The Cambridge American Lectureship of 1866

In 1866, Cambridge University refused an endowment intended to finance a visiting scholar from Harvard, who would have lectured on American History and Institutions.

This article, "The Cambridge Lectureship of 1866: A False Start in American Studies", was written in 1972, shortly before I left Cambridge for the Australian National University, and published in Journal of American Studies, vii (1973), 17-29. In reviewing the piece for inclusion on my website, along with other Cambridge-related material, in 2017, I am pleasantly and no doubt immodestly struck by the small number of changes required, although this may reflect how little I have learned in relation to the subject in the intervening 45 years. The original footnotes have been regrouped as endnotes, and some supplementary material has been included among them within double-square brackets. 

If I were crafting the article again from scratch, I should lay greater stress on the internal operations of the University of Cambridge, to stress that the active cohort of academics who effectively "ran" the institution, the dynamic and intellectual leaders of the place, were predominantly in favour of accepting the Lectureship, but were blocked by the strange constitution that placed decision-making in the hands of the Masters of Arts –  in effect, any graduate of four years standing. However, the argument is implicit in the material. The final paragraph is the only part of the text with which I now feel uncomfortable. It radiates something of an "onward and upward" attitude to the study of United States history. In 1972, the concept of "American Studies" – indeed, any approach that crossed the boundaries of disciplines – was relatively new and to some extent insecure. I was also writing, implicitly at least, in tribute to my PhD supervisor, Jack Pole, Cambridge's first Reader in American History and Government, who had accepted without complaint that my doctoral research had rapidly moved into British-Canadian relations. In the event, Cambridge did not rally round to carry him further, and he moved on in 1979 to become professor of American history at Oxford. The UK's American Studies community represented a recent development – I published in only the seventh volume of the JAS – and it was reasonable to assume that its members were generally sympathetic to the United States. My final flourish, quoting Kingsley's prophecy that America was "a country destined to be the greatest in the world", was ambiguous even then – did economic and military power constitute greatness, or was it a model of cultural and political excellence? I doubt if I would conclude on such a note now, especially since, at the time of writing (2017), the country has a President who insists that his mission is to restore a greatness that has been lost. But, whatever its shortcomings, I leave the article substantially as it was written, almost half a century ago, and offer it as a contribution to the history of the University of Cambridge in the nineteenth century.



 In October 1865 Cambridge University was offered an endowment for a lectureship in the History and Institutions of the United States. In February 1866, after full and open discussion, the Senate of the University, which was composed of all Masters of Arts, voted to reject the offer.'<1> This false start to American Studies in Cambridge was no mere donnish eccentricity, but an indication of the attitudes of conservative Englishmen to the United States at the close of the Civil War.

For much of the nineteenth century Cambridge had been uninterested in the United States, and its students ignorant of all things American. Twenty years earlier a visiting American had been humble enough not to expect them to be knowledgeable about his country, "but surely an English gentleman who has attained his majority, might be expected to know that we have two houses of Congress and that New York is not a slave state".<2> In 1832, a gentleman in Queens', who was asked to propose a toast to the United States in honour of an American visitor, boldly proposed that they might be reunited with Britain.<3> The ignorance of its affairs and unwillingness to accept its separate existence was equalled by a total failure to grasp its scale:

The old joke of presuming that a New Yorker or New Englander knows any man who may have gone out to Canada, St. Louis, or Texas, is no joke at all, but a very common occurrence, which every American ... in England must have verified for himself.<4>

The Cambridge Union, the student debating society, rarely even acknowledged the existence of the country before 1860, beyond predicting its dissolution. In one of its few American debates it worthily insisted in 1852 that a speedy emancipation of their slaves by the Americans would be right, honourable and politic". But only two weeks before, a larger majority demanded "more energetic measures for subjugating the Kaffirs" in Cape Colony — an example of the dual standard of judgement which so annoyed Americans.<5> 

Cambridge ignorance was tempered by the presence of a few American students in the University. One of these was William Everett, son of the Anglophile Edward Everett, who entered Trinity in 1859 mainly because of his father's long-standing friendship with the Master, William Whewel1.<6> Young Everett did not make a universally good impression. One senior member noted that he was lacking in height, "yellow faced, very ugly & has a repulsive counten[an]ce as of a rude ill mannered man". At a dinner party he shocked fashionable Cambridge by putting his tongue out, "a low piece of buffoonery". But he won a prize essay competition at Trinity with a eulogy of Daniel Webster, and earned the grudging respect of those present at the ceremony by delivering his essay as an oration from memory, although the feat was only necessary because he had lost his manuscript. But the path of an unofficial ambassador was hard, for Everett's description of Charles I as a tyrant offended Cambridge Tories.<7> As the son of a distinguished American, Everett was very much an unofficial ambassador, and when the Civil War broke out his father became concerned at his position. "The complicated state of affairs in America is not well understood abroad, & I have advised my son to abstain, as much as he properly can, from this discussion."<8> How far William Everett followed his father's advice may be gauged from the fact that he was elected President of the Cambridge Union in 1862.

