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I Am a man, who fick close to my bufiness, and am married to a sober induftrious woman, whom I should be glad now and then to treat with a play, which is the only public amusement she has ever expressed a wish to be indulged in; but I am really under such difficulties, that I dare not carry her thither, and at the same time do not like to discover my reafons for it, as I should be sorry to give her a dislike to the country she is in. You must know, Sir, I am a Jew, and
proci bably have that national cast of countenance, which a people fo separate and unmixt may well be fuppofed to have : The consequence of this is, that I no sooner enter a playhouse, than I find all eyes turned upon me; if this were the worst, I would strive to put as good a face upon it as I could; but this is sure to be followed up with a thousand scurrilities, which I should blush to repeat, and which I cannot think of subjects ing my wife to hear.
As I should really take great pleasure in a good play, if I might be permitted to fit it cut in peace, I have tried every part of the house, but the front boxes, where I observe such a line of bullies in the back, that even if I were a 7
Christian I would not venture amongst them; but I no sooner put my head into an obscure corner of the gallery, than some fellow or other roars out to his comrades--Smoke the Jew !Smoke the cunning little Ifaac ! -Throw him over, lays another, hand over the smoutch I-Out with Shylock, cries a third, out with the pound of man's flesh! --- Buckles and buttons ! Spectacles ! bawls out a fourth- and so on through the whole gallery, till I am forced to retire out of the theatre, amongst hootings and hislings, with a shower of rotten apples and chewed oranges vollied at my head, when all the offence I have given is an humble offer to be a peaceable spectator, jointly with them, of the same common amusement.
I hope I shall not incur your displeasure if I venture to say this is not very manly treatment in a great and generous people, which I always took the English to be ; I have lodged my property, which is not inconsiderable, in this country, and having no abiding-place on this earth, which I could call my own, I have made England my choice, thinking it the safest asylum that a wanderer and an alien could fly to; I hope I have not been mistaken in my opinion of it: It has frequently fallen in my way to fhew some kindnesses to your countrymen in foreign parts, and some are yet living, who, if they would
speak the truth; must confess that their best friend in life is a Jew: But of these things I. fcorn to boast; however, Sir, I must own it gave me fome pain the other night to find myself very roughly handled by a feafaring fellow, whom I remembered well enough in a most piteous condition at Algiers, where I had the good will to relieve him and set him at liberty with my own money: I hope he did not recollect me; I say I hope not for the honour of human nature, but I am much afraid he did : This I am fure woulds be called ingratitude even in a Heathen. I observe with much concern that
your great writers of plays take delight in hanging us out to public ridicule and contempt on all occafions: If ever they are in search of a rogue, an usurer or a buffoon, they are sure to make a few serve the turn: I verily believe the odious character of Shylock has brought little less perfecation upon us poor scattered sons of Abraham, than the Inquisition itself. As I am interested to know if this blood-thirsty villain really existed in nature, and have no means to satisfy my curiosity but your favour, I take the liberty humbly to request that you will tell me how the case truly stands, and whether we must of necessity own this Shylock; also I should be glad to know of which tribe this fellow was, for if such a
monster did exift, I have strong suspicion he will turn out a Samaritan. As I cannot doubt but a gentleman of your great learning knows all these things correctly, I shall wait your anfwer with the moft anxious impatience; and pray be particular as to the tribe of Judah, for if nothing less than half my fortune could oust him there, I would pay it down to be rid of such a rafcal.
Your compliance with the above will be the greatest obligation you can confer upon, Sir,
Your most devoted
P. S. I hope I shall not give offence by adding
a poftfcript, to say, that if you could persuade one of the gentlemen or ladies, who write plays (with all of whom I conclude you have great interest) to give us poor Jews a kind lift in a new comedy, I am bold to promise we should not prove ungrateful on a third night.
If I had really that interest with my ingenious contemporaries, which Mr. Abrahams gives me credit for, I would not hesitate to exert it in his Service; but as I am afraid this is not the case, I have taken the only method in my power of being ufeful to him, and have published his letter.
As for Shylock, who is so obnoxious to my correspondent, I wish I could prove him the son of a Samaritan as clearly as Simon Magus; but I Aatter myself the next best thing for his purpose is to prove him the son of a poet, and that I will endeavour to do in my very next paper, with this further satisfaction to Mr. Abrahams, that I do not despair of taking him down a step in his pedigree, which for a poetical one is, as it now stands, of the very first family in the kingdom.
As for the vulgar fun of smoaking a few, which so prevails amongst us, I am persuaded that my countrymen are much too generous and good-natured to sport with the feelings of a fellow-creature, if they were once fairly convinced that a Jew is their fellow-creature, and really has fellow-feelings with their own : Satisfy them in this point, and their humanity will do the rest: I will therefore hope that nothing more is wanting in behalf of my correspondent, (who seems a very worthy man) than to put the following short questions to his persecutors-Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, pafions? Fed with Vol. III.