that such a combination was rendered practicable, and did eventually triumph over the enemy. The diplomatic conduct of such an alliance for three years between two great nations jealous of their military honour and fighting for no separate political advantage, tried by excessive hardships and at moments on the verge of defeat, was certainly one of the most arduous duties ever performed by a minister. The result was due in the main to the confidence with which Lord Clarendon had inspired the emperor of the French, and to the affection and regard of the empress, whom he had known in Spain from her childhood.
In 1856 Lord Clarendon took his seat at the congress of Paris convoked for the restoration of peace, as first British plenipotentiary. It was the first time since the appearance of Lord Castlereagh at Vienna that a secretary of state for foreign affairs had been present in person at a congress on the continent. Lord Clarendon’s first care was to obtain the admission of Italy to the council chamber as a belligerent power, and to raise the barrier which still excluded Prussia as a neutral one. But in the general anxiety of all the powers to terminate the war there was no small danger that the objects for which it had been undertaken would be abandoned or forgotten. It is due entirely to the firmness of Lord Clarendon that the principle of the neutralization of the Black Sea was preserved, that the Russian attempt to trick the allies out of the cession in Bessarabia was defeated, and that the results of the war were for a time secured. The congress was eager to turn to other subjects, and perhaps the most important result of its deliberations was the celebrated Declaration of the Maritime Powers, which abolished privateering, defined the right of blockade, and limited the right of capture to enemy’s property in enemy’s ships. Lord Clarendon has been accused of an abandonment of what are termed the belligerent rights of Great Britain, which were undoubtedly based on the old maritime laws of Europe. But he acted in strict conformity with the views of the British cabinet, and the British cabinet adopted those views because it was satisfied that it was not for the benefit of the country to adhere to practices which exposed the vast mercantile interests of Britain to depredation, even by the cruisers of a secondary maritime power, and which, if vigorously enforced against neutrals, could not fail to embroil her with every maritime state in the world.
Upon the reconstitution of the Whig administration in 1859, Lord John Russell made it a condition of his acceptance of office under Lord Palmerston that the foreign department should be placed in his own hands, which implied that Lord Clarendon should be excluded from office, as it would have been inconsistent alike with his dignity and his tastes to fill any other post in the government. The consequence was that from 1859 till 1864 Lord Clarendon remained out of office, and the critical relations arising out of the Civil War in the United States were left to the guidance of Earl Russell. But he re-entered the cabinet in May 1864 as chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster; and upon the death of Lord Palmerston in 1865, Lord Russell again became prime minister, when Lord Clarendon returned to the foreign office, which was again confided to him for the third time upon the formation of Mr Gladstone’s administration in 1868. To the last moment of his existence, Lord Clarendon continued to devote every faculty of his mind and every instant of his life to the public service; and he expired surrounded by the boxes and papers of his office on the 27th of June 1870. No man owed more to the influence of a generous, unselfish and liberal disposition. If he had rivals he never ceased to treat them with the consideration and confidence of friends, and he cared but little for the ordinary prizes of ambition in comparison with the advancement of the cause of peace and progress.
He was succeeded as 5th earl by his eldest son, Edward Hyde Villiers (b. 1846), who became lord chamberlain in 1900.
See also the article (by Henry Reeve) in Fraser’s Magazine, August 1876.
CLARENDON, HENRY HYDE, 2nd Earl of (1638–1709), English statesman, eldest son of the first earl, was born on the 2nd of June 1638. He accompanied his parents into exile and assisted his father as secretary, returning with them in 1660. In 1661 he was returned to parliament for Wiltshire as Lord Cornbury. He became secretary in 1662 and lord chamberlain to the queen in 1665. He took no part in the life of the court, and on the dismissal of his father became a vehement opponent of the administration, defended his father in the impeachment, and subsequently made effective attacks upon Buckingham and Arlington. In 1674 he became earl of Clarendon by his father’s death, and in 1679 was made a privy councillor. He was not included in Sir W. Temple’s council of that year, but was reappointed in 1680. In 1682 he supported Halifax’s proposal of declaring war on France. On the accession of James in 1685 he was appointed lord privy seal, but shortly afterwards, in September, was removed from this office to that of lord-lieutenant of Ireland. Clarendon was embarrassed in his estate, and James required a willing agent to carry out his design by upsetting the Protestant government and the Act of Settlement. Clarendon arrived in Dublin on the 9th of January 1686. He found himself completely in the power of Tyrconnel, the commander-in-chief; and though, like his father, a staunch Protestant, elected this year high steward of Oxford University, and detesting the king’s policy, he obeyed his orders to introduce Roman Catholics into the government and the army and upon the bench, and clung to office till after the dismissal of his brother, the earl of Rochester, in January 1687, when he was recalled and succeeded by Tyrconnel. He now supported the church in its struggle with James, opposed the Declaration of Indulgence, wrote to Mary an account of the resistance of the bishops, and visited and advised the latter in the Tower. He had no share, however, in inviting William to England. He assured James in September that the Church would be loyal, advised the calling of the parliament, and on the desertion of his son, Lord Cornbury, to William on the 14th of November, expressed to the king and queen the most poignant grief. In the council held on the 27th, however, he made a violent and unseasonable attack upon James’s conduct, and on the 1st of December set out to meet William, joined him on the 3rd at Berwick near Salisbury, and was present at the conference at Hungerford on the 8th, and again at Windsor on the 16th. His wish was apparently to effect some compromise, saving the crown for James. According to Burnet, he advised sending James to Breda, and according to the duchess of Marlborough to the Tower, but he himself denies these statements. He opposed vehemently the settlement of the crown upon William and Mary, voted for the regency, and refused to take the oaths of the new sovereigns, remaining a non-juror for the rest of his life. He subsequently retired to the country, engaged in cabals against the government, associated himself with Richard Graham, Lord Preston, and organizing a plot against William, was arrested on the 24th of June 1690 by order of his niece, Queen Mary, and placed in the Tower. Liberated on the 15th of August, he immediately recommenced his intrigues. On Preston’s arrest on the 31st of December, a compromising letter from Clarendon was found upon him, and he was named by Preston as one of his accomplices. He was examined before the privy council and again imprisoned in the Tower on the 4th of January 1691, remaining in confinement till the 3rd of July. This closed his public career. In 1702, on Queen Anne’s accession, he presented himself at court, “to talk to his niece,” but the queen refused to see him till he had taken the oaths. He died on the 31st of October 1709, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
His public career had been neither distinguished nor useful, but it seems natural to ascribe its failure to small abilities and to the conflict between personal ties and political convictions which drew him in opposite directions, rather than, following Macaulay, to motives of self-interest. He was a man of some literary taste, a fellow of the Royal Society (1684), the author of The History and Antiquities of the Cathedral Church of Winchester . . . continued by S. Gale (1715), and he collaborated with his brother Rochester in the publication of his father’s History (1702–1704). He
- Hist. MSS. Comm.: MSS. of the Duke of Buccleuch, ii. 31.
- Correspondence and Diary (1828), ii. 286.