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By Melvin Charles Smith (auth.)

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The Quartermaster General’s office undertook the distribution of supply from stores to the troops under his direction. The Military Secretary coordinated his communications with the various regimental depots and stations throughout the Empire. 29 The Commander-in-Chief’s position thus held the potential for a great deal of power in the right (or wrong) hands. It was controversial because constitutionally there was no such thing as a C-in-C. The top commanders of the Army considered themselves direct servants of the Crown, not 31 representatives of parliamentary policy and they answered to the monarch through the C-in-C.

Palmerston played his hand close to his chest in the turmoil of February, as he knew that Derby had virtually no chance of forming a government, but to refuse office would appear too self-serving. 43 Upon Derby’s failure the Queen turned to Russell. This act was simply a formality. It was well-known to everyone except Lord John that he had no hope of forming a government. In order to negate his potential opposition to a ministry that he did not head, it was necessary to demonstrate this fact to him.

A considerable number of Liberals did not take part in the vote, unwilling to condemn their colleagues, yet unable to support them. 41 Palmerston did not automatically receive an invitation to form a new ministry. 42 Victoria instead turned to Lord Derby on 31 January. The Tory leader claimed that despite a solid backing of 280 MPs he could not appease the public without ‘other combinations’ – that is to say, Peelites and Whigs. ’ Palmerston played his hand close to his chest in the turmoil of February, as he knew that Derby had virtually no chance of forming a government, but to refuse office would appear too self-serving.

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