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millions of Englishmen as the friend and the instrument of Russia, Mr. Disraeli as the champion of England, and the enemy. Mr. Disraeli was, like another Chatham, bidding England be of good cheer, and hurling defiance at her foes.
Mr. Disraeli ? By this time there was no Mr. Disraeli. The inth of August, 1876, was an important day in the parliamentary history of England. Mr. Disraeli made then his last speech in the House of Commons. It was a speech filled for the most part with banter and ridicule directed against those who were leading the agitation against the Government. But toward the close Mr. Disraeli struck a louder and a stronger note. He sustained and defended the policy of the Government as an imperial policy, the object of which was to maintain the Empire of England, “Nor will we ever agree to any step, though it may obtain for a moment comparative quiet and a false prosperity, that hazards the existence of that empire.” The House of Commons little knew that these were the last words it was to hear from Mr. Disraeli. The secret was well kept. It was made known only to the newspapers that Benjamin Disraeli had become Earl of Beaconsfield. The title once intended for Burke had come to the author of “Vivian Grey." Everybody was well satisfied that if Mr. Disraeli liked an earldom he should have it. His political career had had claims enough to any reward of the kind that his sovereign could bestow. If he had battled for honor, it was but fair that he should have the prize. Coming as it did just then, the announcement of his elevation to the peerage seemed like a defiance flung in the face of those who would arraign his policy. The attacks made on Mr. Disraeli were to be answered by Lord Beaconsfield ; his enemies had become his footstool.
THE CONGRESS OF BERLIN.
had represented so long, and made a farewell speech at Aylesbury. The occasion must for him have been one to call up genuine emotion. The speech was in many parts worthy the occasion. Lord Beaconsfield set forth his reasons for consenting to quit that spendid arena on which he had so long played a brilliant part. Years were telling on him, he explained in some sentences full of feeling and of good taste; he was no longer as young as when, forty-three years before, he addressed the electors of Buckinghamshire in that same place. He said that his colleagues had been more careful of his feelings than Gil Blas was of those of the Archbishop of Granada ; but he added that he was less selfcomplacent then the archbishop. He was willing, therefore, to retire from the field in good time, and to be content to serve his country in the more quiet ways of the House of Lords. Unfortunately, Lord Beaconsfield soon went on to make a fierce attack on his political opponents. He marred the effect of his speech, aristically as well as politically, by the overwrought and acrimonious language in which he ahowed himself to indulge. Speaking of the “sublime sentiments” which had been evoked by the crimes done in Bulgaria, he pointed to the danger of designing politicans taking advantage of them “ for their own sinister ends," and described such conduct as “worse than any of those
Bulgarian atrocities which now occupy attention." Nothing could be in worst taste. It was impossible to doubt that Lord Beaconsfield's picture of the designing politicans was meant to be understood as a picture of Mr. Gladstone and those who supported him. The controversy, bitter enough before, became still more bitter now. Lord Beaconsfield and Mr. Gladstone were thrown into as sharp an antagonism as that of two gladiators in a Roman arena, or two duellists standing at twelve paces from each other. They had been lifelong opponents; this now seemed like a duel to the death. The policy each represented may be described in a few very summary words. Lord Beaconsfield was for maintaing Turkey at all risks as a barrier against Russia. Mr. Gladstone was for renouncing all responsibity for Turkey, and taking the consequences. Men who prided themselves on being practical politicans above all things went naturally with Lord Beaconsfield. Men who held that sound politics cannot exist without sound morals went with Mr. Gladstone. It is our business, the one set of men said, to secure the interests of England ; if Turkey is useful to us a barrier against Russia, we are bound to keep her in her place for our own sake; her private charter is of no account to us. The other men argued that it was the duty of Eng. land to release herself from all responsibility for the crimes of Turkey, and to refuse to stand in the way of the developing freedom of the Christian populations. “The public Conscience of England," said the one;" the interests of England," said the other. “Be just and fear not," Mr. Gladstone urged. “No sentiment," rejoined Lord Beaconsfield. “The crimes of Turkey,” was the cry of one party ; “ the ambition of Russia," made the alarm-note of the other.
Each statesman made a mistake, and each mistake was characteristic of the man. Lord Beaconsfield misunderstood the condition of public feeling and the gravity of the case
when he thought he could get rid of the Bulgarian events by a laugh and a light word. Mr. Gladstone afterward made a mistake when he acted on the assumption that mere sympathy and mere sensibility could long prevail in the English public mind against the traditional distrust of Russia. When Lord Beaconsfield and his supporters once had their opportunity of playing that card, they had the game absolutely in their hands.
The commun expectation was soon fulfilled. At the close of June, 1876, Servia and Montenegro declared war against Turkey. Servia's struggle was short. The Servians were assisted by the advice and the active presence of a large number of Russian officers who volunteered for the purpose. The small Servian army, however, proved no match for the Turks. At the beginning of September the struggle was over, and Servia was practically at Turkey's feet. The hardy Montenegrin mountaineers held their own stoutly against the Turks everywhere, but they could not seriously influence the fortunes of a war. England proposed an armistice of not less than a month. Turkey delayed, shuffled, paltered, at length suggested an armistice till the end of the following March. The suggestion was preposterous. Such a period of suspense would have been ruinous to Servia and Montenegro, intolerable to Europe. Russia then intervened and insisted upon an armistice at once, and her demand was acceded to by Turkey. Meanwhile the general feeling in England on both sides was growing stronger and stronger. Public meetings of Mr. Gladstone's supporters were held all over the country, and the English Government was urged in the most emphatic manner to bring some strong influence to bear on Turkey. On the other hand, it cannot be doubted that the common suspicion of Russia's designs began to grow more keen and wakeful than ever. Lord Derby frankly made known to the Emperor Alexander what was thought or feared in England, and the emperor re
plied by pledging his sacred word that he had no intention of occupying Constantinople, and that, if he were compelled by events to occupy any part of Bulgaria, it should be only provisionally, and until the safety of the Christians should be secured. Then Lord Derby proposed that a conference of the European Powers should be held at Constantinople in order to agree upon some scheme which should provide at once for the proper government of the various provinces and populations subject to Turkey, and at the same time for the maintenance of the independence and integrity of the Ottoman Empire. The proposal for a conference was accepted by all the Great Powers, and on November 8th, 1876, it was announced that Lord Salisbury and Sir Henry Elliott, the English Ambassador at Constantinople, were to attend as the representatives of England.
Lord Beaconsfield was apparently determined to recover the popularity that had been somewhat impaired by his unlucky way, of dealing with the massacres of Bulgaria. His plan now was to go boldly in for denunciation of Russia. He sometimes talked of Russia as he might of an enemy who had already declared war against England. On November gth, 1876, he spoke at a banquet given by the new Lord Mayor at the Guildhall. He glorified the strength and the resources of England. If the struggle comes, he said, there is no country so prepared for war as England. “In a righteous cause, England is not the country that will have to inquire whether she can enter upon a second or a third campaign. In a righteous cause England will commence a fight that will not end until right is done.” It was clear that the allusions in the speech were to Russia. The words about the second and third campaign were of unmistakable application. Either by coincidence or otherwise, the Russian Emperor delivered a speech the very next day to the nobles of Moscow, which sounded like a direct answer to Lord Beaconsfield's challenge. Alexander de