The Grand Old Man
Richard B. Cook

Part 1 out of 6

Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Charlie Kirschner,
Tom Allen, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.



Life and Public Services


The Right Honorable William Ewart


Four Times

Prime Minister of England


Richard B. Cook, D.D.


William E. Gladstone was cosmopolitan. The Premier of the British Empire
is ever a prominent personage, but he has stood above them all. For more
than half a century he has been the active advocate of liberty, morality
and religion, and of movements that had for their object the prosperity,
advancement and happiness of men. In all this he has been upright,
disinterested and conscientious in word and deed. He has proved himself
to be the world's champion of human rights. For these reasons he has
endeared himself to all men wherever civilization has advanced to
enlighten and to elevate in this wide world.

With the closing of the 19th century the world is approaching a crisis
in which every nation is involved. For a time the map of the world
might as well be rolled up. Great questions that have agitated one or
more nations have convulsed the whole earth because steam and
electricity have annihilated time and space. Questions that have sprung
up between England and Africa, France and Prussia, China and Japan,
Russia and China, Turkey and Armenia, Greece and Turkey, Spain and
America have proved international and have moved all nations. The daily
proceedings of Congress at Washington are discussed in Japan.

In these times of turning and overturning, of discontent and unrest, of
greed and war, when the needs of the nations most demand men of
world-wide renown, of great experience in government and diplomacy, and
of firm hold upon the confidence of the people; such men as, for
example, Gladstone, Salisbury, Bismark, Crispi and Li Hung Chang, who
have led the mighty advance of civilization, are passing away. Upon
younger men falls the heavy burden of the world, and the solution of the
mighty problems of this climax of the most momentous of all centuries.

However, the Record of these illustrious lives remains to us for
guidance and inspiration. History is the biography of great men. The
lamp of history is the beacon light of many lives. The biography of
William E. Gladstone is the history, not only of the English
Parliament, but of the progress of civilization in the earth for the
whole period of his public life. With the life of Mr. Gladstone in his
hand, the student of history or the young statesman has a light to guide
him and to help him solve those intricate problems now perplexing the
nations, and upon the right solution of which depends Christian
civilization--the liberties, progress, prosperity and happiness of the
human race.

Hence, the life and public services of the Grand Old Man cannot fail to
be of intense interest to all, particularly to the English, because he
has repeatedly occupied the highest position under the sovereign of
England, to the Irish whether Protestant or Catholic, north or south,
because of his advocacy of (Reforms) for Ireland; to the Scotch because
of his Scottish descent; to the German because he reminds them of their
own great chancellor, the Unifier of Germany, Prince Bismarck; and to
the American because he was ever the champion of freedom; and as there
has been erected in Westminster Abbey a tablet to the memory of Lord
Howe, so will the American people enshrine in their hearts, among the
greatest of the great, the memory of William Ewart Gladstone.

"In youth a student and in eld a sage;
Lover of freedom; of mankind the friend;
Noble in aim from childhood to the end;
Great is thy mark upon historic page."























[Illustration: Gladstone entering Palace Yard, Westminster.]

"In thought, word and deed,
How throughout all thy warfare thou wast pure,
I find it easy to believe."

List of Illustrations.

WILLIAM E. GLADSTONE (_Frontispiece_)




























































There are few, even among those who differed from him, who would deny to
Mr. Gladstone the title of a great statesman: and in order to appreciate
his wonderful career, it is necessary to realize the condition of the
world of thought, manners and works at the time when he entered
public life.

In medicine there was no chloroform; in art the sun had not been
enlisted in portraiture; railways were just struggling into existence;
the electric telegraph was unknown; gas was an unfashionable light;
postage was dear, and newspapers were taxed.

In literature, Scott had just died; Carlyle was awaiting the publication
of his first characteristic book; Tennyson was regarded as worthy of
hope because of his juvenile poems; Macaulay was simply a brilliant
young man who had written some stirring verse and splendid prose; the
Brontės were schoolgirls; Thackeray was dreaming of becoming an artist;
Dickens had not written a line of fiction; Browning and George Eliot
were yet to come.

In theology, Newman was just emerging from evangelicalism; Pusey was an
Oxford tutor; Samuel Wilberforce a village curate; Henry Manning a young
graduate; and Darwin was commencing that series of investigations which
revolutionized the popular conception of created things.

Princess, afterwards Queen Victoria, was a girl of thirteen; Cobden a
young calico printer; Bright a younger cotton spinner; Palmerston was
regarded as a man-about-town, and Disraeli as a brilliant and eccentric
novelist with parliamentary ambition. The future Marquis of Salisbury
and Prime Minister of Great Britain was an infant scarcely out of arms;
Lord Rosebery, (Mr. Gladstone's successor in the Liberal Premiership),
Lord Spencer, Lord Herschell, Mr. John Morley, Mr. Campbell-Bannerman,
Mr. Asquith, Mr. Brice, Mr. Acland and Mr. Arnold Morley, or more than
half the members of his latest cabinet remained to be born; as did also
the Duke of Devonshire, Mr. Balfour and Mr. Chamberlain, among those who
were his keenest opponents toward the end of his public career.

At last the end of Mr. Gladstone's public life arrived, but it had been
extended to an age greater than that at which any English statesman had
ever conducted the government of his country.

Of the significance of the life of this great man, it would be
superfluous to speak. The story will signally fail of its purpose if it
does not carry its own moral with it. We can best conclude these
introductory remarks by applying to the subject of the following pages,
some words which he applied a generation ago to others:

In the sphere of common experience we see some human beings live and
die, and furnish by their life no special lessons visible to man, but
only that general teaching in elementary and simple forms which is
derivable from every particle of human histories. Others there have
been, who, from the times when their young lives first, as it were,
peeped over the horizon, seemed at once to--

"'Flame in the forehead of the evening sky,'"
--Whose lengthening years have been but one growing
splendor, and who at last--
"------Leave a lofty name,
A light, a landmark on the cliffs of fame."



All history, says Emerson, "resolves itself into the biographies of a
few stout and earnest persons." These remarks find exemplification in
the life of William Ewart Gladstone, of whom they are pre-eminently
true. His recorded life, from the early period of his graduation to his
fourth premiership, would embrace in every important respect not only
the history of the British Empire, but very largely the international
events of every nation of the world for more than half a century.

William Ewart Gladstone, M.P., D.C.L., statesman, orator and scholar,
was born December 27, 1809, in Liverpool, England. The house in which he
was born, number 62 Rodney Street, a commodious and imposing
"double-fronted" dwelling of red brick, is still standing. In the
neighborhood of the Rodney Street house, and a few years before or after
the birth of William E. Gladstone, a number of distinguished persons
were born, among them William Roscoe, the writer and philanthropist,
John Gibson, the sculptor, Doctor Bickersteth, the late Bishop of Ripon,
Mrs. Hemans, the poetess, and Doctor James Martineau, Professor of
Mental and Moral Philosophy in Manchester New College, and the brother
of Harriet Martineau, the authoress.

The Gladstone family, or Gledstanes, which was the original family name,
was of Scottish origin. The derivation of the name is obvious enough to
any one familiar with the ancestral home. A _gled_ is a hawk, and that
fierce and beautiful bird would have found its natural refuge among the
_stanes_, or rocks, of the craggy moorlands which surround the
"fortalice of gledstanes." As far back as 1296 Herbert de Gledstane
figures in the Ragman Roll as one of the lairds who swore fealty to
Edward I. His descendants for generations held knightly rank, and bore
their part in the adventurous life of the Border. The chief stock was
settled at Liberton, in the upper part of Clydesdale. It was a family of
Scottish lairds, holding large estates in the sixteenth century. The
estate dwindled, and in the beginning of the seventeenth century passed
out of their hands, except the adjacent property of Authurshiel, which
remained in their possession for a hundred years longer. A younger
branch of the family--the son of the last of the Gledstanes of
Arthurshiel--after many generations, came to dwell at Biggar, in
Lanarkshire, where he conducted the business of a "maltster," or
grain merchant.

Here, and at about this time, the name was changed to Gladstones, and a
grandson of the maltster of Biggar, Thomas Gladstones, settled in Leith
and there became a "corn-merchant." He was born at Mid Toftcombs, in
1732, and married Helen Neilson, of Springfield. His aptitude for
business was so great that he was enabled to make ample provision for a
large family of sixteen children. His son, John Gladstone, was the
father of William E. Gladstone, the subject of our sketch.

Some have ascribed to Mr. Gladstone an illustrious, even a royal
ancestry, through his father's marriage. He met and married a lovely,
cultured and pious woman of Dingwall, in Orkney, the daughter of Andrew
Robertson, Provost of Dingwall, named Ann Robertson, whom the
unimpeachable Sir Bernard Burke supplied with a pedigree from Henry III,
king of England, and Robert Bruce, of Bannockburn, king of Scotland, so
that it is royal English and Scottish blood that runs in the veins of
Mr. Gladstone.

"This alleged illustrious pedigree," says E.B. Smith, in his elaborate
work on William E. Gladstone, "is thus traced: Lady Jane Beaufort, who
was a descendant of Henry III, married James I, of Scotland, who was a
descendant of Bruce. From this alliance it is said that the steps can be
followed clearly down to the father of Miss Robertson. A Scottish writer
upon genealogy, also referring to this matter, states that Mr. Gladstone
is descended on the mother's side from the ancient Mackenzie of Kintail,
through whom is introduced the blood of the Bruce, of the ancient Kings
of Man, and of the Lords of the Isles and Earls of Ross; also from the
Munros of Fowlis, and the Robertsons of Strowan and Athole. What was of
more consequence to the Gladstones of recent generations, however, than
royal blood, was the fact that by their energy and honorable enterprise
they carved their own fortunes, and rose to positions of public esteem
and eminence." It has been their pride that they sprang from the ranks
of the middle classes, from which have come so many of the great men of
England eminent in political and military life.

In an address delivered at the Liverpool Collegiate Institute, December
21, 1872, Sir John Gladstone said; "I know not why the commerce of
England should not have its old families rejoicing to be connected with
commerce from generation to generation. It has been so in other
countries; I trust it may be so in this country. I think it is a subject
of sorrow, and almost of scandal, when those families who have either
acquired or recovered wealth and station through commerce, turn their
backs upon it and seem to be ashamed of it. It certainly is not so with
my brother or with me. His sons are treading in his steps, and one of my
sons, I rejoice to say, is treading in the steps of my father and
my brother."

George W.E. Russell, in his admirable biography of Mr. William E.
Gladstone, says, "Sir John Gladstone was a pure Scotchman, a lowlander
by birth and descent. Provost Robertson belonged to the Clan Donachie,
and by this marriage the robust and business-like qualities of the
Lowlander were blended with the poetic imagination, the sensibility and
fire of the Gael."

