Mr. Gladstone's reply was red-hot, and when be is red-hot
he is always over-subtle too ;—some minds heat into taking imaginary distinctions. When he had disburdened himself of a portion of his indignation, he went on to give a most singular interpretation of Mr. Odo Russell's statement to Count Bismarck, that "we might be compelled to go to war with Russia with or without allies." The sentence occurs in Mr. Russell's despatch in this form :—" Count Bismarck authorized me to telegraph to London that if your lordship consented, he would willingly take the initia- tive of proposing a Conference for the purpose of endeavour- ing to find a pacific solution to a question which I had frankly proved to him was of a nature in its present state to compel us, with or without allies, to go to war with Russia." "Now," said Mr. Gladstone, "that I understand to have been the language of Count Bismarck,"—and he evidently thought it made a great deal of difference whether it were or not. As if Mr. Odo Russell would have accepted any caricatured rendering of his own statements without explanation ! And as if it were worth Mr. Gladstone's while to suggest hypothetical interpretations suitable to his own convenience of the words of a living man, just as if he were a dead classic !—and as if he had no suspicion that Mr. Odo Russell, questioned as to what he did mean, would have exploded this difficult hypothesis ! Mr. Gladstone is always best when he is playful and calm. When angry, he invents for himself such excessively labyrinthine avenues of escape from the hands of his opponents, that ordinary Englishmen conceive him never to have escaped at all.