IX. Saturday, December 6th, 1879.
Speech at Motherwell Station,
Mr. Gladstone, on Saturday morning, December 6th, proceeded by rail from Glasgow to Motherwell, where he was received with every demonstration of joy by about 600 persons within the station itself, and by a crowd estimated at fully 2000 immediately outside the gates. The various deputations from the Liberal Committees of the Middle and Upper Wards of Lanarkshire were introduced by Mr. Hamilton of Dalzell, the Liberal candidate for South Lanarkshire, in the absence, from ill-health, of Sir T. E. Colebrooke, Bart., M.P., and an address was presented by Mr. Houldsworth of Coltness. Then followed addresses from the Magistrates of Motherwell and of Wishaw, presented by the Provosts of those Burghs.
Mr Gladstone, who was received with loud cheers, in acknowledging these presentations, said:—
Gentlemen, the business on which I came to Scotland is substantially for the present at an end. That business was not the mere seeking of a seat in Parliament, and still less a desire to evoke personal honours for myself. It was to be enabled, in the face of a patriotic people, to make something like a detailed exposition of a difficult and complicated case, extending over the transactions of many years, reaching to the various quarters of the globe, and yet necessary, as it seemed to me, to be placed with unusual fulness before the people of the country for their consideration and decision. Gentlemen, after the efforts of yesterday, which were considerable, I should not be in a condition to resume that work even were we not assembled at a spot where we are of necessity, to a certain extent, in competition, so far as sound is concerned, with some of the ordinary operations of a railway station. I will only, then, ask you to believe with me that the errand which has brought me here is a most serious errand. I find confirmation of that view in the language of the address from the Liberal Associations which has been read in your hearing. These Associations feel that the time has arrived when the country should be freed from the disastrous policy of the present Government. At that phrase, gentlemen, I will stop to say that undoubtedly the liberation of the country from the present Government is a main and capital object of my pilgrimage. After the demonstration which the conduct of the present Parliament has afforded, and in particular far beyond the rest, after the demonstration which the last two disastrous years have afforded, I tell you frankly that unless you
effect that you will effect nothing. That removal of itself is but a part of the work. What will come afterwards, for those who may be selected to guide the affairs of this country, will be a matter of the utmost complexity
Party triumph is not the end, but the essential beginning.
and difficulty. Do not suppose that party triumph is the end of all things in my view. No, gentlemen, but it is the necessary, the essential, indispensable beginning. And here let me say, with respect to the kind expression that was used in one of the speeches just addressed to me, that a return to place and power is no part of the purpose for which I have come here for myself.
But for the public interest, gentlemen, what you have here stated is that you want statesmen who will uphold the constitutional privileges of the people, and the meaning of that is, that during these latest years the constitutional privileges of the people represented in their Parliament have not been upheld. It is perfectly true that they have been compromised with the willing, nay, the eager, consent of Parliament, and that is the very reason why you should long for the moment when you will have the opportunity of choosing a Parliament of a different complexion. You say you want statesmen who will maintain the national
The national honour has been maintained by boasting and by brag.
honour. Gentlemen, if national honour could be maintained by boasting and by brag, then indeed it has been splendidly maintained. But if national honour depends upon a firm decision to accord to others the rights you claim for yourselves, if national honour is the everlasting principle of equal right to all, if national honour requires that wherever strong words are used they shall be followed by strong acts, then, indeed, we are of opinion that national honour has not been maintained. Finally, you want statesmen who will be guided by the great principles of justice, economy, and reform. It is needless for me to do more than say that in my firm and sad belief those principles of justice, those principles of economy, those principles of reform, have been either neglected or gravely compromised, and even trodden under foot. So, gentlemen, this work is a serious work. It is the work of to-day, and of not to-day alone. The firm and manly purpose which has been indicated, so far as my observation has gone, at every point during the last fortnight, is a purpose which it will be your duty and your necessity to maintain in its full vigour till the day of trial comes.
This, gentlemen, is not the first time in our history when the first effort for liberty—the first illuminating ray that has spread over the land—has come from Scotland. I reflect with joy that many places in England have distinctly shown that they are already alive; but something, gentlemen, is left to you. You will have a forward place in the work to be done, in the triumph to be achieved; and it is because I believe that none were better qualified to take that forward place than the people of Scotland that on this occasion I came among you with the firm determination not to fall short in any effort that my humble energies could afford to be a sharer in your labours, and to assist you towards gaining their triumphant end.
Colonel Buchanan of Drumpellier called for three cheers for Mr. Gladstone, which were most heartily given. The right honourable gentleman drove off to Dalzell House amid hearty demonstrations of good feeling, which were not allowed to die away till he had passed out of the town.
In the afternoon the freedom of the Burgh of Motherwell was presented to Mr. Gladstone by a deputation of Magistrates specially appointed for the purpose.
During the fortnight he spent north of the Tweed Mr. Gladstone addressed on various occasions personally upwards of 75,000 people, and were the vast
crowds who assembled in various places to do him honour computed, it may fairly be said that something like a quarter of a million of persons took some part in the demonstrations everywhere evoked by the mere announcement of an intended visit. The only event in the least degree comparable to the progress of the right honourable gentleman is the historical visit of Earl Grey to Edinburgh in 1834, not long after the first Reform Bill became law, and it may be doubted whether even that memorable journey witnessed such a thrill of the enthusiasm of a nation as Scotland but the other day felt, ay, and still feels.