An interesting story is told, showing how Sir John Gladstone, the father
of William E. Gladstone, came to live in Liverpool, and enter upon his
great business career, and where he became a merchant prince. Born at
Leith in 1763, he in due time entered his father's business, where he
served until he was twenty-one years old. At that time his father sent
him to Liverpool to dispose of a cargo of grain, belonging to him, which
had arrived at that port. His demeanor and business qualities so
impressed Mr. Corrie, a grain merchant of that place, that he urged his
father to let him settle there. Consent was obtained and young Gladstone
entered the house of Corrie & Company as a clerk. His tact and
shrewdness were soon manifest, and he was eventually taken into the firm
as a partner, and the name of the house became Corrie, Gladstone
& Bradshaw.

John Gladstone on one occasion proved the temporary preserver of the
firm of which he had become a member. He was sent to America to buy
grain for the firm, in a time of great scarcity in Europe, owing to the
failure of the crops, but he found the condition of things the same in
America. There was no grain to be had. While in great perplexity as to
what to do he received advices from Liverpool that twenty-four vessels
had been dispatched for the grain he was expected to purchase, to bring
it to Europe. The prospect was that these vessels would have to return
to Europe empty as they had come, and the house of Corrie & Company be
involved thereby in ruin. It was then that John Gladstone rose to the
emergency of the occasion, and by his enterprise and energy saved
himself and partners from financial failure, to the great surprise and
admiration of the merchants of Liverpool. It was in this way: He made a
thorough examination of the American markets for articles of commerce
that could be sold in Europe to advantage, and filling his vessels with
them sent them home. This sagacious movement not only saved his house,
but gave him a name and place among the foremost merchants of his day.
His name was also a synonym for push and integrity, not only on the
Liverpool exchange, but in London and throughout all England. The
business of the firm became very great and the wealth of its members
very large.

During the war with Napoleon, on the continent, and the war of 1812 with
the United States, the commerce of England, as mistress of the seas, was
injured, and the Gladstone firm suffered greatly and was among the first
to seek peace, for its own sake and in the interests of trade. In one
year the commerce of Liverpool declined to the amount of 140,000 tons,
which was about one-fourth of the entire trade, and there was a decrease
of more than $100,000 in the dock-dues of that port. John Gladstone was
among those who successfully petitioned the British government for a
change of its suicidal policy towards the American States.

After sixteen years of successful operations, during a part of which
time it had been government agent, the firm was dissolved and its
business was continued by John Gladstone. His six brothers having
followed him from Leith to Liverpool, he took into partnership with him
his brother Robert. Their business became very extensive, having a large
trade with Russia, and as sugar importers and West India merchants. John
Gladstone was the chairman of the West India Association and took an
active part in the improvement and enlargement of the docks of
Liverpool. In 1814, when the monopoly of the East India Company was
broken and the trade of India and China thrown open to competition, the
firm of John Gladstone & Company was the first to send a private vessel
to Calcutta.

John Gladstone was a public-spirited man and took great interest in the
welfare of his adopted city. He was ever ready to labor for its
prosperity, and consequently endeared himself to the people of all
classes and conditions, and of every shade of political opinion.

The high estimation in which he was held by the citizens of Liverpool
was especially manifest October 18, 1824, when they presented him with a
testimonial, consisting of a magnificent service of plate, of
twenty-eight pieces, and bearing the following inscription: "_To John
Gladstone, Esq., M.P., this service of plate was presented MDCCCXXIV, by
his fellow townsmen and friends, to mark their high sense of his
successful exertions for the promotion of trade and commerce, and in
acknowledgment of his most important services rendered to the town of

John Gladstone, though devoted to commerce, had time for literary
pursuits. He wrote a pamphlet, "On the Present State of Slavery in the
British West Indies and in the United States of America; and on the
Importation of Sugar from British Settlements in India." He also
published, in 1830, another pamphlet, containing a statement of facts
connected with the same general subject, "in a letter addressed to Sir
Robert Peel." In 1846 he published a pamphlet, entitled "Plain facts
intimately connected with the intended Repeal of the Corn Laws; or
Probable Effects on the Public Revenue and the Prosperity of
the Country."

From the subject discussed it can be readily and truly imagined that
John Gladstone had given thought to political subjects. He was in favor
of a qualified reform which, while affording a greater enfranchisement
of the people, looked also to the interests of all. Having an opinion,
and not being afraid to express it, he was frequently called upon to
address public meetings. The matters discussed by him were, however,
rather national than municipal, rather humane than partisan. He was a
strong advocate for certain reforms at home in 1818, and in 1823 on the
seas, and for Greek independence in 1824. "On the 14th of February,
1824, a public meeting was held in Liverpool Town Hall, 'for the purpose
of considering the best means of assisting the Greeks in their present
important struggle for independence.' Mr. Gladstone spoke impressively
in favor of the cause which had already evoked great enthusiasm amongst
the people, and enlisted the sympathies and support of Lord Byron and
other distinguished friends of freedom."

It was in 1818 that he addressed a meeting called "to consider the
propriety of petitioning Parliament to take into consideration the
progressive and alarming increase in the crimes of forging and uttering
forged Bank of England notes." The penalties for these crimes were
already heavy, but their infliction did not deter men from committing
them, and these crimes increased at an enormous rate. Resolutions were
passed at the Liverpool meeting, recommending the revision and amendment
of existing laws.

Then again, so late as the year 1823, the navigation between Liverpool
and Dublin was in a lamentable condition, and human life was recklessly
imperiled, and no one seemed willing to interfere and to interest
himself in the interests of humanity. It was then that he again came to
the front to advocate a just cause. To illustrate the dangers to vessels
and passengers, the case of the sloop _Alert_ may be cited. It was
wrecked off the Welsh coast, with between 100 and 140 persons on board,
of whom only seventeen were saved. For the safety and rescue of all
those souls on board this packet-boat there was only one small shallop,
twelve feet long. Mr. Gladstone was impressed with the terrible nature
of the existing evil, and obtained an amendment to the Steamboat Act,
requiring imperatively that every passenger vessel should be provided
with boats sufficient for every passenger it was licensed to carry. By
this wise and humane provision thousands of lives were doubtless saved
that would otherwise have been lost--the victims of reckless seamanship
and commercial greed.

John Gladstone, either through the influence of Mr. Canning, or from
having imbibed some political taste, sat in the House of Commons nine
years, representing Lancaster in 1819, Woodstock from 1821 to 1826, and
Berwick in 1827; but he never would consent to sit in Parliament for the
city of Liverpool, for he thought that so large and important a
constituency required peculiar representation such as he was
unqualified to give.

He was the warm supporter and intimate friend of the celebrated Canning.
At first he was a Whig, but finally came to support Mr. Canning, and
became a Liberal Conservative. In 1812 he presided over a meeting at
Liverpool, which was called to invite Mr. Canning to represent the
borough in Parliament. After the election the successful candidates were
claimed and carried in procession through the streets. The procession
finally halted at Mr. Gladstone's house, in Rodney Street, from the
balcony of which Mr. Canning addressed the populace. His election laid
the foundation of a deep and lasting friendship between Mr. Canning and
Mr. Gladstone. "At this time the son of the latter was but three years
of age. Shortly afterwards--that is, as soon as he was able to
understand anything of public men, and public movements and
events"--says G.B. Smith, "the name of Canning began to exercise that
strange fascination over the mind of William Ewart Gladstone which has
never wholly passed away," and Mr. Gladstone himself acknowledged that
he was brought up "under the shadow of the great name of Canning."

John Gladstone presided at a farewell dinner given by the Liverpool
Canning Club, in August, 1822, in honor of Mr. Canning, who had been
Governor-General of India. But Mr. Canning, instead of going to India,
entered the British Cabinet, and in 1827 became Prime Minister, and John
Gladstone moved a congratulatory address to the king upon the formation
of the Canning Ministry.

In 1845 John Gladstone was created a baronet by Sir Robert Peel, but he
lived to enjoy his deserved honors but a short time, for he died in
1851, at the advanced age of eighty-eight. His motto had ever been,
"Diligent in business." His enormous wealth enabled him to provide
handsomely for his family, not only after death, but during
his lifetime.

At the time of his father's death, William E. Gladstone was still an
adherent of the Tory party, yet his steps indicated that he was
advancing towards Liberalism; and he had already reached distinction as
a statesman, both in Parliament and in the Cabinet, while as yet he was
but 42 years old, which was about half of his age when called for the
fourth time to be Prime Minister of England.

Sir John Gladstone and his wife had six children--four sons, Thomas
Gladstone, afterwards baronet; John Gladstone, who became a captain, and
died in 1863; Robert Gladstone, brought up a merchant, who died in 1875,
and two daughters, Annie McKenzie Gladstone, who died years ago, and
Helen Jane Gladstone. William E. Gladstone was the fourth son. The
following is from the pen of the son, who says of his aged father, Sir
John Gladstone: "His eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated; he
was full of bodily and mental vigor; whatsoever his hand found to do he
did it with his might; he could not understand or tolerate those who,
perceiving an object to be good, did not at once and actively pursue it;
and with all this energy he gained a corresponding warmth, and, so to
speak, eagerness of affection, a keen appreciation of humor, in which he
found a rest, and an indescribable frankness and simplicity of
character, which, crowning his other qualities, made him, I think, and I
strive to think impartially, nearly or quite the most interesting old
man I ever knew."

Personally, Sir John Gladstone was a man of much intelligence and of
sterling principle, of high moral and religious character, and his
house consequently was a model home. "His house was by all accounts a
home pre-eminently calculated to mould the thoughts and direct the
course of an intelligent and receptive nature. There was a father's
masterful will and keen perception, the sweetness and piety of the
mother, wealth with all its substantial advantages and few of its
mischiefs, a strong sense of the value of money, a rigid avoidance of
extravagance and excesses; everywhere a strenuous purpose in life,
constant employment, and concentrated ambition."

Mrs. John Gladstone, the wife and mother, is described by one who knew
her intimately as "a lady of very great accomplishments; of fascinating
manners, of commanding presence and high intellect; one to grace any
home and endear any heart."

The following picture of the everyday life of the family is interesting
and instructive, on account of Sir John Gladstone, as well as on that of
his more distinguished son, and is from the pen of an eye-witness:
"Nothing was ever taken for granted between him and his sons. A
succession of arguments on great topics and small topics
alike--arguments conducted with perfect good humor, but also with the
most implicable logic--formed the staple of the family conversation. The
children and their parents argued upon everything. They would debate as
to whether a window should be opened, and whether it was likely to be
fair or wet the next day. It was all perfectly good-humored, but curious
to a stranger, because of the evident care which all the disputants took
to advance no proposition, even as to the prospect of rain, rashly."

