Typos p. 92, n. 1: latters' [= latter's]; p. 95: unwieldly [= unwieldy]; p. 105: Proprietory [= Proprietary]; p. 105: proprietory [= proprietary]
Conservatism in Practice
It will readily be admitted that, in order to perceive and to be guided by truths that are eternal that is to say, in order to be realistic, a certain healthiness and normality of outlook are necessary, 1 and that these
1 It is impossible to repeat here all I have written on the essential "taste" of the true aristocrat, which enables him to select and reject with soundness and certainty; but the reader who is sufficiently interested may find a useful explanation of this matter in my Defence of Aristocracy, Chapters I, II, and III.
It is not a mere accident that, traditionally, the Tories and Conservatives of England have been the denizens of rural districts (the land) and the Whigs, Liberals and Radicals the denizens of towns (the boroughs); nor is it mere chance that further connects commerce and factory industry, and therefore urban populations with the Romantic, and agriculture and rural industry with the Realistic attitude of mind. These connections are as inevitable as the connection between vice and crime, and misery and opiates. 1 The fact that in the thirteenth century the burgess's "want of military zeal, and humble equipment of arms", were a subject for mockery, and that the contempt for trade "was a prevalent note" in the literature of the period, 2 shows that already in the earliest phase
1 If it were pure accident that in England the Tory and Conservative Party were primarily associated with the land and agriculture, we should find that this association failed to be exemplified elsewhere. This, however, is not so. In Germany the Conservative Party, until at least 1914, was also a land and agricultural party, just as the National Liberals were the industrial party, and the political parallel with England was as complete as it could possibly be expected to be in view of the deep ethnic and social differences between the two countries. (See on this point Henri Lictenberger, The Evolution of Modern Germany, p. 183.)
2 Mary Bateson. Op. Cit. pp. 261262.
At all events, not only the open-air life of the country, but also the constant and attentive contact with eternal and natural laws, which agriculture enjoins upon those engaged in it, must have tended to rear in the rural populations a much healthier and more realistic attitude to life than that which could be cultivated in the towns, and it is not astonishing, therefore, that when at the time of the Grand Rebellion the first great national division occurred, on a great political issue, the Tory-Rural-Agricultural party should have found itself arrayed in the protection and defence of the Crown, against the Whig-Urban Commercial-Trading party. True, Tory and Whig, as the designation of the two leading parties in the State, were not yet known; but in the two sides that fought about the person of the King, the temperament
1 G. S. Coulton. Op. Cit. pp. 134135.
Charles I, as I have pointed out, was probably the first Tory, and the greatest Conservative. He believed in securing the personal freedom and happiness of the people. He protected the people not only against the rapacity of their employers in trade and manufacture, but also against the oppression of the mighty and the great. He was no respecter of persons when it was a matter of administering justice or discipline. He mitigated, as far as he could, the evils of local misfortunes, in the form of bad or poor harvests, by imposing duties of mutual assistance on the part of his subjects, and by preventing exploiters from drawing profit from the momentary disadvantages of a particular district. He believed wholeheartedly and sincerely in his religion and in the established Church, possessed the taste which is an essential component of the qualitative point of view, 1 and, moreover, was a determined opponent of all fraud and commercial dishonesty. In all these matters he revealed the attitude which leads to permanence, which in fact constitutes the only real way of preserving a nation's identity, and thus showed himself to be a sound and enlightened Conservative. To the modern politician it is also interesting to note that Charles I was the originator of the Tory principle of a "blue water" policy, which aims at maintaining the supremacy of England by a powerful navy rather than by a large army; and indeed it was through his efforts in this
1 It has been said that Charles I "had a better taste in the fine arts and in elegant literature than any King of England before or since" (Political History of England. Vol. VII, p. 126), and it is certain that, whatever power England has shown in the graphic arts has been due entirely to his initiative. The pictures and statues which he was never tired of collecting throughout his anxious reign, formed the first grand art treasure that this nation ever possessed.
Thus began the tradition of the Tory and agricultural party, as the supporters of the Church and of a powerful Crown, and the tradition of the Whig-Commercial party, with its Dissenting elements, as the opponents, if not always of the Church, at least of a powerful Crown. It was this latter party which was aiming at, and ultimately realised, the ideal of a tame, amenable and so-called "Constitutional" sovereign, and which, with the realisation of this ideal, removed the one great barrier to the complete exploitation of the people. 1 Had Charles I allowed himself to be tamed and had he delivered up the country to the pack of titled and ignoble exploiters who ultimately fell upon it at his death, he might have saved his head. But he was too realistic to capitulate to the bible-thumping and fantastic Chadbands whose venal motives he only too clearly divined, and the consequence was that England lost not only her greatest monarch, but also a part of her constitution which, though of inestimable value, has never since been restored. With Charles I, the last sovereign
1 Cf. Disraeli, Sybil (Longman, Green & Co., 1899), p. 488. "As the power of the Crown has diminished, the privileges of the people have disappeared, till at length the Sceptre has become a pageant, and its subject has degenerated again into a serf."
It is true that Charles II was restored to a position very much more powerful than that of his father, and the Cavalier Parliament with which he had to deal was both loyal and amenable. But the recovery was only short lived. Owing to the King's dissolute character and his life-long flirtation with France and Catholicism, it was impossible for his loyal followers to allow him the power he might easily have wielded, had he possessed his father's qualities; and when his brother James ascended the throne, what Mr. Maurice Woods terms "the inherent Tory instinct for the Protestant Cause", 1 forced the Tory Party's hand and caused them very reluctantly to abandon the Crown altogether. They thus assisted their opponents in making further headway towards a "limited" or "constitutional" monarchy, and when once again, at the end of Anne's reign, when still very strong, they might have revived the Tory ideal and reality of a powerful Crown, their opportunity was once more frustrated by the religion of the legitimate heir to the throne. This not only shattered their party's chance for over half a century, but it also postponed, apparently sine die the possibility of restoring to the Constitution the full weight of the sovereign power.
