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Download this case story Our Clients Overview. Hitherto small savings could only be invested on the security of government through the savings banks, which were six hundred in number, and open for but a few hours in the day. The bill enabled them to be invested through the postal and money order offices, of which there were then between two and three thousand, and which were open from morning till night.
The rate of interest was two and a half per cent. On 15 April Gladstone introduced his budget for the year in a speech which was pronounced by some impartial critics to be the finest he had yet delivered. He took off the penny which he had put on the income tax the year before. He again proposed the repeal of the paper duty. As for the income tax, he declared that it depended entirely upon the national expenditure. If the country would be content to be governed at the cost of 60,, l. If they persisted in spending 70,, l. The repeal of the paper duty was once more vigorously opposed, and Thomas Berry Horsfall, supported by the whole of the conservative party, moved that the tea duty should be abolished instead.
The motion was defeated by a majority of eighteen; but the conservatives made a good deal of play with the cry of tea before paper. Gladstone had been subjected to some ridicule for his defeat by the House of Lords in the previous year. But it now became apparent that he knew well what he was about when he reserved to himself in the right of asserting by action the privileges of the commons. By a bold and practical innovation, which has since been the rule of parliament, he included all the taxes in one bill.
This masterly stroke succeeded. Although the removal of the tax was finally carried in the House of Commons by the small majority of fifteen, the lords did not venture to interfere, and on 7 June they adopted without a division the customs and inland revenue bill, which included the abolition of the paper duty. From this time date the cheap press and the publication of penny or halfpenny papers. The excessive expenditure of which Gladstone complained was mainly due to the large sums which Lord Palmerston demanded for the fortification of the coasts and of the seaports.
Against these heavy grants Gladstone more than once protested, and his protests went to the verge of resignation. He agreed rather with Cobden than with his chief; and when the subject was under discussion his absence from the house was observed. The budget of , introduced on 3 April, was comparatively prosaic. The civil war in America and a succession of bad harvests had interfered with the growth of the revenue, and no great remission of taxation was possible.
Gladstone, however, repealed the hop duty, a very unpopular impost, and substituted for it a readjustment of brewers' licenses, which made the larger brewers pay more, and the smaller brewers pay less. He also modified the scale of the wine duties, giving a further advantage to the light as against the strong sorts of wine.
It is to this budget and to the budget of that is due the name of 'Gladstone claret. An unfortunate utterance, in some respects the most unfortunate of Gladstone's life, was made in a speech at Newcastle on 7 Oct. He then said that Jefferson Davis, leader of the confederate rebellion, had made an army, had made a navy, and, what was more, had made a nation.
He also expressed his opinion that the reunion of the north and the south, as a result of the war, was impossible. These views were held at the time by the vast majority of the upper and middle classes in England, though the working classes, who suffered most by the war, never subscribed to them. The prophecy, however mistaken, was repeated in even stronger terms by both Lord Russell and Lord Derby in the following year. It has to be remembered that the war was not ostensibly begun for the extinction of slavery, but for the maintenance of the union, and that even Lincoln declared himself at the outset to be no abolitionist.
But it was really against slavery that the troops of the north fought; and in Gladstone had the manliness to avow that he had entirely misunderstood the real nature of the struggle. On 15 April Gladstone, for the first time, supported the burials bill, then in the hands of Sir Morton Peto [q.
There was a large surplus, and Gladstone was enabled to take twopence off the income tax, reducing it to sevenpence in the pound; he also raised the limit of partial exemption from incomes of l. So far the budget encountered no opposition, though a proposal to license clubs was withdrawn. But another proposal, to remove the exemption from income tax enjoyed by charitable endowments, excited a furious controversy. On 4 May Gladstone received the largest deputation which had ever waited on a minister.
It was headed by the Duke of Cambridge, and attended by both the archbishops as well as by many bishops, clergymen, and philanthropic laymen. Gladstone declined to argue the matter with them, and reserved what he had to say for the House of Commons the same evening. Upon that occasion he delivered what has been described by competent judges as the most convincing piece of abstract argument ever addressed to a legislative assembly. He pointed out that the exemption was not really given to charities, but to charitable bequests, which, as they did not take effect till after the death of the testator, were not really charity at all.
Every penny given by a man to charitable objects in his lifetime, though it might involve not only generosity but privation, was taxed to the uttermost. He asked whether it was right and just that parliament should specially favour wills which might endow a charitable institution and leave the testator's family destitute; he asserted that an exemption from a tax was a grant of public money, and he denied the moral right of parliament to grant money without retaining control of it. No serious attempt was made to answer this speech. On 2 July, Gladstone, speaking this time with the full authority of the government and supported by Disraeli, suffered an overwhelming defeat.
His proposal to purchase the buildings used for the exhibition of for , l. It was apparently regarded as a court job. In the course of this year Gladstone brought out, with Lord Lyttelton, a joint volume of 'Translations' new edit. The best of his classical translations is from the battle piece in the fourth book of the 'Iliad. The most popular, however, is his version, in rhyming Latin, of Toplady's famous hymn, 'Rock of Ages.
