The Grand Old Man
Richard B. Cook
Part 6 out of 6
the new administration, and declared for Home Rule for Ireland, the
disestablishment of the church in Wales and Scotland, and the reform of
the House of Lords.
IN PRIVATE LIFE
Justin McCarthy, in the closing pages of his Story of Gladstone's Life,
says: "The long political struggle was over and done. The heat of the
opposition this way and that had gone out forever, and Mr. Gladstone had
none left but friends on both sides of the political field. Probably
that ceremonial, that installation of the Prince of Wales as Chancellor
of the Welsh University, was the last occasion on which Mr. Gladstone
would consent to make an appearance on a public platform. It was a
graceful close to such a great career."
The occasion referred to was the ceremonial at Aberystwith, Wales, June
26, 1896, when the Prince of Wales was installed as Chancellor of the
Welsh University, and when the Prince presented to the Princess of Wales
and to Mr. Gladstone honorary degrees conferred upon them by the
University. The appearance of Mr. Gladstone was the signal for great
applause. The Prince in his remarks was very complimentary to Mr.
Gladstone, and spoke of the honor paid the University by the presence of
the aged scholar and statesman, and also said it was truly one of the
proudest moments of his life, when he found himself in the flattering
position of being able to confer an academic honor upon one furnishing
the rare instance of occupying the highest position as a statesman and
who at the same time had attained such distinction in scholarship.
But Mr. McCarthy was mistaken about this being the closing public
service in the life of Mr. Gladstone. It was very far from his last
public appearance. After that event Mr. Gladstone appeared repeatedly.
Though his official life had closed, yet he was to emerge from
retirement many times, and especially when it became necessary for him
to raise his strong voice for humanity. His advocacy of the great causes
of Armenian rescue, of Grecian independence, of Arbitration instead of
War, and the unity and harmony of the two great English-speaking people,
was given with all the old time fire of youth. What Mr. Gladstone did
and said with pen and voice since the occasion mentioned, was enough not
only for another chapter, but a whole volume, and sufficient alone to
immortalize any man.
After the great struggle for Home Rule and during the sultry summer of
1893, Mr. Gladstone repaired to his favorite winter resort, Biarritz, in
the south of France, It was while he was there that rumors of his
resignation were heard, based on the ground of his failing health. Dr.
Granger, of Chester, who was also an oculist, was summoned to examine
Mr. Gladstone's eyes. He told Mr. Gladstone that a cataract had
obliterated the sight of one eye, and that another cataract had begun to
form on the other. In other words Mr. Gladstone was threatened with
total blindness. The Prime Minister reflected a moment, and then
requested--almost ordered--the physician to operate immediately upon his
eye. He said: "I wish you to remove the cataract at once." The physician
replied that it was not far enough advanced for an operation. "You do
not understand me," answered the patient, "it is the old cataract I wish
removed. If that is out of the way, I shall still have one good eye,
when the new cataract impairs the sight of the other." As the physician
still hesitated, Mr. Gladstone continued: "You still seem not to
understand me. I want you to perform the operation here and now while I
am sitting in this chair." "But it might not be successful," said Dr.
Granger. "That is a risk I accept," was the instant reply. However, the
physician dared not then undertake it, and afterwards said that Mr.
Gladstone's eyes were as good as they were a year before, and that his
general health was also good.
In May, 1894, Mr. Gladstone's eye was successfully operated upon for
cataract. He took no anaesthetic, and was conscious during the time.
Every precaution was taken to insure success, and the patient was put to
bed for rest and quiet and kept on low diet. Mr. Gladstone's eyes were
so improved by judicious treatment that before long he could read ten or
twelve hours a day. This could be regarded as complete restoration of
sight, and enabled him, upon his retirement from public life, to devote
himself to the work he so well loved when at home in his study
Mr. Gladstone's retirement from public life, from the Premiership, the
Cabinet, the leadership of the Liberal Party, and from Parliament did
not mean his entrance upon a period of inactivity. In the shades of
Hawarden and in the quiet of his study he kept up the industry that had
characterized his whole life heretofore.
It had been the custom for centuries for English statesmen, upon
retiring from official life, to devote themselves to the classics. Mr.
Gladstone, who was pre-eminently a statesman-scholar, found it very
congenial to his mind and habits to follow this old English custom. He
first translated and published "The Odes of Horace." Then he took
Butler's "Analogy" as a text book, and prepared and published "Studies
Subsidiary to the Works of Bishop Butler." The discussion necessarily
takes a wide range, treating, among other matters, of Butler's method,
its application to the Scriptures, the future life, miracles and the
mediation of Christ. Says W.T. Stead: "No one who reads the strenuous
arguments with which Mr. Gladstone summarizes the reasoning of Bishop
Butler on the future life is conscious of any weakening in the vigorous
dialectic which was so often employed with brilliant success in the
House of Commons."
One of Mr. Gladstone's latest productions was his "Personal
Recollections of Arthur H. Hallam," which was written for the "Youth's
Companion." It is a tribute to the memory and worth of one of his early
friends at Eton.
These and other literary works occupied most of his time. But Mr.
Gladstone would not content himself with quiet literary work. He had too
long and too intensely been active in the world's great movements and on
humanity's behalf to stand aloof. Hence it was not long before he was
again in the arena, doing valiant service for the Armenian and
against the Turk.
In 1892 the Sultan, in the execution of a plan devised in 1890, issued
an edict against religious freedom. In 1894, he threw off the mask and
began to execute his deliberate and preconcerted plan to force all
Christian Armenians to become Mohammedans or to die. Robbery, outrage
and murder were the means used by the hands of brutal soldiers.
In a letter to an indignation meeting held in London, December 17th,
1894, Mr. Gladstone wrote denouncing these outrages of the Turks. The
reading of the letter was greeted with prolonged applause.
A deputation of Armenian gentlemen, residing in London and in Paris,
took occasion on Mr. Gladstone's 85th birthday, December 29th, 1894, to
present a silver chalice to Hawarden Church as "a memorial of Mr.
Gladstone's sympathy with and assistance to the Armenian people." Mr.
Gladstone's address to the deputation was regarded as one of the most
peculiar and characteristic acts of his life. He gave himself wholly to
the cause of these oppressed people, and was stirred by the outrages and
murders perpetrated upon them as he was 18 years before. He said that
the Turks should go out as they did go out of Bulgaria "bag and
baggage," and he denounced the government of the Sultan as "a disgrace
to Mahomet, the prophet whom it professed to follow, a disgrace to
civilization at large, and a curse to mankind." He contended that every
nation had ever the right and the authority to act "on behalf of
humanity and of justice."
There were those who condemned Mr. Gladstone's speech, declaring that it
might disrupt the peace of Europe, but there were many others who
thought that the sooner peace secured at such a cost was disturbed the
better. It was but natural for those who wrongfully claimed the
sovereign right to oppress their own subjects, to denounce all
interference in the affairs of the Sultan.
It was reported, March 19, 1895, that Francis Seymour Stevenson, M.P.,
Chairman of the Anglo-Armenian Association, on behalf of the Tiflis
Armenians, would present to Mr. Gladstone, on his return to London, the
ancient copy of the Armenian Gospels, inscribed upon vellum, which was
to accompany the address to the ex-Premier, then being signed by the
Armenians there. In a letter Mr. Gladstone had but recently declared
that he had abandoned all hope that the condition of affairs in Armenia
would change for the better. The Sultan, he declared, was no longer
worthy of the courtesies of diplomatic usage, or of Christian tolerance.
Mr. Gladstone promised that when these Gospels were formally presented
to him he would deliver a "rattling" address on behalf of the Armenians.
When a delegation waited on him, he said, after assuring them of his
sympathy, that the danger in the Armenian situation now was that useful
action might be abandoned, in view of the promises of the Turkish
Government to institute reforms.
In June 1895, Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone attended the opening of the Kaiser
Wilhelm Canal as guests of Sir Donald Currie, on his steamship
Tantallon Castle, returning home on the twenty-fifth. During this trip
an effort was made to arrange for an interview between the Ex-Premier
and the Prince Bismarck, but the Prince seemed disinclined and the
It was while Mr. Gladstone was at Kiel, that the Rosebery Ministry fell
by an accidental defeat of the Liberal Party in Parliament, and which
again brought Mr. Gladstone to the front in the public mind. Lord
Rosebery telegraphed Mr. Gladstone full particulars of the situation,
and Mr. Gladstone strongly advised against the resignation of the
Government and urged that a vote of confidence be taken. Mr. Gladstone
wrote that the Liberal Party could well afford to stand on its record.
The Ministry with but two exceptions, was the same, as that formed by
Mr. Gladstone in August 1892, and had his confidence.
Nevertheless, the cabinet of Lord Rosebery resigned, and the Marquis of
Salisbury again became Prime Minister,--on the very day of Mr.
Gladstone's arrival home. However Lord Rosebery retained the leadership
of the Liberal Party.
There is no doubt that if the wishes of the Liberal Party had been
gratified, Mr. Gladstone would have taken the leadership and again
become Prime Minister. Subsequent events proved that he would have been
equal, at least for a while, to the task of succeeding Lord Rosebery.
But Mr. Gladstone was not willing. He refused to re-enter Parliament,
and wrote a letter to his old constituents at Midlothian, declining
their kind offer to send him to the House and bade them a kind farewell.
In his letter he said that the Liberal Party is a party of progress and
reform, and urged his constituents to stand by it. He regarded the
changes of the century exceedingly beneficial.
