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Title: The Jew, The Gypsy and El Islam

Author: Richard F. Burton

Editor: W. H. Wilkins

Release Date: May 24, 2018 [EBook #57208]

Language: English

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From the portrait by Lord Leighton               F. Jenkins Imp. Paris
Richard F. Burton
[Arabic: الحج عبدالله: Al-Hajj 'abd Allah]

The Jew, The Gypsy


El Islam

By the late Captain



Translator of
“The Thousand and One Nights,” and Author of “The
Book of the Sword,” “My Pilgrimage to Mecca,” etc.

Edited with a Preface and Brief Notes


Hutchinson & Co
Paternoster Row


Printed by Hazell, Watson, & Viney, Ld., London and Aylesbury.

[Pg v]


“Good wine needs no bush,” and a good book needs no preface, least of all from any but the author’s pen. This is a rule more honoured in the breach than the observance nowadays, when many a classic appears weighed down and obscured by the unnecessary remarks and bulky commentaries of some unimportant editor. For my part it will suffice to give as briefly as possible the history of the MSS. now published for the first time in this volume.

Sir Richard Burton was a voluminous writer. In addition to the forty-eight works published during his life, there remained at his death twenty MSS., some long and some short, in different stages of completion. A few were ready for press; others were finished to all intents and purposes, and only required final revision or a few additions; some were in a state of preparation merely, and for that reason may never see the light. Those in this volume[Pg vi] belong to the second category. That so many of Burton’s MSS. were unpublished at the time of his death arose from his habit of working at several books at a time. In his bedroom, which also served as his study, at Trieste were some ten or twelve rough deal tables, and on each table were piled the materials and notes of a different book in a more or less advanced stage of completion. When he was tired of one, or when he came to a standstill for lack of material, he would leave it for a time and work at another. During the last few years of his life the great success which attended his Arabian Nights led him to turn his attention more to that phase of his work, to the exclusion of books which had been in preparation for years. Thus it came about that so many were unpublished when he died.

As it is well known, he left his writings, published and unpublished, to his widow, Lady Burton, absolutely, to do with as she thought best. Lady Burton suppressed what she deemed advisable; the rest she brought with her to England. She published her Life of Sir Richard Burton, a new edition of his Arabian Nights, also Catullus and Il Pentamerone; and was arranging for the publication of others when she died (March, 1896).

Her sister and executrix, Mrs. Fitzgerald (to[Pg vii] whom I should like to express my gratitude for the many facilities she has given me), thought fit to entrust me with the work of editing and preparing for publication the remaining MSS. In the exercise of the discretion she was good enough to vest in me, I determined to bring out first the three MSS. which make up this book.

The first part—The Jew—has a somewhat curious history. Burton collected most of the materials for writing it from 1869 to 1871, when he was Consul at Damascus. His intimate knowledge of Eastern races and languages, and his sympathy with Oriental habits and lines of thought, gave him exceptional facilities for ethnological studies of this kind. Disguised as a native, and unknown to any living soul except his wife, the British Consul mingled freely with the motley populations of Damascus, and inspected every quarter of the city—Muslim, Christian, and Jewish. His inquiries bore fruit in material, not only for this general essay on the Jew, but for an Appendix dealing with the alleged rite of Human Sacrifice among the Sephardím or Eastern Jews, and more especially the mysterious murder of Padre Tomaso at Damascus in 1840. There is little doubt that his inquiry into these subjects was one of the reasons which[Pg viii] aroused the hostility of the Damascus Jews against him; and that hostility was a powerful factor, though by no means the only one, in his recall by Lord Granville in 1871.

Burton, however, had collected a mass of material before he left Damascus, and in 1873, the year after he had been appointed Consul at Trieste, he began to put it into shape for publication. It was his habit to collect for many years the material of a work, to mark, learn, and inwardly digest it, and then write it in a few months. This plan he pursued with The Jew, which, with the Appendix before mentioned, was finished and ready for publication towards the end of 1874.

In 1875 he came home from Trieste on leave, and brought the book with him, intending to publish it forthwith. But first he asked an influential friend, who was highly placed in the official world, to read the MS., and give him his opinion as to the expediency of publishing it. That opinion was adverse, owing to the anti-Semitic tendency of the book. Other friends also pointed out to Burton that, so long as he remained in the service of the Government of a country where the Jews enjoy unprecedented power and position, it would be unwise, to say the least of it, for him to make enemies of them. These[Pg ix] arguments had weight with Burton, who was not as a rule influenced by anything but his own will, and for once he deemed discretion the better quality, and returned with his MS. to Trieste. There were other considerations too. His wife had just brought out her Inner Life of Syria, which was partly devoted to a defence of his action at Damascus in the matter of the Jews. It had met with a very favourable reception. His friends were also endeavouring to obtain for him a K.C.B. and the post of Tangier, Morocco—the one thing he stayed in the Consular Service in the hope of obtaining. So the time (1875) was not deemed a propitious one for making enemies.

Burton put his MS. on the shelf, and waited for the promotion which never came. It remained there until 1886, when Tangier, which was as good as promised to Burton, was given by Lord Rosebery to Sir William Kirby-Green. Then Burton took down the MS. on The Jew again, and had it recopied. But his wife, who was endeavouring to obtain permission for him to retire on full pension, pointed out to him that since it had waited so long it might as well wait until March, 1891, when, his term of service being finished, they would retire from official life and be free to publish what they[Pg x] liked. Moreover, they numbered many friends among the wealthy Jews of Trieste, and had no wish to wound their susceptibilities. Burton reluctantly agreed to this, but declared his determination of publishing the book as soon as he had retired from the Consular Service. Five months before the date of his retirement he died.

Lady Burton had The Jew next on her list for publication at the time of her death. In publishing it now, therefore, one is only carrying out her wishes and those of her husband. But in the exercise of the discretion given to me, I have thought it better to hold over for the present the Appendix on the alleged rite of Human Sacrifice among the Sephardím and the murder of Padre Tomaso. The only alternative was to publish it in a mutilated form; and as I hold strongly that no one has a right to mutilate the work of another writer, least of all of one who is dead, I prefer to withhold it until a more convenient season. I can do this with a clearer conscience, because the Appendix has no direct bearing on the other part of the book, and because the chapters on The Jew which are retained are by far the more important. The tone of even this portion is anti-Semitic; but I do not feel justified in going contrary to the wishes of the author[Pg xi] and suppressing an interesting ethnological study merely to avoid the possibility of hurting the susceptibilities of the Hebrew community. It has been truly said, “Every nation gets the Jew it deserves,” and it may well be that the superstitions and cruelties of the Eastern Jews have been generated in them by long centuries of oppression and wrong. From these superstitions and cruelties the enlightened and highly favoured Jews in England naturally shrink with abhorrence and repudiation; but it does not therefore follow they have no existence among their less fortunate Eastern brethren.

The Gypsy has a far less eventful history, though the materials for its making were collected during a period of over thirty years, and were gathered for the most part by personal research, in Asia mainly, and also in Africa, South America, and Europe. Burton’s interest in the Gypsies was lifelong; and when he was a lieutenant in the Bombay Army and quartered in Sindh, he began his investigations concerning the affinity between the Jats and the Gypsies. During his many travels in different parts of the world, whenever he had the opportunity he collected fresh materials with a view to putting them together some day. In 1875 his controversy with Bataillard provoked him into compiling his[Pg xii] long-contemplated work on the Gypsies. Unfortunately other interests intervened, and the work was never completed. It was one of the many unfinished things Burton intended to complete when he should have quitted the Consular Service. He hoped, for instance, to make fuller inquiries concerning the Gypsies in France, Germany, and other countries of Europe, and especially he intended to write a chapter on the Gypsies in England on his return home. Even as it stands, however, The Gypsy is a valuable addition to ethnology; for apart from Burton’s rare knowledge of strange peoples and tongues, his connexion with the Gypsies lends to the subject a unique interest. There is no doubt that he was affiliated to this strange people by nature, if not by descent. To quote from the Gypsy Lore Journal[1]:

“Whether there may not be also a tinge of Arab, or perhaps of Gypsy blood in Burton’s race, is a point which is perhaps open to question. For the latter suspicion an excuse may be found in the incurable restlessness which has beset him since his infancy, a restlessness which has effectually prevented him from ever settling long in any one place, and in the singular idiosyncrasy which his friends have[Pg xiii] often remarked—the peculiarity of his eyes. ‘When it (the eye) looks at you,’ said one who knows him well, ‘it looks through you, and then, glazing over, seems to see something behind you. Richard Burton is the only man (not a Gypsy) with that peculiarity, and he shares with them the same horror of a corpse, death-bed scenes, and graveyards, though caring little for his own life.’ When to this remarkable fact be added the scarcely less interesting detail that ‘Burton’ is one of the half-dozen distinctively Romany names, it is evident that the suspicion of Sir Richard Burton having a drop of Gypsy blood in his descent—crossed and commingled though it be with an English, Scottish, French, and Irish strain—is not altogether unreasonable.”

On this subject Lady Burton also wrote:

“In the January number of the Gypsy Lore Journal a passage is quoted from ‘a short sketch of the career’ of my husband (a little black pamphlet) which half suspects a remote drop of Gypsy blood in him. There is no proof that this was ever the case; but there is no question that he showed many of their peculiarities in appearance, disposition, and speech—speaking Romany like themselves. Nor did we ever enter a Gypsy camp without their claiming him: ‘What are you doing with a black coat on?[Pg xiv]’ they would say; ‘why don’t you join us and be our King?’”[2]

Whether the affinity was one of blood or of nature does not greatly matter; in either case it lends a special interest to Burton’s study of the gypsy.

Of El Islam; or, The Rank of Muhammadanism among the Religions of the World there is little to be said. It is one of the oldest of the Burton MSS.; and though it bears no date, from internal evidence I judge it to have been written soon after his famous pilgrimage to Mecca in 1853. It is, in fact, contemporary with his poem The Kasîdah, though I know not why the poem was published and the essay withheld. Probably Burton contemplated writing more fully on the subject. Muhammadanism in its highest aspect always attracted him. So long ago as 1848 we find him preparing for his Mecca pilgrimage, not only by learning the Koran and practising rites and ceremonies, but by “a sympathetic study of Sufi-ism, the Gnosticism of El Islam, which would raise me high above the rank of a mere Muslim.”[3] Lady Burton writes: “This stuck to him off and on all his life”; and, it may be added, gave a colour to his writings.[Pg xv] Since Burton wrote this essay (now published for the first time) a change has taken place among thinking men in the estimate of El Islam among the religions of the world. Writers like Lane Poole, Isaac Taylor, and Bosworth Smith, to name no others, have cleared away many misconceptions concerning the “Saving Faith,” and have discussed its merits as a humanizing creed. But the testimony of a man like Burton, who by personal observation studied thoroughly the “inner life of the Muslim,” who absolutely lived the life of an Arab pilgrim, and penetrated to the Holy of Holies, of necessity carries peculiar weight.

I should like to say a few words concerning the author’s MSS. So many conflicting rumours have appeared with reference to the late Sir Richard Burton’s MSS., that it is well to state that these are here reproduced practically as they left the author’s hands.[4] It has been my endeavour to avoid over-editing, and to interfere as little as possible with the original text. Hence editorial notes, always in square brackets, are sparingly introduced. It has not been found necessary to make any verbal changes[Pg xvi] of importance. But the case is different with the spelling of proper names, which were left in such a chaotic condition that a revision was found indispensable, so as to reduce them to some measure of uniformity. The variants were so many and the MS. so difficult to decipher, that I am fain to crave indulgence for my performance of this somewhat troublesome task.

In conclusion, I will only add that it has been my endeavour to give a full and accurate presentment of these hitherto unpublished MSS. There are more to follow; but these form a good sample of the work of the famous Oriental traveller in fields which he made peculiarly his own. They are eminently characteristic of the man. They give glimpses of him once more as a bold and original thinker, a profound student of men and things, as a rare genius, if a wayward one, and as one of the most remarkable personalities of our day and generation.



[1] January, 1891.

[2] Lady Burton’s life of Her Husband, Vol. I., p. 252.

[3] Burton’s Reminiscences, written for Mr. Hitchman in 1888.

[4] In the case of the Appendix on Human Sacrifice among the Sephardím or Eastern Jews and the murder of Padre Tomaso, I have (as before stated) preferred to hold it over to publishing it in a mutilated form.

[Pg xvii]


§ 1. Preliminaries157
§ 2. “Derniers Travaux, etc.”172
§ 3. “Origines, etc.”183
§ 4. “Notes et Questions, etc.,” “Sur le mot Zagaie, etc.”197
§ 1. The Panjabi Jats211
§ 2. The Jats of Belochistan215
§ 3. The Gypsies of Persia217
§ 4. The Gypsies of Syria219
§ 5. The Gypsies of the Haurán, South-Eastern Syria228
§ 6. The Gypsies of Damascus231
§ 1. The Egyptian Ghajar or Ghagar233
§ 2. The Gzane of Algeria and Morocco258
[Pg xix]§ 3. The Gypsies in Inner Africa261
§ 1. The Gypsy in Hungary263
§ 2. The Gypsies of Spain269
The Gypsies of the Brazil282

[Pg 1]


[Pg 3]



The history of the Jew as well as his physiological aspect are subjects which still remain to be considered and carefully to be worked out from an Aryan point of view. We have of late years seen books in plenty upon points of detail: let us particularize The Physical History of the Jewish Race, by Dr. Josiah Clark Nott[5] (Charleston, 1850); Le Juif, par le Chevalier Geargenot des Monceseaux (Paris: Henri Plon, 1871); and Notices of the Jews and their Country by the Classic Writers of Antiquity: being a Collection of Statements and Opinions translated from the Works of Greek and Latin Heathen Authors previous to a.d. 500, by John Gill (London: Longmans, 1872). But in these, as in other works, we find wanting a practical and personal familiarity with the subject, nor can we be surprised at its absence. It is generally assumed[Pg 4] that at the present moment there are six millions of Jews scattered over the face of the earth. Some have exaggerated the total to nine millions and a half; but even the former figure is a greater number, says M. Crémieux, than the nation could boast of at any other period of its history, ancient or modern.[6] Throughout the world also the race increases with such marvellous rapidity as a rule, which admits of few exceptions, that philosophical inquirers are[Pg 5] beginning to ask whether this immense fecundity, taken in connexion with the exceptionally healthy and vigorous physique of the race, its ubiquity and its cosmopolitanism, does not point to a remarkable career in times to come.

The ethnologist and the student of general history are urgently invited to consider the annals and the physical and intellectual aspects of the children of Israel, perhaps the most interesting subject that can occupy their attention. The Jew, like the Gypsy, stands alone, isolated by character, if not by blessing. Traditionally, or rather according to its own tradition, the oldest family on earth, it is at the same time that which possesses the most abundant vitality. Its indestructible and irrepressible life-power enables this nation without a country to maintain an undying nationality and to nourish a sentiment of caste with a strength and a pertinacity unparalleled in the annals of patriotism. The people that drove the Jews from Judæa, the empires which effaced the kingdoms of Israel and Judah from the map of the world, have utterly perished. The descendants of the conquering Romans are undistinguishable from the rest of mankind. But, eighteen hundred years after the Fall of Jerusalem, the dispersed Jewish people have a distinct existence, are a power in every European capital, conduct the financial operations of nations and governments, and are to be found wherever civilization has extended[Pg 6] and commerce has penetrated; in fact, it has made all the world its home.

One obstacle to a matured and detailed ethnological study of the Jew is the difficulty of becoming familiar with a people scattered over the two hemispheres. Though the race is one, the two great factors blood and climate have shown it to be anything but immutable, either in physique or in character. Compare, for instance, the two extremes—the Tatar-faced Karaïte of the Crimea with the Semitic features of Morocco, the blond lovelocks of Aden and the fiery ringlets of Germany with the greasy, black hair of Houndsditch. And as bodily form differs greatly, there is perhaps a still greater distinction in mental characteristics: we can hardly believe the peaceful and industrious Dutch Jew a brother of the fanatic and ferocious Hebrew who haunts the rugged Highlands of Safed in the Holy Land. Yet though these differences constitute almost a series of sub-races, there is one essentially great quality which cements and combines the whole house of Israel.

The vigour, the vital force, and the mental capacity of other peoples are found to improve by intermixture; the more composite their character, the greater their strength and energy. But for generation after generation the Jews have preserved, in marriage at least, the purity of their blood. In countries where they form but a small percentage of[Pg 7] the population the range of choice must necessarily be very limited, and from the very beginning of his history the Jew, like his half-brother the Arab, always married, or was expected to marry, his first cousin. A well-known traveller of the present day has proved that this can be done with impunity only by unmixed races of men, and that the larger the amount of mixture in blood the greater will be the amount of deformity in physique and morale to be expected from the offspring. Consanguineous marriages are dangerous in England, and far more dangerous, as De Hone has proved, in Massachusetts. Yet the kings of Persia intermarried with their sisters, and the Samaritan branch of the Jews is so closely connected that first cousins are almost sisters.

Physically and mentally the Jewish man and woman are equal in all respects to their Gentile neighbours, and in some particulars are superior to them. The women of the better class are strongly and symmetrically shaped; and although their beauty of feature is not that admired by the Christian eye, debility and deformity are exceptionally rare. In grace of form and in charm of manner they are far superior to their husbands and brothers, and indeed this everywhere appears to be a sub-characteristic racial feature. They are nowhere remarkably distinguished for chastity, and in some places, Morocco for instance, their immorality is proverbial. Their grand[Pg 8] physique does not age like that of the natives of the strange countries which they colonize and where Europeans readily degenerate, they preserve youth for ten years longer than their rivals, they become mothers immediately after puberty, and they bear children to a far later age. Their customs allow them to limit the family, not by deleterious drugs and dangerous operations, but by the simple process of prolonging the period of lactation, and barrenness is rare amongst them as in the days when it was looked upon as a curse. There is scarcely any part of the habitable globe, from the Highlands of Abyssinia to the Lowlands of Jamaica, in which the Jewish people cannot be acclimatized more readily and more rapidly than the other races of Europe—also the result of blood comparatively free from that intermixture which brings forward the inherent defects of both parents.

The Jews also enjoy a comparative immunity from various forms of disease which are the scourge of other races. Pulmonary and scrofulous complaints are rare amongst them; leprosy and elephantiasis are almost extinct; and despite their impurity in person and the exceptional filth of their dwelling-places, they are less liable to be swept away by cholera and plague than the natives of the countries which are habitually ravaged by those epidemics. They seldom suffer from the usual infectious results, even where the women are so unchaste that honour[Pg 9] seems as unknown to them as honesty to the men.

Physiologists have asked, How is this phenomenon to be accounted for? Why is the duration of life greater among the Jews than among the other races of Europe? Is it the result of superior organization or of obedience to the ceremonial law? The researches of those who have made these questions their special study supply but one satisfactory or sufficient answer, and it may be summed up in six words—a prodigious superiority of vital power. And all the laws attributed to the theistic secularism of Moses were issued with one object—namely, that of hardening and tempering the race to an extent which even Sparta ignored. The ancient Jew was more than half a Bedawin, and not being an equestrian race his annual journeys to and from Jerusalem were mostly made on foot. His diet was carefully regulated, and his year was a succession of fasts and feasts, as indeed it is now, but not to such an extent as formerly. The results were simply the destruction of all the weaklings and the survival of the fittest.

Thrice during the year, by order of the Torah (Deut. xvi. 16)—namely (1) in the Passover, or feast of unleavened bread during the first ecclesiastical and the seventh civil month; (2) at Pentecost, or Shebaoth (weeks), the feast of the wheat harvest in the third or the ninth month; and (3) at the Feast of Tabernacles, or the ingathering of the harvest[Pg 10] in the seventh or the first month—the Jew of old was religiously commanded to appear before the Lord. He was bound to leave his home, which might be distant a hundred and fifty miles, and travel up to Jerusalem, where he led a camp life like his half-brothers in the Desert. This semi-nomad life was combined with a quasi-ascetic condition produced by the frequency and the severity of his fasts and by the austerities attending upon making ready for the Sabbath, that is to say, the preparations of Friday evening—some religious men even in the present age suffer nothing to pass their lips for seven consecutive days and nights.[7] This afflicting the soul, as it is called, served to breed a race equally hard and hardy in frame and mind. It embodied to perfection the idea of the sacrifice of personal will. Add to this the barbarous and ferocious nature of their punishments, amongst which stoning by the congregation is perhaps the most classical, and the perpetual bloodshed in the Temple, which must have suggested a butcher’s shambles.

[Pg 11]

Again, the history and traditions, the faith and practice of the Jew ever placed before his eyes the absolute and immeasurable superiority of his own caste, the “Peculiar People, the Kingdom of Priests, the Holy Nation.” This exaltation justified the Hebrew in treating his brother-men as heathens barely worthy of the title of human. “Lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations”—an unfriendly separation and an estrangement between man and man equally injurious to the welfare of Jew and Gentile. It grew a rank crop of hideous crimes committed in the fair name of religion—what nation but the Hebrew could exult over a Jephthah who “did with his daughter according to his own,” that is, burnt her to death before the Lord? At the same time it inculcated a rare humanity amongst its own members unknown to all other peoples of antiquity: for instance, it allowed the coward to retire from the field before battle, and, strange to say, it inculcated the very highest of moral dogmas. In 250 b.c. Sochæus, and after him the Pharisees, according to Josephus, taught that God should be served, not for gain, but for love and gratitude: hence his follower Sadík forbade the looking forward to futurity, even as Moses had neglected the doctrine with studious care. Even in the present age of the world such denegation of egotism would be a higher law.

All these specialities in combination urged the[Pg 12] Jews to dare and to do everything against all who were not of their own blood. The inevitable conclusion of such a policy was that eventually they came into collision with all around them; that they failed in the unequal combat with pagan Rome and early Christianity; that they lost the birthplace of their nationality, and were scattered far and wide over the surface of the earth. And what has happened once may happen again.

The Greeks of earlier days, who like the Hebrews had but one faith and one tongue, also met periodically as a single family at Delphi, the centre of their racial area. Thus that gifted people without any inspiration effectually combined with grandeur in the worship of the gods the law of harmony which should preside over human society. But the Greeks were a sensuous and a joyous race, walking under the free heavens in the glorious lights of poetry, of art, and of beauty, and could not fail to realize the truth that society based upon reciprocal benevolence means civilization and the highest stage of human society—communion with the world.

Dr. Boudin, the eminent physiologist and medical writer, remarks that the Jew is governed by statistical laws of birth, sickness, and mortality completely different from those which rule the peoples amongst whom he lives. This assertion is confirmed by the testimony of history. During the Middle Ages, when[Pg 13] the unclean capitals of Europe and Asia were periodically devastated by the plague, the angel of death passed by the houses of the oppressed and despised Jews, although they were condemned by local regulations to occupy the worst quarters of the cities. In speaking of the pestilence of a.d. 1345, Tschudi says that it nowhere attacked the Jews. Frascator mentions that they completely escaped the typhus epidemic in a.d. 1505; they were untouched by the intermittent fevers which reigned in Rome in a.d. 1691; they were not subject to the dysentery which was so fatal at Nimeguen in a.d. 1736; and both in 1832 and 1849 it is stated upon excellent authority that they enjoyed comparative exemption from the cholera in London, although during the last-named year the city numbered nearly thirteen thousand victims.[8]

Not less curious are the statistics showing the natural aptitude of the Jewish people, at once so national in their sentiments and so cosmopolitan in their tendencies, for universal acclimatization. The Jew and the Christian will emigrate to a British or a French colony from the same birthplace; and while,[Pg 14] owing to the uncongenial climate, the Christian settler with his family eventually dies out, the Jewish settler increases and multiplies. In Algeria, for example, the French colonies would become extinct in a very short process of time were it not for the steady influx of immigrants, whereas the Jew takes deep root and throws out vigorous branches.

With respect to the superior longevity of the Jews, German sources supply some interesting particulars. Dr. W. C. de Neufville,[9] of Frankfort, by the collection and collation of an immense mass of statistics, has demonstrated the following facts:

1. One-fourth of Christian populations dies at the mean age of 6 years 11 months.

2. One-fourth of Jewish populations dies at the mean age of 28 years 3 months.

3. One-half of Christian populations dies at the mean age of 36 years 6 months.

4. One-half of Jewish populations dies at the mean age of 53 years 1 month.

5. Three-fourths of Christian populations die at the mean age of 59 years 10 months.

6. Three-fourths of Jewish populations die at the mean age of 71 years.

It is found that in Prussia the annual mortality among the Jews is 1·61 per cent, to 2·00 among the rest of the population. The annual rate of increase with the former is 1·73 per cent.; with the[Pg 15] latter only 1·36.[10] In Frankfort the mean duration of human life is 36 years 11 months among the Christian population, and 46 years 9 months among the Jewish.

I will now quote at full length the favourable verdict usually offered in the case of the Hebrews by the writers of Europe:

“If we trace the history of the Israelitish race from the destruction of Jerusalem to the time at which the prevalence of a more enlightened public opinion caused to be effaced from the Statute Books of European nations the barbarous and cruel enactments against the Jews, adopted in an epoch when bigotry, brutality, and persecution were rampant, we shall be constrained to admit that there has been something little less than miraculous in the preservation of this people from utter extermination. Basnage[11] (Histoire des Juifs) calculates that 1,338,460 Jews perished by fire and sword, famine and sickness, at and after the siege of the Holy City. Subsequently a host of unfortunate exiles became the objects of bitter and unrelenting persecution, fanaticism, and tyranny in every country throughout Christendom. During the two years which preceded their final expulsion from Judæa, 580,000 Jews were slaughtered by the Romans; and the gradual dispersion of the rest over the face of Europe was the prelude for the perpetration upon[Pg 16] them by ‘Christians’ of a series of atrocities almost unequalled for merciless savagery. The functions they discharged in mediæval society were, in reality, of the most valuable kind; but so dense was the ignorance, and so inveterate were the prejudices of the age, that towards the close of the thirteenth century upwards of 13,000 Israelites were banished from England in one day; just as two hundred years later 500,000 were expelled from Spain, 150,000 from Portugal, and an indefinite number were cast out of France. For a period of three centuries successive sovereigns refused to accord permission to the Jews to worship Almighty God within the English realm; nor was it until the Protectorate of Cromwell that a synagogue was allowed to be erected in London.

“In works of fiction, in the drama, and in daily life the name of Jew has become a byword and a reproach, and an explanation of this is to be sought for rather in the malignity of religious prejudice than in the actual conduct of the people who have been visited with so much opprobrium. Their virtues are their own, but their faults are the fruit of eighteen centuries of outlawry and oppression. Under such treatment archangels would have become depraved. In the history of the whole world there is nothing which in any degree resembles the systematic persecutions, the barbarous cruelties, the cowardly insults, the debasing tyranny to which[Pg 17] the Jewish race has been exposed. That it was not degraded to the level of the African negroes, or absolutely obliterated from the face of the earth, is only another proof of its wonderful vitality and of the indestructible elasticity of the national character.[12] In spite of all these centuries of oppression and repression, its representatives are still found, not merely among the monarchs of finance, but among the royalties and aristocracies of genius. Every one must remember the passage in Coningsby in which Mr. Disraeli enumerates the illustrious Jews who are occupying, or have occupied, the foremost rank in arts, letters, statesmanship, and military science—Count Cantemir in Russia, Senor Mendizelal in Spain, and Count Arnim in Prussia; Marshals Soult and Massena, Professors Neander, Regius, Bearnary, and Wohl; the composers Rossini, Mendelssohn, and Meyerbeer (not to mention Offenbach); Rachel the actress; Pasta, Grisi, and Braham the vocalists, Spinoza the philosopher, and Heine the poet; to which list he might have added the names of some of the most distinguished of living French and English celebrities.[13] And though we have forgotten[Pg 18] Xapol and Gondomar, Yahuda Halevi, and Aviabron, alias Solomon ben Gabriel, few of us can ignore the Rothschilds and Goldsmids, the Ricardos, Rouhers, and Torlonias, now become household words in Europe.

“That in all countries the Jews, on the other hand, should evince a preference for sordid pursuits, and follow them with an eagerness and tenacity worthy of employment in more generous and elevated callings, must also be admitted. William Abbott, in his outspoken and earnest but narrow-minded way, advanced this plea upon one occasion in the House of Commons, in resistance to a motion to relieve all persons professing the Jewish religion in England from the civil disabilities under which they then laboured. He was replied to by Macaulay in a speech as eloquent in terms as it was irresistible in logic.

“‘Such, sir,’ said he, ‘has in every age been the reasoning of bigots. They never fail to plead, in justification of persecution, the vices which persecution has engendered. England has been to the Jews less than half a country, and we revile them because they do not feel for England more than a half patriotism. We treat them as slaves, and wonder that they do not regard us as brethren. We drive them to mean occupations, and then reproach them for not embracing honourable professions. We long forbade them to possess land, and we complain that they chiefly occupy themselves in trade. We shut them out from all the paths of ambition, and then we despise them for taking refuge in avarice. During many ages we have in all our dealings with them abused our immense superiority of force, and then we are disgusted because they have recourse to that cunning[Pg 19] which is the natural and universal defence of the weak against the violence of the strong. But were they always a mere money-changing, money-getting, money-hoarding race? Nobody knows better than my honourable friend, the member for the University of Oxford, that there is nothing in their national character which unfits them for the highest duties of citizens. He knows that in the infancy of civilization, when our island was as savage as New Guinea, when letters and arts were still unknown to Athens, when scarcely a thatched hut stood on what was afterwards the site of Rome, this contemned people had their fenced cities and cedar palaces, their splendid Temple, their fleets of merchant ships, their schools of sacred learning, their great statesmen and soldiers, their natural philosophers, their historians and poets. What nation ever contended more manfully against overwhelming odds for its independence and religion? And if, in the course of many centuries, the oppressed descendants of warriors and sages have degenerated from the qualities of their fathers—if while excluded from the blessings of law and bound down under the yoke of slavery they have contracted some of the vices of outlaws and slaves, shall we consider this a matter of reproach to them? Shall we not rather consider it a matter of shame and remorse to ourselves? Let us do justice to them. Let us open to them every career in which ability and energy can be displayed. Till we have done this, let us not presume to say that there is no genius among the countrymen of Isaiah, no heroism amongst the descendants of the Maccabees.’”

We have “done this,” and the results have stultified all this nicely balanced rhetoric. And the following pages may suggest that our European ancestors had other reasons for expelling the Jews than the mere “bigotry” and “brutality” so unphilosophically ascribed to them by Lord Macaulay.


[5] [Dr. J. C. Nott, the well-known ethnologist.]

[6] The two great centres of Jewish population are, first, the northern part of Africa between Morocco and Egypt, especially the Barbary States, where they form the chief element of the town population, and where a census is at present mere guesswork; they spread gradually southwards, and since 1858 a trading colony has occupied Timbuctoo on the Niger. The other families in Africa are the Falashas, or Black Jews of Abyssinia, mere proselytes like those of Malabar, and a few Europeans at the Cape of Good Hope. The second great centre is that region of Europe which extends from the Lower Danube to the Baltic; and here there are about four millions who occupy the middle class among the Sclavonic nationalities, while in the whole of Western Europe there are not a hundred and twenty thousand. Their descendants have followed the path of European migrations to America, North and South, and to Australia, where the large commercial towns enable them to multiply as in the Old World, and much more rapidly than the Christian population. The other outlying colonies are in Turkey, European as well as Asiatic, although the Holy Land now contains but a small proportion of their former numbers; in Yemen, especially at Sanaá and Aden, in Nejerán, and other parts of Arabia; along the whole course of the Euphrates, in Kurdistan, Persia, and India, especially in Malabar, where there are white and black Jews; in China and in Cochin China, both colonies being also found; and in the Turkoman countries. Here they inhabit the four fortresses of Shahr-i-sabz, Kulab, Shamatan, and Urta Kurgan, with about thirty small villages; they live in their own quarters, and, except having to pay higher taxes, they are treated on an equal footing with the other inhabitants.

[7] This terrible fast is called Ha-fraká. Old men have been known in Syria and Palestine to endure it twice a year, in summer and in winter. They sup on Saturday evening, and till the sunset of the next Saturday they do not allow themselves to swallow even a drop of water or to touch a pinch of snuff. The state of prostration towards the end of the term is extreme, and the first thing done, when the time has passed, is to place the patient in a warm bath. This is probably the severest fast known to the world, unless it be rivalled by certain Hindu ascetics: the Greek and Coptic Christians and the Muhammadans have nothing to compare with it.

[8] This we gather from the reports of the General Board of Health on the epidemic cholera. In 1832 only 4 deaths were recorded out of the 3,000 Portuguese Jews, and in 1849 amongst the 20,000 then inhabiting London there were no more than 13, although the loss from cholera amounted to 12,837. This gives a proportion of 0·6 per 1,000, whilst the superintendent registrar assigns 1: 1,000 to Hampstead, 6: 1,000 to Whitechapel, 7: 1,000 to the City of London, 19: 1,000 to Shoreditch, and 29: 1,000 to Rotherhithe. [These figures are for the special cholera year 1832. Since then the visitations have been much less severe.]

[9] [The work referred to is Lebensdauer und Todesursachen 22 verschiedener Stände. Frankfort, 1855.]

[10] [These figures are for average years, and hence hold good now as then.]

[11] [Author of the large history of the Jews in 5 vols. Rotterdam, 1707.]

[12] There is another parasitic race, also of pure blood, but Indo-European, not Semitic, whose preservation appears almost as “providential” as that of the Jews, and whose union is even more exceptional because it is not bound either by revelation or indeed by any form of faith—the Gypsy.

[13] Not to mention Wolff and Palgrave the travellers, and Monseigneur Bauer, Père Hermann, and Père Marie de Ratisbonne, the converts.

[Pg 20]



Of all Europeans, the Englishman, who boasts of being a staunch friend to the people “scattered and peeled,” and whose confident ignorance and indiscriminate philanthropy are bestowed upon them equally with the African negro, knows least of the customs and habits of his protégés, and especially of those of Jews in foreign countries. The neglect of things near to us must be the reason why we know so little of the inner life of Jewry: there are, however, other concomitant causes.

In our native land the Hebrew lives protected, and honoured, in fact, as one of ourselves. We visit him, we dine with him, and we see him at all times and places, except perhaps at the Sunday service. We should enjoy his society but for a certain coarseness of manner, and especially an offensive familiarity, which seems almost peculiar to him. We marvel at his talents, and we are struck by the adaptability and by the universality of his genius. We admire his patience, his steadfastness,[Pg 21] and his courage, his military prowess, and his successful career in every post and profession—Statesman and Senior Wrangler, Poet and Literato, Jurist, Surgeon, and Physician, Capitalist, Financier, and Merchant, Philosopher and Engineer, in fact in everything that man can be. When we compare the Semitic Premier with his Anglo-Saxon rival, it is much to the advantage of the former: while jesting about the “Asian mystery,” we cannot but feel that there is something in the Asiatic which we do not expect, which eludes our ken, which goes beyond us.

Those familiar with the annals of old families in England are aware of the extent to which they have been mixed with Jewish blood, even from the days when religious prejudice is mistakenly represented to have been most malign. Indeed, of late centuries our nation has never prided itself, like the Portuguese and the Iberians generally, in preserving its blood “pure and free from taint of Jew and Infidel.” The cross perpetually reappears in outward form as well as in mental quality. Here and there an old country house produces a scion which to all appearance is more Jewish than the Jews themselves. A peculiar characteristic of the blood is an extreme fondness for show, for colour, for splendour and magnificence in general. The rich Jew must display his wealth; like the Parsee, he makes and spends whilst his rivals the Greek and the Armenian make and hoard. In certain[Pg 22] continental cities where he now reigns supreme he renders society impossible to the Christian. The Messrs. G. Muir Mackenzie and O. P. Irby—The Turks, the Greeks, and the Slavons (London: Bell & Daldy, 1867)—will show how at Salonika[14] the French Consul Marquis de —— could not join in any of the festivities. The dinner-table was not respected unless it glistened with gold and silver plate borrowed and lent for the occasion. His wife could not appear without a new dress on every occasion, and therefore she stayed at home. A toilette from Paris twice a week not only ministers to the womanly enjoyment of the wearer, and to the sensuous pleasures of the beholders, but also shows that the house is wealthy and that the firm has spare money to throw away. It is, in fact, an advertisement of the most refined description. Ladies meeting in parties of three and four over what our grandmothers called “a dish of tea” must appear décolletées and in diamonds. The rivière must disfigure the beautiful neck and bosom of the bride. At the theatre those boxes are most valued where the light falls strongest upon the precious stones, and where costly textures and valuable[Pg 23] laces stand out to the greatest advantage. And behind this splendour of show lies cunning of a high order. The grand liveries are used once a week upon Madame’s “day”; at other times the lackeys are en déshabille. The costly carriage horses work till noon in carts and drays transporting the irritamenta malorum which support the equipage of the afternoon. And so in everything. The Hebrew race is so marked in its characteristics that it has ever been the theme of over-praise or of undue blame, like those individuals concerning whom society cannot be neutral; and of late years the transitions of public opinion which usually moves slowly have been comically abrupt.

The Jew of popular English fiction is no longer Moshesh, a wretch who believes in one God and in Shent-per-Shent as his profit, whose eyes, unlike those of Banquo, are brimming full with “speculation.” The Fagin of young Dickens only a quarter of a century ago has now become the “gentle Jew Riah” of old Dickens, a being remarkable for resignation and quiet dignity, a living reproach to the Christian heathenry that dwells about him. The great feminine actresses of the world, we are told by a charming authoress, are all Jewesses. Tancred; or, the New Crusade, to mention nothing of meaner note, teaches us to admire and love the modern “Roses of Sharon,” those exquisite visions that are read to rest by attendants with silver lamps, and[Pg 24] who talk history, philosophy, and theology with the warmth of womanly enthusiasm, tempered by the pure belief of a bishop of the Church of England, the learning of a German professor, and the grace of Madame Recamier. Miriam has become, in fact, a pet heroine with novel writers and novel readers, and thrice happy is the fascinating young Christian who, like “that boy of Norcott’s,” despite his manifold Christian disabilities, can win her hand and heart.

Of the middle and lower classes of Jews the Englishman only hears that they are industrious, abstinent, and comparatively cleanly in person; decent, hospitable, and as strict in keeping the Sabbath as the strictest Sabbatarians could desire—perhaps, if he knew all, he would not desire so much. He is told that they are wondrous charitable in their dealings with those of the same faith, always provided that some mite of a religious difference does not grow to mountain size. The papers inform him how munificent and judicious is their distribution of alms, how excellent are their arrangements for the support of their paupers, who are never exposed to the horrors of the parish and the poor-house, and who are maintained by their co-religionists, though numbering in London at least 16·50 per cent. out of a total exceeding thirty thousand souls.[15] And he[Pg 25] everywhere reads of Charities, public, private, and congregational; of Hospitals and Almshouses; of Orphanages, Philanthropic Institutions; of Pensioners’ and Widows’ Homes; Friendly Societies; of Doles of Bread and Coal and Raiment; of Lying-in Houses and Infant Asylums; of Burial Societies, male and female; of arrangements for supplying godfathers and godmothers managed by Benevolent Societies, Boards, Institutions, Committees, and Consistories. Like their charities, the educational system may be divided into three heads: Schools, public and private; Rabbinical and Theological Institutions; and Literary and Scientific Associations.

He—the ordinary Englishman—may be dimly conscious that the Jew is the one great exception to the general curse upon the sons of Adam, and that he alone eats bread, not in the sweat of his own face, but in the sweat of his neighbour’s face—like the German cuckoo, who does not colonize, but establishes himself in the colonies of other natives. He has perhaps been told that all the world over[Pg 26] the Jew spurns the honest toil of the peasant and the day labourer; that in the new Jewry of Houndsditch and Petticoat Lane, in the Marais, in the Ghetto, in the Juden Strasse, and in the Hárat el Yahúd (Jewish quarters) of Mussulman cities, his sole business is quocumque modo rem—sordid gains—especially by money-lending, and by usury, which may not be practised upon a fellow Jew, but which, with the cleanest of consciences, is applied to the ruin of the Gentile. He has heard that where Saxon and Celt ply pick and pan, the Hebrew broker and pedlar buy up their gains and grow rich where the working-men starve in the midst of gold. He sees that the “Chosen People” will swarm over the world from California to Australia, wherever greed of gain induces them to travel. “To my mind,” says a popular writer, “there are few things so admirable and wonderful in this life as the ‘getting on,’ as it is vulgarly called, of the Hebrew race. For one of us who, by means of infinite wriggling, panting, toiling, struggling, and hanging on by his eyebrows, so to speak, to opportunity, ambitious to emerge from obscurity, and ascend to the topmost round of the ladder, there seems to be at least five hundred Caucasian Arabs who attain the desired altitude; ay, and who manage to avoid turning giddy and toppling over. Most Jews seem to rise, and the instances of a few going ‘to the utter bad,’ as the phrase[Pg 27] runs, seem equally as rare. How often your successful Nazarene comes to grief! At the moment you think him Lord of All he is Master of Nothing.... Jews appear to keep what they have gotten; and, what is better, to get more, and keep that too. They are not much given, I fancy, to experience the pangs of remorse; and I cannot well imagine a mad Jew. It must be something awful. On the whole, looking at the vast number of Christians I have known who from splendour have subsided into beggary, and the vast number of Hebrews I have watched advancing, not from mendicity—a Jew never begs, save from one of his own tribe, and then I suppose the transaction is more of the nature of a friendly loan, to be repaid with interest when brighter days arrive—but from extreme indigence to wealth and station, I incline to the opinion that Gentiles have a natural alacrity in sinking—look how heavy I can be—but that the Chosen People have as natural a tendency towards buoyancy. That young man with the banner in Mr. Longfellow’s ballad was, depend upon it, an Israelite of the Israelites; only I think the poet was wrong, as poets generally are, in his climax. The young man was not frozen to death. He made an immense fortune at the top of Mont Blanc by selling ‘Excelsior’ penny ices.”

The secret of this “getting on” is known to every expert. The Jewish boy begins from his[Pg 28] earliest days with changing a few sovereigns, and he pursues the path of lucre till the tomb opens to receive him. He is utterly single-minded in this point; he has but one idea, and therefore he must succeed. Who does not remember the retort of the Jewish capitalist to the Christian statesman who, impertinently enough, advised him to teach his children something beyond mere trade? “My first wish,” answered the Hebrew, “is to see my boys become good men of business; beyond that—nothing!”

The average Englishman cannot help observing with Cobbett, and despite Lord Macaulay, that the callings which the lower orders of Jews especially prefer are those held mean or dishonourable by other men, such as demoralizing usury, receiving stolen goods, buying up old clothes, keeping gambling-houses and betting-cribs, dealing in a literature calculated to pervert the mind of youth; combining, as a person—afterwards sent to Newgate—lately did, the trade of a cosmetic artist with the calling of a procuress, and supplying the agapemonæ of the world,[16] while occasionally producing a sharp jockey or a hard-hitting prize-fighter. He is not ignorant of their prodigious trickery, of their immense and abnormal powers of lying—the “trifle[Pg 29] tongue,” as they picturesquely call it—and their subtle art of winning their object by roundabout ways. He cannot mistake their physical cowardice, but he remembers that the Jewish officers, once so numerous in the French army, were as brave as their Christian brethren; and again he recognizes the fact that lying and cowardice long continue to be the effects of oppression. He smiles at their intense love of public amusements, and their excessive fondness for display, evinced by tawdry finery and mosaic gold.

Knowing this, however, he supposes himself to know the worst. He has heard little of the excessive optimism of the Jew, the [Greek: παντα καλα λιαν: panta kala lian], so strongly opposed to Christianity, the “religion of sorrow.” He knows nothing of the immense passions and pugnacity, the eagerness and tenacity of Lutheran rancour displayed against all who differ from some minutiæ of oral law. He ignores the over-weening, narrow-minded pride of caste which makes the Jew “destined by God to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”—as one of their own race, Rabbi Ascher (initiator of youth), even now repeats.[17] He cannot realize the fact that the ferocity[Pg 30] and terrible destructiveness which characterize the Jew and his literature, from the days of the Prophets to those of the Talmudists, are present in his civilized neighbour, whom he considers to be one of the best of men—a sleeping lion, it is true, but ready to awake upon the first occasion. And he is ignorant of the Eastern Jews’ love of mysticism and symbolism, their various horrible and disgusting superstitions, and their devotion to magical[Pg 31] charms and occult arts which lead to a variety of abominations.

This ignorance produces weak outbursts of lamentations that the Hebrews “still cling with obstinate persistence to a hopeless hope,” Hence we read in the pages of a modern traveller—The Rob Roy on the Jordan, p. 274, by J. MacGregor, M.A. (London: Murray, 1869): “Here, as well as some twenty years ago, I heard men in Palestine call their fellows ‘Jew’ as the lowest of all possible words of abuse. When we recollect that the Jews, in this very land of their own, were once the choice people of the world; that now through the whole earth, among the richest, the bravest, the cleverest, the fairest, the best at music and song, at poetry and painting, at art and science and literature, at education, philanthropy, statesmanship, war, commerce, and finance, in every sphere of life are Jews,—we may well remember the word of prophecy which told us long ago that the name of Jew would be a ‘byword and a reproach,’ even in the Jews’ own land.” It is true that, even in the Portuguese colonies, where the Jew is comparatively unknown, his name is worse than at Jerusalem, Bagdad, and Damascus; whilst “Judear”—to play the Jew—signifies the being capable of any villainy. But how long will prophecy prove true? In the coast towns of Morocco, a few years have sufficed to raise the Hebrew from the lowest of stations to[Pg 32] equality with, and even superiority over, his Mussulman cousin. The Jew may ere long make the Gentile a “byword and a reproach.”

But the English world never hears the fact that the Jew of Africa, of Arabia, of Kurdistan, of Persia, and of Western Asia generally, is still the Jew “cunning and fierce” of the thirteenth and the fourteenth centuries in Europe; that he is the Jew of the Talmud, of Shammai, and of Rabbi Shalomon Jarchi, not of the Pentateuch, of Hillel, and of Gamaliel; that he sympathizes, not with those staunch old conservatives and rationalists, the Sadducees, now gone for ever, nor with Ezra and the Priests, the Levites and the Nethiním—men of the Great Synagogue—nor with the ascetic Essenes, prototypes of Christian monkery; but with the Pharisees, the Separatists, and the Puritans of his faith, with the Captains, the Fanatics, the Zealots, the Sicarii, the Swordsmen and the Brigands of John of Giscala, of Eleazar son of Ananias, and of those who worked all the civil horrors of our first century. Some distant or adventurous journey of Sir Moses Montefiore[18] or other philanthropists,[Pg 33] duly published with packed and partial comments in the papers of Europe, reveals to the lazy comprehension of the man of refinement that the Hebrew in many parts of the semi-civilized world is still the object of suspicion, fear, and abhorrence. He attributes the persecutions, the avarice, or the massacre to the pleasures of plunder, to the barbarous bigotry, and to the cruel fanaticism of bloodthirsty and cruel races, who still look upon the present with the eyes of the past, and who have seized an opportunity to glut their lust of spoil or to wreak an obsolete revenge because some eighteen centuries and three-quarters ago “an aristocratic and unpopular high priest, whom the people afterwards rose upon and murdered, had for political reasons crucified our Lord,” or because in a.d. 729[19] a heroic Jewess of Khaibar poisoned a shoulder of lamb with the object of trying by a crucial test whether Muhammad was the Prophet of Allah, or merely the[Pg 34] Sheikh of Arab pillagers, the worthy confrère of Músailamah the Liar.

We do not waste time upon thought or inquiry whether the persecution, the avarice, or the massacre may not be the direct result of some intolerable wrong, of some horrible suspicion which has gradually assumed the form of certainty, and which calls for the supreme judgment of the sword; we do not reason that the cause which from ancient times has confined the Jew to Ghettos and to certain quarters in all great continental cities resulted, not only from his naturally preferring the society of his co-religionists, but also from the fact that his Christian neighbours found it advisable to consult by such means their own safety and that of their families. The disappearance of children was talked of at Rome and in all the capitals of Italy even throughout the early part of the present century, when constitutional rule and the new police were unknown, as freely and frequently as at Salonika, at Smyrna, and in all the cities of the Levant during the year of grace 1873.

Again, we hardly reflect that, as intolerance begets intolerance and injury breeds injury, a trampled and degraded race will ever turn when it can upon the oppressor, and that the revenge of the weak, the slavish, and the cowardly will be the more certain, ruthless, and terrible because it has a long score of insults and injuries to reckon up. In the country[Pg 35] towns of modern Persia, as in Turkey, the Jew is popularly believed to make away with children. The Muhammadan boy, meeting a Hebrew in the streets, will pluck his grey beard, taunt him with the Bú-e-Shimít—the rank odour which is everywhere supposed to characterize the race—tread upon his toes, and spit upon his Jewish gabardine. In Turkey there are still places where he would be expelled the Bazar with sticks and stones; others where every outrage of language would be levelled against him, including Al Yahúd Músairáj[20]—the Jew smells of the lamp—alluding to his free culinary use of sesamum oil. A Jew passing through the square of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem would infallibly be mobbed on all occasions, and on certain fêtes would be torn to pieces; and the list of dangers and insults which he incurs both from Muslims and Christians might be indefinitely prolonged.

