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Fallible infallibility? Gladstone's anti-Vatican pamphlets in the light of Mill's On Liberty.

Scarre, Geoffrey (2016) 'Fallible infallibility? Gladstone's anti-Vatican pamphlets in the light of Mill's On Liberty.', Victorian literature and culture., 44 (02). pp. 223-237.


When W. E. Gladstone published in November 1874 his spirited pamphlet The Vatican Decrees in their Bearing on Civil Allegiance: A Political Expostulation, he seems to have taken many people by surprise. In its issue of the 21st of that month, Punch printed a cartoon, “An Unexpected Cut” (Figure 1) which portrayed the “Hawarden woodcutter” laying an axe to the stout trunk of a tree labelled “Papal Infallibility,” under the bemused gaze of Mr Punch. To the latter's remark “We didn't expect to find you cutting at that tree, you know,” the ex-Prime Minister dourly retorts: “All right, Mr Punch! I choose my own Trees, and my own Time!” In Gladstone's view, the time was ripe to take a stand against the recent pretensions of the Roman Catholic Church, under the leadership of its aging pontiff Pius IX, to exercise an absolute and unchallengeable authority over the consciences and actions of Catholics.

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Publisher statement:Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 This paper has been published in a revised form, subsequent to editorial input by Cambridge University Press, in 'Victorian Literature and Culture' (44 (02) 2016 223-237), published by Cambridge University Press.
Date accepted:15 December 2014
Date deposited:16 November 2015
Date of first online publication:10 May 2016
Date first made open access:No date available

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