Gladstone, William Ewart 1809-1898, statesman and author, born on 29 Dec. 1809, at 62 Rodney Street, Liverpool, was fourth son of (Sir) John Gladstone [qv.], by his second wife Anne, daughter of Andrew Robertson of Stornoway. As he said, when he became member for Midlothian in later life, he had no drop of blood in his veins which was not Scottish. He was educated at Seaforth vicarage (four miles from Liverpool), at Eton, and at Oxford. His tutor at Seaforth was the Rev. William Rawson, the incumbent. His father was then living at Seaforth House. He went to Eton at the age of eleven, after the summer holidays of 1821, and boarded at a dame's (Mrs. Schurey's); Dr. Keate was then head-master. His tutor was the Rev. Henry Hartopp Knapp. He became fag to his eldest brother Thomas (afterwards Sir Thomas Gladstone of Fasque).
The range of studies at Eton was then almost confined to the Greek and Latin languages. Gladstone was accustomed to say in later years that, limited as the teaching was, its accuracy was simply splendid. He was an industrious boy, and was distinguished for his high moral and religious character. His most intimate friend at Eton was Arthur Hallam [see under Hallam, Henry]. Of Gladstone's other contemporaries the most famous were Sir George Cornewall Lewis [qv.] and Charles John (afterwards Earl) Canning [qv.]. Gladstone played cricket and football, but his favourite recreation was boating. He kept a lock-up or private boat, and was, as he continued to be through life, a great walker. He made no particular mark in the school, though the few who knew him well always believed that he would rise to eminence.
In one respect Gladstone and his cleverest contemporaries at Eton were premature men. They were ardent politicians, studying parliamentary debates, writing about them to each other in the holidays, and even keeping such division lists as they could get hold of. Gladstone began early to use both his tongue and his pen. He spoke frequently in Pop, the school debating society, where current politics were forbidden, although historical subjects and abstract questions afforded ample scope for eloquence. Gladstone's first speech was delivered on 15 Oct. 1825, when he supported the modest proposition that education was on the whole good for the poor. He edited the Eton Miscellany, which lasted from June to December 1827. After George Canning's death in August 1827, Gladstone wrote a fervent eulogy of him there, the first of his many tributes to that statesman. Gladstone, as he told the House of Commons in 1866, was brought up under the shadow of the great name of Mr. Canning. His father had induced Canning to stand for Liverpool in 1812, and the crowd at that election was the first thing Gladstone could remember. When he went from Eton to Oxford he was a Canningite in politics, and a Canningite in foreign politics he always remained.
Gladstone left Eton at Christmas 1827, and read for six months with a private tutor, Mr. Turner (afterwards Bishop Turner of Calcutta). In October 1828 he went into residence at Christ Church, Oxford, of which he was nominated a student in 1829. Dr. Samuel Smith and afterwards Dr. Gaisford were deans in his undergraduate days. Among his fellow-students were Charles Canning, Lord Lincoln (afterwards fifth duke of Newcastle), Henry George Liddell (afterwards Dean), Sir Francis Doyle, and Sir Thomas Acland [qv.]. For the greater part of his time Gladstone kept in Peckwater near Canterbury Gate. He read hard, was abstemious in the use of wine, and maintained in every respect the high character he had gained at Eton. His college tutor was the Rev. Robert Brisco; but he read classics privately with Charles Wordsworth [qv.]. His only exercise was walking. At Oxford, as well as through life, he was extremely and, as men of the world thought, ostentatiously religious. He founded an essay society which was called after him the W. E. G. He was secretary and then president of the Oxford Union in Michaelmas term 1830. Like a good Canningite he defended catholic emancipation but denounced the reform bill. His speech against the bill excited the most enthusiastic admiration, and led Charles Wordsworth to predict with confidence that he would be prime minister. It obtained notoriety many years afterwards, when Disraeli quoted it in the debate on the second reading of the reform bill of 1866. Along with Charles Wordsworth and Lord Lincoln, Gladstone promoted a petition to the House of Commons against parliamentary reform, which was signed by more than seven hundred undergraduates. In December 1831 Gladstone took a double first in classics and mathematics.
In 1832 Gladstone spent six months in Italy, and acquired a familiarity with the Italian language which he never lost. He had some thoughts of taking holy orders (Russell, p. 24). But his father was bent upon making him a statesman, and had interest with Sir Robert Peel. Sir John Gladstone was not a man to be trifled with, and, in December 1832, his brilliant son was returned to the first reformed parliament as one of the members for Newark. Newark was a nomination borough which the Reform Act had spared, and the patron was the Duke of Newcastle, father of Gladstone's friend, Lord Lincoln. Gladstone was elected at the head of the poll, and the whig candidate, Thomas Wilde [qv.] (afterwards Lord-chancellor Truro), was defeated. Except for the great session of 1846, when he was a secretary of state without a seat in parliament, and the first session of 1847, Gladstone sat continuously in the House of Commons from 1833 till his final retirement from parliament in 1895.
On 25 Jan. 1833 Gladstone was admitted a student of Lincoln's Inn; but, like Disraeli, who went through the same process, he was not called to the bar. On 6 March he was elected a member of the Carlton Club, from which he did not withdraw till March 1860, after he had definitely joined the liberal party and become chancellor of the exchequer in the second administration of Lord Palmerston. Except for a few sentences on a Liverpool petition (21 Feb.), which were most imperfectly reported, Gladstone's maiden speech was delivered on 3 June 1833. It was a defence of his father, who had a plantation in Demerara, where, according to Lord Howick (afterwards third earl Grey), there was undue mortality among the slaves. This Gladstone strenuously denied, declaring that his father's slaves were happy, healthy, and contented. He favoured gradual emancipation, with full compensation to the owners. This speech was remembered, and used against Gladstone when, in 1862, he expressed sympathy with Jefferson Davis and the south. But he never supported the principle of slavery. The speech made a favourable impression upon both sides of the house, and received a compliment from Mr. Stanley (afterwards Lord Stanley and fourteenth earl of Derby). A previous speech on the same subject (17 May), which has been erroneously attributed to Gladstone, was really made by his brother Thomas, then member for Portarlington (Robbins, p. 170).
Gladstone's speech on the Irish church temporalities bill (8 July 1833) is interesting, both as the first which he made on Ireland and as the beginning of his connection with the subject of ecclesiastical establishment. He denounced the appropriation clause, which diverted part of the revenues of the Irish church to secular purposes. The appropriation clause was withdrawn, and the bill thus lightened or weakened passed the House of Lords.
When, on William IV's dismissal of Melbourne, Peel was gazetted (29 Dec. 1834) first lord of the treasury and chancellor of the exchequer, Gladstone was included in the same commission as junior lord. He had refused to be under-secretary for war and the colonies because of his father's connection with the West Indies. Parliament was at once dissolved, and in his address to the electors of Newark Gladstone condemned the late whig ministers for rash, violent, and indefinite innovation, and for having promised to act on the principles of radicalism. He especially denounced the ballot, which, thirty-eight years later, he carried into law. He defended the king's dismissal of Melbourne, for which Peel had become constitutionally responsible, but which he himself deprecated when, in 1875, he reviewed Sir Theodore Martin's Life of the Prince Consort. Gladstone was re-elected for Newark without opposition, his colleague being Serjeant Wilde. In the new parliament, which did not meet till February 1835, the conservatives were in a minority of 107. On 17 Jan. 1835 Gladstone for the first time met Disraeli, at a dinner given by Lord-chancellor Lyndhurst. In the same month the post of under-secretary for war and the colonies was again offered to Gladstone, who this time accepted it. The secretary of state was Lord Aberdeen, and this was Gladstone's first introduction to a statesman whom he thenceforth regarded with the highest reverence and esteem (cf. Lord Stanmore, Life of Lord Aberdeen). Of Gladstone, as under-secretary for the colonies, two judgments delivered within the office are recorded. Sir Henry Taylor wrote: I rather like Gladstone, but he is said to have more of the devil in him than appears—in a virtuous way, that is—only self-willed. Sir James Stephen, on the other hand, pronounced that for success in political life he wanted pugnacity. His tenure of the under-secretaryship was, however, cut short by the resignation of Peel's government on 8 April.
At this time Gladstone lived in chambers in the Albany. He then began the practice of giving breakfast parties, which he continued when he was prime minister. He went a good deal into society, especially to musical parties, where he often sang; and he rode regularly in the park. But he was a born student, and the amount of reading which he accomplished in those days was prodigious. Homer and Dante were his favourite authors, but it is recorded that at this period he read the whole of St. Augustine's works in twenty-two volumes octavo (Russell, p. 48).
At the dissolution of 1837, consequent upon the death of William IV, Gladstone and Wilde were again returned for Newark without a contest. Gladstone had declined to stand for Manchester, but the Manchester tories persisted in nominating him, and he was placed at the bottom of the poll. In December 1838 appeared Gladstone's once famous book, The State in its Relations with the Church (1838; 2nd ed. 1839; 4th ed. enlarged, 2 vols. 1841). He was assisted in writing it by his friend, James Hope (afterwards Hope-Scott) [qv.]. The book is now chiefly known through the essay which Macaulay wrote upon it in the Edinburgh Review. It was suggested by a series of lectures delivered by Dr. Chalmers in the Hanover Square Rooms. Gladstone affirms that the state has a conscience, that that conscience must be a religious one, and that it is impossible for the state, as for the individual, to have more than one religion. This is in fact a plea for a theocracy, for the exact opposite of Erastianism, for the subordination of the state to the church. On 10 April 1839 Gladstone wrote to Macaulay to thank him for the candour and single-mindedness of his review. Macaulay sent a cordial acknowledgment. Sir James Stephen described the book as one of great dignity, majesty, and strength. But Wordsworth said that he could not distinguish its principles from Romanism; and Sir Robert Peel, who detested the Oxford movement, is said by Lord Houghton (Reid, Life, p. 316) to have exclaimed, as he turned over the pages, That young man will ruin his fine political career if he persists in writing trash like this. The author obtained no real support from any quarter, and within ten years he himself perceived that his position, though it might be ideal, was untenable. As Gladstone says in his chapter of autobiography, written thirty years afterwards, his views were, even in 1838, hopelessly belated. The historical interest of the book is that its doctrines were inconsistent with the parliamentary grant to Maynooth College for training Roman catholic priests in Ireland.
In 1840 Gladstone published a second book, called ‘Church Principles considered in their Results.’ This is an ecclesiastical treatise, stating the views of a strong high churchman on the apostolical succession, the authority of the church in matters of faith, and the nature of the Sacrament. It had a very small circulation, and is chiefly interesting as a curious example of the way in which an active young member of parliament employed his leisure. On 20 June, when Lord John Russell proposed an increase of the meagre grant then made by the state for education, raising it from 26,300l. to 30,000l., Gladstone delivered an elaborate speech on a subject which he pronounced to be connected with the deep and abstruse principles of religion. He condemned the ministerial plan because it recognised the equality of all religions, arguing that it led to latitudinarianism and atheism. His own opinion was in favour of denominational teaching, and this opinion it may be doubted whether he ever changed.
On 25 July 1839 Gladstone was married at Hawarden to Catherine, elder daughter of Sir Stephen Glynne, and sister of Sir Stephen Richard Glynne [q.v.]. On the same day and at the same place Sir Stephen's younger daughter, Mary, was married to George William, fourth baron Lyttelton [q.v.]; and it was in memory of this occasion that Gladstone and Lyttelton, more than twenty years afterwards (1863), published a joint volume of poetical translations. In April 1840 they examined together at Eton for the Newcastle scholarship, which had been lately founded at Eton by Gladstone's political patron, the Duke of Newcastle.
In the summer of 1840 Gladstone took part with James Hope and Dean Ramsay in founding Trinity College, Glenalmond [see Wordsworth, Charles]. On 27 April 1841 he helped to establish the Colonial Bishoprics Fund. Gladstone, who was always one of its treasurers, spoke at the jubilee meeting on 29 May 1891.
In the session of 1840 Gladstone took a prominent part in opposition to the first opium war with China. In doing so he separated himself from many members of his party; to the policy he then avowed he always adhered. He denounced in the strongest language what he called the infamous contraband traffic in opium, and he asserted the right of the Chinese government to resist the importation of the drug by force. He drew upon himself serious obloquy by the use of words which were held to imply a justification of the Chinese for poisoning the wells. He explained that he had not made himself responsible for the charge of well-poisoning, but had merely referred to it as the allegation of the government. But the whigs did not let the matter drop, and Palmerston in particular stigmatised him as defending a barbarous method of warfare.
On 22 June 1841, after the defeat of Melbourne's government, parliament was dissolved. In his address to the electors of Newark Gladstone said: ‘I regard the protection of native agriculture as an object of the first national and economical importance.’ He accordingly favoured a graduated scale of duties upon foreign corn. He was returned with Lord John Manners (afterwards duke of Rutland). On 20 Aug. Melbourne was defeated in the House of Commons by a majority of ninety-one, and finally retired from office. Gladstone used to say that there was no man he more regretted not to have known than Lord Melbourne.
Peel succeeded Melbourne as prime minister on 31 Aug. 1841, and Gladstone became vice-president of the board of trade and master of the mint. He was sworn of the privy council, but not admitted to the cabinet. He was disappointed with his office, for he had no practical knowledge of commerce, and he had hoped to be chief secretary for Ireland. But it was the making of his career. Peel at once set himself to reform the tariff, and Gladstone was his chief assistant in the task. The president of the board was Frederick John Robinson, first earl of Ripon [q.v.]; but Gladstone soon mastered the business and became the real head of the department. Peel's second and great administration was, in Gladstone's opinion, a model one. Peel, who superintended every department of the ministry, himself introduced as first lord of the treasury two great budgets. In 1842 he met a deficit of two millions and three quarters by an income tax¾hitherto only levied in time of war¾at sevenpence in the pound for three years on all incomes exceeding 150l. The rest of the money thus raised he devoted to abolishing or reducing the duties on no less than 750 imported articles. This rearrangement of customs called forth all Gladstone's financial aptitude. The labour of preparing the new tariff was enormous, and it fell almost entirely upon Gladstone's shoulders. He was in charge of the customs bill, and in the course of the session spoke 129 times. The main principles of this great financial reform were that there should be no prohibition of any foreign goods; that the duties on raw materials of manufacture should be nominal, and that where the process of manufacture was not on importation complete, they should be as small as possible. No work of Gladstone's life, except perhaps the settlement of the succession duty in 1853, was more arduous than this, and for a time it impaired his eyesight. The budget also comprised a very considerable reduction of the duties on foreign corn, although the principle of protection, and even the method of the sliding scale, were retained. Lord John Russell moved an amendment in favour of a fixed duty, but was defeated by a majority of 123.
Throughout 1842 industrial distress was acute, and at the opening of the session in 1843 Lord Howick moved for a committee to inquire into the causes of it. He attacked Peel's new settlement of the corn laws as inadequate. Gladstone in reply stated that the government were not prepared to abandon the principle of the corn law while protection was applied to other articles of commerce. When Charles Pelham Villiers, on 16 May, moved that the corn laws should be repealed, Gladstone confined himself to the plea that it was too soon to alter the elaborate provisions of the year before. On 11 May Lord Fitzgerald, president of the board of control, died, and was succeeded by Lord Ripon. On 19 May 1843 Gladstone assumed Ripon's office of president of the board of trade, and took his seat in the cabinet for the first time. On 13 June Lord John Russell again moved to substitute a fixed duty for the sliding scale. This time Gladstone energetically protested against the unsettling effect of these constant proposals for change, and Lord John's motion was defeated by a majority of ninety-nine.
The government was steadily going in the direction of free trade. Before the end of the session Gladstone took another step towards it by carrying a bill to remove the restrictions which had hitherto impeded the export of machinery. In 1844, as president of the board of trade, he introduced and carried the first general railway bill, which was a measure of great importance. It provided what were known as parliamentary trains for the accommodation of the poorer classes. The fares charged for third-class passengers by these trains were not to exceed a penny a mile, the trains were to stop at every station, and the speed was not to be less than twelve miles an hour.
On 28 Jan. 1845, a few days before the meeting of parliament, Gladstone resigned office on the ground that the government proposed to increase from 9,000l. to 39,000l. a year the grant to Maynooth College in Ireland for the education of Roman catholic priests; to make the grant permanent instead of annual; and to make the board of works in Ireland liable for the execution of repairs in the college. Gladstone felt that this policy was inconsistent with the principles of his book on ‘Church and State,’ because it recognised the right and duty of the government to support more religions than one. Most politicians regarded his reasons for resignation as inadequate, and Peel did all he could to keep him at the board of trade; but Gladstone was not to be moved, believing that his public character was at stake. Having resigned, however, he felt himself at liberty to support Peel's proposal, arguing that, as grants were made by parliament for other religious purposes not connected with the church of England, it was unjust to exclude the church of the majority in Ireland. The grant to Maynooth was part of Peel's general scheme for improving university education in Ireland. He also proposed the foundation of unsectarian institutions, which Sir Robert Inglis called the ‘godless colleges.’ These also Gladstone defended, on the grounds of justice to Ireland and the interests of higher education. Before he resigned Gladstone had prepared another tariff, still further reducing the number of taxable articles imported from abroad. After his resignation he employed his leisure in writing a very important pamphlet, which he called ‘Remarks upon recent Commercial Legislation’ (London, 1845, 8vo; 3rd edit. same year). This tract is in truth a free-trade manifesto and is historically connected with the great change of the succeeding year. Gladstone argues that it should be the first duty of a sound financier to encourage the growth of commerce by removing all burdens from the materials of industry. In the winter of this year (1845) Gladstone, while out shooting, injured the first finger of his left hand so seriously that it had to be amputated.
In December 1845 Peel decided upon the total and immediate repeal of the corn laws. His colleague, Lord Stanley, withdrew from the government on learning this decision. Peel thereupon resigned; but Lord John Russell, who was now wholly committed to free trade, was unable to form a government, and Peel resumed office on 20 Dec. At the same time Gladstone succeeded Lord Stanley as secretary of state for the colonies. His appointment vacated his seat for Newark, but he did not offer himself for re-election. The Duke of Newcastle was a staunch protectionist, and the electors of Newark were known to be of the same opinion as the duke. Throughout the famous and stirring session of 1846 Gladstone was a secretary of state and a cabinet minister without a seat in parliament. He did not re-enter the House of Commons till after the general election of 1847. On 25 June 1846 the bill for the repeal of the corn laws was read a third time in the House of Lords and passed. On the same night the second reading of the Irish coercion bill was rejected in the House of Commons by an alliance of whigs, radicals, and protectionists. Sir Robert Peel resigned, and Lord John Russell became prime minister. Gladstone retired with his chief. Thenceforth Peel's followers, of whom Gladstone was one, called themselves, and were called, Peelites; but they were not, in the proper sense of the term, a party. They were a group of able and high-minded men united in devotion to Peel, but agreeing only, or chiefly, in hostility to protection.
On 23 July 1847 parliament was dissolved, and Gladstone was brought forward as a candidate for the university of Oxford. His opponent was Charles Grey Round, an extreme tory and protestant. Gladstone's address was mainly a defence of his vote for Maynooth. Sir Robert Inglis, an opponent of the grant, who had sat for the university since he defeated Peel in 1829, was returned at the head of the poll with 1,700 votes. Gladstone came second with 997, and Round, the defeated candidate, polled 824. The whigs obtained a majority and remained in office. One of Gladstone's first acts in the new parliament was to support Lord John Russell's resolution that the prime minister's colleague in the representation of London, Baron Rothschild, who, though not legally ineligible, was unable, as a Jew, to take the parliamentary oath ‘on the true faith of a Christian,’ might omit these words. Alluding to a previous vote which he had given against the admission of Jews to municipal office, Gladstone repeated his previous argument that if they were admitted to corporations, as they had since been, it was illogical to exclude them from parliament [see Rothschild, Lionel Nathan]. In 1848, on the eve of the chartist rising, Gladstone was sworn in a special constable. The most memorable debate of the parliament (of 1847-52) began on 24 June 1850. It was memorable not only for the brilliancy of the speeches delivered in it, of which not the least brilliant was Gladstone's, but also for the fact that it was the last in which Peel took part before his fatal accident of 29 June. The subject was Lord Palmerston's quarrel with the Greek government, who had failed to protect Don Pacifico [q.v.] from the violence of an Athenian mob. Lord Palmerston defended himself in a speech five hours long, in which he employed the celebrated phrase ‘Civis Romanus sum.’ Gladstone, taking a less popular line, pointed out the dangers of Palmerston's policy, and defined a Roman citizen as ‘the member of a privileged class,’ enjoying, by the exercise of force, rights denied to the rest of the world. Roebuck's motion of confidence in the government was, however, carried by a majority of forty-six.
Peel died on 2 July 1850. Next day Gladstone seconded the proposal to adjourn the House of Commons as a mark of respect, in a brief speech, full of deep feeling, in which he quoted the noble lines from ‘Marmion’ on the death of Pitt. Peel, he said, at the close of his own life, was upon the whole the greatest man he ever knew. After Peel's death he called no one master; but the statesman to whom he most attached himself was Lord Aberdeen. The death of their chief did not dissolve the Peelites, who continued to act and vote together on most questions, if not on all, until they coalesced with the whigs in Lord Aberdeen's administration.
The winter of 1850-1 was spent by Gladstone at Naples, and momentous consequences followed. He discovered that Ferdinand II, king of the Two Sicilies, had not only dissolved the constitution, but had confined some twenty thousand persons as political prisoners. Nearly the whole of the late opposition, and an actual majority of the late chamber, were in gaol. One statesman in particular, Poerio, was seen by Gladstone himself, chained to a murderer, and suffering terrible privations, although, as Gladstone said, his character stood as high as that of Lord John Russell or Lord Lansdowne. Moved by these discoveries, Gladstone addressed a very eloquent and extremely indignant letter to Lord Aberdeen, in which he told the story of King Ferdinand's cruelty and atrocities from the beginning. He had not selected the most sympathetic correspondent, for Lord Aberdeen, in his foreign policy, had more in common with Metternich than with Cavour. The letter was dated 7 April 1851, but it did not actually appear till July. The delay was due to Lord Aberdeen, who earnestly entreated Gladstone to abstain from publication on the ground that it would render more difficult the task of procuring release for these Italian patriots. Lord Aberdeen's good faith cannot be doubted, and even his judgment should not be lightly impugned; but Gladstone's moral indignation was not to be restrained, and the letter was published. It was followed by two others, in the second of which Gladstone replied exhaustively and conclusively to the official defence put forward by the Neapolitan government; they went through eleven editions in 1851, reached a fourteenth edition in 1859, and were translated into French and Italian. Lord Palmerston, who on this point, and perhaps on this point only, entirely agreed with Gladstone, sent a copy of the first letter to the British representative at every court in Europe. Gladstone's letters undoubtedly contributed to the ultimate independence and union of Italy. But Lord Aberdeen was so far justified that they did not immediately procure the liberation of the captives, and it was Lord Derby's government who obtained the freedom of Poerio in 1852. At this time Gladstone took the trouble to translate the whole of Farini's ‘Roman State from 1815 to 1850’ (London, 4 vols. 1851-4).
Gladstone returned home towards the end of February 1851, in the middle of a political crisis. On 20 Feb. Locke King's proposal to reduce the county franchise to 10l., at which it stood in boroughs, was carried against the ministry by a majority of nearly two to one. Lord John Russell thereupon resigned. Lord Stanley, for whom the queen sent, declined to take office until Lord John had attempted a conjunction with the Peelites. The Peelites refused to join him because they disapproved of the ecclesiastical titles bill, which Lord John had already introduced. Lord Stanley then tried to obey the queen's commands, and approached Gladstone and Lord Canning, another Peelite. They, however, would not serve under a protectionist, and Lord Stanley gave up the task in despair. Lord John returned to Downing Street on 3 March, and proceeded with the ecclesiastical titles bill in a modified form. On 14 March Gladstone made a powerful speech against the bill, urging that it was a violation of religious freedom, and that the act of the pope, being purely spiritual, was one with which parliament had no concern. Public opinion, however, was strongly the other way, and the second reading was carried by 438 votes against 95. The bill, strengthened in committee by tory amendments, passed both houses and became law. But it was disregarded, and, twenty years afterwards, it was repealed at the instance of Gladstone himself (Russell, p. 113).
