Benjamin Disraeli

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I am prepared for the worst, but hope for the best.

Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield (21 December 180419 April 1881) was a British politician, novelist, and essayist, serving twice as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The anniversary of his death on 19 April is known as Primrose Day.

See also[edit]

Quotes[edit]

  • To govern men, you must either excel them in their accomplishments, or despise them.
    • Letter to his father from Malta (25 August 1830), cited in Lord Beaconsfield's Letters, 1830-1852 (1882), p. 32.
  • I am a Conservative to preserve all that is good in our constitution, a Radical to remove all that is bad. I seek to preserve property and to respect order, and I equally decry the appeal to the passions of the many or the prejudices of the few
    • Campaign speech at High Wycombe (27 November 1832), cited in Selected Speeches of the Late Right Honourable the Earl of Beaconsfield, Vol. 1 (1882).
  • Yes, I am a Jew, and when the ancestors of the right honorable gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the temple of Solomon.
  • I will sit down now, but the time will come when you will hear me.
    • The end of Disraeli's badly-received maiden speech in the House of Commons in 1837. Disraeli was being shouted down by other MPs. Compare: "I will be heard", William Lloyd Garrison, Salutatory of the Liberator (January 1, 1831).
  • [It appears to me that] the Society of Education, that school of philosophers, were, with all their vaunted intellect and learning, fast returning to the system of a barbarous age, the system of a paternal government. Wherever was found what was called a paternal government was found a state education. It had been discovered that the best way to insure implicit obedience was to commence tyranny in the nursery. There was a country in which education formed the only qualification for office. That was, therefore, a country which might be considered as a normal school and pattern society for the intended scheme of education. That country was China. These paternal governments were rather to be found in the east than in the west, and if the hon. Member for Waterford asked [me] for the most perfect programme of public education, if he asked [me] to point out a system at once the most profound and the most comprehensive, [I] must give him the system of education which obtained in Persia. Leaving China and Persia and coming to Europe, [I] found a perfect system of national education in Austria, the China of Europe, and under the paternal government of Prussia. The truth was, that wherever everything was left to the government the subject became a machine.
  • Free trade is not a principle; it is an expedient.
    • On Import Duties (1843-04-25). Compare: "It is a condition which confronts us, not a theory" (Grover Cleveland, Annual Message, 1887, in reference to the tariff); "Protection is not a principle but an expedient" (below).
  • That dense population in extreme distress inhabited an island where there was an established church which was not their church; and a territorial aristocracy, the richest of whom lived in distant capitals. Thus they had a starving population, an absentee aristocracy, and an alien Church, and, in addition, the weakest executive in the world. That was the Irish question.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (16 February 1844).
  • The noble lord in this case, as in so many others, first destroys his opponent, and then destroys his own position afterwards. The noble lord is the Prince Rupert of parliamentary discussion: his charge is resistless, but when he returns from the pursuit he always finds his camp in the possession of the enemy.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (24 April 1844), referring to Lord Stanley; compare: "The brilliant chief, irregularly great, / Frank, haughty, rash,—the Rupert of debate!", Edward Bulwer-Lytton, The New Timon (1846), Part i.
  • It is knowledge that influences and equalises the social condition of man; that gives to all, however different their political position, passions which are in common, and enjoyments which are universal.
    • "The Value of Literature to Men of Business," speech at the Manchester Athenaeum (23 October 1844), cited in Selected Speeches of the Late Right Honourable the Earl of Beaconsfield, Vol. 2 (1882), p. 625.
  • London owes everything to its press: it owes as much to its press as it does to its being the seat of government and the law.
    • Speech at the Printing Trade Festival (1845).
  • The press is not only free, it is powerful. That power is ours. It is the proudest that man can enjoy. It was not granted by monarchs, it was not gained for us by aristocracies ; but it sprang from the people, and, with an immortal instinct, it has always worked for the people.
    • Speech at the Printing Trade Festival (1845).
  • The right hon. Gentleman caught the Whigs bathing, and walked away with their clothes. He has left them in the full enjoyment of their liberal position, and he is himself a strict conservative of their garments.
  • For myself, I care not what may be the result. Dissolve, if you please, the Parliament you have betrayed, and appeal to the people, who, I believe, mistrust you. For me there remains this at least—the opportunity of expressing thus publicly my belief that a Conservative Government is an Organised Hypocrisy.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (17 March 1845).
  • Protection is not a principle, but an expedient.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (17 March 1845).
  • 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. 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--500 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 1845).
  • 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 566 no party questions, but fixity of tenure."
    • Speech in the House of Commons (11 April 1845).
  • That is the fourth course, which in future I trust the right hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Peel) will not forget. The right hon. 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.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (11 April 1845).
  • 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 1846).
  • 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....to the agricultural branch; and the reason is, because in England we have a territorial Constitution. 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 1846).
  • 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.
    • Letter to Lord John Manners, referring to the tactics of Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel (17 December 1846), cited in William Flavelle Monypenny and George Earle Buckle, The Life of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield (Vol. 2) (1913), p. 337-338.
  • 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 1848).
  • 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 1848).
  • The hon. 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 1848).
  • 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 1848).
  • 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 1849).
  • But he has left us the legacy of heroes--the memory of his great name, and the inspiration of his great example.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (1 February 1849).
  • Why, I say, that to tax the community for the advantage of a class is not protection; it is plunder, and I entirely disclaim it; but I ask you to protect the rights and interests of labour generally in the first place, by allowing no free imports from countries which meet you with countervailing duties; and, in the second place, with respect to agricultural produce, to compensate the soil for the burdens from which other classes are free by an equivalent duty. This is my view of what is called "protection."
    • Speech in the House of Commons (14 May 1850).
  • 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." 'Sir, I say that justice is truth in action. Truth should animate an opposition, and I hope it does animate this opposition.;
    • Speech in the House of Commons (2 February 1851).
