Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

forefathers had cherished. So he would | lights, and had rehearsed a career. He have the nation touched to finer issues was intoxicated with youth, with genius, he would appeal to the imagination, the with the memories of the past that were loyalty, the religion, the venerable tradi- round about him, with his own vivid sense tions, the obedient valor of a great race: of the future that was in store for him. and, drawing assurance from the past, What a life! - passion and poetry temwould seek security for the future. This pered by epigram; but scarcely a fit was Disraeli's conception of the new preparation for a seat on a back bench of cruşade, which he and his friends were the House of Commons, or for a steadyto undertake ; and which, of course, could going hack in official harness. only be worked out in this country 2. But, if he naturally gravitated to the through a Parliamentary career. It was Tories, as the only possible party to which necessary, therefore, that he should attach he could ally himself, it must have been himself to one of the great political par. clear from the first that any cordial allities; and, on the whole, even on the ance between Sir Robert Peel and this showing of their opponents, the high brilliant dreamer was out of the question. spirit of the English of Agincourt and It has been said that he was willing the Armada was best represented by the enough to serve under Peel, '— which is party which, within living memory; had probably true enough. He knew the conbeen led by Canning and by Pitt. ditions of public life in England, and

Now, if we keep this key-note steadily would have worked with Peel as with before us, I do not think that we shall others. But it would have been against find much difficulty in disposing of most the grain; for the antagonism between of the worst charges that have been the two men was vital. Disraeli was, in brought against Mr. Disraeli.

certain moods, as much a Bohemian as 1. The youthful affinity with Radical. Heine; and Peel was a Philistine of the ism may, on one side, as he has pointed Philistines. The rupture between the out in the letter already quoted, be traced timid Harley and the daring Bolingbroke to his antipathy to the Whigs. To the was, in the nature of things, not more hard, dry, unimaginative Whigs he had inevitable. Sooner or later, it must have no doubt a mortal dislike. Their solemn been war to the knife. How was agreefumbling with difficult questions. had the ment possible between the pure naked same effect on him that the “somject” intellectual force of Disraeli and the timid and “omject” of poor old Coleridge had empiricism of Sir Robert? And Disraeli on Carlyle. The Whig nobles were to his had his special grievance Sir Robert mind a modern edition of the Venetian had infected the party which he led with oligarchy in its decline, and their concep- his own timidity: That party, as we have tions of the scope of national life were as seen, was identified with the high spirit bare, meagre, and barren. Nor to youth and the masterful traditions of England; ful enthusiasm does the civitas Dei, but, under the manipulation of Peel, it had which Radicalism seeks to reach, appear come to be only a weak reflection of the so hopelessly far away; it is later in life faction which it opposed. It resisted that we discover that the holy city is far change; but only in a deprecatory, halfless accessible than we had fancied. But hearted way. It could not deny that it is pretty clear that the moment Disraeli Catholic Emancipation, Reform, Irish found out what economical Radicalism Disestablisiment, were all good things in meant, as embodied in the persons of their way -- though not to be had just yet, Joseph Hume and his friends, he beat a or until the pressure was a little more speedy retreat from their camp. That, at severe. It was thus a negation of policy all events, was not Jerusalem.

a sort of humdrum hocus-pocus in It is not at all surprising, indeed, look, which the order of the day was moved to ing to his early schooling, or lack of take in a nation.” The merciless severity schooling, tliat his first essays in practical of the attack on Sir Robert has been often politics should have been somewhat reprobated; but, after all, it proceeded on erratic. He was hardly a child of our pro-intellectual and not on personal lines. It saic England, - either by temperament was the intellectual poverty of the policy or by training. The public school and which roused his scorn. A statesman ? the university knew bim not. Sole sit- - why, a statesman was a man who con. ting by the shores of old romance at nected himself with some great idea, not Venice, at Damascus, on the plain of a man who trimmed his course according Troy, in the desert – he had worked out to the weather. Such a man was as much the puzzles of life according to his own a great statesman as the man who got up

