Page:Cartoon portraits and biographical sketches of men of the day.djvu/86

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44
The Right Hon. Benjamin Disraeli.

In the centre of one chamber, fed by a perpetual fountain, was a large alabaster basin, the edges of which were strewn with flowers just culled. The chamber was entirely of porcelain; a golden flower on a ground of delicate green.

'I will send your people to you,' said Fakredeen, 'but in the mean time there are attendants here, who are, perhaps, more used to the duty;' and so saying, he clapped his hands, and several servants appeared bearing baskets of curious linen, whiter than the snow of Lebanon, and a variety of robes.'

And this passage is equalled by hundreds of others profusely strewn through all his works.

You feel, all the while you are reading his books, that the author is laughing at you. There is an air of insincerity about them all; there is not a passage in one of the romances that ever moved the passions of a boarding-school miss. They are very unreal, and very clever; but with all the splendour and wealth of his Eastern imagination, Mr. Disraeli has a fine sense of genuine English humour. What is finer in this way than the talk of the two servants, Mr. Freeman and Mr. Trueman, that Tancred takes with him to Palestine? They are so inimitably true as portraits of the English upper servant.

When Tancred's life is in danger in an Arab encampment where he is wounded and a prisoner, they come in a great state to explain that they don't know how his boots are to be blacked, for in the night these savages have drunk up all the blacking. On another occasion they go to stay at a 'superb Saracenic castle.'

It strikes Freeman and Trueman thus:

'This is the first gentleman's seat I've seen since we left England,' said Freeman.

'There must have been a fine coming of age here,' rejoined Trueman.

'As for that,' replied Freeman, 'comings of age depend in a manner upon meat and drink. They ain't in noways to be carried out with coffee and pipes. Without oxen roasted whole, and broached hogsheads, they ain't in a manner legal.'

The servants' Paradise is meat and drink in England or in Palestine, and Tancred's gentlemen were sorely tried with the coffee and pipes.

They are at a great feast at the castle, when the following conversation occurs:

'And the most curious thing,' said Freeman to Trueman, as they established themselves under a pine-tree, with an ample portion of roast meat, and armed with their travelling knives and forks—'and the most curious thing is, that they say these people are Christians! "Who ever heard of Christians wearing turbans?'