Home page The Occident and American Jewish Advocate Jews in the Civil War Jews in the Wild West History of Palestine The Occident Virtual Library


Pilgrimage to the Grave of Grace Aguilar.

By Mrs. S. C. Hall

Several friends and admirers of Miss Aguilar save requested us to copy for more general perusal than otherwise it could receive among us, the subjoined sketch of that daughter of our people, who has shed so much beauty over her religion by her contributions to its illustration; and we are pleased in this connexion to state, that we were one of the first to encourage her to persevere in the arduous career which she had chosen, yet feared to enter upon, in view of the difficulties and dangers which beset it. The Spirit of Judaism was sent to America for publication; but the MS. was lost before it reached our hands, as the ship having it on board was wrecked near the capes of the Delaware. She had almost resolved to drop it, but we urged her to re­write it from the notes in her possession. She did so, and the work at length reached us in safety, much improved by the ordeal of recomposition. We did our best to bring it and its author before the world; and from that moment her fame was secured among the women of her people at least; and it is only after her death that she has been appreciated fully by those of another faith. We never met her personally, but many of our friends had that pleasure, and they all represent her as one of those estimable spirits which but rarely appear to bless the <<326>>world. We only wish that she had entirely devoted her talents to her faith, and that we might have claimed her productions as for Israel solely. But she has done enough to entitle her memory to our gratitude, and may she be blessed among the benefactors of her race.

“Pilgrimages, pilgrimages!” exclaimed a German friend, whose family had been shorn of its “olive branches” by so many hurricanes, that, although still in the prime of life, his head was bowed and his hair gray:—“Pilgrimages! what is life but a pilgrimage over graves!” The older we grow, the better we comprehend the force of this sad truth; life is indeed a “pilgrimage over graves;” but how different are the ideas and emotions they suggest or excite!

In pent-up cities, the graves cluster round ancient churches; congregations after congregations are pressed into festering earth until the enclosure becomes a charnel-house; yet they prove how devoutly later occupants have longed to rest in death with the loved in life. The nameless mounds are hardly shrouded by broken turf; records, on the cankering, crumbling head-stones, are almost obliterated; some are closely bordered and capped by heavy stones, as if rich inheritors dreaded a resurrection; others there are, where the dock and the nettle are matted around rusty railings, as though no hand remained that ever pressed, in friendship or affection, the hand which moulders beneath; others again, are marked by broad headstones, new and well-lettered, the black on the pure white setting forth a proud array of virtues, of which the co-mates of the departed never heard; a few dingy and heavy monuments stand apart, and look down with civic haughtiness on humbler graves. Repulsive specimens of bad taste are these elaborate monuments often; in their ornaments so unmeaning, their clumsy dignity so intrusive, so coarsely ostentatious—the epitaphs so earnest in saying by whom the carved stones were erected!

Our village churchyards, lying away amid glorious trees, or tranquil valleys, or sleeping on the sloping hills, where “birds sing, lambs bleat, and ploughboys whistle,”—however picturesque they may appear in the distance, have frequently the same uncared-for aspect as those within the city. We love the <<327>>living, but we seem to care little for the dead. However much we may muse on crossing “the churchyard,” or indulge in poesy, where

“The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep;”

our places of burial, with the exception of cemeteries, which are as yet too new to show what they may become, bear but slight testimony to the “love that lives for ever.” The contrast is humiliating when we visit other lands and mark the attention paid to graves of relatives and friends. A certain sum is annually set apart by the peasants in many districts in France, for visiting and decking the resting-places of those whom Death has taken; the fresh garland is hung on the simple cross, and the prayer earnestly repeated for the soul’s peace; and these tributes continue for years and years, long after the bitterness of sorrow has passed away.

We have seen an aged woman with white hair strewing flowers on her mother’s grave, though forty years had passed since the separation of the living from the dead; and once, attracted by the beauty of a girl who had been decking, and then praying, beside a nameless grave, we asked for whom she mourned—although the word “mourned” had little association with her bright face and sunny smile.

