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Abstract

This article uses the Spanish marriages episode of 1846 as a prism through which to examine the relationship between the leading foreign affairs writers for the increasingly powerful Times newspaper and the authors and servants of British diplomacy in the early Victorian period. The focus of this study is Lord William Hervey, the first secretary of the British embassy in Paris, a diplomat who well understood the power of the press over ministers, parliament and the people. Hervey's under-utilized private papers shed light on the divisions in British political and literary (press) society over the nation's policies towards France and Spain. They also paint a picture of an increasingly isolated foreign secretary, Viscount Palmerston, a Whig statesman who failed to carry his policy through the Whig cabinet and who failed to convince the Conservative Times of its supposed merits, despite the support of some overactive members of the British diplomatic community. This is a story of diplomatic failure; a rare study of how not to win friends and influence people.