Dalkeith, on the 26th, he expressed his belief in the principle of local option, and in a general extension of local government, so far as was compatible with the supremacy of parliament. Scottish disestablishment, he said, was a question for the people of Scotland themselves; he had no wish either to advance or to retard it. At West Calder, on the 27th, he returned to the subject of foreign politics, maintaining that the government had at the same time aggrandised and alienated Russia. His reception in Scotland was extraordinarily enthusiastic, and on one occasion he addressed as many as twenty thousand people in the Waverley market at Edinburgh. His campaign ended for the year at Glasgow, where, in an elaborate oration, he surveyed the whole foreign policy of the government. Laying particular stress upon the fundamental principle that large and small states should be treated with equal justice and forbearance, he protested strongly against the aggressive imperialism of the prime minister. At Glasgow he also delivered his address as lord rector of the university, and turning aside from politics, he impressed upon the students the superiority of knowledge to wealth as an object of human endeavour.
On 8 March 1880 it was announced in both houses that parliament would be dissolved immediately after the budget. On the 12th appeared Gladstone's address to the electors of Midlothian, in which he cast ridicule upon the prime minister's gloomy prophecies of impending danger in Ireland. On the 16th he left London for Edinburgh, addressing a crowd that had assembled at King's Cross, and speaking at every station where the train stopped. It was afterwards found that in each of these places there had been a liberal victory. On the 17th he delivered one of his finest speeches in the Edinburgh music hall. This speech contains Gladstone's clearest and fullest exposition of foreign policy in its general principles. He denied that if he and his party came into power they would repudiate the engagements of their predecessors, inasmuch as an international treaty bound future governments as much as the government which made it. He separated himself and the liberal party in general from the doctrines of the Manchester school and of peace at any price. He declared it to be a 'noble error' that the world could at present be governed without the risk of war. One allusion in this speech gave rise to rather serious consequences. Quoting from the 'Standard' the report of a conversation between the emperor of Austria and Sir Henry Elliot, the British ambassador at Vienna, in which the emperor was made to denounce him by name as an enemy of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, Gladstone denied that he was the enemy of any country. But he censured in strong language Austria's hostility to the freedom of her neighbours, and defied any one to put his finger upon any part of the map of Europe and say, 'There Austria did good.' On the 23rd, speaking at Pathhead, he recurred to the subject of Austria, expressed a fear that she might intend to enlarge her borders at the expense of the Balkan principalities, and invited her to disclaim all aggressive designs. On the 25th, at Penicuik, he referred to a contradiction by Sir Henry Elliot of the language attributed to the emperor, and once more challenged the Austrian government to disclaim any intention of going beyond the treaty of Berlin.
At Stow, on the 30th, he discussed the financial arrangements of the government, and, with special reference to the Afghan war, observed: 'We do not know the worst.' This remark received a startling verification; for on 6 May the public learned by telegraph from India that Sir John Strachey, the finance minister, had made an extraordinary blunder, and that the war would cost, not 6,000,000l. but 15,000,000l. At this election Gladstone made fifteen set speeches, without counting occasional addresses. Lord Hartington, however, made twenty-four. The pollings began on 31 March, and after the first day the final result was never doubtful. 349 liberals were returned, as against 243 conservatives and 60 homerulers. Gladstone himself was successful in Midlothian, polling 1,579 votes against 1,368 given for Lord Dalkeith. He was at the same time placed at the head of the poll for Leeds, where, after he had elected to sit for Midlothian, he was succeeded by his youngest son, Mr. Herbert Gladstone. At this time the queen was abroad, and there was consequent delay in the change of government. Lord Beaconsfield, however, took the earliest opportunity of resigning, and on 22 April the queen sent for Lord Hartington. This was in accordance with constitutional usage, as Gladstone had retired from the liberal leadership five years before. Lord Hartington did not at once refuse to form a government, but, after an interview with Gladstone on the 22nd, when he returned from Windsor, he decided not to attempt it. On the 23rd he and Lord Granville saw the queen together, with the result that her majesty sent for Gladstone the same afternoon. He at once formed, without difficulty, a strong administration, becoming himself, as he had