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HUMILIATION. © 


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“THE MEDLEVAL 


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faa ete APN WES PTA at a oe Unt 


CHAPTER IX. 


HOW THE RABBIS WROUGHT THE TALMUD. 


THE year 70 of our era brought the dreadful 
tragedy of the destruction of Jerusalem. In the 
next generation the champion Bar Cocheba, whom 
many Jews believed to be the Messiah, headed a 
revolt which was soon put down by the Emperor 
Hadrian. The taking of his stronghold, Bethar, was 
the coup de grace ; Palestine was utterly devastated ; 
even the olive-trees had disappeared ; the land was 
full of graves, the markets with slaves; the towns 
were given over to wolves and hyenas. Even the 
name of Jerusalem was lost; a pagan city, Aelia 
Capitolina, rose upon its site; a temple of Jupiter 
stood upon Mt. Zion, about which was gathered a 
population of Roman veterans, of Greeks, Phoeni- 
cians, and Syrians. So long as the Roman empire 
endured, no Jew could enter the city under pain of 
death. 

Long before these events, the Jews, as we have 
seen, had begun to wander. The ten tribes that had 
disappeared in the Assyrian days were still to a large 
extent present in their descendants in Mesopotamia, 
or were scattered abroad in unknown regions. The 
prosperity of the great colony at Alexandria had 


134 THE STORY OF THE FEWS. 


given evidence of the constant favor of the Ptole- 
mies. At Rome the Jewish face had become well 
known, and they had penetrated with the legions into 
Spain and Gaul. “ How unjust,” said often the suf- 
fering Jew of the Middle Ages, “to persecute us 
because Christ was crucified, when our fathers had 
left Jerusalem long before his time !”—a plea often 
well founded. 

The religious faith they gave to others they re- 
jected themselves. Christianity became from its 
very origin the possession of the Gentiles, the Jew- 
ish following being always insignificant. These un- 
believers, where have they not gone upon the face 
of the earth? It is said they are to be found in 
China and the depths of India, upon the steppes of 
Tartary, in inner Africa, in every market and capital 
of Europe and America. Alike among Christians, 
Moslems, and Heathen they have been outcasts 
and subjects of persecution, exposed to suffering not 
due entirely to the bigotry of the races among which 
they have been cast, but largely owing to their own 
exclusiveness and proud assertion of superiority. In 
entering upon an account of events in which the 
Christian world appears in a light so discreditable, it 
is only fair to state distinctly, that in the position 
which the Hebrews have constantly occupied toward 
the races among which they have sojourned, there 
has been much to exasperate men just rising out of 
barbarism—much indeed which those well-civilized 
have hardly been able to bear with equanimity. 
The Christian has bitterly persecuted; but when 
has the Jew been conciliatory? or, except in the 


watysaual ‘AUNO! 


SVN NVYWOU 


136 THE STORY OF THE EWS. 


case of the nobler spirits of his race, whom he has 
usually made haste to cast forth, when has he shown 
the wide-extending sympathy which recognizes cor- 
dially the brotherhood of the human race, and looks 
toward the tearing down of walls of separation be- 
tween man and man? In this story of humiliation, 
therefore, the victim is not to be held quite blame- 
less. Let no Christian, however, presume to claim 
that the guilt is not mainly with his houshold of 
faith. 

The Jews, originally, had no special turn for trad- 
ing.* In the earlier day their life we have seen to 
be that of herdsmen, tillers of the soil, and handi- 
craftsmen of the simplest sort. Their traffic was in- 
significant even after their return from the exile, until 
the Macedonian days, when mercantile intercourse 
with other nations became among them a more fre- 
quent pursuit. Even then commerce was far from 
absorbing them. But in the countless lands: into 
which they were at length carried by the dispersion, 
they were often forced to follow quite other paths 
than the old. The’ prejudice of the races among 
which they came frequently forbade to them the 
ownership of land and the following of the handicrafts. 
Commerce became to them the easiest, most natural 
resource; as they practised it, their dexterity in- 
creased. The success they reached aroused a dispo- 
sition which their ancestors did not possess. The 
awakened trading-spirit favored the dispersion; the 
dispersion, on the other hand, stimulated the trading- 


® Herzfeld: “ Handelsgeschichte der Juden des Alterthums,” 271, 
ete, . ‘ 


HOW THE RABBIS WROUGHT THE TALMUD. 137 


spirit, until, through the interaction, the Jews were 
everywhere scattered and everywhere merchants. 

That the Jews have been in the latter ages pre- 
vailingly traders, has been made a reproach to them, 
but for the reasonable of our day it needs no excuse. 
Honest trading is recognized as by no means worse 
than any other legitimate and necessary occupation. 
It may be claimed perhaps, that it has contributed 
more than any other to the elevation and comfort of 
man. During the breaking down of the Roman em- 
pire, the Jewish merchants were the connecting links 
between Asia and Europe. At the beginning of the 
Middle Ages they were an economical necessity. 
Forced into this channel by the fate which had over- 
taken them, confined to it more and more closely as 
fanaticism, growing more and more suspicious, shut 
before them the doors of other callings, they deserved 
not contempt but gratitude, as they helped the com- 
fort, the prosperity, the civilization of so many peo- 
ples. As to the honesty with which they have traf- 
ficked, Israelite historians successfully show that they 
were honorably distinguished in antiquity. Not Phe- 
nician or Babylonian, not Greek or Roman, equalled 
them. They were not Jews who made the same divin- 
ity stand at once as the god of thieves and of mer- 
chants. In later days also, in spite of the slanders of 
the learned and the unlearned, the impartial investiga- 
tor will find the Jews in their business relations rather 
above than below the level of common morality, 
their faith in this as in every other department re- 
quiring of them an ideal purity.* 

* Herzfeld. 


138 THE STORY OF THE EWS. 


After its wonderful seizure of the Aryan soul, 
Judaism encountered presently a form of faith more 
nearly related to itself than Greek, Roman, and 
Teuton ideas. It might be expected that from 
Mahometans, the Jew would receive somewhat 
better treatment than from races unallied. The 
Arabs, a stock which like the Israelites looked to 
Abraham asa progenitor, gave to Islam its prophet. 
In reality it is only at times, that the outcast people 
has received kindness at their hands, fiery Mussul- 
man intolerance bringing more often to pass a perse- 
cution scarcely less bitter than that from Christian 
hands. Throughout Arabia, Mesopotamia, and 
Babylonia, however, the Hebrews spread, in the 
cities establishing thriving colonies, and maintaining 
at various points schools where a learning profound, 
though fantastic, was taught by the Rabbis to 
crowds of pupils. They followed with their con- 
geners in the path of the advancing crescent 
through Northern Africa, and helped essentially in 
the conquest by means of which the old Visigothic 
power of Spain was displaced. The bloom of Moor- 
ish civilization followed; Averroes and Avicenna, 
with torches kindled upon Greek altars, lighting in 
the west the fire of philosophy. An art came to 
flourish which could create the Alhambra; a poetry 
was developed that softened and ennobled manners; 
many a truth of physical science was antisipated—-a 
night, meantime, almost unbroken enveloping every 
part of Christendom. It was, on the whole,a happy 
time for the Jews. Given free course under the 
tolerant sway of the Caliphs, their striving was an 


a ctw pes Se ae 4 


an 


HOW THE RABBIS WROUGHT THE TALMUD. 139 


important factor in producing the beautiful result. 
When at length to the rest of Europe came the 
Renaissance, the Jews, going and coming in their 
intercourse with their brethren everywhere, now in 
the land where the arts were thriving, and now in 
regions where all was waiting, were among the chief 
mediators who bore the fructifying pollen from the 
sunny, blossoming. spots to the more shadowed ~ 
regions which awaited impregnation. 

Among the Saracens in their time of power the 
lines of Israel did not fall ill, nor was its position one 
of difficulty when the modern world first began to 
emerge. Under Charlemagne, Jews were tolerated— 
indeed, befriended and honored. In the famous 
embassy to Haroun al Raschid, the honored figure is 
that of the Jew Isaac; and, in other positions than 
diplomatic, Hebrews were friends and helpers of the 
great path-breaker. Under the immediate succes- 
sors of Charlemagne, still greater good fortune was 
enjoyed; but we cannot pass even the threshold of 
the Middle Ages without: encountering a Hebrew 
persecution which is perhaps the most dreadful page 
of history. 

Not a single Christian people has kept itself clear 
from the reproach of inhumanity to the Jews. 
To afflict them has been held to be a merit. The 
times when religion has been most rife and the con- 
science most sensitive have witnessed the sharpest 
scourgings and the most lurid holocausts. When 
the nations were aroused to redeem the Holy Sepul- 
chre from dishonor, when the cathedrals were rising, 
gushes of devotion from the popular heart, fixed in 


140 THE STORY OF THE FEWS. 


stone to stand for centuries, it was precisely then that 
the faggots were heaped highest and the sword was 
most merciless. The Jews and the Saracens were 
allied stocks, between whom a secret understanding 
may sometimes have existed. “If we are to fight in- 
fidels,” said fanaticism, ‘‘ why not fight them at home 
as well as in Syria?” Men and women chivalrous 
and saintly have denounced and wrung the Jew 
almost in proportion to their chivalry and sanctity, 
and this has endured almost to the present hour,— 
Richard Coeur-de-Lion, St. Louis of France, Ferdi- 
nand and Isabella, Luther, Savonarola, Maria 
Theresa,—yet how great is the debt of civilization to 
these men so cruelly hounded! They had become a 
trading race, indeed, but not entirely so. They had 
a large share in the restoration of learning and the 
cultivation of science in the time of the Renaissance. 
Through them many Greek writers were translated 
into Arabic, thence to be rendered into the tongues 
of Europe and made accessible to the young univer- 
sities of the West. Through them medicine was 
revived, to become the parent of physical science in 
general. They were universal translators, publishers, 
and literary correspondents. Their schools at Mont- 
pellier in France, Salerno in Italy, and Seville in Spain, 
abounded in erudite men and scientific experiment- 
ers. While superstition reigned elsewhere, they 
were often comparatively free from it. The-deserts 
of the Hebrews in these respects must never be for- 
gotten, though perhaps here they accomplished less 
than as merchants, almost the only representatives 
of commerce as they were, “the fair, white-winged 


HOW THE RABBIS WROUGHT THE TALMUD. \i41 


peacemaker” flying across field and flood among the 
distant cities of men, binding them into a noble 
brotherhood. 


We are to follow the footsteps of the broken 
nation into the lands of their exile, so utterly cold for 
them—footsteps of blood in a wintry landscape. 
But before taking up the story, something must be 
said about the standards which the Hebrews held in 
Honor, now that their independence as a nation was 
destroyed,—standards venerated without abatement 
down to the present hour; a veneration almost uni- 
versal, and a principal cause why the Jews, though so 
sundered and smitten, have maintained a solidarity. 

First, the Jew held in honor the Scriptures, con- 
taining the Law of Moses, the sacred Torah, the 
Prophets, and the Hagiographa, or sacred writings. 
The Canon, as we have seen, had been formed in the 
age of Ezra: the centuries which had followed had 
deepened respect for it; and as the Gentile world 
gradually became Christian, that, too, received the 
canon of Ezra, under the name of the Old Testament, 
with faith as undoubting as that of the Hebrews 
themselves. 

But the reader will remember that when the 
written Law was brought from Sinai, a body of pre. 
cepts was, it was believed, at the same time imparted, 
which was for many ages handed down orally. This 
was called the Mischna, and not until the time of the 
teacher Hillel, a generation or two before Christ, was 
any beginning made of reducing these traditions to 
writing. In the sad days which resulted in the 


142 THE STORY OF THE FEWS. 


destruction of Jerusalem, no one was found to carry 
out the work of Hillel, but a time came when it 
was brought to fulfilment, and the result was the 
Talmud. 

The latest Jewish authority * declares the composi- 
tion of the Talmud to be the most important fact of 
Hebrew history during the four centuries that follow 
the fall of Jerusalem. In order to strengthen the 
written Law and supplement it where it was silent, 
recourse was had to those oral traditions which all 
Israel believed had come down from Moses himself. 
During the period mentioned the Jewish doctors 
made these the subject of ardent and minute study,— 
a labor believed to be necessary, since the destruc- 
tion of the Temple and ever-increasing dispersion of 
the nation no longer allowed tradition to perpetuate 
itself as formerly. As-this second code became de- 
veloped, it was much more detailed than the Torah, 
embracing in its prescriptions the whole civil and 
religious life of the Jews, and ensuring unity of faith 
by the uniformity which it brought about in cere. 
monial practices. 

The Rabbis, however, were not satisfied with the 
drawing up of the “Mischna.” An attempt was 
further made to develop and reconcile, to render an 
account of whatever was mysterious; in fine, to apply 
to real or fictitious cases which the ancient doctors 
had not foreseen, the principles which they had 
stated only generally. This labor, pursued with dili- 
gence in the schools both of Palestine and Babylonia, 


* Reinach : ‘‘ Histoire des Isradlites depuis leur Dispersion jusqu’ 4 
nos Jours,” Paris, 1885. 


HOW THE RABBIS WROUGHT THE TALMUD. 143 


resulted in the “ Gemara,” which was given to the 
world at last in two immense compends, the Tal- 
muds of Jerusalem and Babylon, the latter and most 
important of which, even in the partial form which 
has survived to us, comprises twelve large volumes. 
To all but the most patient students, the work would 
seem to be a hopeless chaos. The subtle Rabbis took 
a lively pleasure in puzzling over insoluble difficul- 
ties, discussing to an infinite extent the opinions of 
their predecessors, discovering difficulties, sometimes 
imaginary, and trying to harmonize things quite irre- 
concilable. The contents are most varied,—satirical 
allegories, popular proverbs, fantastic imaginary 
stories, historical recitals strangely distorted, scien- 
tific discussions, medical prescriptions in which 
Chaldaic superstitions play a large part,—an irregu- 
lar familiar talk, often, without rule or plan. 

The authority whom I follow maintains that 
whereas to the Talmud in some ages has been 
assigned an importance quite exaggerated, it is at 
present by many critics quite improperly decried and 
depreciated.* The character of the men to whom 
the Talmud addressed itself is forgotten. At the 
time when the dispersion of Israel was beginning, it 
was necessary to raise about Judaism, at every price, 
a double and triple moral barrier, an exterior wall, to 
protect it against dissolving influences from outside. 
The Talmud was such a wall. It was long the prin- 
cipal, if not the sole, intellectual food of the scattered 
Hebrews. Its destinies have been those of the 


* For an example of such criticism see Depping: ‘‘ Die Juden im 
Mittelalter,” 14, 15. 


144 THE STORY OF THE EWS. 


Jewish race, and whenever it has been burned, the 

‘burning of the Jews themselves has been not far off. 
If some minds have become stultified in its debates, 
minute and often inane, others have gained by their 
study a subtle and penetrative power. Many a rabbi, 
trained by the study of the Talmud, has developed 
and made fruitful other sciences. The philosophy of 
many a beneficent Jewish thinker had here its root. 
The first translators of Aristotle and Averroes 
passed their youth in the rabbinical schools. If the 
Jews escaped in a measure the eclipse of the Dark 
Ages, so total over the Christian world, they owe it 
to the Talmud. 

A Gentile has great difficulty in obtaining any 
coherent idea of this strange old work. The Rabbis 
seem to prescribe and condemn tolerance, to approve 
and forbid usury, to recommend and despise agricul- 
ture, to honor and depreciate women. It seems 
strange it should have been held in such honor. 
One Rabbi said the written Law was water, the 
Mischna wine, and the Gemara an aromatic liquor 
very precious. I give a passage from still another 
Jewish scholar of our own time, who is believed to 
have been a most accomplished Talmudist *: “ Well 
can we understand the distress of mind in a medi- 
eval divine, or even in a modern savant, who, bent 
upon following some scientific debate in the Tal- 
mudical pages, feels, as it were, the ground suddenly 
give way. The loud voices grow thin, the doors and 
walls of the school-room vanish before his eyes, and 
in their place uprises Rome the great, and her 


* Emanuel Deutsch : ‘‘ Literary Remains,” 45, etc., 151. 


