern. I never
wept through simple grief, but once in my life through grief at
ingratitude; and I think I never felt so painful a pang in my heart. I can
well imagine that a sense of another's ingratitude may terribly overthrow
anyone's health. I believe my dear sister, whose death you so kindly
mention, suffered _in part_ from excess of anxiety through being made
executrix to her husband's will, involving great perplexity, but _also_
from the fraud of an old and trusted clerk. Her husband had several small
strokes of paralysis, and for two and a half years before his death
probably had not his mind always perfect. He delegated many confidential
writings and documents to the clerk, who with his wife was much respected
by the whole family. After his death his accounts were inexplicable. Three
of his sons worked hard at them for weeks together, and at last discovered
frauds, by which the clerk had not only embezzled money-how much they know
not, but counted above the thousand-and had depreciated the property in
selling it by representing it as having been for years a declining
business: this was to hide his pilferings. When charged with it, the man
_became raving mad_. Lawyers knew not how to recover property from a
maniac who could not defend himself: and my sister was in such grief for
the man's wife, that she knew not whether to wish to recover a farthing.
How the matter stood she either did not know or did not like to tell me-to
the last; but the mysterious disease which ate away her strength, I in my
private mind ascribe to anxiety from this affair and her sudden and
strange responsibility as trustee for ladies.
"This dear sister was the fondest object of my boyish affections; and
through life she was the self-sacrificing, devoted character which from
earliest years she displayed. Five sons, one daughter, and two daughters-
in-law were present at her death, all fervent in love and duty. Her
husband was one of ten children, and all that family were singularly
united. Her only daughter will now live with two of her aunts, who have
been almost at her side since birth. My sister was so long in a very
precarious state that I did not expect her to survive the winter of 1878-
9, and at last death came as a relief and release.
"It has always troubled me that I have so little power to promote the
industrial interests of friends. When I was a professor in London I used
to be entreated to find pupils for tutors (when I had not half as many
pupils as I desired for myself) and to recommend others to publishers and
editors, when I could neither get a publisher to risk a shilling on what I
wrote, nor more than one editor to accept an article from me. Now, I would
most gladly recommend ---- ----; but it is well to say frankly that no one
ever asks me, nor do I _at all_ know who wants anything, nor can I guess
in what direction to inquire. But be sure I shall not forget, if the
"I yesterday heard awful tidings of widespread murrain in the sheep of
these parts (Somerset and Monmouth and all between) ascribed to last
summer's wet. One farmer (as a specimen) has lost 1000 sheep; the hotel-
keepers are bidden to _beware of mutton._ This I have from an associate of
"Indoors I am happy; but I am so gloomy for the prospects of the country
that I do not like to talk about them. Kind regards to Mr. Kingsley.
"I am, most truly yours,
"F. W. Newman."
_19th Oct._, 1880.
"Dear Mrs. Kingsley,
"Behold me (in imagination, as I really am) still at home on our great
"I warmly thank you for your kind letter, and was purposing to write, but
in heaps of letters could not find yours with the new address, which I
have now entered in my book.
"I have finally resolved not to bustle about so late in the year, and have
resigned my place as President in consequence. But it is reported to me
that the Executive will prefer to exempt me from attendance in this
"Public affairs make me very melancholy. Mr. Gladstone is not to blame for
the state of Ireland; but both in Afghanistan with India and in South
Africa, I think he has allowed his colleagues to neutralize his public
professions, and has made compromises most calamitous.
"The ministry seems to me not worthy of the Parliament. I do not doubt
that the plutocracy in the next ten or even five years will have a heavy
and deserved fall, but with how much convulsion and suffering in Ireland,
in India, and in South Africa, all inflicting miseries on us--you will
live to see: I fear it cannot be small, and that our institutions, called
Fundamental, will be very gravely shaken.
"I honour your Piscarian position, and with our society would recognize
it; but the discovery that you all eat fish forbids me to glory that I
have converted a family to our Rules! With kind regards to Mr. Kingsley
and the rest, I am,
"Your sincere friend,
"F. W. Newman."
"_26th April_, 1883.
"Dear Mrs. Kingsley,
"... I am apparently assuming the position of one who (like the Pope)
makes an ALLOCUTION to all _who will listen._ Each of us may imitate him.
I have given away eighty copies to make my allocution known. I suppose I
ought to have sent one to you, but circulation is hard work. Alas, it
costs a shilling! Can you get it put into any Manchester Library? (Trubner
my publisher.) It is called _A Christian Commonwealth_ and is as much
against our unjust wars as a Quaker could desire.
"In haste, ever yours,
"F. W. Newman."
"Kind regards to all yours."
_9th April_, 1884.
"My dear Friend,
"... My dismay and disgust at the proceedings of a ministry, of which Mr.
Gladstone must bear the _full responsibility_--which indeed he accepts by
defending all its atrocious proceedings--have disinclined me to write,
more than I must, on any but private or literary topics....
"A new struggle is made by this unscrupulous ministry to retain the
execrable C.D. Acts.
"I am sorry that the Bishops have again turned the scale in the
unrighteous retention of the law against a man's marriage to his deceased
wife's sister. When do the Bishops rally against sanguinary injustice and
dire oppression? "I have just had two hundred and fifty copies struck off
of the enclosed leaflet, which aims to suggest to the haters of unjust
war, especially Quakers, in what direction they ought to work, viz. to lay
the foundation of an _entirely new_ political party. No candidate for a
vote could complain that he was humiliated by being required to profess
himself a VOTARY OF JUSTICE.
"I throw these leaflets in this and that direction as _feelers._ Of course
more can be printed when wanted....
"With best regards,
"I am, yours,
"F. W. Newman."
"15 Arundel Crescent,
"_3rd Jan. _, 1887.
"You need not think me dead yet; but you easily might, so estranged am I
"Yet I at least have life enough to be able to wish all welfare and
blessing to you and yours in this New Year. The accumulation of letters
has always thwarted me when I have tried to find your last letter.... I
seem to remember that you then told me of the marriage of your eldest
daughter and of the literary efforts of another. Since then we have had
the overthrow in the W.K. of the Safe-Harlot-Providing Law, and indeed it
must have been as early as 1885; and the episode of Mr. Stead and his
prosecution was later! A great moral change has been wrought (for the
better, I say) in our ladies by that wickedness of our ruling classes with
the aid of wicked medical theories provoking indignant protest. To drag
printed matter into daylight is no doubt very offensive; but without
sweeping it away no sound health is to be expected. The ladies, I fancy,
will now, more _perseveringly_ than men, keep in activity the Purity
Society. And if some of them seem a little _too_ active--I ask, how _can_
this odious system of sin, crime, and cruelty be crushed without hot
enthusiasm? And where was enthusiasm hot without partial error? Fire
"This reminds me of my sending you (at your request) a load of anti-
vaccination literature, and I am wondering whether you were able to turn
it to service. THAT monstrous iniquity _must_ come down; but the medical
schools and _your Irishmen_ block out our movement.
"I wonder how you and Mr. Kingsley look on Mr. Gladstone. I never
condemned his _measure_, though I have always (for years back) declined to
aid a Parliament for all Ireland and _still more_ the expulsion of Irish
deputies from the English Parliament.... But I did not intend here to
enter Irish politics further than to indicate that while I am anti-
Gladstonian, I cry 'Ireland for the Irish,' 'India for the Indians,'
'Egypt for the Egyptians,"--_come what may_ to the English 'Empire'! [But
I have never read in history of any empire being ruined or harmed by
Justice, Mercy, or Purity.]
"I suppose I must say, 'Alas!' that the older I become [81 last June] the
more painfully my creed outgrows the limits of that which the mass of my
nation, and those whose co-operation I most covet, account _sacred_. I
dare not (unasked) send to friends what I print, yet I uphold the _sacred
moralities_ of Jew and Christian [Hindoo and Moslem] with all my heart.
Two mottos, or say _three_, suffice me:--
"The Lord reigneth.
"The righteous Lord loveth righteousness.
"The Lord requireth Justice, Mercy, and Sobriety of thought, not
ceremony or creed.
"Accept for all of you my warm wishes.
"Your Vegetarian friend of old,
"F. W. Newman."
[No date. Probably _1st March_, 1888.]