In such a home as this was William E. Gladstone in training as the great
Parliamentary debater and leader, and for the highest office under the
British crown. This reminds us of a story of Burke. The king one day,
unexpectedly entering the office of his minister, found the elder Burke
sitting at his desk, with his eyes fixed upon his young son, who was
standing on his father's desk in the attitude of speaking. "What are you
doing?" asked the astonished king. "I am making the greatest minister
England ever saw," was the reply. And so in fact, and yet all
unconsciously, was Sir John doing for his son, William.

William E. Gladstone "was born," says his biographer, G.W.E. Russell,
"at a critical moment in the fortunes of England and of Europe. Abroad
the greatest genius that the world has ever seen was wading through
slaughter to a universal throne, and no effectual resistance had as yet
been offered to a progress which menaced the liberty of Europe and the
existence of its States. At home, a crazy king and a profligate
heir-apparent presided over a social system in which all civil evils
were harmoniously combined. A despotic administration was supported by a
parliamentary representation as corrupt as illusory; a church, in which
spiritual religion was all but extinct, had sold herself as a bondslave
to the governing classes. Rank and wealth and territorial ascendency
were divorced from public duty, and even learning had become the
handmaid of tyranny. The sacred name of justice was prostituted to
sanction a system of legal murder. Commercial enterprise was paralyzed
by prohibitive legislation; public credit was shaken to its base; the
prime necessaries of life were ruinously dear. The pangs of poverty were
aggravated by the concurrent evils of war and famine, and the common
people, fast bound in misery and iron, were powerless to make their
sufferings known or to seek redress, except by the desperate methods of
conspiracy and insurrection. None of the elements of revolution were
wanting, and the fates seemed to be hurrying England to the brink of a
civil catastrophe.

"The general sense of insecurity and apprehension, inseparable from such
a condition of affairs, produced its effect upon even the robust minds.
Sir John Gladstone was not a likely victim of panic, but he was a man
with a large stake in the country, the more precious because acquired by
his own exertion; he believed that the safeguards of property and order
were imperilled by foreign arms and domestic sedition; and he had seen
with indignation and disgust the excesses of a factious Whiggery, which
was not ashamed to exult in the triumph of the French over the English
Government. Under the pressure of these influences Sir John Gladstone
gradually separated himself from the Whigs, with whom in earlier life he
had acted, and became the close ally of Canning, whose return for
Liverpool he actually promoted."

With such surroundings it is not to be wondered at that William E.
Gladstone entered political life a Tory, contending against the
principles he afterwards espoused. His original bent, however, was not
towards politics, but the church; and it was only at the earnest desire
of his father that he ultimately decided to enter Parliament, and serve
his country in the Legislature.

His subsequent life proved the wisdom of the choice. In the Legislature
of his country was begun, carried on and consummated grandly, one of the
most remarkable careers in the annals of history for versatility,
brilliancy, solidity and long continuance. Rarely has there been
exhibited so complete a combination of qualities in statesmanship. His
intellectual endowments were almost without a parallel, and his
achievements without a precedent. In him seemed to be centered a rich
collection of the highest gifts of genius, great learning and readiness
in debate and discourse in the House of Commons, and extraordinary
wisdom in the administration of the affairs of the nation. His financial
talent, his business aptitude, his classical attainments, and above all
his moral fervor, and religious spirit were conspicuous. Some men would
have been contented with political power, or classical learning, or
literary distinction, but he excelled in all these--not only as a
statesman, but as a man of letters and a classical scholar. Neither has
held him exclusively as its own--he belongs to all, or rather they
belong to him--for he explored and conquered them. His literary
productions equal in merit his papers of State, while his knowledge of
the classics would do credit to any scholar.

He possessed the unusual quality of throwing the light of his own mind
on the greatest questions of national and international importance, of
bringing them down to the understanding and appreciation of the masses
of the people, of infusing, by his earnestness, the fire of his own soul
in the people, and of arousing in them the greatest enthusiasm.

In the biography of this wonderful person we propose to set before the
reader the man himself--his words and his deeds. This method enables him
to speak for himself, and thus the reader may study him and know him,
and because thereof be lifted into a higher plane of nobler and better
being. The acts and utterances of such a character are his best
biography, and especially for one differing so largely from all other
men as to have none to be compared with him.

In this record we simply spread before the reader his private life and
public services, connected together through many startling changes, from
home to school, from university to Parliament, from Tory follower to
Liberal leader, from the early start in his political course to the
grand consummation of the statesman's success in his attainment to the
fourth Premiership of this Grand Old Man, and the glorious end of an
eventful life.

We could not do better, in closing this chapter, than to reproduce a
part of the character sketch of William E. Gladstone, from the pen of
William T. Stead, and published in the "Review of Reviews:"

"So much has been written about Mr. Gladstone that it was with some
sinking of heart I ventured to select him as a subject for my next
character sketch. But I took heart of grace when I remembered that the
object of these sketches is to describe their subject as he appears to
himself at his best, and his countrymen. There are plenty of other
people ready to fill in the shadows. This paper claims in no way to be a
critical estimate or a judicial summing up of the merits and demerits
of the most remarkable of all living Englishmen. It is merely an attempt
to catch, as it were, the outline of the heroic figure which has
dominated English politics for the lifetime of this generation, and
thereby to explain something of the fascination which his personality
has exercised and still exercises over the men and women of his time. If
his enemies, and they are many, say that I have idealized a wily old
opportunist out of all recognition, I answer that to the majority of his
fellow-subjects my portrait is not overdrawn. The real Gladstone may be
other than this, but this is probably more like the Gladstone for whom
the electors believe they are voting, than a picture of Gladstone,
'warts and all,' would be. And when I am abused, as I know I shall be,
for printing such a sketch, I shall reply that there is at least one
thing to be said in its favor. To those who know him best, in his own
household, and to those who only know him as a great name in history, my
sketch will only appear faulty because it does not do full justice to
the character and genius of this extraordinary man."

Mr. Gladstone appeals to the men of to-day from the vantage point of
extreme old age. Age is so frequently dotage, that when a veteran
appears who preserves the heart of a boy and the happy audacity of
youth, under the 'lyart haffets wearing thin and bare' of aged manhood,
it seems as if there is something supernatural about it, and all men
feel the fascination and the charm. Mr. Gladstone, as he gleefully
remarked the other day, has broken the record. He has outlived Lord
Palmerston, who died when eighty-one, and Thiers, who only lived to be
eighty. The blind old Dandolo in Byron's familiar verse--

The octogenarian chief, Byzantium's conquering foe,

had not more energy than the Liberal leader, who, now in his
eighty-third year, has more nerve and spring and go than any of his
lieutenants, not excluding the youngest recruit. There is something
imposing and even sublime in the long procession of years which bridge
as with eighty-two arches the abyss of past time, and carry us back to
the days of Canning, and of Castlereagh, of Napoleon, and of Wellington.
His parliamentary career extends over sixty years--the lifetime of two
generations. He is the custodian of all the traditions, the hero of the
experience of successive administrations, from a time dating back longer
than most of his colleagues can remember. For nearly forty years he has
had a leading part in making or unmaking of Cabinets; he has served his
Queen and his country in almost every capacity in office and in
opposition, and yet to-day, despite his prolonged sojourn in the malaria
of political wire-pulling, his heart seems to be as the heart of a
little child. If some who remember 'the old Parliamentary hand' should
whisper that innocence of the dove is sometimes compatible with the
wisdom of the serpent, I make no dissent. It is easy to be a dove, and
to be as silly as a dove. It is easy to be as wise as a serpent, and as
wicked, let us say, as Mr. Governor Hill or Lord Beaconsfield. But it is
the combination that is difficult, and in Mr. Gladstone the combination
is almost ideally complete.

"Mr. Gladstone is old enough to be the grandfather of the younger race
of politicians, but still his courage, his faith, his versatility, put
the youngest of them to shame. It is this ebullience of youthful energy,
this inexhaustible vitality, which is the admiration and despair of his
contemporaries. Surely when a schoolboy at Eton he must somewhere have
discovered the elixir of life, or have been bathed by some beneficent
fairy in the well of perpetual youth. Gladly would many a man of fifty
exchange physique with this hale and hearty octogenarian. Only in one
respect does he show any trace of advancing years. His hearing is not
quite so good as it was, but still it is far better than that of
Cardinal Manning, who became very deaf in his closing years. Otherwise
Mr. Gladstone is hale and hearty. His eye is not dim, neither is his
natural force abated. A splendid physical frame, carefully preserved,
gives every promise of a continuance of his green old age.

"His political opponents, who began this Parliament by confidently
calculating upon his death before the dissolution, are now beginning to
admit that it is by no means improbable that Mr. Gladstone may survive
the century. Nor was it quite so fantastic as it appears at first sight,
when an ingenious disciple told him the other day that by the fitness of
things he ought to live for twenty years yet. 'For,' said this political
arithmetician, 'you have been twenty-six years a Tory, twenty-six years
a Whig Liberal, and you have been only six years a Radical Home Ruler.
To make the balance even you have twenty years still to serve.'

"Sir Provo Wallis, the Admiral of the Fleet, who died the other day at
the age of one hundred, had not a better constitution than Mr.
Gladstone, nor had it been more carefully preserved in the rough and
tumble of our naval war. If the man who smelt powder in the famous fight
between the Chesapeake and the Shannon lived to read the reports of the
preparations for the exhibition at Chicago, it is not so incredible that
Mr. Gladstone may at least be in the foretop of the State at the dawn of
the twentieth century.

"The thought is enough to turn the Tories green with sickening despair,
that the chances of his life, from a life insurance office point of
view, are probably much better than Lord Salisbury's. But that is one of
the attributes of Mr. Gladstone which endear him so much to his party.
He is always making his enemies sick with despairing jealousy. He is the
great political evergreen, who seems, even in his political life, to
have borrowed something of immortality from the fame which he has won.
He has long been the Grand Old Man. If he lives much longer he bids fair
to be known as the immortal old man in more senses than one."




There is very little recorded of the boyhood of some great men, and this
is true of the childhood of William E. Gladstone, until he leaves the
parental home for school, which he does in 1821, at the early age of
eleven. He was fortunate in his parentage, but no less so in his early
associations, both in and out of school. We refer particularly to his
private preceptors, two of whom, the venerable Archdeacon Jones and the
Rev. William Rawson, first Vicar of Seaforth, a watering-place near
Liverpool, were both men of high character and great ability. Mr.
Gladstone always highly esteemed Mr. Rawson, his earliest preceptor, and
visited him on his death-bed. Dr. Turner, afterwards Bishop of Calcutta,
was for two years young Gladstone's private tutor, beginning his
instruction when his pupil left Eton in 1827.

Besides these associations of his early life there were Canning, a
frequent visitor, as has been mentioned, at his father's house, and
Hannah More--"Holy Hannah," as Horace Walpole called her. She singled
out "Billy" Gladstone for her especial pet out of the group of eleven
children in whom her warm heart delighted, and it has been asked
wonderingly if Miss More could preternaturally have lengthened her days
until William E. Gladstone's present glory, whether she would have gone
on dubbing him "Billy" in undignified brevity until the end.

