This passage appears in the author's Modern Leaders: Beings a Series of Biographical Sketches, which Sheldon & Company (N.Y.) published in 1872. Scanning, basic HTML conversion, and proofreading were carried out by George P. Landow, who made links to materials in VW and divided the following text into two paragraphs.

decorated initial 'T'he Earl of Derby is in one sense a highly accomplished man. He is a good classical scholar, and can make a speech in Latin. He has produced some very spirited translations from Horace; and I like his version of the Iliad better on the whole than any other I know. He is a splendid debater — Macaulay said very truly that with Lord Derby the science of debate was an instinct. He will roll out resonant, rotund, verbose sentences by the hour, by the yard; he is great at making hits and points; he has immense power of reply and repartee — of a certain easy and obvious kind; his voice is fine, his manner is noble, his invective is powerful. But he has no ideas. The light he throws out is a polarized light. He adds nothing new to the political thought of the age. I have heard many of his finest speeches; and I can remember that they were then very telling, in a Parliamentary point of view; but I cannot remember anything he said. He is always interpreting into eloquent and effective words the commonplace Philistine notions, the hereditary conventionalities of his party — and nothing more. His mind is not open to new impressions, and he is not able to appreciate the cause, the purpose or the tendency of change. This I hold to be the essential characteristic of stupidity; and this is an attribute of Lord Derby, with all his Greek, his Latin, his impetuous rhetoric, his debating skill and his audacious blunders, which sometimes almost deceive one into thinking him a man of genius.

Now the Earl of Derby is the greatest Tory living; and if I have fairly described the highest type of Tory, one can easily form some conception of what the average Tory must be. Every one likes Lord Derby, and I fully believe it to be the fact that those who know him best like him best. I cannot imagine Lord Derby doing a mean thing; I cannot imagine him haughty to a poor man, or patronizingly offensive to a timid visitor of humble birth. Look at Lord Derby through the wrong end of the intellectual telescope and you have the average British Tory. The Tory's knowledge is confined to classics and field sports — when he knows anything. Even Lord Derby has been guilty of the most flagrant mistakes in geography and modern history. People are never tired of alluding to a famous blunder of his about Tambov in Russia. It is also told of him that he once spoke in Parliament of Demerara as an island; and when one of his colleagues afterward remonstrated with him on the mistake, he asked with ingenuousness and naiveté "How on earth was I to know that Demerara was not an island?" He once, at a public meeting, spoke of himself very frankly as having been born "in the pre-scientific period" — the period but too recently closed, when English Universities and high class schools troubled themselves only about Greek and Latin, and thought it beneath their dignity to show much interest in such vulgar, practical studies as chemistry and natural history, to say nothing of that ungentlemanly and ungenerous study, the science of political economy. The average British Tory is a Lord Derby without eloquence, brains, official habits and political experience. [127]

Related Material


McCarthy, Justin. "English Roryism an Its Leaders." Modern Leaders: Being a Series of Biographical Sketches. N. Y.: Sheldon & Company, 1872. Pp. 126-35.

Last modified 3 May 2007