Benjamin Disraeli

Massive Disraeli Archive of Nearly 160 ALSs, the Entire Archive is Extensive with Over 775 pages!

Massive Disraeli Archive of Nearly 160 ALSs, the Entire Archive is Extensive with Over 775 pages! - An Intimate View of British Prime Minister Disraeli from One of His Secretaries

 

“I send you a mass of rubbish, but wh: must be looked over.”

 

This very revealing archive by one of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli’s trusted secretaries contains much about the man who led Great Britain from 1874 to 1880 and his administration. Disraeli’s wry sense of humor shines through in these casual notes to his private secretary about a wide range of issues, personalities, and events.

 

Archive of Algernon Turnor, 2nd Secretary to Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli from 1874 to 1880, including (1) Leather Album, 6.5" x 10" x 4" titled “Letters & Mss. of The Rt Hon. B. Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield. 1874 to 1880,” containing 137 documents, 340 pp., all but a few in Disraeli’s hand; (2) 64 individual notes, letters, and envelopes, including three printed speeches by Disraeli, three photographs of Turnor (1878), and Turnor’s commission signed by Queen Victoria (June 3, 1878), total of 225 pp., many in Disraeli’s hand; (3) Notebook of “Lord Beaconfield’s Entertainment of His Party during his Second Government, 1874-1880,” 52 pp., with newspaper reports and menus pasted in and notes on who declined and the success of the event; (4) “Some incidents of Official Life during the years 1867 to 1895,” a manuscript reminiscence by Algernon Turnor, 29 pp.; (5) a scrapbook of clippings, notes, and drawings regarding horses and horse racing, cricket, and fox hunting, 95 pp.; (6) a scrapbook of newspaper clippings regarding relations with France and other subjects at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth century, 33 pp.; (7) a privately printed book entitled Dr. Trevor: A Phenomenon (1913) about the life of barrister Henry Edward Trevor (1740-1794), 61 pp., with handwritten marginalia and 25 pages of handwritten additions on loose paper; and (8) five oversized genealogical charts, ranging in size up to 30" x 40.5".

 

Excerpts

Much of the correspondence is from Disraeli to Turnor, often from Disraeli at Hughenden Manor to Turnor at 10 Downing Street. Many of the letters and notes are on stationery from “10 Downing Street,” “Hughenden Manor,” or “2 Whitehall Gardens,” most signed “Beaconsfield” or “B” after 1876, when Queen Victoria appointed Disraeli as Earl of Beaconsfield.

 

·         Speech of the Right Hon. B. Disraeli, M.P., at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester, April 3, 1872: “Since the settlement of [the Constitution, now nearly two centuries ago, England has never experienced a revolution, though there is no country in which there has been so continuous and such considerable change. How is this? Because the wisdom of your forefathers placed the prize of supreme power without the sphere of human passions. Whatever the struggle of parties, whatever the strife of factions, whatever the excitement and exaltation of the public mind, there has always been something in this country round which all classes and parties could rally, representing the majesty of the law, the administration of justice, and being at the same time, the security for every man's rights and the fountain of honour.... And you owe all these, gentlemen, to the Throne.” (p4)

“Increased means and increased leisure are the two civilizers of man.”

“Gentlemen, 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.” (p5)

·         Address of the Rt. Hon. B Disraeli, M.P., as Lord Rector of the University of Glasgow, November 19, 1873: “I think the author who speaks about his own books is almost as bad as a mother who talks about her own children.”

·         Benjamin Disraeli to Algernon Turnor, March 11, 1874, 2 Whitehall Gardens: “This MS. of the Queen’s speech must be taken by you to Mr Harrison as soon as possible. It ought to have been with him an hour ago. But before you send it, you must copy from the MS. of Lord Cairns, the p. marked 3. I have inclosed a sheet of paper similar to the rest. Pray use promptitude & energy in this business, as I wish the proof to be in the hands of ye Cabt as soon as possible.”

·         Benjamin Disraeli to Algernon Turnor, November 7, 1874, 2 Whitehall Gardens: “Summon the Cabinet for Tuesday next, at three o’ck.”

·         Benjamin Disraeli to Algernon Turnor, December 6, 1874, Bournemouth: “The Queen’s boxes, when there are no MS. remarks upon the labels, may be always opened, as, in general, they would only contain approvals of submissions, & time is thus gained in the transaction of business.”

·         Benjamin Disraeli to Algernon Turnor, January 14, 1875: “The paragraph in the newspapers was quite unauthorized, & from the misconceptions it has occasioned, forces me to town. I wish to know who inserted it.

·         Algernon Turnor, Remarks on Dinner, February 4, 1875: “This dinner was not a success, the food was indifferent, wine bad, & coffee cold.”

·         Lord Beaconsfield to Algernon Turnor, [ca. February 1875, 2 Whitehall Gardens: “Has the Cabinet been called for Wednesday at 3 o’ck  If not, do so. I want the notes for the Tenancies Bill.”

·         Algernon Turnor, Remarks on Dinner, February 24, 1875: “It is to be noted that the Marquess of Bute found himself compelled, owing to forms of his Church during Lent, to regale himself entirely on successive helps of salmon & whitebait.”

·         Benjamin Disraeli to Algernon Turnor, March 8, 1875: “I thought you managed your dinner very well on Saturday: you even gave them good wine.”

·         Algernon Turnor to Benjamin Disraeli, March 11, 1875, 10 Downing Street: “I send an almanac for 1875 to enable you to fix a day for the prorogation of Parliament. Can you give me any clue by which to identify the Rev. William Jackson. There are so many of that name.”

·         Benjamin Disraeli to Algernon Turnor, March 30, 1875, Hughenden Manor: “We must, of course, have a dinner on the Birth-Day. Perhaps all Peers. This might conclude our season.”

Queen Victoria’s birthday was May 24.

·         Benjamin Disraeli to Algernon Turnor, April 12, 1875, 2 Whitehall Gardens: “Were your wines the same on Saturday? As I don’t taste them, I must look to you for this. I thought the dinner not as good: the clear turtle was muddy, & I saw no turtle in the liquid. The mutton was whiter than veal. A little criticism does good. You must keep Gunter up to ye mark.”

·         Benjamin Disraeli to Algernon Turnor, May 10, 1875, 2 Whitehall Gardens: “Will you have the goodness to give me a note for Hary Chaplin’s Horse-Motion for Tuesday? You are, I believe, master of the subject. I am sorry to give you so short a notice, but I was in hopes, that somebody else was looking after the matter for me.”

Henry Chaplin, 1st Viscount Chaplin (1840-1923) was a British landowner and racehorse owner who served as a Conservative Party member of the House of Commons from 1868 to 1916, when he was raised to the peerage. His 1875 motion hoped to stem the export of all the best stud horses and brood mares from the United Kingdom.

·         Algernon Turnor, Remarks on Dinner, May 29, 1875: “The dinner on this occasion was excellent & generally approved. The cotelettes d’Agneau a la Muscovite (cold) were very good. Wine also good.”

·         Algernon Turnor, Remarks on Dinner, June 2, 1875: “On this occasion the Printer forgot the menus which did not arrive till the middle of dinner.... The Hon. R. Baillie Hamilton M.P. for Berwick accepted Mr Disraeli’s invitation and then failed to put in an appearance. Up to 1 o’clock on the following day no explanation was vouchsafed.”

Robert Baillie-Hamilton (1828-1891) represented Berwickshire in Parliament from 1874 to 1880.

·         Benjamin Disraeli to Algernon Turnor, October 26, 1875, Hughenden Manor: “Confidential / A great personage wants the enclosed inserted in the newspapers. I don’t wish it to come ostensibly from me. I suppose you can manage it.... If you can get the parg: in tonight, i.e. for tomorrow mornings Times &c, it wd be better.”

[Enclosure: “We understand, that Her Majesty has been graciously pleased to consent to Her Royal Hss, the Princess of Wales, & the Royal Children, passing their Xmas, & New Year, at Copenhagen. The absence of Her Royal Highness will not, however, exceed five, or, at the utmost, six weeks.”

Alexandra of Denmark, the Princess of Wales (1844-1925) had married Prince Albert Edward (1841-1910) in March 1863, and they had six children between 1864 and 1871. When Queen Victoria died in 1901, Prince Albert Edward became King and Emperor Edward VII, and Alexandra became Queen of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Empress of India.

