« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
in Scotland, and paid a visit to Mr. Bass, M.P., at Glen Tulchan Lodge, on the Spey; here, as on former occasions, he received great kindness, and his health sensibly improved. Scotland has always had great charms for Mr. Bright; two lines from his pen or voice were once quoted by a Scotch gentleman proud of his country,
* Land of mountain, strath, and stream,
Glorious land, art thou a dream?' and this 'glorious land' he has always preferred to those portions of the Continent most frequented by English travellers. That the salmon river has charms for him need not be denied. It was in 1856, during his long illness, that, at the urgent recommendation of the late Dr. M'Leod, of Ben Rhydding, he began to cast a fly on the pools and streams of the Scottish rivers. As the result of this exercise—from spending many hours almost daily on the river's bank-he recovered the health he had lost in the long rights in the House of Commons, and in the fierce political conflicts of the time which preceded the years 1856 and 1870. It was not the instinct of the sportsman, but the search for health, which connected Mr. Bright with so many of the rivers of Scotland.
While at his residence of One Ash, in January, 1872, he addressed the following letter on the Home Rule question—which was then a prominent topic of discussion—to The O'Donoghue: 'It is said that some persons engaged in the canvass of the county of Kerry have spoken of me as an advocate of what is termed Home Rule in Ireland. I hope no one has ventured to say anything so absurd and untrue. If it has been said by any one of any authority in the county, I shall be glad if you will contradict it. To have two representative legislative assemblies or Parliaments in the United Kingdom would, in my opinion, be an intolerable mischief; and I think no sensible man can wish for two within the limits of the present United Kingdom who does not wish the United Kingdom to become two or more nations, entirely separated from each other. Excuse me for troubling you with this. It is no duty of mine to interfere in your contest, but I do not wish to be misrepresented.'
A meeting of representative working men of London was held in Bolt Court on the 13th of February, 1872, to consider the propriety of presenting a congratulatory address to Mr. Bright on his restoration to health and return to public life. The right hon. gentleman was asked whether he would receive the address, and name a day for its presentation. In his reply to this kind and flattering proposal,' Mr. Bright wrote: 'I am not going up to London to attend Parliament immediately, although it is a great disappointment to me to be so long absent from the duties which I owe to my constituents; but I know well that it is far better for me to give myself a little more time than to plunge into the turmoil of public life before I am well enough to encounter it. I must
ask you to let the matter rest for a time. I cannot object to receive your address, so kindly intended and so complimentary; but I should prefer a postponement of it to some period which may be better for me, and perhaps not less convenient for those who may wish to see me in connection with it. I beg you will convey my thanks to those with whom you are associated, for the kindness they intend to show me. I am very sensible of the value of their goodwill and friendship.'
The scene of his oratorical triumphs at Westminster did, however, receive a flying visit from Mr. Bright on the 11th of April, 1872. He attended before the commencement of the sitting and the arrival of the Speaker for prayers. An account of this visit states that as members came in, without distinction of party, they gathered round the right hon. gentleman, who sat for some little time in the seat just below his usual place, and greeted him with great cordiality. For some time Mr. Bright held a kind of levée, group after group forming about him. He afterwards took his old place at the upper corner of the second bench below the gangway, and remained there until prayers had been said. After a short conversation with the Speaker he left the House. He also visited the Reform Club, where he was most heartily received. Traces of the trying illness through which he had passed were noticeable. His hair, which before his illness was dark or grizzled, and abundant, had become perfectly white, impart
ing, together with his florid complexion, a venerable
In his retirement, Mr. Bright could not escape those communications which beset all public men. Perhaps the most remarkable item in his correspondence, however, was a letter from a gentleman who had been told that the English Republicans would select Mr. Bright as their first president, and who wrote to ask whether he would accept the post. Mr. Bright replied as follows: 'Your Republican friend must not be a very desperate character if he proposes to make me his first president, though I doubt if he can be a friend of mine. As to opinions on the question of monarchy or republicanism, I hope and believe it will be a long time before we are asked to give our opinion ; our ancestors decided the matter a good while since, and I would suggest that you and I should leave any further decision to our posterity. Now, from your letter, I conclude you are willing to do this, and I can assure you I am not less willing.'
In July, 1872, the friends of Mr. Bright residing in the Staffordshire Potteries made him a suitable and noteworthy presentation, in the shape of a cabinet and collection of ceramic art. The walnut cabinet, which was in the style of Louis XVI., was designed by Mr. F. W. Moody. Divided into two compartments, the upper was filled with vases and other examples of the art and industry of the district, executed at the various manufactories of Messrs. Minton, Messrs. Wedgwood, and Messrs. Copeland. In the lower compartment were three majolica vases by Wedgwood. The decorations of one of the choicest pieces of Staffordshire ware were emblematic of Mr. Bright's career and services. The inscription upon the cabinet read as follows: "To the Right Hon. John Bright, M.P., whose foresight, eloquence, and faithful character have greatly contributed to his country's prosperity, these specimens of ceramic art are presented by admirers in the Staffordshire Potteries.' The presentation took place at Rochdale, in Mr. Bright's house, and it was accompanied by an address setting forth Mr. Bright's services in the cause of the people, and expressing a hope that he might speedily be restored to perfect health, and to his place in the national councils. A deputation of ten gentlemen had been appointed to wait upon the right hon. gentleman, and the presentation was made by Mr. Thomas Pidduck, ex-Mayor of Hanley, and Chairman of the Central Committee.
Mr. Bright, in reply, observed that this was one of the occasions when men who were most accustomed to public speaking found it difficult to express what they feel. The present gift had a special significance.
Those who make me this gift are persons of whom I have had, until recently, no knowledge whatever, and I presume they know nothing of me excepting in my public character. I may assume, therefore, as I assume from your kind address, that my public course and labours have met generally, not probably in all cases,