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THE LIFE

OF

WILLIAM EWART GLADSTONE







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THE LIFE OF

WILLIAM EWART
GLADSTONE



BY

JOHN MORLEY



IN THREE VOLUMES VOL. Ill
(1880-1898)



Hontion

MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED

NEW YORK : THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
1903



Copyright in the United States of America



Edinburgh : Printed by T. and A. CONSTABLE



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CONTENTS



CHAPTER PAGE

I. OPENING DAYS OF THE NEW PARLIAMENT . 1

II. AN EPISODE IN TOLERATION . 11

III. MAJUBA . 22

IV. NEW PHASES OF THE IRISH REVOLUTION . 47
V. EGYPT . . 72

VI. POLITICAL JUBILEE . 87

VII. COLLEAGUES NORTHERN CRUISE EGYPT . . 110

VIII. REFORM . . 123

IX. THE SOUDAN . . ,144

X. INTERIOR OF THE CABINET . .170

XI. DEFEAT OF MINISTERS . 188

XII. ACCESSION OF LORD SALISBURY . . 202

BOOK IX

(1885-1886)

I. LEADERSHIP AND THE GENERAL ELECTION . ., 219

II. THE POLLS IN 1885 . . 246

III. A CRITICAL MONTH . . 256

IV. FALL OF THE FIRST SALISBURY GOVERNMENT . 277

V. THE NEW POLICY . . 290

VI. INTRODUCTION OF THE BILL . .310

VII. THE POLITICAL ATMOSPHERE DEFEAT OF THE BILL 321



VI CONTENTS

*
BOOK X

(1SS6-1898)

CHAPTER PAGE

I. THE MORROW OF DEFEAT . . 350

II. THE ALTERNATIVE POLICY IN ACT . .362

III. THE SPECIAL COMMISSION . . 390

IV. AN INTERIM . . .413
V. BREACH WITH MR. PARNELL . .426

VI. BIARRITZ . . 460

VII. THE FOURTH ADMINISTRATION . 490

VIII. RETIREMENT FROM PUBLIC LIFE . 506

IX. THE CLOSE . .517

X. FINAL . 534

APPENDIX .... 553

CHRONOLOGY . . . 565

INDEX . 577



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

WILLIAM EWART GLADSTONE, .... Frontispiece.

From a, photograph by The London Stereoscopic Company.

WILLIAM EWART GLADSTONE, . . . to face page 506

From a photograph by Mr. L. V. Harcourt.



ERRATA

VOLUME I :

Page 91, line 18, for satis- read satisfaction.
129, marginal date, for Mt. 25 read uEt. 26.
,, 222 and 223, marginal dates, for 1840 read 1839; for Mt. 31

read JEt. 30.
,, 251, line 24, omit and.
,, 648, line 42, for it read its.

VOLUME II :

Page 49, line 9, for council-keeping read counsel-keeping.
,, 220, line 4, for previous year read 1865.
227, line 23, for 1868 read 1866.
,, 264, line 35, for 91 read 1.
,, 319, line 30, for agression read aggression.
,, 345, footnote, for <Aree years read two years.
,, 455, line 9, for on luxury read luxury.
,, 562, line 24, for made read much.
,, 608, line 11, after 1865 insert 1868.

VOLUME III :

Page 350, line 2 of heading, for 1892 read 1898.



1880-1886

CHAPTER I

OPENING DAYS OF THE NEW PARLIAMENT

(1880)

IL y a bien du factice dans le classement politique des hommes.

GUIZOT.

There is plenty of what is purely artificial in the political classifica-
tion of men.

ON May 20 after eight-and-forty years of strenuous public CHAP,
life, Mr. Gladstone met his twelfth parliament, and the second
in which he had been chief minister of the crown. ' At 4.15/
he records, ' I went down to the House with Herbert. There
was a great and fervent crowd in Palace Yard, and much
feeling in the House. It almost overpowered me, as I
thought by what deep and hidden agencies I have been
brought back into the midst of the vortex of political action
and contention. It has not been in my power during these
last six months to have made notes, as I would have wished,
of my own thoughts and observations from time to time ; of
the new access of strength which in some important respects
has been administered to me in my old age; and of the

/ O J

remarkable manner in which Holy Scripture has been
applied to me for admonition and for comfort. Looking
calmly on this course of experience, I do believe that the
Almighty has employed me for His purposes in a manner
larger or more special than before, and has strengthened me
and led me on accordingly, though I must not forget the

VOL. III. A



2 OPENING DAYS OF THE NEW PARLIAMENT

BOOK admirable saying of Hooker, that even ministers of good
VIIL . t.Viings are like torches, a light to others, waste and
1380. destruction to themselves.'

