PALMERSTON, THOUGH NOW IN HIS SEVENTIES, PRESIDED OVER THE English scene. With one short interval of Tory government, he was Prime Minister throughout the decade that began in 1855. Not long after the signing of peace with Russia he was confronted with another emergency which also arose in the East, but this time in Asia. India had been basking under the administration of the East India Company, with only a moderate degree of supervision from London. The Company had its critics in Parliament and elsewhere, but their words had little effect upon its practices. Suddenly there occurred a disturbing outbreak against British rule.

The Indian Mutiny made, in some respects, a more lasting impact on England than the Crimean War. It paved the way for Empire. After it was over Britain gradually and consciously became a world-wide Imperial Power. The causes of the Mutiny lay deep in the past. About the beginning of the nineteenth century a new generation of British administrators and soldiers appeared in India, austere, upright, Bible-reading men, who dreamed of Christianising and Europeanising the sub-continent, and for a while gained a brief promise of success. Hitherto the English, like the Romans in the provinces of their empire, had a neutral policy on religion and no policy at all on Indian education. Regiments held ceremonial parades in honour of Hindu deities, and Hindu and Muslim holidays were impartially and publicly observed. But in England missionary zeal was stirring, and respect for alien creeds gradually succumbed to the desire for proselytisation. For a time enlightened Hindu opinion seemed not unreceptive to elements of the Christian faith. Suttee, the burning of widows, Thugee, the strangling of travellers by fanatics who deemed it a religious duty, and female infanticide were suppressed. Largely owing to Macaulay, when he was a member of the Governor-General’s council, measures were taken to make English learning available to the higher-ranking and more wealthy Indians. All this was unsettling, and played its part in the terrible events which now occurred.

A more immediate cause of the rising was a series of defeats and reverses suffered by the British. The Russian threat to India had begun to overhang the minds of Englishmen. It was in fact a gross exaggeration to suppose that Russian armies could have crossed the ranges of the Hindu-Kush in force and arrived in the Indus valley. But the menace seemed real at the time. When it was learnt that a small body of Russians had penetrated into the fringes of Afghanistan a British expedition was dispatched in 1839 to Kabul and a British candidate placed on the Afghan throne. The result was disaster. The country rose up in arms. In December 1841, under a promise of safe-conduct, the British garrison of some four thousand troops, accompanied by nearly three times as many women, children, and Afghan camp-followers, began to withdraw through the snow and the mountain passes. The safe-conduct was violated, and nearly all were murdered or taken prisoners. A single survivor reached India on January 13. A second expedition avenged the treachery in the following year, but the repute of European arms was deeply smitten and the massacre resounded throughout the peninsula.

Another defeat soon followed in the Punjab, the most northerly of the Indian provinces at that time. Here the warrior Sikhs, a reformed Hindu sect, forbidden to touch tobacco or cut their hair above the waist, had long held sway. Encouraged by the news from Afghanistan, and restless after the death of their great leader, Ranjit Singh, who had hitherto held them in check, they resolved to try their hand at invading the Company’s territory. In 1845 they crossed the boundary river of the Sutlej, and were met and repulsed two hundred miles north of Delhi. The British installed a regency. Three years later the Sikhs tried to overthrow it. There was a desperate drawn battle deep within the province at Chilianwala, in which three British regiments lost their colours. Shortly afterwards the British forces redeemed their name and the Sikh army was destroyed. The Punjab was pacified by John and Henry Lawrence. These famous brothers ruled with absolute power, untrammelled by the Company and splendidly resourceful. They made landowners take a threefold oath: “Thou shalt not burn thy widow, thou shalt not kill thy daughters, thou shalt not bury alive thy lepers.” They sent the Koh-i-noor diamond to Queen Victoria, and gained from the formidable warriors of the province an affection and loyalty for the British Crown which was to endure for nearly a century. One of their subordinates, John Nicholson, who was to be for ever famous as the liberator of Delhi, was even worshipped by some Punjabis as a deity. Nevertheless, among the ill-informed and ill-disposed in other regions of India “Remember Chilianwala!” became a battle-cry and a bloodstained slogan in the upheaval which was to come.

