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scoundrel, who fully justifies Baroni's dictum': 'I have known a good many Shehaabs, and if you will tell me their company, I will tell you what their religion is.' He plots with a Sheikh to have Tancred seized in the desert on his way to Sinai, and put to ransom for two millions of piastres. His plot partly succeeds, and Tancred is wounded and taken prisoner. But Besso the banker, who had married the Sheikh's daughter, is highly indignant at the affront put upon any friend of Sidonia's, and sends his daughter Eva to negotiate Tancred's release.

She arrives to find Tancred delirious. While a prisoner he has prevailed upon the Sheikh to allow him to make his pilgrimage to Sinai. It is an impressive incident, adequately handled; I shall not attempt to epitomise it: the immediate result was delirium.

On Tancred's recovery the Emir Fakredeen, his betrayer, who hast taken a great fancy to him, invites him to stay in his castle on Mount Lebanon. Tancred accepts with enthusiasm, his warmhearted nature responding eagerly to all advances. Baroni is not so sure. Those Shehaabs,' he says, 'they are such a set, always after something.' In this instance the Emir is after a loan, which he disguises under endless bright and audacious talk about the regeneration of Asia.

The regeneration of Asia is also Tancred's ambition; but not by means of a loan. He is seeking for some principle that shall compose the warring religions of Asia and unite them in a renovating conquest. His object grows more and more unlikely of attainment as he becomes acquainted with them; and he realises the hopeless tangle that he has set himself to unravel when, after much amusing diplomacy, he contrives to visit the Ansarey. It appears that the Ansarey have preserved, together with the statues of the gods of Antioch, the traditions of the Greek faith. The two travellers have obtained access to the Court of the Ansarey through the clever diplomacy of Baroni, who pretends that Tancred is one of themselves. This deception is easily sustained, as Tancred is a Christ Church man who has taken high classical honours, and is even more familar with classical Greek and Greek lore than the Ansarey themselves. But the discovery which so fatally embarrasses the mind of Tancred steadies the mind of Fakredeen. Clearly there is no chance of wheedling a loan out of Tancred, so his friend throws him over, maligns him to the Queen of the Ansarey, and procures an order for the execution of Eva, daughter of Adam Besso, who has fallen into the hands of the Ansarey, and of whom the Queen is jealous. He then helps Eva to escape, in order to earn the gratitude of her father, and leaves Tancred alone at the Court of the Ansarey to get out of his difficulties as best he may. The difficulties are serious: for the Pasha, with five thousand regulars, marches from Aleppo to chastise the Ansarey for some little irregularities. Tancred stands by the

Queen, and guides her troops to victory; but being cut off, he makeshis way to the Desert and thence to Jerusalem. At Bethany he encounters Eva Besso, whose fortitude and intelligence have long commanded his devotion. In the midst of a passionate declarationhe is surprised by a certain tumult attending a procession of personages through the olive-trees: the Duke and Duchess of Bellamont have been unable to restrain their anxiety any longer, and have come to Jerusalem to look after their son.

This fragmentary sketch must serve as a hint of the kind of plot that Lord Beaconsfield loved to develop. There are galleries of portraits, much bright talk; lofty scenes, lofty objects. It is as different from the curate-and-tea-party novel as can possibly be. Not that the curate-and-tea-party novel is not admirable; it is very soothing. But it is not of Disraeli's art. There is a cabbage by Mieris, and it is very precious; but there is also a feast by Veronese, which is perhaps nobler art.

Let us now consider Lord Beaconsfield's novels as vehicles of political information. In examining their value as social sketches we took for our starting-point the most damaging criticism of them ever published. Now that we are endeavouring to determine whether the student of politics may profitably read them or no, let us say at once. the worst ever said of him. It is easily said; it is but one word— 'Charlatan!'

We shall do no harm by getting to facts at once. Take this passage from Coningsby, written in 1843:

'You will observe one curious trait,' said Sidonia to Coningsby, 'in the history of this country: the depository of power is always unpopular; all combine against it; it always falls. Power was deposited in the great barons; the Church, using the king for its instrument, crushed the great barons. Power was deposited in the Church; the king, bribing the Parliament, plundered the Church. Power was deposited in the kings; the Parliament, using the people, beheaded the king, expelled the king, changed the king, and, finally, for a king substituted an administrative officer. For one hundred and fifty years power has been deposited in the Parliament, and for the last sixty or seventy years it has been becoming more and more unpopular.'