HOW THE RABBIS WROUGHT THE TALMUD, 145 


million-voiced life. Or the blooming vineyards a- 
round that other city of hills, Jerusalem the Golden 
herself, are seen, and white-clad virgins move dream- 
ily among them. Snatches of their songs are heard, 
the rhythm of their choric dances rises and falls. 
Often, far too often for the interests of study and 
the glory of the human race, does the steady tramp 
of the Roman cohort, the shriek and clangor of the 
bloody field, interrupt these debates, and the arguing 
masters and their disciples don their arms, and with 
the cry, ‘ Jerusalem and liberty,’ rush to the fray. 
“It shows us the teeming streets of Jerusalem, 
tradesmen at work, women at home, children at 
play, priest and Levite, preacher on hillside, story- 
teller in the bazaar,—nor Jerusalem alone, but the 
whole antique world is embalmed there, Athens, Al- 
exandria, Persia, Rome. * * * A strange, wild, 
wierd ocean, with its leviathans and its wrecks of 
golden argosies, and with its forlorn bells that send 
up their dreamy sounds ever and anon, while the 
fisherman bends upon his oar, and starts and listens, 
and perchance the tears may come into his eyes.” 
While it is so difficult to derive from the Talmud 
any system or history, the poetical scholar goes on 
to compare these fanciful pictures to photographic 
slides, half-broken and faded, but startlingly faithful. 
As the most childish of trifles found in an Assyrian 
mound may lead the scholar to great results, so may 
the trifles in the Talmud. That the old volumes 
contain shrewd worldly wit as well as profound 
spiritual wisdom, the following sentences will show: 
“ Be thou the cursed, not he who curses. Be of them 


146 THE STORY OF THE FEWS. 


that are persecuted, not of them that persecute. 
There is not a single bird more persecuted than the 
dove, yet God has chosen her to be offered upon his 
altar. He who offers humility unto God and man 
shall be rewarded as if he had offered all the sacri- 
fices in the world. When the righteous dies it is the 
earth that loses. Thy friend has a friend, and thy 
friend’s friend has a friend,—be discreet. Commit a 
sin twice and you will think it perfectly allowable.” 

Of the strange and beautiful romance of the Tal- 
mud, no better example can be taken than the story, 
to which Longfellow has given a form so charming, 
of Sandalphon. 


Have you read in the Talmud old, 

In the legends the Rabbins have told 
Of the limitless realms of the air,— 
Have you read it,—the marvellous story 
Of Sandalphon, the Angel of Glory, 

Sandalphon, the Angel of Prayer? 


How, erect, at the outermost gates 
Of the city celestial he waits, 

With his feet on the ladder of light, 
That, crowded with angels unnumbered, 
By Jacob was seen, as he slumbered, 

Alone in the desert of night ? 


The angels of wind and of fire 
Chant only one hymn, and expire 
With the song’s irresistible stress ; 
Expire in their rapture and wonder, 
As harp-strings are broken asunder 
By music they throb to express. 


But, serene in the rapturous throng, 
Unmoved by the rush of the song, 


— 


att 


HOW THE RABBIS WROUGHT THE TALMUD. 147 


With eyes unimpassioned and slow, 
Among the dead angels, the deathless 
Sandalphon stands listening breathless 

To sounds that ascend from below ;— 


From the spirits on earth that adore, 
From the souls that entreat and implore 
In the ferver and passion of prayer ; 
From hearts that are broken with losses, 
And weary with dragging the crosses 

Too heavy for mortals to bear. 


And he gathers the prayers as he stands, 

And they change into flowers in his hands, 
Into garlands of purple and red ; 

And beneath the great arch of the portal, 

Through the streets of the City Immortal, 

Is wafted the fragrance they shed. 


It is but a legend, I know,— 
A fable, a phantom, a show 
Of the ancient Rabbinical lore ; 
Yet the old medizval tradition, 
The beautiful, strange superstition, 
But haunts me and holds me the more. 


When I look from my window at night, 
And the welkin above is all white, 

All throbbing and panting with stars, 
Among them majestic is standing 
Sandalphon, the angel, expanding 

His pinions in nebulous bars. 


And the legend, I feel, is a part 

Of the hunger and thirst of the heart, 
The frenzy and fire of the brain, 

That grasps at the fruitage forbidden, 

The golden pomegranates of Eden, 
To quiet its fever and pain, 


148 THE STORY OF THE JEWS. 


. As in antiquity the traditioual Law was rejected 
- by the Sadducees, who indeed found nothing worthy of 
respect but the five books of Moses, so in the modern 
era a sect known as the .Karaites rejected the work 
of the Talmudists, and a bitter strife came to pass 
between these protestants of Judaism, and the Rab- 
banites, who accepted the work of the doctors. They 
mutually excommunicated one another, wrestled in 
the sharpest controversy, and refused to one another 
all friendship and alliance. Though Orthodoxy pre- 
vailed, Karaism is still not extinct, lingering on in a 
few communities in Lithuania and the Crimea. 
Before dismissing the consideration of Torah and 
Talmud, a word must be said as to a very valuable 
and practical part of their precepts. The hygienic 
rules which they contain are said to possess great 
wisdom.* The idea of parasitical and infectious 
maladies, of which we now hear so much, occupied 
also the mind of Moses. He indicates with great 
wisdom the animals to be used as food, excluding 
those liable to parasites, as swine, rabbits, and hares. 
He prescribes the thorough bleeding of animals to 
be eaten, and the burning of the fat; it has been 
established that it is precisely the blood and the fat 
which are most liable to retain parasitic germs and 
carry infection. The Talmud, moreover, directs that 
the liver, lungs, and spleen shall be carefully scruti- 
nized. Precisely those organs are especially liable to 
disease. With reference to dwellings and clothing, 
and the satisfying of natural wants, the rules of 


* Dr. Noél Gueneau de Mussy : Hygienic Laws of Moses. Mew 
York Medical Abstract, March, 1885. 


HOW THE RABBIS WROUGHT THE TALMUD. 149 


Torah and Talmud are excellent ; in point of health, 
the advantage of a careful observance of the Sabbath 
is very great ; even circumcision can be defended as 
an excellent sanitary expedient. In several respects 
the Mosaic Law is declared to have anticipated mod- 
ern science by several thousand years. Throughout 
the entire history of Israel the wisdom of the ancient 
lawgivers in these respects has been remarkably 
shown: in times of pestilence, the Hebrews have 
suffered far less than others; as regards longevity 
and general health, they have in every age been 
noteworthy; at the present time in the life-insurance 
offices the life of a Jew is said to be worth much more 
than that of men of other stock ; Sir Moses Monte- 
fore dies at one hundred, and in his great age as well 
as in so many other ways, he is only a type of his 
nation. 


Clasping thus in his arms as his chief treasures the 
scrolls of the Torah and the Talmud, the incongruous 
mixture of divine wisdom with curious follies, of ex- 
alted poetry with grotesque and repulsive super- 
stition, the Jew comes forward in his long pilgrimage 
through the centuries. From the time of those fierce 
figures whom we saw struggling to the last against 
Titus among the wild spear-brandishings and con- 
flagrations in the midst of which Jerusalem went 
down, to the era of the revival of learning, there is 
no Hebrew character before whom we need to pause ; 
but here we come upon a memorable personage. 

An illustrious type of the noble students and 
thinkers of the Renaissance was Maimonides, a native 


150 THE STORY OF THE JEWS. 


of Cordova in Spain, who died in Cairo at the be- 
ginning of the thirteenth century. Even in youth 
he had mastered all the knowledge of his time, 
receiving inspiration especially from the great Aver- 
roes, the Meorish teacher to whom the revival 
of learning owed so much. Persecution from his 
brethren drove him from his birthplace, pursuing 
him elsewhere also, until at last he found himself at 
Cairo, where, winning the favor of the broad-minded- 
Sultan Saladin, he became court physician, and stood 
in a place of high honor. At the same time he 
taught as Rabbi among his own people, spreading 
abroad through speeches in the synagogue, but more 
especially through abundant writings in Hebrew and 
Arabic, a multiform knowledge. He communicated 
instruction in medicine, mathematics, and astronomy ; 
better than this, he sent far and wide a noble phi- 
losophy which anticipated in its freedom and reason- 
able spirit the thought of a far later day. Though 
he suffered harsh treatment at the hands of his fellow- 
Jews and the blind world in which his lot was cast, 
he found defenders and “followers; his words com- 
municated the hints from which the master-spirits of 

later ages have caught the inspiration which filled 

them; to-day men look back upon him, standing 

there, just where the dark ages are beginning to grow 

brighter, as a form lofty and venerable. Not that he 
was a man before his age. In some of his writings 
he dwells unduly upon Talmudic trifles and stupidi- 
ties, and cherishes a true Hebrew scorn towards the 
notions of the Gentiles. But at other times he de- 
nounces astrology, draws up certain rules to be held 


HOW THE RABBIS WROUGHT THE TALMUD. 151 


as fundamental principles, which proclaim mono- 
theism and the immortality of the soul ; and ina book 
called the “ Teacher of the Perplexed,” tries to make 
easy for the common man the understanding of 
Scripture. In this work he so over-rides the confu- 
sion of the Talmud, that he was long held by ortho- 
dox Jews as a heretic, or possibly a secret Christian. 
He won, however, respect in life, and a pure and 
widely extended fame. His house in Cairo was 
besieged by the sick, who found in him a healer kind 
and skilful. Some declared him to be the first man 
truly great who had appeared among the Jews since 
the time of Moses, and it was written upon his grave 
that he was “the elect of the human race.” 


CHLACP GE Raex. 


THE HOLOCAUSTS IN SPAIN. 


WE are now to examine the Hebrew story as it is 
told in the annals of one Christian race. The Jews 
have claimed that their progenitors were in the Iberi- 
an peninsula even in the days of Carthaginian rule. 
The Romans and Visigoths in turn succeed, and at 
length, through the Visigothic King Sisebut, the 
Hebrews undergo their first sharp persecution. They 
gladly exchange the Christian for the Moslem yoke, 
and, as we have seen, flourish with the Moors in 
brotherly accord. With the ebb of the Saracen 
power Navarre, Castile, Arragon, take shape on the 
strand that is laid bare, until in the fifteenth century 
the Cross supplants the green banner of the prophet 
even in Granada, and the forceg of the whole penin- 
sula, blended so that they can be wielded by a single 
arm, become the mighty power of Spain. The Jew 
changed masters, not to his advantage, but his mis- 
fortunes did not begin at once. The Spanish Israel- 
ites, the “ Sephardim,”’ as they call themselves, have 
always claimed that they were of nobler rank than 
elsewhere ; at first they were prosperous and wealthy, 
with no mark of the degradation induced by being 
forced to debasing means of extorting riches. They 


THE HOLOCAUSTS IN SPAIN. 153 


owned and tilled the soil, were the agents of com- 
merce, cultivators of the arts. In particular, they 
were the physicians of the country. “ Every one,” 
says Milman, “sat under his shady fig-tree or cluster- 
laden vine singing hymns to the mighty God of 
Israel who again had mercy on his people.” In the 
Crusades Spain took little part, embarrassment from 
infidels close at hand pressing much too sharply. 
The Jews, too, were spared for a time the outbursts 
of fanatical rage which overtook them elsewhere in 
Christendom, but the respite was brief. In 1212, a 
great battle having been lost against the Moors, as 
was said on account of the love of the king for a 
Jewess, twelve thousand Hebrews were massacred. 
Christian cruelty, however, was at first fitful. The 
outburst of rage was speedily followed by favor, and 
for two centuries we trace alternations of cruelty 
- and sufferance until the union of the crowns of Ar- 
ragon and Castile. To avoid persecution many Jews 
became nominally Christian. The converts were 
almost universally still Jews at heart, though many 
ascended to positions of the highest eminence. Even 
in the Church the frock of the friar covered thousands 
whose confession was only a pretence. There were 
heads indeed surmounted with the mitre whose 
sincere homage was rendered not to the Host, but in 
secret, before the parchment tables of the Law. To X 
discover how widely covert Jewish practices pre- 
vailed, it is said, it was-only necessary to ascend a 
hill on their Sabbath, and look down on towns and 
villages below. Scarce half the chimneys would be 
seen to smoke, for the multitudes of secret Jews 


154 THE STORY OF THE ¥EWS. 


celebrated their holy time. Among men of the 
bluest Castilian blood were those of Hebrew strain. 
The lordliest hidalgos bowing before the altar of 
the Virgin in public, often, when in private, lifted a 
tapestry, and by a secret door entered a shrine set 
forth with Israelitish symbols. Such a shrine is thus 
described by a descendant of the Spanish Hebrews, 
following, probably, traditions handed down from 
an ancient time.* 

ae “ The edifice was square, and formed of selid blocks 
of cedar; neither carving nor imagery of any kind 
adorned it, yet it had evidently been built with skill 
and care. There was neither tower nor bell. A 
door, so skilfully constructed as when closed to be. 
invisible in the solid wall, opened noiselessly. The 
interior was as peculiar as its outward appearance. 
Its walls of polished cedar were unadorned. In the 
centre, facing the east, was a sort of raised table or 
desk, surrounded by a railing, and covered with a 
cloth of the richest and most elaborately worked 
brocade. Exactly opposite and occupying the cen- 
tre of the eastern wall, was a sort of lofty chest or 
ark, the upper part of which, arched, and richly 
painted, with a blue ground, bore in two columns 
strange hieroglyphics in gold; beneath this were por- 
tals of polished cedar, panelled and marked out with 
gold, but bearing no device; their hinges set in 
gilded pillars, which supported the arch above. Be- 
fore these portals were generally drawn curtains of 
material rich and glittering as that upon the reading- 
desk. But this day not only were the curtains drawn 


* Grace Aguilar, in the ‘‘ Vale of Cedars.” 


THE HOLOCAUSTS IN SPAIN. 155 


aside, but the portals themselves flung open,as the 
bridal party neared the steps which led to it, and dis- 
closed six or seven rolls of parchment, folded on 
silver pins, and filled with the same strange letters, 
each clothed in drapery of variously colored brocade 
or velvet, and surmounted by two sets of silver or- 
naments, in which the bell and pomegranate were, 
though small, distinctly discernible. A superb lamp 
of solid silver was suspended from the roof, and one 
of smaller dimensions, but of equally valuable mate- 
rial, and always kept lighted, hung just before the 
ark.” 

It was very seldom that the zeal of the monkish 
preachers won a new convert.* 

One is struck with wonder at the energy of the 
fanaticism that should undertake to crush out a form 
of unbelief so widely spread and so strongly placed. 
The attempt was made, and the instrument employed 
was the most dreadful engine which superstition 
ever devised—the Inquisition. In the city of Nu- 
remberg one may go into the ancient torture-cham- 
ber—a room preserved unchanged, still retaining all 
~ * From ancient times to the present day, indeed, the Hebrews have 
yielded few proselytes to Christianity—a fact amusingly hit off not 
long since by Punch, who describes the work of the English Society 
for the Conversion of the Jews in language substantially as follows : 
“* Tt appears from the report of the Society for the Conversion of the 
Hebrews, that during the past year there has been an outlay of £5,000, 
as the result of which four large Israelites and one little one have 
been converted to Christianity. To effect the change, therefore, 
costs £1,000 per Jew. Mr. Punch would respectfully intimate to his 


Hebrew friends that he is acquainted with large numbers of Chris- 
tians who would be very happy to become Jews at a much smaller 


figure.” 


156 |THE STORY OF THE $EWS. 


its dismal apparatus for causing suffering. No mem- 
ber of the body appears to be forgotten; for each 
is the appointed contrivance to wring and tear. 
Then by winding subterranean passages you are led 
to the vault in the bowels of the earth, where stands 
the “iron maiden,” the apparatus for secret execu- 
tion. At the touch of a spring the rude woman’s 
figure flies apart, the blood-rusted spikes of its inte- 
rior dreadfully visible in the light of the smoking 
torch, as in ancient days before the eyes of con- 
demned men; and below, the yawning pit, from whose 
abyss sounds far down the splash of the sullen wa- 
ters into which the mangled body fell. To speak of 
such things almost requires an apology. The man 
of modern times groans and shudders at these sights. 
“Whence came,” he cries, “the people who made 
and used these engines? How can I believe that 
these beings are of the same nature with my own?” 
At Regensburg, at Salzburg, in Baden Baden, in 
those deep caverns hollowed out in the heart of the 
rock, where doors of stone close behind you with a 
‘heavy groan, and the loudest cry is muffled at once 
into a whisper, one may see the grisly apparatus of 
Nuremberg duplicated, and these cities are not 
alone. There are grim volumes on the history of 
torture, from which may be learned that through 
antiquity and medieval times there was no law- 
ful court which did not have, not far off, some 
such dismal appurtenance, the legitimate and recog- 
nizéd appliance, not only for the punishment of 
crime, but for the examination of witnesses. To my 
mind, there is no thing which so measures the length 


en 


THE HOLOCAUSTS IN SPAIN. 157 


of the forward step the world has taken, as the sick- 
ening dread with which the modern man contem- 
plates these things which were once every-day and 
matter-of-course. 

