"But an establishment that neither does nor has her hope of doing work, except for a few, and those few the portion of the community whose claims to public aid is the smallest of all; an establishment severed from the mass of the people by an impassable gulf and a wall of brass; an establishment whose good offices, could she offer them, would be intercepted by a long, unbroken chain of painful and shameful recollections; an establishment leaning for support upon the extraneous aid of a State, which becomes discredited with the people by the very act of leading it; such an establishment will do well for its own sake, and for the sake of its creed, to divest itself, as soon as may be, of gauds and trappings, and to commence a new career, in which renouncing at once the credit and the discredit of the civil sanction, and shall seek its strength from within and put a fearless trust in the message that it bears."
Such, then, were the reasons that led the defender of the Irish Church to become its assailant, "That a man should change his opinions is no reproach to him; it is only inferior minds that are never open to conviction."
Mr. Gladstone is a firm Anglican, as we have seen, but the following extract from his address made at the Liverpool College, in December, 1872, gives a fine insight as to the breadth of his Christian sentiments:
"Not less forcibly than justly, you hear much to the effect that the divisions among Christians render it impossible to say what Christianity is, and so destroy all certainty as to the true religion. But if the divisions among Christians are remarkable, not less so is their unity in the greatest doctrines that they hold. Well-nigh fifteen hundred years have passed away since the great controversies concerning the Deity and the person of the Redeemer were, after a long agony, determined. As before that time, in a manner less defined but adequate for their day, so, even since that time, amid all chance and change, more—aye, many more—than ninety-nine in every hundred Christians have, with one voice, confessed the Deity and incarnation of our Lord as the cardinal and central truth of our religion. Surely there is some comfort here, some sense of brotherhood; some glory due to the past, some hope for the times that are to come."
Mr. Gladstone as Prime Minister of England, during his several administrations, has had a large Church patronage to dispense, in other words, has been called upon, by virtue of his office, to till many vacancies in the Established Church, but it has been truly testified that 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 rumored that he intended to recommend Dr. Benson, the present Archbishop, 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 favor? for, if he had been a worldly man or self-seeker he would not have done anything so imprudent."
Mr. Gladstone sympathized more or less with the Nonconformists struggling against the application of university tests and other disabilities from which the Dissenters suffered, but it was not until 1876 that he really discovered the true religions work of the English Nonconformists. The manner in which the Congregationalists, Baptists, Quakers and others rallied to the standard raised in the cause of Bulgarian nationality effected a great change in his attitude towards his Dissenting fellow countrymen. He entertained many of the representative 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. Doellinger whilst that learned divine was discussing with him the question of Church and State. Dr. Doellinger was expressing his surprise that Mr. Gladstone could possibly coquette 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. Doellinger'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. Doellinger's face showed the wide difference between the standpoint of the politician and the ecclesiastic. But Mr. Gladstone knew upon whom to rely in the hour of need, when great moral issues were at stake. The Bishops of the House of Lords had not always done their duty. Lord Shaftesbury, himself a very ardent Churchman, wrote, June 16, 1855, in reference to the Religious Worship Bill: "The Bishops have exhibited great ignorance, bigotry and opposition to evangelical life and action, and have seriously injured their character, influence and position."
Mr. Gladstone never displayed more marked respect for the "Nonconformist conscience" than when, in deference to their earnest appeal, he risked the great split in the Home Rule ranks that followed his repudiation of Mr. Parnell. Mr. Gladstone never hesitated or made the slightest pretense about the matter. If the Nonconformists had been as indifferent as the Churchmen, his famous letter about the Irish leadership would not 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 some instinct divined the inevitable."
Mr. Gladstone's religious belief, as well as his opinion of the Bible and the plan of salvation revealed in the Gospel, are manifest as expressed in the following words from his pen:
"If asked what is the remedy for the deeper sorrows of the human heart—what a man should chiefly look to in his progress through life as the power that is to sustain him under trials and enable him manfully to confront his afflictions—I must point him to something which, in a well-known hymn is called 'the old, old story,' told of in an old, old book, and taught with an old, old teaching, which is the greatest and best gift ever given to mankind."
Another may read the lessons on the Lord's day in Hawarden Church and write and speak in defense of the Established Church of England, but Mr. Gladstone did more—he put his trust in his Lord and Saviour, and believed in his word. Mr. Gladstone was denominationally a member of the Episcopal Church, but religiously he held to views commonly held by all Evangelical Christians, from which the temptations of wealth at home, of college and of politics never turned him.
TRAVELS AND MARRIAGE
Mr. Gladstone spent the winter of 1838-9 in Rome. The physicians had recommended travel in the south of Europe for his health and particularly for his eyes, the sight of which had become impaired by hard reading in the preparation of his book. He had given up lamps and read entirely by candle-light with injurious results. He was joined at Rome by his friend, Henry Manning, afterwards Cardinal, and in company they visited Monsignor, afterwards Cardinal, Wiseman, at the English College, on the feast of St. Thomas of Canterbury. They attended solemn mass in honor of that Saint, and the places in the missal were found for them by a young student of the college, named Grant, who afterwards became Bishop of Southwark.
Besides visiting Italy he explored Sicily, and kept a journal of his tour. Sicily is a beautiful and fertile island in the Mediterranean Sea, and is the granary of Rome. His recorded observations show the keenness of his perceptions and the intensity with which he enjoyed the beautiful and wonderful in nature.
Mount Etna, the greatest volcano of Europe, and which rises 10,000 feet above the sea, stirred his soul greatly, and he made an ascent of the mountain at the beginning of the great eruption of 1838. Etna has many points of interest for all classes of scientific men, and not least for the student of arboriculture. It bears at the height of 4000 feet above the level of the sea a wonderful growth—a very large tree—which is claimed by some to be the oldest tree in the world. It is a venerable chestnut, and known as "the father of the forest." It is certainly one of the most remarkable as well as celebrated of trees. It consists not of one vast trunk, but of a cluster of smaller decayed trees or portions of trees growing in a circle, each with a hollow trunk of great antiquity, covered with ferns or ivy, and stretching out a few gnarled branches with scanty foliage. That it is one tree seems to be evident from the growth of the bark only on the outside. It is said that excavations about the roots of the tree showed these various stems to be united at a very small depth below the surface of the ground. It still bears rich foliage and much small fruit, though the heart of the trunk is decayed, and a public road leads through it wide enough for two coaches to drive abreast. Travelers have differed in their measurements of this stupendous growth. Admiral Smyth, who takes the lowest estimate, giving 163 feet, and Brydone giving, as the highest, 204 feet. In the middle of the cavity a hut is built, for the accommodation of those who collect and preserve the chestnuts. One of the Queens of Arragon is reported to have taken shelter in this tree, with her mounted suite of one hundred persons; but, "we may, perhaps, gather from this that mythology is not confined to the lower latitudes."
Further up the mountain is another venerable chestnut, which, with more reason, probably, may be described without fear of contradiction as the largest chestnut tree in the world. It rises from one solid stem to a remarkable height before it branches. At an elevation of two feet from the earth its circumference was found by Brydone to be seventy-six feet. These trees are reputed to have flourished for much more than a thousand years. Their luxuriant growth is attributed in part to the humid atmosphere of the Bosco, elevated above the scorching, arid region of the coast, and in part to the great richness of the soil. The luxuriance of the vegetation on the slopes of Etna attracts the attention of every traveler; and Mr. Gladstone remarked upon this point: "It seems as though the finest of all soils were produced from the most agonizing throes of nature, as the hardiest characters are often reared amidst the severest circumstances. The aspect of this side of Sicily is infinitely more active and the country is cultivated as well as most parts of Italy."
He and his party started on the 30th of October, and found the path nearly uniform from Catania, but the country bore a volcanic aspect at every step. At Nicolosi their rest was disturbed by the distant booming of the mountain. From this point to the Bosco the scenery is described as a dreary region, but the tract of the wood showed some beautiful places resembling an English park, with old oaks and abundant fern. "Here we found flocks browsing; they are much exposed to sheep-stealers, who do not touch travelers, calculating with justice that men do not carry much money to the summit of Etna." The party passed the Casa degli Inglesi, which registered a temperature of 31 deg., and then continued the ascent on foot for the crater. A magnificent view of sunrise was here obtained.
"Just before we reached the lip of the crater the guide exultingly pointed out what he declared to be ordinarily the greatest sight of the mountain, namely, the shadow of the cone of Etna, drawn with the utmost delicacy by the newly-risen sun, but of gigantic extent; its point at this moment rested on the mountains of Palermo, probably one hundred miles off, and the entire figure was visible, the atmosphere over the mountains having become and continuing perfectly and beautifully transparent, although in the hundreds of valleys which were beneath us, from the east to the west of Sicily, and from the mountains of Messina down to Cape Passaro, there were still abundant vapors waiting for a higher sun to disperse them; but we enjoyed in its perfection this view of the earliest and finest work of the greater light of heaven, in the passage of his beams over this portion of the earth's surface. During the hour we spent on the summit, the vision of the shadow was speedily contracting, and taught us how rapid is the real rise of the sun in the heavens, although its effect is diminished to the eye by a kind of foreshortening."
