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CHAPTER XXIV.: the crimean war. - John Morley, The Life of Richard Cobden 
The Life of Richard Cobden (London: T. Fisher Unwiin, 1903).
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the crimean war.
At the end of May, 1853, Cobden had described to his brother1854.
War was declared in the spring of 1854. Before the summer of 1855 an extraordinary series of changes took place. The Coalition Government had fallen to pieces, Lord Palmerston had become Prime Minister, the Peelites had resigned, Lord John Russell had resigned and returned and resigned again. These confused and distract1854.
It is not difficult to believe that at the time of the Vienna Conference (1855) Lord Palmerston felt that the continuance of the war was required by domestic emergencies. Strong language was heard at public meetings about the aristocracy. The newspapers talked very freely about Prince Albert. The cry for inquiry was so passionate that Lord Palmerston was obliged to assent to the Sebastopol Committee two or three days after he had expressly refused his assent. If peace had been made at Vienna, the nation would have discovered the spurious pleas on which the war had been begun. Its temper was dangerous, and Lord Palmerston may well have seen the risks to much that he valued, if that temper were baulked.
When we look back upon the affairs of that time, we see that there were two policies open. Lord Palmerston’s was one, the Manchester policy was the other. If we are to compare Lord Palmerston’s statesmanship and insight in the Eastern Question with that of his two great adversaries, it is hard, in the light of all that has happened since, to resist 1854.
It is startling to look back upon the bullying contempt which the man who was blind permitted himself to show to the men who could see. The truth is, that to Lord Palmerston it was still incomprehensible and intolerable that a couple of manufacturers from Lancashire should presume to teach him foreign policy. Still more offensive to him was their introduction of morality into the mysteries of the Foreign Office. Before the opening of the session of 1854, he presided at a banquet given at the Reform Club to Sir Charles Napier on his departure to take command of the fleet in the Baltic. In proposing success to the guest of the evening, he made a speech in that vein of forced jocularity with which elderly gentlemen give the toast of the bride and bridegroom at a wedding breakfast. When Parliament assembled, Mr. Bright remonstrated5 against the levity of these jokes and stories on the lips of a responsible statesman at so grave and ominous a moment. The war, he said, might be justifiable or not, but it must in any case be an awful thing to any 1854.
It is impossible not to regard the attitude of the two objects of this vast unpopularity as one of the most truly admirable spectacles in our political history. The moral fortitude, like the political wisdom of these two strong men,1854.
Men who had come to politics in the spirit of philosophers or prophets, might have cared very little for this terrible unanimity of common opinion. But Cobden and Mr. Bright had never affected to be disinterested spectators of the drama of national affairs. They had formed strong and definite convictions, but they had formed them with reference to the actual condition of things, and not in the air. They were neither doctrinaires nor fanatics. They had always taken up the position of reasonable actors, and talked the language of practical politicians. A practical politician without followers is as 1854.
A more mortifying position can hardly be imagined. Mortifying as it was, it never shook their steadfastness for a moment. War could never be for them a mere common-place incident of policy. If the necessity for it was anything short of being irresistible, war was a crime and the parent of crimes. They now asked where was the necessity, and what was the justification. The danger of the Russian power, they said, was a phantom. The expediency of permanently upholding the Ottoman rule in Europe was an absurdity. The drawbacks of non-intervention were remote and vague, and could neither be weighed nor described in accurate terms. This is their own language. With such a view, it was impossible that they could do otherwise than hold sternly aloof. “Your must excuse me,” said Mr. Bright, in reply to the Mayor of Manchester, who had invited him to attend a meeting for the Patriotic Fund, “if I cannot go with you; I will have no part in this terrible crime. My hands shall be unstained with the blood that is being shed. The necessity of maintaining themselves in office may in fluence an Administration; delusion may mislead a people;1854.