"My dear Friend,
"What a violent winter it has been in very many places! Nor is it all
over. After the awful 'blizzard' in New York, and its minor horrors
elsewhere, and the many fatal avalanches, I see this morning fresh
inundations in Hungary from sudden melting of snow. The sudden chill which
smote your husband was but a mild type, it seems, of the death fatal to so
many. Other deaths from cold, reported to us, have reminded us of your
great and sudden loss; yet what had I to say to you? I have thought that
the echo from your son in Calcutta may have made your grief break out
afresh.... I trust that time, which has not yet at all had softening
powers, has not added any fresh bitterness on a fuller realization....
"F. W. Newman."
"Alas! my dear friend, that your generous son Leonard had not more
experience how vain is a man's swimming power against the current of an
_ordinary_ river. I have known this in the Tigris, in the Nile, and even
in the Thames, though the bathing men in several places called me a first-
rate swimmer. Longfellow in 'Hiawatha' has touching and powerful lines on
_disasters never coming singly_, but as vultures accumulating round a huge
"Wisdom comes too late for the individual; yet it is not useless for
_others_ to inquire after causes. Did your husband pride himself on not
wearing a specially thick coat in winter and _roughing_ it as do some
vegetarians?... I rather believe that man is a tropical animal, hairless,
made for a climate warmer than ours, and needing much aid from clothing.
"F. W. Newman.
"Herewith I return your interesting scraps.
"_21st March_, 1888."
_Extract from a letter, 7th Jan_., 1889.
"More and more I believe, that as our clearest DUTY is in _this_ world, it
is wholesome that our most eager interest (_if unselfish_) should be in
this world and not (with Count Tolstoi) so full of eagerness for
immortality, that it is an effort with him to refrain from suicide! I
_accept with grateful_ submission whatever of after-life the Supreme Lord
gives--or does not give. My desire cannot affect His actions, and in fact
I _never_ have been able to work myself into _any_ desire for a future so
undefined and unimaginable. This will show how ill I deserve a little of
(shall I say) praise or compliment in your last.
"With kind salutes to your daughters,
"I am, your sincere friend,
"F. W. Newman."
"The Firs, West Cliff Gardens, "Bournemouth,
"_17th Aug_., 1889.
"My dear Friend,
"How extraordinary you must have thought my silence, after your kind
letter from this place. Perhaps you imputed it to illness. That is not
true. Yet it may be called half true: for illness of my wife is one topic,
and increased _weakness_ makes me slower in the smallest matters--such as
handling a book, or duly buttoning a shirt or coat: while I have been
dealing with proof-sheets from always two printers, sometimes four. My day
is cut short at each end--for in the colder months I cannot sit at my desk
until my fire is lighted, and my eyes are wearied before evening
candlelight. Meanwhile my unwilling correspondence has rather increased
"I am achieving a long hoped for work, in which of course I have to pay
the printers--i.e. to leave in some connective available form whatever
miscellaneous important printing I have ever published, ethico-political,
theological, economical, historical, aesthetic, critical, mathematical:
indeed, the mathematical is all new, not reprint.
"I take as vivid an interest in all that concerns public welfare, of
England, Ireland, and foreign countries, and hope I ever shall. More than
ever I see that our best work for God is to work for God's creatures, not
excluding gentle brutes.
"Is it possible that you are even now _here_? That would be very good
"Your lazy friend, with much apology,
"F. W. Newman."
"Northam, near Bideford,
"_19th May_, 1890.
"My dear Friend,
"Your two letters were indeed doubly welcome, and brought me virtual
pardon for two neglects, of which the worst was, the keeping locked up
(and still in prison!) the letters which you bade me to return...
"The _chief_ want of Cornwall, I was told by an old resident, is _soil_;
the rock is too near the surface. Herein art will do much in a few
generations. Attica and Palestine--stony soils--bore plentiful pine fruit.
Our Channel Islands utter the same thing. In England the _landlord_ is the
effectual starver of the soil. Bishop Stubbs, a first-rate authority on
agriculture, explains the immense excess of crops raised acre by acre
under _peasant_ culture, 'because the farmers' land is labour-starved.'"
* * * * *
"_15th July_, 1891.
"... The state of Ireland under existing factions would much have
discomposed your patriotic husband. As for me, who cannot pretend Irish
patriotism, things now look better.... But the aspect on the whole is to
me far more encouraging than alarming. The reign of false aristocracy is
fast declining; the rising powers everywhere ask for _justice_ between
orders and (as never before) between the two sexes, and the power of women
is about to signalize itself in most valuable directions--for the benefit
of _both_ sexes, and for the first time to claim nationally that moral and
Christian Right shall be the aim of Law.
