Mr. Gladstone as a statesman has done several notable things at home and abroad.
He has contributed, more than any single man with a pen and a voice has done, to create Italy and to destroy the dominion of the Turk in Europe. As Prime Minister or Plenipotentiary, he has enlarged Greece, transferred Corfu, and established British influence in Egypt. He has familiarised the public with the idea of the European concert, not merely for debate but for action, and has maintained in times of the greatest storm and stress that Russia was not outside the pale of human civilisation or of Liberal sympathy. In Imperial politics he has constantly condemned the strong creed of the swashbuckler. He has annexed New Guinea, North Borneo, and Bechuanaland, but he has sedulously condemned every extension of the empire that was not forced upon us by inexorable necessity. He has cleared out of Afghanistan and retreated from the Transvaal. He established the great precedent of the Alabama arbitration, and was the first British statesman to recognise that in the future the United States will supersede Great Britain as the most powerful of the English-speaking communities. If he has not exactly belittled the Colonies, he has never cracked them up, and he has always and everywhere preached the doctrine of allowing them to go their own way. He is a housekeeping Scot, whose sympathies have never really strayed far beyond these islands except in the case of those nations struggling and rightly struggling to be free.
At home his chief exploits have been the reform of the tariff, the establishment of Free Trade, and the repeal of the paper duty. He was the real author of the extension of the franchise to the workmen of the towns, and the actual author of the enfranchisement of the rural house holder. He established secret voting, and agreed to give effect to the Tory demand for single-member constituencies. It was in his administration that the first Education Act was passed, and that purchase in the Army was abolished. He has done his share in the liberation of labour from the Combination Laws, in the emancipation of the Jews, and in the repeal of University Tests. He first taught the democracy, by the great object lesson of his Irish Land Act, that the so-called cast-iron laws of political economy could be banished to Saturn, and that the whole power and resources of the Imperial State could be employed to set poor men up in business on their own account. He was the first to disestablish and disendow a National Church, and to compel the British public to consider the feasibility of establishing subordinate and statutory parliaments within the British Isles. Over and above all else he, the scholar, the statesman, and the Nestor of Parliamentary tradition, was the first to bring the most difficult and delicate questions of foreign policy to the rude but decisive test of the mass meeting, and transferred the motive force of the British State from Parliament to the platform.
That is a brief enumeration of some of the measures with which his name will be associated.
HIS PLACE IN HISTORY.
A nobleman, a scholar, and a great personal friend of Mr. Gladstone wrote in 1887 the following comparative study of his place in history:—"Among the great English statesmen whose figures will loom large through the dusk of departed centuries William Ewart Gladstone will occupy a leading place. Chatham could inspire a nation with his energy, but compared with Gladstone he was poorly furnished both with knowledge and ideas. Fox, who probably most resembles him as a debater, had never an opportunity of proving in office whether he possessed any talents for administration. Pitt, as the strongest Minister who probably ever directed the destinies of his country, has left no monument of legislation by which he can be remembered. Canning was a Foreign Minister, and nothing else. Sir Robert Peel, whom Mr. Gladstone recognises as his master, although an estimable administrator, a useful debater, and a competent tactician, never showed any trace of the divine spark of genius which reveals itself at every turn in Mr. Gladstone's character. It would perhaps be too much to say that posterity will regard him as uniting the highest merits of all his predecessors without their drawbacks. But he alone combines the eloquence of Fox, the experience of Chatham, the courage of Pitt, with the financial and administrative capacity of Sir Robert Peel, and combines all those qualities with a many-sided catholicity of mind to which none of the others could lay claim.
HIS FOREIGN CONTEMPORARIES.
"If we extend the comparison to Mr. Gladstone's foreign contemporaries, his great position is hardly less conspicuous. Among the statesmen of our century it would be unfair to compare him with Bismarck, who belongs to a different order of ideas, and whose life has been passed outside the atmosphere of Constitutions and Parliaments. Cavour, Thiers, and Guizot are men with whom Mr. Gladstone can be compared either for the work which they accomplished, the speeches which they made, or for width and subtlety of mind, but none of them, not even excepting Cavour, will figure so prominently in the history of our times. More than any single Englishman Mr. Gladstone's influence has been operative in Europe. It was he whose fateful word brought down the avalanche of the revolution upon the decrepit Bourbons of Italy. It was the lightning of his speech which dealt the deathblow to Turkish dominion in the Balkan Peninsula, and it was his action which equally in matters of arbitration, of the European concert, and of foreign policy generally, first familiarized the mind of mankind with the conception of statesmanship based on moral principle as opposed to the mere expediencies of self-interest.
A LINK BETWEEN TWO ERAS.
"Commanding as is Mr. Gladstone's position among English and foreign statesmen for the quality of his work, it is no less remarkable for the length of his public life and the wide range of his public action. Full of energy as an octogenarian, he was already in the thick of the fight when most of those who read these lines were in their cradles. His career bridges the gulf which would otherwise yawn between the Oxford of Manning and Newman and Liddon, and the democracy which Mr. Chamberlain himself now finds too advanced. He is the link between the old order and the new, standing, as it were, between the living and the dead—the living democracy of the future, and the dying castes and hierarchies of the past. A buoyant confidence in the progressive development of the destinies of mankind is so rarely combined with a reverent and grateful appreciation of the traditions and institutions of the past that this alone will suffice to distinguish Mr. Gladstone in the great muster-roll of English statesmen."
GLADSTONE AND BURKE.
Some years ago the Rev. Canon MacColl, in course of conversation with a distinguished public man, of moderate Conservative opinions, remarked that if he had to write a history of British statesmanship he would put Burke first and Gladstone second. "Would you?" said his friend, "I would put Gladstone first and Burke second. You are right in bracketing them. They have more in common than any other two statesmen that can be named. They are alike in their hold of first principles, in the philosophic and theological vein which runs through their politics, in the passion and fervour of their advocacy, in the range and variety of their knowledge, in the genuine consistency which underlies all superficial inconsistencies. But Gladstone is superior to Burke as an orator and debater. He is equally at home and equally effective in addressing the House of Commons, an academic assembly, a religious meeting, or an ignorant multitude. Burke's speeches are splendid to read, but the finest of them all — that on American taxation—emptied the House of Commons. And who can imagine Gladstone breaking down in addressing a crowd of undergraduates, as Burke did in his rectorial address to the students of Glasgow University? Gladstone is also superior to Burke in his large grasp of principles, combined with extraordinary skill in the management of details. Burke could not have kept up the attention and interest of the House of Commons for hours as he led them through a wilderness of financial figures."
HIS GOOD WORK IN ITALY AND THE EAST.
