The Gladstone Diaries - Vol. 7

The Gladstone Diaries - Vol. 7

The Gladstone Diaries - Vol. 7

The Gladstone Diaries - Vol. 7

Excerpt

The reader will see at a glance that the scope of the material included in volumes seven and eight is very considerably wider than that of previous volumes. In addition to the daily text of Gladstone's personal journal, these two volumes include all of his extremely important and hitherto unpublished Cabinet Minutes and an extensive selection of over eight hundred of the letters which he wrote as Prime Minister in his first administration.

The effect of this is greatly to increase the political content and importance of The Gladstone Diaries, and to offer by far the fullest documentary account of a British administration in peacetime. Volumes covering his three subsequent administrations will follow the same pattern.

Gladstone preserved detailed notes of almost every Cabinet meeting at which he presided, and all of these for his first government are printed in these two volumes. Their content and significance is discussed in the Introduction.

Correspondence was a primary preoccupation of Gladstone's prime ministerial life, as his daily diary shows. A wide-ranging selection from it is included in these volumes, interleaved with the daily diary and the Cabinet Minutes. Copies of virtually all of his letters on political topics were made by him or by his secretaries, and the starting point for the selection has been the record he assembled of his correspondence in these years. Wherever possible, the holograph of the letter has been traced and is the version printed below. The selection of letters attempts to include all the important political letters which Gladstone wrote during his first administration, and also to give a fair representation of his quasi-political activities and his religious and literary correspondence. Limitations of space have been the only curtailing factor. Letters in the series already published--to his wife, to the Queen, to Lord Granville, and to Arthur Gordon--have not been duplicated. A selection of the letters to the evangelical ex-courtesan, Laura Thistlethwayte, an important preoccupation in these years, is printed in an Appendix in volume VIII. A note about the technical aspects of the editing of these letters will be found below, at the start of the List of Correspondents.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is again to be thanked for permission to publish the diary and extracts from the ancillary material . . .

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