"But I confess if we wish to attract ancient nations to Christianity, we
have first to reconsider our creed fundamentally, a terrible summons to
Protestants as well as Catholics....
"I have not with me _your last_, and I hope I do not evade any question.
"With best wishes to you and all yours,
"I am, your earnest friend,
"F. W. Newman."
"_27th Nov._, 1891.
"My dear Mrs. Kingsley,
"So many of my juniors die, that my friends when they do not hear of me
may well fancy that I am decrepit and declining. That is not true; only my
muscular strength is less. I cannot walk so far nor work so much, but no
vital organ seems to fail; nor can I write so much or so long....
"The longer I live, the more hopeful and more interesting I find the whole
world. In spite of crime, folly, and misery, the massive nations seem to
improve. The good--i.e. our sounder party--become wiser and stronger, as
well as in proportion more numerous. Our worst misrule has been in Ireland
and in India. The crisis in Ireland seems to me turned for the better.
Misrule in India is met not by insurrection, but by constitutional and
loyal, widely demanded Reform, such as, I feel convinced, the enlarged
franchise in England will support too warmly for the old routine to
resist. All the churches are seeking _moral_ reform.... Reforms lately too
great to think of, we now calmly contemplate as certainties of a near
future. Lord Herschell, an ex-Chancellor, pronounces that the legislative
power of the House of Lords is an evil unbearable. Scotland and Wales are
ready to demand abolition of the State Church. The English party called
Liberal (I think miscalled) desire the same, and within the last ten years
I come to think, rightly. Other reforms, too numerous to detail, cannot be
trifled with or the nation be blinded. While I wonder at all this, I see
that Scandinavia and Germany, even Belgium and France, are moving for
_moral_ objects, and also against war.
"Is there not plenty in all this to draw forth hope, joy, and
thankfulness, and in every conviction, that amidst all our tumult the Lord
reigneth? I rejoice that I have lived to see this day, and expect to
rejoice more while I live.
"How you have fared this year I seem not to know, but believe that you
have my earnest good wishes for you and yours.
"I am, yours most truly,
"F. W. Newman."
"My dear Friend,
"Your letter of July 12th from Margate has reached me here, to which place
I came because my wife five years ago gained such health here, and all the
year and past autumn she has never felt sure of health at home. I cannot
think she manages herself rightly, yet she believes, with no small reason,
that I am not a safe traveller without her; yet of the two _I_ seem the
stronger. She is better here, perhaps, because she is more in the outer
air. I must add, I too have recovered from my fall, and am fairly well,
though I do not pretend to be strong yet (as the French would say), _Que
voulez vous?_ when I am past 88.... I am glad to learn about your
children. I have good hope concerning the coming future, though the foes
of progress call us faddists because we think _national morality_
paramount to vicious routine. May but the Good prevail!
"... I now argue _for_ Fish-food as not to be forbidden or frowned on, but
do not lessen my esteem of our Manchester V. E. M. Society, nor lessen my
contribution to it, though they can only receive me as an outsider.
"I turn a vegetarian argument against them on the Fish question, but I
have no time now for it.
"I am bringing out another volume on Paul of Tarsus, which, when complete,
I hope to send you.
"With warm salutes, I am yours,
"Francis Wm. Newman.
"My wife desires her kind thought to be named."
"_1st Nov._, 1892.
"My dear Madam,
"I have not time nor strength to search out your last kind letter, which
perhaps informed me when your two sons from India were expected and when
they were to leave you....
"I do fairly well, if I potter on in my old solid routine. My 88th year
makes pretension to _strength_; but when so many moans are heard about
_neuralgia_, not to say influenza, I feel myself much favoured by the
total absence of pain, except merely what is incidental to a thin body
with some sharp bones. In rising from bed I am aware of small discomforts,
which I shake off on standing upright, and similarly after sitting in one
posture. I have not enough suffering to claim pity. I can wish the same to
all my friends, especially to my wife.
