Robert Cecil, 3rd Marquis of Salisbury — The Man who Stayed too Long
The first twentieth-century Prime Minister was quintessentially a nineteenth-century figure. Yet few people had more influence on the subsequent turn of events, extending almost to the end of the new century, than Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquis of Salisbury (1830–1903). Three developments, in particular, owe more to him than any other single person. Firstly, the dominance during most of the twentieth century of the Conservative Party, of which he — rather than the more celebrated Disraeli — was the main architect. Secondly, the persistence of the Irish problem until our own day, which may well be traced back to his refusal to agree a bipartisan policy with Gladstone over Home Rule. Thirdly — but more contentiously — his veto of an Anglo-German alliance, as late as 1901, has been blamed, notably by Julian Amery in his biography of Joseph Chamberlain, as leading to the First World War and, by implication, to all the horrors which came after (Amery 1969, p.158).
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