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Sketches in Parliament

The Illustrated London News, vol. 44, no. 1258, p. 506.

May 21, 1864


...There was a great House gathered then, particularly on the Opposition side, because Mr. Thomas Baring, who is the Emperor of the Barings, was formally to indict those favouritising speculators in ships and guns who have enabled the Confederate States of America to capture and destroy so many of those little comforts, including munitions of war, which strictly neutral British merchants, of whom the house of Baring had, however, never heard, were daily sending in vast quantities to the Federals. In general, Mr. Thomas Baring is an impressive speaker. He rarely addresses the House, and then only in a few energetic, well-poised sentences, which come with effect from one possessing a fine rich voice; but on this occasion he had undertaken to state and to argue a case, probably, if not certainly, with some foregone conclusions in his mind which were not calculated to render him facile of ratiocination or ready of utterance; and so he rather rumbled and stumbled on, and one seemed to hear nothing but the rich voice. He laboured at his case also too long; there were half a dozen points at which he might have left off with effect; but he did not, and somehow there was a feeling that there was a break-down somewhere, and the way was well cleared for the masterly and most singularly judicious speech of the Attorney-General. In this instance Sir Roundell Palmer exhausted all the skill of an advocate, for he managed so as not to seem--and, indeed, not to be--an advocate at all, as he stated each side of the case so fairly, admitted where admissions were required so fully, and held fast so steadily to opinions which he felt, and which he caused his audience to feel to be sound, that no one had in reality a word to say; and practically the debate lapsed then, for the efforts which were made to prolong it were comparatively brief; and, though Mr. W. E. Forster's speech was one full of matter, it could not stir up an adversary after Sir Hugh Cairns had declined to tempt the combat with his great professional and Parliamentary rival. It will thus be seen that the House had been got exactly into the vein which made the count out of Morritt on the malt tax inevitable.

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