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GLADSTONE, WILLIAM E (1809-1898).  British Liberal statesman and Prime Minister (1868-74, 1880-85, 1886 and 1892-94). Significant Autograph Letter Signed “W E Gladstone”, as Prime Minister on imprinted 10 Downing Street stationery. 3 full pages, quarto. London, September 30, 1883. To Reverend David Greig of Winslow. Includes original postmarked envelope, additionally franked “W. Gladstone” at lower left. Envelope is torn slightly and affects franking signature. Letter has some minor partial separation at folds, otherwise very good.  Fine commentary on William Palmers work,  and thoughts regarding the High Anglicanism movement in England at the time, and his epic work, Treatise on the Church of Christ, Gladstone writes:

“Your letter having reached me on Sunday morning, I have been able at once to give it some attention. Your MS appears to me to be of high excellence; but my judgment on it is of little worth. I have made a few notes in pencil. The question you put to me, whether the important work in hand may be better executed as a new and separate work, is I think of great importance and difficulty. At the outset I should meet it with a counter-inquiry – What does Dr. Dollinger think of it? His opinion would be a capital element in my reply. I observe that it is not a question of your capacity, or of the room left for a new oration in the Church, neither of which might be difficult to solve. But we have certain facts before us: the existence of Palmer’s work; the high place it at once took; its unreachable prose, analytic & synthetic, its comprehensiveness with its moderate bulk; the marked countenance which, even in its original form, it received from the heads of the Church; the equally – approval from similar quarters of the proposal to readjust and republish it.  All this seems to show that it could in the will to part company altogether with Sir W. Palmer, if it is practicable to effect the work of adaptation, retaining so much of identity as to make it possible to see in the new work heir to the old one.  It might appear as revised by the permission of the Author without involving his direct responsibility at every point; and the method not only of occasional notes (which I admit  — most objectionable if long or frequent) but of independent Exercises might be available. All this I say to open the question, not to close it – But Palmer’s name and work have got up many rungs of the ladder; and it could be a serious matter to begin again at the beginning, at any rate makes it ever certain that the same construct of Episcopal countenance could be obtained. I remain, very faithfully yours, WM Gladstone.”


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