Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/323

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Gladstone
Gladstone
311

said that in ordinary circumstances the government would, after such a vote, have dropped the bill, but that the state of Ireland made such a course impossible. This was on a Friday; on Monday the prime minister announced that the government considered it the more manly course to remain at a post which no one was likely to envy them.

The arrears bill passed without much difficulty through the House of Commons, and the opposition did not divide against the second reading in the lords. But in committee Lord Salisbury, who had succeeded Beaconsfield as leader of the conservative peers, carried an amendment which made the bill voluntary, thus enabling every landlord to prevent its operation on his estate, and, in the opinion of the government, making it worthless. The House of Commons disagreed, and Lord Salisbury reluctantly gave way.

The affairs of Egypt came before parliament several times during the session, and Gladstone's Egyptian policy was severely criticised by some of his radical followers. But at that time Gladstone's power and influence were such that he could do almost anything he liked. During this summer the dual control of England and France in Egypt practically broke down, though it was not formally abolished till the following January. The authority of the Khedive Tewfik Pasha was threatened by a military movement under an adventurous soldier called Arabi Pasha. On 11 June there were fatal riots in Alexandria, and the British consul, (Sir) Charles Cookson, was wounded. A month later, after repeated warnings against the arming of the forts, which was considered a menace to the foreign, and especially the British, ships, Admiral Sir Frederick Beauchamp Seymour (afterwards Lord Alcester) [q. v.], bombarded the forts and destroyed them. This action on the part of the British government, in which the French Chamber would not allow the French government to assist, led to the resignation of Bright, who declared it to be a violation of the moral law. Gladstone, on the other hand, main- tained that the rule of Arabi was a military tyranny, from which it was the duty of the British government, on account of their position in Egypt, to relieve the Egyptian people. Bright's place was filled by John George Dodson (afterwards Baron Monk-Bretton) [q. v. Suppl.], and Sir Charles Dilke entered the cabinet for the first time as president of the local government board.

On 25 July the reserves were called out, and an expedition was sent, under Sir Garnet Wolseley, to restore order and the authority of the khedive. The rebellion of Arabi Pasha was crushed at Tel-el-Kebir, and Arabi himself was banished to Ceylon.

On 24 July Gladstone made his last appearance as chancellor of the exchequer, when he moved a vote of credit, on account of the Egyptian expedition, for 2,300,000l. In his ordinary budget, introduced on 24 April, he had proposed no financial charge, except an increase of the carriage duty to relieve the highway rates. He now raised the income tax from fivepence to sixpence-halfpenny, or to eightpence for the half-year, within which the whole of the increase was to be collected. This covered the vote of credit, to which the house agreed on 27 July, but which turned out to be a very small part of what interference in Egypt was to cost. On 18 Aug. the House of Commons adjourned till 24 Oct. for the purpose of dealing with Gladstone's further resolutions on procedure. These were not passed till 2 Dec., when parliament was at last prorogued. The first resolution, providing that closure must be voted by more than two hundred members, or if the minority were less than forty by more than one hundred, was not carried till 10 Nov. The most important of the other rules were those which established grand committees, and provided that opposed business could not be taken after half-past twelve.

After the prorogation several changes were made in the cabinet. Gladstone gave up the chancellorship of the exchequer to Hugh C. E. Childers [q. v. Suppl.]; Lord Hartington became secretary for war; Lord Kimberley for India; and Lord Derby joined the liberal government for the first time as secretary of state for the colonies. On 1 Sept. Archbishop Tait died, and Gladstone gave satisfaction to his political opponents, as well as to his ecclesiastical friends, by nominating for the primacy Edward White Benson [q. v. Suppl.], bishop of Truro.

The labours of this protracted session were too much even for Gladstone's strength. His health broke down for the time; he was ordered to the south of France, and though parliament did not meet in 1883 till 15 Feb., he was unable to be present at the opening of the session.

He returned, however, before Easter, and on 26 April, in the debate upon the second reading of the affirmation bill, he delivered one of his most eloquent speeches. The bill was a very simple one, for enabling any member of parliament to make an affirmation instead of taking an oath. But it was regarded as a Bradlaugh relief bill, and