Life of Henry George

third period
CHAPTER VI

BRITISH LECTURE CAMPAIGN

1884 AGE, 45


THE scenes into which Mr. George was hurrying exceeded his fondest wishes. Next to Gladstone, he was at the moment the most talked of man in England. This was chiefly because more than forty thousand copies of the sixpenny edition of "Progress and Poverty" had been sold. The book was the burning theme. It engaged the critical reviews and the newspapers; it entered into lectures, debates and mock parliaments. It had stormed the redoubts of conservatism – the great seats of learning. Rt. Hon. Henry Fawcett, M.P., Postmaster-General and Professor of Political Economy at Cambridge, had grappled with the book's chief proposal and afterwards incorporated his views in his "Manual of Political Economy." For Oxford spoke one of its professors, Arnold Toynbee, M.A., a young man of high character and brilliant parts, who in two lectures before fashionable West End London audiences essayed to answer the book.[1]

So wide had become the interest in it, that timid Privilege grew alarmed and the landlord "Liberty and Property Defense League," through Lord Bramwell, one of its council, made a furious attack; while the "Edinburgh Review" linked Herbert Spencer's "Social Statics" with "Progress and Poverty" in a common condemnation, and brought from the English philosopher his first indirect denial of the truth he had proclaimed in the unequivocal words that "the right of mankind at large to the earth's surface is still valid; all deeds, customs and laws not withstanding."[2]

And well might the special interests take alarm. Not only had no work on political economy excited such general attention, but no book of the kind had ever struck so boldly at the mother of vested rights – private property in land. "Abolition, without compensation," was the cry. A fleeting curiosity in an audacious and brilliantly written work might perhaps account for its circulation among the educated classes; but how explain its popularity among the labouring masses who could rarely afford to buy or find time or inclination to read a book of any kind? Yet certain it was that literature could furnish no precedent for the way this book was going the rounds of working men's unions, clubs and societies; and indications were not wanting that its sentiments with time must crystallise political and social discontent among the file leaders of the all-pervading army of the poor and rouse a demand not to be satisfied with the trifling reforms that hitherto had been conferred with much show and condescension.

True, no less a personage than the Prime Minister, Mr. Gladstone, had pronounced as "in form and substance the best answer to George," an address delivered by the Government Statistician, Robert Giffen, who proved by figures the "progress of the working classes in the last century." But on the other hand, those missionaries among the miserably poor, the Congregational Union, gave voice to "the bitter cry of outcast London" in a pamphlet that showed with startling vividness that a vast part of the population lived in homes "compared with which the lair of a wild beast would be a comfortable and healthy spot"; while the "Pall Mall Gazette," helped by the Salvation Army, soon afterwards revealed indubitably the existence of a horrible traffic in young girls. Even so-called Radical leaders could see what might come. "If something is not done quickly to meet the growing necessities of the case," cried the Rt. Hon. Joseph Chamberlain, "we may live to see theories as wild and methods as unjust as those suggested by the American economist adopted as the creed of no inconsiderable portion of the electorate."[3] Chamberlain, like a shrewd politician, had his ear to the ground. Nor did he overlook the subsequent fact that a typical English audience crowded into St. James's Hall, in West End London, late in December to hear the Irish patriot, Michael Davitt, lecture on "The Land for the People" under the auspices of the Land Reform Union. As Mr. Chamberlain said: social reform was in the air.

It was on the last day of December (1883) that Henry George arrived in Liverpool. He was met by Davitt and Richard McGhee, of Glasgow. Davitt was now without let or hindrance preaching the doctrine of land nationalisation and paying no more attention to the Parnellites (who for the time were in eclipse) than to those physical-force men, who were trying dynamite explosions in England as a means of compelling public recognition of Irish claims. After stopping off over night at Birmingham to consult with Thomas F. Walker, who had been distributing "Progress and Poverty" extensively among the members of the Liberal Association, the political sponsors for Joseph Chamberlain and John Bright, Mr. George went up to London; which however he left again, to make a formal entry on Sunday afternoon, January 6, when he was received just outside Euston Station by a concourse of labour organisations; and from the top of a four-wheel cab he made a short speech, thanking them for their welcome and explaining the purpose of his coming.

