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forced upon him by a loud and organized agitation. The repeal of the Corn Laws, the repeal of the Catholic disabilities - the two acts by which he will be remembered were not chosen by him, but exacted from him; the world around him clamored for them. But no future statesman can hope to have such an advantage. The age in which Peel lived was an age of destruction; the measures by which he will be remembered were abolitions. We have now reached the term of the destructive period. We cannot abolish all our laws; we have few remaining with which educated men find fault. The questions which remain are questions of construction : how the lower classes are to be admitted to a share of political power without absorbing the whole power; how the natural union of church and state is to be adapted to an age of divided religious opinion, and to the necessary conditions of a parliamentary government. These and such as these are the future topics of our home policy; and on these the voice of the nation will never be very distinct, — destruction is easy, construction is very difficult.
A statesman who will hereafter learn what our real public opinion is, will not have to regard loud agitators, but to disregard them; will not have to yield to a loud voice, but to listen for a still small voice ;* will have to seek for the opinion which is treasured in secret rather than for that which is noised abroad. If Mr. Gladstone will accept the conditions of his age; if he will guide himself by the mature, settled, and cultured reflection of his time, and not by its loud and noisy organs; if he will look for that which is thought, rather than for that which is said, - he may leave a great name, be useful to his country, may steady and balance his own mind: but if not, not. The coherent efficiency of his career will depend on the guide which he takes, the index which he obeys, the daiuov + which he consults.
*1 Kings xix. 12. + The "guiding spirit” on which Socrates professed to rely. – ED.
There are two topics which are especially critical : Mr. Gladstone must not object to war because it is war, or to expenditure because it is expenditure. Upon these two points Mr. Gladstone has shown a tendency - not, we hope, an uncontrollable tendency, but still a tendency - to differ from the best opinion of the age. He has been unfortunately placed: his humane and Christian feelings are opposed to war; he has a financial ideal which has been distorted, if not destroyed, by a growing expenditure. But war is often necessary; finance is not an end, money is but a means. A statesman who would lead his age must learn its duties. It may be that the defense of England, the military defense, is one of our duties : if so, we must not sit down to count the cost; if so, it is not the age for arithmetic; if so, it is for our statesmen – it is especially for Mr. Gladstone, who is the most splendidly gifted amongst them - to sacrifice cherished hopes, to forego treasured schemes, to put out of their thoughts the pleasant duties of a pacific time, to face the barbarism of war, to vanquish the instinctive shrinkings of a delicate mind.
Lastly, Mr. Gladstone must beware how he again commits himself to a long period of bewildering Opposition. Office is a steadying situation : a minister has means of learning from his colleagues, from his subordinates, from unnumbered persons who are only too ready to give him information, what the truth is and what public opinion is. Opposition, on the other hand, is an exciting and a misleading situation: the bias of every one who is so placed is to oppose the ministry, yet on a hundred questions the ministry are likely to be right, — they have special information, long consultations, skilled public servants to guide them; on most points there is no misleading motive. Every minister decides to the best of his ability upon most of the questions which come before him: a bias to oppose him, therefore, is always dangerous; it is peculiarly dangerous to those in whom the contentious impulse is strong, whose life is in debate. If Mr. Gladstone's mind is to be kept in a useful track, it must be by the guiding influence of office, by an exemption from the misguiding influence of Opposition.
No one desires more than we do that Mr. Gladstone's future course should be enriched not only with oratorical fame but with useful power. Such gifts as his are amongst the rarest that are given to men; they are amongst the most valuable; they are singularly suited to our parliamentary life. England cannot afford to lose such a man.
If in the foregoing pages we have seemed often to find fault, it has not been for the sake of finding fault: it is necessary that England should comprehend Mr. Gladstone, - if the country have not a true conception of a great statesman, his popularity will be capricious, his power irregular, and his usefulness insecure.
LORD STANHOPE'S Life of Mr. Pitt has both the excellences and the defects which we should expect from him, and neither of them are what we expect in a great historical writer of the present age.
Even simple readers are becoming aware that historical investigation, which used to be a somber and respectable calling, is now an audacious pursuit. Paradoxes are very bold and very numerous: many of the recognized “good people” in history have become bad, and all the very bad people have become 'rather good; we have palliations of Tiberius, eulogies on Henry VIII., devotional exercises to Cromwell, and fulsome adulation of Julius Cæsar and of the first Napoleon. The philosophy of history is more alarming still: one school sees in it but a gradual development of atheistic belief; another threatens to resolve it all into “the three simple agencies, starch, fibrin, and albumen." But in these exploits of audacious ingenuity and specious learning Lord Stanhope has taken no part; he is not anxious to be original. He travels if possible in the worn track of previous historians; he tells a plain tale in an easy plain way; he shrinks from wonderful novelties; with the cautious skepticism of true common-sense, he is always glad to find that the conclusions at which he arrives coincide with those of former inquirers. His style is characteristic of his matter: he narrates with a gentle sense and languid accuracy, very different from the stimulating rhetoric and exciting brilliancy of his more renowned contemporaries.
* Life of the Right Honorable William Pitt. By Earl Stanhope, author of the “History of England from the Peace of Utrecht.”
In the present case, Lord Stanhope has been very fortunate both in his subject and in his materials. Mr. Pitt has never had even a decent biographer, though the peculiarities of his career are singularly inviting to literary ambition : his life had much of the solid usefulness of modern times, and not a little also of the romance of old times; he was skilled in economical reform, but retained some of the majesty of old-world eloquence; he was as keen in small figures as a rising politician now, yet he was a despotic premier at an age when in these times a politician could barely aspire to be an under-secretary. It is not wonderful that Lord Stanhope should have been attracted to a subject which is so interesting in itself, and which lies so precisely in the direction of his previous studies. From his high standing and his personal connections, he has been able to add much to our minuter knowledge. He has obtained from various quarters many valuable letters which have not been published before: there is a whole series from George III. to Mr. Pitt, and a scarcely less curious series from Mr. Pitt to his mother. We need not add that Lord Stanhope has digested his important materials with great care; that he has made of them almost as much as could be made; that he has a warm admiration and a delicate respect for the great statesman of whom he is writing. His nearest approach to an ungentle feeling is a quiet dislike to the great Whig families.
Mr. Pitt is an example of one of the modes in which the popular imagination is, even in historical times, frequently and easily misled : mankind judge of a great statesman principally by the most marked and memorable passage in his career. By chance we lately had the honor to travel with a gentleman who said that Sir Robert Peel was “ the leader of the