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Force will be everywhere undisguised, and tyranny everywhere audacious. It is impossible such a system can endure, for the excesses of free discussion, both of tongue and pen, are now so interwoven with the daily existence of Frenchmenthey are so inherent to his nature and habitudes, that he requires them as much as his café au lait, or his potage à la Julienne. For the base and abject homage paid by the servile, the imbecile, the sycophantic, to the false and faithless, I am prepared. The crest of the nation is now humbled.
and oppression excite no indignation -scandalous frauds no contempt gigantic treacheries no distrust. But a day of reckoning must soon come, when crime will be considered not the less crime because of its temporary success-when wickedness will be considered wickedness though united with power; and when the unconquerable will and the immortal hate' of a nation will find language and expression.
fulfil all public obligations towards France) to subserve the personal projects of any man who has exhibited faithlessness and want of principle as elected head or self-imposed Dictator of that nation. What reliance can we place, for instance, on M. Buonaparte's solemn engagements with us, when we see how he has observed his most solemn and sworn engagements with his own country? Under the circumstances of his personal character and his newly acquired power, considering who and what are his public counsellors, and who his private council, advisers, and intimate friends-considering that the one is composed of the De Mornys, the St. Arnauds, and the De Maupas, and the other of Fialon, ex-clerk of a huissier calling himself De Persigny, of Bataille, a civil engineer of Briffault, an architect, and of Mocquard, a disbarred advocate-let us ask ourselves what guarantees have we that M. Buonaparte will not retain and extend by the sword a power which he has acquired by it? Elected for ten years, he will go for uncontrolled dominion, nor suffer on the frontiers of France the free Senate Chamber, press, and voice of Belgium, the free press and Chamber of Piedmont, and the free and neutral territory of Switzerland. England has ever been an inviolate asylum for strangers, for political refugees, for the oppressed of every age, of every nation, and of every clime. England is now within one hour and three-quarters of Calais and Boulogne, and the light of France cannot be extinguished for more than a time inconceivably short, so long as a spark of freedom remains in England. If, therefore, any man looks to uphold absolute power even for a twelvemonth in France, he must look on the corruption or destruction of England as a condition precedent to his success. It must be a necessary preliminary to any such project of devilish darkness and tyranny to deaden or to destroy, to drug into drowsy sleep, or to strike a deadly blow to our dear old country. When schemes intain of criminal ambition are brewing ound anywhere, fellow-countrymen, rest d assured the day of danger, if not of battle, is approaching for England.
Against the people of France, fellow-countrymen, I have breathed not a word contemptuous or disparaging. It is for the people of France-it is on behalf of the education and intellect of France, that I have raised my feeble voice. With France, like the generality of my countrymen, I desire a firm and compact alliance through good report and through evil report. But it is with free and constitutional France, with its Chambers sitting, and its press unrestricted, that I claim my country should be leagued in complete confidence and entire friendliness. If the nation in a moment of blindness, or hallucination, or under the pressure of a hard necessity, elect a stock or a stone, by all means let us acknowledge the symbol; but between acknowledgment and respect, or a cordial intercommunion, there is a wide difference. The interests of the English and French people, properly understood, are one and identical, to make
The paramount interest of every state that which comprehends every other is security. England desiring no conquest or accession of territory or continental dominion, is ever secure, so long as there is an uniform observance of justice on the part of the great nations of the continent. We have no ambition on the continent. Our apparent and our real interests are never at variance with justice. But if a reign of tyranny commences within sight of our shores, the example is dangerous; the shock must be felt almost as quickly as news is now conveyed by submarine telegraph. This country has ever been, to use the language of Lord Bacon, the sconce and fort of all Europe,' the last refuge of liberty of thought and of independence of action. For twoand-twenty years, at a cost of scores of millions, we warred against tyranny in many disguises; for ten or eleven years we warred against tyranny, at the expense of more than a score of millions, against one man. Is this battle to be fought over again in 1852? Has the experience of the past, the expense which we are still paying, taught nothing to us and others?
