A Biography of Great Men – A History of Britain: 1836-1935 [HoD 3.03]

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DensleyBlair

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ABiographyofGreatMen_zpsf94ed11d.jpg




A Biography of Great Men
A History of Britain: 1835-1935



"The history of the world is but the biography of great men."
- Thomas Carlyle






Preamble:


Foreword
A Word from the Author


Prologue (1828-1835):


A Show of Intolerence
The Days in May
A Duel on the Hustings


Second Melbourne Ministry (1835-1840):


Inglorious Isolation
Domestic Troubles
The Age of Liberalism


Second Peel Ministry (1840-1843):


A War At Home and Abroad
The Oncoming Storm


Unholy Ministry (1843-1847):


A Precarious Situation
Mandated Calm

Upsetting the Coach


Conservative Government (1847-1851)


Ireland Awakes
A Mari Usque Ad Mare
All Things Must Pass
All Becomes Right
A Great Foreboding


Lansdowne Ministry (1851-1854):


Congresses, Colonies and Cabinets
Awaited Fulfilment


First Palmerston Ministry (1854-Present):


Cometh the Man





General Election 1840:


The Campaigns
The Results


General Election 1847:


The Parties
The Campaigns
The Results


General Election 1851:


The Parties
The Campaigns
The Results


General Election 1857:


The Parties
The Campaigns
The Results





Date Summaries:


The Reform Era: 1830–1851
 
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Terraferma

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Good luck as you construct your work. Subscribed.
 

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This should be good.
 

LordTempest

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Oh look at that, I was right! Subbed with interest! :)
 

99KingHigh

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99KingHigh steals a glance at his grandfather clock and wags his finger:
"Y'all better finish this one...or else..."
 

DensleyBlair

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Good luck as you construct your work. Subscribed.

Thanks Terra. Hopefully you'll enjoy what follows.

This should be good.

Thanks Zorro. I'm glad that you already have such a large amount of faith in my writing. ;)

Oh look at that, I was right! Subbed with interest! :)

You were indeed. ;)

Welcome along, Tanzhang. The thread wouldn't be the same without you!

99KingHigh steals a glance at his grandfather clock and wags his finger:
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I hope not to disappoint. Good to see you, King.

WHAIT! DENSLEY, I sub....

Thanks a lot, BR. Good to have you along.



Thank you all for your support at this early stage. I've got a good feeling about this AAR, and I think I'll enjoy writing it. I'll be getting the preamble up shortly, then I'm looking to write up the first of the prologue chapters later.
 

DensleyBlair

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Foreword

It is my firm view that any respectable history of this, the most respectable of nations, must contain within its pages detailed studies, plates and biographies of those upstanding gentlemen who, through their moral integrity and nobility made our nation, the most noble of nations, the fine beacon of fortitude and righteousness against the hordes of uncouth, unseemly nations in Europe and the rest of the world. Such as France, for example.

In commissioning this work, therefore, and in so doing, lending the appropriate funds for its completion and publication, as well as my good name to assist in the marketing, and to attract an altogether more respectable clientele and readership, I have made my intentions expressly clear. This, my fine, respectable reader, is to be a work of respectable, upstanding history of the great men who shaped our fine nation, so that it may be a fine example of goodness to others. Like the French.

It is through these men – heroes of our time, and altogether respectable gentlemen – such as Wellington and Nelson, those vanquishers of the French – that our respectable nation is shaped. Many other, less respectable works of an historical nature give great import to battle plans and tactics and such, uncouth things. It is my firm intention, however, to do away with such things, for no battle plan ever vanquished the French! Indeed, sir, is it not true that we sing of the Iron Duke, as opposed to his methods of arranging cavalry? Indeed it is, sir! Fine proof that no piece of paper ever won us a battle, like those at Trafalgar and Waterloo, for those fine encounters were carried by the generals and admirals – fine, upstanding individuals who no doubt do not bother themselves with such trivialities.

Moreover, can one really, truthfully say, as an upstanding member of our respectable society – not like that of the French, where it is the done thing when one is amongst respectable company (or as respectable company as one can find in France) to pin frogs to one's lapel! – that it is not those fine politicians and statesmen who won us prestige through great, respectable diplomatic battles – such as at the Congress of Vienna, for example – allowing us to build the fine, upstanding nation in which we live to-day? No, sir, one can not! Unless of course one is a member of some unseemly group – such as that dastardly Jacobin club. Rogues, blackguards and scoundrels, the lot of them! – in which case one may have sympathies with other, less respectable members of our society, who have contributed little of import to Britannia and her greatness (though I should firmly wish that such an individual would not be desecrating such a respectable publication such as this! If, indeed, you are such a scoundrel, I would be much obliged if you send me details of your personage and situation so that you may be contacted by my solicitor.)

I have thereby commissioned The Rt. Hon. Prof. Edward Densley Blair of Cambridge University – a fine and respectable institution – to write such a history, in which no mention of even a single butler, pie-shop owner or French Jacobin scoundrel should be found, for such personages do not deserve to be enshrined and venerated in such a fine, respectable work as this! It is my firm belief that the Rt. Hon. gentleman shall display in his writing such nobility of spirit and respectability as that which occasioned me to commission him to write this volume (on the condition, it must be noted, that my respectable reader will not be required to endure mentions of such unscrupulous characters as actors and poets. Or, God forbid! the French.

I therefore leave you, my respectable reader, in his capable, honourable charge, and bid you adieu – or rather, I would impart in such a manner were it not for the Frenchness of certain words in the previous clause detailing 'good-bye'. I fear I shall now be required to burn this pen for having written such things!

With the highest regard,

Sir. William Augustus Spencer Percival Brittannia-Forsyth, KG

Publisher of High Esteem and Much Renown


- – ~ • ~ – -

Note: Naturally, I have nothing against the French.
 
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DensleyBlair

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A Word from the Author

I have long been interested in the history of this nation – especially in the history of those who have made Britannia the great nation she is today. In this regard, I am rather like my publisher.

You will either be immensely disappointed or decidedly pleased when I tell you that the similarities between our respective personages run dry somewhat quickly hereafter. I would especially like to make expressly clear our differing views on the French – that is, it is not my wont to, upon meeting a Frenchman, recoil shouting 'begone, you rotten baguette-eating scoundrel!'.

Nonetheless, I wish to thank my publisher, and all those who have made it possible to get this book into print. This volume displays the culmination of two decades worth of research, and to finally be finished is both a great relief and a peculiar sadness. Naturally, though much of the work involved in tracking down those who could be of use to this history was carried out by myself, I am forever indebted to both the National Library and the Parliamentary Archives in London, as well as Mr. R. F. Montgomery, whose extensive collection of back issues of the London Gazette was incredibly beneficial in my research. Mr. A. J. Turnbull of the Prime Ministerial Office was also invaluable in this regard, as was Sir D. B. Hulme of the Royal Archives.

To that end, I would also wish to thank the staff at the Times and the Daily Telegraph, as well as the Rectors of Oxford and Cambridge Universities, to whom I am eternally grateful. Access to the Oxford Union minutes from the years 1828 to 1831 proved especially invaluable with regards to the research relating to the evolution of the political views of Mr. W. E. Gladstone.

I would also like to thank Baroness Lucas, Mr. J. B. Whitaker and Mr. B. D'Israeli for kindly allowing me access to family documents, as well as to Mssrs. E. G. F. and J. P. Mount-Temple for their assistance in similar areas. For his help with research of military matters of the period, I am forever indebted to FM the Baron Ironside, and HM George VI for graciously agreeing to meeting with me during my research on multiple occasions. Not only did you provide an embarrassment of information on many subject areas, but also wonderful entertainment and a ready wit.

Similarly, I would like to thank the National Library of Belgium, as well as the family of Erasmé Surlet de Chokier and HM Albert of Belgium, whom I must mention must be one of the most eloquent speakers of the English language outside of the Anglophonic world. Both were able to provide in outstanding detail information of early Victorian Anglo-Belgian relations. HM Wilhelmina of the Netherlands and Mr. J. Thorbecke were wonderful sources of knowledge in this regard, as was the Speaker of the Greek Parliament, Mr. K. Papadoponou.

The historians Mssrs. D. A. Gilbert and R. J. Beecham were invaluable in their insights into the history of the Whig and Liberal parties, as was Lord Menzies, the late Liberal party secretary. Sir. A. P. Jones and Baron Davison were also useful in the history of the Tory and Conservative parties, was Mr. J. B. Priestley was able to fill in the gaps in my knowledge of the early socialist movement. I am also grateful for your fine wit and pleasant company. The Rev. R. Connolly was a fine source of information on the religious history of the United Kingdom during the Victorian era, as were Dr. H. H. Williams and the Rev. T. P. S. Moore. For his enviable knowledge of London's liberal scene of the mid-19th century, I am also indebted to Baron Lane-Fox.

