years ago, the UK's first and only Jewish leader changed politics forever | The Times of Israel
For 33 years, it was the home of Benjamin Disraeli, Britain's first Hughenden Manor, once the residence of Benjamin Disraeli, it's now a National Trust property. Queen Victoria — whose warmth for Disraeli exceeded that of any of the . a relationship with Henrietta Sykes, the influential wife of a baronet. Disraeli. National Trust. When Benjamin Disraeli () determined that his rising ambitions required a Strength of will, one assumes--for a Jew in pre- Victorian England had barriers before him that Surprisingly, the marriage worked. And he was the favorite Prime Minister of Queen Victoria, who told her oldest daughter, Here are 8 timeless nuggets of wisdom from Benjamin Disraeli—as relevant today as Florence Nightingale, Wellcome Trust Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.
His recollections would sometimes claim Venice for his family. If their origins had to be in Italy, he preferred the most exotic of Italian places.
He liked to think of himself as an aristocrat, even if not of the Anglo-Saxon variety. Technically, all England had to offer was open to Benjamin, but to Englishmen he was always a Jew-an identification he courted.
Although it was a career liability, he refused to change either of his names but for excising the apostrophe. While he might have gone to a public school and then a university, he went instead to the law courts as an apprentice, then slipped into stock speculation, and bankruptcy. To make money he tried to concoct a popular fiction, publishing, anonymously, inthe satirical society novel Vivian Grey. Although he tried other novels, and would write fiction, often nakedly autobiographical, all his life, he fell into severe depression, coming out of it after he went, with a friend, on a Middle Eastern tour that included the Holy Land, about which he wrote in Alroy Paradoxically, the melodramatic novel, heatedly overwritten, about a pre-Zionist adventurer and martyr, David Alroy, glorified Disraeli's Jewish background just as he was adventuring in another career, politics, at a time when observant Jews were barred from Parliament.
In his flamboyant style, which he advertised also in his Byronic dress and open and successful womanizing, he was announcing that there was no way the issue of his origins would not come up directly rather than through innuendo if the candidate for the House of Commons were named Benjamin Disraeli.
Undaunted by losses in campaigns for several seats, Disraeli tried again inthe year of Victoria's accession, and was elected as a Tory Conservative. The party was traditionally protectionist regarding agricultural products, however that drove up the price of bread for the poor, as Tories represented the landed interests. Their powers then were being eroded by manufacturing and mercantile interests, both in the Whiggish Liberal hands of the burgeoning middle classes who stood to gain from freer trade and electoral reform that would enfranchise the industrial cities.
Disraeli promoted a nostalgic and largely unrealistic Tory feudalism, a "Merrie England" that revolved about attachment to the land through the institutions of Monarchy, Aristocracy, and Church, and their noblesse oblige toward a peasantry he saw as including the new industrial work force. A compulsive novelist, he dramatized his sentimental Toryism, called by others "Young England," through a trilogy of novels, Coningsby, Sybil, and Tancred that also earned for him desperately needed money.
To pay his increasing debts due to his election debts and his high lifestyle, he had already married the eccentric, off-the-wall, Mary Anne Wyndham Lewis, widow of his late campaigning partner, more than a dozen years his senior. She idolized him and he reciprocated her affection.
Surprisingly, the marriage worked. But he seemed always in debt. Disraeli Hulton Getty Picture Archive The Tories would fragment on the issue of free trade, and Disraeli, a loyalist, inherited some of the remaining prominence within the party. On becoming a minority government inhe would achieve cabinet office for the first time, as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The experience was brief, but it whetted his appetite for power and position, which left him in a quandary as the Commons debated, year after year, the issue of amending its oaths requirement to permit Jews to sit. Several, including Lionel de Rothschild, one of the world's most influential bankers, had run time and time again, rejected after each election by their refusal to take a parliamentary oath on the Christian bible.
Rothschild had already turned down a baronetcy from Victoria, as only a barony would place him in the House of Lords, where he might defy the oaths requirement in the upper house. Despite his friendship with the Rothschild family, Disraeli was at first reticent about speaking out.