The Civil War marked a new phase in Cambridge attitudes to the United States. In 1864 William Everett published a series of lectures on Cambridge University which he had delivered in Boston after his return from Britain. An English edition appeared in 1866, under the anonymous editorship of someone who evidently knew Cambridge. The editor referred to Everett's difficulty in accounting for

the wide-spread sympathy felt in England for the Southern States; but as none of us know the reason of it ourselves, this is not so wonderful. Some suppose that it originated in the fact of our getting our cotton from the South, but we are not so wrapped up in our shirts as all that; others think that we merely patted the weaker combatant on the back; others have received hospitality and enjoyed good shooting amongst the planters; some refer to the superstition that the rowdies of South Carolina were more "gentlemanly" than the quiet and learned lights of Boston; a good many were disgusted by the rant of the Abolitionists and the blood and dirt which defiled Northern (we never saw any files of the Southern) papers generally. But none of these guesses solve the riddle satisfactorily ... it has no answer.<9>

Whatever the reasons, the Civil War aroused strong feelings in the combination rooms of Cambridge. "Many are the pleasant evenings which have been partially spoilt for me during these last few years by discussions about the American war", wrote Leslie Stephen in 1865, shortly after leaving his fellowship at Trinity Hall:

It was the one topic upon which no human being could keep his temper. When the word secession was mentioned, faces grew red and voices loud, and I braced myself for a vigorous talking match.

Much as he welcomed Appomattox for the peace it brought to America, Stephen rejoiced in it even more for restoring harmony in the University, "for it now turns out that every one sympathized more or less with the North, and decidedly prophesied their success from the very beginning".<10> Stephen him-self was a zealous supporter of the North, and his pupils sometimes pretended support for the Confederacy to provoke him.<11>

Among the undergraduates the impact of the Civil War may be traced in greater detail through the records of the Cambridge Union. Between the war scare with France in 1859 and the revival of the Irish Church question in 1865, debates on the war attracted by far the largest of all audiences and some of the liveliest meetings. The growth of interest began in February 1861 when a business meeting decided to buy the North American Review and Atlantic Monthly for the Society's club-room. In the same month a motion seeing "no cause for regret in the probable separation of the United States" was passed by 29 votes to 23. In November 1861 a motion calling for European intervention — and, from the list of speakers, it was evidently an anti-Northern motion — was defeated by 55 votes to 5. But a fortnight later opinion swung dramatically the other way. On 10 December 1861 the Union condemned the seizure of Mason and Slidell from the Trent as "a breach of international law" requiring "immediate reparation". The motion was carried by 54 votes to 5, almost the mirror of the non-intervention vote two weeks earlier.<12> The following Sunday morning prayers were offered in Cambridge churches to "avert us from the horrors of a war with America", and to restore the Prince Consort to health. As the congregations came out they learned that the Prince was already dead.<13> They had no way of knowing whether their prayers for peace had been any more effective.

The Trent incident was the turning point for Cambridge undergraduates, and from then on the Union was unambiguously pro-Southern. In October 1862 it rejected by 117 votes to 32 the motion: "That the cause of the Northern States of America is the cause of Humanity and progress: and that the Wide Spread Sympathy for the Confederates, is the result of ignorance & Misrepresentation." The motion was evidently phrased with the recent announcement of the Emancipation proclamation in mind, but this apparently did little to swing opinion to the North.<14> A year later a similar motion was defeated by 66 votes to 18, and as late as February 1865 an anti-Southern motion was defeated by 47 votes to 29.<15> These were the best attended debates of the time, and in 1862 and 1865 even had to be adjourned to a second evening to accommodate all those who wished to speak. Yet it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the issue was seen simply as a struggle of good against evil, and barely appreciated for its own sake. A debate on the seizure of the Laird rams was well attended, and a motion criticizing the attitude of The Times to the war was defeated in a respectable house. But internal aspects of American politics attracted little interest : the dismissal of McClellan was voted a "gross injustice" by a mere 21 to 12. A debate on Reconstruction collapsed altogether for lack of speakers.<16>


One observer who was concerned about the low state of Cambridge knowledge of the United States was Henry Yates Thompson, who had been an under-graduate at Trinity College at the outbreak of war.<17> He had spoken in the Union against intervention in American affairs, and during the debate on the Trent incident in 1861 he had unsuccessfully proposed an amendment calling for international arbitration. Thompson graduated in 1862, taking a First in Classics, and the following year visited the United States to see the war at first hand.<18> On his return he became involved in Lancashire politics, and stood for South Lancashire at the election of 1865. One of his fellow Liberal candidates was Gladstone, in retreat from Oxford University. Thompson confessed that he was "an utterly unknown and untried politician", and his only bold promise was to be extravagant in state education.<19> Untried — and, incidentally, defeated — as he was, Thompson had seen enough to convince him both of the coming importance of the United States and also of the inability of the two older universities to accept a changing world. As a Lancashire Liberal he would have agreed with Cobden, who in a speech at Rochdale in 1864 warned of the dangers in the "total ignorance of everything relating to America" among the ruling classes. Cobden alleged that no Oxford or Cambridge undergraduate could point out Chicago on a map, although it was a great city which indirectly fed at least a million Englishmen. "If I were rich, I really think I would endow a professor's chair at Oxford or Cambridge for teaching modern American geography and modern American history."<20> A month later Thompson suggested to Edward Everett the creation of a biennial lectureship at Cambridge in the History and Political Institutions of the United States, to be held by a Harvard man, nominated by the President of Harvard subject to the veto of the Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge. After some correspondence with Harvard, Thompson made a formal proposal to the Vice-Chancellor in October 1865, although the details were not announced until February 1866. He offered an endowment of $6,000 in American bonds, which would yield enough to bring over a lecturer every second year. He also attempted to deal with various objections, dismissing the idea that the lectureship would be more appropriate at London University and stressing his wish to remedy "the general ignorance of America among Englishmen". To prevent the lectures from becoming "democratic propaganda", he would rely on the "good taste of the lecturer" and the Vice-Chancellor's veto. He requested that there should be a one-year trial in 1866, and even at that stage he did not feel confident that his offer would be accepted.<21> 

      Some months were spent in discussing terms,<22> and it was not until 3 February 1866 that the Vice-Chancellor publicly announced the offer and summoned a discussion of senior members for the following week. The discussion at the Arts School on 10 February was only part of a larger debate, conducted in the University by means of flysheets in which dons issued their personal manifestos. In the flysheet battle the principal protagonists were Charles Kingsley of Magdalene, the novelist and Regius Professor of Modern History, and E. H. Perowne, the arch-Conservative Fellow of Corpus.<23> Perowne undoubtedly won most of the tactical points in their exchange, but the arguments on both sides were extensively rehearsed by their supporters.<24>

The supporters of the Thompson offer relied heavily on the need to dispel ignorance about the United States. "When I did myself the honour of lecturing in this University on the History of the United States", wrote Kingsley, "I became painfully aware how little was known". (Since the theme of his course had been that the good were rewarded in this world as well as in the next, it is open to doubt how far he remedied this situation.) A London newspaper asked how Kingsley could discover the ignorance of men he merely lectured at, while Perowne argued that if an American were necessary to teach American history, it would be necessary to have a Frenchman for French history and so on.<25> In vain was it argued that America stood in a class of its own: opponents were content to leave American history to Kingsley if it had to be mentioned at all.<26> Nor were the grounds on which the need to remedy British ignorance was urged helpful to the cause. "America must become the most important country in the world, and it is most desirable that there should be proper means to remove the ignorance which prevailed", claimed Bateson, the Master of St John's. Kingsley compared Britain to Athens and America to Rome, and referred to "the great necessity that our young men should know as much as possible of a country destined to be the greatest in the world". Perowne pounced on this, dismissing it as "pure prophecy, not history". Kingsley could only reply that ignorance of America was evidently not confined to undergraduates.<27>

The main theme of opponents was that the lectures would be "eloquent panegyrics on the advantages and superiority of a democratic over all other forms of government".<28> The young academic who suggested that the subject was so  important that both Liberals and Conservatives should combine to support the proposal, was a voice crying in the wilderness.<29> Britain was on the verge of a Reform Act, and from the Conservatives of Cambridge there was to be no surrender. The sentiment that the University should not become "the arena for the political controversies of the world" was perfectly consistent with references to" this Conservative University".<30> The real motive behind the offer was "to strengthen the hand of Mr. Bright; to give the democratic party just a little shove; and to get something out of this University which might be construed into an opinion favourable to the Reform Bill".<31> Hence there could be no academic neutrality towards Thompson's offer :

It amounts to a wish to indoctrinate in the youth of the governing classes a love for democratic principles and democratic institutions : it amounts, if carried out, to more than the effort of all the democratic party in England, for it would instil into the minds of those who are to be the teachers and the guides of the people notions which, if they held, they could not help spreading broadcast, by this means produc¬ing discontent and dangerous ideas among persons less educated than themselves, over whom they would naturally exercise some considerable influence.<32>

