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Title: Disraeli - A Study in Personality and Ideas
Author: Sichel, Walter Sydney
Language: English
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[Illustration:

            _Kenneth Macleay_

_The Young Disraeli._]


DISRAELI

A Study in Personality and Ideas

by

WALTER SICHEL

Author of “Bolingbroke and His Times”

With Three Illustrations



New York
Funk & Wagnalls Company
London: Methuen & Co.
1904



ERRATUM


  Page 22, line 2 note, _for_ “called to the bar” _read_ “entered at
      Lincoln’s Inn”



CONTENTS


                                                                    PAGE
    INTRODUCTION. ON THE IMAGINATIVE QUALITY                           1

                               CHAPTER I

    DISRAELI’S PERSONALITY                                            21

                               CHAPTER II

    DEMOCRACY AND REPRESENTATION                                      53

                              CHAPTER III

    LABOUR--“YOUNG ENGLAND”--“FREE TRADE”                            112

                               CHAPTER IV
    CHURCH AND THEOCRACY                                             145

                               CHAPTER V

    MONARCHY                                                         180

                               CHAPTER VI

    COLONIES--EMPIRE--FOREIGN POLICY                                 199

                              CHAPTER VII

    AMERICA--IRELAND                                                 246

                              CHAPTER VIII

    SOCIETY                                                          268

                               CHAPTER IX

    LITERATURE: WIT, HUMOUR, ROMANCE                                 289

                               CHAPTER X

    CAREER                                                           316

    INDEX                                                            327



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                            TO FACE PAGE

    PORTRAIT OF THE YOUNG DISRAELI. FROM THE MINIATURE BY
        KENNETH MACLEAY IN THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY
                                           _Frontispiece_

    PORTRAIT OF DISRAELI THE YOUNGER. AFTER A WATER COLOUR
        BY A. E. CHALON                                               23

    PORTRAIT OF DISRAELI IN 1852. AFTER A PAINTING BY SIR
        FRANCIS GRANT, P.R.A.                                        289



  “TIME IS REPRESENTED WITH A SCYTHE AS WELL AS WITH AN
    HOUR-GLASS. WITH THE ONE HE MOWS DOWN, WITH THE OTHER HE
    RECONSTRUCTS.”--DISRAELI, _in The Press_, 1853.

  “GREAT MINDS MUST TRUST TO GREAT TRUTHS AND GREAT TALENTS FOR THEIR
    RISE, AND NOTHING ELSE.”

  “TRUE WISDOM LIES IN THE POLICY THAT WOULD EFFECT ITS AIMS BY THE
    INFLUENCE OF OPINION, AND YET BY THE MEANS OF EXISTING FORMS.”

  “... THE PAST IS ONE OF THE ELEMENTS OF OUR POWER.”--_Speech on Mr.
    Cobden’s death, April 3, 1865._



DISRAELI



INTRODUCTION

ON THE IMAGINATIVE QUALITY


The power of imagination is essential to supreme statesmanship. Indeed,
no really originative genius in any domain of the mind can succeed
without it. In literature it reigns paramount. Of art it is the soul.
Without it the historian is a mere registrar of sequence, and no
interpreter of characters. In science it decides the end towards which
the daring of a Verulam, a Newton, a Herschel, a Darwin, can travel. On
the battle-field, in both elements, it enabled Marlborough, Nelson, and
Napoleon to revolutionise tactics. In the law its influence is perhaps
less evident; but even here a masterful insight into the spirit of
precedent marks the creative judge. By lasting imagination, far more
than by the colder weapon of shifting reason, the world is governed.
“Even Mormon,” wrote Disraeli, “counts more votaries than Bentham.” For
imagination is a vivid, intellectual, half-spiritual sympathy, which
diverts the flood of human passion into fresh channels to fertilise the
soil; just as fancy again is the play of intellectual emotion. Whereas
reason, the measure of which varies from age to age, can only at best
dam or curb the deluge for a time. Reason educates and criticises, but
Imagination inspires and creates. The magnetic force which is felt is
really the spell of personal influence and the key of public opinion.
It solves problems by visualising them, and kindles enthusiasm from
its own fascinating fires. And more: Imagination is in the truest
sense prophetic. Could one only grasp with a perfect view the myriad
provinces of suffering, enterprise, and aspiration with which the
Leader is called upon to grapple, not only would the expedients to meet
them suggest themselves as by a divine flash, but their inevitable
relations and meanings would start into vision. For what the herd call
the Present, is only the _literal_ fact, the shell, of environment.
Its _spirit_ is the Future; and the highest imagination in seeing it
foresees. Imagination, once more, is the mainspring of spontaneity. Its
vigour enables the will to beget circumstance, instead of being the
creature of surroundings; “for Imagination ever precedeth voluntary
motion,” says Bacon. It empowers the will of one to sway and mould the
wills of many. And it is the very source of that capacity for idealism
which alone distinguishes man from the brute. Viewing in 1870 the
general purport of his message, Disraeli wrote with truth that it “...
ran counter to the views which had long been prevalent in England, and
which may be popularly, though not altogether accurately, described
as utilitarian;” that it “recognised imagination in the government
of nations as a quality not less important than reason;” that it
“trusted to a popular sentiment which rested on an heroic tradition,
and was sustained by the high spirit of a free aristocracy;” that its
“economical principles were not unsound,” but that it “looked upon
the health and knowledge of the multitude as not the least precious
part of the wealth of nations;” that “in asserting the doctrine of
race,” it “was entirely opposed to the equality of man, and similar
abstract dogmas, which have destroyed ancient society without creating
a satisfactory substitute;” that “resting on popular sympathies and
popular privileges,” it “held that no society could be durable unless
it was built upon the principles of loyalty and religious reverence.”

How comes it, then, that, in the art of governing a free people, this
imaginative fellowship with unseen ideas, this power which men call
Genius, “to make the passing shadow serve thy will,” is so constantly
suspected and mistrusted; that _un_common sense, until it triumphs,
is a stone of stumbling to the common sense of the average man?
That Cromwell was called a self-seeking maniac for his vision of
Theocracy; William of Orange, a cold-blooded monster for his quest
after union and empire; Bolingbroke, a charlatan for his fight against
class-preponderance, and on behalf of united nationality; Chatham, an
actor for his dramatic disdain of shams; Canning, by turns a charlatan
and buffoon, for preferring the traditions of a popular crown to the
innovations of a crowned democracy, and at the same time seeking to
break the charmed circle of a patrician syndicate; that Burke was
hounded out by jealous oligarchs for refusing to confound the “nation”
with the “people,” and cosmopolitan opinions with national principles?
The main answer is simple. What is above the moment is feared by it,
and malice is the armour of fear: “It is the abject property of most
that being parcel of the common mass, and destitute of means to raise
themselves, they sink and settle lower than they need. They know not
what it is to feel within a comprehensive faculty that grasps great
purposes with ease, that turns and wields almost without an effort
plans too vast for their conception, which they cannot move;” and there
are always the jealous who--

                          “... If they find
      Some stain or blemish in a name of note,
      Not grieving that their greatest are so small,
      Inflate themselves with some insane delight,
      And judge all Nature from her feet of clay.”

There are the puzzled whom novelty bewilders, and there are the
cautious who suspect it. And there is the wholesome instinct of
the plain majority to pin itself to immediate “measures” without
recognising that a “principle” may change expedients for bringing its
idea into effect. Again, there are many--especially in England--who, in
their genuine scorn of pinchbeck, mistake the great for the grandiose,
and certain that nothing which glitters can be gold, invest imaginative
brilliance with the tinsel spangles of Harlequin. There are, too, the
second-rate and the second-hand, whose life is one long quotation, and
who doubt every coin unissued from the nearest mint; and there is,
moreover, a sort of stolid crassness readily dignified into sterling
solidity. All this is natural. Institutions and traditions themselves
have been aliens until naturalised in and by the community. Imagination
gave them birth, national needs accept them; and the contemporary sneer
is often succeeded by the posthumous statue.

Perhaps the most curious feature of the prosaic and imperceptive man is
his ready confusion of the dramatic with the theatrical, of attitude
with posture, of pointed effects for a big purpose with affectations
for a small. Flirtation might just as well be confounded with love, or
foppery with breeding. And yet these same unimaginative censors have
often contradicted their protests by their actions, and squandered
great opportunities by futile strokes of the theatre.

So early as 1837, Sheil, who from the first admired the young Disraeli
(then Bulwer’s intimate and the meteor of three seasons), whom Disraeli
praised in one of his earliest election speeches, and who was surely
no mean judge of intellectual eloquence, warned him after his _début_
that “the House will not allow a man to be a wit and an orator,
unless they have the credit of finding it out.... You have shown the
House that you have a fine organ, that you have an unlimited command
of language, that you have courage, temper, and readiness. Now get
rid of your genius for a session; speak often, for you must not show
yourself cowed, but speak shortly. Be very quiet, try to be dull, only
argue and reason imperfectly, for if you reason with precision, they
will think you are trying to be witty. Astonish them by speaking on
subjects of detail. Quote figures, dates, calculations, and in a short
time the House will sigh for the wit and eloquence which they all know
are in you; they will encourage you to pour them forth, and then you
will have the ear of the House, and be a favourite.” Seventeen years
afterwards, when the dashing _littérateur_ had become Chancellor of the
Exchequer and leader of the House of Commons, Mr. Walpole thus defended
him against his enemies on the Budget. “... Whence is it that these
extraordinary attacks are made against my right honourable friend? What
is the reason, what is the cause, that he is to be assailed at every
point, when he has made two financial statements in one year, which
have both met with the approbation of this House, and I believe also
with the approbation of the country? Is it because he has laboured
hard and long, contending with genius against rank and power and the
ablest statesmen, until he has attained the highest eminence which an
honourable ambition may ever aspire to--the leadership and guidance
of the Commons of England? Is it because he has verified in himself
the dignified description of a great philosophical poet of antiquity,
portraying equally his past career and his present position--

      ‘Certare ingenio; contendere nobilitate;
      Noctes atque dies niti præstante labore
      Ad summas emergere opes, rerumque potiri’?”

Yes! This is the sort of barrier piled in the path of the brilliant
by the “practical” man--“the man who practises the blunders of his
predecessors,” the “prophet of the past.” Still greater, because
deeper laid, are the obstacles which confront him when he has mastered
the drudgery of office and the strategy of debate; when, from the
vantage-ground of political pre-eminence and public approval, he dares
to look over the heads of his compeers and prepare strong foundations
for the future of his country. Then that becomes true which Bolingbroke
has so splendidly expressed: “The ocean which environs us is an emblem
of our government, and the pilot and the minister are in similar
circumstances. It seldom happens that either of them can steer a direct
course, and they both arrive at their port by means which frequently
seem to carry them from it. But as the work advances, the conduct
of him who leads it on with real abilities clears up, the appearing
inconsistencies are reconciled, and when it is once consummated, the
whole shows itself so uniform, so plain, and so natural, that every
dabbler in politics will be apt to think that he could have done the
same.”

It is this that Disraeli effected by reverting to fundamental elements
and substituting the generous, inclusive, and “national” Toryism of
Bolingbroke, Wyndham, and Pitt, for the perverted Toryism of Eldon;
the “party without principles,” the “Tory men and Whig measures,” the
“organised hypocrisy” that followed on the “Tamworth Manifesto;” the
Conservatism that “preserved” institutions as men “preserve” game,
only to kill them; and the outworn Whiggism that excluded all but a
few governing families from power; and, after its great achievement
of religious liberty, exploited the extension of civil privileges
as the mere muniment of its own title. He ended the confederacies
and revived the creed.[1] He repudiated the system under which “the
Crown had become a cipher, the Church a sect, the nobility drones,
and the people drudges.” “... But we forget,” he urges in _Sybil_,
“Sir Robert Peel is not the leader of the Tory party--the party that
resisted the ruinous mystification that metamorphosed direct taxation
by the Crown into indirect taxation by the Commons; that denounced
the system which mortgaged industry to protect property;[2] the party
that ruled Ireland by a scheme which reconciled both Churches, and by
a series of parliaments which counted among them lords and commons
of both religions; that has maintained at all times the territorial
constitution of England as the only basis and security for local
government, and which nevertheless once laid on the table of the House
of Commons a commercial tariff negotiated at Utrecht, which is the
most rational that was ever devised by statesmen; a party that has
prevented the Church from being the salaried agent of the State, and
has supported the parochial polity of the country which secures to
every labourer a home. In a parliamentary sense that great party has
ceased to exist; but I will believe that it still lives in the thought
and sentiment ... of the English nation. It has its origin in great
principles and noble instincts; it sympathises with the lowly, it looks
up to the Most High; it can count its heroes and its martyrs.... Even
now, ... in an age of political materialism, of confused purposes and
perplexed intelligence, that aspires only to wealth because it has
faith in no other accomplishment;[3] as men rifle cargoes on the verge
of shipwreck, Toryism will yet rise from the tomb ... _to bring back
strength to the Crown, liberty to the subject, and to announce that
power has only one duty--to secure the social welfare of the people_.”

And, again, this from the close of _Coningsby_: “... he looked upon a
government without distinct principles of policy as only a stop-gap
to a widespread and demoralising anarchy; ... he for one could not
comprehend how a free government could endure without national
opinions to uphold it.... As for Conservative government, the natural
question was, ‘What do you mean to conserve?... Things or only names,
realities or merely appearances? Do you mean to continue the system
commenced in 1834, and with a hypocritical reverence for the principles
and a superstitious adherence to the forms of the old _exclusive_
constitution, carry on your policy by latitudinarian practice?’”

His lifelong purpose as a statesman was to refresh institutions with
reality, and to show by practice, as well as by precept, that, in
all classes, an aristocracy without inherent superiority is doomed.
De Tocqueville, in his famous treatise on “The Old Régime and the
Revolution,” does the same.

Eighteenth-century Toryism, a smitten cause espousing popular
privileges, taught that unless the Crown ruled for the people as well
as reigned over them, unless the nobles led them independently to high
issues, unless the people themselves recognised that they were the
privileged order in a nation, and that their representatives should
form “a senate supported by the sympathy of millions,” the traditional
principles of England had dwindled into a sham.

“No one,” says Disraeli in _Coningsby_, again adverting to the critical
issues of 1834, “had arisen either in Parliament, the Universities, or
the Press, to lead the public mind to the investigation of principles;
and not to mistake in their reformations the corruption of practice
for fundamental ideas. It was this perplexed, ill-informed, jaded,
shallow generation, repeating cries which they did not comprehend, and
wearied with the endless ebullitions of their own barren conceit, that
Sir Robert Peel was summoned to govern. It was from such materials,
ample in quantity, but in all spiritual qualities most deficient; with
great numbers, largely acred, consoled up to their chins, but without
knowledge, genius, thought, truth, or faith, that Sir Robert Peel was
to form ‘a great Conservative party on a comprehensive basis....’” Even
Sir Robert’s single-mindedness and supremacy over Parliament failed to
secure strength of Government. By universal consent, including his own
avowal, he wrecked a great party in a country where great parties form
the main pledge for the due representation of political opinion, and
under a system where they remain the chief preventive against public
corruption.

The first two Georges had reigned over the towns, but not over the
country. After the Reform Bill it seemed as though the great cities
themselves would swamp the land. How was Sir Robert to save the
situation in 1834? Speaking with respect for Sir Robert, but with
contempt for his “Tamworth Manifesto,” Disraeli, in his discussion
of that famous document, repeats his message once more: “... There
was indeed considerable shouting about what they called Conservative
principles; but the awkward question naturally arose, ‘What will
you conserve?’ The prerogatives of a Crown, provided they are not
exercised; the independence of the House of Lords, provided it is not
asserted; the ecclesiastical estate, provided it is regulated by a
commission of laymen. Everything, in short, that is established, as
long as it is a phrase and not a fact.”[4]

It is thus that the man of ideas is, in the long run, eminently
practical; and it is thus, too, that in the realm of art ideas are the
surest realities. But here also the immediate appeal constantly falls
to the lot of what is called “realism,” and few feel what they cannot
touch until the popular voice tells them that it is “real.” “Madame,”
says Heine in his “Buch Legrand,” “have you the ghost of an idea what
an idea is? ‘I have put my best ideas into this coat,’ says my tailor.
My washerwoman says the parson has filled her daughter’s head with
ideas, and unfitted her for anything sensible; and coachman Pattensen
mumbles on every occasion, ‘That is an idea.’ But yesterday, when I
inquired what he meant, he snarled out, ‘An idea is just an idea; it is
any silly stuff that comes into one’s head.’”

No memorial of Disraeli’s magical career can be adequate without access
to the papers confided to the late Lord Rowton, as well as to much
private and unpublished correspondence. It is no slur on the “Lives”
that have already appeared to say that they lack the materials for a
complete picture. The best of these beyond question is Mr. Froude’s;
but not only is it tinged with considerable prejudice, but it is
very faulty in its facts; and, moreover, in common with Mr. Bryce’s
cursory essay and Herr Brandes’s minuter study, it has perhaps fallen
into the error of misreading Disraeli’s mature character and career
from isolated and indiscriminate use of such sidelights as they are
pleased to discover in his earliest novels. To trace Disraeli’s
development, it is necessary to follow the long and continuous thread
of his words and actions, to consider the changes experienced during
the fifty years of his political outlook in England and in Europe, and
to ascertain how many of these tendencies were foreseen, produced, or
modified by him. The criticisms current are either those of men (often
partisans) who lack this length of view, and interpret the latter
manifestations of Disraeli’s genius, with which alone they are even
outwardly acquainted, in the light of preconceived notions, or the
few circulated comparatively early in his career, before its eventual
drift was revealed, and while the full blaze of hostile bitterness was
raging. There exists, it is true, a most able, a most appreciative, a
most detailed account of his political career, compiled by Mr. Ewald
shortly after Lord Beaconsfield’s death, but this is mainly a long
parliamentary chronicle. Mr. Kebbel’s enlightening edition of selected
speeches is illustrative though limited. To both of these, among many
other sources, direct and indirect, I here gratefully acknowledge my
obligation.

A real biography, therefore, is at present impossible. Disraeli’s
acknowledged debt to his darling sister and devoted wife (“Women,” he
has said, “are the priestesses of pre-destination”); his correspondence
and commerce with many eminent men, including both Louis Philippe and
Napoleon III.; his letters to our late Queen; his notes of policy;
the rough drafts for compositions, both literary and parliamentary;
his State papers and official memoranda; his relations to many men of
letters and leading; such known, though unpublished, correspondence as
even that with Mrs. Williams; the glimpses of him as a youth through
Mrs. Austin, Bulwer, Lord Strangford, the Sheridans, with many others;
in his age, through a privileged circle of distinguished and devoted
associates--all these, and many more, must be pressed into service
if even the rudiments are to be portrayed. And none of these are yet
available.

I have therefore thought that, pending such an enterprise, some
account, however imperfect, of the ideas that governed him
throughout--a slight biography, as it were, of his mind--might prove
acceptable. It will endeavour to depict the spirit of his attitude to
the world in which he moved and for which he worked. It will aim at
representing the temperature of his opinions immanent alike in his
writings and speeches. His utterance was never bounded by the mere
occasion, and light and guidance may be found in it for the problems of
to-day. In most that he wrote or said, a certain swell of soul, a sweep
and stretch of mind are strikingly manifest.

“How very seldom,” he has written, “do you encounter in the world a
man of great abilities, acquirements, experience, who will unmask his
mind, _unbutton his brains_, and pour forth in careless and picturesque
phrase all the results of his studies and observations, his knowledge
of men, books, and nature!”

Such a contribution is anyhow feasible, and is fraught with more than
even the glamour linked with the person by whom these ideas were
clothed in words and deeds. For principles are applied ideas; habits
are applied principles. Disraeli’s ideas have, to some extent, become
ruling principles, several of them are at this moment national habits;
while some of them, unachieved during his lifetime, seem in process
of accomplishment. Disraeli was a poet--one of those “unacknowledged
legislators of the world” described by “Herbert” in _Venetia_; but his
imaginative fancy was allied to a very strong character. It is a rare
combination. To Bolingbroke’s youthful genius he united that force of
will and purpose for which Bolingbroke had long to wait, and which,
perhaps, he never fully attained. This analogy was pressed on Disraeli
on the threshold of his career by a distinguished friend.

Above all things Disraeli was a personality. Personality is independent
of training, except in the rare cases where education accords with
predisposition. It is the will. And in authorship, when expression
chimes with intention, it is the style. Personality is the clue to
history, for events proceed from character, more than character from
events. Commenting on the adoption of the “Charter” by non-chartists
groaning under the injustice of industrial slavery, Disraeli observes
most truly: “... But all this had been brought about, as most of the
great events of history, by the unexpected and unobserved influence
of individual character.” Personality is the salt of politics; it is
the spirit of our party system; and woe betide every era in England
when figure-heads replace head-figures. It is an atmosphere enchanting
the landscape. “... It is the personal that interests mankind, that
fires their imagination and wins their hearts. A cause is a great
abstraction, and fit only for students: embodied in a party, it
stirs men to action; but place at the head of that party a leader
who can inspire enthusiasm, he commands the world....” Association,
groups, co-operative principles, these are the mechanisms invented
by the brain, and guided by the hand of individuality, the fuel that
individuality gathers and enkindles. Without it they remain dead
lumber, and can never of themselves prove originative forces. What
men crave is, once more in Disraeli’s parlance, “... A primordial and
creative mind; one that will say to his fellows, ‘Behold, God has
given me thought, I have discovered truth, and you _shall_ believe.’”
Personality is the contradiction of the mechanical and of the dead
level; it is the soul of influence. How depressing is the reverse side
of the medal!--“Duncan Macmorrogh” (the utilitarian in _The Young
Duke_), “cut up the Creation and got a name. His attack upon mountains
was most violent, and proved, by its personality that he had come
from the lowlands. He demonstrated the inability of all elevation, and
declared that the Andes were the aristocracy of the globe. Rivers he
rather patronised, but flowers he quite pulled to pieces, and proved
them to be the most useless of existences.... He informed us that
we were quite wrong in supposing ourselves to be the miracle of the
Creation. On the contrary, he avowed that already there were various
pieces of machinery of far more importance than man; and he had no
doubt in time that a superior race would arise, got by a steam-engine
on a spinning-jenny....”

To impress his ideas through his will on his generation, was Disraeli’s
ruling purpose from the first; but to attain the position which would
entitle him to do so he never regarded as more than a ladder towards
his main ambition. Ambition[5] spurred him from the first. But, as
the present Duke of Devonshire generously owned in the heat of party
contest, Disraeli was never prompted by mean or unworthy motives;
and--added the speaker--it would be the merest cant to pretend that
honourable and honest ambition is not a main incitement to public life.
At the outset he was convinced of a mission, and the visions over which
he had long brooded in silent solitude became realised in the world of
action. Both reverie and energy alternated even in his boyish being. “I
fully believed myself the object of an omnipotent Destiny over which
I had no control”--and yet “Destiny bears us to our lot, and Destiny
is perhaps our own will.” “... There arose in my mind a desire to
create things beautiful as that golden star;” and yet “... Nor could
I conceive that anything could tempt me from my solitude ... but the
strong conviction that the fortunes of my race depended on my effort,
or that I could materially forward that great amelioration, ... in the
practicability of which I devoutly believe.” As a boy he dreamed of
“shaking thrones and founding empires;” and yet, he felt that he must
not “pass” his “days like a ghost gliding in a vision.” These are
among the echoes and glimpses afforded by his earliest fiction of his
earliest self, and to this topic I shall recur in my last chapter. I
mention them here for a material reason. In treating his thoughts we
must distinguish between those notions which merely concern success
or career, and those ideas which assured victory was to achieve.
Nor should we omit the very vital distinction between personality
and egotism, for confusion in this regard constantly obscures our
estimates. Individuality with the forces that make for it is not
“individualism;” yet the two are often confused.

The essential egotist is a sort of buccaneer. He roams the seas to
rifle cargoes, and his conquests are the spoils of a freebooter.
He seeks to exploit society for his own benefit--to burn down his
neighbour’s roof-tree that he may boil his egg. He gives nothing
that he can keep, and takes all he can grasp by whatever methods may
advantage him. He leaves the world poorer when he goes, and as he
leaves it, he wishes it. In Cowper’s words--

     “Cruel is all he does. ’Tis quenchless thirst
      Of ruinous ebriety that prompts
      His every action, and imbrutes the man.”

The man, on the other hand, of overwhelming personality, aspires
honourably to power, the very condition of which in his eyes is
to guide and elevate the country which entrusts him with it. The
responsibility of privilege, great position on the tenure of great
duties, ambition not as a right but as the sole means of enforcing
his ideals--these are his characteristics. He never covets place
without power, and never power without influence; whereas some kind of
covetousness is essential to the egotist. “He who has great honours,”
Disraeli has urged, “must have great burdens.” And again: “... My
conception,” he said, in a signal speech during 1846, “of a great
statesman is of one who represents a great idea; an idea which he may
and can impress on the mind and conscience of a nation.... That is a
grand, that is indeed an heroic position. But I care not what may be
the position of a man who never originates an idea--a watcher of the
atmosphere, a man who ... takes his observations, and when he finds
the wind in a certain quarter trims to suit it. Such a person may be
a powerful Minister, but he is no more a great statesman than the man
who gets up behind a carriage is a great whip. Both are disciples of
progress; both perhaps may get a good place. But how far the original
momentum is indebted to their powers, and how far their guiding
prudence regulates the lash or the rein, it is not necessary for me to
notice.”

Disraeli never stooped to trim; he always aspired to steer. When he
started as a brilliant author, electric with ideas derided but since
accepted--as an imaginative originator, “full of deep passions and
deep thoughts”--it would have been easy for him to have followed the
triumphal car of the Whigs who invited him.[6] It would have been easy
for him to have suited himself to Sir Robert Peel’s vicissitudes of
private, and desertion of public opinion, embodied in a great party
which had raised him to power. In obeying again the central ideas which
quickened him from the first, Disraeli broke up the “Young England”
party, which looked up to and cheered him, whose main objects he
inspired, and eventually realised. And in 1867, as we shall see, so
far from “dishing” the Liberals with their own measure of Reform, he
carried, in the teeth of his own supporters, one on lines peculiar to
his own perpetual view of the subject, and at length achieved what he
had urged in the ’thirties, the ’forties, and the ’fifties.

In the stubborn pursuit of his aims Disraeli even courted unpopularity.
On every occasion when the object of the Jew bill was involved with
other measures which he considered prejudical to its due interests, he
risked misconstruction by withholding his vote. During the long spell
of 1859-66, when a dispirited, and sometimes disloyal following often
left him alone in his seat, he continued the pronouncements alike and
the reticence which they disrelished. During the six years previous
he dared to offend them equally by hammering the Government’s foreign
policy, and insisting on his own convictions. Nobody, again, more
regretted the precipitancy of Lord Derby in 1852, although his rash
assumption of office afforded Disraeli his first hard-won opportunity
of leadership. During three separate sets of discreditable intrigues
to dethrone him, he kept place, counsel, and temper without wheedling
concessions or recriminating revenges, though none could strike home
harder when he chose.

“... Ah, why should such enthusiasm ever die? Life is too short to be
little. Man is never so manly as when he feels deeply, acts boldly, and
expresses himself with frankness and with fervour.”

The fact that both the mere egotist, and the man of intense
personality, must, from the need of their respectively low and lofty
concentrations, be self-centred, and infuse their temperaments into the
objects of their energy, favours, it is true, the mistake to which I
have referred. But the one is pettily fixed on self, the other intent
on ideals. He leads a life of ideas which form his atmosphere, and
which emanate from it. He mounts the chariot to drive it to a distant
goal, while the other borrows or pilfers it for his own immediate
convenience. Egoism--if I may coin a distinction--is one thing, egotism
another. Goethe was an egoist--he is full of a radiating self; but such
egoism is, if we reflect, the very opposite of the egotist, who is full
of a shrivelled selfishness. Such were the later phases of Napoleon,
who changed from a generous imparter into an absorbing monopolist.
That was egotism. All genius, however, has been egoist, and ever will
be; for genius is at once the ear, sensitive to the subtlest appeals
of existence, and the voice which constrains others to enter the realm
of its ideas. Its sensitiveness is part of its strength, and in this
respect it shares the self-consciousness of the artist. It is in the
real sense auto-suggestive; it implants ideas which its will generates
into events. It is in some degree that--

     “... which many people take for want of heart.
        They err.--’Tis merely what is called mobility,
      A thing of temperament, and not of art,
        Though seeming so from its supposed facility;
      And false though true; for surely they’re sincerest
      Who are strongly acted on by what is nearest.”

And its faults, as I shall show in my closing chapter, are associated
with its very qualities.

Genius is both light and heat; it combines enthusiasm with insight.
Such a genius was Disraeli. He was eminently a man of ideas, and not
merely of abnormal perceptions. This distinction again is material, and
too often ignored.

The eminently perceptive man is at root a critic, while the man of
ideas is by prerogative a creator; and yet the quick perceiver is often
mistaken for a creative genius, and keenness confused with originality.
In politics, for instance, this was the case with such different
beings as Peel and Gambetta; in literature, with Addison and Arnold;
in art, with Kneller and Lawrence. Disraeli’s ideas were at once his
creations and companions, and he moved in their inner circle with a
sort of extravagant intensity. They were no shadows. He was convinced
of their substance almost to fatalism, and his immense will-power
forced and projected them into movement. In his extreme youth, before
his character had matured, these ideas flickered as fantasies. The
restlessness of a volition felt, but not yet freed or directed, caused
some masquerade of guise, and a perpetual strain on the intuition that
sought to forestall experience. Realisation alone, with power and
experience, brought repose. But at all periods an idea that had once
seized him tinged his whole being. Its reality haunted him till he
had given it place and shape.[7] An inward and ideal energy possessed
him. Ideas were for him far more tangible, even far more sociable,
than the outward and fleeting phantasms around him, as is evidenced
in his fiction by his constant habit of transferring environment and
transplanting personalities to accentuate their ideal essence. Thus, in
_Venetia_, the soul of Lady Byron animates the form of Shelley’s wife,
while the very date is put back some thirty years, that Shelley himself
might be enabled to have braved in action what he mused in poetry.
So, again, in _Contarini_, the hero’s development blends something of
his own with something of his father’s character; while Baron Fleming
is his grandfather reincarnated as a noble.[8] About the ironies of
these, the arabesques of his playful fancy flickered. For him they were
mostly the pretexts of things, but ideas were the causes, and he loved
to contrast “the pretext with the cause;” but even here romance blent
with irony, and invested the seemingly trivial with wonder. Some, too,
of his ideas hovered, as it were, over the present scene, in a flight
bound other-whither and beyond. In a word, Disraeli was an artist,
conscious and confident of an over-mastering call. As he has written in
a striking passage from the work of his youth, _Contarini Fleming_: “I
never labour to delude myself; and never gloss over my own faults. I
exaggerate them; for I can afford to face truth, because I feel capable
of improvement.... I am never satisfied.... The very exercise of power
teaches me that it may be wielded for a greater purpose.... No one
could be influenced by a greater desire of knowledge, a greater passion
for the beautiful, or a deeper regard for his fellow-creatures....
I want no false fame. It would be no delight to me to be considered
a prophet, were I conscious of being an impostor. I ever wish to be
undeceived; but if I possess the organisation of a poet, no one can
prevent me from exercising my faculty, any more than he can rob the
courser of his fleetness, or the nightingale of her song.”

The “ill-regulated will,” “the undercurrent of feelings he was then
unable to express,” portrayed in _Vivian Grey_, developed into
the higher and more elevating purposes of which his transforming
imagination was all along capable. That very book contained the germs
of what its composition revealed to his own mind--that out of a young
adventurer with purpose and genius, the school of life forms a strong
character and a great man. In _Contarini Fleming_ the irresistible
power of predisposition, the hollowness of a nurture which ignores it
and substitutes “words” for “ideas,” the interactions of imagination
and experience, the fatuity of contradicting or overstraining Nature,
are pursued; nor, as regards this novel, should it be forgotten that in
some portions of its analysis there are traces in allusive undertone
to the fatalities of the great and stricken Dean of St. Patrick’s.[9]

In Disraeli’s case, as so often before him, “the dreaming part of
mankind” has “prevailed over the waking.” His flouted dreams came
true. They still hold sway. To give effectual substance to these
higher and abiding dreams, those other dreams of ascendency, through
which alone his will could realise his ideas, were also verified. “It
is the will”--he speaks by the lips of the young “Alroy”--“that is
father to the deed, and he who broods over some long idea, however
wild, will find his dream was but the prophecy of coming fate.” “All is
ordained,” he had said as a stripling, “yet man is master of his own
actions.”[10] Disraeli’s career was itself a romance--a romance of the
will that defies circumstance, and moulds the soil where ideas are to
flourish. An inward, personal energy is the parent of faith, and faith
in oneself is the sole security for the issue of faith among others.
He lived to triumph, but not in order to triumph; and he remains a
standing protest against those who believe in cliques and disbelieve
in personal influence. The former are only compact in appearance; they
are unsympathetic associations, welded together by interest alone.
Joint-stock enterprise is not fellowship, and the test of direction is
liability. Nor is it without significance that “Fortune,” even in the
ancient world a real though blind goddess, has come, in the modern, to
mean little more than cash; so that capital leans away from labour,
plutocracy is cemented, solidarity declines, and worth too often is
resolved by the question, “Worth how much?”

It is this idea of personality that lies at the very root of united
nationality; for a nation is an idealised individual, no aggregate
of atoms. Still less is it the experimenting room of doctrinaires
or the dumping-ground of the Tapers and Tadpoles, the Paul Prys of
politics, who “whisper nothings that sound like somethings;” or of
those “Marneys,” “Fitz-Aquitaines,” and “Mowbrays” who deem that the
end of an administration is “two garters to begin with;” or again of
“the good old gentlemanlike times, when Members of Parliament had
nobody to please, and Ministers of State nothing to do;” of those who,
like “Rigby,” mistake peddling with constituencies for representing
the country; or of those petty placemen to whom, as he has said, party
means the machinery for receiving “£1200” a year, career the pursuit of
it, and success its attainment.

“... I prefer” (the passage is from _Sybil_) “association to
gregariousness.... It is a community of purpose that constitutes
society ... without that men may be drawn into contiguity, but they
will continue virtually isolated....” What does this imply but the
sympathetic power of personality? The more individual societies become,
the greater their efficacy. The less individual they are the more they
display the tameness and unfruitfulness that enfeeble a copy.

“But what is an individual,” exclaimed “Coningsby,” “against a vast
public opinion?”

“Divine,” said the stranger. “God made man in His own image; but the
Public is made by newspapers, Members of Parliament, excise officers,
Poor Law guardians. Would Philip have succeeded, if Epaminondas had
not been slain? And if Philip had not succeeded? Would Prussia have
existed, had Frederick not been born? And if Frederick had not been
born? What would have been the fate of the Stuarts, if Prince Henry
had not died, and Charles I., as was intended, had been Archbishop of
Canterbury?”

This was written in 1844. Since then, would Germany have been united
if Bismarck had not been born? And if Bismarck had not been born? In
1865 a powerful party, promising success, reinforced by commanding
talent, and concerting an intelligible plan with immense vigour, began
to demand the disintegration of Great Britain. And if Disraeli had not
been born?----

       *       *       *       *       *

Nothing is more striking in modern parliamentary life than the growing
neglect of the past. Great issues are mooted by men ignorant of, or
ignoring, their historical origin. Young members discuss weighty
problems with no study save that of omniscience. The ancestry of
events is disregarded. Development is relegated to musty students and
mouldy volumes. The fact that statesmanship is able to look forward
because it has already looked back, is flouted or forgotten. Public
interest is gradually being withdrawn from debate, just because it is
getting out of touch with the organic changes of national life. The
genius which transfigures facts with imagination has been replaced by
the opportunism which invests emptiness with solemnity; and this, in a
country where national growth depends on continuous tradition.

The utterances of Disraeli from the early ’twenties to the latest
’seventies display a wonderful harmony of coherence in progress. They
form one long suite of variations on the central _motif_ of persistent
and consistent ideas. To understand them aright one must view them
successively, both in his books and his speeches, which illustrate each
other; nor in so doing should the contexts of personal development,
events private as well as public, be lost from sight.

This I have endeavoured to accomplish in the following chapters. I have
classified their themes in groups broad enough to admit of kindred
topics. After a fresh portrait of Disraeli’s personality, I treat first
of his constitutional ideas, because these are at the root of his
political standpoint; they underlie, too, his conception of the State.
Then follows his attitude towards Labour and the causes it involved.
Next come his distinctive views on Church and Christianity; his views,
equally distinctive, on Monarchy occupy a separate chapter. Colonies,
Empire, and Foreign Policy are then grouped together; and it may excite
surprise to mark the earliness and the correctness of his prophecies.
Under this head I also consider his thoughts on India. America and
Ireland succeed; and here again his justified originality is most
remarkable. Perhaps the light chapters on _Society_, _Literature_,
_Wit_, _Humour_, and _Romance_, with the closing study of _Career_,
may be considered not the least suggestive. I have not drawn on Mr.
Meynell’s delightful “Disraeliana” (the pleasure of reading which I
purposely postponed), because I wished this portraiture of the man and
his mind to be wholly original.



CHAPTER I

DISRAELI’S PERSONALITY


“A great mind that thinks and feels is never inconsistent and never
insincere.... Insincerity is the vice of a fool, and inconsistency
the blunder of a knave.... Let us not forget an influence too much
underrated in this age of bustling mediocrity--the influence of
individual character. Great spirits may yet arise to guide the groaning
helm through the world of troubled waters--spirits whose proud destiny
it may still be at the same time to maintain the glory of the Empire
and to secure the happiness of the people.”

So wrote “Disraeli the Younger” during the perplexed crisis of 1833
in his rare pamphlet, _What is he?_[11] which embodies his own large
attitude. The sentence is characteristic and prophetic. Its last
words were repeated more than forty years afterwards in the message
of farewell to his constituents, when he quitted the lively scene of
his triumphs for that grave assemblage, of which he once said that its
aptitudes were best rehearsed among the tombstones.

In my last three chapters I shall touch on some unique phases of his
boyhood, and outline several of his relations to his home, to society,
to literature, to character, and to career. But here I shall attempt a
less detailed account of his individuality and of the main ideas which
flowed from it.

And first let me venture on two glimpses--one of his youth, the other
of his age.

It is not difficult to collect from many scattered presentments some
likeness of

     “The wondrous boy
      That wrote _Alroy_.”

Imagine, then, a romantic figure, a Southern shape in a Northern
setting, a kind of Mediterranean Byron; for the stock of the Disraelis
hailed from the _Sephardim_--Semites who had never quitted the midland
coasts, and were powerful in Spain before the Goths. The form is lithe
and slender, with an air of repressed alertness. The stature, above
middle height. The head, long and compact; its curls, fantastic. The
oval face, pale rather than pallid, with dark almond eyes of unusual
depth, size, and lustre under a veil of drooping lashes. The chin,
pointed with decision. The expression holds one, by turns keen and
pensive; about it hovers a strange sense of inner watchfulness and
ambushed irony, half mocking in defiance, half eager with conscious
power. A languid reserve marks his bearing; it conceals a smouldering
vehemence; its observant silence prepares amazement directly interest
excites intercourse. Then indeed the scimitar, as it were, flashes
forth unsheathed, and dazzles by its breathless fence of words with
ideas. This ardour is not always pleasant; it breathes of storm; it
speaks out elemental passions and grates against the smooth edges of
civilisation. In the London medley he, like his friend Bulwer, studies
a purposed posture. Dandyism and listlessness mask unsleeping energy.
But at Bradenham, his constant retreat, the “Hurstley” of his last
novel, all is natural and unconstrained. Here at least he is free.
Here he “drives the quill” with his famous father, reads and rides,
meditates and is mirthful. Here, with that gifted sister “Sa”--“Sa,” a
name soon afterwards doubly endeared to him through Lord Lyndhurst’s
daughter; “Sa,” who, while others doubt or twit, ever believes in and
heartens him--he dreams, improvises, discourses. The rest may treat him
as a moonstruck Bombastes,[12] but his lofty visions are real to
the gentle insight of affection. In the language of Shakespeare’s fine
colloquy:--

     “‘Say what thou art that talk’st of Kings and Queens?’--
      ‘More than I seem, and less than I was born to.’--
      ‘Aye, but thou talk’st as if thou wert a King!’--
      ‘Why, so I am in mind, and that’s enough.’”

[Illustration: DISRAELI THE YOUNGER

_After a water colour by A. E. Chalon_]

Already, like one of those his biting pen had satirised, he too, it
must be owned, teems with “confidence in the nation--and himself.”
There was a daredevilry about him, and in those days a romantic
melancholy, akin to that of the Spanish artist Goya. Far behind have
faded those consuming pangs of boyish restlessness, when fevered
imagination played vaguely on inexperience. Far behind, those schools
of “words” which never slaked his thirst for ideas, and where he
ran wild as rebel ringleader.[13] Far away now, those boxing bouts
witnessed by Layard’s mother. Past, that earliest and unpublished
novel of _Aylmer Papillon_,[14] which Murray praised but would not
print. Past, that fugitive satire of the “New Dunciad,” which does not
deserve to remain waste-paper.[15] Past, that abortive journal, which
in transforming an old periodical while adopting its name was to have
revolutionised opinion.[16] Vanished, too, those first outbursts of
unchastened brilliance under the favouring auspices of the Layards’
fair kinswoman, Mrs. Austin. And the vista of his two long journeys
have receded; the alternate spells of Venice, the Rhine and Rome,
and afterwards of Athens, Constantinople, Jerusalem. Past, also, the
strange malady for which his Eastern travels proved the stranger cure.
As he muses, the ball is at his feet. Yet, when the daydream fades, is
he, perhaps, after all, only Alnaschar of the broken glass, bemoaning
vain reveries amid the ruined litter of his overturned basket in the
jeering market-place? The seed-time of reflection is over: he pants for
action. No more for him the beaten tracks. Hitherto he had fed on books
and dreams. The former had led him to a pondered plan, with Bolingbroke
for clue and Pitt as example. The latter fired his ambition--his
presumption--to realise them by restoring vanished life to a now
mouldering party--by suiting old forms to new phases and heading them.

Next morning the secluded scholar, so friendly a contrast with his
daring son, is bound for Oxford to receive his long delayed honours.
This very day that son’s earliest election-procession starts from the
doorway of the tranquil manor house.[17] Already the budding genius has
descried the dim future of his country, which he has proclaimed must be
governed for and through the nation; of which, too, he has already sung
in halting verse:--

                    “... ceased the voice
      Of Great Britannia; vanished as it ceased
      Her glance imperial.”

What matter now the debts, the duns, the embarrassments for which he
blushes?[18] What matter the heartless allurements of siren fashion?
His course is clear before him. He must win. He “has begun several
times many things, and has often succeeded at last.” As for the taunt
of “adventurer,” what are all original spirits that “burst their
birth’s invidious bar” but adventurers? Such were Chatham,[19] and
Burke, and Canning, and Peel himself. But when the “adventurer” is
one by temperament as well as occasion, how miraculous becomes his
progress! “Adventures are to the adventurous.”

     “The man who with undaunted toils
      Sails unknown seas to unknown soils,
      With various wonders feasts his sight:
      What stranger wonders does he write!”

Many of us remember Disraeli in his age as he sauntered dreamily and
slowly with the late Lord Rowton, and none who ever heard one of his
last orations in the House of Lords can forget how, even when he was
in pain, he sprang from his seat with the quick step of youth. The
physical charm had disappeared. Few who gazed on that drawn countenance
could have discerned in it the poetry and enthusiasm of his prime;
only the unworn eyes preserved their piercing fires, and the sunken
jaw was still masterful. A long discipline of iron self-control, much
disillusion, growing disappointments with crowning triumphs, and
latterly a great desolation, had subdued the fiercer force and the
elastic buoyancy of his hey-day. Yet the intellectual charm, and the
spell of mind and spirit had deepened their outward traces. Fastidious
discernment, dispassionate will, penetrating insight, courage,[20]
patience, a certain winning gentleness underneath the scorn of shams,
stamp every lineament. Below habitual _insouciance_, intensity,
bigness of soul and purpose are prominent. The arch of the noble brow
retains its height and curve. Surrounded though he be by friends and
flatterers, he looks lonelier than of old. “I do not feel solitude,” he
said, “it gives one repose.” Interested in every movement, and even in
every trifle that engages thought, his gaze appears more turned within.

We know from Lady John Manners,[21] and from other sources, how he
loved flowers, and forestry, and study during the dinner-hour, more
than all the social glitter; how he communed with the unseen; how
far-reaching were his sympathies; what interest and curiosity he
displayed in every form of career and purpose; how often to all the
splendour which he had conquered he preferred converse with the weak,
the lowly, the suffering; how his wise counsel and inexhaustible
resource were sought and coveted by cottagers, by the toilers whose
cause he made his own, by princes; how delicately considerate he was
in his appointments, and for all in contact with him, how he would
sacrifice a keen personal wish rather than disturb a pleasure or
abridge a holiday; and yet how his playfulness of fancy mixed in pithy
ironies with his very considerateness. A familiar instance--that of the
attached servant who was to enjoy “the pleasures of memory”--occurred
as he lay dying from the illness long and bravely concealed even from
his intimates. He was truly unselfish, and he was never known to blame
a subordinate. If things went wrong, he took the whole burden on his
own shoulders. He exerted infinite pains to understand the conditions
of and the organisations affecting labour.[22] The Buckinghamshire
peasants still cherish his memory; and it may be said with truth that
the deepest affections of this extraordinary man, whom vapid worldlings
sneered at as a callous cynic, were reserved for his country, his
county, his home, and his friends, for effort and for distress. Many
a young aspirant to fame, moreover, in literature or public life, has
owed much to his generous encouragement. He liked to dwell on the
vicissitudes of things,[23] and his own motto, “Forti nihil difficile,”
represents his conviction. In private, when he was not entertaining,
his habits were of the simplest. In two things only he was profuse;
books and light. He loved to see every room of Hughenden illuminated
with candles. He was utterly careless of money. It is related, that
when he accepted the Chancellorship of the Exchequer, he sent for the
celebrated Mr. Padwick, and asked for a necessary advance. “On what
security?” inquired the sporting speculator. “That of my name and my
career,” was the answer. And the money was at once forthcoming, and
punctually repaid. As is well known, he would often make his greatest
efforts half dinnerless; and his delight was, after the strain and
the plaudits had ceased, to betake himself in the dim hours of dawn
to the supper which his devoted wife, who spared him every detail of
management, had prepared, and there to recount to her the excitements
of the debate. The pair would certainly have endorsed those verses of
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, of which Byron was so fond--

     “But when the long hours of public are past,
      And we meet with champagne and a chicken at last,
      May every fond pleasure that moment endear,
      Be banished afar both discretion and fear!
      Forgetting or scorning the airs of the crowd,
      He may cease to be formal, and I to be proud,
      Till lost in the joy, we confess that we live,
      And he may be rude, and yet I may forgive.”

His public and touching tribute to Mrs. Disraeli deserves repetition
here; nor will the reader forget, among many hackneyed stories,
that stern rebuke to the triflers overheard discussing the reasons
for his marriage--“Because of a feeling to which such as you are
strangers--gratitude.”

It was at Edinburgh, in 1867, when his old ally, Baillie Cochrane (Lord
Lamington), toasted Mrs. Disraeli as her illustrious husband’s helper
and his own dear friend for many years before Disraeli met her.[24]
Disraeli opened with the characteristic remark that their mutual
intimate “certainly had every opportunity of studying the subject to
which he has drawn attention.” And he went on to say, “I do owe to
that lady all I think that I have ever accomplished, because she has
supported me with her counsel, and consoled me by the sweetness of her
mind and disposition.” Six years after his marriage, he had dedicated
the three volumes of his _Sybil_, “To one whose noble spirit and gentle
nature ever prompt her to sympathise with the suffering; to one whose
sweet voice has often encouraged, and whose taste and judgment have
ever guided their pages; the most severe of critics, but--a perfect
wife.”

Several of his nice things were said in Scotland, and one of the nicest
was his compliment when he was installed Rector of Glasgow University.
He described his visit to Abbotsford, whither he had repaired in
his extreme youth with an enthusiastic letter from John Murray the
First, his father’s old friend, to Sir Walter Scott, that father’s
old acquaintance. “He showed me,” he said of the laird, “his demesne,
and he treated me, not as if I was an obscure youth, but as if I were
already Lord Rector of Glasgow University.”[25]

Disraeli’s marriage was the happiest turning-point in his career;
and that which had begun partly in interest, soon developed into the
warmest, the most entire and the most mutual affection. Mrs. Disraeli,
at a great country house, always used to commence conversation by
the query, “Do you like my Dizzy? Because, if you don’t----” From
another, on a visit most advantageous to him, Disraeli departed,
despite pressing remonstrance, on the plea that the “air” disagreed
with Mrs. Disraeli--because she had complained of their host’s
rudeness. It will one day be found that to this gifted and selfless
woman, English history owed much at several serious conjunctures. I
cannot resist relating a good story in another vein. Shortly after
Disraeli’s marriage, a guest at Grosvenor Gate, pointing to a portrait
of the late Mr. Wyndham Lewis, Mrs. Disraeli’s first husband and with
Disraeli member for Maidstone, asked him whom it represented. “Our
former colleague,” was the rejoinder. At a much later date Mr. Frith
was painting a group in which Disraeli figured. As her husband was
going, Mrs. Disraeli whispered to the artist, “Remember one thing, if
you don’t mind, his pallor is his beauty.” She was afraid that his
complexion would be coloured. To the last she would say, as she did
during his interrupted speech at Aylesbury in 1847:--“_He_ mind them!
Not a bit of it. He’s a match for them all.” Sir Horace Rumbold has
just told us how, at the scene of Disraeli’s investiture as Earl, a
sob was heard from the crowd. It was the grief of an old and faithful
servant sighing, “Ah! If only _she_ had lived to see him now!”

Like childless men in general, he was devoted to children. More than
one still living remembers his happy words of playful intimacy. To
women from the days of his pet Sheridans to those of the present Lady
Currie, he appealed with magnetism throughout his career, and there are
few more romantic episodes than his meetings, after hesitation, with
the elderly Mrs. Bridges Williams at the fountain in the Exhibition of
1862, the existing correspondence which ensued, and the thumping legacy
which crowned it. One who has read that correspondence has assured me
that its gentle chivalry is most striking. In the midst of engrossing
occupation he never ceased to cheer the old lady with gossip of his
doings, and even to argue with her, as on an affair of state, regarding
the advisability of Struve’s seltzer water as a remedy.

Of Queen Victoria’s affection for him I will only say that it was
because he treated her as a woman. She grew to lean on his wisdom and
his judgment. On more than one occasion he acted as mediator in her
family. He was sincerely attached to her. His witticism, when asked for
a reason of her favour, will bear repetition: “I never argue, I never
contradict, but I sometimes forget.”

His influence over the late Queen was more remarkable even than has
hitherto been disclosed. And in this regard I am able to state that,
while out of office, he negotiated with extreme tact, under delicate
circumstances, the peerage conferred on a most amiable prince, now
no more; and further, that at each stage of all its bearings Queen
Victoria consulted and deferred to his counsel, kindness, and resource.
I may add that he also devised a means of providing the same lamented
prince with an absorbing occupation.

He was a firm friend; loyalty he always extolled as a sovereign
virtue. Not many have the faculty for friendship in old age as Lord
Beaconsfield had it. His passion for mastery, his addiction to mystery
were rivalled by his immense faithfulness. If he was always “the man
of destiny,” he was also ever “faithful unto death.” And his real
friendships were warm as well as constant. While he was at Glasgow to
be inaugurated Lord Rector of its University, he heard good tidings of
an old associate. “Mrs. Disraeli and I,” he wrote, “were over-joyed,
and we danced a Highland fling in our nightgowns.” The picture raises a
smile,[26] but it also strikes an unexpected chord.

Of music and of art in general he was a devotee, as many passages
in his novels attest. He had his own theories of their influence on
composition and on literature. Murillo was his favourite painter,
Mozart his favourite composer. He ever deplored the insensibility
of the Government to the duty of elevating taste for the beautiful.
When the Blacas collection of gems was in the market at the price of
£70,000, the Administration of the day at first refused to entertain
the purchase, but Disraeli persuaded them by offering to find the money
himself, if they persisted. In this case, as in so many others (notably
that of the Suez Canal shares), imagination forwarded the public
interest; for this collection is now worth some threefold of what was
expended. When a great work by Raphael was offered to the Government,
and Disraeli’s colleagues were in doubt, Disraeli sent for the leading
dealer, in whose hands the commission had been placed, inspected the
picture himself, discoursed charmingly and critically of its merits,
with the result that it is now in the National Gallery. Since even
trifles about the eminent possess interest, I may add the following
story of his old age. He was showing a distinguished visitor (still
living) his family portraits at Hughenden. He paused before a pastel
of a lovely child wafted by seraphs through the skies. “That,” he
exclaimed, “is a pet picture; observe how exquisitely the draperies of
the angels are arranged. _The baby’s me!_” His fondness for beautiful
form extended to his own handwriting.

In matters of courtesy he was old-fashioned and punctilious. To the
last he resented that grotesque disfigurement which was beginning to
make manners ugly before he died. Even at an earlier date, “Manners are
easy,” said “Coningsby,” “and life is hard.” “And I wish to see things
exactly the reverse,” said “Lord Henry,” “the modes of subsistence less
difficult, the conduct of life more ceremonious.”

In his fiction it was often objected that he over-depicted great
splendour and supreme beauty; that it was thronged with “daughters” and
mansions “of the gods.” But, if he erred in these respects, it was from
familiarity and not from ostentation, as Lady John Manners has pointed
out at some length. “It must be recollected,” she wrote, thinking of
_Lothair_, “that many of those who most appreciated him, and whose
friendship he warmly reciprocated, are surrounded in daily life by
a certain amount of state which employs their dependants.” So, too,
with regard to the peaceful and prosperous marriages of those homes of
forty years ago on which he delighted to dwell. He loved the gentle
Buckinghamshire landscape, with its treasures of association in every
cranny, more than all the remembered luxuriance of the South and glare
of the East. And it should also be remembered that his works abound in
sympathetic descriptions of all kinds and conditions of men, including
the strangest and humblest. They were taken from personal observation,
and he himself would penetrate the queerest haunts to gain the most
curious insight. The common and the uncommon people fascinated him, for
in them he found ideas; the middling charmed him less. He delighted to
invest the seemingly commonplace with significance, and also to strip
the pretentiously important of its wonder. Not even Dickens, as I shall
hint hereafter, knew or loved his London better. I shall also, in the
proper place, touch on the exotic element in his style and accent.
Mr. John Morley has aptly compared it to Goethe’s dictum about St.
Peter’s, that, though it is _baroque_; it is always the expression of
something great and not merely grandiose. His big words are never for
little things. Undoubtedly some of his earliest works are deficient in
taste; and there is a certain fierce hardness in their abrupt violence.
Mrs. Austin advised him in omissions from the original manuscript
of _Vivian Grey_; it was to women that he owed his training in these
directions. His knowledge was vast and profound, and he exercised the
habit of pursuing long trains of thought in reflection. He seldom
worked at night, preferring that season for brooding over his ideas.
But at all times, contrary to the superficial opinion, he worked long
and hard, sometimes over ten hours a day. His gift of divination never
dimmed his passion for study, until old age and ill-health warned
him that it must pause. He never ceased to deplore the want of “that
boundless leisure which we literary men need.” To the last, as Lord
Iddesleigh has pointed out, he studied the Bible in the earliest hours.
In church attendance he was what Mr. Gladstone used to call a “oncer.”
He was a regular communicant.

By success he was never inflated, by reversals never depressed,
although by nature elastic.[27] It was not until 1874 that his
power became wholly unfettered, and then foreign crisis claimed the
attention that he longed to bestow on social improvements and Colonial
Confederation. His three previous spans of office had been equally
brief. For some twenty years he headed, at intervals, a despairing
Opposition, whose mistrustful murmurs had to be stilled, whose doubts
had to be dispelled, and the immense difficulties of whose management
he has graphically portrayed in a notable passage from his _Life of
Lord George Bentinck_. To the printed diatribes which assailed him he
was indifferent. In parliamentary generalship, demanding an infinite
insight and management, an instant recognition of movements in the
mass, and “creation of opportunity,” he was unsurpassed even by Peel,
who played on Parliament “as on an old fiddle.” To his urgent control
even so early as 1854, and when out of office, the correspondence with
Spencer Walpole affords a striking insight. “My dear Walpole,” he
writes on November 29 of that year, “remember to write to the Queen
if anything of interest happens to-night. Tell somebody, Harry Lennox
or another, to send me a bulletin by this messenger of what is taking
place, but not later than ten o’clock, as I shall retire early, that
being my only chance. Be positive that the financial statement will be
made on Friday.”[28]

What he really valued in power was its faculty of influence. Otherwise
it was bitter-sweet. He once told a high aspirant for high office, that
as for its _pleasures_, they lay chiefly in contrasting the knowledge
it afforded of what was really being done with the ridiculous chatter
about affairs in the circles that one frequented.

His wit, his brightness of humour, and lightness of touch, long
prevented many of his contemporaries from taking him seriously.
Literary statesmen are often belittled by their generation; imaginative
statesmen, always. They have usually to await a career after death. The
stereotyped character imposed on him till his pluck and power appealed
to the nation at large was largely due to the old Whigs (“oligarchy is
ever hostile to genius”[29]), who for years refused to regard him with
anything but amusement, yet whose drawing-rooms had been the readiest
to applaud those sparkling sallies of 1845 and 1846 that demolished the
premier whom they too wished to destroy; that coterie so long trained
to make popular causes preserve their exclusive power, and of whom he
wrote in 1833, “A Tory, a Radical, I understand; a Whig, a democratic
aristocrat, I cannot comprehend.” It was not due to the Peelites, who
frankly hated him as an open foe. Even the Liberals (many of whom he
counted as personal friends), when he warned them of the underground
rumblings, ominous of social earthquake in Ireland, shrugged their
shoulders; and when he was reported, glass in eye, to have answered a
duchess inquisitive about the exact date of the dissolution with “You
darling,” they split their sides, and guffawed, “There he is again!”
They agreed with his old family acquaintance, Bernal Osborne (if it
was he), to whom the heartlessness was attributed of saying, when Lord
Beaconsfield was stricken with his lingering illness, “Overdoing it, as
usual.”

And yet how interesting it is to find Disraeli in the Grant-Duff
diaries discoursing eagerly in the faint dawn on Westminster Bridge of
Lord John Russell. Perhaps Disraeli’s greatest admirer among opponents
was Cobden, and that admiration was warmly returned. Both of them
had one great virtue in common, and a rare one, especially in public
life--gratitude; and both could afford to be generous. Read the letter
now first disclosed by Mr. John Morley, whose literary appreciation of
Disraeli is manifest, in which Disraeli sought to win Gladstone with
“deign to be magnanimous.”

Disraeli’s own magnanimity--frankly owned by Mr. Gladstone--was
conspicuous though it is unfamiliar. During the decade of the ’fifties,
on at least four occasions[30] he offered to sacrifice his personal
position to Graham, Palmerston, and Gladstone successively for the
interests of his country and his party. In 1868 and 1869 he indignantly
defended the last against the carping “tail” of his supporters,
rebuking alike the “frothy spouters of sedition,” and those who
preferred remembrance of “accidental errors” to gratitude for “splendid
gifts and signal services.” His unstinted praise of worthy foes, his
conduct even towards the ostracised Dr. Kenealy, are constant proofs of
a leading _trait_. He always forebore to strike an opponent to please
the whim or the passion of the popular breeze.

_À propos_ of Mr. Gladstone, who himself paid a tribute to the absence
of rancour in his rival, I may be permitted to recall an anecdote
told me by the late Sir John Millais. When Disraeli stood (though
then suffering, he refused to _sit_) for his last portrait, his “dear
Apelles” noticed his gaze riveted on an engraving of the artist’s
fine portrait of the great premier. “Would you care to have it?” he
inquired. “I was rather shy of offering it to you.” “I should be
delighted to have it,” was the reply. “Don’t imagine that I have ever
disliked Mr. Gladstone; on the contrary, my only difficulty with him
has been _that I could never understand him_.” And Carlyle himself
thawed when Disraeli, whom he had so long hysterically abused, but
many of whose ideas, as I shall prove, he shared, offered him public
recognition in a letter which gave as a reason for uninheritable
honours, “I have remembered that you too, like myself, are childless.”
But Carlyle, who had aspersed him, never denied that he looked facts
in the face without mistaking phantoms for them. Even from the first
he owned length of view. In his old age a certain far-awayness of
expression was very noticeable.

I have mentioned Mr. Gladstone. It was well for England that two great
attitudes towards great questions should have been thrown into sharp
relief for nearly a score of years by the duel between two great
personalities; and it was also well for Disraeli that “England does
not love coalitions.” We know from Mr. Gladstone’s own lips that much
in his rival had won his respect, while from Mr. Morley we glean that
Mr. Gladstone even struggled with a sort of subacid liking for one whom
he too could “never comprehend.”[31] The letters of both after Lady
Beaconsfield’s death are refreshing instances of how sworn enemies of
the arena may grasp hands under the softening solemnity of bereavement,
and for a moment forget the hard words which, under irritation, they
certainly used of each other.

Disraeli was older than Gladstone, and had been early acquainted with
him. In the ’thirties he sat next to “young Gladstone” at the Academy
dinner, and regretted that he had been relegated from “the wits,” with
whom he had been ranged in the year previous, to “the politicians.”
In the ’forties Disraeli made one of his few mistakes in prognostic,
when he wrote to his sister, “I doubt if he has an ‘avenir’;” but the
significance of Gladstone’s resignation at this juncture on “Maynooth,”
and the peculiar circumstances of the Peelites must be borne in mind.
Disraeli could scarcely then divine the surprises of oscillation in
store.

Except in vigour of undaunted character, and in a sort of inward
loneliness, their qualities were opposed. The intensity of the one was
austere, imperious, imposing, and didactic; of the other, buoyant,
lively, and poignant. Frequently the flippancy of certain leaders
provoked his gravity; more frequently the solemnity of others upset
his own. Gladstone moved by violent reaction and hasty rebound;
Disraeli, by a spring of step, it is true, but of a step measured,
wary, and equal. Disraeli stamped himself on his age; it was often
the “Time-Spirit” that impressed itself on Mr. Gladstone, a list of
whose changeful “convictions”[32] from 1836 to 1896 might fill a small
volume. Again, Disraeli’s utterance left a stronger sense of reserve
power, of something serious behind the veil. Mr. Gladstone’s phases,
always sincere, in the main struck more the conscience of certain
sections; Disraeli’s ideas, the national feelings. Mr. Gladstone’s
subtleties were those of a theologian; they did not quicken the lay
mind. Disraeli’s were the subtleties of an artist; they put things in
new perspectives. It might be said that by nature and unconscious bent,
the one hid simplicity under the form of subtlety, while with the other
the process was the converse. In oratory, Mr. Gladstone convinced by
height and redundance of enthusiasm, by depth of feeling and weight or
wealth of words and gestures; Disraeli, more by grasp, incisiveness,
and point; his imagination played all round many sides of his subject.
Gladstone’s eloquence resembled the storminess and the mist of the
North Sea; Disraeli’s, the strange lights and shadows, the subtle and
tideless lustre of the Mediterranean. As Mr. Gladstone warmed to his
theme, he increased in eloquence; his perorations are always great.
It was in peroration that Disraeli sometimes failed, except in his
after-dinner speeches, which never missed fire from start to finish.

Mr. Gladstone was saturated, Disraeli tinctured, with the classics.
Mr. Gladstone was essentially the scholar, and he was Homeric, while
Disraeli was Horatian and Tacitean. His ready acquaintance with Latin
masterpieces was shown when he first took the oaths as Chancellor
of the Exchequer, and hit off a most happy quotation on the spur of
the moment; nor will it be forgotten that once, when he was citing a
classic in the House, he added, “Which, for the sake of the successful
capitalists around me, I will now try to translate.”

Again, despite Mr. Gladstone’s immense versatility, there was always
something cloistral about him. He himself confessed that till he was
fifty he did not “know the world.” I venture to doubt if he ever knew
it, and it was just this academic simplicity that so often led his huge
brain-power to deal with unsubstantial material.

Mr. Gladstone will not live through his books. He was far more a
writer than an author, though he was always distinguished in all his
undertakings. But he was doctrinaire; and he was almost devoid of any
real sense of humour. On the appearance of “Nicholas Nickleby” he
owned its merit, but singled out its pathos with the criticism that
he was grieved by the absence from it of the religious sentiment--“No
Church!” In this respect Disraeli and Gladstone were brought into
amusing contrast during the Bulgarian atrocity campaign. Mr. Gladstone
had characterised the Premier’s attitude as “diabolical.” Disraeli,
in a speech, referred to Mr. Gladstone’s having called him “a devil.”
Mr. Gladstone denied the impeachment, and asked for verse and chapter.
Disraeli rejoined by writing that “the gentlemen who so kindly assist
me in the conduct of public affairs” had used their best endeavours to
ascertain the precise time and place when the Prince of Darkness had
been named, but hitherto without success.

A famous bookseller, with whom both statesmen frequently conversed,
used to recount that Disraeli once inquired, as was his wont, what
of new interest was forthcoming. He mentioned one of Mr. Gladstone’s
Vatican pamphlets. “No,” was the answer; “please not that. Mr.
Gladstone is a powerful writer, but nothing that he writes is
literature.”

In the House of Commons Disraeli had schooled himself from the first
to conceal the emotions of a nature naturally quick and sensitive.
He early lit on two mechanical devices for this purpose: the one was
to stroke his knees regularly with his hand, the other to scan the
clock. When he was much angered it was only by a change of colour that
his agitation was ever betrayed. It must be confessed that he loved to
“draw” Mr. Gladstone, and those who remember how, when Disraeli sat
down and relapsed into impassivity, Mr. Gladstone jumped up with a look
of rage and a voice of thunder, will admit that both performances were
perfect. But the audience expected the scene which became habitual,
and even supreme actors are influenced by the expectation of their
audience. Neither Gladstone nor Disraeli ever stooped to ill-nature.
Great men are not petty. But the moral indignation of the one, and
the intellectual indignation of the other, which sometimes exchanged
places, lent the semblance of pique or of quarrel. Disraeli’s dislike
of spleen is well displayed by what he once said of Abraham Hayward,
the caustic reviewer: “If that man were to be run over in the streets,
you would see his venom swimming in the gutters.”

In debate, Disraeli’s characteristics were a quick readiness and an
inexhaustible power of diverting discussion to new channels and of
defeating expectation. The occasion when, in reply to Mr. Whalley
concerning the Jesuits, he answered that one of their pet devices was
to send over Jesuits in disguise to decry the Jesuits, will recur
to the memory. His power of literary illustration needs no comment.
Two brilliant instances are that of the boots of the Lion embracing
the chambermaid of the Boar in connection with the _Edinburgh_ and
_Quarterly Reviews_, and that charming one about the Abyssinian
expedition, where he reminded us that the standard of St. George was
flying over the mountains of Rasselas.[33] In retort he was supreme.
Two of the best instances are to be noted in the rejoinder to Peel
about “candid friends” and Canning, and in the pause he made when in
a much later speech he said, “I have never attacked any one” (cries
of “Peel”) “unless I was first assailed.” I shall relate some others
hereafter. His self-imposed impassiveness of demeanour in the House was
that of a sentinel on bivouac; it became exaggerated by the contrast
of his illustrious compeer’s extreme excitability. Disraeli was very
zealous for the honour of the House in which he passed the greater
portion of his life. On one occasion a young and violent adversary
insinuated that Disraeli had told a lie. Disraeli calmly cleared
himself to the general satisfaction, and his denouncer began to feel
uncomfortable; still more so when he was sent for to the great man’s
private room. What was his surprise when he was shaken warmly by the
hand. “We all make mistakes,” said Disraeli, “when we are young. But
please to remember all your life that the House of Commons is a house
of gentlemen.”

For sheer insight into the march of ideas and reach of vision there is
no comparison between the two. Even in the ’forties Disraeli perceived
that the coming choice lay between absolute democracy and a monarchical
democracy. Afterwards--in the early ’fifties, while monarchy in England
was still far from popular--he laid his plans--as is apparent from
his contributions to his organ, _The Press_, in 1853--to popularise
monarchy and educate democracy before enfranchising it; and, not
till that was accomplished, to re-imperialise Great Britain. “He has
not,” he wrote in 1853 of Lord John Russell, “comprehended that for
the last twenty years the choice is between the maintenance of those
institutions and habits of thought which preserve monarchy, and that
gradual change into absolute democracy to which Tocqueville somewhere
rashly considered all the tendencies of our age impel the destinies
of Europe.... The Whigs should have been conservative of the reformed
constitution, and have developed it....”[34] While Gladstone was
refining a rather tortuous conscience into making the forlorn Peelites
alternate between the Conservatives and the Whigs, Disraeli was
reconstructing and developing a national party. While Gladstone and
Sidney Herbert, in righteous indignation at Peel’s memory, were enraged
at the delinquency of not struggling for absolute protection when the
Derby Ministry assumed office, Disraeli showed that the _principle_ of
his struggle (continued as regarded the sugar repeal) had been land
and labour. He must now benefit these by alleviations, rather than, as
a responsible Minister, attempt an upheaval of what the nation had
finally endorsed, and set private opinion as to particular measures at
variance with the possibility of government at all. Had he done so he
would have been doing what Fox himself had not attempted with regard
to Catholic emancipation, what Lord John Russell had not thought of
in 1847, what no responsible Minister could have compassed, and what,
Lord John Russell added, the Whigs could not do in 1835. And yet, out
of sheer honest hatred, he was vilified by those “high and stubborn
spirits who, with the severity peculiar to those censors who cannot
aspire to be consuls, refuse to acknowledge that there could be any
virtue of necessity, ... and could not enlarge their comprehension of
the requisites of a statesman beyond quotations from ‘Hansard.’ There
were surely some juster thinkers in the House of Commons who must have
trembled at the doctrine that men in office are rigidly to carry out
the opinions they proposed in opposition.”[35] That, he points out, is
the function of opposition, and the duty of supporting opinions which a
nation has cancelled never arises unless those opinions have sent you
to office. As he puts it, “Themis is the goddess of opposition, but
Nemesis sits in Downing Street.” In the overthrow of Peel lay a very
different moral, and by that overthrow he wished to lay bare the choice
between “Liberal opinions” and “popular principles,” between Peel’s
sudden adoption of the “physical enjoyment” theory of regeneration and
his own. By that destruction he eventually ended the Whigs and Peelites
alike, and set before the country the true choice that awaited it,
instead of the perplexity of parties[36] which, joined to detestation
of himself, caused the coalition of 1853 and prevented the contrast of
the ideas which really divided the minds of men from being prominent in
true proportions.

As a practical statesman, Disraeli thought more of those moral elements
by which the State can square private duty with public interest;
Gladstone, more of those elements above and beyond conduct. Gladstone
was perhaps more of an apostle, Disraeli of a seer. Gladstone owned a
noble heart with lofty spiritual standards, and an enormous quality of
moral resentment; but his Church views coloured his life as much as
his religious convictions, while his minute and perplexing scruples
too often changed the forms of his enthusiasms, led zeal to chime with
prejudice, and sometimes sent him astray altogether into self-deception.

Gladstone was a strange compound of diverse elements--of Highlander and
Lowlander, of Scotland, Liverpool, Oxford, and Italy. In some respects
he might even be termed the Dante of politics; but in others he was
occasionally deemed its Ignatius Loyala. Disraeli, on the other hand,
depended on his singular force of independence and of native sight
and foresight. Those who admired the early Gladstone as Sir Galahad
never wished him to sit on the seat of Merlin; nay, Gladstone himself
perpetually deemed Disraeli, Machiavelli, or even Cagliostro. In
relation to Disraeli, Gladstone would have perhaps addressed England
with “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you?” while Disraeli
might have retorted by the witticism of Sarah, Duchess of Marborough,
on the eagerness of James the Second to drag his country to heaven with
him. It was just Disraeli’s originality and length of view that caused
him to be maligned as well as misunderstood, though by some his conduct
towards Peel was not unnaturally eyed askance. And yet, in Mr. Morley’s
“Life,” Lord John Russell is to be found vindicating his own share
in that transaction,[37] and Sir James Graham himself admitting that
Peel provoked what he suffered.[38] In the eyes of many, Gladstone
was Homer’s “old man of the sea” trying to hold Proteus, and yet none
proved more Protean through enlarging aspirations than “the old man”
himself. Perhaps Gladstone regarded the world more as the “Pilgrim’s
Progress,” Disraeli more as “Vanity Fair.” Gladstone had more sail,[39]
Disraeli more ballast. The one floated on waves of agitation, the other
desired a strong government by steadying the people and attaching them
to institutions. Moreover, Gladstone constantly viewed the State from
the standpoint of his particular Church opinions. Disraeli believed
that the principle of the Revolution had never been perfected by the
due development of popular institutions. He agreed with Pym that “the
best form of government is that which doth dispose and actuate _every_
part and member of a State to the common good.”

Disraeli owned, of course, his foibles, though he was too proud ever
to be very vain. As we shall find later on, when I come to his faults
of temperament, his grasp of ideas occasionally pressed them too
literally both on life and letters. He tended to overstrain his lights
and shadows. His imagination sometimes ran riot in its colours, and
throughout tended to exaggerate the forms of events, though hardly
ever their significance, which he was often the first to divine. He is
said to have cherished some superstitions about lucky days and unlucky
colours, but for these I cannot vouch. I can, however, for the fact
that he was once seen by intimates to wear a green velvet smoking-coat,
though one of the few occasions on which he troubled the newspapers
was to refute the slander of having, when young, appeared in green
trousers.[40] And here I may perhaps be pardoned for inserting a
slight story about Mrs. Disraeli, which comes from the same source as
the last. Dr. Guthrie was once staying at Grosvenor Gate, and invited
his hostess to visit him at Glasgow. “I will,” she smiled, “if you
will promise to wear your kilt in the streets.” “Perhaps I will,”
he replied, with hesitation. “You had better be careful, Guthrie,”
interposed Disraeli, “for that woman, I assure you, means what she
says.”

In taste and in phrase he was naturally extravagant, but his epigrams
were never for the sake of paradox, and were always the summaries
of wisdom and reflection. They were light, not frivolous; they
were imaginative proverbs. There never was a wittier man, and his
wit lent itself to his ironic humour. He loved effects that struck
imagination, but ever for a crucial purpose. It was said of him by
an intimate that one of his sentences--and in conversation he was
sparing--left more behind than a long talk with others of consummate
talent. As for the scathing sarcasm--his weapon of self-defence during
his earlier stages--at times over-savage and belying his normal
cheeriness--sobriety of judgment is compatible with--

      “The stinging of a heart the world hath stung.”

But, undoubtedly, the too quick transitions of a susceptible fancy
from--

      “Grave to gay, from lively to severe,”

often irritated and even offended not only the dull, but the serious.
And yet in life, as in literature, is there more than one step in the
descent from the sublime to the ridiculous?

Like all celebrated wits, he suffered both from the ascription of his
own _bons mots_ to others, and from those of others being fathered
upon him. Thus the “without a redeeming vice” (about Lord Hatherley)
was his, not Westbury’s, while the “dinner all cold except the ices,”
was said not by him, but by Sir David Dundas. His pithy sentences were
simply one manifestation of his naturally laconic turn of mind.

He was occasionally over-adroit, especially in his desire to gain
distinguished recruits for his party; and he sometimes, perhaps,
magnified the machinations of secret conspiracies, although their
hidden tyranny was gauged by him with unerring instinct. His
predilection both in art and nature was for extremes. Full of
atmosphere himself, he owned the social nerves which suffer overmuch
from lack of it in others. He detested bores, those masterpieces of
nature’s bad art. One of them (if I may say so without disrespect to
his kindness and amiability, since departed) has told with artless
humour how at one of the last dinner-parties that Lord Beaconsfield
attended, he engaged him in conversation, but was pained to notice
how ill and absent he seemed. Suddenly, however, on the arrival of a
distinguished guest, a Russian diplomatist, the great man brightened
and grew young again, as if by miracle!

After his elevation to the peerage,[41] when he would often revisit the
“glimpses of the moon,” and watch new members with rapt interest, on
one occasion he listened patiently to a long speech of ideal dreariness
from the lips of one unknown to him. He inquired, as usual, who the
speaker was, and learned that Mr. ---- had no other peculiarity but
deafness. “Poor fellow!” he sighed, “and yet he seems unaware of his
natural advantages. He cannot hear himself speak.”

Of Disraeli’s attitude towards fashionable society, as well as towards
that which really fascinated him, I shall say more in my eighth
chapter; but one incident of his old age must be presented here. I
can vouch for it, since it was told me by an eye-witness--a political
opponent.

It was after “Peace with honour”[42]--after he had “descended from
the Teutonic chariot,” after the congress where he discovered the
alternative Russian map of Bulgaria, concealed by diplomacy, where
he earned Bismarck’s undying praise and admiration. The scene was a
magnificent reunion in an historic mansion. All the fine flower of
society was gathered in a galaxy of splendour and of grandeur. In one
of the saloons a brilliant crowd was awaiting Lord Beaconsfield’s
entry. As the big doors opened, a thrill went through them. Haughty
ladies in the feeling of the moment made obeisance as if to royalty,
while that pale figure with the inscrutable smile passed along their
serried ranks. Unmoved and immovable, he went straight forward, his
eyes fixed on the future, scarcely conscious of their presence, except
for his recognition of their homage.

Such are some of his leading features. They combine and reconcile the
seeming contradictions of a nature at once calm and impetuous, deep
and light, astute and far-seeing in affairs of importance; in trifles,
careless. These contrasts, united by genius, pursue the forms of his
mind--his ideas. He was, of course, no monster of consistency, but the
ideas that animated his actions and utterance sprang from a singularly
consistent outlook and a most definite personality. In every case they
were the outcome on the one hand of his race, on the other of his
nationality. The antithesis between nationality and mere race is most
important, and too often ignored. There is no such thing as a nation
of a single strain. The national idea is the fusion of reconcilable
races, the creation of an artificial and ideal individuality, of a
consolidating pattern; the absorption of discordant races and their
replacement by a central idea which subordinates instinct to society.
Later civilisation means little else, if we reflect, than a gradual
process of this description; and it is not a little curious that the
distinctive greatness of English literature is largely due to the
admission and naturalisation of foreign influences--to England’s free
trade in ideas, to the openness of her literary ports. What would it
have proved had it remained purely insular; if Italy, France, and
Germany had not infused both form and spirit; above all, if it had not
been inspired by the noble rhythm of the Englished Bible and by the
supreme models of Greece and Rome? Disraeli’s wit, which is to find a
due consideration hereafter, is half eighteenth century in form, half
talmudic. The shape of his ideas was also partly determined by the time
of his birth and by the circumstances of his home.

