« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
of Hartington had responded for the House of Commons, there were loud and repeated calls for Mr. Bright. At first the right hon. gentleman declined to answer the call; but upon its being persistently renewed, he rose, and complied with the wishes of the assembled guests. “I had expected,' he said, ‘not to be one of the speakers, and the pleasure of being permitted to enjoy that tranquil obscurity in which persons have the advantage of listening, and the privilege of remaining silent, was one to which I thought on this occasion I might aspire. But I observe that the members of the Government who have already spoken—the Prime Minister, Lord Hartington, and Lord Kimberley—have come hot from the Houses of Parliament which they represent. They remind me of an anecdote which my dear friend, the late Mr. Cobden, once narrated to me. He told me that at the end of a session a member of the House, who had a yacht, and who spent the autumn in the Mediterranean, invited him to go with him, saying that he would invite three or four other members of the House, and that they would all have a nice time of it. Mr. Cobden replied that he had seen so much of hon. members during the session that he did not wish to see another for other six months to come.'
After remarking that the House of Commons wanted repairs of an extensive character, Mr. Bright went on to discuss the great measure of the sessionthe Land Bill. Respecting this he said :
'I believe that this measure is as great and as noble a measure on that question as it would be possible for the English Parliament to pass; that it is one which it is impossible, when it becomes law, that the Irish people should not discover to be a great measure of satisfaction and redemption for them, unless they are unable to understand a policy intended directly for their benefit. (Cheers.) I have said that there are fears. I have fears. After the state of things through which the Irish people have gone in so many successive periods, it is not perhaps quite certain that all remedial measures are not too late. I will not express a strong fear that such is the case ; on the contrary, I will express a strong hope that such is not the case. It may be that some would say,
“For never can true reconcilement grow
Where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep ;" but as generation after generation passes, governed by a monarchy kindly, liberal, beneficent like ours, legislated for by a Parliament anxious to do justice to all the people under its sway, I will not doubt, I will believe, that whatever may be the passion, whatever the frenzy in the minds of the Irish people, whatever the gloom that now rests on that country, all this may pass away, and that the time may come, and come soon, when in Ireland it shall be felt as much as it is felt in England, that, with all its faults, our Government does intend to do rightly by the Irish people. (Cheers.) Therefore, looking on the session now drawing to a close, terrible as has been the work, long as have been the hours and the nights of its toil, often as we have been shocked by conduct in the House that has been distasteful and distracting to us, nevertheless I live in the hope that men will look back to the session of 1881, and will say that if we had the greatest of statesmen to guide our affairs, in that year was passed the greatest of measures in order to bring about tranquillity, peace, and union in the greatest empire on which the sun shines.' (Loud cheers.)
The Land Bill having passed the Commons, its probable reception in the Lords caused much comment and excitement in the press and throughout the country. Their lordships, however, taking the statesmanlike view of the matter, did not reject the bill, but passed the second reading, and proceeded to discuss its provisions in Committee. At the instance of Lord Salisbury, the Conservative leader in the Upper House, and other peers, many amendments were made, and at one moment it appeared that the bill was in danger. The country began to manifest signs of agitation upon the subject, but the House of Commons having disagreed with the Lords' amendments, which were considered vital to the existence of the bill, the Lords gave way, and the Land Bill became law on the 23rd of August.
Of this remarkable measure it may be said that its object is to give adequate security of possession to the Irish tenantry, at rents which are not excessive or unreasonable ; and to give them also, by the free right of assignment or sale of their holdings, the value of improvements made by them, which have hitherto in too many cases been absorbed by the owners of the soil. It is hoped by the Government which framed, and the Parliament which has passed the Act, that the position of tenants will be made more secure, and that landlords will find in the increased security of their incomes a full compensation for any diminution of the powers or rights they have heretofore possessed.
MR. BRIGHT'S ORATORY.-GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS.
Personal Characteristics of Mr. Bright.-His Oratory.—Its Power and Quality.
Its Freshness, etc.—Comparison with Mr. Gladstone.—Mr. Bright's Knowledge of Literature. — His Humour. Examples. — Recreations. Moral Characteristics.His Courage and Earnestness.—Mr. Bright as an Agitator. —The true Seer in English Politics.-His Career and its Objects.—The Friend of true Liberty.-Influence upon his Time.-Conclusion.
E have now reached the close of our survey of
Mr. Bright's career. Something still remains to be said, however, concerning the personal characteristics of this leader of the people ; and our observations shall not pass beyond those fair and legitimate bounds which should be observed when men speak of those whose long services to their country have not touched their final limit. The substantial lifework of Mr. Bright has been achieved ; on the 16th of November next he completes his seventieth year —according to the great Hebrew king the allotted span of human life; but, notwithstanding this, we will still hope that for many years to come he may be a living force amongst us, and a grace and an ornament to the British Senate.
When the name of Mr. Bright is mentioned, one of our first reflections is occupied with his oratory. And in this respect, as regards its power and influence, there is but one other public man comparable with him, namely, Mr. Gladstone. All other Parliamentary speakers are at an immeasurable distance from these. It is not that in every aspect Mr. Bright and Mr. Gladstone are superior to Lord Beaconsfield and some other of their contemporaries; they have doubtless been excelled in certain individual gifts and qualities, but in all those characteristics which combine to make the great orator, their superiority has been manifest. Mr. Bright, too, has been favoured by nature for the work he has had to do. Though not of imposing stature, his form and bearing are such as to create at once an impression in his favour. Robust in figure, and with a fine, genial, Saxon face, his very glance has been sufficient to fix his audience. Like Coleridge's Ancient Mariner, 'he holds us with his glittering eye;' and that eye, which is of a deep blue, can now flash with indignation, and now beam with the soft light of sympathy. His broad face, high, full forehead, and mobile mouth are all in keeping with the oratory which is so characteristic of him. His voice is—or was in its meridian strength-remarkably clear and of great compass, reaching a mass of fifteen thousand persons almost as easily as it could address itself to a hundred and fifty. The speech itself is always singularly clear and vivid, now rippling with humour, now impregnated with earnestness and pathos. As one critic has observed, ' his diction is drawn exclu