"Mrs G. was practically his keeper": John A. Macdonald on Gladstone

John A. Macdonald (Sir John from 1867) was the dominant figure in late nineteenth-century Canadian politics. He held office in the province of Canada for most of the years from 1854 until Confederation in 1867, when he became the first Prime Minister of the Dominion. Although forced to resign in 1873, he won re-election in 1878 and died in harness in 1891.[1] Despite the fact that his premierships overlapped with most of Gladstone's first ministry and all of his second and third terms in Downing Street, the two men rarely met. Their most intense conflict, the negotiations for the 1871 Treaty of Washington, was conducted indirectly and at long range. Macdonald's perceptions of his notable contemporary were profoundly hostile.

Macdonald probably saw Gladstone at Westminster during a visit to Britain in 1842, when he spent much time in the Strangers' Gallery studying parliamentary procedure in preparation for his own political career, although he did not name him among the speakers he had heard.[2] Himself a fervent Conservative, Macdonald would have sympathised with Gladstone's opposition to the Rebellion Losses bill in 1849. However, by the late eighteen-fifties, their political trajectories had diverged: Gladstone was on his way to joining the emerging Liberal party, while Macdonald was committed to tariff protection in Canada. As Britain's finance minister from 1859, Gladstone was identified by most Canadian politicians as an opponent. When a deputation of his political allies sailed for Britain two years later seeking support for an intercolonial railway, Macdonald commented that their chances of success were slight "so long as Gladstone is Chancellor of the Exchequer".[3]

The two men encountered one another in 1865, when Macdonald formed part of a ministerial delegation to London to discuss the defence of Canada and the proposed union of the provinces. Probably because he was not primarily responsible for arguing the province's case for funding, he left no account of his impressions of Britain's parsimonious Chancellor. Nor did they interact during the final round of constitution-making, in London during the winter of 1866-7: Gladstone was by then in opposition and, for most of the time, nursing his wounds in Italy.

In the years after Confederation, Macdonald sought to maintain links with Lord Carnarvon, the Conservative Colonial Secretary with whom he had worked in the drafting of the British North America Act. The Dominion's Prime Minister cast Carnarvon in the role of Canada's friend in London, "for we greatly distrust the men at the helm in England who cannot, I fear, be considered as appreciating the importance of maintaining the Empire as it is, intact." Macdonald clung to the belief that Gladstone and his inner circle "are not true exponents of the public opinion of England".[4]

In 1871, Gladstone's ministry outmanoeuvred Macdonald by appointing him to the Joint High Commission sent to Washington to settle differences with the United States arising out of Britain's lack of sympathy for the North during the Civil War. Ostensibly, his selection represented an important recognition of the enhanced status of the new Dominion. In practice, Macdonald was cornered into agreeing to appease American hostility with Canadian concessions, since he was appointed by the British government and obliged to follow the instructions of the Foreign Office.[5] His reward was to become the first colonist permitted to style himself "Right Honourable": "I see no reason why if the negotiations succeed Macdonald should not be made a Privy Councillor", Gladstone had written as the Washington talks got under way.[6] However, the empty title depended upon the Canadian Prime Minister keeping to his assigned role, and it was clear that the British elite feared that he would cause trouble, although they grudgingly conceded that he had a right to defend Canadian interests. On one occasion, after writing to Earl de Grey, the leader of the British delegation, expressing sympathy about the awkward people he had to confront, Gladstone quickly dispatched an addendum apologising for having "included by implication Sir J. Macdonald in the general & irreverent phrase of Skin-flints".[7] Although the Treaty was duly signed by all the British delegates (Macdonald with a theatrical display of reluctance), the Canadian concessions required ratification by the Ottawa parliament. With his priority now the construction of a transcontinental railway, Canada's Prime Minister hinted that some gesture of British financial generosity would make it easier to secure the consent of Canadian MPs. Gladstone exploded in fury, expressing the hope that the "liberal offer" which Macdonald hoped to extort would be precisely "nil".[8]

