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THE LIFE OF
BENJAMIN DISRAELI

EARL OF BEACONSFIELD



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

HBW YORK • BOSTON • CHICAGO • DALLAS
ATLANTA • SAN FRANCISCO

MACMILLAN & CO., Limitbd

LONDON • BOMBAY • CALCUTTA
MELBOURNB

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, Ltd.

TORONTO




THE EARL Oi' JJEACUxN-Sl'lELU.

From the vnfinished portrait by Sir J. Millais, P.R.A.



THE LIFE OF

BENJAMIN DISRAELI

EARL OF BEACONSFIELD



BY

GEORGE EARLE BUCKLE

IN SUCCESSION TO W. F. MONYPENNY



VOLUME VI

1876—1881

WITH PORTRAITS AND ILLUSTRATIONS



Read no history, nothing but
biography, for that is life without
theory. — Contarini Fleming.



Nnn fork
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

1920

A.VL rights reserved



COPYRTGHT, 1920
By THH times PUBLISHING COMPANY, LIMITED

Set up md elecuotyped. Published, June, 1920



V/^



CONTENTS OF VOL. VI.

CHAPTEK PAGE

I. REOPENING OF THE EASTERN QUESTION, 1875-

1876 1

II. THE BULGARIAN ATROCITIES. 187G .... 41

III. THE CONSTANTINOPLE CONFERENCE. 1876-1877 78

IV. WAR AND CABINET DISSENSION. 1877 . . .115

V. CONDITIONAL NEUTRALITY. 1877 . . . .160

VL DERBY'S FIRST RESIGNATION. 1877-1878 . . 200

VII. FINAL PARTING WITH DERBY. 1878 . . . .240

VIII. AGREEMENTS WITH RUSSIA AND TURKEY. 1878 282

IX. THE CONGRESS OF BERLIN. 1878 .... .310

X. THE AFGHAN WAR. 1878 369

XI. THE ZULU WAR. 1879 405

XII. BEACONSFIELD AND THE QUEEN. 1874-1880 . 4,51

XIII. LAST MONTHS OF THE GOVERNMENT. 1870-1880 475

XIV. DISSOLUTION AND DEFEAT. 1880 ... . 508
XV. ENDYMION. 1880 551

XVI. THE LAST YEAR. 1880-1881 575

XVII. THE MAN AND HIS FAME 627

INDEX TO THE SIX VOLUMES 647



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS TO VOL. VI.



THE EARL OF BEACONSFIELD Frontispiece

From the unfinished portrait by Sir John Millais, P.R.A.

MONOGRAM OF LORD BEACONSFIELD . . . page viii

FA CINQ
PACK

PRINCE BISMARCK 82

From the signed photograph presented by Prince Bis-
marck to Lord Beaconsfield at the Berlin Congress.

SELINA COUNTESS OF BRADFORD 128

From a portrait by Edward CliflFord.

QUEEN VICTORIA 202

From the portrait at Hughenden by Von Angeli.

BENJAMIN, EARL OF BEACONSFIELD 310

Photographed at Osborne by the Queen's command, July
22, 1878.

THE 'PAS DE DEUX' 346

From the cartoon by Sir J. Tenniel in Punch, August 3,

1878.

PRINCE GORTCHAKOFF 408

From the signed photograph presented by Prince Gortcha-
koflF to Lord Beaconsfield at the Berlin Congress.

MEMORIAL TO LORD BEACONSFIELD 464

Placed by Queen Victoria in the chancel of Hughenden
Church.

'POWER AND PLACE' 530

From the cartoon in Vanity Fair, December 16, 1879.

