IMPORTANT UNPUBLISHED LETTER FROM THE END OF HIS ADMINISTRATION ABERDEEN (George Gordon, 4th Earl, 1784-1860, Prime Minister)

Fine long Autograph Letter Signed marked ‘Private’ to J. W. CROKER (John Wilson, 1780-1857, Anglo-Irish Statesman and Author) saying that his “letter contains a melancholy picture of the truth, I never recollect anything like the present state of the daily Press, and I know not what may ultimately be the consequences. I fear however, we must admit that all hope of a remedy is vain, at least it entirely passes my power to provide one. I well recollect the days of the ‘Courier’ to which you refer, and am fully aware of its prompt and successful efforts in the cause of truth. But you were young, active, and able, and you had useful fellow labourers. I should not now have the least notion how to organise a system of counteraction of this kind. I can easily understand why I should be, almost exclusively, the object of these attacks. Whatever may be the qualities of different Ministers, I am the bond by which they are united together. That once destroyed, the whole fabrick falls to pieces. This is not, however, a Ministerial question. Ministers must always expect to be treated with injustice; but it is new to me to see our Naval and Military Commanders held up to publick scorn in this fashion. I thank you very much for your letter, as a proof of confidence and old friendship. I share your apprehension but I fairly confess that I am at a loss how to avert the danger. The power of the Press for good and for ill, has been steadily progressive, and will probably continue. My great hope is the good sense of the people of this country, who are also becoming more enlightened everyday, and better able to distinguish the good from the bad. We must educate, by all the means in our power; and we shall be able to trust the people more safely with their own concerns. Many changes of popular opinion have taken place in our day and we need not altogether despair of seeing a salutary impulse given by apparently inadequate causes...”, 4 sides 8vo., Downing Street, 6th January

At this time Aberdeen was under strong attack by the Press for his handling of the Crimean War. A Russian attack on the allied supply base at Balaclava on 25th October 1854 was rebuffed. The Battle of Balaclava is noted for its infamous Charge of the Light Brigade. On 5th November 1854, Russian forces tried to relieve the siege at Sebastopol and defeat the Allied armies in the field in the Battle of Inkerman. However, this attempt failed. Dissatisfaction as to the course of the war grew in England. As reports returned detailing the mismanagement of the conflict, Parliament began to investigate. On 29th January 1855, John Arthur Roebuck introduced a motion for the appointment of a select committee to enquire into the conduct of the war. This motion was carried by the large majority of 305 in favour and 148 against. Treating this as a vote of no confidence in his government, Aberdeen resigned, and retired from active politics, speaking for the last time in the House of Lords in 1858.

Item Date:  1855

Stock No:  42391      £775

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