General Schenck to Mr. Fish.
London , February 18, 1874. (Received March 9.)
Sir: In my No. 552, on the 24th of last month, I announced to you the sudden dissolution of Parliament and an impending general election for Great Britain and Ireland.
I have now to inform you that the last poll took place yesterday, and the returns from all the counties, boroughs, and universities foot up a clear majority of not less than fifty for the conservative party.
I may be excused for having predicted a somewhat different result, inasmuch as this overwhelming overthrow of the liberal party has been a surprise even to their successful opponents. Until the elections had proceeded for several days, with almost uninterupted and steady gains to the conservatives, they did not themselves hope to do more than greatly reduce the majority of Mr. Gladstone’s supporters.
A change of ministry of course follows, the only question for several days having been whether the present cabinet would decide to await the meeting and an adverse vote of Parliament before going out, or would offer to surrender the government at once. Yesterday that point was settled. Mr. Gladstone proceeded to Windsor, where the Queen had just arrived, and tendered to Her Majesty the resignations of himself and his colleagues, and to-day Mr. Disraeli has received her command to form a new ministry.[Page 497]
Besides the premiership to Mr. Disraeli, it seems to be quite settled that the place of principal secretary for foreign affairs will be confided to Lord Derby. But though it is pretty generally Understood that places will be assigned to a number of other gentlemen, whose names are mentioned, yet the actual cast of parts will not probably be completed for several days. It is useless to speculate on what the full arrangement may be. The telegraph will have given it all to you before this can reach Washington; and next week Mr. Moran, in my absence, will probably be able to furnish you in a dispatch a formal and official list.
I will content myself now, without indulging in any speculation on the causes that may have helped to bring about this change of government, by saying only that there does not appear to be any reason for supposing that it is likely to produce any alteration in policy or disposition toward the United States.
I am, &c.,