August 6, 1895, Mr. Gladstone made a great speech at Chester. A meeting
was held in the Town Hall to arouse public sentiment against the
slaughter of Armenian Christians within the Empire of the Sultan by
Turkish soldiers, and to devise some means of putting an end to such
crimes, and of punishing the oppressor. The audience was very large,
including many Armenians resident in England, and rose with vociferous
cheering when Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone, the Duke of Westminster, the
Bishop of Chester, and the Mayor of Chester entered the hall. The Bishop
of Ripon was already there. The Duke of Westminster presided, and read a
letter from the Marquis of Salisbury, the Premier.
Mr. Gladstone arose amid an outburst of enthusiastic applause, and
addressing the vast audience said:
That the massacres in Armenia resulted from intolerable
government--perhaps the worst in the world. He offered a resolution
pledging the support of the entire nation to the British Government in
its efforts to secure for the Armenians such reforms as would guarantee
the safety of life, honor, religion and property. Mr. Gladstone said
that language failed to describe the horrors of the massacre of Sussoun,
which made the blood run cold. The Sultan was responsible, for these
barbarities were not the act of the criminal class, such as afflicts
every country, the malefactors who usually perpetrate horrible crime,
but were perpetrated by the agents of the Sultan--the soldiers and the
Kurds, tax-gatherers and police of the Turkish Government. And what had
been done, and was daily being done, could be summed up in four awful
words--plunder, murder, rape and torture. Plunder and murder were bad
enough, but these were almost venial by the side of the work of the
ravisher and the torturer. And the victims were defenceless men, women
and children--Armenians, one of the oldest Christian civilized races,
and one of the most pacific, industrious and intelligent races of
There was no exaggeration in the language used to describe the horrible
outrages visited upon whole communities of innocent and helpless people.
The truth of these terrible charges in their most hideous form, was
established by unbiased American testimony, by Dr, Dillon, an eye
witness, and by the representatives of England, France and Russia.
Nothing but a sense of duty, said Mr. Gladstone, had brought him at his
age to resign the repose, which was the last of many great earthly
blessings remaining to him, to address them.
If the Powers of Europe were to recede before the irrational resistance
of the Sultan, they would be disgraced in the eyes of the world, and the
Christian population of the Turkish Empire would be doomed to
extermination, according to the plan of the Porte. Terrible word, but
true in its application.
As to the remedy the cleanest was to make the Turk march out of Armenia,
as he did out of Bulgaria, "bag and baggage." He cautioned against
trusting the promises of the government at Constantinople, which he knew
from long experience, were worthless; and declared that the Sultan was
bound by no treaty obligation. The word "ought" was not heeded at
Constantinople, but the word "must" was understood fully there. Coercion
was a word perfectly comprehended there--a drastic dose which never
failed. If we have the smallest regard for humanity, he concluded, we
shall, with the help of God, demand that which is just and necessary.
Mr. Gladstone was frequently and loudly applauded during his speech, at
the conclusion of which the resolution was adopted.
The most powerful voice in all Britain had been raised with stirring
and thrilling power for justice and humanity. The testimony of an eye
witness is to the effect, that never did the grand old man seem in finer
form. His undimmed eye flashed as he spoke with withering scorn against
hypocrisy and with hottest hate against wrong. His natural force was not
abated, his health robust, and his conviction unsubdued. His deeply
lined and pale face was transfigured with the glow of righteous
indignation. The aged statesman was in his old House of Commons vigor.
"There was the same facile movement of his body, and the same
penetrating look as though he would pierce the very soul of his
auditors; the same triumphant march of sentence after sentence to their
chosen goal, and yet the same subtle method of introducing qualifying
clauses all along the march without loosing the grip of his theme; the
same ascent to lofty principles and commanding generalizations, blended
with the complete mastery of details; and, above all, the same sublimity
of outlook and ringing emphasis of sincerity in every tone." It was an
occasion never to be forgotten. A distinguished hearer said: "To read
his speech, as thousands will, is much; but to have heard it, to have
felt it-oh! that is simply indescribable, and will mark for many, one of
the most memorable days of this last decade of this closing century.
The sweet cadence of his voice, the fascination of his personality, and,
above all, the consecration of his splendid gifts to the cause of
plundered men and ravished women, raise the occasion into prominence in
the annals of a great people. Chiefly, I feel the triumphs of soul. His
utterance of the words 'wives,' 'women,' lifted them into an atmosphere
of awe and solemnity, and his tone in speaking of 'rape' and 'torture'
gave them an ineffable loathsomeness. It seemed as if so much soul had
never been put into a Saxon speech. Keen satire, rasping rebuke, an
avalanche of indignation, rapier-like thrusts to the vital fibre of the
situation, and withal the invincible cogency of argument against the
Turkish Government, gave the oration a primary place amongst the
master-pieces of human eloquence."
In the course of this famous speech Mr. Gladstone referred to America;
once when welcoming the sympathy of the American people with the
suffering Armenians, and again as he described the testimony of the
United States as a witness that gained enormously in value because it
was entirely free from suspicion.
A large meeting was held in St. James Hall, London, October 19, 1896, in
memory of Christian Martyrs in Turkey. The Bishop of Rochester presided.
The hall was packed with an audience of 2,600, while nearly 7,000
applied for admission. Many prominent persons were present. The large
audience was in sombre funeral attire. About thirty front seats were
occupied by Armenians. It was stated that 60,000 Armenians so far had
been murdered with tortures and indignities indescribable. To this
meeting Mr. Gladstone addressed a letter which was greeted with the
wildest enthusiasm. He said that he hoped the meeting would worthily
crown the Armenian meetings of the past two months, which were without a
parallel during his political life. The great object, he said, was to
strengthen Lord Salisbury's hands and to stop the series of massacres,
which were probably still unfinished, and to provide against their
renewal. As he believed that Lord Salisbury would use his powerful
position for the best, personally he objected in the strongest manner to
abridging Lord Salisbury's discretion by laying down this or that as
things which he ought not to do. It was a wild paradox, without the
support of reason or history, to say that the enforcement of treaty
rights to stop systematic massacre, together with effective security
against Great Britain's abusing them for selfish ends, would provoke the
hostilities of one or more of the powers.
To advertise beforehand in the ears of the Great Assassin that Great
Britain's action would cut down--what the most backward of the six
Powers think to be sufficient--would be the; abandonment of duty and
prudence and would be to doom the national movement to disappointment.
The concert of Europe was valuable and important, but such an
announcement would be certain to be followed by its failure.
One of the immediate effects of Mr. Gladstone's denunciation of the
Sultan for the Armenian massacres was the resignation by Lord Rosebery
of the leadership of the Liberal Party. Mr. Gladstone's return to
politics, the agitation of the Turkish question and the differences
between these two leaders of the Liberal movement as to the best way of
dealing with the Sultan, were assigned as reasons by Lord Rosebery for
It was then again suggested that Mr. Gladstone assume the leadership of
the Liberal Party and accept a peerage and a seat in the House of Lords,
so often tendered him by the Queen. Then Sir William Vernon-Harcourt
could lead in the House of Commons and bear the burden, while Mr.
Gladstone could be at the head of affairs without the worry of the House
of Commons. Besides, Mr. Morgan offered to resign his seat in the House
of Commons in his favor. But Mr. Gladstone would not agree to any of
these plans as far as they pertained to himself.
July 22, 1896, Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone returned to London to attend a
great social function, the marriage of one of the daughters of the
Prince and Princess of Wales to Prince Charles of Denmark. Mr. Gladstone
evinced much interest in everything connected with the important event,
and was himself the object of much attention.
September 23, 1896, Mr. Gladstone wrote a long letter to the Paris
Figaro in response to an appeal from its editor, M. Leudet, to Mr.
Gladstone to arouse the French press in behalf of the Armenians. After
expressing his diffidence in complying with the request, Mr. Gladstone
declared his belief that the population of Great Britain were more
united in sentiment and more thoroughly aroused by the present outrages
in Turkey than they were by the atrocities in Bulgaria in 1876.
He said: "The question whether effect can be given to the national
indignation is now in the balance, and will probably soon be decided. I
have read in some Austrian newspapers an affected scruple against sole
action by any one State in a European crisis, but there are two
first-class Powers who will not make that scruple their own. One of
these is Russia, who in 1878, earned lasting honors by liberating
Bulgaria and, helping onward the freedom and security of other Balkan
States. The other Power is France, who, in 1840, took up the cause of
Egypt and pushed it single handed to the verge of a European war. She
wisely forbore to bring about that horrible, transcendent calamity, but
I gravely doubt whether she was not right and the combined Powers wrong
in their policy of that period."
Mr. Gladstone denounced the Sultan as the "Great Assassin," and
continued: "For more than a year he has triumphed over the diplomacy of
the six Powers, they have been laid prostrate at his feet. There is no
parallel in history to the humiliation they have patiently borne. He has
therefore had every encouragement to continue a course that has been
crowned with such success. The impending question seems to be, not
whether, but when and where he will proceed to his next murderous
exploits. The question for Europe and each Power is whether he shall be
permitted to swell by more myriads the tremendous total of his victims.
"In other years when I possessed power I did my best to promote the
concert of Europe, but I sorrowfully admit that all the good done in
Turkey during the last twenty years was done, not by it, but more nearly
despite it." The letter concludes by expressing the hope that the French
people would pursue a policy worthy of their greatness, their fame and
the high place they have held in European Christian history.
