Written with permission
By Katharine Trauger
Imagine yourself as Maria, wife of a famous Jew, whose family has made—and had to leave behind—fortunes, many times, forced to leaveIsraelduring the Roman destruction, andSpainduring the Inquisition. Arriving inEnglandviaVenice, and again wealthy, your husband is a famous writer, admired by Lord Byron and Sir Walter Scott, before you marry him. Now facing anti-Semitism inEngland, it seems you can find acceptance nowhere, and your son begins to need an education.
Your husband fears the better English schools, although your family can afford them, because of the attitudes of the elite. Therefore, he tentatively places your son in one of the lesser schools. You mourn for your son as he faces daily, rude reminders of his differences—his darker hair and skin, his slight stature, and his unbelieving stance toward Jesus Christ. To compensate, he learns boxing and regularly demolishes his classmates.
And is miserable.
Your husband faces great personal turmoil. He has read about Christian freedom from religious rules and tyranny and can see bondage in the ways of his ancestors. He decides to reject the Jewish faith and accept Christianity, making your son a Christian, too.
This has little effect on your son’s circumstances, though, as he again faces rejection, not only from his peers, but also from the schoolmaster. Your son hates school, with good reason, and asks permission to take charge of his own education, at age 15. Your husband allows it, and your son attacks the task with relish.
Partially because of his painful start, your son boasts and dreams of being great, some day. You watch him bloom as he begins studying politics and knows this is the path for him. Your husband has only one requirement: “Please study law first,” which your son does, while continuing his home studies, too. When his love of learning nearly ruins his health, your husband takes your son on an educational trip abroad. During his travels, your son decides he will not to be a lawyer, subject to “ever explaining the evident.”
After a failed attempt at land speculation, and at the suggestion of friends, your son anonymously writes a semi-autobiographical book. Its instant, overwhelming success crashes when the critics learn who wrote it. Then they ridicule it as the work of someone ill-bred, written only for lucre.
You watch in pain mixed with pride as he bravely gathers himself and adopts his lifelong motto: Courage.
Your son travels again, toVenice,Spain, andJerusalem. Overawed at walking where his ancestors walked, and where Jesus walked, he regains courage. On return, he finds hisEnglandat unrest, the poor suffering more, daily. The time for his greatness has arrived. You watch as he plunges in, again, to be soundly defeated, again. He writes another book and this time the praises come, from Goethe and Heine. Despite popularity, the book is a financial disaster, so your son writes another, establishing himself as the “Lion of London” whom everyone wants to meet.
Attracting new friends, he runs for Parliament repeatedly, always losing, but never losing courage. He turns to pamphleteering and you and your husband begin to relax as finally, the public begins to notice and to quote your son. Politicking brings fresh accusations against his heritage, and you and your husband cringe. The Duke ofWellington, however, exclaims, “When will he come to Parliament!”
He does exactly that, and you quietly rejoice as your son’s public life begins simultaneously with the coronation of young QueenVictoria. Although his maiden speech to Parliament is marred with the old, ugly hatred, he still predicts his future greatness.
Married, now, to a woman of extreme political shrewdness who adores him, he jeopardizes his career, working long hours attacking the many wrongs of society inEngland. Tangled in feudal law, every social structure needs reformation, from farming and coal mining to industry and labor.Englandsorely needs education and voter reform. Depression is looming and the Potato Famine approaching. As your son gathers support from the wealthy, he receives many invitations. Friend and foe alike eagerly attend his three-hour, memorized speeches with gasps and cheers. His main theme: a just State owes protection to its people.
For rest, he tours his own England, is appalled at what he sees, and begins nearly taking turns with Dickens, writing novels about the reality of poverty. You realize with pride his popularity now extends to theUnited States.
The plight ofEnglandis in rapid decline. Your son fights for right laws, and faces defeats and victories with courage. You live to see this and are content. You are not present to share what comes after, though.
The young politician risks all, for justice. The Queen and her husband do not like him, calling him “the Jew”, but he is completely devoted and loyal to his Queen. As she warms to him, the accusations from jealous colleagues return—he is a Jew; he is only self-taught. Graciously accepting each defeat with courage, he moves on, leadingEnglandthrough troubles withRussia, theUnited States,India,Greece, andItaly. He encloses theLondonsewage system. Between sessions, he and his wife often visit with friends such as Napoleon, Eugenie, orVictoria.
Men begin rioting for reform and your son takes up the cause and wins. He wins the loud cheers of the people, honorary doctorates, and finally, appointment as Prime Minister.
The old anti-Semitism forces him from this position after a few months. Still, your son fights on. Eventually he savesEnglandfrom an imbalance of power inEuropeand war withRussia. In essence, he is the driving force of the Victorian Age and of the protection of the rights of man.
Who is your famous son?
Answer: Benjamin “Dizzy” Disraeli, direct descendant of the Spanish House of Xaprut and the Portuguese House of Marrano of Villareal, First Earl of Beaconsfield, British Prime Minister, statesman, author of Tancred and Endymion, spokesman for the underprivileged, and home scholar.
Another question for your thinker: How many other famous home scholars can you find mentioned in this post?
Answer: Four—Dickens, Goethe, Scott, and Queen Victoria.