Page:Modern Parliamentary Eloquence.djvu/38

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Modern Parliamentary Eloquence

parsons of the Oxford Diocese that he was "on the side of the angels." But in the House of Lords he always wore a frock coat buttoned across his chest, and a black tie. He indulged in little gesticulation, but at critical moments, when leading up to a phrase or a peroration, he would extract a handkerchief from his coat-tails and wave it with a slight flourish in the air. In those later days his once ambrosial locks had lost their curl: a single twist alone adorned his brow; his thinning hair was protected by the art of the dyer from the final ravages of time. As an Oxford undergraduate I attended his funeral at Hughenden. I recall the profound and unfavourable impression created by the absence of Mr. Gladstone, but this omission was more than rectified by the magnanimous tribute paid to his memory a few days later by his great survivor in the House of Commons.

I was a member of the Lower House for a short time with Mr. Bright, but I only once heard him speak, and that in a commonplace manner. That he was a great orator in the class of those who carefully prepare their choicest sentences and regard a speech as a work of art, is certain. In fact he was the most conspicuous violation of Mr. Balfour's canon which I have before quoted; for every one knew that his beautiful passages were learned in advance, and he made no secret of it himself; and yet, whether at a popular gathering or in the House, he was unquestionably one of the few of whom it might be said, in Mr. Gladstone's splendid phrase, that what he received from his audiences in vapour he poured back upon them in flood.

One of the secrets of Mr. Bright's eloquence was his unique command of happy and almost colloquial simile, the apposite stories that he told, and his ready wit. Nature had assisted him with a good presence, action simple and unaffected (his biographer says that he had no gesture beyond the raising of his hand), and a melodious voice.

But the real clue to his power lay in the personality and moral attributes of the man, and in the nature of the causes