In the Inquisition there was a wholesale employ- 
ment of all this nightmare machinery. The Inquisi- 
tion was established in the first instance to terrify 
into faithfulness apostate Jews, the sincerity of 
whose conversion to Christianity was suspected, and 
in almost all cases, with good reason. Seated in some 
vast and frowning castle, or in some sunless cavern 
of the earth, its ministers chosen from the most 
influential men of the nation, its familiars in every 
disguise, in every corner of the land, its proceedings 
utterly secret, its decrees overriding every law, it 
would be impossible to draw a picture which would 
exaggerate its accumulated horrors. Men and 
women disappeared by hundreds, suddenly and com- 
pletely as a breath annihilates the flame of a lamp, 
some gone forever without whisper as to their fate; 
some to reappear in after years, halt through long 
tortures, pale and insane through frightful incarcera- 
tion. When in the cities the frequent processions 
wound through the streets, with their long files of 
victims on the way to the place of burning, children 
bereaved of father and mother flocked to see 
whether among the doomed they might not catch a 
last look of the face of the long-lost parent. The 
forms that were observed were such a mockery of 
justice! In the midst of the torture came the cold 
interrogation of the inquisitor. Fainting with terror 
and anguish, the sufferer uttered he knew not what, 


158 THE STORY OF THE $¥EWS. } 


to be written down by waiting clerks and made the | 

basis of procedure. Grace Aguilar, in one of her 

stories, makes her heroine to disappear through the 

floor of a chamber of Queen Isabella herself, who 

had sought to protect her, borne then by secret 

passages to a vast hall, where a grandee of Spain 

superintends cruelties of which my words give but | 

an adumbration. She recites the traditions that 

have came down in Jewish families, and history con- 

firms all that they report. No earthly power could 

save; no human fancy can paint the scene too dark. 
For a time the situation of the Jews who dared to 

profess their faith openly, was preferable to that of 

those who made Christian pretences while really 

unchanged. It was not that the latter were regard- 

ed with greater favor, but because the powers hesi- f 

tated before the magnitude of the task_of dealing 

with a class numbering hundreds of thousands and 

comprehending a vast proportion of the intelligence 

and ability of the nation. But fanaticism rose to 

cope with the undertaking, showing a force and per- 

sistence that have something admirable even while 

so devilish. In 1492 a decree was passed, that the 

Jews, a multitude though they were, and often in 

high places, must depart from the land. Isabella, 

though well-meaning, was completely under priestly 

influence, and soon assented to the plan. Ferdinand, 

through motives of policy rather than humanity, 

hesitated long. When the decision was at length 

made, a dramatic scene is said to have taken place in : 

the palace. Abarbanel, a Jew of the highest posi- 

tion and worth, a man compared to the prophet 


a 


a 


THE HOLOCAUSTS IN SPAIN. 159 


Daniel for his authority among his own race, and the 
respect he had forced from the oppressors of his 
people, penetrated to the presence of the sovereigns, 
and threw himself at their feet. He implored that 
his people might not be driven forth, and offered a 
bribe of 308,000 ducats- that the decree might be 
recalled. Suddenly into the presence stalked, in his 
monkish robe, the gloomy form of the chief inquisi- 
tor, Torquemada, bearing a crucifix. “ Judas Iscari- 
ot” cried he, unshrinkingly, to the abashed rulers, 
“sold his master for thirty pieces of silver; you wish 
to sell him for 308,000. Here he is; take him and 
sell him!” Ido not know what sadder tale can be 
told than the relation of the scenes of their depart- 
ure. The Hebrews had come to love Spain like 
their own Canaan. They visited the graves of their 
ancestors, bidding them a long farewell. Sometimes 
they removed the tombstones to carry them in their 
wanderings. Along the high-roads proceeded the 
long files of outcasts, sometimes to the beat of the 
drum which the rabbis and elders caused to be 
struck that the hearts of the people might not 
utterly sink, bearing with them the scrolls of their 
holy Law, and the remnant of their possessions. 
Valuable lands, in the forced sales, were exchanged 
for a little cloth; fine houses for a pair of mules. 
Vast sums that were owed them were confiscated ; 
in every way they became the prey of the rapacious. 
Stuffing their saddles and furniture with such gold 
pieces as they could secure, they made their way to 
the harbors. Alone of the nations of the world, the 
Turks of the Levant were ready to receive them with 


30,0°° 


160 THE STORY OF THE FEWS. 


some kindness. Those who made their way to 
Morocco and Algiers were sold into slavery, star¥ed, 
ripped open by oppressors, who hoped to find jewels 
or gold which the persecuted ones had swallowed. 
Christendom was barred against them almost as with 
walls of brass. Italy alone showed some trace of 
mercy. The great trading cities tolerated them, 
though for purely selfish reasons. The general poli- 
cy of the popes, too, be it said to their credit, con- 
trasts favorably with that of other sovereigns, though 
it was harsh enough, and such features of leniency as 
it possessed, came usually from no good motive. 
But even in Italy there was tragedy of the sad- 
dest. 

In Portugal there was at first a prospect of mild 
treatment, and the greater part of the outcasts went 
thither. But a marriage of the king with a princess 
of Spain, which soon took place, brought to pass 
woes deeper, if possible, than elsewhere. Not only 
must the Jews depart, but their children were taken 
from them to be brought up as Christians, till at last 
mothers in despair threw their babes into the rivers 
and wells, and killed themselves. The stories of mas- 
sacres are wellnigh incredible. But Spain pursued the 
policy without relenting. Those whom she cast out 
were of the best middle class, which both created the 
wealth of the land and kept it in constant movement, 
like blood within the body They were not only 


capitalists, merchants, physicians, and scholars, but . 


farmers, artisans, and laborers. The spirit of enter- 
prise and culture left Spain with the Jews. Her 
population became spiritless and diminished, and the 


acne anes, << gall 
} i 


THE HOLOCAUSTS IN SPAIN. 161 


land sank into a debasement which has never passed 
away.* 

Following the details as given by the Israelite his- 
torian Graetz in his great work of eleven volumes, 
there are scores of vivid touches making all too plain 
this dreadful harrying and expatriation. “Spain,” he 
says, “was full of the corruption of dungeons and 
the crackling pyres of innocent Jews. A lamentation 
went through the beautiful land which might pierce 
bone and marrow; but the sovereigns held back the 
arms of the pitiful.” ‘The beautiful land!” so do 
the Hebrews call it, for they had come to love it, 
and looked back to\it as to a paradise. “In our 
time,” says Isaac Arama at the end of the 15th 
century, “the smoky column ascends to heaven in 
all the Spanish kingdoms and islands. A third of 
the new Christians (the nominally converted Jews) 
have perished by fire—a third wander as fugitives 
trying to hide, in continual fear of arrest. Beautiful 
Spain has become a flaming Tophet whose fiery 
tongue is all-devouring.” 

Two hundred years later the spirit of Spain was 
unchanged. I find in a Jewish writer an account of 
an auto-da-fe celebrated in 1680, in honor of the 
marriage of Charles II. with Marie Louise, niece of 
Louis XIV. Upon the great square in Madrid an 
amphitheatre was reared, with a box for the royal 
family upon one side, opposite to which was a dais 

* This is the statement of Graetz: ‘‘ Geschichte des Judenthums,” 
volume VIII., the Spanish chapter. It can hardly be said, however, 
that Spain showed symptoms of decline until one hundred years later, 


at the time of the revolt of the Netherlands and rise of the Dutch 
Republic. 


162 THE STORY OF THE FEWS. 


for the grand inquisitor and: his train. The court 
officials were present in gala uniforms, the trade 
guilds in their state dresses, the orders of monks, an 
immense concourse of the populace. From the 
church towers pealed the bells, among whose sounds, 
were heard the chants of the monks. At 8 o’clock 
entered the procession. Before the grand inquisitor 
was borne the green cross of the Holy Office, while 
the bystanders shouted: “Long live the Catholic 
faith!” First marched a hundred charcoal burners, 
dressed in black and armed with pikes. It was their 
prescriptive right to lead the procession, as having 
furnished the fuel for the sacrifice. A troop of 
Dominican monks followed, then a duke of the bluest 
blood, hereditary standard-bearer of the Holy Office. 
After friars and nobles carrying banners and crosses 
came thirty-five effigies of life size, with names at- 
tached, borne by familiars of the Inquisition, repre- 
senting condemned men who had died in prison or 
escaped. Other Dominicans appeared, a ghastly row 
carrying coffins containing the bones of those con- 
victed of heresy after death ; then fifty-four penitents 
with the dress and badge of victims, bearing lighted 
tapers. In turn came a company of Jews and Jewesses 
(in the interval since Ferdinand and Isabella a portion 
of the Jews had returned from banishment), mostly 
persons of humble rank, in whom the interest of the 
ceremony chiefly centred; these were to be burned 
as obstinate in their refusal of the faith. Each wore 
a cloak of coarse serge, yellow in color, covered with 
representations, in crimson, of flames, demons, ser- 
pents, and crosses. Upon their heads were high- 


THE HOLOCAUSTS IN SPAIN. 163 


pointed caps, with placards in front bearing the 
name’ and offence of the wearer. Haggard they 
were through long endurance of dungeon damp and 
darkness, broken and torn from the torture cham- 
bers; glad, for the most part, that the end of their 
weary days had come. 

Asthe procession moved past the station of the royal 
personages, a girl of seventeen, whose great beauty 
had not been destroyed, cried out aloud from among 
the condemned to the young queen: ‘ Noble queen, 
cannot your royal presence save me from this? I 
sucked in my religion with my mother’s milk; must 
I now die for it?” The queen’s eyes filled with tears, 
and she turned away her face. She was unused to 
such sights. Even she, probably, could not have 
interceded without danger to herself. The suppli- 
cating girl passed on with her companions to her 
fate. High mass having been performed, the pre- 
liminaries to the terrible concluding scene are trans- 
acted. The sun descends, the Angelus is rung from 
the belfrys, the vespers are chanted, the multitude 
proceeds to the place of suffering. It is a square 
platform of stone in the outskirts of the city, at 
whose four corners stand misshapen statues of 
prophets. Those who repent at the last moment . 
have the privilege of being strangled before burning. 
The effigies and bones of the dead are’ first given to 
the flames. Last perish the living victims, the king 
himself lighting the fagots; their constancy is so 
marked that they are believed to be sustained by the 
devil. Night deepens; the glare of the flames falls 
upon the cowl of the Capuchin, the cord of the 


164 THE STORY OF THE F¥EWS. 


Franciscan—upon corselet and plume—everywhere 
upon faces fierce with fanaticism. In the back. 
ground rises the gloomy city—all alight as if with 
the lurid fire of hell. 


sm cera aaa Sa 
J ay 


ike 


CHAPTER XI. 


THE BLOODY HAND IN GERMANY. 


IN one of the old towns on the Rhine,* I went to 
see a synagogue which, tradition says, was built 
before the Christian era. In Roman legions served 
certain Jews, who, stationed here on the frontier of 
Gaul, which had just been subdued, founded a temple 
of their faith. I felt that the low, blackened walls 
of time-defying masonry had at any rate an immense 
antiquity. The blocks of stone were beaten by the 
weather—the thresholds nearly worn through by the 
passing of feet; a deep hollow lay in a stone at the 
portal, where the multitude of generations had 
touched it with the finger in sacred observances. 
Within the low interior my Jewish guide told mea 
sorrowful legend, which was, no doubt, in part true, 
relating to a lamp burning with a double flame 
before the shrine. ( Once, in the old cruel days, that 
hatred might be extited against the Jews of the city, 
a dead child was secretly thrown by the Christians 
into the cellar of one of that faith. Straightway an 


_accusation was brought by the contrivers of the 


trick; the child was found, and the innocent Hebrews 
accused of the murder. The authorities of the city 


* See the author’s “‘ Short Ilistory of German Literature.” 


166 THE STORY OF THE YEWS. 


threatened at orice to throw the chief men of the 
congregation into a caldron of boiling oil if the 
murderers were not produced. Time pressed; the 
rabbi and elders were bound, and heard already, close 
at hand, the simmering of the preparing torture. 
There appeared two strangers, who gave themselves 
into the hands of the magistrates, voluntarily accus- 
ing themselves of the crime. Into the caldrons they 
were at once thrown, from which, as they died, 
ascended two milk-white doves. Innocent, with a 
‘pious lie upon their lips, they sacrificed themselves 
to save others. To commemorate their deed, the 
lamp with the double flame had been kept. forever 
burning within the low arch. 

I walked one day through the Juden-gasse at Frank- 
fort. The modern world is ashamed of the cruelty and 
prejudice of the past, and would like to hide from 
sight the things that bear witness to it. The low, 
strong wall, however, was still standing, within whose - 
narrow confine the Jews were crowded, never safe 
from violence or even death if they were found out- 
side at times not permitted. Many of the ancient 
houses still remained,the fronts discolored, channelled, 
rising in mutilation and decay that were pathetic. 
The Hebrews of to-day seem to take pleasure in 
contrasting their present condition with their past 
misery. They have chosen to erect their stately 
synagogue among the old roofs »—upon the founda- 
tions even of the wall with which the past tried to 
fence them off from all Christian contact. Among 
such surroundings, how does the story, so long and 
so tragic, come home to us! 


THE BLOODY HAND IN GERMANY. 167 


The persecution of the Jews in Germany, a chapter 
ages long, culminated* at the time of the Black 
Death, 1348-1350. This scourge, which carried off 
a quarter of the population of Europe, afflicted the 
Jews but lightly, on account of their isolation, and 
their simple and wholesome way of life..__This com- 
parative exemption from the pest was enough to 
make them suspected. The Jews poison the wells 
and the springs, it was said. The rabbis of Toledo 
were believed to have formed a plot to destroy all 
Christendom. The composition of the poison, the 
color of the packages in which it was transported, the 
emissaries who conveyed them, were all declared to 
have been discovered. Confirmations of these re- 
ports, extracted by torture from certain poor crea- 
tures, were forthcoming, and the people flew upon 
the Jews until entire communities were destroyed. 
The “ Flagellants,” fanatical sectaries, half naked and 
scourging themselves, swarmed through Germany, 
preaching extermination to all unbelievers. Basle 
expelled its Jews, Fribourg burned them, Spires 
drowned them. The entire community at Strass- 
bourg, 2,000 souls, was dragged upon an immense 
scaffold, which was set on fire. At Worms, Frank- 
fort, and Mainz, the Israelites anticipated their fate, 
setting their homes on fire and throwing themselves 
into the flames. 

A picture, derived from Jewish authorities,} shall 
make vivid for us the condition of the Israelites in 
medizeval Germany. 

* Reinach: ‘‘ Histoire des Isra¢lites.” 


¢ Based upon the incomplete novel of Heine, ‘‘ The Rabbi of 
Bacharach,” and accounts contained in the history of Graetz. 


168 THE STORV OF THE FEWS. 


The little community of Hebrews which already in 
the time of the Romans had settled in the town of 
Woistes, on the Rhine, was a body isolated, crowded 
out of all civil rights, and weak in numbers, notwith- 
standing that it had received in times of persecution 
many fugitives. The suffering had begun with the 
Crusades. Familiar accusations that were made at 
an early day, were that the Jews stole the con- 
secrated Host to pierce it with knives, and also 
that they killed Christian children at their Passover, 
for the sake of using their blood in the service at night. 
The Jews, hated for their faith, and because they 
held the world to such an extent in their debt, were 
on that festival entirely in the hands of their ene- 
mies, who could easily bring about their destruction 
by some false accusation. Not infrequently through 
some contrivance a dead child was secretly intro- 
duced into a Jewish house, to be afterwards found 
and made a pretext for attack. Great miracles were 
sometimes reported and believed, as having happened 
over such a corpse, and there are cases in which the 
Pope canonized such supposed victims. St. Werner 
in this way reached his honors, to whom was dedi- 
cated the magnificent abbey at Oberwesel, now a 
picturesque ruin, whose carved and towering pillars 
and long-pointed windows are such a delight to the 
tourists who pass on pleasant summer days, and do 
not think of their origin. : 

The more outside hate oppressed them, however, 
so much the closer did the bond become, in these 
times, among the Jews themselves; so much the 
deeper did their piety take root.’ The Rabbi Abra- 


THE BLOODY HAND IN GERMANY. 169 


ham at Woistes was an example of excellence, a man 
still young, but famed far and wide for his learning. 
His father had also been rabbi of the little synagogue, 
and had left to his son as his only bequest, a chest of 
rare books, and the command never to leave Woistes, 
unless his life were in danger. Rabbi Abraham had 
acquired wealth through marriage with his beautiful 
cousin Sarah, daughter of a rich jeweller. He prac- 
tised conscientiously, however, the smallest usages of 
the faith ; he fasted each Monday and Thursday, en- 
joyed meat and wine only on Sundays and holidays, 
explained by day to his pupils the divine Law, and 
studied by night the courses of the stars. The 
marriage was childless, but there was abundant life 
about him; for the great hall of his house by the 
synagogue stood open to the congregation, who went 
in and out without formality, offered hasty prayers, 
and took counsel in times of distress. Here the 
children played on the Sabbath morning while the 
weekly lesson was read in the synagogue ; here the 
people collected at weddings and funerals, quarrelled 
and became reconciled; here the freezing found 
warmth and the hungry food. A crowd of kinsmen 
moved also about the rabbi who celebrated with him, 
as head of the family, the- great festivals. 

