The Grand Old Man
Richard B. Cook

Part 4 out of 6

Robert Peel a failure. Mr. Disraeli's power of forgetfulness of the past
is one of the most fortunate ever conferred upon a statesman. During the
debate he declared that the main reason why his party had opposed Free
Trade was not that it would injure the landlord, nor the farmer, but
that "it would prove injurious to the cause of labor." "He also said,
though interrupted by cries of astonishment and of 'Oh, oh!' that not a
single attempt had been made in the House of Commons to abrogate the
measure of 1846." Mr. Sidney Herbert, who was wounded to the quick by
the assaults on Sir Robert Peel, rose to defend the great Conservative
statesman. His speech contained one passage of scathing invective
addressed to Mr. Disraeli.

Mr. Herbert said: "The memory of Sir Robert Peel requires no
vindication--his memory is embalmed in the grateful recollection of the
people of this country; and I say, if ever retribution is wanted--for it
is not words that humiliate, but deeds--if a man wants to see
humiliation, which God knows is always a painful sight, he need but look
there!"--and upon this Mr. Herbert pointed with his finger to Mr.
Disraeli sitting on the Treasury Bench. The sting of invective is truth,
and Mr. Herbert certainly spoke daggers if he used none; yet the
Chancellor of the Exchequer sat impassive as a Sphinx.

Parliament was dissolved soon after the formation of the new government,
July 1, 1852, and during the recess, September 14, 1852, the Duke of
Wellington passed away and a public funeral was given the victor
of Waterloo.

On the assembling of Parliament Mr. Gladstone delivered a eulogy on the
Duke, drawing special lessons from his illustrious career, which had
been prolonged to a green old age. Mr. Gladstone said: "While many of
the actions of his life, while many of the qualities he possessed, are
unattainable by others, there are lessons which we may all derive from
the life and actions of that illustrious man. It may never be given to
another subject of the British Crown to perform services so brilliant as
he performed; it may never be given to another man to hold the sword
which was to gain the independence of Europe, to rally the nations
around it, and while England saved herself by her constancy, to save
Europe by her example; it may never be given to another man, after
having attained such eminence, after such an unexampled series of
victories, to show equal moderation in peace as he has shown greatness
in war, and to devote the remainder of his life to the cause of internal
and external peace for that country which he has so well served; it may
never be given to another man to have equal authority, both with the
Sovereign he served and with the Senate of which he was to the end a
venerated member; it may never be given to another man after such a
career to preserve, even to the last, the full possession of those great
faculties with which he was endowed, and to carry on the services of one
of the most important departments of the State with unexampled
regularity and success, even to the latest day of his life. These are
circumstances, these are qualities, which may never occur again in the
history of this country. But these are qualities which the Duke of
Wellington displayed, of which we may all act in humble imitation: that
sincere and unceasing devotion to our country; that honest and upright
determination to act for the benefit of the country on every occasion;
that devoted loyalty, which, while it made him ever anxious to serve the
Crown, never induced him to conceal from the Sovereign that which he
believed to be the truth; that devotedness in the constant performance
of duty; that temperance of his life, which enabled him at all times to
give his mind and his faculties to the services which he was called on
to perform; that regular, consistent, and unceasing piety by which he
was distinguished at all times of his life; these are qualities that are
attainable by others, and these are qualities which should not be lost
as an example."

At this session of Parliament Mr. Disraeli brought forward his second
budget in a five hour speech. The new Chancellor of the Exchequer
proposed to remit a portion of the taxes upon malt, tea, and sugar, but
to counterbalance these losses he also proposed to extend the income-tax
and house-tax. The debate, which was very personal, was prolonged
several days, and Mr. Disraeli, towards its close, bitterly attacked
several members, among them Sir James Graham, whom Mr. Gladstone not
only defended, but in so doing administered a scathing rebuke to the
Chancellor for his bitter invective and personal abuse. Mr. Gladstone's
speech at the close of Mr. Disraeli's presentation was crushing, and was
generally regarded as giving the death-blow to this financial scheme.

Mr. Gladstone told Mr. Disraeli that he was not entitled to charge with
insolence men of as high position and of as high character in the House
as himself, and when the cheers which had interrupted him had subsided,
concluded: "I must tell the right honorable gentleman that he is not
entitled to say to my right honorable friend, the member for Carlisle,
that he regards but does not respect him. And I must tell him that
whatever else he has learnt--and he has learnt much--he has not learnt
to keep within those limits of discretion, of moderation, and of
forbearance that ought to restrain the conduct and language of every
member in this House, the disregard of which, while it is an offence in
the meanest amongst us, is an offence of tenfold weight when committed
by the leader of the House of Commons."

The thrilling scene enacted in the House of Commons on that memorable
night is thus described: "In the following month the Chancellor of the
Exchequer produced his second budget. It was an ambitious and a skillful
attempt to reconcile conflicting interests, and to please all while
offending none. The government had come into office pledged to do
something for the relief of the agricultural interests. They redeemed
their pledge by reducing the duty on malt. This reduction created a
deficit; and they repaired the deficit by doubling the duty on inhabited
houses. Unluckily, the agricultural interests proved, as usual,
ungrateful to its benefactors, and made light of the reduction on malt;
while those who were to pay for it in double taxation were naturally
indignant. The voices of criticism, 'angry, loud, discordant voices,'
were heard simultaneously on every side. The debate waxed fast and
furious. In defending his hopeless proposals, Mr. Disraeli gave full
scope to his most characteristic gift; he pelted his opponents right and
left with sarcasms, taunts, and epigrams, and went as near personal
insult as the forms of Parliament permit. He sat down late at night, and
Mr. Gladstone rose in a crowded and excited House to deliver an
unpremeditated reply which has ever since been celebrated. Even the cold
and colorless pages of 'Hansard' show signs of the excitement under
which he labored, and of the tumultuous applause and dissent by which
his opening sentences were interrupted. 'The speech of the Chancellor of
the Exchequer,' he said, 'must be answered on the moment. It must be
tried by the laws of decency and propriety.'" He indignantly rebuked his
rival's language and demeanor. He reminded him of the discretion and
decorum due from every member, but pre-eminently due from the leader of
the House. He tore his financial scheme to ribbons. It was the beginning
of a duel which lasted till death removed one of the combatants from the
political arena. 'Those who had thought it impossible that any
impression could be made upon the House after the speech of Mr.
Disraeli had to acknowledge that a yet greater impression was produced
by the unprepared reply of Mr. Gladstone.' The House divided and the
government were left in a minority of nineteen. This happened in the
early morning of December 17, 1852. Within an hour of the division Lord
Derby wrote to the Queen a letter announcing his defeat and the
consequences which it must entail, and that evening at Osborne he placed
his formal resignation in her majesty's hands.

It is related as an evidence of the intense excitement, if not frenzy,
that prevailed at the time, that Mr. Gladstone met with indignity at his
Club. Greville, in his "Memoirs," says that, "twenty ruffians of the
Carleton Club" had given a dinner to Major Beresford, who had been
charged with bribery at the Derby election and had escaped with only a
censure, and that "after dinner, when they were drunk, they went up
stairs and finding Mr. Gladstone alone in the drawing-room, some of them
proposed to throw him out of the window. This they did not quite dare to
do, but contented themselves with giving some insulting message or order
to the waiter and then went away." Mr. Gladstone, however, remained a
member of the Club until he joined the Whig administration in 1859.

Mr. Gladstone's crushing _exposť_ of the blunders of Mr. Disraeli's
budget was almost ludicrous in its completeness, and it was universally
felt that the scheme could not survive his brilliant attack. The effect
that the merciless criticism of Disraeli's budget was not only the
discomfiture of Mr. Disraeli and the overthrow of the Russell
administration, but the elevation of Mr. Gladstone to the place vacated
by Chancellor Disraeli.

The Earl of Aberdeen became Prime Minister. The new government was a
coalition of Whigs and Peelites, with a representative of the Radicals
in the person of Sir William Molesworth. Mr. Gladstone, the Duke of
Newcastle, Sir James Graham and Mr. Sidney Herbert were the Peelites in
the Cabinet. Mr. Gladstone was chosen Chancellor of the Exchequer.

We may refer here to a letter of Mr. Gladstone, written Christmas, 1851,
in order to show his growing Liberalism. The letter was to Dr. Skinner,
Bishop of Aberdeen and Primus, on the positions and functions of the
laity in the Church. This letter is remarkable, because, as Dr. Charles
Wordsworth, Bishop of St. Andrew's, said at the time, "it contained the
germ of liberation and the political equality of all religions." The
Bishop published a controversial rejoinder, which drew from Dr.
Gaisford, Dean of Christ Church, these emphatic words: "You have proved
to my satisfaction that this gentleman is unfit to represent the
University," meaning the representation for Oxford in Parliament.

This feeling was growing, for when the Russell Ministry fell and it
became necessary for Mr. Gladstone, because he accepted a place in the
Cabinet, to appeal for re-election to his constituents at Oxford, he met
with much opposition, because of his Liberalism. Appealing to his
university to return him, and endorse his acceptance of office in the
new Ministry of the Earl of Aberdeen, Mr. Gladstone soon discovered that
he had made many enemies by his manifest tendencies toward
Liberal-Conservatism. He had given unmistakable evidence that he held
less firmly the old traditions of that unbending Toryism of which he was
once the most promising representative. Lord Derby, whom he had deposed,
had been elected Chancellor of the University to succeed the Duke of
Wellington, deceased. Consequently his return to the House was ardently
contested. His opponents looked around for a candidate of strong
Conservative principles. The Marquis of Chandos, who was first elected,
declined to run in opposition to Mr. Gladstone; but at length a suitable
opponent was found in Mr. Dudley Perceval, of Christ Church, son of the
Right Hon. Spencer Perceval, who was nominated January 4th.

Dr. Hawkins, Provost of Oriel, one of the twenty colleges of Oxford,
proposed Mr. Gladstone, and Archdeacon Denison, leader of the High
Church party, proposed Mr. Dudley Perceval. According to the custom at
university elections, neither candidate was present. It was objected to
Mr. Gladstone that he had voted improperly on ecclesiastical questions,
and had accepted office in "a hybrid ministry." The "Times" described
Mr. Perceval as "a very near relative of our old friend Mrs. Harris. To
remove any doubt on this point, let him be exhibited at Exeter Hall with
the documentary evidence of his name, existence and history; his
first-class, his defeat at Finsbury, his talents, his principles. If we
must go to Oxford to record our votes it would at least be something to
know that we were voting against a real man and not a mere name." The
"Morning Chronicle," on the other hand, affirmed that a section of the
Carleton Club were "making a tool of the Oxford Convocation for the
purpose of the meanest and smallest political rancor against Mr.

Mr. Gladstone, who fought the battle on ecclesiastical lines, wrote,
after the nomination, to the chairman of his election committee,
as follows:

"Unless I had a full and clear conviction that the interests of the
Church, whether as relates to the legislative functions of Parliament,
or the impartial and wise recommendation of fit persons to her majesty
for high ecclesiastical offices, were at least as safe in the hands of
Lord Aberdeen as in those of Lord Derby (though I would on no account
disparage Lord Derby's personal sentiments towards the Church), I should
not have accepted office under Lord Aberdeen. As regards the second, if
it be thought that during twenty years of public life, or that during
the latter part of them, I have failed to give guarantees of attachment
to the interests of the Church--to such as so think I can offer neither
apology nor pledge. To those who think otherwise, I tender the assurance
that I have not by my recent assumption of office made any change
whatever in that particular, or in any principles relating to it."

Mr. Gladstone was again elected by a fair majority and returned to
Parliament. Seventy-four of the professors voted for Mr. Gladstone and
fifteen for Mr. Perceval.

When Parliament assembled the Earl of Aberdeen announced in the House of
Lords that the measures of the Government would be both Conservative and
Liberal,--at home to maintain Free Trade principles and to pursue the
commercial and financial system of the late Sir Robert Peel, and abroad
to secure the general peace of Europe without relaxing defensive

Mr. Gladstone had already proved himself to have a wonderful mastery of
figures, and the confused technicalities of finance. He did not
disappoint the hopes of his friends in regard to his fiscal abilities.
On the contrary, he speedily inaugurated a new and brilliant era in
finance. Previous to presenting his first budget, in 1853, Mr. Gladstone
brought forward a scheme for the reduction of the national debt, which
was approved by Radicals as well as Conservatives, and adopted by the
House. The scheme worked most successfully until the breaking out of the
Crimean war. During this very short period of two years the public debt
was reduced by more than $57,500,000.

