Chapter 11: Political Gain..., 1868-73

Vivian Grey Sent For!!!

Item 121
'Vivian Grey "Sent For!!!"'
Cartoon from Fun, 7 March 1868, NS, 6, p. 267
N. 2706 d. 13

On receiving Derby's resignation, the Queen sent for Disraeli. She had long made it known to Disraeli her intention 'to make him her First Minister' - something he only 'could wish and hope for' (W.F. Monypenny and G.E. Buckle, The Life of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, Vol. IV (London, 1916), pp. 586-7). In a curious twist of fate the bearer of this message was General Charles Grey (1804-1870) - then private secretary to Queen Victoria, who thirty-six years earlier at Wycombe had defeated Disraeli when he first stood for parliament (see Item 33). Still, Disraeli evoked scant enthusiasm amongst his own party. If his emergence as leader of the Commons had come by default, his subsequent courage and dazzling talent made Disraeli the only credible heir to Derby - on whose protection he had often depended. His accession was met with knowing contempt in Fun. Here Henry E. Doyle - 'Hen' (1827-1892), son of the eminent caricaturist John Doyle - 'H.B.' (1797-1868) (see Items 56 and 69), satirises Disraeli's rise as that of his fictionalised self, 'Vivian Grey'. Just as it had in 1846, Vivian's prophecy had again been realised (see Item 16). As Disraeli climbs the steps at Osborne, Doyle bestows on his subject a mixed expression - part roughish; part reverent; part reflective.

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