The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

William Gladstone and Li Hung Chang

William Gladstone and Li Hung Chang

A cabinet card portrait of the English statesman William Gladstone, who in a career lasting over sixty yeas served as Prime Minister four times, and his guest at Harwarden, the Chinese statesman Li Hung Chang, or Li Hongzhang, who visited England in 1896.

Li Hongzhang (1823-1901) was a Chinese general who ended several major rebellions, and a leading statesman of the late Qing Empire. He served in important positions of the Imperial Court, once holding the office of the Viceroy of Zhili. He was best known in the West for his diplomatic negotiation skills. In China, he is often portrayed as a traitor though his legacy is subject to frequent reassessment.

During an official visit to England in 1896, Hungzhang visited Gladstone at his country seat. On Saturday 15 August he travelled by special train from Euston to Chester and then on to Harwarden by carriage. Gladstone received him in his library. According to a report in The Times (17 August 1896): ‘The two aged statesmen then sat near the window overlooking the terrace, and at once by means of the interpreter engaged in conversation, the first few exchanges being of a personal nature.’ After compliments had been exchanged, the two men spent some time together discussing British interests in China. ‘During his stay at the castle his Excellency inscribed his autograph in three books. Before his departure his Excellency and Mr Gladstone, sitting side by side on chairs outside the porch, were photographed. Mr Gladstone then went to his library and selected three volumes of his own works and presented them to Li Hung Chang. His Excellency bade adieu to his host and hostess and drove amid cheers to Chester, which he reached shortly before 5 o’clock.’ From Chester, he travelled on to visit a steelworks at Barrow-in-Furness.

Photographed by J. Addiston and Co. of 58, King Street, Tunstall.


Code: 124588
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© Paul Frecker 2019