Henry Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston

From Quotes
Love is the extra effort we make in our dealings with those whom we do not like and once you understand that, you understand all. This idea that love overtakes you is nonsense. This is but a polite manifestation of sex. To love another you have to undertake some fragment of their destiny.
Quentin Crisp
(Redirected from Viscount Palmerston)
Jump to: navigation, search

Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston (1784-10-20 - 1865-10-18) was a British Liberal politician and Prime Minister from 1855-1858 and 1859-1865.


  • I will not talk of non-intervention, for it is not an English word.
    • When an MP sought to correct Palmerston when he said "non-interference" instead of "non-intervention" (2 August 1832)
  • Therefore I say that it is a narrow policy to suppose that this country or that is to be marked out as the eternal ally or the perpetual enemy of England. We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.
    • Speech to the House of Commons, Hansard (1 March 1848)
  • I therefore fearlessly challenge the verdict which this House, as representing a political, a commercial, a constitutional country, is to give on the question now brought before it; whether the principles on which the foreign policy of Her Majesty's government has been conducted, and the sense of duty which has led us to think ourselves bound to afford protection to our fellow subjects abroad, are proper and fitting guides for those who are charged with the government of England; and whether, as the Roman, in days of old, held himself free from indignity when he could say Civis Romanus sum; so also a British subject, in whatever land he may be, shall feel confident that the watchful eye and the strong arm of England will protect him against injustice and wrong.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (25 June 1850)
  • The beer shops licensed to have the beer drunk on premises are a pest to the community. They are haunts of thieves and schools for prostitutes. They demoralize the lower classes. ... The words "licensed to be drunk on the premises" are by the common people interpreted as applicable to the customers as well as to the liquor.
  • I have watched the French Emperor narrowly, and have studied his character and conduct. You may rely upon it that, at the bottom of his heart, there rankles a deep and inextinguishable desire to humble and punish England, and to avenge, if he can, the many humiliations — political, naval and military — which, since the beginning of this century, England has by herself and her allies inflicted upon France. He has sufficiently organised his military means; he is now stealthily but steadily organising his naval means; and when all is ready, the overture will be played, the curtain will draw up, and we shall have a very disagreeable melodrama.
    • Letter to the Duke of Somerset (Lord Dalling, Life of Palmerston: Volume II, p. 391)
  • My dear John Russell, Till lately I had strong confidence in the fair intentions of Napoleon towards England, but of late I have begun to feel great distrust and to suspect that his formerly declared intention of avenging Waterloo has only lain dormant and has not died away. He seems to have thought that he ought to lay his foundation by beating with our aid or with our concurrence, or our neutrality first Russia and then Austria: and by dealing with them generously to make them his friends and in any subsequent quarrel with us.
    • Letter to Lord John Russell (4 November 1859)
  • Our interests require that Egypt should remain what it is, an integral part of the Turkish empire. We do not want it or wish it for ourselves, any more than any rational man with an estate in the North of England and a residence in the South would have wished to possess the inns on the North Road.
    • Letter to Lord Cowley (25 November 1859)
  • I am heartily glad that Elgin and Grant determined to burn down the Summer Palace and that "the blackness of ashes shall mark where it stood"... It was absolutely necessary to stamp by some such permanent record our indignation at the treachery and brutality of these Tartars, for Chinese they are not.
  • It is in the highest degree likely that the North will not be able to subdue the south, and it is no doubt certain that if the Southern union is established as an independent state it would afford a valuable and extensive market for British manufactures but the operations of the war have as yet been too indecisive to warrant an acknowledgement of the southern union.
  • Great Britain is in a better state than at any former time to inflict a severe blow upon and to read a lesson to the United States which will not soon be forgotten.
  • It is difficult not to come to the conclusion that the rabid hatred of England which animates the exiled Irishmen who direct almost all the Northern newspapers, will so excite the masses as to make it impossible for Lincoln and Seward to grant our demands; and we must therefore look forward to war as the probable result.
    • Letter to John Russell (6 December 1861)
  • It would be very delightful if your Utopia could be realized and if the nations of the earth would think of nothing but peace and commerce, and would give up quarrelling and fighting altogether. But unfortunately man is a fighting and quarrelling animal; and that this is human nature is proved by the fact that republics, where the masses govern are far more quarrelsome, and more addicted to fighting, than monarchies, which are governed by comparatively few persons.
  • As to the American [Civil] War it has manifestly ceased to have any attainable object as far as the Northerns are concerned, except to get rid of some more thousand troublesome Irish and Germans. It must be owned, however, that the Anglo-Saxon race on both sides have shown courage and endurance highly honourable to their stock.