The writer next describes in vivid and powerful language the scene presented to the view at the very mouth of the crater. A large space, one mile in circumference, which a few days before had been one fathomless pit, from which issued masses of smoke, was now absolutely filled up to within a few feet of the brim all round. A great mass of lava, a portion of the contents of this immense pit, was seen to detach itself by degrees from one behind. "It opened like an orange, and we saw the red-hot fibres stretch in a broader and still broader vein, until the mass had found a support on the new ground it occupied in front; as we came back on our way down this had grown black." A stick put to it took fire immediately. Within a few yards of this lava bed were found pieces of ice, formed on the outside of the stones by Frost, "which here disputes every inch of ground with his fierce rival Fire."
Mr. Gladstone and his fellow-travelers were the first spectators of the great volcanic action of this year. From the highest peak attainable the company gazed upon the splendid prospect to the east spread out before them, embracing the Messina Mountains and the fine kindred outline of the Calabrian coast, described by Virgil in the third book of the Aeneid. Mr. Gladstone graphically describes the eruption which took place and of which he was the enraptured witness. Lava masses of 150 to 200 pounds weight were thrown to a distance of probably a mile and a half; smaller ones to a distance even more remote. The showers were abundant and continuous, and the writer was impressed by the closeness of the descriptions in Virgil with the actual reality of the eruption witnessed by himself. On this point he observes:
"Now how faithfully has Virgil (Ae. iii, 571, et seq.) comprised these particulars, doubtless without exaggeration, in his fine description! First, the thunder-clap, or crack—
'Horrificis juxta tonat Aetna ruinis.'
Secondly, the vibration of the ground to the report—
'Et, fessum quoties mutet latus, intremere omnem Murmure Trinacriam.'
Thirdly, the sheet of flame—
'Attolitque globos flarmmarum, et sidera lambit.'
Fourthly, the smoke—
'Et coelum subtexere fumo.'
Fifthly, the fire shower—
'Scopulos avulsaque viscera montis Erigit erucatans, liquefactaque saxa sub auras Cum gemitu glomerat, fundoque exae tuat imo.'
Sixthly the column of ash—
'Atram prorumpit ad aethera nubem Turbine fumantem piceo et candente favilla.'
And this is within the limits of twelve lines. Modern poetry has its own merits, but the conveyance of information is not, generally speaking, one of them. What would Virgil have thought of authors publishing poems with explanatory notes (to illustrate is a different matter), as if they were so many books of conundrums? Indeed this vice is of very late years."
The entire description, of which this is but an extract, is very effective and animated, and gives with great vividness the first impressions of a mind susceptible to the grand and imposing aspects of nature.
"After Etna," says Mr. Gladstone in his diary, "the temples are certainly the great charm and attraction of Sicily. I do not know whether there is any one among them which, taken alone, exceeds in beauty that of Neptune, at Paestum; but they have the advantage of number and variety, as well as of highly interesting positions. At Segesta the temple is enthroned in a perfect mountain solitude, and it is like a beautiful tomb of its religion, so stately, so entire; while around, but for one solitary house of the keeper, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, to disturb the apparent reign of Silence and of Death.... The temples enshrine a most pure and salutary principle of art, that which connects grandeur of effect with simplicity of detail; and, retaining their beauty and their dignity in their decay, they represent the great man when fallen, as types of that almost highest of human qualities—silent yet not sullen, endurance."
While sojourning at Rome Mr. Gladstone met Lord Macaulay. Writing home from Rome in the same year, Lord Macaulay says: "On Christmas Eve I found Gladstone in the throng, and I accosted him, as we had met, though we had never been introduced to each other. He received my advances with very great empressement indeed, and we had a good deal of pleasant talk." And again he writes: "I enjoyed Italy immensely; far more than I had expected. By-the-by, I met Gladstone at Rome. We talked and walked together in St. Peter's during the best part of an afternoon. He is both a clever and an amiable man."
Among the visitors at Rome the winter that Mr. Gladstone spent in the eternal city were the widow and daughters of Sir Stephen Richard Glynne, of Hawarden Castle, Flintshire, Wales. He had already made the acquaintance of these ladies, having been a friend of Lady Glynne's eldest son at Oxford, and having visited him at Hawarden in 1835. He was thrown much into their society while at Rome, and became engaged to the elder of Lady Glynne's daughters, Catharine Glynne. It is strange to relate that some time before this when Miss Glynne met her future husband at a dinner-party, an English minister sitting next to her had thus drawn her attention to Mr. Gladstone: "Mark that young man; he will yet be Prime Minister of England." Miss Glynne and her sister were known as "the handsome Miss Glynnes."
William E. Gladstone and Catharine Glynne were married July 25, 1839, at Hawarden Castle. At the same time and place Miss Mary Glynne was married to George William, fourth Lord Lyttleton, with whom Mr. Gladstone was on the most intimate terms of friendship until his lordship's untoward and lamented death. The brother of these ladies was Sir Stephen Glynne, the then owner of Hawarden. Mrs. Gladstone was "in her issue heir" of Sir Stephen Glynne, who was ninth and last baronet of that name.
The marriage ceremony has been thus described by an eye-witness:
"For some time past the little town of Hawarden has been in a state of excitement in consequence of the anticipated nuptials of the two sisters of Sir Stephen Glynne, Bart., M.P., who have been engaged for some time past to Lord Lyttelton and to Mr. W. Ewart Gladstone. Thursday last (July 25th) was fixed upon for the ceremony to take place; but in consequence of the Chartists having attacked Lord Lyttelton's mansion in Worcestershire, it was feared that the marriage would be delayed. All anxieties on this subject were put an end to by orders being issued to make ready for the ceremony, and the Hawarden folks lost no time in making due preparations accordingly. The church was elegantly and profusely decorated with laurels, while extremely handsome garlands, composed of the finest flowers, were suspended from the venerable roof. About half-past ten a simultaneous rising of the assembled multitude and the burst of melody from the organ announced that the fair brides had arrived, and all eyes were turned towards the door to witness the bridal cortege. In a few minutes more the party arrived at the communion table and the imposing ceremony commenced. At this period the coup d'oeil was extremely interesting. The bridal party exhibited every elegance of costume; while the dresses of the multitude, lit up by the rays of a brilliant sunlight, filled up the picture. The Rev. the Hon. G. Neville performed the ceremony. At its conclusion the brides visited the rectory, whence they soon afterwards set out—Lord and Lady Lyttelton to their seat in Worcestershire, and Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone on a visit to Sir Richard Brooke, Norton Priory Mansion, in Cheshire. The bridal party having returned to the castle, the good folks of Hawarden filled up the day with rambling over Sir Stephen Glynne's delightful park, to which free access was given to all comers; and towards evening a dance on the green was got up."
It is to be remarked that by his marriage Mr. Gladstone became allied with the house of Grenville, a family of statesmen, which, directly or in its ramifications, had already supplied England with four Prime Ministers. Baron Bunsen, who made his acquaintance that year, writes that he "was delighted with the man who is some day to govern England if his book is not in the way."
Mrs. Gladstone is widely and deservedly known for her many philanthropic enterprises, but even better, perhaps, has proved herself to be a noble and devoted wife and mother. She has cheered by her sympathy her illustrious husband in his defeats as well as in his triumphs, in the many great undertakings of his political career, and been to him all the late Viscountess Beaconsfield was to Mr. Gladstone's Parliamentary rival. As a mother, she nursed and reared all her children, and ever kept them in the maternal eye, carefully watching over and tending them. One of the most interesting buildings at Hawarden is Mrs. Gladstone's orphanage, which stands close to the castle. Here desolate orphans are well cared for, and find, until they are prepared to enter on the conflict and to encounter the cares of life, a happy home.
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, Mr. Gladstone seriously took in hand the tuition of his handsome young wife in book-keeping, 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 labor 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.
The union of Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone has been blessed by eight children, all of whom save two still survive. There were four sons, the eldest, William Henry, was a member of the Legislature, and the second, the Rev. Stephen Edward Gladstone, is rector of Hawarden. The third son is named Henry Neville and the fourth Herbert John Gladstone. The former is engaged in commerce and the latter is the popular member for Leeds. The eldest daughter, Anne, is married to Rev. E.C. Wickham, A.M., headmaster of Wellington College; and the second, Catharine Jessy Gladstone, died in 1850; the third daughter, Mary, is married to Rev. W. Drew, and the fourth, Helen Gladstone, is principal of Newnham College. As Sir John Gladstone had the pleasure of seeing his son William Ewart become a distinguished member of Parliament, so Mr. Gladstone in his turn was able to witness his eldest son take his seat in the British Senate.
It was a sad bereavement when the Gladstones were called upon to part with their little daughter, Catharine Jessy, April 9, 1850, between four and five years old. Her illness was long and painful, and Mr. Gladstone bore his part in the nursing and watching. He was tenderly fond of his little children and the sorrow had therefore a peculiar bitterness. But Mr. Gladstone has since had another sad experience of death entering the family circle. July 4, 1891, the eldest son, William Henry Gladstone, died. The effect upon the aged father was greatly feared, and the world sympathized with the great statesman and father in his sad trial, and with the afflicted family. In a letter dated July 9, the day after the interment, Mr. Gladstone wrote:
"We, in our affliction are deeply sensible of the mercies of God. He gave us for fifty years a most precious son. He has now only hidden him for a very brief space from the sight of our eyes. It seems a violent transition from such thoughts to the arena of political contention, but the transition may be softened by the conviction we profoundly hold that we, in the first and greatest of our present controversies, work for the honor, well-being and future peace of our opponents not less than for our own."
When away from the trammels of office, Mr. Gladstone taught his elder children Italian. All the sons went to Eton and Oxford, and the daughters were educated at home by English, French and German governesses. A close union of affection and sentiment has always been a marked characteristic of this model English family. Marriage and domestic cares, however, made little difference in Mr. Gladstone's mode of life. He was still the diligent student, the constant debater and the copious writer that he had been at Eton, at Oxford and in the Albany.
In the early days of their married life, Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone lived in London with Lady Glynne, at 13 Carlton House Terrace. Later they lived at 6 Carlton Gardens, which was made over to them by Sir John Gladstone; then again at 13 Carlton House Terrace; and when Mr. Gladstone was in office, at the official residence of the Prime Minister, Downing Street. In 1850 Mr. Gladstone succeeded to his patrimony, and in 1856 he bought 11 Carlton House Terrace, which was his London house for twenty years; and he subsequently lived for four years at 73 Harley Street. During the parliamentary recess Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone divided their time between Fasque, Sir John Gladstone's seat in Kincardineshire, and Hawarden Castle, which they shared with Mrs. Gladstone's brother, Sir Stephen Glynne, till in his death in 1874, when it passed into their sole possession. In 1854 Mrs. Gladstone's brother added to the castle a new wing, which he especially dedicated to his illustrious brother-in-law, and which is fondly known as "The Gladstone Wing." And Mr. Gladstone, having only one country house, probably spent as much time at Hawarden as any other minister finds it possible to devote to residence out of London.
Hawarden, usually pronounced Harden, is the name of a large market-town, far removed from the centre and seat of trade and empire, in Flintshire, North Wales, six miles southwest from the singular and ancient city of Chester, of which it may be called a suburb. It is not pretty, but a clean and tolerably well-built place, with some good houses and the usual characteristics of a Welsh village. The public road from Chester to Hawarden, which passes by the magnificent seat of the Duke of Westminster, is not, except for this, interesting to the stranger. There is a pedestrian route along the banks of the river Dee, over the lower ferry and across the meadows. But for the most part the way lies along dreary wastes, unadorned by any of the beautiful landscape scenery so common in Wales. Broughton Hall, its pleasant church and quiet churchyard, belonging to the Hawarden estate, are passed on the way. The village lies at the foot of the Castle, and outside of the gates of Hawarden Park. The parish contains 13,000 acres, and of these the estate of Mr. Gladstone consists of nearly 7000. The road from the village for the most part is dreary, but within the gates the park is as beautiful as it is extensive. Richly wooded, on both sides of its fine drive are charming vistas opening amongst the oaks, limes and elms. On the height to the left of the drive is the ancient Hawarden Castle, for there are two—the old and the new—the latter being the more modern home of the proprietor.
The ancient Castle of Hawarden, situated on an eminence commanding an extensive prospect, is now in ruins. What, however, was left of the old Castle at the beginning of the century stands to-day a monument of the massive work of the early masons. The remnant, which ages of time and the Parliamentary wars and the strange zeal of its first owner under Cromwell for its destruction, allowed to remain, is in a marvelous state of preservation, and the masonry in some places fifteen feet thick. There is a grandeur in the ruin to be enjoyed, as well as a scene of beauty from its towers. The old Castle, like the park itself, is open to the public without restriction. Only two requests are made in the interests of good order. One is that visitors entering the park kindly keep to the gravel walks, while the other is that they do not inscribe their names on the stone-work of the ancient ruin, which request has been unheeded.
This ancient Castle was doubtless a stronghold of the Saxons in very early times, for it was found in the possession of Edwin of Mercia at the Norman Conquest, and was granted by William the Conqueror to his nephew, Hugh Lupus. In later times Prince Llewelyn was Lord of Hawarden, of which he was dispossessed by his brother, David. It was only after Wales was conquered that Hawarden became an English stronghold, held against the Welsh.
The Castle had its vicissitudes, both as to its condition and proprietorship, for many years, even generations. Somewhere between 1267 and 1280 the Castle had been destroyed and rebuilt. It was rebuilt in the time of Edward I or Edward II, and formed one link in the chain by which the Edwards held the Welsh to their loyalty. Its name appears in the doomsday-book, where it is spelled Haordine. It was presented by King Edward to the House of Salisbury. Then the Earls of Derby came into possession, and they entertained within its walls Henry VII in the latter part of the fifteenth century. During the Parliamentary wars it was held at first for the Parliament, and was taken by siege in 1643. The royalists were in possession two years later, and at Christmas time, in 1645, Parliament ordered that the Castle be dismantled, which was effectively done. The latest proprietor of those times was James, Earl of Derby. He was executed and the estates were sold. They were purchased by Sergeant Glynne, Lord Chief Justice of England under Cromwell, from whom in a long line of descent they were inherited, upon the death of the last baronet, Sir Stephen Glynne, in 1874, by the wife of William E. Gladstone. Sergeant Glynne's son, Sir William, the first baronet, when he came into possession, was seized with the unaccountable notion of further destroying the old Castle, and by the end of the seventeenth century very little remained beyond what stands to-day.
Hawarden is supposed to be synonymous with the word Burg-Ardden, Ardin, a fortified mound or hill. It is usually supposed to be an English word, but of Welsh derivation, and is no doubt related to dinas, in Welsh the exact equivalent to the Saxon burg. The Welsh still call it Penarlas, a word the etymology of which points to a period when the lowlands of Saltney were under water, and the Castle looked over a lake. The earlier history of the Castle goes back to the time when it was held by the ancient Britons, and stood firm against Saxon, Dane, or whatever invading foe sought to deprive the people of their heritage in the soil. On the invasion of William, as we have seen, it was in the possession of Edwin, sovereign of Deira. "We find it afterwards," says another account, "in the possession of Roger Fitzvalarine, a son of one of the adventurers who came over with the Conqueror. Then it was held, subordinately, by the Monthault, or Montalt, family, the stewards of the palatinate of Chester. It is remarkable, as we noticed in our story of Hughenden Manor, that as the traditions of that ancient place touched the memory of Simon de Montfort, the great Earl of Leicester, so do they also in the story of the old Castle of Hawarden. Here Llewelyn, the last native prince of Wales, held a memorable conference with the Earl. With in the walls of Hawarden was signed the treaty of peace between Wales and Cheshire, not long to last; here Llewelyn saw the beautiful daughter of De Montfort, whose memory haunted him so tenderly and so long. Again we find the Castle in the possession of the Montalt family, from whom it descended to the Stanleys, the Earl of Derby.... Here the last native princes of Wales, Llewelyn and David, attempted to grasp their crumbling sceptre, Here no doubt halted Edward I, 'girt with many a baron bold;' here the Tudor prince, Henry VII, of Welsh birth, visited in the later years of the fifteenth century; and this was the occasion upon which it passed into the family whose representatives had proclaimed him monarch on Bosworth field. But when James, Earl of Derby, was beheaded, after the battle of Worcester, in 1651, the estate was purchased under the Sequestration Act by Sergeant Glynne, whose portrait hangs over the mantleshelf of the drawing-room; 'but,' says Mrs. Gladstone, in calling our attention to it, 'he is an ancestor of whom we have no occasion to be and are not proud.'"
This remark of Mrs. Gladstone's may be explained by the following from the pen of a reputable author: "Sergeant Glynne, who flourished (literally flourished) during the seventeenth century, was a most unscrupulous man in those troubled times. He was at first a supporter of Charles I, then got office and preferment under Cromwell, and yet again, like a veritable Vicar of Bray, became a Royalist on the return of Charles II. The Earl of Derby, who was taken prisoner at the battle of Worcester, in 1661, was executed, and his estates forfeited. Of these estates Sergeant Glynne managed to get possession of Hawarden; and though on the Restoration all Royalists' forfeited estates were ordered to be restored, Glynne managed somehow to remain in possession of the property."