I must also thank representatives of the devolved imperial parliaments, both former and current, who agreed to audiences, who are far too numerous to list, though must thank Col. Sir. R. T. Dwight for his fine hospitality during my stay in South Africa. Along with them, I must thank all of those eminent gentlemen from across the world who agreed to be interviewed in my native tongue, and must apologise to L. W. Baron von Fürstenburg and Msr. J. F. Brouillard for agreeing to put up with my attempts at interviewing them in their respective native tongues.

If I have neglected to mention anyone on this page, I can only express my most profuse and unreserved apologies, though I'm sure you will understand that, over two decades of research, overlooking names is by no means a difficult thing. My thanks go to you all.

The Rt. Hon. Prof. E. A. Densley Blair
Clare College, Cambridge University
1940
 
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LordTempest

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You know this all reads so vaguely familiar, or at least if would if our publisher had spent some two decades as a tea broker at the London Exchange prior to diversifying into the heady field of book publishing like some kind of common Macmillan. :)

In any case, I look forward to the first real chapter. Welington or Canning vs Castlereagh?
 

Ab Ovo

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Utterly phenomenal. The quality of your AARs have always set new heights for those lesser of us to aspire to, and this is certainly no exception. I tip my hat to you, sir.
 

DensleyBlair

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You know this all reads so vaguely familiar, or at least if would if our publisher had spent some two decades as a tea broker at the London Exchange prior to diversifying into the heady field of book publishing like some kind of common Macmillan. :)

Really? I have no idea what you are talking about. :p

In any case, I look forward to the first real chapter. Welington or Canning vs Castlereagh?

Canning and Castelreagh both being dead before the AAR's start. ;)

I will most certainly be following this.

Wonderful to see you here, Etzel. I hope you enjoy the rest of the ride.

Utterly phenomenal. The quality of your AARs have always set new heights for those lesser of us to aspire to, and this is certainly no exception. I tip my hat to you, sir.

I'm sorry, I think you have the wrong AAR. Tanzhang's work is over there. :D

Wow. What high praise indeed – and after not having even posted the first real chapter! Thanks, Ab. I only hope I can continue to impress.



Thank you all for the enthusiastic response. I can only hope the momentum continues for the rest of the AAR.

The first proper update is underway. Hopefully, I'll have it out tomorrow sometime.
 

GreatUberGeek

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Looks great so far, Densley. I'll be interested in how you write this.
 

LordTempest

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Canning and Castelreagh both being dead before the AAR's start. ;)

But it is the prologue, and what do a couple of decades prior to the game's start matter to a prologue? After all, you're talking to the guy who once started an AAR almost three centuries prior to the game's start date. ;)
 

DensleyBlair

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Looks great so far, Densley. I'll be interested in how you write this.

Thanks UberGeek. Good to see you here, and I hope you enjoy the rest.

But it is the prologue, and what do a couple of decades prior to the game's start matter to a prologue? After all, you're talking to the guy who once started an AAR almost three centuries prior to the game's start date. ;)

Ah! I see what you mean. No, as you will shortly find out, the prologue starts with the death of George (though there's a quick overview of the 1826-30 parliament.) I do like Castlereagh, though – and Canning does get a brief mention.



First part of the prologue incoming shortly.
 

DensleyBlair

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ABiographyofGreatMenBanner_zpse159fabf.jpg


A Show of Intolerance

Though our history begins in 1836, to fully understand the political situation in which our country found herself at the time, we must first go back six years to the election of 1830.

The End of an Era

The people of Great Britain, then later the United Kingdom, had lived under monarchs named George for the one-hundred and six years. With the death of George IV in 1830, change was well and truly in the air. The accession of William IV and the Demise of the Crown, as per tradition, heralded the dissolution of the sitting parliament, and with it – in part, at least – the old order of the Georgian era said its final goodbye.

Unlike his brother, who by all accounts was brash and extravagant, William was quiet and unassuming. Indeed, he would regularly stroll through London and Brighton unaccompanied. His new people saw him as a grounded, approachable figure, who was – initially, at least – well liked. This was a sentiment shared even by his first prime minister – Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington – who stated that he had accomplished more in ten minutes with the new king than in as many days with the old one. William had a keen willingness to learn, and very early on in his reign developed an admirable business acumen. By all accounts, William did all he could to endear himself to the public and those around him – even going as far as replacing his French and German chefs with English ones.

