« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
The nomination took place on the 30th of January, and the old members, Messrs. Bright, Dixon, and Muntz, were returned without opposition. On the following day there was a great meeting in the Town Hall, when the members addressed their constituents.
Mr. Bright, who was received with much enthusiasm, again spoke with his old fire and energy. After some introductory observations, he said: As you stand by the grave of the dead Parliament, I am sure, whether you speak its funeral oration or you write its epitaph, you will be willing to say that it is one of the best and the noblest of the Parliaments whose doings have made the story of English history during many centuries past.' This observation was received with loud applause; and the speaker, eliciting in turn the cheers and laughter of his audience, continued as follows: ‘But our opponents do not agree with us; they are an unhappy party. Whether in or out, they seem to me alike unfortunate. I have watched their agonies for thirty years. During that time, according to them, the constitution has received some scores of serious wounds, and several of those wounds, though it is curious to say so, have been pronounced fatal. They say that we—that is, the Liberal party–have disturbed classes and interests unnecessarily, that we have harassed almost all sorts of people, and have made ourselves very unpopular thereby. I doubt not that if they had been in the Wilderness, they would have condemned the Ten Commandments as a harassing piece of legislation, though it does happen that we have the evidence of more than thirty centuries to the wisdom and usefulness of those Commandments. Well, I plead guilty to the charge that we have disturbed a good many classes and a good many interests; but then, in pleading that, I offer as the justification that in no single case have we injured a class or interest, and in every case we have greatly benefited the country.' Mr. Bright then traced the history of the so-called disturbance process, beginning with Lord Grey and the Reform Bill of forty years ago. Having referred to the various great measures which the Tories said would ruin the country, the right hon. gentleman concluded as follows : ‘For some years I have done little but look on. There have been errors which I have disapproved and have condemned; but if the Government has made errors—and no Government has lasted for five years that has not-I say that, looking on it with impartiality, its virtues amount to far greater measure than its errors. It was my expectation within the last year that when there came this dissolution-and it was not expected so soon—it was my expectation that I should have at that time to write, not an address offering myself as a candidate, but an address of farewell and final thanks. I did not think it was likely that I should ever again be able to take my place upon this platform to address you thus, or to speak in the House of Commons. But I could not at this moment-it was impossible at such a juncture to take any other course than that which I have taken in offering myself again to you, if you chose to elect me. And though I am not strong to labour as I have been in past years, yet still possibly I may do something to promote the great interests of our country, and to guard the precious fruits of the many victories that we have won.'
Mr. Dixon and Mr. Muntz having also addressed the meeting, Mr. Jaffray moved the following resolution : That this meeting desires to express its great satisfaction at the unopposed return to Parliament of its three old and faithful members, Messrs. Bright, Dixon, and Muntz; and, recognizing in this great triumph a proof of the undiminished vigour and unity of the Liberal party in Birmingham, trusts it will stimulate the cause of advanced Liberalism throughout the country. The resolution was seconded by Mr. R. W. Dale, and supported by Mr. George Dawson, who dwelt upon the strength of Birmingham Radicalism, which had the biggest heads, the heaviest purses, and the wisest men of the town upon its side. The resolution was carried unanimously, and with warm demonstrations of applause.
Although a defeat was in store for the Liberal party generally throughout the country, Birmingham proved itself one of the boroughs—perhaps the leading constituency-which remained most firmly true to its old traditions.
The result of the general election was practically known by the middle of February. The Liberals sustained severe losses, and there was a majority of slightly over fifty for the Conservative party. On the 17th of February Mr. Gladstone tendered his resignation, and that of Mr. Bright and his other colleagues, to Her Majesty at Windsor. On the following day Mr. Disraeli was summoned by the Queen, and entrusted with the seals of office as Premier.
MR. BRIGHT ON THE EASTERN QUESTION.
The Eastern Question in 1875-76.-Insurrection in Turkish Provinces.—The Bul.
garian Atrocities.—Mr. Gladstone's Pamphlet. - English Proposals to the
been a continual source of difficulty to English and European statesmen, again assumed a complicated character in 1875. In May of that year insurrectionary movements broke out in Bosnia and the Herzegovina. The war with Turkey progressed with varying fortunes, and on the 14th of December the Sultan issued a decree ordering administrative reforms. This, however, was not deemed sufficient, and on the 31st of January, 1876, a note was presented to the Turkish Government by the united Governments of Austro