Disraeli’s difficulties lay in the fact both Whigs and Tories distrusted him. He was too individualistic to subscribe to any political program. He disliked the Whigs who had substituted a selfish oligarchy for government while the Tories were on a nosedive loosened from traditions, as leaders of the people and supporter of the monarch. To regain this historical position would sum up his own work for the next half a century.
No one in 1830’s could have guessed that it was feasible, still less that the flashy young Jew would be the motive force behind the Tories. In 1834 Lord Melbourne then Home Secretary met Disraeli in one of the parties. Attracted by his conversation he asked what was his aim. “I want to be the Prime Minister,”replied Disraeli gravely. Melbourne with a weary sigh explained the utter impossibility of such an achievement. He ended with,”You must put all these foolish notions out of your head. This won’t do at all.”
Melbourne when towards the close of ’48 just before his death, heard that Disraeli was to be the leader in the Commons he exclaimed,”By God the fellow will do it, yet.”
Viscount Palmerston, war secretary under many prime ministers was a man of great personal charm and exceptional abilities, perhaps the only member of the House whose brain, Disraeli respected. He was a Lothario and his many amatory adventures were no secret. He stood for many years in the way of Disraeli’s ambitions from achieving their fruition. One of Dizzy’s supporters before an election had collected evidence of a furtive love affair publication of which he was certain would discredit his adversary. Disraeli refused.”Palmerston is now seventy. If he could provide evidence of his potency in his electoral address he would sweep the country,” was his reason.
Like many people who were not native but made England home he was fond of England and the English way of life. However his acute intelligence and robust imagination elicited responses which were so different from that of an Englishman. He loved meeting people from various walks of life especially during political meetings and exchange pleasantries. His opponents seldom missed an opportunity of heckling him.
In delivering a speech he would invariably began slowly and quietly.”Speak up! I can’t hear you!”shouted someone at a Newpost Pagnell meeting in Dec,49. Back came the answer,’Truth travels slowly, but it will reach you in time.’
To one heckler, with whom he was on familiar terms, who called out,’Speak quick!’ he replied,”It is very easy for you to speak quick when you only utter stupid monosyllables.” He added,”But when I speak I must measure my words; I have to open your great thick head. What I say is to enlighten you. If I bawled like you, you would leave this place as great a fool as you entered it.”
Sometimes political hostility took on more personal forms. One jibed at him that his wife had picked him out of the gutter. His reply was a model of incisive wit delivered in his customary cool and unflappable composure. Dizzy replied,”My dear fellow, if you were in the gutter nobody would pick you out”.
His power of ridicule when given a cause was superb and he could floor anyone whether in the House or outside with a verbal thrust. By nature he was genial and never went out to aggravate the feeling of those whom he disliked. Once in the House he chose to ignore a vicious attack of one whom despised with an excuse, ”I have given him the mercy of my silence.”