THE EARL OF BEACONSFIELD 580

From a miniature given by Queen Victoria to Lady Brad-
ford

THE GRAVE, SHOWING THE QUEEN'S WREATH . . .622



CHAPTER I
Reopening of the Easte.iin Question^

1875-1876

The change of name corresponded closely with a change
in the dominant theme of the life of Benjamin Disraeli,
Earl of Beaconsfield. The name Disraeli snggests, in the
political sphere, the consummate Parliamentarian, who was
proud of the House of Commons and of whom the House
of Commons was proud ; the destroyer of Peel, the re-crea-
tor of the Conservative party, the reformer of the borough
sutfrage, the promoter of Tory Democracy. The name Bea-
consfield has quite other associations, far removed from do-
mestic party politics and gladiatorial combats in Parlia-
ment. It recalls the imperial and European statesman, the
faithful custodian of his country's interests at a critical
epoch in international politics, the leading figure at a Euro-
pean Congress presided over by Bismarck and containing
GortchakofF, Andrassy, and Salisbury among its members.
It is for ever associated with the maintenance, and presenta-
tion to the external world of England's ' magnificent and
awful cause.' When Beaconsfield died, Salisbury finely
said of him that ' zeal for the greatness of England was the
passion of his life.' That was generally accepted in 1881 as
a natural and, in the main, a just appreciation ; but, had it
been said in 1874 of the Disraeli who then became Prime
Minister for the second time, it would rather have provoked
criticism and denial than have obtained general acceptance.

And yet the ardent patriotism, the high imperial spirit,
which dominated Beaconsfield, had always been latent in
Disraeli, and had given frequent signs of its presence to

1



2 THE EASTERN QUESTION [chap.i

tliose who looked for them. His youthful novel, tlie Young
Dul'e, contains this fervid apostrophe to his country : ' Few
can love thee better than he who traces these idle lines.
. . . If ever the hour shall call, my brain and life are
thine ' ; ^ and in the tract, Gallomania, of the same period,
he describes his politics as comprised in one word — Eng-
land.^ So, in the days of the struggle between Free Trade
and Protection, what he strove for was the union of all
classes to promote the greatness and prosperity of the whole
country; the agriculture, the commerce, and the manufac-
tures working together as co-mates and partners.^ In the
Crimean War he insisted that it was the duty of the Oppo-
sition, which he led, to support the Sovereign and maintain
the honour of the country."^ And, when combating the pol-
icy of universal intermeddling pursued by Palmerston and
Russell, he was careful to insist that Britain would never
tolerate aggression on its independence or empire ; that,
when it entered on a just quarrel, it would never cease its
efforts till it had accomplished its aim; that, on fitting occa-
sion, it would even be prepared, without allies, to encounter
a world in arms.^ Skelton saw, and pointed out in 1867,
that the vision of ' this mightier Venice, this imperial
republic on which the sun never sets,' fascinated Disraeli;
that England was ' the Israel of his imagination ' ; and
that, if he had his chance, he would be the imperial oMinister
before he died.'' So the imperialism of the 1872 pro-
gramme, of the firm remonstrance with Berlin in May,
1875, of the Suez Canal purchase, and of the Royal Titles
Bill, was but a natural development; and with the reopen-
ing of the Eastern Question, and the escape from the detail
of domestic politics provided by the transfer to the Lords,
foreign policy, which from first to last he maintained to be
of primary, of paramount importance,^ overshadowed and
dwarfed in Beaconsfield's mind all other issues.

1 See Vol I., p. 132. 2 See Vol. I., p. 210. 3 See Vol. TTT., p. 200.

4 See Vol. IV., p. .5.37. s See Vol. IV., pp. 200. .310, :UG.

6 See Vol. IV., p. 5.50. 7 See Vol. I.. |i. -JOS, and Vol. V., p. 191.



1875-1876] DISEAELI'S STANDPOINT 3

When Disraeli left the Commons, the Eastern Question
had been occupying the increasing attention of the Gov-
ernment for a year; but only in the last few weeks had it
become at all matter of controversy, Hartington, the Oppo-
sition leader, having deliberately said, when raising the sub-
ject in the House, so recently as June 9, ' I do not believe
there exists in the country any distrust of the proceedings of
Her Majesty's Government.' No sooner, however, had the
Prime Minister quitted the arena where he could answer
his chief accuser face to face, than the heather was set on
fire by Gladstone with a pamphlet on BulgaHan Horrors,
and a controversy was kindled which was never suffered to
die down so long as Beacoonsfield remained in office.

