Imatges de pÓgina
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å still more ridiculous example of the extravagance of superstition.

Another law of the Jews, equally strange, is their proof of adultery. A woman accused by her husband must be presented to the priests, and she is made to drink of the waters of jealousy, mixed with wormwood and dust. If she is innocent, the water makes her more beautiful and more fruitful; if she is guilty, her eyes start from her head, her belly swells, and she bursts before the Lord.

We shall not here enter into the details of all these sacrifices, which were nothing more than the operations of ceremonial butchers; but it is of great importance to remark another kind of sacrifice too common in those barbarous times. It is expressly ordered, in the twentyseventh chapter of Leviticus, that all men, vowed in anathema to the Lord, be immolated: they “shall surely be put to death ;" such are the words of the text. Here is the origin of the story of Jepthah, whether his daughter was really immolated, or the story was copied from that of Iphegenia. Here too is the source of the verse made by Saul, who would have immolated his son, but that the army, less superstitious than himself, saved the innocent young man's life.

It is then but too true, that the Jews, according to their law, sacrificed human victims. This act of religion is in accordance with their manners; their own books represent them as slaughtering without mercy all that came in their way, reserving only the virgins for their use.

It would be very difficult (and should be very unimportant) to know at what time these laws were digested into the form in which we now have them. That they are of very high antiquity, is enough to inform us how gross and ferocious the manners of that antiquity

were.

SECTION III,

The Dispersion of the Jews. It has been pretended that the dispersion of this people had been foretold, as a punishment for their refusing to acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Messiah; the asserters affecting to forget, that they had been dispersed throughout the known world long before Jesus Christ. The books that are left us of this singular nation make no mention of a return of the twelve tribes transported beyond the Euphrates by Teglat Phalasar and his successor Salmanasar; and it was six hundred years after, that Cyrus sent back to Jerusalem the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, which Nebuchodonosor had brought away into the provinces of his empire. The Acts of the Apostles certify, that fifty-three days after the death of Jesus Christ, there were Jews from every nation under heaven assembled for the feast of Pentecost. St. James writes to the twelve dispersed tribes; and Josephus and Philo speak of the Jews as very numerous throughout the east.

It is true, that considering the carnage that was made of them under some of the Roman emperors, and the slaughter of them so often repeated in every christian state, one is astonished that this people not only still exists, but is at this day no less numerous than it was formerly. Their numbers must be attributed to their exemption from bearing arms, their ardour for marriage, their custom of contracting it in their families early, their law of divorce, their sober and regular way of life, their abstinence, their toil, and their exercise.

Their firm attachment to the Mosaic law is no less remarkable, especially when we consider their frequent apostacies when they lived under the government of their kings and their judges; and Judaism is

now, of all the religions in the world, the one most rarely abjured-which is partly the fruit of the persecu. tions it has suffered. Its followers, perpetual martyrs to their creed, have regarded themselves with progressively increasing confidence as the fountain of all sanctity: looking upon us as no other than rebellious Jews, who have uttered the law of God, and put to death or torture those who received it from his hand.

Indeed, if while Jerusalem and its temple existed, the Jews were sometimes driven from their country by the vicissitudes of empires, they have still more fres

quently been expelled through a blind zeal from every country in which they have dwelt since the progress of christianity and mahometanism. They themselves compare their religion to a mother, upon whom her two daughters, the christian and the mahometan, have inflieted a thousand wounds. But, how ill soever she has been treated by them, she still glories in having given them birth. She makes use of them both to embrace the whole world, while her own venerable age embraces all time.

It is singular, that the christians pretend to have accomplished the prophecies by tyrannising over the Jews by whom they were transmitted. We have already seen how the inquisition banished the Jews from Spain. Obliged to wander from land to land, from sea to sea, to gain a livelihood; everywhere declared incapable of possessing any landed property, or holding any office, they have been obliged to disperse, and roam from place to place, unable to establish themselves permanently in any country, for want of support, of power to maintain their ground, and of knowledge in the art of war. Trade, a profession long despised by most of the nations of Europe, was, in those barbarous ages, their only resource; and as they necessarily grew rich by it, they were treated as infamous usurers.

