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discussion with Huxley on the immortality of the soul ! '

Who can wonder that after a prolonged spell of such
a strain as this, he was found laying down strong doctrine
about the age of a prime minister. Bishop Wilberforce
met him twice in the May of 1873. 'Gladstone much
talking how little real good work any premier had done
after sixty : Peel ; Palmerston, his work really all done be-
fore ; 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," he replied. Four days
later: 'Gladstone again talking of sixty as full age of
premier/ l


In words already quoted, Mr. Gladstone spoke of most
of his life having been given to working the institutions of
his country. Of all these institutions — House of Commons,
Lords, cabinet, church, stern courts of law — that which he
was most apt to idealise was the throne. His sense of
chivalry and his sense of an august tradition continuously

1 May 6, 10, 1873. Life of Wilberforce, iii. p. 41S.

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symbolised by a historic throne, moved him as the sight of
the French Queen at Versailles had moved the majestic
1868-74. political imagination of Burke a century before. About the
throne he sometimes used language that represented almost
at its highest the value set upon it in text-books of the
constitution, and in the current . conventions of ceremonial
speech. 1 Although what he called the iron necessities of actual
business always threw these conventions into the background
when the time came, yet his inmost feeling about the crown
and the person of its wearer was as sincere as it was fervid.
In business, it is true, he never yielded, yet even in his most
anxious and pressing hours he spared neither time nor toil
in endeavours to show the Queen why he could not yield.
' Though decisions/ he said, ' must ultimately conform to the
sense of those who are to be responsible for them, yet their
business is to inform and persuade the sovereign, not to
overrule him/ One writer describes the Queen as ' superb
in standing sentry over the business of the empire/ This
is obsequious phrase-making. But I will borrow the figure
in saying what is more real, that Mr. Gladstone from
beginning to end stood sentry over the interests, whether
profound and enduring or trivial and fleeting, of the ancient
monarchy of this kingdom. None who heard it, will ever
forget the moving and energetic passage in which when he
was the doughty veteran of eighty years, speaking against
his own followers on some question of a royal annuity, he
moved the whole House to its depths by the passionate
declaration, ' I am not ashamed to say that in my old age
I rejoice in any opportunity that enables me to testify that,
whatever may be thought of my opinions, whatever may be
thought of my proposals in general politics, I do not forget
the service that I have borne to the illustrious representative
of the British monarchy/ 2

My readers have had opportunity enough of judging
Mr. Gladstone's estimate of the Queen's shrewdness, sim-
plicity, high manners. Above all, he constantly said how
warmly he recognised her sincerity, frankness, straight-
forwardness, and love of truth. On the other side, his own

1 Gleanings, i. pp. 232-3. a July 25, 1889.

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eager mobility, versatility, and wide elastic range was not CHAP,
likely to be to the taste of a personage with a singular fixity .
of nature. Then the Queen was by the necessity of her -< Et - 59 ' 65 -
station a politician, as was Elizabeth or George hi., although
oddly enough she had a bitter dislike of what she thought the
madness of ' women's rights.' As politician, she often took
views that were not shared either by the constituencies or
by the ministers whom the constituencies imposed upon her.
The Queen in truth excellently represented and incorporated
in her proper person one whole set of those qualities in our
national character, on which the power of her realm had been
built up. Mr. Gladstone stood for a different and in some
aspects and on some occasions almost an antagonistic set of
national qualities. The Queen, according to those who knew
her well, 1 dreaded what in the eighteenth century they called
enthusiasm : she dreaded or disdained it in religion, and in
politics almost more. Yet her Englishmen are full of capacity
for enthusiasm, and the Scots for whom she had such cordial
affection have enthusiasm in measure fuller stilL Unhappily,
in the case of Ireland that occupied so much of Mr. Glad-
stone's life, her sympathies with his long and vigorous en-
deavour notoriously stood at zero. The Queen's loyalty to the
constitution and to ministers in office was unquestioned, but
she was not well placed, nor was she perhaps by character well
fitted, to gauge the fluctuating movements of an age of change,
as it was the duty of her statesmen to gauge and plumb them.
If a cabinet with the cohfidence of the House of Commons
decides upon a policy, it must obviously be a premier's duty
to persist, and in that duty Mr. Gladstone was resolute. If
he had been otherwise, he knew that he would be falling
short in loyalty to the country, and to its chief magistrate
most of all.

