The Life of William Ewart Gladstone, Vol. 1 (of 3) - 1809-1859
by John Morley
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Graham dwelt with fondness and with pain on Lord Stanley; said he had very great qualities—that his speech on the corn law, consisting as it did simply of old fallacies though in new dress, was a magnificent speech, one of his greatest and happiest efforts—that all his conduct in the public eye had been perfectly free from exception; that he feared, however, he had been much in Lord Geo. Bentinck's counsels, and had concurred in much more than he had himself done, and had aided in marking out the course taken in the House of Commons. He had called on Lord Stanley several times but had never been able to see him, he trusted through accident, but seemed to doubt.

On the Cobden eulogy, though he did not defend it outright by any means, he said, 'Do you think if Cobden had not existed the repeal of the corn law would have been carried at this moment?' I said very probably not, that he had added greatly to the force of the movement and accelerated its issue, that I admitted the truth of every word that Peel had uttered, but complained of its omissions, of its spirit towards his own friends, of its false moral effect, as well as and much more than of its mere impolicy.[179]



Still more interesting is an interview with the fallen minister himself, written ten days after it took place:—

July 24.—On Monday the 13th I visited Sir R. Peel, and found him in his dressing-room laid up with a cut in one of his feet. My immediate purpose was to let him know the accounts from New Zealand which Lord Grey had communicated to me.... However I led on from subject to subject, for I thought it my duty not to quit town, at the end possibly of my political connection with Sir R. Peel, that is if he determined to individualise himself, without giving the opportunity at least for free communication. Though he opened nothing, yet he followed unreluctantly. I said the government appeared to show signs of internal discord or weakness. He said, Yes; related that Lord John did not mean to include Lord Grey, that he sent Sir G. Grey and C. Wood to propitiate him, that Lord Grey was not only not hostile but volunteered his services. At last I broke the ice and said, 'You have seen Lord Lyndhurst.' He said, 'Yes.' I mentioned the substance of my interview with Lord Lyndhurst, and also what I had heard from Goulburn of his. He said, 'I am hors de combat.' I said to him, 'Is that possible? Whatever your present intentions may be, can it be done?' He said he had been twice prime minister, and nothing should induce him again to take part in the formation of a government; the labour and anxiety were too great and he repeated more than once emphatically with regard to the work of his post, 'No one in the least degree knows what it is. I have told the Queen that I part from her with the deepest sentiments of gratitude and attachment; but that there is one thing she must not ask of me, and that is to place myself again in the same position.' Then he spoke of the immense accumulation. 'There is the whole correspondence with the Queen, several times a day, and all requiring to be in my own hand, and to be carefully done; the whole correspondence with peers and members of parliament, in my own hand, as well as other persons of consequence; the sitting seven or eight hours a day to listen in the House of Commons. Then I must, of course, have my mind in the principal subjects connected with the various departments, such as the Oregon question for example, and all the reading connected with them. I can hardly tell you, for instance, what trouble the New Zealand question gave me. Then there is the difficulty that you have in conducting such questions on account of your colleague whom they concern.'

It was evident from this, as it had been from other signs, that he did not think Stanley had been happy in his management of the New Zealand question. I said, however, 'I can quite assent to the proposition that no one understands the labour of your post; that, I think, is all I ever felt I could know about it, that there is nothing else like it. But then you have been prime minister in a sense in which no other man has been it since Mr. Pitt's time.' He said, 'But Mr. Pitt got up every day at eleven o'clock, and drank two bottles of port wine every night.' 'And died of old age at forty-six,' I replied. 'This all strengthens the case. I grant your full and perfect claim to retirement in point of justice and reason; if such a claim can be made good by amount of service, I do not see how yours could be improved. You have had extraordinary physical strength to sustain you; and you have performed an extraordinary task. Your government has not been carried on by a cabinet, but by the heads of departments each in communication with you.' He assented, and added it had been what every government ought to be, a government of confidence in one another. 'I have felt the utmost confidence as to matters of which I had no knowledge, and so have the rest. Lord Aberdeen in particular said that nothing would induce him to hold office on any other principle, or to be otherwise than perfectly free as to previous consultations.' And he spoke of the defects of the Melbourne government as a mere government of departments without a centre of unity, and of the possibility that the new ministers might experience difficulty in the same respect. I then went on to say, 'Mr. Perceval, Lord Liverpool, Lord Melbourne were not prime ministers in this sense; what Mr. Canning might have been, the time was too short to show. I fully grant that your labours have been incredible, but, allow me to say, that is not the question. The question is not whether you are entitled to retire, but whether after all you have done, and in the position you occupy before the country, you can remain in the House of Commons as an isolated person, and hold yourself aloof from the great movements of political forces which sway to and fro there?' He said, 'I think events will answer that question better than any reasoning beforehand.' I replied, 'That is just what I should rely upon, and should therefore urge how impossible it is for you to lay down with certainty a foregone conclusion such as that which you have announced to-day, and which events are not to influence, merely that you will remain in parliament and yet separate yourself from the parliamentary system by which our government is carried on.' Then he said, (If it is necessary I will) 'go out of parliament'—the first part of the sentence was indistinctly muttered, but the purport such as I have described. To which I merely replied that I hoped not, and that the country would have something to say upon that too....

No man can doubt that he is the strong man of this parliament—of this political generation. Then it is asked, Is he honest? But this is a question which I think cannot justly be raised nor treated as admissible in the smallest degree by those who have known and worked with him.... He spoke of the immense multiplication of details in public business and the enormous task imposed upon available time and strength by the work of attendance in the House of Commons. He agreed that it was extremely adverse to the growth of greatness among our public men; and he said the mass of public business increased so fast that he could not tell what it was to end in, and did not venture to speculate even for a few years upon the mode of administering public affairs. He thought the consequence was already manifest in its being not well done.

It sometimes occurred to him whether it would after all be a good arrangement to have the prime minister in the House of Lords, which would get rid of the very encroaching duty of attendance on and correspondence with the Queen. I asked if in that case it would not be quite necessary that the leader in the Commons should frequently take upon himself to make decisions which ought properly to be made by the head of the government? He said, Certainly, and that that would constitute a great difficulty. That although Lord Melbourne might be very well adapted to take his part in such a plan, there were, he believed, difficulties in it under him when Lord J. Russell led the House of Commons. That when he led the House in 1828 under the Duke of Wellington as premier, he had a very great advantage in the disposition of the duke to follow the judgments of others in whom he had confidence with respect to all civil matters. He said it was impossible during the session even to work the public business through the medium of the cabinet, such is the pressure upon time.... He told me he had suffered dreadfully in his head on the left side—that twenty-two or twenty-three years ago he injured the ear by the use of a detonating tube in shooting. Since then he had always had a noise on that side, and when he had the work of office upon him, this and the pain became scarcely bearable at times, as I understood him. Brodie told him that 'as some overwork one part and some another, he had overworked his brain,' but he said that with this exception his health was good. It was pleasant to me to find and feel by actual contact as it were (though I had no suspicion of the contrary) his manner as friendly and as much unhurt as at any former period.


Before leaving office Peel wrote to Mr. Gladstone (June 20) requesting him to ask his father whether it would be acceptable to him to be proposed to the Queen for a baronetcy. 'I should name him to the Queen,' he said, 'as the honoured representative of a great class of the community which has raised itself by its integrity and industry to high social eminence. I should gratify also my own feeling by a mark of personal respect for a name truly worthy of such illustration as hereditary honour can confer.' John Gladstone replied in becoming words, but honestly mentioned that he had published his strong opinion of the injurious consequences that he dreaded from 'the stupendous experiment about to be made' in commercial policy. Peel told him that this made no difference.[180]


At the close of the session a trivial incident occurred that caused Mr. Gladstone a disproportionate amount of vexation for several months. Hume stated in the House that the colonial secretary had countersigned what was a lie, in a royal patent appointing a certain Indian judge. The 'lie' consisted in reciting that a judge then holding the post had resigned, whereas he had not resigned, and the correct phrase was that the Queen had permitted him to retire. Lord George Bentinck, whose rage was then at its fiercest, pricked up his ears, and a day or two later declared that Mr. Secretary Gladstone had 'deliberately affirmed, not through any oversight or inadvertence or thoughtlessness, but designedly and of his own malice prepense, that which in his heart he knew not to be true.' Things of this sort may either be passed over in disdain, or taken with logician's severity. Mr. Gladstone might well have contented himself with the defence that his signature had been purely formal, and that every secretary of state is called upon to put his name to recitals of minute technical fact which he must take on trust from his officials. As it was, he chose to take Bentinck's reckless aspersion at its highest, and the combat lasted for weeks and months. Bentinck got up the case with his usual industrious tenacity; he insisted that the Queen's name stood at that moment in the degrading position of being prefixed to a proclamation that all her subjects knew to recite and to be founded upon falsehood; he declared that the whole business was a job perpetrated by the outgoing ministers, to fill up a post that was not vacant; he imputed no corrupt motive to Mr. Gladstone; he admitted that Mr. Gladstone was free from the betrayal and treachery practised by his political friends; but he could not acquit him of having been in this particular affair the tool and the catspaw of two old foxes greedier and craftier than himself. To all this unmannerly stuff the recipient of it only replied by holding its author the more tight to the point of the original offence; the blood of his highland ancestors was up, and the poet's contest between eagle and serpent was not more dire. The affair was submitted to Lord Stanley. He reluctantly consented (Oct. 29) to decide the single question whether Bentinck was justified 'on the information before him in using the language quoted.' There was a dispute what information Bentinck had before him, and upon this point, where Bentinck's course might in his own polite vocabulary be marked as pure shuffling, Lord Stanley returned the papers (Feb. 8, 1847) and expressed his deep regret that he could bring about no more satisfactory result. Even so late as the spring of 1847 Mr. Gladstone was only dissuaded by the urgent advice of Lord Lincoln and others from pursuing the fray. It was, so far as I know, the only personal quarrel into which he ever allowed himself to be drawn.


