In 1874, when Gladstone published his pamphlet on The Vatican Decrees, Lord Acton wrote during November and December a series of remarkable letters to The Times, illustrating Gladstone's main theme by numerous historical examples of papal inconsistency, in a way which must have been bitter enough to the ultramontane party, but demurring nevertheless to Gladstone's conclusion and insisting that the Church itself was better than its premisses implied.
The power of green plants, not even specialized in any of these directions, to absorb certain carbohydrates, particularly sugars, from the soil was demonstrated by Acton in 1889.
Lord Acton classed him with Rothe.
The Old Catholic separation followed, but Acton did not personally join the seceders, and the authorities prudently refrained from forcing the hands of so competent and influential an English layman.
His grandfather, who had succeeded in 1791 to the baronetcy and family estates in Shropshire, previously held by the English branch of the Acton family,.
The latter found him a valuable political adviser, and in 1892, when the Liberal government came in, Lord Acton was made a lord-inwaiting.
Coming of a Roman Catholic family, young Acton was educated at Oscott till 1848 under Dr (afterwards Cardinal) Wiseman, and then at Edinburgh, and at Munich under Dellinger, whose lifelong friend he became.
The Edinburgh Review of April 1903 contains a luminous essay; and Mr Bryce has a chapter on Acton in his Studies of Contemporary Biography (1903).
See Mr Herbert Paul's excellent Introductory Memoir to the interesting volume of Lord Acton's Letters to Mrs Drew (1904), and the authorities cited there; also Dorn Gasquet's Lord Acton and his Circle (1906).
At the time of the Commonwealth Acton was a centre of Puritanism.