The conspicuous movers in the Land Reform Union were William Saunders, Miss Helen Taylor, Thomas F. Walker, Rev. S.D. Headlam, James Durant, Rev. Phillip A. Wicksteed, Richard McGhee, Thomas Briggs, Dr. Gavin B. Clark, H.H. Champion, R.P.B. Frost, J.L. Joynes, Rev. J.E. Symes and William Reeve, the publisher. These and others made up a fund to meet the expenses of the George campaign, for, unlike the custom of pay-lectures in the United States, most lectures in Great Britain are delivered practically free, only a few front seats being charged for and reserved. Arrangement had been made for George to lecture in most of the important cities and towns of Great Britain, the campaign to be opened in St. James's Hall, London, on January 9).

But before he opened the course, Mr. George had to settle two important questions. The first affected his attitude towards socialism. Mr. Champion, the treasurer, and Mr. Frost, the secretary of the Land Reform Union, were in reality not wholly in harmony with the individualism of "Progress and Poverty," but believed rather in the collectivism, of Karl Marx, who had a few months before died in London after a long residence there. These two men, with one or two others, waited on Mr. George and plainly said that if he did not make the socialistic programme part of his own and call for nationalisation of capital, including all machinery, the socialists would be compelled to oppose his campaign. Mr. George replied with some sharpness that he had come across the sea on invitation of the Land Reform Union to lecture on the principles with which his name was identified and no others; that his principles were clearly explained in his books; and that the socialists could support or oppose, as they pleased. As a matter of fact Champion and Frost made no further objection and quietly acquiesced in George's plans, but men like Hyndman at the head of the socialistic movement per se made covert opposition.

The other question for settlement was as to "confiscation."[4] This was the most common objection to the George proposal, and even some of the members of the Land Reform Union urged him to be as mild as possible and to say nothing against compensation to landlords, for, said they, the English nation will never consent to take property from the landlords without paying for it. His answer to them was short and clear. The land of right belonged to all the people, or it belonged to those who called themselves landlords. If it belonged to the landlords, they might do what they pleased with their own; and no one could have basis for complaint. If it belonged to all the people, then it should be restored at once; nor could they in justice be called upon to pay one penny for getting back what was of right theirs. To give compensation, would be to concede the landlords' right of title. He himself did not want confiscation – he wanted to stop confiscation – to stop those who called themselves landlords from taking rent, which did not belong to them, and to give it to the community to which it did belong, which he proposed to do by means of taxation. However, he said he would tell his audience that they could compensate if they pleased, but that he did not think it would be just to do so. Thus Mr. George had to contend with two sets of his own supporters before he met the common enemy. But he hesitated no more with the one than with the other.

As showing the habits and temperament of the man, it may be interesting to note the way he prepared himself for what he believed was to be the most important address in the tour – the lecture in St. James's Hall. Most of the day before he kept to his lodgings near Russell Square thinking out the line of his discourse, which was to be on the subject of "Progress and Poverty." Slowly and with labour he dictated to his son. In the afternoon he sent for another stenographer and worked late into the evening alternately with the two writers. In this way he used his son up and sent him off to bed, continuing with the other shorthand writer. Early next morning when the son waked he found that his father had been up and at work betimes. The father announced, somewhat to the young man's dismay, that he had cast aside all the work of the day before and that since rising he had commenced on a new, and the true, line. Proceeding along this new line, Mr. George dictated to his son and the other stenographer who was again called in, all that day, except when interrupted by members of the committee. He was in fact busy almost up to the moment when the committee called to conduct him to the hall. Then there was a scramble to get papers together, to dress and get off. And the upshot of it all was that the notes were not used, for only in main points and general sequence of ideas was that which was delivered like that which had been dictated with so much labour.