He was born at the parting of the ways. His early reading, and,
indeed, his cast of mind, were steeped in the style of the eighteenth
century; but the movements of the nineteenth, the significance of
the French Revolution and of Napoleon, who had made all things new,
simmered in him from the first, and his earliest reflections were how
to attune the democratic idea to the vital institutions of an ancient
empire. As regards his home, he was truly, as he has put it, “born in
a library;” and this circumstance contributed as much as others to
a certain detachment of thought which in politics afforded him the
clue to the character of movements, and, above all, to the movements
of character; in fiction, as will be apparent from my ninth chapter,
it led him to regard things as they appeared of themselves, and not
always as they seemed to others; while under the play of fancy he
transposed their outward environments to accentuate their essence. Of
his father, himself a most interesting study, I shall have more to say
in my eighth chapter. Here, I only wish to draw attention to the fact
that Isaac Disraeli’s influence on his son’s ideas was twofold. On
the one hand, his views on “predisposition,” on the use of solitude,
on the true meaning of education, on historical “cause and pretext,”
on the hollowness of “joint-stock felicity,” on the self-recognition
of creative minds before their late acknowledgment by contemporaries,
with others glanced at in my later chapters, were directly derived by
Disraeli from his father. From him, too, he inherited his fondness for
Burke. On the other hand, Disraeli’s native leanings reacted against
many of that peripatetic philosopher’s opinions. His interpretation
of the Bible was, if not at variance with, at any rate different
from his father’s,[43] and was, I fancy, shared by his sister. His
admiration for Bolingbroke, as genius and constitutional interpreter,
was in direct opposition, just as that father’s own dispassionate
outlook remained independent and often the reverse of his own early
associations. Byron, however, entered Disraeli’s mental being through
his father; and of three main influences on his boyhood--the Bible,
Bolingbroke, and Byron (strange conjunction!), the last was not the
least.

Outside politics, the contradictions combined in Disraeli’s mind are
patent throughout his fiction, and they were reconciled by his leading
idea that everything great in the world springs from individuality
alone. Thus, for example, as regards Destiny, he was both for free
will and fatalism--the individual will was for him the universal fate.
If a man, he has said, is ready to die for an object, he must attain
it unless he has utterly miscalculated his powers. Then again, the
twin sympathies of his mind, both with antique authority and modern
revolution, its bias towards the Chartism of _Sybil_, the chivalry of
her aristocratic deliverer, and the discipline of her time-honoured
creed, towards the noble personality of “Theodora” in _Lothair_ (his
finest heroine),[44] and the noble ideals of “Coningsby”--these are
reconciled by the national idea, the idea that sets earned privilege
and reciprocal duties above and against illimitable and irresponsible
“rights.” “Conspiracies are for aristocrats, not for nations.”

In this regard it is most interesting to observe the influence of
Shelley on Disraeli--a subject which has been treated by Dr. Richard
Garnett in a masterly monograph.[45] From many of his conclusions I
dissent, but his facts are most enlightening, and form an entrancing
comment on the character of “Herbert” in _Venetia_. He shows that
probably through Trelawny, whom he met often at Lady Blessington’s,
Disraeli gleaned many recollections and even thoughts and words,
unpublished till the Shelley Papers were given to the world some
years afterwards; that his description too of the ethereal poet as
“a golden phantom” is probably Trelawny’s own; that subtle shades of
admiring appreciation are to be traced throughout; that Disraeli was
undoubtedly influenced by Shelley’s thoughts. The discovery of these
in some portions of the _Revolutionary Epick_ (where “Demogorgon”
is introduced) does not seem to me conclusive; nor are the verbal
resemblances singled out for comparison very striking. I cannot close
this branch of my subject without noticing a fact almost unknown.
In 1825, when Disraeli was a stripling, he published an anonymous
pamphlet, which may be found in the British Museum, on the restrictions
enforced by the Government upon the British working of American mines.
The tract is boldly dedicated “by a sincere admirer” to Canning,[46]
as “one who has reformed without bravery or scandal of former times or
persons; asking counsel of both times; _of the ancient times that which
is best, of the modern times, that which is fittest_;” and it further
contains this remarkable passage, if we remember its date, about
America--

“... The prosperity of England mainly depends upon its relations with
America, and in proportion as the energies of America are developed and
her resources strengthened, will the power and prosperity of England be
confirmed and increased.”

In the domain of politics Disraeli, as I shall show at length, divined
in the national institutions the chief engine for the revival of unity
and for social regeneration. When he denounced the Conservatism of the
early ’forties as an “organised hypocrisy,” he did so just because, as
it seemed to his eyes, the hopes once centred on Peel as the restorer
of a truly “national” party were being shattered by his failure, under
ordeal, to govern, to develop the institutions which he was called
on to preserve, by his erection of “registration” into a party idol,
by his policy of polls, by his cold indifference and suspicion of
the youthful regenerators, who confronted the middle classes with
the middle ages. “Whenever,” indignantly urged Disraeli in 1845,
“whenever the young men of England allude to any great principle of
political or parliamentary conduct, are they to be recommended to go
to a railway committee?” And he found in his once chief’s temperament
of discouraging formality and timorous desire for “fixity of tenure,”
for _staying_ power, a reason for the stultification of the House of
Lords: “... It is not Radicalism; it is not the revolutionary spirit
of the nineteenth century which has consigned ‘another place’ to
illustrious insignificance; it is ‘Conservatism’ and a Conservative
dictator.”

Disraeli was one born with aristocratic perceptions, yet with a bent
“popular” rather than “democratic” in the strict sense of those
terms. “Democracy” in the concrete he considered as the unsettlement
of compact nationality through the undue preponderance of a single
class; democracy in the abstract he considered as a lever for ambitious
tribunes. But the welfare of the people was ever his chief concern,
and he knew full well that it is constantly foiled by the side-aims
of those vociferous on its behalf. When he first appeared on the
political horizon, neither of the great historical parties owned
popular sympathies. The Tories dreaded “Radicalism” because they were
blind to the possibilities of its adoption into the order of the
State. Of the Whigs, democratic enthusiasms were at once the tools and
the abhorrence. Disraeli determined to infuse them into those free
yet settled institutions of which the Tories were the natural but
forgetful guardians. His main purpose from the outset was to implant
the new ideas of freedom on the ancient soil of order; to engraft them
productively without uprooting the native undergrowth; to harmonise the
modern democratic idea with those English traditions which had always
harboured its older forms. His work was to accommodate federal to
feudal principles; to render democracy in England national and natural;
to popularise leadership; to make democracy aristocratic in the truest
sense of the term; to undo the closed aristocracy of caste and to
revive the open aristocracy of excellence wherever displayed. My next
two chapters investigate this idea; and it will be found afterwards,
when I discuss his notion of empire and his attitude towards our
colonies, that his ideals of Great Britain’s destiny and responsibility
flow straight from this ruling outlook. The same consideration applies
to the many other problems which I shall discuss in the light of
Disraeli’s relations to them. Throughout, in one form or another, and
in many applications, the free play of responsible individuality forms
the keynote. He constantly opposes it alike to the barren uniformity
of republican models, and to the centralising dictatorship whether of
groups or of tyrants. He contrasts the personal with the mechanical.
The State in his eyes should prove the sympathetic expression of the
whole community. These aspects will find ample exposition hereafter. In
this place I wish only to quote their bold and broad emphasis in the
unfamiliar pamphlet of _What is he?_ with one citation from which I
opened this chapter. It will explain those passages in his _Runnymede
Letters_ and _The Spirit of Whiggism_, where he expects and adjures
Peel to head a “national party” and to replace confederacies by a
creed. It will also illustrate that passage in the election address to
High Wycombe during 1832, which preludes his mission as the renewer of
a popular Conservatism. “... Englishmen, behold the unparalleled empire
raised by the heroic energies of your fathers, rouse yourselves in this
hour of doubt and danger, rid yourselves of all that political jargon
and factious slang of Whig and Tory, two names with one meaning, used
only to delude you, and unite in forming a great national party....”

“The first object of a statesman,” he says (and he was then barely
twenty-nine years of age), “is a _strong Government_, without which
there can be no security. Of all countries in the world, England most
requires one, since the prosperity of no society so much depends upon
public confidence as that of the British nation.”

He then declares that the old principle of exclusion (common alike to
the Whig oligarchs and the debased Toryism of Eldon) is dead.

“... The moment the Lords passed the Reform Bill from menace instead
of conviction, the aristocratic principle of government in this
country, in my opinion, expired for ever.” The democratic principle
becomes necessary to maintain a Government at all. “If the Tories,” he
continues, “indeed despair of restoring the aristocratic principle, and
are sincere in their avowal that the State cannot be governed with the
present machinery, it is their duty to coalesce with the Radicals,[47]
and permit both political nicknames to merge into the common, the
intelligible, and the dignified title of a national party.”[48]

He proceeds to prove in a few decisive strokes that the towns are now
the safeguards against any military invasion of rights, and that a
coalition between the then Whigs and the then Tories is impossible;
the only alternative, therefore, is the inclusion of the democratic
principle.

“Without being a system-monger,” he resumes, repeating the refrain
of his previous _Revolutionary Epick_, “I cannot but perceive that
the history of Europe for three hundred years has been a transition
from feudal to federal principles.” If not their origin, these
contending principles have blended with all the struggles that have
occurred.--“The revolt of the Netherlands impelled, if it did not
produce, our revolution against Charles I. That of the Anglo-American
colonies impelled, if it did not produce, the Revolution in France.”
“This,” he says, “is not a party pamphlet, and appeals to the passions
of no order of the State.” “It is wise,” he concludes, “to be sanguine
in public as well as in private life; yet the sagacious statesman
must view the present portents with anxiety, if not with terror. It
would sometimes appear that the loss of our colonial empire must be
the necessary consequence of our prolonged domestic discussions. Hope,
however, lingers to the last. In the sedate but vigorous character of
the British nation we may place great confidence.” The very pressing
unsettlement of those days will afterwards claim a mention; nor should
I now omit Disraeli’s sentence in his _Crisis Examined_, to the effect
that “Lord Grey refusing the Privy Seal and Lord Brougham soliciting
the Chief Barony” were “two epigrammatic episodes in the history of
reform that never can be forgotten.”

Mr. John Morley has well observed that about all Disraeli’s utterance
there was something spacious. The ideas that I am about to examine
are not to be brushed away by the sneers of triflers. Whatever may
be thought of them, and however they may fairly be encountered by
criticism, dissented from or condemned by judgment, they are still
alive. Disraeli bathed the political landscape in a large and luminous
atmosphere. To literature, as I shall hope to show, he lent a fresh and
original charm. Over existence he never ceased to spread the glow of
endeavour, of aspiration, and of purpose. His heart was with the youth
and the labour of England. He made for the strength and union of every
divergent class. He struck and stirred the national imagination.

Disraeli’s sincerity was that of a master in the world’s studio,
imbuing the fainter shapes around him with the vivid colours of the
true pictures in his own brain. It was that, also, of a great man of
action who translates dreams into deeds. It is not often that the
literary mind is allied to a practical bent. He himself has reminded us
that such an union--“as in the case of Caius Julius”--is irresistible.
He was always himself, and never under “the dangerous sympathy with the
creations of others.” He believed that “every man performs his office,
and there is a Power, greater than ourselves, that disposes of all
this.”[49]

Disraeli’s European prominence is evidenced through the space occupied
by the polyglot literature relating to him in the book catalogue alone
of the British Museum. It extends to eleven of those huge pages. His
importance at home before he became pre-eminent is shown by a shower of
virulent abuse.

Science assures us that the difference between life and death is
that the former holds the powers of growth and reproduction, while
inanimateness is incapable of either. A great man is surely one who
possesses and imparts these qualities of life. Disraeli, without
question, powerfully affected the thought of his generation and the
destinies of the future.



CHAPTER II

DEMOCRACY AND REPRESENTATION


I wish to head this chapter by a most striking passage hitherto
unquoted. It occurs in the fourth of Disraeli’s Letters to the Whigs,
published in the first numbers of _The Press_--an organ founded by him
in 1853 for the exposition of his views.[50] It unites the brilliance
of his youth to the ripeness of his prime. It is a wonderful forecast
of the future, and it embodies his ideas at a time when the “Coalition”
alliance of Peelites, Whigs, and Manchester Radicals--one of “suspended
opinions”--was entering on the career which closed so disastrously. In
1833, the “aristocratic” principle had been crippled. The problem now
was how to bring the new democracy into line with an old monarchy--

“... I see before me a numerous and powerful party, animated by chiefs
whose opinions in favour of all that can advance the cause of pure
democracy have been openly proclaimed. Amongst that party no doubt
there are some more moderate than others, some who march blindfold
towards the goal which those of bolder vision see clear through the
mists of faction. But all unite in the march of the caravan towards
the heart of the desert; and if there be those who then discover that
the fountain which allures them on is but the mirage, it will be too
late to return, and it will be destruction to pause.... If England
is to retain that empire which she owes to no natural resources, but
to the various influences of a most complicated and artificial, but
most admirable and effective social system, _she must gather into one
united phalanx all who hold the doctrine that England, to be safe,
must be great_. To continue free, _she must rest upon the intermediate
institutions that fence round monarchy, as the symbol of executive
force, from that suffrage of unalloyed democracy_ which represents the
invading agencies of legislative change. Our system of policy must be
opposed to all those who by rules of arithmetic would reduce the empire
on which the sun never sets to the isle of the Anglo-Saxon, and leave
our shores without defence against a yet craftier Norman. Our measures
of reform must be so framed as to gain all the purposes of good
government, yet to admit under the name of reform no agency that tends
by its own inevitable laws to the explosion of the machinery whose
operations you pretend it will economise and quicken.

“By what plausible arguments were the dwellers in the Piræus admitted
to vote in the Athenian assembly?... Hence from that moment arose the
dictator and the demagogue, ... the flatterer and the tyrant of mobs;
hence, the rapid fluctuations, the greedy enterprises, the dominion
of the have-nots, the ruin of the fleet, the loss of the colonies,
the thirty tyrants, the vain restoration of a hollow freedom ...
licence--corruption--servitude--dissolution. Give the popular assembly
of Great Britain up to the _controlling_ influence of the _lowest_
voters in large towns, and you have brought again a Piræus to destroy
your Athens.”

We shall see ere the close how he foiled the schemes for representing
the refuse of opinion.

       *       *       *       *       *

A great statesman is a man inspired by great ideas; and, since all
history is the visible and particular development of unseen and
universal ideas, it must happen that a great statesman versed in
experience and intuition forecasts and foreknows. For the prophet is
the inverted historian or philosopher: he descries the currents ahead
which the other analyses in retrospect. “To be wise before the event,”
urged Disraeli more than once, “is statesmanship of the highest order.”

Throughout the preceding century two broad aspects of politics, that
is to say of applied national energy, present themselves in England.
They were and remain divergent, but they are and remain mutually
instructive and indispensable.

The one regards our kingdom as an elastic society, the outcome of
native habits expressing national temperament; as a soil of distinctive
character and capacity, to which new plants, if destined to flourish,
must be acclimatised, but on to which, or against which, they must
never be forced.

The other--the “philosophic” school--regards the soil as a mere medium
to be exhaustively manured by chemical processes for the introduction
of growths of every origin, as a sort of “subtropical garden.” It
perceives an idea suitable to other communities or other conjunctures,
and immediately hastens to transplant it. In like manner it perceives
an institution suitable to the race and temper of England, but
unsuitable to some alien race and temper. It is at once for forcible
adoption. It prefers the rigid logic of abstract notions to the
flexibilities of human nature. Its attitude is mechanical instead of
being sympathetic.

The one is in its essence national; the other, if we reflect,
international. The aim of the one is the evolution of individuality
embodied in a nation; that of the other, the ultimate effacement of
nations, and their replacement by cosmopolitanism.

These are the logical issues of each system. With the former Burke
identified himself, when he recoiled from following his party into
the anti-national abstractions of the French Revolution. With the
latter Mr. Gladstone identified himself, when he broke loose from the
national idea, and advocated the “right” of every small community
to “govern” itself. The one depends on popular privileges and class
responsibilities evenly distributed--the outcome of national treaty
and compromise, the tact born of struggle, not of upheaval. The other
hinges on inherent “rights,” which are infinite, ubiquitous, abstract,
and indefinite.

Of the former, from first to last, Disraeli, like Canning before him,
was a fearless exponent. “Change,” he said in his famous Edinburgh
speech of 1867, “is inevitable, but the point is whether that change
shall be caused only in deference to the manners, the customs, the
laws, the traditions of the people, or whether it shall be carried
in deference to abstract principles and arbitrary and general
doctrines.... The national system, although it may occasionally
represent the prejudices of a nation, never injures the national
character, while the philosophic system, though it may occasionally
improve ... the condition of the country, precipitates progress, may
occasion revolution and destroy states....” His attitude to the repeal
of the Corn Laws depended, as I shall prove in another chapter, on this
dominant idea. It is in close connection with that idea of personality
which I have already characterised, for nationality is itself the
ideal personality which combines races in communion. It is also in
close connection with that mode of government which seeks salvation
from society and not from the State; and it is bound up with all the
characteristics that distinguish a “nation” from a “people.” Disraeli’s
achievement was to adjust the spirit of England to the spirit of the
age.

Our two parties are, after all, only the strategical forces in the
big campaign of ideas. Without great generals they constantly tend to
forget the issues which nominally enlist them.

At the period when Disraeli first stood on the hustings, “Reform” had
been forced on the Whigs by the “Radicals,” just as “Repeal” was to be
forced some twelve years later on the Conservatives by the Cobdenites.
To be a “Radical” committed one to neither of the legitimate camps.
The Whigs had entered on their kingdom after long years of hopeless
exclusion. They were bent on engrossing office, and none detested the
new-fangled doctrines more than Lord Grey. Disraeli’s purpose from the
very first was to widen and popularise Toryism, but never to maintain
the exclusive system of the Whigs in power by the popular machinery to
which they so often resorted. In a purged and quickened Conservatism
lurked irresistible possibilities, true benefit to the nation and
empire at large, and a golden occasion for himself.

I think that if the oil could have blent with the vinegar, if Peel
could ever have coalesced with Lord John Russell, Disraeli would
have had less chance in politics, and must have been thrown back on
literature.

His consistency stands out prominent in review. It is one of ideas.
It is only by dint of long retrospect over a whole career that we can
decide in the case of any statesman whether he has controlled his
phases, or drifted with them.

From the first Disraeli compassed his reconciliation of new ideas
with ancient institutions on definite principles, at once national
and constructive, as opposed to destructive and international
theories. He desired it through engraftment, not uprootal; through
the defence and development of a constitution which is, in fact, the
British _character_ expressed by the modulations of the national
voice, and not by the shouts of mechanical majorities. He wished in
every case to preserve its efficiency by strengthening its tone and
enlarging its vents; while, in the process, he displayed an insight
into the instincts of classes which the conversance of genius with
ideas can alone empower. Of modern, of cosmopolitan “Liberalism,” he
said, as late as 1872, that its drift and spirit were “to attack the
institutions of the country under the name of reform, and to make war
on the manners and customs of the people of this country under the
pretext of progress.”

What then were the “new ideas” and the “old institutions”?

That form of government which is most national will be best, because
the least liable to sudden and social revolutions; and that form will
be most national which is most genuinely representative; while true
representation is one of power distributed, not centred. It follows
that any Government that does not mirror the nation will break down.
This was the real meaning of the French Revolution.

“... ‘You will observe one curious trait,’ said Sidonia to Coningsby,
‘in the history of this country--the depository of power is always
unpopular. As we see that the Barons, the Church, and the King have in
turn devoured each other, and that the Parliament, the last devourer,
remains, it is impossible to resist the impression that this body also
is doomed to be destroyed.’--‘Where then would you look for hope?’--‘In
what is more powerful than laws and institutions, and without which
the best laws and the most skilful institutions may be a dead letter
and the very means of tyranny, in the national character. It is not
in the increased feebleness of its institutions that I see the peril
of England; it is in the decline of its character as a community....
You may have a corrupt Government and a pure community; you may
have a corrupt community and a pure Administration. Which would you
elect?’--‘Neither,’ said Coningsby, ‘I wish to see a people full of
faith, and a Government full of duty.’”

Are the modern ideas of untempered democracy--Carlyle’s “despair of
finding any heroes to govern you”--compatible with real representation,
as contrasted with the mechanism of elective systems or the shams of
paper constitutions? Can these ideas ever prove expressive of true
nationality--the _character_ of a united people--as opposed to the
conflicting instincts of unreconciled races, or the factious claims of
divergent groups? Is not the mechanical subordination to the “State”
of Socialism hostile to an individual “nationality”? How, in the
ferment of modern progress, can the new wine be prevented from bursting
the old bottles? How can government and free action, independence
and inter-dependence, be allied in living reality? How can opinion
be organised into allegiance to leadership? How can traditions be
rendered less formal? How can discipline and development, authority
and elasticity, combine? How can the machinery of national custom be
brought into real accord with popular aspirations, and the mainstay of
character with the modern speed of movement? “Certainly,” as Carlyle
insisted, “it is the hugest question ever heretofore propounded to
mankind.”

In the proem to the _Revolutionary Epick_, Disraeli says that the
French Revolution marks the greatest political crisis since the Siege
of Troy. The paroxysm of that Revolution produced two hollow fictions,
the “Rights of Man” and “the Sovereignty of the People.”

Before illustrating the train of Disraeli’s ideas, let me touch on
these two doctrines.

_The Rights of Man._ What is the real meaning of a dogma which
annihilates the duties of citizens in declaring the licence of their
“rights;” in affirming personal claims as distinguished from popular
or legal privileges; in destroying the community by exalting the person?

It was based on Rousseau’s figment of a “Return to Nature.”

All “Returns to Nature” are, if we reflect, a harking back to chaos,
a denial of the whole self-developing social state which God has
ordained for man. They are the protests of instinct against order, of
“the People” against “the Nation,” of isolation against fusion, of
“naturalism” against “spiritualism.” One way or the other, they signify
relapses into brute force and animal conflict.

Rousseau’s “Return” was a _sentimental_ one, for sentimentality
often attends materialism. The best side of Rousseau was that he
did undoubtedly leaven the irreverence of his generation with some
feeling for God. But Rousseau invented a past on which he founded his
hopefulness of sensibility--an inverted optimism. He cried aloud in
hysterics, “Man is born free; everywhere he is in chains.” To what
freedom was man born? The freedom of confusion. The order that he
evolves is the parent of his true freedom--the freedom to work and
serve, and to receive justice. The real “Rights of Man” are the rights
to justice that order creates. And if that order belies its name,
and injustice, disorder, masquerade as divine government, why then
Fifth-Monarchy men, French Revolutions, ruining cataclysm, witness
to the heavenly destinies, and order is born once more. Rousseau’s
sobs resembled those of the hero of French melodrama, who under stage
moonshine and stage misfortune, always ejaculates, “Ma mère!” His mere
emotion worked on nerves of sterner fibre and facts of harder quality.

Since Disraeli’s death, Nietzsche has propounded a physical “Return to
Nature,” which, however, excludes the humanitarian side of the French
“Equality.” He has sighed for a gigantic brood of antediluvian anarchs.
He has tried to make anarchy heroic. But a monster is not even a man,
still less a hero.

All such systems must fail, because, as Disraeli has finely said, “Man
is born to adore and to obey.” They contradict the spiritual facts
of our structure. For the true Right of Man is to lead wisely and be
led loyally in public affairs; neither to steal nor be stolen from
in private. These are what Carlyle terms his “correctly articulated
_mights_.” Leadership, loyalty, and social honesty belong to no “state
of nature” of which record or even guess is possible. And Disraeli
agreed with Carlyle when the latter wrote, after the former had in
effect said the same: “... ‘Supply and demand’ we will honour also; and
yet how many ‘demands’ are there, entirely indispensable, which have to
go elsewhere than to the shops!”

But Nietzsche’s theories are luckily untranslatable into action, and
inconsistent with any form of the “state.” Rousseau’s theories, on
the other hand, are the more dangerous because they are feasible. The
“Rights of Man” is a doctrine absolutely at issue with the “Rights of
Nations.” The abstract notion of universal “rights” is also at variance
with the pressing impulses of physical “wants.” Low wages and long
hours are not redressed by the apparatus of ballot-boxes or the cant
of independence. Physical needs due to economical causes, which can be
modified only by the earnest statesmanship of leaders rising to their
responsibilities, are not to be dismissed by the vague generalities of
“moral force.” This aspect is powerfully emphasised in _Sybil_.

“... Add to all these causes of suffering and discontent among the
workmen the apprehension of still greater evils, and the tyranny of
the ’butties,’ or middlemen, and it will with little difficulty be
felt that the public mind of this district was well prepared for the
excitement of the political agitator, especially if he were discreet
enough rather to descant on their physical sufferings and personal
injuries, than to attempt the propagation of abstract political
principles with which it was impossible for them to sympathise.... It
generally happens, however, that where a mere physical impulse urges
the people to insurrection, though it is often an influence of slow
growth and movement, the effects are more violent and sometimes more
obstinate than when they move under the blended authority of moral and
physical necessity, and mix up together the rights and the wants of
man.”

The pendant to the “rights” is the “_equality_” of man. Here, again,
nothing is more self-evident than man’s natural inequality. The whole
development of societies, which we call civilisation, is for the very
purpose of redressing or relieving these inequalities of occasion,
of equipment. By nature man, like the brute, starts without equality
and without rights. By his “mights” he has created these ideas, and
acquired something of their substance by his superior faculties, by
the spiritual energy which differentiates him. His “rights” spring
from the “law” which he has propagated. The political equality which
he has founded more than compensates him for the personal inequality
of his beginnings. The “personal equation,” indeed, would imply
the reversal both of his nature and of his craftsmanship; of all
conditions, moreover, compatible with variety of character and freedom
of action. It means, in fact, a denial of the existence of that natural
aristocracy which we find in every class and every order, and which
decides that everywhere the game of “follow my leader” must be played.
What is wanted is a real aristocracy which “claims great privileges for
great purposes.” What is always dangerous is the monopoly of action
by an aristocracy that shirks its duties, that plays at government,
that is dilettante in leadership or sybarite in life; or that, as
in the three decades preceding the French Revolution, revenges its
exclusion from influence by multiplying sinecures. It is such a class,
as contrasted with individuals--wherever found--of genuine capacities,
that so often evoked Disraeli’s irony, and has lately been satirised
by Mr. Barrie in a whimsy accentuating the natural inequality of man.
Speaking through the lips of “Egremont,” in that fine passage where he
cheers “Sybil”--the noble daughter of the people, disappointed by the
Charter and the Chartists--with a vista of the future, Disraeli says:
“The mind of England is the mind ever of the rising race. Trust me it
is with the People.... Predominant opinions are generally the opinions
of the generation that is vanishing.... It will be a product hostile to
the oligarchical system. The future principle of English politics will
not be a levelling principle; not a principle adverse to privileges,
but favourable to their extension. _It will seek to ensure equality,
not by levelling the few, but by elevating the many._” And again, the
great manufacturer, “Millbank,” in _Coningsby_, is made to remark
(after giving distinction as the basis of aristocracy), “that ‘natural
aristocracy’ ought to be found ... among those men whom a nation
recognises as the most eminent for virtue, talents, and property, and,
if you please, birth and standing in the land. They guide opinion, and
therefore they govern. I am no leveller. I look upon an artificial
equality as equally pernicious with a factitious aristocracy; both
depressing and checking the enterprise of a nation. I like man to be
free--really free; free in his industry as well as his body....” As
Carlyle puts it: “... I say you did not make the land of England;
and by the possession of it you are bound to furnish guidance and
government to England....”--“A high class without duties to do is like
a tree planted on precipices.”[51]

It should not be forgotten, and I shall afterwards illustrate, that
in these and many other respects Carlyle’s teaching chimes with
Disraeli’s. “... That speciosities which are not realities can no
longer be.... What is an aristocracy? A corporation of the best, of the
bravest.... Whatsoever aristocracy does not even attempt to be that,
but only to wear the clothes of that, is not safe; neither is the land
it rules in safe.... We must find a real aristocracy....” And so with
priesthood.

In “Angela Pisani”--a dazzling dream-picture of three generations
in France--by Disraeli’s early intimate, Lord Strangford, occurs a
striking outburst against natural equality, that solecism in ideas,
that remainder biscuit of the French Revolution.

“... Go and preach equality to the deep seas, ... that the oyster is
equal to the whale or the starfish to the shark; you will succeed there
sooner than you will be able to alter the relative grades of the five
races of humanity. It is a _law_ which man must unmake himself, ere
he can change, that the Caucasian will aspire as the highest, and the
negro will grovel as the basest.” Disraeli’s attitude was the same in
_Contarini Fleming_:--

“... The law that regulates man must be founded on a knowledge of his
nature, or that law leads him to ruin. What is the nature of man? In
every clime and every creed we shall find a new definition.... What
then? Is the German a different animal from the Italian? Let me inquire
in turn whether you conceive the negro of the Gold Coast to be the same
being as the Esquimaux who tracks his way over the Polar snows? The
most successful legislators are those who have consulted the genius
of the people.... One thing is quite certain, that the system we have
pursued to attain a knowledge of man has entirely failed....”

Although “Equality” ignores alike the instinct and the clue of “race,”
it asserts in practice the pandemonium of race-warfare; because in
imagining that man is born equipped, it ignores his great acquirement
of “nationality,” which blends the reconcilables of “race” into
one ideal whole--a league of common traditions, language, habits,
institutions, duties, and privileges--of “solidarity”--without the bond
of blood or the necessity for bloodshed. Nationality thus brings the
specific qualities of races into the common stock. Disraeli has often
harped on the theme that a “nation” is no “aggregate of atoms,” but a
corporate individuality; and indeed the force of individuality lies
at the root of all his conceptions. But in truth the whole fiction of
“natural equality” springs from a sort of native envy. As Goethe sings--

     “Men stick at reaching what is great,
      Yet only grudge an equal state.
      To deem your equals all you know--
      No envy worse the world can show.”

Crises, according to him in 1833, were determined by causes far other
than these figments of “natural” laws--

“... When I examine the state of European society with the
unimpassioned spirit which the philosopher can alone command, I
perceive that it is in a state of transition--one from feudal to
federal principles. This I conceive to be the sole and secret cause of
all the convulsions that have occurred and are to occur.”[52]

All this has proved, and is proving true. The civil and legal
“equality” of united nationality and of unifying empire is replacing
the material “equality” of classes or of individuals.

“Natural” equality means “physical” equality, which was the true gist
of the many cries of the French Revolution. But its hurricane swept
away classes and privilege alone; the “equality” it created, that is
to say, was social and civil. Of civil “equality” Disraeli was always
the spokesman; for in England, civil equality means abolition of
monopolies. Privilege, as the ennobling boon of merit, stands open to
all, and the limits of the political orders or social classes to which
it is attached, are corrected by the wide freedom of public opinion
and discussion. “I hold that civil equality,” said Disraeli at Glasgow
in 1873, “the equality of all subjects before the law, and a law which
recognises the personal rights of all subjects, is the only foundation
of a perfect commonwealth.” His most striking utterances in _The Press_
from 1853 to 1859, and this Glasgow address, are perhaps his most
notable commentaries on this theme.

These are no mere subtleties. “Physical equality” has exercised a
very practical bearing on the doctrines of the Manchester School and
their relations to Sir Robert Peel’s double reform, above all to
those interests of Labour which both affected. I shall show this in
my next chapter.[53] Suffice it now to say that Disraeli descried
that in adopting the “Right to physical happiness” doctrine of
Manchester, at the very moment when he unshackled commerce and undid
the Corn Laws, Peel had adopted a principle which logically demands an
“unlimited employment of labour”--a thing inconsistent at once with his
restriction of Labour by removing the restraints on competition, and,
as Disraeli thought, with the very existence of states and of nations.
Peel thus became unconsciously _cosmopolitan_, at the very juncture
when he settled commerce and unsettled labour--

“The leading principle of this new school,” explained Disraeli,
treating of “equality” in 1873, “is that there is no happiness which
is not material, and that every living being has a right to share in
that physical welfare. The first obstacle to their purpose is found in
the rights of private property. Therefore these must be abolished. But
the social system must be established on some principle, and therefore
for the rights of property they would _substitute_ the rights of
Labour. Now these cannot fully be enjoyed, _if there be any limit to
employment. The great limit to employment, to the rights of Labour, and
to the physical and material equality of man is found in the division
of the world into states and nations._ Thus, as civil equality would
abolish privilege, social equality would destroy classes, so material
and physical equality strikes at the principle of patriotism, and is
prepared to abrogate countries.”

It was just this perception that enabled Disraeli nearly thirty years
earlier to predict--as we shall see--so much that has come and is
coming to pass.

The third cry of the French Revolution was _Human Brotherhood_. The
Christian ideal of inter-nationality, which, it is to be hoped, may
ultimately be realised through the Brotherhood of Nations, is the
Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God. But the fraternity
of revolution eliminated both the Brotherhood of Nations and the
Fatherhood of God. The result was a murderous anarchy--a Brotherhood of
Cain.

Such disorders compelled their own cure in their own country. Although
they flooded Europe with opinions at war with beliefs, and upheld a
cosmopolitan model, they brought the French a deliverer who declined
into a despot. Personality avenged herself. And the eventual remedy for
Napoleonism has in its turn been found in a Republic which, discarding
the sovereignty of man, has also discarded the sovereignty of God.

The effects of such a government are best perceived in two recent
and remarkable books, M. Demolin’s “À quoi tient la Supériorité des
Anglo-Saxons,” and M. Cerfberr’s “Essai sur le Mouvement Social et
Intellectuel en France depuis 1789.” The perpetual preponderance of the
bourgeoisie has raised a bureaucracy. The Charter of the Revolution
has culminated in middle-class officialism. The over-centralisation of
government by a few groups, who do not represent the varied elements
of a great nation, has caused a dearth of individual initiative,
a lack of personal self-reliance and social free-play, a tendency
towards the withering dictatorship of state-socialism, which underlies
the unfitness of France for colonisation, and which both these acute
thinkers depict and deplore; while the late Professor Mommsen,
commenting on Cæsar’s union of Democracy with Empire, employs the same
arguments.

That state which best represents national character enjoys the freest
play of institutions, favours the finest shape of spirit, public
and private, will wield the most formative influence among nations,
expand the most easily, and propagate itself by expansion. And the
state which best embodies the national will, is where the legislature
is in keenest touch with the executive, where institutions are
organic, where representation is popular, and where centralisation
is foreign to the national genius. This has, unfortunately, never
been realised in France. She was centralised to an amazing degree
long before her memorable outburst; and De Tocqueville has well shown
that her attempts to unite judicial with legislative functions were
the surest signs of her lack of “solidarity.” Her great upheaval was
predicted by Bolingbroke more than forty years before it occurred,
just because he discerned that her ancient constitution ignored a
popular representation. De Tocqueville himself, too, only proves that
the aristocratic centralisation of old France has been replaced by the
collectivist centralisation of its new democracy. Both in spirit are
the same. Centralisation, whatever its forms, precludes the fair and
free distribution of activities. It hoards and absorbs the national
character. These are its original sins. But Disraeli has also pointed
out that, for many reasons, France remains the sole ancient country
that can afford to begin again.

So much for the “Rights of Man.” One word still on “the Sovereignty of
the People.”

“A people,” said Disraeli, as early as 1836, in his _Spirit of
Whiggism_, “is a species; a civilised community is a nation. Now a
nation is a work of art and a work of time. A nation is gradually
created by a variety of influences.... These influences create the
nation--these form the national mind.... If you destroy the political
institutions which these influences have called into force, and which
are the machinery by which they constantly act, you destroy the nation.
The nation, in a state of anarchy and dissolution, then becomes a
people; and after experiencing all the consequent misery, like a
company of bees spoiled of their queen and rifled of their hive, they
set to again and establish themselves into a society....”

“The People” is a phrase of physiology, not of politics. It is an
abstruse name for a multitude; it ignores temperament and will.
Stripped of its high sound, its “Sovereignty” means government by
miscellany, the censorship of the census. Its political bearings are
as purely arithmetical as are the corresponding ethical bearings
of the Utilitarian creed; for they both disregard the many-sided
nature of man. Although derived from the speculations of some late
seventeenth-century republicans in England, the French application of
the theory--Burke’s “Wisdom told by the Head”--was entirely new. It
was not republicanism, the government by qualified members of ordered
classes: it was a despotism by the crowd as crowd. Such a “Democracy”
has never been the permanent scheme of government in any nation,
although “Liberal opinion” has relied too often on its simplicity.
“One man, one vote,” quantity instead of quality is in truth no
principle at all; and this attempt to confuse the Book of Wisdom with
the Book of Numbers is a feat reserved for modern periods alone. All
earlier systems of democracy were more or less discriminate, for no
indiscriminate state can cohere, and both freedom and order are based
on discrimination. The Attic Democracy demanded a degraded class of
unleisured, unemancipated slaves. The American Republic, which has
freed serfs and abolished leisure, possesses a peculiar stability,
which will outwear its occasional corruption because it exists through
a landed democracy--one impossible in overcrowded Europe--as we shall
find Disraeli emphasising in my American chapter.

In a word, the logical outcome of the “Sovereignty of the People”
is the tyranny of plebiscite. But a “plebiscite” dispenses with the
very principle of representation, for where all decide equally, why
should any be represented? Political power exercisable by _all_ can
only arise when all are sufficiently qualified. But it is always the
_some_, never the _all_, who are competent. Even in their proper sphere
of merely personal choice, how false and fatal most plebiscites have
proved!--“Not this man, but Barabbas.”

_Vox populi_ is only _vox Dei_ through the gradual institutions that
nations create; not through the wayward moods and momentary clamours of
“the people.” The whole problem is how at once to range and to raise
public opinion--the popular conscience; how to preserve moral, without
retarding material, progress; how to inspire “progress” itself with the
conviction that it consists in following the highest leadership; how,
again, to ensure such leadership by the constant association of duty
with privilege, and responsibility with power; how to recruit it by
every means that the spread of enlightenment can furnish.

     “On man alone the fate of man is placed,”

sang Disraeli, in the _Revolutionary Epick_; and of “opinion”--

     “Physical strength and moral were united,
      And I, the pledge of their true love was born.”

But for this purpose the national imagination must be reckoned with.
“... When that faculty is astir in a nation,” he has insisted, “it will
sacrifice even physical comfort to follow its impulses.” The struggle
will always continue for national unity, but it takes generations to
perceive that colonial federation, for example, is as requisite a
means to this idea as native institutions representing real elements.
“... A political institution is a machine; the motive power is the
national character,” says “Sidonia;” “Society in this country is
perplexed, almost paralysed. How are the elements of the nation to be
again blended together? In what spirit is that reorganisation to take
place?...”

And again, so late as 1870, in the preface to _Lothair_, summarising
his works, Disraeli observes: “... National institutions were the
ramparts of the multitude against large estates exercising political
power derived from a limited class. The Church was in theory--and
once it had been in practice--the spiritual and intellectual trainer
of the people. The privileges of the multitude and the prerogatives
of the sovereign had grown up together, and together they had waned.
Under the plea of Liberalism, all the institutions which were the
bulwarks of the multitude had been sapped and weakened, and nothing
had been substituted for them. The people were without education, and,
relatively to the advance of science and the comfort of the superior
classes, their condition had deteriorated, and their physical quality
as a race was threatened....”

On the other hand, the incongruity of modern political machinery was
never far from Disraeli’s thoughts. “... Whatever may have been the
faults of the ancient governments,” he muses in _Contarini Fleming_,
“they were in closer relation to the times, the countries, and to the
governed, than ours. The ancients invented their governments according
to their wants. The moderns have adopted foreign policies, and then
modelled their conduct upon this borrowed regulation. This circumstance
has occasioned our manners and our customs to be so confused and absurd
and unphilosophical.... He who profoundly meditates upon the situation
of modern Europe, will also discover how productive of misery has been
the senseless adoption of Oriental customs by Northern peoples....” And
Disraeli also distinguished between the direct democracy of multitude
and that of “popular” institutions.

Nothing is less truly “popular” than “the people” as a “democracy,”
for the despotism of many is as odious as the arbitrary will of one,
and even more fatal than the government by groups of the few. This
is the distinction on which he expatiated in a famous speech of 1847
at Aylesbury, where he contrasted “popular principles” with “Liberal
opinions”--

“As it is not the interest of the rich and the powerful to pursue
popular principles of government, the wisdom of great men and the
experience of ages have taken care that these principles should be
cherished and perpetuated in the form of institutions. Thus the majesty
that guards the multitude is embodied in a throne; the faith that
consoles them hovers round the altar of a national Church; the spirit
of discussion, which is the root of public liberty, flourishes in the
atmosphere of a free Parliament.”

These, in the rough, are some of Disraeli’s ideas as to the new
democracy. From the first, as we shall see, he compassed the renewal
of the English democratic idea--that of democracy as an _element_--in
opposition alike to the State tutelage of the French, and to that
form of democracy which means the undue power of one _class_ in the
nation. His Reform Bill of 1867 was the accomplishment of his earliest
hopes, and the realisation of principles distinct from the spasms of
doctrinaire “Liberalism.”

He regarded our Constitution--the quintessence of the English character
immanent in English institutions--as a real though limited monarchy,
tempered by a democracy which is in effect neither more nor less than
_a natural aristocracy_.

“Aristocracy,” as a universal principle and not the badge of a
particular class, is the committal of political privilege far more
to representative influence than to powerful interests. A “natural”
aristocracy must comprehend and absorb the superiors of every class in
all their varieties.

“The Monarchy of the Tories,” Disraeli exclaimed in his youth,[54]
“is more democratic than the Republic of the Whigs.” “The House of
Commons,” he exclaimed many years later, “is a more aristocratic
body than the House of Lords.” In each House, through all its
pronouncements, he recognised that the democratic element is
aristocratic, the aristocratic element democratic. That the
representative assembly of the Commons, which is elected, should
include all that is best from each class which by its qualities has
earned the boon of the franchise; that the representative assembly,
which is not elected, should include more and more not only those whose
aggrandisement stands for the interests of property, but those too
whose intellect and attainments entitle them to distinction. Nor, of
course, can the fact be ignored that through hereditary honours the
Estate of the Commons, which constantly reinforces the Estate of the
Peers, is, in its turn, as constantly refreshed from the Estate of
the Peers. And from first to last, in theory, as well as in action, he
upheld the land as the deepest foundation of England’s greatness of
character. I could quote passage after passage, both from books and
speeches, and regarding subjects the most various, in which he presses
home the substantial importance of a territorial constitution, and the
fact that the landed interest is in truth not only a safeguard for
freedom in peace and vigour in war, but also an industrial interest of
the highest order; and doubly so, because by sentiment, by tradition,
by its contribution to local government, to stability, to the social
scale of duties conditioning the tenure of property, to physique, its
influence is essential and exceptional. I shall content myself with
a citation from a speech of 1860, and it may be remembered that the
acute De Tocqueville singles out the self-seclusion of the official
bourgeoisie from the land as a chief contributory to the French
Revolution--

“... I look round upon Europe at the present moment, and I see no
country of any importance in which political liberty can be said to
exist. I attribute the creation and maintenance of our liberties to
the influence of the land, and to our tenure of land. In England
there are large properties round which men can rally, _and that in my
mind forms the only security in an old European country against that
centralised form of government which has prevailed, and must prevail,
in every European country where there is no such counterpoise_. It is
our tenure of land to which we are indebted for our public liberties,
because it is the tenure of land which makes local government a fact in
England, and which allows the great body of Englishmen to be ruled by
traditionary influence and by habit, instead of being governed, as in
other countries, by mere police.”

Disraeli was always staunch to the land. After the Corn Law repeal,
he strove pertinaciously till he succeeded in removing those especial
burdens which unfairly hampered their free competition, and which were
originally the price of peculiar privileges then removed. But though
he always desired a preponderance of the various landed interests, he
never wished for their predominance. And to the last he refused to
allow any spurious cry for especial measures on their behalf to be
raised when a temporary depression due to the seasons arose, which
he always distinguished from permanent causes connected with social
revolutions.[55]

To develop our ancient institutions was his lifelong specific. From
his earliest pronouncements, those in the _Letter to Lord Lyndhurst_,
those in _What is he?_ and in _Gallomania_, those in the _Spirit
of Whiggism_, those in his first election speeches, extending over
a period of five years before he was returned, in his three first
political novels, to his latest orations on Conservatism as a
“national” cause, he laid the greatest stress on the function and
origin of the three co-ordinate Estates of the Realm--“popular classes
established into political orders”[56]--which under monarchy form our
Constitution. And, while to the end he praised that mighty force of
public opinion which has in the person of the Press almost divested
Parliament of its ancestral office as “the grand inquest” of national
grievances, he still held the “organisation of opinion” to remain
the essence of the party system; while he increasingly desired the
presence in Parliament of elements at once various and choice,[57] and
the absence from its councils of any preponderant sects or sections.
Like Burke, he believed that Parliament should be under every changing
phase of national development “the express image of the feelings of
the nation;” like Bolingbroke, he deemed that it should be also the
collective assemblage of its wisdom. He regarded these “estates” as the
embodiment of great national interests organised on the principle of
distinct duties conditioning privilege; and he desired that, however
modified, they should never be altered so as to impair the great
national institutions as whose buttresses they were built to serve.

Looking back historically, he discerned that some hundred and twenty
years before the birth of English Liberalism, a country and “Old
England” party, perplexed by dynastic and economic problems, confronted
too by the semi-scientific rationalism of a new age, had been first
schooled into comprehensive, generous, and “national” aspirations by
a great but lost leader, and had then been baffled by a set of great
families. Most of these began by professing Republican principles,
and all of them were branded in the literature of Queen Anne as the
“Venetian oligarchy.” These families aimed steadily for more than
a century at engrossing the whole power of the State. Their bias
from 1700 to Sunderland’s peerage bill in 1718, and from 1718 to the
Reform Bill of 1831 remained Republican. But so long as a king was
content to be a puppet dancing on their wires, and the nation to be
cowed into lethargy, they could dispense with theoretical forms,
mainly upheld as a ladder towards oligarchical power. From time to
time they assumed popular causes, but somehow they never succeeded
in themselves being popular, because their chief object as a party
organisation was “the establishment of an oligarchical government
by virtue of a Republican cry;”[58] because, as Disraeli has again
shown, English revolutions have always been in favour of privilege
traditionally distributed, while foreign revolutions have been against
all privilege whatever; because the “New Whigs” of Queen Anne and the
first two Georges sought a _tabula rasa_--a plain map, as opposed
to the picture with perspective of English institutions. They were
theoretically for “liberty and property”--the “_New_ Whig” catchword
of Queen Anne’s reign that replaced the old one of “Liberty” alone, in
which both Whigs and Tories joined at the revolution--but their bias
was always more for property than for liberty. They sought to amass
money and power through the amassing classes. They never studied the
varied interests of the whole nation. Walpole usurped their place, but
retained their influence, and by his virtue George I. reigned rather
than ruled over the towns instead of over the country. At first these
oligarchs kicked against the growing management of a sole minister,
but the shrewd steadiness of a superior will overmastered them, and
Newcastle remained on Walpole’s side--the insignificant representative
of their tamed confederacy. Trade ceased to follow the land, but
tended more and more to acquire it by purchase, until a fresh moneyed
oligarchy, which acquired fresh titles, was formed. The great Chatham
broke it for a time; and afterwards George III. obstinately mutinied
against its shackles. The French overthrow transformed the Whig cry of
Republicanism to the Whig cry of Jacobinism. “... Between the advent of
Mr. Pitt and the resurrection of Lord Grey, ... ever on the watch for a
cry to carry them into power, they mistook the yell of Jacobinism for
the chorus of an emancipated people, and fancied, in order to take the
throne by storm, that nothing was wanting but to hoist the tricolour
and to cover their haughty brows with a red cap. This fatal blunder
clipped the wings of Whiggism; nor is it possible to conceive a party
that had effected so many revolutions and governed a great country for
so long a period more broken, sunk, and shattered, more desolate and
disheartened, than these same Whigs at the Peace of Paris.” But all
proved fruitless, until at last the vast body of the nation--the real
“people”--reasserted themselves, and, by emphasising Parliamentary
reform, compelled oligarchs, mistrustful of them at heart,[59] to “do
something.” What they “did” was to aggrandise the middle classes, on
whom they had always relied; and a new revolution was the consequence.
Throughout more than a century and a half, despite noble and national
intervals, they constantly betrayed themselves as a “faction who headed
a revolution with which they did not sympathise, in order to possess
themselves of a power which they cannot wield.” In 1718 they “sought
to govern the country by swamping the House of Commons.” In 1836 they
were for “swamping” the House of Lords. Their drift was continued
against the national institutions, the conjoined independence and
inter-dependence of which thwarted their inveteracy. Their plan in the
end became avowedly cosmopolitan; and when that occurred it became
doubly dangerous, for to “centralisation”--monopoly of power--was added
the no-principle of “_laissez-faire_,” the abandonment of leadership to
chaos.

The great national struggle against Napoleon practically obliterated
party distinctions in England, although there was still a remnant
of those who are, in Burke’s words: “... the most pernicious of all
factions, one in the interest and under the direction of foreign
powers.” A lull ensued. Both Toryism and Whiggism withered; the first
from sheer inanition of those popular principles which Canning in
vain sought to rekindle; the second from the sheer impossibility of
withstanding the name of Wellington and the memories of Waterloo.
Toryism turned against freedom and Liberalism against order. Public
spirit waned with the decay of party opposition. The great warriors
dwindled into petty place-men until

     “Where are the Grenvilles? Turned as usual. Where
      My friends the Whigs? Exactly where they were;”

until the “Marney” of _Sybil_ expired “in the full faith of dukeism and
babbling of strawberry leaves.”

“From that period till 1830,” to resume my citations from his earliest
pamphlets, “the tactics of the Whigs consisted in gently and gradually
extricating themselves from their false position as the disciples of
Jacobinism, and assuming their ancient post as the hereditary guardians
of an hereditary monarchy.” To ease the transition, they invented
Liberalism, a bridge to regain the lost mainland, and recross on tiptoe
the chasm over which they had sprung with so much precipitation. “A
dozen years of ‘Liberal principles’ broke up the national party of
England--cemented by half a century of prosperity and glory, compared
with which all the annals of the realm are dim and lack-lustre. Yet
so weak intrinsically was the oligarchical faction, that their chief,
despairing to obtain a monopoly of power for his party, elaborately
announced himself as the champion of his patrician order, and attempted
to coalesce with the Liberalised leader of the Tories. Had that
negotiation not led to the result which was originally intended by
those interested, the Riots of Paris would not have occasioned the
Reform of London. It is a great delusion to believe that revolutions
are ever effected by a nation. It is a faction, and generally a
small one, that overthrows a dynasty or remodels a constitution.
A small party, strong by long exile from power, and desperate of
success except by desperate means, invariably has recourse to a
_coup d’état_.... The rights and liberties of a nation can only be
preserved by institutions.... Life is short, man is imaginative, our
passions high.... Let us suppose our ancient monarchy abolished, our
independent hierarchy reduced to a stipendiary sect, the gentlemen
of England deprived of their magisterial functions, and metropolitan
prefects and sub-prefects established in the counties and principal
towns commanding a vigorous and vigilant police, and backed by an army
under the immediate order of a single House of Parliament.... But
where then will be the liberties of England? Who will dare disobey
London?... When these merry times arrive--the times of extraordinary
tribunals and extraordinary taxes ... the phrase ‘Anti-Reformer’ will
serve as well as that of ‘Malignant,’ and be as valid a plea as the
former title for harassing and plundering those who venture to wince
under the crowning mercies of centralisation.... I would address
myself to the English Radicals. I do not mean those fine gentlemen or
those vulgar adventurers who, in this age of quackery, may sail into
Parliament by hoisting for the nonce the false colours of the movement;
but I mean that honest and considerable party ... who have a definite
object which they distinctly avow.... Not merely that which is just,
but that which is also practicable, should be the aim of a sagacious
politician. Let the Radicals well consider whether in attempting to
achieve their avowed object they are not, in fact, only assisting
_the secret views of a party whose scheme is infinitely more adverse
to their own than the existing system, whose genius I believe they
entirely misapprehend_.” And after commenting on the “preponderance
of a small class” under the new arrangement, the dangerous tendency
towards centralisation and the perils of the reformed municipal
corporations, he thus concludes: “If there be a slight probability of
ever establishing in this country a more democratic government than
the English Constitution, it will be as well, I conceive, for those
who love their rights, to maintain that constitution, and if the more
recent measures of the Whigs, however plausible their first aspect,
have in fact been a _departure from the democratic character of that
constitution_, it will be as well for the English nation to oppose ...
the spirit of Whiggism.”

No student of the Croker Papers can deny that some of the leading Whigs
did in the period immediately succeeding the Reform Bill plot for a
Republican purpose. No historian will deny that the Reform Bill, by the
exclusion of “Labour” from the franchise, and its deprival at the same
time of the ancient rights which industry had possessed, left open a
rankling sore. In this tract of 1836 Disraeli exposes the machination
and probes the wound. Even thus early he feared the predominance of a
plutocracy, “the supreme triumph of cash” at an era when, in Carlyle’s
phrase also, “Cash Payment” is fast becoming “the universal sole
nexus of man to man;” while he determined, if ever he had the power,
to redress the balance by including the labouring classes. In 1848
he had spoken in Parliament on these questions to the same effect
as he had spoken on the hustings in 1833, even favouring, as he had
then advocated, triennial parliaments, except that under the later
circumstances it might be an unnecessary change; and denouncing, as
he had then denounced, “universal suffrage,” and on the same grounds.
In this remarkable speech he forecasted that signal settlement which
nearly twenty years later he was to secure. I shall shortly connect
many utterances of his, ranging over more than thirty years; but there
are three passages from this declaration, made at a time before the
re-modelling of the reforms of 1832 had been agreed upon as an open
problem, which I ask leave to excerpt as a prelude, for they strike
the very keynotes of his domestic policy. Disraeli pointed out that
the Radical Hume was taking _property_ as the basis of suffrage fully
as much as the Whigs had done in 1832, and that the same _bourgeois_
predominance would ensue.

“... Now, sir, for one I think property is sufficiently represented
in this House. I am prepared to support the system of 1832 until I
see that the circumstances and necessities of the country require a
change; _but I am convinced that when that change comes, it will be
one that will have more regard for other sentiments, qualities, and
conditions than the mere possession of property as a qualification
for the exercise of the political franchise_.” And he then definitely
protested against being ranked among those who accepted finality in
that “wherein there has been, throughout the history of this ancient
country, frequent and continuous change--the construction of this
estate of the realm. I oppose this new scheme because it does not
appear to be adapted in any way to satisfy the wants of the age, or to
be conceived in the spirit of the times.” He opposed it also because
this Radical motion, like the great Whig measure, really implied the
undue ascendancy of the middle classes--

“... The House will not forget what that class has done in its
legislative enterprises. I do not use the term ‘middle class’ with
any disrespect; no one more than myself estimates what the urban
population has done for the liberty and civilisation of mankind;
but I speak of the middle class as of one which avowedly aims at
predominance, and therefore it is expedient to ascertain how far the
fact justifies a confidence in their political capacity. It was only
at the end of the last century that the middle class rose into any
considerable influence, chiefly through Mr. Pitt,[60] that minister
whom they are always abusing.” He proceeds to praise their abolition
of the slave trade: “... A noble and sublime act, but carried with an
entire ignorance of the subject, as the event has proved. How far it
has aggravated the horrors of slavery, I stop not now to inquire....
The middle class emancipated the negroes, but they never proposed a
Ten Hour Bill.... The interests of the working classes of England were
not much considered in that arrangement. Having tried their hand at
Colonial reform, ... they next turned their hands to Parliamentary
reform, and carried the Reform Bill. But observe, in that operation
they destroyed, under the pretence of its corrupt exercise, the old
industrial franchise, and they never constructed a new one.... So that
whether we look to their Colonial, or their Parliamentary reform, they
entirely neglected the industrial classes. Having failed in Colonial
as well as Parliamentary reform, ... they next tried Commercial
reform, and introduced free imports under the specious name of free
trade. _How were the interests of the working classes considered in
this third movement?_ More than they were in their Colonial or their
Parliamentary reform? On the contrary, while the interests of capital
were unblushingly advocated, the displaced labour of the country was
offered neither consolation nor compensation, but was told that it must
submit to be absorbed in the mass. In their Colonial, Parliamentary,
and Commercial reforms there is no evidence of any sympathy with the
working classes; and every one of the measures so forced upon the
country has at the same time proved disastrous. Their Colonial reform
ruined the colonies, and increased slavery. Their Parliamentary reform,
according to their own account, was a delusion which has filled the
people with disappointment and disgust. If their Commercial reform
have not proved ruinous, then the picture ... presented to us of the
condition of England every day for the last four or five months must
be a gross misrepresentation. In this state of affairs, as a remedy
for half a century of failure, we are under their auspices to take
refuge in financial reform,[61] which I predict will prove their fourth
failure, _and one in which the interests of the working classes will be
as little considered and accomplished_.”

The third passage concerns the symptoms of a need and the moment for
change. Leaders, he argues, should educate and prepare the people, and
not allow mere agitators to manufacture grievances, but rather prick
the educated and well-born to remember the duties by virtue of which
alone they hold their position.

“... A new profession has been discovered which will supply the place
of obsolete ones. It is a profession which requires many votaries.

     “‘Grammaticus, rhetor, geometres, pictor, aliptes,
      Augur, schœnobates, medicus, magus.’

The business of this profession is to discover or invent great
questions. But the remarkable circumstance is this--that the present
movement has not in the slightest degree originated in any class of
the people.... The moral I draw from all this--from observing this
system of organised agitation--this playing and paltering with popular
passions for the _aggrandisement of one too ambitious class_--the moral
I draw is this: why are the people of England forced to find leaders
among these persons? The proper leaders of the people are the gentlemen
of England. If they are not the leaders of the people, I do not see
why there should be gentlemen. Yes, it is because the gentlemen of
England have been negligent of their duties, and unmindful of their
station, that the system of professional agitation, so ruinous to the
best interests of the country, has arisen in England. It was not always
so. My honourable friends around me call themselves the country party.
Why, that was the name once in England of a party who were the foremost
to vindicate popular rights--who were the natural leaders of the
people, and the champions of everything national and popular.... When
Sir William Wyndham was the leader of the country party, do you think
he would have allowed any chairman or deputy-chairman, any lecturer
or pamphleteer, to deprive him of his hold on the heart of the people
of this country? No, never! Do you think that when the question of
suffrage was brought before the House, he would have allowed any class
who had boldly avowed their determination to obtain predominance to
take up and settle that question?...”

Nor let him be misconstrued in his views of the ancestral temperament
of the Whigs. Nothing is more remarkable in the chronicle of
combinations than the fact that for more than a century a party, the
most exclusive in its operation, was considered the least. The recent
publications of the Portland and Harley Papers establish beyond a
doubt that while the “New Whigs” of Queen Anne were in large measure a
commercial syndicate that “made a corner” in power, the old Whigs of
George III. were an aristocratic oligarchy that subverted rule, both
popular and personal, and monopolised government.

“How an oligarchy,” says Disraeli, in the preface to _Lothair_, “had
been substituted for a kingdom, and a narrow-minded and bigoted
fanaticism flourished in the name of religious liberty, were problems
long to me insoluble, but which early interested me. But what most
attracted my musing, even as a boy, was the elements of our political
parties, and the strange mystification by which that which was national
in its constitution had become odious, and that which was exclusive was
presented as popular. What has mainly led to this confusion of public
thought, and this uneasiness of society, _is our habitual carelessness
in not distinguishing between the excellence of a principle and its
injurious or obsolete application_. The feudal system may have worn
out, but its main principle, that the tenure of property should be
the fulfilment of duty, is the essence of good government. The divine
right of kings may have been a plea for feeble tyrants, but the divine
right of government is the keystone of human progress, and without it
government sinks into police and a nation is degraded into a mob.”
And he continues with reference to the Toryism of a later period:
“... Those who in theory were the national party, and who sheltered
themselves under the institutions of the country against the oligarchy,
had, both by a misconception and a neglect of their duties, become, and
justly become, odious; while the oligarchy ... had, by the patronage of
certain general principles which they only meagrely applied, assumed,
and to a certain degree acquired, the character of a popular party.
_But no party was national; one was exclusive and odious, and the other
liberal and cosmopolitan._”

His history--I speak as a student of the reigns of Queen Anne and
the Georges--will bear scrutiny. Indeed, he carries the descent of
Whiggism some steps further, and traces its pedigree back to the
Roundhead Independents,[62] and even the favourites of Henry VIII.,
enriched by the spoil of the plundered abbeys. But he never denied,
or wished to gainsay, the special and signal qualities of the Whigs’
conspicuous service. They had reconciled religious liberty to the
consecration of the State, and had constantly proved themselves a
“national” party[63]--that solecism in words but truth in ideas. This
he repeatedly acknowledges. Neither did he ever spare the soulless,
cramped, hollow, and shrivelled Toryism of the period preceding
Bolingbroke’s and Wyndham’s struggle to recall it to its origins; or
again of the period after Pitt’s generous concessions were overwhelmed
by the Jacobin deluge, and neutralised by the impersonalities
of Addington and Perceval; by the Phariseeism of Liverpool’s
puzzle-headedness; by the pigheadedness of Eldon and Wetherell. Nor did
he ever deny that pseudo-Toryism had often nursed the very vices of the
Whig oligarchy.[64] What he did contend, from first to last, was that
any party which by its elements makes for national growth and union,
and favours the free play of custom in institutions, is “national;”
while any party encouraging class warfare, class preponderance, and
cosmopolitan theories repugnant to the genius of those institutions,
will be “anti-national;” that the democratic possibilities of our
constitution must be spread, as opportunities arise to enlarge the
“estate of the Commons;” yet that this must never mean the enthronement
of either Oligarchy or Democracy in place of our mixed government;
further, that in all such expansion influence is more important than
interest; that theorisers must never blind us to the distinction
between the “Rights of Man” and the duties of English citizens, between
private and public equality, between the “Sovereignty of the People”
and a national government; that over-government is a fatal evil, but
that individual leadership is a priceless privilege.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Reform Act raised the whole question of Representation. Is its
aim monotony or variety? If it is necessarily elective, must it not
logically end in becoming a plebiscite? Will a vote open to all be
prized by any? And is suffrage any panacea for suffering?

Before the Reform Bill of 1832, Disraeli wrote, musing on Athens,
and contrasting the strong simplicity of Greek literature with the
imitative splendour of Rome, “... A mighty era, prepared by the
blunders of long centuries, is at hand. Ardently I hope that the
necessary change in human existence may be effected by the voice of
philosophy alone; but I tremble and am silent. There is no bigotry so
terrible as the bigotry of a country that flatters itself that it is
philosophical.” In introducing the great Act of 1867, he observed:
“... The political rights of the working classes which existed before
the Act of 1832, and which not only existed, but were acknowledged,
were on that occasion disregarded and even abolished, and during
the whole period that has since elapsed in consequence of the great
vigour that has been given to the Government of this country, and of
the multiplicity of subjects commanding interest that have engaged
and engrossed attention, no great inconvenience has been experienced
from that cause. Still, during all that time there has been a feeling,
sometimes a very painful feeling, that questions have arisen which have
been treated in this House without that entire national sympathy which
is desirable.”

The Reform Bill and its sequels transferred the immemorial franchise
of toilers to the middle classes, who were to be further aggrandised
by the repeal of the Corn Laws.[65] They raised the revolutionary
bitterness of Toil in England and Religion in Ireland, both of which
they provoked to physical force. The Act proved rather a measure
for the House of Commons than for the Commons themselves. It was
the makeshift and stop-gap of oligarchy in distress. Its immediate
effects were to wipe out that parliamentary opposition on which the
health of party government depends,[66] to encroach on the independent
influence of the House of Lords, to end, it is true unintentionally,
the “Venetian Constitution” of those who enfeebled their cause in 1837
by resolving to continue as oligarchs when the weapon of oligarchy
had vanished; while none the less it left the monarch a doge, and the
multitude a cipher; a crown still “robbed of its prerogatives, a Church
controlled by a commission, and an aristocracy that does not lead.”
Such were the joint results of the two large and once great parties
that had lost principles in their search after organisation, the one by
thwarting, the other by tricking the popular voice. It sharpened the
warfare between rich and poor, afterwards aggravated by the acceptance
of the principle of unrestricted competition; it precipitated a
plutocracy, it helped to set class against class, and it became a prop
of that calculating materialism which exalted “utility.” On the other
hand, its indirect benefits were many. “It set men a-thinking” (I quote
from _Sybil_); “it enlarged the horizon of political experience; it led
the public mind to ponder somewhat on the circumstances of our national
history; to pry into the beginnings of some social anomalies which,
they found, were not so ancient as they had been led to believe, and
which had their origin in causes very different from what they had been
educated to credit; and insensibly it created and prepared a popular
intelligence to which one can appeal, no longer hopelessly, in an
attempt to dispel the mysteries with which for nearly three centuries
it has been the labour of party writers to involve a national history,
and without the dispersion of which no political position can be
understood and no social evil remedied.” This latter was an especial
province of Disraeli. Carlyle also, as a social regenerator appealing
to higher sanctions than the “useful,” was able to address the newly
awakened “popular intelligence.”

Here again Disraeli is in curious accord with Carlyle, the difference
between them being that Disraeli, a doer as well as a seer, discerned
in the traditional “orders” or “estates” of the realm real curatives
of a sick body politic. Both protested against a state based on
statistics and a progress that was arithmetical. Both were quick to
discriminate, under the surface of parties, between the influences
which made for cementing and those which made for dissolving the
nation. Both saw in the conservatism and liberalism of the ’thirties,
on the one side a pretence of protecting the forms they enfeebled,
on the other a pretext and a sop for the universal suffrage which
their professions logically implied. Disraeli perceived that such
a French democracy was alien to England, and meant eventually some
sort of unenlightened despotism, and the aggravation of a government
by favouritism and through interference. He therefore resolved to
reinspire the three “estates”--and if possible the Crown--with reality;
and thus, in extending franchise, to extend it as the privilege of
an order, earned by thrift, education, and intelligence, while he
sought to found it on a basis so stable that leadership might never
sink into being the sport of a fluid and fickle ignorance. Like
Carlyle, he rejoiced that “opinion is now supreme, and opinion speaks
in print; the representation of the Press is far more complete than
the representation of Parliament;” he hailed the spread of knowledge
among the mass so early as in the _Revolutionary Epick_. But, unlike
Carlyle, he did not deem this increasing power fatal to parliamentary
institutions; indeed, he regarded Parliament as a body privileged to
lead and leaven “opinion,” and one that should never abandon its proper
functions of initiative. Both Parliament and the Press in his eyes were
vents for that free discussion inseparable from political health, but
the one ought to form a school for statesmen, the other an arena for
critics. And Disraeli also held and enforced that parties should never
be particularist, but should rest on some national principle instead
of on incoherent prejudices. Parties should represent broad attitudes
towards working institutions. Only thus can they escape debasement into
sets on the one hand, and shams on the other. If parties are split up
into intriguing factions, they are solvents; if they become merely the
masks of disregarded principles, they grow lifeless and hypocritical.
They are at once “humbug and humdrum.”

In his fine speech of February, 1850, on Agricultural Distress (a
distress greatly due to the unrestricted competition of English land
with foreign acres,[67] and only to be met by what he then proposed and
long afterwards carried--the relief of its peculiar burdens), Disraeli
dwelt on the sad fact that the labourers of the land made no appeal to
Parliament. “Why, what is that,” he urged, “but a want of confidence
in the institutions of the country?” Cobden, who definitely and
avowedly sought the predominance of one portion alone, of middle-class
individual interest, gave an ironical cheer. Carlyle had already
published his philippic against Parliament. But Disraeli--and with
justice--continued--

“... The honourable gentleman cheers as if I sanctioned such doctrines:
I have never sanctioned the expression of such feelings; I never used
language elsewhere which I have not been ready to repeat in this House.
I never said one thing in one place, and another in another. I have
confidence in the justice and wisdom of the House of Commons, although
I sit with the minority; I have expressed that confidence in other
places.... I have expressed the conviction that I earnestly entertain,
that this House, instead of being an assembly with a deaf ear and a
callous heart to the sufferings of the agricultural body, would, on the
contrary, be found to be an assembly prompt to express sympathy, prompt
to repair, if it might be, even the injury, necessary in the main as
they might think it, which they had entailed on the agricultural
classes of the country.... I have that confidence in the good sense of
the English people that ... they will deem we are only doing our duty,
we are only consulting their interests in taking every opportunity
to alleviate their burdens, in trying to devise remedies for their
burdens; and, if we cannot accomplish immediately any great financial
result, at least achieving this great political purpose--that we may
teach them not to despair of the institutions of their country.”

This purpose he had sought to accomplish two years before, when, in
1848, he proved by a speech which, it is said, won him the eventual
leadership of his party, that the breakdown which Carlyle was at that
time preparing to denounce, was due to an incapable ministry, and not
to an effete Parliament. He always held Parliament to be neither a
municipal vestry nor a chamber of commerce, but a national temple of
embodied opinion; nor can the wisdom of his view in those dark and
despondent times be better tested than by comparing, in the light of
what has since occurred, than by contrasting Carlyle’s fulminations in
this regard with Disraeli’s discernment.

“... There is a phenomenon,” says Carlyle, in his “Chartism,” “which
one might call Paralytic Radicalism in these days, which gauges with
statistic measuring-reed, sounds with Philosophic Politico-Economic
plummet, the deep, dark sea of trouble, and, having taught us rightly
what an infinite sea of trouble it is, sums up with the practical
inference and use of consolation, That nothing whatever in it can be
done by man, who has simply to sit still and look wistfully to ‘Time
and General Laws;’ and thereupon, without so much as recommending
suicide, coldly takes its leave of us....”

Disraeli, on the other hand--

“... ‘In this country,’ said ‘Sidonia,’ ‘since the peace, there has
been an attempt to advocate a reconstruction of society on a purely
rational basis. The principle of Utility has been powerfully developed.
I speak not with lightness of the labours of the disciples of that
school. I bow to intellect in every form; and we should be grateful to
any school of philosophers, even if we disagree with them.... There
has been an attempt to reconstruct society on a basis of material
motives and calculations. It has failed. It must ultimately have failed
under any circumstances; its failure in an ancient and densely peopled
kingdom was inevitable. How limited is human reason, the profoundest
inquirers are most conscious. We are not indebted to the reason of man
for any of the great achievements which are the landmarks of human
action and human progress. It was not Reason that besieged Troy; it was
not Reason that sent forth the Saracen from the desert to conquer the
world, that inspired the crusades, that instituted the monastic order;
it was not Reason that produced the Jesuits; above all, it was not
Reason that created the French Revolution....”

I may compare with this the light episode of the travelling Utilitarian
in the much earlier _Young Duke_--

“... ‘I think it is not very difficult to demonstrate the _use_ of an
aristocracy,’[68] mildly observed the Duke.

“‘Pooh! nonsense, sir! I know what you are going to say, but we have
got beyond all that. Have you read this, sir? This article on the
aristocracy in _The Screw and Lever Review_?’

“‘I have not, sir.’

“‘Then I advise you to make yourself master of it, and you will talk no
more of the aristocracy. A few more articles like this, and a few more
noblemen like the man who has got this park, and people will open their
eyes at last.’

“‘I should think,’ said his Grace, ‘that the follies of the man who has
got this park have been productive of evil only to himself. In fact,
sir, according to your own system, a prodigal nobleman seems to be a
very desirable member of the commonwealth, and a complete leveller.’

“‘We shall get rid of them all soon, sir....’

“‘I have heard that he is very young, sir,’ remarked the widow.

“‘Ah, youth is a very trying time! Let us hope the best. He may turn
out well yet, poor soul!’

“‘I hope not. Don’t talk to me of poor souls. There is a poor soul,’
said the Utilitarian, pointing to an old man breaking stones on the
highway. ‘That is what I call a poor soul, not a young prodigal....’”

No one who has followed the labour movement in England, or the
social-democrat organisations in Germany and France, can fail to
recognise the immense part that personality, imagination, and desire
of power plays in them, and how completely, in their instance,
utilitarianism has broken down. Utilitarianism, of course, ignores the
moral and imaginative aspects. It mistakes the moon for a cream-cheese.
It ignores personal influence. Above all, it confounds happiness with
prosperity. “Charcoal,” exclaims Ruskin (here in complete accord with
Disraeli), “may be cheap among your roof-timbers after a fire, and
bricks may be cheap in your streets after an earthquake; but fire and
earthquake may not therefore be national benefits.” Even in a concern
purely commercial, reserve must be weighed against dividends.

Again, as regards this very Reform Bill of 1832, and the stagnant
formulæ of its pioneer, I will again invoke Carlyle--

“... An ultra-radical, not seemingly of the Benthamee species, is
forced to exclaim, ‘The people are at last wearied! They say, “Why
should we be ruined in our shops, thrown out of our farms, voting for
these men?” Ministerial majorities decline; this Ministry has become
impotent, had it even the will to do good. They have long called to us,
“We are a Reform Ministry; will ye not support _us_?” We have supported
them, borne them forward indignantly on our shoulders time after time,
fall after fall, when they had been hurled out into the street, and
lay prostrate, helpless, like dead luggage. It is the fact of a Reform
Ministry, not the name of one, that we would support.... The public
mind says at last, Why all this struggle for the _name_ of a Reform
Ministry? Let the Tories be a ministry, if they will; let, at least,
some living reality be a ministry!’...”

Let me illustrate Carlyle by two further passages from Disraeli. The
first concerns parties in 1837, the second concerns the withered and
withering Toryism left to confront the hollow conventions of the Reform
Ministry. He is arguing that “the man who enters public life at this
epoch has to choose between political infidelity and a destructive
creed.”

“... The principle of the _exclusive_ constitution of England having
been conceded by the Acts of 1827-28-32, ... a party has arisen in
the State who demand that the principle of political liberalism shall
consequently be carried to its extent, which it appears to them is
impossible without getting rid of the fragments of the old constitution
that remain. This is the destructive party--a party with distinct and
intelligible principles. They seek a specific for the evils of our
social system in the general suffrage of the population. They are
resisted by another party who, having given up exclusion, would only
embrace as much liberalism as is necessary for the moment; who, without
any embarrassing promulgation of principles, wish to keep things as
they find them as well as they can; but, as a party must have the
semblance of principles, they take the names of the things that they
have destroyed. Thus they are devoted to the prerogatives of the Crown,
although in truth the Crown has been stripped of every one of its
prerogatives; they affect a great veneration for the constitution in
Church and State, although every one knows that it no longer exists;
they are ready to stand or fall with the independence of the Upper
House of Parliament, although in practice they are perfectly well
aware that, with their sanction, the ‘Upper House’ has abdicated its
initiatory functions, and now serves only as a court of review of the
legislation of the House of Commons. Whenever public opinion, which
this party never attempts to form, to educate, or to lead, falls into
some violent perplexity, passion, or caprice, this party yields without
a struggle to the impulse, and, when the storm has passed, attempts
to obstruct and obviate the logical, and ultimately the inevitable
results of the very measures they have themselves originated, or to
which they have consented. This is the Conservative party. I care not
whether men are called Whigs or Tories, Radicals or Chartists, ... but
these two divisions comprehend at present the English nation.... With
regard to the first school, I for one have no faith in the remedial
qualities of a Government carried on by a neglected democracy, who
for three centuries have received no education. What prospect does it
offer us of those high principles of conduct with which we have fed our
imagination and strengthened our will? I perceive none of the elements
of government that should secure the happiness of a people and the
greatness of a realm.... Many men in this country ... are reconciled to
the contemplation of democracy, because they have accustomed themselves
to believe that it is the only power by which we can sweep away _those
sectional privileges and interests that impede the intelligence and
industry of the community_, ... and yet the only way ... to terminate
what, in the language of the present day, is called class legislation,
_is not to entrust power to classes_. You would find a ‘locofoco’[69]
majority as much addicted to class legislation as a factitious
aristocracy.... In a word, _true wisdom lies in a policy that would
effect its ends by the influence of opinion, and yet by the means of
existing forms_.”

And the other--

“Mr. Rigby began by ascribing everything to the Reform Bill, and then
referred to several of his own speeches on Schedule A. Then he told
Coningsby that want of ‘religious faith’ was solely occasioned by want
of churches, and want of loyalty by George IV. having shut up himself
too much at the cottage in Windsor Park, entirely against the advice
of Mr. Rigby. He assured Coningsby that the Church Commission was
operating wonders.... The great question now was their architecture.
Had George IV. lived, all would have been right. They would have
been built on the model of the Buddhist pagoda. As for loyalty, if
the present king went regularly to Ascot races, he had no doubt all
would go right. Finally, Mr. Rigby impressed on Coningsby to read the
_Quarterly Review_ with great attention, and to make himself master of
Mr. Wordy’s “History of the Late War,” in twenty volumes--a capital
work which proves that Providence was on the side of the Tories.’...”

As regards the principles and conduct of the Reform Ministers
themselves, years before he entered Parliament, in that brilliant
series of speeches on the hustings of High Wycombe and Taunton, which
preluded so many of his ideas, he denounced the incompleteness of the
measure and the inadequacy of the men. In 1832 he said--

“... If, instead of filling the humble position of a private
individual, I held a post near the person of my King, I should have
said to my sovereign, ‘Oppose all change, or allow that change which
will be full, satisfactory, and final.’ In the change produced by
the professing party now in power, there are omissions of immense
importance. These points they promised; these points they have not
given you; and now, after all their protestations, they turn round and
ask how the people can have the audacity to demand them.”[70]

In 1834 he denounced “the Whig system of centralisation,” and their
organised attempt to “overpower” the House of Lords and to despotise
the House of Commons, while of their subsequent disorganisation from
within, because of the failure of concerted opposition from without, he
gave that surpassing simile of Ducrow’s Circus. In 1835 he pursued the
subject of constitutional opposition, and he expressed his dread, as
he did in 1881, that if the Whigs remained “our masters for life, the
dismemberment of the Empire” might follow. And all this in the teeth of
what was then considered a system installed for fifty years, and which
would have promised him a personal triumph had he appeared then to
have chosen to have endorsed it.

But the views he always retained as to the first principles of
representation are best heard in a passage from _Coningsby_.

“... In the protracted discussions to which this celebrated measure
gave rise, nothing is more remarkable than the perplexities into which
the speakers on both sides are thrown when they touch upon the nature
of the representative principle. On the one hand, it was maintained
that under the old system the people were virtually represented, while,
on the other, it was triumphantly urged that, if the principle was
conceded, the people should not be virtually, but actually represented.
But who are the people? And where are you to draw a line? And why
should there be any? It was urged that a contribution to the taxes was
the constitutional qualification for the suffrage.” Here is repeated
what he had urged in the ’thirties, and was to reiterate in the
’fifties, that indirect taxation is as much taxation as direct; that
“the beggar who chews his quid as he sweeps a crossing is contributing
to the imposts; ... he is one of the people, and he yields his quota
to the public burthens.” The logical inference of such a qualification
must be to convert the suffrage from being a privilege into being a
right. Manhood suffrage, in common with all privilege unearned, is
usually prized by none, and even disregarded by most.

