'Why, yes,' said I. 'She asks me, here, if I think I should like to be a proctor? What do you think of it?'
While I thus was far more obnoxious to the Tory interest, and to many Conservative Liberals than I had formerly been, the course I pursued in Parliament had by no means been such as to make Liberals generally at all enthusiastic in my support. It has already been mentioned, how large a proportion of my prominent appearances had been on questions on which I differed from most of the Liberal party, or about which they cared little, and how few occasions there had been on which the line I took was such as could lead them to attach any great value to me as an organ of their opinions. I had moreover done things which had excited, in many minds, a personal prejudice against me. Many were offended by what they called the persecution of Mr Eyre: and still greater offence was taken at my sending a subscription to the election expenses of Mr Bradlaugh. Having refused to be at any expense for my own election, and having had all its expenses defrayed by others, I felt under a peculiar obligation to subscribe in turn where funds were deficient for candidates whose election my was desirable. I accordingly sent subscriptions to nearly all the working class candidates, and among others to Mr Bradlaugh. He had the support of the working classes; having heard him speak, I knew him to be a man of ability and he had proved that he was the reverse of a demagogue, by placing himself in strong opposition to the prevailing opinion of the democratic party on two such important subjects as Malthusianism and Personal Representation. Men of this sort, who, while sharing the democratic feelings of the working classes, judged political questions for themselves, and had courage to assert their individual convictions against popular opposition, were needed, as it seemed to me, in Parliament, and I did not think that Mr Bradlaugh's anti-religious opinions (even though he had been intemperate in the expression of them) ought to exclude him. In subscribing, however, to his election, I did what would have been highly imprudent if I had been at liberty to consider only the interests of my own reelection; and, as might be expected, the utmost possible use, both fair and unfair, was made of this act of mine to stir up the electors of Westminster against me. To these various causes, combined with an unscrupulous use of the usual pecuniary and other influences on the side of my Tory competitor, while none were used on my side, it is to be ascribed that I failed at my second election after having succeeded at the first. No sooner was the result of the election known than I received three or four invitations to become a candidate for other constituencies, chiefly counties; but even if success could have been expected, and this without expense, I was not disposed to deny myself the relief of returning to private life. I had no cause to feel humiliated at my rejection by the electors; and if I had, the feeling would have been far outweighed by the numerous expressions of regret which I received from all sorts of persons and places, and in a most marked degree from those members of the liberal party in Parliament, with whom I had been accustomed to act.
I do not think it is incumbent on me at present to name periodicals in which this work is well done, and to make complaints of others by which it is scamped. I should give offence, and might probably be unjust. But I think I may certainly say that as some of these periodicals are certainly entitled to great praise for the manner in which the work is done generally, so are others open to very severe censure — and that the praise and that the censure are chiefly due on behalf of one virtue and its opposite vice. It is not critical ability that we have a right to demand, or its absence that we are bound to deplore. Critical ability for the price we pay is not attainable. It is a faculty not peculiar to Englishmen, and when displayed is very frequently not appreciated. But that critics should be honest we have a right to demand, and critical dishonesty we are bound to expose. If the writer will tell us what he thinks, though his thoughts be absolutely vague and useless, we can forgive him; but when he tells us what he does not think, actuated either by friendship or by animosity, then there should be no pardon for him. This is the sin in modern English criticism of which there is most reason to complain.
As was to be expected, her new plan met with some opposition. Many who dearly loved her were most sincerely grieved at the thought of such a parting; and others were disposed to look upon the scheme at her age as somewhat crazy. Small marvel if they did. Such an attempt had not been made before; and the untried always contains unmeasured elements of danger and difficulty. Probably her unusual fitness for the undertaking was hardly realised as yet even by many of those who knew her best. She had not, however, the pain of opposition from her best-loved sister, Mrs. Hamilton. ‘It will be a sore pang to her to part with me,’ she wrote to her niece, Mrs. Boswell; ‘but her feeling will be that she gives me to God. And to my great comfort she does not attempt to stay me.’
Such a movement, the psychologist prophesied, would sweep the world. It would appeal both to the universal impulse to ‘pass by on the other side’ when help was demanded and to the no less ‘widespread need for destruction and cruelty’. He suggested that, in consonance with the two national temperaments, acquiescence should be stressed in Russia, cruelty in China. This difference, he added, could be used as a basis on which to build Russo-Chinese national hatred when the time came (as it surely would) for the world-wide ruling class to tighten its grip on the people by means of a world war. It was never clear whether the young man believed in the faith that he was preaching or whether he advocated it merely as a piece of necessary statecraft. It was as statecraft that the conference accepted the policy.