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Auio^Avurc i^oupii 










Civis talis, qualis et prudentissimus 
etfortuna ojjtimci esse debet. — CiCERO. 


VOL. L Ay\>' 



All Rights reserved 




In preparing these Memoirs, there has been 
present to me the difficulty besetting every one 
who attempts to deal with political events dur- 
ing the lifetime of many who have borne a part 
in them. There is much that cannot be alluded 
to without reviving slumbering controversy, or 
reflecting on the actions of public men, until 
the charitable fing-er of Time shall have touched 
the harshness out of recent events, and brought 
them into right perspective with the history of 
the country. 

Yet I am not without the courage to hope that 
in recordinu: the chief incidents in the career of 
one with whom it was my privilege to be associ- 
ated, and to follow as leader during some anxious 
and eventful years, I may have succeeded in 


avoiding obvious errors, and giving a true ac- 
count of a life nobly led and purely ended. 
In whatever measure that hope may be real- 
ised, it is owiuii" to the abundance of material 
placed at my disposal by the family and friends 
of Mr Smith, and to the assistance willingly 
given by many who had been associated with 
him in commercial, philanthropic, and political 
affairs. It is possible that in the attempt to 
give a true impression of the course steered by 
Mr Smith in politics, I have found it necessary 
to refer to the actions of those opposed to 
him in terms which their friends may consider 
unfavourable. They will, however, be slow to 
suspect me of any intention of serving the ends 
of party, or indeed of any motive other than 
that of giving a faithful narrative. 

In requesting me to undertake the compilation 
of these volumes. Lady Hambleden has reposed 
a deofree of confidence in me which I am not 
likely to undervalue. She has put at my dis- 
posal the private papers and correspondence of 
her husband, and her daughters have greatly 
lightened my labours by arranging these, and 
copying some which were least easy to decipher. 


Amono- others who have oiven me valuable in- 
formation have been the Duke of Rutland, the 
Marquis of Salisbury, the Earl of Harrowby, 
the Earl of Iddesleigh, Lord Pvowton, Lord Ash- 
combe, the Right Hon. Edward Stanhope, M.P., 
the Rev. Sir Emilius Laurie, Sir Edward Lawson, 
Sir Henry Acland, Mr Penrose Fitzgerald, M.P., 
the Rev. Canon Jacob, the Rev. Canon Ince, the 
Rev. Canon Pinder, the Rev. M. A. Nisbet, Mr 
W. Lethbridge, Captain Blow of the Pandora, 
Mr White and Mr Monger of 186 Strand. To 
all these, as well as to others too numerous to 
mention, my hearty thanks are due. 


MoNREiTH, October 1893. 





Introductory — The brothers Smith — Their parentage — The 
house in Duke Street — They set up a branch office in the 
Strand — The junior partner buys out his brother — Letter 
from Leigh Hunt — Birth of a son, William Henry — His 
boyhood — Goes to Tavistock grammar-school — His aver- 
sion to Methodism — Desires to enter Holy Orders — Defers 
to his father's wishes and enters the business — His indif- 
ference to games and his love of music— Correspondence 
-with William Ince, I 



Disappointment in choice of a profession — Residence at Kil- 
burn House — Young Smith enters the business, and on 
coming of age becomes his father's partner — His influence 
in the office — Beginning of the bookstall business — 
Acquires monopoly of the North- Western Railway stations 
— His dealings with employe's — Expansion of the business 
— Work on the Committee of King's College Hospital, . 42 




Effect of the repeal of the newspaper stamp-duty — Growth of 
the business — Smith & Son become sole agents fur the 
'Times' — Failing health of the senior partner — Increasing ■ 

work — Its effect upon young Smith — The firm become con- ' 

tractors for railway advertising — Extracts from letters and 
journal — The principles of private life carried into business 
affiiirs — The lending library set on foot — Publication of 
cheap novels — Its success and abandonment — Present aspect 
of the Strand office — Early morning work — Despatch of 
newspapers, .65 



Smith is elected to Metrojiolitan Board of Works — His mar- 
riage in 1858 to Mrs Leach — Old Mr Smith retires from 
business — Philanthropic work — The Bishop of London's 
fund — Friendshij) with Lord Sandon — Smith contemplates 
standing as a Liberal for Boston — And for Exeter — Is Ijlack- 
balled for Reform Club — Becomes Conservative candidate 
for Westminster — His address to the electors — The election 
— And its result, 99 



Death of Lord Palmerston — And of the elder Smith — Earl Eus- 
sell's Reform Bill — And Mr Disraeli's — Dissolution of Par- 
liament — Smith is elected for Westminster — The Revivalist 
movement, . . . . . . . . .128 



Petition against Mr Smith's return — The trial and verdict — 
Smith's maiden speech — Debate on pauperism — Smith's 
mistrust of charitable donations — Anecdotes illustrating his 
principles of giving — The Telegraph Bill — Debates on dis- 
establishment of the Irish Church, 145 




Visit to Paris — State of parties in Parliament — The smoking- 
room of the House of Commons — Irish Land Bill — Ele- 
mentary Education Bill — Smith's motion on the Thames 
Embankment — Defeat of the Government thereon — Letter 
on affairs in France — Smith elected to first London 
School Board — Religious difficulty arising there settled on 
his motion — Assists emigration to Canada — Debates on 
Army Bill, Budget, and Ballot Bill — Damaged position of 
the Government — Irish Home Rule — Mr Gladstone's 
speech at Abei'deen, . . . . . . . .167 



Meeting of Parliament — Unpopularity of Ministers — The 
Ballot Bill — The Thames Embankment Scheme again — 
Smith sails for America — Journal of travel, . . . 201 



Increasing unpopularity of Ministers — Irish University Bill 
— Defeat and resignation of the Government^ — Disraeli 
declines to form a Cabinet — Mr Gladstone resumes office 
— Debate on Budget Resolutions — Dissensions in Cabinet — 
Dissolution of Parliament — General election — Conservative 
victory — The poll in "Westminster — Disraeli forms a 
Cabinet — Mr Smith becomes Financial Secretary to the 
Treasury — Resigns Treasurership of S.P.C.K., . . . 236 



Retirement of Mr Gladstone from lead of Liberal party — 
Debates on Public Worship Regulation Bill — Beginning of 
Smith's friendship with Northcote — He settles to work 
at the Treasury — Visits Bournemouth — Mr Gladstone and 
the Vatican Decrees — Lord Hartington chosen leader of 


the Liberals — The session — Official visits to Edinburgh 
and Dublin — The Suez Canal shares— Consolidation of the 
Home Rule party^The Burials Bill — Visits to the dock- 
yards—Work, '. 260 



Ditliculties of the Government— The Bulgarian atrocities — 
The " Bag-and- Baggage " policy — The Journal of a Dis- 
contented Man— Obstruction in the House of Commons — 
Death of Mr Ward Hunt — Smith appointed First Lord of 
the Admiralty^Misgivings as to his own ability — Proposal 
to put the Post Office in commission — Congratulatory 
banquet in St James's Hall — War between Russia and 
Turkey — Meeting of Parliament — The Fleet sent to Galli- 
poli — Resignation of Lords Carnarvon and Derby — Votes of 
censure — The Berlin Congress — " Peace with Honour," . 286 


Journal of a tour to Cyprus, ■ . 335 




PORTRAIT OF THE RIGHT HON. w. H. SMITH, . . Frontispiece 


TERIOR), ........ 90 


















Not very long before the following pages began 
to be penned, Sir Charles Bo wen commented with 
caustic good - humour on what he termed the 

VOL. I, A 


growing tendency of the age to write ponderous 
liiograjihies of Nobody. 

It must always be a matter of opinion to what 
exact deofree of eminence a man should rise above 
the mean level of character, or what store of 
achievement it should be possible to lay to his 
account, before the public are invited to the 
perusal of his biography. 

" Oh ! vain attempt to give a deathless lot 
To names ignoble, born to be forgot." 

There is an ominous sentence in one of Horace 
Walpole's letters : " One can never talk very long- 
about folks that are merely excellent — I mean, 
unless they do not deserve it, and then their 
flatterers can hold forth upon their virtues by 
the hour." The affection of his family — the 
predilection of his friends — the gratitude of those 
whom he may have benelited — the admiration 
of humbler men from among whom he may have 
raised himself — the success with which Fortune, 
so partial in her favours, so indifferent to merit, 
may have filled his sails,- — all these have to be 
liberally discounted before the figure of a jDublic 
man can be viewed in the just persj^ective essential 
to critical narrative. 

But when such a man has brought his life out 
of a surrounding no more than commonjjlace, 


when he has conducted an ordinaiy commercial 
undertaking to a position beyond competition, 
and then, having accomplished what would 
satisfy most men as a life's work, has set him- 
self to political enterprise, and, by sheer dint 
of the esteem awarded, not to audacity or sur- 
passing powers of speech, but to unselfish in- 
tegrity and faultless common-sense, has risen from 
one office of trust to another, till his party at a 
moment of extreme perplexity, by an involuntary 
and common impulse, turned towards him and 
laid upon him the hazardous duties of leader, 
— when a man has set his hand to so much 
and succeeded in every step of his career, in 
such a life there cannot fail to be much that 
is worthy of record, much that will be of ser- 
vice for the guidance and encouragement of 

It is this feeling which has actuated the writer 
of the followingf Memoirs : there has been also 
the additional motive of warm personal regard 
towards the subject of them, and gratitude for 
unvarying kindness. It is difficult, in dealing 
with the actions and character of one lately de- 
parted, to avoid undue eulogy and to keep in 
right proportion incidents of private life which, 
however much their memory may be cherished 
by relatives and intimate friends, cannot be ex- 

4 LIFE OF ir. H. SMITH. 

pected to occupy the interest of general readers. 
The object, therefore, has been akrjOeveiv iv ayd-nrj 
— atlectionately to tell the truth ; to state im- 
partially the origin and incidents of a life which 
rose from circumstances of comparative obscurity 
to those of distinction and responsibility ; to show 
the qualities and principles which secured for 
William Henry Smith the unlDounded confidence 
of those who were associated with him, and the 
ungrudging respect of those who, in public life, 
were o|)posed to him. 

In the primitive community, while the use of 
metals was still limited and the craft of workino- 
them was known only to a few, he who possessed 
it became the most important person in the vil- 
lage to those whose business it was to maintain 
life by implements, or defend it bv weapons of 
iron. Hence in every such society the smith, or 
worker in iron, became a central figure, and 
hence the frequency with which, when surnames 
became fixed, that of Smith established itself in 
every part of our land where English was spoken. 
As society became more complex under the feudal 
system, the smith, or he Avho wrought, took a 
lower place in the social scale than the hhiford— 
lord, or he who gave loaves : the sellei-, instead 


of being all-important to the buyer, became de- 
pendent on his favour. But inasmuch as metal 
work is necessary to ever}^ branch of industry, 
and the humblest hamlet possessed its forge, so 
it has come to ]3ass that Smith is the commonest 
surname among our people, and to trace the 
lineage of one of that name, upon whose descent 
obscurity has fallen, is almost as hopeless a task 
as can be set to the genealogist. ■'^ 

Of Henrv Walton Smith, who towards the close 
of the eighteenth century came to London from 
Devonshire, it has not been possible to ascertain 
the parentage, although inquiries have been made 
and renewed by his descendants at intervals be- 
tween the years 1844 and 1887. It is said that 
he was educated at Harrow, and it is known that 
bv his marriage he gave deep offence to his family, 
who seem thereafter to have withdrawn all coun- 
tenance from him.- His wife's name was Anna 

^ Various degrees of importance are attached to patronymics by 
different people. Sydney Smith, on being asked who was his grand- 
father, replied, " I know something about my father, because I 
remember him, but of my grandfather I know nothing, except that 
he disappeared about the time of York assizes." On the other hand, 
it is told of the late Lord Chelmsford, an exceedingly diguitied in- 
dividual, that while he was still Sir Frederick Thesiger, he was one 
day accosted in the street by somebody who mistook him for an 
acquaintance and addi-essed him as " Smith," upon which Sir Fred- 
erick drew himself up and said, with awful hauteur, " Sir, do I look 
like a person of the name of Smith ] " 

- The following memorandum, apparently written about the year 


Eastauo-h, to whom he was married at Christ 
Chm-ch, Middlesex, on October 27, 1784. That 
the bride was of humble parentage is apparent 
from the fact that, instead of signing the register, 
she appended her mark X to it. They had three 
children, the youngest of whom, William Henry, 
was born in 1792. Very shortly after the birth of 
this child, the father died, aged about thirty-five, 
and his widow would never in after-years tell her 
children anything about their father's family, ex- 
cejDt that, from the time of his death, she never 
received either help or notice from them. The 
only fragments of correspondence by Henry 
Walton Smith which remain, are portions of 
letters to his sw^eetheart, afterwards his wife 

1841, is in the handwriting of his youngest son, William Henry 
Smith, senior : — 

" My father's name was Henry Walton Smith. His father was 
an officer in the Navy. Henry Walton Smith died in August 1792, 
when I was a few days old, since which time I know nothing of his 

This seems to have been written for the information of his son 
(the subject of this Memoir), who at this early age (sixteen) had 
already begun those endeavours to trace the origin of his family 
which he continued to within a few years of his death. In 1841 he 
received a letter from his father : — 

"I do not think it worth while troublinrr ourselves about the old 
Family Arms : the Herald Office would require me to prove my 
right to use them, which I cannot do, through the circumstance of 
my Father having quitted this life while I was only a few days old. 
If I should ever happen to be at or near Wrington, I might make 
enquiries, — it is a matter of such very little consequence that I do 
not wish enquiries to be made." 


— " dearest Anna," " my Nanny," and " my 
dearest Nanny " — written In most affectionate 
terms, but referring also to circumstances of 
grief and perplexity in which he found himself, 
the nature of which is not exjilained, though 
it was probably of a pecuniary kind. In one 
of these letters he desires his wife to send him 
another volume of ' Pamela.' Having no in- 
dependent means, Henry Smith and his wife 
were forced to separate shortly after their 
marriage ; he entered the service of one Mr 
Rogers, and she lived with a Mrs Brown at 
96 Watling Street, London. From Richmond, 
Smith writes a desjDonding letter, of which the 
only date is " Sat. morning, 3 o'clock." 

. . . Mr Eogers is in a state that would alarm a stronger 
mind than mine. I have been up with him ever since we 
have been here, and I believe his stay in this variegated 
life is of very short duration. The melancholy situation 
in which he lies makes nature shudder, and at the same 
time tells me the miserable state of man. ... I cannot 
say I am well ; if I did it would be flatt'ring myself too 
much, therefore if anything should happen it will only 
rid you of a troublesome fellow and make you once more 
easy ; and then perhaps you may form connexions with 
one who will better deserve your esteem. . . . Our Lifes 
are in the hand of an all wise Creator, and he will dispose 
of them as seemeth best. 

Somewhere within the first quarter of the 


present century, the brothers Henry Edward and 
WilHam Henry Smith, sons of Henry Walton 
Smith, set up the business of " newsmen," as it 
was then termed, in an unpretending shop in 
Duke Street, Grosvenor Square. Probably there 
was nothinp; to disting-uish it from dozens of 
other houses doing: a similar business — nothino- 
to mark it as the source of what has grow^n into 
an important tributary of the Pactolus of British 
trade. In those days penny and halfj^enny dailies 
may, indeed, have been somebody's dream, but 
one not more likely to be realised than any other 
dream. Besides the paper - tax, there was the 
duty imposed on each coj)y of every newspaper : 
the sheets, before going through the press, had 
all to be sent to Somerset House to receive the 
official stamp. There was also the advertisement - 
tax, payable by the publisher.^ 

But in spite of these restrictions, the business 
of Messrs Smith prospered and increased, so that 
it became desirable to secure premises near the 
offices of the principal newspapers. About the 
year 1820 the house 192 Strand was purchased, 
and formed into a branch office, the head office 
remaining in Duke Street. 

' The practice of withholding information as to the price of books 
under review in magazines or journals originated in the intention 
of avoiding the tax on advertisements. 


Now the partners in this firm were of very 
different degrees of capacity, and the younger 
brother, William, soon found that, as the scope 
of their transactions extended, so the necessity 
for organisation and punctuality increased. 
Henry, the elder, was old-fashioned, and, in 
truth, somewhat dilatory. Part of his duty was 
to prepare the addresses for country parcels at 
the Duke Street office ; these were then sent off 
to the Strand, where William attended to their 
despatch by the mails. Many a time the neigh- 
bours used to see the younofer brother running- 
out in his shirt-sleeves into the Strand, watch in 
hand, looking impatiently for the lingering 
messenger, before whose arrival the day's papers 
could not be sent off, and exclaiming, " What is 
that lazy brother of mine about ? " 

At last the situation became intolerable. 
Punctuality was the very soul of the business, 
and jDunctuality was just what the senior 
partner could not contribute ; so an arrange- 
ment was made by which William Henry became 
sole proprietor of the concern.^ Sole proprietor 
and sole manager, also, in every sense of the 
word. He was no believer in delegated authority 
or subdivision of responsibility. He worked 
as hard as any apprentice in the daily, manual 

1 Henry Edward Smith died in 1846. 


labour, being noted as the quickest packer in 
the estabUshment. He prided himself on this, 
and it was a standing rule that any lad who 
could pack up a greater number of newspapers 
than his master in the morning was entitled 
to a PTatuitv of a shilling. Indefatigable him- 
self, he was intolerant of anything short of the 
utmost exactitude in others ; he was relentless 
in reproof of negligence, and so stern in dealing 
with any shortcoming that, as is a common expe- 
rience, his presence had an effect the reverse of 
inspiriting on his staff. Nevertheless, to use the 
exj)ressive phrase of one who knew him well, 
and still occupies a position of trust in the firm. 
he brought the business up to that point beyond 
Avhich it could not be taken bv a sino-le individual. 
It was an arduous, unremittino- life that was 
required in those early days of one who would 
succeed in the trade of newsman. Competition 
was keen and profits so small that success could 
only be attained by constant watchfulness to 
make use of every opportunity to extend the 
business. The trade of disseminatino- literature 
contains branches which are not all drudo-erv. A 
publisher's profession, for instance, implies plenty 
of hard work, and a keen sense of the public 
taste ; but it also means something akin to leisure, 
enriched by literary occupation. But an active 


news-agent is bound to laborious routine : William 
Smith would suffer no one to share his authority 
in the house ; every letter that came was opened 
by his own hands and the answer dictated, often 
it was written, by himself. Yet here and there in 
his correspondence, buried deep in piles of letters 
from irritated customers complaining of delay in 
the delivery of their paj)ers, or from editors 
negotiating terms for a supply of their journals, 
there occurs a trace of more attractive material — 
somethinof to hint that from this incessant daily 
routine there were filched occasional moments of 
that lettered loitering which so effectually beguiles 
the tedium and eases the fatigue of the journey 
through life. The following note, for instance, 
from the author of ' Ultra Crepidarius ' — the pro- 
totype of Harold Skimpole — lies among letters 
received early in the forties ; and if it be the case 
that Mr Smith had taken the book from the 
London Library for his own perusal, the sugges- 
tion is one of a wider and more sympathetic 
culture than might have been suspected : — 

32 Edwardes Square, Kensington. 

A stranger is sorry to intrude this note on Mr Smith ; 
hut if Mr Smith, without any immediate inconvenience to 
himself, could oblige a fellow-subscriber to the London 
Library with Baldelli's hfe of Boccacio for a few days, & 
if he could also be so kind as to take the trouble of direc- 


ting it to this place by the parcel delivery company, it 
would be a great accommodation to his humble servant, 

Leigh Hunt. 

William Henry Smith, senior, married Mary 
Anne Cooper, on June 24, 1817, at St George's, 
Hanover Square. For some years thereafter they 
continued to live over the office in Duke Street, 
and in that house their two eldest children, 
Mary Anne ^ and Caroline,-^ were born ; but some 
time previous to 1825 the family removed to the 
house in the Strand, where, on the anniversary 
of their marriage in that year, a son was born, 
to be named after his father, William Henry, the 
subject of the present Memoir. There has been 
much misapprehension as to the station in life to 
which this child was born. It has been reported, 
and commonly believed, that his first employment 
was that of a poor newsboy. Had that been the 
case, there would have been no attemjDt on the 
part of his family — least of all on his own — to con- 
ceal his humble origin. But the facts of the case 
were otherwise, and the mistake has probably 
arisen from the circumstance that what we now 
call a " news-agent " was known sixty years ago 
as a " newsman," and the son of a newsman 

1 Married in 1839 to Eev. William Beal. 
- Married to Mr E. M. Eeece. 


might, by a strained interpretation, be described 
as a newsboy. Whatever may have been the 
descent of his grandfather, Henry Walton Smith, 
the late Mr W, H. Smith was born of parents 
occupying the position of respectable and pros- 
perous tradespeople. 

A less eventful boyhood than William Henry's, 
the 3'ounger, it could hardly be the lot of a 
biographer to describe. Until eight or nine 
years of age he remained in the schoolroom 
with his four elder sisters, under the teachino- 
of their governess. Then the services of a tutor, 
the Rev. William Beal, of Trinity College, Cam- 
bridge, were secured for him ; and, when twelve 
years old, he went with his mother and sisters 
to Paris, where they remained for some weeks. 
Meanwhile, Mr Beal had become engaged to the 
eldest Miss Smith, and on his receiving from the 
Duke of Bedford in 1838 the appointment of 
head - master to the newly revived grammar- 
school at Tavistock, their marriage took place. 
This led to William's only and brief acquaintance 
with a public school, or, indeed, with school of 
any sort. He was placed there as a boarder 
early in 1839, being then fourteen years old, 
and in June his name appears as second in the 
second form, William Lethbridge (of whom more 
hereafter) being first. The following note ap- 


pears on the report of the midsummer examina- 
tion for tliat year : — 

The medal for Mids'- 1839 gained by, and awarded to, 
W. H. Smith of Kilburn, London. W. Beal. 

But WiUiam Smith's name is not ao;ain found 
on the school - lists after that date. The boy 
returned home, and another private tutor, the 
Kev. Alfred Povah, of Wadham College, Oxford, 
took him in hand. 

There remains in one of the boy's letters, 
written from Tavistock to his father, evidence 
of thoughtfulness unusual at the age of fourteen, 
and of attention directed to a class of subject 
which, in after-years, was to occupy a great deal 
of his energy and thoughts. 

Last Wednesday being a half-holiday, Mr Beal took a 
walk with me in the afternoon to the Union Workhouse 
in the neighbourhood of the town, which was quite a new 
sight to me. To all appearance the people looked ex- 
tremely comfortable; in fact, much more so than many poor 
people in their own houses. I was rather surprised at seeing 
them so comfortable, for from the noise made about the 
new Poor Law I expected to find it rather a wretched place. 

The influence which had prevailed so long to 
keep William from school, and to remove him 
from it after such a short experience, is not 
difficult to trace, neither was it without im- 
portant bearing upon his after-life. His mother's 


family, the Coopers, were Wesleyans of the early 
and strict kind ; and her mother, a widow, used 
to pay long visits at her son-in-law's house in 
Duke Street. This lady was not only extremely 
devout, but also painfully apprehensive of the 
perils to which young people are exposed at 
public schools from bad companions and worldly 
influence. She it was who prevailed to per- 
suade the Smiths to keep their only son so 
long at home, and 23robably to remove him from 
Tavistock after so short a trial, though he had 
made, as the prize-list shows, such a promising 
start there. Anxietv to withdraw the lad from 
sympathy with the Church of England, signs 
of which he showed even at this early age, 
and to keep him in touch with the Wesleyan 
body, had, no doubt, a good deal to do with 
the domestic policy. 

There mav be traced in the economy of this 
Methodist-Christian home something resembling 
the stern Lacedaemonian spirit, exacting from 
the son unquestioning submission to the father, 
but also putting him, while still very young, 
in authority over others. In the refusal of 
the Smiths to yield to their boy's intense desire 
to go to a university, there is some analogy 
to the edict forbidding the youth of Lacedaemon 
to visit Athens ; in spite of the learning and 

16 LIFE OF jr. H. SMITH. 

philosophy of that focus of culture, there was 
too much tittle-tattle and luxury to be recon- 
ciled with the strenuous home life. Whatever 
the effect of this early discipline may have been 
in forming the young man's character, it cer- 
tainly was the cause of lasting disappointment 
to himself, and often, in later years, he used 
to deplore bitterly the circumstances which had 
debarred him from acquiring a wider culture. 

After a couple of years at home, William was 
allowed to return to Tavistock school at the 
age of seventeen, not, apparently, as an ordinary 
pupil, for his name does not appear on the 
school -lists of those years, but rather as a 
private pupil of his brother-in-law, the head- 
master. His time seems to have been divided 
between the pursuit of learning here, and atten- 
tion to business in the Strand, until some time in 
1844, after which date any learning he acquired 
was the fruit of voluntary application of his 

As the lad grew in stature, his spirit struggled 
to emancipate itself from the narrow and rather 
sombre surroundings of his boyhood. At sixteen 
he had already expressed to his father his strong- 
desire to go to a university and prepare for 
Holy Orders. Whether his mother - in - law's 
warning had given the elder Smith a genuine 


dread of the profligacy of universities as well as 
of public schools, or whether he merely looked 
upon Oxford or Cambridge as an extravagance 
unsuited to his own station in life, he would 
not listen to his son's pleading to be sent 
there ; and as for the Church — he gave an em- 
phatic discouragement to that idea. In fact, he 
gave his son to understand that if he persisted 
in his purpose of entering Holy Orders, he need 
not expect a shilling from his father ; whereas, 
if he came into the business, he might count on 
being made a partner as soon as he should come 
of age. 

The young man submitted his will to that 
of his father, and began work in the office ; but 
he could not bring his spirit into sympathy with 
the Wesley an community to which his parents 
were so closely attached.^ To a youth brought 
up so constantly at home, it must have been 
a matter of much difficulty, and have required 
the support of strong conviction, to attempt 
separation from the congregation in which he had 
been reared. To support himself in the effiDrt, 
and to overcome his parents' objections to his 

1 It is believed that the elder Smith never actually joined the 
Wesleyan Society, though he constantly attended their services, 
and subscribed liberally to their funds. He was, however, married 
in St George's, Hanover Square, and all his children were baptised 
in the Church of England. 

VOL. I. B 


attendiiiij" the services of the Church of Eno'- 
land, William availed himself gladly of the 
help of his brother-in-law and old master, Mr 
Beal, who in 1842 wrote to him — 

Would you hke me to name to your Father the subject 
of your, & Augusta's and Emma's, going to church every 
Sacrament Sunday ? I feel very confident indeed that 
both with your Father and Mamma I could gain it for you 
all. With this stipulation, however, that so long as you 
are under age, this shall be the lad concession made to 
you in these matters — viz., that one Sunday in a month, 
and that the Sacrament Sunday, shall be at your own dis- 
posal, but that the other three, 3'ou all consent willingly 
and regularly to go wherever your Father thinks you get 
the most wholesome spiritual food. 

It woidd have been in accordance with what 
very often happens, if early restraint of so strict 
a kind had brought about a reaction as the boy 
grew to manhood : the impulse to escape from the 
narrow field of duties precisely defined — weariness 
of warnings against all that allures a youth as the 
world opens before him — the flush of health and 
the free instinct of our race, — these are influences 
which have often in such cases brouo-ht about the 
violent rupture of parental control and started 
the prodigal down the slopes. The saving in- 
strument in such cases is generally found in 
warm affection ; and it implies the existence of 


more endearing qualities in the parents of this 
young man than a stranger is able to trace in 
the record of their habit of life, that, from first 
to last, their son never wavered in his love for 
them, and that home influence never lost its hold 
upon him. On the other hand, though almost 
the first use which the younger William made 
of the liberty of manhood was to carry out the 
wish he had for some years entertained, of sep- 
arating himself from the Wesleyan body and 
joining the Church of England, the effect of early 
training never disappeared : throughout his life 
he remained serious, sometimes almost to des^^on- 
dency, deeply religious and attentive to regular 
worship, and accustomed, in intimate correspon- 
dence, to express himself with more freedom and 
fulness on spiritual subjects than is usually the 
habit of laymen in the older Churches. This may 
explain many passages in letters written in after- 
years to his Avife and sisters, and enable the reader 
to understand his constantly recurring request for 
their prayers on his behalf in whatever business 
he happened to be engaged on at the time. It 
must not be supposed, however, that Smith was 
ever in the habit of obtruding his religious feel- 
ings in general conversation or correspondence. 
Some of those who had most constant inter- 
course with him in public life, though they felt 


that thev had to do with an earnest Christian, 
may never, in the course of many years, have once 
heard the name of the Ahnighty pass his hps, or 
remember a single sentence of reUgions doctrine 
— still less of controversy — escape from him. 

Mr Beal's intervention seems to have been 
effectual, for in 1842 there came a letter from 
William to his sisters : — 

Have you heard from Mr Beal on a particular subject ? 
Did you expect anything of the kind ? I was quite sur- 
prised when I heard from him about it, and Father's 
approbation too. You know of course that all things go 
on well day by day. Father says that there is a slight 
difference in the young generation, but you must wait till 
Sunday, when, if you'll go to Church in the morning, you 
shall hear it all in the afternoon, and then, by attending 
Methody or other Chapel in the evening, you will cover 
your double sin and go to bed a Xtian. 

Not improbably the elder Smith, though him- 
self remaining staunchly attached to the Wes- 
leyan body, viewed without apprehension the 
tendency of his children towards the Church of 
England, and it is to the influence of his wife 
and her relations that such active resistance as 
he showed in preventing his son ofPering himself 
for confirmation may be attributed. Constantly 
and actively employed as he had been in business. 


and absent from home during daylight hours, he 
would, as is the habit of the husbands of good 
wives, willingly resign into Mrs Smith's hands 
the chief jDart of the spiritual direction of his 
household ; yet there may also be traced, in his 
thus yielding to Mr Beal's proposal, some of that 
tolerant breadth which, as men apjDroach the 
half- hundred, generally mellows the view they 
take of religious controversy. Indeed, though 
the creation of the minor divisions which separ- 
ate the Christian Church into so many parts lies 
at the door of the men, their maintenance must 
be j)laced to the account of women, who, being 
far more conservative in spiritual as well as in 
temporal affairs, resist all change and modifica- 
tion as dano-erous innovation. 

But however tolerant the elder Smith showed 
himself of the alteration of his children's views 
and their alienation from the Methodist connec- 
tion, he remained inflexible in his resistance to 
William's inclination to enter the priesthood. In 
this he was evidently strengthened by the cir- 
cumstances of his private affairs. He had, by 
dilio-ence and active foresiofht, raised his business 
from a very modest scale to one of considerable 
importance and value. But as he advanced in 
years, incessant work began to tell upon his 


health. In 1845 his friend, Mr Sercombe 
(whose son Rupert afterwards married his 
daughter Louisa), wrote from Exeter : — 

I feel persuaded that nothing but rest "will do for you ; 
will you therefore allow me to suggest to you what has 
passed through my mind and my dear wife's, which is this. 
If you could by advertisement or otherwise get a respect- 
able business man, who understands your kind of business, 
and who wovild take your morning work, . . . this would 
save your health, and in all human probability prolong 
your valuable life. 

No doubt Smith felt the soundness of this advice, 
and the result of it is shown in a letter from 
young Smith to his sister, Mrs Sercombe, written 
in the same year : — 

We have at last made an alteration — a decided and, I 
hope, an effectual one. Father has long felt that his late 
attack of lameness resulted from overwork, and therefore 
has so far overcome his natural predilections as to deter- 
mine on doing less — on giving up packing altogether — on 
playing the gentleman Tradesman. In order to carry out 
this idea he has resolved to dine here [at Kilburn House] 
regularly at 4 o'clock, excepting on Saturdays, and he has 
purchased me a Horse — a very beautiful one indeed — on 
which I am to ride backwards and forwards — if necessary, 
to stay a short time after he has left, if not — to leave with 
him or when I choose. 

The weight thus lifted from the father's 
shoulders was placed upon those of his willing 


son, who now entered upon the battle of life, 
the labours of which varied, it is true, in 
character as years brought him into different 
fields of labour, but were without intermission 
to its close. In this early begun and long- 
sustained work mav be traced the source of that 
sense of weariness so often alluded to in the 
letters of his later years, and the strain so long 
endured seems to have tended to bring- sooner to 
its close a life which might, under less trying 
conditions, have continued in vigour till at least 
the threescore and ten. 

Slow as Mr Smith had been to show confidence 
ill his son's judgment in religious matters, this 
rearrano-ement of his business was not the first 
proof he had given of reliance on William's 
capacity and common - sense. Mr Smith had 
shortly before this acquired some property in 
Cornish mines, and in 1844, while the youth 
was still a private pupil with Mr Beal at 
Tavistock, he wrote to him as follows : — 

Can you tell me the cause of the Herod's foot shares 
being £7 each ? have you any knowledge what has been 
paid for the set, because 256 at £7 each is about £1790 — 
a goodly sum. Think about this, & let me know your 
opinion. I do not think anything is wrong, for otherwise 
Mr P. has my utmost confidence, but we are all apt to run 
too fast when we get excited. Coolly think over this 
matter, but do not think that I have any intention to 


withhold entenng into this matter, but I wish to draw 
your attention to a full consideration of the matter and 
also to mining in general. I suppose you will go to the 
Green A-'alley. 

I do not see anything in your letter respecting the state 
the Miners are in — has any provision been made for the 
welfare of the nobler part ? It will not do for me to attend 
a Place of Public Worship myself, & yet put men in 
such a situation that they have not the means of religious 
instruction, and I am sure you will see the inconsistency 
of subscribing to Missionary Societies, & at the same 
time being the cause of making my fellow-countrymen 
heathens. I hold my hand at the present till my mind is 
set at rest on this subject. 

Do not think that I am in any way displeased respecting 
Herod's foot — far from it. I think as far as you have gone 
you have done perfectly correct, but the other part must 
not be neglected. 

Nothing could illustrate more clearly than this 
passage the nature of the training which gave a 
lasting bent to the character of young Smith. 
His father, though a peculiarly shrewd man of 
business, with a quick eye to the main chance, 
and constantly on the look-out for good in- 
vestments for his savings, was also scrupulously 
righteous, and conscientious as to the sources 
whence he should draw his profits. 

It must not be supposed, however, that old Mr 
Smith was close-fisted or ungenerous. Persons 
still living testify to his liberality and considera- 


tion for others. On one occasion, when extensive 
additions were being made to the offices in the 
Strand, and were on the point of completion, he 
happened to meet on a Saturday the contractor 
for the work, who wore an air of depression and 
anxiety. Smith asked him why he was so down- 
cast. " Perhaps you would be downcast, Mr 
Smith," was the reply, " if you had come to 
Saturday night, and had no money to pay your 
men. The architect is out of London, and I can't 
get a certificate for my work." " Oh, is that 
all?" replied Smith; "come into my office and 
I'll write you a cheque for £1000." He did so, 
and the contractor, then in a comparatively small 
way of business, now a partner in one of the most 
powerful firms in England, still speaks gratefully 
of this mark of confidence. 

Neither at this time nor at any later period 
of his life did young Smith possess the gift of 
poignant expression in his letters. He wrote 
fluently, indeed, and, making allowance for the 
greater brevity ^^4lich multiplied posts have 
brought about in later times, his early letters 
are certainly of more liberal measure than most 
modern sons and brothers address to their parents 
and sisters. Full of common-sense, they are not 
always free from a tendency to commonplace, 
and the homely language is often an indifferent 


vehicle for really dio-nified thoiio-lit.^ It is not, for 
instance, every brother who, at the age of nine- 
teen, takes the trouble to impart such true philo- 
sophy as is contained in the following sentence 
from a letter written by Smith in 1844 to his 
elder sister Augusta on her birthday :— 

Although in a very humble and apparently confined 
Sjphere of action, who can tell the effect which our influence 
or that of our conduct may have upon others, and its re- 
action throughout future ages ? 

Written by the heir to influence and posses- 
sion, such words mioht have come to be remem- 
bered as pregnant with conscious meaning ; 
penned as they were by the son of a London 
tradesman, to whom the University training 
which he had craved for had been refused, 
they signify a thoughtful sense of responsibility 
beyond what might have been reasonably ex- 

In the previous year, 1843, William had already, 
on the invitation of Mr Reece of Furnival's Inn, 
accepted the office of one of the secretaries of the 
Great Queen Street Branch Missionary Society, 
an institution of which the importance was cer- 

^ In spite of the profusion of his correspondence at all times of 
his life, Smith possessed two virtues of a letter-writer — he wrote 
a distinct hand, almost ladylike in neatness, and he hardly ever, 
even at his busiest, used contractions. 


tainly not underrated by its members, for Mr 
Reece, in making his proposal to William, mod- 
estly describes it as " the noblest and most 
deeply interesting enterprise that either the 
Church or the World — in this or any former 
ao-e — ever witnessed ! " 

There was a time when the opposition to his 
strong- desire for ordination seemed about to be 
removed. His father, weary of incessant work, 
contemplated the sale of his business and retiring 
upon the substantial means which he had gained 
in trade. 

I am most sincerely delighted [wrote Mrs Beal to her 
brother in 1844] at the encouraging prospect of affairs. 
You have now certainly far greater likelihood of realising 
your long-cherished hopes and wishes. All I can say is, 
may it please God to grant your desire, and that you may 
live to be the useful minister of a nice little parish of your 
own. ... I am very, very thankful dear Father has deter- 
mined to relieve himself, but shall not be able fully to 
believe he will sell the business he has so long cherished, 
until I hear of some very decided move in that direction. 
. . . Some occupation that will be interesting and not 
burdensome must be provided. I am quite sure he cannot 
live inactive after the life of work and bustle he has 

Mrs Beal's incredulity was justified by the 
result. Mr Smith overcame his sense of weari- 
ness, pushed his business with redoubled energy, 


and became more resolved than ever to make his 
son an active partner in the concern. 

Don't be afraid [wrote young Smith to Mrs Beal in 
1845] that I am becoming a Puseyite, a Newmanite, or 
Itoman CathoHc. If you think me really higher than I 
was, I have given you a wrong impression. I am only 
confirmed in my dislike for Wesleyanism as now carried 
out by preachers and people, and in my decided preference 
for the Church, and to a certain extent I judge of systems 
and principles hj their results in the lives and ideas of 
those who hold them. I think the extremes of parties 
are decidedly wrong ; and, besides, I should be careful how 
I held views which would give just occasion to certain 
parties to exclaim against what they would state was the 
inevitable result of a departure from Wesleyanism, for 
the sake of the Church itself. I am sometimes so much 
annoyed by these people that I should really say some 
unpleasant things to them, if I did not remember that 
they would be carefully treasured up and used at another 
time against the Church as an illustration of its prin- 
ciples, the aggravating cause being of course forgotten, or 
never mentioned. 

Sisters are a little strong in their views now and then, 
and if I become a Eoman Catholic they will go first ; but 
there is no fear. We are all quiet enough and low enough 
to please even you, when we get amongst Church people, 
Ijut now the very reverse is forced down our throats. 
. . . Nothing has transpired respecting the business 
or the change that appears to wait me. The increase of 
clerks promises a little ease, and, accordingly. Father does 
not say much of selling now. His idea was that after 
selling the business he would find sufficient employment 
for his time in attending to the business of the public 


companies with which he is connected, and in looking 
after his other property. ... I don't think, however, 
that even if I go out of it he will really sell the business ; 
he may probably do less — perhaps take some one in, as 
Cyrus, whom he could manage completely ; but he would 
never give up the position of master in the concern, nor 
when the time for action came would he like to give up 
altogether the influence and income which the business 

I shall endeavour to be perfectly content whatever may 
be the result of all these things, for I feel I should not be 
justified in doing that which would seem to anticipate the 
ordering of events. The position which I desire to occupy 
is of far too responsible a character to be regarded merely 
as an occupation. I shall not therefore be satisfied unless 
a clear opening presents itself, and if it does, I hope I 
shall be enabled to fulfil conscientiously the duties to 
which I shall then feel I am called.^ 

You need not fear I have any desire to tie ^ myself up 
for life. It is the opposite tendency that induces Father 
to suggest the subject so frequently, to otir great amuse- 
ment. He thinks that if I entertain such thoughts now, 
I shall then be settled to something like business for life. 
But whether I take orders or not, I shall certainly not 
think of anything like matrimony for some years to come. 

1 This lofty tone of Cliristian fatalism remained with Smith 
throughout his life. It is the note on which Samuel Johnson con- 
tinually dwelt. "To prefer," he wrote to Boswell in 1776, "one 
future mode of life to another, upon just reasons, requires facul- 
ties which it has not pleased our Creator to give us." Again, in 
' Easselas' : " ' Very few,' said the poet, ' live by choice : every man 
is placed in his present condition by causes which acted without his 
foresight, and with which he did not always willingly co-operate.' " 

2 By marriage. 

30 LIFE OF JF. H. SMITH. [jet. 21. 

It would destroy all hope of mental improvement, and 
make me undoubtedly " soft." 

How great was the sacrifice which young Smith 
was called on to make to his father's will, in re- 
sistinof the strono- vocation he felt for the Church, 
may be gathered from passages in a journal kept 
through part of these years. In 1846, the year 
he came of age, he wrote : — 

August 6. — The past twelvemonth has been one of great 
importance to me, and as far as man may be permitted 
to judge, determined the particular course of life I shall 
lead, and the ol)ject to which my best energies shall be 

The decision on these most serious matters was not, 
perhaps, in accordance with the hopes and desires I had 
long cherished. 

Those who have a natural claim upon my respect and 
obedience so strongly opposed the schemes I entertained, 
and in such a feeling, as to render it impossible for me to 
carry them into effect. 

It is true that many friends (whose opinions were freely 
and impartially given, and who, by their position, their 
knowledge of the world, and the soundness of their 
motives, were well qualified to give them) said that they 
thought I was fitted for, as I was inclined to, the high and 
exalted position of a Minister, and they judged my strong 
wishes in the matter to be an indication of the will of 
Providence. But it is not so, at least apparently, for he 
whose power is absolute in the matter — under Providence 
itself — by the strong expression of his wishes and inten- 
tions obliged me to yield my own desires and views, and 
adopt his instead. 


By this I do not mean that he acted otherwise than 
from the kindest wishes, as he no doubt considered the 
course of life he contemplated for me the best and most 
useful, and that, in fact, for which I am designed. 

However it may be, I now, as a man, am called upon to 
fulfil obligations imposed upon all men to their Maker 
and to each other. I may not idly regret the disappoint- 
ment of long-cherished hopes which, it may be, I have 
not been justified in entertaining, but it is my duty to 
acknowledge an overruling and directing Providence in all 
the very minutest things, by being, in whatsoever state I 
am, therewith content. . . . 

My conclusion is, then, that I am at present pursuing 
the path of duty, however imperfectly ; wherever it may 
lead, or what it may become, I know not. 

Bitterly as the young man felt the disappoint- 
ment, he did not allow it to destroy the attrac- 
tion which ecclesiastical matters possessed for 
him, and the tenor of his after-life was accu- 
rately forecast in one of Mrs Beal's letters ex- 
pressing sympathy for him in the turn affairs 
had taken : — 

In your present situation there is nothing to prevent 
your being very useful. I know more than I once did the 
difficulty ministers find to get willing, intelligent, and 
suitable persons to co-operate with them in carrying out 
many benevolent designs : in this you may render many 
important services. You know that you used to agree 
with me that if a man had but the inclination he might 
be as useful out of office as in it. I trust in future years 
you will find this to be your experience. 

32 LIFE OF IV. H. SMITH. [.et. 


There is no trace in the letters or journals of 
this period of his abrupt severance from the sect 
in which William had been brought up. On the 
contrary, for some time after he had become a 
member of the Church of England, he continued 
to attend Wesleyan services, though with a grow- 
ing distaste for that form of worship. Thus, 
during a tour Avhich he took in the autumn of 
1846, after he was of age, with his mother and 
four sisters, in the English Lake district, he 
wrote from Kendal : — 

Sunday, 2nd August. — Attended St Thomas's Church iu 
the morning, — ]\Ir Latrobe, an excellent man, duly valued; 
Trinity Church in the afternoon — the old church, of im- 
mense size, having five aisles ; and the Methodist Chapel 
in the evening. To perpetuate my remembrance of this 
service would be unkind. 

On January 29, 1847, he wrote to Mrs Beal : — 

I am going on very comfortably with Father now, sel- 
dom or never going to Chapel, or asked to do so. 

Another letter to the same, written a month 
later, gives the impression made on young Smith 
by a well-known individual : — • 

I have had an interview with the great George Hudson, 
the Eailway King. The ' Times ' wrote for a man to come 
up to town, on my representation, who knew something 
of the railways down in the North, and we went together 
to see this great man, and to remonstrate with him con- 


ceruincf some errors in the arrangement of tlie trains. 
"We "svere with him about half an hour, and had a aood 
opportunity of seeing his character, of which I have not 
formed a very favourable opinion. I think he is a cun- 
ning, clever man, but very deficient in everything that is 
noble and commanding respect ; very much of a bully in 
conversation if he thinks he can succeed ; if not, possessed 
of little courage, if any. At first he was disposed to treat 
me very slightingly, and I felt rather angry, and in the 
course of conversation brouo-ht in the names of the con- 
ductors of the ' Times ' and ' Chronicle,' which had such a 
magical effect upon the honourable gentleman that both 
my companion and myself could hardly refrain from 
laughing in his face. 

It has been a matter of much consideration 
how far it is expedient to unveil the most secret 
and sacred thouo-hts of the man whose narrative 
tills these pages. One shrinks from putting on 
permanent record anything that might be but 
the fruit of a transient mood or merely evidence of 
a youthful phase of thought ; yet no estimate of 
William Smith's character and work would be 
faithful which did not show how, from very early 
days down to his latest years, he was constantly 
penetrated with deep religious feeling, and unre- 
mitting in the practice both of private prayer 
and public worship. There are those who believe 
that this is incompatible with the higher intellect- 
ual power ; that the bolder spirits are those which 
show themselves somewhat impatient of church 

VOL. I. C 


services and incredulous as to the efficacy of 
prayer : not the less would such as these have 
cause for complaint if the leading motive of all 
Smith's actions were kept in the background. It 
will be for each one to form his own judgment of 
ihe deo-ree in which the man's usefulness, and 
the confidence he gained from his fellow-men, was 
affected by his undoubted piety. 

Smith's early journals are full of religious medi- 
tation, expressions of deep regret for failings, 
and gratitude for deliverance from evil.^ But 
there would be little profit in quoting extracts, 
differinsf not much from the sentences in which 
many a serious-minded youth must have com- 
mitted to paper his perplexity and hope, his 
ardour and disappointment. Yet there has been 

^ Like all men of prayerful natures, Smith was subject to moods 
of deep despondency. One is reminded by the tenor of many notes 
in his handwriting of similar expressions made use of by Dr 
Johnson — his prayerful reflection, for instance, on his fifty-sixth 
birthday : " I have now spent fifty-tive years in resolving, having, 
from the earliest time almost that I can remember, been forming 
schemes of a better life. I have done nothing. The need of doing, 
therefore, is pressing, since the time of doing is short. O God I 
grant me to resolve aright, and to keep my resolutions, for Jesus 
Christ's sake. Amen." In making reference to Smith's devotional 
habit of mind, one is tempted to echo the comment passed by 
Boswell on the passage above quoted : " Such a tenderness of con- 
science — such a fervent desire of improvement — will rarely be 
found. It is, surely, not decent in those who are hardened in 
indifference to spiritual improvement to treat this pious anxiety 
of Johnson with contempt." 


preserved on a loose slip of paper something so 
characteristic of the writer, something that may 
give, once for all, so clear an insight into his 
ardent, ■ yet withal methodical, devotion — not 
merely the sentiment of adolescence but the 
enduring practice of his life — that there seems 
no reason to withhold it. This document, written 
about the time Smith came of age, contains a 
list of the subjects for which he prayed daily. 
They are as follows : — 

1. For repentance. 2. Faith. 3. Love. 4. Grace to 
help. 5. Gratitude. 6. Power to pray. 7. Constant 
direction in all things. 8. A right understanding of the 
Bible, and a thorough knowledge of it. 9. Deliverance 
from my easily besetting sin — watchfulness. 10. Grace 
that blessings and talents — God's gifts — may not be the 
means of withdrawing my heart's service from God the 
Giver. 11. My wife — if it is God's will I should have 
one. 12. Like blessings for my Father and Sisters, accord- 
ing to their several necessities. 13. My friends. 14. 
This place. 15. Missionaries. 16. All for whom I ought. 
17. Pardon for all ignorance and sin in all my prayers. 
Eemember the 4tli February, and pray that I yield not 
to temptation. 

Never, surely, did the boyhood and youth of 
one whose parents were, if not in affluent, at least 
in easy circumstances, pass with so little provi- 
sion for amusement as did those of William 
Smith. Games generally bulk largely in a school- 


boy's letters, but in the few that have survived 
from the brief school-days of this boy, there is 
not even a passing- reference to football or cricket. 
The only exercise which he seems to have been 
at libertv to enioy — and that from verv earlv 
years — was riding. Each year, however, after 
leaving Tavistock, he used to take an autumn 
holiday with his mother and sisters. In 1844 
and 1846 they went to Rydal ; in ] 847 they 
made a tour in Scotland; and in 1848 and 1849 
they travelled in Ireland. 

The absence of active recreation does not seem 
to have been compensated for by a decided appe- 
tite for literature. True, he was at some pains — 
after his desire to go to a University had been 
sacrificed to his father's wish for him to enter the 
business — to carry on such studies as his limited 
opportunities allowed, and for a couple of years 
after he came of age he used to study with a pri- 
vate tutor ; but he used books not so much from a 
love of literature, as from a desire for knowledge. 
His letters are not those of a bookish man ; and 
long afterwards he remarked once to Mr White, 
who still holds an important, confidential ajD- 
pointment in the head office, " I don't read, I 

But he had one darling occupation — one, too, in 


the pursuit of which he had the good fortune to 
be encouraged by his father. He was passion- 
ately fond of music, and learned to play with some 
skill on the organ. This taste was dominant 
with him throughout his life, and the last addi- 
tion to his country seat at Greenlands in 1885 
included the conversion of the kitchen into a 
large organ - room, in which was placed a fine 
instrument by Willis. 

It is perhajDS fruitless to speculate what his life 
might have been, and to what level he might 
have risen, had William Smith been allow^ed to 
follow his inclination in the choice of a profession. 
There are few parents who think it wise to thwart 
the decided prepossession of their sons for definite 
callings — few that do not rejoice when such jDre- 
possession for a worthy vocation is shown. Still, 
looking back over the circumstances surrounding 
Smith in boyhood and manhood, it is difficult 
to see matter for regret in the obstacles placed 
in the way of fulfilling his ambition. One can- 
not but see that his was a character requiring 
external pressure to develop it : had he become 
a clerk in Holy Orders, he might have filled a 
rural incumbency, with diligence indeed, and 
with profit for his own soul and the souls of his 
parishioners, but his light would not have shone 

38 LIFE OF ir. H. SMITH. 

before men, showing how pure and lofty prin- 
ciples can be successfully carried into the highest 
and most com23lex conditions of modern govern- 
ment. His private friends and parishioners 
might have gained something, but the public 
could not but have failed to lose much. In the last 
year of his life, in reply to a letter from his old 
friend, the Rev. H. H. D'Ombrain, vicar of West- 
well, congratulating him on his appointment to 
the Wardenship of the Cinque Ports, an honorary 
post reserved for the highest in the service of 
the State, Smith wrote : " Our courses in life 
have been very different, but if I had had my 
choice at twenty- one, I should have been as you 
are." There comes to mind a story told of old 
John Brown, the minister of Haddington, to 
whom a conceited young fellow, who thought 
himself too good for his calling, had expressed 
his ardent desire to be a minister of the Gospel. 
" I wish," he said, " to preach and glorify God." 
" My young friend," replied the cool-headed old 
divine, " a man may glorify God making broom 
besoms ; stick to your trade, and glorify God by 
your walk and conversation." 

To some such conclusion Smith's own strong- 
common - sense seems to have led him. Forty 
years later — in 1885 — he was writing to his 
daughter Emily, now the Hon. Mrs W. Acland, 


from Balmoral, where he was Minister in attend- 
ance on the Queen : — 

Your account of yourself remiuds me of my own feeling 
when I was young. I thought my life was aimless, pur- 
poseless, and I wanted something else to do ; but events 
compelled me to adhere to what promised to be a dull life 
and a useless one ; the result has been that few men have 
had more interesting and useful work to do — whether it 
has been done ill or well — than I have had. 

Man proposes and God disposes, and His dispositions 
yielded to and accepted turn out for our happiness. 

One of Smith's most constant correspondents 
during his early years was William Ince (now 
Canon Ince, of Christ Church, Oxford). Inter- 
spersed with copious reflections on serious sub- 
jects, especially on the development of the 
Tractarian movement, which Ince, as a Low 
Churchman, regarded with suspicion and aver- 
sion, there occur in his letters to Smith references 
to matters of the day which are not without in- 
terest at the present time : — 

30th Jany- ISJ^^- — ■ • • Pray, are you acquainted with 
Keble's ' Christian Year ' ? If not, I would advise you to 
get or borrow it of some one, as it contains some of the 
most melodious verses and beautiful sentiments that have 
been produced in modern times, and you may have it 
without much fear of being suspected of favouring the 
party to which its author belongs, as it is read and 
admired by all— even his bitterest opponents. 

30th March 184.6.— ... As for political parties, they 


appear to me to be all alike. One when in power pursues 
the very same line of policy which it denounced when 
out. Great broad principles are abandoned, and mere 
expediency is the guide of conduct. 

In writine: to Ince about this time Smith 
observed : — 

Your Bishop [Wilherforce] has come out in the House 
of Lords in good style — independently — like a man, and 
although he may have made a mistake or two, they are 
nothing to the spirit which is in the man. He will do 
you in Oxford immense good — make men who never 
thought of thinking for themselves (or acting, rather) 
first admire his energetic character, and then copy it. . . . 
I am amused, even among people who are a little educated, 
to observe the easiness with which a man first starting a 
subject can induce all the rest to follow in his steps — 
taking the same view of it. I suppose it must be so, or 
the world would be in a terrible mess. For my part, how- 
ever, I should be inclined to examine any conclusion, all 
the more because other men had arrived at it; and I do 
not think that even if I had thought, and expressed the 
thought, with them on a previous occasion, it would show 
either a dishonourable or a weak mind if, on further 
information and more consideration, I dissented from 
them and acted accordingly. 

Here is another extract from Ince's letters : — 

Dec. S, 184-S. — We had a grand treat here last week in 
Jenny Lind's concert ; nobody has talked of anything else 
since ; every anecdote of her stay and every word she 
uttered are most assiduously treasured up. Her singing- 
was certainly most enchanting, and besides its own 


intrinsic merit was enhanced by the simplicity and art- 
lessness of her manners, so utterly free from all affecta- 
tion, and so indicative of goodness. She sang two or three 
songs to the servants at the Angel where she staid, sang 
some pieces from the Messiah in New College Chapel, 
and, when asked by the Bodleian Librarian to sign her 
name in the book provided for distinguished visitors, 
refused, saying, " No ; Oxford is so great and I am so 

The circumstances of Smith's boyhood and 
youth forbade the planting of many friendships 
at that season when the tender rootlets of affec- 
tion creep silently and fasten themselves deeply 
into the fabric of a human life. With Ince his 
friendship was enduring ; he was almost the only 
one of whom he could have exclaimed with 
Charles Lamb : " Oh ! it is pleasant as it is 
rare to find the same arm linked in yours at 
forty, which at thirteen helped it to turn over 
the Cicero De amicitid, or some other tale of 
antique friendship, which the young heart even 
then w^as burning to anticipate." 











Notwithstanding the agitation of alternate 
hopes and fears as to the reaHsation of his 
dream of becoming a clergyman, young William 
Smith had shown no want of willing application 
to the business of news-agency, upon which he 
entered at the ag-e of sixteen. While it is im- 
possible to doubt the reality of his religious 
conviction and the large place which it filled 
in all his schemes for the future, it is equally 
impossible not to admire the resolution with 
which he acted on Candide's maxim — il faut 
cultiver notre jardin. 


There is an entry in his journal for Aug-ust 
1846, highly characteristic of his thoughtful 
and precise habit of mind : — 

The last few weeks have been marked with veiy im- 
portant and serious events. First came the decision 
affecting my future Hfe, of the results of which no one 
can form any estimate. Then my coming of age on 24th 
June was a serious event, as, with the hberal means 
afforded me by my father, and the general though tacit 
concession of freedom of thought and action, . . . the 
acknowledgment that I am a man — all have opened up 
fresh responsibilities and duties, without removing any 
that previously existed, . . . On the 30th ulto., Mr Ford 
waited upon us by appointment to take our joint instruc- 
tions as to the Partnership, which gives me £500 a-year 
clear, board and lodging, a comparative interest in the 
capital of £2000 — for seven years, but liable to six 
months' notice on either side. These terms, with which 
was coupled an express declaration that they were only 
temporary, as a prelude to much greater concessions, are 
extremely liberal and considerate. 

Somewhere about the year 1840 his father 
had bought Kilburn House, a pleasant suburban 
villa, then standing in ample private grounds, 
though it has now disappeared under the ad- 
vancing tide of bricks and mortar. This became 
the home of the family instead of the house 
in the Strand, and every week-day morning at 
four o'clock, summer and winter, the brougham 
used to come to the door to convey the father 


or son, or both of them, to the Strand office, 
to attend to the despatch of the papers by the 
early mails. 

