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(R): MR. GLADSTONE’S BIOGRAPHY - John Emerich Edward Dalberg, Lord Acton, Selections from the Correspondence of the First Lord Acton, Vol. I (Cardinal Newman, Lady Blennerhassett, W.E. Gladstone) 
Selections from the Correspondence of the First Lord Acton, edited with and Introduction by John Neville Figgis and Renald Vere Laurence. Vol. I Correspondence with Cardinal Newman, Lady Blennerhassett, W.E. Gladstone and Others (London: Longmans, Gree and Co., 1917).
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MR. GLADSTONE’S BIOGRAPHY
Dear Mr. Gladstone,—
The turning of the tide is much more rapid than I thought possible, and I cannot refrain from writing to congratulate you on a change which is almost entirely your own work.
I should be half sorry if it were to snatch you prematurely from the occupations you meant to turn to at Hawarden. For I think often of that American proposal which you spoke of at Grillion’s, and which seems to me full of important consequences.
The influence of your name, your ideas, your career, will be the greatest force sustaining and guiding the Liberal party in the next generation.
How many of those who would otherwise have been its appointed leaders have fallen or drifted away, and of those who have not, there are scarcely three or four who have had a grasp of the principle, and have been independent of the uncertain influence of combinations. Our most valuable possession will be the unity—unity of direction and progress—of your political life. That is a thing not at all apparent on the surface and easily missed by overlooking links that are neither obvious nor generally known.
Of those who have known you and lived near you and had your confidence not one is left who could do justice to the theme, which, besides, is infinitely richer and more varied than this central problem.
The materials will be partly inaccessible, partly unintelligible, to anybody but yourself. There is a terrible abundance of your letters, the correspondence of half a century in unfit hands from which you alone can recover it. And there is much to which no one else has the key.
And this is almost equally true of the religious part of your life, and of the literary, which is only part of the religious.
Lastly, apart from yourself, and from the future of that grand instrument for doing good, the Liberal party, how much other secret history, how much secret biography of eminent men, you hold locked in scrinio pectoris!
So that I heartily wish success to Mr. Putnam—if it is Putnam—so far as may be wished without detriment to the cause which is before us.—I remain, ever yours,
72 Princes Gate,August 16, 1887.
Dear Mr. Gladstone,—
I take advantage of your note of interrogation to revert to a topic on which I do not think you feel as many of your friends do. In regard to your own correspondence, you have been generous to the verge of carelessness. It is scattered all about, serving the biographies—and the purposes—of other men. You are being expended in sixpences, and are acting as a subsidiary to very divergent views and causes. But the cause to be served is your own. Since you have built a Simancas, it ought to be filled with your own archives. Now one great branch of them, the private correspondence with the men most in your confidence, has been allowed to drift.
Sooner or later, almost every public man with whom you were associated went the way of Argyll and Selborne, Hartington and Forster. To all who look on your career as a whole, and as a possession for certain reasons precious to the nation and to the cause, it must seem important that the inner, the intimate and confidential history, should be manifested, explained, and proved by the decisive materials in your own hand.
In the next few years a score of books will be written in the interest of men, at least partially hostile to you. The stronghold of your friends would be such letters as those which were exchanged with Lord Granville. There is not the least security that much of this material will be allowed to serve the proper end.
Please also remember that the principle has been admitted of publishing correspondence between Ministers and the Sovereign.
Certainly, one cannot deprive people, or families, of their property. But one can request to have it communicated to oneself.
I think I have seen an announcement that the energetic editors of your speeches mean to give introductions. I did not mean summaries of the speeches, but of the situation from which they issued. It will make a great difference in their effect.
No, I certainly do not mean that you said what was inaccurate, but that you gave Disraeli what he did not deserve. I should not like to have to make the speech Fox made when Pitt died; but you went so far the other way that you seemed to exclude the higher aspect of political contests.
I hope these hurried lines will find you still enjoying the salutary repose of Hawarden; for I am afraid the next things at Westminster will be trying. One can’t help seeing that that splendid adventurer1 is losing ground by mere force of things, and lapse of time.—Ever most truly yours,
Tegernsee,June 3, 1891.
[1 ] Parnell.