The years that followed were a period of preparation by both sides for the next battle. The improvement in the state of Ireland, largely the result of legislation carried by Lord Salisbury’s Government, especially that which promoted land purchase, encouraged the confidence felt by Unionists that the British voter would remain staunch to the Union. The downfall of Parnell in 1890, followed by the break-up of his party, and by his death in the following year, seemed to make the danger of Home Rule still more remote. The only disquieting factor was the personality of Mr. Gladstone, which, the older he grew, exercised a more and more incalculable influence on the public mind. And there can be no doubt that it was this personal influence that made him, in spite of his policy, and not because of it, Prime Minister for the fourth time in 1892. In Great Britain the electors in that year pronounced against Home Rule again by a considerable majority, and it was only by coalition with the eighty-three Irish Nationalist Members that Gladstone and his party were able to scrape up a majority of forty in support of his second Home Rule Bill. Whether there was any ground for Gladstone’s belief that but for the O’Shea divorce he would have had a three-figure majority in 1892 is of little consequence, but the fall of his own majority in Midlothian from 4,000 to below 700, which caused him “intense chagrin," does not lend it support. Lord Morley says Gladstone was blamed by some of his friends for accepting office “depending on a majority not large enough to coerce the House of Lords"; but a more valid ground of censure was that he was willing to break up the constitution of the United Kingdom, although a majority of British electors had just refused to sanction such a thing being done. That Gladstone’s colleagues realised full well the true state of public opinion on the subject, if he himself did not, was shown by their conduct when the Home Rule Bill, after being carried through the House of Commons by diminutive majorities, was rejected on second reading by the Peers. Even their great leader’s entreaty could not persuade them to consent to an appeal to the people; and when they were tripped up over the cordite vote in 1895, after Gladstone had disappeared from public life, none of them probably were surprised at the overwhelming vote by which the constituencies endorsed the action of the House of Lords, and pronounced for the second time in ten years against granting Home Rule to Ireland.