Such meetings of the kindred took place especially 
at the Passover time, when the Jews celebrate their 
escape from Egyptian bondage. As soon as it is 
night the mistress of the house lights the lamps, 
spreads the table-cloth, and lays upon it three flat 
unleavened loaves ; then covering these with a napkin, 
she places on the little mound six little plates, in 


170 THE STORY OF THE FEWS. 


which is contained symbolical food—namely, an egg, 
lettuce, a radish, a lamb’s bone, and a brown mixture 
of oranges, cinnamon, and nuts. Then the master of 
the house, seating himself at the table with all his 
guests, reads aloud out of the Talmud a mixture of 
legends of the forefathers, miraculous stories out of 
Egypt, controversial questions, prayers, and festal 
songs. The symbolical dishes are tasted at set times 
during the reading, pieces of the unleavened bread 
are eaten, and cups of red wine are drunk. Pensively 
cheerful, seriously sportive is this evening festival, 
full also of mystery ; and the traditional intonation 
with which the Talmud is read by the father of the 
house, and sometimes repeated after him by the 
hearers, in a chorus, sounds so strangely intimate, so 
like a mother’s lullaby, and at the same time so 
stimulating, that even those Jews who have long 
since apostatized and sought friends and honors 
among strangers, are affected in their deepest hearts, 
if by chance the old Passover songs come to their 
ears. 

Rabbi Abraham was once celebrating, in the great 
hall of his house, the Passover, with kindred, pupils, 
and guests. All was polished to an unusual bril- 
liancy; on the table lay the covering of silk, 
variously embroidered, with fringes of gold hanging 
to the earth. The plates with the symbolical food 
gleamed brightly, as did also the tall wine-filled 
beakers, on which were embossed sacred scenes. 
The men sat in black mantles, black flat hats, and 
white ruffs. The women, in glistening attire of ma- 
terial brought from Lombardy, wore on head and 


THE BLOODY HAND IN GERMANY. 171 


neck ornaments of pearl. The silver Sabbath lamp 
poured its festal light over the pleased and devout 
faces of old and young. On the purple velvet cushion 
of a seat raised above the rest, and leaning as the 
usage requires, Rabbi Abraham intoned the Talmud, 
and the contrasting voices of the chorus answered or 
joined in unison at the prescribed places. The rabbi 
wore also his black festival garment ; his noble, some- 
what severely formed features were milder than 
usual. His beautiful wife sat upon a raised velvet 
seat at his side, wearing, as hostess, no ornament, 
while simple white linen alone wrapped her form and 
face. Her countenance was touchingly fair, of that 
beauty which Jewesses have often possessed ; for 
the consciousness of the deep misery, the bitter 
contempt, and appalling dangers in which they and 
their kindred are forced to live, spreads often over 
their features a trace of suffering and loving anxiety 
which strangely entrances the heart. She looked into 
her husband’s eyes, with now and then a glance at 
the copy of the Talmud lying before her, a parch- 
snent volume bound in gold and velvet, an heirloom 
from the time of her grandfather, marked with 
ancient wine stains. The gay pictures which it con- 
tained, to look at which had been part of her amuse- 
ment as a child, at the Passover time, presented 
various Biblical stories: Abraham with a hammer, 
dashed in pieces the stone idols of his fathers ; Moses 
struck dead the Egyptian; Pharaoh sat magnificent 
upon his throne; again, the plague of frogs left him 
no quiet, and finally he was drowned in the Red Sea; 
the children of Israel stood open-mouthed in their 


172 THE STORY OF THE JEWS. 


wonder before Sinai; pious King David played the 
harp; and finally Jerusalem with the towers and 
pinnacles of the Temple was illuminated by the sun. 

The second cup was already poured out. The 
faces and voices of the guests were becoming always 
clearer, and the Rabbi, seizing one of the unleavened 
loaves, and holding it up with a cheerful greeting, 
read the following words: “Lo, this is the food of 
which our fathers in Egypt partook! every one who 
is hungry let him come and eat; let the afflicted 
share our Passover joy; for the present we celebrate 
the festival here, but in the coming years in the land 
of Israel; we celebrate now as bondmen, but here- 
after as sons of freedom.” Just here-the door of the 
long hall opened, and two tall, pale figures entered, 
wrapt in broad cloaks, one of whom said: “ Peace 
be with you. We are your companions in the faith, 
who now are journeying, and we wish to celebrate 
the Passover with you.’ The Rabbi answered 


quickly and kindly: ‘‘ Peace be with you; sit here ... 


by me.” The strangers seated themselves at the 
table, and Abraham continued his reading. Often, 
while the by-standers were still occupied with the 
responses, he addressed sportively caressing words to 
“his wife, then again took up his part, how “ Rabbi 
Eleazar, Rabbi Asaria, Rabbi Akiba, and Rabbi 
Tarphen, sat in Bona-brak and talked together the 
whole night of the Exodus, until their scholars came 
and called out to them that it was day, and in the 
synagogue great morning-prayer was already being 
read,” or some similar passage from the quaint dis- 
jointed record. 


THE BLOODY HAND IN GERMANY. TAS 


As the Hebrew woman reverently listened with 
eyes fixed on her husband, she saw that his face 
suddenly became distorted with horror, the blood 
fled from his cheeks and lips, and his eyes stood out 
in dreadful astonishment. Instantly, however, he 
recovered himself. The agitation passed off like a 
momentary spasm, his features resuming their former 
quiet cheerfulness. Presently a mad humor, quite 
foreign to him, seemed to take possession of him. 
The wife was terrified, less on account of the signs 
of astonished fear than on account of the insane 
merriment. Abraham pushed his cap in wild sport 
from one ear to the other, plucked and curled the 
locks of his beard like a buffoon, sang the text of 


the Talmud like a street minstrel; and in counting 


up the Egyptian plagues, when the index-finger is 
dipped several times into the full beaker, and the 
drop hanging from it thrown to the ground, the 
Rabbi spattered the younger girls with red wine, 
and there was loud complaint over destroyed ruf- 
fles, and resounding laughter. This convulsive 
levity on the part of her husband seemed constantly 
stranger to Sarah, and she looked on with nameless 
anxiety, as the guests, incited by Abraham, danced 
back and forth, tasted the Passover bread, sipped 
the wine, and sang aloud. 

At length came the time of the evening meal, and 
all prepared to wash themselves. The wife brought 
the great silver laver, adorned with figures of beaten 
gold, and held it before each guest, who poured 
water over his hands. While she was performing 
this service, her husband made a significant sign to 


. 


174 THE STORY OF THE FEWS. 


her, and during the preparations slipped unnoticed 
from the room. As she followed him immediately, 
he seized her hand with a hasty clutch, drew her 
quickly forth through the dark lanes of the town, 
and passed at length out of the gate to the high- 
road along the Rhine. It was one of those quiet 
nights of spring which, indeed, is mild and bright, 
but fills the soul with a strange thrill. The flowers 
exhaled an oppressive odor, the birds filled the air 
with a kind of anxious twitter, the moon threw white 
streaks of light uncannily over the dark, murmuring 
stream. The lofty cliffs of the bank seemed like 
heads of giants threateningly nodding ; the watch- 
man on the tower of a lonely castle opposite blew 
from his bugle a melancholy note, and now sounded 
forth the death-bell from the abbey of St. Werner, 
quickly pealing. The wife still carried in her right 
hand the silver basin, while Abraham kept fast his 
clutch upon her left wrist. She felt that his fingers 
were icy cold and that his arm trembled, but she 
followed in silence, foreboding she knew not what, 
while the sights and sounds of the night seemed to 
her, in her mood, pervaded with such strange terror. - 
Reaching at length a rock which overhung the river- 
-shore, the Rabbi mounted with his wife, looked 
warily in all directions, then stared upward at the 
stars. The moon illuminated his pale face in a 
ghastly way, showing a mingled expression of pain, 
fear, and devotion. As he suddenly snatched the 
laver from her hand and flung it down into the river 
she could no longer bear it, but throwing herself at 
his feet, begged him to reveal the mystery. The 


ed 


THE BLOODY HAND IN GERMANY. 175 


lips of Abraham moved, but at first no sound came 
forth. At length he stammered: “ Do you see the 


angel of death there hovering over Woistes? We, 


however, have escaped his sword, praised be the 
Lord!” With voice still trembling with horror he 
then related, his spirit growing calmer gradually as it 
found utterance, how, while in pleasant frame he 
sat chanting from the Talmud, he had happened to 
look under the table, and had beheld there at his feet 
the bloody corpse of a child. “ Then I saw,” he went 
on, “that the two tall strangers were not of the 
congregation of Israel, but of the assembly of the 


~ godless, who had taken council to accuse us of 


child-murder, and afterwards excite the people to 
plunder and slay us. I dared not let it be seen that 
I had discovered the work of darkness. I should 
have hastened our destruction by doing so, and only 
cunning and promptness have saved us. Be not 
anxious, Sarah. Our friends and kindred will be 
saved. The ruthless men coveted my death alone. 


_ Since I have escaped them, they will satisfy them 


selves with our silver and gold. Let us depart to 
another land, leaving misfortune behind us; and in 
order that misfortune may not pursue us, I have 
thrown away in atonement the last of our posses- 
sions, the basin of silver. The God of our fathers 
will not abandon us. Come down, thou art tired. 
Wilhelm, the dumb boy, waits with his boat there at 
the shore ; he will carry us down the Rhine.” 
Speechless and as if with broken limbs, the beauti- 
ful Sarah had sunk away into the arms of Abraham, 
who bore her slowly down toward the shore. There 


Sees 


176 THE STORY OF THE $EWS. 


stood Wilhelm, who, the support of his old mother, 
the Rabbi's neighbor, followed the calling of a fisher- 
man, and had here fastened his boat. He seemed to 
have already guessed the intention of the Rabbi, and 
to be waiting for him. About his closed lips played an 
expression of gentle pity, his great blue eyes, full of 
feeling, rested upon the fainting woman, whom he 
carried tenderly to the little boat. The look of the 
dumb boy aroused her from her stupefaction. She 
felt suddenly that all which her husband had told her 
was no mere dream, and streams of bitter tears 
poured down her cheeks, which were now as white 
as her robe. There she sat in the middle of the boat, 
a weeping form of marble,—by her side her husband 
and Wilhelm, who plied the oars vigorously. 
Whether it is the monotonous stroke of the oars, 
or the rocking of the craft, or the fragrance of those 
mountainous shores, upon which grow the clusters 
that inspire man with joy, it always happens that the 
most afflicted man is strangely calmed, when ona 
spring night, in a light skiff, he sails upon the beauti- 
ful Rhine." Old good-hearted father Rhine cannot 
bear, indeed, to have his children weep. He rocks 
them in his faithful arms, stilling their sobbing, re- 
lates to them his finest tales, promises them his 
richest treasures, perhaps the hoard of the Nibelun- 
gen, sunk so long ago. Sarah’s tears flowed at last 
less passionately. The whispering waves charmed 
away her sorrows, the night lost its gloom, and the 
mountains about her home wished her, as it were, a 
tender farewell. As she mused, at length it seemed 
to her as if she, a child, were once more seated upon 


THE BLOODY HAND IN GERMANY. 177 


the little stool before her father’s velvet chair, who 
stroked her long hair, laughed at her pleasantly, and 
rocked back and forth in his ample Sabbath dressing- 
gown of blue silk. It must have been the Sabbath, 
for the flower-embroidered covering was laid on the 
table. All the utensils in the room shone brightly 
polished, the white-bearded servant of the congrega- 
tion sat at her father’s side and talked Hebrew. 
Abraham too came in, as in his boyhood, bearing a 
great book, and wished to expound a passage of Holy 
Writ in order that his uncle might be convinced that 
he had learned much the past week. The little fel- 
low laid the book on the arm of the broad chair, and 
gave the story of Jacob and Rachel, how Jacob had 
lifted up his voice and wept aloud, when he first be- 
held his cousin Rachel, how he had spoken to her 
intimately at the well, how he had been obliged to 
serve for Rachel seven years, how quickly they had 
passed, and how he had married Rachel and had 
loved her forever. . Sarah remembered that her 
father suddenly cried out in merry tones: ‘“ Wilt 
thou not marry just so?” Whereupon the little 
Abraham answered earnestly : “That will I, and she 
shall wait seven years.” 

As the figures passed vaguely through the fancy 
of the fugitive, they became strangely confused. 
The Rhine seemed at length to murmur the monoto- 
nous melodies of the Talmud, and the pictures she 
had known in her childhood appeared to rise large 
as life, and distorted. Old Abraham dashed in 
pieces the forms of the idols, which grew quickly 
together again; Mt. Sinai lightened and flamed ; 


178 THE STORY OF THE YEWS. 


King Pharaoh swam in the Red Sea, holding fast in 
his teeth his crown of gold with its points; frogs 
with human countenances swam behind, the waves 
foamed and roared, and a dark, gigantic hand was 
thrust threateningly forth. Coming to herself fora 
moment, Sarah looked up to the mountains of the 
shore, upon whose summits the lights of the castles 
flickered and at whose foot the moonlit mist was 
spread. Suddenly she seemed to see there her 
friends and kindred, hurrying along the Rhine full 
of terror, with corpse-like faces and white, waving 
shrouds. A blackness passed before her eyes, a 
stream of ice was poured into her soul, and vaguely 
into her half swoon came the voice of the Rabbi, 


' saying his evening prayer slowly and anxiously, as 


by the bedside of people sick unto death. But 
suddenly the gloomy curtain was drawn away. 
Above the Hebrew woman appeared the holy city 
of Jerusalem with its towers and gates. The Temple 
shone in golden splendor; in its court she beheld 
her father, in his Sabbath attire, and with joyful 
countenance. From the windows her friends and 
kindred treated her joyfully ; in the Holy of Holies 
knelt pious King David, with purple mantle and 
sparkling crown, sending forth afar the music of 
psalm and harp. Peacefully smiling at length, as if 
comforted by the vision, she slept. 

When she opened her eyes again upon the world, 
she was almost blinded by the bright beams of the 
morning sun. The lofty towers of a great city rose 
close at hand, and Wilhelm, standing upright with 
his boat-hook, guided the boat through a thick press 


BD 


THE BLOODY HAND IN GERMANY. 179 


of gay-pennoned craft. “ This is Niegesehenburg,” 
said Abraham. ‘‘ There you see the great bridge, 
with its thirteen arches, and in the midst the little 
cabin, where, they say, dwells a certain baptized 
Jew. He acts for the Israelite congregation, and 
pays to whomsoever shall bring him a dead rat six 
farthings; for the Jews must deliver yearly,to the 
city council five thousand rat-tails.”” Presently they 
landed, and the Rabbi conducted his wife through 
the great crowd on the bank, where now, because it 
was Easter, a crowd of wooden booths had been 
built. 

What a various throng! For the most part they 
were trades-people, bargaining with one another 
aloud, or talking to themselves while they reckoned 
on their fingers; often heavy-laden porters ran be- 
hind them in a dog-trot to carry their purchases to 
their warehouses. Other faces gave evidence that 
only curiosity had attracted them. The stout city 
councillor could be recognized by his red cloak and 
golden neck-chain; the iron-spiked helmet, the yel- 
low leather doublet, and the clinking spurs announced 
the man-at-arms. Under the black-velvet cap, which 
came together in a point on the forehead, a rosy 
girl’s face was concealed, and the young fellows who 
followed her appeared like fops, with their plumed 
caps, their peaked shoes, and their silken parti-col- 
ored dress. In this the right side was green, and 
the left side red; or on one side streaked rainbow-like, 
the other checkered, so that the foolish fellows 
looked as if they were split in the middle. Drawn 
on by the crowd, the Rabbi, with his wife, reached 


180 THE STORY OF THE JEWS. 


the great market-place of the town, surrounded by 
high-gabled houses, chief among them the great 
Rath-haus. In this building the emperors of Ger- 
many had been sometimes entertained, and knightly 
sports were often held before it. King Maximilian, 
who loved such things passionately, was then present 
in the city, and the day before, in his honor, a great 
tournament had taken place before the Rath-haus. 
About the lists which the carpenters were now 
taking away many idlers were standing, telling one 
another how yesterday the Duke of Brunswick and 
the Margrave of Brandenburg had charged against 
each other amid the sound of trumpets and drums; 
and how Sir Walter had thrust the Knight of the 
Bear so violently out of the saddle that the splinters 
of his lance flew into the air, the tall, fair King 
Max standing meanwhile among his courtiers on the 
balcony, and rubbing his hands with joy. The cov- 
ering of golden material still lay upon the balcony 
and in the arched windows of the Rath-haus; the 
rest of the houses of the market-place were still in 
festal dress. 

