This book on Lord Salisbury is the first volume in the biographical series on the 20 British prime ministers of the twentieth century.
Lord Salisbury (Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 1830-1903, third marques of Salisbury) was a Conservative party member who was prime minister 1885-1886, 1886-1892, and 1895-1902 during Queen Victoria’s latter years. His noble English family goes back to the days when the Tudors sat on the British throne.
Upon succeeding his father in 1868, Lord Salisbury became a very rich man, loaded with money, land and estates. His growing interest in politics, particularly foreign affairs, led to his being active in the House of Lord. Around 1878, Prime Minister Disraeli appointed Salisbury Foreign Secretary, which involved him from that day to the end of his last term as prime minister in the foreign affairs of the United Kingdom; when he was prime minister, he acted as his own foreign secretary.
Salisbury was a conservative person in all aspects of his life, an Anglican who strongly supported the Church of England as the established state Church; he did not agree with the Oxford movement which was trying to move the Anglican Church back to its Roman Catholic roots. He was also conservative with his money, investing wisely in safe ventures. Very loving towards his children and wife, he had problems with his father and stepmother.
Reading this gives the distinct impression that Lord Salisbury could be stubborn on some issues. He opposed home rule for Ireland and allowing everyone to vote, supporting the idea that property owners should be the only ones to have the right to vote. He supported the expansion of the British Empire, which involved the United Kingdom in the Boer War and was not a glorious period in British history - Salisbury and his government underestimated the Boers.
Eric Midwinter’s book also analyzes events in Salisbury’s personal and political lives. There are a few illustrations in the book and there, as well as endnotes, a bibliography and index. Sidebars feature short biographies of people and events or quotes. This book utilizes British English which may prove a minor problem for Americans. All in all, this is a very good introduction to Lord Salisbury, his life and his politics. This book is recommended to those interested in British history.