You are correct [wrote young Smith to Mrs Beal in 
1847] in supposing that I have been iwevcnUd from writ- 
ing to you. I never remember such a period of excite- 
ment and hard work. I have been in town with Father, 
once at 3 o'clock in the morning, and every other day 
since the beginning of the season before 5, excepting 
jNIondays and Thursdays ; and we have already had 9 
special express engines to Liverpool, Manchester, and 
Birmingham, and they will run every day this week. 
All this I have mainly to arrange, and I can assure you 
it has worn me not a little. Constant excitement and 
anxiety during the days, and short and disturbed sleep at 
nights as the consequence, are gradually making me as 
low and nervous as I was a few months back. 

But exclusive reliance was not placed on the 
mail-coaches for the transmission of news. Light 
carts with fast horses were employed when the 
newspapers were late of coming from the pub- 
lishers, to overtake the mails ; and in addition 
to these, when any event of unusual importance 
took place, or when something of interest hap- 
pened too late for insertion in the papers of that 
day, Smith had his own mounted messengers, 
riding sometimes a couple of hours in front of 
the mails, distributing printed slips among his 
agents and customers in jDrovincial towns. 



V *g!=- 

J.'fv ?■ 

^"■^,- 1 I.J 



Not seldom it ^youl(l happen that, ^Yhen the 
House of Commons sat late, the publication of 
the ' Times ' was delayed until after the departure 
of the morning mails, by reason that it was the 
only journal which gave a full jDarliamentary re- 
port. Smith's men would be all ready to receive 
it and carry it into the country, thus enablino- 
readers to get their paper on the day of publica- 
tion, instead of waiting, as they would otherwise 
have had to do, till the arrival of the mail on 
the following morning. By this means, on the 
death of King William IV. in May 1837, Smith 
was enabled to carry the news into the country 
some hours in advance of the mails, and that not 
only into this country, but into Ireland, for he 
chartered a special packet to convey the papers to 
Belfast on the same day. By this boldness and 
activity, by never grudging expense in a matter 
of business, and by the excellent organisation of 
his staff, he had secured the confidence and 
favour both of publishers and country customers. 
" First on the road " was his maxim, and it 
brought his house ultimately to the position of 
first in the trade, for it enabled him to take full 
advantage of the change of system and rapid 
development of newspaper traflic consequent on 
the creation of railways. 

Some years after the exploit mentioned above. 

46 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [^t. 21. 

1842, writing to his son, Mr Smith had ex- 
ult ingly said : — 

I gave our Opposition a little taste on Saturday. I got 
the M°*'' Papers into Liverpool about 2 Hours before the 
time of the 6 O'Clk. arriving. I had lost ground a little 
there, but this has brought me right again. If our friend 
K.^ intends to continue the opposition he has begun, he 
must turn out a little of his money. 

Entering upon his first duties at the Strand 
office in 1842, young William Smith received an 
allowance of £200 a-year from his father. When 
he came of age in 1846, he was taken into the 
business on the terms noted above. At that time 
the property was valued at £80,527, 8s. 6d., and 
the new firm was registered as Messrs W. H. 
Smith & Son, the title by which it is still 

From the day that young Smith took the posi- 
tion of junior partner, new life made itself felt 
in the place. Old Mr Smith's temper had not 
improved with age. The early work now, as 
was natural, devolved on the junior partner ; his 
father used to drive over from Kilburn later in 
the day, and woe betide the onploye whom he 
found negflectino- or mismanaOTno- his task ! 

Things go on pretty smoothly [William writes to his 

Clayton, the largest news-agency of that day, and until 1854. 


sister Augusta in the first few months of his partnership]. 
Father is of course a little testy, but generally manage- 
able. He came down on Monday for half an hour, 
walked into the Counting-house, bowed to the people, 
then walked up-stairs, had his leg dressed, and then got 
into the carriage (which was waiting for him all the time), 
vowing " the place stunk — couldn't breathe " — and he 
" would not come down again for some time — it was 
wretched — such a noise too." 

There is no doubt that the senior partner's 
rule, though just, had become increasingly harsh 
of late years, and one who remembers the events 
of these days in the Strand house speaks warmly 
of the milder influence which prevailed as soon 
as young Smith entei-ed upon authority. Often, 
when some clerk or workman was smartino- under 
a prolonged chiding, which might have been well 
deserved, but was made almost unbearable by 
the fiercely sarcastic tone in which it was deliv- 
ered bv the old man, the son would wait his 
opportunity to pass near the culprit, and, paus- 
ing with a kindly look in his good brown eyes, 
tell him in a low voice not to take too much to 
heart the injurious words addressed to him — that 
his father had a touch of o-out on him — did not 
mean all he said, — and so on. The effect was 
wonderful in sweetenino- the dailv toil ; the men 
soon came to know that, with resolution and 
business capacity not inferior to his father, the 


son was of finer fibre and gentler disposition. 
His hand was not less firm on the reins, but it 
was more elastic. 

But the new partner s presence was not long 
in makino- itself felt far outside the walls of the 
counting-house and workshops. The business 
began to spread far beyond its original scope. 
Hitherto it had been strictlv confined to that of 
distributing newspapers, a trade in which Clay- 
ton's was still the largrest and leadingf house : it 
was by extending their operations to another and 
a wider field, that Smith & Son were ultimately 
able to turn the flank of their powerful rivals. 

As railways began to cover the land and 
travellers multiplied, bookstalls began to be a 
familiar feature of the principal stations. Some- 
times they had been started by the enterprise of 
local booksellers, who generally combined a dis- 
play of refreshment for the body with that of" 
food for the mind. Newspapers and novels were 
ranged in amicable jumble with beer - bottles, 
sandwiches, and jars of sweets. No regulations 
controlled the privilege of selling on railway plat- 
forms, and miscellaneous vendors pushed their 
humble trade at their own pleasure. Then the 
railway companies began to find bookstalls a con- 
venient means of providing occupation for men 
disabled, or for the widows of men killed, in their 


service ; and in the early days of railway travel- 
ling, when the longest stretch of rails was no 
more than thirty miles, and nobody wanted more 
than a newspaper to while away the journey, this 
answered all that was required. But, as jour- 
neys lengthened and travellers multiplied, more 
copious literature came in demand, and it is not 
surprising that complaints began to be heard 
that the people who were allowed the privilege 
of supplying it were often illiterate, and almost 
always untrained to the business. 

Another objectionable feature soon became mani- 
fest : to supply the demand of travelling readers, 
dealers furnished their stalls with literature of in- 
discriminate character. Cheap French novels of 
the shadiest class, and mischievous trash of every 
description which no respectable bookseller would 
offer, found purchasers ; indeed, it became notori- 
ous that some people sought for and found on 
railway stalls books that they would have been 
ashamed to inquire for from tradesmen with a 
character to lose. Attention was called to the 
disreputable nature of this traffic by letters to 
the newspapers, and the directors of the principal 
railways, recognising the necessity for its regula- 
tion, began to advertise for tenders for the rent 
of stalls on their stations. 

In this hitherto unpromising soil young Smith 

VOL. I. D 

50 LIFE OF TV. H. SMITH. [mt. 25. 

was not slow to discern the prospect of a rich 
harvest ; but in opening negotiations with the 
railway companies for the right to erect book- 
stalls, he had to encounter his father's opposi- 
tion, who was disinclined to go beyond what 
he looked on as the leo-itimate business of the 
firm — the circulation of newspapers — and scep- 
tical as to the profits to be derived from book- 
selling, pointing to the ill success of private 
adventurers in that line. Howbeit, the vouns" 
man ultimatelv orot his own wav, and the first 
decisive step in the course, which he had initi- 
ated bv buying up the ventures of local men 
on liberal terms, was accomplished when he 
concluded a lease with the London and North - 
Western Railway Company, giving the firm ex- 
clusive rio-hts for the sale of books and news- 
papers on their system. 

The companies, naturally concerned more about 
the profits of their shareholders than about the 
morals or mental development of their passengers, 
paid more regard to the amount ofiered in the 
tenders than to the respectability of the tender- 
ers ; consequently the quality of the wares ofiered 
by Smith & Son at the London and North- West- 
ern stations soon came into favourable contrast 
with that of the salesmen on other lines. An 
article which appeared in the ' Times ' of 9th 


August 1851 brings this out so clearly, and 
throws so much light on the principles on which 
Messrs W. H. Smith & Son started and main- 
tained their new business, and the vast advan- 
tage which it was the first to ensure to the 
travelling public, that it may be permitted to 
make somewhat lengthy extracts from it. After 
dwelling on the revolution effected by railwavs 
in social habits, the writer went on to sav : — 

^len cannot move their bodies and leave their minds 
behind them. . . . When disciples are restless, philoso- 
phers must needs be peripatetic. Are we turning this 
rushing and scampering over the land to real advantage ? 
Is the most made of the finest opportunity yet offered to 
this generation for guiding awakened thought and in- 
structing the eager and susceptible mind ? . . . Could it 
be possible that the conductors of our railways, all power- 
ful and responsible as they are, had either set themselves, 
or permitted others to establish on their ground, store- 
houses of positively injurious aliment for the hungry 
minds that sought refreshment on their feverish way ? 
Did they sell poison in their literary refreshment-rooms, 
and stuff of which the deleterious effects twenty doctors 
would not be sufficient to eradicate ? We resolved to 
ascertain at the earliest opportunity, and within a week 
visited every railway terminus in this metropolis. It 
was a painful and humiliating inspection. AVith few 
exceptions, unmitigated rubbish encumbered the book- 
shelves of almost every bookstall we visited, and indi- 
cated only too clearly that the hand of ignorance had 
been indiscriminately busy in piling up the worthless 

52 LIFE OF JV. H. SMITH. [jet. 25. 

mass. The purchasers were not few or far between, but 
the greater the number, the more melancholy the scene. 
Were all the buyers daily travellers ? Did they daily 
make these precious acquisitions ? If so, it was a dismal 
speculation to think how many journeys it would take to 
destroy for ever a literary taste that might have been per- 
fectly healthy when it paid for its first day ticket. . . . 

As we progressed north, a wholesome change became 
visible in railway bookstalls. We had trudged in vain 
after the schoolmaster elsewhere, but we caught him by 
the buttQn at Euston Square,^ and it is with the object of 
making him less partial in his walks that we now venture 
thus publicly to appeal to him. At the North- Western 
terminus we diligently inquired for that which required 
but little looking after in other places, but we poked in 
Vain for the trash. If it had ever been there, the broom 
had been before us and swept it clean away. . . . When 
the present proprietor of the Euston Square book-shop 
acquired the sole right of selling books and newspapers 
on the London and North- We stern Eailway, he found at 
the various stations on the line a miscellaneous collection 
of publications of the lowest possible character, and ven- 
dors equally miscellaneous and irresponsible, ... At one 
fell swoop the injurious heap was removed. At first the 
result was most discouraging. An evident check had 
been given to demand ; but as the new proprietor was 
gradually able to obtain the assistance of young men who 
had been educated as booksellers, and as public attention 
was drawn to the improvement in the character of the 
books exposed for sale, the returns perceptibly improved, 
and have maintained a steady progressive increase greatly 

1 The terminus of the London and North-Western line, where 
Messrs Smith & Son had erected bookstalls. 


in excess of the proportion to be expected from the in- 
crease of travelling up to the present time. . . , Un- 
expected revelations came forth in the course of the 
inquiry. It has been remarked that persons who appa- 
rently would be ashamed to be found reading certain 
works at home, have asked for publications of the worst 
character at the railway bookstall, and, being unable to 
obtain them, have suddenly disappeared. , . . Cheap 
literature is a paying literature, if judiciously managed. 
A host of readers are springing up along tlie lines of rail, 
and imitators of the North-Western missionary will not 
long be wanting at every terminus in the kingdom. 
Eailway directors will find it their interest no less than 
their duty to secure the co-operation of intelligent men, 
and bookstalls will crave for wholesome food, which our 
chief purveyors must not be slow to furnish. 

In this great work of purifying the sources of 
information and amusement, it must not be sup- 
posed that the " North- Western missionary " was 
acting solely upon principles of self-interest. 
There was plentv of demand for the kind of 
literature which he was determined to discourage. 
It is on record that already as much as £600 had 
been paid as the annual rent of a bookstall at a 
London terminus, and the profits accruing from 
the old traffic were jeopardised by a sudden 

It cannot have been an easy matter to com- 
pile an Index ExiDurgatorius. From first to last, 
letters came in from correspondents indignantly 


complaining of the profligacy of some of the 
books sold. Thus in 1853 a gentleman wrote 
expressing surprise that Byron's ' Don Juan ' was 
on sale at some of the stations, calling upon 
Smith to prevent " such a vile book as that to 
pollute his stalls," and indicating his intention 
to follow up this letter with another on the 
subject of Alexandre Dumas's novels. As late 
as 1888 Smith was reproached by another corre- 
spondent for allowing the ' Sporting Times ' to 
be exposed for sale. 

There was, besides, more than the custom 
of the trade and a depraved public taste to be 
overcome in setting the bookstall business going : 
young Smith had also, in this matter, an enemy 
of his ow^n household, for this branch of the busi- 
ness never, from first to last, found favour in old 
Mr Smith's eyes. Often, so long as he continued 
to visit the Strand, wdien he saw a pile of books 
in the counting - house, he would gruflly order 
their removal, or if he met a man carrvino- a 
parcel of them, he would ask him w^iat he meant 
" by bringing such rubbish into my premises." 

It is surprising how soon the son's quiet con- 
fidence succeeded in establishing the bookstall 
business. Besides acquiring the monopoly on the 
London and North- Western system, he continued 
to extend his operations on other lines of railway, 


and wherever he had an opportunity, bought up 
the local man, who was often glad to be let out 
on easy terms. The railway companies and the 
public soon became familiar with the bookstalls 
of W. H. Smith & Son, and the business became 
so extensive, that in 1849, only three years after 
its creator had entered the firm, it became neces- 
sary to appoint separate departmental managers. 
It was to the well-known firm of wholesale book- 
sellers, Messrs Hamilton, Adams, & Co., that 
young Smith applied for assistance, and, on 
their recommendation, selected for the book 
department in connection with the bookstalls 
a young man of the name of Sandifer. It was 
a most happy choice, and the enormous develop- 
ment of the department, and its popularity with 
the public, must be largely credited to the unfail- 
ing sagacity with which, for upwards of forty 
vears, it was conducted by Mr Sandifer. ^ 

From this humble beginning there took its rise 
what must now be looked upon as a great institu- 
tion. At first, each bookstall clerk had to make 
a weekly return to the head oflfice of every book 
sold of one shilling and upwards in value ; it 
often happened that one such list was easily 
written on half a sheet of notepaper. But once 

1 Mr Sandifer continued manager of this department till his 
death, after a short iUness, in 1887. 


started in the hands of a powerful firm, and con- 
centrated under control of a competent manager, 
the enterprise, which had proved so disastrous to 
many isolated local traders, began to advance by 
leaps and bounds. One after another the great 
railway companies ceded to Smith & Son the ex- 
clusive right to erect bookstalls at their stations. 
It was not easy to meet the requirements of such 
sudden expansions as were caused by acquiring 
the whole of the London and South- Western sys- 
tem about 1852, that of the London and Brighton 
a few years later, and that of the Great Western 
in 1862. To man and supply with literature 
so many new stations involved taking on an 
immense number of new hands, as well as con- 
siderable capital expenditure. But the junior 
partner had a quick eye for capabilities, and was 
constantly on the watch to secure the services of 
young men in the great wholesale houses, who, 
as the firm of Smith & Son rose in reputation, 
often came to ask for employment. He never let 
a promising young fellow past him, but was 
always ready to engage him, even if, as would 
sometimes happen, there was no niche into which 
he could be fitted at the moment.-^ 

^ This faculty of detecting " form at a glance " (if it may be 
permitted to borrow from the jjhraseology of a system so foreign 
to Smith's habits and character as the turf) never left him . Diu'ing 
his later years it happened that he attended a meeting of fifteen 


Sometimes a young man, " too big for his 
boots," would show an inchnation to sniff at 
being put in charge of a railway bookstall. The 
trade had an indifferent reputation at first, and 
such an appointment was not looked upon as that 
of a leo'itimate bookseller. 

" We'll raise it, Mr ," replied young Smith 

to one who had offered some such objection — 
" we'll raise it. I am not at all sure that it may 
not be made as respectable as Paternoster Row." 

These young men were educated to gauge the 
literary taste of the various districts. Some 
curious information, showing^ how this varied 
according to locality, is given in the ' Times ' 
article quoted from above. 

Stations have their idiosyncrasies. Yorkshire is not 
partial to poetry. It is difficult to sell a valuable book 
at any of the stations between Derby, Leeds, and Man- 
chester. Eeligious books hardly find a purchaser at 

or twenty persons, held to promote a certain object, in the house of 
his colleague, the Eight Hon. Edward Stanhope, M.P. One of the 
gentlemen present, at the request of Mr Stanhope, acted as secre- 
tary during the proceedings, which lasted about an hour. Twelve 
months later. Smith went to Mr Stanhope and asked the name of 
the gentleman who had acted as secretary on that occasion, for he 
said he had been so favourably impressed with his business-like 
qualities in the short time he had witnessed them that he wished 
to meet him again, in order, if a second interview confirmed his 
impressions, to offer him a high and lucrative post in the house in 
the Strand. 

58 LIFE OF jr. H. SMITH. 

Liverpool, while at IManchester, at the other end of the 
line, they are in hiQ-h demand. 

One secret of young Smith's influence upon 
young men, and the ascendancy which he gained 
over them, was the patience he showed in wait- 
ing for development of character and powers. So 
long as he saw a man willing — so long as his 
shortcomings could be explained by inexperience 
and not by negligence — he was most slow to dis- 
courage him by rebuke : he used to say that he 
preferred, even at the risk of temporary loss of 
profits, to let a man find out his own mistakes 
rather than check him at once. No one knew 
better than Smith the truth of the adage, ex 
quovis ligno nonjlt Mercurms ; but no one bore 
more constantly in mind that to be carved into an 
effigy is not the only use to which timber may be 
put, and that, of the two, a gatepost is more 
often of service than a god. 

It was remarkable how soon each new hand 
entering the employment seemed to imbibe the 
spirit pervading the concern, — to become jealous 
for its character and zealous in its interests. No 
doubt this may be accounted for in part by the 
system of allowing the clerks a liberal percentage 
on the sales at their stalls ; but it is not possible ' 
to discourse with one of the stafi" who knew the 
business in its beginnings, without acquiring the 

h^^l flfe./\ ,J.\^. '^ 









conviction that, in large measure, this esprit du 
corps had its origin in the personal influence of 
the junior partner. 

When the Milanese critic Lomazzo chose cog- 
nisances or emblems for the master- painters of 
the Italian Renaissance, symbolisino- their various 
genius, he assigned to Michael Angelo the dragon 
of contemplation, and to Mantegna the serpent of 
sagacitv, but for Raphael he reserved the image 
of man — the type of intelligence and urbanity.-^ 
It may seem a strained analoo-v that suo-crests 
itself between the characters of two men whose 
life-work difiered as widely in kind as their 
social environment, but, in truth, the biographer 
of each has to record traits and method of 
influence upon others closely similar. Vasari 
wrote of Raphael that his kindly nature pre- 
vailed, even more than his art, to endear him 
to men ; he dwells on his gentleness, his modesty, 
his courtesy, his anxiety to help others — above 
all, his freedom from jealousy, — a sin besetting 
artists not more closely than statesmen.- These 
are precisely the qualities which distinguished 
Smith above his fellows, whether in the days 
when he was busy building up the great business 
in the Strand, or in after-days, when he was 

1 Symonds, Italian Renaissance : The Fine Arts. 
- Vasari, Lives of the Painters, vol. viii. pp. 6, 60. 


called on to undertake some of the highest offices 
in the State. Indeed, had he lived in an age 
when men were named according to their personal 
qualities, no more fitting appellation could have 
been devised for him than Smith — the Smoother.^ 
Further, there was something in the concord pre- 
vailing among all classes in the employment of 
the Strand house, a concord established by the 
younger Smith, and enduring now that he has 
gone to his rest — something in the devotion to 
and confidence in their chief, felt and expressed 
by every one in that vast workshop, that calls to 
mind the spirit described by Vasari as animating 
the painters, sculptors, builders, decorators, en- 
gravers, and other handicraftsmen who worked 
under Raphael in his Roman hottega. 

But it would be a mistake to suppose that 
Smith was indiscriminate in indulo-ence. His 
principle was, once he had chosen and appointed 
a man to his duty, to put complete trust in him. 
That trust was seldom betrayed, and Smith was 
ever slow to be convinced that it had been for- 
feited ; but in the rare instances when he was 
justly offended, he never gave a man an oj^por- 

^ There is no reality in Dean Trench's specious derivation of 
" smith = one that smiteth"; the laws of comjaarative philology 
are against it, and point to the real affinity with "smooth." A 
smith is therefore not one who smites but one who smooths — a 


tunity of deceiving him a second time. In visit- 
ing neglect of duty, he was as stern as his father, 
though not so unreserved in rebuke. Many years 
ago, when travelling on one of the southern lines, 
he observed that, as the train entered an import- 
ant station, the bookstall clerk did not turn round 
and face it according to his instructions, but re- 
mained inattentive, and engaged in conversation 
with some acquaintance. The man was not only 
reprimanded, but his promotion was seriously 
retarded by the act of negligence which his em- 
ployer had witnessed. He has since proved 
in a higher sphere that he was thoroughly 
capable of discharging more important duties. 

A clerk in the counting-house, who had been 
dismissed for gross misconduct, appeared before 
Smith one morning to plead for forgiveness. 

" Think of my mother, sir," he said ; " she 
has no one to dejDend on but me, and if you 
dismiss me without a character, I shall be unable 
to support her." 

" You should have thouo-ht of your mother 
before, sir," was all the answer given by Smith. 

If the inflexible justice with which he meted 
out punishment to wrong-doers sometimes ap- 
proached severity, it was no more than the reflex 
of the perfect confidence he reposed in his men 
until they did something to forfeit it. 

62 LIFE OF jr. H. SMITH. 

A notable feature in the history of this house 
has been the rareness of instances of men em- 
ployed in it setting up in business for themselves. 
The liberality with which they have been treated 
— their confidence in the known practice of their 
emplovers to advance their interests as the pros- 
perity of the business gi*ew, have given them 
such a feeling of security as to deprive them of 
the belief they could do any better on their own 
account. It is but fair to observe that the 
constant expansion of the trade has tended not 
a little towards this result. Promotion has been 
kept moving at a rate which would have been 
impossible in any business less constantly under 
the influence of the flowinof tide. Neither in 
newspaper circulation nor in bookstall literature, 
nor in the other departments into which, as will 
presently be mentioned, the business came to 
be extended, has there ever been a check in the 
demand : the volume of transactions has ever 
been on the increase, there has been no embar- 
rassing fluctuation in prices, and the cold shade 
of depression which has fallen from time to time 
on nearly every industry has never vet darkened 
the house in the Strand ; consequently the rela- 
tions of employer and employed have never been 
subjected to the heavy strain involved in a re- 
duction of the rate of pay. It may occur to 


some employers, less favoured by the turn of 
events, that it is easy, under smiling circum- 
stances such as these, to keep a large estab- 
lishment in good - humour, and to retain the 
devotion of old servants. No doubt there is 
much practical reason in this : the influence 
of wise management, willing service, and pros- 
perity mutually react on each other ; but if 
any one of these conditions is interrupted, the 
fruits of the others are apt to be wasted. 

Younof Smith did not suffer close attention to 
business to prevent him taking an active part in 
philanthropic work. The services which he ren- 
dered to King's College Hospital extended over 
more than forty years, and are summarised in 
a resolution of condolence passed by the Com- 
mittee of Manao-ement after his death in 1891, 
wherein they affirm that — 

They are bound in gratitude to recall the long, varied, and 
important services which Mr Smith rendered to King's 
College Hospital. The munificent contributions made by 
him personally, and by the firm of Messrs W. H. Smith & 
Son, would alone ensure a grateful remembrance of his 
name. But the Committee are still more indebted to him 
for the personal guidance and support which he rendered 
to the Hospital, ever since he joined the Committee in 
1849. . . . Since then, he served the offices of Auditor 
in 1862, and of Vice-Chairman from 1862-1864. For 
some time after his resignation of the latter office, he 


continued to attend the meetings of the Committee, and 
in February 1874 he was elected a Vice-President. After 
his public duties prevented him from taking any active 
part in the management of the Hospital, he was always 
ready to give his advice and assistance on any occasion 
of anxiety or difficulty. . . . For all these benefits his 
name can never cease to be remembered with gratitude 
by the Committee and the friends of the Hospital, and 
the memory of his connection with it will ever be cher- 
ished as one of its chief honours and encouragements. 















It is now time to trace some further steps in 
the development of the Strand business, and 
record circumstances which contributed to its 

Besides the expansion of newspaper traffic re- 
sulting from the rapid increase of the pojoulation 
of the United Kingdom, and perhaps in a greater 
degree from the spread of education, the business 
of journalism, and its handmaid, news -agency, 
received a sudden and extraordinary impetus by 

VOL. I. E 

66 LIFE OF JV. H. SMITH. [^t. 29. 

the abolition of the newspaper stamp-duty by Mr 
Bright's Act of 1854. The immediate effect was 
a reduction in the price of newspapers, and an 
enormous increase in the demand for them. 

The standing which the energy of the elder 
Smith had already secured for his business in 
the days when he worked it single-handed, the 
indefatigable pluck which he had shown in 
carrying out his principle of " first on the road," 
and the perseverance which the new firm had 
maintained in deserving- the confidence of the 
public as Avell as of publishers, enabled Smith 
& Son to reap the full advantage of the sudden 
expansion of the trade. On June 21, 1854, the 
most signal proof was given of their pre-eminence 
in this respect by a circular issued on that day 
from the ' Times ' office, intimating that the 
proprietors of that powerful journal had deter- 
mined that for the future " all papers required 
by Messrs Smith & Son for distribution in the 
country shall be delivered to them by the Pub- 
lishers before any other Agent is supplied. ' The 
Country ' is understood to include all railway 
stations, and to exclude London and the Metro- 
politan districts, as defined by the Post Office. 
Messrs Smith & Son will distribute for the Lon- 
don Agents, at a fair price, the Papers required 
by them for the service above defined." 


The importance of this document, which really 
amounted to a charter of monopoly in agency for 
the principal journal in the world, can scarcely be 
overestimated, and the effect was practically to 
place the firm out of reach of the competition alike 
of Clayton's and all others which had exercised the 
elder Smith so sorelv in l^vo-one years. It did 
even more than this, for it obliged every whole- 
sale agent to come to Smith's for his supply of 
the ' Times.' 

The relief afforded to newspaper proprietors by 
Bright's Act of 1854 put them in a position to 
deal worthilv with the Crimean War, which broke 
out in the autumn of that year. Telegraphic 
communication had been established since the 
last great European war, and the ' Times ' was 
the earliest to take advantage of it by sending 
out the first of the class of war correspondents, 
Dr W. H. Russell, whose graphic despatches 
enabled peojDle at home to follow day by day, 
not only the events of the war, but the fortunes 
of every regiment engaged in it. This gave an 
immense impetus to the circulation of this enter- 
prising journal, and, of course, was to the advan- 
tage of the firm which had become their sole 
countrv accents. 

The business had by this time grown to a 
scale far beyond the failing powers of old Mr 


Smith ; the scheme and details of organisation 
devolved entirely upon his son, who from that 
day forward was practically the managing head 
of the firm. It is true that the old gentle- 
man still continued to busy himself in the office 
as often and as long as his health permitted. 
He used to drive down in his brougham from 
Kilburn about nine in the morning, attended 
to correspondence, and pored over the ledgers, 
till, as sometimes happened, he fell down in a 
swoon. His presence, however, far from help- 
ing business, was a hindrance to it, for the 
breakdown of his health, while it left his will 
as imperious as ever, had told disastrously on his 
temper. Yet his son, however sorely he must 
have been tried sometimes, never failed in loyal 
support to his father's authority. One day a cus- 
tomer came into the office to complain that a bill 
which he had already paid had been sent in a 
second time. Old Smith vowed that such a thing 
was impossible, and maintained that the bill had 
not been paid. The customer was equally con- 
fident that it had been settled, lost his temper, 
and roundly abused his would-be creditor, upon 
which young Smith left his seat, and, saying 
quietly to the justly irate customer, " I can't 
allow any one to speak to my father like that, 
sir ! " led him to the door, and assured him that 


strict inquiry should be made into the matter. 
The result was to prove that the account had 
been settled, as had been alleo-ed. 

On another occasion, after considerable trans- 
actions had taken place with the great printing- 
house of M'Corquodale, old Mr Smith insisted 
upon going over the accounts himself. Although 
it had long been his custom to spend much time 
examining the books and accounts of the firm, he 
had not the gift of following any but clear debtor 
and creditor statements of simple transactions ; 
complicated details always threw him into a state 
of hopeless perplexity, and the irritation he felt 
at the consciousness of his want of capacity in 
this respect sometimes found vent in a momentary 
explosion of wrath against those who happened 
to be nearest. So, havino- landed himself in a 
maze of bewilderment over these accounts, he 
suddenlv brougiit his fist down on the book with 
a bang, and exclaimed hotly that his son and 
M'Corquodale were in a conspiracy to ruin him. 
Young" Smith rose and, lavino- his hand on his 
father's shoulder, said earnestlv : " Father, vou 
know that I would rather lose ni}^ right hand 
than see you robbed." The ebullition was over 
in a moment. 

The labour thrown upon the willing shoulders 
of the junior partner soon became more than one 

70 LIFE OF JV. H. SMITH. [jet. 29. 

man could transact. For several years It was 
his practice to rise each week-day at four in the 
morning, swallow a cup of coffee, and drive to 
the Strand office, by 5 a.m. People still in the 
business can remember how^ he was then the cen- 
tral figure in the paper-sorting office, with coat 
off, shirt-sleeves rolled back, and hands and arms 
deeply dyed with printers' ink off the wet sheets; 
and they speak warmly of his admirable method. 
The newspapers were often delivered so late from 
the printing-houses as to cause much anxiety, yet 
there was a complete absence of the fuss and 
hustling from which, under other management, 
the staff had sometimes had to suffer. 

One of these early morning starts from Kil- 
burn was marked by an unpleasant incident 
which might have had serious consequences. It 
was the duty of a servant to put some coffee 
readv overnioht for his master, who, on risinof, 
lighted the spirit-lamp, so that by the time he 
was dressed, a hot cup Avas jDrepared for him. 
By a sleepy-headed blunder one night this ser- 
vant put into the pot, not coffee, but cayenne 
pepper, either wholly or in part. Smith, not 
observing in the dim light any difference in the 
mixture, gulped down half a cupful before he dis- 
covered the mistake ! He afterwards described 
the sensation as nothino' short of excruciatins". 


But if he was ungrudgiDg in the length and 
severity of his own labours, he soon gave prac- 
tical proof of his consideration for the reasonable 
recreation of others. This was before the time 
when much had been heard of the earlv-closino;' 
movement, yet he was one of the earliest and 
most practical advocates of it. for he very soon 
brought about a shortening of the hours in the 
Strand office. Saturday half-holidays were al- 
most unknown in the " fifties " ; young Smith 
took a leading part in establishing what is now 
an almost universal and beneficial rule in good 
trading houses. He organised periodical excur- 
sions on the river for the whole staff in the 
Strand, and provided intellectual recreation for 
them for after- work hours. A monthly parlia- 
ment was set up for the discussion of questions 
affectino;' the working- classes, but it soon Ian- 
guished and died, for the employes of the firm 
found they had no grievances to discuss. How 
long, it may be asked, Avould interest in the 
debates at Westminster endure, if there were 
no grievances, no Supply, and no foreign 
policy ? 

Devoted and capable as he was, young Smith 
began, about the year 1854, to find the strain 
of constantly increasing work getting beyond his 
powers. In this year he renewed acquaintance 



[jet. 29. 

with an old Tavistock schoolfellow, William 
Lethbridge, then an assistant master at Rossal 
school. Smith invited his old friend to pay him a 
visit ; the result was that their early intimacy was 
renewed : Lethbridofe became interested in the 
details of the newspaper and bookstall business, 
and in the end was admitted into the firm as 
a partner. 

Previously to this, a totally new branch of 
business had been entered ujDon, which was be- 
ginning to reach proportions hardly inferior to 
those of the bookstall trade. Advertising may 
be said to have been in its infancy at the com- 
mencement of the railway movement, but the 
instincts of trades-people began to awake to the 
opportunity afforded by the blank walls of rail- 
way stations of making known to travellers the 
merits of their goods. It seemed to them ex- 
pedient that as, in the latter days, men began 
to run to and fro, so should their knowledge 
(of the excellence of Heal's bedsteads and Brog- 
den's watch-chains, &c.^) be increased. The first 
stages of what has now become an enormous sys- 
tem were as modest and ill-regulated as those of 
the bookstalls : the course adopted was the same ; 

1 These two firms were almost the first to avail themselves of tlie 
great impetus to advertisement given by the Great Exhibition of 
1851, and to start pictorial advertisement. 


the companies began to advertise for tenders for 
the use of their walls, and in almost every case 
Smith & Son were the successful tenderers. 

But it was some time before the firm could feel 
satisfied of the prudence of their new under- 
taking. The initial outlay of capital was very 
heavv, and for a time the returns were insio:ni- 
ficant. Old Mr Smith fidgeted and fumed at the 
rent paid to the railway companies, and at the 
cost of providing frames for advertisements, of 
printing, agents, and bill-posters. But young- 
Smith's sao-acious confidence enabled him to 
overcome all opposition, and in 1854 the balance- 
sheet of this branch showed a slight profit 
on the year's transactions, with prospects of in- 
definite improvement. The expenses during 
that year amounted to £9800 (including £7100 
paid as rent to the railway companies), the re- 
ceipts came to £9930, producing a net profit of 
£130. But the corner had been turned, the 
future was big with indefinite increase, and the 
anxiety caused by the absorption of so much 
capital was once and for all at an end. 

The business in 1854 thus consisted of three 
great branches, each in process of swift and some- 
times sudden expansion — the newspaper agency, 
under direct control of the younger Smith ; the 
bookstall trade, managed by Mr Sandifer ; and 


the railway advertisement department, under 
Messrs Moore and Small. A fourth branch, 
hardly less important than the others, was to be 
added in the course of a few years ; but before 
alluding further to that, it may be instructive 
to examine into the effect all this incessant work, 
and the splendid success attending- upon it, had 
upon the mind and habits of one whose early 
inclination had been for a very diflPerent sphere 
of action. 

Had the press and s'train of business, and the 
excitement of fortunate enterprise, driven from 
his thoughts those subjects upon which, as a 
youth, he had pondered so deeply and con- 
stantly ? Had the flush of achievement and the 
seduction of increasing gains blotted out those 
higher views, or loosened the strict principles 
which guided him into manhood ? By no means. 
It is only necessary to turn over some of the 
letters written by Smith at this period, and 
especially the private notes (they are not con- 
secutive enough to amount to a journal), in- 
tended for no eye but his own, to be convinced 
that he was still deeply devout, and concerned 
far more about another and better world than 
he was about the affairs of this one. 

To read his character aright — to learn that a 
tradesman may be sagacious, industrious, am- 


bitious, and successful, and yet never lose sight 
of the object set before him by a simple unfailing- 
faith — it is necessary to quote a few sentences 
showing the matters ujDon which his mind, as 
soon as he was released from business, continu- 
ally revolved. His sister Augusta was always 
a favourite corresjDondent, and the letters he 
addressed to her while he was at school were 
the first of a series which extended throucrh his 
life till within a few weeks of its close. Here 
is part of one written in pencil during a journey 
to Dublin. 

3. 3. '53. 

My deak Gussy, — I am flying along the London and 
ISTorth-Western by Express Train somewhere near Tring 
at this moment, probably near Eugby before I have done. 
. . . Father wishes me to stay in DubHn a fortnight, but 
I don't think I ought to be away from home more than 
three days at the outside, and I therefore think of leaving 
Dublin again on Friday, even if I have to return next 
week.^ I have not told him so, because it is best to let 
him think he is having his way. Although in really 
good health, as far as I can see — and you know I have as 
nervous a disposition with regard to him as any one can 
have — he chafes more under the small annoyances of 
business, so as to become nervously irritated beyond 
anything I ever remember, giving three people notice to 
leave in one day, and suchlike things ; but he is most 
kind and considerate to me. Still all this occasions 

^ Messrs Smith & Son had at this time a branch office in Dublin. 


anxiety to me, and I am almost afraid of going away, not 
knowing what violent changes may take place in my 
absence, in his desire to get rid of the business. I find, 
too, that his excitement is much greater when I am away, 
and increases in proportion to the length of time, as 
everything comes before him. ... I trust Providence, 
who makes a way for us in the greatest difficulties, will 
make our way straight before us. If it were not for the 
perfect confidence I feel that this must be so — cannot be 
otherwise — I should sometimes be very unhappy ; for 
with the positive certainty of great changes impending, I 
know not what may be the next step I ought to take. 

I sometimes feel that Father's happiness in his later 
days, and the comfort of the family, depend on me, and 
then I feel and know I am absolutely blind, and can 
really do nothing whatever of my own judgment ; but I 
know also that if I, and we all, desire absolutely and 
without reservation to be guided aright, that guidance 
will be granted to us, and we need not and ought not to 
fear or doubt in the darkest night of uncertainty and 
human difficulty. I do sometimes tremble lest I should 
fail to do a man's part in the order of God's providence, 
for although He orders, guides, and directs, there is still 
the responsibility of action with us after all, and there- 
fore I pray that my eyes may be opened to comprehend 
what He would have me to do, and I am assured that a 
way and means and strength will be given for any and 
every occasion. The confidence that all things are 
absolutely right, however painful and diflficult now, turns 
what would otherwise be troubles into sources of thank- 
fulness — so I feel of all the unsettled circumstances of 
the past and present. They are necessary to some good 
and right end, if we (for I believe there is a power in 
]\Ian to thwart Providence) w411 have it so. 


I have gone on writing this without quite intending it, 
just as I would talk with you ; . . . but there is solid 
pleasure in the conviction that we are of one mind in 
these things : wherever we are, we can think of each 
other, and w^e can pray that we may each, individually 
and as one family, be directed in all things by a wisdom 
which can do no wrong, and whose purposes are, I entirely 
believe, both present and future happiness with regard to 
us. Do not think I am at all low or sad. With the 
exception of very transient occasions, I never felt greater 
reason for cheerfulness. 

All this was written cury^ente stylo — evidently 
without premeditation or reconsideration, for 
there is hardly a word altered from first to last. 
It is the genuine, spontaneous expression of the 
writer's meditation — unadulterated communion 
with a sister to whom he was accustomed to talk 
and write without reserve. There may be some 
readers. Impatient of religious epanche'nient , dis- 
posed to smile at the simple faith so openly 
confessed ; but even to these, If they have any 
desire to understand the man, it is necessary 
to know what he thought of, and how he ex- 
pressed it. 

Journals are, as a rule, tainted with the sus- 
picion of self-consciousness : one fancies that the 
diarist harbours, and does not shrink from the 
prospect of ultimate, though perhaps posthum- 
ous, publicity. Nevertheless, there is In Smith's 

78 LIFE OF Jr. H. SMITH. [mt. 30. 

journals something so apart from vainglory — so 
much in contrast with his daily arena of prosper- 
ous, bustling commerce — that a few extracts must 
be made from these time-stained pages. 

Saturday, March 17, ISoo. — ... I know the Sin 
which most easily besets me, and have now solemnly 
vowed never again to give way to it, even by thought and 
by desire, and I register this my resolve, made, not in my 
own strength, but in humble dependence on one who is 
able to save all who trust in him, and who did not teach 
his disciples to say in vain, " lead us not into temptation, 
but deliver us from evil." . . . 

Monday, March 19. — . . . The world has had the 
dominion in its cares and anxieties. I have also been 
dejDressed and not sufficiently trustful for my future 
domestic life. It is very difficult for man to draw the 
line between the intelligent exercise of the personal duties 
and responsibilities devolving upon him — his own part 
in working out the designs of Providence and that anxious 
care which becomes Sin. Let me remember the word — 
" being careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer 
and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be 
made known unto God, and the peace of God shcdl keep 
your hearts," &c. 

Tuesday, April 10. — A day of many mercies and of one 
trial; but I will praise God for all his mercies, and pray 
to him for more, and I shall not be disappointed, for 
none ever asked in faith and was sent empty away. 
The Lord increase my faith and enable me to pray 
always. ... 

Thursday, April 12. — I have passed through a day of 
much care and anxiety and occupation. It has also been 


marked by a step which may affect my future life. Oh 
that I could more entirely trust in Him who has the dis- 
posing of events, who ordereth all things well; but I 
deplore for myself that depression as to things material 
and temporal w'^ arises from a want of trust in Him who 
ruleth. May I trust in him with all my heart, and 
possess the Peace which passeth all understanding ! . . . 
Monday, April 16. — I am thankful that I have not 
been so desponding to-day as I have been on former days, 
but, on the other hand, I am aware of ideas and schemes 
within me which may not proceed so entirely from a 
desire to render glory to my God as they ought to do. 
I pray again that he may direct me in all my ways, for 
no earthly good can be less than evil — unless it be 
blessed by Him. 

Enough ! we have in these passages, taken at 
random from amono- much else of similar tenor, 
not the sentimental lucubrations of a self-con- 
scious idler or the vague apprehensions of a 
morbid-minded youth (Smith at this time was 
thirty), but the key-note of a laborious use- 
ful life, which, though far from purposeless in 
material concerns or wanting in sympathy for 
fellow-men, was directed resolutely yet humbly 
towards a lofty and distant goal. The sceptic, 
even if he does not euYj the confidence, can- 
not impugn the manliness of this simple faith, 
nor doubt its sinceritv ; while he who shares it, 
however imperfectly, must be encouraged by the 
proof given that there is nothing to prevent one 


who is an earnest and anxious Christian being 
also a good man of business and a citizen of the 

But, after all, however pious, and even blame- 
less, may be the jDrivate life of an individual — 
however wisely he may moralise, and however con- 
stantly he may ponder on motives of conduct — 
how^ever strict may be his observance of religious 
ordinances, he cannot but earn mistrust unless 
the effect of it all can be clearly traced in his 
worldly action. So it is natural that one should 
scrutinise closely the extent to which the prin- 
ciples, so clearly and constantly professed in the 
family and congregations, moulded the conduct of 
the Smiths in their business. It was marked 
very plainl}^, indeed ; and through all the years 
which have passed since the time described, the 
character and regulation of the house have been 
in consistency with the profession of its founder. 
Men in the employment speak enthusiastically of 
the justice, consideration, and liberality with 
which they have always been treated ; but these 
virtues are no monopoly of Christians, still less of 
strict Methodists, or members of the Church of 
England. The point on which more importance 
is laid by these bodies than by any other section 
of the Church, except, perhaps, the Presbyterian 
Church of Scotland, is the observance of the 


Lord's Day. Men may hold what views they 
please about the best means of keeping it holy ; 
each one may hear the voice of his own con- 
science, if he listens for it, telling what it is right 
to do for that end, and what it is wrong not to 
refrain from doing. But all men would agree, 
and would be just in agreeing, in condemnation 
of those who, holding certain observances to be 
necessary or conducive to their own salvation, 
should call upon men for service incompatible 
with their respecting the same observances. 

It has always been a rule in Smith & Son's 
that no work should be done on Sundays. To 
this rule tiiere is on record only a single excep- 
tion. This occurred in September 1855, shortly 
after the battle of Alma : the despatches con- 
taining the nominal list of killed and wounded 
arrived late on Saturday night, and after consulta- 
tion with his father, young Smith called upon the 
staff to sacrifice their Sunday rest in order that 
special supplements might be distributed in Lon- 
don and the provinces, 

Li contrast to this incident, and to show that 
this was done, not to enhance the reputation 
of the firm or to conciliate customers, but to 
put a speedy end to the doubts, fears, and — 
alas ! — to the hopes of many distracted families, 
it is only necessary to mention another incident 

VOL. I. F 


which happened some years later. Messrs Smith 
received a command to supply one of the Royal 
Family with newspapers. Among other journals 
on the list accompanying the command was the 
' Observer,' published then, as now, on Sunday 
morning. The command was complied Avith, but 
it was explained that, as Sunday work was con- 
trary to the rules of the firm, tliB ' Observer ' 
could not be suj^plied. This was followed by 
a visit from an indignant official, who seemed 
at a loss to understand how a reo^ulation of a 
firm of news-agents could stand in the way of 
a Royal command ; but even the threat of with- 
drawal of the whole order did not avail to 
cause a departure from the rules of the house. 
To this day, though Sunday papers have in 
the meantime multiplied many times, and are, 
moreover, a peculiarly popular form of litera- 
ture, those who desire them have to obtain 
them elsewhere than from Smith's agents. 

The last branch of the business of Smith & Son 
which remains to be described took its rise, 
not unnaturally, out of the bookstall business, 
which, before 1862, had been established on well- 
nigh every important line of railway in England, 
and in the demand made by people living in 
remote rural districts for a supply of books on 


loan. This was some years after old Mr Smith 
had retired from the business, which he did about 
1858, and the active partners, consisting of his 
son and Mr Lethbridge, felt no inclination for an 
experiment ^^•hich, while it called for a heavy 
capital expenditure, did not promise a very re- 
munerative return. However, it was always a 
leading principle with the younger Smith ^ that 
when any section of the public expressed a desire 
for the kind of literature it was his business to 
supply, and it was in the power of the firm to 
comply with it without hazard of serious loss, 
it was their dutv to make the endeavour, even 
should the prospect of gain be doubtful. Negoti- 
ations, accordingly, were set on foot with that 
firm which held the same pre-eminence in the 
circulating and lending library business as Smith 
& Son did in that of news-agency and bookstalls, 
with the view of actino" as aofents for Messrs 
Mudie in such provincial towns as were in want 
of a supply. But the negotiations came to 
nothing, and the result was the foundation of 
Smith & Son's circulating library. 

Whatever may have been the misofiyino-s in 
Smith's own mind about this new venture, once 

1 From this point, when the elder Smith disappears from active 
life, it Avill be unnecessary to use terms to distinguish between 
father and son. When "Smith" is spoken of in future, it will be 
the son who is indicated. 


he had made up his mind to it, he did not allow 
them to interfere with the liberal investment of 
capital. To one long connected with the house, 
who expressed doubts as to the prudence of 
riskino- so much, Smith remarked : " God blesses 
all I touch. I think there must be some truth 
in the motto on my father's seal — Deo non 
foi'tund fretusy ^ 

The enterprise has proved successful, not, in- 
deed, in the extraordinary degree attained by 
the other branches of the business, for it is still 
the least remunerative department ; but Mr Faux, 
who presides over it, has charge of the circulation 
of more than 300,000 volumes. 

It had always been one of Smith's rules not to 
have the smallest property in any publication. 
He held it important to be free to deal impar- 
tially with every publishing house, just as in the 
early days of bookstalls he had avoided bringing 
himself into competition with local tradesmen, 
but preferred to act in concurrence with them, — 
often, as has been shown, being in a position to 
relieve them of a business which thev were carrv- 
ino' on at a loss. This was the orioin of the 
establishment of the branches in Birmingham, 
Liverpool, and Manchester. But a time came 
when the supply of bookstall literature ran 

^ "Freighted not by fortune but by God." 


low ; Murray's " Traveller's Library " was prov- 
ing rather heavy for the tastes of those it was 
chieflv desiofned to attract : there was a dearth 
of harmless, yet lively j^ublications ; the quality 
of cheapness in novels had hitherto been insepar- 
able from that of nastiness, or, at least, of worth- 
lessness : the receipts from the bookstalls, so bril- 
liant at first, began to show a decline ; something- 
had to be done to restore their popularity. A 
decided step was taken, which, for the first time, 
enabled people to buy the best romances at a 
trifling cost. The copyright of Lever's novels 
was acquired by Smith & Son ; Mr Sandifer, the 
manager of the bookstall department, was com- 
missioned to buy paper, contract for printing, 
receive designs for covers, and, in short, under- 
take all the necessary steps in setting out on a 
heavy publishing venture. But, inasmuch as the 
firm were only concerned to supply a want felt 
by a peculiar class of customers — the travelling 
public — and as they did not wish to engage in 
competition with established firms, — these books 
were issued by arrangement with Messrs Chap- 
man & Hall, whose name, and not that of Smith 
& Son, appeared on the titles. 

The success of the venture was immediate and 
unmistakable. A new vein had been struck ; the 
cojDyrights of other authors were acquired, and 


Saiidifer's enthusiasm knew no bounds as the 
steam-presses flew and the well-known " yellow- 
backed novels " multiplied in the land. The 
profits were immense : the l^ooks sold off as fast 
as they could be printed at 2s. a-piece, and the 
cost of production was only 9d. 

But Smith did not feel happy about all the 
consequences of this splendidly successful enter- 
prise. The cheap novels had taken better than 
he had either expected or intended ; they were 
drivine: other works ofl" the stalls. It was the 
object, of course, of every clerk, seeing that he 
received commissions on sales, to give the most 
saleable books the preference, and one morning 
Smith stood on the platform at Rugby in mourn- 
ful contemplation of the eifects of a revolution 
which he himself had created. The bookstall at 
that station was a coruscation of vellow novels 
and white newspapers ; volumes of essays, secular 
and religious, travels, science, poetry — all were 
thrust into odd corners or out of sight, for the 
public would have nothing but fiction. Smith 
sadly shook his head, but, true to his principles, 
would not discourage the clerk in charge by 
exj^ressing any distrust of his discretion : the 
manaofement of the stall had been committed to 
him, and he must not be interfered with. 

Messrs Ward & Lock were the next firm to 


come upon this field of enter23rise, and as soon 
as they and others proved able to conduct the 
business successfully, Smith felt that his mission 
in that respect had been accomplished — namely, 
the stimulation of a supply of cheap and sound 
literature — and the issue of these works was 
stopped. The copyrights acquired by the firm 
were sold in 1883 for £10,000. 

The scale to which the business of Messrs W. 
H. Smith & Son has grown at the present time 
has made it necessary to acquire much of the ad- 
joining ground. The frontage is still in the Strand, 
but the countino'-house and offices are at the back 
in a splendid new range of buildings, having their 
entrance in Arundel Street. Althouofh Mr W. 
H. Smith retired from active partnership in 1877, 
he continued to take a warm interest in the pro- 
ceedino's of the firm and the welfare of their 
e7n2yloyes down to the close of his life, but he was 
not permitted to see the completion of the new 
buildings. The book department keeps up the 
supply for the railway bookstalls, and may be 
seen at its busiest at the close of each month, 
Avhen the magazines come out. The lending 
department contains, as has been said, upwards 
of 300,000 volumes in circulation. The work- 
shops for making bookstalls and frames for rail- 


way-station advertisements are in Water Street. 
It is a singular part of the system that all 
damaged or dilajDidated bookstalls, even in remote 
parts of the country, are packed up and sent 
here for repair. 

In Water Street also are the extensive stables, 
kept with the regularity and little short of the 
discipline of a cavalry barracks. Here stand 
between fifty and sixty horses for the service of 
the red newspaper carts, and the bloom on their 
coats speaks plainly to good condition and careful 
grooming. At the entrance to the yard hangs 
the drivers' roister, showing the date and hour 
when each man comes on duty. The printing- 
house, where the railway advertisements are pre- 
pared, is at some distance off, in Fetter Lane. 

Of all the busy scenes in busy London, there is 
none more brisk and orderly than that which 
may be witnessed any morning, Sundays ex- 
cepted, throughout the year in the packing de- 
partment of 186 Strand. On the first four 
working days in the week, when there is not 
much except the dailies to deal with, work begins 
shortly after 3 A.M. ; but on Fridays and Saturdays 
the pressure is increased by the weeklies, and 
then the start is made an hour earlier. Few of 
those who know the Strand and Fleet Street 
only in the hours when the side-pavements are 


hidden with swarms of busy men, and the 
thorouo'hfare is blocked with vehicles, can have 
formed any idea of their aspect at daybreak in 
summer, or imagine the singular beauty of the 
view eastward from a point, say, opposite 160 
Fleet Street. The perspective of varied house- 
fronts on either side converges on St Paul's 
Cathedral, a shapely, soft - toned mass against 
the pale sky ; and looking westward from the 
Law Courts, the eye surveys a scene, not so im- 
pressive or harmoniously composed as the other, 
yet far redeemed from commonplace by the 
quaint churches of St Clement Danes and St 
Mary-le-Strand, and that block of houses, long 
threatened by the plans of the city improver, 
which shuts out Holywell Street from the Strand. 
Save a policeman or two, and here and there a 
belated wanderer creeping home, there is not 
a human being in sight, till, as the bells ring 
out half- past two, the first of Smith & Son's 
well-known scarlet carts comes clatterinef down 
the narrow thoroughfare laden with piles of 
the ' Illustrated,' the ' Queen,' or some other 
great weekly journal. This is followed by others, 
till, at three o'clock, the street is crowded with 
vehicles, each bringing its load of " raw papers " 
to be carried into the office and sorted into 
parcels for the country. 


Inside matters present an appearance in which 
the casual visitor might, in default of a clue, 
despair of tracing either method or motive. The 
place is like an ant-hill; men are running about in 
every direction carrying bundles on their shoul- 
ders, as aimlessly to all appearance, and as cease- 
lessly, as ants do their white pupse when some- 
thing has disturbed them. Sometimes they 
pause to swallow a mug of excellent coffee, which, 
with bread and butter, is supplied for the work- 
ers. But the simplicity of the system is apparent 
once it is explained. A stream of bundle-bearers 
comes in from the street, each tossing down his 
parcel on a large table on the right side of the 
hall ; these are " raw papers " — papers, that is to 
say, as they come from the publishing office. 
Then each of the parcels for the country is passed 
round, checked by a list, and receives its proper 
contents, which are again checked before the 
parcel is sent forward to be packed. Watching 
the packers, one is impressed not only by their 
swiftness and dexterity ■ — for an inexperienced 
hand would find it a very difficult matter to tie 
up securely in a single sheet of paper a parcel 
weighing 50 or 60 lb., composed of newspapers of 
various size, shape, and substance — but also by 
the amount of knocking about these apparently 
fragile parcels afterwards endure with impunity. 






















One part of the secret is the excellence of the 
stout twine used, and the peculiar slip-knot em- 
ployed, which enables the packer to dra^^- the 
cord almost as 

tightly as if l)y yfjk 

machinery. The 
amount of this 
twine used is 
prodigious : in the 
twelve months 
of 1892 the 
consumption was 
9,264,410 yards, 
or 5271 miles (at 
the rate, that is, 
of about 100 miles 
a-week), weighing over 59 tons. The parcels, 
when finished, are carried or wheeled out to the 
street, packed into vans, and driven off to the 
different railway stations. 

One very remarkable feature in this busy scene 
is the absence of noise. No loud or hastv accents 
of command are heard. Mr Mono-er, the head of 
this department, who has been connected with 
it for forty years, moves quietly through the 
throng ; any instructions he has to give are 
made in a gentle, almost confidential tone ; ex- 
postulation or altercation seem quite unknown ; 

A'/ioi used in tying parcels of nezuspapers. 

92 LIFE OF jr. H. SMITH. 

the contents of each parcel as it is brought in or 
sent out are announced by the bearer ; good hum- 
our and goodwill seem to be in the atmosphere. 

It is pleasant to stand and watch the work on 
a balmy summer morning, "svhen the cool air flows 
in through the open doors, and the electric lights 
are quenched by the broadening day ; but it is 
far otherwise on some mornings in winter. Rain, 
cold, and, above all, fog, turn this early work into 
a test of endurance, and the thickest clothes will 
not suffice to neutralise the discomfort of the 
piercing draughts. 

There is an archaic survival in the packing-hall 
of one of the elder Smith's reo'ulations : the clock 
is always kept five minutes fast ; but many a 
householder can testif\' to the futility of this 
shallow device. Of course the effect upon punctu- 
ality is purely negative, and it is long practice 
and strict discipline which has given to Smith & 
Son's drivers the faculty of almost unerring pre- 
cision in catching trains. At these early hours 
the streets are clear of traffic, and the men are 
able to calculate to a nicety the time required ; 
so that, while it very rarely happens that a train 
is missed, neither is there any time lost at the 

At four o'clock Smith's vans beo-in to arrive 
at the Strand house from the various offices of 
the dailies, bearing mountains of ' Standards,' 


'Daily News,' ' Daily Telegraphs, ' &c., which are 
treated in the same way as the weeklies. The 
' Times ' is now, as of old, the latest to go to 
press and the latest in arrival. 

The necessity for punctuality in the delivery 
of dailies is, of course, much more imperious 
than in that of weeklies. A slio^ht hitch or 
accident in one of the huge printing-presses, 
which, with deafening roar, are vomiting forth 
folded sheets as fast as men can carry them 
away, might cause a failure in the supply 
or a glut at the Strand oiiice or the railway 
stations, which would dislocate the whole morn- 
ing's work. Consequently Messrs Smith & Son 
have a man at each of the great newspaper 
offices, superintending the loading of carts and 
the despatch of papers to the different packing- 
places. For only part of the work of packing- 
dailies goes on at the Strand. Smith's carts 
carry the newspapers direct from the printing 
offices to the railwav stations, at some of which, 
as at Paddington and King's Cross, the packing 
is done in rooms provided for the purpose, or, as 
at Waterloo Station, on the platform ; while on 
other lines, such as the London and North- 
Western and Midland, the raw papers are 
loaded into railway vans, and the sorting and 
packing is accomplished by Smith's men during 
the journey. 