It is very probable that Hawarden Castle was no exception to those cruel haunts of feudal tyranny and oppression belonging to the days of its power. Many years ago, when the rubbish was cleared away beneath the Castle ruin, a flight of steps was found, at the foot of which was a door, and a draw-bridge, which crossed a long, deep chasm, neatly faced with freestone; then another door leading to several small rooms, all, probably, places of confinement; and those hollows, now fringed with timber trees, in those days constituted a broad, deep fosse.
The old Hawarden Castle, a curious ruin covered with moss and ivy, like many other ancient piles of stone in historic England, is a reminder of a past and warlike age, when an Englishman's home had to be a castle to protect him and his family from his enemies. But times have changed for the better, and long immunity from internal foes and invading armies has had its peaceful effects upon the lands and the homes of men. As the grounds of Hawarden show the remarkable cultivation produced by long periods of peaceful toil, so the ancient castle has given way for the modern dwelling, a peaceful abode whose only protecting wall is that with which the law surrounds it.
Modern Hawarden Castle is a castle only in name. The new "Castle" has been the home of the Glynns' for generations, and ever since the marriage of Mr. Gladstone and Miss Glynn has been the dwelling of the Gladstones. Mr. Gladstone has greatly improved the Hawarden estate and the castle has not been overlooked. Among the improvements to the castle may be named the additions to the library and the Golden Wedding Porch.
The new Castle was begun in 1752, by Sir John Glynne, who "created a stout, honest, square, red-brick mansion;" which was added to and altered in the Gothic style in 1814. The Glynnes lived in Oxfordshire till early in the eighteenth century, when they built themselves a small house, which was on the site of the present Castle. The new Hawarden Castle stands in front of the massive ruin of the old Castle, which has looked down on the surrounding country for six centuries. A recent writer speaking of the new structure as a sham Castle, with its plaster and stucco, and imitation turrets, says: "It would not have been surprising if the old Castle had, after the manner of Jewish chivalry, torn its hair of thickly entwined ivy, rent its garments of moss and lichen, and fallen down prostrate, determined forever to shut out the sight of the modern monstrosity."
However, the author somewhat relents and thus describes the modern edifice:
"The aspect of the house is very impressive and imposing, as it first suddenly seems to start upon the view after a long carriage-drive through the noble trees, if not immediately near, but breaking and brightening the view on either hand; yet, within and without, the house seems like its mighty master—not pensive but rural; it does not even breathe the spirit of quiet. Its rooms look active and power-compelling, and we could not but feel that they were not indebted to any of the aesthetic inventions and elegancies of furniture for their charm. Thus we have heard of one visitor pathetically exclaiming, 'Not one dado adorns the walls!' Hawarden is called a Castle, but it has not, either in its exterior or interior, the aspect of a Castle. It is a home; it has a noble appearance as it rises on the elevated ground, near the old feudal ruin which it has superseded, and looks over the grand and forest-like park, the grand pieces of broken ground, dells and hollows, and charming woodlands."
The traditional history of Hawarden Church, as well as that of the Castle, travels back to a very remote antiquity, and is the central point of interest to many a tragedy, and some of a very grotesque character. For instance, for many ages the inhabitants of Hawarden were called "Harden Jews," and for this designation we have the following legendary account. In the year 946, during the reign of Cynan ap Elisap Anarawd, King of Gwynedd North, there was a Christian temple at Harden, and a rood-loft, in which was placed an image of the Virgin Mary, with a very large cross in her hands, which was called "holy rood." During a very hot and dry summer the inhabitants prayed much and ardently for rain, but without any effect. Among the rest, Lady Trowst, wife of Sytsyllt, governor of Harden Castle, went also to pray, when, during this exercise, the holy rood fell upon her head and killed her. Such behavior upon the part of this wooden Virgin could be tolerated no longer. A great tumult ensued in consequence, and it was concluded to try the said Virgin for murder, and the jury not only found her guilty of wilful murder, but of inattention in not answering the prayers of innumerable petitioners. The sentence was hanging, but Span, of Mancot, who was one of the jury, opposed this act saying it was best to drown, since it was rain they prayed for. This was fiercely opposed by Corbin, of the gate, who advised that she should be laid on the sands by the river. So, this being done, the tide carried the lady, floating gently, like another lady, Elaine, upon its soft bosom, and placed her near the walls of Caerleon (now Chester), where she was found next day, says the legend, drowned and dead. Here the inhabitants of Caerleon buried her. Upon this occasion, it is said, the river, which had until then been called the Usk, was changed to Rood Die, or Rood Dee. We need not stay here to analyze some things belonging to locality and etymology, which appear to us somewhat anachronistic and contradictory in this ancient and queer legend.
Hawarden Church is a fairly large structure, externally a plain old brick building with a low tower and a dwarf spire, standing in the midst of a large population of graves. There is preserved in the annals of the Church a list of the rectors of Hawarden as far back as 1180.
About forty years ago a fire broke out in the Church, and when all was over, very little was left of the original structure except the walls. It was restored with great expedition, and was re-opened within the same year. The present building is a restoration to the memory of the immediate ancestor, from whom the estate is derived by the present family. It is the centre of hard, earnest work, done for an exceptionally large parish. But the Church population is occasionally recruited from all the ends of the earth.
It is here that the Gladstone family worship on the plain, uncushioned pew, near the lectern and opposite the pulpit. When the estates came into the hands of the Glynnes the living was bestowed upon a member of the family. The Rector is Rev. Stephen Gladstone, second son of the Premier. He is not a great preacher, but he is quietly earnest and instructive. Mr. Gladstone was up early on Sunday mornings and seldom failed to be in his pew at Church. Crowds filled the Church Sunday, morning and evening, week after week, many of them strangers, to see the Prime Minister of England, and behold him leave his pew and, standing at the reading-desk, go through his part of the service—that of reading the lessons for the day, in this obscure village Church. After church Mr. Gladstone went to the rectory with his family, with his cloak only over his shoulders, when the weather required, and as he walked along the path through the churchyard would bow to the crowds that stood on either side uncovered to greet him as he passed by. The two brothers, until recently, lived at the rectory, and the whole family seemed to live in the most beautiful harmony together.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone attribute much of his health to the fact that he will have his Sabbath to himself and his family, undisturbed by any of the agitations of business, the cares of State, or even the recreations of literature and scholastic study. This profound public regard for the day of rest, whether in London or at Hawarden, awakens a feeling of admiration and puts us in mind of his great predecessor in statesmanship, Cecil, Lord Burleigh, who, when he arrived at Theobalds on a Saturday evening would throw off his cloak or chain of office and exclaim, "Lie there and rest, my good lord treasurer."
One of the main points of interest at the home of Mr. Gladstone is the library. There is not a room in Hawarden Castle in which there is not an abundance of books, which are not all collected in the library, but distributed all over the house. Where other people have cabinets for curiosities, china, etc., there are here shelves and cases full of books. In ante-room and bed-room dressing-room and nursery they are found, not by single volumes, but in serried ranks; well-known and useful books. But it is in the library where Mr. Gladstone has collected by years of careful selection, a most valuable and large array of books, from all parts of the world, upon every subject. These books are classified and so arranged as to be of immediate use. All those on one particular subject are grouped together.
Mr. Gladstone was a familiar figure in the book stores, and especially where rare, old books were to be found, and he seldom failed to return home with some book in his pocket. Mrs. Gladstone is said to have gone through his pockets often upon his return home, and sent back many a volume to the book-seller, that had found its way to the pocket of her husband, after a hasty glance at its title. He kept himself informed of all that was going on in the literary, scientific and artistic worlds, receiving each week a parcel of the newest books for his private readings. Every day he looked over several book-sellers's catalogues, and certain subjects were sure of getting an order.
Hawarden library gave every evidence of being for use, and not show. Mr. Gladstone knew what books he had and was familiar with their contents. Some books were in frequent use, but others were not forgotten. He could put his hand on any one he wanted to refer to. At the end of a volume read he would construct an index of his own by which he could find passages to which he wished to refer.
There are few stories that Mr. Gladstone told with greater relish than one concerning Sir Antonio Panizzi, who many years ago visited the library at Hawarden. Looking round the room and at its closely packed shelves, he observed in a patronizing tone, "I see you have got some books here." Nettled at this seemingly slighting allusion to the paucity of his library, Mr. Gladstone asked Panizzi how many volumes he thought were on the shelves. Panizzi replied: "From five to six thousand." Then a loud and exulting laugh rang round the room as Mr. Gladstone answered: "You are wrong by at least two thousand, as there are eight thousand volumes and more before you now." Since then the library has grown rapidly.