Can we wonder then if the persecutor, man or boy, disappear, should opportunity offer such tempting punishment for their barbarous fanaticism? And will not this supposition explain the Arabic proverb, “Sup with the Jews and sleep at the[Pg 36] Christians’,” and the fact that every mother teaches her boy from earliest youth to avoid the Jewish quarter, binding him by all manner of oaths? Finally, is it surprising that amongst an ignorant and superstitious race of outcasts such random acts and outbreaks of vengeance, pure and simple, should by human perversity pass, after the course of ages, into a semi-religious rite, and be justified by men whose persecution has frenzied them as a protest and a memorial before the throne of the Most High against the insults and injuries meted out by the Gentile to the children of Abraham?

Shakespeare may not have drawn Shylock from a real character, but his genius has embodied in the most lifelike form the Jew’s vengefulness and the causes that nourished it. How many cities of the world there are where he might hear these words: “Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”

Moreover, in the course of our reading, we Englishmen meet with nothing which points to the existence of cruel murders and similar horrors in[Pg 37] any branch of the Hebrew race. Popular books like The British Jew (Rev. John Mills. London: Hurlston & Stoneman, 1854), for instance, are mostly written in the apologetic tone; they are advocates and missionaries, not describers. They enumerate the duties and ceremonies of the “strict, enlightened Israelite”—a powerful majority amongst the thirty-five to forty thousand that have colonized the British Islands—modified and transformed by the civilization of their surroundings. They studiously avoid that part of the subject which would be most interesting to the ethnologist, the various irregular practices of the people, because they would not “crowd their pages with the superstitions of the ignorant”; and they probably have not defined to themselves the darker shades which the religious teaching of later centuries has diffused over the Jewish mind, and which linger even among the most advanced of modern communities. The well-known volume of Dr. Alexander McCaul, The Old Paths; or, a Comparison of the Principles and Doctrines of Modern Judaism with the Religion of Moses and the Prophets (London: Hubbard & Son, 1854), which has been translated into almost every European language, reveals but little, while professing to reveal much. It is written in a purely apologetic spirit; and as it attacked the Talmud, but spared the Jew, who, however, systematically destroys every copy, it has lost for the general reader all its significance.[Pg 38] The celebrated article upon the Talmud first published in the Quarterly Review (October, 1867), and afterwards owned to by the late M. Emanuel Deutsch, who began by denying the authorship, greatly surprised the poco-curanti of Great Britain. It was a triumph of special pleading. It studiously ignored the fact that the Talmudic writers who flourished in the third and the sixth centuries of our era had evidently consulted the writings of the “School of Galilee,”[21] especially of the New Testament, apocryphal as well as canonical. It artfully opened to the admiring eye of ignorance a noble garden of time-honoured experience, a goodly parterre of racial and social piety and benevolence, a paradise of religious wisdom, from which a few transplanted shoots would suffice to enrich and adorn a wilderness of rugged and neglected fields. It concealed with equal skill the sinks and drains, the shallows and quagmires which everywhere underlie the fair and flowery surface; and it withdrew attention from the dark corners rank with poisonous weeds and overrun with trees bearing deadly fruit. Such art of manipulation would readily pick the Sermon on the Mount from the pages of the erotic poets of “the East,” perhaps the most materialistic and the most corrupt which the literature of the world has produced.

[Pg 39]

What then can the average Englishman, thus instructed, know about the Hebrew at home? how much of the Hebrew abroad, especially in Asia, in Africa, and even in Europe? How is he fully to comprehend the reason why the name of Jew is still a byword and a reproach? or why the scrupulous British official—the late Consul Brant, C.B., the historical Consul of Erzerum, who revived the trade of ancient Trebizond—who never allowed himself to use profane language, applied to Christians and Muslims the word “Jew” as the most insulting term that can be levelled at man?

The following article appeared in the Saturday Review[22] as a comment upon a “recent outbreak of Rumanian fanaticism against the Jews at Ismail,” and explains at once the isolation and the great material success of the children of Israel all the world over. I quote it in extenso as it shows the general opinion of educated Englishmen and the unreality and shallowness of the treatment which views the world through glasses of British home-make:

“There is no real difference between the Rumanian Jews and the Jews of Galicia or Bohemia; nor can they in their turn be separated from the Jews of Germany, of France, or of England. The dirty, greasy usurers of Rumania are the humble brethren of the financiers of London and Frankfort, and that the Jews are a great power in Europe is[Pg 40] incontestable. What are, it may be asked, the secrets of their power? They are religion, the capacity for making money, and internal union. A ceremonial, and therefore an exclusive religion, a religion that binds together its members by rites that seem strange to the rest of the world, has a strong hold upon those who are within the fold. They are like the tenants of a beleaguered fort cut off from the rest of mankind, and obliged to protect themselves and help each other. But religion is not enough to raise a race into eminence. The Jews and the Parsees are eminent, not only because they circumcise their sons, or light fires on the tops of their houses, but because they make money. The money they have gives them consequence; but it is not only the money itself that does this; it is the qualities that go to making money which raise them—the patience, the good sense, the capacity for holding on when others are frightened, the daring to make a stroke when the risk is sufficient to appal. And the Jews are not only religious and rich; they are bound together by intimate ties. The inner world of Judaism is that of a democracy. The millionaire never dreams of despising, or failing to aid, his poorest and most degraded brother. The kindness of Jews for Jews is unfailing, spontaneous, and unaffected. The shabbiest hat-buyer or orange-seller of Houndsditch is as sure of having the means provided for him of keeping the sacred[Pg 41] feast of the Passover as if he lived in a Piccadilly mansion. To the eyes of the Jews even the most degraded of Jews do not seem so degraded as they do in the eyes of the outer world. The poorest have perhaps possessions which redeem them in the eyes of their brethren; and many of the lowest, greasiest, and most unattractive Hebrews who walk about the streets in search of old clothes or skins are known by their co-religionists to be able to repeat by rote portions of the sacred volumes by the hour at a time. To all these permanent causes of Jewish eminence there must, however, be added one that has had only time to develop itself since extreme bigotry has died away, and since in Western Europe the Jews have been treated, first with contemptuous toleration, then with cold respect, and, finally, when they are very, very rich, with servile adoration.

“These people—so exclusive, so intensely national, so intimately linked together—have shown the most astonishing aptitude for identifying themselves with the several countries in which they have cast their fortunes. An English Jew is an Englishman, admires English habits and English education, makes an excellent magistrate, plays to perfection the part of a squire, and even exercises discreetly the power which, with its inexhaustible oddity, the English law gives him, while it denies it to the members of the largest Christian sect, and presents incumbents[Pg 42] to livings so as to please the most fastidious bishops. The French Jews were stout friends of France during the war—served as volunteers in the defence of Paris, and opened their purses to the national wants, and their houses to the suffering French. The German Jews were as stout Germans in their turn; and in war, as in peace, they are always ready to show themselves Germans as well as Jews. It is the combination of the qualities of both nations that is now raising the foremost of the German Jews to their high rank in the world of wealth. In that world, to be a German is to be a trader whom it is very hard to rival, to be a Jew is to be an operator whom it is impossible to beat; but to be a German Jew is to be a prince and captain among the people.

“In this way the Jews have managed to overcome much of the antipathy which would naturally attach to men of an alien race and an alien religion. The English Jew is not seen to be standing aloof from England and Englishmen. But it is impossible there should not be some sort of social barrier between the Jew and the Christian. They cannot intermarry except for special political or other cogent reasons, and it necessarily chills the kindness and intimacy of family intercourse when all the young people know that friendship can never grow into anything else. In order to overcome this obstacle many wealthy Jews have chosen to abjure their[Pg 43] religion and enrol their households in the Christian communion. But the more high-minded and high-spirited among them shrink from doing this, and accept, and even glory in, the position into which they were born. Fortunately for himself and for England, a kind friend determined the religion of Mr. Disraeli before he was old enough to judge for himself, and in his maturer years he has been able conscientiously to adopt what he terms the doctrines of the School of Galilee. If they are not decoyed into Christianity by their social aspirations, Jews are unassailable, for the most part, by the force of either persecution or argument; and although there are some conversions to be attributed to Christian reasoning or Christian gold, they are probably counterbalanced by the accessions to Judaism of Christian women who marry Jewish husbands. The Jews therefore lead, and must lead, on the whole a family life marked by something of reserve and isolation. But the disadvantages they have thus to endure are not without their compensative advantages. Their family life by being secluded has gained in warmth and dignity.[23] In very few families is there so much thoughtfulness, consideration, parental and fraternal affection, reve[Pg 44]rence for age, and care for the young as in Jewish families. The women too have been ennobled, not degraded, by being thrown on themselves and on their families for their sphere of thought and action. They are almost always thoroughly instructed in business, and capable of taking a part in great affairs; for it has been the custom of their race to consider the wife the helpmate—the sharer in every transaction that establishes the position or enhances the comfort of the family. Leisure, activity of mind, and the desire to hand on the torch of instruction from the women of one generation to those of another, inspire Jewesses with a zeal for education, a love of refinement, and a sympathy with art. Homes of the best type are of course to be taken as the standard when it is inquired what are the characteristics of a race as seen at its best; and European family life has few things equal to show to the family life of the highest type of Jews. Their isolation, again, makes most of the men liberal and free from the prejudices of class, just as their connexion with their dispersed brethren relieves them from the pressure of insular narrowness. But, as Mr. Bright remarks, religious bigotry is slow to die away altogether; and even in educated English society there are few Christians who do not think themselves entitled to approach a Jew with a sense of secret superiority. If a Jew is ostentatious or obtrudes his wealth, if his[Pg 45] women are loaded with jewellery, if he talks the slang of the sporting world in order to show what a fine creature he is, society is as right to put him down as to put down any Christian like him. But the philanthropists who invited Mr. Bright to attend their meeting may be profitably invited to search their own hearts, and ask themselves whether they are quite free from that feeling that the best Jew is never the equal of the worst Christian, which is at the root of the Rumanian riots,[24] and which certainly is entirely out of keeping with the tenets and teaching of the School of Galilee.”


[14] Here out of sixty thousand souls the Jews number forty thousand, but to prevent taxation they have arranged with the Turkish authorities never to exceed eleven thousand five hundred. [Since this was written (1873) the whole population of Salonika has increased rapidly, and now (1897) numbers 150,000, of whom about 60,000 are Jews, 30,000 Turks, 30,000 Serbs, 15,000 Greeks, and 4,000 Zinzers.]

[15] No religious census has lately been taken in England and Wales; the above therefore is only a conjecture. In 1853 the Jews of Great Britain were set down at 30,000; of these 25,000 were resident in London, and 5,000 elsewhere. The yearly deaths were 560, which at the average rate of mortality would give a maximum of 25,000. Of this total, 5,000 belonged to the upper or educated class, 8,000 to the middle orders, and 12,000 represented the lower ranks. [In 1890 the Jews of Great Britain and Ireland were estimated at over 93,000, of whom 67,500 were resident in London. It may be of interest to add that in 1896 the entire Jewish population was calculated at 6,505,000, thus distributed over the globe: Europe 5,500,000; Asia 260,000; Africa 430,000; America 300,000; Australia 15,000. See A. H. Keane, Population, Races, and Languages of the World, in the Church Missionary Atlas, New (eighth) edition. London, 1896.]

[16] At this moment there is a traffic far fouler and more terrible than any Coolie-hunting in African slave-export—extending from Lemberg to India and China.

[17] The essential superiority of the Jew over Nakhrím, or strangers, is carefully kept up by the Gavním, or luminaries, of the Jewish Law. During the preparations for Sabbath one of the prayers is: “Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who hast made distinction between things sacred and profane, between light and darkness, between Israel and other nations.” On the New Year’s Day (Rosh ha-Shanah) the housemaster says at supper: “Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who didst select us from all other people, and exalt us above all other nations, and sanctify us with Thy commandments, ... for Thou didst select us, and sanctify us from all other people.... Blessed art Thou, O Lord, the Sanctifier of Israel,” etc. At the Passover they repeat the same, adding, “Blessed art Thou, O Lord, the Sanctifier of Israel and the times.” During the Feast of Pentecost they pray, “Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who hast selected us above all other people, and exalted us above all other nations, and sanctified us with Thy commandments.... Our Lord is exalted—He is the first and the last, He desired and chose us, and delivered to us the Law.”

Such are a few of the passages which are still approved of by learned and reverend Jews, “the stars of the evening twilight of their race.” These pretensions are evidently misplaced at the end of the nineteenth century. Their effects are remarkable upon the feeble brains of certain Christians, who, in conversation and missionary matters, have been thrown much in Jewish society, and who end by thoroughly believing all these absurd claims. A Gentile writes about them: “In addressing the posterity of the Patriarchs on such a theme [incredulity], well may I avail myself of the words held sacred by their fellow-citizens, not of their race, while I repeat the assertion that a Hebrew infidel—an infidel amongst the ‘Israelites, to whom appertained the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants,’ and to whom were committed the oracles of God’—the only open eye of the world when all the rest of mankind had darkness for their portion, or the light of dreams—is indeed a frightful, a portentous phenomenon!” Yet such as they are they number hundreds of thousands, and the spread of absolute infidelity is enormously on the increase.

[18] The journey of this eminent philanthropist to Alexandria in 1840 was a very remarkable one, all things considered. In 1855 he again visited “the East,” with the especial object of ameliorating the condition of his co-religionists in the Holy Land; and it is a favourite subject to conjecture how much, or how little, of the true state of things he was allowed to know. He certainly learned nothing from his Damascus host, the late Ishak Haim Farkhi, a Jew under French protection. Nor is it believed that he gained much knowledge of the true state of affairs at Jerusalem. For instance, the almshouses built outside the city under his trusteeship are occupied by the friends of the Scribes and those who pay court to them, not by the destitute for whom they were intended. When the venerable philanthropist paid his last visit, a collection of the poorest and the most miserable of the community was hurriedly installed there, and after his departure was as summarily ejected. The public has not forgotten his trip to Morocco, which, however, if matters progress as they do now, may eventually be regretted by his protégés.

[19] [I have retained 729, the date given by Burton, although Muhammad died in 732 from the effects of the experiment.]

[20] Upon the sanguineo-oleaginous expression of the Jews and the consequent pendency of the epiglottis, see “A Cause of Diminished Longevity among the Jews,” by Sir Duncan Gibb, Bart, M.A., M.D., LL.D., Article 10, Journal of Anthropology, No. 1, July, 1870, pp. 94-97. It exactly describes many of the Jews of Syria and Palestine.

[21] This is a complete misnomer applied to Christianity, which it confuses with the Rabbinical Schools of Tiberias and Safed.

[22] [The year would be 1873.]

[23] The Jewish family is still in England what it is all over the East, the chief defence of the individual against society. Hence the strong affections between relations. And for the same reason Jews are excellent parents—it can hardly be otherwise when the son is expected to liberate his father and mother from Sheol.

[24] This is a very small fibre of a very pretty root.

[Pg 46]



In dealing with the Jews of the Holy Land, it is well to remember that the two great branches of the Hebrew race are the Sephardím and the Ashkenazím. They are both equally orthodox, and may intermarry when they please. It is advisable to offer a few words concerning these great branches first.

“Sepharad,” pronounced throughout “the East” Safard, a word occurring only once in the Old Testament (“and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad,” Obad. ver. 20), has been subjected to various interpretations. Enough to say the majority of Jews following the Targum Jonathan and the Peshito, or Syriac version, identify it with Iberia, modern Spain and Portugal. The Sephardím claim descent from the royal tribe of Judah, which, like the children of Benjamin, was the last to disperse. It contains the usual three orders: (1) The Cohen (in Arabic Káhin), the priest or Levite[Pg 47] of the house of Aaron—a numerous body, as the Cohens of England show. Though born an ecclesiastic, he may now, since the rite of ordination has become extinct, pursue a purely laical trade. Whenever a Jew slaughters an animal, the Cohen claims the tongue, one side of the face, and one shoulder.[25] So in the days of Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, IV. iv. 4) the priest took the maw, the cheek (or breast), and the right shoulder of the sacrifice privately killed for a festival. (2) The Levite or descendant of Levi, but not through the house of Aaron; like the Cohen, to whom he should pay the tithe of his tithes, he must prove his genealogy, which is often doubtful, and he is known by taking the name of Levi after his own and before that of his birthplace—e.g. Simeon Levi Salonikli. (3) “The circumcision” or Ammon Israelite.

Since the final destruction of the Temple there are no Gentile Proselytes of the Covenant, that is, circumcised strangers admitted to all the privileges of the children of Abraham; nor are there Proselytes of the Gate, uncircumcised worshippers of Jehovah who keep the moral law. The Ger, or stranger, may be received into the Church under certain circumstances by purification and circumcision, which[Pg 48] latter, unlike the law of Muhammad, is absolutely necessary. Judaism, however, like Hinduism and Guebrism, is essentially one of the old congenital creeds; it never has been, it is not, and it never will be a system of proselytizing. As regards the tribes, Judah and Levi are everywhere known. Benjamin, Ephraim, and Half Manasseh are spoken of, and tradition declares that Asher exists in Abyssinia with Karaïte peculiarities. Finally, many Jews do not believe that the Ten Tribes were ever lost. They say that, during the Great Captivity, when the faith became all but extinct, they were mixed to such an extent that it was afterwards impossible to separate them.

The Sephardím, or Southern Jews, are mostly the descendants of Spanish and Portuguese ancestry, and throughout the Levant and the North African coast they speak Spanish and read and write it in their own character. Those of the Moroccan interior use Arabic. The dress is Oriental, and in the Holy Land they still wear the black turban ordained by the sumptuary laws of El Hakim (circa a.d. 1000). In physical appearance they are somewhat more prepossessing than the Ashkenazím, who are outnumbering them in Syria and Palestine, and are gradually ousting them. Officially they retain their position; the Hakhám Bashí, or chief doctor, is the only Jewish official recognized by the Turkish Government and representing the community in[Pg 49] the Majlis, or town council. In all matters which come before the tribunals the Ashkenazím must be supported by the Hakhám Bashí, while the doctors hear and decide all cases relating to the internal affairs of the community. Many of the Sephardím are shopkeepers, trading chiefly in stuffs and hardwares. There are many minor differences between them and the Ashkenazím, such as the contents and the arrangement of their ritual, the constitution of their meetings, the mode of reading the service, their music, and even their cursive form of the square Hebrew character. The Maghrabis, or Western Jews, chiefly living in North-western Africa, rank elsewhere as Sephardím; at Jerusalem, however, they are considered a separate sect, and have their own chief doctor.

Thus the Sephardím are the Southern, opposed to the Northern Jews, or Ashkenazím. These derive their name from Ashkenaz, son of Gomer, and grandson of Japhet (Gen. x. 3), who is supposed to have peopled, in ethnologic succession, Armenia (Jer. li. 27), Poland, Germany, and Scandinavia—the latter according to some derives from him its name. The Ashkenazím claim descent from Benjamin, and are generally supposed not to have been present at the second building of the Temple by Zorobabel (b.c. 520), as described in the Book of Ezra.

The Ashkenazím of the Holy Land are chiefly[Pg 50] Germans, Poles, Muscovites, and other Northerners. On January 26, 1849, an order from the Russian Consulate-General of Beyrut obliged them either to return home biennially in order to renew their passports or to give up their nationality. They were then taken under the protecting wing of Great Britain by the immense exertions of their co-religionists in the “City of Refuge” (London) and of other Western powers. This step can hardly be looked upon with satisfaction. Relying upon their new nationality, they addict themselves openly to usury and to other transactions of a doubtful and often of a dishonourable character. A determination to protect the whole community from religious persecution, allowing the Sultan to treat their commercial and civic affairs on the same footing as all the rest of his subjects, would be much more just, and would probably remedy not a few evils. In the year 1840 the Northern Jews mustered few at Damascus, and even now they are not numerous; among them may be mentioned old Abú Brahím, a well-known cicerone at Demitri Cara’s Hotel, who usually passed for a Cohen.

The Ashkenazím speak a kind of Jew-German, garbled with Hebrew and other foreign words. Their dress is a long robe like a dressing-gown, and a low-crowned hat of felt or beaver; the lank love-lock hanging down either cheek, and the eccentrically clipped fur caps, which, despite the burning sun,[Pg 51] they everywhere don for the Sabbath and for feast-days, make their appearance not a little comical. In the Holy Land they are mostly petty traders and craftsmen, supported in part by the Hallorkah, or alms. Many Jews who have neither the time nor the will to visit Jerusalem pay considerable sums for vicarious prayers there offered by their co-religionists, and the contributions are collected throughout Europe by appointed emissaries like the begging friars of the Catholic world. This dole, distributed alike and indiscriminately to all who occupy the four Holy Cities, brings many idle and worthless persons together, and promotes early and improvident marriages, every child being a source of additional increase. Some steps should be taken to obviate the scandals of the Hallorkah. Much vice, misery, and ill-feeling are engendered by the present system of bounty, which leaves much behind when passing through the hands of doctors responsible to no one for the money they receive. These men live in comfort and even luxury; the terrorism, physical as well as spiritual, with which they inspire their congregations, renders them absolutely unassailable. Knowing that his doctor can excommunicate him, and, what is more to the purpose, starve him and his family, not a Jew dare object to, though he will loudly complain of, a system of hypocrisy and peculation. And as a rule the almsgiving of the Israelite, so exceptionally liberal[Pg 52] throughout Western Europe, becomes mean and niggardly throughout the Holy Land. In the absence of coin sufficiently small, the wealthy Hebrews of Jerusalem have invented a system of tin bits, which the mendicant must collect till sufficiently numerous to be changed for currency. Whenever there is a famine in the country, pauper Jews receive probably the least assistance from their fellows dwelling within the same walls.

The Ashkenazím are divided into religious sects and social communities. The former are three in number—viz. Parushím, Khasidím, and Khabad. The Parushím, Pharisees or Separatists, follow the law as laid down in the commentary of the late R. Gaon[26] of Wilna. They consider the diligent study of the Talmud an essential for every religious Jew, and they conduct their liturgy according to it, respecting, however, the sense attached to various rites by the Cabalistic teachers. They strictly observe the appointed times for prayer, but they do not consider it necessary to dip the body in water before ablution. They neglect the second pair of phylacteries prescribed by Rabbenu Tam.[27] They do not hold it unlawful to slaughter animals for food with a knife which is not very sharp, provided that the edge has no notches. They regard a Passover cake as lawful,[Pg 53] even though it be made of any kind of wheat or flour.

The Khasidím (Cabalists), that most fanatical of Jewish sects, are here for the most part unlearned. Their liturgy is according to Rambáni or Maimonides (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon), a Spaniard who flourished in the twelfth century, and of whom it is said, “From Moses to Moses there was none like Moses”; they interpret it, however, in the Cabalistic sense. Their favourite book is the Holy Ri; they pray whenever they feel bound to do so, no matter whether the prescribed time has passed or not. Unlike the Parushím, they believe in certain Sadikím, or righteous men, popularly called Gute Yaden (Juden), and regard them with a superstitious veneration which borders upon worship, attributing to them supernatural powers, and attaching some spiritual and symbolic meanings to their most trivial and insignificant actions. Whilst professing to be guided only by the Talmud, they in reality follow the teaching of some chosen Guter Jude. The Khasidím are particular in the observance of Jewish customs, especially such as relate to the Sabbath. They shake themselves violently and cry aloud during prayers; at other times they are much addicted to dancing, singing, and deep drinking. They dip themselves in water before devotions, and use the second pair of phylacteries. They deem it unlawful to slaughter animals with a knife which[Pg 54] is not very sharp, or to use any but a particular kind of wheat for the Passover cakes. Much importance is attached by this sect to works of charity; in this way they are guided by the Yad ha-Khazakah, or “strong hand” of Maimonides, who assigns eight steps or grades to the golden ladder of charity. The Parushím and Khasidím combine in various proportions; for instance, in Tiberias all are Khasidím except the doctor, who is a Parushi.

The Khabad, or third sect, suggests in name the Ebionites, or Jewish Nazarenes, who hold the “great teacher of Nazareth” to be the Messiah, but merely human; this sect, however, has apparently died out. The modern Khabad have a liturgy arranged from their old Rabbi Zelmína. They resemble the Khasidím, having their own Gute Juden, but they are usually more learned and pious. They are given to hospitality and charity, and attach much importance to visiting the sick. They dip themselves before prayers, read and study much, and meet together on Sabbath evenings to hear the Law expounded by their principal teacher. They keep as a feast the 19th day of Kislef, the third civil and ninth ecclesiastical month (about December); on that day R. Shalomon, the founder of the sect, was liberated from prison.

The Ashkenazím are divided into social communities according to the European district or city whence they came, and each section is presided over[Pg 55] by a scribe or a layman of respectability and good standing. The chief communities of Parushím are the Wilna, Grainer, Grodno, Minsk, Nassen, Warsaw, Zuolik, and German. Those of the Khasidím are the Volhynian, the Hungaro-Austrian, and the Galician. The Khabad are a community by themselves.

The Ashkenazím, who are wrongly represented to be considered pariahs by the Sephardím, have brought from Northern climates a manliness of bearing, a stoutness of spirit, and a physical hardness strongly contrasting with the cowardly and effeminate, the despised and despicable Sephardím “Jew of Israel’s land.” If spoken to fiercely, they will reply in kind; if struck, they will return the blow; and they do not fear to mount a horse, unlike their Southern brethren, who prefer an ass, or at most an ambling pony, to the best of Arab blood. They will travel by night over difficult and dangerous paths, whereas their congeners tremble to quit the city walls; and they can endure extremes of heat and cold, of hunger and thirst, which might be fatal to any soft Syrian who would imitate them. The Ashkenazím of the Holy Land are in a word “men”; the Sephardím are not. “The Spanish and Portuguese Jews are of far higher and more intellectual type than the English and German,” says Dr. Linsdale. Possibly; but in the matter of manliness there is no comparison. And, as has been remarked,[Pg 56] the Ashkenazi is “eating up” the Sephardi wherever they meet.

Concerning the so-called unorthodox sects in the Holy Land a few brief details may be given.

The Karaïtes (Caraïtes), translated “Readers,” that is “textualists,” assign a literal sense to all Holy Writ, and reject every book posterior to the Law and the Prophets; they are therefore considered pestilent heretics. These Puritans, claiming descent from the Ten Tribes who took no part in the Crucifixion, are scattered throughout Arabia, with Bagdad for a centre; and they are most numerous in Russia and Poland, where they could boast that for four centuries none of their number had ever been found guilty of a serious crime. Henderson the traveller numbers some four thousand of them in the Crimea with their Cohens, or priests. At Pentecost, they read, we are told, as Ha-phatorah, or conclusions of the day, Joel ii. 28-32, whereas other Jews stop at ver. 27. There is still a large colony at Aden, where the English authorities have found nothing to complain of them. Formerly there were many at Damascus; now they have left it en masse: the Protestant cemetery occupies part of their old burial-ground, whose gravestones are distinguished from those of the Jews. In Syria they are mostly confined to Jerusalem, where till lately they numbered seven families (thirty-five souls). Their single, poor synagogue, a small cellar-like chamber, which dates back,[Pg 57] they say, for many centuries, lies opposite the big new building of the orthodox. Its sole object of attraction is one old manuscript of the Pentateuch, and the other Jews so hate them that the stranger will not readily find his way to their place of worship. In early 1872 they were reinforced by an emigration from Bagdad numbering forty souls, who reported that many more were on the way. These men all wore Bedawin dresses, which, however, they changed for the usual Jewish garb when once settled in the city.

The Samaritans are now found only at Nablús, the classical Neapolis, or new town. They claim descent from Ephraim and Manasseh, whilst their Cohens are of course Levites; the orthodox opprobriously call them Kúthím, or Babylonians, and despite physical evidence utterly deny their Jewish consanguinity. All contact with them is defiling, as though they were Gentiles. The total is now forty families, or a hundred and thirty-five souls; they will not intermarry with any but their own people; the birth of males, contrary to what might be expected, outnumbers that of females in the proportion of eighty to fifty-five, and consequently the “undying dogmatism” is threatened with dying out. The little sect owes its fame in Europe to the three well-known codices which every stranger hastens to inspect. According to their Hakháms, whilst repeating the Talmud they[Pg 58] study the Targum of R. Levi. They keep their Passover by solar computation, not lunar, like the Hebrews; for instance, in 1871 the former held the feast on May 3, and the latter on April 5. Moreover, they still sacrifice and eat their Paschal Lamb upon Mount Gerizim.

Jerusalem is sometimes visited by some of the “Black Jews” of Malabar and Western India, concerning whom so much absurdity has been written. The “White Jews” of India have a tradition according to which their ancestors, numbering ten thousand souls, emigrated Eastward about a.d. 70, and settled about Cranganore on the Malabar coast. Here they remained till a.d. 1565, when they were driven into the interior by the Portuguese. As no synagogue can be founded without a minimum congregation of ten free and adult males, the white Jews when necessary simply bought back their nine Hindu slaves, manumitted them, circumcised and bathed them, and thus obtained their wishes. The “Reformed British Jews,” mostly Ashkenazím, who date from the 7th of Ellúl, a.m. 5601 (August 24, 1841), and whose prayer-book is edited by their minister, the Rev. Mr. Marks, are hardly likely to make way in “the East” with such ultra-Karaïte doctrine as “the sufficiency of the Law of Moses for the guidance of Israel,” and with their opposition to the divinity of the traditions contained in the Mishnah; and in the Jerusalem and[Pg 59] Babylonian Talmuds they would only be included in the host

Of petulant, capricious sects,
The maggots of corrupted texts.

There is little to say concerning the physical peculiarities of the Eastern Jew, who in all the salient points of form and feature remarkably resembles his brother of Houndsditch and the Minories. Here and there the lines are less curved, the profile is straight and high, whilst there are a few local varieties like the fair hair and olive-coloured eyes of Dalmatia. The highest type contains a certain softness of expression, with that decisive cast of mouth and chin which may be seen in the London policeman and in the backwoodsman of the Far West. Although centuries of oppression have necessarily given to the many that cringing, deprecating glance, that shifting look which painfully suggests a tame beast expecting a blow, yet we still find both amongst the Ashkenazím and the Sephardím red Jews and black Jews; fierce-eyed, dark-browed, and hollow-cheeked, with piercing acuteness of glance, and an almost reckless look of purpose. Greed and craft, and even ferocity, are to be read in such faces, but rarely weakness, and never imbecility; roughness, unculture, and coarseness are there, not vulgarity, nor want of energy; and the Christian physiognomy by their side looks commonplace when[Pg 60] contrasted with those features so full of concentration and vigorous meaning.

These are the same men as those who under happier auspices organize such worldwide institutions as the Alliance Israëlite Universelle, with its heart in Paris and its limbs extending far and wide on the earth, whilst increasing organization proposes to extend them farther and wider. Its object is simply to promote concerted action amongst the Jews scattered about both hemispheres; to effect unity and community in all matters interesting to the Jewish body politic; to forward the interest of its friends, and to effect the ruin of its enemies. Thus it will eventually absorb by taking under its charge such detached institutions as the Khagal, or Communal Government of the Hebrews in Russia. It is the fashion to praise the organization of the Jesuits, the Freemasons, the Carbonari, the Mormons, and other bodies, who have an esoteric system underlying the exoteric form. As far as my knowledge goes, none can be compared with that of the Jews, because those are local and partial, whereas these are all but universal.

Such men easily become the warriors of commerce, bringing to the battle of interests, the campaign of life, all that boldness and resolution, that persistence and heroism, that subtlety and unscrupulousness which the Patriarchs and the Maccabees carried out into the personal conflict of sword and spear. They[Pg 61] become the great potentates of finance and capital, who have agents and reporters in every chief centre of the world; who know every project, what is to flourish and what is to founder; what enterprise is to be effectual, and what is to fail. If a seaport want a dock, a city require a bulwark, or a country demand a railway or a loan, they are ever ready to furnish each and all. And as a rule they are not unfair, they are not mean; indeed there is often a certain generosity in their conditions. But they always bargain for something besides money. They stipulate, for instance, that this man should be allowed to participate in these profits, that another should be excluded from those advantages; their interests are so various and so widespread that they need political power everywhere, and as they must have it so they will have it. One offence, one deadly sin, never forgiven, never forgotten, is insubordination in the ranks, however trifling. Let a secondary firm attempt to throw off the yoke by launching out, for instance, into an enterprise unauthorized by the Great House; straightway its credit is assailed, its acceptances are dishonoured, its ruin is assured. Such are the arts which have enabled the Jew to arrive at his present position. And he may confidently look forward to the time when the whole financial system, not only of Europe from one end to the other, but of the whole world, will be in the hands of a few crafty capitalists,[Pg 62] whose immense wealth shall, with a few pulsations of the telegraph, unthrone dynasties and determine the destinies of nations.

It remains now only to touch upon the future prospects of the Jewish race. This important consideration is still subject to two widely different opinions.

The first, which may be called the vapid utterance of the so-called Liberal School, speaks as follows: “In this century we are battering down the ponderous walls of prejudice which nations and sects have erected in past times, for the separation of themselves from their neighbours, or as a coign of vantage from which to hurl offensive weapons at them. Roman Catholic and Jewish emancipation have been conceded, though tardily, and we may fairly hope that in the next generation our political, social, and commercial relations with our fellow-men will be conducted without regard to their religious belief or their ethnological origin.” The trifling objection to this “harmonious and tolerant state of things” is that, though the Christian may give up his faith and race, the Jew, however readily he may throw overboard the former, will cling to the latter with greater tenacity, as it will be the very root and main foundation of his power.

The second is the Judophobic or Roman Catholic view of the supremacy of Jewish influence in the governments and the diplomacy of Europe. It openly[Pg 63] confesses its dread of Judaic encroachments, and it goes the full length of declaring that, unless the course of events be changed by some quasi-miraculous agency, the triumph of the Israelite over Christian civilization is inevitable—in fact, that Judaism, the oldest and exclusive form of the great Semitic faith, will at least outlive, if it does not subdue and survive, Christianity, whose triumph has been over an alien race of Aryans. “Gold,” it argues, “is the master of the world, and the Jewish people are becoming masters of the gold. By means of gold they can spread corruption far and wide, and thus control the destinies of Europe and of the world.” For the last quarter of a century the dominant Church in France seems to have occupied itself in disseminating these ideas, and the number of books published by the alarmists and replied to by Jewish authors is far from inconsiderable. Witness the names of MM. Tousseuel, Bédarride, Th. Halliz, Rev. P. Ratisbonne, and A. C. de Medelsheim, without specifying the contributors to the Union Israëlite and the Archives Israëlites of Paris—a sufficient proof of the interest which this question has excited, and of the ability with which it has been discussed in France.

But these are generalisms which require the specification of particulars. Where, however, the field is so extensive, we must limit ourselves to the most running survey of Europe and the Holy[Pg 64] Land. Throughout this continent the career of the Jew is at once thriving and promising. The removal of Jewish disabilities in England and the almost universal spread of constitutionalism throughout Europe have told mightily in favour of the Jews. An essential condition of all reform is that the reformer never can say, “Thus far will I go, and no farther.” In sporting parlance, he took off the weight from a dark horse, and the latter is everywhere winning in a canter. The father kept a little shop in the Ghetto; the son has palaces and villas, buys titles, crosses, and other graven images utterly unknown to the Mosaic Law, and intermarries with the historic Christian families of the land. The great, if not the only, danger is that in the outlying parts of Europe, where men are not thoroughly tamed, and where the sword is still familiar to the hand, the Jew advances far too fast; nor is it easy to see how his career can be arrested before it hurries him over the precipice. At this moment Hungary is a case in point. The Magnate, profuse in hospitality, delighting in display, careless of expenditure, and contemptuous of economy, sees all his rich estates, with their flocks and herds, their crops and mines, passing out of his own hands, and contributing to swell the bottomless pocket of the Jewish usurer. But the Magyar is a fiery race; and if this system of legal robbery be allowed to pass a certain point, which, by-the-bye, is not far distant, the Jews[Pg 65] must prepare themselves for another disaster right worthy of the Middle Ages. And they will have deserved it.

As regards the restoration of Israel to the Holy Land, that favourite theme of prophecy and poetry, that day-dream of the Jew, at least until he found a country and a home in the far happier regions beyond his ancient seats, no supernatural gift is required to point out the natural course of events. Though the recovery of Jerusalem is the subject of eternal supplication throughout the Jewish world, wealthy and prosperous Jews openly declare that they take no personal interest in the matter. The prayer, in fact, has become a mere formula.[28] Still, with six millions of souls, which will presently become nine, there can be no difficulty in finding volunteers like those who now garrison the four Holy Cities—Jerusalem and Hebron, Tiberias and Safed. A single million of souls would give the Israelite complete command over the Land of Promise in the widest[Pg 66] acceptation of the term, and it will not be long before this number can be contributed.

The Jews might readily return to Judæa; but there is a lion in the path. Russia cares little for Constantinople, which will fall to her in the fulness of time when the fruit is ripe. But she will brook no interference with the Holy Land, except for her own benefit. This power, half European and half Asiatic, greatly indebted withal for her success in life to the mixture which she despises, has the immense advantage of a peculiar and homogeneous creed, in which she believes with childish ardour and which she preaches with virile energy. To her, conquest is not mere increase of area, of physical growth. It is extending the field of proselytism, of religion; and this view of national progress and of racial duty is at once her strength and her weakness, her glory and her shame. She finds the headquarters of Christianity necessary to the full development of her religious superiority, and in the ever-increasing weakness of the Latin Church she descries her best opportunity.

Thus, as modern travellers assure us, Russia is quietly absorbing the Holy Places in Syria and Palestine. A bran-new Jerusalem of church, convent, and hospice, which a few days’ work would convert into forts and barracks, has lately risen outside the grey old walls and towers of Jebus, concealing them from the ardent gaze of the pilgrim[Pg 67] as he tops the last hill leading to the Jaffa Gate. At Hebron the Muscovite was not allowed to buy building-ground within the settlement; he bought the oak which passes itself off for Abraham’s terebinth, and here again will be a church, convent, and hospice. Jacob’s Well at Shechem has shared the same fate, and even Tiberias is threatened with a fourth church, convent, and hospice. The so-called Greeks,[29] whose Muscovite sympathies are well known, were granted such boons as the monopoly of Mount Tabor, whose classic and Saracenic ruins were ruthlessly pulled down to build a cockney church and convent. This usurpation became so intolerable, that in the summer of 1872 the Latin monks attacked the intruders, seized vi et armis a part of the mountain to which they laid claim, and enclosed their conquest with a wall. On the other hand, when the Latins proved an undoubted right to their ancestral chapel at Kefr Kenna (Cana in Galilee), the Greeks were instructed to set up a rival claim, and both were formally dismissed with the oyster shell, the oyster having been pronounced Wukúf, or mosque endowment.

This Russian pre-emption of the Holy Land is a benefit to the Jew, although the latter may not recognize it. But for this he would hasten to fulfil the prophecy; he would buy up the country, as[Pg 68] indeed he is now doing at Jerusalem;[30] he would conquer the people by capital, and he would once more form a nation.

But here the question obtrudes itself: “If Judaism should again prevail—indeed its advocates say it shall prevail universally—how long could it endure?”

Those who know the codes of the Talmud and of the Safed School, which are still, despite certain petty struggles, the life-light of Judaism, will have no trouble in replying. A people whose highest ideas of religious existence are the superstitious sanctification of Sabbath, the washing of hands, the blowing of ram’s horns, the saving rite of circumcision, and the thousand external functions compensating for moral delinquencies, with Abraham sitting at the gate of Hell to keep it closed for Jews; a community which would declare marriage impossible to some twelve millions of Gentiles, forbid them the Sabbath, and sentence to death every “stranger[Pg 69]” reading an Old Testament; which would have all the Ger who are not idolaters without religion, whilst forbidding those whom it calls “idolaters” (the Christians) to exercise the commonest feelings of humanity; which would degrade and insult one-half of humanity, the weaker sex, and which would sanction slavery, and at the same time oppress and vilify its slaves by placing them on a level with oxen and asses; a faith which, abounding in heathen practices, would encourage the study of the Black Art, would loosen every moral obligation, would grant dispensations to men’s oaths, and would sanction the murder of the unlearned; a system of injustice, whose Sanhedrins, at once heathenish and unlawful, have distinguished themselves only for force and fraud, for superabundant self-conceit, for cold-blooded cruelty, and for unrelenting enmity to all human nature,—such conditions, it is evident, are not calculated to create or to preserve national life. The civilized world would never endure the presence of a creed which says to man, “Hate thy neighbour unless he be one of ye,” or of a code written in blood, not in ink, which visits the least infractions of the Rabbinical laws with exorcism and excommunication, with stoning and flogging to death.[31] A year of such spectacles[Pg 70] would more than suffice to excite the wrath and revenge of outraged humanity; the race, cruel, fierce, dogged, and desperate as in the days of Titus and Hadrian, would defend itself to the last; the result would be another siege and capture of Jerusalem, and the “Chosen People” would once more lie prostrate in their blood and be stamped out of the Holy Land.

Briefly, it is evident that nothing but Russian preponderance in Syria and Palestine prevents its being reoccupied by its old intolerant and persecuting owners,[32] and that to these the greatest[Pg 71] possible misfortune would be the granting of their daily, weekly, and yearly prayer—

Next year may we meet at Jerusalem.


[25] In consequence of the accident which occurred to Jacob (Gen. xxxii.) his descendants still abstain from the hind-quarters of the few beasts left to them by Leviticus xv.

[26] Gaon means a learned man: had he not some other name?

[27] [Rabbenu Tam was the most distinguished disciple of the renowned R. Rashi (1040-1105 a.d.).]

[28] The formula, however, is still perpetually repeated. On the Sabbaths preceding the new moons Jehovah is adjured to “gather the dispersed, the united people of Israel from the four corners of the earth.” The sunset devotions, the Yom ha-Kippur, or Great Day of Atonement, concludes with, “Next year we shall be in Jerusalem.” At the Passover feast before the fourth cup the Lord is blessed, and all say, as they have been saying during the last eighteen centuries, “The year that approaches we shall be in Jerusalem.” The burden of the Musaph concluding the Sabbath services is that God may be pleased to return His people from their dispersions, and restore them to the possession of Jerusalem and the Temple.

[29] Not to be confounded with Hellenes. These Greeks are Syrian and Christian peasants (felláhín), without a drop of Greek blood in their veins, but belonging to the so-called Greek Church.

[30] In 1873 the population of the Holy City is generally laid down as:


[Owing to the recent immigration especially of Russian Jews, and to the opening of the railway to the coast of Jaffa, these figures have been more than quadrupled. In 1896 the whole population was estimated at over 80,000, of whom nearly 40,000 were Jews, 25,000 Christians of all denominations, and 15,000 Muhammadans, chiefly Turks and Arabs.]

[31] It has been well remarked that no Hebrew citizen was ever condemned to exile. If guilty, he was punished, but not made an outcast and infamous, forced to sin by dwelling beyond the holy soil of their own land in the impure and accursed rest of earth.

[32] It is interesting to read what the inspired Jew Spinoza wrote upon the Jews: “The rite of circumcision, I am fain to persuade myself, is of such moment in this matter (i.e. of isolating nations) that it alone, methinks, were enough to preserve this people distinct for ever; indeed, unless the fundamentals of their religion bring upon them effeminacy of mind and character, I am inclined to believe that, with the opportunity afforded, since human affairs are notoriously changeable, they may again recover their empire, and God elect them to Himself anew.... To conclude, were any one disposed to maintain that the Jews, for the cause assigned, or for any other cause whatsoever, had been especially chosen by God to all eternity, I should not gainsay him, provided he allowed that this choice was most in respect of nothing but empire and personal advantages (in which only one nation can be distinguished from another), for as regards understanding and true virtue no nation is more remarkable than another, and so cannot on such grounds be looked on as elected by God” (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, chap. iii.).

It is instructive to compare with the sage’s text two commentaries of his editions. One of them assures us that, no longer persecuted by Pope and Kaiser or Christian community, “with no mark of civic distinction denied the Jews, they will soon become absorbed into the larger Christian communities, surrounded by whom they now dwell in all the countries of Europe; they will finally disappear, and leave only historical records of their existence.” At present, however, Judaism bids fair to rise above and to survive Christianity. In B. Auerbach’s Leben Spinozas we are told that the immediate cause which to Spinoza suggested this “curious persuasion” (the restoration of the Jews) may have been this, that a certain Sabbathai Zewi,[33] who had lately appeared in Greece, caused such a commotion amongst his co-religionists as at one time to make their regeneration and reconstitution into a sovereignty appear not impossible.

[33] [Better known under the popular form Cevi.]

[Pg 72]



The present chapter contains many an assertion which will make the expert Talmudist smile. It will, however, serve one most useful purpose—namely, to show what the Christians and Muslims of the East hold to be the belief of the Hebrew race and the practices of men dwelling within the same walls as themselves. That this hostility to the Eastern Jews is no mere unreasoning prejudice, but is founded in some sort on fact, the following brief survey of the Rabbinical and Talmudic writings will show. A people which has such a vindictive Oral Law is sure to excite the spirit of retaliation, for obviously the Law exists not merely in letter, but in the spirit.

In a notorious trial in Damascus within living memory, which roused the anti-Jewish feeling in that city and indeed throughout Syria to a frenzy, certain learned doctors brought into court as evidence a number of manuscripts and printed books. It was remarked that the texts were full of lacunæ. This was explained by the fact that they are so[Pg 73] written, since Europe began to read the Rabbinical and Talmudic writings, for the purpose of concealing what might excite odium. The divines supply the omissions by inserting them in writing, or preferably by committing them to memory. Thus they suppress offensive sectarian words, such as Goi (plural Goyím), the wicked, the forgetful of God—that is to say, Gentiles in general, including Christians and Muslims; Miním, or Karaïte Jews; Kuthim, Samaritans; Nakhrím, strangers or infidels, corresponding with the Arabic Káfirin, or the Turkish Giaour; and Ndoyyím, or Mesúmedím, in Arabic Mahrúmín or Murtaddín, the excommunicated. And it is evident that they had good reasons for this prudence; the Seder Adarhout, for instance, enumerates with the object of refuting them many foul crimes attributed to the Jews.

The most important and pregnant tenet of modern Jewish belief is that the Ger, or stranger, in fact all those who do not belong to their religion, are brute beasts, having no more rights than the fauna of the field. Thus in Lucio Ferraris (Prompta Bibliotheca, Vol. III., sub lit. E and H, Order 4, Tract 8) we read: “Præcipitur omnibus Judæis ut Christianes omnes loco brutorum habeant, nec aliter eos tractent quam bruta animalia.” The argument from which this abominable belief is derived appears to be as follows: “When Abraham was ordered to offer up Isaac (Gen. xxii.), he saddled his ass, and[Pg 74] took two of his young men with him. But when he saw the place of sacrifice,[34] he said unto his young men, ‘Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.’” The Talmud declares that Abraham, who had seen God, asked his servants if they had likewise done so; and on their replying in the negative, he said to them, “Abide ye here with the ass,” meaning that they were animals like the ass. But this is by no means contrary to Scripture doctrine; for instance, Jeremiah (x. 8) calls the votaries of false religion “altogether brutish and foolish.” Thus the Law and the Prophets belong exclusively to the Jews; the Gentile reading or even buying a copy should be put to death. All the books of other faiths must be burnt, even though they contain the name of Jehovah; and if any but a Hebrew write the name of God in a Bible which is not a Jewish manuscript, the volume must also be burnt.