This was a period of confident expansion in India, generally undertaken by men on the spot and not always approved by opinion in Britain. Two other major annexations completed the extension of British rule. Possession of Sind, in the lower Indus valley, had been judged necessary to safeguard the command of the north-west coast. It was conquered by Sir Charles Napier, a veteran who had fought at Corunna and in the American war of 1812. In England the magazine Punch commented sourly on this operation. It represented Napier as reporting the matter in a one-word telegram, “Peccavi ” (“I have sinned”). Napier, unperturbed, proceeded to rule with absolute and benevolent power. He dealt with widow-burning by the simple expedient of placing a gibbet beside every pyre. “When men burn women alive we hang them” he said. Like the Punjab, Sind remained peaceful for many years. The other annexation was that of Oudh, on the borders of Bengal, where an Indian king had long oppressed his subjects. The Marquis of Dalhousie, appointed Governor-General at the age of thirty-five, had no doubts about the benefits conferred on India by British rule and British skill. During his eight years of office he added principalities to the Company’s dominion by applying what was called the “doctrine of lapse.” This meant that when an Indian ruler died without an heir of his own blood his territory was forfeited. Adopted heirs were not allowed to inherit, though this had long been Hindu custom. In Oudh Dalhousie was more forthright. He bluntly declared that “the British Government would be guilty in the sight of God and man if it were any longer to aid in sustaining by its countenance an administration fraught with suffering to millions.” He deposed the king and seized his province in 1856. Next year came the Mutiny, and much of the blame for provoking it was laid at Dalhousie’s door.


The East India Company’s army of Bengal had long been of ill-repute. Recruited mainly in the North, it was largely composed of high-caste Hindus. This was bad for discipline. Brahmin privates would question the orders of officers and N.C.O.s of less exalted caste. Power and influence in the regiments frequently depended on a man’s position in the religious rather than the military hierarchy. The Company’s British officers were often of poor quality, for the abler and more thrusting among them sought secondment to the more spacious fields of civil administration. Many of those who remained at regimental headquarters were out of touch with their men, and showed no desire to improve matters. Troops were needed for a war with Burma, but if they crossed the high seas they lost caste. Dalhousie nevertheless made recruits liable for service anywhere in the world. There were grievances about pay and pensions. Other developments, unconnected with this military unrest, added their weight. By the 1850’s railways, roads, posts, telegraphs, and schools were beginning to push and agitate their way across the countryside, and were thought by many Indians to threaten an ancient society whose inmost structure and spirit sprang from a rigid and unalterable caste system. If everyone used the same trains and the same schools, or even the same roads, it was argued, how could caste survive? Indian monarchs were apprehensive and resentful of the recent annexations. Hatred smouldered at the repression of Suttee. Unfounded stories spread that the Government intended to convert India forcibly to Christianity. The disasters in Afghanistan and the slaughter of the Sikh wars cast doubt on the invincibility of British arms. Many of the sepoys, or Indian soldiers, considered themselves equal or superior to European troops. Thus a legacy of troubles confronted Dalhousie’s successor, Lord Canning. He had been in India little more than a year when the introduction of a new type of ammunition provided a spark and focus for the mass of discontent.

In the year of the centenary of Plassey rumours began to flow that the cartridges for the new Enfield rifle were greased with the fat of pigs and cows, animals which Moslem and Hindu respectively were forbidden to eat. The cartridges had to be bitten before they could be inserted in the muzzle. Thus sepoys of both religions would be defiled. There was some truth in the story, for beef-fat had been used in the London arsenal at Woolwich, though it was never used at the Indian factory at Dum-Dum, and as soon as the complaints began no tainted missiles were issued. Nevertheless the tale ran through the regiments in the spring of 1857 and there was much unrest. In April some cavalry troopers at Meerut were court-martialled and imprisoned for refusing to touch the cartridges, and on May 9 they were publicly stripped of their uniforms. An Indian officer told his superiors that the sepoys were planning to break open the jail and release the prisoners. His warning was disbelieved. Next night three regiments mutinied, captured the prison, killed their British officers, and marched on Delhi.

There was nothing at hand to stop them. South of the Punjab fewer than eleven full-strength battalions and ancillary forces, comprising in all about forty thousand British soldiers, were scattered across the vast peninsula, and even these were not on a war footing. The Indian troops outnumbered them by five to one and had most of the artillery. The hot weather had started, distances were great, transport was scarce, the authorities were unprepared. Nevertheless, when the British power was so weak, and India might have been plunged once again into the anarchy and bloodshed from which she had been gradually and painfully rescued most of the populace remained aloof and at peace, and none of the leading Indian rulers joined the revolt. Of the three armies maintained by the Company only one, that of Bengal, was affected. Gurkhas from Nepal helped to quell the rising. The Punjab remained loyal, and its Sikhs and Moslems respected the colours and disarmed wavering regiments. The valley of the Ganges was the centre of the turmoil.