George I, who could not speak English, and who communicated with his ministers in bad Latin, was obliged to refrain from attending the meetings of his Cabinet, and thus established a precedent which was virtually a constitutional change entirely to the taste of the Whigs who were in power. The Cabinet in his reign achieved complete independence, and, as he was led to distrust the Tories, because of their supposed Jacobite tendencies, he handed over the reins of
1 A History of the Tory Party (1904), p. 20.
When we remember, therefore, that the Whigs were closely associated with the Dissenters and the urban and trading section of the community, 1 and that during the first half of the eighteenth century they had everything their own way, we cannot be surprised that those changes, which Charles I saw approaching, and which culminated in 1760 in the dawn of the Industrial Revolution and the complete exploitation of the people, were given every possible opportunity for development.
The monarchs who had appeared after the Restoration had shown the true Tory spirit of Charles I only in imperfect detail. Charles II, for instance, had realised the importance of the principle of identity in expansion, and had added a good deal of territory to the British possessions oversea. He was possibly the first conscious Imperialist, and had declared himself well pleased at the time of his marriage, with the accessions to the power of the British Raj which his wife brought him. He saw that they would promote trade and prosperity at home and allow for expan-
1 See Roylance Kent, The Early History of the Tories (London, 1908), p. 269. "The Whigs and Dissenters terms which at this time were unhappily almost convertible did in fact monopolise a large share of the business in the great industrial centres." See also p. 270: "How closely Whiggism and Dissent were associated with the industrial and urban population the Tory and Church party clearly saw, and they did not hesitate to say what they thought in pretty vigorous terms."
1 In his instructions to Sir Richard Fanshawe, who had gone on a special mission to Portugal just before the royal marriage, Charles II wrote: "The principal advantages we propose to ourself by this entire conjunction with Portugal is the advancement of the trade of this nation and the enlargement of our territories and dominions." (See Political History of England. Vol. VIII, p. 22.)
2 Pennsylvania and Carolina were also fresh colonies founded in his reign.
3 The words Whig and Tory, as the names of political parties, were not heard of until 1680, and, as every one knows, they were first chosen as terms of mutual abuse. In 1680 Shaftesbury, who had just been dismissed from the Presidency of the Council, repeatedly petitioned the King to allow Parliament to meet, and his opponents likewise appealed to the King and expressed their abhorrence at this attempt to force the King's will. The two parties were first known as Petitioners and Abhorrers, and ultimately as Whigs and Tories. The King's party called the Petitioners Whigs, or wild Covenanting rebels, and the Petitioners called the King's supporters Tories, or Popish outlaws, who found a refuge in the bogs of Ireland and gained their living by highway robbery." (See Political History of England. Vol. VIII, p. 170.)
With regard to James II, it is clear that he misunderstood the nature of the function of the Crown in England. He lacked the historical sense, which would have helped him to discover that, traditionally, the monarch and people were one, and that therefore he could no more realise aims which were purely personal, against the consensus of public opinion and still hope to retain his subjects' approval, than a parent could fanatically enforce his whims and fancies on his family without forfeiting their love and trust. James had many qualities, he was in many respects a better man than his brother, and he knew the value of authority; but he was too fanatical to be a patriot
1 To say, as Maurice Woods says (op. cit. p. 39) that "Charles died, as he lived, at once a great rogue and a great gentleman," is to state a contradiction in terms. What does the word "gentleman" mean in this context? Obviously it means nothing. It only serves the purpose of a smart antithesis, which is not helpful, and which is also misleading.
Had William III been English by birth and reigned longer, his reign might have been an exemplary one in history. Although he was by no means such a good or gifted man as Charles I, he seems to have been more like him than was any other of the later Stuarts, and had it not been for the Tories' initial disinclination to recognise him, owing to their belief in the indefeasible Divine Right of Kings, his reign might have afforded them a particularly favourable opportunity of establishing their power. As it was, they only came into their own at the very end of his reign, and during that of his successor may be said to have reached their zenith. Then followed the eclipse of which mention has already been made, and those modifications in the
1 Op. cit. p. 320.
2 See Political History of England. Vol. VIII, p. 63. "The opinion which the French ambassador, Cominges, attributed to Charles, that Roman Catholicism was more suited to absolute authority than any other religion, was held by the King with surprising tenacity."
With the help of the Tories in 1760, George III might possibly have restored the Crown to that place in the Constitution, which it had enjoyed up to the time of Charles I, and which alone gave to the Constitution its health, its balance, and its capacity for achieving permanence. But, unfortunately for England, George III was not the man to play the part of the Patriot King. Instead of looking back to the Plantagenets, he looked to France and Germany for his example; and, with the image of Louis XIV and Frederick II before his mind, proceeded to reign as the leader of a party, instead of as the leader of the people. The elder Pitt could have shown him the proper way to rule as a Patriot King, by resting his authority on popular support. But George III got rid of Pitt, and thus was confirmed that tradition, already established in the two previous reigns, of a monarch separated from, instead of being one with his people.
The consequences of this new idea of monarchy have already been hinted at. That they were ultimately disastrous both to the Crown and to the Lords, is now a matter of history. But, if we wish to discover one of the fundamental causes of the wretched condition of the people in the early part of the nineteenth century, of their unscrupulous exploitation by the powerful landowners and commercial magnates, and of the total neglect of their health and happiness and welfare, until the day when independent and unofficial reformers took up their cause, we are constrained to study the degradation of the power of the Crown and of its chief function as the protector of the people, which, beginning with the Grand Rebellion, was
1760, however, is the date usually assigned to the first changes which inaugurated the Industrial Revolution. What did the Tories do, when once this Revolution had begun, to shield the nation from its worst consequences and to apply their party principles? Together with the aristocratic party, as I have already shown elsewhere, the Tories did very little. True, they did not come into power until later in the reign, 1 but half a century of Whig tyranny and corruption in England had established a disastrous tone in the country, which seems to have affected the whole of the possessing and governing classes; and, except for the fact that towards the end of the eighteenth century and after, the Tories, following the policy inaugurated by the Whig, Chatham, became more and more imperialistic in their conscious aims, and thus expressed that essential aspect of Conservatism which consists in providing for national expansion, there is little to distinguish them from their political opponents.
The changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution were enormous and far-reaching. The invention of Kay's flying shuttle in 1738, and of Hargreaves' Spinning Jenny in 1767, were transforming the cotton industry, and leading to a vast increase of output. The improvements of Arkwright and Crompton in 17691779, and Cartwright's Power-loom in 1785 led to further and prodigious developments of this industry. And when Watt's steam engine appeared in 1785, it completed the transfor-
1 It was not till the constituencies rallied to the younger Pitt, in the general election of 1784, that the Tory Party may be said to have been recreated in full force.
But the catalogue of the changes which ultimately consummated the Industrial Revolution have too often been recited in detail to require recapitulation in these pages. And since we are more concerned with the social consequences of the transformation, than with the nature of the transformation itself, there is no need to enter into further particulars.
The immediate consequences, as far as the people were concerned, were: (a) an enormous increase in urban populations, particularly in the north; (b) a depopulation of the country-side; (c) the overcrowding of urban areas; and (d) absolute chaos in the methods of employment, the hours of labour, and the rules as to the sex, age, and health of the worker.
Now here were obviously many problems which
It will now be our task to attempt a brief sketch of what was done by the governing classes, and incidentally by the Tories, to meet the new situation created by the Industrial Revolution. And, since we cannot do this more vividly than by concentrating our attention upon certain still perplexing problems, we propose to examine the history of Health, Food,
But, first of all, let us recall what had been happening in England in that other half of the Tory Party the aristocrats who, according to our conception, ought always to be united with the Conservatives of every class, if only on the question of qualitative selection, to preserve the identity of the nation.
From the moment of the collapse of the Tory party at the end of Anne's reign, the powerful landed aristocracy ruled England as a sort of Whig oligarchy for over half a century. Using their great wealth to corrupt the towns and to maintain their ascendancy in the Commons (hence the "pocket" and "rotten" boroughs, which were a Whig and Liberal creation) they governed the country under the nose of a tame and almost functionless monarch, entirely for their own ends, quite regardless of their sacred duties as the custodians of its identity, and consequently neglectful of the condition of the people. They established a precedent, not only of heartless exploitation, but also of purely quantitative valuations regarding change, according to which every kind of innovation was allowed to be thrust upon the people without either question or demur. For over fifty years England was indeed a pure oligarchy, and we cannot speak of the Constitution as having functioned during this period; for the King was a figurehead, the Commons a docile body of paid employees, and the people and the Tory squires were excluded from any share in the government.
With George III's desire to rule, a salutary change did certainly come over the country. The Whig oligarchy was gradually dethroned and the Tories allowed to come into their own. But one feature remained more or less the same the Commons
1 The false but popular association of Toryism and Conservatism with Capitalism, which figured so prominently in the elections of 1905 and 1910, probably dates from this period. Because, although owing to their connection with the towns and urban populations the great Whigs soon made their peace with the smoke-stackocracy and the commercial magnates, the memory of the latters' close association with the Tories did not die out.
The effect of the French Revolution on this condition of things was to rivet, even more tightly than before, the bonds uniting the new propertied classes to the Tory Party, which stood for order, authority, and tradition; and the consequence was, when Mr. Grey in 1792 urged a proposal for Parliamentary Reform, Pitt refused to accept it, and in his refusal had the whole of the Tories and wealthy classes behind him. Even individuals among the common people were not allowed to express the view that Parliamentary reform was necessary; and in 1793 a common bill-sticker was imprisoned for six months for posting up an address to that effect, while a man named Hudson was sentenced to a fine of £200 and two years' imprisonment for proposing a toast to the "French Republic".
Had the rulers of the nation really understood the principles of Conservative and aristocratic politics at this period in history, there is no doubt that they could have established a precedent in wise rulership which would never have been forgotten. They could have averted the cry for Parliamentary Reform by proving through deeds that they were the best custodians of the people's liberties and interests; they could have averted the Trade Union movement by showing that no one could have closer to heart than they the welfare and independence of the worker; and they could have established for all time the people's trust in the governing classes, by doing what was the least that their privileged position dictated i.e. governing
The misery of the people ultimately compelled the people to seek their salvation in self-government. That is the best comment on the way in which Toryism availed itself of the chance it had been given towards the close of the eighteenth and during the first decades of the nineteenth centuries. "The chief propelling power of democracy in England," says J. Holland Rose, "was misery." 2
I have briefly indicated the vast changes that took place after 1760 in England. At the time of George III's accession, the population of England and Wales was about 6,000,000; in 1801 it was 9,000,000; and
1 It was not until 1824 that, under a Tory government, the laws against workmen's combinations were repealed. But there would never have been any need of workmen's combinations if the governing classes had in the sixty years, between the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, and the end of the Liverpool Ministry, realised their responsibilities, and the immense advantage of protecting voluntarily over the ignominy of being forced by the working population to allow them to protect themselves.
2 The Rise of Democracy.
Up to the time of the Grand Rebellion, when the King was still the protector of the people, the health of the nation and its welfare had been the object of constant government concern. It was the princes in the Middle Ages who, without any of our medical knowledge to guide them, extirpated leprosy in Europe. The measures adopted were frequently what we, with our modern sentimental tendency to sacrifice the greater for the less, would consider harsh and cruel 1; but if as realists our duty is to consider the sound and healthy first, then obviously it is impossible to be considerate in regard to a small minority of people who are a danger to the rest of the community. At the present day the number of the sick is so great and so unwieldly, owing to our sentimental tendency to consider them first, that the sound are steadily being crushed out of existence. At all events, to speak only of the method of isolation enforced for the disease of leprosy in the Middle Ages, it is generally admitted that this was triumphantly successful; and, by the end of the sixteenth century, leprosy had died out at least in northern Europe. Even in regard to the so-called "black plague", the Kings of Europe in the Middle Ages did the best they could, according to the knowledge of the day, to ward it off and to prevent its extension. And, had they only known that rats were carriers of the
