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English News

London, August 3, 1847

The sole absorbing topic among all the Jewish circles here is Baron Lionel Rothschild’s election as a parliamentary representative of the City of London, which in the words of the Liberal enthusiast is “a glorious triumph of the principles of civil and religious liberty, over those of bigotry and intolerance.” For the past two or three weeks the greatest excitement has prevailed throughout the city as well as in other districts where the interest has not been less although naturally less active. The Baron, together with many influential members of his family and friends, have for the last fortnight been prosecuting the most active canvass, the Baron himself addressing the constituents in their several wards, together with the other liberal candidates. Though much was not expected of him by his friends and acquaintances, he managed his address remarkably well, and passed with fair success through the usual ordeal of political catechism to which he was continually submitted by the electors at the various wards. The result of the contest was officially known on Thursday morning, when the Jewish liberal partisans were almost intoxicated with joy at their victory. Two liberals and one conservative are the Baron’s colleagues, and among the nine candidates he stood third on the list. A great variety of opinions prevails concerning the possibility of his taking his seat on account of the oath which, as it at present stands, must be subscribed to “on the faith of a Christian.” But it appears clear that that difficulty will be set aside on the meeting of the next parliament—judging from the very strong hints which fell from Lord John Russell, of whom the Baron is a staunch supporter, and who is one of the Baron’s colleagues. There is little doubt. that they are mutually indebted to one another for their success, since many of Lord John Russell’s supporters voted for the Jewish candidate merely on account of the principle which his election would represent; while, on the other hand, the friends of Baron Rothschild voted for the Premier because they wished the principle represented by the choice: of a Jewish candidate to be carried into effect.

The Jewish Press has, for the last two or three weeks, been almost exclusively given up to the cause, publishing supplements, entire editions, &c., filled with leading articles in the shape of appeals, and with apparent official announcements. Some of the Jewish electors, carried away by the excitement of the moment, got up an association which they designated the “Jewish Association for the Removal of Civil and Religious Disabilities.” The Jewish Chronicle gives a report of two of its meetings, at the second of which Dr. Raphall sent an address, which you will find possesses some merit, being eloquent and argumentative in some parts; another worthy of the Burton Street Congregation, the Rev. D. W. Marks, who addressed the meeting in person, was not quite so successful; the policy of his speech altogether has been much canvassed. I refer you to the periodical above named, from which you can form your own opinion of the whole proceedings. It is believed that now the excitement has somewhat subsided, the zeal of the members of this association has been correspondingly cooled, and we hear nothing more of its operations. The indefatigable Mr. David Salomons has made another essay for a seat in Parliament, having offered himself for the town of Greenwich; but he has been beaten by a no very consideable majority. The public sympathize not only with the principle he advocates, but with himself personally, on account of his two former unsuccessful attempts to represent Marylebone and Maidstone, for both of which boroughs his preliminary qualifications were not establishable. The former because he was returning officer for the borough, and the latter because he had declined to pay the expenses of a former election with which he had nothing to do. Being desirous of giving you a history of all the Jewish candidates, I must inform you that neither Sir Isaac L. Goldsmid, nor his son Francis, have been more fortunate than Mr. Salomons, and Baron Meyer Rothschild has met with no better success—so that Baron Lionel Rothschild is as yet the only Jewish candidate returned, nor is it probable that there will be any other, as the elections will be all concluded in the course of the week, and no other Jewish candidate appears in the lists. It remains to be seen how the Baron Lionel, who will be the first Jew returned to a British parliament, shall represent the Jewish character at the British senate; he was never known for a strict conformist; but it does not appear that he ever publicly profaned the Sabbath, or the sacred festivals, by appearing on Change, or at his Counting House on those days; and as his election may almost be said to be due to the Jews’ votes for the one part, and their influence and exertions for the other, there is no doubt that the Baron, who really does possess some national spirit, will be wary to represent the Jewish character creditably. He is certainly new to the political world; but in his other relations to the Jewish community and the general public, he assuredly stands high. I shall not fail to report to you how he fares when the House is collected and the members take their places. As I told you this was the all-absorbing subject at present in Jewish circles, you will have been prepared to receive no other intelligence of English news.—Our Chief Rabbi returned on the 27th ultimo, from Hanover, where he had been most honourably and cordially received.