·         Benjamin Disraeli to Algernon Turnor, October 28, 1875, Hughenden Manor: “Put in the Queen’s Box a copy of the papers on Admiralty Instructions re Slavery.”

·         Benjamin Disraeli to Algernon Turnor, November 30, 1875, Windsor Castle: “Send to the Papers that I have left Windsor Castle for Longleat, on a visit to the Marquess of Bath. I hope everything is going on well about Mr Cave’s mission. H. M. approves it & thinks the sooner he goes, the better.”

John Alexander Thynne, 4th Marquess of Bath (1831-1896) became the marquess at age six and was educated at Eton College and Christ Church, Oxford. He was a devout Anglo-Catholic, and his younger brother was Lord Henry Thynne, who served as Treasurer of the Household from 1875 to 1880 under Disraeli.

In December 1875, the British government sent Paymaster-General Stephen Cave (1820-1880) to inquire into the finances of Egypt. His April 1876 report detailed waste and extravagance and advised foreign powers to interfere to restore Egypt’s credit.

·         Benjamin Disraeli to Algernon Turnor, n.d.: “I send you a mass of rubbish, but wh: must be looked over.”

·         Benjamin Disraeli to Algernon Turnor, n.d., Castle Bromwich, Birmingham: “I have come here without my seal. Will you, therefore, impress, & forward, the enclosed.”

·         Benjamin Disraeli to Algernon Turnor, April 13, 1876, Hughenden Manor: “I wish you wd send me the Lord Chancellor’s speech on introducing ‘Judicature’ bill, if you can find it in a No of Hansard.”

“In Saturday’s papers let it be said that I have left Hughenden for Cum. Lodge on a visit to their R. H. the Prince & Princess Xtian.”

Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein (1831-1917) married Princess Helena (1846-1923), the third daughter and fifth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

·         Matthew Burn to Benjamin Disraeli, August 12, 1876, Tilsonburg, Ontario, Canada: “I take the liberty of writing to ask you as a great favor if you will send me a Photograph of yourself, which I may be able to retain and hand to my only Son should he be spared to come to mans estate. I have always been a most ardent admirer of your political career as well as of your private character, and when it became in my power to shew the admiration which I had for your name I had my only Son at his christening called ‘Benjamin Disraeli’; and I am sure, should you honor me by sending a likeness of yourself, my son will prize it.... he completed his fifth year on the date of this note.”

[Endorsement by Benjamin Disraeli to Algernon Turnor: “I don’t think there is a decent photg: of myself. If, by any chance, you cd see one, some day, remember this queer fish.”

Matthew Henry Burn (1824-1883) was born in England and married in 1859 in Ontario, Canada. He was a miller in 1871 and a merchant in 1881. Benjamin Disraeli Burn (1871-aft. 1913) did “come to mans estate” and married widow Edith Janet Weston in 1913 in Tillsonburg, Ontario. At that time, he was a ticket agent.

·         Benjamin Disraeli to Algernon Turnor, August 18, 1876, Castle B[romwich: “Private / I want to know how we stand with regard to the Khedive & his new Tribunals. I understood when I left town, that the Law Officers differed, & were to see the Ld Chanr at the House of Lords on that day. What happened?”

Isma’il Pasha, the Khedive of Egypt (1830-1895) hoped to expand the Khedivate of Egypt to cover the whole of the Nile River, but lost the costly Ethiopian-Egyptian War of 1874-1876. He oversaw the Egyptian portion of the construction of the Suez Canal. He reigned as khedive from 1863 to 1879, when he was removed at the insistence of the United Kingdom.

·         Benjamin Disraeli to Algernon Turnor, August 18, 1876, Castle B[romwich: “The Queen telegraphs to me, & as H. M. is daily moving, requires immediate replies. These are impossible as there is no telegraph wire to Castle B, & the nearest is at Carl at least 3 miles off: generally indeed Birmingham, wh: is at least 5 miles off. The Master of the Horse dwells here, whom the Queen may wish suddenly to command. The place itself is populous & wealthy enough to be qualified for a wire. It seems to me a great shame, as I know it is to me a signal inconvenience to be debarred from one.”