With equal firmness and equity, when disasters came and people were beginning to talk at meetings against the aristocracy and the Crown, Cobden would not consent to remove the blame of disaster from the nation itself. “So far as I am concerned,” he said, “I will never truckle so low to the popular spirit of the moment as to join in any cry which shall divert the mass of the people from what I believe should be their first thought and consideration, namely, how far they themselves are responsible for the evils which may fall upon the land, and how far they should begin at home before they begin to find fault with others.”9
It has often been asked how it happened that these two strenuous, eloquent, logical, well-informed men, with their great popular prestige and their consummate experience in framing arguments that should tell, failed so absolutely at this crisis in making any impression on the minds of their countrymen. The historian of the Crimean War, in a classic passage,1 has said that the answer is every simple. They could make no stand because they had forfeited their hold upon the ear of the country by the immoderate and indiscriminate way in which they had put forward some of the more extravagant doctrines of the Peace Party. They had no weight as opponents of a particular war, because they 1854.
On the whole, however, it is perfectly clear that the failure of the two Manchester leaders to affect opinion at this time was due to the simplest of all possible causes. The public had worked itself into a mood in which the most solid reasoning, the most careful tenderness of prejudice, the most unanswerable expostulations were all alike unavailing. The incompetency of one part of the Ministry, and the recklessness of the other part, pushed us over the edge. When that has once happened, a peace party has no longer any chance. Cobden described this some years later in connexion with the civil war in America. “It is no use to argue,” he said, “as to what is the origin of the war, and no use whatever to advise the disputants. From the moment the first shot is fired, or the first blow is struck in a dispute, then farewell to all reason and argument; you might as well reason with mad dogs as with men when they have begun to spill each other’s blood in mortal combat. I was so convinced of the fact during the Crimean War; I was so convinced of the utter uselessness of raising one’s voice in opposition to war when it has once begun, that I made up my mind that so long as I was in political life, should a war again break out between England and a great Power, I would never open my mouth upon the subject from the time the first gun was fired until the peace was made.”3
During these two years of disaster and mistake, Cobden could not do more than raise protests from time to time as opportunity served. The House of Commons was much more tolerant than larger and less responsible assemblies. Describ 1855.
After reading this speech, so full of knowledge and comprehensive reasoning and of strong moderation as distinguished from the same quality when it is weak, we can understand that even in the midst of their anger against Cobden and Mr. Bright, people began to feel secret misgivings that they might be right after all. “There is a growing mistrust,” Cobden wrote to Mrs. Cobden about this time, “of the durability of Palmerston’s Ministry. I have heard from several quarters that if I and Bright had not been so ‘wrong’ on the war we should certainly have been forced into the Ministry. Two letters from Delane, the Editor of the Times, written to friends of his, but not intended for my eye, have been put into my hands, in which this sentiment is expressed that Bright and I must have been Ministers if we had not shelved ourselves by our peace principle.”
Until the end of 1855 the prospects of peace seemed very remote. Lord John Russell described the state of things with characteristic concision in a letter to Cobden. “The peace of Amiens,” he said (Nov. 12, 1855), “a very disadvantageous peace—gave universal joy. The peace of 1763, a very glorious peace—gave general dissatisfaction. The people of this country are not tired of war, and do not much feel the sacrifices you speak of. When they are tired, they will 1855.
It now remains to give some of Cobden’s correspondence at this time, principally from that with Mr. Bright.
“Midhurst, Sept. 14, 1854. (To Mr. Bright.)—I am in the midst of the removal of my books, and for the last few days have been up to my chin in dusty tomes and piles of old pamphlets, a cartload of which I am consigning to the hay-loft for waste paper. Fortunately for me my mind has therefore been little occupied on public affairs, which I confess afford me but little food for pleasant reflection.
