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PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.
The absorption of an unusually large edition of this work in a very expensive form leads me to hope that a reissue, continued to the date of the death of its noble subject, may not be unacceptable.
In all important respects the book remains unaltered, but some notes and illustrations have been cancelled, not because they were uninteresting in themselves, but because they appeared, to a certain extent, to obstruct the course of the narra tive. The space thus obtained has been utilised for the purpose of giving a sketch of the period between 1876—with which year the former issue of this work ended-and the present time.
In the new matter, as in the old, I have striven to present a fair and impartial account of the career of the great statesman, whose death all Englishmen alike lament, excluding, on the ono hand, panegyric of the kind which Lord Beaconsfield himself would have been the last to desire, and, on the other, criticism of that ungenerous sort with which the students of contemporary history are but too familiar. My own opinions will be found in the preface to the first edition, written now nearly three years ago. My critics have often counselled its suppression, but on looking back over the events of the period which has elapsed since that preface was written, I do not see any reason for altering a word of it. I then recognised Lord Beaconsfield as the one man of political genius whom this century had produced. Nothing that has occurred since that time has changed my opinion. But whatever I may have said in my preface I trust my narrative will be found sufficiently impartial. My object has been to show Lord Beaconsfield as he was, and not to demonstrate how much wiser I should have been in his place. Thus, for example, I am personally an upholder of the principles of Free Trade, but I do not on that account feel myself called upon to denounce Lord Beaconsfield because at one period of his life he accepted what some are pleased to consider
the “economic heresies” of Protection. Another word of explanation may find a place here. Two or three of my critics in the daily and weekly press have censured me somewhat severely because my book does not contain a complete history of England since 1830. I can only say that it makes no pretension to be anything of the kind. All that I have attempted has been to tell as much of that history as was necessary for the due understanding of the share which Lord Beaconsfield had in making it; anything more would have been outside the plan of the book.
Whatever may be thought of the execution of the work, I am glad to have reason to believe that the principal object I had in view when writing it, has been to a great extent attained. A more just and generous view of the character and work of its subject now prevails alike in England and on the Continent, and in the creation of that new public opinion this book may fairly claim to have had a share. Since its publication several journals of unquestionable Liberalism have had the candour to confess that many of the current stories of Lord Beaconsfield's early days are malignant slanders, which it is a shame for an honest antagonist to repeat, and have given what is substantially the version of such stories which I have put forward. More than this, I have had the pleasure of seeing the ideas, the facts, the suggestions and the illustrations of this book quoted-almost invariably without acknowledgment-in the speeches of some public men and in the pages of many more or less important journals. The example set by English journalism has been liberally followed on the Continent. One ingenious German gentleman has boldly appropriated many pages of the earlier edition of this book with the faintest possible acknowledgment, and the editor of the Constitutionnel, M. Cucheval Clarigny, has freely translated its substance in a series of articles published at the close of 1879 in the Revue des Deux Mondes. It is true that in the volume into which M. Cucheval Clarigny has collected his detached essays he admits that he has received des renseignements from this work, but I would humbly submit that "hints" is a somewhat euphemistic description of some hundreds of pages of free translation.
With this brief explanation, I leave my work to the judgment
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.
of the English people. The national sorrow during the last week has proved that, however tardily, they have learned to appreciate the great statesman who spent a lifetime in their service, and I cannot but hope that there will be many who will be gratified to possess a biography of him written from the sympathetic point of view. I need only add that this edition was, except as regards half a dozen pages or thereabouts at the end, prepared for the press rather more than a year ago.
The portrait which faces the title-page is from a photograph taken by Messrs. W. and D. Downey, at Balmoral, in 1868, by it is presumed, the special desire of Her Majesty, on whom Lord Beaconsfield was then in waiting. It is generally acknowledged to be the most truthful portrait of the noble Lord in existence.
ST. GEORGE'S SQUARE, REGENT'S PARK.
April 25, 1881.
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
LORD BEACONSFIELD, the course of whose public life I have here attempted to trace, is the greatest living exemplification of the truth of that saying of Byron," he who surpasses or subdues mankind must look to garner up a pretty fair share of hatred.” For forty years he was the best abused public man in England. Every scribbler who could obtain publicity for his lucubrations lifted up his heel against him.
Reviewers “ irresponsible, ignorant reviewers "-- from Edinburgh and other places made capital for themselves by attacking him. The vilest motives were attributed to him ; the most infamous stories were fabricated about him. Those whom he had embalmed for posterity in an epigram, or impaled upon an epithet, have wriggled out the last drops of their venom in attacks upon his honour, his character, his consistency. “Adventurer” has been the most respectable title accorded to him. Generally the colours have been more glaring; the brush more fully loaded. Thus the world has heard him called a renegade,” a turn. coat," a "trickster," a "shuffler," and has been taught to believe
” that the one man of commanding political genius whom this century has produced was the incarnation of all that was mean and despicable. Even as I write I find the weekly organ of culture and of Liberalism describing the statesman who saved the honour of England at Berlin as "a bizarre and flashy novelist,” “a quaint ideologue," a "charlatan," an “Israelite magician," and "a great mountebank"-all in the compass of ”
” a single newspaper article.
Nor have attacks of this kind been invariably the work of Lord Beaconsfield's opponents. They, it is true, have never treated him with common fairness or the most ordinary courtesy, and the leaders have followed the rank and file. That the orators of Trafalgar Square and of Clerkenwell Green should hate Lord Beaconsfield is natural enough, and would probably be considered an honour by the object of their