[172] Perhaps I may refer to my Life of Cobden, which had the great advantage of being read before publication by Mr. Bright. Chapters xiv. and xv.

[173] Lord Aberdeen to Senior, Sept. 1856. Mrs. Simpson's Many Memories, p. 233.

[174] Sibthorp asked Peel in the H. of C. when Gladstone and Lincoln would appear. Peel replied that if S. would take the Chiltern Hundreds, G. should stand against him. S. retorted that the Chiltern Hundreds is a place under government, and he would never take place from Peel; but if P. would dissolve he would welcome Gladstone to Lincoln—or P. himself; and added privately that he would give P. or G. best bottle of wine in his cellar if he would come to Lincoln and fight him fairly.—Lord Broughton's Diaries.

[175] Halifax Papers.

[176] Cobden also wrote to Peel strongly urging him to hold on, and Peel replied with an effective defence of his own view. Life of Cobden, i. chap. 18.

[177] 'There is a name that ought to be associated with the success of these measures; it is not the name of Lord John Russell, neither is it my name. Sir, the name which ought to be, and will be, associated with these measures is the name of a man who, acting from pure and disinterested motives, has advocated their cause with untiring energy, and by appeals to reason expressed by an eloquence the more to be admired because it was unaffected and unadorned—the name which ought to be associated with the success of these measures is the name of Richard Cobden. Without scruple, Sir, I attribute the success of these measures to him.'

[178] See Life of Lord Lyndhurst, by Lord Campbell, p. 163.

[179] Six years later (Nov. 26, 1852), Mr. Gladstone in the House of Commons said of Cobden, with words of characteristic qualification:—'Agree you may in his general politics, or you may not; complain you may, if you think you have cause, of the mode and force with which in the freedom of debate he commonly states his opinions in this House. But it is impossible for us to deny that those benefits of which we are now acknowledging the existence are, in no small part at any rate, due to the labours in which he has borne so prominent a share.'

[180] Parker, iii. pp. 434-5.




The movement of 1833 started out oL the anti-Roman feelings of the Emancipation time. It was anti-Roman as much as it was anti-sectarian and anti-erastian. It was to avert the danger of people becoming Romanists from ignorance of church principles. This was all changed in one important section of the party. The fundamental conceptions were reversed. It was not the Roman church but the English church that was put on its trial.... From this point of view the object of the movement was no longer to elevate and improve an independent English church, but to approximate it as far as possible to what was assumed to be undeniable—the perfect catholicity of Rome.—DEAN CHURCH.

The fall of Peel and the break-up of his party in the state coincided pretty nearly with a hardly less memorable rupture in that rising party in the church, with which Mr. Gladstone had more or less associated himself almost from its beginning. Two main centres of authority and leading in the land were thus at the same moment dislodged and dispersed. A long struggle in secular concerns had come to a decisive issue; and the longer struggle in religious concerns had reached a critical and menacing stage. The reader will not wonder that two events so far-reaching as the secession of Newman and the fall of Sir Robert, coupled as these public events were with certain importunities of domestic circumstance of which I shall have more to say by and by, brought Mr. Gladstone to an epoch in his life of extreme perturbation. Roughly it may be said to extend from 1845 to 1852.

At the time of his resignation in the beginning of 1845, he wrote to Lord John Manners, then his colleague at Newark, a curious account of his views on party life. Lord John was then acting with the Young England group inspired by Disraeli, who has left a picture of them in Sybil, the most far-seeing of all his novels.

To Lord John Manners.

Jan. 30, 1845.—You, I have no doubt, are disappointed as to the working of a conservative government. And so should I be if I were to estimate its results by a comparison with the anticipations which, from a distance and in the abstract, I had once entertained of political life. But now my expectations not only from this but from any government are very small. If they do a little good, if they prevent others from doing a good deal of evil, if they maintain an unblemished character, it is my fixed conviction that under the circumstances of the times I can as an independent member of parliament, for I am now virtually such, ask no more. And I do entertain the strongest impression that if, with your honourable and upright mind, you had been called upon for years to consult as one responsible for the movements of great parliamentary bodies, if you thus had been accustomed to look into public questions at close quarters, your expectations from an administration, and your dispositions towards it, would be materially changed....

The principles and moral powers of government as such are sinking day by day, and it is not by laws and parliaments that they can be renovated.... I must venture even one step further, and say that such schemes of regeneration as those which were propounded (not, I am bound to add, by you) at Manchester,[181] appear to me to be most mournful delusions; and their re-issue, for their real parentage is elsewhere, from the bosom of the party to which we belong, an omen of the worst kind if they were likely to obtain currency under the new sanction they have received. It is most easy to complain as you do of laissez-faire and laissez-aller; nor do I in word or in heart presume to blame you; but I should sorely blame myself if with my experience and convictions of the growing impotence of government for its highest functions, I were either to recommend attempts beyond its powers, which would react unfavourably upon its remaining capabilities, or to be a party to proposed substitutes for its true moral and paternal work which appear to me mere counterfeits.


On this letter we may note in passing, first, that the tariff legislation did in the foundations what the Young England party wished to do in a superficial and flimsy fashion; and second, it was the tariff legislation that drove back a rising tide of socialism, both directly by vastly improving the condition of labour, and indirectly by force of the doctrine of free exchange which was thus corroborated by circumstances. Of this we shall see more by and by.

Throughout the years of Sir Robert Peel's government, Mr. Gladstone had been keenly intent upon the progress of religious affairs at Oxford. 'From 1841 till the beginning of 1845,' he says in a fragmentary note, 'I continued a hardworking official man, but with a decided predominance of religious over secular interests. Although I had little of direct connection with Oxford and its teachers, I was regarded in common fame as tarred with their brush; and I was not so blind as to be unaware that for the clergy this meant not yet indeed prosecution, but proscription and exclusion from advancement by either party in the state, and for laymen a vague and indeterminate prejudice with serious doubts how far persons infected in this particular manner could have any real capacity for affairs. Sir Robert Peel must, I think, have exercised much self-denial when he put me in his cabinet in 1843.' The movement that began in 1833 had by the opening of the next decade revealed startling tendencies, and its first stage was now slowly but unmistakeably passing into the second. Mr. Gladstone has told us[182] how he stood at this hour of crisis; how strongly he believed that the church of England would hold her ground, and even revive the allegiance not only of the masses, but of those large and powerful nonconforming bodies who were supposed to exist only as a consequence of the neglect of its duties by the national church. He has told us also how little he foresaw the second phase of the Oxford movement—the break-up of a distinguished and imposing generation of clergy; 'the spectacle of some of the most gifted sons reared by Oxford for the service of the church of England, hurling at her head the hottest bolts of the Vatican; and along with this strange deflexion on one side, a not less convulsive rationalist movement on the other,—all ending in contention and estrangement, and in suspicions worse than either, because less accessible and more intractable.'


The landmarks of the Tractarian story are familiar, and I do not ask the reader in any detail to retrace them. The publication of Froude's Remains was the first flagrant beacon lighting the path of divergence from the lines of historical high churchmen in an essentially anti-protestant direction. Mr. Gladstone read the first instalment of this book (1838) 'with repeated regrets.' Then came the blaze kindled by Tract Ninety (1841). This, in the language of its author and his friends, was the famous attempt to clear the Articles from the glosses encrusting them like barnacles, and to bring out the old catholic truth that man had done his worst to disfigure and to mutilate, and yet in spite of all man's endeavour it was in the Articles still. Mr. Gladstone, as we have seen, regarded Tract Ninety with uneasy doubts as to its drift, its intentions, the way in which the church and the world would take it. 'This No. Ninety of Tracts for the Times which I read by desire of Sir R. Inglis,' he writes to Lord Lyttelton, 'is like a repetition of the publication of Froude's Remains, and Newman has again burned his fingers. The most serious feature in the tract to my mind is that, doubtless with very honest intentions and with his mind turned for the moment so entirely towards those inclined to defection, and therefore occupying their point of view exclusively, he has in writing it placed himself quite outside the church of England in point of spirit and sympathy. As far as regards the proposition for which he intended mainly to argue, I believe not only that he is right, but that it is an a b c truth, almost a truism of the reign of Elizabeth, namely that the authoritative documents of the church of England were not meant to bind all men to every opinion of their authors, and particularly that they intended to deal as gently with prepossessions thought to look towards Rome, as the necessity of securing a certain amount of reformation would allow. Certainly also the terms in which Newman characterises the present state of the church of England in his introduction are calculated to give both pain and alarm; and the whole aspect of the tract is like the assumption of a new position.'