No British Minister since Canning, said the Rev. Canon Malcolm MacColl, has left such wide and lasting influence on foreign affairs as Mr. Gladstone. There is not an Italian who does not regard him, next to Cavour, as the most potent factor in the unification of Italy. It happened to a British traveller in Rome in the spring of 1874 to breakfast with a Roman Cardinal and dine with some Italian statesman (Minghetti was then Premier) on the same day. "We rejoice," said the Cardinal, at Gladstone's downfall. Next to Cavour, if next, he is the founder of the Italian kingdom. His pamphlet, more than any other cause, destroyed the kingdom of the Two Sicilies, and opened the floodgates of revolution which has robbed the Pope of his patrimony and temporal power." "We grieve," said an Italian Minister in the evening," over Mr. Gladstone's expulsion from office; for next to Cavour we are indebted to him for the liberation of Italy." In Greece, too, and in Roumania, Bulgaria, and the European provinces of Turkey, it is Mr. Gladstone's policy that has prevailed. And, curiously enough, it was as a supporter of Mr. Gladstone that Lord Salisbury made his first important speech on foreign policy. The occasion was Mr. Gladstone's motion (in 1858) in favour of the union of the Roumanian Principalities. Lord Palmerston and Mr. Disraeli joined their forces against him, arguing that a united Roumania would inevitably become a Russian province. "If you want a bulwark against despotism," said Mr. Gladstone in reply, "there is no rampart like the breasts of free men." The sentiment was ridiculed at the time by the Palmerstonian school of foreign policy. Who ridicules it now?
A CURIOUS JUDGMENT.
We have all grown so accustomed to regard Mr. Gladstone as the "Past Master" in the art of rousing the populace and awakening the enthusiasm of the masses, that it requires an effort of memory to recall the fact that twenty years ago shrewd observers were inclined to doubt Mr. Gladstone's ability to take a first place in English politics, owing to his alleged lack of the very qualities which now pre-eminently distinguish him. It is said of Sir James Stephen that he one day remarked to Lord Blatchford, at a time when Mr. Gladstone was Chancellor of the Exchequer in Lord Palmerston's Government, that "Gladstone would never be able to fill the place of his chief, inasmuch as he was deficient in that pugnacity which is necessary to rouse popular enthusiasm." This, however, is but characteristic of much else. The Dictator Gladstone of to-day is an altogether different person from the financial Gladstone who made marvellous budgets twenty or thirty years ago. It was not until 1866, after his famous declaration about the franchise and our own flesh and blood, that he began to develop those gifts which have since made him supreme ruler of the empire.
MR. GLADSTONE'S MAGNANIMITY.
It has always been the rule among our public men—long may it last!—to exclude political antagonism from the sphere of private life. Nobody is more ready than Mr. Gladstone to defend in private a political opponent with whom he may have been a few hours before in hot conflict. He has always maintained, for example, that Lord Beaconsfield was a man devoid of personal animosities, and he has often in private expressed his admiration for his devotion to his wife, his loyalty to his race, and "his splendid parliamentary pluck."
The moment he heard of his great rival's death he telegraphed to Lord Rowton an offer of a public funeral. Once when Lord Salisbury was somewhat violently attacked in his presence, Mr. Gladstone said: "I do not believe that Salisbury is at all governed by political ambition. I believe him to be perfrectly honest, and I can never think very unkindly of him since the day I first saw him, a bright boy in red petticoats, playing with his mother.
HIS CHURCH PATRONAGE.
There has probably never been so laboriously conscientious a distributor of ecclesiastical Crown patronage as Mr. Gladstone. In his ecclesiastical appointments he never took politics into consideration. A conspicuous instance of this may be mentioned. When it was rumoured that he intended to recommend Dr. Benson, the present Arch-bishop, for the vacant See of Canterbury, a political supporter called to remonstrate with him. Mr. Gladstone begged to know the ground of his objection. "The Bishop of Truro is a strong Tory," was the answer; "but that is not all. He has joined Mr. Raikes's election committee at Cambridge: and it was only last week that Raikes made a violent personal attack upon yourself."
"Do you know," replied Mr. Gladstone, "that you have just supplied me with a strong argument in Dr. Benson's favour? for, if he had been a worldly man or self-seeker, he would not have done anything so imprudent."
A NONCONFORMIST IDOL.
Although he sympathised more or less with the Nonconformists, who were struggling against the application of university tests and other disabilities, it was not until 1876 that he really discovered the true religious worth of the English Nonconformists. The way in which the Congregationalists, Baptists, Quakers, and Unitarians rallied to the standard raised in the cause of the Bulgarian nationality effected a great change in the attitude of his mind in relation to his Dissenting fellow-countrymen. He entertained the leading Nonconformist ministers at breakfast, and the fidelity and devotion of Nonconformists generally to the Bulgarian cause left on his mind an impression which has only deepened with the lapse of time. The extent to which this influences him may be gathered from the reply which he made to Dr. Dollinger whilst that learned divine was discussing with him the question of Church and State. Dr. Döllinger was expressing his surprise that Mr. Gladstone could possibly coquet in any way with the party that demanded the severance of Church and State in either Wales or Scotland. It was to him quite incomprehensible that a statesman who held so profoundly the idea of the importance of religion could make his own a cause whose avowed object was to cut asunder the Church from the State. Mr. Gladstone listened attentively to Dr Döllinger's remarks, and then, in an absent kind of way, said, "But you forget how nobly the Nonconformists supported me at the time of the Eastern Question." The blank look of amazement on Dr. Döllinger's face showed the wide difference between the standpoint of the politician and the ecclesiastic.
HIS RESPECT FOR THE NONCONFORMIST CONSCIENCE.
Mr. Gladstone never displayed more respect for the Nonconformists than when in deference to their earnest representation he risked the great split in the Home Rule ranks that followed his repudiation of Mr. Parnell. Mr. Gladstone's action in that affair is too recent to need recapitulation here. Mr. Gladstone never made the slightest pretence about the matter. If the Nonconformists had been as passive as the Churchmen, tho famous letter about the Irish leadership would never have been written. He merely acted, as he himself stated, as the registrar of the moral temperature which made Mr. Parnell impossible. He knew the men who are the Ironsides of his party too well not to understand that if he had remained silent the English Home Rulers would have practically ceased to exist. He saw the need, rose to the occasion and cleared the obstacle which would otherwise have been a fatal impediment to the success of his course. Mr. Gladstone is a practical statesman, and with sure instinct divined the inevitable.
V.—AT WORK AND AT PLAY.
Mr. Gladstone is one of the most unwearying of workers. Whether at work or at play he is always on the go. The coil of that tremendous energy never seems to run down. He is always doing something or other, and even when he is talking he is acting, using every muscle of the body to express and emphasise his ideas.
HIS FACULTY OF ORDER.
