Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol III (1901).djvu/22

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Hughes
Hughes
8

came back from the north 'an ardent free-trader.' In other respects, he adds, I was rapidly falling away from the political faith in which we had been brought up. . . . The noble side of democracy was carrying me away.' He was thus early showing himself to be the generous, teachable, and courageous Englishman that he was known to be in after life.

Having graduated B.A. in 1845, he went up to London to read for the bar. He had been admitted at Lincoln's Inn on 21 Jan. 1845, but migrated to the Inner Temple on 18 Jan. 1848, and was called to the bar ten days later. He never became a great lawyer, but he studied diligently, and was able to acquit himself creditably in professional business. He became Q.C. in 1869, and bencher of his inn in 1870. It was through his residence in Lincoln's Inn that he came under the great influence of his life. F. D. Maurice was then chaplain of the Inn, and, whilst his personal character won the reverence of the young student, his teaching came home to his needs and aspirations and deepest convictions, and completely mastered him. Maurice had no more devoted disciple than Tom Hughes. It was the work of his life to put in practice what he learnt from Maurice. In the latter part of 1848 he offered himself as a fellow-worker to the little band of Christian socialists who had gathered round Maurice, in which Mr. John M. Ludlow, for many years Hughes's closest friend and ally, and Charles Kingsley, and his old school-fellow Charles Mansfield, were already enrolled. The practical part of Christian socialism was the co-operative movement, especially in its 'productive' form. This branch of it has been overshadowed by the vast store system ; but it was co-operative production that had the sympathy and advocacy of Hughes and the more enthusiastic promoters of co-operation. In his later years Hughes was accustomed to denounce with some vehemence what he regarded as a desertion of the true co-operative principle by those who cared only for the stores, and who gave no share in the business to the employees of the store and the factory. The early businesses set up by the Christian socialists did not prosper, but Hughes never despaired of the cause. He was one of the most diligent and ardent of its promoters, attending conferences, giving legal advice, and going on missionary tours. He contributed to the 'Christian Socialist' and the 'Tracts on Christian Socialism,' and acted for some months as editor of the 'Journal of Association.' By giving evidence in 1850 before the House of Commons committee on the savings of the middle and working classes, and by other persevering efforts, he aided the passing of the Industrial and Provident Societies Act (56-7 Victoria, c. 39) in 1893.

Hughes had married in 1848 Frances, daughter of the Rev. James Ford, and niece of Richard Ford [q. v.l, author of the famous 'Handbook of Spain,' and near the end of 1849 his brother George became once more for a short time his companion, having joined the young couple in a small house in Upper Berkeley Street. Tom had chambers in common with Mr. J. M. Ludlow at No. 3 Old Buildings, Lincoln's Inn, and in 1853 the two friends agreed to build and occupy a joint house at Wimbledon. 'Our communistic experiment,' says Mr. Ludlow (Economic Review, July 1896, p. 305), 'was entirely successful while it lasted,' which was for four years. It was in this Wimbledon house that 'Tom Brown's School Days' was written. Mr. Ludlow records (ib. pp. 306, 307) how Hughes put into his hands one night a portion of his manuscript, and with what surprise he became aware, as he read, of the quality of the book. It was shown without delay to Alexander Macmillan [see under Macmillan, Daniel], who promptly undertook to publish it. Its completion was delayed by a domestic grief, the death of Hughes's eldest daughter ; but it appeared anonymously in April 1857. Its success was rapid, five editions being issued in nine months.

This book is Hughes's chief title to distinction. His object in writing it was to do good. He had had no literary ambition, and no friend of his had ever thought of him as an author. 'Tom Brown's School Days' is a piece of life, simply and modestly presented, with a rare humour playing all over it, and penetrated by the best sort of English religious feeling. And the life was that which is peculiarly delightful to the whole English-speaking race that of rural sport and the public school. The picture was none the less welcome, and is none the less interesting now, because there was a good deal that was beginning to pass away in the life that it depicts. The book was written expressly for boys, and it would be difficult to measure the good influence which it has exerted upon innumerable boys by its power to enter into their ways and prejudices, and to appeal to their better instincts; but it has commended itself to readers of all ages, classes, and characters. The author was naturally induced to go on writing, and his subsequent books, such as 'The Scouring of the White Horse' (1859) and 'Tom Brown at Oxford' (1861) are not without the qualities of which the 'School Days' had given evidence ; but