Next followed the truly singular struggle for the university chair of poetry at the end of the same year, between a no-popery candidate and a Puseyite. Seldom surely has the service of the muses been pressed into so alien a debate. Mr. Gladstone was cut to the heart at the prospect of a sentence in the shape of a vote for this professorship, passed by the university of Oxford 'upon all that congeries of opinions which the rude popular notion associates with the Tracts for the Times.' Such a sentence would be a disavowal by the university of catholic principles in the gross; the association between catholic principles and the church of England would be miserably weakened; and those who at all sympathised with the Tracts would be placed in the position of aliens, corporally within the pale, but in spirit estranged or outcast. If the church should be thus broken up, there would be no space for catholicity between the rival pretensions of an ultra-protestantised or decatholicised English church, and the communion of Rome. 'Miserable choice!' These and other arguments are strongly pressed (December 3, 1841) in favour of an amicable compromise, in a letter addressed to his close friend Frederic Rogers. In the same letter Mr. Gladstone says that he cannot profess to understand or to have studied the Tracts on Reserve.[183] He 'partakes perhaps in the popular prejudice against them.' Anybody can now see in the coolness of distant time that it was these writings on Reserve that roused not merely prejudice but fury in the public mind—a fury that without either justice or logic extended from hatred of Romanisers to members of the church of Rome itself. It affected for the worse the feeling between England and Ireland, for in those days to be ultra-protestant was to be anti-Irish; and it greatly aggravated, first the storm about the Maynooth grant in 1845, and then the far wilder storm about the papal aggression six years later.


Further fuel for excitement was supplied the same year (1841) in a fantastic project by which a bishop, appointed alternately by Great Britain and Prussia and with his headquarters at Jerusalem, was to take charge through a somewhat miscellaneous region, of any German protestants or members of the church of England or anybody else who might be disposed to accept his authority. The scheme stirred much enthusiasm in the religious world, but it deepened alarm among the more logical of the high churchmen. Ashley and the evangelicals were keen for it as the blessed beginning of a restoration of Israel, and the king of Prussia hoped to gain over the Lutherans and others of his subjects by this side-door into true episcopacy. Politics were not absent, and some hoped that England might find in the new protestant church such an instrument in those uncomfortable regions, as Russia possessed in the Greek church and France in the Latin. Dr. Arnold was delighted at the thought that the new church at Jerusalem would comprehend persons using different liturgies and subscribing different articles,—his favourite pattern for the church of England. Pusey at first rather liked the idea of a bishop to represent the ancient British church in the city of the Holy Sepulchre; but Newman and Hope, with a keener instinct for their position, distrusted the whole design in root and branch as a betrayal of the church, and Pusey soon came to their mind. With caustic scorn Newman asked how the anglican church, without ceasing to be a church, could become an associate and protector of nestorians, jacobites, monophysites, and all the heretics one could hear of, and even form a sort of league with the mussulman against the Greek orthodox and the Latin catholics. Mr. Gladstone could not be drawn to go these lengths. Nobody could be more of a logician than Mr. Gladstone when he liked, no logician could wield a more trenchant blade; but nobody ever knew better in complex circumstance the perils of the logical short cut. Hence, according to his general manner in all dubious cases, he moved slowly, and laboured to remove practical grounds for objection. Ashley describes him (October 16) at a dinner at Bunsen's rejoicing in the bishopric, and proposing the health of the new prelate, and this gave Ashley pleasure, for 'Gladstone is a good man and a clever man and an industrious man.'[184] While resolute against any plan for what Hope called gathering up the scraps of Christendom and making a new church out of them, and resolute against what he himself called the inauguration of an experimental or fancy church, Mr. Gladstone declared himself ready 'to brave misconstruction for the sake of union with any Christian men, provided the terms of union were not contrary to sound principles.' With a strenuous patience that was thoroughly characteristic, he set to work to bring the details of the scheme into an order conformable to his own views, and he even became a trustee of the endowment fund. Two bishops in succession filled the see, but in the fulness of time most men agreed with Newman, who 'never heard of any either good or harm that bishopric had ever done,' except what it had done for him. To him it gave a final shake, and brought him on to the beginning of the end.[185]

In the summer of 1842 Mr. Gladstone received confidences that amazed him. Here is a passage from his diary:—

July 31, 1842.—Walk with R. Williams to converse on the subject of our recent letters. I made it my object to learn from him the general view of the ulterior section of the Oxford writers and their friends. It is startling. They look not merely to the renewal and development of the catholic idea within the pale of the church of England, but seem to consider the main condition of that development and of all health (some tending even to say of all life) to be reunion with the church, of Rome as the see of Peter. They recognise, however, authority in the church of England, and abide in her without love specifically fixed upon her, to seek the fulfilment of this work of reunion. It is, for example, he said, the sole object of Oakeley's life. They do not look to any defined order of proceedings in the way of means. They consider that the end is to be reached through catholicising the mind of the members of the church of England, but do not seem to feel that this can be done to any great degree in working out and giving free scope to her own rubrical system. They have no strong feeling of revulsion from actual evils in the church of Rome, first, because they do not wish to judge; secondly, especially not to judge the saints; thirdly, they consider that infallibility is somewhere and nowhere but there. They could not remain in the church of England if they thought that she dogmatically condemned anything that the church of Rome has defined de fide, but they do and will remain on the basis of the argument of Tract 90; upon which, after mental conflict, they have settled steadily down. They regret what Newman has said strongly against the actual system of the church of Rome, and they could not have affirmed, though neither do they positively deny it. Wherever Roman doctrine de fide is oppugned they must protest; but short of this they render absolute obedience to their ecclesiastical superiors in the church of England. They expect to work on in practical harmony with those who look mainly to the restoration of catholic ideas on the foundation laid by the church of England as reformed, and who take a different view as to reunion with Rome in particular, though of course desiring the reunion of the whole body of Christ. All this is matter for very serious consideration. In the meantime I was anxious to put it down while fresh.


Now was the time at which Mr. Gladstone's relations with Manning and Hope began to approach their closest. Newman, the great enchanter, in obedience to his bishop had dropped the issue of the Tracts; had withdrawn from all public discussion of ecclesiastical politics; had given up his work in Oxford; and had retired with a neophyte or two to Littlemore, a hamlet on the outskirts of the ever venerable city, there to pursue his theological studies, to prepare translations of Athanasius, to attend to his little parish, and generally to go about his own business so far as he might be permitted by the restlessness alike of unprovoked opponents and unsought disciples. This was the autumn of 1843. In October Manning sent to Mr. Gladstone two letters that he had received from Newman, indicating only too plainly, as they were both convinced, that the foundations of their leader's anglicanism had been totally undermined by the sweeping repudiation alike by episcopal and university authority of the doctrines of Tract Ninety. Dr. Pusey, on the other hand, admitted that the expressions in Newman's letter were portentous, but did not believe that they necessarily meant secession. In a man of the world this would not have been regarded as candid. For Newman says, 'I formally told Pusey that I expected to leave the church of England in the autumn of 1843, and begged him to tell others, that no one might be taken by surprise or might trust me in the interval.'[186] But Newman has told us that he had from the first great difficulty in making Dr. Pusey understand the differences between them. The letters stand in the Apologia (chapter iv. Sec. 2) to tell their own tale. To Mr. Gladstone their shock was extreme, not only by reason of the catastrophe to which they pointed, but from the ill-omened shadow that they threw upon the writer's probity of mind if not of heart. 'I stagger to and fro like a drunken man,' he wrote to Manning, 'I am at my wit's end.' He found some of Newman's language, 'forgive me if I say it, more like the expressions of some Faust gambling for his soul, than the records of the inner life of a great Christian teacher.' In his diary, he puts it thus:—

Oct. 28, 1843.—S. Simon and S. Jude. St. James's 11 A.M. with a heavy heart. Another letter had come from Manning, enclosing a second from Newman, which announced that since the summer of 1839 he had had the conviction that the church of Rome is the catholic church, and ours not a branch of the catholic church because not in communion with Rome; that he had resigned St. Mary's because he felt he could not with a safe conscience longer teach in her; that by the article in the British Critic on the catholicity of the English church he had quieted his mind for two years; that in his letter to the Bishop of Oxford, written most reluctantly, he, as the best course under the circumstances, committed himself again; that his alarms revived with that wretched affair of the Jerusalem bishopric, and had increased ever since; that Manning's interference had only made him the more realise his views; that Manning might make what use he pleased of his letters; he was relieved of a heavy heart; yet he trusted that God would beep him from hasty steps and resolves with a doubting conscience! How are the mighty fallen and the weapons of war perished!