The fate of this large library was naturally a matter of much consideration to Mr. Gladstone. It was particularly rich in classical and theological works, so it occured to its owner to form a public library under a trusteeship, for the benefit of students, under the care of the Rector of Hawarden, or some other clergyman. So he caused to be erected at a cost to him of about $5,000, a corrugated iron building on a knoll just outside Hawarden Church. The name of this parish library is "The St. Deiniol's Theological and General Library of Hawarden." In 1891, Mr. Gladstone had deposited about 20,000 volumes upon the shelves in this new building, with his own hands, which books were carried in hand-carts from the castle. Since that time thousands have been added to this valuable collection.
It was a happy thought of Mr. Gladstone to found a theological library in the immediate vicinity of Hawarden; also to have connected with it a hostel where students could be boarded and lodged for six dollars a week and thus be enabled to use the library in the pursuit of their studies. Mr. Gladstone has endowed the institution with $150,000. Rev. H. Drew, the son-in-law of Mr. Gladstone, is warden and librarian.
ENTERS THE CABINET
We come now to another memorable period in the life of William E. Gladstone. This period, beginning with 1840, has been styled "a memorable decade" in the history of Parliament. His marriage and the publication of his first book were great events in his eventful life, but the young and brilliant statesman was soon to enter the British Cabinet. He was before long to demonstrate that he not only possessed the arts of the fluent and vigorous Parliamentary debater, but the more solid qualities pertaining to the practical statesman and financier. In following his course we will be led to observe the early stages of his changing opinions on great questions of State, and to trace the causes which led to his present advanced views as well as to his exalted position. The estimation in which he was then held may be indicated by the following, from one of his contemporaries, Sir Stafford Northcote, afterwards Lord Iddesleigh, and who subsequently succeeded him as leader of the House of Commons: "There is but one statesman of the present 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 small band collecting round him, and ready to fight manfully under his leading."
In 1840 Mr. Gladstone crossed swords with the distinguished historian and Parliamentary debater, Lord Macaulay, in debate in the House of Commons on the relations of England with China. The speech of Mr. Gladstone was remarkable for its eloquent expression of anxiety that the arms of England should never be employed in unrighteous enterprises. Sir James Graham moved a vote of censure of the ministry for "want of foresight and precaution," and "especially their neglect to furnish the superintendent at Canton with powers and instructions calculated to provide against the growing evils connected with the contraband traffic in opium, and adapted to the novel and difficult situation in which the superintendent was placed." Mr. Gladstone, on the 8th of April, spoke strongly in favor of the motion, and said if it failed to involve the ministry in condemnation they would still be called upon to show cause for their intention of making war upon China. Answering the speech of Lord Macaulay of the previous evening, Mr. Gladstone said: "The right honorable gentleman opposite spoke last night in eloquent terms of the British flag waving in glory at Canton, and of the animating effects produced on the minds of our sailors by the knowledge that in no country under heaven was it permitted to be insulted. But how comes it to pass that the sight of that flag always raises the spirit of Englishmen? It is because it has always been associated with the cause of justice, with opposition to oppression, with respect to national rights, with honorable commercial enterprises; but now, under the auspices of the noble lord, that flag is hoisted to protect an infamous contraband traffic, and if it were never to be hoisted except as it is now hoisted on the coast of China, we should recoil from its sight with horror, and should never again feel our hearts thrill, as they now thrill with emotion, when it floats proudly and magnificently on the breeze." The ministry escaped censure when the vote was taken by a bare majority.
In the summer of 1840 Mr. Gladstone, accompanied by Lord Lyttleton, went to Eton to examine candidates of the Newcastle Scholarship, founded by his political friend, the Duke of Newcastle. Mr. Gladstone had the pleasure in this examination of awarding the Newcastle medal to Henry Fitzmaurice Hallam, the youngest brother of his own beloved friend and son of the historian Hallam. One of the scholars he examined writes: "I have a vivid and delightful impression of Mr. Gladstone sitting in what was then called the library, on an estrade on which the head master habitually sate, above which was placed, about 1840, the bust of the Duke of Newcastle and the names of the Newcastle scholars.... When he gave me a Virgil and asked me to translate Georg. ii, 475, seq., I was pleasantly surprised by the beautiful eye turning on me with the question, 'What is the meaning of sacra fero?' and his look of approval when I said, 'Carry the sacred vessels in the procession.'"
"I wish you to understand that Mr. Gladstone appeared not to me only, but to others, as a gentleman wholly unlike other examiners or school people. It was not as a politician that we admired him, but as a refined Churchman, deep also in political philosophy (so we conjectured from his quoting Burke on the Continual State retaining its identity though made up of passing individuals), deep also in lofty poetry, as we guessed from his giving us, as a theme for original Latin verse, 'the poet's eye in a fine frenzy,' etc. When he spoke to us in 'Pop' as an honorary member, we were charmed and affected emotionally: his voice was low and sweet, his manner was that of an elder cousin: he seemed to treat us with unaffected respect; and to be treated with respect by a man is the greatest delight for a boy. It was the golden time of 'retrograding transcendentalism,' as the hard-heads called the Anglo-Catholic symphony. He seemed to me then an apostle of unworldly ardor, bridling his life."
The Whig administration, which for some time had been growing very unpopular, was defeated and went out of power in 1841. From the very beginning of the session their overthrow was imminent. Among the causes which rendered the ministry obnoxious to the country, and led to their downfall, may be named the disappointment of both their dissenting English supporters and Irish allies; their financial policy had proved a complete failure and dissatisfied the nation; and the deficit in the revenue this year amounted to no less a sum than two millions and a half pounds. Every effort to remedy the financial difficulties offered by the ministry to the House was rejected, Hence it was felt on all sides that the government of the country must be committed to stronger hands. Accordingly, in May, Sir Robert Peel proposed a resolution in the House of Commons to the effect that the ministry did not possess sufficiently the confidence of the House to carry through measures deemed essential for the public welfare; and that their continuance in office was, under the circumstances, at variance with the Constitution, For five days this resolution was discussed, but Mr. Gladstone took no part in the debate. The motion of Sir Robert Peel passed by a majority vote of one, and on the 7th of June Lord John Russell announced that the ministry would at once dissolve Parliament and appeal to the country. Parliament was prorogued by the Queen in person June 22d, and the country was soon in the turmoil of a general election. By the end of July it was found that the ministry had been defeated and with greater loss than the Tories even had expected. The Tories had a great majority of the new members returned. The Liberal seats gained by the Tories were seventy-eight, while the Tory seats gained by Liberals were only thirty-eight, thus making a Tory majority of eighty. Mr. Gladstone was again elected at Newark, and was at the head of the poll; with Lord John Manners, afterwards Duke of Rutland, as his colleague.
The new Parliament met in August, and the ministers were defeated, in both Houses, on the Address and resigned. Sir Robert Peel was called upon by the Queen to form a new ministry, and Mr. Gladstone was included by his leader in the administration. In appearing on the hustings at Newark Mr. Gladstone said that there were two points upon which the British farmer might rely—the first being that adequate protection would be given him, and, second, that protection would be given him through the means of the sliding scale. The duties were to be reduced and the system improved, but the principle was to be maintained. "There was no English statesman who could foresee at this period the results of that extraordinary agitation which, in the course of the next five years, was destined to secure the abrogation of the Corn Laws."
There is a tradition that, having already conceived a lively interest in the ecclesiastical and agrarian problems of Ireland, Mr. Gladstone had set his affections on the Chief Secretaryship. But Sir Robert Peel, a consummate judge of administrative capacity, had discerned his young friend's financial aptitude, and the member for Newark became vice-president of the Board of Trade and master of the Mint.
Although in the midst of engrossing cares of office as vice-president of the Board of Trade, yet Mr. Gladstone found time to renew his old interest in ecclesiastical concerns. In the fall of 1841 an English Episcopal Bishopric was established at Jerusalem, Mr. Gladstone dined with Baron Bunsen on the birthday of the King of Prussia, when, as reported by Lord Shaftesbury, he "stripped himself of a part of his Puseyite garments, spoke like a pious man, rejoiced in the bishopric of Jerusalem, and proposed the health of Alexander, the new Bishop of that see. This is delightful, for he is a good man, a clever man and an industrious man." And Baron Bunsen, speaking of the same occasion, said, "Never was heard a more exquisite speech, It flowed like a gentle, translucent stream. We drove back to town in the clearest starlight; Gladstone continuing with unabated animation to pour forth his harmonious thoughts in melodious tone." And Mr. Gladstone himself writes later; "Amidst public business, quite sufficient for a man of my compass, I have, during the whole of the week, perforce, been carrying on with the Bishop of London and with Bunsen a correspondence on, and inquisition into, the Jerusalem design, until I almost reel and stagger under it."
