Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 04.djvu/378

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
Bernal
Bernard
374

to the country was made in 1847, he had the honour of being elected for Middlesex, and his prominence in political life was shown by the fact that in August 1850 he presided at the banquet which was given at the Reform Club to Lord Palmerston. Though he was fiercely opposed by the protestant-evangelical party in the county of Middlesex at the dissolution in 1852, he was re-elected by a small majority. The post of surveyor-general of the ordnance had been rejected by him in December 1851, but on the formation of the Aberdeen ministry, a year later, he accepted the place of secretary of the admiralty, and continued in that position until the fall of the Palmerston ministry in 1858. In this position he had little opportunity for display, but immediately on his freedom from the trammels of office he resumed his old criticisms on his opponents with such ardour that Mr. Disraeli characterised his oratory as a ‘wild shriek of liberty.’ From 1857 to 1859 he represented Dover, and on his defeat in contesting that constituency in the latter year was out of parliament for a few months, until he was returned for Liskeard. His opposition to Lord Palmerston's fortifications scheme, and his criticism of the action of the ministry on the Danish question, gave offence to his Cornish constituents. This difference was smoothed over for a time, but widened in 1865, and on his learning that Sir Arthur Buller, then sitting for Devonport, had been elected by the liberal party at Liskeard as their candidate at the coming general election, he suddenly resigned his seat in pique only a week or two before the dissolution. In the spring of 1866 Bernal Osborne was engaged in a hotly contested election at Nottingham, when there was only a difference of 211 votes between the highest and the lowest of the four candidates, but he came out at the top of the poll. Two years later he was badly defeated in the same constituency, but the independent party in the borough defrayed his expenses by a subscription, and gave him a banquet in the Exchange Hall in December 1868. His parliamentary career was one constant change of constituency, and Mr. Disraeli once brought out a burst of laughter by stating in one of his speeches that Mr. Bernal Osborne had sat for so many places that he really forgot at the moment which of them his friend represented. His next experience was at Waterford, which he contested against Sir Henry Barron in November 1869, but was rejected by sixteen votes. The sitting member was unseated on petition, and by a majority of just half that number Bernal Osborne was returned amid a scene of popular fury which he subsequently described in the House of Commons. He was unsuccessful at the same city in 1874, and with that defeat his active political career ceased; for the future he devoted himself to the pleasures of social life. His wife died suddenly at his seat, Newtown Anner, near Clonmel, 21 June 1880. He himself died at Bestwood Lodge, the seat of the Duke of St. Albans, on 4 Jan. 1882, and was buried at Bestwood on 10 Jan. Their issue was two daughters. The elder sister married Henry Arthur Blake, now governor-general of the Bahamas; the younger married, 3 Jan. 1874, the Duke of St. Albans. Bernal Osborne was for many years one of the recognised wits of politics. His speeches at Westminster abounded in telling hits, and were eagerly welcomed by houses crowded with an audience impatient to hear him. On the hustings he was one of the most effective speakers of his age. Biographical and historical anecdotes he revelled in and freely used in his political addresses. His failure to reach those positions which his talents justified was due to his want of official industry and to the absence of that sobriety of judgment which is dear to the average Englishman. Many of his most popular sayings are preserved in the columns of the ‘Times,’ which chronicled his career. Notices of his life, based on Bagenal's life, appeared in ‘Temple Bar,’ September 1884, and the ‘Fortnightly Review,’ October 1884.

[Bagenal's Life of Ralph Bernal Osborne, M.P., 1884; Times, 5 and 11 Jan. 1882; Gent. Mag. 1844, pt. ii. 310, 538.]

W. P. C.


BERNARD. [See also Barnard.]


BERNARD (fl. 805), traveller in Palestine, called Sapiens, has hitherto been strangely treated in books of reference, having in some cases been made into two persons a century apart, while in other cases he has been confounded with one or two namesakes who lived in the twelfth century. This confusion is due in part to the singular literary dishonesty of Thomas Dempster, and in part to the carelessness of succeeding writers. None of the three persons whose histories have been thus intermixed can with certainty be affirmed to have belonged in any way to Great Britain; but the fact that ‘Bernardus Sapiens,’ under one date or another, has commonly been ranked among British worthies, affords some justification for attempting in this place to correct the erroneous statements that have been made with regard to him.

William of Malmesbury (Gest. Reg. ed. Hardy, ii. 562) quotes from a description of