Canada's legislators swallowed the Treaty, and Macdonald duly received his Privy Councillorship. Unfortunately, its award was quickly overshadowed by the Pacific Scandal, a damaging series of (mostly exaggerated) allegations that the contract to build the transcontinental railway had been bartered in exchange for lavish contributions to Macdonald's re-election campaign in the 1872 general election. Challenged at Westminster by Charles Dilke to define his government's attitude to the charges, Gladstone avoided explicit comment but managed to convey, even to parade, his habitual sense of moral disapproval.[9] Macdonald might not have been guilty of outright corruption, but it was thought inappropriate for him to present himself to the Queen and be designated "Right Honourable". He did not collect the honorific until 1879, after his victory at the previous year's Dominion general election was taken as wiping clean his escutcheon.

Macdonald's dislike for Gladstone produced one interesting item of historical evidence. During the formation of his second ministry in October 1878, the incoming Prime Minister needed a favour from a recently retired Ottawa civil servant, Edmund Meredith. Macdonald's people-management techniques were the polar opposite of Gladstone's. He certainly needed to mobilise his legendary charm, for Meredith blamed Macdonald for blighting his career. Meeting in the plush surroundings of Ottawa's Rideau Club, the Prime Minister launched into a well-practised routine of seeming to take his victim into his confidence. On this occasion, he turned the conversation to British politics, hoping to impress Meredith with privileged insights into the Empire's leading statesmen. Meredith was well aware of the game but, luckily for posterity, he recorded the conversation in his diary. Gladstone and Russell, Macdonald insisted, "were among the greatest scoundrels of the century". Macdonald seems to have had no particular grievance against Earl Russell, who had died four months earlier. The former Lord John had become something of an embarrassment in his later years, and the comment was perhaps a reaction against the pious tones of obituaries which elevated him into an elder statesman. But he was explicit about his other target: "the only excuse for Gladstone was that he was mad.... Lady Head had told him 20 years ago that G[ladstone] was then mad & that Mrs G[ladstone] was practically his 'keeper'."[10]  

Biographers sometimes hint that there were doubts about his sanity, but there are few explicit examples of what was probably a largely unrecorded underground whispering campaign.[11] Queen Victoria's anguished denunciation of "that half-mad fire-brand" seems to be one of the few traceable shreds of definite evidence. Goldwin Smith believed that these stories originated in the Carlton Club, the Conservative Party's London headquarters. If so, it seems appropriate that an echo can be detected in an overseas clone of Pall Mall clubland.[12]  This item combines confirmation of what was probably a  widespread slander with a useful provenance. Lady Head was the wife of Sir Edmund Head, Governor-General of Canada, from 1854 to 1861. Head was a very close friend of George Cornewall Lewis, who served as Chancellor of the Exchequer, the office that Gladstone coveted, from 1855 to 1858. Gladstone's attack on Lewis's budget in February 1857 displayed a bitterness that alarmed contemporaries.[13] The Heads travelled to Britain on leave in June 1857, returning to Canada in November. Head held Macdonald in high regard, and it is highly likely that the viceregal couple shared metropolitan gossip with him.[14]

In 1878, Macdonald's negative perception was probably sharpened by Gladstone's controversial activities during the previous three years, after he had stepped down from the leadership of the Liberal party. His campaign against the Vatican decrees violated one of Macdonald's own basic rules of public life, which was to preserve harmony between Canada's two language communities through avoidance of religious antagonism. Indeed, Gladstone's pamphlet war helped raise the political temperature in Quebec, where the Ultramontane Bishop of Montreal, Ignace Bourget, sought to impose his own theocratic control upon the province. The unorthodox Bulgarian agitation further suggested that Gladstone had broken with the conventions of mainstream public life, and certainly seemed to confirm the termination of his formal career. However, in the aftermath of the British general election of 1880, he bounced back to force himself upon the political world as the unavoidable choice for Prime Minister.

