few months before,
"You must both rejoice at Mr. Gladstone's rest — which he so often spoke of as his great wish and which is essential at his time of life. ... "12 But the Grand Old Man was strong again, and no longer under the
"special injunction of silence."Five days after the opening of Parliament he steamed across to the Isle of Wight to kiss the Queen's hand as her Prime Minister, for the third time. Queen Victoria wrote to Lord Salisbury, that she could not
"trust herself to dwell on parting"with him, as
"the loss to her"was
"so great,"and she was
MR. GLADSTONE wrote that he hoped his Ministry would last
"for a brief tenure only."1 He was encouraged during his first audience with his Sovereign and wrote afterwards,
"I am bound to say that at Osborne in the course of a long conversation, the Queen was frank and free, and showed none of the 'armed neutrality' which as far as I know has been the best definition of her attitude in the more recent years towards a Liberal minister."The Queen's
"armed neutrality"was shattered, and many of Mr. Gladstone's own supporters were antagonized, on April 8 when,
"in a speech of transcending power,"2 he introduced his Irish Home Rule Bill to the Commons. Recalling his own performance, he wrote,
"Voice and strength and freedom were granted to me in a degree beyond what I could have hoped. But many a prayer had gone up for me, and not I believe in vain. "3
The House listened to the great voice.
" Ireland stands at your bar expectant, hopeful, almost suppliant. Her words are the words of truth and soberness. She asks a blessed oblivion of the past, and in that oblivion our interest is deeper even than hers. ... "The voice had spoken of Home Rule in different terms, in the past. A few of Mr. Gladstone's followers, and most of his enemies, recalled one of his
"plainest and most frank"speeches, made sixteen months before. Some had considered it to be a vow that
"never would he be guilty of such tergiversation as to advocate Home Rule."They turned up Hansard, but found that the speech had been
"a perfect specimen of his marvellous dialectical skill in making words appear to mean what they really did not."4 And the Queen was able to refer to a letter he had written, in 1882, in which he said,
"Nothing can be more improbable than that Mr. Gladstone should ever be called upon toadvise Your Majesty as a Minister with reference to the subject knownas Home Rule in Ireland . . . he is far from intending to imply thatsuch Home Rule as prevails in Canada could be safely or properlyextended to Ireland. "
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Reign of Queen Victoria. Contributors: Hector Bolitho - Author. Publisher: Macmillan. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1948. Page number: 320.