In consequence of his general reputation and also of this brilliant
financial scheme, the first budget of Mr. Gladstone was waited for with
intense interest. His first budget was introduced April 18, 1853. It was
one of his greatest budgets, and for statesmanlike breadth of conception
it has never been surpassed. In bringing it forward Mr. Gladstone spoke
five hours, and during that length of time held the House spellbound.
The speech was delivered with the greatest ease, and was perspicuity
itself throughout. Even when dealing with the most abstruse financial
detail his language flowed on without interruption, and he never paused
for a word. "Here was an orator who could apply all the resources of a
burnished rhetoric to the elucidation of figures; who could make pippins
and cheese interesting and tea serious; who could sweep the widest
horizon of the financial future and yet stoop to bestow the minutest
attention on the microcosm of penny stamps and post-horses. The members
on the floor and ladies in the gallery of the House listened attentively
and showed no signs of weariness throughout." A contemporary awarded to
him the palm for unsurpassed fluency and choice of diction, and says:

"The impression produced upon the minds of the crowded and brilliant
assembly by Mr. Gladstone's evident mastery and grasp of the subject,
was, that England had at length found a skillful financier, upon whom
the mantle of Peel had descended. The cheering when the right honorable
gentleman sat down was of the most enthusiastic and prolonged character,
and his friends and colleagues hastened to tender him their warm
congratulations upon the distinguished success he had achieved in his
first budget."

The budget provided for the gradual reduction of the income tax to
expire in 1860; for an increase in the duty on spirits; for the
abolition of the soap duties; the reduction of the tax on cabs and
hackney coaches; the introduction of the penny receipt stamp and the
equalization of the assessed taxes on property. By these provisions it
was proposed to make life easier and cheaper for large and numerous
classes. The duty on 123 articles was abolished and the duty on 133
others reduced, the total relief amounting to $25,000,000. Mr. Gladstone
gave a clear exposition of the income tax, which he declared was never
intended to be permanent. It had been the last resort in times of
national danger, and he could not consent to retain it as a part of the
permanent and ordinary finances of the country. It was objectionable on
account of its unequal incidence, of the harassing investigation into
private affairs which it entailed and of the frauds to which it
inevitably led.

The value of the reduction in the necessities of life proposed by Mr.
Gladstone is seen from the following from a contemporary writer:

"The present budget, more than any other budget within our recollection,
is a cupboard budget; otherwise, a poor man's budget. With certain very
ugly features, the thing has altogether a good, hopeful aspect, together
with very fair proportions. It is not given to any Chancellor of the
Exchequer to make a budget fascinating as a fairy tale. Nevertheless,
there are visions of wealth and comfort in the present budget that
mightily recommend it to us. It seems to add color and fatness to the
poor man's beef; to give flavor and richness to the poor man's
plum-pudding. The budget is essentially a cupboard budget; and let the
name of Gladstone be, for the time at least, musical at the poor man's

It unquestionably established Gladstone as the foremost financier of
his day. Greville, in his "Memoirs," says of him: "He spoke for five
hours; and by universal consent it was one of the grandest displays and
most able financial statements that ever was heard in the House of
Commons; a great scheme, boldly and skillfully and honestly devised,
disdaining popular clamor and pressure from without, and the execution
of its absolute perfection."

We reproduce some extracts from this important speech: "Depend upon it,
when you come to close quarters with this subject, when you come to
measure and test the respective relations of intelligence and labor and
property in all their myriad and complex forms, and when you come to
represent those relations in arithmetical results, you are undertaking
an operation of which I should say it was beyond the power of man to
conduct it with satisfaction, but which, at any rate, is an operation to
which you ought not constantly to recur; for if, as my noble friend once
said with universal applause, this country could not bear a revolution
once a year, I will venture to say that it cannot bear a reconstruction
of the income tax once a year.

"Whatever you do in regard to the income tax, you must be bold, you must
be intelligible, you must be decisive. You must not palter with it. If
you do, I have striven at least to point out as well as my feeble
powers will permit, the almost desecration I would say, certainly the
gross breach of duty to your country, of which you will be found guilty,
in thus putting to hazard one of the most potent and effective among all
its material resources. I believe it to be of vital importance, whether
you keep this tax or whether you part with it, that you should either
keep it or should leave it in a state in which it will be fit for
service on an emergency, and that it will be impossible to do if you
break up the basis of your income tax.

"If the Committee have followed me, they will understand that we found
ourselves on the principle that the income-tax ought to be marked as a
temporary measure; that the public feeling that relief should be given
to intelligence and skill as compared with property ought to be met, and
may be met with justice and with safety, in the manner we have pointed
out; that the income tax in its operation ought to be mitigated by every
rational means, compatible with its integrity; and, above all, that it
should be associated in the last term of its existence, as it was in the
first, with those remissions of indirect taxation which have so greatly
redoubled to the profit of this country and have set so admirable an
example--an example that has already in some quarters proved contagious
to the other nations of the earth, These are the principles on which we
stand, and these the figures. I have shown you that if you grant us the
taxes which we ask, to the moderate amount of £2,500,000 in the whole,
much less than that sum for the present year, you, or the Parliament
which may be in existence in 1860, will be in the condition, if it shall
so think fit, to part with the income tax."

Sir, I scarcely dare to look at the clock, shamefully reminding me, as
it must, how long, how shamelessly, I have trespassed on the time of the
committee. All I can say in apology is that I have endeavored to keep
closely to the topics which I had before me--

--immensum spatiis confecimus aequor,
Et jam tempus equum fumantia solvere colla.

"These are the proposals of the Government. They may be approved or they
may be condemned, but I have at least this full and undoubting
confidence, that it will on all hands be admitted that we have not
sought to evade the difficulties of our position; that we have not
concealed those difficulties, either from ourselves or from others; that
we have not attempted to counteract them by narrow or flimsy expedients;
that we have prepared plans which, if you will adopt them, will go some
way to close up many vexed financial questions--questions such as, if
not now settled, may be attended with public inconvenience, and even
with public danger, in future years and under less favorable
circumstances; that we have endeavored, in the plans we have now
submitted to you, to make the path of our successors in future years not
more arduous but more easy; and I may be permitted to add that, while we
have sought to do justice, by the changes we propose in taxation, to
intelligence and skill as compared with property--while we have sought
to do justice to the great laboring community of England by furthering
their relief from indirect taxation, we have not been guided by any
desire to put one class against another. We have felt we should best
maintain our own honor, that we should best meet the views of
Parliament, and best promote the interests of the country, by declining
to draw any invidious distinctions between class and class, by adapting
it to ourselves as a sacred aim to differ and distribute--burden if we
must, benefit if we may--with equal and impartial hand; and we have the
consolation of believing that by proposals such as these we contribute,
as far as in us lies, not only to develop the material resources of the
country, but to knit the hearts of the various classes of this great
nation yet more closely than heretofore to that throne and to those
institutions under which it is their happiness to live."

It is seldom that a venture of such magnitude as Mr. Gladstone's first
budget meets with universal success. But from the outset the plan was
received with universal favor. Besides the plaudits with which the
orator was greeted at the conclusion of his speech, his proposals were
received favorably by the whole nation. Being constructed upon Free
Trade principles, it was welcomed by the press and the country. It added
greatly, not only to the growing reputation of the new Chancellor of the
Exchequer as a financier, but also to his popularity.

The following anecdote of Mr. Gladstone is told by Walter Jerrold and is
appropriate as well as timely here:

"During Mr. Gladstone's first tenure of office as Chancellor of the
Exchequer, a curious adventure occurred to him in the London offices of
the late Mr. W. Lindsay, merchant, shipowner and M.P. There one day
entered a brusque and wealthy shipowner of Sunderland, inquiring for Mr.
Lindsay. As Mr. Lindsay was out, the visitor was requested to wait in an
adjacent room, where he found a person busily engaged in copying some
figures. The Sunderland shipowner paced the room several times and took
careful note of the writer's doings, and at length said to him, 'Thou
writes a bonny hand, thou dost.'

"'I am glad you think so,' was the reply.

"'Ah, thou dost. Thou makes thy figures weel. Thou'rt just the chap I

"'Indeed!' said the Londoner.

"'Yes, indeed,' said the Sunderland man. 'I'm a man of few words. Noo,
if thou'lt come over to canny ould Sunderland thou seest I'll give thee
a hundred and twenty pounds a year, and that's a plum thou dost not meet
with every day in thy life, I reckon. Noo then.'

"The Londoner replied that he was much obliged for the offer, and would
wait till Mr. Lindsay returned, whom he would consult upon the subject.
Accordingly, on the return of the latter, he was informed of the
shipowner's tempting offer.

"'Very well,' said Mr. Lindsay, 'I should be sorry to stand in your way.
One hundred and twenty pounds is more than I can afford to pay you in
the department in which you are at present placed. You will find my
friend a good and kind master, and, under the circumstances, the sooner
you know each other the better. Allow me, therefore, Mr.----, to
introduce you to the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone, Chancellor of the
Exchequer.' The Sunderland shipowner was a little taken aback at first,
but he soon recovered his self-possession, and enjoyed the joke quite as
much as Mr. Gladstone did."



The Crimean War, the great event with which the Aberdeen Cabinet was
associated, was a contest between Russia and Turkey, England and France.
A dispute which arose between Russia and Turkey as to the possession of
the Holy Places of Jerusalem was the precipitating cause. For a long
time the Greek and the Latin Churches had contended for the possession
of the Holy Land. Russia supported the claim of the Greek Church, and
France that of the Papal Church. The Czar claimed a Protectorate over
all the Greek subjects of the Porte. Russia sought to extend her
conquests south and to seize upon Turkey. France and England sustained
Turkey. Sardinia afterwards joined the Anglo-French alliance.

The people of England generally favored the war, and evinced much
enthusiasm at the prospect of it. Lord Aberdeen and Mr. Gladstone wished
England to stand aloof. The Peelite members of the cabinet were
generally less inclined to war than the Whigs. Lord Palmerston and Lord
John Russell favored England's support of Turkey. Some thought that
England could have averted the war by pursuing persistently either of
two courses: to inform Turkey that England would give her no aid; or to
warn Russia that if she went to war, England would fight for Turkey. But
with a ministry halting between two opinions, and the people demanding
it, England "drifted into war" with Russia.

July 2, 1853, the Russian troops crossed the Pruth and occupied the
Danubian Principalities which had been by treaty, in 1849, evacuated by
Turkey and Russia, and declared by both powers neutral territory between
them. London was startled, October 4, 1853, by a telegram announcing
that the Sultan had declared war against Russia. England and France
jointly sent an _ultimatum_ to the Czar, to which no answer was
returned. March 28, 1854, England declared war.

On the 12th of March, while great excitement prevailed and public
meetings were held throughout England, declaring for and against war,
Mr. Gladstone made an address on the occasion of the inauguration of the
statue of Sir Robert Peel, at Manchester. He spoke of the designs of
Russia, and described her as a power which threatened to override all
other powers, and as a source of danger to the peace of the world.
Against such designs, seen in Russia's attempt to overthrow the Ottoman
Empire, England had determined to set herself at whatever cost. War was
a calamity that the government did not desire to bring upon the country,
"a calamity which stained the face of nature with human gore, gave loose
rein to crime, and took bread from the people. No doubt negotiation is
repugnant to the national impatience at the sight of injustice and
oppression; it is beset with delay, intrigue, and chicane; but these are
not so horrible as war, if negotiation can be made to result in saving
this country from a calamity which deprives the nation of subsistence
and arrests the operations of industry. To attain that result ... Her
Majesty's Ministers have persevered in exercising that self-command and
that self-restraint which impatience may mistake for indifference,
feebleness or cowardice, but which are truly the crowning greatness of a
great people, and which do not evince the want of readiness to
vindicate, when the time comes, the honor of this country."