On 20 Feb. 1852 Lord John was again defeated, and this time Lord Stanley, who had become Lord Derby, succeeded in forming a conservative administration without recourse either to whigs or to Peelites. Disraeli became chancellor of the exchequer and leader of the House of Commons. At the end of the session, in July, parliament was dissolved. The result of the general election was the return of 315 liberals (counting the Irish), 299 conservatives, and forty Peelites. Gladstone was re-elected for Oxford, though he was opposed by Dr. Marsham, warden of Merton. The conservative cabinet was saved from the defeat with which it was threatened on Villiers's free trade-resolutions by Palmerston's intervention with a colourless amendment. Gladstone strongly supported the amendment (which was carried by a majority of eighty), on the ground that it was in accordance with the well-known magnanimity of Sir Robert Peel, and that it would give protection decent burial. Disraeli's first budget was, however, unfortunate. He proposed to relieve the agricultural depression by taking off half the duty on malt, and, to supply the deficiency, by doubling the duty on inhabited houses. Disraeli's speech at the close of the debate proved the beginning of the long oratorical duel between him and Gladstone that only ended in Disraeli's removal to the House of Lords, nearly a quarter of a century later. Gladstone replied for the opposition. The bulk of his argument was entirely financial, and he condemned the budget because, as he said, it ‘consecrated the principle of a deficiency.’ He proved that the small surplus for which the chancellor of the exchequer estimated was not a real one, and that therefore his whole scheme was without solid foundation. On a division, which was taken in the early morning of 17 Dec. 1852, the government were left in a minority of nineteen. The same day Lord Derby resigned.
‘England,’ Disraeli had said in his speech, ‘does not love coalitions.’ She was now to try one. Lord Aberdeen became prime minister, and constructed a mixed cabinet of whigs and Peelites, with one radical, Sir William Molesworth [q.v.]. Gladstone became chancellor of the exchequer. His acceptance of office of course vacated his seat, and there was a fierce contest at Oxford, which lasted for fifteen days. Gladstone had excited the animosity of a clerical faction, led by Archdeacon Denison [q.v.], who, five years before, had been one of his strongest supporters. Their candidate was Dudley Perceval, son of the murdered prime minister, and Gladstone's majority was considerably reduced. At the close of the poll the numbers were¾for Gladstone, 1,034; for Perceval, 885.
On 18 April 1853 Gladstone introduced his first, and in some respects his greatest, budget. But before he did so he had provided in a separate measure for reducing the national debt by eleven millions and a half every year. This memorable budget was universally admitted to be a masterpiece of financial genius, worthy of Peel or Pitt. In introducing it Gladstone spoke for five hours, and for felicity of phrase, lucidity of arrangement, historical interest, and logical cogency of argument, his statement has never been surpassed. The leading principles of his budget were the progressive reduction of the income tax, and the extension of the legacy duty, under the name of succession duty, to real property. It was estimated to produce an annual sum of 2,000,000l. The income tax was to remain at sevenpence in the pound from April 1853 to April 1855. From April 1855 to April 1857 it was to stand at sixpence; from April 1857 to April 1860 it was to be fivepence, after which it was to be entirely extinguished. It was extended to incomes between 100l. and 150l., but on them it was at once to be calculated at fivepence in the pound. It was also, for the first time, to be imposed in Ireland. On the other hand, and as a set-off, the debt incurred by Ireland at the time of the great famine, six years before, was wiped out. But Ireland was a loser by the transaction; for while the interest on the debt was 245,000l., the Irish income tax brought in about twice as much. Gladstone's triumph was so complete that no effective resistance could be offered to his main proposals in the House of Commons. Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton (afterwards Lord Lytton) divided the committee against the continuance of the income tax, but he was beaten by a majority of seventy-one. Among the other provisions of this budget it repealed the soap tax, reduced the tea duty by gradual stages to a shilling in the pound, and took off the tax on more than a hundred minor articles of food. As originally framed, it lowered the advertisement duty, which had been a heavy burden on newspapers, and a great check to their multiplication, from eighteenpence to sixpence. But in the month of July, mainly at the instance of Thomas Milner-Gibson [q.v.], the duty was abolished altogether, in spite of opposition from the government, by 70 votes against 61.
This budget promised to be the beginning of a new financial era, which would carry out and carry further the principle of free trade. But Gladstone's plans were seriously delayed, though not ultimately defeated, by the outbreak of the Crimean war. On 4 Oct. 1853 Turkey declared war against Russia. On the 12th Gladstone went to Manchester to unveil a statue of Peel. In an eloquent and earnest speech he described Russia as ‘a power which threatened to override all the rest.’ He added, in language which, though conciliatory in form, was in substance ominous, that the government was still anxious to maintain the peace of Europe. That was true of himself, of the prime minister, and of perhaps half the cabinet; but the government was a divided one. Lord Palmerston, Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, British ambassador at Constantinople, and Lord Clarendon treated war as inevitable. In December Palmerston resigned. The nominal cause was Lord John Russell's persistence in attempting to introduce a reform bill. But when he returned to office a few days afterwards the British fleet was ordered to the Black Sea. On 28 March 1854 England and France declared war against Russia. Gladstone, who as a cabinet minister was, of course, jointly responsible for the war, always maintained that it was not undertaken on behalf of Turkey, but to preserve the balance of power, to vindicate the public law of Europe, and to restrain the ambition of an overweening autocrat.
Meanwhile, on 6 March, when war was known to be imminent, though it had not actually begun, Gladstone introduced his second budget. It was very different from the first. He had to provide for an expenditure of which he had no idea in the spring of 1853. But he declined to borrow. He made an animated protest against carrying on war by means of loans, which he said had nearly ruined the country at the close of the last century. His proposal was to double the income tax for half the year, thus raising it from sevenpence to fourteenpence, and to collect the whole of the increase within the first six months. On 8 May, however, he was obliged to introduce a supplementary budget, and to double the tax for the second half-year too. He also raised the duty on spirits, increased the malt tax, much to the disgust of the agriculturists, and made a small addition to the duty on sugar. He courageously defended these proposals, on the double ground that the year's expenditure should be met within the year, and that all classes of the nation should contribute to the cost of a national war. Although there was a good deal of grumbling, this budget also passed without serious difficulty.
The winter of 1854-5 was one of unusual and almost unprecedented severity throughout Europe. The sufferings of the troops in the Crimea were terrible, and public feeling rose high against the government. Roebuck's motion for a committee of inquiry, although Gladstone attacked it with great energy, was carried by the enormous majority of 157 on 29 Jan. 1855, and Aberdeen's ministry resigned.
The queen sent for Lord Derby; Palmerston, Gladstone, and Sidney Herbert were invited, but refused to join him. Eventually the old government was reconstructed, with Lord Palmerston as premier in place of Lord Aberdeen. Gladstone remained for a few weeks in office. On 22 Feb., however, he resigned, together with Sir James Graham, Herbert, and Cardwell. Their reason was that Palmerston had agreed to accept Roebuck's committee, although he was himself opposed to it, and had given them an assurance that he would resist it. They also took the line that the committee, which included no member of the government, was unconstitutional, inasmuch as it tended to relieve the executive of a responsibility which belonged only to ministers of the crown.
Lord Palmerston, immediately after the formation of his government, sent Lord John Russell on a special mission to Vienna, to negotiate terms of peace. The effort failed; but from that time Gladstone ceased to defend the war, and contended that its ultimate objects had been secured. The unfair pretensions of Russia were abated, and the destruction of her preponderant power in the Black Sea was not a sufficient ground for continuing the struggle. On 30 March 1856 the treaty of Paris, which terminated the war, was signed, and on 5 May Gladstone joined in the general congratulations of the government upon the establishment of an honourable peace. But he pointed out that the neutralisation of the Black Sea involved a ‘series of pitfalls,’ and no one acquainted with this speech can have been surprised at his acquiescence in the removal of that article from the treaty when he was himself prime minister fifteen years afterwards.
In the autumn of 1856 Palmerston deemed it necessary to punish China for an alleged insult to the British flag, and he sanctioned the bombardment of Canton. Two days after the opening of parliament (on 24 Feb. 1857) Cobden moved a resolution condemning the bombardment [see Temple, Henry John, Viscount Palmerston]. He was supported by Gladstone, who, true to the principles he had laid down in 1840, severely denounced Palmerston's high-handed treatment of a weak nation. The government were defeated by a majority of sixteen (3 March). Palmerston at once dissolved, and his Chinese policy was emphatically endorsed by the nation. His principal opponents, including Cobden, Bright, Milner-Gibson, and W. J. Fox, lost their seats. Gladstone was more fortunate; the university of Oxford did not put him to the trouble of a contest.
In the first session of the new parliament of 1857 Gladstone's main effort was in resistance to the bill for establishing the divorce court. He opposed it with greater vigour and pertinacity than he displayed in resisting any other measure before or afterwards. In his speech upon the second reading he took the high line that marriage is absolutely indissoluble, and that no human authority could set aside a union of which the sanction was divine; divorce was inconsistent with the character of a Christian country. The bill, however, was carried by large majorities. While it was in committee Gladstone came into frequent collision with the attorney-general, Sir Richard Bethell [q.v.] (afterwards Lord Westbury), who had charge of it. Intellectually the combatants were well matched. Gladstone supported Drummond's amendment, which would have given to a woman the right to divorce on the same terms as a man. But this proposition was rejected by nearly two to one. The only concession which Gladstone extorted from the government was that no clergyman should be compelled to celebrate the marriage of a divorced person. Gladstone and the high church party always maintained that the measure was wrong in principle and pernicious in its consequences; but he felt that to repeal it was out of the question.
In February 1858 Gladstone supported a hostile amendment to Palmerston's bill introduced after the Orsini plot to make conspiracy to murder felony, punishable with penal servitude, instead of a misdemeanour, punishable only with a short term of imprisonment. He maintained that to pass such a measure, at such a time, involved moral complicity with the repressive acts of despotic monarchies. The amendment was carried by a majority of nineteen, and on 22 Feb. Palmerston announced his resignation. The queen sent for Lord Derby, who again applied to Gladstone. Gladstone, however, refused the invitation, and a purely conservative government was again formed. But when in May Lord Ellenborough, the president of the board of control, resigned, Lord Derby pressed the office upon Gladstone, and Disraeli entreated him to accept it. If he had complied with this invitation he would have been the last president of the board and the first secretary of state for India. He declined it, however, and this was the last offer he received from the tories.
Gladstone had now been more than three years out of office, and the fruits of his comparative leisure appeared in his ‘Studies on Homer and the Homeric age’ (Oxford, 3 vols. 1858). Although Gladstone never attained, nor deserved, the same celebrity as a writer which he enjoyed as an orator, he was indefatigable with his pen, and had been for some years a pretty regular contributor to the ‘Quarterly Review,’ as he became long afterwards to the ‘Contemporary Review,’ the ‘Nineteenth Century,’ and other periodicals. It was in the ‘Quarterly’ that he first wrote on the subject of Homer, being induced to do so by the destructive criticisms of Lachmann upon the integrity of Homer's text. The book on Homer is one of the most extraordinary that have ever been composed by a man of affairs. It is a monument of erudition, of eloquence, of literary criticism, of poetic taste, and of speculations the most fantastic in which a student could indulge. Gladstone was a thorough scholar in the old-fashioned sense of the term. He knew the Greek and Latin classics as well as they could be known by any one who had not devoted his life to their study¾as well as Pitt, or Fox, or Peel, or Macaulay, or Lord Derby. In his accurate and minute acquaintance with Homer he was unsurpassed. He was not, however, content with expounding the Homeric poems. He made a whole series of assumptions, and from them he deduced inferences subtle and unsubstantial. He assumed that Homer was an actual person, that he was the sole author both of the ‘Iliad’ and of the ‘Odyssey,’ and that the whole text of those poems is equally genuine. He put into Homer's mind, or into the minds of the ballad-mongers who, as some think, are called by that collective name, ideas which were utterly alien to the Greek mind. He saw in Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades an analogue of the Trinity. He connected the Homeric Ate with the devil, and he regarded Apollo as a ‘representative of the Messianic tradition that the seed of the woman should crush the serpent's head.’ To the comparative philologist, to the scientific mythologist, and to the merely secular scholar, these ideas are meaningless. But the work remains a marvellous example of deep and even sublime meditation upon all that is contained or is suggested by the greatest epic poems of the world.
It was said to be partly in consequence of this book, and of the enthusiasm for modern Greece expressed in it, that, in November 1858, Sir Edward Lytton, secretary for the colonies, entrusted Gladstone with a special mission to the Ionian Islands. These seven islands, of which Corfu is the chief, had been under a British protectorate since the peace of 1815. That they were well administered was not denied; but they had a strong desire for union with Greece, and their discontent became so serious that the government felt it necessary to make inquiry into its origin. Gladstone visited the islands, and did his best to discourage the agitation by promising them a larger measure of self-government under English rule. But there was only one thing they wanted, and a proposal for incorporation with the Greek kingdom was carried unanimously by the legislative assembly at Corfu. Gladstone left Corfu on 19 Feb. 1859 and duly reported what he had seen. But it was not till 1864, when King Otho abdicated and was succeeded by King George, that the islands finally became Greek.
On 28 Feb. 1859 Disraeli, now for the second time chancellor of the exchequer and leader of the House of Commons, brought in his first reform bill, which was of the mildest possible character. It extended the 10l. franchise from boroughs to counties, and it introduced the first form of the lodger vote. But it ignored the working classes, while it proposed some new and fancy franchises. On the second reading of the bill (20 March) Lord John Russell proposed a hostile amendment, against which Gladstone spoke. He did not approve of the bill, which he considered totally inadequate. But he defended with unexpected vigour the maintenance of pocket boroughs, and he expressly declined to give a vote which might have the effect of turning out Lord Derby's administration. His advocacy of the government was, however, unsuccessful. On 1 April the house divided, and the second reading of the bill was rejected by a majority of thirty-nine. On 20 April Lord Derby and Disraeli announced the dissolution of parliament. The policy of this dissolution was severely criticised, and Gladstone was among the critics. But though he himself was again returned without opposition for Oxford, the government gained a considerable number of seats. They did not, however, gain enough. The liberal party, after the election, had a small but a sufficient majority, and they all agreed to act together. The new parliament met on 31 May, the queen's speech was read on 7 June, and a vote of no confidence in the government, moved as an amendment to the address by Lord Hartington (afterwards duke of Devonshire), was carried by the narrow majority of thirteen. Gladstone voted silently with the government.
Thereupon Palmerston formed an administration. He offered the chancellorship of the exchequer to Gladstone, who accepted it. This was one of the strangest incidents in Gladstone's career, and he felt the necessity of an explanation. Having twice voted in favour of Lord Derby's government, he had immediately taken service with Lord Derby's rival and successor. Not being able, as a university member, to address his constituents, he wrote a long letter on the subject to Dr. Hawkins, the provost of Oriel. No one could accuse him of being an office seeker; he had three times refused office and twice resigned it. There can be little doubt that he felt himself to be the man best capable of managing the national finances, which were by no means in a satisfactory state. To Dr. Hawkins he pointed out that most of the new cabinet, which contained only one radical, Milner-Gibson, were the men with whom he had acted in the government of Lord Aberdeen. But feeling at Oxford was much excited by what appeared to be his permanent enlistment in the liberal ranks, and his seat, vacated by his appointment, was keenly contested. The tory candidate was Lord Chandos (afterwards duke of Buckingham), but he only polled 859 against 1,050 for Gladstone.
Gladstone's first official duty in 1859 was to introduce the budget, which had been unduly delayed by the general election. He had to provide for a deficit of nearly 5,000,000l. He did so mainly by raising the income tax from fivepence to ninepence, the whole of the increase to be paid in the first half of the financial year.
Gladstone's budget next year (1860) was one of his greatest and most memorable achievements. It had been preceded by the commercial treaty with France, which Cobden, holding no official position, had, under Gladstone's superintendence, concluded in the autumn with the emperor of the French. By this treaty, which was to last for ten years, England agreed to abolish all duties on manufactured goods and to reduce the duties on brandy and wine. France agreed to lower her tariff on English goods and to treat England on the footing of the most favoured nation. In his budget speech of 1860, which was a brilliant success, and revived the memories of 1853, Gladstone met the arguments of those who said that a commercial treaty was an abandonment of free trade. He showed that the duties abolished were essentially protective, so that his scheme was in effect the completion of what Peel had begun in 1842, and continued in 1846. The reductions, he said, would have been advantageous to this country even if France had done nothing, and the concessions made by France rendered them doubly profitable. Before closing that part of his great speech which dealt with the treaty, he paid an eloquent tribute to Cobden. The budget also made further reductions in the taxes upon articles of food. It imposed a registration duty of a penny a packet upon imported and exported goods, and a duty of six shillings upon chicory, which was largely used in the adulteration of coffee. An excise license was granted to the keepers of eating-houses, enabling them, for the first time, to sell beer and wine on the premises, and thus affording an alternative to the public-house. The paper duty was repealed. The income tax was raised to tenpence upon all incomes above 150l., and to sevenpence below that amount. To illustrate the effect of his proposals in promoting the freedom of commerce, Gladstone explained that while in 1845 the number of articles subject to customs duties was 1,163, and in 1853 460, it was now brought down to 48. The first opposition to this historical budget was raised on 20 Feb., when Disraeli moved that the assent of the house should be obtained for the treaty before they discussed the items of the budget. Gladstone's reply was chiefly founded on precedent, especially the precedent set by Pitt in 1798. The majority for the government was sixty-three. The next day Charles Du Cane moved an amendment hostile to the whole principle of the financial scheme. But this was defeated by 116, and with one exception the proposals of the budget were now safe. To the bill providing for the repeal of the paper duty a much more serious resistance was offered. It came partly from the manufacturers of paper and partly from the proprietors of the more expensive journals, who were afraid of the competition which it would encourage. But the second reading was carried by a majority of fifty-three, and the House rose for the Easter recess.
On 16 April Gladstone, who had been elected lord rector of the university of Edinburgh, delivered an address on the function of universities, now chiefly interesting as being the first of the kind which he was called upon to give. When parliament met again after the recess a very formidable campaign was opened against the paper bill, and the third reading was carried only by a majority of nine. In a letter to the queen, for which it would be difficult to find a precedent, Lord Palmerston, who was, of course, as much responsible for the bill as Gladstone himself, intimated that this division would probably encourage the House of Lords to throw it out; that if they did so they would perform a public service, and that the government might well submit to so welcome a defeat. Throughout Lord Palmerston's second administration a feeling of more or less active hostility prevailed between himself and his chancellor of the exchequer. But, though Gladstone frequently threatened to resign, he remained in office for the rest of Lord Palmerston's life.
On 21 May Lord Granville moved the second reading of the paper bill in the House of Lords. After a learned argument from Lord Lyndhurst, to prove that the lords might reject though they could not amend a money bill, and a personal attack on Gladstone by Lord Derby, combined with effusive compliments to Lord Palmerston, the bill was thrown out by a majority of eighty-nine. On 25 May Palmerston moved for a committee to inquire into the privileges of the House of Commons and the rights of the House of Lords in matters of taxation. The committee having sat and drawn up a purely historical report, Palmerston moved, on 5 July, a series of resolutions, carefully framed and of great political value, which set out in effect that the grant of supply was in the commons alone. His speech, as might have been expected, was a mild one, and advanced liberals complained that he had practically given up the case. But Gladstone made amends in their eyes for the deficiencies of his chief. In the most radical speech that he had yet made, he affirmed that for two hundred years the lords had never ventured to retain a tax which the commons had remitted, and, answering Lord Lyndhurst by implication, he pointed out that it was not in the lords' power to reject money bills, and the representatives of the people were bound to combat their claim to interfere with taxation. In significant language he reserved to himself the right of enforcing the commons' privileges not by words but by action. The vote of the lords was, however, decisive for the year. In the month of July it became necessary for the chancellor of the exchequer to provide for the cost of the Chinese expedition jointly carried out by England and France. He found the money by increasing the spirit duties one shilling a gallon.
Gladstone's budgets were the greatest and most popular events of Palmerston's second and longer administration. They excited unparalleled interest in the country, and the House of Commons was always crowded from floor to roof when they came on. Disraeli, who, though he was three times chancellor of the exchequer, never became an expert financier, could make no head against them, albeit his parliamentary genius was never more fully displayed than as leader of the opposition in the parliament of 1859. But before the budget of 1861 Gladstone introduced a social and economic reform which has proved immensely advantageous to the lower and middle classes of society. This was the post office savings bank bill, which he brought in on 8 Feb., and which became law without serious difficulty. Hitherto small savings could only be invested on the security of government through the savings banks, which were six hundred in number, and open for but a few hours in the day. The bill enabled them to be invested through the postal and money order offices, of which there were then between two and three thousand, and which were open from morning till night. The rate of interest was two and a half per cent., which was quite sufficient for the purpose; and the success of the measure was immediate and complete.
On 15 April 1861 Gladstone introduced his budget for the year in a speech which was pronounced by some impartial critics to be the finest he had yet delivered. He took off the penny which he had put on the income tax the year before. He again proposed the repeal of the paper duty. As for the income tax, he declared that it depended entirely upon the national expenditure. If the country would be content to be governed at the cost of 60,000,000l., they might get rid of the tax. If they persisted in spending 70,000,000l., it was impossible for them to dispense with it. The repeal of the paper duty was once more vigorously opposed, and Thomas Berry Horsfall, supported by the whole of the conservative party, moved that the tea duty should be abolished instead. The motion was defeated by a majority of eighteen; but the conservatives made a good deal of play with the cry of tea before paper. Gladstone had been subjected to some ridicule for his defeat by the House of Lords in the previous year. But it now became apparent that he knew well what he was about when he reserved to himself in 1860 the right of asserting by action the privileges of the commons. By a bold and practical innovation, which has since been the rule of parliament, he included all the taxes in one bill. This bill, being a money bill, could not be amended by the lords, who were therefore reduced to the alternative either of accepting it as it stood, or of refusing to concur in any provision for the public service of the year. This masterly stroke succeeded. Although the removal of the tax was finally carried in the House of Commons by the small majority of fifteen, the lords did not venture to interfere, and on 7 June they adopted without a division the customs and inland revenue bill, which included the abolition of the paper duty. From this time date the cheap press and the publication of penny or halfpenny papers.
The excessive expenditure of which Gladstone complained was mainly due to the large sums which Lord Palmerston demanded for the fortification of the coasts and of the seaports. Against these heavy grants Gladstone more than once protested, and his protests went to the verge of resignation. He agreed rather with Cobden than with his chief; and when the subject was under discussion his absence from the house was observed.
The budget of 1862, introduced on 3 April, was comparatively prosaic. The civil war in America and a succession of bad harvests had interfered with the growth of the revenue, and no great remission of taxation was possible. Gladstone, however, repealed the hop duty, a very unpopular impost, and substituted for it a readjustment of brewers' licenses, which made the larger brewers pay more, and the smaller brewers pay less. He also modified the scale of the wine duties, giving a further advantage to the light as against the strong sorts of wine. It is to this budget and to the budget of 1860 that is due the name of ‘Gladstone claret.’ To this budget there was little opposition.
An unfortunate utterance, in some respects the most unfortunate of Gladstone's life, was made in a speech at Newcastle on 7 Oct. He then said that Jefferson Davis, leader of the confederate rebellion, had made an army, had made a navy, and, what was more, had made a nation. He also expressed his opinion that the reunion of the north and the south, as a result of the war, was impossible. These views were held at the time by the vast majority of the upper and middle classes in England, though the working classes, who suffered most by the war, never subscribed to them. The prophecy, however mistaken, was repeated in even stronger terms by both Lord Russell and Lord Derby in the following year. It has to be remembered that the war was not ostensibly begun for the extinction of slavery, but for the maintenance of the union, and that even Lincoln declared himself at the outset to be no abolitionist. But it was really against slavery that the troops of the north fought; and in 1867 Gladstone had the manliness to avow that he had entirely misunderstood the real nature of the struggle.