“I am as much satisfied as ever that we have followed a right course on the war question. It must be right for us, because we have followed our own conscientious convictions. But in proportion as we are devoted to our principles must be our regret to see so little prospect of their being adopted as the practical guide of our foreign policy. It is no use blinking the fact that there are not a score of men in the House, and but few out of the ranks of the Friends in the country, who are ready to take their stand upon the principle of non-intervention in the affairs of other countries. This is no reason why we should hold our peace; but it shows that we have to begin at the beginning, by converting to our views that public opinion which is at present all but1854.
“I sometimes regret that I omitted to call meetings in Yorkshire before the war began. As it is, we must wait results, which will be serious one way or another soon, if the expedition to Sebastopol has been carried into effect. My own opinion is that if the Anglo-French army can make good a landing, it will be a match in the open field for three times its number of Russian troops. But there are all the accidents of wind and weather. How Lord Aberdeen must have quaked at the sound of the equinoctial gales which began blowing last night a week before they were due. The fate of the ministry quite as much as that of the generals hangs on the result. If, owing to the weather at sea, or the climate on shore, or the dogged resistance of the Russians behind their walls, the expedition should fail, there will be a cry for a change of government. The English Radicals and Tories will alike demand ‘victims’ to appease their wrath. If it succeed, no matter at what cost of life, the ministry will be saved.”
“Midhurst, Oct. 1, 1854. (To Mr. Bright.)—You ask when our turn will come. When common sense and honesty are in the ascendant, a day for me not very likely to be realized, as I am fifty, and not of a long-lived family. You have a better chance, but don’t be too sanguine. It is very singular but true that if we look back to the originators and propagators of this Russiaphobia, they have been almost without exception half-cracked people. I could give a list of them, including Urquhart, Atwood, &c. Unfortunately we live in an age when in this country at least mad people have still a very great power over other minds....
“I sometimes feel quite puzzled when I ask myself what result in the present struggle for Sebastopol would be the 1854.
“It is scarcely possible to foresee any other result than this, unless upon the assumption that the Russian Empire is a more thorough imposture than anybody has suspected. And yet if the accounts be true, there does not seem to be a great force to protect Sebastopol, and all their Black Sea ships and arsenals, notwithstanding that the Government have had more than two months’ notice from Lord John Russell himself of our intention to strike a blow there. What an illustration it is of the weakness which accompanies the acquisition of territory by mere military conquests on a large scale. We know that Russia has more than 600,000 effective troops, and yet if report be true she cannot concentrate 50,000 for the defence of a vital point. Little Belgium could do more.....
“But I cannot convince myself that we are to have an casy victory in the Crimea. I was reading last night the account of Bonaparte’s Russian campaign. If the Russians fight behind their entrenchments now as they did at1854.
To Mr. Bright.—“.... I have no news beyond what the papers give, which seems had enough. The next thing will be, I suppose, an assault with the bayonet, to satisfy the morbid impatience of the public at home and the soldiery on the spot, and heaven only can tell what the result may be.
“I suspect from what oozes out that the Government have unfavourable forebodings. This accounts for the fall on the Paris Bourse, where the effects of bad news are always felt first, owing to the stock-jobbers being more mixed up with the personnel of the Government than here. A man who was at the Lord Mayor’s banquet told me the ministers were looking very dejected. That they ought to be unhappy is certain; and yet when we have helped to turn them out, as I should be very glad to do, we shall have done little to avert a repetition of the evils of war until the public sentiment can be reached, for if a people will be ruled by phrases such as ‘balance of power,’ ‘integrity and independence,’ &c., when uttered solemnly by men in power, you may depend on it they will always find ’statesmen’ to take office on such easy terms. I do not know how it is to be done, but I am quite sure there is no security for anything better until we can teach the people a lesson of 1855.
“I am willing to incur any obloquy in telling the whole truth to the public as to the share they have had in this war, and it is better to face any neglect or hostility than allow them to persuade themselves that any body but themselves are responsible for the war.”