Long of King's pungently stated that an American lecturer would only come to explain how the Yankees would "whip the Britishers", while in a memorable phrase Perowne wrote "we shall be favoured with a biennial flash of Transatlantic darkness".<33> This case was most soberly stated by Bailey of St John's. "The subjects of American History and Institutions bear ... too closely upon our own times". If the lectures had been a luxury for MAs, "perhaps no harm might result. But we have to consider the case as it affects the general body of our Students".<34> Undergraduates had to be protected from disturbing ideas, and the fact that the Union voted by the large majority of 100 votes to 60 in approval of the scheme only showed how much they stood in need of guidance.<35> (The point that undergraduates could pick up dangerous ideas from reading newspapers passed largely unnoticed.<36>) Bailey summed up the point at issue by contrasting the fundamental tenets of the British and American systems, arguing that the former could not tolerate the avowal of the latter. "Government, authority, faith, submission, reverence — these are indissolubly bound together, and any shock to one part of the system must be felt throughout the whole."<37> Dodd assumed the same interconnection in describing Thompson's proposal as "opposed to all English feeling, all academic feeling, and all Church feeling".<38> Consequently it hardly mattered if the arguments against the proposal were contradictory. While some warned of the intellectual seduction of undergraduates, other claimed that they would be so outraged that they would riot in the lecture hall.<39> It was easy enough to point out that Cambridge undergraduates were too Conservative for the first and too polite for the second, and in any case attending lectures "was no very special passion among undergraduates".<40> Supporters of the lectureship had fun extending their opponents' arguments to their logical conclusions. Perowne was challenged to explain "the amount of attention to the Republican institutions of Greece and Rome encouraged by this University". While one side claimed that they could be studied dispassionately, the other held that their study "was anything but favourable to a democratic form of government".<41>


Clever as their arguments were, the supporters of the scheme could not altogether rebut the charge of propaganda. The root reason for this was that neither side, and the Conservatives in particular, really grasped that the United States existed as a national community  and not as some giant experiment or object lesson for Britain. In Boston James Russell Lowell read through the flysheets and offered his own comment: "What riled me was the quiet assumption that we hadn't, couldn't, and had no right to have, a country over here." If only, he argued, the English could appreciate that many Americans had roots of their own going back for two hundred years, they would begin to see that the United States had evolved its own institutions, and these offered no threat to the institutions of other countries which had evolved by a similar process to fit their own national circumstances. "If they could only understand that we feel like an old country over here, and not a sutler's camp, they would be less afraid of any active propagandism of ours." <42>

        In Cambridge this was not appreciated, and the best the supporters could come up with was the argument that since any American lecturer could appear in Cambridge, it was better to have one whose credentials the University could control. But how, asked opponents, could that control be exercised? <43> The Vice-Chancellor knew nothing of Harvard men, so his veto could scarcely be a safeguard. Thompson could only rely on "the good taste of the lecturer", while Kingsley thought all such fears were answered "by the character of Harvard University itself".<44> Opponents were unconvinced both by the argument that Harvard was a daughter foundation of Cambridge,<45> and that New Englanders represented the aristocracy of the USA. Unfortunately, the more gentlemanly the Harvard men were made out to be, the more difficult it was to prove that they were equipped to lecture knowledgeably on the America of Tammany Hall.<46> Not that the opposition accepted this stereotype of the Harvard man. Certainly it was true

that Massachusetts with its College is at present Anti-Democratic. Formerly it was exceedingly Democratic; and most stout it was for the State-rights of its proper Demos. Repeatedly it threatened to secede in its own cause. But now in its zeal for an Anti-South idea, it is vehemently Republican, going in for one vast Respublica to hold all the South and all the North too (if needs must) in hotch-potch. Our friends go a little too fast when they have us think that because Harvard College, Mass. is Anti-Democratic, it is therefore Aristocratic and Conservative. That College is in Cambridge, which is a suburb of Boston, the chief city of a pragmatical little State, which by its literary influences has done more than perhaps any other State in the Union, to soak a continent with blood.<47>

Worse still, Harvard was not an Anglican University, while at Cambridge it was still necessary to subscribe to the Thirty-Nine Articles to take a degree or hold any office. In fact, Unitarian Harvard was not even in the strict sense a Christian community.<48> Stephen informed a Harvard friend that this was the crucial element in the opposition case. "They began by bemoaning themselves about democracy without much effect, when one of them luckily discovered for the first time that you were Socinians, and that effectually did the business."<49> Stephen's judgement may have been influenced by his own religious doubts, but it was a point which could not easily be answered. Perowne triumphantly invoked the greatest of all delaying devices, the principle of the wedge. If Harvard could send a lecturer to Cambridge, "why may not a Dissenting or Infidel College in England pay us a similar compliment?"<50> Only by naming an actual lecturer might such fears have been combated, but that could hardly have been done in advance of the creation of the post. Sir George Young of Trinity, a contemporary of Thompson, hinted that J. L. Motley would be the first incumbent. Thompson himself apparently had Lowell, Longfellow, Holmes and Agassiz in mind. F. W. Maitland later believed that Lowell was the candidate, but at Harvard the name of Charles Francis Adams was mentioned. Longfellow's name also came up in the Cambridge discussions.<51>

