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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

II. Historians, Biographers and Political Orators

§ 80. Edward Stanley, fourteenth earl of Derby

During the long period of waiting which followed after Peel had broken up the party, the conservatives were under the leadership of Stanley, with lord George Bentinck (who died in 1848) and Disraeli as his lieutenants in the house of commons. Edward Stanley—lord Stanley from 1834, and (fourteenth earl of Derby from 1851—had, after distinguishing himself at Oxford, begun his political life as a whig, and, in the Reform bill debates, opposed Peel, and put down Croker in a most successful speech (1831); but he separated from that party in 1833, and became a supporter of Peel, whose Irish policy he championed with great spirit against O’Connell. He twice filled the office of prime-minister, but was in opposition during most of his later political life. Though far from reckless in the guidance of the counsels of his party, as a speaker, the “Rupert of debate,” as Bulwer Lytton called him in The New Timon, was, beyond doubt, one of the most splendid, as he was one of the most impetuous, foemen in the field. His oratory was, however, under the control of a well-trained taste, and free from the artifices of rhetoric. While his vivacity caused him, at sixty, to be thought one of the cleverest young men in parliament, he was occasionally accused of a levity of tone recalling other contests than those of the political arena. The earl of Derby’s colleague, the earl of Ellenborough, remained one of the foremost orators of the house of lords, even after he had resigned the presidency of the board of control in 1858. He was a man of brilliant gifts; but his oratory reflects the masterfulness of disposition which he had most prominently displayed as governor-general of India.