Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury (; 3 February 183022 August 1903) was a British statesman and
Conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of aest ...

politician who served as
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second-highest official in the Executive (government), executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a ...
three times for a total of over thirteen years. He was also
Foreign Secretary The secretary of state for foreign, Commonwealth and development affairs, also referred to as the foreign secretary, is a secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom ga, Rialtas na Ríochta Aontaithe sco, Govrenment o th ...
for much of his tenure, and during his last two years of office he was Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal. He avoided alignments or alliances, maintaining the policy of " splendid isolation". Lord Robert Cecil was first elected to the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorpor ...

House of Commons
in 1854 and served as
Secretary of State for India A secretary, administrative professional, or personal assistant A personal assistant, also referred to as personal aide (PA) or personal secretary (PS), is a job title describing a person who assists a specific person with their daily busin ...
Lord Derby Edward George Geoffrey Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby, (29 March 1799 – 23 October 1869) was a three-time Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of gove ...

Lord Derby
's Conservative government 1866–1867. In 1874, under Disraeli, Salisbury returned as Secretary of State for India, and, in 1878, was appointed foreign secretary, and played a leading part in the
Congress of Berlin The Congress of Berlin (13 June – 13 July 1878) was a to reorganise the states in the after the , which had been won by Russia against the . Represented at the meeting were Europe's then six : Russia, Great Britain, France, Austria-Hungary, ...
. After Disraeli's death in 1881, Salisbury emerged as Conservative leader in the House of Lords, with Sir Stafford Northcote leading the party in the Commons. He succeeded
William Ewart Gladstone William Ewart Gladstone (; 29 December 1809 – 19 May 1898) was a British statesman and Liberal Liberal or liberalism may refer to: Politics *a supporter of liberalism, a political and moral philosophy **Liberalism by country *an ...

William Ewart Gladstone
as prime minister in June 1885, and held the office until January 1886. When Gladstone came out in favour of Home Rule for Ireland, Salisbury opposed him and formed an alliance with the breakaway
Liberal Unionists The Liberal Unionist Party was a British political party that was formed in 1886 by a faction that broke away from the Liberal Party The Liberal Party is any of many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates c ...
, winning the subsequent general election. His great achievement in this term was obtaining the majority of new territory in Africa during the
Scramble for Africa The Scramble for Africa, also called the Partition of Africa, or the Conquest of Africa, was the invasion, occupation, division, and colonisation of Africa, colonization of most of Africa by seven Western Europe, Western European powers during a ...
, avoiding a war or serious confrontation with the other powers. He remained as prime minister until Gladstone's Liberals formed a government with the support of the Irish nationalists at the 1892 general election. The Liberals, however, lost the 1895 general election, and Salisbury for the third and last time became prime minister. He led Britain to victory in a bitter, controversial war against the Boers, and led the Unionists to another electoral victory in
1900 As of March 1 Events Pre-1600 *509 BC – Publius Valerius Publicola celebrates the first Roman triumph, triumph of the Roman Republic after his victory over the deposed king Lucius Tarquinius Superbus at the Battle of Silva Arsia. ...
. He relinquished the premiership to his nephew
Arthur Balfour Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, (, ; 25 July 184819 March 1930) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1902 to 1905. He was a member of the Conservative Party. As Foreign Secretary in the Lloyd George ministry, he issued ...

Arthur Balfour
in 1902 and died in 1903. He was the last prime minister to serve from the
House of Lords The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the of the . Membership is by , or . Like the , it meets in the . ar ...

House of Lords
. Historians agree that Salisbury was a strong and effective leader in foreign affairs, with a wide grasp of the issues. Paul Smith characterises his personality as "deeply neurotic, depressive, agitated, introverted, fearful of change and loss of control, and self-effacing but capable of extraordinary competitiveness." A representative of the landed aristocracy, he held the reactionary credo, "Whatever happens will be for the worse, and therefore it is in our interest that as little should happen as possible." Searle says that instead of seeing his party's victory in 1886 as a harbinger of a new and more popular Conservatism, he longed to return to the stability of the past, when his party's main function was to restrain demagogic liberalism and democratic excess.

Early life: 1830–1852

Lord Robert Cecil was born at
Hatfield House Hatfield House is a country house An English country house is a large house or mansion in the English countryside. Such houses were often owned by individuals who also owned a Townhouse (Great Britain), town house. This allowed them to s ...

Hatfield House
, the third son of the 2nd Marquess of Salisbury and Frances Mary, ''née'' Gascoyne. He was a patrilineal descendant of
Lord Burghley William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley (13 September 15204 August 1598) was an English statesman, the chief adviser of Queen Elizabeth I Elizabeth I (7 September 153324 March 1603) was Queen of England and Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éi ...
and the
1st Earl of Salisbury
1st Earl of Salisbury
, chief ministers of
Elizabeth I Elizabeth I (7 September 153324 March 1603) was Queen of England and Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to i ...

Elizabeth I
. The family owned vast rural estates in
Hertfordshire Hertfordshire (; often abbreviated Herts) is one of the home counties in southern England England is a that is part of the . It shares land borders with to its west and to its north. The lies northwest of England and the to the s ...

Dorset Dorset (; archaically In language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system compose ...

. This wealth increased sharply in 1821, when his father married his mother, Frances Mary Gascoyne, heiress of a wealthy merchant and Member of Parliament who had bought large estates in Essex and Lancashire.Andrew Roberts, ''Salisbury: Victorian Titan'' (2000) Robert had a miserable childhood, with few friends; he filled his time with reading. He was bullied unmercifully at the schools he attended. In 1840, he went to
Eton College Eton College () is a public school (private sector) for boys in Eton, Berkshire Eton ( ) is a town in Berkshire, England, on the opposite bank of the River Thames to Windsor, connected to it by Windsor Bridge. The civil parish In ...

Eton College
, where he did well in French, German, Classics, and Theology; however, he left in 1845 because of intense bullying.Paul Smith,
Cecil, Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-, third marquess of Salisbury (1830–1903)
, ''Oxford Dictionary of National Biography''.
The unhappy schooling shaped his pessimistic outlook on life and his negative views on democracy. He decided that most people were cowardly and cruel, and that the mob would run roughshod over sensitive individuals. In December 1847 he went to
Christ Church, Oxford Christ Church ( la, Ædes Christi, the temple or house, ''wikt:aedes, ædēs'', of Christ, and thus sometimes known as "The House") is a Colleges of the University of Oxford, constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. Christ C ...

Christ Church, Oxford
, where he received an honorary fourth class in Mathematics conferred by nobleman's privilege due to ill health. Whilst at Oxford he found the
Oxford movement The Oxford Movement was a movement of High Church The term ''high church'' refers to beliefs and practices of Christian ecclesiology In Christian theology Christian theology is the theology of Christianity, Christian belief and practi ...
or "Tractarianism" to be an intoxicating force; he had an intense religious experience that shaped his life. He was involved in the
Oxford Union The Oxford Union Society, commonly referred to simply as the Oxford Union, is a debating society in the city of Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2017, its population was estima ...
serving as Secretary and Treasurer of the Society. In 1853 he was elected a prize fellow of
All Souls College, Oxford All Souls College (official name: College of the Souls of All the Faithful Departed) is a Colleges of the University of Oxford, constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. Unique to All Souls, all of its members automatically bec ...

All Souls College, Oxford
. In April 1850 he joined
Lincoln's Inn The Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn is one of the four Inns of Court The Inns of Court in London are the professional associations for barristers A barrister is a type of lawyer A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices ...

Lincoln's Inn
, but did not enjoy law. His doctor advised him to travel for his health, and so in July 1851 to May 1853 Cecil travelled through
Cape Colony The Cape Colony ( nl, Kaapkolonie), also known as the Cape of Good Hope, was a British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and Cro ...
, Australia, including
Tasmania Tasmania (), abbreviated as TAS, is an island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atol ...
, and New Zealand. He disliked the Boers and wrote that free institutions and self-government could not be granted to the Cape Colony because the Boers outnumbered the British three-to-one, and "it will simply be delivering us over bound hand and foot into the power of the Dutch, who hate us as much as a conquered people can hate their conquerors". He found the Native South Africans "a fine set of men – whose language bears traces of a very high former civilisation", similar to Italian. They were "an intellectual race, with great firmness and fixedness of will" but "horribly immoral" as they lacked theism. In the
Bendigo Bendigo is a city in Victoria Victoria most commonly refers to: * Victoria (Australia), a state of the Commonwealth of Australia * Victoria, British Columbia, provincial capital of British Columbia, Canada * Victoria (mythology), Roman goddes ...

goldmine in Australia, he claimed that "there is not half as much crime or insubordination as there would be in an English town of the same wealth and population". Ten thousand miners were policed by four men armed with carbines, and at 30,000 people were protected by 200 policemen, with over 30,000 ounces of gold mined per week. He believed that there was "generally far more civility than I should be likely to find in the good town of Hatfield" and claimed this was due to "the government was that of the Queen, not of the mob; from above, not from below. Holding from a supposed right (whether real or not, no matter)" and from "the People the source of all legitimate power," Cecil said of the Māori of New Zealand: "The natives seem when they have converted to make much better Christians than the white man". A Maori chief offered Cecil five acres near
Auckland Auckland ( mi, Tāmaki Makaurau) is a large metropolitan city in the North Island of New Zealand. The List of New Zealand urban areas by population, most populous urban area in the country, Auckland has an urban population of about It is locate ...