Mr. Gladstone is singularly free from one great defect of his qualities. Most men who possess the keenness of intellect and the activity of mind which distinguish him would have so many irons in the fire that they would be perpetually in confusion. The instinct of order is easily crushed beneath the enormous multiplicity of ever-increasing interests. To the man who has only one or two things to think about there is no difficulty in being orderly and methodical, but when a person is thinking about everything, and hardly an hour passes that does not supply fresh food for reflection, or utter a clamorous
ernand for activity, then, indeed, the instinct of order needs to be very strongly developed if everything does not tall into inextricable confusion. With Mr. Gladstone the principle of order is sufficiently strong to hold its own against the inrush of all the teeming ideas and unending duties which crowd upon him from every quarter. No person is more neat and methodical, and throughout the whole of his ministerial career he has always left his papers and his Department in apple-pie order. It was the same thing in his private affairs. He undertook the management of the Glynne estate, which had fallen into considerable confusion—his father-in-law not having been in any sense a man of business—and soon reduced that chaos to order. As Chancellor of the Exchequer, and in every department of State in which he has had anything to do, he has left behind him a tradition for order, simplicity, and regularity.
NOT SHARED BY HIS WIFE.
Mrs. Gladstone, although in many respects an ideal wife, was never able to approach her husband in the methodical and business-like arrangement of her affairs. Shortly after their wedding the story runs that Mr. Gladstone seriously took in hand the tuition of his handsome young wife in bookkeeping, and Mrs. Gladstone applied herself with diligence to the unwelcome task. Some time after she came down in triumph to her husband to display her domestic accounts and her correspondence, all docketed in a fashion which she supposed would excite the admiration of her husband. Mr. Gladstone cast his eye over the results of his wife's labour, and exclaimed in despair, ''You have done them all wrong from beginning to end!'' His wife, however, has been so invaluable a helpmeet in other ways that it seems somewhat invidious to recall that little incident. She had other work to do, and she wisely left the accounts to her husband and his private secretaries.
HIS PRIVATE SECRETARIES.
Mr. Gladstone reduced to perfection the science of getting a maximum of work out of his private secretaries. When Prime Minister, Mr. Gladstone kept three private secretaries constantly going, and the whole business of the office went with the precision and regularity of a machine. The two chief features of Mr. Gladstone's system were—first, that everything passed through Downing Street, and that all papers were kept there: and, secondly, that his chief secretary was informed of everything that was going. The first essential of a private secretary is to have plenty of pigeon-holes, and Mr. Gladstone used to keep six nests of pigeon-holes constantly going. One, for instance, was set apart for all letters relating to the Church and to questions of preferment, a matter which gave Mr. Gladstone an infinitely greater amount of trouble than any one outside the inner circle could conceive. Four of the other nests were appropriated to special subjects, while the sixth was set aside as a kind of general rubbish-heap, into which all letters of a rubbishy description were summarily consigned.
MR. GLADSTONE'S LETTERS.
All Mr. Gladstone's own letters were copied. If Mr. Gladstone wrote a letter from the House of Commons to Lord Granville in the House of Lords, it would be sent round to Downing Street before it was delivered, and where it would be copied, so that Mr. Gladstone's biographers, when the time comes for writing his biography, will find several volumes of his correspondence carefully copied out in a legible hand in strict chronological order, and the whole carefully indexed. His secretaries' letters were seldom copied, the only record kept of the latter being Mr. Gladstones memorandum of instructions on the docket. Bubbly letters were taken to him once a week by the secretary with an endorsement showing how they had been answered. By this means Mr. Gladstone is able to go through hundreds of letters in a quarter of an hour. In addition to the six nests of pigeon-holes which were kept going from day to day there were series of historical pigeon-holes which were fed from the others by a system of periodical weedings, but so carefully has the system been elaborated that Mr. Gladstone could at any moment lay his hand on any paper that had come before him at any time since first he entered office. Therein Mr. Gladstone differs very much from the late Mr. Forster, whose papers were often in confusion, and who would have been hopelessly involved in a maze of difficulties if he had ever attempted to get through one-half the work which Mr. Gladstone performs with hardly an effort.
A TERRIBLE MEMORY.
All the elaborate apparatus of pigeon-holes would have been useless had it not been combined with a phenomenally retentive memory. Mr. Gladstone not only remembers everything, but also knows where every fact can be verified. The whole of his facts are carefully tabulated and drawn up ready for instant mobilization, and although he has forgotten probably more than all his colleagues have ever learned, he still possesses a store of accurate and detailed information concerning almost every conceivable subject to which none of them can lay claim. It is this terrible memory of his, and not any over-bearing imperiousness of manner, which makes him so absolute in his own Cabinet. Woe be to the luckless Minister who in Cabinet ventures to suggest to Mr. Gladstone that Sir Robert Peel or any one else has laid down a precedent which does not fit with the course which Mr. Gladstone is bent upon adopting. In his blandest tones Mr. Gladstone will remark that he thinks his colleague is slightly mistaken, inasmuch as he remembers discussing the very matter with Sir Robert Peel; then he illustrates the discussion by some little incident which shows the precedent invoked to have had an altogether different meaning to that attached to it. If his colleague still persists, Mr. Gladstone will pencil a note to his private secretary, asking him to produce at once a written memorandum of the conversation in question which he will find in such and such a pigeon-hole of such and such a year, and in five minutes the memorandum is to hand, completely bearing out in every particular Mr. Gladstone's version of the case, and utterly discomfiting the Minister who has ventured to contend with "the man with the terrible memory." One such experience is sufficient to fill his colleagues with an awe which they are unable to shake off. Mr. Chamberlain is not a timid man, and he stood to his guns fairly well in his first Cabinet; but he could never shake off the dread with which Mr. Gladstone's eagle eye and superhuman memory inspire all those who have ventured to cross swords with him in debate.
AN ECONOMIST OF MOMENTS.
No one believes more than Mr. Gladstone in taking care of the odds and ends and fringes of time. The amount of correspondence that he gets through in the odd fragments of leisure which would otherwise pass unutilized exceeds the total correspondence of most of his contemporaries. Lord Granville's correspondence, for instance, used to be comfortably got through by his private secretary in a single hour. Mr. Gladstone does a great deal of his own correspondence, and his autograph is probably more familiar than is that of any English statesman. He did a great deal to popularise the postcard, for no one could appreciate more than he the advantage of that economiser of time and abbreviator of formality. The little pad on which he could be seen writing on his knee during his term of office in the House of Commons, enabled him to work off a mass of correspondence, which most men in his position would have regarded as wholly impossible.
