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Extra info for A. J. P. Taylor: The Traitor within the Gates
One of the most critical moments in the Italian crisis, Taylor wrote, was decided by the nature of imperial administration, compounded by a particular weakness inherent within Metternich himself. The chancellor was convinced that some kind of reforms were needed in Lombardy, and he dispatched Fiquelmont to examine the situation and suggest a plan. Fiquelmont obeyed, reporting back that policy should continue to be made in Vienna, but that greater responsibility for its implementation should fall upon local officials.
Throughout the Italian crisis, Ponsonby altered the foreign secretary's instructions and gave Mettemich only those messages that he thought the old man would be glad to hear, and which the ambassador thought would not be offensive to him. For a critical period, neither Mettemich nor Palrnerston knew entirely what the other was trying to communicate. '35 Palmerston could not tum the situation to his advantage, nor could he remove Ponsonby, who was so well connected at home as to be beyond Palrnerston's reach.
Taylor argued that the cure for bureaucratic bumbling was to give able men a task and guarantee that while they would be punished for failure, they would also reap rewards by succeeding. This had nothing to do with democracy, he continued, pointing out that all of the great absolutist rulers had great ministers. 19 However, Taylor concluded, as the Habsburgs distrusted change and ministers who suggested it, even as they distrusted their subjects, so ministerial responsibility never entered into the process of imperial government.