Monday, August 21, 2017

Benjamin Disraeli: progressing in politics

Benjamin Disraeli has been called the most gifted Parliamentarian of the 19th century and a first class orator, writer and wit.

Twice Prime Minister, he played a major part in the creation of the modern Conservative Party. He also made the Tories the party most identified with the glory and power of the British Empire: he brought India and the Suez Canal under the control of the British crown.

Reading about Disraeli’s rise from relative obscurity to international renown and what he called ‘the top of the greasy pole’ makes me wonder how he did it, why he did it and which, if any, subterranean forces were at work to move him into such a high position. These articles are a record of my attempts to understand what was going on and to answer those questions.

Getting in: the political party lottery
Although Disraeli may have decided on a political career in 1826, he didn’t do much about it until 1832. This was after his return from the Grand Tour of Europe and the Orient, a tour that restored him to health.

His long term goal was to become Prime Minister.

The first step in this direction was to get into the House of Commons as a Member of Parliament.  This entailed deciding which of the three political parties to campaign for.

The Tory, or Conservative, Party was considered to be worn out at the time, a lost cause, and Disraeli didn’t want to attach himself to a falling star; he couldn’t bring himself to be a Whig (who became the Liberals), so in 1832 he decided that he would campaign as a Radical.

After making a few unsuccessful attempts to get into Parliament by standing as an Independent Radical, in 1835 Disraeli changed his political affiliations and campaigned as a Tory.

For Disraeli, the end was much more important than the means; he felt that he had to do whatever it took to reach his goal. He was in no position to have scruples. Perhaps he changed parties because he felt that time was running out; he was going nowhere with the Radicals so had not got much to lose by joining the Conservatives.

He lost a by-election in 1835. He was then offered the safe seat of Maidstone, and easily defeated his Whig opponent in the general election of 1837.

He was in! He had finally made it at the age of 32. His decision to switch parties had paid off.

The Conservatives, while still a minority in Parliament, made large gains in this election; their star was on the rise again.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Benjamin Disraeli: getting started in politics

Disraeli: a Personal History by Christopher Hibbert is just one of the many available biographies of Benjamin Disraeli, Prime Minister and Earl of Beaconsfield. It is the only one that I have read in full. 

I read it because I hoped to find more examples of unseen influences at work in Disraeli’s life. I finished it feeling slightly disappointed as I did not find many examples of what I was looking for.

I also felt a little disillusioned; the great statesman felt drawn to Westminster not by a vocation or calling, not by principles, ideology or any sense of public service but by self-interest, inordinate ambition and vanity. The desire for fame and the need to make his presence felt at the highest levels of society were Disraeli’s main reasons for entering politics. He decided that a political career was the best route for getting where he wanted to go. 

The immunity of Members of Parliament from being arrested for debt had something to do with it too.

With information from the book and some that I found online, I have enough relevant and inspiring material for another article or two about this fascinating man.

Paving the way for the great destiny to come
Benjamin Disraeli’s father Isaac (D’Israeli) had all of his children baptised into the Church of England, although he himself never abandoned Judaism. Benjamin was 12 years old when Isaac took this unusual step, which was fortunate for him as otherwise he would never have been able to have a political career.

Predictions of the great destiny to come
I was amused to learn that Disraeli played Parliament games with his siblings as a boy. He was Prime Minister and the others were the Opposition.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cults & causes: Alexander Herzen nailed it perfectly

This quote deserves to be publicized worldwide.

When I first came across it, I had never heard of Alexander Herzen. 

He died in 1870 but these wise words are still very relevant today. They resonate very strongly with me. They are independent confirmation of my own ideas and experiences. They are spot on.

For Herzen, one of the greatest of sins that any human being can perpetrate is to seek to transfer moral responsibility from his own shoulders to those of an unpredictable future order, and, in the name of something which may never happen, perpetrate crimes today which no one would deny to be monstrous if they were performed for some egoistic purpose, and do not seem so only because they are sanctified by faith in some remote and intangible Utopia.“

Said by Sir Isaiah Berlin of Alexander Herzen, Russian writer, novelist, philosopher, teacher and political agitator.

It is uncanny how much of the bad behavior and sinister practices to be found in cults and cult-like organizations today are covered by views expressed by Alexander Herzen over 150 years ago.

Yes, people do commit terrible crimes in the name of the cause.

Yes, it is always some glorious end in the future that justifies the cheating, lying, deprivation, cruelty, abdication of responsibilities and commitments and other crimes in the present.

Yes, people who would never do something – cheating people out of money for example – for their own personal benefit, will do it in the name of the cause, in the name of Jesus and the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, in the name of freedom and democracy in the future.

And yes, very often the end never comes, so the crimes and sacrifices were all for nothing.

I have seen all this for myself.

I wonder what Alexander Herzen experienced to make him hold those views.

I wonder how much of what he condemned was committed by him and his friends in the name of socialism and revolution that would bring about a better future.

Alexander Herzen:




Sunday, July 23, 2017

Rudyard Kipling and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

While reading about the lives of Rudyard Kipling and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I noticed that they had a few elements in common in addition to having lived in Southsea.

Artistic fathers
Both men had fathers who illustrated their books.

Conan Doyle’s father Charles Altamont Doyle was one of the first artists to depict Sherlock Holmes. His drawings were used for the 1888 edition of A Study in Scarlet.

John Lockwood Kipling illustrated his son’s Jungle Books.

Here is an example of each man’s work:


Sherlock Holmes is the tall man in the middle. I much prefer Sidney Paget’s depiction of the great detective!


Bereaved wives
Both Rudyard Kipling and Conan Doyle married women they met through the women’s brothers, brothers who both died young.

Conan Doyle met fellow Southsea resident Louise Hawkins when her brother Jack became a patient of his. He took the young man into his care at his house in Elm Grove, but the patient soon died. He was only 25 years old. Dr Doyle and Louise soon became engaged and then married. Unfortunately, she too died young and Conan Doyle remarried.

Rudyard Kipling met American-born Caroline Starr Balestier when her brother Wolcott, a writer and publisher who wrote a book jointly with Kipling, introduced her to his famous friend. Wolcott died two years later at the age of 29, and Kipling proposed to Caroline soon afterwards.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Benjamin Disraeli and some more unseen influences

Benjamin Disraeli the eminent Victorian, the prime minister of what was at the time the greatest power on earth, the statesman and superb orator who was also a novelist, essayist and supreme letter writer, has been extensively studied and written about.

I can’t compete with or add anything to the coverage of many aspects of his life, his brilliant political career in particular, but in any case my main interest is in the unseen influences that I believe were operating behind the scenes.

Curses, cursing and convenient deaths
I have already written about some deaths that were very convenient for Mr Disraeli. I have just read something in a review of the biography Disraeli: a Personal History by Christopher Hibbert
that gives further support to my suspicions:

"There was a streak of icy vengefulness in his temperament; even as a young man he had written down and filed away the names of those who crossed him. 'Something usually happens to them.'"

So Disraeli had a little list! So it was not only innocent people who happened to be in his way who suffered the consequences of his feelings towards them. So in the case of his enemies, the ill-wishing was deliberate.

This discovery has made me want to do a full investigation.

In the meantime, a little research exercise has found some familiar features.  It seems to me that his unsatisfactory (to Disraeli) starting position in life, his inordinate ambition combined with his creative personality and the setbacks he experienced made him someone who might well have attracted the attention of whatever it is that operates below the surface in the lives of selected people.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Arthur Conan Doyle’s witch Helen Penclosa: Part V

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short novel The Parasite has inspired a series of articles, of which this is the last.

It is being published today to mark the 87th anniversary of Conan Doyle’s death: he died on this day, July 7th, in 1930. 

Although I had never even heard of The Parasite until a few weeks ago, many elements of the story seem very familiar. They have activated memories of things I have read in other books or experienced for myself; I have featured some of them in previous articles. Here are some connections that I have noticed:

The Parasite and John Buchan
The Parasite reminds me a little of John Buchan’s story The Gap in the Curtain, in which people are trained to use the latent powers of their minds.

The volunteers are selected for their sensitive nervous systems and inability to cope well with the normal, physical world. This partly matches what Austin Gilroy says about himself: he calls himself a highly psychic, sensitive man.

The volunteers in The Gap in the Curtain are very different from Agatha Marden, whom Helen Penclosa successfully hypnotises as a demonstration of her power to control healthy, well-balanced people.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Arthur Conan Doyle’s witch Helen Penclosa: Part IV

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Parasite has inspired a series of articles. Part III described Helen Penclosa and her activities in detail. So what more is there to say about this sinister little story? There are still a few features to be highlighted, points to be made and warnings to be repeated.

Going into reverse
One feature in this and other examples of people ignoring red flags and getting carried away by exciting visions of the future is that not only do many of them not get what they want, but it all goes horribly wrong, into reverse even, and they find themselves in a much worse situation. Their ambition, scientific curiosity, gullibility, greed, arrogance, over-estimation of their powers, strength and resistance … whatever the cause of their involvement with negative metaphysical forces, they are lead to disaster.

Austin Gilroy gets the exact opposite of what he hoped for. He foresees a glorious future for himself; he thinks that his forthcoming paper on hypnotism might even get him made a Fellow of the Royal Society.  This will make Agatha accept that the game is worth the candle!  Unfortunately, it all backfires.

Instead of achieving further academic success, he loses his professorship. Instead of feeling respect and admiration for him, Agatha feels concern because he looks so worried, worn and ill.