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by Lord John Russell, and in the acquiescence of the whole Tory party, officers and rank and file, who followed Mr. Disraeli into the lobby, to the number of 267, in February, 1851. That, among a portion of the party there exists a jealousy-taking the form of a supercilious patronage-of a who can be stigmatized by political enemies as an adventurer or a parvenu, is beyond a doubt; but such feelings are often found in the breasts of those who, being incapable and incompetent themselves, are forced to call to their aid men of intellect and ability. Such jealousy is the less noxious, because a natural instinct teaches its concealment, lest it be laid to the account of a base ingratitude. Upon the whole, we may regard the position of Mr. Disraeli as assured to him, by a right not often wielded in these days of nepotism and family compact the right of conquest. For if ever there was a man who fought his way to the chief command in desperation, every inch of the ground he had to occupy disputed, that man is Mr. Disraeli. In 1837, hooted down as a bombastic enthusiast, nay, as almost a madman!-in 1851, elevated by his own perseverance and parliamentary and parliamentary ability, to the chieftainship of the most wealthy, powerful, and compact section of the aristocracy, and forcing the ministry of the day to resign!-to resign, after having been beaten in fair warfare on the intelligible proposition, that great injury having been inflicted on a class for the general good, the claims of that class to compensation and consideration should be entertained; the means of reparation to be supplied by a fair and full application of the same principles which had brought about the original deprivation. Putting party feeling on one side, and looking as impartial Englishmen on these facts, it seems impossible not to perceive that some systematic injustice has been done to Mr. Disraeli, if men who have done little or nothing are steadily exalted in the public estimation, while a man who has achieved so much has his pretensions pertinaciously ridiculed or gravely denied.
Then comes the question, by what
right, beyond de facto possession, does Mr. Disraeli hold the position he has attained? A retrospect of the facts in the foregoing pages would seem to indicate that his claims are not inferior to those of most of his predecessors. He found his party staggering under the weight of popular odium, as the selfish claimants of special class privileges to the detriment of the general interests. Fanatical rivals fostered deep-rooted prejudices and strengthened fixed ideas among the agriculturists, so that to all his protestations of more enlightened views, was opposed the fact that his party professed the old creed. If we look back to the history of the Tory Opposition, from 1832 to 1834, and again from 1835 to 1841, we shall see that Sir Robert Peel had the same main difficulty to contend against a blind instinct of reaction; that he conquered it, as far as the question of Reform was concerned, but was compelled to yield obedience to its moving spirit in all that related to the commercial policy of the country. The chief merit of Mr. Disraeli's tactics would seem to be, that he has softened the obstinacy of these fixed ideas in the agricultural mind, by pointing out other channels than a return to 'protection' for the sense of suffering which, rightly or wrongly, exists there. The most determined supporters of the existing system admit the seeming fairness of a proposition based upon an obvious principle of justice; whether the grievances on which it rests are real or imaginary, whether 'justice to agriculture' is a mere party rallying-cry, or a great obligation which will some day have to be discharged, are questions into which we do not enter, our sole object being to determine whether, in adopting that general principle, Mr. Disraeli has or has not taken a ground on which he must have many supporters, and on which opponents will fight at a disadvantage; and therefore whether his tactics entitle him to praise as a Party Leader. Of this, the reader will have been able to judge.
Now, as to the 'positive policy in reserve.' We do not pretend to be in the secrets of the party, and therefore we do not know what are
A 2.. ik we motes more cailast than hersofre, and the most areas sened of debatera, the most trained of statiets and publicists, find him a doughty antagonist, even on their cren chosen ground. It is natomahing with what aptitude the Vivian Grey of 1828 has developed into the sedate and somewhat formal statesman of 1952. At first, with this memory of his earlier, even of pra recent, follics still active, the notion of the author of Alroy and th Revolutionary Epicbeing the Les of the Opposition in the Hou
to be bombast is so completely surrendered to the practical, that passages, instinct with a lofty spirit of truth, almost seem bombastic. In this way he makes involuntary atonement for the literary and political sins of his earlier career. If in this brief retrospect we have suggested considerations tending to throw the light of truth on Mr. Disraeli's real character and career, we shall not
only have done an act of justice to an individual, but also have conferred a benefit on the public, by leading them to form a more correct judgment than that suggested by sneering and jealous rivals, of a man whose antecedents and present position point him out as likely hereafter to take a prominent part in public affairs.
SUGGESTIONS ABOUT GIFT-BOOKS.