The Eastern Question, as it presented itself to Disraeli in
the seventies, was one side of the great problem, how to safe-
guard the British Empire, with its immense commercial and
territorial interests in the Levant, in the Persian Gulf, in
India, in Australasia, and in the Far East, in face of a sim-
ultaneous and sweeping advance of Russian power and
propaganda, both in Europe and in Asia, towards the south
and the sea. We know now that the Colossus had feet of
clay; but then it seemed a reasonable fear that, unless
sharply checked, he might bestride at any rate the Eastern
world. While in Asia the crumbling Tartar kingdoms were
falling one after another under Russian sway, in Europe,
the Ottoman Empire, which had long barred Russian prog-
ress to that key of Mediterranean empire, Constantinople,
had been stricken with a sickness which was for a while
arrested by the Crimean War, but which, if not carefully
tended, might wfell prove mortal.

It was nearly five hundred years since, in the battle of
Kossovo and in subsequent campaigns in the Balkans and
in Greece, the Ottoman Turks, a martial Asian tribe of
Mohammedan faith, had submerged the Serbs, the Bulgars,
and the Greeks ; it was more than four hundred years since
they had extinguished the Eastern Empire, that lingering
remnant of the Roman State, by the capture of Constanti-



4 THE EASTERN QUESTION [chap, i

nople. All the subjected races were Christian, after, in the
main, the Eastern rite ; but many landowners and others ac-
cepted the religion of the conquerors. The Greeks were the
representatives of the foremost civilisation of the ancient
world, a civilisation which had flourished more than two
thwisand years before Disraeli's day, and which under Alex-
ander of Macedon first, and afterwards under Constantine
and his successors, had commanded an empire in three con-
tinents. Both Serbs and Bulg-ars were, in world history,
like the Turks themselves, comparative late-comers, the one
from a north-east European, the other from an Asiatic, home,
and both, also like the Turks, were only partially civilised ;
but both races, one pure Slav, the other mixed Slav and Tar-
tar, at one time exercised imperial sway in the Balkans.
During a couple of periods from the ninth to the thirteenth
century the Bulgars had enjoyed an empire stretching from
the Black Sea to the Adriatic, including most of the penin-
sula except the part south of Thessaly and Epinis, and ex-
cept the immediate neighbourhood of Constantinople. To
them succeeded the Serbs, who, in the fourteenth century,
included in their kingdom the whole upper portion of the
peninsula from the Save and Danube almost to the JEgean,
and from the Adriatic to the Lower Maritza, having more-
over a lordship over Bulgaria proper which carried their do-
minion to the Black Sea. Both these medieval empires had
perished as though they had never been ; but highlanders
have long memories.

The Ottoman Empire, based upon these ruins, and em-
bracing large tracts of Asia and Africa as well as of Europe,
had a period of great magnificence and renown in the fif-
teenth and sixteenth centuries ; it was feared and courted
by European potentates of every degree. The flood of
Ottoman conquest had indeed twice carried the Turks to
the gates of Vienna; but since the beginning of the eigh-
teenth century their dominion in Europe had been restricted
to the Balkan peninsula ; and the nineteenth century had
seen a serious inroad made even there on their authority.



1830-1870] DECAY OF THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE 5

While the Ottomans were still a conquering race, the em-
pire was well administered, taxation was light, and the sub-
ject races had little cause of complaint. But the Turkish
conquests were never thoroughly consolidated. There was
little or no intermarriage between the ruling race and the
ruled ; Turks, Slavs, and Greeks dwelt together side by side
but were never fused into a nation. Accordingly, when the
heritage of Solyman the Magnificent passed in 1566 to
a series of incompetent successors, there was rapid decay.
Corruption and inefficiency at the centre of government pro-
duced corruption and oppression throughout the provinces.
Misgovernment rekindled the national spirit of the op-
pressed peoples, and insurrections and revolutionary wars,
often successful, were the inevitable outcome.

