WHAT THE LORDS AND COMMONS SAID ABOUT THE MURDER.
Too Long; Didn't ReadWhen the House met on that Thursday at four o'clock everybody was talking about the murder, and certainly four-fifths of the members had made up their minds that Phineas Finn was the murderer. To have known a murdered man is something, but to have been intimate with a murderer is certainly much more. There were many there who were really sorry for poor Bonteen,—of whom without a doubt the end had come in a very horrible manner; and there were more there who were personally fond of Phineas Finn,—to whom the future of the young member was very sad, and the fact that he should have become a murderer very awful. But, nevertheless, the occasion was not without its consolations. The business of the House is not always exciting, or even interesting. On this afternoon there was not a member who did not feel that something had occurred which added an interest to Parliamentary life.
Very soon after prayers Mr. Gresham entered the House, and men who had hitherto been behaving themselves after a most unparliamentary fashion, standing about in knots, talking by no means in whispers, moving in and out of the House rapidly, all crowded into their places. Whatever pretence of business had been going on was stopped in a moment, and Mr. Gresham rose to make his statement. "It was with the deepest regret,—nay, with the most profound sorrow,—that he was called upon to inform the House that his right honourable friend and colleague, Mr. Bonteen, had been basely and cruelly murdered during the past night." It was odd then to see how the name of the man, who, while he was alive and a member of that House, could not have been pronounced in that assembly without disorder, struck the members almost with dismay. "Yes, his friend Mr. Bonteen, who had so lately filled the office of President of the Board of Trade, and whose loss the country and that House could so ill bear, had been beaten to death in one of the streets of the metropolis by the arm of a dastardly ruffian during the silent watches of the night." Then Mr. Gresham paused, and every one expected that some further statement would be made. "He did not know that he had any further communication to make on the subject. Some little time must elapse before he could fill the office. As for adequately supplying the loss, that would be impossible. Mr. Bonteen's services to the country, especially in reference to decimal coinage, were too well known to the House to allow of his holding out any such hope." Then he sat down without having as yet made an allusion to Phineas Finn.