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Letter to the Editor


Note.—Lately a correspondent of the Asmonean wrote against something the Editor of the Occident had published to the world, and called him the late Reverend, the present Mr. Certainly this was an awfully severe chastisement, to strip him of a title he had borne, by courtesy, for so many years, especially in the estimation of those who know how little said Editor values titles of a sorts, evidenced by his never assuming any. Still, a friend, now absent from the country, has thought proper to send a reply to this rude remark, which he wishes to be made public; and it is to hoped that the good-natured raillery he employs will not be thought offensive by any one, as the object is merely to show that the Editor has some few friends left who will, protect him against vulgar assault if their services are required.—Ed.
My Dear Sir,—”Alas! poor Yorick!”—Reverend no more! ‘So I see it recorded in yesterday’s Asmonean, in S. A.’s elaborate and classical article on “Marriage and Divorce.”
Ben Yehudah, the Reformer, and Ben Jacob, the “Orthodoxite,” have agreed not to disagree on this subject, and

“The little dogs and all,
Tray, Blanch, and Sweet-heart, they
All bark at you.”

These philippics and flings from such sources are no more than what was to be expected; and if you are not of the same opinion, I confess to have been mistaken in my estimation of your philosophy and common sense.

You have had the moral courage to prefer your independence to the abject sycophancy which the Jews require from their spiritual advisers; and the same courage must not be wanting now to scorn their exultation and abuse, were they even more forcibly expressed than these poor bunglers are able to do. They laugh at your want of policy in not telling some small men of your former congregation, that they were at least seven feet high; and while they themselves pursue the contemptible course, which you were manly enough to repudiate, no opportunity is lost by them to sneer at and to ridicule both your actions and opinions.

Had I not recently left you in the enjoyment of perfect health and comfort, I should have felt inclined to compare you to the dying old lion in Aesop’s fable; for like that noble animal, you have been bored by the boars, gored by the bulls, and kicked by the asses. The application, however, so far as the dying is concerned, is happily not complete; and I trust that the effect of these publications in the Asmonean will fail to produce unfavourable consequences to your health and spirits, and that they will only confirm you in the prosecution of your adopted manly course.

Do not be discouraged, my badly abused friend, and rejoice with me in the bright prospects of progress foreshadowed in the columns of the Jewish organ in New York. The newly discovered El Dorado will vanish before the splendour of the intellectual El Dorado already rising in the minds of the editor and correspondents of that paper. Scholars and Rabbis not known in this country, will henceforth no more be considered authorities, in our learned, enlightened, and accomplished community; Dupuytren and Dieffenbach will have to make room for the last issues of the medical college in Gotham, and students <<207>> of modern languages will have to collect their knowledge from the columns and “buffoonery” of the Jewish periodical. For here the language and wit of Rabelais have not only found a powerful rival in “Putty” and “Glass;” but also the tongue of Shakspeare and Milton has materially been improved by the accession of elegant phrases so eminently delineated by such expressions as “travelling, humbugging, quacking scamps.”

Nor does the improved intellectual and moral condition of the chosen people in this country, stop here. We have already a Superintendent for our public school, a proper building devoted to that purpose, and are wanting an appropriation of the necessary means, and a selection of, competent teachers only to convince the world that American education is inferior to none on earth. Our charities and sympathies for the helpless and sick have not suffered from our exertions in regard to the education of our offspring; and though the foundation for the proposed Jewish Hospital has as yet not been laid: still we have succeeded in the election of a President, and there exists but little doubt that after the completion of the Hospital, a competent physician will be found, who, for an equivalent remuneration, will devote his energies and time to the charitable object. Nor will any difficulty arise, should our co-religionists decide upon the formation of a “Beth Din.”

In a community which abounds in such numbers of talented and learned persons, as indicated by the writings of the correspondents and contributors to the Asmonean, a selection of able and competent judges could be accomplished with perfect ease and safety. If I am not mistaken, the future presiding officer of such a tribunal has already constituted himself President, in his own mind, and like the great French Captain, who himself placed the crown on his head, intends to robe himself in the ermine of the justiciary. Therefore, “Arise, my St. John, and leave all meaner things to low ambition,” &c.; for as a tried and consistent friend to Israel’s cause, you have every reason to rejoice at the bright and happy prospects which the Jewish press and literati spread before you, and before the followers of our sacred faith.

We are not only a great people, but in this happy land we are giving striking evidence to decaying Europe of our material improvements on the old, obsolete notions, that hitherto constituted great nations and civilized communities. In this blessed country, where, as I have once been told by a lawyer of this city, the very air beautifies the human race (which, unfortunately, however, has not been verified in either of us), the exertions and application of mind appertaining to the acquire<<208>>ment of knowledge and wisdom in the old country, are entirely superseded by the go-ahead principles that pervade this hemisphere, and it seems to have become an established fact, that the natural advantages of this climate reduce all studies to a mere pastime. One has but to order a coat of a French tailor, and the best-selected phrases in the Parisian dialect will suddenly flow from the lips of the American customer, to the utter astonishment of the ninth-part of a Frenchman. The erudition and forensic acquirements of a Bacon or Eldon, are easily attained by a few months’ copying, at an attorney’s office; and Ciceros and Demostheneses are daily formed at preliminary ward meetings.

Men authorized to kill their fellow-beings “de jure and de facto,” are patented by the score, by universities and medical colleges, where the attendance of a few months at the lectures is all that is required to qualify the student to become a practitioner, and to entitle him to place an M.D. on his card or door-plate; while poor Europe, in her dotage, still imposes on her medical students the necessity of a thorough education at primary colleges or schools, and a steady and rigid attendance, of from three to six years, at one of her universities; and then, after a strict and trying examination, the “Alma Mater” dispenses diplomas to those applicants only who have been able to prove themselves worthy of them.

We have virtually annihilated time, and, in common parlance, are even ahead of it, when telegraphing South; so I see no reason why we should not also annihilate the time formerly considered necessary to the acquisition of knowledge, arts, sciences, and accomplishments.

You will concede that we are in a fair way of accomplishing it; our workshops, stores, and stock exchange, provide the nation with editors, medical men, scholars, and statesmen in abundance, and in no time; and to spend more time and money to attain these objects, only because Europeans do so, would be considered by our practical people as wasting both, in order to imitate the obsolete customs of a retrograding priest-and-despot-ridden people on the wrong side of the Atlantic. With greetings to you and to the inhabitants of the city of brotherly love and perpetual fires, I remain, my dear Sir, faithfully yours,

Democritus. New York, April 25, 1852.