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The Right Honourable
 William Gladstone

In office
15 August, 1892 – 2 March, 1894
Monarch Victoria
Preceded by The Marquess of Salisbury
Succeeded by The Earl of Rosebery
In office
1 February – 20 July, 1886
Monarch Victoria
Preceded by The Marquess of Salisbury
Succeeded by The Marquess of Salisbury
In office
23 April, 1880 – 9 June, 1885
Monarch Victoria
Preceded by Benjamin Disraeli
Succeeded by The Marquess of Salisbury
In office
3 December, 1868 – 17 February, 1874
Monarch Victoria
Preceded by Benjamin Disraeli
Succeeded by Benjamin Disraeli

In office
28 April, 1880 – 16 December, 1882
Monarch Victoria
Preceded by Stafford Northcote
Succeeded by Hugh Childers
In office
11 August, 1873 – 17 February, 1874
Monarch Victoria
Preceded by Robert Lowe
Succeeded by Stafford Northcote
In office
18 June, 1859 – 26 June, 1866
Monarch Victoria
Preceded by Benjamin Disraeli
Succeeded by Benjamin Disraeli
In office
28 December, 1852 – 28 February, 1855
Monarch Victoria
Preceded by Benjamin Disraeli
Succeeded by George Cornewall Lewis

Born December 29, 1809(1809-12-29)
Liverpool, Lancashire, England
Died May 19, 1898 (aged 88)
Hawarden Castle, Flintshire, Wales
Political party Conservative, Peelite and Liberal
Alma mater Christ Church, Oxford
Religion Church of England (High church)

William Ewart Gladstone (29 December 1809 – 19 May 1898) was a British Liberal Party statesman and four times Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1868–74, 1880–85, 1886, 1892–94). He was also Chancellor of the Exchequer and a champion of the Home Rule Bill which would have established self-government in Ireland.

Gladstone is also famous for his intense rivalry with the Conservative Party Leader Benjamin Disraeli. The rivalry was not only political, but also personal. When Disraeli died, Gladstone proposed a state funeral, but Disraeli's will asked for him to be buried next to his wife, to which Gladstone replied, "As Disraeli lived, so he died — all display, without reality or genuineness."

Gladstone was famously at odds with Queen Victoria for much of his career. She once complained, "He always addresses me as if I were a public meeting." Gladstone was known affectionately by his supporters as "The People's William" or the "G.O.M." ("Grand Old Man", or, according to Disraeli, "God's Only Mistake"). Winston Churchill and others cited Gladstone as their inspiration.


Early life: 1809–1840

Born in 1809 in Liverpool, England, at 62 Rodney Street, William Ewart Gladstone was the fourth son of the merchant Sir John Gladstone and his second wife, Anne MacKenzie Robertson. Gladstone was born and brought up in Liverpool and was of Scottish ancestry.[1] One of his earliest childhood memories was being made to stand on a table and say "Ladies and gentlemen" to the assembled audience, probably at a gathering to promote the election of George Canning as MP for Liverpool in 1812.

William Gladstone was educated from 1816 to 1821 at a preparatory school at the vicarage of St Thomas's Church at Seaforth, close to his family's residence, Seaforth House.[1] In 1821 William followed in the footsteps of his older brothers and attended Eton College before matriculating in 1828 at Christ Church, Oxford, where he read Classics and Mathematics, although he had no great interest in mathematics. In December 1831 he achieved the double first class degree he had long desired. Gladstone served as President of the Oxford Union debating society, where he developed a reputation as an orator, which followed him into the House of Commons. At university Gladstone was a Tory and denounced Whig proposals for parliamentary reform.

Gladstone in the 1830s.

Following the success of his double first, William travelled with his brother John on a Grand Tour of Europe, visiting Belgium, France, Germany and Italy. On his return to England, William was elected to Parliament in 1832 as Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Newark, partly through the influence of the local patron, the Duke of Newcastle. Although Gladstone entered Lincoln's Inn in 1833, with a view to becoming a barrister, by 1839 he had requested that his name should be removed from the list because he no longer intended to be called to the Bar.[1]

In the House of Commons, Gladstone was initially a disciple of High Toryism, opposing the abolition of slavery and factory legislation. In December 1834 he was appointed as a Junior Lord of the Treasury in Sir Robert Peel's first ministry. The following month he was appointed Under-Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, an office he held until the government's resignation in April 1835.

Gladstone published his first book, The State in its Relations with the Church, in 1838, in which he argued that the goal of the state should be to promote and defend the interests of the Church of England. The following year he married Catherine Glynne, to whom he remained married until his death 59 years later. They had eight children together, including Herbert John Gladstone and Henry Neville Gladstone. Gladstone's eldest son William (known as "Willy" to distinguish him from his father) became a Member of Parliament but pre-deceased his father, dying in the early 1890s.

In 1840 Gladstone began to rescue and rehabilitate London prostitutes, walking the streets of London himself and encouraging the women he encountered to change their ways. Much to the criticism of his peers, he continued this practice decades later, even after he was elected Prime Minister.

Minister under Peel: 1841–1851

Gladstone was re-elected in 1841. In September 1842 he lost the forefinger of his left hand in an accident while reloading a gun; thereafter he wore a glove or finger sheath (stall). In the second ministry of Robert Peel he served as President of the Board of Trade (1843–44).

Gladstone became concerned with the situation of "coal whippers". These were the men who worked on London docks, "whipping" in baskets from ships to barges or wharfs all incoming coal from the sea. They were called up and relieved through public-houses and therefore a man could not get this job unless he possessed the favourable opinion of the publican, who looked upon most favourably those who drank. The man's name was written down and the "score" followed. Publicans issued employment solely on the capacity of the man to pay, and men often left the pub to work drunk. They spent their savings on drink to secure the favourable opinion of publicans and therefore further employment. Gladstone passed the Coal Vendors Act 1843 to set up a central office for employment. When this Act expired in 1856 a Select Committee was appointed by the Lords in 1857 to look into the question. Gladstone gave evidence to the Committee: "I approached the subject in the first instance as I think everyone in Parliament of necessity did, with the strongest possible prejudice against the proposal [to interfere]; but the facts stated were of so extraordinary and deplorable a character, that it was impossible to withhold attention from them. Then the question being whether legislative interference was required I was at length induced to look at a remedy of an extraordinary character as the only one I thought applicable to the was a great innovation".[2] Looking back in 1883, Gladstone wrote that "In principle, perhaps my Coalwhippers Act of 1843 was the most Socialistic measure of the last half century".[3]

He resigned in 1845 over the Maynooth Seminary issue, a matter of conscience for him. In order to improve relations with Irish Catholics, Peel's government proposed increasing the annual grant paid to the Seminary for training Catholic priests. Gladstone, who previously argued in a book that a Protestant country should not pay money to other churches, supported the increase in the Maynooth grant and voted for it in Commons, but resigned rather than face charges that he had compromised his principles to remain in office. After accepting Gladstone's resignation, Peel confessed to a friend, "I really have great difficulty sometimes in exactly comprehending what he means."

Gladstone returned to Peel's government as Colonial Secretary in December. The following year Peel's government fell over the MPs' repeal of the Corn Laws and Gladstone followed his leader into a course of separation from mainstream Conservatives. After Peel's death in 1850 Gladstone emerged as the leader of the Peelites in the House of Commons. He was re-elected for the University of Oxford in 1847 and became a constant critic of Lord Palmerston.

As a young man Gladstone had treated his father's estate, Fasque, west of Aberdeen, as home, but as a younger son he could not inherit it. Instead, from the time of his marriage, he lived at his wife's family's estate, Hawarden, in North Wales. He never actually owned Hawarden—it technically belonged first to his brother-in-law Sir Stephen Glynne, and was then inherited by Gladstone's eldest son in 1874. During the late 1840s, when he was out of office, he worked extensively to turn Hawarden into a viable business.

In 1848 he also founded the Church Penitentiary Association for the Reclamation of Fallen Women. In May 1849 he began his most active "rescue work" with "fallen women" and met prostitutes late at night on the street, in his house or in their houses, writing their names in a private notebook. He aided the House of Mercy at Clewer near Windsor (which exercised extreme in-house discipline) and spent much time arranging employment for ex-prostitutes. In a 'Declaration' signed on 7 December 1896 and only to be opened after his death by his son Stephen, Gladstone wrote:

With reference to rumours which I believe were at one time afloat, though I know not with what degree of currency: and also with reference to the times when I shall not be here to answer for myself, I desire to record my solemn declaration and assurance, as in the sight of God and before His Judgment Seat, that at no period of my life have I been guilty of the act which is known as that of infidelity to the marriage bed.[4]

In 1927, during a court case over published claims that he had had improper relationships with some of these women, the jury unanimously found that the evidence "completely vindicated the high moral character of the late Mr. W. E. Gladstone".[5]

In 1850–1 Gladstone visited Naples for the benefit of his daughter Mary's eyesight.[6] Giacomo Lacaita, legal adviser to the British embassy, was imprisoned by the Neapolitan government, as were other political dissidents. Gladstone became concerned at the political situation in Naples and the arrest and imprisonment of Neapolitan liberals. In February 1851 the government allowed Gladstone to visit the prisons where they were held and he deplored their condition. In April and July he published two Letters to the Earl of Aberdeen against the Neapolitan government and responded to his critics in An Examination of the Official Reply of the Neapolitan Government in 1852. Gladstone's first letter described what he saw in Naples as "the negation of God erected into a system of government".[7]

Chancellor of the Exchequer: 1852–1855

A pensive Gladstone.

In 1852, following the ascendancy of Lord Aberdeen, as premier, head of a coalition of Whigs and Peelites, Gladstone became Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Whig Sir Charles Wood and the Tory Disraeli had both been perceived to have failed in the office and so this provided Gladstone with a great political opportunity.

His first budget in 1853 almost completed the work begun by Peel eleven years before in simplifying Britain's tariff of duties and customs.[8] 123 duties were abolished and 133 duties were reduced.[9] The income tax had legally expired but Gladstone proposed to extend it for seven years to fund tariff reductions:

We propose, then, to re-enact it for two years, from April, 1853, to April, 1855, at the rate of 7d. in the £; from April, 1855, to enact it for two more years at 6d. in the £; and then for three years more...from April, 1857, at 5d. Under this proposal, on the 5th of April, 1860, the income-tax will by law expire.[10]

Gladstone wanted to maintain a balance between direct and indirect taxation. He also wished to abolish the income tax. He knew that its abolition depended on a considerable retrenchment in government expenditure. He therefore increased the number of people eligible to pay it by lowering the threshold from £150 to £100. The more people who paid income tax, Gladstone believed, the more the public would pressure the government into abolishing it.[11] Gladstone argued that the £100 line was "the dividing line...between the educated and the labouring part of the community" and that therefore the income tax payers and the electorate were to be the same people, who would then vote to cut government expenditure.[12]

The budget speech (delivered on 18 April), at nearly five hours length, raised Gladstone "at once to the front rank of financiers as of orators".[13] H. C. G. Matthew has written that Gladstone "made finance and figures exciting, and succeeded in constructing budget speeches epic in form and performance, often with lyrical interludes to vary the tension in the Commons as the careful exposition of figures and argument was brought to a climax".[14] The contemporary diarist Charles Greville wrote of Gladstone's speech: universal consent it was one of the grandest displays and most able financial statement that ever was heard in the House of Commons; a great scheme, boldly, skilfully, and honestly devised, disdaining popular clamour and pressure from without, and the execution of it absolute perfection. Even those who do not admire the Budget, or who are injured by it, admit the merit of the performance. It has raised Gladstone to a great political elevation, and, what is of far greater consequence than the measure itself, has given the country assurance of a man equal to great political necessities, and fit to lead parties and direct governments.[15]

However with Britain entering the Crimean War in February 1854, Gladstone introduced his second budget on 6 March. Gladstone had to increase expenditure on the Services and a vote of credit of £1,250,000 was taken to send a 25,000 strong force to the East. The deficit for the year would be £2,840,000 (estimated revenue £56,680,000; estimated expenditure £59,420,000).[16] Gladstone refused to borrow the money needed to rectify this deficit and instead increased the income tax by one half from sevenpence to tenpence-halfpenny in the pound. Gladstone proclaimed that "the expenses of a war are the moral check which it has pleased the Almighty to impose on the ambition and the lust of conquest that are inherent in so many nations".[17] By May £6,870,000 was needed to finance the war and so Gladstone introduced another budget on 8 May. Gladstone raised the income tax from 10 and a half d. to 14d. in order to raise £3,250,000 and spirits, malt, and sugar were taxed in order to raise the rest of the money needed.[18]

He served until 1855, a few weeks into Lord Palmerston's first premiership, whereupon he resigned along with the rest of the Peelites after a motion was passed to appoint a committee of inquiry into the conduct of the war.

Opposition and Mission to the Ionian Islands: 1855–1859

Lord Stanley became Prime Minister in 1858, but Gladstone declined a position in his government, opting not to sacrifice his free trade principles.

Between November 1858 and February 1859 Gladstone, on behalf of the government of the Lord Derby Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby, was made Extraordinary Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands embarking via Vienna and Trieste on a twelve week mission to the southern Adriatic entrusted with complex challenges that had arisen in connection with the future of the British Protectorate of the Ionian islands [1]

In 1858 Gladstone took up the hobby of tree felling, mostly of oak trees, an exercise he continued with enthusiasm until he was 81 in 1891. Eventually, he became notorious for this activity, prompting Lord Randolph Churchill to snigger, "The forest laments in order that Mr. Gladstone may perspire." Less noticed at the time was his practice of replacing the trees he'd felled with newly planted saplings. Possibly related to this hobby is the fact that Gladstone was a lifelong bibliophile to the extent that it has been suggested that in his lifetime, he read around 20,000 books, and eventually came to own a Library of over 32,000.[19]

Chancellor of the Exchequer: 1859–1866

In 1859, Lord Palmerston formed a new mixed government with Radicals included, and Gladstone again joined the government as Chancellor of the Exchequer (with most of the other remaining Peelites) to become part of the new Liberal Party.

Gladstone inherited an unpleasant financial situation, with a deficit of nearly five millions and the income tax at 5d. Like Peel, Gladstone dismissed the idea of borrowing to cover the deficit. Gladstone argued that "In time of peace nothing but dire necessity should induce us to borrow".[20] Most of the money needed was acquired through raising the income tax to 9d. Usually not more than two-thirds of a tax imposed could be collected in a financial year so Gladstone therefore imposed the extra four pence at a rate of 8d. during the first half of the year so that he could obtain the additional revenue in one year. Gladstone's dividing line set up in 1853 had been abolished in 1858 but Gladstone revived it, with lower incomes to pay 6 and a half d. instead of 9d. For the first half of the year the lower incomes paid 8d. and the higher incomes paid 13d. in income tax.[21]

Gladstone's budget of 1860 was introduced on 10 February along with the Cobden-Chevalier Treaty between Britain and France that would reduce tariffs between the two countries. This budget "marked the final adoption of the Free Trade principle, that taxation should be levied for Revenue purposes alone, and that every protective, differential, or discriminating duty...should be dislodged".[22] At the beginning of 1859, there were 419 duties in existence. The 1860 budget reduced the number of duties to 48, with 15 duties constituting the majority of the revenue. To finance these reductions in indirect taxation, the income tax, instead of being abolished, was raised to 10d. for incomes above £150 and at 7d. for incomes above £100.[23]

One of the duties Gladstone intended to abolish in 1860 were the duties on paper, a controversial policy because the duties had traditionally inflated the costs of publishing and thus hindered the dissemination of radical working class ideas. Although Palmerston supported continuation of the duties, using them and income tax revenues to make armament purchases, a majority of his Cabinet supported Gladstone. The Bill to abolish duties on paper narrowly passed Commons but was rejected by the House of Lords. As no money bill had been rejected by Lords for over two hundred years, a furore arose over this vote. The next year, Gladstone included the abolition of paper duties in a consolidated Finance Bill (the first ever) in order to force the Lords to accept it, and accept it they did.

Significantly, Gladstone succeeded in steadily reducing the income tax over the course of his tenure as Chancellor. In 1861 the tax was reduced to ninepence (£0-0s-9d); in 1863 to sevenpence; in 1864 to fivepence; and in 1865 to fourpence.[24] Gladstone believed that government was extravagant and wasteful with taxpayers' money and so sought to let money "fructify in the pockets of the people" by keeping taxation levels down through "peace and retrenchment". Gladstone wrote in 1859 to his brother who was a member of the Financial Reform Association at Liverpool: "Economy is the first and great article (economy such as I understand it) in my financial creed. The controversy between direct and indirect taxation holds a minor, thought important place".[25] He wrote to his wife on 14 January 1860: "I am certain, from experience, of the immense advantage of strict account-keeping in early life. It is just like learning the grammar then, which when once learned need not be referred to afterwards.[26]

The Austrian economist, Joseph Schumpeter, described Gladstonian finance in his History of Economic Analysis:

...there was one man who not only united high ability with unparalleled opportunity but also knew how to turn budgets into political triumphs and who stands in history as the greatest English financier of economic liberalism, Gladstone...The greatest feature of Gladstonian finance...was that it expressed with ideal adequacy both the whole civilization and the needs of the time, ex visu of the conditions of the country to which it was to apply; or, to put it slightly differently, that it translated a social, political, and economic vision, which was comprehensive as well as historically correct, into the clauses of a set of co-ordinated fiscal measures...Gladstonian finance was the finance of the system of 'natural liberty,' laissez-faire, and free trade...the most important thing was to remove fiscal obstructions to private activity. And for this, in turn, it was necessary to keep public expenditure low. Retrenchment was the victorious slogan of the means the reduction of the functions of the state to a minimum...retrenchment means rationalization of the remaining functions of the state, which among other things implies as small a military establishment as possible. The resulting economic development would in addition, so it was believed, make social expenditures largely superfluous...Equally important was raise the revenue that would still have to be raised in such a way as to deflect economic behavior as little as possible from what it would have been in the absence of all taxation ('taxation for revenue only'). And since the profit motive and the propensity to save were considered of paramount importance for the economic progress of all classes, this meant in particular that taxation should as little as possible interfere with the net earnings of business...As regards indirect taxes, the principle of least interference was interpreted by Gladstone to mean that taxation should be concentrated on a few important articles, leaving the rest free...Last, but not least, we have the principle of the balanced budget.[27]

Due to his actions as Chancellor, Gladstone earned the reputation as the liberator of British trade and the working man's breakfast table, the man responsible for the emancipation of the popular press from "taxes upon knowledge" and for placing a duty on the succession of the estates of the rich.[28] Gladstone's popularity rested on his taxation policies which meant to his supporters balance, social equity and political justice.[29] The most signification expression of working class opinion was at Northumberland in 1862 when Gladstone visited. George Holyoake recalled in 1865:

When Mr Gladstone visited the North, you well remember when word passed from the newspaper to the workman that it circulated through mines and mills, factories and workshops, and they came out to greet the only British minister who ever gave the English people a right because it was just they should have it...and when he went down the Tyne, all the country heard how twenty miles of banks were lined with people who came to greet him. Men stood in the blaze of chimneys; the roofs of factories were crowded; colliers came up from the mines; women held up their children on the banks that it might be said in after life that they had seen the Chancellor of the People go by. The river was covered like the land. Every man who could ply an oar pulled up to give Mr Gladstone a cheer. When Lord Palmerston went to Bradford the streets were still, and working men imposed silence upon themselves. When Mr Gladstone appeared on the Tyne he heard cheer no other English minister ever heard...the people were grateful to him, and rough pitmen who never approached a public man before, pressed round his carriage by thousands...and thousands of arms were stretched out at once, to shake hands with Mr Gladstone as one of themselves.[30]

When Gladstone first joined Palmerston's government in 1859, he opposed further electoral reform, but he moved toward the Left during Palmerston's last premiership, and by 1865 he was firmly in favour of enfranchising the working classes in towns. This latter policy created friction with Palmerston, who strongly opposed enfranchisement. At the beginning of each session, Gladstone would passionately urge the Cabinet to adopt new policies, while Palmerston would fixedly stare at a paper before him. At a lull in Gladstone's speech, Palmerston would smile, rap the table with his knuckles, and interject pointedly, "Now, my Lords and gentlemen, let us go to business".[31]

As Chancellor, Gladstone made a speech at Newcastle on 7 October 1862 in which he supported the independence of the Confederate States of America in the American Civil War, claiming that Jefferson Davis had "made a nation". Great Britain was officially neutral at the time, and Gladstone later regretted the Newcastle speech. In May 1864 Gladstone said that he saw no reason in principle why all mentally able men could not be enfranchised, but admitted that this would only come about once the working-classes themselves showed more interest in the subject. Queen Victoria was not pleased with this statement, and an outraged Palmerston considered it seditious incitement to agitation.

Gladstone's support for electoral reform and disestablishment of the Anglican Church in Ireland had alienated him from his constituents in his Oxford University seat, and he lost it in the 1865 general election. A month later, however, he stood as a candidate in South Lancashire, where he was elected third MP (South Lancashire at this time elected three MPs). Palmerston campaigned for Gladstone in Oxford because he believed that his constituents would keep him "partially muzzled". A victorious Gladstone told his new constituency, "At last, my friends, I am come among you; and I am come—to use an expression which has become very famous and is not likely to be forgotten—I am come 'unmuzzled'."

Prime Minister: 1868–1874

Robert Lowe - Chancellor John Bright - Board of Trade George Campbell, Duke of Argyll - India George Villiers, Earl of Clarendon - Foreign Affairs Henry Bruce, Baron Aberdare - Home Secretary William Wood, Baron Hatherley - Lord Chancellor George Robinson, Marquess of Ripon Granville Leveson-Gower, Earl Granville - Colonies John Wodehouse, Earl of Kimberley - Privy Seal George Goschen - Poor Law Gladstone - Prime Minister Spencer Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington - Postmaster GeneralDuke of Devonshire Fortescue Chichester Parkinson-Fortescue, Baron Carlingford - Secretary for War Hugh Childers Use your cursor to explore (or Click icon to enlarge)
Gladstone's Cabinet of 1868, painted by Lowes Cato Dickinson.[32] Use a cursor to see who is who.[33]

Lord Russell retired in 1867 and Gladstone became a leader of the Liberal Party. In the next general election in 1868, the South Lancashire constituency had been broken-up by the Second Reform Act into two: South East Lancashire and South West Lancashire. Gladstone stood for South West Lancashire and for Greenwich, it being quite common then for candidates to stand in two constituencies simultaneously.[34] He was defeated in Lancashire and won in Greenwich. He became Prime Minister for the first time and remained in the office until 1874. Evelyn Ashley famously described the scene in the grounds of Hawarden Castle on 1 December 1868, though getting the date wrong:

One afternoon of November, 1868, in the Park at Hawarden, I was standing by Mr. Gladstone holding his coat on my arm while he, in his shirt sleeves, was wielding an axe to cut down a tree. Up came a telegraph messenger. He took the telegram, opened it and read it, then handed it to me, speaking only two words, namely, ‘Very significant’, and at once resumed his work. The message merely stated that General Grey would arrive that evening from Windsor. This, of course, implied that a mandate was coming from the Queen charging Mr. Gladstone with the formation of his first Government. I said nothing, but waited while the well-directed blows resounded in regular cadence. After a few minutes the blows ceased and Mr. Gladstone, resting on the handle of his axe, looked up, and with deep earnestness in his voice, and great intensity in his face, exclaimed: ‘My mission is to pacify Ireland.’ He then resumed his task, and never said another word till the tree was down.[35]

In the 1860s and 1870s, Gladstonian Liberalism was characterised by a number of policies intended to improve individual liberty and loosen political and economic restraints. First was the minimisation of public expenditure on the premise that the economy and society were best helped by allowing people to spend as they saw fit. Secondly, his foreign policy aimed at promoting peace to help reduce expenditures and taxation and enhance trade. Thirdly, laws that prevented people from acting freely to improve themselves were reformed. When an unemployed miner (Daniel Jones) wrote to him to complain of his unemployment and low wages, Gladstone gave what H. C. G. Matthew has called "the classic mid-Victorian reply" in his reply of 20 October 1869:

The only means which have been placed in my power of ‘raising the wages of colliers’ has been by endeavouring to beat down all those restrictions upon trade which tend to reduce the price to be obtained for the product of their labour, & to lower as much as may be the taxes on the commodities which they may require for use or for consumption. Beyond this I look to the forethought not yet so widely diffused in this country as in Scotland, & in some foreign lands; & I need not remind you that in order to facilitate its exercise the Government have been empowered by Legislation to become through the Dept. of the P.O. the receivers & guardians of savings.[36]

Gladstone's first premiership instituted reforms in the British Army, Civil Service, and local government to cut restrictions on individual advancement. The Local Governmant Board Act 1871 put the supervision of the Poor Law under the Local Government Board (headed by G. J. Goschen) and Gladstone's "administration could claim spectacular success in enforcing a dramatic reduction in supposedly sentimental and unsystematic outdoor poor relief, and in making, in co-operation with the Charity Organization Society (1869), the most sustained attempt of the century to impose upon the working classes the Victorian values of providence, self-reliance, foresight, and self-discipline".[37] Gladstone was associated with the Charity Organization Society's first annual report in 1870.[38] At a speech at Blackheath on 28 October 1871, Gladstone warned his constituents against social reformers:

...they are not your friends, but they are your enemies in fact, though not in intention, who teach you to look to the Legislature for the radical removal of the evils that afflict human life...It is the individual mind and conscience, it is the individual character, on which mainly human happiness or misery depends. (Cheers.) The social problems that confront us are many and formidable. Let the Government labour to its utmost, let the Legislature labour days and nights in your service; but, after the very best has been attained and achieved, the question whether the English father is to be the father of a happy family and the centre of an united home is a question which must depend mainly upon himself. (Cheers.) And those who...promise to the dwellers in towns that every one of them shall have a house and garden in free air, with ample space; those who tell you that there shall be markets for selling at wholesale prices retail quantities—I won't say are imposters, because I have no doubt they are sincere; but I will say they are quacks (cheers); they are deluded and beguiled by a spurious philanthropy, and when they ought to give you substantial, even if they are humble and modest boons, they are endeavouring, perhaps without their own consciousness, to delude you with fanaticism, and offering to you a fruit which, when you attempt to taste it, will prove to be but ashes in your mouths. (Cheers.)[39]

He instituted abolition of the sale of commissions in the army as well as court reorganisation. In foreign affairs his overriding aim was to promote peace and understanding, characterised by his settlement of the Alabama Claims in 1872 in favour of the Americans. The issue of disestablishment of the Church of Ireland was used by Gladstone to unite the Liberal Party for government in 1868. The Act was passed in 1869 and meant that Irish Roman Catholics did not need to pay their tithes to the Anglican Church of Ireland. He also instituted the Cardwell Reforms in 1869 that made peacetime flogging illegal and, in 1870, the Irish Land Act and the Forster's Education Act. In 1871 he instituted the University Test Act. In 1872, he secured passage of the Ballot Act for secret voting ballots. In 1873, his leadership led to the passage of laws restructuring the High Courts. He also passed the 1872 licensing act.

Opposition: 1874–1880

In the 1874 general election, the Liberals were defeated. In the wake of Benjamin Disraeli's victory, Gladstone retired from the leadership of the Liberal party, although he retained his seat in the House.

Gladstone was outraged at the Roman Catholic Church's Decree of Papal Infallibility and set about to refute it. In November 1874 he published the pamphlet The Vatican Decrees in their Bearing on Civil Allegiance.

In a speech to the Hawarden Amateur Horticultural Society on 17 August 1876, Gladstone said that "I am delighted to see how many young boys and girls have come forward to obtain honourable marks of recognition on this occasion,—if any effectual good is to be done to them, it must be done by teaching and encouraging them and helping them to help themselves. All the people who pretend to take your own concerns out of your own hands and to do everything for you, I won't say they are imposters; I won't even say they are quacks; but I do say they are mistaken people. The only sound, healthy description of countenancing and assisting these institutions is that which teaches independence and self-exertion".[40] Lord Kilbracken, one of Gladstone's secretaries, said:

It will be borne in mind that the Liberal doctrines of that time, with their violent anti-socialist spirit and their strong insistence on the gospel of thrift, self-help, settlement of wages by the higgling of the market, and non-interference by the State...I think that Mr. Gladstone was the strongest anti-socialist that I have ever known among persons who gave any serious thought to social and political questions. It is quite true, as has been often said, that “we are all socialists up to a certain point”; but Mr. Gladstone fixed that point lower, and was more vehement against those who went above it, than any other politician or official of my acquaintance. I remember his speaking indignantly to me of the budget of 1874 as “That socialistic budget of Northcote's,” merely because of the special relief which it gave to the poorer class of income-tax payers. His strong belief in Free Trade was only one of the results of his deep-rooted conviction that the Government's interference with the free action of the individual, whether by taxation or otherwise, should be kept at an irreducible minimum. It is, indeed, not too much to say that his conception of Liberalism was the negation of Socialism.[41]

A pamphlet he published in September 1876, Bulgarian Horrors and the Question of the East,[42] attacked the Disraeli government for its indifference to the violent repression of the Bulgarian rebellion in the Ottoman Empire (Known as the Bulgarian April uprising). An often-quoted excerpt illustrates his formidable rhetorical powers:

Let the Turks now carry away their abuses, in the only possible manner, namely, by carrying off themselves. Their Zaptiehs and their Mudirs, their Bimbashis 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 a 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 their ever so barely possible repetition would spread that shame over the world!

Let me endeavor, very briefly to sketch, in the rudest outline what the Turkish race was and what it is. It is not a question of Mohammedanism simply, but of Mohammedanism compounded with the peculiar character of a race. They are not the mild Mohammedans of India, nor the chivalrous Saladins of Syria, nor the cultured Moors of Spain. They were, upon the whole, from the black day when they first entered Europe, the one great anti-human specimen of humanity. Wherever they went a broad line of blood marked the track behind them, and, as far as their dominion reached, civilization vanished from view. They represented everywhere government by force as opposed to government by law.—Yet a government by force can not be maintained without the aid of an intellectual element.— Hence there grew up, what has been rare in the history of the world, a kind of tolerance in the midst of cruelty, tyranny and rapine. Much of Christian life was contemptuously left alone and a race of Greeks was attracted to Constantinople which has all along made up, in some degree, the deficiencies of Turkish Islam in the element of mind!

During his rousing election campaign (the so-called Midlothian campaign) of 1879, he spoke against Disraeli's foreign policies during the ongoing Second Anglo-Afghan War in Afghanistan. (See Great Game). He saw the war as "great dishonour" and also criticised British conduct in the Zulu War. Gladstone also (on 29 November) criticised what he saw as the Conservative government's profligate spending:

...the Chancellor of the Exchequer shall boldly uphold economy in detail; and it is the mark...of...a chicken-hearted Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he shrinks from upholding economy in detail, when, because it is a question of only £2000 or £3000, he says that is no matter. He is ridiculed, no doubt, for what is called saving candle-ends and cheese-parings. No Chancellor of the Exchequer is worth his salt who is not ready to save what are meant by candle-ends and cheese-parings in the cause of his country. No Chancellor of the Exchequer is worth his salt who makes his own popularity either his first consideration, or any consideration at all, in administrating the public purse. You would not like to have a housekeeper or steward who made her or his popularity with the tradesmen the measure of the payments that were to be delivered to them. In my opinion the Chancellor of the Exchequer is the trusted and confidential steward of the public. He is under a sacred obligation with regard to all that he consents to spend...I am bound to say hardly ever in the six years that Sir Stafford Northcote has been in office have I heard him speak a resolute word on behalf of economy.[43]

Prime Minister: 1880–1885

Gladstone in relaxed mood

In 1880 the Liberals won again and the new Liberal leader, Lord Hartington, retired in Gladstone's favour. Gladstone won his constituency election in Midlothian and also in Leeds, where he had also been adopted as a candidate. As he could lawfully only serve as MP for one constituency, Leeds was passed to his son Herbert. One of his other sons, Henry, was also elected as an MP.

Queen Victoria asked Lord Hartington to form a ministry, but he persuaded her to send for Gladstone. Gladstone's second administration—both as PM and again as Chancellor of the Exchequer till 1882—lasted from June 1880 to June 1885. Gladstone had opposed himself to the "colonial lobby" pushing for the scramble for Africa. He thus saw the end of the Second Anglo-Afghan War, First Boer War and the war against the Mahdi in Sudan.

However, he could not respect his electoral promise to disengage from Egypt. June 1882 saw a riot in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, with about 300 people being killed as part of the Urabi Revolt. In Parliament an angry and retributive mood developed against Egypt, and the Cabinet approved the bombardment of Urabi's gun emplacements by Admiral Sir Beauchamp Seymour and the subsequent landing of British troops to restore order to the city. Gladstone defended this in the Commons by exclaiming that Egypt was "in a state of military violence, without any law whatsoever".[44]

Gladstone by Rupert William Potter, 28 July 1884.

In 1881 he established the Irish Coercion Act, which permitted the Lord Lieutenant to detain people for as "long as was thought necessary". He also extended the franchise to agricultural labourers and others in the 1884 Reform Act, which 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. Parliamentary reform continued with the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885.

Gladstone was becoming increasingly uneasy about the direction in which British politics was moving. In a letter to Lord Acton on 11 February 1885, Gladstone criticised Tory Democracy as "demagogism" that "put down pacific, law-respecting, economic elements that ennobled the old Conservatism" but "still, in secret, as obstinately attached as ever to the evil principle of class interests". He found contemporary Liberalism better, "but far from being good". Gladstone claimed that this Liberalism's "pet idea is what they call construction,—that is to say, taking into the hands of the state the business of the individual man". Both Tory Democracy and this new Liberalism, Gladstone wrote, had done "much to estrange me, and had for many, many years".[45]

The fall of General Gordon in Khartoum, Sudan, in 1885 was a major blow to Gladstone's popularity. Many believed Gladstone had neglected military affairs and had not acted promptly enough to save the besieged Gordon. Critics inverted his acronym, "G.O.M." (for "Grand Old Man"), to "M.O.G." (for "Murderer of Gordon"). He resigned as Prime Minister in 1885 and declined Queen Victoria's offer of an Earldom.

Prime Minister: 1886

In 1886 Gladstone's party was allied with Irish Nationalists to defeat Lord Salisbury's government; Gladstone regained his position as Premier and combined the office with that of Lord Privy Seal. During this administration he first introduced his Home Rule Bill for Ireland. The issue split the Liberal Party (a breakaway group went on to create the Liberal Unionist party) and the bill was thrown out on the second reading, ending his government after only a few months and inaugurating another headed by Lord Salisbury.

Opposition: 1886–1892

Gladstone supported the London dockers in their strike of 1889. After their victory he gave a speech at Hawarden on 23 September in which he said: "In the common interests of humanity, this remarkable strike and the results of this strike, which have tended somewhat to strengthen the condition of labour in the face of capital, is the record of what we ought to regard as satisfactory, as a real social advance [that] tends to a fair principle of division of the fruits of industry".[46] This speech has been described by Eugenio Biagini as having "no parallel in the rest of Europe except in the rhetoric of the toughest socialist leaders".[47] Visitors at Hawarden in October were " some rather wild language on the Dock labourers question".[48] Gladstone was impressed with workers unconnected with the dockers' dispute who "intended to make common cause" in the interests of justice. On 23 October at Southport Gladstone delivered a speech where he claimed that the right to combination, which in London was "innocent and lawful, in Ireland would be penal and...punished by imprisonment with hard labour". Gladstone believed that the right to combination used by British workers was in jeopardy when it could be denied to Irish workers.[49] In October 1890 Gladstone at Midlothian claimed that competition between capital and labour, "where it has gone to sharp issues, where there have been strikes on one side and lock-outs on the other, I believe that in the main and as a general rule, the labouring man has been in the right".[50]

On 11 December 1891 Gladstone said that: "It is a lamentable fact if, in the midst of our civilization, and at the close of the nineteenth century, the workhouse is all that can be offered to the industrious labourer at the end of a long and honourable life. I do not enter into the question now in detail. I do not say it is an easy one; I do not say that it will be solved in a moment; but I do say this, that until society is able to offer to the industrious labourer at the end of a long and blameless life something better than the workhouse, society will not have discharged its duties to its poorer members".[51] On 24 March 1892 Gladstone said that the Liberals had:

...come the conclusion that there is something painful in the condition of the rural labourer in this great respect, that it is hard even for the industrious and sober man, under ordinary conditions, to secure a provision for his own old age. Very large propositions, involving, some of them, very novel and very wide principles, have been submitted to the public, for the purpose of securing such a provision by means independent of the labourer himself. Sir, I am not going to criticise these proposals, and I am only referring to them as signs that there is much to be done—that their condition is far from satisfactory; and it is eminently, as I think, our duty to develop in the first instance, every means that we may possibly devise whereby, if possible, the labourer may be able to make this provision for himself, or to approximate towards making such provision far more efficaciously and much more closely than he can now do.[52][53]

Gladstone wrote on 16 July 1892 in his autobiographica that "In 1834 the Government...did themselves high honour by the new Poor Law Act, which rescued the English peasantry from the total loss of their independence".[54]

Gladstone wrote to Herbert Spencer, who contributed the introduction to a collection of anti-socialist essays (A Plea for Liberty, 1891), that "I ask to make reserves, and of one passage, which will be easily guessed, I am unable even to perceive the relevancy. But speaking generally, I have read this masterly argument with warm admiration and with the earnest hope that it may attract all the attention which it so well deserves".[55] The passage Gladstone alluded to was one where Spencer spoke of "the behaviour of the so-called Liberal party".[56]

Prime Minister: 1892–1894

The general election of 1892 resulted in a minority Liberal government, with Gladstone as Prime Minister for the fourth and final time. Gladstone, at the age of 82, was both the oldest ever person to be appointed Prime Minister and when he resigned in 1894 aged 84 he was the oldest person ever to occupy the Premiership.[57]

Gladstone's electoral address had promised Home Rule and the disestablishment of the Scottish and Welsh Churches.[58] In February 1893 he introduced the Second Home Rule Bill. The Bill was passed in the Commons at second reading on 21 April by 43 votes and third reading on 1 September by 34 votes. However the House of Lords killed the Bill by voting against by 419 votes to 41 on 8 September.

When questioned in the Commons on what his government would do about unemployment by the Conservative MP Colonel Howard Vincent on 1 September 1893, Gladstone replied:

I cannot help regretting that the hon. and gallant Gentleman has felt it his duty to put the question. It is put under circumstances that naturally belong to one of those fluctuations in the condition of trade which, however unfortunate and lamentable they may be, recur from time to time. Undoubtedly I think that questions of this kind, whatever be the intention of the questioner, have a tendency to produce in the minds of people, or to suggest to the people, that these fluctuations can be corrected by the action of the Executive Government. Anything that contributes to such an impression inflicts an injury upon the labouring population.[59][60]

In December 1893 an Opposition motion proposed by Lord George Hamilton called for an expansion of the Royal Navy. Gladstone opposed increasing public expenditure on the naval estimates, in the tradition of free trade liberalism of his earlier political career as Chancellor. All his Cabinet colleagues, however, believed in some expansion of the Royal Navy. He declared in the Commons on 19 December that naval rearmament would commit the government to expenditure over a number of years and thus would subvert "the principle of annual account, annual proposition, annual approval by the House of Commons, the only way of maintaining regularity, and that regularity is the only talisman which will secure Parliamentary control".[61] In January 1894 Gladstone wrote that he would not "break to pieces the continuous action of my political life, nor trample on the tradition received from every colleague who has ever been my teacher" by supporting naval rearmament.[62] Gladstone also opposed Chancellor Sir William Harcourt's proposal to implement a graduated death duty. In a fragment of autobiography dated 25 July 1894, Gladstone denounced the tax as far the most Radical measure of my lifetime. I do not object to the principle of graduated taxation: for the just principle of ability to pay is not determined simply by the amount of income...But, so far as I understand the present measure of finance from the partial reports I have received, I find it too violent. It involves a great departure from the methods of political action established in this country, where reforms, and especially financial reforms, have always been considerate and even tender...I do not yet see the ground on which it can be justly held that any one description of property should be more heavily burdened than others, unless moral and social grounds can be shown first: but in this case the reasons drawn from those sources seem rather to verge in the opposite direction, for real property has more of presumptive connection with the discharge of duty that that which is ranked as personal...the aspect of the measure is not satisfactory to a man of my traditions (and these traditions lie near the roots of my being)...For the sudden introduction of such change there is I think no precedent in the history of this country. And the severity of the blow is greatly aggravated in moral effect by the fact that it is dealt only to a handful of individuals.[63]

Gladstone had his last audience with the Queen on 28 February and chaired his last Cabinet on 1 March, the last of 556 he had chaired. Also on that day he gave his last speech to the House of Commons. Gladstone said that the government would withdraw opposition to the Lords' amendments to the Local Government Bill "under protest" and that it was "a controversy which, when once raised, must go forward to an issue".[64] He resigned the Premiership on 2 March. The Queen did not ask Gladstone who should succeed him but sent for Lord Rosebery (Gladstone would have advised on Lord Spencer).[65] He retained his seat in the Commons until 1895.

Final years: 1894–1898

Gladstone's grave in Westminster Abbey

A few days after he relinquished the premiership, Gladstone wrote to George William Erskine Russell on 6 March 1894:

I am thankful to have borne a part in the emancipating labours of the last sixty years; but entirely uncertain how, had I now to begin my life, I could face the very different problems of the next sixty years. Of one thing I am, and always have been, convinced—it is not by the State that man can be regenerated, and the terrible woes of this darkened world effectually dealt with. In some, and some very important, respects, I yearn for the impossible revival of the men and the ideas of my first twenty years, which immediately followed the first Reform Act.[66]

In 1895, at the age of 85, Gladstone bequeathed £40,000 (equivalent to approximately £3.42 million today)[67] and much of his library to found St Deiniol's Library in Hawarden, Wales, the only residential library in Britain. Despite his advanced age, he himself hauled most of his 32,000 books a quarter of a mile to their new home, using his wheelbarrow.

On 8 January 1896, in conversation with L. A. Tollemache, Gladstone was asked whether he opposed vaccination and gave the answer: "No; but I dislike the idea of its being compulsory. I don't like the notion of the State stepping in between parent and child when it is not absolutely necessary. The State is generally a very bad nurse".[68] On the same occasion he exclaimed that: "I am not so much afraid of Democracy or of Science as of the love of money. This seems to me to be a growing evil. Also, there is a danger from the growth of that dreadful military spirit".[69] On 13 January Gladstone claimed he had strong Conservative instincts and that "In all matters of custom and tradition, even the Tories look upon me as the chief Conservative that is".[70] On 15 January Gladstone wrote to James Bryce, describing himself as "a dead man, one fundamentally a Peel–Cobden man".[71] In 1896, in his last noteworthy speech, he denounced Armenian massacres by Ottomans in a talk delivered at Liverpool. On 2 January 1897 Gladstone wrote to Francis Hirst on being unable to write a preface to a book on liberalism: "I venture on assuring you that I regard the design formed by you and your friends with sincere interest, and in particular wish well to all the efforts you may make on behalf of individual freedom and independence as opposed to what is termed Collectivism".[72][73]

In the early months of 1897 Gladstone and his wife stayed in Cannes. Gladstone met the Queen, where (Gladstone believed) she shook hands with him for the first time in the fifty years he had known her.[74] One of the Gladstones neighbours observed that "He and his devoted wife never missed the morning service on Sunday...One Sunday, returning from the altar rail, the old, partially blind man stumbled at the chancel step. One of the clergy sprang involuntarily to his assistance, but retreated with haste, so withering was the fire which flashed from those failing eyes".[75] The Gladstones returned to Hawarden Castle at the end of March and he received the Colonial Premiers in their visit for the Queen's Jubilee. Upon the advice of his doctor Samuel Habershon in the aftermath of an attack of facial neuralgia, Gladstone stayed at Cannes from the end of November 1897 to mid-February 1898. He gave an interview for The Daily Telegraph (published on 5 January 1898 as 'Personal Recollections of Arthur H. Hallam'). Gladstone then went to Bournemouth, and a swelling on the palate was diagnosed as cancer by the leading cancer surgeon, Sir Thomas Smith on 18 March. On 22 March he retired to Hawarden Castle. Despite being in pain he received visitors and quoted hymns, especially Cardinal Newman's 'Praise to the Holiest in the Height'. His last public statement was dictated to his daughter Helen in reply to receiving the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford's "sorrow and affection": "There is no expression of Christian sympathy that I value more than that of the ancient University of Oxford, the God-fearing and God-sustaining University of Oxford. I served her perhaps mistakenly, but to the best of my ability. My most earnest prayers are hers to the uttermost and to the last".[76] He left the house for the last time on 9 April and after 18 April he did not come down to the ground floor but still came out of bed to lie on the sofa. The Bishop of Saint Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane George Wilkinson recorded when he ministered to him along with Stephen Gladstone:

Shall I ever forget the last Friday in Passion Week, when I gave him the last Holy Communion that I was allowed to administer to him? It was early in the morning. He was obliged to be in bed, and he was ordered to remain there, but the time had come for the confession of sin and the receiving of absolution. Out of his bed he came. Alone he knelt in the presence of his God till the absolution has been spoken, and the sacred elements received.[77]

Gladstone died on 19 May 1898 at Hawarden Castle, Hawarden, aged 88. The death of William Ewart Gladstone was registered by Helen Gladstone, his daughter, on the 23 May 1898. The cause of death is officially recorded as "Syncope, Senility, certified by Herbert. E. S. Biss M.D"[78] and not metastatic cancer, as is frequently reported. "Syncope" means failure of the heart and "senility" in the nineteenth-century meant the infirmity of advanced old-age rather than a loss in the mental faculties.[79]

The House of Commons adjourned on the afternoon of Gladstone's death, with A. J. Balfour giving notice for an Address to the Queen praying for a public funeral and a public memorial in Westminster Abbey. The day after, both Houses of Parliament approved of the Address and Herbert Gladstone accepted a public funeral on behalf of the Gladstone family.[80] His coffin was transported on the London Underground before his state funeral at Westminster Abbey, at which the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII) and the Duke of York (the future George V) acted as pallbearers.[81] Two years after Gladstone's burial in Westminster Abbey, his wife, Catherine Gladstone (née Glynne), was laid to rest with him (see image at right).


Lord Acton wrote in 1880 that he considered Gladstone as one "of the three greatest Liberals" (along with Edmund Burke and Lord Macaulay).[82]

The Liberal Chancellor David Lloyd George had written in 1913 that the Liberals were "carving the last few columns out of the Gladstonian quarry".[83] During the Great War the Liberal Party split into those led by former Premier Herbert Henry Asquith and the new Premier David Lloyd George. Lloyd George said of Gladstone in 1915: "What a man he was! Head and shoulders above anyone else I have ever seen in the House of Commons. I did not like him much. He hated Nonconformists and Welsh Nonconformists in particular, and he had no real sympathy with the working-classes. But he was far and away the best Parliamentary speaker I have ever heard. He was not so good in exposition".[84] Asquithian Liberals continued to advocate traditional Gladstonian policies of sound finance, peaceful foreign relations and the better treatment of Ireland. They often compared Lloyd George unfavourably with Gladstone. In his first major speech after he had lost his seat in the 1918 general election, Asquith said: "That is the purpose and the spirit of Liberalism, as I learned it as a student in my young days, as I was taught it both by the precept and the example of the great Liberal statesman Mr Gladstone...that remains the same today. Do not forsake for temporary expediencies, for short-lived compromises, for brittle and precarious bridges – do not forsake the great heritage of the Liberal tradition of the past. It is not superstition; it is not a legend; it is founded upon faith and experience, and justified at every stage in our political history".[85] Speaking in November 1920 Asquith quoted Gladstone to show "the only way to escape from the financial morass towards which the government are heading".[86] Lloyd George would invoke Gladstone in March 1920 when speaking out against socialism at "Red Clydeside": "The doctrine of Liberalism is a doctrine that believes that private property, as an incentive, as a means, as a reward, is the most potent agency not merely for the wealth, but for the well-being of the community. That is the doctrine not merely of Peel, of Disraeli, of Salisbury, and Chamberlain; it is the doctrine of Gladstone; it is the doctrine of Cobden; it is the doctrine of Bright; and it is the doctrine of Campbell Bannerman...It is the doctrine of all the great Liberal leaders of the past and present".[87] Asquith replied to this speech at the National Liberal Club: "...keep faithful to your old traditions...Think, in a situation such as this, and with appeals such as those which have been made to our fellow Liberals outside, what would have been the attitude of Mr Gladstone. Do you think they would have allowed themselves to be scared by the bogey of Bolshevism, to furl the old flag and march with bowed heads and reversed arms, horse, foot and artillery, into the camp of the enemy?"[88] In July 1922 Asquith said of Gladstone:

Amid all the seeming inconsistencies of his public career, which exposed him to the shallow charge of time-serving and even of hypocrisy, history will discern a steady process of evolution, guided always by certain governing principles. He was the most faithful and enlightened steward there has ever been of our national finance. He abhorred waste. He preferred the remission of burdensome taxation even to the diminution of the public debt. His great aim was that the resources of the country, in the phraseology of those days, should "fructify in the pockets of the people", not to be wasted in public or private extravagance, but to replenish the reservoir from which both capital and industry are fed. He never faltered in his allegiance to the cause of setting free the smaller nationalities, crushed between the upper and the nether millstone of arrogant and militant autocracies. He was the pioneer in the long, arduous, still uncompleted struggle, in the international sphere, of right against might, of freedom against force.[89]

Writing in 1944, the liberal Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek said of the change in political attitudes that had occurred since the Great War: "Perhaps nothing shows this change more clearly than that, while there is no lack of sympathetic treatment of Bismarck in contemporary English literature, the name of Gladstone is rarely mentioned by the younger generation without a sneer over his Victorian morality and naive utopianism".[90]


Statue of Gladstone at Aldwych, London, nearby to the Royal Courts of Justice and opposite Australia House.
  • The first statue erected in Gladstone's honour after his death was in Blackburn in 1899.[citation needed]
  • A statue of Gladstone by Albert Bruce-Joy and erected in 1882, stands near the front gate of St. Marys Church in Bow, London. Paid for by the industrialist Theodore Bryant, it is viewed as a symbol of the later 1888 match girls strike, which took place at the nearby Bryant & May Match Factory. Lead by the socialist Annie Besant, hundreds of working girls from the factory had gone on strike to demand improved working conditions and pay, eventually winning their cause. In recent years, the statue of Gladstone has been repeatedly daubed with red paint, suggesting that it was paid for with the 'blood of the match girls'.[91]
  • A monument to Gladstone, Member of Parliament for Midlothian 1880–1895 was unveiled in Edinburgh in 1917 (and moved to its present location in 1955). It stands in Coates Crescent Gardens. The sculptor was James Pittendrigh McGillvray.[95]
Dollis House, Gladstone Park, as seen from the gardens
  • Near to Hawarden in the town of Mancot, there is a small hospital named after Catherine Gladstone. A statue of her husband also stands near the High School in Hawarden.
  • Gladstone Rock—a large boulder about 12 ft high in Cwm Llan on the Watkin Path on the south side of Snowdon where Gladstone made a speech in 1892. A plaque on the rock states that he 'addressed the people of Eryri upon justice to Wales.'
  • Liverpool's Crest Hotel was renamed The Gladstone Hotel in his honour in the early 1990s, but in 2006 was renamed again as The Liner Hotel.[citation needed]
  • Gladstone, Queensland, Australia was named after him and has a 19th century marble statue on display in its town museum.[97]
  • William Gladstone Primary School (Formerly St. Thomas' and recently renamed as Rimrose Hope) is a Primary School located in Seaforth, in which he was raised and educated.


  1. ^ a b c Shannon, 1985
  2. ^ Viscount Gladstone, After Thirty Years (Macmillan, 1928), pp. 90-91.
  3. ^ H. C. G. Matthew, Gladstone. 1875–1898 (Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 90.
  4. ^ Richard Shannon, Gladstone: Heroic Minister. 1865–1898 (Allen Lane, 1999), pp. 583–4.
  5. ^ Gladstone, p. 436.
  6. ^ H. C. G. Matthew, Gladstone. 1809–1874 (Oxford University Press, 1988), p. 80.
  7. ^ Matthew, Gladstone. 1809–1874, pp. 80–1.
  8. ^ John Morley, The Life of William Ewart Gladstone. Volume I (Macmillan, 1903), p. 461.
  9. ^ Sir Wemyss Reid (ed.), The Life of William Ewart Gladstone (Cassell, 1899), p. 412.
  10. ^ Reid, p. 410.
  11. ^ Matthew, Gladstone. 1809–1874, p. 127.
  12. ^ Matthew, Gladstone. 1809–1874, p. 127.
  13. ^ Sydney Buxton, Finance and Politics. An Historical Study. 1783–1885. Volume I (John Murray, 1888), pp. 108–9.
  14. ^ Matthew, Gladstone. 1809–1874, p. 121.
  15. ^ Buxton, p. 109.
  16. ^ Buxton, p. 150.
  17. ^ Buxton, p. 151.
  18. ^ Buxton, pp. 151–2.
  19. ^ Retrieved 24.11.09
  20. ^ Buxton, p. 185.
  21. ^ Buxton, p. 187.
  22. ^ Buxton, p. 195.
  23. ^ Reid, p. 421.
  24. ^ L. C. B. Seaman, Victorian England: Aspects of English and Imperial History, 1837-1901 (Routledge, 1973), pp. 183–4.
  25. ^ F. W. Hirst, Gladstone as Financier and Economist (London: Ernest Benn Limited, 1931), p. 241.
  26. ^ Hirst, pp. 242-3.
  27. ^ Joseph A. Schumpeter, History of Economic Analysis (George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1954), pp. 402-405.
  28. ^ Eugenio Biagini, ‘Popular Liberals, Gladstonian finance and the debate on taxation, 1860-1874’, in Eugenio Biagini and Alastair Reid (eds.), Currents of Radicalism. Popular Radicalism, Organised Labour and Party Politics in Britain, 1850-1914 (Cambridge University Press, 1991), p. 139.
  29. ^ Biagini, ‘Popular Liberals, Gladstonian finance and the debate on taxation, 1860-1874’, pp. 140-141.
  30. ^ Biagini, ‘Popular Liberals, Gladstonian finance and the debate on taxation, 1860-1874’, p. 142.
  31. ^ Jasper Ridley, Lord Palmerston (Constable, 1970), p. 563.
  32. ^ Gladstone's Cabinet of 1868, Lowes Cato Dickinson, ref. NPG 5116, National Portrait Gallery, London, accessed January 2010
  33. ^ Shannon, Richard (1984). Gladstone: 1809-1865 (p.342). pp. 580. ISBN 0807815918. Retrieved January 2010. 
  34. ^ "The Coming Elections". The Times. 2 November 1868. pp. 4.!xrn_1_0_CS67282786&hst_1?. Retrieved 2009-02-22. 
  35. ^ Matthew, Gladstone. 1809–1874, p. 147.
  36. ^ Matthew, Gladstone. 1809–1874, p. 212.
  37. ^ Matthew, Gladstone. 1809–1874, p. 170.
  38. ^ Charles Loch Mowat, The Charity Organisation Society. 1869–1913 (Methuen, 1961), p. 19.
  39. ^ The Times (30 October, 1871), p. 3.
  40. ^ 'Mr. Gladstone On Cottage Gardening.', The Times (18 August, 1876), p. 9.
  41. ^ Lord Kilbracken, Reminiscences of Lord Kilbracken (Macmillan, 1931), pp. 83-84.
  42. ^ Bulgarian horrors and the question of the east by W.E. Gladstone
  43. ^ W. E. Gladstone, Midlothian Speeches. 1879 (Leicester University Press, 1971), p. 148.
  44. ^ Lawrence James, The Rise and Fall of the British Empire (Abacus, 2001), p. 272.
  45. ^ Morley, Life of Gladstone: III, p. 173.
  46. ^ Michael Barker, Gladstone and Radicalism. The Reconstruction of Liberal Policy in Britain. 1885-1894 (The Harvester Press, 1975), p. 92.
  47. ^ E. F. Biagini, Liberty, Retrenchment and Reform. Popular Liberalism in the Age of Gladstone, 1860-1880 (Cambridge University Press, 1992), p. 424.
  48. ^ Barker, p. 92.
  49. ^ Barker, p. 93.
  50. ^ Barker, pp. 93-94.
  51. ^ The Times (12 December, 1891), p. 7.
  52. ^
  53. ^ Barker, p. 198.
  54. ^ John Brooke and Mary Sorensen (eds.), The Prime Ministers' Papers: W. E. Gladstone. I: Autobiographica (London: Her Majesty's Stationary Office, 1971), p. 55.
  55. ^ David Duncan, The Life and Letters of Herbert Spencer (Methuen, 1908), p. 302.
  56. ^ Duncan, p. 302.
  57. ^ Daisy Sampson, The Politics Companion (London: Robson Books Ltd, 2004), p. 80, p. 91.
  58. ^ Reid, p. 721.
  59. ^
  60. ^ Matthew, Gladstone. 1875–1898, p. 322.
  61. ^ David Brooks, 'Gladstone's Fourth Administration, 1892–1894', in David Bebbington and Roger Swift (eds.), Gladstone Centenary Essays (Liverpool University Press, 2000), p. 239.
  62. ^ Anthony Howe, 'Gladstone and Cobden', in David Bebbington and Roger Swift (eds.), Gladstone Centenary Essays (Liverpool University Press, 2000), p. 115.
  63. ^ Brooke and Sorensen, pp. 165-166.
  64. ^ Matthew, Gladstone. 1875–1898, p. 355.
  65. ^ Magnus, p. 423.
  66. ^ G. W. E. Russell, One Look Back (Wells Gardner, Darton and Co., 1911), p. 265.
  67. ^ UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Measuring Worth: UK CPI.
  68. ^ Lionel A. Tollemache, Talks with Mr. Gladstone (London: Edward Arnold, 1898), p. 160.
  69. ^ Tollemache, pp. 166-67.
  70. ^ Tollemache, p. 123.
  71. ^ Howe, p. 114.
  72. ^ F. W. Hirst, In the Golden Days (Frederick Muller, 1947), p. 158.
  73. ^ Six Oxford Men, Essays in Liberalism (Cassell, 1897), p. x.
  74. ^ Matthew, Gladstone. 1875–1898, p. 379.
  75. ^ Matthew, Gladstone. 1875–1898, p. 380.
  76. ^ Matthew, Gladstone. 1875–1898, p. 381.
  77. ^ Matthew, Gladstone. 1875–1898, p. 382.
  78. ^ Death certificate for William Ewart Gladstone, 19th May 1898, June Quarter, County of Chester, District 8a, Page 267, entry 113. Identity and Passport Service — General Register Office. Certified copy in possession of author.
  79. ^ Matthew, Gladstone. 1875–1898, p. 382, n. ‡.
  80. ^ Matthew, Gladstone. 1875–1898, p. 383.
  81. ^ CardinalBook History of Peace and War
  82. ^ Herbert Paul (ed.), Letters of Lord Acton to Mary Gladstone (George Allen, 1904), p. 57
  83. ^ Chris Wrigley, '‘Carving the Last Few Columns out of the Gladstonian Quarry’: The Liberal Leaders and the Mantle of Gladstone, 1898–1929', in David Bebbington and Roger Swift (eds.), Gladstone Centenary Essays (Liverpool University Press, 2000), p. 247.
  84. ^ Wrigley, p. 247.
  85. ^ Wrigley, p. 250.
  86. ^ Wrigley, p. 251.
  87. ^ Wrigley, p. 253.
  88. ^ Wrigley, p. 254.
  89. ^ Gladstone, p. 86.
  90. ^ F. A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (Routledge, 2001), p. 188.
  91. ^ "London's Hidden History Bow Church". Modern Gent. Retrieved 2009-03-01. 
  92. ^ "St John's Garden". Liverpool City Council. Retrieved 2008-09-07. 
  93. ^ "Statue, W. E. Gladstone Monument". Art and architecture. Retrieved 2008-09-07. 
  94. ^ "Images of England - Gladstone's Statue, Albert Square". Retrieved 2009-06-19. 
  95. ^ "City of Edinburgh Council". City of Edinburgh Council. Retrieved 2009-01-23. 
  96. ^ "George Square". Wikipedia. Retrieved 2009-01-23. 
  97. ^ "Gladstone City & Hinterland". Retrieved 2009-11-04. 


  • Walter Bagehot, 'Mr. Gladstone', Biographical Studies (1881).
  • Michael Barker, Gladstone and Radicalism. The Reconstruction of Liberal Policy in Britain. 1885-1894 (The Harvester Press, 1975).
  • D. W. Bebbington, William Ewart Gladstone (1993).
  • D. W. Bebbington, The Mind of Gladstone: Religion, Homer and Politics (2004).
  • E. F. Biagini, Liberty, Retrenchment and Reform. Popular Liberalism in the Age of Gladstone, 1860-1880 (Cambridge University Press, 1992).
  • Eugenio F. Biagini, Gladstone (2000).
  • F. Birrell, Gladstone (1933).
  • Eric Brand, William Gladstone (1986) ISBN 0-87754-528-6.
  • Osbert Burdett, W. E. Gladstone (1928).
  • E. G. Collieu, Gladstone (1968).
  • E. Eyck, Gladstone (1938).
  • Viscount Gladstone, After Thirty Years (1928).
  • Edward Hamilton, Mr. Gladstone. A Monograph (1898).
  • F. W. Hirst, Gladstone as Financier and Economist (1931).
  • Roy Jenkins, Gladstone (1995), ISBN 0-333-66209-1.
  • E. A. Macdonald (pseud.Andrew Melrose),Mr. Gladstone: A Popular Biography‎ (1891)
  • Philip Magnus, Gladstone: A Biography (1954)
  • H. C. G. Matthew, Gladstone. 1809–1874 (Oxford University Press, 1988).
  • H. C. G. Matthew, Gladstone. 1875–1898 (Oxford University Press, 1995).
  • H. C. G. Matthew, Gladstone: 1809-98 (1995), ISBN 0-19-820696-8.
  • John Morley, The Life of William Ewart Gladstone (Three volumes, 1903)
  • Sir Wemyss Reid (ed.), The Life of William Ewart Gladstone (1899).
  • Richard Shannon, Gladstone: Peel's Inheritor, 1809-1865 (1985), ISBN 0-8078-1591-8.
  • Richard Shannon, Gladstone: Heroic Minister, 1865-1898 (1999), ISBN 0-8078-2486-0.
  • Richard Shannon, Gladstone: God and Politics (2007).

See also

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Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

There should be a sympathy with freedom, a desire to give it scope, founded not upon visionary ideas, but upon the long experience of many generations...

William Ewart Gladstone (29 December 1809 - 19 May 1898) was a British Liberal politician and Prime Minister (1868-1874, 1880-1885, 1886 and 1892-1894). He was a notable political reformer, known for his populist speeches, and was for many years the main political rival of Benjamin Disraeli.


  • Ireland, Ireland! That cloud in the west! That coming storm! That minister of God's retribution upon cruel, inveterate, and but half-atoned injustice! Ireland forces upon us those great social and great religious questions. God grant that we may have courage to look them in the face!
    • Letter to his wife, Catherine Gladstone (1845-10-12).
  • Decision by majorities is as much an expedient as lighting by gas.
    • Speech, House of Commons (1858).
  • Economy is the first and great article (economy such as I understand it) in my financial creed. The controversy between direct and indirect taxation holds a minor, thought important place.
    • Letter to his brother Robertson of the Financial Reform Association at Liverpool (1859).
    • F. W. Hirst, Gladstone as Financier and Economist (London: Ernest Benn Limited, 1931), p. 241.
  • I am certain, from experience, of the immense advantage of strict account-keeping in early life. It is just like learning the grammar then, which when once learned need not be referred to afterwards.
    • Letter to Mrs. Gladstone (14 January, 1860).
    • F. W. Hirst, Gladstone as Financier and Economist (London: Ernest Benn Limited, 1931), pp. 242-3.
  • We may be for or against the South. But there is no doubt that Jefferson Davis and other leaders of the South have made an Army; they are making, it appears, a Navy; and they have made — what is more than either — they have made a Nation.... We may anticipate with certainty the success of the Southern States so far as regards their separation from the North.
    • Speech on the American Civil War, Town Hall, Newcastle upon Tyne (1862-10-07).
  • I mean this, that together with the so-called increase of expenditure there grows up what may be termed a spirit which, insensibly and unconsciously perhaps, but really, affects the spirit of the people, the spirit of parliament, the spirit of the public departments, and perhaps even the spirit of those whose duty it is to submit the estimates to parliament.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (1863-04-16).
    • John Morley, The Life of William Ewart Gladstone. Volume II (London: Macmillan, 1903), p. 62.
  • But how is the spirit of expenditure to be exorcised? Not by preaching; I doubt if even by yours. I seriously doubt whether it will ever give place to the old spirit of economy, as long as we have the income-tax. There, or hard by, lie questions of deep practical moment.
    • Letter to Richard Cobden (1864-01-05).
    • John Morley, The Life of William Ewart Gladstone. Volume II (London: Macmillan, 1903), p. 62.
  • I venture to say that every man who is not presumably incapacitated by some consideration of personal unfitness or of political danger is morally entitled to come within the pale of the Constitution.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (1864-05-11).
  • At last, my friends, I am come amongst you. And I am come...'unmuzzled'.
    • Speech to the electors of South Lancashire. (1865-07-18).
  • The only means which have been placed in my power of 'raising the wages of colliers' has been by endeavouring to beat down all those restrictions upon trade which tend to reduce the price to be obtained for the product of their labour, & to lower as much as may be the taxes on the commodities which they may require for use or for consumption. Beyond this I look to the forethought not yet so widely diffused in this country as in Scotland, & in some foreign lands; & I need not remind you that in order to facilitate its exercise the Government have been empowered by Legislation to become through the Dept. of the P.O. the receivers & guardians of savings.
    • Letter to Daniel Jones, an unemployed collier who complained of unemployment and of low wages (20 October, 1869).
    • H. C. G. Matthew, The Gladstone Diaries: With Cabinet Minutes and Prime-ministerial Correspondence: 1869-June 1871 Vol 7 (Oxford University Press, 1982), p. lxxiv.
  • I am inclined to say that the personal attendance and intervention of women in election proceedings, even apart from any suspicion of the wider objects of many of the promoters of the present movement, would be a practical evil not only of the gravest, but even of an intolerable character.
    • Debate on the Women's Disabilities Bill, House of Commons, (1871-05-03) (Parl. Deb. Vol. 206, Col. 91.).
  • The idea of abolishing Income Tax is to me highly attractive, both on other grounds & because it tends to public economy.
  • ...I am delighted to see how many young boys and girls have come forward to obtain honourable marks of recognition on this occasion,—if any effectual good is to be done to them, it must be done by teaching and encouraging them and helping them to help themselves. All the people who pretend to take your own concerns out of your own hands and to do everything for you, I won't say they are imposters; I won't even say they are quacks; but I do say they are mistaken people. The only sound, healthy description of countenancing and assisting these institutions is that which teaches independence and self-exertion...When I say you should help yourselves— and I would encourage every man in every rank of life to rely upon self-help more than on assistance to be got from his neigbours—there is One who helps us all, and without whose help every effort of ours is in vain; and there is nothing that should tend more, and there is nothing that should tend more to make us see the beneficence of God Almighty than to see the beauty as well as the usefulness of these flowers, these plants, and these fruits which He causes the earth to bring forth for our comfort and advantage.
    • Speech to the Hawarden Amateur Horticultural Society (17 August, 1876).
    • 'Mr. Gladstone On Cottage Gardening.', The Times (18 August, 1876), p. 9.
  • As the British Constitution is the most subtile organism which has proceeded from the womb and the long gestation of progressive history, so the American Constitution is, so far as I can see, the most wonderful work ever struck off by the brain and purpose of man.
    • Article in The North American Review (September, 1878).
  • National injustice is the surest road to national downfall.
  • The disease of an evil conscience is beyond the practice of all the physicians of all the countries in the world.
  • I think that the principle of the Conservative Party is jealousy of liberty and of the people, only qualified by fear; but I think the principle of the Liberal Party is trust in the people, only qualified by prudence.
    • Speech at the opening of the Palmerston Club, Oxford, December 1878. Source: New York Times, 1879.[1]
  • A rational reaction against the irrational excesses and vagaries of scepticism may, I admit, readily degenerate into the rival folly of credulity. To be engaged in opposing wrong affords, under the conditions of our mental constitution, but a slender guarantee for being right.
    • Homeric Synchronism : An Enquiry Into the Time and Place of Homer (1876), Introduction
  • Remember the rights of the savage, as we call him. Remember that the happiness of his humble home, remember that the sanctity of life in the hill villages of Afghanistan among the winter snows, are as sacred in the eye of Almighty God as are your own. Remember that He who has united you together as human beings in the same flesh and blood, has bound you by the law of mutual love, that that mutual love is not limited by the shores of this island, is not limited by the boundaries of Christian civilisation, that it passes over the whole surface of the earth, and embraces the meanest along with the greatest in its wide scope.
    • Speech, Foresters' Hall, Dalkeith, Scotland (1879-11-26) as part of the Midlothian campaign; printed in "Mr Gladstone's visit to Mid-Lothian: Meeting at the Foresters' Hall" (1879-11-27), The Scotsman, p.6. Also quoted in John Morley, Life of Gladstone (1903), II, (p. 595).
  • Here is my first principle of foreign policy: good government at home.
    • Speech, West Calder, Scotland (1879-11-27).
In freedom you lay the firmest foundations both of loyalty and order; the firmest foundations for the development of individual character; and the best provision for the happiness of the nation at large.
  • You should avoid needless and entangling engagements. You may boast about them, you may brag about them, you may say you are procuring consideration of the country. You may say that an Englishman may now hold up his head among the nations. But what does all this come to, gentlemen? It comes to this, that you are increasing your engagements without increasing your strength; and if you increase your engagements without increasing strength, you diminish strength, you abolish strength; you really reduce the empire and do not increase it. You render it less capable of performing its duties; you render it an inheritance less precious to hand on to future generations.
    • Speech, West Calder, Scotland (1879-11-27).
  • There should be a sympathy with freedom, a desire to give it scope, founded not upon visionary ideas, but upon the long experience of many generations within the shores of this happy isle, that in freedom you lay the firmest foundations both of loyalty and order; the firmest foundations for the development of individual character; and the best provision for the happiness of the nation at large.
    • Speech, West Calder, Scotland (1879-11-27).
  • The Chancellor of the Exchequer should boldly uphold economy in detail; and it is the mark of a chicken-hearted Chancellor when he shrinks from upholding economy in detail, when because it is a question of only two or three thousand pounds, he says it is no matter. He is ridiculed, no doubt, for what is called candle-ends and cheese-parings, but he is not worth his salt if he is not ready to save what are meant by candle-ends and cheese-parings in the cause of the country. No Chancellor of the Exchequer is worth his salt who makes his own popularity either his consideration, or any consideration at all, in administering the public purse. In my opinion, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is the trusted and confidential steward of the public. He is under a sacred obligation with regard to all that he consents to spend.
    • Speech at Edinburgh (29 November, 1879).
    • F. W. Hirst, Gladstone as Financier and Economist (London: Ernest Benn Limited, 1931), p. 243.
  • As he [Disraeli] lived, so he died — all display, without reality or genuineness.
    • Said in May 1881 to his secretary, Edward Hamilton, regarding Disraeli's instructions to be given a modest funeral. Disraeli was buried in his wife's rural churchyard grave. Gladstone, Prime Minister at the time, had offered a state funeral and a burial in Westminster Abbey. Quoted in chapter 11 of Gladstone: A Biography (1954) by Philip Magnus.
  • The reason why the foreign producer gets his produce to market cheaper, relatively, is this—that foreign produce is collected and brought in such large quantities and is sent in great masses to the market. That is the secret of cheap carriage...We must try to make our pounds of produce into tons—or must bring together a number of producers. If you small agriculturists can collectively offer a great bulk of merchandise to the railway companies, they will give you good terms.
    • Speech at Hawarden (5 January, 1884).
    • F. W. Hirst, Gladstone as Financier and Economist (London: Ernest Benn Limited, 1931), p. 258.
  • There is a process of slow modification and development mainly in directions which I view with misgiving. "Tory democracy," the favourite idea on that side, is no more like the Conservative party in which I was bred, than it is like Liberalism. In fact less. It is demagogism...applied in the worst way, to put down the pacific, law-respecting, economic elements which ennobled the old Conservatism, living upon the fomentation of angry passions, and still in secret as obstinately attached as ever to the evil principle of class interests. The Liberalism of to-day is better...yet far from being good. Its pet idea is what they called construction,—that is to say, taking into the hands of the State the business of the individual man. Both the one and the other have much to estrange me, and have had for many, many years.
    • Letter to Lord Acton (1885-02-11)
    • John Morley, The Life of William Ewart Gladstone. Volume III (London: Macmillan, 1903), pp. 172-3.
  • The rule of our policy is that nothing should be done by the state which can be better or as well done by voluntary effort; and I am not aware that, either in its moral or even its literary aspects, the work of the state for education has as yet proved its superiority to the work of the religious bodies or of philanthropic individuals. Even the economical considerations of materially augmented cost do not appear to be wholly trivial.
  • Socialism. Here I am at at one with you. I have always been opposed to it. It is now taking hold of both parties, in a way I much dislike: & unhappily Lord Salisbury is one of its leaders, with no Lord Hartington (see his speech at Darwen) to oppose him.
  • All the world over, I will back the masses against the classes.
  • But let the working man be on his guard against another danger. We live at a time when there is a disposition to think that the Government ought to do this and that and that the Government ought to do everything. There are things which the Government ought to do, I have no doubt. In former periods the Government have neglected much, and possibly even now they neglect something; but there is a danger on the other side. If the Government takes into its hands that which the man ought to do for himself it will inflict upon him greater mischiefs than all the benefits he will have received or all the advantages that would accrue from them. The essence of the whole thing is that the spirit of self-reliance, the spirit of true and genuine manly independence, should be preserved in the minds of the people, in the minds of the masses of the people, in the mind of every member of the class. If he loses his self-denial, if he learns to live in a craven dependence upon wealthier people rather than upon himself, you may depend upon it he incurs mischief for which no compensation can be made.
    • Speech at the opening of the Reading and Recreation Rooms erected by the Saltney Literary Institute at Saltney in Chesire (26 October, 1889).
    • 'Mr. Gladstone On The Working Classes.', The Times (28 October, 1889), p. 8.
  • Selfishness is the greatest curse of the human race.
  • ...I venture on assuring you that I regard the design formed by you and your friends with sincere interest, and in particular wish well to all the efforts you may make on behalf of individual freedom and independence as opposed to what is termed Collectivism.
    • Letter to F. W. Hirst on being unable to write a preface to Essays in Liberalism by "Six Oxford Men" (1897-01-02).
    • F. W. Hirst, In the Golden Days (London: Frederick Muller, 1947), p. 158.
  • The hopelessness of the Turkish Government should make me witness with delight its being swept out of the countries which it tortures. Next to the Ottoman Government nothing can be more deplorable and blameworthy than jealousies between Greek and Slav and plans by the States already existing for appropriating other territory. Why not Macedonia for the Macedonians as well as Bulgaria for the Bulgarians and Serbia for the Serbians?
    • Letter quoted in The Times (London), Mr. Gladstone and The Balkan Confederation (1897-02-06).
  • We look forward to the time when the Power of Love will replace the Love of Power. Then will our world know the blessings of peace.
    • As quoted in The Forbes Book of Business Quotations (1997) edited by Edward C. Goodman and Ted Goodman, p. 639

About William Ewart Gladstone

  • He has one gift most dangerous to a spectator, a vast command of a kind of language, grave and majestic, but of vague and uncertain import.
  • Ah, Oxford on the surface, but Liverpool below.
    • An unnamed Whig's comment in the Commons on Gladstone's budget, Feb. 1860, in Walter Bagehot, "Mr. Gladstone," National Review (July 1860)
  • He has — and it is one of the springs of great power — a real faith in the higher parts of human nature; he believes, with all his heart and soul and strength, that there is such a thing as truth; he has the soul of a martyr with the intellect of an advocate.
  • Who equals him in earnestness? Who equals him in eloquence? Who equals him in courage and fidelity to his convictions? If these gentlemen who say they will not follow him have anyone who is equal, let them show him. If they can point out any statesman who can add dignity and grandeur to the stature of Mr. Gladstone, let them produce him!
  • An almost spectral kind of phantasm of a man--nothing in him but forms and ceremonies and outside wrappings.
  • He speaks to Me as if I was a public meeting.
  • What you say about Gladstone is most just. What restlessness! What vanity! And what unhappiness must be his! Easy to say he is mad. It looks like it. My theory about him is unchanged: A ceaseless Tartuffe from the beginning. That sort of man does not get mad at 70.
  • If there were no Tories, I am afraid he would invent them.
  • Gladstone will soon have it all his own way and whenever he gets my place we shall have strange doings.
    • Lord Palmerston to Lord Shaftesbury towards the end of Palmerston's life. E. Hodder, The Life and Work of the Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury: Volume III (London, 1886), p. 187.
  • The defects of his strength grow on him. All black is very black, all white very white.
  • I saw in the face of Mr. Gladstone a blending of opposite qualities. There were the peace and gentleness of the lamb, with the strength and determination of the lion. Deep earnestness was expressed in all his features. He began his speech in a tone conciliatory and persuasive. His argument against the bill was based upon statistics which he handled with marvelous facility. He showed that the amount of crimes in Ireland for which the Force Bill was claimed as a remedy by the Government was not greater than the great class of crimes in England, and that therefore there was no reason for a Force Bill in one country more than in the other. After marshaling his facts and figures to this point, in a masterly and convincing manner, raising his voice and pointing his finger directly at Mr. Balfour, he exclaimed, in a tone almost menacing and tragic, "What are you fighting for?" The effect was thrilling. His peroration was a splendid appeal to English love of liberty. When he sat down the House was instantly thinned out. There seemed neither in members nor spectators any desire to hear another voice after hearing Mr. Gladstone's.
    • Frederick Douglass, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1892), Part Three, Ch. 8: "European Tour"
  • He was the first Chancellor of the Exchequer who ever made the Budget interesting. "He talked shop," it was said, "like a tenth muse." He could apply all the resources of a glowing rhetoric to the most prosaic questions of cost and profit; could make beer romantic and sugar serious. He could sweep the widest horizon of the financial future, and yet stoop to bestow the minutest attention on the microcosm of penny stamps and the monetary merits of half-farthings.
  • If you were to put that man on a moor with nothing on but his shirt, he would become whatever he pleased.
  • I don't object to Gladstone always having the ace of trumps up his sleeve, but merely to his belief that the Almighty put it there.
  • The greatest Chancellor of all time.
    • Nigel Lawson, The View From No. 11: Memoirs of a Tory Radical (Bantam, 1992), p. 279.
  • They told me how Mr. Gladstone read Homer for fun, which I thought served him right.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

WILLIAM EWART GLADSTONE (1809-1898), British statesman, was born on the 29th of December 1809 at No. 62 Rodney Street, Liverpool. His forefathers were Gledstanes of Gledstanes, in the upper ward of Lanarkshire; or in Scottish phrase, Gledstanes of that Ilk. As years went on their estates dwindled, and by the beginning of the 17th century Gledstanes was sold. The adjacent property of Arthurshiel remained in the hands of the family for nearly a hundred years longer. Then the son of the last Gledstanes of Arthurshiel removed to Biggar,. where he opened the business of a maltster. His grandson,. Thomas Gladstone (for so the name was modified), became a corn-merchant at Leith. He happened to send his eldest son, John, to Liverpool to sell a cargo of grain there, and the energy and aptitude of the young man attracted the favourable notice of a leading corn-merchant of Liverpool, who recommended him to settle in that city. Beginning his commercial career as a clerk in his patron's house, John Gladstone lived to become one of the merchant-princes of Liverpool, a baronet and a member of parliament. He died in 1851 at the age of eightyseven. Sir John Gladstone was a pure Scotsman, a Lowlander by birth and descent. He married Anne, daughter of Andrew Robertson of Stornoway, sometime provost of Dingwall. Provost Robertson belonged to the Clan Donachie, and by this marriage the robust and business-like qualities of the Lowlander were blended with the poetic imagination, the sensibility and fire of the Gael.

John and Anne Gladstone had six children. The fourth son, William Ewart, was named after a merchant of Liverpool who was his father's friend. He seems to have been a remarkably good child, and much beloved at home. In 1818 or 1819 Mrs Gladstone, who belonged to the Evangelical school, said in a letter to a friend, that she believed her son William had been " truly converted to God." After some tuition at the vicarage of Seaforth, a watering-place near Liverpool, the boy went to Eton in 1821. His tutor was the Rev. Henry Hartopp Knapp. His brothers, Thomas and Robertson Gladstone, were already at Eton. Thomas was in the fifth form, and William, who was placed in the middle remove of the fourth form, became his eldest brother's fag. He worked hard at his classical lessons, and supplemented the ordinary business of the school by studying mathematics in the holidays. Mr Hawtrey, afterwards headmaster, commended a copy of his Latin verses, and " sent him up for good "; and this experience first led the young student to associate intellectual work with the ideas of ambition and success. He was not a fine scholar, in that restricted sense of the term which implies a special aptitude for turning English into Greek and Latin, or for original versification in the classical languages. " His composition," we read, " was stiff," but he was imbued with the substance of his authors; and a contemporary who was in the sixth form with him recorded that " when there were thrilling passages of Virgil or Homer, or difficult passages in the Scriptores Graeci, to translate, he or Lord Arthur Hervey was generally called up to edify the class with quotation or translation." By common consent he was pre-eminently God-fearing, orderly and conscientious. " At Eton," said Bishop Hamilton of Salisbury, " I was a thoroughly idle boy, but I was saved from some worse things by getting to know Gladstone." His most intimate friend was Arthur Hallam, by universal acknowledgment the most remarkable Etonian of his day; but he was not generally popular or even widely known. He was seen to the greatest advantage, and was most thoroughly at home, in the debates of the Eton Society, learnedly called " The Literati," and vulgarly " Pop," and in the editorship of the Eton Miscellany. He left Eton at Christmas 1827. He read for six months with private tutors, and in October 18 28 went up to Christ Church, where, in the following year, he was nominated to a studentship.

At Oxford Gladstone read steadily, but not laboriously, till he neared his final schools. During the latter part of his undergraduate career he took a brief but brilliant share in the proceedings of the Union, of which he was successively secretary and president. He made his first speech on the 11th of February 1830. Brought up in the nurture and admonition of Canning, he defended Roman Catholic emancipation, and thought the duke of Wellington's government unworthy of national confidence. He opposed the removal of Jewish disabilities, arguing, we are told by a contemporary, " on the part of the Evangelicals," and pleaded for the gradual extinction, in preference to the immediate abolition, of slavery. But his great achievement was a speech against the Whig Reform Bill. One who heard this famous discourse says: " Most of the speakers rose, more or less, above their usual level, but when Mr Gladstone sat down we all of us felt that an epoch in our lives had occurred. It certainly was the finest speech of his that I ever heard." Bishop Charles Wordsworth said that his experience of Gladstone at this time " made me (and I doubt not others also) feel no less sure than of my own existence that Gladstone, our then Christ Church undergraduate, would one day rise to be prime minister of England." In December 1831 Gladstone crowned his career by taking a double first-class. Lord Halifax (1800-1885) used to say, with reference to the increase in the amount of reading requisite for the highest honours: " My double-first must have been a better thing than Peel's; Gladstone's must have been better than mine." Now came the choice of a profession. Deeply anxious to make the best use of his life, Gladstone turned his thoughts to holy orders. But his father had determined to make him a politician. Quitting Oxford in the spring of 1832, Gladstone spent six months in Italy, learning the language and studying art. In the following September he was suddenly recalled to England, to undertake his first parliamentary campaign. The fifth duke of Newcastle was one of the chief potentates of the High Tory party. His frank claim to " do what he liked with his own " in the representation of: Newark has given him a place in political history. But that claim had been rudely disputed by the return of a Radical lawyer at the election of 1831. The Duke was anxious to obtain a capable candidate to aid him in regaining his ascendancy over the rebellious borough. His son, Lord Lincoln, had heard Gladstone's speech against the Reform Bill delivered in the Oxford Union, and had written home that " a man had uprisen in Israel." At his suggestion the duke invited Gladstone to stand for Newark in the Tory interest against Mr Serjeant Wilde, afterwards Lord Chancellor Truro. The last of the Unreformed parliaments was dissolved on the 3rd of December 1832. Gladstone, addressing the electors of Newark, said that he was bound by the opinions of no man and no party, but felt it a duty to watch and resist that growing desire for change which threatened to produce " along with partial good a melancholy preponderance of mischief." The first principle to which he looked for national salvation was, that the"duties of governors are strictly and peculiarly religious, and that legislatures, like individuals, are bound to carry throughout their acts the spirit of the high truths they have acknowledged." The condition of the poor demanded special attention; labour should receive adequate remuneration; and he thought favourably of the " allotment of cottage grounds." He regarded slavery as sanctioned by Holy Scripture, but the slaves ought to be educated and gradually emancipated. The contest resulted in his return at the head of the poll.

The first Reformed parliament met on the 29th of January 1833, and the young member for Newark took his seat for the first time in an assembly which he was destined to adorn, delight and astonish for more than half a century. His maiden speech was delivered on the 3rd of June in reply to what was almost a personal challenge. The colonial secretary, Mr Stanley, afterwards Lord Derby, brought forward ry. a series of resolutions in favour of the extinction of slavery in the British colonies. On the first night of the debate Lord Howick, afterwards Lord Grey, who had been undersecretary for the Colonies, and who opposed the resolutions as proceeding too gradually towards abolition, cited certain occurrences on Sir John Gladstone's plantation in Demerara to illustrate his contention that the system of slave-labour in the West Indies was attended by great mortality among the slaves. Gladstone in his reply - his first speech in the House - avowed that he had a pecuniary interest in the question, " and, if he might say so much without exciting suspicion, a still deeper interest in it as a question of justice, of humanity and of religion." If there had recently been a high mortality on his father's plantation, it was due to the age of the slaves rather than to any peculiar hardship in their lot. It was true that the particular system of cultivation practised in Demerara was more trying than some others; but then it might be said that no two trades were equally conducive to health. Steel-grinding was notoriously unhealthy, and manufacturing processes generally were less favourable to life than agricultural. While strongly condemning cruelty, he declared himself an advocate of emancipation, but held that it should be effected gradually, and after due preparation. The slaves must be religiously educated, and stimulated to profitable industry. The owners of emancipated slaves were entitled to receive compensation from parliament, because it was parliament that had established this description of property. " I do not," said Gladstone, " view property as an abstract thing; it is the creature of civil society. By the legislature it is granted, and by the legislature it is destroyed. " On the following day King William IV. wrote to Lord Althorp: " The king rejoices that a young member has come forward in so promising a manner as Viscount Althorp states Mr W. E. Gladstone to have done." In the same session Gladstone spoke on the question of bribery and corruption at Liverpool, and on the temporalities of the Irish Church. In the session of 1834 his most important performance was a speech in opposition to Hume's proposal to throw the universities open to Dissenters.

On the 10th of November 1834 Lord Althorp succeeded to his father's peerage, and thereby vacated the leadership of the House of Commons. The prime minister, Lord Melbourne, submitted to the king a choice of names for the chancellorship of the exchequer and leadership of the House of Commons; but his majesty announced that, having lost the services of Lord Althorp as leader of the House of Commons, he could feel no confidence in the stability of Lord Melbourne's government, and that it was his intention to send for the duke of Wellington. The duke took temporary charge of affairs, but Peel was felt to be indispensable. He had gone abroad after the session, and was now in Rome. As soon as he could be brought back he formed an administration, and appointed Gladstone to a junior lordship of the treasury. Parliament was dissolved on the 29th of December. Gladstone was returned unopposed, this time in conjunction with the Liberal lawyer whom he had beaten at the last election. The new parliament met on the 19th of February 1835. The elections had given the Liberals a considerable majority. Immediately after the meeting of parliament Gladstone was promoted to the under-secretaryship for the colonies, where his official chief was Lord Aberdeen. The administration was not long-lived. On the 30th of March Lord John Russell moved a resolution in favour of an inquiry into the temporalities of the Irish Church, with the intention of applying the surplus to general education without distinction of religious creed. This was carried against ministers by a majority of thirty-three. On the 8th of April Sir Robert Peel resigned, and the undersecretary for the colonies of course followed his chief into private life.

Released from the labours of office, Gladstone, living in chambers in the Albany, practically divided his time between his parliamentary duties and study. Then, as always, it is recorded that he read the whole of St Augustine, in twenty-two octavo volumes. He used to frequent the services at St James's, Piccadilly, and Margaret chapel, since better known as All Saints', Margaret Street. On the 20th of June 1837 King William IV. died, and Parliament, having been prorogued by the young queen in person, was dissolved on the 17th of the following month. Simply on the strength of his parliamentary reputation Gladstone was nominated, without his consent, for Manchester, and was placed at the bottom of the poll; but, having been at the same time nominated at Newark, was again returned. The year 1838 claims special note in a record of Gladstone's life, because it witnessed the appearance of his famous work on The State in its Relations with the Church. He had left Oxford just before the beginning of that Catholic revival which has transfigured both the inner spirit and the outward aspect of the Church of England. But the revival was now in full strength. The Tracts for the Times were saturating England with new influences. The movement counted no more enthusiastic or more valuable disciple than Gladstone. Its influence had reached him through his friendships, notably with two Fellows of Merton - Mr James Hope, who became Mr HopeScott of Abbotsford, and the Rev. H. E. Manning, afterwards cardinal archbishop. The State in its Relations with the Church was his practical contribution to a controversy in which his deepest convictions were involved. He contended that the Church, as established by law, was to be " maintained for its truth," and that this principle, if good for England, was good also for Ireland.

On the 2 5th of July 1839 Gladstone was married at Hawarden to Miss Catherine Glynne, sister, and in her issue heir, of Sir Stephen Glynne, ninth and last baronet of that name. In 1840 he published Church Principles considered in their Results. Parliament was dissolved in June 1841. Gladstone was again returned for Newark. The general election resulted in a Tory majority of eighty. Sir Robert Peel became r i me minister, and made the member for Newark p vice-president of the Board of Trade. An inevitable change is from this time to be traced in the topics of Gladstone's parliamentary speaking. Instead of discoursing on the corporate conscience of the state and the endowments of the Church, the importance of Christian education, and the theological unfitness of the Jews to sit in parliament, he is solving business-like problems about foreign tariffs and the exportation of machinery; waxing eloquent over the regulation of railways, and a graduated tax on corn; subtle on the monetary merits of half-farthings, and great in the mysterious lore of quassia and cocculus indicus. In 1842 he had a principal hand in the preparation of the revised tariff, by which duties were abolished or sensibly diminished in the case of 1200 duty-paying articles. In defending the new scheme he spoke incessantly, and amazed the House by his mastery of detail, his intimate acquaintance with the commercial needs of the country, and his inexhaustible power of exposition. In 1843 Gladstone, succeeding Lord Ripon as president of the Board of Trade, became a member of the cabinet at the age of thirty-three. He has recorded the fact that " the very first opinion which he ever was called upon to give in cabinet " was an opinion in favour of withdrawing the bill providing education for children in factories, to which vehement opposition was offered by the Dissenters, on the ground that it was too favourable to the Established Church.

At the opening of the session of 1845 the government, in pursuance of a promise made to Irish members that they would deal with the question of academical education in Ireland, proposed to establish non-sectarian colleges in that country and to make a large addition to the grant to the Roman Catholic College of Maynooth. Gladstone resigned office, in order, as he announced in the debate on the address, to form " not only an honest, but likewise an independent and an unsuspected judgment," on the plan to be submitted by the government with respect to Maynooth. His subsequent defence of the proposed grant, on the ground that it would be improper and unjust to exclude the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland from a " more indiscriminating support " which the state might give to various religious beliefs, was regarded by men of less sensitive conscience as only proving that there had been no adequate cause for his resignation. Before he resigned he completed a second revised tariff, carrying considerably further the principles on which he had acted in the earlier revision of 1842.

In the autumn of 1845 the failure of the potato crop in Ireland threatened a famine, and convinced Sir Robert Peel that all restrictions on the importation of food must be at once suspended. He was supported by only three members of the cabinet, and resigned on the 5th of December. Lord John Russell, who had just announced his conversion to total and immediate repeal of the Corn Laws, declined the task of forming an administration, and on the 10th of December Sir Robert Peel resumed office. Lord Stanley refused to re-enter the government, and his place as secretary of state for the colonies was offered to and accepted by Gladstone. He did not offer himself for re-election at Newark, and remained outside the House of Commons during the great struggle of the coming year. It was a curious irony of fate which excluded him from parliament at this crisis, for it seems unquestionable that he was the most advanced Free Trader in Sir Robert Peel's Cabinet. The Corn Bill passed the House of Lords on the 28th of June 1846, and on the same day the government were beaten in the House of Commons on an Irish Coercion Bill. Lord John Russell became prime minister, and Gladstone retired for a season into private life. Early in 1847 it was announced that one of the two members for the university of Oxford intended to retire at the general election, and Gladstone was proposed for the vacant seat. The representation of the university had been pronounced by Canning to be the most coveted prize of public life, and Gladstone himself confessed that he " desired it with an almost passionate fondness." Parliament was dissolved on the 23rd of July 1847. The nomination at Oxford took place on the 29th of July, and at the close of the poll Sir Robert Inglis stood at the head, with Gladstone as his colleague.

The three years 1847, 1848, 1849 were for Gladstone a period of mental growth, of transition, of development. A change was silently proceeding, which was not completed for twenty years. " There have been," he wrote in later days to Bishop Wilberforce, " two great deaths, or transmigrations of spirit, in my political existence - one, very slow, the breaking of ties with my original party." This was now in progress. In the winter of1850-1851Gladstone spent between three and four months at Naples, where he learned that more than half the chamber of deputies, who had followed the party of Opposition, had been banished or imprisoned; that a large number, probably not less than 20,000, of the citizens had been imprisoned on charges of political disaffection, and that in prison they were subjected to the grossest cruelties. Having made careful investigations, Gladstone, on the 7th of April 1851, addressed an open letter to Lord Aberdeen, bringing an elaborate, detailed and horrible indictment against the rulers of Naples, especially as regards the arrangements of their prisons and the treatment of persons confined in them for political offences. The publication of this letter caused a wide sensation in England and abroad, and profoundly agitated the court of Naples. In reply to a question in the House of Commons, Lord Palmerston accepted and adopted Gladstone's statement, expressed keen sympathy with the cause which he had espoused, and sent a copy of his letter to the queen's representative at every court of Europe. A second letter and a third followed, and their effect, though for a while retarded, was unmistakably felt in the subsequent revolution which created a free and united Italy. In February 1852 the Whig government was defeated on a Militia Bill, and Lord John Russell was succeeded by Lord Derby, formerly Lord Stanley, with Mr Disraeli, who now his constant companions were Homer and Dante, and entered office for the first time, as chancellor of the exchequer and leader of the House of Commons. Mr Disraeli introduced and carried a makeshift budget, and the government tided over the session, and dissolved parliament on the fitted by an unique combination of financial, administrative and rhetorical gifts. His first budget was introduced on the 18th of April 1853. It tended to make life easier and cheaper for large and numerous classes; it promised wholesale remissions of taxation; it lessened the charges on common processes of business, on locomotion, on postal communication, and on several articles of general consumption. The deficiency thus created was to be met by a " succession-duty," or application of the legacy-duty to real property; by an increase of the duty on spirits; and by the extension of the income-tax, at 5d. in the pound, to all incomes between £ioo and £150. The speech in which these proposals were introduced held the House spellbound. Here was an orator who could apply all the resources of a burnished rhetoric to the elucidation of figures; who could sweep the widest horizon of the financial future, and yet stoop to bestow the minutest attention on the microcosm of penny stamps and post-horses. Above all, the chancellor's mode of handling the income-tax attracted interest and admiration. It was a searching analysis of the financial and moral grounds on which the impost rested, and a historical justification and eulogy of it. Yet, great as had been the services of the tax at a time of national danger, Gladstone could not consent to retain it as a part of the permanent and ordinary finances of the country. It was objectionable on account of its unequal incidence, of the harassing investigation into private affairs which it entailed, and of the frauds to which it inevitably led. Therefore, having served its turn, it was to be extinguished in 1860. The scheme astonished, interested and attracted the country. The queen and Prince Albert wrote to congratulate the chancellor of the exchequer. Public authorities and private friends joined in the chorus of eulogy. The budget demonstrated at once its author's absolute mastery over figures and the persuasive force of his expository gift. It established the chancellor of the exchequer as the paramount financier of his day, and it was only the first of a long series of similar performances, different, of course, in detail, but alike in their bold outlines and brilliant handling. Looking back on a long life of strenuous exertion, Gladstone declared that the work of preparing his proposals about the succession-duty and carrying them through Parliament was by far the most laborious task which he ever performed. War between Great Britain and Russia was declared on the 27th of March 1854, and it thus fell to the lot of the most pacific of ministers, the devotee of retrenchment, and the anxious cultivator of all industrial arts, to prepare a war budget, and to meet as well as he might the exigencies of a conflict which had so cruelly dislocated all the ingenious devices of financial optimism. No amount of skill in the manipulation of figures, no ingenuity in shifting fiscal burdens, could prevent the addition of forty-one millions to the national debt, or could countervail the appalling mismanagement at the seat of war. Gladstone declared that the state of the army in the Crimea was a " matter for weeping all day and praying all night." As soon as parliament met in January 1855 J. A. Roebuck, the Radical member for Sheffield, gave notice that he would move for a select committee " to inquire into the condition of our army before Sevastopol, and into the conduct of those departments of the government whose duty it has been to minister to the wants of that army." On the same day Lord John Russell, without announcing his intention to his colleagues, resigned his office as president of the council sooner than attempt the defence of the government. Gladstone, in defending the government against Roebuck, rebuked in dignified and significant terms the conduct of men who, " hoping to escape from punishment, ran away from duty." On the division on Mr Roebuck's motion the government was beaten by the unexpected majority of 157.

Lord Palmerston became prime minister. The Peelites joined him, and Gladstone resumed office as chancellor of the exchequer. A shrewd observer at the time pronounced him indispensable. " Any other chancellor of the exchequer would be torn in bits by him." The government was formed on the understanding that Mr Roebuck's proposed committee was to be resisted. Lord Palmerston soon saw that further resistance was useless; his Peelite colleagues stuck to their text, and, within three weeks after resuming office, Gladstone, Sir James Graham and Mr Sidney Herbert resigned. Gladstone once said of himself and his Peelite colleagues, during the period of political isolation, that they were like roving icebergs on which men could not land with safety, but with which ships might come into perilous collision. He now applied himself specially to financial criticism, and was perpetually in conflict with the chancellor of the exchequer, Sir George Cornewall Lewis.

In 1858 Lord Palmerston was succeeded by Lord Derby at the head of a Conservative administration, and Gladstone accepted the temporary office of high commissioner extraordinary to the Ionian Islands. Returning to England for the session of 1859, he found himself involved in the controversy which arose over a mild Reform Bill introduced by the government. They were defeated on the second reading of the bill, Gladstone voting with them. A dissolution immediately followed, and Gladstone was again returned unopposed for the university of Oxford. As soon as the new parliament met a vote of want of confidence in the ministry was moved in the House of Commons. In the critical division which ensued Gladstone voted with the government, who were left in a minority. Lord Derby resigned. Lord Palmerston became prime minister, and asked Gladstone to join him as chancellor of the exchequer. To vote confidence in an imperilled ministry, and on its defeat to take office with the rivals who have defeated it, is a manoeuvre which invites the reproach of tergiversation. But Gladstone risked the reproach, accepted the office and had a sharp tussle for his seat. He emerged from the struggle victorious, and entered on his duties with characteristic zeal. The prince consort wrote: " Gladstone is now the real leader in the House of Commons, and works with an energy and vigour altogether incredible." The budget of 1860 was marked by two distinctive features. It asked the sanction of parliament for the commercial treaty which Cobden had privately arranged with the emperor Napoleon, and it proposed to abolish the duty on paper. The French treaty 1st 1s of July 18 2. There was some talk of inducing d J Y Th f i $ g Glad stone to join the Tory government, and on the 29th of November Lord Malmesbury dubiously remarked, " I cannot make out Gladstone, who seems to me a dark horse." In the following month the chancellor of the exchequer produced his second budget. The government redeemed their pledge to do something for the relief of the agricultural interest by reducing the duty on malt. This created a deficit, which they repaired by doubling the duty on inhabited houses. The voices of criticism were heard simultaneously on every side. The debate waxed fast and furious. In defending his proposals Mr Disraeli gave full scope to his most characteristic gifts; he pelted his opponents right and left with sarcasms, taunts and epigrams. Gladstone delivered an unpremeditated reply, which has ever since been celebrated. Tradition says that he " foamed at the mouth." The speech of the chancellor of the exchequer, he said, must be answered " on the moment." It must be " tried by the laws of decency and propriety." He indignantly rebuked his rival's language and demeanour. He tore his financial scheme to ribbons. It was the beginning of a duel which lasted till death removed one of the combatants from the political arena. " Those who had thought it impossible that any impression could be made upon the House after the speech of Mr Disraeli had to acknowledge that a yet greater impression was produced by the unprepared reply of Mr Gladstone." The House divided, and the government were left in a minority of nineteen. Lord Derby resigned.

The new government was a coalition of Whigs and Peelites. Lord Aberdeen became prime minister, and Gladstone chancellor of the exchequer. Having been returned again for the university of Oxford, he entered on the active duties of a great office for which he was pre-eminently g P Y House of government in power, but on the 18th of October the commons. old prime minister died. He was succeeded by Lord Russell, and Gladstone, retaining the chancellorship of the exchequer, became for the first time leader of the House of Commons. Lord Russell, backed by Gladstone, persuaded his colleagues to consent to a moderate Reform Bill, and the task of piloting this measure through the House of Commons fell to Gladstone. The speech in which he wound up the debate on the second reading was one of the finest, if not indeed the very finest, which he ever delivered. But it was of no practical avail. The government were defeated on an amendment in committee, and thereupon resigned. Lord Derby became prime minister, with Disraeli as chancellor of the exchequer and leader of the House of Commons. On the 18th of March 1867 the Tory Reform Bill, which ended in establishing Household Suffrage in the boroughs, was introduced, and was read a second time without a division. After undergoing extensive alterations in committee at the hands of the Liberals and Radicals, the bill became law in August.

At Christmas 1867 Lord Russell announced his final retirement from active politics, and Gladstone was recognized by acclamation as leader of the Liberal party. Nominally he was in Opposition; but his party formed the majority of the House of Commons, and could beat the government whenever they chose to mass their forces. Gladstone seized the opportunity to give effect to convictions which had long been forming in his mind. Early in the session he brought in a bill abolishing compulsory church-rates, and this passed into law. On the 16th of March, in a debate raised by an Irish member, he declared that in his judgment the Irish Church, as a State Church, must cease to exist. Immediately afterwards he embodied this opinion in a series of resolutions concerning the Irish Church Establishment, and carried them against the government. Encouraged by this triumph, he brought in a Bill to prevent any fresh appointments in the Irish Church, and this also passed the Commons, though it was defeated in the Lords. Parliament was dissolved on the 11th of November. A single issue was placed before the country - Was the Irish Church to be, or not to be, disestablished? The response was an overwhelming affirmative. Gladstone, who had been doubly nominated, was defeated in Lancashire, but was returned for Greenwich. He chose this moment for publishing a Chapter of Autobiography, in which lie explained and justified his change of opinion with regard to the Irish Church.

On the 2nd of December Disraeli, who had succeeded Lord Derby as premier in the preceding February, announced that he and his colleagues, recognizing their defeat, had resigned without waiting for a formal vote of the new parliament. On the following day Gladstone was summoned to Windsor, and commanded by the queen to form an administration. The great task to which the new prime minister immediately addressed himself was the disestablishment of the Irish Church. The queen wrote to Archbishop Tait that the subject of the Irish Church " made her very anxious," but that Mr Gladstone " showed the most conciliatory disposition." " The government can do nothing that would tend to raise a suspicion of their sincerity in proposing to disestablish the Irish Church, and to withdraw all state endowments from all religious communions in Ireland; but, were these conditions accepted, all other matters connected with the question might, the queen thinks, become the subject of discussion and negotiation." The bill was drawn and piloted on the lines thus indicated, and became law on the 26th of July. In the session of 1870 Gladstone's principal work was the Irish Land Act, of which the object was to protect the tenant against eviction as long as he paid his rent, and to secure to him the value of any improvements which his own industry had made. In the following session Religious Tests in the universities were abolished, and a bill to establish secret voting was carried through the House of Commons. This was thrown out by the Lords, but became law a year later. The House of Lords threw out a bill to abolish the purchase of commissions in the army. Gladstone found that purchase existed only by royal sanction, and advised the queen to issue a royal warrant cancelling, on and after the 1st of November following, all regulations authorizing the purchase of commissions. In 1873 Gladstone set his hand to the third of three great Irish reforms to which he had pledged himself. His scheme for the establishment of a university which should satisfy both Roman Catholics and Protestants met with general disapproval. The bill was thrown out by three votes, and Gladstone resigned. The queen sent for Disraeli, who declined to take office in a minority of the House of Commons, so Gladstone was compelled to resume. But he and his colleagues were now, in Disraelitish phrase, " exhausted volcanoes." Election after election went wrong. The government had lost favour with the public, and was divided against itself. There were resignations and rumours of resignations. When the session of 1873 had come to an end Gladstone took the chancellorship of the exchequer, and, as high authorities contended, vacated his seat by doing so. The point was obviously one of vital importance; and we learn from Lord Selborne, who was lord chancellor at the time, that Gladstone " was sensible of the difficulty of either taking his seat in the usual manner at the opening of the session, or letting. ... the necessary arrangements for business in the House of Commons be made in the prime minister's absence. A dissolution was the only escape." On the 23rd of January 1874 Gladstone announced the dissolution in an address to his constituents, declaring that the authority of the government had o f187atioa g y g of 1874. now " sunk below the point necessary for the due de fence and prosecution of the public interest." He promised that, if he were returned to power, he would repeal the income-tax. This bid for popularity failed, the general election resulting in a Tory majority of forty-six. Gladstone kept his seat for Greenwich, but was only second on the poll. Following the example of Disraeli in 1868, he resigned without meeting parliament.

For some years he had alluded to his impending retirement from public life, saying that he was "strong against going on in politics to the end." He was now sixty-four, and his life had been a continuous experience of exhausting Temporary p g retirement. labour. On the 12th of March 1874 he informed Lord Granville that he could give only occasional attendance in the House of Commons during the current session, and that he must " reserve his entire freedom to divest himself of all the was carried, but the abolition of the paper-duty was defeated in the House of Lords. Gladstone justly regarded the refusal to remit a duty as being in effect an act of taxation, and Budget th e refore as an infringement of the rights of the House of'1860. g g of Commons. The proposal to abolish the paperduty was revived in the budget of 1861, the chief proposals of which, instead of being divided, as in previous years, into several bills, were included in one. By this device the Lords were obliged to acquiesce in the repeal of the paper-duty.

During Lord Palmerston's last administration, which lasted from 1859 to 1865, Gladstone was by far the most brilliant and most conspicuous figure in the cabinet. Except in finance, he was not able to accomplish much, for he was met and thwarted at every turn by his chief's invincible hostility to change; but the more advanced section of the Liberal party began to look upon him as their predestined leader. In 1864, in a debate on a private member's bill for extending the suffrage, he declared that the burden of proof lay on those " who would exclude forty-nine fiftieths of the working-classes from the franchise." In 1865, in a debate on the condition of the Irish Church Establishment, he declared that the Irish Church, as it then stood, was in a false position, inasmuch as it ministered only to one-eighth or oneninth of the whole community. But just in proportion as Gladstone advanced in favour with the Radical party he lost the confidence of his own constituents. Parliament was dissolved in July 1865, and the university elected Mr Gathorne Hardy in his place.

Gladstone at once turned his steps towards South Lancashire, where he. was returned with two Tories above him. The result of the general election was to retain Lord Palmerston's Leader of Leader of Liberal party. Prime Minister: Irish Church disestablishment. responsibilities of leadership at no distant date." His most important intervention in the debates of 1874 was when he opposed Archbishop Tait's Public Worship Bill. This was read a second time without a division, but in committee Gladstone enjoyed some signal triumphs over his late solicitor-general, Sir William Harcourt, who had warmly espoused the cause of the government and the bill. At the beginning of 1875 Gladstone carried into effect the resolution which he had announced a year before, and formally resigned the leadership of the Liberal party. He was succeeded by Lord Hartington, afterwards duke of Devonshire. The learned leisure which Gladstone had promised himself when released from official responsibility was not of long duration. In the autumn of 1875 an insurrection broke out in Bulgaria, and the suppression of it by the Turks was marked by massacres and outrages. Public indignation was aroused by what were known as the " Bulgarian atrocities," and Gladstone flung himself into the agitation against Turkey with characteristic zeal. At public meetings, in the press, and in parliament he denounced the Turkish government and its champion, Disraeli, who had now become Lord Beaconsfield. Lord Hartington soon found himself pushed aside from his position of titular leadership. For four years, from 1876 to 1880, Gladstone maintained the strife with a courage, a persistence and a versatility which raised the enthusiasm of his followers to the highest pitch. The county of Edinburgh, or Midlothian, which he contested against the dominant influence of astonishing exertions. As the general election approached the only question submitted to the electors was - Do you approve or condemn Lord Beaconsfield's foreign policy ? The answer was given at Easter 1880, when the Liberals were returned by an overwhelming majority over Tories and Home Rulers combined. Gladstone was now member for Midlothian, having retired from Greenwich at the dissolution.

When Lord Beaconsfield resigned, the queen sent for Lord Hartington, the titular leader of the Liberals, but he and Lord Granville assured her that no other chief than Gladstone would satisfy the party. Accordingly, on the 23rd of April he became prime minister for the second time. His second administration, of which the main achievement was the extension of the suffrage to the agricultural labourers, was harassed by two controversies, relating to Ireland and Egypt, which proved disastrous to the Liberal party. Gladstone alienated considerable masses of English opinion by his efforts to reform the tenure of Irish land, and provoked the Irish people by his attempts to establish social order and to repress crime. A bill to provide compensation for tenants who had been evicted by Irish landlords passed the Commons, but was shipwrecked in the Lords, and a ghastly record of outrage and murder stained the following winter. A Coercion Bill and a Land Bill passed in 1881 proved unsuccessful. On the 6th of May 1882 the newly appointed chief secretary for Ireland, Lord Frederick Cavendish, and his under-secretary, Mr Burke, were stabbed to death in the Phoenix Park at Dublin. A new Crimes Act, courageously administered by Lord Spencer and Sir George Trevelyan, abolished exceptional crime in Ireland, but completed the breach between the British government and the Irish party in parliament.

The bombardment of the forts at Alexandria and the occupation of Egypt in 1882 were viewed with great disfavour by the bulk of the Liberal party, and were but little congenial to Gladstone himself. The circumstances of General Gordon's untimely death awoke an outburst of indignation against those who were, or seemed to be, responsible for it. Frequent votes of censure were proposed by the Opposition, and on the 8th of June 1885 the government were beaten on the budget. Gladstone resigned. The queen offered him the dignity of an earldom, which he declined. He was succeeded by Lord Salisbury.

The general election took place in the following November. When it was over the Liberal party was just short of the numerical strength which was requisite to defeat the combination of Tories and Parnellites. A startling surprise was at hand. Gladstone had for some time been convinced of the expediency of conceding Home Rule to Ireland in the event of the Irish constituencies giving unequivocal proof that they desired it. His intentions were made known only to a privileged few, and these, curiously, were not his colleagues. The general election of 1885 showed that Ireland, outside Ulster, was practically unanimous for Home Rule. On the r7th of December an anonymous paragraph was published, stating that if Mr Gladstone returned to office he was prepared to " deal in a liberal spirit with the demand for Home Rule." It was clear that if Gladstone meant what he appeared to mean, the Parnellites would support him, and the Tories must leave office. The government seemed to accept the situation. When parliament met they executed, for form's sake, some confused manoeuvres, and then they were beaten on an amendment to the address in favour of Municipal Allotments. On the ist of February 1886 Gladstone became, for the third time, prime minister. Several of his former colleagues declined to join him, on the ground of their absolute hostility to the policy of Home Rule; others joined on the express understanding that they were only pledged to consider the policy, and did not fetter their further liberty of action. On the 8th of April Gladstone brought in his bill for establishing Home Rule, and eight days later the bill for buying out the Irish landlords. Meanwhile two members of his cabinet, feeling themselves unable to support these measures, resigned. Hostility to the bills grew apace. Gladstone was implored to withdraw them, or substitute a resolution in favour of Irish autonomy; but he resolved to press at least the Home Rule Bill to a second reading. In the early morning of the 8th of June the bill was thrown out by thirty. Gladstone immediately advised the queen to dissolve parliament. Her Majesty strongly demurred to a second general election within seven months; but Gladstone persisted, and she yielded. Parliamentwas dissolved on the 26th of June. In spite of Gladstone's skilful appeal to the constituencies to sanction the principle of Home Rule, as distinct from the practical provisions of his late bill, the general election resulted in a majority of considerably over loo against his policy, and Lord Salisbury resumed office. Throughout the existence of the new parliament Gladstone never relaxed his extraordinary efforts, though now nearer eighty than seventy, on behalf of the cause of self-government for Ireland. The fertility of argumentative resource, the copiousness of rhetoric, and the physical energy which he threw into the enterprise, would have been remarkable at any stage of his public life; continued into his eighty-fifth year they were little less than miraculous. Two incidents of domestic interest, one happy and the other sad, belong to that period of political storm and stress. On the 25th of July 1889 Gladstone celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of his marriage, and on the 4th of July 1891 his eldest son, William Henry, a man of fine character and accomplishments, died, after a lingering illness, in his fifty-second year.

The crowning struggle of Gladstone's political career was now approaching its climax. Parliament was dissolved on the 28th of June 1892. The general election resulted o in a majority of forty for Home Rule, heterogeneously composed of Liberals, Labour members and Irish. As soon as the new parliament met a vote of want of confidence in Lord Salisbury's government was moved and carried. Lord Salisbury resigned, and on the 15th of August 1892 Gladstone kissed hands as first lord of the treasury. He was the first English statesman that had been four times prime minister. Parliament reassembled in January 1893. Gladstone brought in his new Home Rule Bill on the 13th of February. It passed the House of Commons, but was thrown out by the House of Lords on the second reading on the 8th of September 1893. Gladstone's political work was now, in his own judgment, ended. He made his last speech in the House of Commons on the 1st of March 1894, acquiescing in some amendments introduced by the Lords into the Parish Councils Bill; and on the 3rd of March he placed his resignation in the queen's hands. He never set foot again in the House of Commons, though he remained a member of it till the dissolution of 1895. He paid the duke of Buccleuch, was the scene of the most occasional visits to friends in London, Scotland and the south of France; but the remainder of his life was spent for the most part at Hawarden. He occupied his leisure by writing a rhymed translation of the Odes of Horace, and preparing an elaborately annotated edition of Butler's Analogy and Sermons. He had also contemplated some addition to the Homeric studies which he had always loved, but this design was never carried into effect, for he was summoned once again from his quiet life of study and devotion to the field of public controversy. The Armenian massacres in 1894 and 1895 revived all his ancient hostility to " the governing Turk." He denounced the massacres and their perpetrators at public meetings held at Chester on the 6th of August 1895, and at Liverpool on the 24th of September 1896. In March 1897 he recapitulated the hideous history in an open letter to the duke of Westminster.

But the end, though not yet apprehended, was at hand. Since his retirement from office Gladstone's physical vigour, up to that time unequalled, had shown signs of impairment. Towards the end of the summer of 1897 he began to suffer from an acute pain, which was attributed to facial neuralgia, and in November he went to Cannes. In February 1898 he returned to England and went to Bournemouth. There he was informed that the pain had its origin in a disease which must soon prove fatal. He received the information with simple thankfulness, and only asked that he might die at home. On the 22nd of. March he returned to Hawarden, and there he died on the 19th of May 1898. During the night of the 25th of May his body was conveyed from Hawarden to London and the coffin was placed on a bier in Westminster Hall. Throughout the 26th and 27th a vast train of people, officially estimated at 250,000, and drawn from every rank and class, moved in unbroken procession past the bier. On the 28th of May the coffin, preceded by the two Houses of Parliament and escorted by the chief magnates of the realm, was carried from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey. The heir-apparent and his son, the prime minister and the leader of the House of Commons, were among those who bore the pall. The body was buried in the north transept of the abbey, where, on the 19th of June 1900, Mrs Gladstone's body was laid beside it.

Mr and Mrs Gladstone had four sons and four daughters, of whom one died in infancy. The eldest son, W. H. Gladstone. (1840-1891), was a member of parliament for many Family years, and married the daughter of Lord Blantyre, his son William (b. 1885) inheriting the family estates. The fourth son, Herbert John (b. 1854), sat in parliament for Leeds from 1880 to 1910, and filled various offices, being home secretary 1905-1910; in 191() he was created Viscount Gladstone, on being appointed governor-general of united South Africa. The eldest daughter, Agnes, married the Rev. E. C. Wickham, headmaster of Wellington, 1873-1893, and later Dean of Lincoln. Another daughter married the Rev. Harry Drew, rector of Hawarden. The youngest, Helen, was for some years vice-principal of Newnham College, Cambridge.

After a careful survey of Mr Gladstone's life, enlightened by personal observation, it is inevitable to attempt some analysis. of his character. First among his moral attributes must be placed his religiousness. From those early days when a fond mother wrote of him as having been " truly converted to God," down to the verge of ninety years, he lived in the habitual contemplation of the unseen world, and regulated his private and public action by reference to a code higher than that of mere prudence or worldly wisdom. A second characteristic, scarcely less prominent than the first, was his love of power. His ambition had nothing in common with the vulgar eagerness for place and pay and social standing. Rather it was a resolute determination to possess that control over the machine of state which should enable him to fulfil without let or hindrance the political mission with which he believed that Providence had charged him. The love of power was supported by a splendid fearlessness. No dangers were too threatening for him to face, no obstacles too formidable,no tasks too laborious, no heights too steep. The love of power and the supporting courage were allied with a marked imperiousness. Of this quality there was no trace in his manner, which was courteous, conciliatory and even deferential; nor in his speech, which breathed an almost exaggerated humility. But the imperiousness showed itself in the more effectual form of action; in his sudden resolves, his invincible insistence, his recklessness of consequences to himself and his friends, his habitual assumption that the civilized world and all its units must agree with him, his indignant astonishment at the bare thought of dissent or resistance, his incapacity to believe that an overruling Providence would permit him to be frustrated or defeated. He had by nature what he himself called a " vulnerable temper and impetuous moods." But so absolute was his lifelong self-mastery that he was hardly ever betrayed into saying that which, on cooler reflection, needed to be recalled. It was easy enough to see the " vulnerable temper " as it worked within, but it was never suffered to find audible expression. It may seem paradoxical, but it is true, to say that Mr Gladstone was by nature conservative. His natural bias was to respect things as they were. In his eyes, institutions, customs, systems, so long as they had not become actively mischievous, were good because they were old. It is true that he was sometimes forced by conviction or fate or political necessity to be a revolutionist on a large scale; to destroy an established Church; to add two millions of voters to the electorate; to attack the parliamentary union of the kingdoms. But these changes were, in their inception, distasteful to their author. His whole life was spent in unlearning the prejudices in which he was educated. His love of freedom steadily developed, and he applied its principles more and more courageously to the problems of government. But it makes some difference to the future of a democratic state whether its leading men are eagerly on the look-out for something to revolutionize, or approach a constitutional change by the gradual processes of conviction and conversion.

Great as were his eloquence, his knowledge and his financial skill, Gladstone was accustomed to say of himself that the only quality in which, so far as he knew, he was distinguished from his fellow-men was his faculty of concentration. Whatever were the matter in hand, he so concentrated himself on it, and absorbed himself in it, that nothing else seemed to exist for him.

A word must be said about physical characteristics. In his prime Gladstone was just six feet high, but his inches diminished as his years increased, and in old age the unusual size of his head and breadth of his shoulders gave him a slightly top-heavy appearance. His features were strongly marked; the nose trenchant and hawk-like, and the mouth severely lined. His flashing eyes were deep-set, and in colour resembled the onyx with its double band of brown and grey. His complexion was of an extreme pallor, and, combined with his jet-black hair, gave in earlier life something of an Italian aspect to his face. His dark eyebrows were singularly flexible, and they perpetually expanded and contracted in harmony with what he was saying. He held himself remarkably upright, and even from his school-days at Eton had been remarked for the rapid pace at which he habitually walked. His voice was a baritone, singularly clear and far-reaching. In the Waverley Market at Edinburgh, which is said to hold 20,000 people, he could be heard without difficulty; and as late as 1895 he said to the present writer: " What difference does it make to me whether I speak to 400 or 4000 people ? " His physical vigour in old age earned him the popular nickname of the Grand Old Man.

Lord Morley of Blackburn's Life of Gladstone was published in 1903. (G. W. E. R.)

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Simple English

The Rt Hon William Ewart Gladstone

In office
3 December 1868 – 17 February 1874
Preceded by Benjamin Disraeli
Succeeded by Benjamin Disraeli
In office
23 April 1880 – 9 June 1885
Preceded by The Earl of Beaconsfield
Succeeded by The Marquess of Salisbury
In office
1 February 1886 – 20 July 1886
Preceded by The Marquess of Salisbury
Succeeded by The Marquess of Salisbury
In office
15 August 1892 – 2 March 1894
Preceded by The Marquess of Salisbury
Succeeded by The Earl of Rosebery

In office
December 28, 1852 – February 28, 1855
Preceded by Benjamin Disraeli
Succeeded by George Cornewall Lewis
In office
June 18, 1859 – June 26, 1866
Preceded by Benjamin Disraeli
Succeeded by Benjamin Disraeli
In office
August 11, 1873 – February 17, 1874
Preceded by Robert Lowe
Succeeded by Stafford Northcote
In office
April 28, 1880 – December 16, 1882
Preceded by Stafford Northcote
Succeeded by Hugh Childers

Born 29 December 1809
Liverpool, England
Died 19 May 1898
Hawarden Castle, Flintshire, Wales
Political party Conservative and Liberal

William Ewart Gladstone (29 December 1809 – 19 May 1898) was a prime minister of the United Kingdom. He was also leader of the Liberal Party of the UK. His career lasted more than 60 years. He served as Liberal Prime Minister four times. This was more than any other person (1868-1874, 1880-1885, February-July 1886 and 1892-1894). Gladstone was 84 years old when he resigned for the last time. This made him Britain's oldest Prime Minister. He also served as Chancellor of the Exchequer four times (1853-1855, 1859-1866, 1873-1874, and 1880-1882).

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