One who approached his task in such a spirit as this was
at least impregnable to ordinary mortifications, and it was
well; for before many days were over it became perceptible
that the new parliament and the new majority would be no
docile instrument of ministerial will. An acute chill followed
the discovery that there was to be no recall of Frere or
Layard. Very early in its history Speaker Brand, surveying
his flock from the august altitude of the Chair with an acute,
experienced, and friendly eye, made up his mind that the
liberal party were ' not only strong, but determined to have
their own way in spite of Mr. Gladstone. He has a difficult
team to drive/ Two men of striking character on the
benches opposite quickly became formidable. Lord Randolph
Churchill headed a little group of four tories, and Mr.
Parnell a resolute band of five-and-thirty Irishmen, with
momentous results both for ministers and for the House of
Commons.

No more capable set of ruling men were ever got together
than the cabinet of 1880 ; no men who better represented
the leading elements in the country, in all their variety and
strength. The great possessors of land were there, and the
heirs of long governing tradition were there ; the industrious
and the sedate of the middle classes found their men seated
at the council board, by the side of others whose keen-
sighted ambition sought sources of power in the ranks of
manual toil ; the church saw one of the most ardent of her
sons upon the woolsack, and the most illustrious of them in
the highest place of all; the people of the chapel beheld
with complacency the rising man of the future in one who
publicly boasted an unbroken line of nonconformist descent.
They were all men well trained in the habits of business, of
large affairs, and in experience of English life ; they were all
in spite of difference of shade genuinely liberal ; and they all
professed a devoted loyalty to their chief. The incident of
the resolutions on the eastern question l was effaced from

1 Above, voL ii. pp. 563-8.



THE CABINET A COALITION 3

all memories, and men who in those days had assured
themselves that there was no return from Elba, became
faithful marshals of the conquering hero. Mediocrity in a
long-lived cabinet in the earlier part of the century was the
object of Disraeli's keenest mockery. Still a slight ballast of
mediocrity in a government steadies the ship and makes for
unity a truth, by the way, that Mr. Disraeli himself, in form-
ing governments, sometimes conspicuously put in practice.

In fact Mr. Gladstone found that the ministry of which
he stood at the head was a coalition, and what was more, a
coalition of that vexatious kind, where those who happened
not to agree sometimes seemed to be almost as well pleased
with contention as with harmony. The two sections were
not always divided by differences of class or station, for
some of the peers in the cabinet often showed as bold a
liberalism as any of the commoners. This notwithstanding,
it happened on more than one critical occasion, that all the
peers plus Lord Hartington were on one side, and all the
commoners on the other. Lord Hartington was in many
respects the lineal successor of Palmerston in his coolness on
parliamentary reform, in his inclination to stand in the old
ways, in his extreme suspicion of what savoured of sentiment
or idealism or high-flown profession. But he was a Palmerston
who respected Mr. Gladstone, and desired to work faithfully
under him, instead of being a Palmerston who always intended
to keep the upper hand of him. Confronting Lord Hartington
was Mr. Chamberlain, eager, intrepid, self-reliant, alert,
daring, with notions about property, taxation, land, schools,
popular rights, that he expressed with a plainness and
pungency of speech that had never been heard from a privy
councillor and cabinet minister before, that exasperated
opponents, startled the whigs, and brought him hosts of
adherents among radicals out of doors. It was at a very
early stage in the existence of the government, that this
important man said to an ally in the cabinet, ' I don't see
how we are to get on, if Mr. Gladstone goes.' And here was
the key to many leading incidents, both during the life of
this administration and for the eventful year in Mr.
Gladstone's career that followed its demise.




4 OPENING DAYS OF THE NEW PARLIAMENT

BOOK The Duke of Argyll, who resigned very early, wrote to Mr.
rc -> Gladstone after the government was overthrown (Dec. 18,
1880. 1885), urging him in effect to side definitely with the whigs
against the radicals :

From the moment our government was fairly under way, I saw
and felt that speeches outside were allowed to affect opinion, and
politically to commit the cabinet in a direction which was not
determined by you deliberately, or by the government as a whole,
but by the audacity ... of our new associates. Month by month
I became more and more uncomfortable, feeling that there was no
paramount direction nothing but slip and slide, what the Scotch
call ' slithering.' The outside world, knowing your great gifts and
powers, assume that you are dictator in your own cabinet. And
in one sense you are so, that is to say, that when you choose to
put your foot down, others will give way. But your amiability to
colleagues, your even extreme gentleness towards them, whilst it
has always endeared you to them personally, has enabled men
playing their own game ... to take out of your hands the
formation of opinion.