, which he declined.

Member of Parliament: 1853–1866

He entered the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorpor ...
as a
Conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of aest ...

on 22 August
1853 Events January–March * January 6 – Florida Governor Thomas Brown (Florida politician), Thomas Brown signs legislation that provides public support for the new East Florida Seminary, leading to the establishment of the University of Fl ...
, as MP for Stamford in Lincolnshire. He retained this seat until he succeeded to his father's peerages in 1868 and it was not contested during his time as its representative. In his election address he opposed secular education and "
ultramontane An image of Church. Ultramontanism is a clerical political conception within the Catholic Church that places strong emphasis on the prerogatives and powers of the Pope. History The term's origins are in ecclesiastical language from the Middle Ag ...
" interference with the
Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is a Christian church Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Critic ...
which was "at variance with the fundamental principles of our constitution". He would oppose "any such tampering with our representative system as shall disturb the reciprocal powers on which the stability of our constitution rests". In 1867, after his brother Eustace complained of being addressed by constituents in a hotel, Cecil responded: "A hotel infested by influential constituents is worse than one infested by bugs. It's a pity you can't carry around a powder insecticide to get rid of vermin of that kind". In December 1856 Cecil began publishing articles for the '' Saturday Review'', to which he contributed anonymously for the next nine years. From 1861 to 1864 he published 422 articles in it; in total the weekly published 608 of his articles. The ''
Quarterly Review The ''Quarterly Review'' was a literary and political periodical founded in March 1809 by the well known London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinctio ...
'' was the foremost intellectual journal of the age and of the twenty-six issues published between spring 1860 and summer 1866, Cecil had anonymous articles in all but three of them. He also wrote lead articles for the Tory daily newspaper the ''Standard''. In 1859 Cecil was a founding co-editor of ''Bentley's Quarterly Review'', with John Douglas Cook and Rev. William Scott; but it closed after four issues. Salisbury criticised the foreign policy of
Lord John Russell John Russell, 1st Earl Russell, (18 August 1792 – 28 May 1878), known by his courtesy title Courtesy (from the word ''courteis'', from the 12th century) is gentle politeness and courtly manners. In the Middle Ages In the his ...

Lord John Russell
, claiming he was "always being willing to sacrifice anything for peace... colleagues, principles, pledges... a portentous mixture of bounce and baseness... dauntless to the weak, timid and cringing to the strong". The lessons to be learnt from Russell's foreign policy, Salisbury believed, were that he should not listen to the opposition or the press otherwise "we are to be governed… by a set of weathercocks, delicately poised, warranted to indicate with unnerving accuracy every variation in public feeling". Secondly: "No one dreams of conducting national affairs with the principles which are prescribed to individuals. The meek and poor-spirited among nations are not to be blessed, and the common sense of Christendom has always prescribed for national policy principles diametrically opposed to those that are laid down in the
Sermon on the Mount The Sermon on the Mount (anglicized Linguistic anglicisation (or anglicization, occasionally anglification, anglifying, or Englishing) is the practice of modifying foreign words, names, and phrases to make them easier to spell, pronounce, or ...
". Thirdly: "The assemblies that meet in Westminster have no jurisdiction over the affairs of other nations. Neither they nor the Executive, except in plain defiance of international law, can interfere n the internal affairs of other countries.. It is not a dignified position for a Great Power to occupy, to be pointed out as the busybody of Christendom". Finally, Britain should not threaten other countries unless prepared to back this up by force: "A willingness to fight is the ''
point d'appui A ''point d'appui'' (French fofulcrum, in military theory, is a location where troops are assembled prior to a battle A battle is an occurrence of combat in warfare between opposing military units of any number or size. A war usually consists ...
'' of diplomacy, just as much as a readiness to go to court is the starting point of a lawyer's letter. It is merely courting dishonour, and inviting humiliation for the men of peace to use the habitual language of the men of war".

Secretary of State for India: 1866–1867

In 1866 Lord Robert, now Viscount Cranborne after the death of his older brother, entered the third government of
Lord Derby Edward George Geoffrey Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby, (29 March 1799 – 23 October 1869) was a three-time Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of gove ...

Lord Derby
Secretary of State for India A secretary, administrative professional, or personal assistant A personal assistant, also referred to as personal aide (PA) or personal secretary (PS), is a job title describing a person who assists a specific person with their daily busin ...
. When in 1867
John Stuart Mill John Stuart Mill (20 May 1806 – 7 May 1873), also cited as J. S. Mill, was an English philosopher, Political economy, political economist, Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliament (MP) and civil servant. One of the most i ...
proposed a type of
proportional representation#REDIRECT Proportional representation Proportional representation (PR) characterizes electoral systems in which divisions in an electorate are reflected proportionately in the elected body. The concept applies mainly to geographical, and to ideolog ...

proportional representation
, Cranborne argued that: "It was not of our atmosphere—it was not in accordance with our habits; it did not belong to us. They all knew that it could not pass. Whether that was creditable to the House or not was a question into which he would not inquire; but every Member of the House the moment he saw the scheme upon the Paper saw that it belonged to the class of impracticable things". On 2 August when the Commons debated the Orissa famine in India, Cranborne spoke out against experts, political economy, and the government of Bengal. Utilising the , Cranborne criticised officials for "walking in a dream… in superb unconsciousness, believing that what had been must be, and that as long as they did nothing absolutely wrong, and they did not displease their immediate superiors, they had fulfilled all the duties of their station". These officials worshipped political economy "as a sort of 'fetish'... 
hey Hey or Hey! may refer to: Music * Hey (band), a Polish rock band Albums * Hey (Andreas Bourani album), ''Hey'' (Andreas Bourani album) or the title song (see below), 2014 * Hey! (Julio Iglesias album), ''Hey!'' (Julio Iglesias album) or the ti ...

seemed to have forgotten utterly that human life was short, and that man did not subsist without food beyond a few days". Three-quarters of a million people had died because officials had chosen "to run the risk of losing the lives than to run the risk of wasting the money". Cranborne's speech was received with "an enthusiastic, hearty cheer from both sides of the House" and Mill crossed the floor of the Commons to congratulate him on it. The famine left Cranborne with a lifelong suspicion of experts and in the photograph albums at his home covering the years 1866–67 there are two images of skeletal Indian children amongst the family pictures.

Reform Act 1867

When parliamentary reform came to prominence again in the mid-1860s, Cranborne worked hard to master electoral statistics until he became an expert. When the Liberal Reform Bill was being debated in 1866, Cranborne studied the census returns to see how each clause in the Bill would affect the electoral prospects in each seat. Cranborne did not expect Disraeli's conversion to reform, however. When the Cabinet met on 16 February 1867, Disraeli voiced his support for some extension of the suffrage, providing statistics amassed by Robert Dudley Baxter, showing that 330,000 people would be given the vote and all except 60,000 would be granted extra votes. Cranborne studied Baxter's statistics and on 21 February he met Lord Carnarvon, who wrote in his diary: "He is firmly convinced now that Disraeli has played us false, that he is attempting to hustle us into his measure, that Lord Derby is in his hands and that the present form which the question has now assumed has been long planned by him". They agreed to "a sort of offensive and defensive alliance on this question in the Cabinet" to "prevent the Cabinet adopting any very fatal course". Disraeli had "separate and confidential conversations...carried on with each member of the Cabinet from whom he anticipated opposition
hich Ij ( fa, ايج, also Romanize Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), ge ...

