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MATTHEW ARNOLD AND W. E. GLADSTONE: SOME NEW LETTERS w. H. G. ARMYTAGE SEVERAL studies of Matthew Arnold published during the last ten years still accept the interpretation of his near contemporary Paul and regard Gladstone as Arnold's enemy. The President of Dalhousie University, delivering the Alexander Lectures at Toronto in 1938, spoke of Gladstone's "antipathy" to Arnold.1 Even more surprising was the misrepresentation given to two of Arnold's letters by Sir Edmund K. Chambers , on the strength of which he thought that Gladstone should be numbered among Matthew Arnold's dislikes.2 It is now possible, however, to publish the letters which were exchanged between the poet and the politician, and to point out that there was a background of sympathy and respect in the relations between the two men, which the bitternesses of 1885 and later have hitherto obscmed.3 These are not the only letters of Matthew Arnold which have been recently discovered,4 but they are by far the most complete. For, thanks to the excellent system whereby Glad~ stone's outgoing letters while he was in office were faithfully transcribed into letter~books, we not only have Arnold's letters to him, but the replies as well.5 lCarleton Stanley, Matthew Arnold (Toronto, 1938), 101. 2Sir E. K. Chambers, Matthew Arnold (Oxford, 1947). 130. He inclines to think that the word "Gladstone" should be inserted for the dash which G. W. E. Russell (Letters of Matthew Arnold (London, 1895), I, 355) has in his version of a letter written by Matthew Arnold to his mother from the Athenaeum on April 8, 1867. The Russell text runs: "I can understand the mortification of the Liberals at seeing Reform taken out of their hands, but I do not pity them, as not twenty on their side were sincere about it. William [Forster, his brother-in-law] was certainly one of those twenty. About - - I do not sympathise with you in the least. Respect is the very last feeling he excites in me j he has too little solidity and composure of character or mind for that. He is brilliantly clever, of course, and he is honest enough, but he is passion~ ate and in no way great, as I think." The second letter which I think is obviously misread was written by Arnold to his sister on Fepruary 19, 1876 (ibid.~ II, 126) and runs: "I send you the note about Gladstone--it may burn. But it is a great and solid satisfaction , at fifty, to find one's work, the fruit of so many years of isolated reflection and labour, getting recognition amongst those whose judgment passes for the most valuable." Sir E. K. Chambers sees in the words "it may burn" some feeling of antipathy, which I don't think is justified since four months later he wrote again "I send you some letters which may burn, all except Sarazin's, which you must return" (ibid., II, 130). 8The polemic quality of Arnold's later work is well brought out by Professor Robbins in the Univer.sit'l of Toronto Quarterly, XVII, 1947, 63. In this respect he was perhaps influenced by his brother~in-law, W. E. Forster, who had resigned from Glad~ stone's government in 1882. 4 See Review of English Studies~ XXIII, 1947, 355~7 for his letters to A. J. Mun~ delia, Forster's successor at the Education Office as a Liberal minister. They are in the library of the University of Sheffield. 5The Gladstone Papers were fully indexed in the British Museum by 1944. Mr. Tilney Basset1 whose life has been devoted to cataloguing and sorting them, has compiled a MSS mdex, Add MSS 44835b. The letters of Arnold, also in the British Museum, are in ten packets of miscellaneous correspondence numbered respectively Add MSS 44392 (f: 109); 443~5 (f. 174); 44403 (f. 107); 44412 (ff. 226 and 237); 44419 (f. 281); 44427 (ff. 3 and 19); 44470 (f. 182); 44471 (f. 284); 44475 (f. 5); and 44485 (f. 312), numbering twelve letters in all. Gladstone's letters to Arnold are in letter-books Add MSS 44531; 44532; 44534; 44536; 44538; 44544; 44545; 44546...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 217-226
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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