In November a conference of some of the European powers was held at
Vienna to avert the war by mediating between Russia and Turkey, but was
unsuccessful. Mr. Gladstone said: "Austria urged the two leading
states, England and France, to send in their _ultimatum_ to Russia, and
promised it her decided support.... Prussia at the critical moment, to
speak in homely language, bolted.... In fact, she broke up the European
concert, by which France and England had hoped to pull down the
stubbornness of the Czar."

Mr. Gladstone had opposed the war, not only on humanitarian and
Christian grounds, but also because the preparation of a war budget
overthrew all his financial schemes and hopes; a new budget was
necessary, and he as Chancellor of the Exchequer must prepare it.
Knowing that the struggle was inevitable, he therefore bent his energies
to the task and conceived a scheme for discharging the expenses of the
war out of the current revenue, provided it required no more than ten
million pounds extra, so that the country should not be permanently
burdened. It would require to do this the imposition of fresh taxes.

"It thus fell to the lot of the most pacific of Ministers, the devotee
of retrenchment, and the anxious cultivator of all industrial arts, to
prepare a war budget, and to meet as well as he might the exigencies of
a conflict which had so cruelly dislocated all the ingenious devices of
financial optimism."

Mr. Gladstone afterwards moved for over six and a half millions of
pounds more than already granted, and proposed a further increase in the
taxes. Mr. Disraeli opposed Mr. Gladstone's budget. He devised a scheme
to borrow and thus increase the debt. He opposed the imposition of new
taxes. Mr. Gladstone said: "Every good motive and every bad motive,
combated only by the desire of the approval of honorable men and by
conscientious rectitude--every motive of ease, comfort, and of certainty
spring forward to induce a Chancellor of the Exchequer to become the
first man to recommend a loan." Mr. Gladstone was sustained.

The war had begun in earnest. The Duke of Newcastle received a telegram
on the 21st of September announcing that 25,000 English troops, 25,000
French and 8000 Turks had landed safely at Eupatoria "without meeting
with any resistance, and had already begun to march upon Sebastopol."

The war was popular with the English people, but the ministry of Lord
Aberdeen, which inaugurated it, was becoming unpopular. This became
apparent in the autumn of 1854. There were not actual dissensions in the
Cabinet, but there was great want of harmony as to the conduct of the
war. The Queen knew with what reluctance Lord Aberdeen had entered upon
the war, but she had the utmost confidence in him as a man and a
statesman. She was most desirous that the war be prosecuted with vigor,
and trusted the Premier for the realization of her hopes and those of
the nation, but unity in the Cabinet was necessary for the successful
prosecution of the war.

Parliament assembled December 12, 1854, "under circumstances more
stirring and momentous than any which had occurred since the year of
Waterloo." The management of the war was the main subject under
discussion. The English troops had covered themselves with glory in the
battles of Alma, Balaclava and Inkermann. But the sacrifice was great.
Thousands were slain and homes made desolate, while the British army was
suffering greatly, and the sick and wounded were needing attention. Half
a million pounds were subscribed in three months, and Miss Florence
Nightingale with thirty-seven lady nurses, soon to be reinforced by
fifty more, set out at once for the seat of war to nurse the sick and
wounded soldiers. It is recorded that "they reached Scutari on the 5th
of November, in time to receive the soldiers who had been wounded at the
battle of Balaclava. On the arrival of Miss Nightingale the great
hospital at Scutari, in which up to this time all had been chaos and
discomfort, was reduced to order, and those tender lenitives which only
woman's thought and woman's sympathy can bring to the sick man's couch,
were applied to solace and alleviate the agonies of pain or the torture
of fever and prostration."

It was natural to attribute the want of proper management to the
ministry, and hence the Government found itself under fire. In the House
of Lords the Earl of Derby condemned the inefficient manner in which the
war had been carried on, the whole conduct of the ministry in the war,
and the insufficiency of the number of troops sent out to check the
power of Russia. The Duke of Newcastle replied, and while not defending
all the actions of the ministry during the war, yet contended that the
government were prepared to prosecute it with resolve and unflinching
firmness. While not standing ready to reject overtures of peace, they
would not accept any but an honorable termination of the war. The
ministry relied upon the army, the people, and upon their allies with
the full confidence of ultimate success.

Mr. Disraeli, in the House of Commons, attacked the policy of the
ministry from beginning to end. Everything was a blunder or a mishap of
some description or other; the government had invaded Russia with 25,000
troops without providing any provision for their support.

When the House of Commons assembled, in January, 1855, it became
apparent that there was a determination to sift to the bottom the
charges that had been made against the ministry regarding their manner
of carrying on the war. The Queen expressed her sympathy for Lord
Aberdeen, who was in a most unenviable position. Motions hostile to the
government were introduced in the House of Lords, while in the House of
Commons Mr. Roebuck moved for a select committee "to inquire into the
condition of the army before Sebastopol, and into the conduct of those
departments of the government whose duty it has been to minister to the
wants of the army."

Lord John Russell resigned his office and left his colleagues to face
the vote. He could not see how Mr. Roebuck's motion could be resisted.
This seemed to portend the downfall of the ministry. The Duke of
Newcastle, Secretary of War, offered to retire to save the government.
Lord Palmerston believed that the breaking up of the ministry would be a
calamity to the country, but he doubted the expediency of the retirement
of the Duke of Newcastle, and his own fitness for the place of Minister
of War, if vacated. Finally the Cabinet resolved to hold together,
except Lord John Russell.

In the debate it was declared that the condition of things at the seat
of war was exaggerated; but the speech of Mr. Stafford caused a great
sensation. He described the sufferings which he declared he had himself
witnessed. He summed up by quoting the language of a French officer, who
said: "You seem, sir, to carry on war according to the system of the
Middle Ages." The situation of the ministry was critical before, but
this speech seemed to make sure the passage of the resolutions.

It was under all these depressing circumstances that Mr. Gladstone rose
to defend himself and his colleagues. In a fine passage he thus
described what the position of the Cabinet would have been if they had
shrunk from their duty: "What sort of epitaph would have been written
over their remains? He himself would have written it thus: Here lie the
dishonored ashes of a ministry which found England at peace and left it
in war, which was content to enjoy the emoluments of office and to wield
the sceptre of power so long as no man had the courage to question their
existence. They saw the storm gathering over the country; they heard the
agonizing accounts which were almost daily received of the state of the
sick and wounded in the East. These things did not move them. But as
soon as the Honorable Member for Sheffield raised his hand to point the
thunderbolt, they became conscience-stricken with a sense of guilt, and,
hoping to escape punishment, they ran away from duty."

This eloquent passage was received with tumultuous cheers. Mr.
Gladstone claimed that there had been many exaggerations as to the state
of the army and there were then more than 30,000 British troops under
arms before Sebastopol. The administration of the War Department at home
was no doubt defective, but he declined to admit that it had not
improved, or that it was as bad as to deserve formal censure, and the
Duke of Newcastle did not merit the condemnation sought to be cast on
him as the head of the War Department.

Mr. Disraeli was eagerly heard when he rose to speak. He said that the
government admitted that they needed reconstruction, and that now the
House was called upon to vote confidence in the administration. It was
not the Duke of Newcastle nor the military system, but the policy of the
whole Cabinet which he characterized as a "deplorable administration."

The result of the vote was a strange surprise to all parties, and one of
the greatest ever experienced in Parliamentary history. The vote for Mr.
Roebuck's committee was 205; and against it, 148; a majority against the
ministry of 157. "The scene was a peculiar and probably an unparalleled
one. The cheers which are usually heard from one side or the other of
the House on the numbers of a division being announced, were not
forthcoming. The members were for a moment spellbound with
astonishment, then there came a murmur of amazement and finally a burst
of general laughter." The resignation of the Aberdeen ministry was
announced February 1st, the Duke of Newcastle stating that it had been
his intention to give up the office of Secretary of War whether Mr.
Roebuck's resolution had passed or not.

Thus was overthrown the famous coalition Cabinet of Lord Aberdeen--one
of the most brilliant ever seen--a Cabinet distinguished for its
oratorical strength, and for the conspicuous abilities of its chief
members. Mr. Gladstone, who was the most distinguished Peelite in the
Cabinet, certainly could not, up to this period, be suspected of
lukewarmness in the prosecution of the war. Lord Palmerston formed a
reconstructed rather than a new Cabinet. Mr. Gladstone and his friends
at first declined to serve in the new Cabinet, out of regard for the
Duke of Newcastle and Lord Aberdeen, the real victims of the adverse
vote. But these noblemen besought Mr. Gladstone not to let his personal
feelings stand in the way of his own interests, and not to deprive the
country of his great services, so he resumed office as Chancellor of the
Exchequer. Lord Palmerston had been regarded as the coming man, and his
name carried weight upon the Continent and at home. But the new
ministry was surrounded by serious difficulties, and did not pull
together very long. The War Minister, Lord Panmure, entered upon his
duties with energy, and proposed, February 16th, his remedy for existing
evils; but on the 19th of February Mr. Layard in the House of Commons
said, "the country stood on the brink of ruin--it had fallen into the
abyss of disgrace and become the laughing-stock of Europe." He declared
that the new ministry differed little from the last.

Lord Palmerston, in answer to inquiries, lamented the sufferings of the
army and confessed that mishaps had been made, but the present ministry
had come forward in an emergency and from a sense of public duty, and he
believed would obtain the confidence of the country. But another strange
turn in events was at hand. Mr. Roebuck gave notice of the appointment
of his committee. Hostility to the ministry was disclaimed, but Mr.
Gladstone, Sir James Graham and Mr. Sidney Herbert took the same view of
the question they had previously taken. They were opposed to the
investigation as a dangerous breach of a great constitutional principle,
and if the committee was granted, it would be a precedent from whose
repetition the Executive could never again escape, however unreasonable
might be the nature of the demand. They therefore retired from office.

The report of the committee, when presented, practically advised a vote
of censure upon the Aberdeen Cabinet for the sufferings of the British
army, hence the house declined to entertain it by a large majority of
107. As the appointment of the committee, however, was the only way to
allay the popular excitement, there were many who thought that the
Peelites would have done well to recognize the urgency of the crisis and
not to have abandoned the Government.

The resignation of Mr. Gladstone made him very unpopular. However, "the
wave of unpopularity lasted perhaps for a couple of years, and was
afterwards replaced by a long-sustained popularity, which has not been
exceeded by any statesman of the country. Greville referred to Gladstone
about this time as 'the most unpopular man in the country.'"

March 2d the Emperor Nicholas died suddenly, and there were momentary
hopes of peace; but his successor, Alexander, resolved to prosecute the
struggle rather than yield the positions taken by the late Czar. He
issued a warlike proclamation, and though he agreed to take part in the
Vienna Conference of European powers, to be held March 15th, there were
no signs that he intended to recede from the Russian claims.

Lord John Russell was sent to Vienna as English Plenipotentiary. The
English aimed to secure the limitation of the preponderance of Russia in
the Black Sea, and the acknowledgment of Turkey as one of the great
European powers. To gain these points would, it was thought, end the
war. Russia "would not consent to limit the number of her ships--if she
did so she forfeited her honor, she would be no longer Russia. They did
not want Turkey, they would be glad to maintain the Sultan, but they
knew it was impossible; he must perish; they were resolved not to let
any other power have Constantinople--they must not have that door to
their dominions in the Black Sea shut against them." The Conference
failed, and Lord John Russell was held responsible for its failure, and
was eventually forced out of the Cabinet on that account. The failure of
the Vienna negotiations produced great excitement, and the ministry were
attacked and defeated in both Houses of Parliament. Mr. Disraeli offered
a resolution of dissatisfaction in the House of Commons. Mr. Gladstone
spoke during the debate on the failure of the Vienna Conference, and
defended the war of the Crimea. He did not consider it a failure, for
Russia now agreed to most of the points raised by the allies, and the
only matter to be adjusted, was the proposition to limit the power of
Russia in the Black Sea. Personally, he had formerly favored the
curtailment of Russia's power there, but he now thought that such a
proposal implied a great indignity to Russia. He believed that the
proposal of Russia to give to Turkey the power of opening and shutting
the straits was one calculated to bring about a peaceful settlement. The
time was favorable to make peace. Lord John Russell replied vigorously
to Mr. Gladstone. The House decided by a majority of 100 to support the
ministry in the further prosecution of the war until a safe and
honorable peace could be secured.