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

behind a carriage was a great whip. In more, had misread the lessons of history: all the dreary pages of Sir Robert's inter- Nations do not live on bread alone, and minable talk reported in “ Hansard,” there the politicians who proclaimed that matewas not a single happy expression, nor a rial prosperity was better worth living for single original thought - his whole life, than heroic ideas were sapping the springs indeed, had been one great appropriation of national greatness. "I see no reason clause. And now, he had found the why you, too, should not fade like the Whigs bathing, and had run away with Tyrian dye, and moulder like the Venetheir clothes ! Then look at his Parlia- tian palaces.” mentary tactics. Whenever he had a big 4. That Mr. Disraeli should, by the measure to introduce, he was sure to rest Reform Bill of 1867, have introduced it on the smallest precedents; he was household suffrage, is sometimes considalways tracing the steam-engine back to ered the crowning proof of his want of the tea-kettle; in fact, all his precedents principle. We have seen that there was were “tea-kettle” precedents. Of course no particular reason why Reform should the charge of betraying his friends was be considered the exclusive preserve of urged more than once; but even Sir Rob. the Whigs. Nor was there any reason eri's warmest admirers could not deny why the Tory party in 1867 should have that he bad deserted his party. Like the been anxious to abide by the tentative Turkish admiral, who after being em- settlement of 1832. That settlement had braced by the sultan and prayed for by given the government to their rivals ; the muftis, he had steered his feet during the thirty-five years that had straight into the enemy's port. The Turk- elapsed they had not been in office for ish admiral, to be sure, had been much seven. Many of the ablest of the party, misunderstood and misrepresented. He, moreover, had objected to Reform, not too, bad been called a traitor. But he vin. on grounds of principle, but because they dicated bis conduct. He said: “True it held that a continual tinkering, an annual is, I did place myself at the head of this disturbance of the Constitution was invaliant armada true that my sovereign convenient and dangerous. These men embraced me, and that all the muftis in had maintained that, in the mean time, the the kingdom prayed for the success of the suffrage should be left untouched, but that expedition. But I had an objection to when a change became inevitable, it was war; I saw no use in prolonging the for the interest of the nation that a permastruggle ; and the only reason for my ac-nent settlement should be effected; and cepting the leadership was, that I might at any figure below household suffrage terminate the contest by betraying my they found no principle of permanence. master.” This is pungent and incisive Nor can it be denied that throughout his criticism no doubt; but does it exceed the whole political career Mr. Disraeli had license of fair Parliamentary invective? held this view. He held that the settleSir Robert was wounded to the quick: he ment of 1832 was a Whig settlement; that winced visibly under the attacks, and it had swept away the early popular franspoke of them“ in moments too testy for chises; that the old alliance between the so great a man to indulge in.” But the country party and the people should, if scorn was perfectly genuine; the satire possible, be restored. "If the Tory party though direct and cutting, was entirely is not a national party, it is nothing." All impersonal; and the mute reproach of a this is on record ; and the reader who will party which felt that it had been betrayed turn to the debates on the first Reform was sure to find expression sooner or Bill will find that Sir Robert Peel, in later. Si tu oblitus es, at Dii memine- somewhat different words, had even then runt, meminit Fides. But it was certainly said the same thing. Neither the leaders unlucky for Sir Robert that the greatest nor the party they led can, in this view, master of irony in our tongue should have be fairly accused of immorality when, in been in Parliament at the time.