September 24, 1896, a meeting was called by the Reform Club, of
Liverpool, to protest against the recent massacres of 2000 Armenians at
Constantinople at the affair of the Ottoman Bank, and many more
throughout the Turkish Empire. Mr. Gladstone was asked to address the
meeting. When requested by the agent of the Associated Press for an
advanced proof of his speech he declined, but wrote that he would
"recommend giving the warmest support to the Queen's government, and
would contend that England should act alone if necessary for the
fulfillment of the covenants which have been so disgracefully broken."
Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone, with their son Herbert, arrived at noon at
Liverpool, and were met at the railroad station by 2,000 enthusiastic
people. The meeting was held in the vast auditorium of the Circus
Building, which was filled. Thousands failed to obtain entrance.
Before the arrival of Mr. Gladstone there was a spontaneous outburst of
applause, everybody present standing and singing "God save the Queen."
When Mr. Gladstone entered, the prolonged roar of applause could be
heard for miles, arising from thousands inside and outside the hall.
The Earl of Derby, Conservative, presided. He was accompanied by the
Countess of Derby, who with many distinguished persons occupied
Mr. Gladstone stepped briskly to the front of the platform at 12.30 p.m.
bowing repeatedly in response to the applause. He looked strong and
well for a man of his age and labors, and was easily heard. After a few
preliminary remarks, he moved the following resolution:
"That this meeting trusts that Her Majesty's ministers, realizing to the
fullest extent the terrible condition in which their fellow Christians
are placed, will do everything possible to obtain for them full security
and protection; and this meeting assures Her Majesty's ministers that
they may rely upon the cordial support of the citizens of Liverpool in
whatever steps they may feel it necessary to take for that purpose."
The resolution was received with great cheering.
Mr. Gladstone resumed: "We have a just title to threaten Turkey with
coercion, but that does not in itself mean war; and I think that the
first step should be the recall of our Ambassador, and it should be
followed by the dismissal of the Turkish Ambassador from London. Such a
course is frequent and would not give the right of complaint to anybody.
When diplomatic relations are suspended, England should inform the
Sultan that she should consider the means of enforcing her just and
humane demands. I do not believe that Europe will make war to insure the
continuance of massacres more terrible than ever recorded in the dismal,
deplorable history of crime.
"Now, as in 1876, to the guilt of massacre is added the impudence of
denial, which will continue just as long as Europe is content to listen.
I doubt if it is an exaggeration to say that it was in the Sultan's
palace, and there only, that the inspiration has been supplied, and the
policy devised of the whole series of massacres. When the Sultan carries
massacre into his own capital under the eyes of the Ambassadors, he
appears to have gained the very acme of what it is possible for him to
do. But the weakness of diplomacy, I trust, is about to be strengthened
by the echo of this nation's voice."
Mr. Gladstone then referred to the supineness of the Ambassadors of the
Powers at Constantinople, and continued: "The concert of Europe is an
august and useful instrument, but it has not usually succeeded in
dealing with the Eastern question, which has arrived at a period when it
is necessary to strengthen the hands of the Government by an expression
of national opinion. I believe that the continued presence of the
Ambassadors at Constantinople has operated as a distinct countenance to
the Sultan, who is thus their recognized ally.
"But, while urging the Government to act, it does not follow that, even
for the sake of the great object in view, Great Britain should
transplant Europe into a state of war. On the other hand, however, I
deny that England must abandon her own right to independent judgment
and allow herself to be domineered over by the other powers."
Mr. Gladstone expressed the opinion that the purpose of the meeting was
defensive and prospective, saying that no one can hold out the hope that
the massacres are ended, although he ventured to anticipate that the
words spoken at the meeting would find their way to the palace at
Constantinople. "The present movement," he said, "is based on broad
grounds of humanity, and is not directed against the Mohammedans, but
against the Turkish officials, evidence of whose barbarities rests in
credible official reports." Mr. Gladstone declared his adhesion to the
principles contained in the resolution, and said he came to the meeting
not claiming any authority for sentiments expressed except that of a
citizen of Liverpool.
"But," he remarked, "the national platform upon which the meeting is
based gives greater authority for sentiments universally entertained
throughout the length and breadth of the land, and I urge that in this
matter party sympathy be renounced. I entertain the lively hope and
strong belief that the present deplorable situation is not due to the
act or default of the Government of this great country."
Mr. Gladstone spoke about twenty minutes and was repeatedly interrupted
by applause. He was in good voice, and did not seem fatigued when he
The next day the Turkish Embassy at London telegraphed Mr. Gladstone's
speech at Liverpool verbatim to the Sultan.
The London Times in an editorial said: "The spectacle of the veteran
statesman quitting his retirement to plead the cause of the oppressed is
well calculated to move the sympathy and admiration of the nation. The
ardor of Mr. Gladstone's feelings on this subject is notorious. All the
more striking and significant is the comparative restraint and
moderation of the speech."
Other questions besides those mentioned were claiming the attention of
English statesmen. In the Spring, prior to the great Liverpool meeting,
the Venezuela boundary question was agitating the two great English
speaking nations to the very verge of war. A large Peace Meeting was
held in London, March 3, 1896, to favor arbitration. Mr. Gladstone
wrote: "I am glad that the discussion of arbitration is to be separated
from the Venezuela question, upon which I do not feel myself in final
and full possession of the facts that I should wish. My views on
arbitration in place of war were gathered from the part I took in the
matter of the Alabama claims. I will only add that my conviction and
sentiment on the subject grow in strength from year to year in
proportion to the growth of that monstrous and barbarous militarism, in
regard to which I consider England has to bear no small responsibility."
The meeting favored permanent international arbitration, and an
Anglo-American treaty was finally signed by the representatives of the
two nations, providing for the settlement of all questions between the
two nations by arbitration instead of by war, but the Senate of the
United States refused to ratify the treaty.
Mr. Gladstone deplored intensely the extraordinary misunderstanding
which had prevailed on the subject of the Venezuela frontier. He seemed
to think that nothing but a little common sense was needed to secure the
pacific settlement of the question at any moment. A hundred square miles
more or less on either side of the boundary of British Guiana was to him
a matter of supreme indifference. He was extremely anxious to see
justice done, and one of his last speeches in the House of Commons was
in favor of permanent arbitration between England and the United States.
Another one of the absorbing questions that came before the civilized
world for consideration, and almost to the exclusion of the Armenian
question, was the Cretan Question. Greece heroically sustained the
insurrection of the Cretans against the Turkish rule. The scene of
Turkish cruelty was now transferred to the isle of Crete. For the time
the Armenian massacres were forgotten. The Greeks rushed to the rescue,
while all Europe held aloof. Mr. Gladstone sent the following dispatch
to the Chronicle: "I do not dare to stimulate Greece when I cannot help
her, but I shall profoundly rejoice at her success. I hope the Powers
will recollect that they have their own character to redeem." This was
in February, 1897, Later he wrote that to expel the Greek troops from
Crete and keep as police the butchers of Armenia, would further deepen
the disgrace of the Powers of Europe.
In March, 1897, Mr. Gladstone addressed a letter, now justly celebrated,
on the same subject to the Duke of Westminster in which he expressed his
opinion more fully, and which was evidently the sentiment of the English
speaking people of the world. The letter was in the form of a pamphlet
of 16 pages, published, and entitled The Eastern Crisis.
In less than a week after this eloquent manifesto in behalf of the
Cretans and of Greece was put forth, it was currently reported that the
precise solution of the problem recommended by Mr. Gladstone was likely
to be adopted. The Sultan himself, fearful of the effect of the appeal
on public opinion in Europe, sought the settlement of the question in
the manner suggested. The Greeks still clamored for war. In the war
that followed between Greece and Turkey, Greece was defeated and crushed
by the Turk. Only by the intervention of the Powers was Greece saved
from becoming a part of the Sultan's Empire.
After peace had been concluded between Turkey and Greece, Mr. Gladstone
undertook to arouse public opinion by a trenchant review of the
situation. Looking back over the past two years of England's Eastern
policy, he inquires as to what have been the results, and then answers
his own question. He thus enumerates:
1. The slaughter of 100,000 Armenian Christians, men, women and
children, with no guarantee against a repetition of the crime.
2. The Turkish Umpire stronger than at any time since the Crimean war.
3. Christian Greece weaker than at any time since she became a kingdom.
These are facts, Mr. Gladstone claimed, for which the leading Christian
nations and statesmen of Europe are responsible.
While Mr. Gladstone thus expresses himself, yet his vigorous protests
had not been without effect. His voice penetrated into the very palace
of the Sultan, and into every Cabinet of Europe, and was heard by every
statesman and ruler throughout the world, and aroused the people
everywhere. It was a mighty voice lifted for right and against
oppression. The Sultan was afraid and was compelled to desist; not that
he feared the protests and the warnings of the Christian Nations of
Europe, but because that one voice was the expression of the popular
feeling of all Christians throughout the world, and to defy such
sentiment would be to court the overthrow of his throne, if not of the
dominion of the Turk in Europe.
In June, 1894, an invitation was extended to Mr. Gladstone to visit the
United States, signed by many representative men in public life. But Mr.
Gladstone, while acknowledging the compliment, declined because of his
age. It would, he thought, be a tremendous undertaking for him. The
fatigue of the voyage and the strain of the receptions while in America,
would prove greater than his physical condition could bear.
Later Mr. Gladstone was waited on at Hawarden by one hundred members of
the Philadelphia Manufacturer's Club. He personally escorted them over
the Castle grounds and narrated the history of the Castle to them.
Greatly pleased with the warmth of their reception, they thanked Mr.
Gladstone for his courtesy. They then gave him three cheers. This token
of appreciation was very gratifying to Mr. Gladstone, who said that it
was the first time he had ever heard American cheers.