She answered, none of her people slept there; she had nothing of herself to do with graves; it was Marie’s mother’s grave, and Marie had gone far away—to England. Marie was her friend, and she had promised her that she would deck that grave, and pray beside it; and all for the love she bore her friend. We asked if she was certain Marie would return:

“No, there was no certainty, but she would watch the grave, and deck it, and say the prayers Marie would have said, all the same; she loved Marie, and had promised her.” There was something very tender in this friendly fidelity, this tending the dead for the sake of the living—the living, dead to her.

For ourselves, the place of tombs has rarely been one of sorrow; we have loved to visit the last dwellings of those who have gone home before us. We have thought of the enjoyment of <<328>>reunion; and dwelt upon the delight of an eternity of harmony and love—that “perfect love which casteth out fear.” We have speculated on seeing Milton in the company of angels—on recognising Bunyan with the faithful—on beholding Fenelon at the “right hand,” and Mendelssohn among the chosen! Knowing that God is a more merciful judge than man, we believe that there we shall see many faiths prostrate in adoration of the one great Lord, who is for all, and “above all and in us all.” We have looked to the higher nature, the divine essence, of those we have honoured; and when noble deeds have been done, or lofty genius has triumphed, we have listened with more than doubt to the insinuations of those who, in former, as in present times, aim to detract from the excellence it is not given them to understand. We do not cater for the prejudices of sects or parties, but simply desire to lay our tribute of homage on the graves of those who seem to us most worthy, and have been most useful. We have enjoyed the high privilege of knowing many remarkable people who have passed from among us during the last twenty years,—having won for themselves a glorious immortality by the exercise of talents which, in any other country, would have led to national distinctions. Yet they are well remembered and to them be all the glory of success. The memory of these—great lights, great authors, great statesmen, great philosophers, great warriors,—is still

“Green in our souls.”

But there were some stars of lesser magnitude who, if longer spared among us, would have become luminaries of power; some who were summoned when, according to our finite views, they had arrived at the period for their faculties to expand, and they were about to reap the harvest of long years of labour and of care; such was Mrs. Fletcher, better known as Miss Jewsbury, one of the chosen friends of Mrs. Hemans, who passed away in a foreign land, far from all who loved her.

And such was Grace Aguilar—a Jewess, of mind so elevated, heart so pure, and principles so just and true, as to deserve a lofty seat among those “Women of Israel,” whose lives <<329>>were so beautifully rendered by her delicate and powerful pen. It seems Quixotic in this day of sunshine of civil and religious liberty, to attempt to combat the prejudices which, we are gravely told, do not now exist against the Jewish community; yet it is impossible to observe society and not perceive that whatever political disabilities may be removed from them, individual prejudice against those from whom our blessed Saviour sprang, and who gave birth to the apostles of the Christian faith, is as deeply seated, as in the days when faggot and fire were the ministers employed for their conversion.

How can it be that we, in our age, look down with cold, or scornful eyes upon this once “chosen people”—chosen when the material world was in its youth—those children of Israel, whose history is the foundation of our faith? We read our Bible, which is their Bible; our code of conduct is based upon their commandments, which are our commandments; our salvation is gained by the Jewish sacrifice of the lamb without spot or blemish; our apostles, the promulgators of the fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecies and the founders of the New, were Jews. We are especially blessed in triumphing in a hope fulfilled—while to them the promise is yet to come; they linger and wait century after century for what they lost, and we won; this is their sorrow, and hard to bear is their punishment—but it should not detract from the honour and glory which was, and is, theirs from ages past. The condemnation we give them is unworthy of us, and undeserved by them—they brought no wrath upon us by their blindness; and we should remember the time will come when we shall be gathered—Jews and Gentiles—together from the four quarters of the globe, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south, “And there shall be one fold and one shepherd.” But of what do we, in these days, chiefly accuse the Jews?—of being a Mammon-making, and a Mammon-loving people?—Ought we not to look to ourselves in that matter, and remember the old saying about houses of glass, and throwing of stones? There are but too many evidences of late before the world, of the Mammon-worship of our own people, to render any bowing down to the molten <<330>>image remarkable in the children of Israel; yet it is marvellous how those who think and reason on all new things, give in to old prejudices without question or examination—clinging with childlike tenacity to foul traditions, as if they were established truths.

We no longer politically outrage a people who have been, at all times, loyal, peaceable, and industrious; we do not confine them to any particular quarter of our great city; nor drive them out of it like rabid dogs; we suffer them to make money and keep it, and we borrow it for our own wants; we allow them to worship as they please—but by denying them a cordial fellowship with us, we restrict their improvement in all Arts but the one of money-making;—and they, unable to attain distinction except through their gold, naturally cling to that which gives them what all men covet—Power.

At our first introduction to Grace Aguilar, we were struck, as much by the earnestness and eloquence of her conversation, as by her delicate and lovely countenance. Her person and address were exceedingly prepossessing; her eyes of the deep blue that look almost black in particular lights; and her hair dark and abundant. There was no attempt at display; no affectation of learning; no desire to obtrude “me and my books” upon any one, on in any way; in all things she was graceful and well-bred. You felt at once that she was a carefully educated gentlewoman, and if there was more warmth and cordiality of manner than a stranger generally evinces on a first introduction, we remember her descent,* and that the tone of her studies, as well as her passionate love of music and high musical attainments had increased her sensibility. When we came to know her better, we were charmed and astonished at her extensive reading; at her knowledge of foreign literature, and actual learning—relieved by a refreshing pleasure in juvenile amusements. Each interview increased our friendship, and the quantity and quality of her acquirements commanded our admiration.

* Grace Aguilar’s family fled to England to escape Spanish and Portuguese persecutions, and some of them found homes and fortunes in the West Indies. Her mother’s name was Diaz Fernandes.

She had made acquaintance with the beauties of English nature during a long residence in Devonshire; loved the country with her whole heart, and enriched her mind by the leisure it afforded; she had collected and arranged conchological and mineralogical specimens to a considerable extent; loved flowers as only sensitive women can love them; and with all this was deeply read in theology and history. Whatever she knew she knew thoroughly; rising at six in the morning, and giving to each hour its employment; cultivating and exercising her home affections, and keeping open heart for many friends. All these qualities were warmed by a fervid enthusiasm for whatever was high and holy. She spurned all envy and uncharitableness, and rendered loving homage to whatever was great and good. It was difficult to induce her to speak of herself or of her own doings. After her death it was deeply interesting to hear from the one of all others who loved and knew her best (her mother), of the progress of her mind from infancy to womanhood; it proved so convincingly how richly she deserved the affection she inspired.

Grace Aguilar, the only daughter of Emanuel and Sarah Aguilar, was born at the Paragon, in Hackney, in June, 1816;* for eight years she was an only child, and after that period had elapsed, two boys were added to the family. Grace was of so fragile and delicate a constitution, that her parents took her to Hastings when she was four years old, and at that early age she commenced collecting and arranging shells, learning to read almost by intuition, and when asked to choose a gift, always preferring “a book.” These gift-books were not read and thrown aside, but preserved with the greatest care, and frequently perused.

* Her family were of the tribe of Judah. Of the original twelve-tribes two only are at present known; the tribe of Judah, the fourth son of Jacob and Leah, and the tribe of Benjamin, the youngest son of Jacob and Rachel. The other ten tribes revolted from Rehoboam, A.M. 2964, when there were two separate kingdoms, A.M. 3205, when the ten tribes were made captives by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria. The ten tribes have never since been heard of; but the Israelites believe they are in existence, and will be gathered “from all the nations whither the Lord our God bath scattered them.” The Spanish and Portuguese Jews are of the tribe of Judah. The German Jews are of the tribe of Benjamin. [Mrs. Hall says this without sufficient authority, since all the German Jews are not of Benjamin.—I. L.]

From the age of seven years this extraordinary child kept a daily journal, jotting down what she saw, heard, and thought, with the most rigid regard to truth; indeed, after visiting a new scene, her chief delight was to read and ponder over whatever she could find relating to what she had observed. Her parents were both passionately fond of the beauties of nature, and she enjoyed scenery with them, at an age when children are sup­posed to he incapable of much observation.  Her mother, a highly educated and accomplished woman, loved to direct her child’s mind to the study of whatever was beautiful and true; before she completed her twelfth year she wrote a little drama called “Gustavus Vasa;” it was an indication of what, in after life, became her ruling passion.

The first history placed in her hand was that of Josephus; increasing, as it was certain to do, her interest in her own people. In 1828, after various English wanderings the family, in consequence of Mr. Aguilar’s impaired health, went to reside in Devonshire. The beauty of the scenery which surrounds Tavistock inspired her first poetic effusions, and she became passionately fond of her new power; yet her well-regulated mind prevented her indulging in the exercise of this fascinating talent, until her daily duties and studies were performed.

A life spent as was that of Grace Aguilar affords little incident or variety; it is simply a record of talents highly cultivated, of duties affectionately fulfilled, and, as years advanced, of the formation of a great purpose persevered in with stoic resolution, until, supported by pillows, and shaken by intense suffering, the trembling fingers could no longer hold the pen. It cannot fail to interest those at all acquainted with her writings, to learn how she mingled the most intense faith and devotion to her own people, with respect for the teachers of Christianity. Well as we knew her, we were quite unacquainted with her religious habits. Though the odour of sanctity exhaled from all she did and aid, she never assumed to be holier than others; never sought discussion; never, in her intercourse with Christians, though sometimes sorely pressed, gave utterance to a hard word or an uncharitable feeling, even when roused to plead <<333>>with eloquent lips and tearful eyes the cause of her beloved Israel.

It is a beautiful picture to look upon—this young and highly-endowed Jewish maiden, nurtured in the bosom of her own family, the beloved of her parents;—themselves high-class Hebrews,—gifted with tastes for the beautiful in Art and in Nature, and a sublime love for the true; leaving the traffic of the busy city, content with a moderate competence, soothed by the accomplishments, the graces, and the devotion, of that one cherished daughter, whose high pursuits and purposes never prevented the daily and hourly exercise of those domestic duties and services which the increasing indisposition of her father demanded more and more.

Stimulated by the counsel of a judicious friend, who, while she admired the varied talents of the young girl, saw that, for any great purpose, they must be concentrated, Grace Aguilar prayed fervently to God that she might be enabled to do something to elevate the character of her people in the eyes of the Christian world and—what was, and is, even more important—in their own esteem. They had, she thought, been too long satisfied to go on as they had gone during the days of their tribulation and persecution, content to amass wealth, without any purpose beyond its possession; she panted to set before them “The Records of Israel,” to hold up to their admiration “The Women of Israel,” those heroic women of whom any nation might be justly proud. Here was a grand purpose,—a purpose which made her heart beat high within her bosom. She knew she had to write against popular feeling; she had the still more bitter knowledge that the greater number of those for whom she contended, cared little, and thought less, of the cause to which she was devoted, heart and soul. But what large mind was ever deterred from a great purpose by difficulties? The young Jewish girl, with few, if any, literary connections, with limited knowledge as to how she could set those things before the world, treasured up her intention for a while, and then imparted it to that mother who, she felt assured, would support her in whatever design was high and holy. Her mother <<334>>exulted in her daughter’s plan, and had faith in that daughter’s power to work it out; she believed in her noble child, and thanked the God of Israel, who had put the thought into her mind. Mrs. Aguilar knew that Grace had not made religion her study only for her own personal observance and profit. She knew that she embraced its principles in a widely-extended and truly liberal sense; the good of her people was her first, but not her sole, object. The Hebrew mother had frequently wept tears of joy and gratitude, when she observed how her beloved child carried her practice of the holy and benevolent precepts of her faith into every act of her daily life,—doing all the good her limited means permitted: finding time, in the midst of her cherished studies, and still more cherished domestic duties, and  most varied occupations, to work for and instruct her poor neighbours; and, while steadily venerating and adhering to her own faith, neither inquiring nor heeding the religious opinions of the needy whom she succoured or consoled. Her young life had flowed on in bestowing and receiving blessings, and now, when her aspiring soul sought still higher objects, how could  her mother, knowing her so well, doubt that she would falter or fail in her undertaking! Proofs have been for some time before the world that she did neither.       