Sometimes it seems to the bystander as if, say, 
the 5.15 A.M. newspaper train from Euston must be 
despatched without some of its load. The minute- 
hand of the clock is within a few seconds of the 
quarter past, and the ' Times ' has not arrived. 
The signal to start will be given directly — Man- 
chester, Liverpool, all the North, must do with- 
out their ' Times ' till mid-day. Suddenly a cry 
is heard — " The ' Times ' ! " a passage is cleared 
on the platform, a rush of barrows comes round 
the corner, and the last bundle is flung into the 
van as the train moves off. 

Compare this with the experience of an old 
employe of the firm, Mr Elliman, who died not 
many years ago. In the early days of the 
business the daily papers were not published in 
time for the morning mails, but were despatched 
by the evening post. Old Mr Smith saw 
the inconvenience of this arrano-ement to his 
country customers, so it became Elliman's daily 
duty to take in hand the entire supply of the 
' Times ' for Manchester and Liverpool round 
to the starting-place in John Street, Adelphi. 
Owing to delay in publication, it would some- 
times happen that he missed the coach, where- 
upon he had to hurry up to try and catch it 
at the Angel, Islington ; if he missed it there, 
he had to saddle a horse and gallop after it 
to the change at Colney. His orders were to 


get the paper into the country at all hazards, 
and it even happened more than once that he 
had to pursue it as far as Birmingham. How 
could it pay the firm, it may be asked, to be at 
such expense in the delivery of a handful of 
newspapers ? Well, it was by energy such as 
this that old Mr Smith secured the pre-eminence 
over all other newspaper agents/ 

To illustrate the prodigious development of 
the business started on so humble a scale bv 
Mr Smith, senior, there may be given here the 
summary of business done in the newspaper 
trade in the Strand office of W. H. Smith k 
Son, during a single day of the present j^ear, 
Tuesday, February 14, 1893. It was, it is true, 
an exceptionally heavy day, owing to the demand 
caused by Mr Gladstone having on the previous 
niofht introduced his Home Rule Bill. 


Total number of papers despatched 374,218 

Quires .... 14,393 

Weight . . .44 tons cwt, 2 qrs. 

The average weight of newspapers despatched on 
a Tuesday morning is about 35 tons. The extra 

^ During the present year (1893) an Austrian gentleman requested 
permission, which was readily granted him, to insjDect the pi-emises 
and proceedings of Messrs W. H. Smith & Son, as he desired to 
start a similar business in his own country. He seemed a little dis- 
heartened when he learned through what humble and uni^romising 
ways the ascent to such a vast business had been made. 


supply on account of the Home Rule Bill there- 
fore amounted to 

Copies of newspapers . . 75,140 

Quires .... 2,890 

Weight . . .9 tons 7 cwt. 1 qr. 

The firm continued the endeavour to be " first 
on the road " long after the establishment of the 
railway system. The ' Newcastle Journal ' for 
February 26, 1848, contains the following state- 
ment :- — - 


A special newspaper train was run by Messrs W. H. 
Smith & Son from Euston to Glasgow vid York and iSTew- 
castle on February 19. It made the journey of 472^ 
miles in 10 hours and 22 minutes : detentions amounted 
to 50 minutes, making the actual travelling 9 hours and 
32 minutes, being at the rate of 50 miles an hour. It 
reached Glasgow two hours before the mails which left 
London the previous evening. It left Euston at 5.35 a.m., 
reached Edinburgh at 2.55 p.m., and Glasgow 3.59 p.m. 
Lord John Eussell's financial statement was the exciting 
topic reported in the papers on the occasion. 

One other department of this establishment — 
the postal — is also in full work during the small 
hours. The work seems small in bulk compared 
with the despatch of railway parcels ; but many 
busy hands are at work — folding, pasting, wrap- 
ping — many thousands of newspapers are thus 
despatched, and the precision with which the ad- 
dresses require to be kept involves an immense 


amount of patient attention. These addresses 
are all printed in Water Street, and preserved in 
proof-books, of which there are no less than fifty- 
six requiring to be gone through carefully every 
day. If a customer writes directing the discon- 
tinuance of a journal which he has been receiving, 
and the address is not at once removed from the 
proof-book, it may be that the newspaper will 
continue to go to him for years at the expense of 
the firm. One such instance was lately discovered, 
^^■here the ' Field ' had been sent to some one in 
the country for more than twenty years after he 
had countermanded it. 

It is well remembered by men still employed in 
the business how, when the younger Smith en- 
tered the firm, he excelled in this department, 
and had the reputation of being only second to 
his father in dexterity of folding papers for the 

Surgit amari there is a source of 

bitterness among the postal hands here. The 
embossed postage on the newspaper covers had, 
for many years, the name of Messrs W. H. 
Smith & Son tastefully woven round it in a 
wreath, and the staff were proud of this distinc- 
tion, which was shared by no other firm. AVhen 
the late Mr Cecil Raikes became Postmaster- 
General, he laid his veto on the continuance of 

VOL. I. a 


this custom, which had forthwith to be discon- 
tinued. Mr Smith, at that time First Lord of 
the Treasury, could of course oifer no remon- 
strance against his colleague's scrupulousness. 
If it had been an enemy that had done this — but 
it was the act of a Conservative minister ! 

There is a scrap-book kept in the office con- 
taining some literary curiosities — flotsam and 
jetsam of the long history of the firm. One of 
these is an envelope, on which the London post- 
mark shows the date 1864, and the only indica- 
tion of its destination is contained in the crypto- 


tliisel log, 

near ctbseelengly. 

It almost implies that the Post-office officials were 
gifted with second-sight or thought-reading power, 
which enabled them to convey this missive to 

Cecil Lodge, 

near Ahhots Langley, 

where Mr Smith resided at that time. 

Another envelope, dated 1888, is addressed to 

Mr W. H. Smith, 
The Stationer, 

Downing Street, 







OF London's fund — friendship avith lord sandon — smith 





Smith's first connection with jDublic business 
seems to have been in 1855, when he was elected 
a member of the Metropolitan Board of Works, 
But before this date he had entered upon under- 
takings quite disconnected with his professional 
w^ork in the Strand, and, among other duties, he 
performed those of a member of the managing 
committee of King's College Hospital from 1849 
onwards. Except his autumn holidays, which 
were generally spent abroad, he allowed nothing 
to interfere with the routine of attendance in the 
Strand, and was always ready to devote such 

100 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [.ex. 30. 

intervals of leisure as it afforded to useful or 
philanthropic schemes. His duties in connection 
^^'ith King's College Hospital brought him ac- 
quainted with Mr Robert Cheere, one of those 
most in the management of that institution, and 
it was that gentleman who introduced him to the 
family of Mr Danvers, who had been clerk to 
the council of the Duchy of Lancaster since the 
days of George IV. Mr Danvers had several 
dauo'hters. Smith was received on friendlv terms 
by the Danvers family ; and a friend of his, Mr 
Auber Leach, who held an appointment in the 
old India House, used also to visit them in 
Lancaster Place, and, becomino- eno-ao-ed to Miss 
Emily Danvers, married her in 1854. Miss Emily 
Danvers and her vouno-er sister were married on 
the same day in the Chapel of the Savoy. But 
the wedded life of the elder sister was trao-ic- 
allv short, for Mr Leach died in Januarv 1855. 
The young widow then returned to live with her 
parents in Lancaster Place, where her baby, a 
girl,-"^ was iDorn. 

Smith continued on most friendly terms with 
the Danvers family, and, as time went on, it 
became evident that he was much more sus- 
ceptible to the attractions of Mrs Leach than 

1 Now the Hon. Mrs Codrington, widow of Eear - Admiral 

A.D. 1855.] FALLING IN LOVE. 101 

to those of her unmarried sisters. In short, it 
soon appeared, not only to himself but to others, 
that he was becoming deeply attached to the 
young widow. Never was there a more com- 
plete refutation of the seer's mournful pronounce- 
ment in ' A Midsummer Nio-ht's Dream ' : — 

■' Ah me ! for aught that ever I could read, 
Could ever hear by tale or history, 
The course of true love never did run smooth : 
But either it was diflerent in blood, 
Or else misgrafled in respect of years, 
Or else it stood upon the choice of friends ; 
Or, if there were a sympathy in choice, 
"War, death, or sickness did lay siege to it, 
Making it momentary as a sound, 
Swift as a shadow, short as any dream. 
Brief as the lightning in the collied night. 
That in a spleen enfolds both heaven and earth, 
And ere a man hath power to say ' Behold ! ' 
The jaws of darkness do devour it up ; 
So quick bright things come to confusion." 

Smith's life had hitherto been useful, dutiful, 
and successful ; it had been warmed with the 
steady glow of domestic affection, but it had 
also been almost painfully laborious and lacking 
in that relief which can only be conferred by 
something more ardent than sisterly affection — 
something more insj^iring than devotion to aged 
parents. It was now to receive the complement 
essential to happy human circumstance ; and in 

102 LIFE OF Tr. H. SMITH. [.et. 33. 

winning the affection of Mrs Leach, Smith achieved 
the beginning of what proved an enduring and — 
if one may venture to pass judgment on sucli 
a sacred tie — a perfect union. Henceforward, 
in prosperity or anxiety, in health or sickness, 
in happiness or in sorrow, all his hopes were to 
be shared, his cares lightened, his projects aided, 
by the presence in his home of one to whom he 
never failed to turn for counsel. There are some 
things too deeply hallowed to be treated of on 
printed page, and of these are the letters which, 
during three-and-thirty years, passed between this 
husband and wife ; but those who only knew him 
in business or in public affairs can form no true 
estimate of Smith's character unless they take 
account of the love he bore his wife, which this 
correspondence shows to have been ever growing- 
warmer and more impatient of separation till his 
time on earth was accomplished. 

The happy conclusion of the courtship is told in 
a brief note to his sister : — 

Strand, Feb. 25, 1858. 
Deak Gussy,— All right. It is done for ever. Come 
and help me to buy the ring. — Ever your affectionate 


Smith would have been untrue to his character 
had he concealed the serious strain that ran 
through all his happiness. On returning from a 

A.D. 1858.] LETTER TO MRS LEACH. 103 

visit to his betrothed, then staying with some 
friends at Bedford, a few days after their engage- 
ment, he wrote to her : — 

March 4-, 1858. — On my way up in the train I could not 
help thinking over the change that has taken place in my 
prospects during the last few days, and then I came to 
think of myself and to fear that I had not been sufficiently 
ingenuous with you. There are some points in my char- 
acter which I am not afraid to tell you of, because you 
love me enough to try to do me good, and even to love me 
through them all ; but you ought to know them, tliat your 
prayers may help me, and that your influence may be ex- 
erted to correct them. Very likely I do not perceive the 
worst myself, but I know this. I have not the strong 
determination to do always that which is right, by God's 
help, which I admired so much in Auber, and which I see 
in so many men around me. I am inclined to be easy 
with myself — ^just as a man who would postpone a duty 
because it is an unpleasant one, and the opportunity for 
performing it passes altogether, and I very often neglect 
to do a thing I ought to do because it is unpleasant and 
would pain one to do it. 

In good truth, in some things I have really a weak 
character, and I want you to be the means of strengthen- 
ing it, and will do so a great deal more, for although it is 
one of my failings to desire the good opinion of the world 
at large, I must be true and transparent to you, for my 
own soul's sake and for our happiness in this w^orld as 
well as in the next. 

The wedding took place in April of the same 
vear. Before this event, old Mr Smith had 

104 LIFE OF IF. H. SMITH. [.ct. 33. 

finally retired from active business, and his son 
was practically head of the firm — very much, it 
must be admitted, to the comfort of all parties ; 
for it had grown to dimensions far beyond the 
capacity of its founder, whose health, moreover, 
had failed so far as to make him a serious hin- 
drance in the transaction of important details. 
Neither the happiness he had found in marriage 
nor the increased responsibility he had to under- 
take in the business prevailed to diminish the 
son's dutiful anxiety on his father's account. 
His letters are full of directions to his sisters 
about what is to be done for the old gentleman's 
comfort : — 

I would gladly [he wrote to Miss Augusta Smith in 
December 1858] take upon my shoulders the house at 
Bournemouth, if he fancied the change ; or he might come 
somewhere eastward, to Worthing or St Leonards, if he 
fancied the change, which are both warm. Don't talk to 
him about anything you consider impracticable, but think 
over what I have said, and then write to me. Only 
remember that expense on Father's account is no con- 
sideration with me, and if he disliked spending the money, 
I would wilHngly incur any cost or responsibility myself 
that you thought would add to his comfort or safety. 

It w^as not only in concern for his father that 
Smith showed that the new" source of happiness 
he had found was not to quench the warmth of 


domestic ties. To the same sister he wrote after 
his eno-aofement : — 

My dearest Gussy, — Not less dear that I have found 
one whom I can love with a different and — you won't 
grudge her — a stronger affection. Indeed I am sensible 
already of the fact that love begets love even for those 
who were much loved before. One's capacity is increased 
— but I must not go on, or the paper will be exhausted 
with that which may perhaps appear foolishness to some. 

Life went smoothly, if uneventfully, with the 
Smiths for some years after their marriage. They 
lived in Hyde Park Street ; he became more and 
more occupied in educational, ecclesiastical, and 
philanthropic work. At a meeting held at the 
Bishop of London's Palace in 1861, Smith was 
first brought into acquaintance with Lord Sandon, 
at that time member for Liverpool — now Earl 
of Harrowby — -who describes him as being then 
a man of very taking appearance, with very dark 
hair and bright eyes, and a calm and resolute 
look. At this meeting the Bishop of London's 
Fund was first set on foot ; Lord Sandon moved, 
and Smith seconded, the chief resolution. An 
inner working committee was formed, of which 
Lord Sandon was appointed chairman, and on 
which, amono- others, Smith had as colleaofues Mr 
John Talbot,^ the Rev. Canon Rowsell, Lord 

'■ Now M.P. for Oxford University. 

106 LIFE OF jr. H. SMITH. [^t. 36. 

Kadstock, Mr John Murray, the pubHsher, the 
Rev. W. S. Maclagan,! the Rev. J. W. Bardsley,- 
the Rev. F. Blomfield,^ Mr J. A. Shaw Stewart, 
and Mr Redmayne of Bond Street. Mr G. H. 
Croad, who is now Secretary to the London 
School Board, joined this committee in 186G. 
Under this committee London was divided into 
districts — Smith having charge, as was fitting, 
over that of the Strand, in conjunction Avith the 
Rev. J. W. Bardslev. He as well as the other 
members of committee were oppressed with con- 
cern on account of the dreadful condition of the 
dwellings of London poor, which, though they 
may still be judged far short of what they ought 
to be, were at that time in a state calling far 
more urgently for reform. 

This common work, in which they were associ- 
ated for five years, brought about a close intimacy' 
between Smith and Lord Sandon, which was to 
ripen into a lifelong friendship. Twenty years 
later, when, in 1882, Sandon left the House of 
Commons to take his seat in the House of Lords, 
he wrote to Smith, referring to this friendship 
as — 

One of the charms of my public life, which has only 

^ Now ArchbishoiD of York. "^ Now Bishop of Carlisle. 

3 Now Bishop of Colchester. 


strengthened under the strain of busmess and the advance 
of years, and must now become more and more precious 
to my heart as time goes on. An intercourse such as 
ours, of more than twenty years, with a constant simi- 
larity of aim, unbroken by a single disagreement, and of 
those who, while working together on the same public 
platform, have enjoyed the confidence of an unreserved 
private friendship, has certainly been one of the bless- 
ings of my life. I can only say — long may it continue ! 
though, to my l)itter regret, we cannot sit together any 
longer on the well-known benches. 

AVhile he lived in the parish of St John's, 
Paddington, Smith took an active part in the 
promotion of church and school matters. The 
Rev. Sir Emilius L^'rie, at that time rector of 
St John's, has furnished the following notes of 
the benefit derived by the parish from Smith's 
eager liberahty : — 

In Mr Smith I found a model parishioner — wise in 
counsel, generous in all his impulses, hearty in his support 
of all good work. St John's parish, at the commencement 
of my incumbency, was hardly up to date. The church 
itself, though a modern one, needed reconstruction, if not 
rebuilding ; and the very insutlicieut school-buildings were 
held only under a yearly tenancy, liable to be put an end to 
at any time on the usual notice. In the somewhat serious 
work of providing new schools in a crowded district, Mr 
Smith's aid was simply invaluable. The £500 subscrip- 
tion was the least of the benefits conferred, tliouG;h in 
raising £12,000 for site and building, without any external 
help, such assistance was not to be despised. What struck 


108 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [jet. S6. 

me most, however, was the readiness with which, amidst 
the engrossing calls of public life, Mr Smith gave his full 
attention to every question of detail, the tact with which 
he dealt with opposition, and the free hand with which he 
overcame difficulties which from time to time arose. An 
example of this occurred in the course of the rebuilding. 
Tlie new schools obstructed some ancient lights in two 
adjoining houses. The owner objected, and threatened 
legal proceedings, but expressed his willingness to sell. 
The law was against us ; so, alas ! were the figures — for the 
price asked was high. Mr Smith stepped in and bought 
the houses, and would have bought half the parish, I 
believe, rather than leave a good work undone. 

Mr Smith was prepared also to deal on a still larger 
scale with the church. Occu]3ying, as he said, one of the 
finest sites in London, it was poor in architecture, incon- 
venient and ill-ordered in its internal arrangements. JMr 
Smith thought that a church in such a position should 
cost not less than £30,000, and towards this he offered to 
give £20,000. Plans were prepared by Sir ^. Blomfield, 
but it was found that, altJiough built upon the Bishop of 
London's estate, no room had been left for enlargement, and 
we had to content ourselves with a modest reconstruction, 
at a cost of £7000, leaving Mr Smith's benevolent donation 
free for parishes in which the need was greater than at 
St John's. . . . The Church of England owes, I believe, 
much to Mr Smith. How much he save to it was known 
only to himself. 


It is a common complaint that the House of 
Commons is not now, and has not been for at 
least a generation, what it used to be under a 
restricted franchise. To listen to the talk of 


some people might dispose one to the uncom- 
fortable belief that political integrity evapor- 
ated with the abolition of pocket boroughs, 
that statesmanship languished when sinecures 
began to be extinguished, and totally dis- 
appeared with the establishment of household 
suffrage, and that public spirit — all powerful 
when the majority of the public had no voice 
in the direction of public afltairs — took flight on 
the appearance of bloated registers. The divine 
right of those who have never felt the pinch 
of hunger nor, save as the direct consequence 
of their own folly, the gnawing anguish of 
pecuniary care, to govern those who live by 
toil of hand or brain, was, in the belief of 
people yet living, the Palladium of our liberty. 
To persons of this creed it may be conceded 
that, with the extension of popular rights, the 
risk of social oppression has been exchanged for 
a greater national hazard. Bacon jDrofessed his 
distaste " for this word ' people,' " and Carlyle 
wrote scathingly of the " collective wisdom of 
individual ignorances " ; but neither they, nor 
any other thoughtful seer, thought that be- 
cause power was passing out of the hands of a 
few into those of the many, there was any 
cause, for those who had time to spare from 
their private anxieties, to relax watchfulness 


over the destiny of the kingdom, or to refrain 
from manly effort to lead their fellow-country- 
men in the paths of prosperity and peace. The 
method of statecraft has chano'ed with the 
broadening of the constitution, but the object 
remains the same. As Mr Nicholl, writing of 
the Government of Queen Elizabeth, puts it 
with a degree of frankness, not brutal, but 
sternly masculine, " Much must be allowed to 
the fashion of a time when it was as customary 
to flatter monarchs as it now is to juggle mobs." ^ 
Phts ca change, 2^his cest la meme chose — the 
same qualities of patience, foresight, knowledge 
of men in the past and in the present, courage 
in yielding as well as in holding back, which, 
under the old order, had placed certain in- 
dividuals in the front rank of statesmen, must 
be looked for in those to whom the cruidance of 
affairs should be intrusted in the future. 

The perspective of years shuts out of view all 
but the most conspicuous characters ; looking 
back from one end of a century to the other, 
one discerns only the loftiest personalities — the 
Pitts, the Foxes, the Burkes ; the crowd of 
lesser men have sunk out of view, and w^ith 
them has disappeared the memory of all that 
was narrow, timid, mean, and selfish in their 
careers. And so the impression, — founded on 

^ Life of Bacon, vol. i. p. 67. 


a sentiment as old as — nay, far older than 

" ^tas parentum pejor avis tulit 
Nos nequiores," — 

has o'ained ground, that from beino^ the arena 
of single-minded patriotism and the theatre of 
eloquence, the House of Commons has become 
but the coveted vantao'e-sfround of self-seekinof 
busy-bodies. We are disposed to compare our 
public men unfavourably with the great figures 
of the eighteenth century, but Dr Johnson him- 
self, trained as he was to philosophical reflec- 
tion, leaned to a similar disposition. " Politicks," 
he said, " are now nothing more than means of 
rising in this world. With this sole view do 
men engage in politicks, and their whole conduct 
proceeds upon it. How different in that respect 
is the state of the nation now from what it was 
in the time of Charles the First, during the 
Usurpation, and after the Restoration, in the 
time of Charles the Second." This feeling has 
been intensified by the degree of familiarity with 
its proceedings which has of late been brought 
about by the activity of the press. It is difficult 
to preserve the august repute of Parliament when 
every unruly scene, as well as the foibles and 
blunders of every member of it, are minutely 
described and dwelt upon in the newspapers. It 
is not surprising if familiarity engenders its pro- 


verbial offspring in the minds of the many. Yet 
there be some, and these not the least intelH- 
gent in the community, who still recognise in the 
House of Commons not only the goal of respect- 
able and useful ambition, but also a field in 
which well-directed effort may, even at this day, 
produce valuable fruit. To such natures it is 
more congenial to be lirought in direct contact 
with the masses for whom they legislate, than 
to study the moods and allay the apprehen- 
sions of exalted individuals : the modern Parlia- 
mentarian may have ruder experience to undergo 
than had the nominee of a great lord of old, but 
faithfulness to his task earns wider sympathy, 
and it is more grateful to honest pride to stoop 
to listen than to cringe to hear. 

Any early indications which AVilliam Smith 
gave of political opinion were tinged with 
moderate Liberalism. He seems to have in- 
clined naturally to that side of politics to 
Avhich his father, as a Weslevan, adhered. 
Thus, in 1854, he had written from Dresden to 
his father, after describing the beauty of the 
town and surrounding country :— 

There is only one obvious drawback in all this — that 
the King and the Government appear to be and to do 
everything — all that is great, beautiful, and even useful 
appears to proceed from the Government, and the people 
are nothing — reversing the picture as it is in England. 


The idea of enteiino- Parliament seems first 


to have presented itself in a concrete form to 
William Smith at the age of thirty-one. In 1856 
he received overtures from the Liberal party at 
Boston with the view of ascertainino- if he were 
willing to stand in conjunction with Mr Ingram, 
who at that time represented the borough. He 
appears to have been ready to accept the in- 
vitation on certain conditions, clearlv set out in 
a letter, of which a draft remains in his own 
handwritino- : — 


The most important question after all is whether or no 
the Party is strong enough to return a Second Member 
on the principles on which alone I can stand, and which 
are politically and religiously liberal. 

His definition of Liberal principles which fol- 
lows might scarcely satisfy thorough -going Hadi- 
cals of the present day, for although he was 
in favour of abolishing Church Rates he was 
opposed to Disestablishment ; though advocating 
the promotion of popular education by fresh 
legislation, he would not have it made com- 
pulsory ; though holding the oijinion that naval 
and military expenditure should be reduced (the 
Crimean war had then just been brought to a 
close), it must not be brought below the point 
of complete efficiency ; and he could not look 

VOL. I. H 

114 LIFE OF TV. H. SMITH. [jet. 29. 

with favour on the introduction of vote by 

Then in the following year, 1857, overtures 
were made on Smith's behalf with the view of 
his becoming one of the Liberal candidates for 
Exeter ; but the idea was abandoned for the 
same reason that prevailed in respect of Boston 
— namely, that the party was not strong enough 
to return two Liberals. 

Nothing, therefore, came of either of these 
projects, and the next that is heard of Smith 
in connection with party politics is a little in- 
cident which occurred in 1864. A personal 
friend of his, Mr Lawson ^ of the ' Daily Tele- 
graph,' happened to be calling one day at the 
House on Lord Palmerston, who was then Prime 
Minister, and remarked to him that there was 
" a young man in the Strand who would be 
heard of some day, and should be seen to, as 
he would make an excellent candidate." 

"Ah," replied the Premier, "I wish you'd tell 
Brand " about him, will ye ? " 

Mr Lawson did so, but apparently nothing 
was done, for some time afterwards Smith came 
up to him in the street, and said — 

1 Created Sir Edward Levey Lawson, Bart., in 1892. 

■^ Henry Brand, Esq., M.P., the chief Whip of the Liberal party, 
afterwards Speaker from 1872 to 1884, when he was created Vis- 
count Hampden. 

A. D. 1864.] MR LAWSON AND MR SMITH. 115 

" My dear Lawson, do you know what I have 
gone and done. I've accepted an invitation to 
stand for Westminster. " 

" Delighted to hear it," was the reply ; " you're 
the very man of all others we should like to 
have. Rely upon me to do all in my power 
for vou." 

" Oh, but I am the Conservative candidate, 
you know." 

" Whew ! that alters matters rather," ex- 
claimed Mr Lawson, for the ' Daily Telegraph ' 
was then the leading Eadical paper. " Then, 
rely upon it, I'll do all I fairly can to keep you 
out ! " 

And he was as good as his word, although it 
is pleasant to record that it made no difference 
in their friendship, which continued warm to the 

^ Mr Lawson was the cause of Smitli's only expei'iences as a 
bettiui; man. When Mr Disraeli was formintf his Government in 
1874, Mr Lawson hapjjening to meet Smith in the street, asked 
him what office was going to be offered to him. " None," replied 
Smith ; " I neither deserve nor expect one." " All the same, you 
will have the refusal of one," said Lawson. " Not I," persisted 
Smith ; " I assure you there is no such idea." " Well," exclaimed 
Mr Lawson, " I'll bet you twenty guineas that within three weeks 
you will be a member of the Government." " Done ! " said Smith, 
and in less than three weeks he was Secretary to the Treasury, and 
paid his debt of honour. 

Again, in 1877, Mr Ward Hunt, First Lord of the Admiralty, 
being seriously ill, Mr Lawson met Smith in the lobby of the 
House, and said, " Well, I suppose you will be going to the 

116 LIFE OF IV. H. SMITH. {mt. 40. 

Now, in speculating on the influence which, 
within eight years, had changed Smith from a 
moderate Liberal into a moderate Conservative, 
there is to be remembered somethino- besides the 
fact that Lord Palmerston had in the interval 
gone to his place, and the restraint which he 
had so long exercised upon his followers had 
been removed. While Smith may be credited 
with a large share of what the Stoics called 
iiro^rj, or suspension of judgment — a quality pecu- 
liarly distinguishing his character in later life — 
there is also to be taken into account the effect 
of a rebuff he had lately received, sharp enough 
to have discourao-ed a much less sensitive nature 
than his. Smith's name had been for some time 
on the candidates' book of the Reform Club ; 
when he came up for election the haughty sus- 
ceptibilities of the Whig members of the com- 
mittee were set in arms against the admission of 
a tradesman, and he was blackballed. This ajD- 
parently trivial act — lightly done and as lightly 
dismissed from thought — was perhaps to have 

Admiralty soon." " Nonsense ! " Smith answered ; " what put that 
into your head ? " " Nonsense or not," said Mr Lawson, " I am 
willing to have another bet about it : I'll lay you fifty pounds 
that within six weeks you will be in the Ciibinet." Again Smith 
accepted the wager, and within the stipulated time Mr Lawson 
called at the Admiralty to congratulate the First Lord on his 
appointment, and receive payment of his bet. " It must seem 
funny enough," observed Smith, " to you, who remember me work- 
ing in my shirt-sleeves, to see me installed here." 


a more lasting effect on the course of politics for 
a quarter of a century than anybody could have 
foreseen at the time. 

To one trained like William Smith, himself a 
hard-working man, in constant and close inter- 
course with working men, the summons to enter 
Parliament came with no unwelcome sound. The 
part he had taken in social and religious schemes 
had already accustomed him to apply energy to 
objects beyond the confines of trade, and had 
brought him into intimacy with members of Par- 
liament like Lord Sandon, Mr John Talbot, and 
the Hon. Wilbraham Egerton ; while the stand- 
ing his firm had attained made the choice that 
fell upon him no extraordinary one. On March 
31, 1865, he wrote to his sister Augusta : — 

I remember Father has very often talked of the famous 
election contest in "Westminster when Sir Frances Bur- 
dett stood ; and when the Troops were firing in St James 
Street, my Father, as a boy, had to run into courts and 
by backways to escape being shot. 

Would it interest him to know that that little boy's 
Son — myself — has been seriously invited to stand for 
Westminster by a body headed by the Twinings, Stil- 
wells, and Sambroke, and that the subject is being seri- 
ously considered — upon this understanding, that whether 
I decide to stand or no on private grounds, upon which I 
am quite uncertain, I should not think of doing so at all, 
unless I am absolutely assured of success in a contest, if 
any takes place. 

If I go to Parliament, it will be as an independent 

118 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [.ei. 40. 

man.^ . . . None but the Committee who have asked me 
and two or three intmiate private friends ^ know anything 
at all about the affair, and it will remain undecided for 
some time, but I shall have to give some idea of my 
inclination on Monday. 

I should like to know what Father thinks about it, 
if he is well enough to be spoken to on the subject. I 
can afford the expense, and my business will be well 

And again on April 4 : — 

I have taken no decisive step yet. ... A contest would 
be expensive, but when a man once becomes member for 
Westminster, he may retain his seat pretty nearly for life 
if his personal or moral character is good, and he attends 
reasonably to his duties. I am anxious beyond every- 
thing to do what is really right, and if Father really dis- 
approved of the step, which is much less mine than my 
neighbours', I would at once give up the idea altogether. 
But I confess I should like to be in Parliament. 

In this new project Smith was to encounter no 
opposition from his father ; on the contrary, the 
old gentleman, at this time in very precarious 
health, entered upon the project with great en- 
thusiasm, and undertook to pay all expenses. 

^ By how many inexperienced candidates has this declaration 
not been made in all sincerity — how few have found it possible 
to carry it out ! To bring any perceptible influence to bear upon 
events, a man in Parliament must be content to act with others — 
to postpone or altogether forego favourite schemes, and to part with 
cherished illusions. 

^ Among these would certainly be Lord Sandon, the Hon. Robert 
Grimston, and Mr Lethbridge. 


How thorouo-hly Mr Lawson succeeded in rec- 
onciling private friendship witli Smith to puhhc 
obhgation to his party, and maintained the 
thorough -going Radicahsm of his journal, may- 
be seen by referring to the ' Daily Telegraph ' 
of that time. There were three candidates for 
the two seats — Captain Grosvenor.. the repre- 
sentative of hereditary Whiggism, the moderate 
Liberal ; Mr John Stuart Mill, the advanced free- 
thinker, and, as most people then thought, the 
extravaofant and dang-erous Radical ; and Smith 
of the Strand, professing a Liberal- Conservative 
faith, known to the few as a practical philan- 
thropist and steady churchman — to the many as 
the owner of the bookstalls. 

Mr Lawson gave the support of his newspaper 
to Mill; threw cold water upon Captain Grosvenor, 
and sug-fi-ested that he should retire in order to 
avoid splitting the Liberal vote ; and attempted 
to treat Smith's candidature as a farce. 

The metropolitan boroughs [runs the leading article on 
May 6, 1865] owe it to the country and to themselves . . . 
not to indulge ambitious nobodies who, despairing of any 
other distinction, want to say they were once " Metro- 
politan members." ... In the category of political no- 
bodies we must include Mr Smith. . . . The candidates 
are Captain Grosvenor, Mr Smith, and John Stuart Mill. 
Now we have already coiitrasted the claims of the kins- 
man of the Marquis of Westminster with those of the 
author of ' Liberty ' and ' Eepresentative Government.' 

120 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [jet. 40. 

And we should insult the intelligence of the public by 
dwelling on such a point. 

Smith, advocating extension of the franchise 
and an amicable adjustment of the question of 
Church-rates, stood as a Liberal- Conservative — 
a title which not only earned for him the jealous 
suspicion of the old-fashioned Tories, but was 
resented by the Liberals as an unprincipled bor- 
rowing of their own peculiar plumes. Smith 
was in the position of Pope's moderate man — 

" In moderation placing all my glory, 
While Tories call me Whig, and Whigs a Tory." 

Thus the ' Daily Telegraph ' on July 6 : — 

The policy of the great Conservative party with respect 
to the elections may be aptly defended on the ground of 
its exact similarity to that adopted by the giver of the 
banquet celebrated in the pages of Holy Writ. In order 
to secure a full complement of guests for his table, the 
entertainer recorded in the parable first issued invitations 
to all his friends and relations; then, when these hung 
back, he brought in the halt, the maimed, and the blind ; 
and when he found that there was still room left, he sent 
out into the streets, and compelled the passers-by to come 
in. This course of conduct exactly corresponds to the 
tactics of the Tories in the approaching elections. Their 
first object is to fill the vacant seats with their own allies 
and retainers ; but, failing in that, they are ready to take 
in anybody they can get, no matter what may be his 
qualifications, or under what pretences he may be enumer- 
ated among the guests of Conservatism. . . . There is one 
Derby, and Disraeli is his prophet — such is the shibboleth 

A.D. 1865.] A FORLORN HOPE. 121 

which every candidate for Tory votes is required to re- 
peat. . . . Mr Smith issues an address from West- 
minster, so liberal in its tone that it ought to have been 
dated from the Eeform Club, . . . vet this gentleman is 
accounted a champion of Conservative principles, simply 
because he is opposed to two candidates of advanced Lib- 
eral views. 

Still, sternly as the editor of the ' Daily 
Telegraph' succeeded in severing the office of 
censor from that of friend in this contest, there 
is no doubt that the business relations between 
the firm of Smith & Son and the leading journals 
of the day served to impart a tone of kindly 
recognition even to the most hostile articles in 
other newspapers. 

They might well afford to Ije magnanimous. 
Smith's candidature could scarcely be looked on 
as otherwise than a forlorn hope, having regard 
to the state of parties in the Metropolis. There 
had not been for manv years a sino-le Conserva- 
tive member either for a metropolitan con- 
stituency or for Middlesex, and the county of 
Surrey could only boast of two. Besides this 
discouraging state of afiairs, Smith had other 
difficulties to encounter. Mr Cubitt, who in 
after-years became his intimate friend, and had 
at that time much influence in the j)arty organisa- 
tion of London, was dismayed at the Liberalism 
of Smith's address to the electors. He consulted 

122 LIFE OF TV. H. SMITH. [mt. 40. 

Colonel Taylor, the Conservative Whip, as to 
the prudence of adopting a candidate of such 
milk-and-water views. " Take him," was Taylor's 
advice — " take him. I don't fancy his politics 
much myself, but you'll get nobody better." ^ In 

1 Smith showed himself scrupulously anxious not to secure 
Conservative support by posing as a member of the Conservative 
party, and in order that his position should be perfectly clear, he 
wrote the following letter to Colonel Taylor, the Conservative 

Whip :— 

April 26, 1865. 

Mt dear Sir, — I have been so heartily and so handsomely sup- 
ported by the Conservative party that I am anxious there should 
be no misunderstanding as to the position I should occujjy with 
reference to it if returned to Parliament for "Westminster. 

You are fully aware of the independence of party ties which I 
felt it necessary to stipulate for when it was proposed by the Com- 
mittee that I should stand for Westminster, but I am not sure that 
your friends would gather as much from my address. It will be 
well, therefore, to repeat that I am not a member of the Conserv^a- 
tive party as such — nor am I a member of the Liberal party, but I 
believe in Lord Palmerston, and Ipok forward ultimately to a 
fusion of the moderate men following Lord Derby and Lord 
Palmerston into a strong Liberal-Conservative party, to which I 
should be glad to attach myself. 

Such an expectation may be chimerical, but I cannot help in- 
dulging it, and I wish to stand by it. 

In the meantime, I am pledged to oppose Baine's bill (for ex- 
tension of the suffrage in boroughs), the Ballot, and the uncondi- 
tional abolition of Church-rates and all similar radical measures. 

May I ask you to make this matter clear to your friends who 
have so generously offered their supjDort to me, as I would rather 
retire now than fairly lay myself open to the reproach of obtaining 
party suppoit under false pretences. 

To this Colonel Taylor replied : — 

" I consider your letter an extremely fair one, and I shall advise the 
Westminster Conservatives to give you their unreserved support." 


his address to the electors, dated frora the fStrand, 
April 1865, the "milk-and-water" candidate said 
he came forward to give the 

more moderate or Conservative portion of the constituency 
an opportunity of marking their disapproval of the extreme 
political doctrines which have been avowed by the Candi- 
dates already in the field. . . . Unconnected with either 
of the great political parties, I should desire to enter 
Parliament as an independent Member, at liberty to vote 
for measures rather than for men. I should not be a party 
to any factious attempt to drive Lord Palmerston from 
power, as I feel that the country owes a debt of gratitude 
to him for having preserved peace, and for the resistance 
he has offered to reckless innovation in our domestic 

While not opposed to carefully considered ex- 
tension of the siifFrao-e, he declared himself unable 
to support Mr Baine's bill, then before Parlia- 
ment ; and he was prepared to resist ballot-vot- 
ing, because he thought that the voter who was 
afraid to act openly was " scarcely worthy of the 
trust which he is supposed to discharge for the 
benefit of the commonwealth." He laid special 
stress on his anxietv to leo-islate in the interests 
of education and popular thrift. 

Looked at in the lio-ht of that time, there was 
little in this address to rouse fighting spirit in 
the ranks of the Opposition, and at first some 
difficulty was found in getting together a good 

124 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [jet. 40. 

election Committee. The aristocratic house- 
holders of Belo-ravia and Mayfair only knew 
Smith as a newsvendor, and were disposed to 
lukewarmness in a contest wherein one of their 
own order could not engage with any hope of 
success ; and, whether from jealousy or incredu- 
lity in a creditable result, many of the West 
End tradesmen showed little enthusiasm towards 
their fellow-citizen, and at first held aloof from 
his Committee. As time went on, however, 
these obstacles melted to small proportions, and 
a strong representative Committee, Avith Earl 
Percy ^ as chairman, having been constituted, 
everything pointed to a well - fought election. 
The Liberal party in Westminster were per- 
plexed by the candidature of Mr Mill, which 
was unfavourably viewed by the party mana- 
gers, and in the end Sir John Shelley, who 
had represented the borough for many years, 
retired in order to avoid splitting the Liberal 

The nomination took place, according to im- 
memorial custom, on the hustings at Covent 
Garden, the scene of so many famous contests 
between parties and powerful houses. It was 
the last time when electors were to have the 
advantage of an unlimited supply of cabbage- 

^ Now sixth Duke of Northumberland. 

A.D. 1865.] DEFEAT. 125 

stalks and rotten potatoes close at hand, for 
with the Reform Act of 1867 came provision for 
removing the hustings to a place with more 
elbow-room and fewer missiles. 

By the time the polling-day dawned, the hopes 
of the Conservative party were high. Smith 
had made an excellent impression, and received 
promises of su^^port to such an extent as, to one 
new to the infirmity of electoral human nature, 
seemed to put his success beyond question. He 
was soon to be undeceived. It will be re- 
membered that, under the old practice of open 
voting, the state of the poll was known as the 
day wore on, and was published from time to 
time. The first note of warnino- was sent to 
his wife from his committee-rooms in Cockspur 
Street : — 

11 ^/( July IS 65. 

I think you may have a disappointment. Men have 
broken their promises to a considerable extent, and we 
are dropping behind. Don't be discontented ; it is all 
for the best. I will let you know later. 

Another was sent to his sister Augfusta : — 

Things are looking a little badly for us — not very much 
so, but enough to render it possible that we may be 
beaten. You must prepare my Father for it. 

Then, finallv, another to his sister, written 

126 LIFE OF jr. H. SMITH. [^t. 40. 

from his house in Hyde Park Street, where he 
had gone to carry the news to Mrs Smith : — 

The close of the Poll made 

Grosvenor . . . . . 4384 

Mill 4379 

Smith 3812 

So I was 572 behind, and am left out in the cold ; but 

although disappointed, I am not at all cast down about it. 

I will come to you to-morrow morning. Let me know 

how my Father is. 

Disraeli was an adept in the art of attaching 
his followers to himself by tactful and timely 
notice of them — a faculty by no means invariably 
possessed by parliamentary chiefs. The follow- 
ing little autograph note of sympathy was de- 
spatched on the day of the declaration of the poll 
in Westminster : — 

Grosvenor Gate, July 12, 1865. 

Dear Sir, — Before I leave town to-day for my own 
County, I must express to you my great regret at the 
termination of the Westminster contest, conducted by 
you with so much spirit, & evidently with such a just 
expectation of success. 

I hope yet to see you in the House of Commons, &, 
in the meantime, I trust you may find some dignified 
consolation & some just pride in the conviction that you 
possess the respect & the confidence of a great party. — 
I have the honor to be. Dear Sir, your faithful serv*., 

B. Disraeli. 

W. H. Smith, Esq. 

Smith's reply to this was as follows : — 

1 Hyde Park St., July 12, 1865. 

Deae Sir, — I am grateful to you for the expression of 
your sympathy with me under my defeat. Seeing that I had 
not identified myself with the party, I confess I felt surprise 
at the warmth and earnestness with which the Westminster 
Conservatives supported me, and the ready response to our 
united efforts caused me to be sanguine as to the result. 

But 1 am amply repaid for any labour or vexation 
through which I have passed by the confidence of the 
friends I have made in this contest, and the expression of 
your own kindly feeling.^I have the honor to be, Dear 
Sir, yours very faithfully, William H. Smith. 

Thus ended in decisive repulse the assault on 
the Liberal stronghold of the Metropolis. But 
it was not to be long before the attack was 
renewed. The contest had revealed Conservative 
feeling in a London constituency to an extent 
which few could have suspected. No doubt it 
would have been even more manifest but for the 
confidence which the middle classes felt in Lord 
Palmerston. It is true that Smith repeatedly 
disclaimed any wish to see that statesman dis- 
lodged from office ; but the Liberals had the 
advantage of claiming Palmerston as the head 
of their party, while Smith was a follower of 
Lord Derby, whose name, though in high i-epute 
with landed gentry and farmers, was not one 
with which to conjure in the towns. 




EARL Russell's reform bill — and mr disraeli's — dis- 
solution OF parliament SMITH IS ELECTED FOR WEST- 

Lord Palmeeston died in the autumn of 1865. 
The niofht of his death — October 18 — was 
marked by a phenomenon to which, in a pre- 
scientific or more superstitious age, there would 
undoubtedly have been attributed special signifi- 
cance, as accompanying the removal of one of 
great influence in the guidance of a great nation. 
Many persons, especially in the northern part of 
the island, as they watched the brilliant display 
of aurora borealis, called to mind the belief of 
the Scottish peasantry referred to by Aytoun in 
the stanza — 

" All night long the northern streamers 
Shot across the trembling sky : 
Fearful lights that never beckon 
Save when kings or heroes die." 


.\r\z Ln^ravm^ >.: 


For indeed many kings and heroes have passed 
from the earthly scene of their works with less 
consequence to the course of affairs. With Lord 
Palmerston's firm will and quaint, genial person- 
ality, there was lost that sense of security which 
made moderate men of both parties feel safer 
under a strong- Liberal administration than under 
a weak Conservative one. Henceforward, step 
by step, in ever-accelerating descent, the Liberal 
party was to follow the path of reckless oppor- 
tunism, till, as has come to pass at this day, it 
has parted with all the men who might draw 
to it the confidence of the educated and con- 
sciously responsible. 

During this year also drew to a close the life of 
one who had exercised as powerful an influence 
on Smith's character and private life as Lord 
Palmerston had on his public career and political 
opinions. Old Mr Smith, whose unremitting de- 
votion to business had often brought upon him 
the anxious warnings and remonstrances of friends 
in the " connection," who found it difficult to 
reconcile his worldly preoccupation with spiritual 
preparedness, had comparatively early in life 
paid the penalty of shattered health. Since 
his retirement from an active part in the firm, 
much of his time had been spent at Torquay 
and Bournemouth, and it was at the last-named 

VOL. I. I 

130 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [.et. 40. 

place that he breathed his last in July 1865. 
A man of unbending integrity and ceaseless in- 
dustry, he was a kind, if somewhat imperious, 
parent, and his children loved and respected 
him. In him the Wesleyan body lost a faith- 
ful adherent and generous benefactor : one of 
his latest acts was a gift of £2100 to the build- 
ing fund of a chapel in London. 

In the year following upon Smith's defeat in 
Westminster, his home in Hyde Park Street was 
darkened by the first sorrow that had fallen upon 
it since his marriage. His first-born son — a weak- 
ling from his birth — died in February 1866, and 
he records the loss in these words in a letter to 
Miss Giberne : — 

We are in trouble. Our little boy has been taken 
from us — quite quietly, gently, slowly, and, happily, ^min- 
lessly ; but he is gone like a breath or a shadow. A bad 
cold and no strength — no power — and that is all ; and 
the Doctors say now that he was not a livable child — 
that any illness must have knocked him down, and so 
he is taken away from the sorrows to come. ... It is 
a sad blank in our nursery — a quiet little sorrow which 
will last with us for a long time to come. But as the 
sorrow was to come, it could not have fallen more gently 
and more mercifully. 

Much more gently and mercifully, indeed, than 
if the parents had been called on to witness a 

A.D. 1866.] BIRTH OF HIS SON. 131 

life carried from ailment to ailment, flickering 
in a feeble frame, and prolonged with difficulty 
through painful adolescence into suffering man- 

But in Auofust of the same year the house was 
gladdened by a happier event, thus announced by 
Smith to his sister : — 

You will be glad to hear . . . that Emily has got through 
her trouble safely, . . . and that we have a son again. This 
time the boy looks healthy and well, but I am hardly yet 
able to say that I am glad. I did not desire it, although 
we shall be very thankful if all goes well with him. I 
have always felt there is a greater risk with boys than 
with girls, and we have both been very well content with 
our girls. Emily, however, looks very happy indeed with 
him upon her arm, and if she goes on well, as I have no 
doul;)t she will, I shall begin to value the little fellow at 
his proper worth. 

The first act of Earl Russell's Government 
was the preparation of a bill for extending the 
franchise. This was introduced on March 12, 
1866, by Mr Gladstone, Chancellor of the Ex- 
chequer and leader of the House of Commons, 
in a speech memorable for the combined force 
and elegance of its peroration. " We cannot," 
he said at the conclusion of an elaborate ex- 
planation of the proposals of the Government — 

We cannot consent to look on this addition — consider- 

132 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [^t. 40. 

able though it be — of the working classes as if it were 
an addition fraught with nothing but danger ; we cannot 
look upon it as a Trojan horse approaching the walls of 
a sacred city, and tilled with armed men bent on ruin, 
plunder, and conflagration. We cannot describe it as 
monstrum infelio:, or say — 

" Scandit fatalis machina nniros, 
Foeta armis : . . . mediteque minans illabitur urbi." 

We believe that those persons whom we ask you to 
enfranchise ought rather to be welcomed as if they were 
recruits to your army. We ask you to give within what 
we consider a just limit of prudence and circumspection. 
Consider what you can safely and justly offer to do in 
admitting new subjects and citizens within the pale of the 
Parliamentary Constitution ; and having so considered 
it, do it as if you were conferring a boon, which will 
be felt and reciprocated by a feeling of grateful attach- 
ment to the Constitution — attachment of the people to 
the Throne and laws under which we live, which is, after 
all, more than your gold and silver, and more than your 
fleets and armies, — at once the strength, the glory, and 
the safety of the land. 

In spite of this powerful appeal, the bill was 
coldly received by those who sat behind Mr 
Gladstone. There were those who sighed 

" For the touch of a vanished hand, 
And the sound of a voice that was still." 

The moderate Liberals grouped themselves 
round such malcontents as Lord Grosvenor, 
Mr Lowe, Mr Horsman, Lord Elcho, and Mr 

A.D. 1866.] THE GAVE OF ADULLAM. 133 

Laing, and formed what soon came to be known 
as the Cave of Adullam, because, as was said, 
it contained " every one that was in distress, 
and every one that was in debt, and every one 
that was discontented." ^ On April 12 an amend- 
ment was moved by Lord Grosvenor to the 
effect that no bill to extend the franchise could 
be accej^ted until the House was in possession 
of the proposals of the Government for redistri- 
bution of seats. This was seconded by Lord 
Stanley,^ and the debate was wound up on the 
eighth night with a speech of extraordinary 
warmth and eloquence by Mr Gladstone, who 
declared that the Government would stand or 
fall by the result. The division took place in 
a scene of the utmost excitement at three in 
the morning, the figures being — 

Ayes ....... 318 

Koes ....... 313 

Majority for the Government . 5 

It was generally expected that Ministers 
would resign, but, on the contrary, they per- 
severed in carrying the bill into Committee. Mr 
Gladstone, on beino- twitted Avith continuino- in 
office after pledging himself to stand or fall by 

^ 1 Samuel xxii. 2. - Afterwai'ds fifteenth Earl of Derby. 

134 LIFE OF jr. H. SMITH. [mt. 41. 

a bill which he had only carried by a majority 
of five, declared that as the bill still stood, so did 
the Government. The bill, however, after several 
exceedingly close divisions in Committee, was 
finally wrecked on an amendment moved by Lord 
Dunkellin, who proposed to substitute rating 
instead of renting as the basis of the franchise. 
On this question Ministers were in a minority of 
eleven. The consequence was the resignation of 
Earl Russell's Cabinet and the formation of a 
new one by the Earl of Derby, Avith Mr Disraeli 
as Chancellor of the Exchequer and leader of 
the House of Commons. It was the desire of 
Lord Derby to include some of the Adullamites 
in his Government, but his overtures were de- 
clined, and he had to meet Parliament early 
in July with a minority of Conservative members 
in the House of Commons, and a body of dis- 
sentient Liberals or Adullamites holding the 
balance of power. 

Li the following year — 1867 — the Queen 
opened Parliament in person for the first time 
since the Prince Consort's death in 1861, and 
in the Speech from the Throne chief prominence 
was given to a measure to " freely extend the 
elective franchise." To carry out this purpose 
the Chancellor of the Exchequer asked the House 
of Commons to proceed in a somewhat novel way. 


by adopting thirteen resolutions embodying the 
princijjles on which bills for the extension of 
the franchise and Redistribution of seats should 
be framed by the Government. But objections 
to this course were pressed from all quarters 
of the House, and after some discussion the 
Resolutions were withdrawn, and the bill pro- 
mised. But before it could be introduced, the 
Cabinet had disagreed on its provisions, and 
three Ministers — Lord Carnarvon, Lord Cran- 
borne, and General Peel — resigned office. Noth- 
ing but speedy destruction seemed to be imminent 
upon Lord Derby's Administration. Weakened 
as he was by the secession of three of his own 
colleagues, his policy was now bitterly attacked 
by the Adullamites — his quondam allies — who 
denounced Mr Disraeli's bill as more sweeping 
than that which, the previous year, had severed 
them from their proper leaders. Then was to 
be seen the strange spectacle of a Conservative 
Chancellor of the Exchequer moving a measure 
which, though condemned by many of his own 
party, and by the whole of the Adullamites, and 
sarcastically criticised by the Liberal Opposition, 
was yet allowed to pass second reading in the 
House of Commons without a division. 

In the session of 1868 similar bills were passed 
for Scotland and L^eland, and Parliament was 

136 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [.et. 42. 

dissolved on November. 11, to reassemble on 
December 10. 

Smith's experience in the contest of 1865 had 
the usual result of practical contact with politics: 
it tended to accentuate his opinions on public 
questions, and to convince him that, if he would 
influence the course of events, a man must co- 
operate heartily with other men, and that inde- 
pendence of action, carried beyond somewhat 
narrow limits, must end inefl'ectively. Hence- 
forward his lot was cast and his course was 
steered with the Conservative party, and he 
chose that line from deliberate conviction, not 
because it was to land him with fewest obstacles 
in the House of Commons. In 1867 an invita- 
tion came to him to stand for ^Middlesex on 
" unmistakable Liberal principles " ; but he de- 
clined it because, if he stood at all, he could only 
do so as a Conservative. Thereupon came an 
invitation to contest the county as a Conserva- 
tive, on which Smith placed himself in the hands 
of the party managers, who advised him to de- 
cline. To another invitation to contest Bedford 
in the Conservative interest, he replied that " my 
Westminster friends have so strongly remon- 
strated against the proposal to commit myself 
to a candidature for another constituency at the 
general election, . . , that out of regard to per- 


sonal considerations ... I feel bound to refrain 
from severing myself from them." 

Finally, a requisition, with 3000 signatures, 
invitinff Smith to stand ao-ain for Westminster, 
was presented to him on behalf of the Conserva- 
tive party in the borough, by a deputation headed 
by the Earl of Dalkeith, M.P.,^ and this invita- 
tion he accepted. But Westminster was not now 
the same constituencv he had courted in 1865. 
The effect of household suffrage on the political 
complexion of such a borough could only be darkly 
surmised. It was true that people had begun 
to get tired of Mr Mill : in those days the advo- 
cacy of woman suffrage was regarded as an eccen- 
tric novelty, and if there is one thing of which 
the English middle class is more suspicious than 
of novelty, it is eccentricity. Mill had also dis- 
gusted some of his supporters by relentless prose- 
cution of the charges against Governor Eyre ; and 
by espousing the cause of Charles Bradlaugh, the 
infidel and revolutionary lecturer, he had roused 
the alarm of members of all the Churches. Still, 
the new electors were an untried contino-ent, and 
nobody could predict what their action might be. 

In his new address to the electors Smith still 
claimed to be a Liberal-Conservative, " unpledged 
to any particular party." But the tone was more 

1 Xow sixtli Duke of Baccleuch and eighth Dake of Queensberrv. 

138 LIFE OF TV. H. SMITH. [^t. 43. 

decided than in the address of 1865. There 
was one passage to which the course of subse- 
quent party tactics has imparted a melancholy 

Foremost among the more prominent questions of the 
(lay is that of Ireland. 

I have long been of opinion that the greatest misfortune 
which has befallen the people of Ireland, is that their 
condition has become the patrimony of political parties in 
this country, who, to obtain a fleeting popularity or a 
few votes, fan the flame of popular discontent by attribut- 
ing to unjust or partial legislation the existence of evils, 
arising in great measure from causes within the control 
of the Irish people themselves. 

All through the winter 1867-68 and the suc- 
ceeding summer, Smith and his friends worked 
hard, holding meetings and canvassing the voters. 
Mr Disraeli's profession of belief in the existence 
of Conservative working men had been as much 
the subject of misgiving among members of his 
own party as of derision among his opponents. 
But as the canvass proceeded, clear evidence was 
forthcomino' that there were working- men of a 
more thoughtful stamp than the rioters who, in 
1867, had pulled down the railings of Hyde Park 
and terrorised the West End. 

The main question on which the general elec- 
tion was to turn was the Disestablishment of the 

A.D. 1868.] THE ELECTION. 139 

Irish Church, and those who Avere defending it 
against Mr Gladstone's attack were able, as has 
been the case in every one of that statesman's 
greater enterprises, to equip themselves with 
weapons from his own armoury of argument, 
which he had flung aside in successive changes 
of front. Smith was stoutly opposed to Dis- 
establishment, because he could see in it no 
promise of lessened bitterness or increased good- 
neighbourhood in Ireland, and to Disendowment, 
because he recognised in it a principle which 
might easilv be extended to every kind of prop- 
erty, public or private. Smith numbered among 
his most active supporters and advisers at this 
time the Hon. Robert Grimston, Mr Cubitt, and 
Lord Sandon. 

The nomination took place on November 16, 
not, as by almost immemorial custom, in Co vent 
Garden, but on hustings erected at the base of 
Nelson's Pillar. The candidates were the same 
as in 1865 — namely, Grosvenor, Mill, and Smith. 
Smith's supporters were very hopeful ; but if they 
were confident, he himself did not share their 
feeling, as may be seen from the following pas- 
sao-es in letters to his wife : — 


Nov. 10. — I don't want people ... to suppose I sulk 
if I lose the battle or am too much elated if I win. 

Nov. 11. — I certainly hope to succeed, but the relief of 

140 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [^t. 43. 

rest will be so great that if I fail I shall be compensated 
by a return to home comforts. 

JVov. 1'2. — If I go down home ^ on Tuesday evening 
beaten I shall not feel I am disgraced, and 1 intend to 
put a good and cheerful face upon it. It will all be for 
the best, and I shall be quite content to spend more time 
with my family and with you. . . . Everything is going 
well with me at present, but it is quite impossible to tell 
what the issue may be. 

On the polling-day telegrams were despatched 
to Mrs Smith at mtervals. Thus : — 

Ten o'clock poll— Smith, 2457 ; Grosvenor, 1745 ; Mill, 
1647; but don't be too sanguine. 

In those days the ]3oll was closed at four 
o'clock. The lead obtained in the morning by 
the Conservative candidate was maintained to 
the close. The result was beyond the expecta- 
tion of the keenest Tory — even of " Bob " Grim- 
ston himself: — 

Smith (C.) 7698 

Grosvenor (L.) . . . . . 6505 

Mill (L.) 6185 

— showing a majority for Smith of 1193 over 
Grosvenor, and of 1513 over Mill. 

1 His country residence was at this time Cecil Lodge, Abbots 
Langley. The pleasant old house at Kilburn had been so closely 
built round that it was given up when old Mr Smith retired from 
business in 1858. As his son once expressed it — " I can't even kiss 
my sister without being seen from a dozen windows." 

