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The Life of William Ewart Gladstone, Vol. 1 (of 3) - 1809-1859
by John Morley
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THE LIFE OF

WILLIAM EWART

GLADSTONE

BY

JOHN MORLEY

IN THREE VOLUMES—VOL. I

(1809-1859)



TORONTO GEORGE N. MORANG & COMPANY, LIMITED 1903

COPYRIGHT, 1903,

BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.

Set up, electrotyped, and published October, 1903. Reprinted October, November, 1903.

Norwood Press J. S. Cushing & Co.—Berwick & Smith Co. Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.

TO THE

ELECTORS OF THE MONTROSE BURGHS

I BEG LEAVE TO

INSCRIBE THIS BOOK

IN GRATEFUL RECOGNITION

OF

THE CONFIDENCE AND FRIENDSHIP

WITH WHICH

THEY HAVE HONOURED ME

NOTE

The material on which this biography is founded consists mainly, of course, of the papers collected at Hawarden. Besides that vast accumulation, I have been favoured with several thousands of other pieces from the legion of Mr. Gladstone's correspondents. Between two and three hundred thousand written papers of one sort or another must have passed under my view. To some important journals and papers from other sources I have enjoyed free access, and my warm thanks are due to those who have generously lent me this valuable aid. I am especially indebted to the King for the liberality with which his Majesty has been graciously pleased to sanction the use of certain documents, in cases where the permission of the Sovereign was required.

When I submitted an application for the same purpose to Queen Victoria, in readily promising her favourable consideration, the Queen added a message strongly impressing on me that the work I was about to undertake should not be handled in the narrow way of party. This injunction represents my own clear view of the spirit in which the history of a career so memorable as Mr. Gladstone's should be composed. That, to be sure, is not at all inconsistent with our regarding party feeling in its honourable sense, as entirely the reverse of an infirmity.

The diaries from which I have often quoted consist of forty little books in double columns, intended to do little more than record persons seen, or books read, or letters written as the days passed by. From these diaries come several of the mottoes prefixed to our chapters; such mottoes are marked by an asterisk.

The trustees and other members of Mr. Gladstone's family have extended to me a uniform kindness and consideration and an absolutely unstinted confidence, for which I can never cease to owe them my heartiest acknowledgment. They left with the writer an unqualified and undivided responsibility for these pages, and for the use of the material that they entrusted to him. Whatever may prove to be amiss, whether in leaving out or putting in or putting wrong, the blame is wholly mine.

J. M.

1903.

CONTENTS



BOOK I

(1809-1831)

CHAPTER PAGE

INTRODUCTORY 1

I. CHILDHOOD 7

II. ETON 26

III. OXFORD 48

BOOK II

(1832-1846)

I. ENTERS PARLIAMENT. 86

II. THE NEW CONSERVATISM AND OFFICE 116

III. PROGRESS IN PUBLIC LIFE. 131

IV. THE CHURCH 152

V. HIS FIRST BOOK 169

VI. CHARACTERISTICS 184

VII. CLOSE OF APPRENTICESHIP 219

VIII. PEEL'S GOVERNMENT 247

IX. MAYNOOTH 270

X. TRIUMPH OF POLICY AND FALL OF THE MINISTER 282

XI. THE TRACTARIAN CATASTROPHE 303

BOOK III

(1847-1852)

CHAPTER PAGE

I. MEMBER FOR OXFORD 327

II. THE HAWARDEN ESTATE 337

III. PARTY EVOLUTION—NEW COLONIAL POLICY 350

IV. DEATH OF SIR ROBERT PEEL 366

V. GORHAM CASE—SECESSION OF FRIENDS 375

VI. NAPLES 389

VII. RELIGIOUS TORNADO—PEELITE DIFFICULTIES 405

VIII. END OF PROTECTION 425

BOOK IV

(1853-1859)

I. THE COALITION 443

II. THE TRIUMPH OF 1853 457

III. THE CRIMEAN WAR 476

IV. OXFORD REFORM—OPEN CIVIL SERVICE 496

V. WAR FINANCE—TAX OR LOAN 513

VI. CRISIS OF 1855 AND BREAK-UP OF THE PEELITES 521

VII. POLITICAL ISOLATION 544

VIII. GENERAL ELECTION—NEW MARRIAGE LAW 558

IX. THE SECOND DERBY GOVERNMENT 574

X. THE IONIAN ISLANDS 594

XI. JUNCTION WITH THE LIBERALS 621

APPENDIX 635

CHRONOLOGY 654

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

SIR JOHN GLADSTONE Frontispiece.

From a painting by William Bradley.

WILLIAM EWART GLADSTONE to face page 86

From a painting by William Bradley.

CATHERINE GLADSTONE " 223

From a painting.

HAWARDEN CASTLE " 337

Book I

1809-1831

INTRODUCTORY

I am well aware that to try to write Mr. Gladstone's life at all—the life of a man who held an imposing place in many high national transactions, whose character and career may be regarded in such various lights, whose interests were so manifold, and whose years bridged so long a span of time—is a stroke of temerity. To try to write his life to-day, is to push temerity still further. The ashes of controversy, in which he was much concerned, are still hot; perspective, scale, relation, must all while we stand so near be difficult to adjust. Not all particulars, more especially of the latest marches in his wide campaign, can be disclosed without risk of unjust pain to persons now alive. Yet to defer the task for thirty or forty years has plain drawbacks too. Interest grows less vivid; truth becomes harder to find out; memories pale and colour fades. And if in one sense a statesman's contemporaries, even after death has abated the storm and temper of faction, can scarcely judge him, yet in another sense they who breathe the same air as he breathed, who know at close quarters the problems that faced him, the materials with which he had to work, the limitations of his time—such must be the best, if not the only true memorialists and recorders.

Every reader will perceive that perhaps the sharpest of all the many difficulties of my task has been to draw the line between history and biography—between the fortunes of the community and the exploits, thoughts, and purposes of the individual who had so marked a share in them. In the case of men of letters, in whose lives our literature is admirably rich, this difficulty happily for their authors and for our delight does not arise. But where the subject is a man who was four times at the head of the government—no phantom, but dictator—and who held this office of first minister for a longer time than any other statesman in the reign of the Queen, how can we tell the story of his works and days without reference, and ample reference, to the course of events over whose unrolling he presided, and out of which he made history? It is true that what interests the world in Mr. Gladstone is even more what he was, than what he did; his brilliancy, charm, and power; the endless surprises; his dualism or more than dualism; his vicissitudes of opinion; his subtleties of mental progress; his strange union of qualities never elsewhere found together; his striking unlikeness to other men in whom great and free nations have for long periods placed their trust. I am not sure that the incessant search for clues through this labyrinth would not end in analysis and disquisition, that might be no great improvement even upon political history. Mr. Gladstone said of reconstruction of the income-tax that he only did not call the task herculean, because Hercules could not have done it. Assuredly, I am not presumptuous enough to suppose that this difficulty of fixing the precise scale between history and biography has been successfully overcome by me. It may be that Hercules himself would have succeeded little better.

Some may think in this connection that I have made the preponderance of politics excessive in the story of a genius of signal versatility, to whom politics were only one interest among many. No doubt speeches, debates, bills, divisions, motions, and manoeuvres of party, like the manna that fed the children of Israel in the wilderness, lose their savour and power of nutriment on the second day. Yet after all it was to his thoughts, his purposes, his ideals, his performances as statesman, in all the widest significance of that lofty and honourable designation, that Mr. Gladstone owes the lasting substance of his fame. His life was ever 'greatly absorbed,' he said, 'in working the institutions of his country.' Here we mark a signal trait. Not for two centuries, since the historic strife of anglican and puritan, had our island produced a ruler in whom the religious motive was paramount in the like degree. He was not only a political force but a moral force. He strove to use all the powers of his own genius and the powers of the state for moral purposes and religious. Nevertheless his mission in all its forms was action. He had none of that detachment, often found among superior minds, which we honour for its disinterestedness, even while we lament its impotence in result. The track in which he moved, the instruments that he employed, were the track and the instruments, the sword and the trowel, of political action; and what is called the Gladstonian era was distinctively a political era.

On this I will permit myself a few words more. The detailed history of Mr. Gladstone as theologian and churchman will not be found in these pages, and nobody is more sensible than their writer of the gap. Mr. Gladstone cared as much for the church as he cared for the state; he thought of the church as the soul of the state; he believed the attainment by the magistrate of the ends of government to depend upon religion; and he was sure that the strength of a state corresponds to the religious strength and soundness of the community of which the state is the civil organ. I should have been wholly wanting in biographical fidelity, not to make this clear and superabundantly clear. Still a writer inside Mr. Gladstone's church and in full and active sympathy with him on this side of mundane and supramundane things, would undoubtedly have treated the subject differently from any writer outside. No amount of candour or good faith—and in these essentials I believe that I have not fallen short—can be a substitute for the confidence and ardour of an adherent, in the heart of those to whom the church stands first. Here is one of the difficulties of this complex case. Yet here, too, there may be some trace of compensation. If the reader has been drawn into the whirlpools of the political Charybdis, he might not even in far worthier hands than mine have escaped the rocky headlands of the ecclesiastic Scylla. For churches also have their parties.

Lord Salisbury, the distinguished man who followed Mr. Gladstone in a longer tenure of power than his, called him 'a great Christian'; and nothing could be more true or better worth saying. He not only accepted the doctrines of that faith as he believed them to be held by his own communion; he sedulously strove to apply the noblest moralities of it to the affairs both of his own nation and of the commonwealth of nations. It was a supreme experiment. People will perhaps some day wonder that many of those who derided the experiment and reproached its author, failed to see that they were making manifest in this a wholesale scepticism as to truths that they professed to prize, far deeper and more destructive than the doubts and disbeliefs of the gentiles in the outer courts.

