Saturday, February 26, 2011

08Dec1879, Gladstone a Little Elated

HAWARDEN, December 8th-14th, 1879.
—I went to Hawarden Tuesday, arriving there the day after the Gladstones, who were received with frantic enthusiasm at Chester, after the memorable Midlothian campaign. It has been one long outburst of welcome and one long triumph; yet the Conservatives still talk of winning. Uncle W. has poured out 6 magnificent speeches, besides a very noble Rectorial address at Glasgow ! and endless little addresses delivered bare-headed in the keen frosty weather; and here he is as fresh as paint. Not so poor auntie; she had to take to her bed Wednesday with a bad chill, which developed into erysipelas in her face; it reminded me of her similar attack during darling May's illness. F. came Wednesday. Frost hardly gave at all, and folks skated. Sidgwicks (she née Balfour) came, and Ld. Wolverton, besides which Lavinia is here with her little May and Neville, and "William of Wickham" [FN: Son of Dr. and Mrs. Wickham.] and my godchild Christian and brother Edward; so that one is wishing oneself in 4 places at once and possessed of 10 pairs of ears every minute. Packt in much church-going, one long sit with Stephy, another with Albert, another with Gerty, likewise luncheon at the Rectory and tea with Molly; not to speak of village visits and trolls in Auntie P.'s bedroom; the Great Man all the while interesting and delightful beyond. For the 1st time, I deliberately believe, in my recollection, he seems a little personally elated! It has always hitherto been the cause, or the moment, or the circumstances, or something, that he thinks he is the mere mouthpiece of; but this unheard-of enthusiasm for his name, in his own country (for he is a pure-bred Scotchman), and after the long time of abuse and loss of influence, has deeply moved him. On Saturday the neighbours came to see all the presents which were showered upon him in Scotland — plaids, wraps, table-linen, and all sorts of native products: a box of soap from Preston, rather a doubtful compliment! One evening he begged F. and Ld. Wolverton to come and have a talk about commercial matters, a propos of the vamped-up "protection" craze that is on just now; the Sidgwicks and I and Edward crept in to the Temple of Peace to listen, and it was grand to hear Uncle W.'s brilliant disquisition on the whole subject, which sounded as if he had thought of nothing else for months !

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