But at first all went with a rush. The magazine at Delhi was guarded by two British officers and six soldiers. They fought to the last, and when resistance was hopeless they blew it up. The mutineers killed every European in sight, seized the aged King of Delhi, now living in retirement as the Company’s pensioner, and proclaimed him Moghul Emperor. The appeal failed and few Moslems rose to support it. For three weeks there was a pause, and then the mutiny spread. British officers would not believe in the disloyalty of their troops and many were murdered. At Cawnpore, on the borders of Oudh, the garrison left the citadel to guard the road. They trusted to the loyalty of the Nana Sahib, the dispossessed adopted son of an Indian ruler, but still a powerful figure. They were mistaken, and a terrible fate was soon to befall them. At Lucknow, the capital, Henry Lawrence prepared the Residency for what was to be a long and glorious defence. Meanwhile, rightly perceiving that the key to the revolt lay in Delhi, the British mustered such forces as they could and seized the ridge overlooking the city. They were too few to make an assault, and for weeks in the height of summer three thousand troops, most of whom were British, held the fifty-foot eminence against an enemy twenty or thirty times their number. Early in August Nicholson arrived with reinforcements from the Punjab, having marched nearly thirty miles a day for three weeks. Thus animated, the British attacked on September 14, and after six days’ street-fighting, in which Nicholson was killed, the city fell. The poor King was sent to Burma. His two sons were taken prisoners, and shot after an attempt had been made to rescue them. This created a fresh grievance in Indian eyes.

At Cawnpore there was a horrible massacre. For twenty-one days nine hundred British and loyal Indians, nearly half of them women and children, were besieged and attacked by three thousand sepoys with the Nana Sahib at their head. At length, on June 26, they were granted safe-conduct. As they were leaving by boat they were fired upon, and all the men were killed. Such women and children as survived were cast into prison. On the night of July 15 a relieving force under Sir Henry Havelock, a veteran of Indian warfare, was barely twenty miles away. The Nana Sahib ordered his sepoys to kill the prisoners. They refused. Five assassins than cut the captives to death with knives and threw the bodies into a well. Two days later Havelock arrived. “Had any Christian bishop visited that scene of butchery when I saw it,” wrote an eyewitness long afterwards, “I verily believe that he would have buckled on his sword.” Here and elsewhere the British troops took horrible vengeance. Mutineers were blown from the mouths of cannon, sometimes alive, or their bodies sewn up in the skins of cows and swine.

The rebels turned on Lucknow. Here also there was a desperate struggle. Seventeen hundred troops, nearly half of them loyal sepoys, held the Residency, under Henry Lawrence, against sixty-thousand rebels, for in Oudh, unlike most of India, the population joined the revolt. Food was short and there was much disease. On September 25 Havelock and Outram fought their way in, but were beset in their turn, Havelock dying of exhaustion a few days later. In November the siege was raised by Sir Colin Campbell, the new Commander-in-Chief appointed by Lord Palmerston. Campbell had seen service against Napoleon and had a distinguished record in the Crimean War. A fresh threat to Cawnpore compelled him to move on. Outram, reinforced, continued to hold out, and Lucknow was not finally liberated till the following March. No one knows what happened to the Nana Sahib. He disappeared for ever into the Himalayan jungle.

Elsewhere the rising was more speedily crushed. The recapture of Delhi had destroyed all semblance and pretence that the mutiny was a national revolt. Fighting, sporadic but often fierce, continued in the Central Provinces until the end of 1858, but on November 1 the Governor-General, “Clemency” Canning, derisively so called for his mercifulness, proclaimed with truth that Queen Victoria was now sovereign of all India. The first Viceroy, as Canning became, was a son of the renowned Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister. The rule of the East India Company, which had long ceased to be a trading business in India, was abolished. This was the work of the short Conservative Government of Derby and Disraeli. Thus, after almost exactly a century the advice which Clive had given to Pitt was accepted by the British Government. Henceforward there were to be no more annexations, no subsidiary treaties, no more civil wars. Religious toleration and equality before the law were promised to all. Indians for a generation and more were to look back on the Queen’s Proclamation of 1858 as a Magna Carta.

