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Benjamin Disraeli
by [?]

They may jeer him down in the House of Commons, but his patience is unruffled. He says, “Very well, I will wait.” Now and again he smiles that wondrous, contagious smile, showing his white teeth and the depth of his dark, burning eyes.

He knows his power. He revels in the wit he never expresses; he glories in this bright blade of the intellect that is never fully unsheathed.

They think he is interested in English politics–pish! Only world problems really interest him, and those that lie behind mean as much to him as those that are to come. He is one with eternity, and the vanquished glory of Rome, the marble beauty of Athens, the Assyrian Sphinx, the flight from Egypt under the leadership of one who had killed his man–yet had talked with God face to face–these and the dim uncertainty of the unseen, are the things that interest him. He is a dreamer of the Ghetto.

* * * * *

There was no taint of mixed blood in the veins of Benjamin Disraeli. He traced his ancestry in a record that looks like a chapter from the Book of Numbers. His forebears had known every persecution, every contumely, slight and disgrace. Driven from Spain by the Inquisition, barely escaping with life, when Jewish blood actually fertilized the fields about Granada, his direct ancestor became one of the builders of Venice. The Jews practically controlled the trade of the world in the sun-kissed days of prosperity, when Venice produced the books and the art of Christendom.

To trace an ancestry back to those who enthroned Venice on her hundred isles was surely something of which to be proud; and into the blood of Benjamin Disraeli went a dash of the gleam and glory and glamour of Venice–the Venice of the Doges.

This man’s grandfather came to England with a goodly fortune, which he managed to increase as the years went by. He had one son, Isaac, who nearly broke his parents’ heart in that he not only showed no aptitude for business, but actually wrote poems wherein commerce was held up to ridicule. The tendency of the artistic nature to speak with disdain of the “mere money-grabber,” and the habit of the “money-grabber” to refer patronizingly to the helpless, theoretical and dreamy artist, is well known. Isaac Disraeli was an artist in feeling; he must have been a reincarnation of one of those bookmakers of Venice who touched hands with Titian and Giorgione and helped to invest wisely the moneys the merchants of the Rialto made. Never a Gratiano had a greater contempt for a merchant than he. Just to get him out of the way, his parents packed Isaac off to Europe, where he acquired several languages, and some other things, with that ease which the Jew always manifests. He dallied in art, pecked at books, and made the acquaintance of many literary men.

When his father died and left him a goodly fortune, he had the sense to turn the entire management of the estate over to his wife, a woman with a thorough business instinct, while he busied himself with his books.

Benjamin was the second child of these parents. He had a sister older than himself, and two brothers younger. Those philosophers who claim that spirits have their own individuality in the unseen world, and the accident of birth really does not constitute a kinship between brothers and sisters, will find here something that looks like proof. Benjamin Disraeli bore no resemblance in mental characteristics to his sister or brothers; he did, however, possess the mental virtues of both father and mother, multiplied by ten.

When twelve years of age he exhibited that intense disposition for mastery which was through life his distinguishing trait. The Jew does not outrank the Gentile in strength, but the average Jew surely does have the faculty of concentration which the average Gentile does not possess. And that is what constitutes strength–the ability to focus the mind on one thing and compass it: to concentrate is power.