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decade he wrote nearly if not quite a score of articles on topics that ranged from “Union with Canada” to the “Erratic Platforms of the Democratic Party.” Probably nothing that he wrote then or at any time gave him more concern than his article for the “North American Review” in reply to an article which the “Review” had printed by Gladstone on “Free Trade or Protection.” It was already becoming the fashion in a certain class of papers to refer to Morrill as “the Gladstone of America,” the “Grand Old Man of the Republican Party,” and a comparison was natural, though not entirely warranted. The two men had been born within a year of each other; each had been in public life so long as to become the Nestor of his party; both had been identified with tariff and finance. One feels that Morrill enjoyed the opportunity of crossing swords with the foremost public man of England. The article appeared in the “Review” for March, 1890, where it can be found and read by the curious, but political controversy so soon becomes obsolete that, although only thirty-three years have passed since it saw the light, the paper has already an antiquated air. Morrill was never at his best in controversy and was content to score points rather than traverse the main thesis of Gladstone's argument. When Gladstone wrote, “If America shall frankly adopt and steadily maintain a system of free trade, she will by degrees, perhaps not slow degrees, outstrip us in the race, and will probably take the place which at present belongs to us; but . . . she will not injure us by the operation,” Morrill replied, “How is it possible that the United States would not, as a rival, injure British trade by coming to the front and taking the place and primacy which at present belong to Great Britain? Their government is making ambitious efforts in every quarter of the globe to obtain an increase of its foreign trade, and, if that is now diminishing, or insufficient for one, how can it be enough for two, or for both England and America?”"
There was, of course, no question of Gladstone's candor or sincerity. The difference between them lay in their different views of trade and industry, Gladstone holding that the total of trade possible, whether local, national, or international, is not a fixed quantity, but indefinitely expansible, and that exchange of goods rightly conducted should benefit both parties.
Though Morrill wrote no book, but rejected several very flattering proposals for a volume of Memories or Reminiscences, he often dallied with the idea as he admitted in his speech to the Legislature of Vermont upon his sixth election to the Senate in 1896. After referring to his age, he said:
You will forgive me, I hope, for acknowledging that I have sometimes thought that, in the evening of my days and in the sweetness of leisure, I might be able, for the benefit of dear and long-cherished friends, to put together a snug volume of personal recollections concerning the men whom I have met, and perhaps edit and publish some of their characteristic letters among a considerable number that were once held to be worthy of preservation. Pleasant dreams of this kind now, I fear, must be shoved aside for the higher duties to which you have assigned me.
The dream persisted and led him not long afterwards to propose to the editor of the “Forum” a series consisting of selected letters with notes and comments to hold them together:
I have [he wrote] a multitudinous number of letters received within the last forty years from men of more or less prominence, which were at their date reckoned worth preserving, either on account of the authors as autographs, or that of the subject treated, and it has been my intention at some time, rather than to leave such recreation to my executors, to give the reason very briefly
* North American Review, no. CCCC, p. 291 (March, 1890).
of their origin and enough of a historical or biographical interest
| The suggestion was eagerly snapped at, and the result was the series of “Notable Letters from my Political Friends” which ran in three numbers of the “Forum” in the early months of 1897. They have been freely drawn upon for the earlier chapters of this book, for they were full of light upon persons and events. Had Morrill's strength permitted, he would have extended them and moulded them into a book; as it is they remain a pleasing capstone to his literary labors.
THE last decade of Morrill's life was marked by great and stormy changes in national politics. It witnessed the return to power of the Republicans led by Harrison, the willful extension of Protection in the McKinley Bill followed by a second defeat at the hands of the Democrats under Cleveland. Then followed the long-drawn struggles over the currency, the Venezuela explosion, the outburst of Populism and Free Silver; and the victory in the sound-money campaign led by McKinley and skillfully directed by Mark Hanna. Finally the excited decade closed with the Cuban imbroglio, the Spanish War, and the annexation of Porto Rico and the Philippines. Morrill's part in these turbulent years was that of counselor rather than leader. He was counted one of the elder statesmen when they opened; before they closed, he was the eldest that had sat among the Senators. Through all the shifts and changes Vermont stood stanchly by her Republican principles and her trusted leader. Through all the vicissitudes until almost the end he stood as stanchly by his old associates. It was not until the question of annexation arose that he felt forced to take issue with his party, though here, too, he was faithful to his earliest principles. But of that in due course. The first Cleveland Administration had been a shock to Morrill as well as to the rank and file of Republicans, and when it came to an end in 1888 and they returned to power, there was a natural feeling that the full penalty for past errors had been paid and the party had been restored to permanent favor. Something of this Morrill seems to have felt and expressed in his article on “Republican Party Prospects” in the “Forum” for December, 1888, where he wrote in a fine spirit of victorious partisanship, “The defeat of the Democratic Party, after it had been tried and found wanting in nearly every point of public policy, foreign and domestic, indicates that it has been not only overthrown, but left destitute of further claims on public confidence.”
In something of this spirit Morrill and his fellow Republicans entered upon the Harrison régime and enacted the McKinley Tariff which was destined to bring in its train disastrous consequences. Meantime the skies were bright and Morrill's fortunes were at flood. As the end of his term approached in 1890, he wrote as he had always done a few letters of inquiry to his friends, such as that of September 22d to Benedict:
STRAFFORD, WT., Sept. 22, 1890 DEAR BENEDICT: The Legislature will meet in about a week, and I must decide whether or not to permit my name to be used for longer service. But few of the members am I able to recognize as familiar acquaintances. Many assurances have been tendered to me personally that my Republican friends desire me to retain my present position. I should not like to weary the patience of those who have so long given me their support. Of course I know nothing about what the present members of the Legislature may do, as I have been unwilling to take any part in the matter, except to determine whether or not to permit my name to be used as a candidate for reëlection. This I may do if I learn that the feeling of the Republicans is unanimous or nearly so in that direction. You, of course, know a good deal about the sentiment of the people on your side of the State, and I should be glad to hear from you on this point. Very truly yours J. S. M.
The reply to this and to his other letters was easy to fore