The Diaries of John Bright

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

CHAPTER V A VICTORIAN LOVE STORY

1

FREE Trade won, Bright turned for a brief space to his private concerns before going forward to the battle of Irish freedom and electoral reform. The day after his talk with Peel, he wrote to Cobden:

"[ July 29, 1846.] I confess that I am seeking the good opinion of a lady for whom I have long felt a high regard, and have some hope of being successful. . . . It is pleasant, after the Seven Years' War of the League, to look to domestic peace."

The lady whose good opinion he sought was Miss Elizabeth Leatham, of Heath, near Wakefield.

He was now thirty-five, a widower, a national celebrity, a vigorous intellect, a great orator, but naturally a little set and serious in his mental habits. On his thirty-fifth birthday he wrote: ". . . So half the time allotted by the Psalmist is over and the latter half has begun. This is a solemn consideration, and it startles me every birthday to think how the sands of life are flowing out and how little has been done in the years that are past." Nevertheless, the story of his second courtship and marriage is a beautiful idyll.

His one brief year of supreme happiness with Elizabeth Priestman and the tragedy of her death were six years away. His little Helen, the light of his life during all that time of mourning, was six years old. "One Ash" seemed lonely. Public duties and private business anxieties pressed hard on him. Then, in 1845,1 he met Margaret Elizabeth

____________________
1
On the eve of the triumph of the League ( Nov. 29, 1845) he wrote to Margaret Priestman: "On 6th day morning, before leaving Wakefield, I called on W. H. Leatham at the bank. He is not fully converted, but he said his mother had been, by reading my speech or speeches. . . . She has given her son £5 to send to the League, so I thought I ought to walk up and thank her, which I did. I took dinner with them, that is with Margaret Leatham and her daughter."

-82-

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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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