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Liberal victory. The arrangement for the equalization of votes in different wards succeeded admirably, all three of the Liberal candidates being brought in triumphantly at but a short distance from each other. After the counting of the votes, the Mayor announced the result to be as follows: For Mr. Muntz, 22,969; Mr. Bright, 22,079; Mr. Chamberlain, 19,544; Major Burnaby, 15,735; and the Hon. A. C. G. Calthorpe, 14,308. The majority of the lowest Liberal over the highest Conservative was consequently 3,809. It may be added here that two other Liberal members for the ensuing Parliament were furnished by Birmingham on the following day, Mr. J. S. Wright being elected for Nottingham, and Mr. Jesse Collings for Ipswich. After the poll at Birmingham, the three successful candidates issued a brief joint address, thanking the electors. We congratulate you,' said this document, 'on the result of your great contest, and on your great victory. Birmingham is still Birmingham, true to its old faith, and to its love of freedom.'
The elections generally throughout the country resulted in the complete discomfiture of the Conservative party. On the first day of the polling, March 31st, the Liberals gained no fewer than twenty-four seats in the boroughs, and only lost nine. Three days later, the gains had sprung up to fifty. The counties, however, were still to be fought, and both sides eagerly awaited the verdict of the rural constituencies. But here, also, great Liberal triumphs were registered. Ultimately, when all the returns from the constituencies had been completed, it was found that the new Parliament would consist of 349 Liberals, 243 Conservatives, and 60 Home Rulers. The Liberals were indeed signally avenged for the disaster of 1874.
Much speculation took place as to who would be the new Liberal Premier. On the resignation of Lord Beaconsfield, Lord Hartington was sent for; but on the following day, the 23rd of April, when his lordship and Earl Granville had an audience of the Queen together, Mr. Gladstone was sent for. The veteran Liberal chief undertook to form a Ministry, and in that Ministry he assumed the double office of Premier and Chancellor of the Exchequer. Mr. Bright again accepted office as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster; and the remaining members of the Cabinet were the following: Lord Chancellor, , Lord Selborne ; Lord President of the Council, Earl Spencer; Lord Privy Seal, Duke of Argyll; Foreign Secretary, Earl Granville; Secretary for India, the Marquis of Hartington; Home Secretary, Sir W. Vernon Harcourt; Colonial Secretary, Earl of Kimberley; War Secretary, Mr. Childers; First Lord of the Admiralty, the Earl of Northbrook; Chief Secretary for Ireland, Mr. Forster; President of the Local Government Board, Mr. Dodson; and President of the Board of Trade, Mr. Chamberlain. The Duke of Argyll afterwards seceded from the Ministry on the question of the Irish Land Bill.
Upon accepting office, Mr. Bright and Mr. Chamberlain issued their addresses to the electors of Birmingham, seeking re-election. Mr. Bright wrote: 'I have accepted office in the Administration which has just been formed, and the seat in Parliament which you conferred upon me a month ago is now vacant. I need not tell you how greatly I value your good opinion, and how much I hope that in again becoming a member of the Government I have in no degree forfeited it. In one of my speeches during the week before the last election, I told you that in the month of April we should have a new Parliament, in the month of May a new Government, and that by the month of June it would be seen that the nation had accepted and adopted a new policy. I hope and believe the change we have witnessed will tend to the honour of the Crown and to the welfare of the people. Whether in office or out of it, I shall endeavour to serve you faithfully.'
The two Ministers were re-elected for Birmingham on the 7th of May, without opposition.
Mr. Bright on the Pacification of Ireland.-Speech at Birmingham.-Scheme for
the Reform of the Irish 'Land Laws.—Mr. Bright on the Rise of Nonconformity.--The Session of 1880.- Mr. Bradlaugh and the Oath.—Mr. Gladstone proposes the appointment of a Select Committee.-Appeal by Mr. Bright.A Committee appointed.—Its Decision. Further Debates in the House. Eloquent Speech by Mr. Bright.-Arrest and Release of Mr. Bradlaugh. – Further History of this Legislative Difficulty. – Mr. Bright on Capital Punishment. On the Representation of Minorities.—He is elected Lord Rector of Glasgow University.—Mr. Bright at Birmingham.-Address on Irish Affairs.— The House of Lords and the Compensation for Disturbance Bill. — Necessity for a good Land Reform. — Correspondence with Lord Carnarvon. -Mr. Bright on International Arbitration.-Address from French Liberals on the Transvaal War.-Free Trade and Reciprocity.—Letters from Mr. Bright.—Local Option in the House of Commons.—Sir Wilfrid Lawson's Resolution carried.-Irish Questions in the Session of 1881.-The Coercion Bill.—Speech of Mr. Bright. The Land League Agitation.—Mr. Gladstone introduces the Land Bill.—Mr. Bright at the Fishmongers' Banquet.Observations on the Land Bill.—Debate on the Condition of the Agricultural Labourers in Ireland.—Mr. Bright's Views on the Question.-Second Reading of the Land Bill.—Mr. Bright's Speech. — Ministers at the Mansion House.The Land Bill passes the Lords and becomes Law.
NE of the greatest objects to which Mr. Bright
has devoted himself during his long political career has been, as we have had abundant occasion for seeing, the pacification of Ireland.
Early in 1880, he once more exhibited his earnestness on this question. On the 24th of January the members for Birmingham met their constituents in the Town Hall, and on the motion of Mr. J. S. Wright, seconded by
Mr. Alderman Collings, a vote of renewed confidence was passed in them.
Mr. Bright's speech in reply was almost entirely devoted to the Irish question. After remarking upon what England had been doing abroad, while she had neglected her own people near home, he said that fourteen years ago, when speaking in Dublin, he had quoted a question put in the Parliament of Kilkenny, 'How comes it to pass that the King is never the richer for Ireland ?' The question originally put five hundred years ago, and repeated fourteen years ago, still pressed for an answer. This he found in the condition of the land question in Ireland, a condition differing from anything in any other country in the world. It was true that the laws in Ireland with regard to the land were as nearly as possible the same as in England. But evil laws might work much more mischief in one country and under one state of things than the same laws would in another country with another state of things. Great industries had grown up in England to correct the evil of the feudal system of land; and in these industries the people, divorced from the land by reason of the feudal laws, had found a fresh resource. In Ireland there were something over twenty millions of acres of land, and 292 persons owned nearly one-third. The whole of the proprietors in Ireland were ten or twelve thousand in number, while the tenant farmers were 600,000. There were therefore nearly three millions of people who were mostly tenants at will, liable to have their rents