What a crowd of every station and age were 
assembled here! People laughed, rejoiced, played 
practical jokes. Sometimes the trumpet of the 
mountebank pealed sharply, who, in a red cloak, 
with his clown and ape, stood on a lofty scaffold, 
proclaimed aloud his own skill, and praised his mi- 
raculous tinctures and salves. Two fencing-masters, 
swinging their rapiers, with ribbons fluttering, met 
here as if by chance, and thrust at one another in 
apparent anger; after a long battle, each declared 


sl 


THE BLOODY HAND IN GERMANY. 181 


the other invincible, and collected a few pennies. 
With drum and fife, the newly-constituted guilds of 
archers marched past. The sound was at last lost, 
and the long-drawn chanting of an approaching 
procession was heard. It was a solemn train of 
tonsured and bare-footed monks, carrying burning 
tapers, banners with images of the saints, or great 
silver crucifixes. At their head went acolytes in 
robes of red and white, with smoking censers; in the 
midst, under a beautiful canopy, priests were seen 
in white robes of costly lace, or in stoles of variegated 
silk, one of whom bore in his hand a golden vessel, 
shaped like the sun, which he held on high before 
the shrine of a saint in the market-place, while he 
half shouted and. half sang Latin words. At the 
same time a liftle bell sounded, and all the people 
fell upon their knees and crossed themselves. 

The Rabbi drew his wife away by a narrow 
lane, then through a labyrinth of contracted, crooked 
streets, to the Jewish quarter. This was provided 
with strong walls, with chains of iron before the 
gates, to bar them against the pressure of the rabble. 
Here the Jews lived, oppressed and anxious in the 
recollection of previous calamity. When the Flagel- 
lants, in passing through, had set the city on fire, 
and accused the Jews of doing it, many of the latter 
had been murdered by the frenzied populace, or 
found death in the flames of their own houses. 
Since then the Jews had often been threatened 
with similar destruction, and in the internal dis- 
sensions of the city, the Christian rabble had always 
stood ready to storm the Jewish quarter. The great 


182 THE STORY OF THE FEWS. 


wall which enclosed it had two gates, which on 
Catholic holidays were closed from the outside, and 
on Jewish holidays from within. 

The keys rattled, the gate opened with a jar, as 
the Rabbi and his wife stepped into the Judengasse, 
which was quite empty of people. ‘Don’t be sur- 
prised,” said the Jewish gatekeeper, “ that the street 
is so quiet. An our people are now in the syna- 
gogue, and you come just at the right time to hear 
the story read of the sacrifice of Isaac.” The pair 
wandered slowly through the long, empty street, 
and approached at length the synagogue. Even 
at a distance they heard the loud confusion of voices. 
In the court the Rabbi separated from his wife, and 
after he had washed his hands at the spring which 
flowed there, he stepped into the Tower part of the 
synagogue, where the men pray. Sarah, on the other 
hand, ascended the staircase, and reached the place 
of the women above. This was a gallery, with three 
rows of wooden seats, dull red in color, whose rail , 
was provided above with a hanging shelf, which 
could be propped up for the support of the prayer- 
book. Here women were sitting, talking, or stand- 
ing erect as they earnestly prayed. Often they ap- 
proached with curiosity the great lattice in the East, 
through whose green slats they could look down into . 
the lower part of the synagogue. There, behind tall 
prayer desks, stood the men in their black cloaks, 
their pointed beards falling over their white collars, 
and their heads more or less veiled by a square cloth 
of white wool or silk, and now and then decorated 
with golden tassels. 


THE BLOODY HAND IN GERMANY. 183 


The walls of the synagogue were whitened uni- 
formly, and no other adornment could be seen than 
the gilded iron lattice about the square platform 
where the passages from the Law were read, and 
the sacred shrine. This was a chest handsomely 
wrought, apparently borne on marble columns with 
luxuriant capitals, whose flowers and foliage were 
beautifully entwined. On the velvet curtain which 
covered it a pious inscription was embroidered with 
gold, pearls, and many-colored stones. Here hung 
the silver memorial lamp, near a raised stage with a 
lattice, on whose rail were various sacred vessels, 
among others the seven-branched candlestick. Be- 
fore this, his countenance toward the shrine, stood . 
the precentor, whose chant was accompanied by the 
voice of his two assistants, a bass and a treble singer. 
The Jews have banished from their worship all in- 
strumental music, thinking that the praise of God 
ascends more edifyingly out of the warm human | 
breast than out of cold organ pipes. Sarah took a 
child-like pleasure, when now the precentor, an ex- 
cellent tenor, raised his voice, and the ancient, solemn 
melodies which she knew so well rang out with a 
beauty such as she had never imagined. While the 
bass in contrast poured forth his deep, heavy tones, 
in the intervals the soprano trilled with delicate 
sweetness. 

Sarah had never heard such music in the syna- 
gogue of Woistes. A pious pleasure, mingled with 
feminine curiosity, drew her to the lattice, where 
she could look down into the lower compartment. 
She had never as yet seen so large a number of 


i i i i i ne a een ure ead! i ee ea ee 


184 THE STORY OF THE JEWS. 


fellow believers as she beheld there below, and her’ 
heart was cheered in the midst of so many people 
so nearly allied to her through common descent, 
belief, and suffering. But the woman’s soul was 
still more moved when three old men reverently 
approached the sacred shrine, pushed the curtain to 
one side, opened the chest, and carefully took out 
that book which God had written with his own 
sacred hand, and for whose preservation the Jews 
had suffered so much misery and hate, insult and 
death, a martyrdom of a thousand years. 

This book, a great roll of parchment, was wrapped, 
like a prince’s child, in a richly embroidered mantle 
of velvet, and wound about a pin set off with bells 
and pomegranates. The precentor took the book, 
and as if it were a real child, a child for whom great 
pangs had been endured, and whom on that account 
one loves all the more, he rocked it in his arms 
pressed it to his breast, and as if thrilled by such 
contact, raised his voice in joyful thanksgiving. It 
seemed to the woman as if the columns of the holy 
shrine must begin to bloom, and the wonderful 
flowers of the capitals grow constantly higher. At 
the same time, the tones of the more delicate voice 
became like those of a nightingale, while the vaulted 
ceiling of the synagogue threw back the powerful 
notes of the bass. 

It. was a beautiful psalm. The congregation re- 
peated the concluding verse in chorus. To the 
elevated platform in the midst of the synagogue 
strode slowly the precentor, with the sacred book, 
while men and boys hastily pressed forward to kiss, 


THE BLOODY HAND IN GERMANY. 185 


or, indeed, only to touch the velvet covering. The 
wrapping at last was drawn off from the sacred book; 
also the swathings in which it was enveloped, writ- 
ten over with variegated letters, and out of the 


_opened parchment roll, in that intonation, which at 


the Passover is strangely modulated, was read the 
edifying tale of the temptation of Abraham. At 
last a prayer of especial solemnity was intoned, 
which no one is permitted to neglect. It was per- 
formed while the congregation stood with faces 
turned toward the East, where lies Jerusalem. 

It is customary in the synagogue for any one who 
has escaped great danger to step publicly forward 
after the reading of the Law, and thank God for his 
salvation. When now Rabbi Abraham arose in the 
synagogue for such a thanksgiving, and Sarah recog- 
nized the voice of her husband, she noticed that his 
tone gradually dropped into the solemn murmur of 
the prayer for the dead. She heard the names of 
her familiar friends, and the conviction took posses- 
sion of her that their kindred and loved ones at 
Woistes had not, after all, escaped the sword. She 
felt that some dread tidings must have reached 
Abraham, and hope vanished from her soul. 

But now from without the walls resounded a heavy 
tumult. While the congregation had been gathered 
in the synagogue, a friar proceeding through the 
streets, carrying in a monstrance the Host toa dying 
man, had come upon a group of Jewish boys; throw- 
ing sand at one another in sport. Gravel-stones had 
hit the robes of the monk, and those that followed 
nim had become so enraged that they pursued and 


RAESEP LE ei Rees de 


DS 


186 THE STORY OF THE FEWS. 


maltreated the boys. The parents of the children 
had interfered to free them from the excessive pun- 
ishment, upon which the friar had run to the market- 
place, and cried with a loud voice that the Host, and 
his own office, as priest, had been desecrated by 
Jews. The rabble had attacked the Hebrew quarter, 
and the ominous sounds, at first not understood, that 
were heard within the synagogue, were the tumult of 
their frenzied onset. The Hebrews were overpow- 
ered wherever they could be seized—as they rushéd 
from their houses, or made their way from the tem- 
ple,—and given the alternative of death or baptism. 
The persecuted were, with few exceptions, steadfast, 
and destruction fell upon them. In their despera- 
tion they laid hands upon themselves. Fathers slew 
first their families, then took their own lives. The 
details are two dreadful to be dwelt upon. Rabbi 
Abraham and Sarah had escaped death the night 
before, only to find it now in a form not less terrible. 
The synagogue was burned, and the holy Law torn 
and trampled under foot. Thousands perished that 
day and the night following, only here and there a 
fugitive escaping. 

As the tidings spread in Germany, the venerable 
Rabbi whose authority had become greatest among 
his people, counselled them as follows: “I have been 
told of the sufferings which have befallen our breth- 
ren—of the tyrannical laws, the compulsory bap- 
tisms, the exiles, and now at length of the massacres. 
There is woe within, and woe without. I hear an 
insolent people raise its raging voice over the faith- 
ful; I see it swing its hand against them. The 


watysaNal ‘ONVIIVA, ao dowd Saal 


188 THE STORY OF THE JEWS. 


priests and the monks rise against them and say: 
‘We will persecute them to extermination; the 
name of Israel shall no longer be named.’ How the 
holy German brotherhood is handled! We are 
driven from place to place. We are smitten with 
the sharp sword, flung into flaming fire, into raging 
floods, or poisonous swamps. Brethren and friends! 
I cry to you that the land of the Turks is a land 
where nothing is wanting. If you consent to go 
thither, it may still be well with you. You can 
safely proceed thence to the promised land. \ Israel, 
why dost thou sleep! Up, and depart from this 
accursed soil!" The Hebrews obeyed. in multi- 
tudes. They sought the far East, and found in the 
dominions of the Sultan a sway which, as contrasted 
with that of the sovereigns of Christendom, was 
merciful, even benignant. 

What wonder that those who found their way 
back to Jerusalem established among the fragments 
of the ancient glory of their fathers, a wailing-place! 


CHAPTER XII. 


THE FROWN AND THE CURSE IN ENGLAND, ITALY, 
AND FRANCE. 


THE reader will have had a surfeit of tragedy in 
the details that have been given of Hebrew tribula- 
tions in Spain and Germany, but whoso tells the 
story faithfully must give yet more. The treatment 
accorded the Jews by Englishmen was no kinder, 
though the persecution was less colossal, from the 
fact that the number of victims was smaller. The 
Israelites probably came to Britain in the Roman 
day, antedating, therefore, in their occupation, the 
Saxon conquerors, by two or three centuries, and 
the Normans by perhaps a thousand years. With 
the beginnings of English history their presence can 
be traced, the inevitable proscription appearing as 
far back as the time of the Heptarchy. Saxon 
strove with Briton, and Dane with Saxon, and all 
alike were at enmity with the Jew. Canute banished 
them to the Continent, where they took refuge in 
Normandy, and were well received. With the 
conquering William they returned to England, and 
for a time were protected by a kindly policy. Wil- ° 
liam Rufus, in particular, showed them indulgence. 
He appointed a public debate in London between 


- 190 THE STORY OF THE EWS. 


rabbis and bishops, and swore by the face of St. 
Luke that if the churchmen were defeated, he would 
turn Jew himself. This favor, however, was tran- 
sient; the Hebrews soon found themselves again 
under the harrow, their suffering culminating at the 
accession of Richard Coeur de Lion, in 11809. 

The imprudent Israelites, over-anxious to win the 
favor of the new reign, thronged to the coronation 
in rich attire, and bearing costly gifts. The crusad- 
ing spirit was rife; the presence of such infidel sor- 
cerers at the ceremony was held to be of evil omen. 
An attempt was made to exclude them from West- 
minster Abbey, which many evaded, and the bold- 
ness of the intruders cost the Jews dear throughout 
the entire kingdom. Not a Hebrew household in 
London escaped robbery and murder, and outrage 
proceeding through the land wreaked enormities in 
the provinces that exceeded those of the capital. 
The preaching friars, omnipresent, taught that the 
rescue of the Holy Sepulchre could well begin with 
a harrying of infidels at home; and at York, at last, 
occurred a tragedy which anils in Israelite history 
can find a parallel. 

The great body of the Jews sought refuge in the 
castle, whence they defied the fanatics. The people, 
fired by the exhortations of the monks, who prom- 
ised salvation to such as should shed the blood of an 
unbeliever, and who themselves, cross in hand, in 
their cowls, led the attacks, soon made it plain 
that resistance was hopeless. As in the old days of 
the Maccabees, a priest was at the head of the Jews. 
The chief rabbi of York, a man of great learning and 


i’ 


THE FROWN AND THE CURSE. Ig! 


virtue, thus addressed them: “ Men of Israel, this 
day the God of our fathers commands us to die for 
his Law—the Law which the people have cherished 
from the first hour it was given, which we have pre- 
served through our captivity in all nations, and for 
which can we do lessthan die? Death is before our 
eyes ; let us escape the tortures of the Christians, who 
prowl about us like wolves athirst for our blood, by 
surrendering, as our fathers have done before us, our 
lives with our own hands to our Creator. God seems 
to call for us ; let us not be unworthy!” 

The old man wept as he spoke, but the people 
said he had uttered words of wisdom. As the coun- 
cil closed, night descended, and while the besiegers 
watched upon their arms, lo, within the stronghold 
flared the blaze of a furious conflagration. In the 
morning an entrance was easily forced, for the walls 
were no longer defended. The fathers had slain 
with the sword their wives and children, then fallen 
by the hands of one another, the less distinguished 
yielding up their lives to the elders. These in turn 
had fallen by the hand of the chief rabbi. He at 
last stood alone ; upon the congregation about him, 
man and maid, child and graybeard, had descended 
the everlasting silence. The flames that had been 
kindled devoured not only the possessions, but con- 
sumed the people like the sacrifice upon an altar. A 
final stroke and the old man lay with his fellows, 
leaving to the persecutors an ash-heap which en- 
tombed five hundred skeletons. 

For a century longer a remnant of the Israelites 
maintained themselves in England; but Edward I., 


all 


192 THE STORY OF THE FEWS. 


the “ English Justinian,” though in so many waysa 
great.and good prince, drove them forth, 16,500 in 
number, and from that time for nearly four cen- 
turies, there is no evidence that British soil felt a 
Hebrew footprint. At length sat in the place of 
power a man mightier than Plantagenet or Tudor or 
Stuart, —Cromwell, the plain squire, lifted to the 
rulership by the uprisen people. With him pleaded 
for tolerance Menasseh ben Israel, a Hebrew of the 
synagogue of Amsterdam, wise and gentle, and the 
pleading was not in vain. The heart of the ruler 
was softened, the gates of the land swung open to 
admit the descendants of the banished. At first it 
was the barest sufferance, limited by every kind of 
disability ; but the chain has fallen from the limbs 
of the children of those men. - Just as this record is 
completed, a son of Jacob is made a peer of the 
realm. 

Near one of the arches of London Bridge, the 
“bridge of sighs,” beneath which the sullen current 
pours so gloomily seaward, there is a spot in the river 
where at a certain stage of the tide the waters whirl 
in a strange, uncanny agitation. There, says tradi- 
tion, in far off, terrible days, a company of Jews were 
thrown-in and drowned. Men once believed, and it 
is said there are men who still believe, that the mys- 
terious, uneasy bubbling and rush of the flood dates 
from the day when it coldly stifled the death-cries of 
those perishing victims. It is as if that stream of 
tragedy, which has helped and hidden so much of 
ghastly crime, had somewhere a conscience of its 
own, and, remorseful*through the ages for having 


2 


THE FROWN AND THE CURSE. 193 


been the accomplice in wickedness so terrible, be- 
trayed its secret trouble even to the present hour. 


In Italy, the hardships which the Jews were forced 
to suffer were somewhat less terrible than elsewhere. 
The land had no political unity: the great trading 
republics, Venice, Florence, Genoa, dominated the 
northern portion; the power of the Church held the 
centre; the influence of Spain made itself balefully 
felt in Sicily and at the south. There was no har- 
monious policy in the great peninsula, thus disin- 
tegrated. Each little state was, as regardeed the 
Hebrews, sometimes oppressive, sometimes favorable; 
when in any city or district the skies grew dark for 
them, the Jews could often find more easily in the 
principalities than in the great kingdoms a convenient 
refuge. In the commercial states no prejudice, of 
coursegwas felt toward the Israelites from the fact that 
they were traders and money-lenders. What else were 
Venetian, Florentine, Lombard, and Cahorsin ?* They 
were the Jew’s rivals, not his contemners, and there 
is good reason for thinking that these Christian usurers 
were harsher and more extortionate than the sons of 
Jacob, whose calling they had appropriated. The 


-attitude of the mercantile cities toward the Hebrews 


was generally that of surly tolerance, that brought, 
however, no exemption from insult, or indeed, 
bodily ill-treatment, if caprice turned that way. 

In Rome, the fate of the Jews hung upon the per- 


_ sonal character of the Popes, who sometimes bravely 


* Money-lenders who probably came from Piedmont. See Dep- 
ping, 175. 