Between 1879 and 1886, Macdonald visited Britain five times, taking advantage of the increasing convenience of transatlantic travel to seek expert medical advice in London.[15] Although his visits were ostensibly private, Canada's Prime Minister was now a focus of interest, and pressed to appear at social events. Unlike Disraeli (who did once provide Macdonald with dinner, bed and breakfast at Hughenden Manor[16]), Gladstone was not markedly hospitable to colonials. In 1881, Macdonald attended various functions, including a reception "at Mrs Gladstone's" (a curious formula for Ten Downing Street), explaining to a colleague that "I had to go to them as the invites [sic] to me were as a Canadian Minister."  It was probably on this occasion that he tried informally to raise the subject of immigration with Gladstone.  With Britain's Prime Minister locked in a struggle designed to keep Irish peasants on their land, it was hardly the time or the place to plead Canada's need for farmers to open up its western territories.[17] The first encounter between the two men in sixteen years made no discernible impact upon Gladstone. At about this time, he noted in his diary a meeting with the "King of the Sandwich Islands", but Canada's veteran leader did not merit a mention.[18]

Macdonald retained his suspicious hostility towards the Empire's inconveniently durable Prime Minister. In 1880, the Dominion had established a quasi-diplomatic link with London, a newly created post with the grandiose style of High Commissioner. The first appointee, Sir Alexander Galt, adopted an alarmingly broad view of his functions, and in 1882 Macdonald had to warn him very firmly to keep out of British domestic politics. "Gladstone, if I read him aright, is governed by his hates, and is as spiteful as a monkey." A false step by Galt might tempt him to denounce Canada in "a fit of rage", perhaps warning of "the danger continually hanging over England by Canada's proximity to the United States, and the necessity of her fighting our battles". This was an echo of the defence talks of 1865, when Gladstone had engaged in large-scale denial in a blatant attempt to dissociate Britain from involvement in war against the United States. "In fact there is no knowing what he might do". In his monumental biography, D.G. Creighton argued that Macdonald was "deliberately exaggerating Gladstone's malignity" to rein in the notoriously impulsive Galt, which he successfully achieved.[19]

Oddly enough, within a few months, Macdonald's usually sensitive political antennae failed to detect that an honest stunt designed gain Irish Catholic votes in the forthcoming Dominion elections would prove counter-productive in Britain. He allowed a supporter, John Costigan, to move a set of resolutions expressing opinions on the Irish Question. These were sufficiently uncontroversial to secure unanimous adoption by the Canadian House of Commons. Unfortunately, news of them crossed the Atlantic just as Britain (and Ireland) reeled at the horror of the Phoenix Park murders. Costigan's call for an amnesty for Fenian prisoners was interpreted as an endorsement of terrorism, and the opinions of Canadian MPs on the virtues of local self-government in the Dominion's federal structure were dismissed as an impertinence. Britain's Prime Minister issued an icy reprimand, which one of Macdonald's earliest biographers termed "a polite invitation to the [Canadian] House of Commons from Mr Gladstone to mind its own business".[20]

Two years later, Macdonald allowed his resentment towards the British Prime Minister to surface during a debate in the Ottawa parliament. He was in fact attacking the opposition leader, Edward Blake (later a Home Rule MP at Westminster) whose unctuous smugness was particularly provocative. Unwisely, Macdonald sarcastically likened his adversary to Gladstone, who "always believes anything he states at the time is true. Sometimes it is proved that it is not true, but at the same time everybody knows that Mr Gladstone is a great statesman, and a saint, and a good man; and he is, no doubt."[21] The screeching sound of an over-voluble orator hitting the brakes was palpable.