“Midhurst, Jan. 5, 1855. (To Mr. Bright.)—I agree with you that there is some change in the public mind upon the war; but the more moderate tone is less to be attributed to pacific tendencies than to the lassitude which naturally follows a great excitement. There is about as much unsoundness as ever abroad about foreign affairs. A few exceptions scattered over the land have come to my knowledge since I spoke in the House. I have heard from a few parsons, amongst others; they are, I suppose, eccentricities who have not much weight.
“The break-down of our aristocratic rulers, when their energies are put to the stress of a great emergency, is about the most consolatory incident of the war. I am not sure that it will so far raise the middle class in their own esteem as to induce them to venture on the task of self-government. They must be ruled by lords. Even the Times is obliged to make the amende to the aristocratic spirit of the age by calling for that very ordinary but self-willed lord, the Governor-general of India, to come and save us.6 But the discredit and the slaughter to which our patricians, civil and military, have been exposed, will go far to make real war unpopular with that influential class for another generation to come, whilst the swift retribution likely to fall on the cabinet will tend to make Governments less warlike in future. As for the people, they have scarcely felt the effects of the1855.
“The most dishonest or most ‘incapable and guilty’ feature in the conduct of the Government, to my judgment, has been their readiness to fall into the warlike humour of the public, and concealing from them the extent of the undertaking. Even Gladstone has lent himself to the delusion that the people can be indulged with a cheap war. It is impossible to believe that the Ministry were so ignorant as to suppose that we could fight Russia on her own territory, 3000 miles distant by sea, for 10,000,000l. But really I believe Palmerston or Lord John would have undertaken to do it by contract for as many shillings, rather than not have gained the sweet voice of the multitude twelve months since.
“I observe what you say about the want of more co-operation amongst our friends....in the House. What we really want is sympathy and support for our views out of doors. We have a far better hearing in Parliament than in the country. I defy you, from one extremity of the kingdom to the other, to find a mixed body of men in which you and I should be so well treated as we were on the last day of the session. It is the want of identity between the great public and ourselves on important and engrossing questions of principle that leaves us in such an isolated position in the House. I am content to be as we are, with noting but an approving conscience for the course we pursue. Not that I am, as Parkes says, without ambition. If I had been where Sumner and Amasa Walker are, I should have set no bounds to my ambition; but my judgment told me twenty years ago that if I aimed at office in this country, it must lead either to disappointment or an abandonment of objects which I cherish far before official 1854.
“January, 10, 1855. (To Colonel Fitzmayer.)—I have again to thank you for your continued kindness in sending me the regular news of your siege operations. When I think of all the discomfort under which your letters are penned, I cannot too highly value such proofs of your friendship....
“Before this reaches you, the news will have been carried to the Crimea that negotiations for peace have been opened on the basis of the four points. It remains to be seen whether the Czar is in earnest, and whether the allies enter in a bonâ-fide spirit upon the deliberations. I am inclined to believe that all the Governments are heartily sick of the war, and therefore shall not be surprised if a peace be speedily arranged. Bu in the meantime our newspapers must swagger a good deal over the Czar, and persuade their readers that we have subjected him to great humiliations. I confess, however, that I do not see the grounds for this boastful self-glorification. It is true that you have beaten the Russians in the field, but there is always the broad fact remaining that Sebastopol is not taken. It is no fault of your brave army that the place is still holding out—the fact is we never ought to have made the plunge in the dark in the Crimea at all. Indeed it has been admitted in the House by Lord John Russell that both government and generals had been mistaken in their estimate of its strength. This confession ought to suffice to condemn the present Administration to dismissal from office; for there can be no excuse for ignorance on a point which might have been very easily cleared up before the expedition sailed. I think I could have undertaken in June last to have obtained the most minute particulars as to the strength of Sebastopol for a few thousand pounds.
“There are some points raised in your letter which I shall hope to be able to discuss with you at my fireside when you1855.