With the characteristic spirit with which, in politics and in every other field, he always insisted on espying patches of blue sky where others saw unbroken cloud, he was amazed that Newman did not, in spite of all the pranks of the Oxford heads, perceive the English church to be growing in her members more catholic from year to year, and how much more plain and undeniable was the sway of catholic principles within its bounds, since the time when he entertained no shadow of doubt about it. But while repeating his opinion that in many of the Tracts the language about the Roman church had often been far too censorious, Mr. Gladstone does not, nor did he ever, shrink from designating conversion to that church by the unflinching names of lapse and fall.[187] As he was soon to put it, 'The temptation towards the church of Rome of which some are conscious, has never been before my mind in any other sense than as other plain and flagrant sins have been before it.'[188]

Two days later he wrote to Manning again:—

Oct. 30, 1843.— ... I have still to say that my impressions, though without more opportunity of testing them I cannot regard them as final, are still and strongly to the effect that upon the promulgation of those two letters to the world. Newman stands in the general view a disgraced man—and all men, all principles, with which he has had to do, disgraced in proportion to the proximity of their connection. And further I am persuaded that were he not spellbound and entranced, he could not fail to see the gross moral incoherence of the parts of his two statements; and that were I upon the terms which would warrant it, I should feel it my duty, at a time when as now, summa res agitur, to tell him so, after having, however, tried my own views by reference to some other mind, for instance to your own. But surely it will be said that his 'committing himself again' was simply a deliberate protestation of what he knew to be untrue. I have no doubt of his having proceeded honestly; no doubt that he can show it; but I say that those two letters are quite enough to condemn a man in whom one has no [Greek: pistis ethike]: much more then one whom a great majority of the community regard with prejudice and deep suspicion.... With regard to your own feelings believe me that I enter into them; and indeed our communications have now for many years been too warm, free, and confiding to make it necessary for me, as I trust, to say what a resource and privilege it is to me to take counsel with you upon those absorbing subjects and upon the fortunes of the church; to which I desire to feel with you that life, strength, and all means and faculties, ought freely to be devoted, and indeed from such devotion alone can they derive anything of true value.[189]


The next blow was struck in the summer of 1844 by Ward's Ideal of a Christian Church, which had the remarkable effect of harassing and afflicting all the three high camps—the historical anglicans, the Puseyites and moderate tractarians, and finally the Newmanites and moderate Romanisers.[190] The writer was one of the most powerful dialecticians of the day, defiant, aggressive, implacable in his logic, unflinching in any stand that he chose to take; the master-representative of tactics and a temper like those to which Laud and Strafford gave the pungent name of Thorough. It was not its theology, still less its history, that made his book the signal for the explosion; it was his audacious proclamation that the whole cycle of Roman doctrine was gradually possessing numbers of English churchmen, and that he himself, a clergyman in orders and holding his fellowship on the tenure of church subscription, had in so subscribing to the Articles renounced no single Roman doctrine. This, and not the six hundred pages of argumentation, was the ringing challenge that provoked a plain issue, precipitated a decisive struggle, and brought the first stage of tractarianism to a close.


It was impossible that Mr. Gladstone even in the thick of his tariffs, his committees and deputations, his cabinet duties, and all the other absorbing occupations of an important minister in strong harness, should let a publication, in his view so injurious, pass in silence.[191] With indignation he flew to his intrepid pen, and dealt as trenchantly with Ward as Ward himself had dealt trenchantly with the reformers and all others whom he found planted in his dialectic way. Mr. Gladstone held the book up to stringent reproof for its capricious injustice; for the triviality of its investigations of fact; for the savageness of its censures; for the wild and wanton opinions broached in its pages; for the infatuation of mind manifested in some of its arguments; and for the lamentable circumstance that it exhibited a far greater debt in mental culture to Mr. John Stuart Mill than to the whole range of Christian divines. In a sentence, Ward 'had launched on the great deep of human controversy as frail a bark as ever carried sail,' and his reviewer undoubtedly let loose upon it as shrewd a blast as ever blew from the AEolian wallet. The article was meant for the Quarterly Review, and it is easy to imagine the dire perplexities of Lockhart's editorial mind in times so fervid and so distracted. The practical issue after all was not the merits or the demerits of Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer, nor the real meaning of Hooker, Jewel, Bull, but simply what was to be done to Ward. Lockhart wrote to Murray that he had very seriously studied the article and studied Ward's book, and not only these, but also the Articles and the canons of the church, and he could not approve of the Review committing itself to a judgment on the line proper to be taken by the authorities of church and university, and the expression of such a judgment he suspected to be Mr. Gladstone's main object in writing. Mr. Gladstone, describing himself most truly as 'one of those soldiers who do not know when they are beat,' saw his editor; declared that what he sought was three things, first, that the process of mobbing out by invective and private interpretations is bad and should be stopped; second, that the church of England does not make assent to the proceedings of the Reformation a term of communion; and third, that before even judicial proceedings in one direction, due consideration should be had of what judicial proceedings in another direction consistency might entail, if that game were once begun. As Ward himself had virtually put it, 'Show me how any of the recognised parties in the church can subscribe in a natural sense, before you condemn me for subscribing in a non-natural.'[192] The end was a concordat between editor and contributor, followed by an immense amount of irksome revision, mutilation, and re-revision, reducing the argument in some places 'almost to tatters'; but the writer was in the long run satisfied that things were left standing in it which it was well to plant in a periodical like the Quarterly Review.

We have a glimpse of the passionate agitation into which this great controversy, partly theologic, partly moral, threw Mr. Gladstone:—

Feb. 6.—Breakfast at Mr. Macaulay's. Conversation chiefly on Aristotle's politics and on the Oxford proceedings. I grew hot, for which ignoscat Deus. Feb. 13.—Oxford 1-5. We were in the theatre. Ward was like himself, honest to a fault, as little like an advocate in his line of argument as well could he, and strained his theology even a point further than before. The forms are venerable, the sight imposing; the act is fearful [the degradation of Ward], if it did not leave strong hope of its revisal by law.

To Dr. Pusey he writes (Feb. 7):—

Indignation at this proposal to treat Mr. Newman worse than a dog really makes me mistrust my judgment, as I suppose one should always do when any proposal seeming to present an aspect of incredible wickedness is advanced. Feb. 17.—I concur with my whole heart and soul in the desire for repose; and I fully believe that the gift of an interval of reflection is that which would be of all gifts the most precious to us all, which would restore the faculty of deliberation now almost lost in storms, and would afford the best hope both of the development of the soundest elements that are in motion amongst us, and of the mitigation or absorption of those which are more dangerous.

In the proceedings at Oxford against Ward (February 13, 1845), Mr. Gladstone voted in the minority both against the condemnation of the book, and against the proposal to strip its writer of his university degree. He held that the censure combined condemnation of opinions with a declaration of personal dishonesty, and the latter question he held to be one 'not fit for the adjudication of a human tribunal.'

All this has a marked place in Mr. Gladstone's mental progress. Though primarily and ostensibly the concern of the established church, yet the series of proceedings that had begun with the attack on Hampden in 1836, and then were followed down to our own day by academical, ecclesiastical and legal censures and penalties, or attempts at censure and penalty, on Newman, Pusey, Maurice, Gorham, Essays and Reviews, Colenso, and ended, if they have yet ended, in a host of judgments affecting minor personages almost as good as nameless—all constitute a chapter of extraordinary importance in the general history of English toleration, extending in its consequences far beyond the pale of the communion immediately concerned. It was a long and painful journey, often unedifying, not seldom squalid, with crooked turns not a few, and before it was over, casting men into strange companionship upon bleak and hazardous shores. Mr. Gladstone, though he probably was not one of those who are as if born by nature tolerant, was soon drawn by circumstance to look with favour upon that particular sort of toleration which arose out of the need for comprehension. When the six doctors condemned Pusey (June 1843) for preaching heresy and punished him by suspension, Mr. Gladstone was one of those who signed a vigorous protest against a verdict and a sentence passed upon an offender without hearing him and without stating reasons. This was at least the good beginning of an education in liberal rudiments.



