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member's co-teller was Mr. Whalley, as ardent an admirer of and a believer in the Claimant 'as he was a hater of the Pope.
During this session, Mr. Bright spoke on the occasion of the second reading of Mr. Osborne Morgan's Burials Bill. He pointed out that all persons had a right to use the parochial burying ground when their friends came to be buried. These grounds were the property of the parish—they were plots of ground in which the parishioners generally had a pecuniary interest. But those who dissented from the Church could only be buried in the parish graveyard upon certain conditions. They must have a certain service read over them, or none at all. He asked why this test should be imposed upon onehalf of the population? They had abolished tests for holding offices, and many other tests—then why adhere to this ?—for it was no other than a test. Having described the simple burial service of the Friends, where any one was allowed to pray or to offer a word of exhortation if he felt it his duty to do so, Mr. Bright said : ‘But if this were done in one of your graveyards—if, for example, such a thing were done there, and a member of my sect, or a Baptist, an Independent, or a Wesleyan, came to be interred in one of your graveyards, and if some Godfearing and good man there spoke some word of exhortation, or on his knees offered a prayer to God, is there one of you on this side of the House or on that, or one of your clergymen, or any thoughtful
dna Christian man connected with your Church, who would dare in the sight of Heaven to condemn that, or to interfere with it by force of law? The proposition as reduced to a simple case like that is monstrous and intolerable, and I believe the time will come when men will never believe that such a thing could have been seriously discussed in the English House of Commons. They were doing harm to the Church of England by maintaining this test. Why should not the English Nonconformists have full toleration in this matter, when the exclusive system was unknown in Scotland, and had been abolished in Ireland? Ill effects had been prophesied from the abolition of Church-rates, but these ill effects had not come. Voluntary effort had done more for the Church than any law that Parliament could ever discuss or pass. This was a political question, as the Church-rate was a political question; and if they could once get rid of party discussion, and consider this matter as men-whether Nonconformists or Churchmen—anxious for that brotherly kindness and that peace inculcated upon all men alike by the precepts of their common Christianity, they would have no difficulty in agreeing to the present bill.
Notwithstanding Mr. Bright's speech, however, which had a considerable effect upon the House, the bill was lost by the narrow majority of 14—the numbers being, for the second reading, 234; against, 248.
When Mr. Disraeli proposed the grant in connection with the Prince of Wales's visit to India, Mr. Bright spoke in the course of the discussion, and said that as the visit had received the consent of the Queen, and had been considered and approved by Ministers, he was willing to believe, as he most strongly hoped, that the visit was a wise one, and one that would tend in the main to useful purposes, both for England and India. As to the character of the visit, the Prince could not go to India with a single portmanteau and a carpet bag; and he (Mr. Bright) inclined to the mode of travelling which the Government had proposed. If it was any other of the sons of the Queen, the case would be somewhat different; but the Prince of Wales was the heir-apparent to the throne of these kingdoms, and they could not, in his travels through India, divest him of that character and that position. He ought to go in such state as should commend itself to the ideas, the sympathies, and wishes of the population he was about to see. The Prince could not make the people of India forget that they were a subject population, but there were influences which he might employ, and there were circumstances which might arise, that might have a beneficial effect upon the public mind in that country. The Prince was kindly, courteous, and generous, whereas the English rulers in India were not always kind and courteous to the native population. 'I rose,' concluded Mr. Bright, 'for the purpose of saying that although I
had some doubts, and although it is impossible to say and believe that the journey of the Prince of Wales will turn the current of feeling on great political questions in the minds of the natives of India, yet I think that in all probability by his conducthis personal conduct,--his kindness, his courtesy, his generosity, and his sympathy with that great people over whom it may at no distant period be his tremendous responsibility to rule, he may leave behind him memories that may be of exceeding value, and equal in influence to the greatest measures of State policy which any Government could propound.'
There were many questions of importance introduced in the session of 1876, upon which Mr. Bright addressed the House. The subject of Reform for Ireland was brought forward by Mr. Meldon on the 28th of March, upon a motion for the assimilation of the borough franchise in England and Ireland. Mr. Meldon showed, from rating and other causes, how large numbers of the Irish people, especially in the towns, were disfranchised. While opposing the motion, Sir M. H. Beach admitted the future necessity of dealing with the franchise in Ireland. Mr. Bright concluded the debate in a very effective speech, which showed that he had lost none of his power of commanding the attention of the House. It was remarked, indeed, that the brief speeches which he delivered on the Burials Bill in the former session, and on this occasion, were among the most successful of his shorter oratorical efforts. In supporting Mr. Meldon's
motion, Mr. Bright showed that household suffrage had not been a terrible thing for England, and that it could not be a dangerous thing for Ireland. 'I believe,' be said, that if a measure of this kind were passed it would have the effect in Ireland—it must inevitably have the effect of teaching the Irish people that the Imperial Parliament is not only not afraid of them, but actually invites their co-operation. It invites every man of them, every householder in boroughs, to take an interest in the political questions which are constantly debated in this House; and I am satisfied that, if you ask them to become partners in the discussions and deliberations of this assembly, it would make them think that it will not be necessary for them to have a small Parliament of their own in Ireland, seeing that this greater Parliament is willing to do them speedy and substantial justice. It remains to be true—though all the officials in the world think it worth while to call it in question—that justice done by the Government and Parliament to any portion of the population, be it the most remote, be it the most abject, still that measure of justice is never lost. It is compensated to the power that grants it, be it monarch or be it Parliament, by greater affection, by greater and firmer allegiance to the law, and by the growth of all those qualities and virtues by which a great and durable nation is distinguished.' To Mr. Bright's advocacy of the resolution was probably due the closeness of the division, the Government escaping defeat only