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146

PALMERSTON AND GLADSTONE

containing unpleasant truths so unpleasantly put as to be nicely1) calculated to excite the extremest exasperation in the chanceries to which they were addressed.

More serious, however, than any such defects of manner were the arbitrary and unconstitutional methods which Palmerston adopted in his conduct of foreign affairs. Within his own department he was almost as autocratie as a Tsar in Russia. The Queen and the Prince Consort were constantly complaining of advice ignored, instructions disregarded, memoranda neglected, wishes flouted*), and still more of business transacted without their knowledge, of despatches sent out as to which they were never informed, of letters forwarded in spite of the severe disapproval of the Sovereign or the Prince, and with passages which they had erased deliberately reinserted. Too much will not be made at the present day of these royal lamentations and indignations: it will be generally agreed that the young Queen, her conscientious Consort (who drafted her letters for her), and the estimable Stockmar whose counsel was constantly sought by both, were exceeding the due limit of interference in the proceedings of Cabinet government. Palmerston was justified in refusing to have his policy determined by them; but he might with great advantage have observed with more care the forms of courtesy in his dealings with his Sovereign and her intimate advisers. In vain were rules of procedure drawn up by the mediatorial •) Russell; Palmerston did not observe them. But what was perhaps most galling of all was the way in which he received the memoranda of the Court, expressed the most humble gratitude for them and the

1. nice is here used in its older meaning of 'precise,' as still often in such an expression as a nice distinction.

2. to flout: to mock, to insult, to express comtempt for.

3. mediatorial: who mediates, i. e. tries to reconcile.

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