On 15 April 1863 Gladstone, for the first time, supported the burials bill, then in the hands of Sir Morton Peto [q.v.], which proposed to give dissenters the right of being buried with their own ceremonies in the parish churchyards [see Morgan, Sir George Osborne, Suppl.]. The next day, 16 April, Gladstone brought in his annual budget. There was a large surplus, and Gladstone was enabled to take twopence off the income tax, reducing it to sevenpence in the pound; he also raised the limit of partial exemption from incomes of 150l. to incomes of 200l. a year, and he abolished the penny a packet duty on registration, which he had himself imposed in 1860, but which had proved a failure; he also lowered the tea duty from seventeenpence to a shilling. So far the budget encountered no opposition, though a proposal to license clubs was withdrawn. But another proposal, to remove the exemption from income tax enjoyed by charitable endowments, excited a furious controversy. On 4 May Gladstone received the largest deputation which had ever waited on a minister. It was headed by the Duke of Cambridge, and attended by both the archbishops as well as by many bishops, clergymen, and philanthropic laymen. Gladstone declined to argue the matter with them, and reserved what he had to say for the House of Commons the same evening. Upon that occasion he delivered what has been described by competent judges as the most convincing piece of abstract argument ever addressed to a legislative assembly. He pointed out that the exemption was not really given to charities, but to charitable bequests, which, as they did not take effect till after the death of the testator, were not really charity at all. Every penny given by a man to charitable objects in his lifetime, though it might involve not only generosity but privation, was taxed to the uttermost. He asked whether it was right and just that parliament should specially favour wills which might endow a charitable institution and leave the testator's family destitute; he asserted that an exemption from a tax was a grant of public money, and he denied the moral right of parliament to grant money without retaining control of it. No serious attempt was made to answer this speech. But it had no effect upon the house; no independent member on either side supported the chancellor of the exchequer, the government declined to make it a question of confidence, and the proposal was withdrawn. On 2 July, Gladstone, speaking this time with the full authority of the government and supported by Disraeli, suffered an overwhelming defeat. His proposal to purchase the buildings used for the exhibition of 1862 for 105,000l. was rejected by 287 votes against 121. It was apparently regarded as a court job.
In the course of this year (1863) Gladstone brought out, with Lord Lyttelton, a joint volume of ‘Translations’ (new edit. 1863). Gladstone's were from Greek, Latin, Italian, and German, into English, as well as from English into Greek and Latin. The best of his classical translations is from the battle piece in the fourth book of the ‘Iliad.’ But the best in the whole book is his spirited rendering into English of Manzoni's ode on the death of Napoleon. The most popular, however, is his version, in rhyming Latin, of Toplady's famous hymn, ‘Rock of Ages.’
The budget of 1864 was introduced on 7 April; the surplus was two millions and a half. With this Gladstone reduced the sugar duties by a sum of 1,700,000l., and further lowered the income tax from sevenpence to sixpence. He also made a small concession to the agricultural interest, exempting from duty malt employed in feeding cattle. The principal measure of the year, besides the budget, was a bill for providing government annuities and government insurance through the post office savings banks. The bill was severely criticised; but Gladstone saved it by consenting to lay it before a select committee, which reported favourably upon it, and it passed into law.
When on 11 May (Sir) Edward Baines [q.v.] moved the second reading of his reform bill, which lowered the franchise from 10l. to 6l., Gladstone gave the bill his powerful support. This was the most frankly democratic speech he had yet made. He pointed out that only one fiftieth of the working classes had votes. He claimed the right of every man, not disqualified, to come within the pale of the constitution, and he stated that the burden of proof rested with those who denied any man's right to vote. He implored the house not to wait for agitation before they widened the suffrage, and he appealed to the fortitude of the operatives in the Lancashire famine as a proof that they were eminently qualified to discharge all the duties of citizens. The ultimate effect of this spirited declaration was immense; but at the moment the house refused, by 272 votes against 56, to read the bill a second time.
On 28 March 1865 Gladstone declined on behalf of the cabinet to accept L. L. Dillwyn's motion declaring that the position of the Irish church was unsatisfactory, on the ground that it was inopportune. He fully admitted that the Irish church was what Dillwyn described it. Establishments, he said, were meant for the whole nation, but barely one eighth of the Irish people belonged to the established church. But the great difficulty was the disposal of the endowments, which the Roman catholics had no desire to share. The motion came to nothing; the debate was adjourned and not resumed.
On 27 April 1865 Gladstone introduced his budget, and triumphantly pointed to a considerable decrease in the national expenditure. Reviewing the commercial legislation of that long parliament, he paid once more an eloquent tribute to the public services of Cobden, who had died a few weeks before. He announced a surplus of four millions, with which he lowered the duty on tea from a shilling to sixpence in the pound, and the income tax from sixpence to fourpence, which he declared to be its proper rate in time of peace. The question whether it should be retained at all he left to the new parliament. He reduced the tax on fire insurance by one half. On the other hand he refused, in spite of a subsequent defeat, to abolish the duty on the certificates of attorneys and solicitors.
On 14 June Mr. (later Viscount) Goschen moved the second reading of a bill removing theological tests for university degrees. Gladstone opposed the bill in a speech which offended many of his liberal admirers. He said that he would be no party to separating education from religion, and he praised the wisdom of the denominational system. The academic liberals complained that their leader had turned round and fired in their faces.
In July 1865 parliament was dissolved. The result of the general election, which excited little interest, was the return of 367 liberals and 290 conservatives. This was a liberal gain of forty-eight votes on a division. The chief event of the elections was Gladstone's defeat at Oxford. The nomination took place on 13 July, and the poll, under an act passed the year before, lasted for five days. The same act also allowed, for the first time, the use of voting papers, which could be sent by post, and thus, by increasing the practical power of the non-residents, contributed to Gladstone's defeat. His tory colleague, Sir William Heathcote, was virtually unopposed. But the tories ran a second candidate, Mr. Gathorne-Hardy (afterwards Lord Cranbrook). On 18 July the numbers were declared as follows: Heathcote, 3,236; Hardy, 1,904; Gladstone, 1,724; being a majority for Hardy over Gladstone of 180. Gladstone had a majority among the resident members of the university, and even among the heads of houses. Of the professors, twenty-four voted for him, and only ten against him. Bishop Wilberforce used all his influence in support of his old friend, who received the suffrages not only of Jowett and Pattison but of Keble and Pusey. On 17 July, the day before the declaration of the poll at Oxford, Gladstone had been nominated for South Lancashire. On the 18th he wrote a dignified farewell to the university, and on the same day arrived at Manchester, where he addressed a crowded meeting in the Free Trade Hall. He described himself as ‘unmuzzled,’ and intimated that a serious check to his liberal developments had been taken away. There was, however, another which was soon to follow it. On 18 Oct. Palmerston died. Gladstone, who had on 29 July been returned for South Lancashire below two conservatives, at once wrote to Lord Russell, and offered, in the event of the queen sending for him, to continue in office as chancellor of the exchequer, with or without the lead of the House of Commons, now vacant by Palmerston's death. The queen sent for Lord Russell, who became prime minister, and requested Gladstone to lead the house in his present office. The relations between Gladstone and Russell were extremely cordial, whereas Palmerston had more than once written to the queen about his chancellor of the exchequer in terms of sarcastic censure, which would have been unusually strong if applied to a political opponent.
The first duty of the new parliament, after suspending the Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland to provide against the first appearance of fenianism, and passing a bill to authorise the compulsory slaughter of cattle as a protection against the rinderpest, was to deal with reform. On 12 March 1866 Gladstone introduced the government's reform bill in the House of Commons. The bill reduced the franchise in counties from a property qualification of 50l. to one of 19l., and the borough franchise from 10l. to 7l. It gave votes to compound householders, whose rates were nominally paid by the landlords, and to every man who, for two years, had had 50l. in a savings bank. A vehement opposition to the bill was at once declared from the liberal as well as the conservative side of the house. The most eloquent and powerful of its liberal opponents was Robert Lowe (afterwards Lord Sherbrooke) [q.v.]. The second reading was postponed till after Easter, and during the recess, on 6 April, Gladstone made an important speech at a liberal dinner in Liverpool, declaring that in no circumstances would the bill be withdrawn. On 12 April he moved the second reading, and took occasion to point out that the working classes, who had less share in the representation than they had before the great Reform Act, paid five twelfths of the taxes. He ridiculed the idea that they would all vote together as a class, a prediction which was amply fulfilled. The debate lasted for eight nights, and closed with a reply from Gladstone. Rising at one in the morning, he reviewed the whole course of the debate, directing himself more especially to Lowe's arguments. His speech was a masterpiece of classical eloquence, freely adorned and illustrated by those rich Virgilian hexameters with which, like Lowe, he delighted to season his parliamentary oratory. Contrasting himself with Lord Russell, a lifelong reformer, he admitted the tardiness of his own conversion, and thanked the liberal party for accepting him as leader. His speech was, in fact, far too great for the bill. But he concluded with a prophecy, fulfilled more speedily than even he could have anticipated, that time was on his side; that the great social forces, which the tumult of debate could neither impede nor disturb, were fighting for him, and would end in a certain if not distant victory. As soon as he sat down the house divided. The government secured a bare majority of five.
Before the house went into committee on the bill, and amidst a fever of public excitement, Gladstone on 3 May produced his budget. The surplus was nearly a million and a half. With it he repealed the duty on timber and the pepper duty, and reduced the duty on bottled wine to the same level as that on wine in casks. He also lowered the tax on cabs and omnibuses from a penny to a farthing a mile. He announced that commercial treaties, on the model of the treaty with France, had been concluded with Belgium, with the German Zollverein, and with Austria. He then turned to the subject of the national debt, and pleaded earnestly for the importance of making a more serious effort towards paying it off. He warned the country that the supply of coal would probably be exhausted in a hundred years, and that the consequent diminution of productive power would be enormous. This prediction, though supported in debate by John Stuart Mill, was generally regarded as fantastic. But it was revived some years afterwards by W. S. Jevons, its real originator, and it cannot be said to have been refuted. He then propounded a scheme by which, beginning with a sum of half a million a year, debt to the amount of fifty millions would have been extinguished by 1905. But he did not remain in office long enough to carry this plan into effect. On 7 May Gladstone fulfilled his promise to the house by bringing in a redistribution bill. By grouping the small boroughs and taking away one member each from several of them, he obtained forty-nine seats, which, without altering the number of the house, he distributed among the larger towns, the more populous divisions of counties, Scotland, and the university of London. On 14 May the bill was unanimously read a second time. On the 28th, which had been fixed for the committee of the reform bill, the serious troubles of the government began. Sir Rainald Knightley (afterwards Lord Knightley) carried against ministers, by a majority of ten, an instruction to include in the bill provisions for dealing with bribery. (Sir) Arthur Hayter then moved an amendment against the system of grouping in the redistribution bill; but Gladstone, after a protest against obstruction, declared that he did not regard the principle of grouping as vital, and the amendment was not pressed. Then came the tug of war. Lord Dunkellin moved to substitute rating for rental as a qualification for the franchise. Gladstone opposed this on the double ground that it would give the assessors of rates control over the suffrage, and that it would much diminish the number of new voters. But on 18 June the amendment was carried by a majority of eleven, and on the 19th Lord Russell's government resigned. The queen was unwilling to accept their resignation. Ministers, however, succeeded in overcoming her majesty's scruples, and on 26 June Gladstone defended in the House of Commons the course which they had taken. His reasons were mainly two. He said that the only alternative to resignation was the frank acceptance of the amendment, and that the cabinet had entirely failed to find any practicable means of carrying it out. He further stated that the present reform bill, as originally drawn, was smaller than the bill of 1860, and that the government could not consent to any further diminution of it.
The queen sent for Lord Derby, who became for the third time prime minister, with Disraeli once more chancellor of the exchequer and leader of the House of Commons. Meanwhile the popular enthusiasm for reform had become intense. On 27 June ten thousand Londoners assembled in Trafalgar Square and marched in procession to Gladstone's house. Gladstone himself was not at home; but Mrs. Gladstone, in response to calls, appeared on the balcony, and there was tumultuous cheering. On 23 July a great procession of reformers marched to Hyde Park. The police, by direction from the home office, closed the gates [see Walpole, Spencer Horatio]. But the crowd broke down the railings and entered the park in triumph. Both Lord Derby and Disraeli, having taken office, calmly declared that they had never been opposed to the principle of reform, and that they had just as good a right to deal with it as their political opponents. Gladstone replied, at Salisbury, by saying that he would give an impartial consideration to any plan they might propose. Little surprise was therefore felt when a paragraph in the queen's speech for 1867 announced another reform bill. Before introducing their bill the government proposed colourless resolutions, which did not satisfy the public curiosity.
On the 18th Disraeli introduced the bill, which went much further than the resolutions. Every ratepaying householder was now to have a vote. Gladstone at once protested against the principle of dual voting, which formed part of the bill, and insisted upon votes being given to lodgers as well as to compound householders. On 25 March Disraeli moved the second reading of the bill, and after Gladstone had obtained from Disraeli an assurance which was understood to mean that he would be flexible, the bill was read a second time without a division.
On 5 April there was another meeting at Gladstone's house, when it was arranged that John Duke Coleridge (afterwards Lord Coleridge) [q.v.] should move an instruction to the committee, which would have the effect of enlarging the number of householders enfranchised. But, in consequence of a protest made at what was called the ‘tea-room meeting,’ part of this instruction was dropped, and Coleridge only moved that the committee should have power to deal with rating. This Disraeli accepted, and Gladstone thereupon moved in the committee that all householders should have votes, whether their rates were paid for them or not. This amendment was rejected by a majority of twenty-one. The blow to Gladstone's authority, as leader of the opposition, was rather serious, and in reply to a letter from one of his supporters, Robert Wigram Crawford, one of the members for the city of London, he intimated that he should not move his other amendments. But during the Easter recess a number of meetings were held to demand a thoroughgoing reform, and on 2 May the process of enlarging the bill was begun. Under Gladstone's guidance this was successfully accomplished. Lord Cranborne (afterwards Lord Salisbury), in an incisive speech, pointed out that the bill, as it left the House of Commons, was not Disraeli's but Gladstone's¾Gladstone, he said, had demanded and obtained, first, the lodger franchise; secondly, the abolition of distinction between compounders and non-compounders; thirdly, a provision to prevent traffic in votes; fourthly, the omission of the taxing franchise; fifthly, the omission of the dual vote; sixthly, the enlargement of the distribution of seats; seventhly, the reduction of the county franchise; eighthly, the omission of voting papers; ninthly and tenthly, the omission of the educational and savings bank franchises.
On 19 Nov. 1867 parliament met for an autumn session to vote supplies for the Abyssinian expedition. Gladstone admitted that there was a good cause for war, but protested against territorial aggrandisement and the assumption of new political responsibilities. At Christmas Lord Russell retired from the leadership of the liberal party, and was succeeded by Gladstone. On 19 Feb. 1868 he moved the second reading of a bill to abolish compulsory church rates. This was read a second time without a division, and soon became law, thus putting an end to a very long and very obstinate dispute. On 26 Feb. Lord Derby resigned, from failing health, and Disraeli became prime minister. He had to govern with a minority, and was constantly defeated in the House of Commons.
On 16 March, during a four nights' debate on the state of Ireland [see Maguire, John Francis], Gladstone expressed the opinion that the Irish church as a state church must cease to exist. On the 23rd he gave notice of three resolutions, declaring that the church of Ireland should be disestablished and disendowed, and the exercise of public patronage in it at once suspended to avoid the creation of new vested interests. Instead of meeting these resolutions with a direct negative, or with the previous question, Lord Stanley, on behalf of ministers, proposed an amendment that the subject should be left for the new parliament to deal with. On 30 March Gladstone moved that the house should go into committee on his resolutions, and in his speech explained his own personal attitude. He had never, he said, since 1845, adhered to the principle of the Irish establishment. His policy was to pass only a suspensory bill in that parliament, leaving the whole question of disestablishment and disendowment to be decided by the next. After a long debate the house, by a majority of fifty-six, determined to go into committee on the resolutions. There was by this time a great deal of interest out of doors, and meetings on both sides were held during the Easter recess. At one of them, in St. James's Hall, Lord Russell presided, and spoke strongly in favour of Irish disestablishment, adding an eloquent eulogy of Gladstone as his successor. On 27 April Gladstone moved his first resolution in favour of disestablishment, and argued that, so far as the church of England was concerned, a bad establishment did not strengthen, but weakened, a good one. After three nights' debate the resolution was carried by a majority of sixty-five, and Disraeli asked for time to reconsider the position of the government. On 4 May he made a rather obscure statement in the House of Commons, which was understood to mean that he had offered the queen the alternative of dissolving parliament in the autumn, or of accepting his resignation. Her majesty had refused the resignation, but had given her assent to an autumn dissolution. Strong protests were made against bringing in the queen's name. Gladstone strenuously objected to the holding of a dissolution over the house as a menace. His remaining resolutions were adopted without a division, and, in reply to the third, her majesty assented to placing her own patronage in the Irish church at the disposal of parliament.
On 23 May Gladstone moved the second reading of the suspensory bill, explaining that with disestablishment the Maynooth grant to the catholics and the regium donum to the presbyterians would cease. The second reading was carried by a majority of fifty-four. But, in the House of Lords, where Lord Carnarvon supported it, and Lord Salisbury, who had recently succeeded his father, opposed it, it was rejected by ninety-five.
Parliament was prorogued on 31 July 1868, and was dissolved on 11 Nov., the registration having been accelerated by statute so as to enable the new electors to vote. The great question before the country was the disestablishment of the Irish church, and the popular verdict, the first taken under household suffrage, was decisive, the liberal majority being 115. Disraeli, making a sensible precedent, resigned without meeting the new parliament. On 4 Dec. Gladstone was summoned to Windsor and bidden to form his first ministry. He had been defeated in south-west Lancashire by Mr. (afterwards Viscount) Cross, but elected at the same time for Greenwich. By 9 Dec. his government was complete. Robert Lowe (afterwards Viscount Sherbrooke) [q.v.] became chancellor of the exchequer despite his opposition to the reform bill. John Bright [q.v.] entered a cabinet and a government for the first time as president of the board of trade. Lord Russell refused a seat in the cabinet without office, and Sir George Grey [q.v.] declined to join the new administration. Sir Roundell Palmer (afterwards Earl of Selborne) refused the woolsack because he objected to the disendowment, though not to the disestablishment, of the church in Ireland. The new chancellor was Sir William Page Wood (now created Lord Hatherley) [q.v.]. The government was, on the whole, a strong one, and Gladstone was especially fortunate in securing for the war office the services of Edward (afterwards Lord) Cardwell [q.v.], who was, with the exception of Sir James Graham and himself, the ablest of all the administrators trained under Sir Robert Peel.
The chief business of the session of 1869¾the disestablishment of the Irish church¾was emphatically Gladstone's work. Parliament met on 16 Feb., and on 1 March he introduced the Irish church bill in a speech which, by the admission of Disraeli, did not contain a superfluous word. The bill provided for the immediate disendowment of the church, and for its disestablishment as from 1 Jan. 1871. The church was hereafter to govern itself, and the governing body was to be incorporated. There was to be full compensation for vested interests, but the Irish bishops were to lose at once the few seats which they held by rotation in the House of Lords. The church was to retain all private endowments bestowed since 1660. The Maynooth grant to catholics and the regium donum to presbyterians were to be commuted. The tenants of church lands were to have the right of preemption. This clause, due to Bright and known by his name, was the origin of the many Land Purchase Acts which have since been passed for Ireland. The funds of the church were not to be used for any ecclesiastical purpose, but for the relief of unavoidable calamity and suffering. This was the only part of the bill which underwent serious alteration in parliament. The second reading of the bill was fixed for 18 March, when Disraeli moved its rejection. It was carried by a majority of 118, and passed easily through committee. On 31 May the bill was read a third time, by a majority of 114, and sent to the House of Lords. The conservative majority of that house were divided in opinion. After a long and eloquent debate the second reading was carried by thirty-three votes. Great changes were, however, made in committee; with almost all of these the House of Commons, by large majorities, refused to agree. For some time there was serious danger that the bill would be lost. But Lord Cairns, having done his best to defeat the bill and having failed, set himself with great ability to obtain the most favourable terms he could get from a government too strong to be resisted. The queen intervened as a peacemaker through Archbishop Tait. The result was that the bill passed substantially as it left the commons, with one most important exception. By an amendment, which Lord Cairns moved, and which the government ultimately accepted, the funds of the church were applied, not to the exclusive relief of suffering, but mainly to such purposes and in such manner as parliament might direct. As a matter of fact, they have scarcely ever been employed in the relief of suffering at all; but they have played a most valuable part in the development of Irish agriculture and industry. Thus altered, the bill received the royal assent on 26 July.
In the autumn of this year Gladstone excited the bitter resentment of orthodox churchmen, with whom he was himself in complete doctrinal agreement, by appointing Dr. Temple, head-master of Rugby, who was reputed to have freethinking tendencies, bishop of Exeter. The protests were exceedingly violent, and some members of the chapter braved the penalties of præmunire by voting against the nominee of the crown. But Gladstone's best justification is that neither in 1885, when he himself nominated Dr. Temple to the bishopric of London, nor in 1896, when Lord Salisbury nominated him to the archbishopric of Canterbury, was the faintest objection raised from any quarter. Although Gladstone afterwards made Dr. James Fraser [q.v.] bishop of Manchester, and Dr. Bradley dean of Westminster, he gave the high church party at least their share of the dignities and emoluments of the church. In 1869 appeared ‘Juventus Mundi,’ prematurely called by Lowe ‘Senectus Gladstoni,’ which partly summarised and partly developed Gladstone's larger treatise on Homer, published eleven years before.
The session of 1870 was partially, as the session of 1869 had been wholly, an Irish one. On 15 Feb. Gladstone introduced his first Irish land bill, a mild and moderate measure, founded on the report of the Devon commission, which had been issued five-and-twenty years before. The bill gave legal effect to the Ulster custom, i.e. tenant right in the northern counties of Ireland, and, under conditions, to other similar customs elsewhere. It gave the tenant compensation for disturbance, if he had been evicted for any other reason than not paying his rent. It also gave him compensation for improvements, and reversed in his favour the old presumption that they had been made by the landlord. It authorised the issue of loans from the treasury for enabling the tenants to purchase their holdings, thus carrying a step further the policy of the Bright clauses. Only eleven members voted against the second reading. The lords altered it a good deal in committee; but they abandoned most of their amendments on report, and the bill passed substantially as it was brought in. Gladstone had little to do with the great education bill of this year, which established school boards and compulsory attendance throughout the country. He left it almost entirely to William Edward Forster [q.v.], though he occasionally made concessions to the church which seriously offended dissenters. He was, in truth, a denominationalist, and had no sympathy with the unsectarian teaching of religion given in board schools.
The great event of 1870 was the war between Prussia and France. The British government preserved a strict neutrality. But when the draft treaty between Count Bismarck and Monsieur Benedetti was published in the ‘Times’ on 25 July, ten days after the outbreak of the war, Gladstone and Lord Granville, who had just succeeded Lord Clarendon as foreign secretary, entered into negotiations with both the belligerent powers for maintaining the independence of Belgium. The draft treaty, a scandalous document, communicated to ‘The Times’ by Bismarck himself, purported to assure France of Prussia's aid in the conquest of Belgium, whose neutrality had been under a joint European guarantee since 1839. On 9 and 11 Aug. respectively, Prussia and France both pledged themselves to England that this neutrality should be respected, as, in the result, it was. But the only step which the government asked the House of Commons to take was an increase of the army estimate by two millions sterling and 20,000 men. In October of this year Gladstone took what was for a prime minister the singular course of contributing to the ‘Edinburgh Review’ an article on England, France, and Germany. In it he freely criticised the conduct of both foreign powers, defended his own government, and congratulated the country on being divided from the complication of continental politics by ‘the streak of silver sea which travellers so often and so justly execrate.’ We know, on Gladstone's own authority, that this was the only article written by him which he intended to be, in fact as well as in form, anonymous. But anonymity is difficult for prime ministers. The authorship was disclosed by the ‘Daily News’ on 5 Nov.
The administrative history of 1870 is important. On 31 Aug. all the public departments, except the foreign office and the education office, were opened to competition. At the same time the dual control of the army by the war office and the horse guards was abolished, the commander-in-chief being for the first time placed under the secretary of state. Just before the end of the year Gladstone announced the release of all the Fenian prisoners in English gaols on the condition that they remained for the rest of their lives outside the United Kingdom. The condition was severely criticised, and it may be doubted whether the discharged convicts would not have been less dangerous to England in Ireland than they became in the United States.
The year 1871 opened with the Black Sea conference, which met in London on 17 Jan. It was called to consider the clause in the treaty of Paris which provided for the neutralisation of the Black Sea. This the Czar announced his intention of repudiating. Gladstone was accused of allowing Russia to tear up the treaty, but, as a matter of fact, Lord Granville refused to recognise the right claimed by Russia, and it was the conference which put an end to a restriction which could not have been permanently enforced against a great power.