This is a good example of the writing that rouses the wrath of Lord Beaconsfield's critics. Here,' they say, 'is a passage reviewing, or pretending to review, a long period of history, parading much knowledge, apparently profound but really superficial, and leading through much shallow rhetoric to an unsound conclusion.'

At page 482 of volume i. of Dr. Stubbs's Constitutional History of England, 1897 edition, there is this passage:

The royal power has curbed the feudal spirit and reduced the system to its proper insignificance. The royal power, having reached its climax, has forced on the people trained under it the knowledge that it, in its turn, must be curbed, and that they have the strength to curb it. The Church, the baronage, and the people have found by different ways their true and common interest. This has not been done without struggles that have seemed at certain times to be internecine. The

people, the baronage, and the Church have been severally crushed, reformed, revived, and reorganised. More than once the balance of forces has been readjusted. The Crown has humbled the baronage with the help of the people, and the Church with the help of the baronage. Each in turn has been made to strengthen the royal power, and has been taught in the process to know its own strength. By law the people have been raised from the dust, the baronage forced to obedience, the clergy deprived of the immunities that were destroying their national character and counteracting their spiritual work. The three estates, trained in and by royal law, have learned how law can be applied to the very power that forced the lesson upon them.

Allowing for differences of style, these two passages are identical; and we may contemplate with altered feelings the word 'charlatan.'

It would not be sound to maintain that all the political views put forward in the novels are as easily justified as this. As the important characters are mostly political personages, they naturally put forward highly conflicting opinions. But the author himself put forward some that were startling. Here we come to Lord Beaconsfield's limitations as a historian. His qualifications it is unnecessary to enumerate; his limitations are two: dearly he loved a good phrase, dearly he loved a good fighting position. Therefore when he came to sum up the Revolution of the seventeenth century, we need not be surprised to find the famous conclusion: Rightly was King Charles surnamed the Martyr, for he was the holocaust of direct taxation.'

But, after all, one does not go to novels to do lessons; so the historical lore of Lord Beaconsfield, whether it receives support from recognised authority or not, is of minor importance when compared with his plots. He chose youths for his heroes, and cared little whether they succeeded or failed, so long as they were energetic. He was uninterested in self-indulgent youth, whether the indulgence was gross or gentle. They must possess as much as possible of the energy of his own mighty race before he cared to study their careers. They must be intelligent, resolute, honourable, and adventurous. Coningsby, obedient to his grandfather and taking his principles from the head of his house, would have been dismissed in a paragraph. But the whole of Coningsby's character leads up to the scene where, in reply to Lord Monmouth's orders, Coningsby plucks up courage to


'I have no wish to enter Parliament.'

'What?' said Lord Monmouth.

'I feel that I am not yet sufficiently prepared for so great a responsibility as a seat in the House of Commons,' said Coningsby.

'Responsibility!' said Lord Monmouth, smiling; 'what responsibility is there? How can any one have a more agreeable seat? The only person to whom you are responsible is your own relation, who brings you in. And I don't suppose there can be any difference on any point between us . . . All you have got to do is to vote with your party. . . .'

'You mean, of course, by that term, the Conservative party ?' Of course; our friends.'

'I am sorry,' said Coningsby, rather pale, but speaking with firmness, 'I am sorry that I could not support the Conservative party.'

'By God!' exclaimed Lord Monmouth . . . 'some woman has got hold of him and made him a Whig.'

'No, my dear grandfather,' said Coningsby, scarcely able to repress a smile, serious as the interview was becoming, nothing of the kind, I assure you. No person can be more anti-Whig.'

'I don't know what you are driving at, sir,' said Lord Monmouth, in a hard dry tone.

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Coningsby endeavours to explain, and Lord Monmouth tries to follow him.

'You mean giving up those Irish corporations?' said Lord Monmouth. 'Well, between ourselves I am quite of the same opinion. But we must mount higher; we must go to '28 for the real mischief. . . . And it is our own fault that we have let the chief power out of the hands of our own order. It was never thought of in the time of your great-grandfather, sir. And if a Commoner were for a season permitted to be the nominal Premier to do the detail, there was always a secret committee of great 1688 nobles to give him his instructions.'