The budget of was introduced on 7 April; the surplus was two millions and a half. With this Gladstone reduced the sugar duties by a sum of 1,, l. He also made a small concession to the agricultural interest, exempting from duty malt employed in feeding cattle. The principal measure of the year, besides the budget, was a bill for providing government annuities and government insurance through the post office savings banks. The bill was severely criticised; but Gladstone saved it by consenting to lay it before a select committee, which reported favourably upon it, and it passed into law.
When on 11 May Sir Edward Baines [q. This was the most frankly democratic speech he had yet made. He pointed out that only one fiftieth of the working classes had votes. He claimed the right of every man, not disqualified, to come within the pale of the constitution, and he stated that the burden of proof rested with those who denied any man's right to vote. He implored the house not to wait for agitation before they widened the suffrage, and he appealed to the fortitude of the operatives in the Lancashire famine as a proof that they were eminently qualified to discharge ail the duties of citizens.
The ultimate effect of this spirited declaration was immense; but at the moment the house refused, by votes against 56, to read the bill a second time. On 28 March Gladstone declined on behalf of the cabinet to accept L. Dillwyn's motion declaring that the position of the Irish church was unsatisfactory, on the ground that it was inopportune.
He fully admitted that the Irish church was what Dillwyn described it. Establishments, he said, were meant for the whole nation, but barely one eighth of the Irish people belonged to the established church. But the great difficulty was the disposal of the endowments, which the Roman catholics had no desire to share. The motion came to nothing; the debate was adjourned and not resumed. On 27 April Gladstone introduced his budget, and triumphantly pointed to a considerable decrease in the national expenditure. Reviewing the commercial legislation of that long parliament, he paid once more an eloquent tribute to the public services of Cobden, who had died a few weeks before.
He announced a surplus of four millions, with which he lowered the duty on tea from a shilling to sixpence in the pound, and the income tax from sixpence to four-pence, which he declared to be its proper rate in time of peace. The question whether it should be retained at all he left to the new parliament. He reduced the tax on fire insurance by one half. On the other hand he refused, in spite of a subsequent defeat, to abolish the duty on the certificates of attorneys and solicitors. On 14 June Mr.
Gladstone opposed the bill in a speech which offended many of his liberal admirers. He said that he would be no party to separating education from religion, and he praised the wisdom of the denominational system. The academic liberals complained that their leader had turned round and fired in their faces. In July parliament was dissolved. The result of the general election, which excited little interest, was the return of liberals and conservatives. This was a liberal gain of forty-eight votes on a division. The chief event of the elections was Gladstone's defeat at Oxford.
The nomination took place on 13 July, and the poll, under an act passed the year before, lasted for five days. The same act also allowed, for the first time, the use of voting papers, which could be sent by post, and thus, by increasing the practical power of the non-residents, contributed to Gladstone's defeat. His tory colleague, Sir William Heathcote, was virtually unopposed. Gathorne-Hardy afterwards Lord Cranbrook. On 18 July the numbers were declared as follows: Heathcote, 3,; Hardy, 1,; Gladstone, 1,; being a majority for Hardy over Gladstone of Gladstone had a majority among the resident members of the university, and even among the heads of houses.
Of the professors, twenty-four voted for him, and only ten against him. Bishop Wilberforce used all his influence in support of his old friend, who received the suffrages not only of Jowett and Pattison but of Keble and Pusey. On 17 July, the day before the declaration of the poll at Oxford, Gladstone had been nominated for South Lancashire. On the 18th he wrote a dignified farewell to the university, and on the same day arrived at Manchester, where he addressed a crowded meeting in the Free Trade Hall.
He described himself as 'unmuzzled,' and intimated that a serious check to his liberal developments had been taken away. There was, however, another which was soon to follow it. On 18 Oct. Palmerston died. Gladstone, who had on 29 July been returned for South Lancashire below two conservatives, at once wrote to Lord Russell, and offered, in the event of the queen sending for him, to continue in office as chancellor of the exchequer, with or without the lead of the House of Commons, now vacant by Palmerston's death.
The queen sent for Lord Russell, who became prime minister, and requested Gladstone to lead the house in his present office. The relations between Gladstone and Russell were extremely cordial, whereas Palmerston had more than once written to the queen about his chancellor of the exchequer in terms of sarcastic censure, which would have been unusually strong if applied to a political opponent. The first duty of the new parliament, after suspending the Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland to provide against the first appearance of fenianism, and passing a bill to authorise the compulsory slaughter of cattle as a protection against the rinderpest, was to deal with reform.
On 12 March Gladstone introduced the government's reform bill in the House of Commons. The bill reduced the franchise in counties from a property qualification of 50 l. It gave votes to compound householders, whose rates were nominally paid by the landlords, and to every man who, for two years, had had 50 l.
A vehement opposition to the bill was at once declared from the liberal as well as the conservative side of the house. The most. On 12 April he moved the second reading, and took occasion to point out that the working classes, who had less share in the representation than they had before the great Reform Act, paid five twelfths of the taxes. He ridiculed the idea that they would all vote together as a class, a prediction which was amply fulfilled. The debate lasted for eight nights, and closed with a reply from Gladstone. Rising at one in the morning, he reviewed the whole course of the debate, directing himself more especially to Lowe's arguments.