.Ch. 1868.] VICTORY. 141 

The great day was over, marking a turning- 
point in the poHtical history of London ; for be- 
sides the victory in Westminster, the Tories won 
one of the four seats in the City of London, 
thus breaking the sohd phalanx of metropoHtan 

His own side were verv anPTV with Mr Mill, 

It is extraordinary [said the ' Pall Mall Gazette '] that 
a man of his acuteness and discernment should fail even 
now to perceive how much he himself did, not only to 
bring about this result, but to jeopardise the seats of 
other Liberals by his patronage of Bradlaugh. ... At 
Westminster the Conservatives, if they had only known 
their strength, could have put in two Conservatives in- 
stead of one ; and if both the Liberals had been ousted, 
Mr Mill would have been mainly to blame. 

The ' Daily News ' was even more vindictive : — 

From the date of his letter commendatory of Mr Brad- 
laugh to his journey, a few days since, to Brighton, where 
he delivered himself of a diatribe against the Palmerstonian 
Liberals, Mt Mill has neglected nothing which could pre- 
judice against him men whom, for the sake of his party and 
his cause, he might at least have abstained from offending. 
The late member for Westminster has himself principally 
to thank for his defeat. The great follies of small men 
and the small follies of great ones may be dismissed with 
contempt or with indulgence ; but the serious errors of a 
man of Mr ^Mill's character, intellect, and reputation are 
too mischievous to be passed over in silence. 

The general tone of the Liberal press was not 

142 LIFE OF TV. H. SMITH. [.et. 43. 

unfriendly to the new member. Most newspapers 
on that side admitted that if a seat was to be 
lost, it could not be lost to a better man than 
Smith ; but of course some bitter jibes were 
written, and one at least of these is amusing to 
read in the light of after-years : — 

Westminster has shown herself incapable of keeping a 
great man when she has got one, and has raised a wealthy 
newsvendor to temporary prominence, and even to such 
kind of notoriety as attends those whose names get some- 
how embedded in the world-wide fame of an opponent. 

But though the Conservative cause had tri- 
umphed in Westminster, and though the mon- 
opoly of metropolitan Liberalism had been further 
demolished by the return of Lord George Hamil- 
ton for Middlesex, and of Mr Bell for the City of 
London, it had fared ill with the authors of 
household suffrage in the country. It seemed as 
if the jeers which greeted Mr Disraeli's allusions 
to the existence of Conservative working- men had 
been justified by the result of his " leap in the 
dark," for the state of parties in the new Parlia- 
ment was : — 

Liberals 387 

Conservatives . . . . . 272 

Liberal majority . . . . 115 

Still, the beaten Prime Minister might point to 

A.D. 1868.] THE REVIVALISTS. 14:-3 

South-West Laucashire — a or-enuine workino'-mau 
constituency — where his chief opponent had sus- 
tained a striking reverse, the result of the poll in 
that division beino- : — 

Cross (Conservative) .... 7729 

Turner (Conservative) . 7676 

Gladstone (Liberal) . . . . 7-115 

Grenfell (Liberal) .... 6939 

Before passing from the events of this eventful 
year 1868, allusion may be made to one of its 
notable features- — the Revival movement. For 
as long as history bears witness to human pro- 
gress, there is am^Dle evidence of the recurrence 
of storms of S23iritual disquiet which agitate the 
community by mingled waves of fear and fervour, 
and, passing away as rapidly as they came, make 
way for periods of tranquillity, to be disturbed 
aofain bv similar outbreaks. The form of such 
agitations varies as much as the i?ersonnel of the 
chief movers in them, but their general char- 
acteristics remain the same — apprehension of 
impending judgments, inqDerious call to instant 
repentance, fervid exhortation, and physical ex- 
citement, producing manifestations claimed to be 
of divine origin and spiritual nature. One of 
these storms was passing over the masses of this 
land at this time, and it is interestino- to note 
the quiet respectful attention, not unmingled 

144 LIFE OF IV. H. SMITH. [^t. 43. 

with suspicion, which it commanded from one so 
earnestly concerned in rehgious Hfe as Smith 
M^as. On Jnly 20, 1868, he wrote to one of 
his sisters : — 

Yesterday afternoon I went to hear Lord Eadstock at 
the Eevival meetings at the Polytechnic, and although he 
is very earnest, I doubt the ultimate value of his work. 

In another letter of this date to his sister 
Augusta, there is a little bit of melancholy but 
practical philosophy. He has been discussing a 
plan for affording pecuniary relief to some poor 
relations, and observes : — 

It is a sad thing they should have this trouble in their 
old days, but it is just another example of the mistake of 
unsatisfactory marriages. Sooner or later the inevitable 
breakdown occurs, and the heart had better have been 
broken at first, if such a thing was possible. 





smith's maiden speech DEBATE ON PAUPERISM SMITH's 


The decree which banished Mill from public 
life and ushered Smith into it was not to pass 
unchalleng-ed by the friends of the former. Be- 
fore the twenty days allowed by statute for 
lodging petitions had elapsed, one had been 
filed against the Conservative member for West- 
minster. Under the law as it then stood can- 
didates were much more in the hands of their 
agents than they are now, for there was no 
statutory limit to expenses, and the agent had 
to be supplied with money according to his 
discretion ; and not the chief agent only, but 
a whole troop of assistant agents and active 
partisans besides. 

VOL. I. K 

146 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [jet. 43. 

Certainly there had been no niggardliness 
shown in the supply. While the published ex- 
penses of the Liberal candidates, Grosvenor and 
Mill, only amounted together to £2296, 2s. 7d., 
those of the Conservative, Smith, mounted up 
to the huge total of £8900, 17s. 7d. There had 
also been lamentable indiscretion on the part 
of one of Smith's warmest well-wishers, Mr 
Grimston, to whom, indeed, it was greatly owing 
that Smith had consented to come forward again 
for Westminster. Mr Grimston had brought 
up to London a tenant of his brother (the Earl 
of Verulam), one Edwards, in order that he 
might act as a sub-agent. This Edwards had 
already undergone eighteen months' imprisonment 
for his part in the malpractices which brought 
about the disfranchisement of the borougfh of 
St Albans. No doubt this worthy must have 
possessed some special qualities which caused his 
services to be in request, and no doubt Grimston 
believed he was doing his friend a good turn 
in securing him an indefatigable sub-agent, but 
in fact his zeal very nearly brought about the 
loss of the seat. The petition was on the 
grounds of bribery, treating, and undue influ- 
ence by the candidate and by other persons on 
his behalf. 

As for Smith himself, he wrote to his wife 


on December 9 with a perfectly clear conscience 
as to his own actions : — 

From what I hear, I think it hkely the Petition will be 
presented, but it is not certain yet, and I do not think 
they have any matter which cannot be explained honour- 
ably and to all the world. I am very much less con- 
cerned about it than I was — indeed I cannot be said to be 
at all so. 

Parliament assembled on December 10, and 
Smith duly took his seat for Westminster. The 
proceedings on the petition against his return 
did not begin till February 12, when the 
case was opened before Mr Baron Martin at 
the Sessions House, Westminster, but was after- 
wards removed, first to the Lords Justices' Court 
and then to the Court of Exchequer, — a change 
rendered necessary by the crowds of persons 
seeking admittance, and by the intense local 
excitement attending the j^^'^ceedings. Mr 
Hawkins, Q.C., and Mr Serjeant Ballantine 
were counsel for Mr Smith, and Mr Fitzjames 
Stephens, with Messrs Murch and Littler as 
juniors, for the petitioners. The trial lasted for 
seven days, and the cross-examination of wit- 
nesses did not fail to produce instances of 
humour of the sort peculiar to two kinds of 
case — election petitions and actions for breach 
of promise of marriage. For example, one wit- 

148 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [jes. 43. 

ness who had apphed to Smith's agent for pay- 
ment of certain alleged expenses and had been 
refused, said that he thereupon changed his 
politics and became a Liberal, because the Con- 
servatives were " a nasty dirty lot." 

Asked by Mr Hawkins — " Give us your notion 
of what a Conservative is " — a witness replied, 
" I think a Conservative is a rank humbug." 

" Well, what is a Liberal ? "— " A Liberal, if he 
acts as a man and a gentleman, is a Liberal." 

" But suppose a Conservative acts as a man 
and a gentleman, what do you think of him ? " — 
" Well but, sir, you rarely come across such a 

It was stated in evidence that at a tea-meetino- 
in the Hanover Square Rooms, a blessing was 
first asked on the buns and the toast, and after- 
wards there was a good deal of love-making. 

" But do you consider love-making a corrupt 
practice ? " — " Quite the contrary. I consider it 
highly laudable." 

And so on, after the time-honoured custom by 
which gentlemen in silk gowns are encouraged 
to spend their own time and their clients' money 
in extracting feeble jokes in protracted cross-ex- 

Though the charge against the respondent 
broke down, and was abandoned by the peti- 

A.D. 1869.] JUDGMENT. 149 

tloners' counsel, the suspense remained intense 
up to the very last. Not till the closing sen- 
tences of Mr Baron Martin's summing up did he 
give the slightest indication of the judgment he 
was about to deliver. He said that 

what struck acfainst ]\Ir Smith was the enormous 
amount of expenditure. That expenditure had been 
called extravagant on one side and profuse on the other, 
and it might be described by a stronger term. At any 
rate, it was not creditable, and its extent was almost 
beyond belief. . . . He had never formed any other 
opinion of Mr Smith than that he intended this election 
should be carried on legally, and that the law should not 
be transgressed ; but intentions were nothing if bribery 
were done. ... If he was convinced that any illegal act 
had been done by a canvasser of Mr Smith's, the election 
would be declared void, whatever Mr Smith's intentions 
were. But the connection of agency must be made out 
clearly, for it would be unjust to accept a light proof of 
agency when the law was so harsh as to make the act of 
one person to affect the seat of an honest man. 

The judge wound up by declaring Mr Smith 
duly elected, though he declined, after consulta- 
tion with his brother judges, to make any order 
as to costs. 

It was indeed difficult to get round the stub- 
born fact that whereas the votes registered foi- 
the Liberal candidates had cost them only about 
3s. 6d. each, Smith had been called on to pay at 

150 LIFE OF IF. H. SMITH. [jet. 43. 

the rate of nearly 22s. for each vote. The charge 
against the respondent of treating broke down, 
and Avas abandoned by the petitioners' counsel ; 
but there can be little doubt that it was Smith's 
personal character for integrity which alone 
saved him from the consequences of the lavish 
expenditure incurred on his behalf by agents — 
in fact, the judge said as much in summing up, 
and that it was only by giving to a candidate 
above suspicion of corrupt intention the benefit 
of all doubts, that he was able to clear him of 
direct responsibility. As the ' Times ' remarked 
in a leader on the case : — 

A good character has, to ]\Ir Smith at any rate, proved 
better than riches. It may be a question whether the 
latter won the seat for him, but there can be no question 
that the former has saved it. 

In spite of the equanimity with which, as he 
had professed, he had contemplated the approach 
of the trial, Smith's health gave way under the 
anxiety of its protracted proceedings : his malady 
took the painful form of erysipelas, and he was 
unable to be in court during the summing up. 
It was his friend, Mr Cubitt, M.P. (now Lord 
Ashcombe), who had the pleasure of conveying 
to him the propitious news. 

Once safely seated within the walls of St 

A.D. 1869.] MAIDEN SPEECH. 151 

Stephen's, the new member for Westmmster 
showed a disposition and capacity for practical 
business. Importance is sometimes attached to 
the maiden speech of a novice, as forecasting the 
field in which any influence he is to have on the 
Legislature is to be developed, and it is often 
matter of concern to his friends that he should 
not speak too soon, or, on the other hand, be too 
long in the House without " making his mark," 
as the phrase goes. Smith's outset was charac- 
teristic of the man. It was neither on a lofty 
theme of foreign policy nor some scheme of ardent 
philanthropy that he chose to make his essay. 
Choice, indeed, had little enough to do with the 
matter : it happened simply that the second 
readino' of a bill dealing- with the valuation of 
property in the metropolis was moved by Mr 
Goschen, then President of the Poor Law Board, 
at the first sitting after the Easter recess, April 1, 
1869. It dealt with a subject concerning which 
Smith was thorous^hlv well informed ; he had 
something to say, and he said it. It was to no 
crowded senate, brimming with applause or 
lowerino' with ire, that he addressed himself, 
but to benches sparsely filled with listless legis- 
lators, reluctantly obeying the summons of Gov- 
ernment Whips, Avho are ever anxious to get 
some useful work through in the first few 

152 LIFE OF TV. H. SMITH. [jet. 43. 

days after the holidays, before the Opposition 
shall have gathered in strength. Such was the 
modest opening of a distinguished parliamentary 

Durino- his first session in Parliament Smith 
subsequently spoke on two or three other sub- 
jects, which furnished him with that which 
Bishop Wilberforce declared makes the difference 
between a good speaker and a bad one^the for- 
mer speaking because he has something to say ; 
the latter, because he has to say something. On 
May 10 Mr Gladstone gave facilities to Mr Cor- 
rance, to enable that gentleman to call attention 
to the question of Pauperism and Vagrancy, and 
in the debate arising thereon speeches were made 
by Mr Peel, then Secretary to the Poor Law 
Board, ^ Sir Michael Hicks Beach, Mr Albert 
Pell, and others. Mr Smith called attention to 
the sio'iiificant increase in the amount of out- 
door relief since the commencement of the new 
Poor Law in 1851, showing that in London 
alone, while the population had in the interval 
risen by 34 per cent, the cost of relief had 
doubled. He advocated withholding all relief 
of able - bodied poor, except it were coupled 
with the obligation to work, otherwise the law 
might be interpreted as establishing the legal 

^ Became Speaker of the House of Commons in 1884. 

A.D. 1869.] ' DISrnUST OF DOLES. 153 

right of every man who did not, could not, or 
would not work, and possessed no property, to 
food, clothing, and shelter at the cost of those 
who would, could, and did work, and possessed 

He was aware [he said] that he was touching on deh- 
cate ground, but he was not afraid of interfering with the 
labour market. He very much preferred the risk of such 
interference to the certain demorahsation which arose 
from giving relief as a matter of right to the person 
claiming it, without value given or a sense of gratitude 
in return. 

A thoughtful, wase observation this, founded 
on wide, practical experience of philanthropic 
work, yet one which, in however many minds 
it may win assent, finds too rare expression in 
these days, when so much is heard of schemes 
for the endowment by the State of pauperism 
and old ag-e. Throupfhout his life this was the 
keynote of Smith's code of charity : a liberal 
giver when the need for gifts was clear to him, 
he always showed an alert distrust of doles, and 
never subscribed to any fund, or gave to any beg- 
gar, without satisfying himself, often by protracted 
inquiry, into the merits of each case. A very large 
part — wellnigh a half — of so much of his corre- 
spondence as has been preserved (other than that 
on political affairs) consists of letters asking for 


help and answers to inquiries about the apph- 
cants. Many years after this debate on pauper- 
ism, his friend, Sir Henry Acland of Oxford, hap- 
pened to mention to Smith that he was about to 
part with a yacht which he had owned for some 
years and took great dehght in. Smith dissuaded 
him from doing so, because it was so good for Sir 
Henry's health and such an amusement for his 

" Well, but I have come to think it selfish to 
spend so much on yachting," replied Sir Henry ; 
" my children are all married, it is chiefly for my 
own gratification that I keep the yacht, and I 
feel that the money she costs ought, in part at 
least, to be devoted to charity." 

" Charity ! " exclaimed Smith, firing up in a 
way very unusual to him, — " how much mischief 
has been done in the name of charity ! Don't 
you see that so long as you keep your yacht, you 
employ Matthews, your captain, and the crew, 
who would, if you discharged them, lose, not only 
their employment, but the enjoyment of good 
clothes, recreation, music, and other means of 
culture which you provide for them ? In a na- 
tional sense, if you withdraw this fund from 
wages and give it in charity, I firmly believe you 
will by so much be doing harm instead of good. 
Charity is often most mischievous." 


He spoke very earnestly, and Sir Henry had 
rarely heard him open out so much on any sub- 
ject. Touching this matter of almsgiving, it 
may be noted here how many and various were 
the applications which flowed in upon Smith as 
his wealth increased and his name became better 
known. Sometimes the appeals were for thou- 
sands of pounds, at other times for a few shillings ; 
both were treated alike, careful inquiry was made 
into the circumstances, and the reply depended — 
not on the amount asked for, but the grounds on 
which it was asked. Thus Miss Giberne, a con- 
stant and valued correspondent of Smith's, once 
wrote to him about a hawker who drove " the 
dearest little donkey you ever saw," but wanted 
to sell it and his cart on the plea of necessity. 
Probably the man saw in the kind-hearted lady 
who petted and fed his donkey the prospect of 
disposing of his live and rolling stock to good 
advantaofe ; nor was he far out in his calcula- 
tions, for Miss Giberne sug-o-ested that Smith 
should buy the equipage. But both had left 
out of account Smith's inflexible observance of 
principle in the smallest things, and this was 
his good-natured answer : — 

Dec. 16, 1876. 

Dear Aunt Emily, — "Why should I buy a donkey and 
a cart — yet ? I do not propose to start as a costermonger, 


but I may come to it, and then I will try to take care of 
the donkey. 

At the present moment there are two horses and one 
pony retired from work on the premises ; one or two must 
be shot presently, to save them from the miseries con- 
sequent on inability to work or having no work to do. 
There are three other ponies of the past generation, their 
carts and one chaise, with little more than healtliy work 
for one, and there is a very fat and heavy boy to attend 
to them. What place is there for the donkey ? 

There would be nothing for it but to put him to death 
— out of kindness lest he should be ill-treated — stuff' him 
and place him and his cart on the lawn under a canopy, 
with an inscription commemorating your sympathy and 
affection for animals, and my weakness in yielding to it. 
— Ever yours, aff^y, W. H. Smith, 

The Hard Man. 

There is no record of how Smith dealt with 
another claimant on his bounty who bore these 
credentials : — 

The bearer of this is an earnest Christian young man. 
He is at present employed in a wine-cellar, an occupation 
altogether unsuited to his tastes now that he has become 
a new man in Christ Jesus. 

And there must have been some conflict be- 
tween benevolence and prudence in dealing with 
the following application : — 

Sir i wish to know weither you are in want of a lad as i 
am in want of a Situation, yesterday i see there was an 
advertisment in the times for two youths to write a good 

A.D. 1869.] THE IRISH CHURCH 157 

hand i wish to know sir weither my hand writing will 
suit you sir i have been used to the newspaper office for 3 
years but has never leant AVriteing the covers sir i think 
with a little improvement i should suit you. 

Smith avoided falling into the error of speaking 
too often in the House. He spoke on one other 
occasion only during his first session — the debate 
on the bill enabling the Postmaster-General to 
acquire the whole of the telegraphs in the 
country. He had been for some years a direc- 
tor of an electric telegraph company, and sup- 
ported the bill, though he showed that the 
terms on which these concerns were to be 
ceded to the Government were by no means so 
over-liberal as the opponents of the measure tried 
to prove. ^ 

Every minor question was overshadowed dur- 
ing the session of 1869 by the discussions on the 
bill to disestablish and disendow the Irish Church. 
This was moved by Mr Gladstone on March 1. 
Public interest was intensified to a degree beyond 
what even so radical a measure might have 
evoked, by the enormous wealth of the corpora- 
tion which was the subject of attack, and by 

1 One of the arguments used by Mr Torrens against the proposed 
transaction was founded on what he considered Mr Scudamore's 
extravagance in estimating the number of telegrams to be dealt 
with by the General Post Office in the course of a year at 
11,200,000. Last year (1892) they amounted to 69,685,480. 

158 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [jet. 43. 

speculation as to the disposal of the spoil. The 
property of the Church was estimated at the 
following figures : — 

Tithe rent-charge . . . £9,000,000 
Lands and perpetuity rents . 0,250,000 

Money 750,000 

Total value . . . £16,000,000 

Of this large sum the bill disposed of £8,650,000 
by providing for vested interests, lay compensa- 
tion, private endowments, commutation of the 
Maynooth Grant and Hegium Donum, &c., the 
free surplus remaining being between seven and 
eight millions. Mr Gladstone's speech explaining 
the proposals of the Government occupied three 
hours in delivery, and, as has always been the 
case in the perorations of his most destructive 
orations, he brought his arguments to a close by 
introducing some metaphor of great force and 
elegance, and the expression of confidence that 
the greatest advantage Avould accrue to the object 
of his attack. 

I don't know [he said] in what country so great a 
change, so great a transition, has been proposed for the 
ministers of a religious communion who had enjoyed for 
many ages the preferred position of an Established 
Church. I can well understand that to many in the Irish 
Establishment such a change appears to be nothing less 


than ruin and destruction : from the height on which they 
now stand the future is to them an abyss, and their fears 
recall the words used in ' King Lear,' when Edgar endeav- 
ours to persuade Gloster that he has fallen over the cliffs 
at Dover, and says : — 

" Ten masts at each make not the altitude 
Which thou hast perpendicularly fell : 
Thy life's a miracle ! " 

And yet but a little while after the old man is relieved 
from his delusion and finds he has not fallen at all. So I 
trust that when instead of the fictitious and adventitious 
aid on which we have too long taught the Irish Establish- 
ment to lean, it should come to put its trust in its own 
resources, in its own great mission, in all that it can 
draw from the energy of its ministers and its members, 
and the high hopes and promises of the Gospel that it 
teaches, it will find that it has entered upon a new era 
of existence — an era bright with hope and potent for 

The Prime Minister's speech was distin- 
guished, even among the greatest efforts of 
that consummate orator, by the lucidity with 
which he set forth a measure of infinite com- 
plexity, investing even matter-of-fact details 
almost with the lustre of romance. Disraeli, 
who rose immediately after him, bore willing 
tribute to the eloquence to which the House 
had been listening. He said that under ordin- 
ary circumstances it would have been the duty 
of his party to meet the motion for leave to 

160 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [^t. 43. 

bring in the bill with a direct negative, but 
that the result of the g-eneral election mio-ht be 
interpreted into permission given to Mr Glad- 
stone to lay his jDroposals before the House. 
Accordingly he would not oppose, and he advised 
his friends not to oppose, the introduction of 
the measure ; but he stipulated for a delay of 
three weeks before the second reading should be 
taken. Mr Gladstone protested against so long 
an adjournment, but finally consented to post- 
pone it until March 18. The second reading 
was carried by a majority of 118, the motion 
for going into Committee by 126, and the third 
reading by 114. These crushing majorities en- 
abled the Government to send the bill up to 
the House of Lords in much the same state 
as when it was first laid on the table of the 

The interest which o-athered round the debates 
on this measure in the House of Commons was 
transferred to those in the Upper Chamber after 
Whitsuntide. Would the Lords throw out the 
bill, as they had in the previous year thrown out 
Mr Gladstone's Suspensory Bill, or would they 
recognise in this juncture one of "those rare and 
great occasions on which the national will has 
fully declared itself," when, as the Marquis of 
Salisbury had laid down, it was the duty of 


the House of Lords to yield to the opinion of the 

The President of the Board of Trade, Mr 
John Bright, took the unusual course of antici- 
pating the decision which the Peers might be 
expected to take, in a letter to the Birmingham 
Liberal Association. He made use of some ex- 
pressions of a kind with which the public has 
since been made familiar on the lips of those 
who claim to be known as advanced politicians ; 
but those were davs of pfreater reticence, and 

^ The duty of the House of Lords in dealing with measures which 
have obtained the assent of the other House has been the subject of 
such frequent and angry controversy in the past, and is so hkely to 
give rise in the future to not less frequent and angry, 
that it is worth jjlacing on record the pronouncement of one who 
has long led and still leads the majority in that House. " I am not 
blind,'' said the Marquis of Salisburj^, in the course of the debate 
on this Suspensory Bill, " to the peculiar obligations which lie on 
the members of this House in consequence of the fixed and unalter- 
able constitution of this House. I quite admit — every one must 
admit — that when the opinion of your countrymen has declared 
itself, and you see that their convictions — their firm, delibei'ate, 
sustained convictions — are in favour of any course, I do not for a 
moment deny that it is your duty to yield. It may not be a 
pleasant process — it may even make some of you wish that some 
other arrangement were possible ; but it is quite clear that, whereas 
a Minister or a Government, when asked to do that which is con- 
trary to their conviction, may resign, and a member of the Com- 
mons, when asked to support any measure contrary to his con- 
victions, may abandon his seat, no such course is open to your 
lordshijis ; and therefore, on those rare and great occasions on 
which the national will has fully declared itself, I do not doubt 
that your lordshijjs would yield to the opinion of the country ; 
otherwise the machinery of Government could not be carried on." 

VOL. I. L 

162 LIFE OF IF. H. SMITH. [mt. 43. 

threats directed by a Cabinet Minister against 
the Upper Chamber were then of starthng 

If [he wrote] the House of Lords reject the bill, it is 
possible that a good many people may ask what is the 
special value of a Constitution which gives a majority of 
100 in one House for a given policy, and a majority of 
100 in another House against it ? It may be asked also 
why the Crown, through its Ministers in the House of 
Commons, should be found in harmony with the nation, 
while the Lords are generally in direct opposition to it. 
Instead of doing a little childish tinkering about life- 
peerages, it would be well if the Peers could bring them- 
selves on a line with the opinions and necessities of our 
day. In harmony with the nation, they may go on for a 
long time ; but throwing themselves athwart its course, 
they may meet with accidents not pleasant for them 
to think about. 

Lord Granville moved the second reading of 
the Irish Church Bill on June 14, and the 
debate which ensued was chiefly remarkable for 
the speech delivered by the Bishop of Peter- 
borough (Dr Magee) against it. It has since 
remained in the memory of those who heard 
it as one of the most impressive orations in 
modern times, and although the proceedings 
of the House of Lords are somewhat remotely 
connected with this narrative, some reference 
must be made to what was then universally held 
to be the masterjDiece of the debates in either 


House. ^ The Rig-ht Reverend Prelate beo^an 
by brushing aside certain arguments on which 
great stress had been laid by the defenders of 
Establishment : — 

I am free to confess I cannot regard this bill as a 
proposal to violate the Coronation Oath. The Coronation 
Oath seems to me to be the seal of a compact between 
two parties ; and I cannot understand how because one of 
the parties appeals to the Divine judgment to punish a 
breach of the compact, both parties may not agree to an 
alteration of the compact. In the second place, I cannot 
regard this measure as a violation of the Act of Union. 
I regard the Act of Union as a treaty not merely between 
two Legislatures, the members of which may be, and for 
the most part are, no longer in existence, but as a com- 
pact between two nations which still exist, and have a 
right to modify the terms of the treaty mutually agreed 
on between them. 

Neither did he found on the inviolability of 
corporate property, for, accepting the proposition 
that there was a distinction between corpo- 
rate and jorivate property, he used that as the 
very ground on which to base his stoutest 

1 A certain well-known Scottish baronet, then in Parliament, 
noted rather for the force than for the length of his contributions 
to conversation, rode into the Park after listening to Bishop Magee's 
speech. A friend inquired if it had been a success, and what line 
of argument had been pursued. " Oh," said Sir Eobert Anstruther, 
" it was the finest thing you ever heard. He said that Gladstone had 
appealed to them in the name of the Almighty to vote for the bill, 
but that for his part he would be d d if he did so." 

164 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [.bt. 43. 

resistance to the proposal for disenclowment. 
and uttered the following memorable and pro- 
found sentences : — 

You will always ol3serve in history that corporate 
property is always the first to be attacked in all great 
democratic revolutions. Especially is this so in the case 
of ecclesiastical corporate property, because ecclesiastical 
corporations for the most part are very wealthy, and at 
the same time are very weak. . . . Eevolutions commence 
with sacrilege, and they go on to communism ; or to put 
it in the more gentle and euphemistic language of the 
day, revolutions begin with the Cliurch and go on to the 

The course of the speech was marked by out- 
bursts of applause in the Strangers' Gallery, a 
breach of parliamentary decorum which, unusual 
in the hig-hest deo-ree in either Chamber, is 
peculiarly at variance with the staid and impas- 
sive atmosphere of the House of Lords. Lord 
Derby, in opposing the second reading, took up 
those weapons which the Bishop of Peterborough 
had flung aside, and took his stand on the Treaty 
of Union and the Coronation Oath ; whereas 
the Marquis of Salisbury condemned such argu- 
ments as '' involving the inexpressible absurdity 
that an oath taken in the days of Adam may 
have lasted to this time, binding the whole 
human race under circumstances absolutely dif- 
ferent from those of the Paradisiacal period, and 


that the duties of mankind may have been 
settled for ever by the act of one single in- 
dividual at that time, and we might never be 
able to escape from them.' 

The division on the second reading was a re- 
markable one — 

Contents . . . . ■ . 179 

Non-Contents 146 

Majority for the Bill .... 33 

It is not without interest, even a quarter of 
a century after these events, to examine the 
composition of the majority in this division. It 
contained a large number of Conservative peers, 
including the Marquis of Salisbury, the Earl of 
Carnarvon, and Lord Lytton, and one Bishop 
(Thirlwall of St David's). Thirteen English and 
two Irish Bishops voted against the bill, while 
I he Archbishops of Canterbury and York and 
the Bishop of Oxford (Wilberforce) refrained 
from voting. Many of those peers who thus 
supported the bill on second reading did so 
on the understanding that it would be largely 
altered in the Committee stage, and this, in 
effect, was done on such a scale that when 
their lordships' amendments came to be con- 
sidered in the Commons, Mr Gladstone, con- 
fident in the force of a great majority, led the 

166 LIFE OF jr. H. SMITH [^t. 44. 

House to disao-ree with the Lords on all such 
amendments as could be regarded as at all im- 
portant. Ultimately, after much fierce talk of 
the usual character about mendinof or endino- 
the House of Peers, a compromise was effected, 
and the bill received the Royal assent on 
July 26. 













In the beginning of 1870, the year destined to 
see the fall of the French empire, Smith ^^'ent 
to Paris, in order to prosecute inquiries into 
the management of the poor in France. The 
thorough way in which he set about his in- 
vestigation there may best be illustrated by a 
few extracts from letters to his wife : — 

Paeis, 15th Jan'J. 1870. 

I wrote very hurriedly yesterday, as I had been kept out 
by my friends much longer than I expected. Maynard 
took me first of all to M. Dubard, an Officer of the Guard. 

168 LIFE OF IV. H. SMITH. [^t. 44. 

From liini we all went to his brother : we had a long con- 
versation with him. He is assistant to the Procureur 
Imperial, who holds an analogous position to our Attorney- 
General, and he introduced me to the Chief of the Municipal 
Police of Paris — a Mons. Nuss. He was very courteous, 
^ave me a lot of information, and knew evervthing himself 
about our system, which he thinks a bad one. But first of 
all I had been to the Hotel de Ville, and saw the Sous-chef 
in the Secretariat of the Prefect of the Seine. From him I 
went to the Chief of the Bureau of the Assistance Publique, 
and he talked to me for half an hour, and gave me per- 
mission to visit everything and to ask any questions I 
liked. He gave me great reports to study, and I am to 
return with any written questions, to which he will give 
written answers. Nothing could exceed his kindness and 
readiness to give information. From him I went to the 
Palais de Justice, to encounter again my friend the Pro- 
cureur's adjoint, and he took me by a tortuous dirty route, 
by which I fancy many troubled persons have passed in 
troubled times to the Prefecture of Police. I have told 
you of M. Nuss, whom I saw there : from him I went to 
the Chef of the 1st Division of Police, to get permission 
to visit the Depot de Mendicite, and it was his volubility 
which nearly destroyed me. He wanted to tell me every- 
thing, and for full half an hour he poured out a torrent 
of words, and every time I said " Oui, vraiment," meekly, 
he began again, until it got dark, and I became fairly 
alarmed lest I should be detained until the post had gone, 
and you cannot imagine the strain of mind in the en- 
deavour to mentally translate and follow the stream of 
what was really very useful, only it was too much. . . . 
I am not surprised you tell me to keep out of harm's 
way. The news in the English papers looks very threat- 
eninsr, but since I have been here there has not been 

A.D. 1870.] VISIT TO PAEIS. 169 

the slightest appearance of dangerous excitement. On 
Wednesday there was danger, and on that day and dur- 
ing part of Thursday the troops were consigned to their 
barracks, and had 92 rounds of ball-cartrid<];e served out 
to each man. On Monday I begin the tour of visits to 
the different Institutions. 

Jan. 17. 

We start directly to visit one of the district bureaux de 
bienfaisance, then we visit one of the large Hospitals, 
questioning as we go ; then we go to Mr Gardiner, an 
English Clergyman, who has been long here, to pump him 
as to the condition of the Paris poor — from him we hope 
to get the names of some French Protestant Clergy who 
can give similar and independent information. I think 
this will be as much as we shall do to-day — and to-morrow 
I go to the Depot de Mendicity at S. Denis, and I hope 
also to see the Head of the whole administration, to ask 
questions arising out of the observations we may make 
in the meantime. So my work will go on. I hope to 
fiuisli on Wednesday evening, after dining with the Mess 
of the Guard. 

Jan. 18. 

Yesterday's work was very interesting. I arranged to 
see the Head of the Protestant system of charity, and I 
went over two of the Hospitals— one a very large one and 
the newest in Paris, and another for the middle-class, 
where people are received and treated on payment, accord- 
ing to the accommodation m ven, of amounts varving from 
4 to 10 francs per day. It is an excellent institution, as 
one could provide for one's friend or even oneself in 
illness without being under the necessity of accepting 
charity. . . . 

Paris is quiet, but it is a very curious quiet, the more 
one sees of it. 

170 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [^t. 44. 

Paris, Jan. 19, 1870. 
I went yesterday with Maynard to M. Husson, the head 
of all the poor relief of Paris, and had a long interview with 
him. The result was, he sent us by his Secretary to the 
Director of the Bureau in the Mairie du Temple ; and 
when we went to him, he arranged that a Commissaire and 
a Visitor should be ready at 1 to-day to go with us to the 
houses of the poor, and that we should see with our own 
eyes the application of the system from beginning to end. 
After this I called on M. Grand Pierre, the Protestant 
chief Pastor of Paris, and had a long talk with him, and 
a very interesting one. The difficulty I shall find will 
be in digesting and arranging all this information in my 
own mind. 

Jan. 20. 

I wonder what the children would have said if they had 
been with me yesterday at the Hospice des Enfants 
Assistes. It was most interesting, but in some respects a 
most painful sight. One room, which was called the Creche, 
for newly born infants — or infants at the breast — con- 
tained about 50 cots, and when we were there, there were 
about 25 babies in the room. There was a Sister of 
Charity and a clerk engaged in marking them — i.e., each 
child when received has a necklace and distinguishing mark, 
corresponding with a register, placed round its neck — and 
secured so that it cannot be taken oft* except by pincers. 
There was a row of wet-nurses advancing in order with 
their little bundles, and the printed paper with particulars, 
which is affixed to the cap of the poor little baby when 
taken in at the door, was exchanged from this necklace. 
On a sort of ottoman in front of the fire lay a row of 
something. As I got near to it, I found it was a row of 
very young babies not many days old — all dressed alike 
as a short bundle, labelled on their caps, all turned the 


same way — and looking less like babies, except for their 
poor little mouths aud faces, than anything you can con- 
ceive. There was one just dressed, which certainly had 
not been born many hours, which its mother will prob- 
ably never see again, and which certainly had never seen 
its mother, for its eyes were not yet open. This side of 
the picture was painful, and the sense that although there 
was great care, it was a general and not a particular care 
that was taken of these poor things.^ To-day I have 
been again to the Bureau de Bienfaisance, and have by 
the kindness of the Sisters of Charity seen the whole 
working of the system. I am afraid it could not be 
carried out at all without them. I have also been since 
the morning to S. Denis to see the Depot de Mendicite of 
Paris, and there I saw misery enough to make one sad, 
especially as it was of the hopeless kind springing from 
past errors, infirmity, or incompetence of some kind or 
other in most cases, and the place smelt — stank, most 
abominably, as you know how. I went also this morning 
with the Visitor to see a poor family receiving relief in 
one of the old houees in Paris, and you can only imagine 
it — I cannot describe it. 

Smith entered Parliament at a time when the 
Conservative party was staggering under a crush- 
ing defeat at the polls. Disraeli's "leap in the 
dark " had landed in disaster, from Avhich, in the 
opinion of many, and especially of the country 
party, there was no prospect of recovery. House- 

'■ It will be remembered that Eousseau rid himself of his children 
by placing them in the receptacle for enfanis troiive's. " Je savais 
que I'education pour eux la moins perilleuse etait celle des enfans 
trouves." — 'Les Reveries,' ix""*"- Promenade. 

172 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [^t. 44. 

hold suffrage seemed to have swamped the in- 
structed classes, and the presence of Mr Bright 
in the Cabinet, representing the extreme, and, as 
they had hitherto been regarded, revolutionary 
Radicals, was full of boding for all interested in 
maintainino- the old order of the Constitution and 
the security of property. The Opposition were 
dispirited and inactive ; they fought the Irish 
Church Bill with resolution, but even on that 
question there was a want of energy on their 
front bench. Disraeli was absent from the House 
on account of ill - health throuMiout the Com- 
mittee stage of that great measure ; Northcote, 
who should have been his lieutenant, was much 
abroad on foreign missions ; and Gathorne-Hardy 
was accused of want of industry. Under such 
circumstances as these, there always springs up 
among the younger members of the party a feel- 
ing of dissatisfaction at the laxity of resistance 
to the policy of the Government. It was so on 
this occasion, and Smith took his place among a 
small but- determined band sitting below the 
gangway, a part of the House which at that 
time, before the broad lines of party had been 
confused by the creation of Home Bulers and 
Liberal Unionists, implied a degree of independ- 
ence of strict party discipline. Conspicuous 
amonof these stalwarts were Mr Richard Asshe- 


ton Cross ^ and Lord Sandon, with whom Smith 
soon fell into close co-operation, and these three, 
with some associates, soon came to be looked on 
as the practical leaders of Opposition. It was 
no uncommon thing, when matters were moving 
sluou-ishlv amono' the Conservatives, for Disraeli 
to give a hint to this little group that the fire 
wanted stirrinof. * 

The proceedings which take place, with greater 
or less decorum, among the occupants of the 
dino-y DTeen benches in the Chamber itself, are, 
in a laro-e de^-ree, the outcome of much that goes 
on elsewhere, and there is no corner of West- 
minster Palace where projects spring so quickly 
into being and are nursed into maturity than in 
the smokino'-room of the House of Commons. 
When James I., with royal profusion of adjec- 
tives, penned his ' Counter -blaste ' against the 
" continuall vse of taking this vnsauorie smoake," 
asked, " What honour or policy can moove vs to 
imitate the barbarous and beastly maners of the 
wilde, godlesse and slauish Indians, especially in 
so vile and stinking a custome ? " and wound up 
by denouncing it as "a custome loathsome to the 
eye, hatefull to the nose, harmefulle to the 
braine, dangerous to the lungs, and in blacke 
stinking fume thereof neerest resembling the 

1 Created Viscount Ci'oss in 1886. 

174 LIFE OF IF. H. SMITH. [^t. 44. 

horrible stiglan smoake of the pit that is bot- 
tomlesse," he could not have foreseen what an 
important influence it was to have, not only on 
the revenue, but on the general direction of 
national policy. In 1870 there was but one 
smoking - room for the use of members of the 
House of Commons (there are now three), an 
ill - lit, draughty, cheerless apartment opening 
upon the terrace, and this was the favourite 
resort of the most active spirits in all the politi- 
cal sections. Here, more than elsewhere, was 
the realm of frankness : men of the most diver- 
gent views chatted together and discussed the 
course of events — past, present, and to come ; 
on this neutral field Cross, Sandon, and Smith 
used to spend much of their time. 

When Parliament reassembled in 1870, the 
condition of Ireland showed little to justify the 
expectation professed by the authors of the Irish 
Church Act as to the conciliatory eflfect it was 
to have on disaffected persons. On the contrary, 
the Fenian movement had become so formidable 
towards the close of 1869 that the Government 
had found it necessary to strengthen the force 
in Ireland by the addition of several battalions, 
agrarian crime increased at a frightful rate, and 
there seemed to be no limit to the violence of 

A.1). 1870.] THE WISH LAND BILL. 175 

seditious lang-uage uttered in the National press. 
Nevertheless, undaunted by the ill return shown 
for their efforts at conciliation, the Cabinet re- 
solved to persevere further in that direction, 
and thereby justify, within a shorter time than 
could have been predicted, the forecast made by 
the Bishop of Peterborough, that, having de- 
spoiled the Church of her corporate property, 
they would direct their next attack against 
private projDerty in land ; for whatever oi^inion 
may be held as to the manner in which Irish 
landlords had exercised their rights and the 
spirit in which their estates had been admin- 
istered, it cannot be questioned that the effect 
of the Land Bill introduced by the Government 
was to diminish very seriously the value of 
landed property in Ireland. The ajDpearance 
of this Land Bill was a direct fulfilment of the 
eloquent Prelate's forecast. 

But the Conservative leaders could not be 
blind to the state of matters in Ireland : they 
could not fail to recoo-nise that the rights and 
wrongs of private ownership in land had been 
confused by the tacit recognition in certain jDarts 
of Ireland of customs of tenure, utterly unknown 
in England and Scotland, and of tJie existence 
in the other provinces of precisely the same 

176 LIFE OF jr. H. SMITH. [^t. 44. 

conditions wliich had led to the sanction of 
tenant-right in Ulster. They resolved, there- 
fore, not to oppose the bill on second reading ; 
but, by attacking the details of it in Committee, 
to purge it of the novel and obnoxious principles 
it contained. A division, it is true, was taken 
against the second reading, but it revealed the 
grotesque proportions of 442 votes to 11, and 
in the minority were only found tw^o Conserva- 
tives, one of whom, Mr, now the Right Hon- 
ourable, James Lowther, to this day maintains 
in Parliament a consistent and dogged resistance 
to almost every innovation. 

In Committee the first and principal conflict 
was joined upon the third clause, which pro- 
vided compensation for disturbance, even in those 
parts of Ireland where tenant-right was not a 
recoDfnised custom. To this clause Mr Disraeli 
moved an amendment limiting compensation to 
unexhausted improvements- — in itself an import- 
ant concession in a country where it was ex- 
tremely rare for improvements to be undertaken 
by any one except the tenant. The debate on 
this clause was long and animated ; the division 
was momentous, because it marked the first step 
in a long course of legislation based on the 
principle of dual ownership, and Mr Disraeli's 
amendment was defeated bv 296 votes to 220. 


Although Smith took no active part in the 
debates on this important measure, it seems to 
have been at this time that his interest was 
drawn to the subject of it, and led to the exer- 
tions he devoted to it in after-years, and the 
share it will be shown that he had in the efforts 
made to relieve Irish landlords from the intoler- 
able position in which they had been left, by 
equitably transferring property from the owner 
to the occupier. 

To the consideration of another bill, introduced 
by Mr W. E. Forster two days after the Irish 
Land Bill, — a measure not so startling as the 
other in its innovation upon recognised prin- 
ciples, but not of interest less complex nor results 
less far - reaching — the Elementary Education 
Bill — Smith was able to bring ripe experience 
as well as sympathetic assistance. His friend- 
ship with Forster, at that time Vice-President 
of the Committee of Council on Education (which 
is the cumbersome periphrasis prescribed by de- 
partmental etiquette as the title of our Minis- 
ter of Education),^ probably began in numerous 

1 Time, it is said, was made for slaves, and the subjects of- Queen 
Victoria, being nothing if not a free people, show a lofty contempt 
for economy in that commodity, especially, as is well known, in the 
House of Commons. Otherwise it might be interesting to calculate 
how many minutes are lost in debate by observance of the rule 
prohibiting one member alluding to another excejat by mentioning 

VOL. I. M 

178 LIFE OF IV. H. SMITH. [jet. 45. 

confidential conferences at the time this bill 
was under consideration — a friendship which 
endured to the last, throusfh manv heated con- 
troversies in Parliament on other subjects about 
which the two men held more divero^ent views 
than about education. 

It is a feature to be noted in Smith's public 
life that he never sowed any parliamentary wild 
oats. Most men who have risen to distinction 
in the House of Commons, at all events since 
the Reform Bill of 1832, have brought them- 
selves into prominence either by persistent 
oratory, whether excellent or mediocre ; by 
identifying themselves with some particular 
question, in which chance or choice had made 
them expert ; or, lastly, by threatened or actual 
attacks upon the leaders of their jDarty at critical 
junctures. None of these proceedings marked 
Smith's career at any time. Though professing 
independence when he entered the House, he 
found that the only practical course was to 
abandon that idea, and he yielded unwavering 

his constituency or his office. The custom, no doubt, had its origin 
in a salutary avoidance of the risk of personal altercation and even 
collision, which must be held to justify the use of such circumlo- 
cutory phrases as "the honourable and learned member for the 

division of shire" to designate "Mr Jones," or "the 

Right Honourable gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord 
Lieutenant of Ireland " to indicate the ruler of Ireland for the 
time being. 


loyalty to those who directed the party with 
whom he found himself most in harmonv : he 
never suffered those subjects with which he was 
most conversant to assume the proportions of 
a "hobby" or the plumage of a "fad"; least 
of all could he j)retend to gifts of eloquence, 
and showed no disposition to inflict himself on 
the attention of the House except when he was 
able to contribute something solid to its de- 
liberations. Public education was one of those 
subjects on the discussion of which, alike by 
experience and inclination, he was fitted to 
take an intelligent part ; he spoke, accord- 
ingl}^ several times during the passage of 
Mr Forster's measure, but invariably with a 
brevitv, as the records of Hansard testify, al- 
most inverse to the weight of matter contained 
in his speeches. 

The most controversial point in the bill was 
that dealing with the future of religious instruc- 
tion in schools, and upon this the Oj^position in 
the House of Commons were divided. The voung 
Conservatives, among whom were Smith, Cross, 
and Lord Sandon, were in favour of voluntary 
religious instruction, but Disraeli and Gathorne- 
Hardv ^ stood out for the full Church of Eno-land 

1 Created Viscount Cranbrook in 1878, and Earl Craubrook in 


180 LIFE OF IV. H. SMITH. [jet. 45. 

teaching. There was, of course, a third party 
in the House, stoutly advocating the total pro- 
hibition of reliofious instruction under all circum- 
stances in public schools ; but the Government, 
supported by the advanced section of the Opposi- 
tion, adopted a middle course, which, while it 
gave school boards power to forbid religious 
teaching altogether, also empowered them to 
j^ermit schoolmasters to read and expound Scrip- 
ture without the introduction of Creeds or 

Another feature of novel interest may be noted 
in this bill — namely, the provision made for intro- 
ducing ballot-voting, up to that time unknown in 
this country, in the election of school boards ; and 
in connection Avith this. Smith supported Lord 
Frederick Cavendish's amendment in favour of 
cumulative voting, which, devised as a safeguard 
to the reasonable representation of minorities, has 
since proved, as many people think, unduly fav- 
ourable to them. 

But the most important alteration in the bill 
which Lord Sandon and Mr Smith were chiefly 
instrumental in inducing Ministers to accept was 
the withdrawal of the clause constituting twenty- 
three school boards for the metropolis and sub- 
stituting one, creating a single board for the 
whole of London. The experience of Sandon 


and Smith in the management of the Bishop of 
London's Fund had convinced them that it was 
imjDortant to secure the services of capable, in- 
dependent, and responsible men to administer 
the Act in densely populous districts, and they 
saw clearly that there would be little to induce 
such persons to become candidates for seats on 
small local boards. 

They urged with great perseverance upon Mr 
Forster how necessary it was, in the interests of 
education, to attract the best men to the work, 
and finally convinced him, not so much by argu- 
ments spoken across the floor of the House, as 
during repeated and prolonged private interviews 
in the Privy Council Office, that their view was 
just. The consequence was the withdraAval of 
the original clause, and the substitution of one 
establishing- the London School Board as it now is. 
In his speech on the motion for going into Com- 
mittee on the bill. Smith had urged that this 
principle should be observed in the formation of 
all school boards which should have areas coter- 
minous with counties ; but acting on the ne sutor 
maxim, as a metropolitan member he was sat- 
isfied with having secured its application to the 

The o-ood understanding' between Smith and 
Forster in their endeavours to settle this ques- 

182 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [.et. 45. 

tion is illustrated by a passage in a letter of 
the former to his wife on July 29 : — 

I am very glad I was in the House last night, as 
Forster, with whom, as you know, I like to work, came 
to me and expressed a wish that I should hear his 
statement on Education, and then I had to say a word. 

Before the House of Commons parted with the 
bill, Mr M'Cullagh Torrens, on behalf of the 
Radical supporters of the Government, pro- 
nounced a frank recognition of the part taken 
in promoting its success by the hon. member for 
Westminster, " whose services in connection with 
this bill he could not too strongly acknowledge." 

On another matter which formed the subject of 
debates during this session, Smith made more 
than one speech. As long as we have the poor 
with us, so long the presence of persons ready 
with advice and proj)osals for their betterment 
may be reckoned on ; but it is not always those 
who best understand the problems involved who 
are most ready to give advice and to put forward 
proposals. Smith had worked long and hard 
among the London poor : his speeches on the 
second reading of the Poor Relief (Metropolis) 
Bill (April 25), and on Dr Brewer's motion for 
the Better Regulation of Outdoor Relief (May 
10), consisted of practical arguments temperately 
expressed, illustrated by examples of shamefully 


bad administration of the law which he himself 
had witnessed. 

But the most direct success which the member 
for Westminster achieved was of a nature 
peculiarly exhilarating ]to a somewhat dispirited 
Opposition, bringing about, as it did, the defeat 
of the Government, and securing to the people of 
London a result for which they ought to feel 
grateful at this day. In the formation of the 
Thames Embankment below Westminster Bridofe 
an extent of land valued at £5000 a-year had 
been reclaimed from the river, which came as 
foreshore into the hands of the Office of Woods 
and Forests : on this land it was proposed by the 
Government to erect certain public offices, and 
Smith met this scheme with a motion that an 
address be presented to her Majesty, praying that 
the land, which had been reclaimed at the heavy 
expense of the ratepayers, should now be reserved 
for their advantage as a breathing - place and 
pleasure - ground. The Chancellor of the Ex- 
chequer (Mr Lowe) and Mr Gladstone both 
spoke vehemently against the motion, the 
former minimising the objections to the scheme 
of the Government as " sentimental or sesthetical 
arguments," the latter declaring that the address 
moved for would be " flatly contrary to the law 
of the land, which makes it the duty of the Com- 

184 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [^t. 45. 

missioners of Woods and Forests to turn to the 
best profitable account the property of the Crown," 
and that to dispose prospectively of Crown land 
to the extent of £150,000 would be an invasion 
of the Prince of Wales's rights of entail. Mr 
Locke, in supporting the motion, moved the 
House to laughter by declaring that " wherever 
you build in this country you are sure to make 
an eyesore of it." In the division which fol- 
lowed, the Government were defeated by 158 
votes to 108, and the question was hung up for 
the time. 

During this year a change was effected which 
was destined to have a very important and last- 
inof effect on the character and constitution of the 
Civil Service. An Order in Council was promul- 
gated, directing that in future all ajDpointments 
to situations in the Public Departments (except 
those to the Foreign Office and certain other 
posts requiring professional qualifications) should 
be made by competitive examination. This year 
also witnessed the surrender by the Sovereign of 
the Poyal Prerogative in the government of the 
army, and the Secretary of State for War became 
the official superior of the Commander-in-Chief 

After the prorogation Smith took a tour in 
Scotland. The terrible disasters which had 

A.D. 1870.] LETTER TO Mil FORD. 185 

already in the early autumn begun to overtake 
the distracted empire of France in the conflict 
with Prussia made a melancholy impression on 
his mind, and there are many allusions to that 
country in his letters. Writing to Mr Ford, 
from Tarbert, Loch Lomond, on September 12, he 
remarked : — 

I cogitate as I wend iny way along roads made most 
beautifully, but along which scarcely twenty people pass 
in the course of a day, so silent and lonely and unin- 
habited is this district when the Tourists have passed. 
... If it were not for newspapers, it would be difficult 
to beUeve there could be moral storms, earthcpiakes, 
among societies and peoples — the figure of iron and clay 
falling, crashing, and no form of order remaining, but 
all selfishness asserting itself — one class hiding, running 
away ; others displaying their natural instincts as savage 
predatories ; and all law and justice in abeyance. 

This is the result of a Government for the people, and 
not hy the people ; of centralisation and bureaucracy ; of 
a resolute resolve of every individual to live for himself, 
to ignore his share of the common burden of care and 
work for the public weal which belongs to every man ; 
that virtue of personal service which in one way the 
Prussian people are showing they can give to the Prus- 
sian state, and which the French, for love of ease, love 
of pleasure, love of money, have insisted shall be done 
for them by a strong Government. And we see the 

The unexpected happens in this year 1870, and there- 
fore Paris may escape a siege, and it may escape being 

186 LIFE OF J J'. H. SMITH. [.«t. 45. 

sacked by the reds, and the Eepublic may last for a time, 
hut the people will not learn, they will not change; and 
under whatever name — whether you call it republic, con- 
stitutional monarchy, or an Empire — they will still insist 
on being governed, not on governing themselves, and they 
will use material riches and power only for increasing 
mental demoralisation.^ 

These sentiments will perhaps strike the reader 
as having a good deal of insular bias, and as show^- 
ing some tendency to judge the national spirit of 
France by the moods and motives of the populace 
of Paris, and there is more interest in what fol- 
lows : — 

I am concerning myself about the election of the 
School Board for London, and if I hear favourable ac- 
counts from Armstrong,^ to whom I have written, I shall 
stand, and Lord Sandon with me, as candidates for AVest- 
minster. It is a bold thing to do, but I have two great 
objects in view — to show my earnest interest in educa- 
tion, and to endeavour to prove that popular election 
may result in the creation of a Board in London as 
strong in position, character, and fitness for its work as 
the House of Commons itself. Forster very strongly 
pressed me to engage in the work, and I like him, and 
like to work with him. 

The intention thus expressed Smith carried out 
successfully, being returned to the first school 

1 While these lines are being written, the papers are reporting 
the formation of the thirtieth French Ministry in twenty-three 

- Created Sir George Armstrong, Bart., in 1892. 


board for London — a body which fully justified by 
its composition the anticipation he had formed of 
the kind of men who would be attracted to it. 
With Lord Lawrence as chairman, the board pos- 
sessed among its members such men of note as 
Mr Charles Heed, M.P., Professor Huxley, Mr 
Hep worth Dixon, Mr M'Cullagh Torrens, M.P., 
the Rev. Dr Angus (Baptist), the Kev. Dr Rigg 
(Wesleyan), Viscount Sandon, M.P., and Mr 
Samuel Morley, M.P. 

The first act of the member for Westminster 
ill the deliberations of this newly constituted 
body was characteristic of the man. The ques- 
tion of religious education in board schools, which 
had distracted earnest people from one end of 
the country to the other, and had, it was fondly 
hoped, been laid to rest by the compromise agreed 
to in Committee on the Education Bill, was re- 
vived in an acute form in the narrower limits of 
the London School Board. It was Smith — the 
Smoother, the quiet, unpretentious reconciler of 
conflicting opinions — who framed a resolution 
providing an easy escape from this formidable 
difficulty. The purport of this resolution was the 
adoption of a by-law ordering that the Bible 
should be read, and instruction in relioious sub- 
jects given therefrom, in the board schools gen- 

188 LIFE OF IV. H. SMITH. [.-et. 45. 

erally, while those interested in particular schools 
might show cause for exemption from the w4iole 
or part of this by-law ; and in all schools it was 
to be understood that the spirit of the Act was to 
be observed, and no proselytism allowed. This 
proposal, though opposed by Professor Huxley 
and two other ardent secularists, was seconded 
by that distinguished Nonconformist, Mr Samuel 
Morley, and, being supported by Koman Catholic, 
Baptist, and Wesleyan members, was carried by 
38 votes to 3. 

Gratitude for relief thus afforded from what 
had promised to be a long and bitter controversy 
found free expression in newspapers of all shades 
of politics. One of those most strongly opposed 
to the party represented by Mr Smith had a 
leading article which is such a delicious example 
of the style dear to the English journalist in 
moments of expansion, that it certainly ought not 
to be allowed to pass into oblivion : — 

Post tenehras lux ! The motto, good at any time for 
such a body as the London School Board, is especially 
appropriate after the proceedings of yesterday. Mr W. 
H. Smith, that sturdy and singularly sweet-tempered axe- 
man, has hewed his way to the light through a tangled 
forest of what seemed iinconquerable difficulties, by dint 
of the sharp edge of common-sense, strongly hefted with 
broad human and Christian sympathy. The public knows 
but too well where the School Board left off on Monday. 


Every member felt that a crisis was at hand, on the issue 
of which depended the capacity of the body for useful 
work in all time coming. Deep darkness and the night 
seemed settling down upon the Board, doomed almost ere 
it left port to suffer disabling shipwreck on obstacles of 
its own creation. In a happy moment, Mr Smith pre- 
sented himself as the pilot to weather the storm. . . . 
But the old leaven of anti-denominationalism was allowed 
to work again after all virtue — for good or ill — seemed 
taken out of it ; and when the debate is resumed, under 
the auspices of Canon Cromwell, nobody can tell how far 
the vessel of the School Board may have drifted away 
from that welcome opening into blue water, wdiich Mr 
Smith signalised yesterday, amid the hearty approval both 
of his friends and of those who but a minute before had 
been his foes.^ 

It would be very hard to beat the agility 
with which this writer ski23S from metaphor to 
metaj)hor — presenting Mr Smith to his readers 
first as the "sturdy and singularly sweet-tem- 
pered axeman," and then as the pilot weather- 
ing the storm, passing from the unusual pheno- 
menon of a ship drifting upon " obstacles of 
its own creation " to the figure of the action 
of a sinister " leaven," working either in the 
"tangled forest," or in the ship, or in the sea, 
and thence once more to the restful prospect 
of the blue sea. 