The great hall was packed; every seat and every foot of available standing room was filled. The platform even was crowded, mostly with members of the Union, and Michael Davitt conspicuous. All classes and vocations were represented there – nobles and commoners, men noted in politics, literature, the ministry and the professions, or leading in the world of manual labour. Ill health prevented John Ruskin from presiding or even attending, but Henry Labouchere, M.P., editor of "Truth" filled the chair with capital effect. He said that the country had in the last two centuries four Georges who had meddled with and muddled public affairs. Now came George the Fifth who did not wear a crown, but who came with keen intelligence and a generous impulse – a man whose sympathies were with the poor and lowly, instead of with the high and mighty.

Just before rising Mr. George whispered to his friend, Thomas F. Walker: "If I speak too long, pull my coat-tail. I have the habits of a writer, rather than those of a speaker. When I get thinking, ideas come with a rush; so that when I am on my feet I lose the sense of time." But Mr. Walker forgot the suggestion in the charm of the finished address. The pre-eminent qualities of the lecture were sincerity and confidence. As in California he had said to the early California reviewer that "when a man has so thought out and tested his opinions that they have in his mind the highest certainty, it would be but affectation for him to assume doubts he does not feel," so now, as he stood up before the great and distinguished audience in the capital of the world, he had that dead certainty of air, which, accompanied by a direct, sympathetic manner, a flow of clear language, a logical order, quick response and complete command of the subject, captivated his listeners, and caused the arch Tory newspaper, "The Standard," next morning to say sarcastically: "He is perfectly simple and straightforward; a man with a mission; born to set right in a single generation the errors of six thousand years."

The climax of the lecture was reached when Mr. George said that charity could not lift the poor of London from the misery and squalor of the slums – that resort must be made to justice. Cheers interrupted, and a voice cried: "Who brought them into the world?" "God Almighty, in my opinion," cried the lecturer, electrifying his audience; "and whom God Almighty brings into the world who shall dare to put out?"

Justice, he went on to say, compelled the returning of the land to the people without cost – but if doing this should work a hardship upon some – the helpless widow, for instance – whose case was constantly being brought forward – he would favour some provision for that. Statistics showed some two hundred thousand widows in England of all kinds and ages. Every widow, from the lady who sat on the throne down to the poorest labourer's widow, could receive, not as a matter of charity, but as a matter of justice, a pension of �100 a year Laughter, cheers and some hissing followed this, and the Tory papers next day denounced George for disrespect to the Queen. In response to calls at the close of the lecture, Michael Davitt made a short, spirited speech, thus again publicly associating himself with Henry George.

The London lecture was to the press throughout the three kingdoms like a spark to gunpowder. Mr. George wrote to his wife, "I can't begin to send you the papers in which I am discussed, attacked and commented on, for I would have to send all the English, Scottish and Irish press. I am getting advertised to my heart's content, and I shall have crowds wherever I go.... I could be a social lion if I would permit it. But I won't fool with that sort of thing."

The new book "Social Problems," British rights to which the author sold to Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., was now out in various editions; and this, with his former books, was to be seen on every bookstall of any pretensions in the British Islands. He had received �400 for "Social Problems," which he sent home to pay some debts in New York and California.

The first provincial lectures were at Plymouth on the 15th and Cardiff on the 16th of January, touching both of which Mr. George wrote Mr. Walker of Birmingham, from Cardiff: "My lectures both at Plymouth and here were, I think, telling successes." Then relative to "confiscation," he said:

 

    "I believe I am wise in taking the advance ground clearly and plainly. No matter how moderate I had been, there would have been precisely the same denunciation. The real cause of this is that the land-owning classes begin to realise the danger, not any particular thing I say.

    "The advance, whatever it may be, will draw the fire; and I am doing a service to more moderate men in drawing that fire so much ahead of the ground they occupy. It will make them seem and feel quite moderate.

    "As for your Radicals who have got into a flurry, don't mind that. In a very short time they will rally again. In a few months from now you will see many of the men who are now so fearful of confiscation openly avowing themselves 'confiscators.'

    "The Tory press are doing our work. They will do more for us than we could by any exertion do for ourselves."