1 For a brief explanation of some of these methods, see my Man: An Indictment. Chapter VI.
We also find such matters as the pollution of the Thames meeting with official notice as early as 1345, and the tradition of cleanliness in village and town streets must have been well established, because we know that the common people, who were represented in Wellington's army in Spain from 18081812, inherited this tradition, and astonished the Spaniards by their care of the streets in which they were billeted. Besides, we have historical evidence that punishments were meted out to polluters of streets and thoroughfares certainly as early as the sixteenth century; for, in the Court of Rolls of Stratford-on-Avon there are the records of two prosecutions of Shakespeare's father (one in 1552 and another in 1558) for depositing filth in a public street. It is possibly true that the inside of the houses may not have been particularly clean, but in this connection we must allow for the powerful tradition of individual liberty in England all through history, or at least up to the time of the Commonwealth, and we must therefore assume that great personal latitude was allowed in this matter. 1 Probably, however, the last government, before the nineteenth century, that paid sufficient heed to the health and sanitary condition of the people, was that
1 In a letter from Erasmus to Cardinal Wolsey's doctor, the state of the English house in the sixteenth century was described as follows: "As to the floors, they are usually made with clay, covered with rushes that grow in the fens, which are so slightly removed now and then, that the lower part remains sometimes for twenty years together, and in it a collection of spittle, vomit, urine of dogs and men, beer, scraps of fish and other filthiness not to be named." (See Dr. C. E. A. Winslow, The Evolution and Significance of the Modern Public Health Campaign, 1923, p. 7.)
But from that time onwards little seems to have been done to shield the people of England from the consequences of the vast changes that took place during the latter half of the eighteenth century, and the fact that, despite the enormous increase of the population and the resulting overcrowding in urban areas to which reference has already been made, at the time when Victoria ascended the throne, public health was virtually unrecognised by the legislature, shows. the extent to which the governing classes, both Whig and Tory, had neglected their sacred duties.
It is true, that in 1774, a government that was largely Tory passed two acts for the securing of better sanitary and health conditions in prisons, but although the reforms were badly needed, they effected nothing for the mass of the people. And, when Victoria became Queen in 1837 the Statute Book contained only one Act providing for quarantine, and a measure for the granting of £2,000 annually by Parliament for the support of a national Vaccine Board.
No further comment is required upon the Tory administrations that had witnessed the enormous
In 1843 a Special Royal Commission was appointed to enquire into the health of large towns and populous districts, and the report of this Commission in 18441845 is said to have started the movement for water supply and sewerage throughout the world.
Nevertheless, eighty years had elapsed since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. In that period the population of England and Wales had trebled itself, and there had been nine Tory administrations lasting in all over half a century. Obviously then, neither the Tories nor the Aristocrats had understood one of the most elementary of their duties the care of the body and of health among the people and they had been steadily paving the way for that class of reform which, instead of issuing from the heads of wise leaders, arises from popular discontent and revolt.
What happened subsequently to 1845 may now be briefly summarised. In 1848, under a Liberal
1 It was Sir Edwin Chadwick and Sir John Simon who started the sanitary awakening.
1 This is reminiscent of Macaulay's famous words in his fourth speech on the Reform Bill: "Reformers are compelled to legislate
In the previous chapter I referred to the prevalence of qualitative valuations in England throughout the Middle Ages, and I showed how this state of affairs affected the work of craftsmen, controlled their gilds, and was also extended to the question of food supply and food preparation. As early as 1203 a proclamation was made throughout the kingdom, enforcing the legal obligations of assize as regards bread, and by the Act, 51 Henry III, Statute 6, the public were protected from the dishonest dealings of bakers, vintners, brewers and others. I have already mentioned how severe were the punishments meted out to those who infringed this law, and similar laws on the Continent 1
fast just because bigots will not legislate early. Reformers are compelled to legislate in times of excitement, because bigots will not legislate in times of tranquility." (See Macaulay, by J. Cotter Morrison (London, 1882), p. 22.)
1 See pp. 4041 ante. According to the Liber Albus (Trans. by
So far then, the neglect of the nation's food may be regarded as a Puritan-Tradesman-Whig tradition. What happened later?
H. T. Riley, p. 232), 51 Hen. III, Stat. 6, was being severely enforced under Edward I, for we read: "If any default shall be found in the bread of a baker of the city, the first time, let him be drawn upon a hurdle from the Guildhall to his own house, through the great street where there may be most people assembled, and through the great streets that are most dirty, with the faulty loaf hanging from his neck. If a second time he shall be found committing the same offence, let him be drawn from the Guildhall through the great street of Chepe in the manner aforesaid to the pillory, and let him be put upon the pillory and remain there at least one hour in the day. And the third time that such default shall be found, he shall be drawn, and the oven shall be pulled down, and the baker made to foreswear the trade within the city for ever." To our sentimental modern feelings, this sounds very cruel, because we are more inclined to pity the baker who swindles and is punished than the crowd who eat impure bread as the result of his dishonesty.
Nevertheless, a certain measure of protection was afforded to the public by the Tory Act of 1816, against the adulteration of beer, for we find that it was not until 1847 that a Liberal Government allowed the brewers to darken the colour of worts or beer by means of a concoction of their own supposed to be made from sugar.
Apart from these acts, however, we must understand that nothing whatsoever was done after the repeal of the Act 51, Henry III, Statute 6, to place the public in anything like the same advantageous position that it had enjoyed under the Plantagenet Kings; and in this department alone, therefore, we are entitled to regard the whole of the movement of alleged "Progress" covering a century and a half as a slow process of decline from the Middle Ages to our own Muddle Age.
It was not until a purely independent and unofficial organ, the London Lancet, opened its Analytical
The facts, published by the Lancet Analytical Sanitary Commission, revealed such an appalling state of affairs, that the nation was horrified. And seeing that the paper was brave enough to publish the names and addresses of hundreds of manufacturers and tradesmen who were selling adulterated foods, drinks and drugs, the government could not long refrain from action; As an example of some of the facts revealed, we may recall that of 34 samples of coffee 3 only were pure (this in spite of the acts mentioned above); of 34 samples of chicory, 14 were
1 This term as the official designation of the old Tories had come into use about the year 1830.
In spite of its jealous care of vested interests the Liberal administration in power at the time was forced to take action, and in 1855 a Commission was appointed, the report of which led in 1860 to the Adulteration of Food and Drink Act, also a Liberal measure. As, however, the Act left it optional to the district authorities to appoint analysts or not, and did not provide for the appointment of any officer, whose duty it was to obtain samples, the act frightened nobody, and it left things exactly as they were. In 1872, again under a Liberal Government, a further Adulteration of Food and Drugs Act was passed, which empowered inspectors to purchase samples for analysis. As, however, the appointment of inspectors remained optional, the benefits of the act were not widely felt, and outside London and a few large towns nothing was done and but few offenders were apprehended.
