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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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,

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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,

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. 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

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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