Living the legend
Letter from Disraeli to his sister, Sarah, 1831
Dep. Hughenden 5/1, fols. 2r-3r
From Spain Meredith and Disraeli progressed to Malta. Here they met their mutual (and then disreputable) friend James Clay (d. 1873) whose support as a Radical MP for the 1867 Reform Bill would later be crucial to Disraeli, and Tita, Byron's former servant now in his employ. They continued on to Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, the Holy Land and Egypt. Disraeli's imagination, his sexuality and sensuality were given full rein. Orientialism attracted him. He identified with the Grand Vizier's cause against the 'rebels' in Albania (whereas Byron had opposed the Turks in Greece), donned Turkish clothes and a la Turque. He rhapsodised over Constantinople (visited by Byron 1810-11) and the Holy Land. Meredith left his companions in December to travel alone, their reunion in Egypt ending tragically when Meredith died from Smallpox in July. In this letter Disraeli writes to Sarah describing Meredith's death and, characteristically, re-directs any spare affection towards himself 'If I cannot be to you all of our lost friend, at least we will feel, that Life can never be a blank while illumined by the pure & perfect love of a Sister & a Brother'.
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