Page:The Chartist Movement.djvu/33

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xxiii
INTRODUCTION

lectures and taking classes. In order to get to know his pupils personally, he stayed over week-ends at the towns where he taught. He had long Sunday tramps with his disciples over the moors, and though he never flattered them, and was perhaps sometimes rather austere in his dealings with them, he soon completely won their confidence and affection. I remember the embarrassment felt by the administrators of the movement, when a class, which had had experience of his gifts, almost revolted against the severely academic methods of a continuator of his course, and was only appeased when it was fortunately found possible to bring him back to his flock without compromising the situation. He continued in this work as long as he was in England, and when the winter of 1913–14 took him to London, he had the same success with the south-country workmen as with the men he had known from youth up in the north. Mr. E. H. Jones, the secretary of his Wimbledon class, thus describes the impression he made there with a course on the "Making of Modern England":

Many of the students had misgivings as to the success of what appeared to them as a dull, drab, and dreary subject. These doubts were further increased when, at the first preliminary meeting, a slim, quiet, unassuming, and nervous young man got up, and in a hesitating maimer outlined the chief features of the course. The first lecture, however, was sufficient to ensure the success of the venture. His thorough knowledge of the subject, his clear and incisive style, together with a charming personality, held the attention of the class. His realistic description of the condition of the people, especially of the working classes, during the early part of the nineteenth century—the homes they lived in and the lives they lived—showed us at once a man with a large heart, one who sympathised with the sorrows and the sufferings of the people. His great desire was to serve his fellows by educating, and so exalting the manhood of the nation. We, who knew him, understand the motives which prompted him to offer his Ufe for the sake of our common humanity. He hated tyrranny; the beat of the drums of war had no charms for him, unless the call was in the cause of Justice and Liberty."[1]

This appreciation is not overdrawn. There was nothing in Hovell of the clap-trap lecturer for effect. His rather conserva-

  1. The Highway, December 1916, pp. 56-57.