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LORD BEACONSFIELD.

INTRODUCTION.

IT is usual to draw a decided distinction between politicians and literary men. There seems to be a great gulf between the men of letters and the men of action. Every one can bring forward instances to show that distinguished savans, orators, poets, and professors have shown a want of common sense or political ability if they have left the paths of literature for the career of a statesman. We have often seen political theorists condemned to play but a subordinate part, or to exercise but a temporary influence, in the parliament of their country, and humanitarian poets, like Lamartine, who have wearied the national assembly with their lyrics, and whose political career has been confined to a single great moment. As a rule, then, eminent literary ability precludes political action, and, vice verså, political action suppresses the development of literai powers. Practical politicians, therefore, often

somewhat undervalue those who come to politics. fresh from the ranks of literature; while, on the other hand, men of speculative tendencies and refined culture are apt to have something of the same feeling towards the men of eminent administrative or diplomatic talents; and when, like Renan, for example, they see their fine-spun political theories rejected, they find compensation for their wounded pride in the idea that shrewd and worldly wise mediocrity, in most cases, suffices for the politician.

Nevertheless, there is an aspect under which leading statesmen become literary characters, and fall within the sphere of the literary critic. Within certain limits, every political magnate has a literary side. At any rate, there are his speeches and letters, and Carlyle has shown how much insight may be gained from the letters and speeches of even so illiterate a statesman as Cromwell. These productions have also, for the most part, a direct literary value; for a superior man, whatever his education may have been, generally finds expression for his thoughts in a way peculiar to himself: he is original, that is, he is in possession of the secret, often withheld from many an author by profession, of characterizing or caricaturing a person or subject by some mimic or graphic word.

Still, in spite of the contrast between theoretical and practical men, a long series of exceptions has

shown that literary and political talents may be found united. The political historian is sometimes transformed into the practical politician, and there are still more instances of the transition from politics to history. Cicero and Thiers were at once eminent authors and statesmen, Julius Cæsar and Frederick the Great were both men of literary tastes, and were at the same time politicians and military geniuses.

Artistic, and still more poetic, gifts are, in the case of leading statesmen, very rare, the rarest of all. Cavour was a good speaker; Bismarck is an excellent speaker, but he is not a born orator, nor was Cavour, who was entirely without artistic training; near the close of his life, after a visit to Tuscany, he said, "I have discovered in myself a taste which I did not know that I possessed-the taste for art," a saying which accords with what he used to say when conversation turned to this subject: "I cannot make a sonnet, but I can make Italy." Scarcely any one would suspect Bismarck of secret poetical productions; a romance or a poem from him sounds still more improbable than a sonnet by · Cavour. Yet there are so many literary productions by his hand, that a shrewd critic might try to delineate his character from them; but it would be anything but exhaustive: it is only in his actions. that we see the whole man; the chief characteristics

Ferdinand V. Diets

1880

LORD BEACONSFIELD

A STUDY

492-1

BY

GEORG BRANDES

AUTHORIZED TRANSLATION

BY

MRS. GEORGE STURGE

NEW YORK
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

743 AND 745 BROADWAY

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