"To my judgment the world ... is in an entirely novel state, which
forebodes a wholly new future, and requires new thoughts, new policy in
our rulers, _with much higher_ MORALITY if grave overthrow is to be
"The United States of America _ought_ to be our leader in chief, but
mainly through ... the dreadful colour war that is year by year waxing
worse. The only thing clear to me is, that their _home_ calamity must for
a long while hinder their giving aid to the world. The policy in Russia is
so fatal, and its result presages an overturn of the scale of the France
of 1793. This makes all foresight impossible, except that every State is
safest which least violates the laws of universal morality. That England
can avoid great retribution seems to me scarcely probable. But as soon as
morality is allowed to speak loud in high places, I believe our main
dangers will quickly disappear. The prospect cannot be defined, but is to
me of intense interest. Britain seems to me immensely superior to its own
ruling classes in goodness, and the good is sure _at length to prevail_,
to the benefit also of your Ireland.
"With kindest best wishes, I am,
"Most truly yours,
"F. W. Newman."
LANDOWNERS AND WAGE RECEIVERS
BY FRANCIS W. NEWMAN
CONTRIBUTED BY MR. WILLIAM JAMIESON
[Presumably written in 1886, when Newman was Vice-President of the "Land
Nationalization Society." It was kindly sent me by Mr. William Jamieson,
who was Hon. Sec. to the above Society at the time. I wish to express here
my sense of gratitude to him for much help and information regarding his
own work with Newman in 1886.]
The tendency of English industry for a long time back has been to exalt
the land_lord_, or chief man in any locality, into land _owner_ (a phrase
implying that no one but he has legal right in the land), and to convert a
larger and larger fraction of the nation into wage receivers, liable to be
cast out of work either at the simple will, or by the imprudence or
misfortune of their paymaster. In order to analyse the natural results of
this juncture, we must follow the method received in Political Economy, of
taking an imaginary case, far simpler than any which is actually met in
human life, so as to make all the conditions of the problem known to us by
hypotheses. Let us suppose an island, secluded commercially from the rest
of the world, and peopled by a vast working lower class under three small
ruling castes. The island is physically divisible into three parts:
_first_, marshy coast land, abounding with shrubs, canes, rushes of many
kinds, from which human garments of various sorts can be made; _secondly_
rolling land, eminently suitable for the cultivation of grain, and of
certain fruit trees and roots on which the whole population live;
_thirdly_, the mountain land, on which are timber trees and copses
affording firewood; also quarries of stone, gravel pits, lime rocks, and
mines of copper and iron. Of the marshy coast land, the _second_ lordly
caste is acknowledged to be absolute owner; the first or highest caste
owns the rolling land, which is the arable and cultivated portion; and the
_third_ caste owns the mountain land and its products. From the first
comes the food of the native, from the second comes the clothing, from the
third the houses. It is possible that gravel, lime, and stone can be found
in rolling land, and that fruit trees either exist or if planted would
bear fruit in the marsh land, some even in the mountains; but the ruling
castes follow ancient custom, and the working caste has no right to
innovate. They work _under_ and _for_ their masters, and receive wages _in
kind_--that is, as an equivalent for their work, a definite but liberal
supply of the three necessary articles--food, clothes, and house
accommodation. Money does not exist, nor tame animals in our island. To
add sharpness to our imaginary case, and to make argument intelligible, we
must assign definite numbers to the working population; but from whatever
numbers we start, the argument and the practical result will be the same.
Let us suppose the first caste to employ _ten thousand_ cultivators; the
second caste to employ _three thousand_ knitters and plaiters; the third
caste _one thousand_ masons, miners, and carpenters. Each of these castes
furnishes to the workman such rude tools as are necessary, but these
remain the property of the masters, not of the workmen.
The soil and climate being favourable, and the habits of the people
simple, a few hours of work suffice; and like many barbarians, they have
been accustomed to much idle time, which they employ in sport; moreover,
by the connivance or good of the superior caste, they have been accustomed
to pick or steal largely the leaves of an intoxicating grass, and the
masters to whom the whole produce of their labour belongs, have large
superfluity after paying their wages; hereby the lordlings easily feed
domestic servants and exhibit themselves in gay clothing with superior
But the tendency of the workers to drunkenness shocks a certain religious
preacher, who traces the vice to idleness and sport. He goes about the
island urging upon them a higher morality. They widely receive him as a
divine messenger, and under his exhortation they become more industrious
and more conscientious in their work; not only working more hours, and
curtailing their sport, but in every hour using more diligence. In
consequence, the masters are enriched by stores somewhat embarrassing.
