Before he left Paris he had thrown himself with ardour into the controversy raging between the university and the Friar-Preachers respecting the liberty of teaching, resisting both by speeches and pamphlets the authorities of the university; and when the dispute was referred to the pope, the youthful Aquinas was chosen to defend his order, which he did with such success as to overcome the arguments of Guillaume de St Amour, the champion of the university, and one of the most celebrated men of the day.
But no one can permanently carry on the government of a great country by speeches from the balcony of a house in the capital, and Lamartine found himself in a dilemma.
Not only did he render a steady support to Ministers in Parliament; but he aided the national cause and promoted recruiting by speeches at Guild hall, in Belfast and elsewhere; and even when criticism of the mismanagement of the war began legitimately to raise its head in the early months of 1915, he used his influence, in the national interest, to repress or moderate its expression in Parliament.
His accession to office was marked by speeches breathing a new spirit of imperial consolidation, embodied either in suggestions for commercial union or in more immediately practicable proposals for improving the "imperial estate"; and at the Diamond Jubilee of 1897 the visits of the colonial premiers to London emphasized and confirmed the new policy, the fruits of which were afterwards seen in the cordial support given by the colonies in the Boer War.
The indignation which his appointment caused was intense; he was known only by the reputation which in his early years he had won as a violent ultra-Conservative, and the apprehensions were increased by his first speech, in which he said that the German question could not be settled by speeches and parliamentary decrees, but only by blood and iron.