William Ewart Gladstone

William Ewart Gladstone

William Ewart Gladstone, the fourth son of Sir John Gladstone, was born in Liverpool on 29th December, 1809. Gladstone was a MP and a successful merchant. William was educated at Eton and Christ College. At the Oxford Union Debating Society Gladstone developed a reputation as a fine orator. At university Gladstone was a Tory and denounced Whig proposals for parliamentary reform.

In 1832, the Duke of Newcastle was looking for a Conservative Party candidate for his Newark constituency. Although a nomination borough, Newark had been spared in the 1832 Reform Act. Sir John Gladstone was a friend of the Duke and suggested his son would make a good MP.

Two years after entering the House of Commons as MP for Newark, Sir Robert Peel, the Prime Minister, appointed William Gladstone as his junior lord of the Treasury. The following year he was promoted to under-secretary for the colonies. Gladstone lost office when Peel resigned in 1835 but returned to the government when the Whigs were forced out of power in August, 1841. Gladstone now became vice-president of the board of trade and in 1843 was promoted to the post of president. In 1844 Gladstone was responsible for the Railway Bill that introduced what became known as parliamentary trains. As a result of this legislation railway companies had to transport third-class travellers for fares that did not exceed a penny a mile. These parliamentary trains had to stop at every station and had to travel at not less than 12 miles an hour.

In 1845 the Duke of Newcastle refused to support Gladstone candidature for Newark. Newcastle was a protectionists and had been upset by Gladstone's conversion to the reform of the Corn Laws. Although no longer an MP, Gladstone remained in Peel's cabinet until Lord John Russell, the leader of the Whig Party, became Prime Minister in July 1847.

In the 1847 General Election that followed, Gladstone was elected the Conservative MP for Oxford University. He remained on the opposition benches until Lord Aberdeen formed a coalition government with Lord Palmerston as Home Secretary, Lord John Russell as Foreign Secretary and Gladstone as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Aberdeen's government survived until March 1857.

When Lord Palmerston, the leader of the Whigs, became Prime Minister in June, 1859, he offered Gladstone the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer. One of his most important reforms was the abolition of the paper duty which enabled publishers to produce cheap newspapers. Gladstone had always opposed parliamentary reform but when Edward Baines introduced a reform bill he spoke in favour of the measure. In his speech Gladstone pointed out that only one fiftieth of the working classes had the vote. He argued that this was unfair and that the law should be changed to increase this number. However, this was very much a minority view and Baines's proposal was defeated by 272 votes to 56.

In the general election of July 1865, the voters at Oxford University had been upset by Gladstone's move from the Conservative Party and he lost his seat. Gladstone now moved to the constituency of South Lancashire. The new Prime Minister, Lord John Russell, asked Gladstone to become leader of the House of Commons as well as Chancellor of the Exchequer. On 12th March 1866, Gladstone introduced the government's new reform bill. In the debate Gladstone admitted that he was a recent convert to parliamentary reform. With Conservative opposition to the measure, Russell's government found it impossible to get the bill passed by the House of Commons. On 19th June 1866, Russell's administration resigned.

Lord Derby, leader of the Conservatives, now became Prime Minister. The Conservatives knew that if the Liberals returned to power, Russell and Gladstone was certain to try again. Benjamin Disraeli, leader of the House of Commons, argued that the Conservatives were in danger of being seen as an anti-reform party. in 1867 Disraeli proposed a new Reform Act. Lord Cranborne (later Marquis of Salisbury) resigned in protest against this extension of democracy. In the House of Commons, Disraeli's proposals were supported by Gladstone and his followers and the measure was passed.