“There is now a general complaint that we allowed our army to fall to too low a standard, in consequence of the cry of the financial reformers for a reduction of the expenditure. I am bound to say that if this country adopts the policy of sending its armies to fight the Czar on his own territory, then it is bound to keep up a force commensurate with the magnitude of such an undertaking. We must become a military people like France and Austria. This will be contrary to our traditions, and quite incompatible with an economical government. I am not sure that constitutional freedom can co-exist with large standing armies. I know of no instance in which they have flourished together. However, we will adjourn the debate on this subject till we meet.”
“February 11, 1855. (To Mr. Bright.)—You made an excellent speech at the Chamber of Commerce, which at the present moment will compel many men to listen to your warnings who have hitherto been deaf to everything but the appeals to ‘glory and honour.’
“Did you see Cornewall Lewis’s speech? It was a good sign coming from the Edinburgh Review.
“But I can think of nothing else but the Derby-Disraeli 1855.
“As for the Government, unless they put on fresh masks and dresses, we shall certainly think them the same gentlemen who got us into a ‘foolish, just, and necessary war,’ as Sidney Smith would call it, and then threw away the finest army we ever had for want of staff and generals. As for the exchange of Panmure for Newcastle, we who have been behind the scenes know that the public gain nothing by that. Again and again I ask myself, in witnessing the childish glee with which the press and public call for Palmerston to serve them—are we not a used-up nation? Could any people not in its dotage look to such a quarter1855.
“As respects the prospect of peace, I am of opinion that Palmerston will be anxious to steal from Aberdeen the credit of getting out of the war. Depend on it the court and aristocracy are more than ever anxious to put an end to hostilities. They have found for the first time that their prestige, privileges, and dearest interests are more endangered than those of any other class by a state of war. It will be a blessed advantage to us that henceforth our best allies in the advocacy of peace principles will be in high quarters. My only doubt is whether Louis Napoleon has some sinister motives for continuing the war. I don’t like the tone of Drouyn de L’Huys’s notes to Prussia. They are novel in style, especially for so cautious and clever a diplomatist, and I learn from Faucher they are making a great and mischievous impression upon the public mind in Prussia.
“For my part, I can’t think of these things and to what an extent we as a people are wrong in our alliances and tendencies without most cynical misgivings respecting the future course of our foreign policy. There is positively no intelligence amongst the masses on such subjects to serve as a leverage in dealing with the abounding fallacies of the juveniles, who, fresh from college, ‘do’ this department of our periodical literature, and take either the line of our old aristocratic diplomacy in favour of the ‘balance of power’ and dynastic alliances, or the more modern and equally unsound and mischievous line newly adopted by our so-called ‘democrats’ on behalf of Mazzini and the ‘nationalities.’ There is no out-of-doors support for the party of peace and non-intervention.”
“This sham must blow up, but the press and Palmerston are so interested in not telling the people that they must do something more than pass resolutions, write inflammatory articles, or preach incendiary sermons—that they must in fact do the fighting as well as the shouting for war, that I expect they will let matters go on till we are plunged into some deep humiliation and disgrace. As it is, the French army are trying to soothe us with compliments so overdone that we cannot help seeing through the grimaces which accompany them. Depend on it, if the war goes on, men of sense will see that we must either have the conscription, like our opponents and allies, to secure a fair representation1855.
“What is doing about the penny paper?8 I hear from Sturge that he has doubts about—. He speaks of—and—. I have the most perfect confidence in the good faith of these men, but if a precaution such as is contemplated be taken that the paper shall not go wrong, I should be inclined to say that it would be as well not to have a too enthusiastic peace man as its managing editor. The difficulty is to get a daily newspaper with a circulation of 30,000 established. If it be an expansion of the Herald of Peace, it will never be established as a newspaper—at least not this year. There must be a good deal of the wisdom of the serpent as well as the harmlessness of the dove to float such a paper, and unless it can be established as a newspaper, it will not attain the object we have in view. What say you to this?”
“Aug. 6. (To Mr. Bright.)—What an atrocious article there is in the Athenœum of last Saturday upon Tennyson’s poems. War is in itself a blessing and the mother of blessings. We own to it our great poets and men of genius.91855.
