“Mind a complete blank the whole journey.”

From: Rosebery – Statesman in Turmoil (2005), by Leo McKinstry:

Rosebery was already engaged to make two important speeches, and in them he tried to rectify the situation. The first was delivered on the night of the 14th (March 1894) at St James’s Hall, in his capacity as a London County Councillor…

The second key address was given three nights later at the Corn Exchange in Edinburgh, and its aim was to settle the anxious supporters of Home Rule. Morley had warned him beforehand that the situation was ‘of no small gravity and danger’, since a section of the Irish camp wanted to overthrow the Government. ‘They are a minority but if your deliverance should be chilling or ambiguous, they will be reinforced by men enough to make them a majority,’ wrote Morley on 16 March. Confirming that he was still pledged to Home Rule, Rosebery explained that by his ‘predominant partner’ remark he had only meant that a popular demand in England for Irish self-government could not be resisted by the Lords. Although it lacked the power and conviction of his LCC appearance, this Edinburgh speech did enough to satisfy both the Irish, and the Liberal rank-and-file. ‘The whole atmosphere of the House is different tonight. The tension is off and Edinburgh has cleared the air,’ wrote Ellis, though Rosebery’s diary shows how difficult he found the experience:

16 March Tried to do something towards tomorrow’s speech and failed.

17 March To Edinburgh. Mind a complete blank the whole journey. Entered the Corn Exchange in despair. Things went better than might have been expected.

One man dissatisfied with Edinburgh was Joseph Chamberlain, who had felt that Rosebery’s declaration on Home Rule might open the way to a rapprochement between the divided forces of Liberalism…

…it was purest fantasy on Chamberlain’s part to believe that Rosebery could have achieved a reconciliation with the Liberal Unionists by simply ditching Home Rule. Savagely anti-Irish, cold and authoritarian, he never understood that the mainstream of the Liberal party actually believed in the policy. If Rosebery had taken Chamberlain’s line, he would soon have found himself in the wilderness…”

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