Page:Cartoon portraits and biographical sketches of men of the day.djvu/87

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
The Right Hon. Benjamin Disraeli.

'Or eating without knives and forks?" added Trueman.

'It would astonish their weak minds in the steward's room at Bellamont, if they could see all this, John,' said Mr. Freeman pensively. 'A man who travels has very great advantages.'

'And very great hardships too,' said Trueman. 'I don't care for work, but I do like to have my meals regular.'

'This is not bad picking, though,' said Mr. Freeman; 'they call it gazelle, which I suppose is the foreign for venison.'

'If you called this venison at Bellamont,' said Trueman, 'they would look very queer in the steward's room.'

'Bellamont is Bellamont, and this place is this place, John,' said Mr. Freeman. 'The Hameer is a noble gentleman, every inch of him, and I am very glad my lord has got a companion of his own kidney. It is much better than monks and hermits, and low people of that sort, who are not by no means fit company for somebody I could mention, and might turn him into a Papist into the bargain.'

'That would be a bad business,' said Trueman; 'my lady could never abide that. It would be better that he should turn Turk.'

'I am not sure it wouldn't,' said Mr. Freeman. 'It would be in a manner more constitutional. The Sultan of Turkey may send an Ambassador to our Queen, but the Pope of Rome may not.'

'I should not like to turn Turk,' said Trueman, very thoughtfully.

'I know what you are thinking of, John,' said Mr. Freeman, in a serious tone. 'You are thinking if anything were to happen to either of us in this heathen land, where we should get Christian burial.'

'Lord love you, Mr. Freeman, no I wasn't. I was thinking of a glass of ale.'

'Ah!' sighed Freeman, 'it softens the heart to think of such things away from home, as we are. Do you know, John, there are times when I feel very queer—there are indeed. I catched myself a singing "Sweet Home" one night, among those savages in the wilderness. One wants consolation, John, sometimes one does, indeed; and, for my part, I do miss the family prayers and the home-brewed.'

No author has ever done better in portraying the characteristic feeling of the servants' hall; and at the other social extreme, Mr. Disraeli has had more practice than any other novelist. He has put more dukes, duchesses, lords, and ladies, more gold and jewels, more splendour and wealth into his books than anybody else has attempted to do. They are full of them. They are full, too, of his peculiar opinions about the race from which he has sprung. 'Race,' he tells us, 'is the only truth.' 'The Jews are the aristocracy of nature—the purest race, the chosen people.'

Whatever fate his fame as a statesman and a novelist may meet with at the hands of the future, there is, then, one thing at least he can never lose—his connection with the aristocracy of nature.