Lord Palmerston (starter): "Hi! Gladstone! Democracy!Too soon, Too soon! You mustn't go yet!" John Tenniel, Punch Magazine, 28th May, 1864
Lord Palmerston (starter): "Hi! Gladstone! Democracy!
Too soon, Too soon! You mustn't go yet!"
John Tenniel, Punch Magazine, 28th May, 1864

The 1867 Reform Act gave the vote to every male adult householder living in a borough constituency. Male lodgers paying £10 for unfurnished rooms were also granted the vote. This gave the vote to about 1,500,000 men. The Reform Act also dealt with constituencies and boroughs with less than 10,000 inhabitants lost one of their MPs. The forty-five seats left available were distributed by: (i) giving fifteen to towns which had never had an MP; (ii) giving one extra seat to some larger towns - Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds; (iii) creating a seat for the University of London; (iv) giving twenty-five seats to counties whose population had increased since 1832.

In the general election of December 1868, the Conservatives were defeated and Gladstone, leader of the Liberal Party, became Prime Minister. In 1870 Gladstone and his education minister, William Forster, managed to persuade Parliament to pass the government's Education Act that established school boards in Britain.

After the passing of the 1867 Reform Act working class males now formed the majority in most borough constituencies. However, employers were still able to use their influence in some constituencies because of the open system of voting. In parliamentary elections people still had to mount a platform and announce their choice of candidate to the officer who then recorded it in the poll book. Employers and local landlords therefore knew how people voted and could punish them if they did not support their preferred candidate. In 1872 Gladstone's removed this intimidation when his government brought in the Ballot Act which introduced a secret system of voting.

In the 1874 General Election the Conservative Party won with a majority of forty-six. Benjamin Disraeli became Prime Minister and Gladstone led the Liberal Party opposition. For the next couple of years Gladstone concentrated on writing his book An Inquiry into the Time and Place of Homer in History (1876). However, he was stirred into action when he read about the massacres and tortures inflicted upon the inhabitants of Bulgaria by their Turkish rulers. This resulted in him writing a pamphlet Bulgarian Horrors and the Question of the East (1876). Parliament was dissolved in 1880, and the general election resulted in a overwhelming Liberal victory.

Gladestone's wife found the duties associated with managing a political household onerous and uninteresting and his daughter, Mary Gladstone, now aged 33 years old, played the main role as the hostess at the family residences. Susan K. Harris, the author of The Cultural Work of the Late Nineteenth-Century Hostess (2004) has pointed out: "Once Gladstone resumed office his daughter's influence would be a major attraction for many people, who saw her as a way to reach her powerful father."

Mary was extremely interested in political ideas. In August 1883 she began reading Progress and Poverty, a book by Henry George. Mary wrote in her diary that the book is "supposed to be the most upsetting, revolutionary book of the age. At present Maggie and I both agree with it, and most brilliantly written it is. We had long discussions. He (her father) is reading it too." Gladstone later remarked "it is well-written but a wild book".

Gladstone did introduced three new measures concerning parliamentary reform. The Corrupt Practices Act specified how much money candidates could spend during election time and banned such activities as the buying of food or drink for voters. The act even stated the number of conveyances that could be used for bringing voters to the polls.

In 1884 Gladstone introduced his proposals that would give working class males the same voting rights as those living in the boroughs. Although the bill was passed in the House of Commons it was rejected by the Conservative dominated House of Lords. Gladstone refused to accept defeat and reintroduced the measure. This time the Conservative members of the Lords agreed to pass Gladstone's proposals in return for the promise that it would be followed by a Redistribution Bill. Gladstone accepted their terms and the 1884 Reform Act was allowed to become law. This measure gave the counties the same franchise as the boroughs - adult male householders and £10 lodgers - and added about six million to the total number who could vote in parliamentary elections.

Some members of the Liberal Party wanted Gladstone to introduce women's suffrage. This included James Stuart, the MP for Cambridge University. In March, 1884, Stuart wrote to Mary Gladstone and suggested that female franchisement should follow lines already established by those municipalities that did allow women to vote: "To make women more independent of men is, I am convinced, one of the great fundamental means of bringing about justice, morality, and happiness both for married and unmarried men and women. If all Parliament were like the three men you mention, would there be no need for women's votes? Yes, I think there would. There is only one perfectly just, perfectly understanding Being - and that is God." He added: "No man is all-wise enough to select rightly - it is the people's voice thrust upon us, not elicited by us, that guides us rightly." Mary passed this information onto her father but he refused to change his policy.

