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when engaged in the absorbing business of parliament ?
At the period when Cunnington made his entry in the House, there were characters there from whom a young man could borrow much, and not be at all ashamed of the plagiarism. The subject principally discussed, too, was one in which Cunnington could participate, and at last hear with much interest.
Again Cunnington had the pleasure of greeting the Marquis of Sligo, who had recently returned from Jamaica, and again he admired the philanthropic motives which induced the marquis to advocate the freedom of the Negroes, knowing that none so well as the Governor of Jamaica knew how ungratefully that freedom was received, and how many rebellions had taken place.
The Marquis of Sligo, though not a brilliant speaker, contrived to be sufficiently
eloquent when declaring his hearty wish of seeing the probational term of apprenticeship done away with ; and how exquisitely bland was the smile which played on his countenance as he expressed his intention of giving complete liberty to his own slaves. From the Marquis of Sligo Cunnington learned integrity in politics.
The Tory duke, the great Wellington, the lord of fights, the giant of war, the lion of Waterloo, the favorite hero of England, Cunnington gazed at with unfeigned respect ; he felt that although he was no Tory, he could proudly admire the leading man of that party, and although the duke's high Toryism did not accord with his ideas, Wellington, the warrior, was Wellington the patriot! From the Duke of Wellington Cunnington learned the perseverance of a
politician. • Lord Melbourne and Lord Brougham
claimed much of Cunnington's attention, and the latter became the hero of Cunnington's thoughts. Perhaps it was his lordship's easy flow of wit which tended to effect this, for there is something infectious to youth in so hearty a speaker; nay, it does not seem a hardy thing to say, that Lord Brougham seems born to breathe the atmosphere of parliament. If he made the Tories smart, the Whigs could not conceive honeyed words towards themselves were hidden in the pill the Tories had to swallow, for Lord Brougham has ever been too independent to care for parties, even when he chose to allow himself to be called a Whig. For such a man, the Conservative seems a purposely chalked-out line, let Lord Brougham speak as a neutral, as a man, an individual, one who cares for circumstances, not for parties, it is then that he is in his glory.
At the time when Cunnington first entered the House Lord Brougham had not had his celebrated contest with Lord Glenelg, and Lord Melbourne had not had the scene with Lord Brougham, though perhaps the latter had made as many grave mistakes, as calling the “ mother of the queen” the “queen mother ;” nay, although he did not associate the Duchess of Kent with the “queen mother of terrible regency,” it seems that Lord Melbourne had an idea that during King William's reign some such comparison must have entered Lord Brougham's mind, or why was there something so worthy of contest in the learned lord's words?
Cunnington had not yet witnessed any particular political contest of interest, but he had already formed his own opinions ; and, as I before stated, Lord Brougham was the hero of his thoughts.
Although our hero yet felt as the mouse in the fable—although he scarcely thought himself worthy of nibbling the net which might be in the lion's path, still he looked on, and he felt his own bosom glow with fire as Lord Brougham, the lion of oratory, the king of independence, the free-thinking, party-defying nobleman spoke.
Cunnington admired too much, to sum up, what he learned from Lord Brougham ; perhaps total political independence and the courage of free-thinking were the essential points which he admired.
How hearty were Cunnington's cheers as he breathlessly listened to Lord Brougham's opinions on the Slavery Abolition ! If Lord Brougham had never been heard before, his fame as an orator would then have been stamped. Cunnington was actually riveted to the spot, and he felt that he could lash and be lashed—laugh, and be laughed at