had divided them and lulled their suspicions". That same night Cranborne spent three hours studying Baxter's statistics and wrote to Carnarvon the day after that although Baxter was right overall in claiming that 30% of £10 ratepayers who qualified for the vote would not register, it would be untrue in relation to the smaller boroughs where the register is kept up to date. Cranborne also wrote to Derby arguing that he should adopt 10 shillings rather than Disraeli's 20 shillings for the qualification of the payers of direct taxation: "Now above 10 shillings you won't get in the large mass of the £20 householders. At 20 shillings I fear you won't get more than 150,000 double voters, instead of the 270,000 on which we counted. And I fear this will tell horribly on the small and middle-sized boroughs". On 23 February Cranborne protested in Cabinet and the next day analysed Baxter's figures using census returns and other statistics to determine how Disraeli's planned extension of the franchise would affect subsequent elections. Cranborne found that Baxter had not taken into account the different types of boroughs in the totals of new voters. In small boroughs under 20,000 the "fancy franchises" for direct taxpayers and dual voters would be less than the new working-class voters in each seat. The same day he met Carnarvon and they both studied the figures, coming to the same result each time: "A complete revolution would be effected in the boroughs" due to the new majority of the working-class electorate. Cranborne wanted to send his resignation to Derby along with the statistics but Cranborne agreed to Carnarvon's suggestion that as a Cabinet member he had a right to call a Cabinet meeting. It was planned for the next day, 25 February. Cranborne wrote to Derby that he had discovered that Disraeli's plan would "throw the small boroughs almost, and many of them entirely, into the hands of the voter whose qualification is less than £10. I do not think that such a proceeding is for the interest of the country. I am sure that it is not in accordance with the hopes which those of us who took an active part in resisting Mr Gladstone's Bill last year in those whom we induced to vote for us". The Conservative boroughs with populations less than 25,000 (a majority of the boroughs in Parliament) would be very much worse off under Disraeli's scheme than the Liberal Reform Bill of the previous year: "But if I assented to this scheme, now that I know what its effect will be, I could not look in the face those whom last year I urged to resist Mr Gladstone. I am convinced that it will, if passed, be the ruin of the Conservative party". When Cranborne entered the Cabinet meeting on 25 February "with reams of paper in his hands" he began by reading statistics but was interrupted to be told of the proposal by that they should agree to a £6 borough rating franchise instead of the full household suffrage, and a £20 county franchise rather than £50. The Cabinet agreed to Stanley's proposal. The meeting was so contentious that a minister who was late initially thought they were debating the suspension of ''habeas corpus''. The next day another Cabinet meeting took place, with Cranborne saying little and the Cabinet adopting Disraeli's proposal to bring in a Bill in a week's time. On 28 February a meeting of the
Carlton Club The Carlton Club is a private members' club in St James's, London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. The city stands on the River Thames in ...

Carlton Club
took place, with a majority of the 150 Conservative MPs present supporting Derby and Disraeli. At the Cabinet meeting on 2 March, Cranborne, Carnarvon and General Peel were pleaded with for two hours not to resign, but when Cranborne "announced his intention of resigning...Peel and Carnarvon, with evident reluctance, followed his example".
Lord John Manners John James Robert Manners, 7th Duke of Rutland, (13 December 18184 August 1906), known as Lord John Manners before 1888, was an English statesman A statesman or stateswoman is usually a politician A politician is a person active in party pol ...
observed that Cranborne "remained unmoveable". Derby closed his red box with a sigh and stood up, saying "The Party is ruined!" Cranborne got up at the same time, with Peel remarking: "Lord Cranborne, do you hear what Lord Derby says?" Cranborne ignored this and the three resigning ministers left the room. Cranborne's resignation speech was met with loud cheers and Carnarvon observed that it was "moderate and in good taste – a sufficient justification for us who seceded and yet no disclosure of the frequent changes in policy in the Cabinet". Disraeli introduced his Bill on 18 March and it would extend the suffrage to all rate-paying householders of two years' residence, dual voting for graduates or those of a learned profession, or those with £50 in governments funds or in the Bank of England or a savings bank. These "fancy franchises", as Cranborne had foreseen, did not survive the Bill's course through Parliament; dual voting was dropped in March, the compound householder vote in April; and the residential qualification was reduced in May. In the end the county franchise was granted to householders rated at £12 annually. On 15 July the third reading of the Bill took place and Cranborne spoke first, in a speech which his biographer Andrew Roberts has called "possibly the greatest oration of a career full of powerful parliamentary speeches". Cranborne observed how the Bill "bristled with precautions, guarantees and securities" had been stripped of these. He attacked Disraeli by pointing out how he had campaigned against the Liberal Bill in 1866 yet the next year introduced a Bill more extensive than the one rejected. In the peroration Cranborne said:
I desire to protest, in the most earnest language which I am capable of using, against the political morality on which the manoeuvres of this year have been based. If you borrow your
political ethicsPolitical ethics Political ethics not only permits leaders to do things that would be wrong in private life, but requires them to meet higher standards than would be necessary in private life. For example, they may have less of a right of privacy th ...
from the ethics of the political adventurer, you may depend upon it the whole of your representative institutions will crumble beneath your feet. It is only because of that mutual trust in each other by which we ought to be animated, it is only because we believe that expressions and convictions expressed, and promises made, will be followed by deeds, that we are enabled to carry on this party Government which has led this country to so high a pitch of greatness. I entreat honourable Gentlemen opposite not to believe that my feelings on this subject are dictated simply by my hostility on this particular measure, though I object to it most strongly, as the House is aware. But, even if I took a contrary view – if I deemed it to be most advantageous, I still should deeply regret that the position of the Executive should have been so degraded as it has been in the present session: I should deeply regret to find that the House of Commons has applauded a policy of ''
legerdemain Sleight of hand (also known as prestidigitation or ''legerdemain'' ()) refers to fine motor skills when used by performing artists in different art forms to entertain or manipulate. It is closely associated with close-up magic, card magic, card f ...
''; and I should, above all things, regret that this great gift to the people – if gift you think – should have been purchased at the cost of a political betrayal which has no parallel in our Parliamentary annals, which strikes at the root of all that mutual confidence which is the very soul of our party Government, and on which only the strength and freedom of our representative institutions can be sustained.
In his article for the October ''Quarterly Review'', entitled 'The Conservative Surrender', Cranborne criticised Derby because he had "obtained the votes which placed him in office on the faith of opinions which, to keep office, he immediately repudiated...He made up his mind to desert these opinions at the very moment he was being raised to power as their champion". Also, the annals of modern parliamentary history could find no parallel for Disraeli's betrayal; historians would have to look "to the days when
Sunderland Sunderland () is a port city and the administrative centre of the City of Sunderland metropolitan borough in Tyne and Wear, North East England. Sunderland is situated near the mouth of the River Wear which flows through the city and as well as ...
directed the Council, and accepted the favours of
James James is a common English language surname and given name: * James (name), the typically masculine first name James * James (surname), various people with the last name James James or James City may also refer to: People * King James (disambiguati ...

when he was negotiating the invasion of
William William is a male Male (symbol: ♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete (sex cell) known as sperm, which fuses with the larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertilization. A male organism cannot sexual reproducti ...

". Disraeli responded in a speech that Cranborne was "a very clever man who has made a very great mistake".

In opposition: 1868–1874

In 1868, on the death of his father, he inherited the Marquessate of Salisbury, thereby becoming a member of the
House of Lords The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the of the . Membership is by , or . Like the , it meets in the . ar ...

House of Lords
. In 1869 he was elected
Chancellor of the University of Oxford This is a list of chancellors of the University of Oxford , mottoeng = Psalm 27, The Lord is my light , established = , endowment = £6.1 billion (including colleges) (as of 31 July 2019) , budget = £2.145 billion (2019–20) ...
and elected a
Fellow of the Royal Society Fellowship of the Royal Society (FRS, ForMemRS and HonFRS) is an award granted by the judges of the Royal Society The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a and the 's national . Found ...
. Between 1868 and 1871, he was chairman of the
Great Eastern Railway The Great Eastern Railway (GER) was a pre-grouping British railway company, whose main line linked London Liverpool Street Liverpool Street station, also known as London Liverpool Street, is a London station group, central London railway t ...
, which was then experiencing losses. During his tenure, the company was taken out of
Chancery Chancery may refer to: * Chancery (diplomacy), the building that houses a diplomatic mission, such as an embassy * Chancery (medieval office), a medieval writing office * Chancery (Scotland) (also called The office of Director of Chancery, or Chan ...

, and paid out a small dividend on its ordinary shares. From 1868 he was Honorary Colonel of the Hertfordshire Militia, which became the 4th (Militia) Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, in 1881, and which was commanded in South Africa during the
Second Boer War The Second Boer War ( af, Tweede Vryheidsoorlog, lit. "Second Freedom War", 11 October 189931 May 1902), also known as the Boer War, the Anglo–Boer War, or the South African War, was a conflict fought between the British Empire and the two B ...
by his eldest son.

