Pur Autre Vie

I'm not wrong, I'm just an asshole

Sunday, August 17, 2014


I continue to be greatly amused by Gladstone by Roy Jenkins.  Today's entry finds Gladstone contemplating a move to a new constituency (at the time, it was common to represent a district you did not actually live in).  At this point, Gladstone represents Oxford University, and its conservatism on many of the great issues of the day is acting as a moderating influence on his public positions.  As Jenkins puts it, "Palmerston hoped Oxford would keep him at least half muzzled."  (Gladstone is serving as Chancellor of the Exchequer in Palmerston's government.)

Anyway Gladstone decides to stick with Oxford at this point (he ultimately switches to South Lancashire in 1865, after losing his seat at Oxford).  Here's Jenkins:

"Gladstone had to settle for the small step of resigning from the Carlton Club [a heavily Conservative institution], which he did in March 1860 and which his faithful amanuensis Robert Phillimore thought a considerable mistake, particularly as Phillimore added encouragingly, 'They hate Gladstone more at Brooks's than they do at the Carlton.'"

By the way, Jenkins also notes that Gladstone went to the Carlton Club to write a few letters immediately after destroying Disraeli's budget of 1852, and with it the only Conservative government between 1846 and 1858.  (And when I say immediately, I mean immediately - Gladstone wrapped up his devastating speech at 4:00 a.m. and was sitting in the Carlton Club writing letters at 4:30.)  Recalling that the Carlton Club was highly Conservative in sentiment, it was an odd thing to do - Jenkins calls it "surprising and perhaps insensitive."  So anyway you can see why they hated Gladstone at the Carlton, though he stuck around for several years after his 4:30 a.m. visit.


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