“Amid these conflicting statements,” he continues, “it is singular
that no member of either House should have recurred to the original
character of these popular assemblies which have always prevailed among
the northern nations.... When the crowned northman consulted on the
welfare of his kingdom, he assembled the estates of his realm. Now, an
estate is a class of the nation invested with political rights. Then
appeared the estate of the clergy, of the barons, of other classes.
In the Scandinavian kingdoms to this day the estate of the peasants
sends its representatives to the Diet. In England, under the Normans,
the Church and the Baronage were convoked together with the estate
of the Community, a term which then probably described the inferior
holders of land whose tenure was not immediate of the Crown. The Third
Estate was so numerous that convenience suggested its appearance by
representation, while the others, more limited, appeared, and still
appear, personally. The Third Estate was reconstructed as circumstances
developed themselves. It was a reform of Parliament when the towns were
summoned. In treating the House of the Third Estate as the House of
the People, and not as the House of a privileged class, the Ministry
and Parliament of 1831 virtually conceded the principle of universal
suffrage. In this point of view, the ten-pound franchise was an
arbitrary, irrational, impolitic qualification. It had indeed the merit
of simplicity, and so had the constitution of Abbé Sièyes. But its
immediate and inevitable result was Chartism.

“But if the Ministry and Parliament of 1831 had announced that the time
had arrived when the Third Estate should be enlarged and reconstructed,
they would have occupied an intelligible position; and if, instead of
simplicity of elements in its reconstruction, they had sought, on the
contrary, varying and various materials which would have neutralised
the painful predominance of any particular interest in the new scheme,
and prevented those banded jealousies which have been its consequence,
the nation would have found itself in a secure position. Another class,
not less numerous than the existing one, and invested with privileges
not less important, would have been added to the public estates of the
realm, and the bewildering phrase, ‘the People,’ would have remained
what it really is, a term of natural philosophy, and not of political
science.”

       *       *       *       *       *

The quality, then, of excellence, instead of the majorities of
multitude, the variety of every approved influence, and not the undue
weight of any overwhelming interest--these formed for him the true
bases of representation. He was ever for levelling up instead of down;
and, as we shall see, he was directly opposed to Mr. Hume’s fallacy
(still rampant) that by our traditions representation depends only on
taxation.

These ideas animated him throughout, and he achieved them in 1867,
not, though it has been insinuated, by filching the proposals of
his predecessors, but on the opposed principles which he continued
to advocate from the ’thirties to the ’sixties. In 1835, two years
before he entered Parliament, he expressed the same convictions in his
_Spirit of Whiggism_. He showed that the two Houses were the “House
of the Nation,” not the “House of the People,” but that both alike
represent the “Nation.” He proceeded to prove by powerful illustration
that, under whatever assumed form, political power will follow the
distribution of property. He emphasised the “passion for industry” as
an instrument of wealth as an English characteristic hostile to any
future revolution in the distribution of property. He proved that in
England revolution is ever a struggle for privilege, in Europe one
against it; and he concluded, therefore, that “... If a new class
rises in the State, it becomes uneasy to take its place in the natural
aristocracy of the land.... _The Whigs in the present day have risen on
the power of the manufacturing interest. To secure themselves in their
posts, the Whigs have given the new interest an undue preponderance._
But the new interest has obtained its object and is content.... The
manufacturer begins to lack in movement. Under Walpole the Whigs played
the same game with the commercial interest. A century has passed, and
the commercial interests are all as devoted to the Constitution as the
manufacturers soon will be.... The consequence of our wealth is an
aristocratic constitution, _founded on an equality of civil rights_.
And who can deny that an aristocratic constitution resting on such
a basis, where the legislative and even the executive office may be
obtained by every subject of the realm, _is in fact a noble democracy_?”

These are no dry theories, but surely a true version of growing facts.
Our Constitution _is_ that of a natural aristocracy founded on popular
privilege depending on the mutual exercise of duties. This free
aristocracy distributes its power through the estates of the realm,
and these orders should accord with the institutions to which they
have given rise; for, as Disraeli said in 1852, they are “popular”
without being absolutely “democratic.” When any one of them degenerates
into undue monopoly, the whole body must suffer; and should such a
catastrophe attain any permanence, one of the great institutions
through which English nationality thrives would be shattered by the
very order to which it corresponds. What Disraeli observes of the
eventual reduction of each new ascendant interest to aristocratic
influence, is beyond question. But that influence must rest on the
due performance of civil and social responsibilities which empower
it. Stripped of historical verbiage, the “constitution” harmonises
classes through special privileges and reciprocal duties. Of the
“middle-middles” he always spoke with respect, of the “lower-middles”
with much sympathy, not least as victims of the income-tax;[71] but he
ever doubted their governing capacity as a class; and when Sir Robert
Peel’s “monarchy of the middle classes” came into swing, Disraeli
feared the plutocracy which has happened, and which, when financial,
is more easily freed from political responsibility. The choice offered
between wealth omnipotent and mob-despotism, is a choice between
Scylla and Charybdis. To obviate it, Disraeli created in 1867 an
artisan franchise, accorded as a boon at length earned by character
and intelligence, and based on the _rating_ principle, which affords
a pledge of permanence; at the same time, he strove to countervail
the growing irresponsibility of wealth by relieving unprotected land
of its burdens and unrepresented labour of its degradation. By the
first, he strove to retain that sap of the soil which underlies the
English character, the English health, the English order, through
local government, the English freedom, and the English steadiness;
for (and this was said in 1852), “... Laws which, by imposing unequal
taxes, discourage that investment (_i.e._ capital invested in land, the
return for which is rent) are, irrespective of their injustice, highly
impolitic; for nothing contributes more to the enduring prosperity
of a country than the natural deposit of its surplus capital in the
improvement of its soil....” By the last, he tried to redress that
social misery which the measures of 1846 had not removed and had even
increased: the overcrowding of the towns, the displacement of labour,
the subsidising of foreign agriculture to the decultivation of English
land, the enthronement of Mammon and materialism--all denounced
and foreseen by him with wonderful prescience. Very soon after the
repeal of the Corn Laws, discerning, as Disraeli did, its drift of
denationalising tendencies, its certainty of some social and physical
demoralisation, as well as the possible changes in European competition
which might necessitate another “commercial and social revolution,” he
inveighed against the inference that “we are to be rescued from the
alleged power of one class, only to fall under the avowed dominion of
another;” he believed that “the monarchy of England, its sovereign
power mitigated by the acknowledged authority of the estates of the
realm, has its root in the hearts of the people, and is capable of
securing the happiness of the nation and the power of the State.” His
peroration--some of which I shall give in the next chapter--is a noble
flight of hope. He discerned at once that the transformation scene
of 1846 would affect society more than politics, and that the next
extension of the franchise must consequently prove a social antidote as
well as a social sedative.

In 1839, refuting Mr. Hume’s hobby already alluded to, he showed
that the theory is nowhere inherent in our Constitution, but is a
doctrinaire supplement of alien origin; that the “Commons” are a
political order invested with power for the performance of duties,
just as the Peers are a similar order, but needing no representation;
he re-urged that the House of Commons was the representative of
the “nation”--an organic whole, and not of the “people”--a vague
abstraction. He had even then already pointed out that, historically,
the delegates before the Restoration had perverted the national
traditions by announcing, more than a century before the French
Revolution, the sovereignty of the “people.” He once more stoutly
denied that “taxation and representation went hand-in-hand” according
to our constitution. There was representation without election, as
in the case of the Church in the Lords, for the Crown appointed the
bishops, not the clergy. And as regards taxation, it was indirect, as
well as, unfortunately, direct. In the same year, protesting against
Lord John Russell’s assumption of a “monarchy of the middle classes,”
Disraeli repeated that in this country “the exercise of political
power must be associated with great public duties,” just as in 1846,
when justifying the burdens on land so long as protection was accorded
it, he asserted that great honours demand great burdens. Again, in
1848, Disraeli, opposing Mr. Hume once more, and protesting against the
finality of the reconstruction of 1832, even before Lord John Russell
declared the question free for both parties in 1853 and 1856--strongly
condemned the radical scheme just because it did not “... enable the
labouring classes to take their place in the Constitution of the
country.” “If there be any mistake,” he said, “more striking than
another in the settlement of 1832, ... it is, in my opinion, that the
bill of 1832 took the qualification of _property_ in too hard and rigid
a sense, as the only qualification which should exist in this country
for the exercise of political rights.” In 1852, he again dinned into
unappreciative ears the necessity for a genuinely industrial franchise,
though he was not satisfied that Lord John Russell’s £5 franchise would
so operate. In 1859 and 1867, Disraeli tried hard to confer franchises
on education and thrift, but Mr. Bright sneered at them as “fancy
franchises,” Mr. Gladstone scoffed at them, and in forwarding the great
measure of labour suffrage by the compelled co-operation of both sides
of the House, Disraeli had to surrender safeguards he never ceased to
desire and to regret, for they are founded on the State recognition of
individual excellence, instead of on the State manipulation of mere
party mechanism.

“Is the possession of the franchise,” demanded Disraeli in 1851, “to
be a privilege, the privilege of industry and public virtue, or is
it to be a right--the right of every one, however degraded, however
indolent, however unworthy?... I am for the system which maintains in
this country _a large and free Government, having confidence in the
energies and faculties of man_. Therefore I say, make the franchise
a privilege, but let it be the privilege of _the civic virtues_.
Honourable gentlemen opposite would degrade the franchise to the man,
instead of raising the man to the franchise. If you want to have a
free aristocratic country, free because aristocratic (I use the word
‘aristocratic’ in its noblest sense--_I mean that aristocratic freedom
which enables every man to achieve the best position in the State to
which his qualities entitle him_), I know not what we can do better
than adhere to the _mitigated monarchy of England, with power in the
Crown, order in one estate of the realm, and liberty in the other_. It
is from that happy combination that we have produced a state of society
that all other nations look upon with admiration and envy.”

In all these considerations, the social results of measures and formulæ
were ever uppermost in his mind. What he had ever been resolute to
secure was, as he avowed even in 1850, “the industrial franchise,”
which the resettlement of 1832 had thrown to the winds.

Again, in 1865, “... It appears to me,” urged Disraeli, “that the
primary plan of our ancient constitution, so rich in various wisdom,
indicates the course that we ought to pursue in this matter. It secured
our popular rights by entrusting power, not to an indiscriminate
multitude, but to the estate, or order, of the Commons. And a wise
government should be careful that the elements of that estate _should
bear a close relation to the moral and material development of the
country_. Public opinion may not yet, perhaps, be ripe enough to
legislate as to the subject, but it is sufficiently interested in
the question to ponder over it with advantage; so that, _when the
time comes for action_, we may legislate in the spirit of the English
Constitution, _which would absorb the best of every class_, and not
fall into a ‘democracy’ which is the tyranny of one class, and that
_one the least enlightened_.”

Long before 1867, these continuous utterances culminated that typical
speech of 1859, which mooted a comprehensive plan of enlarged
representation of political power, yet undisturbed balance, and which
would have made “a representative assembly that is a mirror of the mind
as well as of the material interests of England.”

I shall quote largely from this unfamiliar speech. It illustrates
how far his lifelong principles applied to a juncture before the
artisans were wholly free from agitation against monarchy, and those
institutions which fence it round. All Radical schemes, compassing
“manhood suffrage,” all Whig schemes, merely delaying its day by
seeking to reduce rental or property qualifications to an arbitrary
minimum, were his aversion. Set, as he always was, against including
whatever at the moment formed the dregs of ignorance, or the sediment
of an unentitled populace, he already favoured that “rating” basis
which Lord John Russell, always constitutional, had himself propounded
in his abortive plan of 1854, and which Disraeli was to carry out
in 1867 as a safeguard of stability in the boroughs. But in 1859
Lord Derby did not consider its application feasible. Disraeli
had, therefore, now to forego it. Refusing to make any reductions
in the franchise, or yield an inch to “detached” democracy, he now
proposed to attain steadiness, to vary the vote, and to represent
enlightenment contrasted with mere property by recommending the
creation of the “compound householder” (“dwellers in a portion of
any house rented in the aggregate at £20”)[72]; by a new suffrage
for several small ownerships of property in the funds and savings
banks; and for education, by enfranchising graduates, ministers of
religion, physicians, barristers, and certain school-masters. He thus
both forecasted, so far as was then practicable, household suffrage
as against household democracy; and at the same time sought to
represent education and ensure variety. By his attendant scheme of
redistribution, he tried to prevent the counties from being “swamped”
by the towns, while at the same time he jealously guarded the local
independence of the boroughs. His purpose was to protect the country
districts against that invasion from the cities of agrarian demagogues
which, after his death, the stride forward of 1884 was to impel.[73]

But “finality is not the word of politics.” Progress changes
possibilities. He had to wait till the pear was ripe; till the working
man had been really reconciled to monarchy and its institutions; till
the ground had been laid for a generous scheme of national education,
and cleared by the sharply defined position of parties, which at last
brought into relief the issues between democracy as a due element and
as a domineering class. Nor, if he were now alive, would he fail to
discern that the appeal of present imperialism to present democracy
will be dangerous if made to it as a deciding class before it has
acquired the governing faculty by long apprenticeship. Democracy as
a leaven, democracy as the lump, are obviously distinct. The one
is “popular and national,” the other despotic or cosmopolitan. Our
artisans are now intensely national and patriotic; but the “submerged
tenth” would soon show themselves tyrants over the community.

       *       *       *       *       *

The pith of his argument is that mere numbers can never form the ground
of representation, which should rest on influence even more than
interest.

“... It appears to me that those who are called parliamentary reformers
may be divided into two classes. The first are those ... who would
adapt the settlement of 1832 to the England of 1859, and would act in
the spirit and according to the genius of the existing constitution....
But, sir, it would not be candid, and it would be impolitic not to
acknowledge that there is another school of reformers having objects
very different from those which I have named. The new school, if I
may so describe them, would avowedly effect a parliamentary reform on
principles different from those which have hitherto been acknowledged
as forming the proper foundations for this House. The new school of
reformers are of opinion that the chief, if not the sole, object of
representation is to realise the opinion of the numerical majority of
the country. Their standard is _population_, and I admit that their
views have been clearly and efficiently placed before the country.
Now, sir, there is no doubt that population is, and must always be,
one of the elements of our representative system. There is also such
a thing as property, and that too must be considered. I am ready to
admit that the new school have not on any occasion limited the elements
of their representative system solely to population. They have, with
a murmur, admitted that property has an equal claim to consideration;
but then, they have said that _property and population go together_.
Well, sir, population and property do go together--in statistics, but
in nothing else. Population and property do not go together in politics
and practice. I cannot agree with the principles of the new school,
either if population or property is their sole, or if both together
constitute their double, standard. I think the function of this House
is something more than merely to represent the population and property
of this country. _This House ought, in my opinion, to represent all
the interests of the country._ Now, those interests are sometimes
antagonistic, often competing, always independent and jealous; yet they
all demand a distinctive representation in this House, and how can that
be effected, under such circumstances, _by the simple representation
of the voice of the majority, or even by the mere preponderance of
property_? If the function of this House is to represent all the
interests of the country, you must, of course, have a representation
scattered over the country, because interests are necessarily local. An
illustration is always worth two arguments; permit me, therefore, so
to explain my meaning, if it requires explanation. Let me take the two
cases of the metropolis and that of the kingdom of Scotland.... Their
populations are at this time about equal. Their respective wealth is
very unequal.... There is between them the annual difference in the
amounts of income upon which the schedules are levied of that between
£44,000,000 and £30,000,000. Yet who would for a moment pretend that
the various classes and interests of Scotland could be adequately
represented by the same number of members as represent the metropolis?
So much for the population test. Let us now take the property test....
The wealth of the city of London is more than equivalent to that of
twenty-five English and Welsh counties returning forty members, and
of 140 boroughs returning 232 members. The city of London, the city
proper, is richer than Liverpool, Manchester, and Birmingham put
together.... It is richer than Bristol, Leeds, Newcastle, Sheffield,
Hull, Wolverhampton, Bradford, Brighton, Stoke-upon-Trent, Nottingham,
Greenwich, Preston, East Retford, Sunderland, York, and Salford
combined--towns which return among them no less than thirty-one
members. Yet the city of London has not asked me to insert it in the
bill, which I am asking leave to introduce, for thirty-one members....
So much ... for the property test.... But the truth is, that _men are
sent to this House to represent the opinions of a place; and not its
power_....

“Why, sir, the power of the city of London or that of the city of
Manchester in this House is not to be measured by the honourable
and respectable individuals whom they send here to represent their
opinions. I will be bound to say that there is a score--nay, that
there are threescore--members in this House who are as much and more
interested, perhaps, in the city of Manchester than those who are in
this House its authoritative and authentic representatives.... Look at
the metropolis itself, not speaking merely of the city of London. Is
the influence of the metropolis in this House to be measured by the
sixteen honourable members who represent it?... ... So much for that
principle of population, or that principle of property, which has been
adopted by some; or that principle of population and property combined,
which seems to be the more favourite form.... There is one remarkable
circumstance connected with the new school, who would build up our
representation on the basis of a numerical majority, and who take
population as their standard. It is this--that none of their principles
apply _except in cases where population is concentrated_. The principle
of population is ... a very notorious doctrine at the present moment,
but it is not novel.... It was the favourite argument of the late Mr.
Hume.... The principle, in my opinion, is false, and would produce
results dangerous to the country and fatal to the House of Commons. But
if it be true, ... then I say you must arrive at conclusions entirely
different from those which the new school has adopted. If population is
to be the standard, and you choose to disfranchise small boroughs and
small constituencies, it is not to the great towns you can, according
to your own principles, transfer their members....

“Let us now see what will be the consequence if the population
principle is adopted. You would have a House, generally speaking,
formed partly of great landowners and partly of great manufacturers.
I have no doubt that, whether we look to their property or to their
character, there would be no country in the world which could rival in
respectability such an assembly. But would it be a House of Commons;
would it represent the country; would it represent the various
interests of England? Why, sir, after all, the suffrage and the seat
respecting which there is so much controversy and contest, _are only
means to an end.... You want in this House every element that obtains
the respect and engages the interest of the country.... You want a
body of men representing the vast variety of the English character;
men who would arbitrate between the claims of those great predominant
interests; who would temper the acerbity of their controversies. You
want a body of men to represent that considerable portion of the
community who cannot be ranked under any of those striking and powerful
heads to which I have referred, but who are in their aggregate equally
important and valuable, and perhaps as numerous._”

He then adverted to the borough system as an indirect machinery for
this purpose, and contended that those who would sweep it away must
substitute “machinery as effective.” “... Now,” he continued, “there
is one remarkable feature in the agitation of the new school.... They
offer no substitute whatever.... I will tell you what must be the
natural consequence of such a state of things. The House will lose, as
a matter of course, its hold on the Executive. The House will assemble.
It will have men sent to it, no doubt, of character and wealth; and
having met here, they will be unable to carry on the Executive of the
country. Why? Because the experiment has been tried in every country,
and the same result has occurred; _because it is not in the power of
one or two classes to give that variety of character and acquirement
by which the administration of a country can be carried on_. Well,
then, what happens? _We fall back on a bureaucratic system_,[74] and
we should find ourselves, after all our struggles, in the very same
position from which, in 1640, we had to extricate ourselves. Your
administration would be carried on by a court minister, perhaps by a
court minion. It might not be in these times, but in some future time.
The result of such a system would be to create an assembly where the
members of Parliament, though chosen by great constituencies, would
be chosen from limited classes, and perhaps only from one class of
the community....” His own prescription for breaking monotony, he
described as “lateral,” not “vertical” extension.

Disraeli determined to settle this question himself, and to settle
it by the admission to the franchise of the “working” classes of the
country, and not by lowering it to the “man in the street,” or the
submerged tenth. In these views he followed the Toryism of Cobbett
rather than the Radicalism of Hume. Discussing Lord John Russell’s
proposals of 1860 “for the representation of the people” (which,
though it adopted the principle of rateability, was, in fact, merely a
reduction of the borough franchise to £6, and of the county occupation
to £10), Disraeli labelled its “simplicity” as “of a mediæval
character, but without any of the inspiration of the feudal system, or
any of the genius of the middle ages.” It sought only to scale down
a property qualification. The “claims of intelligence, acquirement,
and education” were ignored. As regarded the borough franchise, not
fitness, but number was the principle; and the numerical addition
accrued to one class only.

“... Let us now consider,” Disraeli continued, “whether the particular
class upon whom the noble lord is about to confer this great political
power, are a class who are incapable, or who are unlikely to exercise
it. Are they a class who have shown no inclination to combine? Are
they a class incapable of organisation? Quite the reverse. If we look
to the history of this country during the present century, we shall
find that the aristocracy, or upper classes, have on several very
startling occasions shown a great power of organisation. _I think
it cannot be denied that the working classes, especially since the
peace of 1815, have shown a remarkable talent for organisation, and
a power of discipline and combination inferior to none._ The same, I
believe, cannot be said of the middle classes. With the exception of
the Anti-Corn Law League, I cannot recall at this moment any great
successful political organisation of the middle classes; and living
in an age when everything is known, we now know that that great
confederation ... owed its success to a great and unforeseen calamity,
and was on the eve of dispersion and dissolution only a short time
before that terrible event occurred.” The upper and lower classes, he
argued, were capable of organisation and ideas, and the organisation of
the latter had been secret as well as disciplined. Their intelligence
and their discipline, then, were reasons for conferring the franchise,
but their traditional organisation was also a reason for care in
its bestowal, and such discrimination as would not give them a
_predominance_. “... What has been ... the object of our legislative
labours for many years, but to put an end to a class-legislation which
was much complained of? But you are now proposing to establish a class
legislation of a kind which may well be viewed with apprehension....”

Disraeli discerned that what in England is discontent, on the Continent
is disaffection; and that revolution abroad corresponds to reform
at home. Chartism verged perilously on the uprisings which endanger
countries where government is out of touch with the governed. It was
a sign that institutions might be on their trial, and it demanded
that those institutions should resume reality, and win once more the
affections of the people.

In his resolve to spread the franchise in his own manner, and to
neutralise the revolutionary bias of agitators and secret societies,
he never lost sight of the growing force of public opinion. He himself
was “a gentleman of the press;” in the improved and multiplied
newspapers he hailed the great safety-valve afforded to England by
that “publicity” on which “the great fabric of political freedom” has
been reared. “Free intercourse,” he exclaimed in the ’thirties, “is
the spirit of the age!” So late as 1872, he observed, “... That has
been the principle of the whole of our policy. First of all, we made
our courts of law public, and during the last forty years we have
completely emancipated the periodical press of England, which was
not literally free before, giving it such power that it throws light
upon the life of almost every class in this country, and I might say
upon the life of almost every individual.” In the press (the light of
which he perhaps valued more than the warmth), he welcomed an antidote
against hidden and perilous associations; and believed that if the
self-respecting hand-labourer received the vote (as he was entitled to
do), he would exercise it in the cause of freedom, of loyalty, and of
order. In 1862, he declared “parliamentary discipline founded on its
only sure basis, sympathising public opinion,” to be the watchword of
his propaganda. The passage summarises much that I have discussed.

“... To build up a community, not upon Liberal opinions, which any man
may fashion to his fancy, but upon popular principles which assert
equal rights, civil and religious; to uphold the institutions of the
country because they are the embodiment of the wants and wishes of
the nation, and protect us alike from individual tyranny and popular
outrage; equally to resist democracy” (as a form of government) “and
oligarchy, and to favour that principle of _free aristocracy_ which
is the only basis and security for constitutional government; ...
to favour popular education, because it is the best guarantee of
public order; to defend local government, and to be as jealous of
the rights of the working man as of the prerogative of the Crown and
the privileges of the senate;--these were once the principles which
regulated Tory statesmen (_i.e._ Bolingbroke and Wyndham), and I for
one have no wish that the Tory party should ever be in power unless
they practise them.”

In his great speech during the summer of the following year on “popular
principles” and “liberal opinions,” as well as on the introduction of
his actual Reform Bill, he gave expression once more to his distinction
between “popular privileges” and “democratic rights”--

“... If the measure bears some reference to the existing classes in
this country, why should we conceal from ourselves that _this country
is a country of classes, and a country of classes it will ever remain_?
What we desire to do is to give every one who is worthy of it a fair
share in the government of the country by means of the elective
franchise; but at the same time we have been equally anxious to
maintain the character of the House....”

As a matter of tactics, Disraeli had of design framed the bill on
lines stricter than he was prepared to concede. He desired that the
re-settlement should be enduring, and he deliberately appealed to the
co-operation of both parties for this purpose. He had “leaped in the
dark,” he had “shot Niagara.” The storm of obloquy, desertion, and
censure broke over his head, but he was unmoved, because his proposals
were based on principles long held and patiently matured. Of the lodger
franchise he had long ago been the “father.” An unmitigated household
franchise he refused as too “democratic.” The “direct taxation”
franchise and the “dual vote,” which were intended as barriers for the
middle classes, he surrendered. That educational franchise which was
bound up with a cause that from boyhood had been dear to him; that
“savings-bank” franchise which established the right of industrial
thrift to representation, he was forced to abandon, by the clamour of
the very party that desired education without religion, and labour
as the mere instrument of capital. Looking back impartially, these
derided “fancy franchises” seem to me a deplorable loss, and even now
it would be well to recognise that the mind and the character should
have representative faculties wholly apart from the power of property.
Disraeli was forced to cast them overboard that he might preserve
the vessel itself during the party hurricane. But the essential
qualifications of residence and rateability he maintained in the teeth
of Mr. Gladstone, and under all the modifications of the principle
which ensued. His mind was fixed to steer between the extremes alike of
those who, under the mask of emancipation, purposed the despotism of a
single class, and of those who desired to form the government of this
country by the caprice of an irresponsible, an unintelligent, and an
indiscriminate multitude. And he proved his earnest sincerity by the
appeal which closed his speech on the second reading: “_Pass the bill,
and then change the ministry if you like_.”

It is not within my province to track the maze of altercations which
attended every step of a bill on which Disraeli, contrary to his
wont, spoke more than three hundred times, or to raise the dust of
controversy this year revived. But, were it so, I could prove how
faithful Disraeli remained to the central ideas which had animated
him from his youth. So far from having passed a “liberal” measure, he
had passed under colossal difficulties, that for which he had long
striven, and in a manner which remedied the defects of 1832 without
endangering the repose of the State. Indeed, for the second time he
actually re-created the Conservative party, and, to the surprise of
some of his friends and all his enemies, discovered in the unknown
region of the toilers, with whom he had ever sympathised, whom he
had always trusted, but whom the Whigs had driven to revolt, and to
whom the “cheapest market” Radicals perpetually begrudged protection,
health, and alleviation--discovered, I say, in these elements--the
pawns of ignoble partisanship--his truest props of order and of
allegiance. The measure and the events of 1884 were to prove the
rightness alike of his confidence and of his caution. The counties with
a lowered franchise became a prey to agitators. The towns remained
staunch and steadfast. And this, though in 1867 Mr. Bright had sneered
at Disraeli for having “lugged” his “omnibus” of stupid squires up the
hill of democracy.

In his speech of 1859, Disraeli protested against any “predominance of
household democracy.” He kept his word. Speaking at Edinburgh in the
autumn of 1867, he remarked on this very topic--

“... It may be said you have established a democratic government in
England, because you have established household suffrage, and you have
gone much further than the measures which you previously opposed....
Now, I am not at all prepared to admit that household suffrage with the
constitutional conditions upon which we have established it--namely,
residence and rating--has established a democratic government. But it
is unnecessary to enter into that consideration, because we have not
established household suffrage in England. There are, I think I may
say, probably four million houses in England. Under our ancient laws,
and under the Act of Lord Grey, about one million of those householders
possessed the franchise. Under the Act of 1867, something more than
half a million will be added to that million. Well, then, I want to
know if there are four million householders, and one and a half million
in round numbers possess the suffrage, how can ‘household suffrage’ be
said to be established in England?”

Thus the proper balance of power, which the bill of 1832 impaired
by the exclusion of labour and the enfeeblement of aristocracy, was
restored. The people were at last reconciled to their leaders. It
had been by accident that the Whigs found themselves arbiters of
the national fate in 1832, and it may be conceded that, according
to their lights, they honestly did their best. To Lord Grey and
his colleagues Disraeli was always just and respectful. But the
breach then made demanded the amends which Disraeli had meditated
for years. By cancelling qualifications arbitrary and irrational,
by conferring political power only in conjunction with social and
political responsibility, by regarding society more than the state, and
influence than interest, by persistent courage and purpose, this great
project succeeded and has endured. The day may come in the process
of generations when, as Disraeli has imagined elsewhere, industry
may cease to repose upon industrialism alone, and representation may
also cease to seem the sole machinery of politics; when enlightenment
and public opinion may form a real national conscience; and when
leadership may prove itself independent of artificial forms. But till
that day arrives, it will be madness in England to give each citizen,
irrespective of any qualification but existence, a voice in the
Legislature, or entrust them with the sway of an empire. His avowed aim
and his accomplished triumph were “to restore those rights which were
lost in 1832 to the labouring class of the country,” and to “bring back
again that fair partition of political power which the old Constitution
of the country recognised.” A year after its enactment, in his great
Irish speech he spoke of it as “a most beneficent and noble Act,” and
he added that he looked “with no apprehension whatever to the appeal
that will be made to the people under the provisions of the Act. I
believe you will have a Parliament full of patriotic and national
sentiment, whose decisions will add spirit to the community and
strength to the State.” “Time,” which was “Contarini Fleming’s” record
in the book of “Adam Besso,” has proved the fulness of his foresight
and the skill of the adjustment.

The mistrust of this great measure at the time, even by men of
intelligence, may be justified by the objection that in the distant
future Labour may resume its war against authority in its coming
conflict with Capital; and that a rigid conservatism of defiance is
preferable to an adaptive conservatism of development. But whenever
that hour strikes, it will be seen that Disraeli’s statesmanship
has prevented the revolution which a conservatism of defiance must
have prepared and entailed. Disraeli will have helped to preserve
the English immunity from the violences which mark such upheavals
elsewhere. He sought with all his might to quicken Capital into duty,
and to hearten Labour by conferring privilege, not as a sop, but as a
reward, while, by alleviating misery through creative enactments, he
has conservatised Labour and kept it in touch with the national scheme.

It may not, perhaps, have been wholly realised how harmonious
Disraeli’s utterances respecting the progressive principles of
representation in England have been. That is my excuse for treating
the subject with insistence, though by no means with completeness. To
have done so would risk the exhaustion of the reader as well as of the
subject. Disraeli prevented the raid of alien and disruptive democracy
from making England a home. Out of the common he extracted the choice.
He revived the democracy long inherent in the English Constitution; he
naturalised the democratic idea on the soil of tradition and order; and
thereby he cemented the solidarity of the State and the welfare of the
nation. He proved that “progress” is not synonymous with push, and that
in going forward it is wise also to look back, lest the goal should be
a precipice. Still, long as this disquisition has necessarily been, I
may hope that it is not dull, since, in Mrs. Malaprop’s aphorism, “I
don’t think there is a superstitious article in it.”



CHAPTER III

LABOUR--“YOUNG ENGLAND”--“FREE TRADE”


In _Vivian Grey_, Disraeli mocks at the attitude of the early political
economists towards Labour in the person of “Mr. Toad,” who defined it
as “that exertion of mind or body which is not the involuntary effect
of the influence of natural sensations.” In the second of his long
series of election addresses, he promised to “withhold his support
from every ministry which will not originate some great measure to
ameliorate the condition of the lower orders, ... to liberate our
shackled industry....” The subject is closely allied to much already
surveyed. Here, however, I shall for the most part leave politics
alone, and confine myself mainly to the social aspects of the question,
for from this standpoint he himself approached it. On Mr. Villiers’
resolutions in 1852, he distinctly stated that he and his friends had
opposed the repeal of the Corn Laws on the main ground that it would
“prove injurious to the interests of Labour;” on the subsidiary ground
that it would injure “considerable interests in the country.” He had,
two years before, urged that it “was a question of labour, or it was
nothing.” Even in the _Revolutionary Epick_, fifteen years earlier, he
had sung, “The many labour, and the few enjoy.”

The extracts given in the preceding chapter from Disraeli’s speech
on Mr. Hume’s motion in 1848, illustrate the central ideas which he
enforced with singular pertinacity in all his published works and
public utterances.

They are mainly these.

It was an age of emancipation, and Peel liberated commerce. In so
doing he disjointed Labour. His two great reforms--that of the Tariff
and that of the Corn Laws--designed as inter-remedial, were certainly
calculated to disturb and dislocate Labour, the one by unloosing the
full forces of straining competition; the other by revolutionising the
centres of industry, by transferring population from the country to the
city, by impairing the landed interests, both high and low, by shifting
the distribution of toil. At the very moment before his relaxation of
the Corn Laws, Peel, conscious that he would disorganise Labour,[75]
had been unconsciously converted to the “right to physical happiness”
system of Manchester--the dryest embodiment of the theory of the French
“physical” equalitarians, on which I touched in my last chapter. His
economics of “cheapness,” the results of which he feared in relation to
the distribution of employment, thus became associated with a principle
that, as I have shown, demands “unlimited employment of labour.” He
freed Commerce, but he unsettled Labour, already rebelling against
the harsh workings of the new Poor Laws. Disraeli asked himself if
reduced tariffs would augment purchasing power, if dethroned land
would be succeeded by any novel power for alleviating the Labour thus
unhinged. And, further, he asked whether the middle class of 1846
would not reap the benefit without bearing the burden, just as it had
done in the Reform of 1832. What would be the effect of discontent on
the institutions of the country? The two great problems during the
whole decade of 1830-40, when there had occurred a real renaissance,
an awakening, had been Democracy and the Church. Was Democracy to
be detached from the order and orders of the State? was it to be an
anti-national solvent? And was the Church to realise its mission as
a society of believers instead of being perverted into a library of
assent? So far Chartism and Apostasy had been the answers. Were Sir
Robert Peel’s arithmetical measures, excellent as they were in theory,
any practical power for regeneration? Chartism’s inner causes had been
both the want of employment and the despair of the employed. In 1840,
he proclaimed, to his leader’s dismay, his deep sympathy, not with
Chartism, “but with the Chartists,” preyed on by ambitious leaders,
and victimised by official indifference. Throughout he regarded the
whole “condition of England” question from its moral and social
standpoints--to which economics should be subordinate--as touching
Labour at one end and Leadership at the other.

The claims of Labour, he says, are paramount as those of property.
Property and Labour should be allies, and not foes; nay, Labour is
itself the property of the poor, out of which the property of the rich
is accumulated. The gentlemen of England should form the advanced guard
of Labour; and, moreover, the master-workmen themselves compose “a
powerful aristocracy.” So long as property was allied both to land and
manufacture, a feeling of public spirit and public duty in the main
characterised the large employers. But a financial oligarchy was bound
to arise, and has arisen, linked by no visible ties to the workers,
and generous more by gifts of “ransom” than by personal participation;
a system of commerce, too, without leaders, which now works in groups
and merely on “cheapest market” principles, has sprung into being. And,
moreover, the vast multiplication of machines tended all along, and
tends more and more with the huge increase of intercommunication, to
exalt mechanism into life and to degrade the labourer into a machine,
himself devoid alike of powers and of duties. Over and over again
Disraeli championed, not only the employment of the people, but variety
in their employments. He is never wearied of scathing any system which
might enhance the grinding monotony of mechanical toil. And all this,
while the clamour for material enjoyment rises higher hour by hour; and
the labourer is driven, in his hard quest after squalid enjoyments,
more into the dark corners of organisations for coercing a State
expected to pauperise him, than to philanthropists eager to raise his
condition by preaching over his head, before the roof that covers it is
decent.

To combat the latter evils--among others--Disraeli started the “Young
England Movement,” and afterwards protested that the old system
of trade reciprocity, with tariffs as levers, had proved a better
guarantee for _social_ happiness than the retail wealth system of “free
imports.” At the same time, as I shall notice, after the repeal of
the Corn Laws had cheapened commodities, he was decidedly of opinion
that to go back would be too violent an upheaval, unless sanctioned
by the deliberate voice of an instructed nation under absolutely new
conditions. To forestall the dangers of financial and commercial
plutocracy,[76] he planned and supported the many alleviative measures
with which his name and Lord Shaftesbury’s are connected, in the teeth,
be it remembered, of the Radical and Utilitarian opposition; while
he proclaimed in the ’seventies, as he had before proclaimed in the
’fifties, his programme of _Sanitas sanitatum_--Health before Wealth.
He foresaw, too, the overcrowding of huge cities through the waste of
the soil, with all its attendant miseries; even so early as 1846 he had
urged that “nothing is so expensive as a vicious population;” and he
felt, also, that if life without toil is “a sorry sort of lot,” toil
without life is an infinitely worse one. Above all, he looked in this
matter, as throughout, far more to the regeneration of society than
to State interference, so easily evaded and so devitalising. And he
lamented the colossal enlargement of the towns, which isolates while it
excites.

“... In cities,” he protests in _Sybil_, “that condition is aggravated.
A density of population implies a severer struggle for existence, and
a consequent repulsion of elements brought into too close contact. In
great cities men are brought together by the desire of gain. They are
not in a state of co-operation, but of isolation, as to the making
of fortunes; and for all the rest, they are careless of neighbours.
Christianity teaches us to love our neighbours as ourself; modern
society acknowledges no neighbour.” But he descried already a rift in
the gloom. “Society, still in its infancy, is beginning to feel its
way.”

The late ’thirties and early ’forties, with their agitations against
middle-class apathy and aristocratic neglect, witnessed to the
reality of the disease which was known as the “condition-of-England
question.” Many of the nobles were not noble; never had been “so many
gentlemen, and so little gentleness.”[77] Exclusion from the suffrage
prevented the natural representation of injuries, and compelled
Labour to band itself covertly, and often under leaders embittered
and embittering with personal and clashing ambitions. The Reform Act,
contended Disraeli, had not reposed the government in abler hands,
nor elevated the head or enlarged the heart of Parliament. “... On
the contrary, one House of Parliament” (he is writing in 1845) “has
been irremediably degraded into the decaying position of a mere court
of registry, possessing great privileges, on condition that it never
exercises them; while the other Chamber, that at the first blush and
to the superficial exhibits symptoms of almost unnatural vitality, ...
assumes on a more studious inspection somewhat of the character of a
select vestry fulfilling municipal rather than imperial offices, and
beleaguered by critical and clamorous millions who cannot comprehend
why a privileged and exclusive senate is requisite to perform functions
which immediately concern _all_....”

Undoubtedly Labour is far better situated in 1904 than it was in
1844, and undoubtedly this improvement is partly due to Disraeli’s
influence and action. The ideals of “Young England” have borne fruit.
Our “Toynbee Halls” and university settlements, the recognition of
_noblesse oblige_, the trained public opinion that superior light and
leading are in duty bound to lead and enlighten as well as help the
poor; that the poor are their _tenants_; that--

     “Not what we give, but what we share:
      The gift without the giver is bare;”

--these and their tone are its outcome. His policies of health and
humanisation, of wholesome housing before technical teaching, for
first emancipating Labour from carking cares and then entrusting it
with public duties, have prospered. Chartism and its allied mutinies
have subsided into citizenship. The artisans of to-day are princes
in comparison with what they were. The contracted sloth of the
utilitarian middle class has been shaken to follow what emanated from
the universities. In his Guildhall speeches of 1874 and 1875 Disraeli
could point with pride to Capital at one with Labour, and to operatives
in sympathy with privileges which they shared. At this moment they
are catered as well as cared for; and yet their independence is far
completer than when it was aggressive because it was cowed.

But none the less, the fatal overcrowding which he foresaw, the
self-divestment by Mammon of direct and immediate responsibilities,
has produced a fresh class of the “sweated” and rookeried masses,
multiplying the unemployed and--what is worse--the unemployable in
compound ratio, and still menacing the physique of the nation. The
pressure of poverty is ever with us; of its wretchedness research
has indeed called forth a science. As what we deemed the lowest
ascends, a fresh depth of distress is always bared to our shame. The
democratisation of local government through the county councils has
indeed done much, and will do more, for the proletariate; but their
lack, with notable exceptions, of high leadership, their tendency to
municipal centralisation, their careless and inexperienced prodigality
with the public purse, their bias towards pauperisation, their tendency
to promote the feverish political ambitions of a class, and sometimes
to confuse the cause of industry with that of its captains, remain a
danger, though, I believe, a vanishing danger, to the State.

       *       *       *       *       *

Disraeli’s earliest novel--one of the books “written by boys,” vague in
its restlessness and untamed in its dazzling extravagance, contains in
its episode of “Poor John Conyers” the germ of that genuine sympathy
with Labour which he afterwards more seriously developed. Apart from
his human instincts and from his desire for a real national unity, it
was founded on his contempt for the merely mechanical or formal in
society; and in 1845, on that tour of experience in Lancashire which
brought home to him anew the terrible gulf between “the two nations”
of rich and poor, and which the pathos, the humour, the wit and the
thought of _Sybil_ have immortalised.

Few that have read _Coningsby_ will forget the vivid impressions of
Manchester machinery in its pages. They are, perhaps, too familiar for
quotation, and I prefer here to cite some sentences from _Sybil_.

“... Twelve hours of daily labour at the rate of one penny each hour;
and even this labour is mortgaged,” groans the loom-worker. “... Then
why am I here?... It is that the capitalist has found a slave that has
supplanted the labour and ingenuity of man. Once he was an artisan; at
the best he only now watches machines; and even that occupation slips
from his grasp to the woman and the child. The capitalist flourishes,
he amasses wealth; we sink, lower and lower; lower than the beasts of
burthen; for they are fed better than we are, cared for more. And it
is just, for according to the present system they are more precious.
And yet they tell us that the interests of Capital and of Labour are
identical. _If a society that has been created by labour suddenly
becomes independent of it, that society is bound to maintain the race
whose only property is labour, out of the proceeds of that other
property which has not ceased to be productive._... We sink among no
sighs except our own. And if they give us sympathy--what then? Sympathy
is the solace of the Poor; but for the Rich there is Compensation.

“You (the nobles) govern us still with absolute authority, and you
govern the most miserable people on the face of the globe. ‘And is this
a fair description of the people of England?’ said Lord Valentine. ‘A
flash of rhetoric, I presume, that would place them lower than ... the
serfs of Russia or the lazzaroni of Naples.’

“‘Infinitely lower,’ said the delegate, ‘for they are not only
degraded, but conscious of their degradation. _They no longer believe
in any difference between the governing and the governed classes of
this country._ They are sufficiently enlightened to feel they are
victims. Compared with the privileged of their own land, they are in
a lower state than any other population compared with its privileged
classes.’

“‘The people must have leaders,’ said Lord Valentine.

“‘And they have found them,’ said the delegate.

“‘When it comes to a push, they will follow their nobility,’ said Lord
Valentine.

“‘Will their nobility lead them?’ said the other delegate....

“‘We have an aristocracy of wealth,’ said the delegate who had chiefly
spoken. ‘In a progressive civilisation wealth is the only means of
class distinction; but a new disposition of wealth may remove even
this.’

“‘Ah! You want to get at our estates,’ said Lord Valentine, smiling,
‘but the effort on your part may resolve society into its original
elements, and the old sources of distinction may again develop
themselves.’

“‘Tall barons will not stand against Paixhans’ rockets,’ said the
delegate. ‘Modern science has vindicated the natural equality of man.’

“‘And I must say I am very sorry for it,’ said the other delegate;
‘for human strength always seems to me the natural process of settling
affairs.’”

To cherish national unison as a higher form of human harmony than
the discordant bond of automatic groups; to force the governing to
sympathise with the governed; to establish that “Labour requires
regulation as much as Property;” to raise, train, improve and establish
labour “rather,” as he wrote in 1870, “by the use of ancient forms and
the restoration of the past than by political revolutions founded on
abstract ideas,” were Disraeli’s aims. In all except the important one
of the last, the means for accomplishing them, Carlyle’s message is the
same. There is a passage in _Coningsby_ where Disraeli dreams that a
day may come when industry will cease to obey mere industrialism. There
is another in Carlyle’s “Past and Present”[78] to the same effect.
For both, the nobility of labour was a central idea; for both, the
conviction that the cavaliers of England should prove its captains; for
both, _Sanitas sanitatum_ was a practical ideal. “Deliver me,” cries
Carlyle, “these rickety perishing souls of infants, and let your cotton
trade take its chance.” Disraeli and Carlyle alike abominated the
doctrine that national happiness consists merely in material wealth. A
shared or common wealth of endeavour and influence was a goal for each;
for each, too, the main problem remained, “_How, in conjunction with
inevitable democracy, indispensable sovereignty is to exist._”

“... If there be a change,” said Sybil, “it is because in some degree
the People have learnt their strength.”

“Ah! Dismiss from your mind those fallacious fancies,” said Egremont.
“The People are not strong; the People never can be strong. Their
attempts at self-vindication will end only in their suffering and
confusion. It is civilisation that has effected, that is effecting,
this change. It is that increased knowledge of themselves that teaches
the educated their social duties. _There is a day-spring in the history
of this nation which perhaps those only who are on the mountaintops
can as yet recognise. You deem you are in darkness, and I see a dawn._
The new generation of the aristocracy of England are not tyrants, not
oppressors, Sybil.... Their intelligence, better than that, their
hearts, are open to the responsibility of their situation. But the
work that lies before them is no holiday work. It is not the fever
of superficial impulse that can remove the deep-fixed barriers of
centuries of ignorance and crime. Enough that their sympathies are
awakened; time and thought will bring the rest. They are the natural
leaders of the People, Sybil....”

I may be permitted to point out a likeness and a contrast. The seething
ferment on the Continent was pricking Labour into an insurgent
materialism which, in the dearth of ancient and active institutions
fraught with the balm of healing, leagued itself to attack all forms of
authority, kingship and capital alike.

“Ah, the People, this poor King in tatters,” wrote Heine from Paris
in 1848, “has fallen on flatterers far more shameless, as they swing
their censers around his head, than the courtiers of Byzantium or
Versailles. These court lackeys of the People incessantly vaunt its
virtues and excellences, crying aloud: ‘How beautiful is the People!
how good is the People! how intelligent is the People!’ No, you lie.
The People is not beautiful; on the contrary, it is very ugly. But its
ugliness is due to its dirt, and will vanish with public baths for the
free ablutions of his Majesty. A piece of soap, too, will do no harm;
and we shall then see a People in the beauty of cleanliness--a washen
People. The People whose goodness is thus magnified is not good at all.
It is often as bad as other potentates. But its baseness flows from
hunger. When once it has well eaten and drunk, it will smile, gracious
and well-favoured as the rest. Nor is his Majesty over-intelligent. He
is possibly stupider than the others--stupid with the bestiality of his
minions; he will only love or heed the speakers, or howlers, of the
jargon of his passions: he hates every brave soul that converses in the
speech of reason, and that would ennoble and enlighten him.”

Heine was leading “Young Germany.” A few years earlier, Disraeli was
leading “Young England.” The contrast between the atmosphere of the
two countries deserves a passing comment. “Young England” aimed at
betterment in that very feudal spirit which the poet--the “unfrocked
Romantic”--by turns breathed and spurned. In Germany the weird medley
of the “Romantic School” had for fifty years been striving to rewaken
the myths, the chivalry, the wistfulness of the past. But its direct
influences were merely æsthetic, and mainly sentimental; while they
eventually became actually anæmic--a vague reverie of mediæval
moonlight and pallid ghosts. The uprooting French Revolution had swept
away both castle and cobwebs, and in Germany the “folk-song” was the
sole antiquity to which this Romantic attachment could cling, and by
which it could touch the patriotism of a disunited people. But in
England, Scott’s “buff-jerkin” revival, at which Carlyle so unjustly
scoffed, was more than a literary sport; it had already braced the
nation with the fresh breeze of an invigorating tradition. It brought
back and home the inheritance of a real throne and a real nobility,
of chivalry, of daring, and of prowess; it reminded the people that
the humblest was once protected by the highest; and though it perhaps
burked or omitted much that disgraced the age of the tournament, the
foray, and the cloister, it quickened its best, its most hopeful and
most cheerful elements. It took the dry bones from their mouldering
tomb and put the breath of life, the wholesome laughter of humour,
and the brightness of beauty into and about their scattered fragments;
whereas in Germany the Romantics rather embalmed and buried the living
energies of the present in a Gothic mausoleum, weird with wan emblems,
and chill and solemn as a cathedral vault.

Disraeli recognised that our country thrives by adaptation and
adjustment; that it is the region of natural growth, and not of sudden
blossom; of the oak, not the aloe. In inter-dependence, even more than
independence, in the mutual ties of classes, Disraeli discerned the
English root for democratic ideas which had all along lurked in the
soil. England is great because of that same insular inaccessibility to
ideas which repelled Heine. Her slowness of insight vanishes gradually,
and not by leaps and bounds--through growth and conduct rather than
through universal theories. An idea knocks at our gates for generations
before it wins admittance; but when it once enters, it becomes
naturalised and ceases to be alien; it becomes actualised; it dwells
and walks and votes, and has commerce at large. It becomes part of the
popular life and parcel of the national behaviour.

“Young England” prepared the ground for social regeneration. It sought
to raise the conditions of labour. It was no rose-water club, but,
short-lived as it proved, was a real forerunner of measures. A word,
therefore, upon it may be pardoned in this connection. Many in the
past century have played the part of “saviours of society.” Robert
Owen, Ferdinand Lassalle, Napoleon III., Karl Marx, and the eccentric
Mr. Urquhart, who furnished some of the _traits_ for Disraeli’s
“Sidonia.”[79] But none in this country have been at once so genuine
and effective as this association of “Young England;” for, enlisting
the enthusiasm of the high and the young, it struck into the roots of
national character, without which no development is feasible. Young
England aimed further, at rendering leadership sympathetic with labour.
It wanted to revive in the lowly a sense of privilege, and in the
noble to quicken higher standards of obligation; it wished to recall
the heroic; and this it tried to accomplish, not by social disturbance,
but by seeking to arouse ancient ideals still slumbering in national
traditions. For this purpose it appealed to youth--“the trustees of
posterity;”[80] to the power of personal influence and example; and
above all, it hoped, as I have already noticed, to counteract the
soullessness of utilitarianism.

“Ah, yes!” (Disraeli makes Gerard observe in _Sybil_); “I know that
style of speculation.... Your gentlemen who remind you that a working
man now has a pair of cotton stockings, and that Harry the Eighth was
not so well off. At any rate, the condition of classes must be judged
of by the age and by their relations with each other.”

It was also a vigorous protest against that retort of the Liberal on
the Radical--the sluggish doctrine of _laissez-faire_, the principle
of “stew-in-your-own-juice,” “devil take the hindmost,” “muddling
through,” and “let _ill_ alone.” Disraeli had combated it from the
first:--

“In Vraibleusia” (I quote from his early satire of _Popanilla_) “we
have so much to do that we have no time to think--a habit which only
becomes nations who are not employed. You are now fast approaching the
great shell question; a question which, I confess, affects the interest
of every man in this island more than any other.... No one, however,
can deny that the system works well; and if anything at any time go
wrong, why, really Mr. Secretary Periwinkle is a wonderful man, and our
most eminent conchologist--he no doubt will set it right; and if by any
chance things are past even his management, why, then, I suppose, to
use our national motto, _something will turn up_.”

It further served as antidote to the self-complacence and retail
outlook of the _bourgeoisie_. The “Middle-Middles,” healthfully and
powerfully as they symbolise decency, order, and common sense, too
often lack, even in their educated varieties, perception and sympathy.
At present they pervade Parliament, while the Press--which since 1867
appeals more and more to the gallery--controls opinion. Hence the
dearth of accord between the prate of Parliament and a nation that
realises its unity. Hence springs the momentary decay of Parliament
itself--not from party spirit, but from the inanition of parties
representing principles, without which party sinks into faction.

Of the anti-middle class attitude of “Young England,” a notable
instance occurs in “Angela Pisani,” the brilliant fiction of George
Smythe, afterwards seventh Lord Strangford (in Disraeli’s words),
“a man of brilliant gifts; of dazzling wit, infinite culture and
fascinating manners,” who “could promulgate a new faith with graceful
enthusiasm.” The tirade is placed on the lips of Napoleon, denouncing
the “puddle-blooded” whom he had “made great men, but could not make
gentlemen,” and its reproaches--certainly not characteristic of
Disraeli--apply, of course, in an infinitely less degree to England.

The nucleus of “Young England” had begun in a close association of
university friends. The Cambridge “Apostles” comprised Tennyson and
Hallam, Monteith and Doyle, and “Cool-of-the-evening” Monckton-Milnes.
Disraeli, Lord Strangford, and Lord John Manners reinforced this
nucleus with Faber, Hope, Baillie Cochrane (afterwards Lord Lamington),
and others; they gave them an ampler scope and a longer view, but not
without murmuring jealousies. They taught that the spirit of reform
transcended its letter, and that the English “romantic school”--just
as later on the English pre-Raphaelites in Art--must reseek the
fountainhead of original principles. Milnes wrote in 1844: “You must
have been amused at the name of ‘Young England,’ which we started
so long ago, being usurped by opinions so different and so inferior
a tone of thought. It is, however, a good phenomenon in its way,
and one of its products--Lord John Manners--a very fine, promising
fellow. The worst of them is that they are going about the country
talking education and liberality, and getting immense honour for the
very things for which the Radicals have been called all possible
blackguards and atheists a few years ago.”

The newer Radical reforms, however, were based on “the greatest
happiness” principle of utility; whereas the league of “Young England”
was founded on the expansion of traditions, and more especially on
the immemorial rights of Labour. What “Young England” really effected
was to infuse enthusiasm into institutions. In 1838 this same “Mr.
Vavasour” of _Tancred_, and “Mr. Tremaine Bertie” of _Endymion_, had
also written: “We have set agoing a new dining club which promises
well. Twenty of the most charming men in the universe met last Tuesday.
They won’t call it ‘Young England,’ however.” It is no disrespect to
the memory of the late Lord Houghton to say that the vague eclecticism
of his youth scarcely fostered a robust energy or a keen insight. His
“remarks” on _Coningsby_ in _Hood’s Magazine_ under the name of “Real
England” were a sympathetic commentary; but, a born _dilettante_, he
“lionised” ideas as he “lionised” genius. He patted intuition on the
back. He was the Mrs. Leo Hunter of politics; and he played admirably
the part of “Bennet Langton” to Carlyle’s “Dr. Johnson.” He somewhat
prattled of “silences” and “eternities.” Well does Disraeli make
“Waldershare” in _Endymion_ exclaim of him: “... What I do like in him
... is this revival of the Pythagorean system, and heading a party of
silence. That is rich.”

Lord Lamington--the “Buckhurst” of _Coningsby_--who in his pleasant
glimpse of the movement has supplemented its muster-roll by the names
of Borthwick and Stafford, quotes Serjeant Murphy’s pasquinade of “Jack
Sheppard.” Its last verse runs as follows:--

     “_We have Smythe and Hope with his opera-hat,
      But they cannot get Dicky Milnes, that’s flat--
      He is not yet tinctured with Puseyite leavening,
      But he may drop in in the ‘cool of the evening.’_”

The “Puseyite leavening” recalls the strictures of Carlyle on the High
Church proclivities of a portion of the movement. Coleridge’s great
book on the Church had undoubtedly stirred both thought and enthusiasm.
Disraeli, as I shall show hereafter, wished to make the Church a
living social regenerator of the “national spirit,” to see it at once
disciplined and enthusiastic, to restore its original functions, to
render it really “Anglican;” and in his old age--strenuously opposed as
he ever was to the “mass in masquerade,” firmly resolved as he remained
to uphold orderly Protestantism--he has outlined at once a portrait and
a type of his permanent meaning in the person of “Nigel Penruddock;”
just as he has drawn a picture of “Young England” Anglicanism in the
“St. Lys” of _Sybil_, the prototype of whom was Faber.

In the spring of 1844, Carlyle thus characteristically addresses
Monckton-Milnes--

“... _On the whole, if ‘Young England’ would altogether fling its
shovel-hat into the lumber-room, much more cast its purple stockings to
the nettles, and honestly recognising what was dead, ... address itself
frankly to the magnificent but as yet chaotic Future, ... telling men
at every turn that it knew and saw for ever clearly the body of the
Past to be dead (and even to be damnable, if it pretended to be still
alive and to go about in a galvanic state), what achievement might
not ‘Young England’ manage for us!_” Carlyle was ever a free-thinking
Puritan, a creedless Calvinist. “What was dead,” “what pretended still
to be alive,” was the Church of England.... It is easy to deride that
youthful display of poor metre, but fine enthusiasm, “England’s Trust,”
by Lord John Manners.

     “_With Roncesvalles upon his banners
      Comes prancing along my Lord John Manners._”

Carlyle misliked in him what he disliked in Scott, the “properties” of
Romanticism. But the earnestness of Manners’s little volume is beyond
question. In the Church it recognises the national recuperative force
and salve for anarchy. “We laugh at all commandment save our own,”
sighs the boyish devotee--

     “_Yes, through the Church must come the healing power
      To bind our wounds in this tumultuous hour._”

And Labour had ever been the sacred trust of the Church. Divorce Labour
from religion, and the State falls. It had been the fault of the
Church herself that Labour had gone out of history, as it were, and
crossed over to a more primitive form of true religious fervour under
the Methodist revival; but the Church alone, as a national growth,
could hope, if true to its high destinies, for the preservation of the
great mass of the populace from the disruptive elements of unbelief.
The Church, too, was the natural educator of the people. True,
Manners’s Anglicanism was that of Laud; true, also, to that name he
rhymes “adored.” But it is also true that the whole brotherhood felt
that if the Church, and through it the State, was to be quickened, it
must revert, like the State, to its origin; it must no more be regarded
merely as an endowed official or as a consecrated police, but as a
divine institution. Moreover, Disraeli also regarded the English Church
as the special protectress of popular liberties. I shall return to this
subject in its proper place hereafter; but I may here add that these
convictions of “Young England” were vehemently advocated by Disraeli
in his speeches on the Irish Church more than twenty years after the
“Young England” brotherhood came to an end.

Disraeli always urged the immense importance of parochial life as even
greater than political. Had the higher classes understood “the order
of the peasantry,” ricks and dwellings would not have been burned down
in the ’thirties. In advocating the claims of ancient country-side
customs, he raised the plea of humanising ceremony--one certainly
cherished by the upper classes for themselves. The people would not, it
is true, be “fed” by morris revelries, and they starved equally without
them.

It was not to be expected that such a cause, with such a leader,
followed by aristocratic youth and attended by the revival of
maypole dances and tournaments, should escape ridicule and even
suspicion. Grey-headed noblemen, who resented any efforts to render
institutions real, and for whom enthusiasm meant vulgarity, shook
their heads over the follies of their sons, seduced by the wiles
of a designing adventurer. But to such as still doubt Disraeli’s
sincerity in these matters, and refuse to be convinced by a long chain
of after-utterances, I would simply suggest the following fact.
Disraeli’s speech of April 11, 1845, on the Maynooth grant[81] broke
up the “Young England” association, and terminated his leadership of
it. What was the main principle of that speech? It was this: “... You
find your Erastian system crumbling from under your feet.... I have
unfaltering confidence in the stability of our Church, but I think that
the real source of the danger which threatens it is its connection with
the State, which places it under the control of the House of Commons
that is not necessarily of its communion.” He denied that the State
had ever “endowed” the Church. The Church owned property which was the
patrimony of the poor. He argued that since 1829 the State’s relation
to the Church had altered. He implied, as he often afterwards asserted,
that the union of Church and State was for the benefit of the State far
more than for that of the Church. Now, this attitude was eminently that
of his “Young England” professions. And yet its fearless expression
dissolved a gathering which his detractors maintained was used merely
as a step to personal advancement.

Carlyle, in the passage above cited, evinced the same irritable
impatience that he exhibited in 1849, when he cursed parliamentary
institutions because a particular Parliament had over-talked itself.
He was an iconoclast who, however, often confused the symbol with the
faith that underlies it, and in dethroning the image would have dashed
the glamour of its shrine. In 1848--the year of anarchy--Disraeli made
a famous speech (the speech which procured him his future leadership of
the House). He upheld these institutions while he denounced that very
Parliament which moved Carlyle’s indignation. The future has proved him
right, and the sage wrong. The practical fruits of the future, too,
have vindicated the peculiar tinge that Disraeli himself lent to the
“Young England” brotherhood.

One closing word on the social aims of “Young England.” I may summarise
them by the phrase “Health and Home.” They compassed the relief of
industry, and they implied the effort to shame the knights of industry
into some chivalry towards it.

“Pitt,” wisely comments Mr. Kebbel, “ended the quarrel between the King
and the aristocracy, and reconciled the Whig doctrine of monarchy with
the Whig doctrine of Parliament. Peel accommodated Toryism to the new
_régime_ established by the Reform Bill, and his name will always be
identified with the progress of middle-class reform. _Lord Beaconsfield
carried Toryism into the next stage, and made it the business of his
life to close up the gap in our social system which ... had been
gradually widening, and to reconcile the working classes to the Throne,
the Church, and the Aristocracy._”

To those who object that beyond Foreign Policy and the last Reform
Bill, Disraeli effected little that is lasting, this is the answer.
He was prouder of his many social reforms than of his Berlin Treaty.
He was a born conciliator. He put a new and powerful leaven into the
social lump, and he inspired the generous youth of the country. What
he especially sought to mitigate was irresponsible Plutocracy, with a
shifting stock of vagrant and unrelated Labour bought in the cheapest
market, sold in the dearest; without stability, without ties, without
allegiance.

“‘I am not against Capital’ (he makes “Enoch Craggs” declaim in
_Endymion_), ‘what I am against is Capitalists.’

“‘But if we get rid of capitalists, we shall soon get rid of capital.’

“‘No, no,’ said Enoch, with his broad accent, shaking his head and with
a laughing eye. ‘Master Thornberry (the Radical) has been telling you
that. He is the most inveterate capitalist of the whole lot.... Master
Thornberry is against the capitalists in land; but there are other
capitalists nearer home, and I know more about them. I was reading a
book the other day about King Charles--Charles I., whose head they cut
off--I am very liking to that time, and read a good deal about it; and
there was Lord Falkland, a great gentleman of those days, and he said
when Archbishop Laud was trying on some of his priestly tricks, that
“If he were to have a Pope, he would rather the Pope were at Rome than
Lambeth.” So I sometimes think, if we are to be ruled by capitalists, I
would sooner, perhaps, be ruled by gentlemen of estate, who have been
long among us, than by persons who build big mills, who come from God
knows where, and, when they have worked their millions out of our flesh
and bone, go God knows where....’”

The two river bills carried at Disraeli’s instigation in 1852; the
twenty-nine bills for ameliorating the position of factory operatives,
passed despite those Radicals who predicted ruin for the manufacturer;
the Employers and Workmen Acts, the Conspiracy and Protection of
Property Act, the Poor Law Amendment Act, the Commons Act, the
Artisans’ Dwellings Acts, the Public Health Act, the Rating Act,
the Employers’ Liability Acts, the Agricultural Holdings Act, among
many others, attest the victory of “popular Toryism” over “class
Liberalism,” and the protection of suffering against selfishness.
“Young England,” like all Utopian propaganda, was a romantic vision,
and exceeded actuality. But in essence it has been eminently practical.
Classes (of which England is made) are infinitely more in communion
than they were in 1840. The effort to set them by the ears and to
oppose the “masses” to the “classes” has ignominiously failed. The
Church of England has roused itself to the national needs beyond all
comparison with those days. The appeals of _Sybil_, _Coningsby_, and
_Tancred_, ridiculed as rodomontade and branded as a charlatan’s
dodge, have been rendered into action, and stand confessed as the
deeply felt and pondered schemes of a poet and a statesman. “When,”
says Bolingbroke, “great coolness of judgment is united to great
warmth of imagination, we see that happy combination which we call a
genius.” Such has proved Disraeli, and his inmost soul is embodied in
that “Young England” which he organised and encouraged in a freezing
atmosphere. Over fifty years ago he exhorted youth, at the Manchester
Athenæum, as “the trustees of posterity.” “The man,” he then said, “who
did not look up would look down, and he who did not aspire was destined
perhaps to grovel.” The youth of to-day is far more conscious of its
burden than was the youth of any class in the ’forties.

It was mainly on these social grounds that Disraeli resisted that
system of free imports which has gone down to history as “Free Trade.”
He never denied that it was calculated to enrich manufacturers
and manufacturing centres; he grew to admit its benefits to the
consumer, although these were by no means wholly due to its action;
but he deprecated its “economic frenzy.” He held that it injured the
producer[82] and played havoc both with land and distribution of
labour. He thought it would eventually impair morale and physique,
and sacrifice the general welfare to the material interests of a
class; and, before it was nationally adopted, he considered that all
ends would have been better served by the adoption of that system
of reciprocal treaties[83]--on a principle called by him “at once
national and cosmopolitan”--which was termed “Free Trade” in the days
of Pitt, and had been inaugurated in 1713 by the abortive tariff of
the great Utrecht Treaty; nor will it now be doubted that if in 1846 a
comprehensive scheme of technical education had been set on foot, many
of the evils engendered by over-competition would have been avoided,
whatever fiscal system this country had chosen.

Writing so early as 1832 to the Wycombe electors, he even then
declared: “... With regard to the Corn Laws, I will support any change,
the basis of which is _to relieve the consumer without injuring the
farmer_.” This was not the “Radical” doctrine of those days.

Disraeli has shown conclusively that in English history such a
principle as absolute “protection” never existed. The original
principle up to the time of Anne was to feed and supply a population
then small enough so to be supported at home, and to encourage the
wealth and power of trade. He has shown that Walpole, in this respect
imitating the rival whom he destroyed, wisely followed this principle
in its colonial applications; though he unwisely divorced productive
trade from the land, and set the moneyed against the landed classes,
the high finance against the country gentlemen, into whose shoes,
however, it soon stepped. He has shown that when the colonial system
broke down by the secession of our greatest and worst governed colony,
Pitt the Second reverted to the old, the natural principle of exchange
with the continent by tariff. The exigencies of the Revolutionary and
Napoleonic wars forced an interlude; and for a time England was fed
by foreign corn in free competition with her own--the very time when
the loaf was dearest. But Lord Liverpool recurred to the principle;
and Peel up to 1845--when his hand was confessedly forced by the
appalling famine in Ireland--was in favour of the varying duties termed
the sliding scale, as opposed to the fixed duties of the Whigs and
the no-duties of the Radicals. That scale he eventually surrendered
under the impulse of Lord John Russell’s “Edinburgh Letter,” and was
suddenly converted by the Manchester School. In logic, and apart from
human and national instincts, their theories were as irrefragable as
those of our modern bimetallists, and of those ancient economists on
whose doctrines they rested. But their lasting usefulness depended
on the final achievement of a cosmopolitan confederation. Disraeli
presaged with weighty reasons, scouted when they were detailed, that
other nations would never fall into the scheme; he analysed the
special conditions of France, Germany, and America. He also foretold,
concerning corn, in common with all articles of certain and practically
unlimited demand (as cotton and tea, for examples), that “the moment
you have a settled market, in exact proportion to the demand, prices
will fall. This is the inevitable rule.” He pressed further the grave
peril, hardly yet realised, of England’s dependence on foreign supplies
in time of war. But beyond all, he emphasised the social dangers--the
misery for individuals and for classes. In this precipitate measure
towards a material class-millennium, he discerned a large element
of possible denationalisation, a displacement of labour which must
unavoidably deluge the unwieldy towns, and which would to some extent
relax the fibre of the nation and weaken its very means of defence,
the replacement of excellence by cheapness, and of national welfare
by wealth, the substitution for the landed interest which ought to
preponderate though never to predominate, not, as seemed for the
moment, by a high-toned class of responsible manufacturers, but
eventually by an overwhelming clique of irresponsible capitalists
with self-interests fluid as their portable property; the decrease
of the national, the natural sway of large landowners inheriting a
representative sense of accountability to tenants and dependants; a
probably great fall in agriculture and its profits, prices and wages;
the waste on a large scale and the depopulation of the soil itself; the
special aggravation of ruinous elements in Ireland; an ultimate decay,
when foreign competition should develop, of that very manufacturing
interest the system was protested to advantage and intended to protect;
for he divined already in the ’forties that to fight hostile tariffs
with “free imports” could only benefit England while continental
manufacturers were in comparative infancy.

Most of this in great measure he foresaw, and in all this has been
amply justified. What he did not anticipate was the enormous stature
which these developments have now reached. Multitudes of telling
instances might be given from those remarkable speeches, the pith and
point of which were always how this change would affect the labouring
classes. I will single out two alone, and both from that great speech
of 1846 on Mr. Miles’s amendment, which, in the light of the present,
reads like a continuous prophecy. Speaking of the displacement of
labour in connection with the then sparse distribution of the precious
metals, which he pointed out six years later must again modify the
situation owing to the recent and immense discoveries of gold, he said:
“... Every year and in every market English labour will receive less in
return of foreign articles. But gold and silver are foreign articles;
and in every year and in every market English labour will have less
command of gold and silver....” “... Supposing you import five millions
more from Russia than you ever did before, how will you make your
payments, if they take no more additional goods from you than they do
now?... I know it will be replied they manage these things by means of
bills and so on. But that will not improve the case. Suppose ... you
buy Russian bills on Brazil and New York to the amount of those five
millions, and you thus complete your transaction. But you have already
supplied the Americans and the Brazilians with as much of your goods as
you cared to take, and if you want to sell more to them, you must do so
at a great sacrifice....”

Once more, as regards foreign competition. He forecasted that of
America; and in demolishing the argument that Prussia’s protective
Zollverein was being “shaken;” he instanced Mecklenburg, induced by
English remonstrances to abstain from joining, but now complaining
that: “... After all the sacrifices we have made, if the Zollverein are
to have free importation to England, we have no advantage whatever, and
the best thing we can now do is to join and ... advance the cause of
native industry.”

Disraeli resolved that if the repeal became law, the burdens which
had been thrown on the land, because of the privileges which were its
ancient trust, should in fairness be mitigated; that it should compete
as freely as other manufacturers, for he never ceased to object to a
distinction, as manufacturers, between the farmer, the miller, and the
mill-owner.

“... I know,” he urged in a speech full of dignity and wisdom, “that
we have been told that ... we shall derive from this great struggle
not merely the repeal of the Corn Laws, but the transfer of power from
one class to another, to one distinguished for its intelligence and
wealth--the manufacturers of England. My conscience assures me that I
have not been slow in doing justice to the intelligence of that class;
certain I am that I am not one of those who envy them their wide and
deserved prosperity; but I must confess my deep mortification that in
an age of political regeneration, when all social evils are ascribed
to the operation of class interests, it should be suggested that we are
to be rescued from the alleged power of one class, only to sink under
the avowed dominion of another;” and he concluded with the hope that
if the monarchy of England, “mitigated by the acknowledged authority
of the estates of the realm,” was to prove “a worn-out dream,” if
England was to sink “under the thraldom of capital, ... of those who
while they boast of their intelligence are prouder of their wealth,”
if a new force must be summoned to maintain “the immemorial monarchy
of England,” that “novel power” might be found in “the invigorating
energies of an educated and enfranchised people.”

All this has happened. A thraldom to the middle class came into being,
and was tempered by Disraeli’s own franchise bill, and by an education
act sufficient, though not conceived in the decentralised form which
Disraeli desired, but never won the opportunity of effecting. And out
of this thraldom is springing that other of plutocracy--one which
exercises great political power without assuming great political
duties; one in the interest of which, it seems to me, some of the new
fiscal changes now being mooted are designed.

These wholesale changes I cannot but feel that Disraeli would have
withstood. Many features in Mr. Chamberlain’s plan would have enlisted
his sympathy, but in their entirety he would have thought them
hazardous. Some protection for the grazier he might have upheld; he
always laid stress on the importance of home markets. A moderate duty
on corn, in partial, though most inadequate, aid of agriculture, he
might have favoured as a necessary lever for colonial reciprocity;
especially as it would be spread over the untaxed colonial, the foreign
dutiable imports. It would scarcely much affect the price of bread,
and the very Peelites forewent the fallacy of the dear loaf; although,
as in 1852, he would show that even a four shilling duty on imported
corn could never restore the land to its former footing. “We ought,”
he would again argue, “to go to the country on principle, and not upon
details. We say we think there should be measures brought forward”
(as since have been brought forward) “to put the cultivators of the
soil in a position to allow them to compete with foreign industry.”
What, however, he then urged with all his force was that the fiscal
revolution had confessedly caused vexatious taxes. “Sir,” he said in
1852, “I do now and ever shall look on the changes which took place in
1846, both as regards the repeal of the Corn Laws and the alteration
of the Sugar Duties, as totally unauthorised. I opposed them ... _from
an apprehension of the great suffering which must be incurred by such
a change_. That suffering in a great degree, though it may be limited
to particular classes, has in some instances been even severer than we
anticipated. But I deny that at any time after those laws were passed,
either I, or the bulk of those with whom I have the honour to act, have
ever maintained a recurrence to the same laws that regulated those
industries previously to 1846.” He then showed the difference between
Lord Derby’s proposed “fixed duty” and the old state of affairs; while
he continued: “... When we come to this question of fixed duty, ...
I must say now what I said before in this House, that I will not pin
my political career on any policy which is not after all a principle,
but a measure. Our wish is, that the interests which we believe were
unjustly treated in 1846,[84] should receive the justice which they
deserve, with as little injury to those who may have benefited more
than they were entitled to, as it is possible for human wisdom to
devise. _Sir, I call that reconciling the interests of the consumer
and the producer, when you do not permit the consumer to flourish by
placing unjust taxes upon the producer; while at the same time you
resort to no tax which gives to the producer; an unjust and artificial
price for his production._...”

But any prohibitive tax on foreign manufactures--that is another
matter, one which would protect certain trades at the expense of the
community, and aggravate the very evils which Free Trade introduced.
Such a system must press all the harder on that class of consumers
whose pay would remain unaffected by its results, and who would, in
fact, be subsidising our colonies out of their emptied pockets. The
sentiment of the colonies he would have prized beyond measure, but
other means for riveting it might be found; and in the undeveloped
condition of many among them, would not a Canadian favouritism sow a
harvest of jealousies? Moreover, the colonial population as a whole
is still far too scanty for the replacement of our markets abroad;
and further, the two main channels of cheap capital and British
prosperity--our carrying trade and London’s commercial position as
the clearing-house of the world--might be revolutionised by changes,
to which no limit could be fixed. And again, the remission of Income
Tax ought in justice to accompany such a system, for that tax was
revived by Peel expressly because the revenue had to be reimbursed for
its losses on adopting the measures for free imports. With respect to
“dumping,”[85] its conditions contain its cure. England, no longer
the main workshop of the world, cannot perhaps be so generous as
heretofore, but she can still afford to be generous. As for the promise
of higher wages through protective duties, wages are more likely
to rise through the resumption of gold imports from South Africa;
while the joint result of retaliatory tariffs and such imports would
be doubly to enhance the price of commodities for the mass. On the
other hand, the vision of a self-supporting empire he would honour,
and equally the sincere and commanding zeal of its prophet. But he
would surely argue that the times were far from ripe, and that small
and gradual beginnings might lay firmer foundations than a colossal
combination of incompatibles. Again, he would, as the writer fancies,
deplore a loud and unsolicited appeal to the passions of a multitude
and the greed of a class easily thus led into a lordship of mob
despotism. At the same time, he would certainly recognise, as Mr.
Chamberlain alone has fully recognised, the crying need for a better
distribution of employment.

Disraeli over and over again affirmed that since the nation had
endorsed this vital change, its reversal was impracticable unless the
considered national demand for it became overwhelming. It was one
of his cardinal ideas that without such deliberate demand no great
change of national policy should be risked in any department. In
1852, he and Lord Derby appealed to the country on a modified issue
of this question--that of a fixed duty. The country’s answer Disraeli
considered as final, even in that regard; nor, so far as he was able,
would he ever permit these momentous issues to be reopened by any
party or section. He remained devoted to the reciprocity principle.
He believed that “give and take” is the foundation of trade which
is barter. But, though he descried rocks ahead in the future, he
recognised that the consumer had benefited by the free opening of our
ports, that so far as material wealth was concerned, England had become
the emporium and the banker of the world. On the other hand, this very
prosperity had aggravated the misery of a class and had raised those
problems which are still engaging anxious attention. Utilitarianism,
the “cheapest market” theory, had triumphed in the establishment of
unrestricted competition, but the upshot of that competition was an
increasing strain and disorganisation of native labour. With these
evils he left the quickened spirit of “Young England” to cope; while he
himself strove to meet them by the remission of the now unjust burdens
laid on the land, his industrial franchise bill, and his cherished
policy of _sanitas sanitatum_. He had, at any rate, largely influenced
the opinion of his generation in bringing home to men’s minds and
consciences the equality of the rights of Labour with those of
property, and the adequacy of constitutional forms to enforce them; nor
did he ever cease to press them in his writings and speeches. But as a
statesman he had always to choose between evils; and of these a forced
disturbance of a nationally adopted system, which by hasty expedients
might tend to disorder and to dispersal, he ever considered the graver.
To experiment he always opposed experience.

Speaking only two years before his death, he said--

“So far as I understand ... reciprocity is barter. I have always
understood that barter was the first evidence of civilisation[86]--that
it was exactly the state of human exchange that separated civilisation
from savagery.... My noble friend (Lord Bateman) read some extracts,
... and he honoured me by reading an extract from the speech I then
made in the other House of Parliament. That was a speech in favour
of reciprocity--a speech which defined what was then thought to be
reciprocity, and indicated the means by which reciprocity could be
obtained. I do not want to enter into the discussion whether the
principle was right or wrong, but it was acknowledged in public life,
favoured and pursued by many statesmen who conceived that by the
negotiation of a treaty of commerce, by reciprocal exchange and the
lowering of duties, the products of the two negotiating countries
would find a freer access and consumption in the two countries than
they formerly possessed. But when my noble friend taunts me with a
quotation of some rusty phrase of mine forty years ago, I must remind
him that _we had elements then on which treaties of reciprocity could
be negotiated_. At that time, although the great changes of Sir Robert
Peel had taken place, there were one hundred and sixty-eight articles
in the tariff which were materials by which you could have negotiated,
if that was a wise and desirable policy, commercial treaties of
reciprocity. What is the number you now have in the tariff? Twenty-two.
Those who talk of negotiating treaties of reciprocity--have they the
materials?... _You have lost the opportunity._... The policy which
was long ago abandoned, _you cannot now resume_. You have at this
moment a great number of commercial treaties ... nearly forty, with
some of the most considerable countries in the world ... in which ‘the
most-favoured-nation’ clause is included. Well, suppose you are for
a system of reciprocity as my noble friend proposes. He enters into
negotiations with a state; he says: ‘You complain of our high duties
on some particular articles. We have not many, we have a few left;
we shall make some great sacrifice to induce you to enter into a
treaty for an exchange of products.’ _But the moment you contemplate
agreeing with the state, ... every other of the forty states with
‘the most-favoured-nation’ clause claims exactly the same privilege.
The fact is, practically speaking, reciprocity, whatever its merits,
is dead._... The opportunity, like the means, has been relinquished;
and if this is the only mode in which we are to extricate ourselves
from the great distress which prevails, our situation is hopeless. I
should be very sorry to say, whatever the condition of the country, its
condition is hopeless....”

