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POSITION OF COBDEN AND BRIGHT.
were perhaps not fully developed), from those had undertaken; in 1877 it was left to Russia
entitled to help him downwards to his doom.” In his attitude with regard to the relative We shall have again to refer to Mr. Gladclaims of Russia and Turkey he was, and he stone's view of the conditions which, if they continued to be, consistent, for we find him at did not necessitate, completely justified the a recent date comparing the conditions of the Crimean war, but it will be seen that he had Crimean war with those of the Russo-Turkish
no leanings towards Turkey, nor did he believe contest of 1877, and saying:
in its development into a healthy state. He "There was in each case an offender against could also sympathize with the deep and unthe law and peace of Europe; Turkey, by her alterable feelings which made both Mr. Cobdistinct and obstinate breach of covenant, den and Mr. Bright the conscientious oppotaking, on the latter occasion, the place which nents of a conflict which they believed to be enRussia had held in the earlier controversy. tirely mischievous. But he could not join them. The difference was that, in 1854–55, two great
It may be said, indeed, that these two men powers, with the partial support of a third,
at that time stood alone in England. They prosecuted by military means the work they were not in reality (although they were com
monly reported to be) identified with those opinion and raised the enthusiasm of the members of the peace party among the Society country, would no longer have responded to of Friends who fancied that they might be able their summons, even if they had ventured to to beg a peace of Nicholas of Russia, and whose call them. Yet they stood, as it were, side by efforts did much to make war ultimately more side, strong, dignified, and although they were certain by impressing the emperor with the sorrowful, not without the hope that sustains notion that it was not desired by the majority men who act on a deep and immovable prinof the English people. When in February, ciple, that the time will at last come when 1854, a deputation consisting of Mr. Sturge of that principle will be recognized and their Birmingham, Mr. Charlton of Bristol, and convictions and even their denunciations be Mr. Pease of Darlington, waited on the em- endorsed by the national verdict. Alike in peror at St. Petersburg to present an address aim, swayed by the same powerful impulses, expressing the sorrow which filled their hearts and using much the same arguments, they at the approaching conflict, he was ready each appealed in a different and characteristic enough to reply that he also abhorred war
Cobden was calm, logical, in a cerand was ready to forget the past and for- tain sense philosophical; Bright was logical, give Turkey if only she would discharge the scarcely what would be called philosophical, obligations imposed on her by treaties. Of and certainly not always calm. He was fervid, course it was on the interpretation which prone to the kind of oratorical intensity which Russia, as opposed to the other powers of when dealing with an object of aversion is apt Europe, placed upon those obligations that the to exaggerate its hateful qualities by admitting war was about to turn, and did turn. Cobden no extenuating circumstances. To him war, and Bright contended that the war upon or in other words physical force as an outcome which England had entered was wholly un- of moral force, was utterly repulsive, or at all necessary, as one with which she had no busi- events it is difficult to imagine that he would ness, and that even the treaty might have i have endorsed any modern war as being either reached a stage of interpretation reasonably necessary or excusable. It would be a curious acceptable if the country had not been mis- i metaphysical inquiry how far a man, religuided and had neither been hurried nor gious, thoughtful, humane, energetic, and with drifted into hostilities for which there was no a sincere and unswerving love of liberty, could justification even on the doubtful grounds of a demand the right of opposing moral force and probable future advantage either to this coun- of uttering strong protest and fierce denunciatry or to Europe in general. It would perhaps tion against evil and injustice, and yet deny have been impossible to give stronger proof that there are conditions where the only effecof an earnest conviction of the truth of their tual demonstration of moral opposition would opinions than by the firm attitude which they be physical antagonism. We need not enter maintained. They had been the recognized into so difficult a question. It may suffice to say leaders of a great and popular movement, they that Mr. Bright has been called, and not withhad achieved a high position and were re- out truth as regards his public addresses and garded as the chiefs of a large and influential appeals, the most belligerent advocate of party, and Cobden at all events had been peace that ever lived. It has probably been listened to with profound respect and admira- often said that it was a very good thing tion not only among large bodies of thoughtful that he obstinately held war to be almost politicians in England, but in other countries, always indefensible and unlawful, as otherwise where, in theory at least, his doctrines on his great ability might have gained him an commercial policy had been widely accepted. influential position in the government, and Now they saw the faces of these former his pugnacity in conjunction with that of friends and supporters averted. The public Lord Palmerston would have left us few meetings which had formerly been the prompt chances of maintaining peace. From their and effectual means by which they moved the point of view, however, the arguments of both