In 1871 a wave of critical feeling began to run upon
the throne. An influential journalist of that day, singularly
free from any tincture of republican sentiment, thus describes
it. 'A few weeks ago,' he says, ' a deep and universal feeling of
discontent at the Queen's seclusion (or rather at its conse-
quences) found voice in the journals of the country. No

1 See the remarkable article in the Quarterly Jteview, April 1901, p. 320.

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BOOK public print of any importance failed to take part in the

>^ ' chorus ; which was equally remarkable for its suddenness,

1868-74. f u i nesSj an( j harmony. Indeed, the suddenness of the cry
was surprising — till we remembered that what was then said
had lain unexpressed in the minds of the whole community
for years, with annual increment; and that when popular
feeling gathers in that way, it is generally relieved at last
by something of the nature of an explosion.' He then
goes on to speak of ' republicanism of a very revolutionary
form flooding in/ and says that such a complexion of
affairs could be viewed with pleasure by no friend of the
monarchy. 1 The details of this movement are no longer
of much interest, and they only concern us here because
they gave Mr. Gladstone real anxiety. For him it was
one of the special duties of a prime minister, as distin-
guished from his cabinet, to watch and guard relations
between the crown and the country. Whether in office or in
opposition, he lost no opportunity of standing forth between
the throne and even a faint shadow of popular or parlia-
mentary discontent. He had done it in the case of Prince
Albert, 2 and he did it now. When the end came after nearly
thirty years from our present date, the Queen wrote: 'I
shall ever gratefully remember his devotion and zeal in all
that concerned my personal welfare and that of my family/
In 1871 his zeal went beyond the Queers personal welfare,
and his solicitude for the institution represented by the
Queen undoubtedly took a form of deferential exhortation
— an exhortation that she should return to a fuller dis-
charge of public duty, which the Queen found irksome. The
Queen was as fond of Balmoral as Mr. Gladstone was fond of
Hawarden. The contrast between the formality of Windsor
and the atmosphere of simple attachment and social affection
that surrounded her in Scotland, was as delightful to her as
the air and the scenery. A royal progress through applaud-
ing multitudes in great cities made her ill. Hence, when
Mr. Gladstone pressed her to defer a northern journey, or to
open parliament, or to open a bridge, or otherwise emerge
from seclusion, the Queen, though well aware that he had

1 Pall Mail Gazette, Sept. 29, 1871. 3 See Appendix.

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not, and could not have, any motive save her own and the CHAP,
public interest, undoubtedly felt that her energetic minister »
was attempting to overwork her. This feeling, as most of - Et - 59-65.
us know, breeds resistance, and even in time resentment.
To say, however, that ' in his eagerness Mr. Gladstone pressed
her to do what she knew to be not her work so much as his/
is misleading and a little ludicrous. 1 Mr. Gladstone had
persuaded himself that in the humour of the day persist-
ence in seclusion did harm ; it was his duty to give advice
accordingly, and this duty he could not consent to shirk.

In other ways his very awe of the institution made him
set an exacting standard for the individual who represented
it. The letters contain a hundred instances. One may
suffice. On the occasion of the Irish Church bill of 1869,
the prime minister sent to the Queen a print of its clauses,
and along with this draft a letter, covering over a dozen
closely - written quarto pages, in explanation. Himself
intensely absorbed and his whole soul possessed by the vital
importance of what he was doing, he could not conceive that
the sovereign, nursing a decided dislike of his policy, should
not eagerly desire to get to the bottom of the provisions for
carrying the policy out. The Queen read the letter, and re-
read it, and then in despair desired a gentleman practised
in dealing with parliamentary bills, happening at that time
to be at Osborne, to supply her with a summary. 2 The
gaunt virtues of a precis — a meagre thing where qualifying
sentences drop off, parentheses are cut out, adverbs hardly
count, the noun stands denuded of its sheltering adjective —
were never congenial to Mr. Gladstone's copious exactitude in
hypothesis, conditions, and contingencies. Neither of these
two illustrious personages was without humour, and it seems
at once a wonder and a pity that the monarch did less than
justice to this laborious and almost military sense of discip-
line and duty in the minister ; while the minister failed in
genial allowance for the moderation of a royal lady's appetite
for bread and honey from the draftsman's kitchen. If failing

1 Quarterly Review for April, 1901, told, among other places, in Mr,
p. 305. Sidney Lee's Queen Victoria,

8 This circumstance is accurately

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BOOK there was, it was natural to a man of earnest and concentrated
.' > mind. Be all this as it may, he became more and more

1868-74. conscious that the correspondence and occurrences of 1871-2
had introduced a reserve that was new. Perhaps it
recalled to him the distance and formality that marked the
relations between King George in. and the proudest, the
most intrepid, and the greatest of his prime ministers.


Once in a conversation with Mr. Gladstone I asked him
whether he remembered Peel's phrase to Cobden about
the odious power that patronage confers. He replied,
'I never felt that, when I was prime minister. It came
in the day's work like the rest. I don't recall that I ever
felt plagued by improper applications. Peel was perhaps
a little over fond of talking of the sacrifices of office. A man
has no business to lay himself out for being prime minister,
or to place himself in the way of it, unless he is prepared
to take all the incidents of the post whether disagreeable
or not. I 've no sympathy with talk of that kind.' He was
far from the mind of Carteret ' What is it to me/ cried
that glittering minister, ' who is a judge or who is a bishop ?
It is my business to make kings and emperors, and to
maintain the balance of Europe/

To the bestowal of honours he brought the same diligent
care as to branches of public business that to men of Peel's
type seemed worthier of care. He treated honours on fixed
considerations. Especially in the altitudes of the peerage,
he tried hard to find solid political ground to go upon.
He noted the remarkable fact that though a very large
majority of the peerages granted since 1835 had been made
on the advice of liberal ministers, yet such is the influence
of wealth and privileged station that the liberal minority in
the Lords had decreased. In 1869 the conservative majority
was between sixty and seventy, without counting bishops
or nominal liberals. Yet household suffrage at this very
time had immensely increased the moral strength of
the House of Commons. The crisis upon the Irish church
had been borne with impatience, and Mr. Gladstone dis-

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cerned a combustible temper at the action of the Lords that chap.
might easily have burst into flame. Still he saw no signal ; ^' *
plan for improving the upper House. The appointment ^~-59-G5.
of life peers might be desirable, he said, but it was not easy
to arrange, nor could its effect be great. The means of
action therefore for bringing the Lords into more conformity
or better proportions to the Commons, were very moderate.
But that made it all the more important that they should
not be overlooked. The governing idea in respect of both
classes of hereditary honours was in his judgment the
maintenance of a due relation between the numbers in
those elevated ranks, and the number of persons offering
the proper conditions for promotion of this kind, in a
country so rapidly growing in wealth and population.

With characteristic love of making knowledge quantita-
tive — one definition, I rather think, of science — Mr. Glad-
stone caused returns to be prepared for him, which showed
that in 1840 there were about seventeen peers for every
million of the population, while in 1869 this number had
fallen to fourteen (in 1880 it was about the same). Lord
Palmerston in his second government appears to have re-
commended sixteen peerages, and Lord Derby in little more
than a quarter of the time recommended fourteen. Mr.
Gladstone himself, during his first administration, excluding
royal, non-political and ex-ojjicio peerages, added thirty
members to the House of Lords, besides making five pro-
motions. In the same period twelve peerages became
extinct. Lord Beaconsfield (counting the same exclusions)
created between 1874 and 1880 twenty-six new peers, and
made nine promotions. 1

In two directions Mr. Gladstone made an honourable
innovation. He recommended a member of the Jewish
faith for a peerage, and in the first list of his submissions to
the Queen two Roman catholics were included. No catholic

1 During the twelve years in which addition, he was responsible for seven

Mr. Gladstone was prime minister, promotions of peers to higher rank,

he was answerable for sixty-seven new During the same period ninety-seven

peerages (twenty-two of these now baronetcies were created. — See Sir

extinct), and on his recommendation Edward Hamilton, Mr. Glcuktone, a

fourteen Scotch and Irish peers were Monograph, p. 97.
called to the House of Lords. In

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BOOK peer had been created within living memory. One of these
i two was Lord Acton, afterwards so intimate a friend, whose

1868-74. character, he told the Queen, ' is of the first order, and he is
one of the most learned and accomplished, though one of
the most modest and unassuming, men of the day/ If
religious profession was not in his eyes relevant in making
peers, neither was the negation of profession, for at the
same time he proposed a peerage to Grote. 'I deeply
and gratefully appreciate/ he wrote to Mr. Gladstone, ' the
sentiments you are pleased to express respecting my char-
acter and services. These I shall treasure up never to be
forgotten, coming as they do from a minister who has
entered on the work of reform with a sincerity and energy
never hitherto paralleled. Such recognition is the true and
sufficient recompense for all useful labours of mine/ l

At the same time the prime minister thought that some
honour ought to be tendered to Mr. Mill, but Lord Granville,
whom he consulted, thought otherwise, ' merely on the ground
that honours should go as much as possible with general
acceptance/ Lord Granville was a man of thoroughly liberal
and even generous mind ; still not particularly qualified to
be a good judge" either of the merits of a man lika Mill, or of
his ' acceptance ' in circles well worth considering.


It was to be expected that preferments in the church
should get a special share of Mr. Gladstone's laborious
attention, and so they did. As member for Oxford he had
been so much importuned in Lord Palmerston's time, that
he wrote in a moment of unusual impatience (1863), 'I
think these church preferments will be the death of me/
Palmerston favoured the evangelicals, and Mr. Gladstone
was mortified that Church did not succeed Stanley in the
chair of ecclesiastical history at Oxford, and that Wilberforce
was not elevated to the throne of York in 1862.

During his first administration he recommended for no
fewer than twelve bishoprics and eight deaneries. He was
not unprepared to find, as he put it to Acland, that * saints,

1 Lift of Chote, pp. 306-10.

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theologians, preachers, pastors, scholars, philosophers, gentle- CHAP,
men, men of business, — these are not to be had every day, >
least of all are they to be commonly found in combination. - Et « 5965 -
But these are the materials which ought to be sought out,
and put forward in the church of England, if she is to
stand the trials, and do her work/

According to his fashion, he wrote down upon a fragment-
ary piece of paper what qualifications he ought to look for
in a bishop, and this is the list : —

Piety. Learning (sacred). Eloquence. Administrative power.
Faithful allegiance to the Church and to the church of England.
Activity. Tact and courtesy in dealings with men : knowledge of
the world. Accomplishments and literature. An equitable spirit.
Faculty of working with his brother bishops. Some legal habit of
mind. Circumspection. Courage. Maturity of age and character.
Corporal vigour. Liberal sentiments on public affairs. A repre-
sentative character with reference to shades of opinion fairly
allowable in the Church.

One of his earliest preferments, that of Dr. Temple to the
bishopric of Exeter, created lively excitement. He had been
a contributor to Essays and Reviews : —

On some of the papers contained in the volume, Mr. Gladstone
wrote to the Bishop of Lichfield, I look with a strong aversion.
But Dr. Templet responsibility prior to the publication was con-
fined to his own essay. The question whether he ought to have
disclaimed or denounced any part of the volume afterwards is
a difficult one, and if it was a duty, it was a duty in regard to
which a generous man might well go wrong. As regards his own
essay, I read it at the time of publication, and thought it of
little value, but did not perceive that it was mischievous.

In speaking of him to Acland in 1865, Mr. Gladstone had
let fall a truly remarkable saying, going deep down to the
roots of many things : —

You need not assure me of Dr. Temple's Christian character. I
have read his sermons, and if I had doubted — but I never did —
they would have removed the doubt. Indeed I think it a most
formidable responsibility, at the least, in these times to doubt any

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man's character on account of his opinions. The limit of possible
- variation between character and opinion, ay, between character
1868-74. an( j bejjef^ j S widening, and will widen.

