The Southern Israelite. (Augusta, Ga.) 1925-1986, March 01, 1929, Image 3
The Southern Israelite The Jewish Cabin Boy Who Became Fifty years ago or thereabouts, a ship approached the mouth of the riv er Hoogly in India. It was early dawn and at the mast-head, there might be seen a small boy, straining his eyes as he searched the horizon for the first glimpse of land. Who would have thought that the lad, a runaway from school and home in London, would return to India, forty years la ter, to be saluted by guns and bands and flags as the first Viceroy and Governor-General of that vast East ern Empire. In the whole range of the Arabian Nights, there has been no career re corded even as legend, more dramatic in its uncertainty than this. The son of a prosperous Jewish merchant, Ru fus Isaacs was recaptured by his par ents and sent to University College School in London and later to Brus sels and Hanover. Thoroughly ven turesome, he plunged into the Stock Exchange and, strange to say, there failed. Loaded with debt, he read for the Bar and at the age of twenty- seven he began his career as an ad vocate. He paid his debts in full, and in eleven years, took silk which means that he became a Queen’s Counsel. His success was astonishing. Tall and graceful in bearing and very handsome in features, he was blessed with a voice, soft and musical, an ex quisite vehicle of persuasion, no wit ness was ever bullied, no point was unfairly pressed. What Rufus Isaacs achieved was the reasonable in argu ment, and with him in court, it was always the other side which seemed to have left reason behind. But on this account he was all the more deadly, especially in commercial cases where he knew every move of the game. In one famous case, he wove the web of guilt around Whittaker, the financier, who on conviction slipped poison into his mouth and fell dead within the very precincts of the tribunal. The on ly case at law in which I have been myself involved was an action for libel. David Lloyd George was our solicitor, Rufus Isaacs was our coun sel, and the damages were one farth ing! Perhaps the best remembered re- ort by Rufus Isaacs was inflected on recalcitrant witness. '‘Do you drink, fir ?” asked Isaacs, and the man in the fitness box replied angrily, “That is iy business.” Quick as a flash came [he question, “Any other business?” after which the witness became rea- onable. Under Asquith as Prime Minister, saacs became a Law Officer of the rown, that is Solicitor-General, and fterwards Attorney-General. Ac- jording to custom he received a nighthood, and with Lloyd George, e developed the program of social iberalism. What he desired was a arliamentary career but like many reat advocates at the bar, he was not great success in the House of Com- ons, where politics require some- hing more drastic than “sweetness and light.” Isaacs, therefore, looked forward to high judicial office. The late Sir George Jessel, a distinguished Jew in Gladstone’s day, had been Mas^- ter of the Rolls. But no adherent of his faith had ever held the position Viceroy of India A Sketch of The Career of The Marquis of Reading By P. W. WILSON (None of the life stories of Euro pean and, for that matter, English statesmen is comparable, as to roman tic and dramatic changes, as that of the Marquis of Reading who rose from a cabin boy on a British vessel sailing for India, to become the Govemior of the Eastern Empire. His life and achievements is a testimony not only to his own ability but to the opportuni ties of political life in the British Em pire and to the status enjoyed there by Jews. This sketch, written as a part of a semes released through the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, is by the distinguished English writer, P. W. Wilson, whose description and esti mate is of mare than passing interest. —Editor.) of Lord Chancellor, who, it must be remembered, is not only a judge but also a trustee for large ecclesiastical patronage in the Established Church of England. Rufus Isaacs thus looked forward to the purely judicial position of Lord Chief Justice. But, in public life, there is many a slip between the cup and the lip. A brilliant prospect was suddenly over clouded by a truly amazing error of judgment. Rufus Isaacs had a broth er Godfrey, and at the time, Godfrey was managing the Marconi companies. Shares were being placed, and vhey were offered to Rufus Isaacs, and through him to Lloyd George. The shares were in the American Com pany. But it happened that the British Company had a contract with the British Government, and amid the heat of politics, all kinds of rumors were spread abroad. There was the usual Parliamentary and the culprits were acquitted of all impropriety. But they learned