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Railway? That is a great descent, is it not? But I have not the smallest objection to discuss the Dee and Mersey Railway, or any other subject whatever.' In one of the Cattle Plague debates he discussed the dues of the River Weaver with a spirit, a breadth, and a felicity of application, that will associate that river in : oratorical reminiscences with the Rhone and the Saone. Another memorable occasion when he elevated a prosaic subject, was in the debate on the Overend and Gurney prosecution. He spoke unexpectedly at about half-past nine, when there was a lax attendance of reporters ; and the reports, consequently, conveyed to the outside public only an incomplete impression of his speech.
The most memorable passage of arms between Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Disraeli came off in the debate on the budget (Nov. 1853), when the Derby government was defeated by a majority of nineteen. It had lasted four nights. Mr. Gladstone had not spoken. Sir James Graham and Mr. Sidney Herbert were anxious that he should not speak after Mr. Disraeli, who rose at a late hour. Indeed it was understood that Mr. Disraeli was to close the debate. He fought his losing cause with spirit and dexterity, till (an unusual thing with him), he lost his temper and broke through all bounds of conventional decorum. Strong language may have been justified by the provocation, but he went too far when he told Sir Charles Wood (Lord Halifax) that petulance was not sarcasm, nor insolence invective; and said he viewed Sir James Graham with regard, but not with respect.
The moment he ceased, before he had well time to resume his seat amidst the loud acclamations of his party, Mr. Gladstone bounded to the floor. He was encountered by menacing and derisive cheers : he was twice interrupted by an Irish member making unseemly noises in the gallery. But he was irrepressible: he
stood firm as Guizot uttering his famous Oui, j'ai été à Gand. “This speech,' he repeated, is one which must be answered, and answered at the moment. The character of England, involved in that of her public men, the character of England is at stake.' After indignantły repelling Mr. Disraeli's charges and invectives, he ended a masterly analysis of the budget by describing it as based on principles against which all true Conservatives stood pledged.
Mr. Gladstone is more Ciceronian than Demosthenic. Amplification, not condensation, is his forte; but he can be fanciful or pithy on occasions : as when in a budget speech he compared his arrival at the part in which the remissions of taxation were to be announced, to the descent into the smiling valleys of Italy after a toilful ascent of the Alps; or when he said that it was the duty of the minister to stand like a wall of adamant' between the people and the Crown.
Nor is pathos beyond his range. In the course of his speech on Parliamentary Reform, April 27, 1866, he turned to the Liberal party and said:
"I came amongst you an outcast from those with whom I associated, driven from their ranks, I admit, by no arbitrary act, but by the slow and resistless forces of conviction. I came among you, to make use of the legal phraseology, in formá pauperis. I had nothing to offer you but faithful and honourable service : you received me as Dido received the shipwrecked Æneas:
And I only trust you may not hereafter at any time have to complete the sentence in regard to me:
-et regni, demens! in parte locavi.
You received me with kindness, indulgence, generosity, and I may even say with some measure of your confidence. And the relation between us has assumed such a form that you
can never be my debtors, but that I must be for ever in your debt.'
An old and highly esteemed member of the Liberal party (Mr. Philips, member for Bury) said that the delivery of this passage brought tears into his eyes ; and he added : ‘I was not ashamed to own it, when I observed that several friends near me were similarly, moved.'1
We must stop here. The walls of our portrait gallery are covered. We are like the Hanging Committee of the Academy, driven to exclusion by selection; and we shall doubtless be suspected of prejudice or partiality like them. The high claims of the excluded, however, form one among many reasons for looking hopefully to the future, after reverting proudly to the past. There are no rising orators, it is true; nor (as we recently noticed) are there any rising poets, painters, or actors, any rising men of first-rate genius of any kind. Yet England is replete with intellectual life: it must still contain hearts pregnant with celestial fire : and there never existed a more appreciating public; so appreciating, indeed, that in default of real genius, it is often content to put up with counterfeits.
With a rich soil and good seed, why should there be no harvest, or a blighted one? The destiny of the rising generation may be that of Banquo: “Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none. If Gray might ennoble his country churchyard with the dust of imaginary departed worthies, why may we not people our senate with the animated forms of coming ones? It is good not to despair of the commonwealth, and we do not despair of it. The scene at St. Paul's on Thanksgiving Day has indefinitely postponed the arrival of the new Zealander to sketch its ruins. Whatever may become of the Manchester School, British eloquence, statesmanship, patriotism, 'and loyalty will not fade like the Tyrian dye: the British Houses of Parliament will not moulder like the Venetian palaces ; nor (for it all comes to that) have the people of this little isle’ shown the slightest symptom of abandoning or forfeiting the grand position which the Premier claimed for them at Blackheath, among the small and select company of great nations that have stamped their names on the page of history, as gifted with the qualities that mark the leaders of mankind.' This recalls the fine lines of Goldsmith :
1 Although the Session of 1873 may not have been favourable to Mr. Gladstone's Government upon the whole, his personal reputation as & parliamentary speaker and statesman has certainly been enhanced by it. Instance upon instance might be cited in which he sbone pre-eminent in debating power, as well as in elevation and comprehensiveness of view.
"Pride in their port, defiance in their eye,
I see the lords of human kind pass by.'
CURIOSITIES OF GERMAN ARCHIVES.
1. Aus Vier Jahrhunderten. Mittheilungen aus dem
Haupt-Staatsarchive zu Dresden, von (Out of Four Centuries. Selections from the Chief State Archives at Dresden. By) Dr. KARL VON WEBER, Ministerialrath, Director des Haupt-Staatsarchives. Two volumes. Leip
zig: 1857. 2. Aus Vier Jahrhunderten, &c. &c. Neue Folge. 1861.
The author of this compilation is one of those zealous public functionaries whom it would be both cruel and impolitic to check by Talleyrand's famous injunction against zeal. Public loss as well as private mortification would be the result. Instead of dozing over the miscellaneous and multitudinous heaps of parchments and papers confided to him in 1849 as Director of the State Archives of Saxony, or pocketing occasional fees for extracts, Dr. Karl von Weber set about examining and selecting from them; and from the description he gives of his treasures we should say that few antiquarians have undertaken a more appalling task.
The State Record Office of Dresden, established in 1834, contains (he tells us), besides a great number of original records, about 300,000 reports or documents (Actenstücke) out of the repositories of more than fifty dissolved or extinct provincial jurisdictions, commissions, embassies, &c. It also possesses an inexhaustible mine for history, in the shape of letters to and from members of the ruling family, high officials, and other influential persons. If, for example, in earlier times there died any one directly or indirectly connected with the