“The Queen telegraphed to me at Birmingham last night betn 10 & 11. Did not receive message till this morning! By foot!!”

Orlando Bridgeman, 3rd Earl of Bradford (1819-1898) served as Master of the Horse from 1874 to 1880 and again from 1885 to 1886. He was a thoroughbred racehorse owner. Disraeli was particularly close to Lady Bradford, Selina Bridgeman, to whom he ultimately wrote nearly one thousand letters.

·         Lord Beaconsfield to the Electors of Buckingham, August 21, 1876: “The Queen having been graciously pleased to summon me to the House of Peers, I return to you the trust which, for so many years, you have confided to me as your Member in the House of Commons; an assembly in which I have passed the greater part of my life.... Throughout my public life I have aimed at two chief results. Not insensible to the principle of progress I have endeavoured to reconcile change with that respect for tradition which is one of the main elements of our social strength; and, in external affairs, I have endeavoured to develop and strengthen our Empire, believing that combination of achievement and responsibility elevates the character and condition of a people. It is not without emotion that I terminate a connection endeared to me by many memories and many ties, but I have the consolation of recollecting that, though I cease to be your Member, I shall still have the happiness of living among you; and that, though not directly your Representative, I may yet, in another House of Parliament, have the privilege of guarding over your interests and your honour.”

·         Lord Beaconsfield to Algernon Turnor, n.d., Hughenden Manor: “The Queen wishes a Barony to be given to the Mr West, who has Knole. He is a groom in waiting or equery in the Queen’s Household. She wants a submission to be sent to her hereon. He is to be Baron Sackville.”

Mortimer Sackville-West, 1st Baron Sackville (1820-1888) was the son of George Sackville-West, 5th Earl De La Warr, and Elizabeth Sackville, 1st Baroness Buckhurst. Large parts of the Sackville estates passed to the West family through his mother, notably the estate of Knole Park in Kent. When he died without a son, his younger brother Lionel succeeded him in the barony.

·         Lord Beaconsfield to Algernon Turnor, August 24, 1876, Hughenden Manor: “It must not be a Rocking Horse, for he has one, & being only two years old, even that is dangerous, but a good toy horse, that he cd get astride on, without the danger of breaking his neck. Send it to him, if you can find time. The direction Honble Orlando Bridgeman Castle Bromwich Birmingham.”

This gift was probably for one of Bridgeman’s grandsons, as his children were born in the 1840s and 1850s.

·         Lord Beaconsfield to Algernon Turnor, October 2, 1876, Hughenden Manor: “You are most kind but all guests are loathsome, & I shd not prove an exception. So, like a true commander in chief, I must sleep in my camp bed, on the field of battle= & for my staff, I shall have an able & faithfl private Secy  Look up our treaties about the Porte of modern date. I think, they were laid before Parlt this last Sess: or the preceding one. I want particularly, besides the treaty of Paris, the treaty respecting the passage of the Dardanelles, wh: was just after the Expulsion of the Egyptians from Asia.”

·         Lord Beaconsfield to Algernon Turnor, October 11, 1876, Hughenden Manor: “You never told me how much I was in your debt for Mr. Bridgman’s Bucephalus. It is the most successful toy ever known, & I am much obliged to you.”

Bucephalus was Alexander the Great’s horse.

·         Lord Beaconsfield to Algernon Turnor, April 24, 1877: “The Queen has been graciously pleased to express Her Majesty’s desire, that the Albert Medal, hitherto only bestowed for gallantry in saving life at Sea, shall be extended to similar actions on Land, & that the first medals, struck for this purpose, shall be conferred on the heroic rescuers of the Welsh miners.”

On April 11, 1877, fourteen miners were trapped in a coal mine at Tynewydd, northeast of Cardiff. A team of other miners was able to rescue nine of the fourteen men and boys trapped in the flooded mine. Queen Victoria later awarded Albert Medals to four of the rescuers. Though 159 men and boys lost their lives that year alone in the South Wales Coalfield, the Tynewydd mine flood led to more routine inspections to prevent similar disasters.

·         Lord Beaconsfield to Algernon Turnor, May 16, 1877, 2 Whitehall Gardens: “The Queen has expressed her desire that some adequate provision shd be made for the Misses De Foe, the lineal descendants of the author of Robinson Crusoe, & Her Majesty has been graciously pleased to direct, that a pension of 75£ pr annum shd be granted to each of these three ladies.”

Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) first published Robinson Crusoe in 1719.

·         Lord Beaconsfield to Algernon Turnor, May 24, 1877, Hughenden Manor: “Very cold here, very dark, & I have scarcely been out of the house, being quite out of sorts, with gout, & all that. It seems like a black hand, March, were it not for the green leaves—but there are no blooms & blossoms: no chestnut, no [Cab? no lilac—& alas, no May!”

·         Lord Beaconsfield to Algernon Turnor, June 7, [1877, 2 Whitehall Gardens: “We forgot one point wh: completes the case. Could the Queen purchase the reversion of Claremont, & the property thus absolutely become that of H. Majesty?”

Queen Victoria purchased Claremont, a country house in Surrey fifteen miles southwest of London, for her fourth and youngest son, Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, when he married in 1882.

·         Lord Beaconsfield to Queen Victoria, July 20, 1877: “The vindication of Yr Majestys government in the Ho: of L. last night was considered complete. The Speaker, the Cr of the Exr & Lord Hartington, have agreed upon a resolution, wh: will rescind the vote of censure in the H of C & wh: will be passed unanimously.”

The House of Commons voted to censure Lord Beaconsfield on his choice for Controller of the Stationery Office. After the Chancellor of the Exchequer explained some details, the House voted to rescind the censure.

·         Lord Beaconsfield to Algernon Turnor, August 23, 1877: “It is desirable that you shd not leave D.S. until my messenger returns from Hughenden yesterday at 6:30. They telegraphed to me from F. O. respecting a draft dispatch to Belgrade of great urgency & importance. I had returned it to you (received only yesterday morning) by the messenger, who returned from Wycombe by 4 o’ck: train. They wished, if approved, to telegraph contents, but, tho approved, it was altered, & I fear that a pressing matter, already neglected, has been delayed. I telegraphed in return that the drt was at D.S. in yr pouch.”

·         Lord Beaconsfield to Lord Chancellor Hardinge Giffard, 1st Earl of Harlsbury, December 19, 1877: “My dear Ld Chanr I am not at home this Evening, & on Saturday, I must go to Windsor. I would not for the world, interfere with your two days shooting, & disappoint your boys. I will write to you in a day or two on the subject on wh. I wished to have some conversation.”

·         Algernon Turnor, Remarks on Dinner, January 17, 1878: “The dinner was not particularly a good one. The Banquet took place in the large reception room at the F.O. which was lit with gas & no lamps. The table was laid for 62 and the space was ample. The guests assembled in Lord Derby’s room which was lit by Hancock & Rixon. The furniture which was of the usual dowdy, mixed, & tasteless character, was supplied by the Office of Works whose notions of elegance are peculiar. A bare table in the centre & chairs in the most uncomfortable positions distinguished the apartment. N.B. In future order cut flowers to be placed on the tables.”

·         Lord Beaconsfield to Algernon Turnor, September 8, 1878, Hughenden Manor: “Today came a cyphered let: from F. O. but yr key here did not fit it. Pray look to this, & see wher I have the right book.”

·         Algernon Turnor to Lord Beaconsfield, September 12, 1878, 10 Downing Street: “Does this note in any way represent your feelings on receiving the Carvers.”

[Endorsement: Yes. / B

[Enclosure: Lord Beaconsfield wishes me to express to you the pleasure with which he accepts the handsome and beautifully made Carvers which you have presented to him. Looking to the circumstances under which they are given, his Lordship feels that this is a yet further proof of the sympathy and support which he has received from the people of Sheffield during the trying labours of the past two years, and, in thanking you, he desires me to say that he not only values the gift in itself, but appreciates still more the impulse which prompted it.

·         Lord Beaconsfield to Algernon Turnor, September 15, 1878, Hughenden Manor: “Lumber business, very unsatisfactory. The excuse, moonshine. We must take care F.O. does not usurp diplomatic honors as the War office has military, & the Col. Mich & Geo: All honors shd flow from the Fountain of Honors, advised only by the Prime Minister. The messenger, the other day, ought to have left Wycombe by ½ past three train. He was in good time, & I warned him, that the bag was pressing. He ought to be looked after: he can’t be trusted. Whats his name?”

