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Letter to Mrs. S. C. Hall, on her Sketch of Grace Aguilar.

Honoured Madam:—

When the great and illustrious Lessing died, one of my co-religionists, Moses Mendelssohn (usually spoken of as the Jewish philosopher), addressed a letter to the brother of the poet, in which he passed a warm eulogium on the renowned author of “Nathan the Wise,” for the spirit of toleration which this celebrated work had disseminated throughout Germany. Moses Mendelssohn gratified his attachment and respect to a master-mind. But in expressing to you my own thoughts on reading your able article on the late amiable and gifted Grace Aguilar, I have the advantage of doing so, whilst you are still pursuing your praiseworthy and most useful career, scattering around you a humanizing influence, the scintillations of your own refined and enlightened intellect. Hence, from my heart of hearts I thank you; for when your able production is compared with those which have treated of my people, your pen seemed dipped in some sweet and perfumed compound, whilst theirs have been too often saturated in gall-like bitterness. You, madam, have the holiest and best reward, in the consciousness that your tribute will prove the very best antidote to inveterate prejudices, which have and do still disfigure the moral beauty of those who nurture them. The reason is obvious;—you have weighed the merit of the departed lady, and, with a purity of mind, have held the balance of criticism poised on the immutable data of justice and benevolence. The lesson of toleration you have given, like that of the illustrious Lessing, will vibrate on the noblest sympathies of persons of all creeds, whose souls are charged with a divine influence, and by its means are drawn together by a powerful and mysterious impulse, which is shown in a spirit of forbearance and philanthropy.

Hence, every enlightened and really God-fearing Jew and Christian  must look on “your labour of love” as the noblest mission of a highly-gifted and refined woman, doing an act of literary justice to a departed sister, on whose tomb you have strewn some beautiful garlands of elevated thoughts, and of purest and holiest sentiments.

Probably I should not have ventured to give this imperfect expression of my opinion, but, as the testimonial you alluded to, given to the departed Grace Aguilar prior to her visit to Germany,—had not the idea of presenting such a testimonial from the “Women of Israel” <<416>> originated in my own family, and the “address” been delivered by my eldest daughter. So, as we all esteemed Grace Aguilar when living, and respect her memory now she is numbered with the dead, we naturally hold in our estimation a lady like yourself, who has embalmed her spirit-doings on earth in such a lovely composition, so full of grace, beauty, and truth.

Trusting you may be spared many years in health, to enrich with your generous profusion of poetic thoughts the matter-of-fact world of plodding humanity.

I am, honoured madam, with most respectful esteem,
Yours, most truly,
J. L. Levison

14 Devonshire Place 
Brighton, May 11, 1851.