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English News

London, December 2, 1847—5608.

Since I last addressed you the New Parliament has been assembled, but the Baron de Rothschild has not yet presented himself at the house to take his seat, nor does it appear that he will do so until some measure shall have been introduced for further removal of the Jewish disabilities, of which the Prime Minister has already given notice. The discussion was to have come on this day week; but owing to the urgency of the business already before the house it has been postponed for a week later. An animated debate will doubtless ensue, and it will be instructive, as well as entertaining, to observe what our enemies and <<556>>friends shall have to say concerning us. Happily, in an enlightened age like the present, nothing needs be feared from whatever calumnies or slanders the former may choose to indulge in to prove our incapacity for the. British senate. There appears, however, more occasion to be apprehensive on account of the over-zealousness of our friends, who will perhaps raise higher expectations concerning us than, mayhap, our leading men of the present time may be able to realize; for be it known that our most conspicuous characters are distinguished for their wealth, their benevolence, philanthropy, or other such characteristics, rather than the brilliancy of their talents; although it is not to be denied that almost all who who compose this class are highly educated and polished members of society, many of them accustomed to move in the first circles, and often to be found in the company of royalty itself. But as it is in most communities, the chief intelligence is to be found in the middle classes; and that there are many distinguished for their literary and scientific acquirements among our middle classes is not to be disputed.

The public journals contain many articles on the question of emancipation ably argued an both sides; but it must be confessed that the best logic is to be found on the affirmative side. The enlightened periodicals of Fraser and Blackwood, I am sorry to discover, contain both of them, in their December numbers, articles against emancipation. I suppose our Jewish press will not allow them to pass without some rejoinder.—The Voice of Jacob, which I have just seen, has a “slashing” leading article directed against all those who differ from it concerning Jewish emancipation. Poor Sir Robert Inglis, a conscientious high-churchman, comes in for a heavy flagellation, because it is presumed that he will take the lead in the opposition expected to be offered to the measure this day fortnight. The subject has been almost worn threadbare, and it will be a great blessing when the bill shall have passed, if the consequences be only to relieve us from any more of the hackneyed argumentations with which some portions of the press abound. Englishmen, we have unquestionably a right to complain of any illiberality exercised towards us on account of our professing a particular faith. But as Jews, it is not quite clear what will be the national benefit likely to follow emancipation. In a religious country like this, the professing Jew should be the more strict the more prominently he is placed; but how far that will be the case remains to be seen.

I may here mention the circumstance that Mr. David Salomons is about to succeed to an aldermanic gown, which has been recently vacated in the Cordwainers’ Ward; as there appears to be no important <<557>>opposition, his election may be said to be certain. This able and indefatigable gentleman has been already twice chosen and rejected for two other wards, and it is to his rejection on the last occasion  that the late concessions made to Jewish emancipation maybe said to be due; it now suitably happens that he is the first Jew to avail himself of the new privilege. The possession of the aldermanic gown gives the right of succession, in due turn, to the civic chair itself; so that in a few years we shall have the satisfaction of witnessing a Jew Lord-Mayor, an event not uninteresting to contemplate.

You will probably remember to have noticed in the English daily papers a short time ago, an account of the persecution of the Jews in Persia, owing to the revival of the old disgraceful blood calumny. A few weeks ago there arrived in London, from the Persian dominions, an attested שליח, who appealed to the Jews of this country for some interference on behalf of his brethren who are suffering captivity on account of this false and cruel charge. The Board of Deputies have taken the matter up, and an expostulation is to be transmitted tot he Persian Shah, through the authorities of our own country, contradicting the disgusting charges at the same time. The document which the שליח brings is dated from Shushan (called עיר מרדכי.)

It is a pleasing feature to observe that from some of our colonial settlements, where Jewish congregations have not been long established, we are often appealed to for orthodox and enlightened ministers, at liberal salaries. The Sydney congregation has applied through the Board of Deputies for a חזן ומוהל to whom they engage to pay the handsome salary of £300 a-year. It offers an excellent prospect to any religiously-educated young man conversant with congregational duties, and able to guide and instruct a community; but unfortunately, without we include those who have been educated abroad, there is hardly a native born Englishman to be found fitted for such a post; and with this lamentable state of things staring us in the face, so to speak, the Jewish college scheme is still a dead letter.

The Chief Rabbi’s “regulations” have been in operation since several weeks; and although the modifications are very meagre, they still exhibit a marked improvement whenever any modification has taken place. Dr. Adler has instituted a society for the study of the Talmud, designated the Shass Chebra, of which he is the president. I believe it is well attended and proceeds favourably.

Mr. Hoga’s Periodical is out, but I have not yet been able to get a glimpse of it; your observations concerning the history and character of this gentleman, in a note to my communication of September last, <<558>>are pretty correct. It is to be hoped that if his desire to return to the Synagogue  be sincere, he will perform the duty you have pointed out as necessary for every sinner, when he is conscious of his transgression. The Voice of Jacob, for this week, contains a memoir of the late Miss  Grace Aguilar. As that periodical is only just out, I have had no time to do more than glance thereat; the memoir would no doubt be most interesting to your readers, who have been accustomed to see some of those graceful pieces of composition which this gifted authoress was wont to transmit to your journal, and who, perhaps, are acquainted with her other works also. I have therefore cut out the memoir referred to and enclose it for your insertion, if you think proper to make such use of it; you will observe there is a sequel to follow.


Note. Since the date of the above, Lord John Russell has succeeded in carrying, in the house of Commons, his resolution for a committee of the whole house on the Jewish disabilities; the debate commenced on the 16th of December, and was continued on the 17th, when the resolution was carried by 253 votes in favour of the motion, and 186 against it, majority 67. We see by an extract from the London Globe, of the 18th December, that the resolution finally moved, in committee of the whole, was as follows:

“Resolved, That it is expedient to remove all civil disabilities at present existing, affecting her Majesty’s subjects of the Jewish religion, with the like exceptions as are provided with reference to her Majesty’s subjects professing the Roman Catholic religion.”

Resolution reported and agreed to. Bill ordered to be brought in by Lord John Russell, Sir George Grey, and Viscount Morpeth.

So then we see some prospect of at length obtaining an acknowledgment of our just rights in England; and it is to be hoped that when Parliament reassembles in February, they will at once pass the bill which is to be reported by the three men of progress to whom it has been confided. Lord Morpeth, many of our readers will recollect, was some years ago in this country, wherein he travelled very extensively. He then must have seen that the freedom of the Jews is no wise injurious to the community at large, and probably he will refer to this fact should he have to advocate the bill in its progress through the House of Commons. There is no doubt of its passing there; but in the House of Lords it is very questionable whether the cry “the church is in danger,” will not induce the hereditary legislators of Great Britain to throw out a measure which may threaten them ere long to have their chamber invaded by a Jewish baron, who owes no fealty to the Christian faith. <<559>>A short time will decide; we are no prophet, therefore will not venture an opinion where the result is so doubtful.

Mr. Salomons was also elected Alderman for the Cordwainers’ ward, on December 6th, so that at length the privilege of civic honours accorded by act of Parliament, has been practically carried into effect.