“I cannot for a moment doubt that the repeal of the Corn Laws--on
the policy of which I do not enter--has materially affected the
condition of those who are interested in land. I do not mean to say
that this is the only cause of landed distress. There are other
reasons--general distress, the metallic changes,[87] have all had
an effect. _But I cannot shut my eyes to the conviction that the
termination of protection to the landed interest has materially tended
to the condition in which it finds itself. But that is no reason why
we should retrace our steps, and authorise and sanction any violent
changes._ This state of things is one which has long threatened.... It
has arrived.... I cannot give up the expectation that the energy of
this country will bring about a condition of affairs more favourable
to the _various classes_ which form the great landed interest of this
country. I should look upon it as a great misfortune to this country
that the character, and power, and influence of the landed interest
and its valuable industry, should be diminished, and should experience
anything like a fatal and a final blow. It would, in my opinion, be a
misfortune, not to this country alone, but to the world, _for it has
contributed to the spirit of liberty and order more than any other
class that has existed in modern times_.... But ... I cannot support
my noble friend when he asks us to pass resolutions of this great
character, and when he himself disclaims the very ground (_i.e._
protection) on which he might have framed, not what I think was a
correct, but a plausible case. _It is a very unwise course, in my
opinion, when the country is not in a state so satisfactory as we could
wish ... to propose any inquiry which has not either some definite
object, or is likely to lead to some action on the part of those who
bring it forward._ It would lead to great disappointment and uneasiness
on the part of the country; and the classes who are trying to realise
the exact difficulties they have to encounter ... _would relapse into
a lax state which might render them incapable of making the exertions
it is necessary for them to make_.... Looking into the state of the
country, I do not see there is any great mystery in the causes which
have produced a state of which there is undoubted general complaint.
What has happened in our own commercial failures during the last ten
years will explain it. The great collapse which naturally followed the
_convulsion of prosperity_ which seemed to deluge the world and not
merely this country--the fact that other countries have been placed in
an equally disagreeable situation ... these are circumstances which
appear to me to render it quite unnecessary to enter into an inquiry on
this subject.... I do not mean to say that there are not moments ... in
which an inquiry by Parliament ... into the causes of national distress
may not be allowable--may not be necessary; but it must be a distress
of a very different kind from that which we are now experiencing. We
must have the consciousness that the great body of the people are in a
situation intolerable to them....”

Compare with this that passage from his late _Endymion_--a novel of
memories--where “Job Thornberry” (John Bright) discusses this very
problem with the hero.

“‘... But, after all,’ said Endymion, ‘America is as little in favour
of free exchange as we are. She may send us her bread-stuffs, but
her laws will not admit our goods, except on the payment of enormous
duties.’

“‘Pish!’ said Thornberry. ‘I do not care this for their enormous
duties. Let me have free imports, and I will soon settle their duties.’

“‘To fight hostile tariffs with free imports,’ said Endymion, ‘Is not
that fighting against odds?’

“‘Not a bit. This country has nothing to do but to consider its
imports. Foreigners will not give us their products for nothing; but
as for their tariffs, if we were wise men, and looked to our real
interests, their hostile tariffs, as you call them, would soon be
falling down like an old wall.’

“‘Well, I confess,’ said Endymion, ‘I have for some time thought the
principle of free exchange was a sound one; but its application in a
country like this would be very difficult, and require, I should think,
great prudence and moderation.’

“‘... Ignorance and timidity,’ said Thornberry, scornfully.

“‘Not exactly that, I hope,’ said Endymion; ‘_but you cannot deny that
the home market is a most important element in the consideration of our
public wealth, and it mainly rests on the agriculture of the country_.’”

To which “Thornberry” retorts that “England is to be ruined to keep up
rents.”

At all events, it is here, as elsewhere, evident what led Disraeli to
oppose the introduction of unregulated competition. Things have long
since marched quickly. The wall of tariffs has not tottered; Disraeli
never imagined that it would. “Foreigners” now do sometimes “give us
their products for nothing” through those colossal “Trusts” that make
enormous profits at home to undersell us at a loss and capture our
markets abroad. Competition has been reduced to the absurd. Nor is
the Continent in that plight which marked it when Disraeli uttered
the speech above cited. All these changed conditions require changing
remedies, but the heroic remedy lately advocated may well occasion
thoughtful retrospect, and the speech I have chosen may be profitably
pondered in this connection.

And can any reader of his utterances doubt that, had he lived, he would
never have left the problem of the housing of the poor to private
experiment, or merely municipal omniscience? Thirty-three years ago he
wrote as follows:--

“It is the terror of Europe and the disgrace of Britain,” says
“Lothair” of pauperism; “and I am resolved to grapple with it. It seems
to me that pauperism is not so much an affair of wages as of dwellings.
If the working classes were properly lodged, at their present rate of
wages, they would be richer. They would be healthier and happier at the
same cost....”

I will conclude with an excerpt from Disraeli’s great Crystal Palace
speech of 1872. It concerns the remedies which he had from the first
determined to apply to a state of things which the rush of so-called
“progress” had induced.

“... It must be obvious to all who consider the condition of the
multitude with a desire to improve and elevate it, that no important
step can be gained unless you can effect some reduction of their hours
of labour and humanise their toil. The great problem is to be able to
achieve such results without violating those principles of economic
truth upon which the prosperity of all States depends. You recollect
that many years ago the Tory party believed that these two results
might be obtained ... and at the same time no injury be inflicted on
the wealth of the nation. You know how that effort was encountered,
how these views and principles were met by the triumphant statesmen
of Liberalism. They told you that the inevitable consequence of your
policy was to diminish capital; and this, again, would lead to the
lowering of wages, to a great diminution of the employment of the
people, and ultimately to the impoverishment of the kingdom.... And
what has been the result? Those measures were carried; but carried, as
I can bear witness, with great difficulty and after much labour and a
long struggle. Yet they were carried; and what do we now find? That
capital was never accumulated so quickly; that wages were never higher;
that the employment of the people was never greater, and the country
never wealthier. I ventured to say a short time ago (_at Manchester_)
that the health of the people was the most important subject for a
statesman. It is ... a large subject. It has many branches. It involves
the state of the dwellings of the people, the moral consequences of
which are not less considerable than the physical. It involves their
enjoyment of some of the chief elements of nature--air, light, and
water. It involves the regulation of their industry, the inspection
of their toil. It involves the purity of their provisions, and it
touches upon all the means by which you may wean them from habits of
excess and brutality.... Well, it may be the ‘policy of sewage’ to a
Liberal member of Parliament. But to one of the labouring multitude of
England, who has found fever always to be one of the inmates of his
household--who has, year after year, seen stricken down the children of
his loins, on whose sympathy and support he has looked with hope and
confidence; it is not ‘a policy of sewage,’ but a question of life and
death. And I can tell you this, gentlemen, from personal conversation
with some of the most intelligent of the labouring class, that ...
the hereditary, the traditionary policy of the Tory party that would
improve the condition of the people, is more appreciated by the people
than the ineffable mysteries and all the pains and penalties of the
Ballot Bill.... Is that wonderful? Consider the condition of the great
body of the working classes of this country. They are in possession of
personal privileges--of personal rights and liberties--which are not
enjoyed by the aristocracies of other countries. Recently they have
obtained--and wisely obtained--a great extension of political rights;
and when the people of England see that under the Constitution of this
country ... they possess every personal right of freedom, and according
to the conviction of the whole country, also an adequate concession
of political rights, is it at all wonderful that they should wish to
elevate and improve their condition, and is it unreasonable that they
should ask the Legislature to assist them in that behest, as far as it
is consistent with the general welfare of the realm?...”

The crucial problem still exacts, though it need not baffle, solution.
We are still waiting for the complete answer to the question here
propounded by Disraeli.



CHAPTER IV

CHURCH AND THEOCRACY


“The equality of man,” exclaims Disraeli in _Tancred_, “can only be
accomplished by the sovereignty of God. The longing for fraternity can
never be satisfied but under the sway of a common Father ... announce
the sublime and solacing principle of theocratic equality.”

This is a Semitic idea; but, then, so is the Church. The State, on the
other hand, is an Aryan conception. The real religion both of Athens
and of Rome was the State. These radical ideas of Church and State,
to which we have grown so accustomed, are, in fact, the products of
special races and the salvage of the centuries. The Romans invented
“Empire,” the Athenians “Democracy,” the Jews created “Theocracy.”

It may be interesting to inquire how this idea of a spiritual
_Church_--a colony from the unseen and eternal--has been in constant
conflict with that other dominant idea of the _State_; and how, among
the nations, England alone has made any serious or successful attempt
to reconcile them. For these are the ideas, expressed or implied, of
Disraeli. I take the liberty of illustrating these ideas afresh in my
own manner, and in continuous commentary, rather than by considering
isolated passages scattered through his books and speeches, many of
which I shall quote later on. And the standpoint marked by the title
of this chapter is the point of view which seems to me to distinguish
the many varieties of the theme which he presents, and which evidently
fascinated him.

A _national_ Theocracy has always been rejected in the West. The Roman
Church, whose ideal is an international Theocracy under an imperial
form, is in essence anti-national and cosmopolitan; and for this very
reason it became repugnant to those Northern races whose genius makes
for nationality and independence. Moreover, it is unable itself to
flourish without the temporal appanage of a _State_; and it therefore
tends to become an _imperium in imperio_. On Western soil religion is
unable to thrive as a living force unless aided by the equipments of
the _State_, which the instinct of the West evolved, and to which it
is prone; while a non-organised, inorganic creed can no more make a
_Church_, which is a society of believers, than a paper constitution
can make a _state_, which is the community individualised.

A _national_ Theocracy failed also in the East because the faculty
for creating a _State_ was deficient. When once Theocracy, pure and
simple, vanished from Palestine--“the fatherland of the Spirit”--Israel
and Judah were confronted by their inherent inability to found a
_State_. It was this, indeed, which gave rise to the Messianic hope,
a hope which yielded to daily motherhood the consecration of divine
destiny. For to lend an effective earthly sanction to the theocratic
ideal, to reconcile without violence the government of a community
under the Eternal and Invisible with the progress of a community
under a visible chieftain, a perfect monarch, the founder of a golden
age, was required--a theocrat king. The Jewish polity was a _Church_.
All European churches, on the contrary, are polities. This is well
recognised by Professor Ewald,[88] who proves that the _State_, as
such, took no root and found no real place in Palestine. The tentatives
towards a _State_ conflicted with the native theocratic ideals of
race aspiration, and failed to survive them. And when at length the
Incarnation displayed the “Perfect King,” whose “kingdom was not
of this world,” but “within you,” and whose Kingship was “without
observation,” it was the very anti-nationalism of His teaching at
a period when Rome had tinged Palestine with Western politics that
perplexed or offended a perverse caste of fanatics athirst for
national unity, although national independence had crumbled away. When,
once more, the Apostle to the Gentiles laid the Pauline foundations of
an international Christian Church, the Jewish nationalism, despite the
sublime prophecies of Isaiah, grew doubly embittered, and closed its
ears to that theocratic message, which was, in fact, the fulfilment of
its highest aspirations.

For the ideal of the early Christian Church was undoubtedly an
_international Theocracy_. On this very account it disgusted the Roman
patriotism which despised it. But directly it became acclimatised
in the West, and prevailed, it also underwent that modification of
theocratic ideals which the West always entails. It threw itself into
the mould of the _State_. It assumed the purple of the Cæsars; it “sent
forth its dogmas like legions into the Provinces.”

This only happens in Europe; in the East religions are never
politicised. The West seeks the tangible and turns to myth the
wonders that are literal to the Eastern mind. In so far as the old
Egyptian belief was in the priestly power, it may perhaps be termed
oligarchical, but not in the Western sense. The Church of Buddha is a
spiritual brotherhood, never a _State_. Islam, like that from which
it sprang, is a Theocracy without any inherent organisation. Like it,
it eventually chose a monarchical headship; and, like it too, its
monarchy came to be cleft in twain. It is, I repeat, only in the West
that creeds are politicised. As the earthly sanctions for Christianity
coarsened through the centuries, it became at once Cæsarian and
cosmopolitan. But the warfare between the so-called secular and
spiritual powers, which, indeed, forms the history of the earliest
Middle Ages, soon began to impair its birthright of cosmopolitanism.
The invincible bias towards nationality of the Northern races asserted
itself.

Dante, it is true, dreamed of a real Theocracy. But he was a strong
champion of a monarchical State. He staked his hopes on that great
Emperor--that “patriot king”--whose premature death dashed his vision
to the ground. And after Dante, Savonarola craved a real Theocracy; but
it again assumed that Republican shape which, two centuries later, was
to play a greater, though as futile, a part in England. The Church one
way or another throughout Europe perpetually tended towards becoming “a
State within the State,” a “King of kings;” and in this regard it is
not a little curious that the present Oratorians still obey the antique
Florentine Constitution which St. Philip of Neri transcribed and
embalmed as the rule of his order. In the same way the early American
Episcopalians brought with them, in their three-yearly Conventions,
that Triennial Parliament which William of Orange grudgingly granted to
the Tories, and which Walpole was afterwards to repeal for the Whigs.
Once more, the Pilgrim Fathers brought the ideal of Republican forms
to America; but Republican forms soon passed into democratic facts.
From Jemima Wilkinson to Mormonism and Christian science, sects and
sectaries have abounded. No religious vagary has lacked its audience
and its franchise. America exemplifies the disadvantage of lacking
a national comprehensive Church in a country whose aspirations are
national. Early in the seventeenth century the Presbyterians persecuted
the Quaker immigrants with a ferocity of which Torquemada might have
been proud; but in their turn the American Presbyterians eventually
fell a prey to their own factions. While she was still a British
colony, England unwisely forced on America bishops consecrated at
home; but these very bishops were themselves rejected admittance by
persecuting Presbyterians, who regarded Episcopalians as Jacobites,
and taunted them as Papists. It was the Society for the Propagation of
the Gospel that persistently sought to remedy the gross anomaly of the
Bishop of London being the Bishop of America.

The Reformation in England was in its essence a national protest
against internationalism. Out of it flowed the notion of a _national
Church_ like a “national party” (a contradiction in terms but a most
remarkable actuality), which it, in common with France, theoretically
justified as prior to Roman usurpation. Our Church is one at once
rooted in the soil as a civil institution, a source of parish life,
a security for local government, a bar at once to oligarchy and
bureaucracy, against the exclusion of the many from public life,[89]
the trustee of an estate which enables all to become proprietors of
the soil, which is, as Disraeli termed it, “the fluctuating patrimony
of the great body of the people;” and it is also by inheritance one
paramount in the country as a spiritual authority, an educator, a
social regenerator, and a mainspring of that tolerance and religious
liberty which the great Whig party secured for our country. As Disraeli
has pointed out repeatedly, the union of Church and State means the
hallowing of the civil power, the investment of secular authority with
religious sanction, the loss of which the State would be the first to
feel and regret, should the bond be severed.

England, then, is the only nation that has reconciled through
compromise the spiritual ideas of Theocracy with the dominant forms of
the _State_.

But the English Church, headed by the English king, was soon faced by
Puritanism; and of this phase Disraeli, through his father’s history,
was a deep student.

Puritanism was cradled among small traders, conscious of their virtues,
but socially ill at ease. It at once became terribly at ease in the
courts of Zion. It began with a retail outlook, and it soon politicised
its creed. It became eminently republican, nor was it ever democratic.
Instinctively counter to all forms, whether “temporal” or “spiritual,”
it aimed at the destruction both of Monarchy and the Church, and yet
it set up an exclusiveness of its own. The Jewish Theocracy had, as I
have pointed out, broken down even under that monarchical shape which
suited it, just because its outward _State_ apparatus was mechanical
and out of touch with the development of national life. The finer
spirits of Puritanism--and they were very fine--had these features to
reckon with. Cromwell, like Savonarola, compassed an impracticable
solecism. He desired a Republican Theocracy. His scheme only chimed
with that of the Church which he sought to ruin in this, that he too
wished religion to be nationally organised--to be political. But the
result was an intolerant fanaticism of mutually persecuting sects, and
a Parliamentary censorship of morals which cramped, nay, imprisoned
self-developing virtue, confounded holiness with austerity, and
furnished the best argument for a “national Church.”

Milton, who tempered the Puritanic fire with the Renaissance light,
who, in his youth, was a worshipper of the subdued loveliness of the
Church and “her dim, religious light,” came to regard our national
Church as merely, in his own phrase, “an anti-papal schism.” Like
Cromwell, he longed to destroy it.

“It is a rule and principle,” he urges,[90] “worthy to be known by
Christians, that no Scripture, no, nor so much as any ancient creed,
binds our faith or our obedience to any Church whatsoever denominated
by a particular name; far less if it be distinguished by a several
government from that which is indeed Catholic.... It were an injury to
condemn the papist of absurdity and contradiction for adhering to his
Catholic Romish religion, if we, for the pleasure of a king and his
public considerations, shall adhere to a Catholic English.” Milton only
wanted republican instead of monarchical forms. Politics were still the
setting of religion. He was even more inconsistent. He deprecated any
discipline by the State, although his Church was a political Church,
and although Cromwell’s purposes are contradicted by Milton’s very
deprecation” ”If we think”--who can forget this fine passage from his
“Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing”?--“if we think to
regulate printing, thereby to rectify manners, we must regulate all
recreations and pastimes, all that is delightful to men. No music must
be set or sung but what is grave and Doric.... I hate a pupil-teacher;
I endure not an instructor that comes to me under the wardship of an
overseeing fist.” How did Milton relish the Independents as “pupil
teachers,” or the “overseeing fist” of the Fifth-Monarchy men, or the
wardship of the Reign of Saints? Milton wants neither the Church as a
Polity, nor the State as a Church. Not staying to inquire what fits the
genius of England and her national traditions and customs, he seeks a
Theocracy which is untheocratic, and a national republic doomed to fall
when the perfect ruler is removed.

“When,” he indignantly exclaims[91]--“when God shakes a kingdom with
strong and healthful commotions to a general reforming, it is not
untrue that many sectaries and false teachers are then busiest in
seducing, but yet more true is it that God then raises to His own work
men of rare abilities and more than common industry, not only to look
back and revise what hath been taught heretofore, but to gain further
and to go on some new enlightened steps in the discovery of truth.”
So, then, a reformed commonwealth, and no visible Church are Milton’s
ideals.

“The Parliament of England,” he protests, had turned “regal bondage
into a free commonwealth.” “All Protestants,” he proceeds, “hold that
Christ in His Church hath left no vicegerent of his power, but Himself
without deputy is the only head thereof, governing it from heaven.” So
far Milton announces pure Theocracy; but the leaven of his classical
republicanism is disclosed in the next sentence: he cannot divorce
religion from politics. “How, then, can any Christian man derive his
kingship from Christ? I doubt not but all ingenuous and knowing men
will easily agree with me that a free commonwealth, without a single
person or House of Lords, is by far the best Government, if it can
be had.” And then he propounds grand councils of a perpetual senate,
safe-guarded against “any dogeship of Venice,”[92] as the means to
save the State. “The whole freedom of man,” he says, “consists either
in spiritual or civil liberty.” No rule for the first is admitted by
him but the Scriptures; for the second he takes the Dutch model of
the United Provinces. But he neglects to consider how liberty can be
settled without order, or order without discipline, or discipline
without authority, or authority without creed.

Even the loftiest Puritan ideal of Theocracy, therefore, was no less
political than that of the Church.

A very few years witnessed the complete breakdown of a system which
sought to blend the early Latin and the early Semitic ideals together
in unnatural alliance, and disregarded the native bias of Great
Britain.

The ensuing reaction rendered the English Church more political than
ever. She was split into contending partisanship for contending
dynasties. She repudiated James the Second, but not the Stuarts. Under
William of Orange latitudinarianism, even her latitudinarianism,
was militant. But under the two first Georges she grew torpid and
time-serving. The rash and rabid Sunderland, the astute Walpole,
parodied the old Miltonic ideals in their zeal for indifferentism,
and in self-defence the Church tended temporarily to seem the mere
stipendiary of the State, like an excise officer. But Wesley in
England, and Whitefield both here and in America, re-aroused the Church
to the higher and holier ideals of a _national_ Theocracy. Some century
later the Tractarian movement spurred her energies afresh, and they
have since been once more quickened in the battle with mechanical
materialism.

But all along it has been a sheer necessity in England--a necessity
for spiritual as well as civil _freedom_--that the State should lend
its earthly sanction of _order_ to the Church. A _national_ Church so
uncontrolled is impossible in England, where politics tinge every form
of aspiration. For international Theocracy, for that “millenary year”
which is the magnificent ideal of Romanism, the times are unripe. It
must remain a remote goal so long as the competitive egoism of nations,
transfiguring the baser egotism of individuals and of mere races, is
paramount.

The Church State has been unrealisable. England alone has realised
the State Church. The former has been impossible in the West, owing
to the Aryan genius for State development, and especially to the
national instinct of the Anglo-Saxon family. With the British spirit
a cosmopolitan religion is incompatible. No nation ambitious of being
a world-power can revert to Theocracy. It is not feasible under such
conditions.

The latter, however, the Anglican Church, has reconciled these two
concepts of opposite origins, the Oriental idea of a “Church,” and the
Occidental idea of the State. For it is not only a religious, but a
national and a social tradition.

This, I take it, was Disraeli’s attitude. By temperament he was
theocratic. He believed in the original spirituality of his race;
but he also believed in the great destiny of the nation to which he
belonged, and in her Church he descried the naturalised power of
Semitic ideas, the only form in which they could become nationally
operative, the sole political means in a political country of
sanctifying the secular. “The Church,” he once said, “is one of the few
great things left.” The Church ever found him a wise and enthusiastic
supporter. The fact is, as he put it in a speech of 1860, “the Church
is a part of England.” Nor would he ever allow that mere differences
of opinion negatived her comprehensiveness. She was still Anglican.
What he recoiled from was the hard-and-fast narrowness of Puritanism,
the fiercer fanaticisms of which, he always maintained, had undone
Ireland. Sectarianism is not strength, for strength resides in national
discipline. He regarded a “national Church” as the best pledge for
religious liberty to even those outside her communion, as a national
refuge from bigotry and a national rampart against priestcraft.

The Church’s “nationality” is proved even by the peculiar character of
her property. It is territorial. It is (as he emphasised in a speech of
1862) “... so distributed throughout the country, that it makes that
Church, from the very nature of its tenure, a national Church; and the
power of the Church of England does not depend merely on the amount
of property it possesses, but in a very great degree on the character
and kind of that property. Then I say that the Church, deprived of its
status, would become merely an _episcopal sect_ in this country. And in
time, it is not impossible it might become an insignificant one. But
that is not the whole, nor, perhaps, even the greatest evil, that might
arise from the dissolution of the connection between Church and State,
because in the present age the art of government becomes every day more
difficult, and no Government will allow a principle so powerful as the
religious principle to be divorced from the influences by which it
regulates the affairs of a country. What would happen?... The State of
England would take care, after the Church was spoiled, to enlist in its
service what are called the ministers of all religions. They would be
salaried by the State, and the consequences of the dissolution of the
alliance between Church and State would be one equally disastrous to
the Churchman and to the Nonconformist. It would place the ministers of
all spiritual influences under the control of the civil power, and it
would in reality effect a revolution in the national character....”

De Tocqueville has proved that the French clergy were the staunchest
upholders of civil liberty before the Revolution; but he has also
acutely shown that the Roman priesthood, devoid of domestic ties, looks
to the Church as its sole fatherland, unless it can itself become a
proprietor of the soil. The French Revolution disempowered it for that
purpose, and evicted it from its heritage. The English clergy, on the
other hand, are linked to civil life both by the land and the home.
Contrast for one moment the landscape of a French village with that of
an English, and the difference becomes typified. In the one the church
stands aloof and dominates the hamlet. In the other it nestles among
the cottages, and helps the daily life around it.

What was present to Disraeli’s mind was not only that, in such a case,
the ancient landmarks of parish life, the ancient trusts of education,
the ancient equality of social intercourse between clergy and laity,
the ancient duties and intimacies, the ancient openness to the poorest
of career in the Church and of residence on the land, would be swept
away; but that, as he expressed it when discussing the “Cowper-Temple
Amendment” in 1870, “you will not entrust the priest or the presbyter
with the privilege of expounding the Holy Scriptures ... _but for that
purpose you are inventing and establishing a new sacerdotal class_.”
“My idea of sacerdotal despotism,” he said in 1863, “is this, that
a minister of the Church of England, who is appointed to expound
doctrine, should deem that he has a right to invent doctrine. That ...
is the sacerdotal despotism I fear....” The State would suffer; and it
would suffer doubly. Not only would religion cease to be an official
element of order, but the ministers of religion might be unduly
strengthened in civil affairs--might be over-politicised. “Whether
that is a result to be desired,” he remarked ten years afterwards,
“is a grave question for all men. For my own part, I am bound to say
that I doubt whether it would be favourable to the cause of civil and
religious liberty.”

In his novels he emphasises his belief that society is inconceivable
without religion, and that “without a Church there can be no true
religion, because otherwise you have no security for the truth,”
although he also distinguishes between differing “orthodoxies” and
real religion. At the same time, the Church as a polity must have
dogmas--“No Church, no creed”--“no dogmas, no deans, Mr. Dean.”
The human craving, the passionate instinct for religion, he ever
based--from the date of _Contarini Fleming_ and _Alroy_ to that
of _Coningsby_ and _Tancred_, and from that of _Tancred_ to that
of _Lothair_--on the fact that “_man requires that there shall be
direct relations between the created and the Creator, and that in
those relations he should find a solution of the perplexities of
existence_.”--“The brain that teems with illimitable thought will never
recognise as his Creator any power of nature, however irresistible,
that is not gifted with consciousness.... The Church comes forward,
and without equivocation offers to establish direct relations between
God and man. Philosophy denies its title and disputes its power. Why?
Because they are founded on the supernatural. What is the supernatural?
Can there be anything more miraculous than the existence of man and the
world? Anything more literally supernatural than the origin of things?
The Church explains what no one else pretends to explain, and which
every one agrees it is of first moment should be made clear.”

Of the two passions which moved Disraeli, the one for mastery, the
other for the mysterious, the last was perhaps the strongest. The
mysteries that fascinated him were real, and did not render him a
mystic, still less a quietist. It is a mistake so to regard him. His
strength alike and his weakness resided in the practical energy of his
imagination. The whole of existence was for him a standing miracle.
“Contarini” finds his fate by a vision in a church; “Venetia” receives
a miraculous answer to her prayer of agony. He delights to depict, even
in the short biography of his father, providential coincidences. What
is deemed bizarre in his works, is really the sense of magic wonder
in all we experience. His irony, too, contrasting show with substance
and words with things, works by paradox.[93] That man is a spirit on
earth was his firm conviction. We find it accentuated from his earliest
utterances to his latest. “... There are some things I know,” said the
Syrian in _Lothair_, according with the Syrian in _Tancred_, “and some
things I believe. I know that I have a soul, and I believe that it is
immortal....”[94] The riddle of life is not to be solved by theories,
however true or ingenious of the processes of development, still less
by the fashionable “prattle of protoplasm,” or the glib triflers with
their “We once had fins, we shall have wings.” He was quite sincere
and consistent in his famous “Ape or Angel” dilemma. He believed,
both passionately and dispassionately, that man was divine. Science
confesses that its discoveries are merely of recurrent facts called
laws; it does not profess to account for them.

“Science may prove the insignificance of this globe in the scale of
creation,” said the stranger, “but it cannot prove the insignificance
of man. What is the earth compared with the sun? A mole-hill by a
mountain; yet the inhabitants of this earth can discover the elements
of which the great orb exists, and will probably, ere long, ascertain
all the conditions of its being. Nay, the human mind can penetrate far
beyond the sun. There is no relation, therefore, between the faculties
of man and the scale in creation of the planet which he inhabits....
But there are people now who tell you there never was any creation,
and therefore there never could have been a creator.”--“And which is
now advanced with the confidence of novelty,” said the Syrian, “though
all of it has been urged, and vainly urged, thousands of years ago.
There must be design, or all we see would be without sense, and I do
not believe in the unmeaning. As for the natural forces to which all
creation is now attributed, we know that they are unconscious, while
consciousness is as inevitable a portion of our existence as the eye
or the hand. The conscious cannot be derived from the unconscious.
Man is divine.... Is it more unphilosophical to believe in a personal
God omnipotent and omniscient, than in natural forces unconscious and
irresistible? Is it unphilosophical to combine power with intelligence?
Goethe, a Spinozist who did not believe in Spinoza, said he could bring
his mind to the conception that in the centre of space we might meet
with a monad of pure intelligence. Is that more philosophical than the
truth first revealed to man amid these everlasting hills,” said the
Syrian, “that God made man in His own image?” ... “It is the charter
of the nobility of man ... one of the divine dogmas revealed in this
land; not the invention of councils, not one of which was held on this
sacred soil; confused assemblies first got together by the Greeks, and
then by barbarous nations in barbarous times.”--“Yet the divine land no
longer tells us divine things,” said “Lothair.” “It may, or may not,
have fulfilled its destiny,” said the Syrian. “‘In my Father’s house
are many mansions,’ and by the various families of nations the designs
of the Creator are accomplished. God works by races,[95] and one was
appointed in due season, and after many developments, to reveal and
expound in this land the spiritual nature of man....”

This quotation may suffice, though many others, even from the biography
of Lord George Bentinck, might have been offered. These ideas are
perhaps best summarised in the Preface to _Lothair_. Disraeli really
believed in the sacredness of the Syrian soil and air, the peculiar
genius of the Semite for communion with God, as of the Hellene for
communion with nature and origination of art; in the special religious
revelation vouchsafed to Semites alone and consummated in Christianity,
which he ever held was the fulfilment of Judaism. The dogma of the
Atonement he received literally. It was a divine mystery enacted by
a prince of Israel. Disraeli’s sense of mystery was, let me repeat,
literal, and never explained through emblems. There was nothing of
Gothic symbolism in his nature. From these convictions flowed his
sanguine confidence in himself and his mission; in destiny, which he
has himself said may be but the exertion of our own will. From these
flowed his sympathy with the heroic, his turn for the adventurous; his
disrelish, too, of modern rationalism, modern materialism,[96] and
even of modern metaphysics.[97] From these flowed his faith in the
revelations of conscience--“I worship in a Church where I believe God
dwells, and dwells for my guidance and my good; my conscience;”[98]
in a word, from these flowed his bias towards a natural Theocracy.
But, as I have already said, he recognised that the English Church
had alone, as the depository of these _racial_ ideas, attuned them to
the _national_ refrain of England, embodied them in living Western
flesh. Just as for him Government meant organised authority, and
Party organised opinion, so the Church meant organised belief; nor
did he ever cease to point out that if the national Church were
disestablished, if that form of Protestant religion, resting on
popular sympathies and popular privileges, which had grown with the
growth of England and had leavened her life, her civil society, her
public education, and even her pastimes, were divorced from the
principle of authority, not only might the competition of sects cause a
bigoted intolerance, but the State itself would certainly be the loser.

I will choose another most pertinent passage from his speech on
the Irish Church Bill, delivered in March, 1869. He had discussed
“disendowment,” and he opposed it with all his might, as the plunder of
the Church in English history had always gone into the coffers of the
land, although it was a trust for the poor.

“Now, sir,” he continued, with regard to disestablishment, “I myself am
much opposed to it, because I am in favour of what is called the union
between Church and State. What I understand by the union of Church and
State is an arrangement which renders the State religious by investing
authority with the highest sanctions that can influence the sentiments,
the convictions, and consequently the conduct of the subject; while,
on the other hand, that union renders the Church--using that epithet
in its noblest and purest sense--political. That is to say, it blends
civil authority with ecclesiastical influence; it defines and defends
the rights of the laity, and prevents the Church from subsiding into
a sacerdotal corporation. If you divest the State of this connection,
it appears to me that you necessarily reduce both the quantity and the
quality of its duties. The State will still be the protector of our
persons and our property, and no doubt these are most important duties
for the State to perform. But there are duties in a community which
rather excite a spirit of criticism than a sentiment of enthusiasm and
veneration. All, or most of the higher functions of Government--take
education, for example, the formation of the character of the people,
and consequently the guidance of their future conduct--depart from the
State and become the appanage of religious societies, of the religious
organisations of the country--you may call them the various Churches,
if you please--when they are established on what are called independent
principles.”

After welcoming the fact of a religious revival, he next continues:--

“When we have to decide whether we can dissociate the principle of
religion from the State, it is well to remember that we are asked
to relinquish an influence that is universal. We hear in these days
a great deal of philosophy. Now, it is my happiness in life to be
acquainted with eminent philosophers. They all agree in one thing. They
will all tell you that, however brilliant may be the discoveries of
physical science, however marvellous those demonstrations which attempt
to penetrate the mysteries of the human mind, wonderful as may be
these discoveries, greatly as they have contributed to the comfort and
convenience of man, or confirmed his consciousness of the nobility of
his nature--yet all those great philosophers agree in one thing--that
in their investigations there is an inevitable term where they meet
the insoluble, where all the most transcendent powers of intellect
dissipate and disappear.[99] There commences the religious principle.
It is universal, and it will assert its universal influence in the
government of men. Now, I put this case before the House. We are asked
to commence a great change.... When, therefore, we are called to the
consideration of these circumstances, it is absolutely necessary that
we should contemplate the possibility of our establishing a society
in which there may be two powers, the political and the religious,
and the religious may be the stronger.[100] Now I will take this
case. Under ordinary circumstances, a Government performing those
duties of police, to which it will be limited when the system has
perfectly developed, the first step to which we are called upon to
take to-night--such a Government, under ordinary circumstances, will
be treated with decent respect. But a great public question, such as
has before occurred in this country, and as must periodically occur
in free and active communities--a great public question arises, which
touches the very fundamental principles of our domestic tranquillity,
or even the existence of the Empire; but the Government of the country,
and the religious organisations of the country, take different views,
and entertain different opinions on that subject. In all probability
the Government of the country will be right. The Government in its
secret councils is calm and impartial, is in possession of ample and
accurate information, views every issue before it in reference to the
interests of all classes, and takes, therefore, what is popularly
called a comprehensive view. The religious organisation of the country
acts in quite a different manner. It is not calm; it is not impartial;
it is sincere, it is fervid, it is enthusiastic. Its information is
limited and prejudiced. It does not view the question of the day in
reference to the interests of all classes. It looks upon the question
as something of so much importance--as something of such transcendent
interest, not only for the earthly, but even for the future welfare
of all her Majesty’s subjects--that it will allow no consideration to
divert its mind and energy from the accomplishment of its object. It,
therefore, necessarily takes what is commonly called a contracted view.
But who can doubt what will be the result, _when on a question which
enlists and excites all the religious passions of the nation, the zeal
of enthusiasm advocates one policy, and the calmness of philosophers
and the experience of statesmen recommend another. The Government
might be right, but the Government would not be able to enforce its
policy, and the question might be decided in a way that might disturb
a country or even destroy an empire._ I know, sir, it may be said that
though there may be some truth in this view abstractedly considered,
yet it does not apply to the country in which we live, because ... we
enjoy religious freedom ... and because only a portion of her Majesty’s
subjects are in communion with the National Church. I draw a very
different conclusion to that which I have supposed as the objection....
_It is because there is an Established Church that we have achieved
religious liberty and enjoy religious toleration; and without the union
of the Church with the State, I do not see what security there would be
either for religious liberty or toleration._ No error could be greater
than to suppose that the advantage of the Established Church is limited
to those who are in communion with it. Take the case of the Roman
Catholic priest. He will refuse--and in doing so he is quite justified,
and is indeed bound to do so--he will, I say, refuse to perform the
offices of the Church to any one not in communion with it. The same
with the Dissenters. It is quite possible--it has happened, and might
happen very frequently--that a Roman Catholic may be excommunicated
by his Church, or a sectarian may be denounced and expelled by his
congregation; but if that happens in this country, the individual in
question who has been thus excommunicated, denounced, or expelled, is
not a forlorn being. There is the Church, of which the Sovereign is
the head, which does not acknowledge the principle of Dissent, and
which does not refuse to that individual those religious rites which
are his privilege and consolation.... Now, I cannot believe that the
disendowment of the Church of England could occur without very great
disturbances.... _England cannot afford revolution. England has had
her revolutions. It is indeed because she had revolutions about two
hundred years ago, before other nations had their revolutions, that
she gained her great start in wealth and empire._ Now, sir, what have
we gained by these revolutions? A period of nearly two hundred years
of great serenity and the secured stability of the State. I attribute
these happy characteristics of our history to the circumstance, that in
this interval we did solve two of the finest and profoundest political
problems. We accomplished complete personal, and, in time, complete
political liberty, and combined them with order. We achieved complete
religious liberty, and we united it with a national faith. These two
immense exploits have won for this country regulated freedom and
temperate religion.... Speaking now not as a partisan, I believe the
Tory party, however it may at times have erred, has always been the
friend of local government, and that _the instinct of the nation made
it feel that on local government political freedom depended_.”[101]

“It is said,” he remarked three years afterwards, after commenting
on the historical union between Church and State--“two originally
independent powers,” and the fact that their alliance has prevented
the spiritual power from “usurping upon the civil and establishing a
sacerdotal society,” as well as the civil power from invading “the
rights of the spiritual,” and from degrading its ministers into
“salaried instruments of the Government.”--“It is said,” he continued,
“that the existence of Nonconformity proves that the Church is a
failure. I draw from these premises an exactly contrary conclusion; and
I maintain that to have secured a national profession of faith with
the unlimited enjoyment of private judgment in matters spiritual is
... one of the triumphs of civilisation.” Nonconformity he considered
a misfortune, though it was a symptom of national freedom. With
Nonconformists, however, he sympathised. It was with indifference that
he warred.

Let me illustrate these points. In an earlier speech he addresses
himself to prove that the Church is none the less truly national
because millions of the nation are not in communion with it; and he
analyses Nonconformity.

“Now, the history of English Dissent will always be a memorable chapter
in the history of the country. It displays many of those virtues for
which the English character is distinguished--earnestness, courage,
devotion, conscience. But one thing is quite clear, that in the present
day the causes which originally created Dissent no longer exist;
while--which is of still more importance--there are now causes in
existence opposed to the spread of Dissent. I will not refer to the
fact that many--I believe the great majority--of the families of the
descendants of the original Puritans and Presbyterians have merged
in the Church of England itself; but no man can any longer conceal
from himself that the tendency of this age is not that all creeds
and Churches and consistories should combine--I do not say that,
mind--but I do say that it is that they should cease hereafter from
any internecine hostility; ... and therefore, so far as the spread of
... mere sincere religious Dissent is concerned, I hold that it is
of a very limited character, and there is nothing in the existence
of it which should prevent the Church of England from asserting her
nationality. For observe, the same difficulties that are experienced
by the Church are also experienced by the Dissenters, without the
advantage which the Church possesses in her discipline, learning, and
traditions.”

Part of these “difficulties” he considered in the later speech, above
cited, where he holds that the existence of parties in the Church is
a sign of vigour; but the other part, the growth of indifferentism
among millions of the populace, he considers here, and he considers it
as affording a great field for the Church if it be true to its great
traditions and answers to the temper of the times and to the call of
the summons. “... If, indeed, the Church of England were in the same
state as the pagan religion was in the time of Constantine; if her
altars were paling before the Divine splendour of inspired shrines, it
might be well indeed for the Church and its ministers to consider the
course that they should pursue; but nothing of the kind is the case.
With the indifferentists you are dealing with millions of a people the
most enthusiastic, though not the most excitable, in the world. And
what awakes their enthusiasm?

“... _The notes on the gamut of their feeling are few, but they are
deep. Industry, Liberty, Religion, form the solemn scale. Industry,
Liberty, Religion--that is the history of England._” He predicts a
feeling of exaltation for religion similar to those enthusiasms for
freedom and toil which have inspired the nation in recent periods,
and he harps on the opportunity for a Church with a tradition of
“the beauty of holiness.” “What a field for a corporation which is
not merely a Church, but ... the Church of England; blending with a
divine instruction the sentiment of patriotism, and announcing herself
as the Church of the country;” which may realise its nationality by
increasing her hold on the education[102] of the people, “though it is
possible there may be fresh assaults and attacks upon the machinery
by which the State has assisted the Church in that great effort;” by
extending the Episcopate (which has happened); by developing the lay
element in the administration of her temporal affairs; by fulfilling
the right of visitation both by priest and parishioner, and maintaining
those parochial privileges which are still inviolate both in town and
country; by remedying the gross inequality of stipend (which remains to
be done); by, so far as possible, relying on the Church itself, and not
resorting to the Legislature.

With respect to indifferentism among the more enlightened classes, it
is “agnosticism,” partly due to the scientific spirit on which I have
touched; partly to that “higher criticism” which Germany originated,
and which, it is clear, can only modify the views of an educated few.
With the mild rationalism of “Essays and Reviews,” Disraeli dealt
characteristically. He found them “at the best a second-hand medley of
contradictory and discordant theories.” Thirty years earlier he had
satirised those devout Christians who do not believe in Christianity.
As in the march of Science he perceived nothing new, and held that it
interpreted the imagery without sapping the foundations of belief, so
with regard to the “Teutonic rebellion” against inspiration, he saw
only repeated in another form, and with no more ability, the Celtic
“insurrection” which distinguished the eighteenth century: both had
their uses. “Man brings to the study of oracles more learning and more
criticism than of yore; and it is well that it should be so.” Nay, the
very development of the German theological school proves its ephemeral
character.

“About a century ago” (he observed in 1861) “German theology,
which was mystical, became by the law of reactions critical.
There gradually arose a school of philosophical theologians which
introduced a new system for the interpretation of Scripture.
Accepting the sacred narrative without cavil, they explained all the
supernatural incidents by natural causes. This system in time was
called Rationalism.... But where now is German Rationalism, and what
are its results? They are erased from the intellectual tablets of
living opinion. A new school of German theology then arose, which,
with profound learning and inexorable logic, proved that Rationalism
was irrational, and successfully substituted for it a new scheme
of scriptural interpretation called the mythical.[103] But if the
mythical theologians triumphantly demonstrated ... that Rationalism
was irrational, so the mythical system itself has already become a
myth; and its most distinguished votaries, in that spirit of progress
which, as we are told, is the characteristic of the nineteenth century,
and which generally brings us back to old ideas, have now found an
invincible solution of the mysteries of human existence in a revival of
Pagan pantheism.”

This he defined elsewhere as “Atheism in domino.” Since Disraeli’s
death the German school has made further strides. There has been a
brisk export of fresh theories “made in Germany.” We are now told
that the Old Testament is Babylonian, and that the New springs out of
Aryan ideas; and side by side with this _tour-de-force_ of paradox,
an orgy of anarchical hysteria threatens the sanctions of authority,
the secular as well as the spiritual. Disraeli would probably meet it
by what he retorted in the ’sixties, that when the periodical deluge
subsides, the ark is seen resting at the summit of the mountain.

But if education was to be secularised, might not the ark be chopped
up for firewood? Education was a problem that, in its private and
public aspects, engrossed Disraeli from his youth. In the second of
two election addresses at High Wycombe in the memorable year 1832 he
had announced: “... By repealing the taxes upon knowledge, I would
throw the education of the people into the hands of the philosophic
student, instead of the ignorant adventurer.” He believed that its
current principles were constantly wrong--that words were taught
instead of ideas, and grammar studied instead of character; and he was
also a great advocate of the wisdom of steeping the youth of a nation
in national literature. It was a keen disappointment to him that he
was deprived of the occasion of settling--partially, at any rate--the
problem of national education, and he considered that the less it was
fettered by direct State interference and the more it was helped by
State support, the better. He was persuaded that any national system
ought to be religious. For the Church’s original training of the
people, for her alliance with the Universities, too, he had the keenest
admiration.

“Nothing is more surprising to me,” he urged in 1872, “than ... that
in the nineteenth century the charge against the Church of England
should be that Churchmen, and especially the clergy, had educated
the people.... I think the greatest distinction of the clergy is the
admirable manner in which they have devoted their lives and fortunes to
this greatest of national objects.”[104]

It may not be generally remembered that only two years after Disraeli
entered the House of Commons he delivered himself of a remarkable
speech in this connection. He was opposed, he said, at that time to
a strictly State system, for he was opposed to “paternal government,
which stamped out the sense of independence in man, and caused him
to rely upon others.” Society should be strong, and the State weak;
order should not be disturbed by national injustice, nor liberty by
popular outcry. “_It is always the State and never Society--always
machinery and never sympathy._” But though he did not change the
principles of his outlook, he came by experience very materially to
change his view of the machinery by which they were to be applied. He
detested the interferences of centralisation; but a doubled population
and the overgrowth of cities rendered State measures imperative, and
their absence a disgrace. In his Edinburgh speech, twenty-eight years
later, he thus handled this national need: “... Ever since I have been
in public life I have done everything I possibly could to promote
the cause of the education of the people generally. I have done so
because I always felt that with the limited population of this United
Kingdom, compared with the great imperial position which it occupies
with reference to other nations, it is not only our duty, but ... an
absolute necessity, _that we should study to make every man the most
effective being that education can possibly constitute him_. In the
old wars there used to be a story that one Englishman could beat three
members of some other nation. But _I think if we want to maintain our
power, we ought to make one Englishman equal really in the business of
life to three other men that any other nation can furnish_. I do not
see otherwise how ... we can fulfil the great destiny that I believe
awaits us, and the great position we occupy.”

It will be noticed that he forecasts the practical and technical
requirements which, at a period of comparative commercial decline, we
are only now beginning to take to heart.

“Therefore,” he resumed, “so far as I am concerned, whether it be a far
greater advanced system of primary education--whether it be that system
of competitive examination which I have ever supported, though I am not
unconscious of some pedantry with which it is associated--or whatever
may be the circumstances, I shall ever be its supporter.”

He kept his word. Leading the Opposition in 1870, he supported Mr.
Forster’s great measure, though he strongly opposed the Cowper-Temple
Amendment--one which has undoubtedly kept much religious acrimony
alive. His speech on these clauses can still be studied with
advantage. In 1854, Lord John Russell introduced his bill for the “good
government of the University of Oxford.” Here, again, Disraeli objected
to undue Government interference. He thought that this “great seat of
learning” should deal with these problems itself independently, and
in the spirit of the age. It was designed to create professors on the
Prussian model. Disraeli showed that in Prussia there was then small
“sphere for the genius, the intellect, the talent, and the energy of
Germany, except in the professorial chair.” There were not then great
opportunities for a public career in Germany. “In this country you
may increase the salaries as you please; but to suppose that you can
produce a class of men like the German professors is chimerical.... We
are a nation of action, and you may depend upon it that, however you
may increase the rewards of professors ... ambition in England will
look to public life.... You will not be able, however you think you
may, to lay your hand upon twenty-five or thirty professors suddenly,
capable of effecting a great influence on the youth of England. You
cannot get these men at once. It will be slowly, with great difficulty,
by fostering and cultivating your resources, that you will be able to
produce one of these great professors--a man able to influence the
public opinion of the University. Whether, then, you look to the great
change which you propose with respect to these private halls, which is
in fact a revolution of the collegiate system; or whether you look to
the great alteration you contemplate by the revival of the professorial
instead of the tutorial system--on both points you will meet, I think,
with disappointment.... If I were asked, ‘Would you have Oxford, with
its self-government, freedom, independence, but yet with its anomalies
and imperfections; or would you have the University free from those
anomalies and imperfections and under control of the Government?’ I
would say, ‘Give me Oxford free and independent, with its anomalies and
imperfections.’”[105]

In the discipline of the Church itself also Disraeli eventually found
it imperative for the State to interfere. With extreme Ritualism, with
amateur popery in an alien camp, effetely and sometimes treacherously
practised, till the insubordination of a few, who were not in any
sense strong men or leaders, began to infect the many, Disraeli could
not sympathise. The Mass of the Roman Church as a solemn act he could
reverence, but not the “masquerade” of amateur ultramontanes. With the
High Anglicans, with the Tractarians, he in many respects sympathised
profoundly. Their movements were those of noble aspiration and high
endeavour. But most of the ultra-Ritualists were of wholly different
calibre. Their attitude he typified most humorously in _Lothair_, and
in the person of the “Reverend Dionysius Smylie,” who was wont to
observe, “Rome will come to _me_.” Moreover, the Church had passed
rapidly through varying vicissitudes. In the late ’thirties and early
’forties there had been a signal revival; but the secession of Newman,
“apologised for but never explained,” had proved a blow under which
“the Church still reels.” She lost a great, a generous, a necessary
leader, when a leader was her need. “If,” Disraeli wrote in 1870, “a
quarter of a century ago, there had arisen a Churchman equal to the
occasion, the position of ecclesiastical affairs in this country would
have been very different from that which they now occupy. But these
great matters fell into the hands of monks and Schoolmen....”

In the ’fifties there was some degeneration, and the revival of
Convocation was not on the wider basis which might have quickened
clerical energy and lay enthusiasm. In the ’sixties the Church began
to be “in danger.” Radicalism and Ritualism united; and there is a
manuscript letter of Disraeli, still extant, written at this period,
and affording some very interesting and secret knowledge.

What Disraeli disliked and regretted was that the choice between faith
and free thought should be more and more presented as one between the
Roman purple and the “Red Republic.”

And this brings me to the consideration of Disraeli’s ideas regarding
the Latin Church, the immortal Rome, “that great confederacy which has
so much influenced the human race, and which has yet to play perhaps a
mighty part in the fortunes of the world.”

This imperial form of Theocracy exercised for him, both imaginatively
and historically, an enormous attraction. Its special appeal to
the Latin and Celtic races; its unbroken phalanx of organisation;
its immemorial persistence of policy; its creative combination of
spirituality with art, of purity with beauty; its union of ideals
beyond and above the world with the mechanism of empires; its blend
of contrasts, of solemn softness with sombre control, of charm with
coldness, of callousness with charity, of loneliness with society,
of curse and comfort; its theoretic espousal of theological free
will with the practical denial of it in action, and of outward pomp
with inward simplicity; its watchful intimacies with every moment of
life--the way in which, as he puts it in _Contarini_, it “... produces
in” its “dazzling processions and sacred festivals an effect upon the
business of the day;” its guardianship of the weak, the erring, and
the poor; its nursing motherhood of doubt and despair; its insidious
captivation of the will and intellect; its power to recall and continue
the spirits of the centuries, to absorb schism and rebaptise it union;
its claims to obliterate the past for the penitent; to keep all things
old and make all things new; its great deeds and its great heroes;
these elements and many more, that have cooped Jews in Ghettos while
blazoning the proud inscription in front of St. Peter’s, _Vicit Leo
de tribu Juda_,--all these opposites enchant even when they fail to
enchain the mind and the feelings. They have linked the Vatican and
the Palatine, the see to the throne, the tiara to the diadem. They
have transfigured, while maintaining, pagan rites and customs, till
“Madre Natura” reappears with a halo, the very shrines of the Madonna
repeat the antique pattern of those dedicated to the Lares and Penates,
and the procession of waxen images in Southern Italy but perpetuates
another and an older ceremony. The Roman Church has been the most
consistent educator, the greatest organiser, the most universal
legislator of the last thousand years. It has attained uncompromising
ends unswervingly pursued by compromises the most subtle and the most
skilful. Nor is the esoteric doctrine which recalls the Eleusinian
Mysteries, and enables the initiated to regard forms comprehensible
by the multitude as merely popular symbols of higher truths, without
a certain glamour of its own. Disraeli’s father had penned a treatise
on the Jesuits, and their history had been deeply studied by the son.
I can still recall the unconscious tone of ironical appreciation
with which one of those “professors,” “capable of effecting a great
influence on the youth of England,” informed me that when he met
Disraeli, “he spoke to me of the Jesuits.” Both the two factors in
himself which I have mentioned, the sense of mystery and the impulse to
control, are precisely the atmosphere of the Papal Church. There was,
therefore, to some extent the attraction of affinity. But the Papacy
appealed to him imaginatively, not theologically, as it did to his
great rival. I recollect being told by a member of the symposium that
Gladstone once discussed deep into the night at Hawarden what form of
Christianity would eventually survive and prevail. Three chosen friends
agreed with him that it would be Romanism, the establisher and not the
establishment, the supernational and not the national, theocratic and
not (as Disraeli makes one of his characters describe the Church of
England) “parliamentary Christianity.”

Not so Disraeli. Its political influences, its “clamour for
toleration,” its “labour for supremacy,”[106] its warping limitations,
its prying priestcraft, its humble haughtiness, its casuistic candour,
its centralising forces fatal to Northern liberty, the ban placed
on free discussion and free intercourse, its proclamation of the
uniformity rather than of the unity of human nature, and above all
its admixture of paganism, were the drawbacks that repelled him. “The
tradition of the Anglican Church was powerful,” he observes, adverting
to that “mistake and misfortune” of Newman’s desertion. “Resting on the
Church of Jerusalem, modified by the divine school of Galilee, it would
have found that rock of truth which Providence, by the instrumentality
of the Semitic race, had promised to St. Peter. Instead of that, the
seceders sought refuge in mediæval superstitions which are generally
the embodiments of pagan ceremonies and creeds.”[107]

The spell of Romanism is an incident in _Contarini Fleming_. The spell,
but also the perils of Romanism, its bewitchment of judgment and of
conscience, its repugnance to free politics and independent wills,
its arrogance of inspiration, its monopolies, its burdens of enjoined
etiquette, form the theme of _Lothair_. He cannot bind himself to the
danger, yet how adorable is its source! How firm the rock on which it
is founded, when it is not of offence! How certain the conclusions, if
only the premises can be conceded!

“Religion is civilisation,” said the Cardinal--“the highest: it is a
reclamation of man from savageness by the Almighty. What the world
calls civilisation, as distinguished from religion, is a retrograde
movement, and will ultimately lead us back to the barbarism from which
we have escaped. For instance, you talk of progress: what is the chief
social movement of all the centuries that three centuries ago separated
from the unity of the Church of Christ? The rejection of the Sacrament
of Christian matrimony. The introduction of the law of divorce, which
is, in fact, only a middle term to the abolition of marriage. What
does that mean? The extinction of the home and household on which God
has rested civilisation. If there be no home, the child belongs to the
State, not to the parent. The State educates the child, and without
religion, because the State in a country of progress acknowledges no
religion.[108] For every man is not only to think as he likes, but to
write and speak as he likes.... And this system which would substitute
for domestic sentiment and Divine belief the unlimited and licentious
action of human intelligence and will, is called progress. What is it
but a revolt against God?”

What religious intelligence would not endorse these truths! But let
us now listen to the other side, that of “other-worldliness,” of
“the conversion--or conquest of England,” though the allusions to
“Corybantic Christianity” are not without justice.

“There is only one Church and one Religion,” said the Cardinal; “all
other forms and phrases are mere phantasms, without root or substance
or coherency. Look at that unhappy Germany, once so proud of its
Reformation.... Look at this unfortunate land, divided, subdivided,
parcelled out in infinite schism, with new oracles every day, and
each more distinguished for the narrowness of his intellect or the
loudness of his lungs; once the land of saints and scholars, and people
in pious pilgrimages, and finding always solace and support in the
Divine offices of an ever-present Church; which were a true, though a
faint type of the beautiful future that awaited man. Why, only three
centuries of this rebellion against the Most High have produced ... an
anarchy of opinion, throwing out every monstrous and fantastic form,
from a caricature of the Greek Philosophy to a revival of Feticism....
The Church of England is not the Church of the English. Its fate is
sealed. It will soon become a sect, and all sects are fantastic.
It will adopt new dogmas, or it will abjure old ones; anything to
distinguish it from the Non-conforming herd in which nevertheless it
will be its fate to merge....”

“I cannot admit,” replied the Cardinal, “that the Church is in
antagonism with political freedom. On the contrary, in my opinion,
there can be no political freedom which is not founded on Divine
authority; otherwise it can be at the best but a specious phantom of
licence inevitably terminating in anarchy. The rights and liberties of
the people of Ireland have no advocate except the Church, because there
political freedom is founded on Divine authority; but if you mean by
political freedom the schemes of the illuminati and the Freemasons,
which perpetually torture the Continent, all the dark conspiracies
of the secret societies, then I admit the Church is in antagonism
with such aspirations after liberty; those aspirations, in fact, are
blasphemy and plunder. And if the Church were to be destroyed, Europe
would be divided between the atheist and the communist.”

This last opinion is Disraeli’s own. None knew better, or realised
more, the disintegrating terrors of the secret societies, the
propaganda of desperation served by desperadoes and exploited by
soldiers of fortune.

Disraeli appreciated and often testified that Roman Christianity had
pre-eminently spiritualised the once undecayed Latin races. To its
services and ideals he always paid the deepest homage; for some of them
he displayed an evident affection. Nowhere has the higher aspiration of
Romanism been portrayed more touchingly than in the person of “Clare
Arundel.” The description in that book of the _Tenebræ_ vibrates with
delicate emotion. In the same book he foresees the erection on the site
of slums of the stately fane which now adorns Westminster. His public
utterances on Ireland, on the Maynooth question, and many others, his
ardent championship of the bill which secured the offices of his priest
for the Catholic prisoner, showed not only respect, but a sympathy and
conversance with Roman affairs passing that of ordinary statesmen. But,
as a statesman, he also realised that the Roman Church was not only
hostile to the Anglo-Saxon instincts, but has always claimed a despotic
temporal dominion; and he also realised not only the earlier and
far-reaching designs of Cardinal Wiseman, but the later diplomacies of
a definite scheme for the capture, now that absolutism is on the wane,
of democracy. Rome means to be the sole absolutism that shall survive.
What Disraeli dreaded and countervailed was the new-fangled alliance,
not only between Radicalism, but between Liberalism and Romanism. In
Ireland, as I shall show, a peculiar phase of the design was apparent,
and what Rome had manœuvred she came to deplore and even to struggle to
prevent. In _Lothair_, “Monsignor Berwick,” Antonelli’s ultramontane
disciple, is made to say of “Churchill,” the leader of Irish
Nationalism, “For the chance of subverting the Anglican establishment,
he is favouring a policy which will subvert religion itself.”

In later times the famous encyclical _Rerum Novarum_, Monsignor Ireland
and the “Knights of Labour” in America, Cardinal Manning and the London
Dock strikers, are an evidence that Disraeli’s insight was sound.

The people as a _Civitas Dei_--the Church-State--is a superb
ideal, one with which Disraeli was in heartfelt accord. But under
what _national_ forms is this to be compassed in England? A desire
that Anglican orders should be confirmed by the Bishop of Rome has
been during the last few years publicly advanced by dignitaries
of our own Church. Is the Roman system capable of satisfying the
progressive demands of the masses in England? Though their sordid
homes need purifying, will they ever tolerate the intrusion of their
privacy by celibate priests? Is a doctrinal absolutism, which the
people themselves have dethroned from political ascendency, likely
to consummate the cosmopolitan dream? State socialism divorced from
ecclesiastical dominion would never for one moment enlist the Pope. And
if some form even of State socialism ever became national (and Disraeli
could have withstood it to the death), how could Catholic socialism
control the socialism of the State? Can the supreme voice of God brook
the admonitions of the voice of the people?

_Lothair_ treats more especially of the diplomacies of Rome, and
perhaps the polite struggle at “Muriel Towers,” between the Cardinal
and the Bishop for the hero’s soul, is one of Disraeli’s most finished
pieces of humour. “The Anglicans have only a lease of our property, a
lease rapidly expiring,” ejaculates “Monsignor Berwick.” This imminent
expiry of the lease is undoubtedly a cherished hope of the Vatican and
Sacred College.

“Lothair,” it will be remembered, himself an earnest if somewhat
ineffectual youth, falls under the influence of “Lady St. Jerome,”
whose houses are rallying-centres for the great Cardinal and his
associates. “Lady St. Jerome” induces “Lothair” to attend the office
of the _Tenebræ_. He is told that nothing in this particular service
can prevent a Protestant from attending it. This is followed by the
master-gardener, “Father Coleman’s” comments on the adoration of the
Cross in the Mass of the Pre-Sanctified, and a picnic with “Miss
Arundel” and the courtly “Monsignor Catesby.” “The Jesuits are wise
men; they never lose their temper. They know when to avoid scenes as
well as when to make them.” “Lothair,” under the banner of his heroine,
“Theodora,” fights for Garibaldi and the “Madre Natura” against the
Papal troops. He is wounded at Mentana, and, by a coincidence, tended
by “Clare Arundel” and her Roman circle. On his recovery, a miracle
is announced concerning his rescue. The Virgin has interposed to
save a defender of the Faith. He is led to a great function in the
sacristy of St. George of Cappadocia. He finds himself the centre of
devout attraction. The Cardinal assures him that the miracle is true.
“Lothair” indignantly protests and denies. The Cardinal maintains that
there are two “narratives of his relations with the battle of Mentana.”
“If I were you, I would not dwell too much on this fancy of yours about
the battle.” ... “I am not convinced,” said “Lothair.” “Hush!” said
the Cardinal; “the freaks of your own mind about personal incidents,
however lamentable, may be viewed with indulgence, at least for a
time. But you cannot be permitted to doubt of the rest. You must be
convinced, and, on reflection, you will be convinced. Remember, sir,
where you are. You are in the centre of Christendom, where truth, and
where alone truth resides.”

Nobody for one moment would believe that the illustrious Archbishop
of Westminster debased strategy to stratagem; or could under any
circumstances have resorted to a deliberate lie. _Lothair_ is a
satirical fairy-tale, and “Cardinal Grandison” is only an outward
semblance of the late Cardinal Manning. But this passage sheds a
true light on Rome’s attitude towards doubt, and her methods of
proselytising; it shadows her secular policy. Can any one deny that
“the truth with a mental reserve” of Jesuitry composes much of the
plot in the drama of the hierarchy? Moreover, the passage agrees with
a very remarkable one in a distinguished French novel that appeared
three years afterwards--“L’Abbé Tigrane,” by M. Fabre. Long after these
events, when “Lothair” comes of age, his guardian, the same Cardinal,
converses with him on the impending Œcumenical Council. The duologue
contains a forcible summary of the Church’s infallibility, however
fallible may seem her individual members:--

“The basis on which God has willed that His revelation should rest in
the world is the testimony of the Catholic Church, which, if considered
only as a human historical witness of its own origin, constitution, and
authority, affords the highest and most enduring evidence for the facts
and contents of the Christian religion. If this be denied, there is no
such thing as history. But the Catholic Church is not only a human and
historical witness of its own origin, constitution, and authority, _it
is also a supernatural and Divine witness, which can neither fail nor
err_. When it œcumenically speaks, it is not merely the voice of the
Father of the World; it declares ‘_what it hath seemed good to the Holy
Ghost and to us_.’”

No wonder that “Lothair,” sitting down in the crisis of his life
by the moonlit Coliseum, muses in a rhapsody of the magnetism for
opposed causes of the genius of the spot, strangely anticipating
Zola’s contrast between the new Italian “Orlando” and the old Italian
“Boccanera.”

“Theodora lived for Rome and died for Rome. And the Cardinal, born and
bred an English gentleman, with many hopes and honours, had renounced
his religion and, it might be said, his country, for Rome; and his
race for three hundred years had given, for the same cause, honour,
and broad estates, and unhesitating lives. And these very people
were influenced by different motives, and thought they were devoting
themselves to opposite ends. But still it was Rome; Republican or
Cæsarian, papal or pagan, it still was Rome.”

I have shown the sources, as I believe, of Disraeli’s convictions.
He was the first to dwell on those problems of race which are now
recognised. His derided “Asian mystery” has been amply justified. His
view of the “Caucasian” is that of subsequent science. Writing nearly
forty years after he had mooted his ideas, he observed: “familiar as we
all are now with such themes ... the difficulty and hazard of touching
for the first time on such topics cannot now be easily appreciated.”
His beliefs were _racial_, and depended on the clue of race to history.
Their applications, however, were _national_. For he knew that race
is only an element among the shared associations and common language,
customs and history, that make up that ideal assembly which is called
a nation; and he also knew that mere communication is not communion;
that the rapidity of increased methods of material intercourse will
never extinguish the slow, but certain, fires of race discord, which
can only “consume its own smoke” through the free fusion of nationality.

His own race he cleared from prejudice, and proudly displayed as a
potent, if sometimes hidden, force throughout the world. His praise
and illustration of its endowments, its strength by virtue of its
purity of strain, its tenacity and power of organisation, its veiled
ramifications among the mainsprings that move Governments and alter
systems, no longer raise a smile; and if they did, they would certainly
cease to do so when placed on the lips of Macaulay, who thus treated
them--

“He knows,” said Macaulay, speaking in 1833 of the member for the
University of Oxford--“he knows that in the infancy of civilisation,
when our island was as savage as New Guinea, when letters and arts
were still unknown to Athens, when scarcely a thatched hut stood on
what was afterwards the site of Rome, this contemned people had their
fenced cities and cedar palaces, their splendid Temple, their fleets of
merchant ships, their schools of sacred learning, their great statesmen
and soldiers, their natural philosophers, their historians and their
poets.... Let us open to them every career in which ability and energy
can be displayed. Till we have done this, let us not presume to say
that there is no genius among the countrymen of Isaiah, or heroism
among the descendants of the Maccabees.”



CHAPTER V

MONARCHY


“To change back the oligarchy into a generous aristocracy round a _real
throne_,” Disraeli ranks, with his ideal mission towards the Church, as
“the trainer of the nation;” towards Labour, to “the moral and physical
condition of the people;” towards Ireland, by governing it “according
to the policy of Charles I., and not of Oliver Cromwell;” to Reform,
by emancipating “the political constituency of 1832 from its sectarian
bondage and contracted sympathies.”

“Sovereignty,” he says, in the peroration to _Sybil_, “has been the
title of something that has had no dominion, while absolute power
has been wielded by those who profess themselves the servants of the
people. In the selfish strife of factions, two great existences have
been blotted out of the history of England--_the Monarch and the
Multitude_; as the power of the Crown has diminished, the privileges of
the people have disappeared....” Such was Disraeli’s summary in 1870 of
what inspired “Young England” in 1840. The more real is representation,
the greater the chances of royalty. De Tocqueville, too, has shown that
it was just the decay of mediæval, municipal institutions that loosened
the hold of the French Crown on the French nation.

The “real throne,” as against the ornamental, formed a very material
part of it. It chimed with Disraeli’s outlook on English institutions
as “popular, but not democratic.” Since _Sybil_ was written, the
“subject” is no longer “a serf,” but for a long time the “sceptre”
tended to remain “a pageant.” The constitutional possibilities and
opportunities of kingship under our limited monarchy are even now,
perhaps, hardly realised. Before I close this chapter, I intend to say
something of their historical lineage.

There is a satirical passage about George the Fourth among the
brilliant flippancies of _Vivian Grey_, which may amuse us before
coming to close quarters with the serious side of sovereignty: “The
first great duty of a monarch is to know how to bow skilfully. Nothing
is more difficult, ... a royal bow may often quell a rebellion, and
sometimes crush a conspiracy. Our own Sovereign bows to perfection. His
bow is eloquent, and will always render an oration ... unnecessary,
which is a great point, for harangues are not regal. Nothing is
more undignified than to make a speech. It is from the first an
acknowledgment that you are under the necessity of explaining, or
conciliating, or convincing, or confuting; in short, that you are not
omnipotent, but opposed.”

“The Monarchy of the Tories is more democratic than the Republic of
the Whigs!” exclaimed Disraeli, as I have already quoted, in his
early _Spirit of Whiggism_. “I think,” cried Canning in 1812, “that
we have the happiness to live under a limited monarchy, not under a
crowned republic;” while, six years later, Canning again denounced
most forcibly the error of those “who argue as if the constitution of
this country was a broad and level democracy inlaid (for ornament’s
sake) with a peerage and topped (by sufferance) with a crown.” This
belief inspired the same statesman when, towards the agitated close of
his days, he speaks in a letter to Mr. Croker of his reliance on the
“vigour of the Crown” in conjunction with the “body of the people.”

This, too, was the belief that inspired Disraeli. “_The monarch and the
multitude._” Monarchy should be neither a gewgaw nor an abstraction,
but a centre of national enthusiasm. “It is enthusiasm alone that gives
flesh and blood to the skeletons of opinions.” From the beginning of
the first to the close of the fifth decade of last century kingship
had been on its trial in England. “The Tories,” wrote Disraeli in _The
Press_, “already recognised the necessity of employing all the popular
elements of the Constitution in support of its monarchical foundation.”

Just as I have shown with regard to the Church, his predisposition
lay towards pure Theocracy, but his practical bent discerned in a
national Church its aptest and most congenial embodiment; so with
regard to kingship his predisposition lay towards pure monarchy--royal
leadership--which he knew, and indeed hoped, could in England never
prove absolute, still less arbitrary. But a British king retains the
great advantage of being outside the prejudices of every order in
the State of which he is the social chieftain. The tendency, mused
“Sidonia,” of “advanced civilisation was to ‘pure monarchy;’” “Monarchy
is indeed a government which requires a high degree of civilisation
for its fulfilment.” Public opinion, absorbing so many functions
of control, training, and discussion, should find in the king a
disinterested exponent. “In an enlightened age, the monarch on the
throne, free from the vulgar prejudices and the corrupt interests of
the subject, again becomes divine.” But this was said with regard to
France, and in answer to “Coningsby’s” hazard that the republic of that
country might absorb its kingdom, and Paris[109] the provinces. It was
a dream. None felt more deeply than Disraeli that English tradition was
the temper of England. None, more than he, deprecated centralisation.
The very value of her “glorious institutions” is, as he often insists,
that they foster, in a form above the passions of momentary outburst
or fickle reactions, those great elements of loyalty, religion,
industry, liberty, and order which have conjoined to make and keep
her great. Representing classes, they humanise virtues. The problem
since the Revolution has always been how to bring the varying force
of public opinion, the power of Parliament, and the cabinet system,
which has gradually crystallised, into line with the ancient and
beneficial personality of the Crown; in later times, how to reconcile
the King both to Downing and also to Fleet Street; how to harmonise
the dependence of his just limits with the independence of his just
influence; how to render him no mere _roi fainéant_, or marionette
to be danced on the wires of patricians or tribunes, but a real
representative individuality; how he may rule as well as reign; and all
this, in this country and in this century, without assuming any kind
of either fatherly or of stepfatherly meddlesomeness; for the “Patriot
King” must never take even a tinge of the Patriarch. He must be one,
whatever else he may be, who “thinks more of the community and less of
the government.” He must, in a word, bear himself as a chief, and not
as a master.

As Byron sang, bearing Bolingbroke in mind--

     “A despot thou, and yet thy people free,
      And by the _heart_, not hand, enslaving us.”

The monarch, thought Disraeli, embodies the national elements in a
form of abiding and unarbitrary influence; he is above interest and
beyond party; his position prevents, his functions collide with, any
favouritism of any class. A King at one with public opinion can prove
a real check on individual designs, ministerial mistakes, private
cajoleries, public passions. “The proper leader of the people is the
individual who sits upon the throne.”

“‘And yet,’ said Coningsby, ‘the only way to terminate what is called
class legislation is not to entrust power to classes.... _The only
power that has no class sympathy is the Sovereign._’

“‘But suppose the case of an arbitrary Sovereign, what would be your
check against him?’

“‘The same as against an arbitrary Parliament.’

“‘But a Parliament is responsible ... to its constituent body.’

“‘Suppose it was to vote itself perpetual?’

“‘But public opinion would prevent that.’

“‘And is public opinion of less influence on an individual than on a
body?’

“‘But public opinion may be indifferent. A nation may be misled--may be
corrupt.’

“‘If the nation that elects the Parliament be corrupt, the elected body
will resemble it.... But this only shows that there is something to be
considered beyond forms of government--national character....’

“‘But do you then declare against Parliamentary government?’

“‘Far from it. _I look upon political change as the greatest of
evils, for it comprehends all._ But if we have no faith in the
permanence of the existing settlement--if the very individuals who
established it are year after year proposing their modifications or
their reconstructions--so, also, while we uphold what exists, ought
we to prepare ourselves for the change we deem impending. Now, I
would not that either ourselves or our fellow-citizens should be
taken unawares as in 1832, when the very men who opposed the Reform
Bill offered contrary objections to it which destroyed each other,
so ignorant were they of its real character, historical causes, its
political consequences.... For this purpose I would accustom the public
mind to the contemplation of an existing though torpid power in the
constitution, capable of removing our social grievances.... _The House
of Commons is the house of a few; the Sovereign is the sovereign of
all._’”

Now, undoubtedly the period to which these words refer was one when
certain Whig leaders contemplated an oligarchical republic, and wished
to compass their aim by an undue exaltation of the Lower House, as,
in 1718, Sunderland had wished to attain the same end by that of the
Upper. No student of the Croker Papers can fail to recognise the
fact, and undoubtedly Disraeli thought--and Sir Robert Peel thought
so too--that the times were ripe for reviving those constitutional
prerogatives, those kingly privileges which form the Crown’s sole
direct representative faculty in the constitution, of which the Crown
had long been robbed, first by its own alternate abuse or incapacity
to use them, afterwards by faction itself often imitating the royal
errors. And so the executive power had passed almost wholly into
ministerial hands. After 1830 the prerogatives which, as I shall show,
Mr. Gladstone champions, seemed falling into entire abeyance. In 1836,
before he had entered Parliament, Disraeli had, in the _Runnymede
Letters_, where he spoke of “the people of England sighing once more
to be a nation,” called on Sir Robert Peel to achieve “a great task
in a great spirit”--“_rescue your Sovereign from an unconstitutional
thraldom_; rescue an august Senate which has already fought the battle
of the people; rescue our National Church which our opponents hate,
our venerable constitution at which they scoff; but, above all, rescue
that mighty body of which all these great classes and institutions are
but one of the constituent and essential parts--rescue the _nation_.”

In 1837, “our young Queen and our old Institutions” were no mere
catchwords. And it seems unquestionable, also, that the subsequent
interferences of Baron Stockmar, the late Queen’s early tutelage to
Lord Melbourne, the circumstances attendant on her happy marriage,
the peculiar treatment of Prince Consort by her first ministers, and
the long retirement due to private grief, contributed in successive
combination towards that invisibility, so to speak, of her royal
office, which prevailed, though it did not, however, eventually
preclude her very real and valuable exercise of it. In England the only
true blemish of our party system, which Disraeli vehemently fought to
uphold, is, as he more than once urged, that it tends to “warp the
intelligence.” To this fault the wisdom of a constitutional and popular
monarch, above and beyond party, offers an antidote.

Sir Robert Peel, in the very year of Queen Victoria’s accession, writes
to Croker as follows:--

“... The theory of the constitution is that the King has no will except
in the choice of his ministers.... _But this, like a thousand other
theories, is at variance with the fact._ The personal character of
the sovereign ... has an immense practical effect.... There may not
be violent collisions between the King and his Government, but his
influence, though dormant and unseen, may be very powerful. Respect
for personal character will operate in some cases; in others the King
will have all the authority which greater and more widely extended
experience than that of any single minister will naturally give. A
King, after a reign of ten years, ought to know much more of the
working of the machine of government than any other man in the country.
_He is the centre to which all business gravitates._ The knowledge that
the King holds firmly a certain opinion, and will abide by it, prevents
in many cases an opposite opinion being offered to him.... The personal
character of a really constitutional King, of mature age, of experience
in public affairs, and knowledge, manners, and customs, is practically
so much _ballast_, keeping the vessel of the State steady in her
course, countervailing the levity of popular ministers, of orators
forced by oratory into public councils, the blasts of democratic
passions, the groundswell of discontent, and ‘the ignorant impatience
for the relaxation of taxation.’ ... The genius of the Constitution had
contrived this in times gone by.

                          “‘Speluncis abdidit atris
      Hoc metuens, molemque et montes insuper altos
      Imposuit, _Regemque_ dedit, qui fœdere certo
      Et premere, et laxas sciret dare jussus habenas.’

“If at other times this _paternal authority_[110] were requisite,
the authority to be exercised _fœdere certo_, by the nice tact of an
experienced hand, how much more is it necessary when every institution
is reeling, when

      _‘Excutimur cursu, et cœcis erramus in undis’!_”

Sir Robert’s idea, then, of a constitutional sovereign was that of
an unseen driver who holds the reins from within. The sailor-king
of narrow mind but broad sympathies, just departed when Peel wrote,
had not proved a cipher. He insisted on being for a space Lord High
Admiral, despite Croker’s ungenerous retort that James II. had done
the same. In 1828 he had offered wise advice to his ministers as to
the unripeness of the times for a change in the form then proposed,
which touched his heart. On his accession he emphatically expressed his
pleasure in retaining his ministers. And, though he composed a couplet
so bad that it might have been the jingle of Harley--

     “_A dissolution
      Means revolution_,”

yet throughout the brief and perplexed span of his reign he honestly
tried to accord with the whole nation as opposed to cliques and
sections of it that assumed the title of “the people.” The fact was
that he acceded during one of those crises when the balance of power
was shifting, and, his intellect being mediocre, he became bewildered.
The new, the legitimate, the organised predominance of public opinion
clashed with Parliament, and was played upon by ambitious ministers.
William the Fourth lived in just fear and blunt defiance of that
“Venetian oligarchy” which ever since 1704 had been the recurrent ideal
of the place-engrossing, great revolution families. What he apprehended
was foiled, principally by the personality of Sir Robert Peel, whom
he summoned to his aid. Henceforward the monarchy became, as it ought
long before to have become, completely, if gradually, popularised. When
monarchy is popular, the invisibility of its office ceases to be an
expedient. “... I think,” said Disraeli, in a speech of 1850, “it one
of the great misfortunes of our time, and one most injurious to public
liberty, that the power of the Crown has diminished.”

With Victoria and our present King--if we except a very transient spasm
of George III., whose first essay to be a “patriot king” had been to
dismiss and thwart the most popular minister that England has ever
had--monarchy has for the first time during nearly two centuries proved
wholly and nationally popular. Before the Stuarts, Elizabeth had ruled
by the sole virtue of her popularity; she had “inflamed the national
spirit,” and the checks introduced by the Revolution were only a
necessity for unpopular sovereigns. The Press has now introduced a far
greater check than any of these. Now that the nation is in full unison
with the Crown, the King is doubly entitled to support the nation
in hours of befitting emergency against the cabals or passions of a
person, a clique, or a class. A modern English King is too cognisant of
the popular feeling eloquent in an unbridled press ever to violate it;
he could not do so with impunity. The last surrender of “independent
kingship,” which Mr. Gladstone has noted, and others after him, was in
1827, when a weak sovereign renewed the “charter of administration of
the day.” There is no pretext now for a King to yield or hide his just
and popular privileges to serve the turn of ministers. The necessity
for a “monarch of Downing Street” has disappeared.

