21 JANUARY 1865, Page 1


MR. BRIGHT made one of his most violent and also most ner- .111. vous and powerful speeches last Wednesday at Birmingham, the tone of which we have criticized elsewhere. He spoke first of the death and burial of the notion that England has any call to prevent unjust invasion on the Continent as a notion "which has left us, as the great result of the profligate expenditure which it has caused, a doubled peerage at one end of the social scale and a much more than doubled pauperism at the other." Mr. Bright then attacked the Devonshire Conservatives of Torquay,—whose climate, he re- marked, was somewhat "relaxing"—for their fear of democracy. He gave an odd reason why the five million non-electors should be entrusted with political power to swamp the present electoral classes. It is that all these men are allowed to marry, to keep house, and to rear children,—no doubt a useful moral discipline, but scarcely, we should think, a political qualification. He mis- represented Lord Grey's plan of lump-voting in constituencies which have three or more seats by applying it to the case of a constituency with only two seats, in which case alone it might give a minority as much representation as a majority, and even by chance bring in its candidate at the bead of the poll. Ile therefore thrust aside scornfully the minority principle, and ended by claiming for the non-electors " the right of admission through their representatives into the most ancient and venerable Parliament which at this hour exists among men, and when they are thus admitted, and not till then, it may be truly said that Eng- land, the august mother of free nations, herself is free." It was a grand speech, full of passionate and violent fallacy, confounding equal votes with equal representation, and equal representation with equal freedom. We took the trouble to analyze the speech yesterday into eighty distinct propositions, and condemned them all.