She first translated a little work from the French, called “Israel Defended;” she tried her pinions in “The Magic Wreath,” and, feeling her mental strength, soared upwards in the cause of her people; she wrote “Home Influence,” and “The Spirit of Judaism.” But the triumphant spirit was, ere long, clogged by the body’s weakness. In the spring of 1838, she was attacked by measles, and from that illness she never perfectly recovered. Soon she commenced the work that of  itself is sufficient to create and crown a reputation—“The Women of Israel.” Bur while her mental powers increased in strength and activity, she became subject to repeated attacks of bodily prostration; and her once round and graceful form was but a shadow. The physician recommended change of air and scene; and sometimes she rallied, but there was no permanent improvement. Music was still, as it had ever been, her solace <<335>>and delight; but she was obliged to relinquish her practice of the harp, and to exercise her voice but seldom; still her spirit cried “On! on!” and every hour she could command was devoted to her pen.

“The Records of Israel,” “The Women of Israel,” and “The Jewish Faith,” separately and together, show how, heart and soul, she laboured in the cause she had so emphatically made , her own. The first publication relating so particularly to her own people met with but a cool reception from the English Jews; but in America (where the Hebrews enjoy perfect equality with their Christian brethren), they hailed this rising star with joy, and looked anxiously for its meridian. Letters and congratulations came to her across the Atlantic; and those who had read only her fugitive pieces were astonished at the concentrated zeal and pious energy which animated her when writing of the Hebrews.

A little “History of the English Jews,” published by the Messrs. Chambers, is perhaps superior to her other writings in style and finish; the sentences are more condensed, the information more full of interest. It was, we believe, her last labour of love, and she greatly rejoiced in its publication. When it was finished, she had resolved to visit the German baths, and enjoy, as much as her increased debility permitted, the society of her eldest brother, who at that time was studying music (the art in which he now so much excels) at Frankfort. Her youngest brother was at sea. There were times, even before her departure for Germany, that she felt as if her days were numbered; but this feeling she studiously concealed from her mother, and bore her sufferings with the sweet and placid patience which rendered it a privilege to see her and to hear her speak. At times, she really thought she might be spared a little longer to comfort her mother, to witness the distinction certain to reward her brother, and enjoy the reputation which now rushed upon her, especially from her own people, both here and in America.

Devotedly attached to her friends, she bitterly regretted that she could not take leave of them all; but her weakness increased <<336>>daily. Propped up by pillows, she still continued to write, until her medical advisers expressly commanded that she should abstain from this, her “greatest and last luxury.” She obeyed, though expressing her conviction that writing did her good, not harm. She frequently said that when oppressed by care, anxiety, and pain, her favourite pursuit drew her from herself; and she firmly believed that writing relieved her headaches,—and this at a period when she had grown too ill even to listen to music. But all, all her sufferings were borne with angelic patience, as the will of her Heavenly Father, and she would console her mother with words of cheerfulness and hope.

We have said her life had in it nothing to render it remarkable: surely, we are in error. Her patient, industrious, self-sacrificing life was remarkable not only for its sanctity, its talent, and its high purpose, but for its earnest and beautiful simplicity, and perfect womanliness.

