First Edition. Two Volumes (complete set). London, Chapman and Hall, 1873. Octavo. X, 342, XII, 344 pages. Hardcover / Original publisher’s cloth with gilt lettering on spine. Both Volumes in protective Mylar. Very good condition with only minor signs of external wear. Blindstamp to endpaper: “W.H.Smith & Son – Library – Strand” / From the library of John Hoult Brooksbank, with his name signed to the titlepage of Volume Two.
John Morley, 1st Viscount Morley of Blackburn (24 December 1838 – 23 September 1923) was a British Liberal statesman, writer and newspaper editor.
Initially a journalist, he was elected a Member of Parliament in 1883. He was Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1886 and between 1892 and 1895, Secretary of State for India between 1905 and 1910 and again in 1911 and Lord President of the Council between 1910 and 1914. Morley was a distinguished political commentator, and biographer of his hero, William Gladstone. Morley is best known for his writings and for his “reputation as the last of the great nineteenth-century Liberals”. He opposed imperialism and the Boer War. He supported Home Rule for Ireland. His opposition to British entry into the First World War as an ally of Russia led him to leave government in August 1914.
Morley devoted a considerable amount of time to literature, his anti-Imperial views being practically swamped by the overwhelming predominance of Unionism and Imperialism. His position as a leading British writer had early been determined by his monographs on Voltaire (1872), Rousseau (1873), Diderot and the Encyclopaedists (1878), Burke (1879), and Walpole (1889). Burke as the champion of sound policy in America and of justice in India, Walpole as the pacific minister understanding the true interests of his country, fired his imagination. Burke was Morley’s contribution to Macmillan’s “English Men of Letters” series of literary biographies, of which Morley himself was general editor between 1878 and 1892; he edited a second series of these volumes from 1902 to 1919. The Life of Cobden (1881) is an able defence of that statesman’s views rather than a critical biography or a real picture of the period.
The Life of Oliver Cromwell (1900) revised Gardiner as Gardiner had revised Carlyle. Morley’s contributions to political journalism and to literary, ethical and philosophical criticism were numerous and valuable. They show great individuality of character, and recall the personality of John Stuart Mill, with whose mode of thought he had many affinities. After the death of Gladstone, Morley was principally engaged upon his biography, until it was published in 1903. Representing as it does so competent a writer’s sifting of a mass of material, the Life of Gladstone was a masterly account of the career of the great Liberal statesman; traces of Liberal bias were inevitable but are rarely manifest; and in spite of the a priori unlikelihood of a full appreciation of Gladstone’s powerful religious interests from such a quarter (Morley was an agnostic), the whole treatment is characterized by sympathy and judgement. The work was very successful, selling more than 25,000 copies in its first year.
Morley was a Trustee of the British Museum from 1894 to 1921, Honorary Professor of Ancient Literature at the Royal Academy of Arts, and member of the Historical Manuscripts Commission. He was Chancellor of the Victoria University of Manchester from 1908 until 1923, when he resigned. He was nominated for a Nobel prize in literature eleven times. He received an honorary degree (LL.D.) from the University of St Andrews in October 1902. (Wikipedia)