He had to worry about re-election. Finally he did so, several years running, and the issue was finally decided in Speech in the House of Commons 17 March Protection is not a principle, but an expedient. Sir, it is very easy to complain of party Government, and there may be persons capable of forming an opinion on this subject who may entertain a deep objection to that Government, and know to what that objection leads.
10 Lessons from Queen Victoria’s Favorite Prime Minister – 5-Minute History
But there are others who shrug their shoulders, and talk in a slipshod style on this head, who, perhaps, are not exactly aware of what the objections lead to. These persons should understand, that if they object to party Government, they do, in fact, object to nothing more nor less than Parliamentary Government.
A popular assembly without parties— isolated individuals—cannot stand five years against a Minister with an organized Government without becoming a servile Senate. Speech in the House of Commons 11 April Something has risen up in this country as fatal in the political world as it has been in the landed world of Ireland—we have a great Parliamentary middleman. It is well known what a middleman is; he is a man who bamboozles one party, and plunders the other, till, having obtained a position to which he is not entitled, he cries out, "Let us have no party questions, but fixity of tenure.
That is the fourth course, which in future I trust the right hon. Peel will not forget. Gentleman tells us to go back to precedents ; with him a great measure is always founded on a small precedent. He traces the steam-engine always back to the tea-kettle. His precedents are generally tea-kettle precedents. Sir, very few people reach posterity. Who amongst us may arrive at that destination I presume not to vaticinate. Posterity is a most limited assembly.
Those gentlemen who reach posterity are not much more numerous than the planets. Speech in the House of Commons 22 January First, without reference to England, looking at all countries, I say that it is the first duty of the Minister, and the first interest of the State, to maintain a balance between the two great branches of national industry; that is a principle which has been recognised by all great Ministers for the last two hundred years Why we should maintain that balance between the two great branches of national industry, involves political considerations—social considerations, affecting the happiness, prosperity, and morality of the people, as well as the stability of the State.
But I go further; I say that in England we are bound to do more—I repeat what I have repeated before, that in this country there are special reasons why we should not only maintain the balance between the two branches of our national industry, but why we should give a preponderance We have thrown upon the land the revenues of the Church, the administration of justice, and the estate of the poor; and this has been done, not to gratify the pride, or pamper the luxury of the proprietors of the land, but because, in a territorial Constitution, you, and those whom you have succeeded, have found the only security for self-government—the only barrier against that centralising system which has taken root in other countries.
Speech in the House of Commons 20 February I say, then, assuming, as I have given you reason to assume, that the price of wheat, when this system is established, ranges in England at 35s. Will that displaced labour find new employment?
But what are the resources of this kind of industry to employ and support the people, supposing the great depression in agricultural produce occur which is feared—that this great revolution, as it has appropriately been called, takes place—that we cease to be an agricultural people—what are the resources that would furnish employment to two-thirds of the subverted agricultural population—in fact, from 3, to 4, of people?
Assume that the workshop of the world principle is carried into effect—assume that the attempt is made to maintain your system, both financial and domestic, on the resources of the cotton trade—assume that, in spite of hostile tariffs, that already gigantic industry is doubled What must be the consequence? I think we have pretty good grounds for anticipating social misery and political disaster.
Speech in the House of Commons 15 May I have that confidence in the common sense, I will say the common spirit of our countrymen, that I believe they will not long endure this huckstering tyranny of the Treasury Bench—these political pedlars that bought their party in the cheapest market, and sold us in the dearest. I know, Sir, that there are many who believe that the time is gone by when one can appeal to those high and honest impulses that were once the mainstay and the main element of the English character.
I know, Sir, that we appeal to a people debauched by public gambling—stimulated and encouraged by an inefficient and shortsighted Minister. I know that the public mind is polluted with economic fancies; a depraved desire that the rich may become richer without the interference of industry and toil.
I know, Sir, that all confidence in public men is lost. But, Sir, I have faith in the primitive and enduring elements of the English character. It may be vain now, in the midnight of their intoxication, to tell them that there will be an awakening of bitterness; it may be idle now, in the spring-tide of their economic frenzy, to warn them that there may be an ebb of trouble.
