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Grounds of Lord Palmerslon's Dismissal. 289
circumstances here related, which resulted in the dismissal of Lord Palmerston, illustrate the duties of a head of a department towards his chief, it must be admitted that Lord Palmerston made good his case. Unless there is ground for general want of confidence, or such a diversity of political opinion as would itself suffice to separate a Minister from the Cabinet, it would be wholly unworthy of the independence and dignity of a Minister, and most of all of a Minister who must be presumed to possess such special qualifications and exceptional experience as a Foreign Secretary, to allow his language or actions to be further fettered than they are of necessity by the formal communications which he prepares and addresses, either at the direct bidding of the Cabinet, or with the intention of expressing their well-known policy. Of course, in such a case as the above, an undue sympathy with Louis Napoleon in his consummation of the coup d'etat might in certain political crises have been held of itself a sufficient exhibition of divergent political sympathy to justify a Prime Minister in expostulating with, or even dismissing, a Secretary of State. But in the actual case described, the complaint was not of the importance of the discrepancy of opinion between the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State, but only of the latitude of private speech which it was imputed to Lord Palmerston that he had permitted to himself. Lord Palmerston might well allege in his speech in the House of Commons that the restriction attempted to be imposed would have the anomalous, not to say ludicrous, result, that 'every member of the 'Cabinet, whatever his political avocations may have 'been, however much his attention may have been de
'voted to other matters, is at liberty to express an 'opinion of passing events abroad; but the Secretary 'of State for Foreign Affairs, whose peculiar duty it is
* to watch those events, who is unfit for his office if he 'has not an opinion on them, is the only man not per'mitted to express an opinion; and when a foreign
• Minister comes and tells him that he has news, he is 'to remain silent, like a speechless dolt, or the mute of 'some Eastern Pasha.'1
It happens that the subject of Foreign Affairs has lately led to still further practical illustrations of the nature of the concert demanded of one another by a Prime Minister and the members of his Cabinet The account of the resignations, in 1876, of Lord Carnarvon and of Lord Derby, because of their divergency of opinion from the rest of the Cabinet in respect of contemplated acts resolved upon by the Cabinet in the course of the negotiations during the late Russo-Turkish war, which terminated in the Berlin Treaty of 1877, supplies instances both of the limits of practical cooperation now insisted upon in the organisation of a Cabinet, and also of the limits of the secresy imposed on members of the Cabinet. On the 25th of January, 1878, Lord Carnarvon announced in the House of Lords his resignation of the office of Secretary of State for the Colonies in the following terms:
'My Lords, explanations of this sort are painful to 'make. It is necessary, on the one hand, for a Minister 'to say enough to justify himself in the course which 'he feels it his duty to adopt; and, on the other hand, 'it is equally incumbent upon him not only to avoid
1 Life of Lord. Palixcrston, vol. i. p. 323.
Resignation of Lord Carnarvon. 29 r
• saying anything that can embarrass Her Majesty's 'Government at a period of critical negotiations, but 'as far as is possible to say nothing that can give rea'sonable offence, or that seems to impute unnecessary 'blame to those who have been his colleagues and 'his friends. My Lords, in the peculiar position in 'which I am placed I am precluded from entering 'into one important branch of that self-justification, 'because, looking to the critical nature of present or 'possible negotiations, I do not consider it right to say 'a single word with regard to those communications of 'a confidential character which have passed between 'Her Majesty's Government and foreign nations. If, 'therefore, the course of my conduct as now explained 'by me seems incomplete, I shall be content to accept 'the burden and responsibility of that incompleteness.' After noticing the two reasons which induced him finally to dissent from the rest of the Cabinet—namely, the extraordinary grant of money for which the Chancellor of the Exchequer was about to move, and the decision of the Cabinet to send the fleet to Constantinople—Lord Carnarvon said that he had Her Majesty's gracious permission for any statement that he might think it necessary to make on the subject. On the 3rd of January, in t he Cabinet, the Prime Minister thought himself at liberty to condemn very severely the language that he had used to a deputation on the 2nd of January about the war and the general attitude of Her Majesty's Government. Lord Carnarvon said that he took time to consider the course that it was his duty to take; and then, in a memorandum which he had drawn up, he recapitulated what had passed, and, having vindicated the position which he had taken, he reaffirmed, in the hearing of his colleagues, and without any contradiction, the propositions that he had then laid down. Between the 12th and the 23rd, the Cabinet twice changed its mind with regard to sending the fleet to the Dardanelles. On the 15th Lord Carnarvon wrote to Lord Beaconsfield that he would resign as soon as the fleet should sail. When, on the 18th, the plan was again changed, Lord Beaconsfield wrote: 'I shall not submit your resigna'tion to Her Majesty. Such an act would deprive me 'of a colleague I value, and at any rate should be 'reserved for a period when there is an important dif'ference between us, which at present does not seem to 'be the case.' On the 23rd the Cabinet decided to send the fleet to Constantinople, and Lord Carnarvon resigned.' 1
In announcing his resignation of the office of Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Lord Derby, addressing the House of Lords on March the 28th,1878, said he had received from Her Majesty and from his noble friend at the head of the Government full permission to use his own discretion in the matter of explaining to Parliament the character and nature of the differences which had arisen between him and his colleagues. 'But,' said Lord Derby, 'your Lordships will easily 'understand that in the present state of our foreign 'relations there are many things which require to be * considered and decided upon by those who are respon'sible for the conduct of public affairs, which it is not 'in the interest of the State should be made public at 'the time when the decision upon them is taken. My
Resignation of Lord Derby. 293
'Lords, the Cabinet have arrived at certain conclusions 'which no doubt are of a grave and important charac'ter. In the measures which they propose I have not 'been able to concur. We agree as to the end, but, 'unhappily, we differ as to the means; and I cannot, 'in the exercise of my deliberate judgment,—however 'willing and anxious I maybe to submit that judgment 'to what I know to be in many respects the better 'judgment of my colleagues,—I cannot consider the 'measures upon which they have decided as being pru'dent in the interests of European peace, or as being 'necessary for the safety of the country, or as being 'warranted by the state of mat'ers abroad. My Lords, 'when the concurrence of Parliament is asked ibr those 'measures of which I have spoken, I shall be ready, if 'necessary, to vindicate the opinion which I have en'tertained; but, until then, I consider I am bound by 'public duty to speak only in the most general terms, 'leaving to those who are responsible for the manage'ment of public affairs the choice of the time and the 'manner in which they will think it then- duty to bring 'them before your Lordships.'1
On a later day, when these events were again under discussion in the House of Lords, Lord Derby said: 'Three months ago, when I quitted the Cabinet, it was 'on account of the decision then taken—namely, that 'it was necessary to secure a naval station in the Eastern 'part of the Mediterranean, and that for that purpose 'it was necessary to seize upon and occupy the Island 'of Cyprus, together with a point on the Syrian Coast. 'This was to have been done by a secret naval expedi
1 See Hansard, ccxxxix. 101.