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American war has stopped our supplies of cotton. They look upon patronage as a holy thing, not to be touched by profane hands. I have no doubt they have in their minds the saying of a great friend of mine, though he is an imaginary character—I mean Hosea Biglow, the author of the Biglow Papers.
“It is something like a fulfilling the prophecies,
When all the first families have all the best offices."
But, sir, I protest against this theory. against the theory that the people of this country have an unreasonable and violent desire to shake or overturn institutions which they may not theoretically approve of.' Either the institutions which people were so much afraid of were in themselves unpopular or hurtful, or else the people themselves were grossly slandered.
Mr. Bright went on to remark that the House of Commons was in reality the only guarantee we had for freedom. The noblemen and gentlemen at Torquay did not know apparently that it was only because of this representative body—which stood between them and monarchial or aristocratic despotismthat the institution they were themselves so fond of was safe and permanent at all. Representation was found in the various countries of Europe, America, and Australia ; and Englishmen, everywhere but at home, were received into the bosom of this great permanent undying institution, this safeguard for
national, for human freedom. arrived at his peroration :
The speaker then
“Now, sir, I would change all this. I speak out of no hostility to any class or any institution. That man who proposes to exclude permanently five millions of his countrymen from the right which the constitution of his country makes sacred in his eyes, I say that is the man that separates Englishmen into two nations, and makes it impossible that we should be wholly or permanently a contented people. I demand, then, this, which is but the right of our constitution, that the House of Commons shall be made freely and fairly to represent the Commons and the people of the United Kingdom. England has long been famous for the enjoyment of personal freedom by her people. They are free to think, they are free to speak, they are free to write; and England has been famed of late years, and is famed now the world over, for the freedom of her industry and the greatness and the freedom of her commerce. I want to know then why it is that her people should not be free to vote. (“ Hear, hear,” and applause.) Who is there that will meet me on this platform, or will stand upon any platform, and will dare to say, in the hearing of an open meeting of his countrymen, that these millions for whom I am now pleading are too degraded, too vicious, and too destructive to be entrusted with the elective franchise ? (Cheers.) I at least will never thus slander my countrymen. I claim for them the right of admission, through their representatives, into the most ancient and most venerable Parliament which at this hour exists among men; and when they are thus admitted, and not till then, it may be truly said that England, the august mother of free nations, herself is free.' (Loud applause.)
On the death of Mr. Cobden, there was a wish on the part of his Rochdale constituents to offer the seat to Mr. Bright, but the latter remained faithful to his friends at Birmingham. Mr. T. B. Potter was consequently selected by the Rochdale Liberals, and in supporting his candidature, Mr. Bright said that if he might speak for him who was here no longer, the choice was one which would have been grateful to him. He also thus alluded to Mr. Brett, the Conservative candidate : These men are all in favour of the good that has been done by men who have given years of their lives—men you have encouraged from youth to manhood, in the spread of just principles and the establishment of wise laws, and who have done all this in the teeth of the combined opposition of all the Mr. Bretts in England. Then the Mr. Bretts come forward, and say that the repeal of the Corn Laws was a good thing, and the French Treaty a valuable measure, and the freedom of the press a great blessing; but still Mr. Brett stands with Lord Derby; and if you will ask him about any one single question—not of the past, but of the future-of the next twenty years, you will have to fight as great a fight for every future good against the Mr. Bretts, just as you have fought against his class and order of mind during the last twenty years. The Liberal candidate was elected by a large majority, the numbers being—for Mr. Potter, 646; Mr. Brett, 496.
Parliament was dissolved early in July, and Mr. Bright immediately issued his address to the electors of Birmingham. "The Administration, he wrote,
which in 1859 climbed into office under the pretence of its devotion to the question of Parliamentary Reform, has violated its solemn pledges. Its chiefs have purposely betrayed the cause they undertook to defend, and the less eminent members of it have tamely acquiesced in that betrayal. The Ministry have for six years held office, which, but for promises they made, and which they have broken, they could not have obtained possession of even for a day. ... The Parliament is about to expire—the Ministry will soon undergo such changes as will make it totter to its fall; but the question of Reform lives, and at this moment in the eyes of its opponents takes a more distinct shape than at any other period since the passing of the bill of 1832. I trust that the result of the coming general election will show that, notwithstanding the treachery of official statesmen, and the indifference of the expiring Parliament, the course of freedom, based on a true representation of the nation, is advancing with an irresistible force to its final triumph.'
The nomination at Birmingham took place on the 12th of July, in the Town Hall, which was densely crowded. Mr. Scholefield was proposed by Mr. Ald. Phillips, and seconded by Mr. Jaffray; and Mr. Bright was proposed by Mr. George Dixon, and seconded by Mr. Ald. Manton. The Mayor, having first asked, amid much laughter, whether there was any other candidate, declared the old members duly elected. Mr. Scholefield first returned thanks.
Mr. Bright then rose, and delivered a speech bristling with sharp points and phrases. The Reform question, he said, was the question of the hour, but the Prime Minister, in his address to the electors of Tiverton, said nothing about it, which was wise, considering what he had done in regard to it. The Tories were in favour of what they called a wellbalanced proposition of Reform—which meant, so exactly balanced that nobody could tell that the scale was in the least degree altered, and that everything should be left exactly as it was. At the present time the number of county electors was nearly half as much again as the number of borough electors. Speaking of the opponents of Reform, he said, 'Reform is ahead, and they cannot conceal it; they cannot deny it. It is, as the poet has said of death,
“ The doom they dread, yet dwell upon.” How do they now try to avoid this reform ? They try to alarm the middle class. They tell the shopkeeper, for example, that the artisan will outvote him. They tell the ten-pounder to be very much afraid of the nine-pounder,-he is very doubtful ; and the eight-pounder still worse; and when you get to the seven-pounders and the six-pounders, the consequences may be fatal. (Laughter.) In point of fact, their whole object now is to set class against class.' (Cheering.)
Perhaps the most effective passage in Mr. Bright's address was this brilliant attack on Mr. Disraeli :
• The complaint now is, and the danger, that the whole nation20,000,000 persons, men, women, and children —have no direct
representa tion in the House of Commons of a country whose great foundation of government is the representative system and the representative principle. Well, now, what is the answer which is made to this claim ? It is this : the Prime Minister answers it by contemptuous silence; he has not referred to it in the long and carefully written address which he has issued, not only to the electors of Tiverton, but to the electors of the United Kingdom. Well, but what says Lord Derby, speaking through the mouth of his prophet Disraeli? (Laughter.) Why, he says, “ lateral extension." He says to the great body of the working men-to these five millions, “ It is true you are shut out; the Reform Bill was not satisfactory; the