His speech was a masterpiece of classical eloquence, freely adorned and illustrated by those rich Virgilian hexameters with which, like Lowe, he delighted to season his parliamentary oratory. Contrasting himself with Lord Russell, a lifelong reformer, he admitted the tardiness of his own conversion, and thanked the liberal party for accepting him as leader. His speech was, in fact, far too great for the bill. But he concluded with a prophecy, fulfilled more speedily than even he could have anticipated, that time was on his side; that the great social forces, which the tumult of debate could neither impede nor disturb, were fighting for him, and would end in a certain if not distant victory.
As soon as he sat down the house divided. The government secured a bare majority of five. Before the house went into committee on the bill, and amidst a fever of public excitement, Gladstone on 3 May produced his budget. The surplus was nearly a million and a half. With it he repealed the duty on timber and the pepper duty, and reduced the duty on bottled wine to the same level as that on wine in casks.
He also lowered the tax on cabs and omnibuses from a penny to a farthing a mile. He announced that commercial treaties, on the model of the treaty with France, had been concluded with Belgium, with the German Zollverein, and with Austria. He then turned to the subject of the national debt, and pleaded earnestly for the importance of making a more serious effort towards paying it off. He warned the country that the supply of coal would probably be exhausted in a hundred years, and that the consequent diminution of productive power would be enormous.
But it was revived some years afterwards by W. Jevons, its real originator, and it cannot be said to have been refuted. He then propounded a scheme by which, beginning with a sum of half a million a year, debt to the amount of fifty millions would have been extinguished by But he did not remain in office long enough to carry this plan into effect. On 7 May Gladstone fulfilled his promise to the house by bringing in a redistribution bill. By grouping the small boroughs and taking away one member each from several of them, he obtained forty-nine seats, which, without altering the number of the house, he distributed among the larger towns, the more populous divisions of counties, Scotland, and the university of London.
On 14 May the bill was unanimously read a second time. On the 28th, which had been fixed for the committee of the reform bill, the serious troubles of the government began. Sir Rainald Knightley afterwards Lord Knightley carried against ministers, by a majority of ten, an instruction to include in the bill provisions for dealing with bribery. Sir Arthur Hayter then moved an amendment against the system of grouping in the redistribution bill; but Gladstone, after a protest against obstruction, declared that he did not regard the principle of grouping as vital, and the amendment was not pressed.
Then came the tug of war. Lord Dunkellin moved to substitute rating for rental as a qualification for the franchise. Gladstone opposed this on the double ground that it would give the assessors of rates control over the suffrage, and that it would much diminish the number of new voters. But on 18 June the amendment was carried by a majority of eleven, and on the 19th Lord Russell's government resigned.
The queen was unwilling to accept their resignation. Ministers, however, succeeded in overcoming her majesty's scruples, and on 26 June Gladstone defended in the House of Commons the course which they had taken. His reasons were mainly two. He said that the only alternative to resignation was the frank acceptance of the amendment, and that the cabinet had entirely failed to find any practicable means of carrying it out. He further stated that the present reform bill, as originally drawn, was smaller than the bill of , and that the government could not consent to any further diminution of it.
The queen sent for Lord Derby, who became for the third time prime minister, with Disraeli once more chancellor of the exchequer and leader of the House of Commons. Meanwhile the popular enthusiasm for reform had become intense. On 27 June ten thousand Londoners assembled in Trafalgar Square and marched in procession to Gladstone's house.
Gladstone himself was not at home; but Mrs. Gladstone, in response to calls, appeared on the balcony, and there was tumultuous cheering. On 23 July a great procession of reformers marched to Hyde Park. The police, by direction from the home office, closed the gates [see Walpole, Spencer Horatio ]. But the crowd broke down the railings and entered the park in triumph.
Both Lord Derby and Disraeli, having taken office, calmly declared that they had never been opposed to the principle of reform, and that they had just as good a right to deal with it as their political opponents. Gladstone replied, at Salisbury, by saying that he would give an impartial consideration to any plan they might propose. Little surprise was therefore felt when a paragraph in the queen's speech for announced another reform bill. Before introducing their bill the government proposed colourless resolutions, which did not satisfy the public curiosity.
On the 18th Disraeli introduced the bill, which went much further than the resolutions. Every ratepaying householder was now to have a vote. Gladstone at once protested against the principle of dual voting, which formed part of the bill, and insisted upon votes being given to lodgers as well as to compound householders. On 25 March Disraeli moved the second reading of the bill, and after Gladstone had obtained from Disraeli an assurance which was understood to mean that he would be flexible, the bill was read a second time without a division.
But, in consequence of a protest made at what was called the 'tea-room meeting,' part of this instruction was dropped, and Coleridge only moved that the committee should have power to deal with rating. This Disraeli accepted, and Gladstone thereupon moved in the committee that all householders should have votes, whether their rates were paid for them or not. This amendment was rejected by a majority of twenty-one.
But during the Easter recess a number of meetings were held to demand a thorough-going reform, and on 2 May the process of enlarging the bill was begun. Under Gladstone's guidance this was successfully accomplished. Lord Cranborne afterwards Lord Salisbury , in an incisive speech, pointed out that the bill, as it left the House of Commons, was not Disraeli's but Gladstone's — Gladstone, he said, had demanded and obtained, first, the lodger franchise; secondly, the abolition of distinction between compounders and non-compounders; thirdly, a provision to prevent traffic in votes; fourthly, the omission of the taxing franchise; fifthly, the omission of the dual vote; sixthly, the enlargement of the distribution of seats; seventhly, the reduction of the county franchise; eighthly, the omission of voting papers; ninthly and tenthly, the omission of the educational and savings bank franchises.
On 19 Nov.
Gladstone admitted that there was a good cause for war, but protested against territorial aggrandisement and the assumption of new political responsibilities. At Christmas Lord Russell retired from the leadership of the liberal party, and was succeeded by Gladstone. On 19 Feb. This was read a second time without a division, and soon became law, thus putting an end to a very long and very obstinate dispute. On 26 Feb. Lord Derby resigned, from failing health, and Disraeli became prime minister. He had to govern with a minority, and was constantly defeated in the House of Commons.
On 16 March, during a four nights' debate on the state of Ireland [see Maguire, John Francis ], Gladstone expressed the opinion that the Irish church as a state church must cease to exist. On the 23rd he gave notice of three resolutions, declaring that the church of Ireland should be disestablished and disendowed, and the exercise of public patronage in it at once suspended to avoid the creation of new vested interests.
Instead of meeting these resolutions with a direct negative, or with the previous question, Lord Stanley, on behalf of ministers, proposed an amendment that the subject should be left for the new parliament to deal with. On 30 March Gladstone moved that the house should go into committee on his resolutions, and in his speech explained his own personal attitude. He had never, he said, since , adhered to the principle of the Irish establishment.
His policy was to pass only a suspensory bill in that parliament, leaving the whole question of disestablishment and disendowment to be decided by the next. After a long debate the house, by a majority of fifty-six, determined to go into committee on the resolutions. There was by this time a great deal of interest out of doors, and meetings on both sides were held during the Easter recess. At one of them, in St. James's Hall, Lord Russell presided, and spoke strongly in favour of Irish disestablishment, adding an eloquent eulogy of Gladstone as his successor.
On 27 April Gladstone moved his first resolution in favour of disestablishment, and argued that, so far as the church of England was concerned, a bad establishment did not strengthen, but weakened, a good one. After three nights' debate the resolution was carried by a majority of sixty-five, and Disraeli asked for time to reconsider the position of the government. On 4 May he made a rather obscure statement in the House of Commons, which was understood to mean that he had offered the queen the alternative of dissolving parliament in the autumn, or of accepting his resignation.
Her majesty had refused the resignation, but had given her assent to an autumn dissolution. Strong protests were made against bringing in the queen's name. Gladstone strenuously objected to the holding of a dissolution over the house as a menace. His remaining resolutions were adopted without a division, and, in reply to the third, her majesty assented to placing her own patronage in the Irish church at the disposal of parliament. On 23 May Gladstone moved the second reading of the suspensory bill, explaining that with disestablishment the Maynooth grant to the catholics and the regium donum to the presbyterians would cease.
The second reading was carried by a majority of fifty-four. But, in the House of Lords, where Lord Carnarvon supported it, and Lord Salisbury, who had recently succeeded his father, opposed it, it was rejected by ninety-five. Parliament was prorogued on 31 July , and was dissolved on 11 Nov.
The great question before the country was the disestablishment of the Irish church, and the popular verdict, the first taken under household suffrage, was decisive, the liberal majority being On 4 Dec. Gladstone was summoned to Windsor and bidden to form his first ministry. He had been defeated in south-west Lancashire by Mr.
By 9 Dec. Robert Lowe afterwards Viscount Sherbrooke [q. John Bright [q. Lord Russell refused a seat in the cabinet without office, and Sir George Grey [q.
Sir Roundell Palmer afterwards Earl of Selborne refused the woolsack because he objected to the disendowment, though not to the disestablishment, of the church in Ireland. The chief business of the session of —the disestablishment of the Irish church—was emphatically Gladstone's work. Parliament met on 16 Feb. The bill provided for the immediate disendowment of the church, and for its disestablishment as from 1 Jan. The church was hereafter to govern itself, and the governing body was to be incorporated. There was to be full compensation for vested interests, but the Irish bishops were to lose at once the few seats which they held by rotation in the House of Lords.
The church was to retain all private endowments bestowed since The Maynooth grant to catholics and the regium donum to presbyterians were to be commuted. The tenants of church lands were to have the right of preemption. This clause, due to Bright and known by his name, was the origin of the many Land Purchase Acts which have since been passed for Ireland, The funds of the church were not to be used for any ecclesiastical purpose, but for the relief of unavoidable calamity and suffering.
This was the only part of the bill which underwent serious alteration in parliament. The second reading of the bill was fixed for 18 March, when Disraeli moved its rejection. It was carried by a majority of , and passed easily through committee. On 31 May the bill was read a third time, by a majority of , and sent to the House of Lords.