William E. Gladstone, when very young, gave such evidence of uncommon
intellectual ability and promise of future greatness that his father
resolved upon educating him in the best schools of England. There are
four or five great schools in England in which the English youth are
prepared in four or five years for Cambridge or Oxford. "Eton, the
largest and the most celebrated of the public schools of England, ranks
as the second in point of antiquity, Winchester alone being older."
After the preparation at home, under private teachers, to which we have
referred, William E. Gladstone was sent to Eton, in September, 1821. His
biographer, George W.E. Russell, writes, "From a provincial town, from
mercantile surroundings, from an atmosphere of money-making, from a
strictly regulated life, the impressible boy was transplanted, at the
age of eleven, to the shadow of Windsor and the banks of the Thames, to
an institution which belongs to history, to scenes haunted by the
memory of the most illustrious Englishmen, to a free and independent
existence among companions who were the very flower of English boyhood.
A transition so violent and yet so delightful was bound to produce an
impression which lapse of time was powerless to efface, and no one who
knows the man and the school can wonder that for seventy years Mr.
Gladstone has been the most enthusiastic of Etonians."

Eton of to-day is not in all respects the Eton of three-quarters of a
century ago, and yet in some particulars it is as it was when young
"Billy" Gladstone studied within its walls. The system of education and
discipline pursued has undergone some modifications in recent
years--notably during the provostship of the Rev. Francis Hodgson; but
radical defects are still alleged against it. It is not remarkable,
however, that every Eton boy becomes deeply attached to the school,
notwithstanding the apprenticeship to hardships he may have been
compelled to undergo.

The "hardships" there must have been particularly great when young
Gladstone entered Eton, at the close of the summer holidays of 1821. The
school was under the head-mastership of "the terrific Dr. Keate." He was
not the man to spare even the scholar who, upon the emphatic testimony
of Sir Roderick Murchison, was "the prettiest boy that ever went to
Eton," and who was as studious and well-behaved as he was good-looking.

The town of Eton, in which the school is located, about 22 miles from
London, in Berkshire, is beautifully situated on the banks of the river
Thames, opposite Windsor Castle, the residence of the Queen of England.

Eton College is one of the most famous and best endowed educational
institutions of learning in England. It was founded in 1440 by Henry VI.
The king was very solicitous that the work should be of a durable kind,
and he provided for free scholarships. Eton of Mr. Gladstone's day,
according to a critic, was divided into two schools--the upper and the
lower. It also had two kinds of scholars, namely, seventy called king's
scholars or "collegers," who are maintained gratuitously, sleep in the
college, and wear a peculiar dress; and another class--the
majority--called "oppidans," who live in the town. Between these two
classes of students there prevails perpetual hostility. At Cambridge,
there was founded, in connection with Eton, what is called King's
College, to receive as fellows students from Eton, and to give them
gratuitously an education. The ground on which students of Eton were
promoted to King's College and these fellowships was, strangely to say,
upon that of seniority, or long residence, and not of merit. Because
there was no competition, scholars who were deficient in education at
Eton were promoted to Cambridge, where they had no incentive to work,
being exempt from the ordinary university examination.

At Eton "no instruction was given in any branch of mathematical,
physical, metaphysical or moral science, nor in the evidences of
Christianity. The only subjects which it professed to impart a knowledge
of were the Greek and Latin languages; as much divinity as can be gained
from construing the Greek Testament, and reading a portion of Tomline on
the Thirty-nine Articles, and a little ancient and modern geography." So
much for the instruction imparted. As regards the hours of tuition,
there seems to have been fault there, in that they were too few and
insufficient, there being in all only eleven hours a week study. Then as
to the manner of study, no time was given the scholar to study the style
of an author; he was "hurried from Herodotus to Thucydides, from
Thucydides to Xenophon, from Xenophon to Lucian, without being
habituated to the style of any one author--without gaining an interest
in the history, or even catching the thread of the narrative; and when
the whole book is finished he has probably collected only a few vague
ideas about Darius crying over a great army, Abydos and Nicias and
Demosthenes being routed with a great army near Syracuse, mixed up with
a recollection of the death of Cyrus and Socrates, some moral precept
from Socrates, and some jokes against false philosophers and heathen
gods." Hence the Eton student who goes to Cambridge finds he has done
but a little desultory reading, and that he must begin again. It was
charged that the system of education at Eton failed in every point. The
moral discipline of the school was also called in question. The number
of scholars was so great that the proper control of them seemed
impossible under the management. Great laxity prevailed among the larger
boys, while the younger and weaker students were exposed to the tyranny
of the older and stronger ones without hope of redress. The result was
that the system of "fagging," or the acting of some boys as drudges for
the others, flourished. "The right" of fagging depended upon the place
in the school; all boys in the sixth and fifth forms had the power of
ordering--all below the latter form being bound to obey. This system of
fagging has a very injurious effect upon most of the boys; "it finds
them slaves and leaves them despots. A boy who has suffered himself,
insensibly learns to see no harm in making others suffer in turn. The
whole thing is wrong in principle, and engenders passions which should
be stifled and not encouraged." Why free and enlightened England should
tolerate, even then, such barbarous slavery cannot be understood and
yet there are outrageous customs prevailing among college students of
our day in every civilized land that should be suppressed.

Flogging was in vogue, too, at Eton, with all its degrading and
demoralizing effects, and was performed by the Head-Master himself. In
1820, the year before Mr. Gladstone entered Eton, there were 280 upper
students and 319 lower, a total of 612, and none were exempt.

Some curious stories are told of flogging, which has ever existed at
Eton, and from which even the largest boys were not exempt. Mr. Lewis
relates how a young man of twenty, just upon the point of leaving
school, and engaged to be married to a lady at Windsor, was well and
soundly whipped by Dr. Goodford, for arriving one evening at his tutor's
house after the specified time. And it is related that Arthur Wellesley,
afterwards the Iron Duke of Wellington, was flogged at Eton for having
been "barred out." At the same time there were eighty boys who
were whipped.

And the Eton of twenty years later was very little improved over its
condition in Mr. Gladstone's time there, or in 1845. John D. Lewis,
speaking of this period, says that after the boys reached the fifth
form, then began "some of the greatest anomalies and absurdities of the
then Etonian system." The student was now safe from the ordeal of
examinations, and that the higher classes, including ten senior
collegers and ten senior oppidans, contained some of the very worst
scholars. "A boy's place on the general roll was no more a criterion of
his acquirements and his industry than would be the 'year' of a young
man at Oxford or Cambridge." The collegers, however, were required to
pass some kind of examination, in accordance with which their place on
the list for the King's college was fixed. But the evils regarding the
hours of study and the nature of the studies were as bad. "The regular
holidays and Saints' days, two whole holidays in a week, and two
half-holidays, were a matter of common occurrence."

Lord Morley, in his examination before the Commission on Public Schools,
was asked whether a boy would be looked down upon at Eton for being
industrious in his studies, replied, "Not if he could do something else
well." And this seems to be the spirit of the Eton boy with whom a lack
of scholarship is more than made up by skill in river or field sports.

This is true to-day; for a recent writer in the _Forum_, upon "The
Training of Boys at Eton," says: "Athletic prominence is in English
public schools almost synonymous with social prominence; many a boy
whose capacity and character commanded both respect and liking at the
universities and in after life, is almost a nobody at a public school,
because he has no special athletic gifts.... Great athletic capacity may
co-exist with low moral and intellectual character."

There were few inducements to study and to excel in scholarship, and
plenty to idleness and neglect, hence he who did so must study in hours
and out of hours, in season and out of season. The curriculum is still
strictly classical, but French, German and mathematics are taught. The
collegers of recent years have done very fair work and carried off many
distinctions at Cambridge. With all these odds against them, and these
difficulties to surmount, yet there were Eton boys whose attainments
were deep and solid, and who became famous men, and one of these was
William E. Gladstone.

When young Gladstone entered Eton his brothers, Thomas and Robertson
Gladstone, were already there, and the three boys boarded at Mrs.
Shurey's, whose house "at the south end of the broad walk in front of
the schools and facing the chapel," was rather nearer the famous
"Christopher Inn" than would be thought desirable nowadays. On the wall
opposite the house the name of "Gladstone" is carved. Thomas Gladstone
was in the fifth form, and William was placed in the middle remove of
the fourth form, and became his eldest brother's "fag." This doubtlessly
saved him much annoyance and suffering, and allowed him better to
pursue the studious bent of his indications.

William E. Gladstone was what Etonians called a "sap"--in other words, a
student faithful in the discharge of every duty devolving upon him at
school--one who studied his lessons and was prepared for his recitations
in the classroom. This agreeable fact has been immortalized in a famous
line in Lord Lytton's "New Timon." He worked hard at his classical
studies, as required by the rules of the school, and applied himself
diligently to the study of mathematics during the holidays.

It is said that his interest in the work of the school was first aroused
by Mr. Hawtrey, who afterwards became Head-Master, who commended some of
his Latin verses, and "sent him up for good." This led the young man to
associate intellectual work with the ideas of ambition and success.
While he did not seem to be especially an apt scholar in the restricted
sense for original versification in the classical languages, or for
turning English into Greek or Latin, yet he seemed to seize the precise
meaning of the authors and to give the sense. "His composition was
stiff," but yet, says a classmate, "when there were thrilling passages
of Virgil or Homer, or difficult passages in 'Scriptores Graeci' to
translate, he or Lord Arthur Hervey was generally called up to edify
the class with quotations or translations."

He had no prizes at Eton except what is called being sent up for good,
on account of verses, and he was honored on several occasions. Besides
he took deep interest in starting a college periodical, and with some of
the most intellectual of the students sustained it with his pen. The
more studious of Eton boys have on several occasions in the present
century been in the habit of establishing periodicals for the purpose of
ventilating their opinions. In 1786 Mr. Canning and Mr. Hookham Frere
established the _Microcosm_, whose essays and _jeux d'esprit_, while
having reference primarily to Eton, demonstrated that the writers were
not insensible to what was going on in the great world without. It was
for this college paper that Canning wrote his "Essay on the Epic of the
Queen of Hearts," which, as a burlesque criticism, has been awarded a
high place in English literature. Lord Henry Spencer, Hookham Frere,
Capel Lofft, and Mr. Millish, were also contributors to the columns of
the _Microcosm_. In the year 1820 W. Mackworth Praed set on foot a
manuscript journal, entitled _Apis Matina_. This was in turn succeeded
by the _Etonian_, to which Praed contributed some of his most brilliant
productions. John Moultrie, Henry Nelson Coleridge, Walter Blunt, and
Chauncy Hare Townshend were also among the writers for its papers, who
helped to make it of exceptional excellence. Its articles are of no
ordinary interest even now.

