The Grand Old Man.
On the evening of Mr Gladstone’s “ golden wedding ” day the following capital article appeared in the ‘Pall Mall Gazette ’: —
Mr Gladstone has resumed without an effort the position in the House which he has ceased to occupy for so long that the people had begun to forget it was his. To-day Richard is himself again, and the most malicious of detractors admits with reluctant candor that there is no one in politics who is even a patch upon Mr Gladstone. Whig and Tory all agree in eulogising the speech in favor of the Royal grants—a speech in itself not so much worthy of notice for what it contained as for what it revealed. It was a good enough speech on the wrong side, but that was net its distinctive and distinguishing virtue. Its importance was due to the fact that it revealed Mr Gladstone as he was, as he is, and as he will be remembered by those who will come hereafter. Mr Gladstone, little as his detractors care to be reminded of it at present, is our only great Parliamentarian. He is the last of an old order, the belated survivor of a great school, the only representative of a great tradition. As was remarked by one of his most intimate friends, Mr Gladstone will most probably be regarded by posterity as the link between the old and the new, standing, as it were, between the living and the dead—the living democracy of the future, and the dying castes and hierarchies of the past, A buoyant confidence in the progressive development of the destinies of mankind is so rarely combined with a reverent and grateful appreciation of the traditions and institutions of the past that this alone will suffice to distinguish Mr Gladstone in the great muster-roll of English statesmen. He represents the perfect flower of the culture and training of the Old England, with his roots deeply buried in the past, and all his fibres drawing in nourishment from the ancient springs of religion and morality with which successive generations of Englishmen have for centuries past nurtured their souls. His career bridges the gulf which would otherwise yawn between the Oxford of Manning and Newman and Liddon, and the democracy, which Mr Chamberlain himself now finds too advanced. Possibly this feature in his character may be misconceived, and the pride of a democratic constituency may chafe against a mind which lingered so lovingly and long in a region of inherited and irrational prejudice ; just as the scientific spirit may resent the sympathy which inclined him so much more to the thought of Italy than to the genius of France and Germany. But democracies are given to the idolising of their great men, and posterity will not look harshly upon its defects. Mr Gladstone will gain in the eyes of posterity by the fact that after him it seems as if no orator was likely, so far ns we can see at present, to arise who could pretend to the palm of his genius. It has been finely said that his rivals at the best can only divide his gifts as the generals of Alexander did the empire of the Macedonians they had conquered. One may equal him in beauty of composition, a second in lucidity and precision of statement, a third in fluency and fire, but he alone possesses all the qualities of an orator, qualities which were tried in a hundred fields, and came off triumphant in all—to which we have the whole London Press hearing emphatic testimony. It is very satisfactory to think that the golden wedding day of the great statesman should have been signalised by such aremarkable display of the genius of his golden prime.
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The Grand Old Man., Evening Star, Issue 8030, 5 October 1889, Supplement
The Grand Old Man. Evening Star, Issue 8030, 5 October 1889, Supplement
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