Grain comes in, more than they want: their barns begin to overflow.
Garments are too many for the warehouses. Huge piles of timber block up
the yards, besides masses of stones, and heaps of other superfluous
material. Before long, the masters conclude that their simplest course for
checking supply is by lessening the number of the workmen. The increased
diligence of the people (we may suppose) has made the work of three men on
an average as efficient in all tasks as were _five_ men previously. Thus
sixty do the work of a hundred; and the masters discover that what had
been the normal average produce will be maintained, if they dismiss forty
out of every hundred dependents. Not only so; but retaining their usual
surplus, which we may call their rent, at the old level, they will be able
to raise the wages to these workmen whom they still keep, since instead of
a hundred they will have only sixty now to feed and clothe; and only for
these do they feel morally responsible. Forthwith they actually dismiss
forty out of every hundred. Each landowner cares for his own workmen as by
a sort of social duty; but for those who are discharged he feels no
responsibility. In the average result the landowners who had had a hundred
workmen, but now only sixty, take as increased rent the food and clothes
of ten, and use it to add ten servants to their domestic retinue, but add
to the wage of the sixty whom they keep at work, the food and clothes
previously received by thirty of the forty whom they have dismissed. Thus
they raise wages by one half--that is, they pay in the proportion of one
hundred and fifty instead of one hundred.
The labourers, clothworkers, and builders who are dismissed (the remaining
thirty out of every hundred) being without work and without houses, are at
once in a state of beggary. Only by betaking themselves to some _new
industry_ will they be able to get a livelihood, and it rests with them to
devise their new industries. Meanwhile they can only subsist on charity,
which is doled out to them chiefly by the fellow feeling of those of their
class who are still in work. The increased wages of these enable them to
be liberal; in fact, the increase has on an average been just what the
discarded men previously earned.
A parliament of the higher classes is in due course assembled, and a
member came (?) to the distress of so many men out of work. But a
distinguished literary writer, member of a Politico-Economical Club ...
eases the consciences of the higher castes by pointing out that in fact
the island is much increased in prosperity. Rents had, no doubt, risen,
but only as one mark of prosperity, for their increase was in a much
smaller percentage than that of the rise of wages. These had increased by
the very remarkable ratio of 50 per cent. It was true that many men were
out of work. That was to be regretted; but it was a _passing phenomenon_.
They would before long find work somewhere or somehow.
The discarded workmen hitherto had had no great variety in their tasks,
and were always set to work by others without exercise of their own
inventive powers. Yet out of a large number of men there are always many
of good talents, some of original genius. The idea of many new forms of
industry springs up. Oil for food has been hitherto raised from the olive
tree; now an ingenious man would extract oil from several shrubs or trees,
and make candles, or else oil for lamps. A second wishes to plait carpet
socks, sandals, and umbrellas. A third would make boats, with ropes, and
oars, and sails. A fourth would add wheelbarrows and casks to the baskets
already in use. A fifth has noticed wild ponies on the mountains, and
desires to catch them and make needful harness. A sixth would plant fruit
trees in gardens, and not take the chance of wild fruit. But on every such
plan they are at once checkmated: first, because all these natural
products are accounted the absolute property of the upper castes, and must
be bought; next, most of their new schemes need a yard or a garden and
right of access by a road, and workshops, beside a dwelling-house. But the
land, as well as the raw produce, is inaccessible to them; yet on them,
hungry and destitute, is laid the task of originating the new trades. Can
this seizure of the land and its natural products as the private property
of a limited number of families be morally justified? In its origin was it
attained by violence and robbery? Else, has it grown up by gradual and
cunning perversion of law? These three questions point at the principle of
landowning. Another question rises: Is it good for a nation for _the great
majority_ to retain life only on condition that there is someone ready to
pay wages for their work and able to discard them? In the imaginary case
thus drawn the increased industry of the workers which produced
superfluity is the beginning (to them) of change for the worse. Their
spontaneous industry causes overproduction, and leads to the dismissal of
many workmen. Our economists treat every increase of productiveness as an
unalloyed good. It is good, provided that men are not kept idle by it.
Evidently there is no national gain from sixty men doing the work of a
hundred, if thereby forty men are tossed into unwilling idleness, and must
live on charity, some of the forty losing all habits of industry, and
perhaps becoming criminal. This is a national loss.
