the Age of Gladstone and Disraeli

Politics in the Age of Gladstone and Disraeli
Week 6
Dr Robert Saunders
• 1848-68: Leader of the
Conservative Party in the House
of Commons
• 1852, 1858-59, 1866-68:
Chancellor of the Exchequer and
Leader of the House of
• 1868, 1874-80: Prime Minister
• 1852-55, 1859-66, 1873-74,
1880-82: Chancellor of the
• 1865-66: Leader of the House of
• 1868-74, 1880-85, 1886, 189294: Prime Minister
The Gladstone ‘pissing pot’
1. The Poet and the Priest
Benjamin Disraeli: ‘The Asian Mystery’
Disraeli on Chartism, 1848
‘Why are the people of England forced to find leaders
among demagogues?
The proper leaders of the people are the gentlemen of
If they are not the leaders of the people, I do not see
why we should have gentlemen’.
The Revolutionary Epic (1834)
‘Fling to the heady wind
The cold philosophy
That vaunts of human REASON; nobler far
The faculty divine
IMAGINATION on her airy throne
Thus in human life,
Upon the mass the man of genius breathes
His spell creative, thus their swelling hearts
Rise to his charm!’
Politics as Theatre
Gladstone: Politics as Priesthood
• ‘I believe in the degeneracy of
man – in sin – in the intensity
and virulence of sin. . . . Sin is the
great fact of the world to me’
Gladstone at Blackheath, 1876
Gladstone the Orator
‘Without an effort … the great orator
held his audience for nearly two
hours. I stood so far off that the
features were indistinct, but I was
spellbound by the music and
magnetism of the wonderful voice …
I was only conscious of the presence
of a great human personality, under
whose spell I was and from whom I
could in no way escape. … I felt lifted
into a holy region of politics, where
Tories cannot corrupt or Jingoes
break through and yell’.
Gladstone at Blackheath, 1876
The Liberal Party
• Whig aristocracy
• Nonconformists and Liberal
• Provincial manufacturers and
• Trade Unionists and the
‘respectable’ working class
• Scotland, Wales and Ireland
Free Trade
• Gladstone (1860):
• in legislation of this kind, you are
not forging mechanical supports
and helps for men, nor
endeavouring to do that for them
which they ought to do for
themselves; but you are enlarging
their means without narrowing
their freedom, …you are appealing
to their sense of responsibility, you
are not impairing their temper of
honourable self-dependence’.
The Tory Party, mid-C19th
• The Base
• Agriculture
• The Church of England
• Disraeli:
• ‘We must have our eyes opened
to the futility of attempting to
govern this country by the
landed interest alone’
• Key Issues
• Key issue: Agricultural Protection
• ‘[We] stuck to Protection till the
country positively shat upon it’
Decline of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire
The Midlothian Campaign
• ‘Remember the rights of the
savage, as we call him.
Remember that the happiness of
his humble home, remember
that the sanctity of life in the hill
villages of Afghanistan among
the winter snows, is as inviolable
in the eye of Almighty God as
can be your own.’
The Primrose League (est. 1883)

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