Page:The Chartist Movement.djvu/35

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INTRODUCTION

of the early Victorian age as his main subject. It was upon this that he gave nearly all his lectures to workmen. Indeed, much of the vividness and directness of his appeal was due to the fact that he was speaking on subjects which he himself was investigating at first hand. A deep interest in the condition of the people, a strong sympathy with all who were distressfully working out their own salvation, a rare power of combining interest and sympathy with the power of seeing things as they were, made his progress rapid, and increasing mastery only confirmed him in his choice of subject. Finally he narrowed his investigations to the neglected or half-studied history of the Chartist Movement, and examined with great care the economic, social, and political conditions which made that movement intelligible.

Hovell's teachers were not unmindful of his promise, and in 1911 his election to the Langton fellowship, perhaps the highest academic distinction at the disposal of the Arts faculty of the Manchester University, provided him with a modest income for three years during which he could carry on his investigations, untroubled by bread problems. He now cut down his teaching work to a minimum, and threw himself whole-heartedly into his studies. Circumstances, however, were not very propitious to him. He was a poor man, and was the poorer since his abandonment of school teaching involved the obligation of repaying the sums advanced by the State towards the cost of his education. The work he now desired to do was perhaps as honourable and useful as that for which he had been destined. It was, however, different. He had received State subsidies on the condition that he taught in schools, and he chose instead to teach working men and University students. So far as his bond went, he had, therefore, nothing to complain of. The Board of Education, though meeting him to some extent, was not prepared, even in an exceptional case, to relax its rules altogether. While recognising the inevitableness of its action, it may perhaps be permitted to hope that the time may come, even in this country, when it will be allowed that the best career for the