Mary Gladstone married Harry Drew, the curate of Hawarden in Westminster Abbey on 2nd February 1886. In August 1886 she miscarried a son and was dangerously ill for five months. Mary now became involved in a debate with her father on the subject of birth-control. Mary discovered that her father had been sent a copy of The Ethics of Marriage by Hiram Sterling Pomeroy. She wrote to her father about the book on 27th October, 1887: "Dearest Father: I saw that a book called Ethics of Marriage was sent to you, & I am writing this to ask you to lend it me. You may think it an unfitting book to lend, but perhaps you do not know of the great battle we of this generation have to fight, on behalf of morality in marriage. If I did not know that this book deals with what I am referring to, I should not open the subject at all, as I think it sad & useless for any one to know of these horrors unless the, are obliged to try & counteract them. For when one once knows of an evil in our midst, one is partly responsible for it. I do not wish to speak to Mama about it, because when I did, she in her innocence, thought that by ignoring it, the evil would cease to exist."

In the letter Mary pointed out that it was becoming clear that society was changing. "What is called the American sin is now almost universally practised in the upper classes; one sign of it easily seen is the Peerage, where you will see that among those married in the last 15 years, the children of the large majority are under 5 in number, & it is spreading even among the clergy, & from them to the poorer classes. The Church of England Purity Society has been driven to take up the question, & it was openly dealt with at tile Church Congress. As a clergyman's wife, I have been a good deal consulted, & have found myself almost alone amongst my friends & contemporaries, in the line I have taken ... everything that hacks up this line strengthens this line, is of inestimable value to me, & therefore this book will be a help to me ... It is almost impossible to make people see it is a sin against nature as well as against God."

Gladstone and his party won the 1886 General Election. Gladstone now attempted to convince Parliament to accept Irish Home Rule. The proposal split the party and Parliament rejected the measure. Gladstone was defeated in the polls in the 1886 General Election but was once again elected to office in 1892. The following year the Irish Home Rule Bill was passed in the House of Commons but was defeated in the House of Lords.

William Stead wrote in 1892: "Mr. Gladstone is old enough to be the grandfather of the younger race of politicians, but his courage, his faith, and his versatility, put the youngest of them to shame. It is this ebullience of youthful energy, this inexhaustible vitality, which is the admiration and the despair of his contemporaries. Surely when a schoolboy at Eton he must somewhere have discovered the elixir of life or have been bathed by some beneficent fairy in the well of perpetual youth. Gladly would many a man of fifty exchange physique with this hale and hearty octogenarian. Only in one respect does he show any trace of advancing years. His hearing is not quite so good as it was, but still it is far better than that of Cardinal Manning, who became very deaf in the closing years. Otherwise Mr. Gladstone is hale and hearty. His eye is not dim, neither is his natural force abated. A splendid physical frame, carefully preserved, gives every promise of a continuance of his green old age."

Gladstone was still coming under pressure from the left-wing of his party to introduce the vote for women. In 1892 he read the book, The Emancipation of Women and Its Probable Consequences, that had been published in Leipzig. Written by Adele Crepaz it was a strong attack on those calling for reform. Susan K. Harris has pointed out: "If women take the jobs, Crepaz argues, men won't be able to support wives and families. Hence marriage rates will decrease. And if marriage rates decrease, culture will fail. Additionally, women who work won't be able to serve their husbands as they should, with the consequence that woman's nature will be prevented. Even women doctors ultimately undermine women's sacred role. Rather than trying to serve in more than one capacity, women should remember that the greatest civic role is to bring up their children well, and that the highest moral role is to serve their husbands."

