Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/309

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Gladstone
Gladstone
297

sible precedent, resigned without meeting the new parliament. On 4 Dec. Gladstone was summoned to Windsor and bidden to form his first ministry. He had been defeated in south-west Lancashire by Mr. (afterwards Viscount) Cross, but elected at the same time for Greenwich. By 9 Dec. his government was complete. Robert Lowe (afterwards Viscount Sherbrooke) [q. v.] became chancellor of the exchequer despite his opposition to the reform bill. John Bright [q. v. Suppl.] entered a cabinet and a government for the first time as president of the board of trade. Lord Russell refused a seat in the cabinet without office, and Sir George Grey [q. v.] declined to join the new administration. Sir Roundell Palmer (afterwards Earl of Selborne) refused the woolsack because he objected to the disendowment, though not to the disestablishment, of the church in Ireland. The new chancellor was Sir William Page Wood (now created Lord Hatherley) [q.v.] The government was, on the whole, a strong one, and Gladstone was especially fortunate in securing for the war office the services of Edward (afterwards Lord) Cardwell [q. v.], who was, with the exception of Sir James Graham and himself, the ablest of all the administrators trained under Sir Robert Peel.

The chief business of the session of 1869—the disestablishment of the Irish church—was emphatically Gladstone's work. Parliament met on 16 Feb., and on 1 March he introduced the Irish church bill in a speech which, by the admission of Disraeli, did not contain a superfluous word. The bill provided for the immediate disendowment of the church, and for its disestablishment as from 1 Jan. 1871. The church was hereafter to govern itself, and the governing body was to be incorporated. There was to be full compensation for vested interests, but the Irish bishops were to lose at once the few seats which they held by rotation in the House of Lords. The church was to retain all private endowments bestowed since 1660. The Maynooth grant to catholics and the regium donum to presbyterians were to be commuted. The tenants of church lands were to have the right of preemption. This clause, due to Bright and known by his name, was the origin of the many Land Purchase Acts which have since been passed for Ireland, The funds of the church were not to be used for any ecclesiastical purpose, but for the relief of unavoidable calamity and suffering. This was the only part of the bill which underwent serious alteration in parliament. The second reading of the bill was fixed for 18 March, when Disraeli moved its rejection. It was carried by a majority of 118, and passed easily through committee. On 31 May the bill was read a third time, by a majority of 114, and sent to the House of Lords. The conservative majority of that house were divided in opinion. After a long and eloquent debate the second reading was carried by thirty-three votes. Great changes were, however, made in committee; with almost all of these the House of Commons, by large majorities, refused to agree. For some time there was serious danger that the bill would be lost. But Lord Cairns, having done his best to defeat the bill and having failed, set himself with great ability to obtain the most favourable terms he could get from a government too strong to be resisted. The queen intervened as a peacemaker through Archbishop Tait. The result was that the bill passed substantially as it left the commons, with one most important exception. By an amendment, which Lord Cairns moved, and which the government ultimately accepted, the funds of the church were applied, not to the exclusive relief of suffering, but mainly to such purposes and in such manner as parliament might direct. As a matter of fact, they have scarcely ever been employed in the relief of suffering at all; but they have played a most valuable part in the development of Irish agriculture and industry. Thus altered, the bill received the royal assent on 26 July.

In the autumn of this year Gladstone excited the bitter resentment of orthodox churchmen, with whom he was himself in complete doctrinal agreement, by appointing Dr. Temple, head-master of Rugby, who was reputed to have freethinking tendencies, bishop of Exeter. The protests were exceedingly violent, and some members of the chapter braved the penalties of præmunire by voting against the nominee of the crown. But Gladstone's best justification is that neither in 1885, when he himself nominated Dr. Temple to the bishopric of London, nor in 1896, when Lord Salisbury nominated him to the archbishopric of Canterbury, was the faintest objection raised from any quarter. Although Gladstone afterwards made Dr. James Fraser [q. v.] bishop of Manchester, and Dr. Bradley dean of Westminster, he gave the high church party at least their share of the dignities and emoluments of the church. In 1869 appeared 'Juventus Mundi,' prematurely called by Lowe 'Senectus Gladstoni,' which partly summarised and partly developed Gladstone's larger treatise on Homer, published eleven years before.