The Elder Statesman

  • J. T. Ward


The General Election of 1852 proved that the basic problem of mid-century politics — the personal and often emotional groupings which prevented the restoration of two-party domination — remained unchanged. Though the historic parties had never been tightly organised, since 1846 their place had been taken by more fluid alliances in which personalities were all- important. The result was weak Governments resting on transient ‘arrangements’; party disintegration involved compromising on party legislation. In January the Radical Sir William Moles worth, though expecting a Tory alliance with Palmerston, had correctly forecast to John Delane of The Times that a Derby Government would face the electorate and ‘make use of [its] decision to give up the cry of Protection’. He thought ‘a strong Government’ was vital and that ‘a strong Tory Government (supposing Protection abandoned) would be a less evil than a weak pseudo-Liberal Government’; and he despaired of a strong Liberal Government,

for [which] … there must be a combination of Whigs, Peelites and Radicals, but where was the leader to bring about such a combination? Lord John would never agree to it, Graham had not courage for it, Cobden had not had [enough] administrative experience … Palmerston alone had courage and ability for anything, but the Peelites wouldn’t have anything to do with him …


Free Trade Minor Office Liberal Party Weak Government Public Indignation 
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  1. 1.
    Molesworth to Delane, 13 Jan. 1852 [A. I. Desant, J. T. BelaneLife and Correspondence (1908), i. 129]; Monypenny, Buckle, op. cit., iii. 379; Morley, Gladstone, i. 428; Southgate, Whigs, 240.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Frank Eyck, The Prince Consort A Political Biography (1959), 149, 175–80, 185, 193Google Scholar
  3. Duchess of Argyll (ed.), George Douglas, 8th Duke of ArgyllAutobiography and Memoirs (1906), i. 379–80; Reid, Milnes, i. 473; J. Pope-Hennessy, Monckton Milnes. The Flight of Youth (1951), 19–20; Trevelyan, Macaulay, 512–13.Google Scholar
  4. 13.
    Greville, Victoria, iv. 21, 52–56; Erickson, op. cit., 332–3; Bartlett, op. cit., 290, 299–300 et passim; Benson, Esher, op. cit., ii. 437, 441–5; Sir Herbert Maxwell, The Life and Letters of … [the] 4th Earl of Clarendon (1913), ii. 3, 6–8.Google Scholar
  5. 17.
    Cf. John Martineau, The Life of Henry Pelham, 5th Duke of Newcastle (1908), 124–9Google Scholar
  6. Stratford to Graham, 20 June, Graham to Stratford, 8 July, to Clarendon, 18, to Seymour, 4, Seymour to Graham, 18 Aug., Clarendon to Graham, 27, Graham to Clarendon, 25, 3 Sept. 1853; Parker, Graham, ii. 221–4; Maxwell, op. cit., ii. 16–17, 19; Greville, Victoria, iv. 69–89. Aberdeen later considered that there was a strong case against Stratford (Benson, Esher, op. cit., ii. 456). S. Lane-Poole, Life ofLord Stratford de Redcliffe (1888), ii., passim.Google Scholar
  7. 20.
    Graham to Gladstone, 4 Jan.; Greville, Victoria, iv. 123; Graham to Lyons, 2 July, to Russell, 7 Nov.; Lyons to Graham, 18 Oct. Newcastle to Graham, 5 Oct., Graham to Gladstone, 6 Oct., to Aberdeen, 7 Oct. 1854; Parker, Graham, ii. 230–60; Martineau, op. cit, 139–72. See Christopher Hibbert, The Destruction of Lord Raglan (1961). passim; Erickson, op. cit., 336–52. Graham delivered an uncharacteristic speech at a Reform Club dinner for Napier in March, rivalling any Palmerstonian in his brash bellicosity and shocking many observers (Trevelyan, Bright, 233–4; Greville, Victoria, iv. 145–6).Google Scholar
  8. 21.
    Graham to Lyons, 12, 19 Jan. 1855; see Greville, Victoria, iv. 199–201, 218, 229–31, 242–3; Martineau, op. cit., 253; Stanmore, op. cit., i. 325; Maxwell, op. cit., ii. 55–56; Morley, Gladstone, i. 521–3, 526; Benson, Esher, op. cit., iii. 72–97. See Asa Briggs, Victorian People (Penguin ed., 1965), ch. 3.Google Scholar

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© J. T. Ward 1967

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  • J. T. Ward

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