The epoch, as the reader knows, was what Mr. Gladstone called 'an agitated and expectant age.' Some stages of his career mark stages of the first importance in the history of English party, on which so much in the working of our constitution hangs. His name is associated with a record of arduous and fruitful legislative work and administrative improvement, equalled by none of the great men who have grasped the helm of the British state. The intensity of his mind, and the length of years through which he held presiding office, enabled him to impress for good in all the departments of government his own severe standard of public duty and personal exactitude. He was the chief force, propelling, restraining, guiding his country at many decisive moments. Then how many surprises and what seeming paradox. Devotedly attached to the church, he was the agent in the overthrow of establishment in one of the three kingdoms, and in an attempt to overthrow it in the Principality. Entering public life with vehement aversion to the recent dislodgment of the landed aristocracy as the mainspring of parliamentary power, he lent himself to two further enormously extensive changes in the constitutional centre of gravity. With a lifelong belief in parliamentary deliberation as the grand security for judicious laws and national control over executive act, he yet at a certain stage betook himself with magical result to direct and individual appeal to the great masses of his countrymen, and the world beheld the astonishing spectacle of a politician with the microscopic subtlety of a thirteenth century schoolman wielding at will the new democracy in what has been called 'the country of plain men.' A firm and trained economist, and no friend to socialism, yet by his legislation upon land in 1870 and 1881 he wrote the opening chapter in a volume on which many an unexpected page in the history of Property is destined to be inscribed. Statesmen do far less than they suppose, far less than is implied in their resounding fame, to augment the material prosperity of nations, but in this province Mr. Gladstone's name stands at the topmost height. Yet no ruler that ever lived felt more deeply the truth—for which I know no better words than Channing's—that to improve man's outward condition is not to improve man himself; this must come from each man's endeavour within his own breast; without that there can be little ground for social hope. Well was it said to him, 'You have so lived and wrought that you have kept the soul alive in England.' Not in England only was this felt. He was sometimes charged with lowering the sentiment, the lofty and fortifying sentiment, of national pride. At least it is a ground for national pride that he, the son of English training, practised through long years in the habit and tradition of English public life, standing for long years foremost in accepted authority and renown before the eye of England, so conquered imagination and attachment in other lands, that when the end came it was thought no extravagance for one not an Englishman to say, 'On the day that Mr. Gladstone died, the world has lost its greatest citizen.' The reader who revolves all this will know why I began by speaking of temerity.

That my book should be a biography without trace of bias, no reader will expect. There is at least no bias against the truth; but indifferent neutrality in a work produced, as this is, in the spirit of loyal and affectionate remembrance, would be distasteful, discordant, and impossible. I should be heartily sorry if there were no signs of partiality and no evidence of prepossession. On the other hand there is, I trust, no importunate advocacy or tedious assentation. He was great man enough to stand in need of neither. Still less has it been needed, in order to exalt him, to disparage others with whom he came into strong collision. His own funeral orations from time to time on some who were in one degree or another his antagonists, prove that this petty and ungenerous method would have been to him of all men most repugnant. Then to pretend that for sixty years, with all 'the varying weather of the mind,' he traversed in every zone the restless ocean of a great nation's shifting and complex politics, without many a faulty tack and many a wrong reckoning, would indeed be idle. No such claim is set up by rational men for Pym, Cromwell, Walpole, Washington, or either Pitt. It is not set up for any of the three contemporaries of Mr. Gladstone whose names live with the three most momentous transactions of his age—Cavour, Lincoln, Bismarck. To suppose, again, that in every one of the many subjects touched by him, besides exhibiting the range of his powers and the diversity of his interests, he made abiding contributions to thought and knowledge, is to ignore the jealous conditions under which such contributions come. To say so much as this is to make but a small deduction from the total of a grand account.

I have not reproduced the full text of Letters in the proportion customary in English biography. The existing mass of his letters is enormous. But then an enormous proportion of them touch on affairs of public business, on which they shed little new light. Even when he writes in his kindest and most cordial vein to friends to whom he is most warmly attached, it is usually a letter of business. He deals freely and genially with the points in hand, and then without play of gossip, salutation, or compliment, he passes on his way. He has in his letters little of that spirit in which his talk often abounded, of disengagement, pleasant colloquy, happy raillery, and all the other undefined things that make the correspondence of so many men whose business was literature, such delightful reading for the idler hour of an industrious day. It is perhaps worth adding that the asterisks denoting an omitted passage hide no piquant hit, no personality, no indiscretion; the omission is in every case due to consideration of space. Without these asterisks and, other omissions, nothing would have been easier than to expand these three volumes into a hundred. I think nothing relevant is lost. Nobody ever had fewer secrets, nobody ever lived and wrought in fuller sunlight.



CHAPTER I

CHILDHOOD

(1809-1821)

I know not why commerce in England should not have its old families, rejoicing to be connected with commerce from generation to generation. It has been so in other countries; I trust it will be so in this country.—GLADSTONE.

The dawn of the life of the great and famous man who is our subject in these memoirs has been depicted with homely simplicity by his own hand. With this fragment of a record it is perhaps best for me to begin our journey. 'I was born,' he says, 'on December 29, 1809,' at 62 Rodney Street, Liverpool. 'I was baptized, I believe, in the parish church of St. Peter. My godmother was my elder sister Anne, then just seven years old, who died a perfect saint in the beginning of the year 1829. In her later years she lived in close relations with me, and I must have been much worse but for her. Of my godfathers, one was a Scotch episcopalian, Mr. Fraser of ——, whom I hardly ever saw or heard of; the other a presbyterian, Mr. G. Grant, a junior partner of my father's.' The child was named William Ewart, after his father's friend, an immigrant Scot and a merchant like himself, and father of a younger William Ewart, who became member for Liverpool, and did good public service in parliament.

Before proceeding to the period of my childhood, properly so-called, I will here insert a few words about my family. My maternal grandfather was known as Provost Robertson of Dingwall, a man held, I believe, in the highest respect. His wife was a Mackenzie of [Coul]. His circumstances must have been good.

Of his three sons, one went into the army, and I recollect him as Captain Robertson (I have a seal which he gave me, a three-sided cairngorm. Cost him 71/2 guineas). The other two took mercantile positions. When my parents made a Scotch tour in 1820-21 with, I think, their four sons, the freedom of Dingwall was presented to us all,[1] with my father; and there was large visiting at the houses of the Ross-shire gentry. I think the line of my grandmother was stoutly episcopalian and Jacobite; but, coming outside the western highlands, the first at least was soon rubbed down. The provost, I think, came from a younger branch of the Robertsons of Struan.

On my father's side the matter is more complex. The history of the family has been traced at the desire of my eldest brother and my own, by Sir William Fraser, the highest living authority.[2] He has carried us up to a rather remote period, I think before Elizabeth, but has not yet been able to connect us with the earliest known holders of the name, which with the aid of charter-chests he hopes to do. Some things are plain and not without interest. They were a race of borderers. There is still an old Gledstanes or Gladstone castle. They formed a family in Sweden in the seventeenth century. The explanation of this may have been that, when the union of the crowns led to the extinction of border fighting they took service like Sir Dugald Dalgetty under Gustavus Adolphus, and in this case passed from service to settlement. I have never heard of them in Scotland until after the Restoration, otherwise than as persons of family. At that period there are traces of their having been fined by public authority, but not for any ordinary criminal offence. From this time forward I find no trace of their gentility. During the eighteenth century they are, I think, principally traced by a line of maltsters (no doubt a small business then) in Lanarkshire. Their names are recorded on tombstones in the churchyard of Biggar. I remember going as a child or boy to see the representative of that branch, either in 1820 or some years earlier, who was a small watchmaker in that town. He was of the same generation as my father, but came, I understood, from a senior brother of the family. I do not know whether his line is extinct. There also seem to be some stray Gladstones who are found at Yarmouth and in Yorkshire.[3]

ANCESTRY

My father's father seems from his letters to have been an excellent man and a wise parent: his wife a woman of energy. There are pictures of them at Fasque, by Raeburn. He was a merchant, in Scotch phrase; that is to say, a shopkeeper dealing in corn and stores, and my father as a lad served in his shop. But he also sent a ship or ships to the Baltic; and I believe that my father, whose energy soon began to outtop that of all the very large family, went in one of these ships at a very early age as a supercargo, an appointment then, I think, common. But he soon quitted a nest too small to hold him. He was born in December 1764: and I have (at Hawarden) a reprint of the Liverpool Directory for 178-, in which his name appears as a partner in the firm of Messrs. Corrie, corn merchants.

Here his force soon began to be felt as a prominent and then a foremost member of the community. A liberal in the early period of the century, he drew to Mr. Canning, and brought that statesman as candidate to Liverpool in 1812, by personally offering to guarantee his expenses at a time when, though prosperous, he could hardly have been a rich man. His services to the town were testified by gifts of plate, now in the possession of the elder lines of his descendants, and by a remarkable subscription of six thousand pounds raised to enable him to contest the borough of Lancaster, for which he sat in the parliament of 1818.

At his demise, in December 1851, the value of his estate was, I think, near L600,000. My father was a successful merchant, but considering his long life and means of accumulation, the result represents a success secondary in comparison with that of others whom in native talent and energy he much surpassed. It was a large and strong nature, simple though hasty, profoundly affectionate and capable of the highest devotion in the lines of duty and of love. I think that his intellect was a little intemperate, though not his character. In his old age, spent mainly in retirement, he was our constant [centre of] social and domestic life. My mother, a beautiful and admirable woman, failed in health and left him a widower in 1835, when she was 62.

He then turns to the records of his own childhood, a period that he regarded as closing in September 1821, when he was sent to Eton. He begins with one or two juvenile performances, in no way differing from those of any other infant,—navita projectus humi, the mariner flung by force of the waves naked and helpless ashore. He believes that he was strong and healthy, and came well through his childish ailments.

My next recollection belongs to the period of Mr. Canning's first election for Liverpool, in the month of October of the year 1812. Much entertaining went on in my father's house, where Mr. Canning himself was a guest; and on a day of a great dinner I was taken down to the dining room. I was set upon one of the chairs, standing, and directed to say to the company 'Ladies and gentlemen.'