Gladstone read the book in German and urged Crepaz to have it published in English. He wrote to Crepaz to say that "it seems to me by far the most comprehensive, luminous, and penetrating work on this question that I have yet met with." In 1893 it was translated into English and published in London. It included the letter that Gladstone had sent Crepaz. Ellis Wright, who did the translation has suggested: "Whilst.... acknowledging most fully the benefit accruing to the women of Great Britain from increased facilities for self-support, it is against their claim to equal political and social right with men that Frau Crepaz would earnestly protest, convinced that therein lies much danger to the welfare of humanity. The recognition accorded to her views by England's Prime Minister is some indication that they are not without supporters in this country."

Gladstone sent copies of the book to female members of the Liberal Party who supported women being given the vote. Margaret Cowell Stepney was one of those who sent her comments on the book to the prime-minister: "I feel fearfully presumptuous in venturing, in any way, to criticize a book which you have commended - but as you were good enough to tell me to say what I thought, I must answer truly.... I cannot believe, that there is more danger in mothers making their daughters self-supporting, than in mothers who look upon marriage as the only aim of existence - and, there seems to me to be possibly some weak point in the suggestion that when the husband dies, the widow who cannot work, may always look for help, with confidence, from relations, friends, and charitable institutions - surely in their cases at least - widows - girls who cannot marry - or who can only marry, as a means of livelihood - there may be reason for wishing that women should have independence of a profession?"

William Gladstone resigned from office in March 1894 and died after suffering a heart-attack at Hawarden Castle on 19th May, 1898.

© , September 1997 - April 2014

Primary Sources

(1) William Gladstone, letter to Lord Palmerston (11th May, 1864)

I am warmly in favour of an extension of the Borough Franchise, I hope I did not commit the Government to anything: nor myself to a particular form of franchise. I stated that I wished to leave the form and figure open; that I was for a sensible and considerable, but not excessive enlargement.

(2) William Gladstone, letter to Lord Palmerston (13th May, 1864)

I have never exhorted the working men to agitate for the franchise, and I am at a loss to conceive what report of my speech can have been construed by you in such a sense. I argued as strongly as I could against the withdrawal of the Reform Bill in 1860. I think the party which supports your Government has suffered and is suffering and will much more seriously suffer from the part which is a party it has played within these recent years, in regard to the franchise.

(3) William Gladstone, letter to Lord Palmerston (23rd May, 1864)

My speech cannot I admit be taken for less than a declaration that, when a favourable state of opinion and circumstances shall arise, the working class ought to be enfranchised to some extent as was contemplated in the Reform Bill of 1860.

(4) In his autobiography, Fate Has Been Kind, Frederick Pethick-Lawrence described meeting Gladstone while studying at Eton College.

Another illustrious visitor to whom I was presented was the Rt. Hon. W. E. Gladstone. He came to Eton to lecture on Homer, a relaxation-subject in which he took great interest, though his views on it were considered by the orthodox to be unsound. The headmaster invited me to dine with him and I remember, talked a great deal throughout the meal about the merits of sliding seats in the school boats. He was already in advanced years and was evidently rather deaf, as he occasionally made asides to his wife in audible tones which we were not intended to overhear. But his eye was still keen and his face bespoke a personality accustomed to make decisions and to be obeyed.

(5) William Stead, Darlington Northern Echo (24th June, 1876)

It will be bad news for England if, while the respite it has procured for Turkey endures, the smouldering sparks of rebellion sown broadcast throughout the Empire should suddenly blaze up, and bring to pass a general conflagration. We shall not be able to plead that there were no warnings of such an eventuality.