Since about 1830, three great peninsular communities
had escaped from the effective control of the Turks.
Greece, south of Thessaly and Epirus, had become abso-
lutely independent. Moldavia and Wallachia, the princi-
palities between the Danube and the Carpathians, after re-
ceiving local autonomy in 1830, had become practically in-
dependent by the Treaty of Paris in 1856, and had subse-
quently been united into a single state, Rumania, in 1861.
Serbia, under Prince Milosh, had definitely achieved auton-
omy in 1830, and ecclesiastical independence in 1831 ; and
the Turks had evacuated in 1867 the fortified places which
they held under the earlier arrangements, thus giving Ser-
bia virtual, if not technical, independence. Even Bulgaria,
which had seemed the most hopelessly submerged of all the
nationalities, had shown signs of reviving national con-
sciousness, and had secured recognition of her church in a
Bulgarian exarchate in 1870, though her political subjection
remained unmodified. Montenegro, the little Slav State in
the fastnesses of the Dinaric Alps, had never submitted to
the Turkish invader. Thus, in 1875, the effective Turkish
Empire in Europe had dwindled to the Slav provinces of
Bosnia and Plerzegovina in the north-west of the peninsula,
between the Save and Austrian Dalmatia, the adjoining san-



6 THE EASTEKN QUESTION ^chap. i

jak of iSTovi Bazar, Bulgaria on the Danube and the "! lack
Sea, Albania and Epirus on the Adriatic, Thessalj and Mac
donia on the -Egean, and Thrace and the districr immedi-
ately around Constantinople, commanding the T >
mora and the Straits. Turkey in T^urope could ii]ji

fer much further territorial dimiuiition, and j^'' i i.,.!rj-r
real make-weight in ISTear Eastern politics. '"^ ./ .^ud

While the Turkish power, largely owing to •* '%•• '
of incapable Sultans, was waning through th*. . nth

and the early nineteenth centuries, the powers ' "S,

directed bj energetic rulers, from Peter through '^' .
to Nicholas, was steadily increasing, and was ' .._^

more applied to acquiring control over Turkish p
the same or a similar Slav race, and professing . . I'o
ty'pe of Christianity, as the principal subject peopL
key in Europe, the Russians were also spurred o .j.if

economic necessity of keeping the Bosphorus and . ,, ■■)>
danelles open for their Black Sea trade. Constantinopi
accordingly, with its command of both waterways, and its
tenure of the keys of two continents, became their inevit-
able aim. By two treaties, that of Kutchuk-Kainardji ii
1774, and that of Unkiar-Skelessi in 1833, Russia obtained,
at any rate for the time, that exclusive right to champion
the Christian subject races which she recognised as the
most efficient lever for making her will prevail with the
Sublime Porte.

It took British diplomacy long to comprehend its inter-
ests in the Near East. William Pitt the younger, indeed,
even before the war with France, endeavoured, but in vain,
to rouse his countrymen to a sense of the dangers involved
in a Russian advance to the Mediterranean. In spite
Napoleon's boast that Egypt was the place where he wo i*i
strike a mortal blow at the British Empire, it was not until
the nineteenth century was past its infancy that British
diplomacy came to realise how important the Near East and
the Caliphate at Constantinople were to a power which was
established in India and ruled over a large and increasing



1774-1875] THE PAN-SLAVONIC MOVEMENT 7

nurdDer of Mohammedan subjects. Canning, while for-
■vav'ding Greek independence, had successfully combated
iiussian rJaims to exclusive or even preponderant rights in
"^V"^ '' • 'mt it was Palmerston who, by his insistence in
'".'the Treaty of Unkiar-Skelessi in 1841 and by
!sr-ful prosecution of the Crimean War, had finally

' r 1 the diplomatic map all trace of special Russian

ver the Sublime Porte. The Treaty of Paris,

v^iii" 'uded that war, made the support of the integrity

ar ndence of the Turkish Empire a principle, not

. British, but of European policy.
J ■.' ■" nad never acquiesced in this defeat of her claims