The first and chief business of the session was the army regulation bill, which, among other things, abolished the purchase of commissions in the army. The bill was strenuously resisted by the military members of the house, and ‘the Colonels,’ as they were called, initiated the system of obstruction, which was afterwards more artistically developed by the Irish members. In the House of Lords the bill was met by a dilatory motion demanding a more complete scheme of army reform. This, after a strong speech from Lord Salisbury, was carried by a majority of twenty-five. Two days afterwards Gladstone announced in the House of Commons that purchase had been abolished by royal warrant, and would be illegal after 1 Nov. Thus the only result of the lords' refusal to proceed with the bill would be that officers could not get the compensation which it provided. In these circumstances the bill passed. The lords consoled themselves with passing a vote of censure on the government. Some radicals, however, represented by Fawcett, denounced the use of the prerogative, even for purposes of which they approved, while so moderate a liberal as Sir Roundell Palmer, not then a member of the government, supported it as the only practicable course. As a matter of strict law, the queen did not act on this occasion by virtue of her prerogative as the head of the army, but under the powers of a statute passed in 1779.
This year Gladstone succeeded in passing the university test bill, which had long been before parliament, and which opened the prizes of the universities to men of all creeds. Speaking on the women's suffrage bill of Jacob Bright, Gladstone made the admission that he would not object to women voting if the ballot were introduced, but to this isolated expression of opinion he gave no practical effect. On the other hand, he made an uncompromising speech against Miall's motion for the disestablishment of the church of England.
In May of this year the treaty of Washington between England and the United States was signed. The purport of it was to submit to arbitration the claims of the American government for damages caused by the depredations of the Alabama and other cruisers fitted out at British ports during the civil war. The commission, which was appointed by Gladstone to discuss the terms of the treaty with the United States government, was headed by Earl de Grey, created for his services Marquis of Ripon, and included Gladstone's political opponent, though personal friend, Sir Stafford Northcote. The commissioners agreed upon three rules which practically decided the case against England, so far as the Alabama was concerned, and which had not previously been an undisputed part of international law. But the treaty, though open to technical criticism, was substantially just, and put an end to a dangerous state of feeling between the two nations. The arbitrators met at Geneva in the following year to determine the Alabama claims. This was the first international arbitration of serious importance. Its value as a precedent was inestimable, and it will always be associated with Gladstone's name [see Cockburn, Sir Alexander; and Palmer, Roundell]. The United States demanded a sum exceeding nine millions sterling. The majority of the arbitrators awarded them three millions and a quarter, in respect of losses inflicted by the Alabama, the Florida, and the Shenandoah.
Meanwhile Gladstone delivered, in 1871, at Aberdeen, a speech which was often used against him in future years. Referring to the Irish demand for home rule, which then came from only a small section of the Irish people, he said that if given to Ireland it must be given also to Scotland, and asked if they were prepared to make themselves ridiculous by disintegrating the great capital institutions of the country. In October he met his constituents at Greenwich, who were dissatisfied partly with his neglect of their interests, and partly with the discharge by the government of labourers from the dockyards. He spoke for two hours in the open air to an audience estimated at twenty thousand. At first there were so much noise and so hostile a demonstration that he could not be heard. But in a few minutes he put the interrupters to silence, and, at the close of his speech, he received a practically unanimous vote of confidence. Both physically and intellectually this was one of his greatest achievements.
When parliament met, in 1872, there was brought before both houses the case of Sir Robert Collier, Gladstone's attorney-general, who had been appointed a paid member of the judicial committee of the privy council, practically in defiance of the statute providing that only judges or ex-judges were eligible [see Collier, Robert Porrett, Baron Monkswell]. Votes of censure were moved. The motion was rejected in the House of Commons by twenty-seven, and in the House of Lords by two votes. The result was damaging to the ministry and especially to Gladstone himself. The bad effect was increased by his appointment of William Wigan Harvey [q.v.] to the rectory of Ewelme, a crown benefice where it was a necessary qualification of the incumbent that he should be a graduate of Oxford. Harvey was a graduate of Cambridge, and was admitted ad eundem at Oxford for the purpose of enabling him to take the living. Gladstone denied responsibility for the action of Oxford University. But the two transactions, taken together, produced the impression that the prime minister was too much inclined to evade the law. The chief measure of this session was the ballot bill, which the lords had rejected the previous year, and which they now passed with an amendment limiting its operation to 1880. Since that date it has been annually included without objection in the expiring laws continuance bill.
In the autumn of this year the government received a great accession of strength by the appointment of Sir Roundell Palmer to be lord chancellor, with the title of Lord Selborne, in the room of Lord Hatherley. Gladstone's principal utterance outside parliament was a powerful and eloquent address to the students of Liverpool College, in which he combated the sceptical theories of the time as embodied in Dr. Strauss's recent volume, ‘The Old Faith and the New.’
In 1873 Gladstone proceeded to deal with the third branch of the Irish question, and on 13 Feb., in an exhaustive speech of three hours, produced his Irish university bill. The difficulty was that the Irish catholics, with few exceptions, refused to let their sons matriculate at the protestant university of Dublin. The bill proposed to meet their scruples by forming a new university, of which Trinity College should be the centre, but which would contain also other affiliated colleges. The expenses of this university would be defrayed by annual grants of 12,000l. from Trinity College, and 10,000l. from the consolidated fund. The first council or governing body was to be appointed by parliament, but vacancies in it were to be filled by the crown. There were to be no religious tests, but, on the other hand, there were to be no chairs of theology, philosophy, or modern history, and no compulsory examinations in these subjects. Some extraordinary provisions, which came to be known as ‘the gagging clauses,’ imposed penalties upon any teacher who offended the religious convictions of his pupils. The reception of the bill, largely owing to the effect of Gladstone's eloquence, was favourable. But before the second reading, which was postponed for three weeks, serious difficulties arose. The catholic bishops of Ireland declared themselves dissatisfied with the measure, while English radicals, especially Fawcett, bitterly denounced the gagging clauses, and the restrictions upon the teaching of philosophy and history. Although Gladstone defended the bill with rare force and ingenuity, the second reading was rejected by three votes (287 to 284), and the government at once resigned (March).
The queen sent for Disraeli, who, however, refused to take office without a majority, and persisted in his refusal although the queen gave him the option of dissolving parliament. Gladstone contended that it was Disraeli's constitutional duty to accept office after defeating the government. Disraeli replied that there was no adequate cause for the resignation of ministers, and a controversial correspondence of much historical importance was carried on by the two statesmen, each of them addressing himself in form to the queen. In the end Disraeli had his way, and Gladstone resumed office with weakened credit. The Irish university question was settled for the time by the passing of Fawcett's bill abolishing religious tests in the university of Dublin. On (Sir) G. O. Trevelyan's annual motion for household suffrage in counties, Forster read a letter from the prime minister, who was prevented by illness from being present, pronouncing for the first time in favour of that reform, which he carried eleven years later.
During the autumn of 1873 several changes were made in the government. Lord Ripon retired on account of his health, and Henry Austin Bruce [q.v.] succeeded him as president of the council, with the title of Lord Aberdare. Lowe, who had rendered himself unpopular as chancellor of the exchequer, was transferred to the home office, and Gladstone himself took the chancellorship. His acceptance of this office raised a grave constitutional question, which was never finally decided. Before the Reform Act of 1867 the acceptance of any office of profit under the crown vacated the seat of the acceptor. By that act it was provided that a minister already holding such an office should not vacate his seat if he accepted another in lieu of it. It was clear, therefore, that Lowe did not vacate his seat on becoming home secretary instead of chancellor of the exchequer. But Gladstone took a new office without giving up an old one. He remained first lord of the treasury as well as chancellor of the exchequer, and eminent lawyers were of opinion that he had ceased to be member for Greenwich. He did not, however, take that view himself, and did not seek re-election. The question would have been raised when parliament met, and, according to Lord Selborne's ‘Posthumous Memoirs,’ it was one of the reasons for the sudden dissolution of January 1874. On the 24th of that month the public were startled to find in the newspapers a long address from Gladstone to his constituents, announcing that parliament would be dissolved on the 26th. His ostensible reasons for this step were, first, that since Disraeli's refusal of office there was not the proper constitutional check of a possible alternative government in that House of Commons; and, secondly, that by-elections did not show the confidence of the country in the ministers of the crown. Proceeding to deal with the income tax, he pointed out that Lowe had reduced it from sixpence to threepence, and he calculated that, with a surplus of five millions and a half, he would be able to abolish it altogether. He also offered a grant in aid of local rates, which the House of Commons had, by a majority of a hundred, voted for against him, and some reduction of the direct taxes. These promises would have more than exhausted the surplus; but Gladstone believed that the balance would have been provided by greater economy in the public service.
Disraeli at once replied to this manifesto in an address to the electors of Buckinghamshire, and carried the country with him. At the general election of 1874, the first under the ballot, the conservative majority was estimated at forty-six. But as this calculation combined Irish home rulers with British liberals, it underrated the conservative strength. Gladstone retained his seat for Greenwich, but was elected as junior colleague to (Sir) Thomas William Boord, the head of a local firm of distillers. Following the precedent set by Disraeli in 1868, the prime minister resigned office without meeting parliament, and his rival succeeded him.
At the beginning of the session, on 12 March, Gladstone wrote to Lord Granville, the leader of the liberal party in the House of Lords, intimating that he could not long remain at the head of the opposition, that he wished for comparative repose, and that if the party desired a chief who would attend more assiduously to the business of the House of Commons, he was quite ready to resign at once. He was, however, induced to defer his retirement for a time. During the session of 1874 the bill which interested Gladstone most was the public worship bill [see Tait, Archibald Campbell]. This was not a government measure. It was introduced into the House of Lords by Archbishop Tait, and was severely criticised by Lord Salisbury, then secretary of state for India. It was popular on both sides of the House of Commons, and Disraeli warmly supported it. Gladstone attacked the bill in a long, eloquent, and elaborate speech, which may be described as the case against Erastianism. He pleaded for reasonable liberty within the church. He gave notice of six resolutions, of which the most important was the last, to the effect that the government should consult representatives of the church before introducing ecclesiastical legislation. On this occasion Gladstone's party declined altogether to follow him. The bill was read a second time without a division, and the resolutions were never moved. In the final debates in the commons, Sir William Harcourt, always staunchly Erastian, disavowed the policy of his leader, and supported Disraeli. Gladstone replied to Sir William in a masterpiece of sarcastic irony, and Disraeli retorted upon Lord Salisbury in language seldom used to one member of a cabinet by another. The act did not succeed in its object.
During the parliamentary recess Gladstone published in the ‘Contemporary Review’ an essay on ritualism, in which he surprised every one by a trenchant attack on the church of Rome, declaring that no man could now enter her communion without placing his loyalty and civil allegiance at the mercy of another. This reference to the dogma of papal infallibility, which Pius IX had proclaimed four years before, elicited numerous replies from English catholics. Gladstone, dropping the subject of ritualism altogether, issued a special pamphlet on the Vatican decrees, in which he reiterated and supported his statements. To this pamphlet many answers from varied points of view were written, of which the most important were by Dr. Newman, Dr. Manning, and Lord Acton. Gladstone, in another pamphlet entitled ‘Vaticanism,’ expressed satisfaction at recent assurances from catholic laymen that they were as loyal subjects and as good patriots as any of their protestant fellow-citizens, and his pleasure at having called them forth. With that the discussion closed; but many Englishmen who were not catholics held that the matter was one with which protestants had no concern, and that a man who had been prime minister of England should abstain from attacking the church to which so many of her majesty's subjects belonged.
At the beginning of 1875 Gladstone, in another letter to Lord Granville, intimated that the time had now come when he must formally relinquish the leadership of the liberal party. His resignation was regretfully accepted, and Lord Hartington was chosen to succeed him. During the session of this year he was not much seen in the House of Commons.
Before the end of the session of 1876 there appeared in the ‘Daily News’ a series of letters describing horrible massacres and tortures which had been inflicted upon the inhabitants of Bulgaria by their Turkish rulers. The prime minister, when questioned on the subject, described these narratives as ‘coffee-house babble’ of no importance. Parliament rose on 15 Aug., and a few days afterwards appeared the official report of Mr. Walter Baring, second secretary of legation at Constantinople, who was commissioned by the British government to investigate the alleged outrages in Bulgaria. Mr. Baring confirmed the correspondents of the ‘Daily News.’ Gladstone was deeply stirred by these revelations, and on 6 Sept. published a pamphlet called ‘Bulgarian Horrors and the Question of the East,’ which had a rapid and general sale. In this he demanded that the officers of the Porte, from the lowest to the highest, should be cleared ‘bag and baggage’ out of the countries which they had desolated and destroyed. A few days afterwards, on the 9th, he addressed his constituents on Blackheath, and, after a denunciation of Turkey, declared it to be the duty of England to act with Russia in securing the independence of the sultan's Christian provinces. Disraeli, who had now become Lord Beaconsfield, replied to these arguments both at Aylesbury and again on lord mayor's day at the Guildhall. An attack on Turkey by Russia was imminent, and the close of Lord Beaconsfield's Guildhall speech suggested that England might resist Russia, and was well prepared for war. Liberals thereupon held a national conference at St. James's Hall to protest against any further support of the Turkish empire (8 Dec.). Gladstone spoke in the evening with careful moderation, but emphatically asserted that the English people would be content with nothing less than the strict fulfilment of those duties to the Christian subjects of the sultan which were the result of the Crimean war.
In 1876 appeared Gladstone's third book on Homer, ‘Homeric Synchronism,’ which is sufficiently described in its second title as ‘An Inquiry into the Time and Place of Homer in History.’
Early in 1877 Gladstone entered upon an active political campaign against the government's inclination to support Turkey. He attacked the government, at Frome, for failing to discharge their obligations; and at Taunton he made the first of those speeches on railway platforms which played afterwards so large a part in English politics. Parliament met on 8 Feb. 1877, and in the debate on the address Gladstone pronounced the eastern question to be, without exception, the most solemn which the House of Commons had ever had to discuss. On the 16th he drew attention to Lord Derby's despatch condemning the Bulgarian massacres, and asked what course the government intended to adopt. After Mr. Gathorne Hardy (subsequently earl of Cranbrook) had replied in a guarded manner to Gladstone's question, and the debate had proceeded in a rather humdrum fashion, Mr. Chaplin suddenly interposed with a personal attack upon Gladstone, accusing him of making charges against his opponents behind their backs. To give Gladstone an opportunity of replying, Mr. Chaplin moved the adjournment of the house. Gladstone at once rose to second the motion, and delivered off-hand one of the most amusing as well as one of the most effective replies ever heard in the House of Commons. At the end he took a serious tone, declaring that England was responsible for the power which Turkey had abused.
The real struggle came nearly three months later. The reason for Gladstone's unexpected mildness in parliament was that the liberal party were not agreed, and especially that their titular leader, Lord Hartington, did not go so far as Gladstone in zeal for the Christians of the east. Meanwhile, on 24 April, Russia declared war against Turkey. Gladstone gave notice that on 7 May he would move four resolutions defining his eastern policy, and a fifth combining them all in an address to the crown. The first of these resolutions was a censure of Turkey for not fulfilling her obligations. The second declared that she was entitled to neither moral nor material support from England. The third laid down the principle that the Christian subjects of the Porte were entitled to local liberty and practical self-government. The fourth defined the concert of Europe as the proper method for carrying these proposals into effect. These resolutions were too strong for the moderate liberals, and Sir John Lubbock (afterwards Lord Avebury) gave notice on their behalf that he would move the previous question, which it was understood Lord Hartington would support. But before the debate came on an arrangement was made. Gladstone agreed to move only the first of his resolutions, for which the whole liberal party were ready, with a slight verbal amendment, to vote. In bringing forward this motion, however, which he did in a great rhetorical effort, Gladstone contrived to argue on behalf of his whole policy. The debate, thus begun, lasted till 14 May, when Gladstone rose at midnight to reply and summed up the arguments on his side with singular power. He declared himself for the coercion of the Porte by united Europe, and it was the British government, he added, which had stood in the way of European unity. His motion was rejected by a majority of 131, which was very much in excess of what the government could ordinarily anticipate. Out of doors his popularity ran very high. In October he paid one of his rare visits to Ireland, where he was presented with the freedom of Dublin, and delivered a speech on the successful working of the Irish Land Act. In Ireland he said nothing about eastern affairs; but he dealt with them at Holyhead on his way back, and paid an eloquent tribute to the nonconformist churches for the help which they had given him in his efforts for the Christians of Bulgaria. On 15 Nov. he was chosen to be lord rector of Glasgow in succession to Lord Beaconsfield, his competitor being Sir Stafford Northcote.
Meanwhile the Russo-Turkish war had proceeded rapidly, and by the beginning of 1878 Turkey was at the feet of Russia. Parliament was summoned for 17 Jan., and the queen's speech announced that Turkey had asked for the mediation of the queen's government, which her majesty was not indisposed to offer. The government immediately ordered the Mediterranean fleet to Constantinople, with the ostensible object of protecting British subjects, and announced that they would ask the House of Commons for a vote of credit of 6,000,000l. on the 31st. The day before, Gladstone attended at Oxford, which he had not visited since his rejection by the university, the foundation of the Palmerston Club. Speaking at the inaugural dinner, he admitted that circumstances had driven him into a course of agitation for the last eighteen months, and confessed that during that period he had laboured day and night to ‘counter-work the purposes of Lord Beaconsfield.’ On the next evening, when the vote of credit was to have been proposed, before the speaker left the chair, Forster moved a preliminary amendment, declaring that there was no ground for taking steps which implied a possible extension of the war. Gladstone spoke to the amendment on the 4th, denouncing ‘prestige,’ in almost the same language used by Lord Salisbury eleven years before, as a hateful sham. Alluding to the proposal of a European conference, he protested against accompanying pacific negotiations with the clash of arms. On 7 Feb. Forster withdrew his amendment, after the mistaken announcement, on the authority of (Sir) Austen Henry Layard [q.v.], British ambassador at Constantinople, that the reported armistice between the two powers had not been signed, and that the Russian army was close to Constantinople. On 3 March the treaty of San Stefano between Russia and Turkey brought the war to an end. But the British government insisted upon its revision, under the treaty of Paris, by a conference of the powers, and to this course Russia ultimately consented. On 12 March Mr. Evelyn Ashley moved a vote of censure on Layard for having taken up an unfounded charge, made by a correspondent of the ‘Daily Telegraph,’ that Gladstone had been trying to stir up rebellion among the sultan's Greek subjects. Layard was proved to have made a sort of apology, and the motion was rejected by a majority of seventy-four, Gladstone taking no part in the debate.
On 28 March Lord Derby resigned office, on the decision of the government to call out the reserves and to occupy Cyprus, and was succeeded at the foreign office by Lord Salisbury, who on 1 April criticised, in a long and able despatch, the terms which Russia sought to impose on Turkey. On 8 April Gladstone commented strongly upon Lord Salisbury's despatch, which he described as substituting England for Europe. At this time his unpopularity in London, and especially in the House of Commons, was extreme. His house in Harley Street was attacked by a mob of political opponents, and he himself, with Mrs. Gladstone, was hustled in the streets.
On 16 April the House of Commons adjourned for a long Easter recess, after a positive assurance from Sir Stafford Northcote that the government contemplated no immediate change of policy. On the 17th it was announced that seven thousand Indian troops had been ordered to Malta. When parliament re-assembled the liberal leaders, including Gladstone, argued that this step was unconstitutional, and inconsistent with the Mutiny Act, which determined the number of the standing army. But the government were supported by large majorities in both houses.
On 13 June a European congress met at Berlin under the presidency of Prince Bismarck, the British representatives being Lord Beaconsfield, Lord Salisbury, and Lord Odo Russell (afterwards Lord Ampthill). While the congress was sitting the ‘Globe’ newspaper published a stolen copy of an agreement between England and Russia, defining, among other things, the limits within which independence should be given to part of Bulgaria. The treaty, signed on 30 May, was intended to be secret, but the understanding which it proved to exist between England and Russia strengthened the case of those who had urged that there was no ground for warlike preparations before the congress. A further agreement between England and Turkey furnished the text for a vigorous speech which Gladstone delivered at Bermondsey on 20 July. This convention provided that, in return for the cession of Cyprus and the usual promises of reform, England should protect the remaining territories of Turkey in Asia. Gladstone called it ‘an insane covenant.’
On 30 July the treaty of Berlin was brought before the house by Lord Hartington, who moved a resolution sarcastically described by Beaconsfield as ‘a series of congratulatory regrets.’ Lord Hartington asked the house to condemn the failure of the congress to satisfy the just claims of Greece, and to censure the government for having incurred a liability to defend the Asiatic dominions of the sultan. To this debate Gladstone contributed an elaborate and argumentative speech, unusually devoid of rhetoric, and devoted to an exhaustive analysis of what the treaty did and failed to do. None of his parliamentary speeches delivered in opposition show signs of having been more carefully prepared, and it is one of the few which he revised before it appeared in ‘Hansard.’ He began with a reference to the personal attack made upon him a few nights before by Beaconsfield at a dinner given in his honour in the Knightsbridge riding school. Beaconsfield had then charged Gladstone with indulgence in very gross personalities, and in particular as having described him as a dangerous and even devilish character. Gladstone at once wrote a letter, beginning ‘Dear Lord Beaconsfield,’ in which he asked for a specification of the time and place in which he had used such language, or any other of a personal as distinguished from a political kind. Beaconsfield replied in the third person that he was ‘much pressed with affairs,’ and unable to examine the speeches of two years. But he cited an instance in which some one, not Gladstone, had compared him, in Gladstone's presence, with Mephistopheles. Passing from this repulsive subject, as he called it, Gladstone proceeded to deal with the treaty, which he said had been described by its admirers as concentrating the Turkish empire. But the Slavs, who relied upon Russia, had got most, if not all, of what they wanted. He severely criticised the conduct of Beaconsfield and Lord Salisbury for having actively opposed at the congress the claims of Greece, which had been urged especially by the representatives of France. He attacked the government for abusing the prerogative of the crown to make treaties without the consent of parliament. The treaty of Berlin, he said, not having been ratified, was open to parliamentary disapproval. But the treaty of Berlin was good so far as it went, and no one desired to disavow it. The separate engagements between England and Turkey, which he and the opposition regarded as wholly bad, had been ratified, and were therefore beyond the power of parliament altogether. Lord Hartington's motion was, however, after a long debate, defeated by a majority of 143.
From the east of Europe Gladstone turned his attention to India. On 30 Nov. he delivered to his constituents a farewell address at Plumstead; he had determined not to contest Greenwich again. The greater part of this speech was an incisive indictment of Lord Lytton's policy of attacking the ameer of Afghanistan, which the cabinet approved and adopted [see Lytton, Edward Robert, first Earl Lytton]. The outbreak of the Afghan war made it necessary to call parliament together in the winter, and both houses met on 5 Dec. An amendment to the address, condemning the Afghan policy of the government, was moved by Mr. Whitbread on the 9th, and on the 10th Gladstone spoke. He quoted freely from the blue books presented by the government to show that the ameer had not, as was said, insulted either the British envoy or the Indian government. In a subsequent debate he protested against saddling the expenses of the Afghan war on the taxpayers of India. But the government were quite unassailable in the House of Commons, and their majorities suffered no appreciable diminution.
Gladstone's chief efforts in 1879 were made outside the walls of parliament. At the request of Lord Rosebery and other influential liberals, he agreed to contest the county of Midlothian against Lord Dalkeith, the eldest son of the Duke of Buccleuch. He at once entered on a political campaign of unsurpassed vigour and energy. He left Liverpool on 24 Nov., and from that date till 9 Dec., when he returned to Hawarden, there was scarcely a lawful day on which he did not deliver at least one speech; more often it was two or three. On 25 Nov., at a crowded meeting in the music hall at Edinburgh, he dwelt upon the danger of enlarging British responsibilities, and proclaimed that the real strength of the empire must always lie in the population of the United Kingdom. He again condemned the Afghan war. He denounced also the Zulu war [see Frere, Sir Bartle]. Criticising the annexation of the Transvaal, which had occurred in 1877, he contended that the people of Great Britain had been misled into supposing that the Boers wished to become British subjects. At Dalkeith, on the 26th, he expressed his belief in the principle of local option, and in a general extension of local government, so far as was compatible with the supremacy of parliament. Scottish disestablishment, he said, was a question for the people of Scotland themselves; he had no wish either to advance or to retard it. At West Calder, on the 27th, he returned to the subject of foreign politics, maintaining that the government had at the same time aggrandised and alienated Russia. His reception in Scotland was extraordinarily enthusiastic, and on one occasion he addressed as many as twenty thousand people in the Waverley market at Edinburgh. His campaign ended for the year at Glasgow, where, in an elaborate oration, he surveyed the whole foreign policy of the government. Laying particular stress upon the fundamental principle that large and small states should be treated with equal justice and forbearance, he protested strongly against the aggressive imperialism of the prime minister. At Glasgow he also delivered his address as lord rector of the university, and turning aside from politics, he impressed upon the students the superiority of knowledge to wealth as an object of human endeavour.