The conservative majority of that house were divided in opinion. After a long and eloquent debate the second reading was carried by thirty-three votes. Great changes were, however, made in committee; with almost all of these the House of Commons, by large majorities, refused to agree. For some time there was serious danger that the bill would be lost. But Lord Cairns, having done his best to defeat the bill and having failed, set himself with great ability to obtain the most favourable terms he could get from a government too strong to be resisted.
The queen intervened as a peacemaker through Archbishop Tait. The result was that the bill passed substantially as it left the commons, with one most important exception. By an amendment, which Lord Cairns moved, and which the government ultimately accepted, the funds of the church were applied, not to the exclusive relief of suffering, but mainly to such purposes and in such manner as parliament might direct.
As a matter of fact, they have scarcely ever been employed in the relief of suffering at all; but they have played a most valuable part in the development of Irish agriculture and industry. Thus altered, the bill received the royal assent on 26 July. In the autumn of this year Gladstone excited the bitter resentment of orthodox churchmen, with whom he was himself in complete doctrinal agreement, by appointing Dr. Temple, head-master of Rugby, who was reputed to have freethinking tendencies, bishop of Exeter. But Gladstone's best justification is that neither in , when he himself nominated Dr.
Temple to the bishopric of London, nor in , when Lord Salisbury nominated him to the archbishopric of Canterbury, was the faintest objection raised from any quarter. Although Gladstone afterwards made Dr. James Fraser [q. Bradley dean of Westminster, he gave the high church party at least their share of the dignities and emoluments of the church. In appeared 'Juventus Mundi,' prematurely called by Lowe 'Senectus Gladstoni,' which partly summarised and partly developed Gladstone's larger treatise on Homer, published eleven years before.
On 15 Feb. Gladstone introduced his first Irish land bill, a mild and moderate measure, founded on the report of the Devon commission, which had been issued five-and-twenty years before. The bill gave legal effect to the Ulster custom, i. It gave the tenant compensation for disturbance, if he had been evicted for any other reason than not paying his rent. It also gave him compensation for improvements, and reversed in his favour the old presumption that they had been made by the landlord. It authorised the issue of loans from the treasury for enabling the tenants to purchase their holdings, thus carrying a step further the policy of the Bright clauses.
Only eleven members voted against the second reading. The lords altered it a good deal in committee; but they abandoned most of their amendments on report, and the bill passed substantially as it was brought in. Gladstone had little to do with the great education bill of this year, which established school boards and compulsory attendance throughout the country. He left it almost entirely to William Edward Forster [q. He was, in truth, a denominationalist, and had no sympathy with the unsectarian teaching of religion given in board schools. The great event of was the war between Prussia and France.
The British government preserved a strict neutrality. But when the draft treaty between Count Bismarck and Monsieur Benedetti was published in the 'Times' on 25 July, ten days after the outbreak of the war, Gladstone and Lord Granville, who had just succeeded Lord Clarendon as foreign secretary, entered into negotiations with both the belligerent powers for maintaining the independence of Belgium. The draft treaty, a scandalous document, communicated to 'The Times' by Bismarck himself, purported to assure France of Prussia's aid in the conquest of Belgium, whose neutrality had been under a joint European guarantee since On 9 and 11 Aug.
But the only step which the government asked the House of Commons to take was an increase of the army estimate by two millions sterling and 20, men. In October of this year Gladstone took what was for a prime minister the singular course of contributing to the 'Edinburgh Review' an article on England, France, and Germany. In it he freely criticised the conduct of both foreign powers, defended his own government, and congratulated the country on being divided from the complication of continental politics by 'the streak of silver sea which travellers so often and so justly execrate. But anonymity is difficult for prime mini- sters.
The authorship was disclosed by the 'Daily News' on 5 Nov. The administrative history of is important. On 31 Aug. At the same time the dual control of the army by the war office and the horse guards was abolished, the commander-in-chief being for the first time placed under the secretary of state. Just before the end of the year Gladstone announced the release of all the Fenian prisoners in English gaols on the condition that they remained for the rest of their lives outside the United Kingdom.
The condition was severely criticised, and it may be doubted whether the discharged convicts would not have been less dangerous to England in Ireland than they became in the United States. The year opened with the Black Sea conference, which met in London on 17 Jan.
It was called to consider the clause in the treaty of Paris which provided for the neutralisation of the Black Sea. This the Czar announced his intention of repudiating. Gladstone was accused of allowing Russia to tear up the treaty, but, as a matter of fact, Lord Granville refused to recognise the right claimed by Russia, and it was the conference which put an end to a restriction which could not have been permanently enforced against a great power.
The first and chief business of the session was the army regulation bill, which, among other things, abolished the purchase of commissions in the army. The bill was strenuously resisted by the military members of the house, and 'the Colonels,' as they were called, initiated the system of obstruction, which was afterwards more artistically developed by the Irish members.
In the House of Lords the bill was met by a dilatory motion demanding a more complete scheme of army reform. Two days afterwards Gladstone announced in the House of Commons that purchase had been abolished by royal warrant, and would be illegal after 1 Nov. Thus the only result of the lords' refusal to proceed with the bill would be that officers could not get the compensation which it provided.
In these circumstances the bill passed. The lords consoled themselves with passing a vote of censure on the government. Some radicals, however, represented by Fawcett, denounced the use of the prerogative, even for purposes of which they approved, while so moderate a liberal as Sir Roundell Palmer, not then a member of the government, supported it as the only practicable course.
As a matter of strict law, the queen did not act on this occasion by virtue of her prerogative as the head of the army, but under the powers of a statute passed in This year Gladstone succeeded in passing the university test bill, which had long been before parliament, and which opened the prizes of the universities to men of all creeds. Speaking on the women's suffrage bill of Jacob Bright, Gladstone made the admission that he would not object to women voting if the ballot were introduced, but to this isolated expression of opinion he gave no practical effect.
On the other hand, he made an uncompromising speech against Miall's motion for the disestablishment of the church of England. The purport of it was to submit to arbitration the claims of the American government for damages caused by the depredations of the Alabama and other cruisers fitted out at British ports during the civil war. The commission, which was appointed by Gladstone to discuss the terms of the treaty with the United States government, was headed by Earl de Grey, created for his services Marquis of Ripon, and included Gladstone's political opponent, though personal friend, Sir Stafford Northcote.
The commissioners agreed upon three rules which practically decided the case against England, so far as the Alabama was concerned, and which had not previously been an undisputed part of international law. But the treaty, though open to technical criticism, was substantially just, and put an end to a dangerous state of feeling between the two nations. The arbitrators met at Geneva in the following year to determine the Alabama claims. This was the first international arbitration of serious importance. Its value as a precedent was inestimable, and it will always be associated with Gladstone's name [see Cockburn, Sir Alexander ; and Palmer, Roundell ].
The United States demanded a sum exceeding nine millions sterling. The majority of the arbitrators awarded them three millions and a quarter, in respect of losses inflicted by the Alabama, the Florida, and the Shenandoah. Meanwhile Gladstone delivered, in , at Aberdeen, a speech which was often used against him in future years.
Referring to the Irish demand for home rule, which then came from only a small section of the Irish people, he said that if given to Ireland it must be given also to Scotland, and asked if they were prepared to make themselves ridiculous by disintegrating the great capital institutions of the country. In October he met his constituents at Greenwich, who were dissatisfied partly with his neglect of their interests, and partly with the discharge by the government of labourers from the dockyards.
He spoke for two hours in the open air to an audience estimated at twenty thousand. At first there were so much noise and so hostile a demonstration that he could not be heard. But in a few minutes he put the interrupters to silence, and, at the close of his speech, he received a practically unanimous vote of confidence. Both physically and intellectually this was one of his greatest achievements. When parliament met, in , there was brought before both houses the case of Sir Robert Collier, Gladstone's attorney-general, who had been appointed a paid member of the judicial committee of the privy council, practically in defiance of the statute providing that only judges or ex-judges were eligible [see Collier, Robert Porrett, Baron Monkswell ].
Votes of censure were moved. The motion was rejected in the House of Commons by twenty-seven, and in the House of Lords by two votes. The result was damaging to the ministry and especially to Gladstone himself. The bad effect was increased by his appointment of William Wigan Harvey [q. Harvey was a graduate of Cambridge, and was admitted ad eundem at Oxford for the purpose of enabling him to take the living. Gladstone denied responsibility for the action of Oxford University. But the two transactions, taken together, produced the impression that the prime minister was too much inclined to evade the law.
Since that date it has been annually included without objection in the expiring laws continuance bill. In the autumn of this year the government received a great accession of strength by the appointment of Sir Roundell Palmer to be lord chancellor, with the title of Lord Selborne, in the room of Lord Hatherley. Gladstone's principal utterance outside parliament was a powerful and eloquent address to the students of Liverpool College, in which he combated the sceptical theories of the time as embodied in Dr.
Strauss's recent volume, 'The Old Faith and the New. In Gladstone proceeded to deal with the third branch of the Irish question, and on 13 Feb. The difficulty was that the Irish catholics, with few exceptions, refused to let their sons matriculate at the protestant university of Dublin.
The bill proposed to meet their scruples by forming a new university, of which Trinity College should be the centre, but which would contain also other affiliated colleges. The expenses of this university would be defrayed by annual grants of 12, l. The first council or governing body was to be appointed by parliament, but vacancies in it were to be filled by the crown. There were to be no religious tests, but, on the other hand, there were to be no chairs of theology, philosophy, or modern history, and no compulsory examinations in these subjects.
Some extraordinary provisions, which came to be known as 'the gagging clauses,' imposed penalties upon any teacher who offended the religious convictions of his pupils. The reception of the bill, largely owing to the effect of Gladstone's eloquence, was favourable. But before the second reading, which was postponed for three weeks, serious difficulties arose.
The catholic bishops of Ireland declared themselves dissatisfied with the measure, while English radicals, especially Fawcett, bitterly denounced the gagging clauses, and the restrictions upon the teaching of philosophy and history. Although Gladstone defended the bill with rare force and ingenuity, the second reading was rejected by three votes to , and the government at once resigned March.
The queen sent for Disraeli, who, however, refused to take office without a majority, and persisted in his refusal although the queen gave him the option of dissolving parliament. Gladstone contended that it was Disraeli's constitutional duty to accept office after defeating the government.
Disraeli replied that there was no adequate cause for the resignation of ministers, and a controversial correspondence of much historical importance was carried on by the two statesmen, each of them addressing himself in form to the queen. In the end Disraeli had his way, and Gladstone resumed office with weakened credit.
The Irish university question was settled for the time by the passing of Fawcett's bill abolishing religious tests in the university of Dublin. On Sir G. Trevelyan's annual motion for household suffrage in counties, Forster read a letter from the prime minister, who was prevented by illness from being present, pronouncing for the first time in favour of that reform, which he carried eleven years later. During the autumn of several changes were made in the government. Lord Ripon retired on account of his health, and Henry Austin Bruce [q.
Lowe, who had rendered himself unpopular as chancellor of the exchequer, was transferred to the home office, and Gladstone himself took the chancellorship. His acceptance of this office raised a grave constitutional question, which was never finally decided. Before the Reform Act of the acceptance of any office of profit under the crown vacated the seat of the acceptor. By that act it was provided that a minister already holding such an office should not vacate his seat if he accepted another in lieu of it.
It was clear, therefore, that Lowe did not vacate his seat on becoming home secretary instead of chancellor of the exchequer. But Gladstone took a new office without giving up an old one. He remained first lord of the treasury as well as chancellor of the exchequer, and eminent lawyers were of opinion that he had ceased to be member for Greenwich.
He did not, however, take that view himself, and did not seek re-election. The question would have been raised when parliament met, and, according to Lord Selborne's 'Posthumous Memoirs,' it was one of the reasons for the sudden dissolution of January On the 24th of that month the public were startled to find in the newspapers a long address from Gladstone to his constituents, announcing that parliament would be dissolved on the 26th. Proceeding to deal with the income tax, he pointed out that Lowe had reduced it from sixpence to three-pence, and he calculated that, with a surplus of five millions and a half, he would be able to abolish it altogether.
He also offered a grant in aid of local rates, which the House of Commons had, by a majority of a hundred, voted for against him, and some reduction of the direct taxes. These promises would have more than exhausted the surplus; but Gladstone believed that the balance would have been provided by greater economy in the public service. Disraeli at once replied to this manifesto in an address to the electors of Buckinghamshire, and carried the country with him.
At the general election of , the first under the ballot, the conservative majority was estimated at forty-six. But as this calculation combined Irish home rulers with British liberals, it underrated the conservative strength. Gladstone retained his seat for Greenwich, but was elected as junior colleague to Sir Thomas William Boord, the head of a local firm of distillers. Following the precedent set by Disraeli in , the prime minister resigned office without meeting parliament, and his rival succeeded him. At the beginning of the session, on 12 March, Gladstone wrote to Lord Granville, the leader of the liberal party in the House of Lords, intimating that he could not long remain at the head of the opposition, that he wished for comparative repose, and that if the party desired a chief who would attend more assiduously to the business of the House of Commons, he was quite ready to resign at once.
He was, however, induced to defer his retirement for a time. During the session of the bill which interested Gladstone most was the public worship bill [see Tait, Archibald Campbell ]. This was not a government measure. It was introduced into the House of Lords by Archbishop Tait, and was severely criticised by Lord Salisbury, then secretary of state for India. It was popular on both sides of the House of Commons, and Disraeli warmly supported it. Gladstone attacked the bill in a long, eloquent, and elaborate speech, which may be described as the case against Erastianism.
He pleaded for reasonable liberty within the church. He gave notice of six resolutions, of which the most important was the last, to the effect that the government should consult representatives of the church before introducing ecclesiastical legislation. On this occasion Gladstone's party declined altogether to follow him. The bill was read a second time without a division, and the resolutions were never moved.
In the final debates in the commons, Sir William Harcourt, always staunchly Erastian, disavowed the policy of his leader, and supported Disraeli. Gladstone replied to Sir William in a masterpiece of sarcastic irony, and Disraeli retorted upon Lord Salisbury in language seldom used to one member of a cabinet by another. The act did not succeed in its object. During the parliamentary recess Gladstone published in the 'Contemporary Review' an essay on ritualism, in which he surprised every one by a trenchant attack on the church of Rome, declaring that no man could now enter her communion without placing his loyalty and civil allegiance at the mercy of another.
This reference to the dogma of papal infallibility, which Pius IX had proclaimed four years before, elicited numerous replies from English catholics. Gladstone, dropping the subject of ritualism altogether, issued a special pamphlet on the Vatican decrees, in which he reiterated and supported his statements.
To this pamphlet many answers from varied points of view were written, of which the most important were by Dr. Newman, Dr. Manning, and Lord Acton. Gladstone, in another pamphlet entitled 'Vaticanism,' expressed satisfaction at recent assurances from catholic laymen that they were as loyal subjects and as good patriots as any of their protestant fellow-citizens, and his pleasure at having called them forth. With that the discussion closed; but many Englishmen who were not catholics held that the matter was one with which protestants had no concern, and that a man who had been prime minister of England should abstain from attacking the church to which so many of her majesty's subjects belonged.