'I should be very sorry to see secret committees of great 1688 nobles again," said Coningsby.

'Then what the devil do you want to see?' said Lord Monmouth. 'Political faith,' said Coningsby, 'instead of political infidelity.'

This idea takes some developing, and Lord Monmouth announces, in return, his own political faith.

'You go with your family, sir, like a gentleman; you are not to consider your opinions, like a philosopher or a political adventurer.'


'Yes, sir,' said Coningsby with animation, but men going with their families, like gentlemen, and losing sight of every principle on which the society of this country ought to be established, produced the Reform Bill.'

'Damn the Reform Bill!' said Lord Monmouth. If the Duke had not quarrelled with Lord Grey on a Coal Committee we should never have had the Reform Bill, and Grey would have gone to Ireland.'

Coningsby stands to his guns, but Lord Monmouth has had enough of being heckled by his grandson, and he concludes the interview by saying: 'I tell you what it is, Harry; members of this family may think as they like, but they must act as I please.' Coningsby disobeys and is disinherited; but he succeeds in the end through the influences developed in the later novel of Endymion, and summed up in the interview between Lady Montfort and Endymion.

'Everything in this world depends upon will.'

'I think everything in this world depends upon women,' said Endymion. It is the same thing,' said Berengaria.

Endymion succeeds, and Coningsby, as we have seen, and Egremont: but not Alroy, Lothair, or Tancred. It is not success that is the end enjoined by the career of Lord Beaconsfield's heroes: it is the heroic attempting of the impossible for the sake of an idea. If he does not worship success, still less does he worship money. Intellect he cherishes and loves to study. The ordinary stupid person attracts

him no more than the ordinary self-indulgent person. He would not have had the patience to produce a Grandcourt, still less could he have drawn 'Bel-Ami.'

The failures of Lothair best exemplify the statement ventured in this article that the two subjects of Lord Beaconsfield's novels are the government of this world and the hope of the world to come. These two thoughts occupy all the important characters of this brilliant work, prompt their actions, and inspire their conversation. Lothair is one of the heroes who are born rich; Alroy, Charlie Egremont, and Endymion are poor. The date of his birth may be taken to be 1847, at the height of the religious agitation that drove one of his guardians into the Roman Church, and caused the other to keep his ward away from Oxford as long as possible. Lothair is eager and earnest, with those decided opinions that mean so much misery for their unhappy owner. At twenty his mind is made up on all important questions. It is a lofty mind; and he intends to devote his fortune to suppressing pauperism and infidelity. Society he does not care for, having been to one party, which he thought ‘a mass of affectation, falsehood, and malice.' It is indispensable to his plans for the world that he should be united to a certain young lady, and here he meets with a difficulty: the young lady's mother interferes and forbids the engagement. Thus all his plans are brought to naught. But one feels that there may be hope for his withered heart, because, when he meets her at a ball, her temper answers to his own.

'You are a most ardent politician,' said Lothair.

'Oh! I do not care in the least about common politics, parties, and office and all that; I neither regard nor understand them. But when wicked men try to destroy the country, then I like my family to be in the front.'

Lothair, having gone into Society to drown care and disappointment, has made some acquaintances since the story opened; and among them are those very wicked men,' with whom he finds that he is much in sympathy. The complication is fearful; but his mind is partly soothed by the conversation of a chance acquaintance who does not know what the Anglican position is. Refreshing ignorance! Lothair often goes to call on her. She is devoted to the cause of Italian independence, and has many charming friends, one of whom greatly encourages him.

'The only tolerable thing in life is action, and action is feeble without youth. What if you do not obtain your immediate object? You always think you will, and the detail of the adventure is full of rapture. And thus it is the blunders of youth are preferable to the triumphs of manhood or the successes of old age.'

'Well, it will be a consolation for me to remember this when I am in a scrape,' said Lothair.

'Oh! you have many, many scrapes awaiting you,' said the princess. 'You may look forward to at least ten years of blunders; that is, illusions; that is, happiness. Fortunate young man!'

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