20 JANUARY 1961, Page 15


SIR,—It is many years since I disproved the myth that serves as the pivot of Mr. Bryden's article on Disraeli's background. From the time of Oliver Cromwell, native-born Jews were considered and treated as English subjects, though liable, like Catholics and Nonconformists, to certain religious disabilities. The 'Jew Bill' of 1753 to which he refers thus affected only the foreign-born, whose naturalisa- tion it facilitated and encouraged. Social integration was not difficult, and Isaac Disraeli, for example, called on Samuel Johnson, hobnobbed with Samuel Rogers, and published immensely popular books, long before he seceded from the Synagogue. His son, the later Earl of Beaconsfield, finding that not- withstanding his baptism he could not escape from Jewishness, used it with brilliant success as a stepping- stone. But even in this he managed to deceive him- self as well as his contemporaries: be was not in fact by origin an 'aristocratic' Sephardi, as he persuaded himself that he was, but Levantino-Italian, of miscellaneous and certainly plebeian composition.— Yours faithfully,