John Reeves

The Rothschilds: The Financial Rulers of Nation

"WHAT'S in a name?" asks Shakespeare. The answer, when the name is such as Rothschild, is not difficult. There is a volume of meaning in its mere sound. It is a name which conjures up in the imagination visions of untold wealth and unrivalled power, which appear so startling and amazing as to be more appropriate to romance than real life. It has become a household word synonymous with unbounded riches, and is as familiar to the ears of the struggling artisan as to those of the banker or trader.

No name has, indeed, been so prominently before the public during the last sixty years or more, as that of this great financial firm. Its origin was so shrouded in humble obscurity, and the rapidity with which it sprang forward to prosperity and fame was alike so extraordinary and so remarkable, that the public gaze has been kept by a species of fascination upon the movements of the well-known financiers. From one corner of the world to the other the success of the Rothschilds has been the subject of universal wonder and envy. When we recollect the poor beginnings of this eminent firm, and contrast them with the exalted position it now holds, there is good reason to be surprised.

History does not record another instance of such unparalleled success, of such immense fortunes won in such a short time by sheer force of intellect rising superior to all adverse circumstances. The firm startled the world like the flash of a meteor, but the brilliance of its first successes was soon eclipsed by its subsequent achievements. The more one considers the marvellous manner in which it won its way to fame and fortune, and how it rose within the short space of ten or fifteen years from the filthy confines of the Judengasse to take its station at the foot of a royal throne, the more incredible the story seems. But facts are stubborn things. There is no denying the fact that at the beginning of this century the Rothschild family was unknown beyond the limits of Frankfort; neither can it be gainsaid that before Napoleon's downfall the firm had rendered immense service both to the Emperor and to the Allied Princes by its advice and its financial aid.

Ere a quarter of a century had elapsed the firm which had commenced business in an unpretending shop in the Judengasse was courted and favoured by all the reigning families of Europe. From being dealers in old coins, the founder of the family and his sons rose by their skill and financial abilities to be the trusted and valued friends of the governments of every European nation. And well indeed might they be trusted, seeing that, in more than one instance, their aid was indispensable to ward off impending bankruptcy and disaster. Great, however, as is their fame as skilful financiers, the Rothschilds enjoy a reputation for liberal and unstinted benevolence which does them far greater honour...

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