Disraeli, Benjamin by Faye Huntington

December 21, 1805, there came into the home of a Jewish family in London a little boy baby. They gave this little boy a long name, but it is a good name, and you will at once, upon hearing it, recall one of the most interesting stories of the Old Testament. Perhaps you have already guessed the name—Benjamin. The father was Isaac Disraeli, a wealthy Jew, and the author of several valuable books. The young Benjamin grew up and began to write, publishing his first work when he was twenty-one years old. And this first book is considered a work of remarkable merit.

He soon became interested in politics and was a candidate for Parliament when he was about twenty-seven years old. But he was defeated not only the first time but again and again. But not discouraged, he continued to work towards the point which he desired to gain, and in 1837 he took his seat in the House of Commons. He continued to hold his seat in that legislative body until his death, when he was not attending to the duties of higher offices.

He was called to very high positions; indeed to the highest honors that England has to offer her subjects. He was Chancellor of the Exchequer, which is an office corresponding to the Secretary of the Treasury in the United States. He was also prime minister in the Queen's Cabinet.

He was a man of great industry, and in addition to his public labors he wrote several novels which rank high as specimens of literary excellence. However, as a statesman and an orator he will be longest remembered. And right here I want to tell the boys an incident of his career which interests me, showing his determination and persistence in overcoming his own defects.

The first speech he made after becoming a member of Parliament was a very poor one. It is said that his manner as well as his words were so pompous and pretentious and his gestures so absurdly ridiculous that the House was convulsed with laughter. In the midst of his speech he closed abruptly and took his seat, saying with the ring of resolve:

"I shall sit down now and you may laugh, but the time will come when you will listen to me!"

And that time did come! He delivered some famous speeches in the House of Commons, and as a debater he led his party.

Boys, we build oftentimes upon our failures! We need not be discouraged if we are not successful at first. Many of our great men have made wretched work of their first efforts in the line of their ambition. But rising above their despondency, setting themselves at work anew with increased energy, they have conquered. So may you! Disraeli was admitted to the peerage in 1876, and was known as Lord Beaconsfield. Afterwards, because of some great service rendered to his country while he was a member of the Congress of Berlin, the Queen made him a Knight of the Garter. This is the very highest order of knighthood in the gift of the sovereign.

Perhaps some of you boys know something about the "Reform Bill" which passed the House of Commons in 1876, and which gave to every householder the right to vote. By this law a great many thousand men, nearly all of them working men, were made voters. Disraeli was the originator, and, the most earnest advocate as well, of that bill, which, by his energy and power in debate was pushed through. Disraeli died a few years since, and perhaps no statesman or author's death has ever called forth more newspaper notices and eulogies than his.

You will find it interesting to study the life and character of this man, whom not only England and England's sovereign honored, but who received many tributes of respect from the press of our own land.