  • Nothing is so difficult to change as the traditional habits of a free people in regard to such things. Such changes may be easily made in despotic countries like Russia, or in countries where notwithstanding theoretical freedom the government and the police are all powerful as in France... Can you expect that the people of the United Kingdom will cast aside all the names of space and weight and capacity which they learnt from their infancy and all of a sudden adopt an unmeaning jargon of barbarous words representing ideas and things new to their minds. It seems to me to be a dream of pedantic theorists... I see no use however in attempting to Frenchify the English nation, and you may be quite sure that the English nation will not consent to be Frenchified. There are many conceited men who think that they have given an unanswerable argument in favour of any measure they may propose by merely saying that it has been adopted by the French. I own that I am not of that school, and I think the French have much to gain by imitating us than we have to gain by imitating them. The fact is there are a certain set of very vain men like Ewart and Cobden who not finding in things as they are here, the prominence of position to which they aspire, think that they gain a step by oversetting any of our arrangements great or small and by holding up some foreign country as an object of imitation.
  • You lay down broadly the doctrine of universal suffrage which I can never accept. I deny that every sane and not disqualified man has a moral right to vote. What every man and woman too have a right to, is to be well governed and under just laws, and they who propose a change ought to show that the present organisation does not accomplish those objects.
    • Letter to William Ewart Gladstone (12 May, 1864)
  • The Truth is that a vote is not a Right but a Trust. All the Nation cannot by Possibility be brought together to vote and therefore a Selected few are appointed by Law to perform this Function for the Rest and the Publicity attached to the Performance of this Trust is a Security that it will be responsibly performed.
    • Palmerston's memorandum, 15 May 1864 (Broadlands Papers, H.M.C., PM/A/16)
  • As to the notion that the Brazilian nation see the criminality of slave trade and have for ever abjured it such a notion is too childish for a grown man really to entertain, however it may suit the Brazilians to endeavour to make it accepted. The plain truth is that the Portuguese are of all European nations the lowest in the moral state and the Brazilians are degenerate Portuguese, demoralized by slavery and slave trade, and all the degrading and corrupting influences connected with both... I have laboured indefatigably all the time I was at the Foreign Office to put an end to the slave trade, and though not with entire at all events with some considerable success and nothing shall induce me to load my conscience with the guilt of having been a party to promoting its revival. I am afraid Bright has been at you upon these Brazilian matters. He has always professed great horror of slave trade and has invariably opposed the employment of any and every means by which it could be made to cease.
    • Letter to John Russell (5 October, 1864)
  • Mackieson gave me the other day a buffalo hide whip from Africa called in those regions a Peace Maker and used as such in the households of chieftains. Our Peace Makers are our Armstrongs and Whitworths and our engineers.
    • Letter to Austen Henry Layard (23 October 1864)
  • I beg to propose to you that toast which is the first to which honour is done in every society of Englishmen, I mean "the Health of Her Majesty the Queen" — a toast which embodies the expression of that which is the deepest and warmest feeling of every Englishman... It could not be expected that man would pursue with diligence and success the pursuits of industry if he were not assured that he would reap in security the fruits which that industry might produce, and I am happy to say that our Army, our Navy, our Militia, and our Volunteers do afford to the people of these realms that security which human arrangements can provide for them. We are happily now at peace with all foreign Powers; but the continuance of that peace is not likely to be less certain when it is known to all foreign nations that the Army, the Navy, the Militia, and the Volunteers of England are in a state of perfect efficiency, and ready if called upon to defend the interests and to maintain the honour and dignity of their country against all who might think fit to assail them.
    • Speech to the Agricultural Association at Romsey, quoted in "Lord Palmerston At Romsey," The Times (16 December 1864), p. 12.
  • Lord Palmerston: Then you did not vote for me, friend Rowcliffe; you preferred voting for a Tory.
    William Rowcliffe: I did not vote for you, my Lord, for if I had, I should have voted for a Tory.
    • During the general election of summer 1865 where the Chartist Rowcliffe voted for a Conservative and another Liberal in order to oust Palmerston from the two-member constituency; quoted in F. J. Snell, Palmerston's Borough (Tiverton, 1894), pp. 107-112.
  • Russia will in due time become a power almost as great as the old Roman Empire. She can become mistress of all Asia, except British India, whenever she chooses to take it; and when enlightened arrangements shall have made her revenue proportioned to her territory, and railways shall have abridged distances her command of men will become enormous, her pecuniary means gigantic, and her power of transporting armies over great distances most formidable. Germany ought to be strong in order to resist Russian aggression, and a strong Prussia is essential to German strength.
    • Letter to Lord John Russell (13 September 1865) in E. Ashley (ed.), The Life of Henry John Temple, Viscount Palmerston 1846-1865 (London, 1876), pp. 270-1
  • The American assault on Ireland under the name of Fenianism may be now held to have failed, but the snake is only scotched and not killed. It is far from from impossible that the American conspirators may try and obtain in our North American provinces compensation for their defeat in Ireland.
    • Letter to Lord de Grey (27 September 1865)


