Графични страници
PDF файл

obtained so much consideration, that the ancestors of almost every noble family in Spain may be traced up to a Jewish head.

The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries are crowned with every calamity that could afflict a nation, pursued by all the blindness of ignorance and all the hatred of infatuated and powerful malevolence. Their sacred books were destroyed: their dwellings devastated; their temples razed; themselves visited by imprisonment and tortures; by private assassinations and extensive massacres.

When the infamous Ferdinand Fifth established or re-organized the Inquisition in Spain, the Jews were among its earliest victims. Two hundred thousand wretches were pursued by fire, sword, famine and pestilence, and he who should offer them shelter, food, or clothing, was to be punished as a felon. Of those who fled to the mountains many were murdered in cold blood, and others died miserably of hunger. Of those who embarked, thousands perished with their wives and children on the pitiless ocean.

Some reached the more hospitable regions of the North, and preserved the language and literature of their fathers; yet the epoch of their glory seemed departed, and the Arbabanels, the Cordozos, the Spinozas, and a few others, glimmer only amidst the general obscurity. The Jews, as a people, appeared wholly occupied in selfish worldliness, scarcely producing such a man as Mendelsohn, even in a century, and claiming for him then no renown in his Hebrew character.

The Jews seem to have partaken of the general character of the age; and scepticism and incredulity took their stand where ignorance and superstition had existed before. Yet the changes which had been extensively in action in the religious and political world, could not but produce some effect upon their situation. They had become too important a part of society to be passed by without notice; while their wealth and their great financial operations gave them extraordinary weight. They have been courted by kings, ennobled by emperors. All the concerns of states have been obliged to turn upon their individual will. They have become in a word the very monarchs of the earth, deciding the great question of peace or war-the arbiters, in truth of the destinies of man.

But it is not in this point of view that we mean to consider the Jews; nor are these “lords of the ascendani' the individuals among them that interest our afrections or excite our regard. The revival which we contemplate with delight is the revival of those old and holy associations which seemed buried in the abyss of worldliness, of that enlightened, that literary spirit, which gives the promise and is the pledge of brighter and better days. We see the young tree of truth and inquiry springing up in the waste. Its roots strike deep, its branches spread widely, it shall gather the people under its shade.

We know of nothing more touching, nothing more sublime, than the feelings with which an intelligent Hebrew must review the past and present, while he anticipates the future history of his race. That history begins, as he deems it will end, in triumph and in glory. Yet mists and chilling desolation envelope all the intermediate records. With what proud and glowing emotions must he trace the origin and progress of that religion, which he and his fathers have professed through trials sharper than the fiery furnace, for which all of them have suffered, and milions have died.

With Israel the living God condescended to convenant, and called them his chosen, his peculiar people.' Miracles and signs and wonders cover all their early wanderings with light, fair as the milky way across the arch of heaven. For them the cloudy pillar was raised in the desert; for them the column of fire dissipated the gloom and the terrors of night. Amidst thunderings and lightnings, and the voice of the trumpet and the presence of God, their law was promulgated; the bitter waters of Marah were made sweet to them; and manna fell from heaven as the nightly dew.-Well might they shout with their triumphant leader, The Lord is our strength, and our song, and our salvation."

Then come the days of darkness—and they are many. The glory of the temple is departed. They are scattered like chaff among the nations. Opprobrium and iusult hunt them through the earth. Shame and suffering bend them to the very dust, till degrada tion drags them to the lowest depth of misery-Al the cruelties that ferocity can invent; all the infatua tion that furious blindness can generate; all the terrors that despotism can prepare, are poured out upon their unsheltered heads. Warrants go forth for their extirpation; yet the race is preserved. Those who most hate and persecute one another, all unite to torture them. Exile, imprisonment, death-these are the least of their woes. Why should the picture be drawn ?the soul is lacerated with the contemplation. Those generations are gathered to their fathers. Stilled are their sorrows and their joys.

Next a few dim rays play across the path of time. Civilization and freedom gathering the human race bereath their wings, and protecting them all by the gen nerous influence of a widely pervading benevolence, raise the race of Israel to their rank among the nations. -Then hidden in the deeper recesses of futurity, what visions of splendor are unveiled! The gathering of the tribes, Jerusalem the glorious temple, their own Messiah ;-but the thoughts falter, the spirit is troubled.--Yet the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.'

Under the influence of thoughts like these Da Costa must have composed the hymn, of which we venture to give a translation. It breathes, it burns with all the blended emotions of pride and indignation ; hope deferred that sickeneth the heart; of confidence; of despair; of virtue wounded by contumely and true nobility insulted by contempt: there is a spirit roused by a contemplation of injustice, and a sense of wrong soaring from eloquence to sublimity.

Yes! bear-confide-be patient ever

My brethren of the chosen race!
Whose name oblivion blighted never,

Whose glories time shall ne'er efface;

[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

A heavenly flame is brightly soaring,

Behind the clouds of earthly wo:
Bhout, Israel! shout, with joy adoring,

Your Prince's-Saviour's advent show.

Lion of Judah, roar and greet him,

Hail his majestic march once more:
Come Adam's race! with blessings meet him

And rank again, as rank'd of yore.
Announce him from on high thou thunder!

Bend your proud heads, ye hills around!
Fall, kingdom of deceit, asunder,

In ruins at our trumpet's sound.

Behold the long expected gladness!

Salvation's morn again appears;
The meed for suffering, scorn, and sadness,

The citadel 'gainst foes and fears.
With hope like this to live or perish,

Is our redemption-duty-joy!
Which when our souls shall cease to cherish,
Those guilty souls, O God, destroy!

VOL. I. 81-86.

FIDELITY. A faithful friend is the repository of our secrets, and is like a precious stone, which has no spots, and which is not to be purchased but by the returns of the same nature. Happy he who finds such a friend; for to him he can trust his most secret thoughts, and in him find a consolation at all times.

Diodorus, the Sicilian, says, that among the Egyptians it was a criminal matter, to discover a secret with which they were entrusted, and one of their priests, being convictel of this offence was banished his country. Certainly, nothing can be more just, than that a secret entrusted to a friend, under the sanction of good faith and secrecy, should be considered as a sacred thing, and that to divulge it, under any pretence whatever, is a profanation of the most sacred duties.

Plutarch remarks, that the Albanians, being at war with Philip, king of Macedon, one day intercepted a letter, which he had written to Olympia, his wife. They sent it back to him unopened, that they might not be obliged to read it in public, saying, that their Jaws forbid them to betray a sietet.

« ПредишнаНапред »