The Diaries of John Bright

By John Bright; R. A. J. Walling | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI THE FRIEND OF THE NORTH

I

NOT even his self-immolating conduct during the Crimean War outshines the courage and sagacity of Bright's campaign for the American cause in England in the four tragic years of 1861-1864.

True, his was not a solitary voice. Other men of eminence, and of the greatest eminence--the Prince Consort, the Duke of Argyll and Lord Stanley, for example--stood out high above the ruck of folly, prejudice and envy in which English statesmanship grovelled so abjectly while the Republic fought for its life. But Bright's was the clearest, the most distinguished, and finally the most regarded of all the voices that, from the onset of the crisis to the end, never wavered in support of Lincoln and the Union. The brilliant course of his advocacy can be followed in his speeches and in the letters to Sumner. It explains why Bright, who never set foot in America, was of all Englishmen in the ʼsixties the most admired and revered by the American people.

He faced unflinchingly the animosity of ignorance and the contempt of aristocratic presumption even in such eruptions of national passion as the quarrel over the affair of the Trent. But still more remarkable than this heroic temerity were his calm temper and unerring foresight. In a long lifetime Bright gave the world many evidences of political wisdom, but never more immediately and decisively than now did he tear out the core of a question. Stripping the North v. South controversy of all its camouflage of fiscal grievance and constitutional conundrum, he disclosed to the nation its fundamental issue--Freedom or Slavery. By forcing the question of emancipation uppermost in the public mind he performed a signal service to his country and to humanity, for to this question England could give in the long run but one answer. It was the conclusive counterstroke against those powerful social and political elements in English life which, jealous of the advancing wealth and power of America, desired nothing so much as its dismemberment.

Bright might fairly claim to have foreseen long ago not only the

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The Diaries of John Bright
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Editor's Note v
  • Contents vii
  • List of Plates ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Chapter I John Bright's Memoir of His Youth 1
  • Chapter II the Near East 16
  • Chapter III the Memoir Continued 52
  • Chapter IV the Five Years' War 56
  • Chapter V a Victorian Love Story 82
  • Chapter VI Ireland in the Hungry 'Forties 95
  • Chapter VII the Struggle with Palmerston 108
  • Chapter VIII the Angel of Death 155
  • Chapter IX an Interlude Abroad 203
  • Chapter X Member for Birmingham 231
  • Chapter XI the Friend of the North 252
  • Chapter XII the Triumph of Reform 293
  • Chapter XIII the Irish Church 314
  • Chapter XIV in and Out of Office 338
  • Chapter XV the New Imperialism 364
  • Chapter XVI Irish, Boers and Fellaheen 415
  • Chapter XVII Reform and the House of Lords 493
  • Chapter XVIII Home Rule and the End 522
  • Index 563
  • Index 565
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