On 8 March 1880 it was announced in both houses that parliament would be dissolved immediately after the budget. On the 12th appeared Gladstone's address to the electors of Midlothian, in which he cast ridicule upon the prime minister's gloomy prophecies of impending danger in Ireland. On the 16th he left London for Edinburgh, addressing a crowd that had assembled at King's Cross, and speaking at every station where the train stopped. It was afterwards found that in each of these places there had been a liberal victory. On the 17th he delivered one of his finest speeches in the Edinburgh music hall. This speech contains Gladstone's clearest and fullest exposition of foreign policy in its general principles. He denied that if he and his party came into power they would repudiate the engagements of their predecessors, inasmuch as an international treaty bound future governments as much as the government which made it. He separated himself and the liberal party in general from the doctrines of the Manchester school and of peace at any price. He declared it to be a ‘noble error’ that the world could at present be governed without the risk of war. One allusion in this speech gave rise to rather serious consequences. Quoting from the ‘Standard’ the report of a conversation between the emperor of Austria and Sir Henry Elliot, the British ambassador at Vienna, in which the emperor was made to denounce him by name as an enemy of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, Gladstone denied that he was the enemy of any country. But he censured in strong language Austria's hostility to the freedom of her neighbours, and defied any one to put his finger upon any part of the map of Europe and say, ‘There Austria did good.’ On the 23rd, speaking at Pathhead, he recurred to the subject of Austria, expressed a fear that she might intend to enlarge her borders at the expense of the Balkan principalities, and invited her to disclaim all aggressive designs. On the 25th, at Penicuik, he referred to a contradiction by Sir Henry Elliot of the language attributed to the emperor, and once more challenged the Austrian government to disclaim any intention of going beyond the treaty of Berlin.
At Stow, on the 30th, he discussed the financial arrangements of the government, and, with special reference to the Afghan war, observed: ‘We do not know the worst.’ This remark received a startling verification; for on 6 May the public learned by telegraph from India that Sir John Strachey, the finance minister, had made an extraordinary blunder, and that the war would cost, not 6,000,000l. but 15,000,000l. At this election Gladstone made fifteen set speeches, without counting occasional addresses. Lord Hartington, however, made twenty-four. The pollings began on 31 March, and after the first day the final result was never doubtful. 349 liberals were returned, as against 243 conservatives and 60 home-rulers. Gladstone himself was successful in Midlothian, polling 1,579 votes against 1,368 given for Lord Dalkeith. He was at the same time placed at the head of the poll for Leeds, where, after he had elected to sit for Midlothian, he was succeeded by his youngest son, Mr. Herbert Gladstone. At this time the queen was abroad, and there was consequent delay in the change of government. Lord Beaconsfield, however, took the earliest opportunity of resigning, and on 22 April the queen sent for Lord Hartington. This was in accordance with constitutional usage, as Gladstone had retired from the liberal leadership five years before. Lord Hartington did not at once refuse to form a government, but, after an interview with Gladstone on the 22nd, when he returned from Windsor, he decided not to attempt it. On the 23rd he and Lord Granville saw the queen together, with the result that her majesty sent for Gladstone the same afternoon. He at once formed, without difficulty, a strong administration, becoming himself, as he had been in 1873, prime minister and chancellor of the exchequer. Lord Granville and Lord Hartington both took office under him, the former as foreign secretary, and the latter as secretary for India. In other respects the government much resembled that of 1868. Lord Selborne returned to the woolsack, and Bright, to whom official work was never congenial, became chancellor of the duchy. Lord Cardwell's health had failed, and Lowe retired to the House of Lords. Sir William Harcourt, who had been for a time solicitor-general, became home secretary; while Mr. Chamberlain, whose political association, commonly called the Birmingham caucus, had been of great practical value to the liberal party, entered a government and a cabinet for the first time as president of the board of trade. Of the other radicals, Fawcett was made postmaster-general, and Sir Charles Dilke under-secretary for foreign affairs. Mr. Goschen refused to join the government because he was not prepared to vote for the extension of the county franchise, and was sent as special ambassador to Constantinople. A good deal of feeling was excited among fanatical protestants by the appointment of one catholic, Lord Ripon, to be viceroy of India, and another, Lord Kenmare, to be lord chamberlain.
On 7 May the ‘Daily News’ announced that Lord Granville had sent a circular to the powers, urging a joint enforcement of the unfulfilled clauses in the treaty of Berlin, such as those which dealt with Montenegro, Greece, and Armenia. The object of Mr. Goschen's mission was to impress upon the sultan the duty of fulfilling these engagements. On 10 May there appeared a letter from Gladstone to Count Karolyi, the Austrian ambassador, intimating that he had obtained from Austria those assurances of fidelity to the treaty of Berlin which he had called upon her to give. In these circumstances, he said, it was not his intention to repeat or defend in argument language which he had used in a position of greater freedom and less responsibility. The last phrase was thenceforth part of the political vocabulary. The opposition bitterly denounced the letter as unworthy of a British minister. On 20 May the queen's speech was delivered. It contained a hope for the pacification of Afghanistan, an assertion of supremacy over the Transvaal, and an opinion that the ordinary law would be sufficient in Ireland. This meant that the Peace Preservation Act, which expired on 1 June, was not to be renewed.
On the 21st Gladstone, who had been re-elected without opposition after taking office, had his first experience of the perplexing case raised by Charles Bradlaugh [q.v.]. Lord Frederick Cavendish, secretary to the treasury, as representing the government, had moved that the case should be referred to a select committee. The committee reported, by a majority of one, that Bradlaugh had no right to affirm. Bradlaugh then came forward to take the oath. Sir Henry Drummond Wolff objected, and Gladstone successfully proposed the appointment of another committee, to consider whether the house had a right of interference with the discretion of a duly elected member. They reported that Bradlaugh was incapable of taking an oath, but recommended that he should be allowed to affirm at his own risk. On 22 June a motion to that effect, which Gladstone supported, was defeated by a majority of forty-five. On the 23rd, Bradlaugh again appeared to take the oath, which the speaker refused to administer to him, and he was allowed to be heard on his own behalf at the bar; when afterwards ordered to withdraw, he declined, and was taken into custody by the sergeant-at-arms. Gladstone refused to interfere. The house, he said, had rejected his advice, and the duty of proceeding further devolved upon the leader of the opposition. On 24 June Sir Stafford Northcote moved that Bradlaugh should be released. On 1 July the question was settled for the year by Gladstone's motion, which the house adopted, that any person claiming to affirm should be allowed to do so. Bradlaugh accordingly affirmed and took his seat, but his right was successfully challenged in the courts, and he did not sit without objection till the meeting of a new parliament in 1885.
On 10 June Gladstone, as chancellor of the exchequer, introduced a supplementary budget, Sir Stafford Northcote's budget having provided only for the early part of the year. It was the first time he had made the financial statement of the government for fourteen years. The principal feature of it was the unexpected repeal of the malt tax, for which conservative representatives of the farming interests had clamoured for many years, but which no conservative government had found itself able to touch. Gladstone substituted for it a duty on beer, and provided for the incidental loss to the revenue by putting another penny on the income tax, all hope of abolishing that tax having vanished. The budget was popular. The principal struggle of the session, after the case of Bradlaugh had been temporarily disposed of, arose out of the Irish compensation for disturbance bill, which Forster, the chief secretary, was compelled to introduce through the prevalence of severe distress in Ireland. The bill, which was originally a single clause in a general measure for the relief of Irish distress, gave compensation for disturbance to tenants evicted for not paying their rent, and therefore not within the Land Act of 1870. It was confined to cases arising out of the recent failure of the crops. Gladstone defended it as an exceptional measure required to maintain the principles of property. The second reading was carried by 295 votes against 217. The bill did not satisfy the home-rulers, who refused to vote for going into committee on it, and also abstained on the third reading. The bill was read a second time on 25 June, and a third time on 26 July. But Lord Beaconsfield strongly opposed it, and on 3 Aug. the House of Lords rejected it by 282 votes to 51.
During the autumn further efforts were made to carry out the treaty of Berlin. On 14 Sept. a naval demonstration, organised by all the great powers, was made off the coast of Albania, and on 26 Nov. Dulcigno was formally ceded by the Porte to Prince Nicholas of Montenegro. Meanwhile the state of Ireland was going from bad to worse. The government appointed an Irish land commission, of which Lord Bessborough was chairman, to inquire into the best means of amending the Irish Land Act, and they also took active steps against the promoters of resistance to the law. On 2 Nov. criminal informations were filed against Parnell and thirteen other leaders of the popular party. Their trial was fixed for 28 Dec. Meanwhile they took no notice of the prosecution, and continued to act as before. An Irish landlord, Lord Mountmorres, was brutally murdered, and no one was made amenable for the crime. There was a clamour in England for measures of repression, many meetings of the cabinet were held, and on 9 Nov. Gladstone, speaking at the lord mayor's dinner, declared in very emphatic language that the law would be enforced in Ireland at all costs.
The session of 1881, which dealt almost exclusively with Irish affairs, lasted from 7 Jan. to 27 Aug. The queen's speech announced that her majesty's forces would be withdrawn as soon as possible from Afghanistan, and that Candahar, which had been occupied by Lord Lytton, would not be permanently retained. It also promised a bill for the protection of property in Ireland, another for the protection of life, and a third for the reform of the land laws. Gladstone gave notice that as soon as the debate on the address was finished he should ask for precedence for the Irish coercion bills, to give them their popular name. Irish obstruction at once began. The debate on the address was prolonged for eleven nights, and was almost wholly devoted to Ireland. Subsequently Forster introduced his peace preservation bill, of which the principal feature was the absolute power of the lord-lieutenant to arrest any one reasonably suspected of sedition and detain him without trial, till 30 Sept. 1882, when the act would expire. This was a strange bill for a liberal government to bring in. But the state of Ireland was so serious that ministers were supported by the vast majority of the house. Opposition came only from the Irish home-rulers, and from a few independent radicals, such as Joseph Cowen, Mr. Labouchere, and Charles Russell (afterwards lord-chief-justice of England) [q.v.]. While these debates were in progress the trial of Parnell, Mr. Dillon, and the other state prisoners came to an end at Dublin. The jury were unable to agree, and the government did not put the defendants on their trial again. The Irish members endeavoured by physical endurance to prevent the coercion bill from being brought in. The knot seemed inextricable; it was cut by the decisive action of the speaker in putting the question [see Biggar, Joseph Gillis, Suppl.; Brand, Sir Henry Bouverie, Suppl.].
The first reading of the bill was carried by 164 to 19, and Gladstone at once gave notice of a motion for accelerating its further progress. This was that, at the suggestion of the speaker, supported by forty members rising in their places, public business might be declared urgent by a division without debate, and that thereupon the control of procedure should pass into the hands of the speaker for so long as he thought necessary. This resolution was to be moved on 3 Feb. But the Irish members were determined to prevent it from coming on. When Gladstone rose, Mr. Dillon, following an unfortunate precedent set by Gladstone himself (14 July 1880), moved that he should not be heard. He was at once suspended, and removed by the sergeant-at-arms. But the obstruction was continued by the thirty-five other home-rulers who were present, until, by half-past eight, they had all been turned out of the house. Then, at last, Gladstone was able to propose his resolution, with amendments, which he accepted from Sir Stafford Northcote, to the effect that a motion for urgency must be made by a minister, that it might be brought to an end by another motion, and that at least two hundred members must vote for it. In a speech, which Sir Stafford described as having enthralled the house, Gladstone said that his personal interest in the question was small. His lease was all but run out, but he implored the House of Commons not to allow itself to be made the laughing-stock of the world. The resolution was carried by 234 to 156. On 4 Feb. the speaker, acting upon it, laid certain rules upon the table, the chief of which enabled him to put the question whenever he thought fit. The Irish members, however, continued the struggle, and on 18 Feb. the speaker produced further rules, one of which contained the time limit, afterwards known as the gag. Taking advantage of this, Gladstone on 21 Feb. moved, and carried by an overwhelming majority, that the proceedings in committee on the bill should be brought to a close on the next day. But of the sixty-three members who voted against this thirteen were conservatives. The report of the bill was hastened in the same way, and on 24 Feb. it was read a third time, and passed the House of Lords in three days. Urgency was then applied to the arms bill, which prohibited for five years the carrying of weapons in proclaimed districts in Ireland, and gave the police the right of search for them. This bill, which was in the hands of Sir William Harcourt, had to be forced through the house by the same drastic methods as its predecessor.
Twice in this session Gladstone had occasion to deliver one of those obituary speeches in which he excelled. On 13 March Alexander II, emperor of Russia, was murdered in St. Petersburg, and on the 15th a vote of condolence with the imperial family was moved by Gladstone in the House of Commons. He paid an eloquent tribute to the memory of the sovereign who liberated the serfs. Lord Beaconsfield's death occurred on 19 April, and on 9 May Gladstone proposed that a national memorial should be erected to him in Westminster Abbey. His speech was a masterpiece of tact and taste. On 5 April Gladstone made his financial statement. But the days of his great budgets were over, and his proposals were tame. He had a surplus of rather more than a million. By means of this, and by substituting a probate duty of one and a half for a legacy duty of one per cent., he was enabled to take off the penny from the income tax which he had put on the year before. He also proposed a reduction of debt to the amount of sixty millions by turning short into long annuities. On 7 April the claims of Greece, for which Gladstone had pleaded so earnestly in opposition, were settled by the transfer to the Greek kingdom of Thessaly and part of Epirus.
On 22 April 1881 Gladstone was able to announce in the House of Commons the terms which had been made with the government of the Transvaal. So early as 16 Dec. 1880 the Boers had taken the most practical means of showing that they were not in favour of annexation by rising in armed rebellion, and proclaiming the South African Republic. On 21 Jan., during the debate on the address, Peter Rylands [q.v.] proposed an amendment condemning the annexation of the country. Gladstone objected to it as inopportune, and, as a matter of fact, negotiations were at that time proceeding through President Brand of the Orange Free State [see Brand, Sir Johannes Henricus, Suppl.]. While they were in progress came the defeat of Sir George Colley [q.v.] at Laings Nek and his death at Majuba. Sir Evelyn Wood, who succeeded to the command, assured the government that he was in sufficient strength to crush the rebellion. But the government refused to interrupt the negotiations on account of these disasters. On 6 March an armistice was concluded, and the war was not resumed. The conditions of peace, as explained by the prime minister, were that the suzerainty of the queen over the Transvaal should be maintained, and that the burghers should enjoy complete self-government; but that their foreign relations should be under British control, and that there should be a British resident at the capital. A royal commission was to determine the rights and provide for the protection of the natives. This settlement was bitterly attacked, both inside and outside parliament, as a cowardly surrender. Gladstone, however, defended it on the ground that to break off negotiations already begun on account of defeat would have been a useless, and therefore wicked, sacrifice of life.
On 7 April 1881 Gladstone introduced his second Irish land bill, which is perhaps the greatest of all his legislative achievements. He proposed to constitute a land court for the fixing of judicial rents. Either landlord or tenant could apply to the court; the rent, when fixed, was to last for fifteen years. There were to be three land commissioners, of whom one would have the status of a judge, and there were to be assistant commissioners for every county. If a tenant wished to purchase his holding, the commissioners were to advance three-fourths of the purchase money by way of loan, and there was to be an absolute parliamentary title. The bill led to the resignation of George Douglas Campbell, duke of Argyll [q.v.], who considered that his colleagues had departed from sound economic principles. He was succeeded in his office of privy seal by Chichester Samuel Fortescue, lord Carlingford [q.v.], a less brilliant but more useful minister. The second reading of the bill was moved in the House of Commons on 26 April, and the debate continued till 18 May, when it was carried by 352 to 176. Parnell and thirty-five of his followers abstained from voting, on the ground that the bill was inadequate, and they did much to delay the progress of the measure in committee. On 14 July Gladstone strongly denounced their obstructive tactics; but on the 30th the bill was read a third time.
In the House of Lords very serious alterations were made in committee, most of which the House of Commons refused to accept. Ultimately the lords gave way on almost all points excepting the clause, originally proposed by Parnell, for giving the benefit of the act to tenants already evicted. On 16 Aug. Gladstone abandoned this clause on the ground that Parnell himself attached little importance to it. The lords dropped most of their other amendments, and the bill became law.
During this autumn the disturbed state of Ireland, despite the working of the Peace Preservation Act and the Land Act, absorbed public attention. Speaking at Leeds on 7 Oct., Gladstone compared Parnell very unfavourably with O'Connell. But while denouncing Parnell's conduct, Gladstone complained that the loyal classes in Ireland were apathetic, and did not give the government the support which it had a right to expect. Five days afterwards, when receiving at the Guildhall the freedom of the city, Gladstone excited enthusiastic cheering by announcing that a warrant had been issued for the arrest of Parnell and his friends, Mr. Sexton and Mr. O'Kelly, on suspicion of treasonable practices. This warrant was executed on the 15th. The reply to this step was the issue from Kilmainham gaol by the captives of the ‘no rent’ manifesto, urging the Irish tenants not to pay their landlords anything until their champions were released and their arrears were wiped out. The same day the land league was suppressed by the proclamation of the lord-lieutenant as an illegal body, and the number of troops in Ireland was raised to twenty-five thousand. On 26 Oct. Gladstone addressed a liberal meeting at Liverpool, and charged the leaders of the land league with marching through rapine to the dismemberment of the empire.
Parliament met on 7 Feb. 1882. The Irish question was at once raised on the address by the amendment of Patrick James Smyth [q.v.] in favour of home rule. Gladstone surprised many of his supporters and many of his opponents by directing his arguments, not against the principle of home rule, but against its practicability under present conditions. No plan, he said, had been produced which would be workable under the British constitution and which would provide for the supremacy of the imperial parliament. Mr. Plunket (afterwards Lord Rathmore), replying on behalf of the opposition, described this speech as at least a partial surrender to the home-rulers, and said that Gladstone could no longer in consistency oppose the Irish demand for a parliamentary inquiry. This was on 9 Feb., and a week later Gladstone, in response to numerous challenges, protested that his views were unchanged, inasmuch as the question had always been for him how the supremacy of parliament could be preserved.
On 20 Feb. Gladstone proposed his resolutions for reforming the procedure of the house, of which the most important were the adoption of the closure and the appointment of standing committees as substitutes in certain cases for committees of the whole house. The debate had not proceeded far when it was interrupted by other matters.
Early in the session Lord Donoughmore carried, in the House of Lords against the government, the appointment of a select committee to inquire into the working of the Land Act. The cabinet refused to recognise the committee, and no ministerialist sat upon it. Gladstone took so strong a view of the conduct of the lords in seeking to interfere, as he put it, with the proceedings of a statutory tribunal that on 27 Feb. he moved in the House of Commons a protest against the appointment of the committee, which was really a vote of censure on the majority of the other house. He called upon the House of Commons to declare that such a proceeding was unconstitutional, and dangerous to the peace of Ireland. After a long debate his motion was carried on 9 March by 303 to 235. Meanwhile the committee had been appointed, and it continued to sit and take evidence. But it prudently abstained from asking the commissioners to explain their judicial decisions, and nothing practical came of it.
In Ireland the question of arrears became more urgent, and on 26 March, in a debate on Mr. Redmond's bill for amending the Land Act, Gladstone stated that while he could not consent, after so short an interval, to any general alteration of the law, the government were not indisposed to deal with the specific question of arrears which had been omitted from the act by the vote of the lords. A grave crisis occurred soon afterwards in Irish politics. On 28 April Lord Cowper, the lord-lieutenant, resigned on the ostensible ground of weak health. He was succeeded by Lord Spencer, who, unlike his predecessor, had a seat in the cabinet.
While the public were still speculating on the true reasons of this change, Gladstone announced on 3 May that Parnell and his colleagues had been released from custody, that an inquiry would be made into the cases of all persons detained on suspicion, and that, as a substitute for Forster's act, another bill would be introduced to strengthen the ordinary law. Forster resigned, and Lord Frederick Cavendish, Gladstone's intimate friend and nephew by marriage, was appointed to succeed him. On 5 May Forster explained the grounds of his resignation. He had been unable, he said, to concur in the opinion that the release of the suspected persons was justified, either by any satisfactory assurances from them or by the condition of Ireland. Gladstone, in reply, intimated that, in the opinion of the government, the peace of Ireland would be greatly furthered by an arrears bill, in which they might hope for the support of the Irish home-rulers. If that reconciliation could be effected, it would be unreasonable to detain in prison men who might help in carrying it out.
These sanguine expectations were doomed to a terrible disappointment. On 6 May Lord Frederick Cavendish [q.v.] and Thomas Henry Burke [q.v.], the under-secretary, were murdered in the Phenix Park. Forster made a chivalrous offer to return to Ireland and carry on the business of the castle, but this was not accepted, and (Sir) George Trevelyan became chief secretary. On 8 May the House of Commons at once adjourned after a few brief speeches, in which the representatives of all parties expressed their horror of the crime. Gladstone, speaking with an emotion which he hardly ever showed in public, deplored the loss of a man devoted to the best interests of Ireland.
On 11 May Gladstone attended the funeral of Lord Frederick Cavendish, near Chatsworth, and the same evening Sir William Harcourt introduced a very stringent bill for the prevention of crime in Ireland. As a set-off against this severe measure, which the home-rulers almost unanimously condemned, Gladstone, on 15 May, introduced his arrears bill. The object of this bill, confined to tenancies below the annual value of 30l., was to wipe out arrears of rent in Ireland altogether where the tenants were unable to pay them. The sum required for this purpose was estimated at 2,000,000l., of which Gladstone calculated that three-fourths could be obtained from the surplus of the Irish church, while the rest would have to come from the consolidated fund. But before this bill or the crimes bill could be seriously discussed, the opposition raised a debate upon what they called the treaty of Kilmainham. The opposition had insisted that Parnell's release was the result of a bargain by which he undertook henceforth to support the liberal party in parliament and to control outrages in Ireland. Correspondence, which it was insisted could bear this interpretation, had been produced. Mr. Balfour brought the whole subject before parliament by moving the adjournment of the house, and declared that the government had incurred indelible infamy. Gladstone gave a positive assurance that the prisoners had been released because, in the opinion of her majesty's ministers, there was no sufficient ground for detaining them further. He protested that there had been no bargain. An angry debate followed; but no division was taken, and the discussion was not renewed. The house then proceeded with the crimes bill, and sat, for the first time in thirty-six years, on Derby day. Mr. Dillon took this opportunity to make an elaborate defence of boycotting, in what Gladstone called ‘a heartbreaking speech.’ Gladstone described boycotting as combined intimidation by means of starvation and ruin. The sanction of it, he said, was ‘the murder which was not to be denounced.’ After the drastic application of ‘urgency’ rules, and the suspension of Irish members in a batch, on the ground that, according to (Sir) Lyon (afterwards Lord) Playfair [q.v.], the chairman of committees, they had been guilty of combined obstruction, the crimes bill was forced through committee early in July.
On the 7th of that month, at the stage of report, the government suffered defeat. Gladstone had promised Parnell in committee that he would not insist upon the clause which authorised the police to search dwelling-houses for arms at night. He accordingly proposed to omit it. Several liberals, including Mr. George Russell and Mr. F. W. Lambton, joined the conservatives in protesting against this concession, and the government were put in a minority of thirteen¾the Parnellites, for whom the concession was made, refusing to vote. Gladstone said that in ordinary circumstances the government would, after such a vote, have dropped the bill, but that the state of Ireland made such a course impossible. This was on a Friday; on Monday the prime minister announced that the government considered it the more manly course to remain at a post which no one was likely to envy them.
The arrears bill passed without much difficulty through the House of Commons, and the opposition did not divide against the second reading in the lords. But in committee Lord Salisbury, who had succeeded Beaconsfield as leader of the conservative peers, carried an amendment which made the bill voluntary, thus enabling every landlord to prevent its operation on his estate, and, in the opinion of the government, making it worthless. The House of Commons disagreed, and Lord Salisbury reluctantly gave way.