1867, perceiving that Reform had become 3. What has been already said will ex- a State necessity, they boldly determined plain the attitude of Mr. Disraeli to the to settle the question for a generation doctrines of the Manchester economists. at least. The time had come when a Free trade might or might not be in ac. calculated rashness, an intrepid and gencordance with the immutable laws which erous confidence, constituted the truest govern the universe; but it was quite prudence. clear to his mind that a school which But to Mr. Disraeli such a change was ostentatiously aspired to make England acceptable on other grounds. The stolid the market-place of the world, and nothing ten-pounder, in whom the franchise had

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

been vested, was of all classes in the parson in such communities was nothing country the least accessible to ideas. more than an Irish or English gentleman There might be danger in the “leap in - better educated, less fanatical, more the dark ; but, to leave the future of the liberal-handed than his neighbors; and country in the hands of men who present the “Protestant ascendancy” meant only (in Mr. Arnold's words) “a defective type the natural ascendancy of skill and enof religion, a narrow range of intellect ergy and intelligence over ignorance and and knowledge, a stunted sense of beauty, indolence and superstition — the inevitaand a low standard of manners,” was cer- ble ascendancy of strong, sensible, Godtain death. If it be true that political fearing men. At the same time the Cathinstitutions rest on national character, an olic Church itself was another bulwark institution resting on a character like that against the anarchy of barbarism ; and its was obviously in a very hopeless condi- ministers should have been attached to tion. It is possible that Mr. Disraeli, the State by the ties of interest and gratiwith his immense conviction of the im- tude. “So, also, I looked then, as I look portance of character to a nation, may now, to a reconciliation between the Tory have entertained an undue contempt for party and the Roman Catholic subjects the working machinery of the Constitu- of the queen. I have never 'relinquished tion. Political arrangements and con. my purpose, and have now, I hope, nearly trivances were valuable in his eyes only accomplished it.” It is a thousand pities in so far as they enabled the classes that he failed. For the rest, he would which were most accessible to the idea have sent a “lord high deputy” across of national greatness to wield political the Channel with “ full powers,” and inpower. In this sense he was the most structions to give every man justice, and radical of our statesmen; a £10 fran- justice only, — justice meted out with inchise, a £ 5 franchise, household suffrage, exorable impartiality, — justice that cormanhood suffrage - what did it matter, dially encouraged virtue, sobriety, indus

so long as the end was attained ?

try, thrift, — justice that sternly repressed 5. It has been said, indeed, that his mendacity, anarchy, self-indulgence. policy towards Ireland was exceptionally 6. The foreign policy of Lord Beaconsfeeble and colorless. On the contrary, field between 1876 and 1880 was, in point it seems to me to have been the only of fact, the realization on a great scale of policy that of late years has had any all his previous teaching. England had chance of success. We have been gov- been effaced in Continental Europe; she erning Ireland for some time according was again to speak with the voice of to “Irish ideas," and we are beginning to Chatham and of Pitt. The stimulating reap what we have sown. A very plen- inspiration of imperial duties and impetiful barvest of " Irish ideas” is now in rial responsibilities was again to appeal the market. But according to Mr. Dis to the conscience of the people. raeli's view, Ireland was an imperfectly That Mr. Disraeli was “un-English civilized country, in which every gerin was the monotonous refrain of Mr. Grantof civilization needed to be vigilantly Duff's vacation soliloquies. “Mr. Disguarded. “What always strikes me as a raeli is an Englishman because he will, general principle with regard to Ireland not because he must. His outer life is is, that you should create and not de identified with, ours, but his inner life stroy". The logic of Lord Macaulay on belongs to another race and to another the Irish Church question, for instance, history. All English politics are to him might be absolutely unanswerable; but only a game." But, seriously speaking, there were deeper issues involved than the kind of talk which makes Mr. Disraeli logic would solve. If we destroyed the a sort of Bedouin sheik who has just Irish Church, we destroyed an organiza- stepped out of the desert into our draw. tion which not only restrained the fanati-ing-rooms, scarcely deserves the name of cism, but stimulated the culture, of an criticism. The critic who fancies that a imperfectly developed society. “Reli- man whose father and grandfather were gious equality” was a plausible, if am- Englislı citizens cannot be an Englishman biguous, watchword; but religious equality because he has a dash of alien blood in in Ireland meant religious intemperance, his veins, must know little of ethnology. religious anarchy, religious riot. The It is possible, indeed, that such a man Irish Church, from the peculiarities of its may not be so insular in his prejudices as position, had become in many districts a Cumberland squire. He is by race, persimply a lay institution devoted to char- haps, more a citizen of the world. But it itable and unsectarian purposes. The is clear, looking to his whole career, that

[ocr errors]
[graphic]

of a

MATTIE:

THE HISTORY OF AN EVENING.

