The Diaries of John Bright

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

CHAPTER X MEMBER FOR BIRMINGHAM

1

BETWEEN his return from the Continent in the summer of 1857 and the opening of the Parliamentary session of 1859, Bright fell out of the habit of regular entries in his diaries. In the lassitude left by his long illness, events of deep interest to him and of the first importance to the world passed with little or no notice. When he did begin again the daily record of his movements and reflections he prefaced it with the words, "Too idle to keep up my notes since last session."

This was unjustly severe upon himself. Only bodily weakness could have kept Bright silent in those momentous days; and the fact is that he made no speech, either in Parliament or in the country, until the end of October, when he addressed for the first time the Birmingham constituents who had elected him a year before.

The hiatus, unfortunately, leaves us without note of any kind on the Indian Mutiny period. His deep study of the Indian problem and his overpowering interest in it would have given a singular value to his comments and judgments. But he made only one public allusion to the Mutiny while the tragedy worked itself out during all those agonizing months from Cawnpore to the fall of Delhi. It was contained in his telegram to the Birmingham Election Committee, replying to a question about his attitude towards the military measures then in force:

The success of the Indian Revolt would lead to anarchy in India, and I conceive it that it is mercy to India to suppress it. I should insist on an improved Government for India for the future.

How he did so insist, and with what vision he laid down the lines of practicable reform in India can be seen in the four great speeches he delivered during the next two years.

His election for Birmingham signalled the opening of a new epoch in Bright's political life no less laborious and no less fruitful than the

-231-

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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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