« EdellinenJatka »
IN forming an Administration in the summer of 1846, Lord John did not encounter the difficulty, which frustrated his efforts in the previous December, arising from the hostility to Lord Palmerston both at home and abroad. Lord Palmerston, however, had hardly resumed his seat in his old office when the storm was renewed in its former fury. A long negotiation had taken place during the preceding years between the Courts and Governments of France and England in reference to the marriage of the young Queen of Spain and her sister the Infanta. It was virtually arranged that a husband for the Queen should be selected from among the descendants of Philip V., and that, when the Queen was married and had issue, her sister's hand should be given to a younger son of Louis Philippe, the Duc de Montpensier. This arrangement did not satisfy the ambition of the Queen's mother; she was on bad terms with the sons of Don Francis, the only available descendants of Philip V, and she decided on boldly offering her daughter's hand to Leopold of Saxe Coburg, who, as brother of the King of Portugal, nephew to the King of Belgium, and cousin to Prince Albert, was allied with reigning families of influence. Mr. Bulwer, the British Minister at VOL. II. • A
the Court of Madrid, incurred Lord Aberdeen's censure by conniving at and approving this offer. Disavowed by England and opposed by France, the proposal came to nothing; and, when the change of Government took place in England in June 1846, the negotiation for the disposal of the hand of the Queen of Spain was not concluded.
On July 19, a few days after his return to the Foreign Office, Lord Palmerston wrote a despatch to Mr. Bulwer enumerating the available candidates for the Queen of Spain's hand—among whom he included Prince Leopold—and adding that Her Majesty's Government only wished the choice to fall on the one most likely to secure the happiness of the Queen and the welfare of the Spanish people. He went on to denounce arbitrary government in Spain, and to intimate a hope that no time would be lost in returning to the ways of the constitution and to obedience to the law. It has perhaps never been noticed that this famous despatch was dated on a Sunday. Lord John received it just as he was going to church.
I read in over in a hurry; it did not strike me at the moment that there was anything objectionable in it, and I sent it back. If I had not gone to church, and paid more attention to it, it would not have gone."
On the following morning Lord Palmerston handed a copy of the despatch to M. Jarnac, the French chargé d'affaires in London, who at once transmitted it to Paris. Louis Philippe, angry beyond control at finding the Prince of Coburg's name among the recognised candidates for the Queen's hand, considered, with some reason, that the English were departing from their engagement, and that he was consequently liberated from his own. Instead, therefore, of postponing the Montpensier marriage till the Queen of Spain had children, he decided to press forward the marriages of Queen and Infanta simultaneously. And it so happened that Lord Palmerston's
1 This is said by Mr. Greville on Lord John's own authority (Memoirs, 2nd Series, iii. 298).
despatch, while rousing his anger, furnished him with the means of procuring his revenge. For, while the first part of it was unpalatable to France, the second part" was likely to be equally intolerable to Spain. Knowing this, Louis Philippe forwarded a copy of the document to the Queen-mother, and urged her to save herself from British interference by leaning on France. The event showed that he rightly understood Queen Christina’s character. A return to the ways of the constitution seemed to her to indicate the threat of a new revolution. She at once decided to withdraw her objection to her elder daughter’s marriage with the Duke of Cadiz, and to celebrate the two marriages together and as soon as possible.
The usual excuse urged in Lord Palmerston’s behalf is that, in naming Prince Leopold as one of the candidates for the Queen’s hand, he stated a fact without enunciating a policy. The excuse is impossible to any one who has compared Lord Palmerston’s private correspondence with his public despatches ; because, while publicly he was only mentioning the Prince as a possible candidate, in private he was expressing his preference for him, and a desire to stop the Montpensier marriage altogether. And Lord ]olm’s private papers confirm this view. For on the nth of August, before the eflects of the despatch of the 19th of July were known, Lord Palmerston forwarded to Lord John a public despatch and a private letter from Mr. Bulwer, and added-
The whole of the despatch, with the exception of one single passage, goes strongly to show that Prince Leopold ought to accept the Queen’s hand, upon the condition that the Infanta shall not marry afterwards a French Prince ; and it would seem from Bulwer’s despatch that such a condition would be agreed to by Christina, Rianzares, and lstnritz, who at present have the whole of such questions under their control.
