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HOME   -   FAMOUS SPEECHES IN HISTORY   -   THE CAUSE OF ENGLAND

 
   


THE CAUSE OF THE PEOPLE, THE CAUSE OF ENGLAND - DISRAELI 1846
THE CAUSE OF THE PEOPLE, THE CAUSE OF ENGLAND - DISRAELI 1846
 

The Cause of England

Go here for more about  Benjamin Disraeli.

Go here for more about
 Benjamin Disraeli's The Cause of England Speech.


 

 


Photo above:
Benjamin Disraeli. Mansell/Time Inc.


It follows an excerpt from the transcript of Benjamin Disraeli's The Cause of England speech, delivered at London, England — May 15, 1846.


 

Benjamin Disraeli - Speech Now, sir,

I must say in vindication of the right honorable gentleman that I think great injustice has been done to him throughout these debates. A perhaps justifiable misconception has universally prevailed.

Sir, the right honorable gentleman has been accused of foregone treachery of long-meditated deception of a desire unworthy of a great statesman, even if an unprincipled one of always having intended to abandon the opinions by professing which he rose to power.

Sir, I entirely acquit the right honorable gentleman of any such intention. I do it for this reason, that when I examine the career of this minister, which has now filled a great space in the parliamentary history of this country, I find that for between forty and fifty years that right honorable gentleman has traded on the ideas and intelligence of others. His life has been one great appropriation clause. He is a burglar of others' intellect. Search the index of Beatson from the days of the Conqueror to the termination of the last reign, there is no statesman who has committed political petty larceny on so great a scale.

I believe, therefore, when the right honorable gentleman undertook our cause on either side of the House that he was perfectly sincere in his advocacy; but as in the course of discussion the conventionalisms which he received from us crumbled away in his grasp, feeling no creative power to sustain men with new arguments, feeling no spontaneous sentiments to force upon him conviction, the right honorable gentleman reduced at last to defending the noblest cause, one based on the most high and solemn principles, upon "the burdens peculiar to agriculture" the right honorable gentleman, faithful to the law of his nature, imbibed the new doctrines, the more vigorous, bustling, popular and progressive doctrines, as he had imbibed the doctrines of every leading man in this country for thirty or forty years, with the exception of the doctrines of parliamentary reform which the Whigs very wisely led the country upon and did not allow to grow sufficiently mature to fall into the mouth of the right honorable gentleman.

Sir, the right honorable gentleman tells us that he does not feel humiliated. Sir, it is impossible for anyone to know what are the feelings of another. Feeling depends upon temperament: it depends upon the idiosyncrasy of the individual: it depends upon the organization of the animal that feels. But this I will tell the right honorable gentleman, that, though he may not feel humiliated, his country ought to feel humiliated. Is it so pleasing to the self-complacency of a great nation, is it so grateful to the pride of England, that one who from the position he has contrived to occupy must rank as her foremost citizen, is one of whom it may be said, as Dean Swift said of another minister, "that he is a gentleman who has the perpetual misfortune to be mistaken"?

And, sir, even now, in this last scene of the drama, when the party whom he unintentionally betrayed is to be unintentionally annihilated even now, in this the last scene, the right honorable gentleman, faithful to the law of his being, is going to pass a project which I believe it is matter of notoriety is not of his own invention. It is one which may have been modified, but which I believe has been offered to another government and by that government has been wisely rejected. Why, sir, these are matters of general notoriety. After the day that the right honorable gentleman made his first exposition of his schemes, a gentleman well known to the House, and learned in all the political secrets behind the scenes, met me and said,

"Well, what do you think of your chief's plan?"


Not knowing exactly what to say, but taking up a phrase which has been much used in the House, I observed,

"Well, I suppose it is a great and comprehensive plan."

"Oh!" he replied, "we know all about it; it was offered to us. It is not his plan; it's Popkins's plan."


And is England to be governed by Popkins's plan? Will he go to the country with it? Will he go with it to that ancient and famous England that once was governed by statesmen by Burleighs and by Walsinghams; by Bolingbrokes and by Walpoles; by a Chatham and a Canning will he go to it with this fantastic scheming of some presumptuous pedant?

I won't believe it. I have that confidence in the common sense, I will say the common spirit, of our countrymen, and I believe they will not long endure this huckstering tyranny of the Treasury Bench those political peddlers that bought their party in the cheapest market and sold us in the dearest.

I know, sir, that there are many who believe that the time is gone by when one can appeal to those high and honest impulses that were once the mainstay and the main element of the English character. I know, sir, that we appeal to a people debauched by public gambling stimulated and encouraged by an inefficient and shortsighted minister. I know that the public mind is polluted with economic fancies: a depraved desire that the rich may become richer without the interference of industry and toil. I know, sir, that all confidence in public men is lost. But, sir, I have faith in the primitive and enduring elements of the English character.

It may be vain now, in the midnight of their intoxication, to tell them that there will be an awakening of bitterness; it may be idle now, in the springtide of their economic frenzy, to warn them that there may be an ebb of trouble. But the dark and inevitable hour will arrive. Then, when their spirit is softened by misfortune, they will recur to those principles that made England great, and which, in our belief, can alone keep England great. Then, too, perchance they may remember, not with unkindness, those who, betrayed and deserted, were neither ashamed nor afraid to struggle for the "good old cause" the cause with which are associated principles the most popular, sentiments the most entirely national, the cause of labor, the cause of the people the cause of England.
 

 


 

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