Description: As Matthew Arnold saw the philosophies of the classical ancients as touchstones for evaluating the new political and social philosophies of his own time, Arnold himself has served as a "touchstone" for historians who must evaluate the political and social events of the Victorian Age. Arnold made many comments about the three great Prime Ministers of his time: Lord Palmerston, Benjamin Disraeli, and William E. Gladstone, and about the policies of their respective administrations. Arnold's point of view toward these men is reflected in personal letters to members of his family and in his most significant political works, Culture and Anarchy and Friendship's Garland. In the study that follows, these selections are examined in terms of the three Prime Ministers. Chapter I is an introduction to Arnold's political philosophy and an account of Arnold's comments about Disraeli, for of the three, Arnold had the least to say about Disraeli. Arnold dwells almost exclusively on differences he has with the government, and he found less to disagree with in Disraeli's policies than with the others. Arnold's reactions to Disraeli were more personal in nature than political. Chapter II deals with Lord Palmerston's administration and with key events and people associated with it. Chapter III deals more specifically with Culture and Anarchy and with political and social events that served as a background for Arnold's commentary. Finally, Chapter IV concentrates on the Gladstone years, concluding with Arnold's assessment of the Liberal party and its leader in "The Nadir of Liberalism."
Date: December 1973
Creator: Everhard, Susan Bussard