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silent, for, as they strike against cannot submit to be called a dog each other, the atmosphere rever- by a drunken Russian trooper. berates as with the jingle of crystal All his blood rises up in hot rechimes.
bellion ; for the moment he forThe prisoners with their dis- gets that he is a convict prisoner engaged right hands are rubbing bound for the mines—he rememtheir ears, their noses, to keep bers only that he is a nobleman, them from congealing; the Cossack an officer. guards are laying in a store of heat It needs but a moment to spring and strength from out their brandy- to his feet, wrest the bayonet from flasks. Ă red-nosed, one-eyed sol- the hand of the insolent Russian, dier of peculiarly villanous appear
and with it fell him senseless to ance has tilted up his bottle, and the ground—but that moment has with head thrown back is pouring sealed his fate. the last drops of some very fiery Close by there stands a second alcohol down his well - seasoned Cossack sentry with loaded musket. throat.
His orders are peremptory in case As he follows his companions, of the slightest insubordination on Roman, still half-asleep, and blind- the part of the convicts. ed by the snowflakes, stumbles and He raises his gun—there is a falls, causing the four men in front flash—a sharp report—a groanof him to totter likewise,
and Roman Starowolski, the hand“Get up, you Polish dog !” cries distinguished officer, the the one-eyed Cossack, hitting him affianced husband of Countess on the head with the now empty Biruta Massalowska, falls deadflask.
shot through the heart. There is a limit to every human endurance. Was it that this last As the convicts move on they insult had called to life abruptly leave behind a deep crimson patch all the latent pride of which a in the snow, too vivid to be the man's heart is capable? Was it mere reflection of yonder blood-red that the absolute resignation of a sun just detaching itself from the heroic resolve is not eternal, and horizon. must sooner or later have given But the large white flakes con
Hitherto no murmur, no tinue to fall, filling the air with word of complaint, had escaped his their silvery music, and nothing lips. Patiently, silently, apatheti- soon will distinguish this spot from cally, Roman had endured pain, any other on the face of the lonely hunger, cold, and fatigue, but he steppe.
Three women mourn for Roman of his blood; a happiness so great Starowolski, each in her own very as to be almost undeserved, she different fashion.
thinks with reverential awe; His name is often on the first deeper sacred happiness woman's lips, as with tender grati- than the careless unthinking, joytude she teaches her children to fulness of a year ago, and as widely revere the memory of one who different as her snow - white hair gave back her happiness at price from the jetty locks which will
never be hers again ; — happiness A character as dauntless as hers mixed with pain, that draws her may overthrow every obstacle, yet closer to the husband for
She might have triwhom such a heavy ransom has umphed over the Czar, but she been paid.
could not triumph over Death. The second woman says nothing, When she learned that Roman but she will never forget her was dead, and that she was thus youth's early dream ; and though deprived of her anticipated victory, she may yet live to find peace and Biruta began to paint her own contentment in after-years by the portrait in the character of Juno. side of some other man, her heart A thousand pities every one is irrevocably buried in a nameless agreed that this picture, which Siberian grave.
displayed such remarkable talent, The third woman's grief was was never completed; for scarce violent and excessive, enhanced half finished, Countess Massatoo by a sense of failure, intolerable lowska abruptly abandoned it, to her proud spirit. To learn that laying down the brush and palette her lover had broken his fetters in order to enter a Carmelite at the eleventh hour, caused her convent, where she intends to pass fully as much displeasure as sor- the rest of her life.
Even then she did not, just Will she indeed remain there at first, confess herself defeated. for ever shut off by iron bars from She would win him back yet, she
a world she was born to govern told herself, even from out of the and adorn ? ogre's very dungeon ; she would Time only can prove the stability obtain his release from Siberia, of this resolve, for we chronicle —that would be an object worth these events in 1888; and living for indeed !
General Vassiljef used to say, “the And who knows whether she divine Biruta is apt to change her might not have compassed her end ! models."
