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WILLIAM EWART GLADSTONE.
WILLIAM EWART GLADSTONE, an English statesman and orator, born at Liverpool, Dec. 29, 1809; died May 19, 1898. W. E. Gladstone was educated at Eton and afterward at Christ Church, Oxford, where he took a double first-class in 1831. In the next year, he was returned to Parliament in the “ Conservative" or Tory interest. In 1835 he became Under Secretary for Colonial Affairs; in 1841 was sworn in as a member of the Privy Council; in 1852 was made Chancellor of the Exchequer in the ministry of Lord Aberdeen. In 1868 he introduced a bill for the disestablishment of the Irish [Episcopal] Church; and became First Lord of the Treasury and Premier; in 1874 he was succeeded in this position by Mr. Disraeli, whom he in turn succeeded in 1880. Having been defeated in Parliament he left office in 1886, and became the acknowledged leader of the “Liberal” or Opposition Party. During his career Mr. Gladstone served four times as Prime Minister, December, 1868, to February, 1874; April, 1880, to June, 1885; February to July, 1886, and August, 1892, to March, 1894. From 1832 until his retirement from office in 1894 he was nearly always a member of Parliament, but advanced age and failing physical powers compelled the “Grand Old Man" to abandon public life and pass his remaining days in the quiet of his country-place.
Mr. Gladstone was a very prolific author. Besides numerous published speeches, and pamphlets treating merely of political topics, he was a frequent contributor to reviews and magazines, especially upon classical or religious subjects. His first book, “ The State in its Relations to the Church” (1838), elicited one of Macaulay's ablest critiques. This treatise is perhaps now chiefly noteworthy on account of the retraction of its most important theories put forth by Mr. Gladstone himself in his “ Chapter of Autobiography” (1869). The work on Church and State was followed in 1841 by a somewhat kindred book, "Church Principles considered in their Results." His later works include “Studies on Homer and the Homeric Age" (3 vols., 1858); “ Juventus Mundi: the Gods and Men of the Heroic Age” (1869); “The Vatican Decrees” (1874): “Homeric Synchronisms ” (1876); “ Gleanings of Past Years” (7 vols., 1879); “The Irish Question” (1886); “Landmarks of Homeric Study” (1890); “The Impregnable Rock of Holy Scripture" (1890); “Odes of Horace” (a translation, 1894).
(From “Gleanings of Past Years.") LORD MACAULAY lived a life of no more than fifty-nine years and three months. But it was an extraordinarily full life, of sustained exertion; a high table-land, without depressions. If in its outer aspect there be anything wearisome, it is only the wearisomeness of reiterated splendors, and of success so uniform as to be almost monotonous. He speaks of himself as idle; but his idleness was more active, and carried with it hour by hour a greater expenditure of brain power, than what most men regard as their serious employments. He might well have been, in his mental career, the spoiled child of fortune ; for all he tried succeeded, all he touched turned into gems and gold. In a happy childhood he evinced extreme precocity. His academi- . cal career gave sufficient, though not redundant, promise of after celebrity. The new Golden Age he imparted to the Edinburgh Review, and his first and most important, if not best, Parliamentary speeches in the grand crisis of the first Reform Bill, achieved for him, years before he had reached the middle point of life, what may justly be termed an immense distinction.
For a century and more, perhaps no man in this country, with the exceptions of Mr. Pitt and of Lord Byron, had attained at thirty-two the fame of Macaulay. His Parliamentary success and his literary eminence were each of them enough, as they stood at this date, to intoxicate any brain and heart of a meaner order. But to these was added, in his case, an amount and quality of social attentions such as invariably partake of adulation and idolatry, and as perhaps the high circles of London never before or since have lavished on a man whose claims lay only in himself, and not in his descent, bis rank, or his possessions.
One of the very first things that must strike the observer of this man is, that he was very unlike to any other man. And yet this unlikeness, this monopoly of the model in which he was made, did not spring from violent or eccentric features of originality, for eccentricity he had none whatever, but from the peculiar mode in which the ingredients were put together to make up the composition. In one sense, beyond doubt, such
powers as his famous memory, his rare power of illustration, his command of language, separated him broadly from others: but gifts like these do not make the man; and we now for the first time know that he possessed, in a far larger sense, the stamp of a real and strong individuality. The most splendid and complete assemblage of intellectual endowments does not of itself suffice to create an interest of the kind that is, and will be, now felt in Macaulay. It is from ethical gifts alone that such an interest can spring.
These existed in him not only in abundance, but in forms distant from and even contrasted with the fashion of his intellectual faculties, and in conjunctions which come near to paradox. Behind the mask of splendor lay a singular simplicity; behind a literary severity which sometimes approached to vengeance, an extreme tenderness; behind a rigid repudiation of the sentimental, a sensibility at all times quick, and in the latest times almost threatening to sap, though never sapping, his manhood. He who as speaker and writer seemed above all others to represent the age and the world, had the real center of his being in the simplest domestic tastes and joys. He for whom the mysteries of human life, thought, and destiny appear to have neither charm nor terror, and whose writings seem audibly to boast in every page of being bounded by the visible horizon of the practical and work-day sphere, yet in his virtues and in the combination of them; in his freshness, bounty, bravery; in his unshrinking devotion to both causes and to persons ;
and most of all, perhaps, in the thoroughly inborn and spontaneous character of all these gifts, — really recalls the age of chivalry and the lineaments of the ideal. The peculiarity, the differentia (so to speak) of Macaulay seems to us to lie in this : that while as we frankly think, there is much to question — nay, much here and there to regret or even censure - in his writings, the excess, or defect, or whatever it may be, is never really ethical, but is in all cases due to something in the structure and habits of his intellect. And again, it is pretty plain that the faults of that intellect were immediately associated with its excellences: it was in some sense, to use the language of his own Milton, “dark with excessive bright."
His moderation in luxuries and pleasures is the more notable and praiseworthy because he was a man who, with extreme healthiness of faculty, enjoyed keenly what he enjoyed at all. Take in proof the following hearty notice of a dinner a quattr'
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