Further, our hypothesis that the men voluntarily become more industrious
may be called an extreme and unlikely case. For that very reason it has
been here adopted. The ordinary causes give us _a fortiori_ argument,
because they are ever in action. _Skill_ naturally increases among men
employed continuously on any work. In a settled, industrious nation small
improvements accumulate. In modern Europe the cultivation of mechanics and
chemistry conduces to a steady improvement in tools, a cheapening also of
tools, and introduction of such more complex tools as we call "machines,"
by dint of all which human work constantly becomes more effective, so that
fewer and fewer workmen are needed for _the same amount_ of produce. Thus
the normal and natural order of things, wherever _the wage-system exists_
tends to dispense with some, or many, of the workmen. This is a clear gain
if the men thus displaced _are instantly taken up for some other service_.
But this seldom can happen; often their old skill is made useless, and
before they can learn a new trade they become demoralized, and many
perish. The loss of their industrial position is a grievance and a
national mischief which our "Economists" are prone to undervalue, and pass
Let us contrast the case of men who work not for a master, not for wages,
but for themselves; holding their own little homestead, from which they
cannot be driven out. Such is the case of back-settlers in the Far West of
the United States. Each perhaps carries out with him a box of stout
clothes, some agricultural tools and important seeds, and either _squats_
on a bit of wild land, or by a very easy payment buys possession of the
Federal Government. This bit of land the settler counts _his own_. With
the aid of friendly neighbours he builds the rude log-hut. The felling of
the trees needed to construct it makes an opening for small culture. In a
very few years he raises more food than his family needs. If the season
and the roads favour, he sends his superfluous barrels of corn and fruit
eastward, and recovers an equivalent. But what happens if wide distance
part him from civilized towns, if the roads are swampy and not made by
art, and the conveyance of food be too onerous to remunerate him? All his
neighbours being in like case, there is a local Overproduction of food;
yet not one of the little community is thereby made a pauper. No one is
able to expel them from their rude homes, or forbid their cultivation.
They are not made outcasts or idlers. Simply they are kept poorer, than
with access to a market they would have been; but they lessen their
production of food, and either with the females of the family work at
clothing, or execute carpentering. In many ways they can use their time to
produce articles which they could have bought in a better finished state
had the market of the East been open to them. The present writer was
informed by an Englishman who in the American Civil War had penetrated
very far West, that he had seen with his own eyes a colonist _burning
wheat as fuel_, because he had it in so great excess. Probably he had
plenty of green maize for his horses and pigs.
Whenever a man retains a house of his own, and has neither rent to pay nor
any excessive taxation, if only he have a moderate plot of land for
workshop and garden, he is not made destitute, though he do not directly
raise food for his household, but works at some domestic manufacture. Our
"Spitalfields" poor who fought a long battle with the hand-loom against
the loom driven by steam power, might not have been at length utterly
ruined if they had had freehold houses and some small garden in a healthy
country. If the system of huge factories had had to compete with domestic
manufacture conducted by private families living in small freeholds, it is
possible that the battle might simply have driven the independent workers
either to buy small steam engines for their aid, or what now is more
obvious, to hire power from some company, as from a Gas Company or Water
Company, which had it in superfluity. Such, in the opinion of some far-
sighted men, may very possibly be even now the solution of our difficulty.
At present the Trade Unions gravely mistake the end for which they ought
to strive. They mischievously unite two objects. First, they are Benefit
Societies. The funds of a Benefit Society ought to be forbidden by law to
be spent in warring against capitalists; this enables the directors, or a
majority of them, to confiscate the whole contributions of any member who
disapproves of the war.
Next, the main effort to raise the status of the workmen is ill-directed
towards raising or sustaining the _rate_ of wages, else towards dictating
concerning the management. This effort is ill-directed, first, because it
is liable to aim at an impossibility--i.e. to extort from a master a wage
so high that he prefers not to light his engine fires; next, because to
raise the _rate_ of wages does not secure continuous work, and idle days
neither tend to sobriety nor give pay. Strikes which inflict vast loss
upon the workers cause loss to the masters also, and make them less able
to pay high wages. But beyond all these, if the Unions were wise, they
would struggle against the system of wage-earning, wherever it is new and
needless; that is, as far as possible, strive to recover the system of
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