FROU DE'S LORD BEACONSFIELD.
We need hardly say that this is “He was a man, take him for all in not the life of Lord Beaconsfield all, which the world has been waiting We shall, not look upon his like for. It is a short biography of
again.” him by Mr Froude, the commence- But marvellous as was Disraeli's ment of a series which is to in- career, no public man
ever had clude the whole list of nine Prime less right to complain that he was Ministers of Queen Victoria, the subject of so much unfounded whether living or dead. There is prejudice and unreasoning anivery little in it which is new, and mosity. His genius from the first that little is of no great interest took the form of unlimited daring, or importance as affecting the life careless of, or even delighting in, of Disraeli. At the same time, we the accumulation of obstacles in his do not wish to undervalue this way, which he seems to have done sketch. It is ably and conscien. his best to increase, confident in his tiously do and its author, with power to surmount them. He was his devotion to all things Carlylese, determined to fix the public eye has evidently taken the Life of upon himself, to cut his way to the Sterling for his model. We should greatness which he felt that, once say it is the work of a man who won, he could maintain. Though has had considerable and life- he never stooped to anything mean long prejudices, derived from Car- or underhand, he could face withlyle, against the subject of his out a shudder positions which, to memoir, but who, as he warmed a more sensitive self-consciousness, to his work, has gained greater would be overwhelming from sheer insight into Disraeli's marvellous absurdity and even grotesqueness career, and into the finer points of of failure. He had never roughed his character, and has striven in it at a public school. His only a spirit of posthumous justice to
nous justice to taste of the discipline of life had do honour to his memory. It is been at a Unitarian place of edusatisfactory to see how, as the cation, where he was unpopular, clouds of contemporary detraction and asserted his position with his and vituperation roll away, his fists. He seems to have “detested career and character during his school more than he ever abhorred long parliamentary leadership vin- the world in the darkest moment dicate to the eyes of posterity the of experienced manhood.” The confidence which the sovereign, qualities of patience and self-disciParliament, and the nation event- pline, which were the source of his ually reposed in him, and the strength as a public, man, are not devotion which his colleagues uni- traceable in the fiery impatient formly paid to him.
youth who regarded the world as The key-note of Mr Froude's “mine oyster which I with sword sketch is on his title-page
London : Sampson Low
The Earl of Beaconsfield, K.G. By J. A. Froude. & Co., Limited. 1890.
Law was tried and abandoned; is thus described by those who but at twenty-one Disraeli awoke witnessed it:and found himself famous. He “There was something irresistibly was the author of “Vivian Grey,' comic in the young man, dressed in which he followed up with satires
the fantastic coxcombical costume that were always pleasant, laugh- that he then affected-velvet coat ing, and good-humoured.
thrown wide open, ruffles on the
“ In all his life,” says Mr Froude, “he Byronic fashion, an elaborate em
sleeves, shirt-collars turned down in never hated anybody or anything, broidered waistcoat from which isnever bore a grudge or remember- sued voluminous folds of frill, shoes ed a libel against himself.” Mr adorned with red rosettes, his black Gladstone himself said something hair pomatumed and elaborately equivalent to this in his speech curled, and his person redolent with proposing to him a parliamentary the fire, he explained the purpose of
back to memorial. Foreign travel to Spain, his poem. It was to be to the revand to the East as far as Jeru- olutionary age what the “Iliad, the salem and Thebes, was im- “Eneid,' and 'Paradise Lost' had portant feature of his early life. been to their respective epochs.” His correspondence from abroad He then recited his first canto, survives him, and was recently with the result that the audience published. He shows himself in was favourably disposed; but after the freedom of letters home in his the poet had left the room, a true colours - affectation, light- gentleman present declaimed an heartedness, and warm home feel impromptu burlesque of the openings --“a character genuine and ing lines. Infinite merriment reatfectionate, whose fine gifts were sulted, and Disraeli's dream of veiled in foppery, which itself was becoming a great poet was broken ; more than half assumed."