Smith's work in the East End had convinced 

1 Daily Telegraph, 1st November 1871. 

190 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [mt. 46. 

him that the lot of many of the poor ^Yho 
swarmed in the slums of London could only be 
relieved by removing them to new lands, and 
this led him to take an active part in the affairs 
of the East End Emigration Club, in connection 
with the British and Colonial Emigration Society. 
On June 26, 1870, he went down to Gravesend 
to bid adieu to 1197 emigrants to Canada, pas- 
sengers in the Ganges and the Tweed. The 
expenses of about 250 of these were defrayed 
by himself; but his interest in them was not 
allowed to drop with their departure, for in 1872 
he visited Canada and devoted close inquiry to 
the resources of that country and the condition 
of the emisfrants there. 

It must alwavs be difficult to decide where 
legitimate opposition in Parliament ends and fac- 
tious obstruction begins. A good deal depends 
on the nature of the measures proposed by a 
Government — whether the resistance is directed 
against such as are genuinely obnoxious to a 
large party in the House, or whether dilatory 
tactics are pursued in discussing harmless pro- 
posals, in order to postpone progress with such 
as are regarded with greater aversion. If their 
proceedings during the session of 1871 be sub- 
mitted to this test, the Opposition must be 
acquitted of the charge of obstruction made 

A.D. 1871.] ARMY PURCHASE. 191 

against them ; for although debates were pro- 
longed almost beyond precedent, the subjects of 
them were two bills of a hio-hly controversial 
and novel character, against which, if opposition 
is justifiable at all, those who opposed them were 
justified in employing all the force permitted by 
the forms of the House. 

These two measures were the Armv Reo-ulation 
Bill, introduced bv the Secretarv of State for 
War (Mr Cardwell), and the Parliamentary and 
Municipal Elections Bill, introduced by Mr Forster. 
It was about the first of these measures that the 
hottest conflicts were joined, especially on the 
clauses providing for the Abolition of Purchase 
in the Army. They contained a bold proposal. 
Purchase in futui-e was to be illegal, but no 
officer who had entered by purchase was to suffer 
loss ; the public were to be called on to refund 
not onlv the regulation jDrices of their commis- 
sions, but whatever they had paid in excess of 
res'ulation, amountino- in all to 7h or 8h millions. 

To summarise the arguments of the Govern- 
ment and the Opposition in a single sentence 
from the speeches delivered on either side, that 
of Mr Goschen may be quoted when, in rej)lying 
to the toast of her Majesty's Ministers at the 
Lord Mayor's Banquet on Easter Monday, he 
said: "We have to buy back our army, which 

192 LIFE OF IV. H. SMITH. [^t. 45. 

belongs at this moment to the officers and not 
to the nation ; " whereas the Marquis of Salis- 
bury, in opposing the bill in the House of Lords, 
declared that " if purchase had been described as 
a system of seniority tempered by selection, the 
more correct formula of the proposed system was 
stagnation tempered by jobbery." 

This bill was before the House of Commons for 
four months : the rules of debate as thev then 
were afforded no means of brino-ino; interminable 
discussion to a close, till, in the second week in 
June, Mr Cardwell announced that the Govern- 
ment would only insist on the Purchase Clauses 
and the transfer of control of the Militia and 
Volunteers from the Lieutenants of counties to 
the Crown. When at last the bill, in this muti- 
lated condition, reached the Lords, it fell upon 
worse times. By 155 votes to 130 they refused 
to pass it. Then followed Mr Gladstone's couj) 
d'etat. On the second day after the division in 
the Lords, the Prime Minister informed the 
House of Commons that the Queen, acting on 
the advice of her Ministers, had signed a Poyal 
Warrant abolishing the purchase of commissions 
in the army. - 

The excitement caused by this announcement 
was intense. The Peers accepted a resolution 
proposed by the Duke of Richmond, censuring 

A.D. 1871.] MR LOWE'S BUDGET. 193 

the Government on account of " the interposition 
of the Executive during the progress of a measure 
submitted to Parliament by her Majesty's Gov- 
ernment, in order to attain by the exercise of the 
Prerogative, and without the aid of ParHament, 
the principal object included in that measure." 
Explanations were demanded in the Commons 
also, and to this day it is doubtful whether the 
Government were in their riohts in the action 
they had taken ; for the Attorney- General (Sir 
K. Collier) and the Solicitor-General (Sir J. Cole- 
ridge) diliered sharplv in the grounds on which 
they based their defence of what had been done. 
WhereupoQ up jumped Mr Harcourt from below 
the gangway,^ and, amid much laughter, in racing 
parlance asked the Prime Minister to say on which 
horse the Government declared to win — with 
Attorney-General on Statute or Solicitor-General 
on Prerogative. 

Probably the best justification for this high- 
handed proceeding is to be found in the consider- 
ation urged by the Prime Minister that, once the 
question had been raised, it was dangerous to 
the discipline of the army to keep it longer in 

IVIr Lowe's Budo;et brouoht the Administration 
into deep disgrace with the country. It is mem- 

^ Now the Right Hou. Sir William Vernon Harcourt. 
VOL. I. X 

194 LIFE OF ir. H. SMITH. [^t. 45. 

orable, if for nothing else, for the solemn perpe- 
tration of a pun by the Chancellor of the Ex- 
chequer, Casting about for some new and unob- 
jectionable source of revenue, his envious eyes 
fell on the match trade, which at that time 
annually produced and disposed of 560 million 
boxes of wooden matches and 46 million boxes of 
wax vestas and fusees in the United Kingdom. 
His proposal to impose a tax on matches was 
accompanied by the explanation that this was to 
be levied by affixing a stamp to each box, bearing 
the legend, JSx luce lucellwn — a little gain out 
of light ; but never did a proposed tax more 
quickh^ kindle opposition. The match - sellers 
were a feeble folk, it might have been thought ; 
but they proved to be extremely combustible, and 
produced a perfect conflagration of discontent. 
Processions of match -girls paraded the streets, the 
ill-starred pleasantry irritated the public, and, 
finally, the proposal was withdrawn, and an addi- 
tional 2d. on the Income -Tax substituted. The 
opposition to this was led by Mr Smith, but after 
a debate which lasted till two in the morning, his 
amendment was negatived by 335 to 250. In 
commenting on the debate and its result, the 
' Times,' which in those days always gave inde- 
pendent support to the existing Government, 
asserted that Smith's amendment was lost "not 


because the majority disapproved its principle, 
but because they wished to spare the Administra- 
tion. The merits of the last scheme of the Gov- 
ernment were never fairly discussed. It was 
tacitly, if not expressly, condemned by all. The 
balance of reason was on one side, but the force 
of sympathy was on the other, and the Ministry 
secured a vote, not by argument, but by favour." 
On May 5, on the motion for going into Com- 
mittee of Supply, Smith called attention to the 
operation of the Poor Law within the metrop- 
olis, and moved for the appointment of a Koyal 
Commission to inquire into the policy and admin- 
istration of the law. Now, of the many members 
who rise " to call attention," only a small fraction 
succeed in obtaining it, but Smith was one of that 
number on this occasion. His well-known connec- 
tion with practical philanthropy, combined with 
the alarming increase in the number of persons 
who were receiving relief from the rates, enabled 
him to make out a formidable case for inquiry, 
for he was able to show that, whereas in the 
preceding ten years of general prosperity the 
population of London had increased 16 per cent, 
pauperism had risen in the prodigious ratio of 
64 per cent. But he was unable to jjersuade the 
House to adopt his resolution, which, after a 
long and interesting discussion, was withdrawn. 

196 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [jet. 4G. 

Twenty -two years later, in the present year 
1893, the subject has been revived. A Royal 
Commission has been appointed to inquire into 
the administration of the Poor Law in Eng-land 
and Wales, and their labours have already 
brought to light how immensely the ratio of 
pauperism has been reduced by the consistency 
and discrimination in giving outdoor relief, the 
want of which formed the main burden of his 
complaint of the state of matters in 1871. 

The Parliamentary and Municipal Elections 
Bill, or, to use the better known title derived 
from its most important and debateable provision, 
the Ballot Bill, was . brought in early in the 
session, but, owdng to the prolonged proceedings 
on the Army Bill, it was not till late in June 
that progress could be made 'with it. Mr Glad- 
stone, who for thirty-five years had stoutly re- 
sisted the principle of secret voting, now per- 
formed on this question a complete change of 
front, and declared that the bill must pass 
before the session should be brought to a close. 
Midsummer Day had gone by, there was still a 
heavy proportion of the Votes in Supply to be got 
through, and the Tory Opposition was obstinate. 
Moreover, there stood on the Notice Paper up- 
I wards of 200 proposed amendments to the bill, 
half of them in names of supporters of the 


Government. Under these discouraofinof circum- 
stances Mr Gladstone resorted to the sagacious 
expedient of calhng his party into council in 
Downing Street, persuaded them to withdraw 
their amendments, and to agree to a policy — his 
opponents of course called it a conspiracy — of 
silence. This proved successful ; and although 
the Government suffered defeat at the hands of 
two of their own supporters, Mr Harcourt and 
Mr James, on the proposal to charge election 
expenses on the rates, they were able to send 
the bill up in time to be considered by the Lords, 
Here, however, it was destined to be thrown out 
by a majority of nearly two to one. 

This was the closing event of a session which 
had proved singularly damaging to ministers ; 
and although it is a well-known maxim of old 
parliamentary hands not to argue too much from 
by-elections, the significance of the result of those 
which took place during the autumn in the im- 
memorial Liberal strongholds of East Surrey and 
Plymouth could scarcely be overlooked. 

The Fenian agitation had been overcome, but 
the chronic restlessness of Irish discontent beg-an 
about this time to crystallise into a form all the 
more dangerous to the integrity of the empire 
because it assumed the P'uise of constitutional 
agitation. Home Rule for Ireland began for the 

198 LIFE OF IV. H. SMITH. [.et. 46. 

first time to be a source of concern to politicians, 
and the constituencies of Enoiand and Scotland 
heard with relief the following plain bold words 
spoken by Mr Gladstone at Aberdeen on the oc- 
casion of his receiving the freedom of that town. 

You would expect, when it is said that the Imperial 
Parliament is to be broken up, that at the very least a 
case should be made out showing there were great sub- 
jects of policy and great demands necessary for the welfare 
of Ireland which representatives of Ireland had united to 
ask, and which the representatives of England, Scotland, 
and Wales had united to refuse. There is no such griev- 
ance. There is nothing that Ireland has asked and which 
this country and England has refused. This country has 
done for Ireland what it would have scrupled to do for 
England and for Scotland. . . . What are the inequalities 
of England and Ireland ? I declare that I know none, 
except that there are certain taxes still remaining which 
are levied over Enfrlishmen and Scotchmen and which are 
not levied over Irishmen, and likewise that there are 
certain purposes for which public money is freely and 
largely given in Ireland and for which it is not gi^"en in 
Scotland. That seems to me to be a very feeble case, 
indeed, for the argument which has been made, by means 
of which, as we are told, the fabric of the united Parlia- 
ment of this country is to be broken up. But if the doc- 
trines of Home Pade are to be established in Ireland, I 
protest on your behalf that you will be just as well 
entitled to it in Scotland : and moreover I protest on 
behalf of Wales, in which I have lived a good deal, and 
where there are 800,000 people, who, to this day, such is 
their sentiment of nationality, speak hardly anything but 


their own Celtic tongue — a larger number than speak the 
Celtic tongue, I apprehend, in Scotland, and a larger 
number than speak it, I apprehend, in Ireland — I protest 
on behalf of "Wales that they are entitled to Home Eule 
there. Can any sensible man — can any rational man, sup- 
pose that at this time of day, in this condition of the 
world, we are going to disintegrate the great capital in- 
stitutions of this country for the purpose of making our- 
selves ridiculous in the sight of all mankind, and crippling 
any power we possess for bestowing benefits through legis- 
lation on the country to which we belong ? 

Such were the convincing phrases by which all 
susiDicion of Mr Gladstone's indulgence to these 
proposals was allayed — such the proclamation of 
resolute purpose to maintain the integrity of Par- 
liament and the realm, which it was the destiny 
of him who spoke them in later years to minimise, 
explain away, and retract. 

Greatly as the pressure on Smith's time, 
thoughts, and bodily strength had been increased 
by the growing share he was taking in public 
affairs, there may be traced in his correspondence 
and private notes the same earnest anxiety about 
the spiritual life Avhicli always pervaded his 
thouijhts and controlled his action. Thus, at the 
close of this year, on Advent Sunday, he wrote in 
his journal :— 

A new Christian year — an attempt to look at my own 
daily life more narrowly, to try and examine motives as 

200 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [^t. 46. 

well as actions. Mr Robiuson of St John's [Torquay], 
preaching of the story of Uzziah, referred to the dangers 
of prosperity, of selfishness. Uzziah prospered, although 
called to the throne when the kingdom of Judah was in 
utter defeat, because he trusted in God : and he became a 
leper because he defied his laws. A lesson for nations 
and for individuals, to be read in the history of the Jews, 
in the history of our ow^n times, and borne out by my own 

God, give me to think of them more, of Thy love to 
me, and of my duty ; and help me to pray always with 







Ministers were able to lay before Parliament on 
February 6, 1872, a Queen's Speech which con- 
pfratulated her faithful Commons on the relative 
freedom from crime in Ireland, and the remark- 
able prosperity of agriculture in that country. 
The Government were unpopular in the country, 
but had been protected from sinister consequences 
by the indifference to politics which invariably 
springs from extraordinary jorosperity. The con- 
sequences of the financial disasters of 1866 had 
wellnigh passed away, the anxiety of the for- 
midable troubles in France had been relieved, and 
the country had entered on that cycle of pros- 
perity, the knell of which was not to be sounded 
till, six years later, the City of Glasgow Bank 
fell with dismal crash. 

202 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [jet. 46. 

But the opening incident of the session was 
as inauspicious to the Administration as the close 
of the last had been. In defendino- themselves 
against a Vote of Censure for the appointment, 
contrary to statute, of their late Attorney-Gen- 
eral, Sir Robert Collier, to a seat on the Judicial 
Committee, Ministers, with a normal or nominal 
majority of more than 100, were only able to 
show one of 27. 

In a second Yote of Censure, moved by one of 
their own supporters, Mr Dixon, on account of 
the operation of the 25th section of the Elemen- 
tary Education Act, they were more fortunate, 
being able to command the support of many Con- 
servatives, among whom was Mr W. H. Smith, 
who spoke in deprecation of premature interfer- 
ence with the Act. 

The Ballot Bill was once more introduced by 
Mr Forster, and probably there never was a Ijill 
secretly more detested by the House of Commons 
than this one. Contrary as it was to all national 
custom and parliamentary tradition, men felt 
ashamed of compelling their fellow-countrymen 
yto accept the protection of secrecy in exercising 
a right which had always been used with the 
utmost openness. The measure had an un-Brit- 
ish, almost cowardly complexion, and obviously 
the fair corollary to it — namely, secret voting by 


members of Parliament In the division lobbies — 
was one that could never be claimed. Neverthe- 
less the Op230sition seem to have been afraid to 
resist it lest the franchise might, in the general 
election which seemed not far distant, be used 
under cover of the ballot against the party which 
should seek to deny this protection to electors. 
Hence, in spite of the fact that such well-known 
Liberals as Mr Walter and Mr Fawcett denounced 
the system of secret voting, the debate on the 
Second Reading was half-hearted, and the divi- 
sion, taken in a listless and half-filled House, 
showed in favour of the bill by 109 votes to 51. 
Smith, who, as has been shown by his declara- 
tions to the electors of Westminister, detested 
the ballot, did not vote. But when the bill, 
after a stormy passage through Committee, was 
put down for Third Reading, the Opposition 
plucked up heart and fought hard against it. 
The division showed a majority of 58 in favour 
of the bill, which was framed to expire in 1880, 
since which time it has been necessary to renew 
it annually by including it in the Expiring Laws 
Continuance Bill, which is passed at the end of 
every session. 

The rest of the session of 1872 was occupied 
principally in discussing Mr Cardwell's scheme 
for the Localisation of the Army and the Ele- 

204 LIFE OF IF. H. SMITH. [jet. 46. 

mentary Education Bill for Scotland, in neither 
of which measures was it likely that Smith would 
take an interested part. Nor did he vote on 
Mr Jacob Bright's motion in favour of Women 
Suffrage, though it was supported by a good 
many Conservatives, such as Mr Hunt, Sir 
Stafford Northcote, Sir Charles Adderley,^ &c. 

One subject, however, in connection with which 
Smith had taken an active part, that of the 
Thames Embankment, on the management of 
which he had beaten the Government in 1870, 
came up in an altered form this year. No action 
had been taken in consequence of the Besolution 
of the House when Parliament reassembled in 
1871, so Smith gave notice that he intended to 
move that " it was desirable that the ground 
reclaimed from the Thames between Whitehall 
Gardens and Whitehall Place should be devoted 
to the purposes of public recreation and amuse- 
ment." The experience of the previous session 
made the Government aware that thev could not 
successfully oppose this resolution ; a repetition 
of defeat was a foregone conclusion, so before the 
day for its discussion came on, the Prime Minister 
took the course of referring the question to the 
consideration of a Select Committee, That body 
reported in favour of the disposal of the ground 

^ Created Lord Norton in 1878. 


in the manner advocated by Smith and indicated 
by the vote of the House, but still the winter of 
1871-72 passed without any action being taken 
to carrv the plan into effect. Indeed so tena- 
ciously did the Treasury adhere to the principles 
which should reo-ulate the administration of Crown 
property, that a new Committee was appointed 
in 1872 at the instance of the Government, which 
reversed the decision of the former Committee, 
and recommended the appropriation of nearly all 
the space in dispute for the erection of public 
buildings. Thereupon the Chancellor of the 
Exchequer prepared and brought in a bill to 
give effect to this recommendation, but the only 
result was that Ministers suffered another defeat, 
this time on the motion of Mr Harcourt, who 
carried a resolution against them to the effect 
that it was not desirable to proceed further in 
the matter that year.^ 

^ The settlement of this matter did not come till 187.3. Smith 
did not allow it to rest until the Commissioners of Woods and 
Forests agreed practically to his proposal, by offering to hand over 
to the Metropolitan Board of Works almost the whole of the 
ground for a payment of £3270, an arrangement which was con- 
firmed by Parliament and carried out. In May 1875 the new 
ornamental grounds, thus redeemed from being built over, having 
been completed, were formally declared open by Mr Smith, who 
had by that time become Secretary to the Treasury ; and it is un- 
doubtedly to his exertions that Londoners owe the enjoyment of a 
pretty piece of public garden. The seats therein were the gift of 
Mr Smith, and it is only necessary to walk there on a summer 
evening to see how much they are apjareciated. 

206 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [^t. 47. 

Having undertaken legislative responsibility, 
Smith was conscientiously anxious to fit himself 
for his duties by every means of acquiring know- 
ledge of the effect of different forms of govern- 
ment and conditions of society. To this end it 
was natural that he should have early directed 
his thoughts to the great American Republic and 
the British American colonies. But the necessity 
for a separation from wife and children, even for 
a few months only, weighed heavily on his mind ; 
his thoucrhts centred in his home, and the only 
reward he sought for his labours was to escape 
thither as often and for as long as might be. Cir- 
cumstances made it inconvenient for Mrs Smith 
to accompany him, but he held it to be his duty 
to visit Canada and the United States, and he 
sailed in the 'Moravian' on August 15. Dur- 
ing his absence his letters to his wife form a 
consecutive journal ; and although many of the 
details contained in them are far too minute to 
be of general interest in these days, when 
travelling is so easy and so frequent, some of 
the sketches in this simple narrative are worthy 
of preservation, were it only that 

" Hence th' unlearned their wants may Adew, 
The learned reflect on what before they knew." 

Wednesday, August 1^. — Brougham to the train, and 
coachman drove so slowly that anxiety lest I should lose 

A.D. 1872.] AMERICAN JOURNAL. 207 

it almost drove out of my head and heart the pain of 

At the station I was fortunate enough to get into the 
same carriage with my future fellow - passengers, the 
Paissell Gurneys, and it was a comfort to find them almost 
as sad at leaving as I was. On the way down Mrs 
Gurney tried to induce her husband to say he would be 
home again by Easter, but he talked of May ! . . . 

August 16. — What a change a few hours had made ! 
Last night — almost a calm ; this morning — flying scud, 
wet decks, and sad sounds below. We have been coasting- 
Ireland since daybreak, and have just (9 a.m.) passed the 
Giant's Causeway, running for Moville, in Lough Foyle. 

17th. — A dirty night for our first at sea. The Irish 
Channel was hardly worth the name of sea, and it blows 
hard this morning. We are well away from land, and 
out in the Atlantic. . . . Quiet prevails, with interjected 
sighs — almost groans. Food — dry toast and tea. 

ISth. — Very much the same. A serious tone prevails, 
and we speak respectfully of the Atlantic. Very few 
passengers visible. Food — still tea and toast. Have come 
to the belief that we are all in the habit of eating a great 
deal too much, and that so many meals on board ship are 
quite unnecessary, !Night — roll, roll. . . . Children cry, 
and their mothers can't attend to tliem, and we have a 
lively night. An old lady in the cabin has a silver bell, 
which she is constantly ringing to assure the stewardess 
that she hears the water bubbling about the ship, and she 
is sure it is sinking. We are all grave, and most of us 
selfish. Captain read service in cabin ; could not venture 
down. . . . 

20th. — Fine. Ship steady. Turn up at breakfast for 
the first time. A shoal of porpoises, which seem to race 
with the ship for some time. Music on deck at night. 

208 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [^t. 47. 

No sail in sight all day. Wind gets up towards evening. 
Eain comes with it. I turn in early, but no sleep in 
the ship to-night. Uoll, roll, roll ; crash, smash, bang go 
china, plates, glasses, doors — everything that can move. 
The old lady's bell rings constantly, and the Captain 
keeps to the bridge on deck. In the morning our party 
is smaller at breakfast than usual, and we have to hold 
our cups in our hands and seesaw them as we drink. 

Mrs MacNabb, who has crossed many times, and has 
been wrecked once, begins to tell her story over again, 
and wonders whether last night's Aurora forebode storms. 
No ship in sight to-day — no life but sea-birds. 

21st. — Old lady very troublesome ; has heard there 
is iron in the ship as cargo, and is quite sure it is 
rolling about underneath her, and that the ship will go 
down. Fore-cabin passengers and emigrants very miser- 
able ; all wet, and many sick. We went — i.e., Mr and 
Mrs Gurney and I — after dinner to the middle deck with 
fruit for the poor children. . . . 

'25th. — Sunday morning, and as bright and beauti- 
ful as a Sunday should be. The breeze fresh ahead ; the 
ship moving a little, but running well ; every one thank- 
ful, and in good spirits. We speedily ran past Anticosti — 
an island of bears, 120 miles long — and sighted the opposite 
Canadian shore — the promontory of Gaspe, where the St 
Lawrence may be said to commence, and from this time 
we shall be within four or five miles off shore all the way 
to Quebec. 

The shore here for miles is rocky, covered with low 
timber, and dotted here and there with little fishermen's 
huts, which look like tents at a distance, but are really 
wooden buildings covered with whitewash. . . . Old Ca23- 
tain said that he liked the Old Hundredth psalm, because 
it always seemed to him that it went straight up to the 

A.D. 1872.] AMERICAN JOURNAL. 209 

masthead — a very simple description, but a very touching 
one, of his own honest but unaffected devotion ; and many 
of us felt the mysterious sympathy which links together 
those who are using the same beautiful words and forms, 
however widely they may be separated from those they 
love. These words meet up higher, somewhere higher than 
the masthead — and they go straight up there. 

^6tli. — ... I have not heard the old lady's bell for 
three days, but there is a charming old maid and her 
canary, who are going together to California, who have 
been very amusing. They came to church together yester- 
day, and wherever she goes, he goes. 

On the 27th they landed at Quebec, and, din- 
ing that night with the Governor-General, the 
Earl of DufFerin, Smith made the acquaintance 
of his host's private secretary, Mr Jacob Luard 
Pattisson, a gentleman who in after-years was to 
render him invaluable and devoted service. 

Leaving Quebec on 30th, Smith went to Mon- 
treal, and here is one of his earliest experiences 
there : — 

Sunday, Sept. 1. — I wanted a bath early, so I told the 
chamber-maid last night, and she promised to speak to the 
man. No women attend upon men in their bedrooms in 
Canada, but they look after their rooms when they are 
out of them. At 7 I rang : boy answered. " I want a 
bath." " Oh, do you ? Very well," and went away : at 
20 minutes past no bath. I rang again. An old man 
came this time. I said, " I ordered a bath a long time 
ago, and it has not come yet." " Did you ? How long ? " 
" More than half an hour," " Oh, I don't call half an hour 

VOL. I. O 

210 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [.et. 47. 

a long time." " Don't you ? " said I ; " then we do in our 
countiy." " All, but it is Sunday morning, you know." 
" Well, never mind, bring the water and the towels." 
" You can't have any towels. The chamber-maid keeps 
them, and she has gone to breakfast." 

Is not this a free country ? 

... I have spent a very quiet afternoon in my room, 
making use of the church-service so long used by my dear 
love. . . . 

2nd. — ... I have told you already of the Lachine 
rapids, which we shot this morning, and I will now 
finish the day. As soon as I had posted my letter 
for England, Mr G. Stephen ^ called with his carriage to 
take us a drive round the town, which proved to be more 
handsome than I had supposed. Private houses with 
gardens, which sell for £15,000 and more, and large public 
buildings all built of stone, some of it brought from 
Caen in France, and other from Peterhead in Scotland. 
We visited the cemetery on the mountain. Like that at 
Quebec, it is very large, and a very large part of it remains 
in a condition of wild or natural wood, which gives a 
sense of rest and even solitude to the little 2[reen settle- 
ments interspersed among the trees. A great proportion 
of the names on the monuments are Scotch, who are very 
successful in Canada. On our way down we had a view of 
the St Lawrence, the Eapids, the mountains of Vermont, 
and the country between. It was difficult to believe we 
were not at home, so home-like was the view, except for 
the magnitude of the river. . . . 

I am learning a great deal, seeing very much that is 
interesting, and making the acquaintance of every man of 
note almost in Canada ; but with all this qualified enjoy- 

^ Created Baron Mount-Stephen in 1891. 

A.D. 1872.] AMERICAN JOURNAL. 211 

nient and sense of acquisition, I am looking forward so 
gladly and so hopefully to the bright November day of 
my return. ... At present my watcli is five hours behind 
London time, so that writing now at 12 it is 5 p.m. with 
you, and I often imagine to myself your engagements at 
the actual moment I am looking at the time. . . . 

Descriptions of the Falls of Niagara can 
scarcely contribute anything at this time of 
clay to the imj^ressions of those who have not 
visited them : nevertheless the following sen- 
tences convey so distinctly the effect of the 
great cascade upon one witnessing it for the 
first time, that they are, perhaps, worth pre- 
serving : — 

Sept. Jf,. — . . . We went to Government Island, coming 
through the trees by a most natural and pretty path to 
steps which led down to the edge of the American Fall. 
I will not attempt to describe it ; but no disappointment 
is possible to any one who can admire Nature in her 
grandest and also most lovely forms. The mass of water 
is absolutely astounding, and it seems almost impossible 
it can go on with such a volume and force for ever. And 
the colours are marvellous, owing to the very different 
ways in which the light falls upon the falling water and 
spray. It appears to the eye to be divided into sections 
— one part rolling over the top smoothly in deep emerald 
green, Ijroken as it falls way down by streaks of white 
foam, and in other parts by millions of w^atery diamonds 
glistening in the sun. Then there is a white section of 
water, — a dead white like snow in shade, as it is itself in 
shade, a section in which the white appears tinged with 

212 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [.et. 47. 

violet, and yet another where it takes a brownish or 
earthy hue. No one, I fancy, ever sees the bottom of 
the fall ; for the mass of water crashing against water 
and rock pulverises itself and creates a cloud which is 
constantly rising by the force of the draught created by 
the fall, but as constantly renewed. At a distance it 
looks like the smoke of an enormous cauldron, steam 
from the boiling waters below ; Init on coming up to it 
you find it to be the minutest particles of water floating 
in the air, lighter than a Scotch mist, and as it floats 
away in the wind it adds a fresh grace and beauty to the 
scene, as the thinnest and most graceful of veils, through 
which to catch glimpses of beauty and colour beyond, or 
as affording material for the iris or rainbow lying down 
as it were on the water, which may always be seen if the 
sun is shining. . . . 

I have never seen anything approaching these Falls for 
grandeur as well as for beauty, for every variety of light 
and shade, for every effect which they give in colour upon 
water. At one moment there is a sense of awe, of fear. 
The flow is so irresistible and tremendous. It is too 
much to look at, as the gleams . of light catch the 
edges of the water, and they sparkle like the diamonds in 
a fairy palace, and there at the bottom, eddying slowly 
a,way, lies the water, looking exhausted and almost dead 
after its mighty leap. It is worth the journey to America 
and back to see the Falls alone. . . . 

5th. — . . . After dinner we were taking another 
stroll on Goat Island, and we encountered the lady fellow- 
passenger of the Moravian, who had the canary - bird 
which had always gone with her wherever she went for 
9 years, and which came to church in the cabin on the 
Sunday. She gave us the gratifying news that the bird 
was well so far. . . . 

A.D. 1872.] AMERICAN JOURNAL. 213 

Gth. — ... As soon as I had finished my last letter, I 
started out for another look at the Falls, to which one is 
drawn by an irresistible fascination. It had rained heavily 
during the night, but the clouds cleared away by 10 A.M., 
with a still air, steamy and hot, and a very scorching sun, 
giving quite another effect to the Falls, all glistening in 
the heat and light, with the cloud of steam or spray like 
a golden veil suspended in front of them. 

At mid-day off in the train to Hamilton city, en route 
for Toronto. . . . 

7th. — . . . There I met a gentleman who reminded 
me he had sat next to me at Drapers' Hall two years ago, 
and told me what I had said to him. He took me up to 
Professor Goldwin Smith and introduced me to him, and 
we had a long talk about the politics of Canada and the 
United States. The Professor says Canada enjoys a per- 
fect constitution, complete liberty, and there is only the 
drawback of corruption, which exists more or less every- 
where. . . . 

Sth. — ... I accepted an invitation to dine quietly 
with ]\Ir Gzowski,! a Polish gentleman who has become a 
very rich and influential man here. It was an hour's 
walk from the hotel. He told me the story of his life. 
He was a student in a University, joined in the insurrec- 
tion, and was taken and banished for life ; sent out to 
America in charge of the police. Arrived here, he remem- 
bered that the Governor-General's name was that of an 
officer who had been taken sick and was nursed in the 
house of- his father, who had been Governor of St Peters- 
burg. He introduced himself, was kindly received, work 
was found for him, and he is now one of the most pros- 
perous men in Canada. He has a beautiful place, a 

1 Created Sir Casimir Gzowski, K.C.M.G., in 1890. 

214 LIFE OF jr. H. SMITH. [.et. 47. 

large library in all languages, very many pictures, and, 
being married to an English lady, is more English in his 
habits than many Canadians. We are, I think, friends 
for life. 

Monday, Sept. 9. — Visited the great Normal Schools 
here, where masters and mistresses are educated and 
trained. A Dr Eyerson is at the head of the institution 
and of education in Western Canada. He knew Mr 
Reece and my sister Caroline very well. To educate the 
masters and mistresses he has procured copies of many 
of the best pictures, sculptures, busts of great men, and 
engra^'ings of the old world. He is a talkative, old 
gentleman now, very kind, very attentive, but difficult 
to escape from. . . . 

To luncheon by invitation with the Board of Trade, an 
association of merchants. There I was formally introduced 
as Mr W. H. Smith, M.P. for AYestminster, England, and 
I had to sit down at 2 p.m. to eat and to drink, and to hear 
and to make speeches. Everybody very kind, very demon- 
strative, and very anxious to show that Canadians and 
Englishmen are one and the same people. In the evening 
I had to attend another dinner at the Club, given by a Mr 
Gordon and a Mr Sheddin in honour of the Directors of 
the Grand Trunk Eailway and of myself. More cham- 
pagne and more speeches — and more heat, for it is very 
hot and muggy here. . . . 

I think I am learning a great' deal, and taking in 
much ; but really it is harder work than any one would 
suppose to look about one with the intention of retaining 
recollection of things — to ask questions and to receive 
the amount of information which everybody is disposed 
and glad to give. I am really quite lazily disposed some- 
times at the end of the day, especially as we are now 
having great heat again. 

A.D. 1872.] AMERICAN JOURNAL. 215 

lOtli. — Started at 7 for a trip over the JSTorthern Rail- 
way, ill which I am interested. . . . 

I travelled over 130 miles of country outwards. The 
station-houses were neat and pretty, with nice gardens 
attached to them, and part of the country was smiling and 
fertile and beautiful ; but for many miles we went through 
forest which had caught fire and been burnt, everything 
having been destroyed — fences, farm-buildings inter- 
spersed here and there in the woods, and the stations 
themselves. I have never seen such desolation, stumps 
of blackened trees, some trees standino; with all the 
leaves off, but the timber of which was too sreen to burn 
thoroughly, some burnt to half-way up, blackened and 
charred timber lying all round, and this extending as far 
as the eye could see. "We touched at several lakes on 
our way. Lake Simcoe, Lake Huron, and, on our return, 
another portion of Simcoe and Lake Couchiching, where 
the railway is penetrating through the backwoods into the 

I saw in the distance two or three miles off an Indian 
settlement on the shores of this lake, which is a lovely 
one. The silence and comparative absence of man and 
the presence of the railway are strange contrasts, and in 
these wilds are to be found educated men from the old 
country, their children enjoying a free life, running about 
now in summer barefooted, but well clothed and fed, and 
schools set up for them as soon as there is a sufficient 
number to send. Common labourers get 6/6 a-day here, 
with food cheap. 

The names of towns and stations are pretty and full of 
old recollections; Eichmond Hill, Davenport, Bradford, 
Allandale, and others like them. We got back at 11 p.m. 
after a very pleasant day, and having seen a great deal of 
the country and of the people, but it was tiring work. 

216 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [.et. 47. 

Wednesday, Sept. 11. — Another warm day. It was a 
golden mist in the morning, and was very thick over the 
lake. . . . Another luncheon was to be ate to-day in 
public ! Champagne flowed freely. The M.P. for Algoma 
proposed the health of the M.P. for Westminster, and 
the M.P. for Westminster had to propose prosperity to 
Toronto, &c., &c. . . . 

A good hard road is quite a rarity in Canada, and ap- 
pears to be deemed a superfluous luxury. The footways are 
always planks, and planks are laid across at intervals to 
enable people to get from one side to the other, and car- 
riag'es drive over these obstructions as if they were of no 
consequence at all, passengers inside going up in the air 
like corks, and coming down on their seats quite uncon- 
cerned, and as a matter of course. At 7.30 dined at 
Chief-Justice Haggerty's, an Irishman who came out at 
17 to Canada to push his fortune, a very genial and plea- 
sant fellow. I met Dr MacDonald again and many of 
the principal people in the city. 

Toronto is a curious place. Seventy years ago it was 
bush, now it has 70,000 inhabitants, but it extends over 
space large enough for 20 times that population. The 
hotel in which I stop is in the centre of the city, near the 
wharf where the steamers land, and the railway stations ; 
but it must have two or three acres of land round it, and 
except in about two or three streets it is very common to 
find open spaces lying quite waste between houses which 
are all numbered consecutively. A great church or a 
public building stands alone away from everything, and 
it is quite difficult to believe there is really a large popu- 
lation close by. They are all out of sight. 

12tli. — Took passage by the Athenian steamer on Lake 
Ontario for Kingston. We were to start at 2 p.m., 
and reach Kins;ston at 5.30 next morning. After I had 

A.D. 1872.] AMERICAN JOURNAL. 217 

secured my berth I overheard a gentleman cahnly dis- 
cussing with another how long the boat would last, — 
" her back was certainly broken," — and she did sink un- 
pleasantly amid-ships ; but, he added, if there was no 
storm she would run out the season, and if there was a 
storm, why, there were harbours to run into every few 
miles, and life-buoys on board. . . . We drove (Dr Mac- 
Donald and I) after breakfast to Dr Dobbs's house — an 
Irish-English clergyman, a relative of MacDonald's. He 
received us very cordially and took us to the Lunatic 
Asylum. . . . After a sliort stay we went on to the Peni- 
tentiary, wdiere all the prisoners are obliged to work at 
some trade. I was very much pleased with the discipline 
and system. . . . 

What I am seeing here impresses me with a sense of 
the great changes which are coming over society. Every 
man, woman, and child can earn here much more than is 
necessary for food, lodging, and clothing, if they have fair 
health. The commonest labourer will set 6 and 7 
shillings a-day, and food is cheaper than it is in England. 
The country appears healthy, but in one little town I 
visited in the backwoods on Tuesday there were four 
doctors, all of whom appeared to be living very com- 
fortably. ... If it were not for the different kind of 
houses they have, the distances between them, the very 
bad roads, some not paved or stoned at all, but simply the 
sand and earth which has existed since the flood — one 
would sometimes imagine oneself at home. The people 
are very " English," live a family life, conduct their re- 
ligious services exactly as we do, dress as we do, and with 
one or two additions to the course, they eat and drink as 
we do, I am sure you would like them. 

Saturday, Sept. I4.. — Walked out to look round Ottawa 
city. It stands very prettily half-surrounded by a noble 

218 LIFE OF jr. H. SMITH. [.et. 47. 

river, from which in one part the ground rises abruptly. 
On the top of this hill, looking down on the water and 
over it to the wooded country beyond, are the Parliament- 
house and the public offices for the Dominion of Canada. 
They are worthy of the great country in which they stand. 
Sir Francis Hincks, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, 
took me round and showed me everything, most kindly 
devotincf himself to me for some hours. In the afternoon 
he drove out with nie to see two large saw-mills, where 
many saws worked by water-power, each saw having 
eight rows of teeth, and therefore cutting eight planks 
at a time, were at work. It was marvellous to see how 
rapidly great trees were devoured by these monsters 
and disappeared. The logs are cut in the woods 300 
miles back, and floated down the stream to Ottawa and 
other mills. The men who cut them down spend the 
whole winter in the woods, going up in September and 
not coming down again until April or ]\Iay, being away 
from wife, children, and friends tlie whole time ; but they 
seem to like the life, and say it is healthy. 

In the evening Sir F. Hincks gave a dinner in my 
honour, and I had the good fortune to meet the Prime 
Minister, Sir John IMacdonald, the Bishop, and many other 
celebrities. . . . Eecollection and anticipation, what 
pleasures they give vis ! 

Mondaij, Sept. 16. — Started at 7 A.]\r. by steamer for 
Montreal. The banks of the river are very prettily 
wooded, and there are plenty of wild-fowl about ; but the 
most curious feature at this season on the Ottawa river 
is the rafts coming down from the interior. If they are 
fortunate it takes them 2| months from the time they 
start before they arrive at Quebec, and the distances 
traversed by mighty rivers in America can be realised 
when it is considered that these rafts go floating on night 

A.D. 1872.] AMERICAN JOURNAL. 219 

and day with the stream for all this long time. The 
people live on them in little wooden houses, and they 
have generally a flag hoisted. . . . 

At St Ann's encountered the famous rapids which gave 
birth to the Canadian hoat-song. A fine morning changed 
into rain here, and I could only console myself by talking 
to backwoodsmen about their hard but healthy life. 

We noticed that at the point where the Ottawa Hows 
into the St LawTeuce the waters do not mix but flow on 
side by side, the Ottawa dark brown, the St Lawrence 
briQ;ht "reen. Arrived at Montreal at 6.30 p.m. 

Tuesday, Sept. 17. — Went to 382 St Antoine to find 
Lyndon Smith. . . . Eeturned and called on the President 
of the jNIontreal Bank ; found him in a state of excitement 
about a corner in gold at Xew York. Had to find out 
what a " corner " meant, and at last ascertained that some 
speculators had got hold of all the gold they could lay 
their hands on, and that is called a " corner " in gold. . . . 
Started at 3 p.m. for Boston. 

Thursday, Sept. 19. — Mr P., superintendent of schools, 
called for me at 8.30 to take me the round of the schools. 
I saw one opened at 9, of 700 boys, by simply reading a 
chapter and repeating the Lord's Prayer. The boys 
were of all ranks — some gentlemen's sons, some with- 
out shoes or stockings — and yet the discipline appeared 
to be most perfect. The head -master, one assistant, 
and sometimes two, are men. All the other teachers 
are women, and they appear to be really accomplished 
ladies, some of them quite young and good-looking. 
I visited two of the large schools. ... I also visited 
numerous libraries, Athenaeums, societies, and wound up 
with a careful look into the Boston system of gi^ing relief 
to the poor. 

I have been going about seeing everything I can in the 

220 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [^t. 47. 

shape of schools, charities, and public buildings, until my 
eyes ache, and both my ears and my tongue are tired. . . . 
There is much to learn, to see, to appreciate, and I may 
never have another chance, and so I want to absorb all 
I can. 

Friday, Sept. W. — Schools again, this time in very poor 
smelly quarters, but the children for the most part come 
regularly. To the High School for girls. It almost took 
my breath away to see girls from 15 to 19, some hundreds 
of them, studying at work which w^as beyond me. Some 
of them looked wan and dragged. Xone looked fresh, 
like healthy English girls, and as I was asked to say a 
few words, I told them English girls lived more in the 
open air than they did, and I hinted pretty broadly that 
I thought they would be the better for more fresh air and 
exercise, and a little less work. It was confessed that 
the effect of this hioh training was to overstock the 

o o 

market for teachers. ... 

Eew YorJc, Sejjt. 22. — At 2 Dr Smith came to take me 
to see some missionary work going on in the city — like 
Eield Lane in London. There was a large building in 
which ragged and destitute boys and girls are received, 
lodged, and fed, and then taught ; and I listened to the 
superintendent's lecture to the children. This was called 
the Seven Points Industrial School, 

He then took me on to another chapel and school in a 
destitute part of the city, and here a young lawyer was 
teaching, or preaching a real children's sermon. 

There are three missions, each distinct from each other, 
with separate staff of clergymen, school-teachers, and 
Bible-women, maintained by this one church of Dr Smith's 
at a cost of nearly £13,000 sterling a-year. 

The record of one clay is very much like that 

A.D. 1872.] AMERICAN JOURNAL. 221 

of another : this was no mere pleasure trip, but 
hard work from morning to night — schools, 
colleges, prisons, workmen's dwellings, charities, 
churches, banks, commercial houses, interviews 
with public men and merchants, took up all 
the time. 

From New York Smith went to Albany, thence 
returned to Toronto, Niagara, and started on 
September 27 for the far West. He arrived at 
Chicago on Sunday 29th, and noted that it was 

the place that has had the biggest fire that ever was 
known. It burnt an area covered with houses 5 miles 
long by 3 wide. 

. . . The landlord of the hotel in which I stay had his 
house burnt, and while the fire still raged he calculated 
from the course it was taking that another large hotel 
would not be burnt. He went to the owner, and then and 
there bought it. No doubt he parted with it beheving 
it would be burnt, but the fire stopped the next day on 
the other side of the street, where some houses had been 
blown up by gunpowder, and this is the house in which I 
am staying. When the fire was out the seller wanted to 
get off the bargain, but my landlord insisted on it, and 
gained the point. There are 16 huge hotels now building 
in the city, which will lodge 7000 people. 

All wooden houses are to be moved beyond what are 
called the fire -limits of the city, and I saw one going 
down the street to-day on rollers to its new location. 

It would be quite impossible in England, and would 
have been taken down to be rebuilt, but it is a busmess 
here to move houses as we move furniture. I visited the 

222 LIFE OF TV. H. SMITH. [.et. 47. 

water-works, which were burnt, but at work again in a 
week. Fancy a city with the gas and water works all 
burnt in one night ! 

More corn and more pigs than in any other place I 
have ever seen ; l)ut I did not see one child at play, or 
one face without marks of care, anxiety, and excite- 
ment — the police only excepted, and they took life 

Tuesday, Oct. 1. — Called on j\Ir Pullman again, and 
was presented with letters giving me command of his 
cars on the railways going West, and secure provision 
for comfortable sleeping-berths on the road. Started at 
10 A.M. for Omaha; made acquaintance with Mr Thomp- 
son, an American gentleman, in the next section of the 
carriage, who was going through, and had been in Cali- 
fornia before. Our route lay through the State of Illinois, 
which was covered with crops of Indian corn, not yet 
harvested. The soil very deep and rich, but as full of 
ague and fever as of corn. We dined in the hotel-car, the 
dinner being cooked by coloured men in the car as we 
travelled. Burlington was the first large town, made 
within the last 10 years, and to reach it we crossed the 
Mississippi on an iron bridge f mile long. I stood on 
the platform of the car, and looked down on the great 
river rolling below me. There is no guard or hand-rail to 
these bridges, and although it was quite imaginary, there 
was an appearance of danger in passing over without any 
such protection. ... 

We now went to bed, to wake up in the morning in the 
same rich prairie country, thinly settled, but bearing great 
crops, and capable of bearing much greater. 

Wednesday, Oct. H. — In the morning I found the hotel- 
car " Westminster " was attached to our train, and so I 
had the pleasure of breakfasting in Westminster before I 

A.D. 1872.] AMEIUGAN JOURNAL. 223 

crossed the Missouri on another fine iron bricke, which 
was only completed this year, to Omaha in the State of 
Nebraska. Here we changed into the Union Pacific Com- 
pany carriages, in which w^e were to pass three days and 
two nights. 

There was another Mr Smith in the train, going to New 
Zealand through San Francisco, and as the conductor was 
charged to be specially careful of Mr Smith, he wished to 
know which of us it was who could not take care of him- 
self. I rejoiced in avowing my weakness ' . . . Our pace 
from Omaha was not creat, averaging less than 20 miles 
an hour, including stoppages. 

Thursday, Oct. 3. — AVe woke up on the borders of the 
desert to a most lovely sunrise. Every hue that can be 
imagined in the sky, and the earth in the dim light, as like 
the sea in a calm as can well be imagined. 

There were many antelopes in sight ; some stood still 
and looked at the train, having got used to it. Others in 
large herds galloped away more gracefully and at greater 
speed than deer. Flights of wild-duck were common, and 
towards mid -day we came on villages of prairie-dogs, 
which are of a dust colour, and sit upon the mounds 
over their holes barking as we pass. There were some 
hundreds of these mounds within the space of three or 
four miles. Settlers were no longer visible. Here and 
there the railway had a station for water or coal, and 
there was of course a drinkino;-" saloon," made of loijs 
covered with canvas or shingle, and letting in plenty of air. 
Towards the afternoon we came in sight of the Eocky 
Mountains, and the scenery became interesting. It was 
hardly beautiful, as there were no trees ; but the rocks 
were very water -and -wind -worn, rugged, and cut into 
fantastic shapes. ... At evening a few stunted pines 
reappeared, and there were stones which, placed one over 

224 LIFE OF TF. H. SMITH. [mt. 47. 

the other, the larger over the smaller, looked as if they 
were granite tables. A very slight effort of imagination 
would have turned others into ruined castles, so well were 
they perched. 

Oct. 4- — Train 7iear Green River. — This morning I woke 
up to more complete desolation than ever. We are in 
what is termed the great American desert, many hundred 
miles in extent, at an elevation exceeding that of the 
Engadine, cold, Ijut not so cold as that district, but with- 
out a blade of grass to cheer the eye. On the banks of 
the river there are some few stunted bushes which are 
green, and that is all. The landscape, if it may be so 
termed, is a vast expanse of light-brown rock, topped by 
a red sand-rock. . . . But even here men and cattle and 
children are to be found, brought there by the necessities 
of the railway, I suppose, or by that wandering adven- 
turous feeling which belongs to some Americans. The 
men are great gaunt - looking fellows, very rough in 
appearance, but not so bad as they look ; and they know 
me as an Englishman at once by, they say, my ruddy 
look. I heard in the rail yesterday that Mr Allport, my 
friend of the Midland Eailway in England, was on the 
road, and that our trains would meet at 1 a.m. It was 
a singular meeting. 

Bc-o-vKi-e {?), Nevada, Oct. 5. — We are passing through 
wonderful scenery — for the last two days it has been 
one prolonged pass, rivers on one side, mountains close 
on the other ; oases here and there of great loveliness, 
but generally utter wild barrenness ; and yet there are 
human beings who, with millions of fertile acres lying 
waste, seem to prefer this savage and grand solitude. 
Our travelling companions are still pleasant. Some 
have come with me all the way from Chicago. There 
are four or five nice children, but they want the ruddy 

A.D. 1872.] AMERICAN JOURNAL. 225 

look of English, and have some of them a careworn 
look. . . . 

Plains again — more alkali, more dust, more sage-brush, 
but no grass. Still there are inhabitants, probably look- 
ing for silver and gold rather than wheat or cattle. The 
Indians now appeared, and they were not beautiful to 
look at. The men looked lazy, well fed and clothed, 
with very black eyes and hair, but one-half of their faces 
covered with vermilion ; the women dirty and miserable 
to a degree hardly human. 

Oct. 6. — Daylight broke upon us in the Sierra Nevada 
Mountains, and here was magnificent scenery — mountains 
of granite raising their heads to the sky, with patches of 
snow here and there, and covered up to the snow with 
magnificent pine. The summit station is 7200 feet above 
the sea, and we had forty-three miles of snow-sheds to 
pass through before we reached the lower country. Un- 
fortunately these snow-sheds shut out much of the view, 
which, when we caught it, was more like the Italian side 
of the Alps than anything I had seen in America. We 
now dropped down rapidly to the western side, and soon 
realised the fact that we were in the region of the trade- 
winds, and that it never rains here between April and 

Grapes were abundant and large — dust was in greater 
quantities. Conduits to convey water were everywhere 
visible, but no water was to be seen. The sun shone 
vindictively, and man, who never is content, wished 
for shade, and consoled himself with iced water. . . . 
We told each other we were dirty, and looked for- 
ward to baths on our arrival. A few hours before we 
were shivering, and the fire in the car was lighted to 
warm us. jSTow we came to one vast wheat-field, ap- 
parently hundreds of miles in extent. If there is a good 

VOL. I. P 

226 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [.et. 47. 

spring rain the wheat grows without trouble, and there is 
no doubt of the harvest. . . . 

San Francisco, Oct. 7. — How delightful to be still — to 
have been in bed — to have had a bath — not to hear the 
whir, whir, whir of the train, or to feel the tremendous 
motion under one's feet I ... I presented my letters. 
The talk was of wheat, of diamonds, and of gold. Why 
won't you believe we are the richest people under the 
sun ? I politely believe my friend, but he is angry 
because all my friends do not understand it. I looked 
on the water right away seaward towards China, Japan, 
and Australia, and the sea broke on those rocks with the 
same thud and spray as those waves nearer at home, of 
which I was reminded. But for the sands close at hand, 
I might have closed my eyes, dreamt, and opened them 
on Devonshire rocks. The trade-wind brought its mist 
with it at 5 o'clock, and we drove along the firm sand 
while the sun went down in the richest red glory I have 
seen for years. It seemed to mark the sea with blood — 
and it might have been, for we passed the wrecks of two 
old ships deeply bedded in the sand — of gallant ships 
which had been. It was dark when we ejot home. And 
after dinner I walked to the Chinese quarter of the town. 
There are 25,000 Chinese here, and they live almost as 
completely in a quarter by themselves as if they were in 
Canton. . . . 

Oct. 8. — ... I spent the early part of the morning in 
looking for a joss-house in the Chinese quarter, and after 
a time I found it in an upper room in what appeared to 
be an ordinary Chinese dwelling-house, but the street- 
door was open, and the staircase covered with matting. 
The room w^as a small one ; there was an altar or table 
opposite the door, and behind the altar an idol of some 
sort. Paper reeds, with incense in them, were smoking. 

A.D. 1872.] AMERICAN JOURNAL. 227 

and made the atmosphere taste and smell like a Eoman 
Catholic church. There were candles burning in l)road 
daylight. On the front of the table, from the top to the 
ground, were some very elaborate relief figures, appa- 
rently in gold or silver gilt, representing animals in one 
part, and men fighting in another. There were idols in 
the corner, which were either separately worshipped or 
change places with the idol who was the God of the day. 
One of these at the side was a very fair representation of 
a panther ; the other was a frightful imitation of a horrible 
human being. A Chinaman was performing his devo- 
tions while I was there, and I stood and watched him for 
some minutes. He knelt down before the table, repeating 
some prayers, holding in his hands two oblong pieces of 
coloured wood marked with some de^'ices. He threw 
these down with great violence on the ground at every 
pause in his prayer and genuflexions, and I imagine he 
kept on till they fell in a particular way, so as to bring 
luck. When this was ended, he went to a tray on the 
table or altar, took out a piece of paper, lit it by the 
candle wdiich was burning, and then dropped it into an 
open iron receptacle by the side of the door. This finished 
his work, except that he had to go to the keeper of the 
joss-house, who inhabited a small apartment behind the 
altar, and pay him some money. This keeper had a child 
of two years old, I should say, and I observed, while all 
was proceeding, the child playing with what appeared to 
be young idols. 

For the next hour or so I amused myself by turning 
over things in a Chinese shop, kept exclusively by China- 
men. They are very shrewd, clever fellows, and write 
and speak English well. ]\Iany of them are very wealthy, 
and have an important part of the trade of San Francisco 
entirely in their hands. 

228 LIFE OF Tr. H. SMITH. [^T. 47. 

On October 9, Smith started with some 
American friends for the Yosemite Valley, a 
reo-ion so thorouofhly well known from the ac- 
counts given by innumerable tourists, that quot- 
ation from his minute description of the scener}^ 
may be dispensed with. Keturning on the 16th 
from Merced — 

A seven hours' railway journey takes us iDack to San 
Francisco, and I stand on the platform of the train as we 
approach it, and open my mouth wide to draw in the fresh 
cool breeze the trade-wind sends off the sea. If you want 
to be grateful for fresh air, shut yourself up in a large oven 
for a week, and provide a constant supply of the most 
minute dust, which, after stopping up your nose, insists 
upon being taken into your lungs through the mouth, and 
into the stomach as well. The Yosemite is very lovely, 
very grand, but, as Mrs Cass said to me, I say, I won't 
advise any lady to go there until after I have forgotten 
the journey to it. . . . 

I wound up my San Franciscan visit by a last stroll 
through the Chinese quarter. My ideas about the Chinese 
are greatly changed. They are a remarkably quiet, steady, 
hard-working body of men, as exhibited in California, and 
people there say they would gladly give us back all the 
Irish who have invaded the country in numbers, and sub- 
stitute Chinamen for them. No doubt a large part of the 
great prosperity of the State is owing to these people. 
But for them the Pacific Eailway could not be built, the 
wheat could not be harvested, the gardens would not be 
cultivated, and clothes could not be washed or dinners 
cooked. They are literally servants-of-all-work to the 
American on the Pacific coast. 

A.D. 1872.] AMERIGAX JOURNAL. 229 

Friday, Oct. 18. — Started at 7 A.M. for the East. I found 
on board the car a party of directors of the Northern 
Pacific Eailway, to whom I had letters, and they invited 
me into their car, which meant frequent refreshment in 
iced champagne and good claret. They had returned from 
the Columbia Eiver and Puget's Sound, and spoke of the 
resources of that district as quite equalling those of 
California, with a cooler climate. They described narrow- 
bays and inlets, with mmnitains rising straight up from 
the sea, so that a ship might make fast to a tree on shore 
and yet lie in deep water. Any amount of timber is to be 
had for the cutting. 

The railway is, in their judgment, to be the route to 
China from Europe, and they are to have a grant of 26,000 
acres of land for every mile of railway they construct. 
Our journey to-day was almost as hot as the valley was 
before. The load was heavy, and the engine unequal to it 
on the steep ascent of the Sierra. . . . 

When I went to bed we had lost three hours' time. Mr 
Hill and Mr Thompson travelled in the . same carriage 
with me, so that between the directors' carriage, which I 
frequently visited, and my own, I had plenty of conversa- 

Saturday, Oct. 19. — On the sage desert again — dust, 
drought, dirt in one's eyes, one's throat, one's nose, one's 
temper — grit everj'where, until I noticed everybody more 
or less cross because the man opposite was so foolish, so 
unreasonable, and then I began to see liumour in the 
wliole thing. . . . 

October 20. — I part with my friends at Ogden, promising 
to meet in New York ; they proceed east, I diverge a little 
south to Salt Lake City, the capital of Mormondom. I 
went to the Tabernacle to morning service — mid-day I 
should say. It is a very large, plain building, holding 

230 LIFE OF JV. H. SMITH. [.et. 47. 

6000 people, the roof supported without a pillar or 
buttress, of great span, resembling an inverted dish-cover. 
The organ is a very fine one, built on the spot. There is 
a sort of low Exeter Hall Orchestra raised step by step, 
one level behind the other. 

There w^ere three pulpits or stands, one on each step or 
stage, and the preacher, Orson Pratt, took his place at the 
middle one. His text was from the Word of God as 
revealed to Joseph Smith, page so-and-so, on the 27th 
December 1832, and he read it. He said the Latter-day 
Saints believed the Bible which he had, the Eevelations to 
Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon, each and all, one 
as much as the other, and he went on to a defence of 
polygamy on the grounds that under the Old Testament 
dispensation it was permitted, and also that as other 
Christians permitted widowers to marry again, and they 
might therefore have two or three wives in heaven, it was 
certainly right to have two or three on earth. Much more 
was said which I shall not repeat, but the congregation 
received it all. 