  • Yes! 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 1852).
  • 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.
    • Lord George Bentinck: A Political Biography (1852), pp. 324-325.
  • All is race -- there is no other truth.
    • Lord George Bentinck: A Political Biography (1852), p. 331.
  • 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.
    • Lord George Bentinck: A Political Biography (1852), p. 496.
  • 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.
    • Lord George Bentinck: A Political Biography (1852), Chapter 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 time), the 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. See Paul F. Boller, John George, They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, and Misleading Attributions (1990).
  • 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: twice, fruitlessly, the third time with a tin kettle to my tail which rendered the race hopeless. You cannot, therefore, be surprised, that I am a little wearied of these barren victories, which like Alma, Inkerman, and Balaclava, may be glorious but are certainly nothing more.
    • Letter to Lady Londonderry (22 February 1854), in Benjamin Disraeli, Letters: 1852-1856 (1997), p. 405.
  • I say that there are two systems of policy to apply to the management of what is commonly called the Eastern question, but which resolves itself into the geographical question, namely, the possession of that site which commands the empire of the world—the city of Constantinople. There is that school of opinions which I call British opinions, advocated by the noble Lord the Leader of this House (Lord J. Russell) and the noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Viscount Palmerston), who 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 1854).
  • 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 1855).
  • Finality, Sir, is not the language of politics.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (28 February 1859).
  • This shows how much easier it is to be critical than to be correct.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (24 January 1860); see also Lord Bryon, "Notes to Canto II" (1812), Childe Harold's Pilgrimage: "How much easier it is to be critical than to be correct".
  • He seems to think that posterity is a pack-horse, always ready to be loaded.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (3 June 1862).
  • 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 1863).
  • At present the peace of the world has been preserved, not by statesmen, but by capitalists.
    • Letter to Mrs. Sarah Brydges Willyams (17 October 1863).
  • Never take anything for granted.
    • Speech at Salthill (5 October 1864).
  • The characteristic of the present age is craving credulity.
    • Speech at Oxford Diocesan Conference (25 November 1864).
  • What is the question now placed before society with the glib assurance which to me is most astonishing? That question is this: Is man an ape or an angel? I, my lord, I am on the side of the angels. I repudiate with indignation and abhorrence those new fangled theories.
    • Variant: 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.
    • Variant: Is man an ape or an angel? Now, I am on the side of the angels!
    • Speech at Oxford Diocesan Conference (25 November 1864).
  • 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. …When such crimes are perpetrated the public mind is apt to fall into gloom and perplexity, for it is ignorant alike of the causes and the consequences of such deeds. But it is one of our duties to reassure them under unreasoning panic and despondency. Assassination has never changed the history of the world. 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.
    • Addressing the House of Commons after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln (1 May 1865).
  • 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.
    • ibid.
  • Time is precious, but truth is more precious than time.
    • Speech at Aylesbury, Royal and Central Bucks Agricultural Association (21 September 1865), cited in Wit and Wisdom of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, Collected from his Writings and Speeches (1881), p. 356.
  • Ignorance never settles a question.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (14 May 1866).
  • Individualities may form communities, but it is institutions alone that can create a nation.
    • Speech at Manchester (1866).
  • 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.
    • Speech at Mansion House (7 August, 1867).
    • William Flavelle Monypenny and George Earle Buckle, The Life of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield. Volume II. 1860–1881 (London: John Murray, 1929), p. 287.
  • In a progressive country change is constant;… change … is inevitable.
    • Speech on Reform Bill of 1867, Edinburgh, Scotland (1867-10-29); reported in Selected Speeches of the Late Right Honourable the Earl of Beaconsfield, ed. T. E. Kebbel (1882), vol. 2, part 4, p. 487.
  • 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 1867.
  • 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 and the traditions of a people, or whether it should be carried out in deference to abstract principles, and arbitrary and general doctrines.
    • Speech in Edinburgh (1867).
  • This is to be observed of the Bishop of London, that, 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 Canterbury, or a Prime Minister of England. 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.
    • Referring to Frederick Temple, letter to Queen Victoria (4 November 1868), cited in The Letters of Queen Victoria, 2nd series) (1926), ed. George Earle Buckle, p. 550.
  • There can be no economy where there is no efficiency.
    • Letter to Constituents (3 October 1868), cited in Wit and Wisdom of Benjamin Disraeli, Collected from his Writings and Speeches (1881), p. 110.
  • I think the author who speaks about his own books is almost as bad as a mother who talks about her own children.
    • Speech at banquet given by the city of Glasgow to Disraeli on his inauguration as Lord Rector of Glasgow University (19 November 1870), cited in Wit and Wisdom of Benjamin Disraeli, Collected from his Writings and Speeches (1881), p. 16.
  • 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 1871).
  • Increased means and increased leisure are the two civilizers of man.
    • Speech to the Conservatives of Manchester (3 April 1872), cited in The World's Best Orations from the Earliest Period to the Present Time, Vol. 1 (eds. David Josiah Brewer, Edward Archibald Allen, William Schuyler), pp. 309-338.
  • You behold a range of exhausted volcanoes. Not a flame flickers on a single pallid crest.
    • Speech to the Conservatives of Manchester (3 April 1872), cited in The World's Best Orations from the Earliest Period to the Present Time, Vol. 1 (eds. David Josiah Brewer, Edward Archibald Allen, William Schuyler), pp. 309-338.
  • 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.
    • Speech to the Conservatives of Manchester (3 April 1872), cited in The World's Best Orations from the Earliest Period to the Present Time, Vol. 1 (eds. David Josiah Brewer, Edward Archibald Allen, William Schuyler), pp. 309-338.
  • Gentlemen, the Tory party, unless it is a national party, is nothing.
    • Speech at banquet of the National Union of Conservative and Constitutional Associations, Crystal Palace, London (24 June 1872), cited in "Mr. Disraeli at Sydenham," The Times, (25 June 1872), p. 7.
  • The most distinguishing feature, or, at least, one of the most distinguishing features, of the great change effected in 1832 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 1867-8. 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. They are English to the core. They repudiate cosmopolitan principles. They adhere to national principles. They are for maintaining the greatness of the kingdom and the empire, and they are proud of being subjects of our Sovereign and members of such an Empire. Well, then, as regards the political institutions of this country, the maintenance of which is one of the chief tenets of the Tory party, so far as I can read public opinion, the feeling of the nation is in accordance with the Tory party.
