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his decision, while not challenging his right to spend the closing years of his life as he wished.
The Liberals were considerably embarrassed in their choice of a leader, for there were many statesmen of the second rank who had perhaps almost equal claims to the post. Various names were mentioned, but those whose qualifications were most widely canvassed were Lord Hartington and Mr. Forster. A meeting of Liberal members was held at the Reform Club, on the 3rd of February, for the purpose of electing Mr. Gladstone's successor. Before this date, however, Mr. Forster had formally declined the candidature. All difficulties were consequently removed out of the way.
At the meeting, Mr. C. P. Villiers proposed, and Mr. Samuel Morley seconded, the election of the Marquis of Hartington. The motion having been adopted unanimously, Lord Frederick Cavendish responded for his brother; and Mr. Bright, who was chairman of the meeting, passed a warm and hearty eulogium upon the new Liberal leader.
There were one or two singular episodes in the session of 1875 in connection with the notorious Tichborne Claimant, and his advocate, Dr. Kenealy. Having been elected for Stoke-upon-Trent, Dr. Kenealy appeared in the House for the purpose of taking his seat. He was unaccompanied, however, by two other members, as is always the case upon the introduction of a new member, and after some discussion this formality was waived. He had not been long in the House before he brought forward a
number of notices, questions, and petitions having reference to the Tichborne trial. One of these, called the Prittlewell petition, not only prayed for a free pardon for that unhappy nobleman now languishing in prison,' but contained direct charges of unfairness against the three judges, and abuse of the Speaker. Mr. Disraeli moved the dismissal of the petition; but some members were for treating it with contempt. Under great pressure, Dr. Kenealy rose, and said that, having given the notice, he was only waiting to be supported by more petitions from the country before bringing forward a definite motion against the judges.
Mr. Bright, who had acted in a friendly spirit towards Dr. Kenealy since his entry into the House, now delivered a severe philippic against the hon. member. He said that his present course could not be tolerated. • The hon. gentleman,' he observed, 'has no right to come down to the House and give a notice of this character, to remove it to some other day, then to some other day, and after that to let it remain on the paper without any day being fixed, and then to leave London to visit towns and other parts of the country, and there to make his statement of the question—I will not say to inflame the minds of the people of this country, I will not say to make charges which are false—I will say rather to make statements which he believes it his duty to make. It is not right to make such statements-I will not say to defame, but to charge eminent judges with
unfairness, and to create in the mind of the people a belief that men upon their trial before the judges and a jury of this country cannot hope for fair, complete, and open justice. I say he has no right to do that, and to leave a notice of that kind on the paper week after week and month after month ; and I think the House ought to insist that a question of this nature, upon which so much hangs—a question as to the judgment of the House upon the character of eminent judges—ought not to be left undecided. The House ought to take some steps by which it shall either be adjudged or got rid of for ever.
I think the hon. member for Stafford (Mr. Macdonald) made a manly declaration. He made an appeal to the hon. member for Stoke which he cannot disregard. Amidst general cheering from both sides of the House, Mr. Bright continued : 'I protest against this question being left over. If the hon. member had given notice that he was about to bring a vote of censure against a member of the Government, the First Minister would say, « This cannot be allowed to remain week after week. It must be decided. The Government enjoys the confidence of the House, or it does not.” But it seems to me even more important if you have three of the most eminent judges of the land, and heap upon them charges of the most grave character. I say that the man who makes those charges, and who hesitates to come forward, and, to the best of his power, substantiate them, at any rate will have no right to say anything against the judges, for however evil may be their character, I suspect his will not bear examination. I conclude by saying, and I say it with no unfriendliness to the hon. member for Stoke, I think I have a fair right to appeal to him to answer my question, and to state to the House whether it is his intention immediately, or on the first convenient day—and I hope the House will be ready to make way for him—to bring this matter before the House, so that it may be fairly discussed ; for I am at least as anxious as he is that justice should be done, and that the great mass of the people of this country, whether they take his view or the view of the majority of this House, should have another opportunity of correcting their opinion, and of coming, it may be, to a just decision upon a question which has excited so many of them.'
Driven to bay, Dr. Kenealy was at length forced to bring the question to an issue, and this he did on the 23rd of April, in the shape of a motion for the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the conduct of the trial at bar of the Tichborne case. The mover, after going into the details of the case, especially attacked Lord Chief Justice Cockburn, charging him with misbehaviour so gross as to necessitate a new trial in the interests of truth and justice. The Attorney-General replied to Dr. Kenealy, showing that he had entirely failed to make out a case for a Royal Commission. Mr. Disraeli described the affair
altogether an absurd, preposterous, and most
flimsy business.' It was Mr. Bright, however, who most completely exploded the hon. member's charges. He went into the merits of the case on which the Claimant was convicted, and by a straightforward, but pitiless and irresistible logic showed how weak was the defence, and how inevitable the conclusion that the Claimant was a rank impostor. “It is a great public injury,' he observed, “it is a great wrong, that gentlemen of education, and occupying the position of members of this House, should seek to convince persons who could not by any possibility have had so good an opportunity of judging of the matter as the judges and jury whose conduct is condemned,-I say it is a great evil to teach such persons what I believe to be utterly untrue, that the judges were partial and corrupt, and that the jury were mistaken in the view which they took. Sir, I can take no such view. I can take no part in such conduct. I would uphold the institutions of this country, in the main, as they exist with regard to the administration of justice; I think the poorest in the land has at least as great an interest in that being done as the richest in the land ; and it is because I think this, that I cannot for a moment think of giving my vote in favour of the proposition of the hon. member for Stoke.
The division which followed is probably unparalleled in the annals of the House of Commons. The motion was rejected by 433 votes against 1,-Dr. Kenealy's solitary supporter being Major O'Gorman. The hon.