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‘A Leap in the Dark’, 1866–8

  • Angus Hawkins
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Abstract

The turbulent events of 1866 brought to a head those party tensions deferred, since 1859, by Palmerston’s longevity. The dramatic outline of what occurred reveals the powerful undercurrents that surged just below the calm surface of Palmerston’s genial dominance. In March 1866 Russell and Gladstone introduced a modest reform bill. They proposed a £7 borough franchise qualification and a £ l4 household county franchise. Subsequently they proposed that 49 seats be taken from small boroughs for redistribution. Yet, despite its cautious character, the bill prompted vigorous opposition from a group of dissident Liberals, labelled by Bright the ‘Adullamite Cave’, which included Robert Lowe, Edward Horsman, Lord Elcho and Lord Grosvenor. Bright’s jibe was a Biblical reference to the Book of Samuel and the cave in which David sought refuge from Saul. In June 1866 the Liberal reform bill was brought down by a hostile amendment moved by the Adullamite Lord Dunkellin. Some 48 Liberals voted with the Conservatives. Russell resigned and Derby formed his third ministry. Gladstone had pushed for a dissolution, the election to be held on the reform issue; but Brand warned that this would be a fatal mistake, putting the Conservatives in power for years.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Thomas Erskine May, The Constitutional History of England since the Accession of George III, 1760–1860 3 vols (5th edn, 1875) iii, p. 75.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    T. E. Kebbel (ed.), Selected Speeches of the Earl of Beaconsfield 2 vols (1882) ii, pp. 470–89.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    G. M. Trevelyan, Life of John Bright (1913) p. 354.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    A. E. Gathorne Hardy, Cranbrook: A Memoir 2 vols (1910) i, p. 188.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Malmesbury Diary, 27 June 1866, Memoirs of an Ex-Minister 2 vols (1994) ii, p. 357.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    See T. A. Jenkins, The Liberal Ascendancy, 1830–1886 (1994) p. 103.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    Maurice Cowling, 1867: Disraeli, Gladstone and Revolution (1967) p. 42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 11.
    R. Stewart, The Foundation of the Conservative Party, 1830–1867 (1978) p. 366.Google Scholar
  9. 12.
    J. Morley, Life of Gladstone 3 vols (1903) ii, p. 214.Google Scholar
  10. 13.
    F.B. Smith, The Making of the Second Reform Bill (1966) p. 148.Google Scholar
  11. 17.
    See Maurice Cowling, 1867, Disraeli, Gladstone and Revolution (1967) pp. 166–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 18.
    Stanley journal, 6 May 1867, Disraeli, Derby and the Conservative Party p. 307.Google Scholar
  13. 19.
    W. D. Jones, Lord Derby and Victorian Conservatism (1956) p. 317.Google Scholar
  14. 20.
    Cranborne, ‘The Conservative Surrender’, Quarterly Review (October 1867), cit. Paul Smith (ed.), Lord Salisbury on Politics (1972) p. 267.Google Scholar
  15. 21.
    H. Maxwell, The Life of the Fourth Earl of Clarendon 2 vols (1913) ii, p. 334.Google Scholar
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    E.J. Evans, The Forging of the Modern State: Early Industrial Britain, 1783–1870 (1983) p. 351.Google Scholar
  17. 26.
    John Walton, The Second Reform Act (1987) p. 49.Google Scholar
  18. 30.
    Cranborne, ‘The Conservative Surrender’, Quarterly Review (October 1867) cit. Smith (ed.), Salisbury on Politics, pp. 260 and 274.Google Scholar

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© Angus Hawkins 1998

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  • Angus Hawkins

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