PALMERSTON AND GLADSTONE
house of a Portuguese Jew, bom in Gibraltar, and a British subject, Don Pacifico. Don Pacifico made a claim against the Greek government for compensation, and demanded no less than £ 32.000. Lord Palmerston vehemently supported this claim, and when the Greek government, "very poor and very dilatory", hesitated, he ordered the British fleet to the Piraeus. This action was the more questionable as France and Russia were friendly to Greece and nothing less than a European war was risked for the sake of the doubtful Englishman's ridiculously inflated claim. When the question was at last settled by arbitration Don Pacifico was adjudged about one thirtieth of the sum he had originally demanded. "He had, it seems, charged in his bill one hundred and fifty pounds sterling for a bedstead, thirty pounds for the sheets of the bed, twenty-five pounds for two coveriets, and ten pounds for a pillow-case. Cleopatra might have been contented with bed-furniture so luxurious as Don Pacifico represented himself to have in his common use. The jewellery of his wife and daughters he estimated at two thousand pounds. He gave no vouchers for any of these claims, saying that all his papers had been destroyed by the mob. It seemed too that he had always lived in a humble sort of way, and was never supposed by his neighbours to possess such splendour of ornament and household goods." (Justin McCarthy, A History of our own Times).
It was in June 1850, after the question had occupied the attention, and occasionally shaken the nerves, of the world over a period of three years, that the House of Commons had "a fulldress debate" upon it, in which Palmerston secured a great victory and established his reputation as a party-leader.
The fourth fragment, finally, (d) is the peroration of Gladstone's speech later in the same debate. It is evidence of the hostility with which some of the best and noblest minds in English politics regarded the unmoral chauvinism of Palmerston's foreign policy. Gladstone, who years afterwards (see vol. II) was to carry the religious fervour of the age victoriously into the domain of foreign politics which first Palmerston, then Disraeli had barred to it, is here seen preluding upon his later triumphs in an utterance which loses nothing in beauty and nobility from the fact that it could not turn the tide against the Foreign Secretary.