Page:Cartoon portraits and biographical sketches of men of the day.djvu/82

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The Right Hon. Benjamin Disraeli.

has been all his life a member of the Christian Church. Indeed, his father, Isaac Disraeli, was buried in the chancel of the village church, near his own seat in Buckinghamshire; so it would appear that, if he had made no formal profession of any change of religion, he died a Christian.

Mr. Disraeli, in his youth, was articled to a firm of attorneys, who carried on business in Old Jewry, in the city of London; but he did not remain to complete the term for which he was articled. His genius pointed to greater things; and until he himself contradicted the report, when Mr. Grant's 'History of the Newspaper Press' appeared, it had always been supposed that he had devoted some considerable time at this period of his life to writing for the newspapers. This, however, was a mistake. Mr. Disraeli must be allowed to know best; and it appears that his first literary effort was 'Vivian Grey.' Though the style is turgid, there are strong outbursts of imagination in the novel. 'Books,' says the author, 'written by boys, which pretend to give a picture of manners, arid to deal in knowledge of human nature, can be at the best but the results of imagination, acting upon knowledge not acquired by experience.' This sentence precisely describes the character of his first novel. Yet, read by the light of events which have come to pass since he wrote it, 'Vivian Grey' is very full of interest. The hero is so like the author, that it is not easy to separate them. 'Mankind, then,' says Vivian Grey, 'is my game. At this moment, how many a powerful noble only wants wit to be a Minister; and what wants Vivian Grey to attain the same end? That noble's influence.' And, in due time, the creator of 'Vivian' became a Minister; for in February 1852, Lord Derby made Mr. Disraeli his Chancellor of the Exchequer, an office he held a second time when Lord Derby was made Premier in 1858-9; and a third time he filled the office under his veteran friend and leader in 1866. As everybody knows, in 1868, in the month of February, Lord Derby's health compelled him to resign, and her Majesty was pleased to send for Mr. Disraeli, who thus had conferred upon him the crowning distinction of his life, the greatest post the Sovereign has it in her power to bestow.

But Mr. Disraeli did not find his way into the House he was afterwards to lead without a fight for his seat. In 1829, after the very rapid produc-