When the period of her departure for Germany had arrived, her friends found it difficult to bid her farewell; for they thought it would be the last time they should ever press her thin, attenuated band; but the brightness of her eyes, the hopefulness of her smile, made them hope against hope. She left England on the 16th of June, 1847, lingered in the brilliant city of Frankfort for a few weeks, and then went to the baths at Langen-Schwalbach. She persevered in her use of the baths and mineral water; but they afforded no relief; she was seized one night with violent spasms, and the next day was removed to Frankfort. Convinced that recovery was now impossible, she calmly and collectedly awaited the coming of death; and though all power of speech was gone, she was able to make her wants and wishes known by conversing on her fingers. Her great anxiety was to soothe her mother. Though her tongue refused to perform its office, those wasted fingers would entreat her to be patient, and trust in God. She would name some cherished verse in the Bible, or some dearly-loved psalm, that she desired might be read aloud. The last time her fingers moved, it was to spell upon them feebly, “Though He slay me, yet, will I trust in Him.” When they could no longer perform her will, her <<337>> loving eyes would seek her mother, and then look upwards, intimating that they should meet hereafter. Amen.

Her death occasioned deep regret among the Hebrews, both in Europe and America. Foreign tabernacles poured forth their lamentations, private friends gave voice to their grief in prose and poetry, and the various journals of both hemispheres spoke of her with the respect and admiration she deserved. But, to those who really knew Grace Aguilar, all eulogium falls short of her deserts; and she has left a blank in her particular walk of literature, which we never expect to see filled up! Her loss to her own people is immense; she was a golden link between the Christian and the Jew; respected and admired alike by both, she drew each in charity closer to the other; she was a proof, living and illustrious, of Jewish excellence and Jewish liberality, and loyalty, and intelligence. The sling of the son of Jesse was not wielded with more power and effect against the scorner of his people, than was her pen against the giant Prejudice.

We have dwelt more than may be thought necessary on Grace Aguilar’s championship of her own people, because that distinguishes her from all other female authors of our time; and when writing of the “fold of Judah,” there is a tone of feeling in all she has published which elevates and sustains her in a remarkable manner. In conversation, the mention of her people produced the same effect. Sometimes she seemed as one inspired; and the intense brightness of her eyes, the deep tones of her voice, the natural and unaffected eloquence of her words, when referring to the past history of the Jews,—and the positive radiance of her countenance when she spoke of the gathering of the tribes at Jerusalem, could never be forgotten by those who knew this young Jewish lady. In time, as we have said, her own people estimated her as she deserved. She received a very beautiful address from some of the “women of Israel” before she left this country for Germany. Among her works of a more general nature, “Home Influence” is perhaps the most popular; and its sequel, “The Mother’s Recompense,” though only lately published, was written as far back as the year 1836.

“The <<338>>Vale of Cedars” is a tale of Jewish faith and Jewish suffering, founded on singular facts, that came to her knowledge through some of her own people. The arrangement of the story was difficult, as it is always difficult to embellish what is simple and dignified, without destroying its effect and beauty; but, as we have said, whenever Grace touched upon her own people, she wrote and spoke as one inspired;—she condensed and spiritualized, and all her thoughts and feelings were steeped in the essence of celestial love and truth. We are persuaded that, had this young woman lived in the perilous times of persecution, she would have gone to the stake for her faith’s sake, and died praying for her murderers. And this heroism was not only for the great trials of life; she was also a heroine in her endurance of small suffer­ings, and petty annoyances, deeming it sinful to manifest impatience, and thinking it right to be afflicted.

Grace Aguilar had earnestly desired that we should have met her at Frankfort; and the only letter we received from her after her arrival there, was full of the pleasant hope that we should meet again, in that cheerful city. This was, however, impossible; but when we knew that we should see her no more in this world, we promised ourselves a pilgrimage to her grave; and over all the plans which mingled with our dreams of the  splendid churches and vast cathedrals we were to see in Germany, would come a vision of Grace Aguilar’s quiet grave in the Jewish burying-ground of Frankfort-on-the-Maine; and all the reality of the animated, handsome city, its merchant palaces in the Zeil, and Neue Mainzer Strasse, its old Dom, so full of interest, with its fine monument of Rudolph of Sachsenhausen, beside which you cannot but recall the time when St. Bernard preached the crusade within its walls,—not even when we stood, alone beneath the roof of St. Leonhard’s Church, and knew that there once stood the palace of Charlemagne,—not there, nor anywhere, could we forget that we had vowed a pilgrimage to the grave of “the lost star of the house of Judah.”

