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Conservative party played ? Had they not offered a strenuous hostility to each boon wrung from power on behalf of justice and freedom ? 'I recollect,' said Mr. Bright—and this portion of his speech was received with much laughter—'telling Mr. Disraeli in the House of Commons that when he required any illustrations from history in his speeches he made his history as he went along. He did not get it out of any books, or any authentic records, but from his own inner consciousness. It seems to me very much like what is done by an insect with which we are all familiar, that is very curious, but not very pleasant -I mean the spider. The spider, as you know, at least apparently-I do not know much about himthe spider spins from some sort of raw material inside, the yarn which he desires to make use of. With this yarn he weaves a very intricate and ingenious web, and with this web he catches flies. The Prime Minister has spun yarns, and he has woven webs, and caught a great many flies; and, so far as I find, the flies seem rather to like it; and in that fact we have at least an explanation of the sort of swollen eminence to which he has attained.' Mr. Bright said he had nothing to remark of the Foreign Secretary (Lord Salisbury), except that there was a painful inexactitude in his recent statements; while as to the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir S. Northcote), all were forced to admit that in the ingenuity of his financial explanations there was something much more to wonder at than to admire. The Conservatives reminded him (the speaker) of an anecdote of Dr. Johnson. The Doctor once said to a young man who was not to be commended, 'You must have taken immense pains with yourself; naturally, you could not possibly be as stupid as you are.' Mr. Bright thus concluded his speech :
Suppose that the present Prime Minister and his friends had been successful in preventing all the measures which they have strenuously opposed, what would have been the state of the country now, what the rate of wages, what the condition of content and loyalty ? You would have had long before this chaos over the country, and anarchy, or that kind of calm which ultimately succeeds when anarchy has passed away. You would have had your aristocracy dead as they are politically dead in France ; and more than that, I think it is highly probable that the English Crown, ancient and venerated as it is, if it had been subjected to the strain of fifty years more of Tory Government, would have at this moment been not worth more—if worth as much-as Mr. Turnerelli's wreath. (Loud laughter and applause.) And if the people of England allowed this Government, with an unchanged policy, or such a Government, to proceed twenty years longer, I would not give much for the institutions of this country, which the majority of the people value highly, but which we are sometimes told we do not think so much of as those to whom we are opposed. If this picture be true, is it not wise for young men, middle-aged men, all men, to connect themselves with the Liberal party in associations or clubs by which, by moral and just and honest means, the purposes of that party are intended to be promoted ? Our duty, in my opinion, is to continue to work for these great objects. They are not all accomplished. There is much else to be done. Much has been done in fifty years. Those who from this platform, or from any other platform, can speak in fifty years to come, I hope that they may be able to show that they also have done their duty in their time-(cheers); and that England, whether it boasts or not of being the centre of an empire on which the sun never sets, is an England with a population educated, well-fed, civilized, and enlightened—such a population as we can only have under a just and a moral Government. I believe that at home we have much to do. Now our eyes are directed to foreign countries, to wars afar off, to the sufferings of our countrymen there, and to the more appalling sufferings they are inflicting on the populations with which we are at war. (Hear, hear.) Our eyes and our attention have been diverted from our own immediate and real interests. It is for you, members of this club- for members of the Liberal party throughout the kingdom—to make up their minds that, at the hour which is coming, there will be such a proclamation of opinion on the part of the universal constituencies that shall fix for ever the mark of their condemnation upon the policy of the last four or five years.' (Loud cheering.)
Mr. Chamberlain, M.P., in an able speech, subsequently proposed 'Success to the Liberal cause, ' a toast which was responded to by the Earl of Camperdown.
Two days later, Mr. Bright attended the annual soirée of the Junior Liberal Association of Birmingham, held in the Town Hall. Being called upon for a speech in the course of the evening, he said that he held it wise for young men to devote themselves, to a prudent extent, to the politics of their town and country. There were numbers of young men who brought discredit and suffering, and sometimes ruin, on their families because they had not taken up any question to
spare time. Coming to the question of the assimilation of the county and borough franchise, which he supposed would be one of the first proposals of a Liberal Government, Mr. Bright said that the main objection urged to this measure was the ignorance of those in a certain position in counties; but ignorance was not confined to the counties; and he believed that, if the spread of Liberal opinions or the conduct of great Liberal reforms which had been carried out had been left to men educated at universities, there could be very little to look back upon in our past that would meet
either with our admiration or our satisfaction. Unfortunately the board schools could do very little in the
way of really educating the rich. The Zulu and Afghan wars Mr. Bright next proceeded to denounce as savage and cruel. 'I believe,' he said, 'all wars are savage and cruel; but I mean harsh and cruel wars on uncivilized or half-civilized
When I read of transactions of that kind, something always puts to me this question, What is it that makes, if anything makes, this needless and terrible slaughter different in its nature from those transactions which we call murder ?' Excuses had been made for these wars-excuses which were not justified by the facts-excuses that the Zulus had attacked Natal, which was absolutely and notoriously and entirely false. With regard to the Afghans, statements had been made very much of the same character, that they were going to throw in their influence with another and a northern Power, and that they insulted outrageously the Envoy sent to negotiate with them—all of which he believed there was not a particle of foundation for. At most, in regard to either of these peoples, the case was one of suspicion ; but was it right, upon a mere suspicion, that a country like this should send, in the one case 20,000 and in the other 40,000 troops to invade territories, and to put to death not less perhaps than 20,000 men engaged in the defence of their own country, which in our case we considered honourable and needful ? Mr. Bright then eulogized Bishop Colenso—whom he described as 'that eminent, and, in his character and conduct, most Christian bishop' —for his conduct in regard to the Zulu war, and expressed his belief that the results of these wars would in the end be disastrous to this country. The right hon. gentleman continued :
You recollect, I dare say, many of you, a beautiful ode, written by one of our best poets, who puts into the mouth of an ancient British Queen, who is supposed to have lived nearly two thousand years ago, a complaint and a denunciation which she utters against the power of Rome, which at that time was invading her country and slaughtering her people. She is made to say, in the indignation with which her heart is filled
“Rome shall perish-write that word —
In the blood that she has spilt;
Deep in ruin and in guilt.”.
It was not a prophecy of the British Queen. It was written perhaps a hundred years ago by an English poet, but it might well be that which the British Queen thought and in her words expressed. But what has happened? The great empire has fallen ; it is a ruin everywhere. No completer ruin has history shown, perhaps, than the great ruin of the conquering and sanguinary Roman empire. Well, I believe-I believe it whether I read history sacred or profane—that the punishment which has fallen upon ancient empires, upon their rulers and their peoples, will visit modern times, with their rulers and their peoples, if they persist in the pursuit of empire and glory, sacrificing uncounted and countless multitudes of human lives. It seems to me that that which has taken place in past times must in this respect take place in times to come. The retribution-sometimes of individuals and sometimes of nations—comes slowly, but it is sure to come. A great Italian poet has said
“ The sword of Heaven is not in haste to smite,
Nor yet doth linger." We may be quite sure, therefore, that in some shape, if we, the people of England, tolerate the bloody and sanguinary crimes which are committed in our name, if they are so committed, and we do not remonstrate and condemn, we shall have no acquittal at that tribunal by which the actions, not of individuals only, but of nations and peoples, are finally judged. Now that is my view. (Cheers.) Perhaps I have spoken strongly, and