The Jew who does not keep the Sabbath (Saturday)[35] according to Rabbinical Law must suffer[Pg 75] excision, be stoned to death, or incur the flogging of rebellion, that is, he must be “beaten until his soul go out,” like all those who transgress affirmative commandments. Some Rabbis hold that a Hebrew, hearing the sound of the trumpet, should stand or sit in the same position until the evening of the Holy Day. All manner of work is absolutely forbidden to the Jew: he is guilty of capital crime if he carry a snuff-box or a pocket-handkerchief; he may not light a fire to cook his meals, nor extinguish it to prevent his house being burnt down. Until the days of the Maccabees he could not defend his life against an enemy; and when Strabo informs us that Pompey (b.c. 63) stormed Jerusalem “by waiting for the day of fast, on which the Jews were in the habit of abstaining from all work,” he evidently alludes to the Saturday. The modern Jew in Syria and Palestine can walk only two thousand paces upon the Sabbath, except when travelling through the dangerous desert.[36] He will not receive[Pg 76] money on that day, or transact any business, however profitable; it is moreover the fashion to keep a grave face, and to speak as little as possible. Yet he is not the strictest of Sabbatarians, and his women rather enjoy being called upon between the services[37] in order to display their dresses and jewellery. Of course there are many “guiles,” technically so called, in order to elude restrictions which savour of the degrading spirit peculiar to the Oral Law, which is little more than the Rabbinical Criminal Code intended to raise and provide for an aristocracy of savants. For instance, most wealthy[Pg 77] families, forgetting that he who hires a man to murder a third person is really the murderer, habitually keep Muslim servants, who can boil coffee and serve pipes to Gentile friends. And the latter must by no means join in honouring the day. According to the Talmud (chap, iv., Sanhedrin, of the fourth Mishnic Section, or order Seder Nezikin), the Gentile sanctifying the Sabbath must be put to death without asking questions, even as the Lord said to him, “Thou shalt not rest day nor night.”[38]

The Oral Law is superior in dignity to all others.[Pg 78][39] In the Prompta Bibliotheca we find (p. 297, Order 4, Tract 4, Dist. 10): “Gravius plectendos esse qui contradicunt verbis Scribarum quam verbis Mosaicæ Legis, quibus qui contradixerit, morte moriatur.” And he must die by the flogging of rebellion, a Rabbinical practice utterly unknown to the Pentateuch, which ordered forty stripes, whereas in the New Dispensation the offender must be flogged without intermission till he expires. Thus the Scribes and Pharisees still sit in Moses’ seat. The modern Jew follows the creed of Maimonides (twelfth century), which contains thirteen fundamental articles, the last being the resurrection of the dead. The ancient Jew obeyed the Twelve Commandments without a word about the resurrection. The sojourning proselyte who would be saved must become a Noahite, and obey the Seven Commandments assured to the Noachidæ; the Hakhám Abú'l Afíya gave them as follows:

1. Thou shalt not worship planets, stars, or idols.

2. Thou shalt not fornicate nor commit adultery.

3. Thou shalt not slay (man).

4. Thou shalt not steal.[Pg 79][40]

5. Thou shalt not eat in the street the flesh of a lamb.

6. Thou shalt not castrate the sons of Abraham, mankind, or any other animal.

7. Thou shalt not join the several races of animals.[41]

More correctly speaking, this code given to the Noachidæ, or Noahites, commands them to abstain from the Seven Deadly Sins: (1) idolatry; (2) irreverence to God; (3) homicide; (4) robbery, fraud, and plunder—generally, not only of a co-religionist; (5) adultery; (6) disobedience and misrule; and (7) eating part of an animal still living, or the blood of the dead. The latter was added (Gen. ix. 4) to the Six Sins forbidden to Adam—namely, idolatry, blasphemy, shedding of blood, incest, robbery, and injustice.

But the sojourning proselyte[42] receives scant con[Pg 80]solation, as he may not be received when the Jubilee cannot be observed (Hilchoth Issure Biah, xiv. 7, 8); and this ceased after Reuben, Gad, and half Manasseh were led away captive, or in b.c. 884, according to common chronology. Add to this 1,873, and we have 2,757 years since the last feast of the kind, and we have twenty-seven centuries and a half since any Gentiles were converted from the errors of idolatry to the religion of the sons of Noah.

Those who transgress any of the Commandments transgress them all.[43] The goods of Gentiles who have not conformed to the Noahite code, that is to say, all now living, are lawful to the Hebrews. This right was first conferred by Jehovah during the Exodus from Egypt, and it was confirmed to the descendants of the wanderers by the Talmud (Baba Masiaah, or Middle Gate, second of the fourth order, and Abodah Zarah, eighth of the same).

Rabbinical religion is rampant in the kitchen. Blood first forbidden to Noah (Gen. ix. 4), and afterwards to all the sons of Abraham (Lev. iii. 17 and vi. 30)—because it was supposed to contain the vital principle which it does not—must be drained out of the meat before this can be eaten. The[Pg 81] usual practice is by macerating it in water for thirty minutes, and leaving it in salt for an hour. It is then taken out and washed again, a peculiar wooden tub and sieve being used for the purpose. In Morocco the Jews also pound the flesh till the fibre is broken, and thus it becomes more tender and less able to be kept—this, however, is a local practice unknown to the Jews elsewhere. The Talmud declares that there are two kinds of blood pleasing to the Lord—viz. (1) that of the Paschal holocaust; (2) that of circumcision. In the books of Moses we find that blood is used as a purifier. For instance, the Lawgiver (Exod. xxiv. 6-8) took half of the blood drained from victims and put it in basins, with which he sprinkled the people to cleanse them from the abominations of the Egyptians, and the other half he sprinkled upon the altar. Human blood is not used by us in its pure state; nor can we[44] call it human, for the Gentiles are mere vermin, and of their daughters it is said, “Cursed be he that lieth with any beast.” It must also mostly undergo through manipulation a change of essence.[45] Nor is it administered indiscriminately, but only to the most zealous. On the eve of the Passover the chief Scribe attends the oven, and mixes what he pleases with the cakes, which are then sent round to the congregation.

[Pg 82]

A Jew abandoning the faith of Israel must die the death; also he should be surely slain for all such breaches of the Law as committing adultery. All who admit the doctrine of the Trinity, whether they be Jewish perverts, Christians, Muslims, or Pagans; all Hebrews who have violated the secrets of the Synagogue;[46] and all those especially who speak against or who injure a co-religionist, have forfeited their lives. In these days minor offenders are usually excommunicated;[47] but those who have been informers or who proved themselves hostile to Israel must be killed at all risks, either by the Jews themselves, or, better still, through the local authorities. This is an invariable rule.[48]

We read in the tract Sanhedrin (fourth of fourth order, p. 58) that the Gentile who strikes a Jew has committed a capital offence; this ordinance is as old as the sojourn of Moses in Egypt. He who strikes a Jew strikes the Deity. The “sons of Noah” may be slain by the sentence of a single Rabbi, or upon the[Pg 83] testimony of a solitary witness, although the latter be a relation. A descendant of the Hebrews who, learning the true God in the days of Abraham, thereby separated themselves from and exalted themselves above the rest of humanity, may not be put to death but by the decision of twenty Rabbis and on the testimony of two witnesses. A Gentile forfeits life if he cause a pregnant Jewess or her fruit to perish; a Jew is not to be punished capitally for such crime, but he must pay for the loss of the child (p. 57). The “son of Noah” who blasphemes the Holy Name, who has committed adultery with or who has slain a co-religionist, ceases to merit death by becoming a sojourning proselyte; but he must not be suffered to escape if he has slain a Jew, or if he has committed adultery with a Jewess (p. 71). The Jew must not contract friendship with Gentiles, lest, an oath being necessary, he be compelled to swear by an idol (p. 63). He may not eat bread prepared by the heathen, for fear of undue intimacy being the result. Market bread may be bought and eaten, but on condition that it was made for sale, not for private use and then sold—it is usual to burn a bit of such bread before using it. A Jew may not eat victuals cooked by Gentiles, although vessels from a Jewish house were used in the presence of Jews—this extends even to a roasted egg.

The tract Abodah Zarah, before alluded to,[Pg 84] asserts (p. 4) that all the commandments kept by Jews[49] shall bear friendly and favourable witness in heaven before all the assembled souls of men, and to the confusion of every other faith. Hebrews dwelling out of the four Holy Cities are as idol-worshippers, but without blame. A Jew going to a Gentile marriage feast eats impure food, although the meats be cooked by Jews and served by Jews in the presence of Jews; he even commits a sin if he enters the house within thirty days of the coming ceremony (p. 8). Gentiles should be prevented as much as possible purchasing immovable property. It is not allowed to speak well of a Gentile, man or woman, and it is a sin to make a present to them (p. 20), to greet or to approach them; and the Jew becomes as ceremonially impure by handling anything touched by them, by drinking out of the same cup, or by sleeping under the same roof, as if eating with them. Hebrews should never tether their beasts in places not belonging to them, at least without locking them up, lest the heathen plunder or pollute them. Gentiles preferred the Jews’ beasts to their own women, because evil entered into Eve on the day when the serpent (demon) committed adultery with her. A Jewess may not live amongst the heathen,[Pg 85] because possibly the latter do not hold adultery to be a sin; a Jew should also beware for fear of their killing him, as they probably will do. Israel was purified of every sin upon Mount Sinai; but the descendants of the peoples not present there preserve their perversity (p. 22). If a Hebrew wayfarer meet a Gentile armed with a sword (worn on the left), he should pass on the other’s right side, and vice versa if the stranger has only a staff, so that the arm can be seized before the weapon can be used; he must also name a distant place when asked his journey’s end, in order that the Gentile may defer slaying him till too late (p. 25).[50] The better to prevent all intimacy, the Jew must not buy wine or vinegar from a Gentile, who also may perhaps have used it in pagan rites. If a Christian, a Muslim, or an idolater touch a cup containing wine, the Jewish owner must throw away the wine or sell it to the heathen, and cleanse the cup. The same is the case with grapes. The Law forbids the Israelites to marry the daughters of the Seven Tribes that held the land before the conquest—namely, the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. This, say the writers of[Pg 86] and commentators on the Talmud, arose from the fact of these women being impure from their childhood upwards. Others, however, whilst including all Gentiles in these Seven Tribes, assert that the prohibition was not on account of any special impurity, such women being vermin or brute beasts not subject to the normal feminine infirmities. Thus the learned restrain their weaker brethren who might suppose that an impure Gentile woman is pure to them, and who might even extend it to the case of a Jewess. Hence again the deduction that only the Hebrews are human beings (p. 35).[51]

Tract Arubim (second of the second order, Seder Moed, Of Appointed Seasons) declares (p. 62) that if a Jew live under the same roof with a Gentile who breaks the Sabbath (Saturday),[52] the former, lest he be robbed, should drive out the latter by hiring the whole house. But he may expel the heathen as he can or as he pleases; all tenements inhabited by others than Jews are dens of beasts which cannot[Pg 87] become householders. The “son of Noah” who steals even a farthing should be put to death—one of ten commandments given by God in His covenant with Noah—and he cannot be pardoned unless he restore the stolen goods. But God enjoined this restitution only upon Gentiles becoming Israelites (i.e. sojourning proselytes); all other thieves must be instantly and pitilessly slain.

In tract Ohaleth (second of the sixth order, called Seder Taharoth, or Of Purification) we read (§ 6) that the graves of Gentiles cannot be held impure because they are not tenanted by human beings, and that when the law declares sitting upon tombs a cause of defilement it alludes only to those of Jews. Chapter Baba Bathra (third tract of the fourth order) declares (§ i, p. 10, also repeated in another part of the same tract) that all alms given by Jews are acceptable to God, whereas those of the Gentiles are so many sins because their objects are ostentation and the preservation of their children. If, however, the Jew declare that his alms-deeds are meant to save his family and to win Paradise, still they are grateful to Jehovah—a privilege allowed only to the children of Israel. In the same tract we are also informed that Esau, the son of Isaac, sinned five times in one day, by committing adultery with a heathen, by slaying his neighbour, by profaning the name of his God, by insulting the resurrection of the dead at the coming of the Messiah,[Pg 88] and by degrading the rights of primogeniture.[53] Rabbi Shalomon argues, from the fact of Ishmael laughing when his brother Isaac was born, that Sarah concluded therefrom, either that he held her to be an adulteress, or that she saw him commit a murder; thus he draws the deduction that Ishmael had broken the Seven Commandments, and that consequently his descendants cannot bear witness against Jews (p. 16).

Tract Bechoroth (on Primogeniture, fourth of the fifth order, Seder Kodashim, Of Holy Things) gives (i. 17) the formula of the Scribes’ prayers, and tells us that there are two things which hinder men from keeping the law of God—the action of demons and dependence upon Gentiles. The Lord explains to the angels that usury is permitted only to the Hebrews, who, being ordered to give thanks after food, praise their Creator even when they have eaten only an egg or an olive (p. 20). A Jew may not pray before a naked Gentile, though the latter be in the category of a wild beast (p. 25). This tract relates that a Jew, beaten by a Scribe when detected in adultery with an Egyptian woman, complained to a Gentile ruler that the law had been taken into private hands. The Scribe pleaded[Pg 89] that he had surprised the criminal with a she-ass, and called the prophet Elijah to bear witness. “Why didst thou not slay him?” asked the magistrate. The reply was that, since the children of Israel had been driven from their own country, such a punishment could not be inflicted by them, but that the judge could do as he pleased. When both left the court, the Jew charged the Scribe with having called Elijah as a witness to a lie. “Wretch!” exclaimed the learned man, “and are they not the same as she-asses?” But as the Jew was about to return and report this explanation, the Scribe slew him with his staff (i., p. 58). Hence it appears that this tenet is a religious secret whose violation merits death. When a Jew looks upon the grave of a brother Jew, he must say: “Blessed is He who hath created us by law, who has promised to raise us again by law, and who knoweth our number; blessed is He who revives the dead.” But if the tomb be that of a Gentile, he must say: “Shame upon thy mother, cursed be she that bare thee; for the end of the heathen shall be dry and desolate as the soil of the desert” (p. 58). It also explains earthquakes by the lamentations of the Lord, who bewails the miseries of the Jews (p. 59). If a Jew find an object lost, we will say, by a Muslim, he must not restore it, even though he knew the proprietor. Also, if a Gentile make any mistake in accounting with the Jew, or leave property in his[Pg 90] house, the latter, when not in fear of the authorities, must rob him. At all times, in fact, the Jew should spoil the Gentile as much as possible. If one Jew injure another, though even his personal enemy and the greatest villain in the world, especially if such injury be to the advantage of a Gentile, the Jew shall surely die (chap. 388 of the Khalehah Orah Haím Meshat, one of the most accredited parts of the Oral Law). All those present are bound to put the denouncer to death before he can do the deed; and if he has done it, they must remove him from this world, every Israelite in the place contributing to pay the assassin. The oath of a Gentile or a Samaritan cannot be taken in evidence against a Jew. If a dispute occurs between two Israelites, they must go before their own judge.[54] It is sinful to have recourse to foreign tribunals, and all the decisions of the latter, when adverse to Jews, must be quashed. Although the heathen court pass sentence according to Hebrew Law, the plaintiff or denouncer becomes impious, sacri[Pg 91]legious, and religiously excommunicated, whilst the Rabbi is bound to make him lose his cause by every possible contrivance, even by suborning false witnesses against him. And at last due punishment must be dealt out. The latter is not a Biblical command, but it results from the commentaries on the Talmuds. When these works were written Muhammadanism did not exist; Muslims therefore are now included amongst the Gentiles. They are not, however, like the Christian idolaters.

In tract Keritoth (or Excision, the seventh of the fifth order, Kodashim) the learned R. Moshe Meimunah, after describing a fight between two bulls,[55] the one belonging to a Jew, the other to an Egyptian, declares (p. 36) that, in case of a dispute between men of these different races, the Hebrew, if in the right, should go to the local authority and say, “See, such is the Law!” But he must not do so if he prefer the Jewish tribunal. The Rabbi adds that no one should be astonished[Pg 92] at such a condition, for all who do not keep the revealed commandments are not men, but beings whose sole purpose upon earth is to serve men. Tract Muad Katon (Little Feast, eleventh of the second order) forbids Jews to salute Gentiles unless in fear of them, and even then never twice. When it was observed to the author that many Scribes had so done, he replied that doubtless it was with some such mental reservation as this, “I salute thee, A., son of B.,” meaning the Rabbi who had taught the speaker to read the Scriptures (p. 62). El Ruzich, in his commentaries on the Talmudic tract Abodah Zarah, speaking of Hebrew accusers of Hebrews and eaters of flesh not ceremonially killed, declares their death to be a necessity.

At this point it may be advisable to offer a short view of the two Great Schools of the Holy Land which have influenced Jewish thought in Christian times. These are, first, that of Tiberias, whence issued the Talmud of Jerusalem, followed by the Talmud of Babylon; and, second, the School of Safed, which rendered itself remarkable by the extreme opinions of its commentaries and glossaries.[56]

We read in a Jewish writer (M. J. Cohen on the[Pg 93] authority of the Talmud, Archives Israëlites, 1841)[57]: “When after two hundred years of energetic struggles against an empire which was fated to be universal the Hebrew race found its political nationality in peril, the first want felt was to lighten, as much as possible, the bonds of personality, so as morally to preserve by identity of belief that unity which dispersion was about to dissolve. And the plan which at once suggested itself was to determine, by an invariable method, the principles of the Mosaic Law, to develop their sense, and to fix their interpretation.

“But in those times, if I may so speak, the lights of Israel were eclipsed; ages had elapsed since the voices of the prophets had delivered to this people the Oracles of God; and divine inspiration, the heightening of the national faculties by supernatural means, seemed to have returned to its home in heaven. Moreover, after the destruction of Jerusalem and the expulsion of the Jews, all authority had disappeared with national power, and, social organization no longer existing, man could not magisterially impose his opinion upon others. The only rational step in this state of things was to assemble all the Israelites, or those who represented them, and to form a sovereign synod.”

[Pg 94]

The Jewish Senate, Sanhedrin ([Greek: Συνεδριον: Synedrion]),[58] or national council, was first transferred from the ruins of the Holy City to Javneh, and after many removes to Saffúríah,[59] the Sephores which in the days of Josephus was ever faithful to the Romans. Finally, about the middle of the second century, during the reign of Antoninus Pius (a.d. 138-161), it was transferred to Tiberias, another city of Galilee. Rabbi Yahúda, universally known as ha-Kodesh, or the saint, was the Nashi (Prince) of his nation and the President of the Sanhedrin. He lived at Saffúríah, where there is a cave through which the Roman[Pg 95] Emperor, whose reign in history is almost a blank, used to visit him from Tiberias; this tunnel is now blocked up. The modern Jews residing in Galilee are not agreed whether the Great Rabbi died at Saffúríah, or at Túrean, a neighbouring village, where two large caves exist; but neither of them shows traces of a tomb. When this Prince of Israel died, it was Friday evening, and the sun stood still whilst his corpse was carried to its distant grave, lest even the body might break the Sabbath.[60]

“The work of this Sanhedrin consisted in committing to paper that which had before been entrusted to memory and had perpetuated itself by tradition—the jurisprudence of the Jews, the various interpretations of the Law by the principal doctors, and the rules of man’s duty; in other words, all that was called the Oral Law. Thus the Synod began by transgressing a principle of Israelitism, which until those days had decreed that the supplementary code should never be written, and hence indeed its vulgar name. In this point the Œcumenical Council followed the[Pg 96] example of Hadrian (a.d. 117-138), the adopted father of Antoninus Pius, who also commanded the jurist Salvius Julianus to draw up the Edictum Perpetuum, or fixed code, and the Responsa Prudentium, which before his time formed an unwritten corps of doctrine embodying legal decisions and precedents. The book, which was compiled by R. Yahúda, with the adhesion of the Jewish majority, received the name of Mishnah, ‘doubling,’ or repetition of the Law, and its principles became obligatory upon all men.” The great work was completed, according to some, about a.d. 119; David Ganz prefers a.d. 219, or a short time before the compiler’s death; whilst others contend that R. Yahúda collected the principles of the code, and that the nation accepted it by order of Gamaliel, his son, and successor in the princely dignity of Nashi and presidency of the Sanhedrin;[61] “and others again make it of still later date. At all events, it is the most ancient composition known to the Jews after the Law and the Prophets.”

By almost imperceptible degrees the notes and commentaries upon this text grew to formidable proportions, and became a special science, whose technical name, found in the Book of Chronicles (2 xiii. 22 and xxiv. 27), is Midrash, from darash; in Arabic, dars, a lesson. Of the innumerable methods of studying these Holy Writs, the three principal are[Pg 97] embodied in the Persian Paradís, the Arabic Firdaus, and the Greek [Greek: Παραδεισος: Paradeisos], written Semitically without vowels PRDS, and the mysterious letters were assumed mneumonically as the initial of a technical word. Thus P (Peshat, the simple rendering of words) recorded the elementary law of Talmudic exegesis, “No verse of Scripture practically admits any sense but the literal sense,”[62] although in a different or familiar signification it may be explained in a host of ways. R (Remiz, the Arabic Ramz, a secret, intimation, insinuation, or suggestion of meaning) illustrates certain letters and signs apparently superfluous and explained only by tradition; in a more general manner, it gave rise to a memoria technica and a stenography resembling the Roman Notaricon. Points and notes were added to the margins of manuscripts, and thus was founded the Massorah (tradition), or diplomatic conservation of the text, intended to preserve its purity. D (Derush, illustration) was the familiar application of historical,[Pg 98] traditional, anecdotical, allegorical, and prophetical sayings to the actual state of events; it was a sermon aided by ethics, logic, poetry, parable, proverb, apologue, and the vast mass of legendary lore known as the Hagadah (plural Hagadoth), as opposed to the Halakah,[63] or dogmatic part—perhaps it was suggested by the New Testament. Finally, the fourth and last, S (Sod, secret, mystery), included the mystical and esoterical sciences of theosophy, metaphysics, angelology, and a host of supernatural visions, brilliant and fantastic. It borrowed with impartial hand from the magic of Egypt, the myths of Hermes Trismegistos, the works of the Platonists and Neo-Platonists, and the labours of the Christian Gnostics. Few were initiated into “the Creation,” or “the Chariot,” as it was called, alluding to the vision of Ezekiel; yet its attractions were such that at last “Paradise” was confined to this special branch of esoteric science, even as later in Gnosticism it came to signify the Spiritual Christ.

Yet the Talmudic authors lay down the principle that their decisions are in no wise absolute, but can always be modified by a power equal to that which lay them down.[64] Their sole object was to[Pg 99] fix the sense and the rules of Written Law; for as Moïse de Coucy says in his S'mag, or Great Book of Precepts: “If the interpretation of the Oral Law had not been added to the Written Law, the whole code would have been obscure and unintelligible, because Holy Writ is full of passages which seem to oppose and contradict one another.” Rambáni Maimonides of Cordova declares (Introduction to his Guide, Vol. I., p. 29): “Thus we find continually written in the Talmud, ‘The beginning of the chapter differs from the end’; and the explanation is given, ‘Because the first part emanates from such-and-such a doctor, and the last from another.’ Furthermore, we read, ‘Rabbi Yahúda the Holy approved the opinion of that doctor in that case, and merely records the opinions of this doctor in this case, without even naming him.’” The following formulas are also frequent: “To whom belongs this anonymous assertion?” R. “To A. B., the doctor!” and, “To whom belongs our paragraph of the Mishnah?” R. “To such-and-such a person!”

To resume the history of the Talmud.

Some years after the publication of the Mishnah in the third century (a.d. 230-270), R. Yochanan, who for eighty years had been President of the[Pg 100] Sanhedrin, undertook a commentary on the text like the Sharh, which accompanies the Arabic Matu. Aided, it is said, by Rab and Samuel, the disciples of Gamaliel, son of R. Yahúda, he produced about a.d. 390 a book which, united with the Mishnayoth, received the title Talmud (doctrine or learning) of Jerusalem, though written at Tiberias. The product of the Schools of Palestine, it was composed in the West Aramæan tongue; and it calls the Mishnic text by the simple name of Halakah (rule), or dogmatic part. The School of Tiberias flourished apparently in the days of St. Jerome, and passed into oblivion during the fourth and early fifth centuries.

In a.d. 367 Askhi, President of the Babylonian Sanhedrin, whilst teaching the Mishnah, annually commented upon two tracts of that work, which, being concise, and as it were axiomatic, like all books that announce legislative principles, required explanation of the author’s exact intention. He was aided by the opinions of many doctors omitted in the Mishnah, either those who died before R. Yahúda the Holy had finished his labours, or the many who followed during the ensuing years. In order that his learning might not be lost to the world, he compiled and transcribed thirty-five tracts, and died a.d. 427. His son Mar and Marimon his disciple continued the work, and after seventy-three years appeared the Gemara, complement or[Pg 101] conclusion. It was written in the Eastern Aramæan tongue, and it corresponds with the Hasheyah of Arabic standard works.

The Mishnah and the Gemara, now forming a single code, became known to history as the Talmud Babli (of Babylon); and when the Talmud is mentioned, the second work, being the fuller and the more minute, is always meant.[65] Presently the Talmudists separated into two great and rival schools in ante-Christian times: that of Hillel,[66] remarkable for his learning, his humility, and his charity, extending even so far as to forbid usury (Tract Baba Metzin, folio 17b); and that of Shammai, inflexible in principles and often inclining to severity.

Both of these voluminous compositions are essentially a corpus juris, to be compared with the Edictum Perpetuum and Responsa Prudentium, with the Pandects, the Novellæ,[67] and the Institutes. They[Pg 102] form an encyclopædia of Judæan Law, divine and human, national and international, laical and ecclesiastic, civil and criminal; a doctrinal, judicial, and sentential digest, dealing in exegesis and hermeneutics; a huge compilation of what Muslim divines call Fatwá, or decisions upon legal subjects; and a thesaurus of ceremonial observances borrowed from the Oral Law and the traditions of the heads of schools from Rabbi Gamaliel downwards.[68] Composed in the East, that classic land of the supernatural, they abound in Hagadistic matter, wild and picturesque legends sometimes inculcating moral lessons, like the four nocturnal spectres Lilíth, Naama, Aguerith, and Mahala,[69] at other times puerile tales of the great angels Patspatsiah, Tashbach, Hadarniel, Enkatham, Pastam, Sandalphon, Shamsiel, and Prasta. Its historical, topographical, ethnographical, and geographical information must be[Pg 103] received with the greatest reserve, coming from authors of different ages and of several values. For instance, the Gemara (Sanhedrin, vi. 2) informs us that our Lord, having vainly endeavoured during forty days to find an advocate, was sentenced, and on the 14th of Nisan was stoned and afterwards hanged. It is a storehouse of curious allusions to the products of various countries, the occupations of races, agriculture, gardening, professions and trades, arts and sciences, connubial relations, manners and customs, the interiors of houses, and even dress. It portrays the cosmopolitanism and the luxury of Rome in her later days, thereby filling up the somewhat meagre sketches of the post-classical school. We find in the Mishnah allusions to the fish of Spain, the apples of Crete, the cheese of Bithynia, the zythus,[70] lentils, and beans of Egypt, the citrons of Greece, the wines of Italy, the beer of Media, the garments of India and Pelusium, the shirts of Cilicia, and the veils of Arabia.

“At five years of age,” says the Mishnah, “let the child begin to study the Scriptures; let him continue so doing till the age of ten, when he may begin to study the Mishnah; at the age of fifteen let him begin the Gemara” (T. Aboth, chap. v.). This passage in the “vast work or ocean of learning,” as some call[Pg 104] it, could not but be distasteful to Christianity. The tone adopted in speaking of the Almighty is anthropomorphic and anthropocentric in the extreme.[71] God spends a fourth part of the day in studying the Law. At every watch of the night He sits and roars like a lion, saying, “Woe is Me that I have laid desolate My house and burned My sanctuary, and sent My children into captivity among the nations of the world” (Berachoth). He plays for three hours every day with the leviathan. And bear in mind there are far more objectionable representations than these in the writings of the Rabbis. It revels more than any known faith in the degradation of women; the Rabbinic court declares women “disqualified by the Law from giving testimony”; the Talmud excludes them from the public worship of God, and teaches that they are under no obligation to learn the revealed will of their Creator,—peculiarly antipathetic doctrines to those who believe in an Immaculate Virgin and in a St. Mary Magdalen. Moreover, the large space given to cursing the Jew and the non-Jew, and to the unhallowed practices of magic and[Pg 105] necromancy, the summoning and conversing with devils and spirits, the advocacy of astrology, charms, and philters, served as a pretext for Pope and Inquisition to attack it. In a.d. 553 Justinian proscribed it by Novella 146 as a “tissue of puerilities, of fables, of iniquities, of insults, of imprecations, of heresies, and of blasphemies”; it was destroyed by Gregory IX. in a.d. 1230; it was burnt in Paris by Innocent IV. (a.d. 1244); and it was proscribed by Clement IV., by Honorius[72] IV., and by John XXII. The first printed edition (Venice, 1520) saved it, and not until the third had appeared (Basle, 1578) did it come under the eye of the censor.

In 1553 and 1555 Julius III. promulgated a proclamation against what he called grotesquely the Talmud Gulnaroth; and this proceeding was repeated by Paul IV. in 1559, by Pius V. in 1566, and by Clement VIII. in 1592 and 1599.

A well-known anti-Talmudical writer remarked in 1836: “The promised German translation of the Talmud, if ever completed, must without any discussion overthrow Talmudism. Its exhibition in any European language is the most fatal attack that[Pg 106] can be made on its authority.” This is utterly unphilosophical; the Book of Mormon, with all its Americanisms and its internal evidences of futile forgery, confirmed instead of destroying Mormonism. The Mishnah was translated into Latin by Surenhusius (Amsterdam, three vols. 4o) as early as 1698-1703, and into German by the Chaplain J. J. Rabi (Onolzbach & Ansbach, first to sixth part, 4o) in 1760-1763. Without any knowledge of Hebrew or Aramæan, those who read Latin, French and Italian, German and English, will find in any great library—that of the British Museum for instance—a translation of almost every part, and they may be assured that the small remnant still untranslated contains nothing of importance. The modern verdict is that the Talmuds are a “spotted orb,” and that they contain two distinct elements—the sacred light in the true interpretation of the word of God, and the purely human darkness in its folly and infirmity. But it does not confirm the following assertion of the Initiation of Youth (Rabbi Ascher): “The Talmudical writers enjoin upon us to treat Christians as our own brethren in every social matter.”[73]

The second great Rabbinical School arose at Safed, also a city of Galilee, and rising within sight of Tiberias. Benjamin of Tudela (a.d. 1163) visited[Pg 107] the tombs of Hillel and Shammai, “near Merún, which is Maron,” supposed to be the Beth-maron of the Talmud; but he says nothing about Jews being in Safed, then a fortress held by the Templars. “The city set upon a hill” is also ignored by travellers of the next three hundred years, and appears in history only about the sixteenth century.[74] It then became the great centre of Jewish learning—in fact, another Jerusalem. The children of Israel dwelt there in great numbers, and had a vast Khan, a square lead-roofed fortress, where many of them lived, and which contained a fine synagogue. Besides the schools in which the sciences were taught, they counted eighteen synagogues, distinguished by the names of the several nations which possessed them, as the Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, and others. The printing-press, of which there are remnants at the north-eastern village Ein el Zeitún, issued many volumes, now becoming exceedingly rare because so much in request amongst European bibliophiles. The College (Madrásh) of the Rabbis still remains, a two-arched hall, of which no part is ancient except the eastern side. All the rest has been shaken down by earthquakes, which are supposed to destroy the city as each Sabbatical year comes round. In the cemetery below the settlement are the whitewashed graves of Joseph Caro, of Shalomon Alkabez, and of other notables.

The peculiar ferocity of the Safed School resulted[Pg 108] partly from the domination of the sons of Ishmael, which, however mild, is everywhere distasteful to the children of Israel.[75] If “Esau hateth Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him,” Jacob returns the hate with at least equal heat, adding fear and contempt—he would willingly, to use the words of Rashi, “blot out Esau and his seed.” But doubtless the harshness and cruelty which distinguished its doctors must be explained by the nature of the place and its surroundings. Situated in the bleak and windswept, the stony and barren highlands of Upper Galilee, shaken by earthquakes, and exposed to terrible storms, Safed is one of the least amene sites in the whole of Syria. The climate is ever in extremes, the water is hard and full of constipating lime, the earth is cold and fruitless, and the people are crafty and cruel as Simeon and Levi. After a few days’ residence, strangers complain of sickness, cramps, and malaise, and their only desire is to escape from the gloom and seclusion of this town upon the hillside. Even the Muhammadans contrast the facile manners of their own women at soft and low-lying Tiberias with the asperity and the violence of those who inhabit the upland settlement. “Safad fasad” (Safed ever giveth trouble) is the jingling saw of the neighbourhood, and it contains abundant[Pg 109] truth. The amount of intrigue and plotting is excessive even in a Syrian settlement, the charges bandied about by men against one another are atrocious—this doctor is a murderer, that scribe is an adulterer, and the third is a swindler and a thief. If the visitor were to believe half what he hears, he would find himself in a den of brigands. That not a few of these charges are founded on fact may be gathered from what travellers have printed concerning certain sons of this Holy City, some of which are too revolting for publication. The rich divines are accused of shamelessly embezzling the Halúkah, large sums sent from Europe for the maintenance of the community; and the poor are ready with complaints upon the most trivial occasions—the breaking of a hen’s leg sends them on a hurried official visit to their Vice-Consuls. It is not too much to say that if Safed again produced a theological school, it would rival in its narrow bigotry and peculiar ferocity that which disgraced the sixteenth century.

The Talmud had spoken its last upon the interpretation of the Torah, it had closed the discussions which arose from the sacred text, and it had exhausted the traditional lore and the rules established by the Rabbis of Palestine and Babylon till the fifth century after the Christian era. Still, the Talmud itself required after the course of ages to be interpreted, and this gave rise to a variety of mediæval abridgments and to a vast series of glosses[Pg 110] and commentaries. The more modern Rabbis especially resolved that no uncertainty should rest upon the Halakah, or doctrinal part of the work, and they strictly applied themselves to codify the whole body of the Talmud.

To cite only the best-known names. We have to begin with Rabbi Ishaz al Fasi, who first resumed the Talmud, and who had the boldness to expel from the text everything not strictly bearing upon the discussion. Then came the celebrated Maimonides of Cordova (a.d. 1150), whose Yad ha-Hazaka (Hand of Power) is a compendium of Talmudic lore valued almost as highly as the original. He was followed by Ascheri, a powerful dialectician, who knew how to conciliate with the Talmudic argument the observations of the Tossaphists, or Glossarians, represented before and after him by Rashi, Rabbenu Tam, Coucy, and a host of others. His son succeeded him, and made a new attempt at a codification, in which the opinions of Ascheri naturally occupied the place of honour.

About this time rose the Safed School. The first and greatest commentator was the Rabbi by some called Rabanu Jacob Be-Rab, an exile from Spain, and subsequently Chief Rabbi of Fez and Safed, where, after long teaching, he died in a.d. 1541. This Baal ha-Turim (Lord of the Books), as he is called, wrote four works, which, being considered in the light of “religious laws,” were[Pg 111] known as the Diním. The first of the Arbah Turim, Orach Chaüin (Urah ha-Yiim, the Way of Life), treats of observances enjoined upon the Jews. The second is Joré Déah (Yurah daah, the Teacher of Knowledge); it describes the ceremonious observances of butchering, eating, making vows, circumcising, and so forth. The third is Eben ha-Azar, the Stone of Assistance (to mankind). And in the fourth, Hoshen Mishpat (Breastplate of Judgment), law, civil and criminal, is discussed.

The School of this commentator was kept up by Moses of Trani in Apulia, who lectured during fifty-four years to a.d. 1580, the year of his death. The next name of repute was R. Joseph Karo, or Caro, a Jew of Spanish descent, born at Constantinople, who died in a.d. 1575. He was a voluminous writer. In the Shoulkhan Aroukh, a code of religion adopted universally by the Israelites, he analyzed and resumed the opinions of his predecessors. His magnum opus is the Beth Yúsúf (House of Joseph), in four folios, first printed at Venice, and repeatedly republished; it consists of commentaries upon the four Diním of Rabanu Jacob, on the Talmudic writings of the R. Ishaz al Fasi, and on the labours of Rabbino Yakúb ben Rosh, not to be confounded with Rashi the glossarian. The fourth great name is R. Shalomon Alkabez, also of Constantinople, who wrote in a.d. 1529, and who was still living in a.d. 1561. This theologian has left the worst[Pg 112] name amongst the Christians, whom he seems to have hated from his very heart. A pupil and colleague of Caro and Alkabez was Moses of Cordova, the most famous Cabalist since the days of Simeon ben Jochai; he died Chief Rabbi of Safed in a.d. 1570. Moses Galanté, a native of Rome, was somewhat later, dying in a.d. 1618. But the academy was not indebted for its fame to strangers alone; Samuel Oseida and Moses Alsheikh, both natives of Safed, contributed to its celebrity during the sixteenth century. The latter died between a.d. 1592 and 1601.

Of the mediæval Rabbis and their successors generally, it may be observed that the later the school the more prominent became its bigotry and violence. This is easily explained. Anna Comnena[76] describes the Crusades, which were guided by a giant and a goose, with truly Eastern relish, as having left a “very admirable mound of bones, high, deep, and broad.” But they left something more—a tradition which presently enabled the Christians to recover power in the Holy Land, and their abomination of the Jew inspired him with kindred sentiments. Nor can we wonder that the later and more fanatical writings are preferred by the Israelites to those of the earlier schools. Religious exclusiveness and the ambition of being a peculiar people, set apart from and raised above the rest[Pg 113] of humanity, appeal to the heart of every man through the sure channel of his passions. And thus in the youngest faith of the world we find the same phenomenon as in one of the most ancient—the Book of Doctrines and Covenants is read at Salt Lake City whilst the Book of Mormon is neglected.

R. Jacob Be-Rab, in the second part of his Joré Déah (Yurah daah), asserts that it is unlawful to draw a Gentile out of a well into which he may have descended or fallen. He also declares that the scrupulous Jewish physician who thoroughly conforms to Talmudic Law will not attend a Gentile without honorarium, because this will be his sole reward. He may do so gratuitously, if he wishes to study medicine by that means; but he should usually kill such patients whilst pretending to cure them. This, however, must be attempted only when there is no chance of detection. R. Joseph Caro of Safed, one of the most pestilent of that School, in his commentary upon the Way of Knowledge, enables the doctor to do additional harm by calling Gentile fees Kashmad, that is to say, the wages of sin—a term applied to the price of a woman’s honour; and in speaking especially of Christians, he declares that if the Jewish physician takes his fee without poisoning them it is as the gift to the wicked woman. On the other hand, should the mediciner be unwilling to be paid, he must absolutely poison[Pg 114] his patient. He also forbids the doctor who has not thoroughly studied the healing art to attend one of his own faith, lest his ignorance cause death;[77] but he may practise amongst all others, because if he kill them it is lawful and no matter (commentary of Gittin, the sixth tract of the third order). Others declare that the Hebrew physician must not treat a stranger even for fees; but if he fear the Gentile, and the latter know him to be a Jew, he may do so for money. Rubbi argues the question by reference to the Gittin, in which it is related that R. Richmi bin Askhi had prepared a dose for a stranger; he explains that the drug may have been given by way of experiment, or for the purpose of study.

The Safed School continued its labours into the seventeenth century, and Quasimus (writing about a.d. 1625) speaks of it [Safed] as inhabited chiefly by Hebrews, who had their synagogues and schools, and for whose sustenance contributions were made by the Jews in other parts of the world. After that it gradually sank under the oppression of the Muhammadans, who probably took the place by degrees.


[34] Mount Moriah (of appearance), afterwards the site of Solomon’s Temple. Certain modern writers, especially Mr. Mills (Nablous and the Samaritans), would identify Mount Gerizím of Shechem with Moriah; but the most superficial consideration of the distance to be marched and the time required proves the theory to be absurd.

[35] This institution has even distinguished the Jew from the other civilized nations of antiquity, the Egyptians and Assyrians, the Hindus and Guebres, the Greeks and Romans, who ignored it. By this part of his cosmogony Moses evidently intended to inculcate the dignity of labour and the hygienic necessity of rest. But the Rabbis and Doctors exaggerate all things, and they have still, like the vulgar Hebrew, to learn that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. The Targum of Onkelos (Dr. Etheridge’s Translation. London: Longmans, 1862) makes the Creator rest and be refreshed in all points like a wearied human being. Dr. McCaul and a host of writers have enlarged upon the vexatious, barbarous, and inhuman Sabbatical ordinances engrafted by the Talmudists upon the Mosaic Law.

[36] Usually the Sabbatical journey is reckoned at one Mil (mile); but it varies according to circumstances, the permitted extremes varying between seven furlongs and two miles. Probably the ancient Jews had a longer and a shorter measure, in the latter the pace being half of what it was in the former; the longer mile, equal to 2,000 paces, = 5,000 feet = 1,666 yards, or 98[78] yards shorter than the English statute measure, whilst the Roman was 142 yards less than ours.

[37] The Sabbath services throughout the world are four—namely, (1) Prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings in the synagogue on Friday after sunset; (2) Saturday morning prayers, rather later than usual that men may take a longer rest; (3) Ha-phatorah, the conclusion after the morning prayer, reading sections of the Law and the Prophets; and (4) Ha-musaph, or the additional prayers, consisting of portions of the Pentateuch referring to the sacrifices of the Mosaic Dispensation which are now no longer lawful. The style of cantillation is complicated as the reading of the Koran, and would be called a “neuma”[79] in the mediæval music of the Christian Church. And the chant annotation, which is shown in every Old Testament, offers a host of difficulties. As a rule the services are the reverse of impressive. They are in a dead language “not understanded of the people”; they are hurried over with unseemly haste; and, as in most ceremonial faiths, the profuse outward observances contrast strangely with the apparent absence of religious feeling.

[38] “A Gentile who employs himself in the Law is guilty of death. He is not to employ himself except in the seven commandments that belong to the Gentiles. And thus a Gentile who keeps a Sabbath—though it be on one of the weekdays—if he make it to himself as a Sabbath, he is guilty of death.” And the measure of difference between Gentile and Jew is that, whilst the former has seven commandments, the latter has six hundred and thirteen.

[39] Thus the Rabbinical saying is: “Every one is bound to divide the time of his study into three—one-third to be devoted to the Written Law, one-third to Mishnah, and one-third to Gemara.” Thus he gives one-half to the Old Testament, whilst double study is assigned to the Oral Law. The latter, which has some tangible points of resemblance with the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church and the Sunnat of the Muhammadans, is the unwritten code received by Moses on Mount Sinai and transmitted inviolate by word of mouth from generation to generation. Until after the last destruction of Jerusalem it was never committed to writing (see A Manual of Judaism, by Joshua Van Oven, Esq., M.R.C.S.L. London, 1835). It is held uninspired by all save the Jews, and one of its bitterest enemies was the Founder of Christianity, who, when attacking tradition, never failed to uphold the Law. One might smile at so prodigious an assumption as this legendary system in the total absence of historic proof. But only a few years ago a French Grand Rabbi published a learned work to prove that the facts can be accounted for only supernaturally. Also Dr. Adler, Orthodox Chief Rabbi of England, declared, in a sermon preached but a few years ago, the Written and the Oral Laws to be equally divine, and compared the reformers with the false mother in the judgment of Solomon. These things make us regret the total disappearance of the Sadducee or Rationalistic School.

[40] [The fourth, omitted by Burton, is, “Tu non ruberai” according to the Hakhám.]

[41] Arubím, or mixtures, were forbidden by the Mosaic Law (Lev. xix. 19), and were greatly extended by the Oral Law, such as grafting, sowing different kinds of seeds in the same soil, wearing a garment of wool and linen mixed, and so forth. The subject is copiously treated in the nine chapters of Kilaim (Heterogeneous, or Things not to be Mixed), the fourth tract of the first order, Seder Zeraaim (the Order of Seeds).

[42] The subject of proselytizing amongst the ancient Jews is full of difficulties, and the object seems mostly to have been the discouragement of converts, with a fair scheme on paper. The Proselytes of the Gate, generally called Gerim, or strangers (“the stranger that is within thy gates”) and properly Noachidæ (sons of Noah), were only half Israelites. The Proselytes of the Covenant or of Righteousness were perfect Israelites. They are still admitted under protest—men by circumcision and immersion in water, and women by the latter rite only. It is a question how far baptism was used in ante-Christian times, and possibly John the Baptist merely adopted the old rite for a new purpose.

[43] This again is Scriptural. “The doctrine of Moses is not that obedience to one command will compensate for disobedience to another, but that disobedience to one command will make obedience to others of none effect.”

[44] [Sic Burton. The Hebrew scribe is supposed to be speaking.]

[45] Here the scribe does not explain himself. What he refers to is the supposed system of reducing the blood to ashes.

[46] “Heretics and informers and Epicureans, who have denied the Law or the resurrection of the dead, ... all such go down to hell, and are judged for ever” (Rosh ha-Shanah, or Head of the Year, eighth tract of the second order).

[47] There are three forms of excommunication—(1) the Nachri, or simple expulsion from the synagogue; (2) expulsion accompanied with Anathema; and (3) the same with Maranatha. The latter is composed of two Syriac words meaning “the Lord will come,” i.e. in judgment.

[48] Hence, it may be added, the exceeding care of the Jews to propitiate all those having authority.

[49] A tenet which in the hands of the Arab has become a very poetical vision. The Muhammadan’s good deeds in this life, his works in fact, will meet him under the form of a beautiful woman, and will lead him over the terrible bridge El Sirat to the Gates of Paradise.

[50] Dr. McCaul (Old Paths, No. 5) remarks upon these and other precautions which are numerous in the Hilchoth Rotsíh: “What an affecting picture does this present of the Jews under heathen domination!” We should rather ask: “What conduct on the part of the Jews must have led to this habitual treatment by those whom they branded with the name of idolaters?”

[51] “It is unlawful to bake or to cook on a holy day, in order to feed Gentiles or dogs; for it is said (Exod. xii. 16), ‘That only may be done for you.’ ‘For you,’ and not for Gentiles; ‘for you,’ and not for dogs” (Hilchoth Yom Tov., c. i. 10). Some Rabbis go so far as to make the Am ha-erits (son of earth, i.e. people of the land like the Seven Tribes), or unlearned Jew, an abomination, a beast, whose nostrils may be split, but who is too worthless to be slain (see Dr. McCaul, The Old Paths, pp. 6, 7).

[52] Nothing is more striking to the Hebraist, or to one who has lived long among the Hebrews, than to hear unlearned Christians perpetually using the word (Sabbath) which can mean only Saturday to signify Sunday.

[53] The Targum of Palestine says (chap. xxv.): “He had worshipped with strange worship, he had shed innocent blood, he had gone into a betrothed damsel, he had denied the life of the world to come (nowhere taught in the Law), and he had despised his birthright.”

[54] The system of the Beth-din (house of judgment) is kept up even in the British Islands. The Chief Rabbi is called Rab or Ab Beth-din, and he nominates his two Dayaním, or associates. Its jurisdiction is civil, social, and religious; but its powers extend only to levying fines and to excommunicating recusants. In Damascus the jurisdiction is much more extended. The building is in the street of the Scribe called by courtesy Rabbi Yakúb Perez, and half the intrigues in the city are here hatched. The well-known Khagal of the Russian Jews is a similar institution, not recognized by the Government, but exerting immense and injurious power over the people.

[55] Our modern versions which use the word “ox” in such places lead to error. The Hebrews did not castrate their cattle, and similarly their mules and their eunuchs were imported from Egypt and elsewhere. Nothing of this is hinted at about the bull in the most popular modern books; so, for instance, the article “Ox” in Smith’s Concise Dictionary of the Bible. And here it may be noted that if a bull killed a slave the owner of the former paid a fine of thirty shekels to the owner (Josephus, Ant. Jud., IV. viii. 36); hence possibly the sum offered to and accepted by Judas as the value of a bought servant.

[56] For the other great centres of learning, see Jerusalem and Tiberias; Sora and Cordova: A Survey of the Religious and Scholastic Learning of the Jews. Designed as an Introduction to the Study of Hebrew Literature. By J. W. Longmans, M.A. (London: Longmans). It is curious to see how neglected has been the Safed School, which is most erroneously included in that of Tiberias.

[57] Most of these remarks are taken from the Introduction to the Traité des Berakhoth (Benedictions) du Talmud de Jérusalem et du Talmud de Babylone, traduit pour la première fois en Français par Moïse Schwab, attaché à la Bibliothèque Nationale (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, mdccclxxi.).

[58] The word clearly shows the immense effect of the Hellenic Conquest. There were two forms of Sanhedrin—the Greater, numbering seventy-one souls; and the Lesser, consisting of twenty-three. Both were composed of the three orders Priests, Levites, and common Israelites. The Greater Council claimed, and would again claim, supreme jurisdiction over the king, the high priest, the prophets, and the people, and “strangulation was the mode of execution for any learned man who rebelled against their words” (Hilchoth Mamrun, i. 2). Anti-Talmudic writers strongly object to this upstart aristocracy, when Moses (Deut. xvii.) ordained a supreme council consisting of the “Priests the Levites” (not the Priests and the Levites), together with the judge, or chief civil governor; the ecclesiastical element remaining in the family of Aaron, whilst the magistracy fell to the lot of Joshua. But when they assert, “It is quite absurd, and if the subject were not so grave it would be ludicrous, to hear the Rabbinists exclaiming that the Law of Moses is unchangeable, when they themselves have changed all its main provisions and made an entirely new religion,” the Jew may fairly retort that the Pauline modifications extending to radical changes had the same effect upon Christianity.

[59] According to the system of Sir William Jones, this name would be written Saffúriyeh, but not, as travellers generally do, Saffúreh or Saffuriyyeh.

[60] The sun has often stood still in history; but how often did the historian understand what the sun standing still really means? As Spinoza remarked, “Not even in their dreams had they ever thought of parhelia”; and one of his editors quotes the French drummer-boy in Switzerland, “Nous sommes ici au bout du monde! Ici on touche le soleil de la main!” In the twelfth century Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela found the grave of Rabenu Hakkadosh (R. Yahúda) near “Suffurieh, the Tsippori of antiquity,” and evidently never heard the legend, “They are buried in the mountain, which also contains numerous other sepulchres.” In his day Tiberias contained only fifty Jews.

[61] See Cérnach David, Editio princeps (Prague, 1592), fol. 43.

[62] Similarly the Mormons “pointedly condemn those who make the contents of the Bible typical, metaphysical, or symbolical, ‘as if God were not honest when He speaks with man, or uses words in any other than their true acceptation,’ or could ‘palter in a double sense.’” This return to Hebrew lines of thought is not a little curious, and it may be remarked that every fresh branch put forth by the tree of “Protestantism,” as it is called, invariably reverts more and more to the old type. Indeed, whenever in these days we hear of a new “religion” having been born into the world, we may determine, à priori, that it is more Jewish than its predecessors. And traces of the same operation may be found amongst the Hindu Sikhs and the Muslim Babees.

[63] Hagadah, from Hagah, to declare or describe, to invent or imagine, is applied to any illustration, historical or fabulous. Halakah, from Halak, to walk, is a rule of conduct, anything prescriptive of the peculiarities of Jewish life.

[64] See the Mishnah, fifth part, tract Edonyoth, i., §§ 5 et seq. This is a fair answer to the host of contradictions and the general charge of inconsistency levelled by anti-Talmud writers against the Oral Law, and it enables the modern Rabbi to make almost any assertion that he pleases concerning disputed points. Thus one will find in the Talmud that Christians should be put to death, the other that they should be treated like brothers. This is certainly very convenient.

[65] It is still a disputed point whether the two Targums (versions or translations of the Pentateuch) on the Pentateuch, attributed to the proselyte Onkelos, or Ankelos, and to the Jew Jonathan bin Uzzul, were written by contemporary students in the Rabbinical Schools of Jerusalem within the half-century before Christ, or were worked out like the Septuagint by the Babylonian Maturgemanin (interpreters) of the fourth century. The later the date the better in order to account for such Græcisms and Latinisms as Ardiphene (Rhodaphne, oleander), Polimarkin ([Greek: Πολεμαρχος: Polemarchos]), Sapuklatoría (Speculators), and Oktaraia (Octariones, præfecti militares). In the Targum of Jerusalem we read “a band of Saracens.”

[66] Vie de Hillel, par M. le Grand Rabbin Trínel (1867).

[67] [The Novellæ or Novel Constitutions were so called because they were posterior in time to the Institutes and other digests of the Roman Emperors, especially Justinian.]

[68] Rabbi Gamaliel the Elder flourished about the end of the first century. Some suppose that he added a nineteenth prayer to the Shamunah Ashara, the “eighteen” composed by Ezra and the men of the Great Congregation, and which is still used by the British and other Jews. Others attribute it to Rabbi Samuel the Lesser, a disciple of Gamaliel, whilst others make it of even more modern date.

[69] The derided myth has been amply vindicated by the Rev. John Mills (The British Jews, p. 409) and by N. M. Schwab (Introduction, p. xxviii). The latter writer would be valuable, if he could only be impartial. Unfortunately he writes with all the animus of a Hebrew (pp. xxxviii and xxxix), and not a few of the prejudices of a Frenchman (p. xxvii). This is the more regrettable, as the reading public will be wholly in his hands and he can make the Talmud say what he pleases.

[70] [It is the [Greek: ζυθος: zythos] or Egyptian beer mentioned by Herodotus, ii. 77. Later the term was extended to the cerevisia and other beers of European nations; hence the obsolete word zythepsary ([Greek: ζυθος: zythos], and [Greek: εψω: epsô], to boil), a brewery.]

[71] Here, however, we can hardly find the Talmud alone guilty. Its anthropopathisms are merely exaggerations of what is found in the books of Moses when the Creator is subject to wrath, sorrow, repentance, jealousy, and other human passions of the baser kind. In fact, it would be difficult to detect in the Rabbinical ordinances anything which is not built upon the Mosaic text; they have greatly added to the Law, which, methinks, is their great sin in the eyes of Christians, and they have in many cases carried it out to absurdity—corruptio optimi fit passima.

[72] This Pope in a.d. 1286 wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury directing him to have a care lest any one read a book from which all evils flow. Pope Pius IV., when authorizing a new edition, expressly stipulated that it should be published without the title of Talmud, which appears to have been a kind of Shibboleth, “Si tamen prodierit sine nomine Talmud, tolerari deberet.” Such was the terror which it inspired in the ecclesiastical mind.

[73] An ad captandum vulgus verdict. It is thus modified by the next sentence: “All the latter Gavním [luminaries of the Jewish Law] agree that Christians are reckoned as our own brethren, and are not included in the term Nakhrím [strangers].”

[74] Dr. Robinson, Biblical Researches in Palestine, iii. 331.

[75] After the second expulsion of the Templars, Sultan Bibars repeopled Safed with a colony from Damascus, and local tradition asserts that of these many were Kurds.

[76] [The Empress of Constantinople.]

[77] The treatment of the Jewish sick, even in these degenerate days, is very scrupulous. When the patient is evidently moribund, not a drop of medicine or even a drink of water must be given to him unless he ask for it himself, lest such act hasten dissolution, and make the giver guilty of having caused the death of a brother Hebrew.

[78] [Sic Burton, but should be 94.]

[79] [The neumes, properly pneumes (Gr. [Greek: πνευμα: pneuma]), i.e. the musical notations prevalent from the eighth to the twelfth century, are supposed by some to represent the ancient Nota Romana, though others hold them to be of Oriental origin.]

[Pg 115]



Obviously such cruel and vindictive teaching as that recounted in the previous chapter must bear fruit in crime and atrocities. The occurrence of such deeds explains much of what appears to have been the mere results of superstition and greed of gain amongst semi-barbarous peoples. From the earliest ages to these modern days, and not in one place, but all the world over, the hatred of the Jew against the non-Jew has been of the fiercest. Those who are so ready to admit and deplore the mighty provocations which roused a spirit of retaliation in the Rabbinical mind should equally make allowance for the natural feelings of the unfortunate Gentiles and heathens when the “People of the Synagogue” had their wicked will. In the fifth century the Hebrew colony, which, flying from Syria and Palestine after the wars of Titus and Hadrian, settled near Yathrib (Medina), was powerful enough to murder the Viceroy of the Tobbaa, or[Pg 116] Himyarite King, and to convert to Judaism, Du-nawás (a.d. 480), one of the last of that dynasty. He acquired the title “Lord of the Fiery Pit,” by burning alive, in a trench filled with combustibles, thousands of the Christians of Nejerán at the instigation of the Jews. In later times the “People of the Synagogue” brought upon themselves a war of extermination by insulting an Arab woman, and after the siege of Kheibar they attempted to poison Muhammad. In a.d. 614 the Hebrews of Galilee, according to Eutychius, joining the Persian army under Chosroes II., caused a great slaughter of the Nazarenes. When the Holy City was captured, they bought at a cheap rate those taken by the Persians, especially from the Greek monastery of Mar Saba, for the sole purpose of butchering them. Even in Abyssinia, when the Falashas, or black proselytes, established a powerful kingdom, this quasi-Jewish race, under their King Gideon and their Queen Judith, was a scourge to all the nations around. These are but a few instances of the many which would fill a volume. It is absurd to suppose with the “liberal” writers of the nineteenth century that whole colonies have been expelled, driven away half naked, from England and France, from Germany, Spain, Portugal, and other Christian kingdoms; that communities were imprisoned in Ghettos, and subjected to tumultuous and wholesale massacres; and that thousands of individual Jews and Jewesses, old men and children, were roasted with[Pg 117] dogs over slow fires, were skinned alive, tortured, dismembered, and slain like savage beasts for the mere frenzy and the ignorance of superstition, for simply diabolical barbarity, and for clipping coin or for claiming more than two shillings per week as interest on a loan of twenty shillings.

We must seek for a solid cause underlying these horrible acts of vengeance; we find ample motive in the fact that the Jew’s hand was ever, like Ishmael’s, against every man but those belonging to the Synagogue. His fierce passions and fiendish cunning, combined with abnormal powers of intellect, with intense vitality, and with a persistency of purpose which the world has rarely seen, and whetted moreover by a keen thirst for blood engendered by defeat and subjection, combined to make him the deadly enemy of all mankind, whilst his unsocial and iniquitous Oral Law contributed to inflame his wild lust of pelf, and to justify the crimes suggested by spite and superstition. Because under the present enlightened Governments of the West the Jews have lost much of their ancient rancour, and no longer perpetrate the atrocities of the Dark Ages, Europe is determined to believe that the race is, and ever has been, incapable of such atrocities. The conclusion is by no means logical. We have seen them even now repeated in the Holy Land, and presently we shall see that they are still not unknown to Western Europe, Asia Minor, and Persia.

[Pg 118]

And what can we expect from a system which teaches men to believe and to act as follows?[80] “A tradition of the Talmud says (Talmud, Book Baba Kama, Chapter Haggozel) if an Israelite and a Gentile come before thee to judgment, if thou canst absolve the Israelite according to the Jewish Law, absolve him, and say, ‘This is our way of judging.’ But if thou canst absolve him by Gentile Law, absolve him, and say, ‘This is your way of judging.’ But if not, then they are to come upon him with cunning frauds. R. Samuel says the error of a Gentile is also lawful. For, behold, Samuel bought a piece of gold for four small coins, and added one more (that he might go away the sooner, and not perceive the fraud). Chahana bought a hundred and twenty casks of wine for the price of a hundred; he said, ‘My trust is in thee.’ So far the Talmud. From these and similar passages Jews infer that they may and ought to deceive Christians and others who are not Jews. Thus also from other passages they infer that they may and ought to kill Christians, of which the following example is found in the book Mechilta: Exod. xiv. 7, And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt. From whom did he take them? If you say from the Egyptians, is it not said already, Exod.[Pg 119] ix. 6, And all the cattle of Egypt died? If you say Pharaoh, then there is a difficulty; for it is said already, ix. 3, Behold, the hand of the Lord shall be upon thy cattle. But if you say they were from the Israelites, it is said already, x. 26, Our cattle shall go with us. From whom then were they? It is plain that they must have been from those who feared the word of the Lord. Hence we learn that those of the servants of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord were a stumbling-block to Israel, and hence R. Simeon ben Jochai says, ‘Slay thou the best amongst the Gentiles, and of the best of serpents bruise the head.’[81] Thus far the Talmud; and by this they mean to say, that as of serpents he especially is to be killed that is the greatest and best of its kind, so Christians are to be dealt with in the same way. For killing Christians and throwing their children into pits, and even for killing them when they can do it secretly, they derive an argument from that which is said in the book Abodah Zarah, Chapter En Maamidin: ‘As to Gentiles and robbers, and those that tend small cattle, they are neither to be helped out of a well nor to be thrown into it. But heretics and informers and apostates are to be thrown in, but not to be helped out.’ The commentary of Rashi says: ‘Heretics mean the priests of idols; informers mean calumniators who betray the wealth of their brethren into the hands of[Pg 120] the Gentiles.’ R. Shesheth says: ‘If there be a step in the pit, let him find an excuse, and say, Lest an evil beast descend upon him.’ Rabba and R. Joseph both say: ‘If there be a stone upon the mouth of the well, he is to cover it, and say, I do it that the beasts may pass over it.’ R. Nachman says: ‘If there be a ladder in the well, he is to take it away, and say, I wish to get down my son from the roof.’ Thus far the Talmud. Thy prudence, O reader, may perceive that the Talmud, which so perniciously teaches them to lie and to kill Christians, is not the law of God, but the figment of the devil.”

We can hardly be surprised, after reading such atrocious doctrines, at what history tells us concerning the Jews, their crimes, and their condemnations. For instance:

In a.d. 419, according to Socrates (Eccles. Hist., Lib. VII., chap, xvi.), some Jews of Inmestar, between Chalcis and Antioch, as a drunken frolic, tied a Christian child[82] upon a cross and mocked it, and that, hurried on in their wickedness, they afterwards scourged it until it died.

In a.d. 560 a Jew was stoned for carrying away and profaning an image of the Saviour. The same happened at Odessa in a.d. 1871, where the[Pg 121] Hebrews were charged with stealing the image of the “miraculous Madonna of Kutperova.”

About a.d. 787 the Jews of Beyrut repeated the offence. The result was the conversion of almost all their number, and the consecration of their synagogue by the bishop.

a.d. 1010. Massacre of the Jews in France.

a.d. 1017. Certain Jews beheaded by order of Pope Benedict at Rome.

a.d. 1135. The Jews crucified a boy at Norwich. According to the general report, they hired a Christian lad aged twelve as a leather-sewer, and converted him into a Paschal offering; they placed a bit in his mouth, and after a thousand outrages they crucified him, and pierced his side in order to mock the Redeemer’s death. The corpse was borne in a sack to be burned outside the town gates; but a surprise caused the murderers to fly, leaving the remains hanging upon a tree.

a.d. 1166. The Jews at Ponthosa crucified a lad aged twelve.

a.d. 1185. For similar outrage upon a girl and others, King Philip Augustus confiscated the goods of the Jews, and banished them from his realms in the April of the following year.

a.d. 1189. The Jews were massacred at London and in other parts of England.

a.d. 1190. The Jews were massacred at York.

a.d. 1250. The Jews of Saragossa nailed a child[Pg 122] named Dominic to the wall in the form of a cross, and then pierced his side with a spear. During the same century those of Toledo also killed a Christian youth. According to the Cronica Serafica (della Vita di S. Francesco d’Assisi, Opera del Padre Damiano Cornejo, 1721, Lib. I., chap, i.), the Jews superstitiously used the blood of Christians in child-birth, and sent it in a dried state to China and other places, where they had synagogues, but where worshippers of Christ[83] are not to be found. Hence the Jews were eventually expelled from Spain and Portugal.

a.d. 1255. “Jappen,” one of the chief Jews of Lincoln, and others of his faith, kidnapped a lad eleven years old (August 27), beat him with rods, cut off his nose and upper lip, broke some of his teeth, and pierced his side. King Henry III. and his Parliament at Reading condemned the murderers to be dragged to death at horses’ heels, and gibbeted their carcases.

[Pg 123]

a.d. 1271. The Jews of Pforzheim murdered a girl seven years old.

a.d. 1287. The Jews of Wesel murdered a boy named Werner.

a.d. 1288. The Jews of Pacherat [?] (Würtzburg) murdered a Christian, and extracted his blood “as it were with a winepress, and which they are said to use as a medicine.” About the same time the Jews of Munich murdered a Christian child.

a.d. 1290. A Jew was burnt in Paris for insulting a consecrated wafer. In the same year, during the reign of Edward I., fifteen to sixteen thousand Jews were banished from England; nor were they allowed to return till the days of Cromwell, the first Liberal (a.d. 1660).

a.d. 1299. Many Jews were put to death for insulting a consecrated wafer at Roettingen of Franconia.

a.d. 1303. The Jews of Thüringen murdered a child, and were slain in numbers.

a.d. 1306. King Philip of France was induced by a multitude of accusations, involving magic, sacrilege, and murder, to expel the Jews from his country, to confiscate all their goods except what was wanted for the journey, and to forbid their return under pain of death—all were arrested on the same day, July 22.

a.d. 1330. The Jews of Gustow in Vandalia [Pomerania] insulted a Host.

[Pg 124]

a.d. 1348-1350. The Jews were accused of poisoning the wells and rivers, and of causing the plague which then devastated Europe. Many were slain and thousands were driven away from Germany, where the cry of “Hep” was first raised. At length the Papal power was compelled to defend their lives by threats of excommunicating their destroyers.

a.d. 1379. The Jews of Belgium insulted a consecrated Host.

a.d. 1399. The same was done by the Jews of Poland.

a.d. 1468. The Jews of Toledo in Spain crucified a Christian boy.

a.d. 1475. The Jews again insulted the Host, and were expelled the territories of the Bishop of Passau.

a.d. 1492-1498. The Jews were expelled from Spain, in consequence of popular clamour, by Isabel the Catholic. Many retired to Portugal, where asylum was granted to them under the conditions, first, that each should pay a certain sum of gold for admission, and, secondly, that if found in Portugal after a certain day, they should either consent to be baptized or be sold for slaves. At the expiration of the appointed time many remained. “The King therefore gave orders to take away all their children under fourteen years of age, to distribute them amongst Christians, to send them to the newly discovered islands, and thus to pluck up Judaism by the roots.” This expul[Pg 125]sion, which has been strongly commented upon by modern historians, is still fresh in the memory of the Jews, and an Eastern Rabbi can hardly conceal the hatred with which even in these days he regards a Spanish official.

a.d. 1495. The Jews of Trent, by means of one of their number, a physician, decoyed to his house, whilst the Christians were at church, it being Maunday Thursday, a boy two years and a half old, by name Simeon, the son of a tanner. Before the Paschal festival commenced, the principal Jews collected in a room near their synagogue. The child, gagged with a kerchief, was extended in the form of a cross, and was held down by his murderers. The blood, pouring from heavy gashes, was collected in a basin, and when death drew near the victim was placed upon his legs by the two men, and the others pierced his body with sharp instruments, all vying in brutality and enjoying the torture. The corpse having been found in the Etsch river, which flows through the city, led to the detection of the crime; the murderers were put to death, the synagogue was razed to the ground, and a church was built over the place where the horrid deed was done. A sculpture was put on the Bridge Tower in Frankfort-on-the-Maine, and a picture of a “Christian Infant murdered by the Jews” was placed in one of the galleries in the Hôtel de Ville. Of late years it has been removed, in deference to the feelings of the[Pg 126] Hebrew community, which, of late years, has formed a large and important section of the commercial population. This murder has been abundantly commented upon. Dr. John Matthias Tiberinus, in Trent at the time, and Jacobus Philippus Bergamensis, of the Order of the Hermits of St. Augustine, who was then living at the neighbouring town of Bergamo, gave accounts of it; whilst an engraving was produced in the Chronicles of John Louis Gottfried, edited by Matthæus Merianus. On the other hand, Pietro Mocenigo, the Doge of Venice, and his Senate asserted: “Credimus certe rumorem ipsum de puero necato commentum esse et artem; ad quem finem, viderint et interpretentur alii.”

a.d. 1518. The Jews ill-treated consecrated Hosts and murdered Christian children in the Electorate of Brandenburg.

a.d. 1669 (September 25). A child was barbarously slaughtered by one Raphael Levi, and the cause was publicly tried at Metz. The Nuremburg Chronicle produces, in the same year, three other cases of kidnapping—one in England and two at Fiesole. Baronio (Raccolta delle Cause Celebri, p. 288, etc.) supplies many similar instances of child stealing and murder.

M. Tustet, a Lazarist priest, used to relate what he had heard when living at Turin from the lady who nearly fell a victim to Jewish superstition, even in the early part of the present century. A[Pg 127] certain Signor Antonio Gervalon, born at Castiglione d’Osta, and settled in business at Turin, happened, when walking with his wife Giulietta Bonnier, to enter the Jewish quarter. This Ghetto used to be closed at night, as in Hamburg and Frankfort. Whilst he was talking business with one of his Hebrew acquaintances, Madame Gervalon left him, and strolled on a short way. Suddenly she was mobbed by a crowd of Jews, who hustled her forwards, and at last forcibly thrust her into a souterrain closed by a trap-door. She was stripped to the waist, and presently visited by two Rabbis, who, after reading their books for about half an hour, retired, saying, Voi dovete morire. The husband, after the conversation ended, followed his wife, whom all the Ghetto folk denied having seen; and thinking that perhaps she had gone home, he returned there to seek her, but in vain. Thence he went to various houses, till a relative said to him in jest, “Have a care! You know how the Jews treat us Christians.” The words struck him. He hurriedly collected a party of policemen, and whilst these searched the Ghetto he went about shouting, “La mia moglie! La mia moglie” (My wife! my wife!). Though half dead with fear, the lady at length screamed a reply, and was saved. The affair was hushed up with money, which made the Jews as powerful at Turin as they are at Aleppo and Damascus; but the tale was long told by the children[Pg 128] of Madame Gervalon. In this section of the nineteenth century the subject has passed into the domain of politics, and is no longer submitted to reason and judgment. The Italian Liberal denies and derides the charges, whilst the Conservatives or Retrogrades are almost ashamed to support them.

a.d. 1811. A Christian woman disappeared in the Jewish quarter of Aleppo.[84]

a.d. 1821. The Jews sacrificed a man at Beyrut.

a.d. 1824. The Jews of Beyrut made away with Fatallah Sayegh, an Aleppine Muhammadan.

a.d. 1829. The Jews of Hamah murdered a Muhammadan girl, and were expelled the city.

a.d. 1834. The Jews of Tripoli were accused of murdering an Aleppine Christian.

a.d. 1838. The Jews of Jerusalem attempted to murder a Muhammadan.

a.d. 1839. A flask of blood passed through the Custom-house of Beyrut.

a.d. 1840. The Jews murdered Padre Tomaso and Ibrahím Amárah at Damascus. In the same year they made away with a Greek boy at Rhodes, a Greek boy disappeared from Corfu, and an attempt was made to murder a Muhammadan.

a.d. 1847. The Jews crucified a Christian boy in Mount Lebanon.

[Pg 129]

a.d. 1853. The Jews of Caiffa murdered the wife of an Algerine Jew.

a.d. 1865. The Jews of Safed put to death a Spanish Jewess.

Do not these things remind us of that “generation of vipers,” certain of the Jews, who banded together and bound themselves by a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul? And was not the Apostle justified in asserting, “They please not God, and are contrary to all men”?

How vain it is, in presence of all these horrors, to quote the testimony of Grotius, who, speaking of the Jews since the Dispersion, says: “Et tamen tanto tempore Judæi, nec ad falsorum deorum cultus defluxerunt, nec de adulteriis accusantur”; and, “Apud Batavos Judæi suspecti talium facinorum non sunt.” Yet these men excommunicated Spinoza and attempted his life because he wrote the truth that was in him. Granting, however, that the Jews of Holland were like the mild and unoffending Karaïtes of the Crimea and Aden, it does not follow that all the widely parted families of the house of Israel deserve an equally favourable verdict. At any rate, sufficient has been advanced in these pages to open the eyes of the student and the ethnographer; it will stand on record “until Elijah.”


[80] The passage is from the Pugio Fidei (Part III., c. xxii., § 22) of the learned Raymund Martin (a.d. 1284), quoted in a pamphlet, of which more presently.

[81] This has passed into an Arabic proverb.

[82] The annals of the world are full of reports concerning children being kidnapped, crowned with thorns, flogged, crucified, and pierced with sharp instruments. Of course the child is chosen because it is more easily mastered than a man.

[83] The Chronicles are right in believing that the Jew hates the Christian more than he does the Muhammadan. “As to those Gentiles, who, like the Ishmaelites, are not idolaters, their wine is unlawful to drink, but is lawful for purpose of profit, as is taught by all the Gaons; but Christians are idolaters, and their wine, even such as has not been used as wine of libation, is unlawful even for purposes of profit” (Hilchoth Maakhaloth Asuroth, c. xi. 7). “Statuimus,” says the Talmud (Order I., Dissert. 4, quoted by Lucio Ferraris), “ut quilibet Judæus ter in die omnem Christianorum gentem ac Deum precetur ut confundat, interimatque ipsam cum regibus et principibus suis; atque hoc maximè faciant sacerdotes Judæorum in synagoga ter quotidie orantes in odium Jesu Nazareni.” This curse is not ordered against Muhammadans.

[84] This skeleton list is continued in order to show chronologically the continuity of tradition concerning atrocities and sacrilege practised by the Jews.

[Pg 131]


[Pg 132]

“A people proscribed by opinion, and doomed by the laws to opprobrium and ignominy; a race which, driven from all liberal professions, has been for ages, and still is, robbed of its right to hold landed property; which, subjected to special and severe regulations, has learned at once to obey and yet to preserve a manner of independence; which, despite the contempt that it inspires and the hate that it awakes and the prejudices wherewith it is received and judged, still resists this contempt, this hatred, and finally all those causes which ought to disunite, loosen, and annihilate the family, the race, the nation;—such a people, I say, deserves the observer’s attention, if only from the fact of its existence.”

Jaubert de Passa.

[Pg 133]


Of general works upon the subject of the Gypsies we have perhaps enough, and more than enough; this objection, however, cannot be urged against specialities, which still are highly desirable in every department of “Chinganology.” I use the latter term in preference to the French Tsiganologie, of which more presently, and the “Romanology,” a term of dubious import, lately introduced into English.

I wish to place in extenso before the public the following conclusions which the study of some years has, it is hoped, justified me in drawing with regard to the relation of the Gypsies and the Jats:

1. The mediæval Gypsies of Europe were the last wave of Aryan emigration that flowed westward during the early fifteenth century; and this wave was possibly preceded by more than one similar exodus.

2. The mediæval Gypsies show family resemblances, physical and moral, ethnological and linguistic, with the modern Jats, a highly important race, which extends from the mouth of the Indus[Pg 134] to the head of the great Valley, thence ramifying over Turkistan and the far North.

3. There are solid reasons for believing the Jats and the Jin-tchi of Tatary to be the modern representatives of the classical Getæ and the Goths of later days.

4. The language of both tribes (Jat and Gypsy) is of Indo-Persian type, the Indian ingredient not being so much decomposed as in the modern varieties of Prakrit. An absolute isolation of speech, especial reasons for secrecy, and the fact of being oral and never written have preserved its purity among the Gypsies; while the Jats, in close contact with alien tongues, have made those secular linguistic changes which are familiar even to English and French.

5. The most ancient name of the race is Chingáneh, a term still used in Persia and Turkey, and necessarily corrupted by the Arabs, who have no ch, to Jingáneh.

6. Concerning the origin of the Gypsy article (o—os, a—as, etc.), which is unknown to both Sanskrit and Prakrit, the suit is still pending. Possibly it is original and peculiar to the dialect; more probably it is an European and especially a Greek innovation. Briefly, until we have grammatical and vocabularian sketches of the Central Asian and the Turkoman-Gypsy tongues, we are not in a position to draw conclusions.

I propose to discuss the Indian affinities of the[Pg 135] Gypsies. I begin with a detailed critique of the various reviews proceeding from the prolific pen of M. Paul Bataillard, who claims the merit, such as it is, of having first identified the Gypsies and the Jats. I end with topographical notes on both tribes throughout their extension from the Indus to Morocco and even to the Brazil.

[Pg 136]

Part I




The following letter to the Academy (March 27, 1875), which opened the discussion between M. Paul Bataillard and its author, speaks for itself[85]:

“In the Academy of February 27, 1875, I had these words:

“‘Professor de Goeje, of Leyden, has printed some interesting Contributions to the History of the Gipsies (sic). He accepts the view propounded by Pott,[86] as early as 1853, that the Gipsies are closely[Pg 137] related to the Indian Jatt (a name which the Arab historians transform into Zott).... Dr. Trumpp[87] has already pointed out the close resemblance between the European Gipsies and the Jatt of the banks of the Indus.’

“I venture to hope that you will permit me to show the part taken by myself in this question.[88] Sindh and the Races that inhabit the Valley of the Indus (London: Allen), my volume written between 1845 and 1849, and published in 1851, thus treats of the peoples of the plains:

“‘The Jat, or as others write the word, Jath, Juth, or Jutt, was, in the time of the Kalhorá dynasty, one of the ruling classes in Sindh. It was probably for this reason that the author of the Tohfat el Kirám (a well-known book of Sindhi Annals) made them of kindred origin with the Belochis, who now repudiate such an idea with disdain. The Jat’s account of his own descent gives to Ukayl, the companion of Muhammad, the high honour of being his progenitor; but what class of Muslim people, however vile, do not claim some equally high origin?

“As Játaki, the dialect peculiar to the people, proves, they (i.e. the Sindh division of this extensive race) must have come from the Panjáb,[Pg 138] and the other districts Ubho or Báládasht, Jhang-Siyál, Multán, and other regions dependent upon the great Country of the Five Rivers. Driven by war or famine from their own lands, they migrated southwards to Sebi (Sibi or Siwi, Upper Sindh) and to the hills around it. They are supposed to have entered Sindh a little before the accession of the Kalhorá Princes, and shortly afterwards to have risen to distinction by their superior courage and personal strength. At present they have lost all that distinguished them, and of their multitude of Jágírdárs, Zemindárs, and Sardárs now not a single descendant possesses anything like wealth or rank. The principal settlements are in the provinces of Kakrálo, Játi, Chediyo, Maniyár, Phuláji, and Johí. [Those of Umarkot speak, it is said, a different dialect from the Indine Jats, and not a few migrating tribes graze their herds on the great Delta.[89]] They are generally agriculturists or breeders of camels, and appear to be a quiet, inoffensive race. Throughout the eastern parts of Central Asia, the name Jat is synonymous with thief and scoundrel.

“‘The Sindhi Jats have many different Kamus or clans, the principal of which are the following: Babbur, Bháti, Jiskáni, Kalaru, Magási, Mir-jat, Parhiyár, Sanjaráni, Siyál, and Solángi.’

“To this text were appended the following notes:

[Pg 139]

“Jatu in the Sindhi dialect means: 1. A camel-driver or breeder. 2. The name of a Beloch clan. Generally in the lower Indus Valley it is written Jatu, and pronounced Dyatu. It has three significations: 1. The name of a tribe, the Jats. 2. A Sindhi, as opposed to a Beloch; it is in this sense an insulting expression, and so the Beloch and Brahins of the hills call the Sindhi language Játhki. 3. A word of insult, a ‘barbarian,’ as in the expression do-dasto Jatu, ‘an utter savage.’

“Lt. Wood’s work shows that the Jats are still found in the Panjáb and all along the banks of the Indus.

“Under the name Jat no less than four races are comprised.

“I continued:

“‘It appears probable from the appearance and other peculiarities of the race that the Jats are connected by consanguinity with that peculiar race the Gypsies. Of 130 words used by the Gypsies in Syria, no less than 104 belong to the Indo-Persian class of language. The rest may be either the remains of the barbarous tongues spoken by the aboriginal mountaineers who inhabited the tract between the Indus and Eastern Persia, or the invention of a subsequent age, when their dispersion among hostile tribes rendered a “thieves’ language” necessary. The numerals are almost all pure Persian. There are two words, “kuri” (a house) and “psih” (a cat), probably corrupted from the Pushtu “kor” and “pishu.” Two other words are Sindhi “mánna” for “máni,” bread, and “húi” for “hú,” he. As might be expected from a tribe inhabiting Syria,[Pg 140] Arabic and Turkish words occasionally occur, but they form no part of the groundwork of the language.’

“It was my fortune to wander far and wide, during four years of staff service, about the Valley of the Indus; and to make personal acquaintance with many, if not all, its wild tribes. I saw much of the Jats, lodged in their huts and tents, and studied the camel under their tuition. They are the best ‘Vets.’ and breeders known to that part of the Indian Empire. My kind friend, now no more, then Colonel, and afterwards General, Walter Scott, of the Bombay Engineers, had a Jat in his service; and the rough old man’s peculiarities afforded us abundant diversion. Thus I was able to publish in 1849 the first known notice of Játaki and its literature. The author of the famous ‘Dabistan’[90] applies the term ‘Jat tongue’ to that in which Nánah Sháh, the Apostle of the Sikhs, composed his Grauth[91] and other works. Throughout the Panjáb Jatki bút (‘Jat tongue’) is synonymous with the Gunwár ki boli or ‘peasants’ jargon’ of Hindustan.

“I wrote the word Játaki with two italics. The first denotes the peculiar Sindhi sound, a blending of j and t; the second is the familiar cerebral of Sanskrit and Prakrit, which survives to a certain[Pg 141] extent in our modern English tongue, though unknown to the Latin and the Teutonic languages. The tribal name is Jatu, with the short terminal vowel which in Sindhi, as in Sanskrit, follows the consonant; its plural, Jatán, ends with a well-marked nasal.

“At that time I divided this rude race of semi-Bedawin into four great tribes; namely:

“‘The Panjábí Jat, who is neither a Hindu nor a Hindi (Muslim). He first appears in Indian history as a nomad, alternately shepherd, robber, and temporary tiller of the ground. Many became Sikhs, and did good service to Nánah Shah’s faith by their zealous opposition to Muhammadan bigotry. As this was their sole occupation for many years, they gradually grew more and more warlike, and at one time they were as fighting a race as any in India. They have been identified by Colonel Sleeman and others with the ancient Getæ and their descendants the Goths.[92]

“‘The Jat or Dyat of the Hazárah country, Jhang-Siyál, Kach (Kutch) Gandáva, and Sindh generally, where they may number two hundred and fifty thousand out of a total population of one million. They are all Muslims, and are supposed to have[Pg 142] emigrated from the north during or shortly after the Kalhorá accession; hence their dialect is commonly called Belochki. In those days the Belochís were very little known to Sindh, whose aristocracy, the Amírs, Jágírdárs, and opulent Zemindárs, was either Sindhi or Jats. About Pesháwur “Jat” is still synonymous with Zemindár or landed proprietor; at times, however, it is used as a term of reproach.

“‘The third is a clan of Belochís, who spell their name with the Arabo-Persian, not the Sindhi j. In the lower Indine Valley they hold the province of Játi, and other parts to the south-east. The head of the tribe is entitled Malik (literally “King”), e.g. Malik Hammál Jat.[93]

“‘The next is a wandering tribe, many of whom are partially settled in Candahár, Herát, Meshhed, and other cities of the Persico-Afghan frontier. They are found in Meckran; and they sometimes travel as far as Maskat, Sindh, and even Central India. They are held to be notorious thieves, occupying a low place in the scale of creation. No good account of this tribe has as yet appeared; and the smallest contributions upon the subject would be right thankfully received.’

“The fifth which must now be added is the Jin-tchi of Central Asia. These people are not, as Mr. Schuyler[94] seems to think, ‘Káfirs from Káfiristan’;[Pg 143] they are apparently true Jats—an idea once advanced by Mr. Andrew Wilson of the Abode of Snow.[95]

“These tribes are looked upon as aborigines, which simply means that their predecessors are unknown.[96]

“Such were the notices collected by me in manuscript some years before 1849. At that time the Orientalists of Europe were almost unanimous in identifying the Gypsies with the Nat’h, a scattered Indian tribe of itinerant tinkers and musicians, the ‘poor players’ of the great Peninsula, utterly ignorant of horse-couping, cattle-breeding, and even poultry-snatching. And the conviction still holds its ground; only lately my erudite correspondent, Dr. J. Burnard Davis, reminded me of it.

“Of course the humble linguistic labours of a perpetual explorer can hardly be familiar to the professionally learned world; but I cherish a hope that you will aid me in resurrecting my buried and forgotten work.”


[85] In this reprint of the original letter the only changes are a few verbal corrections and suppressions of the parts elsewhere enlarged upon.

[86] The famous work Die Zigeuner in Europa und Asien, 2 vols. 8vo (Halle, 1844-5). It was followed by two Nachtrags (which I have not seen). The first contains a Syro-Gypsy vocabulary; and the second, notices of their manners and customs in Turkey and other countries. See Zeitschrift d. Deut. Morgen. Gesell., III., pp. 321-325, of 1849; and Ibid., Vol. VII., p. 393.

[87] Dr. Ernest Trumpp’s Sindhi Grammar. (Trübner, 1872.)

[88] The literati of Europe form a guild into which none but members are admitted. At times their absolute disregard of meum and tuum, especially when they plunder an obscure name, is a fine study of trade morality—or its reverse.

[89] These words were afterwards added to my MS. copy.

[90] The full title is Dabistán-i-Mazáhib, or School of Faiths (not “of Manners”): there is a translation by David Shea and Anthony Troyer for the Oriental Trans. Fund, 3 vols. 8vo (Paris, 1843).

[91] Adi Grauth: the Sacred Book of the Sikhs.

[92] Jornandes, “De Getarum sive Gothorum Origine et rebus Gestis.” The learned Abbate Fortis (Dalmatia, I. 1, § 1) includes among the Slav peoples the Scythians, Getæ or Goths, Slavini (Slovenes), Croats, Avars, and Vandals. Our grandfathers derived the term “Goths” from Gog (and Magog).

[93] The account given by Mr. Hughes of the Jat in Belochistan will be found in a future page (215).

[94] Turkistan. (Sampson Low & Co., 1876.)

[95] Academy, October 14, 1876.

[96] The letter here contains a sketch of Játaki literature in Sindh. I have also suppressed a paragraph noticing their migration and tribal name; both these subjects will be discussed with more detail.

[Pg 144]



The following letter, which bears the author’s signature and the date Paris, May 28, 1875,[97] was the result of my communication to the Academy.[98] As I had objected to my thunder being stolen by Professor Pott and De Goeje, so M. Paul Bataillard charges me with having purloined his artillery:

“The Academy of March 27 last published an interesting letter which only came to my knowledge a few days ago. In this letter Mr. Richard Burton, F.R.G.S., claims the priority in identifying the Gipsies or Tsigans with the Jat of the banks of the Indus, whose name, he adds, is pronounced Dyat. The question has lately been treated at length (25 pages in 8vo, almost entirely consecrated to this subject) by Professor J. de Goeje, of Leyden, who attributes the first idea of this identification[Pg 145] to Mr. Pott in 1853, as is stated in the Academy of February 27, in a short article mentioning this Dutch Contribution to the History of the Gipsies.

“Mr. Burton, who has wandered far and wide in the Valley of the Indus, and has much frequented the Jats, published in 1849 a grammar of the Játaki dialect (41 pages), which contains an interesting classification of this race, reproduced in his letter, and, in 1851, a volume upon Sindh—Sindh and the Races that inhabit the Valley of the Indus—in which he starts the theory of a probable relationship between the Jats and the Gipsies, as proved in the extracts which he commences by giving of this work.

“Allow me to claim a still earlier priority (dating from 1849), and to begin by establishing exactly the share belonging to each.

“Professor Pott, in his great work, Die Zigeuner, Vol. I. (1844), p. 62, had spoken of the tradition mentioned by Ferdoussy, by the Tarikh-Guzydeh, and ‘by another ...’ that is to say, by the Modjmel-al-Tevarykh, according to which Bahram-Gur, King of Persia, had caused ten or twelve thousand musicians, designated in two at least of these three texts under the name of Luri,[99] to come from India. One or two other names, of which it is not necessary[Pg 146] to speak, are added to this one. (See pp. 41, 42 of my memoir, published in 1849, and mentioned by-and-by.)

“Five years later, Professor Pott, coming back to the subject in his article ‘Ueber die Zigeuner,’ published, as a second supplement to his great work, in the Zeitschrift der Deut. Morgenl. Gesellschaft, Vol. III., 1849, said (p. 326):

“Concerning the tradition of which I spoke, Vol. I., p. 62, of the transmigration of Indian musicians into Persia, ordered by Bahram-Gur, and set forth in the Shahnameh, a tradition which is applied perhaps rightly to the Zigeuner, I owe to Fleischer a very interesting notice, and wholly unknown to me hitherto, drawn from Hamza Ispahani, Gottwaldt edition, 1834 (p. 40 of the translation of Gottwaldt), according to which Bahram-Gur, for the pleasure of his subjects, caused twelve thousand musicians, those designated by the name of Zuth, to come from India. They are called Luri in the Shahnameh[100], which is a proof that Hamza did not simply copy this fact. But Fleischer adds what follows relative to the name of Zuth, which I have not yet met with anywhere, and which was a complete enigma to me: ‘The Kamûz says that the Zotth are a race of men of Indian origin, and that the true pronunciation of this word is Djatt, but that the Arabs pronounce it Zotth.’ (See notes 3 and 4 at p. 43 of my memoir of 1849, concerning the rather free translation of this passage of the Kamûz.) In the French and Arabic Dictionary, by Ellious Bocthor, we find: ‘Bohémien, Arabe vagabond, Tchinghiané, qui dit la bonne aventure, vole, etc., is called Zotti at Damascus, plural Zotte.’

[Pg 147]

“Nothing more. It is clear that, in the identification of the Djat of India with the Tsigans, Professor Pott’s share is very small up to the present. The great Indianist of Halle is rich enough in his own learning to be content with what belongs to him, and the respect I entertain for him and his kind feeling towards me form a sure guarantee that he will not be offended at my setting forth my claim.

“I think I may say that it is I (thanks, it is true, to M. Reinaud) who first treated the question. I had published, in 1844, in the Bibliothèque de l’École des Chartes, a rather long memoir upon the Apparition des Bohémiens en Europe (the tirage à part, which is long ago exhausted, has 59 pages octavo). In 1849 I contributed to the same collection a second paper upon the same subject, examining especially Eastern Europe, and establishing for the first time that the Gipsies were in this region at an epoch far anterior to the date (about 1417) of their appearance in the West. I may add, incidentally, that nearly all those who have since spoken of the appearance of the Gipsies in Europe have done little more than draw upon these two memoirs, without always exactly saying what part belonged to me, so that I have often had the annoyance of seeing such or such an author, Francisque Michel more especially, mentioned afterwards in third-hand notices as the original source[Pg 148] of what I had written. Now my second memoir (Nouvelles Recherches sur l’Apparition des Bohémiens en Europe, 48 pp. in the tirage à part, Paris, 1849: Franck, rue de Richelieu, 67) ends with an ‘Additional Note’ of ten very compact pages, the principal object of which is precisely to identify the Gipsies and the Indian Djath.

“In this note, or appendix, I begin by collecting and giving, in French, in order that they may be compared, the accounts that Professor Pott had only pointed out, relating to the ten or twelve thousand musicians that Bahram-Gur, King of Persia (420-440 of our era), had sent for from India, that is to say, the tradition related by Ferdoussy in the Shahnameh (about 1000), by the Modjmel-al-Tevarykh (about 1126), by the Tarikh-Guzydeh (about 1329, for this last I have not been able to give the text), and lastly, by Hamza Ispahani, the Arabian author whom Professor Fleischer had just made known to Professor Pott, and who is the oldest of all, since he belongs to the tenth century, while Professor Pott supposed him to have been posterior to Ferdoussy. It is to be remarked that Hamza mentions the descendants of the twelve thousand musicians as still existing in Persia in his time under the name of Zuth, and that Ferdoussy says the same of the ten thousand Luri, whom he represents as vagabonds and thieves. But the new and important point is the name of Zuth given to them by the Arabo-[Pg 149]Persian author of the tenth century; and it is here, as I remark in my work (p. 42 of the tirage à part), ‘that the real interest commences.’

“I again find this name (p. 44) under the form of Djatt and Djatty in a fifth account of the same matter by the Persian Mirkhond (fifteenth century); and, after having remarked that the same name is given by the Kamûz under the form Zotth as the Arabian equivalent of Djatt, an Indian race, and that, according to Ellious Bocthor, it serves precisely, under the form Zott, to designate the Gipsies at Damascus, I start from thence to gather from the important Mémoire, etc., sur l’Inde, by M. Reinaud, a few data upon the history of the Zath or Djatt of India, and to establish, pp. 45-48, the probable identity of this race and the Gipsies. I repeat that this is precisely the essential object of my ‘Additional Note.’

“I am not an Orientalist, and besides, as I have not failed to mention, this note of ten large pages was written when my memoir was already in the press. But I had the kind assistance of the learned and lamented M. Reinaud, to whose memory I am glad here to render my tribute of gratitude.

“Also, the eminent scholar of Leipzig, the same who had first opened the way for discovering the connexion between the Gipsies and the Djatt, Professor Fleischer, in a general account embracing the scientific publications of three years (the same[Pg 150] Zeitschrift, Vol IV., 1850, p. 452), has not disdained to mention my work in these terms:

“Bataillard, the author, etc., taking up the supplement to Pott, published in our journal, III., pp. 321-335, has, with the aid of Reinaud, shown the great probability of the opinion that the Zigeuner descend from the G’at or G’et, the most ancient inhabitants of the north-west of India; and might not the name Zigeuner, Zingani, Zingari, [Greek: Τζιγγανοι: Tzinganoi], etc., by the intermedium of the form Gitanos, be derived from the name of this people?

“This last supposition of Professor Fleischer’s does not appear to me admissible, for there is no doubt that Gitanos is derived from Egipcianos, as Gipsies is from Egyptians.

“I come at last to Professor Pott’s article ‘Last Contributions towards the Knowledge of the Gipsies and their Language,’ in the same Zeitschrift of 1853 (Vol. VII., pp. 389-399), mentioned in the Academy, quoting Professor de Goeje, as the starting-point for the identification of the Gipsy and the Jat. What do we find there upon this subject? The following lines (p. 393):

“I am indebted to the obliging friendship of Professor Fleischer, of Leipzig (see our Zeitschrift, III., p. 326), for an important passage upon the Zuth of Hamza Ispahani, whose Annals are anterior to the Shahnameh, as M. Bataillard demonstrates in his Nouvelles Recherches, p. 42. For the origin of the Gipsies we ought to consider very attentively these Zotth, who, according to what Rödiger communicates to me, are also confounded with the Zengi[Pg 151] (called also Aethiopes, and whose name is even sometimes employed for Zingari: see my Zigeuner, i., p. 45). In fact, the Zuth appear to be the same as the Jats, or, according to the Turkish Kamûz, Tchatt, concerning whom we find in Elliot, Biogr. Index, i. 270-27 (sic) (and especially, Ibid. in Masson, Journey to Kelat, pp. 351-353), an interesting article. See, moreover, Reinaud, Mém. sur l’Inde, 1849, p. 273, note 3 upon the Dschats, which may also be compared with the Proverb. Arab. of Freytag, Vol. II., p. 580 (communicated also by Fleischer, to which I must add the further statement of Bataillard). Above all, it would be very important for us to have some details concerning their language.

“Thus the learned professor of Halle here contents himself with the fresh mention of the passage in Hamza, for which he was indebted to Fleischer, and with pointing out some fresh sources to be consulted for the Zotth, Jats, etc., which had been made known to him by the same savant, and refers besides to my ‘further statements (weitere Auseinandersetzung)’; and, as he afterwards devotes a long page to the analysis of the principal part of my Nouvelles Recherches, which he had mentioned at full length (pp. 389-390), and which he quotes again in several other places, one would think that he had done enough.

“This mention has none the less escaped, according to all appearances, Professor de Goeje, of Leyden, who nevertheless was acquainted with this passage of Pott (since he mentions it, p. 16, so as to induce[Pg 152] the belief that the learned professor of Halle was the first to establish a connexion between the Zott or Djatt and the Tsigans), and who quotes in several places my long articles in the Revue Critique on ‘Les derniers travaux relatifs aux Bohémiens dans l’Europe Orientale’ (of which the tirage à part forms an octavo volume of 80 pages, 1872), but who says not a word of my work of 1849. This is an omission such as the most conscientious savants sometimes make; and I do not intend to address a reproach to the learned professor of Leyden, whose work must besides have all the superiority belonging to a deep study made twenty-five years later by a most competent Orientalist. But since the question of priority upon this subject has been raised in your paper, you will, I think, perceive, in perusing what I wrote in 1849, which I send you with this letter, that I have a right not to be completely forgotten, especially when it concerns an interesting point in the history of the Gipsies upon which I have hitherto published only some fragmentary works, but to the study of which I have devoted so many years.

“My letter is already long: allow me, nevertheless, to add yet a few more words. Although I have in my possession the work of Professor de Goeje (the author has had the kindness to send it to me), I cannot say that I am acquainted with it, because I cannot read Dutch, and have not yet found an opportunity of having it translated, which I doubly regret[Pg 153] under the present circumstances. I think, however, that I may say that the point treated by the professor of Leyden, and twenty-five years ago by myself, although it be already sufficiently complex, is only one side of the very much more complicated question of the origin of the Gipsies, considered in all its bearings. I hope to be able to show that the historical documents of Eastern Europe, of Western Asia, and of Egypt itself furnish very important data, hitherto very insufficiently considered, upon the question. I think I have also the means of giving an explanation of the word tsigan, and of the other names approaching to it, more certain and more interesting than those proposed by Professor de Goeje and Mr. Burton.

