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the description which one of our great poets gives of Rome,
“Lone mother of dead empires." But England is the living mother of great nations on the American and on the Australian continents, which promise to endow the world with all her knowledge and all her civilization, and even with something more than the freedom she herself enjoys.'
He then traced the progress of the United States, and the history of the slave question, and showed, from the superior position and advantages of the Southern States in the Union, that the present insurrection was a wicked one. The maintenance of a high tariff was not the cause of the revolt; it was really the question of slavery. For thirty years it had constantly been coming to the surface, disturbing social life, and overthrowing almost all political harmony in the working of the United States. The object of the South was to escape from the majority, who wished to limit the area of slavery. The Slave States offered themselves for the recognition of a Christian nation, based upon the foundation, the unchangeable foundation in their eyes, of slavery and barbarism.
What was the course which England would be expected to pursue ? We should be neutral as far as regards mingling in the strife. We were neutral in the strife in Italy, but we were not neutral in opinion and sympathy; and the feeling in Italy was that the opinion of England was potent in Europe,
and did much for the creation of the Italian kingdom. Mr. Bright spoke with commendation of the speeches of the Duke of Argyll and Lord Stanley on the question of neutrality. Lord John Russell, too, had spoken out; but there were other speeches made to which he would not refer, out of pity for the men who uttered them. Coming to the press, he instanced the Times as not having, since Mr. Lincoln took office, published one fair and honourable and friendly article on American affairs. Now, he had never stood forth as the advocate of war, but on this question it was well that principles should be understood. The Times advocated separation in America ; but if an insurrection arose in Ireland, it would describe with glee and exultation the manner in which the insurrectionists were cut down and made an end of. Mr. Bright wanted to know whether it had ever been admitted by politicians, or statesmen, or people, that a great nation could be broken up at any time by any particular section of any part of that nation; and he went on to show, from a survey of the American States, the impossibility of secession being tolerated. Dealing with another argument of which we heard much, Mr. Bright said there could not be a meaner motive than that it was better for ourselves that the United States should be severed, and that the North American continent should be as the continent of Europe is, in many States, and subject to all the contentions and disasters which have accompanied
the history of the States of Europe. 'I should say that, if a man had a great heart within him, he would rather look forward to the day when, from that point of land which is habitable nearest to the Pole, to the shores of the Great Gulf, the whole of that vast continent might become one grand confederation of States,—without a great army, and without a great navy,-not mixing itself up with the entanglements of European politics,-without a custom-house inside, through the whole length and breadth of its territory, —and with freedom everywhere, equality everywhere, law everywhere, peace everywhere,—such a confederation would afford at least some hope that man is not forsaken of Heaven, and that the future of our race may be better than the past.' It was said that the Americans were irritable, which was very likely, seeing that they were involved in a great struggle, the like of which had not been before in their or in any history. No country in the world was ever more entitled to sympathy and forbearance than the United States at that moment. We had papers endeavouring to poison the mind of England against the North ; and they had papers, like the New York Herald, endeavouring to provoke mischief between the Government in Washington and the Government in London.
Mr. Bright next referred to the discourtesy of our Foreign Minister towards Mr. Adams, the American representative, in not delaying until his arrival the issue of the proclamation of neutrality, so that it
might at least have seemed a friendly act, and thus have obviated all the unpleasantness which had occurred. He was obliged to say that there had not been that friendly and cordial neutrality on the part of England which he should have expected had he been a citizen of the United States. With regard to the affair of the Trent, Mr. Bright pronounced the act both impolitic and bad, though he did not understand the law, which was very unsettled. “I think it may turn out, almost certainly, that, so far as the taking of those men from that ship was concerned, it was an act wholly unknown to, and unauthorized by, the American Government. And if the American Government believe, on the opinion of their law officers, that the act is illegal, I have no doubt they will make fitting reparation ; for there is no Government in the world that has so strenuously insisted upon modifications of international law, and been so anxious to be guided always by the most moderate and merciful interpretation of that law.'
But Mr. Bright begged Englishmen to be calm on this matter, to take no notice of those who clamoured for war before we had heard a word from the American Government, and to remember how we were dragged into the Russian war. The hon. gentleman then brought his address to this effective conclusion :
'At this very moment, then, there are millions in the United States who personally, or whose immediate parents, have at one time been citizens of this country. They found a home in the Far West; they subdued the wilderness ; they met with plenty there, which was not afforded them in
their native country; and they have become a great people. There may be persons in England who are jealous of those States; there may be men who dislike democracy, and who bate a republic; there may be even those whose sympathies warm towards the slave oligarchy of the South ; but of this I am certain, that only misrepresentation the most gross, or calumny the most wicked, can sever the tie which unites the great mass of the people of this country with their friends and brethren beyond the Atlantic
"Now, whether the Union will be restored or not, or the South achieve an unhonoured independence or not, I know not, and I predict not. But this I think I know-that in a few years, a very few years, the twenty millions of freemen in the North will be thirty millions, or even fifty millions—a population equal to or exceeding that of this kingdom. When that time comes, I pray that it may not be said amongst them that, in the darkest hour of their country's trials, England, the land of their fathers, looked on with icy coldness, and saw unmoved the perils and calamities of their children. As for me, I have but this to say: I am but one in this audience, and but one in the citizenship of this country; but if all other tongues are silent, mine shall speak for that policy which gives hope to the bondsmen of the South, and which tends to generous thoughts, and generous words, and generous deeds, between the two great nations who speak the English language, and from their origin are alike entitled to the English name.'
Mr. Bright had prophesied the cotton famine in 1847, and again in 1850, and alluded to this when he spoke at a banquet of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce on the 4th of February, 1862. “It was no long-sightedness,' he observed, 'to say or to see what would result, for I took it for granted every man must have known that, in a country the constitution of which declared as its cardinal point that all men are equal, the institution of slavery, by one means or other, must at some period come to an end, and that the organization of labour in the Southern States of America must at least for a time be interfered with, if not wholly broken up. He therefore recommended