    • Speech at banquet of the National Union of Conservative and Constitutional Associations, Crystal Palace, London (24 June 1872), cited in "Mr. Disraeli at Sydenham," The Times, (25 June 1872), p. 8.
  • The secret of success is constancy to purpose.
    • Speech at banquet of the National Union of Conservative and Constitutional Associations, Crystal Palace, London (24 June 1872), cited in "Mr. Disraeli at Sydenham," The Times, (25 June 1872), p. 8.
  • A University should be a place of light, of liberty, and of learning.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (11 March 1873).
  • You have despoiled Churches. You have threatened every corporation and endowment in the country. You have examined into everybody's affairs. You have criticized every profession and vexed every trade. No one is certain of his property, and nobody knows what duties he may have to perform tomorrow. This is the policy of confiscation as compared with that of concurrent endowment.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (11 March 1873).
  • For nearly five years the present Ministers have harassed every trade, worried every profession, and assailed or menaced every class, institution, and species of property in the country. Occasionally they have varied this state of civil warfare by perpetrating some job which outraged public opinion, or by stumbling into mistakes which have been always discreditable, and sometimes ruinous. All this they call a policy, and seem quite proud of it; but the country has, I think, made up its mind to close this career of plundering and blundering.
    • Letter to Lord Grey de Wilton (3 October 1873), cited in William Flavelle Monypenny and George Earle Buckle, The Life of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, Vol. 5 (1920), p. 262.
  • King Louis Philippe once said to me that he attributed the great success of the British nation in political life to their talking politics after dinner.
    • ibid.
  • I have always felt that the best security for civilisation is the dwelling, and that upon properly appointed and becoming dwellings depends more than anything else the improvement of mankind. Such dwellings are the nursery of all domestic virtues, and without a becoming home the exercise of those virtues is impossible.
    • Speech at the opening of Shaftesburgh Park Estate (18 July 1874), cited in Wit and Wisdom of Benjamin Disraeli, Collected from his Writings and Speeches (1881), p. 38.
  • Upon the education of the people of this country the fate of this country depends.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (15 June 1874).
  • I am dead: dead, but in the Elysian fields.
    • Remark to Lord Aberdare on being welcomed to the House of Lords (1876), cited by Stanley Weintraub, Disraeli: A Biography (1993), p. 563.
  • The danger at such a moment is that designing politicians may take advantage of such sublime sentiments and may apply them for the furtherance of their sinister ends. I do not think there is any language which can denounce too strongly conduct of this description. He who at such a moment would avail himself of such a commanding sentiment in order to obtain his own individual ends, suggesting a course which he may know to be injurious to the interests of the country, and not favourable to the welfare of mankind, is a man whose conduct no language can too strongly condemn. He outrages the principle of patriotism, which is the soul of free communities. He does more—he influences in the most injurious manner the common welfare of humanity. Such conduct, if it be pursued by any man at this moment, ought to be indignantly reprobated by the people of England; for, in the general havoc and ruin which it may bring about, it may, I think, be fairly described as worse than any of those Bulgarian atrocities which now occupy attention.
    • Speech to the annual meeting of the Royal and Central Bucks Agricultural Association in Aylesbury (20 September, 1876).
    • 'Lord Beaconsfield At Aylesbury', The Times (21 September, 1876), p. 6.
  • What I see in the amendment is not an assertion of great principles, which no man honours more than myself. What is at the bottom of it is rather that principle of peace at any price which a certain party in this country upholds. It is that dangerous dogma which I believe animates the ranks before me at this moment, although many of them may be unconscious of it. That deleterious doctrine haunts the people of this country in every form. Sometimes it is a committee; sometimes it is a letter; sometimes it is an amendment to the Address; sometimes it is a proposition to stop the supplies. That doctrine has done more mischief than any I can well recall that have been afloat this century. It has occasioned more wars than the most ruthless conquerors. It has disturbed and nearly destroyed that political equilibrium so necessary to the liberties of nations and the welfare of the world. It has dimmed occasionally for a moment even the majesty of England. And, my lords, to-night you have an opportunity, which I trust you will not lose, of branding these opinions, these deleterious dogmas, with the reprobation of the Peers of England.
    • Speech in the House of Lords (10 December, 1876).
    • William Flavelle Monypenny and George Earle Buckle, The Life of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield. Volume II. 1860–1881 (London: John Murray, 1929), p. 1273.
  • It has been said that the people of this country are deeply interested in the humanitarian and philanthropic considerations involved in [the Eastern Question]. All must appreciate such feelings. But I am mistaken if there be not a yet deeper sentiment on the part of the people of this country, one with which I cannot doubt your lordships will ever sympathise, and that is—the determination to maintain the Empire of England.
    • Speech in the House of Lords (20 February 1877), cited in William Flavelle Monypenny and George Earle Buckle, The Life of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield. Volume II. 1860–1881 (London: John Murray, 1929), p. 994.
  • The health of the people is really the foundation upon which all their happiness and all their powers as a state depend.
  • What, then, was that policy? It was a policy of conditional neutrality. Under the circumstances of the case we did not believe that it was for the honour or interest of England or Turkey that we should take any part in the impending contest; but while we enforced the neutrality which we prepared to observe, we declared at the same time that that neutrality must cease if British interests were assailed or menaced. Cosmopolitan critics, men who are the friends of every country save their own, have denounced this policy as a selfish policy. My Lord Mayor, it is as selfish as patriotism.
    • Speech at the Guildhall, London (9 November, 1877).
    • 'Lord Mayor's Day.', The Times (10 November, 1877), p. 10.
  • We have brought a peace, and we trust we have brought a peace with honour, and I trust that that will now be followed by the prosperity of the country.
    • Speech at Dover, England after arriving from the Congress of Berlin (16 July, 1878). 'Return Of Lord Beaconsfield And Lord Salisbury', The Times (17 July, 1878), p. 5.
  • Lord Salisbury and myself have brought you back peace, but a peace, I hope, with honour which may satisfy our Sovereign, and tend to the welfare of the country.
    • From the window of 10 Downing Street, after arriving from Dover (16 July, 1878). 'Return Of Lord Beaconsfield And Lord Salisbury', The Times (17 July, 1878), p. 5.
  • Which do you believe most likely to enter an insane convention, a body of English gentlemen honoured by the favour of their Sovereign and the confidence of their fellow-subjects, managing your affairs for five years, I hope with prudence, and not altogether without success, or a sophistical rhetorician, inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity, and gifted with an egotistical imagination that can at all times command an interminable and inconsistent series of arguments to malign an opponent and to glorify himself?
    • Speech to a banquet given to him in Knightsbridge, attacking William Gladstone for calling the Cyprus Convention an "insane covenant" (27 July, 1878). Reported in William Flavelle Monypenny and George Earle Buckle, The Life of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield. Volume II. 1860–1881 (London: John Murray, 1929), pp. 1228-9.
  • A series of congratulatory regrets.
    • Lord Hartington's Resolutions on the Berlin Treaty (July 30, 1878).
  • The harebrained chatter of irresponsible frivolity.
  • Nobody is forgotten, when it is convenient to remember him.
    • Letter to Lord Stanhope (17 July 1870), cited in William Flavelle Monypenny and George Earle Buckle, The Life of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, Vol. 5 (1920), p. 123-125.
  • Without publicity there can be no public spirit, and without public spirit every nation must decay.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (8 August 1871).
  • A sophistical rhetorician, inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity, and gifted with an egotistical imagination that who can at all times command an interminable and inconsistent series of arguments to malign an opponent and glorify himself.
    • On William Ewart Gladstone at a banquet in Riding School, Knightsbridge (27 July 1878), quoted in The Times (29 July 1879) and again cited in Wit and Wisdom of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, Collected from his Writings and Speeches (1881), p. 149.
  • A very remarkable people the Zulus: they defeat our generals, they convert our bishops, they have settled the fate of a great European dynasty.
  • No one, I think, can deny that the depression of the agricultural interest is excessive. Though I can recall periods of suffering, none of them have ever equalled the present in its instances. Let us consider the principle causes of this distress. My noble friend who has addressed you has very properly touched upon the subject and upon the effect of the continuous bad harvests in this country...It is, however, true that at that time the loss and suffering were not recognized as they were in the old days, when the system of protection existed, because the price of the food of the people was not immediately affected by a bad harvest, and it was not till the repetition of the misfortune on two occasions that the diminution of the wealth of the country began to be severely felt by the people generally. The remarkable feature of the present agricultural depression is this—that the agricultural interest is suffering from a succession of bad harvest, accompanied, for the first time, by extremely low prices. That is a remarkable circumstance that has never before occurred—a combination that has never before been encountered. In old days, when we had a bad harvest we had also the somewhat dismal compensation of higher prices; but now, when the harvests are bad the prices are lower rather than higher...nor is it open to doubt that foreign competition has exercised a most injurious influence on the agricultural interests of the country. The country, however, was perfectly warned that if we made a great revolution in our industrial system, that was one of the consequences that would accrue. I may mention that the great result of the returns we possess is this, that the immense importations of foreign agricultural produce have been vastly in excess of what the increased demands of our population actually require, and that is why the low prices are maintained...That is to a great degree the cause of this depression.
    • Speech in the House of Lords on the state of agriculture (28 March 1879), reported in The Times (29 March 1879), p. 8.
  • It cannot be denied that a state of great national prosperity is quite consistent and compatible with legislation in favour of the protection of native industry. That proposition, years ago, was denied; but with the experience we have had of France and the United States of America—the two most flourishing communities probably in existence—it is now incontestable. Well, my lords, many years ago—nearly 40—this country, which no one can say for a moment did not flourish with the old system of protection, deemed it necessary to revise the principles upon which its commerce was conducted...The scheme that was adopted was this—that we were to fight hostile tariffs with free imports. I was among those who looked upon that policy with fear. I believed it to be one very perilous. ...reciprocity is barter. I always understood that barter was the last effort of civilization that it was exactly that state of human exchange that separated civilization from savagery; and if reciprocity is only barter, I fear that would hardly help us out of our difficulty. My noble friend read some extracts from the speeches of those who had the misfortune to be in Parliament at that time, and he honoured me by reading an extract from the speech I then made in the other House of Parliament. That was a speech in favour of reciprocity, and indicated the means by which reciprocity could be obtained. That is to say—I do not want to enter into the discussion whether the principle was right or wrong, but it was acknowledged in public life, favoured and pursued by many statesmen who conceived that by the negotiation of a treaty of commerce, by reciprocal exchange and the lowering of duties, the products of the two negotiating countries would find a freer access and consumption in the two countries than they formerly possessed. But when he taunts me with his quotation of some musty phrases of mine 40 years ago, I must remind him that we had elements then on which treaties of reciprocity could be negotiated. At that time, although the great changes of Sir Robert Peel had taken place, there were 168 articles in the tariff which were materials by which you could have negotiated, if that was a wise and desirable policy, commercial treaties of reciprocity. What is the number you now have in the tariff? Twenty-two. Those who talk of negotiating treaties of reciprocity...have they the materials for negotiating treaties of reciprocity? You have lost the opportunity. I do not want to enter into the argument at the present moment; but England cannot pursue that policy.
    • Speech in the House of Lords (29 April 1879), reported in The Times (30 April 1879), p. 8.
  • In assuming that peace will be maintained, I assume also that no Great Power would shrink from its responsibilities. If there be a country, for example, one of the most extensive and wealthiest of empires in the world—if that country, from a perverse interpretation of its insular geographical position, turns an indifferent ear to the feelings and the fortunes of Continental Europe, such a course would, I believe, only end in its becoming an object of general plunder. So long as the power and advice of England are felt in the councils of Europe, peace, I believe, will be maintained, and maintained for a long period. Without their presence, war, as has happened before, and too frequently of late, seems to me to be inevitable. I speak on this subject with confidence to the citizens of London, because I know that they are men who are not ashamed of the Empire which their ancestors created; because I know that they are not ashamed of the noblest of human sentiments, now decried by philosophers—the sentiment of patriotism; because I know they will not be beguiled into believing that in maintaining their Empire they may forfeit their liberties. One of the greatest of Romans, when asked what were his politics, replied, Imperium et Libertas. That would not make a bad programme for a British Ministry. It is one from which Her Majesty's advisers do not shrink.
    • Speech at the Guildhall, London (9 November 1879), cited in William Flavelle Monypenny and George Earle Buckle, The Life of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, Vol. 2 (1929), pp. 1366-7.
  • I don't wish to go down to posterity talking bad grammar.
    • Correcting the Hansard proofs of his last speech to Parliament (31 March 1881), shortly before his death, cited in Harper's, Vol. 63 (1881). The quote is given in William Flavelle Monypenny and George Earle Buckle, The Life of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, Vol. 1 (1929) as "I will not go down to posterity talking bad grammar".