Secretary of State for India: 1874–1878

Salisbury returned to government in 1874, serving once again as Secretary of State for India in the government of
Benjamin Disraeli Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, (21 December 1804 – 19 April 1881), was twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government ...

Benjamin Disraeli
, and Britain's Ambassador Plenipotentiary at the 1876
Constantinople Conference The 1876–77 Constantinople Conference ( tr, Tersane Konferansı "Shipyard Conference", after the venue ''Tersane Sarayı'' "Shipyard Palace") of the Great Powers (Austria-Hungary Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian E ...

Constantinople Conference
. Salisbury gradually developed a good relationship with Disraeli, whom he had previously disliked and mistrusted. During a Cabinet meeting on 7 March 1878, a discussion arose over whether to occupy
Mytilene Mytilene (; el, Μυτιλήνη, Mytilíni ) is the capital city, capital of the Greece, Greek island of Lesbos, and its port. It is also the capital and administrative center of the North Aegean Region, and hosts the headquarters of the Unive ...

Lord Derby Edward George Geoffrey Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby, (29 March 1799 – 23 October 1869) was a three-time Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of gove ...

Lord Derby
recorded in his diary that " all present Salisbury by far the most eager for action: he talked of our sliding into a position of contempt: of our being humiliated etc." At the Cabinet meeting the next day, Derby recorded that
Lord John Manners John James Robert Manners, 7th Duke of Rutland, (13 December 18184 August 1906), known as Lord John Manners before 1888, was an English statesman A statesman or stateswoman is usually a politician A politician is a person active in party pol ...
objected to occupying the city "on the ground of right. Salisbury treated scruples of this kind with marked contempt, saying, truly enough, that if our ancestors had cared for the rights of other people, the British empire would not have been made. He was more vehement than any one for going on. In the end the project was dropped..."

Foreign Secretary: 1878–1880

In 1878, Salisbury became foreign secretary in time to help lead Britain to "peace with honour" at the
Congress of Berlin The Congress of Berlin (13 June – 13 July 1878) was a to reorganise the states in the after the , which had been won by Russia against the . Represented at the meeting were Europe's then six : Russia, Great Britain, France, Austria-Hungary, ...
. For this he was rewarded with the
Order of the Garter (Shame on him who thinks evil of it) , eligibility = , criteria = At Her Majesty's pleasure , status = Currently constituted , founder = Edward III Edward III (13 November 131221 June 1377), also known as Edward ...
along with Disraeli.

Leader of the Opposition: 1881–1885

Following Disraeli's death in 1881, the Conservatives entered a period of turmoil. The party's previous leaders had all been appointed as Prime Minister by the reigning monarch on advice from their retiring predecessor, and no process was in place to deal with leadership succession in case either the leadership became vacant while the party was in opposition, or the outgoing leader died without designating a successor, situations which both arose from the death of Disraeli (a formal leadership election system would not be adopted by the party until 1964, shortly after the government of
Alec Douglas-Home Alexander Frederick Douglas-Home, Baron Home of the Hirsel, (; 2 July 1903 – 9 October 1995) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of governm ...
fell). Salisbury became the leader of the Conservative members of the House of Lords, though the overall leadership of the party was not formally allocated. So he struggled with the Commons leader , a struggle in which Salisbury eventually emerged as the leading figure. Historian Richard Shannon argues that while Salisbury presided over one of the longest periods of Tory dominance, he misinterpreted and mishandled his election successes. Salisbury's blindness to the middle class and reliance on the aristocracy prevented the Conservatives from becoming a majority party.

Reform Act 1884

In 1884 Gladstone introduced a
Reform BillIn the United Kingdom, Reform Act is legislation concerning electoral matters. It is most commonly used for laws passed in the 19th century and early 20th century to enfranchise new groups of voters and to redistribute seats in the House of Commons o ...
which would extend the suffrage to two million rural workers. Salisbury and Northcote agreed that any Reform Bill would be supported only if a parallel redistributionary measure was introduced as well. In a speech in the Lords, Salisbury claimed: "Now that the people have in no real sense been consulted, when they had, at the last General Election, no notion of what was coming upon them, I feel that we are bound, as guardians of their interests, to call upon the government to appeal to the people, and by the result of that appeal we will abide". The Lords rejected the Bill and Parliament was prorogued for ten weeks. Writing to Canon
Malcolm MacColl Malcolm MacColl (27 March 1831 – 5 April 1907), British clergyman and publicist, was the son of a poor Scottish crofter or labourer in Glenfinnan who died when his son was still a boy. Despite this difficult beginning, MacColl's intellectual exer ...
, Salisbury believed that Gladstone's proposals for reform without redistribution would mean "the absolute effacement of the Conservative Party. It would not have reappeared as a political force for thirty years. This conviction...greatly simplified for me the computation of risks". At a meeting of the Carlton Club on 15 July, Salisbury announced his plan for making the government introduce a Seats (or Redistribution) Bill in the Commons whilst at the same time delaying a Franchise Bill in the Lords. The unspoken implication being that Salisbury would relinquish the party leadership if his plan was not supported. Although there was some dissent, Salisbury carried the party with him. Salisbury wrote to Lady John Manners on 14 June that he did not regard female suffrage as a question of high importance "but when I am told that my ploughmen are capable citizens, it seems to me ridiculous to say that educated women are not just as capable. A good deal of the political battle of the future will be a conflict between religion and unbelief: & the women will in that controversy be on the right side". On 21 July, a large meeting for reform was held at
Hyde Park Hyde Park may refer to: Places In England * Hyde Park, London, a Royal Park in Central London * Hyde Park, Leeds, an inner-city area of north-west Leeds * Hyde Park, Sheffield, district of Sheffield * Hyde Park, in Hyde, Greater Manchester * Hyde ...

Hyde Park
. Salisbury said in ''
The Times ''The Times'' is a British Newspaper#Daily, daily Newspaper#National, national newspaper based in London. It began in 1785 under the title ''The Daily Universal Register'', adopting its current name on 1 January 1788. ''The Times'' and its s ...
'' that "the employment of mobs as an instrument of public policy is likely to prove a sinister precedent". On 23 July at Sheffield, Salisbury said that the government "imagine that thirty thousand Radicals going to amuse themselves in London on a given day expresses the public opinion of the day...they appeal to the streets, they attempt legislation by picnic". Salisbury further claimed that Gladstone adopted reform as a "cry" to deflect attention from his foreign and economic policies at the next election. He claimed that the House of Lords was protecting the British constitution: "I do not care whether it is an hereditary chamber or any other – to see that the representative chamber does not alter the tenure of its own power so as to give a perpetual lease of that power to the party in predominance at the moment". On 25 July at a reform meeting in Leicester consisting of 40,000 people, Salisbury was burnt in effigy and a banner quoted Shakespeare's ''Henry VI'': "Old Salisbury – shame to thy silver hair, Thou mad misleader". On 9 August in Manchester, over 100,000 came to hear Salisbury speak. On 30 September at Glasgow, he said: "We wish that the franchise should pass but that before you make new voters you should determine the constitution in which they are to vote". Salisbury published an article in the ''
National Review ''National Review'' is an American semi-monthly conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the p ...
'' for October, titled ‘The Value of Redistribution: A Note on Electoral Statistics’. He claimed that the Conservatives "have no cause, for Party reasons, to dread enfranchisement coupled with a fair redistribution". Judging by the 1880 results, Salisbury asserted that the overall loss to the Conservatives of enfranchisement without redistribution would be 47 seats. Salisbury spoke throughout Scotland and claimed that the government had no mandate for reform when it had not appealed to the people. Gladstone offered wavering Conservatives a compromise a little short of enfranchisement and redistribution, and after the Queen unsuccessfully attempted to persuade Salisbury to compromise, he wrote to Rev. James Baker on 30 October: "Politics stand alone among human pursuits in this characteristic, that no one is conscious of liking them – and no one is able to leave them. But whatever affection they may have had they are rapidly losing. The difference between now and thirty years ago when I entered the House of Commons is inconceivable". On 11 November, the Franchise Bill received its third reading in the Commons and it was due to get a second reading in the Lords. The day after at a meeting of Conservative leaders, Salisbury was outnumbered in his opposition to compromise. On 13 February, Salisbury rejected MacColl's idea that he should meet Gladstone, as he believed the meeting would be found out and that Gladstone had no genuine desire to negotiate. On 17 November, it was reported in the newspapers that if the Conservatives gave "adequate assurance" that the Franchise Bill would pass the Lords before Christmas the government would ensure that a parallel Seats Bill would receive its second reading in the Commons as the Franchise Bill went into committee stage in the Lords. Salisbury responded by agreeing only if the Franchise Bill came second. The Carlton Club met to discuss the situation, with Salisbury's daughter writing:
The three arch-funkers
Cairns Cairns (, ) is a city in Queensland Queensland ( ) is a state situated in northeastern Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Austral ...
Richmond Richmond may refer to: People * Richmond (surname) * Earl of Richmond * Duke of Richmond * Richmond C. Beatty (1905–1961), American academic, biographer and critic * Richmond Avenal, character in British sitcom List of The IT Crowd characters#R ...
and Carnarvon cried out declaring that he would accept no compromise at all as it was absurd to imagine the Government conceding it. When the discussion was at its height (very high) enter
Arthur Arthur is a very common Welsh language, Welsh masculine given name. Its etymology is disputed, but its popularity derives from it being the name of the legendary hero King Arthur. Diminutive forms of the name include Art and Artie. A common spel ...