How wild and inharmonious is the mingling of sights, as you whirl through continental cities! Heroic monuments, dark and deep dungeons, magnificent palaces, pictures, flowers, instru<<339>>ments of torture, delicious operas,—all crowded together in a few short days!

We had not failed to remember that the brilliant city of Frankfort was the cradle of the Rothschilds; and it had been suggested that, before we visited the Jews’ burying-ground, we should see “The Jews’ Quarter,” to look upon the house where the “very rich man was born,” and where his mother chose to live to the end of her many days, preferring, wise woman that she was, to dwell to the last amongst her own people yet living, we believe, long enough to know that her grandson represented in Parliament the first city of the modern world:—and so became a practical illustration of the altered position of the Jews in the middle of the nineteenth century, sheltered under the vine and fig-tree that flourishes in England.

In few of the German cities did the Jews endure more persecution than in the free city of Frankfort. During the past century the gates of the quarter to which they were confined were closed upon them at an early hour, and egress and ingress were alike denied. In 1796, Marshal Jourdan, in bombarding the town, knocked down the gate of the Jews’ quarter, and laid several houses in ruin; they have not since been replaced. Another tyrannical law, not repealed until 1834, restricted the number of Hebrew marriages in the city to thirteen yearly. It would seem, however, that, like the mother of the Rothschilds, the people continue to dwell in their own quarter from choice, not necessity; and well it is for the lover of the picturesque and for the antiquary that they do so.

A ramble in the Jew’s quarter at Frankfort might well repay a journey from London; it is like going back to the fourteenth century, and meeting the people you read of in history far gone. Imagine the narrowest possible streets through which a carriage can drive  flanked at either side by houses so high—that the blue sky above becomes an idea rather than a reality; story after story, with windows of ancient construction, small and narrow, enclosed by iron gratings; from which frequently depended portions of many-coloured draperies garments for sale, which might have been of the spoil of the Egyptian strong swords, and all kinds of <<340>>weapons, rust-worn; bunches of keys, whose handles would drive an antiquary distracted by their elaborate workmanship; dresses of all countries and all fashions, Fez caps, and old but costly turns. The rich balconies of the most exquisite design, however time-worn; the jalousies, sometimes within, sometimes without the windows; the Atlantes, supporting entablatures, lost none of their effect from being half-draped by a scarlet mantle or variegated scarf of Barbary. Numbers of the houses were profusely ornamented at intervals by ball-flowers in the hollow mouldings, and balustrades, supporting carved copings. Then above the doors, some of which evidently led to an inner court or a mysterious-looking passage, was inserted the most exquisitely-wrought iron work, sufficiently beautiful to form a model for a Berlin bracelet; while from a stealthy passage peered forth the half-shrouded face and illuminated eyes of dazzling brightness of some ancient Jewess, whose long, lean, yellow fingers grasped the strong but exquisitely-moulded handle of the entrance. The doors (except the very modern ones) were all of great strength, frequently studded with nails, and the bolts, now worn and rusty, had withstood many a rude assault. We passed beneath small oriel windows, supported by richly-carved stone brackets, gray and mouldering; and beside bay windows, of pure Gothic times; and when we gazed up—up —up—story after story, we saw what appeared to us more than one Belvedere, doubtless erected by some wealthy Jew as a place from whence he could overlook the city it was forbidden him to tread, or to enjoy pure air, which certainly he could not do in the densely close street beneath. Many of the brackets supporting a solitary balcony were of beautiful design, though the greater number were defaced and crumbling.