In the last year of William E. Gladstone's stay at Eton, in 1827, and
seven years after Praed's venture, he was largely instrumental in
launching the _Eton Miscellany_, professedly edited by Bartholomew
Bouverie, and Mr. Gladstone became a most frequent, voluminous and
valuable contributor to its pages. He wrote articles of every
kind--prologues, epilogues, leaders, historical essays, satirical
sketches, classical translations, humorous productions, poetry and
prose. And among the principal contributors with him were Sir Francis
Doyle, George Selwyn, James Colville, Arthur Hallam, John Haumer and
James Milnes-Gaskell. The introduction, written by and signed "William
Ewart Gladstone" for this magazine, contained the following interesting
and singular passage, which probably fairly sets forth the hopes and
fears that beset statesmen in maturer years, as well as Eton boys of
only seventeen years of age:

"In my present undertaking there is one gulf in which I fear to sink,
and that gulf is Lethe. There is one stream which I dread my inability
to stem--it is the tide of Popular Opinion. I have ventured, and no
doubt rashly ventured--

Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders,
To try my fortune in a sea of glory,
But far beyond my depth."

At present it is hope alone that buoys me up; for more substantial
support I must be indebted to my own exertions, well knowing that in
this land of literature merit never wants its reward. That such merit is
mine I dare not presume to think; but still there is something within me
that bids me hope that I may be able to glide prosperously down the
stream of public estimation; or, in the words of Virgil,

'--Celerare viam rumore secundo.'

"I was surprised even to see some works with the names of Shakespeare
and Milton on them sharing the common destiny, but on examination I
found that those of the latter were some political rhapsodies, which
richly deserved their fate; and that the former consisted of some
editions of his works which had been burdened with notes and mangled
with emendations by his merciless commentators. In other places I
perceived authors worked up into frenzy by seeing their own compositions
descending like the rest. Often did the infuriated scribes extend their
hands, and make a plunge to endeavor to save their beloved offspring,
but in vain; I pitied the anguish of their disappointment, but with
feelings of the same commiseration as that which one feels for a
malefactor on beholding his death, being at the same time fully
conscious how well he has deserved it."

Little did this diffident and youthful editor imagine that he was
forecasting the future for himself by the aid of youth's most ardent
desires, and that he would live to become the Primate of all England and
the foremost statesman of his day.

There were two volumes of the _Miscellany_, dated June-July and
October-November, respectively, and Mr. Gladstone contributed thirteen
articles to the first volume. Among the contributions were an "Ode to
the Shade of Watt Tyler," a vigorous rendering of a chorus from the
Hucuba of Euripides, and a letter under the name of "Philophantasm,"
detailing an encounter he had with the poet Virgil, in which the great
poet appeared muttering something which did not sound like Latin to an
Eton boy, and complaining that he knew he was hated by the Eton boys
because he was difficult to learn, and pleading to be as well received
henceforth as Horace.

We give a quotation from a poem, consisting of some two hundred and
fifty lines, from his pen, which, appeared also in the _Miscellany_:

"Who foremost now the deadly spear to dart,
And strike the javelin to the Moslem's heart?
Who foremost now to climb the leaguered wall,
The first to triumph, or the first to fall?
Lo, where the Moslems rushing to the fight,
Back bear their squadrons in inglorious flight.
With plumed helmet, and with glittering lance,
'Tis Richard bids his steel-clad bands advance;
'Tis Richard stalks along the blood-dyed plain,
And views unmoved the slaying and the slain;
'Tis Richard bathes his hands in Moslem blood,
And tinges Jordan with the purple flood.
Yet where the timbrels ring, the trumpets sound,
And tramp of horsemen shakes the solid ground,
Though 'mid the deadly charge and rush of fight,
No thought be theirs of terror or of flight,--
Ofttimes a sigh will rise, a tear will flow,
And youthful bosoms melt in silent woe;
For who of iron frame and harder heart
Can bid the mem'ry of his home depart?
Tread the dark desert and the thirsty sand,
Nor give one thought to England's smiling land?
To scenes of bliss, and days of other years--
The Vale of Gladness and the Vale of Tears;
That, passed and vanish'd from their loving sight,
This 'neath their view, and wrapt in shades of night?"

Among other writers who contributed to the first volume of the
_Miscellany_ were Arthur Henry Hallam and Doyle, also G.A. Selwyn,
afterwards Bishop Selwyn, the friend of Mr. Gladstone, and to whom he
recently paid the following tribute: "Connected as tutor with families
of rank and influence, universally popular from his frank, manly, and
engaging character--and scarcely less so from his extraordinary rigor as
an athlete--he was attached to Eton, where he resided, with a love
surpassing the love of Etonians. In himself he formed a large part of
the life of Eton, and Eton formed a large part of his life. To him is
due no small share of the beneficial movement in the direction of
religious earnestness which marked the Eton of forty years back, and
which was not, in my opinion, sensibly affected by any influence
extraneous to the place itself. At a moment's notice, upon the call of
duty, he tore up the singularly deep roots which his life had struck
deep into the soil of England."

Both Mr. Gladstone and the future Bishop of Selwyn contributed humorous
letters to "The Postman," the correspondence department of the _Eton

In the second volume of the _Eton Miscellany_ are articles of equal
interest to those that appeared in the first. Doyle, Jelf, Selwyn,
Shadwell and Arthur Henry Hallam were contributors, the latter having
written "The Battle of the Boyne," a parody upon Campbell's
"Hohenlinden." But here again Mr. Gladstone was the principal
contributor, having contributed to this even more largely than to the
first, having written seventeen articles, besides the introductions to
the various numbers of the volume. Indeed one would think from his
devotion to these literary pursuits during his last year at Eton, that
he had very little leisure for those ordinary sports so necessary to
Eton boys. He seems to have begun his great literary activity. Among
them may be mentioned an "Ode to the Shade of Watt Tyler," mentioned
before, which is an example of his humorous style:

"Shade of him whose valiant tongue
On high the song of freedom sung;
Shade of him, whose mighty soul
Would pay no taxes on his poll;
Though, swift as lightning, civic sword
Descended on thy fated head,
The blood of England's boldest poured,
And numbered Tyler with the dead!

"Still may thy spirit flap its wings
At midnight o'er the couch of kings;
And peer and prelate tremble, too,
In dread of mighty interview!
With patriot gesture of command,
With eyes that like thy forges gleam,
Lest Tyler's voice and Tyler's hand
Be heard and seen in nightly dream.

"I hymn the gallant and the good
From Tyler down to Thistlewood,
My muse the trophies grateful sings,
The deeds of Miller and of Ings;
She sings of all who, soon or late,
Have burst Subjection's iron chain,
Have seal'd the bloody despot's fate,
Or cleft a peer or priest in twain.

"Shades, that soft Sedition woo,
Around the haunts of Peterloo!
That hover o'er the meeting-halls,
Where many a voice stentorian bawls!
Still flit the sacred choir around,
With 'Freedom' let the garrets ring,
And vengeance soon in thunder sound
On Church, and constable, and king."

In a paper on "Eloquence," in the same volume, he shows that even then
his young mind was impressed by the fame attached to successful oratory
in Parliament. Visions of glory and honor open before the enraptured
sight of those devoted to oratorical pursuits, and whose ardent and
aspiring minds are directed to the House of Commons. Evidently the young
writer himself "had visions of parliamentary oratory, and of a
successful _debut_ in the House of Commons, with perhaps an offer from
the Minister, a Secretaryship of State, and even the Premiership itself
in the distance." But then there are barriers to pass and ordeals to
undergo. "There are roars of coughing, as well as roars of cheering"
from the members of the House, "and maiden speeches sometimes act more
forcibly on the lungs of hearers than the most violent or most cutting
of all the breezes which AEOLUS can boast." But the writer draws comfort
from the fact that Lord Morfeth, Edward Geoffrey, Stanley and Lord
Castlereagh who were all members of the Eton college debating society
were then among the most successful young speakers in Parliament. This
sounds more like prophecy than dreams, for within a very few years after
writing this article the writer himself had passed the dreaded barrier
and endured the ordeal, and had not only made his appearance in the
House of Commons, but had been invited to fill an honorable place in the
Cabinet of the Ministry then in power.

Another contribution of Mr. Gladstone's to the _Miscellany_, and perhaps
the most meritorious of the youthful writer's productions, was
entitled, "Ancient and Modern Genius Compared," in which the young
Etonian editor ardently and affectionately apostrophized the memory of
Canning, his father's great friend and his own ideal man and statesman,
who had just then perished untimely and amid universal regret. In this
article he first takes the part of the moderns as against the ancients,
though he by no means deprecates the genius of the latter, and then
eloquently apostrophizes the object of his youthful hero-worship, the
immortal Canning, whose death he compares to that of the lamented Pitt.
The following are extracts from this production:

"It is for those who revered him in the plenitude of his meridian glory
to mourn over him in the darkness of his premature extinction: to mourn
over the hopes that are buried in his grave, and the evils that arise
from his withdrawing from the scene of life. Surely if eloquence never
excelled and seldom equalled--if an expanded mind and judgment whose
vigor was paralleled only by its soundness--if brilliant wit--if a
glowing imagination--if a warm heart, and an unbending firmness--could
have strengthened the frail tenure, and prolonged the momentary duration
of human existence, that man had been immortal! But nature could endure
no longer. Thus has Providence ordained that inasmuch as the intellect
is more brilliant, it shall be more short-lived; as its sphere is more
expanded, more swiftly is it summoned away. Lest we should give to man
the honor due to God--lest we should exalt the object of our admiration
into a divinity for our worship--He who calls the weary and the mourner
to eternal rest hath been pleased to remove him from our eyes.

"The degrees of inscrutable wisdom are unknown to us; but if ever there
was a man for whose sake it was meet to indulge the kindly though frail
feelings of our nature--for whom the tear of sorrow was to us both
prompted by affection and dictated by duty--that man was
George Canning."

After Hallam, Selwyn and other contributors to the _Miscellany_ left
Eton, at midsummer, 1827, Mr. Gladstone still remained and became the
mainstay of the magazine. "Mr. Gladstone and I remained behind as its
main supporters," writes Sir Francis Doyle, "or rather it would be more
like the truth if I said that Mr. Gladstone supported the whole burden
upon his own shoulders. I was unpunctual and unmethodical, so were his
other vassals; and the '_Miscellany_' would have fallen to the ground
but for Mr. Gladstone's untiring energy, pertinacity and tact."

