Palmerston pp 55-77 | Cite as

The Revolutionary Challenge

  • Paul R. Ziegler
Part of the British History in Perspective book series (BHP)

Abstract

As the Whigs fell from power, Palmerston’s standing in the public eye began to rise. His espousal of Belgium independence and his willingness to speak out against arbitrary rule in Spain and Portugal won him liberal allies. Of course, his support for constitutional causes had to be reconciled with British interests and the maintenance of the balance of power. Palmerston’s liberal credentials were based on his foreign policy initiatives, and he only favoured domestic reforms as long as they did not threaten his personal aristocratic order. His support for the cautions terms of the 1832 Reform Act, for example, guaranteed that the electoral system was still dominated by the social elite. Nevertheless, his guarded advocacy of political and economic reforms helped him to steal the Chartists’ thunder at the hustings. However, as the 1840s proceeded, the question arose as whether such liberal gestures would be enough to satisfy the demands made by the 1848 revolutionaries. Liberal and nationalist stirrings in Italy, Prussia, Hungary and Poland, and their challenge to the 1815 settlement, tested the limits of Palmerston’s outreach to liberalism. Given his disinclination to consider abstract questions, it is unlikely that he would rush to support liberal causes without considering their impact on Europe’s stability.

Keywords

Corn Europe Expense Opium Defend 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    For a full treatment of Palmerston’s relationship with the press, see Stephen Koss, The Rise and Fall of the Political Press in Britain, vol. 1: The Nineteenth Century (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1981).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Nicholas Edsel, Richard Cobden (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1986) pp. 108, 151.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    A. C. Benson and Viscount Esher (eds), The Letters of Queen Victoria: A Selection of Her Majesty’s Correspondence between 1837 and 1861 (London: John Murray, 1908) vol. i, pp. 346–7 [hereafter cited as Victoria’s Letters]; Ridley, p. 277.Google Scholar
  4. 11.
    For a detailed study of Palmerston’s response to famine conditions in Sligo, see Tyler Anbinder, ‘Lord Palmerston and the Irish Famine Emigration’, The Historical Journal, xliv: 2 (2001) pp. 441–69.Google Scholar
  5. 13.
    Anbinder, ‘Lord Palmerston’, p. 453; R. D. Edwards and T. D. Williams (eds), The Great Famine: Studies in Irish History, 1845–1852 (New York: New York University Press, 1956) p. 338.Google Scholar
  6. 16.
    Bulwer, vol. iii, pp. 192–3; Princess Lieven to Lord Aberdeen, 29 April 1846, and Lord Aberdeen to Princess Lieven, 5 May 1846, E. Parry Jones (ed.), The Correspondence of Lord Aberdeen to Princess Lieven, 1832–1854, Camden, 3rd series, vol. lx (London: Royal Historical Society, 1938) vol. i, pp. 249–50.Google Scholar
  7. 17.
    Roman Golicz, ‘Napoleon III, Lord Palmerston and the Entente Cordiale’, History Today, vol. 12 (December 2000) p. 11.Google Scholar
  8. 33.
    Palmerston to Ponsonby, 31 August 1848, E. Ashley, The Life of Henry John Temple, Viscount Palmerston, 1846–65, with Selections from his Speeches and Correspendence, 2 vols (London: R. Bentley, 1876) vol. i, pp. 101–10; Southgate, p. 232.Google Scholar
  9. 36.
    For a detailed treatment of Palmerston’s response to the 1848 German revolution, see Frank G. Weber, ‘Palmerston and Prussian Liberalism, 1848’, Journal of Modern History, xxxv, no. 2 (1963), 50.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Paul R. Ziegler 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul R. Ziegler
    • 1
  1. 1.Assumption CollegeUSA

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