194 THE STORY OF THE FEWS. 


and humanely protected them; sometimes threw 
over them a shield from the selfish advantage they 
might reap from their presence; sometimes drove 
against them with fagot and sword as bitter persecu- 
tors. A little company of Hebrews had dwelt in 
Rome even from ante-Christian days, suffered to re- 
main, it has been said,* as a monumental symbol, 
presenting the Old-Testament root of Christianity. 
Unmixed with Romans or barbarians, they had trans- 
mitted their blood. The community had seen the 
ancient Roman republic, after Brutus and Cassius 
had fallen at Philippi, tumble about them into dust; 
the immeasurable marble city of the imperial time 
had held them in its circuit ; when the maces of the 
Goths had dashed this into ruins they lived on in 
“the desolation. More indestructible than a column 
of brass, the little troop survived the fearful Neme- 
sis of the ages. In the days of papal splendor they 
prayed—yes, in our own day they pray—to the God 
of Abraham and Moses in the same lanes, on the 
bank of the Tiber, in which their fathers dwelt in 
the times of Consul and Cesar. 

Whenever, in medizval times, a pope was conse- 
crated, the Hebrew congregation were among the 
attendants, standing with slavish gestures, full of fear 
or timid hope, while the chief rabbi at their head 
carried on his shoulder the mysterious veiled roll of 
the holy Law. They were accustomed to read their 
fate in the gloomy or genial countenance of the new 
pope. Was it to be toleration or oppression ? While 


* Gidemann: ‘“ Die Juden in Italian wahrend des Mittelalters,” 
P- 73- 


THE FROWN AND THE CURSE. 195 


the rabbi handed the vicar of Christ the scroll for | 


confirmation, their eyes scanned keenly the face that 
turned toward him. As the scroll was handed back, 
this was the formula which the pope was accustomed 
to utter: “ We recognize the Law, but we condemn 
the view of Judaism ; for the Law is fulfilled through 
Christ, whom the blind people of Judah still expect 
as the Messiah.” Sometimes shielded, sometimes 
hounded, they drove their bargains, exercised many 
a profession,—in particular, as physicians, attended 
peasant and prince, monk and nun, even the popes 
themselves; but for them, as they went and came, 
the frown was never far from the Christian’s brow, 
or the curse from his lip. 

In Southern Italy the Jews had an especial note as 
artisans. They were the principal dyers, raisers and 
manufacturers of silk, blacksmiths, locksmiths, silver- 
smiths. Ferdinand the Catholic forbade them to 
carry on noisy labors upon Christian holidays. They 
were also builders and miners. When the mournful 
banishment of the Jews from the dominions of Spain 
came about, the story of which has been related, 
Sicily, as a country subject to Ferdinand, suffered 
with the rest. The foremost magistrates and officials 
of the island, however, interposed a protest, an elo- 
quent testimony to the character of the exiles, a few 
words of which it will be well to quote: 

“ A difficulty arises from the circumstance that in 
this land almost all the handicraftsmen are Jews. 
If, then, all depart at once, there will be a want of 
workmen for the Christians—especially of workmen 


’ able to carry on the iron industry,—the shoeing of 


196 THE STORY OF THE $EWS. 


_-horses, the manufacturing of farming-tools, the mak- 


ing of vehicles, of ships and galleys.” The document 
continues in the same strain, illustrating convincingly, 
as a Jewish scholar urges, how the Hebrews have la- 
bored with eagerness wherever narrow-minded guilds 
and aspirit of envy did not forbid them to doso. If 
we may trust Sicilian testimony, relations of unusual, 
friendliness existed between the island population 
and the Israelites thus suddenly banished. “It was 
an entire race which went into banishment. An- 
other race with which it had lived for centuries, stood 
dumb, astonished, weeping, upon the city walls, the 
galleries, and roofs of the neighboring buildings, to 
give and receive a last greeting. The Jews aban- 
doned Sicily—the land which had beheld so many 
successive generations of their forefathers, holding 
their ashes in its bosom. The despot who thus pun- 
ished and drove forth the innocent, could not meas- 
ure the infinite bitterness of such a separation. The 
catastrophe of 1492 remains indelibly inscribed among 
the saddest memories which the rule of Spain has left 
in this island.” * 

It is worth while to dwell for a moment upon the 
spectacle of this compassionate Christian multitude, 
gathered there upon the shore of the summer sea, 
weeping as they watched in the distance the depart- 
ing sails of the exiled Hebrews. Rarely indeed did 
the dark world of those times afford such a scene. 
In a night of tempest the clouds will sometimes 
divide for a moment and suffer to fall a gentle beam 


*La Lumia: ‘‘The Sicilian Hebrews,” quoted by Giidemann, 
p- 291. : 


THE FROWN AND THE CURSE. 197 


of moonlight. For the Jews it was everywhere 
storm and thick darkness—and how seldom came 
any parting of those wrath-charged shadows! 


For some time after the Jews of England and Ger- 
many had found themselves oppressed, the situation 
of their brethren in France, was an enviable one. 
They were spread abroad even among the villages— 
on the farms, and in the vineyards, as well as in the 
towns, devoting themselves to agriculture, to medi- 
cine, to the mechanic arts, to study; traders and 
money-changers, however, they were for the most 
part. The skies were usually favorable, a fitful hail of 
persecution beating upon them only now and then ; 
not until the accession of Philip Augustus, in 1180, 
did prince and populace, the upper and the nether 
millstone, begin their pitiless grinding. Fora time 
it was less the fanatical hatred of the people, than 
the avarice of the king and lords, that bore hard. 
The treasures of the Hebrews were wrung from them 
in all cruel ways; where torture was unavailing, 
massacre was brought to bear, and at last a plun- 
dered remnant were cast as off-scourings beyond the 
frontiers. The term of exile was short. The re- 
jected crept once more to their homes, to find they 
were henceforth to be held as the serfs of the king— 
themselves and their havings utterly subject to his 
disposal. ' The blessed St. Louis,* whom history and 
legend have so exalted, could sell his Jews like a 
troop of cattle, while he did so tearing from them, 
as a work of blasphemy, the beloved book, which in 


* Reinach: ‘‘ Histoire des Juifsy” p. 160. 


198 THE STORY OF THE FEWS. 


the midst of sufferings was their supreme consola- 
tion, the safeguard of their morality, and the bond 
of their religious unity—the Talmud. St. Louis 
burned the books of the Jews; Philip the Fair 
burned the Jews themselves. In 1306, on the mor- 
row of the fast commemorating the destruction of 
Jerusalem, all the Jews of France, men, women, and 
children, to the number of 100,000, stripped of every 
possession for the benefit of the royal treasury, were 
cast naked out of the land. As in the case of the - 
proscription of Philip Augustus, this, too, did not 
endure. The kingdom languished for want of them, 
and in ten years such as survived were recalled. 
They were scarcely re-established when there was a 
new experience of steel and fire; the ‘“‘ Pastoureaux,” 
bands of fanatical shepherds and malefactors, swept 
them away by thousands. Soon the “Black Pest”’ 
was upon the land; the Israelites protected in a 
measure by observing the hygienic prescriptions of 
their law, felt the sickness somewhat less; that the 
pestilence spared them caused them to be suspected ; 
the spear, the caldron, and the devouring flame were 
again at work until victims failed and exhaustion fell 
upon the persecutors. The cold extortions of heart- 
less princes, enforced by dungeons and the rack— 
the anathemas of bishop and monk—the whirling 
cyclones of popular fury—how among them all could 
a single one be saved! From these times a tragic 
Hebrew lay has been handed down. to us, which 
affords a glimpse into the souls of those who thus 
suffered. It describes the immolation upon the 
funeral pile of a rabbi and his family,—a chant char- 


THE FROWN AND THE CURSE. 199 


acteristically Jewish, pathetic, tenderly affectionate, 
but bitterly scornful to the last, and audacious in 
its imprecations. A few passages from this follow *: 

“Jsrael is in mourning, bewailing its brave mar- 
tyred saints. Thou, O God, dost behold our flowing 
tears. Without thy help we perish! 

“© Sage, who day and night grew pale over the 
Bible, for the Bible you have died. 

“ When his noble wife saw the flames burst forth, 
‘My love calls me,’ she cried. ‘As he died, 
would die.’ His youngest child trembled and wept. 
‘Courage!’ said the elder. ‘In this hour Paradise 
will open.’ And the rabbi’s daughter, the gentle 
maid! ‘Abjure your creed,’ they cry. ‘A faith- 
ful knight stands here who dies for love of thee.’ 
‘Death by fire rather than FenOnnCE my God! it is 
God whom I desire for my spouse.’ 

“<éChoose,’ said the priest, ‘the cross or the tor- 
ture’; but the rabbi said: ‘ Priest, 1 owe my body to 
God, who now requires it,’ and tranquilly he mounts 
the pile. 

“Together in the midst. of the unchained flames, 
like cheerful friends at a festival, they raise high and 
clear the hymn of deliverance, and their feet would 
move in dances were they not bound in fetters. 


“ God of vengeance, chastise the impious ! 

Doth thy wrath sleep ? 

What are the crimes which I am fred to expiate under the torch of - 
these felons? 

Answer, O Lord, for long have we suffered ; answer, forsye count 
the hours !” 


* Reinach, 163. 


200 THE STORY OF THE FEWS. 


We need look no further in that lurid medieval 
world. The Hebrew story is everywhere the same 
substantially—a constant moan as it were, with vari- 
ations indeed, but seldom a note in which we miss the 
quality of agony. In théir best estate, the Jews were 
but chattels of the sovereign, who sometimes fol- 
lowed his interest in protecting them. The king 
kept his Jews as the farmer keeps his bees, creatures 
whose power for mischief is to be feared, but toler- 
ated for their marvellous faculty of storing up some- 
thing held to be of value. As the price of his pro- 
tection, the prince helped himself from the Jew’s 
hoard, sometimes leaving the Jew enough for a live- 
lihood,—enough sometimes, indeed, to maintain a 
rich state. If they increased, however, the potentate 
did not scruple to sell them, as the farmer sells his 
superfluous swarms; ahd if fanaticism drove out in 
the royal mind the sense of greed, as in the case of 
Richard Coeur de Lion, St. Louis, and Isabella, the 
Jew had no defence against a world in arms before 
him. If sickness prevailed, it was because the Jews 
had poisoned the wells; if a Christian child were 
lost, it had been crucified at a Jewish ceremony; if 
a church sacristan was careless, it was the Jews who 
had stolen the Host from the altar, to stab it with 
knives at the time of the Passover. In many periods 
in almost all lands, whoever sinned or suffered, the 
Jew was accused, and the occasion straightway made 
use of for attacks in which hundreds or thousands 
might perish. The wild cry of the rabble, “Hep! 
hep!” said to be derived from the Latin formula, 
“ Eierosolyma est perdita,’ might break out at any — 


* 

| : 

i z 
Ss ____ —---— ee ———__— 


THE FROWN AND THE CURSE. 201 


time. The Jew was made conspicuous, sometimes 
by a badge in the shape of a wheel, red, yellow, or 


- parti-colored, fixed upon the breast. In some lands 


the mark was square and placed upon the shoulder 
or hat. At Avignon the sign was a pointed yellow 
cap; at Prague, a sleeve of the same color; in Italy 
and Germany, a horn-shaped head-dress, red or green. 
This distinguishing mark or dress the Jew was forced 
to wear, and when the “ Hep, Hep!” was heard, 
he might well raise his hands in despair. He might 


- indeed flee to the Turk; but the tender mercies of 


the Turk, tolerant as he was as compared with the 
Christian, were often very cruel. 

As time advanced, the spirit of early Protestantism 
was often no milder toward them than that of the 
old faith, though it may have. refrained from fagots 
and the rack. Men wise before their age have not 
been able to rise to the height of charity for the 
Jew. . 

Said Luther: ‘“ Know, dear Christian, and doubt 
it not, that next to the Devil himself, thou hast no 
more bitter, poisonous, violent enemy than a Jew, 
who is set upon being a Jew,”—a judgment of the 
great reformer perhaps not far wrong, for the Jew is, 
indeed, the best of haters. Luther’s means, however, 
for opposing Hebrew enmity was not the law of kind- 
ness, but to set against it a more energetic enmity. 
In a similar spirit, the great Puritan body, which in 
Cromwell's day lifted England into glory, through 
their representative men, the ministers, set their 
faces steadily against all tolerance of the Jew; and 
it should be counted among the great Protector’s 


_ 202 THE STORY OF THE FEWS. 


chief titles to a noble fame, that he bore down, with 
all the weight of his tremendous personality, the 
stubborn prejudice of his friends and upholders, 
insisted that the decree of Edward I. should be 
abrogated, and that the Israelite should once more 
have a place in England. 

Men standing quite aloof from Christianity, even 
in times close to our own, have had regard scarcely 
kinder. To Gibbon they stand as an obstinate and 
sullen company who merit only his much-celebrated 
sneer. Voltaire could speak of them as ‘“‘an igno- 
rant and barbarous people, who for a long time have 
joined the foulest creed to the most frightful super- 
stition, and most unconquéfable hate against all who 
endure and enrich them.’ Even Buckle can say 
nothing kinder than to call them “that ignorant and 
obstinate race.” 


—— ore ee eee Oe 


—_— sr - -— 


—e 


CHAPTER XIII. 


SHYLOCK—THE WANDERING JEW. 


ONE cannot study this many-volumed record of 
bloody outrage without feeling almost a sense of 
satisfaction, when sometimes the writhing victim 
turns and strikes a dagger into the persecutor who 
crushes him so cruelly. The Jews have not been, 
since the dispersion, a martial, combative race, but 
their history shows in them abundant power to sinite 
when they have chosen to do so. When the Visi- 
gothic king, Sisebut, opened for them the chapter of 
persecution in the Spanish peninsula, they revenged 
themselves by smoothing energetically the path of 
the invading Moors. On Palm-Sunday at Toledo, 
while the people went in procession to church out- 
side the walls, the Jews secretly admitted the Sara- 
cens into the city, joined their host, and fell upon 
the Christians with the sword as they were returning 
home. 

One reads almost with pleasure of the conduct of 
a Jew at Oxford,in 1272. The university was going 
in procession to visit the shrine of St. Frideswide, 
when an audacious figure started from the Jewish 
quarter, wrested the cross from the hands of the 


204 THE STORY OF THE FEWS. 


bearer, and, to the horror of the pious, trampled it, 
with loud execrations, into the mire. 

Among the portrayals of Shakespeare stands one 
figure,—a figure which perhaps has affected us with 
aversion, but which as we view him with minds 
thrilled by the story I have tried to make vivid, be- 
holding him, as he towers from this medizval land- 
scape, whose features are torture-chambers, massacre, 
and the flame-encircled stake, is characterized not 
only by fierce barbaric grandeur, but almost by a 
certain sublime virtue,—the figure of Shylock. 

Cast as our lot is in a humane age, as we go from 
all our softened circumstances to sit for an evening 
before the stage where the great magician reflects 
for us a scene from one of those dreadful times of 
blood and iron which we have left behind us, we 
have, perhaps, felt the flesh fairly creep as that 
arrogant hater, cringing so stealthily, darting so tiger- 
like, reaches with intense greed for the heart of the 
Christian. ‘What news upon the Rialto?” Ah, 
what news might he have heard, indeed! We are 
told only in part how bad match came upon bad 
match—the Goodwin sands breaking to pieces the 
argosies of Antonio,—his treacherous daughter 
squandering the stolen ducats, and bartering for 
monkeys the relics of her dead mother. That was 
all bad enough; but there was other news, of which . 
the poet has told us nothing, which must have come 
to those outcasts in the Italian trading-cities, cling- 
ing, as it were, precariously to the gunwale, with 
cruel clubs raised everywhere to beat off their hold, 
in the midst of the raging sea of persecution and 


SH VLOCK—THE WANDERING FEW. 205 


death which tossed all around them. Tubal could 
have told him more from Genoa than of the heart- 
lessness of Jessica—for instance, of a fleet of his coun- 
trymen, driven from Spain, who arrived starving off 
the harbor ; of their being allowed to land only upon 
the bleak mole—men, women, and tender children, 
beaten by the sea-wind, swept by the waves, so pale 
and emaciated that if they had not moved a little 
they would have passed for corpses; there they were 
allowed to lie with the dear land at hand, till hunger 
and drowning brought the bitter end. This half- 
crazed Jewess just arrived in a Lisbon caravel that 
has brought a cargo to the Rialto—what tale has she 
to tell? That she was cast out of the city; that 
seven children were torn from her to be carried to 
the Lost Islands—remote places to the West, on the 
verge of the world, believed to be alive with serpents 
and dragons; that when she flung herself at the feet 
of the king and begged that she might keep the young- 
est—the babe at her breast,—the king spurned her, 
and the babe’s cries grew faint on her ear as ruffians 
carried it away. This young man whose eyes can 
scarcely meet the gaze of men,as if he were weighed 
down by some unutterable humiliation,—what story 
does Shylock hear from him? “ Under pain of being 
burned at the stake, I was forced to go to the Domini- 
cans of a distant city; to ask that the bones of my 
father, buried there, might be dug up and outraged, as 
having died an infidel; then bring back from them a 
certificate, that at the request of me, the son, the 
dead father had been insulted.” 