Sourced but undated[edit]

  • You will find as you grow older that courage is the rarest of all qualities to be found in public men.
    • Cited in Gwendolen Cecil, Life of Robert Marquis of Salisbury: 1868-1880, Vol. 2. (1921), p. 205.
  • Miss Sands told me that Queen Victoria, who was latterly éprise with Disraeli, one day asked him what was his real religion. "Madam," he replied, "I am the blank page between the Old Testament and the New."
    • Cited in Herbert Henry Asquith, Letters of the Earl of Oxford and Asquith to a Friend, Vol. 2 (1933), p. 94.
  • We are the children of the gods, and are never more the slaves of circumstance than when we deem ourselves their masters. What may next happen in the dazzling farce of life, the Fates only know.
    • Undated letter to Rosina Bulwer Lytton, cited in Andre Maurois, Disraeli: A Picture of the Victorian Age (1927), p. 114.
  • Be amusing: never tell unkind stories; above all, never tell long ones.
    • Upon being asked to offer the young son of a member of Parliament advice, cited in Wilfrid Meynell, Benjamin Disraeli: An Unconventional Biography (1903), p. 83.
  • He told Lord Esher that, in talking with the Queen, he observed a simple rule: "I never deny; I never contradict; I sometimes forget."
    • Cited in William Flavelle Monypenny and George Earle Buckle, The life of Benjamin Disraeli, Rarl of Beaconsfield, Vol. 6 (1920), p. 463, and in Henry W. Lucy, Memories of Eight Parliaments (1908), p. 66.
  • If Gladstone fell into the Thames, that would be a misfortune; and if anybody pulled him out, that, I suppose, would be a calamity.
    • In response to a man who asked Disraeli "What is the difference between a misfortune and a calamity?" cited in Wilfrid Meynell, Benjamin Disraeli: An Unconventional Biography (1903), p. 146.
  • No man is regular in his attendance at the House of Commons until he is married.
    • Theory held by Disraeli, cited in Sir William Fraser, Disraeli and his Day (1891), p. 142.
  • He has not a single redeeming defect.
  • Where knowledge ends, religion begins.
    • Remark, attributed in John Gordon Stewart Drysdale and John James Drysdale, The Protoplasmic Theory of Life (1874), p. 279 (note).