At the beginning of Gladstone, in another letter to Lord Granville, intimated that the time had now come when he must formally relinquish the leadership of the liberal party. His resignation was regretfully accepted, and Lord Hartington was chosen to succeed him. During the session of this year he was not much seen in the House of Commons.
Before the end of the session of there appeared in the 'Daily News' a series of letters describing horrible massacres and tortures which had been inflicted upon the inhabitants of Bulgaria by their Turkish rulers. Parliament rose on 15 Aug. Walter Baring, second secretary of legation at Constantinople, who was commissioned by the British government to investigate the alleged outrages in Bulgaria. Baring confirmed the correspondents of the 'Daily News. In this he demanded that the officers of the Porte, from the lowest to the highest, should be cleared 'bag and baggage' out of the countries which they had desolated and destroyed.
A few days afterwards, on the 9th, he addressed his constituents on Blackheath, and, after a denunciation of Turkey, declared it to be the duty of England to act with Russia in securing the independence of the sultan's Christian provinces. Disraeli, who had now become Lord Beaconsfield, replied to these arguments both at Aylesbury and again on lord mayor's day at the Guildhall.
An attack on Turkey by Russia was imminent, and the close of Lord Beaconsfield's Guildhall speech suggested that England might resist Russia, and was well prepared for war. Liberals thereupon held a national conference at St. James's Hall to protest against any further support of the Turkish empire 8 Dec. Gladstone spoke in the evening with careful moderation, but emphatically asserted that the English people would be content with nothing less than the strict fulfilment of those duties to the Christian subjects of the sultan which were the result of the Crimean war.
Early in Gladstone entered upon an active political campaign against the government's inclination to support Turkey. He attacked the government, at Frome, for failing to discharge their obligations; and at Taunton he made the first of those speeches on railway platforms which played afterwards so large a part in English politics. Parliament met on 8 Feb. On the 16th he drew attention to Lord Derby's despatch condemning the Bulgarian massacres, and asked what course the government intended to adopt. After Mr. Gathorne Hardy subsequently earl of Cranbrook had replied in a guarded manner to Gladstone's question, and the debate had proceeded in a rather humdrum fashion, Mr.
Chaplin suddenly interposed with a personal attack upon Gladstone, accusing him of making charges against his opponents behind their backs. To give Gladstone an opportunity of replying, Mr. Chaplin moved the adjournment of the house. Gladstone at once rose to second the motion, and delivered off-hand one of the most amusing as well as one of the most effective replies ever heard in the House of Commons. At the end he took a serious tone, declaring that England was responsible for the power which Turkey had abused. The real struggle came nearly three months later.
The reason for Gladstone's unexpected mildness in parliament was that the liberal party were not agreed, and especially that their titular leader, Lord Hartington, did not go so far as Gladstone in zeal for the Christians of the east. Meanwhile, on 24 April, Russia declared war against Turkey. Gladstone gave notice that on 7 May he would move four resolutions defining his eastern policy, and a fifth combining them all in an address to the crown.
The first of these resolutions was a censure of Turkey for not fulfilling her obligations. The second declared that she was entitled to neither moral nor material support from England. The third laid down the principle that the Christian subjects of the Porte were entitled to local liberty and practical self-government. The fourth defined the concert of Europe as the proper method for carrying these proposals into effect. These resolutions were too strong for the moderate liberals, and Sir John Lubbock afterwards Lord Avebury gave notice on their behalf that he would move the previous question, which it was understood Lord Hartington would support.
But before the debate came on an arrangement was made. Gladstone agreed to move only the first of his resolutions, for which the whole liberal party were ready, with a slight verbal amendment, to vote.
In bringing forward this motion, however, which he did in a great rhetorical effort, Gladstone contrived to argue on behalf of his whole policy. The debate, thus begun, lasted till 14 May, when Gladstone rose at midnight to reply and summed up the arguments on his side with singular power. He declared himself for the coercion of the Porte by united Europe, and it was the British government, he added, which had stood in the way of European unity. Out of doors his popularity ran very high. In October he paid one of his rare visits to Ireland, where he was presented with the freedom of Dublin, and delivered a speech on the successful working of the Irish Land Act.
In Ireland he said nothing about eastern affairs; but he dealt with them at Holyhead on his way back, and paid an eloquent tribute to the nonconformist churches for the help which they had given him in his efforts for the Christians of Bulgaria. On 15 Nov. Meanwhile the Russo-Turkish war had proceeded rapidly, and by the beginning of Turkey was at the feet of Russia. Parliament was summoned for 17 Jan.
The government immediately ordered the Mediterranean fleet to Constantinople, with the ostensible object of protecting British subjects, and announced that they would ask the House of Commons for a vote of credit of 6,, l. The day before, Gladstone attended at Oxford, which he had not visited since his rejection by the university, the foundation of the Palmerston Club.