Although Mr. Gladstone labored in editorial work upon the _Miscellany_,
yet he took time to bestow attention upon his duties in the Eton
Society of the College, learnedly called "The Literati," and vulgarly
called "Pop," and took a leading part in the debates and in the private
business of the Society. The Eton Society of Gladstone's day was a
brilliant group of boys. He introduced desirable new members, moved for
more readable and instructive newspapers, proposing new rules for better
order and more decorous conduct, moving fines on those guilty of
disorder or breaches of the rules, and paying a fine imposed upon
himself for putting down an illegal question. "In debate he champions
the claims of metaphysics against those of mathematics, and defends
aristocracy against democracy;" confesses innate feelings of dislike to
the French; protests against disarmament of the Highlanders as
inexpedient and unjust; deplores the fate of Strafford and the action of
the House of Commons, which he claimed they should be able to "revere as
our glory and confide in as our protection." The meetings of the Eton
Society were held over Miss Hatton's "sock-shop."

In politics its members were Tory--intensely so, and although current
politics were forbidden subjects, yet, political opinions were disclosed
in discussions of historical or academical questions. "The execution of
Strafford and Charles I, the characters of Oliver Cromwell and Milton,
the 'Central Social' of Rousseau, and the events of the French
Revolution, laid bare the speakers' political tendencies as effectually
as if the conduct of Queen Caroline, the foreign policy of Lord
Castlereagh, or the repeal of the Test and Corporation Act had been the
subject of debate."

It was October 15, 1825, when Gladstone was elected a member of the Eton
Society, and on the 29th of the same month made his maiden speech on the
question "Is the education of the poor on the whole beneficial?" It is
recorded in the minutes of the meeting that "Mr. Gladstone rose and
eloquently addressed the house." He spoke in favor of education; and one
who heard him says that his opening words were, "Sir, in this age of
increased and increasing civilization." Says an eminent writer, by way
of comment upon these words, "It almost oppresses the imagination to
picture the shoreless sea of eloquence which rolls between that exordium
and the oratory to which we still are listening and hope to listen for
years to come."

"The peroration of his speech on the question whether Queen Anne's
Ministers, in the last four years of her reign, deserved well of their
country, is so characteristic, both in substance and in form," that we
reproduce it here from Dr, Russell's work on Gladstone:

"Thus much, sir, I have said, as conceiving myself bound in fairness not
to regard the names under which men have hidden their designs so much
as the designs themselves. I am well aware that my prejudices and my
predilections have long been enlisted on the side of Toryism (cheers)
and that in a cause like this I am not likely to be influenced unfairly
against men bearing that name and professing to act on the principles
which I have always been accustomed to revere. But the good of my
country must stand on a higher ground than distinctions like these. In
common fairness and in common candor, I feel myself compelled to give my
decisive verdict against the conduct of men whose measures I firmly
believe to have been hostile to British interests, destructive of
British glory, and subversive of the splendid and, I trust, lasting
fabric of the British constitution."

The following extracts from the diary of William Cowper, afterwards Lord
Mount-Temple, we also reproduce from the same author: "On Saturday,
October 27, 1827, the subject for debate was:

"'Whether the deposition of Richard II was justifiable or not.' Jelf
opened; not a good speech. Doyle spoke _extempore_, made several
mistakes, which were corrected by Jelf. Gladstone spoke well. The Whigs
were regularly floored; only four Whigs to eleven Tories, but they very
nearly kept up with them in coughing and 'hear, hears,' Adjourned to
Monday after 4.

"Monday, 29.--Gladstone finished his speech, and ended with a great deal
of flattery of Doyle, saying that he was sure he would have courage
enough to own that he was wrong. It succeeded. Doyle rose amidst
reiterated cheers to own that he was convinced by the arguments of the
other side. He had determined before to answer them and cut up

"December 1.--Debate, 'Whether the Peerage Bill of 1719 was calculated
to be beneficial or not.' Thanks voted to Doyle and Gladstone; the
latter spoke well; will be a great loss to the Society."

There were many boys at Eton--schoolfellows of Mr. Gladstone--who became
men of note in after days. Among them the Hallams, Charles Canning,
afterwards Lord Canning and Governor-General of India; Walter Hamilton,
Bishop of Salisbury; Edward Hamilton, his brother, of Charters; James
Hope, afterwards Hope-Scott; James Bruce, afterwards Lord Elgin; James
Milnes-Gaskell, M.P. for Wenlock; Henry Denison; Sir Francis Doyle;
Alexander Kinglake; George Selwyn, Bishop of New Zealand and of
Litchfield; Lord Arthur Hervey, Bishop of Bath and Wells; William
Cavendish, Duke of Devonshire; George Cornwallis Lewis; Frederic
Tennyson; Gerald Wellesley, Dean of Windsor; Spencer Walpole, Home
Secretary; Frederic Rogers, Lord Blachford; James Colvile, Chief Justice
at Calcutta, and others.

By universal acknowledgment the most remarkable youth at Eton in that
day was Arthur Hallam, "in mind and character not unworthy of the
magnificent eulogy of 'In Memoriam.'" He was the most intimate friend of
young Gladstone. They always took breakfast together, although they
boarded apart in different houses, and during the separation of
vacations they were diligent correspondents.

The father of William E. Gladstone, as we have seen, discovered
premonitions of future greatness in his son, and we may well ask the
question what impression was made by him upon his fellow school-mates at
Eton. Arthur Hallam wrote: "Whatever may be our lot, I am confident that
_he_ is a bud that will bloom with a richer fragrance than almost any
whose early promise I have witnessed."

James Milnes-Gaskell says: "Gladstone is no ordinary individual; and
perhaps if I were called on to select the individual I am intimate with
to whom I should first turn in an emergency, and whom I thought in every
way pre-eminently distinguished for high excellence, I think I should
turn to Gladstone. If you finally decide in favor of Cambridge, my
separation from Gladstone will be a source of great sorrow to me." And
the explanation of this latter remark is that the writer's mother wanted
him to go to Cambridge, while he wished to go to Oxford, because
Gladstone was going there.

Sir Francis Doyle writes: "I may as well remark that my father, a man of
great ability, as well as of great experience of life, predicted
Gladstone's future eminence from the manner in which he handled this
somewhat tiresome business. [The editorial work and management of the
_Eton Miscellany._] 'It is not' he remarked, 'that I think his papers
better than yours or Hallam's--that is not my meaning at all; but the
force of character he has shown in managing his subordinates, and the
combination of ability and power that he has made evident, convince me
that such a young man cannot fail to distinguish himself hereafter.'"

The recreations of young Gladstone were not in all respects like his
school-mates. He took no part in games, for he had no taste in that
direction, and while his companions were at play he was studiously
employed in his room. One of the boys afterwards declared, "without
challenge or contradiction, that he was never seen to run." Yet he had
his diversions and was fond of sculling, and kept a "lock-up," or
private boat, for his own use. He liked walking for exercise, and walked
fast and far. His chief amusement when not writing, reading or debating,
was to ramble among the delights of Windsor with a few intimate friends;
and he had only a few whom he admitted to his inner circle. To others
beyond he was not known and was not generally popular. Gladstone,
Charles Canning, Handley, Bruce, Hodgson, Lord Bruce and Milnes-Gaskell
set up a Salt Hill Club. They met every whole holiday or half-holiday,
as was convenient, after twelve, "and went up to Salt Hill to bully the
fat waiter, eat toasted cheese, and drink egg-wine." It is startling to
hear from such an authority as James Milnes-Gaskell that "in all our
meetings, as well as at almost every time, Gladstone went by the name of
Mr. Tipple."


The strongest testimony is borne to the moral character of young
Gladstone while at Eton. By common consent he was pre-eminently
God-fearing, orderly and conscientious. Bishop Hamilton, of Salisbury,
writes: "At Eton I was a thoroughly idle boy; but I was saved from some
worse things by getting to know Gladstone." This is the strong testimony
of one school-boy after he has reached maturity and distinction for
another. "To have exercised, while still a school-boy, an influence for
good upon one of the greatest of contemporary saints, is surely such a
distinction as few Prime Ministers ever attain."

Two stories are told of him while at Eton that go to show the moral
determination of the boy to do right. On one occasion he turned his
glass upside down and refused to drink a coarse toast proposed,
according to annual custom, at an election dinner at the "Christopher
Inn." This shows the purity of his mind, but there is another
illustrating the humane feeling in his heart. He came forth as the
champion of some miserable pigs which it was the inhumane custom to
torture at Eton Fair on Ash Wednesday, and when he was bantered by his
school-fellows for his humanity, he offered to write his reply "in good
round hand upon their faces."

At Christmas, 1827, Gladstone left Eton, and after that studied six
months under private tutors, Dr. Turner, afterwards Bishop of Calcutta,
being one. Of this Mr. Gladstone writes: "I resided with Dr. Turner at
Wilmslow (in Cheshire) from January till a few months later. My
residence with him was cut off by his appointment to the Bishopric of
Calcutta.... My companions were the present (1877) Bishop of Sodor and
Man, and Sir C.A. Wood, Deputy-Chairman of the G.W. Railway. We employed
our spare time in gymnastics, in turning, and in rambles. I remember
paying a visit to Macclesfield. In a silk factory the owner showed us
his silk handkerchiefs, and complained much of Mr. Huskisson for having
removed the prohibition of the foreign article. The thought passed
through my mind at the time: Why make laws to enable people to produce
articles of such hideous pattern and indifferent quality as this?
Alderly Edge was a favorite place of resort. We dined with Sir John
Stanley (at Alderly) on the day when the king's speech was received; and
I recollect that he ridiculed (I think very justly) the epithet
_untoward_, which was applied in it to the Battle of Navarino."

In 1828, and after two years as a private pupil of Dr. Turner, Mr.
Gladstone entered Christ Church College, Oxford and in the following
year was nominated to a studentship on the foundation. Although he had
no prizes at Oxford of the highest class, unless honors in the schools
be so called--and in this respect he achieved a success which falls to
the lot of but few students. In the year 1831, when he went up for his
final examination, he completed his academical education by attaining
the highest honors in the university--graduating double-first-class.

Of the city of Oxford, where Oxford University is situated, Matthew
Arnold writes: "Beautiful city! So venerable, so lovely, so unravaged by
the fierce intellectual life of our century, so serene! And yet, steeped
in sentiment as she lies, spreading her gardens to the moonlight, or
whispering from her towers the last enchantments of the Middle Age, who
will deny that Oxford, by her ineffable charm, keeps ever calling us
near to the true goal of all of us, to the ideal, to perfection--to
beauty, in a word, which is only truth seen from another side."

Describing Christ Church College, a writer has said that there is no
other College where a man has so great a choice of society, or a man
entire freedom in choosing it.

As to the studies required, a greater stress was laid upon a knowledge
of the Bible and of the evidences of Christianity than upon classical
literature; some proficiency was required also, either in mathematics or
the science of reasoning. The system of education accommodated itself to
the capacity and wants of the students, but the man of talent was at no
loss as to a field for his exertions, or a reward for his industry. The
honors of the ministry were all within his reach. In the cultivation of
taste and general information Oxford afforded every opportunity, but the
modern languages were not taught.

