30 SEPTEMBER 1905, Page 9

ing What we call the heart is a nervous sensation,

like shyness, which gradually disappears in society. It is fervent in the nursery, strong in the domestic circle, tumultuous at school. The affections are the children of ignorance; when the horizon of our experience expands, and models multiply, love and admiration imperceptibly vanish." Read by itself, this is merely an isolated piece of cynicism of no particular merit; read in connection with Disraeli's introduction of Sidonia to his readers, it reveals a consistent view of life. "In his organisation there was a deficiency. He was a man without affections, though it would be harsh to say he bad no heart, for be was susceptible of great emotions, but not for individuals." Is it possible for a man to he capable of abstract who is incapable of individual emotion? We should say that it was quite possible for a Jew. All through Jewish literature it is difficult to discern between racial and individual feeling. This curious impersonality is the keynote of the collection before us. The philosophy to be obtained from the maxims as a whole is cheerful, though realistic ; the advice given is sound when the writer is concerned with serious matters, and cynical when he is dealing with social success. " Existence is a pleasure," we read, "and the greatest"; but "there is always something to worry you. It comes as regularly as sunrise." You may " rest assured you must go through every trial that is peculiar to men of your organisation." It is taken for granted that every man is ambitious. " Everyone loves power, even if they do not know what to do with it" Not many men, of course, become famous. " Very few people reach posterity. Posterity is a most limited assembly." A modicum of success, however, depends, we are given to understand, very largely upon a man's self, though, "as a general rule, nobody has money who ought to have it." Here are some items of counsel. " Next to knowing when to seize an opportunity the most important thing in life is to know when to forego an advantage." This is excellent advice, though even in argument not easy to take. The next is more cynical. "Always have distinguished friends. Never have fools for friends, they are of no use." Any social success, however unimportant, is enjoyable. " To be king of yoUr company is a poor ambition—yet homage is homage, and smoke is smoke—whether it comes out of the chimney of a palace, or of a workhouse." " To govern men," we read, "you must either excel them in their accomplishments or despise them." Even with one or both of these qualifications it seems, however, that a certain amount of sympathy must be experienced or feigned. "To rule men we must be men; to prove that we are strong we must be weak ; to prove that we are giants we must be dwarfs; even as the Eastern genie was hid in the charmed bottle. Our wisdom must be concealed under folly, and our constancy under caprice." A great deal, he asserts, is to be learned from women. " Talk to women as much as you can. This is the best school. This is the way to gain fluency, because you need not care what you say, and had better not be sensible." This maxim as it stands is not wholly flattering to the fair sex, and does not convey Disraeli's attitude towards womeh quite accurately. He dwells continually upon the brains of his female characters, whether he intends to charm or to repel the reader. His most perfect heroines owe as much to their wits as to their beauty. On the other hand, the lady who had " guanoed her mind with French novels" was, he admits, amusing company ; and he never allows the brains of his heroines to be overshadowed by their prejudices. The descrip- tion of the Duchess of Bellamont, who lived among the Puritan aristocracy, and "shrank with a haughty terror from the fashionable world," is a case in point. " She was a woman of fixed opinions and firm, compact prejudices. Brought up in an austere circle where on all matters irrevocable judgment had been passed, which enjoyed the advantages of knowing exactly what was true in dogma, what was just in conduct, and what correct in manner, she had early acquired the con- venient habit of decision, while her studious mind employed its considerable energies in mastering every writer who favoured those opinions which she had previously determined were the right ones."

The definition of religion which finds a place among these maxims is incontrovertible, a perfect example of one of those specious statements of fact which are not expressions of the truth. " Religion is civilisation, the highest; it is a reclamation of man from savageness by the Almighty." We are reminded of Disraeli's definition of the Church, to which the same criticism applies. " The Church is a sacred corpora- tion for the promulgation and maintenance in Europe of certain Asian principles which, although local in their birth, are of divine origin and of universal application." Disraeli's greatest admirers could hardly call him a religious man. Yet religion had a strange attraction for him. He writes of the devout emotions of his heroes and heroines with at least as much zest as he writes of their wealth and luxury. To his mind, all good things came from Judea, and all that was Jewish was good.

Turning from religion to law, we get some really fine sayings full of sagacity. " The divine right of kings may have been a plea for feeble tyrants, but the divine right of .government is the keystone of human progresp, and without it government sinks into police, and a nation is degraded into a mob." While we are thinking of "divine right" an exquisite piece of Royal flattery hidden under the guise of Monarchic philosophy is well worth quoting. " The first great duty of a monarch is to know how to bow skilfully.

Nothing is more difficult a royal bow may often quell a rebellion, and sometimes crush a conspiracy." Two more maxims we cannot forbear to quote, the one for its curious sidelight on political history, the other for its obvious Parlia- mentary wisdom. "I have observed in our history that it is the characteristic of this country that it always retraces its steps. I believe the prosperity of England may be attributed to this cause, not that it has committed less blunders than other countries, but that the people are a people more sensible of their errors." Here is the second :—" No government can be long secure without a formidable opposition. It reduces their supporters to the tractable number which can be managed by the joint influences of fruition and of hope. It offers vengeance to the discontented, and distinction to the ambitious; and employs the energies of aspiring spirits, who otherwise may prove traitors in a division, or assassins in a debate."

Too many brilliant extracts read at a sitting are like too

many pictures and at in an hour. The critic becomes inattentive and confused. We do not recommend any one to read this whole book through at once, though it is short ; but we recommend those who have enjoyed Disraeli's .novels to pick it up now and then, and let it carry them back into early Victorian society—a society which it is the fashion among moralists to say was so much better than the society of to-day, and which certainly was very much smaller—a select gathering into which Disraeli admitted the public with such a highly gilded key. Whether it was really better or not will be a matter for historians. Disraeli loved it, but be did not believe in it. Mr. Samuel Smith, M.P., to whose regret for the lost ideal of early Victorian days we alluded in our last issue, would do well to read the sixth chapter of the fifth book of " Coning,sby," wherein Disraeli summarises his view of smart society in the " forties " :—" Lucretia had passed her life in a refined but somewhat dissolute society, not, indeed, that a word that could call forth a maiden blush, conduct that could pain the purest feelings, could be heard or witnessed in those polished and luxurious circles. The most ex- quisite taste pervaded their atmosphere, and the uninitiated who found themselves in those perfumed circles and those golden saloons might believe from all that passed before them that their inhabitants were as pure, as orderly, and as irreproachable as their furniture. But among the habitual dwellers in these delicate halls there was a tacit understanding, a prevalent doctrine that required no formal exposition, no proofs, no illustration, no comment, and no gloss, and which was rather a traditional conviction than an imparted dogma, that the exoteric public were the victims of very vulgar prejudices which these enlightened personages wished neither to disturb nor to adopt." As we read his maxims there rises a vision of the Semitic statesman of genius who found in these halls his recreation, disporting himself with his magic pen in his hand, and turning it at will into a censer, a rapier, or a lash.