Did Palmerston Say This?

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  • #2633
    Lawrie Phillips
    Participant

    In many Royal Navy offices one sees displayed a quotation ascribed to Lord Palmerston [former junior Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty, and British “Prime Minister” 1855-65] to the effect that: “If I want a thing done well in a distant part of the world, if I require a man with a good head, a good heart and plenty of common sense, I always send for a Captain in the Royal Navy”.
    Palmerston could have done worse but I have tried and failed to determine the authenticity of this quotation. The recent and very comprehensive biography of Palmerson by James Chambers (2004) makes no mention of this and the author replied to my enquiry: “What a good question – and what an excellent, irrefutable quotation. There are so many occasions on which he could have said it that I don’t know where to begin”.
    Can a fellow member provide the solution?

    #2634
    Tony Beales
    Participant

    According to Charles Rathbone Low in The Great Battles of the British Navy (London 1872), Lord Shaftesbury stated that Palmerston had often said this to him while Foreign Secretary:
    ‘What effect the almost unchequered successes gained by the skill of our naval officers and the valour of our seamen, had upon the mind of so astute and experienced a statesman as Lord Palmerston, we have on the authority of Lord Shaftesbury, who recently stated that that great nobleman, when Foreign Minister, often said to him : ” Whenever I want thing well done in a distant part of the world ; when I want a man with a good head, a good heart, lots of pluck. and plenty of common sense, I always send for a captain of the navy” ‘

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