alfourwith explicit declamation dictated by William Ewart Gladstone, GOM in Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire, Hartington's handwriting yielding the point entirely. Tableau and triumph along the line for the 'stiff' policy which had obtained terms which the funkers had not dared hope for. My father's prevailing sentiment is one of complete wonder...we have got all and more than we demanded.
Despite the controversy which had raged, the meetings of leading Liberals and Conservatives on reform at Downing Street were amicable. Salisbury and the Liberal Sir Charles Dilke, 2nd Baronet, Sir Charles Dilke dominated discussions as they had both closely studied in detail the effects of reform on the constituencies. After one of the last meetings on 26 November, Gladstone told his secretary that "Lord Salisbury, who seems to monopolise all the say on his side, has no respect for tradition. As compared with him, Mr Gladstone declares he is himself quite a Conservative. They got rid of the boundary question, minority representation, grouping and the Irish difficulty. The question was reduced to... for or against single member constituencies". The
Reform BillIn the United Kingdom, Reform Act is legislation concerning electoral matters. It is most commonly used for laws passed in the 19th century and early 20th century to enfranchise new groups of voters and to redistribute seats in the House of Commons o ...
laid down that the majority of the 670 constituencies were to be roughly equal size and return one member; those between 50,000 and 165,000 kept the two-member representation and those over 165,000 and all the counties were split up into single-member constituencies. This franchise existed until Representation of the People Act 1918, 1918.

Prime minister: 1885–1886

Salisbury became prime minister of a minority administration from 1885 to 1886. In the November 1883 issue of ''National Review'' Salisbury wrote an article titled "Labourers' and Artisans' Dwellings" in which he argued that the poor conditions of working class housing were injurious to morality and health. Salisbury said "''Laissez-faire'' is an admirable doctrine but it must be applied on both sides", as Parliament had enacted new building projects (such as the Thames Embankment) which had displaced working-class people and was responsible for "packing the people tighter": "...thousands of families have only a single room to dwell in, where they sleep and eat, multiply, and die… It is difficult to exaggerate the misery which such conditions of life must cause, or the impulse they must give to vice. The depression of body and mind which they create is an almost insuperable obstacle to the action of any elevating or refining agencies". The ''Pall Mall Gazette'' argued that Salisbury had sailed into "the turbid waters of State Socialism"; the ''Manchester Guardian'' said his article was "State socialism pure and simple" and ''The Times'' claimed Salisbury was "in favour of state socialism". In July 1885 the Housing of the Working Classes Act 1885, Housing of the Working Classes Bill was introduced by the Home Secretary, R. A. Cross, 1st Viscount Cross, R. A. Cross in the Commons and Salisbury in the Lords. When Francis Charteris, 10th Earl of Wemyss, Lord Wemyss criticised the Bill as "strangling the spirit of independence and the self-reliance of the people, and destroying the moral fibre of our race in the anaconda coils of state socialism", Salisbury responded: "Do not imagine that by merely affixing to it the reproach of Socialism you can seriously affect the progress of any great legislative movement, or destroy those high arguments which are derived from the noblest principles of philanthropy and religion". Although unable to accomplish much due to his lack of a parliamentary majority, the split of the Liberals over Irish Home Rule movement, Irish Home Rule in 1886 enabled him to return to power with a majority, and, excepting a Liberal minority government (1892–95), to serve as prime minister from 1886 to 1902.

Prime minister: 1886–1892

Salisbury was back in office, although without a conservative majority; he depended on the Liberal Unionists, led by Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire, Lord Hartington. Maintaining the alliance forced Salisbury to make concessions in support of progressive legislation regarding Irish land purchases, education, and county councils. His nephew
Arthur Balfour Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, (, ; 25 July 184819 March 1930) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1902 to 1905. He was a member of the Conservative Party. As Foreign Secretary in the Lloyd George ministry, he issued ...

Arthur Balfour
acquired a strong reputation for resolute coercion in Ireland, and was promoted to leadership in the Commons in 1891. The Prime Minister proved adept at his handling of the press, as Sir Edward Walter Hamilton noted in his diary in 1887 he was: "the prime minister most accessible to the press. He is not prone to give information: but when he does, he gives it freely, & his information can always be relied on."

Foreign policy

Salisbury once again kept the foreign office (from January 1887), and his diplomacy continued to display a high level of skill, avoiding the extremes of Gladstone on the left and Disraeli on the right. His policy rejected entangling alliances–which at the time and ever since has been called " splendid isolation." He was successful in negotiating differences over colonial claims with France and others. The major problems were in the Mediterranean, where British interest had been involved for a century. It was now especially important to protect the Suez Canal and the sea lanes to India and Asia. He ended Britain's isolation through the Mediterranean Agreements (1887), Mediterranean Agreements (March and December 1887) with Kingdom of Italy, Italy and Austria-Hungary. He saw the need for maintaining control of the seas and passed the Naval Defence Act 1889, which facilitated the spending of an extra £20 million on the Royal Navy over the following four years. This was the biggest ever expansion of the navy in peacetime: ten new battleships, thirty-eight new cruisers, eighteen new torpedo boats and four new fast gunboats. Traditionally (since the Battle of Trafalgar) Britain had possessed a navy one-third larger than their nearest naval rival but now the Royal Navy was set to the two-power standard; that it would be maintained "to a standard of strength equivalent to that of the combined forces of the next two biggest navies in the world". This was aimed at French Third Republic, France and Russian Empire, Russia. Salisbury was offered a dukedom by Queen Victoria in 1886 and 1892, but declined both offers, citing the prohibitive cost of the lifestyle dukes were expected to maintain and stating that he would rather have an ancient marquessate than a modern dukedom.

1890 Ultimatum on Portugal

Trouble arose with Portugal, which had overextended itself in building a colonial empire in Africa it could ill afford. There was a clash of colonial visions between Kingdom of Portugal, Portugal (the "Pink Map", produced by the Lisbon Geographic Society after Alexandre de Serpa Pinto's, Hermenegildo Capelo's and Roberto Ivens's expeditions to Africa) and the British Empire (Cecil Rhodes's "Cape to Cairo Railway") came after years of diplomatic conflict about several African territories with Portugal and other powers. Portugal, financially hard-pressed, had to abandon several territories corresponding to today's Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe in favor of the Empire.


In 1889 Salisbury set up the London County Council and then in 1890 allowed it to build houses. However, he came to regret this, saying in November 1894 that the LCC, "is the place where collectivist and socialistic experiments are tried. It is the place where a new revolutionary spirit finds its instruments and collects its arms". Salisbury caused controversy in 1888 after Gainsford Bruce had won the Holborn (UK Parliament constituency), Holborn by-election for the Unionists, beating the Liberal William Compton, 5th Marquess of Northampton, Lord Compton. Bruce had won the seat with a smaller majority than Francis Duncan had for the Unionists in 1885. Salisbury explained this by saying in a speech in Edinburgh on 30 November: "But then Colonel Duncan was opposed to a black man, and, however great the progress of mankind has been, and however far we have advanced in overcoming prejudices, I doubt if we have yet got to the point where a British constituency will elect a black man to represent them.... I am speaking roughly and using language in its colloquial sense, because I imagine the colour is not exactly black, but at all events, he was a man of another race". The "black man" was Dadabhai Naoroji, an Indian Parsi. Salisbury's comments were criticised by the Queen and by Liberals who believed that Salisbury had suggested that only white Britons could represent a British constituency. Three weeks later, Salisbury delivered a speech at Scarborough, where he denied that "the word "black" necessarily implies any contemptuous denunciation: "Such a doctrine seems to be a scathing insult to a very large proportion of the human race... The people whom we have been fighting at Suakin, and whom we have happily conquered, are among the finest tribes in the world, and many of them are as black as my hat". Furthermore, "such candidatures are incongruous and unwise. The British House of Commons, with its traditions... is a machine too peculiar and too delicate to be managed by any but those who have been born within these isles". Naoroji was elected for Finsbury Central (UK Parliament constituency), Finsbury in 1892 and Salisbury invited him to become a Governor of the Commonwealth Institute, Imperial Institute, which he accepted. In 1888, the New York Times published an article that was extremely critical of Lord Salisbury's remark. It included the following quotation, "Of course the parsees are not black men, but the purest Aryan type in existence, with an average complexion fairer than Lord Salisbury's; but even if they were ebony hued it would be grotesque and foolish for a Prime Minister of England to insult them in such a wanton fashion as this."