A fortnight afterwards George wrote to Walker: "The thing to do is for you to pose as a compensationist, and me as a confiscationist, just as Snap & Gobble join different churches. With you and Miss Taylor representing the conservative wing, the landlords may well ask to be preserved from their friends."[5]

After Cardiff, Mr. George spoke in Bristol and Birmingham. The Birmingham "Owl" said of the latter lecture:

 

    "It was a magnificent audience that gathered to hear Henry George, and one which gave forth no uncertain sound. It was one of the most unanimous and enthusiastic audiences I have seen in town for years. When Mr. George first came forward the cheering was tremendous. And again, when, after a portrayal of the evils consequent on the present state of things, the lecturer asked 'Was it not time that a missionary came from somewhere?' the applause was deafening, as the crowded audience recognised and accepted the missionary in Henry George."

Hard upon the London lecture, the official Liberals had followed suit of the Tory and Parnellite parties, and tabooed George. Evidence of this was given in each place where he spoke; but it was most marked in Liverpool, where he appeared on January 25. The Junior Reform Club, which had invited him to be its guest at dinner, withdrew the invitation; Mr. Samuel Smith, M.P., a wealthy and distinguished citizen of Liverpool, who had spent much in public benevolence, delivered a set lecture against the American; and the papers were united in condemnation. So that, although a large audience gathered in the Rotunda to hear the radical land reformer, the customary platform support had to be dispensed with. He wrote to Walker:

 

    "My lecture here was a victory that would have done your heart good. The set against me in Birmingham was nothing to the set against me here. Poor Jackson, on whom all arrangements devolved, seemed utterly demoralised.... He had not ventured to send out any complimentary tickets – said no clergyman or man of note would accept one. Not a soul was to go on the stage with me save Dr. Cummins, M.P.; and I urged him not to, but he insisted that he would. Samuel Smith's relatives and family were in the audience, which was evidently largely in sympathy with him, and warmly applauded his name when I mentioned it. But the consciousness of opposition, which always rouses me, gave me the stimulus I needed to overcome physical weakness, for I was in bad trim from loss of sleep, and I carried the audience with me, step by step, till you never saw a more enthusiastic crowd. Jackson has told me since that he believed organised opposition had been planned; but that before I got to the place where they could object I had the audience, and the fuglemen left in disgust. At the close I called for a vote on compensation, and there were only three hands held up against it – two of which Jackson afterwards told me were those of land speculators. A rush was made for the platform as soon as I got through, and I could not get away for some time for the handshaking. Of the effects at the time there could be no doubt, and I hear of the most gratifying effects upon those who did not go."

The Liverpool "Post" next day said editorially: "Mr. George's lecture in Liverpool last night had all the sweet and seductive beauty which has stolen away the judgment of many a reader of his famous book.... He apparently has convinced a large number of persons that thieving is no theft, for his great audience last night pronounced unanimously in favour of appropriating the land of the country and giving the present owners no compensation."

But if Mr. George was making conquests, his opponents were not idle, the most conspicuous among them being Frederic Harrison, the Positivist, and John Bright. After George had spoken in Birmingham, Bright made a speech there on "the most extraordinary, the greatest, the wildest, the most remarkable" social proposition "imported lately by an American inventor." George read Bright's speech in Scotland, whence he wrote Walker (Dundee, February 3):

 

    "I can fancy your disgust if you heard Mr. Bright. The old man is utterly ignorant of what he is talking about. If John Bright would meet me on the platform and discuss the matter, I would be glad of the opportunity. If you think it would be a good thing to do, write to him to that effect.

    "Frederic Harrison is lecturing against me. Has delivered two lectures in Edinburgh, and lectures again, to-night at Newcastle. His is the very craziness of opposition, if I can judge by the reports.

    "We are certainly getting the animals stirred up, and before the Liberals know it will have the Radical rank and file, no matter what may become of their leaders. I am glad it was Bright and not Chamberlain that came out against us – not that I care for any one's opposition, but that I am glad that he has not taken a stand which might injure his future usefulness."

Mr. George's confidence of getting the "Radical rank and file" came not only from what he had seen in England, but from what he was observing in Scotland, which he had entered after lecturing in Bolton and Newcastle.

