Disraeli (Reputations) by Edgar Feuchtwanger

By Edgar Feuchtwanger

An adventurer and charlatan? A shrewdpermanent rogue? Or perspicacious flesh presser, founding father of the fashionable British Conservative celebration? those various characterizations have all had their supporters: Disraeli hardly encouraged indifference from his contemporaries, and later commentators have usually reflected those divergent reviews. by the point he ultimately grew to become top Minister, in 1874, he was once now not the unique, dandified determine who approximately 40 years past had bought defense from his collectors via the easy expedient of election to a seat in the home of Commons. yet he used to be nonetheless a special determine in Westminster politics, favourite of his monarch yet distrusted or disliked by means of lots of the individuals of his get together. Disraeli was once a novelist in addition to a political candidate, and he confirmed in his political existence a novelist's command of the powerful photograph and pregnant word. His speeches and writings stay memorable and influential. yet any icon is open to manipulation and selective figuring out, and Disraeli particularly has been claimed as a non secular ancestor through a really various crew of conservatives. Edgar Feuchtwanger's full of life new learn does justice to Disraeli's arguable existence and ambiguous political legacy, supplying a portrait of 1 of the good personalities of the age in addition to laying off mild on key political advancements of Victorian Britain.

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He wrote to Sarah: 'I have made up my mind to oppose, even if I stand alone on our side, every anti-insurrectionary Measure which the government announce they will bring forward. '23 In 1840 he criticized the treatment of Chartist prisoners, claiming that 'there was no country in Europe, nor even in Siberia where such punishment had been inflicted'. He was a teller, with John Fielden, for a motion asking for an inquiry into the use of factory inspectors as 'political spies'. In 1841, on a Poor Law Amendment Bill, he again attacked the poor law, its centralizing tendency and the harsh treatment meted out in the union workhouses.

My disposition is now indolent. I wish to be idle, and enjoy myself, muse over the stormy past, and smile at Genius and man about town 1804-1837 25 the placid present. My career will probably be more energetic than ever, and the world will wonder at my ambition. Alas I struggle from Pride. Yes, it is Pride that now prompts me, not Ambition. 43 'They' were his enemies and detractors, perhaps also some nearer home, like his Baasevi relations, who had little time for his genius and only saw the disrepute into which his scandalous liaisons and his debts were bringing him.

Austin brought a libel action, but Disraeli got away with a somewhat ambiguous apology. By this time, in November 1838, his courtship of Mrs Wyndham Lewis was in full swing. While her husband was still alive, he had been on friendly, slightly flirtatious terms with her. '11 Her husband's death made her into a natural target for the many men always on the lookout for a financially rewarding match. In fact her situation was not as well-endowed as Wyndham Lewis's great wealth had led general opinion to expect.

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