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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
On the Death of Gladstone
By Sir Wilfrid Laurier (1841–1919)
 
Speech in the Canadian House of Commons, May 26th, 1898

ENGLAND has lost the most illustrious of her sons; but the loss is not hers alone, the loss is the loss of mankind. Mr. Gladstone gave his whole life to his country; but the work which he did for his country was conceived and carried out on principles of such high elevation, for purposes so noble and aims so lofty, that mankind benefited. His death is mourned not only by England, the land of his birth, not only by Scotland, the land of his ancestors, not only by Ireland, for which he did so much, and attempted to do so much more; but also by the people of the two Sicilies, for whose outraged rights he once aroused the conscience of Europe, by the people of the Ionian Islands, whose independence he secured, by the people of Bulgaria and the Danubian provinces, in whose cause he enlisted the sympathy of his own native country. Indeed, since the days of Napoleon, no man has lived whose name has traveled so far and so wide over the surface of the earth; no man has lived whose name alone so deeply moved the hearts of so many millions of men. Napoleon impressed his great personality upon peoples far and near by the strange fascination which the genius of war has always exercised over the imagination of men in all lands and in all ages, but the name of Gladstone has come to be in the minds of all civilized nations as the living incarnation of right against might—the champion, the dauntless, tireless champion, of the oppressed against the oppressor.  1
  This last half century in which we live has produced many able and strong men who, in different walks of life, have attracted the attention of the world at large; but of the men who have illustrated this age, it seems to me that in the eyes of posterity four will outlive and outshine all others—Cavour, Lincoln, Bismarck, and Gladstone. If we look simply at the magnitude of the results obtained, compared with the exiguity of the resources at command, if we remember that out of the small kingdom of Sardinia grew United Italy, we must come to the conclusion that Count Cavour was undoubtedly a statesman of marvelous skill and prescience. Abraham Lincoln, unknown to fame when he was elected to the Presidency, exhibited a power for the government of men which has scarcely been surpassed in any age. He saved the American Union, he enfranchised the black race, and for the task he had to perform he was endowed in some respects almost miraculously. No man ever displayed a greater insight into the motives, the complex motives, which shape the public opinion of a free country, and he possessed almost to the degree of an instinct the supreme quality in a statesman of taking the right decision, taking it at the right moment, and expressing it in language of incomparable felicity. Prince Bismarck was the embodiment of resolute common sense, unflinching determination, relentless strength, moving onward to his end, and crushing everything in his way, as unconcerned as fate itself. Mr. Gladstone undoubtedly excelled every one of these men. He had in his person a combination of varied powers of the human intellect, rarely to be found in one single individual. He had the imaginative fancy, the poetic conception of things, in which Count Cavour was deficient. He had the aptitude for business, the financial ability which Lincoln never exhibited. He had the lofty impulses, the generous inspirations which Prince Bismarck always discarded, even if he did not treat them with scorn. He was at once an orator, a statesman, a poet, and a man of business. As an orator he stands certainly in the very front rank of orators of his country or any country, of his age or any age…. To his marvelous mental powers he added no less marvelous physical gifts. He had the eye of a god, the voice of a silver bell; and the very fire of his eye, the very music of his voice swept the hearts of men even before they had been dazzled by the torrents of his eloquence.  2
 
 
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