Books[edit]

  • I suppose, to use our national motto, something will turn up.
    • Popanilla (1827) Ch. 7 referring to the Motto of "Vraibleusia".
  • "What is care?" asked the Princess, with a smile.
    "It is a god", replied the Physician, "invisible, but omnipotent. It steals the bloom from the cheek and lightness from the pulse — it takes away the appetite, and turns the hair grey".
    • The Wondrous Tale of Alroy, pt. 5, ch. 5 (1833).
  • I am prepared for the worst, but hope for the best.
    • The Wondrous Tale of Alroy, pt. 10, ch. 3.
  • Despair is the conclusion of fools.
    • The Wondrous Tale of Alroy pt. 10, ch. 17.
  • Success is the child of audacity.
    • The Rise of Iskander ch. 4 (1833).
  • Though lions to their enemies they were lambs to their friends.
    • The infernal Marriage, part 2, Chapter 4 (1834).
  • Next to knowing when to seize an opportunity, the most important thing in life is to know when to forego an advantage.
    • The Infernal Marriage, part 3 (1834).
  • Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke.
    • Count Alarcos: A Tragedy Act IV, sc. i (1839).
  • The fool wonders, the wise man asks.
    • Count Alarcos: A Tragedy Act IV, sc. i.

Coningsby (1844)[edit]

  • "Manners are easy," said Coningsby, "and life is hard."
    • Coningsby, Book 3, Chap. 4.
  • "So you see, my dear Coningsby, that the world is governed by very different personages from what is imagined by those who are not behind the scenes." (Sidonia speaking)
    • Coningsby, Book 4, Chap. 15.

Vivian Grey (1826)[edit]

  • The microcosm of a public school.
    • Book I, Chapter 2.
  • The Services in war time are fit only for desperadoes but, in peace, are fit only for fools.
    • Book I, Chapter 9.
  • Beware of endeavouring to become a great man in a hurry. One such attempt in ten thousand may succeed: these are fearful odds.
    • Book I, Chapter 10.
  • I hate definitions.
    • Book II, Chapter 6.
  • Fear makes us feel our humanity.
    • Book III, Chapter 6.
  • There is no act of treachery or meanness of which a political party is not capable; for in politics there is no honour.
    • Book III, Chapter 9.
  • Experience is the child of Thought, and Thought is the child of Action. We can not learn men from books.
    • Book V, Chapter 1.
  • Variety is the mother of Enjoyment.
    • Book V, Chapter 4.
  • There is moderation even in excess.
    • Book VI, Chapter 1.
  • In polit nothing is contemptible.
    • Book VI, Chapter 4.
  • Man is not the creature of circumstances, circumstances are the creatures of men. We are free agents, and man is more powerful than matter.
    • Book VI, Chapter 7.
  • I repeat that all power is a trust; that we are accountable for its exercise; that from the people, and for the people all springs, and all must exist.
    • Book VI, Chapter 7.
  • Grief is the agony of an instant; the indulgence of Grief the blunder of a life.
    • Book VI, Chapter 7.
  • A man's fate is his own temper.
    • Book VI, Chapter 7.
  • A consistent man believes in Destiny — a capricious man in Chance.
    • Box VI, Chapter 22.
  • Like all great travellers I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.
    • Book VIII, Chapter 4.
  • The disappointment of manhood succeeds to the delusion of youth: let us hope that the heritage of old age is not despair.
    • Book VIII, Chapter 4.

The Young Duke (1831)[edit]

  • Every man has a right to be conceited until he is successful.
    • The 'Advertisement' to the 1853 edition.
  • A dark horse, which had never been thought of, and which the careless St. James had never even observed in the list, rushed past the grandstand in sweeping triumph.
    • Book I, Chapter 5.
  • Then there was a maiden speech, so inaudible, that it was doubted whether, after all, the young orator really did lose his virginity.
    • Book I, Chapter 6.
  • We are indeed a nation of shopkeepers.
    • Book I, Chapter 11.
  • It destroys one's nerves to be amiable every day to the same human being.
    • Book III, Chapter 2.
  • The age of chivalry is past. Bores have succeeded to dragons.
    • Book II, Chapter 5.
  • Teach us that wealth is not elegance; that profusion is not magnificence; and that splendour is not beauty. Teach us that taste is a talisman which can do greater wonders than the millions of the loanmonger. Teach us that to vie is not to rival, and to imitate not to invent. Teach us that pretension is a bore. Teach us that wit is excessively good-natured, and, like champagne, not only sparkles, but is sweet. Teach us the vulgarity of malignity. Teach us that envy spoils our complexions, and that anxiety destroys our figure.
    • Book III, Chapter 10.
  • Something unpleasant is coming when men are anxious to tell the truth.
    • Book IV, Chapter 6.
  • If a man be gloomy, let him keep to himself. No one has a right to go croaking about society, or, what is worse, looking as if he stifled grief.
    • Book V, Chapter 1.
  • A man may speak very well in the House of Commons, and fail very completely in the House of Lords. There are two distinct styles requisite: I intend, in the course of my career, if I have time, to give a specimen of both.
    • Book V, Chapter 6.

Contarini Fleming (1832)[edit]

  • Nature is more powerful than education; time will develop everything.
    • Part 1, Chapter 8. Compare: "La Nature a été en eux forte que l'éducation" (translated: "Nature was a stronger force in them than education"), Voltaire, Vie de Molière.
  • Never apologize for showing feeling, my friend. Remember that when you do so, you apologize for truth.
    • Part 1, Chapter 13; sometimes paraphrased: "Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth."
  • With words we govern men.
    • Part 1, Chapter 21.
  • Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.
    • Part 1, Chapter 23.
  • Amusement to an observing mind is study.
    • Part 1, Chapter 23.
  • The sense of existence is the greatest happiness.
    • Part 3, Chapter 1.
  • The practice of politics in the East may be defined by one word: dissimulation.
    • Part 5, Chapter 10.
  • All is mystery; but he is a slave who will not struggle to penetrate the dark veil.
    • Part 5, Chapter 18.
  • When men are pure, laws are useless; when men are corrupt, laws are broken.
    • Part 6, Chapter 3

