« AnteriorContinuar »
views of the political career of Mr Disraeli in a somewhat bulky volume, where he has given vent to his holy indignation. Such a production would have been a disgrace to the age, even if the author had had the courage to place his name at the head of it, for it is introducing into party warfare a weapon which is most unfair, unjust, and dishonourable. No statesman can condescend to notice such an attack; and when the author withholds his name and sends forth his anonymous slander into the world, then it must be confessed that the cowardly spirit in which it has been undertaken has only aggravated its revolting character.
wonderful manner in which the united harmonious action of the Three Estates of the realm is secured; and his first thought is, that it must be preserved unimpaired and inviolate. As he proceeds, he finds blemishes, anomalies, and imperfections; these he concludes should be eradicated, and with all the ardour of youth he thinks that, once these disappear, a form of government remains complete in its splendour, and splendid in its completeness. A wider intercourse with the world, a more extensive knowledge of mankind, must dissipate in many minds this perhaps fondly-cherished sentiment. Perfection cannot be attained-contentment is never the lot of humanity; and perhaps it is better that each should endeavour to forget his particular object of antipathy, and unite in consolidating and preserving those institutions, with their many imperfections, than hazard their extinction by endless struggles after their purification. Are not these legitimate changes of opinion? A man who has thus formed his political opinions, remains a staunch Conservative, but eschews all those more repulsive features of Toryism, which do but defeat their own end, and raise up against itself, in power too strong to be resisted, the very influences it wishes to control and counteract. But what shall we say of a young man who thinks fit, in the impetuous ardour of his ambition, to publish to the world his opinions as they are forming? We may smile at the vanity displayed, and at the folly of such a course; but we may shrink from casting imputations and urging motives, from which a virtuous mind recoils, for the mere purpose of blackening and traducing the character of a political opponent. Such, however, is the course pursued by Mr Disraeli's enemies; but we should think that the strong malevolence displayed in those satires and slanders must insure their being discarded by "all in whom political partisanship has not extinguished the common feelings of humanity." It is said that Mr Disraeli's changes of opinion were with a view to self-aggrandisement. The charge, we presume, rests upon the pretence that he was the better for each change. This may be; but we think an ardent;
Mr Disraeli is an original genius. His great fault in early life was, that he formed his conclusions without deep study, and trusting chiefly to the power of his own intellect. With all the conceit and precipitancy of youth, he immediately gave forth to the world the conclusions at which he had arrived. Many of these were wild and improbable, and his maturer years discovered their true nature. His father was, as is well known, a Jew, while his ancestors were, down to a recent period, the natives of a foreign soil. The son, then, inherited no hereditary political principles, which are in England, generally, handed down from one generation to another, unchanging and unchanged. Mr Disraeli had therefore to choose for himself, from the wide field of English politics, those principles which appeared to his unbiassed mind most in accordance with the true spirit of the British constitution. The choice which he adopted, and the subsequent changes through which he passed, appear to us to be nothing but the natural workings of an unfettered mind, and which any man may, and probably often does, undergo, as he ponders over the English constitution and the science of government in the recesses of his own study. It is natural that, as an Englishman contemplates our form of government, as he becomes acquainted with its operations, and as he compares its results with reference to the mind, the habits, and the temper of the people with the influence of Continental governments over their subjects, he should be filled with admiration at the
clever, and ambitious man like Mr Disraeli, would have risen to eminence whatever line of politics he adopted. It was not more difficult for him to get into Parliament as a Radical than as a Tory; indeed, this seems to be unwittingly allowed by his biographer when he states that his election for High Wycombe was lost because Mr Hume withdrew his support in consequence of Mr Disraeli's refusing to compromise his opinions with regard to the Whigs. It is, however, a decidedly unfair course to rake together all that has fallen from an aspiring and even giddy youth, no matter whether in the heat of political contest or in the turmoil of an election strife, and then call him in his maturity to a severe account. No charitable construction is ever allowed to Mr Disraeli's public acts. It is always easy to get up a colourable case against an English statesman, all whose acts lay bare before the eager gaze of the public. It requires the exercising of very little ingenuity to hang together a consistent string of facts with which to stigmatise with baseness the career of any politician, however brilliant in talent or in character. Mr Disraeli has risen from the people; he has excited the envy of some and the hatred of others, who indulge their vengeful feelings in spreading their malicious slanders; nor is the most stainless character proof against such assaults, since they can quickly acquire a consistency of character, and gain a hold on men's minds when they are dinned into one's ears on all sides. How easy it might be to make up a case of political profligacy against Sir James Graham, who has been through more political changes, and that, too, since he was a representative of the people, than any other statesman of the day! How easy it might be to discern in this the workings of a restless ambition! A colourable case is soon made, and then let a certain number of newspapers indulge in comments upon it, and spread the calumnies, each in his own strain, and all spiced with a little outpouring of virtuous indignation, and the best character is sure to be injured by it. There are some in these charitable times who can defend a Cromwell; we apprehend that with far less exercise of ingenuity can the
character of the Conservative leader be maintained. But if it be true that Cromwell is not the remorseless villain which his history had depicted him, then it only shows how easily characters can be fatally blackened by constantly harping on the evil points, and quietly omitting all mention of the good.
Throughout the whole parliamentary career of Mr Disraeli, a consistent course of conduct with reference to State policy has been pursued; though it is observable that, in the first few years, he had not yet thrown away some of his extraordinary theories. We see that, as he advances in manhood, and becomes practically acquainted with legislation, the vain conceptions and egotistic vanity of his youth pass away, and he settles down into a steady, through-going, parliamentary chief. The different opinions which he has at times expressed of various statesmen are easily to be accounted for, though some who, as the poet says, judge of others by themselves, may discern in this discreditable motives. Public opinion is always varying with regard to public men, and a young man is likely to be influenced by it. But, at all events, he ought, through motives of modesty, to keep his opinion to himself; and it is of the greatest importance that one who aspires to be a statesman in this country, where parties are always changing, should not be constantly giving expression to the feelings of the moment. It is not safe for a politician; for while he is giving vent to what is generally a mere fancied animosity to the mere party-feeling of the moment, he may perhaps be throwing down the gauntlet at the feet of a future colleague; and all for no purpose, for oftentimes there is no foundation for aversion to a public man. Nor is it right that the House of Commons, our country, and Continental nations, should be constantly hearing statesmen mutually complimenting and abusing each other. It is a maxim in State policy that you should deal with your enemy as though one day he may be your friend, and vice versa. In private life, it happens that one who is a friend may first be viewed with coolness, and then treated as an enemy; and this change in conduct may be legitimate, though not credit
able. Still more frequently may this happen in public life. Mr Disraeli has, we should think, learnt from bitter experience the folly of giving expression to mere transient feelings either of anger or respect. He is a man of extremes; he knows no mediocrity of feeling; witness the inflated style of the soliloquies in his novels, which have drawn down upon him the unmitigated ire of his zealous biographer. With him a statesman's career is either 66 a system of petty larceny on a great scale," or it is "a precious possession of the House of Commons." This is a pity; but Mr Disraeli, unlike other statesmen, had not in early life the friendship of those who had trodden the thorny paths of English politics before him, to inculcate upon him the necessity of being habitually reserved and moderate in his expressions; and neither reserve nor moderation forms a part of his natural character. Too warm a nature, or too ardent a temperament are not discreditable, though they often bring pain and trouble along with them.
the legislation of the British Parliament.
We now conclude by urging the necessity there is for the reascendancy of the Conservative party. We are evidently on the verge of a momentous period. Are we to commit the guidance of our affairs to a Government whose conduct, as yet, has been one course of bungling-the result of dissension, of abortive speculations-the result of a misplaced self-confidence, and of unsuccessful negotiation-the result of an infatuated love of peace? We make, then, our appeal to the Protestants of England; are we any longer to truckle to the Pope of Rome -are we still to devote the public money to the support of Roman Catholic priests, and then call it "religious bigotry?" We make our appeal to the friends of Turkey amongst us: are we to have a Ministry in power who are divided in their opinions concerning the vitality of the country which we are desirous of protecting, and amongst whose supporters are men who deny our right to go to war at all? We make our appeal to the foes of Russia; shall we have a Premier who declares that "what is called the security of Europe" has nothing to fear from Russian aggression, and then says that he has nothing to retract or explain? Let us have a Ministry of able men, united amongst themselves, prepared to uphold our Protestant religion, agreed upon the vitality of Turkey, resolved to resist Russia, determined to secure a durable peace; and, above all, one that is strong in the confidence of the country, and supported by a united majority. Let us tear down the emblems of the most incapable and mischief-making Coalition that ever any country was cursed with, and proclaim over its fall the reascendancy of Con servative principles.
We now come to the most hackneyed, and, we admit, the most painful portion of Mr Disraeli's life-his treatment of Sir Robert Peel.
But these things belong to the past. Great blame, in the eyes of an impartial observer, may be attached to Peel for the course he then took, and great blame may also attach to Disraeli; much, on the other hand, may be said in palliation of the conduct of both. The one has long ago been forgiven by the great party which he irreparably injured; the other will, we firmly believe, prove himself, at no distant period, as firm and enlightened a Minister as he is now one of the most talented and accomplished statesmen that ever adorned with his eloquence, or controlled by his wisdom,
Printed by William Blackwood & Sons, Edinburgh.
STRONG and many are the claims made upon us by our mother Earth; the love of locality-the charm and attraction which some one homely landscape possesses to us, surpassing all stranger beauties, is a remarkable feature in the human heart. We who are not ethereal creatures, but of a mixed and diverse nature-we who, when we look our clearest towards the skies, must still have our standingground of earth secure-it is strange what relations of personal love we enter into with the scenes of this lower sphere. How we delight to build our recollections upon some basis of reality-a place, a country, a local habitation-how the events of life, as we look back upon them, have grown into the well-remembered background of the places where they fell upon us; -here is some sunny garden or summer lane, beatified and canonised for ever with the flood of a great joy; and here are dim and silent places, rooms always shadowed and dark to us, whatever they may be to others, where distress or death came once, and since then dwells for evermore. As little as we can deprive ourselves of the human frame, can we divest our individual history of its graceful garment of place and scene.
Such a thing happened, we say; but memory is no bare chronicler of facts and
events, and as we say the words, the time starts up before us, with all its silent witnesses;-leaves that were shed years ago, trees cut down and gone, yet they live in our thoughts with the joy or the sorrow of which they were silent attendants. We have caught and appropriated these bits of still life-they are a part of our history, and belong to us for ever.
In some degree every mind must have its own private gallery of pictures, impossible to be revealed to the vision of another, from the homely imagination which cherishes that one bit of sunshine on its walls, "the house where I was born," the old childish paradise and ideal, rich with such flowers and verdure as can be found in no other place, to the stately and well-furnished recollection which can roam at will through all the brightest countries in the world; but wherever we go, we weave ourselves into the landscape, and make every milestone a historical monument in the chronicle of our life.
And so it comes that natives of a country never expatriated from their home-soil, grow into a passionate veneration and love for their own land. The hills which are radiant for ever with their dreams of youththe rivers whose familiar voices have chimed into every sound of their
Narrative of a Journey through Syria and Palestine in 1851 and 1852. By Lieut. VAN DE VELde. 2 vols. Edinburgh, 1854.
VOL. LXXVI.-NO. CCCCLXVII.
lamentation and their joy-the roads that echo to their daily footsteps, and all the silent accessories upon which, as on so many props and pillars, their thoughts for years are hung-the very sight of which recall a hundred fleeting fancies-the very name of which spreads pictures lovelier than reality before closed eyes-the "kindly" country, which seems to respond with a voice borrowed from our own past thoughts to the thoughts of to-day, suggesting ancient comforts, ancient blessings, silently speaking hope from experience, solace present from solace past, lays claims upon us, the most intimate of our confidants, the nearest to our bosom; and Nature lavish in her demands upon our sympathyperpetually calling upon us to weep with her and to rejoice with her-makes liberal recompense, and softens around us with a visible embrace our mother country, our sympathetic and consolatory home.
And scarcely less are we moved by localities sacred to the heroes of our race-storied ground, peopled with names and persons historic in the national annals, or consecrated to other lives than ours. It is natural for us to seek those spots with eager interest, to believe ourselves brought nearer to the great Spirit whose habitation made them famous, and to linger with visionary satisfaction, looking at things which he must have looked at, realising his life where he led it. Pilgrimages many grow out of this natural sentiment. The cottage of Shakespeare-the palace of Scott-the "6 warm study of deals,"
where the Scottish Reformer belaboured Satan-and the dark-browed rooms where hapless Mary accomplished her fate. From these shrines we come no wiser-not a whit better acquainted with the saint of each notwithstanding we stand in the same space, we look upon the same walls, we have over us the hallowed roof, and the instinctive superstition is satisfied with this limited result of our faith.
But places sacred to one nation are indifferent to another-one class of men exult over a monument, which to their neighbours is but a block of stone. Yet there is one holy place where all the nations of the earth
come together to worship-one country rich with a perpetual attraction. The soil thrills to the consecrating touch of love and grief; the ages of the past dwell in it as in a sanctuary. Making no account of the wandering handful of wild Asiatics who surround him, the traveller there seeks not scenes of to-day, but cities of the dead. The place has a solemn array of lofty inhabitants, undying fathers of the soil; generation after generation, conquerors, defenders, devotees, have come and gone and departed. But we do not search this country for traces of the Saracen or the Crusader; passing beyond them as modern visitors, a more ancient race claims the universal awe. It is not the city of Godfrey of Bouillon, but of David of Bethlehem, which shines on yonder cluster of hills; and these are not the knightly names of romance which sanctify the tombs. The brave Crusaders claim memories in other countries, but they have no memory here where their blood watered the sacred soil. Turk and Christian, creatures of to-day, stand on the same platform as we do,-beyond the earliest of them are the true monuments and memories of this country
"Over whose acres walked those blessed feet, Which eighteen hundred years ago were nailed
For our redemption to the bitter cross."
The story begins and ends in this great figure appearing visibly before our eyes, and we bow our head to acknowledge Jerusalem, the universal centre of pilgrimage-Judea, Galilee, the Holy Land.
Á land which, if it could be possible to sweep it altogether out of earthly knowledge, would still live in the pages of one wonderful Book, and to the readers of that Book be of all countries the most familiar and well known. Many an untutored peasant, who knows no more of the road to our own capital than the half-mile of dusty highway under his own eyes, knows of the way to Bethany, signalised by many wonders-knows of the road to Gaza which is desert-knows of that road to Damascus where the traveller was solemnly arrested on his way; and is better aware of the wayside grave where her heart-stricken husband buried