The affairs of Egypt came before parliament several times during the session, and Gladstone's Egyptian policy was severely criticised by some of his radical followers. But at that time Gladstone's power and influence were such that he could do almost anything he liked. During this summer the dual control of England and France in Egypt practically broke down, though it was not formally abolished till the following January. The authority of the Khedive Tewfik Pasha was threatened by a military movement under an adventurous soldier called Arabi Pasha. On 11 June there were fatal riots in Alexandria, and the British consul, (Sir) Charles Cookson, was wounded. A month later, after repeated warnings against the arming of the forts, which was considered a menace to the foreign, and especially the British, ships, Admiral Sir Frederick Beauchamp Seymour (afterwards Lord Alcester) [q.v.], bombarded the forts and destroyed them. This action on the part of the British government, in which the French Chamber would not allow the French government to assist, led to the resignation of Bright, who declared it to be a violation of the moral law. Gladstone, on the other hand, maintained that the rule of Arabi was a military tyranny, from which it was the duty of the British government, on account of their position in Egypt, to relieve the Egyptian people. Bright's place was filled by John George Dodson (afterwards Baron Monk-Bretton) [q.v.], and Sir Charles Dilke entered the cabinet for the first time as president of the local government board.
On 25 July the reserves were called out, and an expedition was sent, under Sir Garnet Wolseley, to restore order and the authority of the khedive. The rebellion of Arabi Pasha was crushed at Tel-el-Kebir, and Arabi himself was banished to Ceylon.
On 24 July Gladstone made his last appearance as chancellor of the exchequer, when he moved a vote of credit, on account of the Egyptian expedition, for 2,300,000l. In his ordinary budget, introduced on 24 April, he had proposed no financial charge, except an increase of the carriage duty to relieve the highway rates. He now raised the income tax from fivepence to sixpence-halfpenny, or to eightpence for the half-year, within which the whole of the increase was to be collected. This covered the vote of credit, to which the house agreed on 27 July, but which turned out to be a very small part of what interference in Egypt was to cost. On 18 Aug. the House of Commons adjourned till 24 Oct. for the purpose of dealing with Gladstone's further resolutions on procedure. These were not passed till 2 Dec., when parliament was at last prorogued. The first resolution, providing that closure must be voted by more than two hundred members, or if the minority were less than forty by more than one hundred, was not carried till 10 Nov. The most important of the other rules were those which established grand committees, and provided that opposed business could not be taken after half-past twelve.
After the prorogation several changes were made in the cabinet. Gladstone gave up the chancellorship of the exchequer to Hugh C. E. Childers [q.v.]; Lord Hartington became secretary for war; Lord Kimberley for India; and Lord Derby joined the liberal government for the first time as secretary of state for the colonies. On 1 Sept. Archbishop Tait died, and Gladstone gave satisfaction to his political opponents, as well as to his ecclesiastical friends, by nominating for the primacy Edward White Benson [q.v.], bishop of Truro.
The labours of this protracted session were too much even for Gladstone's strength. His health broke down for the time; he was ordered to the south of France, and though parliament did not meet in 1883 till 15 Feb., he was unable to be present at the opening of the session.
He returned, however, before Easter, and on 26 April, in the debate upon the second reading of the affirmation bill, he delivered one of his most eloquent speeches. The bill was a very simple one, for enabling any member of parliament to make an affirmation instead of taking an oath. But it was regarded as a Bradlaugh relief bill, and attacked with violence accordingly. Gladstone did not shrink from dealing with the purely religious aspect of the question, and the last part of his speech reads like a sermon. Quoting some magnificent lines of Lucretius, he argued that agnosticism and not atheism was the special danger of the time. In a peroration of singular beauty he implored the house not to connect the truths of religion with the sense of political and personal injustice. The bill, however, was on 3 May rejected by 292 votes against 289.
In September of this year Gladstone, accompanied by his old friend Tennyson, took a short trip on Sir Donald Currie's ship, the Pembroke Castle, to the north of Scotland, and afterwards to Copenhagen, where they met several royal personages, including the czar. At Kirkwall, where the prime minister and the poet laureate both received the freedom of the borough, Gladstone made a graceful speech, contrasting the perishable nature of the statesman's fame with the immortal renown of the great poet. One result of this voyage was the announcement in the following January that her majesty had conferred a peerage on Tennyson, the first poet who entered the House of Lords as such.
During 1883 the rising of the forces of the mahdi in the Soudan placed the Egyptian garrisons there in great danger. On 18 Jan. General Charles Gordon [q.v.], formerly governor-general of the Soudan, undertook, at the request of the British government, to effect their relief by peaceful means. He set out for Khartoum, accompanied only by his aide-de-camp, Colonel Stewart. On 12 Feb. it was announced that the Egyptian garrison at Sinkat had been cut to pieces by the mahdi's forces. On the same evening Sir Stafford Northcote rose to move a vote of censure on the Egyptian policy of the government. Gladstone's position was a difficult one. He defended himself on the double ground that the great source of evil in Egypt was the dual control which he had inherited from his predecessors, and that since the British occupation began valuable reforms had been carried out. There was to be no reconqest of the Soudan, but the garrison of Tokar was to be relieved from Suakim. The policy of the government was, in the phrase of Sir Wilfrid Lawson, to ‘rescue and retire.’ The motion was rejected by the narrow majority of eighteen, and a similar motion of censure in the House of Lords was carried by one hundred. A few days after the division came the news that Tokar had surrendered to the mahdi's general, Osman Digna. On 3 April Gladstone declared that Gordon had full authority to return whenever he thought proper, and denounced the plea for military intervention by England as merely made in the interests of the bondholders. Meanwhile the public became anxious about Gordon's fate, and on 12 May another vote of censure was moved, this time by Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, who complained that the government were doing nothing at all. Gladstone replied that Gordon had never asked for soldiers, and had started on the understanding that there was to be no invasion of the mahdi's territory. On this occasion both Forster and Mr. Goschen severely criticised the government, but the motion was rejected by a majority of twenty-eight. On 28 June a conference of the powers, with Lord Granville in the chair, met in London to arrange the finances of Egypt. But on 2 Aug. Gladstone had to tell the House of Commons that it had failed to arrive at any result, and on 11 Aug. Lord Northbrook was sent to examine the whole subject at Cairo.
On 27 Feb. 1884 Lord Derby concluded with President Kruger, and two other Boer delegates, the convention of London, which modified the convention of Pretoria in favour of the Transvaal. As regards the power and position of the queen in relation to the South African Republic the word ‘suzerainty’ was deliberately not employed, though the precise effect of the disuse of the term was afterwards disputed. It was provided that treaties between the Transvaal and all foreign powers except the Orange Free State should be subject to the approval of the British government. The policy of this convention did not come before the House of Commons till 30 July, when the debate turned chiefly upon the sufficiency of the protection exercised by the paramount power over the native tribes. Gladstone defended the settlement, and also the restoration of Cetewayo, which he described as the only possible amends for the iniquities of the Zulu war. The important questions which afterwards arose between the British government and the Boers were not then present to any one's mind.
The franchise bill, which was the principal work of this session of 1884, was introduced by Gladstone on 29 Feb. Although his speech lasted for two hours, and was a luminous exposition of the whole subject, the purport of the bill was extremely simple. It gave to householders and to lodgers in counties precisely the same suffrage enjoyed by the same classes in the boroughs. It also conferred a new right of voting, called the service franchise, on men who occupied houses and rooms in respect of their employment. Gladstone made a powerful appeal on behalf of the agricultural labourers who would be chiefly affected by the measure. The bill would, he calculated, enfranchise about two millions, raising the electorate from three millions to five. Dealing with the argument that the extension of the franchise should be accompanied by a redistribution of seats, he said that to take this course would overload the bill; but he admitted that franchise must be followed by redistribution. This was the point on which the conservative party, who did not oppose the principle of the bill, elected to fight. On the second reading, which was moved on 24 March, Lord John Manners (afterwards Duke of Rutland) proposed an amendment to the effect that the bill was incomplete without a readjustment of political power. The debate was a long one. Gladstone did not reply till 7 April, when he pledged himself to bring in, and, if he could, to carry, a redistribution bill before parliament was dissolved. The second reading of the bill was carried on the same night by a majority of 130, and after much discussion in committee the bill was read a third time without a division on 26 June.
In the House of Lords the struggle was renewed with more serious results. Lord Cairns, on 7 July, carried an amendment to the second reading, by 205 votes to 146, which had the effect of suspending the bill until a scheme of redistribution was introduced. The refusal of the lords to pass the bill excited much popular feeling, and a procession of agricultural labourers, who marched through the streets of London with hop-poles on 21 July, was received with sympathy. Gladstone announced to a meeting of his party, and to the House of Commons on 10 July, that parliament would be prorogued as soon as possible, and that the bill would be reintroduced in an autumn session. A subsequent endeavour to arrange for the present passage of the bill, on the understanding that the government would not dissolve until a redistribution bill had been passed, was unsuccessful. The prorogation of parliament put an end to the bill.
During the recess Gladstone paid a visit to his constituents, who received him, if possible, with greater enthusiasm than before. Speaking at Edinburgh on 30 Aug. he declared that the lords claimed to force a dissolution, a claim against which he protested. The next day he dealt with the Egyptian question, saying that it was honour and plighted faith which led to the occupation, as the government were bound to carry out even the unwise engagements of their predecessors. At this time the conflict between the two houses showed no signs of a peaceful solution. But compromise was in the air. While Gladstone was in Scotland he went to Balmoral, and was followed by the Duke of Richmond, who soon afterwards received a visit from Lord Salisbury and Lord Cairns.
On 8 Oct. there appeared in the ‘Standard’ what purported to be the ministerial plan of redistribution. The publication was surreptitious, and the authenticity of the document was denied. But it turned out to have been drawn up by a committee of the cabinet, and, though not a final scheme, it undoubtedly represented the general ideas of the government, and the knowledge of their intentions suggested a way out of the difficulty.
The second reading of the second franchise bill was moved on 6 Nov., when Colonel Stanley (afterwards sixteenth earl of Derby) repeated the amendment of Lord John Manners. Next day the bill was read a second time by a majority of 140; no amendments were made in committee, and by 13 Nov. it was back in the lords. On the 17th the terms of the arrangement, now seen to be inevitable, were announced by Gladstone and Granville. If the lords passed the franchise bill at once, the government would consult the leaders of the opposition upon the details of their redistribution bill before bringing it in, and would then proceed with it forthwith. On the 18th the lords read the bill a second time without a division; but the committee was postponed for a fortnight, to give time for the proposed consultation. In this the government were represented by Gladstone and Sir Charles Dilke; the opposition by Lord Salisbury and Sir Stafford Northcote. An agreement was soon made, and on 1 Dec. Gladstone, in a businesslike statement, explained the redistribution bill. All boroughs whose population was below fifteen thousand were to be merged in the counties. Boroughs whose population was under fifty thousand, and which had two members, were to lose one of them. London was to have thirty-seven additional members, though the city would lose two out of four. The total number of members was to be raised from 652 to 670, England receiving six of the additional eighteen, and Scotland twelve. The representation of Ireland was not to be touched. Boroughs and counties were to be divided into districts, each returning a single member, except the city of London and towns with a population between 50,000 and 165,000. A boundary commission was at once appointed, of which Sir John Lambert, secretary to the local government board, was chairman. On 4 Dec. this bill was read a second time in the House of Commons, and on the 6th the royal assent was given to the franchise bill.
The weakest point in Gladstone's second administration, and the one which led to their ultimate defeat, was their policy in Egypt, if indeed they can be said to have had an Egyptian policy at all. An expedition under Lord Wolseley had been sent, in the autumn of 1884, to rescue Gordon and relieve Khartoum. But on 5 Feb. 1885 the news reached London that Khartoum had fallen on 26 Jan. Lord Wolseley's expedition was just too late. The cabinet was immediately summoned, and seven thousand men ordered to Suakim. Parliament met on 19 Feb., and Gladstone announced that the power of the mahdi was to be overthrown at Khartoum. He went on, in language which made a painful impression even on his supporters, to argue that Gordon had not availed himself of the means of securing his personal safety which were open to him. He afterwards explained that he meant no reproach to Gordon, but was merely defending the government. On 24 Feb. Sir Stafford Northcote moved a vote of censure on the government for their failure to rescue Gordon, and Mr. John Morley proposed an amendment against the policy of overthrowing the mahdi. Gladstone was thus attacked simultaneously on both sides. In reply he pointed out that Gordon had never asked for British troops, and that he went to Khartoum on an entirely peaceful mission. As for the reconquest of the Soudan, he compared it to chaining the sands of the desert when the winds were howling over them. Acknowledging that the situation in Egypt was critical, he expressed a hope that they should not present to the world the spectacle of a disparaged government and a doubtful House of Commons. On 26 Feb. Sir Stafford Northcote's motion was rejected by the narrow majority of fourteen. The lords carried a vote of censure by 189 to 68. Gladstone said very little against Mr. Morley's amendment, which, indeed, the government, though it was defeated by a large majority, practically adopted. On 11 May Lord Hartington announced the abandonment of the Soudan to the mahdi.
Meanwhile the relations between England and Russia had become so unsatisfactory that on 26 March the reserves were called out, and within a month the two countries were on the brink of war. The difficulty arose about an Anglo-Russian commission which had been appointed to settle the boundary between Russia and Afghanistan. Sir Peter Lumsden, the British commissioner, waited for his Russian colleague, but the Russian colleague did not come. On 8 April Gladstone informed the House of Commons that it was true the Russians, under General Komaroff, had attacked an Afghan force and occupied Penjdeh, which was undoubtedly Afghan territory. This he described as an act of unprovoked aggression, and he admitted that the state of affairs was grave, though not hopeless. On 21 April he gave notice that he would ask for a vote of credit to the amount of eleven millions, of which four and a half would be for the Soudan. The remainder was intended for the navy in case of a European war. The prime minister moved this vote on 27 April in a speech which took the house by storm, and swept away all opposition. He dwelt on the country's obligations to the ameer, and upon the forbearance which had been shown in dealing with Russia. He closed an eloquent and powerful appeal to the patriotism of the house by declaring that, subject only to justice and to honour, he and his colleagues would continually labour for the purposes of peace. When he sat down the vote was at once agreed to amid general cheering. On 4 May Gladstone was able to state that Great Britain and Russia had accepted the arbitration of a friendly sovereign, who was afterwards announced to be the king of Denmark. But this arrangement was not carried out, and the matter was finally settled, after Gladstone left office, by direct negotiation.
Once more, and only once, Egypt came before this parliament. The financial mission of Lord Northbrook, the first lord of the admiralty, who had left England for Cairo in company with Lord Wolseley on 30 Aug. 1884, had resulted in complete failure, and the financial position of the Egyptian government was desperate. In these circumstances the powers jointly proposed a loan of 9,000,000l., and on 26 March 1885 Gladstone moved in the House of Commons a guarantee for the British share. He protested that the loan would give the powers no right of controlling Egypt, which, in a strictly political sense, was true. But objection was not unnaturally taken to the right of financial interference which it would involve, and the motion was only carried by a majority of forty-eight.
On 15 May, just before parliament separated for the Whitsuntide recess, Gladstone suddenly announced that the government would ask parliament to renew some ‘valuable and equitable’ provisions of the Irish Crimes Act. This dissatisfied the radicals, and Mr. John Morley gave notice that he would oppose any such measure. He had, however, no opportunity of doing so. The end of Gladstone's second administration was at hand. On 8 June Childers moved the second reading of the budget bill, which proved extremely unpopular. The expenditure of the country had run up, for the first time, to 100,000,000l. There was a deficit of 15,000,000l. The opposition attacked the budget in form. The particular points which they chose to assail, objection to which was embodied in an amendment to the second reading by Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, were the increased duties on beer and spirits, and the addition to the succession duty on land, which was not accompanied, as the conservatives argued it should have been, by a relief of local rates. The amendment was carried by 264 to 252, and the government at once resigned. Six liberals and thirty-nine home-rulers voted with the tories in this division, from which many liberals abstained. On 12 June, when Gladstone formally declared the resignation of himself and his colleagues, the redistribution bill, which had not been seriously altered in committee, was passed in the House of Lords, and thus the work of electoral reform was complete. On 13 June the queen, who was at Balmoral, sent for Lord Salisbury. Lord Salisbury objected to taking office in a minority without an assurance that the liberal party would not impede the remaining business of the session; and on this subject he had a long correspondence with Gladstone, through the queen, which was read by Gladstone in the house without comment on 24 June. It was impossible to dissolve parliament before November. Gladstone declined to give any specific undertaking of support to Lord Salisbury during that interval, but he declared that he had no intention or desire to harass the ministers of the crown. With this Lord Salisbury, at the earnest request of the queen, had to be content, and undertook to form an administration. The queen offered Gladstone an earldom, but this he respectfully declined; and on 29 June he wrote to his committee in Midlothian that he was prepared to contest the county once more.
Both sides had ample time to prepare for the general election, and it was not till 18 Sept. that Gladstone issued his address to his constituents. In this document, which was of unusual length, he dealt, in a spirit of singular moderation, with a great variety of subjects. He expressed a hope that it would be possible at an early date to withdraw British troops from Egypt; he supported the reform of the land laws; he pleaded for unity in the liberal party, and for the freedom of all sections who accepted its main principles to pursue their special objects. The disestablishment of the English church he relegated to ‘the dim and distant courses of the future.’ With regard to the Irish question he wrote: ‘In my opinion, not now for the first time delivered, the limit is clear within which any desires of Ireland, constitutionally ascertained, may, and beyond which they cannot, receive the assent of parliament. To maintain the supremacy of the crown, the unity of the empire, and all the authority of parliament necessary for the conservation of that unity, is the first duty of every representative of the people. Subject to this governing principle, every grant to portions of the country of enlarged powers for the management of their own affairs is, in my view, not a source of danger, but a means of averting it, and is in the nature of a new guarantee for increased cohesion, happiness, and strength.’ Gladstone's address was regarded by the radicals as disappointingly tame, and Mr. Chamberlain put forward more advanced proposals.
On 9 Nov. Gladstone started for his campaign in Scotland, where he again dwelt upon the need for liberal unity. Even in Scotland he disappointed many of his most ardent supporters by intimating that the time was not ripe for the disestablishment of the Scottish church. As for Ireland, he held that she was entitled to the utmost measure of local self-government consistent with the integrity of the United Kingdom. Parnell declared that this was the most important deliverance on Irish affairs which had hitherto come from any British statesman, and called upon Gladstone to say particularly what his plan of Irish self-government was. Speaking at West Calder on 17 Nov., Gladstone declined this challenge, saying that Ireland had not yet spoken, and that he awaited her verdict. On 21 Nov. appeared a manifesto from the Irish nationalist party, attacking the liberals in violent terms, and urging all Irish electors in Great Britain to vote against those who had coerced their country. On 23 Nov. Gladstone, turning aside, as he so readily did, from party politics, delivered an address upon the historical associations of Edinburgh, to which he had just presented a new market cross in place of the old one long since destroyed. On 27 Nov. the result of the Midlothian election was declared. Gladstone's majority surpassed expectation. He defeated (Sir) Charles Dalrymple, the conservative candidate, by more than two to one, the numbers being for Gladstone 7,879, for Dalrymple 3,245. But the English elections were not altogether favourable to the liberal party. The fall of Khartoum and the death of Gordon weighed heavily on the public mind, and they turned many votes against Gladstone. In the English boroughs, where the doctrine of ‘fair trade,’ which would have limited the policy of free exchange by confining it to our intercourse with countries that were not protectionist, found many supporters, and conservatives won in consequence many seats.
At Edinburgh on 9 Nov. Gladstone had called upon the country to return a liberal majority which would be strong enough to act against a combination of conservatives and Parnellites. Even liberals, he added, could not be trusted to deal fairly with the Irish question if it were in the power of the Irish members to turn them out at any moment.
The final result of the election was a new House of Commons composed of 335 liberals, 249 conservatives, and 86 followers of Parnell. Thus the conservatives and the Parnellites combined, as they had been combined at the general election, exactly balanced the liberal party in the house. Such a confused state of things had never existed before, and every possible form of speculation about the future was freely indulged in. But on 16 Dec. there appeared, simultaneously in the ‘Standard’ and the ‘Leeds Mercury,’ a paragraph to the effect that Gladstone had made up his mind to propose a scheme of home rule, with an Irish legislature sitting at Dublin, and an Irish executive responsible for Irish affairs. Gladstone at once telegraphed that this statement was published without his knowledge or authority. But no stronger or more direct denial was forthcoming.
This declaration of Gladstone's views on home rule, or what he called this speculation on them, took his former colleagues, most of whom he had not consulted, by surprise. Lord Hartington announced that he knew nothing about them, and Mr. Chamberlain spoke as if they were new to him. It afterwards turned out that, towards the end of December, Gladstone had, both in conversation and by letter, urged Lord Salisbury, through Mr. Balfour, to take up the Irish question, on the ground that it ought not to be made a subject of dispute between parties. Lord Salisbury acknowledged the communication, but deemed it undesirable to forestall the statement of policy which he had to make when parliament met. Gladstone remarked to Mr. Balfour that, unless the Irish problem were speedily solved, the party of violence and assassination would get the upper hand in Ireland. Parliament met on 12 Jan. 1886. On 21 Jan., speaking to the address, Gladstone declared that home rule was not a question of party, and, turning to the new members, he reminded them that, as an ‘old parliamentary hand,’ it would not be wise for him to make a premature disclosure of his plans. But he significantly added that the maintenance of the empire, though an excellent object, in which they were all agreed, was not enough to constitute a policy. The resignation of Lord Carnarvon, and the appointment of William Henry Smith [q.v.] to be chief secretary for Ireland, with a seat in the cabinet, were immediately followed by a notice from Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, leader of the House of Commons, that a bill would be introduced for the suppression of the national league. This notice, Gladstone afterwards said, convinced him that the conservatives would not deal with home rule, and that he must therefore take his own independent course. An opportunity for displacing the government followed immediately. On 26 Jan. Mr. Jesse Collings moved an amendment to the address in favour of giving local bodies compulsory power to obtain land for allotments. Gladstone spoke in support of the amendment, which was carried against the government by a majority of seventy-nine, of which seventy-four were home-rulers.
Lord Salisbury at once resigned, and on 1 Feb. the queen sent for Gladstone. A formidable split in the liberal party followed. Lord Hartington refused to join a government pledged to consider favourably the question of home rule, and his example was followed by Mr. Goschen and Sir Henry James. It was known that Bright and Lord Selborne were hostile to any material change in the act of union. On the other hand, Gladstone had the aid of Lord Spencer, lately lord-lieutenant of Ireland; of Sir Farrer Herschell, formerly solicitor-general, who became lord chancellor; of Lord Rosebery, whose appointment to the foreign office gave general satisfaction; of Lord Granville, who joined the cabinet as colonial secretary; and of Mr. John Morley, who became chief secretary for Ireland, with a seat in the cabinet, where Lord Aberdeen, the new lord-lieutenant, had no place.
Mr. Chamberlain, who entered the cabinet with some reluctance as president of the local government board, and (Sir) George Trevelyan, who was secretary for Scotland, soon resigned (26 March). Gladstone, in his address to his constituents, reiterated the necessity of preserving imperial unity, but urged at the same time that no half measures would suffice, and that, in dealing with Ireland, they must go to the source and seat of mischief.