In October 1845 the earthquake came. Newman was received into the Roman communion. Of this step Mr. Gladstone said that it has never yet been estimated at anything like the full amount of its calamitous importance. The leader who had wielded a magician's power in Oxford was followed by a host of other converts. More than once I have heard Mr. Gladstone tell the story how about this time he sought from Manning an answer to the question that sorely perplexed him: what was the common bond of union that led men of intellect so different, of character so opposite, of such various circumstance, to come to the same conclusion. Manning's answer was slow and deliberate: 'Their common bond is their want of truth.' 'I was surprised beyond measure,' Mr. Gladstone would proceed, 'and startled at his judgment.'[193]

Most ordinary churchmen remained where they were. An erastian statesman of our own time, when alarmists ran to him with the news that a couple of noblemen and their wives had just gone over to Rome, replied with calm, 'Show me a couple of grocers and their wives who have gone over, then you will frighten me.' The great body of church people stood firm, and so did Pusey, Keble, Gladstone, and so too, for half a dozen years to come, did his two closest friends, Manning and Hope. The dominant note in Mr. Gladstone's mind was clear and it was constant. As he put it to Manning (August 1,1845),—'That one should entertain love for the church of Rome in respect of her virtues and her glories, is of course right and obligatory; but one is equally bound under the circumstances of the English church in direct antagonism with Rome to keep clearly in view their very fearful opposites.'

Tidings of the great secession happened to find Mr. Gladstone in a rather singular atmosphere. In the course of 1842, to the keen distress of her relatives, his sister had joined the Roman church, and her somewhat peculiar nature led to difficulties that taxed patience and resource to the uttermost. She had feelings of warm attachment to her brother, and spoke strongly in that sense to Dr. Wiseman; and it was for the purpose of carrying out some plans of his father's for her advantage, that in the autumn of 1845 (September 24-November 18), Mr. Gladstone passed nearly a couple of months in Germany. The duty was heavy and dismal, but the journey brought him into a society that could not be without effect upon his impressionable mind. At Munich he laid the foundation of one of the most interesting and cherished friendships of his life. Hope-Scott had already made the acquaintance of Dr. Doellinger, and he now begged Mr. Gladstone on no account to fail to present himself to him, as well as to other learned and political men, 'good catholics and good men with no ordinary talent and information.' 'Nothing,' Mr. Gladstone once wrote in after years, 'ever so much made me anglican versus Roman as reading in Doellinger over forty years ago the history of the fourth century and Athanasius contra mundum.' Here is his story to his wife:—

Munich, Sept. 30, 1845.—Yesterday evening after dinner with two travelling companions, an Italian negoziante and a German, I must needs go and have a shilling's worth of the Augsburg Opera, where we heard Mozart (Don Juan) well played and very respectably sung. To-day I have spent my evening differently, in tea and infinite conversation with Dr. Doellinger, who is one of the first among the Roman catholic theologians of Germany, a remarkable and a very pleasing man. His manners have great simplicity and I am astonished at the way in which a busy student such as he is can receive an intruder. His appearance is, singular to say, just compounded of those of two men who are among the most striking in appearance of our clergy, Newman and Dr. Mill. He surprises me by the extent of his information and the way in which he knows the details of what takes place in England. Most of our conversation related to it. He seemed to me one of the most liberal and catholic in mind of all the persons of his communion whom I have known. To-morrow I am to have tea with him again, and there is to be a third, Dr. Goerres, who is a man of eminence among them. Do not think he has designs upon me. Indeed he disarms my suspicions in that respect by what appears to me a great sincerity....


Oct. 2.—On Tuesday after post I began to look about me; and though I have not seen all the sights of Munich I have certainly seen a great deal that is interesting in the way of art, and having spent a good deal of time in Dr. Doellinger's company, last night till one o'clock, I have lost my heart to him. What I like perhaps most, or what crowns other causes of liking towards him, is that he, like Rio, seems to take hearty interest in the progress of religion in the church of England, apart from the (so to speak) party question between us, and to have a mind to appreciate good wherever he can find it. For instance, when in speaking of Wesley I said that his own views and intuitions were not heretical, and that if the ruling power in our church had had energy and a right mind to turn him to account, or if he had been in the church of Rome I was about to add, he would then have been a great saint, or something to that effect. But I hesitated, thinking it perhaps too strong, and even presumptuous, but he took me up and used the very words, declaring that to be his opinion. Again, speaking of Archbishop Leighton he expressed great admiration of his piety, and said it was so striking that he could not have been a real Calvinist. He is a great admirer of England and English character, and he does not at all slur over the mischief with which religion has to contend in Germany. Lastly, I may be wrong, but I am persuaded he in his mind abhors a great deal that is too frequently taught in the church of Rome. Last night he spoke with such a sentiment of the doctrine that was taught on the subject of indulgences which moved Luther to resist them; and he said he believed it was true that the preachers represented to the people that by money payments they could procure the release souls from purgatory. I told him that was exactly the doctrine I had heard preached in Messina, and he said a priest preaching so in Germany would be suspended by his bishop.

Last night he invited several of his friends whom I wanted to meet, to an entertainment which consisted first of weak tea, immediately followed by meat supper with beer and wine and sweets. For two hours was I there in the midst of five German professors, or four, and the editor of a paper, who held very interesting discussions; I could only follow them in part, and enter into them still less, as none of them (except Dr. D.) seemed to speak any tongue but their own with any freedom, but you would have been amused to see and hear them, and me in the midst. I never saw men who spoke together in a way to make one another inaudible as they did, always excepting Dr. Doellinger, who sat like Rogers, being as he is a much more refined man than the rest. But of the others I assure you always two, sometimes three, and once all four, were speaking at once, very loud, each not trying to force the attention of the others, but to be following the current of his own thoughts. One of them was Dr. Goerres,[194] who in the time of Napoleon edited a journal that had a great effect in rousing Germany to arms. Unfortunately he spoke more thickly than any of them.[195]

At Baden-Baden (October 16) he made the acquaintance of Mrs. Craven, the wife of the secretary of the Stuttgart mission, and authoress of the Recit d'une Soeur. Some of the personages of that alluring book were of the company. 'I have drunk tea several times at her house, and have had two or three long conversations with them on matters of religion. They are excessively acute and also full of Christian sentiment. But they are much more difficult to make real way with than a professor of theology, because they are determined (what is vulgarly called) to go the whole hog, just as in England usually when you find a woman anti-popish in spirit, she will push the argument against them to all extremes.'


It was at the same time that he read Bunsen's book on the church. 'It is dismal,' he wrote home to Mrs. Gladstone, 'and I must write to him to say so as kindly as I can.' Bunsen would seem all the more dismal from the contrast with the spiritual graces of these catholic ladies, and the ripe thinking and massive learning of one who was still the great catholic doctor. At no time in Mr. Gladstone's letters to Manning or to Hope is there a single faltering accent in respect of Rome. The question is not for an instant, or in any of his moods, open. He never doubts nor wavers. None the less, these impressions of his German journey would rather confirm than weaken his theological faith within the boundaries of anglican form and institution. 'With my whole soul I am convinced,' he says to Manning (June 23, 1850), 'that if the Roman system is incapable of being powerfully modified in spirit, it never can be the instrument of the work of God among us; the faults and the virtues of England are alike against it.'


I need spend no time in pointing out how inevitably these new currents drew Mr. Gladstone away from the old moorings of his first book. Even in 1844 he had parted company with the high ecclesiastical principles of good tories like Sir Robert Inglis. Peel, to his great honour, in that year brought in what Macaulay truly called 'an honest, an excellent bill, introduced from none but the best and purest motives.' It arose from a judicial decision in what was known as the Lady Hewley case, and its object was nothing more revolutionary or latitudinarian than to apply to Unitarian chapels the same principle of prescription that protected gentlemen in the peaceful enjoyment of their estates and their manor-houses. The equity of the thing was obvious. In 1779 parliament had relieved protestant dissenting ministers from the necessity of declaring their belief in certain church articles, including especially those affecting the doctrine of the Trinity. In 1813 parliament had repealed the act of William III. that made it blasphemy to deny that doctrine. This legislation, rendered Unitarian foundations legal, and the bill extended to unitarian congregations the same prescriptions as covered the titles of other voluntary bodies to their places of worship, their school-houses, and their burial-grounds. But what was thus a question of property was treated as if it were a question of divinity; 'bigotry sought aid from chicane,' and a tremendous clamour was raised by anglicans, wesleyans, presbyterians, not because they had an inch of locus standi in the business, but because unitarianism was scandalous heresy and sin. Follett made a masterly lawyer's speech, Sheil the speech of a glittering orator, guarding unitarians by the arguments that had (or perhaps I should say had not) guarded Irish catholics, Peel and Gladstone made political speeches lofty and sound, and Macaulay the speech of an eloquent scholar and a reasoner, manfully enforcing principles both of law and justice with a luxuriance of illustration all his own, from jurists of imperial Rome, sages of old Greece, Hindoos, Peruvians, Mexicans, and tribunals beyond the Mississippi.[196] We do not often enjoy such parliamentary nights in our time.

