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Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield (1804-81)


RCIN 34061

A gilt metal openwork frame containing a photograph from a painting of the Earl of Beaconsfield, and a lock of hair. Engraved: 'In memory of the dear Earl of Beaconsfield. Born Dec. 21st 1804. Died April 19th 1881'. Benjamin Disraeli, who first gained a seat in the House of Commons in 1837, became leader of the Tory party in 1848. After three joint periods in office with Lord Derby, he served as Prime Minister briefly in 1867 and later from 1874-1880. He also wrote a number of novels. As a young man, Disraeli had appeared flamboyant and eccentric, but by patience and strength of will he developed into an astute and eloquent statesman. He understood the value of imaginative gestures, as when he advised Queen Victoria in 1876 to assume the title of Empress of India, thus enhancing Britain's position as an imperial power. The Queen much enjoyed her interviews and correspondence with Disraeli, whose wit entertained her and whose flattery amused but never entirely deceived her; and the esteem was mutual. At his death in April 1881 she wrote sadly that 'dear Ld. Beaconsfield was one of my best, most devoted, & kindest of friends, as well as wisest of counsellors. His loss is irreparable, to me & the country [...] Just this day, [last] year, Ld. Beaconsfield left Windsor, having resigned, which he felt so much, & so did I, but I was full of hope he might be my minister again'.

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