Opponents also fell back on the principle of washing linen : it was better to reject the offer than to advertise the need for it.<52> If the University accepted, "the impression throughout the country must be that it is coming to a very deteriorated state of things".<53> To accept would be "to cast a slur upon our¬selves, and pander to that which is perhaps the worst vice inherent in the North-American character — namely — SELF-CONCEIT".<54> Supporters of the offer urged in reply the unfortunate impression which a rejection would create in the United States, which made outsiders laugh at the amateur diplomats of Cambridge.<55> Unfortunately, this argument rebounded in a perversely donnish way, as some moderates decided to vote against the lectureship to show they were not afraid of American opinion.<56>

The controversy generated a predictable volume of abuse, mainly directed at Thompson. His supporters contented themselves with a single reference to the fears of old women.<57> Thompson's Liberal politics were held against him, and he was even branded as a near-traitor.<58> But his greatest crime lay in being young. His offer was "well-meaning, but gauche and mistaken and a trifle patronising" and he himself was "wanting in that maturity of judgement and wideness of experience which those older than himself among us may reasonably be supposed to possess".<59> Certainly Thompson's supporters were mainly younger men than his opponents, and, with the single brilliant exception of Perowne, they had by far the greater talents.

On 22 February 1866 the Senate voted on a grace to establish the lectureship, a vote in which all Masters of Arts could take part. By 110 to 82 they rejected Thompson's offer.<60> Opponents rejoiced at the routing of "a certain wooden nutmeg or wooden horse" and claimed that on this occasion reformers could not allege that the feelings of resident MAs had been swamped by an influx of country clergymen.<61> Leslie Stephen was not so sure:

Directly I went into the Senate House yesterday I saw at a glance that we were done for. The district round Cambridge is generally [?generously] supplied with parsons from the University, who can be brought up when the Church is in danger. Beings whom I recognised at once by their rustic appearance, ancient and shiny silk gowns, elaborate white ties and shabby hats instead of college caps, were swarming all around me. . .. Every intelligent man in the place voted for the professorship ... but when once the Church is having its foundations sapped, and that by an American democrat, it would be easier to argue with a herd of swine than British parsons.<62>

Any chance that the small majority might encourage a fresh attempt was destroyed by the publication of an anti-British speech by Bancroft, delivered as an official eulogy upon Lincoln. A few weeks earlier the Anglophobia of "this mischievous old man" would have been enough in itself to have killed the lectureship.<63>

Cambridge was slow in repairing its omission of 1866. Feelers were put out to Thompson in 1907 to see if he would consider renewing his offer, but his dignified reply showed that the episode rankled.<64> Not until the Second World War did Cambridge begin to interest itself seriously in American Studies. In 1944 the University Press endowed a one-year visiting professorship in American History and Institutions, thus belatedly vindicating Thompson. American History became part of the Tripos, although in recent years no undergraduate has left a lecture room proclaiming that he will begin a new life and abandon his worthless ways, as some did when Kingsley lectured on the subject.<65>

In 1905, while preparing his biography of Stephen, F. W. Maitland read through the flysheets from the controversy, and described it as "a pretty little episode and I think that something can be made of it".66 But this is surely the temptation which should be avoided. For the motives which led to the introduction of American Studies in twentieth century England were as essentially political as those which caused the rejection at Cambridge in 1866. This is by no means a criticism, and no praise can be too high for the generosity of scholars like Henry Steele Commager and Allan Nevins who pioneered the Cambridge study of American history, or for the American Friends of Cambridge for their valuable help. The academics of the mid-twentieth century saw a value in Anglo-American co-operation where a century before dons had been aware more of rivalries. While in Cambridge the decision of 1866 can only be regretted, the temptation to belittle it ought to be resisted. For both sides in the controversy were to be proved right in their different ways. Opponents clearly saw the threat to their position, for the Reform Act of 1867 was followed by changes in the University, and by 1872 the old Conservative, masculine, celibate and Anglican Cambridge had been, if not swept away, at least nudged aside, while supporters of the lectureship were to be vindicated in the realization of Kingsley's prophecy that America was "a country destined to be the greatest in the world".<67> 



1. For an earlier account, see H. B. Learned, "The Thompson Readership: A Forgotten Episode of Academic History", American Historical Review, 23 (1918), 603-608. It is referred to also in Clarence Gohdes, American Literature in Nineteenth Century England (New York, 1944), p. 4. 