Mr. Gladstone supported the proposal on the broadest grounds of unrestricted private judgment:—

I went into the subject laboriously, he says, and satisfied myself that this was not to be viewed as a mere quieting of titles based on lapse of time, but that the unitarians were the true lawful holders, because though they did not agree with the puritan opinions they adhered firmly to the puritan principle, which was that scripture was the rule without any binding interpretation, and that each man, or body, or generation must interpret for himself. This measure in some ways heightened my churchmanship, but depressed my church-and-statesmanship.

Far from feeling that there was any contrariety between his principles of religious belief and those on which legislation in their case ought to proceed, he said that the only use he could make of these principles was to apply them to the decisive performance of a great and important act, founded on the everlasting principles of truth and justice. Sheil, who followed Mr. Gladstone, made a decidedly striking observation. He declared how delighted he was to hear from such high authority that the bill was perfectly reconcilable with the strictest and the sternest principles of state conscience. 'I cannot doubt,' he continued, 'that the right hon. gentleman, the champion of free trade, will ere long become the advocate of the most unrestricted liberty of thought.' Time was to justify Sheil's acute prediction. Unquestionably the line of argument that suggested it was a great advance from the arguments of 1838, of which Macaulay had said that they would warrant the roasting of dissenters at slow fires.


In this vast field of human interest what engaged and inflamed him was not in the main place that solicitude for personal salvation and sanctification, which under sharp stress of argument, of pious sensibility, of spiritual panic, now sent so many flocking into the Roman fold. It was at bottom more like the passion of the great popes and ecclesiastical master-builders, for strengthening and extending the institutions by which faith is spread, its lamps trimmed afresh, its purity secured. What wrung him with affliction was the laying waste of the heritage of the Lord. 'The promise,' he cried, 'indeed stands sure to the church and the elect. In the farthest distance there is peace, truth, glory; but what a leap to it, over what a gulf.' For himself, the old dilemma of his early years still tormented him. 'I wish,' he writes to Manning (March 8, 1846) good humouredly, 'I could get a synodical decision in favour of my retirement from public life. For, I profess to remain there (to myself) for the service of the church, and my views of the mode of serving her are getting so fearfully wide of those generally current, that even if they be sound, they may become wholly unavailable.' The question whether the service of the church can be most effectually performed in parliament was incessantly present to his mind. Manning pressed him in one direction, the inward voice drew him in the other. 'I could write down in a few lines,' he says to Manning, 'the measures, after the adoption of which I should be prepared to say to a young man entering life, If you wish to serve the church do it in the sanctuary, and not in parliament (unless he were otherwise determined by his station, and not always then; it must depend upon his inward vocation), and should not think it at all absurd to say the same thing to some who have already placed themselves in this latter sphere. For when the end is attained of letting "the church help herself," and when it is recognised that active help can no longer be given, the function of serving the church in the state, such as it was according to the old idea, dies of itself, and what remains of duty is of a character essentially different.' Then a pregnant passage:—'It is the essential change now in progress from the catholic to the infidel idea of the state which is the determining element in my estimate of this matter, and which has, I think, no place in yours. For I hold and believe that when that transition has once been effected, the state never can come back to the catholic idea by means of any agency from within itself: that, if at all, it must be by a sort of re-conversion from without. I am not of those (excellent as I think them) who say, Remain and bear witness for the truth. There is a place where witness is ever to be borne for truth, that is to say for full and absolute truth, but it is not there.'[197]

He reproaches himself with being 'actively engaged in carrying on a process of, lowering the religious tone of the state, letting it down, demoralising it, and assisting in its transition into one which is mechanical.' The objects that warrant public life in one in whose case executive government must be an element, must be very special. True that in all probability the church will hold her nationality in substance beyond our day. 'I think she will hold it as long as the monarchy subsists.' So long the church will need parliamentary defence, but in what form? The dissenters had no members for universities, and yet their real representation was far better organised in proportion to its weight than the church, though formally not organised at all. 'Strength with the people will for our day at least be the only effectual defence of the church in the House of Commons, as the want of it is now our weakness there. It is not everything that calls itself a defence that is really such.'[198]


Manning expressed a strong fear, amounting almost to a belief, that the church of England must split asunder. 'Nothing can be firmer in my mind,' Mr. Gladstone replied (Aug. 31, 1846), 'than the opposite idea. She will live through her struggles, she has a great providential destiny before her. Recollect that for a century and a half, a much longer period than any for which puritan and catholic principles have been in conflict within the church of England, Jansenist and anti-Jansenist dwelt within the church of Rome with the unity of wolf and lamb. Their differences were not absorbed by the force of the church; they were in full vigour when the Revolution burst upon both. Then the breach between nation and church became so wide as to make the rivalries of the two church sections insignificant, and so to cause their fusion.' Later, he thinks that he finds a truer analogy between 'the superstition and idolatry that gnaws and corrodes' the life of the Roman church, and the puritanism that with at least as much countenance from authority abides in the English church. There are two systems, he says, in the English church vitally opposed to one another, and if they were equally developed they could not subsist together in the same sphere. If puritanical doctrines were the base of episcopal and collegiate teaching, then the church must either split or become heretical. As it is, the basis is on the whole anti-puritanic, and what we should call catholic. The conflict may go on as now, and with a progressive advance of the good principle against the bad one. 'That has been on the whole the course of things during our lifetime, and to judge from present signs it is the will of God that it should so continue.' (Dec. 7, 1846.)

The following to Mr. Phillimore sums up the case as he then believed it to stand (June 24, 1847):—

... The church is now in a condition in which her children may and must desire that she should keep her national position and her civil and proprietary rights, and that she should by degrees obtain the means of extending and of strengthening herself, not only by covering a greater space, but by a more vigorous organisation. Her attaining to this state of higher health depends in no small degree upon progressive adaptations of her state and her laws to her ever enlarging exigencies; these depend upon the humour of the state, and the state cannot and will not be in good humour with her, if she insists upon its being in bad humour with all other communions.

It seems to me, therefore, that while in substance we should all strive to sustain her in her national position, we shall do well on her behalf to follow these rules: to part earlier, and more freely and cordially, than heretofore with such of her privileges, here and there, as may be more obnoxious than really valuable, and some such she has; and further, not to presume too much to give directions to the state as to its policy with respect to other religious bodies.... This is not political expediency as opposed to religious principle. Nothing did so much damage to religion as the obstinate adherence to a negative, repressive, and coercive course. For a century and more from the Revolution it brought us nothing but outwardly animosities and inwardly lethargy. The revival of a livelier sense of duty and of God is now beginning to tell in the altered policy of the church.... As her sense of her spiritual work rises, she is becoming less eager to assert her exclusive claim, leaving that to the state as a matter for itself to decide; and she also begins to forego more readily, but cautiously, her external prerogatives.


[181] Some proceedings, I think, of Mr. Disraeli and his Young England friends.

[182] Chapter of Autobiography: Gleanings, vii. pp. 142-3.

[183] On Reserve in Communicating Religious Knowledge—Tracts 80 and 87. (1837-40). With the ominous and in every sense un-English superscription, Ad Clerum. Isaac Williams was the author.

[184] Life of Shaftesbury, i. p. 377. There is a letter from Bunsen (p. 373), in which he exclaims how wonderful it is 'that the great-grandson of Anthony Earl of Shaftesbury, the friend of Voltaire, should write thus to the great-grandson of Frederick the Great, the admirer of both.' But not more wonderful than Bunsen forgetting that Frederick had no children.

[185] See Memoirs of J. R. Hope-Scott, i. chapters 15-17. Apologia, chapter 3, ad fin.

[186] Story of Dr. Pusey's Life, p. 227.

[187] This letter of October 28 is in Purcell, Manning, i. p. 242.

[188] Mr. Gladstone to Dr. Hook, Jan. 30. '47.

[189] It was on the fifth of November, a week after this correspondence, that Manning preached the Guy Fawkes sermon which caused Newman to send J. A. Froude to the door to tell Manning that he was 'not at home.'—Purcell, i. pp. 245-9.

[190] For a full account of this book and its consequences the reader will always consult chapters xi., xii., and xiii., of Mr. Wilfrid Ward's admirably written work, William George Ward and the Oxford Movement.

[191] It was in the midst of these laborious employments that Mr. Gladstone published a prayer-book, compiled for family use, from the anglican liturgy. An edition of two thousand copies went off at once, and was followed by many editions more.

[192] William George Ward, p. 332.

[193] The story is told in Purcell, Manning, i. p. 318.

[194] Joseph Goerres, one of the most famous of European publicists and gazetteers between the two revolutionary epochs of 1789 and 1848. His journal was the Rhine Mercury, where the doctrine of a free and united Germany was preached (1814-16) with a force that made Napoleon call the newspaper a fifth great power. In times Goerres became a vehement ultramontane.

[195] See Friedrich's Life of Doellinger, ii. pp. 222-226, for a letter from Doellinger to Mr. Gladstone after his visit, dated Nov. 15, 1845.

[196] Hansard, June 6, 1844.

[197] To Manning, April 5, 1846.

[198] To Manning, April 19, 1846.