“It is not the less interesting to examine any point of the very complex question of the origin of the Gipsies, and especially one so important as this appears to be of their connexion with the Jats or Djatt. But this point itself has, so to speak, several faces. There is the part belonging to erudition in the strict sense, and I think that Professor de Goeje has treated it very ably; but there is the ethnological, anthropological, and even the linguistic part of the subject, which does not appear to me to be very far advanced up to the present time. It is this part that Mr. Burton has handled; and as he has lived in the midst of the Jats, he was in some respects in the best condition for throwing[Pg 154] great light upon it; but, on the one hand, he ought perhaps to have been better acquainted with the Gipsies, and, on the other, it does not appear that the connexion between the Gipsies and the Jats has occupied him much. He has perceived a probable relation between these two tribes of men, and he has expressed it in half a page; but this is not sufficient.[101] No doubt in occupying himself specially with the Jats, in giving in 1849 a grammar of their language (of which I cannot appreciate the value, but which did not prevent Professor Pott, in 1853, from saying that we were wanting in information respecting this idiom),[102] in collecting some very summary data concerning their division into four tribes, and upon their history and manners, he has furnished some materials, but materials quite insufficient,[103] for a comparison, which is still unmade, between this race and the Gipsies. He tells us, for example, that the appearance and other peculiarities of this race authorize as probable the supposition of a relationship between it and the Gipsies. But he does not give us even the smallest information respecting the type (appearance) of the Jats; and[Pg 155] the other ‘peculiarities’ which he does not explain, and which we are obliged to seek in scattered traits, furnish such fugitive comparisons that one can conclude nothing from them. In reality nearly every tribe in India (not to speak of certain tribes in other countries) will furnish, when compared with the Gipsies, quite as many, if not more, points of resemblance. Indeed this is, more or less, the defect of nearly all the comparisons which have been made between the Gipsies and such or such populations of India; the authors of these comparisons are not sufficiently acquainted with the Gipsies, and their study of the resemblances is not sufficiently specific.

“The Jats must belong, I suppose so at least, to the Hamite (Chamite), and more particularly to the Kuschite stratum of the Hindoo populations,[104] and for my part I do not doubt that the Gipsies, although their idiom is connected with the Aryan languages of India, belong to this same branch of the human species.—I remark, by the way, in the division made by Mr. Burton of the Jats into four tribes, that one of the districts inhabited by the second is called ‘Kach (Kutch).’[105]—But this branch is widely spread in Asia and in Africa. It would be necessary, in the Kuschite family, to remark[Pg 156] the particular traits which distinguish, on the one hand, the Jats, on the other, the Gipsies, in all the very complex affinities allowed by ethnography, and start thence to compare them. This is what remains to be done in order to throw light upon this part of one side of the question of Gipsy origin. It is useless to say that, in following out more particularly this comparison between the Gipsies and the Jats, the other points of comparison that may be furnished by other tribes, related or not to the Jats, such as that of the Tchangar, for example, pointed out by Dr. Trumpp in the Panjab (Mittheil. der Anthrop. Gesellschaft in Wien, T. II., 1872, p. 294, quoted by Miklosich in his third memoir on the Zigeuner, 1873, p. 2), and several others, which it would be too long to mention, must not be neglected. But all this can only be well done in India, and by a person who has specially studied the Gipsies of Europe, of Eastern Europe especially, and, if possible, those of Western Asia and even of Egypt. Unfortunately these conditions are very difficult to find.

“(Signed) Paul Bataillard.”


[97] [This letter appeared in the Academy, June 5, 1875.]

[98] The notes appended to this letter are by me.

[99] It has still to be proved of what tribe these Luri are: all that we can say is that they are the natives of modern Lúristán (Elymaïs).

[100] A valuable authority, but still a poem.

[101] The italics are mine. What does the author know about my acquaintance with the Gypsies, especially the Burton Gypsies? The “half a page” will be answered in another place.

[102] This means simply that Professor Pott never saw my paper printed at Bombay.

[103] Evidently a premature statement: the author knew only my communication to the Academy (Chapter I.).

[104] Of this stupendous Kushite theory I have something to say in a future page. (194)

[105] Proh pudor! I said Kach (Kutch) Gandáva; and here it is confounded with Kach (Cutch) near Gujrát (Guzerát).

[Pg 157]



§ 1. Preliminaries

M. Paul Bataillard—ominous name!—who has thus offered me battle in the Academy, is apparently an indefatigable Tsiganologue,[106] to use his own compound; and he seems to have been studying Chinganology since 1841. Of bookmaking on the Gypsy theme there[Pg 158] is no apparent end; even the mighty “Magician of the North” proposed, we are told, adding his item to the heap. The reading public, indeed, seems to hold these Hamaxóbioi an ever virgin subject; and since the days of “Gypsy Borrow’s” Translation of St. Luke (1838),[107] The Zincali, The Bible in Spain (1841), and other popular works, it has ever lent an ear to the charmer, charm he never so unwisely. A modern author was not far wrong when he stated: “A great deal of what is called genius has been expended upon the Gypsies, but wonderfully little common sense.”[108]

And the subject has its peculiar charms. These “outlandish persons calling themselves Egyptians or Gypsies”; these cosmopolites equally at home in the snows of Siberia and in the swamps of Sennaar; these Ishmaelites still dwelling in the presence of their brethren, at once on the outskirts and in the[Pg 159] very centres of civilized life; this horde of barbarians scattered over the wide world, among us but not of us; these nomads of a progressive age isolated by peculiarities of physique, language, and social habits, of absolute materialism, and of a single rule of conduct, “Self-will,” all distinctly pointing to a common origin; this phenomenon of the glorious epoch which opened a new thoroughfare to the “East Indies,” and which discovered the other half of the globe, is still to many, nay, to most men, an inexplicable ethnic mystery. Englanders mostly take the narrow nursery view of the “Black Man”; at the highest they treat him picturesquely in connexion with creels and cuddies, hammer and tongs, the tin-kettle and the katúna or tilt-tent. Continental writers cast, as usual, a wider and a more comprehensive glance. M. Perier, with French “nattiness,” thus resumes the main points of interest in the singular strangers: “Une race extraordinaire, forte, belle, cosmopolite, errante, et cependant (?) pure, curieuse par conséquent, à tant de titres.” The Rumanians have deemed the theme worthy of poetry; witness the heroic-comic-satyric “Tsiganida,” or Gypsy-Camp, of Leonaki Diancu.[109]

The “wondrous tale” of the old Gypsy gude-wife concerning the “Things of Egypt” is more won[Pg 160]derful, observe, than aught told of Jewry. Certain of the learned credulous, as we read in the Evidences of Christianity and other such works, essentially one-sided, point to the dispersion and the cohesion of the self-styled “Chosen People” as a manner of miracle, a standing witness to certain marvellous events in its past annals. They ignore or forget the higher miracle of the “tinklers.” Whilst the scattering abroad of the Israelites arose naturally from the same causes which in the present day preserve their union, the powerful principle of self-interest and wealth-seeking, the deeply rooted prejudices, social and religious, fostered by a theocratic faith and by a special and exclusive revelation, the lively tradition of past glories and the promises of future grandeur confirmed by the conviction of being a people holy and set apart, the barbarous Romá[110] are held together only by the ties of speech[111] and consanguinity, and by the merest outlines of a faith, such a creed as caste, or rather the outcast, requires. Still the coherence is continuous[Pg 161] and complete; still, like the rod of Moses, this ethnological marvel out-miracles the other, and every other, miracle.

Hardly less peculiar is the historical relation of the Jew and the Gypsy. They have many points in common. Both have had their exodus, and are dispersed over the world. Both have peculiarities of countenance which distinguish them from the “Gentiles,” whom they hate, the Goyím and the Busne. Both have their own languages and preserve their racial names.[112] Similarity of conditions, however, which should breed sympathy, as usual amongst men has borne only hatred. But the Jew was wealthy, like his cousin the Morisco. Hence the horrible persecution of the Israelites in Spain (a.d. 1348-98), when a prevailing pest was attributed to their poisoning the water, and which endured till the Hussites drew down upon themselves the earthly “anger of Heaven.” During those dreadful years many of the Hebrews fled to the mountains, the Alpujarras and the Sierras—Morena and de Toledo—and to the wild banks of the Upper Ebro, the Guadiana, and the Tagus. Meanwhile the Gypsies suffered under the conviction that they were Jews[Pg 162] who, denying their forefathers, represented themselves to be of Egyptian blood. Presently, when the revenues of the Catholic kings, Henry III. and John II., amounting to 26,550,000 reals (dollars) reduced to our present value, fell under Henry IV. to 3,540,000, the plethoric money-bags of the Israelites led to the establishment of Holy Office and its inquisitorial tribunal (January, 1481). Finally, as if persecution and death were not sufficient, a wholesale expulsion took place in March, 1492. These horrors are still, after the lapse of ages, fresh in the Jewish mind. I have seen at Jerusalem a Khákhám (scribe) so moved by the presence of a Spanish official, that the latter asked me in astonishment how he had managed to offend his host.

But what could the Santa Hermandad alias La Bruja (the witch) find to plunder and pillage in the tent of the Rom? During three centuries of loose wild life, often stained by ferocious crime, and made bestial by the Draconian laws of mediæval Christianity, the Gypsies had their seasons of banishment, torture, and execution; but their poverty and isolation saved them from the horrors of a deliberate and official persecution. Mas pobre que cuerpo de Gitano (Nothing poorer than a Gypsy’s body) is still a proverb in Spain, where men also say, Tan ruin es el conde como los Gitanos. All these barbarities ended in Europe with the close of the eighteenth century, where the new Religion of[Pg 163] Humanity had been preached by the encyclopedists whose major prophets were Voltaire and Rousseau, Diderot and D’Alembert.

No Disraeli has hitherto arisen to vindicate the nobility of these “masterful beggars”; and to chronicle their triumphs in court and camp, in arts and arms; to trace them in the genealogies of titled houses, or to strip off the disguises assumed during the intolerant times when the Jew was compelled to swear himself Gentile and the Muslim a Christian. Yet the Gypsies have had their great men, whilst their pure blood has leavened much dull clay and given fresh life to many an effete noble vein. Witness the “King Zindl” or “Zindelo”; the Dukes Michael and Andrew; Counts Ion (Juan) and Panuel (Manuel) of Little Egypt; the Waywodes (Vaivodes) of Dacia; the noble cavalier Pedro, and the chief, Tomas Pulgar, who in a.d. 1496 aided Bishop Sigismund to beat off the Turk invader. Witness, again, the Hungarian Hunyadis, the Russian Tolstoys, and the Scotch Melvilles, not to speak of the Cassilis and the Contis under Louis XIV. Certain Gypsies became soldiers of renown; and John Bunyan, one of the immortals of the earth, is shrewdly suspected of Gypsy descent. Borrow mentions an archbishop and “four dignified ecclesiastics”; while some of the most learned and famed of the priesthood in Spain have been, according to a Gypsy, of the Gypsies, or at least of Gypsy blood.

[Pg 164]

Such is the Gypsy summed up in a few lines.

These pages have no intention, I repeat, of treating the subject of the Romá generally. My humbler task is confined to showing the affinities between the Gypsies and the great Jat tribe, or rather nation, which extends from the mouths of the Indus to the Steppes of Central Asia. And my first objection must be to a question of precedence with M. Paul Bataillard.

The Tsiganologue claims, as has been seen, “a still earlier priority” in the identification of Gypsy and Jat; and he proposes to “establish exactly the share belonging to each of us.” This is the normal process of the cabinet savant, who is ever appearing, like the deus ex machinâ, to snatch from the explorer’s hand the meed of originality. The former borrows from his books a dozen different theories; and when one happens to be proved true by the labours of the man of action, he straightway sets himself up as the “theoretical discoverer” of the sources of the Nile, or of any other matter which engages popular attention. But in the present case I deny that my rival has any claim whatever. My personal acquaintance with the Jats began in 1845, and my Grammar and Vocabulary were sent to the Royal Asiatic Society in 1848 before my departure from India. On the other hand, M. Paul Bataillard, I understand, knew nothing of the Indine Jats when he wrote his first paper De l’apparition, etc., in 1844.[Pg 165] He honestly owns that he is no Orientalist; and that he required the assistance of the late M. Reinaud, who was a scholar, to identify the Zuth of Hamza Ispahani (tenth century), the Luri musicians of the Shahnameh (eleventh century), and the Zoth or Zutt of the Kamûz dictionary (fourteenth century) with the Zatt or Dyatt of India. This was in 1849. His exposé étendu was accepted by Professor Pott in the same year, and appeared in the Nachtrag before mentioned, which completed the grand travail—Die Zigeuner. Such was the extent of my claimant’s discovery. He had even to learn from Professor Fleischer, of Leipzig, that “the Zigeuner descend from the G’at or G’et, the most ancient inhabitants of North-Western India,”[113] a second-hand opinion, derived from “Gypsy Borrow,” Colonel Sleeman, and other Englishmen. I need hardly say that Professor Pott, the distinguished member of that heroic band which founded comparative philology, knew nothing practically or personally about either the Gypsies or the Jats. And it is evident that Professor de Goeje is in outer darkness when he speaks of “the view propounded by Pott as early as 1853.”

At that time, and indeed until I wrote to the Academy in 1875, M. Paul Bataillard evidently ignored “M. Burton”; and no blame be to him for not knowing a paper published by a colonial society a quarter of a century ago. But he also ignored[Pg 166] far more important facts. He applies the term petite population Djatte to the great scattered nation called Jat. He was of course not aware that this people preserve in the Indine Delta, the “Salt Country” of the Sindhis, the purity of its tongue, which, farther north, is corrupted by an admixture of Sindhi, Belochki, and Panjabi. Nor could he be alive to the fact that many points of similarity, anthropological and linguistic, connect the Gypsy and the Jat. There are men who are personally averse to new things, and the easy alternative is to depreciate their value. “He,” I am assured by my rival claimant, “has perceived a probable relation between these two tribes of men, and he has expressed it in half a page; but this is not sufficient.”

Such an assertion, however, is more than sufficient for estimating and appreciating the Bataillard system of treating a literary question. For “half a page” read a dozen pages,[114] which might easily have been extended to many a dozen. But I had hoped that the statement of a traveller who had met the Gypsies at Oxford (Bagley Wood), in England, and on the Continent, and the knowledge of their racial characteristics, general amongst educated Englishmen, justified a conciseness imperiously demanded whilst treating in one volume the geography, history, and[Pg 167] ethnology of a country nearly equalling England in length. Again, when M. Bataillard assures his readers that I have “not given even the smallest information respecting the type (appearance) of the Jats,” he once more makes it evident that he should have read me before pretending to write about me. I will quote my description in full,[115] so that the public may judge between him and me:

“We are now in the provinces inhabited by the Jats. Your [i.e. Mr. John Bull’s] eye is scarcely grown critical enough in this short time to see the tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee-like difference between their personal appearance and that of their kinsmen the Scindians; nor can I expect you as yet to distinguish a Jat wandh (village) from a Scinde goth (village). You are certain to take some interest in a race which appears to be the progenitor of the old witch in a red cloak, whose hand, in return for the cunning nonsense to which her tongue gave birth, you once crossed with silver; and of the wiry young light-weight, whose game and sharp hitting you have, in happier days, more than once condescended to admire.

“Our authors[116] probably err when they suppose the Jat to be the original Hindu of Scinde converted to Islam. Native historians and their own[Pg 168] traditions concur in assigning to them a strange origin; their language, to this day, a corrupt dialect of that spoken throughout the Indine provinces of the Panjab, gives support and real value to the otherwise doubtful testimony.[117] It is probable that, compelled to emigrate from their own lands by one of the two main causes that bring about such movements in the East, war or famine, the Jats of Scinde travelled southward about the beginning of the eighteenth century of our era.

“Under the quasi-ecclesiastical Kalhorá dynasty, when Scindians composed the aristocracy as well as the commonalty of the country, the Jats, in consequence of their superior strength, their courage,[Pg 169] and their clannish coalescence, speedily rose to high distinction. The chiefs of tribes became nobles, officials, and ministers at court; they provided for their families by obtaining grants of ground, feoffs incidental to certain military services, and for their followers by settling them as tenants on their broad lands. But the prosperity of the race did not last long. They fell from their high estate when the Belochis, better men than they, entered the country, and began to appropriate it for themselves; by degrees, slow yet sure, they lost all claims to rank, wealth, and office. They are now found scattered throughout Scinde, generally preferring the south-eastern provinces, where they earn a scanty subsistence by agriculture; or they roam over the barren plains feeding their flocks upon the several oases; or they occupy themselves in breeding, tending, training, and physicking the camel. With the latter craft their name has become identified, a Jat and a sarwan (camel-man) sounding synonymous in Scindian ears.

“The Jats in appearance are a swarthy and uncomely race, dirty in the extreme, long, gaunt, bony, and rarely, if ever, in good condition. Their beards are thin, and there is a curious (i.e. Gypsy-like) expression in their eyes.[118] They dress like[Pg 170] Scindians, preferring blue to white clothes; but they are taller, larger, and more un-Indian in appearance. Some few, but very few, of their women are, in early youth, remarkable for soft and regular features; this charm, however, soon yields to the complicated ugliness brought on by exposure to the sun, by scanty living, and by the labour of baggage-cattle. In Scinde the Jats of both sexes are possessed of the virtues especially belonging to the oppressed and inoffensive Eastern cultivation; they are necessarily frugal and laborious, peaceful, and remarkable for morality in the limited sense of aversion to intrigue with members of a strange Kaum.[119] I say in Scinde; this is by no means the reputation of the race in the other parts of Central Asia, where they have extended (or whence possibly they came).[120] The term ‘Jat’ is popularly applied to a low and servile creature, or to an impudent villain; and despite of the Tohfat el Kiram,[121] a Beloch would consider himself mortally affronted were you to confound his origin with the caste which his ancestors deposed,[Pg 171] and which he despises for having allowed itself to be degraded. The Brahins, Afghans, and Persians all have a bad word to say of them.”

Thus far M. Paul Bataillard has shown himself only the carpet-slippered littérateur de cabinet, who laboriously borrows from others, and who evidently expects his second-hand labours to faire époque.

But my rival claimant, let me hasten to own, has solid merits. His theory that Gypsy emigrations are of ancient date, and probably of high antiquity, deserves consideration. His later notices of the Jats correct the vulgar error which made Taymur the Tatar cause the first exodus of our “sorners.” He notes the especial hatred, possibly racial, nourished by these Gentile vagrants against the other scattered nation, the Jews. Other minor but still interesting matters of which he treats are the history of the Gypsies especially with respect to their slavery and serfdom—Crown captives, not chattels personal; their periodical wanderings and visitings; their vestiges of faith; their vernacular and humble literature; their private and tribal names suggesting those of the modern Israelitic Synagogue; and their supplying the dancing-girls of the nearer East, while in the lupanars of Europe a Gypsy girl is unknown.

I now propose to run as rapidly as the subject permits through M. Paul Bataillard’s four papers seriatim. The critique will not only notice[Pg 172] novelties, but will also attempt to correct what to a practical man appears to want correction in connexion with the Gypsies.

§ 2. “Derniers Travaux, etc.

This paper treats chiefly of South-Eastern Europe, which has been estimated to contain at least six hundred thousand of the Romá—a number, by-the-bye, wholly inadequate. The author’s self-imposed limits would be the western Slav frontier, a meridian drawn from the southern bend of the Baltic to the Adriatic head. Topographically disposed, upon a line trending from east to west, the review deals in its progress with writers mostly modern; and it forms an excerptive rather than an exhaustive or even a summary bibliography.

The first of the two component parts travels with the authorities who treat of Russia, Poland and Lithuania, Germany, Bohemia, Hungary, Transylvania, the Banat, the Rumanian Principalities, and Turkey, or rather Constantinople. The lands about the Balkan Range, so unknown not many years ago and now so much talked of, are justly considered a second Gypsy patria, the “old home” being India. The review is accompanied and followed by side-glances at those who treat of Finland and Norway, of Persia and Basqueland, of Scotland and Holland, of Sicily and Italy, which once owned an exceptional castrum Giptiæ.[Pg 173] This section ends with linguistic and ethnographic remarks borrowed from many sources and specifying a considerable number of requisites.

In the second part the critic reviews M. Alexandre G. Paspati, D.M., a famous name in Gypsydom. This learned Greek physician—one of the few children, by-the-bye, who escaped the “gentle and gallant” Turk in the foul Chios massacre of 1822—was educated in America, and is as highly distinguished for his Indian and Byzantine as for his Gypsy studies. The Étude, etc., of 1870, which continued and completed his elaborate memoirs (1857-1862), is the work of a scholar who knew the Romá personally, not of a mere littérateur. The book teemed with novelties. For instance, it suggested that the article (o or u; í and e), as unknown to the Asiatic Gypsy (?) as to the Sanskrit and the Prakrit, had been borrowed by his European congener from the Greek [Greek: ὁ: ho] and [Greek: ἡ: hê], thus suggesting long residence in Hellas and familiarity with its people. Might it not, however, have been a simple development of íhá and uha, the demonstrative pronouns in Játaki—this and that becoming the? But as all Germanic, neo-Latinic, and Slav tongues have either produced or borrowed an article, the same may have been the case with the Gypsy, which comes from the same root.

M. Paspati satisfactorily proved that the wandering tribes of the Romá, e.g. the wild Zapáris or Dyáparis[Pg 174] (Szapary?),[122] have preserved in Rumelia the langue mère of their ancients, whereas the “domigence,” the sedentary dwellers in cities and towns, have “falsified” the tongue. The same is said by the Bedawin concerning the “Jumpers of Walls,” the settled Arabs. This part of the subject leads to notices of Gypsy tales and legends, in which, by the way, Gypsies rarely figure, and to other productions of la pauvre Muse tsigane.

After some discursive matter, our critic passes from M. Paspati to M. Bartalus, who has quoted from certain very rare tracts (La Véritable origine, etc., a.d. 1798 and 1800) on the rise of the Gypsy nation. The Bohémiens, it appears, are descendants of Cham or Ham, “which is admissible”; and, like their brethren, they were damned by Noah. But, on the destruction of the Plain cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, Adama and Saboim—Segor being honourably excluded—Zoar and its inhabitants were saved because they harboured one Lot. The lands, however, were assigned to this “patriarch”; and the Hamites, being dispersed, became Gypsies. Once more that myth of Noah!—for how much false anthropology is it not responsible? Again, we do not fail to meet another old friend. The wicked king of Egypt appears[Pg 175] in a famous “Pharaoh Song,” whilst in Iceland he gave his name to a cavalry of seals. The oath formula of the Hungarian Gypsies prescribed by the courts was: “As King Pharaoh was engulfed in the Red Sea, so may I be accursed and swallowed up by the deepest abyss if I do not speak the truth! May no theft, no traffic, nor any other business prosper with me! May my horse turn into an ass at the next stroke of his hoof, and may I end my days on the scaffold by the hands of the hangman!”[123]

The critic then passes to a second and a remarkable characteristic of the Gypsy race, the musical, which is now becoming known throughout Europe. At the Paris Exposition of 1878 the “nightingales of Koursk,” a troop of forty Romá from Moscow, followed the Hungarian Cziganes, and were equally admired. Even the celebrated Catalani appreciated the Chingáneh girl of Moscow, “who performed with such originality and true expression the characteristic melodies of the tribe”; and threw over her shoulders a papal gift in the shape of a rich Cashmere shawl. Most Englishmen now know that Mr. Bunn’s “Bohemian Girl,” thus unhappily translated from La Bohémienne of St. George, was a Romni girl. The far-famed Abbé Liszt[124] attributed to these “tinklers” the chief rôle in treating the[Pg 176] musical épopée; but this opinion of the great master is opposed by the artistic M. Bartalus. I, however, incline to Liszt’s view. Let me note that the popular Romani word for musician, Lautar (plural Lautari), may either be the Persian Lútí,[125] or more probably a deformed offspring of the Arabic El `Aúd[126], which gave rise to our “lute.” Our critic holds that the Gypsy’s music, like his tales and poetry, is his own; whilst the matter of the songs and ballads is borrowed from Hungarians, Rumans, and even the unimaginative Turk: he also points out that many of the legends are cosmopolitan. When the Catalan Gypsy, met by the author in 1869 at St. Germain, told him that the état (Dharma or religious duty) of the Romni-chel, the “sons of women” (i.e. their mothers), is to cheat their neighbours; that they learned this whole duty of man from St. Peter, who as our Lord’s servant habitually tricked and defrauded his Master; that le dieu Jesus, who established all human conditions on the creation day, had taught them, by example as well as precept, to beg and to vagabond naked-footed; that his tribe were veritable Christians “who knew only God and the Blessed Virgin”; and that all these things were written in the “Book of the Wanderings of our Lord,”—we recognize the old, old tale. The ancient Rom, like a host of other facetious barbarians, was solemnly[Pg 177] hoaxing a simple student, a credulous “civilizee.” Still the joke has its ethnological value; it shows that the pseudo-Christian saints of the Gypsy Evangel are thieves and “sorners.” Highly characteristic also is the address to the Gypsy deity: “Good, happy God of gold!” On the other hand, such laical legends of the Apostles are current even amongst Christian peoples, from whom they may have been kidnapped by the Romá. Witness the French peasant’s tale of Jesus and St. Peter, the horseshoe and the cherries, which has for moral the market value of thrift.

The supplementary article analyzes the scholarly work of M. Franz Miklosich.[127] This erudite Slavist whose only reproach is that he finds Slavism in every place, distributes the Gypsies into twelve linguistic groups, to which he assigns an inadequate total of six hundred thousand head. Amongst the highly conservative Romá of Northern Russia he detects, besides Russian and Polish, Ruman and Magyar words, expressions borrowed from the neo-Greek of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. As these Hellenisms are also adopted by the Spanish Gypsies, the natural deduction is that Greece generally formed an older home long inhabited by the wanderers, who thence passed on viâ Poland to Russia.[Pg 178] But this theory, if proved to be fact, would not invalidate the general belief that some Gypsy tribes migrated through Egypt and Morocco into Spain without crossing the Pyrenees. The Romá, being “sturdy vagabonds,” rather than true nomads, would borrow from one another during their frequent and regular meetings the terms wanting to their scanty and barbarous speech. It appears rich enough in material and sensuous expression, and the same is notably the case with the wandering Arab and the Turkoman. M. Paspati[128] notices that “the [Rumelian] wanderer has more than forty words for his tent and the implements of his trade.” A “Thieves’ Latin” would not be required by these bilinguals; but for the purposes of concealment and villainy they would readily adopt strange vocables. Thus in the Scottish Lowlands they make their English speech unintelligible by French and Gaelic, Welsh and Irish insertions. As will appear, they have invented in Egypt and Spain, and I believe there only, a regular argot. Such irregularities prevent our attributing much importance to the general remark that the Gypsy dialect does not return; i.e. that the Polish Romá do not use Russian terms, nor the Turkish Romá Magyar words.

Finally, M. Miklosich puts to flight the “Tamerlane tenet” of popular belief which would place the last Gypsy exodus after a.d. 1399. He adduces[Pg 179] documentary evidence, the well-known donation instruments of a.m. 6894 (= a.d. 1386-87) issued by the Kings of Wallachia; noting that during the fifteenth century, and even between 1832 and 1836, the Principalities, which have still preserved the Jewish disabilities, held the Gypsies to be a Slav race.

The Derniers Travaux has the merit of bringing prominently forward the “hypothesis of Hasse,” advanced in 1803 and presently forgotten. It would explain the purity of the Gypsy tongue by the fact of these tinklers being settled in Europe ab antiquo. It has often been remarked that the farther we go eastward, and the nearer we approach the cradle of the race, Sindh or Western India, the more completely the language changes and degrades. This is to be expected. The Jats living in close contact with other dialects would necessarily modify their own after the fashion of their neighbours; such is the rule of the world. The Romá have only two ties: one is of blood, the love of “kith, kin, and consequence”; the other is of language which serves to conceal his speech. During the dispersion of centuries the Gypsies, surrounded by alien and hostile races, would religiously adhere to the old tongue; and having a vital interest in preserving a secret instrument, it would war against change. It is the more necessary to insist upon this view, as our critic expects to find after a separation of some four[Pg 180] centuries the Jats or other tribes speaking pure old Gypsy. The modern Gypsy may still represent the ancient Játaki. Hence also the dialect of their ancestors is dying out amongst the sedentary Romá. M. Paul Bataillard has carefully separated, and perhaps too curiously, the historical arrival of the Gypsies in Western Europe and their establishment in the south-eastern regions, Thrace, Dacia, etc. An abuse of his theory makes him urge the identity of his Tsigane with the mysterious Sicani who held Sicily before the Siculi. These and other prehistoric identifications have not yet been generally adopted.

Had M. Paul Bataillard reflected a little more, he would not have advocated, considering the extensive habitat of the Jats, the insufficient theory of M. Ascoli—namely, that the Gypsies are Sindhis who dwelt long in Hindustan; nor would M. Ascoli have omitted the widely spoken Játaki from his list of neo-Indian tongues, which he unduly reduces to seven. We should have been spared the “conviction” that the Romá dwelt in Mesopotamia, which was only one station on their way, Asia Minor and the Lower Danube being the general line of Aryan emigration; that they are aborigines of Kabul, in fact primitive Afghans, as supposed by another French littérateur, whose lively imagination strips him of all authority; and, finally, that they are “descendants of those ancient peoples of Bactriana and Arya, successively conquered by Persians, Greeks,[Pg 181] Indogetæ, and Afghans.” A most trivial comparison is made between Segor, the biblical city, and the Gypsy name Cingani (Singani). When Professor Pott and M. de Saulcy find “relationship” and “close connexion” between Sanskrit and Romani-chíb, they should have explained that the latter is a Prakrit or vulgar tongue with an Aryan vocabulary reposing upon the ruins of a Turanian base. The former, as its name shows, was a refined and city language, never spoken, nor indeed understood, by the peoples of India in general; in fact, a professor’s speech, like the present Romaic of the Athenian logiotátoi.

The word Berber (Barbar), again, applied to the Gypsies in Persia, means, according to its root, a chatterer, patterer, or speaker of unintelligible cant. It is the Sanskrit Varvvara, [Sanskrit: वर्व्वर][129], a low fellow, a savage, the Barbaros of the Greeks and Romans; the Berber, [Sindhi: بڙبڙ], or Berber, [Arabic: بربر], of modern Hindustan; and the racial name of that great scattered people the Barábarah, who stretch from the Nile Valley to North-Western Africa. The lunar god, Raho, of the Norwegian Gypsies is a palpable reminiscence and survival of the demon Ráhu. The Gházieh of Egypt are not “also called Beremikeh”;[130] the Barámikah are a substitute of the Ghagar. The “Chungaló,” the “Jungaló,” and the “Zungaló” of[Pg 182] Paspati, signifying a non-Gypsy, is evidently Jangalí, wild or sylvan (jungle) man, the popular title of Europeans, especially of Englishmen, in India. Das also, the term applied by the Romá to their Bulgarian and Wallachian neighbours, bears a suspicious resemblance to the Hindu Dashya and Dasa, vulgarly Doss, a low caste or rather a no-caste man, supposed to represent the original Turanian lords of the land.

Moreover, why assume with M. Paspati that [Greek: γ: g], [Greek: θ: th], and [Greek: χ: ch] are “Greek importations into the Gypsy tongue”? Of these letters two are Arabo-Persian: [Greek: χ: ch] is = Khá, [Arabic: خ]; and [Greek: γ: g] is = Ghayn, [Arabic: غ]; the gamma pronounced Ghámma in Romaic parlance when preceding the open vowels, á and o. The third generally corresponds with the Arabic Sá, [Arabic: ص], pronounced in Persian and Hindi as a simple Sín (s)[131]. The critic, however, should not have told us, “Le [Greek: θ: th] répond assez bien au ‘th’ Anglais.” Our sibilant has two distinct sounds: one soft, as in thy, answering to the neo-Greek [Greek: δ: d]; the other hard, as in theme, = [Greek: θ: th]. The Gypsy Owa, Va (yes) bears a suspicious resemblance to the vulgar Arabic Aywá, contracted from Ay w' Allah—aye by Allah! A man must have absolutely no practical knowledge of the Rom or of his congener the “mild Hindu” who can ask, “Les esprits grossiers sont-ils donc plus subtils que les nôtres?” This is the mere morgue and outrecuidance of European ignorance. Let the author try the process of[Pg 183] “finessing” upon the first lad, Jat or Sindhi, who comes in his way, and he will readily be made to understand my meaning. Finally, I venture to throw out a hint that the “barbarous helot” may preserve the tribal name Nath, [Sanskrit: नट][132], a mime. This caste, with which the Gypsies used formerly to be identified,[133] certainly did not represent the “wild aboriginal inhabitants of India”; they may have Dravidian affinities, but they are certainly not of Turanian blood.

§ 3. “Origines, etc.

This paper was published in 1875, when M. Paul Bataillard had the benefit of my letter to the Academy; and apparently its main object is to prove that he preceded me in identifying the Gypsies with the “Djatte” (Jats). It is divided into three parts, which are four. No. 1 contains the author’s reclamation and his notice of Professor de Goeje; No. 2 works out more fully his own theory of Gypsy origin; No. 3 contains a “certain and definitive explanation of the word Tsigane”; and No. 4, by way of colophon and endowment of research, thrusts forward certain preachments upon the direction of future inquiries for the benefit of us rude practical men.

Of No. 1, I have already treated, and content[Pg 184] myself with energetically objecting to the statement that all who have treated about the peoples of the Indine Valley have imagined either a possible or a probable rapport between the Jats (not Juth) and the Gypsies. M. Paul Bataillard again shows that in 1850, when my paper was published in 1849, neither he nor Professor Fleischer knew aught concerning the modern Sindhi Jats, a mere section of the race, save the corruption of a name. They were ignorant of its extensive habitat scattered between the Indus mouths and the Tatar Steppes. They had never learned that it speaks its own peculiar dialect, which is like that of the Gypsies and the Sindhi to a certain extent, Persico-Indian.

Part No. 2 becomes much more sensational. We find that our critic’s ideas have grown, and that the antiquity of the Gypsies in South-Eastern Europe extends deep into the misty regions of the past. In 1872 he merely alluded to the high importance of the ethnic name Sindho or Sinto (feminine Sindhi; plurals Sindhe and Sindhiyan), “meaning the great.” Now he would identify them with the aborigines of Lemnos, those “lords of Vulcan” the [Greek: Σιντιες: Sinties]—a word generally understood to signify robbers ([Greek: σινομαι: sinomai]). The connexion is brought about because Homer describes these metal-workers as speaking a wild speech ([Greek: αγριοφωνοι: agriophônoi]), and because Hellanicus of Lesbos derives them from Thrace. Two independent authorities—the original hypothesist[Pg 185] Dr. Johannes Gottlieb Hasse in 1803, and M. Vivien de Saint-Martin in 1847—had suggested an idea which M. Paul Bataillard borrowed and adopted. The Tsigane represent, we are assured, not only the Sicani of Sicily, but also the [Greek: Σιγυναι: Sigynai, Σιγυνοι: Sigynoi, Σιγιννοι: Siginnoi], whom Herodotus places in the Caucasus, Asia Minor, and Thrace. The broad gap of years is bridged over, in the teeth of M. Paspati, by means of certain mediæval Byzantine heretics, the [Greek: Αθιγγανοι: Athinganoi], Manichæans like the Albigenses, the Paulicians, and especially the dwellers in Bosnia and its neighbourhood, also called Athigarii, Atingarii, Anthingarii, and Atingani; and this only because certain of the modern Greeks call their Gypsies Athinganoi ([Greek: Αθιγγανοι: Athinganoi]). Brosset[134] notices that in the eleventh century, when King Bagrat visited Constantinople, he there heard a marvellous and wholly incredible thing; namely, that a tribe of the Samaritans descended from Simon Magus, and called Atsinkan, were still infamous for their evil-doings and sorceries. And then we have a silly story of how the monk St. George of Athos rendered all their poisons of no account.

Moreover, we are told, if the modern Tsigane represent the Sinties and the Siginnoi, they must, ergo, stand in the same relationship to certain[Pg 186] mysterious tribes inhabiting the Caucasus and Western Asia, Egypt, the Levantine Islands, and the Danubian basin. Thus we see the origin of the Telchini, the Chalybes, and other “Cabiric peoples.” The latter has the disadvantage of being purely Semitic, Kabír meaning “the great” applied to the twelve Dii majores of the Phœnicians who sent forth Kadmos (El Kadín) = the old or the great.[135] But let that pass. Our author proves his fact by showing that these races, like the modern Romá, were makers of weapons, especially the assegai or javelin; whilst the Cabiri and the Telchini were renowned for music and soothsaying. And how not recognize the Troglodytic Sibyls of Asia Minor and Egypt, of Greece, and especially Thrace, in the pure Gypsy, when [Greek: Σιβυλλα: Sibylla] is only a form of [Greek: Σιβυνη: Sibynê] or [Greek: Ζιβυνη: Zibynê], which naturally derives from [Greek: Σιγυνη: Sigynê], [Greek: Σιγυννος: Sigynnos] = Tsigane? How not perceive that the Egyptian prophetesses turned into black pigeons by Herodotus, and the doves of Dodona, were not identical with the Romní?

This becomes a disease—Tsigane on the brain; from which our author evidently suffers in an acute form—so acute as to render his imagination[Pg 187] most lively. To the unimaginative ethnologist the “Sindhi” are simply the Sindh tribes of Gypsies, so called from the Sindhu, that mighty stream which gave to Europe a name for the Indian Peninsula. Hence, indeed, some philologists would derive the Spanish word Zincale (Zinkale), making it a compound of Sindh and Kálo (plural Kále, black) = dark men of Sindh. Rejecting this treatment, we must consider it a tribal name like Karáchi (= lower Sindhian), Helebi (Aleppine), Lúri (from Lúristán), and many others into which the great Jat nation is divided.

But whilst we reject particulars, we must beware how we treat the general theory. Tradition and ethnological peculiarities, far stronger than philological resemblances or coincidences, tend to prove that the earliest metal-workers and weapon-makers were an Indine race whose immigration long preceded the movement of the last ethnic wave, the Gypsy of history. Herodotus notices a caste or corporation of ambulant founders and metal-workers which came from Asia, possibly belonging to the age called by M. de Mortillet de la chaudronnerie, when the hammer took the place of simple fusion. Modern research has shown that these prehistoric artisans affected Gypsy habits like the caldereros (coppersmiths) of the Romá in later ages. They had no permanent abodes; their ateliers were not inside the towns, but en plein champ near inhabited[Pg 188] centres; here they fashioned their new and recast their old metal, bartering their works for furs, hides, amber, and other articles of local provenance. Hence M. Émile Burnouf[136] assumes these wandering workmen of the Bronze Age to have been a Gypsy race; while the remarkable similarity, I may almost say the identity, of the alloy suggests that it was the produce of a single people. We must, however, be careful how we accept his derivation from Banca and Malacca of the prehistoric tin required for bronze. It would first be supplied by the Caucasus mines to a race of workmen migrating along the southern base from the West to the East. The next source of supply, before passing to Southern France, Spain, and the Cassiterides, would be North-Western Arabia. The Book of Numbers[137] distinctly mentions the metal, placing it between iron and lead, as part of the spoils taken by the children of Israel from their cousins the Midianites (circ. b.c. 1450); and the two Khedivial expeditions (a.d. 1877-78) have brought home proofs that it may still be found there. Indeed, I have a suspicion that the “broken” people of Western Arabia are descended from the ancient Gypsies who may have worked the gold mines of Midian.

Part No. 3 corrects Professor de Goeje, M. Fagnan, and myself in our several explanations of Tsigane.[Pg 189] The exaggerated value attributed by M. Paul Bataillard to his own “typical proof and the material confirmation of all his system” seems to have hindered his revelation; and he insists upon it naïvely as if it were proof of Holy Writ. Its venerable “hypothetical origin” must be sought in the root chináv, meaning to thrust, throw, fight, cut, kill, write, and eject saliva. It survives in the word Sagaie or Zagaie (our assegai): the latter, when split in two, contains a first part similar to sag-itta, and a second like gais (-sum), the heavy, barbed Gallic javelin; whilst the whole resembles the Amazonian Sagaris, an axe.

In the name of the Prophet—figs! This dreamery is ushered in as usual by a whole page of discursive matter. The debased Romaic [Greek: κατζιβελος: katzibelos], a “maker of javelins,” used by a Byzantine poet of the middle fourteenth century, is shown = Sigynos = Tsigane. Kilinjirides, a Græcised form of the Turkish Kilij-ji, or sword-maker, is the same word. Let me here note that the “pure Turkish term Kaldji,” still used at Rhodes, is not the same as Kilij-ji; it is the bastard compound Arabic and Turkish Kala'-jí, a tinsmith. Such are some of the linguistic will-o’-the-wisps which have, I fear, habitually misled our critic.

I must now consider the origin of the corrupted “typical term” Tsigane, which M. Paul Bataillard has converted into a “generic name.” The old[Pg 190] and obsolete derivations of the Zingaro, which with various modifications prevails throughout Europe, are the following.[138] Ciga or Siga, the seaport of Mauretania Cæsariensis, or the Ciga or Cija River mentioned by Lucan; the Magian Cineus; Zeugitania Regio (Zeugis); Singara, the Mesopotamian city; Zigera, a Thracian settlement; the Zinganes, a tribe inhabiting the Indus Delta (?); the Zigier Province in Asia Minor; and “the bird Cinclo” (motacilla or wagtail), a “vagrant bird which builds no nest,” and therefore gave rise to the term Cinli or Cingary. Less absurd is the derivation from Singus, or Cingus, the chief of a horde under “Tamerlane,” who employed these men, not as combatants, but camp-followers and to export trains[139] (a.d. 1401). Arabshah, the biographer of the great Tatar Amír, recounts a contrivance by which in a.d. 1406 he rid his city (Samarkand) of the rebellious Zingaros; and the account of this race shows a certain correspondence with the Gypsies. Hence, probably, Borrow (The Zincali) tells us that “the Eastern Gypsies are called Zingarri.” The word is quite unknown to Turkey and Persia. In 1402 they accompanied the Sultan Báyezíd on[Pg 191] his invasion of Europe along the Danube, and thus settled in Bulgaria and Old Servia.

What we know for certain is that the Gypsies have been known in Persia from time immemorial as Chingáneh, [Persian: چِنگانه]. Professor de Goeje writes the word Tsjengán (Chengán), and would explain it by the Persian plural of Tsenj, a musician, a dancer. Is this word intended for Chang, a harp, or for Zang, in Arabic Zanj, a Kálo, a “black man,” as the Gypsy is still called in England? Chingáneh in Syria becomes Jingáneh, the Semites having no ch; and the term now applies, not to the Gypsies generally, but to a small and special tribe. The Greek and Romaic [Greek: Ατζιγγανος: Atzinganos] and [Greek: Αθιγγανος: Athinganos] corruptions of Chingáneh, are, as we have seen by Atsinkan, as old at Constantinople as the eleventh century. In Turkish the word is written as in Persian, but the pronunciation changes to Chingyáneh; M. Paspati adopts Tchinghiané, the Turco-French corruption, with the e = eh. Hence evidently the Hungarian Czigan (Czigany, Czigányok, Czingaricus, etc.), and the Transylvanian Cingani, which appears in writings of the fifteenth century; the former evidently engendered M. Bataillard’s bastard Tsigane. The Poles turned Chingáneh into Cygan (Cyganaeh, Cyganskiego, etc.), and the Russians into Zigan. Here we see the Italian Ciano, Cingano, and Zingano, the older forms of Zingaro and the Portuguese Cigano.

[Pg 192]

The Spanish Zincali is derived by Borrow from two Gypsy words meaning “Kále” (the black men) of Zend (Sind or Ind), a theory perfectly inadmissible. The Iberian Gitáno, now a term of opprobrium, is probably a survival of the racial name, and not a corruption of the older Egypciano, the Basque Egipcioac. The latter, evidently from Aigyptos, Ægyptus, Egypt, an “Egyptian,” is itself a corruption of Kupt, [Persian: کپط], in modern parlance a Copt. Hence the Turks also call their vagrants Kupti or Gupti. Hence also [Greek: Γυφτος: Gyphtos] in Romaic applies indifferently to a Gypsy or a blacksmith, and hence finally our Gypsy, which should be pronounced with a hard g, and written as by the older writers Gypsy. All four derive from a different root, the Egyptian.

As regards the German Zigeuner and its older forms Secane and Suyginer (fifteenth century), Professor de Goeje would derive it from Sjikâri (Syikári), as he writes Shekári, a huntsman, much reminding us of that diction which confounds “srimp” with “shrimp.” The word means a wanderer, and seems to derive from the root that gave us zig-zag. The Dutch call these Indians Heiden af Egyptiër’s; the French Égyptiens, but preferably Bohémiens, showing what they believed to be the last halting-place of the tribe before it passed on to Western Europe. A curious irony of fate has connected in the Gallic mind the old land of the Boii with all that is wild[Pg 193] and unsettled, when its sons are the stiffest and the most priggish of the Austro-German beamter class.

Not a few commentators on the Bible[140] have believed the Gypsies to be that “mixed multitude” which has done so much for romantic ethnology. This medley, the Hebrew’s hasaphsuph, corresponding with the Arabic Habash (Abyssinian), we are told “went up also with the Jews out of Egypt.” The learned add that they marched eastward to India, became veritable Aryans, retraced their steps to Misraim, the two Egypts, upper and lower, and thence spread over Europe.

For the first set of words, Tsigane included, I hold Chingáneh to be the origin, owning at the same time my inability to determine the root or history of the word. For the second, whose type is Gitano, I think it probable that the wanderers may have modified their racial name Jat and its adjective Jatáni into the semblance of Egyptian at the time when they represented themselves to be descendants of the old Nile dwellers and to speak an Egyptian (Coptic) dialect. The Jugo-Slav tongues abound in similar instances of conversion, vernacular and significant terms being often applied to the older terms of conquered or occupied countries. For instance,[Pg 194] Aurisina, the Roman station near Trieste, became Nabresina, from na-brek = ad montem.

Returning to M. Paul Bataillard, we find him declaring that the Gypsies are generically Chamites (descendants of Ham!), and specifically Kushites, “who lived long enough under the 'Aryas in the Indus region to lose their Kushite tongue and to adopt an Aryan dialect.” This immense assertion, made perfunctorily, as it were, and without acknowledgment of its source, is worthy of the eighteenth century and its “mixed multitude” borrowed from the Book of Exodus. What the learned Movers (Geschichte d. Phœnicier) said of the “Kushites” was that, originally from India, they migrated in prehistoric days westwards, allied themselves with the Semites, and became the peoples speaking such Aryo-Semitic tongues as the Egyptian and Coptic, Himyaritic and Ghíz. To believe that this also was the history of the Gypsy movement is to hold that, whilst other “Kushites” changed their physique and their morale, their eyes and hair, their cheekbones and figures generally, the Gypsies have remained pure Indians without a trace of other blood.

A word here upon this “Kushite” theory, which has been accepted by men of the calibre of Heinrich Brugsch Bey. It appears to be simply a labour-saving institution, in fact what algebraists call supposer un inconnu, a pure assumption which spares[Pg 195] the pains of working out the origination of the so-called Aryo-Semitic races. These Kushites, who were they? Where are they mentioned in history or legend as emigrants from the plains of Hindustan to the north-eastern angle of Africa? What traces have they left upon the long route across Western Asia which connects the Indus with the Nile? How came it that, without marking their exodus by a single vestige of civilization, they began at once to hew the obelisks and build the pyramids in their new home, the chef-d’œuvres of artistic Egypt’s golden age? No answer to such objections as these.

In Part No. 4, concluding the paper, M. Paul Bataillard attempts to conciliate his “principal thesis” with the views of M. de Goeje. The Leyden professor opines that the first colonies of Djatts (Jats) were founded amongst the Persians and Arabs of the seventh century; and M. Fagnan also speaks of inscriptions in Buddhist characters treating of the Jats in the fourth and fifth centuries. The tribal name, corrupted by Arabization, appears in the “Canal of the Zott” (Zutt) near Babylon, and in the “Zott-land.” Families of “Zotts” were transplanted to Syrian Bosra, Bostra, or Old Damascus during the earliest Muslim conquests in the seventh century (circ. a.d. 670), not in the ninth (a.d. 855), as our author had determined. About a.d. 710 “Zotts” and Indians were transferred from the Indus to the Tigris (Khuzistán); and between a.d. 714 and 720[Pg 196] a certain number were sent with their four thousand buffaloes—“which make the lion fly (!)”—to colonize the Antioch regions. Hence possibly the name of the large tribe which is known in Egypt and elsewhere as “El H'aleb,” or “Helebi, the Aleppine.” They waxed powerful enough in their new possessions to contend with the Caliphat till a.d. 820-834, when they were subjugated, and some twenty-seven thousand were transplanted to Bagdad. Thence they were sent north-eastwards to Khánikin and westwards to Ayin-Zarba (?) in Syria, a place subsequently (a.d. 855) captured by the Byzantines; and finally the “Zott” and their belongings were carried off and dispersed throughout the empire.

So far so good. But our critic appends a rider to Professor de Goeje’s tale. He owns that this race, Zott or Jats, may have transformed itself into Gypsies—not difficult, as they were Gypsies. But he contends that they formed a feeble modern addition to his “Kushites,” to the race which was represented ab antiquo by the Sicani and Sinties et hoc genus omne.

Further let me note en passant the vulgar error now obsolete which, confounding Hindi with the Urdú-Zabán or camp dialect,[141] made the former a bastard modern tongue when its literature is as old as the earliest English and French. And here we may note[Pg 197] that, while the Romni-chíb is in point of vocabulary a sister of the Hindi, the grammar of the noun with its survival of regular cases belongs to a more remote age. It is partly Prakrit and partly Sindhi, a dialect whose numerous harsh consonants make us suspect, despite Dr. Trumpp, a non-Aryan element. Besides the prehistoric occupation of the trans-Indine regions by the Indo-Scythians noticed in Alexander’s day, we find another dating from far later times. The Bactrian kingdom which became independent sixty-nine years after the great Macedonian’s death lasted one hundred and thirty years, and was destroyed about b.c. 126 by the “white Huns,” Chinese Tatars, who crossed the Jaxartes. Hence possibly the Dravidian Brahins still dwelling in the midst of Aryan populations. The apparent anomaly that the wild and vagrant Gypsies have preserved in Europe ancient forms which have died out in the old home has already been accounted for; I may also number amongst the causes of conservation the total want of a written character, which also proves the early date of the Gypsy exodus.

§ 4. “Notes et Questions, etc.,” “Sur le mot Zagaie, etc.

I treat of Nos. 4 and 5 out of order of date because they are mere ausflugs illustrating Nos. 3 and 6. From the first we learn that when the[Pg 198] French occupied Algiers in 1830 they found the city and its territory partly occupied by Gypsies, who did not mix with the Arabs or the Kabyles (Kabáil or the Tribes), with the Jews or the Europeans. They spoke their own tongue, and they were often visited by their congeners of Hungary and other parts of Europe. It is conjectured that these Romá may have passed over from Spain, and possibly that they travelled eastward from Morocco, as Blidah contains many of the race. The question becomes interesting when we find the Egyptian Ghagar claiming to be emigrants from the West. According to the Librarian of Algiers, the late M. Berbruger in 1846, they were known as Guesáni, pronounced G'sáni or G'záne (Gezzání), the feminine singular being Gezzána (Gezzáneh).[142] Here of course M. Paul Bataillard finds no difficulty in detecting, through Dzâna and Tsâna, “a corruption of the true name Tsigani or Tchingani.” The latter form, I would observe, retaining the nasal of the original Chingáneh and the Arabized Jingáneh, is far preferable to the mutilated Tsigane adopted afterwards (1875) with so much pomp and such a flourish of trumpets.

A family dislodged from a house in the present Rue de Chartres was found lying upon the straw surrounded by human skulls, serpents, and other[Pg 199] instruments of their craft. Whilst being evicted they noisily threatened their molesters with all manner of devilry; but as usual they ended by submitting. The men apparently had no occupation; the women used to wander about the streets in small parties, generally a matron followed by four or five girls, crying, “Gezzáneh! who wants to know the future?”[143] The Durke,[144] or pythoness, carried a tambourine; and when divining she placed upon her drum-head a bit of alum and of charcoal, with pebbles, beans or grains, wheat and barley; these represented the “elements,” water, fire, and earth, thus showing that the process was a rude form of the Arab’s geomancy. Sometimes the “spae-wife” made passes over the consultee’s head, holding in her hand a lump of sugar; this reminds us of the magicians in Morocco and Egypt and their mesmerized “clear-seers.” Between 1837 and 1838 these Gypsies retired into the Sahará or Desert; and now they visit the city only in caravans. Their women, tattooed and painted like the Bedawiyyah, are generally robed in rags and tatters, and decorated with the usual tinsel, rings, and hangings.

An interesting subject, but by no means easy of treatment, would be the order of Dervishes known as[Pg 200] Aïssaoua, also “called Adrá, from the name of one of their festivals.”[145] They have been noticed by a multitude of writers each more ignorant than the other. These men are probably Gypsies, to judge by analogy with the Rifá'i Dervishes, who will be noticed under the head of Egypt. The same may be said of the Naïlette, the Almah (Álimeh) or dancing-girl of Algiers, who affiliates herself with the Aulád Ná'il[146], the large and wealthy Bedawin tribe occupying the inner regions. Similarly the Nawar Gypsies farther east derive themselves from the Beni Nawar. These Naïlettes are public when young, yet in after-life they become faithful wives; the same is said of the Egyptian Ghagar and the nach-girls of India. According to one authority, there are among the Mozabites two or three Gypsy tribes that live by prostituting their women to caravans. It is curious to compare the rigid chastity of the Gypsy girls in England and Spain, indeed in Europe generally, where a lapse would lead to certain death, with their looseness of life elsewhere. But the Romá is une race curieuse entre toutes, and both extremes may be expected from it.

It remains only to treat of No. 5, which discusses the origin of the word Zagaie or Sagaie, the Spanish and Portuguese Azagaia, a small kind of Moorish spear which we have named assegai, transferring it to[Pg 201] the throwing dart of the Básetu or Káfir race. We have seen (§ 3) that M. Paul Bataillard has fathered upon this term the mysterious racial name Tsigane (Chingáneh), and there is no reason to repeat what has been said of his derivation. We may accept his dictum: “There are words whose history would, if known, throw vivid light upon human migrations and the affinity of peoples in very ancient ages.” But here we find, in lieu of illumination, outer darkness. The comparison of Zagaie, Gæsum, and Gais is bad enough; but it is worse to transport the assegai into South American speech. Demersay, describing the Paraguayan tribe of “Payagas” (the Payagúas or Canoe Indians), calls their lance Pagaie, “which,” remarks our author, “may, it appears, be permitted to me to identify with Sagaie.” This is again transcendental etymology applied to ethnic misuse. Pagaie here is simply the popular European, and especially French, corruption of Tacapé or Tangapé, the paddle-club of ironwood sharpened to serve as a sword, and used by all the maritime tribes of Eastern South America. Finally Korik, the bellows, so called by the Gypsies of Asia Minor, is not Turkish, but a corruption of the Arabic Kor.

Here ends my long notice of M. Paul Bataillard’s four papers; the novelties introduced into them will, it is hoped, be held to justify the prolixity.


[106] The following are his advertised works; he kindly supplied me with copies of all, except the first two, which were out of print:

1. De l’apparition et de la dispersion des Bohémiens en Europe. Reprinted from the Bibliothèque de l’École des Chartes, 1844, in 8vo of 69 pages; and again in 1849 by M. Franck. I understand that in this, his first paper, the author knew the “Zott,” but ignored the “Jats.”

2. Nouvelles Recherches sur l’apparition des Bohémiens en Europe (particulièrement dans l’Europe Orientale,—avec un appendice sur l’arrivée de dix ou douze mille Louri, Zuth, ou Djatt en Perse entre les années 420 et 440). From the same Bibliothèque, 1849, in 8vo of 48 pages, a petit travail (as the author calls it) containing his first notice of the Jats.

3. Les derniers travaux relatifs aux Bohémiens dans l’Europe Orientale. From the Revue Critique, Vol. II. of fifth year (1870-71). Reprinted Paris: Franck, 1872. In treating of the Gypsies the Jats now become an important element.

4. Notes et questions sur les Bohémiens en Algérie. From the Bulletin of the Société d’Anthropologie de Paris, Séance du 17 Juillet, 1873. Reprinted Paris: A. Henmeyer, 1874.

5. Sur le mot Zagaie ou Sagaie, et accessoirement sur le nom du soufflet de forge primitif. From the Bulletin of the Société d’Anthropologie de Paris, Séance du 21 Mai, 1874.

6. Sur l’origine des Bohémiens ou Tsiganes, avec l’explication du mot “Tsigane.” Lettre à la Revue Critique. Paris: Franck, 1875. This last publication criticises my identification of the Gypsies and the Jats, etc.

[107] Embéo e Majáro Lucas, etc., now rare. This version preserved intact many of the Spanish words used by Padre Scio, instead of converting them into pure “Romani.” See Borrow.

[108] For instance, when Borrow makes Chai denote the men of Egypt or the sons of Heaven, when it simply signifies children, being a dialectic variety of the Hindi Chokra, Chokrí.

[109] A second “Tsiganida” was in the hands of the late M. Pierre Assaki, possibly composed by one of his kinsmen.

[110] Rom (man), masc. sing.; Romá (men), masc. plur. Romni, Romniá, woman, women; Romaní, adjectival, belonging to man. Hence our phrases “rum fellow” and “pottering Rommany.” Lom is a mere popular mispronunciation of Rom, and Ro is a vulgar abbreviation. The latter word I would derive from the Coptic [Greek: ρωμε: rôme] (romé), a man.

[111] The bond of language has perhaps been exaggerated by M. Alexandre G. Paspati, Étude sur les Tchinghianés en Bohémiens de l’Empire Ottoman (Constantinople, 1870), and others, where they assert “l’histoire entière de cette race est dans son idiome.”

[112] As the Jews all have especial Hebrew names for the Synagogue besides the Gentile family-names known to the world, the Gypsies are also binominal. Thus the Stanleys are Bar-engres (stony fellows); the Coopers, Wardo-engres (“wheel fellows,” coopers); the Hernes, Balors (hairs, hairy fellows); the Smiths, Petul-engres (“horseshoe fellows,” blacksmiths); and the Lovells, Camo-mescres (amorous fellows). See The Zincali.

[113] Getæ, Goths.

[114] History of Sindh, pp. 246, 247, and Notes, p. 411; Scinde, or the Unhappy Valley, Vol. II., pp. 116-19; Journal of the Bombay Asiatic Society, pp. 84-90; without including the Grammar and the Vocabulary.

[115] Scinde, or the Unhappy Valley, Vol II., pp. 116-19.

[116] Alluding chiefly to Captain Postans’ Personal Observations on Scinde, chap. iii.

[117] Both of these statements have been modified by subsequent experience. The Jats are not immigrants, nor is their language corrupt Panjabi. It is connected with the Sindhi; but it wants those intricacies and difficulties, and that exuberance of grammatical forms, which, distinguishing the latter from its Prakrit sisters, renders it so valuable for the philological comparison of the neo-Aryan tongues. The vernacular of the Sindh Valley has preserved many forms for which we vainly look in its cognates, and it is notably freer from foreign admixture than any other of the North Indian dialects, the Panjabi, Hindi, and Bengali of our day. It has, in fact, remained tolerably steady to that first stage of decomposition which attacked the Prakrit of the ancients. Hence Dr. Trumpp (loc. cit.) holds it to be an immediate derivation from the Apabhransha, which the old grammarians placed lowest in the scale of Prakrit speech. “While all the modern vernaculars of India,” he says, “are already so degraded that the venerable mother tongue (Sanskrit) is hardly recognizable in her degenerate daughters, the Sindhi has, on the contrary, preserved most important fragments of it, and erected for itself a grammatical structure which far surpasses in beauty of execution and internal harmony the loose and levelling construction of its sisters.”

[118] Every observer has noticed the Gypsy eye, which films over, as it were, as soon as the owner becomes weary or ennuyé; it has also a remarkable “far-off” glance, as if looking over and beyond you. Borrow (The Zincali) describes it as a “strange stare like nothing else in this world.” And again he says that “a thin glaze steals over it in repose, and seems to emit phosphoric light.” It is certainly a marvellous contrast with the small, fat-lidded eye of the Jew, the oblique and porcine feature of the Chinese, and the oblong optic of the old Egypt which in profile looks like full face.

[119] In the language of the Jat a Kaum is a clan.

[120] The italicised words are in the second edition.

[121] The author of this well-known Persian history of Sindh asserts that the Jats and the Belochis are both sprung from the same ancestors.

[122] I cannot but suspect some connexion between the Gypsy tribal name and that of the Counts Szapary, one governor of Fiume, and the other commanding a corps d’armée in Bosnia.

[123] Die Einwanderung der Zigeuner in Europa. Ein Vortrag von Carl Hopf. (Gotha, 1870.)

[124] Des Bohémiens et de leur Musique en Hongrie. (Paris, 1859.)

[125] Literally, a descendant from Lot; popularly, a loose fellow, a cad.

[126] [The Arabic word is [Arabic: العود] which is currently transliterated as El-`Oúd.—Transcriber.]

[127] Ueber die Mundarten und Wanderungen der Zigeuner Europa’s. Von Dr. Franz Miklosich Denkschriften der k. Akademie der Wissenschaften. (Wien, 1872-77.)

[128] Étude, etc., p. 15; see also Derniers Travaux, p. 37.

[129] [While Varvvara [Sanskrit: वर्व्वर] is what appeared in the original book, it was common to omit the cross on the lower circle in some forms of writing, so Barbbara [Sanskrit: बर्ब्बर] is also possible. Hindi Wikipedia lists the desired word as Barbara [Sanskrit: बर्बर].—Transcriber.]

[130] Here the mincing French pronunciation has done its very worst wholly denaturalizing the Perso-Arabic word.

[131] [The text is transcribed as it was in the original book. However Sín in Arabic and Persian is written [Arabic: س].—Transcriber.]

[132] [The Sanskrit is transcribed as written in the book. However that word would be transliterated Naṭa. Nath would be [Sanskrit: नठ]—Transcriber.]

[133] Asiat. Res., VII. 451.

[134] Histoire de la Géorgie, Part I., p. 338. The modern Armenians call the Gypsies Boscha, possibly from Bokchá, by which the Russian Gypsies denote Hungary.

[135] I am not a little surprised to see a scholar like Mr. Gladstone declaring that “Kadmos signifies a foreigner” (Homer: Primer.) The “Old One” with his sixteen letters is supposed by M. Freret (Canon Chronologique) to have settled at Bœotian Thebes in b.c. 1590, or some century and a half before Troy was founded (b.c. 1425).

[136] “L’Age de Bronze,” Revue des Deux Mondes, July 15, 1877.

[137] [Chap. xxxi. 22.]

[138] Borrow; El Gitanismo.

[139] Tamerlane is our corruption of Taymúr—i.e. long, limping Taymur. The Gypsies call Asmodeus Bengui lango, the lame devil, the devil on two sticks. Not a few Hungarian Chingáneh accompanied the Napoleonic armies to Spain.

[140] For instance, Roberts on Ezekiel (chaps. xxix. and xxx.).

[141] An Urdú-Zabán has been formed in Italy, where the soldiers drawn from a multitude of provinces, each speaking its own dialect, not to say patois, have developed a special speech. The officers are obliged to study this “pidjin-Italian.”

[142] The feminine plural is not given; analogy would suggest it to be Ghanázineh.

[143] The same cry used by the Egyptian Gypsies: see Von Kremer’s Notes.

[144] Literally, a far-seer. The Persian word dúr, far or distance, Germ. dort and Engl. forth, is familiarly used in Hindustani, and its compound forms are frequent in Turkish.

[145] The Id el Zuhá, alias Kurbán Bayrám, the festival of the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca.

[146] [The Arabic word is [Arabic: أولاد نائل] which is currently translterated as Ouled Ná'il.—Transcriber.]

[Pg 202]

Part II




Before proceeding to the topographical portion of my subject, it may be well to review summarily the historical accounts of the Romá who overspread Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Grellman, a classic upon the subject of “Chinganology,”[147] proved that the last movement to Western Europe set out, not from Bohemia, but from Hungary and the adjacent countries, including (Old) Rumelia and Moldavia. In 1417 some three thousand settled in Moldavia, whilst late in the same year hordes of Tatars, then so called, appeared before the gates of the Hanseatic towns on the Baltic coast, first Luneburg, and then Hamburg, Lübeck, Wismar,[Pg 203] Rostock, and Stralsund.[148] Next year they migrated to middle Germany, to Meissen, Leipzig, and Hesse; and presently turned their steps towards Switzerland, entering Zürich on August 1, 1418. There they divided their forces. One detachment crossed the Botzberg, and suddenly appeared as “Saracens” before the Provençal town of Sisteron. The main body, led by “the dukes, the earls, and a bevy of knights,”[149] turned towards Alsace, swarmed through Strasburg, and halted under the walls of Nuremburg.

It is not easy to determine the date of their arrival in Spain, where they may have dwelt in far more ancient times; indeed, during the fifteenth century the Iberian Peninsula was popularly supposed to be their birthplace.[150] On the other hand, many Spaniards believe them to be Germans, and called their tongue “Germania,” Gypsy German.

In 1433 they invaded Bavaria; and thence they spread over Germany, Denmark, and Sweden.

Their first appearance in French Christendom[Pg 204] seems to be when a tribe of one hundred and thirty-two souls, under “a duke,” “a count,” and ten “knights,” startled the people of Paris, August 17, 1427. Pasquier, an eye-witness, who records the arrival of these “Christian penitents” at Paris, where they lodged in La Chapelle, outside the city, gives them ugly features, with crisp black hair.[151] If he be correct, the horde either must have sojourned long in Africa, or must have had intercourse with negro and negroid. There is no more constant characteristic of the modern Gypsy, after his eye, than the long, coarse, black Hindu-Tatar hair.

From an old work[152] it would seem that the Gypsies drifted to England about 1500, though this is uncertain. The writer, in his book published in 1612, says: “This kind of people about a hundred years ago began to gather an head about the southern parts. And this I am informed and can gather was their beginning: Certain Egyptians [sic] banished their country (belike not for their good condition) arrived here in England; who for quaint tricks and devices, not known here at that time among us, were esteemed and held in great admira[Pg 205]tion; insomuch that many of our English loiterers joined with them, and in time learned their crafty cozening. The speech which they used was the right Egyptian [sic] language, with whom our Englishmen conversing at least learned their language.”

We first hear of them in Italy in the early part of the fifteenth century. On July 11, 1422, a horde of fully one hundred, led by a “duke,” encamped before Bologna, passing by Forli, where some of them maintained they came from India. At Bologna these “mild Hindus” represented that they were bound on an expiatory visit to the Pope.

Elsewhere they became “penitents,” who, expelled by the Saracens from their homes in Lower Egypt, had confessed themselves to his Holiness, and had been condemned to seven years’ wandering and dispersion by way of penance. Thus was visited upon their heads the crime of those “perverse pagans” their forefathers, who refused a drink of water to the Virgin and Child flying from the wrath of Herod. This was only fourteen centuries after, and we know that lenta ira deorum est. There was quoted concerning them the forty years’ dispersion of Ezekiel: “And I will make the land of Egypt desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate, and her cities among the cities that are laid waste shall be desolate forty years: and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will[Pg 206] disperse them through the countries” (xxix. 12). The prophet’s minatory ravings against the old Egyptians, who had been a “staff of reed to the house of Israel,” were also recalled to explain their bondage and vagabondage. Hence some declared that it was sinful to maltreat these pseudo-pilgrims.

The Gypsies travelled to Rome and secured a papal safe-conduct twenty years after their first appearance at Bologna. Hypocritical legend secured them passes and passports from the European powers who were then engaged in the perilous Ottoman Wars. They were more or less supported by the Emperor Sigismund and the bishop of the same name, who, a.d. 1540, at Fünf-Kirchen employed them in casting iron and cannon-balls for the benefit of the Turks; by Ladislas II., King of Hungary, and other potentates. The Gypsies doubtless imitated the Jews in hedging between the two belligerents, and in betraying both of them for their own benefit; and this doubtless was part of the cause of the persecution which the two scattered races endured. Purely religious movements of the kind are rare in history; but they are numerous when religion mixes itself, as it ever has and always will, with politics.

Presently public opinion changed, and the natural reaction set in. Lorenzo Palmireno, a.d. 1540, declared in one of his books “that the Gypsies lie,” and the lives they led were not of penitents,[Pg 207] but of “dogs and plunderers.” They were now loaded with all the crimes of the Middle Ages—espionage in the cause of the infidel, incendiarism, professional poisoning and other forms of assassination, cannibalism, sorcery and bewitching, blaspheming God and the saints, and personal intercourse with the foul fiend in the shape of a grey bird.

In 1499, shortly after the institution of the Holy Office, a.d. 1481, and the expulsion of the Jews, a.d. 1492, the “Great Pragmatic,” signed by Ferdinand and Isabella at Medina del Campo under the influence of Jimenez de Cisneros, the archbishop who disgracefully broke faith with the Moors of Grenada, formally attacked the vagrant race.[153] It decreed that the Egyptians and stranger tinkers, caldereros, should settle as serfs for sixty days, and after that time leave the kingdom under severe personal penalties. This decree was renewed under Charles V. by the Cortes of Toledo, in 1523, and of Madrid, in 1528, 1534, and 1560, with the condition that “those found vagabonding for the[Pg 208] third time should become the life slaves of their captors.” Under the timorous Philip III., 1619, the Professor of Theology to the Toledo University, Dr. Sancho de Moncada, addressed a discourse to the king justifying the wholesale slaughter of the race, even women and children, by the dictum, “No law pledges us to bring up wolf-cubs.”

Following the lead of the Catholic kings, the Diet of Augsburg, 1500-1548, revoking all previous concessions, banished the Gypsies from the Holy German Empire under similar conditions. This ordinance was also revived in 1530, in 1544, in 1548, in 1551, and in 1577, the last time confirmed by a police regulation at Frankfurt. In 1545 the Superior Tribunal of Utrecht punished a Gypsy who had disobeyed a decree of exile by flogging until blood was drawn, by splitting his nostrils, and by shaving his head before he was driven to the frontier.[154]

In England the liberal and Protestant Henry VIII.[155] sanctioned an Act of Parliament persecuting the[Pg 209] Gypsies to extermination; and it was renewed by Philip and Mary, and by Elizabeth.

Francis I. of France followed the example of his neighbours; and under Charles IX. the persecution was renewed by the States-General assembled at Orleans, 1561, who decreed extermination by steel and fire. Another and similar edict appeared in 1612. Charles V., besides his proclamations in Spain and Germany, condemned the Gypsies of the Netherlands to enrolment under pain of death, and this was confirmed by the States-General in 1582. Fanatic Poland in 1578 issued a law forbidding hospitality to Gypsies, and exiling those who received them. Pius V. showed himself equally inhuman, and the Romá were driven from the duchies of Parma and Milan, from the republic of Venice, and the kingdom of Denmark. Sweden distinguished herself by the severest laws of expulsion in 1662, 1723, and 1727.

From these barbarities arose the Gypsies’ saying, “King’s law has destroyed the Gypsy law.” The latter consisted of fidelity to one another; the code contained only three commandments, of which the first two were addressed to women:

“Thou shalt not separate from the Rom (Gypsy law).”

“Thou shalt be faithful to thy Rom.”

“Thou shalt pay thy debts to the Rom.”

These Draconian laws against the Gypsies died out[Pg 210] during the development of civilization, and received their death-blow at the hands of the great and glorious French Revolution, 1789.

I propose now to collect a series of notices upon the subject of the Gypsies and the Jats which are not readily procurable by students; many are obtained from books little known to the public, and not a few are gathered by myself. And with a view of introducing some order into the scattered tribes, we will begin from the farthest East, the old home.


[147] Histoire des Bohémiens, French Translation of 1810.

[148] The Edinburgh Review, “Origin and Wanderings of the Gypsies,” July, 1878, adopted the opinion of F. Bataillard that a single scouting-party was in Europe between 1417 and 1427.

[149] [“They appeared in various bands, under chiefs, to whom they acknowledged obedience, and who assumed the titles of dukes and earls” (Weissenburch).]

[150] The opinion is refuted by Francisca de Cordova; yet the Histoire de Los Gitanos, by J. N., published in Barcelona 1832, expressly says that the Gitanos, whom he has specially distinguished from the Gypsies descended from the Arab or Moorish tribes, came from the coast of Africa as conquerors at the beginning of the eighth century.

[151] [Hoyland writes: “When they arrived in Paris, nearly all of them had their ears bored, with one or two silver rings in each, which they said were esteemed ornaments in their own country. The men were black, their hair curled; the women remarkably black, and all their faces scarred” (Historical Survey of the Gypsies).]

[152] A quarto work by S. R., published to detect and expose the “art of juggling” in 1612.

[153] For the special persecutions in Spain and Portugal under Philip III. (1619), Philip IV. (1633), Charles II. (1692), and Philip V. (1726), whose decrees prevailed until 1749, see El Gitanos. [“German writers say that King Ferdinand of Spain, who esteemed it a good work to expatriate useful and profitable subjects—Jew and even Moorish families—could much less be guilty of an impropriety in laying hands on the mischievous progeny of the Gypsies. The edict for their extermination was published in the year 1492. But instead of passing the boundaries, they only slunk into hiding-places, and shortly after appeared in as great numbers as before” (Hoyland).]

[154] [“Even at the present day a Gypsy in many parts of Germany is not allowed to enter a town; nor will the inhabitants permit him to live in the street in which they dwell” (Simson).]

[155] [“An outlandish people, calling themselves Egyptians, using no craft nor feat of merchandise, who have come into this realm, and gone from shire to shire, and place to place, in great company; and used great subtlety and crafty means to deceive the people—bearing them in hand that they, by palmistry, could tell men’s and women’s fortunes; and so have deceived the people for their money; and also have committed many heinous felonies and robberies” (22 Henry VIII., c. 10).]

[Pg 211]



§ 1. The Punjabi Jats

We find the Jats well and copiously described as early as 1835 by Lieutenant-Colonel W. H. Sleeman.[156] He called them “Jâts,” with a long vowel, and treats them everywhere as low caste, or rather no-caste, Hindus. Their original habitat was upon the Indus about Multán, one of the headquarters of Hindu fable, and thence they spread to the Jumna and the Chumbul Valleys. They were alternately robbers and peaceful peasants until about a.d. 1658, when they plundered the ill-fated Dara Shikoh, son of Shah Jehan, the Moghol. Enriched by this feat, they became the nobles and rajahs of the land; and they expended vast sums in building forts like Bharatpúr, Matras, and Gohud, and on public works like the quadrangular garden at Díg. Incited by a love of conquest and plunder, and united by a feeling of nationality, which may be called patriotism, they would have become, but for the Maráttás and for the[Pg 212] English, the dominant race in India. Fate, however, was against them, and those dwelling between the Indus and the Jumna merged into the Nánah-Shákis or Sikhs. As regards the origin of his “Jâts,” Colonel Sleeman reminds us that Sultan Mahmoud carried back with him to Hindustan in a.d. 1011 some two hundred thousand captives, the spoils of his expedition.

The way of the new faith presently converted powerful subjects and industrious peasantry into a fighting caste, and every Jat became a soldier. On the other hand, those lying along the Jumna and the Chumbul, never having been inspired with the martial spirit or united under any conqueror, continued to drive the plough. Thus external influence combined to make the Jats restless, and gradually they turned their steps westward.[157]

Again, Ghenghis Khan, in a.d. 1206, and his descendant Turmachurn, who in a.d. 1303 invaded India and carried off hosts of prisoners, may have given impulse to the current westward. Lastly, about two centuries after, the great Conqueror whom Europe has apparently determined by sectarian nickname, “Tamerlane,” swept over Northern India in a.d. 1398-1400, and his horde must have caused a wide scattering of the weaker tribes.

The Jats, I may here notice, inhabited the Indine[Pg 213] Valley, whence emigration westward is easy; the other tribes, like the Nats, fancifully connected with the Gypsies, were by no means so favourably situated for an exodus. Originally the Gypsies must have been outcasts, not Hindu Pariahs, as some have supposed them to be; although they may have borrowed from those Aryans the horse-sacrifice and the burning of the dead—the latter custom has become obsolete in Europe, and now only a few of the deceased person’s clothes are thrown into the fire. They had words for God (Deob) and the Devil (Bad God—Benga), “Já li benga” (Go to the Devil) being a popular curse. They were unalphabetic: so clever a race would certainly not have lost a written character, and they became nominal Christians and Muslims in imitation of those among whom they settled.

The Jats are still half nomads, and perhaps of old they were wholly nomadic. They are breeders of cattle and rude veterinary surgeons. They are fond of music, as are all these races; and their dances are exactly represented by those of the Egyptian Gypsies, a similarity which has yet to be insisted upon. Their iron-smelting, like that of the Mahabaleshwar tribes, is exactly like that of the Romá. Their sword play is that of the Hindu, whereas the Gypsies in Scotland use a direct thrust straight to the front,[Pg 214][158] certainly not learned in India. The village Jats are said to mould the babies’ heads; perhaps the idea arose by the shampooing of the younger children by the mothers. Divination seems to be the growth of the soil, and palmistry palpably derives from India. Snake-charming is also common amongst them. As their history in the Panjab proves, they are disposed to robbing and to violence. Lastly, though the history of the country universally derives them from the Land of the Five Rivers, the modern date of Muslim annals would not be proof against their being a race of remote antiquity.

Believing that the Jats may fairly have sent forth the last wave of Aryan emigration, the Gypsies, a western flood which was probably preceded by many others, I attempted during my last trip through Sindh in the spring of 1856 to enlist fellow-workmen in the task of illustrating their ethnology and philology. Able linguists like Lieutenant-Colonel Dunsterville, Collector of Hydrabad, and others, were willing to assist me. But I was much disappointed by the incuriousness of a certain professor who met me at Milan before my visit to Western India and Sindh. He had never seen my Grammar and Vocabulary, of which he desired the republication;[Pg 215] but he accepted with enthusiasm my offer to enlist collaborators in the Valley of the Indus for the purpose of proving or disproving his favourite theory that the Gypsies are Sindhis who have long dwelt in Afghanistan.[159] This professor had of course no personal experience; anything he had written on the subject was derived from theory only. Object lessons are not yet popular in Italy; it is easier to visit the camel of the Jardin des Plantes than the camel of the desert, and we can hardly expect a littérateur to take interest in gathering together raw new facts.

§ 2. The Jats of Belochistan.

The following interesting extract is borrowed from The Country of Balochistan,[160] by A. W. Hughes (London, 1877):

“In returning to a consideration of the Jat race of Kachh Gandāva, it may be mentioned that wherever they are found—and they may it seems, from what Masson states, be seen not alone in the Panjab and Sindh and in those countries lying between the Satlej and Ganges Rivers, but even at Kābul, Kandahār, and Herat—they preserve their vernacular tongue, the Jatki. Of this language many dialects are believed to exist, and it may well be suggested[Pg 216] by Masson that the labour of reviewing would not be found altogether unprofitable. It appears to be a fact that the Jats in some places preserve the calling of itinerant Gypsies, and this more particularly in Afghanistan; and it is not unlikely that some affinity in their language and habits might very possibly be traced between them and the vagabond races of Zingāris which are spread over so large a portion of Europe. The Jats of Eastern Kachhi, the supposed descendants of the ancient Getæ, form the cultivating and camel-breeding classes, and are of industrious and peaceable habits, but are dreadfully harried and plundered by the marauding Balochis of the neighbouring hills. They are, so to speak, the original inhabitants of this district, the Rinds,[161] Balochis, and Brahuis having settled in the country at an apparently recent period. The Jats are numerously subdivided among themselves, some tribes amounting, it is said, to nearly forty in number. Some of these are known under the names of Aba, Haura, Kalhora, Khokar, Machni, Manju, Palal, Pasarar, Tunia, and Waddera. In general they are all Muhammadans of the Suni persuasion.”

As El Islam was established in these countries before our tenth century, and the Hinduism of the Lower Valley of the Indus and of Multán dates from the days of Alexander the Great, the original[Pg 217] emigration of Gypsies, who hardly preserve a trace of Hinduism, must either have been outlying pagans or a race of extreme antiquity.

§ 3. The Gypsies of Persia.

Captain Newbold, after visiting the Gypsies in Sindh, Belochistan, and Multán, found them in the “great plain of Persepolis; in the blossoming Valley of Shiráz in the Butchligar Mountains; on the scorched plains of Dashtistan and Chaldea.” He thinks that they may be traced to, and probably far beyond, the Caspian, and easterly to the deserts of Herman and Mekran. They affect but little the scanty fare and the uninteresting life of the desert. Perfectly distinct from the pastoral “Iliyát,” the Bedawin of nearer Asia, the Turkomans, Kurds, and other nomads who camped far from the abodes of settled men, these tribes wander from town to town and village to village, always pitching tents near the more industrious, on whose credulity they partly subsist, here and elsewhere.

The ostensible trades of the Persian Gypsies are those of the blacksmith and tinker, the tinner of iron, makers of winnowing sieves, cattle doctors, and fortune-tellers; they are also workers in gold, and forge the current coins of Persia and Turkey. Others are Zíngar (saddle-makers); and Newbold adds, evidently without sufficient basis: “Hence the[Pg 218] Zinganeh, a Kurdish tribe who are supposed to be of Gypsy origin, the Italian, Spanish, and German word for Gypsy, Zingari, etc.” Finally, they are vendors of charms and philters, conjurers, dancers, mountebanks, and carvers of wooden bowls.

The professors of these arts wander about in separate bands; but they must not be confounded with independent tribes of vagabonds and outcasts of various tribes who lead a roving, thieving Gypsy life, but are not Gypsy. Their Persian neighbours hold them to have a separate origin; but identity of feature and language prove them to be one and the same stock. They divide themselves into two classes, the Kaoli or Ghurabti, the Kurbat of Syria and the Gavbar. Both names are of disputed origin, and even the Persians and the Gypsies are at variance. Kaoli is generally supposed to be a corruption of Kabuli (a man from Kabul). From this old and venerable city, Sir John Malcolm states, the Dakrám-i-Gúr imported into Persia twelve thousand singers and musicians; and the dancing girls of Persia are to this day called Kaoli. Khurbat, of which Kurbat is a corruption, involves, it is said, the idea of wandering. Gavbar is equally obscure; the meaning would be “one who takes pleasure in cattle”; but the Persians call a herdsman “Gan-ban,” never “Gav-bar.” The true Kaoli and Gavbar, who, like their brethren in Sindh, Syria, and Egypt, outwardly profess El Islam, rarely, if ever, intermarry[Pg 219] with Persians, Turks, or Arabs. And whilst the latter regard them as distinct in origin from themselves, in fact as Hindus, would their wretched Pariahs, the Gáo-bár, claim the honour of being Sayfids, or descendants of the Apostle?

§ 4. The Gypsies of Syria.

According to Newbold, the Gypsies of Palestine and South Syria[162] are called Náwer; while in Asia Minor and North Syria they style themselves Kurbat, Rumeh, and Jinganeh (Chinganeh). The signification of Kurbat is doubtful, but is only supposed to mean a wanderer from his own land, a stranger, derived from the Arab root Gharaba, “he went far away.” The two last terms he holds related to the Spanish Romani (?) and Zincali, and the German Zigeuner. They are true to the character of their race; they disdain to be shepherds or tillers of the soil; and they feed like vultures and carrion upon the credulity and superstitions of mankind. Bedawin of the intellectual world, they juggle the simpler sons and daughters of cities by pretended skill in[Pg 220] the occult, more especially chiromancy. Some are dancers and minstrels, while others vend charms, philters, and poisons. Like their English brethren, the men are profound adepts in horseflesh, in donkey-dealing, and in game-snaring; but instead of tinkering pots and kettles, they spin cotton and woollen yarns for their clothes and tents, and they make and mend osier-baskets. This and making wooden boxes were the favourite handicrafts of the Gypsies when they first entered Europe.

In winter they camp on the outskirts of large towns, in a sort of half tent, half hut, which is readily removed. During the fine months they go forth into the plains or mountains, where they affect tents or ruins, but never far from the haunts of their prey, mankind. Their migrations, if regular, are not of a great extent; and they never wholly forsake a country unless driven away by absolute persecution.

Shaykh Rasscho, the head of the Aleppine Gypsies, and responsible for their poll tax, informed Newbold that his tribe was divided into thirty houses, of whose names he could only remember twenty-eight. It is not material to give these names, but they are evidently Muslim names of men who probably belonged to “heads of houses.” The old Gypsy declared that Kurbat, Nawar, Rumeli, and Chinganeh were all of the same family, and had lived in Syria and Asia Minor since the creation.

These people in no way differ physically from the[Pg 221] European tinkers. They have the same slender, well-knit figures, rather below middle size, tawny skins, rather prominent cheekbones, and straight black hair. The facial angle is rather Hindu and Tatar than Turkoman, and they have the Hindu’s long horse-tail hair. Dark eyes are not invariable; in the mountains of Antioch the colour is sometimes grey or blue, and the same occurs occasionally among the Arabs of Petra and Palmyra, among the Syrians, the Zebeks, and other races of Asia Minor. A great mixture of blood is the cause. The Zebeks of Smyrna have now been deputed to represent the bandit regular troops of Turkey as opposed to the bandit police. The Asiatic Gypsy has also that peculiar indescribable appearance and expression of eye which is so strongly developed in the Romá of Morocco and Moorish Spain, “a feature which, like the brand on the forehead of the first murderer, stamps this marked race over the whole globe, and when once observed is never forgotten. The ‘Evil Eye’ is not the least of the powers with which this people is superstitiously invested; and if there be any truth in the overstrained (?) doctrines of animal magnetism, one could not possibly frame to the imagination an eye so well calculated, so intense a magnetic force.”[163]

[Pg 222]

These Gypsies have never been seen to pray or perform any religious rite; some of their elders, like the Druzes and other Syrian tribes, circumcise their children, and conform to the exterior observances of El Islam.

Shaykh Rasscho could repeat with sundry mistakes the Arabic Faith Formula, omitting the second half, “Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah.” He said that he and his tribe acknowledged one supreme, everlasting, omnipotent Being, and believed in an existence after death, a state of reward and punishment connected with metempsychosis. He denied the charges made against the Kurbat by Syrians, Muslims, and Christians that they worshipped the stars or the creative principle under a symbol. He also denied that they abhorred the eel and the celebrated black fish of the Antioch Lake, like the Jews, to whom the Mosaic Law—which, by-the-bye, is equally binding upon Muslims—makes it unclean, because it lacks fins and scales.[164] Newbold, however, was assured that the Kurbat, who, like the India Pariahs, are the flayers of animals dying a natural death, devour the carcases of all animals except the man and the hog.

According to the Turks and Syrians, the Kurbat girls are not so chaste as their European sisters;[Pg 223] yet they wear till marriage the “lacto diklo,” a certain cloth, in token and in pledge of spotless virginity, which the bridegroom alone is permitted to take off. The women dress like the lower orders in Syria; but they affect more ornaments of silver and brass, ear-and nose-rings, armlets and bracelets, anklets and bangles. They spin, take care of the poultry, ducks, cats, and children, and cook exactly like the English Gypsy women. Especially they tell fortunes, which practice, confined to a certain caste but forbidden to others, seems to be a kind of sacerdotalism.

The Kurbat, like their brethren all the world over, have no written characters or symbols for letters or words. Their Shaykh told Newbold that, although they themselves could not write, two men in the tribe could write. As, however, neither the men nor specimens of their writing were produced, the inference drawn from this, and other similar inquiries, was that “the written characters, or symbols, of their language, or rather jargon, have either been lost, or are known to only a few, who superstitiously keep them secret.”[165] In the bazars of Syria they speak Arabic or Turkish; at home they use their own tongue.

The following scanty list of Kurbat words was obtained viva voce from the Aleppo tribes, and[Pg 224] were subsequently checked by comparison with the tribe near Antioch:

Vocabulary: Kurbat-Duman.
Motheraidaaida and ana.
Natural Objects.
Airvál and váikannad hává.
The earthbar, ard (Arab.) or turrabar.
Waterpánihou (Pers. áb, áo).
Lighttshekar and aidinlik.
Seadúnguz (Turk.)daíreh and dúnguz.
Mountainthull (At. tall)ghiella.
A springkhánikháni.
Milkkír (Sanak. Pers.)and lebben (Ar.)shir (pure Persian).
Barleyjou (jau)jou.
Nightarátshou (Pers. shub, shao).
[Pg 225]Onionlussun, piyazpiyáz.
Dhurra (Holcus, Sorghum)akar.
Animals, etc.
A harekunderkunder.
Horseghora or aghoraasp.
Bullgrouf, or maia górumeshjúk.
Pigdónguz (Turk.)dónguz.
Camelaubba, ashtashtur.
Crowkíl, hashzeik and tánuksereh.
Snakesánb, sámpmarr (Pers.).
Parts of the Human Body.
Fingeranglú, ángulpechi.
Handkustúm, kustúrdast.
Eyeakki and ánkhijow.
Hairvál or bálkhalluf.
Earkán and kannirpríúk.
Kneelúlúk, chokyúmkoppaku.
Headsir, chirmurrás.
Miscellaneous Nouns.
A wellastal, chálchál.
An eggánóheili.
A ringangúshteridastúri.
A shipghemmi, durongayeghemmi.
[Pg 226]Boatshátúrshátúr.
Warlagísh, káwyekáwye.
A Christiankuttúr (dog?)nosaru (Nazarene).
DoorKápi (Turk.)kapi.
Tentcháder (Pers.)cháder.
Ropekundórikundóri and sijúm.
Bookkitálkitáh, mushulleh.
Villagedeh, diyárdeh, diyár.
Bridgekienpri (Turk.)kienpri.
Housekuri or kirimálá.
Lovemankamri and kamrikamri.
Monthmuh, masviha, mas.
Yeardas di mas, varras or barrasdeh di mar or dah di viha.
Personal and Possessive Pronouns.
Minemaki or man kimaki or man ki.
Thineto ki or toi kito ki or toi ki.
Hishui kihui ki.
Cardinal Numbers.
Oneek.The Duman is the
Twodi.same, except sih for
Threeturrun.“three,” and deh for
Fourchar or shtar.“ten.”
[Pg 227]Sevenheft.
Ninena or nu.
Elevendas ek.
Twelvedas di.
Thirteendas turrun.
Fourteendas char.
Fifteendas penj.
Sixteendas shesh.
Seventeendas heft.
Eighteendas hesht.
Nineteendas na.
Twentyvíst or bíst.
Twenty-onevíst ek.
Twenty-two, etc.víst di, etc.
Sixtyturrun víst.
Seventyturrun víst das.
Eightychár víst.
Ninetychár víst das.
One hundredsad.
Two hundreddi sad.
A thousandhazar.
Sicknumshtibímár, ruár.
Greatdurónkay, burromázin.
Smalltúróntay, thorankichúchúk (Pers. kuchik).
Blackkálá, kálokáni, shippia.
Redlorey, loleykunnu.
Yellowzardzara, kulp.
[Pg 228]Hottotteykhunney.
A littlethorákiennika.
Hereveshli, itan, idhurbúndeh.
To come} imperativepa.
To gojo.
To eatkhm} imperativekhám.
To drinkpiúnpiúm.
To bringnánwinni.
To tell fortunefálwunnakerim.

[The above list is printed exactly as written by Burton; but it has been found impossible to verify it from other sources.]

§ 5. The Gypsies of the Haurán, South-Eastern Syria.

In January, 1871, I accompanied the Damascus Pilgrim Caravan some marches; and at Mazáríb in the Haurán, the well-known station near which Ali Beg el Abbasi, the Spaniard, was poisoned, I found three Gypsy tents. The inmates called themselves Nawar, a popular term throughout the country. In the same way as the Romá of Spain affected to be devout Christians “living in a peaceable Catholic manner,” so the head of the little party I discovered insisted upon all his people being born Muslims, evidently disliking the suspicion that they belonged[Pg 229] to the “obsolete faith,” Christianity, with which the ignorant faithful confused all later creeds. (These people thus saved themselves from exile when Sultan “Báyezíd” expelled all Gypsies from the Ottoman Empire.) In proof of his assertion he recited a verse of the Koran with peculiar twang. The headquarters of the tribe and the abode of the chief Shaykh were at Ghazzeh, and Muhammad and his “lamentable retinue” had wandered northwards, intending to stay four or five days at Mazáríb—in fact, whilst the caravan was passing. Their peculiar industries were metal-work and making sieves, so they stated; but to these their neighbours added plundering and petty larceny, together with trading in asses and horses. According to my informant, many of his people attend the Haj, doubtless to throw dust into Muslim eyes.

My Syrian companions compared the general look of the dark-skinned, tanned dwellers with the Ashdán, whilst they found a certain resemblance between the Roumís and the women of a certain Arab tribe who camped about near Damascus; but the long, coarse, lank hair, with the duck-tail under curl, the brown white eyes, whose peculiar glance is never to be mistaken, the prominent Tatar-like cheekbones, and the irregular-shaped mouths, suggested Hindu origin and physiognomy. The beard was long and somewhat wavy, possibly the result of inhabiting for generations a hot dry land. Some have gashed[Pg 230] faces like the “Bohemians” when they first entered Paris. Their women, adorned with ear-rings and necklaces, bracelets and anklets of brass and tinsel, were Macbethian witches; and both sexes, like the outcasts of India generally, seem to abhor cold water. I tried them with a few words of Sindhi, introduced into Hindustani, when their faces assumed the normal puzzled expression, and their eyes appeared to close and film over. Of magic and divination they would not speak to a stranger; but they readily gave me the following words: Ag, fire (pure Hindi); Ake, eye (Aukh); Chirí, knife (Churi); Goray, horse (Ghora); Kálá, oracle (pure Hindi); Munám, bread (an Arabic corruption?); Pánay, water (Pani); Zari, mouth (?). Conversing with one another they spoke fluently, and introduced few Arabic words.

The Nawar make their appearance with the Eastern Bedawin, Wuld Ali, and others about the beginning of summer, and occupy huts built of cane, sticks, and mud. The roofs are hides weighted with sticks. They work at getting in the harvests, and they are said to work much harder than the average husbandman. Of course they are charged with plundering poultry. They speak bad Arabic, and talk together in their own tongue; wherefore the peasants affect to despise them. In fact, here, as elsewhere, they constitute a strange sort of commonwealth amongst themselves—wanderers, impostors, and jugglers.

[Pg 231]

§ 6. The Gypsies of Damascus.

Consul E. T. Rogers, my predecessor at Damascus, made the following brief notes, and obliged me with permission to publish them. His long period of residence led him to study subjects which escaped the passing traveller.

“I remember quite distinctly that the Gypsies of Syria, or people resembling them, were divided into three distinct families, not supposed to intermarry, and, as I was told, supplying two distinct languages:

“(1) The Nawar[166] follow the ordinary Gypsy vocations, stealing, fortune-telling, tinkering, attending fêtes and marriages as itinerant musicians, jugglers, etc.;

“(2) The Zutt were generally seen with trained animals, goats, donkeys, etc., performing in the streets; and

“(3) The Barámaki, who give more attention to horse-dealing. They are farriers and blacksmiths, and are generally found on the outskirts of isolated villages, or near the camps of small Arab tribes,[Pg 232] where they let out stallions for breeding purposes. They buy broken-down horses and mares of good breed, and are very clever at doctoring them up and rendering them fit for sale.”

Mr. Consul Rogers also showed me a sketch he had made of a Zutti boy with a performing goat borne upon sections of bamboo—a common sight in India.


[156] Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Officer, etc. (London: Hatchard.)

[157] Colonel Sleeman, however, fails to identify his “Jâts” with the Gypsies.

[158] [“As I have frequently mentioned, all the Gypsies were regularly trained to a peculiar method of their own in handling the cudgel in their battles. I am inclined to think that part of the Hungarian sword exercise at present practised in our cavalry is founded upon the Gypsy manner of attack and defence, including even the direct thrust to the front, which the Gypsies perform with the cudgel.”—Simson, A History of the Gypsies.]

[159] Inadmissible, because there are Afghan Jats.

[160] [Balochistan, Balochis., etc., sic Hughes.]

[161] A celebrated Beloch tribe which considers itself the flower of the nation.

[162] [“Bishop Pococke, prior to 1745, mentions having met with Gypsies in the northern part of Syria, where he found them in great numbers, passing for Mahommedans, living in tents or caravans, dealing in milch cows when near towns, manufacturing coarse carpets, and having a much better character than their relations in Hungary or England” (Simson).]

[163] The Spaniards describe this peculiarity of the race, the remarkably brilliant eye, as opposed to the small fat-lidded organ of the Jew and the pig’s eye of the Chinaman.

[164] “And whatsoever hath not fins and scales ye may not eat; it is unclean unto you” (Deut. xiv. 10).

[165] The same is the case with the Bedawin tribal marks.

[166] The tribal name in Syria is Nawar. During two years’ residence and long travelling I never heard the terms “Dumi” and “Zutt.” The latter also escaped a most careful observer, Captain Newbold. As regards that officer’s distinction between Jat and Jât, he heard the former term from me at Karachi in 1848 when he looked over my Grammar and Vocabulary, while he borrowed Jât from Captain Sleeman and others who have written on the Panjab with perceiving that the two tribes are one and the same.

[Pg 233]



§ 1. The Egyptian Ghajar or Ghagar

If there is anything persistent in Gypsy tradition, it is the assertion that the Gypsies originally came from the banks of the Nile—that Egypt, in fact, gave them a local habitation and a name. Yet, curious to say, this is the country, and the only country, where a tribe of the Romá, preserving the physiognomy and the pursuits of its ancestors, has apparently lost its old Aryan tongue, or rather has exchanged it for a bastard argot, mostly derived from Arabic.[167] Nor does this phenomenon seem to be of modern date. A very rare Italian comedy of the middle sixteenth century, La Cingana, pronounced “Tchingana,” was expected to yield treasures of philological lore; but on investigation it proved that the Gypsies spoke only a corrupt Arabic.

[Pg 234]

The following pages are mostly taken from the well-known work Aegypten, etc. (Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1860), by the famous Orientalist, Alfred von Kremer. As will be seen, he made a careful study of the “Zigeuner” or “Aegypten,” the “Ghagar”; whereas these interesting families of the Gypsy race, a people of wanderers, who have nowhere a house, and who have everywhere a home, are most perfunctorily treated of by Lane.

“On the banks of the Nile,” says Von Kremer, whose words I shall now quote, as in other places, “the Ghagar men, like the Polloi of Herodotus, are tinkers, ape-leaders, rope-dancers, and snake-charmers; whilst the women are Áhnahs, prostitutes, and fortune-tellers. They are very numerous; they trade in asses, horses, and camels, and, as pedlars (Baddaah), they manage almost all the petit commerce of the country. The Ghagar buy goods wholesale in Cairo, and frequent the two annual fairs of Tantá; that of May was instituted about 1853, and entitled the Maulid El Shilkáni (birth-festival of the Shaykh El Shilkáni), who is buried some three hours’ march from Beni Suef. Thus they not unfrequently become rich.

“The Háwi[168] (snake-charmers) and the snake-eaters[Pg 235] (Rifaijjeh) live at Cairo; and many travellers have seen the disgusting spectacle without suspecting that the Dervish’s frock covered the ‘tinkler.’ These classes are useful to the naturalist, as they have always a supply of live or dead serpents, with and without poison-fangs, lizards, uromastix, jerboas, jackals, wolves, ferrets (Stinkthiere), and so forth. They find and catch serpents with surprising dexterity: armed with a bit of palm frond to tap the walls and ceilings, and with a pipe whose tones draw the reptiles from their hiding-places, they rarely fail to make captures, as the older houses of Cairo are mostly haunted by harmless snakes. This proceeding of course awes the ignorant, and none dare to engage a room when the Háwi has declared it to be snake-possessed.

“The term ‘Ghagar’ or ‘Ghajar’ is general; the people, according to their own account, are divided into tribes, who all, however, represent themselves to be pure Arabs and wandering immigrants from the West.[169] The date of this movement is apparently unknown; but its reality is confirmed by the fact that all, without exception, belong to[Pg 236] the Maliki school, prevailing in Morocco and in North-West Africa. They are vagrants by profession, and obtain written permission to travel, either from the police or from the Guild Shaykh of the Rifai Dervishes.

“The most numerous tribe everywhere in Egypt is the Ghawázi;[170] in every city, town, and village there are representatives of these arch-seductresses, whose personal beauty makes them dangerous. They call themselves Baramaki,[171] and derive themselves from the Persian Barmekides, the historical house ruined and annihilated by the Khalif Harun-er-Raschid. Yet they are very proud of their Bedawin descent; and they lead the lives of the sons of the desert, dwelling in tents, which they carry from fair to fair. The[Pg 237] maidens are dancers, the old women spae-wives;[172] the girls rarely marry before securing a competency, and they often take their slaves to husband. The Gháziyah’s goodman is generally nothing more than a servant, who brings her new acquaintances, and who pipes or drums when she dances. There are cases of these girls marrying village chiefs; and their after-lives are as correct as their youth was dissolute (compare p. 145, Burckhardt’s Arabic Proverbs: London, 1830). The Ghawázi speak the Gypsy jargon which is in use amongst all the other tribes.

“The Gypsies of the Sa'íd (Upper Egypt), who call themselves ‘Saáideh,’ have purely Asiatic, not African, features, with dark brown skins, piercing black eyes, and lank hair, also black. The women tattoo their lips, hands, and bosoms generally in blue, wear heavy brass ear-rings, and hang round their necks strings of blue and red beads. They divine by muscle-shells, broken bits of glass, coloured stones as agates and jaspers, pieces of stained wax, and so forth, carried upon the shoulders in a kirbah, or bag, generally of gazelle-skin. After taking her seat on the mat or carpet, the woman empties her sack, and, choosing one article which shall represent the person who pays, draws her revelations from the grouping. Money is required at various stages of the process; and at the end the[Pg 238] Gypsy presents some bits of stone or coloured wax by way of charms to her employer.[173]

“These people may be seen in the streets of Cairo, dressed like the Felláhah (peasant woman), in taubs, or long shirts of home-made indigo-dyed cotton, but lacking the shintiyán (drawers) and the burka' (nose-bag). Their features at once distinguish them from the Muslims and the Copts; and they are noted, moreover, by the sheep-skin or gazelle-skin thrown, besides the bag, over their shoulders. They frequent the bazars, and stroll about the principal thoroughfares of the great towns, especially in summer-time, as the Nile begins to rise; and their favourite cries are ‘Nibejjin-ez-zein!’ (We show the good, i.e. luck), ‘Ta'ál! shuf el Bakht’ (Come and see your fortunes), and ‘Nidmor el Ghaib!’ (We find the lost).

“The capital contains a large company of Ghagar women, who speculate upon public credulity; and their quarter is the Hosh Bardak, once a fine quarter, now a squalid hole behind that noble pile the Sultan Hasan Mosque. I visited it in November, 1877, and found the courts still occupied. The people, tinkers and blacksmiths, who sell ear-rings, bracelets, amulets,[Pg 239] and other metal articles, exactly resembled Fellahs to a superficial glance. Apparently they had forgotten their favourite craft, fortune-telling. Moreover, they did not like the term Ghagar. There is, or rather was, another colony at Masr el 'Atíkah (Babylon or Old Cairo). A third used to camp chiefly during winter and spring near a village on the right of the Cairo-Shubrá road, and I believe they are still there. Their rivals, the Maghribí (North-West African) magicians, and those from the central regions, of which Darfur[174] supplies the greatest number, are known by their sitting in the streets and performing upon cards or sand.[175] Predicting by marks drawn on the sand (Ilm el Raml) is old in the East, and plays a great part in the Arabian Nights.

“Other tribal names are H'aleb or Helebi (Aleppine), Schah'āini, and Tatar (T'at'ar). The men of the last class, almost all farriers or tinkers, are also termed A'wwādāt or Mua'merrātijjeh.[176] Amongst the other Ghagar there are many smiths, who make[Pg 240] the brass rings worn on the fingers and arm-joints, in the ears and nose, and around the neck.

“The monkey-leaders so numerous in Cairo, especially about the Ezbekijjeh quarter,[177] the Kuraydati,[178] so called from Kird, an ape, also belong to the Gypsy tribes; and these mostly supply the Bahlawán,[179] gymnasts or strong-men, athletes, and especially wrestlers, who frequent fairs and festivals. During the 'Id ed Dahijjeh[180] they swarm in the capital.[181]

“All these subdivisions speak the same Rothwelsch, or ‘Thieves’ Latin,’ which they call El Sím. It explains the idea prevailing in the middle of the last century; namely, that the Gypsy language was an invented tongue; a ‘Germania,’ as the Spaniards say; a conventional jargon; a jail-bird’s speech, varying with every horde.[182] The origin and full[Pg 241] import of the term Sím are undetermined; but it is understood to mean something hidden or secret;[183] and it is applied to the impure and gilt ‘gold-wires’ imported from Austria. It is said, however, that the Bahlawán above use another speech; of this I have been unable to collect proofs, nor do I hold the information wholly credible.”

The following vocabulary was compiled by Von Eremer at Cairo, where he persuaded many of the Ghagar to frequent the Consulate, especially Muhammad Merwán, who pompously styled himself “Shaykh of all the Snake-charmers of Egypt.” He also consulted many Gypsy women from Upper Egypt; these appeared to speak a somewhat different[Pg 242] dialect, and the words taken from them are distinguished by an S. The numerals, all save one corrupted Arabic, are as follows:


Evidently Von Kremer’s numerals are altered just enough to be hardly intelligible in a sentence hurriedly spoken; whilst Newbold’s are Persian and Hindi.[185]

[Pg 243]


[Pg 248]


“From these philological facts,” says Von Kremer, in conclusion, “I draw no inference, the material being perhaps too scanty to warrant deductions. It is very regrettable that the old original words are dropping out of use, being replaced by a cant or[Pg 250] jargon from Arabic according to a purely conventional plan, a changing of the ending, like Kiblas for Kibla. It is also evident that the Ghagar have sunk in favour of the vernacular their own peculiar names for colours, for the sun and moon, for earth and fire, and for other terms of universal use.”

In Newbold’s vocabulary, on the other hand, we have distinct signs of an Eastern, not a Western provincialism, as the author says: “There is a marked difference in the three dialects, or jargons; that of the Ghagar most resembles the language of the Kurbat, or Gypsies of Syria. The Gypsy dialect in Borrow’s work contains more words of Indian origin than the Helebi and Nawar jargon. The Helebi comprises a large number of words of Arabic root, indicating a long sojourn in Yemen, or other parts of Arabia. Its numerals, which are also used by the Ghagar when secrecy is required, bear strong marks of Eastern, or Persian, origin. Usually the Helebis adopt the vulgar Arabic numerals in use throughout Egypt.[201] ... The numerals of the Nawars are evidently of Persian origin.... All the tribes disclaim having any written character peculiar to themselves,[202] and it is rare to find one among them[Pg 251] who can write the common Arabic of the country. I have been informed, however, by a respectable Copt that they have secret symbols which they sedulously conceal. It seems to me probable that the whole of these tribes had one common origin in India and the adjacent countries on its western frontier, and that the difference in the jargons they now speak is owing to their sojourn in the various countries through which they have passed. It is certain that the Gypsies are strangers and outcasts in the land which has given them a name, and which has long been supposed to have given them birth.”

In Sindh I met Captain Newbold, and, assisted by my late friend James Macleod, then Collector of Customs at Karachi, supplied him with a short vocabulary. His studies gained breadth by noting the manners and habits of a singular wandering tribe called the Jats, whose remarkable physical appearance reminded him strongly of the Gypsies of Egypt and Syria. He saw a tribe living in tents and rude movable huts in the wood of Balut, near Jujah, between Karachi and the Indus. Hence he drew the following conclusions:

“Since my visit to the banks of the Indus, I am more than ever convinced that from the borders of this classic river originally migrated the horde of Gypsies that are scattered over Europe, Asia, and the northern confines of Africa. The dialects spoken by the numerous tribes which swarm upon the[Pg 252] territories adjacent to the Indus, from the sea to the snowy mountains of Himalaya and Tatary, have, with those spoken by the Gypsies, a certain family resemblance, which, like their physical features, cannot be mistaken. I find it impossible at present to place my hand on any particular tribe, and say, ‘This is the parent stock of the Gypsies’; but as far as my researches have gone, I am rather inclined to think that this singular race derives its origin, not from one alone, but from several tribes that constitute the family of mankind dwelling on, or adjacent to, the banks of the Indus.”

Captain Newbold’s studies in Egypt, where he was assisted by the Shaykhs of the Romá, complete those of Von Kremer, and prove that the latter had chiefly noticed the Ghawázi and Ghagar families. The former would divide the vagrants into two—the Helebis and their wives, the Fehemis (wise women), who practise palmistry and divination, and look down with supreme contempt upon their distant kinsmen the Ghagar or Ghajar, whose better halves are musicians and rope-dancers. The Helebis, who evidently derive their name from H'abel (Aleppo), claim to be derived from El Yemen, and declare that in the early history of their race a great king persecuted and expelled them. The tribe then wandered over Syria, Egypt, Persia, and Europe under some brother-chiefs, whose tombs are still held holy to this day. The Helebis confined their[Pg 253] wandering to the Rif or Nile Valley and the Delta. They rarely go deep into the desert, except when they sally forth to sell cattle medicines, or to buy jaded beasts from the returning pilgrim caravans, and a few perform the pilgrimage in order to win the title of Hagi.

The Shaykhs speak of four tribes scattered about Egypt, and each comprising fifty families, a number of which Newbold had reason to believe is much and designedly underrated. According to the Helebis, the sworn chiefs obtained from the sovereign of Egypt the right of wandering unmolested about the country, and the privilege of exemption from taxes. Muhammad Ali Pasha compelled them, however, to pay a poll tax, which accounts for their numbering only two hundred instead of perhaps five thousand families. In 1847 the pasha had ordered the people not residing in their native villages to return to them, causing great distress and scenes of violence and misery. The Gypsies took the hint, struck their tents by night, decamped bag and baggage, and disappeared altogether. They are expert in disguises, and do not yield the palm to European brethren in cunning and deception. Remarkably intelligent and quick in gaining information, they would make capital spies in an enemy’s camp. The women during their halts on the outskirts of towns and villages, and in running about the streets, bazars, and coffeehouses, pick up with wonderful tact and accuracy all[Pg 254] requisite information concerning the private history of those on whom they may be expected to exercise their vocation of fortune-telling. In this secret intelligence department they are aided by the men, who, it is said, are numerous in official employment, although unknown to be Gypsies. At all events they mingle with residents on the spot, and with strangers in the caravanserais and other public places.

The Helebis, leading a vagabond, wandering life, usually pitch tents or portable huts on the outskirts of towns and large villages. The former resemble in all points those of the pauper Bedawin, and contained little beyond wretched horse and ass furniture, mats, cooking-pots, and similar necessaries. Everything denotes externally the most squalid poverty, except only the enormous mass of fowl, mutton, and savoury vegetables seething in the large caldron suspended from the familiar crossed sticks over the embers of a large fire, thus proving to more senses than one that the care of the flesh-pots of ancient Egypt has not devolved upon a race insensible to their charms. All deny the common charge of eating dogs, cats, and other meat held impure by Muslims.

The male Helebis are ostensibly dealers in horses and asses, camels and black cattle. They pretend to great skill in the veterinary art; but their character for honesty does not stand high with those who know[Pg 255] them best. Without known religion, priests, or houses of prayer, this tribe, like the Ghagar and all others, conform to El Islam, or to the predominant religion whenever policy or convenience demands. They bury their dead, but have no fixed places of interment. The men will marry Ghagar damsels, but will not give their daughters to Ghagar. The zone of chastity is even made, they say, of plaited things like that of the Nubian, and is cut off on the wedding night. The women, though chaste themselves, will act as Mercuries to the Gentile male and female; and they have been charged with sundry indecencies for money. The Muslims and Copts declare that they kidnap children, and they of course swear they do not. The women never intermarry with strangers, and in this respect they are as rigid as the Hindus. They are not remarkable for cleanliness either of person or apparel. In this respect, and in their passion for trinkets of brass, silver, and ivory, they remind one of certain native women of India. Their special privilege is the practice of palmistry and divination. The Fehemi takes the inquirer’s right hand by the finger tips, and bends them gently backward so as to render the lines more visible. She mutters a spell while with all gravity she reads the book of destiny, and then reads the result; of course her hand must be crossed with silver. Palmistry, I must add, is one of the many superstitions to which India gave birth, and all the world over the[Pg 256] lines and mounts and spaces and other distributions of the hands are the same.

Newbold says comparatively little of the Ghagar, who claim to be of the same stock as the Helebis, and who speak of brethren in Hungary, while the original tongue is preserved. Comparatively poor in physical appearance and in vagabond habits, they bear a family resemblance to the Helebis and to the Syrian Kurbat. During the summer months they wander about the cultivated land, and pitch tents and Kaysh. A favourite way of gaining a livelihood is by carrying water-jars, and by singing at the birthday fêtes of saints, etc., during the fine season. In wandering they prefer the towns. In ancient Arabia they have Ghettos, as at Old Cairo and elsewhere.

Being subject to the poll tax, they have an interest in understating their numbers, which can scarcely be less than sixteen thousand. When the publican is abroad, they quietly abscond across the Nile, and take refuge in some village on the skirts of the desert. After paying a first visit to them, which aroused their suspicion, Newbold returned the following day, and to his surprise found the quarter quite deserted. Subsequently, however, a better acquaintance was established.

With few exceptions the Ghagar are all thieves. Ostensibly the men are athletes, monkey-leaders, and mountebanks attending several fairs. They[Pg 257] are also metal-workers and horse-dealers. The women are not allowed to practise palmistry and divination, consequently they are despised by the Fehemis. Many of them are excellent rope-dancers; others are musicians, playing chiefly on the talla, a kind of castanet. They also practise female circumcision upon Muslim girls, bore ears and nostrils, and tattoo lips and chins.

The Nawar of Egypt were hereditary robbers, like certain tribes in India. They were protected and even employed by the Billi tribe of Arabs, and the relations of patron and client were those of the Highland chiefs and the crofters upon their properties. Muhammad Ali Pasha succeeded in taming this lawless tribe, which for generations had given immense trouble to his predecessors, upon the principle of setting a thief to catch a thief. He employed them as police and watchmen upon his country estates, and he allowed them 50 per cent. on property recovered from plunderers brought to justice. Since that time they have seldom broken the law, except at Cairo, where there is less chance of detection. They intermarry with the Fellahin, or Egyptians of the soil, from whom in physique and raiment they can hardly be distinguished. Outwardly they profess Muhammadanism, and they have little intercourse with the Helebis and Ghagar. In 1847 their chief was a certain Shaykh Yusuf, one of the most notorious thieves in Egypt.

[Pg 258]

§ 2. The Gzane of Algeria and Morocco.

This race is interesting because it shows the origin of the Darb el-mendel, the Magic Mirror of Egypt, known to the Hindus as Aujan. It was first noticed in India by the learned Dr. Herklots, who in 1832 published a most valuable volume on the manners and customs of the Hindi Muslims. Unfortunately the British public misjudged its title, and held it to be a cookery-book. The next to notice it was Mr. Lane (Modern Egyptians, Vol. II., chap, xii.) in 1835. He tells us that two Europeans, an Englishman and a Frenchman, learned to induce the phenomenon; and he concludes with the normal deprecatory formula of his age: “Neither I nor others have been able to discover any clue by which to penetrate the mystery; and if the reader be alike unable to give the solution, I hope that he will not allow the above account to induce in his mind any degree of scepticism with respect to other portions of this work.” Since that time the Zoist, the Journal de Magnétisme, and similar publications took up the subject, and traced it from Cornelius Agrippa and Dr. Dee to the most degraded of existing savages, the Australians:

The following is Dr. de Pietra Santa’s account of the two modes of fascination employed by the “magicians” of French Africa (Algiers)[203]:

[Pg 259]

“The first forms part of the baggage of all Arab Gzanes, Gypsies, sorceresses, and fortune-tellers. When one wishes to strike the imagination of the multitude, it is absolutely necessary to find phenomena which are both intelligible to all and which each one can instantly verify for himself. Amongst such there is not one more evident than sleep. It is therefore important for the Gzane, in order to prove in an undeniable manner her moral power and supernatural influence, that she should be able to send to sleep at a given moment the person who has recourse to her occult science. She employs the following means:

“Upon the palm of the hand she describes, with some blackish colouring matter, a circle, in whose centre is marked a spot equally black. After looking fixedly at the latter for a few minutes, the eyes grow heavy, they blink, and the sight is confused; the heaviness is presently succeeded by sleep, and sleep by a sort of insensibility,[204] of which the Gypsy profits to exercise her manœuvres more securely. I give you the simple fact without commentaries; and abjuring any pretensions to determine its importance.

“Let us now pass on to the second mode of fascina[Pg 260]tion. Upon a table covered with a white cloth is placed a bottle, usually filled with water and backed by a small lamp lighted. The subject is comfortably seated on a chair, and told to look at the bright point placed before him at the distance of a few steps. After a few minutes the eyelids grow heavy, then they gradually smile, and sleep is induced. With nervous temperaments palpitation of the heart and headache also manifest themselves.

“In order to give an odour of the supernatural to these phenomena, the Moroccan, Gypsy or Marabout, has a certain quantity of benzoin burnt behind the table; and while the vapour spreads itself through the room, the person undergoing the process falls into a complete state of anæsthesia.”

Borrow mentions in Barbary sundry “sects of wanderers,” which he shrewdly suspects to be Gypsies, and whom he provides with the worst of characters. The first are the “Beni Aros” (?), who wander about Fez, and have their homes in the high mountains near Tetuan. A comely, well-made race, they are beggars by profession, notorious drunkards, addicted to robbery, murder, and effeminate crimes. They claim to be Moors, and their language is Arabic. The second are the “Sidi Hamed au Muza,” so called from their patron saint. In many respects they not a little resemble the Gypsies; but they speak the Shilhah, or a dialect of that tongue. They earn their livelihood by vaulting,[Pg 261] tumbling, and tricks with sword and dagger, to the sound of wild music, which the women, seated on the ground, produce from their uncouth instruments.

§ 3. The Gypsies in Inner Africa.

It is generally believed that the Romá have extended far southwards from Morocco and Barbary. Borrow remarks of the Dar-bushi-fal (fortune-tellers), that if they are not Gypsies, the latter people cannot be found in the country. Numerous in Barbary, they wander during the greater part of the year, pilfering, fortune-telling, and dealing in mules and donkeys. Their fixed villages are known as “Char Seharra,” witch hamlets. They can change the colour of an animal, and transform a white man into a negro black as a coal, after which they sell him as a slave. They are said to possess a peculiar language, which, being neither Arabic nor Shilhah, is intelligible only to their own caste. Borrow often conversed with them; but he neglected to apply his favourite Shibboleth, Pani (water). Their faces are described as exceedingly lean, their skins swarthy, and their legs are reeds; “when they run, the devil himself cannot overtake them.” Their vehicles of divination are oil, a plate full of flour, or a shoe placed in the mouth. They are evil people, and powerful enchanters, feared by the emperor himself.

[Pg 262]

M. Paul Bataillard (Notes et Questions) refers, for information concerning the Gypsies, to the Voyage dans le Nord et dans les Parties Centrales de l’Afrique, the journey of Denham and Clapperton, translated by Eyries and another (Paris, 1826, 3 vols. 8vo). These authors, he says, pretend to assimilate the “Chouâa” Arabs of Bornou with the Gypsies. Indeed, they expressly declare that their Arabic is almost pure Gypsy. This is, however, incompatible with another passage, which declares that these “Chouâas” have imported into Bornou the Arabic, which they speak purely.

I can only find[205] that the women of the Chouâa Arabs are described as “a very extraordinary race, with scarcely any resemblance to the Arabs of the north: they have fine open countenances, with aquiline noses and large eyes; their complexion is a light copper colour; they possess great cunning with their courage, and resemble in appearance some of our best-formed Gypsies in England, particularly the women; and their Arabic is nearly pure Egyptian.” Major Denman afterwards found the “Shouaas of the tribe of Waled Salamat, extending eastward quite as far as the Tchad.” He notes their difference from the Fellalahs, and their practice of sending plundering parties to Mandara. We also hear of their skill in the chase and their use of the spear on horseback.


[167] In Spain this is called “Germania,” which, however, refers not to the true Gypsy, but to the cant slang, or “Thieves’ Latin”; the French argot and the Italian gorgo, a mere farrago, which contained only a few words of Romani.

[168] Lane (chap. xx.), generally so correct, falls, according to Kremer, into an error when he explains Hawi simply by “performer of sleight of hand tricks” (Taschenspieler); the origin of the word, Hayyeh, “a snake,” shows its signification. Amongst the Sinaitic Bedawin almost every tribe has an official called the Hawi, who is supposed to be poison-proof, and to have the power of stanching wounds and curing hurts by his breath. The necessary qualification for this office is that the mother should make her babe swallow, before he has tasted other food, a cake composed of seven barleycorns, seven grains of wheat, a small scorpion, and a hornet, all pounded and mixed together (The Desert of the Exodus).

[169] Algeria as well as Morocco is full of Gypsies, including the 'Aysawí Dervishes.

[170] Gházi (plural Ghawázi) would mean in Arab “one who fights for the Faith,” or “a conqueror of infidels.” Europe has learned this much during the Russo-Turkish war (1877); but our papers ridiculously misused the term “Ghazi Mukhtar,” for Mukhtar Páshá Gházi is worse than any amount of “Sir Smith.” According to some authorities, the Egyptian Gypsies took this title to gratify their Oriental crave for grandiloquence. But, I would remark, in Persian it is synonymous with rope-dancer or courtisan; and perhaps both are derived from the Ghagar “Ghaziyah,” meaning a woman (?).

[171] The origin of the term is a Persian jeu de mots. “Bermek'am” would mean I am a Barmak; Bar-maken, I sup it up. These were the words spoken by Ja'afar the “Barmekide” when his poisoned ring caused the stones upon the arm of the Ommiade Caliph (Abd el Malik) to rattle—a general and popular superstition. It is quite possible that this memorable family belonged to the Gypsy tribe so common in Persia. According to Ibn Khálikán, the first great ancestor was the principal, or the grand prior, of the convent in Balkh called Nan-buhar (young spring), a palpable corruption of Nava bihára, in Sanskrit the “new monastery.”

[172] Hence an Englishman defined the Gypsy religion as “faith in fortune-telling.”

[173] Captain Newbold (p. 288) tells a curious tale of a Fehemi (wise woman), who threw a cowrie into a basin of clear water, and muttered an invocation over it; when the pot began to boil, the shell was shot out—doubtless by some chemical substance—to the distance of several feet. Some of the water accompanied it, with a slight explosion like that of a percussion cap thrown into the fire.

[174] The word should be written Dár-For, the abode or region of the For tribe.

[175] The latter material is that originally used in the Arab Darb el Raml (throwing of the sand), briefly called El Raml (the sand), that is, geomancy.

[176] In conversation Von Kremer quoted the name Sabáijeh, a “broken plural,” of which no singular is known, as alternating with Zutt in old Arab historians. Newbold enumerates among the “distinct classes” of Ghagar the Meddáhín, Gharrádín, Barmekí (Barmekides), Walad Abú Tenná, Bayt el Rífá'í (?), Hemmeli, and Románi (p. 292).

[177] This was written before 1863; in 1877 the old camping-ground of the Uzbeg Tatars had become a kind of Parisian quarter.

[178] Kremer gives “Kurudāti”; the word is generally in the diminutive form Kurayd, a little Kird (baboon).

[179] From the Persian Pahlewán, a brave, a wrestler, an athlete.

[180] Generally written 'Id el Zuhá, the great Meccan festival when the victims are offered.

[181] Their active habits make them a fine race. Newbold says that “one of the most magnificent women he had ever seen in the East” was a Ghagar rope-dancer at the palace of one of the Cairene Beys; he complains only that she had disfigured herself by tattooing her under lip and chin—a practice very common among the Arab women of Syria and Egypt.

[182] At the end of 1763 the Gazette of Vienna printed a letter from the Hungarian captain, Szekely de Doba. The latter related how a Protestant pastor, when studying at Leyden, made the acquaintance of some Malabar youths, who spoke of a province Zingania (of course Zigeuner), and whose language was that of the Gypsies. He made a vocabulary of about a thousand words, and returning home to Almasch or Almas, near Komorn, he found, to his surprise, that the “tinklers” understood them. The Hindustani grammars published in England (1773) and in Portugal (1778) enabled Grellman, Richardson, Marsden, Ludolf, and others to trace the resemblance with a firm hand. See Mayo and Quindalé, who in p. 45 fall into the vulgar error that the “Mongol-Hindustani jargon” began to be used in India only after the Moghol Conquests. These authors declare that when the celebrated Mezzofanti, of Bologna, became deranged in 1832, he never confused Gypsy with his other thirty-two tongues. Borrow’s Translation of St. Luke is also said to have retained several Spanish words from Padre Scio. As regards the “Germania” argot of Spain, a vocabulary was published about the middle of the last century by Juan Hidalgo; and though mostly obsolete, the useless farrago was textually reproduced in the Diccionario de la Academia.

[183] It is usually explained as an abbreviation of Símiyá, a word formed in imitation of Kímiyá (alchemy).

[184] Curious to say, this word is pure Etruscan, and appears in no other language known to me.

[185] Newbold adds:

  • 20, Yuksi or Yeksi; 21, Yirksi wa, etc.
  • 30, Yuksi wa dés (30 and 10); 31, Yuksi wa des wa, etc.
  • 40, Kamáki or Kumáki.
  • 50, Kamáki wa des, etc.
  • 60, Kamáki wa yuksi.
  • 70, Kamáki wa yuksi wa des.
  • 80, Du Kamáki (2 forties).
  • 90, Du Kamáki wa dés.
  • 100, Hel. Bank, Sad (Pers.), or Dúi Kamáki wa yuksi (2 forties + 20); Naw. Beni.
  • 1000, Des Bank (10 hundred); das Sad.

[186] I have marked with a star the words which appear original, or rather unconnected with Arabic. The list is compared with Newbold’s vocabularies, H. (Helebi), G. (Ghagar), N. (Náwer).

[187] They are not likely to have two words for “father,” so A'rub is probably dialectic. Newbold gives the Helebi word Gárúbi; Ghagar, Bálo, Mánsh; Náwer, Báyábí.

[188] The two affixed pronouns—í (my) and ak (thy)—are also pure Arabic.

[189] This form of feminine (opposed to Maia, masculine), Sem'ah, from Sem', is also Arabic. Newbold adds:

  • Wife: H. Kúdah; G. Gaziyeh; N. Gad.
  • Husband: H. El-baráneh; G. Marash; N. Maras. Of these the latter two are evidently corrupted from the Sansk. Manushya; Prak. Mánus.
  • Boy: H. Lambún, Sumgun; G. Chabo; N. Sowaiti.
  • Girl: H. Lambúnih, Samgunih; G. Somah, Chabo, or Chai; N. Bubúr.


  • Day: H. Merrakrish; G. Chebish.
  • Rain: H. Matr (Arab.); G. Bursunden (Pers.), Moga; N. Aug. The two latter may be Sansk. Megha, a cloud.
  • Snow: H. Telj (Arab.); G. Gharábi.
  • Cloud: H. Reim (Arab. Ghaym); G. Bárúd.
  • Light: H. and G. Núr.


  • Sheep: H. Hahaiya; G. Bakra (Hind.).
  • Hare: H. Emeb (Arab.); G. Kundu.
  • Cat: H. Ghutta (Arab.); G. Berkuka.
  • Mare: H. Schliyeh; G. Aghorai. The first is the Arabic form of feminine from Sohli, a stallion; the second is Hind.
  • Hog: H. Khangír (Arab.); G. Hallúf (Arab.); N. Segel harmin (?).
  • Crow: H. Grab (Arab.); G. Mentuf, Kil.
  • Snake: H. Tábun (Arab. Thu'ubán?); G. Samp (Hind.).
  • Fish: H. Semek (Arab.); G. Machchiyeh (Hind.).


  • Sea: H. Buhr (Arab.); G. Pani (Sansk.).
  • A Spring (fount): H. Ain (Arab.); G. Moga (Mayet, corr. Arab?).
  • A Well: H. Bir (Arab.); G. Ghibini.

[193] Milk: H. Millanish, Helwah (Arab. Halwá, the sweet?); G. Rágún, Rághebi, Chúti; N. Rawán.

[194] In this, as in other cases, the Sa'idi dialect appears to throw back the accent.


  • Barley: H. Muharish; G. Jan (Sansk. Pers.).
  • Dhurra-grain: H. Meghidhurra; G. Darineh.
  • Rice: H. Ruz (Arab. Pers.); G. Barnu, Fukiyeh, Udbukh (i.e. tetbukh, cook thou!?).
  • Bread: H. Shemun, Mushmul; G. Márey; N. Nan (Pers.).


  • Finger: H. Sabua (Arab.); G. Augushti (Hind.).
  • Neck: H. Rekl (Arab.); G. Sheriti.
  • Knee: H. Ruggal or Kumayhtu; G. Shang.
  • Teeth: H. Sinnan (Arab.), Suvan; G. Dándi (Hind.), Sinnam.
  • Flesh: H. Udwan; G. Maas (Hind.).
  • Perd, mas.: H. Lib; G. Kiab.
  •  " neut.: H. Budi; G. Minchiá; N. Bud.
  • Belly: H. Batu (Arab.); G. Burri; N. Bosah.

[197] Ring: H. Khatim (Arab.); G. Augústir (Hind.).

[198] The terminal, amrak, may be they work, business, property; in fact, synonymous with the vulgar bitá'k.

[199] Every Arabic dialect has some euphonistic form of expressing fire; the simple word Nar would be inauspicious, suggesting the idea of hell-fire.

[200] Newbold adds:


  • God: H. Allah; G. Allah; N. Allah.
  • Devil: H. Shaytan (Arab.); G. Iblis (Arab.); N. Harmir (Harami?).
  • Christian: H. Ghiraie; G. Balámu.
  • Gentile, i.e. non-Gypsy: H. Hushno; G. Chaju; N. Kegháneh.
  • Luck (fortune): H. Bakht (Pers.); G. Búji; N. Sohri.
  • Poison: H. Sun (Arab. Sum?); G. Zúngali; N. Mubahah (Arab. the permitted?).
  • Love: all use Hebb (Habb, Arab.).
  • Harlot: H. Beskanan; G. Besignan, Gabu; N. Gad el-haram.
  • Zone of chastity: H. Hug; G. Dilk; N. Fowi (Fútah, a napkin).
  • Name: H. Ism (Arab.); G. Rubon (i.e. your name); N. Minas.
  • Year: H. Shahr (Arab.); G. Yuk Sadísh.
  • King: H. Dazi, Zilk; G. El-reibo, el-burro (Hind. Bará, gnat?).
  • City or village: H. Gavuti (Hind.); G. Gáv (Hind.); N. Desi (Hind.).
  • Bridge: all Juntava (error or corruption of Kantaral?).
  • House: H. Nizb; G. Kír (Ghar, Hind?).
  • Door: H. Bál (Arab.); G. Kápú (Turk.).
  • Rope: H. Hebl (Arab.); G. Dori (Hind.).
  • Paper: all use Warkeh (Arab).
  • Book: all use Kitáb (Arab.).


  • Sick, tired: H. Tabau (Arab.).
  • Bad: H. Battál (Arab.); G. Bilbey.
  • Good: H. Tayyib (Arab.); G. Sasho (pure Gypsy).
  • Great: H. Kabir (Arab.); G. Bara (Hind.); N. Bari.
  • Small: H. Sughayyar (Arab.); G. Thoranki (Hind.).
  • Black: H. Aswadish (corr. Arab.); G. Kálo (Hind.).
  • White: all use Alyar (Arab.).
  • Cold: H. Melladish (corr. Arab.); G. Memudrih.
  • Hot: H. Mahrarish (corr. Arab.); G. Garu (Pers.).


  • Much: H. Ketír (Arab.); G. Bhút (Hind.).
  • A little: H. Meframrush; G. Theráki, Thukrání (corr. Hind.).
  • Enough: H. Keffi (Arab.); G. Bas (Pers.), Nunniya.
  • Here: H. Hene (Arab.); G. Syde.
  • There: H. Hunáh (Arab.); G. Aurileh.

[201] This proves one of two things: first, that the Gypsies left India before the Hindus had borrowed a Western character from the Phœnicians; or two, the Gypsies were a low caste, which, like the Pariahs and others, ignore writing.

[202] When travelling, for instance, they place on prominent rocks and remarkable trees pebbles, bits of thread, and similar articles, showing the road they have taken.

[203] Letter written from Algiers, and published in the Union Médicale of January 2, 1860.

[204] This is evidently the hypnotism so called by Dr. John Braid, of Manchester, the Braidism of Continental writers. The discovery was made in 1841. See Neurypnology, or the Rationale of Nervous Sleep, Considered in Relation with Animal Magnetism. About 1849, profiting by the studies of Doctors J. B. Dods and Philips, a certain Mr. Stone introduced into England a modification of hypnotism, which he absurdly called Electro-biology; his zinc and copper discs were the civilized succedanea of the ink-blot.

[205] Narrative of Travels in 1822-24. The folio edition shows two women with the crisp African hair.

[Pg 263]



§ 1. The Gypsy in Hungary

The Czigany, as they are called, appeared early in the fifteenth century, and were supposed to have fled from Moghol persecution. King Sigismund, father of the heroic John Hunyadi,[206] allowed them to settle in his realm, and the law called them “mere peasants.” In 1496 Bishop Sigismund at Funf-Kirchen ordered iron cannon-balls from the Gypsies to be used against the Turkish invaders of Hungary; and he was doughtily supported against the Turks by King Zindelo, Dukes Miguel and Andrew, by Counts Manuel and Juan, by the “noble knight” Pedro, and by the chief Tomas Polgar.

[Pg 264]

The reforms of 1848 found them in a state of slavery, adscripti glebœ, who could not legally take service away from their birthplace. Their condition was worse than that of the Wallach peasant, who says of his haughty Magyar Magnate, “A lord is a lord born in hell.” Some forty years ago Mr. Paget[207] says Gypsies were exposed for sale in the neighbouring province of Wallachia. In the Hungary of the bad old régime the relation of the landowning peasant, however oppressive might have been his obligations, was never that of master and slave. If the agriculturist chose to give up his session-lands, the ground he occupied by hereditary use, he could go where he pleased. Practically this was rare; it was equivalent to giving up his means of subsistence, and he preferred the tax-paying while all the nobles went free, and the odious burden of the “Robot” corvée, or forced labour, two and in some cases three days a week. Hence he hated the military conscription, the only means of civilizing him established by Austria in 1849.[208] But the Czigany, however deep-rooted is his love of liberty, never[Pg 265] preserved the modicum of freedom to which the Hungarian clung.

Though now legally free, the Czigany’s deep respect for everything aristocratic attaches him to the ruling caste. In Transylvania “Magyar” is a distinctive term for class as well as race. The Czigany who do not assimilate with the thrifty Saxons prefer to be mere hangers-on at the castle of the Hungarian Magnate, as in England of old they take his name; and they profess the same faith—Catholic, Protestant, or nothing. Notwithstanding their incurable propensity for pilfering, they are trusted as messengers and carriers; like the old Spanish arriero, they form a general “parcels-delivery company.” And they are ubiquitous, for never a door is left unlocked lest a Gypsy will slip in and steal. In old days they were most efficient spies upon Christian and Muslim, and they trimmed between the twain to their own advantage. They also made the best of smugglers; they dug for treasure, and they washed for paillettes of gold the Transylvanian affluents of the Danube. At times they set out upon plundering excursions, which extended to Italy, France, and Spain. They are still accused of incendiarism by the Wallachs, who apparently thus seek to hide the malpractices resulting from their inordinate lust of revenge, the ugly survival of the savage character. These people forget that “curses, like chickens, come home to[Pg 266] roost,” and will play with fire even when it damages themselves.

The settled Gypsy’s dwelling is even more primitive than the Wallachs. The hut is formed, like the African’s, with plaited sticks, and swish is plastered into the gaps. Before the hut entrance often stands the nomad cart, two wheeled and tilted, and always stands the tripod supporting the iron pot—a sight, like the scarlet cloak, once familiar to us, but now disappeared from England. In time the earth is grass-grown; and as the hovel is rarely more than seven feet high, it looks rather like an exaggerated ant-hill or a tumulus than a habitation for man. Yet the ragged inmate, whose children go about in nature’s garb, is clever with his hands. He is the best blacksmith in the country, and he fashions simple wooden articles for household use with dexterity and even with taste. Despite his wretched surroundings, he keeps his good spirits, he sings to his work, and he plays the violin in his leisure hours.

I need hardly repeat the commonplaces about the music of the Hungarian Gypsy, and the legends concerning Catalani and Liszt. Strolling bands, in civilized attire, and performing upon divers instruments, are and have been for some time well known to the capitals of Europe. So great is the contrast between their art and their surroundings, that more than one traveller has suspected this mar[Pg 267]vellous gift of pathetic strains to be a “language brought with them in their exile from another and a higher state of existence.” I find in it only the marriage of Eastern with Western melody, the high science of the former, so little appreciated by the ignorant Anglo-Indian, with the perfect practice of the latter.

Though utterly unalphabetic, these people have a strange power of stirring their hearers’ hearts. They play by ear, in style unsurpassed by the best training, the violin, the ’cello, and the zither, with which London is now familiarized. The airs, often their own, tell a thrilling national tale in a way that makes an indelible impression upon the stranger. Now it is the expression of turmoil, battle, and defeat, followed by a long wail of woe, of passionate grief, mostly in the minor key. Then it suddenly passes to the major in a wild burst of joy, of triumph, of exultation, of rapture, which carries along with it the hearer in irresistible sympathy. It has all the charm of contrast; of extremes, excitement and depression; subjection and deliverance, delight and despair. The strains rob the excitable Hungarian of his reason; he drinks in the music till he is drunk.

The Gypsy is capable of a noble self-sacrifice, and Mr. Crosse tells a tale which proves it. He passed in a wild, romantic glen a steep, overhanging rock known throughout the land as the “Gypsy’s stone.[Pg 268]” About the middle of the last century, it is supposed, there was a famine; and the Czigany, poorer than their neighbours, were reduced to beg or starve. When turned away by certain hard-hearted villagers, one poor fellow refused to go, declaring that his children were dying of hunger. “Then,” said one of the boors in a mocking tone, “I will give your family a side of bacon, if you will jump from that rock.” “You hear his promise!” cried the Czigan, appealing to the crowd. Without another word he rushed from amongst them, clambered up the rock, and took the leap, which was—death.

This is exactly what we might expect under the circumstances from a Hindu. The system of Badli—in plain English, paying a man to “take blame” and to be hanged for you—is the best proof.

It should be remembered that a Hungarian was the first to publish the “Indic origin” of the Romani tongue. At the end of 1765 an interesting communiqué was addressed to the Vienna Gazette by Captain Szekely de Doba. He related that the Protestant parson Stephen Vali while studying at Leyden made acquaintance with certain Malabar youths sent there by the Dutch Government, and their vernacular reminded him of the Gypsy tongue which he had heard in his home at Almasch. They also assured him that in Malabar there is a district called Zigania (?), which suggested a comparison with the German Zigeuner. At their[Pg 269] dictation he wrote down almost a thousand words, and returning to Almasch he was surprised to find the Czigan understanding them.

Then set in the first period (1775-1800) of Sanskrit and Zend study, accompanied by publications of Bengali, Urdu, and others of the eighteen Prakrit tongues still spoken in the great Peninsula. This led to careful study of Romani. The celebrated Mezzofanti did not hesitate to assign it high rank amongst the thirty-two languages he had studied; and when he lost his mind (1832) he never confounded it with other idioms. Then followed in 1837 the Gospel of St. Luke translated into Spanish Caló by “Gypsy Borrow,” who, however, inserted Castilian words from Father Scio instead of forming them from Gypsy roots.

§ 2. The Gypsies of Spain.

We have ample material for studying the Spanish Gypsy, or Flamanco, as he is contemptuously called, probably because he entered Andalusia in the train of the Flemings during the first third of the fifteenth century. Yet it is somewhat remarkable that Europe believed up to the end of that century the purely Spanish origin of the Gypsies.

Pasquier, describing the arrival of these “penitents” in Paris a.d. 1427, adds that from that time all France was infested by these vagabonds, but that the[Pg 270] first horde was replaced by the Biscayan and other peoples of the same origin. This suggests an early occupation of the Peninsula; although Francisca de Cordova in his Didasculia declared they were first known in Germany, and the general belief now is that the last horde entered Europe by the highroads of Andalusia and Bulgaria, or rather Greece, and they must have been settled for many years in these countries.

Northern Spaniards find in Andalusian blood a distinct Gypsy innervation.

In Spain, as elsewhere, the Gypsy made himself hated by his systematic contempt of the laws of meum and teum; whilst he was protected by two widely different conditions: the first was his poverty (“As poor as a Gypsy” is still a proverb); secondly, he was a spy equally useful to Christian and unbeliever. Yet action was not wanting. In 1499 was published the Gran Pragmatica (Royal Ordinance) of Medina del Campo, under the influence of a fanatic archbishop, banishing on and after the term of sixty days the Egyptian and foreign tinkers (caldereros), and forbidding return under pain of mutilation. This Pragmatica was renewed under Charles V. by the Cortes of Toledo and of Madrid, with the additional punishment of perpetual slavery for those found wandering a third time. Yet in 1560, on his marriage at Toledo with Isabelle of France, Gypsy dances formed part of the festivities. He was com[Pg 271]paratively mild, and after moderating the old rigorous laws he ordered the outcasts to live in towns. In 1586 the same king allowed them to sell their goods at ten fairs and markets under certain conditions.

These nomads picked up information from all classes, and the women, with their black magic, sorcery, and devilry, palmistry, love-potions, and poisons, penetrated into every secret. The Holy Office, established in January, 1481, disdained to persecute such paupers; and the strong arm of the law could not do more than hang a few witches. Ticknor remarks: “Encouraged by the expulsion of the Jews in 1492, also by that of the Moors in 1609-11, Dr. Sancho de Moncada, a professor in the University of Toledo, addressed Philip III. in a discourse published in 1619, urging that monarch to drive out the Gypsies, but he failed.”

Another authority says that he himself, 1618, had prepared a memorial to that effect, adding, “It is very vicious to tolerate such a pernicious and perverse race.” Cordova, writing in 1615, accused them of preparing, some years before, an organized attack upon Sogrovo town when the pest raged, and declares that it was saved from such by the arts of a certain wizard who had mysterious relations with the vagabonds.

The charges of cannibalism became universal, founded probably upon the fact that Gypsies do not disdain the flesh of animals poisoned by them.

[Pg 272]

That many of the persecuted outcasts were compelled to fly the country we shall see presently in the Morerias of Brazil; and when religious zeal cooled down, political interests took its place, and led to the great legal persecution. Philip IV. in 1633 prohibited the Gypsy dress and dialect, expelled them from the Ghettos, and by rendering intermarriage illegal aimed at fusing the vagrants with other subjects. In 1692 Charles II. ordered them to practise nothing but agriculture. The decree was renewed in 1695, and article 16 threatened punishment to all, gentle and simple, who aided and abetted them. Philip V. in 1726 banished from Madrid certain Gypsy women who had petitioned in favour of their persecuted husbands. Nineteen years afterwards (1745) he ordered the fugitives to return to his dominions under pain of fire and steel, denying to them even the right of asylum in sacred places. This terrible decree was renewed in 1746-49.

Better days now began to dawn. The racial hatred and brutality suffered by the Gypsies became by slow degrees to be considered the abrogations of past ages. Already, in 1783, Don Carlos of Spain followed the Emperor Joseph of Germany, 1782, and revoked the ultra-Draconian laws which aimed at the extinction of a people, and substituted decrees contrasting strongly with the Pragmatica of 1499; he even threatened pains and penalties to those who hindered the Gypsies in their occupations. In fact,[Pg 273] the Gitano, no longer the Egipciano, was allowed intermarriage with his caste, his family rights were recognized, and he was allowed to choose his own trade. He was forbidden only to wear any special dress, to display his language in public, or to exercise the ignoble parts of his calling. Briefly, after having been for centuries of persecution a social pariah, he became a subject. The change must be attributed only to the French philosophical school, and the works of the encyclopedists, which presently led to the greatest benefits of modern ages, the first French Revolution of 1789. It made men and citizens where it found serfs and slaves.

These humanitarian measures bore their natural consequences. Under the effect of toleration the Gypsies lost much of the savage wildness which distinguished them in the depths of the Toledo Mountains, the Sierra Morena, and the wild Alpujarras. They flocked to the valleys of the Ebro, the Tagus, and the Guadiana, where many, waxing rich and caring little for a community of goods, lost much of their devotion to caste and their fear and horror of their Christian fellow-citizens. And the grey-beards did not fail to complain that the Zincálo was speedily becoming a Gacho or a Busno, opprobrious terms applied to non-Gypsies.