It is true that we have Ministerial cries of "Peace, peace;" but the telegraph contradicts them, and a crowd of witnesses attest the contrary. Never since the Herzogovinese took up arms to avenge their wrongs and enforce redress has the aspect of affairs been so ominous. These rebels are still in the field. Servia and Montenegro are but waiting for permission from their patron, Russia, to raise the standard of revolt. On the fringe of the Empire, if we may so speak, the Slav population is profoundly disquieted. Both men and money are freely offered to assist the insurgents in their attempts to break the chains of an intolerable servitude. While such is the state of things in these localities, a war of extermination is being carried on against the Christians in Bulgaria! Upon the provocation of an insurrection the dimensions of which cannot have been great, a company of Bashi-Bazouks, the off-scourings of Turkish society, which sufficiently describes their character, were let loose upon the people, and never did dogs pursue their game more mercilessly. A wide region of central Bulgaria has been laid waste. The names of thirty-seven villages are given that have been utterly destroyed. Men, women, and children have been ruthlessly murdered. Among the incidents mentioned is the burning of a stable with forty or fifty young women within its walls; and a massacre of innocents, to the number of a hundred, found in a school house. The details are sickening. The total slaughter can only be guessed at. The effect of these atrocities is not pacificatory. As the story becomes known through the disaffected provinces a new impulse will be given to the wish for deliverance. The precise relation of Russia to the Christian subjects of the Sultan is questionable. It may, as suspected, or may not, as it pretends, be fermenting discontent; but this much is certain that it is to Russia that these unhappy people are looking for sympathy and aid. Not to Christian England.

England is Turkey's friend. The Mussulmans (sic) are going about saying that England will not see the Empire broken up - that, if necessary, it will help to put down insurrections; and that every indication of vigour in this direction, as in Bulgaria, is sure of it warmest approbation. Is all this a delusion? or has England been committed to the course of action thus defined? It is high time that we had an authoritative explanation of our position in relation to Turkey. We are held accountable for the lack of energy displayed in applying the reforms which might give satisfaction to the insurgents. It is to England that Continental critics ascribe the "days of grace" the Treaty Powers have granted; and which, as we learn, are slipping away unimproved, witnessing as they pass a constant aggravation of circumstances, and a heaping up of obstacles to a satisfactory settlement. How and by what means have we been made responsible for these things? The country is too much in the dark respecting transactions that nearly affects its character, and which may be tending to issues it would deeply deplore. If the "sage forbearance" and "patriotic reserve," as Mr. Disraeli phrases the extreme moderation of the Liberal leaders, continue much longer, we trust some independent member of Parliament will force from ministers a more particular declaration of their policy, and a more detailed statement of their proceedings than they seem disposed to give. The aspect of affairs is decidedly alarming; and it will be little consolation should our fears be fulfilled, that we exhibited a "sage forbearance," a "patriotic reserve," while the several atoms of discord were drifting into collision, repressing with exemplary patience and marvellous self-command, the curiosity which might have framed embarrassing questions, but questions that, if asked, and asked in time, might have kept us from trouble, and averted from Europe a sanguinary war.

(6) William Stead, journal entry (14th January, 1877)

I am apparently more useful than ever. The Bulgarian atrocity agitation was in a great measure my work. I have received the highest compliments from Gladstone, Freeman, W. E. Forster, John Bright and Lord Hartington. I have been praised beyond my utmost expectation. I believe that in God's hands I have been instrumental in doing much to prevent a great national crime, a war with Russia on the side of the Turks. New possibilities of usefulness open out. Life is once more brilliant as in the heroic days. Our time is as capable of Divine service as Puritan times. The agitation of this Recess has rekindled my faith in my countrymen, renewed my faith in Liberalism, strengthened my trust in God. For the Bulgarian agitation was due to a Divine voice. I felt the clear call of God's voice, "Arouse the nation or be damned". If I did not do all I could, I would deserve damnation.