The scale of the Indian Mutiny should not be exaggerated. Three-quarters of the troops remained loyal; barely a third of British territory was affected; there had been risings and revolts among the soldiery before; the brunt of the outbreak was suppressed in the space of a few weeks. It was in no sense a national movement, or, as some later Indian writers have suggested, a patriotic struggle for freedom or a war of independence. The idea and ideal of the inhabitants of the sub-continent forming a single people and state was not to emerge for many years. But terrible atrocities had been committed by both sides. From now on there was an increasing gulf between the rulers and the ruled. The easy-going ways of the eighteenth century were gone for ever, and so were the missionary fervour and reforming zeal of the early Victorians and their predecessors. The English no longer looked on India as “home,” or themselves as crusaders called to redeem and uplift the great multitudes. British administration became detached, impartial, efficient. Great progress was made and many material benefits were secured. The frontiers were guarded and the peace was kept. Starvation was subdued. The population vastly increased. The Indian army, revived and reorganised, was to play a glorious part on Britain’s side in two world wars. Nevertheless the atrocities and reprisals of the bloodstained months of the Mutiny left an enduring and bitter mark in the memory of both countries.


While these events unrolled in India the political scene in England remained confused. Issues were not clear-cut. Peel’s conversion to Free Trade had destroyed the party lines which he had done much to draw, and for twenty years in England Governments of mixed complexion followed one another. Disraeli and Derby, having broken Peel, found that it took a long time to muster the remnant of the former Tory Protectionists into an effective political party. Rising men like Gladstone, who remained faithful to the Peel tradition, would have nothing to do with them, though on at least one occasion Disraeli tried hard to enlist Gladstone’s co-operation. It is an interesting speculation what might have happened had these two bitter opponents and future Prime Ministers at this stage joined hands. The Whigs, under Russell and Palmerston, felt that their main aims had already been accomplished. Palmerston was willing to make improvements in government, but large-scale changes were not to his mind. Russell hankered after a further measure of electoral reform, but that was the limit of his programme. Both conceived of themselves as guardians of the system that they had the fortune to head. In this attitude the two leaders, and Palmerston especially, were probably in harmony with mid-Victorian opinion. Radicalism in these years made little appeal to the voters. Prosperity was spreading through the land, and with it went a lull in the fiercer forms of political agitation. Dignity and deference were the values of the age. If the gentleman was still the admired ideal, the self-made man was also deeply respected. The doctrine of industrious self-help, preached by Samuel Smiles, was widely popular in the middle classes and among many artisans as well. The lessons of the Chartist failure had been learnt, and educating the manual labourer began to seem more important than rousing him to revolution. With this view large numbers of working men happily concurred. All this made for a feeling of stability, with which a sense of steady progress was allied.


Religion in its numerous varieties cast a soothing and uplifting influence on men’s minds. Many millions, more than half the total population, were regular attenders at church or chapel, though church-goers were fewer among the very poor. Religious debate was earnest, sometimes acrimonious, but the contests it bred were verbal. Civil strife for the sake of religion was a thing of the past. The virtues of toleration had been learnt, though toleration did not mean lukewarmness. The churches and sects, and their flocks, took leave to disapprove of one another, occasionally with vigour. When the Roman Catholic Church re-established its hierarchy of bishops in England there was vehement commotion and protest in London, but nothing amounting to riot.

The Church of England, earlier in the century, had been stirred from slumber by Evangelical zeal and the lofty ideals of the Oxford Movement. The Low Church and High Church parties, as they were called, strove eloquently for men’s souls. About half the church-goers of England were members of the Anglican communion. Dissent also flourished, and Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Congregational, and Unitarian preachers gained a wide allegiance. The Church of Rome in England had revived under the impulse of Catholic Emancipation, and was reinforced by the accession of a number of High Anglican clergy, including John Henry Newman, a profound and subtle thinker, later created a Cardinal.

Religious preoccupations were probably more widespread and deeply felt than at any time since the days of Cromwell. But thinking men were also disturbed by a new theory, long foreshadowed in the work of scientists, the theory of evolution. It was given classic expression in The Origin of Species, published by Charles Darwin in 1859. This book provoked doubt and perplexity among those who could no longer take literally the Biblical account of creation. But the theory of evolution, and its emphasis on the survival of the fittest in the history of life upon the globe, was a powerful adjunct to mid-Victorian optimism. It lent fresh force to the belief in the forward march of mankind.

