After his retirement, when he was travelling with his family in 1869, they took a villa at San Remo. The ceiling of the salon was decorated with those homely frescoes so common in Italy, which in this case consisted of four portraits—Garibaldi, Cavour, Mazzini, and—to their surprise—Lord John himself. Next to the national heroes he was associated closest in the minds of the people with the achievement of their independence.
When Garibaldi came to England in the spring of 1864, and received a more than royal welcome, Pembroke Lodge was, naturally, one of the first houses he visited. On April 21, 1864, Lady John writes in her diary:
All looked anxiously to the sky on getting up—all rejoiced to see it bright. Sunshine the whole day. Garibaldi to luncheon at Pembroke Lodge. Our school children, ranged alongside of approach with flags, cheered him loudly. All went well and pleasantly.
John gave him a stick of British
oak. Garibaldi gave John his own
Agatha gave him a nosegay of green, red, and white—he kissed her on the forehead. Much interesting conversation with him at luncheon. Told him he would be blamed by many for his praise of Mazzini yesterday. He said that he and Mazzini differed as to what was best for Italy, but Mazzini had been his teacher in early youth—had been unjustly blamed and was malheureux. “Et j’ai cru devoir dire quelque chose,” and that he (Garibaldi) had been in past years accused of being badly influenced by Mazzini: “Ceux qui ont dit cela ne me connaissent pas.” That when he acts it is because he himself is convinced he ought. Inveighed bitterly against Louis Napoleon, whom he looks upon as hors la loi. Simple dignity in every word he utters.
Park full of people. Richmond decorated with flags.
Since only political events in which Lady John was herself deeply interested or those which affected her life through her husband’s career are here to the purpose, the other international difficulties with which Lord John had to deal as Secretary for Foreign Affairs in this Government may be quickly passed over. And for the same reason the domestic politics of these years require only the briefest notice. Palmerston’s Ministry produced very little social legislation, and the fact that Lord John was at the Foreign Office, while the Prime Minister led the Commons, increased the legislative inactivity of a Government which, with Palmerston at its head, would in any case have changed little in the country. Gladstone’s budgets and Cobden’s Free-Trade Treaty with France were the important events. Between 1860 and 1864 the taxation of the country was reduced by twelve millions, the National Debt by eleven millions, and the nation’s income increased by twenty-seven millions, while foreign trade had risen in two years by seventy-seven millions. These were the most splendid results a Chancellor of the Exchequer has ever been able to show; but the changes by which it had been achieved had been far from welcome to Palmerston himself. It had required great resolution on Gladstone’s part to carry the Prime Minister with him.