Leader of the Conservative party for seventeen years and prime
minister for fourteen, the third Marquis of Salisbury was one of
the most successful political practitioners of modern times, as
well as a major international statesman. Yet he was also a prolific
and pungent writer on politics. The large body of journalism which
he produced during the first thirty years of his career enables us
to examine in detail the views on politics and society which
underlay his practical action. While his brand of Conservatism was
conventional in its conclusions, it was distinguished by the highly
sceptical and utilitarian mode of reasoning through which it sought
to reach them, and by its insistence on a crudely conceived class
struggle as the driving force of history and politics. Its central
theme was hostility to 'democracy'; and when, after 1867,
'democracy' seemed to have arrived, it questioned how far the
system of parliamentary government could work tolerably under the
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