The first useful act that was passed was certainly Lord Beaconsfield's Food and Drug Act of 1875, which made the appointment of analysts compulsory; but how late it was, and how many evils it left untouched! It was followed in 1879 by an amending Act and in 1887 by a further Act dealing especially with the sale of margarine, both of which measures were passed by a Conservative government. But the kind of punishments that were meted out for an infraction of the Act were, and remain to this day, quite inadequate, for the huge profits obtained by means of adulteration, make the fines imposed almost negligible except to the small retailer.
What followed is a matter of recent history. In 1894 a select committee was appointed to investigate
But the food conditions of the country are still in spite of all these measures, in a very deplorable condition. Patent and Proprietory foods, often of doubtful quality and utility, poor and lifeless beer, noxious food substitutes of all kinds, meat of bad quality, bread of little nutritive value, and inferior jams and preserves of all kinds, still call for the serious attention of the legislature. And when it is remembered that a large number of the proprietory foods are advertised as suitable for infant feeding, the damage that is being done by the indiscriminate use of these commercialised foodstuffs cannot be sufficiently emphasised. In addition to this, however, we must also consider the enormous business that is now being transacted in the sale of patent and proprietory drugs and medicines, over which there appears to be no control whatever. And, since these products are widely advertised and appeal particularly to the ignorant, the demand for public protection in this matter is extremely urgent. To show how difficult it is, however, to make any headway against large vested interests even in our modern "enlightened" House of Commons it may be interesting to quote the following report from the Times of the 5th May, 1925:
"Sir Kingsley Wood, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Health, answering Mr. Groves (Stratford, Lab.) said: 'The Minister of Health is aware that
1 This was ultimately postponed till September, 1925, and was temporarily replaced by the much abridged Amendment Act of 1922.
"On the subject of patent medicines, Sir Kingsley Wood, in answer to Mr. Day (Southwark, Central, Lab.) said: 'The Minister of Health fully appreciates the importance in the interest of public health of securing some statutory regulation of the conditions under which patent medicines are advertised and sold, but in the present state of business he does not anticipate that it will be possible to introduce legislation on this subject during the present session.' Mr. Day asked whether the hon. gentleman appreciated the fact that many of these patent medicines contained injurious ingredients, and that the public took them a little too freely, not knowing what they contained? Sir Kingsley Wood: 'That may be so, but the difficulty is to arrange business so that this legislation can be taken.' Mr. W. Thorn (Plaistow, Lab.):
1 He might have added sugar and other carbohydrates often to the extent of 25 per cent.
2 As is also, I presume, their advertising energy? Seeing that breast-feeding is declining all over the country (for evidence of this see Man: An Indictment, Chapters VI and VII), it seems singular that the sale of these infant foods should be declining also. At all events, the question really is, not whether their sale is declining, but whether their present scale of sales, however much lower this may be than it was five years ago, should be allowed at all.
Now the interesting feature of these questions is that a body of men, wholly consisting of Labour representatives, are seen to be taking the realistic and Conservative view of their duties as members of the legislature, while the government that cannot find time for dealing with these urgent questions, is a Conservative body. And what was the business which was so pressing that it must take precedence of the vital matters which were the concern of Messrs. Graves, Smith and Day? It consisted of a vote-catching measure, not in the least Conservative in spirit, which has become notorious as the Pensions' Bill.
In regard to Education, the record is, I am afraid, not very much better. Being realistic and classical in spirit, true Conservatives always should believe and always have believed in cultivation and exact science, as opposed to besotment and clap-trap. Their lineal ancestors, the Cavaliers, had, as Macaulay claims; "more profound and polite learning than the Puritans", and Mr. Roylance Kent declares that "the Puritans as a whole were not favourable to learning". 1 Indeed the doctrine that "carnal knowledge" was worthless and inconsistent with piety was held by extreme Protestants both in England and Germany all through the seventeenth century, and it was this doctrine which led the Barebones Parliament to propose the suppression of the English Universities. On the other hand, it is proverbial that the Royal Society, in
1 Op. cit. p. 54.
The beginning of the Tory tradition seems, therefore, to have been, as we should expect, favourable to learning. When the Tories first appeared, however, the educational institutions of the country were still reeling under the shock of the Reformation, and very little had been done to mend the havoc that had been wrought. The fulminations of the German reformers against the universities as the homes of the hated Catholic theology and philosophy, had found reverberations in these islands, and, together with the secularisation of ecclesiastical property, which too often absorbed the endowments of the schools, had led to the disappearance of the majority of grammar schools, or to their continuation only on a much diminished scale. Erasmus had declared that when Luther arose learning declined, and he was right.
Under the Commonwealth, therefore, we must think of these islands as sunk into the lowest depths of ignorance and degradation, and no attempt was made to raise them out of this appalling condition. Hook, who appears to have been a royalist, certainly urged the establishment of a universal system of elementary schools, giving instruction in the vernacular; but he was sequestrated by the Puritan Parliament after becoming Rector of Great Ponton in Lincolnshire, and his scheme was never realised. The only
1 Charles II, who had a peculiar taste for scientific pursuits, was also the founder of the Observatory at Greenwich.
2 Op. cit. p. 52.
The first fruitful effort made to remedy the disastrous state of affairs was due to a Tory called Dr. Bray, who, in 1699, founded the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, and to this movement are due the numerous "charity" or "Blue Coat" schools scattered plentifully all over the country. But it should be remembered that whereas religious teaching formed an essential part of the curriculum in these schools, their object was also to provide elementary education in other subjects, and on this account Dr. Bray's activities were extremely valuable. Nevertheless, we must note in passing, that Dr. Bray, though a Tory, was, after all, only a private individual, and that his political party can hardly be credited with the initiation of a movement which was his and his only.