On 8 April Gladstone brought in his home rule bill. He began by observing that, in the opinion of the cabinet, the question of home rule was closely connected with the question of the land, and that, but for the fear of overloading the measure, he would have dealt with them both at the same time. As it was, a land bill would almost immediately follow. He protested that he had no intention of repealing the union. He proposed to create a legislative body, which would sit in Dublin, for dealing with affairs exclusively Irish. The Irish representative peers would cease to sit in the House of Lords, and the Irish members would cease to sit in the House of Commons. Ireland would tax herself in all branches of taxation except customs and excise. The balance of customs and excise duties, after the discharge of Ireland's obligations to the British government, would be paid into the Irish exchequer. Certain powers would be reserved to the imperial parliament, affecting the crown, the army, the navy, and foreign or colonial relations. The Irish legislature would be expressly prohibited from endowing any religious body. In that legislature there would be two orders. The first order would consist of the twenty-eight representative peers, and seventy-five other members elected every ten years on a property franchise of 200l. a year. This body would have the right of delaying, but not of ultimately defeating, bills passed by the other and more strictly elective order. The second order would consist of the 103 Irish members now sitting at Westminster, and 101 others elected in the same way. The viceroy would hold office permanently, and the disability of catholics for the viceroyalty would be removed. The present judges would have the right of retiring on full pensions, and all civil servants in Ireland would have the same right after two years. The royal Irish constabulary, so long as it existed, would remain under imperial control, and one third of its cost would be supplied from the imperial exchequer. To the general expenditure of the United Kingdom Ireland would contribute a proportion of one in twenty-six. At the conclusion of his speech Gladstone referred to the complete success of home rule in the British colonies, and drew from that fact the inference that it would be equally successful in Ireland. The next day Mr. Chamberlain rose to explain the reasons for his resignation. But his speech was interrupted by Gladstone, when he attempted to deal with his objections to the land bill, which had not yet been introduced, and was known only to the cabinet. This was the first public altercation between Mr. Chamberlain and his former chief. The debate lasted till 13 April, when Gladstone replied. He then said that the exclusion of the Irish members, to which Mr. Chamberlain and other speakers had especially objected, as infringing the principle of no taxation without representation, was not vital to the bill. Meeting the argument that the country had given the government no ‘mandate’ for home rule, he retorted that there was equally no mandate for coercion. He maintained that his plan held the field, and that, though it had many enemies, it had no rival.
The bill was then read a first time without a division, and on 16 April Gladstone introduced the land purchase bill. This he described as the second portion of the ministerial scheme, and necessary for the maintenance of social order. England, he said, was responsible for the power of the Irish landlords, and for the mischief which some of them had done. It was therefore incumbent upon parliament to give them an opportunity of withdrawing from the country if they did not like home rule. Accordingly, those of them who desired it would be bought out. The Irish legislature would set up a state authority to be the instrument of purchase, and the requisite sum would be advanced through a three per cent. stock. All agricultural landlords would have the option of selling their estates, of which the occupiers would become the proprietors. But a tenant whose annual rent was less than 4l. would not be compelled to buy, and in the congested districts the proprietor would be the state authority. The terms would be twenty years' purchase on judicial rents. Where no judicial rents had been fixed, the prices would be settled by the land court. The amount of the stock to be immediately issued would be 50,000,000l., but it was possible that that sum might ultimately be more than doubled. The interest was to be collected by the state authority, and paid into the treasury through a receiver-general, who would be a British, not an Irish, officer. This bill also was read a first time without a division; but it went no further.
The debate on the second reading of the home rule bill began on 10 May, and was prolonged with intervals till 7 June. Gladstone, in moving that the bill be read a second time, intimated that he was not unwilling to reconsider the question of retaining the Irish members at Westminster, though he gave no hint of the manner in which this could be done. In a spirited peroration he declared that the path of boldness was the path of safety, and he called upon his opponents to say what they considered was the alternative to home rule. Lord Hartington moved the rejection of the bill in a powerful speech. It was assailed from both sides of the house, and, apart from Gladstone's own speeches, it was feebly defended, with the exception of a vigorous apology, in the classical sense of the term, from Mr. Morley. On 7 June Gladstone rose to reply. His speech was admitted both by friends and foes to be, from a rhetorical point of view, one of the finest he delivered. He began with an appeal to the history of Canada, which had been brought from active rebellion to enthusiastic loyalty by the concession of home rule. He predicted that, if this controversy were prolonged, the hideous features of the transactions by which the union was accomplished would inevitably be brought to light. He called upon the house to listen to the voice of Ireland, now for the first time clearly heard. He implored them not to strengthen the party of violence by rejecting her constitutional demands. When he sat down, the division was called, and the bill was rejected by a majority of thirty¾343 against 313. Ninety-three liberals voted against the bill.
On 8 June the cabinet decided to dissolve parliament. The queen objected to a second dissolution within seven months. But Gladstone persisted, holding that any other course would be ‘showing the white feather.’ The result was disastrous to home rule. There were returned at the general election 316 conservatives, seventy-eight liberal unionists¾as those liberals who left Gladstone called themselves¾191 liberals who adhered to him, and eighty-five Parnellites as before. This gave the conservatives and liberal unionists combined a working majority of 113. On 20 July Gladstone's cabinet resigned. The queen sent for Lord Salisbury, who, on the refusal of the liberal unionists to join him in office, formed a purely conservative ministry. All idea of retirement seemed to have vanished from Gladstone's mind. He had been returned without opposition for Midlothian, and he at once resumed the lead of the liberal party.
In August 1886 Gladstone went for a short holiday to Bavaria, and visited at Munich his venerable friend, Dr. Döllinger, the excommunicated leader of the old catholics. On the eve of his departure appeared an interesting pamphlet, in which he explained, among other things, how he came to take up home rule. The first part of it, called the ‘History of an Idea,’ was autobiographical. He had never, he wrote, publicly condemned home rule in principle, nor pronounced it to be at variance with the constitution. In the second part of his pamphlet, called ‘Lessons of the Elections,’ Gladstone analysed the position of the majority. He pointed out that, while the proportion of liberal unionists to liberals was among the peers five-sixths, it was among the working classes no more than one-twentieth. He showed that Ireland, Scotland, and Wales were all in favour of home rule, England alone being against it. Exaggerated apprehensions of the consequences to which the land purchase bill would lead were, he believed, the real cause of his defeat, and that bill was altogether dead. Finally, he contended that home rule was, in its essence, a conservative policy.
The year 1887 opened with an attempt to reconcile the conflicting elements of the liberal party, which came to be known as the round table conference. Gladstone, who had been favourably impressed by a recent speech of Mr. Chamberlain, wrote on 2 Jan. a public letter to Sir William Harcourt, in which he suggested that representatives of the home-rulers and liberal unionists might meet and endeavour to remove the causes of difference between them. A meeting followed, but nothing came of the consultation.
During the parliament of 1886-92, Gladstone, with apparently unabated energy, not merely pressed his Irish policy on the attention of the country by numberless speeches in and out of parliament, but in alliance with the Irish members of parliament he lost no opportunity of criticising with passionate ardour successive incidents in the efforts of the conservative government to secure law and order in Ireland by a rigorous administration of a new coercion law. When the Parnell commission relieved the Irish leader of the suspicion of writing letters, which the ‘Times’ had printed as his, condoning the Phenix Park murders [see Parnell, Charles Stewart; Pigott, Richard], Parnell was for a time a hero of the liberal party. On 22 May, at a meeting of the Women's Liberal Federation in the Grosvenor Gallery, Gladstone took the opportunity of publicly shaking hands with him.
On one important subject Gladstone found himself in 1889 at variance with many of his supporters. The maturity of Prince Albert Victor (afterwards Duke of Clarence) [q.v.], now twenty-four, and the approaching marriage of Princess Louise of Wales to the Duke of Fife, induced Queen Victoria to ask for an addition to the grants made by parliament for the maintenance of the royal family. A select committee, of which Gladstone was a member, was appointed by the House of Commons to consider the queen's message. In the committee Gladstone proposed, and the government agreed, that a quarterly payment of 9,000l. should be granted to the prince of Wales, that out of this he should provide for his own children, and that no further application should be made to parliament. When, on 25 July, W. H. Smith, as leader of the house, moved the adoption of this report, it was opposed by the radicals. Gladstone strongly supported the government, and, in an eloquent speech, rapturously applauded by the conservative party, pleaded for maintaining the British monarchy, not only with dignity, but with splendour. He carried with him the Irish vote. But the radicals went into the other lobby. On 26 July 1889 Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone celebrated their golden wedding. Perhaps the most interesting part of the anniversary was an affectionate letter to Mrs. Gladstone from the venerable Cardinal Manning, who had been estranged from her husband by the controversy over the Vatican decrees, but was a warm supporter of home rule for Ireland.
At the beginning of September 1889 Gladstone, always anxious to promote friendly relations with France, paid a week's visit to Paris with his wife. On the 7th he was entertained at dinner by a number of politicians, chiefly free-traders, and in response to the toast of his health, proposed by M. Léon Say, delivered in French a cordial speech on the natural links between the two countries. His presence and his remarks met with a warm welcome from the French press. At the end of the year Parnell spent some days as a guest at Hawarden.
During the spring and summer of 1890 the prospects of the liberal party were highly favourable. The by-elections were going against the government, and many conservatives were beginning to doubt the wisdom of Mr. Balfour's policy in Ireland. But in November there came a sudden change. Parnell had been made co-respondent in a divorce case, and on 17 Nov. judgment was given against him. On 22 Nov., after the annual meeting of the national liberal conference at Sheffield, Sir William Harcourt and Mr. Morley, who were present, informed Gladstone that, in the unanimous opinion of the liberal delegates, the continuance of Parnell at the head of the nationalist party would mean the abandonment of home rule by English liberals. On 24 Nov. Gladstone wrote a letter to Mr. Morley, which was to be shown to Parnell and to Mr. Justin McCarthy, but not to the other Irish nationalists, if Parnell voluntarily retired. Gladstone wrote that, if Parnell remained where he was, many friends of home rule would be estranged and Gladstone's own leadership would be made ‘almost a nullity.’ The letter was sent to Mr. McCarthy, who failed in his efforts to communicate with Parnell, and on the 25th, the day of the meeting of parliament, Parnell was unanimously re-elected chairman by his colleagues. At that date the terms of Gladstone's letter were not known to the Irish members. It was published immediately afterwards. On 29 Nov. Parnell replied in a manifesto, which informed the Irish people that he was being thrown to the ‘English wolves.’ He said that when he stayed at Hawarden in December 1889, Gladstone told him that under the next home rule bill the Irish members were to be reduced in number to thirty-four, and the imperial parliament was to have exclusive control over the question of Irish land. The judges and the police were also to be withdrawn from the jurisdiction of the Irish legislature. Parnell added that, on 10 Nov. 1890, he refused Mr. Morley's offer of the chief secretaryship for Ireland, and of a legal office under the crown, which it was resolved to confer on another Irish member. He declared that Irish nationalists were now independent of all English parties. Both Gladstone and Mr. Morley immediately denied altogether Parnell's statements in regard to their intercourse with him.
In consequence of Gladstone's letter a second meeting of the Irish party was held on 1 Dec. in committee-room 15 of the House of Commons, and Parnell was called upon to resign. He agreed to do so if Gladstone gave an assurance that Ireland should be allowed to manage her own police and legislate for her own land. Gladstone refused any pledge, but intimated that no home rule bill could be carried or ought to be proposed which did not meet with the general concurrence of the Irish people. Eventually a majority of those present, being forty-five, withdrew to another room, deposed Parnell from the leadership, and elected Mr. McCarthy as sessional chairman.
On 2 Oct. 1891 Gladstone attended the meeting of the National Liberal Federation at Newcastle, and gave his support to a series of proposed measures which was called the Newcastle programme, and for the next four years was the platform of the liberal party. Putting home rule first, he added to it the disestablishment of the Welsh and Scottish churches, local veto, one man one vote, the payment of election expenses from public funds, and the establishment of parish councils. He declared that if the House of Lords were to throw out a home rule bill passed by the House of Commons, it would become a dangerous power between the throne and the people.
The parliament of 1886 was dissolved on 29 June 1892. In view of the appeal to the country the London trades council came on a deputation to Gladstone on 16 June, and asked him to take up the question of a legal eight hours' day. Gladstone's reply was a refusal. He said that Ireland had the first claim upon him, and that he could not at his age embark upon great changes such as the deputation desired. He had striven his utmost for the working classes, and in proof of this proposition he said, ‘I appeal to my life.’ Gladstone's address contained no information about a future home rule bill, and is chiefly remarkable for having been written, as he said, in the sixty-fifth year of his political life, when he could not expect to face another general election. The day after it was written, 25 June, he went to Chester to speak at a liberal meeting. On his way he was struck in the eye with a hard piece of gingerbread, which gave him great pain and inflicted rather serious injury. The identity of the thrower, a woman, was discovered by the police, but Gladstone declined to prosecute her. In spite of the pain, he made his speech, and announced that if the lords threw out a home rule bill he should not regard it as a proper ground for dissolving parliament. On 30 June he spoke with all his old energy at the music hall in Edinburgh, and afterwards made a succession of speeches at Glasgow and elsewhere. But he did not satisfy public curiosity about his intentions, and the enthusiasm of Scotland for him was perceptibly diminished. His own majority in Midlothian sank from more than four thousand to less than seven hundred. His opponent was General Andrew Wauchope [q.v.]. The result of the election was the return of 355 liberals, including Irish nationalists, and of 315 conservatives, including liberal unionists, who suffered more severely than any other party. This gave a majority of forty for Gladstone and home rule. The government determined to meet the new parliament on 4 Aug.
On 8 Aug. the queen's speech was read, and Mr. Asquith's amendment of no confidence in the ministry was carried, on 11 Aug., by 350 votes against 310. Gladstone spoke on the second night of the debate, but declined to say what he would do if he were the head of the liberal government. He expressed, however, an opinion that the Coercion Act of 1887 should be repealed, and intimated that he should not resign office if the home rule bill were rejected by the House of Lords. In conclusion, he said that the question of Ireland was to him, personally, almost everything, and that he remained in public life to settle it. After the division the government at once resigned, and on 15 Aug. Gladstone accepted office as first lord of the treasury and lord privy seal.
Never was a government formed under greater difficulties than was Gladstone's third and last administration. The prime minister was eighty-two, and, though his strength was unabated, the infirmities of age were creeping upon him. His power of hearing was greatly diminished. The majority was entirely dependent upon the Irish vote, and the Irish party itself had not been reunited by the death of Mr. Parnell in October 1891. Some of the liberal leaders, including Lord Rosebery, returned to office with great reluctance. Gladstone strengthened his administration by including in it some younger liberals of promise. Mr. Asquith became home secretary; Mr. Arthur Acland, minister of education, with a seat in the cabinet; and Sir Edward Grey, under-secretary for foreign affairs.
On 24 Oct. Gladstone delivered the first Romanes lecture in the Sheldonian theatre in Oxford; his subject was mediæval universities. Two years before he had spent a week in rooms at All Souls', of which he had been elected honorary fellow in 1858, and he had addressed the Union Society on his favourite subject, Homer.
On 3 Dec. Gladstone received the freedom of Liverpool, his native town, and gave some picturesque recollections of Liverpool as he first knew it.
Parliament did not meet in 1893 till 31 Jan., after which it sat in every month throughout the year except October. Not till 13 Feb. did Gladstone find an opportunity to introduce his second home rule bill. It was substantially, though not in detail, the same as the first, with the important exception that the Irish members were for some purposes to have the power of voting in the imperial parliament. Their number was to be reduced from 103 to eighty, and they were not to vote upon any purely British question; but upon a proposal that an English or Scottish measure should be extended to Ireland they would still be entitled to do so. The opposition did not divide against the first reading of the bill.
On 6 April, when Gladstone moved the second reading, he gave what he called a summary, and his opponents called a caricature, of the assumptions upon which resistance to the bill was grounded. He protested against the hypothesis, which he declared to be contradicted by history, that Irishmen would not loyally carry out their obligations both to their own country and to Great Britain. In defending the financial clauses of the bill he gave it as his opinion that Ireland had long paid to the imperial exchequer a sum greatly in excess of her material resources as compared with those of England. In conclusion he said that, if this bill were rejected, the responsibility for the denial of justice to Ireland would lie upon the nation as a whole. The rejection of the bill was moved by Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, and the debate lasted till 21 April, when Gladstone replied upon the whole of it. While maintaining that his original strictures upon the land league in 1881 were justified by the excesses which it then countenanced, but had afterwards repudiated, he admitted that without the land league there would have been no Land Act. The second reading was carried by 347 votes to 304. On 8 May the discussion in committee began. Gladstone himself took personal charge of it, assisted by Mr. Morley as chief secretary, and by the law officers of the crown in England. The Irish law officers had no seats in the house. History records no more marvellous example of physical and mental vigour in a man of eighty-three. He scarcely ever left the house, he spoke on almost every amendment, and he developed resources of illustration as well as argument, which, if they did not always promote the rapid progress of the measure, excited the wonder of the house. Not many changes were made, though on 16 May the government accepted an amendment from Sir Henry (afterwards Lord) James, which expressly reserved the supremacy of the imperial parliament. But the bill was opposed with great pertinacity, and it became evident that without some change of procedure it could not be passed within the limits of an ordinary session. At length, on 28 June the prime minister announced that he would propose a motion for closure by compartments. On specific days, to be set forth in the resolution, the debate on fixed portions of the bill would come to an end, and at ten o'clock the chairman would, by order, proceed to put the remaining clauses of that portion from the chair. On the 29th the resolution was moved by Gladstone, who quoted in its favour the precedent of the Crimes Act passed by the same method in 1887. The motion was carried by a majority of thirty-two. On 12 July Gladstone made a concession to the majority of his English supporters by allowing the Irish members to vote, as at present, for all purposes whatsoever. But this was only carried by twenty-seven votes. It was not till 30 Aug. that the third reading was moved by Gladstone, who reminded the house that eighty-two days had been spent upon the bill, and maintained that, in spite of what was called the gag, all its cardinal principles had been discussed. The opposition to the third reading was led by Mr. Courtney. On 1 Sept. it finally passed the House of Commons by a majority of thirty-four, or nine less than had carried the second reading. In the House of Lords the second reading was moved on 5 Sept. by Lord Spencer. The Duke of Devonshire proposed its rejection, and on 8 Sept. it was rejected by an enormous majority. The contents were forty-one, the not-contents were 419. No step was taken by the government in consequence of this vote, and the House of Commons proceeded with the business of supply till 21 Sept., when it adjourned till 2 Nov. for an autumn sitting. On 27 Sept. Gladstone spoke at Edinburgh, and in mysterious language predicted that another session would not pass without seeing home rule again appear above the waves.
When the House of Commons met on 2 Nov. 1893, nothing more was heard of the Welsh church suspensory bill, which had been discussed in the earlier part of the year; but the house proceeded to take up the parish councils bill, which had only been introduced, and the employers' liability bill, which had passed through the standing committee on law. The parish councils bill was opposed in its later stages with great vehemence. The session had to be protracted over Christmas, and the bill was not sent to the House of Lords till 10 Jan. 1894. The house adjourned for only a few days at Christmas, meeting again on 27 Dec. On the 29th, an agreeable incident varied the course of polemical discussion. It was Gladstone's eighty-fourth birthday, and Mr. Balfour, on behalf of the conservative party, offered him congratulations, which he cordially acknowledged. Early in January Gladstone went for a short holiday to Biarritz, a favourite resort of his old age; and while he was there on 21 Jan. the ‘Pall Mall Gazette’ announced, apparently on authority, that the prime minister had determined to resign. There followed a carefully qualified contradiction, but not from Gladstone himself. In reply to inquiries, Sir Algernon West, an old friend and former secretary who was staying with him at Biarritz, sent a long telegram, in which he denied that the prime minister had formed any such intention. He remarked that Gladstone's eyesight was giving him trouble, which added considerably to the burdens of office. He was, in fact, suffering from cataract, for which he afterwards underwent a successful operation. Before his return to London in February a conflict between the two houses over Mr. Asquith's employers' liability bill produced a serious crisis. The House of Lords introduced a clause for conditional contracting out, to which they resolutely adhered. The consequence of the deadlock was the loss of the bill. Gladstone intended to move on 20 Feb. that the commons disagree with the lords' amendment, and to take a division. But the speaker ruled that, as the lords had adhered without modification to an amendment rejected by the commons, either the amendment must be accepted or the bill must be dropped. Gladstone could only move the withdrawal of the bill, and this impotent conclusion deprived his speech of much of its force, as it deprived the division of all meaning.
On 1 March, however, he returned to the subject, in connection with the parish councils bill, and took the opportunity of reviewing the whole history of the conflict between lords and commons. The lords had in committee so entirely altered this bill, which established district as well as parish councils, that it was hardly recognisable by its authors. The House of Commons refused to accept any important amendment made by the lords. Lord Salisbury was for fighting the matter out, even at the risk of losing the bill; but as the Duke of Devonshire and the liberal unionists declined to follow him he gave way. Most of the lords' amendments were abandoned, and they adhered only to two. One of these altered the size of the parish entitled to a council from two hundred to three hundred. The other left it with the charity commissioners to decide whether in each case a parish council should have control of charities. Rather than drop the bill, Gladstone yielded on these two points. But he added that, in his opinion, the relations between the two houses had become intolerably strained, and that the controversy must now go forward to its close. ‘For ourselves,’ he said, speaking for the cabinet, and amid the enthusiastic applause of his followers, ‘we take frankly, fully, and finally, the side of the House of Commons.’ This was his last speech, although his hearers were ignorant of the fact, and indeed his last appearance, in an assembly where he had sat with scarcely a break for more than sixty years. It is reasonable to infer that Gladstone would have appealed to the country against the lords at that time if he had been able to conduct a political campaign, and if he had been supported by his colleagues; but his physical powers were exhausted. The marvellous energy which he had displayed in the summer, when the home rule bill was before the house, deserted him when it had been disposed of, and the avenues of his senses, as he pathetically said, were closing.
On 3 March parliament was prorogued after an unexampled session of thirteen months, to meet again for a new one on the 12th. But it met with another prime minister. On the day of the prorogation Gladstone resigned, and the queen made no effort to retain his services. She at once sent for Lord Rosebery. Gladstone was not consulted upon the choice of his successor. The queen, in strict accordance with the constitutional principle laid down in 1846 by Sir Robert Peel, acted wholly upon her own initiative.
It is characteristic of Gladstone's mental energy and versatility that on the very day of his retirement he completed his translation of Horace's ‘Odes.’ Among the many attempts to perform an apparently impossible task, Gladstone's holds a high place. It is scholarly, lucid, and dignified. If it wants the lightness and ease which are part of Horace's inimitable charm, it shows a perfect appreciation of an author whose ideas, tastes, and thoughts were removed by an infinite distance from those of the translator.
Gladstone's involuntary retirement was received by all parties with respectful regret. Lord Salisbury said that the country had lost the most brilliant intellect ever devoted to the service of the state since parliamentary government began. Though Gladstone remained a member of parliament till the dissolution of 1895, he issued on 21 March 1894 his farewell address to the electors of Midlothian. In this he made a dignified appeal to the masses of the people, in whose hands, he said, political power now rested. And he warned them that they must be on their guard against the temptation to pursue their own selfish interests, which sometimes beset every portion of the community. He proclaimed his unalterable devotion to the cause of home rule, although his personal connection with it was at an end. Writing on 7 July to Sir John Cowan, the chairman of the Liberal Association for Midlothian, he announced his definite retirement from public life.
The subject which most interested him in his retirement was the persecution of the Armenian Christians by the sultan of Turkey. On 29 Dec. 1894, his eighty-fifth birthday, he received at Hawarden an Armenian deputation, and spoke with an eloquence worthy of his prime. Denouncing the recent massacres in Armenia by Kurds, at the instigation of the Porte, he warned the sultan that he was rushing on his own destruction.
On 14 June 1895 Gladstone went in Sir Donald Currie's ship, the Tantallon Castle, to Hamburg for the opening of the Baltic Canal, and, though not supposed to be a popular statesman in Germany, was received with great enthusiasm by the inhabitants. On 18 June it was announced in the ‘Times’ that he had cancelled his pair with Charles Pelham Villiers, the unionist member of parliament for South Wolverhampton. No authentic explanation of this step was given. But it was asserted, and not denied, that Gladstone considered the bill for the disestablishment of the Welsh church, then in committee, to be unduly harsh in some of its provisions.
After the dissolution of parliament on 8 July, Gladstone, who took no part in the general election, retired permanently to Hawarden, and occupied himself with the foundation of St. Deiniol's library, intended for theological students. In the deed by which he established the library, he expressed the opinion that theology should be studied in connection with history and philosophy. Its shelves therefore contain historical and philosophical books as well as works on divinity. He further explained that, though primarily intended for members of the church of England, he wished it to be open to other Christian churches, and even to those who were not Christians. But there is an honourable obligation upon all who avail themselves of it not to use it for merely secular purposes.
Even in his eighty-sixth year Gladstone was still alive to the calls of humanity. The continuance of the Armenian massacres drew him from his repose, and at Chester on 6 Aug. 1895 he addressed a public meeting called to express horror at the conduct of the sultan. The Duke of Westminster, an old political follower, who had been estranged from his chief by home rule, but who, like the Duke of Argyll, had been brought back to friendly alliance with him by this recent phase of the eastern question, was in the chair. Gladstone maintained that England had a right of interference under the treaty of Paris, and that by the Anglo-Turkish convention of 1878 England was not merely authorised, but bound, to protect the Asiatic subjects of the Porte. But moral considerations, he said, had no weight at Constantinople. He returned to the subject on 17 Dec. in a public letter which ironically described the six great powers of Europe as prostrating themselves at the feet of the impotent sultan.
