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CHAPTER X. The Jews

There have been two great colonies of the Jewish race in Europe; in Spain and in Sarmatia. The origin of the Jews in Spain is lost in the night of time. That it was of great antiquity we have proof. The tradition, once derided, that the Iberian Jews were a Phoenician colony has been favoured by the researches of modern antiquaries, who have traced the Hebrew language in the ancient names of the localities. It may be observed, however, that the languages of the Jews and the Philistines, or Phoenicians, were probably too similar to sanction any positive induction from such phenomena; while on the other hand, in reply to those who have urged the improbability of the Jews, who had no seaports, colonizing Spain, it may be remarked that the colony may have been an expatriation by the Philistines in the course of the long struggle which occurred between them and the invading tribes previous to the foundation of the Hebrew monarchy. We know that in the time of Cicero the Jews had been settled immemorially in Spain. When the Romans, converted to Christianity and acted on by the priesthood, began to trouble the Spanish Jews, it appears by a decree of Constantine that they were owners and cultivators of the soil, a circumstance which alone proves the antiquity and the nobility of their settlement, for the possession of the land is never conceded to a degraded race. The conquest of Spain by the Goths in the fifth and sixth centuries threatened the Spanish Jews, however, with more serious adversaries than the Romans. The Gothic tribes, very recently converted to their Syrian faith, were full of barbaric zeal against those whom they looked upon as the enemies of Jesus. But the Spanish Jews sought assistance from their kinsmen the Saracens on the opposite coast; Spain was invaded and subdued by the Moors, and for several centuries the Jew and the Saracen lived under the same benignant laws and shared the same brilliant prosperity. In the history of Spain during the Saracenic supremacy any distinction of religion or race is no longer traced. And so it came to pass that when at the end of the fourteenth century, after the fell triumph of the Dominicans over the Albigenses, the holy inquisition was introduced into Spain, it was reported to Torquemada that two-thirds of the nobility of Arragon, that is to say of the proprietors of the land, were Jews.

Before the rapid increase of population had forced governments to study political economy and to investigate the means of subsisting a people, statesmen had contented themselves by attributing to political causes these predial disturbances, and by recommending for them political remedies. The course of time, which had aggravated the condition of the Irish peasantry, had increased the numbers, the wealth, and the general importance of those of the middle classes of Ireland who professed the Roman Catholic faith. Shut out from the political privileges of the constitution, these formed a party of discontent that was a valuable ally to the modern Whigs, too long excluded from that periodical share of power which is the life-blood of a parliamentary government and the safeguard of a constitutional monarchy. The misgovernment of Ireland became therefore a stock topic of the earlier Opposition of the present century; and advocating the cause of their clients, who wished to become mayors, and magistrates, and members of the legislature, they argued that in the concession of those powers and dignities, and perhaps in the discreet confiscation of the property of the Church, the only cures could be found for threatening notices, robbery of arms, administering of unlawful oaths, burglary, murder, and arson.

But why talk here and now of death! He goes to his native county and his father’s proud domain, to breathe the air of his boyhood and move amid the parks and meads of his youth. Every breeze will bear health, and the sight of every hallowed haunt will stimulate his pulse. He is scarcely older than Julius C?|sar when he commenced his public career, he looks as high and brave, and he springs from a long-lived race.

‘I observe from a cotton circular sent to me the other day, that seven thousand five hundred bags of cotton had been purchased for exportation between the 1st and 21st of May. If with reduced stocks of raw cotton we are commencing a career of increased exportation, it appears to me to involve very serious consequences for our cotton manufactures as growing out of the existing monetary difficulties of the manufacturers.

At present I have seen no notice of the pamphlet in any of the newspapers: if it is either * * * *‘s, or * * * *‘s, or * * * *‘s we shall see it reviewed in ‘Times,’ ‘Chronicle,’ and ‘Spectator.’

He writes again from Lynn, with great thanks for the information which had been accordingly forwarded to him there. ‘Might I ask you to give me an account of the cotton wool imported weekly into Liverpool, and also the quantity sold to dealers, exporters, and speculators, in the three corresponding weeks of ‘45-46.

I think it wretchedly weak, and have written some notes on the margin, showing up the principal points. The nine months’ famine of 1846-47, as contrasted with Peel’s famine, shows a difference of between ?£6,000,000 and ?£7,000,000; that is to say, on the balance in the nine months 1845-46, Ireland exported about three millions’ worth of breadstuffs, and not a soul died of famine. In the nine months 1846-47, she imported three millions’ sterling worth of bread-stuffs, which insufficed to prevent one million—or say half a million—of the people from dying of starvation.


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