Another enormous advantage which Mr. Gladstone possesses for the despatch of business is that he is capable of entirely changing the current of thought. Nothing preoccupies him longer than he chooses to allow it to preoccupy him. His head seems to be built in water-tight compartments, and after tiring the lobe of the brain which deals with Ireland he will turn off the tap for Irish affairs and plunge headlong into ecclesiasticism or ceramics or archaeology or any other subject in which he may at the moment be interested. "There are always so many interesting things," he said long ago, "with which to occupy your mind; the difficulty is only in making a choice." But whatever the subject is on which he is engaged, he devotes himself to it thoroughly, nor does any spectre of the preceding subject divert his attention from that in which he is actually engaged. Whatever he does he does with his might, and does it with such concentration as to leave no room for thinking about anything else.
WHY HE FELLS TREES.
But think about something he must, for a mind so active will never doze off into lethargy excepting when he is asleep, and it was this necessity for finding some means of gaining complete mental rest which led him to cultivate the felling of timber. In all other modes of exercise there is room for thinking; cricket, football, riding, driving—in almost all of these there are spells during which the mind can forget the immediate object and revert to the subject from which it is necessary to have a complete change. In chopping down a tree you have not time to think of anything excepting where your next stroke will fall. The whole attention is centred upon the blows of the axe, and as the chips fly this way and that Mr. Gladstone is as profoundly absorbed in laying the axe at the proper angle at the right cleft of the trunk as ever he was in replying to the leader of the Opposition in the course of a critical debate.
HIS CAPACITY FOR SLEEP.
Finally Mr. Gladstone possesses the enormous gift of being able to sleep. All his life long he has been a sound sleeper. It used to be said that he had a faculty which was possessed by Napoleon Bonaparte of commanding sleep at will, and what is still rarer of waking up instantly in full possession of every faculty. Some people can go to sleep soon, but they take some time to awake. Mr. Gladstone, it used to be said, was capable of sitting down in a chair, covering his face with a handkerchief, and going to sleep in thirty seconds; and after sleeping for thirty minutes or an hour as the case might be, waking up as bright as ever, all drowsiness disappearing the moment he opened his eyes. During all Mr. Gladstone's career he has never lost his sleep, excepting once, and that was during the troubles that arose about Egypt and General Gordon. Then he slept badly, and for the first time it was feared that he would not be able to maintain the burden of office. He never suffers himself to be cheated of sleep. "In the most exciting political crisis," he once told a visitor, "I dismiss current matters entirely iron my mind when I go to bed, and will not think of them till I get up in the morning. I told Bright this, and he said, 'That's all very well for you, but my way is the reverse. I think over all my speeches in bed.'" Seven hours' sleep is Mr. Gladstone's fixed allowance, "and," he added with a smile, "I should like to have eight. I hate getting up in the morning, and hate it the same every morning. But one can do everything by habit, and when I have had my seven hours' sleep my habit is to get up."
Sir Andrew Clark, who has been his physician for years, says that he has no more docile patient than Mr. Gladstone. The moment he is really laid up he goes to bed and remains there until he recovers. He is a great believer in the virtue of lying in bed when you are ill. You keep yourself at an equable temperature and avoid the worries and drudgery of everyday life, and being in bed is a perfectly good pretext for avoiding the visits of the multitude of people whose room is better than their company. Mr. Gladstone has enjoyed singularly good health from his youth upwards. Like Mrs. Gladstone, he has hardly had a day's illness since he was married. He has lost less time from ill-health than almost any prominent politician.
HOW HE GETS THROUGH HIS WORK.
Mr. Gladstone is a kind of steam-engine on two legs, with heart of fire and lungs of steel, pursuing his unhasting and unresting way at a pace which leaves all other men far behind. His distinguishing characteristics as a man of business are:—First, an instinct of order that is dominant. Secondly, an immense faculty for eliciting the best services which secretaries and adjuncts can render. Thirdly, a phenomenally retentive memory. Fourthly, an immense faculty for concentration, and for diverting his thoughts from any subject at will; and lastly, a great faculty for sleep. When in the country, he generally retires to rest at eleven o'clock and reappears about seven. Add to all this a constitution of steel, and a digestion that nothing seems to upset, and you have some explanation of the amount of work which Mr. Gladstone is able to get through in the course of a day.
HIS METHOD OF READING.
Mr. Gladstone usually has three books in reading at the same time, and changes from one to the other, when his mind has reached the limit of absorption. This is a necessary corrective to the tendency to think only of one thing at one time, which sometimes in politics leads him to neglect that all-round survey of the situation which is indispensable to a Prime Minister. He complains sometimes that his memory is no longer quite so good as it used to be, but although that may be true, it is still twice as good as anybody else's, for Mr. Gladstone has an extraordinary faculty of not only remembering those things he ought to remember, but for forgetting those things it is useless for him to remember. His mind is thus unencumbered with any unnecessary top-hamper, and he can always, so to speak, lay his hand upon anything the moment he wants it. This retentive memory was no doubt born with him, but it has been largely developed by the constant habit of taking pains. When he reads a book he does so pencil in hand, marking off on the margin those passages which he wishes to remember, querying those about which he is in doubt, and putting a cross opposite those which he disputes. At the end of a volume he constructs a kind of index of his own which enables him to refer to those things he wishes to remember in the book.
AS A TALKER.
He is probably the best talker now left to us. His astonishing vivacity makes him one of the most lively and interesting of companions, although sometimes his faculty for being interested in anything disappoints those who meet at his table; for his mind is very eager, and can centre itself upon the most trivial as upon the gravest object of human interest. At a breakfast at Downing Street some time ago, M. Chevallier, the French economist, and M. de Laveleye, and others, were invited to meet Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Bright. The conversation, by some unlucky twist, happened to turn upon chiropody. Mr. Bright is said to have started it by remarking that the charges of chiropodists were excessive. Mr. Gladstone accordingly joined in, and to the utter bewilderment of the foreign guests the whole of the conversation at that breakfast was devoted to a vehement discussion on the extraction of corns and the prices charged for the operation. M. Chevallier pricked up his ears when he first heard "corns," thinking he was about to hear some reflections as to the effect of the corn laws on agriculture, but the hope vanished as soon as it was raised: chiropody and chiropody alone remained supreme. The distinguished guests left, greatly marvelling at the kind of conversation to which they had been invited. On another occasion, on the eve of Lord Wolseley's departure for Egypt, Mr. Gladstone mortified his guests, who included Lord Wolseley, by talking obstinately about nothing but the best binding for books.
Although Mr. Gladstone is pre-eminently a talker in society, yet he does not disdain the other arts by which people who dine out contrive to spend the time. In his younger days he used to be quite noted for singing either solos or part-songs, and even down to the present time the musical bass of his voice is often heard to great advantage in family worship at Hawarden on Sunday nights. Whether he still keeps up the practice of singing in company is doubtful, but there are legends of the wonderful effect with which he was wont to render a favourite Scotch song, and irreverent gossips have even declared that on one occasion Mr. Gladstone brought down the drawing-room by the vivacity and rollicking spirit with which he rendered the well-known "Camptown Races" with its familiar refrain:—
Gwine to ride all night; Gwine to ride all day; I bet my money on the bob-tailed nag, And somebody bet on the bay. O doo-dah-dey.
