He was, moreover, an Imperialist and a Colonial Federationist at a time when Liberalism was tied and bound to the Manchester traditions; and, to the consternation of, the official wire-pullers, he vigorously supported Disraeli's foreign policy, and in 1881 opposed the Gladstonian settlement with the Boers.
Wagner's choice of subjects had from the outset shown an imagination far above that of any earlier librettist; yet he had begun with stories which could attract ordinary minds, as he dismally realized when the libretto of Der fliegende Hollander so pleased the Parisian wire-pullers that it was promptly set to music by one of their friends.
Pullers appear to renounce pulling, refusers take to jumping and clumsy horses become nearly as handy as a trick horse in a circus.
The political as well as the administrative life of the country was absolutely in the hands of the wire-pullers in Madrid; and their local agents, the governors, the mayors and the electoral potentates styled los Caciques, were all creatures of the minister of the interior at the head of Castilian centralization.
For a century politics in Spain had been a game, played by professionals, between the ins and outs; victory or defeat at the polls depended less on any intelligent popular judgment on the questions at issue than on the passing interests of the wire-pullers and bosses (Caciques) who worked the electoral machinery.