But the dark and inevitable hour will arrive. Then, when their spirit is softened by misfortune, they will recur to those principles that made England great, and which, in our belief, can alone keep England great. Then, too, perchance they may remember, not with unkindness, those who, betrayed and deserted, were neither ashamed nor afraid to struggle for the "good old cause"—the cause with which are associated principles the most popular, sentiments the most entirely national—the cause of labour—the cause of the people—the cause of England.
He is so vain that he wants to figure in history as the settler of all the great questions; but a Parliamentary constitution is not favorable to such ambitions; things must be done by parties, not by persons using parties as tools.
In the great struggle between popular principles and liberal opinions, which is the characteristic of our age, I hope ever to be found on the side of the people, and of the Institutions, of England. It is our Institutions that have made us free, and can alone keep us so; by the bulwark which they offer to the insidious encroachments of a convenient, yet enervating, system of centralisation, which, if left unchecked, will prove fatal to the national character.
It is unnecessary for me to state that I shall support all those measures, the object of which is to elevate the moral and social condition of the Working Classes, by lessening their hours of toil—by improving their means of health—and by cultivating their intelligence. These are objects which, it is not unpleasing for me to remember, I endeavoured, in common with some of my friends, to advance, before they engaged the attention of Governments, or were supported by triumphant Parliamentary majorities.
The palace is not safe, when the cottage is not happy. I entirely differ with the Government as to the value of precedents. In this case, as in others, precedents are not mere dusty phrases, which do not substantially affect the question before us.
A precedent embalms a principle. Speech in the House of Commons 22 February My objection to Liberalism is this—that it is the introduction into the practical business of life of the highest kind—namely, politics—of philosophical ideas instead of political principles. Speech in the House of Commons 5 June Gentleman has said, in a most extraordinary manner, that our security for peace at the present day is the desire of nations to keep at home.
There is a great difference between nationality and race. Nationality is the principle of political independence. Race is the principle of physical analogy, and you have at this moment the principle of race—not at all of nationality—adopted by Germany, the very country to which the hon. Member for the West Riding referred. Speech in the House of Commons 9 August You cannot choose between party government and Parliamentary government.
I say, you can have no Parliamentary government if you have no party government; and, therefore, when Gentlemen denounce party government, they strike at that scheme of government which, in my opinion, has made this country great, and which I hope will keep it great. Speech in the House of Commons 30 August But this principle of race is unfortunately one of the reasons why I fear war may always exist; because race implies difference, difference implies superiority, and superiority leads to predominance.
Speech in the House of Commons 1 February But he has left us the legacy of heroes—the memory of his great name, and the inspiration of his great example. This is my view of what is called "protection. I remember—the interruption of the hon. Gentleman reminds me of the words of a great writer, who said that "Grace was beauty in action.
Truth should animate an opposition, and I hope it does animate this opposition. I know what I have to face. I have to face a coalition. The combination may be successful. A coalition has before this been successful.
But coalitions, although successful, have always found this, that their triumph has been brief.
This too I know, that England does not love coalitions. Speech in the House of Commons 16 December The movement of the middle classes for the abolition of slavery was virtuous, but it was not wise.
It was an ignorant movement. It showed a want of knowledge both of the laws of commerce and the stipulations of treaties; and it has alike ruined the colonies and aggravated the slave trade The history of the abolition of slavery by the English and its consequences, would be a narrative of ignorance, injustice, blundering, waste, and havoc, not easily paralleled in the history of mankind. A Political Biographypp.
All is race, there is no other truth. A Political Biographyp. The Jews represent the Semitic principle; all that is spiritual in our nature. They are the trustees of tradition, and the conservators of the religious element. They are a living and the most striking evidence of the falsity of that pernicious doctrine of modern times, the natural equality of man. The political equality of a particular race is a matter of municipal arrangement and depends entirely on political considerations and circumstances; but the natural equality of man now in vogue, and taking the form of cosmopolitan fraternity, is a principle which, were it possible to act on it, would deteriorate the great races and destroy all the genius of the world.
What would be the consequence on the great Anglo-Saxon republic, for example, were its citizens to secede from their sound principle of reserve, and mingle with their negro and coloured populations? In the course of time they would become so deteriorated that their states would probably be reconquered and regained by the aborigines whom they have expelled and who would then be their superiors. But existing society has chosen to persecute this race which should furnish its choice allies, and what have been the consequences?