An interesting fact is related of young Gladstone when he entered
Oxford, as to his studies at the university. He wrote his father that he
disliked mathematics, and that he intended to concentrate his time and
attention upon the classics. This was a great blow to his father, who
replied that he did not think a man was a man unless he knew
mathematics. The dutiful son yielded to his father's wishes, abandoned
his own plan, and applied himself with energy and success to the study
of mathematics. But for this change of study he might not have become
the greatest of Chancellors of the Exchequer.

Gladstone's instructors at Oxford were men of reputation. Rev. Robert
Biscoe, whose lectures on Aristotle attracted some of the best men to
the university, was his tutor; he attended the lectures of Dr. Burton on
Divinity, and of Dr. Pusey on Hebrew, and read classics privately with
Bishop Wordsworth. He read steadily but not laboriously. Nothing was
ever allowed to interfere with his morning's work. He read for four
hours, and then took a walk. Though not averse to company and suppers,
yet he always read for two or three hours before bedtime.

Among the undergraduates at Oxford then, who became conspicuous, were
Henry Edward Manning, afterwards Cardinal Archbishop; Archibald Campbell
Tait, Archbishop of Canterbury; Sidney Herbert, Robert Lowe, Lord
Sherbrooke, and Lord Selborne. "The man who _took_ me most," says a
visitor to Oxford in 1829, "was the youngest Gladstone of Liverpool--I
am sure a very superior person."

Gladstone's chosen friends were all steady and industrious men, and many
of them were more distinctively religious than is generally found in the
life of undergraduates. And his choice of associates in this respect was
the subject of criticism on the part of a more secularly minded student
who wrote, "Gladstone has mixed himself up with the St. Mary Hall and
Oriel set, who are really, for the most part, only fit to live with
maiden aunts and keep tame rabbits." And the question, Which was
right--Gladstone or the student? may be answered by another, Which one
became Prime Minister of England?

"Gladstone's first rooms were in the 'old library,' near the hall; but
for the greater part of his time he occupied the right-hand rooms on the
first floor of the first staircase, on the right as the visitor enters
Canterbury gate. He was, alike in study and in conduct, a model
undergraduate, and the great influence of his character and talents was
used with manly resolution against the riotous conduct of the 'Tufts,'
whose brutality caused the death of one of their number in 1831. We read
this note in the correspondence of a friend: 'I heard from Gladstone
yesterday; he says that the number of gentlemen commoners has increased,
is increasing, and ought to be diminished.' Every one who has
experienced the hubristic qualities of the Tufted race, and its
satellites, will cordially sympathize with this sentiment of an orderly
and industrious undergraduate. He was conspicuously moderate in the use
of wine. His good example in this respect affected not only his
contemporaries but also his successors at the university; men who
followed him to Oxford ten years later found it still operative, and
declare that undergraduates drank less in the forties, because Gladstone
had been courageously abstemious in the thirties."

But there were those who better estimated Gladstone's worth and looked
approvingly upon his course, as "the blameless schoolboy became the
blameless undergraduate; diligent, sober, regular alike in study and
devotion, giving his whole energies to the duties of the place, and
quietly abiding in the religious faith in which he had been trained.
Bishop Charles Wordsworth said that no man of his standing in the
university habitually read his Bible more or knew it better. Cardinal
Manning described him walking in the university with his 'Bible and
Prayer-book tucked under his arm.' ... He quitted Oxford with a
religious belief still untinctured by Catholic theology. But the great
change was not far distant, and he had already formed some of the
friendships which, in their development were destined to effect so
profoundly the course of his religious thought."

In reference to the religious and political opinions and influences
prevailing at Oxford, it may be remarked that the atmosphere of Oxford
was calculated to strengthen Mr. Gladstone's conservative views, and did
have this effect, and as English statesmen had not then learned to put
their trust in the people, the cause of reform found few or no friends
at the university, and he was among those hostile to it, and was known
for his pronounced Tory and High Church opinions.

He belonged to the famous debating society known as the Oxford Union,
was a brilliant debater, and in 1831 was its secretary, and later its
president. On various occasions he carried, by a majority of one only, a
motion that the Wellington Administration was undeserving of the
confidence of the country; he defended the results of the Catholic
Emancipation; he opposed a motion for the removal of Jewish
disabilities, and he persuaded 94 students out of 130 to condemn Earl
Grey's Reform Bill as a measure "which threatened not only to change the
form of government, but ultimately to break up the very foundation of
social order." His last speech at Oxford was in support of his own
amendment to a motion for the immediate emancipation of the slaves in
the West Indies. On a certain occasion he entertained a party of
students from Cambridge, consisting of Sir Francis Doyle, Monckton
Milnes, Sunderland, and Arthur H. Hallam, who discussed among them the
superiority of Shelley over Byron as a poet. The motion was opposed by
one Oxonion, the late Cardinal Manning, but Shelley received 90 votes to
33 for Byron.

One who heard the debate on the Reform Bill says that "it converted
Alston, the son of the member in Parliament for Hertford, who
immediately on the conclusion of Gladstone's speech walked across from
the Whig to the Tory side of the house, amidst loud acclamations."
Another who was present writes, "Most of the speakers rose, more or
less, above their usual level, but when Mr. Gladstone sat down we all of
us felt that an epoch in our lives had occurred. It certainly was the
finest speech of his that I ever heard." And Bishop Charles Wordsworth
writes his experience of Mr. Gladstone at this time, "made me feel no
less sure than of my own existence that Gladstone, our then
Christ-Church undergraduate, would one day rise to be Prime Minister
of England."

In the spring of 1832 Mr. Gladstone quitted Oxford. In summing up
results it may be said, in the language of Mr. Russell: "Among the
purely intellectual effects produced on Mr. Gladstone by the discipline
of Oxford, it is obvious to reckon an almost excessive exactness in the
statement of propositions, a habit of rigorous definition, a microscopic
care in the choice of words, and a tendency to analyze every sentiment
and every phrase, and to distinguish with intense precaution between
statements almost exactly similar. From Aristotle and Bishop Butler and
Edmund Burke he learned the value of authority, the sacredness of law,
the danger of laying rash and inconsiderate hands upon the ark of State.
In the political atmosphere of Oxford he was taught to apply these
principles to the civil events of his time, to dread innovation, to
respect existing institutions, and to regard the Church and the Throne
as inseparably associated by Divine ordinance."

[Illustration: Gladstone's London Home]



It is customary for the sons of gentlemen who graduate at Cambridge and
Oxford to spend some time in travel on the continent upon the completion
of their university studies. The custom was observed in Mr. Gladstone's
early days even more than at the present. In accordance then with the
prevailing usage he went abroad after graduating at Oxford. In the
spring of 1832 he started on his travels and spent nearly the whole of
the next six months in Italy, "learning the language, studying the art,
and revelling in the natural beauties of that glorious land." In the
following September, however, he was suddenly recalled to England to
enter upon his first Parliamentary campaign.

At Oxford Toryism prevailed, and was of the old-fashioned type, far
removed from the utilitarian conservatism of the present day. Charles I
was a saint and a martyr, the claims of rank and birth were admitted
with a childlike simplicity, the high functions of government were the
birthright of the few, and the people had nothing to do with the laws,
except to obey them. Mr. Gladstone was a Tory. The political views he
held upon leaving Oxford had much to do with his recall from abroad and
his running for a seat in the House of Commons. Of these opinions held
by him then, and afterwards repudiated, he, in a speech delivered at the
opening of the Palmerston Club, Oxford, in December, 1878, says: "I
trace in the education of Oxford of my own time one great defect.
Perhaps it was my own fault; but I must admit that I did not learn, when
at Oxford, that which I have learned since, viz., to set a due value on
the imperishable and inestimable principles of human liberty. The temper
which, I think, too much prevailed in academic circles, was that liberty
was regarded with jealousy and fear, which could not be wholly dispensed
with, but which was continually to be watched for fear of excess.... I
think that the principle of the Conservative party is jealousy of
liberty and of the people, only qualified by fear; but I think the
policy of the Liberal party is trust in the people, only qualified by
prudence. I can only assure you, gentlemen, that now I am in front of
extended popular privileges. I have no fear of those enlargements of the
Constitution that seem to be approaching. On the contrary, I hail them
with desire. I am not in the least degree conscious that I have less
reverence for antiquity, for the beautiful, and good, and glorious
charges that our ancestors have handed down to us as a patrimony to our
race, than I had in other days when I held other political opinions. I
have learnt to set the true value upon human liberty, and in whatever I
have changed, there, and there only, has been the explanation of
the change."

It was Mr. Gladstone's Tory principles that led to an invitation from
the Duke of Newcastle, whose son, the Earl of Lincoln, afterwards a
member of Lord Aberdeen's Cabinet during the Crimean War, had been his
schoolmate at Eton and Oxford, and his intimate friend; to return to
England and to contest the representation of Newark in Parliament. In
accordance with this summons he hurried home.

Let us review the national situation. It was a time of general alarm and
uncertainty, from political unrest, commercial stagnation, and
devastating pestilence. "The terrors of the time begat a hundred forms
of strange fanaticism; and among men who were not fanatics there was a
deep and wide conviction that national judgments were overtaking
national sins, and that the only hope of safety for England lay in a
return to that practical recognition of religion in the political sphere
at the proudest moments of English history. 'The beginning and the end
of what is the matter with us in these days,' wrote Carlyle, 'is that we
have forgotten God.'"

England was in a condition of great political excitement and expectancy.
One of the greatest battles in Parliamentary history had just been
fought and won by the people. The Reform Bill, which admitted large
classes, hitherto unrepresented, to the right of citizenship, had
passed, after a long struggle, during which law and order were defied
and riots prevailed in various parts of the kingdom.

The King clearly perceiving that the wish of the people could no longer
be disregarded with safety, and heedless of the advice of the
aristocracy, gave his assent to the measure. This bill, which became a
law June 7, 1832, "transformed the whole of the Electoral arrangements
of the United Kingdom." It was demanded that the King be present in the
House of Lords to witness the ceremony of the subjugation of his crown
and peers, as it was deemed, but the King, feeling he had yielded enough
to the popular will, refused. Walpole, in his history, writes: "King and
Queen sat sullenly apart in their palace. Peer and country gentleman
moodily awaited the ruin of their country and the destruction of their
property. Fanaticism still raved at the wickedness of a people; the
people, clamoring for work, still succumbed before the mysterious
disease which was continually claiming more and more victims. But the
nation cared not for the sullenness of the Court, the forebodings of the
landed classes, the ravings of the pulpit, or even the mysterious
operations of a new plague. The deep gloom that had overshadowed the
land had been relieved by one single ray. The victory had been won. The
bill had become law."