I had a terrible afternoon. It was like a Divine possession that shook me almost to pieces, wrung me and left me shuddering and weak in an agony of tears. I went out determined to do this and nothing else until such time as my mission was revoked. I knew not how it would he taken. Bell fortunately was away in Switzer­land and I threw myself heart and soul, and the paper heart and soul, into the movement. I knew I might perish by overstrained excitement. I felt that like Jacob I had met the angel of God and I did not know but that I might have a lifelong limp in consequence of the meeting. There were minor considerations. It was with fear and trembling that I went to the first meeting at Darlington, but it was a great success. Others followed and, when Mr. Gladstone published his pamphlet, I felt that my work was crowned and assumed by other hands, more able than mine. I had written to Mr. Gladstone on the night of the meeting expressing my hope that he would justify the confidence reposed in him by all of us. I felt his pamphlet to be an answer to my letter. I am inclined to attribute some of Mr. Gladstone's evident desire to please me to his consciousness that I was the first to sound in his ears the summons which God had already spoken to his soul. I look back with un­feigned joy to the strain and exertion of that exciting time. I wrote dozens of letters a day, appealing, exhorting, entreating and at last I roused the North. I felt that I was called to preach a new crusade. Not against Islam, which I reverenced, but against the Turks who disgraced Humanity. I realised the feelings of Peter the Hermit. God was with me.

(7) William Ewart Gladstone, Bulgarian Horrors and the Question of the East (1876)

Let the Turks now carry away their abuses, in the only possible manner, namely, by carrying off themselves. Their Zaptiehs and their Mudirs, their Blmhashis and Yuzbashis, their Kaimakams and their Pashas, one and all, bag and baggage, shall, I hope, clear out from the province that they have desolated and profaned. This thorough riddance, this most blessed deliverance, is the only reparation we can make to those heaps and heaps of dead, the violated purity alike of matron and of maiden and of child; to the civilization which has been affronted and shamed; to the laws of God, or, if you like, of Allah; to the moral sense of mankind at large. There is not a criminal in an European jail, there is not a criminal in the South Sea Islands, whose indignation would not rise and over-boil at the recital of that which has been done, which has too late been examined, but which remains unavenged, which has left behind all the foul and all the fierce passions which produced it and which may again spring up in another murderous harvest from the soil soaked and reeking with blood and in the air tainted with every imaginable deed of crime and shame. That such things should be done once is a damning disgrace to the portion of our race which did them; that the door should be left open to the ever so barely possible repetition would spread that shame over the world.

We may ransack the annals of the world, but I know not what research can furnish us with so portentous an example of the fiendish misuse of the powers established by God for the punishment of evil doers and the encouragement of them that do well. No government ever has so sinned, none has proved itself so incorrigible in sin, or which is the same, so impotent in reformation.

(8) Mary Gladstone Drew, letter of William Ewart Gladstone (27th October, 1886)

Dearest Father: I saw that a book called Ethics of Marriage was sent to you, & I am writing this to ask you to lend it me. You may think it an unfitting book to lend, but perhaps you do not know of the great battle we of this generation have to fight, on behalf of morality in marriage. If I did not know that this book deals with what I am referring to, I should not open the subject at all, as I think it sad & useless for any one to know of these horrors unless the, are obliged to try & counteract them.

For when one once knows of an evil in our midst, one is partly responsible for it. I do not wish to speak to Mama about it, because when I did, she in her innocence, thought that by ignoring it, the evil would cease to exist. What is called the 'American sin' is now almost universally practised in the upper classes; one sign of it easily seen is the Peerage, where you will see that among those married in the last 15 years, the children of the large majority are under 5 in number, & it is spreading even among the clergy, & from them to the poorer classes. The Church of England Purity Society has been driven to take up the question, & it was openly dealt with at tile Church Congress. As a clergyman's wife, I have been a good deal consulted, & have found myself almost alone amongst my friends & contemporaries, in the line I have taken ... everything that hacks up this line strengthens this line, is of inestimable value to me, & therefore this book will be a help to me ... It is almost impossible to make people see it is a sin against nature as well as against God. But it is possible to impress them on the physical side. Dr. Matthews Duncan, Sir Andrew Clark & Sir James Paget utterly condemn the practice, & declare the physical consequences to be extremely bad. But they have little influence. If you quote them, the answer always is "They belong to the past generation. They cannot judge of the difficulties of this one."

