THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: From the News Letter of October 1865

The News Letter reflects on the death of Lord Palmerston, aged 81

Blue plaque erected in 1961 by London County Council at Cambridge House, 94 Piccadilly, Mayfair, London W1J 7BP, City of Westminster. Picture: Wikimedia Commons
Blue plaque erected in 1961 by London County Council at Cambridge House, 94 Piccadilly, Mayfair, London W1J 7BP, City of Westminster. Picture: Wikimedia Commons

Henry John Temple, Viscount Palmerston is dead, declared the News Letter this week in 1865.

The following wires had been received at the News Letter’s Belfast offices, detailing the rapid decline of Lord Palmerston at Romsey, in his home, Foxhills.

From His Lordship’s friends at Brockett Hall on October 17, 1865: “In consequence having taken cold Lord Palmerston has been seriously ill, but has steadily improved during the last three days, and is much better.”

Lord Palmerston. Picture: Robert Cutts/Flickr

Late on October 17 a further bulletin was issued. It read: “Lord Palmerston’s illness has become worse since the morning.” Then, on Wednesday, October 18, 1865, a further medical bulletin was issued at 9am reading: “Lord Palmerston’s condition altered suddenly for the worse in the evening of yesterday, and he is now gradually sinking.”

Lord Palmerston passed away at 10.45am. It is reputed that his last words were: “Die, my dear doctor? That is the last thing I shall do.”

The News Letter’s editorial noted: “The First Minister of his country, and, in many respects, the foremost man of his age, has passed from the scene, and left behind a blank which cannot be filled. Not for years have words flashed along the electric wires so saddening as those that made the brief but eloquent announcement that the great man had sunk into sleep which knows no waking, that for him was no more, and that for us he was henceforth but a figure in the great drama of history. The curtain has fallen upon an illustrious life; and men of every shade of opinion join in grieving for England’s incalculable loss.”

The News Letter added: “Lord Palmerston was, above all things, an Englishman and a patriot. He loved his country with no common love, and served her with no common zeal. That he has faults it only to say that he was not infallible. That there were moments in which, as compared with himself, he was weak, is but to say that he was human. But, take him for all in all; we shall not look upon his like again!”