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the countries where these marriages prevailed, and he drew a forcible argument from the inevitably unequal operation of the law, the poor not being able to escape from it, while the rich could repair to more tolerant foreign countries. He entreated the House to give by an emphatic vote their sanction to the principle that the common liberty of men and women in this country, in the chief concern of their lives, should not be interfered with by a law of Parliament which had no foundation in nature, and which, while pretending to sanction from revelation, was, in fact, contrary to its dictates.
It was rather singular that the Solicitor-General followed Mr. Bright, and opposed the bill, though he admitted it was difficult for an opponent to discuss it
after such a speech from the greatest orator of the day.' When the division was taken, there was a majority of 99 in favour of the second reading, 243 voting for and 144 against the bill. Mr. Chambers, however, was compelled to withdraw it on the 2nd of August, and in doing so he strongly complained of the obstructive tactics which had been made use of to defeat the measure.
There was a brilliant gathering at the hall of the Trinity House, on Tower Hill, on the 3rd of July, 1869, when the members of that corporation entertained the Prince of Wales and other members of the Royal Family, Her Majesty's Ministers, and other distinguished persons. In the absence of the Duke of Edinburgh, the Master of the Corporation, the
Prince of Wales presided, and was supported by Prince Arthur, Prince Christian, the Prince of Teck, Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar, Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Bright, Mr. Lowe, Mr. Disraeli, Lord Chief Justice Cockburn, Mr. Cardwell, and others. Amongst the toasts of the evening was that of 'The maritime and commercial interests of the country, and the health of the President of the Board of Trade, proposed by Lord Taunton. In his reply, Mr. Bright observed, 'I have sometimes imagined what a scene would be presented if any man could from a height survey all the land and waters of the globe. He would see men in every land preparing something to find its way to this country. And if he could look over the waters he would see ships driven either by the winds, or, what is more potent, by steam, bringing from thousands of sources the produce of the industry of man in every country of the world to the shores of this country, to supply the necessities, comforts, and luxuries of the various classes of our people.” On another question, Mr. Bright observed, ' For myself, I could never understand why such great navies should be kept up. I would forego all the luxuries of life rather than be tempted to obtain them by crossing the sea. Such are the perils of the deep that I confess I never hear the wind howling, or see the storm raging, or the clouds drifting, but I think of my countrymen on stormy seas. Therefore I have a strong sympathy with the lifeboat system, and no less sympathy with the great and benign objects of this corporation. I know not what may be the fate of that corporation. I hope it may so come up with the requirements of the times, and keep up with them, that it will never need to be either disendowed or disestablished. The subject to which I have referred leads me to hope that the industries of our country may be sustained, that its commerce may be wider and wider diffused, that with an economical Government–it is long since we had one-(laughter) —that with an economical Government, and the efforts which I trust will before long be made to support a general and universal education among our people, they may grow in all that is good, and that our country, great and glorious as she is, may be destined for long generations and centuries to hold her place among the nations.'
Early in January, 1870, a deputation waited upon Mr. Bright, asking him to procure some mitigation in the sentences passed on the Fenian prisoners. In reply, Mr. Bright said: “Though I have been one who has always spoken strongly in favour of changes, and changes which we showed by demonstration were right to be made, still, for all that, I am bound to say that I know no greater enemy to our country than the man who attempts by force of arms to disturb the public peace, and to break down the authority of the laws. Least of all are those to be excused who, being in a country to which they have emigrated, and thereby escaped from what they supposed to be the tyranny and oppression here, are free to do what they
please, yet conspire against our common country. I cannot see that any kind of allowance is to be made for such persons.' The right hon. gentleman, however, continued with regard to the prisoners whose claims were specially urged, 'It will be to me the greatest possible delight, as I believe it would be most certainly to every member of the Government, if they could at once throw open the prison doors and let all these men go free. But they must consult what they believe to be the safety of the country, and they must take into consideration the general state of public opinion on this subject throughout the United Kingdom. The Government cannot go before, and it ought not to lag much behind, public opinion.' It may be stated that before the close of the year Mr. Gladstone granted an amnesty to the Fenian prisoners still detained at Portland, but coupled with the condition of banishment from the United Kingdom for life, without distinction of
persons. When Parliament met in 1870, Mr. Bright was suffering from symptoms of illness such as had prostrated him in the year 1856. He was quite unable to attend the House of Commons, and asked Mr. Gladstone to permit him to retire from his office in the Government.
. Mr. Gladstone objected, and expressed a hope that he would be able to be in his place on the second reading of the Irish Land Billto which Mr. Bright replied that he felt he should not return during the session,—that on a former occasion he had been absent for two years, and now he thought his condition still more serious. This proved to be the fact. He spent some weeks at Norwood, and in Brighton, during February and March; he then went down to Llandudno, where he spent six months, for much of the time in a state of great feebleness, unable to write, or to read, or even to converse, except with Mrs. Bright and his daughter, who were constant in their attendance upon him. In the month of October he returned home, to his house at Rochdale, and in December he urged Mr. Gladstone to forward his resignation of his office to the Queen, feeling certain that for at least another year he should not be able to undertake any Parliamentary or official duty. The resignation was reluctantly accepted.*
During the year 1871 Mr. Bright spent some months
* The whole of the London and provincial press of course commented upon the retirement. The Times observed that Mr. Bright carried with him into retirement the hopes as well as the good wishes of his country
The Daily Telegraph remarked that 'the middle classes of this country may search for many a long day before they find so true a representative as John Bright.' The Daily News affirmed that Englishmen, without distinction of party, would share in the regret at Mr. Bright's resignation. The Morning Post said there was probably not a man in the country, be his politics what they might, who would not receive the intelligence with the greatest concern and regret. "The loss of such a figure,' said the Spectator, ‘if we are to lose it, or even to lose the most characteristic signs of it—from our political world, is a loss we can ill afford. As a Radical and a Democrat, he has taught the nation to measure popular feeling by a high standard,-a standard beside which all mob oratory is at once perceived to be artificial and dishonest,--and this alone has purified the atmosphere of the political school he represented, while his grand and nervous English has left to English literature a rich legacy of renown.' The leading provincial journals expressed themselves in similar terms,