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Benjamin Disraeli
by [?]

* * * * *

Disraeli, like Byron, awoke one morning and found himself famous. And like Byron, he was yet a stripling. Pitt was Prime Minister at twenty-five. Genius has its example, and Disraeli worshiped alternately at the shrines of Byron and Pitt. The daring intellect and haughty indifference of Byron, and the compelling power of Pitt–he saw no reason why he should not unite these qualities within himself. He had been grubbing in a lawyer’s office, and had revealed decided ability in a business way, but novel-writing in office-hours was not appreciated by his employer–Ben was told so, and this gave him an opportunity to resign. He had set his heart on a political career–he thirsted for power–and no doubt Mrs. Austen encouraged him in this. To push a man to the front, and thus win a vicarious triumph, has been a source of great joy to more than one ambitious woman. To get on in politics, Disraeli must enter the House of Commons. Even now, with the help of the Austens, and his father’s purse, a pocket borough might be secured, but it was not enough–he must enter with eclat.

A year of travel was advised–fame grows best where the man is not too much in evidence; there is virtue in obscurity. Disraeli decided to go down through Europe, traveling over the same route that Byron had taken, write another book that would secure him some more necessary notoriety, and then stand for a seat in the House of Commons. Once within the sacred pale, he believed his knowledge of business, his ability to express himself as a writer or speaker, and the magic of his presence would make the rest easy.

There was no dumb luck in the matter–neither father nor son believed in chance; they fixed their faith on cause and effect.

And so Ben went abroad before London society grew aweary of him.

His stay was purposely prolonged; and news of his progress from time to time filled the public prints. He carried letters of introduction to every one and moved in a sort of sublime pageant as he traveled.

When he returned, wearing the costume of the East, he was greeted by society as a prince. His novel, “Contarini Fleming,” was published with great acclaim, and interest in “Vivian Gray” was revived by a special edition deluxe. “Contarini” was compared to “Childe Harold,” and pictures of Disraeli, with hair curling to his shoulders, were displayed in shop-windows by the side of pictures of Byron.

Disraeli was the lion of the drawing-rooms. When it was known he was to be in a certain place crowds gathered to get a glimpse of his handsome face, and to listen to his wit.

He introduced several of his Eastern accomplishments, one of which was the hookah. “Beware of tobacco, my boy,” said an old colonel to him one day; “women do not like it; it has ruined more charming liaisons than anything else I know!”

“Then you must consider smoking a highly moral accomplishment,” was the reply. The colonel had wrongly guessed the object of Disraeli’s ambition.

He became acquainted with Tom Moore, Count d’Orsay, and Lady Morgan; Lady Blessington welcomed him at Kensington; Bulwer-Lytton introduced him to Mrs. Wyndham Lewis–wife of the member from Maidstone–aged forty; and he was, say, twenty-five. They tried conclusions in repartee, sparred for points, and amused the company by hot arguments and wordy pyrotechnics. When they found themselves alone in the conservatory, after a little stroll, they shook hands, and the gentleman said, “What fools these mortals be!” “True,” replied the lady; “true, and you and I are mortals.” And so Disraeli found another woman who correctly gauged him. They liked each other first-rate. At last a vacant borough was found and arrangements made for the young man to stand as a candidate for the House of Commons. The campaign was entered upon with great vigor. Disraeli quite outdid himself in speech-making and waistcoats. The election took place–and he was defeated.