And still later he writes: "I am ready individually to brave misconstruction for the sake of union with any Christian men, provided the terms of the union be not contrary to sound principle; and perhaps in this respect might go further, at least in one of the possible directions, than you. But to declare the living constitution of a Christian Church to be of secondary moment is of course in my view equivalent to a denial of a portion of the faith—and I think you will say it is a construction which can not fairly be put upon the design, as far as it exists in fixed rules and articles. It is one thing to attribute this in the way of unfavorable surmise, or as an apprehension of ultimate developments—it is another to publish it to the world as a character ostentatiously assumed."
We have evidence also that at this time he was not permitted to forget that he was an author, for he thus writes, April 6, 1842, to his publisher: "Amidst the pressure of more urgent affairs, I have held no consultation with you regarding my books and the sale or no sale of them. As to the third edition of the 'State in its Relations,' I should think that the remaining copies had better be got rid of in whatever summary or ignominious mode you may deem best. They must be dead beyond recall. As to the others, I do not know whether the season of the year has at all revived the demand; and would suggest to you whether it would be well to advertise them a little. I do not think they find their way much into the second-hand shops. With regard to the fourth edition, I do not know whether it would be well to procure any review or notice of it, and I am not a fair judge of its merits, even in comparison with the original form of the work; but my idea is that it is less defective, both in the theoretical and in the historical development, and ought to be worth the notice of those who deemed the earlier editions worth their notice and purchase; that it would really put a reader in possession of the view it was intended to convey, which I fear is more than can with any truth be said of its predecessors. I am not, however, in any state of anxiety or impatience; and I am chiefly moved to refer these suggestions to your judgment from perceiving that the fourth edition is as yet far from having cleared itself."
It was from this time that a marked change was observable in the subjects of Mr. Gladstone's Parliamentary addresses. "Instead of speaking on the corporate conscience of the State and the endowments of the Church, the importance of Christian education and the theological unfitness of the Jews to sit in Parliament, he was solving business-like problems about foreign tariffs and the exportation of machinery; waxing eloquent over the regulation of railways and a graduated tax on corn; subtle on the momentary merits of half-farthings and great in the mysterious lore of quassia and cocculus indicus."
In the short session of Parliament, in 1841, that which followed the accession of Sir Robert Peel to the office of Prime Minister, he was questioned by his opponents as to his future policy. The Premier declined to state the nature of the measures he intended to present, or which he contemplated making, in the intervening months of the recess of Parliament so near at hand. He wanted time for the arrangement of his plans and the construction of his political programme. An effort was made to embarrass the administration by refusing to vote the necessary supplies, until inquiry should be made into the existing distress, but it was defeated. Three weeks later Parliament was dissolved by Royal commission. In the following sitting of Parliament several measures of high practical character were presented.
Sir Robert Peel acceded to office in very critical times. The condition of the country was truly lamentable. Distress and discontent were widespread and the difficulties of the government were greatly enhanced by popular tumults. The Free Trade agitation was already making great headway in the land, and when the Premier brought forward his new sliding scale of duties in the House of Commons it was denounced by Mr. Cobden as an insult to a suffering people. The Premier said that he considered the present not an unfavorable time for discussing the corn laws; that there was no great stock on hand of foreign growth to alarm the farmers; that the recess had been marked by universal calm; that there was no popular violence to interrupt legislation; and that there was a disposition to view any proposal for the adjustment of the question with calmness and moderation.
The Premier's view of the situation did not seem to be wholly in accord with the well-known facts, for the Queen even, on her appearance at the London theatres, had been hooted, and the Prime Minister himself was burnt in effigy during a riot at Northampton; great excitement prevailed throughout the country, and Lord John Russell moved as an amendment "That this House, considering the evils which have been caused by the present corn laws and especially by the fluctuation of the graduated or sliding scale, is not prepared to adopt the measure of her Majesty's government, which is founded on the same principles and is likely to be attended by similar results."
It was incumbent upon Mr. Gladstone to lead the opposition to this motion. He showed that the proposed plan was not founded on the same principle of the existing one, except that both involved a sliding scale; that the present distress was caused by fluctuation of the seasons and not by the laws; that high prices of food were chargeable to successive failures of the crops; that these unavoidable fluctuations were not aggravated by the corn laws; that Sir Robert Peel's plan of working was far superior to that of Lord John Russell; that the drains upon the currency, caused by bad harvests, were not to be prevented by a fixed duty; that a uniform protection could not be given to corn, as to other articles, because at high prices of corn no duty could be maintained, and that, therefore, at low prices, it was but just to give a duty which would be an effectual protection. The debate which followed was characterized by vigorous speeches from Mr. Roebuck and Lord Palmerston. Lord John Russell's amendment was lost by a large majority. A motion presented by Mr. Villiers, the Free Trade advocate, for the immediate repeal of the corn laws was also lost by a majority of over three hundred.
On the 11th of March Sir Robert Peel introduced his budget. The budget for 1842 was produced under depressing circumstances. There was a deficit of L2,750,000, or about $15,000,000, and taxation upon articles of consumption had been pushed to its utmost limit. Peel was a great financier, but the fiscal difficulties by which he was now surrounded were enough to appall the most ingenious of financial ministers.
Mr. Gladstone rendered the Premier invaluable service in the preparation both of his budget and of his tariff scheme. The merit of the budget was its taxation of wealth and the relief of the manufacturing industry. The second branch of the financial plan, the revised tariff—a customs duties scheme—was very important, and it was understood to be mainly the work of Mr. Gladstone. Out of nearly 1200 duty-paying articles, a total abolition, or a considerable reduction, was made in no fewer than 750. This was certainly a great step towards the freedom of manufacturers, Sir Robert Peel's boast that he had endeavored to relieve manufacturing industries was more than justified by this great and comprehensive measure. The very best means for relieving the manufacturing industries had been devised.
But while this great relief to industry was welcomed the Opposition did not relax their efforts for the abolition of the corn laws, which were continued into the session of 1843. Sir Robert Peel acknowledged, amidst loud cheers from the Opposition, that all were agreed in the general rule that we should purchase in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest; but he added, "If I propose a greater change in the corn laws than that which I submit to the consideration of the House I should only aggravate the distress of the country, and only increase the alarm which prevails among important interests." Mr. Hume hailed with joy the appearance of the Premier and his colleagues as converts to the principles of Free Trade; Mr. Gladstone replied, that, whoever were the authors of the principles on which the government measures rested, he must protest against the statement that the ministry came forward as converts to principles which they had formerly opposed.
During the progress of the debate of 1842, on the revised Tariff Bill, Mr. Gladstone's labors were very great. He was called upon to explain or defend the details of the scheme, and had something to say about every article of consumption included in, or excluded from, the list. He spoke one hundred and twenty-nine times, chiefly on themes connected with the new fiscal legislature. He demonstrated his capacity for grasping all the most complicated details of finance, and also the power of comprehending the scope and necessities of the commercial interests of the country. No measure with which his name has since been connected has done him more credit. He spoke incessantly, and amazed the House by his mastery of details, his intimate acquaintance with the commercial needs of the country, and his inexhaustible power of exposition. On March 14th Greville wrote, "Gladstone has already displayed a capacity which makes his admission into the Cabinet indispensable." A commercial minister had appeared on the scene, and the shade of Hoskisson had revived.
Though engrossed in schemes of practical legislation, and in all the excitements and interests of office, he could, as he has ever done during his long career, turn aside for the discourse on social and educational questions with much earnestness and eloquence, as if they, and only they, possessed his mind. In January, 1843, he spoke at the opening of the Collegiate Institute of Liverpool, and delivered a powerful plea for the better education of the middle classes, which was one of the most forcible speeches he ever delivered. He said:
"We believe that if you could erect a system which should present to mankind all branches of knowledge save the one that is essential, you would only be building up a Tower of Babel, which, when you had completed it, would be the more signal in its fall, and which would bury those who had raised it in its ruins. We believe that if you can take a human being in his youth, and if you can make him an accomplished man in natural philosophy, in mathematics, or in the knowledge necessary for the profession of a merchant, a lawyer, or a physician; that if in any or all of these endowments you could form his mind—yes, if you could endow him with the science and power of a Newton, and so send him forth—and if you had concealed from him, or, rather, had not given him a knowledge and love of the Christian faith—he would go forth into the world, able indeed with reference to those purposes of science, successful with the accumulation of wealth for the multiplication of more, but 'poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked' with reference to everything that constitutes the true and sovereign purposes of our existence—nay, worse, worse—with respect to the sovereign purpose— than if he had still remained in the ignorance which we all commiserate, and which it is the object of this institution to assist in removing."