Saturday afternoon, August 15, 1896, Li Hung Chang, the great Chinese
Statesman and Embassador, visited Mr. Gladstone at Hawarden. Probably
the three greatest living statesmen of the time were Gladstone, Bismarck
and Li Hung Chang. The Embassador and his suite went to Chester in a
special train, and were driven in three open carriages to Hawarden.
Along the route as, well as at the station, the party was cheered by a
large crowd. The Viceroy was sleeping when the train reached Chester and
he was allowed to sleep until he awoke. Yet the party was ahead of time
in reaching the Castle, but Mr. Gladstone hastened to receive them. The
Chinese visitors were received at the door by Mr. Henry Gladstone. Li
Hung Chang was escorted into the Library where he was introduced to Mr.
and Mrs. Gladstone.
The intention of Mr. Gladstone was to have as escort a guard of honor to
the Viceroy, the Hawarden corps of the Welsh Fusiliers, which reached
the Castle, owing to the visitors being ahead of time, ten minutes after
the arrival of the party.
The two aged statesmen sat near the window overlooking the terrace, and
at once, with the aid of Lo Feug Luh, engaged in conversation, Li asked
various questions concerning Mr. Gladstone's career, and was informed by
Mr. Gladstone that he had been Prime Minister nearly thirteen years,
and in the Cabinet nearly twenty-four years. When complimented upon the
service he had rendered to his country, Mr. Gladstone replied that he
had done what he could, but he should have done a great deal more. Li
observed that British interests and British trade in China were greater
than those of all other countries put together. The Viceroy also talked
with Mr. Gladstone of free trade, of restrictions upon commerce, of the
power of the British Navy, of the greatness of the British Revenues, of
the vastness of the Colonial Empire, of the necessity of a railway
system to commerce and upon a number of similar subjects. Refreshments
were served which Li enjoyed, and then by request he wrote his autograph
in three books, using Dorothy Drew's colors for the purpose. Mr.
Gladstone and Li were photographed together sitting on chairs outside
the porch. Mr. Gladstone presented Li with three books from his library,
and then the Chinese visitors departed.
On Saturday evening October 10, 1896, the Right Hon. and Most Rev.
Edward White Benson, D.D., Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of all
England, arrived at Hawarden with Mrs. Benson on a visit to his old
friend Mr. Gladstone. Sunday morning Dr. Benson went with the Gladstone
family to Hawarden Church and occupied the Gladstone pew. After the
service had commenced a commotion was observed. It was caused by the
fall of Dr. Benson In the pew while kneeling in prayer. Attendants
removed Dr. Benson to the Rectory, and medical aid was summoned, but
death came soon after from apoplexy. The Rev. Stephen Gladstone, rector,
proceeded with the service until notified of the death of the
Archbishop, when he dismissed the congregation. Mr. Gladstone, who had
not attended church from indisposition, was deeply affected by the death
of his guest and friend.
The morning papers of London, June 1, 1896, printed a long letter from
Mr. Gladstone to Cardinal Rampolla for submission to the Pope Leo XIII,
in favor of the unity of Christendom by means of a papal declaration in
favor of the validity of Anglican orders. It created a great sensation.
Shortly after this the Pope issued an Encyclical letter addressed to
"all bishops in communion with the Holy See." The theme was the same as
that of Mr. Gladstone's letter, to which it was regarded as an answer.
The Pope invited all the English people "to return to the religion of
the Roman Catholic Church." "This," remarks Mr. Justin McCarthy, "was
exactly what any thoughtful person might have expected." While this
letter and its answer did not satisfy the clergy of the established
Church of England, who were favorably disposed towards Rome, on the
other hand it aroused the dissenting Christians of England to reply
that they were opposed to all state or established churches, whether
Roman Catholic or English Episcopal.
On December 29, 1896, the eighty-seventh anniversary of Mr. Gladstone's
birth was celebrated at Hawarden, surrounded by his family and friends.
There were the usual demonstrations by the villagers, consisting in the
ringing of bells and the appointments of deputations to wait upon the
aged statesman at the Castle with congratulations. An enormous flow of
telegrams and messages continued throughout the day from all parts of
the kingdom, the United States and the Continent. Among those sending
congratulations were the Prince and Princess of Wales, and Baroness de
Rothschild. Mr. Gladstone was in good health, and in the afternoon went
out for a walk.
May 10, 1897, the Prince and Princess of Wales, accompanied by the
Princess Victoria, visited Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone at Hawarden. They were
received by Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone in the porch erected in 1889 to
commemorate their golden wedding. The mutual greetings were of the
heartiest nature. The royal party inspected the ruins of the old castle,
Mr. Gladstone acting as escort to the Princess of Wales. An interesting
incident occurred on the lawn. The Princess took great interest in
inspecting the favorite dogs of the Gladstone family. These were the
black Pomeranians. Two puppies were carried in a basket, one of which
the Princess accepted as a gift.
June 22, 1897, was celebrated with great pomp and rejoicing the Diamond
Jubilee of Victoria, the Queen of England and Empress of India, when the
Queen reached the 60th anniversary of her reign, which is the longest in
English history. Victoria became queen at the age of 19 years, in 1837,
and then the British Isles possessed a population of 26,000,000 and they
had became 40,000,000. Her Empire has been extended until in India,
South, Central and Western Africa, Australia, New Zealand and North
America, and including the British Isles, there were 360,000,000 people
who owned her sway. And to this greatness and glory Mr. Gladstone had
been one to contribute largely, while his influence has been felt more
still by far in promoting the moral greatness of the people. Throughout
all the Empire the event was celebrated, and the jubilee procession in
London was swollen by representatives of all parts of the Queen's domain
and all nations on earth which rendered it the greatest pageant ever
beheld. Even the Turk was there, but Mr. Gladstone was not there, nor
was his name even mentioned for a place in the march on jubilee day. Yet
the period of Victoria's reign will often be spoken of in history as the
"The public life of a leading statesman," says an eminent writer,
"offers the boldest and stateliest outline to the public view. It may be
that the most striking and memorable chapters in a future biography of
Mr. Gladstone will contain the story of his private affairs and domestic
life." His daily life at home was a model of simplicity and regularity,
and the great secret of the vast amount of work he accomplished was
owing to the fact that every odd five minutes were occupied. He had a
deep sense of the preciousness of time and the responsibility which
everyone incurs who uses or misuses it. "To such a length did he carry
this that at a picnic to a favorite Welsh mountain he has been seen to
fling himself on the heather and bury himself in some pamphlet upon a
question of the day, until called to lighter things by those who were
responsible for the provision basket."
Mr. Gladstone was ever a most severe economist of time, a habit acquired
as long ago as 1839, when he awed his young wife by filling up all odd
bits and scraps of time with study or work. Out of his pocket would come
the little classic at every chance opportunity of leisure. This accounts
for his ability to get through in one day more than most people do in a
week. Then besides, he had the faculty of concentrating the whole power
of his mind upon the one thing before him, whether small or great. He
was unable to divide the machinery of his mind. Interruption was almost
fatal to his train of thought, but he was generally oblivious to
conversation buzzing around him. Hence it was some time before a
questioner could get an answer--he did not seem to hear, but patience
finally secured attention, after the train of absorbing thought
It was this power of concentrating all his faculties upon what he was
doing, whether it was work or play, that made Mr. Gladstone one of the
ablest as well as happiest of the century. He took the keenest delight
in the scholarly and beautiful, and this accounts for his disregard of
minor ills and evils. He was too absorbed to be fretful or impatient.
But to be absorbed in great things did not mean, in his case, to be
neglectful of little things. At one time his mind and time were so
completely taken up with the Eastern question, that he could not be
induced to spare a thought for Ireland, and afterward it was quite as
difficult to get him to think of any political question except that
In the daily routine of private life none in the household were more
punctual and regular than Mr. Gladstone. At 8 o'clock he was up and in
his study. From 1842 he always found time, with all his manifold duties,
to go to church regularly, rain or shine, every morning except when ill,
at half-past 8 o'clock, He walked along the public road from the castle
to Hawarden church. Writes an observer: "The old statesman, with his
fine, hale, gentle face, is an interesting figure as he walks lightly
and briskly along the country road, silently acknowledging the fervent
salutations of his friends--the Hawarden villagers. He wears a long
coat, well buttoned up, a long shawl wrapped closely around his neck,
and a soft felt hat--a very different figure from that of the Prime
Minister as he is known in London."
At the Castle prayers were read to the family and household soon after 9
o'clock daily. His customary breakfast was comprised of a hard-boiled
egg, a slice of tongue, dry toast and tea. The whole morning whether at
home or on a visit was devoted to business. Luncheon at Hawarden was
without formality. "Lunch was on the hob," for several hours, to be
partaken of when it suited the convenience of the various members of the
family. Tea, of which Mr. Gladstone was particularly fond, and of which
he could partake at any hour of the day, or night, was served in the
afternoon at 5 o'clock,--after which he finished his correspondence.
In the afternoon, Mr. Gladstone was accustomed to a walk in the grounds,
accompanied by his faithful little black Pomeranian dog, Petz, who was
obtained on a trip abroad, and became and remained for many years, an
important member of the household, and one of Mr. Gladstone's most
devoted followers. Increasing years of over fourscore, prevented finally
walks of fifty miles a day once indulged in, and the axes stood unused
in their stands in the vestibule and library, but still Mr. Gladstone
kept up his walks with his silent companion Petz. After walking for half
an hour longer in his library after his return to the Castle, Mr.