To some group of fugitives we may imagine 


206 THE STORY OF THE $¥EWS. 


Shylock exclaiming: ‘And you, poor wanderers of 
our household, so bruised and maimed, whence 
come ye with your rags, your broken bodies, your 
hollow eyes?” “We are from the four quarters of 
Christendom, from the Elbe, the Seine, the Thames, 
the Danube; from the dungeons of nobles; from 
galleys where we were fettered to the oars until the 
chains ate through the bone, and from the edge of, 
cauldrons of boiling oil. We poor remnant have 
escaped. Ask not how many perished!” In a 
sordid pursuit the soul of the Venetian usurer has 
become contaminated, but he is not without the 
nobler affections. He loves his dead wife Leah, his 
lost Jessica,—above all, his sacred nation, so cruelly 
ground,—with passion fervid as the Syrian sun which 
has given to his cheek its swarthy color. The 
simoom of the desert is not so fierce as the hatred in 
his strong heart, which he has been forced to 
smother. He has read well the law of Moses: “An 
eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” Amid the 
humiliations of a lifetime he, for a moment, by 
a strange chance, has a persecutor within his grasp. 
As he crouches for an instant before the attack to 
whet upon his shoe-sole that merciless blade, cannot 
one see in the flash of his dark eye a light that is not 
utterly devilish! It is the lightning of revenge— 
but then revenge may be a distorted justice.. 

Is there not something moving in this portraiture 
of Shylock by his fellow Jew, Heinrich Heine? * 
“When I saw the ‘Merchant of Venice’ given at 
Drury Lane, there stood behind me a beautiful, pale 


* Shakespeare’s ‘“‘ Madchen und Frauen.” 


SHVLOCK—THE WANDERING FEW. . 207 


English lady, who at the end of the fourth act wept 
earnestly, and cried out several times: ‘ The poor 
man is wronged. The poor man is wronged.’ It 
was a face of the noblest Grecian cast, and the eyes 


_were large and black. I have never been able to 


forget them, those great black eyes which wept for 
Shylock! Truly, with the exception of Portia, 
Shylock is the most respectable personage in the 
whole play. The domestic affections appear in him 
most touchingly.” 

Far more than all historic personalities does one 
remember in Venice, Shakespeare’s Shylock. If you 
go over the Rialto, your eye seeks him everywhere, 
and you think he must be concealed there behind 
some pillar or other, with his Jewish gaberdine, with 
his mistrustful, calculating face, and you think you 
hear even his grating voice: “ Three thousands ducats, 
well!”’—I, at least, wandering dreamer as I am, 
looked everywhere on the Rialto trying whether I 
could find Shylock. Seeing him nowhere, I deter- 
mined to seek him inthe synagogue. The Jews were 
just celebrating here their holy day of reconciliation, 
and stood, wrapped in their white robes, with uncan- 
ny bowings of their heads, appearing almost like an 
assembly of ghosts. But although I looked every- 
where, I could not behold the countenance of Shy- 
lock.’ And yet it seemed to meas if he stood con- 
cealed there, behind one of those white robes, praying 
more fervently than the rést of his fellow believers, 
with tempestuous wildness even, at the throne of 
Jehovah. I saw him not! But toward evening, 
when, according to the belief of the Jews, the gates 


208 THE STORY OF THE FEWS. 


of heayen are shut, and no prayer finds admission, 
I heard a voice in which the tears were trickling as 
they were never wept with eyes. It was a sobbing 
which might move a stone to pity; they were tones 
of pain such as could come only from a breast that 
held shut up within itself all the martyrdom which a 
tortured race has endured for eighteen hundred 
years. It was the panting of a soul which sinks 
down, tired to death, before the gates of heaven. 
And this voice seemed well known to me. I felt as 
if I had heard it once, when it lamented in such 
despair, ‘‘ Jessica, my child.” 


The terrible tale of the Jews’ humiliation is com- 
pleted as far as I dare unfold it, and the effect of it 
must be to leave the mind in a fit state to dwell 
upon the pathetic legend of “The Wandering Jew.” 
Of all the old superstitions there is scarcely one so 
sad and picturesque as that of the human being who 
cannot die, but must suffer on through the centuries, 
until the day of judgment. The medieval chroni- 
clers, from the thirteenth century downwards, report 
with undoubting faith the appearances of the poor 
fury-scourged pilgrim, and there are men in the 
world to-day who think the story not impossible. 

According to one version, Cartaphilus, gate- 
keeper of the house of Pilate, as Jesus descended from 
the judgment-hall, pushed the Saviour, bidding him 
go quicker; and Jesus looking back on him with a 
severe countenance said to him: “I am going and 
you shall wait till I return.” 

According to the more common tale, Ahasuerus, a 


Ao fm 


SH YLOCK—THE WANDERING FEW. 209 


shoemaker, had done his best to compass the destruc- 
tion of Jesus, believing him to be a misleader of the 
people. When Christ was condemned and about to 
be dragged past the house of Ahasuerus on his way 
to crucifixion, the shoemaker ran home and called 
together his household that they might havé a look 
at the one about to suffer. He stood in his door- 
way when the troop ascended Calvary. As then 
Christ was led by, bowed under the weight of the 
heavy cross, he tried to rest a little and stood still a 
moment; but the shoemaker, in zeal and rage, and 
for the sake of obtaining credit among the other 
Jews, drove him forward and told him to hasten on 
his way. Jesus, obeying, looked at him and said: 
“T shall stand and rest, but thou shalt go till the last 
day.” At these words the man left his house and 
went forward to behold the crucifixion. “As soon as 
it had taken place, it came upon him that he could 
no more return to Jerusalem, nor see again his wife 
and child, but must go forth into foreign lands one 
after another, a mournful pilgrim. 

So the broken, impenitent figure has been seen— 
sometimes in the throngs of cities, sometimes in 
deserts, sometimes in mountain solitudes, the trage- 
dy of Calvary ever haunting him in rock, in forest, 
in the clouds of heaven, passing ever onward with no 
rest for the sole of his foot, every corner of the 
earth again and again visited. Whenever a hundred 
years have passed, his manhood is renewed for him, 
so that he stands again at thirty, the age at which he 
committed the sin whose expiation is so terrible. 
The accounts are so detailed and circumstaitial, we 


210 THE STORY OF THE JEWS. 


are forced to believe that many a half-crazed man 
has actually made himself and others believe that he 
was the Wandering Jew, and that many an impostor, 
seeking to affect men with the deepest awe, has 
assumed the character. How striking and pictu- 
resque are some of the developments of the concep- 
tion ; for instance, where it becomes combined with 
the myth of the god Odin, and appears as the Wild 
Huntsman ! 

One of the most philosophic students of modern 
times, Jacob Grimm, has taught the world that many 
a fairy tale and many a peasant superstition are 
nothing more or less than the remains of the great 
legends of the old heathen religious faiths, softened 
down, but still living in the souls of the people. 
Grimm and his school would have us believe that the 
phantoms of the mighty Norse gods still haunt the 
modern generations of the Teutonic stock, refusing 
to be exorcised from the popular mind. “ Balder 
the beautiful is dead, is dead,” sings the Swedish 
poet Tegner, after the old saga ; and in like manner 
with Balder, we have believed that Odin and Thor 
and Freya were utterly gone, with the men that 
paid them worship. These students would have us 
believe that the ghosts of the gods, at any rate, re- 
fuse to be laid. Sometimes in blithe and merry 
guise they continue to appear in the souls of men 
belonging to the great races whose forefathers wor- 
shipped them; sometimes the grim circumstance 
that attended them in their former pre-eminence 
is not laid aside. What wonderful grandeur in the 
thought that these rough hands of the old gods 


JEW. 


G 


THE WANDERIN 


212 THE STORY OF THE FEWS. 


refuse to become decrepit through time, or beaten 
off by culture! How they reach round the new. 
altars that have crowded out their own simple fanes, 
because the all-conquering Jew has willed it should 
be so! How they cross the widest oceans to the 
homes. of the farthest wanderers, still haunting, 
phantom-like, the hearts of men whose barbarian 
sires held them dear! 

The superstition of the Wild Huntsman, still 
cherished by many a simple peasant soul, can be 
thus traced back through the centuries to an origin 
in the stormy faith professed by the vikings. The 
fierce rider who presses unsatisfied, attended by his 
troop of deathless hounds, ’mid the roar of the 
winter's blast, through the heavens torn with the 
tempest, in pursuit of the stag that forever flies 
before him, was really the god Odin. As we think 
how the Wandering Jew has become connected with 
this stormy Northern myth, it might seem asif the 
old dispossessed chief of the Norse deities, wrathful 
‘at the usurpation that had reared the new temples 
in place of his own ancient fanes, had caught the 
Jew into the heavens in a spirit of weird revenge, 
compelling him to a companionship with himself in 
his desolate and fruitless quest. 

In this elaboration of the legend of the Wandering 
Jew, Christ asked permission to drink at a horse 
trough in his agony, but was refused—the Jew 
pointing at the same time to the track of a horse’s 
hoof, which was filled with water, as a place where his 
thirst might beslaked. At this point the heathen and 
Christian myth become confused.. The Wandering 


~~ — 
me 


— 


SHVLOCK—THE WANDERING FEW. 213 


Jew, as the Wild Huntsman, must drive forever with 
his train through the fury of the tempest. The 
moaning of the wind at night through the forest— 
about the dwellings of men,—will cause the souls 
of the most unsuperstitious to thrill, as if it were 
filled in some way with the voices of spirits! _ Imagine 
the tumult in the breast of the peasant child of the 
Harz, or the Black Forest, or the rude districts in 
France, who, as the November blast at midnight 
wails and hurtles through the hills, believes it the 
dreary hunt of the everlasting Jew, and sees in the 
torn clouds, by the fitful moonlight, the tails of his 
phantom horses, the forms of his dogs, the stream- 
ing of his own white beard, careering forward in this 
eternal chase! : 

There is a tale current among the simple people of 
Switzerland which, to my mind, is as weird and thrill- 
ing as this. Whoever has climbed from Zermatt to 
the Gorner Grat, and stood with the snowy mass of 
Monte Rosa on the left, the Weisshorn on the right, 
and directly in front the bleakest and boldest of the 
Alpine peaks, the Matterhorn—its sublimity deep- 
ened and made dreadful by the story with which 
it is associated, of the men who have fallen from its 
precipices, four thousand feet to the ice below,—who- 
ever has done this will well believe that there are 
few spots on earth more full of dreary grandeur. 
There is a bald, lonely mountain-spur confronting 
all the awful desolation, upon which the Wandering 
Jew was once seen standing, solitary, his haggard 
figure relieved against the heavens, before the 
abashed eyes of the dwellers in the vale who 


214 THE STORY OF THE $EWS. 


looked.up. He had been there before far back in 
the dim centuries; again in the fulness of time he 
will be seen standing there, his tattered garments 
and dishevelled beard given to the winds, his bat- 
tered staff in hands shrivelled and wrinkled till they 
seem like talons, bent and furrowed by his thousand- 
fold accumulated woes. It will be on the judgment- 
day ; on that bleak summit he is to receive release 
from his exceptional doom. 

We shall best interpret the myth if we understand 
the Wandering Jew to be the Hebrew race typified—- 
its deathless course, its transgression, its centuries of 
expiating agony, in this way made for us concrete 
and vivid. 


CHAPTER. XIN. 


THE CASTING OUT OF A PROPHET. 


THE writer who aims at a fair presentation of the 
sorrowful subject that has occupied us, must take 
pains to bring into a clear light the palliations which 
most certainly can be urged in mitigation of this 
horrible, widespread ruthlessness. The Christian 
world was just emerging from the barbarism of 
the dark ages: utter intolerance of all other creeds 
than that which it professed itself appeared to be 
a ‘paramount duty. Without doubt, nothing could 
be more exasperating than the attitude of the He- 
brews toward the surrounding Gentiles, whenever, 
for a moment the clutch was taken from his throat, 
and he was in a measure free to follow his own 
impulses. The heart of the Jew can be. very un- 
amiable; from the mountain of his scorn, the Gen- 
tile has seemed to him worthy of contempt more 
often than of any softer feeling. Toward the breth- 
ren of his own household indeed, the Jew has not sel- 
dom been unkind. Until the army of Titus could be 
descried from the pinnacles of the Temple, the fac- 
tions in Jerusalem wrangled and slew one another. 
We are about .to see how the synagogue excluded 
a most noble spirit with blasting anathemas. In all 


216 THE STORY OF THE $EWS. 


ages, in fact, the grandest prophets of Israel have 
been too often cast out and stoned, for of no other 
race of men is the utterance of the disheartened 
Faust any truer: 


‘* The few by whom high truth was recognized, 
Who foolishly their full hearts left unguarded, 
Revealing to the crowd their noble vision, 
Have always banished been, and crucified.” * 


One’s wrath at the medieval Christian is some- 
what lessened, on reading the story of the treatment 
accorded by his own brethren to the illustrious 
Spinoza. 

But before we take up the tale of the great teacher 
whom his people persisted in rejecting, let us glance 
at a false prophet, whom in the same age they seemed 
very willing to accept. Their blindness is as plainly 
shown, perhaps, by exhibiting the leader they were 
ready to follow, as the leader whom they reviled and 
cast off. Throughout their history, the Jews have 
constantly maintained the ancient Messianic hope— 
a hope again and again disappointed. The twelfth, 
the thirteenth, and the sixteenth centuries produced 
impostors who claimed to be the Prince of the House 
of David, destined to restore the glory of Zion; such 
too in the more ancient time was Bar Cocheba, the 
champion of the reign of Hadrian. No false Messiah, 
however, has been so successful as Sabbatai Zevi,t a 

* “* Die wenigen die was davon erkannt, 
Die théricht g’nug ihr volles Herz nicht wahrten, 
Dem Pébel ihr Gefiihl, ihr Schauen offenbarten, 


Hat man von je gekreuzigt und verbannt,” 
+ Reinach, p. 270, etc. 


THE CASTING OUT OF A PROPHET. 217 


Jew of Smyrna, born in 1626. He was the son of a 
commercial agent employed by an English house; his 
person was attractive, his manner austere and reti- 
cent; by fasts, ablutions, and zealous attention to 
the rites in general, he early made himself marked. 
At the age of twenty-five he announced himself as 
Messiah, and followed by a troop of disciples which 
constantly grew larger, he travelled from city to city 
through Greece, Syria, and Egypt. A mad fanatic, 
Nathan of Gaza, went before him to announce his 
coming. At Cairo, meeting a young Polish Jewess 
of rare beauty, who had escaped by miracle from the 
massacres of the Cossacks, and afterwards from a 
Catholic cloister in which she had taken refuge, 
Sabbatadi married her, declaring that she had been 
destined for him from all eternity. Returning to 
Smyrna, he took openly, in full synagogue, the title 
of Messiah, exciting transports of enthusiasm. The 
feeble protestations of a few rabbis of good sense 
were smothered in the popular clamior. The renown 
of the new prophet spread everywhere; he soon 
counted ardent adherents at Amsterdam, at Ham- 
burg, even at London. Zealots in many places de- 
stroyed their dwellings, collected their wealth, and 
prepared to set out for the East, where at length 
Israel was to be restored to glory. In Persia, the 
Jewish laborers refused to cultivate longer the earth. 
A mad inspiration seemed to have seized upon the 
whole Hebrew race. 

The audacity of Sabbataéi became stimulated by 
his success. He made daring changes in the Jewish 
ritual, abrogating and transferring fasts and feasts 


218 THE STORY OF THE FEWS., 


ancient as the race itself; he divided the crowns of 
the earth among his brothers and friends, reserving 
for himself the title of King of Kings. At length 
‘ he set out for Constantinople, where, he declared, 
his mission was to be accomplished. The Turkish 
Government, which left him unmolested while the 
excitement which he created was distant, now seized 
upon him, threw him into chains, and imprisoned 
him at the Castle of the Dardanelles. 

The fidelity of the proselytes was not at all dis- 
turbed by this misfortune. The cunning Turks saw 
their chance. The captivity of Sabbatdicame at last 
to resemble a sumptuous hospitality. He lived in 
state in the castle, whither Jews hastened by thou- 
sands to contemplate his divine features, taxed 
heavily meantime by the Mussulmans, who managed 
shrewdly to reap advantages. A rabbi from Poland 
finally denounced him as an impostor and disturber 
of the peace. The Sultan, Mahomet IV., had Sab- 
batdi brought before him, caused him to be fastened 
naked to a post, and commanded archers to shoot at 
him. At the same time he promised to become a 
Jew, if the “Son of God,” by a miracle which ought 
to be easy to him, should render his body invulner- 
able to the arrows. Sabbatai immediately quailed. 
The alternative being offered him of becoming a Mus- 
sulman or being instantly driven forth, he adopted 
the turban without hesitation, adored the prophet of 
Medina, and received the name of Mahomet Effendi. 

