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Endymion   By: (1804-1881)

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ENDYMION

by Benjamin Disraeli, Earl Of Beaconsfield, K.G.

First Published 1880

CHAPTER I

It was a rich, warm night, at the beginning of August, when a gentleman enveloped in a cloak, for he was in evening dress, emerged from a club house at the top of St. James' Street, and descended that celebrated eminence. He had not proceeded more than half way down the street when, encountering a friend, he stopped with some abruptness.

"I have been looking for you everywhere," he said.

"What is it?"

"We can hardly talk about it here."

"Shall we go to White's?"

"I have just left it, and, between ourselves, I would rather we should be more alone. 'Tis as warm as noon. Let us cross the street and get into St. James' Place. That is always my idea of solitude."

So they crossed the street, and, at the corner of St. James' Place, met several gentlemen who had just come out of Brookes' Club house. These saluted the companions as they passed, and said, "Capital account from Chiswick Lord Howard says the chief will be in Downing Street on Monday."

"It is of Chiswick that I am going to speak to you," said the gentleman in the cloak, putting his arm in that of his companion as they walked on. "What I am about to tell you is known only to three persons, and is the most sacred of secrets. Nothing but our friendship could authorise me to impart it to you."

"I hope it is something to your advantage," said his companion.

"Nothing of that sort; it is of yourself that I am thinking. Since our political estrangement, I have never had a contented moment. From Christ Church, until that unhappy paralytic stroke, which broke up a government that had lasted fifteen years, and might have continued fifteen more, we seemed always to have been working together. That we should again unite is my dearest wish. A crisis is at hand. I want you to use it to your advantage. Know then, that what they were just saying about Chiswick is moonshine. His case is hopeless, and it has been communicated to the King."

"Hopeless!"

"Rely upon it; it came direct from the Cottage to my friend."

"I thought he had a mission?" said his companion, with emotion; "and men with missions do not disappear till they have fulfilled them."

"But why did you think so? How often have I asked you for your grounds for such a conviction! There are none. The man of the age is clearly the Duke, the saviour of Europe, in the perfection of manhood, and with an iron constitution."

"The salvation of Europe is the affair of a past generation," said his companion. "We want something else now. The salvation of England should be the subject rather of our present thoughts."

"England! why when were things more sound? Except the split among our own men, which will be now cured, there is not a cause of disquietude."

"I have much," said his friend.

"You never used to have any, Sidney. What extraordinary revelations can have been made to you during three months of office under a semi Whig Ministry?"

"Your taunt is fair, though it pains me. And I confess to you that when I resolved to follow Canning and join his new allies, I had many a twinge. I was bred in the Tory camp; the Tories put me in Parliament and gave me office; I lived with them and liked them; we dined and voted together, and together pasquinaded our opponents. And yet, after Castlereagh's death, to whom like yourself I was much attached, I had great misgivings as to the position of our party, and the future of the country. I tried to drive them from my mind, and at last took refuge in Canning, who seemed just the man appointed for an age of transition."

"But a transition to what?"

"Well, his foreign policy was Liberal."

"The same as the Duke's; the same as poor dear Castlereagh's. Nothing more unjust than the affected belief that there was any difference between them a ruse of the Whigs to foster discord in our ranks. And as for domestic affairs, no one is stouter against Parliamentary Reform, while he is for the Church and no surrender, though he may make a harmless speech now and then, as many of us do, in favour of the Catholic claims... Continue reading book >>




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