I deprecate any war with France, whose people I admire and respect, and whose social system I love. But watchfulness and wariness in reference to the Dictator of France is not suspicion of the French people. The mere fact that the victory of M. Buonaparte over France has been hailed with acclaim by the envoys of Russia and Austria, ought to have induced our ambassador to have postponed his congratulations till the usurpation of M. Buonaparte had been veneered over by the enforced acquiescence of six millions and a half of scraps of white paper. It is a paper, not a personal acquiescence.
There are calumniators going about the town saying that Viscount Palmerston has approved of this coup-d'état and its monstrous consequences. In proof of their incredible assertions, they point to a morning, to an evening, and to a Sunday journal, supposed to occasionally receive the noble Lord's revelations. It is unhappily true that some organs of the English press have given countenance to the
usurper; but that Lord Palmerston, a manly and generous character, with a clear head and long experience, has done so, I will not believe, till the evidence is conclusive. If he have done so, he must be mad or criminal, and in either case, he was no longer fit to sit in the cabinet of the Queen of England.
Others there are who say that the coup receives the sanction of the remains of the Peel party. But the generous and well-toned pamphlet of Mr. Gladstone on the less flagrant atrocities of Naples, is an answer to the flagitious falsehood.
Others, again, more desperately malignant, exclaim that M. Buonaparte is looked on approvingly by Earl Derby, the soul of chivalry, of straightforwardness, and of honour. Never, never can I believe such a statement in reference to a peer without stain, without reproach. The whole life of Lord Stanley belies the fiction. Indeed, I feel thoroughly convinced that the best men of all parties, however convinced of the necessity of maintaining friendly relations with France, must in their souls loathe the treachery, fraud, and hypocrisy apparent in every stage of the late events. It is no part of an Englishman's nature to love treachery, to admire despotism, to worship tyranny, or to crouch before usurpation. It is not by mild words or obsequious servility, we shall preserve our rights and maintain our independence, or secure peace, or defy aggression-if aggression there is to be. I am no leveller, no republican, no ranting demagogue of the hustings or the platform, but a Whig of the school of the late Lord Grey and of the present Earl of Derby, who has never renounced, I believe, the doctrines of pure Whiggery, the doctrines and principles of his House. And the spirit of such doctrines prompts me, in the midst of engrossing avocations, to proclaim that if Liberty prevail not in France, having Wisdom and Justice and Parliamentary Government for her companions, there is danger in the distance for our common country.
I remain, fellow-countrymen,
Temple, Dec. 26, 1851.
MR. BENJAMIN DISRAELI AS LEADER AND LEGISLATOR.
MR. R. DISRAELI is the de facto leader of the Tory Opposition, or Country Party, in the House of Commons. The position is brilliant and commanding. It has dazzled and gratified the ambition of some of the greatest orators and most powerful statesmen of past and present times. Not to go too far up the stream of parliamentary history, there are the names of Pitt, Canning, and Peel; men who laboured hard and long at their constitutional task, by their tactics and their oratory forging with patient toil the weapons wherewith they made the laws. For, the legitimate leader of an opposition must not be regarded as a mere partisan chief, although it is for him to lead the assault or to defend the breach. A man called by his party to that high and honourable post, and confided in by them while there, becomes an important and necessary part of the great constitutional machine. Besides his militant functions, he is the interpreter of the growing wants or the baffled wishes of at least a considerable portion of the community; the wisdom of our system providing that those wants and wishes shall be reduced to some practicable shape, so that the responsibility of new legislation shall fall on those who oppose the old, and thus the nation be never left without lawgivers and laws. The Leader of the Opposition, therefore, becomes de facto a ruler of the people, long before he is so de jure. Ifhe rightly comprehends his mission, even his strategy must be prospective. Like a general manoeuvring in a friendly country, he must never gain victory at too great a loss to the body-politic. In wounding even his political adversaries, he runs the risk of too deeply injuring those who may one day be his friends, or at least the object of his guardianship. If, to gain a temporary triumph, he makes too great an onslaught on
VOL. XLV. NO. CCLXVI.