Kings whó could not ransack the purses of their subjects, put the Jews, whom they regarded not as citizens, to torture.

What was done to them in England may give some idea of what they experienced in other countries. King John, being in want of money, had the rich Jews in his kingdom imprisoned. One of them, having had seven of his teeth drawn one after another, to obtain his property, gave, on losing the eighth, a thousand marks of silver. Henry III. extorted from Aaron, a Jew of York, fourteen thousand marks of silver, and ten thousand for his queen. He sold the rest of the Jews of his country to his brother Richard, for the term of one year, in order, says Matthew Paris, that this count might embowel those whom his brother had flayed.

În France, they were put in prison, plundered, sold, VOL. IV.

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accused of magic, of sacrificing children, of poisoning the fountains. They were driven out of the kingdom ; they were suffered to return for money; and even while they were tolerated, they were distinguished from the rest of the inhabitants by marks of infamy. And, by an inconceivable whimsicality, while in other countries the Jews were burned to make them embrace christianity, in France the property of such as became christians was confiscated, Charles IV., by an edict given at Balville, April 4, 1392, abrogated this tyrannical custom, which, according to the Benedictine Mabillon, had been introduced for two reasons:

First, to try the faith of these new converts, as it was but too common for those of this nation to feign submission to the gospel for some personal interest, without internally changing their belief.

Secondly, because, as they derived their wealth chiefly from usury, the purity of christian morals, appeared to require them to make a general restitution, which was effected by confiscation.

But the true reason of this custom, which the author of the Spirit of Laws has so well developed, was a sort of " droit d'amortissement”—a redemption, for the sovereign or the seigneurs, of the taxes which they levied on the Jews, as mortmainable serfs, whom they succeeded; for they were deprived of this benefit when the latter were converted to the christian faith.

At length, being incessantly proscribed in every country, they ingeniously found the means of saving their fortunes, and making their retreats for ever secure. Being driven from France under Philip the Long in 1318, they took refuge in Lombardy; there they gave to the merchants bills of exchange on those to whom they had entrusted •their effects at their depar.. ture, and these were discharged.

The admirable invention of bills of exchange sprang from the extremity of despair; and then, and not until then, commerce was enabled to elude the efforts of violence, and maintain itself throughout the world.

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SECTION IV.

In Answer to some Objections. Letters to Joseph, Ben, Jonathan, Aaron, Mathatai,

and David Wincker. *

FIRST LETTER.

Gentlemen,- When, forty-four years ago, your countryman Medina became a bankrupt in London, being twenty thousand francs in my debt, he told me that “ it was not his fault;" that“ he was unfortunate;" that “ he had never been one of the children of Belial;" that “ he had always endeavoured to live as a son of God”—that is, as an honest man, a good Israelite. I was affected; I embraced him; we joined in the praise of God; and I lost eighty per cent. You ought to know that I never hated your

nation; I hate no one; not even Fréron.

Far from hating, I have always pitied you. If, like my protector good pope Lambertini, I have sometimes bantered a little, I am not therefore the less sensitive. I wept, at the age of sixteen, when I was told that a mother and her daughter had been burned at Lisbon for having eaten standing a little lamb, cooked with lettuce, on the fourteenth day of the red moon; and I can assure you, that the extreme beauty which this girl was reported to have possessed had no share in calling forth my tears, although it must have increased the spectators' horror for the assassins, and their pity for the victim.

I know not how it entered my head to write an epic poem at the age of twenty. (Do you know what an epic poem is? For my part I then knew nothing of the matter). The legislator Montesquieu had not yet written his Persian Letters, which you reproach me with having commented on; but I had already of myself said, speaking of a monster well known to your

* See the work intitled " One Christian against Six Jews.". Mélanges Historiques, tom. i.

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