It is difficult for any one who has not tried to write a work of this kind to anticipate the difficulties through which it carried out, inasmuch as its proportions are being constantly changed according to the materials the writer receives.

My first idea was to sketch Lord Palmerston as I have sketched Mr. Canning in Historical Characters.' But when the large collection of private letters from which I have quoted was placed in my hands, these letters were so characteristic of the writer, and so good as letters, that I thought they ought to find a place in his biography. I still, however, contemplated finishing the work in two volumes when I was put in possession of a very extensive private correspondence,* connected with foreign affairs, and this

* I should say that the value of this hitherto unpublished correspondence consists in its showing not merely the outside which is contained in official documents, but the inside of public affairs for a very long period of time. From the letters of Lord Palmerston I have copied freely; from the letters to Lord Palmerston I have merely selected a very few, which neither the persons who wrote them nor their friends could feel the slightest dislike to see in print.

at a time when foreign affairs had become of intense interest. I found it again necessary, therefore, to extend my plan; and finally, though I have endeavoured to confine my citations to such papers alone as peculiarly illustrated the policy of the statesman I was describing, and the manner in which he carried that policy out, I have not reached further than the fall of the Whig Cabinet in 1841 in the two volumes I now publish.

These two volumes, however, comprise Lord Palmerston's early and subordinate career, and carry us also through the period during which his reputation as a Foreign Minister was formed, and his talents as a statesman first acknowledged. It begins with a certain struggle against the resistance of the Northern Cabinets to any change in the affairs of Europe, and a struggle, at the same time, against that revolutionary spirit, sprung from the revolution of 1830 in France, which wished to change everything.

He succeeded in this struggle by moderating the two conflicting extremes ; establishing a constitutional sovereign and a neutral state in Belgium, and uniting France, Spain, Portugal, and England in an alliance favourable to constitutional monarchy. This he did with the aid of France, whose restless ambition he had nevertheless to restrain.

His wish, no doubt, would have been to maintain and perpetuate a cordial understanding with this power, under whose union with England he wished the liberal education of Europe to be achieved.

But from causes which I have more or less explained, the French Cabinet had no sooner connected itself formally with ours than it began to be uneasy under the connection, and to seek the sympathy of those states against whose policy we had been combating together.

At last arose a question in which the interests of Great Britain were deeply involved; for England could not allow the ruler of Egypt to be independent of the Porte and dependent on the French Government.

The French Government, notwithstanding, aimed at carrying out, more or less gradually, this project, and only wished to do so with such cleverness as not to give us an apparent cause for offence. Lord Palmerston did his utmost to open the

of Louis Philippe's Ministers to the futility of their plans, and he had to deal alternately with M. Molé, Marshal Soult, and M. Thiers. Finally, believing he had to do not so much with the Ministers of the King of the French as with the King himself, he broke from an ally who wished (as he imagined) to make him a dupe, and successfully opposed France, with the aid of Austria, Prussia, and Russia, as he had previously opposed those three powers with the aid of France. In both cases, the policy of England triumphed under his auspices; and in both cases the policy of England was a natural policy-in conformity with her principles in the one case, and with her interests in the other.


It is not, however, to the success which attended Lord Palmerston's efforts so much as to the mode in which that success was obtained, that as his biographer I wish to draw attention.

There was nothing mean, shifty, underhand, or vacillating in his course. Whatever line he took he pursued it openly, straightforwardly, firmly. There is hardly a paper he ever signed up to the time of which I am speaking, that every Englishman on reading it would not have said, “Well done, Palmerston !"

His brave yet gentle nature was, indeed, manifest in his boyhood; a proof of which I give in a letter written by a schoolfellow, and which, coming to me too late to be inserted in the body of this work, shall close its preface.


Letter from Sir Augustus Clifford.

“Westfield, Ryde, September 21, 1870. · When I went to Harrow in 1797, the late Lord Palmerston was reckoned the best-tempered and most plucky boy in the school, as well as a young man of great promise. We were in the same house, which was Dr. Bromley's, and by whom we were often called when idle young men of wit and pleasure.'

“The late Lord De Mauley—then William Ponsonby-Poulett, a son of Lord Poulett, and myself, were fags to Althorp, Duncannon, and Temple, who messed together; and the latter was by far the most merciful and indulgent.

“I can remember well Temple fighting behind

« ForrigeFortsett »