“August 8, 1855.—.... I paid a visit on Wednesday to my neighbour the Bishop of Oxford, and met Lord Aberdeen, Roundell Palmer, and some others. The old Earl was even more emphatic than at the same place a year ago in lamenting to me that he had suffered himself to be drawn into the Russian war. He declared that he ought to have resigned.1 Speaking of the authors of his policy he said, ‘It was not the Parliament or the public, but the Press that forced the Government into the war. The public mind was not at first in an uncontrollable state, but it was made so by the Press.’ He might have added that—had something to do with it. I really could not help pitying the old gentleman, for he was in an unenviable state of mind, and yet I doubt if there be a more reprehensible human act than to lead a nation into an unnecessary war, as Walpole, North, Pitt, and Aberdeen have done, against their own conviction and at the dictation of others.....”
“Sept. 18. (To Mr. Bright.)—I am actually so amazed and dis1855.
“Oct.. 5. (To M. Chevalier.)—If war had not absorbed my anxieties, I should have given all my sympathies to the great industrial rivalry to which you have invited the nations of the world. I should have thought of the Champs Elysées if my attention had not been unhappily so much distrait by the terrible scene which was exhibiting on the Champ de Mars. In fine, I deferred my visit to the Temple of Peace until after that of Janus should have been closed. But I fear that present appearances are against the realization of my plan; and it is more than ever uncertain when I shall see you. Under these circumstances I shall trouble you upon paper, instead of vivâ voce, with a little unreserved chat upon the subject of the war.
“You will remember that we had some confidential correspondence a few years ago, when the state of popular feeling here towards your Government was the very opposite to what it is now; and I have reason to know that that correspondence had a favourable influence upon the relations of the two countries, through the publication of those facts and statistics which you gave me; and I wish we could now in a similar manner contribute to the restoration of the peace of the world. When in 1852 I published in speech and pamphlet my views respecting the cry of a ‘French invasion,’ I was denounced by nearly every London newspaper1855.
“I know proprietors of newspapers (the——for example) who have pocketed 3000l. or 4000l. a year through the war, as directly as if the money had been voted to them in the Parliamentary estimates. It is not likely, unless they are very disinterested specimens of human nature, that they will oppose a policy so profitable to themselves. But the people, who have no interest in being misled, will probably become satiated with monotonous appeals to their combative passions, and then the papers will change. The moment this reaction of feeling shows itself in considerable force, there are all the most able statesmen of this country ready to head the party of peace. For it is a remarkable fact, that whilst the mass of politicians appear to be so warlike, their leaders are all in their hearts opposed to a continuance of the war. I do not of course, include Lord Palmerston amongst the number of leaders, for it is a notorious fact that he never possessed the confidence of a dozen members of the House, and was therefore never at the head of a party. It is only because all the Parliamentary chiefs shrink from the responsibility of continuing the war that he has been enabled to seize the reins. All men of the age of seventy-two, with unsatisfied ambition, are desperadoes; and Lord Palmerston, in addition to this qualification, having had the experience of nearly half a century of Parliamentary life, having continued to persuade 1855.
“Dec. 19. (To H. Ashworth.)—I have been gratified by the receipt of your letter. The newspaper also reached me. It is sad to see the bewilderment of the poor people about the price of bread, but we ought to be very tolerant with them, seeing how much ignorance we meet with amongst their ‘betters.’
“The papers are underrating the effect of the drain of capital for the war on the floating capital of the country. People look at the assessment returns of real property, and they say, ’see how much more rich we are than we were in the last war.’ But this fixed property is not available for war. It is only the floating capital which sets it in motion that is available. Now, I suspect that the proportion of floating to fixed capital employed in the manufactures of the country is less in relation to the number of workpeople employed than ever it was. Am I right in this? Has not the tendency been to increase the fixed as compared with the floating capital in a mill. If so, it is a very serious question how soon the withdrawal of the life-blood (the floating capital) may stop the whole body. With interest of capital at six to seven per cent. for trading purposes, how long will it be before some of the weaker among you go to the wall? If, as you say, the cotton trade as a whole has paid no profit, there must be a large proportion that are losing, and they will break if the war goes on. Then will follow distress among the operatives.