Gladstone would dress for dinner, which operation usually took him from
three to five minutes. At 8 o'clock he joined the family, at dinner,
which was a cheerful meal. Like Goethe he ate heartily and enjoyed his
meals, but his diet was extremely simple, Mr. Gladstone eating only what
was prescribed by his physician. At dinner he talked freely and
brilliantly even when none but his family were present. When visitors
were present he would enter upon whatever was the subject of
conversation, taking his share with others, and pouring a flood of light
upon any theme suggested, giving all the benefit of the fund of wisdom
and anecdote collected through two generations of unparalleled political
and social activity.
After dinner, when there were no visitors at Hawarden, Mr. Gladstone
would quietly sit reading in his library, or conversing with his family.
He never used tobacco. Shortly after 10 o'clock he retired to bed and to
sleep. He never allowed himself to think and be sleepless. Mr. Bright
had a habit of making his speeches after he had retired to bed, which
Mr. Gladstone thought was detrimental to his health. Bight hours was the
time Mr. Gladstone permitted himself to sleep. His bed-room was on the
second floor and reached by a fine staircase. Everything in the room was
plain and homely.
On the walls of his bed-room and over the mantlepiece was a text
emblazoned, on which at evening and morning he could look, which read:
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee."
This not only expresses Mr. Gladstone's trust in God, but doubtless
accounts in a large degree for that tranquility of mind so notably his,
even in those trying times that prostrated many and carried many more
away from their bearings.
From the worry or weariness of business, Mr. Gladstone was ever ready to
turn for rest to reading, which has thus proved of inestimable value to
him. "His family cannot speak without emotion of that look of perfect
happiness and peace that beamed from his eye on such occasions." When
during the general elections of 1882, this was denied him, he turned
with equal readiness to writing and thinking on other subjects. During
the Midlothian Campaign and General Election, and through the Cabinet
making that followed, he relieved the pressure on his over-burdened
brain by writing an article on Home Rule, "written with all the force
and freshness of a first shock of discovery;" he was also writing daily
on the Psalms; he was preparing a paper for the Oriental Congress which
was to startle the educated world by "its originality and ingenuity;"
and he was composing with great and careful investigation his Oxford
lecture on "The rise and progress of learning in the University
All during the morning hours he would sit in the silence of that
corner-room on the ground floor reading. There were three writing-desks
in the library, and one was chiefly reserved for correspondence of a
political nature, and another for his literary work, while the third was
used by Mrs. Gladstone. He spent his evenings when at Hawarden in a cosy
corner of the library reading. He had a wonderfully constructed lamp so
arranged for him for night reading, as to throw the utmost possible
light on the pages of the book. It was generally a novel that employed
his mind at night. Occasionally he gives Mrs. Drew about two hundred
novels to divide the sheep from the goats among them. She divides them
into three classes--novels worth keeping, novels to be given away, and
novels to be destroyed.
Mr. Gladstone generally had three books in course of reading at the same
time, changing from one to the other. These books were carefully
selected with reference to their character and contents, and he was
particular as to their order and variation. For instance at one time he
was reading Dr. Laugen's Roman History, in German, in the morning,
Virgil in the afternoon, and a novel at night. Scott was his preference
among novelists. He read with pencil in hand, and he had an elaborate
system of marking a book. Aristotle, St. Augustine, Dante and Bishop
Butler were the authors who had the deepest influence upon him, so he
himself said. His copy of the Odyssey of Homer he had rebound several
times, as he preferred always to use the same copy.
Mrs. Drew says of her father: "There could not be a better illustration
of his mind than his Temple of Peace--his study, with its
extraordinarily methodical arrangement. Away from home he will write an
exact description of the key or paper he requires, as: 'Open the left
hand drawer of the writing table nearest the fireplace, and at the back
of the drawer, in the right hand corner, you will find some keys. You
will see three on one string; send me the one with such and such teeth.'
His mind is arranged in the same way; he has only to open a particular
compartment, labelled so and so, to find the information he requires.
His memory in consequence is almost unfailing. It is commonly found that
in old age the memory may be perfect as regards times long gone by, but
inaccurate and defective as to more recent events. But with Mr.
Gladstone the things of the present are as deeply stamped on his brain
as the things of the past." Some one has said of Mr. Gladstone that his
memory was "terrible." It is evident that he always kept abreast of the
times--informing himself of everything new in literature, science and
art, and when over eighty years of age was as ready to imbibe fresh
ideas as when he was only eighteen, and far more discriminating.
Those who entered Mr. Gladstone's official room on a Sunday, during the
busiest parliamentary session, could not fail to be struck by the
atmosphere of repose, the signs and symbols of the day, the books lying
open near the armchair, the deserted writing-table, the absence of
papers and newspapers. On Sunday Mr. Gladstone put away all business of
a secular nature, occupied his time in reading special books, suitable
to the day, and generally attended church twice, never dined out, except
he went on a mission of mercy, or to cheer some sorrowful friend. When
the Queen invited him to Windsor Castle on Sunday for one night, as she
did sometimes, he always arranged to stay in Windsor Saturday. In his
dressing room he kept a large open bible in which he daily read.
Physically, intellectually and spiritually Mr. Gladstone's Sundays were
regarded by his family as a priceless blessing to him, and to have made
him the man he was. Mr. Gladstone had strict notions of his duty to his
church. Whenever he established himself in London, he always attended
the nearest church, and became regular in his attendance, not only on
the Sabbath, but daily. With an empire on his shoulders he found time
for daily public devotion, and in church-going he was no "gadabout."
When he resided at Carlton House Terrace he attended the church of St.
Mr. Gladstone's daily correspondence, when Prime Minister, was simply
enormous. At first he felt it to be a conscientious duty to deal with
the most of it himself, but finally came to trust the bulk of it to
secretaries as other ministers did. Some letters came to him daily that
he had to answer with his own hand; for example, from ministers or on
confidental business, from the court, At the end of every Cabinet
Council the Premier has to write a letter with his own hand to his
sovereign, giving full information of the business transacted. The same
kind of report is required daily from Parliament. Of course Mr.
Gladstone, whenever he was Prime Minister, faithfully attended to this
duty and dispatched the required letters written with his own hand to
Mr. Gladstone was remarkable for the strength and endurance of his body
as well as for the vigor of his intellect. "Don't talk to me of Mr.
Gladstone's mind," said a contemporary; "it is his body which astonishes
me." He never had any serious illness in his life, and up to quite
recent years were vigorous exercise, sometimes walking when in Scotland
20 miles at a stretch over rough and mountainous country. The physical
effort of speaking to twenty thousand people, and being heard in every
part of the vast building by the audience, as was the case at
Birmingham, in 1889, was remarkable. His power of endurance was
wonderful. In 1882, he once sat up through an all-night sitting of the
House of Commons, and going back to 10 Downing Street, at 8 o'clock in
the morning, for half an hour's rest, again returned to the House and
remained until the conclusion of the setting. Tree-cutting, which was
with him a frequent recreation until he became a very old man, was
chosen "as giving him the maximum of healthy exercise in the minimum of
time." This favorite pastime of the great statesman was so closely
associated with him that it was deemed the proper thing to do to place
on exhibition in the Great Columbian Exposition at Chicago one of the
axes of Mr. Gladstone.
The Psalmist says, "A man was famous according as he had lifted up axes
upon the thick trees." These singular words were written long before
Mr. Gladstone's day, but famous as he was for felling the great trees of
the forest, the words have a deeper meaning and in more than one sense
met their fulfilment in him. His swift and keen axe of reform brought
down many hoary headed evils. Mr. Gladstone himself explained why he
cultivated this habit of cutting down trees. He said: "I chop wood
because I find that it is the only occupation in the world that drives
all thought from my mind. When I walk or ride or play cricket, I am
still debating important business problems, but when I chop wood I can
think of nothing but making the chips fly."
The following story illustrates Mr. Gladstone's remarkable powers and
the surprise he would spring upon those who met him. Two gentlemen who
were invited guests at a table where Mr. Gladstone was expected, made a
wager that they would start a conversation on a subject about which even
Mr. Gladstone would know nothing. To accomplish this end they "read up"
an "ancient" magazine article on some unfamiliar subject connected with
Chinese manufactures. When the favorable opportunity came the topic was
started, and the two conspirators watched with amusement the growing
interest in the subject which Mr. Gladstone's face betrayed. Finally he
joined in the conversation, and their amusement was turned into
confusion, when Mr. Gladstone said, "Ah, gentlemen, I perceive you have
been reading an article I wrote in the ---- Magazine some thirty or
forty years ago."
CLOSING SCENES OF A LONG AND EVENTFUL LIFE
Mr. Gladstone died at Hawarden Castle, at 5 o'clock, Thursday Morning,
May 19, 1898.
The first intimation of the rapidly approaching end of Mr. Gladstone was
conveyed in a bulletin issued at 9 o'clock Tuesday morning, May 17. It
read "Mr. Gladstone had a poor and broken sleep last night; he is
somewhat exhausted, but suffers no discomfort." The report of the
evening before was assuring as to any sudden change, so that the anxiety
was increased. For hours no additional information was given, but there
were indications outside the Castle of a crisis. Throughout the day
could be heard expressions of deep regret among the working people,
asking, "How is the old gentleman?" Despite the heavy rain the people
collected in groups, and the hush and quiet that prevailed indicated the
presence of death.
A bulletin at 5 p.m. said: "Mr. Gladstone has taken a serious turn for
the worse. His death may be expected in twenty-four hours." All day the
condition of the patient had been critical. The doctor doubted that his
patient was fully conscious at any time, he answered, "Yes," and "No."
