Queen Victoria and Her Prime Ministers

Queen Victoria and Her Prime Ministers

Queen Victoria and Her Prime Ministers

Queen Victoria and Her Prime Ministers


The chapters in this book which deal with my father, Queen Victoria and her ten Prime Ministers are not studies in biography, still less have I attempted to treat in any detail the political history of the reign. Had it been my purpose to do either of these things this book must have been at least twice its present length, and probably longer even than that.

My purpose was simpler. It was to study the relations of the Queen with her ten Prime Ministers, their influence upon the Queen and, most important of all, the influence of the Queen and her Prime Ministers in their collaboration on the politics and the social and intellectual climate of their day.

The chapters of this book are essays, then, in the sense which Walter Pater attached to the word in his 'Plato and Platonism'; that is to say, they seek to approach or attain truth tentatively 'as the elusive effect of a particular experience'. They are not in line with much that is assumed in the dogmas of to-day, but they are not, as it seems to me, any the worse for that.

I have debts in various quarters. Some, like that to my father, are touched on in the text. Others must go for the most part unacknowledged, though not, any the more for that, unvalued. Here I must content myself with saying that my obligations, both direct and indirect, to Mr. J. C. Allan are very large; and that I am very grateful to the Editor of The Quarterly for raising no difficulty to the republication of the study of the late Lord Rosebery, which originally appeared in that periodical and has, with a few minor alterations, been reproduced here. I think it is John Morley who has observed somewhere that, when one has said anything as well as one can, one should not repeat the attempt -- unless, as, doubtless, he would have added, the circumstances compel.

My best thanks are also in especial due to Mr. Douglas Jerrold and Mr. Frank Morley and others at Messrs. Eyre & Spottiswoode's, who have most kindly assisted me with advice in dealing with the proofs.

I am also especially grateful to the present Lord Salisbury for facilitating the reproduction of the portrait of his grandfather in his robes as Chancellor of Oxford University.

June 1952. A. C.

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