John Morley  

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John Morley, 1st Viscount Morley of Blackburn OM, PC (24 December, 1838 – 23 September, 1923) was a British Liberal statesman, writer and newspaper editor.

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 English 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.

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