THE Rothschilds, who have held in their hands for more than a century the threads of the financial life of the Old World, were described b Heine many decades ago as the first bankers in Europe. Even to-day there is not one of the more recent financial dynasties that can boast a wealth equal to that of the famous Jewish financiers. The mere mention of their name suggests the power of millions, and, to those who are ever ready to pay homage to wealth, these descendants of a petty hawker of the Frankfort ghetto seem to be the very personification of earthly riches.
This fabulous success of the Rothschilds seems the more remarkable when we learn that the immediate founder of this powerful dynasty, the aged Maier Amschel, was, little over a hundred years ago, a small trader in the Jewish quarter of Frankfort, and cannot have had even a dream of the millions which his family afterwards amassed. He began his career as a modest shopkeeper; his sons became millionaires, his grandsons multi‐ millionaires. Three generations sufficed to convert this obscure ghetto-family into the greatest financial power in the world. That fact is enough of itself to invest the origin of the Rothschild firm with the significance of an historical event, nor is the interest lessened when we realise the profound influence it has had on the fate of Europe and the whole political and social life of the west.
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