William Ewart Gladstone's commentary on the third Millennium.
Friday, January 23, 2009
I have been ruminating upon the installation of President Obama, which I trust will be the most interesting event to occur this year. Nevertheless the British as a nation look to the past, it appears, and it is gratifying that some attention is being paid to one's own up and coming birthday.
Today a programme of events was announced and it would be churlish of me not to welcome such a memorial, to quibble with the nature of the programme, the more so as it has been organised by the estimable folk who continue to manage the library I founded in the village of Hawarden, a library which appears to have taken on an exceptional character. I am peturbed to see one whole day devoted to the study of Mr Darwin, as though the coincidence of our ages means a confluence of our views. I have discussed this matter recently and am delighted to offer respect to Mr Darwin for his scholarship and personal beneficence; the application of his theory, nevertheless, does not seem to me to have been in every respect benign.
Indeed I would prefer such a programme to be more than a historical study, rather to be a continuation of my thoughts and scholarship. There is nothing about Homer, I am surprised to see, but a delightful plan for celebrations of Bulgaria, free once again. A peer of the realm called Lord Alton, who I believe was the last Liberal MP for Liverpool, sadly now having abandoned the party, is to lecture on the cause of freedom that I eschewed, depicting me, it seems, as the Scourge of Tyrants.
It is gratifying, once again, to see modern politicians of other parties involved in the programme, all of them peers of the realm, a Lord Hattersley, a socialist and Lord Waldegrave, a Conservative. Baroness Williams and Lord Ashdown, I note, are to represent the modern Liberal Party in the celebrations.
Yet I will pray for sunshine in June, for that is when Dollis Hill House in London is to be thrown open and the people invited in for a festival, termed the Gladstonbury Festival, a name I believe to be a pun on the Somerset town of Glastonbury. I will mark the event in my diary!
I am somewhat old now so I can be forgiven for perceiving as a little odd the report today which stated that my bicentenary would be devoted to the study of the Koran. It is an estimable book worthy of study, and never more so than at the present, a book that could inspire peace as well as war, freedom as well as tyranny; but I would wish also to see study based upon the Impregnable Rock of Holy Scripture.
WEG (Post scriptum: the images are indeed of the St Deiniol's Library at Hawarden, a village of many, many memories and happy recollections.)