Lord Randolph Resigns, Part II: "I had forgotten Goschen"

To the victors in the Ministerial Crisis of 1886 went twenty years of power, writes Robert Rhodes James, while to the loser there only remained a poignant struggle against denigration and disease.

Emotions of confusion, recrimination and consternation filled the political world on the morrow of the announcement of the resignation of Lord Randolph Churchill. His friends were bewildered and angry, while from his foes came the joyful cry of “I told you so!”

Everything about his action placed Lord Randolph in the most unfavourable light, and he received an almost uniformly hostile “press,” the Tory organs being particularly virulent. Chamberlain, stunned by the news, wrote to Brett, who had scoffed at rumours of a breach in the Cabinet:

“What do you think of the ‘little rift’ now? Salisbury is a bold man and is no doubt prepared for all the consequences. The old combination is irretrievably smashed. I hardly know what new ones may be possible in the future.”

Arthur Balfour formed an accurate assessment of the new situation when he rejoiced that Churchill could not have left the Cabinet...

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