BEACON S F I E L D 179 total abolition of the corn tax and strongly of opinion return to Protectionist principles. At the same time, howthat it was not for Peel to abolish it. In the next session ever, he insisted (as he did from first to last) on the enor(1843) he and his Young England party took up a mous importance to the country, to the character leader definitely independent r61e, which became more sharply of its people no less than to its material welfare, /*, the critical to the end. Disraeli’s first strong vote of hostility of agricultural contentment and prosperity ; and House of was on a Coercion Bill for perishing and rebellious Ireland. he also obtained a more general recognition of C°mmonsIt was repeated with greater emphasis in the session of the fact that “ the land ” had borne fiscal burdens under 1844, also in a Condition-of-Ireland debate; and from the old regime which were unfair and unendurable under that time forth, as if foreseeing Peel’s course and its the new. So far he did well; and when in 1852 he took effect on the country party, Disraeli kept up the attack. office as chancellor of the exchequer in Lord Derby’s first Meanwhile bad harvests deepened the country’s distress, Administration, the prospect was a smiling one for a man Ireland was approached by famine, the Anti-Corn-Law who, striving against difficulties and prejudices almost League became menacingly powerful, and Peel showed too formidable for imagination in these days, had attained signs of yielding to Free Trade. Disraeli’s opportunity to a place where he could fancy them all giving way. was soon to come now; and in 1845, seeing it on the way, That, however, they were not. Hew difficulties were to he launched the brilliantly destructive series of speeches arise and old prejudices to revive in full force. His first which, though they could not prevent the abolition of the budget was a quaint failure, and was thrown out by a corn-laws, abolished the minister who ended them. These coalition of Liberals and Peelites which he believed was speeches appeal more to admiration than to sympathy, formed against Mr Disraeli more than against the chaneven where the limitations of Disraeli’s protectionist cellor of the exchequer. It was on this occasion that he beliefs are understood, and where his perception of the exclaimed, “ England does not love coalitions.” After later consequences of free trade is most cordially acknow- a reign of ten months he was again in Opposition, and ledged. That he remained satisfied with them himself is remained so for seven years. Of the Crimean war he had doubtful, unless for their foresight, their tremendous effect a better judgment than those whose weakness led them as instruments of punishment, and as they swept him to into it, and he could tell them the whole truth of the affair so much distinction. Within three years, on the death of in twenty words : “ You are going to war with an opponent Lord George Bentinck, there was none to dispute with who does not want to fight, and whom you are unwilling him the leadership of the Conservative party in the House to encounter.” Neither were they prepared; and the of Commons. scandals and political disturbances that ensued revealed In the parliament of 1841 he was member for Shrews- him as a party leader who could act on such occasions bury. In 1847 he was returned for Buckinghamshire, with a dignity, moderation, and sagacity that'served his and never again had occasion to change his constituency. country well, maintained the honour of party government, Up to this time his old debts still embarrassed him, but and cost his friends nothing. The mismanagement of the now his private and political fortunes changed together. war broke down the Aberdeen Government in 1855, and Froude reports that he “received a large sum from a then Disraeli had the mortification of seeing a fortunate private hand for, his Life of Lord George Bentinck ” chance of return to office lost by the timidity and distrust (published in 1852), “while a Conservative millionaire of his chief, Lord Derby—the distrust too clearly includtook upon himself the debts to the usurers; the 3 per ing the undervaluation of Disraeli himself. Lord Derby cent, with which he was content being exchanged for the wanted Lord Palmerston’s help, Mr Gladstone’s, Mr Sidney 10 per cent, under which Disraeli had been staggering.” Herbert’s. This arrangement could not be made; Lord In 1848 his father Isaac Disraeli died, leaving to his son Derby therefore gave up the attempt to form a ministry, Benjamin nearly the whole of his estate. This went to and Lord Palmerston came in. The next chance was the purchase of Hughenden Manor—not, of course, a great taken in less favouring times. The Government in which property, but with so much of the pleasant and picturesque, Disraeli was again financial minister lasted for less than of the dignified also, as quite to explain what it was to eighteen months (1858-59), and then ensued another the affectionate fancy of its lord. About this time, too seven years in the cold and yet colder shade of Opposition. (1851), his acquaintance was sought by an old Mrs Both of these seven-year outings were bad, but the second Brydges Willyams—born a Spanish Jewess and then the by far the worse. Parliamentary reform had become a widow of a long-deceased Cornish squire—who in her dis- burning question and an embarrassing one for the Tory tant home at Torquay had conceived a restless admiration party. An enormous increase of business, consequent for Benjamin Disraeli. She wrote to him again and again, upon the use of steam machinery and free-trade openings pressing for an appointment to consult on an important to commerce, filled the land with prosperity, and dismatter of business: would meet him at the fountain of credited all statesmanship but that which steered by the the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park. Her importunity star over Manchester. Mr Gladstone’s budgets, made succeeded, and the very small, oddly-dressed, strange- possible by this prosperity, were so many triumphs for mannered old lady whom Disraeli met at the fountain Liberalism. Foreign questions arose which strongly became his adoring friend to the end of her life. Grati- excited English feeling—the arrangements of peace with tude for her devotion brought him and his wife in constant Russia, Italian struggles for freedom, an American quarrel, intimacy with her. There were many visits to Torquay ; the Arroiv affair and the Chinese war, the affair of the he gratified her with gossiping letters about the great French colonels, and the Conspiracy Bill; and as they people with whom and the great affairs with which the arose Palmerston gathered into his own sails (except on man who did so much honour to her race was connected, the last occasion) every wind of popular favour. Amid that being the inspiration of her regard for him. She all this the Tory fortunes sank rapidly, becoming nearly died in 1863, leaving him all her fortune, which was hopeless when Lord Palmerston, without appreciable loss considerable; and, as she wished, was buried at Hughenden, of confidence on his own side, persuaded many Tories in close to the grave where Disraeli was to lie. and out of Parliament that Conservatism would suffer It is agreed that the first three years of Disraeli’s little while he was in power. Yet there was great leadership in • Opposition were skilfully employed in despondency, of course, in the Conservative ranks; with reconstructing the shattered Tory party. In doing this despondency discontent; with discontent rancour. The he made it sufficiently clear that there could be no sudden prejudice against Disraeli as Jew, the revolt at his theatri-
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