“Inebriated with the Exuberance of His Own Verbosity”

Elegant verbal wit is highly entertaining, so long as one is not being skewered by it. I lack the erudition to either affirm or refute the accuracy of Benjamin Disraeli’s wonderful description of rival William Gladstone:

A sophistical rhetorician, inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity, and gifted with an egotistical imagination that can at all times command an interminable and inconsistent series of arguments to malign an opponent and to glorify himself.

Source: I first heard part of this description quoted by Patrick Allitt in a lecture on Gladstone and Disraeli. I found the quotation, as well as the attribution below, online at:

Attribution: Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), British statesman, author. Speech, July 27, 1878, Knightsbridge, London. Quoted in Times (London, July 29, 1878). Referring to Prime Minister Gladstone. On another occasion, Disraeli said of Gladstone, “He has not a single redeeming defect.”

(Note: I thank Phil Copson for pointing out that in my original posting, I erred in reversing the a and the e in Disraeli’s name. I have now corrected the error.)

14 thoughts on ““Inebriated with the Exuberance of His Own Verbosity””

  1. My dad told me about this quote at least 60 years ago. I am happy to see it still has force in this modern age.

  2. Anyone remember “lines” at school in 1950’s/60’s. Are they still given by teachers today?
    One of my teachers had a great “line” given for talking in class; “The exuberance of my verbosity overcame my discretion”.
    He had an even longer one for bad behaviour; “There is nothing more distressing to a well regulated mind, than to see a small person disporting themselves at improper moments”. Write that 50 times and it is committed to memory even 60 down the line. I should know!

  3. At junior school in the late 50s one of my friends quoted his uncle as saying about an acquaintance the he was “intoxicated with the exuberance of his velocity” – and wouldn’t budge when I corrected him.
    Thinking about it now having chatted to my 15yo changeling child about lots of different things that maybe the uncle’s pal had a motorbike. Who knows?

  4. Was used commonly in our History class in the 60s at Kabalega Seconary School, Uganda, East Africa.

  5. My high school speech teacher– dear Mr. Bottiglia– first introduced me to this quote in 1971 or ’72. I’ve pondered it over the years: He became “intoxicated by the exuberance of his verbocity.” It’s a lovely quote that has offered several occasions for application over the years as i have encountered many windbags along the way. Undoubtedly, i am probably on someone’s list as well.

  6. I used this quote when being confronted by a Neanderthal character . I then walked passed him and out of the door. He is probably still standing there.

  7. At my Jesuit school, Beaumont College, there was a “line”, supposedly eight words, for those told to write lines, which changed weekly. One week Father Ezechiel, a public school master of more than usual snobbery and ebullience, posted this as the line: “A sophisticated rhetorician with an egotistical imagnination, inebriated by the exuberance of his own verbosity, who had at all times at his command innumerable and inconsistent arguments wherewith to malign his oppponents and to glorify himself.” That is the only thing Father Ezechiel ever tauight me, but it stuck; I am now 77.

  8. Hmm – pity that Mr Diamond didn’t learn how to spell his hero’s name before posting this: It’s “Disraeli” – not “Disreali”…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *