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