His high spirits break out at every moment, and he used to rejoice to play a comedy part on his own or his son's lawn. It would be incorrect to say that on the occasion of popular celebrations, of local fancy fairs, and cottage gardening shows, Mr. Gladstone plays down to the level of his audience. On the contrary, he exhibits just sufficient sympathy to raise them to enthusiasm and no more.
HIS OUT-OF-DOOR AMUSEMENTS.
Of Mr. Gladstone's lieutenant, Mr. Morley, it may be said that he has no amusements whatever; he neither boats, nor rides, nor cuts down trees, nor, as one veracious chronicler asserted, does he spend his leisure time in catching butterflies. He indulges in none of the ordinary dissipations by which the statesman and the man of letters can unbend his bow. Mr. Gladstone, as might be expected, is more catholic in his tastes; but, except for woodcutting and pedestrianism, he can hardly be said to be much of an athlete. When at Eton he spent more time on the river than any other boy. He has played cricket and other games, but he has never thrown himself into them with that passion which is necessary for success, although one could imagine Mr. Gladstone being the champion cricketer of England, if he gave his mind to it, even now. But in out-of-door sports he prefers Shanks's pony to any other means, excepting the cutting down of trees, of amusing himself. He is a great pedestrian, and is able to distance almost any ordinary walker, although he is in his eighty-third year. Mrs. Gladstone is also a good pedestrian, and this summer they amused themselves one afternoon by ascending a hill some 3,000 feet above the sea-level without appearing to feel the exertion arduous. At indoor games Mr. Gladstone used to enjoy a rubber at whist, but he is now more devoted to backgammon, a game which he plays with the same concentration of energy and attention that he devotes to the preparation of a Budget or the course of a parliamentary debate. He occasionally plays at draughts, but is a very bad hand at the chequers. Constitutionally full of "clash" and "go," Mr. Gladstone is yet, like Mr. Bright, deficient in that sporting instinct supposed to be inherent in the Briton, and, if induced to be present at a foxhunt, would undoubtedly sympathise with the fox. He takes small account of Nimrod and his kind— he cares not to "witch the world with noble horsemanship;" nor is he a son of Nimshi, to affright the peaceable rustics by driving "furiously."
VI.— MR. GLADSTONE AT HOME.
Mr. Gladstone, who will complete his eighty-third year on December 29th next, is the son of his father, Sir John Gladstone, who lived to be eighty-seven, so that Mr. Gladstone may be said to have come of a long-lived stock. He is a product of English family life, and his family life is one of the most beautiful domesticities of our time. Mr Gladstone is a compound in equal proportions of his parents—he has the imperious spirit, the unbending will, anu inexhaustible energy of his father, and the deep religious spirit of his pious mother.
HIS HIGHLAND MOTHER.
On his father's side he is a lowland Scotsman with all the canniness of the long headed-race. On his mother's side he is a Highlander of the Donachie clan, whose habitat was far away in the extreme north beside Stornoway. It is from his mother's side that he has the imagination and the poetry of his nature, and from her also he has that leaning towards the occult, which, however, he has sedulously kept in check. When I asked him some time after the publication of "Real Ghost Stories" whether he had paid any attention to spiritualism and its related subjects he said generally that he had not studied it as closely as had Mr. Balfour, with whose general conclusions on the subject he was inclined to agree. But speaking broadly of dreams, second sight and ghosts, etc., he was prepared generally to believe in them all, but said he with a roguish twinkle in his eye, "If you ask me whether there is any particular instance of any one of them in which I can place implicit credence I would be at some difficulty to reply."
A DEBATER FROM THE NURSERY.
Mr. Gladstone has the great advantage of having been accustomed from his infancy to discuss everything with
his parents. The children and their parents argued upon everything; they would debate as to whether the trout should be boiled or fried; whether it was likely to be wet or fine the next day; whether a window should be opened. It is probable that in this early training Mr. Gladstone got that faculty of his of being equally absorbed in the most trivial and the most important of subjects.
When Mr. Gladstone was twelve he went to school and was declared by Sir Roderick Murchison to be "the prettiest little boy that ever went to Eton." As a scholar he was by common consent, says Mr. George Russell acknowledged to be Godfearing and conscientious, pure-minded and courageous, but humane. He was never seen to run, but was fond of sculling, and even then given to that fast walking which he has practised all his life. At school he distinguished himself by turning his glass upside down and refusing to drink a coarse toast at an election dinner, and for having protested against the torture of certain wretched pigs which were then regarded as fair game on Ash Wednesday. Some of his schoolfellows failing to appreciate this early foretaste of his chivalrous imposition, Mr. Gladstone offered to write his reply in good round hand upon their faces. It is curious to note that at the Salt Hill Club, which he and a few congenial spirits founded for the purpose of going to Salt Hill to bully the fat waiter, eat toasted cheese and drink egg wine, Mr. Gladstone was familiarly known by the name of Mr. Tipple. In the School Debating Society he naturally took a high place. In one of his earliest recorded speeches, he declares that his "prejudices and his predilections have long been enlisted on the side of Toryism." So Tory was he that seeing a colt of the name of Hampden entered for the Derby between two horses named Zeal and Lunacy, he declared he was in his proper place, for Hampden in those days was to him only an illustrious rebel.
THE SCHOOL-BOY EDITOR AND POET.
When eighteen Mr. Gladstone contributed under the nom de plume of Bartholemy Bauverie to the Eton Miscellany. To this magazine he contributed not only leading articles, classical translations, and historical essays, but even ventured into the domain of humorous poetry. Of his humorous verse the only specimen which is offered was his mock heroic ode to the shade of Wat Tyler, of which the following is the concluding stanza:—
Shades, that soft Sedition woo, Around the haunts of Peterloo! That hover o'er the meeting-halls, Where many a voice stentorian bawls! Still flit the sacred choir around, With "Freedom" let the garrets ring, And vengeance soon in thunder sound On Church, and constable, and king.
A MODEL UNDERGRADUATE.
At nineteen he went up to Oxford and became a model undergraduate of Christ Church. Ten years after he left college it was said that undergraduates drank less wine in the forties because Gladstone had been so abstemious in the thirties. He was, therefore, naturally ridiculed, especially on account of all his friends having been industrious and steady men, and he was therefore declared by the roysterers only fit to live with maiden aunts and keep tame rabbits. In 1831 he made his first great speech at the Oxford Union, of which he was first secretary and then president. It is notable that it was in denunciation of the Reform Bill, which he declared was destined to break up the foundations of social order. Notwithstanding his subject it was so remarkable a performance that Bishop Wordsworth declared that one day Gladstone would rise to be Prime Minister of England. The prediction was not fulfilled until thirty-seven years later.
AN OBEDIENT SON.
Another incident, which is not generally known, is that it was his filial obedience which first brought to light that extraordinary aptitude for figures which enables Mr. Gladstone to be far and away the greatest Chancellor of the Exchequer whom England has ever had. When he was at Oxford he wrote home, saying that he didn't care for mathematics, and intended to concentrate his attention upon classics. His father wrote back that he heard with much grief his son's decision. He did not think a man was a man unless he knew mathematics. Mr. Gladstone, on receiving this intimation of his father's wishes, abandoned his own plan, and applied himself with his usual concentration to the study of mathematics. Much to his surprise, he came out double first. He often said in after life that he had done it to please his father, and that he would never have been Chancellor of the Exchequer had it not been for the bent given to his mind by his compliance with his father's wish that he should pursue mathematical studies.
HIS DEVOTION FOR DANTE.
After taking a double first Mr. Gladstone left Oxford, leaving behind him a great reputation for industry, brilliance, and piety. No man of his standing more habitually read his Bible or knew it better. He was then an evangelical with a strong predisposition to a clerical career. Instead of going to the Church he went to Italy, a land which has always excited a peculiar fascination over Mr. Gladstone. After Homer Dante is his favourite poet. He has always found solace and refreshment in the study of his verse. "Dante,'' he once wrote, "has been a solemn master for me. The reading of Dante is a vigorous discipline for the heart, the intellect and the whole man. In the school of Dante I have learned a great part of that mental provision which has served me to make the journey of human life. He who lives for Dante lives to serve Italy, Christianity, and the World."
HIS MARRIED LIFE.
Mr. Gladstone's wedded life has been idyllic and ideal. Seldom, indeed, has a marriage taken place of which it might so truly be said, in the hackneyed phrase of the story-book, "They lived happily ever after." Mr. Gladstone's simplicity of character and "matter-of-factness" give his family great facility for what is called "managing" him. He is as easily managed as a child, and has no idea of employing the mode by which he is "managed" on anybody else. He, therefore, never suspects that he is being manipulated.
In the household Mr. Gladstone is simply idolized. His servants would lay down their lives for him; and his absolute justice, kindness, and orderliness make him a perfect master of the household. But for all that he is not in any way overbearing or domineering. He is very freely criticised in his own family, and, although his children agree with him in the main, there is abundant scope for divergence of views and details.
Mr. Gladstone's-manners, especially when addressing ladies, are very courtly. There is a fine stateliness, and, at the same time an exquisite courtesy in his address. In his manners, as well as in much else, Mr. Gladstone belongs distinctly to the older school which flourished before the Queen came to the throne, when society still preserved a certain distinctive style which has suffered much in the rush and tumble of our new democracy.
HIS LOVE OF HOME.
A great illusion which prevails about Mr. Gladstone is that he is always supposed to be fidgeting for the leadership, and that he is consumed by a passionate desire to be Prime Minister for the fourth time. Those who live with him know that the very reverse is the fact. Instead of restraining him and holding him back, as they are supposed to do, they have actually to egg him on and force him to quit his sylvan retreats for the turmoil of political life. This is partly because of the extraordinary intensity with which he throws himself into everything he does. Again and again he has striven to rid himself of political embarassments, and he is never so happy as when he is romping with his grandchild. Twenty years ago he argued himself into a belief that he ought to retire.
He was "strong against going on in politics to the end." On May 6th, 1873, Bishop Wilberforce wrote: "Gladstone, much talking—how little real good work any Premier had done after sixty: Peel, Palmerston— his work already done before; the Duke of Wellington added nothing to his reputation after. I told him Dr. Clark thought it would be physically worse for him to retire." "Dr. Clark does not know how completely I should employ myself," etc. May 10: "Gladstone again talking of sixty as full age of Premier." In 1875 he formally retired, as he thought, to end his days in retirement. When I saw him at Downing Street in 1883 he hinted that he did not intend to remain in office till the dissolution; and in 1884 he talked in Cabinets of having one foot in the grave, and as if anything relating to the next Parliament was to him entirely devoid of any practical interest. His wife and children know that he is sincerely in earnest when he declares that he prefers a life of learned and scholarly activity among his books to the gratification of any Parliamentary ambitions.
This is not a biography, but it would be unpardonable not to glance, however briefly, at some of the more salient features of Mr. Gladstone's political career. He entered Parliament for the first time in 1833, when he was elected to represent Newark by the then Duke of Newcastle. Few men have entered public life with greater advantages. He was not only healthy and wealthy, but the ripest flower of the University culture of his time. His personal appearance is said to have been striking, but his strongly-marked features were pale, and their pallor was set off by the abundance of his dark hair, nor did the piercing lustre of his eyes diminish the impression that the young member was somewhat too delicate for the stress and strain of Parliamentary life. Of those who entered Parliament with him at that time there is not one left in the House of Commons to-day. Mr. Gladstone was then the rising hope of the stern and unbending Tories. His first address to the electors declared that the duties of Governments were strictly and peculiarly religious. He urged that the claims and the condition of the poor should receive special attention, labour should receive adequate remuneration, and he thought favourably of the allotment of cottage grounds. That was just sixty-one years before Mr. Chaplin brought in his Allotment Bill.
In those days Mr. Gladstone used to ride a grey Arabian mare in Hyde Park, where his narrow-brimmed hat high up in the centre of his head, sustained by a crop of thick curly hair, attracted considerable attention. In the first ten years of his Parliamentary life Mr. Gladstone was in all things a thoroughgoing Tory. His first speech was in defence of slavery as it was practised on his father's plantation in Demerara, and the first session did not pass until he had delivered a speech in defence of the Irish Church, which he was subsequently to disestablish. So sanguine was he that he was sure that the Church had awakened to new life and fresh energy, which would soon afford fresh occupation for all the bishops of the existing establishment. In the next session he supported the compulsory subjection of every student of the universities as to the teaching of the Church of England. When Parliament was dissolved, Mr. Gladstone warned the electors of Newark against the danger of hurrying onwards through the ballot, short Parliaments, and other questions called popular, into Republicanism.
When Mr Gladstone was on the eve of emerging from his high and dry Toryism, he was thus described by one who subsequently succeeded him as leader of the House of Commons. Sir Stafford Northcote wrote:—
SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE'S HOPE.
There is but one statesman of the day in whom I feel entire confidence, and with whom I cordially agree, and that statesman is Mr. Gladstone. I look upon him as the representative of the party—scarcely developed as yet, though secretly forming and strengthening— which will stand by all that is dear and sacred in my estimation in the struggle which I believe will come ere very long between good and evil, order and disorder, the Church and the world, and I see a very little band collecting round him, and ready to fight manfully under bis leading.
In 1845 Mr. Gladstone first had his attention seriously drawn to Ireland, and in that year he entertained the idea of devoting the month of September to a tour in the distressful land:—
Ireland is likely to find this country and Parliament so much employed for years to come that I feel rather oppressively an obligation to try and see it with my own eyes instead of using those of other people, according to the limited measure of my means.
One passage in Mr. Gladstone's career is often forgotten, namely, that, when Secretary of State for the Colonies in Sir Robert Peel's administration in 1846, he did not offer himself for re-election, the Duke of Newcastle, his former patron, being a stout Protectionist, and he remained outside the House of Commons during the great Free Trade struggle which resulted in the repeal of the Corn Laws.
M.P. FOR OXFORD.
When he was elected for Oxford, Bishop Moberly declared that he was the deepest, truest, most attached, and most effective advocate for the Church and the universities; the man who had the most ability and the most willingness to serve his Church and country most effectively. After his election for Oxford University, and while he was in the process of transition from Toryism to Liberalism, a good deal of the old Adam lingered about him. He pronounced marriage with the deceased wife's sister as contrary to the law of God for three thousand years and upwards, and he opposed the appointment of a Universities Commission, and defended Church rates. In other respects, however, he was a Liberal, being a staunch Free Trader, and in favour of admitting the Jews into Parliament.
It was not till 1850 that Mr. Gladstone first took a distinct stand on the ground which he afterwards made so peculiarly his own, that of the opponent of the policy of bluster, which had its apotheosis in Lord Beaconsfield's Eastern antics. The occasion was in the debate on the alleged abuse of English authority to secure the redress of Don Pacifico from the Government of Greece. Lord Palmerston made his famous speech laying down the doctrine of civis romanus sum, and Mr. Gladstone replied by denouncing the doctrine that England or any other nation could arrogate to herself in the face of mankind a position of peculiar privilege.
Sir, I say the policy of the noble lord tends to encourage and confirm in us that which is our besetting fault and weakness, both as a nation and as individuals. Foreigners are too often sensible of something that galls them in the presence of an Englishman, and I apprehend it is because he has too great a tendency to self-esteem, too little disposition to regard the feelings, the habits, and the ideas of others.
THE CONSCIENCE OF THE CIVILISED WORLD.
It was in this speech also that Mr. Gladstone first made his appeal to the conscience of the civilised world which he so often makes in connection with the Home Rule question:—
There is a further appeal from the House of Commons to the people of England; but, lastly, there is also an appeal from the people of England to the general sentiment of the civilised world, and I, for my part, am of opinion that England will stand shorn of a chief part of her glory and pride if she shall be found to have separated herself, through the policy she pursues abroad, from the moral support which the general and fixed convictions of mankind afford. No, sir, let it not be so; let us recognise, and recognise with frankness, the equality of the weak with the strong, the principle of brotherhood among nations, and of their sacred independence.
HIS NEAPOLITAN PAMPHLET.
It seems part of the irony of fate with Mr. Gladstone that he has always to denounce the course which he is about to take, or to defend a policy which he is just about to reverse. Of this there are many instances in his career, but one of the oddest was that in which, immediately after he had declared in the House of Commons that it was a vain conception that we, forsooth, had the mission to be the censors of vice and folly and abuse and imperfections of other nations, he rushed off to Naples and made himself the censor of the vice and folly, the abuse and imperfections of the Neopolitan Government. It was, however, no vain conception, for the letters which he wrote denouncing the negation of God wrought into a system were one of the most powerful of the moral causes which shook down the throne of the Bourbons.
In 1851 Mr. Gladstone wrote a letter to the Bishop of Aberdeen on "The Position and Function of the Laity", which Bishop Wordsworth declared contained the germ of liberation and the political equality of all religions. Mr. Gladstone had obviously been travelling somewhat since he published his book on "Church and State" but thirteen years before.
A TEACHABLE MIND.
Mr. Gladstone began as the defender of the Irish Church; he ended by demolishing it. No one ever opposed more vehemently the extension of British influence in Egypt, but it was under his Government we bombarded the Alexandrian forts, fought the battle of Tel-el-Kebir, and reduced Egypt to the condition of a British satrapy. He was the most conspicuous advocate of peace with Russia when Lord Beaconsfield was in office, until Constantinople was in danger. Five years later he left office, after having brought us to the very verge of war with Russia for the sake of Penjdeh. One year he claps Mr. Parnell into prison, the next he proposes to make over to him the government of Ireland, and then again he deposes him from the leadership. Yet he has always been consistent, and anxious for his consistency. Circumstances alter cases, and Mr. Gladstone is not above being taught by events.
Mr. Gladstone has from time to time helped many struggling causes and many oppressed classes. Few men have ever shown themselves more widely sympathetic, more generously Quixotic. Bulgarian, Russian, Jew, Greek, Italian, have never appealed to him in vain when they suffered wrong. No class of his own countrymen have found him deaf to their appeals for justice or for freedom. Only in one particular is his record lacking. For men Mr. Gladstone has done much. For women he has done nothing.
ONE BLOT ON HIS RECORD.
It is a great and grievous blot on an illustrious career. It has lasted now for more than half a century. He has filled the statute book with laws on all manner of subjects, but although he has from time to time assented to measures introduced by his colleagues which did some justice to women, he has never, so far as I can remember, in the whole course of his unparalleled Parliamentary career, ever made a speech that betrayed even a glimmering ray of sympathy with the wrongs under which women labour. It is a great and inexcusable omission, for Mr. Gladstone has owed more than most men to women. He had a good mother, a devoted wife, and intelligent and enthusiastic daughters. Nor has Mr. Gladstone by any means confined his acquaintance with women to those of his own household. Probably no man in Parliament has had more cause than he to recognise the inspiration, the sustaining strength, and the consolation of female friendship. He has been brought into close personal relations with some of the best and with some of the most unfortunate of the sex. From the Queen upon the throne to the Magdalen in the street for whose redemption he has laboured, all have ministered to him in one way and another, and yet, at the close of a long life, no statesman has seemed so stolid and so persistently blind to the injustices under which women labour. Blind is the word, and the only word for it. He simply does not see, and will probably be amazed that any one can bring such a accusation against him.
The fact, however, is there, and the explanation is not difficult. Mr. Gladstone is a Parliamentarian who lives on the electoral plane. Women are not on that plane. Therefore women do not enter into the sphere within which his conception of justice applies, any more than the mysterious inhabitants of the astral plane. So completely oblivious is he of this, that he fails even to see how powerful an argument his own obliviousness supplies to the advocates of woman's suffrage. Even when his keen moral instincts are aroused, they are blunted the moment a woman is concerned.
MR. GLADSTONE AND THE C. D. ACTS.
This may seem a hard saying, but it is unfortunately too true. Mr. Gladstone deplores the spreading demoralisation of society, and attributes it partially at least to the Divorce Acts, which he did his best to hinder. But Mr. Gladstone himself, as Minister of the Crown, was responsible for Acts which, for their outrage upon the fundamental morality of man and woman, cast the Divorce Acts far into the shade. It is, of course, as absurd to hold Mr. Gladstone personally responsible for the C. D. Acts as to praise him because Mr. Forster allowed women to sit on School Boards. The Acts were passed without knowing what they involved. His responsibility began later in the day, when the real nature of that hideous outrage first burst upon the consciousness of the women of the land. The Acts were passed in 1869. They were repealed until 1885. During these sixteen long and weary years Mr. Gladstone was dumb. It was in vain that colleagues and friends implored him to speak out, to put his foot down, to do anything to clear himself from the damning stain of those measures. He listened, and he made no sign. He left it to Mrs. Butler and Mr. Stansfeld, and other devoted labourers, to bear the burden and the heat of the day without one inspiring word. I confess that in looking back over all Mr. Gladstone's past everything but this can be explained, excused, or condoned. For his conduct in relation to the nameless outrage which, in the Queen's name and with the authority of the law, was enforced upon the most unfortunate and helpless of Englishwomen, it is impossible even to invent an apology or an excuse. If women had had votes he would have been as keen to see their wrongs as if they had been men. But they had no votes, and he would not listen.
AN INEXPLICABLE MYSTERY
It is a curious and suggestive commentary upon his latest and most characteristic contribution to the discussion of woman's suffrage that its author should for sixteen years have been able to harden his heart against the woman's plea for justice and for exemption from outrage which ought to have roused him to passionate protest. Mr. Gladstone of all men ought to have understood as it were by instinct the horror of the system which his administration established. He knew, as few of his colleagues before or since knew, the class which suffered, nor have their vice or their sad profession ever been allowed to sever them as individuals from the compassion and friendly sympathy of Mr. Gladstone. Whatever the doctors might say, there is only one opinion among women of that class at home or abroad as to the hatefulness of the regulation system. In that they are in absolute accord with Mrs. Butler and all those noble matrons who, approaching the question from the other side, came to exactly the same conclusions of horror and disgust. Yet Mr. Gladstone, who was in touch with both, was absolutely impassive. He mildly, and in platonic fashion, sympathised with the protests made against the legalisation of vice. The wrong done to womanhood, the outrage of the personality of the sufferers, the brutal denial of their rights as citizens, he never to the last even seemed to discern as in a glass darkly. Wherein lies the explanation of this great mystery? Surely nowhere save in the fact that personal rights are so inseparably linked with political privilege that Mr. Gladstone could not realise a wrong that was inflicted merely on a thing without a vote.
A REDUCTIO AD ABSURDUM.
Strange, too, it is to read Mr. Gladstone's objection to the direct representation of women in Parliament, when we recall his resolute refusal during all these years to listen to their indirect representations. At the very beginning of the long struggle for repeal, Mrs. Butler, through a colleague, begged to be allowed to express to Mr. Gladstone personally the feeling with which all women regarded this legalised outrage. Mr. Gladstone knew Mrs. Butler, and therefore knew her to be a matron of the highest character, of clear intellect, in every way a worthy representative of English womanhood. But he refused to allow her to come within speaking distance. And why? Because "the subject, if bad for public discussion, is still worse for free private exposition between a woman and a man." Behold, then, the position which Mr. Gladstone has taken up in relation to women! Women must not have votes by which to secure the direct represention in the House of Commons. They must rely upon indirect representation and the influence they can bring to bear upon men. But when men, without consulting women, smuggle through Parliament in the dark a law which inflicts upon their sex the worst and foulest outrage, how are they to protest? Not by vote, for they have not got one. Not by public speech from the plarform, for the sucject is bad for discussion, and not by private representation by a matron to a minister, because that is even worse. What, then, must women do? Nothing but have leave Mr. Gladstone and his colleagues to to do as they please.
That was not a solution which under the circumstances was tolerable or even possible. Denied access to Mr Gladstone, who might have remedied everything by one word, the Repeal agitators addressed themselves prayerfully and resolutely to their painful task. They laboured and they prayed—prayed specially for Mr. Gladstone, and for a long time with very little fruit. In February. 1885, at an all-day prayer meeting, half-an-hour was specially set apart for prayer—
For the Prime Minister, that God will incline his heart now to desire and determine to give a practical response to persistent appeal which has been made to him by the Churches and the people of this country; that he may now discern clearly his responsibility in the matter, and may be moved to use his great influence to rid us of this law before he retires from office.
The prayer was not answered. He retired from office leaving the law still on the Statute Book. When in opposition another agitation arose on a related subject.
ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY LOST.
When all England was moved with a passionate desire to strengthen the Criminal Law against those who made a traffic in youth and innocence and womanhood, Mr. Gladstone sat apart silent and as if indifferent. Only by the greatest pressure of friends was a letter, more or less Gladstonian in its phrases, extracted from him in favour of raising the age of consent. But that was all. Health precluded him from taking a leading part in amending and strengthening the Bill, but he might at least have said one stirring word in favour of the Bill. That opportunity was lost like the others that had gone before. The law passed, but Mr. Gladstone was silent. Next year the C. D. Acts were repealed by Mr. Stansfeld, and still Mr. Gladstone made no sign. He voted in silence, but for one generous sympathetic word the country waited in vain, and it is waiting still.
HIS OPPOSITION TO WOMAN'S SUFFRAGE.
It was therefore no surprise to any of those who knew how bad had been Mr. Gladstone's record in all things affecting the claims of woman for justice that he should have written the letter which appears as preface to Mr. S. Smith's pamphlet against woman's suffrage. It is a Tory pamphlet, as the Pall Mall Gazette justly observed, "being based upon the assumptions—
1. That Representative Government generally is a delusion. 2. That the mind of any section of the country can be elicited otherwise than by the vote. 3. That the vote is a means of social demoralisation. 4. That experience is no argument in politics.
But there is no need to dwell upon this painful subject any further. There are spots on the sun, and Mr. Gladatone, being but mortal, has his failings like the rest of us. We might have wished that his shortcomings had been in any other connection than this; but these things lie beyond our choosing. Besides, even now, so great is the hope which Mr. Gladstone inspires in those who know and love and revere him, that there are many who still believe that before the end comes Mr. Gladstone may wake up to some sense of the wrong he has unwittingly inflicted upon the unenfranchised half of his fellow creatures. He is eighty-three, but "while the lamp holds out to burn" hope lingers still.