83055e797e0f2e51263f8c29304ee92c_zps90cbc189.jpg

The new king, William IV of the United Kingdom.

Though the new king, amiable and popular, would soon have to weather his first storm. With the mandated elections beginning not even two months after his accession, the dark clouds were gathering on the horizon and drawing ever closer – and the imminent deluge would have ramifications far and wide.

The Storm Arrives

The people of the United Kingdom – or rather, those wealthy landed gentlemen who were enfranchised – went to the polls for the first time in 1830 on the 29th of July. Parliament had been dissolved a month earlier, following four years of turmoil amongst Lord Liverpool's Tories. Liverpool himself had retired in 1827 due to ill-health, and was replaced by the moderate George Canning, who struggled to control the ultra-Tory wing under Sir Robert Peel – Peel having been overlooked as Liverpool's successor by George IV. After a brief premiership of only one-hundred and nineteen days, Canning met with a final end – dying on the 8th August 1827.

The ill-fated Canning was replaced by the Viscount Goderich – once again, at the behest of George, still angry at Wellington and Peel for refusing to work with Canning. The new prime minister was by all accounts a brilliant administrator, though was beset by external factors and prejudices. Even George, Goderich's one-time benefactor, turned on him in the end, describing him as "a damned, snivelling, blubbering blockhead". Under rising pressure from the king and the Whigs, who had supported his cabinet, the Viscount resigned in January 1828. In doing so, he set the stage for the elections.

Goderich was replaced by Wellington, the former Napoleonic war hero turned prominent Tory politician. During the latter half of Goderich's premiership, the Iron Duke had gradually been distancing himself from the so-called 'ultra-Tories', who had been against the Viscount's coalition. Upon Goderich's resignation, George was forced to accept that a Tory ministry was inevitable – and, indeed, would be preferable. Wellington was appointed in January 1828, and would remain prime minister until the elections – bringing a turbulent four-year term Tory administration to an end.

def52700ba6ba0bd6ef12ab9ba001591_zps780eeaf0.jpg

The Iron Duke, circa 1830.

Initially, one might point out this election for a matter other than the circumstances in which it occurred. The United Kingdom long having lapsed into a nominally two-party system, the election of 1830 was contested by not two, but three parties. Daniel O'Connell and his Irish Repeal party had succeeded in bringing about an end to the ban on Catholics holding seats in parliament only the year before, and were now looking to challenge the Whigs and the Tories with a contentious manifesto, largely centred around the repealing of the Act of Union.

The main two parties were far more predictably set. The Tories, under the leadership of Wellington, were fractured, essentially going to the hustings as two seperate parties – Wellington's Tories, and Edward Knatchbull's 'Ultra-Tories'. By contrast, the Whigs – though previously divided by the Canningite coalition – were now largely unified, though went to the polls without a de jure leader – having been leaderless since 1824, when the Earl Grey gave up the position – largely due to the animosity expressed towards him by George, who seemingly had no desire to have the man anywhere near his government. The Marquess of Lansdowne had held the dubious position of 'acting leader' ever since, and so went to the polls as such. Despite this, Grey remained the most influential party member, and his chances of a governmental position had increased with the accession of William.

df63837a70a2952103145830b0ac2eb2_zps76986b30.jpg

Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne.

To say that the election process was drawn out would be something of an understatement. Returning officers of the period scheduled the dates of the ballot, with such events on some occasions taking days. The first contest was on the 29th July, while the election's final bout had to wait until the 1st September. By the end of the election, 658 such battles had been fought across England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, and the results were in.

Despite everything, Wellington and his Tories – and with them, Knatchbull's 'Ultra-Tories' – had prevailed, winning 250 seats to the 196 of Lansdowne and his Whigs. Neither party, however, had hit the 330 seats needed for a majority.[1] Any illusions that the political turmoil of the time would be solved with the election of a new parliament were naïve at best. Though the deluge may have ended, the storm clouds had by no means cleared. Wellington and his victorious Tories now faced an uphill battle just to cling on to the power they had supposedly won.

9thParliament_zpsa69bcef7.png

The 9th Parliament of the United Kingdom. Note that neither party has the majority, with a large number of independents occupying the benches.

The Perilous Question

Wellington lead his Tories into government in the September of 1830. Having won a majority in the house,[2] one could perhaps be forgiven for expecting that the Ninth Parliament would be far less turbulent than its predecessors.