I would not have dreamed of opening the subject, only that as you are reading the book, you cannot help becoming aware of the present sad state of things. It is what frightens me about England's future.

(9) Margaret Cowell Stepney, letter to William Gladstone (17th March, 1892)

It seems to me to be written with immense thought - the ideas (so far as I can judge) are beautifully expressed - and the tracing of the very roots of the question, in all times and countries, is most deeply interesting - and makes one think over the whole great problem in quite a fresh way. With all Mme Crepaz's views as to the Blessedness of Motherhood, and the Supreme duty of women to their husbands and children...

I cannot believe, that there is more danger in mothers making their daughters self-supporting, than in mothers who look upon marriage as the only aim of existence - and, there seems to me to be possibly some weak point in the suggestion that when the husband dies, the widow who cannot work, may always look for help, with confidence, from relations, friends, and charitable institutions - surely in their cases at least - widows - girls who cannot marry - or who can only marry, as a means of livelihood - there may be reason for wishing that women should have independence of a profession?

I wish that Mme Crepaz had said a little more about woman's suffrage. My own earnest hope is, that someday - some way may be found, for women to give their votes (or to send them by proxy or by post) without themselves entering any further into political life - and without disturbing the sacred quietness of home - but, if your decision is eventually against this hope - of course I shall feel that you must be right - and that I must be wrong. I feel fearfully presumptuous in venturing, in any way, to criticize a book which you have commended - but as you were good enough to tell me to say what I thought, I must answer truly.

(10) William Stead, The Review of Reviews (April, 1892)

So much has been written about Mr. Gladstone that it was with some sinking of heart I ventured to select him as a subject for my next character sketch. But I took heart of grace when I remembered that the object of these sketches is to describe their subject as he appears to himself at his best, and not as he appears to his enemies at his worst. So I surrender myself to the full luxury of painting what may be described as the heroic Mr. Gladstone, the Mr. Gladstone who for a quarter of a century has excited the almost idolatrous devotion of millions of his countrymen. There are plenty of other people ready to fill in the shadows. This paper is merely an attempt to catch, as it were, the outline of the heroic figure which has dominated English politics for the lifetime of this generation, and thereby to explain something of the fascination which his personality has exercised and still exercises over the men and women of his time. If his enemies, and they are many, say that I have idealised a wily old opportunist out of all recognition, I answer that to the majority of his fellow subjects my portrait is not over drawn. The real Gladstone may be other than this, but this is probably more like the Gladstone for whom the electors believe they are voting than a picture of Gladstone "warts and all " would be. And when I am abused, as I know I shall be, for printing such a sketch, I shall reply that there is at least one thing to be said in its favour. To those who know him best in his own household, and to those who only know him as a great name in history, my sketch will only appear faulty because it does not do full justice to the character and the genius of this extraordinary man.

Mr. Gladstone appeals to the men of to-day from the vantage-point of extreme old age. Age is so frequently dotage, that when a veteran appears who preserves the heart of a boy and the happy audacity of youth under the "lyart haffets wearing thin and bare" of aged manhood, it seems as if there is something supernatural about it, and all men feel the fascination and the charm. Mr. Gladstone, as he gleefully remarked the other day, has broken the record...

Mr. Gladstone is old enough to be the grandfather of the younger race of politicians, but his courage, his faith, and his versatility, put the youngest of them to shame. It is this ebullience of youthful energy, this inexhaustible vitality, which is the admiration and the despair of his contemporaries. Surely when a schoolboy at Eton he must somewhere have discovered the elixir of life or have been bathed by some beneficent fairy in the well of perpetual youth. Gladly would many a man of fifty exchange physique with this hale and hearty octogenarian. Only in one respect does he show any trace of advancing years. His hearing is not quite so good as it was, but still it is far better than that of Cardinal Manning, who became very deaf in the closing years. Otherwise Mr. Gladstone is hale and hearty. His eye is not dim, neither is his natural force abated. A splendid physical frame, carefully preserved, gives every promise of a continuance of his green old age.