In 1896 Gladstone took part in a curious discussion, which led to no practical result, upon the validity of Anglican orders. Leo XIII had issued an encyclical that was interpreted by Gladstone and others as implying an intention to inquire into the possibility of an English clergyman being recognised as a priest by the church of Rome. Impressed by the urbanity characteristic of the pope, Gladstone, in a letter to Cardinal Rampolla, the papal secretary of state, reviewed the history of the subject, and earnestly pleaded for a recognition which he thought might be a first step to the reunion of Christendom. This letter was published on 1 June by the archbishop of York, and astonished Gladstone's nonconformist admirers, who did not realise that, little as he cared for the establishment, he believed in the absolute necessity of a church. The earnestness and courtesy of the letter were universally admired. But ordinary protestants could not understand what the pope had to do with the church of England, while his holiness finally closed the discussion by intimating with great politeness that, for all Englishmen, clergymen and laity alike, the church of Rome kept an open door. But those who entered it must do so upon the terms laid down by the church, and not upon their own. Writing from Cannes in March 1897 Gladstone expressed his disappointment with a plainness and vigour which recalled the old days of the Vatican pamphlet.
On 26 June the prince of Wales was installed as chancellor of the new Welsh university at Aberystwyth. Among the recipients of honorary degrees were the princess of Wales, who received a degree in music, and Gladstone, who was greeted with the utmost enthusiasm by the Welsh audience.
At the end of August 1896 a general butchery, by order of the sultan, of the Armenian residents in Constantinople drew Gladstone once more into the political arena. On 24 Sept. he spoke with undiminished eloquence and power to a mass meeting of six thousand persons in Hengler's circus at Liverpool. The meeting was composed of both political parties, and the lord mayor, the Earl of Derby (a conservative), presided. Gladstone suggested that the British ambassador should be recalled from Constantinople, and that the Turkish ambassador in London should be given his passports. He followed up this speech by an article in the ‘Nineteenth Century’ for October, strongly urging that this country was under a moral obligation to intervene, and that if she did not discharge it, the word ‘honour’ should be dropped from the language. The speech and article had no visible effect upon the policy of Lord Salisbury's government, but they were among the reasons given by Lord Rosebery in his valedictory speech at Edinburgh for retiring from the leadership of the liberal party. Lord Rosebery intimated his dissent from Gladstone's proposals, which, if adopted, would, in his opinion, have led to a European war. This was on 8 Oct., and on the 19th, at a meeting in St. James's Hall, with the bishop of Rochester in the chair, a letter from Gladstone was read replying to Lord Rosebery, though not by name. Premising that he desired not to attack the government, but to strengthen Lord Salisbury's hands, he described the sultan as the great assassin, and announced as a ‘wild paradox’ the fear of war.
During 1896 there appeared in two instalments Gladstone's contribution towards the study of Bishop Butler, to whose dry and bracing philosophy he had been devoted since his Oxford days. Early in the year the Clarendon Press published his edition, in two volumes, of the ‘Analogy’ and the ‘Sermons,’ with brief explanatory notes, a rearrangement of the text in paragraphs, and a complete index, which must have been a work of enormous labour. Soon afterwards there came out an additional volume called ‘Studies subsidiary to the Works of Bishop Butler,’ in which Gladstone defended the bishop against some of his modern critics, and entered at large into modern speculations on the immortality of the soul.
In 1897, though his published utterances were almost entirely confined to the new phase of the eastern question, Gladstone spoke at Hawarden on 4 May in favour of the bishop of St. Asaph's diocesan fund. On 13 March, in a letter to the Duke of Westminster (subsequently published as a pamphlet), he paid an eloquent tribute to ‘the recent and marvellously gallant action of Greece’ in going to the assistance of Crete and declaring war on Turkey. Greece fell an easy prey to the superior discipline of the Turkish army, and on 21 Sept. Gladstone summed up the previous two years of eastern policy in the following words: ‘First, 100,000 Armenians slaughtered, with no security against repetition, and great profit to the Assassin. Secondly, Turkey stronger than at any time since the Crimean war. Thirdly, Greece weaker than at any time since she became a kingdom. Fourthly, all this due to the European Concert: that is, the mutual distrust and hatred of the Powers.’ Crete, however, was liberated from Turkey, and, after a period of government by European admirals, was placed under the control of a Christian administrator, Prince George of Greece.
Gladstone's speech at Queen's Ferry on 2 June, when the Victoria Jubilee Bridge was opened over the Dee, was the last he delivered. In the summer of 1897 he suffered very acute pain, supposed at first to be neuralgia, and in November he went again to Cannes. But he grew worse, and in February 1898 returned to England. At Bournemouth, on 18 March, the doctors told him that the pain was due to a disease which must soon prove fatal, and on the 22nd he returned to Hawarden a dying man. The remaining weeks of his life were spent chiefly in religious devotion, fortified by the rites of the English Church; and early in the morning of Ascension Day (May 19) he died. Among the innumerable messages which he received during his last illness was a unanimous vote of sympathy passed by the senate of Italy, the country to which, after the United Kingdom, his greatest services had been rendered. On the day of his death the House of Commons at once adjourned as a mark of respect to his memory. On 20 May an address was carried by both houses for a public funeral and national monument in Westminster Abbey. On this occasion speeches were delivered upon Gladstone's character and career by the leading members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The most interesting, because the most personal, was Lord Rosebery's. But Mr. Balfour's, which was read from manuscript, is careful, appreciative, and valuable to the historian. On 25 May Gladstone's body was brought from Hawarden to London, and the coffin was placed in Westminster Hall. During the 26th and 27th the hall was open to the public, an unbroken procession moved round the bier, and it was estimated that a quarter of a million people joined in it. On Saturday, 28 May, Gladstone was buried in the Abbey, and laid in ‘Statesmen's Corner,’ where the public pass daily over his grave. Mrs. Gladstone was present at the funeral, which was attended by both houses of parliament, though not in state. The queen was represented by the lord steward, the Earl of Pembroke. The pall-bearers were the Prince of Wales and his son the Duke of York; Lord Salisbury and Lord Kimberley, Mr. Balfour and Sir William Harcourt (the four leaders of the two houses); Lord Rosebery, his immediate successor in the premiership, and the Duke of Rutland, his former colleague in the representation of Newark; Lord Rendel and Mr. Armitstead, two of his most intimate friends. The queen, writing to Mrs. Gladstone, said: ‘I shall ever gratefully remember his devotion and zeal in all that concerned my personal welfare and that of my family.’ The ceremony was none the less impressive because, in obedience to Gladstone's wishes, it was conducted with the utmost simplicity and all possible avoidance of pomp.
Mrs. Gladstone survived her husband nearly two years, dying on 14 June 1900 at the age of eighty-seven; she was privately interred beside her husband's grave in Westminster Abbey. By her Gladstone was father of four sons and four daughters. The eldest son, William Henry Gladstone (1840-1891), who died seven years before his father, leaving issue, was M.P. for Chester from 1865 to 1868, for Whitby from 1868 to 1880, and for East Worcestershire from 1880 to 1885; he was junior lord of the treasury in his father's first ministry, 1869-74. The second son, Stephen Edward, was rector of Hawarden (1872-1904). The third son is Henry Neville Gladstone, and the fourth son, Herbert John, sat in parliament for Leeds from 1880, and became home secretary in the liberal ministry in 1905. The eldest daughter, Agnes, married Rev. E. C. Wickham, dean of Lincoln; the second daughter, Catherine, died in 1850, an infant; the third daughter, Mary, married in 1886 the Rev. Harry Drew; the fourth daughter, Helen, was vice-principal of Newnham College, Cambridge (1882-1896).
Gladstone was for the greater part of his life a frequent, though irregular, contributor to reviews and magazines. Most of these contributions, except such as were avowedly controversial or purely classical, he republished in seven volumes in 1879 under the title of ‘Gleanings from Past Years.’ An eighth and supplementary volume was printed in 1890. This collection of essays, ranging over forty years, and dealing with a great variety of subjects, contains much which is only interesting because Gladstone wrote it, some literary criticisms which have a permanent value, and a few constitutional essays of the highest possible importance. Several competent judges have expressed the opinion that Gladstone's article on Leopardi, in the ‘Quarterly Review’ for March 1850, is the high-water mark of his critical capacity. It is an interesting study of a strange, brilliant, and pathetic career. Gladstone was always an ardent admirer of Tennyson's poetry, and in October 1859, on the appearance of the ‘Idylls,’ he wrote for the ‘Quarterly Review’ a comprehensive survey of the poems which Tennyson had then published, including ‘The Princess,’ ‘In Memoriam,’ and ‘Maud.’ Although the general tone of the article was laudatory, and even enthusiastic, Gladstone protested against the glorification of war in ‘Maud.’ But he recognised the unfairness of attributing to an author opinions dramatically expressed, and in a note, added twenty years afterwards, he admitted that he had done less than justice to the poem. The ‘Quarterly Review’ for July 1876 contains from his pen the fullest, fairest, and most original estimate passed upon Sir George Trevelyan's ‘Life of Macaulay.’
Gladstone's constitutional essays consist of three articles upon three successive volumes of Sir Theodore Martin's ‘Life of the Prince Consort,’ and of one article in the ‘North American Review’ called ‘Kin beyond Sea.’ The first essay¾or the first chapter in what is really a prime minister's commentary upon the former half of the queen's reign¾appeared in the ‘Contemporary Review’ of June 1875, and was signed ‘Etonensis.’ In it Gladstone contrasted the present powers of the British monarchy with those which it had wielded in the past, and described the change as the substitution of influence for authority. When the second volume of Sir Theodore's book appeared, Gladstone wrote a notice of it in the ‘Church Quarterly Review’ for January 1877. Exactly a year later, in January 1878, Gladstone contributed to the same periodical a review of Sir Theodore Martin's third volume, in which he argued anew that the object of the Crimean war was to vindicate public law in Europe. He also enforced his views on public economy, pointing out that the panics due to fear of invasion had become greater with the progress of extravagance. In ‘Kin beyond Sea’ Gladstone compares the British and American constitutions, and insists that the cabinet, which constitutional historians ignore, is an essential element in the working of the constitution.
The best portrait of Gladstone was painted by Millais in 1879, and hangs in the National Gallery. It was sold by the first Duke of Westminster to Sir Charles Tennant, who gave it to the nation. Millais painted in 1885 a second portrait which is at Christ Church, Oxford. Other portraits and busts are very numerous. In 1833 he was painted by (Sir) George Hayter; in 1837 by W. Bradley; in 1840 by Joseph Severn; in 1843 by George Richmond (chalk drawing); in 1857 by Mr. G. F. Watts, R.A.; in 1880 by (Sir) W. B. Richmond; in 1887 by Frank Holl; in 1893 by Colin Forbes, a Canadian artist. A marble bust by Onslow Ford is in the National Liberal Club, as well as a bronze statuette by Bruce Joy. A portrait and a bust are at the Reform Club, London. A statue in Carrara marble, by Mr. F. W. Pomeroy, is in the central hall of the Houses of Parliament. Another statue was erected in 1900 in University Square, Athens. Shortly after Gladstone's death a committee was formed to commemorate him by the erection of other statues of him in the Strand, London, Edinburgh, and Dublin. The corporation of Dublin declined to accept the committee's offer.
Gladstone, though not tall, was above the middle height, broad-shouldered, but otherwise slight in figure, and muscular, with no superfluous flesh. He was gifted with an abundance of physical strength, and enjoyed throughout his life remarkably good health. His hair, in his youth and the prime of his manhood, was black. His complexion was pale, almost pallid, and an artist compared it to alabaster. His eyes were large, lustrous, and piercing; not quite black, but resembling agate in colour. His face, always handsome, acquired in old age an expression of singular dignity, majesty, and power. His voice, naturally musical and melodious, gained by practice an almost unexampled range of compass and variety. His manners were courteous, even ceremonious, and to women habitually deferential. He was punctilious on the matter of social precedence, and would not go out of the room before a peer of his own creation. Bishops, and indeed all clergymen, he treated with peculiar respect. His temper, though quick, and as he himself said ‘vulnerable,’ was in private life almost invariably under perfect control. In parliament he sometimes gave way to indignation, for his wrath was kindled by public causes, and not by anything petty or personal. His talk was copious, lucid, and full of phrases which stamped themselves upon the memory. He was earnest and eager in argument, tenacious of his proposition, but ready to hear anything which could be said against it. Hard to convince at the time, he often came round afterwards to the view of an opponent, and would then make the admission with the utmost candour. He was a good listener as well as a good talker, and he had the instantaneous rapidity of perception supposed to be characteristic of great lawyers. His range of study, though it excluded physical science, was very wide, and his acquaintance with a subject was hardly ever superficial. He used to say that he had not a good verbal memory; but he was seldom guilty of a misquotation, and he retained in his mind with accuracy an enormous number of facts. No scholar in Europe had a more thorough knowledge of Homer, and few, even of Italians, were so well versed in Dante. He was an acute and learned theologian. The defect of his conversation was that he could not help being earnest on all subjects, and failed to see that his views on the making of violins were less interesting than his experience of government by cabinet. In combined breadth and subtlety of intellect no statesman of his own age surpassed him. He was equally at home in drawing up a great measure like the Irish Land Act of 1881, and in refining upon the point whether the retention of the Irish members with home rule was a principle or an ‘organic detail.’ Sometimes his subtlety led him to draw sophistical distinctions. His minute and punctilious scrupulosity in the smallest things often led to charges of equivocation, and the very completeness with which he defended himself against them produced a vague sense of distrust. Though he was himself the best abused man in England, his own judgments were uniformly charitable, and he was seldom heard to say anything harsh of a political opponent in private. It has sometimes been alleged that Gladstone had no humour. Such a broad and unqualified statement is certainly false. Irony is a form of humour, and of irony he was a master. But it is true that his sense of humour was fitful and capricious. Many forms of it did not appeal to him. With all his love of poetry he had a literal mind, and was too apt to assume that people meant exactly what they said. Two of Gladstone's speeches may be mentioned which, read in cold blood at a great distance of time, would make anybody laugh. One is his satirical description of Lord Palmerston's attitude to reform in 1859. The other is his reply to Mr. Chaplin's personal attack in 1877. Gladstone's favourite form of recreation was turning from one kind of mental employment to another. He was an omnivorous reader of ancient and modern languages, prose and poetry, history and biography, sermons and novels. In the ‘Temple of Peace,’ as he called his ample library at Hawarden, he was always happy. As a young man he rode and shot, though he never became a sportsman. He cared little for games. Chess he thought too serious for an amusement, but he sometimes played whist with concentration. His favourite pastime of cutting down trees was begun in the woods of Clumber, which he inspected as the Duke of Newcastle's trustee. Till after seventy he was a great walker, and no stretch, however long, seemed to tire him. Wordsworth's plain living and high thinking was Gladstone's standard. His father left him a sufficient fortune, which exempted him from the necessity of adopting any other profession than politics. Hawarden Castle, his Welsh home, belonged to his wife's brother, Sir Stephen Richard Glynne, and, after Sir Stephen died unmarried in 1874, to Mrs. Gladstone for her life. His habits were simple and domestic. He was a regular church-goer, even on weekdays, and on Sundays he usually read the lessons. He was frugal without being abstemious, but against luxury and ostentation he set his face. He spent a large proportion of his income on books, and gave away a still larger one in charity. But he had enough of the commercial spirit to drive a good bargain, and was in all respects an excellent man of business. He was not, however, in the ordinary sense, a man of the world. He approached moral questions rather as a clergyman than as a layman, and in dealing with individuals he wanted the tact which he displayed in dealing with assemblies. He had a bad memory for faces, and he did not always pay the personal attention which political followers of the less elevated kind expect. His power was over masses; and no one quite knows what he was who has not heard him address a great public meeting. Even in the House of Commons, though he almost always delighted it, and at times roused it to such enthusiasm as no one else could elicit, he often provoked antagonism which he might have avoided. He could not, as Disraeli said that Peel could, play upon the house like an old fiddle. Having entered public life a tory, and left it a radical, Gladstone was naturally accused of being an ‘opportunist,’ or, in plain English, a time-server. Such an accusation is inconsistent with his character, except on the hypothesis that he was a conscious and deliberate hypocrite. It has been rather more plausibly contended that he had no fixed principles in politics. But, independently of other considerations, this theory ignores economy and finance, in which he never substantially changed. He was always in favour of peace and retrenchment. He had to be converted to reform. The great plunge of his life, the sudden, or seemingly sudden, adoption of home rule, he himself explained. By arguments which to him were satisfactory, but which drew upon him the shaft of Lowell's wit (‘lifelong convictions to extemporise’), he showed that his opinions forced him to become a home-ruler when five-sixths of the Irish people were so, and home rule could be given to Ireland without endangering the unity of the empire. Whether it would endanger that unity was the great question, and there can be no doubt that Gladstone sincerely held it would not. The charge of precipitation is, from his point of view, not a charge at all. Lord Randolph Churchill's phrase, ‘an old man in a hurry,’ was rough and rude in form, but in substance it was neither unfair nor untrue. Gladstone himself confessed that he had been in a hurry for forty years. Gladstone thought that a great national emergency calling for prompt action had arisen, and that he at seventy-six must cope with it. He could not have expected that he would live to be eighty-eight. There was at least one sphere in which Gladstone's mind did not fluctuate. From the straight line of orthodox Christianity he never swerved by the breadth of a hair. The Christian religion guided every day and every act of his life. He was, as Lord Salisbury said after his death, ‘a great Christian man.’ As an orator Gladstone's only contemporary rival was John Bright. But it is difficult to compare them. Gladstone was always speaking, and usually had to speak, whether he liked it or not. Bright could choose his own subject and his own time. Bright's style was simpler, and his English purer, than Gladstone's; but his range was much narrower, he seldom argued, and he never debated. Gladstone was great in parliament, great on a platform, great even in those occasional addresses on miscellaneous topics which are apt to drive the most paradoxical into platitude. There was no audience which he could not charm, none to which he did not instinctively adapt himself. His fault as an orator was a tendency to diffusiveness, and in particular the employment of two words where one would do. But when he was pressed for time, no one could be terser, and his speeches of close reasoning or of pure exposition scarcely contain a superfluous syllable. His oratorical method and arrangement were borrowed from Peel. The fire, the energy, the enthusiasm, the fusion of reason and passion, the intense and glowing mind, were all his own.
As a financier Gladstone can only be compared with Walpole, Pitt, and Peel. Walpole's great speech on the peerage bill and Gladstone's speech on the taxation of charities have been coupled as the best examples of abstract reasoning addressed to the House of Commons. Gladstone's first financial statement, made in 1853, shows that he had carefully studied the principles of Pitt's financial legislation. He was the pupil and disciple of Sir Robert Peel, whose labours in promoting the freedom of commerce he continued and completed. His intellectual supremacy was never more fully shown than in framing and carrying the budgets of 1853, 1860, and 1861. Gladstone's principal fault as a statesman was that, with the two exceptions of Italian independence and the rescue of eastern Christians from the rule of the Porte, he paid no continuous attention to foreign affairs. He trusted too much to his friend Lord Granville, who, though able and tactful, was dilatory and procrastinating. A critic, even a friendly critic, might say of Gladstone that he tried to do too many things at a time. From 1886 to 1894 home rule absorbed him, and he considered almost every subject as it affected that great issue. But at other times, even when he was prime minister, he occupied his scanty leisure with art, with theological speculations, with literature, with historical research, and with practical philanthropy. In his zeal to reclaim the fallen and to console the wretched he did what no man of the world would have dared to do without fear of misconstruction, or even of scandal. Indeed, he did not know what fear was. As Lord Rosebery said of him, he was the bravest of the brave. During his second government he was in serious danger of assassination. But the only thing which troubled and annoyed him was the discovery that he was under the special protection of the police. When his doctor told him, in 1894, that he had cataract, he desired him to operate then and there, that he might resume as soon as possible ‘the great gift of working vision.’ He loved popularity, having come to believe¾more and more as he advanced in years¾that the instincts of the people were, on broad questions, right, and their judgment in the long run sound. But in 1878 he set himself deliberately against a wave of public enthusiasm which he thought mistaken, with the result that he was hardly safe in the streets of London. No English statesman has been more fervently adored or more intensely hated than Gladstone. Even his religion was set down by some as the basest hypocrisy. But his personal enemies, as distinguished from his political opponents, were men who did not know him. Of his personal friends, at different periods of his life, the most conspicuous were Arthur Hallam, Alfred Tennyson, Samuel Wilberforce, and John (Viscount) Morley. Gladstone cannot be called ‘happy in the occasion of his death.’ The cause on which he bestowed the last years of his health and strength was submerged; the party which he had led was shattered in pieces. Peel broke up his party, but he carried free trade. Gladstone did not live to carry home rule. The list of his legislative achievements stops at 1885. He was a demagogue in the proper sense of the term, a true leader of the people. He exhorted them always to employ the political freedom which he had helped to give them, less for their own material advancement than for the highest interests of mankind.
A full Life of Gladstone, by his friend John Morley (Viscount Morley of Blackburn), appeared in 1903 (3 vols.), while a supplementary account of his religious life was written by D. C. Lathbury in 1909, of which a first sketch appeared in the series of Leaders of the Church, 1907. The present memoir was issued separately in a somewhat enlarged form in 1901. Gladstone made contributions to an autobiography in A Chapter of Autobiography, 1868 (an apologia for his policy of Irish disestablishment), in the History of an Idea, 1886 (an explanation of his policy of Home Rule), and in Personal Recollections of A. H. Hallam (a description of his schooldays), which appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 5 Jan. 1898. Useful compilations are Mr. A. F. Robbins's Early Public Life of Gladstone, 1894; Mr. G. Barnett-Smith's Life, 2 vols., 1879; and Mr. G. W. E. Russell's Life in the Queen's Prime Ministers Series, 1891 (4th edit. 1898). Sir Edward Hamilton's Mr. Gladstone, a monograph (1898), and Mr. Sydney Buxton's Mr. Gladstone as Chancellor of the Exchequer: a study (1901), are both of value. A popular Life was edited by Sir Wemyss Reid in 1899. Slighter sketches are Mr. H. W. Lucy's Mr. Gladstone, a Study from Life, 1895, and Mr. Justin McCarthy's Story of Mr. Gladstone's Life, 1897. Mr. Lionel Tollemache's Talks with Mr. Gladstone, 1898, deals with the latest period. Mr. H. W. Lucy supplies useful information in Diaries of Parliament from 1874 to 1895, especially in his Diary of the Home Rule Parliament 1892-5. Hostile comments include Archdeacon Denison's Mr. Gladstone, 1885, and Mr. L. J. Jennings's Mr. Gladstone, a Study, 1887. The cartoons from Punch in which Gladstone figured were reissued with an explanatory narrative (3 vols.), 1898-9. The fullest materials for Gladstone's biography are in the Annual Registers and in Hansard from 1832 to 1895. There is no complete collection of his speeches outside the parliamentary reports; one projected in 1888 in ten volumes ceased after the production of two. Queen Victoria's Letters 1837-61 (2 vols. 1907) are useful. Most of the political memoirs of the period abound in references to Gladstone, viz. the Greville Memoirs; Letters and Papers of Sir Robert Peel; Spencer Walpole's Life of Lord John Russell; Ashley's Life of Palmerston; Lord Selborne's Memorials; Lord Malmesbury's Memoirs of an Ex-Minister; Sir Wemyss Reid's Life of Lord Houghton, 1890; Andrew Lang's Life of Sir Stafford Northcote, first earl of Iddesleigh; Sir Algernon West's Recollections; Lord Fitzmaurice's Life of Lord Granville, 1905. See also James Brinsley Richards's Seven Years at Eton (1883), chap. xxiv.; Memoirs of Charles Wordsworth, Bishop of St. Andrews; and the Lives of Tennyson, Archbishops Tait and Benson. A bibliography of Gladstone's publications and contributions to periodicals appears in Notes and Queries, 8th ser. vols. ii. and iii. 1893. The entries under Gladstone's name in British Museum Catalogue fill thirty pages.
Contributor: H. W. P. [Herbert Woodfield Paul]