Palmerston seemed to his fellow-countrymen the embodiment of their own healthy hopes. He had lost none of his old vigour in chastising foreign Governments, and his patriotic sentiments appealed to the self-confidence of the nation. They did not always appeal to the Queen and Prince Albert, who resented his habit of sending off sharply worded dispatches without consulting them. But it was Palmerston’s desire, for all his strong language and sometimes hasty action, to keep the general peace in Europe. For this reason the Liberal movements in foreign countries which engaged his sympathy also sometimes gave him reason for anxiety.

The greatest of the European movements in these years was the cause of Italian unity. This long-cherished dream of the Italian peoples was at last realised, though only partially, in 1859 and 1860. The story is well known of how the Italians secured the military aid of Napoleon III for the price of ceding Nice and Savoy to France, and how, after winning Lombardy from the Austrians, the French Emperor left his allies in the lurch. Venice remained unredeemed; still worse, a French army protected the rump of the Papal State in Rome, and for ten years deprived the Italians of their natural capital. But as one small Italian state after another cast out their alien rulers, and merged under a single monarchy, widespread enthusiasm was aroused in England. Garibaldi and his thousand volunteers, who overturned the detested Bourbon Government in Sicily and Naples with singular dash and speed, were acclaimed as heroes in London. These bold events were welcome to Palmerston and his Foreign Secretary, Russell. At the same time the British leaders were suspicious of Napoleon III’s designs and fearful of a wider war. Congratulation but non-intervention was therefore their policy. It is typical of these two old Whigs that they applauded the new Italian Government for putting into practice the principles of the English Revolution of 1688. Russell in the House of Commons compared Garibaldi to King William III. History does not relate what the Italians made of this.


In home politics meanwhile a sublime complacency enveloped the Government. Palmerston, like Melbourne before him, did not believe in too much legislation. Good-humour and common sense distinguished him. As the novelist Trollope well said, he was “a statesman for the moment. Whatever was not wanted now, whatever was not practicable now, he drove quite out of his mind.” This practical outlook found no favour among the younger and more thrusting Members of the House of Commons. Disraeli, chafing on the Opposition benches, vented his scorn and irritation on this last of the eighteenth-century politicians. “His external system,” he once told the House, “is turbulent and aggressive that his rule at home may be tranquil and unassailed. Hence arise excessive expenditure, heavy taxation, and the stoppage of all social improvement. His scheme of conduct is so devoid of all political principle that when forced to appeal to the people his only claim to their confidence is his name.” Peel’s disciples and followers were no less despairing and powerless. So long as leadership remained in the hands of Palmerston, Russell, and the Whig nobility there could be little hope of advance towards the Liberalism of which they dreamed. “The Whigs,” said Sidney Herbert at a moment when they were temporarily out of office, “are incurable in their superstitions about ducal houses. I see no prospect of the formation of an efficient party, let alone Government, out of the chaos on the Opposition benches. No one reigns over or in it but discord and antipathy. The aristocratic Whigs seem to be nearly used up, and the party produces no new men, but at the same time complains of the old ones. Middle-aged merchants, shrewd men of business, feel their vanity hurt that they have not the refusal of office.”

The Tories were little better off. Their nominal head was Lord Derby, who could be brilliant in debate, but was apt to regard politics as an unpleasant duty imposed upon the members of his class. His real interest lay in horse-racing, and he also produced an excellent translation of Homer. Disraeli had become the leader of his party in the House of Commons. His struggle for power was hard and uphill. A Jew at the head of a phalanx of country gentlemen was an unusual sight in English politics. After the repeal of the Corn Laws protection was not only dead, but, as Disraeli himself said, damned, and he and Derby had agreed to discard it as a party principle. But the search for a new theme was long, painful, and frustrating. Meanwhile he had to play the part of Derby’s lieutenant, and their spells of office in 1852 and 1858 were brief and uneventful. Disraeli more than once sought an alliance with the Radicals, and promised them that he would oppose armaments and an aggressive foreign policy. Colonies, he even declared, were “millstones round our necks.” But their chief spokesman, John Bright, was under no illusions. The shrewd Quaker was not to be caught. “Mr Disraeli,” he said, “is a man who does what may be called the conjuring for his party. He is what among a tribe of Red Indians would be called the medicine-man.” And that was the end of that. Thus foiled, Disraeli returned to his attack on the Whigs. He was convinced that the only way to destroy them was by extending the franchise yet further so as to embrace the respectable artisans and counter the hostility of the middle classes. Patiently he worked on Derby and his colleagues. In his youth he had dreamed of uniting the two nations, the rich and the poor, as the world of his novel Sybil shows, and the 1850’s saw the slow emergence of a practical doctrine of Tory democracy. But Disraeli’s ideas took time to find acceptance.

