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mediation of a Jew the voiturier settles his contract with the traveller who requires his conveyance. Through the mediation of the Jews landlords settle conditions with their tenants, and housewives lay in their winter provisions. In short, whether you would eat or drink, rest or travel, change your lodging or renew your toilet in Poland, you must have recourse to the Jews, who divide among themselves, houses, inns, lands, and every description of property belonging to the Christians; so that each Jew has his prescribed field of activity, from which he may draw as much profit as it will yield, while he is strictly prohibited from trespassing upon the hunting-grounds of his neighbors. The Jews swarm in the streets of the towns throughout all the Polish provinces, and are met also in great numbers in the villages and on the high-roads; ever busy in turning a penny, but almost invariably presenting a picture of squalid misery, and mental and moral degredation painful to behold, and in strange contrast with their importance as the monopolizers of almost all the industrial activity in the society amid which they live, and with their numbers, which amounting to upwards of two millions and a half, must give them a certain weight in the State; and the stranger inquires, with startled curiosity, how it is that a people has so multiplied on a soil which seems to deny them every comfort of life.

There are, perhaps, few instances in history in which we can trace in such unmistakable evidences the elevating influences of just laws, and the debasing effects of lawlessness and persecution, on communities as well as on the individuals who compose them, as in the case of the Jews of Poland. At a very early period of Polish history, when in other Christian countries the commonest rights of humanity were denied to the Israelites, they enjoyed in Poland the protection of the laws; and in the 14th century, when the most atrocious persecutions drove them from all the Western countries of Europe, they flocked in thousands to the banks of the Vistula, where the Polish king, Casimir the Great, afforded them an asylum, and extended to them privileges commensurate with those of his other subjects. Invested with the rights of citizens, the Jews soon became such in the best sense of the word, and Casimir reaped his reward in the rapid develop

This strange custom is called Chazak; and though now prohibited by law, continues in a great measure to prevail.

ment of the prosperity of his realm. The people of Poland were divided into two classes: the nobles and the peasants; the first of which considered the pursuit of commerce or of the useful arts as beneath their dignity, while the second occupied themselves exclusively with the tillage of the soil. The Jews thus proved most useful in filling up the gap between the two; and during Časimir's reign already seventy towns arose on the banks of the Vistula, and commerce and industry were developed and flourished, these branches being entirely in the hands of the Jews; who, enjoying the protection of the laws, and being free to follow their religious convictions unmolested, soon ceased in all other matters to distinguish themselves from the people of which they formed a part, and proved themselves as estimable as patriots as they were useful as citizens.

The consideration which the Jews enjoyed in Poland during this period is by popular tradition attributed to the influence of the beautiful Esterka, or Esther, a Jewish maiden, who for a time held captive King Casimir's fickle heart. But although Esther's influence may have been great in consequence of her having bestowed two sons* on the king, who had no legitimate children, and may have been exercised in favor of her race, Casimir's extension of favor and protection to the industrious and prosecuted Jews was too much in accordance with the general character of the system of wise and beneficent policy which acquired for him the surname of the "King of the Peasants," whom also he protected from the oppression of the nobles, to need any such inspiration; and as long as his spirit continued to animate the Polish rulers, the country was prosperous and powerful. Cardinal Commendoni, the Pope's legate in Poland during the reign of the last of the Jaghellons in the 16th century, expresses as follows his surprise at finding the Jews in that country enjoying the rights and well-being of respected citizens, while in other parts of Europe they were only able to purchase a contemptuous toleration at the cost of immense sums of money:

There are in these provinces a large number of Jews, who are They do not live on the vile profits of usury and not despised as elsewhere. service, although they do not refuse such gains;

Jews must have been regarded in Poland at that *The extraordinary tolerance with which the time, is evidenced in the fact, that although their sons were educated in the Christian faith, the daughters whom Esther bore to the king were allowed to follow their mother's religion.

and wider; and what was at first merely a religious difference, became a strong national antipathy, and Jew and Pole, though re

but they possess lands, are engaged in commerce, and even apply themselves to literature and science, particularly medicine and astrology. They are almost every where entrusted with the levying of customs and tolls on the import and trans-maining necessary to each other, became port of merchandise. They possess considerable fortunes, and are not only on a level with gentlemen, but sometimes hold authority among them. They do not wear any mark to distinguish them from Christians, but are even allowed to wear a sword and to go about armed. In short, they enjoy all the rights of other citizens.

But with the extinction of the Jaghellon dynasty matters took another turn in Poland. The monarchy, which had until then been elective in name only, now became so in fact, and the reign of anarchy commenced. The kings, holding the crown by the suffrages of the nobles, ventured not to restrain their unlawful proceedings; and, fanned by the Jesuits-whose disastrous influence in Poland also dates from this period-the superstitious and fanatic hatred of the Jews, which the Polish Christians shared in common with those of Western Europe, though it had been held in check, now burst forth with indescribable fury. Forbidden thenceforward the privilege of bearing arms or of serving the country in a civil capacity; forced to take up their abode in the lowest and dirtiest quarters of the town, apart from all the other inhabitants, and to wear a distinguishing badge of infamy on their vestments; fleeced by all kinds of taxes and extortions, and impeded in every way from gaining openly an honest livelihood, the persecuted race soon sunk down, morally and materially, to a level with their oppressed brethren in other countries, and became deserving of the repugnance they inspired; while the prosperity of the towns, the centres of the industry, commerce and riches of the country, declined, and with them the power and independence of Poland, which, invaded and partitioned, fell a victim partly to the anarchy of the nobles, partly to the influence of the Jesuits.

The numerous laws concerning the Jews which emanated after this period, having merely reference to their relations with the Christians, while all transactions between themselves were left to the jurisdiction of the rabbis, who even possessed the right of pronouncing sentence of death or of exile, the Israelites of Poland were thrown back upon the Books of Moses and of the Talmud for their laws. Jewish customs in their most rigid form became in consequence their rule of conduct; and thus the chasm between

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animated by mutual hatred, disgust, and contempt. The strong prejudices which have always characterized the Hebrew race, being not only strengthened by the justice and persecution of their antagonists, but by the study of the works, which were to them the sole fountains of law and justice, they sunk deeper and deeper in the scale of civilization, while their brethren in other lands were slowly emerging from the bondage in which the religious fanaticism of the people and the mistaken policy of the Governments had held them; and the great mass now represent, in a hideous picture, the degrading influences of popular fanaticism and exclusive legislation."

The rabbis-who have much to answer
for in relation to the degraded state of their
co-religionists-having held the threat of
anathema over those who learned the Polish
language, or who adopted the dress or man-
ners of their Christian countrymen, the
greater number of the Polish Jews under-
stand no other language than the corrupt
German, which has always been their spoken
idiom; and they are thus excluded from such
culture even as they might pick up in their
business intercourse with the educated
classes. Indeed all studies, except that of
the Talmud, the Zoar, and the Commentaries
upon these, are held in utter contempt
among them; and the Jew, who, emancipat-
ing himself from the trammels of strict or-
thodoxy, attempts to raise himself to the
level of the age in which he lives, is scouted as
a traitor to Israel. He who would enjoy the
esteem of his co-religionists, on the contrary,
must dress strictly after the Jewish fashion;
must let his beard and his peysi, or long side-
locks, grow; must go at least twice a day
to the synagogue; must every morning ex-
hihit large thephilin* on his forehead and on
his hand; must remain a long time before
Chemona Ethra; must pour water over
his hands, or rub them on the ground, every
time he has touched any thing, be it only his
own hair; he must shun even the neighbor-
hood of a Christian temple take care that

eral accordance with the words in Deut. vi. 5.
* Words from the Scriptures, worn thus in lit-

The fourteen benedictions of Esdraz.

As late as 1834, some Jews who had followed

the funeral of a Polish nobleman, whose virtues had made him beloved by all classes of his countrymen, were anathematized by their Rabbi, be



s, or tufts attached to the skirts of | handkerchief in his pocket on the Sabbath, in memory of the commandments but if he can not do without such useful apbe of the orthodox length; and pendage, must tie it round his arm or wrap nesures, or words of the law en- it round his hand, in which case it passes for his door-posts, each time he enters part of his vestments, so well has Jewish inat. He must, moreover, when ris genuity known how to evade the inconvemorning, wet his hands three times niences of Jewish orthodoxy. Whoever der, to drive away the evil spirits stroys an aireph is severely punished. The. upon the nails (the evil spirit of fact of the destruction or disseverance of alone left unmolested), taking care such a cord, in whatever manner it may have wer containing the water be of the occurred, is made known in the synagogue, form, and that he begin with the and until it be repaired, the encircled pre; and if he would have a reputa- cincts cease to enjoy the immunities it conety, he must three times a day re- ferred. Happily, children under the age of us prayers and read passages from thirteen do not come within the ordinances d, the Mishna, the Zoar, and other of the aireph law; and by their aid the ins, written in Hebrew or Chaldean, convenience is in some measure mitigated. anguages he most likely does not The reknitting of the broken line can not be da word; and he must pare his performed by a lesser personage than the y Friday, and carefully burn or rabbi of the place. If it be a rope, it must e parings, and then make a notch not be mended by the application of a knot, e or his window-post, to mark that but an entirely new cord must be provided; n done, lest after death he should if it be a wire, the dissevered parts may be ned to return to earth to fetch the linked together again by means of a hook uch, and many more, are the ob- and eye. Among the things interdicted on which occupy the leisure time of the Sabbath are also driving in a carriage, n Poland, and which are consider- or walking to a greater distance than 2,000 ry for peace with God; and it is ells from the house in which they dwell,the violence done to the religious which distance may, however, be doubled, if, those who serve in the armies on the preceding Friday, a fresh wheaten of Russia, must tenfold aggravate loaf be deposited midway on the road. er sufferings they have to endure. Sir Moses Montefiore have been an angel of consolation, when he the poor prisoners the means of one of their most important reivals. To how many of these poor isoners will not, in every respect, n England seem liberation from the bondage!