Disraeli adverted to some of these topics at Manchester in 1872, long
after the events of those times had passed, but when “the banner of
republicanism” was once again unfurled.

“... Since the settlement of that constitution, now nearly two
centuries ago, England has never experienced a revolution, though
there is no country in which there has been so continuous and
such considerable change. How is this? Because the wisdom of your
forefathers placed the prize of supreme power without the sphere of
human passions. Whatever the struggle of parties, whatever the strife
of factions, whatever the excitement and exaltation of the public
mind, there has always been something in this country round which all
classes and powers could rally, representing the majesty of the law,
the administration of justice, and involving at the same time the
security for every man’s rights and the fountain of honour.” And then,
after emphasising the non-partisanship of the Crown, the very end which
Bolingbroke forecasted at the time when an unemancipated King was
condemned to be a party man, he led the discussion to the conventional
views of the King being not only outside politics, but outside affairs.

“... I know it will be said that, however beautiful in theory,
the personal influence of the Sovereign is now absorbed in the
responsibility of the minister. I think you will find there is a great
fallacy in this view. The principles of the English Constitution do
not contemplate the absence of personal influence on the part of the
Sovereign; and if they did, the principles of human nature would
prevent the fulfilment of such a theory.” He is here in complete accord
with Peel. “Even,” he says, “with average ability, it is impossible
not to perceive that such a Sovereign must soon attain a great mass
of political information and political experience. Information and
experience, ... whether they are possessed by a Sovereign or by the
humblest of his subjects, are irresistible in life.... The longer the
reign, the influence of that Sovereign must proportionately increase.
All the illustrious statesmen who served his youth disappear. A new
generation of public servants rises up. There is a critical conjuncture
in affairs--a moment of perplexity and peril. Then it is that the
Sovereign can appeal to a similar state of affairs that occurred
perhaps thirty years before. When all are in doubt among his servants,
he can quote the advice that was given by the illustrious men of his
early years, and though he may maintain himself within the strictest
limits of the Constitution, who can suppose, when such information and
such suggestions are made by the most exalted person in the country,
that they can be without effect? No; ... a minister who could venture
to treat such influence with indifference would not be a Constitutional
minister, but an arrogant idiot....” And in another speech of the same
year, after insisting that English attachment to English institutions
was no “political superstition,” but sprang from a resolve that “_the
principles of liberty, of order, of law, and of religion ought not to
be entrusted to individual opinion, or to the caprice and passion of
multitudes, but should be embodied in a form of permanence and power_,”
he also remarked: “... We associate with the Monarchy the ideas which
it represents--the majesty of law, the administration of justice, the
fountain of mercy and honour.” He might, in fitness with his other
pronouncements, have added the ideas of loyalty and of leadership.
Again, in 1871, a moment of republican revival, adverting to the
superintendence of public business by the Sovereign, he insisted that
“... there is not a dispatch received from abroad, or sent from this
country abroad, which is not submitted to the Queen.... Those Cabinet
Councils, ... which are necessarily the scene of anxious and important
deliberations, are reported and communicated, ... and they often call
from her critical remarks requiring considerable attention.... No
person likely to administer the affairs of this country would treat
the suggestions of Her Majesty with indifference, for at this moment
there is probably no person living who has such complete control over
the political conditions.... But, although there never was a Sovereign
who would less arrogate any power or prerogative which the Constitution
does not authorise, so I will say there never was one more wisely
jealous of those which the Constitution has allotted to her, because
she believes they are for the welfare of her people.”

It is by its constitutional prerogatives that, in the first place, the
Crown can assert its lawful influence. They confer on him a deciding
power in many spheres. Of these prerogatives Disraeli was a champion;
and Mr. Gladstone upheld them in at least two interesting discussions
among his “Gleanings.”

To defer the most obvious among these, the King’s consultative faculty,
“the power,” to cite Mr. Gladstone, “which gives the monarch an
undoubted _locus standi_ in all the deliberations of a Government, ...
remains as it was.” In olden days this was effected openly in form. Nor
should it be forgotten that whenever a Ministry is changed, again to
cite Mr. Gladstone, “the whole power of the State periodically returns
into the royal hands.” In 1852, when Lord Derby reluctantly consented
to assume office with a minority, there were forty-eight hours when,
as Disraeli pointed out in a speech of 1873, “the Queen was without
a Government.” Then take the royal prerogative of dissolution. This
right enabled, in 1852, that very administration to perform the work
of the session, and to carry the supplies before appealing to the
constituencies on its right to exist. It is in effect a right of appeal
by the Sovereign through or even against (should he deem it their
duty to take the national voice) his ministers to the country; and in
any crucial instance it forms the best check to faction of which our
Constitution admits.

Further, there exists the admitted prerogative, openly exercised, of
choice of ministers. This was the main arena of party cleavage under
the greater portion of the sway of George III. It was this which,
as Mr. Gladstone also mentions, was unsuccessfully, but neither
unwholesomely nor unfairly, pressed into popular service in 1834.
And, among many others remaining, there is that to appoint bishops--a
stalking-ground of contention during the reign of Anne, and, in the
Victorian era, signalised by Dr. Hampden’s appointment against a
remonstrant primate. There is the prerogative of the Royal Warrant
utilised by Mr. Gladstone himself in the repeal of the Purchase Act.
There is the prerogative of disapproving the choice of Speaker, which
will probably cease. There is that for proposing grants of public
money, and there is the salutary initiative of Royal Commission which
paves the way for social reform. On these personal rights I need not
dwell. But on the prerogative of peace and war a word must be said. Had
it been withheld for hostilities in the Crimea, a needless complication
of Europe need never have occurred.[111] We may conjecture that its
influence was not absent from our recent peace in South Africa. Mr.
Gladstone has instanced the Chinese war, some fifty years ago, as an
example of carrying on a conflict believed to be necessary despite its
condemnation by “the stewards of the public purse.” The Sovereign has
also the undoubted right to consult with his ministers, and to attend
the deliberations of his Cabinet. Queen Anne did this habitually, and
the fatal movement of her fan decided great issues on more than one
occasion. The first two Georges used on occasion, but with indifference
where money was not concerned, to do the same. Since then it has fallen
into disuse, and perhaps the end is better served by the premier’s
audiences with his King. But I may here be permitted to hope that when
the great intercolonial council which is in the air has taken shape,
the Sovereign may deign to be its President. Such a decision would be
in complete accord with the policy of Disraeli, who affirmed in 1876,
“No one regrets more than I do that favourable opportunities have been
lost of identifying the colonies with the royal race of England.”

The prerogatives are the royal faculties for independent expression.
But it is obviously not by prerogative mainly or alone that the Crown
rivets and can mould a nation. The Crown is a many-sided emblem. It is
the centre of English unity, a focus of consolidation and compactness;
while it also represents Great and Greater Britain abroad. As a source
of home sympathy, as the embodiment of the might and mercy of a great
Empire, as the durable impersonation of the individual character that
out of many welded races creates a united Empire, it is manifestly
operative. I may add that it may also set an example of simplicity, for
the Crown is able to bring choice virtues into vulgar fashion.

Nor should sight be lost of the immense services which the Sovereign
may render to British interests abroad. Shifting administrations
encourage various hopes in foreign powers. The Crimean War was an
outcome of such renewed aspirations. Our foreign policy lacks the
strength of continuity, and its changefulness seems ineradicable
from our party system. It is, therefore, of high importance that
European courts should be able to count on certain limits which they
know that a monarch whom they respect is likely to maintain. Such a
consciousness of finality enables foreign Governments to moderate the
popular clamour often worked up by dishonest agitation, and the more
obstinate because purposely misinformed. The Crown can thus become a
great conciliator,[112] and sometimes a preventer of actual war. The
affinities of the blood royal to continental dynasties are not so
cogent, though their material aid as sources of inner information is
manifest. But as guarantees of amity they often prove comparatively
helpless, unless supported by the recognition of character, tact,
and abilities, for which the nurture of every British prince should
fit him, and which entitle him to appeal to every differing headship
of peoples abroad, as well as to the originally alien ingredients of
empire at home. The British Sovereign may well be called the Member for
the Empire.

On these aspects Disraeli often dwelt; and at a period when, for these
objects, the comparatively small expense was affected to be grudged
by a set of extreme politicians, his analysis proved its cheapness in
proportion to the cost of large democracies and republics.

A great outcry was raised when, twenty-seven years ago, Disraeli made
the startling move of appealing alike to the Hindoo and the Mohammedan
sentiment by investing Queen Victoria with a title which has impressed
India with the grandeur of Great Britain. To the Oriental the style
of a white queen meant as little as to the queen of the Ansaries, so
humorously depicted in _Tancred_. It was well said of Disraeli by
Lord Salisbury, in the speech which commemorated his death, that zeal
for the greatness of England had eaten him up; and zeal, as Disraeli
observed in an Irish speech of 1844, is rare enough in these days.
Never was a stroke more justified by its results. Like the purchase of
the Suez Canal shares, equally justified, it was bitterly and blindly
assailed. “Bastard imperialism” was the refrain of the Opposition. No
one knew on what sacred ark the Machiavellian finger might next be laid.

Disraeli proved that “empress” was an old ascription even in England,
and that “emperor” even in the Western mind was not a title bound
up with “bad associations.” Macaulay had singled out the age of the
Antonines as a signal era for the world, and the Antonines had been
emperors. In the early ’sixties a definite and powerful party had
conspired to break the unity of the empire and the dignity of the
kingdom, to sacrifice everything to material considerations, to convert
_a first-class monarchy into a second-class republic_. It was not
enough that the national sentiment should be diverted from appeals to
pocket by appeals to patriotism; that the gush of utilitarian cold
water should be arrested from drowning the rekindled flames of public
spirit. The coloured imagination of the East must also be brought into
line with the soberer background of the West. Nor was the relation of
the measure less weighty to Europe. Europe, too, must realise that
India was a trust which Britain was resolute never to abandon. These
objects Disraeli effected by his “Royal Titles Bill,” a conception
as simple as it was daring. “They know in India,” he urged, after
imploring the House to “remove prejudice from their minds”--“they know
in India what this bill means, and they know that what it means is what
they wish.... Let not our divisions be misconstrued. _Let the people of
India feel that there is a sympathetic chord between us and them, and
do not let Europe suppose for a moment that there are any in this House
who are not deeply conscious of the importance of our Indian Empire._
Unfortunate words have been heard in the debate upon this subject; but
I will not believe that any member of this House seriously contemplates
the loss of our Indian Empire.... If you sanction the passing of this
bill, it will be an act, to my mind, that will add splendour even to
her throne, and security even to her Empire.” In a subsequent chapter
I shall show that these ideas of sympathy with India had animated him
while the great Mutiny was raging.

It was Disraeli who suggested to Queen Victoria the propriety of
learning the language and studying the literature of the vast domain
over which she ruled, and the _munshis_ summoned to instruct her,
brought home to every Indian the conviction that her sway was one, not
only of strength, but of sympathy and intelligence. Doubtless these
policies were born of dreams, and of dreams which to the unreflecting
might seem extravaganzas. But they were not merely an Arabian Nights’
entertainment. The Monarchy, like the Church, in his mind were in one
respect akin. The Clergy and the King were both “English citizens and
English gentlemen,” and yet the undue political influence of either, as
he insisted in 1861, was to be feared, because it might diminish their
best influence. Both make for order, and order makes for liberty. “...
It is said sometimes that the Church of England is hostile to religious
liberty. As well might it be said that the Monarchy of England is
adverse to political freedom.”

Many of Disraeli’s central ideas as to British kingship were partly
decided by him from his boyish conversance with the works of Lord
Bolingbroke, whose constitutional theories (repeated by Burke) solved
the difficulty of accounting for the popularity of exclusiveness in
the theory of government, and for the odiousness of that party which
had once been inclusive and “national.” Prerogative has been nowhere
better defined than by Bolingbroke, who uniformly also declares
that Parliament is the main barrier against “the usurpation of its
illegal, or the abuse of its legal, powers.” He terms prerogative “a
discretionary power in the King to act for the good of his people
where the laws are silent; ... never contrary to law;” and this in
a passage where he protests against its being raised “one step
higher;” and he has further shown elsewhere how some such “barefaced,
extraordinary powers” _were_ welcomed by the nation in Elizabeth’s
reign, because they were called forth by popular emergencies and
used in a popular manner. Elizabeth, at a time before the Sovereign
depended on Parliament, and before the Cabinet system was established,
owed her power to her sympathy with her people. The first two Georges
were unsympathetic, and the second abetted not only partisanship, but
cliqueship. He became dependent on contending heads of greedy factions.
To cure these evils was the purport of the “Patriot King,” which
inspired Disraeli as it had before inspired Chatham.

It has been objected that Bolingbroke’s aim was for the King to “defy
Parliament.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Throughout his
writings he champions the rights of Parliament; indeed, Parliament was
his hobby. In his treatise on the “Patriot King,” the word “Parliament”
is not employed--it is his only essay from which it is absent--but the
phrase “the people,” that is, has been expressly defined by him as the
whole nation in its capacities, representative as well as collective.
It therefore includes “Parliament.” In Bolingbroke’s previous “Spirit
of Patriotism,” he had approached the theme of national regeneration
from the standpoint of the ideal citizen; in the “Patriot King,” from
the standpoint of a throne in accord with national concurrence. Its
whole pith is that the ideal King, governing through ministers and
through party, should rise above and beyond them. He must be neither
a partisan (as all the Georges proved), nor a puppet, nor (as Canning
long afterwards repeated) “the tool of a confederacy,” but in alliance
with and reliance on the whole body of his subjects. The “Patriot King”
is expressly urged “to confine instead of labouring to extend his
prerogative;” and Bolingbroke adds that such an ideal would be derided
by his own generation.

Of Elizabeth herself, whose great example is his perpetual praise, he
has observed elsewhere that, “instead of struggling through trouble and
danger to bend the constitution to any particular views of her own, she
accommodated her notions, her views, and her whole character to it;”
and he proceeds to say, “a free people expects this of their prince. He
is made for their sakes, not they for his;” and again, “the merit of
a wise governor is wisely to superintend the whole.” He expresses his
ideal of an impartial and democratic King in his “Spirit of Patriotism”
as of one who should “_govern all by all_.” He further, in many direct
passages, distinctly looks forward to a transference of power from
caballing cliques led by selfish ambition, to the nation at large, and
he calls on the King to be a truly national ruler. He desires, under
changes, descried in the dim distance, that the “_sense of the Court,
the sense of the Parliament, and the sense of the People should be the
same_;” that the King, as he expresses it, should prove the “centre of
the nation,” and, as Disraeli has expressed it, should be above “class
interests;” should, in a country of classes, respond to every class,
and favouritise none. To this end he harped, as did Disraeli from
first to last, on what he admits to be a seeming solecism--a “National
Party;” and by this he means--as I could prove by countless passages--a
party whose main object is _national and imperial unity_; one that is,
moreover, comprehensive instead of being exclusive.

These ideas, in happier times and altered circumstances, passed
to Disraeli. In 1859, repeating in part what he had affirmed of
“Bolingbroke” in the Letter to Lord Lyndhurst, indited nearly
twenty-five years earlier, he said of the Conservative party: “... In
attempting, however humbly, to regulate its fortunes, I have always
striven to distinguish that which was eternal from that which was but
accidental in its opinions. I have always striven to assist in building
it upon a _broad and national_ basis, because I believed it to be a
party peculiarly and essentially _national_--a party which adhered to
the institutions of the country as embodying the national necessities
and forming the best security for the liberty, the power, and the
prosperity of England.”

In his Runnymede Letter to Peel of 1836, he calls on him to head this
“national party.” In his Crystal Palace oration of 1872, he showed that
the ideal of a “Conservative” party seeking to preserve, adapt, and
expand traditional institutions is to be national. In this striking
speech, after deprecating that, in the days of Eldon, “... instead of
the principles professed by Mr. Pitt and Lord Grenville, and which
those great men inherited ‘from predecessors’ not less illustrious,
the Tory system had degenerated into a policy which formed an adequate
basis on the principles of exclusiveness and restriction,” he urged,
as he had always urged: “... The Tory party, unless it is a national
party, is nothing. It is not a confederacy of nobles, it is not a
democratic multitude; it is a party formed from all the numerous
classes in the realm--classes alike and equal before the law, but whose
different conditions and different aims give vigour and variety to our
national life.”

For the essence of these ideas, the forms which have since appeared or
vanished--the development of the ministerial system, the organisation
of public opinion--are immaterial. Of course Bolingbroke could not
foresee the _routine_ of the far future; it was its _spirit_ which
he foresaw, and to which, through Disraeli, he contributed. In his
own language about another, he “... _had the wisdom to discern, not
only the actual alteration which was already made, but the growing
alteration which would every day increase_.” And this, too, may be
affirmed of Disraeli.

I think that, in the denial of Bolingbroke’s real objects, achieved by
Disraeli, some misconception has arisen from the constant use towards
the close of the eighteenth century of “to govern by party connections.”

George III., a student of Bolingbroke, but a narrow abuser on his first
trial of his doctrine, was accused of meaning to dispense with this
watchword of oligarchs. But the quarrels of his time proved that what
George III. really wanted was to dispense with one party alone, to
escape from the dictation of a few governing families, and to choose
his own ministers. There may be--there have been--great parties based
on principles of disruption and contraction rather than of union
and expansion, or parties based on principles more international or
continental than national and British. A “national” party does not
exclude their existence and criticism, any more than it does that
of another “national” party taking another outlook on “general
principles.” What it ought more and more to exclude, what the monarch
as the centre of union should more and more render impossible, is an
anti-national group, and the remedy that Burke suggests for such an
ailment is that propounded by Bolingbroke and upheld by Disraeli--the
limited and constitutional prerogatives of the Crown--which
should render less possible those gangs of office-mongers who, in
Bolingbroke’s phrase, pay “a private court at the public expense,” and
in Disraeli’s, are “public traders of easy virtue.”

These ideas, shared by Bolingbroke, by Burke, by Canning, and by
Disraeli, are no tiresome theories, but lively and practical issues. We
too must look ahead. How far under modern conditions, and apart from
the spasms and clamours of party, can the sovereign power as a force
consolidating the Empire be strengthened, and the royal prerogatives
wisely displayed in the light of day? Ought a King’s personality to
prove also the means of his power? Time will show.



CHAPTER VI

COLONIES--EMPIRE--FOREIGN POLICY


Before Disraeli had entered public life, at a time when public opinion
remained stagnant regarding the reciprocal needs and splendid future
of the Mother Country and her children, while it was still thought
optional whether the parent supported the offspring or the offspring
the parent, Disraeli had pondered on the problem, and brought
imagination to bear upon it. The colonies were not merely commercial
acquisitions, they were the free vents for the surplus energy of a
great race, and the nursery gardens of national institutions.

In _Contarini Fleming_ he thus muses, dreaming of things to come, in
sight of Corcyra--

“... There is a great difference between ancient and modern colonies.
A modern colony is a commercial enterprise, an ancient colony was a
political sentiment. In the emigration of our citizens, hitherto, _we
have merely sought the means of acquiring wealth_; the ancients, when
their brethren quitted their native shores, wept and sacrificed, and
were reconciled to the loss of their fellow-citizens solely by the
constraint of stern necessity, and the hope that they were about to
find easier subsistence, and to lead a more cheerful and commodious
life. _I believe that a great revolution is at hand in our system of
colonisation, and that Europe will soon recur to the principles of the
ancient polity._” In 1836 he thus satirises the impending King’s speech
in his Runnymede Letter to Lord Melbourne--

“... It will announce to us that in our colonial empire the most
important results may speedily be anticipated from the discreet
selection of Lord Auckland as a successor to our Clives and our
Hastings; that the progressive improvement of the French in the
manufacture of beetroot may compensate for the approaching destruction
of our West Indian plantations;[113] and that, although Canada is not
yet independent, the final triumph of liberal principles, under the
immediate patronage of the Government, may eventually console us for
the loss of the glory of Chatham and the conquests of Wolfe.”

Once in the House of Commons, he never ceased to urge the claims of
sentiment and the bonds of interest, while he enforced the necessity
for cementing them by federation and by tariffs. In 1848, when Lord
Palmerston, with his “perfumed cane,” was dictating a constitution
to Narvaez, Disraeli, who on principle deprecated interference with
foreign powers unless British interests were endangered, here supported
him, just because he considered it a case with contingencies affecting
our colonial welfare and our own prestige. It was in 1848, too, that,
descanting on the narrowing aspects of the Manchester School, and their
“unblushing” advocacy of the “interests of capital,” he indicted their
“colonial reform with ruining the colonies.” It was in the same year
that he taxed the self-righteous Peelites with “turning up their noses
at East India cotton as at everything else Colonial and Imperial.”[114]

Under Governments, of which Disraeli was the leading spirit, a
constitution was framed for New Zealand in 1852, and in the summer
of 1858 the colony of British Columbia was established. It was not
more than a few months afterwards that disturbances arose; and the
_Times_, in its review of the year 1859, found in these elements only
the “incubus” of ubiquitous colonies and commerce. To this standing
snarl about “the millstone of the colonies and India” Disraeli adverted
thirteen years afterwards, when he said: “... It has been shown with
precise, with mathematical demonstration, that there never was a jewel
in the Crown of England that was so truly costly.... How often has it
been suggested that we should emancipate ourselves from this incubus!”
It was Disraeli’s Government that in the ’sixties was to confederate
Canada, and in the ’seventies to devise a scheme for confederating
South Africa. In his earliest pamphlets Disraeli had announced that
the genius of the age was one of a transition from the “feodal” to the
“federal.” In his whole outlook throughout he sought to reconcile the
higher spirit of the one with the material interests of the other.
And yet, astounding to relate, it was stated in a speech some seven
years or so ago, that Disraeli himself had endorsed such melancholy
and shortsighted pettiness. The sole foundation that I have been able
to find is a stray sentence in a light letter to Lord Malmesbury; just
as in 1863 he made merry in Parliament over those who regarded the
“colonial empire” as an “annual burden.”

This sentence, jesting of the “millstone,” but sighing over the chance
of severance, was penned in 1853--the very year after the New Zealand
Constitution. It was a time of despondency, following on fourteen years
of colonial crisis. During it both Canada and the Cape had rebelled.
The former’s Constitution had been suspended. The repeal of the Sugar
Duties had estranged mutinous Jamaica. Peel had been constrained to
exclaim that in “Every one of our colonies we have another Ireland,”
and Peel was an imperialist. In a raw state, and in the crudity of
earlier hardships, the colonies always clash more readily with home
government than when the mellowing progress of experience enables them
to take a less partial view, and to accept help in working out their
own salvation. Moreover, the choice still lay between pure democracy
and democracy monarchical and national. The democratic idea during this
period was working in absolute detachment from the ancient institutions
which should have been easily transplanted. In the colonies these were
all in danger. It was difficult here to find a rallying centre for them
there, and that difficulty was heightened by the two new schools of
Radical thought--the older, that of the philosophical Molesworth and
the utilitarian Hume, who tested policy by the criterion of immediate
success; the newer, that of the dry “Physical Equalitarians” of
Manchester, which regarded Great Britain as a huge co-operative store.
Disraeli from first to last urged the especial need in England for
strong as well as good government. The faculties for government were
being lessened and weakened. It was not one side only that despaired;
Lord John Russell himself had no faith in the bare democracy of the
colonial feeling. And yet we have seen what Disraeli wrote of Lord
John in _The Press_ at this very period. The home example then was
unpropitious for the colonies. Monarchy was yet far from popular. What
Disraeli feared in England--what may still be dreaded in our midst--was
the possible reaction--in the face of limited employment of labour
and growing tyranny of capital--from detached democracy to moneyed
despotism. “Nor is there”--wrote Disraeli, with premature penetration,
in _The Press_ of March 21, 1853--“a country in the world in which the
reaction from democracy to despotism would be so sudden and so complete
as in England, because in no other country is there the same timidity
of capital; and just in proportion as democratic progress by levelling
the influences of birth elevates the influences of money, does it
create a power that would at any time annihilate liberty--if liberty
were brought into opposition with the three-per-cents.” The effects
of this fermenting leaven both in England and among her colonies had
to be weighed; and Disraeli many years afterwards avowed in a speech
that for a moment he too had wavered. That moment was the one of this
passing phrase. But it stood for a phase as momentary. Disraeli, like
Strepsiades in the Attic burlesque, had only “mislaid his cloak, not
lost it.”[115] Ten years later he could advocate our colonial empire
with effect and authority. The colonies had become--as the Crown had
become--a popular institution, and a requisite for the fresh air,
fresh vents, and fresh health of an expanding population cramped by
now overcrowded towns. They might still prove a recruiting ground for
labour. Peel’s adoption of the “physical happiness” principle, which
postulates unlimited employment of industry, had not settled that
problem by his “liberation of commerce.” And, as Disraeli pointed
out in 1873, if it were only to be settled by natural forces, the
“unlimited employment” of labour made for the erasement of the national
idea. To the theoretic Radical, however, the colonies, like all our
institutions, were still obstacles. “... To him the colonial empire is
only an annual burden. To him corporation is an equivalent term for
monopoly, and endowment for privilege....”

Together with Disraeli’s name, in the mention of early colonial
aspirations, that of the then Sir E. Bulwer Lytton should assuredly
be commemorated. He, too, treated colonial concerns, during his brief
period of secretaryship, with firmness, insight, and adroitness. Nor
should it be forgotten that between the two was a link of romantic
imagination as well as of long-standing friendship. Years before,
they had both contributed to the _New Monthly Magazine_. Both were
men of striking originality, untempered by a public school education;
and it is amusing to note that the fantastic strain, enabling both to
view the prospect spaciously, and censured as “un-English”[116] in
Disraeli--often when he was really quoting from our classics[117]--was
only criticised as “extravagant” in Lytton, or, at a later period,
as “ornate” in Lord Leighton. Both were students and interpreters of
Bolingbroke. They had each the faculty of regarding history as a whole,
and from a high vantage-ground, instead of perverting their vision of
progress by the paltry rancours of the moment. Such an instinct is
invaluable in attaching new settlements to the nest of their nurture.

In 1863, summarising the aspirations of Conservatism, he spoke of “our
colonial empire, _which is the national estate_, that assures to every
subject, ... as it were, a freehold, and which gives to the energies
and abilities of Englishmen an inexhaustible theatre.” He was swift to
discern the bearing of crucial alterations in America on the colonies.
In 1864, while the civil conflict was raging in the United States, he
urged, regarding them: “... What is the position of the colonies and
dependencies of her Majesty in that country? Four years ago, when the
struggle broke out, there was very little in common between them. _The
tie that bound them to this country was almost one of formality_; but
what has been the consequence of this great change in North America?
You have now a powerful federation _with the element of nationality
strongly evinced in it_. They count their population by millions,
and they are conscious that they have a district more fertile and an
extent of territory equal to the unappropriated reserves of the United
States. _These are the elements and prognostics of new influences_
that have changed the character of that country. Nor is it without
reason that they do not feel less of the ambition which characterises
new communities than the United States, and that they may become, we
will say, the ‘_Russia of the New World_.’... If from considerations
of expense we were to quit the possessions that we now occupy in North
America, it would be ultimately, as regards our resources and wealth,
as fatal a step as could possibly be taken. Our prosperity would
not long remain a consolation, _and we might then prepare for the
invasion of our country and the subjection of the people_.” And he next
insisted on the need of Canada’s adequate defence, saying that while
we would not force our connection on any dependency, yet, finding our
colonies now asserting the principle of their nationality, “... and ...
foreseeing a glorious future, ... still depending on the faithful and
affectionate assistance of England, it would be the most short-sighted
and suicidal policy to shrink from the duty that Providence has called
upon us to fulfil.” In 1866, again, he advocated colonial interests in
Parliament, and, by a fine phrase, warned us to “... recollect that
England is the _metropolis of a colonial empire_; that she is at the
head of a vast number of colonies, the majority of which are yearly
increasing in wealth; and that every year these colonies send back to
these shores their capital and their intelligence in the persons of
distinguished men, who are naturally anxious that _these interests
should be represented in the House of Commons_.”

But it was in 1872 that Disraeli first propounded a colonial policy
which was the sum of many previous pronouncements, and is even now
being pondered, and not by one party alone. He recognised that a
united empire implies a united nation; that, as he always maintained,
Parliament represents national opinion, and that colonial opinion and
sentiment at last formed part of it.

“Gentlemen,” urged Disraeli, “there is another and second great object
of the Tory party. If the first is to maintain the institutions of
the country, the second is, in my opinion, to uphold the empire of
England. If you look to the history of this country since the advent
of Liberalism--forty years ago--you will find that there has been
no effort, so continuous, so subtle, supported by so much energy,
and carried on with so much ability and acumen, as the attempts of
Liberalism _to effect the disintegration of the empire of England_.
Statesmen of the highest character, writers of the most distinguished
ability, the most organised and efficient means have been employed
in this endeavour. It has been proved to all of us that we have lost
money by our colonies.” Alluding next to the “incubus” in the passage I
have already cited, he thus frankly continues: ... “Well, that result
was nearly accomplished when these subtle views were adopted by the
country, under the plausible plea of granting self-government to the
colonies. I confess that I myself thought that the tie was broken.
Not that I, for one, object to self-government. I cannot conceive how
our distant colonies can have their affairs administered except by
self-government. But self-government, in my opinion, ought to have
been conceded, _as part of a great policy of imperial consolidation.
It ought to have been accompanied by an imperial tariff, by securities
for the people of England for the enjoyment of the unappropriated
lands which belonged to the sovereign as their trustee, and by a
military code which should have precisely defined the means and the
responsibilities by which the colonies should be defended,[118] and
by which, if necessary, the country should call for aid from the
colonies themselves._ It ought further to have been accompanied _by
the institution of some representative council in the metropolis,
which would have brought the colonies into constant and continuous
relations with the home Government_. All this, however, was omitted
because those who advised that policy--and I believe their convictions
were sincere--looked upon the colonies of England, looked even upon
our connection with India, as a burden upon this country, _viewing
everything in a financial aspect, and totally passing by those moral
and political considerations which make nations great, and by the
influence of which alone men are distinguished from animals_.”

Here we have a foreseeing and a far-seeing policy. Not a point of this
forecast but has engaged, or will soon engage, national attention.
With what courage and sagacity did Disraeli hand on the torch of
Bolingbroke, who, first of English statesmen, had emphasised the
significance of Gibraltar, who foretold England’s mission as “a
Mediterranean power,”[119] and pictured her then scanty colonies as so
many “home farms”! None can now doubt the sagacity; and if any doubt
the courage, they have only to peruse the warnings of that commercial
Cassandra, Mr. Bright, who, during the manufactured reaction of 1879,
unconsciously justified Disraeli’s predictions of seven years before.
After cataloguing his “annexations” like an auctioneer, he thus
proceeded to stir passion and impute motives--

“... All this adds to your burdens. Just listen to this: they add to
the burdens, not of the empire, but of the 33,000,000 of people who
inhabit Great Britain and Ireland. We take the burden and pay the
charge. This policy may lend a seeming glory to the Crown, and it may
give scope for patronage and promotion, and pay a pension to a limited
and favoured class. But to you, the people, it brings expenditure of
blood and treasure, increased debts and taxes, and adds risk of war in
every part of the globe.”

Is sense more conspicuous than charity in this onslaught? Has it not
been proved penny wise, pound foolish? Could a better instance be
adduced of a contrast between England as an emporium and Great Britain
as a united empire?[120] In many respects I honour Mr. Bright. He
at least had the courage of his honest convictions. He was against
war altogether; but in being so he opposed the instincts of rising
nationalities and tried to lull Great Britain into a fool’s paradise
of international exhibitions. It is now asserted that Russia could
not advance through Persia to India without a bristling series of
bayonets. This is not to be wished, but is it to be feared? Of “Peace
at any price,” Disraeli said with truth--and truth in the interests
of general peace--that it was a “dangerous doctrine, which had done
more mischief and caused more wars than the most ruthless conquerors.”
What happened? Mr. Bright at a bound converted Mr. Gladstone. It was
a mutual necessity. Neither of them without the other could have
swayed the commercial classes and “the lower middles.” Mr. Gladstone
was Don Quixote; Mr. Bright, Sancho Panza. Mr. Gladstone appealed to
the nation; Mr. Bright, with sincere power and definite ideals, to a
class. Mr. Gladstone appealed to the customs and institutions which
he heroically assailed; Mr. Bright attacked more directly and without
even the show of sympathy. Here Mr. Gladstone was Girondin; Mr.
Bright, Jacobin. Mr. Gladstone’s conviction of being “the legate of
the skies,” his electric temperament, devout genius, practical fervour
and “connection,” both idealised and popularised the doggedness and
the narrowness of Mr. Bright’s democratic doctrine. But Mr. Bright
was consistent. He was against any fight for united nationality. He
would never have embarked on war at all, and so could never have
withdrawn from struggle at the wrong moment. He never deluded himself
or others. It might be said that the author of the essay on “Church
and State” led the “Nonconformist conscience” to the altar, and that
the eloquent denouncer both of Church and State gave the bride away.
But the chivalrous knight-errant could not quite forego the Dulcinea
of his youth. It will be remembered that Mr. Gladstone, still by
inadvertence, used occasionally to stumble upon the word “empire” in
his speeches. Peel himself had called it “wonderful”! Lord John Russell
had employed it in 1855. It was a word born with Queen Elizabeth,
and familiar throughout the reign of Queen Anne. Chatham’s clarion
rang with it. The poet Cowper, whom none can accuse of egotism or of
bombast, repeats it with a glow of pride. But Mr. Bright, unless I
mistake, never condescended to breathe the name or condone the thing.
Mr. Gladstone regained power, and ran riot--the riot of the best
intentions in the worst sense of the phrase. The policy of “scuttle”
ensued--from what motives I stop not here to inquire. We abandoned
Kandahar, “annexed” through a need caused by past vacillations and
repulses of the Ameer; but, together with conditions for rendering
him independent of Russia’s natural intrigues. We abandoned it just
when the disasters of the Soudan again invited Russian encroachment.
We abandoned the Transvaal at the first blush of defeat. “Peace,
Retrenchment, and Reform” culminated in war, extravagance, and
confusion. The trumpeters of impolitic economy, proposing expenditure
and yet dangling the repeal of some tax to gratify “the interests or
prejudices of the party of retrenchment,” were, in Disraeli’s phrase
of 1861, “penurious prodigals.” Upright “prigs and pedants,” intruding
private opinions on public affairs, honest hypocrites who deceived
themselves and hoped to persuade the sceptics of the world, preachers
of theories to the winds, all played with crucial issues and trifled
solemnly with a cynical Continent. The school-master was abroad. We
took Egypt against our will, and promised not to retain it. We cried,
“Hands off, Austria!” and apologised for doing so. We prepared for
necessitating the most exceptional war of modern times. It was the
policy of panic and disunion, the policy of alternate weakness and
bluster, the policy that by turns coaxed and coerced Ireland, allured
and abandoned Gordon; it was a policy of private magnanimity at the
public expense, and not the policy of wise consolidation and calculated
outlets. It was not the policy of diplomacies at once instructed, firm,
and gentle. Nor was it one of defined spheres, regulated boundaries,
and fortified “gates of empire.” Yet it led us to “expenditure of
blood and treasure.” And if we have since--and not, as I believe, in
the spirit or with the precautions of Disraeli--been forced to retrace
our steps, it is due to these retail maxims of Mr. Bright, and not to
the wholesale creed of Lord Beaconsfield.

But the temper of his “Imperialism,” whatever may have been momentarily
suspected or sneered at, was never aggressive, and always deliberate.
It was for defence, not defiance; it was no grandiose illusion, no
gaudy show of spurious glory; no froth or fuss of sound and fury
signifying nothing.

     “‘_Twas not the hasty project of a day,
      But the well-ripened fruit of wise delay._”

It ran utterly counter, as he declared in 1862, to “that turbulent
diplomacy which distracts the mind of a people from internal
improvement.” Just as internally his statesmanship guarded against the
predominance of any particular class, so externally the only ground
for British intervention was for him the undue predominance of a
particular power against English or the general interests. Throughout
he sought what Lord Castlereagh had also attempted, the solidarity
of Europe. No doubt, like all great men of action, he made mistakes
and committed errors. He owned as much himself. But I believe that
history will justify the height from which he surveyed the scene, his
reach and sweep of vision, the depth, too, of an insight piercing far
below the surface. In one respect at least he may be said to have
resembled Napoleon--“his vast and fantastic conception of policy.” I
do not deny that he wished to strike the imagination; I do not deny
that occasionally the direct response may have missed fire; but I
submit that on the whole his policy was right, that its final effects
rarely disappointed intention, and that it has left pregnant and
abiding results. His aim was what the late Lord Salisbury afterwards
declared as his own, to “resume the thread of our ancient empire;”
and, as Macaulay has remarked of George Savile, Marquis of Halifax,
who was also twitted with inconsistency: “... Through a long public
life, and through frequent and violent changes of public feeling, he
almost invariably took that view of the great questions of his time
which history has finally adopted.” At home on leading issues he had
strengthened the power of Government by representing worthy opinion,
and by renewing the affection of the people for their institutions in
the struggle to maintain united English nationality against disruptive
forces. It was reserved for him to reawaken the slumbering sense of
what had once been an arousing reality--the _duties_ of an august
empire over many associated races and religions, the due greatness of
Great Britain, the high destinies and ennobling burdens of an ancient
nation appointed to rule the seas.

The keynote was sounded in that very speech of 1862, when he repeated
what he had often before objected to the robust Lord Palmerston’s
frequently flustering methods, but added that “... we should be
vigilant to guard and prompt to vindicate the honour of the country.”
On an earlier occasion, he laid stress on the diplomatic duty of
“... if necessary, saying rough things kindly, and not kind things
roughly;” while from first to last, however, as head of opposition,
he disapproved a foreign policy which landed us in superfluous
engagements, he always supported the Government when the crisis became
really national. In 1864, criticising the Palmerstonian management
of the Danish imbroglio, he remarked: “... I am not for war. I can
contemplate with difficulty the combination of circumstances which can
justify war in the present age _unless the honour of the country is
likely to suffer_.”

Two more of his ruling principles were, first, that the ripe moment is
half the battle in national attitude towards distant complications; and
second, the importance, under our system, of distinguishing between
what a minister, backed by a large parliamentary majority, decides
in home and in foreign affairs. His prescient criticisms on both the
source and the course of the Crimean War illustrate the one; his
deliverance, in a speech of May, 1855--a speech prescribing a most
statesmanlike policy towards both Russia and Turkey, part only of
which[121] he was able more than twenty years later to execute, the
other: “... A minister may, by the aid of a parliamentary majority,
support unjust laws, and ... a political system which a quarter of a
century afterwards may, by the aid of another parliamentary majority,
be condemned. The passions, the prejudices, and the party spirit that
flourish in a free country may support and uphold him.... But when you
come to foreign politics things are very different. Every step that you
take is an irretrievable one.... You cannot rescind your policy....
If you make a mistake in foreign affairs; if you enter into unwise
treaties; ... if the scope and tendency of your foreign system are
founded on a want of information or false information, ... there is no
majority in the House of Commons which can long uphold a Government
under such circumstances. It will not make a Government strong, but it
will make this House weak....”

Throughout, his policy was that of confederation, not annexation;
of “scientific frontiers” safeguarding ascertained “spheres of
influence;” of binding, not loosing; of a strong front but a soft
mien; of persuasion, if possible, rather than compulsion--as he always
recommended in framing measures to protect labour and improve society;
of a straight line steadfastly pursued, instead of wobble, worry, and
flurry; first beating the air, and then--a retreat; at once headstrong
and weak-kneed. Although his “Imperialism” was by no means that which
has occasionally since usurped the name, assuredly, in upholding the
burden of Great Britain’s destiny, he would never have recoiled from
“the too vast orb of her fate.” Disraeli’s imperialism was not the
bastard and braggart sort that he once styled “rowdy rhetoric;” nor the
official sort to which he sarcastically alluded when Lord Palmerston,
in 1855, took credit for accepting Lord John Russell’s resignation,
and was “ready to stand or fall by him:” “The noble Lord is neither
standing nor falling, but, on the contrary, he has remained sitting on
the Treasury bench.” Associated with it, lay a deep sense of obligation
in the choice of high character, ability, and spirit to carry it out;
the sense too that a momentary mistake should never sacrifice excellent
proconsuls to the “hare-brained chatter of irresponsible frivolity;”
the resolve also never to shirk responsibility by making scapegoats.
And, beyond all, a feeling that in dealing even with semi-barbarous
nations, it was neither magnanimous, wise, nor dignified to crush them
utterly, and that their feelings, prejudices, and customs ought to be
respected.

Perhaps no better example could be given than his attitude regarding
the events of 1879 in South Africa. The Zulus had threatened and
harassed an impoverished and resourceless Transvaal. The Transvaal had
requested and obtained “annexation” from Great Britain. But the Zulu
chief, irritated by the suppression of the “suzerainty” arrogated by
him over the Boer lands, began to beset the Natal borders. The Governor
of Natal was for appeasing them. Sir Bartle Frere, however, that
commanding High Commissioner of South Africa, took an opposite view,
and favoured a course unmistakable for weakness. In his conferences
with Cetchwayo he made requisitions, on his own initiative, exceeding
his instructions from home. The result was war, with the disaster of
Isandhlwana, the rally of Rorke’s Drift, and eventual success. During
March the matter was brought before the House of Lords in a form
arranged to censure the Government policy, but so worded as to restrict
the debate to the advisability of Sir Bartle Frere’s recall on the
ground of his unauthorised ultimatum.

Disraeli’s speech is worthy of close attention, if only because it
forecasts the ultimate federation of South Africa. Disraeli defended
Sir Bartle on the score that to succeed in impugning error, if error
it was, of a distinguished public servant chosen by the Crown, was to
impugn its prerogative. “_Great services are not cancelled by one act
or one single error, however it may be regretted at the moment._ If he
had been recalled ... in deference to the panic, the thoughtless panic
of the hour, in deference to those who have no responsibility in the
matter, and who have not weighed well and deeply investigated all the
circumstances and all the arguments ... which ... must be appealed to
to influence our opinions in such questions--no doubt a certain degree
of odium might have been diverted from the heads of her Majesty’s
ministers, and the world would have been delighted, as it always is,
to find a victim.... We had only one course to pursue, ... to take
care that at this most critical period ... affairs ... in South Africa
should be directed by one, not only qualified to direct them, but who
was superior to any other individual whom we could have selected for
the purpose.”

It would be a bad precedent, he resumed, for the safety of the empire
if an exceptional indiscretion were to efface a long record of signal
ability; and he drew to the recollection of the House[122] the case of
Sir James Hudson at Turin, whose conduct had been similarly attacked,
and whom he, as the leader of the Opposition, had refused to make
a party question, and had himself then defended on the same public
considerations. But adverting to policy, he used these weighty words--

“... Sir Bartle Frere was selected by the noble Lord (Carnarvon) ...
chiefly to secure one great end--namely, _to carry out that policy of_
CONFEDERATION _in South Africa_ which the noble Lord had carried out
on a previous occasion with regard to the North American colonies.

“If there is any policy which, in my mind, is opposed to the policy of
_annexation_, it is that of _confederation_. By pursuing the policy
of confederation, _we bind states together, we consolidate their
resources, and we enable them to establish a strong frontier; that
is the best security against annexation. I myself regard a policy of
annexation with great distrust. I believe that the reasons of state
which induced us to annex the Transvaal were not, on the whole,
perfectly sound._ But what were these circumstances?... The Transvaal
was a territory which was no longer defended by its occupiers.... _The
annexation of that province was ... a geographical necessity._

“But the ‘annexation’ of the Transvaal was one of the reasons why those
who were connected with that province might have calculated upon the
permanent existence of Zululand as an independent state. I know it is
said that, when we are at war, as we unfortunately now are, with the
Zulus, or any other savage nation, even though we inflicted upon them
some great disaster, and might effect an arrangement with them of a
peaceable character, before long the same power would again attack
us, unless we annexed the territory. _I have never considered that a
legitimate argument in favour of annexation of a barbarous country...._
Similar results might occur in Europe if we went to war with one of
our neighbours.... _But is that an argument why we should not hold our
hand until we have completely crushed our adversary, and is that any
reason why we should pursue a policy of extermination with regard to
a barbarous nation with whom we happen to be at war? That is a policy
which I hope will never be sanctioned by this House._

“It is, of course, possible that we may again be involved in war
with the Zulus; but it is an equal chance that in the development of
circumstances in that part of the world, the Zulu people may have
to invoke the aid and the alliance of England against some other
people, and that the policy dictated by feelings and influence which
have regulated our conduct with regard to European states, may be
successfully pursued with regard to less civilised nations in a
different part of the world. _This is the policy of her Majesty’s
Government, and therefore they cannot be in favour of a policy of
annexation, because it is directly opposed to it...._”

The same considerations, those of settled and settling
limits--considerations, let me repeat, directly opposed to a vague
and wavering policy fraught with encroachments, alarm, and haphazard
embroilment--were to actuate his policy towards Afghanistan during
1879, into the vexed details of which I shall not now enter, though
they might be reviewed with instruction; the policy, too, that
recognised that English vacillation would at once be magnified into
weakness throughout the bazaars of the Orient.[123]

The “insane annexation” of that fortress-citadel, Kandahar, it has
often been objected, was the most vulnerable of Disraeli’s schemes.
There are many entitled to respect who still hold that it was rightly
and profitably rescinded. Moreover, the tragic sequel of the heroic
Cavagnari’s death prejudiced the public. But the chain of events which
required, the conciliatory conditions which accompanied it, and the
true causes, or pretexts, for its annulment with virulence, should
be carefully remembered. A former Viceroy’s mistake in rebuffing the
friendly overtures of the Afghans, the Muscovite move forward in
Central Asia, while war was in the air, the consequent intrigues at
Cabul, perturbed by dynastic broils--these were some of the warrants
for its necessity. Fresh Russian manœuvres and advances, owing to a
fatally feeble policy in the Soudan, were parts of the lever for its
relinquishment. The highest military authorities sanctioned it at the
time, though other high military authorities disapproved a few years
later. But when it is borne in mind that Disraeli’s previous occupation
of Quetta, the key both to Kandahar and the Pishin valley, is now a
large cantonment, that a railway is ready to be laid to within no
great distance of Kandahar itself on any fresh emergency, it may well
be pondered whether Disraeli was mistaken, and whether time has not
confounded the triflers who caricatured him as a music-hall singer,
with the refrain--

      “I wear a jewel in my cap--
              Kandahar, Kandahar.”

It was no mere question of a “buffer” state. It formed a weighty
part of his great and pacific project for safeguarding the “gates”
of our Indian Empire. Of the three main approaches then open to
Russia--entitled in her own interests to use them, as he always
admitted--the south-eastern limits of Afghanistan command the long
high-road which leads to the distant north-western borders and the
“gate” of Herat. Moreover, they dominate one of the important trade
routes to Northern India. The remote side of the Indus can thus be used
as a protection against the remoter side of the Oxus. At the same time,
Disraeli subsidised the Afghans, and when their Ameer, under Russian
influence, insulted our envoy, treated them at first “like spoiled
children.” His aim was--as always in his whole policy--a compact
independence. “_Both in the East and West_,” he observed, “_our object
is to have prosperous, happy, and contented neighbours_. But these
are things which cannot be done in a day. You cannot settle them as
you would pay a morning visit.” He was building the foundations for a
lasting peace. At any rate, the rectified frontier, which as he pointed
out could be held by five thousand men, while a “haphazard” frontier
demanded twenty times that number, is unimpugned. Nor should those who
speak of a smoothed Ameer and an unruffled Cabul, after Kandahar was
evacuated, forget that, since Merv has become Russian, the old dynastic
intrigues and tribe feuds may, one day, readily recur at Cabul, fresh
opportunities encourage Russia, and a reoccupation of this cancelled
coign of vantage become imperative. “The science of politics,” as
Macaulay well says, “is an experimental science.” Disraeli excelled
most statesmen in his intuitive grasp of Indian affairs. Peel himself,
shortly before his death, prophesied that Disraeli, “when his hour
struck,” would be “Governor-General of India.”

The same principles, as will appear, prompted the masterly and
masterful Treaty of Berlin. The same, caused him to exclaim of Russia,
whose designs he had thwarted in India and foiled at Constantinople,
in memorable language, that in Asia there was “room enough” for her
and for us; yet that, though in the face of possible conflict, she was
entitled to equip her expedition of courtesy to “cool the hoofs of its
horses in the waters of the Oxus,” she must be induced to withdraw it
by our own counter-preventions. But what I wish here particularly to
illustrate is, the psychological point of respect for and reckoning
with the habits, wants, and traditions of other or alien civilisations.
It rested on an idea familiar to his youth, and which he thus expressed
in a soliloquy of _Alroy_: “Universal empire must not be founded on
sectarian principles and exclusive rights.... Something must be done to
bind the conquered to our conquering fortunes.”

It was signally evinced in his treatment--his exceptional treatment
when Opposition leader--of the Indian Mutiny. At that time Disraeli
alone seemed to grasp the significance of the outbreak in its initial
stage, which was viewed as a mere military rebellion, and regarded as
lightly, and with as little reason, as the beginnings of the Boer War.

“It is remarkable,” he urged, before the crisis became recognised,
“how insignificant incidents at the first blush have appeared which
have proved to be pregnant with momentous consequences. A street riot
in Boston and at Paris, turned out to be the two great revolutions
of modern times. Who would have supposed when we first heard of
the rude visit of a Russian sailor from a port in the Black Sea
to Constantinople, that we were on the eve of a critical war and
the solution of the most difficult of modern problems?” It was, he
contended, a national revolt, not a military mutiny. In our policy of
the immediate past we had forcibly destroyed native authority for the
sole object of increasing revenue. “In spite of the law of adoption,
which was the very corner-stone of Hindoo society, when a native
prince died without natural heirs, though a son had been adopted as
a successor, the Government of India annexed his dominions. Sattara,
Berar, Jeitpore, Sumbulpore, Jhansi, were monuments of ‘nefarious’
acquisition. And Oude, of ‘a wholesale system of spoliation,’ for it
had been annexed even without the pretext of a lawful failure of heirs.”

We had also disturbed the settlement of property by “a new system
of government.” He analysed the popular law of adoption as the
basis of Hindoo property, and as contrasted with its misuse in the
hands of princes as a source of succession. He gave many instances,
distinguishing each. “What man was safe, what feudatory, what
freeholder who had not a child of his own loins, was safe throughout
India?... The Government determined to exact all it could, not only
from princes, but from the people.” The exemptions from the land
tax--“the _whole_ taxation of the State”--had, under pretences, been
continually taken away. The resumption of estates in Bengal alone had
yielded the Government half a million of revenue; in Bombay alone
£370,000 a year. Moreover, hereditary pensions had been commuted into
personal annuities. These disturbances had naturally fomented these
discontents.

We had, moreover, tampered with the Hindoo religion. “... I think a
very great error exists as to the assumed prejudice of Hindoos with
regard to what is called missionary enterprise. The fact is that ...
the Indian population generally, with the exception of the Mussulmans,
are educated in a manner which peculiarly disposes them to theological
inquiries.... They are a most ancient race; they have a mass of
tradition on these subjects; a complete Indian education is to a
great degree religious; their laws, their tenure of land depend upon
religion; and there is no race in the world better armed at all points
for theological discussion.... Add to this, that they can always fall
back upon an educated priesthood prepared to supply them with arguments
and illustrations.... _But what the Hindoo does regard with suspicion
is the union of missionary enterprise with the political power of the
Government._ With that power he associates only one idea, violence....
It appears to me that the legislative council of India has, under the
new principle, been constantly nibbling at the religious system of the
natives.” It had tried to adapt Western systems to Oriental habits. In
its theoretical system of national education the “sacred Scriptures had
suddenly appeared in the schools; and you cannot persuade the Hindoos
that those holy books have appeared there without the concurrence and
the secret sanction of the Government.” Systematic female education,
again, had been commanded--a most unwise step, considering “the
peculiar ideas entertained by Hindoos with regard to women.” But two
acts had even more contributed to the ferment of native feeling. The
first, that no man who changed his religion should be deprived of his
inheritance. That struck at the main purpose of property in India,
which consists in being a sacred trust for religious objects. The
second, that a Hindoo widow might marry again, “which is looked upon by
all as an outrage on their faith,” uncalled for, and fraught with alarm.

But the main blunder had been the annexation of Oude without excuse,
and executed in such a manner that for the first time the Mahometan
princes felt that they had an identity of interest with the Indian
rajahs. “... You see how the plot thickens.... Men of different races
and different religions ... traditionary feuds and long and enduring
prejudices with all the elements to produce segregation, become
united--Hindoos, Mahrattas, Mahommedans--secretly feeling a common
interest and a common cause.” Princes and proprietors are against you.
“Estates as well as musnuds are in danger. You have an active society
spread all over India, alarming the ryot, the peasant, respecting his
religious faith. Never mind on this head what were your intentions;
_the question is, what were their thoughts--what their inferences_?”
And a further aggravation had resulted. The Oude sepoy, who was a
yeoman, had recruited the Bengal army. “Robbed of his country and
deprived of his privileges, he schemed and plotted, and sent mysterious
symbols from village to village, which prepared the native mind,”
agitated by princes deposed, religion insulted, soldiery discontented,
for an occasion and pretext “to overthrow the British yoke.” “_The
Mutiny was no more a sudden impulse, than the income tax was a sudden
impulse. It was the result of careful combinations, vigilant and
well-organised, on the watch for opportunity...._ I will not go into
the question of the new cartridges.... I do not suppose any one ...
will believe that because the cartridges were believed to be, or were
pretended to be believed to be, greased with pig’s or cow’s fat, that
was the cause of this insurrection. _The decline and fall of empires
are not affairs of greased cartridges. Such results are occasioned by
adequate causes and by an accumulation of adequate causes._”

And now what remedies would meet such emergencies? Force, it was
agreed, must now be employed. The force proposed was inadequate. “There
should be an advance from Calcutta through Bengal, and an expedition up
the Indus. The Militia should be called out. An Empire, not a Cabinet,
was in danger.”

“... But to my mind that is not all that we ought to look to. Even
if we do vindicate our authority with complete success--revenge
the insults that we have received, rebuild the power that has been
destroyed ... although we will assert with the highest hand our
authority, although we will not rest until our unquestioned supremacy
and predominance are acknowledged, ... it is not merely as avengers
that we appear. _I think that the great body of the population of that
country ought to know that there is for them a future of hope. I think
we ought to temper justice with mercy--justice the most severe with
mercy the most indulgent...._ Neither internal nor external peace can
in India,” he urged, “be secured by British troops alone. _There must
be no more annexation, no more conquest...._ It is totally impossible
that you can ever govern 150,000,000 of men in India by merely European
agency. You must meet that difficulty boldly and completely.... _You
ought at once ... to tell the people of India that the relation between
them and their real ruler and sovereign, Queen Victoria, shall be
drawn nearer._ You must act upon the opinion of India on that subject
immediately; _and you can only act upon the opinion of Eastern nations
through their imagination_. You ought to have a Royal Commission sent
by the Queen from this country to India immediately, to inquire into
the grievances of the various classes of that population. You ought to
issue a royal proclamation to the people of India, declaring that the
Queen of England is not a sovereign who will countenance the violation
of treaties ... that she ... will respect their laws, their usages,
their customs, and, above all, their religion. _Do this, and do this
not in a corner, but in a mode and manner which will attract universal
attention, and excite the general hope of Hindostan in the Queen’s name
and with the Queen’s authority._ If that be done, simultaneously with
the arrival of your forces, you may depend upon it that your military
advance will be facilitated, and, I believe, your ultimate success
insured.”

I have abstracted this significant speech, which took three hours to
deliver, because it shows how his mind grasped such situations, and
how his imagination played all around them. In the same way, in 1856,
he deprecated the violent interference of Sir J. Bowring (a former
secretary of the Peace Society) with the Chinese, and insisted that
they were “the nation of etiquette,” and were not to be coerced by “a
brutal freedom of manners.” “If you are not,” he then prophetically
protested, “cautious and careful of your conduct now in dealing with
China, you will find that you are likely not to extend commerce, _but
to excite the jealousy of powerful states, and to involve yourselves in
hostilities with nations not inferior to yourselves_....”

Such were the ideas that prompted the stroke of the Suez Canal shares,
and his dramatic summoning of the Indian troops to Malta when Russia
was before the citadel of the Levant, and India had to be impressed;
that prompted, too, his proclamation of the Queen as Empress of India;
and his choice of the late Lord Lytton as a poet suited for Indian
Viceroyalty; these ideas, that made him announce, shortly before he
died, that “London” was “the key of India.”

In this context I must dwell too for a moment on what I have already
hinted concerning the temper of his diplomacy. Already, in 1860, he
had recognised the full changes imposed by the spirit of the age.
“... In the old days,” he observed, “diplomacy was conducted in a
secret fashion, whilst now we had ‘a candid foreign policy.’ What in
former times ... would have been a soliloquy in Downing Street, now
becomes a speech in the House of Commons.” But that was no pretext, he
also always asserted, as I shall again have to notice, for roughness
and offence, for a high voice and a low hand; still less for playing
censor, lecturer, or hector at once. Above all, he abominated the
diplomacy which encourages by words and disappoints by deeds--the
diplomacy that in 1864 promised defence to Denmark and then denied her
even encouragement. Speaking then, Disraeli said: “... We will not
threaten, and then refuse to act; we will not lure on our allies with
expectations we do not mean to fulfil. And, sir, _if ever it be the
lot of myself or any public men with whom I have the honour to act, to
carry on important negotiations on behalf of this country ... I trust
that we at least shall not carry them on in such a manner that it will
be our duty to come to Parliament to announce to the country that we
have no allies, and then declare that England can never act alone_.”
In diplomacy, moreover, he laid great stress--as is witnessed by a
striking passage in _Endymion_--on the need for a minister’s personal
acquaintance with the chief actors on the foreign stage, and with the
temper of the people whose fortunes are in their hands.[124]

       *       *       *       *       *

All these governing issues underlay his great Berlin Treaty. Its first
principle was to uphold the _effective_ independence of Turkey. Several
absurdities have been alleged on this head. It was also bruited for
political ends that, as a Semite,[125] he fostered the Moslem, whom, as
a Briton, he should have suppressed.

This is not only untrue, but inaccurate. It is the sort of mistake
adopted by such as imagine Mahomet to have been a Turk. Disraeli had
early in life travelled far into the East, had been present at Yanina
during an insurrection, had known leading pachas (one of whom consulted
him), and observed inner intrigues. But while the Moslem soldier and
peasant always impressed him, he detested the system of the Sultan.
An early passage records this detestation. Pondering, in _Contarini
Fleming_, the failure of successive Governments to rid Asia of “the
revelations of the son of Abdallah,” he calls its whole object one “to
convert man into a fanatic slave.” His two earlier romances, _Alroy_
and _Iskander_, both glow with this theme--rebellion against Islam.
The picturesqueness, both in scenery and history, of all Mediterranean
countries,[126] fascinated him; so did the charm of the East, which, as
a stripling, he defined as “repose.” But it was the habitation of the
Turk, not the Turk, that exercised the spell. “Live a little longer in
these countries before you hazard an opinion as to their conduct,” says
one of his characters. “Do you indeed think that the rebel beys of
Albania were so simple?... The practice of politics in the East may be
described by one word, dissimulation....”

An adverse opinion also characterises his letters from the East, some
of which are embodied in his books. _Alroy_, dedicated to Jerusalem, as
_Iskander_[127] is to Athens, are neither of them favourable to Turkey.
And even the Turkish want of humour annoyed him. “I never offered an
opinion till I was sixty,” says the old Turk in the last romance,
“and then it was one which had been in our family for a century.” He
detested fanatics as he detested bores, but he loved purpose; and the
sole thing that recommended the Turk to him was that, though a fanatic
and a bore, he was both for a purpose. Moreover, up to 1840 the Greeks
were more favourable to the Jews than the Turks; and it can scarcely
be contended that his attitude to the Afghans--who are Semite by
race--was prejudiced by the fact. No; if we seek for a Semitic affinity
in Disraeli outside that to Israel, we must find it in that to the
Saracens of Spain.

But neither is the stricture of his principle valid. As is well known,
in upholding the independence of Turkey, he was following in the steps
of his predecessors and indorsing the known views of two skilled
diplomatists, Sir Robert Morier and Sir Henry Layard, whose political
tenets were opposite to Disraeli’s. He had long before made up his mind
on this subject, had defined Turkey as a “barrier” against aggression.
In a speech towards the close of the Crimean War--“the Coalition
War”--a speech in which he blamed the Government for their treatment
of Russia, and considered Russia’s “preponderance” towards Turkey, he
observed: “... I believe that there are elements, when Turkey shall
be more fairly treated--and never has any country been more unfairly
treated than Turkey, especially within the last two years--for securing
the independence of her empire, and (what is to us of vital interest)
preventing Constantinople from becoming an appanage to any great
military power.”

By a tripartite treaty we, conjointly with Russia, Austria, and
France, were allies bound to maintain the territorial integrity of
Turkey--that is, whatever dispositions might be made, she must retain a
compact and self-inclosed dominion. And why had this become a necessity
for England, which is an Eastern as well as a Western power? There
was a double cause--our Indian Empire and our Mediterranean trade; it
was in the interest of both that a comparatively weak power should
occupy the very key of the position--an historical capital whose very
name symbolises empire, and whose situation, facing both east and
west, dominates the Levant and commands the high-road of the Orient.
As between Greece and Russia, the first undoubtedly possesses the
claims of race and inheritance. The second is an interloper, and her
“Greekness” springs from ecclesiastical and political usurpation. The
Greek Macedonians are more hostile to Russia than to Turkey. Before now
the Greeks have expressed their gratitude that Disraeli saved them from
being sucked into a huge Bulgaria. It was in the interest of European
peace that Constantinople should not be in the hands of a power so
small, so restive, so motley, so fluid as Greece. It was in the
interest of India that the Moslem pope should be upheld. It was in the
interest, moreover, of the Christian subjects of the Porte themselves
that Turkey should be so tied and so pledged to the great military
and maritime powers in concert, that they could exact real guarantees
for their protection, should brutal misbehaviour re-arise, and that
the work of humanity should be left to none of these powers apart,
and exposed to the temptation of indulging separate ambitions and
disturbing the peace of the world. If united selfishness has deterred
them from doing their duty, that must not be laid to the treaty’s
charge. “Those,” he said, in 1876, “who suppose that England ever would
uphold, or at this moment particularly is upholding, Turkey from blind
superstition and from a want of sympathy with the highest aspirations
of humanity, are deceived. What our duty is at this critical moment is
to maintain the Empire of England;” and before the Congress, he again
solemnly pointed out that worse, more widespread, and far more lasting
agonies would be caused to myriads abroad if the misguided excitement
of several sections at home were to prevail, than even by any horrors
which must move both indignation and sympathy in every heart.

Into the detailed controversies of the “Bulgarian atrocities” agitation
I will not here enter. It is now generally confessed that Disraeli was
right not to be led away by the sensational exaggerations manufactured
for Russian purposes abroad, and retailed, sometimes, for political
purposes at home. Horrible savageries, of course, happened on both
sides in such a war, and those horrors, from the nature of their
theatre, were Oriental. But that they were bound up with racial feuds,
and were in full evidence on the other side, was vouched for to me--and
in great detail--some ten years after their occurrence, by Sir William
White, then Ambassador at Constantinople, and by the then consul,
himself a leading member of the committee for their investigation.
These authorities went much further in their declarations than ever
Disraeli did, with his extreme reticence in public. Indeed, they
told me that the whole source of the war had been engineered by the
acute irritations of Russian diplomacy, which, as Lord Derby long ago
expressed it, “has never proceeded by storm, but by sap and mine.”

The true facts should not be blinked. With regard to Turkey in Europe
they are both racial, political, and ecclesiastical. The race aspect
was powerful with Disraeli. He always believed it to be “the key of
history, and the surest clue to the characters of men in all ages.” In
England he discerned the blend of “Saxon industry and Norman manners.”
While it was race again that had made national institutions “the
ramparts of the multitude against large estates exercising political
power derived from a limited class.” Practically, it is still a
question of the Slav against both Greeks (whom they have murdered) and
Albanians, who themselves massacre the Serbs. Politically, it is a
question of Russian influence and both Austrian and Italian jealousy.
Ecclesiastically, it is a question of the freed principalities
against the Patriarch of Constantinople; who, since the very time
when Russia first newly pretended to the Byzantine inheritance of
the Greeks, became (oddly enough) a nominee of the Sultan. From the
outset Disraeli determined to undo that larger Bulgaria, stretching
to the Ægean, involving all the international conflicts just hinted,
and ranging from the Danube to Salonica, which Russia proposed by
the clandestine Treaty of San Stefano. As is familiar, he founded
a smaller Bulgaria, barriered by the Balkans, dividing it into two
portions--Bulgaria and Eastern Roumelia--in the last of which he
implanted autonomy. It has often been said that the sequel proved him
futile, for the two slices of the big worm have since been repieced.
But the events of 1885-86 which caused this reunion were the gift, not
of Russian ascendency, but of those very institutions which Disraeli
created. Again, it has been popularly put as if the treaty were not
his own policy and had not endured. I could most easily prove the
error of both these propositions. As regards the first, just as in the
Reform Bill of 1867, the co-operation of both parties was necessary
for the limited achievement of his views, so it fared with the need
for European concert in the Berlin Treaty. But his ideas had been
sketched out during the Crimean War, and the restoration of that very
concert, which still subsists, was a birth of the treaty. The Berlin
Treaty restored not only British prestige, but--as a foreign statesman
remarked--Britain’s moral influence in the councils of Europe. It
was so hailed in England, and this, as Mr. Roebuck acknowledged,
was its ground for enthusiastic national support. Russia withdrew
from Constantinople. Both the Dardanelles and the Turkish frontier
in Europe were assured. A Sultan, then beset with bankruptcy and
dynastic troubles, was given his chance of heading a party of reform
championed by Midhat. Turkey was rendered compact, and lopped of
mongrel provinces, while she obtained the port of Burgos on the Black
Sea as a check to Russia. As regards Turkey in Asia, Disraeli’s aim,
as I have already outlined, was Indian. Erzeroum, Bayazid, Alashkerd,
proved powerful buffers against Russian predominance; and Russia still
sways the mongrel Bessarabia then restored to her. It is now recognised
that Russia, to traverse Persia, would encounter a British bayonet at
every step. Disraeli’s great object, like Palmerston’s, was to prevent
Turkey from becoming a fief to Russia, and the Black Sea from remaining
a mere Russian lake, as the repudiation by Mr. Gladstone, in 1871,
of the clause in the Treaty of Paris, for which the Crimean War had
been resumed, subsequently empowered it to become. Turkey, Disraeli
had written in _The Press_ of May 21, 1853, was “a necessary evil in
the European system,” but one preferable to some others, and more
likely to prevent general anarchy and bloodshed. And he recalled Prince
Potemkin’s old inscription on the gates of Chusan: “This is the road
to Constantinople.” The standing danger was the interposal of Russian
ambition on the perpetual plea of a Christian protectorate--resented
by many of the Christian provinces themselves--in order to constitute
Turkey a Russian province, and to spread a dominion less fanatical,
perhaps, but even more merciless and repressive in Europe, however
civilising it has proved in portions of Central Asia. His scheme,
compassing autonomy here, independence there, compactness, the power
to govern and the accountability to improve, everywhere was one of
development. It held within it, as he said, the seeds of “Evolution.”

       *       *       *       *       *

How did Disraeli diagnose Russia’s legitimate aspirations? He certainly
neither ignored nor condemned them, but he distinguished between
aspirations legitimate and illegitimate. Speaking in 1871, after Russia
had violated and Mr. Gladstone had torn up the Black Sea Clause,
Disraeli criticised the course which the Ministry had pursued.

“... Russia has a policy, as every great power has a policy, and she
has as much right to have a policy as Germany or England. I believe
the policy of Russia, taking a general view of it, to have been a
legitimate policy, though it may have been inevitably a disturbing
policy. When you have a great country in the centre of Europe, with
an immense territory, with a numerous and yet, as compared with its
colossal area, a sparse population, producing human food to any extent,
in addition to certain most valuable raw materials, it is quite clear
that a people so situated, practically without any seaboard, would
never rest until it had found its way to the coast, and could have a
mode of communicating easily with other nations, and exchanging its
products with them. Well, for two hundred years Russia has pursued
that policy; it has been _a legitimate though disturbing policy_. It
has cost Sweden provinces, and it has cost Turkey provinces. But no
wise statesman could help feeling that it was a legitimate policy--a
policy which it was impossible to resist, and one which the general
verdict of the world recognised--_that Russia should find her way to
the sea-coast_. She has completely accomplished it. She has admirable
seaports; she can communicate with every part of the world, and she has
profited accordingly.

“_But at the end of the last century she advanced a new view. It was
not a national policy_; it was invented by the then ruler of Russia--a
woman, a stranger, and an usurper--_and that policy was that she must
have the capital of the Turkish Empire_. That was not a legitimate,
that was a disturbing policy. _It was a policy like the French desire
to have the Rhine--false in principle._ She had no moral claim to
Constantinople; _she did not represent the races to which it once
belonged_; she had no political necessity to go there, _because she
already had two capitals_. Therefore it was not a legitimate but a
disturbing policy. _As the illegitimate desire of France to have the
Rhine has led to the prostration of France, so the illegitimate desire
of Russia to have Constantinople led to the prostration of Russia...._”

The means used by Disraeli for preserving the peace of Europe and
protecting our Eastern Empire were, in the rough, on the lines I
have tried to shadow. First of all, refusing to allow the creation
of an unwieldy and anarchic province of discordant races which could
not become a coherent nation, he reduced the Bulgaria designed under
the San Stefano arrangement by two-thirds, created Eastern Roumelia,
with a framed constitution, south of the Balkans, and yielded the
rest to Turkey. By this measure not only was Bulgaria prevented from
being bulky and hybrid, but the Macedonian Greeks (preponderant over
Slavs and Serbs) were saved from absorption. Turkey was delimited in
Europe by the natural fastnesses of the Balkans--one that even in
his youth Disraeli marked as the real frontier. Turkey was pledged
to reform her administration, while the signatories also guaranteed
her from Russian aggression. Both Russia and Turkey, therefore--and,
indeed, all Europe--knew that England was in earnest about her Indian
Empire. Turkey’s position was ascertained, so was Russia’s. Russia
was propitiated by Bessarabia, Kars, Ardahan, and Batoum; Turkey,
gratified by the retention of the great portion of what was to have
been Bulgaria’s, by the retention of Bayazid, by the great region of
Erzeroum, and of the valley of Alashkerd.

Further, Cyprus fell to the lot of England as a post “of arms,” a
strategical, a coasting and a coaling port of high value for our
Indian Empire, commanding as it does the high-route which leads to
the Euphrates Valley, and useful besides for Egypt. He had noted this
island on his youthful trip in the East as most opportune for the
purpose.[128]

Disraeli’s whole purview, in these arrangements, apart from the
defence of Great Britain, was to ensure a feasible government under
the watch of the European concert. This intention is well expressed by
the late Master of Balliol, writing in 1877: “... I want to see the
higher civilisation of Europe combining against the lower and offering
something like a paternal government to ... the East. _But then there
is such a danger of taking away the government which they have and
substituting only chaos._ This might be avoided if the European Powers
would jointly take up their cause....”

I may be allowed to recall, in relation to some of these matters, a few
of Disraeli’s immediate after-utterances. They are too often neglected.

As regards the English guarantee of the Porte against Russian offence,
attained by the Convention of Constantinople which supplemented the
treaty, he observed--

“... Suppose now ... the settlement of Europe had not included the
Convention of Constantinople and the occupation of the isle of Cyprus,
... what might ... have occurred? In ten, fifteen, or twenty years,
the power and resources of Russia having revived, some quarrel would
again have occurred, Bulgarian or otherwise, and in all probability
the armies of Russia would have been assailing the Ottoman dominions,
both in Europe and Asia; and enveloping and inclosing the city of
Constantinople, and its all-powerful position. Well, what would be
the probable conduct under these circumstances of the Government ...
whatever party might be in power? _I fear there might be hesitation
for a time--a want of decision, a want of firmness_; but no one doubts
that ultimately England would have said, ‘This will never do; we
must prevent the conquest of Asia Minor; we must interfere in this
matter and arrest the course of Russia....’ Well, then, that being
the case, I say it is extremely important that this country _should
take a step beforehand_ which should indicate what the policy of
England would be.... The responsibilities of England are practically
diminished by the course we have taken.... One of the results of my
attending the Congress of Berlin has been to prove, what I always
suspected to be an absolute fact, that neither the Crimean, nor this
horrible devastating war which has just terminated, would have taken
place if England had spoken _with the necessary firmness_. Russia had
complaints to make against this country; that neither in the case of
the Crimean War, nor on this occasion--and I don’t shrink from my
share of the responsibility in this matter--_was the voice of England
so clear and decided as to exercise a due share in the guidance of
European opinion_.” Without such finality the treaty could only have
been patchwork. “That was not the idea of public duty entertained by my
noble friend and myself. We thought the time had come when we should
take steps which would produce some order out of the anarchy chaos that
had so long prevailed. We asked ourselves was it absolutely a necessity
that the fairest provinces of the world should be the most devastated
and the most ill-used, and for this reason, that there is no security
for life and property so long as that country is in perpetual fear of
invasion and aggression.... _I hold that we have laid the foundation of
a state of affairs which may open a new continent to the civilisation
of Europe_, and that the welfare of the world, and the wealth of the
world, may be increased by availing ourselves of that tranquillity and
order which the more intimate connection of that country with England
will now produce....” And, added the late Lord Salisbury, “We were
striving to pick up the thread--the broken thread--of England’s old
imperial position.”

Before this utterance Disraeli had stated that the Convention’s object
was not only to confirm “tranquillity and order,” but to safeguard
India. “We have a substantial interest in the East; it is a commanding
interest, and its behest must be obeyed.”--“In taking Cyprus,” he
continued, “the movement is not Mediterranean, it is Indian;” and,
speaking of Russia’s temptation to profit by a state of things which
tended to resolve the societies of Asia Minor and the countries beyond
into the anarchy of original elements, he used the familiar words: “...
_There is no reason for these constant wars, or fears of wars between
Russia and England._ Before the circumstances which led to the recent
disastrous war, when none of those events which we have seen agitating
the world had occurred, and when we were speaking in another place of
the conduct of Russia in Central Asia, _I vindicated that conduct,
which I thought was unjustly attacked, and I said then, what I repeat
now, there is room enough for Russia and England in Asia_.”

On the other hand, in another speech alluding to Austria’s trusteeship
of Bosnia, he said it permitted us to check, “... I should hope for
ever, that Pan-Slavist confederacy and conspiracy which has already
proved so disadvantageous to the happiness of the world.” Nobody
acquainted with Austria’s desire for Salonica, Italy’s dread of that
possibility, and the fear of one at any rate of these powers lest
Greece should absorb Albania, can fail to grasp the relevance of this
hope.

It should be borne in mind that at the time these deliverances were
made Abdul Hamid[129] was not what he seems since to have become.
He was then--and the late Sir William White was my informant--an
enthusiastic reformer, with the wise and accomplished Midhat for his
inspirer. Had he remained so Turkey would have achieved much for
Asia Minor. Even now, Abdul may perhaps be sometimes excused for
mistrusting the cant of reform on the part of unreforming powers.
Perhaps it is impossible long to be Sultan of Turkey without falling
into the faults bred by habitual suspicion. Perhaps the varying
conduct of Western Powers conduces to cynicism. But at this period
the Armenians themselves were hopeful. With the Russian aspiration I
sympathise. Russia is destined to expansion and greatness; she is a
cold power desiring to be warm, pushed by a military power eager to
be forward. But she is also that strange anomaly--a new empire with
a mediæval standard. With the freezing officialism of Russia, giant
in profession and pigmy in practice, I entertain no sympathy at all.
Nor are the Cossack barbarities a whit less infamous than those of
the Bashi-Bazouks. What is always to be dreaded is the periodical
recurrence of race-hatreds and barbarism on the confines of both
countries. Turkey comprises many more races than Russia; at such times,
therefore, when bad governors incense brutalised men, unspeakable
horrors eclipse imagination and baffle even sympathy. Bulgarian or
Servian Slavs massacre Macedonian Greeks, Albanians butcher Macedonian
Serbs, and Turks both massacre and torture Macedonian Slavs. The name
of the particular province inflamed at a specific time by revolutionary
committees is constantly used as if designating the natural uprising
of a united people or of a single race; but this is not the case.
The recent blood-orgy, however, connived at by more than one of the
powers, would seem to disgrace the Ottoman beyond any other single
group concerned. And yet the normal Turk--soldier or peasant--is not
naturally brutal. It is only when insulted fanaticism dements him that
he becomes so; and his fanaticism seldom fans the flames unprovoked
by foreign designs. Of course nothing could be more desirable than
a practical, a permanent understanding with Russia; nothing more
desirable than a complete reform of European Turkey, which the joint
powers could enforce if they would unite. Both are consummations
devoutly to be wished. But bearing in mind the panther tread of Russian
diplomacies, their recent developments in China and Japan, their
constant designs on India and in Persia, their stealthy hankering after
Constantinople, their earlier annexation even of American territory, as
Disraeli pointed out--is the former practical? By all means let Russia
expand, as she has a right to expand; but by all means let England
ascertain the due spheres of her expansion, and retain her own empire,
that gives justice and freedom to countless races once oppressed. Nor
let any cant of whatever nature blind her eyes to the hard issues.

Throughout his pronouncements on foreign affairs is to be discerned his
construction of “balance of power” and of “interference.” As regards
the first, his principles are well defined in a speech of 1864. “...
The proper meaning of ‘balance of power’ is _security for communities_
in general against a predominant and particular power.” It also follows
“that you have to take into your consideration states and influences
that are not to be counted among the European powers.” Every crisis
in Europe bears on America and the colonies. So early as 1848 he had
pointed out that, though insulted, “... yet our welfare as a great
colonial power was so intimately connected with European politics,
that in seasons of crisis we could only retire from interference at
the expense not only of our prestige but of our safety.” The “balance
of power” principle he derived from Bolingbroke; he also adopted from
Bolingbroke his principle of “interference.”