Thus matters remained until the end of the eighteenth century, when suddenly the appalling degradation of the masses, accentuated by the besotting factory labours they were now called upon to perform, provoked a number of quite unofficial movements. 1 There were the Sunday Schools started in 1780 by Thomas Stock and Robert Raikes. The peculiar value of these schools was that they combined secular with religious instruction, and their organisation was assured in 1785 by the creation of
1 Speaking of the state of affairs in Education before George IV's first Parliament, Mr. Henry Brougham said there were 3,800 parishes or chapelsies in England which had not a vestige of a school, and the people had no more means of education than the Hottentots or Kaffirs.
In 1831 there were 13,000 schools in connexion with the Church, and the whole of the educational institutions of the country were in private hands, depended on private support, and may be said to have been created by the energy of private individuals. But even these subject attempts at grappling with the problem were shown by Henry Brougham's Commission, 2 started in 1816, to be greatly hampered and stultified by the landlords and clergy of the different parishes, for it was discovered that the charity schools throughout the country were not only monopolised by these gentlemen, but also that they were actually embezzling the ample revenues provided for the upkeep of these institutions.
The outcome of Brougham's investigations was that he introduced a Bill in 1820 to provide for popular education by means of a school rate for England. This Bill is said to have failed owing to the opposition of the Dissenters, but at all events it
1 J. W. Adamson, An Outline of English Education, p. 9.
2 Brougham was a Whig.
It was under a Whig Government, the same as that which passed the first Reform Bill of 1832, that the first grant of £20,000 was made for public education, and from that day to 1870, National Education in England continued to be a matter of State-aided voluntary effort. The grant was administered by the National and the British School Societies, 1 and was steadily increased until in 1865 it stood at £636,800. Lord Melbourne's government established a separate education office in 1839, and in 1849; under another Liberal Government, State-aid was extended to Wesleyan and Catholic Schools.
So far, apart from the private efforts of men like Bray and Bell, the principal contributions made towards solving the problem of National Education, were thus the work of Whig governments. We may not approve of the ways and means chosen, but at any rate, to mention only Brougham's work, the interest shown and some of the reforms instituted, did more credit to the Whig legislators than to their Tory opponents. It is true that in Sir Robert Peel's Factory Bill of 1802, provision was made for education classes for the benefit of children in industry 2; but the Bill introduced by Sir James Graham in 1842,
1 These were "The National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church" (founded in 1811), and its rival, "The British and Foreign School Society" (founded in 1814).
2 "The employer was, by this Act, required to provide, during the first four of the seven years of apprenticeship, competent instruction in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and to secure the presence of his apprentice at religious teaching for one hour every Sunday. . . . But the act was unpopular, and evasion was possible by neglecting; to apprentice the children or by employing boys and girls resident in the neighbourhood; and the practical effect of Peel's Act was not great." J. W. Adamson, A Short History of Education (1919), p. 243.
In 1858, the Royal Commission on Education rejected the idea of free and compulsory education, in the first place because of the religious difficulty, and secondly owing to the feeling that it was opposed to the British spirit of individualism. And it is in this Commission's rejection of the idea, which was then very prevalent, that the State had the right to levy a general rate in order to enforce free education on the masses, that the first ray of hopeful light appears. Unfortunately it was only transitory, and in 1866, we find Sir John Pakington's Committee (Pakington himself being a Conservative) advocating an education rate for the establishment of a national system of elementary education. This was really a Whig policy, and in keeping with Whig tradition, and had Sir John Pakington been a sound Conservative he would have had nothing to do with it. (This point will be explained more clearly in the next chapter.)
In 1867 and 1868 Liberal statesmen continued to introduce bills for a national system of education based on municipal and parochial rating a policy entirely Whig in its temper, and one with which Tories and Conservatives should have had nothing to do. But by now, the whole country had become interested, and the hope of a sound Conservative scheme for meeting the general need, was at an end.
It is true that in introducing the measure Mr. Forster protested that to relieve the parent of all payment for his children's education, would be to weaken the sense of parental responsibility in him, and to pauperise those who had hitherto kept themselves free from the taint of pauperism. But, seeing that he made special provision for extreme poverty, it was inevitable that in the long run the plea of poverty should be used by all those who wished to free themselves from the burden of school fees.
"We do take two powers," he said. "We give the School Board power to establish special free schools under special circumstances, which chiefly apply to large towns, where, from the exceeding poverty of the district, or for other very special reasons, they prove to the satisfaction of the Government that such a school is needed and ought to be established. . . . We also empower the School Board to give free tickets to parents who, they think, really cannot afford to pay for the education of their children; and we take care that these free tickets shall have no stigma of pauperism attached to them." 1
The principles laid down in this Bill have never
1 See Hansard's Parliamentary Debates. Vol. CXCIX, p. 455. With regard to the school fees charged where parents were supposed to be able to afford them, the Bill confirmed the usage then established which was: one third from the parents, one third from public taxes and one third out of local funds.
Thus, Lord Sandon's Bill of 1876, which marks the contribution of the Conservative Party to the national system of education, far from reversing the policy of 1870, confirmed and extended it, and the only modification it embodied was to take a further step towards universal direct compulsion. It is true that it repealed the provision of the Act of 1870, which enabled School Boards to pay the fees of parents who, though not paupers, were unable to pay their children's fees; but it simply enacted in its place the more extensive provision that parents so situated might apply to the Guardians of the Poor and receive the fees from them, without being considered to be in receipt of outdoor relief.
The principle of free education having once more been conceded by Liberal and Conservative legislators, it was only to be expected that subsequent legislation would merely extend its application, and thus we are not surprised to find that in the later Liberal Bill of 1906, local authorities were enabled to aid voluntary
Turning now to the question of immigration, and the laws against aliens, it is obvious that under this head we are concerned with subjects of very grave importance to the Conservative politician. For, if the preservation of the identity of the nation throughout change, be the object of Conservative politics, the facilities afforded to foreign settlers in this country should be the object of very jealous and serious attention.