He refused all medicine, exclaiming No! No! It was remarked that when
addressed in English, Mr. Gladstone would answer in French, and
sometimes was praying in French.
Later in the evening the servants of the household were admitted to the
sick room for a final farewell. They found Mr. Gladstone lying in a deep
sleep; each in turn knelt down, kissed his hand and tearfully withdrew.
About 9 o'clock the patient rallied a little and fell into a peaceful
sleep, which was thought to be his last.
The rain had continued to fall during the night, but the villagers had
been coming singly and in groups to glance silently at the rain-beaten
scrap of paper which was the latest bulletin, and then silently
returning to the gate, and disappearing in the darkness only to
About 4 o'clock in the morning Mr. Gladstone seemed to be sinking. The
scene in the sick-room was painful. The Rev. Stephen Gladstone read
prayers and hymns, including Mr. Gladstone's favorite, "Rock of Ages."
When this was concluded, Mr. Gladstone murmured, "Our Father." As Mrs.
Gladstone leaned over her husband, he turned his head and his lips moved
slightly. Though extremely distressed, Mrs. Gladstone bore up with
remarkable fortitude. But Mr. Gladstone rallied again, and Wednesday
morning he was still living. By his almost superhuman vitality he had
fought death away.
The morning was beautiful and clear and the sunshine came in at the open
window of Mr. Gladstone's room. The aged sufferer was hovering between
life and death, and only by the feeble beating of his pulse could it be
told he was alive. He was sleeping himself away into eternal day. Mrs.
Gladstone sat by the side of his bed, holding his hand, and never
leaving except for needed rest. At times he seemed to recognize for a
moment some of those with him. He surely knew his wife as she tenderly
kissed his hand.
It soon became known abroad that Mr. Gladstone was dying. In the House
of Commons it caused profound sorrow. Everything else was stopped while
members discussed how best to honor him, even by taking steps without,
precedent as that of adjourning, because the circumstances were
unprecedented. His former colleagues silently watched his last struggle
with the relentless foe, to whom, true to himself, he was yielding
slowly, inch by inch.
Telegrams of inquiry and sympathy came from all parts of the world to
the Castle. The Queen wrote making inquiries and tendering assurances of
profound sympathy. A long telegram from the Princess of Wales concluded:
"I am praying for you." The Prince of Wales wrote: "My thoughts are with
you at this trying time., God grant that your father does not suffer."
The Duke of Devonshire before the British Empire League referred
touchingly to the mournful scenes at Hawarden, when "the greatest of
Englishmen was slowly passing away." And all over the land people of all
conditions and at all kinds of gatherings, politicians, divines,
reformers, and women joined in expressions of grief and sympathy. Many
were the messages of regard and condolence that came from other lands.
Dr. Dobie furnishes the following picture of the dying man. "His grand
face bears a most peaceful and beautiful look. A few days ago the deeply
bitten wrinkles that so long marked it were almost gone; but now,
strangely enough, they seem strong and deep as ever. He looks too in
wonderfully good color."
At 2 o'clock in the morning, it was evident that the time had come, and
the family gathered about the bed of the aged man, from that time none
of them left the room until all was over. The only absentee was little
Dorothy Drew, who tearfully complained that her grandfather did not know
her. Behind the family circle stood the physicians and the nurses, and
the old coachman, who had been unable to be present when the other
servants took their farewell, and who was now sent for to witness the
The end was most peaceful. There were no signs of bodily pain or of
mental distress. The Rev. Stephen Gladstone read prayers and repeated
hymns. The nurse continued to bathe with spirits the brow of the
patient, who showed gratitude by murmuring, "How nice!" While the son
was engaged in praying, came the gentle, almost perceptible cessation of
life, and the great man was no more. So quietly had he breathed his
last, that the family did not know it until it was announced by the
medical attendants. The weeping family then filed slowly from the room,
Mrs. Gladstone was led into another room and induced to lie down. The
only spoken evidence that Mr. Gladstone realized his surroundings in his
last moments was when his son recited the litany. Then the dying man
murmured, "Amen." This was the last word spoken by Mr. Gladstone and was
uttered just before he died.
The death of Mr. Gladstone was announced to the people of Hawarden by
the tolling of the church bell. The following bulletin was posted at 6
a.m.: "In the natural course of things the funeral will be at Hawarden.
Mr. Gladstone expressed a strong wish to have no flowers at his funeral;
and the family will be grateful if this desire is strictly respected."
There was something indescribably pathetic in the daily bulletins about
Mr. Gladstone. All the world knew that he was afflicted with a fatal but
slow disease, and all the world was struck with wondering admiration at
his sustained fortitude, patience, and resignation. The tragedy of a
life, devoted simply and purely to the public service, drawing to an end
in so long an agony, was a spectacle that struck home to the heart of
the most callous. These bulletins were posted on the front door of the
Jubilee Porch, at Hawarden Castle, at 9 a.m., 5 p.m. and 10 o'clock at
night daily, and published throughout the world.
When the sad event was announced that Mr. Gladstone had passed away, the
action of the House of Commons was prompt, decided and sympathetic. The
House was crowded Thursday, May 19, when Speaker Gully called upon the
government leader, Mr. A. J. Balfour, the First Lord of the Treasury,
and all the members uncovering their heads, Mr. Balfour said:
"I think it will be felt in all parts of the House that we should do
fitting honor to the great man whose long and splendid career closed
to-day, by adjourning.
"This is not the occasion for uttering the thoughts which naturally
suggest themselves. That occasion will present itself to-morrow, when it
will be my duty to submit to the House an address to the Queen, praying
her to grant the honor of a public funeral, if such honor is not
inconsistent with the expressed wishes of himself or of those who have
the right to speak in his behalf, and also praying the Queen to direct
that a public monument be erected at Westminster with an inscription
expressive of the public admiration, attachment and high estimate
entertained by the House of Mr. Gladstone's rare and splendid gifts and
devoted labors in Parliament and in high offices of State.
"Before actually moving the adjournment, I have to propose a formal
resolution that the House to-morrow resolve itself into committee to
draw up an address, the contents of which I have just indicated."
After a word of assent from Sir William Vernon-Harcourt, the Liberal
leader, the resolution was adopted and the House adjourned.
The House of Commons was crowded again on Friday, and went into
committee of the whole to consider the address to the Queen in regard
to the interment of the remains of Mr. Gladstone in Westminster Abbey.
Not since the introduction of the Home Rule Bill by Mr. Gladstone had
there been such an assemblage in the House, members filled every seat,
clustered on the steps of the speaker's dais, and occupied every space.
The galleries were all filled. In the Peer's gallery were the foremost
members of the House of Lords. United States Ambassador Hay and all his
staff were present with other Ambassadors. The members of the House were
in deep mourning, and all removed their hats, as if in the presence of
the dead. An unusual hush overspread all. After the prayer by the
chaplain, there was an impressive silence for a quarter of an hour,
before Mr. Balfour rose to speak. The whole scene was profoundly
affecting. The eulogies of Mr. Gladstone formed an historic episode.
All, without respect to party, united in honoring their late illustrious
Mr. Balfour delivered a brilliant panegyric of the dead statesman, and
his speech was eloquent and displayed great taste. He was so ill,
however, from weakness of heart that he was barely able to totter to his
place and to ask the indulgence of the speaker while he rested, before
offering his oration. He was too sick for the sad duty imposed upon him,
but he preferred to pay this last tribute to his friend. The
circumstances were painful, but added a dramatic touch to the scene.
His oration was lengthy and his eulogy spoken with evident emotion. He
concluded by formally moving the presentation of the address to the
Queen. The Liberal Leader, Sir William Vernon-Harcourt, the political as
well as the personal friend of Mr. Gladstone, seconded the motion. He
paid a heartfelt tribute to the memory of his eminent colleague, and
spoke in a vein of lofty and glowing eloquence until overcome with
emotion, so that he had to stop thrice to wipe his eyes; finally he
completely broke down and was unable to proceed.
Mr. Dillon, the Irish leader, in a speech of five minutes duration, and
in his most oratorical style, dwelt on Mr. Gladstone's fervid sympathy
for the oppressed people of all races, and touched a chord which stirred
the House. As Mr. Dillon had spoken for Ireland, so Mr. Abel Thomas
followed as the representative of Wales.
The address to the Queen was unanimously adopted.
In the House of Lords there was also a full attendance of members. The
Marquis of Salisbury, Prime Minister, spoke feelingly of Mr. Gladstone,
who, he said, "was ever guided in all his efforts by a lofty moral
idea". The deceased will be remembered, not so much for his political
work as for the great example, hardly paralleled in history, of the
great Christian Statesman.
The Earl of Kimberly, the liberal leader in the House of Lords, followed
in a touching tribute, and the Duke of Devonshire expressed generous
appreciation of Mr. Gladstone's services in behalf of the Liberal
Unionists, saying their severance from Mr. Gladstone was a most painful
incident. But, he added, he could "recall no word from Mr. Gladstone
which added unnecessarily to the bitterness of the situation." The Earl
of Rosebery delivered an eloquent panegyric. The honors of the occasion
were unanimously accorded to him, whose eulogy of his predecessor in the
leadership of the liberal party was a masterpiece of its kind. He spoke
of the triumphs of life rather than the sorrows of death. Death was not
all sadness. His life was full---his memory remains. To all time he is
an example for our race and mankind. He instanced as an illustration of
the fine courtesy always observed by Mr. Gladstone towards his political
opponents, that the last letter he had written with his own hand was a
private note to Lady Salisbury, several weeks since, congratulating her
and her husband on their providential escape from a carriage accident at
Hatfield. Lord Salisbury was visibly touched by Lord Rosebery's
reference to this circumstance.
