Let’s distract ourselves then with a story about a widow. The year is 1838 in London, England. Mary Anne Lewis, a plain woman, who often scandalized people with her uninhibited comments, ditsy remarks, outlandish furniture, and bizarre clothing choices.
Her husband, Wyndham Lewis, a member of the House of Commons, died when she was 45. He left her a small fortune and a large home in London, making her attractive to fortune hunters.
In steps Benjamin Disraeli, in his late 30’s, and in need of an infusion of cash to grease his political ambitions after his benefactor, Wyndham Lewis died.
When Disraeli first approached Mary Anne, he was unimpressed by anything but her fortune. She was twelve years his senior, by that time in her early 50’s. But something about his manner caught her attention.
When he asked her to marry him, she knew he didn’t love her. And asked they wait one year so she could gauge his character and disposition. She was far more shrewd than anyone credited her. At the end of the year she agreed to marry him.
While she may not have known which came first, “the Greeks or the Romans,” she understood the most important thing in marriage—the art of handling men.
Mary Anne adored her husband. Her frivolous patter when he came home at night helped him to relax, and in turn, home became his haven. She helped him edit the books he wrote—some were romance novels, listened to his daily news from parliament, became his helpmate, confidant, advisor.
Whatever he undertook, Mary Anne did not believe he could fail.
With the decay of the Ottoman Empire and the incursion by the Russians and other countries to take over the region, Disraeli arranged for Britain to purchase a portion of the Suez Canal Company in Ottoman-controlled Egypt. When he made terms favorable to England at the Congress of Berlin to maintain peace in the Balkans, Russia’s political power weakened—the move made Disraeli a top statesman in Europe.
He rose from the House of Commons to Prime Minister of England during the reign of Queen Victoria.
Queen Victoria, one of Disraeli’s close friends, wanted to ennoble him. He did not want to leave the House of Commons, so Mary Anne was raised to the Viscountess of Beaconsfield. (Hmm, fields of bacon, oh wait that’s beacons.) After her passing, he accepted the title, which was retired upon his death. At least we still have beacons.
Disraeli was Mary Anne’s staunchest supporter. No one dared insult her within his hearing because he would defend her passionately.
He used to joke with his wife saying he had only married her for her money. To which Mary Anne would always reply, “But if you had to do it again, you’d do it for love.”
They were happily married thirty years until the time of her death. I’m sure the romance novels probably helped.
In the words of author Leland Foster Wood, “Success in marriage is much more than a matter of finding the right person; it is also a matter of being the right person.”