On a connected aspect of the same thing, Mr. Gladstone
wrote to Lord Rosebery (Sept. 16, 1880) ;

. . . All this is too long to bore people with and yet it is not
so long, nor so interesting, as one at least of the subjects which
we just touched in conversation at Mentmore ; the future of
politics, and the food they offer to the mind. What is outside
parliament seems to me to be fast mounting, nay to have already
mounted, to an importance much exceeding what is inside. Parlia-
ment deals with laws, and branches of the social tree, not with the
root. I always admired Mrs. Grote's saying that politics and
theology were the only two really great subjects ; it was wonder-
ful considering the atmosphere in which she had lived. I do not
doubt which of the two she would have put in the first place ; and
to theology I have no doubt she would have given a wide sense, as
including everything that touches the relation between the seen
and the unseen.

What is curious to note is that, though Mr. Gladstone in
making his cabinet had thrown the main weight against



CHARACTER AS HEAD OF THE CABINET 5

the radicals, yet when they got to work, it was with them he CHAP,
found himself more often than not in energetic agreement. .
In common talk and in partisan speeches, the prime * ET - 71 -
minister was regarded as dictatorial and imperious. The
complaint of some at least among his colleagues in the
cabinet of 1880 was rather that he was not imperious
enough. Almost from the first he too frequently allowed
himself to be over-ruled ; often in secondary matters, it is
true, but sometimes also in matters on the uncertain frontier
between secondary and primary. Then he adopted a
practice of taking votes and counting numbers, of which
more than one old hand complained as an innovation.
Lord Granville said to him in 1886, ' I think you too often
counted noses in your last cabinet.'

What Mr. Gladstone described as the severest fight that
he had ever known in any cabinet occurred in 1883, upon
the removal of the Duke of Wellington's statue from Hyde
Park Corner. A vote took place, and three times over he
took down the names. He was against removal, but was
unable to have his own way over the majority. Members of
the government thought themselves curiously free to walk
out from divisions. On a Transvaal division two members
of the cabinet abstained, and so did two other ministers out
of the cabinet. In other cases, the same thing happened,
not only breaking discipline, but breeding much trouble with
the Queen. Then an unusual number of men of ability and
of a degree of self-esteem not below their ability, had been
left out of the inner circle ; and they and their backers were
sometimes apt to bring their pretensions rather fretfully
forward. These were the things that to Mr. Gladstone's
temperament proved more harassing than graver concerns.

II

All through the first two months of its business, the
House showed signs of independence that almost broke the
spirit of the ministerial whips. A bill about hares and
rabbits produced lively excitement, ministerialists moved
amendments upon the measure of their own leaders, and the
minister in charge boldly taxed the mutineers with in-



6 OPENING DAYS OF THE NEW PARLIAMENT

BOOK sincerity. A motion for local option was carried by 229 to
VIIL ^ 203, both Mr. Gladstone and Lord Hartington in the minority.
1880. On a motion about clerical restrictions, only a strong and
conciliatory appeal from the prime minister averted defeat.
A more remarkable demonstration soon followed. The
Prince Imperial, unfortunate son of unfortunate sire, who
had undergone his famous baptism of fire in the first
reverses among the Vosges in the Franco-German war of
1870, was killed in our war in Zululand. Parliament was
asked to sanction a vote of money for a memorial of him in
the Abbey. A radical member brought forward a motion
against it. Both Mr. Gladstone and Sir Stafford Northcote
resisted him, yet by a considerable majority the radical carried
his point. The feeling was so strong among the ministeri-
alists, that notwithstanding Mr. Gladstone's earnest exhorta-
tion, they voted almost to a man against him, and he only
carried into the lobby ten official votes on the treasury bench.
The great case in which the government were taken to
have missed the import of the election was the failure to
recall Sir Bartle Frere from South Africa. Of this I shall
have enough to say by and by. Meanwhile it gave an
undoubted shock to the confidence of the party, and their
energetic remonstrance on this head strained Mr. Gladstone's
authority to the uttermost. The Queen complained of the
tendency of the House of Commons to trench upon the
business of the executive. Mr. Gladstone said in reply
generally, that no doubt within the half century 'there
had been considerable invasion by the House of Commons
of the province assigned by the constitution to the executive/
but he perceived no increase in recent times or in the pre-
sent House. Then he proceeded (June 8, 1880) :

. . . Your Majesty may possibly have in view the pressure which
has been exercised on the present government in the case of Sir
Bartle Frere. But apart from the fact that this pressure represents
a feeling which extends far beyond the walls of parliament, your
Majesty may probably remember that, in the early part of 1835,
the House of Commons addressed the crown against the appoint-
ment of Lord Londonderry to be ambassador at St. Petersburg, on



AN INDEPENDENT HOUSE OF COMMONS

account, if Mr. Gladstone remembers rightly, of a general ante- CHAP,
cedent disapproval. This was an exercise of power going far
beyond what has happened now; nor does it seem easy in
principle to place the conduct of Sir B. Frere beyond that general
right of challenge and censure which is unquestionably within the
function of parliament and especially of the House of Commons.

In the field where mastery had never failed him, Mr. Glad-
stone achieved an early success, and he lost no time in justi-
fying his assumption of the exchequer. The budget (June
10) was marked by the boldness of former days, and was
explained and defended in one of those statements of which
he alone possessed the secret. Even unfriendly witnesses
agreed that it was many years since the House of Commons
had the opportunity of enjoying so extraordinary an intel-
lectual treat, where ' novelties assumed the air of indisputable
truths, and complicated figures were woven into the thread
of intelligible and animated narrative.' He converted the
malt tax into a beer duty, reduced the duties on light
foreign wines, added a penny to the income tax, and adjusted
the licence duties for the sale of alcoholic liquors. Every-
body said that 'none but a cordon bleu could have made
such a sauce with so few materials.' The dish was excel-
lently received, and the ministerial party were in high
spirits. The conservatives stood angry and amazed that
their own leaders had found no device for the repeal of
the malt duty. The farmer's friends, they cried, had been
in office for six years and had done nothing; no sooner
is Gladstone at the exchequer than with magic wand he
effects a transformation, and the long-suffering agriculturist
has justice and relief.

In the course of an effort that seemed to show full vigour
of body and mind, Mr. Gladstone incidentally mentioned that
when a new member he recollected hearing a speech upon the
malt tax in the old House of Commons in the year 1833. Yet
the lapse of nearly half a century of life in that great arena
had not relaxed his stringent sense of parliamentary duty.
During most of the course of this first session, he was always
early in his place and always left late. In every discussion



8 OPENING DAYS OF THE NEW PARLIAMENT

BOOK he came to the front, and though an under-secretary made
' ' the official reply, it was the prime minister who wound up.



1880. Q ne night he m ade no fewer than six speeches, touching all
the questions raised in a miscellaneous night's sitting.

In the middle of the summer Mr. Gladstone fell ill.
Consternation reigned in London. It even exceeded the
dismay caused by the defeat at Maiwand. A friend went to
see him as he lay in bed. ' He talked most of the time, not
on politics, but on Shakespeare's Henry vin., and the decay
of theological study at Oxford. He never intended his
reform measure to produce this result.' After his recovery,
he went for a cruise in the Grantully Castle, not returning
to parliament until September 4, three days before the
session ended, when he spoke with all his force on the
eastern question.

in

In the electoral campaign Mr. Gladstone had used expres-
sions about Austria that gave some offence at Vienna. On
coming into power he volunteered an assurance to the
Austrian ambassador that he would willingly withdraw his
language if he understood that he had misapprehended the
circumstances. The ambassador said that Austria meant
strictly to observe the treaty of Berlin. Mr. Gladstone then
expressed his regret for the words ' of a painful and wounding
character ' that had fallen from him. At the time, he ex-
plained, he was ' in a position of greater freedom and less
responsibility.'

At the close of the session of 1880, ministers went to work
upon the unfulfilled portions of the Berlin treaty relating to
Greece and Montenegro. Those stipulations were positive in
the case of Montenegro ; as to Greece they were less definite,
but they absolutely implied a cession of more or less territory
by Turkey. They formed the basis of Lord Salisbury's cor-
respondence, but his arguments and representations were
without effect.

Mr. Gladstone and his colleagues went further. They pro-
posed and obtained a demonstration off the Albanian coast
on behalf of Montenegro. Each great Power sent a man-of-
war, but the concert of Europe instantly became what Mr.