2. C. A. Bristed, Five Years in an English University (2 vols., New York, 1852), vol. 1, p. 38. [[A Yale graduate, Charles Astor Bristed studied at Trinity from 1840 to 1845. Bristed was probably referring to Sydney Smith's A Humble Petition ... to the House of Congress at Washington (1843), protesting against the State of Pennsylvania's decision to default upon bonds in which he had invested his savings.]]

3. J. P. T. Bury, ed., Romilly's Cambridge Diary 1832-42 (Cambridge, 1967), p. 14, entry for 28 May 1832.

4 Bristed, Five Years, vol. 1, p. 38.

5. Cambridge Union Society, Minute Books, xi, 16 February 1841, when the question Is the present generation likely to witness the dismemberment of the United States of America?" was answered in the affirmative by 30 votes to 27; xv, 9 November 1852, motion carried by 30 to 16, and 26 October 1852, motion carried by 37 to 4. Quoted by permission of the Standing Committee.

6. Trinity College, Cambridge, Whewell Papers, 0.18.E1/63, Everett to Whewell, 29 June 1858. Quoted by permission of the Master and Fellows.

7. Cambridge University Library, Diary of Romilly, Add. MS 6840, 18 November 1860, pp. 543-54; Add. MS 6841, 16 December 1862, pp. 395-6. [[Further extracts from  Romilly's diary have since been published, including this quotation: M.E. Bury and J.D. Pickles, eds, Romilly's Cambridge Diaries, 1848-1864 (Cambridge, 2000), p. 428.]]

8. Trinity College, Cambridge, Whewell Papers, 0.18.E1/68, Everett to Whewell, 1 October 1861.

9. William Everett, On the Cam: Lectures on the University of Cambridge in England (London, 1866), pp. xv-xvi.

10. (Leslie Stephen), Sketches from Cambridge. By a Don (London, 1865), pp. 140-1.

11. F.W. Maitland, The Life and Letters of Leslie Stephen (London, 1906), p. 66.

12. Cambridge Union Society, Minute Book, XVII, private business meeting, 11 February 1861; debate, 12 February 1861; debate, 26 November 1861; debate, to December 1861.

13. Cambridge University Library, Diary of Romilly, Add. MS 6840/2, 15 December 1861, p. 466.

14. Cambridge Union Society, Minute Book, XVII, 28 and 29 October 1862. For an account of an incident in this debate, see S. Gwynn and G. M. Tuckwell, The Life of the Rt. Hon. Sir Charles W. Dilke, Bart., M.P. (2 vols.), vol. i, pp. 30--1. For a more general picture of Cambridge Union debates on the Civil War, see Leslie Stephen, Sketches from Cambridge, pp.  63-5.

15.  Cambridge Union Society, Minute Book, XVIII, 27 October 1863 ('"That too much favour has been shown by the public opinion of this Country to the Cause, and Conduct, of the Confederate States"); 14 and 21 February 1865 (' That this House would view with regret the Success of the Confederates in the present American War as a fatal blow to the Cause of Freedom and to the Stability of all Government"). The proportion of votes was the same in 1862 and 1863: 78% for the South, 22% for the North. This may be an indication of the extent to which the upper classes supported the Confederacy. 

16. Ibid., 10 November 1863 ("That the Seizure of the Steam Rams El Toussin, and El Monassin, by the Government is an Act to be deprecated", defeated 66-31); 11 February 1862 ("That the tone adopted by the Times Newspaper, with reference to the American Crisis has been hasty and impolitic", defeated 46-22); 24 February 1863; Minute Book, xviii, 14 November 1865 ("That this House views with satisfaction the present course of affairs in America, and the reconstruction policy of President Lincoln [sic]" — only one member spoke and no vote was taken).

17. Henry Yates Thompson (1838-1928), of Trinity College. Sanders Reader in Bibliography at Cambridge, 1901 and 1904. Bibliophile and benefactor of Newnham College, the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, and many other institutions. [[Thompson, son of a Liverpool businessman, was born immensely rich. His father purchased a London newspaper, the Pall Mall Gazette, as a gift.]]

18 He was an eye-witness of the Federal assault on Missionary Ridge. His impressions have been published: Sir Christopher Chancellor, ed., An Englishman in the American Civil War: The Diaries of Henry Yates Thompson 1863 (London, 1971).

