1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Goschen, George Joachim Goschen, 1st Viscount

1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 12
Goschen, George Joachim Goschen, 1st Viscount

GOSCHEN, GEORGE JOACHIM GOSCHEN, 1st Viscount (1831–1907), British statesman, son of William Henry Göschen, a London merchant of German extraction, was born in London on the 10th of August 1831. He was educated at Rugby under Dr Tait, and at Oriel College, Oxford, where he took a first-class in classics. He entered his father’s firm of Frühling & Göschen, of Austin Friars, in 1853, and three years later became a director of the Bank of England. His entry into public life took place in 1863, when he was returned without opposition as member for the city of London in the Liberal interest, and this was followed by his re-election, at the head of the poll, in the general election of 1865. In November of the same year he was appointed vice-president of the Board of Trade and paymaster-general, and in January 1866 he was made chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, with a seat in the cabinet. When Mr Gladstone became prime minister in December 1868, Mr Goschen joined the cabinet as president of the Poor Law Board, and continued to hold that office until March 1871, when he succeeded Mr Childers as first lord of the admiralty. In 1874 he was elected lord rector of the university of Aberdeen. Being sent to Cairo in 1876 as delegate for the British holders of Egyptian bonds, in order to arrange for the conversion of the debt, he succeeded in effecting an agreement with the Khedive.

In 1878 his views upon the county franchise question prevented him from voting uniformly with his party, and he informed his constituents in the city that he would not stand again at the forthcoming general election. In 1880 he was elected for Ripon, and continued to represent that constituency until the general election of 1885, when he was returned for the Eastern Division of Edinburgh. Being opposed to the extension of the franchise, he was unable to join Mr Gladstone’s government in 1880; declining the post of viceroy of India, he accepted that of special ambassador to the Porte, and was successful in settling the Montenegrin and Greek frontier questions in 1880 and 1881. He was made an ecclesiastical commissioner in 1882, and when Sir Henry Brand was raised to the peerage in 1884, the speakership of the House of Commons was offered to him, but declined. During the parliament of 1880–1885 he frequently found himself unable to concur with his party, especially as regards the extension of the franchise and questions of foreign policy; and when Mr Gladstone adopted the policy of Home Rule for Ireland, Mr Goschen followed Lord Hartington (afterwards duke of Devonshire) and became one of the most active of the Liberal Unionists. His vigorous and eloquent opposition to Mr Gladstone’s Home Rule Bill of 1886 brought him into greater public prominence than ever, but he failed to retain his seat for Edinburgh at the election in July of that year. On the resignation of Lord Randolph Churchill in December 1886, Mr Goschen, though a Liberal Unionist, accepted Lord Salisbury’s invitation to join his ministry, and became chancellor of the exchequer. Being defeated at Liverpool, 26th of January 1887, by seven votes, he was elected for St George’s, Hanover Square, on the 9th of February. His chancellorship of the exchequer during the ministry of 1886 to 1892 was rendered memorable by his successful conversion of the National Debt in 1888 (see National Debt). With that financial operation, under which the new 23/4% Consols became known as “Goschens,” his name will long be connected. Aberdeen University again conferred upon him the honour of the lord rectorship in 1888, and he received a similar honour from the University of Edinburgh in 1890. In the Unionist opposition of 1893 to 1895 Mr Goschen again took a vigorous part, his speeches both in and out of the House of Commons being remarkable for their eloquence and debating power. From 1895 to 1900 Mr Goschen was first lord of the admiralty, and in that office he earned the highest reputation for his business-like grasp of detail and his statesmanlike outlook on the naval policy of the country. He retired in 1900, and was raised to the peerage by the title of Viscount Goschen of Hawkhurst, Kent. Though retired from active politics he continued to take a great interest in public affairs; and when Mr Chamberlain started his tariff reform movement in 1903, Lord Goschen was one of the weightiest champions of free trade on the Unionist side. He died on the 7th of February 1907, being succeeded in the title by his son George Joachim (b. 1866), who was Conservative M.P. for East Grinstead from 1895 to 1900, and married a daughter of the 1st earl of Cranbrook.

In educational subjects Goschen had always taken the greatest interest, his best known, but by no means his only, contribution to popular culture being his participation in the University Extension Movement; and his first efforts in parliament were devoted to advocating the abolition of religious tests and the admission of Dissenters to the universities. His published works indicate how ably he combined the wise study of economics with a practical instinct for business-like progress, without neglecting the more ideal aspects of human life. In addition to his well-known work on The Theory of the Foreign Exchanges, he published several financial and political pamphlets and addresses on educational and social subjects, among them being that on Cultivation of the Imagination, Liverpool, 1877, and that on Intellectual Interest, Aberdeen, 1888. He also wrote The Life and Times of Georg Joachim Goschen, publisher and printer of Leipzig (1903). (H. Ch.)