The House of Lords then adopted the Resolution to the Queen.
The body of Mr. Gladstone, un-coffined, was laid on a couch in the
Library of the Castle--the room called the Temple of Peace. He was
dressed in a suit of black cloth, over which were the scarlet robes of
the university, and by his side the cap was placed. His hands were
folded on his breast. He rested on a most beautiful white satin cloth,
with a rich border in Eastern embroidery. Above his head in letters of
gold were the words sewn into the satin: "Requiescat in pace." There was
the beauty of death--the terror was all gone. During Tuesday the body
was viewed by the tenants on the estate, the neighbors and friends.
On Wednesday morning, May 25th, at 6 o'clock, the remains, having been
enclosed in a plain panelled elm coffin, were removed to the village
church, where they were lying in state during the day. The body was
carried by half-a-dozen old retainers of the family to a bier on wheels,
on which it was taken to the church, over the lawn, following the
private path Mr. Gladstone used to tread on his way to church, and past
the favorite nooks of the deceased in the park. The family--excepting
Mrs. Gladstone, who came later, tenants, servants, friends, local
officials and neighbors followed in procession, Thousands of people were
arriving by public and private conveyances at Hawarden. At eleven
o'clock the doors of the church were opened, when men, women and
children, from all the surrounding country, and even tourists from
abroad, entered to view the remains. All day long a constant stream of
people poured into the church, while the streets were filled with people
unable to gain admittance. Several ladies fainted from excess of emotion
when passing the bier, and many men and women dropped on their knees and
At 6 o'clock in the evening the body was removed from Hawarden Church
and carried to the station for the journey to London. The procession to
bear the remains was composed of the family, representatives of
organizations, friends and neighbors. Vast crowds lined the route, afoot
and in every kind of vehicle. The cortege stopped at the entrance to the
Park--Hawarden Lodge, and sang one of Mr. Gladstone's favorite hymns.
Again, when the procession reached the Castle, it paused at the entrance
and sang another hymn loved by the late resident of the house, and went
on its way to Broughton Hall Station. Every step of the way, after
leaving the park, was again lined with sympathetic spectators. While at
the station the spectacle was remarkable for the surrounding crush of
human beings. A special train was provided for the body and the family.
As the body of Mr. Gladstone was placed upon the funeral car the sorrow
of the people was manifest. The representatives of the Earl Marshall, of
England, took possession of the funeral at this point. Henry and Herbert
Gladstone accompanied the body to London and Mrs. Gladstone and family
returned to the castle to follow later.
All along the route to London grief-stricken people were standing to
view the funeral train as it passed at Chester, Crewe, Rugby, Stafford
and Farnworth until the darkness and lateness of the night shut out
When the train reached London and passed to Westminster, it was early in
the morning. A group of some thirty gentlemen, connected with the
ceremonies, was at the station; among them the Duke of Norfolk, About
two hundred people looked silently on while the body was removed from
the train to the hearse, and the funeral cortege moved on to Westminster
Hall at once and entered the Palace Yard just as "Big Ben" tolled the
hour of one like a funeral knell.
The coffin was placed in position for lying in state in Westminster
Hall, and at about 3 o'clock Canon Wilberforce conducted a special
service in the presence of Henry and Herbert Gladstone and several
members of the House of Commons.
The scenes that followed were remarkably impressive and unparalleled.
The people began to arrive at Westminster at 2 o'clock in the morning.
The line formed was continually augmented by all classes of
people,--peers, peeresses, cabinet members, members of the House of
Commons, military and naval officers, clergymen, costermongers, old and
young, until 6 o'clock, when the doors were opened and the procession
commenced to stream into the Hall, and passed the catafalque.
This long procession of mourners continued all day Thursday and Friday.
Two hundred thousand people, at least, paid homage to the dead
statesman. On Friday evening, after the crowd had departed, large
delegations, representing Liberal organizations from all parts of the
kingdom, visited the Hall, by special arrangement, and fifteen hundred
of them paid respect to the memory of their late leader.
Saturday morning, May 28, thousands of people assembled in the square
outside to witness the passage of the funeral cortege from Westminster
Hall, where it was formed, to the Abbey, to find sepulchre in the tomb
of kings. The procession passed through two lines of policemen. It was
not a military parade, with all its pomp, but a ceremony made glorious
by the homage of the people, among them the greatest of the nation. The
funeral was in every respect impressive, dignified and lofty, in every
way worthy the great civilian, and the nation that accorded him a
public burial with its greatest dead. And the people were there. Every
spot on which the eye rested swarmed with human beings. They looked from
the windows of the hospital, and from the roofs of houses. Everybody was
dressed in black.
The principal officials had assembled in Westminster Hall at 10 o'clock.
The Bishop of London, the Right Rev. Mandell Creighton, D.D., read a
brief prayer and at 10.30 o'clock the procession had formed and slowly
passed through the crowds who with uncovered heads stood on either side
of short pathway, a distance 300 yards, to the western entrance of the
Abbey, between two ranks of the Eton Volunteers, the boys of the school
where Mr. Gladstone received his early education, in their
The pall-bearers who walked on each side of the coffin were perhaps the
personages who attracted the most attention during the day. They were
the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, the Marquis of Salisbury, the
Earl of Kimberly, A. J. Balfour, Sir William Vernon-Harcourt, the Duke
of Rutland, Lord Rosebery, Baron Rendel and George Armitstead, the two
latter being life-long friends of the deceased statesman.
When Mrs. Gladstone entered the Abbey the whole assembly rose and
remained standing until she was seated. This honor was accorded only
once beside--when the Princess of Wales, the Princess Mary and the
Duchess of York appeared.
The Abbey was filled with people. Every gallery, balcony and niche high
up among the rafters held a cluster of deeply interested spectators.
Temporary galleries had been erected in long tiers around the open
grave, which was in the floor of the Abbey. There were 2,500 persons
assembled in the Abbey, all--both men and women--clothed in black,
except a few officials whose regalia relieved this sombre background by
its brilliancy. The two Houses of Parliament sat facing each other,
seated on temporary seats on opposite sides of the grave. About them
were the mayors of the principal cities, delegates from Liberal
organizations, representatives of other civic and political societies,
representatives of the Non-Conformists, while the long nave was crowded
with thousands of men and women, among them being most of the
celebrities in all branches of English life. In each gallery was a
presiding officer with his official mace beside him, whose place was in
the centre, and who was its most prominent figure. It was a
distinguished assembly in a famous place. Beneath were the illustrious
dead; around were the illustrious living.
The members of the bereaved family sat in the stall nearest the
bier--Mrs. Gladstone, her sons Henry, Herbert and Stephen; with other
members of the family, children and grand-children, including little
Dorothy Drew, Mr. Gladstone's favorite grand-child, in her new mourning.
The Princess of Wales and the Duchess of York occupied the Dean's pew
opposite. Other royalties were present in person or by their
Within the chancel stood the Dean of Westminster, and behind him were
gathered the cathedral clergy, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the
scarlet and white surpliced choir, filling the chapel.
It was the wish of the deceased for simplicity, but he was buried with a
nation's homage in the tomb of kings. In the northern transept, known as
the "Statesmen's Corner", of Westminster Abbey, where England's greatest
dead rests, the body of Mr. Gladstone was entombed. His grave is near
the graves of Pitt, Palmerston, Canning and Peel, beside that of his
life-long political adversary, Lord Beaconsfield (Benjamin Disraeli),
whose marble effigy looks down upon it, decked with the regalia Mr.
Gladstone had so often refused. Two possible future kings of Great
Britain walked besides the great commoner's coffin and stood beside his
grave, and all the nobility and learning of the nation surrounded his
bier. This state funeral, the first since that of Lord Palmerston, was
rendered more imposing by the magnificence of the edifice in which it
was solemnized. The coffin rested on an elevated bier before the altar,
its plainness hidden beneath a pall of white-and gold embroidered cloth.
A choir of one hundred male singers, which had awaited the coffin at the
entrance to the Abbey, preceded it along the nave, chanting, "I am the
Resurrection and the Life." When the coffin was laid on the bier,
Purcell's funeral chant, "Lord, Thou Hast Been Our Refuge," was sung,
and Dean Bradley and the whole assemblage sang, "Rock of Ages," and then
while the coffin was being borne along the aisle to the grave, sang Mr.
Gladstone's favorite hymn, "Praise to the Holiest in the Height."
The choir of Westminster Abbey is said to be fine at any time, but for
this great occasion special arrangements had been made, and there was a
recruiting of the best voices from several of the choirs of London, and
many musical instruments beside. The result was to win general praise
for the beauty, harmony and perfection of the music. The weird, dismal
strains of a quartette of trombones, in a recess far above the heads of
the congregation, playing the three splendid "Equali," Beethoven's
funeral hymn, swept through the vaulted roof of the Abbey, in pure tones
never to be forgotten. When these ceased and finally died away, the
great organ and a band of brass instruments took up Schubert's funeral
march, booming sonorously; and changed to Beethoven's funeral march with
a clash of cymbals in the orchestral accompaniment. A third march being
required, owing to the time needed by the procession to reach the Abbey,
"Marche Solennelle" was played.
