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have spoken more highly in the author's praise, than his own continued and laboured defence. But it was for Jonson to instruct a whimsical and barbarous public; and if his instructions were a punishment, it fell far short of what their presumption merited. That he has left these proofs of skill to us is, however, highly fortunate, as they enable him to become far more serviceable to us, than he would have been had he been a dramatist only. Indeed, there is something so noble in a great man's demand of the rights of his greatness, that the cause is itself a drama of no mean interest.
These then are the twins of Jonson's first and most laboured stile; they are literally a pair of plays: they are the works of a master, before popularity has made him indolent, or taught him to look for success to any means but those which deserve it. There is throughout a judgment of design, which renders every part of the complicated plots clear and perspicuous. The very sentiments are proper for Comedy: they may be serious, but they are only directed to the follies of mankind, and such vices as are, from their sordid unpoetic nature, unworthy of tragic representation. To say that this is a field of great utility, most ably cultivated, is affording a praise far too common-place. If the decisive intuition of Shakspeare is denied to these plays; if his bold colouring and sketchy power, that created a figure at a stroke, would be sought for here in vain; there is no want even of the greatly fanciful or the tremendous in conceptiontrue it is, the effort may have been more painful and less instantaneous, but industry and science have supplied what was wanting to natural strength. The artifices of ingenuity and judgment were at length enabled to rival original capacity. The imitation of acknowledged greatness gave them immediate, certain, and intrinsic, worth. The mind, in their perusal, may not be constantly expanded, but it is always corrected. Were the tribes of creeping rhymesters and would-be dramatists of the present day to explore his works-if we should not be delivered from their tediousness, we might from their absurdity. If the great men, which this age has undoubtedly produced, would profit by his example, they might learn that severity of style is the concomitant of severity of manners, and that the rock-based edifice of Jonson is firm from its simplicity, and reverend because unpolluted. They have condescended to build airy castles of unreal fancies, which, though delightful, are not permanent-day-dreams of meretricious beauty, which obscure the sun of truth, but which, when his beams shine forth, vanish into nothingness. All he had, he exerted to the noblest purpose, the reformation of mankind. His wit was human, for its constant endeavour was to wean us from our follies. The cause of justice he alike upheld in morals and poetry, and was equally
VOL. 1. PART II.
reckless in laying bare the front of vice, and exposing the dogmas of conceited ignorance. Though that age only could give him birth and nourishment, he has, if studied, lived for this—he gives us a test of the good old virtue for our morality, and an example of the only worthy use of heaven-born genius for the exercise of our talents.
nglia Juddlected from Records iev, L.L.DE
ART. III. Anglia Judaica: or the History and Antiquities of the
Jews in Englund, collected from all our Historians, both printed and manuscript, as also from the Records in the Tower, and other Publick Repositories, by D'Bloissiers Tovey, L.L.D.; and Principal of New Inn Halt, in Oxford. Oxford, 1738.
The Jews have been, from the earliest times, in possession of the most common sources of interest and sympathy—they have been enlightened when others were in a state of darkness —they have been the peculiar and chosen people of the Deity, when their neighbours were grovelling idolaters—their great lawgiver impressed upon them indelible marks of distinction from every nation, and, from the time of Moses, they have been a separated, peculiar, and singular race—they have been the sport of power, and the butt of ridicule and malice—they have been tortured, exiled, enslaved, persecuted, all but exterminated, and yet they have borne their sufferings with an unshrinking fortitude, and adhered in foreign lands, without a country, a home, or a government, to the laws of their ancestors, without giving up a tittle either to the menaces of authority or the blandishments of luxury. The Jewish character, if it be unamiable and disagreeable, is the creature of the circumstances by which it has been jostled and pushed about. But, “ bann'd and barr’d” as it has been from all Christian sympathies, it is gratifying to the lover of human nature to observe, that it has - not been materially injured, nor much if at all deteriorated below the general level of the human race, as found in civilized countries. Shut out from the learned professions and more elevated walks of life, they have been driven to traffic, and to the most corrupting kind of traffic too, the dealing in money, for their chief support; the natural consequence of which is, a narrowing of the affections, and a chaining down of the imagination to the grossest considerations of profit and loss. This influence, however, has been powerfully opposed by the romance of their history, by the proud and elevating thoughts reflected from a long line of ancestry. The Jew is a captive in a foreign land, yearly looking for a glorious deliverer; he is the last relic of an illus
trious race, which is coeval with the world—the nations about him are infantine, when compared with the hoary age of Judaism. He is a member of a small band, amid a world of aliens; and the ties of kindred are therefore stronger, and the social affections more animated and called into action, than in the case of a Christian, who meets a brother in every man he meets. Assembled in their synagogue, built after the fashion of the temple of Solomon, and looking towards the east, their distant home, they chaunt a solemn worship in a strange tongue, with ceremonials and religious observances that are constantly reanimating a high enthusiasm and holy joy, which forbid the degradation of their character. The very persecution which has been inflicted upon them has called into action the virtue of fortitude, by which they are distinguished ; and the temporizing and subservient manners to which they have been frequently compelled to resort, has softened and civilized the character which might otherwise have been harsh and brutal—the natural effects of the ill-usage which it has been their hard lot to encounter. But, allowing the truth of the charge of meanness and unamiability which has been laid against them, and which is the natural rust of their situation, the circumstances of their history - the decided nationality and the oriental colouring about the Jewish character, relieve them, in our eyes, from that contempt and prejudice which is not uncommonly felt even in these enlightened times, and which has always induced us to trace, with more than common interest, the fates of this unfortunate nation, from their last dispersion, through the dark and dismal periods of European history.
