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The Nuttall Encyclopedia
Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of
English novelist and politician, born in London; son of Isaac D'Israeli, littérateur, and thus of Jewish parentage; was baptized at the age of 12; educated under a Unitarian minister; studied law, but did not qualify for practice. His first novel, "Vivian Grey," appeared in 1826, and thereafter, whenever the business of politics left him leisure, he devoted it to fiction. "Contarini Fleming," "Coningsby," "Tancred," "Lothair," and "Endymion" are the most important of a brilliant and witty series, in which many prominent personages are represented and satirised under thin disguises. His endeavours to enter Parliament as a Radical failed twice in 1832; in 1835 he was unsuccessful again as a Tory. His first seat was for Maidstone in 1837; thereafter he represented Shrewsbury and Buckinghamshire. For 9 years he was a free-lance in the House, hating the Whigs, and after 1842 leading the Young England party; his onslaught on the Corn Law repeal policy of 1846 made him leader of the Tory Protectionists. He was for a short time Chancellor of the Exchequer under Lord Derby in 1852, and coolly abandoned Protection. Returning to power with his chief six years later, he introduced a Franchise Bill, the defeat of which threw out the Government. In office a third time in 1866, he carried a democratic Reform Bill, giving household suffrage in boroughs and extending the county franchise. Succeeding Lord Derby in 1868, he was forced to resign soon afterwards. In 1874 he entered his second premiership. Two years were devoted to home measures, among which were Plimsoll's Shipping Act and the abolition of Scottish Church patronage. Then followed a showy foreign policy. The securing of the half of the Suez Canal shares for Britain; the proclamation of the Queen as Empress of India; the support of Constantinople against Russia, afterwards stultified by the Berlin Congress, which he himself attended; the annexation of Cyprus; the Afghan and Zulu wars, were its salient features. Defeated at the polls in 1880 he resigned, and died next year. A master of epigram and a brilliant debater, he really led his party. He was the opposite in all respects of his protagonist, Mr. Gladstone. Lacking in zeal, he was yet loyal to England, and a warm personal friend of the Queen (1804-1881).
Wood, James, ed. Entry for 'Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of'. The Nuttall Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/nut/b/beaconsfield-benjamin-disraeli-earl-of.html. Frederick Warne & Co Ltd. London. 1900.