Saturday, May 22, 2010

Prime Minister William Gladstone Remembered

"Disraeli may be every liberal’s favorite conservative, but his great rival, William Ewart Gladstone, is an orphan: too much the classical liberal for today’s Left, too anti-imperialist for the contemporary Right," writes Melvin L. Schut — The Virtuous Liberal. An excerpt:
    Early on, he seemed a near reactionary, but he embarked on the rarest of political odysseys, moving from right to left as he aged. The Tory became leader of a new Liberal Party that coalesced around him; he went from being a self-described “out-and-out inequalitarian” to a backer of “the masses against the classes.” His policies over four terms as prime minister and four as chancellor of the Exchequer—roughly analogous to secretary of the Treasury—were called liberal in his time, but appear conservative in ours: he was largely successful in limiting government, imposing fiscal discipline, keeping taxes low, devolving power, and expanding political and religious liberties. Friends and opponents alike admired his integrity, yet he was also loathed for his forthright Christian piety. After meeting him, Henry James noted, “Gladstone is very fascinating—his urbanity extreme—his eye that of a man of genius—and his apparent self-surrender to what he is talking of, without a flaw.”

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Blogger The Sanity Inspector said...

Always there was this huge concentration of force; purpose at white heat roared like a furnace in every action of his life. When once he had convinced himself on any subject it ceased to be his opinion and became a cosmic truth which it was the duty of every right-minded person to uphold.
-- E. F. Benson, As We Were, 1930

Mr Gladstone read Homer for fun, which I thought served him right.
-- Winston Churchill, My Early Life, 1930

Mr Gladstone not only appeared but rushed into the debate...the new
members trembled and fluttered like small birds when a hawk is in the air.
-- Benjamin Disraeli, of Gladstone in the House of Commons, letter,
March 1875

Why, put him in the middle of a moor, with nothing in the world but his shirt, and you could not prevent him being anything he liked.
-- T. H. Huxley, in Roy Jenkins Gladstone, 1995

He speaks to Me as if I was a public meeting.
-- Queen Victoria, in G.W.E. Russell Collections and Recollections, 1898

4:20 AM  

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