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WILLIAM EWART GLADSTONE (1809–1898)

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Originally appearing in Volume V12, Page 66 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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WILLIAM EWART GLADSTONE (1809–1898), British statesman, was born on the 29th of December 1809 at No. 62 Rodney Street, Liverpool. His forefathers were Gledstanes of Gledstanes, in the upper ward of Lanarkshire; or in Scottish phrase, Gledstanes of that Ilk. As years went on their estates dwindled, and by the beginning of the 17th century Gledstanes was sold. The adjacent property of Arthurshiel remained in the hands of the family for nearly a hundred years longer. Then the son of the last Gledstanes of Arthurshiel removed to Biggar, where he opened the business of a maltster. His grandson, Thomas Gladstone (for so the name was modified), became a corn-merchant at Leith. He happened to send his eldest son, John, to Liverpool to sell a cargo of grain there, and the energy and aptitude of the young man attracted the favourable notice of a leading corn-merchant of Liverpool, who recommended him to settle in that city. Beginning his commercial career as a clerk in his patron's house, John Gladstone lived to become one of the merchant-princes of Liverpool, a baronet and a member of parliament. He died in 1851 at the age of eighty-seven. Sir John Gladstone was a pure Scotsman, a Lowlander by birth and descent. He married Anne, daughter of Andrew Robertson of Stornoway, sometime provost of Dingwall. Provost Robertson belonged to the Clan Donachie, and by this marriage the robust and business-like qualities of the Lowlander were blended with the poetic imagination, the sensibility and fire of the Gael. John and Anne Gladstone had six children. The fourth son, William Ewart, was named after a merchant of Liverpool who was his father's friend. He seems to have been a remarkably good child, and much beloved at home. childhoodeduca and- In 1818 or 1819 Mrs Gladstone, who belonged to the tion. Evangelical school, said in a letter to a friend, that she believed her son William had been " truly converted to God." After some tuition at the vicarage of Seaforth, a watering-place near Liverpool, the boy went to Eton in 1821. His tutor was the Rev. Henry Hartopp Knapp. His brothers, Thomas and Robertson Gladstone, were already at Eton, Thomas was in the fifth form, and William, who was placed in the middle remove of the fourth form, became his eldest brother's fag. He worked hard at his classical lessons, and supplemented the ordinary business of the school by studying mathematics in the holidays. Mr Hawtrey, afterwards headmaster, commended a copy of his Latin verses, and " sent him up for good "; and this experience first led the young student to associate intellectual work with the ideas of ambition and success. He was not a fine scholar, in that restricted sense of the term which implies a special aptitude for turning English into Greek and Latin, or for original versification in the classical languages. " His composition," we read, " was stiff," but he was imbued with the substance of his authors; and a contemporary who was in the sixth form with him recorded that " when there were thrilling passages of Virgil or Homer, or difficult passages in the Scriptores Greed, to translate, he or Lord Arthur Hervey was generally called up to edify the class with quotation or translation." By common consent he was pre-eminently God-fearing, orderly and conscientious. " At Eton," said Bishop Hamilton of Salisbury, " I was a thoroughly idle boy, but I was saved from some worse things by getting to know Gladstone." His most intimate friend was Arthur Hallam, by universal acknowledgment the most remarkable Etonian of his day; but he was not 66 GLADSHEIM arrangement which may be advantageously followed with bulbous plants generally. In hot summer weather they should have a good mulching of well-decayed manure, and, as soon as the flower spikes are produced, liquid manure may occasionally be given them with advantage. The gladiolus is easily raised from seeds, which should be sown in March or April in pots of rich soil placed in slight heat, the pots being kept near the glass after they begin to grow, and the plants being gradually hardened to permit their being placed out-of-doors in a sheltered spot for the summer. Modern growers often grow the seeds in the open in April on a nicely prepared bed in drills about 6 in. apart and z in. deep, covering them with finely sifted gritty mould. The seed bed is then pressed down evenly and firmly, watered occasionally and kept free from weeds during the summer. In October they will have ripened off, and must be taken out of the soil, and stored in paper bags in a dry room secure from frost. They will have made little bulbs from the size of a hazel nut downwards, according to their vigour. In the spring they should be planted like the old bulbs, and the larger ones will flower during the season, while the smaller ones must be again harvested and planted out as before. The time occupied from the sowing of the seed until the plant attains its full strength is from three to four years. The approved sorts, which are identified by name, are multiplied by means of bulblets or offsets or " spawn," which form around the principal bulb or corm; but in this they vary greatly, some kinds furnishing abundant increase and soon becoming plentiful, while others persistently refuse to yield offsets. The stately habit and rich glowing colours of the modern gladioli render them exceedingly valuable as decorative plants during the late summer months. They are, moreover, very desirable and useful flowers for cutting for the purpose of room decoration, for while the blossoms themselves last fresh for some days if cut either early in the morning or late in the evening, the undeveloped buds open in succession, if the stalks are kept in water, so that a cut spike will go on blooming for some time.
End of Article: WILLIAM EWART GLADSTONE (1809–1898)
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