  • What is merit? The opinion one man entertains of another.
  • The time is fast coming when we shall be obliged to strike another blow in China... These half-civilized Governments such as those in China, Portugal, Spanish America all require a dressing every eight or ten years to keep them in order. Their minds are too shallow to receive an impression that will last longer than some such period and warning is of little use. They care little for words and they must not only see the stick but actually feel it on their shoulders before they yield.
    • (29 September 1850)
  • The Schleswig-Holstein question is so complicated, only three men in Europe have ever understood it. One was Prince Albert, who is dead. The second was a German professor who became mad. I am the third and I have forgotten all about it.
  • Die, my dear doctor! That's the last thing I shall do!
    • Last Words

About Palmerston

  • Warmed by the instincts of a knightly heart, That roused at once if insult touched the realm, He spurned each Statecraft, each deceiving art, And met his foes, no vizor to his helm. This proved his worth; hereafter be our boast: Who hated Britons hated him the most.
  • Even if England still continues to increase in civilization and opulence, she may yet, as other stronger states also rapidly augment, perhaps not long retain her present commanding position in the world; and it may be that in future ages the name of Palmerston will be synonymous with her greatest glory. From one generation of Englishman to another, the saying will be handed down: We are all proud of him.
    • Palmerston's obituary in the Cologne Gazette, 20 October 1865, as translated in the next day's Times
  • Then you know what to avoid. Do the exact opposite of what he did. His administration at the Foreign Office was one long crime.
    • John Bright to Lord Rosebery in 1886, after asking him whether he had read about Palmerston's policies at the Foreign Office. (The Fifth Earl of Rosbery's journal, 17 March 1886)
  • A Frenchman, thinking to be highly complimentary, said to Palmerston: "If I were not a Frenchman, I should wish to be an Englishman"; to which Pam coolly replied: "If I were not an Englishman, I should be wish to be an Englishman."
    • William Ewart Gladstone recounting the conversation to Lord Rendel in 1889, from F. E. Hamer (ed.) The Personal Papers of Lord Rendel (London: Ernest Benn Ltd, 1931), p. 60
  • He loved his country and his country loved him. He lived for her honour, and she will cherish his memory.

See also

Wikisource has original works written by or about: