Perhaps we are going out on a limb in claiming that here is another discovery that rates with the Boswell papers and the...



Perhaps we are going out on a limb in claiming that here is another discovery that rates with the Boswell papers and the Walpole letters, and that recaptures a personality and a period as vividly as does Cecil's Melbourne. This book, compiled from the personal papers of the Second Viscount Palmerston, father of the great Victorian Prime Minister, ""Pam"", is superbly edited by a British journalist, staff of the Daily Mail and BBC, and is not merely the portrait of an 18th century English nobleman, but also that of his family, his friends and the political background of the time. Today, relatively unknown and obscured by his famous son, the Second Viscount Palmerston (1739-1802) was a person of considerable consequence, hearty and bustling, a spectator and recorder of the events of his day. He spent years in Parliament, and his travels were wide and notable. During the French Revolution he attempted to bring the King and Queen to England; and of his life and travels he kept such careful ""engagement diaries"" that one may learn from them what he did every night. An inheritor of wealth, he was noted for his hospitality, and scarcely one famous name of the time is missing from his guest lists at Broadlands, the family seat, where the papers forming this book were recently discovered. Palmerston married twice and the correspondence of his enchanting second wife, Mary Mee, is one of the delights of the book, as is his own pride in the son who was to become Prime Minister. Although a man of high principles, Palmerston was no prude, gambling mildly and keeping mistresses in the years between his two marriages, one of these ladies later attempting, with dismal failure, to blackmail him. Lacking the uninhibited charm of the Boswell journals and the waspish acidity of Walpole's letters, the Palmerston papers have a flavor of their own quite apart from their historical significance, and the book belongs in all public and university libraries and on the reading lists of all students of 18th century England. For devotees of diaries and personal records it is a book to be owned, not borrowed.

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 1957


Page Count: -

Publisher: Houghton, Mifflin

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1957