Book III





There is not a feature or a point in the national character which has made England great among the nations of the world, that is not strongly developed and plainly traceable in our universities. For eight hundred or a thousand years they have been intimately associated with everything that has concerned the highest interests of the country.—GLADSTONE.

In 1847 the fortunes of a general election brought Mr. Gladstone into relations that for many years to come deeply affected his political course. As a planet's orbit has puzzled astronomers until they discover the secret of its irregularities in the attraction of an unseen and unsuspected neighbour in the firmament, so some devious motions of this great luminary of ours were perturbations due in fact to the influence of his new constituency. As we have seen, Mr. Gladstone quitted Newark when he entered the cabinet to repeal the corn law. At the end of 1846, writing to Lord Lyttelton from Fasque, he tells him: 'I wish to be in parliament but coldly; feeling at the same time that I ought to wish it warmly on many grounds. But my father is so very keen in his protective opinions, and I am so very decidedly of the other way of thinking, that I look forward with some reluctance and regret to what must, when it happens, place me in marked and public contrast with him.' The thing soon happened.

I remained, he says, without a seat until the dissolution in June 1847. But several months before this occurred it had become known that Mr. Estcourt would vacate his seat for Oxford, and I became a candidate. It was a serious campaign. The constituency, much to its honour, did not stoop to fight the battle on the ground of protection. But it was fought, and that fiercely, on religious grounds. There was an incessant discussion, and I may say dissection, of my character and position in reference to the Oxford movement. This cut very deep, for it was a discussion which each member of the constituency was entitled to carry on for himself. The upshot was favourable. The liberals supported me gallantly, so did many zealous churchmen, apart from politics, and a good number of moderate men, so that I was returned by a fair majority. I held the seat for eighteen years, but with five contests and a final defeat.

The other sitting member after the retirement of Mr. Estcourt was Sir Robert Harry Inglis, who had beaten Peel by a very narrow majority in the memorable contest for the university seat on the final crisis of the catholic question in 1829. He was blessed with a genial character and an open and happy demeanour; and the fact that he was equipped with a full store of sincere and inexorable prejudices made it easy for him to be the most upright, honourable, kindly, and consistent of political men. Repeal of the Test acts, relief of the catholics, the Reform bill, relief of the Jews, reform of the Irish church, the grant to Maynooth, the repeal of the corn laws—one after another he had stoutly resisted the whole catalogue of revolutionising change. So manful a record made his seat safe. In the struggle for the second seat, Mr. Gladstone's friends encountered first Mr. Cardwell, a colleague of his as secretary of the treasury in the late government. Cardwell was deep in the confidence and regard of Sir Robert Peel, and he earned in after years the reputation of an honest and most capable administrator; but in these earlier days the ill-natured called him Peel-and-water, others labelled him latitudinarian and indifferent, and though he had the support of Peel, promised before Mr. Gladstone's name as candidate was announced, he thought it wise at a pretty early hour to withdraw from a triangular fight. The old high-and-dry party and the evangelical party combined to bring out Mr. Round. If he had achieved no sort of distinction, Mr. Round had at least given no offence: above all, he had kept clear of all those tractarian innovations which had been finally stamped with the censure of the university two years before.


Charles Wordsworth, his old tutor and now warden of Glenalmond, found it hard to give Mr. Gladstone his support, because he himself held to the high principle of state conscience, while the candidate seemed more than ever bent on the rival doctrine of social justice. Mr. Hallam joined his committee, and what that learned veteran's adhesion was in influence among older men, that of Arthur Clough was among the younger. Northcote described Clough to Mr. Gladstone as a very favourable specimen of a class, growing in numbers and importance among the younger Oxford men, a friend of Carlyle's, Frank Newman's, and others of that stamp; well read in German literature and an admirer of German intellect, but also a still deeper admirer of Dante; just now busily taking all his opinions to pieces and not beginning to put them together again; but so earnest and good that he might be trusted to work them into something better than his friends inclined to fear. Ruskin, again, who had the year before published the memorable second volume of his Modern Painters (he was still well under thirty), was on the right side, and the Oxford chairman is sure that Mr. Gladstone will appreciate at its full value the support of such high personal merit and extraordinary natural genius. Scott, the learned Grecian who had been beaten along with Mr. Gladstone in the contest for the Ireland scholarship seventeen years before, wrote to him:—'Ever since the time when you and I received Strypes at the hand of the vice-chancellor, and so you became my

[Greek: homomastigias labon agonos tas isas plegas emoi,'][1]

I have looked forward to your being the representative of the university.' Richard Greswell of Worcester was the faithful chairman of his Oxford committee now and to the end, eighteen years off. He had reached the dignity of a bachelor of divinity, but nearly all the rest were no more than junior masters.

Routh, the old president of Magdalen, declined to vote for him on the well-established ground that Christ Church had no business to hold both seats. Mr. Gladstone at once met this by the dexterous proposition that though Christ Church was not entitled to elect him against the wish of the other colleges, yet the other colleges were entitled to elect him if they liked, by giving him a majority not made up of Christ Church votes. His eldest brother had written to tell him in terms of affectionate regret, that he could take no part in the election; mere political differences would be secondary, but in the case of a university, religion came first, and there it was impossible to separate a candidate from his religious opinions. When the time came, however, partly under strong pressure from Sir John, Thomas Gladstone took a more lenient view and gave his brother a vote.

The Round men pointed triumphantly to their hero's votes on Maynooth and on the Dissenters' Chapels bill, and insisted on the urgency of upholding the principles of the united church of England and Ireland in their full integrity. The backers of Mr. Gladstone retorted by recalling their champion's career; how in 1834 he first made himself known by his resistance to the admission of dissenters to the universities; how in 1841 he threw himself into the first general move for the increase of the colonial episcopate, which had resulted in the erection of eleven new sees in six years; how zealously with energy and money he had laboured for a college training for the episcopalian clergy in Scotland; how instrumental he was in 1846, during the few months for which he held the seals of secretary of state, in erecting four colonial bishoprics; how the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, through the mouth of the Archbishop of Canterbury himself, had thanked him for his services; how long he had been an active supporter of the great societies for the spread of church principles, the propagation of church doctrines, and the erection of church fabrics. As for the Dissenters' Chapels bill, it was an act of simple justice and involved no principles at issue between the church and dissent, and Mr. Gladstone's masterly exposition of the tendency of dissent to drop one by one all the vital truths of Christianity was proclaimed to be a real service to the church. The reader will thus see the lie of the land, what it meant to be member for a university, and why Mr. Gladstone thought the seat the highest of electoral prizes.


A circular was issued impugning his position on protestant grounds. 'I humbly trust,' wrote Mr. Gladstone in reply (July 26), 'that its writers are not justified in exhibiting me to the world as a person otherwise than heartily devoted to the doctrine and constitution of our reformed church. But I will never consent to adopt as the test of such doctrine, a disposition to identify the great and noble cause of the church of England with the restraint of the civil rights of those who differ from her.' Much was made of Mr. Gladstone's refusal to vote for the degradation of Ward. People wrote to the newspapers that it was an admitted and notorious fact that a sister of Mr. Gladstone's under his own influence had gone over to the church of Rome.[200] The fable was retracted, but at once revived in the still grosser untruth, that he habitually employed 'a Jesuitical system of argument' to show that nobody need leave the church of England, 'because all might be had there that was to be enjoyed in the church of Rome.' Maurice published a letter to a London clergyman vigorously remonstrating against the bigoted spirit that this election was warming into life, and fervently protesting against making a belief in the Nicene creed into the same thing as an opinion about a certain way of treating the property of unitarians. 'One artifice of this kind,' said Maurice, 'has been practised in this election which it makes me blush to speak of. Mr. Ward called the reformation a vile and accursed thing; Mr. Gladstone voted against a certain measure for the condemnation of Mr. Ward; therefore he spoke of the reformation as a vile and accursed thing. I should not have believed it possible that such a conclusion had been drawn from such premisses even by our religious press.'

The worthy Mr. Round, on the other hand, was almost impregnable. A diligent scrutiny at last dragged the dark fact to the light of day, that he had actually sat on Peel's election committee at the time of catholic emancipation in 1829, and had voted for him against Inglis. So it appears, said the mocking Gladstonians, that the protestant Mr. Round 'was willing to lend a helping hand to the first of a series of measures which are considered by his supporters as fraught with danger to the country's very best interests.' A still more sinister rumour was next bruited abroad: that Mr. Round attended a dissenting place of worship, and he was constrained to admit that, once in 1845 and thrice in 1846, he had been guilty of this blacksliding. The lost ground, however, was handsomely recovered by a public declaration that the very rare occasions on which he had been present at other modes of Christian worship had only confirmed his affection and reverential attachment to the services and formularies of his own church.