WHEN the men of the present
generation were little children -say, some forty years ago-they were wont to regale their eyes at the windows of the stationers' and booksellers' shops with the wonderful flush of gaudily-coloured pictures, which used to make their appearance in as great profusion towards Christmas time and New Year, as the dainty cakes and their daintier devices that announce the approach of Twelfth-Night. These pictures ran across the top of a very large sheet of paper, and down the sides, and across the bottom, leaving an open white space in the centre for the insertion of the name, in the choicest round hand, of the little boy who was fortunate enough to obtain one of them as a prize or a present. The subjects embraced every variety of astonishing trees and figures, and were chiefly selected from Scripture. You could see Daniel, in a bright-green cloak, sprawling down the lions' den, on one side of the sheet; and the terrible lions, in blue, and yellow, and red, sprawling up the other; or, perhaps, there was a draught of fishes, up and down, and everywhere, a hundred times more miraculous than the original; or a blazing sun, looking terribly alarmed out of a pair of rand chocolate eyes at a stalwart
bow landscapes, as distinguished those prints, which were affectionately known amongst the juvenile population of this kingdom under the name of Christmas pieces. It was a glad and exulting Christmas that saw three or four of these sheets spread out on a table, with the names of the owners magnificently inscribed in the middle, and the owners themselves making a great clatter over them comparing notes amongst the incredible apples that hung down out of labyrinths of boughs, and the antediluvian animals that looked as if they were able and ravenous enough to gobble them all up at a single mouthful!
Then there were the Story Books, and the Illustrated Alphabets, folded up into half-a-dozen thick pages, with a ceremonious cover, tinted and gilt like gingerbread, at the price of one shilling and sixpence each. In those days there was no cheap literature even for children. You had to pay handsomely for the paint; but you got a gorgeous supply of it-vermilion, lake, gamboge, and all the browns, and blues, and greens in Ackermann's Repository-dashed in with a munificence of hand that flung the colour far beyond the outlines of the drawing, frequently blending two colours together wherever they happened to meet. You got the worth of your money in this way, at all events, and something over; to say nothing of that prodigal exaggeration in the design which lifted up the imagination of the young to the seventh heaven of wonder and curiosity. And the stories! Such miracle-stories of beautiful princesses and cannibal ogres ;
such enchantments of palaces, and dreamy woods filled with genii; such Little Red Riding Hoods; such astonishing beanstalks; such sweet Cinderellas and their glass slippers; such giants, and dwarfs, and fairies; and such rhymes of Old Mother Hubbards and their marvellous cupboards, that used to sing themselves into the ears of their own accord, and leave their music in the heart for years and years afterwards!
Well, all this is gone by, and the new race of children growing up hear of these things only as traditions. Books are cheaper now than they were formerly,-art has made great strides,-knowledge is more diffused,-the world is wiser,-and little children are older, somehow, than they used to be forty years ago. They are not brought up in pleasant fancies and loving delusions; do what you will, you cannot prevail on a child of your acquaintance to believe in Fortunatus's wishing-cap, or the lamp of Aladdin ; they bring a sort of instinctive sagacity to bear upon these matters that disperses the golden haze of sorcery at once; and they will insist upon putting plaguy questions, which you cannot honestly answer without confessing that the whole library of child-romance, notwithstanding the charming moralities that run wild like sunbeams through it, is only a fantastical illusion after all, with nothing real in it but its beauty.
The difference between that time and the present is much the same as the difference between allegory and fact. The heart and the conscience of the young were reached through their imagination; their feelings were awakened by imagerial representations of the virtues and the vices; and practical lessons of wisdom and charity, esteemed by the old teachers to be less attractive in their original forms, were veiled in fascinating marvels, so that they learned them unconsciously. There is much to be said on both sides of the question; but at whatever conclusion we may arrive, it is certain that we can never return to the literature of good Mr. Newberry, of St. Paul's Churchyard.
There are more books written for the young than ever. They come flooding upon us in shoals. The
difficulty of choice amongst them is perplexing; and the quality of judgment it demands, seeing the infinite diversity of the materials, is rare. Some of the most skilful writers amongst us divide the honours of catering for children with the mere inventors of pageants and nursery rhymes. The paintboxes of Newman are no longer in requisition, breaking prisms over the embellishments; and the first artists do not hesitate to devote their pencils to the illustration of the new juvenile lore. Instead of imaginary young ladies eaten up by fabulous wolves, or fallen in love with by impossible princes, we have narratives of the actual life about us, of poverty and suffering, of the struggles for bread, and the domestic triumphs of patience and humility; interiors with grown-up living people in them, reflecting in their lives and characters the tone of the social circumstances by which they and we are surrounded; novels in little of the world as it is, touched with a picturesque and dramatic truthfulness, that appeals less to the fancy than to the sympathies and the reason of their readers. These books are not felt, we believe, to be too mature for the class to which they are addressed. They would not have suited the children of forty years ago; but the children of today seem to anticipate the gravity of experience, and to come into a knowledge and a sense of realities all at once. There is hardly any fairy-land for them, and such as there is, must have a great deal of palpable philosophizing and vital economics in it, or it goes for nothing. All this is in accordance with the change that has passed over society in the interval. We travel faster than of old. We arrive sooner at the goal, whatever it may be, in science, in morals, in statistics, in knowledge of every kind. We cannot afford to wait leisurely for the training of the faculties and the slow discoveries of time; and children, like men, are whirled on in the irresistible and universal progress, and before they have had their holydays fairly out in the realms of talking waterfalls and singing trees, they are carried, brains and heart, into the region of work and strife.
It is of no use to protest, in the name of the happy memories of our delightful Bluebeards and never-tobe-forgotten Sinbads, against the altered condition of children. The alteration is inevitable, and we must provide for it in the best way we can, by seeing that our children's books under the new régime are of the soundest and sunniest qualities the nature of their contents will permit. Let them, then, be as real as they can be made; but let them not be so exclusively real as to shut out the play of fancy. Children must be amused as well as taught. There must be gladness and brightness in the book as well as sense. There must be something which they can clap their hands over, as well as something to set them thinking. The union of both is the perfection of what is wanted-the combination, as far as it is practicable, of the gay and fantastical with the serious and the true.
Of a heap of Gift-Books now upon our table, there is but one that can be strictly said to come within this description. It is curious enough that, notwithstanding the modern spirit which has crept into these publications, the bulk of the decorated volumes of the present year take up new ground between Mother Bunch and the Christmas Carol. But we will come to that presently.
The exception to which we have alluded is a clever little tale, by Mr. Wilkie Collins, called Mr. Wray's Cash-Bor. Here we have a snatch of life neatly moralized, with just enough of dramatic interest to create excitement and suspense (once or twice rising to a palpitating height), and the character of a charming little girl, sweet as a fall of light in the hour of tranquillity, but capable of great heroism, as all true hearts are, in the time of trouble. We cannot help thinking that there is something sacrificed to an artificial standard of sentiment in giving away this pretty flower to that lumbering, but honest and simple-minded carpenter, Julius Cæsar; but it will be felt, perhaps, by young readers— usually very generous in their concessions and rewards to kindness and manliness-as a proper compensation for his unselfish devotion. The story is founded on a singular
fact which occurred at Stratfordupon-Avon, where a stone-mason, who was employed in repairing the church, managed to take a mould from the bust of Shakspeare, and was so frightened at the threats of punishment, that he ran away. Discovering afterwards, however, that he had incurred no penalty, he set about making masks from the mould, and sold them in great numbers in this country and America. Mr. Collins has improved upon the incident, by converting the stone-mason into a poor, old, superannuated working actor, and making him carry about the precious mask in a cashbox, which excites the felonious curiosity of a professional burglar, who happens to catch a glimpse of it under his arm. The robbery and the rescue-the restitution of the mask by the courageous resolution of granddaughter Annie-the providential interposition of a jolly squire, who seems to have nothing to do in this world but acts of eccentric benevolence-the nuptials in prospect, and the happy Christmas dinner that winds up the whole, furnish the materials of an attractive tale. We like the book all the better because it does not pretend to evolve a set moral. It enlists the sympathies in favour of the good and gentle who have been dealt harshly with in their pilgrimage; which is something more likely to take root in the heart, and bear honest fruit, than the best of your cut-and-dried precepts. But what becomes of the two housebreakers? Young people, whose sense of justice is strong, will miss the balance of punishment which they intuitively look for in these
A grand volume, in blue and gold, by Mr. Miller, called The Village Queen, can scarcely be considered as a book for children, although its handsome exterior and its rich plates entitle it, as far as they go, to be admitted amongst gift-books. Like most of Mr. Miller's publications, its chief merit lies in its descriptions of the country and country life, through which a thin thread of love is woven, as improbable as need be, for the delectation of pastoral readers. We fear this bucolic passion comes a little too late in the day; and that, whatever effect it might