·         Lord Beaconsfield to Algernon Turnor, September 17, 1878, Hughenden Manor: “I don’t see much chance of rest: in fact, if it would not agitate Europe, the Cabinet ought to be at hand, but that’s impossible, & I must take the responsibility on my own shoulders.”

·         Lord Beaconsfield to Algernon Turnor, December 23, 1878, Hughenden Manor: “Confidential  I don’t like to interfere with yr domestic Xmas, but you must return to yr post as soon as you can. I am overwhelmed with business.... My hand is wearied with writing, & interpreting damnable cyphered tels, the invention of Beelzebub.”

·         Telegram of Lord Beaconsfield to The King of the Belgians, January 2, 1879, Hughenden: “Deeply gratified by such kind words from a Sovereign whom all Englishmen respect & regard. May you, Sir, & Her Majesty, long reign in the hearts of your Loyal & happy subjects!”

King Leopold II of Belgium (1835-1909) was the King of the Belgians from 1865 to 1909.

·         Lord Beaconsfield to M. d’Oubril, February 6, 1879: “Would you do me the great kindness of forwarding the enclosed to His Highness. I missed our messenger yesterday, & we have not another to St Petersburg for a fortnight!”

Graf Pavel Petrovich Ubri, Baron d’Oubril (1820-1896) was the Russian ambassador at Berlin from 1863 to 1880. In the summer of 1878, Disraeli had helped craft the Treaty of Berlin to decide the fate of the Balkan peninsula after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878.

·         Telegram of Lord Beaconsfield to the “Countess of Balmoral,” English Embassy, Paris, March 27, 1879, Downing Street: “With duty. Count Munster, much distressed has just called on me to announce the most unexpected death of Yr Majesty’s grandson, Prince Waldemar. No cause assigned: our grief is great.”

Prince Waldemar of Prussia (1868-1879) was the youngest son of Crown Prince Friedrich and Princess Victoria, the oldest daughter of Queen Victoria. He died in Berlin of diphtheria.

When traveling, Queen Victoria used the name “the Countess of Balmoral” to maintain her privacy. She had traveled to Paris on her way to Baveno in northern Italy, where she spent from March 28 to April 23, 1879.

·         Telegram of Lord Beaconsfield to Prince Gortchakow, St. Petersburg, April 14, 1879, Downing Street: “I have heard with much emotion of the infamous attempt on the life of the Emperor, & congratulate you & Russia on his safety.”

On April 14, 1879, former student Alexander Soloviev confronted Russian Emperor Alexander II with a pistol, and the Emperor fled in a zig-zag pattern. Soloviev fired five times but missed. Soloviev was tried, convicted, and hanged in early June. The frequent object of assassination attempts, Alexander II was assassinated in March 1881 by young revolutionary socialists.

Prince Gorchakov (1798-1883) was the Foreign Minister of the Russian Empire from 1856 to 1882.

·         Lord Beaconsfield to Algernon Turnor, September 2, 1879, Hughenden Manor: “I am very fairly well, & Daly has managed his business sedulously & skillfully. Yesterday he brought down the Prime Minister of Canada, an agreeable & intelligent man, & gentlemanlike with very little Yankee twang.”

John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) was the first Prime Minister of Canada and held office from 1867 to 1873, and again from 1878 to 1891. He was born in Scotland, but his family immigrated to Canada when he was five years old.

·         Lord Beaconsfield to Algernon Turnor, September 12, 1879, Hughenden Manor: “The Queen wants me to ask Sir Evelyn Wood & Col: Buller down here, & hear their tale. Just reconnoitre, & see if they be in town. I could manage it on Tuesday.”

Evelyn Wood (1838-1919) and Redvers Buller (1839-1908) were British Army officers who commanded troops in the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. Both received the Victoria Cross, Wood for actions in India, Buller for actions in the Zulu War. Their victory over the Zulus at Kambula in March 1879 was the turning point of the war, and they returned to England in the summer of 1879.

·         Lord Beaconsfield to Algernon Turnor, September 18, 1879, Hughenden Manor: “Confidential  The Queen returns by letter & by telegram to Her Majestys original wish, that I shd receive Lord Chelmsford. I cannot do it. Having recalled him from his blundering command, & being highly dissatisfied with him as the author of infinite mischief, I cannot let him eat my salt, but I have mentioned to the Queen, that, if Her Majesty commands me, I will receive him officially in my official residence. It is dreadful to have to come to town for such a business. I could not immediately, as I shall have people here till towards the end of the month, but I wish you wd reconnoitre as to Chelmsford’s movements. I see by your letter he is in town.”

Frederic Thesiger, 2nd Baron Chelmsford (1827-1905) was a British General whose arrogance in the Anglo-Zulu War led to one of the severest defeats in the history of the British Empire at the Battle of Isandlwana in January 1879.

·         Lord Beaconsfield to Algernon Turnor, October 1, 1879, Hughenden Manor: “Lord Salisbury must have the box, wh: goes by this messenger, immediately. Cypher to Ld Salisbury that the Cabinet will meet on Monday next at two o’ck: Cypher to the Queen to that effect. And give your orders for the general summons, but I did not want that to be publicly known until a little later—say Friday. But, this, if impossible, is no great matter. Cypher also to Lord Cranbrook, that I have summoned the Cab. for Monday, assuming you will be in time, that the tel: will arrive at Bal: before his departure.”

Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury (1830-1903) first served as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs from 1878 to 1880. He later served in the office for more than ten years between 1885 and 1900. He also served as Prime Minister three times for a total of more than thirteen years between 1885 and 1902, often holding both offices simultaneously.

·         Lord Beaconsfield to Algernon Turnor, December 11, 1879, Hughenden Manor: “I go to the Queen on Monday, & stay till Wedy H. M. leaves herself, Windsor the following day. What vacant places require the Royal pleasure? Registration I assume; not new Forest, eh? What things have I, within your cognizance, to bring before the Queen?”

·         Lord Beaconsfield to Algernon Turnor, n.d.: “Will you have the kindness to send me the Gazetteer?”

·         Lord Beaconsfield to Algernon Turnor, n.d., Hughenden Manor: “When I send letters marked ‘confidential’ have the kindness to seal them. By the bye, I came here without an official seal.”

·         Lord Beaconsfield to Algernon Turnor, January 9, 1880, Hughenden Manor: “Herein, is a cheque for Gunters. Do what you can to prevent his poisoning us on the 4th.”

·         Lord Beaconsfield to Algernon Turnor, July 8, 1880, Hughenden Manor: “If you make as good & faithful a husband, as you did a Secretary, Lady Henrietta will be a very happy woman. I heartily congratulate you both. I was much obliged to you for your previous letter, & shall always be glad to hear from you.”

·         Lord Beaconsfield to Algernon Turnor, December 26, 1880, Hughenden Manor: “Lord Rowton talks of reaching England by meeting of Parlt. He is still at Algiers with a sick sister, whom in that case, he must leave behind. I shall not believe in his return till I see him. His absence has been a calamity. I hope your lady is well, & that you are both happy.”

Montagu William Lowry-Corry, 1st Baron Rowton (1838-1903) served as Benjamin Disraeli’s private secretary from 1866 to Disraeli’s death in 1881. He was raised to the peerage in 1880. Although Rowton was in Algiers when Lord Beaconsfield was stricken with his last illness in the spring of 1881, he returned to England to be present at Beaconsfield’s death bed.

 

Excerpts from “Some incidents of Official Life during the years 1867 to 1895”

“On enquiring, at his first interview, whether his chief desired to see every letter which was addressed to him, he received the following reply ‘No, if you find one with a grain of sense in it show it to me.’”

“But storms were brewing. A slight ripple stirred the surface, when the Public Worship Regulation Bill was introduced, which gathered force amongst a section when Mr Disraeli described the proceeding in some churches as ‘Mass in Masquerade’ the alliteration being dear to his alliterative soul.”

“An admirer of Lord Beaconsfields novels wrote to Enquire the meaning of a passage which had sorely puzzled his diligent but somewhat obtuse brain. On being asked for the reply Lord B said ‘Tell him that as I subsequently wrote 3 volumes to Explain the point, and have not been successful it would be a presumption in me to make any further effort.’”