The first reformed House of Commons, after the passage of the terrible
Reform Bill, met and was looked upon by some of the friends of Reform
with fond hopes and expectations, and by others, the Tories, with fear
and apprehension. The poor looked upon the Reform Bill as a measure for
their redemption, and the landed proprietors regarded it as the first
sign of departed national greatness. Both classes were disappointed. It
neither revived business nor despoiled owners. The result was a surprise
to politicians of both parties. The Reformers did not, as was
anticipated, carry their extreme measures, and the Tories did not
realize the great losses they expected. While the Ministry preserved its
power and even obtained some victories in England and Scotland, it
sustained serious defeats in Ireland. In England many earnest and
popular friends of Reform were defeated in the election, and some
counties, among them Bristol, Stamford, Hertford, Norwich and Newark,
were pronounced against the Ministry.

The Duke of Newcastle, who was one of the chief potentates of the high
Tory party, and had lost his control of Newark in 1831, by the election
of a Radical, was determined to regain it. He regarded it as his right
to be represented in the House of Commons, or that Newark should elect
whom he nominated. And he had propounded the memorable political maxim,
"Have I not a right to do what I like with my own?" The Duke wanted a
capable candidate to help him regain his ascendency. His son, Lord
Lincoln, here came to his aid. He had heard the remarkable speech of his
friend, Mr. Gladstone, in the Oxford Union, against the Reform Bill, and
had written home regarding him, that "a man had uprisen in Israel." At
his suggestion the Duke invited the young graduate of Oxford to run as
the Tory candidate for a seat in Parliament from Newark. The wisdom of
this selection for the accomplishment of the purpose in view, was fully

[Illustration: The Lobby of the House of Commons]

His personal appearance at this time may be thus described: He was
somewhat robust. His youthful face bore none of those deep furrows which
have rendered his countenance so remarkable in maturer years. But there
was the same broad intellectual forehead, the massive nose, the same
anxious eyes and the earnest enthusiasm of later years. His look was
bright and thoughtful and his bearing attractive. He was handsome and
possessed a most intelligent and expressive countenance. Says his
biographer, Mr. Russell: "William Ewart Gladstone was now twenty-two
years old, with a physical constitution of unequalled vigor, the
prospect of ample fortune, great and varied knowledge, and a natural
tendency to political theorization, and an inexhaustible copiousness and
readiness of speech. In person he was striking and attractive, with
strongly marked features, a pale complexion, abundance of dark hair and
eyes of piercing lustre. People who judged only by his external aspect
considered that he was delicate."

Young Gladstone found two opponents contesting with him to represent
Newark in Parliament, W.F. Handley and Sergeant Wilde, afterwards Lord
Chancellor Truro. The latter was an advanced Liberal and had
unsuccessfully contested the borough in 1829 and 1830, and had in
consideration of his defeat received from his sympathetic friends a
piece of plate inscribed: "By his ardent friends, the Blue electors of
the borough, who by their exertions and sufferings in the cause of
independence, largely conduced to awaken the attention of the nation to
the necessity of Reform in Parliament. Upon this humble token of respect
(contributed in the hour of defeat) the Blue electors of Newark inscribe
their sense of the splendid ability, unwearied perseverance, and
disinterested public spirit displayed by Sergeant Wilde in maintaining
the two contests of 1829 and 1830, in order to emancipate the borough
from political thraldoms, and restore to its inhabitants the free
exercise of their long-lost rights." But Sergeant Wilde was more
successful the following year, 1831, when the "Reform fever" was at its
height, and defeated the Duke of Newcastle's nominee and became member
of the House of Commons for the borough. These facts made the coming
election, which followed the passage of the Reform Bill, of unusual
interest, to those concerned, and the struggle would be of a close and
determined character.

Mr. Gladstone entered upon the contest with his experienced, able and
popular antagonist, with much against him, for he was young, unknown and
untried; but his youth and personal appearance and manly bearing were in
his favor, and these, with his eloquence and ready wit, gained for him
many friends. His speeches demonstrated that he lacked neither
arguments, nor words wherewith to clothe them. He needed, however, to
call into requisition all his abilities, for Sergeant Wilde was a
powerful antagonist, and had no thought of being displaced by his
youthful opponent, "a political stripling," as he called him, without a
desperate struggle. But Mr. Gladstone had behind him the ducal influence
and the support of the Red Club, so he entered upon the contest with
energy and enthusiasm.

The young Tory's first election address was delivered upon this
occasion. It was dated October 9th, 1832, was all such an address should
be, and was addressed, "To the worthy and independent electors of the
borough of Newark." It began by saying that he was bound in his opinions
by no man and no party, but that he deprecated the growing unreasonable
and indiscriminating desire for change then so common, but confessed
that labor has a right to "receive adequate remuneration." On the
question of human slavery, then greatly agitated, he remarked, "We are
agreed that both the physical and the moral bondage of the slave are to
be abolished. The question is as to the _order_, and the order only; now
Scripture attacks the moral evil _before_ the corporal one, the corporal
one _through_ the moral one, and I am content with the order which
Scripture has established." He saw insurmountable obstacles against
immediate emancipation, one of which was that the negro would exchange
the evil now affecting him for greater ones--for a relapse into deeper
debasement, if not for bloodshed and internal war.

He therefore advocated a system of Christian education, to make the
negro slaves fit for emancipation and to prepare them for freedom, Then,
he argued, without bloodshed and the violation of property rights, and
with unimpaired benefit to the negro, the desirable end might be reached
in the utter extinction of slavery.

Of this appropriate address, so important in the light of coming events,
we quote two paragraphs in full. In speaking of existing evils and the
remedies for them, he observed: "For the mitigation of these evils, we
must, I think, look not only to particular measures, but to the
restoration of sounder general principles. I mean especially that
principle on which alone the incorporation of Religion with the State in
our Constitution can be defended; that the duties of governors are
strictly and peculiarly religious; and that legislatures, like
individuals, are bound to carry throughout their acts the spirit of the
high truths they have acknowledged. Principles are now arrayed against
our institutions; and not by truckling nor by temporizing--not by
oppression nor corruption--but by principles they must be met.

"And now, gentlemen, as regards the enthusiasm with which you have
rallied round your ancient flag, and welcomed the humble representative
of those principles whose emblem it is, I trust that neither the lapse
of time nor the seductions of prosperity can ever efface it from my
memory. To my opponents, my acknowledgments are due for the good humor
and kindness with which they have received me; and while I would thank
my friends for their jealous and unwearied exertions in my favor, I
briefly but emphatically assure them, that if promises be an adequate
foundation of confidence, or experience a reasonable ground of
calculation, our victory _is sure_"

The new candidate for Parliamentary honors was "heckled," as it is
called, at the hustings, or was interrupted continually while speaking,
and questioned by his opponents as to the circumstances of his
candidature, his father's connection with slavery, and his own views of
capital punishment. From his first appearance in Newark, Mr. Gladstone
had been subjected to these examinations and he stood the ordeal well
and answered prudently. An instance of this is given. A Radical elector,
Mr. Gillson, asked the young Tory candidate if he was the Duke of
Newcastle's nominee, and was met by Mr. Gladstone demanding the
questioner's definition of the term "nominee." Mr. Gillson replied that
he meant a person sent by the Duke of Newcastle to be pushed down the
throats of the voters whether they would or not. But Mr. Gladstone was
equal to the occasion, and said according to that definition he was not
the nominee of the Duke, but came to Newark by the invitation of the Red
Club, than whom none were more respectable and intelligent.

This same Red Club was Conservative, and promised to Mr. Gladstone, the
thorough Conservative candidate, 650 votes, the whole number within its
ranks. He also received the promise of 240 votes of other electors. This
was known before the election, so that the result was confidently
predicted. On the 11th of December, 1832, the "nomination" was held and
the polling or election was held on the two following days, and Mr.
Gladstone was chosen by a considerable majority, the votes being,
Gladstone, 882; Handley, 793; Wilde, 719. Sergeant Wilde was defeated.

During the public discussions before the election Mr. Gladstone was
placed at a great disadvantage. There were three candidates to be heard
from and his speech was to be the last in order. Sergeant Wilde made a
very lengthy speech, which exhausted the patience of his hearers, who
had already stood for nearly seven hours, and showed disinclination to
listen to another three hours' address, which, from Mr. Gladstone's
talents, they were far from thinking impossible. The Sergeant was
condemned for occupying the attention of the electors for such an
inordinate length of time, but this did not prevent a scene of
outrageous noise and uproar when the Tory candidate rose to speak. The
important topic was slavery, but Mr. Gladstone had not proceeded far
when the hooting and hissing drowned his voice so that he found it
impossible to proceed. When a show of hands was demanded it was declared
in favor of Mr. Handley and Sergeant Wilde, but when the election came,
it was Mr. Gladstone who triumphed, as has been seen, and who was sent
to Parliament as the member from Newark.

In speaking of the manner in which the Parliamentary elections are
conducted, an English writer says: "Since 1832, few of those scenes of
violence, and even of bloodshed, which formerly distinguished
Parliamentary elections in many English boroughs, have been witnessed.
Some of these lawless outbreaks were doubtless due to the unpopularity
of the candidates forced upon the electors; but even in the largest
towns--where territorial influence had little sway--riots occurred upon
which we look back with doubtful amazement. Men holding strong political
views have ceased to enforce those views by the aid of brickbats and
other dangerous missiles. Yet at the beginning of the present century
such arguments were very popular. And to the violence which prevailed
was added the most unblushing bribery. Several boroughs, long notorious
for extensive bribery, have since been disfranchised. The practice,
however, extended to most towns in the kingdom, though it was not always
carried on in the same open manner. By a long established custom, a
voter at Hull received a donation of two guineas, or four for a
plumper. In Liverpool men were openly paid for their votes; and Lord
Cochrane stated in the House of Commons that, after his return for
Honiton, he sent the town-crier round the borough to tell the voters to
go to the chief banker for £10 10s. each. The great enlargement of the
constituencies, secured by the Reform Bill of 1832, did much to put an
end to this disgraceful condition of things; but to a wider political
enlightenment also, some portion of the credit for such a result must be

What the friends and foes of the new Tory member for Newark thought of
his successful canvass and election, it is interesting to learn. When
Mr. Gladstone entered upon the contest the question was frequently put,
"Who is Mr. Gladstone?" And it was answered, "He is the son of the
friend of Mr. Canning, the great Liverpool merchant. He is, we
understand, not more than four or five and twenty, but he has won golden
opinions from all sorts of people, and promises to be an ornament to the
House of Commons." And a few days after his election he addressed a
meeting of the Constitutional Club, at Nottingham, when a Conservative
journal made the first prophecy as to his future great political fame,
saying: "He will one day be classed amongst the most able statesmen in
the British Senate." The impression his successful contest made upon the
late friends of his school-days may be learned from the following: A
short time before the election Arthur Hallam, writing of his friend,
"the old _W.E.G._," says: "I shall be very glad if he gets in.... We


Back to Full Books