This work is based in a time when the British Empire was at its most powerful and self-confident, and Lord Palmerston was at his prime, robust and energetic enough to investigate affairs as apparently minor as that of Rio Nunez. The problem concerned two British traders - Braithwaite and Martin - whose enterprise on the Rio Nunez in West Africa had been attacked by Belgian trading rivals. Palmerston's personal handling of their complaints - in the midst of high affairs of state - is detailed in this account, based on extensive research and new material. It is a portrait of imperial power at its height.
Part 1 Palmerston and the "Civis Romanus": Britain in mid-century - the political setting for the affair. Part 2 David and Goliath together - Forsters, Braithwaite and Martin, and the most English minister, 1849-1853: prologue - the Cives Britannici; Matthyew Forster MP - champion of the legitimate trade; focus on the Nunez - 1847; the clash of arms, the quest for truth, the veils of deception - actions in Africa and the return to Europe, spring 1849; political scandals and the affair - Palmerston versus de la Hitte, d'Hoffscmidt and the court, 1849-1851; the affair within the affair - end-game, 1852-1853; epilogue. Part 3 Appendices: "Pam" and "Winnie" - a comparison; constitutional and legal aspects; Foreign Office pressures, 1851-1853; the road to Debucca.