good innings" x); and there is, in some of it, in fact, a suggestion of irresponsibility. But in his official despatches he was careful of his words; and he was beyond all doubt in earnest when upholding what he conceived to be the honour and dignity of his country. He was, at the same time, quite straightforward; foreign Ambassadors, if in doubt about the intentions of the British Government, formed the habit of asking Palmerston point blank what he wanted, aware that if he told them anything definite at all, it would be true.
As the years went on his unrivalled knowledge of Foreign Affairs, and his personal popularity, made his influence at the Foreign Office absolute; and even the opinions of his colleagues in the Cabinet failed, speaking generally, to make any impression on him, br affect his course of action.
Complaints against Palmerston related first to what we have called his public manners, secondly to his methods. The first need not detain us long. He was unquestionably irritating. He kept important and pompous personages waiting in his ante-room; he left letters, and those not always trivial ones, unanswered for months; finally, when he wrote, he frequently employed expressions which by their undiplomatic pungency roused their recipients to an ecstacy of fury. Lord Ponsonby *), for instance, told Lord John Russell that "he had received from Palmerston letters which are not to be submitted to by any man," and it would be easy to cull from his despatches to Vienna, Paris, Athens, Naples, Lisbon and Madrid passages
1. a good innings: play of one batsman during his turn.
2. Lord Ponsonby, 1770—1855, British Ambassador at Vienna 1846— 1850.
England in the 19th Cent. I.