While the singing and preaching proceeded, bread and 
water were partaken by the members as a sacrament. I 
never saw such women as in that place, so plain, so vacant- 
looking, or so superstitious. Poor creatures ! The system 
is described by those who have courage as a hell upon 
earth ; and although the ground bears fruit and the valley 
teems with produce, the human beings who have adopted 
the so-called religion look either half-crazed or entirely 

A meetimr of Gentiles aQ;ainst Mormonism was held 
last Thursday in the streets. It was the first open meet- 
ing. Threats had been uttered that it would be broken 
up, and the chairman announced that the first person 
disturbing the meeting would be shot. It was known 

A.D. 1872.] AMERICAN JOURNAL. 231 

there was a body of men armed, prepared to obey his 
orders, and so everything passed off peaceably. 

I spent the evening quietly in my room. There was 
not much to choose between the countenances of the 
Gentile miners who are attracted to Salt Lake by the 
silver-mines near and those of the Mormons. A stranger 
unarmed is perfectly safe. If you want to incur danger 
show a six-shooter revolver, and instantly every man will 
produce and cock his weapon. By the way, highway 
robbers are called road-agents in these parts. Eobbers is 
an offensive term. And so two road-agents relieved the 
stage last week of the trouble of carrying some bullion 
from the mines near Virginia City to Eens. . . . 

Oct. 21. — . . . Reached Ogden at 7, and found a draw- 
ing-room in Pullman's car had been reserved for me, and 
I am now writing in it while the train drags slowly and 
joltingly up-hill. My drawing-room is furnished with 
two fixed arm-chairs, a sofa which is a bed at night, and 
a table. I have a profusion of looking-glass, and plenty 
of room for my wife, who has been in my thoughts all 
day, but who unfortunately absents herself. . . . 

Our journey has been through the same desolate 
country : we came through the Devil's Gate, and it really 
looks as if it might have been the place of combat 
between the Archangel and the Evil One. The rocks 
are weird and worn and tormented like. There are no 
inhabitants, few cattle, no birds — but a sun, rocks, and 

I have just discovered a party of Canadian engineers 
who have crossed from Canada to the Pacific surveying 
for their railway, and I am going to pick their brains. 
Good night. 

Tuesday, Oct. 22. — I have become quite intimate with 
my English and Canadian friends in the next car — 

232 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [.ct. 47. 

the captain of H.M.S. Sparrovvhawk, and Mr Fleming, 
the leader of the Canadian -Pacific Eailway exploring 

They rode across the continent to the Pacific in two 
months, averaging 40 miles a-day exclusive of Sundays, 
and this strong exercise kept up for so long a time has 
made Mr Fleming apprehensive lest a week on the railway 
should upset the health of his party, one following directly 
on the other. He therefore orders all out whenever the 
train stops, and every man runs for exercise in a manner 
which alarms and amazes the Americans, who never make 
any exertion w^iich they can avoid. Captain Pioss or 
Ptoyds of the Sparrowhawk is a very heavy man, and he 
offered to carry the doctor of the expedition, also a hea"\y 
man, 50 yards on his back, while a young active fellow 
was running 100 yards, and to beat him. "We had this 
race on the summit level of the Eocky Mountains at 
Sherman, 8200 feet up. I had arranged with the con- 
ductor to keep the train a few minutes longer for the 
purpose, and I was the starter. The fun was very great : 
the Captain came in first with his load quite easily, but 
running very fast. We then had another race of 100 
yards between three young fellows ; and after that the 
whole party played leap-frog one over the other, each 
man giving his back in turn. 

I don't know whether I laughed more at the fun itself 
than at the surprise, the amazement, of the passengers in 
the train and the employees of the railway. They could 
hardly laugh. The exertion was so utterly, unnecessary. 
When I returned to the cars I was amused at the recep- 
tion I had — something between pity and " We really can't 
understand what sort of people you are." One man said 
to me, " You English always will be boys." I said, " Yes, 
to the very last." 

A.D. 1872.] AMERICAN JOURNAL. 233 

I parted with ray friends at Cheyenne, and took the 
train southwards to Denver City, a new town at the foot 
of the mountains in Colorado, which is now a great mining 

I discussed Indian troubles with an American officer 
on the road, and learnt that departments in America 
are as dilatory, as weak, and as obnoxious to those who 
serve under them in the Xew World as they are in the 
Old. . . . 

At 8.30 P.M. I left Denver by the Kansas Pacific Eail- 
way for the East. I soon found out an Englishman, a Mr 
Teal, the manager of the Terrible ]\Iine, who was going to 
look for his wife and family in Xew York. They had 
telegraphed their departure from England, and the message 
reached the clerk at his station on the 9th. He was 
drunk for a fortnight, and did not deliver it until the 21st. 
The ship arrived on the 19th, and the family are stay- 
ing somewhere, ]\Ir Teal does not know where, in New 
York helpless. Great is our indignation at the misuse 
of whisky. AYe smoked several pipes together in the 
drawing-room inveighing against it, and we were calmer 
after the smoke, and slept soundly. 

Wednesday, Oct. ^3. — Nothing but rolling prairie for 
miles and miles. Everybody is looking for the buffalo, 
and we saw many, alive and dead. They are certainly 
grand animals, and it seems cruel to shoot them simply 
for the pleasure of hunting, without using the meat.^ AYe 

^ This noble animal is now extinct, save for a small herd ])re- 
served in the Yosemite Park. Twenty years ago it existed in 
migratory herds of countless thousands ; but the combined avarice 
and cruelty of man, aided by repeating-rifles, has prevailed to 
destroy the species off the face of the earth. The bisection of the 
buffalo prairies liy the Canadian-Pacific Railway no doubt contrib- 
uted to extermination, for it interfered with the annual migration 

234 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [jet. 47. 

saw antelopes, prairie-hens, and wild turkeys in great num- 
bers ; but for the first 300 miles every station at which we 
stopped for water — there were no passengers — was pro- 
tected by one or two soldiers, who had formed for themselves 
a sort of underground miniature fortress. The winds 
here are so tremendous, when they blow over the prairie, 
that men are glad to excavate, dig out the earth, and 
form a habitation which cannot be blown away. We 
looked into one of these underground huts, of which 
walls, roof, and everything were earth, and although it 
was very rough, it showed the occupier was well-to-do. 
There was a profusion of firearms, saddles, &c., and one 
ov two large American trunks, holding clothes, &c. 

Towards afternoon a tree or two became visible, and 
we approached a small stream of water. Then large 
herds of cattle, some three or four thousand in a herd, 
took the place of buffalo, and wooden shanties became 
almost frequent. At 10 p.m. I arrived at Junction City, 
where I had to leave the Pacific train in order to go south 
to Emporia. The names are great, and the laying out of 
streets implies great expectations ; but at present back- 
wood cities do not come up to the Old World ideas of what 
constitutes cities. Here and there a brick-and-stone house, 
a clay-built one, thirty or forty wooden shanties, and a 
good many open spaces covered with weeds, and there is 
the city before you. But there is always a milliner or two 
to be found, several lawyers, a dry -goods store, and a 

Here this epistolary journal comes to an end, 
and the next letter is from New York. 

of the herds. Buffaloes have been known to destroy themselves bj' 
charging a railway train in blind fiuy. At the present day the 
only traces left of them are piles of whitening bones and horns. 

A.D. 1872.] AMERICAN JOURNAL. 235 

Hov. 5. — My journey from Kansas was rather a hard 
one. I was anxious to get on, and although the country 
is interesting and part of it very beautiful, I am very glad 
it is all over, and that I am now sitting down as it were 
waiting for the door to be opened to let me in to England. 

I got to "Washington on Friday afternoon. . . . Mr 
Eussell Gurnev went with me to call on President Grant, 
with whom I had some minutes' conversation.^ His 
secretary took me round the city afterwards, and in a few 
hours I saw everything that was worth seeing . . . Mr 
Froude is here, and I have been out with him this morn- 
ing to see the polling at the elections going forward to-day. 
It is very interesting, and the police here are very careful 
of us ; but I must tell you when I see you — not long after 
you get this. . . . 

1 After Smith's return to Eiiglaiicl, Mr Eussell Gurney, writing 
from Washington, says : " I was amused with the account of a con- 
versation yesterday at a party of very intelligent Americans. The 
(juestion was raised whether there were any great men in America. 
The conclusion was prett}- soon arrived at that neither in the 
Senate nor the House were there any, though some doubt was 
expressed as to Schurtz, who is, as you probably know, a German. 
At last it was settled that there was one, and only one, and he was 
Grant. I am so glad that I took you to him, as it would have been 
a pity if you had gone away without seeing the one great man in 
the country. I fear you were scarcely aware of your privilege." 










The first Administration of Mr Gladstone now 
entered upon its fifth year of existence with the 
shadow of unpopularity deepening on its course. 
So many ai^j^i'^hensions had been aroused, such 
powerful interests harassed, that it might have 
seemed to Ministers that their only chance of 
conducting affairs towards the natural term of 
the Parliament lay in avoiding sensational en- 
terprise in legislation and in allaying rather 
than rousing opposition. 

Aliter visutn ! In a fatal hour for the Govern- 


ment the Prime Minister plunged once more into 
the troubled tide of Irish politics. Already he 
had prevailed to destroy the Irish Church and 
revolutionise the tenure of Irish landed property ; 
there remained a third question, the settlement 
of which he had in his electioneering speeches of 
1868 declared to be essential to the conciliation 
of Irish disaffection. Perhaps in doing so he 
had yielded to the temptation, irresistible to less 
experienced orators, of casting rhetoric in a triple 
mould : it is difficult to assio-n anv other reason 
for his havino- discovered in the state of Irish 
University Education a grievance more crying 
than the irreconcilable variance of the Protestant 
and Roman Catholic Churches in temporal 
matters. Although he can hardly have calcu- 
lated on the complexity and multiplicity of 
opposition which was to be called into existence 
by the mere mention of this question in the 
Queen's Speech, it has ever been a characteristic 
of this remarkable statesman never to be so 
happy as when dragging hesitating and even 
reluctant followers through the turmoil of 
parliamentary war to an issue which they 
would fain avoid. 

Such was the task he undertook in tablino- his 
Irish University Bill. The event proved that in 
essaying to satisfy the claims of the Irish Roman 

238 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [jet. 48. 

Catholic clergy without rousing alarm among his 
Protestant and Nonconformist supporters in all 
three kingdoms, he had put his hand to a work 
beyond his power to accomplish. 

There is no need to dwell on what turned out 
to be an abortive plan : enough to sav that 
though the design was so complete and elaborate 
as to command admiration for its author, Ioul*" 
before the day fixed for the second reading it 
had become clear that Ministerialists were 
sharply divided on its policy. Professor Henrv 
Fawcett ^ led the Opposition against the bill, 
and was followed on the same side bv Dr Lyon 
Playfair ' and Mr Horsman. As the debate pro- 
ceeded, the Government betrayed their weakness 
by ofiering to leave several important points as 
open questions to be settled in Committee, but 
that was a stage which this ill-starred measure 
was destined never to reach. It was thrown out 
on Second Reading by a majority of 3 — 287 votes 
to 284. 

In consequence of this defeat the Government 
resigned, but as Disraeli declined attemptino- to 
form a Cabinet, the opinion went abroad that the 

1 Postmaster-General in Mr Gladstone's second Administi-ation, 

2 Afterwards Postmaster-General in 1873-74, Chairman of Ways 
and Means, 1880-83, and Yice-President of the Committee of Council 
on Education in 1886 ; created Baron Playfair in 1892. 


onl}'" way out of the dilemma was an appeal to the 
constituencies. A singular feature of the situation 
was the promulgation by the rival leaders of the 
reasons inducing each to adopt the course he did, 
bv means of letters addressed to the Sovereign. 
Mr Gladstone in his letter contended warmly 
that an Opposition which had overthrown a 
Government was bound to attempt the adminis- 
tration of affairs, a view which Mr Disraeli in 
his letter firmly repudiated. This correspond- 
ence formed the subject of debate in the House 
of Commons, in the course of which Mr Gladstone 
announced that the Government had resumed its 
functions, and Ministers had returned to their 
Departments. Disraeli, of course, spoke in this 
debate, and his peroration was a stirring and 
eloquent one, well chosen to make his followers 
draw their ranks closer too-ether : — 

I think it is of the utmost importance that . . . there 
should be in tliis country a great constitutional party, dis- 
tinguished for its intelligence as well as for its organisa- 
tion, that may lead and direct the public mind. And, 
sir, when that time arrives, when they enter into a career 
which must be noble, and which I hope and beheve will 
be triumphant, I think they may perhaps remember, not 
without kindness, that I at least prevented one obstacle 
from lieing placed in their way : that I, as the trustee of 
their honour and tlieir interest, declined to form a weak 
and discredited Administration. 

240 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [.et. 48. 

Under these conditions matters settled down 
again, and there was Httle more excitement 
within the walls of Parliament during the rest 
of that session. Smith's name will be found in 
the annals of Hansard associated wath various 
educational and metropolitan objects of discus- 
sion. He moved resolutions condemning the 
schemes promulgated for the management of the 
Greycoat School and Guy's Hospital, and called 
attention to some anomalies in the incidence of 
local taxation. But the most important action 
which he took was in regard to the Budget 
resolutions. The Chancellor of the Exchequer 
had a surplus, but it had been in great part 
forestalled by the award of the Alabama Com- 
missioners, under which this country had been 
adjudged to pay an indemnity of £3,200,000. 
Half of this sum was to be paid during the cur- 
rent year, the sugar-duties w^ere to be remitted, 
and a penny w^as to be taken off the income-tax. 
Smith's amendment was to the effect that, before 
remitting indirect taxation by the remission of 
the sugar-duty, the House ought to be in posses- 
sion of the views of the Government as to the 
adjustment of local and imperial taxation. 

The Government have been urged to exempt altogether 
from Income-tax the first £150 of everybody's income, 
and I believe that that course will, if the Government are 

A.D. 1873.] THE BUDGET. 241 

bent upon touching the Income-tax at all, be much better 
than the course which they have adopted. A justification 
might be found for that course, for there is a large class 
among the artisans and labourers in this country who are 
earning £150 a-year, and are not only not paying Income- 
tax, but whom it will be impossible, or if possible, very 
undesirable, to cornqjcl to pay. I will venture to ask the 
House what the policy of the Budget really is. The 
policy of the Budget is to swallow up every farthing of 
surplus which can exist this year and next year. The 
policy of the Budget is to deprive the House of Commons 
of dealing with a question [Local and Imperial Taxation] 
which it has already decided to be of very grave and 
serious import to the taxpayers of the country. The 
poUcy of the Budget is, I venture to think, to embarrass 
the hands of any rigJit honourable member who may next 
year or the year after stand in the position now occupied 
by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. 

The general tenor of his complaint against the 
financial proposals of the Government was that, 
while giving relief where it was not wanted, 
they did nothing to remedy an admitted griev- 
ance. Mr Lowe with great warmth resisted the 
amendment, which he referred to as " a crowning 
insult"; but judging from comments on the de- 
bate in Ministerialist journals, he earned little 
gratitude outside the House for his exposition of 
the principles on which he had framed his Budget. 
The matter dropped, and the session moved un- 
eventfully to its close. 

VOL. I. Q 

242 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [mt. 48. 

But if Ministers succeeded in holding their 
own in Parliament, the omens in the country 
were sinister. Since 1869 nine seats, all vacated 
by various Ministers appointed to permanent 
places or removed to the House of Lords, had 
been captured by Conservatives ; six more had 
fallen into the hands of the enemy during 1873 ; 
and against this category of calamity the Lib- 
erals could only reckon gains at Bath and Truro. 
There were known to be grievous dissensions 
among- Ministers themselves : Mr Baxter re- 
signed the Secretaryship of the Treasury be- 
cause he could not asrree with the Chancellor of 
the Exchequer (Mr Lowe) ; Mr Lowe was re- 
moved from the Treasury and appointed Home 
Secretary ; and Lord BijDon and Mr Childers both 
resiofned office. 

All this, of course, was watched with satisfac- 
tion by the Conservatives, who were biding their 
time; but they too were not without chill, trem- 
ors of apprehension, arising from the adverse 
effect on their prospects which secret voting might 
have in a general election. Those in possession of 
what are sometimes humorously described as the 
"sweets of office" were far from happy, while 
their opponents were weighed down by the pros- 
pect of worse things which might come to pass. 

Perhaj)S it is to this sense of uneasiness that 


must be traced the beginning of that sharj)er 
acerbity and scanter courtesy to opponents which 
of late years has characterised party pohtics. 
There was plenty of hard fighting in the days 
when the House of Commons was spoken of as 
the best club in London ; but a chivalrous under- 
standing prevailed between the two parties ; de- 
bates and divisions were arranged to suit mutual 
convenience ; to snap a division on a great ques- 
tion in the dinner-hour would have been regarded 
as a positive breach of good - breeding. How 
greatly things are changed now many a weary 
member can sorrowfully testify. 

Perhaps the discredit for the first disregard 
of these unwritten laws may be laid to the door 
of the Conservative party. It had been an 
immemorial custom with the Ojoposition of the 
day not to oppose Ministers seeking re-election 
on taking office. Elated by their success at 
many by-elections, and anxious to score another 
win, the organisers of the Tory party determined 
to oppose Sir Henry James at Taunton on his 
appointment as Solicitor- General. They failed 
to oust him, but a bad precedent had been set, 
which in subsequent years has been the reverse 
of satisfactory in its eflfects. 

In the autumn of this year Disraeli chose to 
address a letter on public aftairs to Lord Grey 

244 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [^t. 48. 

de Wilton, in which he spoke of the Government 
in terms which gave deep offence to many of 
his own party. ^ Writing to his friend, Mr 
Ford, on October 11, Smith passed tlie following 
melancholy comment on the incident : — 

Disraeli has ruined himself, and rendered reconstruction 
of parties — a new choice of leaders — almost inevitable. I 

^ The letter was in these terms : — 

My dear Grey, — I am much obliged to you for your Bath news. 
It is most interesting. It is rare a constituency has the oppor- 
tunity of not only leading but sustaining public oj^inion at a critical 
period. That has been the high fortune of the i^eople of Bath, and 
they have proved themselves worthy of it by the spirit and con- 
stancy they have shown. I cannot doubt that they will continue 
their patriotic course by supporting Mr Forsyth, an able and 
accomplished man, who will do honour to those who send him to 
Parliament. For nearly five years the present Ministers have 
harassed every trade, worried every profession, and assailed or 
menaced every class, institution, and species of property in the 
country. Occasionally they have varied this state of civil war 
by perpetrating some job which outraged public opinion, or by 
stumbling into mistakes which have always been discreditable, 
and sometimes ruinous. All this they call a policy, and seem quite 
proud of it ; but the country has, I think, made up its mind to 
close this career of plundering and blundering. — Ever yours sin- 
cerely, " B. Disraeli. 

Looked at in the light of later days, and read in parallel 
columns with a great deal that is said and written now in party 
controversy, it is certainly difficult to see wherein lay the grave 
offence of these expressions. The ' Annual Register,' usually a 
dispassionate and impartial record of current events, emphatically 
pronounces its condemnation : " The spirit and tone of this letter 
call for no comment, as it carried its own condemnation and its 
own punishment." The punishment was the loss of a seat at Bath 
to the Tories. 


was going to speak at a dinner at Hertford on Thursday 
next, but I have begged off. I have no heart for it now, 
and I don't want to talk. 

In the autumn of 1873 Smith found himself, 
much against his will, committed to a second 
contest for re-election to the London School 
Board. He expressed a strong desire to retire, 
but his supporters would not hear of it. Indeed 
his partner, Mr Lethbridge, was waited on to 
induce him to persuade Smith to accept the 
Chairmanship of the new Board. " That," said 
Mr Lethbridge, " Mr Smith Avill not do, if I 
know anything of him at all." Writing to his 
wife on this subject on December 2, he says : 
" I said j^ositively that nothing would induce 
me to take it [the Chairmanship] permanently, 
and my friends gave way, and I think I shall 
escape being nominated." 

In spite of the general disfavour into which 
Ministers had fallen, and the discouragement 
with which Mr Gladstone's Cabinet had to con- 
tend, the year 1874 opened upon a kingdom 
pervaded with general apathy in regard to po- 
litical parties. There was no apparent reason 
why the Parliament should not run on to its 
full term, and no anxiety on the part of the 
Opposition to challenge a direct issue with a 
Government commanding a majority of 90 in 

246 LIFE OF TF. H. SMITH. [mt. 48. 

the House of Commons. People were still find- 
ing it so i^rofitable to attend to their own 
business, that they showed little concern about 
the course of public affairs. Parliament had 
been summoned to meet on February 5, but 
on January 24 there appeared a manifesto ad- 
dressed by Mr Gladstone to his constituents in 
Greenwich, in which, after referring to the course 
of events in the previous session, he announced 
the desire of the Government " to pass from 
a state of things thus fitful and casual to one 
in which the nation will have full opportunity 
of expressing will and choice as between the 
political parties." He rested the claims of the 
Liberal party to a renewal of confidence partly 
on their past performances, and partly on their 
intention of totally abolishing the Income-Tax 
and relieving local taxation — the very points 
which Smith had urged in his speech on the 
last Budg-et. He further indicated an intention 
of assimilatinof the franchise in the counties to 
that in the boroughs. 

The challenge, thus passionately and impuls- 
ively thrown down, was promptly accepted by 
the Tory champion. " Generally speaking," ran 
one sentence in Mr Disraeli's counterblast — 

Generally speaking, I should say of the Administration 
of the last five years, that it would have been better for 


all of us if there had been a little more energy in our 
foreign policy, and a little less in our domestic legis- 

The state of parties in Westminster was 
considered to be more favourable to the Con- 
servatives than it had been in 1868, and this im- 
pression was undoubtedly owing, in a very large 
degree, to the hold Smith had obtained on the 
confidence and respect of those whom he repre- 
sented in Parliament. Still, no one could fore- 
tell the result of household franchise exercised 
under secrecy of the ballot. If, as was loudly 
claimed by the Liberal Party managers, the 
effect of the Ballot Act was to be the release 
of the artisan and labouring- classes from the 
alleged oppressive influence and constraint of 
their employers, who were mainly Conservative, 
there could not fail to be seen, in a constituency 
like Westminster, a heavy addition to the Liberal 
poll ; and that this was the genuine faith and ex- 
pectation of Mr Gladstone's colleagues had been 
abundantly shown by their extreme impatience 
to abolish the immemorial custom of open voting. 
Consequently, there was some hesitation on the 
part of the Westminster Conservatives to run 
more than one candidate for the two seats. 
Smith, standing alone, might be reckoned fairly 
secure of being returned ; indeed, there came 

248 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [.et. 48. 

from the Liberals what was tantamount to an 
understanding that the representation should be 
divided by the unopposed return of Mr Smith 
for the Conservatives and Sir T. Fowell Buxton 
for the Liberals. But Smith himself could be 
brought to accept no such compromise, and it 
was in consequence of his strong and repeated 
persuasion that Sir Charles Russell agreed to 
come forward as his colleague. 

It was a bold and, as many thought, a hazard- 
ous enterprise to jeopardise the certainty of keep- 
ing one seat in order to have the chance of win- 
ning both, for Westminster had been for genera- 
tions part of the j^atrimony of the Whigs, but 
nobly did the ancient borough resj)ond to the 
confidence of its young member. 

In his address to the electors, this time Smith 
made no allusion to Liberal - Conservativism : 
half-a-dozen years of active political life had not 
been without effect in accentuating his political 
views, and his common-sense had led him to 
realise how vain, if a man is to let his influence 
be felt, must be all profession of independence 
of parliamentary leadership. He now stood as 
an avowed member of the Conservative party. 

In concert with my political friends [ran one paragraph] 
I have deprecated, and should continue to deprecate, great 
organic changes in submission to the clamour of pro- 


fessional agitators, who aim at destruction rather than 
reform. There is, in my judgment, ample work for the 
energies of Parliament, without embarking upon great 
constitutional changes which are not desired by the 

The result of this, the first general election 
nnder the ballot, came as a welcome surprise to 
the Conservatives — as an unlooked-for dis- 
couragement to their opponents. A minority 
of 90 in the old Parliament was converted into 
a majority of 50 in the new House of Commons, 
and no part of the kingdom contributed to this 
result in a proportion equal to the metropolis. In 
the deceased Parliament Mr Disraeli had been 
able, out of the twenty metropolitan seats, to 
reckon but two as held by his followers ; in 
the new one the representation was equally 
divided between Conservatives and Liberals. 
The verdict condemnino- the late Administra- 
tion was given in Westminster with startling 
emphasis. The Whig ' Spectator ' for February 
7, 1874, admitted and explained the greatness 
of the victory. 

The most tremendous of the Tory victories is that at 
Westminster, where the two Tory candidates, Mr W. H. 
Smith and Sir Charles Eussell, have been returned, the 
former by a vote of close upon two to one, and that over 
a candidate supported by the whole strength of the 

250 LIFE OF jr. H. SMITH. [^t. 48. 

Licensed Victuallers and of the religious philanthropists, 
as well as of the Liberal Party in general — Sir Fowell 
Buxton. Tlie return is as follows : — 

Mr W. H. Smith (C) 9371 

Sir Charles Russell (C) 8681 

Sir T. F. Buxton (L) 4749 

General Codrington (L) .... 3435 

^N'ow on the last occasion Mr W. H. Smith polled only 
7648 votes, which is much fewer than Sir Charles Eussell 
has polled on this occasion, while Captain Grosvenor 
polled 6584 votes, nearly two thousand more than Sir 
Fowell Buxton polls now. This is Conservative reaction 
with a vengeance ! 

There was no getting over it. In 1868 Smith's 
success had been accounted for by his opponents 
as the result of his liberal expenditure of money — 
there was no whisper of that now. By the Ballot 
Act the workinof classes had been freed alike from 
the oppressive dictation of employers and the de- 
moralising application of wealth, and here was the 
use they had made of their freedom on the very 
first opportunity. A handsome acknowledgment 
of the fairness of the conditions of battle came 
from one of the defeated candidates. 

14 Grosvenor Cees'^., Feb. 6, 1874. 

Deae Me Smith, — I must thank you for the courteous 
message you sent me by Sir John Kennaway last night. 
I can assure you I look back upon the late election with 
satisfaction on this ground, that each side has appealed 
only to those higher issues, national and not local or 


personal, which I am sure you feel with me ought alone 
to guide the contests of parties. — I remain, yours truly, 

W. H. Smith, Esq., M.P. 

On Monday, February 16, Mr Gladstone's 
Cabinet met to consider its defeat at the polls, 
and determine its final act. The following day 
the Prime Minister laid his resignation before the 
Queen at Windsor, who thereupon summoned Mr 
Disraeli and charged him with the duty of form- 
ing a Ministry. That statesman had been justly 
credited with the faculty of discerning capacity in 
new men : indeed, not long before the general elec- 
tion he had observed in public that he " piqued 
himself on recognising ability " ; it was therefore 
a matter of common expectation that among the 
new Ministers there would be found more than 
one who had not previously filled ofiices. But 
Disraeli's old chief, Lord Derby, had once remarked 
that when an appointment was vacant he was 
invariably urged to take in '"' new blood," and 
that, as often as he followed this advice, he 
heard complaints about " raw recruits." It must 
be the . experience of every Prime Minister that 
it is far easier to find new men of capacity than 
to get rid of old colleagues ; consequently, in Mr 
Disraeli's Cabinet of twelve, the only new name 
which appeared was that of Mr Pichard Assheton 

252 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [.et. 48. 

Cross, ^ who was appointed Secretary of State for 
the Home Department. The reappearance in 
eleven out of twelve of the great parts of actors 
whose services had in former years been secured 
by the great impresario, set at rest a great 
deal of speculation and some apprehension. Dis- 
raeli, though he had convinced people of his 
ability for administration and dexterity as a 
parliamentary leader, and though he was ad- 
mitted to be the only man in the House of 
Commons capable of confronting Mr Gladstone, 
had at the same time failed to secure the con- 
fidence of the entire Tory party. They had 
followed him since the death of Lord Derby, not 
because they trusted him, but because they 
feared Gladstone. The old country iDarty had 
grave misgivings at some of the things that had 
been said and done ; they had not forgotten the 
"leap in the dark" of 1867, nor forgiven the 
disasters in which it had landed them. The 
statesman of whose attitude at this time most un- 
certainty prevailed was the Marquis of Salisbury 
— " the terrible Marquis," as he was then called 
— who, as Viscount Cranborne, with the Earl of 
Carnarvon, had seceded seven years before from 
Mr Disraeli's first Cabinet, on the question of 
household suffrage in counties. Would Lord 

1 Created Viscount Cross, G.C.B., in 1886. 


Salisbury and Lord Carnarvon go back to their 
old posts at the India Office and Colonial Office, 
or would they remain outside the Government, a 
source of disquiet and latent menace to any 
Administration which the member for Bucking- 
hamshire might collect together ? That was the 
question on the solution of which depended the 
hopes and fears of the Conservative and Liberal 
parties. Was the Prime Minister to succeed in 
healing old schisms, and take up the reins of 
power with a firm hand and tolerably clear road 
before him, or was he merely to put certain men 
into the offices at his disposal and continue at the 
head of affairs till some fortuitous combination of 
political sects should drive him from place ? 

The question was not long of settlement. Mr 
Gladstone resigned on Tuesday, February 18 ; 
on Friday 21, the list, not only of the Cabinet, 
but of Ministers outside the Cabinet, was com- 
plete. Lord Salisbury and Lord Carnarvon were 
back at their old posts. No one could suspect 
either of these two noblemen of having sunk con- 
scientious scruples to grasp any advantage that 
might be gained from office : Lord Salisbury, 
especially, was well known to be devoted to scien- 
tific and literary occupation, and that he should 
have consented to destroy his own leisure in order 
to take over the administration of a department 

254 LIFE OF jr. H. SMITH. [.et. 48. 

was accepted as a proof that an experienced 
statesman, absolutely independent of emolument 
and far above suspicion of selfish aims, recognised 
Disraeli as his political leader, and was prepared 
to yield him loyal support. 

The result of the elections had been so decisive 
as to enable Disraeli to anticipate Mr Gladstone's 
resignation by preparing the way for this recon- 
ciliation of the wings of the Tory party, and thus 
to the public and the press there was afforded 
a period short almost beyond precedent for dis- 
cussing the process of Cabinet-making and en- 
gendering the rumours which abound at such 
times. The London papers had from the first 
fixed upon Smith as one of the new men likely to 
be brought to the front ; several of them were for 
placing him in the Cabinet at once as Vice- 
President of the Council or President of the Local 
Government Board, places suggested by the part 
he had taken in discussions on educational matters 
and the reform of the Poor Laws. But Disraeli 
knew him also as the head of a ffreat and success- 
ful commercial concern, and had early recognised 
his fitness for another post. And here let it be 
said that Smith's rise has sometimes been attrib- 
uted to the friendly notices of him which had, 
from his entry into public life, appeared in news- 
papers of every shade of politics, and the inference 


has been drawn that his position as the leading 
newspaper agent contributed in some measure to 
this display of favour by the press. A paragraph 
from an article in the ' Spectator,' a Liberal 
weekly journal of high standing, may tend to 
dispel this impression : — 

We still hope earnestly for Mr Smith, the Member for 
Westminster, as Vice-President, and we believe that hope 
would be very loudly expressed indeed, but for a fact that 
it mav be as well to deal with at once. Mr W. H. Smith, 
though certain to rise some day, if not now, into the Cab- 
inet, has one extremely strong impediment in his way. 
He is the greatest news-agent in the world, and the pub- 
lic have a notion that he is always, and therefore, sure of 
newspaper support. There never was a greater delusion. 
What he is sure of is unnecessary neglect,, a dead silence 
about his merits as a Member, lest those who praise him 
should be suspected of wanting his goodwill. He wdll 
find this a real obstacle in his career, a great impediment 
to becoming known, and the fact may as well be stated 
plainly and at once. The truth about him as a politician, 
however, is that he was made for the Ministry of Educa- 
tion in a Conservative Ministry : that he, and he only of 
the party, except poor Sir John Pakington,^ possesses the 
needful knowledge, firmness, and moderation. 

This hope was not destined to fulfilment. 
Viscount Sandon became Vice-President of the 
Council ; but there was another post in the Min- 

^ Sir John Pakington had lost his seat at the general election. 
He was created Lord Hampton in 1874. 

256 LIFE OF JF. H. SMITH. [.et. 48. 

istry, requiring not less knowledge, firmness, and 
moderation than that of Minister of Education, 
and, in addition, calling for business capacity in a 
degree which might be more safely dispensed with 
in the Privy Council Office. Into this post the 
Prime Minister, with quick discernment, had 
already fitted his man ; accordingly, forty-eight 
hours after Mr Gladstone had resigfued the seals 
of office, the following letter was written : — 


2 Whitehall Gardens, Fch'J. 19, 1874. 

Deae Mr Smith, — It would give me great pleasure &, 
I believe, satisfaction to the country, were you to permit 
me to appoint you Secretary to the Treasury. — Yours very 
faithfully, B. Disraeli. 

\y[. H. Smith, Esq., M.P. 

The answer was dated the same day : — 

2 Hyde Park St., Feb. 19, 1874. 

Dear Mr Disraeli, — I am exceedingly obliged to you 
for the expression of your good opinion, and for the offer 
you have made, which I gladly accept. — Believe me, yours 
very faithfully, William H. Smith. 

The Right Hon. B. Disraeli, M.P. 

Probably there never was a more admirable ap- 
pointment made. Upon the Financial Secretary 
of the Treasury devolves not only the duty of 


receiving the Estimates from the various Dej^art- 
ments, whereby he is brought into constant com- 
munication and consultation with all the ex- 
ecutive heads, and of bringing the Estimates 
into final form before presentation to the House, 
but he is intimately concerned with the financial 
policy of the Government, and responsible for 
advice in guiding the Chancellor of the Exchequer 
in framing the Budget. Besides this, there de- 
volves ujDon him the arrangement of the Order- 
Book of the House of Commons, and the task of 
keeping members on both sides in good humour, 
the importance of which is not likely to be under- 
valued wdien it is remembered how many excel- 
lent and amiable schemes involving expense have 
to be met with a firm but conciliatory "No!" 
With the single exception, of late years, of the 
Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of L-e- 
land, there is no Minister, whether in or out of 
the Cabinet, who has to get through such an 
amount of hard, prolonged work as the Financial 

Nevertheless, admirably as Smith was qualified, 
by training, temperament, and business capacity, 
for this onerous office, there were not wanting 
those who shruoo-ed their shoulders and looked 
askance on this latest instance of Disraeli's disj)o- 
sition to innovation. The author of ' Coningsby ' 

VOL. I. R 

258 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [^t. 48. 

had not yet " educated " his party to the point 
whence they could discern that the Tory party, 
if it was to have its share in guiding the destiny 
of the kingdom, would have to draw to it the 
confidence of other classes than that which was 
" acred up to its chin," and the squirearchy mut- 
tered unkind thing's about the Bookstall Man who 
was thus brought into greater prominence than 
distinguished class-men and jDersons of j^edigree. 
On the whole, however, the announcement of this 
appointment was well received ; it was hailed with 
special favour by the great middle class, and it is 
perhaps not generally recognised how great was 
the direct influence it had in bringing them over 
to support the Conservative party. 

A few weeks later. Smith, writing to his old 
schoolfellow and friend the Rev. William (now 
Canon) Ince of Christ Church, says : — 

I am myself surprised at iny position when I compare 
it with the time to which you refer when we were both 
young together, and yet I can say most confidently that I 
never set to work aiming at personal advancement in the 
slightest degree. One circumstance has led to another, 
and I have gradually found myself of more account in 
men's eyes, simply from doing the work of the day as it 
presented itself to me. 

Smith found it necessary, on taking oflice, to 
give up a part of the active share he had taken 

A.D. 1874.] RESIGNS S.P.C.K. 259 

ill philanthropic schemes. Among others, he re- 
signed his post as one of the Treasurers of the 
Society for the Promotion of Christian Know- 
ledge, which he had held for seven years ; but 
he remained Treasurer of the London Diocesan 
Council for the Welfare of Young Men from its 
foundation until his death. 










If the result of the general election had come 
as a surprise, not less unexpected was its im- 
mediate effect upon the Minister who was re- 
sponsible for having brought it about. Members 
of the Liberal Ojoposition were filled with dismay 
one morning — March 13, 1874 — on taking up their 
newspapers at the j)urport of a letter addressed 
by Mr Gladstone, their leader in the House of 
Commons, to Lord Granville, their leader in the 
House of Lords. 


At my age [it ran] I must reserve my entire freedom to 
divest myself of all the responsibilities of leadership at 
no distant time. ... I should be desirous, shortly before 
the commencement of the session of 1875, to consider 
whether there would be advantage in my placing my 
services for a time at the disposal of the Liberal Party, or 
whether I should claim exemption from the duties I have 
hitherto discharged. 

Now Mr Gladstone was at that time but 
sixty-four, a period of life certainly not beyond 
the normal limits of parliamentary activity, his 
health was understood to be unimpaired, and 
the only construction to be placed upon this 
precipitate act was that he was suffering from 
chagrin, if not from pique, at the overthrow 
of his party. It cannot, indeed, have been 
pleasant for him to reflect that, in dealing 
with the Irish Church and in pressing the 
Ballot Act through the House of Commons, he 
had, in order to secure support for his party, 
thrown overboard principles which he had 
cherished through many years of jDublic life, 
and that, after all this sacrifice, he had failed 
of his reward. Of course the gr-ain to Minis- 
terialists was proportionate to the confusion 
caused by this announcement in the ranks of 
their opponents. A leaderless Opposition is a 
transcendental state of parties which a Prime 
Minister may see in his dreams, but hardly 

262 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [jet. 48. 

ever hope to see realised. There was the more 
reason for latitude for this unlooked-for dis- 
pensation, because Ministers could not but be 
conscious that they came on the boards with- 
out any very dazzling or seductive programme. 
The Chancellor of the Exchequer had inherited 
a large surplus from his predecessors, and some- 
thing might be expected in the way of Income- 
Tax reduction and relief of Local Taxation. 
But gratitude for relief from taxation is alto- 
gether out of proportion to the unpopularity 
incurred when it is necessary to increase it, and 
already the 023position press was clamorous for 
a programme. Where are the measures of the 
new Government ? they asked, and made reply 
themselves, that, like snakes in Iceland, there 
were none. 

But indeed the country was only too glad to 
be spared fresh legislation of the heroic kind. 
Trade was active ; prices were good ; to the 
farmers, if some of them had already descried 
American competition in the offing, it seemed 
no bigger than a man's hand. Nobody wanted 
Ministers to devise an exciting programme of 
new laws. Disraeli's tact was equal to the 
occasion : the Opposition was downcast and 
perplexed, he was careful to give them no 
point on which they could rally. The word 

A.D. 1874.] THE RITUALISTS. 263 

was passed along the Conservative benches 
that thev were to treat their opponents with 
forbearance — no more taunts about " plunder- 
inof and blunderino- " no more recriminations, 
no challenges to fruitless trials of strength. 

It so turned out that the principal subject 
of debate during the session of 1874 w^as a 
measure for which the Government were not 
originallv responsible. The change which had 
taken place in the outward forms and cere- 
monies in some conoreg-ations of the Church of 
England were the development of the Trac- 
tarian movement at Oxford thirty years before. 
With certain priests and people a taste for 
highlv ornate ritual had made great advances ; 
indeed, it was hard to reconcile some of the 
observances — prayers to the Virgin Mary and 
to saints, auricular confession, jorocessions, elab- 
orate vestments — with the spirit and laws of 
the English Protestant Church. Accordingly 
the Archbishop of Canterbury — moved thereto 
by a petition signed by more than 60,000 
members of the Church of Eno-land — introduced 
a bill into the House of Lords on April 20, 
conferring powers on the Bishops to control 
such practices as might be complained of in 
their dioceses. 

The bill met with opposition from all quarters. 

264 LIFE OF IF. H. SMITH. [.et. 48. 

Lord Shaftesburv. as a Low Churchman, would 
have none of it : he objected to the proposal to 
increase the power of the Bishops. 

AVhy, in some respects, my lords [he said], the better a 
Bishop is as a Bishop, the less qualified he would be to 
act as a calm and dispassionate judge. 

Lord Salisbury, as a High Churchman, speak- 
ing for the Government, disclaimed responsil:>ility 
either for the bill or for the moment chosen to 
move a difficult question, and declared that the 
Government would be impartial. But he allowed 
it to appear pretty clearly how he would have 
treated the measure had he been free to take 
his own line with it : — 

If you legislate without solving this problem : if you dis- 
regard this condition : if you attempt to drive from the 
Church of England any one of the parties of which it is 
composed : if you tamper with the spirit of toleration of 
which she is the embodiment — you will produce a con- 
vulsion in the Church, and imperil the interests of the 
State itself. 

Eventually, however, it passed through the 
House of Lords w^ithout a division. 

In the Commons the second reading was 
moved by Mr Russell Gurney. Meanwhile the 
agitation outside Parliament was growing fast, 
both in favour of and against the bill. Most 


of Mr Smith's constituents who wrote to him 
on the subject (and they were exceedingly 
numerous) strongly urged that he should vote 
aofainst it. 

The most remarkable feature of the debate 
was the reappearance of Mr Gladstone in the 
House in order to offer the bill uncompromising 
hostility, and the conflict which ensued between 
him and Sir William Harcourt, who supported 
it, and vehemently contested the arguments of 
his late leader.^ 

' Ml* Gladstone, in the com-se of his speech, bestowed a prolonged 
castigation on Sir William Harcourt, and the spectacle of these 
two distinguished members of the Opposition sparring with each 
other was of the sort to give unmixed pleasure to Ministerialists. 

"I cannot say," said Mr Gladstone, "that the three canons of 
good taste, good feeling, and courtesy which we are accustomed 
here to regard, and which may be very old-fashioned, are entirely 
conformable to those of my hon. and learned friend [Harcourt], and 
therefore it is better I should decline the controversy, and rest 
under all the disadvantafje which must necessarily attach to me 
if I forbear to traverse the arguments and jDropositions he has 
formally advanced. . . . He says he abhors vituperation, no doubt ; 
but how does he define vituperation 1 Is it perfectly consistent 
with that declaration that he should describe language used ' else- 
where ' as ' ill-advised railing of a rash and rancorous tongue ' ? If 
so, a gentleman who wishes to avoid vituperation, and at the same 
time wishes to indulge in those feelings which are commonly sup- 
posed to produce vituperation, may derive comfort from the thought 
that he will not vituperate though he may say anything he likes 
about the railing of rash and rancorous tongues. 

" The fact is, that my hon. and learned friend is still in bis 
parliamentary youth, and has not yet sown his parliamentary wild- 
oats. When he has done it, I have not the smallest doubt that all 
the great powers he has displayed — and there is no person who has 

260 LIFE OF TV. H. SMITE. [jet. A8. 

The tone of the debate on the first night was 
one which Disraeh was not slow to appreciate : 
there was evidently an immense preponderance 
of opinion in favour of the bill, and this, intensi- 
fied by Mr Gladstone's denunciation of it, gave 
the Prime Minister his cue. When the debate 
was resumed on the second day, he spoke de- 
cidedly in support of the bill, and practically 
announced its adoption by the Government. 

Mr Gladstone had chosen to meet the motion 
for Second Reading by giving notice of six Reso- 
lutions hostile to the bill ; but so little was he 
in touch with his own party at this time, that it 
was not until Mr Hussev Vivian had warned him 
in his speech that if he proceeded with these 
resolutions he would not have the support of 
twenty members on his own side of the House, 
that he consented to abandon them. Then the 
opposition collapsed, and the bill passed without 
a division. In Committee an amendment was 
adopted by a large majority on the motion of Mr 

seen his development and exhibition with greater satisfaction than 
I iiave — ^will be found to be combined with a degree of temper, a 
deo-ree of wisdom, a degree of consideration for the feelings of 
others, a degree of strictness and vigour in stating and restating the 
arguments of opponents, and, in fact, with a consummate attain- 
ment of every political virtue, that will make my hon. and learned 
friend outshine and eclipse all former notabilities of Parliament 
as much as he promises to eclipse them in his great ability and 


Holt, giving complainants the right of appeal 
from Bishops to the Archbishop, which was rather 
roughlv handled on the bill returning to the 
Upper House. Lord Salisbury took a strong line 
about it, dealing with it more in his old manner 
of an independent and merciless opponent than 
as a member of a Cabinet which was virtually 
promoting the measure. " I for one," he said, 
" utterly repudiate the bugbear of a majority in 
the House of Commons." Their lordships dis- 
agreed with the amendment of the Commons on 
this clause, and in the debate arising on this 
difference of opinion between the two Houses, 
Disraeli was at no pains to conceal that he dif- 
fered in opinion from his colleagues in the other 
Chamber. He said : " The bill was intended to 
put down Ritualism, and by Ritualism he meant 
the practices of a certain portion of the clergy, 
symbolical — according to their own admission — of 
doctrines which they were solemnly bound to 
renounce." He urged the House to keep this 
point in view, and not to deal with the question 
with a view to the elements of the majority in 
the House of Lords. 

Smith settled steadily into harness at the 
Treasury. Early training made those long office 
hours, which so severely try the endurance of 

268 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [^x. 48. 

men broui^ht up to habits of country life and 
foreign travel, comparatively easy to him. He 
had, however, to encounter one piece of bad luck, 
which brought U23on him a sharp rebuke from 
his leader. After a long morning at the Treas- 
ury and some hours' attendance in the House, 
the hard - worked Financial Secretarv, seeing: 
matters going smoothly in the House, and reck- 
oning on the usual forbearance of the Opposi- 
tion not to divide durinof the dinner-hour, went 
quietly home for an hour or two in the evening. 
A snap division was taken, and the Government 
was beaten. Next mornino- Smith received the 
following reproof: — 

10 Downing Street, Whitehall, 
May 2, 1874. 

Mr Disraeli presents liis compUments to Mr W. H. 
Smith, aiid much regrets to observe that he was absent 
on the division which took place last evening at eight 
o'clk., on the motion of Mr Synan ; on which occasion her 
Majesty's Government was, by reason of the absence of its 
members, placed in a minority ; and he would beg leave 
to point out how difficult it must become to carry on a 
Government which cannot reckon on the attendance and 
support of its members. 

To this the Secretary to the Treasury replied : — : 

I have only two words to say with reference to your 
note of Saturday, and which I own was both just and 
necessary. I was excessively annoyed at my absence 


from the Division, and I can fully enter into your feelings 
of vexation. 

If I had supposed it possible tliat a division could be 
taken, I should have been in my place ; but I shall take 
very good care to avoid the recurrence of such a mortifi- 
cation so long as I remain a member of the Government. 

Ill his immediate chief, Sir Stafford Northcote, 
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Smith's lot was cast 
with one with whom it was easy for him to work 
on terms of perfect accord. Sir Stafford was not 
less distinguished by personal amiability than by 
capacity for financial business, and the combina- 
tion of these two qualities was present in a re- 
markable degree in both these men. The lot 
which l:)rought them together in the same depart- 
ment formed the foundation of an intimate friend- 
ship which lasted unimpaired till the death of 
Northcote in 1887. 

Smith passed the last day of 1874 at Bourne- 
mouth, where Disraeli had summoned him to con- 
sult about the business of the approaching session. 
Thence he wrote to his wife :— 

Bath Hotel, Bournemouth, 
31si! Dec. 1874. 

I have a good fire in my bedroom, and a good sitting- 
room, which I share with Mr Corry. Mr Disraeli came 
in to see me for a few minutes, and to tell me there was 
another king in Europe — a King of Spain. He was very 
pleasant and cheerful. We are all to dine together to- 

270 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [^t. 49. 

night — Disraeli, the Lord Chancellor, and Northcote, who 
has not yet come, having missed his train, poor fellow. 
To-morrow I dine with Lord Cairns at his house. I have 
just called on Lord Sandon. . . . 

Jan. 1, 1875. 

We had a pleasant party at dinner — Lord Cairns, North- 
cote, Dizzy, and Corry — and I think the purpose for which 
I was asked to come will be attained. At 11, when we 
parted, Disraeli said, " Well, we have been holding a 
Cabinet Council, and we must meet again to-morrow 
morning." I am expecting Lord Cairns and Northcote 
about 11 to go into details, and in the evening we dine 
together at Lord Cairns's. 

January is a busy month at the Treasury pre- 
paring for the work in Parliament, and the busiest 
man in that department is always the Financial 

Treasuky, Jan. 12, 1875. 

I travelled up very comfortably, and guards and station- 
master were all very civil to Mr Smith, who seems to be 
too well known. ... At Bristol I found Xorthcote in the 
train. He was very cheery. To-day I have seen Disraeli 
and Hunt. D. looks well and happy. ... I am going 
now at 5 (or 6) to see Cross, and I shall have another hour 
and a half before I leave. I am, I think, better — less stiff. 
Work agrees with me. 

Jan. 13. 

I have had a busy day, commencing at 9.30 with G. at 
Hyde Park St., and going on without cessation up to the 
present time, 6 p.m., and I shall have at least another hour 


of it ; but much of the work is very interesting, and so are 
the men who come to me. To-day, Sir John Duffus 
Hardy, Dr Hooker, Mr Goulburn, Sir Geo. Elliot, Mr 
Few, and a heap besides. 

Jan. 14. 

All well, but dirty, dull, depressing, damp, dyspeptic 
weather. Everybody cross and grumpy except Cross. . . . 
The work accumulates, but I think I am driving through 
it, and I shall be glad to get down to you for a few days. 

In order to realise the state of parties at the 
opening of the session of 1875, reference must be 
made to events arising^ out of the debates on Hit- 
ualism. After his intervention in these, Mr Glad- 
stone had retired for some time from active parti- 
cipation in affairs ; but he returned to the contro- 
versv in the autumn bv contributino^ an article to 
the ' Contemporary Review ' for October, in which 
he passionately protested against the attempt to 
impose uniformity of practice upon the clergy of 
the Church of England by legislation. The fol- 
lowing passage brought upon him earnest and 
even angry remonstrance from Roman Catholics 
of hiofh standinof : — 

As to the question whether a handful of clergy are or 
are not engaged in an utterly hopeless and visionary 
effort to Eomanise the Church and the people of England, 
at no time since the bloody reign of Mary has such a 
scheme been possible. But if it had been possible in the 
seventeenth or eighteenth centuries, it would still have 

272 LIFE OF IF. H. SMITH. [jet. 49. 

become impossible in the nineteenth; when Rome has 
substituted for the proud boast of semper eadem a policy 
of violence and change in faith ; when she has refurbished 
and paraded anew every rusty tool she was fondly thought 
to have disused ; when no one can become her convert 
without renouncing his moral and mental freedom, and 
placing his civil loyalty and duty at the mercy of another ; 
and when she has equally repudiated modern thought and 
ancient history. I cannot persuade myself to feel alarm 
as to the final issue of her crusades in Enoland, and this 
although I do not undervalue her great power for mischief. 

Mr Gladstone plunged further and deeper into 
the sea of polemical theology by following up this 
essay by his celebrated pamphlet, entitled ' The 
Vatican Decrees in their bearingf on Civil Alleo-i- 
ance,' in which h.e amplified and strengthened the 
charges made in the ' Contemporary ' article, espe- 
cially insisting that " no one can now become a 
convert to Home without renouncinof his moral 
and mental freedom, and placing his civil loyalty 
and duty at the mercy of the Pope." 

Well miofht Sir Georo'e Bowver write to the 
' Times ' reminding the people of England that 
four years and some months had passed since the 
Vatican Council had passed the Decree of Infalli- 
bility.^ and that during that time, until February 

^ An amusing story went the rounds of Mr Black, at that time 
member for Edinburgh. At the meeting of Parliament he went to 
shake hands with the Speaker, who asked him where he had spent 
his holidays. " I have been to Eome, Mr Speaker," replied Mr 


1874, Mr Gladstone had been First Minister of 
the Crown, and glad to receive the support of 
Roman Catholics in Parliament and in the 

Why did he not [asked Sir George], in his place in the 
House of Commons, call attention to the portentous 
matters which he published last Saturday regarding the 
effect of the decrees of that Council on the allegiance of 
her Majesty's Eoman Catholic subjects and the security 
of the realm ? Why did he not propose some measure to 
Parliament calculated to meet the dangers which now 
alarm him ? During all the time referred to he held his 
peace, and he gladly received Koman Catholic support in 
Parliament and the country. 

While the storm of this controversy was still 
raging, there took place w^hat most people looked 
on as the fall of the curtain on a remarkable 
public career. Shortly before the meeting of 
Parliament for the session of 1875 a letter ad- 
dressed by Mr Gladstone to Lord Granville 
appeared in the newspapers, announcing that he 
could " see no public advantage in my continuing 
to act as the leader of the Liberal party, and that 
at the age of sixty-five, and after forty-two years 
of a laborious public life, I think myself entitled 

Black, •who spoke with a strong Scots accent, " and I had an inter- 
view with the Pope." " Indeed, and what did he say to you ? " 
"Oh, he just said, ' How are ye, Mr Black I I understand you are 
a member of the Scottish Parliament.' Now, isn't it ridiculous to 
talk of that man being infallible ? " 

VOL, I. S 

274 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [mt. 49. 

to retire on the present opportunity. This retire- 
ment is dictated to me by my personal views as 
to the best method of spending the closing years 
of my life." The question was urgent, Who was 
to follow Mr Gladstone as leader of the Liberal 
party ? If the journals of that day are referred 
to, it will be seen that opinion was divided be- 
tween Mr Forster, Mr Goschen, and Lord Hart- 
ington. A meeting to decide on a choice was 
held at the Reform Club on February 3, which 
resulted in the election of Lord Hartingfton to the 

Meanwhile, work at the Treasury went on as 
steadily as if none of those great controversial 
storms were raging. John Hill Burton, in his 
amusing ' Book-Hunter,' remarks on the un- 
expected fun which a reader lights upon some- 
times in unexpected places, and illustrates this 
by an anecdote of a law student who, consulting 
an index to a work on legal decisions, was 
attracted by the words — "Best, Mr Justice, his 
great mind." Anticipating an instance of con- 
spicuous magnanimity on the bench, he turned up 
the passage referred to, and found — " Mr Justice 
Best said he had a great mind to commit the wit- 
ness for prevarication." Even so, one struggling 
through the jungle of papers which accumulate in 
the drawers of the Financial Secretary finds, from 


time to time, examples of unconscious humour. 
Of these are some of the various proposals made 
by ingenious individuals with the object of assist- 
ing the Chancellor of the Exchequer out of his 
difficulties in framing a popular Budget. Thus in 
1875 came a letter explaining a scheme which the 
writer says has been " uppermost in his mind for 
some time," He proposes to meet the deficit of 
£700,000 by a tax on hunting-men I Needless to 
say that the writer was not a hunting-man, but 
quite eager to 

" Compound for sports he was inclined for 
By taxing those he had no mind for." 

The deficit referred to was caused by the scheme 
of a Sinking Fund for the gradual liquidation of 
the National Debt, with which Sir StaflPord North- 
cote's name will for many years to come be asso- 
ciated. As Northcote exjDressed himself in ex- 
plaining his proposal to the House — 

" I think we have arrived at a time when we may 
fairly say that, having the means, we ought to devote 
some of our attention and some of our wealth to a con- 
tinuous effort to reduce the National Debt." 

Under this scheme the total charge to be pro- 
vided annually for the interest and redemption 
of the debt was fixed at £28,000,000, whereby 
the Chancellor of the Exchequer calculated that 
in ten years £6,800,000 would be paid off; in 

276 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [.et. 50. 

thirty years, £213,000,000. That it has proved 
a sound and far-sighted proposal cannot now be 
disputed ; at the same time it must be admitted 
that its weakness is the temptation it leaves to 
every succeeding Finance Minister to suspend the 
payment to the Sinking Fund in years of leanness. 
It is so much easier to stop paying off debt than 
to levy new taxes. 

The Budget was introduced on 15th April, and 
in moving it Northcote paid a high compliment 
to the Financial Secretary, alluding to the energy 
and capacity for business he had shown in the 
examination of estimates submitted to the 
Treasury, and acknowledging the care and 
ability with which he had discharged his 

The best part of this session was taken up by 
lengthy and angry discussions on the Peace 
Preservation Bill, which the increasing disaffection 
and lawlessness of Ireland m.ade it necessary to 
pass. Sir Stafford Northcote carried his Act for 
the regulation of Friendly Societies, the outcome 
of the Report of the Royal Commission ; and the 
only other measure which calls for sj)ecial notice 
as the work of Mr Disraeli's Cabinet is the Agri- 
cultural Holdings Act, for the purpose of giving 
the tenant better security for capital invested by 
him in the soil. It was but a permissive statute, 


but its acceptance by both Houses marked a new 
departure in land legislation, by reason that it 
indorsed a novel principle, the application of 
which has since been made compulsory. 

In December the Secretary to the Treasury 
paid an official visit to Edinburgh and another 
to Dublin. As was his invariable custom, he 
kept Mrs Smith informed of the most minute 
details of his proceedings. 

Edinburgh, Dec. 2, 1875. 
I have had a sort of levde. I dined last night with Sir 
James Elphinstone, and this morning he breakfasted with 
me. Then came the Lord Advocate and the Lord Clerk 
Eegister. At 11 I was carried off to the Eegistry House 
and prosed to by Antiquarian Eecord-keepers. After that 
the Lord Advocate carried me off to his offices, and then I 
went to the Queen's and Lord Treasurer's Eemembrancer. 
I have seen the manager of two Banks doing Government 
business, and now I am collecting myself by writing to 
you. 1 give a dinner to-night to five heads of depart- 
ments, at which Sandon will be present. 

Dublin, Dec. 5. 
I telegraphed to you last night that we had reached 
Kingstown in safety. . . . We found wet snow in Dublin and 
frost in the Phoenix Park. At the station Beach ^ met us. 
. . . To-day we have been very busy, and now, 5.30, 1 fairly 
confess I am tired. We called on the Lord Lieutenant 
and have visited half-a-dozen public buildings, where we 
were received by the several officials. Talking and stand- 

1 The Eight Hon. Sir Michael Hicks Beach, at that time Chief 
Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. 

278 LIFE OF TF. H. SMITH. [jet. 50. 

ing for six hours consecutively has fairly tired us all. To- 
morrow I dine with the Lord Lieutenant, and on Thursday 

Beach has a dinner-party. 

Dec. 8. 

Another busy day, and we — Sandon, Beach, Donnelly, 
and I — are now at this moment consulting and settling 
the terms of transfer of some of the large Institutions of 
Government. . . . S., after dining with the Irish " King," ^ 
will go down to Kingstown to sleep on board the steamer 
and go across to-morrow morning early. I wish I could go 
with him, but I have yet a great deal of work to do, and 
as much as I shall get through during the next two days. 

The session of 1876, Disraeli's last session in 
the House of Commons, was opened by the Queen 
in person. The question which had occupied the 
most anxious thoug^hts of the Cabinet had been 
the proposed purchase by Great Britain of the 
Khedive of Egypt's shares in the Suez Canal, 
and Smith, thoug'h not in the Cabinet, was 
asked to give his opinion from the Treasury 
point of view. This he did in a minute, of 
which the following is the text, taken from a 
draft in his own writing : — 

Suez Canal. 

This is so large a question that it is rather one for the 
Government to consider than for a Department. 

Financially it is a proposal that England shall join the 
other Powers in guaranteeing a loan to keep the Suez 

1 Mr Kincf Harmaii. 


Canal open : the amount of the loan is estimated at one 
million or one million and a half, and it is suggested that 
the proportion to be borne by each Power should be regu- 
lated by the average of the tonnage of the guaranteeing 
nations passing through the Canal. Under this arrange- 
ment England would have to bear about 75 per cent of the 
burden, the other Maritime Nations bearing the remain- 
ing 25 per cent between them. But it would not be safe 
to calculate upon the largest amount as the measure of 
the responsibility of England if we go into the proposed 

It is to decide the points at issue and to hsive fidl poiver 
to conclude an arrangement ; it is to decide on the works 
necessary to be executed, and to fix the amount of the loan 
to defray their cost, and to sign a convention under which 
the Powers would guarantee the payment of interest and 
sinking fund in the event of the resources of the Company 
proving insufficient. 

There is so much uncertainty in the questions with 
which the Commission would have to deal, that it is 
utterly impossible for any one to foretell the financial re- 
sponsibility which may attach to the country which has 
the largest interest in maintaining the Canal. 

I entirely agree with the Chancellor of the Exchequer 
that it is of great political importance to this country to^ 
keep open the communication, and I should be inclined to 
think it was equally important to the Government of 
India. I believe the Canal to be of great value to the 
commercial interests of this country, and a very large 
amount has been invested in steam-shipping constructed 
to pass through it ; but if we do propose an international 
Commission with the large powers sketched by Lord 
Derby, the possible contingencies should be considered. 

There is no disclosure on these papers of the nature of 

280 LIFE OF TV. H. SMITH. [^t. 50. 

the proposals made to the Government by j\I. cle Lesseps, 
but it is clear that his views and those of Col. Ross, as to 
the measures to be taken to prevent the closing of Port 
Said, differ widely. M. de Lesseps shows throughout a 
strong sense of the rights of the Proprietors, and it is no 
doubt his object to obtain for them a satisfactory dividend. 
He is a power in this matter of at least equal importance 
to the countries represented in the Commission. The 
scheme is that a Commission representing the Powers 
shall see to the execution of certain works which they may 
decide to be necessary. Will not M. de Lesseps dissent 
from the views of this Commission, unless the Company 
obtains some guarantee of interest on their capital ? Will 
not the Commission, representing 12 Powers, of whom 11 
between them will incur the financial responsibility of only 
25 per cent of the whole amount to be guaranteed, readily 
conclude an arrangement leaving the burden of 75 per cent 
on the back of the 12th Power ? May not serious political 
complications arise out of this partnership ? We should be 
in the position of a man with money who had become the 
12th partner in a mine which only required a small outlay 
to make it productive. Our partners would go on spending 
"^ our money for us until we quarrelled with them. If it 
were possible for England to purchase the Canal outright, 
it would, in my judgment, be a safer financial and political 
operation than that which is now suggested. We should 
not be committed to an indefinite expenditure at the will 
of a practically irresponsible Commission : but I am aware 
that international jealousies would prevent anything of 
the sort, and it is useless to entertain the idea. 

I submit, however, that the information given in these 
papers is exceedingly meagre, and insufficient to qualify a 
committment off-hand of so serious a character as that 


Like his chief, Sir Stafford, Smith was op- -^ 
posed to the purchase of these shares ; but other 
counsels prevailed, the transaction was completed, 
and has proved to be a brilliantly successful 
investment for the nation.^ The bill necessary 
to obtain the money — £4,080,000 — was brought 
in by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and hotly 
opposed by two ex- Chancellors — Gladstone and 
Lowe. Northcote must have defended the policy 
of the bill with some misgiving and a good deal 
of secret sympathy with the "Treasury minds" 
of its opponents ; nevertheless, he did the work 
manfully, and when Gladstone declared that to^ 
spend the money of the nation in this way was 't-^' 
"an unprecedented thing" — "So is the Canal," 
retorted Northcote. 

Another measure — popularly supposed to be 
the offspring of Disraeli's romantic genius — took 

^ On June 16, 1893, a question was put in the House of Commons ^^ 
to the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir "W. Harcourt) as to the 
present state of the account between this country and the vendors 
of the Suez Canal shares. The reply of the right hon. gentleman 
was an eloquent, though perhaps involuntary, tribute to the sagacity 
of Lord Beaconsfield. It was made to the following effect : — 

Price- paid in 1875 £4,000,000. 

Present value 17,750,000. 

Amount of purchase-money now paid off . . 3,805,000. 

Date at which we shall begin to draw dividend, July 1894. 

Dividends payable dui'ing last three years, 17, 21, and 18 per cent. 

Proportion of British tonnage to whole tonnage using Canal, 75 
per cent. 

282 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [^t. 50. 

np a deal of time out of all proportion to its 
importance. It was proposed to recognise retro- 
spectively the transfer of the Government of 
India from the defunct East India Company to 
the Crown, by adding to her Majesty's titles that 
of Empress of India. There seemed really no 
reason for doing so at the precise time selected 
more than at any other, except that the Govern- 
ment happened to be without any other import- 
ant work on hand ; but the Opposition lashed 
themselves into a fine frenzy over the bill, and 
aofain the leaders of the attack on it were Glad- 
stone and Lowe. The debates were much pro- 
tracted, but people in the country showed small 
interest in what was little more than academic 
discussion and forensic hair-splitting. 

More serious in its ultimate results was the 
organisation and activity of the Home Rule 
party under Mr Butt, with Messrs Parnell, 
Biggar, O'Donnell, and Cailan as lieutenants. 
Both the great parties united in resisting the 
motion for Home Bule, and there was no diffi- 
culty in throwing it out by a majority of more 
than four to one ; but for the first time the Irish 
Nationalists showed a cohesion and power of 
debate, destined to make them the formidable 
factor in Imperial politics which they have since 
become. One of their number, Mr P. J. Smythe, 

A.D. 1876.] THE BURIALS BILL. 283 

enjoyed a gift of eloquence which national fire 
and classical elegance combined to distinguish 
beyond his colleagues ; and he used it to some 
purpose, for the Government were placed in a 
minority of 57 on his motion for closing Irish 
public-houses on Sunday. 

Ministers opposed a measure — Mr Osborne 
Morgan's Burials Bill — and threw it out, which, 
a few months later, they were to include in their 
own programme. Doubtless it became known to 
them after the division that party allegiance, not 
private conviction, had secured to them the sup- 
port of many of their own followers in rejecting 
a measure which made it lawful for Nonconfor- 
mists to perform their services in Church of 
England burial-grounds, and probably some of 
Smith's Liberal sympathy, though he dutifully 
voted "No," lay in the "Aye" lobby. Later in 
the session a resolution to the same effect was 
moved in the House of Lords, in supporting 
which Lord Selborne uttered a sentence worthy 
of commemoration. Resisting- the aro^uments of 
those who opposed the opening of churchyards to 
Dissenters, because of the injustice of invading 
the property of the Church of England, he said — 

I am not one of those who say fiat justitia, mat ccelum, 
for I tliink the heavens are more likely to fall upon our 
heads if we do not do justice than if we do it. 

284 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [mt. 51. 

Left in London to finish up the work of the 
session when his family went to Greenlands, 
Smith kept up the usual constant correspondence 
with his wife : — 

House of Commons, August 7. 
One line, because it is pleasant to write to you, and to 
think a Httle of home in the hurry and bustle of work. 
... I am sitting at the Table of the House listening to 
Northcote defending the Suez Canal Bill. . . . 

August 10. 

Everything went on well yesterday at the Whitebait 
Dinner ; both Disraeli and the Lord Chancellor appeared 
and spoke. The evening was most lovely, and the lights 
very pretty on the river ; no doubt you are better off at 
Greenlands, but happily we can enjoy things as they pass. 

Smith spent part of SejDtember and October 
visiting ships and dockyards with Mr Ward 
Hunt, First Lord of the Admiralty ; and the 
repose at Greenlands which he so earnestly longed 
for was further curtailed by work at the Treasury 
during the autumn sittings of the Cabinet. 

Treasury, November 24. 
I was very sorry to be obliged to run away from you, 
. . . but I think it was my duty to come here, and the 
moment I arrived Northcote sent for me and kept me dis- 
cussing business for an hour. The Cabinet then met, and 
they have adjourned without fixing any future meeting, 
so that if I had not been here I should have been wantinsf 
in some parts of my work. 


November 28. 

Another busy day, but each clay's work now leaves 
less to be done, and there is great satisfaction in getting 
through work. 

N"orthcote goes away on Saturday, so I shall have much 
less to do afterwards, as all talking with him will come to 
an end. 

December 6. 

I have had a busy day again, and have had several long 
interviews, which have left me short time to write. Such a 
mixture of Post Office, Eevenue, Exchequer Bills, Foreign 
Affairs, Kew Gardens, S. Kensington, Eoyal Society ! My 
mind is very like the cross readings on a wall or a screen 
covered with scraps. 

December 18. 

I have been holding a levee to-day, or, as ladies would 
say, I have " received," until at last I am tired of talking. 
I hope things look peaceful, and at all events that we 
shall not be engaged in war. The Cabinet are cheerful. 

December 19. 

I have been prowling about looking for presents, but 
I have not satisfied myself yet. It really is difficult work. 
I am fearino- I mav not be able to get down to-morrow 
night. ... I have had such a stream of people here one 
after another, and so many difficulties to smooth over, that 
I have not got on with my work as I hoped, and I do not 
want to have a quantity sent down to me. 

I have been engaged incessantly up to this moment 
(6.40) by a succession of men and work, all wanting a last 
word or touch before Christmas. ... I think I have 
bought everything excepting the cane, but I shall come 
down laden with parcels like a Father to-morrow. 














As the session of 1876 moved to a close, affairs 
began to wear an unprosperous aspect for the 
Administration. The Porte had been in difficul- 
ties with its subjects in Servia, Montenegro, and 
Bulgaria, and in the repression of insurrection in 
the last - named country Turkish officials had 
shown a ferocity which quickly aw^akened sym- 
pathy in this country for the sufferers. Party 
politicians are ever on the outlook for any oc- 
currence, however remote, which may be turned 


to the disadvantage of their opjDonents, and in 
the Bulgarian atrocities Liberals were not slow 
to discern their opportunity. Conservative policy- 
had ever favoured the strengthening of Turkey 
as a bulwark aofainst the southward advance of 
Russia, therefore the Conservative Government 
must be called to account for the proceedings in 
Bulgaria. Mr Evelyn Ashley took the oppor- 
tunity afforded, according to immemorial usage, 
by the Third Beading of the Appropriation Bill — 
always the closing act of the session — to call 
attention to this matter, and it was in reply to 
him that Mr Disraeli made his last speech in 
the House of Commons. Next morjiinof it was 
announced that he had been summoned to the 
House of Lords with the title of Earl of Beacons- 
field.^ It had been known that his health had 
been severely strained by the more arduous con- 
ditions under which the House of Commons had 
begun to conduct its proceedings, and no one 
was surprised that he had decided to bring to 
a close his service of forty - three years as a 

^ TTie secret had been •well kept, for Disraeli loved coups de 
theatre. Mr EveljTi Ashley happened to meet one of Disraeli's 
private secretaries, Mr J. Daly, on the morning after the debate, 
before the latter had seen the morning papers. " Well," said Mr 
Ashley, " you see I drew your chief for his last speech in the 
House of Commons, and he has had to take refuge in the Lords." 
It was the first intimation received by Mr Daly of the intention of 

288 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [mt. 51. 

member of that House. His place as leader of 
the House of Commons was taken by Sh^ Stafford 

The anti - Turkish agitation continued with 
g-reat vehemence durino- the autumn. Indimia- 
tion meetings were held in St James's Hall and 
in the country, urging the Government to inter- 
pose on behalf of the oppressed nationalities. 

On September 8, Smith wrote from Greenlands 
to the Prime Minister : — ■ 

Dear Lord Beaconsfield, — I cannot help saying I am 
very sorry to have to address you in this way, but yet I 
am satisfied the step you have taken was absolutely right 
and necessary, if we were to retain your guidance and 
direction, for I am sure you could not have borne the 
strain of another session in the House of Commons. 

We shall, however, miss you very much, and the night 
will be dull and triste without you. 

To say this, however, was not my intention in writing. 
I was asked to-day to go to a meeting at Slough to sup- 
port Mr Fremantle, but I thought it better not to go, as 
in the present critical condition of affairs I could hardly 
have avoided reference to the East, and I do not feel I 
have either the information or authority to speak. 

In the present excited state of the public mind, one 
might easily say too little to satisfy one's friends at home, 
and too much for the difficult work in which the Foreign 
Office is engaged. 

It is very possible I may be asked again, but I shall re- 
frain unless I have a hint from you. 

If at any time you wish to see me, I can easily drive 


across the country on receiving a note or a telegram ; but 
I am at the Treasury, for the present, on Mondays and 
Thursdays. — Believe me, yours very truly, 

W. H. Smith. 

The Earl op Beaconsfield. 

Perhaps precipitate folly and sagacious forbear- 
ance could not be brought into sharper contrast 
than in the utterances of two persons represent- 
ing opposite views on this question. " Perish 
our English interests," shrieked Mr Freeman in 
St James's Hall, " and our dominion in India," 
rather than we should protect the abomination 
of Turkish rule. Baroness Burdett Coutts, on 
the other hand, than whom no individual has 
ever shown wiser capacity for administering to 
the wants of her fellow - creatures out of her 
opulence, wrote to excuse herself from attending 
a meeting at the Guildhall on September 18, 
and employed words which, by their dignity and 
thoughtfulness, deserve a high place in political 

If the voice of England be potential and can influence 
the world's destiny, such a consideration should make us 
very careful as to how far and for what definite results 
the voice of the people shall be raised. As one of them, 
I feel the responsibility which rests upon us very strongly. 
Naturally, as a woman, I must be timid as to the result 
of this great agitation. I earnestly pray that in the 
measures taken to alleviate distress we may be calmly 

VOL. I. T 

290 LIFE OF JV. H. SMITH. [^t. 50. 

led, and not increase, rather than diminish, the distress 
of nations by urging on the Government an amount of 
interference better calculated, perhaps, to light than to 
extinguish a firebrand — a firebrand which may pass far 
beyond Europe, or might even come near our own dear 

Mr Gladstone, who in taking part in the de- 
bates on Eastern affairs had maintained an atti- 
tude generally favourable to Lord Derby's Eastern 
policy, and had undertaken a defence of the 
policy which led to the Crimean War, suddenly 
dashed into the fray, unable, it would seem, to 
resist the opportunity of taking- the Government 
at a disadvantage. He published an article in 
the ' Contemporary Review ' advocating the ex- 
pulsion of the "unspeakable Turk, bag and bag- 
gage," from Europe. The country Avas moved 
in such sort as to make intelligible the fervour 
which, in an age generally supposed to be less 
enlightened, made the crusades possible. 

Retrospect upon these excited times must lead 
men to credit Lord Beaconsfield with a singular 
degree of courage in adhering to a line of policy 
which for the moment was widely unpopular. 
He believed, and he manfully declared, that the 
interest and honour of this country were alike 
involved in refraining from embarrassing Turkey, 


and before very long the tide turned in favour 
of a temperate and forbearing policy. People 
who had been carried away by the heat of Mr 
Gladstone's invective beo-an to reflect for them- 
selves. Several Liberals of standing — among 
others the Duke of Somerset, Mr Forster, who -^ 
had lately returned from the East, and Lord 
Fitzwilliam — pronounced firmly against the " bag- 
and-baggage " scheme ; and it was announced by 
the Prime Minister that a Conference of the 
Powers was to be held at Constantinople, at 
which Great Britain would be represented by 
Lord Salisburv. 

The popular understanding of the Bulgarian 
difficulties was not without its effect upon the 
majority of the Government in the House of 
Commons. By the time Parliament met for the^ ' 
session of 1877, five seats had been lost to the 
Conservatives at by - elections. But there the 
reaction was stayed ; and although the Con- 
stantinople Conference had failed, and Lord 
Salisbury was on his way home before the 
Queen's Speech was delivered, the Government 
were able to enter upon the parliamentary cam- 
paign without serious apprehension. Mr Glad- 
stone's motion of want of confidence in Ministers 
was rejected by a majority of 131 votes. 

292 LIFE OF IV. H. SMITH. [mt. 51. 

On April 5, the Financial^ Secretary wrote to 
the Prime Minister : — 

Dear Loed Beaconsfield, — I hope you will be satis- 
fied with our financial work. 

The Chancellor of the Exchequer will have a surphis 
of £440,000 on the past year, and a safe estimate of the 
revenue for the coming year will give a small surplus 
over the expenditure without any increase of taxation. 
As this result is not expected out of doors, it will, I 
think, be the more satisfactory to our friends and to the 
country. — Yours very truly, W. H. Smith. 

The note from the Prime Minister in reply was 
one of those rewards which come to lig-hten a life 
of conscientious toil : — 

HUGHENDEN Manor, April 7, 77. 

My dear Mr Smith, — I thank you for your Budget 
Eeport, & heartily congratulate you & the country on the 
result. After forty years' experience of parliamentary 
life, I can sincerely say that I never knew the affairs of 
the Treasury conducted with more thorough sense & effi- 
ciency than wdiile they have been under your management 
& control. — Yours sincerely, Beaconsfield. 

During all his foreign tours, it was Smith's 
practice to send to some correspondent at home 
letters forming a consecutive itinerary. As is 
usually the case in such literature, much of the 
interest is ephemeral ; but a few passages may be 
quoted from his description of a visit to Nor- 
mandy which he paid with Mrs Smith in the 

A.D. 1877.J VISIT TO FRANCE. 293 

Whitsuntide recess of this year. In it he en- 
deavoured, with but partial success, to pose as 
an unwillino- victim, and the document is en- 

The Journal or a Discontented Man. 

May 18. — My wife insists on a little holiday, and I 
must go with her. Where will I go ? What trouble ! 
I do not care : just where you please : only decide. Well, 
then, we will go to ISTormandy. I ask for a deck cabin : 
they are all engaged. I go out to get some money, and 
my eyes and mouth are filled with dust and dirt. The 
high wind must make dirty weather in the Channel, and 
the boat is sure to be crowded, No deck cabin, no shel- 
ter ; how miserable we shall be ! 

We started. A crowd in Eesrent Street. Bohren's cab 
with the luggage is passed — the man driving slowly. He 
is sure to be late. We arrived first at the station, and 

instantly fall on the E s, who are also off to France for 

a holiday. It is impossible to be alone. We talked, and 
then — weary of each other — three out of the four fall 
asleep. I became more composed when I reflected on 
the miseries of friendship and of society. 

On board the steamer came a crowd, all of whom were 
disagreeable to me, and some particularly so. I had 
deposited my wife on the sofa in the ladies' cabin and 
secured a sheltered seat for myself, when the steward 
came and intreated me to give it up for a lady. Of course 
I consented ; what tyrannical power attaches to this fan- 
atical subserviency to the sex-female. Why should not 
a man retain a comfortable seat when he had once got it ? 
. . . Ilalf-way across, the lady tottered up from her seat 
in some sort of trouble and made a rush for the cabin. 

294 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [jet. 51. 

Presently the gentlemen sitting on either side of me 
groaned and began to kneel on the seat with their heads 
doing homage to the sea. . . . We got into harbour 
nearly an hour late of course, and of course the water was 
low and we were landed near the end of the jetty. When 
is the water hiG;h at Calais ? . . . 

May 19. — The lumbering carts bringing in market 
people filled my disturbed sleep with dreams, until I 
fairly woke under the influence of the horrible cries of a 
quiet street in Calais. If half-a-dozen old women w^ere 
being squeezed to death, the screaming could hardly be 
worse. My wife however slept like an Angel, as I am 
sometimes inclined to think she is, so I smothered my 
resentment against the sea, breakfasted, and descended into 
the street for a cigar. There I instantly fell on another 
]\I.P., who would be a good fellow if he was a Tory. We 
introduced each other's wives and parted smiling, only to 

fall on another, the , Bart., who inquires how ]\Irs 

Smith could leave her children, Lady having left 

hers. I gave him an answer — we did not speak again. 

Our seats had been taken in tlie train by Bohren, but 
a very fresh English husband and wife appropriated one 
of them, and although roundly abused by the French 
guard, the woman retained the seat ; but I had the satis- 
faction of looking straight at the husband all the way to 
Amiens, and of making him feel uncomfortable. At all 
events I began to be happier. 

We ought to have had 20 minutes for luncheon at 
Amiens, but the train was k.te, the Eouen train was 
waiting, and so we were hurried into it without any food. 
Was I not right to be angry ? . . . And now it rained 
heavily, and the country looked dreary and very like 
England. Does it not rain in England ? Was it neces- 
sary to leave the comforts of home to see Eain ? 


We reached Eouen — everything wet, every place cold 
and dreary. Our inn is, of course, Hotel d'Angleterre by 
way of sarcasm. Our room is several inches lower at 
the door than at the window, and there is not room to 
swing a cat. . . . We descend to dinner, hungry and 
tired. Presently up trots a small French poodle, shaved 
up to its neck, with very dirty hair over its head, and 
red, bleary, weak - looking eyes. It looks at me, and 
exercising a sound discretion, prefers my wife, jumps up 
on a chair by her side and begins instantly to beg. This 
is intolerable ! 

Of course the fish, the chicken, the meat, are all 
offered in succession to this insufferable dog. I say 
severe things, but it is of no avail. How I hate most 
dogs, and all little ones ! A big hound walks in. My 
wife offers it something and pats it. The little one — a 
tenth of its size — ^jumps down and barks furiously at the 
hound, which slips and flounders on the polished floor, 
turns round and goes out, chased by the little poodle, 
who returns triumphant to the chair by the side of my 

May 20. — More rain. 

May 21. — Xo rain, but a sharp, cold north-east wind — 
as cold as England. Again I ask. Why should I travel 
to France to meet rain and east wind, which are to be 
had plentifully in England ? Could not get a carriage to- 
day, because it is a holiday and everybody is out. These 
holidays are a nuisance. At last we are allowed by a 
driver to get into his carriage, and we proceed slowly to 
Bonnesecours, a church on a high hill two miles from 
Rouen, overlooking the Seine, which is here about half as 
pretty as the Thames at Eichmond. . . . Many holiday 
folk in the cemetery, which is a cheerful way of spending 
a happy day. . . . 

296 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [mt. b\. 

May 22. — Once more rain, but we drove to the old 
clock in an archery over the street, the Palais de Jus- 
tice, which contains the old Parliament chamber, and 
through other old places to the railway, whence we 
started to Caen. Eouen has a river, two quays, three 
old churches, fair wide streets, an infinite number of 
narrow lanes and old houses, and all round it are manu- 
factories and tall chimneys. The climate is detestable, 
and the people rough as Englishmen. From Piouen to 
Caen — more chimneys, more rain. At Caen — still more 
rain, bitterly cold. 

From the hotel in a close carriage almost dark to the 
Church of Ste Etienne, really a grand old Norman build- 
ing, with grotesque capitals to the round pillars, support- 
ing the roof of a wide nave. In the gloom before the 
high altar a plain slab marks the place where AVilliam 
the Conqueror was buried. I am not discontented with 
this church. It was worth coming to Caen to see ; but I 
now understand why William came to England — his own 
climate drove him away in simple desperation. . . . We 
returned to a grand salon and poor bedrooms, lighted up, 
however, by fires, round which we crouched. Great 
enjoyment, which might possibly have been exceeded at 

May 23. — More rain — more north-east wind. . . . 
Paid a heavy bill, and off to the railway. The country 
green, hilly, with a river running by the side of the line. 
Small fields, hedgerows, and cattle — like, but not so 
pretty as, Devonshire. It would be nice if the sun ever 
shone, but it has been raining for eight months. My 
wife takes refuge in sleep. I groan and grumble to my- 
self. We arrived at the junction for Villedieu, a capital 
buffet, and seated ourselves in a dark room with three 
Frenchmen, a mother, a tonne, and a baby ; all ate in a 


hurry ; all, the baby iucluded, wore a sad and preoccu- 
pied air. . . . 

May 25. — I think we have seen Avranches. It is a 
healthy town, sir, a clean town, sir ; it has tine air, sir, 
it is so high, and there are many English living here. . . . 
Poor things ! I pity them, and almost forget my discon- 
tent when I think of the perfect quiet of their lives. How 
the ladies must dislike each other, and how thoroughly 
they must know each other's faults and failings. ... I 
am thankful, and so is my wife, that we are not obliged 
to live there. How dull — with no work, but to read and 
walk and talk — eat, drink, and sleep. 

We found a carriage to take us on to Granville with 
difficulty. . . . The horses, poor things ! The coachman 
a sturdy red-faced Xorman. He did not know the way 

to where the live, . . . but Bohren piloted 

him. Their cottage is a pretty one. . . . Poor ]\Irs 

is, she says, quite tired of apple - blossom, and 

there is nothing else. Her husband most anxious to 
hear of something to do — anywhere and of any kind. 
I never met a man so eager to get away from himself and 
his own society. I asked if his wife was coming to Eng- 
land. " I will bring her at once, if I can find anything 
in the shape of employment — India, Turkey, anywhere." 

How much better it is to have too much to do than too 
little. Xever give up present employment, however dis- 
agreeable it may be, until one has made sure of something 
else. Poverty with work is Paradise compared with 
either riches or poverty without work. . . . Granville 
is a disappointment. There is a church — an old one — 
but not interesting. . . . There are several dull streets 
without trottoirs, many children crying in them, with 
women who appear to be scolding each other. . . . Our 
hotel — Hotel du Xord — was comfortable enough. We 

298 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [^T. 52. 

were waited upon by a Jersey woman who spoke English, 
talking incessantly, and always of her own good qualities 
and the many merits of her family. ... So I have done 
and go home, more content than I left home, and cer- 
tainly the better of my absence. 

Meanwhile the development of new methods 
of parliamentary warfare began to be painfully 
apparent at this time. Inordinate discussion 
upon votes in Supply, dilatory motions for ad- 
journment, and questions to Ministers upon sub- 
jects of the most trivial parochial, and even per- 
sonal, subjects, formed part of the plan of campaign 
adopted by Irish Nationalist members in order, by 
bringing proceedings to a deadlock, to force at- 
tention to their demands. If the legitimacy of 
their ambition be granted, their strategy and 
the energy and patience with which it was pur- 
sued are deserving of admiration. This new reign 
of terror began in earnest on Tuesday, July 31. 
The House met that afternoon at 4 p.m., and 
the sitting continued till past six on Wednesday 
evening — more than twenty-six hours. Mr Butt, 
nominal leader of the Home Kulers, protested 
against the methods favoured by his colleagues, 
Messrs Parnell and Biggar, but to no purpose ; 
and henceforward Parnell was de facto the direc- 
tor of the policy of his party. The state of 
matters was so serious as to bring about what 
has proved to be the first in a long series of 


successive alterations in the rules of Procedure, 
rendered more and more necessary as legislators 
departed further and further from the reasonable 
practice of a more decorous age. 

After introducing the Navy Estimates, Mr 
Ward Hunt, First Lord of the Admiralty, fell 
into such a state of health as to oblio-e his fi'oino- 
to Homburg, where he shortly after died. 

There is every reason to believe that the letter 
referred to in the following- one, written to Mrs 
Smith, who was at Homburg, came to Smith as 
a complete surprise : — 

-7 7 

House of Commons, Awj. 3. ■---■' 

This morning as I was driving down to the Treasury 
I met Lord Beaconsfield's messenger with this letter. I 
have accepted the office, if the Queen approves. . . . 
The responsibility is very great, and nothing would have 
induced me to seek it, but as I am told I am deemed fit 
for the work, I do not think I ought to refuse it. . . . 
It has not been oftered to any one else. . . . Do not say 
one word to any one about the story, until you see it in 
the papers, or hear from me that you may talk. 

The letter is given in facsimile on opposite page. 
Two days later he wrote from Greenlands to 
his wife, A^ho was at Homburo- : — 

It is a lovely day — such rest and peace around — and 
yet I am not quite at rest, for I feel the weight of re- 
sponsibility which I ha^■e incurred in accepting the 
Cabinet and the Admiralty. Until now, in graver mat- 


00 LIFE OF IF. H. SMITH. [mt. 52. 

ters, I only advised. Now I must act on my own judg- 
ment, and the spliere of that action concerns the country's 
honour and its strength. I shall want all your help — 
such help as you have ever given me since we were 
happily made one — in asking that I may have wisdom 
and strength according to my need. I think I shall, 
because we shall both ask. 

There is a heavy drawback to this new duty. Beach 
tells me the Cabinet have been warned that none of them 
must go out of reach of a sudden summons to a meeting, 
so that while Foreign affairs are in the present critical 
state, I could not go further from London than this or 
the coast. 

The ladder which brings a Minister from the 
Financial Secretaryship into the Cabinet has 
frequently proved to be a short one, but it has 
not often led to an office the holder of which, 
representing as he does the Lord High Admiral 
of old, had up to this time been nearly always 
occupied by some Peer of high rank, by a terri- 
torial magnate, or at least by the scion of a noble 
house. That a London tradesman should step 
into such an exalted sphei^e was an ascent al- 
most as rapid and not less remarkable than 

The first thinof Smith did on receivino- Lord 
Beaconsfield's letter was to seek the advice of 
his old ally, Lord Sandon, who urged him warmly 
to accept the offer. 

The announcement of Smith's appointment 


to the Admiralty was favourably received by 
the public. There was, of course, the usual 
degree of mild surprise at the working of a 
system which j^laces at the head of the naval 
and military establishments individuals who by 
training, habit, and occupation are least likely 
to have any technical or practical acquaintance 
with the services ; but the press generally in- 
dorsed the sagacity of the Prime Minister's 
choice.^ Smith's own friends, of course, were 
enthusiastic in congratulation, and he possessed 
friends on both sides of politics. Sir William 
Harcourt wrote : — 

I heard your writ moved to-day with great satisfaction, 

& greeted it with an approving cheer. No one has better 

earned & deserved the great post which you have reached 

in a comparatively short Parliamentary career. Your 

opponents, no less than your friends, sympathise in your 

well-merited success, and none more amongst them 


Yours sincerely, "W. V. Haecourt. 

Mr Eathbone, another sturdy Liberal, gave his 
approval thus : — 

I had no idea when speaking to you last night what 

^ The appointment is supposed to have suggested to the irreverent 
fancy of Mr W. S. Gilbert the character of Sir Joseph Porter in the 
opera "Pinafore," who, it will be remembered, "stuck to his desk 
and never went to sea," yet became the "Ruler of the Queen's 

302 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [jet. 52. 

a great dignity I was addressing. I congratulate you 
most heartily, though as an ex-Quaker I would rather 
your country had your services for the works of peace 
than of war. As you have no doubt heard, it has been 
received not only with pleasure but great approval on 
our side, as a very good appointment richly deserved. 

The unflinching Kadical, Joseph Cowen, member 
for Newcastle, was not behindhand : — 

You carry with you to your new office the good wishes 
& the sympathy of the entire House of Commons. ... I 
have never voted for a Conservative in my life ; but if 
there should be a contest in Westminster (where I am an 
elector), you can safely calculate on at least one radical 
recording his vote for you. 

The voice of the Navy found expression in a 
characteristic note from Lord Charles Beres- 
ford : — 

Let me congratulate you & the !N"avy also at your 
appointment. Don't think me rude if I say I was long 
enough Shipmates with you in the House to appreciate 
what a real good appointment the Prime Minister has 

In a letter from Sir Stafford Northcote to Mrs 
Smith there is mingled a strain of regret at 
losing his Financial Secretary : — 

I must ask leave to send you one line of Congratulation 
and sympathy, though, by the way, I can more easily 
sympathise with you than you can with me, for you will 

A.D. 1877.] MISGIVINGS. 803 

not have to contend with the mixed feelings which are 
distracting me. It is something like what I felt when 
my daughter chose to go and marry herself off. I am as 
trouhled to know what to do without my right hand now 
as I was then. . . . Nobody could have succeeded as your 
husband has done in this office. He has had a very 
important, laborious, and delicate task to discharge, and 
I don't think he has made a slip in the whole three years. 
He carries with him the affection as well as the respect 
and crood wishes of us all. 


All old friend of the family wrote to Smith : — 

When I first heard of your acceptance of the office of 
First Lord of the Admiralty, the text came into my 
mind, " His sons come to honour and he knoweth it 
not," as I thought of the high gratification the knowledge 
of this appointment would have afforded to those who 
have now passed away. 

But Smith himself felt none of that confidence 
which those who kne^v him best were most ready 
to repose in him. 

I am really almost sad [he wrote to Miss Giberne], for 
now I am one of the 12 men who are responsible for the 
Government of the country, and I am at the head of a 
great department in which it is more easy to fail than to 
succeed ; but I look for strength and wisdom, and I trust 
it may be given me. Don't you understand it is not 
matter for rejoicing with me, except as it might be with 
a soldier charged with a great work. He may fail and he 
may fall, but his country's welfare depends in a manner 
on his performance of duty. 

304 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [jet. 52. 

Again, to his sister Augusta : — 

I wish my father had been alive. He certainly did not 
expect that at 52 I should be a Cabinet Minister, and 
now I almost wish I had never entered public life, for it 
seems impossible to stop or to refuse work. ... I hope I 
may have strength and judgment to do it well, and at the 
same time to preserve the love and affection of my family. 

On Aug'ust 13 he wrote to Mrs Smith : — 

I wrote to you this evening under difficulties, as I was 
trying to listen to discussions in Cabinet and yet catch the 
post. I told you w^e went down by a special train to Ports- 
mouth with ceremony and honour. Bishop Thorold was 
going down to do homage for his see, with Lord Wriothesley 
Eussell as Clerk of the Closet. They, Mr Cross, Lord 
Coventry, Mr Sclater Booth, the Clerk of the Council, and 
I, w^nt in one saloon. ... At Portsmouth the train went 
into the dockyard, and drew up at the jetty, where we 
were received by the Admiral. The Fire Queen was 
waiting, and we all steamed off, taking the Duke of 
Eichmond, who came from Goodwood, and Lord Hert- 
ford, the Lord Chamberlain, with us. On our way we 
met the Thunderer, which was going out for big gun 
practice, with the Prince of Wales and some ladies on 
board. The carriages were not at the pier when we 
landed, but they soon overtook us. . . . We had to w^ait 
some time at the house, which reminds me very much of 
Denbies. At last Lord Hertford called in Lord Coventry 
and myself. The Queen was standing before a table. We 
knelt down rather by her side. The oath of allegiance 
was read over to us. We kissed the book on our knees, 
and then kissed her hand and rose up. Then standing, 
the Privy Councillor's oath, which is a very long one, was 

A.D. 1877.J LETTERS TO MliS SMITH. 305 

read, and we again kissed the book, and then I shook hands 
with all the Privy Councillors present. The Queen then 
approved a number of Orders in Council, the titles of 
which were read over to her ; the Privy Councillors, not 
being members of the Cabinet, withdrew, and then the 
Speech to be delivered to-morrow was approved. We 
then withdrew, bowing with our faces to her — the Queen 
smiling, but not saying a word. ... A cab to Downing 
Street for the Cabinet at 5.45. I was most kindly wel- 
comed by all, sitting between Northcote and Salisbury, 
opposite Lord Derby. 

And on Aucrust 14 : — 

So much kindness brings a sense of sadness with it, of 
weight and of fear lest failure should follow. My Patent 
has come to-day, and I have taken my seat at the Board, 
who address me as " Sir " in every sentence. It is strange, 
and makes me shy at first ; and I have to do what I 
hardly like — to send for them, not to go to them ; but 
I am told they expect me, as their chief, to require 

Mrs Smith went to Homburg during the 
autumn, and her husband, detained in England 
by his olHcial duties, wrote as frequently and 
tenderly as he was wont to do. Here is part of 
a letter written from Greenlands : — 

If I cannot look at you and talk to you, I can write to 
you, and that is, I think, a very fit use to be made of half 
an hour on a Sunday afternoon. . . . The swallows, which 
are flying very low and in great numbers, just skimming 
the top of the grass, don't seem to miss you, but it is 
another thing with us. 

VOL. I. U 

306 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [mt. 52. 

Before closinof the record of Smith's connection 
with the Treasury as its Financial Secretary, 
it is important to notice one proposal which he 
laid before the Chancellor of the Exchequer, 
which retains more interest at the present day 
than most of the dusty papers which have to be 
turned over in pursuing the actions of a public 
servant. These may have absorbed all the 
attention and been the subject of much anxiety 
to men of the day, consisting as they largely do 
of deliberations on points of departmental ad- 
ministration and the abundant record of o-riev- 
ances, but they are now as the withered leaves 
of an oak, the branches of which go on growing 
while these moulder into dust below. But this 
proposal — contained in the following letter to 
Sir Stafford Northcote — niay yet bear fruit in 
the future : — 

Feb. 11, 1877. 

My dear Northcote, — Will you consider whether the 
moment is opportune for entertaining suggestions for a 
change in the present system of administering the Post 
Office ? 

It is a department of infinite detail. Tlie gross Rev- 
enue of upwards of seven millions sterling is collected by 
pennies and shillings, at a cost of more than five millions ; 
but every letter and telegram brings the servant of the Post 
Office into contact with the Public in some shape or way. 
There are 40,000 of these servants, and the Government is 
made responsible for all their errors and shortcomings. 


It is a vast Government carrying-trade, protected as a 
monopoly by Act of Parliament, but requiring the most 
careful watchfulness in management — more so than either 
the Customs or Inland Revenue, which collect revenue 
without giving back anything in return. 

The Postmaster-General has been frequently changed. 
He is regarded as a high political officer, and is expected 
to give assistance in Parliament to his Government. In 
the past ... it is notorious that Postmasters-General 
have not controlled or directed the policy and really 
managed the business of the Department. It has been 
open to able and ambitious officers in the Department to 
do practically what they pleased in the name of their 
Chief, whose nominal responsibility completely covered 
their acts. 

The whole of the scandal arose in this way. 

He was daring and skilful, and not being responsible 
himself, he had no hesitation in setting the law at de- 
fiance behind the back of his Chief, who was absolutely 
ignorant of his acts. I do not think he would have taken 
this course if he had been a Commissioner responsible to 
his Colleagues and to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. 

There is reason to believe that there is, for the time, 
a more general sense of responsibility at the Post Office, 
but the system which produced these evils remains. 

It is beyond the power of a Postmaster- General to 
obtain, during his short term of office, a sufficient grasp 
of detail and of principle really to direct and control his 
department. Is it worth while to examine whether a 
permanent Board, similar to those of the Customs and 
Inland Eevenue, would not be a desirable substitution 
for the office of Postmaster ? 

The relations between the Treasury and the Post Office 
are anomalous and difficult. The Postmaster cannot 

308 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [.et. 52. 

change the organisation of his Department or do any act 
tending to increase the cost of the Service without coming 
to the Treasury for approval. It is a Eevenue Depart- 
ment (which, however, must be managed with a view 
to the public convenience) presided over by a Cabinet 
Minister, and his recommendations are challenged by 
Members of the Government of lower official rank than 
himself. The Treasury can, and often does, check the 
Postmaster-General in the course he is advised by his 
subordinates to pursue, but in the House of Commons he 
answers for his Department as if he had no such responsi- 
bility, ... If there were a Board in his place, there 
would be continuity of management and of policy : there 
would be real subordination of departmental officers, and 
the relations between the Treasury and the Post Office 
would be as free from strain and difficulty as they are 
with the Boards of Customs and Inland Eevenue. 

This question was suffered to drop when Smith 
left the Treasury, but the case for a change has 
been so well made out, Smith's arguments thus 
set forth are so clear and weighty, that it seems 
far from improbable that the matter must come 
up for decision at a future day. 

Smith's re-election for Westminster on ajDjDoint- 
ment to the Admiralty had not been contested, 
but his friends and constituents were not content 
to allow the distinction conferred upon him to 
pass without special marks of approval and con- 
ofratulation. On November 29 he was entertained 


at a banquet in St James's Hall, where Lord 
Henry Scott, M.P., j)i'esided over a comj)any of 
more than 500, assembled to do hononr to the 
First Lord. Smith, as every one knows, was not 
an orator ; his speeches were never of the order 
to /aire remuer le sang, but he never spoke unless 
he had something to say, and always succeeded 
in makino' that somethino; intellicrible. and in 
convincing his hearers of his perfect frankness. 
Li a few simple sentences he conveyed on this 
occasion a clear impression of the circumstances 
which had brought him into a position of such 
di<ynitv : — 

When I look back upon the past — and it is only twelve 
years ago when I was invited by some friends whom I 
now see around me to offer myself as a candidate for the 
representation of "Westminster — when I remember that I 
failed then (not disastrously and not disgracefully) to 
obtain the object which they rather more than I had on 
that occasion — when I remember that again in 1868 you 
were patient and kind enough to entertain the proposal 
that was made to you to return me as your member for 
Westminster — when I think of the period of hberty, of 
freedom, and of comparative absence from responsibility 
which I enjoyed as the representative of Westminster 
for the five years that succeeded the election, — 1 say that 
it appears hke a dream ; and I can hardly understand 
how it is I am here to-day, not only wearing the blue 
ribbon of parliamentary representative of the city of 
Westminster, Ijut also as a servant of the Crown and of 

310 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [jet. 52. 

the people. Frankly, I cannot tell you how it has come 
to pass, but it has happened, that your exceeding kindness, 
and the sympathy and support of my friends, have pushed 
me forward into the position which I should not have been 
tempted to seek for myself. Never once did I entertain 
the idea of standing for Westminster until I was asked to 
do so, and I did not again entertain the idea of seeking 
election till I was pressed to do so. I did not seek office ; 
it has come to me in a manner which, when I think of it, 
is surprising to myself, and I feel deeply the responsi- 
bility which has fallen upon me. 

Next mornino- the ' Times.' in a leading; article 
on the principal guest at this banquet, correctly 
defined the position which Smith had attained 
to in the esteem of his countrymen : — 

]\Ir W. H. Smith is eminently representative of that 
special order of men whom it is the boast of our political 
institutions to possess. Neither an orator nor a man of 
genius, he has risen to the foremost rank among his fellow- 
citizens by the excellent way in which he did all the work 
before him, and by his sterling manly character. 

Another critic remarked : — 

One of the chief reasons of the popularity the Ministry 
\ still enjoys, and of the confidence it still commands, is that 
it nimibers in its list so many men of the IJberal_type, 
and of the special type to which Mr Smith belongs. Sir 
Stafford Northcote, Mr Cross, and Mr Smith are all men 
who, without conspicuous oratorical power, or any claim 
to originality, have raised themselves to the front rank 
by moderation, honesty, skill in business, conciliatory 
manners, and a broad and genial Liberalism. To Lord 


Beaconsfield much credit is due for having recognised the 
merits of men so totally unlike himself. . . . They import 
prudence and good sense into every Conservative gather- 
ing. They are always, as it were, brightening up the 
boots of the party, and making it look tidy and respect- 
able when it appears before the public. 

Even ■ Punch,' Liberal by tradition and practice, 
had a kindly word for the new ruler of the Queen's 

Navy : — 

Of Mr W. H. Sndth all parties may say, as a great 
opponent said of Lord Palmerston, " We are all proud of 
him." . . . Xever has man or Minister more fairly earned 
the addition of " Eisht Honourable." 


Some sentences in Smith's speech expressing 
his horror of war and his earnest hope for the 
preservation of peace were received with much 
satisfaction in the country ; for all eyes were 
turning anxiously towards the East, where there 
might happen any day that which might involve 
Great Britain in the conflict which throughout 
the summer and autumn had been raging on the 
Danube and the Black Sea. 

The refusal of the Porte to comply with the 
recommendations of the Constantinople Confer- 
ence, and the consequent failure of all attempts 
to bring Turkey into concert with other Euro- 
pean Powers, brought that country and Russia 
to the brink of war. On April 24, 1877, the 

312 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [^et. 52. 

Czar, who looked upon himself as the ordained 
champion of Sclavonic nationality, had issued a 
declaration of war against the Sultan, without 
the customary formula of an ultimatum. Eng- 
lishmen have never been chary of chivalrous 
sympathy for a weaker nation defending itself 
against invasion by a stronger ; the old feeling 
of comradeship, handed down from Crimean 
days, began to revive in this country in favour 
of our ancient allies, and was fanned into some- 
thing like fervour by the opening acts of the 
campaign. The gallantry and soldierly qualities 
displayed by the Turkish troops, their successes 
at Batoum on May 4, and at Sukhum Kale on 
the 14th, their stout defence of Kars, and the 
raising of the siege of that oft-beleaguered city 
by Mukhtar Pasha, proved that far from being 
an effete, spiritless race, the Turks were as cap- 
able as ever they had been of splendid service 
in the field. The Bulgarian atrocities faded into 
insififnificance before the brilliancv of the double 
victory gained by Osman Pasha over the Rus- 
sians at Plevna in July, and the desperate ob- 
stinacy of the defence of the Shipka Pass. But 
the tide of victory turned in late autumn. The 
bravery of her devoted soldiers could not save 
the territory of a State so rotten as that of 
Turkey. Russian victories in Asia were followed 


by the fall of Kars and Erzeroum, not without 
suspicion of treason ; blood-boltered Plevna was 
at last taken, and the Shipka Pass occupied in 
January 1878, and then the Porte sent a Circu- 
lar Note to the Powers, imploring them to ex- 
tricate it from the disasters into which its own 
obstinacy and indolence had plunged it. 

On January 31 an armistice w^as signed at 
Adrianople, and the preliminaries of peace for- 

Parliament was summoned to meet a full fort- 
night or three weeks earlier than usual — on 
January 17 — amid a feeling of intense uneasiness 
and public excitement. The Queen's Speech con- 
tained nothing to allay these : on the contrary, 
the paragraphs referring to the Eastern situation 
were of ominous import. After reciting how, 
when all attempts to avert war had proved 
futile, her Majesty had resolved to preserve 
strict neutralitv as between the bellio-erents, 
and the success of Russian arms compelled the 
Porte to luring hostilities to a close, the Speech 
went on to describe how the Sultan, having ap- 
pealed to the neutral Powers for their good 
offices, and the majority of these Powers not 
having been in favour of interfering, had ad- 
dressed a separate apj^eal to her Majesty's Gov- 
ernment. Then followed sentences of which 

314 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [mt. 52. 

every one who had heard or read them felt the 
solemn sio-nificance. 

Upon this subject communications have taken place 
between the Governments of Eussia and Turkey, through 
my good offices, and I earnestly trust that they may lead 
to a peaceful solution of the points at issue, and to a 
termination of the war. No efforts on my part will be 
wanting to promote that result. 

Hitherto, so far as the war has proceeded, neither of 
the Ijelligerents has infringed the conditions on which 
my neutrality is founded, and I willingly believe that both 
parties are desirous to respect them, so far as it may ])e 
in their power. So long as these conditions are not in- 
fringed, my attitude will continue the same. But I can- 
not conceal from myself that, should hostilities be un- 
fortunately prolonged, some unexpected occurrence may 
render it incumbent upon me to adopt measures of pre- 
caution. Such measures could not be adequately taken 
without adequate preparation, and I trust to the liberality 
of my Parliament to supply the means which may be 
required for that purpose. 

Meanwhile the Russians were at the gates of 
Constantinople : the prize for which they had so 
long panted was within their grasp ; would they 
relinquish it at the bidding of Great Britain ? 

That the Cabinet intended to forbid the occu- 
pation of the Sultan's capital was made certain 
by the notice given in the House of Commons 
that a Vote of Credit for £6,000,000 was to be 
moved for immediately. Suddenly, on January 


23, the startling news went abroad that the 
British fleet had been ordered to the Dardanelles. 
The Earl of Carnarvon, Secretary of State for the 
Colonies, announced in the House of Lords that 
he had resigned oflice, and in explaining the 
reasons which compelled him to do so, stated that 
he had resisted the proposal, made to the Cabinet 
on January 12, that the fleet should be sent up 
the Dardanelles, that he had resigned on the 15th 
when this course had been decided on, but had 
consented to retain office when the decision was 
rescinded. Now, however, that the action to 
which he objected as dangerous and unnecessary 
had actuallv been taken, he had no course but to 
leave a Cabinet with whom he found himself 
at direct issue. 

It was understood that the Earl of Derby had 
also resigned, but, as he appeared on the Govern- 
ment bench with his colleagues on this occasion, 
it was evident that he was still a member of the 

Smith had a difficult task to perform on this 
very day. In the afternoon he and Sir Charles 
Adderley, President of the Board of Trade, re- 
ceived the freedom of the Ancient Company of 
Shipwrights, and were entertained at a public 
banquet in the evening. It must have been no 
light problem how to speak as a Cabinet Minister 

316 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [jet. 52. 

for the Cabinet, conscious as he was that the 
Cabinet was rent by dissension on a question so 
momentous and beset with peril. One sentence, 
and one only, he permitted himself to utter in ref- 
erence to the subject uppermost in the minds of 
all, and it was one which Englishmen of all j^arties 
could receive with ringing cheers : " No greater 
disaster than to be engaged in war could happen 
to the country, except the loss of honour." 

The view which Smith took at this most critical 
juncture is expressed in two letters to Northcote, 
illustrating the strain of anxiety which lay upon 
Ministers : — 

Admiralty, Jan. 12, 1878. 

Dear Northcote, — I wish you would see Lord Derby. 
I quite understood yesterday that he agreed to the occu- 
pation of Gallipoli in the sense you suggested, and although 
I have satisfied myself that the Fleet can anchor there 

^ without serious risk, it would be a more sensil)le operation 
to take possession of the lines. 

