Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh

British politician (1769-1822)

Robert Stewart (18 June 176912 August 1822) was an Irish and British statesman.

Lord Castlereagh Marquess of Londonderry.jpg


  • I feel no wrath against the people. I am only doing my duty.

Quotes about CastlereaghEdit

  • On the sad day following that of his death, one of his servants was asked whether he had remarked any change in him; the answer was 'Yes;' and being further asked to state the nature of the change, he replied, 'One day he spoke sharply to me!'
    • Countess Brownlow, Slight Reminiscences of a Septuagenarian from 1802 to 1815 (1868), p. 198
  • Put all their other men together in one scale, and poor Castlereagh in the other—single, he plainly weighed them down. ... One can't help feeling a little for him, after being pitted against him for several years pretty regularly. It is like losing a connection suddenly. Also, he was a gentleman, and the only one amongst them.
    • Henry Brougham to Thomas Creevey (19 August 1822), quoted in Herbert Maxwell (ed.), The Creevey Papers: A Selection from the Correspondence & Diaries of the late Thomas Creevey, M.P. Vol. II (1905), p. 44
  • It is not, however, by one or two isolated successes that Lord Castlereagh's foreign policy ought to be tried. It is best judged by its general results. During the war his aim was to overthrow Napoleon, and to reduce France within her ancient limits. After the war his aim was to uphold the balance of power, and so to secure lasting peace to Europe. When the direction of England's foreign policy passed from his hands, both objects had been attained. ... For forty years the peace of Europe flourished undisturbed by one single conflict between any of the five great Powers who adjusted their differences at Vienna. ... Europe has not enjoyed so long a repose from the curse of war since the fall of the Roman empire. Such an achievement is an ample justification of the acts of the Congress of Vienna and of the minister who bore so large a part in shaping its decrees.
    • Lord Robert Cecil, 'Lord Castlereagh', Quarterly Review (January 1862), quoted in Essays by the late Marquess of Salisbury K.G. Biographical (1905), p. 23
  • It was a mere calumny to call him an enemy to freedom. In its truest and most literal sense—the exemption from oppression—he did more for it than any statesman of his age. We have the testimony of the Duke of Wellington, that he had done more to destroy the slave-trade than any man in Europe; and the struggle which absorbed the best years of his life was a struggle on a vast scale for the liberties of mankind.
    • Lord Robert Cecil, 'Lord Castlereagh', Quarterly Review (January 1862), quoted in Essays by the late Marquess of Salisbury K.G. Biographical (1905), pp. 55–56
  • [F]rom Napoleon's tyranny time gave no respite, and insignificance no escape. His exactions ground down every income, and his massacres, thinly disguised under military names, thinned every village, from Reggio to Lilbeck. To have borne a large part in freeing Europe from such a scourge as this—to have provided securities that made it for the future an impossibility—was to have done a greater service to the cause of freedom than any shifting of the equilibrium of electoral power is ever likely to effect.
    • Lord Robert Cecil, 'Lord Castlereagh', Quarterly Review (January 1862), quoted in Essays by the late Marquess of Salisbury K.G. Biographical (1905), p. 56
  • As for my friend Lord Castlereagh, he is so cold that nothing can warm him.
  • As a Minister he is a great loss to his party, and still greater to his friends and dependants, to whom he was the best of patrons; to the country I think he is none. Nobody can deny that his talents were great, and perhaps he owed his influence and authority as much to his character as to his abilities. His appearance was dignified and imposing; he was affable in his manners and agreeable in society. The great feature of his character was a cool and determined courage, which gave an appearance of resolution and confidence to all his actions, and inspired his friends with admiration and excessive devotion to him, and caused him to be respected by his most violent opponents. As a speaker he was prolix, monotonous, and never eloquent, except, perhaps, for a few minutes when provoked into a passion by something which had fallen out in debate. ... He never spoke ill; his speeches were continually replete with good sense and strong argument, and though they seldom offered much to admire, they generally contained a great deal to be answered. I believe he was considered one of the best managers of the House of Commons who ever sat in it, and he was eminently possessed of the good taste, good-humor, and agreeable manners which are more requisite to make a good leader than eloquence, however brilliant.
    • Charles Greville's diary (13 August 1822), quoted in Henry Reeve (ed.), The Greville Memoirs: A Journal of the Reigns of King George IV. and King William IV. by the late Charles C. F. Greville: Vol. I (1875), pp. 52–53
  • His character will not be very easily defined in the page of history in which it must stand so conspicuously from the great events with which it has been connected. No man certainly ever traded so largely on so small a capital, but presence of mind, some sagacity, a good temper and good manners supplied the place of knowledge and eloquence.
  • It is a great misfortune. The man is irreplaceable, especially for me. ... Castlereagh was the only person in his country who had experience in foreign affairs.
  • Quest.—Why is a Pump like Viscount Castlereagh?
    Answ.—Because it is a slender thing of wood,
    That up and down its awkward arm doth sway,
    And coolly spout, and spout, and spout away,
    In one weak, washy, everlasting flood!
  • Mackintosh used to say of Castlereagh that he had all the inferior qualities of a leader in an extraordinary degree. Though his language was often ungrammatical, his metaphors and figures so strangely perplexed and confused as to set the House a laughing, yet I have heard him speak in such a powerful, impressive and eloquent style as would have done honour to any man. The more he was pressed...the better he spoke, both in matter and manner. He was a handsome, fine looking man, good natured, high bred, and his courage was so undoubted that he could allow people to take liberties with him, or disregard them, as unworthy of his notice, which other men might have lost reputation by not resenting.
  • Castlereagh, who had been often pointed out as the successor of Pitt, wanted the large views of that great man. ... [He] was an obscure orator, garnishing his speeches with confused metaphors. ... He had no classical quotations, no happy illustration, no historical examples. ... Yet his influence with his party was very great, and he was, till near the close of his life, a successful leader of the House of Commons. For this end he possessed...very considerable advantages. He was, as a man of business, clear, diligent, and decided. His temper was admirable – bold and calm, good humoured and dispassionate. He was a thorough gentleman; courteous, jealous of his own honour, but full of regard for the feelings of others. No one doubted his personal integrity, however much they might dislike his policy.
  • There probably never was a statesman whose ideas were so right and whose attitude to public opinion was so wrong. Such disparity between the grasp of ends and the understanding of means amounts to a failure in statesmanship.

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