ct orthodoxy that prevails among Jews is further evidenced by ceror wires, called aireph, or Sabbathch run from roof to roof across the n the streets in the quarters of the abited by the Jews, and which uch puzzled travellers in Poland, rise to so many absurd stories. of these cords is derived from the forbids the Jews to carry any eir hands or about their persons bbath, and which being attended inconvenience, mothers being even to carry their babes in their arms, necessary to invent scme lawful evasion. The aireph marks the within which the law may be transthout sin; beyond these precincts, he Jew must not even carry his

The customs here alluded to no doubt are, or at least have been, common to the Jews all over the world; but the distinction between the Polish Jews and their co-religionists of the West, is that the former adhere to them in the present day as rigidly as in the middle ages, and mix them up with as numerous superstitions. Scenes are of daily occurrence in Poland, and attract no attention, which would excite the greatest wonder in other parts of Europe were they exhibited there. At full-moon tide, for instance, you may, in any Polish town, come upon a crowd of Jews in the street performing what looks very much like worship of the moon, some gazing at the luminary with fixed glance and murmuring indistinct prayers, while others make obeisances to it and cry out in a loud voice; others again, in long white flowing robes bordered with black, grouped around small reading-desks on which their holy books lie open, read in these by the light of lanterns, and from time to time lift up their voices and smite their foreheads.

When observing the rigid orthodoxy of these stagnant Israelites, one can not help regretting that among the religious observances so staunchly adhered to, there are none

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that enforce cleanliness; for the reverse of this virtue is so prominent a quality in the Polish Jews, as to make them objects of almost unconquerable repugnance, and the filth and discomfort in their dwellings is as great. The dirt, the misery, the squalor, and the extreme poverty of the great majority of the two millions and a half of Israelites who inhabit the Polish provinces, is the more surprising as they are addicted neither to drunkenness, gambling, nor idleness; and it must, therefore, in a great measure be attributed to their extreme ignorance and to the fanatic zeal with which their rabbis and congregational superiors have resisted every reform and innovation proposed by the Government; for however many sins the Poles, as all the Christian nations of Europe, may have to answer for as regards the Jews, it can not be denied that during the present century at least, a great part of the nation has sincerely desired to ameliorate their position. Even the Emperor Nicholas at one period made a pretence of wishing to enforce enlightenment among them. He invited Dr. Lilienthal, a learned German Jew, to St. Petersburg, to assist with his advice a commission instituted for the purpose of devising means for diffusing light among his Jewish subjects. The advanced minds among the Jewish population in the Emperor's dominions hailed these preparations as the dawn of a new day; but the orthodox Jews fasted and smote their b.easts and prayed, fearing that a fatal blow would thus be levelled against Judaism. Happily for them, according to their own ideas, Nicholas seems to share the views of the great Catharine, who, writing to the governor of Moscow once on the subject of schools, said: "If I institute schools, it is not for us but for Europe, where we must maintain the rank we hold in public opinion; but the day that our peasants evince a desire to become enlightened, neither you nor I will remain in our places." Dr. Lilienthal sojourned in Russia many years, enjoying a high salary, but the schools that he was to organize were never established.

bly tall and thin, and dis palor of their countenan more a characteristic of t result of individual suffer plexion is clear and trans dark, their features delica and their hair and beard glossy, their hands bein great delicacy and elegan contrast between the beat pression of the countenan and the abjectness of the meanness of their pursuit constant wonder to the stri one has strikingly remarke beheld King David or K gaged in the pursuits of h lars, or the patriarchs c roguery. If nature be no much nobler destinies mig have worked out for ther bigotry and persecution against them! In Lithuan some travellers aver that handsome man; and the ness, and gentle melancholy countenances of the younge is described as singularly general rule the women are and are much inclined to a point which oversteps the li tiful; however, their tu dresses, formed of gaudy-c chiefs, give them a certain of appearance; and the pearls and precious stones wealthy Jewish ladies enci on festive occasions, harm their dark hair and brillia gether, however, the male at a long, dark caftan, fastened with a broad silk sash, and fur cap, is more striking t women. But when, in sum is exchanged for a low-c brimmed hat, the dignified down into the common-pla traveller, who visited the co