But on the 10th of July Sir E. Bulwer Lytton offered the following
resolution: "That the conduct of our Ministry, in the recent
negotiations at Vienna, has, in the opinion of this House, shaken the
confidence of this country in those to whom its affairs are entrusted."
Lord John Russell again declined to face discussion and resigned. During
the debate on the motion Mr. Disraeli bitterly attacked Lord John
Russell and the Premier, Lord Palmerston. But Mr. Gladstone said that so
far from blaming the Ministry for hesitating about the offers of peace
at Vienna, he blamed them for not giving the propositions that
consideration which their gravity demanded, and for abruptly
terminating the Conference and closing the hope of an honorable peace.

Mr. Gladstone, on the 3d of August, made another powerful appeal for the
cessation of the war. He held that there was now no definite object for
continuing the struggle; defended the Austrian proposals; defied the
Western powers to control the future destinies of Russia, save for a
moment; and he placed "the individual responsibility of the continuance
of the war on the head of the Ministry."

But while Sebastopol held out there was no prospect of peace with
Russia. Finally, in September, that fortress was taken and destroyed,
and the Peace of Paris was concluded, March, 1856.

[Illustration: HOUSE OF COMMONS.]



It was in February, 1855, that Mr. Gladstone resigned his seat in the
Cabinet. After the Treaty of Paris, March, 1856, which put an end to the
Crimean War, Mr. Gladstone found himself in opposition to the Ministry
of Lord Palmerston. He had assumed a position of independence,
associating politically with neither party. The political parties
dreaded criticism and attack from him, for he was not properly
constructed for the defense of either. He had himself declared his
"sympathies" were "with the Conservatives, and his opinions with the
Liberals," and that he and his Peelite colleagues, during this period of
political isolation, were like roving icebergs on which men could not
land with safety, but with which ships might come into perilous
collision. Their weight was too great not to count, but it counted first
this way and then that. Mr. Gladstone was conscientious in his
opposition. He said: "I greatly felt being turned out of office. I saw
great things to do. I longed to do them. I am losing the best years of
my life out of my natural service. Yet I have never ceased to rejoice
that I am not in office with Palmerston, when I have seen the tricks,
the shufflings, the frauds he daily has recourse to as to his business.
I rejoice not to sit on the Treasury Bench with him."

In August, 1855, Lord Aberdeen said; "Gladstone intends to be Prime
Minister. He has great qualifications, but some serious defects. He is
supreme in the House of Commons. He is too obstinate; if a man can be
too honest, he is too honest. I have told Gladstone that when he is
Prime Minister, I will have a seat in his Cabinet, if he desires it,
without an office."

During 1856, several measures came before Parliament which Mr. Gladstone
opposed. He vindicated the freedom of the Belgian press, whose liberty
some of the powers would curtail, and opposed resolutions to consider
the state of education in England and Wales, as tending to create a
central controlling power, involving secular instruction and endless
religious quarrels. He also opposed the budget of Sir G.C. Lewis, which
imposed more duties upon the tea and sugar of the working-man, and was
said to be generally at variance with the policy pursued by every
enlightened minister of finance. Besides, he condemned the continuance
of the war duties in times of peace. "He was a particularly acute thorn
in the side of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and criticised the
budget with unsparing vigor. 'Gladstone seems bent on leading Sir George
Lewis a weary life,' wrote Mr. Greville. But finance was by no means the
only subject of this terrible free-lance."

A resolution was offered in the House of Commons expressing
disapprobation with the English Cabinet for sanctioning, in 1855 and
'56, the violation of international law, by secretly enlisting the
subjects of the United States as recruits for the British army, by the
intervention of the English Ambassador. Mr. Gladstone said: "It appears
to me that the two cardinal aims that we ought to keep in view in the
discussion of this question are peace and a thoroughly cordial
understanding with America for one, the honor and fame of England for
the other. I am bound to say that in regard to neither of these points
am I satisfied with the existing state of things, or with the conduct of
Her Majesty's Government. A cordial understanding with America has not
been preserved, and the honor of this country has been compromised."

Lord Palmerston, though very popular with the people, had greatly
offended a large portion of the House of Commons by his interference in
China. A lorcha, called the _Arrow_, flying the British flag, had been
seized by the Chinese, and the question arose as to the right of the
vessel to the protection of England. The opponents of the government
contended that the vessel was built in China, was captured by pirates,
and recaptured by the Chinese, and hence had no claim to British
protection. To bring the matter to an issue Mr. Cobden introduced a
resolution of inquiry and censure. For five nights the debate was
protracted, and many able speeches were made on both sides, but Mr.
Gladstone made one of the most effective speeches, against the ministry.
He said: "Every man, I trust, will give his vote with the consciousness
that it may depend upon his single vote whether the miseries, the
crimes, the atrocities that I fear are now proceeding in China are to be
discountenanced or not. We have now come to the crisis of the case.
England is not yet committed. With you, then, with us, with every one of
us, it rests to show that this House, which is the first, the most
ancient, and the noblest temple of freedom in the world, is also the
temple of that everlasting justice without which freedom itself would
only be a name or only a curse to mankind."

The Premier ably defended himself, but the resolution of Mr. Cobden was
passed. Parliament was dissolved March 21, 1857, and Lord Palmerston
appealed to the country. He was victorious at the polls. Among the
prominent Liberals who lost their seats were Cobden, Bright, and Milner
Gibson. The Peelites suffered loss too, but Mr. Gladstone was again
elected for Oxford University. However, Mr. Greville writes, under date
of June 3d: "Gladstone hardly ever goes near the House of Commons, and
never opens his lips." But his indifference and silence were not to
last long.

When the Divorce Bill, which originated in the Lords, came up in the
Commons, Mr. Gladstone made an impassioned speech against the measure,
contending for the equality of woman with man in all the rights
pertaining to marriage. He dealt with the question on theological, legal
and social grounds. He contended that marriage was not only or chiefly a
civil contract, but a "mystery" of the Christian religion. By the law of
God it could not be so annulled as to permit of the re-marriage of the
parties. "Our Lord," he says, "has emphatically told us that, at and
from the beginning, marriage was perpetual, and was on both sides
single." He dwelt with pathetic force on the injustice between man and
woman of the proposed legislation, which would entitle the husband to
divorce from an unfaithful wife, but would give no corresponding
protection to the woman; and predicted the gloomiest consequences to the
conjugal morality of the country from the erection of this new and
odious tribunal. Nevertheless the bill became a law.

In 1858 a bill was introduced in the House of Commons by Lord
Palmerston, to make conspiracy to murder a felony. It grew out of the
attempt of Orsini upon the life of Napoleon III. The bill at first was
carried by an immense majority, but the conviction spread that the
measure was introduced solely at the dictation of the French Emperor,
and hence the proposal was strongly opposed. Mr. Gladstone said: "These
times are grave for liberty. We live in the nineteenth century; we talk
of progress; we believe we are advancing, but can any man of observation
who has watched the events of the last few years in Europe have failed
to perceive that there is a movement indeed, but a downward and backward
movement? There are few spots in which institutions that claim our
sympathy still exist and flourish.... But in these times more than ever
does responsibility centre upon the institutions of England, and if it
does centre upon England, upon her principles, upon her laws and upon
her governors, then I say that a measure passed by this House of
Commons--the chief hope of freedom--which attempts to establish a moral
complicity between us and those who seek safety in repressive measures,
will be a blow and a discouragement to that sacred cause in every
country in the world."

The bill was defeated by a majority of nineteen, and Lord Palmerston
again resigned. He was succeeded by Lord Derby, who once more came into
power. Mr. Disraeli again became Chancellor of the Exchequer, and leader
of the House of Commons. The new ministry, which existed largely on
sufferance, passed some good measures.

The one hundredth anniversary of the battle of Plassey was celebrated in
England June 23, 1857, to obtain funds for a monument to Lord Clive, who
secured India to England. The English then felt secure in the government
of that land, yet at that very time one of the most wide-spread,
destructive and cruel rebellions was raging, and shaking to its very
foundations the English rule in Hindostan. Suddenly the news came of the
terrible Indian mutiny and of the indiscriminate slaughter of men, women
and children, filling all hearts with horror, and then of the crushing
out of the rebellion. Lord Canning, Governor-General, issued a
proclamation to the chiefs of Oudh, looking to the confiscation of the
possessions of mutineers who failed to return to the allegiance of
England. It was meant as clemency. But Lord Ellenborough, the officer in
charge of affairs in India, dispatched "a rattling condemnation of the
whole proceeding." Says Justin McCarthy: "It was absurd language for a
man like Lord Ellenborough to address to a statesman like Lord Canning,
who had just succeeded in keeping the fabric of English government in
India together during the most terrible trial ever imposed on it by
fate." The matter was taken up by Parliament. Lord Shaftesbury moved
that the Lords disprove the sending of the dispatch. In the Commons the
ministry were arraigned. But Lord Ellenborough took upon himself the
sole responsibility of the dispatch, and resigned. Mr. Gladstone was
invited to the vacant place, but declined.

The most important among the bills passed by Parliament was the India
Bill, by which the government of India was transferred from the East
India Company to the Crown and the Home government. Mr. Gladstone, who
opposed the bill, proposed a clause providing that the Indian troops
should not be employed in military operations beyond the frontiers
of India.

In November, 1858, Mr. Gladstone accepted from the Premier the post of
Lord High Commissioner Extraordinary to the Ionian Islands. The people
of the Ionian Islands, which in 1800 was formed into the Republic of the
Seven Islands, and was under the protection of Great Britain from 1815,
were desirous of adding themselves to Greece. But the British government
objected to the separation and their union with Greece. Mr. Gladstone
was to repair to Corfu for the purpose of reconciling the people to the
British protectorate. The Ionians regarded his appointment as a virtual
abandonment of the protectorate of Great Britain. Mr. Gladstone,
December 3d, addressed the Senate at Corfu in Italian. He had the
reputation of being a Greek student, and the inhabitants of the Islands
persisted in regarding him not as a Commissioner of a Conservative
English Government, but as "Gladstone the Phil-Hellene!" He made a tour
of the Islands, holding levees, receiving deputations and delivering
harangues, and was received wherever he went with the honors due to a
liberator. His path everywhere was made to seem like a triumphal
progress. It was in vain he repeated his assurance that he came to
reconcile them to the protectorate and not to deliver them from it. But
the popular instinct insisted upon regarding him as at least the
precursor of their union with the Kingdom of Greece. The legislative
assembly met January 27, 1859, and proposed annexation to Greece.
Finding that this was their firm wish and determination, Mr. Gladstone
despatched to the Queen a copy of the vote, in which the representatives
declared that "the single and unanimous will of the Ionian people has
been and is for their union with the Kingdom of Greece." Mr. Gladstone
returned home in February, 1859. The Ionians continued their agitation,
and in 1864 were formally given over to the government of Greece.

Parliament was opened February 3, 1859, by the Queen, who in her speech
from the throne said that the attention of Parliament would be called
to the state of the law regulating the representation of the people. The
plan of the government was presented by Mr. Disraeli. "It was a fanciful
performance," says an English writer. The ministry proposed not to alter
the limits of the franchise, but to introduce into boroughs a new kind
of franchise founded on personal property. Mr. Disraeli characterized
the government measure as "wise, prudent, adequate, conservative, and
framed by men who reverence the past, are proud of the present, and
confident of the future." Two members of the Cabinet promptly resigned
rather than be parties to these proposals. Mr. Bright objected because
the working classes were excluded. An amendment was moved by Lord John
Russell condemning interference with the franchise which enabled
freeholders in boroughs to vote in counties, and demanding a wider
extension of the suffrage in boroughs.

Mr. Gladstone, though agreeing with these views, declined to support the
amendment, because, if carried, it would upset the government and bring
in a weaker administration. He did not propose to support the
government, but he desired to see a settlement of the question of
reform, and he thought the present opportunity advantageous for such
settlement. He pleaded eloquently for the retention of the
small boroughs.