We also passed several of the fan-shaped windows so characteristic of the early German style, and here and there a quaint and fantastic gargoyle; from the mouth of one depended a bunch of soiled but many-coloured ribands.

What a vision it seems to us now—that wonderful Jew’s quarter of the bright (and busy city of Frankfort!—a vision of some far-off, Oriental Pompeii, repeopled in a dream! Never did we look upon faces so keen and withered, beards so <<341>>black, or eyes so bright. Once we saw a curly-headed child, half-naked in its swarthy beauty, throned, like a baby king, upon a pile of yellow cushions; and once again, as we drove slowly on, a tall young girl turned up a face of scornful beauty, as if she thought we pale-faced Christians had no business there—and those two young creatures were all we clearly observed of youthful beauty within the “Quarter.”

The avenues in the outskirts of German towns contribute greatly to their interest,—they protect from both sun and wind. We drove leisurely along that which leads to the Cemetery of Frankfort, and turned up a narrower road, that we might enter the walled-off portion of ground appropriated as the Jews’ burying-ground. Nothing can exceed the beauty of the view from the gate of entrance. The city is spread out in the valley like a panorama; the brightest sunshine illumined the scene; a girl was seated beneath the branches of a spreading tree in the distance;—she was a garland-weaver, and there she spent her days weaving garlands, which the living bought from her to place on the graves of their departed friends. The gates, were open. Mrs. Aguilar had told us that her grave was near the wall of the Protestant burying-ground,—and there we found it. The headstone which marks the spot bears upon it a butterfly and five stars, and beneath is the inscription—

“Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.”—Prov. xxxi. 31.

Our pilgrimage was accomplished. It was, though in a foreign city, a pilgrimage to an English shrine, for it was to the grave of an Englishwoman, pure and good. On the 16th of September, 1847, at the early age of thirty-one, Grace Aguilar was laid in that cemetery, far from the England she loved so well—the bowl was broken, the silver cord was loosed!

We cannot conclude this tribute to the memory of one we loved, respected, and admired, without extracting a portion of an address presented to her by several young Jewish ladies, before her departure for Germany. Had the gift which accom<<342>>panied it been of the richest and rarest jewels, and offered by the princes of this earthly world. it could not have been as acceptable as it was, coming from the hearts and hands of the maidens of her own faith.

We would simply add that the address is a proof, if proof were needed, that Jewish ladies not only feel and appreciate what is refined, and high, and holy, but know how to express their feelings beautifully and well. Its orientalism does not detract from its pure and sweet simplicity:—

Dear Sister:—Our admiration of your talents, our veneration for your character, our gratitude for the eminent services your writings render our sex, our people, our faith.—in which the sacred cause of true religion is embodied.—all these motives combine to induce us to intrude on your presence, in order to give utterance to sentiments which we are happy to feel, and delighted to express. Until you arose, it has, in modern times, never been the case that a woman in Israel, should stand forth the public advocate of the faith of Israel that with the depth and purity that is the treasure of woman, and the strength of mind and expansive knowledge that form the pride of man, she should call on her own to cherish, and others to respect the truth as it is in Israel. You, sister, have done this and more. You have taught us to know and appreciate our own dignity; to feel and to prove that no female    character can be more pure than that of the Jewish maiden—none more pious that that of the woman in Israel. You have vindicated our social and spiritual equality in the faith you have by your excellent example, triumphantly refuted the aspersion that religion leaves unmoved the heart of the Jewish woman—while your writings place within our reach the those higher motives, those holier consolations, which flow from the spirituality of our religion, which urge the soul to commune with its Maker, and directs us to His grace and His mercy as the best guide and protector here and hereafter.”

We can say nothing of Grace Aguilar or more eloquently or beautifully true. It is the just acknowledgement of a large debt from the women of Israel to a holy and good sister who, having done much to destroy prejudice and to inculcate charity, merits the thanks of the true Christian as much as of the conscientious Jew.