2 DECEMBER 1911, Page 30



Bin,—The recital in the Times (Nov. 16th) of John Bright's pathetic account of his interview, just after his first widow- hood, with Cobden recalls a somewhat similar incident. Early in 1886, after Home Rule had been declared the policy of the then Liberal Party, the Ulster Liberals held a representative meeting in Belfast, at which a resolution protesting against Home Rule was carried and a deputation appointed to proceed to London to present the Ulster case to the Liberal leaders. One of our most memorable interviews was with John Bright at the Alexandra Hotel, and it took place, as we understood, not very long after a family bereavement. He received us with the greatest sympathy and cordiality, and discussed the Irish question at great length. He told us Mr. Gladstone had shown him in advance the coming Home Rule Bill, and of course he could not hint at its provisions to us. He remarked how interesting it would be to live long enough to see the practical working out of the government of Ireland by a Dublin Parliament, as to which he entertained the most unfavourable prognosis. While he unsparingly denounced boycotting, cattle-maiming, and similar outrages, he appeared to have particularly in his mind the conduct at Westminster of the then Irish members, which, if reproduced in Dublin, would make Irish parliamentary procedure a travesty. He then went on to say that so thoroughly had he been disgusted with the constant breaches upon the Irish benches of all principles of Parliamentary decency and order, and so horrified had he become at the consequent degradation of Parlia- mentary life, that he had resolved not to seek re-election in the General Election of 1885. With this purpose in mind he told us he returned to his home at Rochdale. "But," be continued, with unforgettable pathos in his voice, " when I got there I found my house had been left to me desolate and my children' had gone out from it. There was therefore nothing for me to choose between but weary soli- tude or a return to public life, and I chose the latter." May I add that at the General Election of 1886, fought on Mr. Gladstone's first Home Rule Bill, John Bright, on the eve of the Birmingham poll, made one of the greatest anti-Home Rule speeches of the time? Being delivered practically at the beginning of the election, it was believed to have turned Unionist many constituencies in subsequent contests. I have no doubt John Bright's view of Ulster was very much that which was expressed to the same deputation a day or two previously by the late Earl Spencer, a strong Home Ruler, whose first words to us, after our introduction to him, were : "Gentlemen, if all Ireland were Ulster there would he no Irish