It was certainly for the best that Macdonald succeeded in biting his tongue in so public a forum. In October 1884, he sailed once again for England, where he was – for the first time – widely hailed as one of the Empire's leading statesmen.[22] The crowning honour came from Gladstone himself, who offered him the Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB: Macdonald was already a Knight Commander, KCB) "[i]n acknowledgement of your long and distinguished service". Macdonald immediately accepted, adding "I am especially gratified that this announcement should be made through you, and the honour conferred through your kind intervention." Did Macdonald allow courtesy to override sincerity, or was the statement double-edged, a quiet celebration of belated surrender by a political foe? The Queen invested him with his new honour at Windsor Castle in November 1884; Macdonald recalled that Gladstone, who was in attendance, "was exceedingly cordial and pleasant", as he usually was in such situations.[23]

Yet the personal recognition had no effect on intra-imperial relations. The Dominion gave limited support to Britain's attempts to conquer Sudan in the early months of 1885, helping Sir Garnet Wolseley recruit voyageurs, boatmen who could navigate the Nile cataracts. However, for all his Empire patriotism, Macdonald flatly refused to waste Canadian men and money "to get Gladstone and Co[mpany] out of the hole they have plunged themselves into by their own imbecility".[24] This was a reasonable policy response: Macdonald was surely correct in regarding the Sudan affair as a "wretched business", and one in which Canada had no vital strategic interest.[25] 

The embarrassment of the Costigan resolutions had taught Macdonald a sharp lesson about the risks of seeming to interfere in British politics, but the creation of Quebec's first cardinal seemed to offer him an opportunity to turn the tables and prevent Gladstone from claiming any reflected Canadian glory. Macdonald had supported calls from French Canadians that Elzéar-Alexandre Taschereau, the Archbishop of Quebec, should receive a red hat. Macdonald needed to provide some sop to Quebec opinion, since the hanging of the Francophone prairie rebel Louis Riel in 1885 had aroused deep hostility to his government across the province. He could reasonably press for parity with the Australian colonies, where the Archbishop of Sydney, Francis Moran, had been elevated a few months earlier. During his final transatlantic visit, over the New Year of 1886, Macdonald mobilised the Duke of Norfolk and Cardinal Manning, the leaders of the English Catholic community, who both agreed to lobby Rome. Gladstone's second ministry had disintegrated in June 1885, and the Marquess of Salisbury was leading a minority Conservative government into a general election. Despite the pressures on his time, Salisbury agreed to use the good offices of the British government to forward the cause. By April 1886, there were signals that the campaign had succeeded: Taschereau formally joined the College of Cardinals two months later. Macdonald made it known in Canada that his Protestant and Masonic tentacles could reach even into the Vatican, but the timing of this ecclesiastical triumph caused him one concern. Gladstone had recently returned to office in Britain: how could he be prevented from claiming credit for Taschereau's advancement? Early in April, Macdonald wrote to Salisbury, apologising for the intrusion during the crisis of the Home Rule bill. French Canadians, he reported, were "delighted" at the recognition of their archbishop, "and it is of some political importance that it should be known that a Conservative Government, of which you were the honoured head, interested themselves in securing the honour to Canada". More specifically, "I don't want the present ministry in England to gain any kudos here in Canada from the fact that the appointment was made after they took office". Salisbury's reply was very friendly ("Dear Sir John"), but he rather discouraged Macdonald from any dramatic action. He had no objection to the people of Quebec "knowing that in such a matter they had our active sympathy, but we have some very odd people at home, who might I fear be scandalised if you went into any details". Salisbury knew well that Gladstone's Home Rule bill would be blocked by what was in effect a Protestant coalition, and there was no point in complicating an already fraught situation. "The prejudices of sects are very strong with us: and at the present crisis are specially acute."[26] In reality, there was little danger that Gladstone would attempt to cash in on Taschereau's elevation, even if he aware of it. Opponents clamoured that Home Rule would mean Rome Rule, and it would have been supremely foolish to have boasted at that moment that he was in alliance with the Pope.

In June 1886, Macdonald's Dominion suddenly faced a new threat, one which he feared made Gladstone once again a menace to the country's future. Since their province had only reluctantly accepted Confederation in 1867, Nova Scotians were easily persuaded that Ottawa was to blame for their problems (such as the sacrifice of their fisheries to the United States in 1871). In 1886, they elected a local administration which aimed to secede from the Dominion and recover their pre-1867 status as a self-governing British colony. Macdonald feared that this regional discontent might become entangled with Gladstone's new-found enthusiasm for devolution in Ireland. When the defeat of the Home Rule bill forced a British general election that summer, he fervently hoped for a Unionist victory. "If Gladstone succeeds, Heaven knows what he may do, if a petition is presented [from the Nova Scotian legislature] to the Queen asking for relief and separation." Here, once again, Macdonald surely allowed paranoid suspicion to overcome common sense. Gladstone argued that an Irish parliament would create harmony within the United Kingdom. His campaign could hardly be helped by a separatist movement using the devolved legislature to launch a bid for outright secession. Fortunately for Macdonald's peace of mind, the British Liberals were defeated, and Nova Scotian discontent faded away.[27] In 1890, a year before his death, his fears were reignited as Canada once again confronted an unfriendly United States. Lord Salisbury's Unionist administration gave the Dominion solid diplomatic support but, with another British election on the horizon, Canada's ageing Prime Minister was alarmed by the prospect that Gladstone might once again return to office: "he will sacrifice Canada without scruple".[28] In fact, Gladstone's last government, from 1892 to 1894, had none of the incentives of twenty years earlier to abandon Canada to the Americans. Macdonald's fears had been without foundation.

John A. Macdonald's antipathy was in part the product of his fervent Conservative partisanship, as he showed in conflating Edward Blake with Gladstone in 1884, and in seeking to block any possible (if unlikely) claim by Britain's Liberal party for the credit of securing Taschereau's red hat. By contrast, Canadians in general subscribed to the myth of Gladstone as a great statesman. His death in 1898 was marked by a unanimous vote of condolence in the Ottawa House of Commons, proposed in an eloquent speech by Laurier, with brief support from Charles Tupper, Macdonald's latest successor as Conservative leader. Speaking in the name of the Canadian Irish, John Costigan, whose resolutions had aroused Gladstone's scorn sixteen years earlier, called him "in most respects the most commanding and wonderful personality of the 19th century".[29] Two notable twentieth-century members of Canada's Liberal party, Mackenzie King and Paul Martin Senior, took Gladstone – or, more accurately, Morley's portrayal of him – as models for their own political careers.[30]

Although, in the Pacific Scandal, Macdonald made his own problems, he did have reason to resent the position he had been forced into during the Treaty of Washington negotiations, and most of Canada's leaders from the eighteen-sixties were alienated by Gladstone's parsimonious hostility to their ambitions. However, Macdonald's distrust had deeper origins, which place him indirectly in the Cornewall Lewis-Whig camp of Gladstone's detractors from a decade earlier. Here there is an important moral for historians, a reminder of how much we do not know about the nineteenth-century English-speaking world, despite all the archives, debates, memoirs and newspapers that survive for our study. It is evident that Gladstone's sanity was the target of whispered denigration but, by definition, that covert campaign was unlikely to leave many traces in the written record. Thanks to a brief entry in Edmund Meredith's diary, we have a glimpse of a politician and a bureaucrat sharing a defamatory confidence in the comfortable armchairs of a club for the gentlemen of Ottawa. There must have been many such conspiratorial conversations around the English-speaking world, of which we know nothing.

For a list of material relating to W.E. Gladstone on this website, see "Gladstone on www.gedmartin.net" (https://www.gedmartin.net/martinalia-mainmenu-3/370-gladstone-on-ged-martin-s-website).


[1] He was generally known as "Sir John Macdonald" in his lifetime or, informally, "John A.". D.G. Creighton's monumental 2-volume biography of 1952-5, cited below, conflated the two. The best and most accessible overview of his career is J. K. Johnson and P. B. Waite, "Macdonald, Sir John Alexander", Dictionary of Canadian Biography, xii, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/macdonald_john_alexander_12E.html. My own overview, John A. Macdonald: Canada's First Prime Minister (Toronto, 2013) attempted some revisions in the generally accepted narrative.

[2] Macdonald to Helen Macdonald, 3 March 1842, J. Pope, Memoirs of the Right Honourable Sir John Alexander Macdonald... (2 vols, Ottawa, 1894), i, 14.

[3]  Macdonald to S. Smith, private, 3 November 1861, 405.J.K. Johnson and C.B. Stelmack, eds, The Papers of the Prime Ministers: ii, Letters of Sir John A. Macdonald 1858-1861(Ottawa, 1969), 405.

[4] Macdonald to Carnarvon, private, 14 April 1870, J. Pope, ed., Correspondence of Sir John Macdonald …. (Garden City, NY, 1921), 133. In reality, there was little that Carnarvon, an opposition peer, could do to frustrate Gladstone's government. Carnarvon returned to office as Disraeli's Colonial Secretary between 1874 and 1878, years in which Macdonald was out of power.

[5] For the 3-way negotiations of 1871, D. Creighton, John A. Macdonald: the Old Chieftain (Toronto, 1955), 79-188, esp. 81; B.J. Messamore, "Diplomacy or Duplicity? Lord Lisgar, John A. Macdonald, and the Treaty of Washington, 1871", Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, xxxii (2004), 29–53.

[6] Gladstone to Granville, 30 March 1871, Ramm, ed., The Political Correspondence of Mr Gladstone and Lord Granville 1868-1876, i, document 492.

[7]Gladstone to de Grey, private and confidential, 4 April 1871, Gladstone Diaries, vii, 472, 475.   

[8] Messamore, "Diplomacy or Duplicity? Lord Lisgar, John A. Macdonald, and the Treaty of Washington, 1871", 47.

[9] Hansard, ccxvii (1 August 1873), 1430-2.

[10] Library and Archives Canada, MG29, E15/7, diary of E.A. Meredith, 26 October 1878. For Meredith's relations with Macdonald, S. Gwyn, The Private Capital: Ambition and Love in the Age of Macdonald and Laurier (Toronto, 1989 ed., cf. 1st ed. 1984), 113-42. Gwyn's reading of the diary, at 139, has "scandals" for "scoundrels". Meredith refused to oblige Macdonald, and the two parted on cool terms.

[11] Academic biographers have been wary in their handling of this question, but among popular accounts, see, e.g., P. Magnus, Gladstone: a Biography (London, 1963 ed.), 223 and R. Jenkins, Gladstone (London, 1995), 470.

[12] Queen Victoria to H. Ponsonby, 4 April 1880, A. Ponsonby, Henry Ponsonby… (London, 1943), 184. One widely circulated story of his insanity alleged that Gladstone "had bought the whole contents of a toy-shop and ordered them to be sent to his house". Goldwin Smith once asked the Countess Russell (wife of Lord John) if the story could be true. She wearily replied: "I begin to think it is, for I have heard it every session for ten years." G. Smith, My Memory of Gladstone (London, 1904), 17-18. Gladstone's colleagues seem to have made a joke of their leader's mental state. "Gladstone is mad," Robert Lowe was reported to have said in 1872, "but he is cleverer in his madness than almost any other man in his sane mind." J. Vincent, ed., A Selection from the Diaries of … Edward Henry Stanley … (London, 1994), 99 (13 February 1872).

[13] R. Shannon, Gladstone, i: 1809-1865 (London, 1982), 331-2. Lord Stanley recalled the episode 8 years later: "he attacked Sir G. Lewis on a financial question of no great moment, with bitterness rarely equalled in parliament". J. Vincent, ed., Disraeli, Derby and the Conservative Party … (Hassocks, Sussex, 1978), 216 (12 May 1864), and 252 for speculations about insanity in the Gladstone family.

[14] Macdonald's first wife died in December 1857. Head supported him as he struggled on as head of a ministry weakened by a poor general election result: https://www.gedmartin.net/published-work-mainmenu-11/149-john-a-macdonald-provincial-premier.

[15] In relying upon Dr Andrew Clark, Macdonald shared a doctor with Gladstone.

[16] Disraeli found the overnight visit exhausting, but felt that it would have been wrong to have ignored Canada's Prime Minister, especially as Queen Victoria had failed to invite him to dinner.  He found Macdonald "gentlemanlike, agreeable, and very intelligent, a considerable man, with no Yankeeisms except a little sing-song occasionally at the end of a sentence". Disraeli was also struck by the resemblance between them: Macdonald was sometimes mistaken for him. Marquis of Zetland, ed., The Letters of Disraeli to Lady Bradford and Lady Chesterfield (2 vols, London, 1929), ii, 236-7 (2 September 1879). Disraeli referred to his visitor as "[t]he Prime Minister of the Dominion of Canada". His editor did not trouble to check the name, and hence Macdonald was omitted from the index.

[17] Archives of Ontario, Campbell Papers, F23, Macdonald to A. Campbell, 12 July 1881; Creighton, John A. Macdonald: the Old Chieftain, 314-15.

[18] Gladstone Diaries, x, 93.

[19] Creighton, John A. Macdonald: the Old Chieftain, 328.

[20] Creighton, John A. Macdonald: the Old Chieftain, 333-4; Pope, Memoirs of the Right Honourable Sir John Alexander Macdonald, ii, 229.

[21] Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 18 January 1884, 25.

[22] Lord Lorne, who had served as Governor-General between 1878 and 1883, claimed that "no one, except a foreign potentate, had ever had such a reception". It may also be noted that Macdonald's visit was very definitely to England: he showed no interest in returning to the land of his birth, having left Scotland as a child of 5. Creighton, John A. Macdonald: the Old Chieftain, 391-3.

[23]  The exchange of letters was on 15 November, and the investiture was on the 25th. Pope, Memoirs of the Right Honourable Sir John Alexander Macdonald, ii, 209-10. Gladstone regarded the Grand Cross of the Bath as a mark of true distinction. In 1893, he criticised Salisbury's Conservative ministry "for distributing G.C.B.'s broadcast before leaving office, among men who had no claim to them, and did not expect them". A. Briggs, ed., Gladstone's Boswell… (Brighton, 1984), 78.

[24] Macdonald to C. Tupper, 12 March 1865, Pope, ed., Correspondence of Sir John Macdonald, 338.

[25] Canada would similarly refuse to support Britain during the Chanak incident of 1922, and the Suez crisis of 1956.

[26] D.C. Lyne, "Sir John A. Macdonald and the Appointment of Canada’s First Cardinal", Journal of Canadian Studies, ii (1967), 58-60; Pope, ed., Correspondence of Sir John Macdonald, 377-8. Macdonald wrote from Ottawa on 9 April; Lynes dated Salisbury's reply to 25 April 1886, which seems more likely than Pope's reading of the 15th. The only person who did not share the general pleasure at the elevation of Canada's first cardinal was Taschereau himself, who lived a humble lifestyle. N. Voisine, "Taschereau, Elzéar-Alexandre", Dictionary of Canadian Biography, xii: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/taschereau_elzear_alexandre_12E.html.

[27] Macdonald to Lord Lansdowne, 1 July 1886, Creighton, John A. Macdonald: the Old Chieftain, 456.

[28] Macdonald to G. Stephen, private, 10 November 1890, Creighton, John A. Macdonald: the Old Chieftain, 547.

[29] Tupper was Macdonald's 4th successor as Conservative leader: his ascendancy over the party had made it challenging for colleagues to take his place. Debates of the Canadian House of Commons, 26 May 1898, 6115-22: https://parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC0803_02/1046?r=0&s=2

[30] R.M. Dawson, William Lyon Mackenzie King, i... (London, 1958), 28; J.W. Pickersgill, The Mackenzie King Record, i..., (Toronto, 1960), 356; P. Martin, A Very Public Life, i ... (Ottawa, 1983), 12.