1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Morley of Blackburn, John Morley, Viscount
MORLEY (of Blackburn), JOHN MORLEY, Viscount (1838-), English statesman and author (see 18.840), continued to hold the seals of the India Office till Nov. 1910, when he resigned them, as he himself revealed subsequently, “partly because I was tired, partly from a feeling that a new viceroy would have fairer openings with a new secretary of state; partly, too, that I might have a farewell chance of literary self-collection.” One of his last important official acts had been to resist the appointment of Lord Kitchener to the viceroyalty, pressed strongly upon him by King Edward just before his death. He remained in the Ministry as Lord President, and was one of the four counsellors of state to administer the kingdom during King George's visit to India for the Delhi Durbar in the winter of 1911-2. In the critical period of domestic politics which began with the budget of 1909 he played a somewhat prominent part. He defended Mr. Lloyd George's budget in the great debate of Nov. 1909, and, while admitting that the Lords had the legal right of rejection, said that to assert it was “a gambler's throw.” He poured cold water on proposals like Lord Rosebery's for House of Lords reform, and like Lord Lansdowne's for a referendum; and gave warm support to the Parliament bill, which would repair the national machinery. Owing to the temporary failure of Lord Crewe's health, Lord Morley led the House of Lords during most of the Session of 1911, in which that bill was passed; and it was he who read out to the House on the last night of debate the definite assurance from King George which finally secured the exiguous but adequate majority of 17: “His Majesty would assent to a creation of peers sufficient in number to guard against any possible combination of the different parties in opposition by which the Parliament bill might be exposed a second time to defeat.” He not only took charge of the India Office during Lord Crewe's illness, and of the Foreign Office in Sir Edward Grey's short holidays, but he was an outstanding figure in the Home Rule debates of 1913 and 1914. In moving the second reading of the Amending bill on July 1 1914, he said that the National Volunteers had dispelled the illusion that the masses of the South and West of Ireland had lost their care for Home Rule; the danger was lest the constitutional agitation for self-government might give place to older methods of violence and disloyalty.
The outbreak of, the World War brought Lord Morley's official career to an abrupt termination. He made no public explanation of his reasons for resigning, but withdrew to the retirement of his Wimbledon villa, where he occupied himself with writing two most interesting volumes of Recollections, which were warmly welcomed on their publication in 1917. In the introduction he said: “The war and our action in it led to my retirement from public office. The world is travelling under formidable omens into a new era, very unlike the times in which my lot was cast. . . . The world's black catastrophe in your new age is hardly a proved and shining victory over the principles and policies of the age before it.” In 1921 his publishers brought out a complete edition of his works in a handsome format.
- (G. E. B.)