Gladstone and War
Gladstone is largely remembered as a statesman whose objectives – ‘peace, retrenchment and reform’ – were incompatible with war. In 1894, shortly before his final resignation from the premiership, he observed: ‘My name stands in Europe as a symbol of the policy of peace, moderation and non-aggression … I have been in active political life for … sixty-two years and a half. During that time I have actively opposed militarism’.2 After his death, John Morley wrote that one of Gladstone’s deepest convictions was that war could never be a cure for moral evils.3 Gladstone’s advocacy of financial retrenchment appeared to confirm his anti-war credentials because military spending was the largest item of government expenditure. Nevertheless, his reputation as both a pacific statesman and a stern economist was not always justified by his outlook and actions.