If England had discontent among her slum population to make her ripe for the consideration of the land question, so Scotland had her own condition, perhaps more directly traceable to the land problem. Two years previously the crofters in the Western Island of Skye, had centred attention by resisting, for a time with force, the inclosure, by a large land-owner, of a piece of land that had been a common grazing ground from time immemorial. Physical resistance was put down only when the crofters had been brutally clubbed by a body of police sent up from Glasgow for the purpose. Public opinion sided strongly with the peasants, and the incident blew into live sparks again the seemingly dead ashes of wrath originally set into fierce glow by clearances and evictions in many parts of Scotland, some of them within comparatively recent times. Sheep and deer of large proprietors had become the solitary occupants of regions once studded with the habitations of a hardy people. A Royal Commission had been appointed to examine into crofter grievances and the still worse cotter troubles. This Commission subsequently effected what had been brought about in Ireland – a reduction in rents. But this could not be a complete remedy. The questions of property, ownership, equal rights, justice had been raised. It only needed a man like Henry George, with a simple, clear-cut proposition to give point and force to the general conviction of wrong, by turning all thought into a single channel – which he proceeded to do by demanding the restoration of the common rights in land. The opening of the Scottish course with a lecture in Dundee was therefore under auspicious circumstances. The lecture was in Newsome's Circus. Rev. David Macrae, a vigorous no-compensationist, was in the chair, and three or four other clergymen and several councilmen among those on the platform.

Yet there was the fly in the ointment. To many minds Henry George had desecrated the Lord's Day by participating in a mass meeting in London on the Sunday of his public entry into the Metropolis. But this lapse was quickly forgotten in the glow of religious fervor he excited when, by invitation, he delivered in Rev. Mr. Macrae's temporary church, in the Kinnaird Hall, the lecture on "Moses" which, while at work on "Progress and Poverty," he had delivered, in San Francisco, before the Young Men's Hebrew Association of that city. Its eloquence and fire and vivid picturing spoke to the hearts and minds of a people still possessing many of the traits of the Covenanter of old, and as it were, gave the active, speaking support of the Scriptures to the proclamation of equal rights to the land. Mr. George repeated the "Moses" lecture several times in Scotland during this and subsequent trips, and latterly had it put in pamphlet form for free distribution. This lecture and other things tended in the minds of many to give a religious benediction to all his utterances; and a number of his lectures in the Highlands on the land question were opened or closed with prayer, pronounced by some devout person on the platform or in the audience.

The lecture course was north to Wick and Keiss, and incidentally Mr. George visited John o' Groat's house at the extreme northeastern point of Great Britain. Then he retraced his steps and turned west to the Island of Skye. He lectured at Portree and made informal speeches on the land question at Glendale and Uig. Edward McHugh, who was acting as Mr. George's lecture agent, says of the Portree lecture:

 

    "McDonald of Skeabost, an important landlord in the island, was present and showed a lively interest. After the address proper he took the floor to ask what Mr. George recommended the people to do with the landlords if their lands should be taken from them. Mr. George replied that he would do with the landlords as the fisherman does with the oyster – open it, take out the fish and throw the shells away. The answer made a sensation and McDonald stalked out of the hall. Mr. George did not learn until afterwards of the singular aptness of his reply, since this same McDonald had taken from the people of Skye the immemorial privilege of fishing for oysters in the shallow waters of the island and had thereby increased his own and his fellow landlords' income by sending the supply to the London market."

