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Benjamin Disraeli

Date de naissance: 21. décembre 1804
Date de décès: 19. avril 1881

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Benjamin Disraeli, né le 21 décembre 1804 et mort le 19 avril 1881 à Londres, est un homme politique et auteur britannique, nommé deux fois Premier ministre du Royaume-Uni. Il joue un rôle central dans la création du Parti conservateur moderne dont il formalise la doctrine. Par sa grande influence sur la politique étrangère, il a associé les conservateurs à la gloire et à la puissance de l'Empire britannique.

Né dans une famille juive, Benjamin Disraeli est élevé dans la foi anglicane car son père est en conflit avec sa synagogue. Il entame une carrière d'avocat mais se tourne vers la politique dans les années 1830 et est élu à la Chambre des Communes comme député de Maidstone en 1837. Lorsque les conservateurs prennent le pouvoir en 1841, Disraeli n'intégre pas le gouvernement du Premier ministre Robert Peel. Cinq ans plus tard, Peel divise le parti en demandant l'abrogation des Corn Laws qui limitaient les importations de céréales : il est violemment attaqué par Disraeli. Peu de notables conservateurs rompent avec Peel, et Disraeli devient alors une figure importante du parti même si beaucoup se méfient de lui. Il est trois fois chancelier de l'Échiquier et leader de la Chambre des communes au sein des cabinets de Lord Derby dans les années 1850 et 1860. Il développe à cette période une forte rivalité avec le libéral William Ewart Gladstone.

Lorsque Derby démissionne pour des raisons de santé en février 1868, Disraeli devient premier ministre mais perd les élections à la fin de l'année. Il représente alors l'Opposition avant de mener son parti à la victoire en 1874. Il développe une forte amitié avec la reine Victoria qui le fait comte de Beaconsfield en 1876. Le second mandat de Disraeli est dominé par la Question d'Orient, désignant le déclin de l'Empire ottoman et les actions des autres pays européens, notamment la Russie, pour en profiter. Il pousse ainsi les intérêts britanniques à prendre des parts dans la compagnie du canal de Suez en Égypte ottomane. En 1878, devant les victoires russes contre les Ottomans, Disraeli mène la délégation britannique au congrès de Berlin et négocie des termes favorables au Royaume-Uni.

Même si Disraeli est félicité pour ses actions à Berlin, d'autres événements affectent le soutien à son gouvernement : les guerres en Afghanistan et en Afrique du Sud sont critiquées, et il irrite les agriculteurs britanniques en refusant de rétablir les Corn Laws. Gladstone mène une campagne efficace et le parti libéral remporte les élections de 1880.

Auteur de plusieurs romans depuis 1826, Benjamin Disraeli publie sa dernière œuvre, Endymion, peu avant sa mort à l'âge de 76 ans.

Citations Benjamin Disraeli

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„There are three kinds of lies: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics.“

— Benjamin Disraeli
Attributed to Disraeli by Mark Twain in "Chapters from My Autobiography — XX", North American Review No. DCXVIII (JULY 5, 1907) [http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/19987]. 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.

„A popular assembly without parties—500 isolated individuals—cannot stand five years against a Minister with an organized Government without becoming a servile Senate.“

— Benjamin Disraeli
Context: 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. [http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1845/apr/11/maynooth-college Speech] in the House of Commons (11 April 1845).

„Nationality is the principle of political independence. Race is the principle of physical analogy,“

— Benjamin Disraeli
Context: 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. [http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1848/aug/09/supply-navy-estimates Speech] in the House of Commons (9 August 1848).

„A precedent embalms a principle.“

— Benjamin Disraeli
Context: 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. [http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1848/feb/22/expenditure-of-the-country Speech] in the House of Commons (22 February 1848).

„My lord, I am on the side of the angels.“

— Benjamin Disraeli
Context: What is the question now placed before society with the glib assurance the most astounding? That question is this— Is man an ape or an angel? My lord, I am on the side of the angels. 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), quoted 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. 108.

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„I am the blank page between the Old Testament and the New.“

— Benjamin Disraeli
Context: 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.

„I am a Conservative to preserve all that is good in our constitution, a Radical to remove all that is bad.“

— Benjamin Disraeli
Context: 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).

„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.“

— Benjamin Disraeli
Context: 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).

„England does not love coalitions.“

— Benjamin Disraeli
Context: 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. [http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1852/dec/16/ways-and-means-financial-statement Speech] in the House of Commons (16 December 1852).

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„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.“

— Benjamin Disraeli
Context: [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. Speech in House of Commons, as recorded (in third person) in the [http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1839/jun/20/education-adjourned-debate#S3V0048P0_18390620_HOC_4 | minutes of 20 June, 1839].

„I believe that, without party, Parliamentary government is impossible“

— Benjamin Disraeli
Context: 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.

„Assassination has never changed the history of the world.“

— Benjamin Disraeli
Context: 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).

„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.“

— Benjamin Disraeli
Context: 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), [http://www.gutenberg.org/files/20007/20007-h/20007-h.htm#link2HCH0010 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).

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