19. For Thompson's campaign, see Manchester Guardian, 20, 30 June, 5, 7, 10 July 1865. The result was : Egerton (Conservative) 9,171, elected; Turner (Conservative) 8,8o6, elected; Gladstone (Liberal) 8,786, elected; Legh (Conservative) 8,476; Thompson (Liberal) 7,703; Heywood (Liberal) 7,653. (Dod's Parliamentary Companion: New Parliament (London, 1865), p. 116.)

20. Speech at Rochdale, 23 November 1864, in John Bright and J. E. Thorold Rogers, eds, Speeches on Questions of Public Policy by Richard Cobden, M.P. (London, 1870), vol. 2, pp. 339-74; The Times, 24 November 1864. 

21. Thompson to Vice-Chancellor, 27 October 1865, which quoted extensively from Thompson to Everett, 24 December 1864, privately printed as H. Y. Thompson, Copy of a Letter addressed to the Rev. the Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University (Liverpool, 1865). For his doubts about the outcome, see Thompson to William Everett, September 1865, quoted by Chancellor, ed., Englishman in the American Civil War, p. 20.

22. See Thompson to Vice-Chancellor, 29 December 1865, printed copy in Cambridge University Library, Cambridge Papers EM 23.

23. Charles Kingsley (1819-1875), of Magdalene College. Professor of Modern History, 1860¬-9; Edward Perowne (1826-1906), of Corpus Christi College, Fellow 1850-1879, Master 1879-1906, a rigid Conservative.

24. The printed papers and flysheets are collected in Cambridge University Library, Cambridge Papers EM 23, and in a bound volume of the J. W. Clark collection, classmark Cam. b. 865. x. The only flysheet not found in both collections was a set of Greek verses in the Clark volume, attributed to Shilleto, the great Greek scholar. The discussion of to February was reported in the Cambridge Chronicle, 17 February 1866. References below are given simply to flysheets or speeches. 

25. Kingsley's first flysheet, 9 February; F. E. Kingsley, Charles Kingsley : His Letters and Memories of his Life (2 vols., London, 1894), vol. 2, p. 234; Morning Herald, quoted by Cambridge Chronicle, 24 February 7866; Perowne's first flysheet, 14 February.

26. Flysheet by Sedley Taylor; Cambridge Chronicle, University Journal, so February 1866."Few persons will have formed so low an estimate of Professor Kingsley's powers, as he appears himself to entertain." Perowne's first flysheet. [[For a notable tribute to, and assessment of, Kingsley, see Owen Chadwick, "Charles Kingsley at Cambridge", Historical Journal, xviii (1975), 303-25.]]

27. Speech by Bateson; Kingsley's first flysheet. (The Greece-Rome analogy in Anglo-American relations was frequently used a century later by Harold Macmillan. Anthony Sampson, Macmillan: a study in ambiguity, Harmondsworth, 1968, p. 250.) Perowne's first flysheet; Kingsley's second flysheet, undated.

28. Cambridge Chronicle, University Journal, so February 1866.

29. Speech by T. H. Candy.

30. Speech by Edward Dodd, a local vicar and fierce opponent; Cambridge Chronicle, University Journal, so February 1866. [[Dodd was a High Churchman in the pre-Oxford Movement sense, a clergyman who resisted any infringement of the rights of the Established Church. He was an authority on the history of Convocation, and campaigned for its restoration as an effective deliberative body. In 1861, he was horsewhipped in the First Court of Magdalene for allegedly omitting the name of Jesus from the College grace, in deference to the presence of a Jewish guest. Dodd denied the charge, and his "Christian forbearance" was much admired. Bury and Pickles, eds, Romilly's Cambridge Diary, 1848-1864, p. 378.]] 

31. Speech by Dodd.

32. Cambridge Chronicle, University Journal, 10 February 1866.

33. Flysheet by Long; Perowne's first flysheet. J. R. Lowell denied that his countrymen used the term "Britishers". Lowell to Stephen, to April 1866, in C. E. Norton, ed., Letters of James Russell Lowell (2 vols, New York, 1894), vol. 1, pp. 358-64. Long made liberal use of what he thought were "Americanisms", but revealed his own ignorance by including "clear grit", which came from Canadian, not American, politics.

34. Flysheet by Bailey.

35. Cambridge Union Society, Minute Book, xviii, 27 and 28 February 1866. The debate was not held until after the Senate vote.

36. It was made in the speech of Sedley Taylor.

37. Flysheet by Bailey.

38.Speech by Dodd. 

38. Ibid.

40. Speech by Professor Lightfoot (later Bishop of Durham); speech by Sir George Young; speech by Professor Thompson. [[As the Professor of Geology, Adam Sedgwick, wrote: "all the leading members of the University to whom I spoke on the subject were in favour of it." J.W. Clark and T.McK. Hughes, The Life and Letters of the Reverend Adam Sedgwick, ii, (Cambridge, 1890), p. 419 (letter of 28 February, 1866).]]

