Cobden's efforts in furtherance of free trade were always subordinated to what he deemed the highest moral purposes - the promotion of peace on earth and goodwill among men.
His only son died, to Cobden's inexpressible grief, at the age of fifteen, in 1856.
It becomes equivalent to economic laisser-faire and "Manchesterism," and as such it must fight its own corner with those who now take into consideration many national factors which had no place in the early utilitarian individualistic regime of Cobden's own day.
Cobden's speeches were collected and published in 1870.
In his pamphlet on "Insular Free Trade" the prime minister reviewed the economic history since Cobden's time, pointed to the falsification of the promises of the early free-traders, and to the fact that England was still the only free-importing country, and insisted that he was "in harmony with the true spirit of free-trade" when he pleaded for "freedom to negotiate that freedom of exchange may be increased."
He was already known in the country as Cobden's chief ally, and was received in the House of Commons with a suspicion and hostility even greater than had met Cobden himself.
Cobden's argumentative speeches were regarded more sympathetically than Bright's more rhetorical appeals, and in a debate on Villiers's annual motion against the Corn Laws Bright was heard with so much impatience that he was obliged to sit down.
He supported Cobden's motion for the reduction of public expenditure, and in and out of parliament pleaded for peace.