A reader of the Curiosities quickly becomes accustomed to D'Israeli's impressive eye for flummery, which makes the occasional instance of seemingly unwarranted credulity stand out. The most striking one I've encountered thus far is this bit of wild traveler's lore about hospitality rituals in Kamchatka, from "Singularities Observed by Various Nations in Their Repasts":
No customs seem more ridiculous than those practised by a Kamschatkan, when he wishes to make another his friend. He first invites him to eat. The host and his guest strip themselves in a cabin which is heated to an uncommon degree. While the guest devours the food with which they serve him, the other continually stirs the fire. The stranger must bear the excess of the heat as well as of the repast. He vomits ten times before he will yield; but, at length obliged to acknowledge himself overcome, he begins to compound matters. he purchases a moment's respite by a present of clothes or dogs; for his host threatens to heat the cabin, and oblige him to eat till he dies. The stranger has the right of retaliation allowed to him: he treats in the same manner, and exacts the same presents. Should his host not accept the invitation of him whom he had so handsomely regaled, in that case the guest would take possession of his cabin, till he had the presents returned to him which the other had in so singular a manner obtained.Now, I suppose this could be an accurate depiction of Kamchatkan custom, but it sure sounds more like travelers' nonsense--unless, that is, one replaces "Kamschatkan," "cabin," and "eat" with "frat boy," "party," and "drink."
D'Israeli's unusual credulity about the Kamchatkans does give him an opportunity to display his surprising--for a late-eighteenth-century man--tolerance and openness to other cultures (a characteristic perhaps rooted in his own consciousness of being a Jew in a Christian kingdom). Immediately after parading the strangeness of this ritual before us, he makes a serious attempt to explain how it might have developed and what useful tests of true friendship it might entail, then closes with this thought:
The most singular customs would appear simple, if it were possible for the philosopher to understand them on the spot.After which, he proceeds to describe some "barbarous" customs of the French court. Even D'Israeli has to draw the line somewhere!