The most striking new political personality of the 1880s was Lord Randolph Churchill (1849-95), the expositor of 'Tory Democracy' .1 The meteoric career of the 'Grand Young Man' was substantially concentrated within this one decade. Churchill, the younger son of the seventh Duke of Marlborough, had entered Parliament for the family borough of Woodstock in 1874; but he did not come to the fore until the Gladstone Government took office in 1880. The audacious and humorous sallies of the group which became known as the 'Fourth Party'- it comprised Churchill, Sir Henry Drummond Woolf, J. E. Gorst, and A. J. Balfour - then began to attract national notice. Despite their nickname the quartet remained within the Conservative ranks; but they were dissatisfied with what they rightly regarded as the feeble opposition offered to Gladstone by Sir Stafford Northcote and other Conservative leaders in the Commons. Churchill led the Fourth Party in Gladstone-baiting, to the dismay of Gladstone's admiring private secretary. 'Its aim is to turn into ridicule grave statements of Mr. Gladstone and others; to scoff and laugh; to "draw" the Prime Minister; to lay a trap for the Government; to have in short a bit of "sport"; to get up a row; to provoke a scene.'Z
Churchill was overflowing with restless energy. He became a popular platform speaker, even though he remained aristocratically aloof. His speeches were polished, colourful, amusing, and consequently widely reported. But their content remained limited, and much less original than their presentation. Nevertheless, simply by his activity on behalf of Tory Democracy Churchill played a vital part in putting the Conservative Party in touch with the mass electorate. 'He made the people believe in us.' Churchill's health was never good, and this made him often irritable in his dealings with colleagues. But by the time of his appointment as Secretary of State for India in 1885 he had become accepted as a major figure in the Conservative leadership. When he took office as Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1886, however, he soon showed himself to be unwilling
1. See especially Lord Rosebery, Lord Randolph Churchill (1906); W. S. Churchill, Lord Randolph Churchill (2nd edn, 1951); R. Rhodes James, Lord Randolph Churchill (1959); and R. F. Foster, Lord Randolph Churchill (1981).