"Henry Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, was probably the nineteenth century's most colourful and engaging Prime Minister. Instinctive and headstrong, he horrified his cabinet colleagues with his brinkmanship, and exasperated Queen Victoria with his attempts to foster democratic constitutions in the absolute monarchies of Europe, most of which were ruled by her relations." "The outline of his life is well known: his near forty years in Cabinet office, his lead in bringing an end to the Crimean War, his attempts to bluff Bismarck, his swashbuckling manner, his womanising. But not explored until now are the perception and subtlety that lay behind Palmerston's high-handed, blustering diplomacy, making him one of the most internationally influential statesmen in British history. He effectively brought the attitudes of the eighteenth century into the harsher world of mid-nineteenth-century statecraft." "James Chambers pays particular attention to the early years, showing how Palmerston's scandalous private life and his long, frustrating apprenticeship at the War Office played their parts in turning the diffident 'Lord Cupid' into the notoriously over-confident 'Lord Pumicestone'. During his fifteen years as Foreign Secretary, Britain's prestige reached its height. The apparent champion of the underdog and a pioneer in the exploitation of public opinion, 'the people's darling' became England's most popular and powerful politician since Pitt the Elder. Even at the end of his career, Palmerston retained the nonchalance that had epitomized the bucks and dandies of his Regency youth. His levity irritated the redoubtable Queen Victoria, but an astute admirer, Florence Nightingale, saw through it. 'He was', she said, 'so much more in earnest than he appeared.'" "This is the first full biography of Lord Palmerston for a generation."--Jacket.