ever punctual, of the law. In the competition for this world's goods it is pretty clear that the legalist will be apt to have the advantage, and at the same time that bis conduct will often appear not right to those whose highest monitor is not the law. The Agnostic, seeing what he deems the reveries of Christianity rejected by the Jew, and imagining this to be the cause of quarrel, is ready to take the Jew to his heart. But it may be questioned whether he will find the affinity so close as at first sight it appears. The Agnostic after all is the child of Christendom. He is still practically the liegeman of the Christian conscience, whatever account of its genesis he may have given to himself. He has a social ideal, not that of the Church, but that of humanity, which has come to him through the Church, and which is utterly at variance with the pretension of a chosen race. Mr. Wolf's text, Ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves,' would not express the aspirations of a Positivist any more than those of a Christian.

Apart from these local collisions, there is a general curiosity, not unmingled with anxiety, to know what course in politics the enfranchised Jew will take. He is everywhere making his way into the political arena, which indeed, under the system of party government, suits his traditional habits almost as well as the stock exchange. A money power is sure in the main to be conservative, and the inclination of Jewish wealth to the side of reaction in England and other countries is already becoming apparent. Poor Jews will be found in the revolutionary, and even in the socialist, camp. But in whatever camp the Jew is found he will be apt for some time, unless the doctrine of heredity is utterly false, to retain the habits formed during eighteen centuries of itinerant existence, without a country, and under circumstances which rendered cunning, suppleness, and intrigue almost as necessary weapons of self-defence in his case as the sword and the lance were in the case of the feudal soldier. He will be often disposed to study the spirit of the age 'much as he studies the stock list and to turn the knowledge to his own profit in the same way. It is very likely that he may sometimes outrun and overact national sentiment or even national passion, which he does not himself share. This is one of the dangerous liabilities of his character as a statesman. It might have been supposed that the Jews, having been for so many centuries shut out from military life, would be free from militarism; indeed, a high rank in civilisation has been plausibly claimed for them on that ground. Yet a Jewish statesman got up Jingoism much as he would have got up a speculative mania for a commercial purpose, and his consuming patriotism threw quite into the shade that of men who, though opposed to Jingoism, would have given their lives for the country. Among the ablest and most active organisers of that rebellion in the United States which cost a thousand millions stering and half a million of lives, was a Jewish senator from Louisiana,

[ocr errors]

who when the crash came, unlike the other leaders, went off to push his fortune elsewhere. There was no particular reason why he should not do so, being, as he was, a member of a cosmopolitan race; but there was a particular reason why the people who had no other country should receive his counsels with caution in a question of national life or death. A political adventurer will not be sparing of that which in the pride of Jewish superiority he regards as "gutter blood.' Joseph, being the Prime Minister of Pharaoh, displays his statecraft for the benefit of his employer by teaching him to take advantage of the necessities of the people in a time of famine for the purpose of getting them to surrender their freeholds into the royal hands. He would no doubt have played the game of an aristocracy or even of a democracy in the samne spirit, though his natural taste, as an Oriental, would lead him if possible to be the vizier of an absolute monarch. There are some who think that the Hebrew adventurer, with a cool head and a cool heart, may be specially useful as a mediator between heated political parties, and a reconciler of the interests which they represent. But this is surely a condemnation of party rather than a recommendation of the Hebrew.

Mr. Oliphant, in the work to which reference has already been made, proposes that Palestine should be restored to the Jew, with some of the vacant country adjoining; and it appears that this plan is not unlikely to be carried into effect. The restoration of their own land may have the same good influence upon the Jews which it has had upon the Greeks. It is not likely that of those now settled in the West any considerable number would ever turn their steps eastward. We know the anecdote of the Parisian Jew who said that if the kingdom of Jerusalem was restored he should ask for the ambassadorship at Paris; but the westward flow of migration might be checked, and from the eastern parts of Europe, where the relations of the Jews to the native population are very bad, some of them might return to their own land. Mr. Oliphant seems to have little hope of seeing the Jews, even in Palestine, take to husbandry, and proposes that they should be the landowners, and that the land should be tilled for them by fellahs.' We must assume that fellahs convinced of the validity of the Jews' claim to exemption from the indignity of manual labour will be found. But necessity would in time compel the Jew once more to handle the plough. The situation at all events would be cleared, and the statesmen who are now inditing despatches about religious toleration would see that Israel is not a sect but a tribe, and that the difficulty with which they have to deal arises not merely from difference of opinion, or any apimosities produced by it, but from consecrated exclusiveness of race.

In one respect the Jew certainly has a right to complain, even in a country where his emancipation has been most complete, not of

persecution, but of what may be called a want of religious delicacy and courtesy on the part of Christians. He is singled out as the object of a special propagandism carried on by such societies as that for the conversion of the Jews. The conduct of those who are trying to impart to him the truth which they believe necessary to salvation is not 'demoniac,' but the reverse; yet it is easy to understand his annoyance and indignation. The barrenness of this propagandism in proportion to the money and effort spent on it is notorious; the object against which it is directed is not mere intellectual conviction, but something as ingrained and tenacious as caste. Simple respect for the Jew's opinions and perfect religious courtesy are more likely to reach his mind than any special propaganda.