The hundreds of thousands o in Poland would afford an exce one who should desire to ascert

Even when not discriminated by their filth and rags, the Jews are distinguished from the rest of the population by their dress, which is of a decidedly Oriental character; of nourishment on which the hi but among themselves the similarity is so sustained, or to what perfection great, that in travelling through the Polish a whole garment out of innume provinces from the Black Sea to the Baltic, carried, or in how far the air one might fancy oneself pursued by the beings may be loaded with pestif same individuals, the illusion being further reared without clothes, witho out becoming deadly, or how encouraged by the similarity in the size and soap, without comb, without br figure of the men, who are almost invaria-icine, without instruction, or wi

kind. . . . The misery, the want, the sickness, the hunger, the suffering of all kinds that reigns in the damp, filthy, pestiferous dwellings of the poor Jews in Warsaw, Cracow, Lemberg. Mittau, Wilna, and Odessa, where half-a-dozen families, all richly blessed with children, live in one wretched cellar, amid dirt and rags, with little light and less heat-the squalid figures, the manycolored tatters, worthy of being exhibited in an ethnographical museum, which may be seen in the Polish market-places, only those can picture to themselves who have read descriptions of the Esquimaux, of the New Hollanders, or of the inhabitants of Terra del Fuego.

This is a distressing picture, and it is not viewed with indifference in Poland; but the hands of the nation are tied by the tyrannical despotism which weighs upon Christian and Jew alike.

Towards the close of the last century, when the Polish nobles were in every way exerting themselves to retrieve the errors of the past while their weak king, the minion of the worst enemy of his country, was unconsciously preparing his downfall, strenuous efforts were also made to ameliorate the condition of the Jews; and a "project of reform" relating to this subject was drawn up in a most just and liberal spirit, by a member of the Diet, and would no doubt have passed into law, had not the partition of the country intervened. According to this project of reform, the Jews were once more to be admitted to all the rights of citizens, while their duties to the country were not made to interfere with their liberty of conscience. It was enacted that as citizens of the State they should learn the language of the country, and should send their children to the national schools, but at the same time their religious rights were secured, and all honorable careers were opened to them. But the vultures that were to rend Poland asunder, were already hovering over the doomed land, and these noble efforts at self-regenaration, which might have served as an example to the freest and most enlightened nations of the times, only hastened the action of its enemies, lest the nation should grow too strong before the blow that was to fell it to the ground was levelled. The Israelites, fully aware of the sincerity of the intentions of the Polish patriots in their favor, proved their gratitude in 1794, when the people flew to arms in despair, by freely mingling their blood with that of their Christian compatriots; and they fought with bravery for the independence of the country which promised once more to become a true home to them,

Those among the Polish Israelites who, in consequence of the partition were transferred to Prussian rule, were the most fortunate. They have obtained many privileges they did not before possess; and they have in consequence abandoned their distinctive garb, and have lost many of their distinguishing features. Under Austrian rule, the influence of the Jesuits, who had contributed so much to their sufferings and degradation in Poland, continued to be felt; and the Jews of Gallicia still maintain all their characteristic features. But it was the Israelites transferred to Russian dominion that were the most to be pitied. They were left entirely at the mercy of the caprice of the governors of the provinces, and other ignorant, barbarous, and rapacious officials, who all hoped to make their fortunes by despoiling the Jews, whose riches they conceived to be boundless. If the victims refused to deliver up the gold which in reality they did not possess, the tyrants put them to the torture to wrest it from them. The underlings imitated the example of their superiors; even the Russian soldiers--poor miserable slaves, ill-treated and trampled upon themselves-when they met with a Jew, played the masters for a while, and added their share to the misery that weighed down this unhappy people. The government also oppressed them in every way, by advancing every pretext to squeeze money out of them, by the creation of monopolies, by increased taxation, and by illegal persecutions, while at the same time it denied them all rights. They were not allowed to hold real property, or to frequent the schools of the country; entrance into the capital was entirely denied to them, as also the right of lengthened sojourn in any of the populous cities.

În 1807, when the Grand-duchy of Warsaw was constituted, equality before the law was proclaimed for all citizens, and the Jews among the rest; but this liberal constitution remained a dead letter under the rule of the House of Saxony, and the Jews continued to be burdened with exceptional taxes, administrative decrees depriving them of the rights which the organic law accorded to them. All attempts to transform the Jews into Polish citizens were abandoned, and, except that the additional hardship of performing military service was added to their other burdens, they remained what they had been for centuries. To relieve themselves from this, to them most hateful service, they offered to pay an annual sum of 700,000 Polish florins

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