Henrietta Temple (1837)[edit]

  • Debt is the prolific mother of folly and of crime.
    • Book 2, chapter 1.
  • What we anticipate seldom occurs; what we least expected generally happens.
    • Book 2, chapter 4. Compare: "I say the very things that make the greatest Stir / An' the most interestin' things, are things that did n't occur", Sam Walter Foss, Things that did n't occur.
  • The magic of first love is our ignorance that it can ever end.
    • Book 4, chapter 1. Often misquoted as "The magic of first love is our ignorance that it can never end".
  • Time is the great physician.
    • Book 6, chapter 9.
  • Man is not a rational animal. He is only truly good or great when he acts from passion.
    • Book 6, chapter 12.
  • Nature has given us two ears but only one mouth.
    • Book 6, chapter 24.

Sybil (1845)[edit]

  • "I rather like bad wine," said Mr. Mountchesney; "one gets so bored with good wine."
    • Book 1, chapter 1.
  • To be conscious that you are ignorant is a great step to knowledge.
    • Book 1, chapter 5.

Tancred (1847)[edit]

  • Is it what you call civilization that makes England flourish? Is it the universal development of the faculties of man that has rendered an island, almost unknown to the ancients, the arbiter of the world? Clearly not. It is the inhabitants that have done this. It is an affair of race.… All is race, there is no other truth.
    • Bk. I, Ch. 13.
  • Duty cannot exist without faith.
    • Bk. II, Ch. 1.
  • A majority is always the best repartee.
    • Bk. II, Ch. 1.
  • There is no index of character so sure as the voice.
    • Bk. II, Ch. 1.
  • Duty cannot exist without faith.
    • Bk. II, Ch. 11.
  • That fatal drollery called a representative government.
    • Bk. II, Ch. 13.
  • The view of Jerusalem is the history of the world; it is more, it is the history of earth and of heaven.
    • Bk. III, Ch. 4.
  • He was fresh and full of faith that "something would turn up."
    • Bk. III, Ch. 6.
  • When little is done, little is said; silence is the mother of truth.
    • Bk. IV, Ch. 4.
  • Everything comes if a man will only wait.
    • Bk. IV, Ch. 8.
  • We moralise among ruins.
    • Bk. V, Ch. 5.
  • London is a modern Babylon.
    • Bk. V, Ch. 5.
  • We should never lose an occasion. Opportunity is more powerful even than conquerors and prophets.
    • Tancred, Chapter 46.
  • Our morals differ in different counties, in different towns, in different streets, even in different Acts of Parliament. What is moral in London is immoral in Montacute; what is crime among the multitude is only vice among the few.
    • Tancred, Chapter 7.

Lothair (1870)[edit]

  • London is a roost for every bird.
    • Ch. 11.
  • The world is weary of statesmen whom democracy has degraded into politicians.
    • Ch. 17.
  • The pursuit of science leads only to the insoluble.
    • Ch. 17.
  • When a man fell into his anecdotage, it was a sign for him to retire.
    • Ch. 28.
  • Books are fatal: they are the curse of the human race. Nine- tenths of existing books are nonsense, and the clever books are the refutation of that nonsense. The greatest misfortune that ever befell man was the invention of printing.
    • Ch. 29.
  • I have always thought that every woman should marry, and no man.
    • Ch. 30.
  • You know who critics are?— the men who have failed in literature and art.
    • Ch. 35. Compare: "Reviewers are usually people who would have been poets, historians, biographers, if they could; they have tried their talents at one or the other, and have failed; therefore they turn critics", Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lectures on Shakespeare and Milton, p. 36. Delivered 1811–1812; "Reviewers, with some rare exceptions, are a most stupid and malignant race. As a bankrupt thief turns thief-taker in despair, so an unsuccessful author turns critic", Percy Bysshe Shelley, Fragments of Adonais.
  • "My idea of an agreeable person," said Hugo Bohun, "is a person who agrees with me."
    • Ch. 35.
  • Had it not been for you, I should have remained what I was when we first met, a prejudiced, narrow-minded being, with contracted sympathies and false knowledge, wasting my life on obsolete trifles, and utterly insensible to the privilege of living in this wondrous age of change and progress.
    • Ch. 49.
  • Action may not always bring happiness but there is no happiness without action.

Endymion (1880)[edit]

  • Nothing is going on, but everybody is afraid of something.
    • Ch. 2.
  • Desperation is sometimes as powerful an inspirer as genius.
    • Ch. 8.
  • His Christianity was muscular.
    • Ch. 14.
  • "But they deserve their wealth," he added, "nobody grudges it to them. I declare when I was eating that truffle, I felt a glow about my heart that, if it were not indigestion, I think must have been gratitude; though that is an article I had not believed in.
    • Ch. 23.
  • I have brought myself, by long meditation, to the conviction that a human being with a settled purpose must accomplish it, and that nothing can resist a will that will stake even existence for its fulfilment.
    • Ch. 26.
  • The more you are talked about the less powerful you are.
    • Ch. 36.
  • As a general rule the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information.
    • Ch. 36.
  • An insular country, subject to fogs, and with a powerful middle class, requires grave statesmen.
    • Ch. 37.
  • The Athanasian Creed is the most splendid ecclesiastical lyric ever poured forth by the genius of man.
    • Ch. 52.
  • There is no education like adversity.
    • Ch. 61.
  • Without tact you can learn nothing.
    • Ch. 61.
  • As for our majority... one is enough.
    • Ch. 64.
  • The world is a wheel, and it will all come round right.
    • Ch. 70.
  • Real politics are the possession and distribution of power.
    • Ch. 71 .
  • "As for that," said Waldenshare, "sensible men are all of the same religion."
    "Pray, what is that?" inquired the Prince.
    "Sensible men never tell."
    • Ch. 81. An anecdote is related of Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper (1621–1683), who, in speaking of religion, said, "People differ in their discourse and profession about these matters, but men of sense are really but of one religion." To the inquiry of "What religion?" the Earl said, "Men of sense never tell it", reported in Burnet, History of my own Times, vol. i. p. 175, note (edition 1833).
  • There is no gambling like politics.
    • Ch. 82.
  • If you are not very clever, you should be conciliatory.
    • Ch. 85.
  • The sweet simplicity of the three per cents.
    • Ch. 96. Compare: "The elegant simplicity of the three per cents", Lord Stowell, in Lives of the Lord Chancellors (Campbell), Vol. x, Chap. 212.


