Moral Landscapes: Mary Gladstone’s Reading Community
One of the most intriguing aspects of the hostess’s role was serving as a relay station for ideas and opinions generated by members of her intellectual community. Like many of her activities, this one was traditional; for years, disseminating commentary had been part of the hostess’s job, especially women who, like Mary Gladstone and Annie Fields, presided over highly literate gatherings. By the 1870s, however, the rapidity with which ideas could be circulated had accelerated, primarily because, as noted earlier, the mail-train and the postal service could now be depended on to deliver letters within twenty-four hours of their posting.1 Hence the process of discussing an issue before making a final judgment was facilitated by the relative rapidity with which notes could be exchanged.
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- 6.See Masterman, Mary Gladstone, Her Diaries and Letters, 123 for information about Stuart. In her autobiographical memoir What I Remember, London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1924, Millicent Garrett Fawcett, one of the suffrage movement’s prominent figures, celebrates Stuart as “one of the wittiest and most delightful of men, equally great in things grave as in things gay,” and noted that he was “an active fellow labourer with Josephine Butler in her crusade against the Contagious Diseases Acts: he had meetings for young men in his rooms on the subject, and worked earnestly for the establishment… of an equal moral standard for men and women.” According to Fawcett, he also sought to bring attention to “the injury done to the whole of society in giving no political representation to women and by the mass of law and custom which differentiates unjustly between the sexes” (74). In his letters, Stuart appears by far the most thoughtful and politically liberal of Gladstone’s correspondents.Google Scholar
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- 14.Stephen Coote, William Morris: His Life and Work, Godalming, Surrey: CLB Publishing Limited, 1995, 145. Ch. 7, “Revolutionary Socialist” (138–61), contains a good synopsis of Morris’s political evolution.Google Scholar
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