Leader of the Opposition: 1892–1895

In the aftermath of the 1892 United Kingdom general election, general election of 1892, Balfour and Chamberlain wished to pursue a programme of social reform, which Salisbury believed would alienate "a good many people who have always been with us" and that "these social questions are destined to break up our party". When the Liberals and Irish Nationalists (which were a majority in the new Parliament) successfully voted against the government, Salisbury resigned the premiership on 12 August. His private secretary at the Foreign Office wrote that Salisbury "shewed indecent joy at his release". Salisbury—in an article in November for the ''
National Review ''National Review'' is an American semi-monthly conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the p ...
'' entitled 'Constitutional revision'—said that the new government, lacking a majority in England and Scotland, had no mandate for Home Rule and argued that because there was no referendum only the House of Lords could provide the necessary consultation with the nation on policies for organic change. The Lords defeated the Government of Ireland Bill 1893, second Home Rule Bill by 419 to 41 in September 1893, but Salisbury stopped them from opposing the Liberal Chancellor's death duties in 1894. In 1894 Salisbury also became president of the British Science Association, British Association for the Advancement of Science,W. K Hancock, Jean van der Poel, ''Selections from the Smuts Papers'
Volume IV
November 1918 – August 1919, p. 377
presenting a notable inaugural address on 4 August of that year. The 1895 United Kingdom general election, general election of 1895 returned a large Unionist majority.

Prime minister: 1895–1902

Salisbury's expertise was in foreign affairs. For most of his time as prime minister he served not as First Lord of the Treasury, the traditional position held by the prime minister, but as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, foreign secretary. In that capacity, he managed Britain's foreign affairs, but he was being sarcastic about a policy of "Splendid isolation"—such was not his goal.

Foreign policy

In the foreign affairs Salisbury was challenged worldwide, The long-standing policy of "Splendid isolation" had left Britain with no allies and few friends. In Europe, Germany was worrisome regarding its growing industrial and naval power, Wilhelm II of Germany, Kaiser Wilhelm's erratic foreign policy, and the instability caused by the decline of the Ottoman Empire. France was threatening British control of Sudan. In the Americas, for domestic political reasons, U.S. Presidencies of Grover Cleveland, President Cleveland manufactured a quarrel over Venezuela's border with British Guiana. In South Africa conflict was threatening with the two Boer republics. In the The Great Game, Great Game in Central Asia, the line that separated Russia and British India in 1800 was narrowing. In China the British economic dominance was threatened by other powers that wanted to control slices of China. The tension with Germany had subsided in 1890 after Heligoland–Zanzibar Treaty, a deal exchanged German holdings in East Africa for Heligoland, an island off the German coast. However, with peace-minded Bismarck retired by an aggressive new Kaiser, tensions rose and negotiations faltered. France retreated in Africa after the British dominated in the Fashoda Incident. The Venezuela crisis was settled amicably and London and Washington became friendly after Salisbury gave Washington what it wanted in the Alaska boundary dispute. The Open Door Policy and a 1902 treaty with Japan resolved the China crisis. However, in South Africa a nasty Second Boer War, Boer war broke out in 1899 and for a few months it seemed the Boers were winning.

Venezuela crisis with the United States

In 1895 the Venezuelan crisis of 1895, Venezuelan crisis with the United States erupted. A border dispute between the colony of British Guiana and United States of Venezuela, Venezuela caused a major Anglo-American crisis when the United States intervened to take Venezuela's side. Propaganda sponsored by Venezuela convinced American public opinion that the British were infringing on Venezuelan territory. The United States demanded an explanation and Salisbury refused. The crisis escalated when President Grover Cleveland, citing the Monroe Doctrine, issued an ultimatum in late 1895. Salisbury's cabinet convinced him he had to go to arbitration. Both sides calmed down and the issue was quickly resolved through arbitration which largely upheld the British position on the legal boundary line. Salisbury remained angry but a consensus was reached in London, led by Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 5th Marquess of Lansdowne, Lord Landsdowne, to seek much friendlier relations with the United States. By standing with a Latin American nation against the encroachment of the British, the US improved relations with the Latin Americans, and the cordial manner of the procedure improved American diplomatic relations with Britain. Despite the popularity of the Boers in American public opinion, official Washington supported London in the Second Boer War.


An Anglo-German agreement (1890) resolved conflicting claims in East Africa; Great Britain received large territories in Zanzibar and Uganda in exchange for the small island of Helgoland in the North Sea. Negotiations with Germany on broader issues failed. In January 1896 the reckless German Kaiser Wilhelm II escalated tensions in South Africa with his Kruger telegram congratulating Boer President Paul Kruger of the Transvaal for beating off the British Jameson Raid. German officials in Berlin had managed to stop the Kaiser from proposing a German protectorate over the Transvaal. The telegram backfired, as the British began to see Germany as a major threat. The British moved their forces from Egypt south into Sudan in 1898, securing complete control of that troublesome region. However, a strong British force unexpectedly confronted a small French military expedition at Fashoda. Salisbury Fashoda Incident, quickly resolved the tensions, and systematically moved toward friendlier relations with France. Documents in the Foreign Office archives revealed that Salisbury knew about a rape and other atrocities carried out against women and children in Benin by Consul George Annesley and his soldiers in 1897 but took no action against Annesley, who was "quietly pensioned off."

Second Boer War

After gold was discovered in the South African Republic (called Transvaal) in the 1880s, thousands of British men flocked to the gold mines. Transvaal and its sister republic the Orange Free State were small, rural, independent nations founded by Afrikaners, who descended from Dutch immigrants to the area before 1800. The newly arrived miners were needed for their labor and business operations but were distrusted by the Afrikaners, who called them "uitlanders." The uitlanders heavily outnumbered the Boers in cities and mining districts; they had to pay heavy taxes, and had limited civil rights and no right to vote. The British, jealous of the gold and diamond mines and highly protective of its people, demanded reforms, which were rejected. A small-scale private British effort to overthrow Transvaal's President Paul Kruger, the Jameson Raid of 1895, was a fiasco and presaged full-scale conflict as all diplomatic efforts failed. War started on 11 October 1899 and ended on 31 May 1902 as Great Britain faced the two small far-away Boer nations. The Prime Minister let his extremely energetic colonial minister Joseph Chamberlain take charge of the war. British efforts were based from its Cape Colony and the Colony of Natal. There were some native African allies, but generally both sides avoided using black soldiers. The British war effort was further supported by volunteers from across the Empire. All other nations were neutral, but public opinion in them was largely hostile to Britain. Inside Britain and its Empire there also was a significant opposition to the Second Boer War because of the atrocities and military failures. The British were overconfident and underprepared. Chamberlain and other top London officials ignored the repeated warnings of military advisors that the Boers were well prepared, well armed, and fighting for their homes in a very difficult terrain. The Boers with about 33,000 soldiers, against 13,000 front-line British troops, struck first, besieging Ladysmith, Kimberly, and Mafeking, and winning important battles at Colenso, Magersfontein and Stormberg in late 1899. Staggered, the British fought back, relieved its besieged cities, and prepared to invade first the Orange Free State, and then Transvaal in late 1900. The Boers refused to surrender or negotiate, and reverted to guerrilla warfare. After two years of hard fighting, Britain, using over 400,000 soldiers systematically destroyed the resistance, raising worldwide complaints about brutality. The Boers were fighting for their homes and families, who provided them with food and hiding places. The British solution was to forcefully relocate all the Boer civilians into heavily guarded concentration camps, where 28,000 died of disease. Then it systematically blocked off and tracked down the highly mobile Boer combat units. The battles were small operations; most of the 22,000 British dead were victims of disease. The war cost £217 million and demonstrated the Army urgently needed reforms but it ended in victory for the British and the Conservatives won 1900 United Kingdom general election, the Khaki election of 1900. The Boers were given generous terms, and both former republics were incorporated into the Union of South Africa in 1910. The war had many vehement critics, predominantly in the Liberal party. However, on the whole, the war was well received by the British public, which staged numerous public demonstrations and parades of support. Soon there were memorials built across Britain. Strong public demand for news coverage meant that the war was well covered by journalists – including young Winston Churchill – and photographers, as well as letter-writers and poets. General Redvers Buller, Sir Redvers Buller imposed strict censorship and had no friends in the media, who wrote him up as a blundering buffoon. In dramatic contrast, Frederick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts, Field Marshal Frederick Roberts pampered the press, which responded by making him a national hero.

