His Father's Adjutant 1823-1826
AT the age of sixteen, John stepped into the political arena as his father's adjutant.
Like a stream whose gathering forces had been dammed up, he rushed forth joyfully upon the straight free course ahead of him. Never was he more at one with himself and with all about him than during the next five young years. With mind and heart and all his youthful enthusiasm, he threw himself into the work of public reform for which he had been trained. James and he were joined in a fellow-soldier feeling that gave great happiness to them both.
It came as a revelation to John, surrounded by black reaction, that thirty years earlier, in France, democratic opinions had car- ried all before them. He eagerly collected material in order to write a book about the French Revolution. He had found his life's work: to bring about a similar downfall of Tory misrule and to reconstruct English institutions according to Bentham's famous principle of 'the greatest happiness of the greatest number'. The importance of this Utilitarian principle had 'rushed in' upon John. He felt that now he had a creed, a message, an object in life. The discovery came with the force of a new light breaking and filled him with tense excitement.
The first stirrings of liberalism in England added to John's hopeful spring of life. The country was entering upon one of its most remarkable periods of intellectual ferment. Scott and Byron,