“... There are conditions,” he laid it down in 1860, “under which it
may be our imperative duty to interfere. _We may clearly interfere in
the affairs of foreign countries when the interests or the honour of
England are at stake, or when, in our opinion, the independence of
Europe is menaced._ But a great responsibility devolves upon that
minister who has to decide when those conditions have arisen; and he
who makes a mistake upon that subject, he who involves his country in
interference or in war under the idea that the interests or honour of
the country are concerned, when neither is substantially involved, he
who involves the country in interference or war because he believes the
independence of Europe is menaced, when, in fact, it is not in danger,
makes of course a great, a fatal mistake. _The general principle that
we ought not to interfere in the affairs of foreign nations, unless
there is a clear necessity_, and that, generally speaking, _it ought to
be held a political dogma that the people of other countries should_
SETTLE THEIR OWN AFFAIRS _without the introduction of foreign influence
or foreign power, is one which I trust the House ... will cordially
adhere to_....” To this let me add a passage from the great Denmark
speech of 1864. It is its corollary--

“... By the just influence of England in the councils of Europe, I
mean an influence contradistinguished from that which is obtained by
intrigue and secret understanding; I mean an influence _that results
from the conviction of foreign powers that our resources are great, and
that our policy is moderate and steadfast_.... I lay this down as a
great principle which cannot be controverted in the management of our
foreign affairs. _If England is resolved upon a particular policy, war
is not probable._”

One illustration is worth many arguments. At the Berlin Congress
affairs at a time began to march ill. The Russian plenipotentiary was
making mischief. Disraeli quietly pencilled some requisitions on the
part of England and forwarded them to him. “If you accept these,” he
said, “peace--if not, war.”

Bearing these two further principles of foreign policy in mind, let me
endeavour to sketch Disraeli’s attitude towards various other powers.
With America I deal separately in the next chapter.

Friendship with France amounted with him almost to a passion, and none
would have rejoiced more heartily at the amity which our King has
recently renewed. He himself knew the French well, and in the ’forties
had met with the most cordial welcome on two occasions from the King,
the Court, the lights of literature and science, the politicians and
the people. He thought that with French alliance other powers might
exclaim as Shakespeare’s Constance exclaimed--

      “France friends with England, what become of me!”

France was the nation of society, the nurse of arts and manners.
England and France supplied reciprocal wants. Their friendship is a
pledge for European peace. Had the Czar been made aware of it in time,
the blunder and misfortune of the Crimean War would not have taken
place. In _Coningsby_ he called Paris “the university of the world,”
and enlarged on commercial exchange between two first-class powers
in a vein at once light and serious. In 1845, France regarded Peel
as the guardian of Anglo-French cordiality, and feared the chance of
Palmerston’s return to office as fraught with a possible treatment
of “the French connection with levity or disregard.” Louis Philippe
relieved his anxieties by consulting Disraeli on this point.[130]

“A good understanding,” was Disraeli’s interpretation in 1864, “between
England and France is simply this--that so far as the influence of
these two great powers extends, the affairs of the world shall be
conducted by their co-operation instead of by their rivalry. _But
co-operation requires not merely identity of interest but reciprocal
good feeling. In public as well as in private affairs, a certain
degree of sentiment is necessary for the happy conduct of matters._”
In another speech ten years earlier he also observed that Anglo-French
relations were not dynastic, but depended on commercial interests.

Perhaps his most remarkable expression on this theme occurs in a
speech of 1853,[131] when Sir James Graham had gone about saying that
the Emperor was a despot who turned his people into slaves, and when
there was one of those periodical outbursts of Gallophobia to which
we are accustomed. Disraeli pointed out that peace with France had
then subsisted for forty years, that social relations had multiplied,
that an identity of interest in high policy existed. He exploded the
fallacy that national hostility was a true tradition. Even Agincourt
and Crécy stood for a struggle between two princes rather than between
two nations. “... No one can deny that both Queen Elizabeth and the
Lord Protector looked to that alliance as the basis of their foreign
connections. No one can deny that there was one subject on which even
the brilliant Bolingbroke and the sagacious Walpole were agreed--and
that was the great importance of cultivating an alliance, or good
understanding, with France. At a later date the most eminent of
the statesmen of this century, Mr. Pitt, formed his system on this
principle....” The traditional prejudice, therefore, was the reverse of
true. The natural tendency was to concord, for after the great European
revolutions at the close of the eighteenth and dawn of the nineteenth
centuries, a durable peace had emerged. Nor were the defences (which
Sir Robert Peel had really inaugurated) due to the rise of the Third
Napoleon; they were due to the changes in scientific warfare. It was
true that in France there was then a military government. “But there is
a great error also, if history is to guide us, in assuming that because
a country is governed by an army, that army must be extremely anxious
to conquer other countries.” The lust for conquest under militarism
is due to home-uneasiness, and from a feeling in the army that its
power is not felt. The real prejudice was that France had subverted
her constitution. This prejudice had foundation, but it was the very
cause of those acts which indiscreet journalism was now criticising
so angrily. “Some years ago,” he resumed (and the glimpse of Louis
Philippe is interesting), “I had occasion frequently to visit France.
I found that country then under the mild sway of a constitutional
monarch--of a prince who, from temper as well as policy, was humane
and beneficent. I know that at that time the Press was free. I know
that at that time the Parliament of France was ... distinguished by its
eloquence, and by a dialectic power that probably even our own House
of Commons has never surpassed. I know that under these circumstances
France arrived at a pitch of material prosperity which it had never
before reached. I know also that after a reign of unbroken prosperity
of long duration, when he was aged, when he was in sorrow, and when he
was suffering under overwhelming indisposition, this same prince was
rudely expelled from his capital,[132] and was denounced as a poltroon
by all the journals of England, because he did not command his troops
to fire upon the people. Well, other powers and other princes have
since occupied his seat, who have asserted their authority in a very
different way, and are denounced in the same organs as tyrants because
they did order their troops to fire upon the people. I think every man
has a right to have his feelings upon these subjects; but what is the
moral I presume to draw upon these circumstances? It is this, that
it is extremely difficult to form an opinion upon French politics;
_and that so long as the French people are exact in their commercial
transactions and friendly in their political relations, it is just
as well that we should not interfere with their management of their
domestic concerns_.”

The same ideas animated him in 1854, when he pointed out that ten
years earlier the Czar had, by a secret manœuvre, sought to provoke
an estrangement which had not endured, but which the Czar was led
to believe enduring when the Crimean War broke out. The same guided
his hearty approval of Mr. Cobden’s aims in relation to France. What
he objected to in the later Italian Treaty was that it embodied
“reciprocity” too late--at a time when for England reciprocity could
secure no more. In 1858--the Walewski affair--Disraeli termed our
alliance with France “the key and corner-stone of modern civilisation.”
After the Treaty of Villafranca, Disraeli advised England not “to go
to congresses and conferences in fine dresses and ribands, to enjoy
the petty vanity of settling the fate of petty princes,” but to have
recourse to “your ally the Emperor of the French”--a monarch who, as
Disraeli said some years afterwards, “... has been created and can only
be maintained by the sympathies of his people--a proud, imperious,
and apt to be discontented people.” In 1860, when many were jubilant
over Italy’s united nationality, Disraeli, demonstrating its present
incompleteness, asserted that its accomplishment must come not through
the “moral influence of England,” but “by the will and the sword of
France”--though this did not blind him to contingent perils.

“It is the will of France that can alone restore Rome to the Italians.
It is the sword of France, if any sword can do it, that alone can
free Venetia from the Austrians.” But in a long and splendid speech
he urged, almost prophetically, that by forcing the French Emperor to
a policy which he was unwilling to pursue, we should eventually give
him a dangerous preponderance: “... It will be in his power ... to
make those greater changes and _aim at those greater results which
I will only intimate and not attempt to describe_.” In 1864, on the
Danish crisis, advocating firmness of action following on firmness
of statement, he once more repeated: “... If there is, under these
circumstances, a cordial alliance between England and France, war
is most difficult; but if there is a thorough understanding between
England, France, and Russia, war is impossible.” Though here, again,
this consideration would not deter him from the single object of
England’s welfare.

Finally, he consulted French sentiment in the delicate arrangement
at Berlin. “... There is no step of this kind that I would take
without considering the effect it might have upon the feelings of
France--a nation to whom we are bound by almost every tie that can
unite a people.... We avoided Egypt, knowing how susceptible France is
with regard to Egypt; we avoided Syria; ... and we avoided availing
ourselves of any part of the _terra firma_, because we would not hurt
the feelings or excite the suspicions of France.... But the interests
of France ... are, as she acknowledges, sentimental and traditionary
interests; and although I respect them, ... we must remember that
our connection with the East is not merely an affair of sentiment
and tradition, but that we have urgent and substantial and enormous
interests which we must guard and keep.”

I pass now to Germany. Prussia, in his early days, he had described as
“the Persia” of Europe; the Austrians as “the Chinese.” Some thirty
years before Germany became united, and Bismarck had brandished
the mailed fist, Disraeli regarded much in the air as “dreamy and
dangerous nonsense;” he considered theory and “inner consciousness”
as distinctive of the German nature, and he failed to perceive the
rising wave of its instinct for united nationality. Here certainly
his foresight flagged. When Prussia dismembered Denmark, he pointed
out that by the arguments used she, too, might be deprived of Posen.
Here certainly his foresight failed. But when the great war broke out,
he rose to the occasion and realised its meaning to the full. “It is
no common war,” he said at the onset, “like that between Prussia and
Austria, or like the Italian war in which France was engaged some years
ago; nor is it like the Crimean War. This war represents the German
revolution, a greater _political_ event than the French Revolution
of last century. I don’t say a greater or as great a social event.
What its social consequences may be are in the future. Not a single
principle, accepted by all statesmen for guidance in the management of
our foreign affairs up to six months ago, any longer exists. There is
not a diplomatic tradition that has not been swept away. You have a
new world, new influences at work, new and unknown objects and dangers
with which to cope, at present involved in the obscurity incident to
the novelty of such affairs.... Lord Palmerston, eminently a practical
man, trimmed the ship of State and shaped its policy with a view to
preserve an equilibrium in Europe. But what has come to pass? The
balance of power has been entirely destroyed, and the country which
suffers, and feels the effects of this great change most, is England.”
He recommended an attitude of “armed neutrality,” such as Austria’s
occupation of the Danubian provinces, which certainly abridged the
Crimean War. Such a policy tends to prevent, if possible, to shorten
if it cannot prevent a conflict; and when that conflict is finished,
to temper the terms for the vanquished. Had it been feasible in the
then state of our armaments, it might have produced lasting results.
As time went on Disraeli grew to understand Germany better, though he
never ceased to regret the humiliation to France. In Bismarck, however,
he found a powerful friend, and one of his last utterances regarding
Germany was to praise her as a peacemaker.

At the Berlin Congress Lord Beaconsfield made his speeches in
English. This was of design. A story was told that an eminent English
diplomatist, in attendance on his chief, had adroitly suggested this
course out of apprehension that “Dizzy’s” French accent might not
impress foreign representatives. But however this may have been, I
am convinced it was not the real reason, which was to assert the
leadership of Great Britain.

Disraeli’s French was fluent, if insular. In Italian he was naturally
proficient. Italian literature was familiar to him, and next to Dante,
he was fondest of Alfieri, a fine passage from whom, it will be
remembered, he quotes in _Lothair_. He knew German well enough to read
it.

No sentiment surrounded his favour to Austria. It was her partition
that he feared. So early as 1848 he objected, from the sole standpoint
of England’s interest, to championing the Magyars and the Italians
against Austria, the Sicilians against Naples. We should, he then said,
“mind our own business.” And in 1856, when he combated the views of his
opponents who sighed for the dismemberment of Russia, he also pointed
out the dangers to European peace that must attend the dismemberment of
Austria. The complete dismemberment of that empire--partly a few years
later to be accomplished--would involve the independence of Hungary and
the emancipation of Italy.

With Italy herself he nourished, indeed, an innate sympathy, and
for her a sentimental attachment. In all his reveries Venice and
Rome figure no less frequently than do Athens and Jerusalem; and
afterwards none applauded Daniel Manin more than he. Italy is the
haunting refrain of _Venetia_, Venice of _Contarini Fleming_, Rome
romanticises _Lothair_. Perhaps a leaven of his old enthusiasm for
“a cluster of small states” and “federal unions” still mingled with
the practical outlook which also made him sacrifice many of his
personal emotions to the cold requirements of statesmanship. “Federal
unions,” he had sighed in _Contarini_, “would preserve us from the
consequences of local jealousy.”--“There would be more genius, and,
what is of more importance, much more felicity.”--“_Italy might then
revive._” However this may be--and I for one regret his forced attitude
towards the first flutter of Italian freedom--or whether his late
acquaintance with Metternich had coloured his ideas, there can be no
doubt of their constraining cause. His public views always confined
themselves to what he believed was for the benefit of Great Britain.
And in this instance--“... If we, or any other power,” he urged,
“should forcibly interfere in the affairs of Italy with the view of
changing the political settlement of that country, the result will
be, as in the case of an attempt to dismember Russia, one of those
protracted wars that might fatally exhaust this country, and which,
even supposing it to be successful, would leave Italy very possibly
not in the possession of Austria, but under the dominion of some other
power as little national.” It should be recollected that 1858-61 were
critical years for Anglo-French relations. After Palmerston’s Orsini
imbroglio we were more than once on the verge of war with France.
Luckily, England was never forced into interference. Luckily, Italy
regained her independence, through two commanding individualities. But
it was history that warned Disraeli. Italy had been the battle-field
of Austria and Spain, and a prolific source of war, disorder, and
havoc throughout the eighteenth century. “A war in Italy,” he said in
1859, “is not a war in a corner. An Italian war may by possibility
be an European war. The waters of the Adriatic cannot be disturbed
without agitating the waters of the Rhine. The port of Trieste is
not a mere Italian port. It is a port which belongs to the Italian
confederation, and an attack on Trieste is not an attack on Austria
alone, but also on Germany. If war springs up beyond the precincts of
Italy, _England has interests not merely from ... those enlightened
principles of civilisation which make her look with an adverse eye
on aught that would disturb the peace of the world, but England may
be interested from material considerations of the most urgent and
momentous character_.” It was from England’s vantage-ground alone that
he discussed these questions in public. He wished Italy to be free,
but he feared the results of ineffective feeling. Italy, he held, must
free herself, and her aid, if any, should be French, not English, for
France heads the Latin League. In 1859 he rested on a mutual accord and
disarmament between Great Britain and France. This would, he pleaded,
be “a conquest far more valuable than Lombardy, or those wild dreams
of a regeneration ever promised but never accomplished.” “National
independence,” he urged in another speech on the same subject, “is not
created by protocols, nor public liberty guaranteed by treaties. All
such arrangements have been tried before, and the consequence has been
a sickly and short-lived offspring. What is going on in Italy--never
mind whose may have been the original fault, what the present
errors--_can only be solved by the will, the energy, the sentiment, and
the thought of the population themselves_.”

One word before I close this chapter about Greece and Poland. Of his
own feeling for Hellas there can be no question. It pervades his
works. “All the great things have been done by the little peoples.”
He was offered, I have heard, the kingship of that country. But Greek
ambitions, he felt, outgrew her capacities. Her hereditary dream has
always been Constantinople. He bade her, in a famous passage, take
the advice that he would give to a youth of genius and enterprise:
“_Be patient_.” But he also insisted that she should be heard at the
Conference of Berlin.

With Poland’s free aspirations he always sympathised, and more than
once expressed the grounds of his sympathy in Parliament. The movement
in Poland was one, natural, spontaneous, and national. It was not
forced by agitators, nor fomented by despots, nor provoked elsewhere
from ulterior motives. It was the genuine expression of a combined
people, and not the plea of a single race overbearing its fellow
components, or the pretence of a single locality to manage itself, both
of which have so frequently proved the stalking-horse of “national
rights;” pleas that, if sound, would bring back the Heptarchy in
England, undo the union of Germany and of Italy, break up the faculty
for government, and resolve into petty elements every great nation
in Europe. Such an article of “liberal” faith is neither more nor
less than political atomism; and its humanitarian guise too often the
false philanthropy of “sublime sentiments.” In all his treatment of
“Britain’s interests abroad,” Disraeli realised that whereas in England
government can still be carried on by “traditionary influences,”
the remaining ancient communities of Europe were falling more and
more under the veiled sway of “military force.” These were the two
alternatives. A “reconstruction” of England “on the great Transatlantic
model” would only accentuate the discrepancy between the ineradicable
features of her body politic, and the social standard which she would
seek to imitate. The result would be that “after a due course of
paroxysms for the sake of maintaining order and securing the rights of
industry, the State quits the senate and takes refuge in the camp”--

“Let us not be deluded by forms of government. The word may be republic
in France, constitutional monarchy in Prussia, absolute monarchy in
Austria, but the King is the same. _Wherever there is a vast standing
army the government is the government of the sword._ Half a million
of armed men must either be, or be not, in a state of discipline. If
not... it is not government but anarchy; if they be in a state of
discipline, they must obey one man, and that man is the master.”[133]

I have tried to track a large subject deserving a longer space. At any
rate, I hope to have justified Disraeli’s own language in the touching
letter which breathed farewell to his constituents when failing health
compelled him to accept an earldom--

“Throughout my public life I have aimed at two chief results. Not
insensible to the principle of progress, I have endeavoured to
reconcile change with that respect for tradition which is one of the
main elements of our social strength; and in external affairs I have
endeavoured to develop and strengthen our empire, _believing that a
combination of achievement and responsibility elevates the character
and condition of a people_.”

It is not a little remarkable that this farewell re-echoes the
sentence quoted in my first chapter from his tract _What is he?_ as
well as that later Runnymede Letter which, forty years earlier, he
addressed to Sir Robert Peel.[134]

                              “... Spread it then,
      And let it circulate through every vein
      Of all your empire; that where Britain’s power
      Is felt, mankind may feel her mercy too.”



CHAPTER VII

AMERICA--IRELAND


I have associated these two heads of discussion because they have long
been coupled in home politics, at times disastrously, but now, it may
be hoped, under favouring auspices. On the lighter side of American
society and its first invasions of England he also touched. I shall
touch these in the next chapter, reserving this for the political
aspects of the question. My first chapter has already mentioned the
paragraph in his earliest pamphlet, dedicated to Canning.

Disraeli was always intensely interested in America, and watched her
development with vigilance. He predicted her imperial future. He
deprecated jealousy of her power, and, while England was incensed
at her conduct in 1871, he alone maintained that it was due to
the prejudices of a class and the objects of a party, not to the
national sentiment. He descried in America’s essential democracy,
which adheres even to her republican forms, one wholly peculiar to
herself--a democracy of the soil, of which the base and root is land,
underlying the gigantic commerce and colossal finance which are merely
the froth of her wealth; and in such a democracy he perceived an
element of stability lacking to every other known democratic country.
Before her crucial conflict was determined, he prophesied, too, among
the difficulties that must confront her, that of a vast number of
emancipated negroes. When the great struggle arose between the energy
of the North and the traditions of the South, Disraeli also, alone
among the leaders of his party, discerned both the probabilities of
the winning side and its aptitude for moderation and self-control.
For this sagacity he received Mr. Bright’s approbation in 1865. When
the civil war was in process, the gentry of England, naturally and
generously sympathetic with the Southerners, had suspected that Canada
might be threatened, and had wished something “to be done;” Disraeli
restrained and allayed them. Mr. Bright said: “With a thoughtfulness
and statesmanship which you do not all acknowledge, he did not say a
word from that bench likely to create a difficulty with the United
States. I think his chief and his followers might learn something from
his example.” I quote this meed from an opponent, because Mr. Bryce,
in his recent monograph, implies the contrary; but then, Mr. Bryce
sometimes trips, and has made the trifling mistake of naming “Lucian”
as Disraeli’s pet classic, whereas surely it was “Tacitus.”

Disraeli’s leading idea as to America was that, although she had long
achieved independence, her original spirit had remained colonial,
but that her civil war would transform the past colony into a coming
empire. Speaking in 1863, he said--

“I am bound to say that from the first--and subsequent events have
only confirmed my convictions--I have always looked upon the struggle
in America in the light of a great revolution.[135] Great revolutions,
whatever may be their alleged causes, are not likely to be commenced,
or to be concluded, with precipitation. _Before the civil war
commenced, the United States were colonies_, because we should not
forget that such communities do not cease to be colonies because they
are independent. _They were not only colonies, but colonising_; and
they existed under all the conditions of colonial life except that
of mere political dependence. _But even before the civil war_, I
think that all impartial observers must have been convinced that in
that community _there were smouldering elements which indicated the
possibility of a change, and perhaps of a violent change_. The immense
increase of population; the still greater increase of wealth; the
introduction of foreign races in large numbers as citizens, not brought
up under the laws and customs which were adapted to a more limited,
and practically a more homogeneous, race; the character of the
political constitution, consequent, perhaps, on these circumstances;
_the absence of any theatre for the ambitious and refined intellects
of the country, which deteriorated public spirit and lowered public
morality_; and, above all, _the increasing influence of the United
States upon the political fortunes of Europe_;--these were all
circumstances which indicated _the more than possibility that the mere
colonial character of these communities might suddenly be violently
subverted, and those imperial characteristics appear which seem to
be the destiny of man_. I cannot conceal from myself the conviction
that, whoever in this House may be young enough to live to witness
the ultimate consequences of this civil war, will see, whenever the
waters have subsided, a different America from that which was known
to our fathers, and even from that of which this generation has had
so much experience. _It will be an America of armies, of diplomacy,
of rival states and manœuvring cabinets, of frequent turbulence, and
probably of frequent wars._ With these views, I have myself, during the
last session, exerted whatever influence I possessed in endeavouring
to dissuade my friends from embarrassing her Majesty’s Government in
that position of politic and dignified reserve which they appeared to
me to have taken upon this question. It did not appear to me, looking
at these transactions across the Atlantic, _not as events of a mere
casual character, but being such as might probably influence, as the
great French Revolution influenced, and is still influencing, European
affairs_, that there was on our part, due to the _existing authorities_
in America, a large measure of deference in the difficulties which they
had to encounter. At the same time, it was natural to feel ... the
greatest respect for those Southern States, who, representing a vast
population of men, were struggling for some of the greatest objects of
existence--independence and power....”

Long before this--in 1856--he had said, when America’s attitude towards
Central American troubles was irritating England, that in his opinion
“... it would be wise if England would at last recognise that the
United States, like all the great countries of Europe, _had a policy,
and a right to have a policy_. It was foolish for England to regard
with jealousy _any legitimate extension of the territory of the United
States beyond the bounds originally fixed_.” Such a jealousy would
not arrest or retard the development of America; but it might involve
disasters. He instanced California and the gloomy forebodings at home
with regard to it, none of which had been realised; and he impressed
upon the House that “_It was the business of a statesman to recognise
the necessity of an increase of power in the States._” The same year
evoked another speech which forecasts the tenour of that in 1863, and
is a fresh witness of the continuity of his imaginative insight, and
his wakeful constancy of his purpose. After deprecating jealousy of
America’s political and commercial progress, he thus proceeded--

“... I cannot forget that the United States, though independent,
_are still in some sense colonies, and are influenced by colonial
tendencies_; and when they come in contact with large portions of
territory scarcely populated, or at the most sparsely occupied by an
indolent and unintelligent race of men, _it is impossible--and you
yourselves find it impossible--to resist the tendency to expansion;
and expansion in that sense is not injurious to England_, for it
contributes to the wealth of this country (let us say this in a
whisper, lest it cross the Atlantic) more than it diminishes the power
of the United States. In our foreign relations with the United States,
therefore, I am opposed to that litigious spirit of jealousy which
looks upon the expansion of that country and the advance of these young
communities with an eye of jealousy and distrust.”

What he realised and first proclaimed, was that America was ceasing
to be a mongrel blend or a colonial people, and was fast becoming
a national community, with a voice, a vigour, a tendency, and in
every department a twang, so to say, of its own; that, moreover,
this consolidation would tend towards empire, and that England must
prepare for and reckon with it, especially as a partial crudeness and
rudeness are to some extent inseparable from developments so sudden.
It had not always been thus. Even long after the Puritan settlement,
the primæval charm of an aboriginal race clung to its forests and
prairies. The strain, the science of race, fascinated Disraeli;
the unsubdued and the untameable ever appealed to him. Races could
only be replaced by nations; and the interval was always atomic and
confused; but it was also one of primitive dash and daring. As a youth,
Disraeli, in _Contarini_, had dreamed of such a life. In _Venetia_[136]
he had wondered whether the Atlantic would ever be so memorable as
the Mediterranean; whether pushfulness would ever attain refinement;
whether its provincialism might not be doomed to weakness. “... Its
civilisation will be more rapid, but will it be ... as permanent?...
What America is deficient in is creative intelligence. _It has no
nationality._ Its intelligence has been imported like its manufactured
goods. _Its inhabitants are a people, but are they a nation?_ I wish
that the empire of the Incas and the kingdom of Montezuma had not been
sacrificed. I wish that the republic of the Puritans had blended with
the tribes of the Wilderness.”

Two dangers for England, however, emanated from America; and perhaps
they were connected. The one was American Anglophobia, the other
Fenianism. The one might estrange our North American colonies; the
other was to imperil our national unity.

In 1865, Disraeli addressed himself to the former. The American war
was not then decided. He was not of opinion that, when it ended, our
connection with Canada would bring us into collision with America.
He did not believe that if the North was vanquished, it would “feel
inclined to enter immediately into another struggle with a power not
inferior in determination and in resources to the Southern States of
America;” and he saw many rocks ahead to divert the advancing tide--

“I form that opinion because I believe that the people of the United
States are eminently a sagacious people. I don’t think they are
insensible to the glory of great dominion and extended empire, and I
give them equally credit for being influenced by passions which actuate
mankind, and particularly nations which enjoy such freedom as they do.
But ... I do not think they would seize the moment of exhaustion as
being the most favourable for the prosecution of an enterprise which
would require great resources and great exertions.”

He then turned to the opinions which had been ventilated on American
platforms and in certain American newspapers. He refused to judge the
real American character and opinions by them. “I look upon them,” he
said, “as I should look upon those strange and fantastic drinks ...
which are such favourites on the other side of the Atlantic; and I
should as soon suppose this rowdy rhetoric was the expression of the
real feelings of the American people, as that these potations formed
the aliment and nutriment of their bodies.” And he thus explained a
point which I have already noticed: “There is another reason why this
violent course will not be adopted. The democracy of America must not
be confounded with the democracy of the Old World. _It is not formed
by the scum of turbulent cities_: neither is it merely a section of
an exhausted middle class, _which speculates in stocks and calls that
progress. It is a territorial democracy._ Aristotle, who has taught us
most of the wise things we know, never said a wiser one than this--that
the cultivators of the soil are the least inclined to sedition and to
violent courses. Now, being a territorial democracy, their character
has been formed and influenced, in a manner, by the property with
which they are connected, and by the pursuits they follow; and a sense
of responsibility arising from the reality of their possessions may
much influence their future conduct. On the other hand, this great
change would certainly alter the spirit of society, and perhaps of
government.” But he saw clearly the difficulties that still beset her.
“... We must recollect that even if the Federal Government should be
triumphant, it will have to deal with most perplexing questions and
with a discontented population.... The slave population will then be
no longer slaves. _There will be several millions of another race
emancipated and invested with all the rights of freemen; and, so far
as the letter of the law is concerned, they will be upon an equality
with the Saxon race, with whom they can possibly have no sympathy....
Nothing tends more to the discontent of a people than that they should
be in possession of privileges and rights which practically are not
recognised, and which they do not enjoy._”

Such were the elements of disunion. To cope with them a strong
government was requisite; and that meant a _centralising_ government
with a military force at its command to uphold unity and order. Our
colonies, on the other hand, were free from such obstacles, and were
themselves developing an “element of nationality.” They would not be
assailed. But none the less, we must reckon with the United States
in “the balance of power.” He would not say that a class in America
regarded old Europe “with feelings of jealousy or vindictiveness,” “...
but it is undeniable that the United States look to old Europe with _a
want of sympathy. They have no sympathy with a country that is created
and sustained by tradition._” We must, therefore, for the far future,
foster and defend our colonies. If Canada had preferred absorption
by America, “... we might terminate our connection with dignity, and
without disaster.” But if, as appeared, Canada and our North American
colonies desired deeply and sincerely “to form a considerable state
and develop its resources, and to preserve the patronage and aid of
England, ... then it would be the greatest political blunder that
could be conceived, for us to renounce, relinquish, and avoid the
responsibility of maintaining our interests in Canada.”

American Anglophobia once more engaged his attention in 1871. The pith
of his criticism may be summarised by the purport of that elegant
metaphor, “Twisting the lion’s tail.” With regard to the _Alabama_
claims, their “indirect” demands, and the disputes with our colonies,
which once more provoked British feeling, Disraeli now complained that
America’s communications with England had been couched in arrogant
terms, while those with Russia and Germany had been courteous.
He declared that it was caused by rowdy rhetoric addressed to
“irresponsible millions.” “... The reason of this offensive conduct,”
he continued, “is this: there is a _party_ in America, _who certainly
do not monopolise the intelligence, education, and property of the
country, and who, I believe, are not numerically the strongest, who
attempt to obtain political power and excite political passion by
abusing England and its Government, because they believe they can
do so with impunity_.... The danger is this. Habitually exciting the
passions of millions, some unfortunate thing happens, or something
unfortunate is said in either country; the fire lights up, it is beyond
their control, and the two nations are landed in a contest which they
can no longer prevent.... Though I should look upon it as the darkest
hour of my life, if I were to counsel, or even to support, a war with
the United States, still, the United States should know that they are
not an exception to the other countries of the world, that we do not
permit ourselves to be insulted by any other country in the world, and
that they cannot be an exception.” Nevertheless, with regard to these
very matters, he reiterated as late as 1872: “Ever since I sat in this
House, I have always endeavoured to maintain and cherish relations of
cordiality and confidence between the United Kingdom and the United
States. I have felt that between those two great countries the material
interests were so vast, _were likely so greatly to increase_, and were
in their character so mutually beneficial to both countries, that
they alone formed bonds of union.... But I could not forget that,
in the relations between the United States and England, _there was
an element also of sentiment_, which ought never to be despised in
politics, and without which there can be no enduring alliance. When
the unhappy Civil War occurred, I endeavoured, therefore, so far as I
could, to maintain ... a strict neutrality between the Northern and
the Southern states.... There were some at a particular time ... who
were anxious to obtain the recognition of the Southern states by this
country. I never could share that opinion.... We were of opinion that,
had that recognition occurred, it would not have averted the final
catastrophe, ... and it would, at the same time, have necessarily
involved this country in a war with the Northern states, _while there
were circumstances then existing in Europe which made us believe that
the war might not have been limited to America_.”

I must now consider Fenianism. Every one now knows that Fenianism,
at its inception in 1865, though its pretext was Ireland and its
rallying centre America, was really an _international_ ruffianism for
the disruption of the foundations of social order--was, in fact, an
alliance of anarchists with soldiers of misfortune. Disraeli discerned
this from the first. Plots and conspiracies of all kinds piqued at once
his curiosity, his skill, and his fancy. I was told, more than thirty
years ago, by an old gentleman who was a schoolfellow of Disraeli,
that he remembered a boyish mutiny. Disraeli headed the conspiracy,
and the head-master himself listened at the keyhole, spellbound by the
eloquence that controlled it. He loved to unravel their machinations,
to contrast their underground conclaves with their open appearance.
Conspiracies abound in _Vivian Grey_, _Alroy_, _Iskander_, _Contarini
Fleming_, _Sybil_, and _Tancred_; these very secret societies, together
with those of Jesuitry, pervade _Lothair_. “Mirandola” and “Captain
Bruges” are drawn from life. When Fenianism raged in Ireland, Disraeli
himself crossed the Channel and attended their meetings. He spoke
about what he knew; and if secret societies were his hobby, he was yet
undoubtedly right in ascribing most of the unforeseen abroad to their
initiation.

Adverting, in 1872, to its fatal influence on Ireland, he remarked:
“... The Civil War in America had just ceased, and a band of military
adventurers, Poles, Italians, and many Irishmen, concocted at New York
a conspiracy to invade Ireland, with the belief that the whole country
would rise to welcome them. How that conspiracy was baffled ... I
need not now remind you.... You remember how the constituencies were
appealed to, to vote against the Government who had made so unfit an
appointment as that of Lord Mayo to the Viceroyalty of India. It was by
his great qualities when Secretary for Ireland, by his vigilance, his
courage, his patience, and his perseverance, that this conspiracy was
defeated. He knew what was going on at New York, just as well as what
was going on in the city of Dublin?...” And when, only a year before,
the then Lord Hartington, at a moment of Fenian resurrection, withdrew
his motion for a secret committee, Disraeli inveighed against an
indecision that would be flashed in an hour across the Atlantic. This
new movement of Fenianism brought America into dangerous relations
with England. And in many disguises and under mitigated forms, it half
associated itself with the agitation for repeal, and the restless
intrigues of the Papacy. Paid Nationalists and peasant priests were
brought into connection with these Swiss guards of treason, ready to
compass the destruction of property and authority in any country, and
for any cause. It had been otherwise before its invention in America.
When O’Connell--the great O’Connell as, despite everything, Disraeli
publicly confessed when he died--supported Disraeli (who began as an
“Independent”) at his first election in 1832, he did so on the common
ground that both abominated the Whig system and desired the extension
of reform. It was only afterwards, when O’Connell pronouncedly lent
himself to what tended towards a repetition of “Captain Rock,” and
became at once an agitator for dismemberment[137] and a pillar of the
Whigs, that the young Disraeli denounced the fellowship of the dagger
with the mitre, and incensed the degenerating patriot into insult. But
the violence in Ireland of O’Connell’s days was native. It sprang from,
and it disgraced, the soil. Fenianism, however, added to the ancient
terrors of a country distressed to madness and goaded into crime, the
worst horrors of cosmopolitan conspiracies mated with every movement
for the unsettlement of Europe; and for a while it tainted every breath
of Irish nationalism, not only with detestation of England, but with
enthusiasm for her enemies. The “Clan-na-gael” still foments the last
vestiges of genuine discontent; but the headquarters seem to have
shifted from New York to a European capital. And yet so unconcerted and
unprepared was Ireland herself, however equipped and compact were these
mercenary foreigners, that Disraeli makes “Captain Bruges” exclaim in
_Lothair_, after his rescue of the hero at the meeting, held under the
sham banners of St. Joseph and harangued by a mock priest, “They manage
their affairs in general wonderfully close, but I have no opinion of
them. I have just returned from Ireland, where I thought I would go
and see what they really are after. No real business in them. Their
treason is a fairy tale, and their sedition a child talking in its
sleep.”

       *       *       *       *       *

And this brings me to Disraeli’s ideas concerning the romantic, the
persecuted, the generous, the witty, the pathetic Ireland.

No one who has studied his career can question his intense sympathy.
Many of his earliest friends had been brilliant Irishmen and
Irishwomen. He too sprang from a race once persecuted, still pathetic,
always witty and romantic. Already, in 1843, Disraeli had exclaimed:
“You must reorganise and reconstruct the Government, and even the
social state of Ireland.... By really penetrating into the mystery of
this great misgovernment” might be brought about “a state of society
which would be advantageous both to England and Ireland, and which
would put an end to a state of things that was the bane of England
and opprobrium of Europe.” But his ideas are conspicuously set forth
in the great speech of 1844, which won the high praise of Macaulay,
which Mr. Gladstone, some quarter of a century later, described as
one of the “most closely woven tissues of argument and observation
that had ever been heard in the House,” and the reperusal of which
he recommended as an intellectual “treat;” though Disraeli himself
then ironically observed that when he delivered it, nobody appeared
to listen. “It seemed to me that I was pouring water upon sand, but
it seems now that the water came from a golden goblet.” He showed
that, politically, Ireland was an open question. It was not the
Tories who started the penal code. Mr. Pitt would have settled the
question long ago had not the great war diverted his policy. Again,
the grievances of Ireland were not due to Protestantism. They were
owing to Puritanism--Puritanism in disloyal rebellion against which
loyal Ireland rebelled. Ireland, he proved, was never so contented
as in 1635. There was then perfect civil and religious equality. “At
that period there was a Parliament in Dublin called by a Protestant
king, presided over by a Protestant viceroy, and at that moment there
was a Protestant Established Church in Ireland; yet the majority of
the members of that Parliament were Roman Catholics. The government
was at that time carried on by a council of state presided over
by a Protestant deputy, yet many of the members of that council
were Roman Catholics. The municipalities were then full of Roman
Catholics. Several of the sheriffs also were Roman Catholics, and a
very considerable number of magistrates were Roman Catholics. _It is,
therefore, very evident that it is not the necessary consequence of
English connection--of a Protestant monarchy, or even of a Protestant
Church--that this embittered feeling at present exists; nor that
that system of exclusion, which either in form or spirit has so long
existed, is the consequence of Protestantism._”

It was not the Protestantism, not the connection, but the kind of
Protestantism, the sort of connection, the exclusive and selfish
spirit, that filled Ireland with ferment.

Hitherto Government had offered “a little thing in a great way.”[138]
“Justice to Ireland” had been long cried on the housetops. What was the
meaning of that cry? It only signified a forced _identity_ of English
institutions with Irish. Identity, however, was just what Ireland
resented with disgust.

What were her stumbling-blocks and stones of offence? What was “the
Irish question”? “One says it is a physical question, another a
spiritual. Now it is the absence of the aristocracy, now the absence of
railroads. It is the Pope one day, potatoes the next. Let us consider
Ireland as we should any other country similarly situated.... Then we
shall see a teeming population, which, with reference to the cultivated
soil, is denser to the square mile than that of China; created solely
by agriculture, with none of those sources of wealth which are
developed with civilisation, and sustained, consequently, on the lowest
conceivable diet; so that, in case of failure, they have no other means
of subsistence upon which they can fall back. That dense population
in extreme distress inhabit an island where there is an Established
Church which is not their Church, and a territorial aristocracy, the
richest of whom live in distant capitals. Thus you have a starving
population, an absentee aristocracy, and an alien Church; _and, in
addition, the weakest executive in the world_. That is the Irish
question. What were the remedies?

“To begin with, and before anything else, you must have a
representative, a responsive, a _strong_ Executive. Ireland is an
exceptional piece of the United Kingdom, and she alone demands what is
foreign to the English spirit--_centralisation_ of government. Next,
the administration must be _impartial_. There must be no exclusion
and no favouritism. You must also have _ecclesiastical equality_. The
Church in Ireland must change the tone of its temper. And you must
‘_reconstruct_ the social system’ of Ireland. ‘All great things are
difficult;’ but it is more difficult to reconstruct a society than a
party. Agitation only unsettles: it does not settle; and it means the
incompetence of a Government. You must ‘create public opinion instead
of following it; lead the public instead of always lagging after and
watching others.’

“... What, then, is the duty of an English minister? _To effect by his
policy all those changes which a revolution would do by force...._ It
is quite evident that, to effect this, we must have an Executive in
Ireland which shall bear _a much nearer relation to the leading classes
and characters_ of the country than it does at present. There must
be a much more _comprehensive_ Executive, and then, having produced
order, the rest is a question of time. There is no possible way by
which the physical condition of the people can be improved by Act of
Parliament.”[139]

So I read this pregnant deliverance. So, I believe, will read it any
one who scans it closely in relation to its time and setting. In
1868, when there was capital to be made out of it, Mr. Gladstone did
not so read it. Mr. Gladstone contended--and he had full right to
contend--that, with regard to the Church, at any rate, it spelled out
“Destruction.” Disraeli contented himself with retorting: “... There
are many remarks which, if I wanted to vindicate ... myself, I might
legitimately make.... But I do not care to say it, and I do not wish
to say it, because in my conscience the _sentiment of that speech
was right_....” My view is that it spelled out “Reconstruction.” It
would have settled Ireland and the Irish question by the principles of
1636 and on the lines of 1792, and not either by the Orange lodges of
1795, which answered Pitt’s abortive schemes of improvement, or by the
undemanded spoliation of 1868, which trebled the discontent it designed
to allay. All Pitt’s proposed measures were against _exclusion_.
He tried to grant Ireland that free outlet for her manufactures to
England which had proved her main source of discontent throughout the
eighteenth century. He tried to include the Protestant Dissenters as
well as the Roman Catholics in the avenues to political power. He was
foiled by the selfishness and corruption of an Irish caste, and by
the spread of the French Revolution to the Irish multitude. But in
each case _inclusion_ was his principle; development, not destruction.
Disraeli followed him. It was his hatred of exclusiveness that prompted
his aversion alike to the Whiggism of the Grenvilles and the Toryism of
Eldon. It was his devotion to wide and popular as opposed to democratic
and class principles that drew him to the Toryism of Bolingbroke and
Wyndham, and enabled him to reconstruct the Tory party on its first but
forgotten foundations.

But if we want a practical comment on the speech of 1844, we have it
in an utterance of 1868. In 1868 he defined the position: “... I said
the other night, as I say now, that I think you might elevate the
_status_ of the unendowed clergy in Ireland.... My opinion is, that if
this system of conciliation, founded on the principle that in Ireland
_you ought to create and not destroy_, had been pursued, you might have
elevated the Irish Church greatly to its advantage. You might have
rendered it infinitely more useful.... I do not think it impossible
that you might have introduced measures which would have elevated
the _status_ of the unendowed clergy, and so softened and terminated
those feelings of inequality which now exist, _so that you might
have had the same equality in the state of Ireland which you have in
England_. There is perfect equality in the state of the Dissenter in
England, although his is no established Church. That state of things
might exist in Ireland, if you had taken measures which would, among a
sensitive people, have prevented a sentiment of humiliation.... Without
disestablishment, without the difficulties and dangers of concurrent
endowment, there might have been a system of Government grants both
to Romanists and Dissenters for education and other public objects.
That is how I interpret the ‘ecclesiastical equality’ of 1844; ‘to
create and not to destroy.’”[140] And, speaking again of his desire to
supplement the educational means for the Roman Catholics, he said: “...
That is in accordance with our uniform policy, ... a reconciliation
between creeds and classes.”

After 1844 the Irish question still festered. Nowhere did the repeal
of the Corn Laws inflict more immediate distress than in a country so
dependent on native agriculture as Ireland was then and still remains.
Pauperism became the crying evil of Ireland. Even in 1869, more than a
quarter of the inhabitants were paupers. Pauperism defied “political
palliatives.” The Government of Ireland, despite his warnings, remained
a weak one, and, alluding to this in a famous speech of 1869, he
pertinently brought into prominence the fact that what strength it
has depends now on its connection with England. “... The Government
of Ireland is not a strong one; its sanctions are less valid than
those of the Government of England. It has not the historic basis
which England rests upon. It has not the tradition which the English
Government rests upon. It does not depend upon that vast accumulation
of manners and customs which in England are really more powerful than
laws or statutes.” What Disraeli felt all along was that Ireland
needed security for capital and variety of employment; and that for
these repose and order were requisite. In November, 1868, alluding
to the naturalisation of Fenianism in Ireland at a time when Ireland
was inherently contented and immeasurably superior to her plight in
1844--when she had begun to rest and be thankful--he made the following
comment:--

“... In Ireland there was always a degree of morbid discontent which
the Fenians believe they may fan into flame, and which might lead to
the revolutionary result they desire. The whole nature of the race
will account for it. An Irishman is an imaginative being. He lives in
an island, in a damp climate and contiguous to the melancholy ocean.
_He has no variety of pursuit._ There is no nation in the world that
leads so monotonous a life as the Irish, because _their only occupation
is the cultivation of the soil before them_.... The Irishman in other
countries, _where he has a fair field for his talents in various
occupations, is equal, if not superior, to most races_.... I may say
with frankness that I think this is the fault of the Irish. If they
led that kind of life which would invite the introduction of capital
into the country, all this ability might be utilised; and instead of
those feelings which they acquire by brooding over the history of
their country, a great part of which is merely traditionary, you would
find men acquiring fortunes, and arriving at conclusions on politics
entirely different from those which they now offer.”

The same outlook prompted him in another speech to regret the cry of
a “conquered people” which the manipulators of grievance perpetually
raised. Ireland was no more a conquered country than England. In both
there had been conquerors and conquests;[141] but in both a blend of
races and institutions which had produced a nation in one, and made for
nationality in the other.

Time went on. Ireland had improved by rest. There was even
prosperity in her borders. Fenianism was subsiding.[142] Classes
were less estranged. Emigration had increased, but the Liberals
welcomed emigration. Disraeli had risen into supreme power, and had
constitutionalised the democracy by his Bill of 1867. The Radicals were
incensed at the measure, which they had coveted in another form and
with sectional objects. The stiffer even of his own party stood aghast,
and some seceded. The Liberals began to nibble at the Radical bait. It
is a curious fact that the Whigs, when in political despair, usually
resort to a revolutionary measure. Already, over thirty years before,
they had done so in connection with Ireland. Suddenly, without warning,
without a popular mandate, or even an Irish outcry for the upheaval,
like a bolt from the blue came Mr. Gladstone’s first great conversion
from principles firmly protested only a year before.[143] The question
was sprung on both countries. He brought in, and in a manner so
imperious that a solid portion of his own followers deserted him, his
Act for the Disestablishment and Disendowment of the Irish Church; not
only for its severance from the State, but for its spoliation by the
State.

In the abstract its disestablishment, apart from its disendowment,
was a great, a just, and a generous measure; theoretically it was as
sound as bimetallism. But its logical issues were incompatible with a
united kingdom. They really, on examination, involved that separatist
theory of the “right” of “nationalities” to be self-governing, of
which he grew so fond. “Nationality” is here a wrong expression, for
“nationality” is, by its essence, a term of union, and not of division.
It should be “Locality.” What is meant by this assumed “right” is, that
particular races or particular provinces, absorbed into or dependent on
“nationalities,” are entitled, from the mere fact of their geographical
limits, to withdraw from the greater whole of which they are portions.
This theory would revive the Heptarchy. It would make Jersey and
Guernsey, or the Isle of Man, it would make Scotland or Wales, a
“nation.”

I say that Mr. Gladstone’s measure, introduced when and how it was,
and with its double purport, involved these conclusions, because if
the mere existence of an “alien Church” justifies the severance of the
ties between authority and religion, and the plunder of its revenues
for purposes other than that for which they were created, then the same
reasoning would not only justify the abolition of an alien and the
substitution of a native government, but also a refusal to contribute
any revenue to the deposed government at all. There might be occasions
demanding such a course. An oppressive Church, a tyrannical government,
might well be swept away by a statesman with ears to hear the cries of
impatience and eyes to see the ravages of injustice--a true statesman
who, as Disraeli said in 1844, would accomplish by statute and
conciliation what revolutions necessitate by force.

But this was not one of them. The English Church itself was not
practically resented, however its historical existence might be
made to rankle in common with the other historical anomalies in
Ireland, including its connection with England. The Church itself had
been bettered, and might be still more improved. It was alive with
opportunities. The Catholics and the Dissenters might, apart from
the Establishment, which stood for British authority, be set upon a
complete equality, and helped towards usefulness in many directions.
The Church itself had proved a valuable educational centre. The Roman
clergy called, not for its extinction, but for its disendowment; and
rather because they could not bear to think that it was there at all,
just as they cannot bear to think that it exists in England, than
because they wanted the revenues or suffered under the rebuffs or
rivalry of an English Church. It was an argument, as Disraeli put it,
that might be paralleled if all those Irish gentlemen who had small
estates, but frequented the same society, were to say that their
brethren of large estates should surrender their revenues to the State;
or if the unendowed hospitals of London were to exact the deprival of
the endowments enjoyed by St. Bartholomew’s, St. Thomas’s, and Guy’s,
not with the object of themselves sharing them, but out of wanton envy.

Disraeli delivered three main speeches of great power, interest, and
length on this subject. I shall not quote them in words, but shall only
endeavour to present their pith.

As regards the _Disestablishment_.

He objected to it on principle--the principles outlined in my second
chapter. The union of Church and State is a symbol of the Divine nature
of government, which is the only truth underlying the obsolete fiction
of the “Divine Right of Kings.” He objected to it on policy. Divorce
the religious principle from that of government, and it is the State
that will suffer most. The result must be disorder. One day that might
take a peculiar form. The political power once separated from the
spiritual, a crisis might arise where the two might collide; and where,
though the political power might be right, the spiritual would appeal
in haste to both passion and prejudice.

As regards the _Disendowment_.

He objected to it on principle. The plunder of public corporations was
nothing new, but where the trust for which the corporation had been
endowed was not observed in the application of the spoil by the State,
which was a trustee, it was indefensible. It became confiscation.
“Irish purposes” were vaguely hinted as the destination, but the repeal
of the whisky duty might be an “Irish purpose;” and where was the sense
of dedicating some of this annexed property to Irish pauper lunatics?
Moreover, historically, he had always noticed that the spoil of the
Church went eventually to enrich the large landed proprietors.

He objected to it on policy. One of the causes of discontent was
alleged to be that a particular Church was not connected with the
State. Mr. Gladstone proposed to regenerate the country by having
_three_ Churches not connected with the State. Discontent, however,
would still remain smouldering, and Disraeli prophesied that its next
phase would threaten the tenure of land. What would be the effect in
this relation of having three Churches disconnected from the State? The
land question would, he predicted, assume many threatening forms with
one purpose--a purpose against the rights and the duties of property.
One Church was to be deprived of property which none of the others
claimed. Three sets of clergy were to be equally apart from the State.
A class in the first place, therefore, and that a class of resident
proprietors, was to be destroyed; when it was agreed that one of the
evils in Ireland was the want of a variety of classes and of resident
proprietors. In the second, one of the avowed evils, the curse of
Ireland, was poverty; but here was an Act to confiscate property, and
that property in its nature popular--the appanage of the people.

When the land question should arise, there might ensue a triple danger,
that of three sets of clergy divided in theology and matters of
discipline, but united in discontent; and the three might eventually
demand the restoration of the national property; and if it were
refused, there might be revolution. England could afford no more
revolutions. But, in any case, the spoliation of the Protestant clergy
would breed jealousies among themselves also; for they were actually
invited and induced (by means which he exposed) to co-operate in their
own expropriation. The plunder of the Catholic clergy had bred great
discontent. The plunder of the Protestant clergy would do the same.
And if discontent were left to grow as it went, the land outcry would
produce others, and they again others in their turn and train. There
would be no rest, no finality. It would be discontent without end.

Far more than this, however, he objected to the ultimate consequences
of this revolutionary departure. Confiscation was contagious. What was
now applied--and applied in a form aggravated by its complications--to
the national property, might one day be applied to private property.
What was now applied to Ireland might one day be forcibly applied
to England. If the public disaster of the disestablishment and
disendowment of the English Church ever took place, in deference to
the jealousy of a class and not because of its own inherent decay as a
great civil and ecclesiastical institution, it would be aided by the
precedent of Ireland.

Such is the pith, though many of the details and much of the historical
criticism are omitted; nor have I here dealt with the Maynooth and
“Regium Donum” problems and their bearings on these matters, which
Disraeli discussed in full. But I have condensed enough to point the
path of his ideas.

Not all these dismal forebodings have yet been realised; but many of
them, unfortunately, came to pass. Ireland’s discontent, Catholic
discontent, were, neither of them, allayed by the disestablishment and
disendowment of the Protestant Church. The clergy of that Church are
still far from contented. The land question burst out within a brief
space of Disraeli’s prediction. It brought with it a long and fatal
series of cumulative troubles; and, as Disraeli had also predicted,
the actual rights of civil property, the rights of civilised society,
became invaded. “Compensation for disturbance” asserted the right to
pay no rent. For a time the last state of Ireland was almost worse
than the first. There were “months of murder, incendiarism, and every
conceivable outrage.” “The Executive absolutely abandoned their
functions.” Disraeli’s last trumpet-call was to warn the country, in
his celebrated letter to the Lord-Lieutenant, that there were those
who wished to sever Ireland from England as part of a scheme for the
disruption of the Empire. In 1881 he adverted to that warning.

“... Now what was the consequence of that declaration? The present
Government took an early opportunity soon after I had made that
declaration, to express a contrary opinion. They said there was in
Ireland an absence of crime and outrage, with a general sense of
comfort and satisfaction.... I warned the constituencies that there
was going on in Ireland a conspiracy which aimed at the disunion of
the two countries, and probably at something more. I said that if they
were not careful something might happen almost as bad as pestilence and
famine.... My observations, of course, were treated with that ridicule
which a successful election always secures....”

We all know the rest. The country was only saved by a secession of the
light and leading of the Liberal party from their rash and misguided
leader. Wisdom has been justified of her child.

In conclusion, let me say that none would have welcomed more gratefully
than Disraeli the statesmanlike effort to settle the land question
which has recently made England the landlord of Ireland. He might have
descried in it elements of difficulty, and even of some danger for the
future. But it would, in the main, I am confident, have received his
unstinted support; for it is founded on the rock of conciliation--on
Disraeli’s policy “_To create and not to destroy_.”



CHAPTER VIII

SOCIETY


Macaulay observes of Frances Burney that “while still a girl she had
laid up such a store of materials for fiction as few of those who mix
much in the world are able to accumulate during a long life. She had
watched and listened to people of every class, from princes and great
officers of State, down to artists living in garrets and poets familiar
with subterranean cook-shops. Hundreds of remarkable persons had
passed in review before her--English, French, German, Italian, lords
and fiddlers, deans of cathedrals and managers of theatres, travellers
leading about newly caught savages, and singing women escorted by
deputy husbands.”

This is true of Disraeli. Long before he entered public life, before
he knew the inimitable D’Orsay, or even the luminous Lyndhurst, before
his most happy marriage, he had entered society at both doors--the gate
of horn and the gate of ivory. As a stripling of twenty he had been
sent, as we have seen, by Murray, the founder of his own fortune on
Byron’s fortune and misfortunes, to Abbotsford and Sir Walter Scott.
The young Disraeli used to dub Murray “the Emperor.” Murray described
him as the most remarkable young man he had ever met; “a deep thinker
but thoroughly practical in his ideas,” at once brilliant and solid,
of a bright and airy disposition which endeared him to the young, and,
himself unspoilt as “a child;” singularly happy in his home relations,
and “his father is my oldest friend.” That father was himself a
singular and remarkable man, who had attracted a distinguished
coterie. He was Pye’s early intimate and Thomas Baring’s friend. His
ties with Penn cemented his love of Buckinghamshire. He was familiar
with Southey, and he knew Mrs. Siddons. He conversed with Samuel
Rogers[144] and Tom Moore; he had corresponded and dined with Byron,
of whom “Disraeli the Younger” has recorded some striking traits. He
knew all the men of quills and letters, including the antiquarian
Bliss and Douce, many of the wits, and some of the “wit-woulds.” His
own brother-in-law, George Basevi, was an eminent architect,[145] and
architecture is often touched in the son’s novels.[146] Another member
of the family was a conveyancer, and through him the son was first
sent to read law with a solicitor, in whose office he read Chaucer,
and was then entered at Lincoln’s Inn. He had artistic acquaintances
also. Barry, he knew well. Downman painted his wife, and Downman’s
brother was his associate. And there were also some men of affairs
who visited Isaac Disraeli’s house. The burrowing and irrepressible
Croker, afterwards so mercilessly satirised as “Rigby,”[147] and
equally trounced, poor man, by Thackeray and Macaulay, seems to have
been his occasional purveyor of politics. But for contemporary parties
he cared little. He was a solitary student of the past; excavating
ancient manuscripts in the British Museum when the daily number of
such scholars did not exceed six. He was shy, meditative, dreamy, and
dispassionate. But he was poet besides recluse; his earliest courtship,
while Dr. Johnson lay dying, had been that of the muse. Sir Walter
Scott included one of his lyrics in a published collection.[148]
He diversified his stern by lighter labours, and his novels, long
since moldered, caused some stir and attracted sympathy. After the
romance of his early failures and the surprise of his early success,
he set himself patiently down to work for ten years before he would
print another line. His own father, who never understood but always
humored him, was a man of business, sanguine and prompt, yet gay and
nonchalant, who lost fortunes and regained them.[149] Disraeli the
Younger united the two strains of his father and of his grandfather. He
was a practical dreamer.

Isaac Disraeli, then, gave his boy an opening to the literary world.
Among his intimates was the shrewd solicitor, Mr. Austin, and his
clever young wife, a literary coquette of talent, the aunt of the
future Sir Henry Layard, the transcriber of _Vivian Grey_. Her salon
was frequented, among others, by the Hooks[150] and the Mathews.
With the Austins young Disraeli journeyed in Italy and Germany. From
his father’s library he thus emerged on a larger world. But he soon
outstepped its bounds. After his long Eastern travels with Clay, and
Meredith[151] affianced to Disraeli’s sister--a voyage on which Byron’s
Tita became Disraeli’s valet, and on which he encountered the most
opposite types as well as some curious adventures[152]--his own first
books made him the lion of several seasons. He and Bulwer divided the
honors of Bath, then still fashionable. Lyndhurst grew to depend on his
assistance, and even advice; Disraeli escorted him when as Chancellor
he was present at Kensington at the accession of Queen Victoria;
Lyndhurst’s daughter became an associate of Disraeli’s sister; and
nothing gave Disraeli more unfeigned pleasure than the visits of
Lyndhurst and Bulwer to his father at Bradenham.

He not only wrote novels, pamphlets, and sonnets (his vain ambition
was to revolutionise poetry), but he seems to have contributed to
the _Edinburgh Review_ as well as to many magazines. In 1833, as has
been noticed, he corresponded with its editor, Napier, with a view
to a “slasher” on Morier’s “Zohrab,” which had been puffed in the
_Quarterly_. Of the book he remarks, “A production in every respect
more contemptible I have seldom met with;” and of the puff, “This is
what comes of putting a tenth-rate novelist at the head of a great
critical journal.”[153]

Then followed Gore House, with its high Bohemian wits, its low
Bohemian buffoons, its loose celebrities, its “man of destiny,” Louis
Napoleon; its laughter and its tears; its Watteau-like _parterres_,
and the generous, erring Egeria of the grot.[154] Then, too, came that
fascinating circle of the Sheridans, which united sparkling talent
to entrancing beauty in extraordinary charm. But then also came the
duller round of High Mayfair--the Londonderrys and the Buckinghams.
Among diplomatists at this period he knew Pozzo. He had seen, or met,
or known the fathers or grandfathers of most of the aristocracy which,
forty years afterwards, he was to lead. Resolved from the first, as
he said in an early letter, “to respect himself, the only way to make
others respect you;” an outrageous dandy; sometimes in deplored debt,
often in surmounted scrapes, always in good humour, he had surveyed the
whole kaleidoscope of society, artificial as well as natural, before,
or soon after, he turned thirty years of age; from the pachas and
intriguers of the East, to the leaders and amusers of the West; from
Ali and the governors, admirals, and garrisons of Malta and Gibraltar,
to solemn busy-bodies in and out of place; the fops and flutterers in
and out of society; men famous who were destined to obscurity, men
obscure who were vowed to fame; eccentrics and platitudinarians; the
Upper Ten--“the two thousand Brahmins who constitute the world”--and
the lower ten thousand; from the eccentric Urquhart to “L. E. L.,” “the
Sappho of Brompton,” and, it would seem, Davison the future musical
critic. An early letter, probably addressed to him, lies before me. It
may be of passing interest to subjoin it:--

    “MY DEAR DAVISON,

  “I am very vexed that I missed you this morning. I arrived in town
  to-day, and am now living the _vie solitaire_ in Bloomsbury. Will
  you come and ameliorate a bachelor’s torments by partaking of his
  goblet?

  “I am alone, as Ossian says, but luckily not upon the hill of
  storms.

  “Instead of that catch-cold situation, a good fireside will greet
  you.

  “Mind you come.

            “Yours ever,
                  “B. DISRAELI.”

  “Excuse scrawl, etc. 6 o’clock.”

The society of those days still retained much of the Regency’s tinsel.
It glittered far more than it shone. Society was not then quite
the Dresden china shop with porcelain figures of beaux and boxers,
of topers and bull-dogs, of satyrs and nymphs, of city swains and
simpering shepherdesses, that it had been ten or fifteen years before.
Byron, with his savage sincerity, may be said to have dashed that
smooth farrago to fragments. But it remained a society of veneer and
affectation. It was a less natural age than our own, with fewer ideals
and less outward movement. It was a more boisterous age than our own;
public opinion exercised far less pressure. It was at once a coarser,
a more sentimental and a more romantic, if a more bombastic age than
ours. There still lingered the curiosity of Dr. Johnson’s age for the
tittle-tattle of voyagers and the curiosities of barbarism. But it was
not in the main a more material age, or, under the surface, a much
more selfish one. Sympathy was local then. “The people were only half
born.” It was, however, certainly a generation far more fastidious and
exclusive; and at the same time it was certainly more appreciative
of genius. You could then appeal to the few where you cannot now
appeal to the many; for the few then had neither the narrowness of the
_bourgeoisie_ nor the unlimited appetite of the million.

“The invention,” smiles Disraeli so early as in his mock-classical
squib, _The Infernal Marriage_, “by Jupiter of an aristocratic
immortality, as a reward for a well-spent life on earth, appears to
me to have been a very ingenious idea. It really is a reward very
stimulative of good conduct before we shuffle off this mortal coil, and
remarkably contrasts with the democracy of the damned. The Elysians,
with a splendid climate, a teeming soil, and a nation made on purpose
to wait upon them, of course enjoyed themselves very much.... The
Elysians, indeed, being highly refined and gifted ... were naturally a
very liberal-minded race and very capable of appreciating every kind of
excellence. If a gnome, or a sylph, therefore, in any way distinguished
themselves, ... aye! indeed, if the poor devils could do nothing better
than write a poem or a novel, they were sure to be noticed by the
Elysians, who always bowed to them as they passed by, and sometimes,
indeed, even admitted them into their circles.”

What Disraeli detested was what he termed, even in _Vivian Grey_,
“_society on anti-social principles_.” What he liked was a distinct
and distinctive circle, interchanging its ideas--“free trade in
conversation.” In his social, as in his political outlook, he
craved inclusiveness on the basis of excellence, and not either the
restrictedness of a caste or the miscellany of a multitude. In this
sense all society should be “aristocratic.” And he always felt that, as
a rule, it was precisely the middle-class element, contrasted either
with those who inherited the finer perceptions of breeding or with
those--the gallery--born with perceptive instincts--that is in the main
deficient in these respects. “... The stockbrokers’ ladies took off the
quarto travels and the hot-pressed poetry. They were the patronesses of
your patent ink and your wire-wove paper. That is all past....”[155]
What he disrelished was the meaner sort of mediocrity, except when it
was unassuming and useful.

“High breeding and a good heart,” he demands in _Lothair_ for the
“perfect host.” “To throw over a host,” he has also written, “is the
most heinous of social crimes. It ought never to be pardoned....”
“... She, too,” he says of the Duchess in _Coningsby_--who “was one
of the delights of existence,”--“was distinguished by that perfect
good breeding which is the result of nature and not of education; for
it may be found in a cottage and may be missed in a palace. ’Tis a
genial regard for the feelings of others that springs from the absence
of selfishness.... Nothing in the world could have induced her to
appear bored when another was addressing or attempting to amuse her.
She was not one of those vulgar fine ladies who meet you one day with
a vacant stare, as if unconscious of your existence, and address
you on another in a tone of impertinent familiarity.” “This is a
lesson for you fine ladies,” says “Egremont” in _Sybil_, “who think
you can govern the world by what you call your social influences;
asking people once or twice a year to an inconvenient crowd in your
house; now haughtily smirking, and now impertinently staring at them,
and flattering yourselves all this time that to have the occasional
privilege of entering your saloons, and the periodical experience of
your insolent recognition, is to be a reward for great exertions, or,
if necessary, an inducement to infamous tergiversation.” And, indeed,
the “Zenobia” of _Endymion_, who was Lady Jersey, did sometimes
condescend to practise these shifts of political ambition.[156] But
in high society with low standards, there were worse depths than the
backstairs patronage of party recruits. “Never,” as the fine sentence
prefixed to _Sybil_ recalls, “were so many gentlemen, and so little
gentleness.” The contemptuous materialism of “Monmouth House,” the
elegant indifference of “Lord Eskdale,” around which revolve the
satellites and parasites, social and political--the folks that made
Selwyn exclaim when a great nobleman’s golden dinner-service was up to
auction--“Lord, how many toads have eaten off this plate!”

“Among the habitual dwellers” (this from _Coningsby_) “in these
delicate halls there was a tacit understanding, a prevalent doctrine,
that required no formal exposition, no proofs and illustrations,
no comment, and no gloss, which was, indeed, rather a traditional
conviction than an impartial dogma--that the exoteric public were,
on many subjects, the victims of very vulgar prejudice, which these
enlightened personages wished neither to disturb nor to adopt.”
“Society,” he said, alluding to its treatment of Byron in _Venetia_,
“is all passions and no heart.” In _Vivian Grey_ (as to the
circumstances of which I shall say something in my last chapter) the
father (that is, Disraeli’s father) thus admonishes the boyish son.

“... You are now inspecting one of the worst portions of society in
what is called the great world (St. Giles’ is bad, but of another
kind), and it may be useful, on the principle that the actual sight
of brutal ebriety was supposed to have inspired youth with the virtue
of temperance.... Let me warn you not to fall into the usual error
of youth, in fancying that the circle you move in is precisely the
world itself. Do not imagine that there are not other beings, whose
benevolent principle is governed by finer sympathies, and by those
nobler emotions which really constitute all our public and private
virtues. I give you this hint, lest, in your present society, you might
suppose these virtues were merely historical.” Speaking of “Vivian
Grey” under the guise of “Contarini Fleming’s” first novel, Disraeli
makes his hero ejaculate: “All the bitterness of my heart, occasioned
by my wretched existence among their false circles, found its full
vent. Never was anything so imprudent. Everybody figured, and all
parties and opinions alike suffered.” Still more did he despise “the
insolence of the insignificant.”

What he admired in whatever form--even when incompatible with
society--was purpose with personality. This is manifest in all his
early novels, conspicuous in his later ones. The two heroes of
_Venetia_--Byron and Shelley[157]--are portrayed from this point
of view. Even the hysterical purpose of Lady Caroline Lamb in the
person of “Lady Monteagle” is recognised; and of Byron he causes his
characters to speak in _Vivian Grey_: “There was the man! And that
such a man should be lost to us at the very moment that he had begun
to discover why it had pleased the Omnipotent to have endowed him
with such powers!”--“If one thing were more characteristic of Byron’s
mind than another, it was his strong, shrewd common sense, his pure,
unadulterated sagacity.”--“The loss of Byron can never be retrieved.
He was indeed a real man; and, when I say this, I award him the most
splendid character which human nature need aspire to.”[158] The very
intellectual purpose of comparative purposelessness, of dilettante
taste, attracted him. This is how he addresses “Luttrell” in _The Young
Duke_: “... Teach us that wealth is not elegance, that profusion is
not magnificence, and that splendour is not heart. Teach us that taste
is a talisman which can do greater wonders than the millions of the
loan-monger. Teach us that to vie is not to rival; and to imitate not
to invent. Teach us that pretension is a bore. Teach us that wit is
excessively good-natured, and, like champagne, not only sparkles, but
is sweet.[159] Teach us the vulgarity of malignity. Teach us that envy
spoils our complexions, and that anxiety destroys our figure. Catch the
fleeting colours of that sly chameleon, Cant, and show what excessive
trouble we are ever taking to make ourselves miserable and silly. Teach
us all this, and Aglaia shall stop a crow in its course, and present
you with a pen, Thalia hold the golden fluid in a Sévres vase, and
Euphrosyne support the violet-coloured scroll.”

So, too, the energetic personality of D’Orsay aroused his enthusiastic
friendship, and drew from him, some twenty years after that ambrosial
figure had vanished, the tribute of “... the most accomplished and the
most engaging character that has figured in this century, who, with
the form and universal genius of an Alcibiades, combined a brilliant
wit and a heart of quick affection, and who, placed in a public
position, would have displayed a courage, a judgment, and a commanding
intelligence which would have ranked him among the leaders of mankind.”
D’Orsay speaks and acts to the life as “Count Mirabel” in _The Young
Duke_. And, in a too unfamiliar passage of _The Young Duke_, he thus
also embalms, I fancy,[160] the memory of Lady Blessington’s maligned
charm under the veil of “Lady Aphrodite.”

“... We are not of those who set themselves against the verdict of
society, or ever omit to expedite, by a gentle kick, a falling friend.
And yet, when we just remember beauty is beauty, and grace is grace,
and kindness is kindness, although the beautiful, the graceful, and the
amiable do get in a scrape, we don’t know how it is, we confess it is a
weakness, but, under these circumstances, we do not feel quite inclined
to sneer. But this is wrong. We should not pity or pardon those who
have yielded to great temptation, or, perchance, great provocation.
Besides, it is right that our sympathies should be kept for the
injured.” Endeavour and individuality he reverenced and recognised.
Tact, the charity of manners, he admired.[161] But for aimlessness,
whether callous or random, whether patrician or plebeian--whether of
“Lord Marney,” who said to “Egremont,” “I am your elder brother, sir,
whose relationship to you is your only claim to the consideration of
society,” and was answered, “A curse on the society that has fashioned
such claims ... founded on selfishness, cruelty, and fraud, and leading
to demoralisation, misery, and crime;” or of “Rigby,” who called his
record in Debrett of the marriage successfully schemed for his patron,
“a great fact.” To such as these he gave no quarter; and he scalped
them with a wit and an irony that has rarely been equalled.

And he loved startling contrasts. “Whatever they did,” he says in _The
Infernal Marriage_, “the Elysians were careful never to be vehement.”
Disraeli liked to break the monotone of society’s polished surface
by pronounced and original types of race, of class, of passion, of
enterprise; the Roman among the European-Americans, the Arabian,
the Syrian, the Greek, the Gaul among the Franks. He revelled in
romantic women, muses, or prophetesses, who lead forlorn movements,
or rally broken fortunes; in men whom they cheer and kindle; in
public spirits; in sudden and unexpected revolutions of fortune,
and sudden and unforeseen revelations of character. To himself in
his first youth might adhere the phrase with which he then labelled
“Popanilla:” “He looked the most dandified of savages, and the most
savage of dandies.” He liked to pit the Bohemian against the noble,
and the valet against the hero; the “light children of dance and song”
against their heavy patrons; to display the power of career even in the
lodginghouse-keeper’s daughter; to depict the aristocracy of the master
working man; to analyse and contrast the ironies of the struggle, the
social tragedy of illusion, and the social farce of fashion. “...
‘Your mind is opening, Ixion,’” says Mercury, in that brilliant skit
which Disraeli penned before he was celebrated; “‘you will soon be
a man of the world. To the left, and keep clear of that star’--‘Who
lives there?’--‘The Fates know, not I. Some low people who are trying
to shine into notice. ’Tis a parvenu planet, and only sprung up into
space within this century. We don’t visit them.’” “Sybil” herself, it
should be remembered, is an aristocrat born, but not bred, while half
“Egremont’s” Norman relations are cads or snobs.

He loved, too, society’s foibles--to hit off the precocious wiseacres
of the golden youth. “... A young fellow of two- or three-and-twenty
knows the world as men used to do after as many years of scrapes. I
wonder whether there is such a thing as a greenhorn? Effie Crabbs
says the reason he gives up his house is that he has cleaned out the
old generation, and that the new generation would clean him.”[162] To
banter “those uncommonly able men who only want an opportunity,” the
philosophers and the puppies; to jest, as he does in _Popanilla_, at
legal fictions; to poke fun at the “great orator, before a green table,
beating a red box,” or the prattlers on science in “gilded saloons;” to
depict the pyramidal selfishness but unruffled pride of Lord Hertford
in “Lord Monmouth”--Thackeray’s “Lord Steyne;” to chronicle the pæan
of “Mrs. Guy Flouncey”--a precursor of “Becky Sharp”--when she wins
the invitation to the great house: “My dear, we have done it at last!”
or those whose _summum bonum_ is to have ten thousand a year and be
thought to have five; or those waiters on dying Mammon, who, when the
will is read, “all become orderly and broken-hearted;” or the bored
good humour of the Radical noble, who was almost a Communist except as
regarded land--“as if a fellow could have too much land;” to burlesque
the whole medley of blue bores and bore-blues, of red-tape, and
peas-on-drums, the Jacks-in-office and the Jacks-in-boxes, of “nobs and
snobs,” of “statesmen, fiddlers, and buffoons.” But it should not be
forgotten that he ever kept a warm place in his heart for sailors, whom
he regarded as among the most natural and delightful of mankind.[163]

It was not only the big shams and little follies of society that
revolted or amused him. He held, also, that melancholy and dulness were
social crimes. “If a man be gloomy, let him keep to himself. No man has
a right to go croaking about society, or, what is worse, looking as if
he stifled grief. These fellows should be put in the pound. We like a
good broken heart or so now and then; but then one should retire to the
Sierra Morena mountains and live upon locusts and wild honey, not dine
out with our cracked cores....”[164] And among breaches of social tact,
he most disliked those minor monomanias which make the bore. “Never,”
he once warned a young man, “discuss ‘The Letters of Junius,’ or ‘The
Man in the Iron Mask.’” Some of his happiest conversations are to be
found in the _Lothair_ colloquies at Muriel Towers.

Society used to depend on conversation much more than it does now, when
there is so much hurry, so much wealth, so many amusements, so little
privacy, and so much printed about it that practically there is no
compact society at all--merely a touring menagerie. Disraeli, in one of
his earlier novels,[165] has an excellent essay in miniature on social
conversation:--

“The high style of conversation where eloquence and philosophy emulate
each other, ... all this has ceased. It ceased in this country
with Johnson and Burke, and it requires a Johnson and a Burke for
its maintenance. There is no mediocrity in such intercourse, no
intermediate character between the sage and the bore. The second style,
where men, not things, are the staple, but where wit and refinement and
sensibility invest even personal details with intellectual interest,
does flourish at present, as it always must in a highly civilised
society.... Then comes your conversation man, who, we confess, is
our aversion. His talk is a thing apart, got up before he enters the
company from whose conduct it should grow out. He sits in the middle of
a large table, and, with a brazen voice, bawls out his anecdotes about
Sir Thomas or Sir Humphry, Lord Blank or Lady Blue. He is incessant,
yet not interesting; ever varying, yet always monotonous. Even if we
are amused, we are no more grateful for the entertainment than we are
to the lamp over the table for the light which it universally sheds,
and to yield which it was obtained on purpose. _We are more gratified
by the slight conversation of one who is often silent, but who speaks
from his momentary feelings, than by all this hullabaloo._ Yet this
machine is generally a favourite piece of furniture with the hostess.
You may catch her eye, as he recounts some adventure of the morning,
which proves that he not only belongs to every club, but goes to them,
light up with approbation; and then when the ladies withdraw, and the
female senate deliver their criticism on the late actors, she will
observe with a gratified smile to her _confidante_, that the dinner
went off well, and that Mr. Bellow was very strong to-day. All this is
horrid, and the whole affair is a delusion. A variety of people are
brought together, who all come as late as possible, and retire as soon,
merely to show that they have other engagements. A dinner is prepared
for them, which is hurried over, in order that a certain number of
dishes should be--not tasted, but seen. And provided that there is no
moment that an absolute silence reigns; that, besides the bustling of
the servants, the clattering of the plates and knives, a stray anecdote
is told, which, if good, has been heard before, and which, if new, is
generally flat; provided a certain number of certain names of people
of consideration are introduced, by which some stranger, for whom the
party is often secretly given, may learn the scale of civilisation
of which he this moment forms a part; provided the senators do not
steal out too soon to the House, and their wives to another party--the
hostess is congratulated on the success of her entertainment.” He much
preferred the conversation of “Pinto,” whose raillery, unremembered,
amused and “flattered the self-love of those whom it seemed sportively
not to spare.... He was not an intellectual Crœsus, but his pockets
were full of sixpences.” But then, “Pinto” did not quite belong to
the lower social stratum above characterised. That Disraeli had not
altered his opinion of it after forty years’ immense and intimate
experience is shown by the description in _Lothair_ of the “reception”
of “Mrs. Putney Giles.” Not that Disraeli by any means inclined to the
“call-a-spade-a-spade” view of conversation. To say all one thought,
to be rudely frank, would destroy social converse. “... As Pinto says,
if every man were straightforward in his opinions, there would be no
conversation. The fun of talk is to find out what a man really thinks,
and then contrast it with the enormous lies he has been telling all
dinner, and perhaps all his life.” “Never argue,” he once wrote, “and,
if controversy arises, change the subject.” And he also recognised that
“talk to man about himself, and he will listen for hours.” “All women
are vain, some men are not.” He believed, too, in the saying of Swift,
that a community of ailments is a fastener of friendship. Once when an
intimate asked Lord Beaconsfield what he did when his acquaintanceship
was claimed by many whose faces and names were unfamiliar, but who
professed to have known him in youth, he answered, “I always say one
thing--‘Quite so, quite so! _and how is the old complaint?_’”

I have said that in his youth Disraeli had occasionally been in
debt.[166] No one ever reprobated it more, though no one, except
Goldsmith and Sheridan, has also extracted more humour out of it, as is
attested by the episode of “Mr. Levison” and the coals in _Henrietta
Temple_.[167] In this novel he thus moralises--

“If youth but knew the fatal misery that they are entailing on
themselves the moment they accept a pecuniary credit to which they
are not entitled, how they would start in their career! how pale they
would turn! how they would tremble, and clasp their hands in agony
at the precipice on which they are disporting. Debt is the prolific
mother of folly and of crime; it taints the course of life in all its
dreams. Hence so many unhappy marriages, so many prostituted pens and
venal politicians. It hath a small beginning, but a giant’s growth and
strength. When we make the monster we make our master, who haunts us at
all hours, and shakes his whip of scorpions forever in our sight. The
slave hath no overseer so severe. Faustus, when he signed the bond with
blood, did not secure a dream more terrific. But when we are young we
must enjoy ourselves. True; and there are few things more gloomy than
the recollection of a youth that has not been enjoyed....”

He was never a gambler. One of the most striking passages of _Vivian
Grey_ gives the story--which would make a strong play--of a man in high
place, led on by even noble motives to game, until he sharped at play,
and was rescued from disgrace by friendship; and in _The Young Duke_
is the thrilling romance of the career of the founder of Crockford’s.

The Macaronis were replaced by the Beaux; the Beaux in their turn by
the more florid Dandies; until, at last, in the ’seventies, appeared
the “Swells,” the heavy, if grand, Blunderbores, sworn to bachelor
indulgence, who thought that “every woman should marry, but no man,”
the exception only being if a girl sprang from “an affectionate family,
with good shooting and first-rate claret.” Disraeli was interested
in the “swells.” In a measure he had created them, because he had
reconciled the people to the nobles, and the “swell” was a term
embodying the people’s homage. But in this phase Disraeli saw something
comic and barbaric. “St. Aldegonde,” himself a gigantic “swell,” could
not bear the “swells.” When he met them he described them as “a social
jungle in which there was a great herd of animals.”

And with the “swells” began something of that “free-and-easiness”
which hails from modern Columbia, and has now leavened society with
its licence and its slang. “Free-and-easiness is all very well,” once
laughed Disraeli to a friend, “but why not be a little freer and a
little less easy?” “His spirit,” he says of “Coningsby,” “recoiled from
that gross familiarity that is the characteristic of modern manners,
and which would destroy all forms and ceremonies, merely because
they curb and control their own coarse convenience and ill-disguised
selfishness.” With the “swells” came also another social change--the
diffusion not only of wealth, but of taste. A great lady assures
“Lothair” that he will be surprised to see so many well-dressed and
good-looking people at the opera, that he never beheld before.

Political society pervades all Disraeli’s novels. Only two phases of
it need here be mentioned. The tiny coteries who dine together twice
a week and “think themselves a party.” They appear in _Sybil_; they
reappear in _Endymion_. And the breakfast gatherings of the ’forties,
peculiar, as Disraeli noted, to Liberals. “It shows a restless,
revolutionary mind,” mocks “Lady Firebrace,” “that can settle to
nothing, but must be running after gossip the moment they are awake.”
But two sayings, not directly with regard to society, may in this
connection, however, be recorded. Both are from _The Young Duke_. “...
He was always offended and always offending. Such a man could never
succeed as a politician--a character who, of all others, must learn
to endure, to forget, and to forgive.” The second was prophetic: “One
thing is clear--that a man may speak very well in the House of Commons
and fail very completely in the House of Lords. There are two distinct
styles requisite. I intend in the course of my career, if I have time,
to give a specimen of both. In the Lower House, ‘Don Juan’ may perhaps
be our model; in the Upper House, ‘Paradise Lost.’”

As for club existence, the “lounging, languid men who spend their time
in crossing from Brooks’s to Boodle’s and from Boodle’s to Brooks’s,”
has he not characterised “those middle-aged nameless gentlemen of
easy circumstances, who haunt clubs and dine a great deal at each
others’ houses and chambers; men who travel regularly a little, and
gossip regularly a great deal; who lead a sort of facile, slipshod
existence, doing nothing, yet mightily interested in what others do;
_great critics of little things_ ... peering through the window of a
club-house as if they were discovering a planet”? And as for civic
hospitality, he sums it up best, perhaps, in the _Endymion_ epigram:
“Turtle makes all men equal.”

He felt all along that, after all, true society is at home, and not
with “polished ruffians;” the “courtesy of the heart” was preferable
to that “of the head.” “My idea of perfect society,” says “Lothair,”
“is being married, as I propose, and paying visits to Brentham;” or, as
Disraeli varies the theme in the same novel, “I am fond of society that
pleases me, that is accomplished and natural and ingenious; otherwise I
prefer being alone.” Home, he thought, should be the centre of society,
and a homeless society was not one at all. It is very noticeable, in
comparing present with past fiction, how the English sense of home and
flicker of the fireside, which used to warm every page, has receded
out of view before the motor-speed and nervous restlessness of the
age. His home-fondness was touchingly displayed after the death of his
wife by his reply to a friend, who asked if he were driving home--a
reply accompanied by tears; “Home! I have no home _now_.” Nor did any
great man ever reserve the sanctities of the hearth more completely
from a prying public. The purity of his home affections was one of Mr.
Gladstone’s notes of eulogy in the funeral oration that he delivered
in the House to which Disraeli had been proudly devoted for forty-five
long years. There are scores of sayings and episodes in his books, from
_Vivian Grey_ downwards, regarding the home affections; many charming
touches, too, in his letters to his sister. But I content myself with
one, from _Venetia_--

“... After all, we have no friends that we can depend upon in this life
but our parents.... All other intimacies, however ardent, are liable
to cool; all other confidence, however limited, to be violated. In
the phantasmagoria of life, the friend with whom we have cultivated
mutual trust for years is often suddenly or gradually estranged from
us, or becomes, from painful yet irresistible circumstances, even
our deadliest foe. As for women ... the mistresses of our hearts,
who has not learnt that the links of passion are fragile as they are
glittering?... Where is the enamoured face that smiled upon our early
love, and was to shed tears over our grave?... No wonder we grow
callous, for how few have the opportunity of returning to the hearth
which they quitted in levity or thoughtless weariness, yet which alone
is faithful to them; whose sweet affections require not the stimulus
of prosperity or fame, the lure of accomplishments or the tribute of
flattery, but which are constant to us in distress, and console us even
in disgrace!”

I ought, perhaps, to add a word of Disraeli’s ideas on love and
marriage. No one set more store by, or laid more store on, the deciding
influence of woman on man’s career. No one recognised more heartily a
woman’s instinctive superiority to logic. How good is the humour in
that dressing-room scene of the ’seventies in _Lothair_:--

“... The gentlemen of the smoking-room have it not all their own way
quite as much as they think. If, indeed, a new school of Athens were
to be pictured, the sages and the students might be represented in
exquisite dressing-gowns, with slippers rarer than the lost one of
Cinderella, and brandishing beautiful brushes over tresses still more
fair. Then is the time when characters are never more finely drawn, or
difficult social questions more accurately solved; knowledge without
reasoning, and truth without logic--the triumph of intuition! But we
must not profane the mysteries of Bona Dea.”

To women, moreover, he, like “Coningsby,” “instinctively bowed as
to beings set apart for reverence and delicate treatment,” but
disillusions chequered his experience. In maturity he could undoubtedly
“conceive that there were any other women in the world than fair
Geraldines and Countesses of Pembroke.” While Lord Randolph Churchill
was still alive, a young man--now an eminent Liberal statesman, and
then in the thick of a passionate courtship--poured out his heart to
him as they walked home together from the House. Lord Randolph reminded
him of what Disraeli had once observed to himself, that two of the
great elements in life were passion and power; that in youth the first
prevailed, but that, as years proceeded, the last proved incomparable.
He once said in his early youth that most of the distinguished men
of his acquaintance who had married “for love” bullied or maltreated
their wives; and he also remarked at an early period that the man who
wishes to rule mankind must not marry a too beautiful wife, who would
divide his time and his will. Long afterwards, in the devotion of his
home, Mrs. Disraeli would rally him by saying, “You know you married
me for money, and I know that now, if you had to do it again, you
would marry me for love.” It will be recalled, too, that “Sidonia,”
though he had a heart, indulged his deeper emotions more towards
causes than individuals. “In his organisation there was a peculiarity,
perhaps a great deficiency.” And yet Disraeli wrote: “We know not how
it is, but love at first sight is a subject of constant ridicule, but
somehow we suspect that it has more to do with the affairs of this
world than the world is willing to own.”--“Where we do not respect, we
soon cease to love; when we cease to love, virtue weeps and flies.”
I think that real love as the base of marriage is more genuinely, as
well as romantically, portrayed in _Venetia_ that in any of his works.
In those pages it really moves us instead of moving before us, as it
often does, even in the “love story” of _Henrietta Temple_. One of his
early hobbies, too, was that men ought to marry early, as a source of
strength and simplicity both to the affections and to the race. This
is emphasised in _Contarini Fleming_. The passage is striking, and
illustrates his deeper ideas on the whole subject: “To a man who is in
love the thought of another woman is uninteresting, if not repulsive.
Constancy is human nature. Instead of love being the occasion of all
the misery of this world, as is sung by fantastic bards, _I believe
that the misery of this world is occasioned by there not being love
enough_.... Happiness is only to be found in a recurrence to the
principles of human nature, and these will prompt very simple manners.
For myself, I believe that permanent unions of the sexes should be
early encouraged; nor do I conceive that general happiness can ever
flourish but in societies where it is the custom for all males to
marry at eighteen. This custom, I am informed, is not unusual in the
United States of America, and its consequence is a simplicity of
manners and purity of conduct _which Europeans cannot comprehend, but
to which they must ultimately have recourse_. Primeval barbarism and
extreme civilisation must arrive at the same results. Men under these
circumstances are actuated by their structure; in the first instance
instinctively, in the second philosophically. At present[168] we are
all in the various gradations of the intermediate state of corruption.”

At all events, his own compositions were conspicuously spotless; and
it may be said of him, as it was of Addison--so unlike otherwise--“No
whiter page remains.”

Such, then, are some of Disraeli’s main ideas on the outward forms and
inward spirit of society. Fashionable “society” he played with, and
he used--it amused him; but he never cherished, rather he scorned it.
Power he valued; and fame--“the opinion of mankind after death”--for
him meant power. There was once a certain rather fussy Radical member
who had long been anxious to make his acquaintance. When _Lothair_
appeared, he rushed up to Disraeli excitedly, with many apologies
for the intrusion, and begged him to receive the assurance of his
daughter’s intense admiration for that work. “Thank you ever so much,”
returned Disraeli, “_and this is fame_!”

When the gorgeous trinket was in his grasp, and he was at the zenith
of his eminence, I have already recorded an impressive instance. I may
contrast with this another picture, also of a fact already chronicled
in the interesting recollections of a young associate of his old age.
It will bear repetition. The scene was Hughenden in late autumn, the
time, after Lady Beaconsfield’s death. He sat in reverie before the
fire, watching the flickering embers. “Dreams, dreams, dreams,” he
murmured, as the wreaths of smoke and the sparks of flame went upwards.
He was thinking of his favourite Sheridans, by whose own fireside, and
basking in whose sunshine of wit and beauty, so many of his happiest
evenings had been spent forty years agone. And perhaps, also, he was
thinking of that charming daughter of Lord Lyndhurst, whose pet name
tallied with his own sister’s; and possibly, too, of that little
Frances Braham, whom he had known in girlhood, and whom, after she,
too, had carved a career, he still knew and admired as Frances, Lady
Waldegrave.

Yet one more dissolving view--

The scene shifts again to London and a Foreign Office reception, with
its gaping throng. It was the last function that Lady Beaconsfield,
frail with age and bent with rheumatism, was able to attend. Step by
step, all the way down that long staircase, he himself planted her
feet and tenderly supported her feeble frame, till, when she reached
the end, he presented to her a youth of promise, since a member of
ministries, who will still remember it.

Yes, it was companionship, not “society,” that was precious to him. And
trial proves friendship.

“‘Since I last met you, I heard you had seen much and suffered
much.’--‘And that makes the kind thoughts of friends more
precious.’--‘You have, however, a great many things which ought to make
you happy.’--‘I do not deserve to be happy, for I have made so many
mistakes....’--‘Take a brighter and a nobler view of your life.... Feel
rather that you have been tried and not found wanting.’”

[Illustration: DISRAELI IN 1852

_After a painting by Sir Francis Grant, P.R.A._]



CHAPTER IX

LITERATURE

WIT, HUMOUR, ROMANCE


Whatever Disraeli wrote was always literature, and never lecture. He
was a born man of letters, and Dickens once lamented that politics had
so long and often deprived fiction of a master.

Disraeli is renowned for his wit; but he is not so generally famed for
two qualities in which he excelled, though with limitations--his subtle
sense of humour and his fine feeling for the picturesque and romantic.

Like his own “Sidonia,” Disraeli “said many things that were strange,
yet they instantly appeared to be true;” like his own “Pinto,” he “had
the art of viewing common things in a fanciful light.” I shall notice
both these characteristics. He believed in the force of phrases as a
pollen, so to speak, of ideas wafted through the air; and he believed
in the perpetual miracles of existence. His favourite English authors
were the romantics of Queen Elizabeth and the wits of Queen Anne and
the Georges.

It was once said that wit is a point, but humour a straight line.
This epigram is inadequate. Wit is no _résumé_ of humour; the two
qualities differ in kind. Wit is a department of style; and style
is gesture, accent, expression. Wit is the faculty of combining the
unlike, by the language of illustration, suggestion, and surprise.
It sums up characters, things, and ideas. Like misery, “it yokes
strange bedfellows,” but with the link of words alone. It is best when
intellectually true, but its requisite is _fancy_, and its domain
expression. Humour, on the other hand, is an exercise of perceptive
sympathy; it is the faculty of discerning the incongruous, especially
of human nature, in the visible alone; it “looks on this picture and
on that;” it is most excellent when ethically sound, but its essence is
insight, and its sphere, situation.

No one ever heard of a witty picture, or a humorous epigram. We laugh
at humour, whereas at wit we smile. Wit is, as it were, Yorick with cap
and bells; but humour unmasks him with a moral. Popular proverbs are
the wit of the people; what the crowd laughs at is its humour, and its
humour varies in different countries; but the standard of wit is the
same in all civilisations. To define wit and humour would require both
qualities, but, if I were to try my hand, I would venture to call wit,
mirth turned philosopher--humour, philosophy at play.

Disraeli’s wit is at root arabesque. Its filagree flourishes, like the
ornaments of the Alhambra, are supported by solid if slender pillars.
It is fanciful grace sustained by a poised strength; but it is also
tempered by the cheery, if sententious, cynicism of the eighteenth
century, in which he had steeped himself from childhood. Its source was
racial; but its form and colour were much influenced by Pope, Swift,
and Voltaire. He was “a master of sentences.” He delighted to condense
thought, as it were, in civilised proverbs, and at the same time to let
his terse fancy[169] embellish it with subtle and airy flourishes. His
paradoxes are almost always thought in a nutshell, and never obscure
nonsense in a clever frame. Of his directer wit, a good instance is to
be found in his repartee to the crowd at his early Marylebone election:
“On what do you stand?” “_My head._” Or his remark on the member who
solemnly assured the House that he “took” his “stand” on “progress.”
“It occurred to me that progress was a somewhat slippery thing to take
one’s stand on.” When the late Mr. Beresford Hope’s rather turgid
remark on the “golden image set up on the sands of Arabia” provoked
Disraeli’s famous phrase, its accompaniment was equally good. He said
that there was “a certain prudery” about the honourable member’s
eloquence which never failed to fascinate.[170] The great Catholic
lady who received her guests “with extreme unction” reminds one of
Horace Walpole.

Wit, of whatever class, is, roughly speaking, twofold in
degree--lightning wit and wit lambent--the wit that strikes sharply,
and the pleasantry that shines around its object. In the first Disraeli
excelled. Like his own Monsignor, he “sparkles with anecdote and
blazes with repartee.” His pages bristle with good things; it is hard
to choose. Every one remembers his political retorts and his literary
aphorisms. “One whom I will not say that I respect, but rather that I
regard.” Another, “Who has learned much, but has still to learn that
petulance is not sarcasm, nor insolence invective.” The “conjuror who
advances to the edge of the platform, and for hours draws yards of red
tape from his mouth.” One quotation against Peel--“Always ready with
his Virgil”--that of the Horatian “Vectabor tunc humeris;” and “Is
England to be governed by Popkins’ plan?” “Batavian Grace,” “Superior
Person,” and the like. Then there are the drunken recruits “full of
spirit;” the hansom, the “gondola of London;” the critics, “the men
who have failed;”[171] Tadpole’s, “Tory men and Whig measures;” and
Rigby’s, “little words in great capitals”--these are household words.
“Our young Queen, and our old institutions.” There are Diplomatists,
“the Hebrews of politics;” St. James’s Square, “the Faubourg St.
Germain of London;” the “bad politician” of the ’thirties, who “like
a bad shilling has worn off his edge by his very restlessness,” and
the enlightened Whig minister “almost eructating with the plenary
inspiration of the spirit of the age;” the men of the ’seventies who
“played with billiard-balls games that were not billiards,” and the
lady of the ’forties who “sacrificed even her lovers to her friends;”
stolid bores, our “Social Polyphemi;” books, “the curse of the human
race;” of Austria, “two things made her a nation, she was German
and she was a Catholic, and now she is neither;” of the Reform Bill,
“It gave to Manchester a bishop and to Birmingham a dandy.” And,
less familiar, there is “Lord Squib’s” definition of money value,
“very dear;” “Count Mirabel’s” pleasantry, “coffee and confidence;”
“Essper George’s,” “Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I
remember, and remembered more than I have seen;” Venus, the “goddess
of watering-places,” and “Burlington” with “his old loves and new
dances.” There is the advice in _The Young Duke_, too, that “good
fortune with good management, no country house and no children, is
Aladdin’s lamp,” and that in _Lothair_ to “go into the country for the
first note of the nightingale and return to town for the first muffin
bell.” Then there is the “treatise on a subject in which everybody
is interested, in a style no one understands;” and there are the
French actresses averring at supper, “No language makes you so thirsty
as French;” the English tradesmen who “console themselves for not
getting their bills paid by inviting their customers to dinner;” the
Utilitarian, whose dogma was “Rules are general, feelings are general,
and property should be general;” and the definition of Liberty, “Do
as others do, and never knock men down.” There is Monmouth’s “some
woman has got hold of him and made him a Whig.” There is the great
political lady “who liked handsome people, even handsome women;” and
there is the unfortunate third-rate statesman, “who committed suicide
from a want of imagination.” Nor should I omit an unprinted _mot_. He
defined a political “Deputation” as “a noun of multitude meaning many,
but not signifying much.” He was wont also to distinguish between
“lawyers” and “legislators.” A brace of very witty similes also
claim a mention here--the comparison of the Parliament-built region
of Harley Square to “a large family of plain children with Portland
Place and Portman Square for their respectable parents;” and that of
the detached breakfast-tables at “Brentham,” to “a cluster of Greek
or Italian Republics, instead of a great metropolitan table, like a
central government, absorbing all the genius and resources of society.”
Further, in the same category are the many metaphorical allusions and
descriptions that ornament his speeches. The transference of the
Bank currency crisis to the Neapolitan procession and miracle of St.
Januarius, both from a common cause, “congealed circulation;” the
picture of a maladroit reinforcement of opposition as the exploit of
the Turkish Admiral, summoned by the Sultan and blessed by the muftis,
to retrieve the war, who yet steered his imposing fleet right into the
enemy’s port; and the many illustrations from Cervantes, whose irony
they share.

Then, again, there are those terse figurative fancies which belong
to the family of those first mentioned. The “Midland Sea” for the
Mediterranean; the “Western minster” for Westminster Abbey; the “dark
sex” for man; the “free-trader in gossip” for the bad listener; the
“confused explanations and explained confusions,” “Stateswoman”[172]
and “Anecdotage,” which, by-the-by, is a phrase of Isaac Disraeli
derived by him in conversation from Rogers[173]--all these and their
kindred remind us that he was the son of an author portrayed by him as
sauntering on his garden terrace meditating some happy phrase.

Of the second--the wit of sustained sparkle rather than of sudden
flashes--there are abundant examples. There is the passage in which
“Lady Constance” in _Tancred_ unconsciously ironises evolution in her
criticism of a pamphlet, “The Revelations of Chaos.” There is the
lady’s reasoning on the Gulf Stream theory, and “Lothair’s” retort,
“You believe in Gulf Stream to that extent--no skating.” There is the
pious regret that a boring authoress could not be married to the author
of “The Letters of Junius” and “have done with it;” and the pious hope
that the Whigs would disfranchise every town without a Peel statue.
Then, again, there is “Herbert” in _Venetia_.

“I doubt whether a man at fifty is the same material being that he is
at five-and-twenty.”

“I wonder,” said Lord Cadurcis, “if a creditor brought an action
against you at fifty for goods sold and delivered at five-and-twenty,
one could set up the want of identity as a plea in bar; it would be a
consolation to elderly gentlemen.”

And to go back to an even earlier date--

“What a pity, Miss Manvers, that the fashion has gone out of selling
one’s self to the devil!... _What a capital plan for younger brothers!_
It is a kind of thing I have been trying to do all my life, and
never could succeed in. I began at school with toasted cheese and a
pitchfork.”

Or take the report of the debate in the House of Lords, “imposing,
particularly if we take a part in it”--

“Lord Exchamberlain thought the nation going on wrong, and he made a
speech full of currency and constitution. Baron Deprivyseal seconded
him with great effect, brief but bitter, satirical but sore. The Earl
of Quarterday answered these, full of confidence in the nation and
himself. When the debate was getting heavy, Lord Snap jumped up to
give them something light. The Lords do not encourage wit, and so
are obliged to put up with pertness. But Viscount Memoir was very
statesmanlike, and spouted a sort of universal history. Then there was
Lord Ego, who vindicated his character, when nobody knew he had one,
and explained his motives, because his auditors could not understand
his acts.”

Or the comparison of the defeated Tories to the Saxons converted by
Charlemagne--

“... When the Emperor appeared, instead of conquering, he converted
them. How were they converted? In battalions; the old chronicler
informs us they were converted in battalions, and baptised in platoons.
It was utterly impossible to bring these individuals from a state of
reprobation to one of grace with sufficient celerity.”

In his speeches again there is the _locus classicus_ of “the range
of exhausted volcanoes”--“not a flame flickers on a single pallid
crest.” There are the wonderful political pictures of the “Calabrian
Earthquake,” the “ragged regiment that would not march through
Coventry--that’s flat;” “Melbourne with his Reform Ministry and
Ducrow still professing to ride on three sullen jackasses at once,
but sprawling in the sawdust of the arena;” of Peel as the profligate
deserting his mistress and “sending down his valet to say, ‘I will
have no whining here,’” and a hundred others as good.[174] Perhaps
“Gamaliel, with all the broad ‘phylacteries on his forehead,’
who ‘comes down to tell us that he is not as other men are,’ in
reference to the ‘Cabal’ of 1859, should also be included. This is the
‘parliamentary wit’ which Gladstone avowed unrivalled, and these, the
vivid illustrations and metaphors, which he declared supreme in power
of ‘summing up characters and situations,’ and fraught with the gift of
‘appealing to the ear and the fancy.’”

But there is also one from _The Press_ of 1853 which is unknown, and
claims a memorial. He is referring to the “Coalition” Ministry of
1853--one, as he calls it, of “suspended opinions,” and “resembling the
ark into which creatures of the most opposite species walked two by
two.” It singles out a magnificent “over-educated mediocrity” among the
strait sect of the “Peelites”--those who in Lady Clanricarde’s epigram
“were always putting themselves up to auction and buying themselves
in again.” It satirises that leader’s protest that he was still a
“Conservative,” his announced “regret at the rupture of ancient ties,”
his “hope of some future reunion”--

“... Amiable regret! Honourable hope! reminding us of those inhabitants
of the South Sea Islands, who never devour their enemies--that would be
paying them too great a compliment. They eat up only their own friends
and relations with an appetite proportioned to the love that they bear
to them. And then they hasten to deck themselves in the feathers and
trappings of those thus tenderly devoured in memorial of their regret
at the ‘rupture of ancient ties,’ and their ‘hope of some future
reunion.’ Do you feel quite safe with your new ally? Do you not dread
that the same affectionate tooth will some day be fastened upon your
own shoulders?’”

No wonder that Lord Granville--“un radical qui aime la bonne
societé”--described Disraeli as a “master” in the literary expression
of “praise and blame.”

Last, though not least, should be mentioned Pinto’s dictum on English--

“It is an expressive language, but not difficult to master. Its range
is limited. It consists, so far as I can observe, of four words,
“nice,” “jolly,” “charming,” and “bore;” and some grammarians add
“fond.”

But none knew better than Disraeli that wit unrelieved is metallic. He
had a very real perception of the ludicrous, and it was usually of a
cast bordering on irony. In boyhood, Disraeli had been a great admirer
of Montaigne, one of those authors, as he acknowledged, who “give a
spring to the mind;” but I cannot discern any influence of Montaigne’s
twinkling stillness on Disraeli’s humour. The humour of Molière and of
Sheridan, like that of Fielding, of Hogarth, and of Dickens, is direct
and didactic, pointing to the follies and foibles of mankind. That,
on the other hand, of Sterne, often of Thackeray, always of Heine, is
indirect, inclined to be sentimental, and insinuating with all the
machinery of playful surprise, the inconsistencies that enlist feeling
or awaken thought. Swift’s grim and creative humour, also, that “knocks
off the tallest of heads” with a knotted bludgeon, wielded, however,
by an imaginative fierceness, is of the same order; and Swift had been
early studied, was constantly quoted, and often imitated by Disraeli.
The former is the broadsword of Cœur de Lion; the latter, the scimitar
of Saladin. It is of this latter species that Disraeli at his best must
be reckoned. It stamps the whole of _Popanilla_, and much of _Ixion_,
and _The Infernal Marriage_, and it interleaves both his wit, his
argument, and his reflection throughout his novels, and, conspicuously
in his triumph, _Coningsby_.

Take “Lord Monmouth’s” indignant lesson to the hero: “You go with your
family, sir, like a gentleman. _You are not to consider your opinions
like a philosopher or a political adventurer_;” or the motive for his
bequest of his bust to “Rigby,” “that he might perhaps wish to present
it to another friend;” or the same amiable nobleman’s reason for
esteeming besides appreciating “Sidonia”--he was so rich that he could
not be bought. “A person or a thing that you perhaps could not buy,
became,” in his eyes, “invested with a kind of halo amounting almost
to sanctity.” “Lord Monmouth,” indeed, and “Rigby” are Disraeli’s
masterpieces in this vein; and “Mrs. Guy Flouncey,” who, like “Becky,”
“was always sure of an ally the moment the gentlemen entered the
drawing-room,” follows at no very remote distance. Take “Waldershare’s”
account of England’s ascendency:--

“I must say it was a grand idea of our Kings making themselves
sovereigns of the sea. _The greater portion of this planet is water, so
we at once became a first-rate power._”

Or the Homeric simplicity of the “Ansary” tribe, who believe London to
be surrounded by sea, and inquire if the English dwell in ships, and
are thus corrected by their would-be interpreter “Keferinis”--

“The English live in ships only during six months of the
year--principally when they go to India--the rest entirely at their
country houses.”

Similarly, too, is the oblique sarcasm of “_Tancred’s_” “Fakredeen”--

“... We ought never to be surprised at anything that is done by the
English, who are, after all, in a certain sense, savages.... Everything
they require is imported from other countries.... I have been assured
at Beiroot that they do not grow even their own cotton; but that I can
hardly believe. _Even their religion is an exotic, and, as they are
indebted for that to Syria, it is not surprising they should import
their education from Greece._”

So, too, the piteous plight of the two honest servants--“Freeman
and Trueman”--who complain to their master, in sight of Sinai, that
they “do miss the ‘ome-brewed ale and the family prayers;” and the
twice-raised wonder of the “Swells” as to what could drag one of
their compeers to Palestine: “I believe Jeremiah somewhere mentions
partridges.” Nor should “St. Aldegonde’s sigh”--“of a rebellious
Titan”--at refusing to attend morning church at Brentham be forgotten:
“Sunday in London is bad, but Sunday in the country is infernal;” or
his dainty wife’s elaborate efforts that he should never be bored;
or the handsome Duke’s[175] daily thanksgiving as he completed his
“consummate toilette” that he had a family “worthy of him.”

“Rigby’s” election, too--an excellent example--well illustrates the man
to whom the country meant nothing in comparison with the constituency,
and to whom his titled patron’s choice of him as executor was a
“sublime truth.” The whole scene is one of sustained humour. I will
only cite “Rigby’s” “grand peroration.”

“... He assured them that the eyes of the whole empire were on this
particular election (cries of ‘That’s true!’ on all sides), and England
expected every man to do his duty. ‘_And who do you expect to do
yours_,’ inquired a gentleman below, ‘_about that ’ere pension?_’...”

Then again, the episode of the Justice of the Peace in _Venetia_, and
this from _Endymion_--

“The chairman opened the proceedings, but was coldly received, though
he spoke sensibly and at some length. He then introduced a gentleman
who was absolutely an alderman to move a resolution.... The august
position of the speaker atoned for his halting rhetoric; and a city
which had only just for the first time been invested with municipal
privileges was hushed before a man who might in time even become a
mayor.”

So, too, once more; the description of “Armine’s” experiences in the
sponging-house, where the only literature was a Hebrew Bible. This is
from _Henrietta Temple_. In _Vivian Grey_, his first novel, occurs the
same whimsical humour that is to be found in his last, _Endymion_.
The German statesman is pointing a _gourmet_-metaphysician, “stuffing
‘kalte schale’ in a corner.”

“... The leaven of the idealists, a pupil of the celebrated Fichte....
The first principle of this school is to reject all expressions which
incline in the slightest degree to substantiality.... Matter is his
great enemy. My dear sir, observe how exquisitely Nature revenges
herself on these capricious and fantastic children. Methinks that the
best answer to the idealism of M. Fichte is to see his pupil devouring
_kalte schale_.”

In _Lothair_ few will forget the hero’s musings after the opera
attendant’s “Thank you, my lord” had attested the “overpowering
honorarium.”

“‘He knows me,’ thought Lothair; but it was not so. When the British
nation is at once grateful and enthusiastic, they always call you
‘my lord.’” And in the same novel occurs the admirable humour of the
scene at Muriel Towers, where the new French dance which is remembered
and at last arranged by the impromptu good humour and cleverness of
“Theodora,” is muddled by “Lord Carisbrook,” who sums up his knowledge
by “Newest thing in Paris,” yet, notwithstanding, grins afterwards,
quite self-satisfied, with his “I am glad I remembered it.”

There remains this light thrust at London architecture--

“Shall we find refuge in a committee of taste, escape from the
mediocrity of one to the mediocrity of many?... One suggestion might
be made. No profession in England has done its best until it has
furnished its victim. The pure administration of justice dates from the
deposition of Macclesfield.... Even our boasted navy never achieved a
victory until we shot an admiral. _Suppose an architect were hanged!_”

And, finally, how admirable is the mock epic of the _chef’s_ dilemma at
the opening of _Tancred_: “It is worthy of Boileau.”

“... ‘What you learned from me,’ says Papa Prevost, ‘came at least
from a good school. It is something to have served under Napoleon,’ he
added, with the grand air of the imperial kitchen. ‘Had it not been
for Waterloo, I should have had the cross. _But the Bourbons and the
Cooks of the Empire never could understand each other._ They brought
over an emigrant _chef_ who did not comprehend the taste of the age.
He wished to bring everything back to the time of the “_œil-de-bœuf_.”
_When Monsieur passed my soup of Austerlitz untasted, I knew the old
family was doomed._.’... ‘We must muster all our forces,’ says the
great Leander. ‘There is a want not only of genius but of men in our
art. The Cooks are like the civil engineers: since the middle class
have taken to giving dinners, the demand exceeds the supply.’ ‘There
is Andrien,’ said Papa Prevost; ‘you had some hopes of him.’ ‘He is
too young. I took him to Hellingsley, and he lost his head on the
third day. I entrusted the _soufflés_ to him, and but for the most
desperate personal exertions, all would have been lost. _It was an
affair of the Bridge of Arcola._’...” How Lilliput and Brobdingnag here
combine! I prefer this epic-fantasy to the lyric-fantasy of Thackeray’s
“Mirobolant.”

When Disraeli was out of office for the last term, he was walking with
a leading member of the Government that had replaced his own. The
statesman asked him how he thought the new Administration was getting
on. “Pretty well,” was his answer, “but I like the old-fashioned
methods. The first year you do nothing; the second year you talk
of doing something; the third year you do something--and succeed;
the fourth you do something--and fail; the fifth year you spend in
discussing whether it was a failure or not; the sixth, you go to the
country, _who pronounce that it was_.”

Most of these are to some degree fanciful _persiflage_. Not so the
following--a passage alluded to in a note already, and compared
with another one from Heine. He is describing the Vintage Feast of
Tabernacles, and the passage is the more remarkable because Disraeli’s
father instances this very festival as one of the obsolete and
fanatical absurdities that unfit the Old Testament religion for its
proper fulfilment by the New:--

“Picture to yourself the child of Israel in the dingy suburb or the
stolid quarter of some bleak Northern town, where there is never a sun
that can at any rate ripen grapes; yet he must celebrate the vintage
of purple Palestine.... He rises in the morning, goes early to some
Whitechapel market, purchases some willow boughs for which he has
previously given a commission, and which are brought probably from one
of the neighbouring rivers of Essex, hastens home, cleans out the yard
of his miserable tenement, builds his bower, decks it even profusely
with the finest flowers and fruit he can procure, and hangs its roof
with variegated lamps. After the service of his synagogue, he sups late
with his wife and children, as if he were in the pleasant villages of
Galilee beneath its sweet and starry sky.... Perhaps as he is offering
up the peculiar thanksgiving, ... and his wife and children are joining
in a pious ‘Hosanna’--that is, ‘Save us’--_a party of Anglo-Saxons,
very respectable men, ten-pounders, a little elevated, it may be,
though certainly not in honour of the vintage, pass the house, and
words like these are heard: ‘I say, Buggins, what’s that row?’ ‘Oh,
it’s those cursed Jews! We’ve a lot of them. It’s one of their horrible
feasts. The Lord Mayor ought to interfere. However, things are not so
bad as they used to be. They used always to crucify little boys at
their hullabaloos, but now they only eat sausages made of stinking
pork.’ ‘To be sure,’ replies his companion, ‘we all make progress.’_”

And there are many pendants to this kind of pathetic humour in the sad
vagaries, degraded ignorance, sordid joys and squalid sorrows of the
operatives of “Wodgate” so sympathetically presented in _Sybil_:--

“... ‘They call me Tummas, but I ayn’t got no second name; but now I’m
married I mean to take my wife’s, for she has been baptised, and so
has got two.’ ‘Yes, sir,’ said the girl with the vacant face and the
back like a grasshopper, ‘I be a reg’lar born Christian, and my mother
afore me, and that’s what few gals in the yard can say. Thomas will
take to it himself when work is slack; and he believes now in Our Lord
and Saviour Pontius Pilate, who was crucified to save our sins, and
in Moses, Goliath, and the rest of the apostles.’ ‘Ah, me!’ thought
Morley, ‘and could not they spare one missionary from Tahiti for their
fellow-countrymen at Wodgate?’”

       *       *       *       *       *

I must turn to the romantic and the picturesque in Disraeli’s fiction.
It is a large subject, but it need not necessitate a long treatment.

The Brontës and Bulwer Lytton, in opposed spheres and with opposite
material, are perhaps the only modern pure romantics in English
fiction, before the romantic revival of the last twenty years or
so had set in. In the early nineteenth century Sir Walter Scott had
headed another romantic revival. Miss Austen, however,--the miniaturist
of realism--recalled fiction in her delicate manner to the beaten
high-road of the eighteenth. Dickens, romantic by instinct, dwelt on
the horrible and grotesque, and was more melodramatic than strictly
romantic. Thackeray, sternly combating the infinite romance of his
own nature, disclaimed a hero, and proved sentimental rather than
romantic. Trollope, who photographed feeling, abominated romance.
George Eliot set out as a romantic, but she soon became gloriously
whelmed in the vortex of scientific psychology. Others, who lack her
imagination, have since followed in her track. We have been treated to
analytic presentations of life, where some five persons engage in a
mutual war of motive, and the very reasons for turning a door-handle
are minutely involved in character. On the one hand, we had the
English and French sensationalists elaborately unravelling mysteries;
on the other, the boudoir psychologists as elaborately anatomising
moods. The great “naturalist” school supervened with its claims to
scientise misery. Victor Hugo’s romanticism was doomed by the merciless
lancet of these literary surgeons. And throughout--even now, in the
main, using “romance” more with regard to situation and expression
than to events--the purely and simply heroic and adventurous has
lost ground. Mind rather than action engrossed a great part of late
nineteenth-century fiction.

With all faults, native and imposed, Disraeli proclaimed in his novels,
in those which were political fairy-tales, as in those which were not,
“adventures are to the adventurous;” and this very phrase, too, occurs
in his earliest satire. _Contarini Fleming_ was originally styled “The
Psychological Romance;” _Alroy_ is undoubtedly a romance historical;
_The Young Duke_, a romance of fashion; _Vivian Grey_, one both of
fashion and of ambition; _Venetia_, of biography; _Henrietta Temple_,
of love; and the rest, romances of the world’s actors and action.

But the extraordinary is merely the mantle of romanticism proper.
Its method is everything. It is one that brings up before us at
once the thing seen and the man seeing. It releases individuality
from stereotyped shackles, it transfers interest from achievement to
achievement’s atmosphere, and it lends to landscape-painting the same
element that it lends to character-drawing.

The French separate their terms in distinguishing between real
and feigned romance. The one they call _romantique_; the other,
_romanesque_. The really romantic in fiction is so to write as to
import into the interest of the extraordinary the interest also
of the author’s temperament. Both the unusual subject and the
imparted atmosphere are requisites. _Rasselas_ is an unusual subject
sententiously treated. It is parable, not romance. The _Song of the
Shirt_ is an, alas! commonplace theme transfigured by sympathy. It
is pathetic, not romantic. Sir Walter Scott, however, is romantic
_par excellence_. We are sure that his background is unusual, and he
stamps his individuality on the foreground. So, too, with his pictures
of scenery. The writer’s heart, rather than his head, pervades the
perspective. The unromantic author is a showman, the romantic author
an actor. The one fits character to persons; the other from persons
evolves character. The romantic reveals the wonderful to us by
personal feeling. Ruskin once defined the picturesque as “parasitical
sublimity;” Carlyle, too (as romantic and picturesque himself as
Ruskin), denounces the faculty in which he excelled. But these
thinkers failed, perhaps, to grasp that the root of the most beautiful
impressions is association interwoven with memory, fancy, affection,
even superstition, and the symbols of very names. Strip Venice of her
climate, rob man of his memory, and where is the Venice that Ruskin
adored? Absolute beauty does exist, but rarely; and we atone for
imperfections by supplementing it with the endearments of outward
accident. It is Nature’s own method; she garlands the rift of ruins
with her greenery. The dead letter sleeps in literature as in life, of
which literature ought to be the most sensitive mirror. Warmth is as
indispensable as light; and if fiction is to remain an art and not sink
into a false science, the dry bones of hard facts must be made to live.
By these means, too, the personal influence of great writers is most
practically preserved. The wonderful in Nature can never be unnatural.
It is only the affectation of it that is so--and that is usually
accompanied by Mrs. Malaprop’s “nice derangement of epitaphs.”

Now, so far as Disraeli’s characters merely typify--and they do
often--causes or movements, they are not romantic, however picturesque
their garb. But so far as they do not, they are essentially romantic,
and, where politicians in council are not concerned, this is constantly
the case.

Nothing can be more romantic, both in matter and manner, than the
first introduction of “Sidonia.” The “Princess Lucretia Colonna” in
_Coningsby_, is romance incarnate. “Morley,” again, in _Sybil_ is a
most romantic figure. The whole episode of the “Baronis,” in _Tancred_,
is genuinely and strikingly romantic. So is the figure of “Theodora”
in _Lothair_; and all these occur in political novels. But in the
non-political they abound. The early squibs are, perhaps, the only
romantic skits in our language. _Vivian Grey_, too, is full of romance,
and comprises the romantic drolleries of “Essper George,” a modern
Sancho. The whole of _Venetia_ and all the action of _Contarini_ are
romantic; so is his only and halting drama, _Alarcos_. Though at times,
and from causes which I shall consider, there is in these early novels
something of old Drury, and too much occasionally of the “Ha!-and-Pah!”
attitude, these are only blemishes in the costume; the figures remain
romantic.

But it is, perhaps, in the short but charming descriptions of character
and of scenery that Disraeli best showed his powers for the romantic
and the picturesque. Take the character of “Fakredeen;” take even the
character of Sir Robert Peel in the _Life of Lord George Bentinck_.
Take a hundred touches from his _Home Letters_, and those to his
sister and family. He there says that “description is a bore,” but he
contrived in a few strokes to picture without describing. The sunset
at Athens, “like the neck of a dove.” His vignettes of the Parthenon,
of the Lagoons, of Jerusalem, of Syria, both here and in _Contarini_,
_Tancred_, and _Lothair_, are etched by a master-hand.

Disraeli casts over his scenes the reflected glow of associative
feeling. Peruse the beautiful rendering of “Marney Abbey” in _Sybil_
(too long to quote). It is essentially a placid scene romantically
described, with an individual feeling of soft regret and tender awe
communicated to the dreamy landscape. It proves his delight in what he
called “the sweet order of country life;” his feeling for the “order of
the peasantry ... succeeded by a race of serfs who are called labourers
and burn ricks.”

If we would note the contrast in unromantic writers of genius, we have
only to re-read Jane Austen’s description of Northanger Abbey, where,
be it marked, in purposely deriding the false romance of a girl’s
sickly fancy, she must have desired to depict the demesne with every
impressive attribute.

And take this from _Tancred_: “Sometimes the land is cleared, and he
finds himself by the homestead of a forest farm.... Still advancing the
deer become rarer, and the road is formed by an avenue of chestnuts....
Persons are moving to and fro on the side-path of the road. Horsemen
and carts seem returning from market; women with empty baskets, and
then the rare vision of a stage-coach. The postillion spurs his horses,
cracks his whip, and dashes at full gallop into the town of Montacute,
the capital of the forest.... Nor does this green domain terminate till
it touches the vast and purple moors that divide the kingdoms of Great
Britain.”

The effects of light play a leading part in Disraeli’s landscapes.

“... Nor is there, indeed, a sight” (of Mont Blanc in _Contarini_)
“more lovely than to watch at decline of day the last embrace of the
sun lingering on the rosy glaciers. Soon, too soon, the great luminary
dies; the warm peaks subside into purple, and then die into a ghostly
white: but soon, and not too soon, the moon springs up from behind
a mountain, flings over the lake a stream of light, and the sharp
glaciers glitter like silver.”

This, too, of night in Venice--

“... The music and the moon reign supreme.... Around on every side are
palaces and temples rising from the waves which they shadow with their
solemn form, their costly fronts rich with the spoils of kingdoms and
softened with the magic of the midnight beam. The whole city, too, is
poured forth for festival. The people lounge on the quays and cluster
on the bridges; the light barks skim along in crowds, just touching the
surface of the water, while their bright prows of polished iron gleam
in the moonshine and glitter in the rippling wave. Not a sound that is
not graceful--the tinkle of guitars, the sighs of serenaders, and the
responsive chorus of gondoliers. Now and then a laugh, light, joyous,
and yet musical, bursts forth from some illuminated coffee-house,
before which a buffo disports....”

Here, again, is an English summer morning from _Sybil_--

“A bloom was spread over the morning sky; a soft golden light bathed
with its fresh sheen the bosom of the valley, except where a delicate
haze rather than a mist still partially lingered over the river,
which yet occasionally gleamed and sparkled in the sunshine. A sort
of shadowy lustre suffused the landscape, which, though distinct,
was mitigated in all its features--the distant woods, the clumps of
tall trees that rose about the old grey bridge, the cottage chimneys
that sent their smoke into the blue, still air, amid their clustering
orchards and gardens, flowers and herbs.”

There are many more such studies of light in home landscape, and not
least in _Lothair_. And these are all renderings of scenery, and not
scene-painting. In those abroad I might have included, too, the German
Twilight from _Vivian Grey_, and the Grecian Sunset from _Contarini_,
each dashed off with speed, yet each breathing a delicate and pensive
peace.

Another feature of his pencil is its fondness for and studied
conversance with the forms, and even the sounds, of trees. Their
“various voices” are introduced with effect into the storm in _Vivian
Grey_. As years went on, this love of trees grew stronger. It is
expressly mentioned as the hobby of his old age by Lady John Manners.
There is not one of his novels where the varieties of wood and forest
are not handled with distinctness and affectionate observation.
“Contarini’s” pet tree is oak. In _Endymion_ is a park entirely of
ilex. A glade at “Hurstley” is “bounded on each side with masses of
yew, their dark green forms now studded with crimson berries.” “Nigel
Penruddock,” the Tractarian, lolls “on the turf amid the old beeches
and the juniper;” and in the woods of a castle in _Vivian Grey_, “There
was the elm with its rich branches bending down like clustering grapes;
there was the wide-spreading oak with its roots fantastically gnarled;
there was the ash with its smooth bark, and the silver beech, and the
gracile birch, and the dark fir affording with its rough foliage a
contrast to the trunks of its more beautiful companions, or shooting
far above their branches with a spirit of freedom worthy of a rough
child of the mountains.” “Elegant” and “gracile” in this boyish sketch
are Johnsonese, it is true; but its romantic faculty is evident. He
delighted, too, in Elizabethan gardens and Italian parterres; and he
has drawn, both in outward and inward outline, suggestive and romantic
presentments of Oxford, Cambridge, and Eton.

And he could paint the marvellous to perfection. In _Alroy_, the magic
ravine over which the hero must cross to win his talisman, rises before
the view with the detail of reality: so does the ideal island of
_Popanilla_. So--and they really belong to the marvellous--do the great
country seats of “Montacute,” “Hellingsley,” “Beaumanoir,” “Alhambra,”
“Château Désir,” “Hainault,” “Princewood,” and “Muriel Towers.” There
are pictures, besides, of Seville, Cairo, and the Frankfort Fair.
I could have subjoined the flaming castle in _Sybil_, the Derby in
_Endymion_, the bull-fight in _Contarini_, the desert in _Alroy_, the
mountain storm in _Vivian Grey_. But I prefer his tranquil pictures,
and perhaps one of the best is the “Cherbury” in _Venetia_.

Another prominent characteristic of his romance was its fondness for
London and the suburbs, the beauty of which, he always held, was
only half appreciated. “Airy” Brompton and “merry” Kensington, with
its young Queen “in a palace in a garden,” touched his fancy; and
the Georgian pleasaunces of Roehampton, the antiquer abodes of Sheen
dedicated to Swift, Temple, and Stella, and the deer-haunted woodland
of Richmond Park still breathing of Anne, and Ormonde, Pope, and
Thomson, and Walpole; even, too, the Regency villas of Wimbledon.
A few romantic strokes in _Henrietta Temple_ thus etch the Park of
London:--

“At the end of a long sunny morning, ... where can we see such
beautiful women and gallant cavaliers, such fine horses and such
brilliant equipages? The scene, too, is worthy of such agreeable
accessories; the groves, the gleaming waters, and the triumphal arches.
In the distance the misty heights of Surrey and the bowery glades of
Kensington.” And readers of _Lothair_ will remember with what romance
he clothes an early June morning in Bond Street, and how, out of the
prismatic hues of the fishmonger’s shop, he weaves a garland of gay
fancies; nor will he forget St. James’s Street--that “celebrated
eminence” in _Endymion_. But it was more serious London that he admired
most. The foreign crannies of Soho and the dingy length of Marylebone
have both been explored by him. The Strand and the City purlieus,
however, were his favourites. The quaint sites, the busy romances of
the now grimy riverside, the historic names, the contrast of outside
flurry with inside repose, the dwelling-houses of a past age rich with
its art but now reserved for musty parchments or massive ledgers,
fascinated him. “It is at Charing Cross,” he avers, that “London
becomes more interesting.” This is how he limns one of finance’s
headquarters:--

“In a long, dark, narrow, crooked street, which is still called a
lane, and which runs from the south side of the street of the Lombards
towards the river, there is one of these old houses of a century
past.... A pair of massy iron gates of elaborate workmanship separates
the street from its spacious and airy courtyard, which is formed on
either side by a wing of the mansion, itself a building of deep red
brick, with a pediment and pilasters and copings of stone; in the
middle of the plot there is a small garden plot inclosing a fountain,
and a very fine plane tree. The stillness, doubly effective after the
tumult just quitted, the lulling voice of the water, the soothing
aspect of the quivering foliage, the noble building and the cool and
spacious quadrangle--the aspect even of those who enter, and frequently
enter, the precincts, and who are generally young men gliding in and
out earnest and full of thought--all contribute to give to this
locality something of the classic repose of a college, instead of a
place agitated with the most urgent interests of the current hour.”

London’s motley vastness, too, and magnetism of attraction were
constantly his themes. “... It is a wonderful place, ... this London; a
nation, not a city; with a population greater than some kingdoms, and
districts as different as if they were under different governments, and
spoke different languages.” And yet (of “Lothair”), “I have been living
here six months, and my life has been passed in a park, two or three
squares, and half a dozen streets!”

In _Vivian Grey_ Disraeli whimsically observed that literature was
declining in the ’twenties through a wealth grown so luxurious as to
rank it with “ottomans, bonbons, and pier-glasses.” “Consols at a
hundred were the origin of all book societies. There is nothing like a
fall in consols to bring the blood of our good people of England into
good order.”

Consols have now fallen, and maybe literature is reviving. Certain I
am that, when its revival becomes pronounced, it will be through the
invigoration of romance. The strange need not be sought in the remote.
Wordsworth found it in “laughing daffodils,” as truly as Byron in the
Corsair. Unromantic matter, romantically treated, is more refreshing
than romantic matter unquickened by personal feeling--by

      “_Quod latet arcanâ non enarrabile fibrâ_.”

I have mentioned Disraeli’s early tendency towards “Ha!” and “Pah!” For
this there were several reasons besides his own temper and that of the
time.

When we speak of an “artificial” style we mean one unnatural to the
author. Disraeli’s style was perfectly natural to him, and it altered
little. To impose another man’s voice on our own is real artifice. How
natively pathetic he could be, is shown by the scene in _Vivian Grey_,
where the broken Cleveland sits and sobs amid the laughing children on
his lonely bench in Kensington Gardens; and how simply pleasing, by the
encounter after long years between “Coningsby” and “Lady Theresa.” He
constantly alternates between the homely and the outlandish.

In the few years preceding his grand tour, and, still more, the earlier
_Vivian Grey_, he was at a phase in his development when he was only
just beginning to realise the true bent of his powers, of which he had
from the first been conscious, but which had hitherto more or less
perplexed and bewildered him. In _Alroy_ and _Contarini_ his tone
is one of savage force as yet unchastened and unmellowed. The wild
Arab is in them. All the over-mastering dreams of his youth claimed
materialisation; his language went before his feelings, and strove to
outrun them by vehement strokes of attitude. He thirsted for action,
and yet drooped, restless and mortified. His circumstances were at war
with his consuming ambitions. It was the discord of a peculiar fate and
an unique organisation; the ferment of a ripe spirit cooped by unripe
experience, of an as yet untempered vigour. The genius, as in the old
legend, shrank and dwindled in the bottle, but soared with gigantic
stature when the stopper was released. One must not take the personal
touches in _Vivian_, _Alroy_, and _Contarini_ too literally. They are a
blend of several factors and of various characters; and he himself in
his age regretted that the last had been the task of immaturity. But
from the main emphasis and the prevailing moods of the three together,
thus much one may gather.

“Why, what is life” (this from _Alroy_), “for meditation mingles ever
with my passion?... Throw accidents to the dogs, and tear off the
painted mask of false society! Here am I, a hero; with a mind that can
devise all things, and a heart of superhuman daring, with youth, with
vigour, with a glorious lineage ... and I am--nothing.” He was morbidly
overdone, and he brooded and overdid his own morbidity. He had lived
in “a private world and a public world,” and the two were still at
variance. “I was,” he says extravagantly of a still earlier date, on
the lips of “Contarini,” “in these days but a wild beast who thought
himself a civilised human being;” and yet “I felt the conviction that
literary creation was necessary to my existence.”--“What vanity in all
the empty bustle of common life! It brings to me no gratification;
on the contrary, degrading annoyance. It develops all the lowering
attributes of my nature.” He was impatient, and yet he felt that
“patience is a necessary ingredient of genius.” “Nothing is more
fatal than to be seduced into composition by the first flutter of
the imagination.” He had aspired to be a poet, and a poet in a new
style befitting modern life. The failure of the _Revolutionary Epick_
disgusted him; yet how could he have expected it to succeed? even if it
had been sold at a farthing, as in the case of Mr. Horne’s experiment,
it would never have attracted the public, for it was a long essay
in stilted verse.[176] He still aspired to influence and rule his
fellow-men, but no path was clear. These moods were not to last. “Think
of me as of some exotic bird which for a moment lost its way in thy
cold heaven, but has now regained its course and wings its flight to a
more brilliant earth, and a brighter sky.”

Moreover, he had for some years fostered the idea that verse was
obsolete for poetry, and that rhyme was a solecism. Poetry should
be the revelation of nature, and yet it had sought a modern vent in
unnatural language.[177] He attempted, therefore, to frame a language
for poetical expression on a plan of his own, at once rhythmical and
theatrical. And for all his confidence he was not wholly at ease.
“I observed that I was the slave of custom, and never viewed any
particular incident in relation to men in general.... I deeply felt
that there was a total want of nature in everything connected with
me.”--“When I look back on myself at this period, I have difficulty
in conceiving a more unamiable character.” And yet instinct revolted
against artificiality. In defiance he would air his most extreme
passions. To veil them was cant. “Never apologise for showing
feeling.... Remember that when you do so, you apologise for truth.”

But if something of all this is applicable to 1829, still more is
applicable to three years earlier, when _Vivian Grey_--a miracle,
whatever its defects, for one barely out of his nonage--was
published;[178] and much of the phase was only a remnant of its
aggravated form in 1826. He had been seriously and mysteriously ill. He
had small acquaintance with the great world, and continual conversance
with his visions of it. He was in doubt, even in despair. His family
was astonished, even annoyed. In _Contarini_, where his first novel
figures as “Manstein,” he has himself told us what he regretted in
_Vivian Grey_. It was “written in a storm and without any reflection;”
its few images were all “probably copied from books.”--“I thought
of ‘Manstein’ as of a picture painted by a madman in the dark.”--“I
determined to re-educate myself.” Years afterwards, when these fleeting
phases had long passed, and had been succeeded by the higher and
healthier moods following on the discovery and pursuit of his true
destiny, he apologised for _Vivian Grey_ as a boyish freak, affected
because not written from observation of the world, and he added that
every one has a right to be conceited until he is successful. He showed
his opinion of it by publishing _Contarini_ anonymously. In his old
age, he excused its “inevitable reappearance” by once remarking that
first efforts dealing with a big but unknown world must be exaggerated
in style, and that “false taste accompanies exaggeration.” Had he been
grandiose without afterwards proving himself great, the blame would
have been deserved.

These are not the blemishes of his great political novels; but there
is in them also, with all their deep thought and striking insight,
their absolute originality and stimulating suggestiveness, an air at
times of the perfumer’s shop rather than of the fresh air. Even “Sybil”
cries out, “Oh! the saints, ’tis a merry morn!” “Coningsby” meets his
lady-love at a ball, which “is a dispensation of almost supernatural
ecstasy;” and in _Lothair_ itself we revert to “barbs” and “jennets.”
I think that these later defects were partly due to the reaction
against the constraint, repression, and formality compelled by his
political career. They were a reaction in form, but in no case were
they artificial in substance. They meant something, and they pressed
it home. Disraeli was always a fantastic, and the fantastic holds
high rank in literature. It distinguishes Disraeli’s pet, Cervantes.
But fantasy is different far from frippery. Fantasy is the flicker of
firelight, not the flare of gas.

Again, it is always hard for originality to win a first hearing from
the public. Browning once remarked in a letter that to fasten the
attention of the British public some stroke of style is required. This
is true. Browning is himself an example; Carlyle, another; for his
early essays completely lack that compound of Jean Paul’s German, and
old Mrs. Carlyle’s Scotch, out of which Carlylese was evolved. Ruskin
is another instance. Disraeli in his correspondence is far more free
and flowing than in his books. Of those books there is least trace of
apparent affectation in _Coningsby_, which is the best political novel
in any language. Reviewed as a whole, his novels are creative, and a
marvellous medium for thought. Some bedizenment there is doubtless, and
there are many gauds of fancy; and parts of the characterisation may be
said to be written in italics. It is true also that some of the persons
are waxworks, but none of the characters are, and his movement of
ideas, as well as his ideas of movement, display a flexibility rarely
joined to such piercing penetration. Next to his three great political
novels and in some respects above them, I would rank _Venetia_,
which has never met with such widespread appreciation. _Alroy_ and
_Contarini_ are psychological romances, exceptional of their kind. His
method of composition was the same throughout his life. He pondered in
the night what he penned in the morning. And of his early preparation
he has left a memorial--

“... I prepared myself for composition in a very different mood
from that in which I had poured forth my fervid crudities in the
Garden-house. Calm and collected, I constructed characters on
philosophical principles, and mused over a chain of action which should
develop the system of our existence. All was art. I studied contrasts
and grouping, and metaphysical analysis was substituted for anatomical
delineation. I was not satisfied that the conduct of my creatures
should be influenced merely by the general principles of their being; I
resolved that they should be the very impersonations of the moods and
passions of our mind. _One was ill-regulated will;[179] another offered
the formation of a moral being_;[180] materialism sparkled in the
wild gaiety and reckless caprice of one voluptuous girl, while spirit
was vindicated in the deep devotion of a constant and enthusiastic
heroine.[181] Even the lighter temperaments were not forgotten.
Frivolity smiled and shrugged her shoulders before us, and there was
even a deep personification of cynic humour.”

He believed in the influence of the creative arts on creative
authorship. He has pointed out how the Tuscan school of painting trains
to the grandeur of simplicity, the Venetian to the gorgeousness of
fancy. And of music he has written: “The greatest advantage that a
writer can derive from it is that it teaches most exquisitely the art
of development. It is in remarking the varying recurrence of a great
composer to the same theme, that a poet may learn how to dwell upon
the phases of a passion,--how to exhibit a mood of mind under all its
alterations, and gradually to pour forth the full tide of feeling.”
But he thought that such influences were a prelude to creation, not to
execution. “It is well to meditate upon a subject under the influence
of music, but to execute we should be alone, and supported only by our
essential and internal strength.”

As is familiar, he was fastidious even when he was florid. It is well
known that he relieved his last illness by correcting the proofs of his
last speeches for Hansard--“the Dunciad of Politics.” “I will not,” he
said, “descend to history speaking bad grammar.”

About national literature he held views which sprang from his theories
of race. He considered that modern Europe depended overmuch on ideas
derived from Rome, Greece, and Palestine. “At the revival of letters
we beheld the portentous spectacle of national poets communicating
their inventions in an exotic form.... They sought variety in increased
artifice of diction, and substituted the barbaric clash of rhyme for
the melody of the lyre....” Spain, he thought, offered the best field
for a national novel.

“The outdoor life of the natives induces a variety of the most
picturesque manners, while their semi-civilisation makes each district
retain with barbarous jealousy its peculiar customs.”

For the critics he had a smile at the first as at the last. They
“admired what had been written in haste and without premeditation, and
generally disapproved of what had cost me much forethought and been
executed with great care.... My perpetual efforts at being imaginative
were highly reprobated.... I puzzled them, and no one offered a
prediction as to my future career.... I thought no more of criticism.
The breath of man has never influenced me much, for I depend more upon
myself than upon others....”

At “Reisenburg” in _Vivian Grey_ were two great journals edited on
opposite principles. In the one, every review was written by a personal
enemy; in the other by a personal friend. And there was a third by
that “literary comet,” “Von Chronicle,” the historical novelist, who
believed that in romance costume was superior to character. His novel
of “Rienzi” terminated with the scene of the Coronation, because
“after that, what is there in the career of Rienzi which would afford
matter...? All that afterwards occurs is a mere contest of passions and
a development of character; but where is a procession, or a triumph,
or a marriage...? Not a single name is given in the work for which he
has not contemporary authority; but what he is particularly proud of
are his oaths. Nothing has cost him more trouble than the management of
the swearing; and the Romans, you know, are a most profane nation....
The ‘’sblood’ of the sixteenth century must not be confounded with
the ‘zounds’ of the seventeenth.... The most amusing thing is to
contrast this mode of writing works of fiction with the prevalent and
fashionable mode of writing works of history.... Here we write novels
like history and history like novels. All our facts are fancy, and all
our imagination reality.”

Excellent fooling, this! Through the long range of his writings
Disraeli did more than any novelist of the nineteenth century to
impress on the ordinary mind not only the pleasures but the powers of
the Imagination.



CHAPTER X

CAREER


The secrets of success, Disraeli has told us more than once, are
knowledge of your capacities, constancy of purpose, and mastery of
your subject. It is seldom that in one brain these qualities of grip,
mental and moral, are fully combined; and, rarer still, when they
do reside together, is the addition of the third requisite named by
him--patience. It, with the tact it bears, is as necessary for the
servant as the master.

“The magic of the character,” he says of the courier in _Contarini_,
“was his patience. This made him quicker and readier and more
successful than all other men. He prepared everything, and anticipated
wants of which we could not think.”

The preparation for career--apart from its entitling endowments--should
be education; but education, he held, even in its prescientific days,
often started with a vital mistake. It proceeded on words, grammars,
and systems. It should proceed on a knowledge of predisposition; others
should know a man before he is called upon to know himself. “What we
want is to discover the character of a man at his birth, and _found his
education upon his nature_.... All is an affair of organisation....
Among men there are some points of similarity and sympathy. There
are few alike; there are some totally unlike the mass.... Until we
know more of ourselves, of what use are our systems?... We speculate
upon the character of man; we divide and we subdivide. We have our
generals, our sages, our statesmen. There is not a modification of
mind that is not mapped out in our great atlas of intelligence. We
cannot be wrong, because we have mapped out the past; and we are
famous for discovering the future when it has taken place. Napoleon
is First Consul, and would found a dynasty.... But what use is the
discovery, when the Consul is already tearing off his republican robe
and snatching the imperial diadem? And suppose, which has happened, and
may and will happen again--suppose a being of a different organisation
from Napoleon or Cromwell placed in the same situation--a being gifted
with a combination of intelligence hitherto unknown--where, then,
is our moral philosophy? How are we to speculate upon results which
are to be produced by unknown causes?... The whole system of moral
philosophy is a delusion, fit only for the play of sophists in an age
of physiological ignorance.” So, too, he had reason to think of some
physicians “who decide by precedents which have no resemblance, and
never busy themselves about the idiosyncrasies of their patients.”[182]
“Until,” he wrote again, “men are educated with reference to their
nature, there will be no end of domestic fracas.” He remembered his
grandfather’s misconstruction of his father’s temperament, and his
uncle’s of his own. Even illness he considered “as much a part of
necessary education as travel or study.” And his constant idea, that
national literature ought to be native and not imported, allied itself
to his educational ideas also. “The duty of education is to give ideas.
When our limited intelligence was confined to the literature of two
dead languages, it was necessary to acquire them.... But now each
nation has its literature.... Let education, then, be confined to the
national literature, and we should soon perceive the beneficial effects
upon the mind of the student. Study would then be a profitable delight.
I pity the poor Gothic victim of the grammar and the lexicon. The
Greeks, who were masters of composition, were ignorant of all languages
but their own. They concentrated the genius of the study of expression
upon one tongue. _To this they owe that blended simplicity and strength
of style, which the imitative Romans, with all their splendour, never
attained.... The ancients invented their Governments according to their
wants; the moderns have adopted foreign policies, and then modelled
their conduct upon this borrowed regulation._ This circumstance has
occasioned our manners and customs to be so confused, absurd, and
unphilosophical. What business had we, for instance, to adopt the Roman
law--a law foreign to our manners, and consequently disadvantageous? He
who profoundly meditates upon the situation of modern Europe will also
discover how productive of misery has been the senseless adoption of
Oriental customs by Northern peoples. Whence came that divine right of
kings which has deluged so many countries with blood?--that pastoral
and Syrian law of tithes, which may yet shake the foundations of so
many ancient institutions?” The spirit of this passage was ever present
to his mind. He went even further. He has asserted that the mere fact
of copying or assuming ideas deprives them of their native virtue,
and that all that is second-hand loses the vigour and flavour of its
originals in imitating them.

Preparation must be succeeded, and, indeed, attended, by meditation. I
shall return to this idea shortly, and consider it in his own instance.
But there comes a juncture when action must rise from the chrysalis of
thought which encloses it.

“... You must renounce meditation. Action is now your part. Meditation
is culture. It is well to think until a man has discovered his genius
and developed his faculties, but then let him put his intelligence in
motion. Act, act, act without ceasing, and you will no longer talk of
the vanity of life.”

The perpetual thought of death he considered harmful. To live in
present duty and energy was truer piety than to brood on the coming
hour when no man can work; and the very sense of existence is a great
happiness, and leads to hope. “... If, in striking the balance of
sensation, misery were found to predominate, no human being would
endure the curse of existence....”[183] He would surely have echoed
that fine saying of Gladstone--“Indifference to the world is not love
of God.” He was infinitely sanguine in outlook, although extremely
cautious in expedients. I may recall that when _Coningsby_ has missed
his fortune, _Sidonia_ consoles him by a series of more disagreeable
contingencies.

Such, then, were for him the equipments of career. Of its arts in
attaining what it designs to exercise for the good of others, much will
have been gleaned from many citations as to tact and temper. There is
one other maxim of worldly wisdom which is worth recording: “If you
wish a man to be your friend, allow him to confute you.” His idea of
power was that it was “a divine trust,” but it was also a cumulative
fund. “The very exercise of power only teaches me that it may be
wielded for a greater purpose.” Mrs. Disraeli said, when her husband
had, in his own words, “climbed to the top of the greasy pole at last,”
“You don’t know my Dizzy, what great plans he has long matured for the
good and greatness of England. But they have made him wait and drudge
so long--and now time is against him.”

It is not here my province to track the details of his own career. This
book deals with his ideas. But with the interesting psychology of his
early temperament I mean to deal, for it concerns his ideas.

I might, had his career been within my scope, have cleared some
doubts, and explained many misunderstandings. I could have shown, as
I have shown elsewhere, the real truth about the Peel letter, and the
events of 1851-52. I should have pointed out the dividing lines in
his campaign and the halting-places in his march, the Eastern tour,
his marriage, his estrangement from Peel, the Crimean War, his steady
progress in social improvements, his Reform Bills of 1859 and 1867,
the strong effect on his outlook of events of magnitude, and the last
act of the drama--his imperialism. I might also have explained the
moot points connected with the years 1833, 1835, 1837, 1846, 1851,
and 1860.[184] I might, perhaps, have been able to shed light on the
delayed Malmesbury despatches in 1859. Nor should I have shirked his
mistakes, notably the motion of censure on Lord Palmerston. And I would
have dwelt on the striking influences which his sister and his wife
exercised over him.

But one brief topic I shall skim before I finally trace something of
his own peculiar development.

Much has been talked of his alien “aloofness.” As for alien, Mazarin
was in this sense an “alien,” not to speak of the less worthy examples,
Alberoni and Ripperda. In the eighteenth century a Scotch premier
was in England an “alien.” Augustus was partly, Napoleon wholly, an
“alien.” And what but “aliens” were Manin, Gambetta, Lasker, Midhat,
and Emin? Nobody understood his countrymen more shrewdly at once and
sympathetically than Disraeli. His was no sham patriotism, and he loved
John Bull fondly, even when he poked fun at him. Nor had any pondered
more deeply the lessons which history imparts. There are, however,
two grains of truth in this reproach. He did regard the world and its
history as a fleeting show. He believed in recurring cycles. What is
now old was once new; what is new will one day be old. So long as
individuals worked their best, what did it matter? One civilisation
succeeds another, and the last state of a mighty nation is often worse
than the first. “The whirligig of Time brings about his revenges.” In
this sense--the historical and philosophical sense--he might be called
indifferentist. And again, he understood England, but it took long for
his countrymen to understand _him_. When they came to do so, he met
with that generosity which immense bravery and perseverance always
eventually receive; but, meanwhile, he had struggled against a jealous
malice which is, perhaps, peculiar to politics. He had “educated”
his followers, but suspicion and misunderstanding hampered his every
step. During two spans of some six years each (without counting his
early period) he had to play the losing game with an unruffled brow,
an encouraging smile, and an unwearied resource, which included the
transformation of a party and foundation of a political magazine. He
had to hearten the despairing, the recalcitrant, the slothful, and the
sullen. He had to deplore the stupidity of missed opportunities;[185]
he had to humour the engrossers of office; and, even, in the intervals
of power, to bend his neck to the grindstone of finance. “I am not,”
he once sarcastically rejoined, alluding to Sir Charles Wood opposite,
“a born Chancellor of the Exchequer.” His hour struck. At sixty-four
he began to govern England on lines planned and with projects pondered
full thirty years earlier; and even then he had to confront anonymous
endeavours to sap his leadership from quarters which should have
disarmed suspicion. His own mind was impartial in the extreme. The
same “aloofness” which he is alleged to have displayed to British
affairs, he certainly displayed in his books with regard to Eastern
emirs, who talk with the aspirations of the West. “Alroy” himself is
very European, and never more so than when he disdains the isolating
fanaticism of “Jabaster.”

Much, too, has been prattled about his “audacity,” and I notice that
the hackneyed quotation about “L’audace” is usually in these diatribes
ascribed to Danton, and not to its author, Beaumarchais. Many of these
“audacities” are now recognised as wisdom; but it has been after-wisdom
that has recognised it; though Disraeli was usually Prometheus.

“There are times,” he said in one of his early novels, “when I am
influenced by a species of what I may term happy audacity, for it
is a mixture of recklessness and self-confidence, which has a very
felicitous effect upon the animal spirits. At these moments I never
calculate consequences, yet everything seems to go right. I feel in
good fortune; the ludicrous side of everything occurs to me; I think
of nothing but grotesque images. I astonish people by bursting into
laughter apparently without a cause....”

Disraeli was naturally sensitive, but he studied self-repression. No
one was more cut to the quick by contumely or impertinence; no one was
more determined to hide the wound. “If,” once observed Jowett, “Dizzy
were on the brink of the bottomless pit, and each moment about to fall
into it, his look would never betray the fact; such is his pluck and
power of countenance.” As he bore himself towards provocation, he bore
himself towards pain. The last great speech he ever made was delivered
with youthful jauntiness, yet he was forced to take a drug in order to
deliver it. “One must meet death boldly,” he exclaimed to an intimate
friend, after he had read the denial of the doctors’ assurance in their
faces.

Disraeli’s intellectual shortcomings are those, it seems to me,
belonging to an intense, as opposed to a diffused imagination. His
mind shed both heat and light, but both the light and the heat were
over-concentrated. The same applies, perhaps, to his will, and to his
character also. Everything in him was focussed. His ideas possessed
him, and he chafed, like a sculptor at work, to embody them. Outside
the forms of those ideas he could not penetrate. In relation to them,
he judged all junctures and all endeavours. It is this averseness to
the abstract that pervades his every outlook. He could not conceive of
ideas as unmaterialised or disembodied. They had been the companions of
his boyish solitude.

“... The clustering of their beauty seemed an evidence of poetic
power: the management of these bright guests was an art of which I was
ignorant. I received them all, and found myself often writing only that
they might be accommodated.”

As a child, his ruling mood was that of reverie. He had steeped himself
in his father’s library, and his extraordinary imagination played upon
the poets, the philosophers, and, above all, the historians. Dim dreams
from the vast procession of the centuries took shape and became flesh.
He beheld the great men and movements marching before him. Incarnate
presences peopled his loneliness, and called to him with their voices--

“The votary of a false idea, I linger in this shadowy life and feed
on silent images which no eye but mine can gaze upon, till at length
they are invested with the terrible circumstances of life, and breathe,
and act, and form a stirring world of fate, beauty, time, death, and
glory. And then, from out this dazzling wilderness of deeds, I wander
forth and wake ... horrible! horrible!” “Often in reverie had I been
an Alberoni, a Ripperda, a Richelieu....” “I sat in moody silence,
revolving in reverie without the labour of thought....”

He felt that he was not as others. He found that though at once
proud and gentle, as a boy, his family were sometimes eyed askance
as foreigners. He wished to frequent a public school; it was deemed
unadvisable. The harder side of his nature began to assert itself. He
would triumph over all, hew down every obstacle. His father suggested
the University. He rejected the offer. Why waste his time in words
that might prove a school for deeds? “A miserable lot is mine to feel
everything and be nothing.” He was destined, appointed, reserved. As he
grew older these convictions deepened. “Am I a man, and a man of strong
passions and deep thoughts? And shall I, like a vile beggar, upon my
knees crave the rich heritage that is my own by right?” But how? The
very thought bewildered, oppressed, and embittered him. “Everything
is mysterious, though I have always been taught the reverse.” In a
dangerous moment he began to lay it down as a principle “that all
considerations must yield to the gratification of my ambition.” Life
without power, and power that he felt deserved, was intolerable. His
father remonstrated. He warned him against the fatal tyranny of the
imagination. “I think,” he said, “you have talents indeed for anything
... that a rational being can desire to attain; but you sadly lack
judgment.” The boy replied, “I wish, sir, to influence men.... I am
impressed with a most earnest and determined resolution to become a
practical man. You must not judge of me by my boyish career. The very
feelings that made me revolt at the discipline of schools will insure
my subordination in the world. I took no interest in their petty
pursuits, and their minute legislation interfered with my extended
views.” In answer, he was admonished that a nature so “headstrong and
imprudent” would lead to situations ridiculous and even dangerous;
that his lack of regulated balance would warp his excellent instincts.
The boy persisted that, if not by deeds yet by words, he would sway
his fellows. “Mix in society,” rejoined his father, with a shrug of
the shoulders, “and I will answer that you lose your poetic feeling;
for in you, as in the great majority, it is not a creative faculty,
originating in a peculiar organisation, but simply the consequence of
a nervous susceptibility that is common to all.” The youth continued
to fret, and brood, and calculate. He felt method within him as well
as frenzy. In his old age he was once driving past Bradenham with a
lady who knew how happy his home relations had been. “Ah!” he sighed,
“there is where I passed my miserable youth.”--“Miserable!” she
replied; “impossible! Surely you were happy there.”--“Not then. I was
devoured by an irresistible ambition which I could not gratify.”[186]
It reminds me of that passage in Swift where the great dean ascribes
the first pricks of ambition, in the career which the inequalities of
his situation had urged, to the rage and mortification he experienced
as a boy in failing to land a big fish. He grew distracted; for a time
he had to inhabit a darkened room. With the Austins he travelled in
Germany and Italy. The result was _Vivian Grey_--the “Don Juan” of
politics.

The circumstances and results of the book I have touched in the
preceding chapter. Disraeli grew ashamed of its fashionable success.
The world was not merely his oyster. He would elevate and benefit
by it. He mixed in society, but it neither raised his spirits nor
slaked his thirst, although it did help him to see his measure and
stature among mankind. That commerce with the world is the best cure
for misjudged ambition he pressed in his fine address to youth at the
Manchester Athenæum; but ambition itself he regarded as elevating for
man. At the crisis, however, that we have reached, his ambitions were
still unsettled. He began to be soured and sceptical both of himself,
of mankind, and of God. His spiritual fibre was shaken. His sister,
with talents nearly equal to his, and faith and charity superior, came
to his rescue. She healed his wounds; she ennobled his standard; she
comforted him with her entire belief in his great future. She restored
him to his higher self.

Once more the shadow of ill health fell across the young Disraeli’s
footsteps; this time a very critical malady--a complete nervous
breakdown. He “fainted as he dressed.” He even had convulsions. He was
overwhelmed by strange noises in his head. “... The falls of Niagara
could not overpower the infernal roaring that I alone heard.”[187]
Travel was prescribed. He departed for two years from Europe, and
mended.

Even at this time, with the spectres of doubt and illness athwart his
way, he could not stifle the secret assurance of his destiny. I have
seen a letter to a friend, who had shared a financial misadventure, in
which he deplores his condition, but declares that “something within me
whispers that one day I shall be famous. Be assured, if ever that time
comes, you will be the first that I shall remember.”

He returned, found his place, his mission, and his ideals. But still
his discreet family opposed themselves to his entrance into public
life. It was incredible, impossible, absurd. “So much for the maddest
of mad acts, as my uncle said,” he wrote to his sister on his first
return to Parliament.

Every one remembers the story of his meeting with Lord Melbourne, and
his answer, true or not, as to what the premier could “do for him.” “I
wish to be Prime Minister.” At any rate, Mrs. Austin, in extreme old
age, recalled a party at her house about this period, when the young
Disraeli explained his plans for England, “when I am Prime Minister,”
amid laughter and surprise. “You will see,” he said, bringing his fist
down on the mantelpiece, “I _shall_ be Prime Minister.” He felt, as
he wrote to his sister after attending a great debate, that “he could
floor them all.” His confidence in himself, like his sister’s in him,
was colossal.

So I read his earliest years from his earliest books. Thenceforward
he marched from strength to strength, and he employed power when he
obtained it conscientiously according to his best lights for the
improvement of the people and the glory of the Empire.

And yet how strange it is, that at the annual gatherings on his
death-day, celebrated by the romance of his memory and his flower,
the successors who, faltering from his footsteps, honour the good
will of his enduring popularity, have never breathed his name! I can
see him smile in the shades; for he found his party a quagmire, and
he left it a township. At all times he toiled hard and long, though
sometimes by fits and starts; and a study was reserved ready for his
visits at Bradenham. Although in his later years he would sometimes
play at indolence, it was really against the grain. The occasional air
of listlessness which society remarked in his latter days was the
attendant of failing health, and only filmed an activity that neither
age nor illness could overcome. In the long recess of 1848 he was
working over ten hours a day, rising at five and retiring at nine.
In the long session of 1852 he was working considerably more. To the
last he read the classics while he dined. As he lay dying he corrected
his speeches. He never relaxed that infinite interest in everything
and everybody of purport and meaning, which the French well style “la
grande curiosité.”

When he died, amid national mourning, the late Lord Salisbury, after
singling out his unquenchable zeal for the glory of Britain, lasting
to a period when “the gratification of every possible desire negatived
the presumption of any inferior motive,” adverted to his “patience, his
gentleness, his unswerving and unselfish loyalty to his colleagues and
fellow-labourers.” Indisputably his moral character was high. Without
question he, like Gladstone, raised the tone of parliamentary life
from that of the days when politics were merely a squabble for place
and a toss-up as to “whether England should be ruled by Tory nobles
or by Whig.” His tone may not always have chimed with certain forms
or formulas of earnestness, but he acted up to his own high standard.
“It was impossible,” said the late Lord Granville, “to deny that Lord
Beaconsfield had played a great part in British History. No one could
deny his rare and splendid gifts and his force of character.” Character
will always appeal to England. “But,” pursued the orator, after
noticing his tolerance and forbearance, “he undoubtedly possessed the
power of appealing to the imagination, not only of his countrymen, but
of foreigners,[188] and that power is not destroyed by death.”

My book opened with Personality, Ideas, and Imagination. With
Imagination, Ideas, and Personality it shall close. They can turn and
change the semblances of material “facts,” for they abide behind the
veil of time and of existence.



FOOTNOTES


[1] “... These are concessionary, not Conservative principles. This
party treats institutions as we do our pheasants, they preserve only to
destroy them.”

[2] Swift, adverting to National Debt.

[3] Cardinal Newman afterwards inveighed against the same union of
faithlessness and Mammon in one of his finest sermons. Disraeli
constantly dwelt on the dangers that liberty might suffer, if a
democracy unreconciled to monarchy and its institutions became a
class instead of an element, and was brought into collision with the
“three per cents.” The despotisms of bare democracy and of aggravated
plutocracy were equally distasteful to him, and he feared their union.
_Cf._ many striking passages in _The Press_, 1853-59.

[4] With this passage should be compared the striking remarks on p. 222
of _The Political Biography of Lord George Bentinck_.

[5] “It was that noble ambition, the highest and the best, that must
be born in the heart and organised in the brain, which will not let
a man be content unless his intellectual power is recognised by his
race, and desires that it should contribute to their welfare.” Thus he
speaks of _Coningsby_, the castle of whose fathers is not to be one “of
Indolence.”

[6] Through Lord Durham, Lord J. Russell, and Lord Melbourne, whom he
met early at Mrs. Norton’s.

[7] I may mention that when he wrote _Alarcos_ in six weeks, an
intimate (I think Lord Strangford) asked him why he had turned his
energies to tragedy. “The idea haunted me,” was the reply, “and I could
not rest until I had given it expression.”

[8] There is a touch also of his grandfather in the “Mr. Putney Giles”
of _Lothair_, who: “never made difficulties, but always overcame them.”
In both “Miriam” (_Alroy_) “Venetia” and “Myra” (_Endymion_) there are
direct transferences from his sister’s temperament; and “St. Barbe” is
far more Hayward than Thackeray.

[9] _Cf._ the moralisations in its strange account of the hero’s malady.

[10] _The Infernal Marriage._

[11] So called owing to Lord Grey’s query in a letter. His brother had
just opposed the young Disraeli, standing as an “independent” and a
“reformer” at High (or “Chepping”) Wycombe; and his brilliant speeches
on the hustings had been republished as _The Crisis Examined_.

[12] After he had been articled to a firm of solicitors at seventeen,
and eventually called to the bar, his father had wished him to enter a
government office. _Cf._ Mr. Lake’s “Reminiscences.”

[13] _Cf._ p. 254.

[14] It treated of a hero outlawed under the Alien Act by a Ministry
resenting a poem (_cf._ Smiles’ “Memoirs of John Murray”). Disraeli
had also edited a “history” of _Paul Jones_. Of his early American
pamphlet, I speak later on. A Mr. Powles--“something in the city”--was
concerned in assisting both this and the _Representative_.

[15] Of Keats it sings--

     “Who grasped the Theban shell and struck a tone,
      No master yet had wakened--save its own.”

[16] It succeeded a respectable pro-Canning and pro-Queen-Caroline
weekly, to which Disraeli seems to have contributed as a lad also. Its
foundation brought him to Sir Walter Scott, and to Lockhart, who at
first disdained to be “editor,” but melted when Disraeli assured him
that he would be “Director-general” of a controlling organ. Only a
temporary breach with Murray was caused by Disraeli’s speedy withdrawal
from the concern. But for Lockhart, as a “tenth-rate novelist,”
Disraeli expressed contempt in 1833, when he proposed to write for the
_Edinburgh_, presided over by Napier. _Cf._ British Museum, Add. MS.
34,616, f. 45.

[17] This is no imaginary picture. _Cf._ Isaac Disraeli’s letters in
the British Museum, Add. MS. 34,571, ff. 94, 96. Bradenham Manor, now
the residence of my friend, Mr. Graves, had been under Queen Anne the
seat of the Earl of Strafford through his marriage with a City heiress.

[18] In a future chapter I shall revert to this episode, which Disraeli
ever deplored. His valet, in bachelor days, at 35, Duke Street,
St. James--one Whittlestone, like Disraeli’s servant in the East,
Byron’s Tita, provided for as attendant in a government office by his
master--used to retail many scraps of such gossip. The young Disraeli’s
novels, he averred, were written in bed. Heroes truly should dispense
with valets.

[19] In _The Press_ (1853-59)--which vies with Swift in the _Examiner_
and Bolingbroke in the _Craftsman_, and to which Lord Derby and Shirley
Brooks also contributed--Disraeli finely characterises Chatham as “a
forest oak in a suburban garden.”

[20] Of this virtue, singled out with domestic purity by Gladstone for
praise in Disraeli, the late Lady J. Manners wrote, “He feared nobody
but God.” In my eighth chapter I shall quote Jowett’s verdict.

[21] “The Later Years of Lord Beaconsfield,” by Janetta, Lady J.
Manners, Blackwood, 1881.

[22] In 1852 he sought and obtained a long interview with Feargus
O’Connor, whose correspondence in the _Star_ he had utilised seven
years before in _Sybil_.

[23] “Thus, amid all the strange vicissitudes of life, we are ever, as
it were, moving in a circle.”

[24] In 1832.

[25] His Edinburgh speech of 1867 and his Glasgow address of 1873--on
“Representation” and “Equality” respectively rank among his best.

[26] So also does another. Lady Beaconsfield, waiting up, as was her
wont even in extreme age, for her husband’s return after a critical
effort, entered the library in the small hours of the morning (and in
_négligée_), and impetuously embraced what turned out to be Lord Cairns
writing an important minute before Disraeli’s arrival.

[27] When Lord Derby came in in 1852, “At last we have got a _status_,”
he said; “I feel like a young girl going to her first ball.”

[28] British Museum Add. MS. 34,645, f. 19.

[29] In _The Press_ Disraeli illustrates this historical fact with
infinite knowledge in a remarkable passage.

[30] In 1850, 1852, 1855, and 1859.

[31] Like most of the Peelites, Mr. Gladstone was not proof against
a certain air of over-righteous condescension and patronage. Even in
the ’sixties he notes in his diary that, meeting Disraeli at a time
of trial, he extended his hand, which was “kindly accepted.” But
he honestly admired his gifts, and in 1859 generously disdained to
“bargain” him “out of the saddle.”

[32] Not only convictions, but tactics also. Mr. Gladstone often blamed
actions in others which he afterwards adopted; Disraeli never did. I
subjoin a few instances. In 1852 he blamed Disraeli’s budget-proposal
for repealing half the malt tax; he himself afterwards repealed the
whole. In 1867 he blamed Disraeli’s first introduction of the Reform
Act by resolutions; next year he did the same with his Irish Church
Bill. In 1869 he severely blamed Disraeli for resigning without meeting
Parliament; in 1874 he himself followed suit.

[33] Some of the best in his earliest speeches are derived from “Don
Quixote.”

[34] Letters to the Whigs, _The Press_, May 7, 1853.

[35] Letters to the Whigs, _The Press_, May 14, 1853.

[36] Disraeli always insisted on the indispensability of the party
system. As he pointed out of Bolingbroke, so in his own case, the
idea of a “national” party had to be accommodated to conservatism.
Gladstone, too, said of Peel, in 1846, that “to abjure party was
impossible” (Morley, i. 295; _cf._ Disraeli’s _Life of Lord George
Bentinck_, p. 224). After repeal was carried, Peel gave great offence
to his followers--and especially to Mr. Gladstone--by singling out its
illustrious and original champion for praise.

[37] “As for the Irish bill on which he had turned Peel out, it was one
of the worst of all coercion bills; Peel, with 117 followers, evidently
could not have carried on the Government, and what sense could there
have been in voting for a bad bill in order to retain in office an
impossible Ministry?”--He might have added that the bill--supported
some months earlier by Lord John and Lord G. Bentinck--under protest
as only excusable through urgency, was delayed by Peel to carry the
repeal, until its necessity had vanished.

[38] He said (1846): “... It was no wonder they (the Protectionists)
regarded themselves as betrayed, and unfortunately it had been the
fate of Sir R. Peel to perform the same operation twice.” From the
party standpoint there was abundant justification. Gladstone in old age
declared that “Disraeli’s brilliant philippics surpassed even their
reputation, and that, under their lash, Peel sat powerless.” _Cf._
Morley’s “Gladstone,” i. 296, iii. 465. “Dealt with them with a kind
of righteous dulness”--“The Protectionist secession due to three men.
Derby contributed prestige; Bentinck backbone; and Dizzy parliamentary
brains.” The real fault found with Disraeli by his enemies (but
afterwards) was that he “did not care a straw” for Protection. The
reader must judge after my two next chapters.

[39] It was a sail, however, that could not bear being crossed by
contrary winds. From youth upwards Gladstone could never brook
opposition.

[40] In 1831 Sir Henry Bulwer--_teste_ Mr. Frederick Greenwood--was
asked by his famous brother to meet his marvellous new friend at
dinner. The company was all young, ambitious, and able; yet all agreed
that their master was “the man in the green trousers.” Perhaps they
were not quite so green as Sir Henry’s recollection painted them.

[41] The title of “Beaconsfield,” long before foreshadowed in _Vivian
Grey_, was adopted in homage to the abode of Burke.

[42] This phrase was used by Disraeli in a speech of the ’fifties. Its
origin, though not its phrasing, is to be found in Bolingbroke.

[43] His conviction, however, that our Lord came to fulfil, not to
abolish, was directly derived from his father’s “Genius of Judaism.”

[44] I am informed, through the kindness of my friend Mr. George
Russell, that the original of “Theodora” was one Madame Mario, _née_
Jessie White.

[45] “Shelley and Lord Beaconsfield.” Blackwood, 1881. For private
circulation. Only twenty-five copies printed.

[46] Canning’s ideas on variety of representation influenced Disraeli.

[47] It must be remembered that in 1833 the Radicals were a very small
band, and differed vastly from their successors of the Manchester
School. They were thoroughly discontented with the middle-class
legislation of the Reform Bill, and they were violently opposed to
the Whig pretensions to popular emancipation. Disraeli shared these
feelings.

[48] It should be remembered that in the brilliant characterisation
of Bolingbroke in Disraeli’s _Letter to Lord Lyndhurst_, he says,
“that despite the Whig affectation of popular sympathies, and the Tory
admiration of arbitrary power, Bolingbroke penetrated appearances, and
perceived that the choice really lay ‘between oligarchy and democracy.’”

[49] A sentence from his appeal to Mr. Gladstone in 1859.

[50] _The Press_, June 11, 1853. The whole series is full of great
strokes; and there is also a critique on the dividing periods of
English history, which is most bold and original.

[51] _Vide_ “Chartism,” p. 35.

[52] _Contarini Fleming._ For a like passage of about the same date,
_cf._ _ante_, p. 48.

[53] And _cf._ _post_ at the opening of Chapter VI.

[54] _The Spirit of Whiggism._

[55] _Cf._ his fine speech on “Agricultural Distress,” April 29, 1879.
He urged the same, almost in the same words, on February 17, 1863.

[56] Letter to Lord Lyndhurst. So, too, in his early _Spirit of
Whiggism_. In a speech of 1865 he defines an Estate as “a political
body invested with political power for the government of the country
and for the public good,” and “therefore a body founded upon
_privilege_ and not upon _right_,” and “in the noblest and properest
sense of the term an _aristocratic_ body.” Under the Plantagenets it
was at one time mooted whether the _Law_ should not be raised into
such an “Estate.” He says the same in a letter of explanation to Lord
Malmesbury.

[57] “Our constituent body should be _numerous_ enough to be
independent, and _select_ enough to be responsible.” In 1865 he
distinguished between the constitution, absorbing the best from each
class, and a “democracy”--“the tyranny of one class.”

[58] _Runnymede Letters._

[59] In 1733 Walpole objected to the repeal of the Septennial Act
precisely on the grounds that it would involve over-confidence in the
people, and democratise England.

[60] “... He (Pitt) created a plebeian aristocracy and blended it with
the patrician oligarchy. He made peers of second-rate squires and fat
graziers. He caught them in the alleys of Lombard Street, and clutched
them from the counting-houses of Cornhill....”--_Sybil._

[61] The motion was designed to throw the burden of taxation on land.
Disraeli showed that land was no monopoly, while it remained a security
for good government; and that the rental of property in Great Britain,
if equally divided among its proprietors, would only amount to £170 as
an average annual income per head.

[62] “... But thanks to parliamentary patriotism, the people of England
were saved from Ship-money, which money the wealthy paid, and only
got in its stead the customs and the excise, which the poor mainly
supply....”--_Sybil._

[63] “... Burke effected for the Whigs what Bolingbroke in a preceding
age had done for the Tories: he restored the moral existence of the
party. He taught them to recur to the ancient principles of their
connection.... He raised the tone of their public discourse; he
breathed a high spirit into their public acts....”--_Ibid._

[64] “... In my time” (said Mr. Ormsby) “... a proper majority was a
third of the House. That was Lord Liverpool’s majority. Lord Monmouth
used to say that there were ten families in this country who, if they
could only agree, could always share the government. Ah! those were the
good old times!...”

[65] That this object was of direct design is proved by a
correspondence of Cobden with Sir Robert Peel.

[66] In a speech of 1864, Disraeli said: “... For my own part,
believing that parliamentary government is practically impossible
without two organised parties, that without them it would be the most
contemptible and corrupt system which could be devised, I always regret
anything that may damage the just influence of either of the great
parties in the State.”

[67] The great depression of 1847-51 was not wholly caused by the
fiscal change. It was largely due to reaction after the railway mania,
as Disraeli pointed out in a speech of 1879. It was followed by a rise
in wages, due, not to Free Trade, but to the large imports of newly
discovered gold; and by an increased purchasing power which _was_ due
to Peel’s large abatements of the tariff.

[68] It should be borne in mind that Disraeli sometimes employs the
words “aristocracy” and “democracy” to mean the order of aristocrats
and democrats, sometimes to mean the systems of exclusion and
inclusion, sometimes to mean the government by the best and by the
miscellaneous, and oftener as indicating elements in our Constitution.

[69] This phrase is American, and refers to the democrat extremists,
conduct in Tammany Hall in 1834. The same year had seen the invention
of the “self-lighting” cigar.

[70] At that time, under the full spell of the analogy which the age
of Walpole presented, he believed that triennial parliaments and the
ballot might redress the balance of constitutional power and foil the
oligarchs who had baffled the people by espousing a popular cry. In
1852, however, he said, with regard to those proposals brought forward
by Mr. Hume: “... He did not object to them, but he saw no necessity
to adopt them. His objections to the latter were distinctly founded
on the limits of the franchise which the settlement of 1832 had not
sufficiently extended, but ... if they had universal suffrage they came
to a new constitution--a constitution commonly called the ‘Sovereignty
of the People,’ but that is not the Constitution of England; for,
wisely modified as that monarchy may be, the Constitution of England is
the sovereignty of Queen Victoria.”

[71] _Cf._ speech, May 18, 1871. The Whigs, who in 1843 called it “a
fungus of monopoly,” worked and upheld it afterwards as “Liberals.” Now
that a democracy and an Empire are being “run” at the same time, its
permanence, for many years questioned, seems assured.

[72] This preluded the “Lodger franchise,” of which, in 1867, Disraeli
said he had been “the father” (_cf._ p. 108).

[73] _Cf._ p. 109.

[74] This once more is emphasised by De Tocqueville as the essence of
centralisation.

[75] _Cf._ Morley’s “Gladstone,” vol. i. p. 262.

[76] _Cf._ the passage from _The Press_, cited _ante_, p. 7 note, and
_post_ at opening of Chapter VI.

[77] Bishop Latimer--quoted as motto to _Sybil_.

[78] Book iv. ch. iv.: “... To be a noble Master among noble Workers
will again be the first ambition with some few; to be a rich Master
only the second.”

[79] “Sidonia” stands for several types in addition to Disraeli’s own.
“Oswald Millbank” is in part painted from the young Gladstone. Most of
the other characters in _Coningsby_ are familiarly ascribed to their
originals.

[80] This phrase he twice repeats; the first time in that fine speech
at the Manchester Athenæum (1844), on the “Acquirement of Knowledge,”
which expressed his undying sympathy with the ideals, perplexities, and
possibilities of youth.

[81] This was the speech in which he said that Gladstone founded “a
great measure on a small precedent. He traces the steam-engine always
back to the tea-kettle.”

[82] The rise in wages and prices about 1851 was mainly due not to
“Free Trade,” but to the influx of newly discovered gold. In 1842, when
Peel was revising the tariff, bread was actually cheaper than it had
been for many years previously, or till 1849 afterwards. In 1851 corn
had sunk to about 40_s._, nearly 8_s._ lower than Peel had contemplated
as possible. The immediate results of repeal were not the cheapening
of bread; but the sudden cheapening of commodities _was_ effected by
Peel’s revision of the tariff. In 1851, however, all other agricultural
produce but wheat was at fair prices, and Disraeli then wrote, “It is
possible that agriculture may flourish without a high price of wheat or
without producing any” (_Correspondence_, p. 262).

[83] “... A large system of commercial intercourse on the principle of
reciprocal advantage.”

[84] The land was promised compensation, but received none worth the
name. It was deluded by vague promises of actual benefit under the new
system. Peel even asserted that corn would never fall under forty-eight
shillings per quarter.

It is often forgotten that in 1843 Peel favoured a preferential tariff
for Canada, and that both he and Gladstone were then for Canadian
“retaliation” on America.

[85] It is only the old evil of over-production and “glut in the
market.” While England was still the main manufacturer and exporter,
she herself periodically “dumped,” and suffered from the process.

[86] A satirical passage in his very early _Popanilla_ may be compared.

[87] These he had long before predicted, and his forecast that they
would cause some of the prosperity of manufacture, apart from “Free
Trade,” has come true.

[88] “History of Israel,” vol. iv. p. 286.

[89] That the Church was “a main obstacle to oligarchical power,”
Disraeli pointed out as early as in his _Runnymede Letters_.

[90] Answer to “Eikon Basilike.”

[91] “The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Commonwealth.”

[92] Here we find an early beginning of “the Venetian oligarchy.”

[93] These paradoxes, like “Sidonia’s,” have been constantly proved
true. I may mention a fantastic description of a sculptured Eastern
cavern, which recent discovery has confirmed.

[94] _Cf._ _Vivian Grey_. This idea is derived from Bolingbroke’s
philosophical works.

[95] A very favourite idea of Disraeli’s, and the source of his
disbelief in any “equality of man.” _Cf._ “All is race” in _Coningsby_,
and the passage already quoted in my second chapter from _Contarini
Fleming_. So again in the Preface to _Lothair_, “One of the
consequences of the Divine government of this world, which has ordained
that the sacred purposes should be effected by the instrumentality of
various human races, must be occasionally a jealous discontent with the
revelation entrusted to a particular family.... The documents will yet
bear a greater amount both of erudition and examination than they have
received; but the Word of God is eternal, and will survive the spheres.”

[96] “... What is styled Materialism is in the ascendant. To those who
believe that an Atheistical society, though it may be polished and
amiable, involves the seeds of anarchy, the prospect is full of gloom.”

[97] “... Let us at length discover that no society can long subsist
that is based upon metaphysical absurdities.... Before me is a
famous treatise on human nature by a Professor of Königsberg. No
one has more profoundly meditated on the attributes of his subject.
It is evident that in the deep study of his own intelligence he has
discovered a noble method of expounding that of others. Yet when I
close his volumes, can I conceal from myself that all this time I
have been studying a treatise upon the nature--not of man, but of a
German?”--_Contarini Fleming._

[98] The hackneyed _mot_ of “Sensible men never tell” is derived from
_Voltaire_.

[99] In the Preface to _Lothair_ he says:--“The sceptical efforts of
the discoveries of science, and the uneasy feeling that they cannot
co-exist with our old religious convictions, have their origin in the
conviction that the general body who have suddenly become conscious of
these physical truths are not so well acquainted as is desirable with
the past history of man. Astonished by their unprepared emergence from
ignorance to a certain degree of information, their amazed intelligence
takes refuge in the theory of what is conveniently called Progress, and
every step in scientific discovery seems further to remove them from
the path of primæval inspiration. But there is no fallacy so flagrant
as to suppose that the modern ages have the peculiar privilege of
scientific discovery, or that they are distinguished as the epochs of
the most illustrious inventions. No one for a moment can pretend that
printing is so great a discovery as writing, or algebra as language.
What are the most brilliant of our chemical discoveries compared with
the invention of fire and the metals? It is a vulgar belief that our
astronomical knowledge dates only from the recent century, when it was
rescued from the monks who imprisoned Galileo. But Hipparchus, who
lived before our Divine Master ... discovered the precession of the
equinoxes; and Copernicus ... avows himself as only the champion of
Pythagoras.... Even the most modish schemes of the day on the origin of
things ... will be found mainly to rest on the atom of Epicurus and the
monad of Thales. Scientific, like spiritual truth, has ever from the
beginning been descending from heaven to man....” So, too, in a speech
of 1861, dealing both with science and the higher criticism, “Epicurus
was, I apprehend, as great a man as Hegel; but it was not Epicurus who
subverted the religion of Olympus.”

[100] Probably always in England. In France the reverse is happening.

[101] This idea is, among other speeches, worked out in that delivered
at Amersham, December 4, 1860, where he says: “The parish is one of
the strongest securities for local government, and on local government
mainly depends our political liberty.” He points out that the Church is
not oligarchical, and does not claim those exclusive privileges which
the Nonconformists often do. It is national in its comprehensive ties
with the country and its inclusiveness. The abolition of the parish
system would alone prove a national and social upheaval.

[102] This policy was pressed by Peel in the early ’forties, and led to
the fine work of the National Schools.

[103] That of Strauss.

[104] In the Croker Papers will be found a masterly letter from Sir
Robert Peel on the importance of the Church rising to her educational
opportunities. It was Peel’s foresight that produced the National
Schools. Peel, though latitudinarian, was a Church statesman.

[105] I may add that what Disraeli resented in Gladstone’s thwarted
proposals for his Catholic University scheme was that it sought
to exclude theology and philosophy--an exception unworthy of any
“Universitas rerum,” and deeply repugnant to the Catholics.

[106] Letter to D. O’Connell, 1835.

[107] This has been elaborately developed by Bolingbroke in his
“Philosophical Works.”

[108] How true this has now proved itself in France!

[109] Elsewhere Disraeli said that Paris always remains a republic.

[110] It will be noticed that Sir Robert goes beyond Disraeli’s ideas
of direct kingship.

[111] In 1872, Disraeli said, after stating that Lord Derby’s successor
was no enemy to Russian aggression, “... I speak of what I know, not
of what I believe, but of what I have evidence in my possession to
prove, _that the Crimean War would never have happened if Lord Derby
had remained in office_....” Lord Derby’s error in resigning in 1853
he always deplored; just as he regretted equally his rash acceptance
of office during the previous year, and his more fatal timidity in
shrinking from assuming it in 1855.

[112] This passage was written before the events of 1903.

[113] This was realised some ten years later by the repeal of the Sugar
Duties.

[114] The speech about Income Tax, which contains another masterly
analysis of the displacement of labour. Previously, in 1845, he
had said of Canada, “... I am not one of those who think that its
inevitable lot is to become annexed to the United States. Canada has
all the elements of a great and independent country, and is destined, I
sometimes believe, to be the Russia of the New World.”

[115] “Ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἀπολώλεκ’ ἀλλὰ καταπεφρόντικα.”

[116] It will be remembered that in _Coningsby_ “Rigby’s” election
speech called everything with which he disagreed “un-English.”
Dickens’s satire of the misuse of “un-English” in the person of
“Podsnap” may be compared.

[117] “Light and leading,” which Disraeli employed long before the
famous letter to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, in a speech of 1858,
comes of course from Burke. His theory of the House of Lords in 1861 as
“an intermediate body” is derived from Bolingbroke and Burke. “Peace
with honour” he employed in one of his Crimean speeches. Many of his
phrases were derived from the works of his father.

[118] He had in an earlier speech considered this question with regard
to Canada.

[119] This very phrase was repeated by Lord Beaconsfield in 1876.

[120] This point is admirably elucidated by Mr. Ewald in his “Life and
Times of Lord Beaconsfield.”

[121] Chiefly that of the Turkish frontier in Europe, and of the
Russian in Asia.

[122] A most interesting collection might be made of Disraeli’s ready
and fluent illustration by precedents. For of precedent his memory was
quite as retentive as Gladstone’s. In his famous Address to the Crown
of 1864, he was sharply blamed for referring to “the just influence
of England being lowered” in the extraordinary tangle of alternate
brag and whimper that attended the Government’s action in the Danish
embroilment. This language was solemnly declared “unprecedented since
the great days of the Norths and the Foxes.” But Disraeli instantly
proved that Fox himself had used language in his own Address far more
violent and censorious of the Ministry in 1846. So, again, on at least
two occasions when the phrases “political morality” and “political
infamy” were bandied for partisan purposes, he effectively hurled
back the taunts in the teeth of their inventors, and refuted present
profession by past conduct. When Palmerston again twitted him, in 1846,
he received a reminder which brought home the jaunty service of seven
successive Administrations, and all this, though he never attacked
small game, and never any “unless he had been first assailed.” In the
earlier numbers of _The Press_ are many most interesting historical
instances of how “principles” may be confused with “measures,” when
the latter have to be relinquished in office from the practical duty
of _carrying on the Government_, while at the same time the former can
be developed in other directions when the national condemnation of the
particular measure is deliberate. So Fox had acted towards Catholic
emancipation, Russell towards the Appropriation Bill, the Whigs in
the ’forties towards the Income Tax, and Disraeli in 1852 towards
“Protection.” So, he argued in many previous utterances, the principle
must now be followed by relieving the land, now placed under unfair
conditions of competition, of its burdens.

[123] Of Disraeli’s Indian policy this much may here be noted. While
allowing Russia to expand where she was entitled or compelled by war,
or allowed by opening intrigues, he wished to baffle her as against
Great Britain.

  (1) By an independent Afghanistan, with a proper frontier and its
        Indian “gates” barred.

  (2) By preventing Russia through Turkestan’s approaches to Afghan
        and Persia’s eastern border.

  (3) By precluding her from Persia’s western border through the
        regions of the Euphrates Valley, (_a_) through making Turkey
        compact in Asia (Erzeroum and Bayazid); (_b_) through Cyprus
        guarding the Mediterranean approaches.

[124] “... Do you think a man like that, called upon to deal with
a Metternich or a Pozzo, has no advantage over an individual who
never leaves his chair in Downing Street except to kill grouse?
Pah! Metternich and Pozzo know very well that Lord Roehampton knows
them....” “Roehampton” is Palmerston. The prophecy of the Congress
repeats one in _Contarini_.

[125] Of the many passages that may be read in this connection,
including that fine ironical one of the Feast of Tabernacles in
_Tancred_, paralleled by that about “Moses Lump” in Heine, and the
telling chapter in the _Life of Lord George Bentinck_, I will only
cite one less familiar from _Alroy_: “... All was silent: alone
the Hebrew prince stood, amid the regal creation of the Macedonian
captains. Empires and dynasties flourish and pass away; the proud
metropolis becomes a solitude, the conquering kingdom even a desert;
but Israel still remains, still a descendant of the most ancient kings
breathed amid these royal ruins, and still the eternal sun could never
arise without gilding the towers of living Jerusalem.” This (with
its after-irony of “Alroy’s” seizure by the Kourdish bandits) may be
compared with the satire in which Disraeli encountered Mr. Newdegate’s
appeals to “prophecy:” “... They have survived the Pharaohs, they
have survived the Cæsars, they have survived the Antonines and the
Seleucidæ, and I think they will survive the arguments of the right
honourable member....” Mr. Morley tells that Mr. Gladstone said that
Disraeli asserted that only those nations that behaved well to the Jews
prospered. Disraeli, in saying so, however, only repeated a _dictum_ of
Frederick the Great.

[126] “Say what they like,” so “Herbert” in _Venetia_, “there is a
spell in the shores of the Mediterranean Sea which no others can rival.
Never was such a union of natural loveliness and magical associations!
On these shores have risen all that interests us in the past--Egypt and
Palestine, Greece, Rome, and Carthage, Moorish Spain and feudal Italy.
These shores have yielded us our religion, our arts, our literature,
and our laws. If all that we have gained from the shores of the
Mediterranean was erased from the memory of man, we should be savages.”

[127] It was translated into Greek, as _Alroy_ was into Hebrew.

[128] He mentions it both in his _Home Letters_ and in _Tancred_ as to
be acquired by England.

[129] In 1878, Disraeli, after emphasising the Sultan’s friendliness to
Greece and the value of a Græco-Turk _entente_ as a bar to “Pan-Slavic
monopoly,” said: “... No prince, probably, that has ever lived has
gone through such a series of catastrophes. One of his predecessors
commits suicide; his immediate predecessor is subject to a visitation
even more awful. The moment he ascends the throne, his ministers are
assassinated. A conspiracy breaks out in his own palace, and then he
learns that his kingdom is invaded, ... and that his enemy is at his
gates; yet with all these trials, ... he has never swerved in ... the
feeling of a desire to deal with Greece in a spirit of friendship....
He is apparently a man whose ... impulses are good, ... and where
impulses are good, there is always hope.”

[130] _Cf._ his _Life of Lord George Bentinck_, p. 170.

[131] This was the speech in which Disraeli styled himself as not only
a devoted parliamentarian, but “a gentleman of the Press.”

[132] Disraeli always maintained that the expulsion of Louis Philippe
was the act of the secret societies, and not that of the French nation.
He had reason to know. His letters in 1848 are full of gloom regarding
the outlook in Europe. So were Carlyle’s.

[133] _Life of Lord George Bentinck_ (1852).

[134] “... The end of their system ... is the glory of the empire and
the prosperity of the people.”

[135] Disraeli was always careful to distinguish between
“revolution”--a permanent upheaval, and “insurrection”--a transitory
outburst. Thus he expressly terms the continental movements of 1848,
“insurrections.”

[136] Though published in 1836, it was written considerably earlier.

[137] Explaining, in 1835, his phrase that “the Whigs had grasped the
bloody hand of O’Connell,” Disraeli said: “I mean that they had formed
an alliance with one whose policy was hostile to the preservation of
the country, who threatens us with a dismemberment of the empire, which
cannot take place without a civil war.”

[138] _Cf._ the “passionate carelessness” in “the old state of affairs”
of “this experimental chapter in our history” in the speech of March,
1869. On the “Maynooth Grant” question, also, he observed, in 1846,
that the boons offered to the Roman Catholics were, that “two should
sleep in a bed instead of three.”

[139] Eight years before, Disraeli had written in the trenchant
slap-dash of his _Runnymede Letters_: “... Then, Ireland must be
tranquillised. So I think. Feed the poor and hang the agitators. That
will do it. But that’s not your way. It is the _destruction_ of the
English and Protestant interest that is the Whig specific for Irish
tranquillity.”

[140] He was alluding to Lord Derby’s earlier efforts. And again, in
another speech: “... The principles of our policy were, first, to
create and not destroy; and, secondly, to acknowledge that you could
not in any more effectual way strengthen the Protestant interest than
by doing justice to the Roman Catholics.”

[141] He pointed out that England experienced both Norman and Dutch
conquests; and that if Cromwell conquered Ireland, he conquered England
too.

[142] “... Fenianism now is not rampant; we think we have gauged its
lowest depths, and we are not afraid of it” (Speech, April 3, 1868).
As regards coercion, he always maintained that proved sedition alone
justified it.

[143] He wrote that the question of the Church in Ireland was one
totally without the pale of modern politics. His programme also at the
dissolution breathed not a word on the subject.

[144] Rogers is mentioned in the very young Disraeli’s _Infernal
Marriage--“The Pleasures of Oblivion_. The poet, apparently, is fond of
his subject.”

[145] He lost his life in restoring Ely Cathedral. He designed a
portion of Belgrave Square. When Disraeli was at last returned to
Parliament, he wrote to his sister, “So much for Uncle G. and his
‘maddest of mad acts.’”

[146] He mentions several less familiar among the ancients. For
instance, John of Padua in _Endymion_.

[147] In a letter of the late ’forties to his sister, he says with
surprise that Croker (who disclaimed having read it) should have
greeted him with effusion. In the same correspondence he repeats a
_mot_ that the two most disgusting things in life--because you cannot
deny them--are Warrender’s wealth, and Croker’s talents.

[148] When they met, Sir Walter treated him with cordiality;
nevertheless, in one of his late letters he styles him “_un vieux
crapaud_.”

[149] In 1761 he was even bankrupt. _Cf._ British Museum. Add. MS.
36,191, f. 8.

[150] Theodore Hook is the original of “Lucian Gay” in _Coningsby_.

[151] His acquaintance seems to have been made through “Platonist
Taylor,” who gave literary symposia.

[152] In Spain he rescued a lady from robbers. On the Ægean he armed
and drilled the crew against pirates. In Palestine, with difficulty and
courage, he forced his way into the Mosque of Omar. In Egypt a pacha
asked him to draft a constitution.

[153] _Cf._ British Museum Add. MS. 34,616, f. 45. I have referred to
this in Chapter I.

[154] “Sure you were to find yourself surrounded by celebrities,
and men were welcomed there if they were clever, before they were
famous, which showed it was a house that regarded intellect, and did
not seek merely to gratify its vanity by being surrounded by the
distinguished.”--_Coningsby._

[155] _Vivian Grey._

[156] He liked to descant on the fast-fading and now vanished political
Salon. That of “Lady St. Julians,” who “was not likely to forget
her friends,” will be recalled by perusers of _Sybil_. In a Glasgow
speech--recently revived by an evening journal--he praised, with
admiration, Lady Palmerston’s, where diplomatists, at loggerheads with
the minister, could meet him in the neutral zone of his gifted wife’s
catholic hospitality.

[157] “Great as might have been the original errors of Herbert ... they
might, in the first instance, be traced rather to a perverted view of
society than of himself.”

[158] Byron also figures in _Ixion_. “All is mystery, and all is
gloom, and ever and anon, from out the clouds a star breaks forth and
glitters, and that star is Poetry.”

[159] This recalls us to the ’thirties. In a letter to his sister he
mentions the wineglass shape as a new receptacle for champagne.

[160] It may, however, refer to a certain Lady Sykes.

[161] There is another similar passage so early as in _Popanilla_,
which says that “... there were those who paradoxically held all this
Elysian morality was one of great delusion, and that this scrupulous
anxiety about the conduct of others arose from a principle, not of
_Purity_, but _Corruption_. The woman who is “talked about,” these
sages would affirm, is generally virtuous....” But the allusion may
here be to Queen Caroline.

[162] _Coningsby._

[163] _Venetia_; _The Young Duke_.

[164] _Ibid._

[165] _Ibid._

[166] The brilliant Mr. T. P. O’Connor, in the first edition of
a “Biography” (which, perhaps, now he regrets), troubled himself
to search out and enumerate the writs out against Disraeli in the
early ’thirties. Most of his debts were for elections and “backing”
his friends’ bills. From friends he never borrowed; always from
“Levison’s.” _Vivian Grey_ was originally written to defray a debt.

[167] Levison offers the required advance, £700 in cash, £800 in coals.
The captain expostulates, and is answered: “Lord! my dear Captin, £800
worth of coals is a mere nothink. With your connection you will get
rid of them in a morning. All you have got to do ... is to give your
friends an order on us, and we will let you have cash at a little
discount.... Three or four friends would do the thing.... Why, ’tayn’t
four hundred chaldron, Captin.... Baron Squash takes ten thousand of us
every year; but he has such a knack; _he gits the clubs to take them_.”

[168] It was written 1830-31.

[169] This quality is noticeable in his descriptions: Jerusalem
at noon--“A city of stone in a land of iron with a sky of brass.”
Seville--“Figaro in every street, Rosina on every balcony.” _Cf._ p.
304.

[170] It will be recalled that in opposing the Burials Bill, which he
treated with respect, Disraeli, after expounding the parish rights
in the churchyard, said, “I must confess that, were I a Dissenter
contemplating burial, I should do so with feelings of the utmost
satisfaction.”

[171] _Cf._ _The Infernal Marriage_--“Are there any critics in Hell?”
“Myriads,” rejoined the ex-King of Lydia. There is a kindred remark in
one of Landor’s Dialogues.

[172] From Swift, however.

[173] See his “Literary Character; or, The History of Men of Genius.”

[174] One of the best is the invective against the collapse of Peel’s
“sliding scale:”--“... Of course the Whigs will be the chief mourners;
they cannot but weep for their innocent, though it was an abortion. But
ours was a fine child. Who can forget how its nurse dandled and fondled
it? ‘What a charming babe! Delicious little thing! So thriving! Did
you ever see such a beauty for its years?’ And then the nurse, in a
fit of patriotic frenzy, dashes its brains out, and comes down to give
master and mistress an account of this terrible murder. The nurse too,
a person of a very orderly demeanour, not given to drink, and never
showing any emotion, except of late when kicking against protection.”

[175] The late Duke of Abercorn.

[176] Of his verse I have not treated. No reader, however, of his fine
sonnet on the Duke of Wellington, inscribed in the Stowe album, or of
the wistful lyric addressed from the Ægean to his family in the _Home
Letters_, or of the “Bignetta” rondel in the _Young Duke_, with its
Heinesque close, or even of “Spring in the Apennines” from _Venetia_,
can doubt his genuine gift for poetry and metre.

[177] “The art of poetry was to express natural feelings in unnatural
language.”--_Contarini._

[178] In five volumes. Its original dedication ran:--

     “To the Best and Greatest of Men.
      He for whom it is intended will accept and appreciate the compliment,
      Those for whom it is not intended will do the same.”

[179] _Vivian Grey._

[180] _Contarini Fleming._

[181] _Venetia._

[182] _Cf._ Bolingbroke’s “Compare the situations without comparing the
characters.”

[183] This idea was emphasised by Bolingbroke.

[184] Hume’s election support, the challenge of O’Connell, the
cultivation of Chandos, the “Canning” episode, the surrender of
“protection,” and the delay in producing the Indian despatches,
respectively.

[185] Notably in 1855.

[186] This is told in one of Sir Mountstuart Grant Duff’s “Diaries.”

[187] It is noticeable, as regards the habitual recurrence of his
phrases, that in his early letters he always nicknames this first
illness “the enemy,” the same as he used to his physicians in his last.
His early ill health quickened his continual sympathy with suffering.
No better instance could be read than his speech at the opening of the
Hospital for Consumption, with his beautiful references to Jenny Lind,
as song ministering to sorrow.

[188] At Berlin Bismarck said of him, “Disraeli _is_ England.” His
translated works were, and I believe are, read widely abroad.



INDEX


  Addington, 82

  Addison, 286

  Afghanistan, 215 _et seq._ and _n._ 1

  Ali Pacha, 271

  America, on primitive and Puritans, 250;
    “landed” democracy, 67, 91, _n._ 1, 246, 251;
    Canadian “retaliation” on, 136, _n._ 1;
    Church, 148-152, 204, 244;
    Disraeli’s discernment regarding, 48, 234, 246-247;
    civil war would transform colonial into imperial spirit, 247-250;
    Anglophobia, his wise distinctions as to, 250-253;
    Fenianism, insight regarding, 253-256;
    the negro difficulty, 251;
    manners, 283;
    Disraeli on marriage in, 287;
    manners, 283

  Antonelli, 175

  Austen, Jane, 302, 305

  Austin, Mrs., 10, 23, 31, 270

  Austria, 208, 226, 240;
    Disraeli’s attitude towards, 241, 291


  Baring, Thomas, 269

  Basevi, George, 269

  ----, Nathaniel (alluded to), 269

  Baumer (valet), (alluded to), 26

  Beaumarchais, 309

  Bentinck, Lord G., 41, _n._ 1, 42, _n._ 1, 304

  Berlin Congress, 45, 217, 227, 231, 235, 239;
    Disraeli at, 326, _n._ 1

  Bismarck, Prince, 45, 241, 326, _n._ 1

  Blessington, Lady, 47, 271, _n._ 2;
    Disraeli on, 277 and notes

  Bliss, Dr. (antiquarian), 269

  Bolingbroke, Lord, 3;
    Disraeli’s clue, 11, 24, 25, _n._ 1, 46, 51, _n._ 2, 72, 83,
        _n._ 2;
    Utrecht Treaty, 129, 130, 172, _n._ 2;
    ideas of monarchy--their influence on Disraeli, 194-198, 203,
        _n._ 2, 206, 234, 259

  Borthwick, 125

  Bowring, Sir J., 221

  Brandes, 9

  Bright, John, 98, 109, (1879) 206;
    and Gladstone, 207-208;
    his tribute to Disraeli, 247

  British Columbia (1858), 200

  Brontës, the, 301

  Brooks, Shirley, 25, _n._ 1

  Brougham, Lord, 51

  Browning, R., 313

  Bryce, Rt. Hon. J., 9, 247

  Buckingham, Duke of, 271

  Bulgaria and Eastern Roumelia, 225, 226 _et seq._;
    the two portions only repieced through the “autonomy” implanted by
        Disraeli in one of them, 227

  Bulwer, Sir H., 43, _n._

  Burke, Edmund, 3, 25, 44, _n._, 46, 55, 67, 72, 83, _n._ 2, 194,
        198, 203, _n._ 2, 280

  Burney, Frances, 268

  Byron, Lord, 47, 183, 270, 275;
    Disraeli on, 276;
    in _Ixion_, 276, _n._ 1;
    “Cadurcis,” 293, 321;
    quoted, 15


  Canada, 136, _n._ 1, 137, 200 and _n._ 2, 206, _n._ 1, 247, 250

  Canning, 3, 25;
    dedication to, 48, 55, 195, 198

  Cape, the, 201, 213

  Carlyle, Thomas, 34, 35, 58, 125, 126;
    identity of ideas with Disraeli’s, 62, 77, 85-92, 119,
        238, _n._ 1;
    picturesque, 303;
    style, 313

  Carnarvon, Lord, 213

  Caroline, Queen, 24, _n._ 4, 277, _n._ 2

  Castlereagh, Lord, “solidarity of Europe,” 209

  Cervantes, 293

  Chartism, 11, 61, 87, 106;
    Disraeli’s sympathy with Chartists in 1840, 113;
    in 1852 ... 26, _n._ 1

  Chatham, Lord, 3;
    Disraeli on, 24, 74, 195, 200;
    empire, 208

  China, 221, 234

  Church, 69, 70, 90;
    one of the problems, 1830-40 ... 113, 125;
    and “Labour,” 126, 127, 129;
    Disraeli’s historical and social ideas on Church and Theocracy,
        145-156;
    Anglicanism and Puritanism, 149, 152-155;
    undoing of national Church a disaster for Nonconformists, 153-154;
    attitude to latter, 163-165;
    science, materialism, indifferentism, “higher” criticism,
        rationalism, 156-158, 165-166;
    Ritualism, 170;
    education (_q.v._), 167-169;
    discipline, 169-170;
    Romanism, 171-178;
    “The great house of Israel,” 179;
    “Corybantic Christianity,” 174;
    Radicalism, Liberalism, and Romanism, 175, (1836) 184;
    Irish, 262-266

  Churchill, Lord Randolph, 286

  Clanricarde, Lady, 295

  Clay, J., 270

  Cobbett, 105

  Cobden, R., 34;
    and Gladstone, 40, _n._ 2, 86, 238

  Coleridge, S. T., 125

  Colonies, 32, 49, 51;
    Disraeli’s early interest in, 199;
    federations and constitutions, 201;
    critical state of home feeling regarding, 1839-53, 201;
    effect of democracy on, 202;
    Disraeli’s important pronouncements regarding, 203-206;
    Gladstone’s and Bright’s policy contrasted, 207 _et seq._;
    self-government, 207-214;
    and America, 250-252

  Copley, Sarah, 22, 270

  Cowper, W. (poet), quoted, 13;
    empire, 208, 245

  Croker, 269 and _n._ 4

  Cromwell, Oliver, 3;
    republican theocracy, 149, 180;
    Ireland, 261

  Currie, Lady, 29


  Dante, theocracy, 147

  Davison, Mr., letter to (quoted), 272

  Denmark, 213, _n._ 1, 235, 239

  Derby, Lord, 14, (1852) 25, _n._ 1, 39, 41, _n._ 2, 136-138, (1852
        and 1855) 191, _n._ 1;
    on Russian methods, 226;
    Ireland, 260, _n._ 1

  Dickens, Charles, 289;
    romance, 302

  Disraeli, Benjamin, Earl of Beaconsfield [and _see_ Carlyle,
        Colonies, Empire, Reform Bill, America, Ireland, and Foreign
        Policy], his idea of Conservatism, 5-8, 39, 204;
    a poet and artist, 11, 36;
    his early surroundings, 16-18, 268-272;
    unique phases of earliest youth, 16, 18, 275, 309-312, 321-325;
    distinction between wish for influence and for position, 12;
    his mission, 5-7, 12, 49-52, 56, 111, 119, 210;
    regrets Lord Derby’s temerity then, as much as his timidity in the
        _gran’ rifuto_ of 1855 ... 191, _n._, 213, _n._;
    indisposition to take office, 1852 ... 14;
    never opportunist: courted unpopularity, _ib._;
    “national” attitude, 19, 47, 48, 49, 55, 56, 66, 68, 84,
        191, _n._, 210;
    responsibility and privilege, 7, 13, 95, 98, 107, 144, 210;
    utterances to be viewed successively, 20;
    described in youth, 22-25;
    described in age, 25-27;
    debt, 24, 281-282;
    gambling, 282;
    contradictions in, 46, 47;
    reconciliation of, 43, 293;
    illness, 23, 311, 324, 325;
    love of flowers and forestry, 26;
    light and books, _ib._;
    influence with Queen, 29;
    and art, 19, 30;
    manners, 31;
    love of London, 31, 307-308;
    vigilance, 32, 246;
    generosity, 34, 35;
    contrasted with Gladstone, 35-42;
    scholarship, 36;
    love of beauty, 17;
    his longsighted plan, 39;
    land, labour, democracy, and empire, _ib._;
    principles and measures, _ib._;
    duties of opposition, 40;
    wish for strong government, _ib._, 42, 50, 210, 252;
    dislike of bores, 40, 44, 224;
    “nationality and race,” 45, 225;
    “detachment,” 46;
    influence of eighteenth century on, _ib._;
    “predisposition,” _ib._;
    religious ideas, _ib._;
    “feudal and federal principles,” 51, 63;
    change and “obsolete opinions,” 51, 81;
    French Revolution theories, 58-68, 83, 85, 97, 145;
    historical outlook, 73-77, 81-83;
    revolutions, 47, 72;
    republican plots, 77;
    dread of plutocracy, 6, _n._ 3, 77, 111, 115, 129, 202;
    universal suffrage, 77-80, 98-104;
    gentlemen should prove leaders, 80;
    conduct in 1852 ... 39, 40;
    store set by landed interest, 68, 71, 86, 95, 114, 135;
    languages, 241;
    classics, 249;
    middle classes, 83, 105, 123-124, 134-135, 251;
    efficacy of Parliament (1848), 87;
    his principles of representation, 94;
    taxation and, 94;
    income-tax and middle class, 96;
    views prophecies as to social effects of Peel’s changes, 97;
    uniform wish throughout for industrial franchise, 98 _et seq._;
    “free aristocracy,” 49, 98, 118, 119;
    adopted rating principle of Russell in 1854 ... 100;
    the consistent train which led to his measure of 1867, 99-101;
    counties and boroughs, 100, 104;
    wanted democracy as an element, not a class, 101;
    “population” and property standards, 101-104;
    wish for variety in representation, 98, 104;
    discontent and disaffection, 106;
    summary of his ideal for making Toryism “national,” 107;
    “household democracy,” 109;
    Disraeli’s long consistency, 108-110;
    lifelong attitude to Labour, 112-129;
    problems of 1830-40 ... 113;
    Disraeli’s social outlook on “condition of England” and economical
        problems, 114 _et seq._;
    upshot of his sympathy with labour (_q.v._), 116 _et seq._, 118,
        119;
    vision of a vanishing industrialism, 119;
    the spirit of chivalry applicable to labour, 122;
    “saviours of society,” 122;
    and “Anglicanism,” 126;
    he breaks up “Young England” (1845) by pressing home their Church
        convictions, 128;
    parochial life more important even than political, 127;
    his views of “Free Trade” (_q.v._), 131-142;
    influence on prices and wages of precious metals, 131,
        _n._ 1, 133, 140;
    “Reciprocity,” 129, 131, 138, 140;
    attitude on Corn Laws, 131-135;
    distribution of labour and purchasing power, 113, 131;
    Disraeli’s probable attitude towards Mr. Chamberlain’s present
        fiscal scheme adumbrated: wholesale plans, retail
        applications, 135-141;
    consumer and producer, 136;
    social, political, spiritual aspects of _Church_ (_q.v._) viewed
        from Disraeli’s theocratic bias, 145-179;
    Puritanism and Theocracy, 149, 151;
    and Ireland, 200;
    Aryan and Semitic conceptions, 145 _et seq._;
    Anglican Church “part of England,” “one of the few great
        things left,” 153;
    society, inconceivable without religion, 155;
    part played by this attitude in his novels, 155-156;
    and science, 156-159;
    and revelation by races, 157, _n._ 1;
    materialism, 158;
    Disraeli’s beliefs, _ib._, 155;
    State would lose by severance, 159-163;
    “Atheism in domino,” 166;
    “Man in masquerade,” 170;
    not a “mystic,” 156;
    attitude on education (_q.v._), 167-169;
    discipline, 169, 170;
    universities, 169;
    his bias for _Monarchy_, 180-184;
    and royal prerogative, 184, 189-192, and fully the whole of Ch. V.;
    Royal Titles Bill, 193-194;
    cheapness of monarchy, 192;
    debt to Bolingbroke’s ideas, 195-198
    _Colonies_ (_q.v._), Disraeli’s zeal and plans for, 198;
      Disraeli’s attitude to “millstone” view investigated, 200-203;
      “Peace at any price,” 207;
      “timidity of capital,” 202;
      power of instancing political precedent, 213, _n._ 1;
      origin of his title, 44, _n._
    _Empire_ (_q.v._ and _Foreign Policy_), temper of his imperialism,
        209 _et seq._, 245;
      principles of his policy illustrated, 210-214, 217-221;
      Eastern policy considered, discussed, and illustrated, 222-236;
      “the just influence of England,” 235;
      diplomacy, 221-222;
      Cyprus, 230;
      his attitude to France (_q.v._), 235-239;
      Germany (_q.v._), 240;
      Austria and Italy (_q.v._), 241-243;
      Poland, Greece (_q.v._), 243;
      pronouncement on militarism with constitutional _forms_, 244;
      his farewell to constituents sums up his lifelong aims, and
        repeats the phrase, twice used, of his youth, 244-245;
      England restored to her due European position, 227, 332;
      European concert, 209, 230;
      lasting results, 216, 227, 229, 230;
      Bulgaria (_q.v._), Eastern Roumelia, and autonomy, 227
    _America_ (_q.v._), early predictions, 48, 246-250;
      “revolution” distinguished from “insurrection,” 247, _n._ 1;
      must be treated as an imperial power affecting Europe, 234, 248;
      the changes produced by her civil war, 248-249;
      Disraeli alone recognised the significance of the war, 247;
      his discerning treatment of Anglophobia, 250-253;
      negro problem, 251;
      Fenianism, its true character, 253-256, 261
    _Ireland_ (_q.v._), Disraeli’s early sympathy, and great insight
        into true difficulties of, 256, 261;
      distinguishes discontent from rebellion, 261;
      disestablishment and disendowment, 262-265
    _Society_, attitude to, 31, 44;
      early society around Disraeli, 268-272;
      his idea of real, 273-277, 284-285;
      love of purpose, 276;
      social charity, 277;
      love of contrasts, 277-278;
      foibles, 278-279;
      against social melancholy, 279;
      conversation, 279-281;
      debt, 281-282;
      friendship and ailments, 281;
      and trial, 288;
      “Levison and the coals,” 282, _n._ 2;
      the “Swells,” 283;
      political society, 283;
      salons, 274 and _n._ 1;
      club loungers, 284;
      domesticity, 284-285;
      women, love, and marriage, 285-287;
      dream-pictures, 287-288
    _Wit and humour_ distinguished, 289;
      nature of Disraeli’s--“a master of sentences,” 290;
      retorts, _ib._;
      aphorisms, 291-293;
      phrases, 293;
      similes, 292;
      political pictures, 292, 294-295;
      sense of ludicrous, 295-300;
      pathetic irony illustrated, 300-301
    _Romance and picturesqueness_, 301-308;
      Disraeli’s romanticism, 302-304;
      associative feeling and description, 290, _n._ 1, 304;
      scenery and light, 305-307;
      forms and sounds of trees, 306;
      the marvellous, 307;
      _love of and intimacy with London_, 307-308;
      blemishes of style considered and explained, 309-331;
      pathos, 309, 310;
      mode of preparation, 313;
      influence of the arts, 313-314;
      critics, 291, 315;
      _par excellence_ an imaginative fantastic, 313, 315;
      character of his fancy, 290;
      poetry, 304, 311, 323
    _Ideas on career_, 316;
      preparation and education (_q.v. sub-title_), 317;
      second-hand adaptation, 318;
      _action_, _ib._;
      life true piety, not brooding on death, _ib._;
      maxims, 319;
      “aloofness,” 320;
      “audacity,” 321;
      sensitiveness and courage, 321;
      idealism, 322;
      reverie, _ib._;
      industry, 326
    _His own career_ (and see above);
      earliest phases of, 322-325;
      dividing lines and moot points of, adverted to, 319;
      posthumous treatment by party, 325;
      tributes to, by Gladstone, Salisbury, and Granville, 326;
      character, 326
    _Fiction_--earliest works, 23, and _n._ 1;
      American pamphlet quoted, 48;
      his _verse_, 340, _n._;
      _his books quoted_, 1, 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14;
      on leisure, 32;
      enthusiasm, 15;
      characters in, _ib._, 17, 122, _n._ 1, 125, 129, 141,
        274 and _n._ 1;
      habit of transference, 16, 175, 210, 275, 277;
      in _Alarcos_, 16, 17;
      “predisposition” (real Toryism) and “education” (poets), 18, 19,
        31;
      _Vivian Grey_, 17, 32, 33, 44, 112, 117, 181, 270, 273, 275;
      its effects, 275;
      circumstances under which written, 309-310, 311, 323-324;
      its original dedication, 312, _n._ 1, 315
    Change and national character, 55, 56;
      physical wants, 60;
      man’s destiny, 59;
      true aristocracy, 62;
      “Equality” and Labour, 63, 64;
      institutions and nationalism, 65, 68;
      modern unoriginality, 69;
      “Estates” of realm, 68 (_cf._ 72, 82, 93, 95, 97, 226);
      “Marney” and dukeism, 75;
      old Whigs and Tories, 81-82;
      taxation, 82, _n._ 1;
      Burke, _ib._, _n._ 2;
      monopoly of power, _ib._, _n._ 3;
      bigotry of philosophy, 83;
      Reform Bill, 84, 91, 93, 94;
      utilitarianism (_q.v._), 87, 88, 123;
      towns, 115;
      labour and leadership, _ib._;
      House of Commons, 116;
      labour, 118;
      industry and industrialism, 119;
      a “dawn” for the People, 120;
      _laissez-faire_ (_Popanilla_), 123;
      Milnes (_q.v._), 125;
      Radicals for capital, 129;
      _Young England_ (_q.v._), 130;
      “Free exchange,” 142;
      Theocracy, 145;
      Church, 155;
      and science, 156-163;
      races instruments for special revelations, 157, _n._ 1;
      scepticism, 160;
      Ritualism, 170;
      Catholicism, 171-178;
      _Lothair_ analysed, 172-178;
      monarchy, 180-185;
      political change _per se_, evil, 183;
      colonies, 199;
      “un-English,” 203;
      militarism, 244;
      sympathy and empire, 217;
      Semitism, 222, _n._ 1;
      civilisation of Mediterranean, 223, _n._ 1;
      Alfieri, 241;
      Italy, 241-242;
      Ireland, 258;
      Fenianism, 255;
      Rogers (_Infernal Marriage_), 269, _n._ 1;
      architects, _ib._, _n._ 3;
      Gore House, 271, _n._ 2;
      society (_Infernal Marriage_), 273;
      breeding (_Lothair_), (_Coningsby_), (_Sybil_), 274;
        (_Venetia_), (_Vivian Grey_), (_Contarini Fleming_), 275;
      Luttrell (_q.v._), 276;
      D’Orsay (_q.v._), _ib._;
      Byron (_q.v._), 276-277;
      _Ixion_, _ib._;
      Lady Blessington (_q.v._), (_Young Duke_), (_Popanilla_), 277;
        (_Sybil_), _ib._;
        (_Infernal Marriage_), _ib._;
      startling contrasts, 278;
        (_Popanilla_, _Ixion_, _Sybil_), _ib._;
      foibles (_Popanilla_), _ib._;
        (_Coningsby_, _Young Duke_, _Venetia_), 279;
        (_Lothair_), 279;
      conversation (_Young Duke_), 280;
        (_Lothair_), 281;
      debt (_Henrietta Temple_), 282;
      gambling (_Vivian Grey_, _Young Duke_), _ib._;
      “Swells,” (_Lothair_), 283;
      political society (_Sybil_, _Endymion_, _Young Duke_), 283-284;
      club loungers, civic dinners, 284;
      home life (_Lothair_, _Venetia_), 284-285;
      women (_Lothair_, _Coningsby_, _Henrietta Temple_, _Vivian
        Grey_, _Contarini Fleming_), 285-287;
      and marriage, friendship, 287-288;
      _Wit, Humour, and Romance_, many passages, Ch. IX., _passim_;
      impartiality (_Alroy_), 321;
      _Correspondence and Letters_, 23, _n._ 4, 32, 131, _n._ 1, 271,
        272, 324, _n._ 1, 325
    _Pamphlets_ (and see “_Press_,” _The_)--_What is he?_ 1, 21, 33, 50;
      and _Spirit of Whiggism_, _Runnymede Letters_, 50, 66, 95, 149,
        _n._ 1, 197, 198;
      _Crisis Examined_, 21, _n._ 1, 51;
      _Letter to Lord Lyndhurst_, 51, 72, _n._ 2;
      Whiggism, Republicanism, Jacobinism, 74, 75-77;
      centralisation, _ib._, 93, 104;
      reform, 92;
      civil equality, 94;
      public opinion, 106;
      labour, 112;
      Corn Laws, 131;
      monarchy, 181, 184;
      “national party,” 196
    _Revolutionary Epick_ and Shelley, 47, 51, 68, 85;
      labour, 112, 311
    _Speeches_, 14, 38, 44, 50 (election address, 1832), 53;
      Equality, 64-65;
      Popular principles (1847), 69;
      Social and national importance of landed interests, 71, 72, 95;
      property and middle classes, 78-79;
      agitators, 79, 80, 106;
      importance of party system, 84, _n._ 1, 85, 86;
      land, 86;
      utilitarianism (_q.v._), 90 _et seq._;
      triennial parliaments, 92, (1846) 97;
      Reform speeches, (1848-59) 98-107, (1859) 101;
      public opinion, 106;
      ideal and national Toryism, 107;
      “popular privileges” and “democratic rights,” 107;
      Edinburgh (1867), 109;
      Chartists (1840), 113;
      Labour (1872-74), 116;
      “Trustees of posterity,” _bis_, 123, 130;
      anti-Erastianism, (1845) 128, (1848) _ib._;
      labour and gold, 133;
      Social ills and remedies of Free Trade, (1852) 135, (1879) 140;
      reciprocity, 138-139;
      social remedies (1872), 143;
      Church, 149;
      pledge for religious liberty, a benefit to Nonconformists, 153;
      Dissenting “sacerdotalism” (1870), 154;
      State would lose by severance from it of Church (1870), 159;
      parish life (1860), 163;
      Dissent, 164;
      religious revival, 160;
      rationalism (1861), 166;
      education (1832, 1839, 1854, 1867, 1870, 1872), 167-169;
      danger to State if the civil ecclesiastical powers, disunited,
        collide, 161;
      monarchy, (1872) 188-189, (1861) 194;
      colonies (1848), 200, 234;
      colonial empire, (1863) 204, (1872) 295;
      imperialism, (1862) 210, (1855) _ib._;
      “annexation,” (1879) 212-215, 216;
      consideration for subject races and foreign powers, (1879)
        217-221, (1856) 221, (1871) 228-229, (1860) 234-235,
        (1853) 236, (1864) 237, (1858) 237-238, (1864) _ib._,
        (1879) 239, (1878) 232, _n._ 1;
      Burials Bill (1880), 290, _n._ 2;
      diplomacy, (1860) 222, (1864) _ib._;
      Russia’s lawful ambition, 229;
      Berlin Treaty, 231, 235;
      “Pan-Slavism,” 232;
      “balance of power,” (1864) 234, (1870) 240;
      interference, 210, 235, 240;
      humanity (1876), 225;
      actuating principles of his outlook (repeating his earliest
        pamphlets), (1876) 244, (1881) 221;
      foresight as to America (1863), 247-248;
      speeches of discernment on America (1856), 248, 249;
      American Anglophobia, (1865) 250-251, (1871) 251-253;
      negroes, 251-252;
      Fenianism (1872), 254;
      _Ireland_, (1843) 256, (1844) 256-258;
      Maynooth, (1846) 257, _n._ 1, (1858) 260, _n._ 1, (1868) 259,
        261, (1869) 260;
      his four great speeches, (1868-69) 264-266, (1869) 260,
        (1871) 247, (1872) 254;
      Peel (1846), 278;
      _Wit_, (1845-49) 292, (1833, 1846, 1859, 1860, 1876) 295
    “_Democracy_,” attitude to, 7, 33, 39, 45, 47, 48, 49, 53,
        and Chap. II. _passim_, 58, 66, 69, 83, 88, _n._ 1, 91, 92,
        and _n._ 1, 93, 95, 97, 98-111, 117, 137, 201;
      in 1884 ... 100, 107-108;
      a true sovereignty, 119;
      America, 251
    _Education_, 11, 97, 98, 100, 101-106, 154, 159, 167-169,
        317, 318, 323
    _Qualities_--generally, 26, 32;
      ambition (its nature), 11, 12, 17, 323, and Ch. X. _passim_;
      self-control, 37, 321;
      aristocratic perception, popular sympathies, 49;
      buoyancy, 32;
      carelessness of money, 27;
      chivalry, 29, 286;
      courage, 25, 321;
      eloquence, 36;
      philippics, 41, _n._ 2;
      foresight and insight, 32, 35, 54, 96, 97, 115, 117, 118,
        133-135, 140, _n._ 1, 199, 207, 240, 247, 249, 266, 284,
        294, 321;
      friendship, 29;
      genius (“auto-suggestive”), 15, 16;
      gratitude, 27, 34, 325;
      humour, 37, and Ch. IX. _passim_;
      idealism, 16, 17, 322, and Ch. VIII., IX., and X. _passim_;
      imagination, 3, 52, 209, 221, and Ch. VIII., IX., and
        X. _passim_;
      independence (even when unpopular), 14, and Ch. VIII. and
        X. _passim_;
      individuality, 13, 19, 46, 49, 275, and Ch. VIII. and
        X. _passim_;
      intensity, 16, 321, 322;
      irony, Ch. IX. _passim_, 300-301;
      loneliness, 35, 284, and Ch. X. _passim_;
      loyalty and friendship, 29, 288;
      magnanimity, 15;
      instances of, 34, 213, _n._ 1;
      mystery, 44, 238, _n._ 1, 323;
      parliamentary, 32, 35, 37, 38, 39, 283, 292, 294-295;
      patience, 25, 316;
      reserve, 35, 226, 284;
      reverie, 32, 322;
      romance, 18, and Ch. IX. _passim_;
      sense of destiny and a mission, 12, 18, 46, 59, 310, and Ch. IX.
        and X. _passim_;
      sympathy with labour, 26, 39, 48, 60, 61, 64;
      his view of industrial franchise, 98-107;
      capacities of working classes, 105, 111, 112-129;
      fruits of, 116-117, 138;
      tenacity, 35, 36;
      will, 11, 14, 25, 40, 43, 47, 316; wit, 33, 43, 44;
      considered fully, Ch. IX.
    _Defects_, 15, 31, 35, 42, 43, 209, 240, 304, 309-313, 319, 321;
      characterised, 321, 322;
      style, 203, and Ch. IX. _passim_
    _Anecdotes_ of, Ch. I. _passim_, 16, _n._, 135, 241, 254, 256,
        268-272, 279, 281, 286, 287, 288, 290-291, 300, 319, 321,
        323, 325, 326, _n._

  Disraeli, Benjamin (Lord Beaconsfield’s grandfather), 16,
        270, and _n._ 1

  ----, Mrs. (Lady Beaconsfield), 10;
    Disraeli’s tributes to, 27;
    stories of, 28, 29, 30, 35, 268, 286, 288

  Disraeli, Isaac, 23;
    letter of (alluded to), 24, _n._ 1;
    influence on his son, 46, 172;
    phrases, 203, _n._ 2;
    his surroundings, 268-271;
    advice to his son, 275;
    phrases, 293, 300

  ----, Sarah, 10, 17, _n._, 22;
    her influence, 324

  D’Orsay, Count, 268;
    Disraeli on, 276;
    “Count Mirabel,” 277, 291

  Douce, F. (antiquarian), 269

  Downman, H., 269

  ----, J., 269

  Doyle, 124

  Dundas, Sir D., 44

  Durham, Lord, 14, _n._ 1


  Egypt, 208, 221;
    Suez Canal, 222

  Eldon, Lord, 5, 50, 82, 259

  Eliot, George, 302

  Empire, 49, 53, 54, 92, 161, 193, 205-207, 209-210, 212-245

  Ewald, Mr., 9, 207

  ----, Professor, 146


  Faber, 124;
    “St. Lys,” 126

  Falconieri, Tita, 24, _n._ 2, 270

  Foreign Policy [and _see_ various countries, including Poland];
    Disraeli’s principles of, 210-216, 217, 231, 234, 235;
    temper of his imperialism, 193, 205, 207, 209, 212-245;
    pacificatory, 210, 214, 216, 221, 235;
    principles of diplomacy, 209, 222

  Fox, Charles, 40, 213, _n._ 1

  France, 45, 66, 173, _n._ 1;
    Disraeli’s desire for _entente_ with, and general policy
        towards, 236-239;
    and Italy, 239;
    and Eastern question, _ib._

  Frederick the Great (quoted), 223, _n._ 1

  “Free Trade,” 36, 86, _n._ 1, 96, 97, 112, 114, 131-141;
    Disraeli’s probable attitude towards Mr. Chamberlain’s present
        fiscal schemes, illustrated by Disraeli’s own pronouncements,
        135-140;
    colonies a set-off to urban effects, _cf._ 202, 213, _n._ 1;
    Ireland, 260

  French Revolution, theories of, 2, 46, 58-69

  Frere, Sir Bartle, 212-215

  Frith, Mr., R. A., 28

  Froude, 9


  Garnett, Dr. R., 47

  George III., 74, 187, 197

  ---- IV., 181; society under, 272

  Germany, 45;
    theology, 166;
    Disraeli’s attitude towards, 240;
    discerns purport of the war, 1870, _ib._

  Gladstone, Right Hon. W. E., 34;
    compared with Disraeli, 35-42, 55, 98;
    and Cobden, 40, _n._ 2;
    and Oswald Millbank, 122, _n._ 1;
    Catholic University Bill, 169, _n._ 1;
    favours Canadian “retaliation” on America, 136, _n._ 1;
    prerogative, 190-191;
    and Bright, 207-208;
    precedent, 213, _n._ 1;
    corrected, 128, _n._ 1, 172, 184, 187, 222, _n._ 1, 258;
    his praise, 256, 262, 264;
    on Disraeli’s wit, 295;
    alluded to, 295;
    on indifference to world, 318;
    tribute of, to Disraeli, 326;
    inconsistencies in tactics, 36, _n._ 1

  Goethe, 15, 63, 157

  Gordon, General, 208

  Graham, Sir J., 34, 41, 236

  Graves, Mr., and Bradenham, 24, _n._ 1

  Grant-Duff, Sir Mountstuart, 34

  Granville, Lord, 295;
    tribute of, to Disraeli, 326

  Greece, 224-225, 226, 232, _n._ 1, 243

  Greenwood, Mr. Frederick, 43, _n._ 1

  Grey, Lord, 21, 74, 109, 110

  Guthrie, Dr., 43


  Hallam, A., 124

  Hamid, Abdul, 227, 232, _n._ 1, 233

  Hartington, Lord (Duke of Devonshire), on Disraeli, 12, 254

  Hatherley, Lord, 44

  Hayward, Abraham (critic), 17, _n._ 2, 38

  Heine, Heinrich, 9;
    on the People, 121;
    humour, 296

  Herbert, Sidney, 39

  Hook, Theodore, 270

  Hope, “Anastasius,” 124

  ----, Mr. Beresford, 290

  Hudson, Sir J., 213

  Hume (reformer), 77, 94;
    refuted on taxation theory, 97, 98, 103, 105, 112, 201


  India, 193, 200;
    Disraeli’s policy for, 215, 216;
    the Mutiny, 217-221, 225, 232;
    his Eastern policy, Indian, 232, and _passim_ throughout Ch. VI.

  Ireland, 33, 84, 127, 132, 133, 175;
    Disraeli’s early sympathy with, 256;
    follows Pitt’s policy, _ib._;
    his wonderful early speeches on the real question, 256-258;
    interpreted by later and much later utterances, 258-260;
    and Disraeli’s view of coercion, 258, _n._ 1;
    wish for strong government and an executive in touch with the
        people, 258, 260;
    variety of employment, 261;
    “conquered people,” 261, _n._ 1;
    Fenianism (_see_ America), _ib._, _n._ 2;
    progress from 1844 to 1868, 260-262;
    disestablishment and disendowment of Church, 262-266;
    Disraeli’s warning, 1881 ... 266;
    policy “to create, not to destroy,” 259, 261;
    against “identity of institutions,” 257;
    land question, 265, 267;
    pauperism, 260

  Italy, 45, 226;
    Disraeli’s attitude towards, 241-243;
    his private sympathy checked by public policy, 241-242


  Jamaica, 201

  Johnson, Dr., 280

  Jowett, Benjamin, cited on Eastern question, 230;
    on Disraeli, 321


  Kandahar, 208, 215 _et seq._ and _n._ 1

  Kebbel, Mr., 9;
    quoted, 129

  Kenealy, Dr., 34


  Lamb, Lady Caroline, 276

  Lamington, Lord (Baillie Cochrane), 27, 124, 125

  Landor, W. Savage, 291, _n._ 1

  Lassalle, Ferdinand, 122

  Layard, Sir Henry, 23, 224, 270

  Leighton, Lord, 203

  Lewis, Wyndham, Mr., 28

  Lind, Jenny, Disraeli’s reference to, 324, _n._ 1

  Liverpool, Lord, 83, _n._ 3, 132

  Lockhart, 23, _n._ 4, 271

  Londonderry, Lady, 271

  Louis Philippe, King, 10, 236, 237, 238, _n._ 1

  Luttrell, H., Disraeli on, 276

  Lyndhurst, Lord, 22, 51, 268, 270, 288

  Lytton, Sir E. Bulwer, 4, 22, 203, 270;
    romance, 301

  Lytton, Lord, 221


  Macaulay, Lord, 179, 209, 217, 256, 268

  Malmesbury, Lord, 201

  Manchester School, 50, _n._ 1, 200;
    and _see_ Utilitarianism

  Manin, Daniel, 241, 320

  Manners, Janetta, Lady John, 25

  ----, Lord John, 124, 126, 127

  Manning, Cardinal, 177

  Mario (_née_ White), Madame, “Theodora,” 47, _n._ 1

  Marx, Karl, 122

  Mathews, C., 270

  Melbourne, Lord, 14, _n._ 1, 198

  Meredith, Mr. (Sarah Disraeli’s _fiancé_), 270

  Metternich, 221, _n._ 1, 242

  Meynell, Mr. W., 20

  Midhat, Pacha, 227

  Millais, Sir John, 34

  Milnes, Monckton R. (Lord Houghton), 124, 125, 126

  Milton, John;
    political theocracy, 150-151;
    “Venetian Constitution” and Dutch models, 151

  Molesworth, 201

  Mommsen, Professor, 66

  Monarchy, 70, 84, 90, 96, 97;
    Disraeli’s attitude to, 182;
    prerogative, 184, 189-192;
    many-sided emblem, 191;
    King, the member for Empire, 192;
    “Empress of India,” not bastard imperialism, 193-194;
    with Church, make for civil order, 194

  Montagu, Lady Mary Wortley, 27

  Montaigne, 296

  Monteith, 124

  Moore, T., 269

  Morier, Sir R., 224

  ----, “Zohrab,” 270

  Morley, Right Hon. J. (quoted), 31, 34, 35, 41, 52, 222, _n._ 1

  Murphy, Serjeant, 125

  Murray, John, 23, 268


  Napier, editor, 23, _n._ 4, 270

  Napoleon III., 10, 122, 236, 238, 271

  Newdegate, Mr., 222, _n._ 2

  Newman, Cardinal, 6, _n._ 3, 170, 172

  New Zealand, constitution for, 201

  Nietzsche, F., 59, 60

  North, Lord, 213, _n._ 1


  O’Connell, Daniel, 172, _n._ 1, 255 and _n._ 1

  O’Connor, Feargus, 26, _n._ 1

  ----, Mr. T. P., 282, _n._ 1

  Osborne, Bernal, 33

  Owen, Robert, 122


  Padwick, Mr., 27

  Palmerston, Lord, 34, 200, 209, 210, 211, 213, _n._ 1, 222, _n._ 1,
        227, 240, 242

  ----, Lady, 274, _n._

  Peel, Sir Robert, 4, 8, 14, 25, 38;
    Disraeli’s real design in his overthrow, 40, 41, 48, 50, 56, 64,
        83, _n._, 96;
    disjointed labour, 112-114;
    his beneficial reduction of tariff, 113, 131, _n._ 1;
    “compensations” to land, 136;
    (1843) in favour of preference to Canada and Canadian “retaliation,”
        _ib._, _n._ 1;
    and Church education, 165, 167;
    notes on monarchy, 185-187;
    colonies, 201;
    empire, 208;
    his prophecy as to Disraeli, 217, 245;
    alluded to, 278, 291, 293, 304

  “Peelites,” 33, 35, _n._ 1, 39, 53, 295

  Penn, Mr., 269

  Perceval, 82

  Persia, 207

  Pitt, W., 5;
    young Disraeli’s example, 24, 74, 129, 256, 259

  Poland, Disraeli’s sympathy with, 243

  Pope, A., 290, 307

  Powles, Mr., 23 _n._ 2

  Pozzo, 222, _n._ 1, 271

  _Press, The_ (Disraeli’s organ, 1853-59), 25, _n._ 1;
    quoted, 7, _n._ 3, 33, _n._ 2, 39, 40, 53, 64, 181;
    detached democracy, 202, 213, _n._ 1;
    Turkey, 228;
    political wit, 295

  Prussia, 240

  Pye (Laureate), 268


  Reform Bill, 1832-36 ... 3, 8, 50, 51, _n._ 73, 77, 83;
    effects of, 82-85, 89, 94, 98, 110, 116, 180, 184

  ---- ----, 1867, principles of, illustrated by former pronouncements,
        78-80, 90 _et seq._, 94 _et seq._, 96, 98;
    its drift and meaning, 107-111, 138, 262

  _Representative_, The, 23, and _n._ 2

  “Returns to Nature,” 59

  Roebuck, N., 227

  Rogers, S., 269, and _n._ 1, 293

  Rowton, Lord, 9

  Ruskin, J., quoted, 89, 303

  Russell, Lord J., 14, _n._ 1, 34, 39, 40, 41, 56, 97, 98 (reform
        scheme of 1854) 100, (1860) 105, 132, 169;
    colonies and democracy, 202;
    empire, 208, 211, 213, _n._ 1

  Russia, 204, 208;
    and India, 215-216;
    newness of pretensions to Constantinople, 226, 229;
    the patriarchate, _ib._;
    Disraeli’s distinction between her “legitimate” and “illegitimate”
        ambitions, 229;
    his policy towards her, early indicated and long pursued, 228-234;
    Pan-Slavism, 232;
    dismemberment, 241


  Salisbury, Lord, 209, 232;
    tribute of, to Disraeli, 326

  San Stefano, Treaty of, 227, 229

  Savile, George (Halifax), 209

  Savonarola, Theocracy, 147

  Scott, Sir Walter, 23, _n._ 4, 28, 121, 126, 268, 269, 270,
        _n._  1., 302, 303

  Selwyn, 274

  Shaftesbury, Lord, 115;
    alluded to, 294

  Sheil, 4

  Shelley, P. B., 16;
    influence of, on Disraeli, 47, 223, _n._ 1;
    Disraeli on, 275, _n._ 1;
    alluded to, 293

  Sheridans, the, 10, 271, 288, 296

  Siddons, Mrs., 269

  Soudan, 208, 215

  South Africa, 137, 212-215

  Southey, R., 269

  Stafford, 125

  Strangford, Lord, 10, 16, _n._ 1;
    quoted, 62, 124

  Sunderland, Lord, 73, 152

  Swift, Jonathan, 6, _n._ 2, 18, 25, _n._ 1, 281, 290, 293,
        _n._ 1, 296, 300

  Sykes, Lady, 277, _n._ 1


  Taylor (“Platonist”), 270, _n._

  Tennyson, A., 124

  Thackeray, 16, _n._ 2, 279, 297, 300, 302

  Tocqueville, De, 7, 39, 66, 71;
    on Church, 154;
    monarchy, 180

  Transvaal, 208, 214

  Trelawny, 47

  Turkey, Disraeli’s attitude and policy towards, 222-234;
    Disraeli _not_ pro-Islam, 222-223;
    his policy traditional, 224;
    real facts of Turkish question in Europe, 226-228;
    Cyprus, 232


  Urquhart, Mr., and “Sidonia,” 122, 272

  Utilitarianism, 1, 12, 18, 87-89, 112, 113, 114, 115, 123, 206


  Victoria, Queen, 10, 29, (1837) 185, 187;
    Royal Titles Bill, 193-194;
    Indian language and India, 194, 220-221, 270

  Villiers, Mr. C., 112

  Voltaire, quoted by Disraeli, 158, _n._ 3;
    influence, 290


  Waldegrave, Frances, Lady, 288

  Walewski, 238

  Walpole, Horace, 290

  ----, Mr. Spencer, 32

  ----, Sir R., 73, 92, _n._ 1, 95, 132, 148, 152

  Wellington, Duke of, 240, _n._ 1

  Westbury, Lord, 44

  Wetherell, 82

  Whalley, Mr., 38

  Whigs, “New” and “Old,” 78-83, 90 _et seq._, 96, 99, 132, 143, 184,
        213, _n._ 1, 262

  White, Sir W., 226, 233

  Whittlestone (valet), 24, _n._ 2

  William III., 3, 148

  Williams, Mrs. (of Torquay), 10, 29

  Wiseman, Cardinal, 175

  Wood, Sir Charles, 320

  Wyndham, Sir W., 80, 82, 259


  “Young England,” 14, 48, 115;
    fully considered, 123-130;
    and Maynooth, 128;
    “Sanitas sanitatum,” 128-129;
    fruits of, 130


  Zulu War, 212-215



    PRINTED BY
    WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED,
    LONDON AND BECCLES.



      *      *      *      *      *      *



Transcriber’s note:

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were
not changed. Accent marks in non-English words were neither added or
removed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unpaired
quotation marks retained.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.

Footnotes originally were at the bottoms of pages; in this eBook, they
have been collected and placed just before the Index.

Index not checked for proper alphabetization or correct page references.

Page 41: “Ignatius Loyala” and “Duchess of Marborough” were printed
that way.

Page 91: Closing single-quotation mark added after “‘religious faith”.

Page 112: Closing quotation mark removed after “withhold” in the
quotation beginning “withhold his support from”.

Page 135: Closing quotation mark added after “monarchy of England,”.

Page 210: Closing quotation mark added after “vindicate the honour of
the country.”

Page 251: Closing quotation mark removed after “their future conduct.”

Page 286: “portrayed in _Venetia_ that in any” was printed that way.

Page 292: Closing quotation mark added after “genius and resources of
society.”.

Page 317: Closing quotation mark removed after “it was necessary to
acquire them.”

Footnote 38, originally on pages 41-42: opening quotation mark added
just before “Disraeli’s brilliant philippics”.

Footnote 144, originally on page 270: the quotation marks appeared as
shown here.





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