They may be traced in the last outbreak of the destructive principle in Europe. An insurrection takes place against tradition and aristocracy, against religion and property. Destruction of the Semitic principle, extirpation of the Jewish religion, whether in the Mosaic or in the Christian form, the natural equality of man and the abrogation of property, are proclaimed by the secret societies who form provisional governments, and men of Jewish race are found at the head of every one of them.
The people of God co-operate with atheists; the most skilful accumulators of property ally themselves with communists; the peculiar and chosen race touch the hand of all the scum and low castes of Europe!
And all this because they wish to destroy that ungrateful Christendom which owes to them even its name, and whose tyranny they can no longer endure. A Political BiographyChapter X. Variations of the bolded portion of this quote have been incorrectly challenged as misattributions based on the seemingly anachronistic reference to communism which was not yet an important political force at the timethe negative language toward Jews, and the use of such variations by antisemitic agitators who failed to provide an accurate citation to the work in which it appears.
This is the third time that, in the course of six years, during which I have had the lead of the Opposition in the House of Commons, I have stormed the Treasury Benches: You cannot, therefore, be surprised, that I am a little wearied of these barren victories, which like AlmaInkermanand Balaclavamay be glorious but are certainly nothing more. I say that there are two systems of policy to apply to the management of what is commonly called the Eastern questionbut which resolves itself into the geographical question, namely, the possession of that site which commands the empire of the world—the city of Constantinople.
Russell and the noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Home Department Viscount Palmerstonwho believe in the vitality of Turkey, that it may remain an independent and even a progressive country, and form a powerful and sufficient barrier against the encroachment of Russia. There is the other school, which I call the school of Russian polities, that believes that Turkey is exhausted; that all we can do is, by gradually enfranchising the Christian population, to prevent, when its fall takes place, perfect anarchy, and contemplates the possibility of Russia occupying the Bosphorus.
Speech in the House of Commons 21 March It is the initial letters of the four points of the compass that make the word "news," and he must understand that news is that which collies from the North, East, West and South, and if it comes from only one point of the compass, then it is a class publication, and not news.
Speech in the House of Commons 26 March Finality, Sir, is not the language of politics. Speech in the House of Commons 28 February A wise Government, allying itself with religion, would, as it were, consecrate society and sanctify the State. But how is this to be done? It is the problem of modern politics which has always most embarrassed statesmen. No solution of the difficulty can be found in salaried priesthoods and complicated concordats. But by the side of the State in England there has gradually arisen a majestic corporation wealthy, powerful, independent with the sanctity of a long tradition, yet sympathising with authority, and full of conciliation, even deference, to the civil power.
Broadly and deeply planted in the land, mixed up with all our manners and customs, one of the main guarantees of our local government, and therefore one of the prime securities of our common liberties, the Church of England is part of our history, part of our life, part of England itself. He seems to think that posterity is a pack-horse, always ready to be loaded. Speech in the House of Commons 3 June Speech in the House of Commons 1 August The English people are, without exception, the most enthusiastic people in the world.
There are more excitable races. The French, the Italians, are much more excitable; but for deep and fervid feeling, there is no race in the world at all equal to the English. And what is the subject, of all others, upon which the English people have been most enthusiastic? The notes on the gamut of their feeling are few, but they are deep. Industry, Liberty, Religion, form the solemn scale. Industry, Liberty, Religion — that is the history of England. Before the civil war commenced, the United States of America were colonies, and we should not forget that such communities do not cease to be colonies because they are independent.
Speech in the House of Commons 5 February Professors and rhetoricians find a system for every contingency and a principle for every chance; but you are not going, I hope, to leave the destinies of the British empire to prigs and pedants. The statesmen who construct, and the warriors who achieve, are only influenced by the instinct of power, and animated by the love of country. Those are the feelings and those the methods which form empires. The Tory party is only in its proper position when it represents popular principles.
Then it is truly irresistible. Then it can uphold the throne and the altar, the majesty of the empire, the liberty of the nation, and the rights of the multitude. There is nothing mean, petty, or exclusive, about the real character of Toryism.
It necessarily depends upon enlarged sympathies and noble aspirations, because it is essentially national. At present the peace of the world has been preserved, not by statesmen, but by capitalists. Sarah Brydges Willyams 17 October Never take anything for granted. Speech at Salthill 5 October The characteristic of the present age is a craving credulity.
What is the question now placed before society with the glib assurance the most astounding?
That question is this—Is man an ape or an angel? My lord, I am on the side of the angels. The question is this— Is man an ape or an angel? My Lord, I am on the side of the angels. I repudiate with indignation and abhorrence these new fanged theories. Is man an ape or an angel? Now, I am on the side of the angels!
The democracy of America must not be confounded with the democracies of old Europe. It is not the scum of turbulent cities, nor is it a mere section of an excited middle class speculating in shares and calling it progress. It is a territorial democracy, if I may use that epithet without offending hon.
Aristotlewho has taught us most of the wise things we know, never said a wiser thing than that the cultivators of the soil are the class least inclined to sedition and to violent courses. Speech in the House of Commons 13 March There are rare instances when the sympathy of a nation approaches those tenderer feelings which are generally supposed to be peculiar to the individual, and to be the happy privilege of private life, and this is one.
Under any circumstances we should have bewailed the catastrophe at Washington; under any circumstances we should have shuddered at the means by which it was accomplished. But in the character of the victim, and even in the accessories of his last moments, there is something so homely and innocent, that it takes the question, as it were, out of all the pomp of history and the ceremonial of diplomacy; it touches the heart of nations, and appeals to the domestic sentiment of mankind.
Whatever the various and varying opinions in this House, and in the country generally, on the policy of the late President of the United States, all must agree that in one of the severest trials which ever tested the moral qualities of man he fulfilled his duty with simplicity and strength.
But it is one of our duties to reassure them under unreasoning panic and despondency. Assassination has never changed the history of the world.
10 Lessons from Queen Victoria’s Favorite Prime Minister
I will not refer to the remote past, though an accident has made the most memorable instance of antiquity at this moment fresh in the minds and memory of all around me. But even the costly sacrifice of a Caesar did not propitiate the inexorable destiny of his country.
In the character of the victim [Lincoln], and even in the accessories of his last moments, there is something so homely and innocent that it takes the question, as it were, out of all the pomp of history and the ceremonial of diplomacy—it touches the heart of nations and appeals to the domestic sentiment of mankind. Time is precious, but truth is more precious than time. Ignorance never settles a question.
Speech in the House of Commons 14 May Individualities may form communities, but it is institutions alone that can create a nation.
Speech at Manchester For what is the Tory party unless it represents national feeling? If it does not represent national feeling, Toryism is nothing. It does not depend upon hereditary coteries of exclusive nobles. It does not attempt power by attracting to itself the spurious force which may accidentally arise from advocating cosmopolitan principles or talking cosmopolitan jargon. The Tory party is nothing unless it represent and uphold the institutions of the country. I had to prepare the mind of the country, and to educate I had to prepare the mind of Parliament and the country on this question of Reform.
In a progressive country change is constant; and the great question is, not whether you should resist change which is inevitable, but whether that change should be carried out in deference to the manners, the customs, the laws, the traditions of the people, or in deference to abstract principles and arbitrary and general doctrines.
The one is a national system; the other I see before me the statue of a celebrated minister, who said that confidence was a plant of slow growth. But I believe, however gradual may be the growth of confidence, that of credit requires still more time to arrive at maturity. Speech of 9 November None are so interested in maintaining the institutions of the country as the working classes. The rich and the powerful will not find much difficulty under any circumstances in maintaining their rights, but the privileges of the people can only be defended and secured by popular institutions.
This is to be observed of the Bishop of Londonthat, though apparently of a spirit somewhat austere, there is in his idiosyncrasy a strange fund of enthusiasm, a quality which ought never to be possessed by an Archbishop of Canterburyor a Prime Minister of England [ sic ].
Benjamin Disraeli - Wikiquote
The Bishop of London sympathies with everything that is earnest; but what is earnest is not always true; on the contrary error is often more earnest than truth.
George Earle Buckle, p. There can be no economy where there is no efficiency. I think the author who speaks about his own books is almost as bad as a mother who talks about her own children.
This war represents the German Revolution, a greater political event than the French Revolution of last century — I don't say a greater, or as great, a social event. What its social consequences may be are in the future. Not a single principle in the management of our foreign affairs, accepted by all statesmen for guidance up to six months ago, any longer exists.
There is not a diplomatic tradition which has not been swept away. You have a new world, new influences at work, new and unknown objects and dangers with which to cope. The balance of power has been entirely destroyed, and the country which suffers most, and feels the effects of this great change most, is England.
- Queen Victoria and her Prime Ministers
- 150 years ago, the UK’s first and only Jewish leader changed politics forever
- The young Victoria most certainly did not fancy her fat, ageing prime minister
That is an apology, not an explanation; and apologies only account for that which they do not alter. Speech in the House of Commons 28 July Without publicity there can be no public spirit, and without public spirit every nation must decay. Speech in the House of Commons 8 August Since the settlement of [the] Constitution, now nearly two centuries ago, England has never experienced a revolution, though there is no country in which there has been so continuous and such considerable change.
Because the wisdom of your forefathers placed the prize of supreme power without the sphere of human passions. Whatever the struggle of parties, whatever the strife of factions, whatever the excitement and exaltation of the public mind, there has always been something in this country round which all classes and parties could rally, representing the majesty of the law, the administration of justice, and involving, at the same time, the security for every man's rights and the fountain of honour.
I confess I am inclined to believe that an English gentleman—born to business, managing his own estate, administering the affairs of his county, mixing with all classes of his fellowmen, now in the hunting field, now in the railway direction, unaffected, un-ostentatious, proud of his ancestors, if they have contributed to the greatness of our common country—is, on the whole, more likely to form a senator agreeable to the English opinion and English taste than any substitute that has yet been produced.
Her Majesty's new Ministers proceeded in their career like a body of men under the influence of some deleterious drug. Not satiated with the spoilation and anarchy of Ireland, they began to attack every institution and every interest, every class and calling in the country As time advanced it was not difficult to perceive that extravagance was being substituted for energy by the Government.
The unnatural stimulus was subsiding. Their paroxysms ended in prostration. Some took refuge in melancholy, and their eminent chief alternated between a menace and a sigh. As I sat opposite the Treasury Bench the Ministers reminded me of one of those marine landscapes not very unusual on the coasts of South America.
You behold a range of exhausted volcanoes. Not a flame flickers on a single pallid crest. But the situation is still dangerous. There are occasional earthquakes, and ever and anon the dark rumbling of the sea. John Murray,pp. The very phrase "foreign affairs" makes an Englishman convinced that I am about to treat of subjects with which he has no concern. Increased means and increased leisure are the two civilizers of man. Gentl, I am a party man. I believe that, without party, Parliamentary government is impossible.
I look upon Parliamentary government as the noblest government in the world, and certainly the one most suited to England. Gentlemen, the Tory party, unless it is a national party, is nothing. Disraeli at Sydenham," The Times 25 Junep. The most distinguishing feature, or, at least, one of the most distinguishing features, of the great change effected in was that those who effected it at once abolished all the franchises as ancient as those of the Baronage of England; and, while they abolished them, they offered and proposed no substitute.
The discontent upon the subject of representation which afterwards more or less pervaded our society dates from that period, and that discontent, all will admit, has ceased. It was terminated by the Act of Parliamentary Reform of That act was founded on a confidence that the great body of the people of this country were "Conservative". I use the word in its purest and loftiest sense.
I mean that the people of England, and especially the working classes of England, are proud of belonging to a great country, and wish to maintain its greatness—that they are proud of belonging to an Imperial country, and are resolved to maintain, if they can, the empire of England—that they believe, on the whole, that the greatness and the empire of England are to be attributed to the ancient institutions of this country There are people who may be, or who at least affect to be, working men, and who, no doubt, have a certain influence with a certain portion of the metropolitan working class, who talk Jacobinism I say with confidence that the great body of the working class of England utterly repudiate such sentiments.
They have no sympathy with them.