Misattributed[edit]

  • There are three kinds of lies: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics.
    • Attributed to Disraeli by Mark Twain in "Chapters from My Autobiography — XX", North American Review No. DCXVIII (JULY 5, 1907) [2]. His attribution is considered unreliable, and the actual origin is uncertain, with one of the earliest known publications of such a phrase being that of Leonard H. Courtney: see Lies, damned lies, and statistics.
  • Let the fear of a danger be a spur to prevent it: he that fears otherwise, gives advantage to the danger.
  • Moderation has been called a virtue to limit the ambition of great men, and to console undistinguished people for their want of fortune and their lack of merit.
  • Seeing much, suffering much, and studying much, are the three pillars of learning.
    • A Welsh triad cited in A Vindication of the Genuineness of the Ancient British Poems of Aneurin, Taliesin, Llywarch Hen, and Merdin (1803), by Sharon Turner, reads, "The three pillars of learning; seeing much, suffering much, and studying much". This was quoted from Turner by Isaac D'Israeli in his The Amenities of Literature (1841) and, through the confusion of father with son, has come to be falsely attributed to Benjamin Disraeli.
  • The choicest pleasures of life lie within the ring of moderation.
  • John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich: "Foote, I have often wondered what catastrophe would bring you to your end; but I think, that you must either die of the pox, or the halter."
    Samuel Foote: "My lord, that will depend upon one of two contingencies; -- whether I embrace your lordship's mistress, or your lordship's principles.”
  • Under this roof are the heads of the family of Rothschild a name famous in every capital of Europe and every division of the globe. If you like, we shall divide the United States into two parts, one for you, James, and one for you, Lionel. Napoleon will do exactly and all that I shall advise him to do; and to Bismark will be suggested such an intoxicating programme as to make him our abject slave.
    • Reported as a misattribution in Bernard Glassman, Benjamin Disraeli: The Fabricated Jew in Myth and Memory (2003), p. 185.

Isaac D'Israeli[edit]

Several quotes of his father, Isaac D'Israeli, have been widely misattributed to Benjamin.
  • The more extensive an author's knowledge of what has been done, the greater will be his power of knowing what to do.
    • Isaac D'Israeli, Curiosities of Literature.
  • Candour is the brightest gem of criticism.
    • Isaac D'Israeli, The Curiosities of Literature, "Literary Journals".
  • Every production of genius must be the production of enthusiasm.
    • Isaac D'Israeli, The Curiosities of Literature, "Solitude".
  • Mediocrity can talk; but it is for genius to observe.
    • Isaac D'Israeli, The Curiosities of Literature, "Men of Genius Deficient in Conversation".
  • Plagiarists, at least, have the merit of preservation.
    • Isaac D'Isaeli, Curiosities of Literature, "Of Suppressors and Dilapidators of Manuscripts".
  • The art of governing mankind by deceiving them.
    • Isaac D'Israeli's Curiosities of Literature has, "Between solid lying and disguised truth there is a difference known to writers skilled in 'the art of governing mankind by deceiving them'; as politics, ill understood, have been defined".
  • The wisdom of the wise, and the experience of ages, may be preserved by quotation.
    • Isaac D'Israeli, Curiosities of Literature, "Quotation".
    • Variant: The wisdom of the wise and the experience of the ages are perpetuated by quotations.
  • Whenever we would prepare the mind by a forcible appeal, an opening quotation is a symphony preluding on the chords those tones we are about to harmonize.
    • Isaac D'Israeli, Curiosities of Literature, "Quotation".

About Benjamin Disraeli[edit]

  • He was quite remarkable enough to fill a volume of Éloge. Someone wrote to me yesterday that no Jew for 1800 years has played so great a part in the world. That would be no Jew since St. Paul; and it is very startling.
  • In death he remains as he was in life. All show with no substance.
    • William Gladstone on discovering, after Disraeli's death, that he had refused a state funeral to be buried alongside his wife.
  • In whatever he has written he has affected something which has been intended to strike his readers as uncommon and therefore grand. Because he has been bright and a man of genius, he has carried his object as regards the young. He has struck them with astonishment and aroused in their imagination ideas of a world more glorious, more rich, more witty, more enterprising, than their own. But the glory has been the glory of pasteboard, and the wealth has been a wealth of tinsel. The wit has been the wit of hairdressers, and the enterprise has been the enterprise of mountebanks.
  • The downfall of Beaconsfieldism is like the vanishing of some vast magnificent castle in an Italian romance.
  • What strikes me most singular in you is, that you are fonder of Power than of Fame.
  • Der alte Jude, das ist der Mann!
    • The old Jew, that is the man!
    • Otto von Bismarck of Disraeli's performance at the Congress of Berlin. [3]

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