 

This archive includes more than 775 pages of original material on Disraeli and his secretary Turnor. It includes nearly 160 documents in Disraeli’s hand and signed by him.

 

Historical Background

After a brief term as Prime Minister from February to December 1868, Conservative Party leader Benjamin Disraeli led the opposition from 1868 to 1874, while Liberal Party Prime Minister William Gladstone held power. The rivalry between the two men defined British politics for a quarter of a century, even beyond Disraeli’s death, and both rank among the greatest British Prime Ministers.

 

During Gladstone’s first term as Prime Minister, Disraeli took advantage of Liberal mistakes and built support among the people. When Gladstone resigned in 1873, the Queen asked Disraeli to form a government, but he refused to lead a minority government without a general election. In January 1874, Gladstone called for a general election, which resulted in the first Conservative majority since 1841. Disraeli again became Prime Minister. During its tenure from 1874 to 1880, Disraeli’s government enacted many reforms. He was particularly close to Queen Victoria and passed the Royal Titles Act in 1876 to make her Empress of India as well as Queen. That same year, Queen Victoria elevated Disraeli to the peerage as the Earl of Beaconsfield, and he led his government from the House of Lords rather than the House of Commons.

 

In foreign affairs, Disraeli was a firm supporter of the British Empire, who engineered the purchase of stock in the Suez Canal, built by the French but central to British interests in India; played a key role in the Congress of Berlin that created Bulgaria and divided the Balkan Peninsula; and presided over the Anglo-Zulu War in 1879 that resulted in an eventual British victory, though with several costly battles. Gladstone attacked Disraeli’s commitment to imperialism as unsustainable.

 

Parliamentary elections in 1880 resulted in a Liberal victory and the replacement of Lord Beaconsfield with William Gladstone as Prime Minister. Shortly before he resigned in April 1880, Beaconsfield arranged to honor his private secretary Montagu Corry, who became Baron Rowton. Beaconsfield died of complications from bronchitis in April 1881.

 

From early 1874 to late 1877, Disraeli, when in London, lived at 2 Whitehall Gardens, a short walk from 10 Downing Street and Westminister Palace. After that, he lived at 10 Downing Street, the office of the Prime Minister, but spent much of his time at his home, Hughenden Manor, thirty miles northwest of London.

 

 

Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) was born in London into a Sephardic Jewish Italian mercantile family. His father had his four children baptized into the Church of England in 1817, which opened the possibility of a political career. Disraeli was brought up as an Anglican, “the blank page between the Old Testament and the New,” as he described himself. He first stood for election in 1832 as a Radical, but lost. In 1835, after running as a Tory and again losing, he began writing for the Tory Party. In 1837, he won a seat in the House of Commons, his campaign funded in part by his writing of novels. He married widow Mary Anne Lewis (1792-1872) in 1839, who was wealthy and a dozen years his senior. Disraeli hoped to forge a paternalistic alliance between Tories and Radicals, and while he developed a personal relationship with radical John Bright, he was unsuccessful in establishing an alliance. During the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846, Disraeli led the protectionists who battled repeal. In the late 1840s, Disraeli purchased Hughenden Manor, in Buckinghamshire. Disraeli served as Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons under the Earl of Derby as Prime Minister in 1852, from 1858 to 1859, and again from 1866 to 1868. He served as Prime Minister in 1868 and again from 1874 to 1880, succeeded each time by Liberal Party leader William Gladstone. Disraeli maintained a close relationship with Queen Victoria, and in August 1876, she appointed him as Earl of Beaconsfield, elevating him to the House of Lords. He published his last completed novel shortly before he died at the age of 76.

 

Algernon Turnor (1845-1921) was born the fourth son of Christopher Turnor and Lady Caroline Turnor of Stoke Rockford.  He went to Eton in 1856 and attended Christ Church, Oxford University in 1860. He served in the Treasury Department from 1867 until he became second private secretary to Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, Lord Beaconsfield, a position he held from 1874 to 1880. He married Henrietta Stewart (d. 1930) at St. Peter’s Church in early July 1880. From 1870 to 1900, he was a noted fox hunter. He also served as the Financial Secretary of the General Post Office until his retirement in 1896.

 

 

 

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