The history of the Jews in England, though a dreary tale of woe, we have been induced to select as the subject of this article, from the light which it throws upon the national character of the people of this country, and the nature of its government, during the dark ages of its annals: and if it be painful to read of massacres, extortions, and persecutions, it is still a subject of congratulation to turn our eyes upon the improved state both of the persecuted and the persecutors—an idea which is naturally reflected from the opaque surface of these barbarous times with a luminous brightness, upon our own more happy epoch.
The Jews, it has been commonly affirmed by historians, were introduced into England by William the Conqueror. That many Jews accompanied that sovereign and his army into Britain, and afterwards, during his reign, flocked into the country in greater numbers than at any previous period, is very true; but this wandering nation had made a settlement in England a considerable time before the conquest, as is proved by the industrious antiquary who compiled the book before us. The Jews are mentioned in the laws of Edward the Confessor, wherein it is laid down, that “ the Jews and all they possess belong to the king.” And “ in a charter of Witglaff, king of Mercia, made to the monks of Croyland, we find confirmed to them, not only such lands as had at any time been given to the monastery by the kings of Mercia, but also all their possessions whatever, whether they were originally bestowed on them by Christians or Jews.”* This charter was granted A.D. 833; but we have farther proof that the Jews were settled in England 143 years before the date of this grant. In the Canonical Excerptions, published by Egbricht, archbishop of York, in A.D. 740, Christians are forbid to be present at the Jewish feasts. This is the earliest mention of the Jews in the annals of Great Britain. When they did enter Great Britain, it is impossible to ascertain. There have been antiquaries, who have concluded that the Jews lived in England during the first settlements of the Romans. A Roman brick, it seems, was found in digging the foundation of a house in London, having on one side a bas relief, representing Sampson driving the foxes into a field of corn. Without relying upon so slender an authority thus afforded, it is by no means improbable that the Jews, after the final destruction of Jerusalem, should wander into Britain, and settle in London, which was, even in Cæsar's time, a port and trading city, celebrated for the beauty of its situation, and for being the residence of a multitude of merchants.
Dr. Tovey seems to think, that the historians are silent concerning the Jews, from their introduction by the Conqueror till the reign of his successor. The chronicler, Hoveden, however, states, that in the fourth year of his reign, the first William held a council of his barons, in which, among other things, it was provided, “ that the Jews, settled in this kingdom, should be under the king's protection; that they should not subject themselves to any other without his leave : it is declared, that they and all theirs belong to the king; and if any should detain any of their goods, he might challenge them as his own.”+ This seems to have been the only tenure this miserable people ever held on this country before their banishment: the king vindicated them as his own property, lest they should become the prey of any other; their claim to protection was, that as long as the king preserved them from the aggressions of others, they would yield the richer prey to himself. Their whole history, in England, represents them in the light of plunder, contended for between two parties--sometimes dragged within the
was providede king's protewithout his leaved if any
* Anglia Judaica, p. 3. Ingulp. Hist. p. 9.
clutches of one, and again snatched by the no less dangerous fangs of the other. By extorting usurious interest, and by taking advantage of the wants of needy borrowers, they fattened upon the land and acquired immense wealth, which they were periodically required to disgorge by the party in whose hands they happened to be. The measures which the king and the powerful barons were compelled to resort to, for the purpose of wringing the hard earned riches from the tenacious grasp of avaricious Jews, were, we may be sure, by no means of a gentle nature. We shall see, in the course of this article, that from the time of William the Conqueror to the 18th of Edward I. the period of their final banishment, the unfortunate Israelites of this country were alternately indulged with privileges that they might get rich; calumniated, abused, and massacred by the people, whose hard creditors they were; and, in due time, that is to say, when the king wanted money, tortured, imprisoned, and executed by their protector, into whose presiding care they fled for refuge, and who, like a good shepherd, guarded them from the wolves till their fleeces were grown, and their carcases ready for the butcher. “Dealing with them as sponges,” says the author of an old pamphlet (the Anglo-Judæus) we have before quoted, “ suffering them to suck up the English treasure, which they then squeeze out into their own coffers.”
The first mention made of the Jews, in the reign of William Rufus, is on the occasion of a very singular transaction: whether it was that the king's conscience was troubled with scruples, or whether he was prevailed upon by the handsome presents of the Jews, or, what is more probable than either, in utter carelessness of all religion, he wished to make sport, hy bringing the professors of two diametrically opposite ones into close contest, for the amusement of himself and courtiers; however this may be, he determined to hold a solemn conference of Jews and Christians, to dispute on the evidences of Christianity —and the heartless king declared, by the face of St. Luke, that he would abide by the result, and adhere to the faith of the victorious party. The chief leaders, on both sides, met in the city of London;
“And, after the matter had been for some time strenuously debated, it pleas'd God that victory appear'd, very plainly, in behalf of the Christians, whose arguments could not possibly be withstood : tho' the Jews oppos'd them with so much vigour and resolution, that the bishops and clergy were not without some pious fear and solicitude how the disputations might terminate :* yet so insolent were the Jews, after all was over, (knowing how secure a friend they had in the king,)
* 1 Will. Malm. de Gestis, p. 122.