I have, thirdly, a group of recollections which refer to Scotland. Thither my father and mother took me on a journey which they made, I think, in a post-chaise to Edinburgh and Glasgow as its principal points. At Edinburgh our sojourn was in the Royal Hotel, Princes Street. I well remember the rattling of the windows when the castle guns were fired on some great occasion, probably the abdication of Napoleon, for the date of the journey was, I think, the spring of 1814.

EARLY RECOLLECTIONS

In this journey the situation of Sanquhar, in a close Dumfriesshire valley, impressed itself on my recollection. I never saw Sanquhar again until in the autumn of 1863 (as I believe). As I was whirled along the Glasgow and South-Western railway I witnessed just beneath me lines of building in just such a valley, and said that must be Sanquhar, which it was. My local memory has always been good and very impressible by scenery. I seem to myself never to have forgotten a scene.

I have one other early recollection to record. It must, I think, have been in the year 1815 that my father and mother took me with them on either one or two more journeys. The objective points were Cambridge and London respectively. My father had built, under the very niggard and discouraging laws which repressed rather than encouraged the erection of new churches at that period, the church of St. Thomas at Seaforth, and he wanted a clergyman for it.[4] Guided in these matters very much by the deeply religious temper of my mother, he went with her to Cambridge to obtain a recommendation of a suitable person from Mr. Simeon, whom I saw at the time.[5] I remember his appearance distinctly. He was a venerable man, and although only a fellow of a college, was more ecclesiastically got up than many a dean, or even here and there, perhaps, a bishop of the present less costumed if more ritualistic period. Mr. Simeon, I believe, recommended Mr. Jones, an excellent specimen of the excellent evangelical school of those days. We went to Leicester to hear him preach in a large church, and his text was 'Grow in grace.' He became eventually archdeacon of Liverpool, and died in great honour a few years ago at much past 90. On the strength of this visit to Cambridge I lately boasted there, even during the lifetime of the aged Provost Okes, that I had been in the university before any one of them.

I think it was at this time that in London we were domiciled in Russell Square, in the house of a brother of my mother, Mr. Colin Robertson; and I was vexed and put about by being forbidden to run freely at my own will into and about the streets, as I had done in Liverpool. But the main event was this: we went to a great service of public thanksgiving at Saint Paul's, and sat in a small gallery annexed to the choir, just over the place where was the Regent, and looking down upon him from behind. I recollect nothing more of the service, nor was I ever present at any public thanksgiving after this in Saint Paul's, until the service held in that cathedral, under my advice as the prime minister, after the highly dangerous illness of the Prince of Wales.

Before quitting the subject of early recollections I must name one which involves another person of some note. My mother took me in 181—to Barley Wood Cottage, near Bristol. Here lived Miss Hannah More, with some of her coeval sisters. I am sure they loved my mother, who was love-worthy indeed. And I cannot help here deviating for a moment into the later portion of the story to record that in 1833 I had the honour of breakfasting with Mr. Wilberforce a few days before his death,[6] and when I entered the house, immediately after the salutation, he said to me in his silvery tones, 'How is your sweet mother?' He had been a guest in my father's house some twelve years before. During the afternoon visit at Barley Wood, Miss Hannah More took me aside and presented to me a little book. It was a copy of her Sacred Dramas, and it now remains in my possession, with my name written in it by her. She very graciously accompanied it with a little speech, of which I cannot recollect the conclusion (or apodosis), but it began, 'As you have just come into the world, and I am just going out of it, I therefore,' etc.

I wish that in reviewing my childhood I could regard it as presenting those features of innocence and beauty which I have often seen elsewhere, and indeed, thanks be to God, within the limits of my own home. The best I can say for it is that I do not think it was a vicious childhood. I do not think, trying to look at the past impartially, that I had a strong natural propensity then developed to what are termed the mortal sins. But truth obliges me to record this against myself. I have no recollection of being a loving or a winning child; or an earnest or diligent or knowledge-loving child. God forgive me. And what pains and shames me most of all is to remember that at most and at best I was, like the sailor in Juvenal,

digitis a morte remotus, Quatuor aut septem;[7]

the plank between me and all the sins was so very thin. I do not indeed intend in these notes to give a history of the inner life, which I think has been with me extraordinarily dubious, vacillating, and above all complex. I reserve them, perhaps, for a more private and personal document; and I may in this way relieve myself from some at least of the risks of falling into an odious Pharisaism. I cannot in truth have been an interesting child, and the only presumption the other way which I can gather from my review is that there was probably something in me worth the seeing, or my father and mother would not so much have singled me out to be taken with them on their journeys.

I was not a devotional child. I have no recollection of early love for the House of God and for divine service: though after my father built the church at Seaforth in 1815, I remember cherishing a hope that he would bequeath it to me, and that I might live in it. I have a very early recollection of hearing preaching in St. George's, Liverpool, but it is this: that I turned quickly to my mother and said, 'When will he have done?' The Pilgrim's Progress undoubtedly took a great and fascinating hold upon me, so that anything which I wrote was insensibly moulded in its style; but it was by the force of the allegory addressing itself to the fancy, and was very like a strong impression received from the Arabian Nights, and from another work called Tales of the Genii. I think it was about the same time that Miss Porter's Scottish Chiefs, and especially the life and death of Wallace, used to make me weep profusely. This would be when I was about ten years old. At a much earlier period, say six or seven, I remember praying earnestly, but it was for no higher object than to be spared from the loss of a tooth. Here, however, it may be mentioned in mitigation that the local dentist of those days, in our case a certain Dr. P. of —— Street, Liverpool, was a kind of savage at his work (possibly a very good-natured man too), with no ideas except to smash and crash. My religious recollections, then, are a sad blank. Neither was I a popular boy, though not egregiously otherwise. If I was not a bad boy, I think that I was a boy with a great absence of goodness. I was a child of slow, in some points I think of singularly slow, development. There was more in me perhaps than in the average boy, but it required greatly more time to set itself in order: and just so in adult, and in middle and later life, I acquired very tardily any knowledge of the world, and that simultaneous conspectus of the relations of persons and things which is necessary for the proper performance of duties in the world.

I may mention another matter in extenuation. I received, unless my memory deceives me, very little benefit from teaching. My father was too much occupied, my mother's health was broken. We, the four brothers, had no quarrelling among ourselves: but neither can I recollect any influence flowing down at this time upon me, the junior. One odd incident seems to show that I was meek, which I should not have supposed, not less than thrifty and penurious, a leaning which lay deep, I think, in my nature, and which has required effort and battle to control it. It was this. By some process not easy to explain I had, when I was probably seven or eight, and my elder brothers from ten or eleven to fourteen or thereabouts, accumulated no less than twenty shillings in silver. My brothers judged it right to appropriate this fund, and I do not recollect either annoyance or resistance or complaint. But I recollect that they employed the principal part of it in the purchase of four knives, and that they broke the points from the tops of the blades of my knife, lest I should cut my fingers.

Where was the official or appointed teacher all this time? He was the Rev. Mr. Rawson of Cambridge, who had, I suppose, been passed by Mr. Simeon and become private tutor in my father's house. But as he was to be incumbent of the church, the bishop required a parsonage and that he should live in it. Out of this grew a very small school of about twelve boys, to which I went, with some senior brother or brothers remaining for a while.

Mr. Rawson was a good man, of high no-popery opinions. His school afterwards rose into considerable repute, and it had Dean Stanley and the sons of one or more other Cheshire families for pupils. But I think this was not so much due to its intellectual stamina as to the extreme salubrity of the situation on the pure dry sands of the Mersey's mouth, with all the advantages of the strong tidal action and the fresh and frequent north-west winds. At five miles from Liverpool Exchange, the sands, delicious for riding, were one absolute solitude, and only one house looked down on them between us and the town. To return to Mr. Rawson. Everything was unobjectionable. I suppose I learnt something there. But I have no recollection of being under any moral or personal influence whatever, and I doubt whether the preaching had any adaptation whatever to children. As to intellectual training, I believe that, like the other boys, I shirked my work as much as I could. I went to Eton in 1821 after a pretty long spell, in a very middling state of preparation, and wholly without any knowledge or other enthusiasm, unless it were a priggish love of argument which I had begun to develop. I had lived upon a rabbit warren: and what a rabbit warren of a life it is that I have been surveying.

My brother John, three years older than myself, and of a moral character more manly and on a higher level, had chosen the navy, and went off to the preparatory college at Portsmouth. But he evidently underwent persecution for righteousness' sake at the college, which was then (say about 1820) in a bad condition. Of this, though he was never querulous, his letters bore the traces, and I cannot but think they must have exercised upon me some kind of influence for good. As to miscellaneous notices, I had a great affinity with the trades of joiners and of bricklayers. Physically I must have been rather tough, for my brother John took me down at about ten years old to wrestle in the stables with an older lad of that region, whom I threw. Among our greatest enjoyments were undoubtedly the annual Guy Fawkes bonfires, for which we had always liberal allowances of wreck timber and a tar-barrel. I remember seeing, when about eight or nine, my first case of a dead body. It was the child of the head gardener Derbyshire, and was laid in the cottage bed by tender hands, with nice and clean accompaniments. It seemed to me pleasing, and in no way repelled me; but it made no deep impression. And now I remember that I used to teach pretty regularly on Sundays in the Sunday-school built by my father near the Primrose bridge. It was, I think, a duty done not under constraint, but I can recollect nothing which associates it with a seriously religious life in myself.[8]

II

GENEALOGY

To these fragments no long supplement is needed. Little of interest can be certainly established about his far-off ancestral origins, and the ordinary twilight of genealogy overhangs the case of the Glaidstanes, Gledstanes, Gladstanes, Gladstones, whose name is to be found on tombstones and parish rolls, in charter-chests and royal certificates, on the southern border of Scotland. The explorations of the genealogist tell of recognitions of their nobility by Scottish kings in dim ages, but the links are sometimes broken, title-deeds are lost, the same name is attached to estates in different counties, Roxburgh, Peebles, Lanark, and in short until the close of the seventeenth century we linger, in the old poet's phrase, among dreams of shadows. As we have just been told, during the eighteenth century no traces of their gentility survives, and apparently they glided down from moderate lairds to small maltsters. Thomas Gladstones, grandfather of him with whom we are concerned, made his way from Biggar to Leith, and there set up in a modest way as corndealer, wholesale and retail. His wife was a Neilson of Springfield. To them sixteen children were born, and John Gladstones (b. Dec. 11, 1764) was their eldest son. Having established himself in Liverpool, he married in 1792 Jane Hall, a lady of that city, who died without children six years later. In 1800 he took for his second wife Anne Robertson of Dingwall. Her father was of the clan Donnachaidh, and her mother was of kin with Mackenzies, Munros, and other highland stocks.[9] Their son, therefore, was of unmixed Scottish origins, half highland, half lowland borderer.[10] With the possible exception of Lord Mansfield—the rival of Chatham in parliament, one of the loftiest names among great judges, and chief builder of the commercial law of the English world, a man who might have been prime minister if he had chosen.—Mr. Gladstone stands out as far the most conspicuous and powerful of all the public leaders in our history, who have sprung from the northern half of our island. When he had grown to be the most famous man in the realm of the Queen, he said, 'I am not slow to claim the name of Scotsman, and even if I were, there is the fact staring me in the face that not a drop of blood runs in my veins except what is derived from a Scottish ancestry.'[11] An illustrious opponent once described him, by way of hitting his singular duality of disposition, as an ardent Italian in the custody of a Scotsman. It is easy to make too much of race, but when we are puzzled by Mr. Gladstone's seeming contrarieties of temperament, his union of impulse with caution, of passion with circumspection, of pride and fire with self-control, of Ossianic flight with a steady foothold on the solid earth, we may perhaps find a sort of explanation in thinking of him as a highlander in the custody of a lowlander.

Of John Gladstone something more remains to be said. About 1783 he was made a partner by his father in the business at Leith, and here he saved five hundred pounds. Four years later, probably after a short period of service, he was admitted to a partnership with two corn-merchants at Liverpool, his contribution to the total capital of four thousand pounds being fifteen hundred, of which his father lent him five hundred, and a friend another five at five per cent. In 1787 he thought the plural ending of his name sounded awkwardly in the style of the firm, Corrie, Gladstones, and Bradshaw, so he dropped the s.[12] He visited London to enlarge his knowledge of the corn trade in Mark Lane, and here became acquainted with Sir Claude Scott, the banker (not yet, however, a baronet). Scott was so impressed by his extraordinary vigour and shrewdness as to talk of a partnership, but Gladstone's existing arrangement in Liverpool was settled for fourteen years. Sometime in the nineties he was sent to America to purchase corn, with unlimited confidence from Sir Claude Scott. On his arrival, he found a severe scarcity and enormous prices. A large number of vessels had been chartered for the enterprise, and were on their way to him for cargoes. To send them back in ballast would be a disaster. Thrown entirely on his own resources, he travelled south from New York, making the best purchases of all sorts that he could; then loaded his ships with timber and other commodities, one only of them with flour; and the loss on the venture, which might have meant ruin, did not exceed a few hundred pounds. Energy and resource of this kind made fortune secure, and when the fourteen years of partnership expired, Gladstone continued business on his own account, with a prosperity that was never broken. He brought his brothers to Liverpool, but it was to provide for them, not to assist himself, says Mr. Gladstone; 'and he provided for many young men in the same way. I never knew him reject any kind of work in aid of others that offered itself to him.'

JOHN GLADSTONE

It was John Gladstone's habit, we are told, to discuss all sorts of questions with his children, and nothing was ever taken for granted between him and his sons. 'He could not understand,' says the illustrious one among them, 'nor tolerate those who, perceiving an object to be good, did not at once and actively pursue it; and with all this energy he joined a corresponding warmth and, so to speak, eagerness of affection, a keen appreciation of humour, in which he found a rest, and an indescribable frankness and simplicity of character, which, crowning his other qualities, made him, I think (and I strive to think impartially), the most interesting old man I have ever known.'[13]

To his father's person and memory, Mr. Gladstone's fervid and affectionate devotion remained unbroken. 'One morning,' writes a female relative of his, 'when I was breakfasting alone with Mr. Gladstone at Carlton House Terrace something led to his speaking of his father. I seem to see him now, rising from his chair, standing in front of the chimneypiece, and in strains of fervid eloquence dwelling on the grandeur, the breadth and depth of his character, his generosity, his nobleness, last and greatest of all—his loving nature. His eyes filled with tears as he exclaimed: "None but his children can know what torrents of tenderness flowed from his heart."'

The successful merchant was also the active-minded citizen. 'His force,' says his son, 'soon began to be felt as a prominent and then a foremost member of the community.' He had something of his descendant's inextinguishable passion for pamphleteering, and the copious effusion of public letters and articles. As was inevitable in a Scotsman of his social position at that day, when tory rule of a more tyrannic stamp than was ever known in England since the Revolution of 1688, had reduced constitutional liberty in Scotland to a shadow, John Gladstone came to Liverpool a whig, and a whig he remained until Canning raised the flag of a new party inside the entrenchments of Eldonian toryism.

In 1812 Canning, who had just refused Lord Liverpool's proffer of the foreign office because he would not serve under Castlereagh as leader in the House of Commons, was invited by John Gladstone to stand for Liverpool. He was elected in triumph over Brougham, and held the seat through four elections, down to 1822, when he was succeeded by Huskisson, whom he described to the constituency as the best man of business in England, and one of the ablest practical statesmen that could engage in the concerns of a commercial country. The speeches made to his constituents during the ten years for which he served them are excellent specimens of Canning's rich, gay, aspiring eloquence. In substance they abound in much pure toryism, and his speech after the Peterloo massacre, and upon the topics relating to public meetings, sedition, and parliamentary reform, though by sonorous splendour and a superb plausibility fascinating to the political neophyte, is by no means free from froth, without much relation either to social facts or to popular principles. On catholic emancipation he followed Pitt, as he did in an enlarged view of commercial policy. At Liverpool he made his famous declaration that his political allegiance was buried in Pitt's grave. At one at least of these performances the youthful William Gladstone was present, but it was at home that he learned Canningite doctrine. At Seaforth House Canning spent the days between the death of Castlereagh and his own recall to power, while he was waiting for the date fixed for his voyage to take up the viceroyalty of India.

CANNING

As from whig John Gladstone turned Canningite, so from presbyterian also he turned churchman. He paid the penalty of men who change their party, and was watched with a critical eye by old friends; but he was a liberal giver for beneficent public purposes, and in 1811 he was honoured by the freedom of Liverpool. His ambition naturally pointed to parliament, and he was elected first for Lancaster in 1818, and next for Woodstock in 1820, two boroughs of extremely easy political virtue. Lancaster cost him twelve thousand pounds, towards which his friends in Liverpool contributed one-half. In 1826 he was chosen at Berwick, but was unseated the year after. His few performances in the House were not remarkable. He voted with ministers, and on the open question of catholic emancipation he went with Canning and Plunket. He was one of the majority who by six carried Plunket's catholic motion in 1821, and the matter figures in the earliest of the hundreds of surviving letters from his youngest son, then over eleven, and on the eve of his departure for Eton:—

Seaforth, Mar. 10, 1821.

I address these few lines to you to know how my dear mother is, to thank you for your kind letter, and to know whether Edward may get two padlocks for the wicket and large shore gate. They are now open, and the people make a thoroughfare of the green walk and the carriage road. I read Mr. Plunket's speech, and I admire it exceedingly. I enclose a letter from Mr. Rawson to you. He told me to-day that Mrs. R. was a great deal better. Write to me again as soon as you can.—Ever your most affectionate and dutiful son, W. E. GLADSTONE.

In after years he was fond of recalling how the Liverpool with which he had been most familiar (1810-20), though the second commercial town in the kingdom, did not exceed 100,000 of population, and how the silver cloud of smoke that floated above her resembled that which might now appear over any secondary borough or village of the country. 'I have seen wild roses growing upon the very ground that is now the centre of the borough of Bootle. All that land is now partly covered with residences and partly with places of business and industry; but in my time but one single house stood upon the space between Primrose brook and the town of Liverpool.' Among his early recollections was 'the extraordinarily beautiful spectacle of a dock delivery on the Mersey after a long prevalence of westerly winds followed by a change. Liverpool cannot imitate that now [1892], at least not for the eye.'

III

JOHN GLADSTONE AS SLAVEHOLDER

The Gladstone firm was mainly an East India house, but in the last ten years of his mercantile course John Gladstone became the owner of extensive plantations of sugar and coffee in the West Indies, some in Jamaica, others in British Guiana or Demerara. The infamy of the slave-trade had been abolished in 1807, but slave labour remained, and the Liverpool merchant, like a host of other men of equal respectability and higher dignity, including many peers and even some bishops, was a slaveholder. Everybody who has ever read one of the most honourable and glorious chapters in our English history knows the case of the missionary John Smith.[14] In 1823 an outbreak of the slaves occurred in Demerara, and one of John Gladstone's plantations happened to be its centre. The rising was stamped out with great cruelty in three days. Martial law, the savage instrument of race passion, was kept in force for over five months. Fifty negroes were hanged, many were shot down in the thickets, others were torn in pieces by the lash of the cart-whip. Smith was arrested, although he had in fact done his best to stop the rising. Tried before a court in which every rule of evidence was tyrannically set aside, he was convicted on hearsay and condemned to death. Before the atrocious sentence could be commuted by the home authorities, the fiery heat and noisome vapours of his prison killed him. The death of the Demerara missionary, it has been truly said, was an event as fatal to slavery in the West Indies, as the execution of John Brown was its deathblow in the United States.[15] Brougham in 1824 brought the case before the House of Commons, and in the various discussions upon it the Gladstone estates made rather a prominent figure. John Gladstone became involved in a heated and prolonged controversy as to the management of his plantations; as we shall see, it did not finally die down till 1841. He was an indomitable man. In a newspaper discussion through a long series of letters, he did not defend slavery in the abstract, but protested against the abuse levelled at the planters by all 'the intemperate, credulous, designing, or interested individuals who followed the lead of that well-meaning but mistaken man, Mr. Wilberforce.' He denounced the missionaries as hired emissaries, whose object seemed to be rather to revolutionise the colonies than to diffuse religion among the people.

In 1830 he published a pamphlet, in the form of a letter to Sir Robert Peel,[16] to explain that negroes were happier when forced to work; that, as their labour was essential to the welfare of the colonies, he considered the difficulties in the way of emancipation insurmountable; that it was not for him to seek to destroy a system that an over-ruling Providence had seen fit to permit in certain climates since the very formation of society; and finally with a Parthian bolt, he hinted that the public would do better to look to the condition of the lower classes at home than to the negroes in the colonies. The pamphlet made its mark, and was admitted by the abolitionists to be an attempt of unusual ingenuity to varnish the most heinous of national crimes. Three years later, when emancipation came, and the twenty million pounds of compensation were distributed, John Gladstone appears to have received, individually and apart from his partnerships, a little over seventy-five thousand pounds for 1609 slaves.[17]

It is as well, though in anticipation of the order of time, to complete our sketch. In view of the approach of full abolition, John Gladstone induced Lord Glenelg, the whig secretary of state, to issue an order in council (1837) permitting the West Indian planters to ship coolies from India on terms drawn up by the planters themselves. Objections were made with no effect by the governor at Demerara, a humane and vigorous man, who had done much work as military engineer under Wellington, and who, after abolishing the flogging of female slaves in the Bahamas, now set such an iron yoke upon the planters and their agents in Demerara, that he said 'he could sleep satisfied that no person in the colony could be punished without his knowledge and sanction.'[18] The importation of coolies raised old questions in new forms. The voyage from India was declared to reproduce the horrors of the middle passage of the vanished Guinea slavers; the condition of the coolie on the sugar plantations was drawn in a light only less lurid than the case of the African negro; and John Gladstone was again in hot water. Thomas Gladstone, his eldest son, defended him in parliament (Aug. 3, 1839), and commissioners sent to inquire into the condition of the various Gladstone plantations reported that the coolies on Vreedestein appeared contented and happy on the whole; no one had ever maltreated or beaten them except in one case; and those on Vreedenhoop appeared perfectly contented. The interpreter, who had abused them, had been fined, punished, and dismissed. Upon the motion of W. E. Gladstone, these reports were laid upon the table of the House in 1840.[19]

We shall have not unimportant glimpses, as our story unfolds itself, of all these transactions. Meanwhile, it is interesting to note that the statesman whose great ensign was to be human freedom, was thus born in a family where the palliation of slavery must have made a daily topic. The union, moreover, of fervid evangelical religion with antagonism to abolition must in those days have been rare, and in spite of his devoted faith in his father the youthful Gladstone may well have had uneasy moments. If so, he perhaps consoled himself with the authority of Canning. Canning, in 1823, had formally laid down the neutral principles common to the statesmen of the day: that amelioration of the lot of the negro slave was the utmost limit of action, and that his freedom as a result of amelioration was the object of a pious hope, and no more. Canning described the negro as a being with the form of a man and the intellect of a child. 'To turn him loose in the manhood of his physical strength, in the maturity of his physical passions, but in the infancy of his uninstructed reason, would be to raise up a creature resembling the splendid fiction of a recent romance,[20] the hero of which constructs a human form with all the corporal capabilities of a man, but being unable to impart to the work of his hands a perception of right and wrong, he finds too late that he has only created a more than mortal power of doing mischief.' 'I was bred,' said Mr. Gladstone when risen to meridian splendour, 'under the shadow of the great name of Canning; every influence connected with that name governed the politics of my childhood and of my youth; with Canning, I rejoiced in the removal of religious disabilities, and in the character which he gave to our policy abroad; with Canning, I rejoiced in the opening he made towards the establishment of free commercial interchanges between nations; with Canning, and under the shadow of the yet more venerable name of Burke, my youthful mind and imagination were impressed.'[21] On slavery and even the slave trade, Burke too had argued against total abolition. 'I confess,' he said, 'I trust infinitely more (according to the sound principles of those who ever have at any time meliorated the state of mankind) to the effect and influence of religion than to all the rest of the regulations put together.'[22]

FOOTNOTES:

[1] The freedom was formally bestowed on him in 1863.

[2] Sir William Fraser died in 1898.

[3] Researches into the ancestry of the Gladstone family have been made by Sir William Fraser, Professor John Veitch, and Mrs. Oliver of Thornwood. Besides his special investigation of the genealogy of the family, Sir W. Fraser devoted some pages in the Douglas Book to the Gledstanes of Gledstanes. The surname of Gledstanes occurs at a very early period in the records of Scotland. Families of that name acquired considerable landed estates in the counties of Lanark, Peebles, Roxburgh, and Dumfries. The old castle of Gledstanes, now in ruins, was the principal mansion of the family. The first of the name who has been found on record is Herbert de Gledstanes, who swore fealty to Edward I. in 1296 for lands in the county of Lanark. The Gledstanes long held the office of bailie under the Earls of Douglas, and the connection between the two families seems to have lasted until the fall of the Douglas family. The Gledstanes still continued to figure for many generations on the border. About the middle of the eighteenth century two branches of the family—the Gledstanes of Cocklaw and of Craigs—failed in the direct male line. Mr. Gladstone was descended from a third branch, the Gledstanes of Arthurshiel in Lanarkshire. The first of this line who has been traced is William Gledstanes, who in the year 1551 was laird of Arthurshiel. His lineal descendants continued as owners of that property till William Gledstanes disposed of it and went to live in the town of Biggar about the year 1679. This William Gledstanes was Mr. Gladstone's great-great-grandfather. The connection between these three branches and Herbert de Gledstanes of 1296 has not been ascertained, but he was probably the common ancestor of them all.

[4] John Gladstone built St. Thomas's Church, Seaforth, 1814-15; St. Andrew's, Liverpool, about 1816; the church at Leith; the Episcopal chapel at Fasque built and endowed about 1847.

[5] Charles Simeon (1759-1836), who played as conspicuous a part in low church thought as Newman afterwards in high.

[6] See below, pp. 106-7.

[7] XII 58—'Removed from death by four or maybe seven fingers' breadth.'

[8] The fragment is undated.

[9] One or two further genealogical nugae are among the papers. A correspondent wrote to Mr. Gladstone in 1887: Among the donors to the Craftsman's Hospital, Aberdeen, established in 1833, occurs the name of 'Georg Gladstaines, pewterer, 300 merks' (L16, 13s. 4d. sterling), 1698. George joined the Hammerman Craft in 1656, when he would have been about 25 years of age. His signature is still in existence appended to the burgess oath. Very few craftsmen could sign their names at that period—not one in twenty—so that George must have been fairly well educated. Mr. Gladstone replied that it was the first time that he had heard of the name so far north, and that the pewterer was probably one planted out. At Dundee (1890) he mentioned that others of his name and blood appeared on the burgess-roll as early as the fifteenth century. As for his maternal grandfather, the Inverness Courier (March 2, year not given) has the following:—'Provost Robertson of Dingwall was a descendant of the ancient family of the Robertsons of Inshes, of whose early settlement in the north the following particulars are known: The first was a member of the family of Struan, Perthshire, and was a merchant in Inverness in 1420. In the battle of Blair-na-leine, fought at the west end of Loch-Lochy in 1544, John Robertson, a descendant of the above, acted as standard-bearer to Lord Lovat. This battle was fought between the Frasers and Macdonalds of Clanranald, and derived its appellation from the circumstance of the combatants fighting only in their shirts. The contest was carried on with such bloody determination, foot to foot and claymore to claymore, that only four of the Frasers and ten of the Macdonalds returned to tell the tale. The former family was well nigh extirpated; tradition, however, states that sixteen widows of the Frasers who had been slain, shortly afterwards, as a providential succour, gave birth to sixteen sons! From the bloody onslaught at Loch-Lochy young Robertson returned home scaithless, and his brave and gallant conduct was the theme of praise with all. Some time thereafter he married the second daughter of Paterson of Wester and Easter Inshes, the eldest being married to Cuthbert of Macbeth's Castlehill, now known as the Crown lands, possessed by Mr. Fraser of Abertarff. On the death of Paterson, his father-in-law, Wester Inshes became the property of young Robertson, and Easter Inshes that of the Cuthberts, who, for the sake of distinction, changed the name to Castlehill. The Robertsons, in regular succession until the present time, possess the fine estate of Inshes; while that of Castlehill, which belonged to the powerful Cuthberts for so many generations, knows them no more. The family of Inshes, in all ages, stood high in respect throughout the highlands, and many of them had signalised themselves in upholding the rights of their country; and the worthy Provost Robertson of Dingwall had no less distinguished himself, who, with other important reforms, had cleared away the last burdensome relic of feudal times in that ancient burgh.'

[10] The other sons and daughters of this marriage were Thomas, d. 1889; Robertson, d. 1875; John Neilson, d. 1863; Anne, d. 1829; Helen Jane, d. 1880.

[11] At Dundee, Oct. 29, 1890.

[12] In 1835 formal difficulties arose in connection with the purchase of a government annuity, and then he seems to have taken out letters patent authorising the change in the name.

[13] Memoirs of J. R. Hope-Scott, ii. p. 290.

[14] The story of John Smith is excellently told in Walpole (iii. p. 178), and in Miss Martineau's Hist. of the Peace (bk. II. ch. iv.). But Mr. Robbins has worked it out with diligence and precision in special reference to John Gladstone: Early Life, pp. 36-47.

[15] Trevelyan's Macaulay, i. p. 111, where the reader will also find a fine passage from Macaulay's speech before the Anti-Slavery Society upon the matter—the first speech he ever made.

[16] 'A statement of facts connected with the present state of slavery in the British sugar and coffee colonies, and in the United States of America, together with a view of the present situation of the lower classes in the United Kingdom.'

[17] In Demerara the average price of slaves from 1822 to 1830 had been L114, 11s. 51/4d. The rate of compensation per slave averaged L51, 17s. 1/2d., but it is of interest to note that the slaves on the Vreedenhoop estate were valued at L53, 15s. 6d.

[18] Dict. Nat. Biog., Sir James Carmichael Smyth.

[19] He took Follett's opinion (Aug. 5, 1841) on the question of applying for a criminal information against the publisher of an article stating how many slaves had been worked to death on his father's plantations. The great advocate wisely recommended him to leave it alone.

[20] Frankenstein was published in 1818.

[21] House of Commons, April 27, 1866.

[22] Letter to Dundas, with a sketch of a Negro Code, 1792. But see Life of W. Wilberforce, v. p. 157.



CHAPTER II

ETON

(1821-1827)

It is in her public schools and universities that the youth of England are, by a discipline which shallow judgments have sometimes attempted to undervalue, prepared for the duties of public life. There are rare and splendid exceptions, to be sure, but in my conscience I believe, that England would not be what she is without her system of public education, and that no other country can become what England is, without the advantages of such a system.—CANNING.

It is difficult to discern the true dimensions of objects in that mirage which covers the studies of one's youth.—GLADSTONE.

In September 1821, the young Gladstone was sent to Eton. Life at Eton lasted over six years, until the Christmas of 1827. It impressed images that never faded, and left traces in heart and mind that the waves of time never effaced,—so profound is the early writing on our opening page. Canning's words at the head of our present chapter set forth a superstition that had a powerful hold on the English governing class of that day, and the new Etonian never shook it off. His attachment to Eton grew with the lapse of years; to him it was ever 'the queen of all schools.'

'I went,' he says, 'under the wing of my eldest brother, then in the upper division, and this helped my start and much mitigated the sense of isolation that attends the first launch at a public school.' The door of his dame's house looked down the Long Walk, while the windows looked into the very crowded churchyard: from this he never received the smallest inconvenience, though it was his custom (when master of the room) to sleep with his window open both summer and winter. The school, said the new scholar, has only about four hundred and ninety fellows in it, which was considered uncommonly small. He likes his tutor so much that he would not exchange him for any ten. He has various rows with Mrs. Shurey, his dame, and it is really a great shame the way they are fed. He and his brother have far the best room in the dame's house. His captain is very good-natured. Fighting is a favourite diversion, hardly a day passing without one, two, three, or even four more or less mortal combats.

MANNERS AT ETON

You will be glad to hear, he writes to his Highland aunt Johanna (November 13, 1821), of an instance of the highest and most honourable spirit in a highlander labouring under great disadvantages. His name is Macdonald (he once had a brother here remarkably clever, and a capital fighter). He is tough as iron, and about the strongest fellow in the school of his size. Being pushed out of his seat in school by a fellow of the name of Arthur, he airily asked him to give it him again, which being refused, with the additional insult that he might try what he could do to take it from him, Macdonald very properly took him at his word, and began to push him out of his seat. Arthur struck at him with all his might, and gave him so violent a blow that Macdonald was almost knocked backwards, but disdaining to take a blow from even a fellow much bigger than himself, he returned Arthur's blow with interest; they began to fight; after Macdonald had made him bleed at both his nose and his mouth, he finished the affair very triumphantly by knocking the arrogant Arthur backwards over the form without receiving a single blow of any consequence. He also labours under the additional disadvantage of being a new fellow, and of not knowing any one here. Arthur in a former battle put his finger out of joint, and as soon as it is recovered they are to have a regular battle in the playing fields.

Other encounters are described with equal zest, especially one where 'the honour of Liverpool was bravely sustained,' superior weight and size having such an advantage over toughness and strength, that the foe of Liverpool was too badly bruised and knocked about to appear in school. On another occasion, 'to the great joy' of the narrator, an oppidan vanquished a colleger, though the colleger fought so furiously that he put his fingers out of joint, and went back to the classic studies that soften manners, with a face broken and quite black. The Windsor and Slough coaches used to stop under the wall of the playing fields to watch these desperate affrays, and once at least in these times a boy was killed. With plenty of fighting went on plenty of flogging; for the headmaster was the redoubtable Dr. Keate, with whom the appointed instrument of moral regeneration in the childish soul was the birch rod; who on heroic occasions was known to have flogged over eighty boys on a single summer day; and whose one mellow regret in the evening of his life was that he had not flogged far more. Religious instruction, as we may suppose, was under these circumstances reduced to zero; there was no trace of the influence of the evangelical party, at that moment the most active of all the religious sections; and the ancient and pious munificence of Henry VI. now inspired a scene that was essentially little better than pagan, modified by an official church of England varnish. At Eton, Mr. Gladstone wrote of this period forty years after, 'the actual teaching of Christianity was all but dead, though happily none of its forms had been surrendered.'[23]

Science even in its rudiments fared as ill as its eternal rival, theology. There was a mathematical master, but nobody learned anything from him, or took any notice of him. In his anxiety for position the unfortunate man asked Keate if he might wear a cap and gown. 'That's as you please,' said Keate. 'Must the boys touch their hats to me?' 'That's as they please,' replied the genial doctor.[24] Gladstone first picked up a little mathematics, not at Eton, but during the holidays, going to Liverpool for the purpose, first in 1824 and more seriously in 1827. He seems to have paid much attention to French, and even then to have attained considerable proficiency. 'When I was at Eton,' Mr. Gladstone said, 'we knew very little indeed, but we knew it accurately.' 'There were many shades of distinction,' he observed, 'among the fellows who received what was supposed to be, and was in many respects, their education. Some of those shades of distinction were extremely questionable, and the comparative measures of honour allotted to talent, industry, and idleness were undoubtedly such as philosophy would not justify. But no boy was ever estimated either more or less because he had much money to spend. It added nothing to him if he had much, it took nothing from him if he had little.' A sharp fellow who worked, and a stupid fellow who was idle, were both of them in good odour enough, but a stupid boy who presumed to work was held to be an insufferable solecism.[25]

KNOWLEDGE AT ETON

My tutor was the Rev. H. H. Knapp (practically all tutors were clergymen in those days). He was a reputed whig, an easy and kind-tempered man with a sense of scholarship, but no power of discipline, and no energy of desire to impress himself upon his pupils. I recollect but one piece of advice received later from him. It was that I should form my poetical taste upon Darwin, whose poems (the 'Botanic Garden' and 'Loves of the Plants') I obediently read through in consequence. I was placed in the middle remove fourth form, a place slightly better than the common run, but inferior to what a boy of good preparation or real excellence would have taken. My nearest friend of the first period was W. W. Parr, a boy of intelligence, something over my age, next above me in the school.

At this time there was not in me any desire to know or to excel. My first pursuits were football and then cricket; the first I did not long pursue, and in the second I never managed to rise above mediocrity and what was termed 'the twenty-two.' There was a barrister named Henry Hall Joy, a connection of my father through his first wife, and a man who had taken a first-class at Oxford. He was very kind to me, and had made some efforts to inspire me with a love of books, if not of knowledge. Indeed I had read Froissart, and Hume with Smollett, but only for the battles, and always skipping when I came to the sections headed 'A Parliament.' Joy had a taste for classics, and made visions for me of honours at Oxford. But the subject only danced before my eyes as a will-of-the-wisp, and without attracting me. I remained stagnant without heart or hope. A change however arrived about Easter 1822. My 'remove' was then under Hawtrey (afterwards head-master and provost), who was always on the lookout for any bud which he could warm with a little sunshine.

He always described Hawtrey as the life of the school, the man to whom Eton owed more than to any of her sons during the century. Though not his pupil, it was from him that Gladstone, when in the fourth form, received for the first time incentives to exertion. 'It was entirely due to Hawtrey,' he records in a fragment, 'that I first owed the reception of a spark, the divinae particulam aurae, and conceived a dim idea, that in some time, manner, and degree, I might come to know. Even then, as I had really no instructor, my efforts at Eton, down to 1827, were perhaps of the purest plodding ever known.'

Evidently he was not a boy of special mark during the first three years at Eaton. In the evening he played chess and cards, and usually lost. He claimed in after life that he had once taken a drive in a hired tandem, but Etonians who knew him as a schoolboy decided that an aspiring memory here made him boast of crimes that were not his. He was assiduous in the Eton practice of working a small boat, whether skiff, funny, or wherry, single-handed. In the masquerade of Montem he figured complacently in all the glories of the costume of a Greek patriot, for he was a faithful Canningite; the heroic struggle against the Turk was at its fiercest, and it was the year when Byron died at Missolonghi. Of Montem as an institution he thought extremely ill, 'the whole thing a wretched waste of time and money, a most ingenious contrivance to exhibit us as baboons, a bore in the full sense of the word.' He did not stand aside from the harmless gaieties of boyish life, but he rigidly refused any part in boyish indecorums. He was, in short, just the diligent, cheerful, healthy-minded schoolboy that any good father would have his son to be. He enjoys himself with his brother at the Christopher, and is glad to record that 'Keate did not make any jaw about being so late.' Half a dozen of them met every whole holiday or half, and went up Salt Hill to bully the fat waiter, eat toasted cheese, and drink egg-wine.

SCHOOL DAYS

He started, as we have already seen, in middle fourth form. In the spring of 1822 Hawtrey said to him: 'Continue to do as well as this, and I will send you up for good again before the fourth of June.' Before the end of June, he tells his sailor brother of his success: 'It far exceeds the most sanguine expectations I ever entertained. I have got into the remove between the fourth and fifth forms. I have been sent up for good a second time, and have taken seven places.' In the summer of 1823 he announces that he has got into the fifth form after taking sixteen places, and here instead of fagging he acquires the blessed power himself to fag. In passing he launches, for the first recorded time, against the master of the remove from which he has just been promoted, an invective that in volume and intensity anticipates the wrath of later attacks on Neapolitan kings and Turkish sultans.

His letters written from Eton breathe in every line the warm breath of family affection, and of all those natural pieties that had so firm a root in him from the beginning to the end. Of the later store of genius and force that the touch of time was so soon to kindle into full glow, they gave but little indication. We smile at the precocious copia fandi that at thirteen describes the language of an admonishing acquaintance as 'so friendly, manly, sound, and disinterested that notwithstanding his faults I must always think well of him.' He sends contributions to his brother's scrap-book, and one of the first of them, oddly enough, in view of one of the great preoccupations of his later life, is a copy of Lord Edward Fitzgerald's stanzas on the night of his arrest:—

'O Ireland, my country, the hour Of thy pride and thy splendour has passed. And the chain which was spurned in thy moment of power, Hangs heavy around thee at last.'

The temper and dialect of evangelical religion are always there. A friend of the family dies, and the boy pours out his regret, but after all what is the merely natural death of Dr. N. compared with the awful state of a certain clergyman, also an intimate friend, who has not only been guilty of attending a fancy ball, but has followed that vicious prelude by even worse enormities, unnamed, that surely cannot escape the vigilance and the reproof of his bishop?

His father is the steady centre of his life. 'My father,' he writes to his brother, 'is as active in mind and projects as ever; he has two principal plans now in embryo. One of these is a railroad between Liverpool and Manchester for the conveyance of goods by locomotive-steam-engine. The other is for building a bridge over the Mersey at Runcorn.' In May 1827, the Gloucester and Berkeley canal is opened: 'a great and enterprising undertaking, but still there is no fear of it beating Liverpool.' Meanwhile, 'what prodigiously quick travelling to leave Eton at twelve on Monday, and reach home at eight on Tuesday!' 'I have,' he says in 1826, 'lately been writing several letters in the Liverpool Courier.' His father had been attacked in the local prints for sundry economic inconsistencies, and the controversial pen that was to know no rest for more than seventy years to come, was now first employed, like the pious AEneas bearing off Anchises, in the filial duty of repelling his sire's assailants. Ignorant of his nameless champion, John Gladstone was much amused and interested by the anonymous 'Friend to Fair Dealing,' while the son was equally diverted by the criticisms and conjectures of the parent.

YOUTHFUL READING

With the formidable Keate the boy seems to have fared remarkably well, and there are stories that he was even one of the tyrant's favourites.[26] His school work was diligently supplemented. His daily reading in 1826 covers a good deal of miscellaneous ground, including Moliere and Racine, Blair's Sermons ('not very substantial'), Tom Jones, Tomline's Life of Pitt, Waterland's Commentaries, Leslie on Deism, Locke's Defence of The Reasonableness of Christianity, which he finds excellent; Paradise Lost, Milton's Latin Poems and Epitaphium Damonis ('exquisite'), Massinger's Fatal Dowry ('most excellent'), Ben Jonson's Alchemist; Scott, including the Bride of Lammermoor ('a beautiful tale, indeed,' and in after life his favourite of them all), Burke, Clarendon, and others of the shining host whose very names are music to a scholar's ear. In the same year he reads 'a most violent article on Milton by Macaulay, fair and unfair, clever and silly, allegorical and bombastic, republican and anti-episcopal—a strange composition, indeed.' In 1827 he went steadily through the second half of Gibbon, whom he pronounces, 'elegant and acute as he is, not so clear, so able, so attractive as Hume; does not impress my mind so much.' In the same year he reads Coxe's Walpole, Don Quixote, Hallam's Constitutional History, Measure for Measure and Much Ado, Massinger's Grand Duke of Florence, Ford's Love's Melancholy ('much of it good, the end remarkably beautiful') and Broken Heart (which he liked better than either the other or 'Tis Pity), Locke on Toleration ('much repetition').

There is, of course, a steady refrain of Greek iambics, Greek anapaests, 'an easy and nice metre,' 'a hodge-podge lot of hendecasyllables,' and thirty alcaic stanzas for a holiday task. Mention is made of many sermons on 'Redeeming the time,' 'Weighed in the balance and found wanting,' 'Cease to do evil, learn to do well,' and the other ever unexhausted texts. One constant entry, we may be sure, is 'Read Bible,' with Mant's notes. In a mood of deep piety he is prepared for confirmation. His appearance at this time was recalled by one who had been his fag, 'as a good-looking, rather delicate youth, with a pale face and brown curling hair, always tidy and well dressed.'[27]

He became captain of the fifth at the end of October 1826, and on February 20, 1827, Keate put him into the sixth. 'Was very civil, indeed; told me to take pains, etc.: to be careful in using my authority, etc.' He finds the sixth very preferable to all other parts of the school, both as regards pleasure and opportunity for improvement. They are more directly under the eye of Keate; he treats them with more civility and speaks to them differently. So the days follow one another very much alike—studious, cheerful, sociable, sedulous. The debates in parliament take up a good deal of his time, and he is overwhelmed by the horrible news of the defeat of the catholics in the House of Commons (March 8,1827). On a summer's day in 1826, 'Mr. Canning here; inquired after me and missed me.' He was not at Eton but at home when he heard of Mr. Canning's death. 'Personally I must remember his kindness and condescension, especially when he spoke to me of some verses which H. Joy had injudiciously mentioned to him.'

II

DEBATING SOCIETY

Youthful intellect is imitative, and in a great school so impregnated as Eton with the spirit of public life and political association, the few boys with active minds mimicked the strife of parliament in their debating society, and copied the arts of journalism in the Eton Miscellany. In both fields the young Gladstone took a leading part. The debating society was afflicted with 'the premonitory lethargy of death,' but the assiduous energy of Gaskell, seconded by the gifts of Gladstone, Hallam, and Doyle, soon sent a new pulse beating through it. The politics of the hour, that is to say everything not fifty years off, were forbidden ground; but the execution of Strafford or of his royal master, the deposition of Richard II., the last four years of the reign of Queen Anne, the Peerage bill of 1719, the characters of Harley and Bolingbroke, were themes that could be made by ingenious youth to admit a hundred cunning sidelights upon the catholic question, the struggle of the Greeks for independence, the hard case of Queen Caroline, and the unlawfulness of swamping the tories in the House of Lords. On duller afternoons they argued on the relative claims of mathematics and metaphysics to be the better discipline of the human mind; whether duelling is or is not inconsistent with the character that we ought to seek; or whether the education of the poor is on the whole beneficial. It was on this last question (October 29, 1825) that the orator who made his last speech seventy years later, now made his first. 'Made my first or maiden speech at the society,' he enters in his diary, 'on education of the poor; funked less than I thought I should, by much.' It is a curious but a characteristic circumstance not that so many of his Eton speeches were written out, but that the manuscript should have been thriftily preserved by him all through the long space of intervening years. 'Mr. President,' it begins, 'in this land of liberty, in this age of increased and gradually increasing civilization, we shall hope to find few, if indeed any, among the higher classes who are eager or willing to obstruct the moral instruction and mental improvement of their fellow creatures in the humbler walks of life. If such there are, let them at length remember that the poor are endowed with the same reason, though not blessed with the same temporal advantages. Let them but admit, what I think no one can deny, that they are placed in an elevated situation principally for the purpose of doing good to their fellow creatures. Then by what argument can they repel, by what pretence can they evade the duty?' And so forth and so forth. Already we seem to hear the born speaker in the amplitude of rhetorical form in which, juvenile though it may be, a commonplace is cast. 'Is human grandeur so stable that they may deny to others that which they would in an humble situation desire themselves? Or has human pride reached such a pitch of arrogance that they have learned to defy both right and reason, to reject the laws of natural kindness that ought to reign in the breast of all, and to look on their fellow countrymen as the refuse of mankind?... Is it morally just or politically expedient to keep down the industry and genius of the artisan, to blast his rising hopes, to quell his spirit? A thirst for knowledge has arisen in the minds of the poor; let them satisfy it with wholesome nutriment and beware lest driven to despair,' et cetera. Crude enough, if we please; but the year was 1826, and we may feel that the boyish speaker is already on the generous side and has the gift of fruitful sympathies.

In the spacious tournaments of old history, we may smile to hear debating forms and ceremony applied to everlasting controversies. 'Sir,' he opens on one occasion, 'I declare that as far as regards myself, I shall have very little difficulty in stating my grounds on which I give my vote for James Graham [the Marquis of Montrose]. It is because I look upon him as a hero, not merely endowed with that animal ferocity which has often been the sole qualification which has obtained men that appellation from the multitude—I should be sorry indeed if he had no testimonials of his merits, save such as arise from the mad and thoughtless exclamations of popular applause.' In the same gallant style (Jan. 26, 1826) he votes for Marcus Aurelius, in answer to the question whether Trajan has any equal among the Roman emperors from Augustus onwards. Another time the question was between John Hampden and Clarendon. 'Sir, I look back with pleasure to the time when we unanimously declared our disapprobation of the impeachment of the Earl of Strafford. I wish I could hope for the same unanimity now, but I will endeavour to regulate myself by the same principles as directed me then.... Now, sir, with regard to the impeachment of the five members, it is really a little extraordinary to hear the honourable opener talking of the violence offered by the king, and the terror of the parliament. Sir, do we not all know that the king at that time had neither friends nor wealth?... Did the return of these members with a triumphant mob accompanying them indicate terror? Did the demands of the parliament or the insolence of their language show it?' So he proceeds through all the well-worn arguments; and 'therefore it is,' he concludes, 'that I give my vote to the Earl of Clarendon, because he gave his support to the falling cause of monarchy; because he stood by his church and his king; because he adopted the part which loyalty, reason, and moderation combined to dictate.... Poverty, banishment, and disgrace he endured without a murmur; he still adhered to the cause of justice, he still denounced the advocates of rebellion, and if he failed in his reward in life, oh, sir, let us not deny it to him after death. In him, sir, I admire the sound philosopher, the rigid moralist, the upright statesman, the candid historian.... In Hampden I see the splendour of patriotic bravery obscured by the darkness of rebellion, and the faculties by which he might have been a real hero and real martyr, prostituted in the cause,' and so on, with all the promise of the os magna soniturum, of which time was to prove the resources so inexhaustible. On one great man he passed a final judgment that years did not change:—'Debate on Sir R. Walpole: Hallam, Gaskell, Pickering, and Doyle spoke. Voted for him. Last time, when I was almost entirely ignorant of the subject, against him. There were sundry considerable blots, but nothing to overbalance or to spoil the great merit of being the bulwark of the protestant succession, his commercial measures, and in general his pacific policy.'[28]

ETON MISCELLANY

As for the Eton Miscellany, which was meant to follow earlier attempts in the same line, the best-natured critic cannot honestly count it dazzling. Such things rarely are; for youth, though the most adorable of our human stages, cannot yet have knowledge or practice enough, whether in life or books, to make either good prose or stirring verse, unless by a miracle of genius, and even that inspiration is but occasional. The Microcosm (1786-87) and the Etonian (1818), with such hands as Canning and Frere, Moultrie and Praed, were well enough. The newcomer was a long way behind these in the freshness, brilliance, daring, by which only such juvenile performances can either please or interest. George Selwyn and Gladstone were joint editors, and each provided pretty copious effusions. 'I cannot keep my temper,' he wrote afterwards in his diary in 1835, on turning over the Miscellany, 'in perusing my own (with few exceptions) execrable productions.' Certainly his contributions have no particular promise or savour, no hint of the strong pinions into which the half-fledged wings were in time to expand. Their motion, such as it is, must be pronounced mechanical; their phrase and cadence conventional. Even when sincere feelings were deeply stirred, the flight cannot be called high. The most moving public event in his schooldays was undoubtedly the death of Canning, and to Gladstone the stroke was almost personal. In September 1827 he tells his mother that he has for the first time visited Westminster Abbey,—his object, an eager pilgrimage to the newly tenanted grave of his hero, and in the Miscellany he pays a double tribute. In the prose we hear sonorous things about meridian splendour, premature extinction, and inscrutable wisdom; about falling, like his great master Pitt, a victim to his proud and exalted station; about being firm in principle and conciliatory in action, the friend of improvement and the enemy of innovation. Nor are the versified reflections in Westminster Abbey much more striking:—

Oft in the sculptured aisle and swelling dome, The yawning grave hath given the proud a home; Yet never welcomed from his bright career A mightier victim than it welcomed here: Again the tomb may yawn—again may death Claim the last forfeit of departing breath; Yet ne'er enshrine in slumber dark and deep A nobler, loftier prey than where thine ashes sleep.

Excellent in feeling, to be sure; but as a trial of poetic delicacy or power, wanting the true note, and only worth recalling for an instant as we go.

III

FRIENDS

As nearly always happens, it was less by school work or spoken addresses in juvenile debate, or early attempts in the great and difficult art of written composition, than by blithe and congenial comradeship that the mind of the young Gladstone was stimulated, opened, strengthened. In after days he commemorated among his friends George Selwyn, afterwards bishop of New Zealand and of Lichfield, 'a man whose character is summed up, from alpha to omega, in the single word, noble, and whose high office, in a large measure, it was to reintroduce among the anglican clergy the pure heroic type.' Another was Francis Doyle, 'whose genial character supplied a most pleasant introduction for his unquestionable poetic genius.' A third was James Milnes Gaskell, a youth endowed with precocious ripeness of political faculty, an enthusiast, and with a vivacious humour that enthusiasts often miss. Doyle said of him that his nurse must have lulled him to sleep by parliamentary reports, and his first cries on awaking in his cradle must have been 'hear, hear'! Proximity of rooms 'gave occasion or aid to the formation of another very valuable friendship, that with Gerald Wellesley, afterwards dean of Windsor, which lasted, to my great profit, for some sixty years, until that light was put out.' In Gaskell's room four or five of them would meet, and discuss without restraint the questions of politics that were too modern to be tolerated in public debate. Most of them were friendly to catholic emancipation, and to the steps by which Huskisson, supported by Canning, was cautiously treading in the path towards free trade. The brightest star in this cheerful constellation was the rare youth who, though his shining course was run in two-and-twenty years, yet in that scanty span was able to impress with his vigorous understanding and graceful imagination more than one of the loftiest minds of his time.[29] Arthur Hallam was a couple of years younger than Gladstone, no narrow gulf at that age; but such was the sympathy of genius, such the affinities of intellectual interest and aspiration spoken and unspoken, such the charm and the power of the younger with the elder, that rapid instinct made them close comrades. They clubbed together their rolls and butter, and breakfasted in one another's rooms. Hallam was not strong enough for boating, so the more sinewy Gladstone used to scull him up to the Shallows, and he regarded this toilsome carrying of an idle passenger up stream as proof positive of no common value set upon his passenger's company. They took walks together, often to the monument of Gray, close by the churchyard of the elegy; arguing about the articles and the creeds; about Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley; about free will, for Hallam was precociously full of Jonathan Edwards; about politics, old and new, living and dead; about Pitt and Fox, and Canning and Peel, for Gladstone was a tory and Hallam pure whig. Hallam was described by Mr. Gladstone in his old age as one who 'enjoyed work, enjoyed society; and games which he did not enjoy he left contentedly aside. His temper was as sweet as his manners were winning. His conduct was without a spot or even a speck. He was that rare and blessed creature, anima naturaliter Christiana. He read largely, and though not superficial, yet with an extraordinary speed. He had no high or exclusive ways.' Thus, as so many have known in that happy dawn of life, before any of the imps of disorder and confusion have found their way into the garden, it was the most careless hours,—careless of all save truth and beauty,—that were the hours best filled.

ARTHUR HALLAM

Youth will commonly do anything rather than write letters, but the friendship of this pair stood even that test. The pages are redolent of a living taste for good books and serious thoughts, and amply redeemed from strain or affectation by touches of gay irony and the collegian's banter. Hallam applies to Gladstone Diomede's lines about Odysseus, of eager heart and spirit so manful in all manner of toils, as the only comrade whom a man would choose.[30] But the Greek hero was no doubt a complex character, and the parallel is taken by Gladstone as an equivocal compliment. So Hallam begs him at any rate to accept the other description, how when he uttered his mighty voice from his chest, and words fell like flakes of snow in winter, then could no mortal man contend with Odysseus.[31] As happy a forecast for the great orator of their generation, as when in 1829 he told Gladstone that Tennyson promised fair to be its greatest poet. Hallam's share in the correspondence reminds us of the friendship of two other Etonians ninety years before, of the letters and verses that Gray wrote to Richard West; there is the same literary sensibility, the same kindness, but there is what Gray and West felt not, the breath of a busy and changing age. Each of these two had the advantage of coming from a home where politics were not mere gossip about persons and paragraphs, but were matters of trained and continued interest. The son of one of the most eminent of the brilliant band of the whig writers of that day, Hallam passes glowing eulogies on the patriotism and wisdom of the whigs in coalescing with Canning against the bigotry of the king and the blunders of Wellington and Peel; he contrasts this famous crisis with a similar crisis in the early part of the reign of George III.; and observes how much higher all parties stood in the balance of disinterestedness and public virtue. He goes to the opera and finds Zucchelli admirable, Coradori divine. He wonders (1826) about Sir Walter's forthcoming life of Napoleon, how with his ultra principles Scott will manage to make a hero of the Corsican. He asks if Gladstone has read 'the new Vivian Grey' (1827)—the second part of that amazing fiction into which an author, not much older than themselves and destined to strange historic relations with one of them, had the year before burst upon the world. Hallam is not without the graceful melancholy of youth, so different from that other melancholy of ripe years and the deepening twilight. Under all is the recurrent note of a grave refrain that fatal issues made pathetic.

'Never since the time when I first knew you,' Hallam wrote to Gladstone (June 23, 1830), 'have I ceased to love and respect your character ... It will be my proudest thought that I may henceforth act worthily of their affection who, like yourself, have influenced my mind for good in the earliest season of its development. Circumstance, my dear Gladstone, has indeed separated our paths, but it can never do away with what has been. The stamp of each of our minds is on the other. Many a habit of thought in each is modified, many a feeling is associated, which never would have existed in that combination, had it not been for the old familiar days when we lived together.'

In the summer of 1827 Hallam quitted Eton for the journey to Italy that set so important a mark on his literary growth, and he bade his friend farewell in words of characteristic affection. 'Perhaps you will pardon my doing by writing what I hardly dare trust myself to do by words. I received your superb Burke yesterday; and hope to find it a memorial of past and a pledge for future friendship through both our lives. It is perhaps rather bold in me to ask a favour immediately on acknowledging so great a one; but you would please me, and oblige me greatly, if you will accept this copy of my father's book. It may serve when I am separated from you, to remind you of one, whose warmest pleasure it will always be to subscribe himself, Your most faithful friend, A. H. H.'

A few entries from the schoolboy's diary may serve to bring the daily scene before us, and show what his life was like:—

October 3, 1826.—Holiday. Walk with Hallam. Wrote over theme. Read Clarendon. Wrote speech for Saturday week. Poor enough. Did punishment set by Keate to all the fifth form for being late in church.

October 6.—Fin. second Olympiad of Pindar.... Clarendon. Did an abstract of about 100 pages. Wrote speech for to-morrow in favour of Caesar.

November 13.—Play. Breakfast with Hallam. Read a little Clarendon. Read over tenth Satire of Juvenal and read the fifth, making quotations to it and some other places. Did a few verses.

November 14.—Holiday. Wrote over theme. Did verses. Walked with Hallam and Doyle. Read papers and debates.... Read 200 lines of Trachiniae. A little Gil Blas in French, and a little Clarendon.

November 18.—Play. Read papers, etc. Finished Blair's Dissertation on Ossian. Finished Trachiniae. Did 3 props. of Euclid. Question: Was deposition of Richard II. justifiable? Voted no. Good debate. Finished the delightful oration Pro Milone.

November 21.—Holiday.... Part of article in Edinburgh Review on Icon Basilike. Read Herodotus, Clarendon. Did 3 props. Scrambling and leaping expedition with Hallam, Doyle, and Gaskell.

November 30.—Holiday. Read Herodotus. Breakfasted with Gaskell. He and Hallam drank wine with me after 4. Walked with Hallam. Did verses. Finished first book of Euclid. Read a little Charles XII.

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