Mr. Disraeli was inspired throughout by ple of our race, " where kings and poets a sense of the greatness of England; that lie," ought not to have been entertained. the spectacle of this famous, historical The nice susceptibilities of Mr. Labouworld-wide dominion fascinated his imag-chere and his friends below the gangway ination ; and that, in his foreign as in his should have been consulted. Well, it domestic policy, he was animated by no does not much matter to us, or to him. mean or unworthy ambition, but by the He has a more lasting monument in the profound conviction that he was adding heart of England; and the memory to her security and her renown.

great career will outlive the bronze and The imperial and the parochial types marble of the Abbey. of character have always been sharply His voice is silent in your council-hall opposed; and, in the mean time, the for- Forever; and, whatever tempests lour, mer is under a cloud. The policy of Forever silent; even if they broke “brag and bluster” has been succeeded In thunder, silent; yet remember all by one which is supposed to be better He spoke among you, and the man who spoke. adapted to the necessities of commerce. Whether the one or the other will best secure the ultimate well-being of the empire is a question that need not now be

From Blackwood's Magazine. discussed. The opinion of Europe, indeed, has been already expressed in no measured terms. “Brag and bluster!” said the Regierungsrath of Sauerkraut to A DULL and tiresome October afterme a year ago, as we were sailing up the noon was passing away in what was too Königsee: "Brag and bluster! And why plainly a fit of the sulks, to admit of hopes not? What is the good of appealing to a being entertained, even by the most san. polar bear in honeyed accents ? Brag guine, that it would have any pleasant or and bluster, indeed! Don't you see, mein inspiriting termination. guter Freund, that these were the only Wednesday is not the worst day in the arguments the barbarians could under week for events to happen upon. There stand ? If the clamor of vindictive phi.is no possible reason why a startling lanthropy had not drowned and discred-piece of news should not reach one's ear ited the plain speaking of your prime on a Wednesday – why a budget of interminister, the czar would have thought esting letters should not arrive by the once, twice, and thrice before he started post on a Wednesday — why an for Constantinople. To philander with pected turn of good fortune should not philanthropy may be a cheap amusement befall one on a Wednesday; but somein quiet times; but when a hundred thou how, upon this particular Wednesday, the sand lives are sacrificed to its cultivation, idea of anything occurring to break the it becomes a costly and poisonous luxury. monotony of its wearisomeness seemed The sinister forces with which he had to absolutely preposterous to one, at least, contend may have proved too strong for of the persons with whom we have to do, Lord Beaconsfield; foreign foes and do- - the mistress of Castle Cairntree, a mestic faction may have prevented him lonely mansion on the Scottish coast. from doing all that he designed; but in a Mrs. Boscawen was an invalid, who, whatgreat world-crisis he bore himself stead. ever she might have been in the bloom of fastly, patiently, strenuously, beroically; her youth and health, was, with shattered and he imparted his own spirit to En nerves and impaired temper, susceptive gland. And more than that, mein Herr, of every outward influence, more espeinuch more if your people had but known cially when it was of a depressing or irriit, your patriot minister, in his struggle tating nature. On the day in question with the barbarian, had all free Europe at she was so much tormented by the ceasebis back."

less drone of the wind, varied as it was So far the Regierungsrath of Sauer- merely by the rattle of the passing showkraut; but the Regierungsrath is only a ers which drifted from time to time overGerman Liberal, and not an English Rad- head, that by five o'clock she was only ical. The British Radical knows better; anxious to get rid of the remaining dayhis animosity to imperialism is unap- light, and try what closed shutters, large peased and unappeasable; and even in fires and candles could do towards restorthe grave his victions are not safe. At all ing the aspect of things around her to events, the proposal to erect a monument that comfort which aided so materially to Benjamin Disraeli in that historic tem- ber own cheerfulness.

unex

[ocr errors]
[graphic]
[ocr errors]

The notion of comfort was certainly face, and who betrayed by the varying somewhat at variance with the outward color in her cheek and by the nervous appearance of the thin grey tower with its clasping and unclasping of her hands, a modern wings, which, according to the certain anxiety and agitation which she fashion of the district, was dignified by was endeavoring otherwise to conceal. the appellation of “Castle.” There was Fortunately for the attempt she was not little of grandeur, still less of beauty, in exposed to the scrutiny of a keen obits appearance ; the site was poor, the server, for if Mattie's face had declared country around barren, — in short the what was passing in Mattie's bosom, it former laird, who had prided himself on would have been a sad piece of work. the handsome manner in which he had Mrs. Boscawen would have jumped off her restored and enlarged the old place, would sofa in surprise and bewilderment, and have done his successors better service the letter and all it contained But by razing it to the ground, and building never mind, let us confine ourselves to another in its stead. Draughty, trouble. what really did happen, and not fritter some, ill-constructed, however, as the away our time in idle conjectures. mansion was, it was endeared to its pres- The weather having been so depressent owner by association and possession; ing, and the day monotonous to both and consequently, by the aid of thick cur- mother and daughter, a little event out of tains, double doors, carpets, and endur- the common, a trifling incident of this. ance, bis wife contrived to exist, and even kind, was exactly the right thing, coming to be satisfied with her home. Her at the right time, and at the first brush standing grievance — namely, her being the parent appeared to be the more eager unable to accompany her daughters into of the two in discovering its nature; but society — did not perhaps embitter her no sooner had the contents of the note existence as much as she would fain have been mastered, and its object understood, had it supposed that it did. To lie on than she relapsed into her usual state of her sofa in the little sitting-room which nervous indecision and querulousness. was the one really luxurious apartment in " I wish Adelaide or julia were here,” the house, to keep herself warm in win- she said. So tiresome of them to be ter and cool in summer, to trifle with out just when they are wanted. I knew her needlework, and dabble amongst her something would be sure to happen when correspondence, with intervals of desul- they were out of the way. It always tory chit-chat as her husband and children does.” went in and out of the chamber, — this Her companion was silent. was the sort of routine which, to confess " What o'clock is it, Mattie ? " the truth, suited Mrs. Boscawen to a Nearly five, mamina.” hair's breadth; and it was scarcely more They will surely be here soon. But from necessity than from predilection that what is to be said ?' You see what your she had softly, and by gentle gradations, aunt wants - you to go there with the sunk into it.

rest to-night, and take Douglas's place at But then it was necessary to the pres- the dinner-table. I suppose you will have ervation of her spirits and general equa- to go. You would like to go?" nimity, that the machinery of the family “Yes, mamma.” and household should work smoothly,

“ Ridiculous to send over at such an that perplexities should not be allowed to hour; it gives one no time to consider embarrass, or vexations to annoy, whilst,

The door opened.

" What! at the same time, agreeable interruptions An answer wanted ?" exclaimed Mrs. were especially valued, as giving a fillip to Boscawen, with the startled air of one the languid hours.

unaccustomed to sudden demands. “But, Whether the letter which was put into Boyd, how can I send one? Stop a moher hand as daylight waned on the day ment, – Mattie, speak; what is to be whose length and dreariness she had re- done?” peatedly bemoaned, was to prove a source " What do you mean, mamma ?" said of pleasure or of trouble, remained to be her daughter gently. “What is it that seen ; but at the moment of receiving it, you the lady was certainly roused to curiosity. “Don't you see, my dear ? Boyd, you More than curiosity, more than mere ordi- understand; Miss Adelaide is not come nary interest, was visible on the counte-in yet; the inan must wait.” nance of the tall girl by her side, whose “ His orders is to be back immediately, eyes by turns regarded the sheet and pe- ma'am. I don't think the young ladies rused the expression on her mother's can be in yet a while, ma'am.”

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »