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still Fortune mocked him. Palmerston, that 'gay old Tory' in Liberal guise, had stepped upon the bridge and, as the ship of state glided over the last placid waters of a constitution which Russell thirty years before had deemed to be finality itself, and which Lecky in the last years of his life still considered the soundest we ever had, it was, by a provoking irony, a progressive hand that held the wheel and a progressive crew that manned the vessel. There was only one course left open to ambition, and Disraeli took it with his customary courage and his customary absence of scruple. Beyond all doubt it was the elections of 1857, which installed Palmerston in power with a substantial majority as the typical embodiment of stable mid-Victorian England, that first turned Disraeli's thoughts in the direction of electoral reformin the direction of Niagara and the rapids. There was not present in his mind any question of better men or better measures. It was not that Palmerston's personality or Palmerston's opinions excited distrust. Derby and Disraeli had sought him as a colleague in 1852 and 1855, and would have been only too glad to have got him. It was simply that Disraeli was taking the shortest way to get back into power. His letter to Derby scarcely veils the truth behind the perfunctory patriotism which it includes:
"Consider,' he writes to Derby, 'whether a reform, in such a spirit, would not be extremely beneficial to the Conservative party. ... Our party is now a corpse. A bold and decided course might not only put us on our legs, but greatly help the country and serve the State'(iv, 79).
Derby's answer is the answer of an honest patriota frank recognition that Palmerston's opinions sufficiently represented those of the Conservative party and that Palmerston's policy was therefore deserving of their support. Mr Buckle, however, characteristically dismisses Derby's conduct with faint praise. He cannot, he tells us, deny that there was good sense in Derby's reasoning, yet he is half indignant at the blow administered to the adventurer.
Derby,' he remarks, thus damped down, as on so many previous and so many subsequent occasions, his lieutenant's
ardour for a “bold and decided course.” He was already showing a disposition towards that policy of keeping Palmerston in office . . . which incidentally obliged Disraeli to spend some of the best years of his life in leading an Opposition which did not seriously oppose' (iv, 81).
To honest reform-or, as Disraeli sometimes preferred to call it, development—Derby neither was nor ever had been a foe; and, when the Orsini incident caused Palmerston's Administration to fall, he took over Palmerston's reform-policy as well as Palmerston's office. This, we may notice in passing, was the occasion on which the Conservative leaders made that strenuous attempt to possess themselves of Gladstone's support, which, had it succeeded, as it might quite well have done, would have left the two great rivals-for rivals they must always have been—to fight out their differences within the Cabinet instead of within the House. Mr Buckle contrasts the generous tone of Disraeli's invitation, with the frigid character of Gladstone's reply. That is surely a superficial comment. Disraeli had nothing to forget. Gladstone had enough cause to remember. If something was owing to Disraeli's frankness, more was owing to Peel's memory; and there are some political offences which must be forgiven but may not be forgotten. Any one with a good temper can write a letter of the first kind; the composition of the reply is calculated to be difficult exactly in proportion as a man's standard is high.
Derby's short-lived Government of 1858-9, after infinite pains, brought to birth an ill-starred child in the shape of a modest Reform Bill, which Disraeli defended with appropriate arguments. A monotonous constituency, he asserted, such as would be obtained by the introduction of a lower franchise, was contrary to the principle of the constitution, which aimed at creating a mirror of the mind, as well as of the material interests of England through the representation of property, thrift and education. Palmerston, being himself a cynic and a fraud, read without difficulty between Disraeli's fine sentiments. •M. Disraeli,' he remarked to a diplomatist, 'coûte que coûte, recherche la popularité “out of doors." C'est un démocrate recouvert de la peau d'un conservateur.' And
he proceeded to vote for Russell's wrecking resolution, not because he approved its advanced Radical proposals, but because its success served to checkmate Disraeli's designs.
For another six years the old man, reinstated by his hypocrisy, contrived to check the advent of reform. Then, at his death, Russell and Gladstone threw the apple of discord once again into the arena. But the new Reform Bill failed; the Ministry fell; and Derby and Disraeli returned to office in June, 1866, unshackled by pledges and undreaming of adventure. The nation, it was generally supposed by the politicians, had no desire for change. A month later, however, came the riot in Hyde Park, which caused Walpole, the Home Secretary, to shed tears, and created in the minds of the Queen and Derby enough apprehension to give birth to a fresh project of Reform. All through the autumn the Conservative leaders exchanged counsels of expediency whether to proceed by bill, or resolution, or Royal Commission. Disraeli favoured a Fabian policy. He was, Mr Buckle tells us, '. .. for the time, on the question not of principle, but of tactics, nearer in opinion to his colleague, Cranborne, than to his leader, Derby.'
Wise as the strategy of delay might be in one respect, it was fatal in another. Precious weeks, which should have been devoted to the preparation of a particular plan of campaign, were given to vague discussion of general method. When the House met in February, 1867, Ministers knew neither their own minds nor the minds of one another, nor the mind of the country. It was not one leap in the dark, but several, that Derby called upon his colleagues to undertake. General obscurity inevitably produces general confusion. Expediency and not principle having been the canon applied to the management of public business, nothing had been thought out; and the chiefs of the Cabinet played fast and loose with bills and amendments and pledges, until everyone with a grain of principle in his composition, who had to do with them, was outraged or disgusted. Three things,' General Peel announced in phrases still remembered, have I learnt in these debates—that there is nothing less vital than a vital point, nothing so insecure as a security, nothing so elastic as the conscience of a Cabinet
Minister.' That was the impression of Disraeli's proceedings left upon record by the colleague who resigned. What of the colleague who remained to play the part of fidus Achates? I had more talk,' wrote GathorneHardy in his journal, with Disraeli, whose fault is that he is always looking for what will suit others, rather than what is sound in itself.' And again at a later stage: Our course about the large boroughs is, to my mind, unsatisfactory, and again and again I long to be out of the bother. General Peel attacked us vehemently, and the House sneered at Disraeli's surrender. Odious work!'
But Mr Buckle is proof against the evidence of Disraeli's want of rectitude, which, with the most laudable impartiality, he accumulates on every page. This is his summary of the whole matter :
*Undoubtedly the upshot of the Act was, roughly speaking, to double the constituency by adding about a million new voters, mostly of one class-a result which neither Derby nor Disraeli had originally contemplated, but which they had reached by a perfectly open and honourable road' (iv, 563).
A page or two later, Bishop Wilberforce, to whose fading reputation a passage in one of Disraeli's letters will do little good, is invoked to show that, throughout the session of 1867, Disraeli, in the eyes of one who was, we are assured, as good a judge of success' as any of his contemporaries, had shown those high qualities which can be summarised in the word character. It would be an amusing if unkindly pursuit to take Mr Buckle at his word and illustrate bis conception of character'in politics page by page from the life of Disraeli as depicted in the volumes under review, and especially in the chapters on Reform. But space precludes ; and, perhaps, too, persuasiveness does not require. For Mr Buckle sets out the facts with so much candour and generosity that, like Sir Anthony Absolute in a famous dialogue with Mrs Malaprop, one is constrained to confess that he is a truly moderate and polite arguer, since almost every third word he says is on his opponent's side of the question. But if any one remains in doubt what to believe as to the procedure of the Conservative leaders in 1867, let him Vol. 226.- No. 449.
study Mr Buckle's chapters in the light of the indictment which was driven home in the pages of this Review by one peculiarly qualified to do so, close upon fifty years ago. •The charge recorded against Lord Derby by recent events, wrote the author of The Conservative Surrender,' 'is fa: graver than that of any change of opinion however rapid. It is that he obtained the votes which placed him in office on the faith of opinions which, to keep office, he immediately repudiated.'
Disraeli's case differed from Peel's only in this—that Peel attempted to transfer the conduct of a historie change to the hands of those who had most right to make it, and carried it out himself only because no one else would, whereas the Conservative leaders in '67 made no secret of the fact that they were trying to dish the Whigs. 'Securus judicat orbis terrarum. Mr Buckle, perhaps, does as well to close the volume at the triumphant accession of Disraeli to the Premiership in February 1868. Had he carried the story on to December he would have had to acknowledge that the Reform Act, far from realising Disraeli's expectations, had yielded its first fruits in a great and well-merited Conservative defeat. When at length Fortune shifted again, the brilliant gambler was too old to do more than play with her gifts. The pomp of power, indeed, for which he had so greatly cared and so dexterously schemed was not denied him; yet the very feature of his administration-his policy at the Congress of Berlin-which he desired us to remember is precisely that which we have most reason to regret. So nicely does Nemesis sometimes mete out her measures.
It is not the less true, even if his methods were faulty and worse, that his prescience was justified and his vision soaring. He had realised what less imaginative men failed to realise, that there was a force operative in political affairs beside which artificial limitations of the suffrage were as dust in the balance. Believing passionately in race, he believed that in the spirit of the English people he had discovered a foundation common to empire and to freedom. He divined, besides, the broad truth of that which has since been brilliantly and epigrammatically expressed by saying that democracy is rather a form of