The bill was lost by a majority of thirty-nine. Lord Derby having
advised the Queen to dissolve Parliament, this was done April 3d. The
general elections which resulted from the defeat of the Conservatives in
the House of Commons on the Reform Bill, resulted in returning the
Liberals with a considerable majority. Mr. Gladstone was again returned
unopposed for the University of Oxford. The Queen opened the new
Parliament June 7th. In reply to the speech from the throne an amendment
to the address was moved by Lord Hartington, proposing a vote of want of
confidence in the ministers. After three nights debate it was carried on
June 10th, by a majority of thirteen, Mr. Gladstone voting with the
government. Lord Derby and his colleagues immediately resigned. The
Queen being averse to choosing between Lord John Russell and Lord
Palmerston, turned to Lord Granville, leader of the Liberal party in the
House of Lords. He failed to form a Cabinet, and Lord Palmerston again
became Prime Minister.

The revolution of the political wheel once more brought Mr. Gladstone
into office as Chancellor of the Exchequer. It became necessary in
accepting a Cabinet position to again appeal to his constituents at
Oxford for re-election. He voted as he did to sustain Lord Derby's
administration and to settle the Reform question, yet he was
misunderstood and some of his constituents alienated. He was strongly
opposed by the Conservative Marquis of Chandos. The Conservatives
claimed that he should not be returned, because, as Professor Mansel
said, by his "acceptance of office he must now be considered as giving
his definite adhesion to the Liberal party, as at present reconstructed,
and as approving of the policy of those who overthrew Lord Derby's
government." It was found on the conclusion of the poll, which continued
for five days, that Mr. Gladstone was returned with a majority of nearly
two hundred over his opponent. It is worthy of note that this same year
Cambridge conferred upon Mr. Gladstone the honorary degree of D.C.L.




"The plenitude and variety of Mr. Gladstone's intellectual powers," says
G. Barnett Smith, "have been the subject of such frequent comment that
it would be superfluous to insist upon them here. On the political side
of his career his life has been as unresting and active as that of any
other great party leader, and if we regard him in the literary aspect we
are equally astonished at his energy and versatility. Putting out of
view his various works upon Homer, his miscellaneous writings of
themselves, with the reading they involve, would entitle their author to
take high rank on the score of industry.... We stand amazed at the
infinity of topics which have received Mr. Gladstone's attention."

To solve the problems associated with Homer has been the chief
intellectual recreation, the close and earnest study of Mr. Gladstone's
literary life. "The blind old man of Scio's rocky isle" possessed for
him an irresistible and a perennial charm. Nor can this occasion
surprise, for all who have given themselves up to the consideration and
attempted solution of the Homeric poems have found the fascination of
the occupation gather in intensity. It is not alone from the poetic
point of view that the first great epic of the world attracts students
of all ages and of all countries. Homer presents, in addition, and
beyond every other writer, a vast field for ethnological, geographical,
and historical speculation and research. The ancient world stands
revealed in the Homeric poems. Besides, almost numberless volumes have
been written based upon the equally debatable questions of the Homeric
text and the Homeric unity.

Some literary works of Mr. Gladstone have been already noticed. "Studies
on Homer and Homeric Age" shows Mr. Gladstone's classic tastes and
knowledge as well as his great industry and ability. This work was
published in three volumes, in 1858. It is his _magnum opus_ in
literature, and exhibits wide and laborious research. "It discusses the
Homeric controversy in its broad aspects, the relation of Homer to the
Sacred Writings, his place in education, his historic aims, the probable
period of the poet's life, the Homeric text, the ethnology of the Greek
races, and the politics and poetry of Homer. Among subsequent Greek
studies by Mr. Gladstone were his 'Juventus Mundi' and the 'Homeric
Synchronism.' There is probably no greater living authority on the text
of Homer than Mr. Gladstone, and the Ancient Greek race and literature
have exercised over him a perennial fascination."

Mr. Gladstone dwells much on the relation of Homer to Christianity. "The
standard of humanity of the Greek poet is different, yet many of his
ideas almost carry us back to the early morning of our race; the hours
of its greater simplicity and purity, and more free intercourse with
God.... How is it possible to overvalue this primitive representation of
the human race in a form complete, distinct and separate, with its own
religion, stories, policy, history, arts, manners, fresh and true to the
standard of its nature, like the form of an infant from the hand of the
Creator, yet mature, full, and finished, in its own sense, after its own
laws, like some masterpiece of the sculptor's art?" The Homeric scene of
action is not Paradise, but it is just as far removed from the vices of
a later heathenism.

Mr. Gladstone compares the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey," which he believed
to be the poems of one poet, Homer, with the Old Testament writings, and
observes that "Homer can never be put into competition with the
Scriptures as touching the great fundamental, invaluable code of truth
and hope;" but he shows how one may in a sense be supplementary to the
other. As regards the history of the Greek race, it is Homer that
furnishes "the point of origin from which all distances are to be
measured." He says: "The Mosaic books, and the other historical books of
the Old Testament, are not intended to present, and do not present, a
picture of human society or of our nature drawn at large. The poems of
Homer may be viewed as the complement of the earliest portion of the
sacred records."

Again: "The Holy Scriptures are like a thin stream, beginning from the
very fountain-head of our race, and gradually, but continuously, finding
their way through an extended solitude into times otherwise known, and
into the general current of the fortunes of mankind. The Homeric poems
are like a broad lake, outstretched in the distance, which provides us
with a mirror of one particular age and people, alike full and
marvelous, but which is entirely disassociated by a period of many
generations from any other records, except such as are of the most
partial and fragmentary kind. In respect of the influence which they
have respectively exercised upon mankind, it might appear almost profane
to compare them. In this point of view the Scriptures stand so far apart
from every other production, on account of their great offices in
relation to the coming of the Redeemer and to the spiritual training of
mankind, that there can be nothing either like or second to them."

Mr. Gladstone thinks that "the poems of Homer possess extrinsic worth as
a faithful and vivid picture of early Grecian life and measures; they
have also an intrinsic value which has given their author the first
place in that marvelous trinity of genius--Homer, Dante, and

As to the historic aims of Homer, Mr. Gladstone says: "Where other poets
sketch, Homer draws; and where they draw he carves. He alone of all the
now famous epic writers, moves (in the 'Iliad' especially) subject to
the stricter laws of time and place; he alone, while producing an
unsurpassed work of the imagination, is also the greatest chronicler
that ever lived, and presents to us, from his own single hand, a
representation of life, manners, history, of morals, theology, and
politics, so vivid and comprehensive, that it may be hard to say whether
any of the more refined ages of Greece or Rome, with their clouds of
authors and their multiplied forms of historical record, are either more
faithfully or more completely conveyed to us."

Mr. Gladstone fixes the probable date of Homer within a generation or
two of the Trojan war, assigning as his principal reason for so doing
the poet's visible identity with the age, the altering but not yet
vanishing age of which he sings, and the broad interval in tone and
feeling between himself and the very nearest of all that follow him. He
presents several arguments to prove the trustworthiness of the text
of Homer.

In 1877, Mr. Gladstone wrote an article on the "Dominions of the
Odysseus," and also wrote a preface to Dr. Henry Schliemann's "Mycenae."

One of his most remarkable productions bore the title of, "The Vatican
Decrees in their Bearing on Civil Allegiance; a Political
Expostulation." This book was an amplification of an article from his
own pen, which appeared October, 1874, in the _Contemporary Review_. It
created great public excitement and many replies. One hundred and twenty
thousand copies were sold. Mr. Higginson says: "The vigor of the style,
the learning exhibited, and the source whence it came, all contributed
to give it an extraordinary influence.... It was boldly proclaimed in
this pamphlet that, since 1870, Rome has substituted for the proud boast
of _semper eadem_, a policy of violence and change of faith;... 'that
she had equally repudiated modern thought and ancient history;' ... 'that
she has reburnished and paraded anew every rusty tool she was thought to
have disused,' and 'that Rome requires a convert who now joins her to
forfeit his moral and mental freedom, and to place his loyalty and
civil duty at the mercy of another.'"

Mr. Gladstone issued another pamphlet, entitled "Vaticanism; and Answers
to Reproofs and Replies," He reiterated his original charges, saying:
"The Vatican decrees do, in the strictest sense, establish for the Pope
a supreme command over loyalty and civil duty.... Even in those parts of
Christendom where the decrees and the present attitude of the Papal See
do not produce or aggravate open broils with the civil power, by
undermining moral liberty, they impair moral responsibility, and
silently, in the succession of generations, if not in the lifetime of
individuals, tend to emasculate the vigor of the mind."

Mr. Gladstone published in seven volumes, in 1879, "Gleanings of Past
Years." The essay entitled "Kin Beyond the Sea" at first created much
excitement. "The Kin Beyond the Sea" was America, of which he says: "She
will probably become what we are now, the head servant in the great
household of the world, the employer of all employed; because her
services will be the most and ablest." Again: "The England and the
America of the present are probably the two strongest nations in the
world. But there can hardly be a doubt, as between the America and the
England of the future, that the daughter, at some no very distant time,
will, whether fairer or less fair, be unquestionably yet stronger than
the mother." Mr. Gladstone argues in support of this position from the
concentrated continuous empire which America possesses, and the enormous
progress she has made within a century.

In an address at the opening of the Art Loan Exhibition of Chester,
August 11, 1879, Mr. Gladstone said: "With the English those two things
are quite distinct; but in the oldest times of human industry--that is
to say amongst the Greeks--there was no separation whatever, no gap at
all, between the idea of beauty and the idea of utility. Whatever the
ancient Greek produced he made as useful as he could; and at the same
time, reward for work with him was to make it as beautiful as he could.
In the industrial productions of America there is very little idea of
beauty; for example, an American's axe is not intended to cut away a
tree neatly, but quickly. We want a workman to understand that if he can
learn to appreciate beauty in industrial productions, he is thereby
doing good to himself, first of all in the improvement of his mind, and
in the pleasure he derives from his work, and likewise that literally he
is increasing his own capital, which is his labor."

In his articles on "Ecce Homo" he expresses the hope "that the present
tendency to treat the old belief of man with a precipitate, shallow,
and unexamining disparagement, is simply a distemper, that inflicts for
a time the moral atmosphere, that is due, like plagues and fevers, to
our own previous folly and neglect; and that when it has served its work
of admonition and reform, will be allowed to pass away."

The "Impregnable Rock of Holy Scripture" is the title of a book by Mr.
Gladstone, the articles of which were originally published in _The
Sunday School Times_, Philadelphia.

[Illustration: MR. GLADSTONE'S AXE]



The year 1860 marked the beginning of the second half of Mr. Gladstone's
life as a statesman, in which he stood prominently forward as a
Reformer. July 18, 1859, as Chancellor in the Liberal government of Lord
Palmerston, he brought forward his budget. The budget of 1860 was the
greatest of all his financial measures, for a new departure was taken in
British commerce and manufactures. Mr. Cobden, in behalf of the English
Government, had negotiated with France a treaty based on free trade
principles--"a treaty which gave an impetus to the trade of this
country, whose far-reaching effects are felt even to our day."

The Chancellor explained the various propositions of his financial
statements. Speaking of discontent with the income tax he observed: "I
speak on general terms. Indeed, I now remember that I myself had, about
a fortnight ago, a letter addressed to me complaining of the monstrous
injustice and iniquity of the income tax, and proposing that, in
consideration thereof, the Chancellor of the Exchequer should be
publicly hanged."

Mr. Gladstone said that the total reduction of duties would be over
£1,000,000, requiring a slight extension of taxation; that by this means
nearly £1,000,000 would be returned to the general revenue; that the
loss to the revenue by the French Treaty, which was based upon free
trade principles, and the reduction of duties, would be half made up by
the imposts specified; that the abolition of the paper duty would
produce the happiest results from the spread of cheap literature. The
reductions proposed would give a total relief to the consumer of nearly
£4,000,000, and cause a net loss of the revenue of over £2,000,000, a
sum about equivalent to the amount coming in from the cessation of
government annuities that year. The total revenue was £70,564,000, and
as the total expenses of government was £70,000,000, there remained an
estimated surplus of £464,000.

Mr. Gladstone concluded; "There were times, now long by, when sovereigns
made progress through the land, and when at the proclamation of their
heralds, they caused to be scattered whole showers of coin among the
people who thronged upon their steps.... Our Sovereign is enabled,
through the wisdom of her great council, assembled in Parliament around
her, again to scatter blessings among her subjects by means of wise and
prudent laws; of laws which do not sap in any respect the foundations of
duty or of manhood, but which strike away the shackles from the arm of

"It was one of the peculiarities of Mr. Gladstone's budget addresses
that they roused curiosity in the outset, and, being delivered in a
musical, sonorous, and perfectly modulated voice, kept the listeners
interested to the very close. This financial statement of 1860 was
admirably arranged for the purpose of awakening and keeping attention,
piquing and teasing curiosity, and sustaining desire to hear from the
first sentence to the last. It was not a speech, it was an oration, in
the form of a great State paper, made eloquent, in which there was a
proper restraint over the crowding ideas, the most exact accuracy in the
sentences, and even in the very words chosen; the most perfect balancing
of parts, and, more than all, there were no errors or omissions; nothing
was put wrongly and nothing was overlooked. With a House crowded in
every corner, with the strain upon his own mental faculties, and the
great physical tax implied in the management of his voice, and the
necessity for remaining upon his feet during this long period, 'the
observed of all observers,' Mr. Gladstone took all as quietly, we are
told, as if he had just risen to address a few observations to Mr.
Speaker. Indeed, it was laughingly said that he could address a House
for a whole week, and on the Friday evening have taken a new departure,
beginning with the observation, 'After these preliminary remarks, I will
now proceed to deal with the subject matter of my financial plan.'"

The ministry was supported by large majorities, and carried their
measures, but when the bill for the repeal of the duty on paper at home,
as well as coming into the country, came before the House of Lords, it
was rejected. Mr. Gladstone appeared to be confronted by the greatest
constitutional crisis of his life. He gave vent to his indignation, and
declared that the action of the Lords was a gigantic innovation, and
that the House of Commons had the undoubted right of selecting the
manner in which the people should be taxed. This speech was pronounced
by Lord John Russell "magnificently mad," and Lord Granville said that
"it was a toss-up whether Gladstone resigned or not, and that if he did
it would break up the Liberal party." Quiet was finally restored, and
the following year Mr. Gladstone adroitly brought the same feature
before the Lords in a way that compelled acceptance.

The budget of 1861 showed a surplus of £2,000,000 over the estimated
surplus, and proposed to remit the penny on the income tax, and to
repeal the paper duty. Instead of being divided into several bills as in
the previous year, the budget was presented as a whole--all included in
one. By this device the Lords were forced to acquiesce in the repeal of
the paper duty, or take the responsibility of rejecting the whole bill.
The Peers grumbled, and some of them were enraged. Lord Robert Cecil,
now Marquis of Salisbury, rudely declared that Mr. Gladstone's conduct
was only worthy of an attorney. He begged to apologize to the attorneys.
They were honorable men and would have scorned the course pursued by the
ministers. Another member of the House of Lords protested that the
budget gave a mortal stab to the Constitution. Mr. Gladstone retorted:
"I want to know, to what Constitution does it give a mortal stab? In my
opinion it gives no mortal stab, and no stab at all, to any Constitution
that we are bound to care for. But, on the contrary, so far as it alters
anything in the most recent course of practice, it alters in the
direction of restoring that good old Constitution which took its root in
Saxon times, which grew from the Plantagenets, which endured the iron
repression of the Tudors, which resisted the aggressions of the Stuarts,
and which has come to its full maturity under the House of Brunswick. I
think that is the Constitution, if I may presume to say so, which it is
our duty to guard, and which--if, indeed, the proceedings of this year
can be said to affect it at all--will be all the better for the
operation. But the Constitution which my right honorable friend worships
is a very different affair."

In 1860, Mr. Gladstone was elected Lord Rector of Edinburgh University,
and the degree of LL.D. was conferred upon him.

Mr. Gladstone, in 1861, introduced one of his most beneficial
measures--a bill creating the Post Office Savings Bank. The success of
the scheme has gone beyond all expectation. At the close of 1891, the
amount deposited was £71,608,002, and growing at the average rate of
over £4,000,000 annually.

Mr. Gladstone's financial measures for 1862, while not involving such
momentous issues as those of the preceding year, nevertheless
encountered considerable opposition. The budget was a stationary one,
with no surplus, no new taxes, no remission of taxes, no
heavier burdens.

In October, 1862, Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone made a journey down the Tyne,
which is thus described: "It was not possible to show to royal visitors
more demonstrations of honor than were showered on the illustrious
Commoner and his wife.... At every point, at every bank and hill and
factory, in every opening where people could stand or climb, expectant
crowds awaited Mr. Gladstone's arrival. Women and children, in all
costumes and of all conditions, lined the shores ... as Mr. and Mrs.
Gladstone passed. Cannon boomed from every point;... such a succession
of cannonading never before greeted a triumphant conqueror on
the march."

It was during this journey that Mr. Gladstone made the memorable speech,
at New Castle, upon the American Civil War, which had broken out the
same year. There had been much speculation as to whether the English
government would recognize the Confederacy as a separate and independent
power, and the utterance of a member of the Cabinet under the
circumstances was regarded as entirely unwarranted. Mr. Gladstone
himself frankly acknowledged his error in 1867: "I must confess that I
was wrong; that I took too much upon myself in expressing such an
opinion. Yet the motive was not bad. My sympathies were then--where they
had long before been, where they are now--with the whole
American people."

The session of 1863 was barren of important subjects of debate, and
hence unusual interest was centered in the Chancellor's statement, which
was another masterly financial presentation, and its leading
propositions were cordially received. The whole reduction of taxation
for the year was £3,340,000, or counting the total reductions, present
and prospective, of £4,601,000. This still left a surplus of £400,000.

In four years £8,000,000 had been paid for war with China out of the
ordinary revenues. A proposition to subject charities to the income tax,
although endorsed by the whole cabinet, led to such powerful opposition
throughout the country that it was finally withdrawn. The arguments of
the Chancellor were endorsed by many who were opposed to the
indiscriminate and mistaken beneficence which was so prevalent on

A bill was introduced at this session by Sir Morton Peto, entitled the
"Dissenters' Burial Bill," the object of which was to enable
Nonconformists to have their own religious rites and services, and by
their own ministers, in the graveyards of the Established Church. The
bill was strongly opposed by Lord Robert Cecil and Mr. Disraeli. Mr.
Gladstone favored the measure. The bill was rejected, and Mr. Gladstone
at a later period discovered that his progress in ecclesiastical and
political opinions was creating a breach between himself and his
constituents at Oxford.

Mr. Gladstone's financial scheme for 1864 was received with undiminished
interest. It was characterized as "a policy of which peace, progress and
retrenchment were the watchwords." An available surplus of £2,260,000
enabled him to propose reductions.

The subject of reform, which had been coming up in the House of Commons
in one way or another and agitating the House and the country since
1859, when the Conservative party was beaten on the question, reappeared
in 1864. The question of lowering the borough franchise came up, and Mr.
Gladstone startled the House and the country by his declaration upon the
subject of reform, which showed the rapid development of his views upon
the subject. The Conservative party was filled with alarm, and the hopes
of the Reform party correspondingly elated. "The eyes of all Radical
Reformers turned to Mr. Gladstone as the future Minister of Reform in
Church and State. He became from the same moment an object of distrust,
and something approaching to detestation in the eyes of all steady-going

Mr. Gladstone said: "I say that every man who is not presentably
incapacitated by some consideration of personal unfitness or political
danger, is morally entitled to come within the pale of the
constitution." This declaration was the first note sounded in a conflict
which, twelve months later, was to cost Mr. Gladstone his seat for
Oxford University, and finally to culminate in the disruption of the
Liberal Government. The general feeling in regard to this speech was
that if the Liberal party had failed in its duty on the subject of
reform in the existing Parliament after Mr. Gladstone's utterances,
that the condition of things must undergo a change, so great was the
effect of his speech in the country. The bill, which was presented by a
private member and lost, was made memorable by the speech of the
Chancellor. The eyes of careful political leaders were again turned
towards Mr. Gladstone, and strong predictions made of his coming
exaltation to the Premiership. Mr. Speaker Denison said, in October,
1864: "I now anticipate that Mr. Gladstone will be Premier. Neither
party has any leader. I hope Mr. Gladstone may get support from the
Conservatives who now support Palmerston." And these expectations were
known to Mr. Gladstone himself, for Bishop Wilberforce had a
conversation with him and writes: "Long talk with Gladstone as to
Premiership: he is for acting under John Russell." Again to Mr.
Gladstone: "Anything which breaks up, or tends to break up, Palmerston's
supremacy, must bring you nearer to the post in which I long to see you,
and, if I live, shall see you." Lord Palmerston himself said: "Gladstone
will soon have it all his own way; and whenever he gets my place we
shall have strange things."

The hostile feeling towards the Palmerston government, which had been
growing in intensity, chiefly on the ground of its foreign policy,
reached its full height in a fierce battle between the Ministry and the
Opposition. July 4, 1864, Mr. Disraeli brought forward his motion of
"no confidence." Mr. Gladstone replied for the government, and sought to
rebut the accusations made by the leader of the Opposition. He said that
it was the very first time in which the House of Commons had been called
upon to record the degradation of the country, simply for the sake of
displacing a ministry.

An amusing episode which occurred during this debate is worthy of record
here; Mr. Bernard Osborne "grew amusingly sarcastic at the expense of
the government, though he paid at the same time a great compliment to
Mr. Gladstone. He likened the Cabinet to a museum of curiosities, in
which there were some birds of rare and noble plumage, both alive and
stuffed. There had been a difficulty, unfortunately, in keeping up the
breed, and it was found necessary to cross it with the famous Peelites.
'I will do them the justice to say that they have a very great and noble
Minister among them in the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and it is to his
measures alone that they owe the little popularity and the little
support they get from this Liberal party.' Describing Mr. Milner Gibson,
the honorable gentleman said he was like some 'fly in amber,' and the
wonder was 'how the devil he got there.' Mr. Cobden and Mr. Bright must
have been disappointed in this 'young man from the country.' He had
become insolent and almost quarrelsome under the guidance of the noble
lord. Should that Parliament decide on terminating its own and their
existence, they would find consolation that the funeral oration would be
pronounced by Mr. Newdegate, and that some friendly hand would inscribe
on their mausoleum, 'Rest and be thankful.'" Mr. Disraeli's motion was
lost, and the ministry was sustained.

The budget of 1865 represented the country as in a prosperous financial
condition. The total reduction was over £5,000,000. Such a financial
showing gained the warm approval of the people, and excited but little
opposition in the House. It was evident that a master-hand was guiding
the national finances, and fortunately the Chancellor's calculations
were verified by the continued prosperity of the country. At a later
period, in commenting upon the policy of the two parties--Conservative
and Liberal--Mr. Gladstone said: "From thence it follows that the policy
of the Liberal party has been to reduce the public charges and to keep
the expenditure within the estimates, and, as a result, to diminish the
taxation of the country and the national debt; that the policy of the
Tory government, since they took office in 1866, has been to increase
the public charges, and to allow the departments to spend more than
their estimates, and, as a result, to create deficits and to render the
reduction of taxation impossible. Which policy will the country prefer?"



July, 1865, Parliament having run its allotted course, according to the
constitution, was dissolved, and a general election took place, which
resulted in the Liberal party being returned again with a majority. Mr.
Gladstone's relations with many of his constituents were not harmonious,
owing to his pronounced Liberal views, and his seat for Oxford was
seriously imperilled. Mr. Gathorne Hardy was nominated to run against
him. The High Tory party resolved to defeat him, and he was defeated by
a majority of 180. "The electors preferred the uncompromising defender
of the Church and Toryism to the brilliant statesman and financier."
Almost all of the distinguished residents of Oxford and three-fourths of
the tutors and lecturers of the University voted for Mr. Gladstone, and
his rejection was entirely owing to the opposing vote of non-residents
and the bigotry of the hostile country clergymen of the Church of
England. From the Bishop of Oxford Mr. Gladstone received the following
indignant protest:

"I cannot forbear expressing to you my grief and indignation at the
result. It is needless for me to say that everything I could with
propriety do I did heartily to save our University this great loss and
dishonor, as well from a loving honor of you. You were too great
for them."