German naval issues

In 1897 Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz became German Naval Secretary of State and began the transformation of the Imperial German Navy from a small, coastal defence force to a fleet meant to challenge British naval power. Tirpitz called for a ''Risikoflotte'' or "risk fleet" that would make it too risky for Britain to take on German Empire, Germany as part of wider bid to alter the international balance of power decisively in Germany's favour. At the same time German foreign minister Bernhard von Bülow called for ''Weltpolitik'' (world politics). It was the new policy of Germany to assert its claim to be a global power. Chancellor Otto von Bismarck's policy of ''Realpolitik'' (realistic politics) was abandoned as Germany was intent on challenging and upsetting international order. The long-run result was the inability of Britain and Germany to be friends or to form an alliance. Britain reacted to Germany's accelerated naval arms race by major innovations, especially those developed by John Fisher, 1st Baron Fisher, Admiral Fisher. The most important development was unveiled – after Salisbury's death – the entry of into service in 1906, which rendered all the world's battleships obsolete and set back German plans. Historians agree that Salisbury was a strong and effective leader in foreign affairs. He had a superb grasp of the issues, and was never a " splendid isolationist" but rather, says Nancy W. Ellenberger, was:
A patient, pragmatic practitioner, with a keen understanding of Britain's historic interests ... He oversaw the partition of Africa, the emergence of Germany and the United States as imperial powers, and the transfer of British attention from the Dardanelles to Suez without provoking a serious confrontation of the great powers.

Domestic policy

At home he sought to "kill Home Rule with kindness" by launching a land reform programme which helped hundreds of thousands of Irish peasants gain land ownership and largely ended complaints against English landlords. The Elementary School Teachers (Superannuation) Act of 1898 enabled teachers to secure an annuity via the payment of voluntary contributions. The Elementary Education (Defective and Epileptic Children) Act of 1899 permitted school boards to provide for the education of mentally and physically defective and epileptic children.

Honours and retirement

In 1895 and 1900 he was honoured with appointments as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and High Steward of Westminster Abbey, High Steward of the City and Liberty of Westminster, which he held for life. On 11 July 1902, in failing health and broken hearted over the death of his wife, Salisbury resigned. He was succeeded by his nephew,
Arthur Balfour Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, (, ; 25 July 184819 March 1930) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1902 to 1905. He was a member of the Conservative Party. As Foreign Secretary in the Lloyd George ministry, he issued ...

Arthur Balfour
. King Edward VII conferred upon him the Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO), with the order star set in brilliants, during his resignation audience.

Last year: 1902–1903

Salisbury, due to breathing difficulties caused by his great weight, took to sleeping in a chair at Hatfield House. By then he also suffered from a heart condition and later blood poisoning caused by an ulcerated leg. His death in August 1903 followed a fall from that chair. Salisbury was buried at St Etheldreda's Church, Hatfield, where his predecessor as prime minister, William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, Lord Melbourne, is also interred. When Salisbury died his estate was valued at 310,336 pounds sterling, (equivalent to £ in ).


Many historians portray Salisbury as a principled statesman of traditional, aristocratic conservatism: a prime minister who promoted cautious imperialism and resisted sweeping parliamentary and franchise reforms. Robert Blake, Baron Blake, Robert Blake considers Salisbury "a great foreign minister, [but] essentially negative, indeed reactionary in home affairs". Professor P.T. Marsh's estimate is more favourable than Blake's; he portrays Salisbury as a leader who "held back the popular tide for twenty years." Professor Paul Smith argues that, "into the ‘progressive’ strain of modern Conservatism he simply will not fit." Colin Matthew, H.C.G. Matthew points to "the narrow cynicism of Salisbury." One admirer, conservative historian Maurice Cowling, largely agrees with the critics and says Salisbury found the democracy born of the 1867 and 1884 Reform Acts as "perhaps less objectionable than he had expected—succeeding, through his public persona, in mitigating some part of its nastiness." Historian Peter T. Marsh states: "In the field of foreign affairs, where he was happiest and most successful, he kept his own counsel and eschewed broad principles of conduct, preferring close-eyed realism and reliability of conduct." Considerable attention has been devoted to his writings and ideas. The Conservative historian Robert Blake, Baron Blake, Robert Blake considered Salisbury "the most formidable intellectual figure that the Conservative party has ever produced". In 1977 the Salisbury Group was founded, chaired by Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 6th Marquess of Salisbury and named after the 3rd Marquess. It published pamphlets advocating conservative policies. The academic quarterly ''The Salisbury Review'' was named in his honour (by Michael Oakeshott) upon its founding in 1982. Cowling claimed that "The giant of conservative doctrine is Salisbury". It was on Cowling's suggestion that Paul Smith edited a collection of Salisbury's articles from the ''Quarterly Review''. Andrew Jones and Michael Bentley (historian), Michael Bentley wrote in 1978 that "historical inattention" to Salisbury "involves wilful dismissal of a Conservative tradition which recognizes that threat to humanity when ruling authorities engage in democratic flattery and the threat to liberty in a competitive rush of legislation". In 1967, Clement Attlee (Labour Party prime minister, 1945–51) was asked who he thought was the best prime minister of his lifetime. Attlee immediately replied: "Salisbury". The Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 6th Marquess of Salisbury, 6th Marquess of Salisbury commissioned Andrew Roberts (historian), Andrew Roberts to write Salisbury's authorised biography, which was published in 1999. After the Bering Sea Arbitration, Canadian Prime Minister Sir John Sparrow David Thompson said of Lord Salisbury's acceptance of the Arbitration Treaty that it was "one of the worst acts of what I regard as a very stupid and worthless life". The British phrase 'Bob's your uncle' is thought to have derived from Robert Cecil's appointment of his nephew,
Arthur Balfour Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, (, ; 25 July 184819 March 1930) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1902 to 1905. He was a member of the Conservative Party. As Foreign Secretary in the Lloyd George ministry, he issued ...

Arthur Balfour
, as Chief Secretary for Ireland.''From Aristotelian to Reaganomics: A Dictionary of Eponyms With Biographies in the Social Science''
by R. C. S. Trahair, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1994, p.72. Retrieved online from Google Books, 30 July 2012.
Harare, Fort Salisbury (now Harare) was named in honour of him when it was founded in September 1890. Subsequently, simply known as Salisbury, the city became the capital of Southern Rhodesia, from 1890, the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland from 1953–1963, Rhodesia from 1963–1979, Zimbabwe Rhodesia, in 1979, and finally Zimbabwe, from 1980. The name was changed to Harare in April 1982, on the second anniversary of Zimbabwe's independence. Cecil Square, near to Parliament, was also named after him and not, as is erroneously but popularly thought, after Cecil Rhodes. Other Rhodesian/Zimbabwean connections include the suburbs of Hatfield, Cranborne and New Sarum. To date he is the only British prime minister to sport a full beard. At tall, he was also the tallest prime minister.