The nomination was duly made in the Sheldonian theatre (July 29), the scene of so many agitations in these fiery days. Inglis was proposed by a canon of Christ Church, Round by the master of Balliol, and Gladstone by Dr. Richards, the rector of Exeter. The prime claim advanced for him by his proposer, was his zeal for the English church in word and deed, above all his energy in securing that wherever the English church went, thither bishoprics should go too. Besides all this, his master work, he had found time to spare not only for public business of the commonwealth, but for the study of theology, philosophy, and the arts.[201] Then the voting began. The Gladstonians went into the battle with 1100 promises. Northcote,[202] passing vigilant days in the convocation house, sent daily reports to Mr. Gladstone at Fasque. Peel went up to vote for him (splitting for Inglis); Ashley went up to vote against him. At the close of the second day things looked well, but there was no ground for over-confidence. Inglis was six hundred ahead of Gladstone, and Gladstone only a hundred and twenty ahead of Round. The next day Round fell a little more behind, and when the end came (August 3) the figures stood:—Inglis 1700, Gladstone 997, Round 824, giving Gladstone a majority of 173 over his competitor.

Numbers were not the only important point. When the poll came to be analysed by eager statisticians, the decision of the electors was found to have a weight not measured by an extra hundred and seventy votes. For example, Mr. Gladstone had among his supporters twenty-five double-firsts against seven for Round, and of single first-classes he had one hundred and fifty-seven against Round's sixty-six. Of Ireland and Hertford scholars Mr. Gladstone had nine to two and three to one respectively; and of chancellor's prizemen who voted he had forty-five against twelve. Of fellows of colleges he had two hundred and eighteen against one hundred and twenty-eight, and his majority in this class was highest where the elections to fellowships were open. The heads of the colleges told a different tale. Of these, sixteen voted for Round and only four for Gladstone. This discrepancy it was that gave its significance to the victory. Sitting in the convocation house watching the last casual voters drop in at the rate of two or three an hour through the summer afternoon, the ever faithful Northcote wrote to Mr. Gladstone at Fasque:—

Since I have been here, the contest has seemed even more interesting than it did in London. The effect of the contest itself has apparently been good. It has brought together the younger men without distinction of party, and has supplied the elements of a very noble party which will now look to you as a leader. I think men of all kinds are prepared to trust you, and though each feels that you will probably differ from his set in some particulars, each seems disposed to waive objections for the sake of the general good he expects....

The victory is not looked upon as 'Puseyite'; it is a victory of the masters over the Hebdomadal board, and as such a very important one. The Heads felt it their last chance, and are said to have expressed themselves accordingly. The provost of Queen's, who is among the dissatisfied supporters of Round, said the other day, 'He would rather be represented by an old woman than by a young man.' It is not as a Maynoothian that you are dreaded here, though they use the cry against you and though that is the country feeling, but as a possible reformer and a man who thinks. On the other hand, the young men exult, partly in the hope that you will do something for the university yourself, partly in the consciousness that they have shown the strength of the magisterial party by carrying you against the opposition of the Heads, and have proved their title to be considered an important element of the university. They do not seem yet to be sufficiently united to effect great things, but there is a large amount of ability and earnestness which only wants direction, and this contest has tended to unite them. 'Puseyism' seems rather to be a name of the past, though there are still Puseyites of importance. Marriott, Mozley, and Church appear to be regarded as leaders; but Church who is now abroad, is looked upon as something more, and I am told may be considered on the whole the fairest exponent of the feelings of the place. Stanley, Jowett, Temple, and others are great names in what is nicknamed the Germanising party. Lake, and perhaps I should say Temple, hold an intermediate position between the two parties.... Whatever may have been the evils attendant on the Puseyite movement, and I believe they were neither few nor small, it has been productive of great results; and it is not a little satisfactory to see how its distinctive features are dying away and the spirit surviving, instead of the spirit departing and leaving a great sham behind it.


Of the many strange positions to which in his long and ardent life Mr. Gladstone was brought, none is more startling than to find him, as in this curious moment at Oxford, the common rallying-point of two violently antagonistic sections of opinion. Dr. Pusey supported him; Stanley and Jowett supported him. The old school who looked on Oxford as the ancient and peculiar inheritance of the church were zealous for him; the new school who deemed the university an organ not of the church but of the nation, eagerly took him for their champion. A great ecclesiastical movement, reviving authority and tradition, had ended in complete academic repulse in 1845. It was now to be followed by an anti-ecclesiastical movement, critical, sceptical, liberal, scornful of authority, doubtful of tradition. Yet both the receding force and the rising force united to swell the stream that bore Mr. Gladstone to triumph at the poll. The fusion did not last. The two bands speedily drew off into their rival camps, to arm themselves in the new conflict for mastery between obscurantism and illumination. The victor was left with his laurels in what too soon proved to be, after all, a vexed and precarious situation, that he could neither hold with freedom nor quit with honour.

Meanwhile he thoroughly enjoyed his much coveted distinction:—

To Mrs. Gladstone.

Exeter Coll., Nov. 2, 1847.—This morning in company with Sir R. Inglis, and under the protection or chaperonage of the dean, I have made the formal circuit of visits to all the heads of houses and all the common-rooms. It has gone off very well. There was but one reception by a head (Corpus) that was not decidedly kind, and that was only a little cold. Marsham (Merton), who is a frank, warm man, keenly opposed, said very fairly, to Inglis, 'I congratulate you warmly'; and then to me, 'And I would be very glad to do the same to you, Mr. Gladstone, if I could think you would do the same as Sir R. Inglis.' I like a man for this. They say the dean should have asked me to dine to-day, but I think he may be, and perhaps wisely, afraid of recognising me in any very marked way, for fear of endangering the old Christ Church right to one seat which it is his peculiar duty to guard.

We dined yesterday in the hall at Christ Church, it being a grand day there. Rather unfortunately the undergraduates chose to make a row in honour of me during dinner, which the two censors had to run all down the hall to stop. This had better not be talked about. Thursday the warden of All Souls' has asked me and I think I must accept; had it not been a head (and it is one of the little party of four who voted for me) I should not have doubted, but at once have declined.


[199] Frogs, 756; the second line is Scott's own. An Aristophanic friend translates:—

'Good brother-rogue, we've shared the selfsame beating: At least, we carried off one Strype apiece.'

Strype was the book given to Scott and Gladstone as being good seconds to the winner of the Ireland. See above p. 61.

[200] Standard, May 29, 1847.

[201] The proposer's Latin is succinct, and may be worth giving for its academic flavour:—'Jam inde a pueritia literarum studio imbutus, et in celeberrimo Etonensi gymnasio informatus, ad nostram accessit academiam, ubi morum honestate, pietate, et pudore nemini aequalium secundus, indole et ingenio facile omnibus antecellebat. Summis deinde nostrae academiae honoribus cumulatus ad res civiles cum magna omnium expectatione se contulit; expectatione tamen major omni evasit. In senatus enim domum inferiorem cooptatus, eam ad negotia tractanda habilitatem, et ingenii perspicacitatem exhibebat, ut reipublicae administrationis particeps et adjutor adhuc adolescens fieret. Quantum erga ecclesiam Anglicanam ejus studium non verba, sed facta, testentur. Is enim erat qui inter primos et perpaucos summo labore et eloquentia contendebat, ut ubicunque orbis terrarum ecclesia Anglicana pervenisset, episcopatus quoque eveheretur. Et quamdiu e secretis Reginae fuit, ecclesia Anglicana apud colonos nostros plurimis locis labefactam sua ope stabilivit, et patrocinium ejus suscepit. Neque vero publicis negotiis adeo se dedit quin theologiae, philosophiae, artium studio vacaret. Quae cum ita sint, si delegatum, Academici, cooptare velimus, qui cum omni laude idem nostris rebus decus et tutamen sit, et qui summa eloquentiae et argumenti vi, jura et libertates nostras tueri queat, hunc hodie suffragiis nostris comprobemus.'

[202] Stafford Northcote had been private secretary to Mr. Gladstone at the board of trade. On the appointment of his first private secretary, Mr. Rawson, to a post in Canada in 1842, Mr. Gladstone applied to Coleridge of Eton to recommend a successor. He suggested three names, Farrer, afterwards Lord Farrer, Northcote, and Pocock. Northcote, who looked to a political career, was chosen. 'Mr. Gladstone,' he wrote to a friend, June 30, 1842, 'is the man of all others among the statesmen of the present day to whom I should desire to attach myself.... He is one whom I respect beyond measure; he stands almost alone as representative of principles with which I cordially agree; and as a man of business, and one who humanly speaking is sure to rise, he is preeminent.'—Lang's Life of Lord Iddesleigh, i. pp. 63-67.




It is no Baseness for the Greatest to descend and looke into their owne Estate. Some forbeare it, not upon Negligence alone, But doubting to bring themselves into Melancholy in respect they shall finde it Broken. But wounds cannot be cured without Searching. Hee that cleareth by Degrees induceth a habit of Frugalitie, and gaineth as well upon his Minde, as upon his Estate.—BACON.

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