the lesson that, in public life, there is no offence so seri ous as a harmless indiscretion. Against Rufus Isaacs there arose a storm of prejudice. What saved him was one single circumstance. His own profession believed in him. Bench and Bar knew that no more honorable lawyer had ever pleaded in the courts, and at a special banquet, Liberals and Conservatives, judges and barristers, united in a tribute to the new Lord Chief Justice. As a vindication it was without precedent. On the bench, Lord Reading as we must now call him, displayed a nota ble dignity. But the position did not suit him. Essentially, he is a man of initiative and when the war broke out, the Lord Chief Justice was far too able an executive to be left in his crimson and ermine. He was told to lay aside his robes and assist the gov ernment in solving the financial and commercial problems which arose dur ing the crisis. He had to visit the United States and arrange for credits. In due course, the Lord Chief Justice of England was thus found at Wash ington as Ambassador, a combination of appointments, never before heard of and never likely to be seen in the future. A little incident will explain his at titude. One day a British official, somewhat overzealous in his patriot ism, brought the Ambassador an agreement in which advantage had been taken of the United States. Lord Reading quietly laid the document on his table and said he would look it -*J* <$» »♦« «$» »♦« »$. »$♦ «$» «$» *$. *$. *** *$* *♦« ♦$. <f> *♦« *}« »> »♦* •t* 4* *** *** *+* *♦* *** *** 4* 4* 4* 4* T % I SPECIAL FEATURES f The Jew In English Literature By Mrs. M. Stephen Schiffer * ❖ The Jewish Cabin Boy Who Became Viceroy of India By P. W. Wilson Organization Activities | In the Limelight .$..$..^M$..H..^..HM|MfM^M|•4‘4»4•4•4•4‘4^4•4•4•4*4*4•4•4*4•4‘4•4‘4»4*4•4‘4•4*4•4‘4•4»•*•4•4•- over. In due course, he paid a private visit to an American statesman, to whom he pointed out the full meaning of the paper. He then asked permis sion to tear it up and a different bar gain was negotiated, in which the American as well as the British inter est was equitably defined. At the Armistice, India was seeth ing with unrest. For the first time in her long history, the Asiastic sub continent had realised her unity. Hin dus and Moslems, hitherto at variance with one another, were associated in a movement of nationalism which was uncompromising in its hostility to British rule. There was more than a suggestion that the trouble had been inflamed by Russian propaganda. There were boycotts. There were fasts. There were riots. There were arrests. The turmoil was the more deplorable because a goverpment had endeavored to launch a Constitution, based upon the franchise, in which for the first time Indians would play an effective part in the management of their country. It was at this decisive moment that Lloyd George, as Prime Minister, en trusted the destinies of India to Lord Reading. The little stowaway at the mast-head thus arrived as the repre sentative of King George V and as cended the vice-regal throne at Delhi. If ever a man was subjected to a su preme test, it was Lord Reading. For five years he faced the storm. Once more, he revealed his resources of patience, and reason. One day, Gandhi would be in prison. Another day, Gandhi and the Viceroy would be talking things over. Gradually, the hurricane spent itself. The hostility which marked the visit of the Prince of Wales to India, abated. Grievances were removed, and with the resurgent rivalry between Moslem and Hindu, it began to be seen once more that, as Gandhi admitted, British rule was the only alternative to chaos. In a sen tence, Lord Reading saved that situa tion. On his return to London, it was not easy adequately to reward him. Al ready, he had been created an Earl. He was made a Marquis. Within one life, he had been a ship’s boy, a bank rupt on the stock exchange, a King’s Counsel, Attorney-General, Lord Chief Justice, Ambassador at Washington, an Earl, Vice-Roy of India and a Mar quis. By general consent, every one of his numerous honors had been fair ly earned. He has now turned his attention to business. He runs newspapers and is a rich man. His future depends on the Liberal Party which means Lloyd George. If there is to be a further reconstruction of Britain, political and economic, it is not easy to see how a Labor Government itself can leave Lord Reading among the unem ployed. No man is indispensable. But this man has no enemies, and his shrewd, sympathetic, kindly judgment, his knowledge of commerce and his instinctive appreciation of human character are assets of which England may still stand in need. Copyright 1929, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Inc.