You will remember, however, that the most formidable 
forts are at the entrance to the Black Sea, above Con- 

^ stantinople. If a foreign Power holds the City, it holds 
also the key of the Black Sea. 

~~~" If we cannot come to an agreement on our policy on 
Monday in certain events, it is a question whether it would 
not be more patriotic to break up and resign now. It 
will not do to be fighting in the House with the Opposi- 
tion, and in the Cabinet with each other. — Yours sincerely, 

W. H. Smith. 


Then on 15 th : — 

I hope the telegram will not be sent to-night if Lord 
Derby objects to it. The delay of a few hours is im- 
portant, but the loss of Lord Derby would be a greater 

Nevertheless, man of peace as he was by train- 
ing and inclination, there is the testimony of 
more, than one of his surviving^ colleagfues in 
that Cabinet to prove that Smith showed 
much firmness in this crisis. Thougfh slow in 
forming a judgment, he had the enviable gift, 
once it was formed, of adhering to it without 

It was not to be expected that the Vote of 
Credit would be granted without animated de- 
bate. The opposition to it took the form of a 
motion of censure on the Government, moved 
by Mr W. E. Forster. The debate is memor- 
able for this, if for nothino- else, that it o-ave 
birth to a term which has become the Encdish 
equivalent of the French chauviniste} Sir 
Wilfrid Lawson, who is nothing if not humor- 
ous, even when he is most in earnest, quoted a 
couplet from a popular music-hall ditty of the 

1 Derived from Chauvin, a character in Scribe's ' Soldat Labor- 
eur,' one of Napoleon Buonaparte's veterans, and expressive of 
boastful and aggressive patriotism. 

318 LIFE OF TF. H. SMITH. [iET. 52. 

day, which he said exactly described the aggres- 
sive spirit of the Government's policy : — 

" "We don't want to fight, but by Jingo ! if we do, 
We've got the ships, we've got the men, we've got the 
money too." 

Hencefomvard the war party in our country, or 
the party suspected of warlike sentiments, was 
to be distinguished by the name of Jingoes. 

It was Smith's duty in the debate to follow 
Mr Goschen, who had called on the Government 
to say exactly how much money they wanted, 
and how they intended to spend it. - 

The right hon. gentlemau opposite says he desires to 
strengthen the Government in the Conference in which 
we expect shortly to take part. He is wilhng to give the 
great support of his name in favour of the expression of 
our views in the Congress, but he thinks it right to 
say that he refuses, on the grounds of precedent and finan- 
cial policy, to give the six miUions. It appears that the 
rioht hon. gentleman refuses to give tlie Government a 
cheque for six milhons, but he will give us a blank 
cheque, without money expressed, to be filled up by our- 
selves at the right time. Now if the Government are not 
to be trusted with the responsibility of spending so much 
as they think necessary in making preparations for guard- 
ing their interests, in strengthening themselves where 
they think strength is needed, then I say they ought not 
to be trusted in going into the Conference to speak for 
England and to commit her to the decision which will be 
arrived at. I have taken part in financial questions dur- 
ing the past few years, and I know no higher duties than 

A.D. 1878.] THE VOTE OF CREDIT. 319 

to require the most exact accounts for the administration 
of public money. But I think the principles of high 
finance can be carried too far. It is the most earnest 
desire and hope of her JNIajesty's Government that the 
issue of war may be avoided, and none except those who 
have occupied positions as Ministers of the Crown can 
conceive the amount of responsibility which rests upon a 
Minister when he expresses an opinion on such a ques- 
tion. We believe that the course we are asking the 
House of Commons to adopt is one which will tend in 
the most complete and eure manner to save England from 
the horrors of war. We believe that the making of such 
preparations as we may deem to be necessary will be a 
security against war. 

DesjDite these reassuring words, each day 
seemed to bring nearer to Great Britain the 
necessity of a rupture with Russia. At last, on 
February 7, there arrived a teleo-ram from Mr 
Layard, our Ambassador at Constantinople, to 
the efiect that the Russian army had occupied 
that city. The ef!ect upon Parliament and the 
country was electric ; the lighting spirit of the 
nation was afire ; Mr Forster withdrew his 
amendment to the motion for the Vote of 
Credit, and although the extreme Radicals in- 
sisted upon going to a division, the Vote was 
carried that night by 295 to 96 — a majority of 
199 for the Government. It turned out that 
the telegram was untrue : Mr Layard had been 
deceived by the presence of a number of Russian 

320 LIFE OF jr. H. SMITH. [jei. 52. 

officers and men on leave in the streets of 
Stamboul. Nevertheless, nothing could be more 
threatening or critical than the situation, and on 
February 8 part of the British fleet was moved 
up to Constantinople as a precautionary measure. 

Next came a messaofe from the Sovereio-n an- 
nouncing that it had been deemed expedient 
to call out a portion of the Reserves, .and the 
Address in reply to this formed the subject of 
another vote of no confidence in the policy of 
the Government. But this was easily disposed of : 
the Opposition, however deep and sincere might 
be their disapproval of the policy of Ministers, 
were resolved to adhere to honourable tradition, 
and to let it be known that in foreign policy 
there is one Eno-land and not two Eno-lands. 
The Address was agreed to by 310 votes to 64, 

By an extract from the diary of one of the 
First Lord of the Admiralty's daughters, a 
glim^^se is aflbrded of the anxious and dis- 
turbed state of affairs at this time : — 

Sunday, Fch. 10. — Very excited and peculiar Sunday 
owing to telegrams ou Eastern Question. Papa roused 
between 5 & 6 a.m. to decipher telegrams ; not able to go 
to Ch. Going to see Sir S. Northcote, L"^- Salisbury, 
also L"^- Beaconsfield at 10.15 p.m. L*^- Tenterden ^ called 
at 5.30, & again a few minutes after 10. Capt. Codring- 

^ Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Office. 

A.D. 1878.] THE ''JINGO-' POLICY. 321 

ton ^ to lunch and dinner. Six ironclads have been sent 
to the Straits to protect English life & property at Con- 
stantinople, but Turks would not open them passage. 

Military preparations in this country went for- 
ward amain : arsenals and factories were workino- 
double time, and orders were issued from the 
Admiralty to fit out every available ship. All 
this time Mr Gladstone kept rather quiet within 
Parliament ; but from time to time he addressed 
meetings in the country, denouncing the policy 
of "Jingoism." At length it appeared as if the 
promptness and vigour displayed by the British 
Government were beofinning: to take effect. The 
Czar, it ^^"as known, passionately longed for 
peace : he could not but be impressed by the 
prospect of entering upon war with a powerful 
enemy, wealthy, fresh, and determined, after the 
terrible losses which his armies had endured in 
the campaign of 1877. An agreement was come 
to that the Russians should not occupv Gallipoli, 
provided the English fleet withdrew from the 
immediate neighbourhood of Constantinoj)le. Ne- 
gotiations, however, whicli had been set on foot 
for a Cono^ress of the Powers failed, owino- to 
dissensions in the Enoiish Cabinet. The Earl 
of Derby resigned the seals of the Foreign Office, 

1 Private Secretary to the First Lord of the Admiralty, who 
afterwards mai*ried Mr Smith's step-daughter, Miss Leach. 

VOL. I. X 


322 LIFE OF JV. H. SMITH. [jet. 52. 

and was succeeded by the Marquis of Salisbury. 
One of the causes which led to the last-named oc- 
currence, to avert which so many precautions had 
been taken, was the ordering o f 70 00 Indian 
troops to Maj.ta, and this formed the subject of 
a second motion of censure on the Government 
in the House of Commons. 

Some idea of the intense anxiety of the situa- 
tion may be formed from the following- despatches 
exchanged between the First Lord of the Admir- 
alty and the Admiral commanding the Mediter- 
ranean Squadron, They afford an interesting 
illustration of the effect which the means of rapid 
communication have had in controlling and direct- 
ing the actions of armies and navy at great dis- 
tances, and it suggests some curious reflections 
that this duty should have been discharged by 
one so pacific in training and character as W. H. 
Smith. Yet it is not always the most warlike 
who have resoluteness at command : suaviter in 
modo is not seldom merely ancillary to fortiter 
in re. 

The First Lord of the Admiraltij to the Fnme Minister. 



Sunday Morning, Feb. 10, 1S78. 

Dear Lord Beaconsfield, — We have had three mes- 
sajjes from Admiral Hornby during; the ni^ht. The two 


first are more or less unintelligible, and efforts are still 
being made to decypher them. The last, dated 9 p.m., 
shows, I think, that Mr Layard has not yet been able to 
communicate with him. Chanak is a very strong fort at 
the entrance of the Narrows, and it was there that the 
Admiral received the message on the 24th ordering him 
back to Besika Bay. — Yours sincerely, W. H. Smith. 

TJie Same to the Same. 

Admiralty, S.W., 
Feb. 10, 1878, 7.40 p.m. 

Dear Lord Beaconsfield, — I have just received the 
telegram enclosed from Admiral Hornby, dated this morn- 
ing from Besika Bay. 

It is most singular that nothing has been heard from 
Mr Layard ; . . . Ijut I suppose we must wait for an 
answer to our telegram of to-day before we give Hornby 

I shall be ready to come over to you at any time you 
may require this evening ; but I am afraid we can do 
nothing. — Yours very truly, W. H. Smith. 

Telegram from Vice-Admiral Hornby. 

Xo. 10. 

Besika, Feb. 10, 9 a.m. 

Sent Salamis to Chanak yesterday, and weighed with 
ships ordered at 6 p.m. When inside Koumkaleh, Salamis 
returned. Xo telegraphic communication with Ambassa- 
dor : no Firman, and Pacha protests against squadron en- 
tering. Anchored before Koumkaleh at night. At 1 
A.M. Pacha received answer from Constantinople : no 
request made by British Ambassador to Porte : contrary 
to treaty for squadron to enter : Pacha to enforce the 

324 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [my. 52, 

treaty. Have returned Besika Bay : no telegraphic com- 
munication yet from Ambassador. 

Am I to proceed by night with ships named, or to force 
passage by day with whole squadron ? Squadron insuffi- 
cient to begin the [unintelligible] at once should 

be to pass the two lower forts and silence Medjideh first, 

then return and silence the lower ones if passage 

is to be kept open. Eequest instructions. 

The First Lord of the Admiralty to the Prime Minister. 


Feb. 13, 1878, 1.15 p.m. 

Deae Lord Beaconsfield. — I have a telesiram from 
Hornby, dated from the Alexandra at 1.30 this morning, 
stating his intention to sail at daybreak with six iron- 
clads in pursuance of orders. — Yours sincerely, 

W. H. Smith. 

Tlie Same to the Same. 

Feb. 14, 1878, 9 a.m. 

We have a telegram from the Vice-Consul at the 
Dardanelles that " the six armoured ships passed through 
yesterday at 3 p.m. into the Sea of Marmora, the Turkish 
authorities protesting but not resisting." 

Telegram from Vice-Admiral Hornby. 
No. 18. 

Gallipoli, 2 P.M., Feb. 14, '78. 

Capt. Fife informs me the Kussians are in force near 
Karak, twelve miles from Bulair : they may have 50,000 
men there to-morrow evening: are believed to have a 



feasible plan to cross the Gulf of Zeros and land in the 
rear of Bnlair lines, while they attack in front, ^reconii. '-7 
mend _all ships at Besika Bay, except one, be moved to 
Zeros with me to oppose any attack arising on this pen- 
insula, and that Rear- Admiral Commerell assist to defend 
Bulair lines, and if they are (in) considerable force to 
desti'oy heavj;. ^uns in evacuating fort of Dardanelles : 
also that I should return immediately (to) eastward end 
of Marmora. Eear-Admiral remains at Gallipoli with 
Agincourt and Swiftsure. I proceed immediately to 
Prince's Island. 

Following sharply on this came an order from 
the First Lord of the Admiralty to Vice- Admiral 
Hornby, which seemed to shut out all hopes of 
the maintenance of peace with Russia. 

No. 23. 

February 15. 

All ships but one are to go from Besika Bay to Gulf of 
Xeros, with orders to watch Eussian troops, and if they 
observe preparations for embarkation with a view to 
landing on the peninsula of Gallipoli, they are to warn 1 ^ 
Russian commander they have orders to prevent such / "V 
landing, and they are to oppose it by force if persevered I 
in. , " W. H. S. 

Telegram from Bear-Admiral Commerell to the First 
Lord of the Admiralty. 

Gallipoli, Feb. 15, 11.55 a.m. 

I visited Gallipoli lines to-day with permission of 
Suleiman Pacha. Was not favourably impressed with 

326 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [jet. 52. 

state of defences. Advanced post of Russians at Kadikoi 
in sight of liulair, from whicli place I am of opinion that 
determined attack in force would carry Turkish position. 
Am informed positively that large quantity of munitions 
are being collected at Kadikoi. 

Telegram from Vice- Admiral Hornhy to the First Lord 
of the Admiralty. 

No. 24. 

Princess Island, Feb. 17, S r.M._ 

In reference to their lordships' telegraphic communica- 
tion of yesterday, I beg to report our force at Gallipoli is 
insufficient to destroy heavy guns unless the Turks con- 
sent. If the Kussians capture the peninsula, the Turks 
would probably make better terms by leaving it in tlieir 
hands. I beg to urge upon their lordships that I consider 
the position of Gallipoli to be most critical, and it cannot 
be assured without a speedy understanding with the Turk- 
ish Government. ... It seems certain that Suleiman 
Pacha cannot be replaced by a trustworthy general, and 
the positions held by the united forces of the expedition 
under English and Turkish, or English alone. I need 
hardly point out that the squadron would render very 
1p^^^,A>'' small service if Gallipoli peninsula were lost. Your tele- 

•J graphic communication, No. 23 of 15th, received. Under- 

'^J^^'^ stand it to be answer to mine of 14th, No. 18, and have 

moved from Prince's Island to rendezvous, seven miles 

S.S.W. of it temporarily, according to Ambassador's 


Please telegraph to Rear-Admiral Commerell at Gal- 
lipoli result of Professor Abel's experiments on bursting 




Letter from Sir Stafford Northcote to the Prime Minister. 

12 Downing Street, Whitehall, 
Feb. 20, 1878. 

Dear Lord Eeaconsfjeld, — Will you call a Cabinet at 
twelve to-morrow ? Smith has news which requires 
immediate attention. — Yours faithfully, S, H. N. 

The news referred to is contained in the following: 

- - — o 

telegrams : — , 

Telegram from Vice- Admiral Hornhy to the First Lord 
of the Admiralty. 

Pera, Feb. 20, 6 p.M.i (from Dardanelles). 

Ambassador has informed me that the Eussians have -^-^ 
demanded peremptorily Turkish fleet and to enter Con- 
stantinople with 30,000 men. Do my orders still hold 
uot_to interfere ? I have sent this by sea to Dardanelles 
to avoid Eussian telegraph station. 

The Same to the Same. 

TuzLA Bay, Feb. 20,^^.30 p .m. 
Telecjram number 28 of 19th received. No number 
27 received. One telegram of 18th in the vocabulary 
cipher received, not numbered. Eussians reported to be 
advancing to M. San Stephano, thus turning will get in 
rear of the last line of defence INIoukhtar Pacha was pre- 
paring for C onstantino ple. The city and B^sp^Uiirus w:ill '-'V^ 
be at_their-m,ercy. 

From Captain of Raleigh to the Same. 

KOUMKALEH, Fcb. 20, 6.30 P.M. 

Eear- Admiral reports wire to Constantinople cut both 


328 LIFE OF IV. H. SMITH. [^t. 52. 

Vice-Admiral Hornby to the Same. 


TuzLA Bay, Fch. 21, 5 a.m. \ 

Eear - Admiral Commerell reports good progress in 
strengthening Bulair lines, but the assistance of ships 
to cover the lianks is indispensable. If he might co- 
,/-/^' operate he thinks Eiissia would not pass. This squadron 

might assist materially in preventing Eussians entering 
Cpnstantinople, as it could command the best road for 
guns on each flank. I think they could not enter if we 
assist Turks at once. 

The Same to the Same. 

IsMiD, March 10, 4.10 r.M. 

. . . Bosphorus forts would probably not stop ironclads 
going into Black Sea, but would stop all supplies. If 
in Eussian hands and strengthened by torpedoes, no 
squadron could pass without severe loss. If there is any 
idea of moving in tliat direction, no time should be lost 
in opening negotiations with the Turks. "Without their 
help the Straits cannot be saved, and the Turks seem 
daily succumbing to Eussian influence. 

N.B. — The group (of cipher) standing for " Black Sea" 
is still doubtful. 

Tlic Same to the Same. 
No. 64. 

IsMiD, March 23, 7.30 p.m. 

Your telegram No. 48 of 22d received. The Eear- 
Admiral will decidedly require two powerful steam- 
vessels as long as he remains on his present duty at 
Gallipoli. Eear - Admiral has observed two merchant 
steam - vessels pass towards Dedeagatch under Eussian 


merchant colours. He ordered our cruisers in the Gulf 
of Zeros, in the event of Eussian troops embarking at 
Dedeagatch or elsewhere aboard any steam-vessel for the 
purpose of passing Dardanelles, to follow such vessel in 
an unobtrusive manner as far as Gallipoli ; and if any 
attempt be made to land the troops, the cruiser is to act 
in pursuance of Admiralty instructions communicated to 
me in your telegram of Feb. 15. . . . Ambassador, 
Constantinople, acquaints me that the minister at Athens 
reports Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs has informed 
him, on the authority of Italian Vice-Consul at Volo, that 
Turks have pillaged and destroyed three villages near 
Mount Olympus ; that they have murdered old men, 
women, and children, and that some families escaped to 
the mountains, where, unless rescued, they must perish. 
I have telegraphed to send Ruby to inquire, and if 
necessary remove fugitives ; if not, she returns im- 

TJie Same to the Same. 
No. 71. 

IsMiD, March 31, 2.55 p.m. 

Following telegraphic communication received last 
night from Ambassador^viz. : 

" From British Consul I hear that from more than one 
source, but give the information under reserve, that 
Generals Scobeleff and Gourko have received orders to 
prepare to make a dash on Gallipoli in the event of a 
war between England and Russia being imminent ; and 
that a corps d'armee is to take possession at the same time 
of Kavak near entrance of the Bosphorus. A Greek 
merchant who lias been a large contractor for provisions 
for the Russian army has received orders to keep them 
at Constantinople." 

330 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [^t. 52. 

In view of the gravity of the situation the Ambassador 
would like two small vessels stationed at Constantinople. 
With Russians collecting torpedoes at Eodosto, Rear- 
Admiral requires assistance, and Condor is going to 
Gallipoli to him to-day. This leaves only three small 
ships for this port and Constantinople, and to keep up 
communication between them. 

I request instructions for guidance in the event of war 
being imminent, observing that the ships cannot remain 
with safety in the Bosphorus at night whilst the north 
shore is in possession of an enemy provided with White- 
head torpedoes. 

The Same to the Same. 

IsMiD, March 31, 3.50 p.m. 

Ambassador telegraphs following message, dated to-day, 
, . . from Captain Fife, dated Gallipoli to-day : " Large 
bodies of Russians expected at Keshan to-day on the 
way of Cadi Keni from Adrianople. Keshan ceased to 
reply by telegraph to-day." 

The Same to the Same. 

IsMiD, Ajar{l2, 2.S0 p.m. 

Affairs at Constantinople said to be very critical. Grand 
Duke obtaining great influence with several military 
jj> Pachas. Appointment of Ministry favourable to Russia 

thought probable. General Dickson tells me he thinks 
Bulair lines could be held by troops now there if ordered 
to defend them, but recommends assistance of men and 
officers from the fleet in the event of attack to prove to 
the troops that we are in alliance with Turkey. 

He fears orders would be given from Constantinople 
not to defend the lines. In that case he thinks we should 


defend the lines by taking General and troops into our 
pay. I concur with him, and submit that the Rear- 
Admiral should have authority to do so if the Russians 
prepare to attack. 

Russians have lately been increasing their forces at 

Submit in future that treaty should be made with j^ 
Turkish Government to join us if we are forced into 
war with Russia. Our fleet cannot stay in the Sea of 
Marmora or Black Sea for more than a very few days 
unless some ports are open to us. If alliance with Turkey 
could be formed, I submit that, if war is imminent, this 
squadron should be withdrawn to Gallipoli or Besika 

I cannot believe Turkey would defend Gallipoli for us, 
unless we will do something for them as well as for our- 
selves. Time seems precious. . . . Have ordered about 
1500 tons of Welsh coal from Malta. I think as pre- 
cautionary measure equal quantity should follow shortly : 
submit, therefore, that another steam collier should be 
sent from England with agreement for delivery. 

Telegram from Bear-Admiral Sir J. Commerell to the Same. 

Besika, A-pril 3, 12.5 p.m. 
Secret and confidential. 

I think First Pacha at Bulair would hail with delight 
an order from Constantinople to surrender lines. Second 
Pacha is different man altooether. 

? soldiers would defend them if First Pacha were 


Of course if lines were given up, Hussein at Dardanelles 
would not let me destroy guns on European side. The 
only way I can see to ensure safety of Gallipoli is to 

332 LIFE OF W. 11. SMITH. [.et. 52. 

order ? be "iven over : embark the Maltese frarrison 

in the Channel Squadron and Indian troop-ships : cutting 
the wires and allowing no ships to touch there, and send 
the ships to rendezvous in Gulf Xeros. They need not 
land until Eussians make movement : excuse su^sestion. 


The Same to the Same. 

Secret and confidential. 

Besika, April 4, 8 p.m. 

I am not sure about the money. If I see my way, 
what sum may I offer ? It must be higli to succeed. 

By this time — the month of April — the Avar- 
clouds were beg-innino^ to break ; Count Schouva- 
loff had arrived in England on a special mission 
from the Russian Court, the Berlin Congress had 
been ag-reed on, and a second time the House of 
Commons ratified the policy of Ministers by a 
majority of 121 — 347 votes to 226. 

Needless to do more than allude to the result 
of the Congress, the return of our Plenipoten- 
tiaries — Lord Beaconsfield and Lord Salisbury — 
an event marked in public memory by the speech 
made by the Prime Minister from a window of 
his house in Downing Street, in which he claimed, 
before an enthusiastic multitude, to have brought 
back " Peace with Honour." ^ Relieved from the 

1 Lord Beaconsfield, it is said, piqued himself on his fluency in 
French, but his idioms were rather intrepid than correct. He had 
command of a copious vocabulary, but his accent was courageously 


apprehension which had weighed so heavily on 
them for so many months, peoj)le were jubilant 
in their apjDroval of the success gained by English 
diplomacy. Great Britain was rehabilitated in the 
eyes of Europe, and at the same time delivered 
from the imminence of war. 

cis-pontiiie, a survival of that Anglo-Gallic -nhicli developed itself 
amonor Encrlish officers during the Peninsular and "Waterloo cam- 
paigns. Some consternation, therefore, arose among the English 
who accompanied him to Berlin, when they learnt that the British 
Prime Minister intended to deliver his opening speech at the Con- 
ference in French, and had already devoted much time to its pre- 
paration. It would have been a delicate matter to explain to his 
lordship that, while it was of the utmost importance that his speech 
should be understood by the other Plenipotentiaries, that object 
could not be attained unless he spoke in his native tongue. In this 
dilemma recourse was had to the good offices of Lord Odo Eussell, 
British Minister at Berlin — could he diplomatically convey to Lord 
Beaconsfield how necessary it was that he should speak in English ? 

Lord Odo pondered for some moments, and then said — 

" Yes, I think I see my way. Leave it to me." 

That afternoon he visited Lord Beaconsfield, and before taking 
his leave, remarked — 

" By the by, I must tell you how much disappointment was felt 
by the other Plenipotentiaries when it became known that your 
lordship intended to address the Congress in French." 

'"Why should they be disappointed?" asked the Prime Minister, 
putting up his eyeglass. "Is not French the language most generally 
understood on the Continent ] " 

" L'ndoubtedly, my dear lord ; but they had been looking forward 
with the keenest anticipation to the pleasure of hearing English 
spoken by its greatest living master, and, if I might venture to 
intercede, I would beg you to give them this gratification. It is of 
some importance, you know, to predispose them favourably to the 
consideration of the questions which will arise." 

" I think there is a good deal in what you say," observed Beacons- 
field ; and, in the end, he complied with Lord Odo's suggestion. 


334 LIFE OF IF. H. SMITH. [^t. 52. 

\ Nevertheless, for the thnxl tone this session, 

the Government had to defend themselves ao;ainst 
a vote of* censure, moved by the Marquis of 
Hartington, and supported by the impassioned 
oratory of Gladstone, Lowe, and Forster. It was 
a false move in tactics, as the division list proved, 
for the House acquitted the Administration of 
blame by 338 votes to 195 — a crushing majority 
of 143. 




One result of the Berlin Cono-ress had been the 
cession of Cyjorus to England, to be, as Lord 
Beaconsfield described it, a " place of arms " in the 
Eastern Mediterranean. The accounts of the capa- 
bilities, resources, condition, and popular feeling of 
this island were so conflicting that the First Lord 
of the Admiralty and the Secretary of State for 
War (Colonel the Hon. F. E. Stanley, M.P.i) set 
out in the autumn to inspect it for themselves. 

The occasion was one not to be lost by that 
gentle satirist, Mr Bromley Davenjoort, M.P., who, 
more suo, celebrated the expedition in verse : — 

" The Chief of the Army and Lord of the Fleet 
Have gone out to visit both Cyprus and Crete ; 
The natives, delighted to see such fine stars, 
Christened one of them Neptune, the other one Mars ; 
They erected an altar to Stanley forthwith, 
And put up a bookstall to W. H. Smith." 

1 Now sixteenth Earl of Derby. 

336 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [jet. 53. 

On the eve of his departure for the East, Smith 
received a letter from H.K.H. the Duke of Cam- 
bridge referring to the Ptoyal Marines in terms 
which, as exj^ressing the confidential opinion of 
the Commander-in-Chief, cannot fail of being 
pleasant reading to the members of that dis- 
tinofuished branch of the service. 

p ,■ , . Gloucester House, Park Lane. ^Y., 

Sunday, October 20, '78. 

My dear Mr Smith, — I returned late last nioht from 
a general tour of inspections, & hearing that you are to 
start to-night for Cyprus with Colonel Stanley, I write a 
line to say that I have had an opportunity of seeing the 
four Divisions of Eoyal ^Marines at their respective 
Stations, and cannot speak in too high terms of their state 
of efficiency & smartness. They are splendid fellows, in 
excellent military order, & fit for any work that may be 
required of them. I am anxious to bear testimony to 
their excellent condition, as I occasionally see rumours in 
the public prints that there is some idea of reducing their 
numbers, and some naval officers go even so far as to say 
that the Eoyal Marines are now become a useless body. I 
hope you will never be induced to listen to such views. 
All the old & valuable Officers of the Navy do 7iot share 
their opinions, & I trust they will not find any encourage- 
ment on the part of the First Lord, who, after all, is the 
authority upon whom these matters depend. I am not 
a Naval Man and know little of Naval matters, but I have 
been a public servant of the Crown for many years, & 
have gained some experience in that position, & I feel 
satisfied that the Eoyal Marines are a valuable branch of 


our public services, & as such deserve every encourage- 
ment & support, & certainly not abolition, or even reduc- 
tion. — I remain, dear ]\Ir Smith, yours most sincerely, 


To this the First Lord made the following 
reply :— 

H.M.S. Himalaya, 
Off Cyprus, Oct. 29, 78. 

SiE, — I had the honour to receive your Royal High- 
ness's letter on the subject of the Eoyal ^Marines on the 
day of my departure from London, and as it was only a 
few minutes before the train started, I was unable to reply. 

I am really very much obliged to your Eoyal Highness 
for the information contained in the letter. It is most 
gratifying to us at the Admiralty to have the very high 
authority of your Eoyal Highness bearing testimony to 
the efficiency of the Marines. They have appeared to me, 
^^ith my very limited knowledge of discipline and drill, 
to be in a satisfactory state, but I am perfectly assured 
now as to their condition by the statement of your Eoyal 

So far as the present Board of Achniralty are con- 
cerned, there is certainly no foundation whatever for the 
rumours to which your Eoyal Highness has referred. 
We have no intention of effecting a permanent reduction 
in the numbers of the corps, still less of abolishing it. 
For my own part I regard them as a very valuable reserve, 
capable of being used at sea or on laud, and until wars 
cease such a reserve certainly should be retained. — I have 
the honour to be, sir, your obedient humble servant, 

A^^ H. Smith. 

VOL. I. Y 


38 LIFE OF IV. ^H. SMITH. [^t. 53. 

As was always the case when duty obhged him 
to make a prolonged absence from home, Smith 
felt the pain of parting from wife and children in 
a degree which, to some people, might appear 
disproportionate to the length of the separation. 
Bat his was a warmly affectionate nature, and he 
was not ashamed to give expression to his feelings 
in the journal which he kept during this tour. 

Monday, Oct. 21, 1S7S. — Started from Greenlands for the 
10.10 tram. Did not "light up" in the brougham as we 
had been accustomed to do. Neither of us cared for it. 
The two dear children had our last good-bye as we drove 
rapidly through the gate, and although we were not sad, 
we were, as once before, not talkative. The weather 
cleared up, and we cleared up too, and we began to say to 
each other. What a blessing it will be not to see a pouch ^ 
for perhaps a month ! 

The Admiralty was a rush. I took leave of Admiral 
Hood, and gave him parting directions. . . . 

At the Charing Cross station a saloon was provided, 
and there we met Sir George Elliot, who had come from 
Newcastle on Saturday to join us. 

Leave-taking again with Lethbridge, and, to my sur- 
prise, White, Sandifer, and Taylor, old Strand faces, 
came to shake hands, and say,' God bless you, sir. 

We were off, with a box of cigars with which Alpin 
MacGregor actually ran from the Admiralty to Charing 
Cross at the last moment, that we might not lack good 
tobacco on the road. 

^ An official " pouch " : the leather bags in which papers and de- 
spatches ai'e sent from the public departments to Ministers. 

A.D. 1878.] PAEIS. 339 

At Folkestone : — 

. . . There was also Mr Eomaine, a past Secretary to the 
Admiralty, his wife and child, all going back to Egypt. 

Codrington also found an officer friend ; but the steamer 
would not stay : the order was given, " Half speed ahead," 
the paddles turned, and there was a good deal of dirty 
water, liut no motion in the ship, and so it went on for 
half an hour. At last we got off fairly ; the rain had 
ceased, and we had a good but a slow passage across. On 
the other side we found a carriage reserved for us, and we 
travelled comfortably to Paris, now and then saying a 
very few words to each other, and they were very few, of 
those we loved. Some thoughts are too precious to be 
given expression to. Tliere is a sort of sacrilege in allow- 
ing the birds of the air to listen to them. 

Paris had been eyi fete. There had been a great giving 
away of prizes in the day, and flags on the houses and 
illuminations in the streets ; but the people were return- 
ing home, and the gas-lustres were out and the Chinese 
lanterns were going out, but still the place looked cheer- 
ful and the people happy, lingering to see the last of the 

Tuesday, 22d. — . . . Called on Stanley at the Hotel 
Balmoral. Pound Lord and Lady Skelmersdale with 
them. Promised to dine with them that evening, and 
start with them. Proceeded to the Embassy, Saw Lord 
Lyons, who promised his assistance to get vis a comfort- 
able journey, and sent Collet off with the Embassy fac- 
teur to the station to secure a saloon for tlie trip to 
Turin, . . . "We went on to the Exhibition, and as we 
entered at the Trocadero, looking down on the fair below 
us, it was impossible not to admire the energy which had 
done so much in a short time. 

340 LIFE OF IV. H. SMITH. [mt. 53. 

Our object was to see the naval models of ships, and 
the specimens of iron and steel exhibited by France and 
England. The Creuzat Exhibition was very interesting, 
and might almost alarm one for the supremacy of our 
national industries in iron and steel. 

Then we tried to get luncheon, and failed. Every place 
was crammed, and the rain fell piteously. We found our 
carriage ; cocher had left the windows open, and the seats 
were wet, the back was wet, everything was wet. 

We drove to the Hotel Bristol, and the Prince requested 
me to see him. He told me he was almost tired of the 
functions he had to go through. Prize-giving yesterday ; 
deputation to-day ; a fete at Versailles at night ; it was 
too much. He said that his brother the Duke of Edin- 
burgh had been staying two days with him, and only left 
the night before for Marseilles to join his ship, and he 
wished very much I could have seen him. We parted. 
I returned with Codrington to the hotel to write letters, 
and at 5 in came Mr Lawson of the ' Daily Telegraph ' to 
ask me what I thought of affairs. 

Well, I did not think much ; what did Mr Lawson 
think ? He said his wife had not seen Venice, and he 
was going there to-morrow for three weeks. I was off 
that night to Cyprus. " Ah ! then you don't think any- 
thing will happen just at present ? " — " I hope not." — 
" You wouldn't go if you thought anything would hap- 
pen ? " — " Oh, certainly not ! and it is just as well to show 
confidence." The ' Daily Telegraph ' and the Eirst Lord 
shook hands and parted, with professions of profound 
esteem and friendship ; and then we finished our letters, 
and went out for a stroll, and to buy Tauchnitz for the 
journey. Up and clown the Kue de la Paix, lingering at 
the jewellers' windows, admiring Sirandin's baskets, and 
the nattily dressed girls who presided over the sweetie- 

A.D. 1878.] ANGONA. 341 

shop ; wondering whether the electric light really was so 
wonderful ; thinking in between of home, and of all that 
makes home lovely. The time passed, and it was neces- 
sary to go at once to Colonel Stanley's hotel, where we 
were all to dine together. At dinner, in addition to the 
travellers, there were Lady Constance Stanley, and Lord 
and Lady Skelmersdale. Dinner was late, and there was 
frequent looking at watches ; but we got off in good time, 
and drove to the Lyons Station, where we found a good 
saloon carriage reserved for us. 

So the real journey commenced, and we found ourselves 
a party of seven, with four servants and a courier, Sir 
George Elliot, Sir Henry Holland,^ and Captain Fitz- 
george joining us at the station. 

Thursday, 2Jf.tli. — ... In Italy on the Adriatic coast 
— a rich garden-like country, with olive and mulberry 
trees planted in rows in the fields. The sea is very 
Italian-like. Fishing-boats with the peculiar jSIediter- 
ranean sails, half red, half orange-colour, sitting like large 
birds on the water. 

... At Ancona we found breakfast prepared for us, 
ordered by telegraph by the consul at Turin. Still an 
hour behind time, but we were waited for while we 
breakfasted nevertheless. 

Ancona is a large and ancient town with a considerable 
trade, and an important port. It evidently possesses 
great churches and public buildings of antiquity, and it 
is a little sad that we should have to run through places 
possessing such historical interest without looking at 
them. The people are busily at work in the fields ; 
women barelegged and barefooted, with stiff' white 
petticoats, blue bodices, red kerchiefs over head and 

* Created Baron Knutsford in 1888. 

342 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [^t. 53. 

neck, and straw hats over all. They look vigorous and 
picturesque. On tlie shore are fishermen pulling their 
nets ashore in the hot sun, with very little on but a pair 
of thin trousers and a shirt. We passed Loretto, with its 
church built round the house in which Joseph lived, 
which flew from the Holy Land — first to Albania, and 
then, not being appreciated there, to the opposite shore, 
alighting on the hill now named Loretto. 

On we go in heat, but, thanks to the late rain, not 
in dust. 

At Foggia we left the sea and struck across a vast plain 
to Naples, a five-and-a-half-hours' fast run. To the west- 
ward was a range of very grand hills. There were some 
dark clouds about them, and as the sun passed through 
them they seemed to divide, giving golden fringes to their 
edges, and lighting up all below and around with a golden 
haze which could be felt but not described. The plain 
was mostly uncultivated, and houses few and far between. 
Troops of horses here, some hundreds together, being 
driven home apparently ; cattle in the same way, and now 
and then sheep. Darkness settled upon us ; the stars 
came out brightly. We were all very tired, and those 
who did not sleep thought again of home. 

At 10.30 we rumbled into the station, Evan Mac2[re"or 
and Wilson were there to meet us, and, leaving them to 
bring on the servants and the luggage, we drove off 
through the town along the sea-front to the Mole. None 
of us could speak Italian, and at the point where the 
Mole turns off at right angles to the sea, three men 
stopped the coachman and said we were to get out there. 
We hesitated, as they did not look trustworthy, and two 
went down to see if our boat was there. The men said it 
had gone off' with the three — Codrington, Dalyell, and 
Fitzgeorge — who had preceded us in a carriage. We still 

A.D. 1878.] NAPLES. 343 

mistrusted them, when fortunately Myers, who was in 
charge of our pinnace, came up with his lantern, and said 
the boat was lying waiting for us further on. The three 
men disappeared like evil spirits in the darkness, and 
Myers got on the box of the carriage with his lantern, 
seated himself on the coachman's seat, and told him 
where to drive. 

It was very pleasant to find ourselves in the pinnace 
again, and steaming out, we were soon on board the 
Himalaya, where we were very heartily welcomed by 
our friends who had gone before. . . . 

Friday, Oct. 2o. — A bath — what luxury ! On deck, 
and the whole Bay of Naples in sunshine before us ; 
Vesuvius smoking, but clear to the top, the Observatory 
standing on a shoulder of the mountain, olive -groves 
and vineyards clambering up its sides, and white 
houses, surrounded by gardens, glistening. Descrip- 
tion is out of the question ; every variety of shape in 
rock, the sea deep blue, and the cur^'es where land and 
sea meet moulded by Nature as man could not mould 
them. The Bay of Xaples is very lovely, but, if I dare 
say it, it wants the bright green of an English landscape. 
I did not land, and therefore I saw nothing of Xaples 
and of Pompeii, which I could not see from the ship ; 
but I should be glad when holiday-time comes to visit 
the place again. 

. . . Having agreed with AVellesley and the Con- 
troller that I ought to visit the Italia, a large ship 
building by the Italian Government at the Castellamare 
Dockyard, permission was obtained from the admiral, and 
we steamed out of Xaples Harbour at about 11, coasting 
past the site of Herculaneum, in full view of the shore, 
to Castellamare. 

We dropped anchor at about 12, and went ashore 

344 LIFE OF jr. H. SMITH. [^t. 53. 

in the pinnace. The health officer wanted to stop us, 
but we told him the Himalaya was a man-of-war, and 
he was at once dumb. A moment after the captain of 
the port met us, came into the pinnace, and guided us in. 
On landing, we were received by the assistant con- 
tractor in charge and shown over tlie ship, which is 
larger and will have more powerful engines than any 
ship in the English navy. Her lines are very fine, cal- 
culated for speed. 

Here follows a technical description of the 

I was much interested, as was also Mr T. Brassey,^ 
who came with me, and who parted from me here. I 
had previously visited his yacht the Sunbeam, which was 
lying close to the Himalaya. Mrs Brassey was spending 
the day at Ptestum, but we saw the cabins, and they 
were certainly as unlike a ship's cabins as can well be 
imagined. Every square inch of wall was covered with 
ornaments — glass, china, pictures, nick-nacks — all securely 
fastened, but to the eye only looking fragile and unsafe. 
The yacht is a very good sea-boat, and Brassey himself a 
thorough sailor. 


The party on board the Himalaya, besides Mr 
Smith and Colonel Stanley, consisted of Admiral 
George Wellesley, C.B., First Naval Lord ; Sir 
Massey Lopes, Bart., M.P., a Lord Commissioner 
of the Admiralty ; Admiral Sir W. Houston 
Stewart, K.C.B., Controller of the Navy; the 

1 Created Baron Brassev in 1886. 

A.D. 1878.] VOYAGE TO CYPRUS. 345 

Hon. Alofernon Ecrerton, M.P,, Secretary to the 
Admiralty ; Captain Codrington, R.N., private 
secretary to the First Lord ; Mr R. Dalyell, 
private secretary to Colonel Stanley ; Captain 
Fitzgeorge, of the Intelligence Department of the 
War Office ; Lord Colville of Culross ; Sir Henry 
Holland, M.P. ; and Sir George Elliot, M.P. 

. . . Steaming away from Castellamare, we passed 
slowly out of the Bay of Naples. We left Capri behind 
us, and gradually drew away from the land, but still near 
enough to see its beauty. Volcanoes and earthquakes 
have tossed up the rocks into every conceivable shape 
and form, but almost always peaked and rugged ; and 
then tempests have scored out the softer particles of the 
rocks, and left the harder in bold relief. We had just a 
few clouds to produce shadows, light, and shade, and 
the deep blue of the sea formed a contrast and pictures 
impossible to describe. For a long way we could trace 
a road running terrace -like high up on the mountain- 
side, dipping from time to time into orange and olive 
woods and emerging again. ... A gorgeous sunset 
followed, and now I can understand pictures which have 
hitherto appeared exaggerated and untrue. 

We have now settled down to sea-life. I take my 
place at dinner, with Wellesley opposite to me and Stanley 
on my right, it being understood that others change about 
from day to day. Everything appears well arranged, and 
everyljody quite certain we are going to have a very 
pleasant trip. Holland and Elliot do not appear the 
worse for their long journey, and we all agree there is not 
a bad fellow in the party. 

346 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [mt. 53. 

At dinner I give H.j\I. the Queen, and our Ijand 
strikes up, and we all stand while the first bars of " God 
save the Queen " are played. Before turning in I asked 
the captain to call me when we passed Stromboli, if there 
was any fire visible. 

Saturday, Oct. 20. — Captain White, at 3 a.m., " Strom- 
boli, sir, on the starboard beam," It was A'ery hot, and I 
had not been sleeping very soundly, so I was quite glad 
to turn out, and for an hour I watched the mountain, 
being rewarded by one flare, like a lurid furnace at night 
in the Black Country. 

In the morning we found ourselves close in to the 
shores of brigand Calabria, the same high mountains, 
tossed about, seamed, rugged, convulsed, torn, and looking 
often bare, but, with a glass, vines and olives could be dis- 
covered, and many villages and even considerable towns 
perched up in commanding positions in the rocks, Sicily 
and Mount Etna had been in sight for some time, and we 
steered rapidly to the Straits of Messina, passing through 
Charybdis and close to the famous Scylla. Off Messina 
we signalled to the Telegraph Station to send word home 
that the Himalaya had passed. 

LeavinfT Messina, our course was altered to the east- 
ward, pointing to Cyprus, and we soon left Sicily behind, 
keeping, however, nearer to the end of Italy, Once I 
think I saw smoke issuing from Etna, and, if that was so, 
I had seen three volcanoes smoking within twenty-four 

Sunday, Oct. 27. — A lovely morning. I had previously 
suggested to Wellesley that the band should play hymn- 
tunes, and they appeared with the crew at church-parade 
at 11 o'clock. We had two hymns and a good sermon, in 
its way, from the clergyman, a Mr Kavanagh, . . . Sunset 
again lovely ; a few clouds in the west to take the golden 

A.D. 1878.] CRETE. 347 

light : the sun drops through them ; they seem to open to 
let him go, and with a light too dazzling to look upon, he 
is gone, and there remain a few light clouds which seem 
to have absorbed his light, and they seem for a few 
minutes only to float on the sea in the horizon like the 
bright burning embers of a furnace. Then succeeds 
rapidly every hue of which sky and water are capable. In 
the east what appears to be a cloud of darkness quickly 
rises ; in the west gold melts into deep red, red into 
orange, orange into bluish green, and that into the colder 
blue of the zenith ; that again disappearing before the 
darkness rising from the east ; — and it is night in a few 
minutes from davlight. 

At 10 P.M. we are off Crete, and at 11 pass Cape 

Monday, Oct. 28. — Still steaming away in sight of Crete, 
four to eight miles from the shore. The island, like all 
the rest, looks barren, and is A^ery mountainous, but trees 
could be detected by the glass. The outline is grand and 
beautiful. At 11 we part company with Crete, having on 
our port bow in the distance Caxos and Scarpento. . . . 

I had sundry serious talks to-day with Stanley, Welles- 
ley, and others as to our work at Cyprus ; for it is, I hope, 
to be real work. 

. . . "When we reach Larnaca we shall be 2A hours 
in advance of English time. I have kept my watch 
to " home " hours : and it is xqyj pleasant to turn to it 
and know perfectly well what is doing at home. I see 
the boy^ running out for a rose, and I almost hear the 
gong, and I imagine the cold foggy mornings you have 
had, while we are inclined to be languid from heat. . . . 
"We are now drawing close to Cyprus. Mount Olympus 

' His son, Frederick. 

348 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [mt. 53. 

and the western range of hills have been in view for some 
hours. ... I am afraid my journal may now be inter- 
rupted for a few days, as we shall be busy looking about 
the island, but I will try to pick up the threads. 

Oct. 29. — We saw a good deal of the island as we passed 
up. There are many trees, and in some places forests; 
on the side nearest Limasol a gentle slope from the 
mountains, now looking brown where there are few trees, 
but evidently green enough in winter. "We could make 
out Paphos, famous in ancient history, and we are coming 
on to Atium or Shittim, spoken of in Solomon's time, 
when the island was far more prosperous tiian it is now. 
It was 7.30 P.M. before we dropped anchor at Larnaca last 
night. ... At 10 P.M. Hornby, Wolseley, and Lord John 
Hay, with their belongings, came on board, and we had 
a friendly greeting. They looked well and cheery. We 
arranged to go ashore for a ride through the town to the 
salt lakes, to visit a mosque, and the camping-ground of 
the troops. At daylight this morning, and before the sun 
rose, Stanley and I started. We landed near Wolseley's 
place, and for the first time saw a Turkish house. Horses 
were broudit, and we mounted. The horses seemed ac- 
customed to the very broken ground, and to going up and 
down steps. 

Imagine an Italian town — Orta or Lugano — exagger- 
ated, and you have Larnaca, excepting that the houses are 
lower. Everybody is up and taking coffee, and everybody 
is very respectful. We ride along dusty paths, and reach 
the salt lakes, which are a great source of revenue, as the 
sun dries up the water in summer, and leaves a crust of 
salt, which is gathered like a harvest. 

Then we rode on to a mosque where the Prophet's nurse 
is buried. We went into the mosque, the sheik, wdio is a 
young man, being very civil. While the mollahs took off 

A.D. 1878.] LAliXACA. 349 

their shoes, we took off our hats, and examined the temple, 
the doorway to which has very good carved stone-work. 

The place is very old. They gave me some myrtle 
leaves from the enclosure, which I send with this. Great 
palms in fruit grew in the courtyard, and camels laden 
lay down outside. 

Wednesday, Oct. 30. — Sir Garnet Wolseley, Stanley, and 
I, with attendants, started on ponies to make the round of 
the Government stores, offices, and hospitals. On our 
way we passed through Printing-house Square, and by 
the Beaconsfield Chambers, Anglo-Egyptian Street, and 
hosts of others newly named by the municipality. The 
Marina, from which we started, is a narrow ledge in front 
of the houses on the beach here, and it is being widened 
by a concrete wall built on the gravelly shingle between 
piles and a cofferdam, the ground inside being made good 
with stones. A motley group they were at work — Negroes, 
Arabs, Greeks, Turks. One was reminded of " Parthians, 
Medes, and Elamites," people of every nation and tongue. 
Every kind of costume was seen to almost none at all, for 
the men worked in the water with little more than a shirt 
and a waist-belt. It was curious to be saluted by English- 
men and recognised as one passed up and down, the pony 
threading its way over stones and through dust and dirt 
up and down steps. 

The Commissioner, Colonel "White, had always two 
zaptiehs, or mounted police, in front, who rode on to 
make way, ordering bullock-carts to stop and make way, 
— swarthy fellows, all dressed differently, wearing large 
boots, into which their baggy breeches of blue or brown 
cotton were thrust ; then came a sash or belt, then per- 
haps a red and white shawl, pattern shirt or waistcoat, 
and over that a gay tunic of red, green, or yellow ; but, 
always contrasting with other colours, a fez or turban 

350 LIFE OF TF. H. SMITH. [^t. 53. 

covered the head. The commissariat stores were very 
numerous, and it was curious to see camels standing out- 
side and mules picketed waiting for work. 

. . . AVe went at a gallop through six inches of dust to 
old Larnaca, to visit the hospitals, which are in two really 
nice old houses, with a capital garden of oranges, citrons, 
and fig-trees attached. The people came out to look at 
us in great numbers. The Turkish women dressed 
entirely in white linen or muslin, covering their faces so 
that only their eyes could peep through, but they were 
quite as curious as the rest. . . . 

As there is no mention here of an incident 
which made the subject of a messroom story at 
the time, it may be set down as the malicious 
invention of some idle subaltern. It was alleo-ed, 
however, that during this ride the guard on duty 
turned smartlv out to salute the distino-uished 
party — so smartly that the ponies of the First 
Lord of the Admiralty and the Secretary of State 
for War turned sharply round, and these digni- 
taries were both precipitated into the dust. 

Thursday, Oct. 31. — We were on shore at daylight to 
start by the waggonette for Xicosia. The carriage was 
really a good one, holding eight comfortably inside. We 
started with two on the box, and one, young Lopes, on 
the roof. We had a team of three ponies harnessed 
abreast, and three mules in front of them. The air was 
quite cold before the sun was up, but by the time we 
reached Dewdrop Inn, a tent pitched by an Englishman 
at the first change of horses, it became very hot. The 

A.D. 1878.] NICOSIA. 351 

road was undulating and better than I expected, but the 
country had an arid look from the want of rain ; and, as 
much of the rock is limestone and very white, there is a 
painful glare in the sun under the deep blue and abso- 
lutely unclouded sky. The desolate look too is increased 
by the fact that any houses or villages you see are built 
of mud brick baked in the sun, and of the same colour as 
the ground. The houses in the village are mostly of one 
storey, with flat roofs, and from a distance they look like 
an English stable or outhouse, but they are frequently 
comfortable, and have trees and gardens inside the en- 
closure. Away we sped from the Dewdrop Inn, rising to 
the watershed between Nicosia and Larnaca, about 800 
feet up, from which we had a good view of the plain 
which lies to the south of the crater or northern range 
of mountains. Generally the ground was arid-looking, 
but there were patches of green in considerable numbers, 
and it was evident that wherever a stream ran there was 
great fertility and beauty. Wells were numerous, and 
they resembled the pictures one has seen of Jacob's well ; 
a hole in the around and stone basins into which the 
water is poured when it is raised, from which and the 
stone troughs around them the sheep and the cattle 

"We arrived outside the walls of Nicosia at eleven, and 
were met by the Commissioner, Colonel Biddulph, who 
ordered the driver to go across some fields to the camp 
without entering the town, and we passed for nearly a 
mile outside the walls, which are still in good repair and 
very thick. At the camp I was put into a hut which was 
divided in three compartments, first occupied by Stanley, 
the next by "Wellesley, and the last by me. The rest of 
the party were lodged in the same way, the servants being 
under canvas. 

352 LIFE OF IV. H. SMITH. [jet. 53. 

In the afternoon we were all mounted on ponies and 
mules, and went off, escorted by zaptiehs, to Nicosia. I 
rode on with Sir Garnet and Colonel Stanley, the rest 

Our way lay through the gate, passing the place where 
camels and mules camped outside. On arriving inside 
the gate we were received by a bodyguard of mounted 
zaptiehs. Two led the way, and the rest followed us 
through the bazaar, or street of shops. There were 
quarters of bootmakers and leather-sellers — a great trade 
in Nicosia ; greengrocers, butchers, silk-mercers, every 
trade keeping very much together. The streets are 
paved very badly, and the horses, shod with a round ring 
of iron, slid about. The people stared and gaped, fre- 
quently bowing and touching their foreheads and chests 
as we passed by. The mixture of colours and races, — 
Turkish women in white from head to foot ; Greeks with 
black hair, large eyes, and olive face, always having con- 
trasting colours to light them up ; men with turbans and 
green jackets, some with a kind of long dressing-gown. 
All but ourselves in Eastern as compared with European 

The streets were much shaded from the sun by vines 
trained on lattices overhead or by matting with little 
openings overhead. 

The shops were just as they are painted by J. F. Lewis ; 
no glass fronts, and the whole front open. We went on 
to the Mosque of St Sophia, which is an old Gothic 
Christian church of about the thirteenth century. The 
doorway and portico are in excellent preservation, and 
very rich and beautiful, but the Turks have marred the 
windows, and have of course not restored anything. It 
is sad to witness the havoc they have made, and their 
apparent inability to keep anything alive. AYe saw an- 

A.D. 1878.] NICOSIA TO MATTY AN I. 353 

other fine old church, which is now a granary ; went on to 
the Konah or Government office, and a kahn which is 
turned into zaptieh barracks and prison, the crowd in- 
creasing to witness our proceedings. 

Eeturning, we stopped for tea at Colonel Biddulph's 
house, where I met the Financial Officer of the island, 
]\Ir Kelner, and the legal adviser of Sir Garnet, Mr 

On our way back to camp we rode over a Turkish 
burial-ground, which is quite unprotected, and past the 
battle-ground where Eichard Coeur-de-Lion fought and 
concjuered just a few years ago, and as darkness came on 
we returned to camp. 

Dinner under canvas with Sir Garnet Wolseley and my 

Friday, Nov. 1. — Very clear and very fine. Morning a 
little cold before the sun was fairly up ; and we were all 
in the saddle by 6.30 for a 35-mile ride to visit Mattyani 
camp and the 71st regiment, and General Payn's camp at 
Dali. On our way we met many people going in to mar- 
ket at Nicosia. The route lay for some miles over a rich 
plain, now burnt up except where there happened to be 
irrigation. We crossed several water-courses, some quite 
deep and all rough, but our horses seemed rather to like 
the climbing about. My pony was a capital one, but it 
was smaller than Brownie, and sometimes when we were 
cantering on broken ground I felt there was danger of my 
legs getting mixed up with his legs. The country towards 
Mattyani was very bare and rocky, and there was no 
shade. When we arrived at the camp we saw breakfast 
laid out for us under a tent, and notwithstanding heat, we 
set to work vigorously. Then we visited the tents and 
huts, especially the hospital, and were very glad to find 
the regiment healthy and in good spirits. We then 

VOL. I. Z 

354 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [jet. 53. 

started for General Payn's camp, and limched there. It 
was a striking sight. The horses tethered under trees as 
their stables, and having no other shelter, the bed of tlie 
river below quite dry, and, at the back of the tents, 
cotton plantations and trees and wells. As we were 
lunching, a Bengal st/cc, used as a postman, passed in 
front, and, with his copper-coloured face, black hair, and 
white turban and dress, he looked, as he was, a striking 
evidence of the variety of form England can bring to bear 
to discharge her duties in the world. After lunch I 
mounted a fresh horse, and rode home in the cool of the 
evening, passing few human habitations, but many evi- 
dences of past prosperity. Dinner in tent again and to 

Saturday, Nov. 2. — We were waited upon in camp by 
the chief monk of the monastery, with attendant priests, 
to pay his respects to the " Ministers." Sir Garnet uses 
a portion of the building for his offices, and we are en- 
camped on ground belonging to the monks. The chief 
was a handsome old man, with a long white beard. He 
and his friends appeared exceedingly anxious to express 
their delight at being under English rule. After break- 
fast we rode into Nicosia, and paid another visit to the 
bazaar. We made purchases of silk, and then proceeded 
to Colonel Biddulph's house, until it was time to start in 
the waggonette for Larnaca. We had to wait for a few 
minutes for some of our party, and during that time a 
respectful but a curious crowd gathered round. Away we 
went with our team of six, up the rugged street and out 
through the massive gate, on which the winged lion of St 
Mark still remains to mark Venetian rule. At the gate 
the mounted zaptiehs formed as a guard of honour, and 
headed by their captain, followed as an escort up to the 

A.D. 1878.] FAMAGUSTA. 355 

top of the first hill, where they saluted, wheeled, and re- 
turned to Xicosia. 

Our journey down was as the journey up. We took a 
cup of 4 o'clock tea at sixpence apiece all round at the 
Dewdrop Inn, and found the landlord cheery in his little 
bell-tent. An English friend of his, who had just come 
over from Syria to pay him a visit, told us the people 
there all thought themselves badly served that we had 
not taken the mainland instead of Cyprus. Heat and 
dust, and vet it is November 2d. . . . 

Sunday, Nov. 3. — Under weigh early. Church as usual 
at 10.30, and this time the band played the usual chants 
for the psalms as well as the hymns. I think we most of 
us enjoyed the service thoroughly. 

At 12 we were off Famagusta, where Admiral Hornby 
was already anchored in the Helicon. We went inside 
the reef which runs from the old harbour parallel with 
the land, so as to constitute a breakwater almost as good 
as that at Plymouth, within which large ships can lie in 
perfect safety. 

The town is surrounded by a very thick wall, and it is 
only approached from the sea by a water-gate. The ship's 
boat drew near the shore, and we saw a crowd of people 
on the shore waiting our arrival. On landing, we had to 
pass under the domed gateway some hundred feet thick. 
Inside there were ponies and mules awaiting to take us to 
see the ruins of the town. It was impossible to walk, for 
the sun was hotter than we had before felt it. Our first 
work was np to the top of the bastion commanding a view 
of the port. Such desolation I had never before wit- 
nessed. Everything is a ruin, and much of the ruin is as 
if it had been accomplished only a few months, or at most 
years, ago. There are, they say, remains of forty churches 


56 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [^t. 53. 

in the town, and not one perfect one remaining. The 
cathedral is turned into the one mosque in the town, dis- 
figured and dirty, with tower and pinnacles gone, the 
pillars outside coated with whitewash and green paint 
where the stone capitals should be, but still in its mourn- 
ful decay retaining externally in its doorways, windows, 
and flying buttresses the most delicate and beautiful 
tracery, no one window or pinnacle being like another. 

We visited another splendid ruin, and on the walls 
of the roofless apse we could trace perfectly mural paint- 
ings of the Agony, Crucifixion, and other scenes in our 
Lord's Passion, the peculiarity being that the drawing 
was perfect and the colours strong and good. The place 
was the most mournful I have ever seen. It was literally 
a heap of ruins, and from the good preservation in which 
some parts are found, man and not decay must have 
created the havoc. We rode between the remains of 
palaces and churches, and there are now only a few 
hovels left, which are built out of the ddhris of past 
greatness. The Conimissioner, Captain Inglis, took us 
to the Konah, and it seem.ed to give pleasure to the 
soldier-servants to see our faces. We now returned by 
the palace, really a vast outline of a fine building, to 
the port, where we took leave of our friends and re- 
embarked on the Himalaya. 

There are the remains of forty churches, and only 250 
living men in the town. Mr Millard, our surveying 
officer, navigated the sliip out of the harbour, and after 
a lovely sunset, we steamed slowly round the land to- 
wards Kyrenia, where we arrived by daylight on 

Monday, Nov. Jf,. — Fancy a range of hills, extending 
quite to the height of Scottish hills, at the distance of 
from five to ten miles from the shore, sloping from the 

A.D. 1878.] BAFFO. 357 

last half of the distance gradually towards the sea, with 
a somewhat thick wood as it appears from the sea ; but 
when we got ashore we found they were fine carob-trees, 
olives, and pines, thickly planted in fields which, al- 
though mostly bare now, are all under cultivation. We 
landed at Kyrenia, an old Venetian port with castle 
and walls still standing, and looking very picturesque 
from the sea as the Union-jack floated from the ramparts. 
Passing through the small town, we soon came to the 
camp of the 42d Highlanders, the Black Watch. The 
poor fellows were in a very depressed state, as they had 
had a good deal of fever and ague, which made them 
look washed out, and they had no games or amusements ; 
but if all is well they will soon be moved. There is one 
lady, a wife of an officer, but there is only one other 
officer to call on her, so her life cannot be very cheerful. 

Some of our party went up to a monastery in the 
mountains, and brought down beautiful flowers and fruit 
— oranges, lemons. The country appears to produce 
everything. In the evening w^e said good-bye to Admiral 
Hornby, who returned to Constantinople, and we sailed 
to Paphos or Baftb. 

Tuesday, Nov. 5. — Arrived at Baffo, and landed in a 
little harbour full of rocks. There was a tower or 
castle there, in which death was certain, it was so un- 
healthy. More zaptiehs and more receptions. Negroes 
and Nubians seem especially to prevail here. 

On our way round from Kyrenia, and while we were 
lying there, we could see clearly the mountains of Asia 
Minor, and I shall therefore have seen all the quarters 
of the world by the time I get home. 

Landing at Baffo was a serious business. Our boat 
bumped on rocks, and our poor coxswain trembled for 

358 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [^t. 53. 

the Enchantress pinnace. At one time it appeared likely 
we should want the aid of an Arab boat, but we got 
on shore safely. 

Every description of steed met us — English ponies, Arab 
horses, mules, donkeys — with a corresponding variety of 

I first mounted a pony, which, however, insisted on 
showing himself off as Euby does sometimes, and as the 
sun poured down upon me, I begged after a few minutes 
to be allowed to exchange it. 

Another was found, and the stirrup-leather broke as I 
put my foot into it. Then a beautiful mule was brought 
forward with a pad on its back and loose stirrups thrown 
across it. I mounted, balancing myself carefully, and 
had a very comfortable lide. 

Our road lay through ruins, marble and granite columns 
many hundred years old lying by the wayside — remnants 
of two separate periods of civilisation, pagan and Chris- 
tian. There were rock tombs — and one realises that 
Abraham was buried in a trough hewn out of the rock 
— and bits of arches and carvings of Christian churches. 

So we proceeded, passing near where tradition says 
Venus arose out of the sea, and a temple to Aphrodite 
was raised on to the ground on which the camp of the 42d 
detachment stands. 

The men were better and more in fettle than those 
at Kyrenia, but some were unwell. We returned in a 
blazing sun and embarked for Limasol, coasting along a 
rich country. 

At Limasol we landed at a little pier covered with 
myrtle, and carpeted in honour of our arrival. There 
was a crowd and a deputation. The municipality wished 
to present an address, which was read to us with great 

A.D. 1878.] PORT SAID. 359 

emphasis by a gentleman iu black and a top-hat. When 
he finished there was " Leto ! " or " Long live the Queen ! " 
" Long live the Commissioner and the Ministers ! " in 
good round cheers, and these were followed by " God save 
the Queen " in Greek, sung by the schoolboys of the 
town. We hurried through the town, for time was pre- 
cious, to the castle, the kahn, and the jail ; and coming 
out of that, we were met by another crowd and another 
address in Greek, to which we listened gravely, not under- 
standing a word, and all agreeing that Mr Gladstone 
ought to be there to translate it. 

We went on board, transferred Sir Garnet Wolseley 
and Lord Gilford to the Humber, which was waitincj, and 
started for Port Said. Poor Sir Garnet felt our parting, 
but he said our visit had been a real comfort to him. 
Fine weather again favoured us, and on Wednesday, Xov- 
ember 6, we arrived at Port Said, the mouth of the Suez 
Canal. There were ceremonies to be gone through — a 
Frencli admiral with his flag-ship, the Governor of Port 
Said, the Admiralty agent, were all come on board. We 
got through all this, and started for a short run up the 
canal. It is much to the credit of France that M. de 
Lesseps, persevering, accomplished the greatest work of 
the century in making a navigable canal through the 
sands of the desert. We returned to Port Said, and took 
a stroll in the town. There is an Arab lake (dwelling) 
village just outside on piles over the Lake Menzaleh, 
which miofht have been one of the Swiss lake villages of 
some hundred years ago, now being discovered or un- 
covered. The town of Port Said is most uninteresting, 
but it seems to embrace every kind of people and lan- 
guage under the sun. The Arab boys were troublesome 
in their attention to us, but a school we saw amused us 

360 LIFE OF W. H. SMITH. [^t. 53. 

much. All the children made as much noise as they could. 
They, master and all, sat as Arabs sit together, squatting 
on a mat, and as they said or learned their lessons their 
bodies swayed to and fro like seesaws, the master, in 
turban, using a bamboo stick for the heads of the most 
distant, if they failed to jabber and to sway. We went 
on board, and sailed at 5 p.m. for Alexandria. 





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Life and times of the Right 
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