The Diaries of John Bright

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

CHAPTER XII THE TRIUMPH OF REFORM

1

IN the month of July, 1865, the Parliament of 1859 was dissolved and anew one elected with an increased Whig and Liberal majority of 50. Palmerston thus found himself at the head of a Government ostensibly stronger than before. But only ostensibly. Events soon uncovered its weakness.

The elections, fought in the main on Reform, had powerfully reinforced the Radical wing of the party. Bright loomed larger than ever in the hopes of the "masses" and the fears of the "classes." Then in October the death of Palmerston took the heaviest brake off the wheel of Reform. It did not immediately come full circle. But, with Russell as Prime Minister and Gladstone leading the House of Commons, the way slowly opened out for advance to the final struggles and the crowning achievements of Bright's career. They came within the next three years. The householder was enfranchised. Ireland was emancipated from the trammels of the State Church.

Bright's journals of the eighteen months from June, 1865, are missing, if even he kept journals in the midst of the heroic and continuous labours, first of a heated Parliamentary session and then of the great campaign in the country which was the prelude to the Reform Act of 1867. It was the period of the "Cave of Adullam" speech, and the defeat of Gladstone's modest Reform scheme (after he had resoundingly "passed the Rubicon, broken the bridge and burned the boats") by the Adullamites in combination with the Opposition; of the resignation of Russell and the accession of Lord Derby's third Ministry, still in a minority; of the riots in Hyde Park and the vast demonstrations addressed by Bright in many cities; of his memorable visit to Ireland and the speech in the Rotunda at Dublin; and finally of the adoption by a Liberal House of Commons of a more radical measure at the bidding of Disraeli than it had refused to Gladstone twelve months before.

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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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