Colden and Bright were forcible and their This was, of course, before the death of the reasoning cogent, while it is to be noted that Duke of Wellington; and though his referthey were often far-reaching and embraced ence to the enormous rewards conferred on many other matters of advanced political sig- the great soldier may at first seem somewhat nificance which have since that date come to harsh, it was not intended to have a special the front not only in theoretical but in prac- personal application. In 1832, after the funetical politics. It need scarcely be said that ral of Wellington, he wrote to Mr. Sturge: Cobden had been an advocate of peace as a _“The death of the duke would, one thinks, necessary means of retrenchment and material tend to weaken the military party. But if and social progress before the topic became the spirit survive it will find its champions. concreted by the outbreak of the Crimean After all, if the country will do such work war. It was remarkable that that war, which as Wellington was called on to perform, I he thought, and justly thought, should empha- don't know that it could find a more honest size all these utterances, was the occasion of instrument. He hated jobs and spoke the the whole nation becoming deaf to his repre- truth (the very opposite of Marlborough), sentations, and even retorting upon him with and although he grew rich in the service it suspicion and with indignant accusations. was by the voluntary contributions of the par
Cobden at that time may be said to have liament and government. If he had been told retired to his new home at Dunford, near to help himself at the exchequer his modesty Midhurst, where he spent all his time (and and honesty would never have allowed him to he had little leisure) which was not occupied take as much as was forced upon him. I who in parliament, in attending nieetings, or in saw with what frenzy of admiration he was making journeys to advocate or explain those welcomed by all classes at the Exhibition can principles in which he was constantly inter- never honestly admit that, in what the legisested. His business had not been successful and lature and government had done for him, had therefore been closed, a considerable pro- they had exceeded the wishes of the nation.”l portion of the sum of money subscribed for him These few words are singularly suggestive, as a national testimonial having been devoted and naturally lead to a deeper consideration to the payment of outstanding claims. The of Cobden's political views than would be house which he had purchased with part of the occasioned by many a longer but more superremaining amount was no mansion nor was the ficial extract from his speeches. He also domain extensive. On one occasion, when ad- seems to have mellowed, and his views to dressing a meeting at Aylesbury on the rela- have become wider if not clearer, amidst the tions of landlord and tenant, he illustrated some rural pleasures and repose which he was able remark by referring to his own small property. | to enjoy at Dunford, before he was for a time A man in the crowd interrupted him by almost prostrated by a great domestic calashouting the inquiry how he had got his pro- mity—the sudden death of his eldest son, and perty. The answer was unhesitating and the painful condition to which the shock of simple enough:—“I am indebted for it to the that bereavement reduced Mrs. Cobden. It bounty of my countrymen. It was the scene of is worth while to pause for a moment to my birth and infancy; it was the property of my read his own description of the place which ancestors; and it is by the munificence of my he had made his home during the summer countrymen that this small estate, which had months, for it shows not only the gentle been alienated from my father by necessity, has nature of the man, but how simply and yet again come into my hands and enabled me to light up afresh the hearth of my father, where | The reader who would learn more fully the character I spent my own childhood. I say that no war
and opinions of the eminent free-trader and peace advo.
cate will best find them displayed in Mr. John Morley's rior-duke who owns a vast domain by the vote excellent work, The Life of Richard Cobden, where the of the imperial parliament holds his property by biography of the man is furnished no less by selections
from his speeches, letters, and conversation than by the a more honourable title than I possess mine.” careful comments which accompany them.