41. Flysheets by Taylor and Bailey; speech by Professor Thompson.

42. Lowell to Stephen, to April 1866, in Norton, ed., Letters of Lowell, vol. i, pp. 358-64.

43. Speeches by Bateson and Dodd.

44.  e.g. Perowne's first flysheet; flysheet by Bailey; Kingsley's first flysheet. 

45. Speech of Lightfoot, and much stressed in speech by W. G. Clark, Public Orator, to whom fell the task of opening the discussion.

46. Morning Herald, quoted by Cambridge Chronicle, 24 February 1866.

47. Flysheet by Dodd.

48. The point was strongly made in flysheets by Perowne and Bailey. For Perowne's defence of the Anglican monopoly, see D. A. Winstanley, Later Victorian Cambridge (Cambridge, 1947), pp. 44-5.

49. Stephen to Lowell, 23 February 1866, in Maitland, Leslie Stephen, pp. 176-8.

50. Perowne's first flysheet. For the "principle of the wedge", see F. M. Cornford, Micro-cosmographia Academica: being a guide for the young academic politician (Cambridge, 1908), ch. vii. [[The principles of the wedge and the washing of linen were something of a private joke, made more accessible by G. Johnson, University Politics: F.M. Cornford's Cambridge and his advice to the young academic politician (Cambridge, 1994).

51.Speech by Young; Learned, "Thompson Readership"; Cambridge Independent Press, 24 February 1866.

52.  For "the principle of washing linen", see Cornford, Microcosmographia, ch. viii.

53. Cambridge Chronicle, University Journal, so February 1866.

54 Flysheet by Long.

55. Morning Herald, quoted by Cambridge Chronicle, 24 February 1866.

56. Speech by W. G. Clark.

57. Speech by Professor Thompson. This caused offence in opposition circles: see flysheet by Dodd.

58. Cambridge Chronicle, University Journal, to February 1866, likened him to Goldwin Smith — a steady friend to Britain's enemies". Perowne described Thompson as a gentleman of whose political principles we know but little, and that little not calculated to inspire us with confidence". (First flysheet.)

59. Perowne's first flysheet, and Cambridge Chronicle, University Journal, 24 February 1866. 

60. Learned,"Thompson Readership" and Cambridge Chronicle, University Journal, 24 Feb¬ruary 1866, both give the vote as 107 to 81. The higher figures are given in the J. W. Clark collection volume, classmark Cam. b. 865. 1, in Cambridge University Library. In the University Archives, the former figure has been written on papers in University Papers, 1864-1866 (Council of the Senate copy) and the latter in University Papers, 1866. The handwriting in this volume was identified for me by Dr E. Leedham-Green of the Archives as that of Luard, then University Registrary. Clark, his successor, seems to have regarded this as authoritative. [[Sedgwick regretted the outcome: "thus the best working-members of the University have been deprived of an institution which would, I believe, have contributed to their intellectual happiness and honour". Clark and Hughes, Life of Sedgwick, vol. ii, 419. In 1926, non-resident MAs lost most of their voting rights, with policy matters entrusted to a new Regent House, effectively composed of academic staff. C.N.L. Brooke, A History of the University of Cambridge, iv: 1870-1990 (Cambridge, 1993), p. 30. The reform came sixty years too late.]]

61. Letter from Dodd, Cambridge Chronicle, 3 March 1866; ibid., University Journal, 24 March 1866. The Vice-Chancellor had sent a circular to heads of Colleges on 21 February asking their support for a grace banning undergraduates from driving certain types of fast carriages, but the American lectureship was not mentioned. University Archives, Cartmell Letter Book, 1865-7, Cartmell to Heads of Colleges (copy), 21 February 1866.

62. Stephen to Lowell, 23 February 1866, in Maitland, op. cit., pp. 176-8.

63. The Times, 27 February 1866; Spectator, No. 1966, 3 March 1866, pp. 234-5. See also M. A. DeWolfe Howe, The Life and Letters of George Bancroft (2 vols., London, 1908), vol. ii, pp. 158-63.

64. Thompson to Vice-Chancellor, 16 May 1907, in Chancellor, ed., op. cit., p. 16.

65. F. E. Kingsley, Charles Kingsley, vol. 2, pp. 118-19.

66. Maitland to J. W. Clark, 15 December 1905, bound in Cambridge University Library, Cam. b. 865. s; Maitland, op, cit., p. 176n.

67. Dr J. R. Pole, Mr J. C. T. Oates and Mr B. W. Collins were kind enough to read this article in draft and make useful comments. 










Copyright © 2017 Ged Martin. All Rights Reserved.
Joomla! is Free Software released under the GNU General Public License.