NAVAL DEMONSTRATION 9

Gladstone called a farce, for Austria and Germany made
known that under no circumstances would they fire a shot.
France rather less prominently took the same course. This
defection, which was almost boastful on the part of Austria
and Germany, convinced the British cabinet that Turkish
obduracy would only be overcome by force, and the question
was how to apply force effectually with the least risk to
peace. As it happened, the port of Smyrna received an
amount of customs' duties too considerable for the Porte to
spare it. The idea was that the united fleet at Cattaro should
straightway sail to Smyrna and lay hold upon it. The
cabinet, with experts from the two fighting departments,
weighed carefully all the military responsibilities, and con-
sidered the sequestration of the customs' dues at Smyrna to
be practicable. Russia and Italy were friendly. France had
in a certain way assumed special cognizance of the Greek
case, but did nothing particular. From Austria and
Germany nothing was to be hoped. On October 4, the
Sultan refused the joint European request for the fulfilment
of the engagements entered into at Berlin. This refusal was
despatched in ignorance of the intention to coerce. The
British government had only resolved upon coercion in
concert with Europe. Full concert was now out of the
question. But on the morning of Sunday, the 10th, Mr.
Gladstone and Lord Granville learned with as much surprise
as delight from Mr. Goschen, then ambassador extraordinary
at Constantinople, that the Sultan had heard of the British
proposal of force, and apparently had not heard of the two
refusals. On learning how far England had gone, he deter-
mined to give way on both the territorial questions. As Mr.
Gladstone enters in his diary, ' a faint tinge of doubt
remained.' That is to say, the Sultan might find out the
rift in the concert and retract. Russia, however, had actually
agreed to force. On Tuesday, the 12th, Mr. Gladstone, meet-
ing Lord Granville and another colleague, was 'under the
circumstances prepared to proceed en trois.' The other two
'rather differed.' Of course it would have been for the
whole cabinet to decide. But between eleven and twelve
Lord Granville came in with the news that the note had
arrived and all was well. ' The whole of this extraordinary




10 OPENING DAYS OF THE NEW PARLIAMENT

BOOK volte-face/ as Mr. Gladstone said with some complacency,
' . ' had been effected within six days ; and it was entirely due

1880. nO O a threat of coercion from Europe, but to the know-
ledge that Great Britain had asked Europe to coerce.'
Dulcigno was ceded by the Porte to Montenegro. On the
Greek side of the case, the minister for once was less
ardent than for the complete triumph of his heroic Monte-
negrins, but after tedious negotiations Mr. Gladstone had
the satisfaction of seeing an important rectification of the
Greek frontier, almost restoring his Homeric Greece. The
eastern question looked as if it might fall into one of
its fitful slumbers once more, but we shall soon see that
this was illusory. Mr. Goschen left Constantinople in May,
and the prime minister said to him (June 3, 1881) :

I write principally for the purpose of offering you my hearty
congratulations on the place you have taken in diplomacy by force
of mind and character, and on the services which, in thus far ser-
ving the most honourable aims a man can have, you have rendered
to liberty and humanity.

Only in Afghanistan was there a direct reversal of the
policy of the fallen government. The new cabinet were not
long in deciding on a return to the older policy in respect
of the north-west frontier of India. All that had happened
since it had been abandoned, strengthened the case against
the new departure. The policy that had been pursued
amid so many lamentable and untoward circumstances,
including the destruction of a very gallant agent of Eng-
land at Cabul, had involved the incorporation of Candahar
within the sphere of the Indian system. Mr. Gladstone
and his cabinet determined on the evacuation of Candahar.
The decision was made public in the royal speech of the
following January (1881). Lord Hartington stated the case
of the government with masterly and crushing force, in a
speech, 1 which is no less than a strong text-book of the
whole argument, if any reader should now desire to compre-
hend it. The evacuation was censured in the Lords by 165
against 79 ; in the Commons ministers carried the day by a
majority of 120.

1 March 25-6, 1881.



AN EPISODE IN TOLERATION

(1880-1883)

THE state in choosing men to serve it, takes no notice of their
opinions ; if they be willing faithfully to serve it, that satisfies.
. . . Take heed of being sharp, or too easily sharpened by others,
against those to whom you can object little but that they square
not with you in every opinion concerning matters of religion.

OLIVER CROMWELL.

ONE discordant refrain rang hoarsely throughout the five CHAP.

years of this administration, and its first notes were heard , ^

even before Mr. Gladstone had taken his seat. It drew him ^ T - 71-



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