The mixing of blood has so often in the past proved the principal cause of a nation's decay, that, in the light of history, we now see a very rational justification for the haughty attitude of aloofness which ancient peoples, like the Jews, the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans, cultivated towards the "barbarian", and the foreigner. That they adopted this position at their zenith, and that their fall followed the relaxation of their laws against the emancipation of, and marriage with, the foreigner, can at least be learned from the history of both Greece and Rome, and in considering the question of the alien and immigration in regard to home politics, it is as well to bear in mind all that has been said and written, particularly by men like the Comte de Gobineau,
1 In London schools alone the average weekly number of meals provided may be seen from the following table:
Now the tradition in England has always been sound in this respect. There has never been much love of the foreigner in this country, and the earliest laws exemplify this wise Conservative bias.
Taking the case of the Jews first, it is obvious that anti Semitism in the sense of imputing to the Jews an ethnic proclivity to wickedness, or to immorality, or to meanness, or to any other "sinful" characteristic, is neither intelligent nor quite respectable. And the anti-Semitism, which, as many, including Nietzsche, have pointed out, is the outcome of jealousy of the Jews' frequent material success, is thoroughly disreputable. On the other hand, however, unless one is a believer in the fantastic and wholly unrealisable principle that all men are equal, the two policies which consist (a) in preserving the identity of the nation, and (b) in confusing the nation's ethnic elements and character, must always appear sharply antagonistic. It is fatuous and romantic to hope that the culture created by a definite national character can remain the same, and, moreover, can continue suitable to that national character, if it is influenced by ethnic components foreign to, or out of keeping with, itself. And although we may have the deepest respect for the Jews, for their intelligence, their thrift, and their endurance, we may nevertheless conceive it as impossible to preserve the identity of our nation and its culture, if we allow them, powerful as they are, to influence or modify our institutions and (through miscegenation) our blood, to suit their peculiar cultural tendencies which are so different from our own. True Conservatives, therefore, should show themselves firmly hostile to (a) the principle of Jewish emancipation, which enables the Jew ulti-
Now, in its attitude to the Jew, both as a foreigner and as a man of power, mediæval England was truly and wisely Conservative. The Jews were never encouraged to settle, the treatment shown them was never entirely friendly, whether among the people or at the hands of the government, and in 1290, as we know, they were altogether expelled. No doubt one or two may have crept back after the banishment, but the number could not have been great, and it was not until three hundred and sixty-five years later, that they were allowed to return that is to say, when suddenly the Conservative and Tory spirit of the nation had just received its second great blow.
All kinds of reasons have been advanced for the sudden favour shown to the Jews under the Commonwealth; but surely the obvious reason is the fantastic and unrealistic ideology of the Puritan-Whig-Trade mentality, which became paramount on the death of Charles I. It has been said that the effects of Menasseh Ben Israel, and his humble address to Cromwell and his government in 1653, softened the Protector's heart. It has been said that many republicans, Henry Marten among them, 1 had mooted the question some time before, and it has even been hinted that, owing
1 Roger Williams and Hugh Peters, both Independents, were in favour of re-admitting the Jews, and a petition to that end drawn up by two Baptists in Amsterdam was presented to the army in 1649.
Under the Whigs in 1723 a special Act was passed permitting Jews to hold land; in 1740, according to Act 13, George II, Cap. 7, Jews who had resided in the British colonies for over seven years were permitted to become naturalised; and in 1753, a further attempt was made to incorporate the Jews in the body of the nation, by means of a Naturalisation Act; but it was immediately repealed, and it was not until 18301834 that efforts were made to pass a Jewish Emancipation Bill through Parliament. The
1 It has also been said that the Maranos, or secret Jews, settled in London in the middle of the seventeenth century, were able, owing to the ramifications of their trade interests abroad, to give Cromwell and his Secretary, Thurloe, important information about Charles Stuart and his plans. Outwardly they posed as Spaniards and Catholics, but they became known to the government as Jews by faith and were tolerated because of their usefulness.
2 This was £100 per annum, payable quarterly.
Thus, in regard to Jewish Emancipation, the responsibility for the whole of the success of the movement may be said to rest chiefly with the Puritan-Whig-Liberal line of politicians.
Turning now to the cognate question of aliens and immigration, much the same remarks apply as those already made in reference to the Jews. The question is not, which policy is kindest, or most generous, or most liberal in the non-political sense, but what object is envisaged by sound politics. Again, if it is the preservation of the nation's identity, we are obviously on a different plane from that of the man who wishes to be hospitable and open hearted at all costs.
Under the Norman and Plantagenet Kings an alien could not, by the common law, hold landed
Magna Carta, it is true, made a provision for the protection of foreign merchants, and Edward I permitted them to hire houses of their own and to dispose of their goods themselves. But the feeling of the people in regard to these reforms was shown by the fact that the citizens of London petitioned the King against them, although without success. Edward III continued the liberal policy of his grandfather; but even in his second statute (27, Edward III, st. 2, c. 17), dealing with the question of aliens, it is enacted that "merchants of enemies countries shall sell their goods in convenient time and depart" .2 Richard II upheld his predecessors' policy; but from his reign onwards, until comparatively recent times, a series of measures restricted the freedom of foreign merchants to trade within the realm.
Thus by Act 32nd, Henry VIII, c. 16, para. 83, all leases, whether of a dwelling house or shop, within the realm or any of the King's dominions, held by
1 Nationality (London, 1869), p. 139.
2 Cockburn (op. cit. p. 147).
Now it is an extraordinary thing, which speaks highly for the conservative spirit of England, that no amendment of this law took place until the Act 7 and 8, Victoria, c. 66, in the year 1844, when aliens were allowed to take a lease of real property for the purpose of residence or business for twenty-one years, though they were still forbidden to hold real estate. If they purchased landed estate which was freehold the Sovereign was entitled to it. It is interesting to note that the change effected in 1844 took place under Sir Robert Peel's second administration.
With regard to the status of aliens, this matter lay very largely in the hands of the Sovereign and his advisers. There appear to have been two ways of securing the rights of a subject denization and naturalisation by Act of Parliament. The former was affected by letters patent from the Sovereign, and seems to have depended upon the recognition of the applicant's usefulness either to the government or to the country 1; and the latter, which was a very expensive process, depended, of course, on the will of the legislature. Without either one of these two methods of acquiring the status of a British subject, the alien remained and was treated as a foreigner.