'!'\,'. For a time she turned her energies rather in

^ion of Asiatic expansion; but her Government

watched European developments that might favour

^tion of her Balkan pretensions. Turkey did lit-

'^ thing to utilise the breathing-space afforded her by
* ^e' Crimean War. In spite of fair professions and paper
„'dicts, misgovernment and oppression were rife, so that
theiL was a promising field for the spread of propaganda,
secret societies, and conspiracies. A movement, known as
^Pan-Slavism, perhaps scientific in origin, but speedily di-
verted to political ends, sprang up in Russia and in neigh-
bouring Slav countries, with the object of promoting the
racial feeling and unity of the Slav peoples ; an ideal which
could at that period only be realised in practice und( r ? ""-
sian hegemony. Though the Russian Government lo.
somewhat askance at the revolutionary aspects of the move-
ment, they made adroit use of it for undermining Turkish
dominion in Europe. They sent as Ambassador to Con-
. -antinople in 1864 a Pan-Slavonic enthusiast. Count Igna-
{[' "i, who made it his chief aim, during the thirteen years
of 'his mission, to bring under Russian influence all the
Christian nationalities of Turkey and especially the Bul-
garians, and to teach them to look to Russia as their even-
tual liberator from the Turkish yoke. It was an aim which
could, of course, only be pursued in a semi-official and secret



8 THE EASTERN QUESTION [chap, i

manner, so that it might always be disavowed when incon-
venient by the Russian Foreign Office; but it was steadily
kept in view not merely by the embassy at Constantinople
but by the whole Russian consular staff throughout the pen-
insula. Hence, owing to oppression on the one hand and
intrigue on the other, the Balkans became honeycombed
with conspiracies and secret societies, connived at, if not fos-
tered by, Russian diplomacy; a state of things which a
statesman like Disraeli, only too sensible of the importance
of such underground workings in international politics, was
little likely to disregard.

While the ground was thus being quietly prepared by a
long course of subterranean intrigue, the Franco-German
War provided, as we have seen, an opportunity for an open
advance. In return for the benevolent neutralitv which
Russia had extended to Germany in her hour of danger,
Bismarck was quite ready to encourage his Eastern neigh-
bour to re-establish her naval power in the Black Sea. With
his connivance, Gortchakoff, in October, 1870, denounced
the Black Sea clauses of the Treaty of Paris, and pro-
claimed that the Tsar would resume his ' sovereign rights '
in those waters ; pleading, in defence of this repudiation of
solemn obligations, that, owing to recent infringements of
European treaties, it would be difficult to maintain that the
written law ' retains the moral validity which it may have
possessed at other times.' This was a cynical adaptation to
Russia's case of the principles on which Bismarck's foreign
policy had been based, and a direct defiance to the Powers
who had, actively or passively, imposed their will upon
her in the Crimean War. But with France under Ger-
many's heel, Italy occupied with taking possession of Rome,
and Austria indisposed, after her lesson in 1866, to adven-
ture, Great Britain could find no effective support in main-
taining the sanctity of the written European law, and had
to accept, at the Congress of London in 1871, a revision of
the Treaty of Paris in the sense desired by Russia. It
should, however, be noted that, in all other respects, save



1870-1875J TRExVTIES Oi" PARIS AND LONDON 9

that of naval force in the Black Sea, the Treaty of London
upheld and reaffirmed the provisions of the Treaty of Paris.

It was on the Treaty of Paris, thus revised and re-estab-
lished only four years previously by the Treaty of London,
that Disraeli took his stand when the Eastern Question was
reopened in 1875. The maintenance of the faith of public
treaties was always a leading feature in his political sys-
tem ; and in this case the recent reversion, through the open-
ing of the Suez Canal, of almost the whole Eastern trade
to the Mediterranean route made it, to his mind, more than
ever necessary for England to support her traditional pol-
icy. He obtained a control of the Canal itself by the pur-
chase of the Khedive's shares ; he looked to the integrity and
independence of Turkey, guaranteed by Europe, to guard
the imperial route against a flank attack. In this way Euro-
pean peace and British interests would be alike secured.

The Treaty of Paris which giuiranteed Turkish integrity
and independence recited that it was the Sultan's intention
to introduce reforms for the benefit of his Christian sub-
jects. Disraeli recognised the obligation imposed on Eng-
land, as a leader among the Powers who had ousted Russia
from her protectorate of Christians in Turkey, to use her
influence at Constantinople to secure for them tolerable
government ; and he was the more ready to fulfil this obliga-
tion as he realised that without tolerable government it must
be difficult to ensure either integrity or independence. But
he could not admit that individual signatory Powers had
any right of armed interference, probably leading to occupa-
tion, in order to enforce reform ; still less that the nonful-
filment of reform dispensed the signatories from observing
their guarantee under the Treaty.

There was one element, however, in the problem which
Disraeli took insufficiently into account. A fervent believer
in race, he had not been converted, even by the success of
the Italian Risorgimento and by the establishment of the
German Empire, to any sympathy for the cognate idea of
nationality. His belief in race as a principle was in its es-



10 THE EASTERN QUESTION [chap.i

sence a belief in his own race : and the aims of the Jews,



whatever they may have been before and since, were, in his
day, largely divorced from the assertion of political na-
tionality in any form. Though some leading Jews, such as
Sir Moses , Montefiore, were already promoting Jewish
colonies in Palestine, the modern Zionist movement
for the restoration of Jewish population and power in
their ancient land had not yet begim; and Jewish aspira-
tions were still mainly directed to the attainment first of
equality of status, and next of a leading position in busi-
ness, art, and politics, among the several nations where
they were settled. As individual Jews had thus won fame
and power among the Christian peoples of the West, so in-
dividual Greeks and Slavs, Arabs and Armenians had risen
to influence and authority in the Turkish State. With per-
meation of this kind he had every sympathy; but, con-
vinced as he was of the benefits derived from the blending
of diverse elements into strong centralised Powers like
France and Great Britain, he distrusted movements which
would break up existing Empires with no likelihood of any-
thing but chaos to take their place. To apply the principle
of nationality in the Balkans was obviously a difficult mat-
ter. Greek, Eoman, Greco-Roman, Bulgarian, Serbian,
and Ottoman Empires had each in turn dominated prac-
tically the whole region. Consequently, in many districts,
notably in Macedonia and along the coasts, Greeks, Bulgari-
ans, Serbs, and Turks were inextricably intermingled; and
the mutual antagonisms of the subject races, with their
irreconcilable historical claims and their different stages of
civilisation, often prevailed over their common dislike of the
governing Turk.

Of these grave difficulties Gladstone took little heed. In
regard to nationality he was, as Disraeli was not, responsive
to the spirit of the age. Starting from a lively apprecia-
tion of the aspirations of unemancipated Italy and half-
emancipated Greece, he welcomed similar stirrings among
the Slav peoples. In later life he developed so active a



1875] NATIONALITY IN THE BALKANS 11

sympathy with the real or pretended nationalist movements
in various parts of the world that he could recognise a ' peo-
ple rightly struggling to be free ' even in the dervish fanat-
ics of the Sudan. In the present case he had the insight
to discern the makings of a nation in downtrodden Bulgaria.
He was ready even to accept and applaud invading Eussian
armies as fitting liberators of the Christian subjects of
Turkey.

But what claim had Russia to pose as a crusader in the
cause of humanity ? Did Christian Russia compare so
very favourably with IMohammedan Turkey ? She had in-
deed recently emancipated her serfs, but she had done little
else to raise her backward peoples in the social scale; and
the knout and Siberia were among her ordinary instru-



Online LibraryWilliam Flavelle MonypennyThe life of Benjamin Disraeli, earl of Beaconsfield (Volume 6) → online text (page 1 of 73)