principles, he unsettles the founda
tions of his future dominion. Therefore, in his uttermost hostility there must mingle somewhat of prudent caution and paternal care. While a negative, not to say a fictitious policy will serve as a pretext for assaults, there must always be a positive policy in reserve. To harmonize these two, yet not disclose too much of either, demands tact, finesse, and political probity of no common order; at least in the present day, when political strife is no longer internecine, and the result of every fresh struggle adds to the arguments for systematic compromise. Here is but the outline of the qualifications required in a Leader of Opposition, not of the powers and qualities they imply. Eloquence, personal influence, tact, strategic genius, temper, foresight, magnanimity, knowledge, even to the minutest details,-how rare in their separate manifestation, and still more rare in combination!
Bearing these conditions in mind, the nation ought to look with jealous scrutiny at the character and pretensions of the man who fills the post of Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons. Mr. Disraeli is just now that man. Are we not bound then to inquire by what means he reached that post, and by what right he keeps it?
This we shall endeavour to do in the following pages, premising that our tests will be applied, not to the measures Mr. Disraeli may recommend, but to the manner in which he conducts his party; so that if the result of our scrutiny be favourable to him, we shall in nowise commit ourselves to an approval of ' his policy; while if it be unfavourable, we shall be exonerated from the charge of political partiality.
Five years ago we passed in review the then career of Mr. Disraeli as an author and politician. The result of a very elaborate ex
amination was a singular array of contrasts and incongruities, of failures and triumphs, of incomprehensible eccentricities and uncomprehended powers. As an author, we found him commencing with a novel of singular originality and force, which at once fixed attention on its youthful writer; and finishing, after an interval full of literary extravagances, with fictions displaying no great advance in constructive or artistic skill, and chiefly interesting as being astonishing political pamphlets in three volumes. As a politician, his progress had been as striking as had been his retrogression, or at least his non-advancement, in the other branch of intellectual activity. From his first début, some two-and-twenty years ago, in the political arena, he had, it is true, attempted a series of vigorous assaults on the portals of the Temple of Fame' with ridiculous ill-success, until at last the culminating point of his folly was reached in his maiden speech to the House of Commons in the year 1837, which was, without exception (the relative pretensions of men being borne in mind), the most extraordinary fiasco ever known in that assembly. But here if he touched the earth, it was but to rebound with fresh strength. We had gone through our examination of the previous life of Mr. Disraeli in no spirit of malice or ridicule, but rather in a sincere admiration of the singular vigour of mind, perseverance, and self-control, which, within a very few years after this most signal failure, could have so strengthened, wrought, and toned exuberant and hitherto ill-disciplined powers, as to enable him to constitute himself the triumphant assailant of the most powerful and practised parliamentary champion of the day, and ultimately attain the leadership of the party which that champion had abandoned. It is not by hiding the early errors of eminent .men that service is done to their reputation; it is rather the contrast presented by their later years that raises them in public estimation. When the superabundant heat and excitability of youth have passed away, the traces of such extravagances mark the native force of genius or character of which they were the evanescent
ebullitions; and it is notorious that mankind feel even more respect for a maturity that has resulted from the gradual expulsion of the fiery spirit of enterprise or self-display, than for that less questionable steadiness which is but the consolidation of mediocrity. Mr. Disraeli's past life will bear this test; and, even more than some of his contemporaries, he gains in the present aspect of his character by the contrast it affords to that past life; while, as even in his wildest escapades there was always manifested a noble daring, and aspirations only provocative of ridicule because unsupported by adequate powers, the confidence inspired by his later achievements ought not to be lessened by fears of a relapse. Mr. Disraeli has performed many foolish and bombastic feats, but he has never done a mean thing: his extravagances have always been on the chivalrous side: even in his exultation at the success of his attacks upon Sir Robert Peel, when others pursued that statesman with rancour in his retreat, Mr. Disraeli never forgot the courtesy and respect that are due to a fallen foe. From the hour of Sir Robert's resignation, his assailant, however bitter while the work was still to be done, never uttered one word in his disparagement.
