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HE sudden death of the Archbishop of Canterbury while attending divine service in the Church of Hawarden, as the guest of Mr. Gladstone, marks the termination of a very honorable and useful career. Dr. Benson was not, like some of his predecessors among the Primates of England, a man of great originality or wide and deep theological scholarship, but he was a man of highly cultivated mind, of large knowledge, of fine character and spirit, and of great executive ability. In several cases English schoolmasters have become distinguished prelates in the English Church. Dr. Benson was one of these. Born at Birmingham in 1829, he received his early education at King Edward's School in that city, going thence to Cambridge University, where he distinguished himself in mathematical and classical studies. He turned first to teaching, and was for some years a master in Rugby School. In this position he showed such aptitude for his work that in 1858 he became head master of Wellington College, where he remained fourteen years, showing administrative and teaching ability of a very high order, and advancing the school of which he was head into the front rank of English public schools. In 1872 Dr. Benson became Canon and Chancellor of Lincoln; in 1876, Bishop of Truro, where he showed administrative skill of a very unusual kind, and was especially successful in awakening the enthusiasm of his clergy; in 1882, on Mr. Gladstone's recommendation, Dr. Benson was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, succeeding Dr. Tait. Dr. Benson was counted a High Churchman, but he was the head of the whole Church, not of a party. Dean Farrar, who may be regarded as expressing the views of the Low Church group, said of him, in his address at Canterbury Cathedral on Sunday, that none of Dr. Benson's ninety predecessors was endowed with more charming geniality or truer wisdom. One of his first acts as Archbishop was his friendly greeting of the Jesuit teachers who had been expelled from France; among his later utterances was his unqualified assertion of the claims of the English Church as against Roman Catholic pretensions. He was catholic, courteous, and moderate in the administration of his high office. A tireless worker, a voluminous writer, and a very attractive preacher, Dr. Benson's qualities of character dignified his position and won the respect of all schools within the Established Church, and of men of other churches as well.
Lord Rosebery gave England a great surprise and the Liberal party a distinct shock on Wednesday of last week by the publication of a letter in which he announced that, finding himself "in apparent difference with the considerable mass of the Liberal party on the Eastern question, and in some conflict with the opinion of Mr. Gladstone, who must necessarily always exercise a matchless authority with the party," and meeting also lack of support, he had decided to resign the leadership of the Liberal party.
Various explanations of Lord Rosebery's act have been put forward by the English press, but there is general agreement of opinion that the difference of view between Mr. Gladstone and himself as regards the Armenian question was the occasion of his resignation rather than its cause, and this view is confirmed by a speech delivered by Lord Rosebery in Edinburgh on Friday night. Mr. Gladstone had proposed the return of the English Minister from Constantinople by way of withdrawing countenance and escaping responsibil ity, declaring at the same time that he did not believe that Europe or any part of Europe would make war to insure the continuance of the massacres. If, however, he said, any State should offer to defend Turkey's right to massacre her subjects, it would then be time enough for England to withdraw without the exercise of force, leaving her solemn protest on record. Lord Rosebery declared that the course proposed by Mr. Gladstone would lead to humiliation; that, in his judgment, Great Britain was not bound by the Cyprus convention to interfere in Turkey; and that he was emphatically opposed to isolated action by England on the Turkish question, because such action would involve European war. He then went on to say that this difference of opinion on the Eastern question was only one of a series of incidents which had led to his resignation of the leadership of the Liberal party. His Government in its early days had been defeated by its own followers; the policy he had suggested for the election had not been adopted; internal differences had divided the party; and his action was so hampered that it was impossible longer to hold a position of which he did not possess the full authority.
Lord Rosebery's difference with Mr. Gladstone is not sufficiently important to have caused the resignation, for Mr. Gladstone had carefully qualified his suggestion so as to make it clear that he was as unwilling as Lord Rosebery to provoke a European war. Lord Rosebery's position has been almost untenable for a long time past. He was at the great disadvantage while he was the head of the Liberal Ministry of being at the head of the House of Lords instead of the House of Commons. In the Upper House he was surrounded by a hopelessly hostile majority, separated almost by a dead-wall from the country at large; in the House of Commons, on the other hand, where the real leadership of the party must always be, he was dependent upon Sir William Harcourt, who was out of sympathy with, if not actually unfriendly to, him. The latter is one of the most skillful politicians and parliamentarians in Englanda man of great readiness and resource, who was also a candidate for the position of Premier, and who was not slow to use the immense advantage of his place as the Liberal leader in the Lower House. Lord Rosebery, who is a versatile, brilliant, able, and probably disinterested man, was under the great disadvantage, from the start, of following the most brilliant political leader in modern English history. He found a divided party, a decreasing majority in the House of Parliament, and a general election close