During one of the first debates of the new parliament, an Opposition member of the house brought up the topic of parliamentary reform, which, at this time, was possibly the most contentious topic regularly discussed in the house.[3] Though having previously aligned himself further towards the moderate wing of the party, it was clear that, now safely in government, and without the threat of being barred by the new king, Wellington would not necessarily be sharing their views. As far as Wellington was concerned, in discussing reform, the Opposition might have well have been demanding that the House be tastefully refurbished and reopened as a billiards club.

In a debatably absolutist speech to the House, Wellington stated how he felt duty-bound to resist reform. This 'Ultra-Tory' stance proved incredibly unpopular, and, once again, turbulence hit the House. The Iron Duke,[4] the dashing war-hero of little over a decade ago, had been brought low by the Perilous Question, and with him fell his government. Wellington resigned in November after a vote of no confidence. His replacement? The eminent Charles Grey, who would become the first Whig premier for over twenty years.

91b18252c76753a9a091832134959359_zps0e49a067.jpg

Charles Grey, the Earl Grey.

A Precarious State of Affairs

The Earl Grey (later of tea fame) was elevated to the position of prime minister for the first – and only – time in 1830 in the aftermath of the turbulence following the elections. He came to office at a time when the Whigs were in the minority in the House, though did so all guns blazing. Grey, surrounded by aristocratic colleagues, shocked all by proposing a wide scale programme of parliamentary reform. The Tories – still nominally the majority in the House – were aghast, to say the least, and when the Whigs finally proposed the Reform Bill, they sprung into action.

Despite having passed its second reading by one vote, the Tories had a defence against the bill. General Isaac Gascoyne introduced a so-called 'wrecking amendment'[5] to the House. The motion carried, and Grey had to respond drastically. On the 22nd April 1831, King William appeared at the House with one purpose[6]. Grey had had parliament dissolved. Once again, for the second time in less than a year, the nation would go to the polls.

This election, however, would be decidedly more clear-cut. This time, the Whigs were able to go on the hustings with a firm leadership, choosing, naturally, to stick with Grey. Likewise, the Tories – 'Ultra' and otherwise – stuck with Wellington, whose popularity had seemingly plunged new depths. If one considers Grey the de facto leader in 1830, the election of 1831 was essentially a rerun of those of the previous year. This time around, however, things would be much more decisive.

On the back of reformist sentiments in the country, Grey and his Whigs were able to secure practically every electoral district in which voters actually existed, leaving Wellington with naught but rotten boroughs.[7] The Whigs had secured a convincing majority of forty seats. Grey had retained power, and this time he would have the support of his party fully behind him. The Whigs reintroduced their Reform Bill in July, and despite opponents delaying its progress, the bill was passed by more than one-hundred votes in September. It would now need to get past the Lords.

10thParliament_zps85b97693.png

The 10th Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Whigs now possess a clear majority, with a notable reduction of Independent candidates from the previous parliament. Note also the continued absence of the Irish Repeal party from the benches.

- – ~ • ~ – -

1: The best estimate of true figures in terms of support we have today effectively gives Wellington 310 seats.
2: Relative to the number of Whig seats.
3: Or at least, the most contentious topic that made it into the minutes, one would imagine.
4: Incidentally, this cognomen was first coined around this time by Irish journalists, with whom he was unpopular. During the reform crisis, he was forced to place iron bars over his windows in order to prevent (further) damage by rioters, hence the 'Iron Duke'.
5: That is, a bill which, disguised within its text, creates a bill currently being debated – in this case, the Reform Bill – useless. Gascoyne's bill actually prevented the number of MPs in England and Wales being reduced.
6: The King arrived at such short notice, in fact, that there were worries that his staff would not be able to find a horse to take him, at which he reportedly quipped 'Then I will go in a Hackney cab!' A horse was soon found.
7: Daniel O'Connell and his Irish Repeal party once again ran to no avail.
 
Last edited:

LordTempest

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And thus was the greatest Tory defeat prior to 1997... One cannot help but feel sorry for Wellington and his slide into obscurity, but I suspect he just might make a comeback in the next update. Preferably a comeback involving either pistols or swords... or cannons, even. ;)

Also somewhat disappointed that you didn't show any fancy election results graphics :(
 

GreatUberGeek

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Great update, I'm always a sucker for a good political British history, especially one like yours.
 

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that was an intresting update, I suck in history (especially political) of that time period (guess I was too busy with studying the Belgian revolution, and I forgot the other parts fo the world :D), so, this is very intresting for me, and of course well written.