COBDEN AS AN AGITATOR
with words of condolence1). After a time he looked up and said, There are thousands of houses in England at this moment where wives, mothers, and children are dying of hunger. Now,' he said, 'when the first paroxysm of your grief is past, I would advise you to come with me, and we will never rest till the Corn Law is repealed.' I accepted his invitation. I knew that the description he had given of the homes of thousands was not an exaggerated description. I feit in my conscience that there was a work which somebody must do, and therefore I accepted his invitation, and from that time we never ceased to labour hard on behalf of the resolution which we had made."
"For seven years," Mr. Bright says, "the discussion on that one question — whether it was good for a man to have half a loaf or a whole loaf — for seven years the discussion was maintained, I will not say with doubtful result, for the result was never doubtful, and never could be in such a cause; but for five years or more (1841 — 1846) we devoted ourselves without stint; every working hour almost was given up to the discussion and to the movement in connexion with this question."
Cobden seemed to have few of the endowments of an agitator, as that character is ordinarily thought of. He had no striking physical gifts of the histrionic kind2). He had one physical quality which must be ranked first among the secondary
1. This and the preceding passages are from the very beautiful address delivered by Mr. Bright, when he unveiled the statue of his friend at Bradford, July 25,1877. The address is to be found in Mr. Thorold Rogers' volume of Public Addresses of John Bright, pp. 354—366.
2. histrionic: of actors or acting; behaviour that reminds one of the stage.