“You hear a good deal about agricultural prosperity.1856.
When the war was at last brought to an end at the Congress of Paris in the spring of 1856, two remarkable steps were taken by the assembled plenipotentiaries in Cobden’s direction. They recognized the expediency and the possibility of submitting international differences to arbitration. Secondly they incorporated in the public law of Europe certain changes in the right of maritime capture which tended to make trade which was free in time of peace as free as possible in time of war also.
We must remember that even the modern Road-to-India argument for the defence of Turkey had not then been invented.
See Mr. Ashley’s Life, ii., 280, 281.
See above, vol. i. ch. 4.
The Sebastopol Inquiry Committee reported that the administration which ordered the expedition had no adequate information as to the forces in the Crimea; that they were ignorant of the strength of the fortresses to be attacked, and the resources of the territory to be invaded.
March 13, 1854.
June 4, 1855. Mr. Disraeli on one occasion during this period complained of the “patrician bullying of the Treasury bench,” and amid great cheering told Lord Palmerston that he had used language which was not to be expected “from one who is not only the leader of the House of Commons—which is an accident of life—but who is also a gentleman.”—July 16, 1855.
Mr.Ashley’s Life, ii, 325.
Written in October, 1854. The whole of this admirable letter is given at the end of the first volume of Mr. Bright’s Speeches.
Speeches, ii., 54. June 5, 1855.
Mr. Kinglake’s Invasion of the Crimea, vol.ii, chapter vii., pp. 69—71
Haydon’s Memoirs, ii., 273, 274.
Speeches,ii., 314. Oct. 29, 1862.
Speeches, ii., June 5, 1855.
Collected Writings, vol ii.
Lord Dalhousie was now Governor-general.
“Lord Derby was sent for to form a government, and immediately sought the co-operation of Lord Palmerston, offering him the leadership of the House of Commons, which Mr. Disraeli was willing to waive in his favour. Offers were also made through him to Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Sidney Herbert.” Ashley’s Life of Lord Palmerston, ii. 304. “Derby,” wrote Lord Palmerston to his brother, “felt conscious of the incapacity of the greater portion of his party, and their unfitness to govern the country.”
This refers to the establishment of the Morning Star. Cobden had no financial interest in the venture, Mr. Sturge being a principal subscriber. It was understood that Cobden and Mr. Bright were to be consulted as to the policy of the new journal. As we shall see, this constant reference to them was so overdone that Cobden himself warned the editor against it—an instructive warning to leading politicians who meddle with newspapers.
Maud was published at this time, full of beantiful poetry and barbarous politics, about “the long long canker of peace being over and done,” and so forth. The singular implication of the poet is that the best way to rescue the poor from being hovell’d and hustled together, each sex, like swine,” is to cultivate “the blood-red blossom of war.” Unluckily war cannot go on without taxes, and taxes in the long-run in a thousand ways aggravate the hovelling and hustling of the poor, as the state of the labourners after the war of Cobden’s youth showed. That a man of Mr. Tennyson’s genius should have been so led astray, only illustrates the raging folly of those two years.
Sir James Graham in the same way said to Mr. Bright: “You were entirely right about that war; we were entirely wrong, and we never should have gone into it.” Bright’s Speeches, i. 192. “This war,” wrote Sir George C. Lewis, who joined the Palmerston Government after Mr. Gladstone’s resignation, “has been distasteful to me from the beginning, and especially so from the time when it ceased to be defensive and the Russian territory was invaded. My dislike of it, and my conviction of its repugnance to the interests of England and Europe was only increased with its progress.” Feb. 14, 1855.—Letters, p. 291.