The choir, and a large number of bishops and other clergy, joined the
procession at the west door and together they all proceeded to
There was no sermon. The service was simple and solemn. The final paean
of victory over death and the grave from Paul's great epistle was read,
and the last hymn sung was, "Oh God! Our Help in Ages Past." The dean
read the appointed appropriate service, committing the body to the
earth, and then the Archbishop of Canterbury, in a loud voice,
pronounced the benediction. The family and others near the grave kneeled
during the concluding ceremonies, and then Mrs. Gladstone was helped
from her knees to her unoccupied chair at the head of the grave.
After the benediction came one of the saddest moments of the day. Mrs.
Gladstone stood, with great courage and composure, throughout the
service, supported on the arms of her two sons, Herbert and Stephen, and
with other members of her family near the grave. Her face was lifted
upward, and her lips were moving as though repeating the lines of the
service. She also kept standing during the one official feature of the
service; "The Proclamation by Garter, by Norroy, King of Arms, of the
Style of the Deceased," as the official programme had it, and in which
the various offices which Mr. Gladstone had held in his lifetime, were
enumerated. Then, when the final word was spoken, the widow, still
supported by her sons, approached the edge of the grave and there took a
last, long look and was conducted away. Other relatives followed, and
then most of the members of Parliament. Finally the Prince of Wales, the
Duke of York and other pall-bearers defiled past the grave, took a last
view of the coffin in the deep grave, and when they had been escorted
down the nave to entrance, the people slowly departed.
The "Dead March" from "Saul" and the "Marche Solennelle" of Schubert
was played as the congregation slowly wended its way out of the
Perhaps the most solemn function of all, witnessed by none but the
Gladstone family and the officials, was when the casket was opened
shortly after midnight on Thursday to allow the Earl Marshal to verify
with his own eyes that it really contained the remains of the dead
statesman. It was said that the old man's face, seen for the last time
by the Duke of Norfolk, who is responsible to England for his sacred
charge, was more peaceful and younger looking than it had seemed for
years. At the very last moment a small gold Armenian cross, a memento of
that nation for which the great statesman worked so zealously, was
placed by his side. Then all was sealed.
As the deceased statesman was undoubtedly the greatest parliamentarian
of our time, the following concise expressions with regard to his
character and influence have been collected from a number of
representative members of different political parties in both Houses of
The Marquis of Londonderry said: "What impressed me about Mr. Gladstone
was his extraordinary moral influence."
Lord George Hamilton: "I doubt whether we ever had a parliamentarian who
equalled Mr. Gladstone."
The Marquis of Lorne: "I share the universal regret at Mr. Gladstone's
death as a personal loss."
Sir John Gorst: "One feature, which greatly distinguished Mr. Gladstone,
was his remarkable candour in debate. He never affected to misunderstand
his opponents' arguments, and spared no pains in trying to make his own
Sir Charles Dilke: "I think Mr. Gladstone's leading personal
characteristic was his old-fashioned courtesy. Whilst a statesman, his
absolute mastery of finance, both in its principles and details, was
incomparably superior to that of any of his contemporaries."
Mr. Thomas Ellis, the chief Liberal Whip, confessed that the greatest
interest of his life in Parliament was to watch Mr. Gladstone's face.
"It was like the sea in the fascination of its infinite variety, and of
its incalculable reserve and strength. Every motion in his great soul
was reflected in his face and form. To have had opportunities of
watching that face, and of witnessing one triumph after another, is a
precious privilege, for some of the charms of his face, as of his
oratory and character, were incommunicable. He more than any man helped
to build up and shape the present commercial and political fabric of
Britain, but to struggling nations his words and deeds were as the
breath of life."
Sir Joseph Pease: "His memory will be kept green by a grateful country.
Death soon buries the battle-axe of party, and he who devoted a long
life and immense intellectual power, coupled with strong convictions on
moral and Christian ethics, to the well being of his country and the
world, will never be forgotten by the English people."
Mr. James Bryce, author of "The American Commonwealth": "This sad event
is the most noble and pathetic closing of a great life which we have
seen in England in historical memory. I cannot recall any other case in
which the whole nation has followed the setting of the sun of life with
such sympathy, such regret, and such admiration."
Lord Kinnaird: "Few men in public life have been able to draw out such
personal love and devotion from his followers and friends. In the midst
of an ever-busy life he was always ready to take his part in the
conflict of right against wrong, of truth against error, and he earned
the gratitude of all patriots, for he was never ashamed of contending
that no true progress could be made which left out of sight the moral
well-being of the people."
Mr. Labouchere: "What impressed me most in Mr. Gladstone was his power
of concentrated effort. Once he had decided on a course, action at once
followed. Every thought was bent to attain the end, no labour was deemed
to arduous. He alone knew how to deal with supporters and opponents. The
former he inspired with his own fierce energy."
Mr. John Redmond, leader of the Parnellite group of the Irish
Nationalists: "The loss to England is absolutely incalculable. I regard
Mr. Gladstone as having been the greatest parliamentarian of the age,
and the greatest parliamentary orator. Englishmen of all parties ought
to be grateful to him for his services in promoting the greatness and
prosperity of their empire."
John Dillon: "The greatest and most patriotic of Englishmen. If I were
asked to say what I think most characteristic of Gladstone, I should say
his abiding love for the common people and his faith in the government
founded upon them, so that, while he remained the most patriotic of
Englishmen, he is to-day mourned with equal intensity throughout the
Justin McCarthy, M. P.: "The death of Mr. Gladstone closes a career
which may be described as absolutely unique in English political
history. It was the career of a great statesman, whose statesmanship was
first and last inspired, informed and guided by conscience, by
principle, and by love of justice. There were great English statesmen
before Mr. Gladstone's time and during Mr. Gladstone's time, but we
shall look in vain for an example of any statesman in office, who made
genius and eloquence, as Mr. Gladstone did, the mere servants of
righteousness and conscientious purpose. Into the mind of Gladstone no
thought of personal ambition or personal advancement ever entered. He
was as conscientious as Burke. In the brilliancy of his gifts he was at
least the equal of Bolingbroke. He was as great an orator as either
Pitt, and he has left the imprint of his intellect on beneficent
political and social legislation. In eloquence he far surpassed Cobden
and was the peer of Bright, while his position as Parliamentary leader
enabled him to initiate and carry out measures of reform which Bright
and Cobden could only support. He was, in short, the greatest and the
best Prime Minister known to English history."
Michael Davitt: "One can only join with the whole world in admiration of
the almost boundless talents of Mr. Gladstone, which were devoted with
unparalleled power of charm to the service of his fellow-men. He was
probably the greatest British statesman and leaves behind a record of a
career unequalled in the annals of English politics. For the magnitude
of his national labors and integrity of his personal character, Irishmen
will remember him gratefully."
The _Daily Chronicle_ heads its editorial with a quotation from
"This is the happy warrior: this is he:
That every man in arms should wish to be."
The editorial says: "A glorious light has been extinguished in the land;
all his life lies in the past, a memory to us and our children; an
inspiration and possession forever. The end has come as to a soldier at
his post. It found him calm, expectant, faithful, unshaken. Death has
come robed in the terrors of mortal pain; but what better can be said
than that as he taught his fellows how to live, so he has taught them
how to die?
"It is impossible at this hour to survey the mighty range of this
splendid life. We would assign to him the title. 'The Great Nationalist
of the Nineteenth Century;' the greatest of the master-builders of
modern England. Timidity had no place in Mr. Gladstone's soul. Ho was a
lion among men, endowed with a granite strength of will and purpose,
rare indeed in our age of feeble convictions."
The _Daily News_ says: "One of his most characteristics qualities was
his personal humility. This cannot be explained without the key, for Mr.
Gladstone did not in the ordinary meaning of the word, underrate
himself. He was not easy to persuade. He paid little attention to other
people's opinions when his mind was made up. He was quite aware of his
own ascendency in counsel and his supremacy in debate. The secret of his
humility was an abiding sense that these things were of no importance
compared with the relations between God's creatures and their Creator,
Mr. Gladstone once said with characteristic candour that he had a
vulnerable temper. He was quickly moved to indignation by whatever he
thought injurious either to himself or to others, and was incapable of
concealing his emotions, for, if he said nothing, his countenance showed
what he felt. More expressive features were never given to man.
"Mr. Gladstone's exquisite courtesy, which in and out of Parliament was
the model for all, proceeded from the same source. It was essentially
Christian. Moreover, nobody laughed more heartily over an anecdote that
was really good. He was many men in one; but he impressed all alike with
the essential greatness of his character.
"He was built mentally and morally on a large scale. Of course it cannot
be denied that such a face, such a voice, such natural dignity, and such
perfect gesture produced in themselves an immense effect. There was
nothing common-place about him. Mr. Gladstone was absolutely simple; and
his simplicity was not the least attractive element of his fascinating
"His life presented aspects of charm to all minds. His learning
captivated the scholar, his eloquence and statesmanship the politician,
his financial genius the business man; while his domestic relations and
simple human graciousness appealed to all hearts.
"'There is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel.'"
_Public Ledger_, Philadelphia: "To write Gladstone's career is to write
the history of the Victorian era and that of the closing years of the
reign of William IV, for Gladstone took his seat in Parliament for the
first time in 1832, two years after he was out of college, and
Victoria's accession took place in 1837. Since that remote day Gladstone
has been four times Premier; has delivered numberless speeches of the
highest order of excellence; has published a multitude of pamphlets and
volumes which attest consummate intellectual gifts, and has been a great
force in English statesmanship and scholarship through an exceptionally
long life and almost to the very close of it. It has been given to
exceedingly few men to play so great, so transcendent a role in any
country or at any time."
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