Henry John Temple Quotes

There are limits to all things. I do not choose to be dictated to as to who I may or may not receive in my own house.... I shall use my own discretion.... You will, of course, use yours as to the composition of your Government.

 
Context
3rd Viscount Palmerston. Lajos Kossuth was the Hungarian leader of anti-monarchists who were agitating for a Parliament. While many English people sympathized with Kossuth, his government, which had good relations with England, did not want any of the other European Governments to officially meet with him. It was considered insulting to a government if a friendly government met officially with a politician who was not approved by his own government. Palmerston, as Temple was referred to, wanted to show English sympathy with the reforms advocated by Kossuth. He was then the Foreign Minister and wanted to invite Kossuth to the Foreign Ministry. However the Cabinet had a meeting and voted against the idea which would not only inflame the Hungarian government, but would outrage all the other countries in Europe for this diplomatic insult. Palmerston then decided that he would meet with Kossuth in his private residence. When the Prime Minister discovered this plan, he sent a note by messenger telling Palmerston that he was the Foreign Minister and inviting Kossuth to his home could not be seen as an official action. Palmerston has his own political base and had enough supporters in Parliament that if he would be fired, he could bring down the coalition government. So in effect he told his Prime Minister off and dared Russell to fire Palmerston. Then he went ahead with the meeting. The cabinet was upset, Queen Victoria was outraged (she never cared for Palmerson as a Foreign Minister), the Newspapers had a field day, and all the European counties complained vehemently to the Queen and the Prime Minister. But Russell didn’t dare fire Palmerston at that point. However, with Queen Victoria’s shrewd political maneuvering and Russell coalescing support, he was able to demote Palmerson to Home Secretary and assume the Foreign Ministry himself in 1952. However, Palmerston had the final winning hand, when 3 years later, he was elected Prime Minister and he and the Queen had to make a rapprochement.
Citations

Henry John Temple, 1784-1865, British Prime Minister (Whig), Note handwritten to Prime Minister John Russell, October 31, 1851

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Henry John Temple
Henry John Temple
  • Born: October 20, 1784
  • Died: October 18, 1865
  • Nationality:
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Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, KG, GCB, PC, FRS was a British statesman who served twice as Prime Minister in the mid-19th century. Palmerston dominated British foreign policy during the period 1830 to 1865, when Britain was at the height of her imperial power. He held office almost continuously from 1807 until his death in 1865. He began his parliamentary career as a Tory, defected to the Whigs in 1830, and became the first Prime Minister of the newly formed Liberal Party in 1859.

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