Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol III (1901).djvu/23

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Hughes
Hughes
9

it was the conjunction of the subject and the author's gifts that made the first book unique.

In January 1854, at a meeting of the promoters of associations, it was resolved, on a motion made by Hughes, 'That it be referred to the committee of teaching and publications to frame and, so far as they think fit, to carry out a plan for the establishment of a people's college in connection with the metropolitan associations.' This was the beginning of the Working Men's College in Great Ormond Street, which continued to be to the end of his life one of Hughes's chief interests. He was not able to do much in it as a teacher, but he took an active part in carrying on its social work, commanded its volunteer corps, and was principal of the college for ten years, from 1872 to 1883. He delighted the students by his geniality, but he never concealed from them his earnest religious faith. One of his books, 'The Manliness of Christ' (1879), grew out of what he taught in a bible-class at the college. In an earlier year, 1861, he had written the first of a series of 'Tracts for Priests and People,' issued by Maurice and his friends. His tract was entitled 'Religio Laici,' or, in a subsequent edition of it, 'A Layman's Faith' (1868). His theology was Maurice's, transfused through his own simple and devout mind. In all that he wrote or spoke or did, he was sincere, straightforward, intolerant of deceit or meanness. He interested himself ardently in church reform, and was a hearty member of a 'church reform union,' when it was originated in 1870, and again when it had a brief resuscitation through Arnold Toynbee's efforts in 1886. His position was that of a liberal churchman, supporting a national church with enthusiasm, but desiring to make it as acceptable and inoffensive as possible to nonconformists. When he became known as a social reformer, it was natural that he should be urged to seek entrance to the House of Commons, and he was elected for Lambeth in 1865. In 1868 he was glad to exchange this unwieldy and unmanageable constituency for the borough of Frome, for which he was returned at the general election; he relinquished his candidature for Frome at the general election in February 1874 (the seat was won for the conservatives by Henry Charles, afterwards Lord Lopes [q.v.]), and was nominated for Marylebone, but retired the day before the poll. In the House of Commons the line he took was definitely that of a reformer, and especially of a friend of the working classes; a trades union bill he introduced was read a second time on 7 July 1869, but made no further progress. He was not a very successful speaker, and, though greatly liked and respected, he would not have been able to reach the front rank in politics. When Gladstone went over to home rule for Ireland, Hughes's opposition to that policy was touched with indignation, and he became a vehement liberal unionist. In 1869 he was chairman of the first co-operative congress, and spoke against the tendency to shelve 'productive' co-operation, which he never ceased to denounce.

The first of three visits to America was made by Hughes in 1870. One of his strongest ties to the United States was his admiration of Lowell's 'Poems,' which was most fervent. Mr. Ludlow describes (Economic Review, July 1896, p. 309) how, being asked by Trübner in 1859 to write an introduction to an edition of the 'Biglow Papers,' Hughes, in his self-distrustful way, begged help from him, and the introduction was a joint composition. Two separate essays on American history by the same authors were combined in a volume published in 1862. One of Hughes's objects in going to America was to make Lowell's personal acquaintance. He had been warmly on the side of the north in the civil war, and this, added to the fame of 'Tom Brown's School Days,' made him very popular in the States. In the course of this visit he gave two lectures — one at Boston entitled 'John to Jonathan,' another at New York on the labour question. His subsequent visits to America were connected with a project, commenced in 1879, which at first awakened all his enthusiasm, and afterwards caused him much anxiety and considerable pecuniary loss. His sanguine, unsuspicious temper was not favourable to success in business. In conjunction with friends he bought a large estate in Tennessee, on which a model community was to be established. The place was named Rugby. The purchasers had been misled as to the productive value of the estate, and the early settlers underwent a rather bitter disappointment. Tom Hughes drew out of the enterprise, but his mother went to live at the new Rugby with her youngest son, Hastings Hughes, and after ten years' residence died there at a very advanced age.

In July 1882 Hughes was appointed a county-court judge, and went to live at Chester. There he built himself a house, which he named after his birthplace, Uffington, and he grew old happily in the performance of his judicial duties. His health at last gave way to infirmities, and he died