It was admitted on all hands that great fiscal reforms had been conceived and executed; and speaking of the session of 1842, a writer, not favorable to the Tories, wrote: "The nation saw and felt that its business was understood and accomplished, and the House of Commons was no longer like a sleeper under a nightmare. The long session was a busy one. The Queen wore a cheerful air when she thanked Parliament for their effectual labors. The Opposition was such as could no longer impede the operations of the next session. The condition of the country was fearful enough, but something was done for its future improvement, and the way was now shown to be open for further beneficent legislation."
The corn law reformers renewed their efforts, led by Lord Howick, as soon as the parliamentary session of 1843 opened. An inquiry by the whole House was demanded into the causes of the long continued manufacturing depression referred to in the Queen's speech. Mr. Gladstone replied that while the Opposition proposed to repeal the corn laws, they offered no measure of relief in their place. The corn laws were at the root of the distress in the country, but the difficulty was to unite the ranks of the Opposition in opinion as to what ought to follow the repeal of the corn laws. The question between the government and the Opposition was not really so great as the latter wished to make out. It was simply as to the amount of relaxation the country could bear in the duties. It was the intention of the First Lord of the Treasury to attain his object "by increasing the employment of the people, by cheapening the prices of the articles of consumption, as also the articles of industry, by encouraging the means of exchange with foreign nations, and thereby encouraging in return an extension of the export trade; but besides all this, if he understood the measure of the government last year, it was proposed that the relaxation should be practically so limited as to cause no violent shock to existing interests, such as would have the tendency of displacing that labor which should be employed, and which, if displaced, would be unable to find another field." The measure of the previous year had nothing but a beneficial effect, but the repeal of the corn laws would displace a vast mass of labor. Lord Howick's motion was defeated and so were others offered by Mr. Villiers and Lord John Russell, by diminishing majorities, and Mr. Gladstone protested against the constant renewal of uneasiness in the country by successive motions of this kind in Parliament.
The year 1843 was one destined to witness a great advance in Mr. Gladstone's progress towards the front rank among statesmen. June 10th, Lord Ripon, who was President of the Board of Trade, left this place for the Board of Control, and Mr. Gladstone was appointed to the position, and thus became a member of the Cabinet at the age of thirty-three Mr. Gladstone now became in name what he had been already in fact—the President of the Board of Trade. He states that "the very first opinion which he was ever called upon to give in Cabinet" was an opinion in favor of withdrawing the bill providing education for children in factories; to which vehement opposition was offered by the Dissenters, on the ground that it was too favorable to the Established Church. It seemed that his position was assured and yet in October he wrote to a friend: "Uneasy, in my opinion, must be the position of every member of Parliament who thinks independently in these times, or in any that are likely to succeed them; and in proportion as a man's course of thought deviates from the ordinary lines his seat must less and less resemble a bed of roses." Mr. Gladstone possibly felt when he penned these lines that the time was at hand when his convictions would force him to take a position that would array against him some of his most ardent friends.
During the session of 1844 Mr. Gladstone addressed the House on a variety of subjects, including rail ways, the law of partnership, the agricultural interest, the abolition of the corn laws, the Dissenters' Chapel Bill and the sugar duties. One very valuable bill he had carried was a measure for the abolition of restrictions on the exportation of machinery. Another was the railway bill, to improve the railway system, by which the Board of Trade had conditional power to purchase railways which had not adopted a revised scale of tolls. The bill also compulsorily provided for at least one third-class train per week-day upon every line of railway, to charge but one penny a mile, regulated the speed of traveling, compelled such trains to stop at every station, and arranged for the carrying of children under three years of age for nothing and those under twelve at reduced fares. This measure, conceived so distinctly in the interests of the poorer classes, met with considerable opposition at first from the various railway companies, but it was ultimately passed into law. These were measures passed in the spirit of reform, though by a Conservative government.
There was another matter legislated upon which shows how Mr. Gladstone's mind was undergoing changes in the direction of religious toleration. Lady Hewley had originally founded and given to Calvinistic Independents certain charities which had gradually passed to Unitarians, who were ousted from their benefits. A bill was proposed to vest property left to Dissenting bodies in the hands of that religions body with whom it had remained for the preceding twenty years. The measure was passed, but when it was discussed in the House of Commons Mr. Gladstone said that it was a bill which it was incumbent upon the House to endorse; that there was no contrariety between his principles of religious belief and those on which legislation in this case ought to proceed; that there was a great question of justice, viz., whether those who were called Presbyterian Dissenters, and who were a century and a half ago of Trinitarian opinions, ought not to be protected at the present moment in possession of the chapels which they held, with the appurtenances of those chapels? On the question of substantial justice he pronounced the strongest affirmative opinion. "After this speech there were those who thought, and expressed their hope and belief in words, that the 'champion of Free Trade' would ere long become the advocate of the most unrestricted liberty in matters of religion. Their hope, if sanguine as to its immediate fulfillment, was far from groundless."
However, in December of the same year Mr. Gladstone wrote to his friend Archdeacon, afterwards Bishop Wilberforce, about the prospects of the Church of England: "I rejoice to see that your views on the whole are hopeful. For my part I heartily go along with you. The fabric consolidates itself more and more, even while the earthquake rocks it; for, with a thousand drawbacks and deductions, love grows larger, zeal warmer, truth firmer among us. It makes the mind sad to speculate upon the question how much better all might have been; but our mourning should be turned into joy and thankfulness when we think also how much worse it was."
The next event in the life of Mr. Gladstone is marked by a momentous change in his political position. Scarcely had Parliament met in January, 1845, when it was announced to the astonishment of everyone that Mr. Gladstone had resigned his place as President of the Board of Trade in the Cabinet. He set a good deal of speculation at rest by the announcement made in his speech on the address of the Queen, that his resignation was due solely to the government intentions with regard to Maynooth College. Before, however, he had resigned, Mr. Gladstone had completed a second and revised tariff, carrying further the principles of the revision of 1842.
In the session of 1844 Sir Robert Peel, in response to the requests of Irish members, had promised that the Government would take up the question of academical education in Ireland, with the view of bringing it more nearly to the standard of England and Scotland, increasing its amount and improving its quality. In fulfillment of this pledge the government, at the beginning of the session of 1845, proposed to establish non-sectarian colleges in Ireland, and to increase the appropriation to Maynooth. The College of Maynooth, which was established for the education of Roman Catholic priests and laymen, had fallen into poverty and decay. In order to gratify the Irish, the government offered to increase the grant already made from $45,000 to $150,000 a year. This appropriation was not to be subject to any annual vote, and the affairs of the College were to be executed by the Board of Works. These proposals placed Mr. Gladstone in a position of great difficulty. He must either support Sir Robert Peel's measure, or retire from the Cabinet into isolation, if not subject to the imputation of eccentricity. He took council with his friends, Archdeacon Manning and Mr. Hope, who advised him to remain, and with Lord Stanley who warned him that his resignation must be followed by resistance of the proposals of the government, which would involve him in a storm of religious agitation. But Mr. Gladstone persisted in his intention, in what seemed like giving up his brilliant prospects, but said it would not necessarily be followed by resistance to the proposal about Maynooth.
Mr. Gladstone said that the proposed increase in the Maynooth endowment and the establishment of non-sectarian colleges were at variance with views he had written and uttered upon the relations of the Church and State. "I am sensible how fallible my judgment is," said Mr. Gladstone, "and how easily I might have erred; but still it has been my conviction that although I was not to fetter my judgment as a member of Parliament by a reference to abstract theories, yet, on the other hand, it was absolutely due to the public and due to myself that I should, so far as in me lay, place myself in a position to form an opinion upon a matter of so great importance, that should not only be actually free from all bias or leaning with respect to any consideration whatsoever, but an opinion that should be unsuspected. On that account I have taken a course most painful to myself in respect to personal feelings, and have separated myself from men with whom and under whom I have long acted in public life, and of whom I am bound to say, although I have now no longer the honor of serving my most gracious Sovereign, that I continue to regard them with unaltered sentiments both of public regard and private attachment."
Then again he said: "My whole purpose was to place myself in a position in which I should be free to consider any course without being liable to any just suspicion on the ground of personal interest. It is not profane if I now say, 'with a great price obtained I this freedom.' The political association in which I stood was to me at the time the alpha and omega of public life. The government of Sir Robert Peel was believed to be of immovable strength. My place, as President of the Board of Trade, was at the very kernel of its most interesting operations; for it was in progress from year to year, with continually waxing courage, towards the emancipation of industry, and therein towards the accomplishment of another great and blessed work of public justice. Giving up what I highly prized, aware that
male sarta Gratia nequicquam coit, et rescinditur.
I felt myself open to the charge of being opinionated and wanting in deference to really great authorities, and I could not but know that I should inevitably be regarded as fastidious and fanciful, fitter for a dreamer, or possibly a schoolman, than for the active purposes of public life in a busy and moving age."
There were some of his party angry and others who thought that there was something almost Quixotic in Mr. Gladstone's honorable resignation, because so soon as he felt himself free he gave his support to the Maynooth Bill and also to the scheme for the extension of academical education in Ireland, which latter was described by Sir R. Inglis as a "gigantic scheme of godless education." In Greville's "Memoirs" we find: "Gladstone's explanation is ludicrous. Everybody said that he had only succeeded in showing that his resignation was unnecessary. He was criticised as the possessor of a kind of supernatural virtue that could scarcely be popular with the slaves of party, and he was considered whimsical, fantastic, impracticable, a man whose 'conscience was so tender that he could not go straight,' a visionary not to be relied on—in fact, a character and intellect useless to the political manager." "I am greatly alarmed at Gladstone's resignation. I fear it foretells measures opposed to the Church truth," wrote Wilberforce; and Peel told Gladstone beforehand that his reasons for his resignation would be considered insufficient. But Mr. Gladstone's resignation, when understood, elicited the liveliest expressions of regret from friend and foe, as well as the most flattering testimonies as to his ability and character. His chief, Sir Robert Peel, and Lord John Russell, the leader of the Opposition, were alike complimentary in their remarks.
Dr. Russell, the biographer of Mr. Gladstone, says: "Mr. Gladstone's retirement, by impairing his reputation for common sense, threatened serious and lasting injury to his political career, But the whirligig of time brought its revenges even more swiftly than usual. A conjunction of events arose in which he was destined to repair the mischief which the speculative side had wrought; but for the moment the speculative side was uppermost."
Mr. Gladstone was fast leaving his Toryism behind. To show how far his views had changed in the course of seven years, it may be said that in his speech on these measures he observed how that exclusive support to the Established Church was a doctrine that was being more and more abandoned. Mr. Burke considered it contrary to wise policy to give exclusive privileges to a negative creed like that of Protestantism. They could not prove their religious scruples for denying this grant to Roman Catholics, because they gave their votes of money to almost every Dissenting seat. He hoped the concession now made—which was a great and liberal gift, because unrestricted and given in a spirit of confidence—would not lead to the renewal of agitation in Ireland by Mr. O'Connell. It might be well for him to reflect that agitation was a two-edged sword. Being conformable to justice and not contrary to principle, he hoped the measure proposed would pass into a law.
W.T. Stead, in a recent article, said, in relation to Mr. Gladstone's retirement from the Cabinet, that "It is ridiculous to pretend, with Mr. Gladstone's career before us, that his course has been swayed by calculating self-interest. He has been the very madman of politics from the point of view of Mr. Worldly Wiseman. 'No man,' said he, the other day, 'has ever committed suicide so often as I,' and that witness is true. The first and perhaps the most typical of all his many suicides was his resignation of his seat in Sir Robert Peel's Cabinet, not because he disapproved of the Maynooth Grant, but because, as he had at one time written against it, he was determined that his advocacy of it should be purged of the last taint of self-interest. As Mr. George Russell rightly remarks, 'This was an act of Parliamentary Quixotism too eccentric to be intelligible. It argued a fastidious sensitiveness of conscience, and a nice sense of political propriety so opposed to the sordid selfishness and unblushing tergiversation of the ordinary place-hunter as to be almost offensive.' But as Mr. Gladstone was then, so he has been all his life—the very Quixote of conscience. Judged by every standard of human probability, he has ruined himself over and over and over again. He is always ruining himself, and always rising, like the Phoenix, in renewed youth from the ashes of his funeral pyre. As was said in homely phrase some years ago, he 'always keeps bobbing up again.' What is the secret of this wonderful capacity of revival? How is it that Mr. Gladstone seems to find even his blunders help him, and the affirmation of principles that seem to be destructive to all chance of the success of his policy absolutely helps him to its realization?"
From a merely human standpoint it is inexplicable. But
'If right or wrong in this God's world of ours Be leagued with higher powers,'
then the mystery is not so insolvable. He believed in the higher powers. He never shrank from putting his faith to the test; and on the whole, who can deny that for his country and for himself he has reason to rejoice in the verification of his working hypothesis?
'We walk by faith and not by sight,' he said once; 'and by no one so much as by those who are in politics is this necessary.' It is the evidence of things not seen, the eternal principles, the great invisible moral sanctions that men are wont to call the laws of God, which alone supply a safe guide through this mortal wilderness.
'Men of a thousand shifts and wiles, look here! See one straightforward conscience put in pawn To win a world; see the obedient sphere By bravery's simple gravitation drawn! Shall we not heed the lesson taught of old, And by the Present's lips repeated still? In our own single manhood to be bold, Fortressed in conscience and impregnable.'
"Mr. Gladstone has never hesitated to counter at sharp right angles the passion and the fury of the day. Those who represent him as ever strong upon the strong side, wilfully shut their eyes to half his history. He challenged Lord Palmerston over the Don Pacifico question, and was believed to have wrecked himself almost as completely as when in 1876 he countered even more resolutely the fantastic Jingoism of Lord Beaconsfield. It is easy for those who come after and enter into the spoils gained by sacrifices of which they themselves were incapable to describe the Bulgarian agitation as an astute party move. The party did not think so. Its leaders did not think so. Some of those who now halloo loud enough behind Mr. Gladstone were then bitter enough in their complaint that he had wrecked his party. One at least, who was constrained to say the other thing in public, made up for it by bitter and contemptuous cavilings in private. Now it is easy to see that Lord Beaconsfield was mistaken and that Mr. Gladstone held the winning card all along. But no one knew it at the time when the card had to be played, certainly not Mr. Gladstone himself. He simply saw his duty a dead sure thing, and, like Jim Bludsoe on the burning boat, 'He went for it there and then.' It turned up trumps, but no one knew how heavy were the odds against it save those who went through the stress and the strain of that testing and trying time by his side."
In the summer of 1845 Mr. Gladstone proposed to his intimate friend, Mr. J.R. Hope, that they should spend the month of September in a working tour in Ireland, giving evidence of his characteristic desire always to come in personal contact with any question that he had to discuss. He suggests "their eschewing all grandeur, and taking little account even of scenery, compared with the purpose of looking, from close quarters, at the institutions for religion and education of the country, and at the character of the people. It seems ridiculous to talk of supplying the defects of second-hand information by so short a trip; but although a longer time would be much better, yet even a very contracted one does much when it is added to an habitual, though indirect, knowledge." The projected trip, however, had to be abandoned.
Towards the close of the year 1845 Mr. Gladstone issued a pamphlet entitled "Remarks upon recent Commercial Legislation," in which he not only discussed the salutary effects of the late commercial policy, but used arguments clearly showing that he was advancing to the position of a free-trader. His general conclusion was that English statesmen should use every effort to disburden of all charges, so far as the law was concerned, the materials of industry, and thus enable the workman to approach his work at home on better terms, as the terms in which he entered foreign markets were altered for the worse against him.
While Mr. Gladstone was so willing to deal generously more than ever before with the Irish Roman Catholics, his confidence in the Established Episcopal Church of Ireland was growing less. "I am sorry," he wrote to Bishop Wilberforce, "to express my apprehension that the Irish Church is not in a large sense efficient; the working results of the last ten years have disappointed me. I may be answered, Have faith in the ordinance of God; but then I must see the seal and signature, and these, how can I separate from ecclesiastical descent? The title, in short, is questioned, and vehemently, not only by the Radicalism of the day, but by the Roman Bishops, who claim to hold succession of St. Patrick, and this claim has been alive all along from the Reformation, so that lapse of years does nothing against it."
The name of Dr. Doellinger, the distinguished reformed Roman Catholic, has been mentioned already in connection with that of Mr. Gladstone. In the fall of 1845 Mr. Gladstone went to Munich and paid his first visit to Dr. Doellinger. For a week he remained in daily intercourse with this eminent divine, and the foundation was laid of a friendship which was sustained by repeated visits and correspondence, and which lasted until the doctor's death in 1890.
In the winter of 1845 Mr. Gladstone met with a painful accident that resulted in a permanent injury to his hand. He was by no means what is termed a sportsman, yet he was somewhat fond of shooting. His gun was prematurely discharged while he was loading it, and shattered the first finger of his left hand, so that amputation was necessary.
MEMBER FOR OXFORD
"Mr. Gladstone's career," says his biographer, G.W.E. Russell, "naturally divides itself into three parts. The first of them ends with his retirement from the representation of Newark. The central part ranges from 1847 to 1868. Happily the third is still incomplete." The first division, according to Dr. Russell, of this remarkable life, we have considered, and we now pass on to the development of the second period. The causes which led up to Mr. Gladstone's retirement from the representation for Newark to that of Oxford we will now proceed to trace.