Family and personal life

Lord Salisbury was the third son of James Gascoyne-Cecil, 2nd Marquess of Salisbury, a minor
Conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of aest ...

politician. In 1857, he defied his father, who wanted him to marry a rich heiress to protect the family's lands. He instead married Georgina Gascoyne-Cecil, Marchioness of Salisbury, Georgina Alderson, the daughter of Edward Alderson (judge), Sir Edward Alderson, a moderately notable judge and of lower social standing than the Cecils. The marriage proved a happy one. Robert and Georgina had eight children, all but one of whom survived infancy. He was an indulgent father and made sure his children had a much better childhood than the one through which he suffered. Cut off from his family money, Robert supported his family through journalism and was later reconciled with his father. *Maud Palmer, Countess of Selborne, Lady Beatrix Maud Cecil (11 April 185827 April 1950); she married William Palmer, 2nd Earl of Selborne on 27 October 1883. They had four children. *Lady Gwendolen Gascoyne-Cecil, Lady Gwendolen Cecil (28 July 186028 September 1945), author, and biographer of her father; she never married. , launched in 1899 on Lake Nyasa, was named after her. *James Gascoyne-Cecil, 4th Marquess of Salisbury, James Edward Hubert Gascoyne-Cecil, 4th Marquess of Salisbury (23 October 18614 April 1947); he married Lady Cicely Gore on 17 May 1887. They had seven children. *Lord William Cecil (bishop), Lord Rupert Ernest William Cecil, Lord Bishop of Exeter (9 March 186323 June 1936); he married Lady Florence Bootle-Wilbraham on 16 August 1887. *Robert Cecil, 1st Viscount Cecil of Chelwood, Lord Edgar Algernon Robert Cecil, 1st Viscount Cecil of Chelwood (14 September 186424 November 1958); he married Lady Eleanor Lambton on 22 January 1889. * Hon. Fanny Georgina Mildred Cecil (186524 April 1867) *Lord Edward Cecil, Lord Edward Herbert Cecil (12 July 186713 December 1918); he married Violet Maxse on 18 June 1894. They had two children. *Hugh Cecil, 1st Baron Quickswood, Lord Hugh Richard Heathcote Cecil, 1st Baron Quickswood (14 October 186910 December 1956) Salisbury suffered from prosopagnosia, a cognitive disorder which makes it difficult to recognize familiar faces.

Cabinets of Lord Salisbury




See also

* Victorian era * Historiography of the British Empire * International relations of the Great Powers (1814–1919) * Splendid isolation * Timeline of British diplomatic history


Further reading

*Adonis, A. ''Making Aristocracy Work: The Peerage and the Political System in Britain, 1884–1914'' (1993). * Benians, E.A. et al. eds. '' The Cambridge History of the British Empire Vol. iii: ''The Empire - Commonwealth 1870–1919' (1959) p. 915 and passim; coverage of Salisbury's foreign and imperial policies
* Bentley, Michael. ''Lord Salisbury's World: Conservative Environments in Late-Victorian Britain'' (2001)
online edition
* Lord Blake and H. Cecil (eds.), ''Salisbury: The Man and His Policies'' (1987). * Bright, J. Franck. ''A History of England: Period V. Imperial Reaction Victoria 1880–1901'' (vol 5, 1904); detailed political narrative; 295pp
another copy
* Brumpton, Paul R. ''Security and Progress: Lord Salisbury at the India Office'' (Greenwood Press, 2002
online edition
* Cecil, Algernon. ''British Foreign Secretaries 1807-1916'' (1927) pp 277–314
* Cecil, C. ''Life of Robert, Marquis of Salisbury'' (4 volumes, 1921–32)
* This is a long biography, written in the context of 1911, with a Conservative point of view. * Cooke, A.B. and J. Vincent, ''The Governing Passion: Cabinet Government and Party Politics in Britain, 1885–86'' (1974). *John Grenville, Grenville, J. A. S., ''Lord Salisbury and Foreign Policy: The Close of the Nineteenth Century'' (1964). * Jones, A. ''The Politics of Reform, 1884'' (1972). * Kennedy, A. L. ''Salisbury 1830–1903: Portrait of a Statesman'' (1953). * Gibb, Paul. "Unmasterly Inactivity? Sir Julian Pauncefote, Lord Salisbury, and the Venezuela Boundary Dispute." ''Diplomacy and Statecraft'' 16#1 (2005): 23–55. * Gillard, D.
"Salisbury's African Policy and the Heligoland Offer of 1890,"
''The English Historical Review'', Vol. LXXV, 1960. *Thomas P. Hughes
"Lord Salisbury's Afghan Policy,"
''The Arena,'' Vol. VI, 1892. *Jones, Andrew, and Michael Bentley, ‘Salisbury and Baldwin’, in Maurice Cowling. ed., ''Conservative Essays'' (Cassell, 1978), pp. 25–40. * Langer, William L. ''The Diplomacy of Imperialism: 1890–1902'' (2nd ed. 1950), a standard diplomatic history of Europe * Lowe, C. J.''Salisbury and the Mediterranean, 1886–1896'' (1965). * Marsh, P. ''The Discipline of Popular Government: Lord Salisbury's Domestic Statecraft, 1881–1902'' (1978). * Millman, R. ''Britain and the Eastern question, 1875–1878'' (1979). * Otte, T. G. "A question of leadership: Lord Salisbury, the unionist cabinet and foreign policy making, 1895–1900." ''Contemporary British History'' 14#4 (2000): 1–26. * Otte, T. G. "'Floating Downstream'? Lord Salisbury and British Foreign Policy, 1878–1902", in Otte (ed.), ''The Makers of British Foreign Policy: From Pitt to Thatcher'' (Palgrave, 2002), pp. 98–127. * Paul, Herbert. ''A History of Modern England'' (vol 5, 1906), covers 1885–1895
* Penson, Lillian M. "The Principles and Methods of Lord Salisbury's Foreign Policy." ''Cambridge Historical Journal'' 5#1 (1935): 87-106
*Andrew Roberts (historian), Roberts, Andrew. ''Salisbury: Victorian Titan'' (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1999), a standard scholarly biography; 940pp * Ryan, A. P. "The Marquis of Salisbury' ''History Today'' (April 1951) 1#4 pp 30-36; online. * * Richard Shannon (historian), Shannon, Richard ''The Age of Disraeli, 1868–1881: The Rise of Tory Democracy'' (1992). * Shannon, Richard ''The Age of Salisbury, 1881–1902: Unionism and Empire'' (1996). 569pp. * Seton-Watson, R. W. ''Britain in Europe, 1789–1914.'' (1938); comprehensive histor
* Smith, Paul. 'Cecil, Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-, third marquess of Salisbury (1830–1903)', ''Oxford Dictionary of National Biography'', Oxford University Press, September 2004; online edn, October 2009, accessed 8 May 2010. *David Steele (historian), Steele, David. ''Lord Salisbury: A Political biography'' (1999)
online edition
* Steele, David. "Three British Prime Ministers and the Survival of the Ottoman Empire, 1855–1902." ''Middle Eastern Studies'' 50.1 (2014): 43–60. * Wang, Shih-tsung. ''Lord Salisbury and Nationality in the East: Viewing Imperialism in Its Proper Perspective'' (Routledge, 2019). * Warren, Allen. "Lord Salisbury and Ireland, 1859–87: Principles, Ambitions and Strategies." ''Parliamentary history'' 26.2 (2007): 203–224. * Weston, C. C. ''The House of Lords and Ideological Politics: Lord Salisbury's Referendal Theory and the Conservative Party, 1846–1922'' (1995).


* Ellenberger, Nancy W. "Salisbury" in David Loades, ed. ''Reader's Guide to British History'' (2003) 2:1153–55 * Goodlad, Graham, "Salisbury as Premier: Graham Goodlad Asks Whether Lord Salisbury Deserves His Reputation as One of the Great Victorian Prime Ministers," ''History Review'' #49. 2004. pp 3+
* Lowry, Donal. ''The South African War Reappraised'' (Manchester UP, 2000). * Roberts, Andrew. "Salisbury," ''History Today,'' (Oct 1999), Vol. 49 Issue 10, p45-51

Primary sources

* Paul Smith (ed.), ''Lord Salisbury on Politics. A Selection from His Articles in the Quarterly Review, 1860–83'' (Cambridge University Press, 1972). *John Vincent (ed.), ''A Selection from the Diaries of Edward Henry Stanley, 15th Earl of Derby (1826–93) between September 1869 and March 1878'' (London: The Royal Historical Society, 1994). *R. H. Williams (ed.), ''Salisbury–Balfour Correspondence: Letters Exchanged between the Third Marquess of Salisbury and his nephew Arthur James Balfour, 1869–1892'' (1988). * Harold Temperley, and Lillian M. Penson, eds; ''Foundations of British Foreign Policy from Pitt (1792) to Salisbury (1902); Or, Documents, Old and New'' (1938
online edition
* Robert Cecil Salisbury. ''Essays by the Late Marquess of Salisbury'' (1905
* Temperley, Harold and L.M. Penson, eds. ''Foundations of British Foreign Policy: From Pitt (1792) to Salisbury (1902)'' (1938), primary sources pp 365 f

External links

* * *
Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury
on the Downing street website.
Salisbury, The Empire Builder Who Never Was
– article by Andrew Roberts; historytoday.com *

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