Mr Chamberlain had relied on his personal influence, which from 1895 to 1902 had been supreme; but his own resignation, and the course of events, had since 1903 made his personality less authoritative, and new interests - such as the opposition to the Education Act, to the heavy taxation, and to Chinese labour in the Transvaal, and indignation over the revelations concerned with the war - were monopolizing attention, to the weakening of his hold on the public. The revival in trade, and the production of new statistics which appeared to stultify Mr Chamberlain's prophecies of progressive decline, enabled the free-trade champions to reassure their audiences as to the very foundation of his case, and to represent the whole tariff reform movement as no less unnecessary than risky.
The pope admitted him to six long audiences in the course of two months, wrote an enthusiastic letter to the grand-duke praising the great astronomer, not only for his distinguished learning, but also for his exemplary piety, and granted a pension to his son Vincenzio, which was afterwards transferred to himself, and paid, with some irregularities, to the end of his life.
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