From Skye, Mr. George proceeded to Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. But of all the lectures in Scotland, that in Glasgow proved to be the most important. He spoke there twice, on February 18 and again on February 25, both times in the City Hall. The first lecture was of the regular course. There were some empty seats in the hall, but the audience was anything but apathetic, for at the close five hundred persons remained to take part in the formation of an organisation to propagate the ideas held by the lecturer. To launch this organisation in good style, the second meeting was held, with Mr. George as the chief spokesman, John Murdock in the chair, and William Forsyth, proprietor of the Cobden Hotel of the city, to move the resolutions formally establishing the Scottish Land Restoration League – a title suggested by Richard McGhee, one of the active workers in the plan. The hall was jammed, and enough people were turned away to have made another big meeting. Mr. George was at his best, as were all the other speakers. The audience was hot with enthusiasm and gave itself up to wild cheering when a couple of pipers in costume came pressing through the throng playing national airs. In a word, the Scottish Land Restoration League started off with a furor, and 1940 signatures were handed in to the committee for enrollment on the membership list. William Forsyth was elected President, and Mr. George wrote the League's proclamation to the people of Scotland. The action in Glasgow was contagious. Similar societies were formed very quickly in Dundee, Aberdeen, Inverness, Edinburgh, Greenock and several other cities.

Entering England again, Mr. George lectured in Leeds, Oxford, Cambridge and Hull, and then went back to London. He had set out on the tour expecting to meet with all manner of opposition arising from frightened special interests, class feelings, local prejudices and other circumstances. Yet strange as it may appear, it remained for Oxford, that ancient and famous seat of learning, to earn the distinction of discreditable conduct. Michael Davitt, who came there shortly afterwards to lecture, was locked in his hotel chambers by a body of the University students, and did not get out in time to speak. Mr. George did not suffer this treatment, but his lecture in this intellectual centre was attended by the turmoil of the hustings. There were honours, for during his two days' stay in Oxford he was the guest of Professor F. Max Müller; and at the lecture, which was held in the Clarendon Assembly room, F. York Powell, M.A., lecturer in law, presided, and a number of ladies and men prominent in the University attended. But in the midst of the audience, which consisted chiefly of under-graduates, sat a bunch of unruly young aristocrats, who, by shouting, ironically cheering and general noise, kept up a disturbance throughout the proceedings. This made a smooth and connected discourse impossible; but when the lecturer, assuming his audience for the most part to be well grounded in economic subjects, cut short his address proper to answer questions, one man after another took the floor, not to put simple interrogatories, as invited, but, possibly following the University debating habit, to make a speech, often with the harsh manner and strong epithets of a special pleader.

Alfred Marshall, lecturer on political economy at Balliol College, was the first to rise. He observed, among other things, that not a single economic doctrine in Mr. George's book was both new and true, since what was new was not true, and what was true was not new. He announced that he had repeatedly challenged any one to disprove this, but that no one had come forward. Moreover, he was of opinion that Mr. George in his book had not understood a single author whom he had undertaken to criticise; but he (Marshall) offered no censure, because Mr. George had not had the special training necessary to understand them. Interspersed with asseverations of this kind was a shower of questions.

The lecturer's chief reply was that he was willing to subject "Progress and Poverty" to Mr. Marshall's test – that it contained nothing that was both new and true. Because, said Mr. George, the book was based upon the truth; and the truth could not be a new thing; it always had existed and it must be everlasting. He endeavoured to pick out and answer a number of Marshall's questions, and he really succeeded in winning the support and applause of a considerable part of the audience. But there were cheers from others for the Balliol man; and he, after rising very often and engaging much time, turned to his supporters and announced that the lecturer had failed to meet his queries; whereupon he sat down.[6]

But the climax of disorder was reached when Mr. Conybeare, son-in-law of Professor Müller, denounced Mr. George's remedy as a "nostrum" that was "scandalously immoral." He delivered this with a tone and manner that called forth mingled cries of dissent and approval from the divided audience and that excited the lecturer himself to say – for he did not recognise the speaker – that he must withdraw the compliment he had paid early in the evening to the University's learning and good man ners. This remark increased the uproar for a time; and Professor Müller sat on the platform, an uncomfortable, yet outwardly calm, witness to this caustic interchange between a member of his family and his guest. The turbulence was stilled when Mr. Conybeare arose and said that he intended no reflection upon Mr. George's character – that he intended only frankly to criticise ideas. Mr. George had met the young man before, but had lost sight of his relationship to his host. When attention was drawn to the matter after the lecture, he was pained and mortified and expressed to Professor Müller his sorrow that he had shown weakness in allowing the young man's words to chafe him. The professor on his side was much moved. He apologised for what he called a public insult to a guest by a member of the family; the offence being the more flagrant he said, since the one who had caused it had not read "Progress and Poverty" and could not properly judge of its doctrines. Nothing could have added to the sincere and graceful bearing of the eminent scholar in the difficult circumstances.