Why do we dwell at all on the early follies of this parliamentary phoenix? Because they have a direct connexion with the question of Mr. Disraeli's fitness for the post he now holds, and for its possible prospective responsibilities. If we are to believe that the whole opposition is a sham -that Mr. Disraeli is not the leader; that Sir Edward Bulwer, or Mr. Gladstone, or some other coming man' is to supersede him; that he is merely used as a guerilla chief or a free lance, to be cast aside when the work of attack is finished, that he may make room for more legitimate commanders to march into possession under cover of his assault; if the man who has rallied his party from confusion-almost from despair -to lead them to the rout of the ministry, and the then momentary trusteeship of the nation,-if, contrary to all the laws of parliamentary chivalry, Mr. Disraeli's legitimate pretensions are to be treated
with contempt, and the whole vision of a Country Party and a successful Opposition is to vanish like a dissolving-view, why then we should be compelled to place Mr. Disraeli's Present on a footing with his Past, and wait for that Future, which a man of his powers and courage would inevitably prepare for such purblind cunning and perfidious folly. But as we see nothing in the mental, moral, or physical conformation of Mr. Disraeli that should put him beyond the official any more than the parliamentary pale-as he has displayed more eloquence, more varied debating powers, more strategic skill, and has achieved more victories than any of his colleagues or competitors, we are compelled to adopt the belief, notwithstanding all that we read in print and hear in society to the contrary, that this successful party-leader and most subtle and brilliant debater is as eligible for high office as any other intellectual biped who may in former days have triumphantly fulfilled the ostensible and preliminary conditions. If, then, Mr. Disraeli, as Leader of the Opposition, is a reality and an entity, not a myth, it follows that, according to our opening theory, he becomes a prospective participator in the government of the country, and is invested with the present responsibilities of the man who leads on his troops to the destruction of existing powers and systems. Hence, the necessity of severely testing his principles and theories of divining from his past pyrotechnics and his present nebufosities, some consistent political scheme, or some concrete policy.
It would seem to be a species of instinct which prompts the English to be suspicious of all novelty. This habitual mistrust applies in a marked manner to public men. However able as an advocate or as a leader, an aspirant to office has to overcome a primary difficulty in an inert opposition. The public have never been accustomed to associate his name with a ministerial position; and he labours for the time being under nearly as much disfavour as if he had been proved incapable. A sagacious chancellor lifts a stuffgownsman from the back row to the judgment-seat; a large-minded pre
mier converts an Oxford student and divinity-man into a commerce and finance minister, or manufactures a working member of the Board of Trade out of a newspaper editor; a pupil and protegé of a great historical party rises by rotation to its leadership while in opposition, and glides naturally into the premiership when the wheel of fortune turns up that luck all these personages have long since earned by approved ability their novel positions; yet to the sceptical eye of John Bull, they are still invested with all the suspicious characteristics of new men,' and are set down in his own secret mind as incapables. But office sanctifies. One season in Downing Street or in Westminister Hall dissipates the cloud of prejudice against them; and our good public are now as ready to take them upon trust, to invest them with all imaginable qualities of the lawyer, the legislator, or the statesman, as before they begrudged even the most ordinary allowance of confidence. To this rule there is, however, one grand exception. If the new man be a lord ora lordling, he is at once adopted as a matter of course, and with scarcely any examination as to his practical abilities. It is in no invidious spirit that we mark this proof, that John Bull loves a lord' as much as ever. tunately, most of our young lords who take to official ways are really aristocrats-have acquired by early training the habits and the knowledge necessary to fit them for office. From Lord Palmerston at twentyfive entrusted with the War Department, to Lord Granville at six-andthirty assuming the functions of Foreign Secretary at a threatening crisis, the chain is almost unbroken of scions of the great aristocratic families, Tory and Whig, who have proved themselves qualified by their talents for offices which they have owed mainly to their family influence. It is to be doubted, however, whether the subsequent justification enters much into John Bull's calculations, and whether he is not quite as ready to accept a Stanley, a Chandos, a Bentinck, a Russell, a Grey, or a Seymour, for the mere name's sake, as he is to look askance, or with the grim smile of scepticism, at all aspirants to office who have