« السابقةمتابعة »
He sows, he reaps the harvest's grain ;
THE JEWS IN ENGLAND.
PART I. In the dark ages England was not advanced beyond the other nations of Europe in the civil or religious wisdom of toleration. While the sovereign authority—that of the pope in Italy, of the emperor in Germany, and of the king in Spain--frequently held in check the fierce animosities of the nobles, the clergy, and the populace against their Israelitish subjects, with rare exceptions the kings of England, like those of France, joined in the inhuman and impolitic confederacy against them.
There were Jews in England under the Saxons. The ecclesiastical constitutions of Egbright, archbishop of York, A.D. 740, prohibit Christians from appearing at Jewish feasts. They are named in a charter to the monks of Croyland, A.D. 833. They are said to have purchased from William the Conqueror the right of settlement in the country. His son, William Rufus, shocked the devout feelings of his people by his open intercourse with the enemies of Christ. He appointed a public debate in London between the two parties, and declared that if the rabbins defeated the bishops he would turn Jew himself. The Jews boasted that they obtained the victory, while the trembling people, in a thunderstorm and an earthquake, recognised the wrath of God against an irreligious king. But William was unmoved. He received at Rouen the complaint of certain Jews, that their children had been
seduced to the profession of Christianity. Their petition was supported by a liberal offer of money. Many, either from conviction or confiding in the king's protection, abjured their new faith. One Stephen offered sixty marks for his son's restoration to Judaism, but the son had the courage to resist the imperious monarch. “Get thee hence, quickly," said the king, “and obey, or, by the face of St. Luke, I will cause thine eyes to be plucked out of thine head.” The young man temperately adhered to his determination. The king yielded, on which the Jew demanded back his money. The monarch unwillingly restored half. Rufusgave still deeper offence by farming to Jews the vacant bishoprics. During this reign Jews were established in Oxford and London. In the former city they had three halls for the accommodation of their youth-Lombard Hall, Moses Hall, and Jacob Hall. They taught Hebrew to Christian as well as Jewish subjects. They were not, however, permitted a burial-ground-their only cemetery was in St. Giles's, Cripplegate, in London.
As history is silent about them for a short period, we may conclude that they were growing in opulence, and, consequently, in public detestation. In the tenth year of Stephen, the same dark tales began to be bruited abroad which were so readily credited on the Continent. They are said to have crucified a youth at Norwich. “This crime,” their historian shrewdly observes, " they are never said to have practised but at such times as the king was manifestly in want of money.” The same atrocity was imputed to them at Gloucester and at St. Edmondsbury.
Nor did the king (Henry the Second) overlook this favourable opportunity for filling his coffers. Other anecdotes illustrate their increasing wealth and unpopularity. They are charged with having lent money to some of the adventurers for Ireland, who undertook that enterprise contrary to the king's order, and with receiving in pledge some of the sacred treasures of the church of St. Edmondsbury.
The most remarkable evidence of their wealth is, that at a Parliament held at Northampton, to raise a tax for an expedition to the Holy Land, the whole Christian popula
tion was assessed at £70,000, the Jews alone at £60,000. The abandonment of the expedition, and the death of the king, prevented the levying of this enormous burden.
But Henry's death, instead of relieving them from oppression, was the accidental cause of a worse calamity. It gave an occasion for all the passions which had long been brooding within the hearts of the people to break forth into fierce and undisguised hostility. The whole nation crowded to the coronation of the brave Richard the First. Among the rest, the Jews were eager to offer their allegiance, and to admire the splendour of the spectacle. They came in such apparel as suited the occasion, and were prepared with costly offerings to the new sovereign. But the jealous courtiers, and the whole of the people, demanded the exclusion of such notorious sorcerers from the royal presence, who were likely to blast all the prosperity of the reign by their ill-omened appearance. Peremptory orders were issued that none should be admitted. A few strangers incautiously ventured, supposing themselves unknown, into the abbey. They were detected, maltreated, and dragged forth, half dead, from the church. The news spread like wildfire : the populace rose at once, broke open the houses of the Jews, which they suspected, and found, to conceal under a modest exterior incalculable wealth. They pillaged and set fire on all sides. The king sent the Chief Justiciary, Sir Richard Glanville, to arrest the tumult. Avarice and hatred were too strong for authority, and during the whole night the scene of plunder and havoc went on. The king, when the people, satiated with their booty, had retired, ordered a strict investigation. Many were apprehended, three were hanged ; but such seems to have been the state of the public feeling, that the Government either would not or dared not revenge the wrongs inflicted on the Jews. Of the three, two suffered for robbing a Christian, on pretence of his being a Jew; one for setting fire to the house of a Jew, which burned down the next, belonging to a Christian.
One Benedict, to save his life, had submitted to baptism. He appealed to the king to release him from his compulsory engagement. The king referred this new case to the arch
bishop of Canterbury, who was present. The Archbishop Baldwin, who was more used to handle the battle-axe than to turn over tomes of casuistry, answered, though bluntly, perhaps with more plain sense than his more learned brethren might have done,“ Why, if he is not willing to become a servant of God, he must even continue a servant of the devil.”
The intelligence of the vengeance wrought by the citizens of London on the enemies of the Lord, probably likewise of the rich spoil they had obtained, spread rapidly throughout the country. All England was then swarming with fanatic friars preaching the crusade, and fierce soldiers, of all classes, who had taken up the cross. The example of London sounded like a tocsin, and directed their yet untried zeal and valour against the wealth and the infidelity of the Jews. At Norwich, at Edmondsbury, and at Stamford, the Jews were plundered, maltreated, slain. At Lincoln they took timely warning; and, with the connivance of the governor, secured themselves and their more valuable effects in the castle. At York, more disastrous scenes took place. Benedict, the relapsed convert, was a native of that city, but died in London of the ill-usage he had received. His friend Jacimus Joachim returned to York with the sad intelligence; but scarcely had he arrived when he found the city in a state of the most alarming excitement. The house of Benedict, a spacious building, was attacked ; the wife and children of Benedict, with many others who had fled there as to a place of strength, were murdered ; the house burned to the ground. Joachim, with the wealthiest of the Jews, took refuge in the castle with their most valuable effects; those who were not sufficiently expeditious were put to the swordneither age nor sex were respected ; a few only escaped by submitting to baptism.
The Jews within the citadel, whether on good ground or not, suspected that secret negotiations were going on between the governor of the castle and the populace for their surrender. The governor, it was subtly spread abroad among them, was to be repaid for his treachery by a large share of the plunder. The desperate men felt that they had but one alternative; they seized the opportunity of the governor's absence in the town, closed the gates against him, and boldly manned the citadel. The sheriff of the county happened to be in the town with an armed force. At the persuasion of the indignant governor and the populace, he gave the signal for attack ; but, alarmed at the frantic fury with which the rabble swarmed to the assault, he endeavoured to revoke his fatal order, but in vain. A more influential body, the clergy, openly urged on the besiegers. A canon regular stood in the midst of the ferocious multitude in his surplice, shouting aloud, “Destroy the enemies of Christ; destroy the enemies of Christ !" Every morning this fierce churchman took the sacrament, and then proceeded to his post, where he perished at length, crushed by a great stone from the battlements. The besieged, after a manful resistance, found their fate unavoidable. A council was summoned. Their rabbi, a foreigner, a man educated in one of their schools of learning, and universally respected for his profound knowledge of the law, rose up and said, “ Men of Israel, the God of our fathers, to whom none can say, What doest thou?' calls upon us to die for our law. Death is inevitable ; but we may yet choose whether we will die speedily and nobly, or ignominiously, after horrible torments and the most barbarous usage. My advice is, that we voluntarily render up our souls to our Creator, and fall by our own hands. The deed is both reasonable and according to the law, and is sanctioned by the example of our most illustrious ancestors." The old man sat down in tears. The assembly was divided; some declared that he had spoken wisely—others that it was a hard saying. The rabbi arose again, and said, “Let those who approve not of my proposal depart in peace.” Some few obeyed and left the place; the greater number remained unmoved upon their seats. They then arose, collected their most precious effects, burned all that was combustible, and buried the rest. They set fire to the castle in many places, cut the throats of their wives and children, and then their own. The rabbi and Joachim alone survived. The place of honour was reserved for the rabbi ; he first slew Joachim,