The Cambridge lecture proved to be as quiet and orderly as the Oxford lecture had been noisy and disorderly. The audience was very large; and though the questions indicated that opposition to the principles enunciated was not wanting, the proceedings were stamped with every mark of propriety.

When Mr. George got back to London he found that his managers could not again obtain St. James's Hall for him – that on one pretext or another it had been refused; but he spoke four times in other halls, and so closed his triumphal tour. He had been speaking with fiery zeal for the best part of three months; had travelled from Plymouth in the South to John o' Groat's House in the North, and from Hull in the East to the Hebrides in the West. On the 5th of April he was given a farewell banquet at the Criterion by the Land Restoration League, when he said in his address that a flame had been lit in Great Britain that would be fanned by every wind.

On invitation, chiefly of Michael Davitt, Mr. George crossed to Ireland and lectured to a large audience in the Ancient Concert Rooms, Dublin, on "The Land for the People," Mr. Allingham, the Mayor of Waterford, in the chair. On Sunday morning, April 13, Mr. George embarked at Quecnstown with his son on the Guion liner Oregon and sailed for New York.

Although the several months in Great Britain had been, as a whole, strenuous, there were intervals of relaxation. One of these was when Wilfred Meynell, editor of the Catholic "Weekly Register," took Mr. George to meet Cardinal Manning. Mr. Meynell said after the death of both men:

 

    "It was my great privilege to introduce Henry George to Cardinal Manning. I have a vision of the two profiles facing each other in the dim light of the growing dusk, and I recall the emotion of tone in which each man made frankly to the other a sort of profession of faith. They had travelled to the same goal from opposite directions. 'I loved the people,' said Henry George, 'and that love brought me to Christ as their best friend and teacher.' 'And I,' said the Cardinal, loved Christ, and so learned to love the people for whom He died.' They faced each other in silence for a moment – in a silence more eloquent than words."

There were also lighter moments, when Mr. George's sunshiny nature gave itself free play. Humour was one of his salient qualities, and there were many amusing incidents in passing. For instance, on reaching Cardiff, he went to a Turkish bath to relieve his fatigue. When the bath itself was over and he lay resting in the cooling room, he was treated to a discussion of "this American, Henry George," between an attendant and a visitor; neither of whom apparently had the least idea that Mr. George was in the apartment with them. In whatever else they differed, the talkers were agreed that "the American" was preaching robbery; that he wanted to take property away from people; that Americans were "all a set of liars." "All except the Canadians," said Mr. George, getting into the conversation. Continuing, he said: "Those American busybodies like Henry George should be sent back to America to try their doctrines there before they try to force them upon us."
"Yes, yes," answered both the other men.
"Why, just to think what he teaches," exclaimed George, with show of indignation. "Here is the Marquis of Bute, who owns so much of the land of Cardiff. Of course the land is his."
"Yes," said the men.
"And he can do what he pleases with his own property."
"Yes," was the response.
"And, of course, since the land is his and he can do what he pleases with his own property, he can, if he wants to, clear off a large part of the population of Cardiff – can, if he should choose to do so, destroy an important section of the city."

At this the men made protest; and as Mr. George pressed for the rights and privileges of the Marquis of Bute, the men became more and more radical, until they asserted that the nobleman really had no better right to the land there than anybody else in Cardiff – the very principle they had previously condemned in "the American." Mr. George played the staunch conservative to the last and left the building without revealing himself.