Of the lack of theological interest in him the Jew can scarcely complain. If there has been error here, it has certainly been on the side of exaggeration. The formal relation of Christianity in its origin to Judaism perhaps we know; its essential relation, hardly. What was a peasant of Galilee? Under what influence, theological or social, did he live? Who can exactly tell? We have a series of Lives of Christ, from which eager readers fancy that they derive some new information about the Master, but which, in fact, are nothing but the gospel narrative shredded and mingled with highly-seasoned descriptions of Jewish customs and of the scenery of the lake of Gennesaret, while the personal idiosyncrasy of the biographer strongly flavours the whole. If there are any things of which we are sure, they are that Galilee was a place out of which orthodox Judaism thought that no good could come; that the teaching of the Galileans was essentially opposed to that of the Jewish doctor, and that Judaism strove to crush Christianity by all the means in its power. Thus if Israel was the parent of Christendom, it was as much in the way of antagonism as in that of generation. There is an incomparably greater affinity between Christianity and Platonism or Stoicism, than between Christianity and the Talmud. ated notion of Christians about the importance of the Jews has been curiously reproduced of late in an unexpected quarter, and under a most fantastic form. Even when theological belief has departed, religious sentiment is not easily expelled, nor does the love of the mysterious die out at once, especially in a woman's breast. Miss Martineau, after renouncing Theism, indemnified herself with mesmeric fancies. The authoress of Daniel Deronda' in like manner indemnified herself with the Jewish mystery. No Jewish mystery, except a financial one, exists. Daniel Deronda is a showman who, if, after taking our money, he were desired to raise the curtain, would be obliged to confess that he had nothing to show. A relic of Tribalism, however vast and interesting, is no more hallowed than any other boulder of a primeval world. Every tribe was the chosen people of its own God; and if it were necessary to institute a com

The exagger

parison between the different races in respect of their sacredness,' which it happily is not, the least sacred of all would be that which had most persistently refused to come into the allegiance of humanity.

One more remark is suggested by the discussion of the Jewish question, and perhaps it is the most important of all. It is surely time for the rulers of Christian Churches in general, and for those of the Established Church in particular, to consider whether the sacred books of the Hebrews ought any longer to be presented as they are now to Christian people as pictures of the Divine character and of the Divine dealings with mankind. Historical philosophy reads them with a discriminating eye. It severs the tribal and the primæval from the universal, that which is perennially moral, such as most of the commandments in the Decalogue, from that which by the progress of humanity has ceased to be so. It marks, in the midst of that which is utterly unspiritual and belongs merely to primitive society or to the Semite of Palestine, the faint dawn of the spiritual, and traces its growing brightness through the writings of prophets and psalmists till it becomes day. But the people are not historical philosophers. Either they will be misled by the uncritical reading of the Old Testament or they will be repelled. Hitherto they have been misled, and some of the darkest pages of Christian history, including those which record the maltreatment of Jews in so far as it was religious, have been the result of their aberrations. Now they are being repelled, and the repulsion is growing stronger and more visible every day. It is not necessary, and it might be irritating, to rehearse the long series of equivocal passages which shocked the moral sense of Bishop Colenso, and of which Mr. Ingersoll, the great apostle of Agnosticism in America, makes use in his popular lectures with terrible effect. The question is one of the most practical kind, and it will not well brook delay. It is incomparably more urgent than that of Biblical revision.

I cannot conclude without repeating that if this was a case of opposition to religious liberty, I should thoroughly share the emotions and heartily echo the words of Mr. Lucien Wolf. But I have convinced myself—and I think Mr. Wolf's own paper when carefully examined affords proof—that it is a case of a different kind.




I HAVE assumed throughout these papers, that everybody knew what Fiction meant; as Mr. Mill assumed in his Political Economy, that everybody knew what wealth meant. The assumption was convenient to Mr. Mill, and persisted in: but, for my own part, I am not in the habit of talking, even so long as I have done in this instance, without making sure that the reader knows what I am talking about; and it is high time that we should be agreed upon the primary notion of what a Fiction is.

A feigned, fictitious, artificial, super-natural, put-together-out-ofone's-head, thing. All this it must be, to begin with. The best type of it being the most practically fictile-a Greek vase.

A thing which has two sides to be seen, two handles to be carried by, and a bottom to stand on, and a top to be poured out of, this, every right fiction is, whatever else it may be. Planned rigorously, rounded smoothly, balanced symmetrically, handled handily, lipped softly for pouring out oil and wine. Painted daintily at last with images of eternal things

For ever shalt thou love, and she be fair, Quite a different thing from a "cast',--this work of clay in the hands of the potter, as it seemed good to the potter to make it. Very interesting, a cast from life may perhaps be; more interesting, to some people perhaps, a cast from death ;-most modern novels are like specimens from Lyme Regis, impressions of skeletons in mud.

• Planned rigorously'— I press the conditions again one by one-it must be, as ever Memphian labyrinth or Norman fortress. Intricacy full of delicate surprise; covered way in secrecy of accurate purposes, not a stone useless, nor a word nor an incident thrown away.

Rounded smoothly'—the wheel of Fortune revolving with it in unfelt swiftness; like the world, its story rising like the dawn, closing like the sunset, with its own sweet light for every hour.

· Balanced symmetrically'-having its two sides clearly separate, its war of good and evil rightly divided. Its figures moving in majestic law of light and shade.

Handled handily'--so that, being careful and gentle, you can

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »