Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/332

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Gladstone
Gladstone
320

Eventually a majority of those present, being forty-five, withdrew to another room, deposed Parnell from the leadership, and elected Mr. McCarthy as sessional chairman.

On 2 Oct. 1891 Gladstone attended the meeting of the National Liberal Federation at Newcastle, and gave his support to a series of proposed measures which was called the Newcastle programme, and for the next four years was the platform of the liberal party. Putting home rule first, he added to it the disestablishment of the Welsh and Scottish churches, local veto, one man one vote, the payment of election expenses from public funds, and the establishment of parish councils. He declared that if the House of Lords were to throw out a home rule bill passed by the House of Commons, it would become a dangerous power between the throne and the people.

The parliament of 1886 was dissolved on 29 June 1892. In view of the appeal to the country the London trades council came on a deputation to Gladstone on 16 June, and asked him to take up the question of a legal eight hours' day. Gladstone's reply was a refusal. He said that Ireland had the first claim upon him, and that he could not at his age embark upon great changes such as the deputation desired. He had striven his utmost for the working classes, and in proof of this proposition he said, 'I appeal to my life.' Gladstone's address contained no information about a future home rule bill, and is chiefly remarkable for having been written, as he said, in the sixty-fifth year of his political life, when he could not expect to face another general election. The day after it was written, 25 June, he went to Chester to speak at a liberal meeting. On his way he was struck in the eye with a hard piece of gingerbread, which gave him great pain and inflicted rather serious injury. The identity of the thrower, a woman, was discovered by the police, but Gladstone declined to prosecute her. In spite of the pain, he made his speech, and announced that if the lords threw out a home rule bill he should not regard it as a proper ground for dissolving parliament. On 30 June he spoke with all his old energy at the music hall in Edinburgh, and afterwards made a succession of speeches at Glasgow and elsewhere. But he did not satisfy public curiosity about his intentions, and the enthusiasm of Scotland for him was perceptibly diminished. His own majority in Midlothian sank from more than four thousand to less than seven hundred. His opponent was General Andrew Wauchope [q.v. Suppl.] The result of the election was the return of 355 liberals, including Irish nationalists, and of 315 conservatives, including liberal unionists, who suffered more severely than any other party. This gave a majority of forty for Gladstone and home rule. The government determined to meet the new parliament on 4 Aug.

On 8 Aug. the queen's speech was read, and Mr. Asquith's amendment of no confidence in the ministry was carried, on 11 Aug., by 350 votes against 310. Gladstone spoke on the second night of the debate, but declined to say what he would do if he were the head of the liberal government. He expressed, however, an opinion that the Coercion Act of 1887 should be repealed, and intimated that he should not resign office if the home rule bill were rejected by the House of Lords. In conclusion, he said that the question of Ireland was to him, personally, almost everything, and that he remained in public life to settle it. After the division the government at once resigned, and on 15 Aug. Gladstone accepted office as first lord of the treasury and lord privy seal.

Never was a government formed under greater difficulties than was Gladstone's third and last administration. The prime minister was eighty-two, and, though his strength was unabated, the infirmities of age were creeping upon him. His power of hearing was greatly diminished. The majority was entirely dependent upon the Irish vote, and the Irish party itself had not been reunited by the death of Mr. Parnell in October 1891. Some of the liberal leaders, including Lord Rosebery, returned to office with great reluctance. Gladstone strengthened his administration by including in it some younger liberals of promise. Mr. Asquith became home secretary; Mr. Arthur Acland, minister of education, with a seat in the cabinet; and Sir Edward Grey, under-secretary for foreign affairs.

On 24 Oct. Gladstone delivered the first Romanes lecture in the Sheldonian theatre in Oxford; his subject was mediaeval universities. Two years before he had spent a week in rooms at All Souls', of which he had been elected honorary fellow in 1858, and he had addressed the Union Society on his favourite subject, Homer.

On 3 Dec. Gladstone received the freedom of Liverpool, his native town, and gave some picturesque recollections of Liverpool as he first knew it.

Parliament did not meet in 1893 till 31 Jan., after which it sat in every month throughout the year except October. Not