Standing apart both from the Whigs and Derby’s Tories were the Peelites, of whom the most notable was William Gladstone. Having started his Parliamentary career in 1832 as a strict Tory, he was to make a long pilgrimage into the Liberal camp. The death of Peel had destroyed his allegiance to Toryism and he too was in search of a new theme. The son of a rich Liverpool merchant with slave-owning interests in the West Indies, Gladstone came from the same class as his old leader, and believed, like him, in the new arguments for Free Trade. Though admired as an administrator and an orator, his contemporaries considered him wanting in judgment and principle, but in fact, as Palmerston perceived, he was awaking to the political potentialities of the English middle class. “He might,” he said, “be called one of the people; he wished to identify himself with them; he possessed religious enthusiasm, and made it powerful over others from the force of his own intellect.” Despite his preoccupations with theology, he comprehended the minds of the new voters better than his colleagues and understood the workings of party better than Peel. “Oxford on the surface, but Liverpool underneath”—such was a contemporary judgment. But, like Disraeli, his progress was slow. He was Chancellor of the Exchequer at the beginning of the Crimean War; then he faded into Opposition. It was fortunate for him that supreme power did not come too soon. Peel had been frustrated by early experience of high office, which prevented him from putting his ideas to the test. Long years of waiting made Gladstone sure of himself.

In 1859, at the age of fifty, Gladstone joined the Whigs and the pilgrimage was over. His decision was made on an issue of foreign policy, but he again concentrated on finance. As Chancellor of the Exchequer under Palmerston his golden period began—great Budget speeches in the House of Commons, a superb handling of administrative detail, a commercial treaty with France, which opened a new era in Free Trade, and demands for retrenchment in military affairs, which brought him into conflict with his Prime Minister. His finance was a remarkable success. Three brilliant Budgets reduced taxation. Trade was rapidly expanding, and it was soon apparent who would succeed to the leadership of the party. In 1865, in his eighty-first year Palmerston died. “Gladstone,” he declared in his last days, “will soon have it all his own way, and whenever he gets my place we shall have strange doings.” The old Whig was right. The eighteenth century died with him. The later Victorian age demanded a new leader, and at long last he had arrived. When Gladstone next appeared before his electors he opened his speech by saying, “At last, my friends, I am come among you, and I am come among you unmuzzled.” But the Whigs still hesitated. Gladstone, like Disraeli, wanted to extend the franchise to large sections of the working classes: he was anxious to capture the votes of the new electorate. He prevailed upon the Government, now headed by Russell, to put forward a Reform Bill, but the Cabinet were so divided that they resigned. A minority administration under Derby and Disraeli followed, which lasted for two and a half years.

Disraeli now seized his chance. He introduced a fresh Reform Bill in 1867, which he skilfully adapted to meet the wishes of the House, of which he was Leader. There was a redistribution of seats in favour of the large industrial towns, and nearly a million new voters were added to an existing electorate of about the same number. The Tories were nervous at this startling advance from their original plan. In many towns the working classes would now be in the majority at elections. Derby called it “a leap in the dark.” The recent civil war in America seemed a poor recommendation for democracy, and even the Radicals were anxious about how the uneducated masses would behave. But this immediately became clear. The carrying of the second Reform Bill so soon after the death of Palmerston opened a new era in English politics. New issues and new methods began to emerge. As Walter Bagehot, the banker and economist, said, “A political country is like an American forest; you have only to cut down the old trees and immediately new trees come up to replace them.” In February 1868 Derby resigned from the leadership of the party and Disraeli was at last Prime Minister—as he put it, “at the top of the greasy pole.” He had to hold a General Election. The new voters gave their overwhelming support to his opponents, and Gladstone, who had become leader of the Liberal Party, formed the strongest administration that England had seen since the days of Peel.

If you find an error or have any questions, please email us at Thank you!