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cause of peace and political reform. This latter enterprise he embarked in when its friends, among leading politicians, were to be numbered upon the fingers of the right hand, and this small minority treated as crochety disturbers of the public quiet, or as fanatical firebrands. But with an ability, fearlessness, and persistency all his own, our Quaker orator, in parliament and on platform, all over the United Kingdom, spoke with an earnestness, almost prophetic, of the danger and folly of keeping five millions of qualified men outside the pale of the constitution, and boldly declared that unless the doors were opened there might arise an element in our national life difficult to quell. With singular swiftness and completeness have his plans and proposals become the law of the realm. While Mr. Gladstone has come round from Toryism to be the accepted and trusted champion of the Liberal party, and while Mr. Disraeli has boxed the political compass, and “ dished the Whigs” in voting for household suffrage, this clear-headed Quaker, with rare political foresight, which is one of the true qualities of statesmanship, has stood firmly to his ground, as both Whigs and Tories have come round to him. They have come to him, he has not gone to them. Let our readers turn back ten or twelve years ago, and they will find him the best-abused man in England. Those called Reformers looked askance upon him, and called him an extreme man of impracticable theories; while the cut-and-dry Whig and Tory press teemed with the bitterest and most scurrilous abuse of him. Here are a few choice terms, taken, not from obscure country papers, but from high-class and high-priced journals : “Wanting in pluck and temper;” “Venting violent projects in inflammatory language;" “ The most fatal and deadly enemy of the cause he professes to champion ; ” “ Bitter and intemperate;" “Subject to obliquity of feeling, which amounts to inhumanity of the grossest kind, which is only characteristic of the man ;” “The promulgator of the rashest theories with the greatest momentum;” “Evidently delights in setting class against class.” And so on, ad infinitum. He may well say that he has had to “ endure hurricanes of abuse. To show that he was not a proposer of any novelty in the English constitution in contending for household suffrage, he quoted, with great effect, an extract from a speech of the greatest light the Whig party ever had” (this was at Manchester, December, 1858): “ Mr. Speaker,” said the celebrated Fox, “Sir, I think to extend the representation to housekeepers is the best and most justifiable plan of reform ; I think also that it is the most perfect recurrence to first principles—the first known and recorded principles of our constitution. This speech of Fox was delivered as far back

Yet for advocating this Whig proposal Bright was cordially hated and liberally abused. During the recent elec


tion campaigns Bright's name was almost invariably classed with Gladstone's as the chiefs of the liberal party of the country. That on Mr. Gladstone's accession to the premiership, Bright should assume his place in the cabinet seemed inevitable and natural. It was felt that it would seriously derange the system of parliamentary government, that a man who has won his way to the very front ranks in the Parliament and the country, and who is confessed to be the inspiring spirit of his party, who can say nothing by which their course is not influenced, and whose words are flashed by telegraph, or sent by reporters, all over the British Empire, that he should not take a share of the responsibility. A great outsider, officially unconnected with the government, yet baving been one of the chief instruments of bringing them into power, and being one with them on the great questions of the day, may on some point commit the party and involve them in difficulty, and not incur any of the responsibility of his own actions. But on the other hand, as an unpledged and friendly counsellor and critic, his strong, subtle, and statesmanlike mind, might be of more service to the Government and the Liberal cause, than as the mere head of a department. That the uses and habits of his life, and the broad views he takes of things, may have unfitted him for submitting to the circumlocution and endless details of red-tapism of office, is more than probable. It is believed by some that as the unattached but hearty advocate of the Government, and as the tribune of the people, the national mouth-piece, so to speak, he might be a greater power in the State than as the Right Honourable Jobn Bright, fagging at a departmental desk. He in the Commons, like Lord Derby in the Lords, will take no dignity from office, and is above its patronages and glitter. It is moreover believed by some that

may be a source of weakness in the Cabinet. He is strongly committed to extreme opinions upon taxation, war, our place in European politics, the punishment of political offenders, and some other matters,—and he must either waive and suppress or throw them overboard, for if they be insisted upon a divided Cabinet is inevitable, and the Liberal party will again become a 66 rabble.” But for weal or damage, he is in the Cabinet. He has not taken the course of his friend, Mr. Cobden, who peremptorily refused to join Lord Palmerston's Cabinet. It must be stated, however, that Mr. Gladstone is a very different chief to Palmerston, and the policy of the two governments is vastly different. We cling to the belief that though in the Imperial Cabinet he will still be the people's speaker, exposing abuses, promoting beneficent legislations, setting himself against costly and needless armaments, resting not till education be brought to every family in the land, taxation made equal, and the long bleeding wounds



of Ireland healed. If these important subjects be allowed to slumber, then extension of the franchise is of little avail, as that is but the means to this great end, and Mr. Bright's voice will do more in the ventilation and agitation of these questions than any other power in the country. And if the taking office acts as soporifically upon him as it generally does upon public men, it will be a national calamity that he has taken it. The people, however, look to him with confidence, that on the platforms of the country, and the floor of the sovereign assembly of the empire, he will still champion their cause. There are numbers of men in the Commons of excellent executive ability, but there are only four men of unmistakable genius as statesmen and orators. Mr. Disraeli, on the left hand of the Speaker, as a most adroit obstructionist; Mr. Lowe, Bright's superior in classical polish, keenness of intellect, and command of stately vocables, but not to be trusted after his eccentric and unhappy raid into the liberal campin 1866. Then comes the Premier with a Titan's powers, but apt to oversay a thing; his besetting sin being wordiness and lack in supreme self-possession and control : his warmth and vehemence is liable to hurt his cause. Then we have our President of the Board of Trade, trusted and honoured as the fearless and eloquent expounder of the people's needs and demands.

