Mr. Disraeli, with whose career we are at present especially concerned, came back to office in 1874. During his second Premiership his Government introduced one measure which was undoubtedly satisfactory so far as it went - a measure to protect British seamen against the increasing dangers of unseaworthy ships. The agitation which ended in this wholesome measure was begun by the late Mr. Samuel Plimsoll, a private member of the House of Commons, a man of the most sincere and philanthropic purpose, a man of boundless energy who denounced the whole system of insuring unseaworthy vessels, and then sending them out upon the deep to perish with their crews if the chance should arise. Some of the debates which were originated by Mr. Plimsoll will long be remembered in the House of Commons. There were critics who thought Mr. Plimsoll went too far; there were critics who found fault with the superabundant energy of his denunciation; but Mr. Plimsoll carried his point so far at least as to compel the Government to take the first step in the suppression of an odious and calamitous system. The measure did not go so far as Mr. Plimsoll would have wished it to go; but it was a new departure and it set up a new and beneficent principle in legislation. Mr. Disraeli, by the purchase of the Viceroy of Egypt's shares, made the British Empire part-owner of the Suez Canal - a measure which was severely commented upon and ridiculed at the time, but which, on the whole, seems to have been amply justified by the necessity of preserving a free highway for vessels to our Indian possessions.
Moreover, Mr. Disraeli succeeded in conferring on the Queen, by Parliamentary legislation, the new title of Empress of India. This measure, too, excited a strong opposition and was the object of much sarcasm and ridicule. What, it was asked by the opponents of the measure, did the Queen want of a trumpery new title ? Was it not better for the historic dignity of the country that she should retain unchanged the title which had come down to her from Alfred and Elizabeth and William III., and Anne, and the Georges. Many sparkling speeches were delivered on both sides of the question; and many gloomy prophecies were uttered as to the effect which the assumption of the new style would have on some of the populations of India. Mr. Disraeli stood, however, by his proposition. He answered sarcasm with sarcasm, prophecy with prophecy; and the whole scheme and its discussion must have gratified intensely his love for the magnificent in politics. Perhaps, on calm reflection, we. shall now, most of us, be agreed that the measure, if it did no particular good, did at all events no particular harm. India has gone on in much the same way as ever; and it was understood that the title Empress of India was only to be used on occasions, and on coins, and on documents, which had specially to do with the affairs of India. But the Queen was not the only recipient of a new title as the result of Mr. Disraeli's second administration. It will be remembered that when Disraeli resigned his office of Prime Minister because of Mr. Gladstone's conquering majority in 1868, his wife obtained the honour of a peerage in her own right, and became Viscountess Beaconsfield. In the same year which saw the creation of the title Empress of India Mr. Disraeli himself consented to pass into the House of Lords as the Earl of Beaconsfield. His wife had held her title but a short time, and had died four years before her husband became Earl of Beaconsfield. In Disraeli's earlier days he had expressed a strong conviction that he was destined to try his eloquence in the House of Lords; and he had succeeded in fulfilling his prophecy. There was a general feeling of gratification that, as he cared to be Lord Beaconsfield, he should be Lord Beaconsfield. An earl's title and a place in the House of Lords would not have suited Peel or Gladstone some people said, but then Mr. Disraeli was not exactly Peel or Gladstone. There were certain grumbling persons who suggested that the title which was destined by George III. for Edmund Burke and declined by him, was not exactly the title which ought to have been conferred on the adventurous author of " Vivian Grey." But the public in general made no objection and were rather pleased than otherwise that Disraeli should be made a peer; and we shall have to show our readers that there was some public work of Imperial moment left to be performed by Lord Beaconsfield.