At another time, while on a train to Aberdeen, he fell into conversation with the only other occupant of the compartment – a man who talked well and freely, and who said he was a newspaper writer. Various subjects were passed under contribution until, with a bright and airy way, the stranger came to the subject of "Henry George and his lecture trip." "Ah, what do you think of him?" said Mr. George. "A Yankee with a Yankee money-making scheme," said the other. "Our trans-Atlantic cousins are clever at such things. The man writes well; he puts things in a plausible way. He makes a proposition which for very hugeness has the charm of novelty. And really, the fellow is as entertaining as a speaker as he is as a writer."
"Then you have heard him lecture," said Mr. George calmly.

"Oh, yes," was the gay reply, and then in response to questions that drew him on, he gave a ludicrous description of Henry George's personal appearance, his companion joining in his laughter over it. The entertainment continued until the journalist left the train. Just as he was stepping out of the compartment, Mr. George said: "I owe you an apology; but you interested me so deeply that I did not like to stop you. Please accept my card." The gentleman gave one glance at the bit of pasteboard and then almost fell out on the platform.

Thus while at times he might pass for a native, he did not always. "Watch me play Englishman," said he one day to his son as their train pulled into Euston station. "Here, porter," he called, "get my luggage." "Is it an American trunk, sir?" said the man. Mr. George turned to his son and silently admitted the failure of the experiment.

It was while travelling in a third-class carriage in England that a poor woman got in at a way station and brought with her a jute or hemp satchel, such as is commonly seen in the hands of school children. She put this satchel down on the seat beside her, doubtless not noticing that one just like it was already there – a satchel which belonged to Mr. George and which was one of many receptacles for books and papers that he had, as by custom, accumulated on his travels. Presently the woman got out; and later Mr. George, thinking of some notes, put his hand into his satchel to get them. Instead of the notes, he found a strange and dilapidated pair of shoes. He was thrown into a sea of wonder, from which he did not emerge until thought recurred of the woman passenger who had just before gotten out. At a station where he had a few minutes' time, he telegraphed back along the line in hope of hearing of his papers, and word came that a complaint had been lodged by an indignant woman who protested that she had been robbed of a pair of shoes by a man who stuffed her satchel with a lot of paper trash. The philosopher was glad enough to forward her bag and a day later got his own in exchange.

 


[1] Mr. Toynbee died of brain fever soon after these lectures. Failure to carry conviction to all those present, and especially to some socialists who made rude and noisy opposition, is believed to have preyed on the intense, sensitive, high-purposed mind, until chagrin induced the fatal fever. The lectures were published after his death by his close friend, Sir Alfred Milner.
[2] Social Statics," p.134. Spencer made his denial in a letter to a London Tory newspaper, "St. James's Gazette." Referring to this Spencer letter, George at the time wrote Taylor: "Spencer is going the way of Comte – going insane from vanity."
[3] "Laborers and Artisans Dwellings," by Rt. Hon. Joseph Chamberlain, "Fortnightly Review," December, 1883.
[4] August Lewis on this point says: "In a conversation with Mr. George one day, I said: ' Thomas G. Shearman thinks that it was a grave error and a great detriment to the progress of the movement that the word "confiscation" should ever have been used. You should have called it instead the gradual absorption of rent. What is your opinion about that? Would you avoid the term "confiscation" were you to write "Progress and Poverty" to-day?' His face assumed a sort of a troubled and displeased expression, and he said: 'I don't know what I should do to-day; but when I wrote the book, I was not in the humour to have much consideration for anybody's feelings.'"
[5] While on a visit to Birmingham, Mr. George, in company with Mr. Walker, Edward McHugh, lecture agent for the Land Reform Union, and young George, went to hear Miss Helen Taylor address a big working men's meeting at Smethwick, a suburb. As they entered the hall she had reached the compensation point in her address and said in substance: "Compensation? Yes, I am in favour of compensation to the landlords. And this can be easily arranged. First let the landlords pay to the nation the back taxes of four shillings in the pound on the actual value of their land from the time of Charles II – from which time they have been paying little or nothing – and, moreover, let them pay to the nation interest and compound interest on the money thus withheld, and then out of this great fund we can compensate the present individual cases." Mr. George joined heartily in the general laughter and applauded vigorously.
[6] George's final views of Marshall as a political economist may be found in "The Science of Political Economy."


 

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