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genius compelled them to follow him; and more than once, in time of storm and stress, when fidelity amongst his colleagues was an element of success for the party, he has been deserted by those who were most bound to support him. It has been said of the Great Commoner, Mr. Pitt, that, “constructing his policy on wise and liberal principles, he incorporated with a worn-out creed a new and vital element of strength and imparted to a powerless and unimaginative party the force and refinement of genius." No words could better describe the career of Lord Beaconsfield. He entered public life when Catholic Emancipation had just been carried and when Reform was the question of the hour. He found the great national party in—to quote his own words—"a state of ignorant stupefaction,” and the Whigs, who had caught that party“ napping,” at the commencement of a period of domination which, begun by force and continued by fraud, lasted for well-nigh a dozen years. He began at once the work of reconstructing his party. Whilst still young in years and in public life, he was called to its leadership, and from that day forward he led it with unconquerable courage through difficulties all but overwhelming, to eventual triumph. He has completed his work. He has re-established the patriotic principles for which, during well-nigh half a century, he contended with tongue and pen, and during all this long and weary struggle he has been alone-alone in spite of his great qualities. His tact, his courage, his readiness, his adroitness, his wit, his marvellous command of temper, his reticence, his patience and his cheerfulness in adversity, have passed all but unrecognised.
In the midst of all this detraction, calumny and misapprecia
tion, however, there have been some who held to their faith in
the leader of the Tories ; some who recognized his genius; some who were fascinated alike by his public and personal qualities. His want of success did not frighten them. They remembered how the Great Commoner himself had been more often out of office than in, and how on many subjects he had been hopelessly at variance with both his sovereign and the people. They remembered also the reason for Lord Beaconsfield's long
exile from office and that had he been more subservient he
might from one point of view have been more successful. He had, they remembered, proudly refused to be a “Minister on
“ sufferance,” though by so accepting the situation he might have remained in place for an indefinite period. A Sir Charles Wood might alter his Budget four times in a Session and still remain Chancellor of the Exchequer with the full consent of the great united Liberal party. But when Mr. Disraeli presented to the House of Commons a well considered financial scheme—at once the boldest and most statesmanlike Budget since the days of Peel—and found the House unwilling to accept it, he took a different course. He was told in so many words to take back his Budget and to reduce it to proportions
intelligible to Whig financiers. He was assured that there would be nothing humiliating in the operation, but he refused -he “could not submit to the degradation of other Chancellors." Like Pitt he “knew how to retire.” That in re
tiring he best consulted his own honour cannot be denied, but the consequences to the country were deplorable. For the bold, large and far-seeing scheme of finance which the Whigs had confessed to be too much for them, was substituted the timid and petty monetary policy of Sir George Cornewall Lewis, and for the cautious and conciliatory yet decided foreign policy of the late Lord Derby, the mingled bullying and cringing of Lord Palmerston. England had a heavy price to pay for both. The one involved the country in the Crimean War: the other speedily gave her a doubled Income Tax.
High-mindedness such as this is, however, an indubitable title to esteem. Unprejudiced and candid men admire with equal sincerity Macaulay accepting defeat at Edinburgh rather than belie his conscience on some one or other of those interminable theologico-political questions in which the Scottish mind delights ; Mr. Forster at Bradford asserting his independence in the face of the serried hosts of political dissent, and Mr. Disraeli as leader of the forlorn hope of Toryism resigning place and power, rather than mutilate his well-considered programme. High-mindedness is not, however, the only claim of Lord Beaconsfield to the admiration of his followers. He
possesses every quality which can fascinate the rising generation of public men. He was the apostle of Young Englandthe leader of that generous, helpful, hopeful, kindly and sympathetic party whose very existence was a protest against what Mr. Carlyle was wont to call “ Whig laissez-faire, and Benthamee utility.” And he was something more. not one of those dilettante philanthropists who content themselves with amiable platitudes and sweet sounding sentiments, nor was his name at any time conspicuous on lists of charitable committees or amongst those who find their greatest gratification in showing themselves at public meetings. But for all that, he was the active and practical friend of the poor, the warm and tender sympathizer with the wrongs and sufferings of the labouring class. When demagogues were shouting upon platforms and Whig Ministers were crowding the gaols with political martyrs, Lord Beaconsfield was doing brave and masculine work for the suffering and the oppressed. At a time when to show sympathy with Chartists was equivalent to incurring all the penalties of social ostracism, he pleaded their cause both in and out of the House, and chose for the heroine of the most touching and powerful of his novels a daughter of the people. Altogether apart from its dominant humanity, “Sybil” would be immortal—its grace, its tenderness, and its truth would place it very high in the ranks of English fiction—but “Sybil" is something more than a novel.
It is an appeal to the great sentiment of human brotherhood, a vindication of the rights of the poor, and as such it has a double title to the reverence of posterity.
The claims of Lord Beaconsfield to the admiration of his
fellows on literary grounds alone, are unimpeachable. A poet of no mean order, a wit whose delicate small-sword is more than a match for the heavy cutlasses and bludgeons of his opponents, a novelist of no ordinary powers, he turns from the work of statesmanship to give to the world a “ Henrietta Temple,”—most exquisite of love stories; and he adorns the dry discussion of political details with all the graces of antithesis and epigram. Lady Blessington plagues him for a copy of verses for one of those 'Annuals' which she manufactures, and he gives her lines which would make the fortune of a poetaster, but which, with that lofty indifference to the public verdict which has always been characteristic of him, he leaves unnoticed in their original obscurity.
There is, however, one quality of Lord Beaconsfield, concerning which too little is heard, even amongst bis professed admirers, and that is his remarkable and undeviating consistency. During the three years which preceded his entrance into public life, he thought out the principles which were to guide him in the future, and to those principles he has adhered with unswerving fidelity. Those who adopt the partizan and prejudiced view, will probably scoff at this idea. In the eyes