Men I Have Painted/Henry E. Gladstone
WHEN writing of Mr. Gladstone I referred to the two preoccupations of his life, the State and his family. It would be difficult to say which held the first place in his mind; and he may never have asked that question of himself. In the light of present-day advanced (?) thought it would not be impossible to give to the family again its rightful place. The State is not an entity, as some theorists would make us believe, but an abstraction only. It is to society what currency is to trade, a convenience and nothing more. It may be very truly said that a perfect statesman gives his head to the State, and his heart to his family. By so doing he will gather the double reward of gratitude from the people whom he served with his head, and the affection of the family to whom he gave his heart.
When his powers were nearly spent, and his dominant self-reliance almost gone, Mr. Gladstone found in his third son, Henry, a pillar of strength upon whom he could lean with that complete abandonment of self that bespeaks perfect confidence as well as affection. How many times in the year the voice of one of the family rang out from the little church at Hawarden the command and promise, "Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee"! If ever a command were obeyed and a promise fulfilled it was here, where the conviction was inborn that obedience from a people to this commandment assured the stability of the State, and gave the true key-note to society.
As the promise was not fulfilled in the case of the heir to Hawarden, William Glynne Charles Gladstone, who gave "youth's brief fiery blow for Freedom," and fell on the battle-fields of France, the castle and estate devolved upon his uncle, Mr. Henry E. Gladstone, the Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire.
In this official capacity I painted him. With all the grace, charm, and good-humour imaginable, he gave me sittings at The Hermitage in order that I might in the easiest and pleasantest manner accomplish the work. The sittings were enlivened by the relation of amusing incidents that had occurred in the home and field, for the Lord-Lieutenant is like his brother, Lord Gladstone, an ardent sportsman.