The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 12
The Death of Lord Palmerston
The Death of Lord Palmerston.
If great success through a long life, and great popularity to its close, are to be accepted as proofs of great statesmanship, then Lord Palmerston was certainly a great statesman, and England has sustained a great loss by his death. Such however is not the standard by which true greatness is to be measured; and the late Premier, with all his estimable personal qualities, is not likely to occupy a permanent place among the list of England's great worthies. The late Premier will be remembered not so much for any great good that he has done for his country, as by the dexterity with which he has contrived to please as page 558 well as to rule his countrymen. He will be missed more than he will he mourned now that he is gone. One of the great secrets of Lord Palmerston's success was his thorough understanding of the English character—its weakness as well as its strength, its prejudices as well as its principles. He appeared to have no strong convictions of his own, and no deeply-rooted principles. He was essentially a man of expediency; and having wonderful tact, he turned even the foibles of his country to account, and was popular because he sought to please rather than to correct. Unlike Richard Cobden, he never dared to run counter to any strong current of popular feeling, even for the sake of some great public good. To the cause of Peace he has been a great hindrance, for he seemed rather to enjoy the reputation of being the "plucky minister," who dared to give undue prominence to the fighting propensities of the English character. Not that he was naturally a quarrelsome character: he was far too good tempered for that—but he pleased the people by an ostentatious display of a "bold front;" and by the use of what the Americans call "rather tall talk." He has been spending millions of the public money upon Coast Fortifications because it has always been a popular idea in England to show a readiness to "fight the French,"—but he had sufficient good sense to perceive that friendship with France was better than war. The Commercial Treaty which he sent Cobden to negotiate with the Emperor is some compensation for those huge and costly piles of masonry at Portsmouth and Plymouth, whose fitting title for the future will be "Palmerston's Folly." With a newly-arranged Cabinet, and a new Parliament, it may be hoped that we are about to enter upon a new and more hopeful era for the cause of Permanent and Universal Peace!