"The enemies of the University," observed the _Times_, "will make the
most of her disgrace. It has hitherto been supposed that a learned
constituency was to some extent exempt from the vulgar motives of party
spirit, and capable of forming a higher estimate of statesmanship than
common tradesmen or tenant-farmers."

His valedictory address to his former constituents was short: "After
an arduous connection of eighteen years, I bid you, respectfully,
farewell.... It is one imperative duty, and one alone, which induces me
to trouble you with these few parting words, the duty of expressing my
profound and lasting gratitude for indulgence as generous, and for
support as warm and enthusiastic in itself, and as honorable from the
character and distinctions of those who have given it, as has, in my
belief, ever been accorded by any constituency to any representative."

One event in Parliament, in 1865, contributed much to Mr. Gladstone's
defeat: In March, 1865, Mr. Dillwyn, the Radical member for Swansea,
moved "that the present position of the Irish Church Establishment is
unsatisfactory, and calls for the early attention of her Majesty's

Sir Stafford Northcote wrote: "Gladstone made a terribly long stride in
his downward progress last night, and denounced the Irish Church in a
way which shows how, by and by, he will deal not only with it, but with
the Church of England too.... He laid down the doctrines that the tithe
was national property, and ought to be dealt with by the State in a
manner most advantageous to the people; and that the Church of England
was only national because the majority of the people still belong
to her."

"It was now felt that henceforth Mr. Gladstone must belong to the
country, and not to the University." He realized this himself, for
driven from Oxford, he went down to South Lancashire, seeking to be
returned from there to Parliament, and in the Free Trade Hall,
Manchester, said: "At last, my friends, I am come among you, and I am
come among you unmuzzled." These words were greeted with loud and
prolonged applause. The advanced Liberals seemed to take the same view,
and regarded Mr. Gladstone's defeat at Oxford by the Conservatives as
his political enfranchisement. His defeat was not wholly unexpected to
himself. In 1860 he said: "Without having to complain, I am entirely
sick and weary of the terms upon which I hold the seat."

Mr. Gladstone felt keenly the separation, for he wrote to the Bishop of
Oxford: "There have been two great deaths, or transmigrations of spirit,
in my political existence--one, very slow, the breaking of ties with my
original party, the other, very short and sharp, the breaking of the tie
with Oxford. There will probably be a third, and no more." And in a
speech at Liverpool, there was something of pathos in his reference to
Oxford, when he said that if he had clung to the representation of the
University with desperate fondness, it was because he would not desert a
post to which he seemed to have been called. But he had now been
dismissed from it, not by academical, but by political agencies.

Mr. Gladstone was elected to represent his native district in
Parliament, and he was at the head of the poll in Manchester, Liverpool,
and all the large towns. The result of the general elections was a
considerable gain to the Liberal party, but that party sustained a
severe loss by the death of Lord Palmerston, October 18, 1865.

A new cabinet was constructed, with Earl Russell as Premier, and Mr.
Gladstone as the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Mr. Gladstone became for
the first time the recognized leader in the House of Commons, which
then meant virtually Prime Minister, for with the aged Premier in the
House of Lords, and the youthful Chancellor in the Commons, it meant
nothing else. But Earl Russell and his younger colleague were calculated
to work in harmonious action, for they were both Reformers. The ardent
temperament and the severe conscientiousness of the leader was the cause
of much speculation and anxiety as to his management. His first
appearance as leader of the House was therefore waited for with much
curiosity. The new Parliament was opened February 6, 1866, by the Queen
in person, for the first time since the death of Prince Albert. In the
speech from the throne it was announced that Parliament would be
directed to consider such improvements in the laws which regulate the
right of voting in the election of the members of the House of Commons
as may tend to strengthen our free institutions, and conduce to the
public welfare. Bishop Wilberforce wrote: "Gladstone has risen entirely
to his position, and done all his most sanguine friends hoped for as
leader.... There is a general feeling of insecurity of the ministry, and
the Reform Bill to be launched to-night is thought a bad rock."

May 3, 1866, Mr. Gladstone brought forward what was destined to be his
last budget for some years. There was a surplus of over a million and a
quarter of pounds, which allowed a further and considerable reduction
of taxation.

The condition of Ireland was very grave at this time, and as
apprehensions were felt in regard to the Fenians, a bill suspending the
Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland was passed. Mr. Gladstone, in explaining
the necessity for the measure, said that the government were ready at
any time to consider any measure for the benefit of Ireland, but it was
the single duty of the House at the moment to strengthen the hands of
the Executive in the preservation of law and order. The bill was renewed
by the Derby government, and passed as before, as the result of an
anticipated great Fenian uprising under "Head-Centre" Stephens.

During a debate on the bill for the abolition of Church rates, Mr.
Gladstone said that the law requiring Church rates was _prima facie_
open to great objection, but he could not vote for total abolition. He
offered a compromise and proposed that Dissenters be exempted from
paying Church rates, and at the same time be disqualified from
interfering with funds to which they had not contributed. The compromise
was accepted, but failed to become a law.

On the subject of reform, mentioned in the address, there were great
debates, during the session of 1866. The new Cabinet, known as the
Russell-Gladstone Ministry, set themselves to work in earnest upon a
question that had baffled all the skill of various administrations. As a
part of the reform scheme, Mr. Gladstone brought forward a Franchise
Bill in the House of Commons, March 12th.

The bill satisfied most of the Liberal party. Mr. Robert Lowe, a
Liberal, became one of its most powerful assailants. His enmity to the
working classes made him extremely unpopular. Mr. Horseman also joined
the Conservatives in opposing the bill. Mr. Bright, in a crushing
retort, fastened upon the small party of Liberals, led by these two
members in opposition to the bill, the epithet of "Adullamites." Mr.
Horseman, Mr. Bright said, had "retired into what may be called his
political Cave of Adullam, to which he invited every one who was in
distress, and every one who was discontented. He had long been anxious
to found a party in this house, and there is scarcely a member at this
end of the House who is able to address us with effect or to take much
part, whom he has not tried to bring over to his party and his cabal. At
last he has succeeded in hooking ... Mr. Lowe. I know it was the opinion
many years ago of a member of the Cabinet that two men could make a
party. When a party is formed of two men so amiable and so disinterested
as the two gentlemen, we may hope to see for the first time in
Parliament a party perfectly harmonious and distinguished by mutual and
unbroken trust. But there is one difficulty which it is impossible to
remove. This party of two is like the Scotch terrier that is so covered
with hair that you could not tell which was the head and which was the
tail." This sally, which excited immoderate laughter, remains one of the
happiest examples of Parliamentary retort and badinage.

During this session the Conservative party met at the residence of the
Marquis of Salisbury, and decided upon strongly opposing the measure
proposed by the Liberal government. Mr. Bright characterized it as "a
dirty conspiracy." On the other hand, the country supported the bill,
and great meetings were held in its interest. Mr. Gladstone spoke at a
great meeting at Liverpool. He said: "Having produced this measure,
founded in a spirit of moderation, we hope to support it with
decision.... We have passed the Rubicon, we have broken the bridge and
burned the boats behind us. We have advisedly cut off the means of
retreat, and having done this, we hope that, as far as time is yet
permitted, we have done our duty to the Crown and to the nation." This
was regarded as the bugle-call to the Liberal party for the
coming battle.

The debate began April 12th, and continued for eight nights. "On no
occasion since, and seldom before, has such a flow of eloquence been
heard within the walls of the House of Commons." Mr. Disraeli spoke for
three hours against the bill, and in his speech accused Mr. Gladstone of
introducing American ideas of Government, and of having once assailed
the very principles he now advocated, when in the Oxford Union he spoke
against the Reform Bill of 1832. Mr. Gladstone's reply was one of the
most noteworthy parts of this famous debate. He rose at one o'clock in
the morning to conclude a legislative battle which had begun two weeks
before. "At last," Mr. Gladstone said, "we have obtained a declaration
from an authoritative source that a bill which, in a country with five
millions of adult males, proposes to add to a limited constituency
200,000 of the middle class and 200,000 of the working class, is, in the
judgment of the leader of the Tory party, a bill to reconstruct the
constitution upon American principles.

"The right honorable gentleman, secure in the recollection of his own
consistency, has taunted me with the errors of my boyhood. When he
addressed the honorable member of Westminster, he showed his magnanimity
by declaring that he would not take the philosopher to task for what he
wrote twenty-five years ago; but when he caught one who, thirty-six
years ago, just emerged from boyhood, and still an undergraduate at
Oxford, had expressed an opinion adverse to the Reform Bill of 1832, of
which he had so long and bitterly repented, then the right honorable
gentleman could not resist the temptation."

The bill was put upon its passage. The greatest excitement prevailed.
"The house seemed charged with electricity, like a vast thunder-cloud;
and now a spark was about to be applied. Strangers rose in their seats,
the crowd at the bar pushed half-way up the House, the Royal Princes
leaned forward in their standing places, and all was confusion."
Presently order was restored, and breathless excitement prevailed while
the tellers announced that the bill had been carried by a majority of
only five.

"Hardly had the words left the teller's lips than there arose a wild,
raging, mad-brained shout from floor and gallery, such as has never been
heard in the present House of Commons. Dozens of half-frantic Tories
stood up in their seats, madly waved their hats and hurrahed at the top
of their voices. Strangers in both galleries clapped their hands. The
Adullamites on the Ministerial benches, carried away by the delirium of
the moment, waved their hats in sympathy with the Opposition, and
cheered as loudly as any. Mr. Lowe, the leader, instigator, and prime
mover of the conspiracy, stood up in the excitement of the
moment--flushed, triumphant, and avenged.... He took off his hat, waved
it in wide and triumphant circles over the heads of the very men who had
just gone into the lobby against him.... But see, the Chancellor of the
Exchequer lifts up his hand to bespeak silence, as if he had something
to say in regard to the result of the division. But the more the great
orator lifts his hand beseechingly, the more the cheers are renewed and
the hats waved. At length the noise comes to an end by the process of
exhaustion, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer rises. Then there is a
universal hush, and you might hear a pin drop."

"Few, if any, could anticipate at this time, that in the course of one
short year a Conservative Government would find itself compelled to take
up that very question of Reform, whose virtual defeat its opponents now
hailed with such intoxicating expressions of delight." However, the bill
was unexpectedly wrecked June 18th, by an amendment substituting a ratal
instead of a rental basis for the borough franchise. The ministry
regarding this as a vital point, could not agree to it, and consequently
threw up their measure and resigned office. The Queen was unwilling to
accept their resignation. But the ministry felt that they had lost the
confidence of the House, so their resignation was announced June 26th.

The apathy of the people about reform that Earl Russell thought he
perceived, as far as London was concerned, at once disappeared. A great
demonstration was made at Trafalgar Square, where some ten thousand
people assembled and passed resolutions in favor of reform. A serious
riot occurred at Hyde Park in consequence of the prohibition by the
Government of the meeting of the Reform League. The Reformers then
marched to Carleton House Terrace, the residence of Mr. Gladstone,
singing songs in his honor. He was away from home, but Mrs. Gladstone
and her family came out on the balcony to acknowledge the tribute paid
by the people. It is said that Mr. Gladstone, now for the first time,
became a popular hero. Great meetings were held in the interest of
reform in the large towns of the North and the Midlands, where his name
was received with tumultuous applause. Mr. Gladstone was hailed
everywhere as the leader of the Liberal party. Reform demonstrations
continued during the whole of the recess. A meeting was held at
Brookfields, near Birmingham, which was attended by nearly 250,000
people. The language of some of the ardent friends of reform was not
always discreet, but Mr. Gladstone appears to have preserved a calm and
dignified attitude.

In the summer of 1866, Lord Derby had announced his acceptance of office
as Premier, and the formation of a Conservative Cabinet. The
demonstrations of the people compelled the Conservatives to introduce
measures in Liberal Reform. Accordingly, in 1867, Mr. Disraeli and his
colleagues passed a Reform Bill, which, after various modifications, was
far more extreme than that presented by the Liberals and defeated.