The stupor of his followers may be imagined, 
The rabbis, undeceived at last, hurried to excommu- 
nicate his partisans. Faithful adherents even now 


THE CASTING OUT OF A PROPHET. 219 


remained to him in Africa, Italy, Germany, and Po- 
land. Some declared he had not turned Turk, that 
his shadow only remained upon the earth, while his 
body had ascended to heaven. Others maintained 
that his passage through Islamism, as well as his pre- 
ceding trials and experiences, were part of his mis- 
sion. This view Sabbataéi encouraged, conforming 
externally to Mussulman rites, but secretly return- 
ing to the synagogue and posing anew as a fervent 
Israelite. The hypocrite was unmasked: the Sultan 


-contemptuously gave him his life, and he died at last 


in obscurity. 


At the very hour when infatuated Israel had 
abused herself most deeply, pouring out her venera- 
tion at the feet of the wretched charlatan of Smyrna, 
she cast forth from herself one of the most illustrious 
of her sons, a spirit capable of the highest leadership, 
wise, and of the purest beauty. 

It was Holland, just set free by the heroism of its 
people from the bigot grip of Spain, which led the 
way among the countries of Europe in the new path 
of toleration. Hither flocked in the seventeenth 
century the oppressed and the outcasts of all na- 
tions,—the Puritan from England, sore from the 
persecution of the Stuarts,—the free-thinker and 
Huguenot from France, just escaped from the stake 
in the Catholic reaction,—the bolder and finer spirits 
of Italy, Germany, Poland, whom neither bribe nor 
brow-beating could reduce to conformity. Hither, 
too, came the foot-sore and down-hearted Jew, mak- 
ing at length shrines for the sacred rolls of the Law 


220 THE STORY OF THE FEWSs. 


which were not to be desecrated, and taking breath 
from the scourge in the noble cities whose atmos- 
phere was sweet and bracing with liberty. The 
Israelitish aristocracy are the “ Sephardim,” the band 
that in Spain and Portugal contributed so much to 
the greatness of those countries in their golden 
period. Of this Hebrew aristocracy among the Span- 
ish Jews, in Amsterdam, early in the seventeenth 
century, was born Baruch or Benedict Spinoza. 

The name of Spinoza is one burdened long with 
undeserved reproach. He was falsely accused of 
atheism, whereas, as his vindicators justly claim, he 
should rather be called a God-intoxicated man. 
Lewes, a writer who has no sympathy with his 
philosophical system, but a great admiration for his 
vast intellectual power and noble character, gives in 
a picture full of brilliant lights the story of his career. 
He describes him as “a little Jewish boy playing 
with his sisters on the Burgwal of Amsterdam, close 
to the Portuguese synagogue. His face is mild and 
ingenuous; his eyes small, but bright, quick, and 
penetrative, his dark hair flowing in luxuriant curls 
over his neck and shoulders. Amsterdam is noisy 
with the creaking of cordage, the bawling of sailors, 
and the busy trafficking of traders. The Zuyder 
Zee is crowded with vessels laden with precious 
stores from all quarters of the globe. The canals 
which ramify that city, like a great arterial system, 
are blocked up with boats and barges, the whole 
scene vivid with the greatness and the littleness of 
commerce. The parents of Spinoza were from mer- 
cantile families, among the fugitives from Spain. 


SPINOZA. 


222 THE STORY OF THE FEWS. 


having their part in all this commercial bustle; and 
the lively boy would, it was supposed, like his ances- 
tors, play a part upon the market and exchange.” 
His passion for study, however, and the brightness 
of his mind induced his parents to educate him as a 
rabbi. Upon the study of Talmud and Old Testa- 
ment Spinoza entered with zeal, and at fourteen, 
even, is said to have rivalled almost all the doctors 
in the exactitude and extent of his knowledge. 

Great hopes were entertained of the youth, hopes 
which gave way to fears when the rabbis discovered 
that the boy was developing a questioning spirit 
whose pertinacity they were unable to satisfy. He 
was summoned before the synagogue, and at length 
threatened with excommunication.* An offer of an 
annual pension of a thousand florins was made to 
him, if he would only consent to be silent and assist 
from time to time in the services of the synagogue, 
which, however, was refused with scorn. 

In truth, the learning which the boy was set to 
master was excessively intricate and fantastic. Vast 
respect was paid at that time among the Hebrews to 
the “ Cabala,” about which a word must be said. The 
pious Jew of that day believed that, aside from its 
obvious signification, every tittle of Scripture had its 
symbolical meaning, and a strange collection of rhap- 
sodies and wild imaginings had been growing up 
from the thirteenth century, which were generally 
received as an authentic interpretation of this sec- 
ondary sense. From this source all Jewry was 
overrun with demonology, thaumaturgy, and other 


* “ Life of Spinoza,” by Colerus. 


THE CASTING OUT OF A PROPHET. 223 


strange fancies.* In Spinoza’s generation this had 
its most extravagant development. It was, indeed, 
unmitigated nonsense, whose puerilities, if not dis- 
gusting, were ludicrous. The clear-brained youth, 
as he matured, rejected it all, withdrew from the 
synagogue, and made ready to win his bread by 
learning the trade of polishing lenses for optical in- 
struments, a craft in which he became dexterous. 

The discipline of the rabbis was severe. Shortly 
before, a Jew, who had incurred the displeasure of 
the elders, had been forced to lie across the threshold 
of the synagogue, presenting his body to the feet of 
the congregation as it passed out. In some such 
way they would have been glad to humiliate Spinoza. 
No penance could, however, be imposed upon him, 
for he had withdrawn himself. But fanaticism felt 
justified in trying another means. One evening as 
Spinoza was coming out of the theatre, he was 
startled by the fierce expression of a dark face, 
thrust eagerly before his. A knife gleamed in the 
air, and he had barely time to parry the blow. It 
fell upon his chest, but fortunately, deadened in its 
force, only tore his coat. Thus he escaped assassi- 
nation, but he could still be excommunicated and 
cursed. 

“ The day of excommunication at length arrived, 
and a vast concourse assembled to witness the awful 
ceremony. It began by the solemn and silent 
lighting of a quantity of black wax-candles, and by 
opening the tabernacle wherein were deposited the 
books of the law of Moses. Thus were the dim 


* Pollock: ‘‘ Life of Spinoza,” 


224 THE STORY OF THE EWS. 


imaginations of the faithful prepared for all the 
horror of the scene. The chief-rabbi, the ancient 
friend and master, now the fiercest enemy, of the 
condemned, was to order the execution. He stood 
there pained, but implacable; the people fixed their 
eager eyes upon him. High above the chanter rose 
and chanted forth in loud, lugubrious tones the 
words of execration; while from the opposite side 
another mingled with these curses the thrilling 
sounds of the trumpet. And now the black candles 
were reversed, and were made to melt drop by drop 
into a huge tub filled with blood.” * 

Then came the final anathema. “ With the judg- 
ment of the angels and of the saints, we excommuni- 
cate, cut off, curse, and anathematize Baruch de 
Espinoza, with the consent of the elders and of all 
this holy congregation, in the presence of the holy 
books:. by the 613 precepts which are written 
therein, with the anathema wherewith Joshua 
cursed Jericho, with the curse which Elisha laid 
upon the children, and with all the curses which are 
written in the law. Cursed be he by day, and cursed 
be he by night. Cursed be he in sleeping, and cursed 
be he in waking, cursed in going out, and cursed in 
coming in. The Lord shall not pardon him, the 
wrath and fury of the Lord shall henceforth be 
kindled against this man, and shall lay upon him 
all the curses which are written in the book of the 
Law. The Lord shall destroy his name under the 
sun, and cut him off for his undoing from all the 
tribes of Israel, with all the curses of the firmament 


"* Lewes: ‘‘ Biog. Hist. of Philosophy.” 


$$$ TT 


THE CASTING OUT OF A PROPHET. 225 


which are written in the book of the Law. But ye 
that cleave unto the Lord your God, live all of you 
this day. And we warn you that none may speak 
with him by word of mouth nor by writing, nor show 
any favor to him, nor be under one roof with him, 
nor come within four cubits of him, nor read any 
paper composed or written by him.” * 

As the blasting words were uttered, the lights 
were all suddenly immersed in the blood, a cry of 


* religious horror and execration burst from all; and 


in that solemn darkness, and to those solemn curses, 
they shouted Amen, Amen! Thus the blinded race 
cast forth the noblest man of his generation, as it 
had done in ages before—a man whom, as in the 
preceding time, the Gentile world was to adopt and 
love, to set upon a pinnacle indeed as a guide and 
benefactor. 

There is a singular elevation about the life of 
Spinoza henceforth. His legal right to inherit a 
portion of his father’s estate was denied. He estab- 
lished it, but handed the share over to his sisters, 
who had disputed his claim, magnanimously over- 
looking their enmity. The handsome fortune which 
a friend desired to leave him he refused to receive; 
he declined an ample pension from Louis XIV.; he 
refused a position at the University of Heidelberg, 
as compromising his independence. By polishing his 
crystals he was able to keep soul and body together, 
while he devoted his main strength to speculations 
as profound as have ever occupied the brain of man. 
He was serenely brave. The great Condé having 


* Pollock : ‘‘ Life of Spinoza.” 


/ 


226 THE STORY OF THE FEWS. 


invaded Holland with a French army, sent for 
Spinoza, whose reputation had interested him, to 
visit him in his camp. The mob, hearing of the in- 
tercourse, suspected the philosopher of being a spy, 
and were about to tear him in pieces. He showed 
himself ready to face their rage with a heart un- 
daunted. His character was made up of generous 
simplicity and heroic forbearance. He taught the 
learned world the doctrines he had elaborated with 
endless toil; but he taught children to be regular in 
their attendance on divine service. He had no un- 
wise proselytism which would destroy old convictions 
in minds unfitted to receive others. One day his 
hostess, a simple unlettered Christian, asked him if 
he believed she could be saved by her religion. He 
answered: “‘ Your religion is a good one, you ought 
not to seek another, nor doubt that yours will pro- 
cure your salvation, provided you add to your piety 
the tranquil virtues of domestic life.” * 

He died when but forty-five, the peer of the sub- 
limest leaders of the human race. It would be out 
of place here to attempt to outline the vast system 
which forms his title to immortal fame. He was 
persecuted in life and in death. The charge of 
atheism, with which his fame has long been burdened, 
he regarded as the grossest and most wicked of 
calumnies, and great champions at last arose to vin- 
dicate his memory. It was, indeed, his teaching 
that there was but one infinite substance, and that 
is God. Whatever is, is in God; and without Him 
nothing can be conceived. He is the universal being, 


* Colerus, 


——Eo 


THE CASTING OUT OF A PROPHET. 227 


of which all things are the manifestations. He is 
the sole substance; every thing else is a mode; yet 
without substance, mode cannot exist. God, viewed 
under the attributes of infinite substance, is the 
natura naturans, that which forever creates; God, 
viewed as a manifestation, as the modes under which 
his attributes appear, is the mwatura naturata, that 
which is created. He is the cause of all things, and 
that immanently, not transiently. This, according to 
G. H. Lewes, is the heart and pith of the system of 
Spinoza,—certainly not atheism,—certainly not ma- 
terialism, for though God is called substance (sué- 
stans), it is only in a high spiritual sense which the 
thinker is careful to make clear. If the scheme 
deserves to be called pantheism, the destroying of 
the creation while God is made all in all, a few cita- 
tions will show that the entertaining of these ideas 
was not inconsistent in Spinoza, with an active and 
beautiful spirit of humanity. 

““He who lives according to reason endeavors 
to the utmost of his power to outweigh another 
man’s hate, anger, or despite against him with love 
or highmindedness. * * * He who chooses to 
avenge wrong by requiting it with hatred is assur- 
edly miserable. But he who strives to cast out 
hatred by love, may fight his fight in joy and confi- 
dence. As for those he doth conquer, they yield to 
him joyfully, and that not because their strength 
faileth, but because it is increased. 

“A man who desires to help others by counsel or 
deeds, so that they may together enjoy the chief 
good, will be very forward to win their love to him, 


228 THE STORY OF THE FEWS. 


but not to draw them into admiration of him. In 
common talk he will eschew telling of men’s faults, 
and will speak but sparingly of human weakness. 
But he will speak at large of man’s virtue and power, 
and the means of perfecting the same, that thus men 
may endeavor, not from fear and disgust, but wholly 
in joyfulness, to live, so far as in them lies, after the 
commandment of reason.’ * 

The biographer of Spinoza calls this “a lofty 
refinement of the fundamental duty of good-will to 
men, which is not to be found, so far as I know, in any 
other moralist.’”” The tone of the passage is declared 
to be like that of Marcus Aurelius, but there is no 
exact parallel. 

Very lofty too is the cunts of this pure sage as 
regards the motive which should influence man in the 
pursuit of virtue. Good must be done not through 
any hope of reward or fear of punishment, for the 
reward of virtue is virtue itself. As we should 
expect, Spinoza was a firm and consistent supporter 
of political liberty, disposed to go much farther 
in allowing individual thought, habits, and enter- 
prise to have free scope, than the statesmen of his 
time. Rising above the Jewish prejudices in which 
he had been nurtured, he regarded Jesus as a man 
indeed, but a man of unique and transcendent moral 
genius, above Moses and the prophets. With broad- 
minded tolerance he declares: “For Turks and 
heathen, if they worship God by justice and charity 
to their neighbors, I believe they have the spirit of 
Christ and are saved.”’ 


* Pollock. 


THE CASTING OUT OF A PROPHET. 229 


If we trace fora moment the history of Spinoza’s 
fame we find him at first hated and denounced, but 
never forgotten. The unlearned held him in holy 
horror, and the learned refused to do him justice. 
Leibnitz, his contemporary, and at one time his cor- 
respondent, depreciated him ; Locke speaks of him 
as “justly decried”; and Bishop Berkeley refers to 
his “wild imaginations.” It was the great Lessing, 
in the middle of the eighteenth century, who first 
elevated Spinoza to a lofty position; he declared 
that there was no philosophy but his. Goethe 
accepted with no less enthusiasm the outcast Jew, 
being drawn especially by his boundless unselfish- 
ness. He finds the saying marvellous: ‘ Whoso 
truly loves God must not expect that God will love 
him in return.” In our own century he has held the 
hearts of the most gifted of the world. It was 
Novalis who called him the God-intoxicated man. 
Heine and Fichte were penetrated by his influence. 
Hegel declared that “‘to be a philosopher one must 
first be a Spinozist.’’ Auerbach, who translated 
him, believed that “Spinoza’s mind had fed the 
thought of two centuries.” Coleridge brought it 
to pass that he received at last a fair appreciation 
from English thinkers, and in connection with this 
introduction an amusing story is told by Coleridge 
himself. 

It was the troublous time of the French Revolu- 
tion, and as the young Englishman returned from 
the Continent, and with little reticence proceeded to 
pour out wild ideas into the ear of his friend Words- 
worth, who was also known to entertain extravagant 


230 THE STORY OF THE FEWS, 


opinions, a worthy magistrate of Somersetshire, felt 
it to be his duty as an Englishman to cause these 
mad-brained men to be watched. A spy was set 
upon them, who, after a careful investigation, re- 
ported Coleridge and Wordsworth as after all loyal 
men. ‘He had repeatedly hid himself for hours 
together behind a bank at the seaside (our favorite 
seat), and overheard our conversation. At first he 
fancied that we were aware of our danger, for he 
often heard me talk of our ‘Spy Nozy’ which he 
was inclined to interpret of himself, and of a remark- 
able feature belonging to him, but he was speedily 
convinced it was the name of a man who had made 
a book, and lived long ago.” 

The best England of Coleridge’s day was as 
densely ignorant of the high-souled philosopher, as — 
was the worthy spy. But appreciation came. 
Shelley drew from him inspiration ; Maurice, Froude, 
and Matthew Arnold, in our time, have done him 
justice. Not less so Taine and Renan in France. 
At the present time there is no more honored name 
among all the heroes of abstract thought. Says the 
pious Schleiermacher: ‘Sacrifice with me to the 
manes of the holy but repudiated Spinoza. The 
great spirit of the world penetrated him; the Infi- 
nite was his beginning and his end; the universe his 
only and eternal love. He was filled with religion 
and religious feeling, and therefore it is that he 
stands alone, unapproachable—the master in his art, 
but elevated above the profane world, without 
adherents, and without even citizenship.” Says G. 
H. Lewes: ‘‘ He was a brave and simple man, earn- 


THE CASTING OUT OF A PROPHET. 231 


estly meditating on the deepest subjects that can 
“occupy the human race. He produced a system 
which will ever remain as one of the most astounding 
efforts of abstract speculation—a system that has 
been decried for nearly two centuries as the most 
iniquitous and blasphemous of human invention; 
and which has now, within the last sixty years, 
become the acknowledged parent of a whole nation’s 
philosophy, ranking among its admirers some of the 
most pious and illustrious intellects of the age.”