The alliance that defeated the Derby administration had quickly formed a coalition government under George Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen. He was the first Scottish prime minister since Lord Bute in 1763, and had been the acknowledged leader of the Peelites since the death of Sir Robert in 1850. The life of this clever and handsome sixty-eight-year-old had been dominated by personal loss and suffering. Both his parents died before he was eleven, and his grandfather, the 3rd earl, took no interest in him. His bereavements continued when, aged only twenty-eight, his beloved wife died. She left him with three daughters, all of whom died before reaching twenty-one. Although he wore mourning for his first wife all his life, he married again; this second wife died before he was fifty, followed the next year by their fifteen-year-old daughter. In the face of this escalating tribulation, it was hardly surprising that Aberdeen became an increasingly reclusive character. He liked nothing better than to retreat to Haddo, his Scottish castle, to dwell on his misfortunes. ‘I have had enough of the world,’ he explained to a friend, ‘and would willingly have as little to do with it as is decent.’
This would have mattered less had he not been brilliant. He had been a classmate of Lord Palmerston at Harrow, but offered the mirror image of Pam’s belligerent style on the world stage. As foreign minister under Peel, Aberdeen’s shrewd and conciliatory diplomacy had produced a relationship with France that turned out to be happier than at almost any other time in the nineteenth century.
While there is a little more political content now, there is hardly any analysis, which is really disappointing.
However, I'm at least now inspired to visit Haddo House at the weekend. It's very close by and I haven't been in years.