but at the same time the literary This foreign travel resulted in world allowed that in prose, at an episode which throws more all events, a new star had arisen, light on Disraeli's character in and Disraeli was welcomed everyyouth than many much better where as a celebrity. known incidents. The future lay In that character he got into all undetermined before him. Con- debt, and when election bills were scious of great powers, as well as added to social extravagance he resolute to achieve greatness of became seriously involved - partly some sort, the thought passed also from standing surety for his through his mind as he surveyed friends. Confident in his future the plain of Troy, that as the heroic and in his powers, he treated his age had produced its Homer, the embarrassments easily. So, too, Augustan era its Virgil, the Re- with regard to his appearance in formation its Milton, why should society. “In the days of the not the revolutionary epoch pro- dandies ” he was fantastic till his duce its representative poet by friends told him he was a fool. name Disraeli?
Nothing would Mr Froude says it was purposed do but the experiment must be affectation. It led the listener to tried. He wrote three cantos on look for only folly from him, and his return, and resolved to submit when a brilliant flash broke out it them to his friends. He accord- was the more startling as being so ingly recited them to his friends utterly unlooked for from such a at a party at Mrs Austen's, and figure. One sketch of his conver
never to be forgotten ” scene sational energy, the effect of which
was to be heightened by costume, The tone of Disraeli's mind on
public questions and in relation “His mouth is alive with a kind
to party politics is mainly to be disof working and impatient nervous
cerned in his novels and published ness; and when he has burst forth as books. Mr Froude has done well he does constantly with a particularly to devote a considerable portion successful cataract of expression, it of his space to them. He disassumes a curl of triumphant scorn trusted that faith in political that would be worthy of Mephistopheles. The conversation turned economy which was preached by on Beckford. I might as well attempt Radicals; he was not imbued with to gather up the foam of the sea as to
a mania for destruction, but was convey an idea of the extraordinary keenly anxious to revivify existlanguage in which he clothed his ing institutions—the Throne, the description. He talked like a race- aristocracy, and the Church-with horse approaching a winning - post, a view to the maintenance of the every muscle in action.”
national character. The race for Such was Disraeli in social life, wealth and cheap production did before he was launched on the sea not to his mind worthily absorb of politics. His literary position the energies of a great people, and was made, and he was already a pro- in its results tended to widen the minent politician when he entered chasm between classes. As a Conthe House of Commons in 1837. servative he declared that no GovAnxious as he was to be returned ernment should have his support for some constituency, he displayed which did not introduce a large no tact.
He wanted to make an measure to improve the condition end of Whig and Tory, to be re- of the poor. And when a monster turned as an independent poli- Charter petition was brought down tician, wearing the badge of no to the House of Commons in the party and the livery of no faction. name of the working people of EngHis desire for some great measure land, whose hopes had been raised which might ameliorate the condi- and disappointed by what Disraeli tion of the lower orders, and for called the mean and selfish revolularge changes in Irish administra- tion of 1832, he placed himself in tion, read like an approach to the opposition to the general disposiRadicals, but in many respects tion, which was to treat it as an Radicalism repelled him. Finding absurdity and an insult. He disthat he was making himself im- approved of the Charter, but he possible by trying to enter Parlia- sympathised with the Chartists. ment without pledges and without Scoffed out of the House of Coma party, he finally made up his mons, the Chartists took to viomind to enlist under Peel. lence, and riots ensued at Birming
Not long after his entrance into ham. Disraeli was one of a miParliament a fortunate marriage nority of five who opposed Lord rescued him from financial John Russell's appeal for an inbarrassment, and after the catas- crease of the police, and declared trophe of self-love in his maiden that it was unnecessary, and that speech he soon made solid progress other measures ought to be tried in the estimation of the House, to give the workmen a fairer share and acquired that intimate know- of the profits of their own labour. ledge of its temper and disposition The Ministers accused him of being which was the foundation of his an advocate of riot and disorder. fortune.
Certainly he was not going the