How could the leading mark of progress made in Mr.
Gladstone's age be more truly hit, how defined with more
pith and pregnancy ? How could the illumination of his
own vigorous mind in forty years of life and thought be
better demonstrated ? It would even be no bad thing if those
who are furthest removed from Mr. Gladstone's opinions
either in religion or politics could lay this far-reaching
dictum of his to heart. By many men in all schools his
lesson is sorely needed. Shrill was the clamour. Dr. Pusey, in
Mr. Gladstone's own phrase, was c rabid.' He justified his anger
by reputed facts, which proved to be no facts at all, but the
anger did not die with the fable. Even Phillimore was dis-
quieted. ' It has cut very deep indeed/ he said. Mr. Glad-
stone, confident of his ground, was not dismayed. 'The
movement against Dr. Temple is like a peculiar cheer we
sometimes hear in the House of Commons, vehement but

No appointment proved so popular and successful as that
of Bishop Fraser to Manchester. He was the first person
named by Mr. Gladstone for the episcopate without some
degree of personal knowledge. A remarkable concurrence
of testimony established the great breadth of his sym-
pathies, a trait much in his favour for the particular see of
Manchester. Yet strange to say when by and by Stanley
died, Mr. Gladstone was a party to trying to remove Fraser
from the north to Westminster.

When in 1883 Mr. Gladstone was challenged as confining
his recommendations to the high church side, he defended
himself to sufficient purpose. He had a list made out of
appointments to bishoprics, deaneries, and the most im-
portant parishes : —

There have been thirty important appointments. Out of them
I have recommended eleven who would probably be called high
churchmen (not one of them, so far as I know, unsympathetic
towards other portions of the clergy) and nineteen who are not.

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On further examination it will appear that the high churcnmen CHAP,
whom I take to be a decided majority of the clergy as well as a ' *

decided minority of my recommendations, have gone as a rule to ^ T «°&-65.
the places of hard work and little pay. For example, they have
got five out of ten parochial recommendations ; but, out of sixteen
appointments to deaneries and canonries, they have received four,
and those, with the exception of Mr. Furse, the worst. I could
supply you with the lists in detail.

One admission I must make ; the evidently broad churchmen
are too large a proportion of the non-high, and the low churchmen
rather too small, a disproportion which I should hope to remove,
but undoubtedly the low churchman of the present day has a
poorer share than half a century ago of the working energy of
the church.

All these terms, High, Low and Broad, are rather repugnant to
me, but I use them as a currency of tokens with which it is
difficult to dispense.

Turning from this point of view to the recognition of
learning and genius, in the course of his first administration
we find that he made Church dean of St. Paul's, and Scott of
the Greek lexicon dean of Kochester, Liddon and Lightfoot
canons of St. Paul's, Kingsley canon first of Chester, and
then of Westminster, Vaughan master of the Temple.

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It is all very well to establish united education, but if the persons
to be educated decline to unite*, your efforts will be thrown away.
The question then occurs whether it is best to establish a system,
rejected by those concerned, in the hope that it will gradually work
its way into acceptance in spite of the intolerance of priests, or to
endow the separate denominational bodies on the ground that even
such education is better than none, or, finally, to do nothing. The
question is one of statesmanship enlightened by a knowledge of
facts, and of the sentiments of the population. — Leslie Stephen.

BOOK Descending from her alien throne, the Irish church had
VL , now taken her place among the most prosperous of free
*873. communions. To Irish cultivators a definite interest of pos-
session had been indirectly confirmed in the land to which
most of its value had been given by their own toiL A third
branch of the upas tree of poisonous ascendency described
by Mr. Gladstone during the election of 1868, still awaited his
axe. * The fitness of an absentee parliament to govern Ireland
was again to be tested. This time the problem was hardest
of all, for it involved direct concession by nations inveterately
protestant, to a catholic hierarchy having at its head an
ultramontane cardinal of uncompromising opinions and
inexorable will.

Everybody knew that the state of university education in
Ireland stood in the front rank of unsettled questions. Ever

Online LibraryJohn MorleyThe life of William Ewart Gladstone, Volume 2 → online text (page 4 of 91)