Lord George Bentinck: A Political Biography

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Transaction Publishers, 1872 - 382 halaman

Lord George Bentinck is an account of Disraeli's relation with his parliamentary colleague and friend. It is not simply an account of the battle over the Corn Laws with Sir Robert Peel, but a most remarkable book, extremely readable, and full of often quoted and apt comments and descriptions. As a vivid story of one of the great parliamentary dramas in British history it is unsurpassed. The portraits of both Bentinck and Peel are both sympathetic and just. The book provides insight into mid-nineteenth century parliamentary life that remains unsurpassed.

It is hard to overstate the bitterness and fury which Peel's decision to repeal the Corn Laws had provoked in British politics. One biographer of Disraeli, Robert Blake, spoke of "Home Rule in 1886 and Munich in 1938 as the nearest parallels". Friendships were sundered, families divided, and the feuds of politics carried into private life to a degree quite unusual in British history. Those who are interested in the details of parliamentary warfare which raged until Peel's fall from power should consult Lord George Bentinck.

But the worth of this book goes beyond constitutional history or even the Irish food famine. Disraeli helps explain the intellectual and ideological grounds of the Young England Movement: a conservative force that aimed at a union of discontented industrial workers with aristocratic landowners and against factious Whigs, selfish factory owners and dissenting shopkeepers. In forging such a policy of principle, the Conservatives, as Disraeli's book well demonstrates, became a minority party but one which carried the full weight of moral politics.

 

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Halaman xx - ... seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society, with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board: he does not consider that the pieces upon the chessboard have no other principle of motion besides that which the hand impresses upon them; but that, in the great chess-board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might choose to impress upon it.
Halaman lvii - I see in the free trade principle that which shall act on the moral world as the principle of gravitation in the universe — drawing men together, thrusting aside the antagonism of race, and creed, and language, and uniting us in the bonds of eternal peace.
Halaman lii - Free Trade! What is it? Why, breaking down the barriers that separate nations: those barriers behind which nestle the feelings of pride, revenge, hatred, and jealousy, which every now and then burst their bounds and deluge whole countries with blood...
Halaman liv - I believe that if you abolish the Corn Law honestly and adopt Free Trade in its simplicity there will not be a tariff in Europe that will not be changed in less than five years to follow your example" (Speech in Manchester, January 15, 1846).
Halaman xxiii - Party is a body of men united for promoting by their joint endeavors the national interest upon some particular principle in which they are all agreed.
Halaman xxxvii - Progress and reaction are but words to mystify the millions. They mean nothing, they are nothing, they are phrases and not facts. All is race.
Halaman xxxviii - Thus it will be seen that all the tendencies of the Jewish race are conservative. Their bias is to religion, property, and natural aristocracy: and it should be the interest of statesmen that this bias of a great race should be encouraged, and their energies and creative powers enlisted in the cause of existing society.
Halaman xxiii - There was indeed a considerable shouting about what they called Conservative principles; but the awkward question naturally arose, what will you conserve? The prerogatives of the Crown, provided they are not exercised; the independence of the House of Lords, provided it is not asserted; the Ecclesiastical estate, provided it is regulated by a commission of laymen.

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