Of Bright's personal history little is known beyond the delightful references and touches in his speeches, giving them a homely flavour in more senses than one. In a meeting of twelve hundred of his own work people, at Rochdale, in January, 1867, in reply to their address, rebutting the malignant slanders heaped upon him, he gives, with graphic plainness and force, an epitome of the bistory of his family : “My father was apprenticed,” he says, " to learn to weave at a village in Derbyshire. About the year 1796, he was free from his apprenticeship, and he sallied forth to seek bis living, or, as the story books say, 'to seek his fortune,' along with a fellow-apprentice; and I have heard him say that their joint purse did not amount to more than ten shillings. He found employment at his business as a weaver, and was able to earn six shillings a week. At that time the Government of England was engaged in a tremendous war with the French Republic, and the people's blood was shed as though it was but

* Mr. Bright evidently sees the difficulty before him, of continuing to advocate freely and boldly popular questions, and of being duly reticent for the harmony of the Cabinet. He speaks (ere his recent re-election) of them as discordant,” but clings to the hope that he may succeed in harmonizing them.


water, and squandering its treasure as though it had not been accumulated by the painful labour and the sweat of the population of this kingdom. Trade was very bad, and wages very low. Six shillings a week were as much as a handloom weaver could earn. In 1802 my

father came to this town. His old master's sons came here, and in conjunction with two or three gentlemen in this neighbourhood, they built the mill, which you all know quite well as the * Hanging Road Factory.' It was, I believe, the second factory in this town which was set to work in the cotton-spinning. He remained there for seven years, and in 1809 he took that old mill, which is even yet in our occupation, and with the outward and somewhat dismal aspect of which you are all perfectly familiar. Some friends of his in Manchester, who were in business as commission agents, seeing his aptitude for business, and believing in his honourable character, found the capital which was necessary to begin business within that mill, and about the end of the year 1809 that old steam-engine, which was put down by Boulton and Watt, nobody knows how long since, first moved round to spin cotton in that mill. Well, now, from 1809 to 1867 is at least fifty-seven years; and I venture to say that, with one single exception, and that not of long duration, there has been during that time an uninterrupted harmony and confidence between my family connected with that business and those who have assisted us and been employed by us." He reminded the House of Commons once that if he was plain and rugged, they must remember that he had not been at school since he was fifteen. How hard he has worked at self-culture and self-discipline is evident to every student of these volumes. On first taking them up, we turned with great strength of desire to read some of his famous anti-Corn Law orations; but were disappointed at finding only one of them inserted. There was a strange power in those early speeches to move and convince, persuade and excite. The ears of men tingled as they listened; they were roused with indignation or joined in the laugh provoked by humour or sarcasm. We see the difficulty and embarrassment surrounding the rev. editor. He would look at those early orations, so fervid and full of effervescence, as lacking the compression, dignity, and purity of his later speeches, and as not being of abiding worth, nor to be taken as models of oratory. There is not one of the inserted speeches we could have spared, and we heartily thank the editor for giving them just as they came from the orator's lips. As an instance of the electric effect of his early speeches, we refer to a meeting in London, February 8th, 1842, of the deputies from the anti-Corn Law associations of the entire country, held at the “Crown and Anchor," the headquarters of London Radicalism. The theme of his speech was that no compromise should be entertained, and they should listen to nothing


but to import with perfect freedom that food for the want of which the people were enduring great distress. And though able addresses had been delivered by D. M‘Laren (now M.P. for Edinburgh) and others, and an animated and eloquent speech by Daniel O'Connell, yet so comprehensive was the sweep, so exhaustive was the argument, so fervid was the eloquence of the young Quaker's oration, that at its conclusion the whole audience sprang instinctively to their feet, and waved hats and handkerchiefs, and continued cheering for some minutes. Here is the concluding sentence of one of these harangues : “The time is now come when we must no longer look upon this infamous law (the Corn Law) as a mistake on the part of the aristocracy and the landowners—it was no mistake of the landowners, no accident, chance had nothing to do with it, it was a crime of the deepest dye against the rights and industry and against the well-being of the British people, and

•Not all that heralds take from coffin'd clay,
Nor florid prose, nor honied lines of rhyme,

Can blazon evil deeds or consecrate a crime.' A similar effect was produced in an immense gathering in Drury-lane theatre. Never in the palmiest days of the drama had the house been packed as it was that night. The pithy, unadorned argumentation of Cobden; the finished and graceful periods of W. J. Fox, then in his prime, convinced and delighted the audience. But the sledge-bammer logic and appeals of Bright created the greatest enthusiasm. Here's his peroration : “ There is no institution of this country, the monarchy, aristocracy, the church, or any other whatever, of which I would not say, attach it to the Corn Law and I will predict its fate. In this country every thing I hold dear is contained. In countries not far off, we have seen institutions shaken to their foundations by dire calamities. have seen crowns and hierarchies shaken to the dust; we have seen ranks, and orders, and parties overthrown, but there is one party which survived all this, and that party is the People. Whatever

ulsions may happen in this country, whatever order may be overthrown, the people will survive :

• There's yet on earth, a far auguster thing,

Small though it be, than parliament or king.'” In 1843 the northern city of Durham placed this orator in the great scenes of his triumphs, the House of Commons; and among those who went arm-and-arm to the polling-booth with this Quaker candidate, was the learned and truly venerable Dean of Durham. In less than a month after his election he made his maiden speech. It 'was plain and modest, and yet indicative of those qualities which have made him famous. He animadverted upon the policy of the


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