Tuesday, July 09, 2013


A Most Painful Subject

Philip Magnus, Gladstone: A Biography (New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1954), p. 84:
But a week or two after her cure, her brother had occasion to administer one final rebuke to her for a misdemeanour by which he was most profoundly shocked. He wrote from Fasque (24 November, 1848):
My dearest Helen,

    I write to you with the greatest reluctance on a most painful subject. I have lately been engaged in arranging the books in my father's library ...

    I have this morning seen with my own eyes that which, without seeing, I would never have believed: a number of books upon religious subjects in the two closets attached to your sleeping apartments, some entire, some torn up, the borders or outer coverings of some, remaining—under circumstances which admit of no doubt as to the shameful use to which they were put.

    I do not enter into any discussion. The subject does not bear it ... You have no right to perpetrate these indignities against any religion sincerely held.
Gladstone threatened to inform his father, unless Helen gave an undertaking never again to tear up the works of Protestant theologians for use as toilet-paper in the lavatories at Fasque, or Carlton Gardens.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

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