Page:Modern Parliamentary Eloquence.djvu/37

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29
Modern Parliamentary Eloquence

War in December, 1878, and I recall the peroration in which, raising his hollow voice and waving his hand, he called upon his hearers to brand the Peace at any Price doctrines—"these dogmas, these deleterious dogmas, with the reprobation of the Peers of England." When he left the House for the division the Peers waited while he walked out alone at the head of his party. He also came back alone at the head of the procession and took his solitary place on the bench; and, when a young and frisky Peer who had dined somewhat too well went up in a genial mood to have a word with his leader, and almost sat down on the top of him, from the steps of the throne I could hear the startled statesman emit, with what he himself once styled a superb groan, the sepulchral ejaculation "My dear Lord!"

His phrases.It is evident that Disraeli's phrases were carefully prepared and committed to memory, whether delivered from the platform or in the House. He was in truth a rhetorician rather than an orator, an actor in the guise of a politician. It was as a phrasemonger that his greatest rhetorical triumphs were won: organised hypocrisy; plundering and blundering; England does not love coalitions; tea-kettle precedents; sanitas sanitatum; juvenile and curly; mass in masquerade; on the side of the angels; Batavian grace; peace with honour; imperium et libertas; the key of India is London. All of these are taken from his speeches; his novels contain a thousand other illustrations.

His manner and dress.In earlier days Disraeli wore the fanciful dress of the dandy of the period, and his gestures were in harmony with his costume. He would pull down his waistcoat, put his hands in his pockets and hook his fingers in his armholes, while speaking. I once as a boy saw him in the House of Commons dressed in a black velvet coat and check trousers, an almost incredible garb for a modern Prime Minister. It was in a black velvet shooting coat and a wide-awake hat that he strolled into the Sheldonian Theatre at Oxford in 1874 and informed the astonished