Owing to a division in the ranks of the Liberal members on the pending
bill, Mr. Gladstone withdrew from the active leadership of the House,
but soon resumed it. Mr. Bright said, at Birmingham, that since 1832,
there had been no man of Mr. Gladstone's rank as a statesman who had
imported into the Reform question so much of conviction, of earnestness,
and of zeal.

Not long after this deputations from various parts of the country,
accompanied by their representatives in Parliament, called on Mr.
Gladstone to present addresses expressive of confidence in him as
Liberal leader.

Lord Cranborne expressed his astonishment at hearing the bill described
as a Conservative triumph. It was right that its real parentage should
be established. The bill had been modified by Mr. Gladstone. All his
points were conceded. If the adoption on the principles of Mr. Bright
could be described as a triumph, then indeed the Conservative party, in
the whole history of its previous annals, had won no triumphs so simple
as this. In the House of Lords the Duke of Buccleuch declared that the
only word in the bill that remained unaltered was the first word,

"The work of reform was completed in the session of 1868, by the passing
of the Scotch and Irish Reform Bills, a Boundary Bill for England and
Wales, an Election Petitions and Corrupt Practices Prevention Bill, and
the Registration of Voters Bill. The object of the last-named measure
was to accelerate the elections, and to enable Parliament to meet before
the end of 1868."

In the autumn of 1866, Mr. Gladstone and his family again visited Italy,
and at Rome had an audience with Pope Pio Nono. It became necessary two
years later, owing to this interview, for Mr. Gladstone formally to
explain his visit.

In February, 1868, Lord Derby, owing to failing health, resigned. The
Derby Ministry retired from office, and Mr. Disraeli became Prime
Minister. An English author writes: "There was, of course, but one
possible Conservative Premier--Mr. Disraeli--he who had served the
Conservative party for more than thirty years, who had led it to
victory, and who had long been the ruling spirit of the Cabinet."

The elevation of Mr. Disraeli to the Premiership before Mr. Gladstone,
produced, in some quarters, profound regret and even indignation. But
Mr. Disraeli, though in office, was not in power. He was nominally the
leader of a House that contained a large majority of his political
opponents, now united among themselves. The schism in the Liberal party
had been healed by the question of Reform, and they could now defeat the
government whenever they chose to do so; consequently Mr. Gladstone took
the initiative. His compulsory Church Rates Abolition Bill was
introduced and accepted. By this measure all legal proceedings for the
recovery of church rates were abolished. The question that overshadowed
all others, however, was that of the Irish Church.

On the 16th of March Mr. Gladstone struck the first blow in the struggle
that was to end in the disestablishment of the Irish Church. Mr. Maguire
moved that the House consider the condition of Ireland. Mr. Gladstone
said that Ireland had a controversy with England and a long account
against England. It was a debt of justice, and he enumerated six
particulars, one of which was the Established Episcopal Church.
Religious Equality, he contended, must be conceded. He said, in
referring to his speech made on the motion of Mr. Dillwyn in 1865: "The
opinion I held then and hold now--namely, that in order to the
settlement of this question of the Irish Church, that Church, as a State
Church must cease to exist."

This speech excited feelings of consternation amongst the
Ministerialists. Mr. Disraeli bewailed his own unhappy fate at the
commencement of his career as Prime Minister, at finding himself face
to face with the necessity of settling an account of seven centuries
old. He complained that all the elements of the Irish crisis had existed
while Mr. Gladstone was in office, but no attempt had been made to deal
with them.

March 23d Mr. Gladstone proposed resolutions affirming that the Irish
Episcopal Church should cease to exist as an establishment, and asking
the Queen to place at the disposal of Parliament her interest in the
temporalities of the Irish Church.

Mr. Gladstone's resolution was carried by a majority of 65, and the
Queen replied that she would not suffer her interests to stand in the
way of any measures contemplated by Parliament. Consequently Mr.
Gladstone brought in his Irish Church Suspensory Bill, which was adopted
by the Commons, but rejected by the Lords. During the discussion,
ministerial explanations followed; Mr. Disraeli described, in his most
pompous vein, his audiences with the Queen. His statement amounted to
this--that, in spite of adverse votes, the Ministers intended to hold on
till the autumn, and then to appeal to the new electorate created by the
Reform Act.

Lord Houghton wrote: "Gladstone is the great triumph, but as he owns
that he has to drive a four-in-hand, consisting of English Liberals,
English Dissenters, Scotch Presbyterians, and Irish Catholics, he
requires all his courage to look the difficulties in the face and trust
to surmount them."

An appeal was now made to the country. The general election that
followed, in November, was fought out mainly upon this question. A great
Liberal majority was returned to Parliament, which was placed at 115.
But there were several individual defeats, among them Mr. Gladstone
himself, who was rejected by South Lancaster. This was in part owing to
the readjustment of seats according to the Reform Bill. But Mr.
Gladstone received an invitation from Greenwich, in the southwestern
division, where he was warmly received by the electors. "He spoke
everywhere, with all his fiery eloquence, on the monstrous foolishness
of a religious establishment which ministered only to a handful of the
people." Is the Irish Church to be or not to be? was the question. He
was returned for that borough by a large majority over his Conservative

Archbishop Wilberforce wrote in November: "The returns to the House of
Commons leave no doubt of the answer of the country to Gladstone's
appeal. In a few weeks he will be in office at the head of a majority of
something like a hundred, elected on the distinct issue of Gladstone and
the Irish Church."

The feeling was so enormously great in its preponderance for Mr.
Gladstone's policy of Liberal Reform, especially for the
disestablishment of the Irish Church, that Mr. Disraeli did not adopt
the usual course of waiting for the endorsement of the new Parliament,
which he felt sure would be given to Mr. Gladstone, but resigned, and
the first Disraeli Cabinet went out of office, December 2d.

December 4, 1868, the Queen summoned Mr. Gladstone to Windsor to form a
Cabinet. He had now attained the summit of political ambition. He was
the first Commoner in the land--the uncrowned king of the British Empire
--for such is the English Premier. "All the industry and self-denial of
a laborious life, all the anxieties and burdens and battles of five and
thirty years of Parliamentary struggle were crowned by this supreme and
adequate reward. He was Prime Minister of England--had attained to that
goal of the Eton boy's ambition; and, what perhaps was to him of greater
consideration, he was looked up to by vast numbers of the people as
their great leader."

December 9th the new government was completed and the ministers received
their seals from the Queen. Mr. Bright, contrary to all expectation,
became President of the Board of Trade. In offering themselves for
re-election, the members of the new Cabinet found no trouble--all were
returned. Mr. Gladstone was returned by Greenwich.

With the year 1869 Mr. Gladstone entered upon a great period of Reform.
The new Parliament was opened December 10th. On the 11th Mr. and Mrs.
Gladstone paid a visit to Lord and Lady Salisbury, at Hatfield. Bishop
Wilberforce was there and had opportunity to observe his old and honored
friend in the first flush of his new dignity. Here are his comments:
"Gladstone, as ever, great, earnest, and honest; as unlike the tricky
Disraeli as possible." To Dr. Trench the Bishop wrote: "The nation has
decided against our establishment, and we bow to its decision, and on
what tenure and conditions it is to be held, remains confessedly open."
"But his sagacious and statesmanlike counsel was disregarded. The Irish
Bishops ranged themselves in bitter but futile hostility to the change.
A frantic outbreak of Protestant violence began in Ireland and spread to
England." Bishop Wilberforce notes this conversation at Windsor Castle:
"The Queen very affable. 'So sorry Mr. Gladstone started this about the
Irish Church, and he is a great friend of yours.'"

On the 15th of February Parliament assembled. March 1st Mr. Gladstone
introduced his momentous bill in a speech of three hours, his first
speech as Prime Minister, which was characterized as "calm, moderate and
kindly." It was proposed that on January 1, 1871, the Irish Church
should cease to exist as an establishment and should become a
free Church.

Mr. Disraeli, in the Commons, moved the rejection of the bill. In
opposing the measure he objected to disestablishment, because he was in
favor of the union of Church and State.

Mr. Gladstone eloquently concluded as follows: "As the clock points
rapidly towards the dawn, so as rapidly flow out the years, the months,
the days, that remain to the existence of the Irish Established
Church.... Not now are we opening this great question. Opened, perhaps,
it was when the Parliament which expired last year pronounced upon it
that emphatic judgment which can never be recalled. Opened it was,
further, when in the months of autumn the discussions were held in every
quarter of the Irish Church. Prosecuted another stage it was, when the
completed elections discovered to us a manifestation of the national
verdict more emphatic than, with the rarest exceptions, has been
witnessed during the whole of our Parliamentary history. The good cause
was further advanced towards its triumphant issue when the silent
acknowledgment of the late government, that they declined to contest the
question, was given by their retirement from office, and their choosing
a less responsible position from which to carry on a more desultory
warfare against the policy which they had in the previous session
unsuccessfully attempted to resist. Another blow will soon be struck in
the same good cause, and I will not intercept it one single
moment more."

The bill passed by an overwhelming vote--368 against 250--and went up to
the Lords, where stirring debates occurred. But there, as well as in the
House, the Irish Establishment was doomed. The bill, substantially
unaltered, received the Royal assent July 26, 1869.

The Annual Register for 1869 declared that the bill "was carried through
in the face of a united and powerful opposition, mainly by the resolute
will and unflinching energy of the Prime Minister.... Upon the whole,
whatever may be thought of its merits or demerits, it can hardly be
disputed that the Act of the Disestablishment of the Irish Church,
introduced and carried into a law within somewhat less than five months,
was the most remarkable legislative achievement of modern times."

The parliamentary session of 1870 was rendered memorable by the passing
of a scarcely less popular and important measure--the Irish Land Bill.
Mr. Gladstone, in speaking of Ireland, had referred to three branches of
an Upas tree, to the growth of which her present sad condition was
largely owing--the Irish Church, the Irish Land Laws, and the Irish
Universities. The first branch had fallen with the disestablishment of
the Irish Church, and Mr. Gladstone, pressing on in his reform, now
proposed to lop off the second branch by his Irish Land Bill, which was
in itself a revolution. It was claimed for Mr. Gladstone's new bill, or
Land Scheme, that while it insured for the tenant security of holding,
it did not confiscate a single valuable right of the Irish land-owner.
Mr. Gladstone remarked that he believed there was a great fund of
national wealth in the soil of Ireland as yet undeveloped, and said he
trusted that both tenant and landlord would accept the bill because it
was just. The bill passed, and received the approval of the Queen,
August 1, 1870.

[Illustration: The Old Lion]



In what has been denominated the "Golden Age of Liberalism" the Liberal
party was united, enthusiastic, victorious, full of energy, confidence
and hope. "I have not any misgivings about Gladstone personally," says
an English writer, "but as leader of the party to which the folly of the
Conservatives and the selfish treachery of Disraeli, bit by bit, allied
him, he cannot do what he would, and, with all his vast powers, there is
a want of sharp-sighted clearness as to others. But God rules. I do not
see how we are, after Disraeli's Reform Bill, long to avoid fundamental
changes, both in Church and State."

Justin McCarthy has well summed up the aims of Mr. Gladstone and his
party on their accession to power: "Nothing in modern English history is
like the rush of the extraordinary years of reforming energy on which
the new administration had now entered. Mr. Gladstone's government had
to grapple with five or six great questions, any one of which might
have seemed enough to engage the whole attention of an ordinary
administration. The new Prime Minister had pledged himself to abolish
the State Church in Ireland, and to reform the Irish Land Tenure system.
He had made up his mind to put an end to the purchase of commissions in
the army. Recent events and experiences had convinced him that it was
necessary to introduce the system of voting by ballot. He accepted for
his government the responsibility of originating a complete system of
national education."

The first great measure of the new administration had been successfully
pushed through, and, flushed with triumph, the Liberal leaders were now
ready to introduce other important legislation. In 1870, the Elementary
Education Act, providing for the establishment of school boards, and
securing the benefits of education for the poor in England and Wales was
introduced. By it a national and compulsory system of education was
established for the first time. "It is important to note that the
concessions made during its course to the convictions of Tories and
Churchmen, in the matter of religious education, stirred the bitter and
abiding wrath of the political Dissenters." The measure was passed,
while the half-penny postage for newspapers, and the half-penny post
cards were among the benefits secured.


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