The arrival of William III with his Dutch following, evidently stiffened the opposition to peaceful penetration, for according to Acts 12 and 13, William III,
1 Thus, according to 15 Charles II, c. 15, "all foreigners who shall really and bonafide set up to use certain trades and manufactures (linen spinning, net weaving, tapestry making) by the space of 3 years in England and Wales or Berwick-on-Tweed, shall, on taking the usual oaths, enjoy all privileges whatsoever, as the natural born subjects of the kingdom."
It is true that meanwhile, chiefly owing to the exigencies of war and of a big navy, various enactments had been passed automatically to naturalise foreigners in British warships; for instance, Act 13, George II, c. 3, and Act 22, George II, c. 45. But while these measures were undoubtedly of Whig origin for George II had no say and were of course pernicious from the standpoint of the national physique, they were, we must suppose, excusable on the score of temporary expediency.
It was not until the Naturalisation Act of 1870, under Gladstone's first administration, that the civil disabilities of aliens were completely abolished (except that of holding shares in British ships) and that naturalisation was made easy and inexpensive. By the payment of a small fee and the ceremony of taking the Oath of Allegiance all people of foreign birth who had resided not less than five years in the country, or had been in the service of the Crown for not less than five years, and who intended to reside in the
To those aliens, however, who were content with this country as a refuge and an asylum, and who did not trouble much about their political or civil status, while they remained poor and obscure, and who came over here in their hundreds of thousands during the nineteenth century, no obstacle was presented; and it is to the eternal shame, both of the Conservative and Liberal administrations but chiefly to the former that until Mr. Balfour's Alien's Act of 1905, nothing was done to protect the British masses either from the fierce competition or from the diseases which these immigrants introduced. This is to say nothing of the foreign blood, which their free commerce with the native population necessarily brought into the country, to undermine, or at least to modify its character and its physique; and those who at present feel inclined to marvel at the change that has come over the self-reliant and independent nature of the Englishman, should bear this in mind. It is not every foreigner who is affected by difficulties in the way of naturalisation. Only the richest, for instance, could desire freehold property, or a place in Parliament and the House of Lords. To the great mass of aliens, therefore, none of the disabilities that I have enumerated, appeared in the least onerous, and it is this class who were, therefore, least handicapped by the laws against aliens, and who nevertheless exercised the most oppressive and corrupting influence upon the poorer elements in the native population.
With regard to factory legislation, it is notorious that, despite the enormous changes which had taken place in the social condition of the people, since the
The Act of 1819, passed under Lord Liverpool's administration, went a little further, 2 and dealt with the employment of children in cotton factories; but, seeing that its principal provisions were to prohibit the labour of children under 9!! and to limit the working day to 12 hours in the 24!! without specifying the precise hour of beginning or closing, and in view of the fact that no more stringent measures for enforcing the law were made than those in the Act of 1802, the abuses it left untouched may easily be imagined.
1 This was the work of the first Sir Robert Peel, who was himself a manufacturer.
2 This was also due to the energy of the first Sir Robert Peel, who had noticed the abuses that were still rife in spite of the Act of 1802.
When it is remembered that the Liberal gentlemen I have mentioned had the cruelty to resist a measure so inadequate as this for mitigating the hardships of children in industry in the early part of the century, we may imagine the difficulties which confronted such pioneers as Sadler and Lord Ashley. 2 Besides, it soon became obvious that the provisions of the law were being evaded by fraud. Children were represented as being much older than they really were, and the abuses that prevailed induced Lord Ashley in
1 This politician, be it noticed, had played a most active part in the abolition of negro slavery.
2 A good account of Lord Ashley's early struggles for the women and children in industry is to be found in Edwin Hodder's The Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, K.G., as Social Reformer (London, 1897).
At last, under Viscount Melbourne's second administration (Liberal), The Royal Commission on the Labour of Young Persons in Mines and Manufactures was appointed, and the Commissioners revealed such terrible facts about the cruelty and demoralisation connected with the employment of women and children in coal mines, that immediate legislative interference seemed imperative. People could not believe that such practices could exist in a civilised country. To leave aside the immorality that was practised, and of which both the children and women were the victims, it was discovered that children of six were working in dark and unwholesome excavations, while women were at work on tasks for which their strength was inadequate, and by which their modesty was undermined. For instance, it was not uncommon to find a young girl almost naked crawling on all fours all day and drawing behind her, hooked to a chain that passed between her legs and was fastened round her neck, a small truck of coal. These girls worked with adult colliers who wore no clothes at all!!
Lord Ashley took the subject up, and in the session of 1842 brought in a Bill founded on the reports of the Commission. This first Mines' Act, which "in spite of the coldness of the government, the peers, and even the Church", 1 became law in a single session
1 See Edwin Hodder. Op. cit. p. 93. In spite of the universal horror created by the details of the Report, the opposition to the
It was, however, not until 1850 that fatal accidents were systematically recorded, and not until 1855 that other safeguards for health, life and limb in mines were satisfactorily provided for.
Under the Liberal administration of Lord John Russell, in 1847, an additional Factory Act restricted hours of labour for women and young persons to ten a day, and fixed the daily limits between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Further miserable facts revealed by the Report of the third Children's Employment Commission in 1862 led to another Act in 1864, which brought in a large number of industries which had been left out by previous measures, and both the Commission and the Act were the work of Liberal administrations.
Various other measures followed, in 1874, 1878, 1891, 1895, and 1901, all tending to improve the condition of the worker, and to protect his life and limb. But the whole of this legislation was too late in coming; the opposition with which it met in the early days was disgraceful, and the fact that the question was neglected for so long and that, when it was investigated, private individuals were responsible for the agitations that first called the attention of the country to the evils that existed, constitutes an indelible blot on the record of the one party whose obvious duty and policy it was to care for the hearts, the health, and the character of the people. The one
Mines' Act in the Lords was apparently very severe. The extraordinary feature of these reforms during the first half of the nineteenth century is the fact that none of them appear to have been initiated by the Church.