DISRAELI, Benjamin (1804-1881). Statesman and Novelist.
DISRAELI, Benjamin 1804-1881. Statesman and Novelist
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Eight Autograph Letters Signed ("B. Disraeli" (3), "D." (3), and "Beaconsfield" (2) ), to Sir Edward Kerrison, Conservative M.P. for Eye and then East Suffolk 1852-67.30 pages 8vo in all, all but two on black edged paper, written from Hughenden Manor, Downing Street, Carlton Club, and George Street, 3 December 1864 - 11 March 1880.
Together with two Autograph Letters Signed (probably retained copies) from Kerrison to Disraeli; the retained copy of an Autograph Letter Signed from Kerrison to Lord Derby, 1858 (finding fault with Disraeli's leadership of the Conservative Party); two Autograph Letters Signed from Lord Derby to Kerrison, 1858 and 1866. the earlier letter vehemently defending Disraeli from Kerrison's criticism, an Autograph Letter Signed from the politician Stafford Northcote to Kerrison, and two incomplete letters to Kerrison, evidently from a fellow M.P.
From the papers of Sir Edward Kerrison (1821-1886), a backbench Conservative M.P.for fifteen years. The son of a popular and wealthy general who had been wounded at Waterloo, Kerrison mixed in the highest political and social circles, and was evidently, at the period of his correspondence with Disraeli, on very friendly terms with him despite his earlier hostility. Disraeli's eight letters to Kerrison begin in 1864, when in opposition to Lord Palmerston's Liberal government, and continue until 1880, when he was Prime Minister. They concern mainly the problems of party politics, anxieties about losing seats, the franchise, and the importance of local influence. As usual with Disraeli, he expresses himself warmly and gracefully.
Benjamin Disraeli to Edward Kerrison:
"Notwithstanding the pressure of affairs, I must snatch a moment to express to you how gratified I was by the kind recollection, wh: reached me from Oakeley. It brought back the past, the memory of wh: I cherish, & tranquil scenes, doubly dear at this period of peril, with the difficulties & horrors of wh: I feel quite unable to cope . . ." (3 December 1864)
"I can't contemplate the severance of the political tie between myself & one of the most esteemed & regarded of my supporters [Kerrison had expressed his intention of leaving Parliament] without emotion. I shall ever miss your constant friendship, your intelligent counsel, & your high spirits. My only consolation at the moment is, that the social link remains . . ." (30 January 1867)
"We are very anxious about Suffolk. To lose such a seat at any time would be a great blow, but just at this moment when parties are distintegrating, & when the Duke of Suffolk again said, the day before yesterday that, if he divided the House of Lords alone, he would "vote against damages for eviction", so serious a loss in the landed ranks as the County of Suffolk would be deeply to be deplored. In all our troubles, we look to you to extricate us . . ." (25 April 1870)
"I do not know any man of real mark in our party likely to want a seat, & unfortunately, I do not know any man of such mark outside, in the same predicament. That is a great misfortune, but I believe it is not peculiar to our party. There is want of "coming men" in public life, as ever predicted. We are in the midst of a great fight tho', for the first time in my life, I am not present, having been attacked by one if those mysterious atmospheric complaints, wh: the English nation persists in calling "colds." I hope you have escaped, & are free from gout, & that if you suffer again, you may cure it with the to me delightful remedy of strawberries & cream. I had wished this year to close my political life, but it cd. not be arranged . . . " (8 March 1873)
" . . . Affairs here are very critical, still the tendency is against dissolution this year. Nevertheless, the ministry [Gladstone's Liberal government] is weaker daily. I cannot, as yet, put my finger on any candidate of the calibre or character you indicate: but I am mindful of yr wishes . . ." (10 May 1873)
"It is a very ugly look out. I have not heard from this part of the world (for Aylesbury is in the same position as Eye) that anything disagreeable has, as yet, developed or threatened. As for extension of the County franchise, I see no solid movement in its favor. It could not be worked out without disfranchising the Boros from 30, to 10,000 inhabitants, & they are the backbone of the "liberal" party, & of dissenting power. So I doubt whether the operation will be sincerely sanctioned by them . . ." (13 September 1873)
"I must thank you for your kind & agreeable recollection of an old friend. I heard you were well, which gave me much pleasure. You are always doing something good, or obliging. I am here [at Hughenden], pinned to my post [Disraeli was then Prime Minister], & ought to be at Whitehall, but that wd. really be too dreary, as I shd. not find a single friend, even Derby goes home every night to his "placens uxor" [good wife]. I hope we may be able to steer the ship into port, but it is as difficult, I find to make peace as to make war . . . " [Disraeli is no doubt referring to the "Bulgarian atrocites" crisis, when war between Turkey and Russia seemed inevitable] (2 September 1876)
"Would you see Mr. Bartlett, & there decide? With your knowledge of mankind, this would be a satisfactory step. The leaders of the party are desirous of seing Mr. Bartlett in Parliament. He is an orator: a first class man . . ." (11 March 1880)Ellis Ashmead Bartlett was selected for and won Kerrison's old seat of Eye at the General Election of April 1880, two months after the date of this letter. The Conservatives lost the election, and Disraeli was succeeded as Prime Minister by Gladstone.
Kerrison to Lord Derby:
"You must allow me to write to you on a subject which appears to me at this moment to be of paramount importance to the very existence ot the Conservative Party. The Leadership of Mr. Disraeli in the house of Commons has for years alienated many who would otherwise have been disposed to support the Conservative cause - and at this moment . . .creates so much disatisfation to the Party - that without some change it is too evident what must be the result. This feeling is so strong with me that ever since I have been in Parliament it has prevented my acting cordially with the Conservatives . . ." (13 May 1858)
Lord Derby to Kerrison:
". . . I . . . express to you the sincere regret with which I received your letter of the 15th Inst . . . I have not now to learn that with some members of our Party Mr Disraeli is not popular as a Leader - though I do not believe that this feeling is extensively prevalent, but what I have to learn is first what legitimate ground there is for this feeling . . . I have probably seen as much of him as anyone; and my firm conviction is that no one can have served the party more faithfully, and that there is no one in the House of Commons who could lead it with more ability, even if I could consent to the injustice of cashiering him without cause. We have just won a great triumph [the Conservatives had won the 1858 election, and Derby was now Prime Minister and Disraeli Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the Commons] and placed ourselves on the vantage ground by cordial union. For Heaven's sake let us not throw away the position we have gained and sacrifice a great party for personal dislikes and internal dissention." (24 May 1858)
A significant small arrchive casting much light on the political scene and the internal preoccupations of the 19th century Conservative Party. With a complete transcript of all the letters in the group.
Stock Code: 10337