Thus Mr. Bulwer and Lord Palmerston were playing for the marriage which Louis Philippe disliked, and plotting against the marriage which Louis Philippe desired. Thus, too, Lord ]ohn’s presence at church on the 19th of July enabled Lord
Palmerston to play a trump card, which influenced the whole game.
At the beginning of September the Cabinet learned the full consequences of this fatal policy; and on the 14th of that month it authorised Lord Palmerston to express its deep regret and extreme surprise at the alleged decision of the Spanish Government to celebrate simultaneously the two marriages. The Cabinet at which this note was agreed upon was held at The Grove (Lord Clarendon's), and there was some difference of opinion whether any remonstrance should be drawn up or not. One member who was present understood that it was ultimately
decided to say no more, and to leave the Spaniards to marry as they pleased, taking credit to ourselves for non-interference. Instead of this a strong remonstrance is presented at Madrid. Now, don’t suppose that I object to the remonstrance: I do not think that I should have done it myself, but I am not prepared to say that it is wrong. But the course adopted by the Foreign Office is more hostile than that which you concurred in at The Grove. . . . There is the more or less hostile course : the less is one five of us preferred, the more comes from Palmerston]."
On September 22, four days after the date of this remonstrance, Mr. Wood wrote a long letter to Lord John—
to impress upon you the necessity of taking more into your own hands the direction of the detailed steps of foreign matters with France. I am afraid, not only from what you said to me yourself, but from what I have heard from others, that, in our two months of office, a state of hostile feeling between the Ministers of the two countries has been created. They certainly have behaved very ill. But I confess that I have a misgiving that we are not free from blame; and this not so much in overt acts done by us as a Government, as by the mode and manner of what has been done and not done. . . . Therefore and for these reasons I press upon you to look to these things yourself. I see no other remedy. The Cabinet cannot interfere, for the mischief is done before we hear of anything; and a Cabinet is too cumbersome a machine for such work. Nobody can do it but yourself: and it is no easy matter, I
* Mr. Wood to Lord John Russell, September 18, 1846.
am well aware, for you. . . . In our conversation on foreign matters I mentioned to you how much Lord Grey directed the course of the Foreign Office, and even then he had no little trouble in appeasing the irritation in the minds of the Foreign Ministers which Palmerston somehow or another had caused. I quite admit the truth of your observation that it is much more difficult for you than for him to do [so]. Nevertheless, nobody but you can do anything, and it seems to me to be essential to the Government that it should be done.
Lord John hardly needed this advice. From the first formation of his Government he exerted his direct control in every department;" and this control was so effectual that Lord Clarendon believed and declared that Lord ‘Palmerston's independent action in the Foreign Office has received a complete and final check.” But, while he endeavoured to maintain a sufficient control, and while he certainly disapproved some of his colleague's actions, and regretted some of his phrases, he gave him the loyal support which all great men accord to those from whom they expect loyal service. With some indiscretion, the French Government carried to the Prime Minister their complaints against the Foreign Secretary. Here is Lord John's reply:–
WIMBLEDON: October 26, 1846.
MY DEAR COUNT JARNAC,-I received when I was at Hatfield the letters you were so good as to write to me, enclosing one from M. Guizot to yourself. I thought it right, especially as you had offered to send it through Lord Palmerston, to give him an opportunity of reading a letter in which he was mentioned in terms so unreserved.
To commence, however, with the general discussion into which M. Guizot enters, I must, in the first place, declare that I can by no means agree to the statement that the French Government have done nothing but what they had announced beforehand.
* ‘X. said, “Lord John was well disposed to interfere in foreign affairs, and indeed as a Prime Minister ought in every department” (Greville, 2nd series, ii. 410). Lord John's correspondence with his colleagues shows very clearly how close a supervision he exercised over all the offices. I do not know who X. is in Mr. Greville's memoirs, but there is some evidence to indicate that he is Lord Tavistock. -
* Greville, 2nd series, ii. 423.