The Gitanos of Spain are supposed to number from fifty to sixty thousand, and the increased toleration of society is rapidly concentrating them into the great[Pg 274] towns. They abound in Madrid, Cadiz, Malaga, Granada, Cordova, Ciudad Real, Murcia, Valencia, Barcelona, Pamplona, Valladolid, and Badajoz. In parts of Upper Aragon and the Alpujarras Mountains they are troglodytes rather than nomad hordes. Even in the northern provinces, Old Castile, Asturias, and Galicia, where they formerly were most hated and feared, they are now freely allowed to settle. A complete assimilation is expected from the position which they have acquired in places like Cadiz and Malaga. They are beginning to educate themselves in a country where hardly 20 per cent. can read, and where a grandee of the last generation was a kind of high-caste chalan (horse-cooper) or torero (bull-fighter)—the Gitano’s peculiar trades. Though they preserve the Gypsy tradition, some of them traffic largely in cattle and own extensive butcheries; they keep inns and taverns; they deal with the chief merchants; and they live in luxury. Gitanos of the poorer classes buy and barter animals; act jockeys and race-riders; people the bull-ring (especially in Andalusia); work nails and ironmongery, as at Granada and Cordova; and plait the coloured baskets for which Murcia, Valencia, and Barcelona are famous. Their women sell poultry and old rags; prepare buns (buñuelos) and black puddings (morcillas de sangre); engage themselves as tavern cooks; are excellent smugglers; and find in interpreting dreams, in philter-selling, and in fortune-telling[Pg 275] the most lucrative industries. They sing and play various instruments, accompanying the music with the most voluptuous and licentious dances and attitudes; but woe to the man who would obtain from these Bayaderes any boon beyond their provocative exhibition. From the Indus to Gibraltar the contrast of obscenity in language and in songs with corporal chastity—a lacha ye drupo, “body shame,” as they term it—has ever been a distinctive characteristic. No brothel in Europe can boast of containing a Gypsy woman.[209] The mother carefully watches and teaches her child to preserve the premices for the Rom, the Gypsy husband. At marriages they preserve the old Jewish and Muslim rite, that disappeared from Spain only with the accession of the house of Austria. Even Isabella of Castile, when she was married at Valladolid to Ferdinand of Aragon, allowed her “justificative proofs” to be displayed before the wedding-guest. Gypsy marriages, like those of the high-caste Hindus, entail ruinous expense; the revelry lasts three days; the “Gentile” is freely invited; and the profusion of meats and drinks often makes the bridegroom a debtor for life. I have explained this practice in Hindustan as the desire to prove that the first marriage is the marriage.

The Spanish Gypsies are remarkable for beauty[Pg 276] in early youth: for magnificent eyes and hair, regular features, light and well-knit figures, easy gait, and graceful bearing. Their locks, like the Hindus, are lamp-black, and without a sign of wave; and they preserve the characteristic eye. The form is perfect, and it has an especial look to which is attributed the power of engendering grandes passions—one of the privileges of the eye. I have often remarked its fixity and brilliance, which flashes like phosphoric light, the gleam which in some eyes denotes madness. I have also noted the “far-off look” which seems to gaze at something beyond you, and the alternation from the fixed stare to a glazing or filming over of the pupil.[210] Hence the English song:

A Gypsy stripling’s glossy (?) eye
Has pierced my bosom’s core,
A feat no eye beneath the sky
Could e’er effect before.

And in Spain it is remarked that the Gypsy man often makes a conquest of the Busno’s wife.

The women are more voluble in language and licentious in manners than the men. These characteristics, combined with the most absolute repulsion for other favours, even to the knife, explain[Pg 277] how many sons of grandees and great officials took part in the nightly orgies and by day favoured the proscribed caste. Moreover, the Gitana protected herself by the possession of family secrets. Besides soothsaying and philter-selling, she had a store of the Raiz del buen Baron (the goodman’s, i.e. the devil’s, root), alias Satan’s herb, which relieved incommodious burdens. At fairs, while the husbands were chapping and chaffering, the good-wives made money by the process called coger á la mano (to catch in hand); that is, pilfering coins by sleight during the process of exchanging. Amongst other malpractices is one called in Romani Youjano báro (the great trick), translated gran socaliña (great trick) by Jermimo de Alcalá in his novel the Historia de Alonzo, mozo de muchos amos (a youth with many uncles), written in the early seventeenth century. Rich and covetous widows were persuaded to deposit jewels and money in dark and unfrequented places, with the idea of finding buried treasure. Useless to say that the Gypsy woman was the only gainer by the transaction.

We read that the old Gypsy dress was repeatedly forbidden by law; but Spanish tradition preserves no memory of what the dress was. I have little doubt that the immigrants of the fifteenth century had retained to some extent the Hindu costume, the Pagrí (head-cloth) and the Dhoti (waist-cloth). So in Moscow I have seen the Gypsy dancing-girls[Pg 278] assume the true toilette of the Hindustani Nachni, the Choli, or bodice, and the Peshwáz, or petticoat of many folds. Some writers imagine that the “picturesque vagabonds,” Calós, had borrowed their peculiar garb from the Moors.

In these days the well-to-do Spanish Rom affects the Andalusian costume, more or less rich. He delights in white linen, especially the “biled shirt,” often frilled and embroidered. The materials are linen and cotton, silk, plush, velvet, and broadcloth. The favourite tints are blue, red, and marking colours. The short jacket or pelisse (zamarra) is embroidered and adorned with frogs (alamares) or large silver buttons; the waistcoat is mostly red, and a sash of crimson silk with fringed ends supports the waist; the overalls narrow at the ankle, where they meet boots or buskins (borcegúies), slippers or sandals (alpargatas). Finally, the long lank locks, which hang somewhat like the Polish Jew’s along the cheeks, are crowned with the Gypsy sombrero or porkpie, and sometimes with the red Catalan gorro (bonnet), not unlike the glengarry.

The Romi also has retained the dress worn till lately in Andalusia, and now gradually becoming obsolete. The gleaming hair is gathered in a Diana knot at the neck, and lit up with flowers of the gaudiest hue; it lies in bands upon the temples, and the whole is often covered with an embroidered kerchief. A cloak of larger or lesser dimensions[Pg 279] thrown over the shoulders hardly conceals the bodice and the short, skimpy petticoat (saya), which is embroidered, adorned with bunches of ribbons, trimmings, and other cheap finery.

The Spanish Gypsies have not preserved, like the Hungarian, their old habit of long expeditions for begging and plundering purposes. Consequently they have lost the practice of the Pateran or Trail, the road-marks by which they denote direction. These are fur twigs, or similar heaps of newly gathered grass disposed at short distances. At cross-roads the signs are placed on the right side of that followed. Sometimes they trace upon the ground a cross whose longer arm shows the way, or they nail one stake to another. The Norwegian Gypsies trace with their whips a mark on the snow called Faano; it resembles a sack with a shut mouth. In the course of ages they have lost that marvellous power of following the spoor which their kinsmen on the Indus preserve to perfection. They retain a peculiarly shrill whistle, for which the Guanches were famous. By the signs and the whistles two parties could communicate with each other; and if anything particular occurred, messengers were sent to report it.

The Gypsy language was looked upon as a mere conventional jargon, and its Indian origin, as has been shown elsewhere, was not recognized before the middle of last century. It was, moreover, con[Pg 280]founded with the Germania (Thieves’ Latin), whose vocabulary, collected by Juan Hidalgo of Saragona, has found its way into the Diccionario de la Academia. The only Gypsy words it contains are those borrowed from the Caló by the bullies and ruffians of the days of Quevedo. Many corruptions and barbarisms, however, have been introduced into books by pseudo-literati of “white blood,” who prided themselves upon their knowledge of Romani. For instance, Meriden means Coral; and as in Spanish reduplication of the consonant changes the word, an inventor, in order to express Corral (Curral, Kraal, cattle-yard), produced the most barbarous term Merridden. This was the work of aficionados (fanciers) like the Augustine friar Manso de Sevilla in the Cartuja or Carthusian convent of Jirez, whose famous breed of horses brought them into direct communication with the Gypsies. Happily, however, the language was spoken, not written; and thus, as Mr. Buckle held of legend and tradition, its purity was preserved.

Gypsy verse is generally improvised to the twanging and tapping of the guitar, sometimes to the guitar and castanet, and oftentimes without music. Much that has been printed appears to be of that spurious kind unintelligible to the Gypsies themselves. The favourite form is in quartettes, more or less carefully rhymed; they are impressed upon the hearers’ memory; and thus they pass from mouth[Pg 281] to mouth throughout Spain. Borrow gives a few translations of Gypsy songs in Romani. The Cantes Flamancos of Demófico, in phonetic Andalusian, chanted at the fairs and markets, in the cafés and ventas, the streets and alleys of Seville, date from the last century. The poetry is weak, the moral is not always irreproachable; but the sentiment is strong and touching. These Cantes are sung by many a tailor and many a barber who have not a drop of Gypsy blood in their veins. They can hardly be accepted as genuine Gypsy work.


[206] Hence probably the Hungarian Hunyadis are popularly supposed to have Gypsy blood. John’s mother (a.d. 1400) is said to have been a fair Wallach, Elizabeth Marsinai, possibly of Romani blood. The legend of the boy recovering his unknown father’s ring from a plundering jackdaw, his appearance at Buda, and his receiving the gift of Hunyad town and sixty villages, is well known. The Turk’s bell was first heard in invaded Hungary during the reign of Sigismund. John Hunyadi drove them from Servia and Bosnia, and vainly proposed a league of Christian powers. When Corvinus passed away after a reign of forty-two years, the lieges said of him, and still say, “King Matthias is dead, and Justice died with him.”

[207] Hungary and Transylvania, 1839. Before 1848 the Church, the State, and the nobles were the only landowners; the peasant, however, had leave to occupy certain tracts (session-lands) under his lord.

[208] Mr. Andrew F. Crosse, Round about the Carpathians (Blackwoods, 1878), declares (p. 146) that this “conscription was enforced with every species of official brutality.” Austria was dealing with a conquered and a peculiar, stiff-necked people. Lord Palmerston’s hatred of Austria was, we are told, the best passport to Hungarian sympathy.

[209] The brothels of Buda-Pesth and other large cities of Austro-Hungary have often one Gypsy woman among their inmates.

[210] I find my opinion confirmed by an older observer: “The peculiarity of the Gypsy eye consists chiefly in a strange, staring expression, which, to be understood, must be seen, and in a thin glaze which steals over it when in repose, and seems to emit phosphoric light” (The Gypsies, by Samuel Roberts).

[Pg 282]



The Gypsies of the Brazil

The Romá of the North American Republic are well known, and their emigration is of modern date. During the wars between England and France which followed the great Revolution many of them exchanged a wandering life for the service of the country, having been either kidnapped or impressed, or having taken the shilling. Of course, after obtaining a passage to the American colonies, they deserted the army, found friends, and settled in the country. The half-bandit bands of Scottish Gypsies were mostly broken up in this way.

On the other hand, South America is very little known; and yet the part with which I am most familiar, the Brazil, is full of Gypsies. When Ferdinand and Isabella the Catholic (a.d. 1492) issued the exterminating edict against Moors, Jews, and Gitanos, the latter slunk into hiding-places; they were again proscribed by Charles V. (a.d. 1582); and Philip III. (a.d. 1619) issued from Belem in[Pg 283] Portugal an order for all the Gypsies to quit the country within six months—an order renewed by Philip IV. in a.d. 1633. There was some reason for this severity. The “masterful beggars” had made themselves infamous by turning spies to the Turks and Saracens; and if the general prejudice against them was unfounded, it rested at least upon a solid foundation—their hatred of the Christian Busno, Gacho, or non-Gypsy. Thus every maritime city of the Brazil to which the exiles were shipped presently contained a Gypsy bairro, or quarter, the Portuguese Moreria (Moorery) corresponding with the Spanish Gitaneria, and not a little resembling the Ghettos of the Italian Jews. For instance, the Rocco, now the handsomest square in superb Rio de Janeiro, was of old the Campo dos Ciganos—the Gypsies’ Field. The “Egyptian pilgrims” thence spread abroad over the Interior, where their tents often attract the traveller’s eye; and some of them became distinguished criminals, like the Gypsy Beijú, one of the chief Thugs, whose career, ended by hanging for the murders which long disgraced the Mantiqueira Mountains, I have described in the Highlands of the Brazil (i. 63).

Wandering about the provinces of S. Paulo and Minas Geraes, I often met Gypsy groups whose appearance, language, and occupations were those of Europe. They are here perhaps a little more violent and dangerous, and the wayfarer looks to his revolver[Pg 284] as he nears their camp at the dusk hour; yet they are hardly worse than the “Morpheticos” (lepers), who are allowed to haunt the country. Popular books and reviews ignore them; but the peasantry regard them with disgust and religious dread. They protest themselves to be pious Catholics, yet they are so far the best of Protestants, as they protest, practically and energetically, against the whole concern. Their religion, in fact, is embodied in the axiom: “Cras moriemur—post mortem nulla voluptas.” We may well believe the common rumour which charges them with being robbers of poultry and horses, and with doing at times a trifle in the way of assassination.

On May 3, 1866, when riding from Rio Claro to Piracicava Saõ Paulo, I visited a gang of these “verminous ones”; and attended by my armed servants, I spent a night in their tents. The scene was familiar: the tilt-tent swarmed with dark children, the pot hung from the triangle, and horses and ponies for carriage, and perhaps for sale, were picketed about. The features and complexion were those of the foreign tinkler; the women, besides trumpery ornaments of brass, coral, and beads, wore scarlet leg-wraps; and some of the girls were pretty and well dressed as the memorable Selina, of Bagley Wood, Oxford. Apparently they were owners of negro slaves, possibly runaways. According to the Brazilians, they are fond of nomes esquisitos (fancy[Pg 285] names); Esmeralda and Sapphira are common, and they borrow from trees, plants, and animals.

Their chief occupations are petty trade and fortune-telling, when they reveal for a consideration all the mysteries of “love and law, health and wealth, losses and crosses.” They also “keen” at funerals during the livelong day, and drink, sing, and dance through the night—a regular wake. I could not induce them to use their own tongue, yet they evidently understood me. This desire to conceal their Gypsy origin I have frequently noticed elsewhere. It is probably a relic of the days of their persecution. Fortunately in most civilized countries to-day the Gypsy can count equal rights with other men.

[Pg 287]


[Pg 289]




A great philosopher in days of yore informs us that we may search the world throughout, and that in no region where man has lived can we find a city without the knowledge of a god or the practice of a religion (Plutarch).

This apophthegm embodies a dogma somewhat too rash and sweeping. The necessity of a Demiurgos—a Creator—so familiar to our minds is generally strange to savages. The wilder tribes of Singhalese Veddahs, for instance, have no superstition; these savages have not even attained the fear of demons. It has but scant hold upon the imagination of barbarous men. The Buddhists and Jains ascribed after Sakya-Muni the phenomena of the universe to Swabháva, or force inherent in matter, Matra, and independent of an Ishwara-Karta, or Manufacturing[Pg 290] God. Aristotle and Spinoza believed with Pythagoras the world to be eternal, and that a God cannot exist without the world, as height without breadth. Hence Hegel’s “eternal nihilum”—creation being everything for created beings—in direct opposition to Calvin, who opined that creation is not a transfusion of essence, but a commencement of it out of nothing. In the present day, the Kafirs of the Cape, the ancient Egyptians, and African races generally, barbarians and semi-barbarians, by no means deficient in intellect and acuteness, have never been able to comprehend the existence or the necessity of a One God. With them, as with a multitude of civilized philosophers—the Indian Charvakas, for instance—Nature is self-existent, Matter is beginningless and endless; in fact, the world is their God. Ex nihilo nihil fit is the first article of their creed. Absolute ignorance of any God, then, was the earliest spiritual condition of the human family.

But veneration is inherent in the human breast. Presently mankind, emerging from intellectual infancy, began to detect absurdity in creation without a Creator, in effects without causes. As yet, however, they did not dare to throw upon a Single Being the whole onus of the world of matter, creation, preservation, and destruction. Man, instinctively impressed by a sense of his own unworthiness, would hopelessly have attempted to conceive the idea of a purely Spiritual Being, omnipotent and omnipresent.[Pg 291] Awestruck by the admirable phenomena and the stupendous powers of Nature, filled with a sentiment of individual weakness, he abandoned himself to a flood of superstitious fears, and prostrated himself before natural objects, inanimate as well as animate. Thus comforted by the sun and fire, benefited by wind and rain, improved by hero and sage, destroyed by wild beasts, dispersed by convulsions of Nature, he fell into a rude, degrading, and cowardly Fetissism, the faith of fear, and the transition state from utter savagery to barbarism.

In support of this opinion it may be observed that this religion—if indeed Fetissism merit that sacred name—in its earliest form contains no traces of a Godhead or a Creator.[211] It is a systematic worship of the personified elements, productions, and powers of Nature, male and female, and supported by a host of associates and subordinates. Its triad is Indra, the Æther-god; Varuna ([Greek: ουρανος: ouranos]), the Sun-god; and Agni, the Fire-god. The polytheistic[Pg 292] triad of the Puranas being then unknown, the Creator, Brahma, appears in the Vedas; the Preserver, Vishnu, inferior to Indra, represents the firmament; and Siwa is proved by Lassen to have been a local god, subsequently admitted by the Brahmans into their vast Pantheon. Still further from man’s belief in those early days is the bold and original thought of the Upanashids and Vedantas, destined so soon to fall before the formulæ of the schools and law-books, the Puranas and other traditions. There Brahm, or the One Almighty, is made the pinnacle of the gorgeous pagoda of belief; the whole universe, matter and spirit, is represented to be the very substance and development of the Demiurgos. In support of their grand Pantheism the Brahma-Sutra declares the human soul to be a portion of the Deity—divinæ particula auræ—“the relation not being that of master and servant, but that of the whole and part.” Creation was assumed to be the extension of the Creator’s essence, as the mathematical point produces by its increase length, depth, and breadth by endowing empty space with the properties of figure. From this refined and metaphysical dogma, this theoretical emanation of being from, and its corollary, refusion into, the Soul of the World, springs the doctrine of Metempsychosis, “implying belief in an after-state of rewards and punishments and a moral government of creation.” The votary of Hinduism has now progressed so far as to symbolize the vulgar[Pg 293] idolatry of the people. Beneficent animals are explained as symbols of Brahma’s creative and Vishnu’s preserving functions; wild and ferocious beasts are typified as the Deity’s destroying power. They revere men of splendid abilities and glorious actions as having more of the divine essence and a directer emanation than the vulgar herd. Hence the senseless idol worship of the unlearned. Select forms also, as the cleft of a tree, are chosen to represent materially—oculis subjecta fidelibus—the passive power of generation, an upright rock expressing the active.

Thus semi-civilized man explains away the follies of his childhood, and excuses himself for leaving the ignorant in the outer glooms of a symbolical faith. But does knowledge precede ignorance—the explanation the fable? Or is it reasonable to suppose that a symbol, a type, a myth, was ever worshipped, or that men were ever ashamed of their gods? The Hindu, and indeed many a Christian, still adores the bull and cow, the rock, the river, the idol, the relic, and the actual image; they do not kneel before its metaphysics. The learned explain them into mere deifications. They are, however, still deities to the layman and the esoteric; and any attempt to allegorize them would be held, as in ancient Greece, like the reform of Epicurus, mere Atheism. We must, however, justly to appreciate these ancient dogmas, rebecome the primitive children of earth[Pg 294]—man in his infancy.[212] The wisdom of Egypt, the learning of the East are now puerility. But “who knows what luminous proofs were propagated under the disguise of their old idolatry? Who cannot see that imagination, first active faculty of the mind, was fostered by myth, the moral sense by fable, and the first vacillating steps of knowledge were encouraged by precepts now seemingly childish and absurd?” (Dabistan). Confucius was as disposed to primarize secondary causes as his predecessors. Owning that he knew nothing about the gods, he therefore preferred to avoid the subject.

The ancient Persians, according to Herodotus, who conversed with them, ignored Dualism, their later scheme. Rejecting the images of gods and angels, they worshipped without personification or allegory æthereal fire drawn from the Sun. The universe was their temple, their altars Pyrætheia, or circles of stones, in the centre of which stood the kiblah of their simple ignicolism. The very Puritans of heathenry, they hated the grandiose fanes of the Egyptians, they plundered their magnificent tombs, slew their bestial deities, and devoured their garden gods. Presently symbolism began to intrude upon the simple and primitive faith of Iran. Light and[Pg 295] fire, according to Strabo, were worshipped as the fittest emblems of spirit and subtile intelligence. Zoroaster was made to believe in a God, “the Best, Incorruptible, Eternal, Unmade, Indivisible, and most Unlike everything”; in fact, an abstraction, a negative. Yet Hyde, Anquetil du Perron, and other moderns make the Parsee sect to represent with their complicated system of rites and ceremonies, their legion of supernatural beings, powers, and influences, and abstruse Dualism, the pure ignicolism of the old Guebre.

But the dark epoch of savage Atheism having fulfilled its time, already in the Fetissism, the Polytheism, the Pantheism, the Metempsychosis dogma, and the Idolatry of the early East may be descried the dawning of an enlightened Theism. Like the dogma of a future state of rewards and punishments in Moses’ day, it was not unknown though unexplored. The Hindus had their Vedas Shashwata, and the Guebres their Akarana Zarwána. The former ruled the triads; the latter was superior to Hormuzd, the Sun, and Ahriman Ahura-mana, the Evil Principle personified. So the Greeks had a [Greek: Θεος: Theos], and the Romans a Deus, ignored except as a theory. The Arabs and the Mexicans in their vast Polytheism still distinguished Al, the Supreme Being, from the crowd of subaltern gods, angels and devils, mediators, subordinate intelligences, incarnations, transmigrations, emanations, manifestations, and[Pg 296] similar earthly representatives. Here, then, was the thought-germ of an eternal, unmade, incorruptible, and creative Deity. Enveloped in the mists and shades of priestly fraud and popular ignorance, still the dogma did exist; and so comforting has been its light to the soul of man, that no earthly power has ever availed to extinguish it.

The Vedas Shashwata has been interpreted by philologists to signify the Sun. Akarana Zarwána (boundless time) is clearly synonymous with venerable Chronos. So the Mulungu of East Africa and the Uhlungu of the Kafirs mean equally a spirit, the sun, or the firmament. Amongst the Masai race, near Kilimanjaro, Engai, the Creator, is feminine, God and rain being confounded.

The similarity of belief, of manners and customs, and even of the coincidence of lawful and unlawful food, between India and Egypt is too striking to be accounted for by mere chance. The Fetissism of the one exactly resembled that of the other. Both worshipped personified Nature, or Manushya-Ohakta; they exalted into godhead and adored the objects of gratitude and reverence, of hope and fear. The “great holy family” of India became, on the banks of the Nile, Osiris, Isis, and Horus. Osiris, afterwards typified as the “incarnate Goodness of the Supreme,” perished to overcome Evil, was raised to life once more, and became the Judge of the quick and the dead. Isis again is the giver of Death, and[Pg 297] Horus, or Hor, the entrance or re-entrance into Life. Every male deity in both systems had his Sakti, or passive energy, symbolized by a woman. Both mythologies had sacred cattle. Eggs, onions, and beans—favourite articles of diet among the present Muslims—were forbidden to both for mystical reasons. The lotus flower, an aboriginal of India, and connected with the superstitions of either country, has perished out of Egypt with the Muslims, who have no object in preserving the exotic. In Indian mythology was the Trisiras, in Egypt the Tevnon, in Greece and Rome the Cerberus, that three-headed dog in Hades, whose existence must have been communicated from one people to another. India worships the Sacred Serpent, the modern Muslim of Egypt adores that of Jebel Shaykh Haridi. Hindu Yogis and Saunyasis still wander to the banks of the Nile, and prostrate themselves before its ruined fanes. Society in India was divided into four great separate bodies—priests, soldiers, tradesmen, and serviles. The Egyptians numbered a sacerdotal order, a military caste, husbandmen, tradesmen and artificers, and, lastly, the shepherds, their abomination. Diodorus Siculus enumerates five castes. The fifth, however, or shepherds, probably did not belong to society; they were outcasts, corresponding with the Hindu mixed bloods. In ancient Persia the rigid castes were also four in number. And as the Aryas or Hindus of Aryavarrta, the Land[Pg 298] of Men, are aborigines of Ariana and cognates of the Arian race, perhaps this system of artificial and unnatural distinctions arose in the regions of Mid-Asia. Indeed, Sir W. Jones came to a broader conclusion; namely, that the three primitive races of mankind must originally have migrated from a vast central region of earth, and that that region was Iran.

As time wore on, Pantheism, which sees a deity everywhere, even within ourselves, regarded the terrestrial gods as earthly vessels animated with a spark of the Universal Soul. The subaltern deities, the objects of Sabæan worship, as the sun, the moon, and the fixed stars, were held to be superior mediating powers with the Almighty Power. A thousand interpretations, physical, symbolical, mystical, and astronomical, were framed by the wise of Memphis. And as amongst the Hindus, so the Deity of Egypt was, though revealed to the initiated, sedulously obscured to the vulgar by a host of Avatars and incarnations, of transmigrations and subordinate intelligences.

History is silent upon that most interesting subject, the early connexion of India and Egypt. There are, however, still traces of its existence through Arabia, although Wilford greatly exaggerated the subject. Throughout Oman and Eastern Arabia there are traces to the present day of castish prejudice. No Kabílí, or man of noble tribe, however[Pg 299] poor, will become a Haddâd (blacksmith), a Shámmár (shoemaker, in Hindustani Chamár), a Dabbagh (tanner), and a Nayyál (dyer). The Hindus of Maskat have an Avatar. Every Pandit knows that Shiva and his wife, under the names of Kapot-Eshwara and Kapot-Eshwari, visited Mecca, and were there worshipped under the form of male and female pigeons. This notes a direct communication along the coast of the Shepherd Kings. Again, it is possible that in ages now forgotten the Æthiopians may have received from the Hindus their arts, sciences, and civilization, which would naturally float northwards with the Nile.

From Egypt these dogmas passed over to Greece, from Greece to the Rasenian people of ancient Etruria. This diffusion, proved by the similarity of their belief, is supported by old tradition. Herodotus explains the fable of the black pigeon that fled to Dodona, and there established the oracle on the ground that it was founded by a female captive from the Thebaïd. The manifest resemblance of the rites and ceremonies, the processions and mysteries, together with the historic fact that the greatest minds in Greece had studied with the priest-philosophers of Helispotes and Memphis, are the main points of circumstantial evidence whence rose Warburton’s luminous theory that the knowledge of the “Secret One” was preserved by the esoteric, but concealed for fear of the profane. He was an atheist who believed in a Single[Pg 300] Deity because he thus degraded and dishonoured the vulgar gods; and the ancients, most pious men, solemnly tore to pieces all guilty of similar impiety. The Arcana, however, were sacred; under their shadow any dogma might flourish.

Some ethnologists have wondered at the remarkable coincidences between the Etruscan cosmogony and that of Moses. The marvel is easily explained. Both systems were borrowed from the Egyptians “skilled in ancient learning” (Apuleius).

India and Persia, we have seen, left their Deity an abstruse and philosophical doctrine, a mere abstraction, “infinite and eternal Nothings.” Simple efforts of the mind and intellect, they were probably added by after-thought to perfect and complete the Pantheon. They were involved in the deepest gloom, whilst man’s vision was engrossed by the stars and other objective creations familiar to his eyes, and through them to his sensuous mind. The most ancient philosophers then theorized concerning an Almighty Creator, believed in him by stealth and theory, but in practice left him to oblivion and neglect. The vulgar bowed, not to a deity, but to deifications of his attributes, which they had rendered material and congenial.

It is to be presumed that Egypt advanced a step beyond India and Persia, otherwise so many of her dogmas would not have been incorporated with the Mosaic Code. Doubtless Egyptian priestly seers made their Demiurgos not a mere being of the[Pg 301] intellect, but a dominant idea in religious theory, whilst the grovelling Fetissism of the people received from them a mystic and abstruse interpretation. But herein lay their fatal error. The priests were not only ministers of religion, they were the repositories of every branch of useful knowledge, from medicine to philosophy. The king was by law a priest. If a member of the second or military caste was raised to the throne, he was at once initiated; for the “sons of God,” as the sovereigns were called, could belong to none but the holy order. The learned respected and revered as types and symbols what the vulgar worshipped and adored with heart and soul. But they kept to themselves the benefits of their reason, and invented mysteries and gnostic ceremonies—the purple robe of religion—to veil that Holy Truth the contemplation of whose unadorned charms belongs to mankind. They left their fellow-creatures, “the most religious of men,” utterly ignorant of divine knowledge, the abject worshippers of the Nile and the desert, of the ichneumon and the cat. True they secured to a caste the knowledge which is power amongst semi-civilized races. But an ecclesiastical order, even in the most extensive hierarchies, is only the fraction of a people; they divided therefore their brother-men into priests and slaves. Woe to him who thus bids the human mind go into darkness!

We have seen, then, that Fetissism supplanted[Pg 302] Atheism in the developing mind of man. Even as alchemy preceded chemistry, magic physics, and astrology astronomy, in fact as ignorance and error have ever paved the way for true learning, so was the worship of Nature the fit preliminary to the worship of Nature’s God. The fulness of time now came for the revelation of Theism, the religion of Love, and the only dogma that has taken firm root in the hearts and minds of the nobler types of man. It matters little what was the modus operandi of this inspiration. Any information above the common understanding of the age is justly called a revelation, and every nation has received some by which the human family has benefited (Dabistan). We may leave Zealots and Thaumaturgists, Sceptics and Atheists to dispute ad libitum a point unsolvable, and which, if solved, would be of little advantage to mankind.

Moses, whose mighty mind drew from obscurity Theism, or a belief in the One God, to become the corner-stone of the creed, not of a few initiated sages and esoteric students, but of a whole people—who shared out to mankind their birthright, a knowledge of divine truth—fully understood the fatal error of his preceptors, the priestly sages of Egypt. His history, elaborately dressed in the garb of fable by after-ages, appears to be this. Circumstances of an accidental nature drove him from the banks of the Nile into the eastern deserts. Whilst feeding the[Pg 303] flocks of his Bedawin father-in-law amid the awful scenery and the silent, solemn wolds of Shur, he nerved his mind to the patriotic task, the gigantic scheme of converting into a great nation and a Chosen People a mere handful of degraded slaves. There, too, he made those local observations which, seen through the mists of antiquity and exaggerated by the additions and traditions of subsequent ages, became the groundwork of what is never wanting in the East—wonders and signs and miracles from heaven. His powers and energies concentrated by solitude—and there is no such strengthener of the soul when the soul is strong—he returned to Egypt for the purpose of carrying into execution his stupendous scheme.

But Moses found it impossible, with no stronger hold upon his people than certain obsolete tenets almost forgotten by the unworthy descendants of patriarchal ancestors, in the atmosphere of superstition around him and under the baneful shadow of a hostile and priestly rule, to elevate to the dignity of manhood the spirits of an enthralled, despised, and therefore a degraded race. What better proof of their degeneracy than their demanding to know the name of a God?

This is the spiritual state of the Indian Pariah, who has his idols, but no idea of an Almighty Godhead, and who deems his dead deities inferior in dignity to a live Brahman. What more indicative of their[Pg 304] mental subjection to the superstitions of Egypt than their imaging the One Supreme by a calf or young bull, the emblem of Priapus all over the ancient world? They were equally inferior in physical force. Manetho numbers them at 80,000—a prodigious rate of increase, considering their circumstances and social state, for the descendants from seventy persons in the short space of 430 years. The compilers of the Book of Numbers[213] give 603,550 fighting men from twenty years old and upwards; this, with women and children, would amount to nearly three millions of human beings—an extravagant estimate.

From this state of degradation the thousands of Israel must be raised—must return to the condition of their ancestors the bold free chiefs of the Bedawin. They must therefore depart from Egypt, and must prepare themselves, morally as well as physically by the discipline of the vast and terrible wilderness, to enter as conquerors the holy Promised Land. Many must perish under the hardships, privations, and fatigues of desert-travelling. According to Ibn Khaldun, the Hebrews, debased by slavery, were unable to oppose the Philistines or Arabs of Canaan until the old generation had died off and a new one had grown up in the hardy life of the wilderness.

The great Lawgiver, a man of angry temper, as are all who accomplish wonderful actions, and master of the learning of Egypt, displayed in effecting the[Pg 305] deliverance of his compatriots a work of itself wonderful, a strength of will, a power of contrivance, a might of words and deeds, which, seen by after-ages through the dim atmosphere of tradition and the mists of national vanity, has caused him to stand forth in the eyes of later ages a giant amongst his kind. He has been made the subject of fable, physically as well as spiritually. Josephus speaks of his divine form and vast stature. To the present day the Arabs of Sinai show traces of gigantic feet and indentations made by a rod which must have been taller than a mast. The monuments of Egypt, so full of minute information, allude neither to Moses nor to the Exodus. The migration of a few brickmaking slaves was, amongst a people surrounded by nomadic tribes, an event too common, too unconsequential, to claim a line of hieroglyph. But the people of old, in this point reversing our modern style of national genealogy, ever strove to dignify and to adorn their birth; and the Hebrews, who claimed the most ancient as well as the noblest of pedigrees, could not tell the tale of their origin as a nation without elevating its simple estate by a hundred fables, and embellishing it with signs and marvels and wonders tending to the honour of the Chosen People and of their great leader.

In one main point the Lawgiver miscalculated his powers. He had proposed making of his Hebrew followers a race of pure Theists, a kingdom of[Pg 306] priests, a holy nation, reverencing nothing but the One Supreme, worshipping him without medium or mediator, and therefore independent of temples and sacerdotal castes and the long list of ceremonies and sacred paraphernalia by which hierarchies strengthen and perpetuate their sway. But the Hebrew mind was thoroughly unfitted to receive pure truth. Amid the awful preternatural scenes which, according to their own accounts, heralded the proclamation of the God of Israel, with battle and destruction, miraculous plagues and fire and openings of the earth ever ready to punish those who denied their Deity or disobeyed his servants, this wonderful people were in a perpetual state of useless gainsaying and impotent revolt. Deeply imbued with the tenacious superstitions of the Nile, the stiff-necked race had become irritable rather than strong under the painful training of the desert, they longed and begged for a return to slavery, and none had eyes to look steadfastly upon the unveiled light of Revelation emanating from their leader and lawgiver.

Finding, after his return from temporary seclusion and retirement,[214] his chosen people worshipping a molten calf, the god Apis, and playing—in other[Pg 307] words, a scene of Egyptian debauchery—Moses broke in wrath the first Tables of the Law (Exod. xxxii. 19). These consisted simply of the Ten Commandments, a forbiddal to make gods of gold and silver, easy directions for building an earthen altar of sacrifice, and a brief civil and criminal code embodied in three chapters. After another term of forty days and nights spent in solitude amongst the awful and impressive scenes which had witnessed his meditations when feeding Jethro’s flocks, and now saw the disappointment of his early aspirations, Moses returned with a code (Exod. xxxiv.) better fitted to the sickly and diseased condition of the Hebrew soul. Of this the proportion of the ritual to the moral precepts is as ten to two. It is a priestly system, a faith of feasts and sacrifices, of holy days and ceremonies purposely assimilated to those idolatries of Egypt with which the minds of the people were familiar but secured to the worship of Jehovah their God. The Lawgiver no longer disdained to borrow from symbolical religion, especially in the ceremonial worship, which at first he appears to have avoided. The ark and the tabernacle were old types amongst the Egyptians, memorials of their Northern migration. The Urim and Thummim (Ra and Thenei) were the Sun and personified Justice—Light and Truth. The Elohim were Kneph and Pthah, the presiding spirit and the creative intellect of the Supreme. The Spirit of God[Pg 308] that moved upon the face of the waters is again the Deity Kneph. The silence with which Jehovah was to be adored appears to be an idea borrowed from Amun Ra, the Unutterable Word, similar to the Hindu “Aum,” which never must be spoken of man. The Tree of Life, whose fruit made gods of those who tasted it, was a mere symbol, long before the day of Moses incorporated in the Indian and Egyptian mythologies. It survived in the Christian’s early belief, and has even left its traces in the Tuba or Paradisiacal tree of El Islam.

The cosmogony of Moses may be traced to the same origin. The formation of the globe, so different from modern theory; the separating of matter into four elements, fiery firmament, air, sea, and earth; and the derivation of animals from dust, were Egyptian dogmas. The Hebrew historian held to the eternity of matter, the theory of ancient philosophy in general.

The creation of man (Gen. i.), which we take figuratively, referring divine resemblance to the soul, to righteousness, and to true holiness, the Hebrews believed in literally and physically. As the Lord formed man in his own image, so man in return anthropomorphized the Deity. Theirs was a personal God with mortal shape and human passions, who hated the Canaanites for no sin of their own, and loved the Hebrews for no merit of their own, but for the sake of their ancestors. The “angry God[Pg 309]” and the “jealous God of Moses” stand for the orthodox opinion of even the modern Jews.[215]

In proportion as we return to the ignorance of antiquity and seek out the metaphysics of savage races, so we find the personality of a God, a description of his form, and an account of his actions and passions most prominently brought forward. Savages and barbarians cannot believe without anthropomorphizing their Great Spirit. On the other hand, Muslims reject the tenet. Amongst them some sects, as the Bayzawi, deny, and hold it impiety to assert, that even in a future state the eyes of the beatified shall see Allah.

Again, the Hebrew Paradise is the vestige of an old legend current throughout the Eastern world. The Hindus had their Satya Yug, the Persians Eriene Vigo, and the Greeks their Golden Age. It must be observed, however, that, though we place the Garden upon earth, learned Rabbis locate it in the first or lowest heaven, which is the exact reflection of this nether world. Sakya Buddha taught that human beings first appeared by apparitional birth. They were glorious and happy, pure and passionless, till one of them tasted a savoury substance produced by the earth.[Pg 310] The example was followed by the rest; thus purity decayed, the empire of sense gained the ascendency, excess followed indulgence, and degeneracy excess. The same legend has been preserved in grosser form by El Islam. Adam is made to eat wheat, and thus became subject to human infirmities. The Magian Scriptures contain traditions of a migratory march of the people of Hormuzd, under their patriarch Jamshid, from Eriene Vigo or pure Iran, supposed by the Guebres to be the primeval seat of their race, and located near Balkh, the ancient Bactria. It was the region of all delights till Ahriman the Evil One made in its river the Serpent of Winter. With respect to the inhabitants of Paradise, our first parents, it may be mentioned that many Eastern as well as Western learned men have supposed that Adam prior to the creation of Eve was androgynous; that is to say, at once male and female (Mirabeau).

The promulgation of Moses’ new code was not popular among the Hebrews. Checked in his patriotic intentions, the Lawgiver, however, bravely persisted in the course of preparation which he had commenced. Long and long years the Chosen People wandered in danger and difficulty round and round a region ever and in every way fitted to produce a hardy, rugged, and warlike race. And when all was prepared for the work of conquest, the great Leader would not head the expedition to the Land[Pg 311] of Promise. In his latest act he displayed the magnanimity which had supported him through a life of labour and disappointment, the real vigour and grandeur of his mind. Casting away the superstitions concerning man’s body which Egypt taught, and resisting the temptation that might have seduced a softer soul, namely, a train of mourners and a mausoleum as a last home, he did for himself what he had done for his followers: he wandered over the desert till his hour approached, he chose as leader of the expedition a younger and more energetic man, and finally he died and left the place of his tomb to this day unknown. He bequeathed, however, to the world a cosmogony, history, and ethnography the essence of old Oriental learning, and to the present day perhaps the most interesting document of the kind ever penned by man. He gave to his followers a code in which the highest intellect is blended with experience and thought in the most trivial things; the cantonment orders, for instance, cannot be improved in the present century. He left men where he had found slaves, a successor trained to carry out the favourite scheme and hope of his life, and finally a name that will float down the stream of time till merged into the ocean of eternal oblivion.

But Moses left his dispensation imperfect. He feared the relapse of his followers into the dark idolatries of the Nile. He therefore dealt only in[Pg 312] obscure allusions to a resurrection, to another life, to a futurity of rewards and punishments—the mighty lever with which religion moves the moral world of man. That such was the case is proved by this fact: the prophets and others who succeeded Moses, viewing the future practically and not with philosophical indifference, made in all their schemes the hereafter of man a prominent feature. The dogma, moreover, as we have seen, was known, and well known, to all the semi-civilized races of men. In the creed of Moses, however, a purely temporal system of rewards and punishments supplied the place of that future retribution so elaborated in the Hindu, the Guebre, and the Egyptian systems. This was the great defect in his grand scheme. The hope and fear of a life to come, of a world in which the apparent inconsistencies of the transient mundane state shall be explained and remedied, where suffering virtue shall triumph and triumphant vice shall suffer—a proclivity for this belief is implanted by nature in the very soul and heart of man. Like veneration, it is instinctive rather than reasoning, an exertion of sentiment rather than an effect of intellect. Against a dogma based upon such foundations it is vain to contend. And in the moral government of the world it presents such vantage-ground to all who would discipline and elevate mankind, that it has been cultivated in every system, proscribed by none. The Hebrews, however, were left to learn[Pg 313] this essential article of faith, during the Babylonish captivity, from the Assyrians, the Guebres, and other Pagans.

The Jehovah of Moses, moreover, was in other points than personality an imperfect conception. The Deity, it is true, was drawn forth from the thick veil of mystery with which the learned of India and Egypt had invested him. His existence was proclaimed not to a caste or a class; it was published to a whole people. Still, he was the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, not the God of Eternity—the God of all men. A local deity, his cult and knowledge were confined to one people, to a mere fraction of the human kind. Moses, then, was essentially a benefactor to the Hebrews, but he was not a benefactor to man.

Presently a new Reformer appeared upon the worldly stage. The Hebrew code had long before his day begun to decline; for forms of faith, being but earthly things, are subject to that eternal law which to every beginning pre-creates and ordains an end. Its decay was hastened by political convulsions. The captivity of the Jews had supplied them with a multitude of new and strange articles of belief derived from their Pagan masters. Hence arose heresies and schisms, which further weakened the ancient edifice, tottering as it was from the effects of age, from the new creed-wants of the people, and from the shocks of the passing events.[Pg 314] The Sadducees, adhering to the letter, rejected the spirit of the Books of Moses. Pharisaic superstition founded upon tradition—that earthy alloy ever added to the pure ores of heavenly revelation—was fast undermining the temple of Judaism. Idolatry had perished by slow degrees out of the land; but the contrary extreme, bibliolatry, to use a modern word, sown upon the wide ground of priestly pride and castish prejudice, had spread rankly over the world of Judaism. To clear away this poison growth, to reform the people of Israel, Jesus of Nazareth began his ministry.

A man of humble fortune, but of proud birth, the Founder of Christianity preached a creed in conformity with his circumstances. His tenets were the Essene, the third sect of philosophizing Jews. “While the Pharisees were heaping traditions upon the original structure of the Mosaic system, and the Sadducees were rigidly preserving and adhering to the simplicity of that structure, the Essene gave their whole mind to the ascertainment and realization of its moral import.” They were thus the Sufis, the Spiritualists, and the Gnostics of Judaism. They abounded most at Alexandria, then the grand centre where the Greek and the Roman, the Indian and the Persian, met the Arab and the Egyptian. A species of anchorite philosophers, they called themselves physicians of souls and bodies; they lived in voluntary poverty, rigid chastity, and implicit obedience[Pg 315] to the civil power; they were purists in language, non-resistants, and haters of political action.

Such tenets, publicly announced as a voice from heaven, were of course offensive to the ruling factions at Jerusalem. The people also that flocked to the preaching of the new Prophet were disappointed by his proclaiming to them a spiritual kingdom not the heritage of wealth, splendour, and glory, so distinctly promised to them by the seers of former generations. They were but poorly put off with a type or symbol. A reformer is rarely popular, and reform is a dangerous work among a people so hasty and headstrong as the Jews. But Christ’s teaching was not for the Jews only; he was preparing to spread abroad amongst mankind a knowledge of the One Supreme, when, falling a victim to priestly wiles, the Prophet of Nazareth suffered an ignominious death. But he had given an impetus to the progress of mankind by systematizing a religion of the highest moral loveliness, showing what an imperfect race can and may become; and by the labour of a devoted life he had instituted a college of successors who after him might preach the glad tidings to all the nations of the earth.

The Prophet of Nazareth had declared his mission to be for the purpose of establishing and confirming the Law of Moses. As it first appeared, Christianity was rather strong in the weakness around it than strong in its own strength. It was a system for anchorites[Pg 316] and ascetics. The reformed faith abounded also in a matter usually consigned in the East to bards and mystics; namely, principles of almost superhuman beauty often couched in highly poetical language, principles not the creation of one mind, but the current coinage of philanthropy from time immemorial. Islam all over the East has left its principles as a heritage to poets, and right well have they performed their duty to mankind. From the literature of the Hindus and Persians, the Egyptians and the Arabs, it would be easy to collect a code of morality and a law of benevolence as pure and amiable as ever entered the heart of man. The whole practice of the Sufi consists in seeking the Divinity, not as the “popular prudential and mercenary devotee,” but from fervency of love to God and man. He “proclaims the invisible truth above the visible comfort”; his entire resignation can face the horrors of eternal death inflicted by divine Will; “he has something higher even than everlasting gain.”

Eventually, however, this almost supernatural morality, incorporated with a creed to the detriment of its practical tendency; this substitution of love for justice, of mercy for retribution, of forgiveness for punishment; this purely spiritual system, that first neglected all the most necessary material details of ablution, dietetics, and even formulæ and positions of prayer, could never endure in the sensuous and passionate populations of the[Pg 317] East. From its further hold upon the instincts, the affections, and the prepossessions of the Jews, this reformation had neither extension nor continuance. The Ceremonial Law of Moses, adapted to an idle and unoccupied race in a temperate climate and a land of plenty with its operose and time-wasting system of prayer and purification, of festivals and processions, was it is true at first not abolished but confirmed. But a simple and far more catholic system was required for the wants of the universe. Amongst the inspired followers of the Founder of Christianity one was found capable of executing the task. With a daring hand Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, rent asunder the tie connecting Christianity with Judaism. His efforts were crowned with success. He offered to the great family of man a Church with a Deity at its head and a religion peculiarly of principles. He left the moral code of Christianity untouched in its loveliness. But he abolished the civil and criminal law of Moses. And he boldly did away with the long-cherished customs and the ordinances of food and diet which in olden times were used as the means of segregating the Israelites from the races around them. Circumcision was no longer necessary, although his divine Master had submitted to the rite; the distinction between beings pure and impure, one of the strongholds of Judaism, was broken down; and finally, as neophytes began to multiply, the Gentile was raised to the level of the Jew.

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The last step taken by the stern Apostle suggests the possibility of his having determined to disconnect totally the reformed religion with Judæa. A Roman himself, and therefore well acquainted with that ruling race, and convinced of their physical and psychical superiority over the Asiatic family, he courted conveyance to Rome, and there energetically carried on the work of propagandism. He died a martyr; but not in vain was his blood shed. From the grain of faith implanted by him in the little dungeon below the Capitol sprang a goodly tree, under whose comfortable shade half the civilized world have found repose. In process of time the offshoots spread amongst the noble barbarians of the North, then beginning to occupy the stage of the world. Christianity, which in Judæa and confined to the East would have been the faith of a few hermits and visionaries, acquired in Europe a depth and fervency of popular belief which shortly overthrew all opposition. It is not wonderful that in this course of events the Christian distinguishes the finger of God!

When the master-minds had vanished from the scene, their successors in the East introduced other and less defensible changes. Christianity in the East was surrounded by the impurest of influences. Its latitude of belief and absence of ceremonial allowed it to be worked upon by the theurgic incarnations of the Buddhists, the demiurgic theories of the Eastern and Western Gnostics, the Triad[Pg 319] of the Brahmans, the Dualism of the Persians, the Pharisaic doctrine of the first Son of the Supreme—Osiris in a new shape—together with the metaphysics of the Ebionites, the Speculatists, and other sects of Grecian or rather of Egyptian origin. From the Straits of Hercules to the coast of Coromandel, it was split up into a legion of heresies and schisms. Syria and Arabia seem to have been the grand central focus. The Church was distracted by the frowardness of her children, and the Religion of Love was dishonoured by malice and hate, persecution and bloodshed.

Still the reformed religion throve—and what tenets do not?—under the influence of a moderate persecution. When, however, under the rule of Constantine, the sun of prosperity poured its splendours full upon the favoured faith, an ascetic enthusiasm, gloomy ideas of seclusion, celibacy, and self-immolation, and a censure on wealth and industry pronounced by religious hallucination, in fact the poisonous portions of the Essene School, spread subtilely through the whole body of Christianity. Everywhere in the East these practices require to be suppressed, not to be encouraged. Where the face of Nature is gay and riant, to impressionize mankind gloom and horror in the World of Spirit are contrasted with the glory and the brilliancy of the scenes of sense. This is the stronghold of the Demonolatry and Witchcraft of the Fetissist,[Pg 320] the abominable paganisms of the Hindu, the superstitious follies of the Guebre, and the terrible Sabaism of the ancient Mexican. All are perfectly suitable to the genius of the people, to the climate, and to the scenery around them.

Thus in Syria and Egypt Christianity became degraded. It sank into a species of idolatry. The acme of absurdity was attained by the Stylites, who conceived that mankind had no nobler end than to live and die upon the capital of a column. Thus nations were weakened. Self-mortification and religious penances soon degenerate a race, especially in hot climates, where a moderate indulgence in the comforts, the luxuries, and the pleasures of life strengthens the body and with it the mind of man. The founders of Christianity had neglected to insist upon daily prayer at stated times, and ceremonial cleanliness, which is next to godliness. They forgot those dietetic directions and prescriptions so necessary in the East, and allowed the use of inebrients, together with impure and unwholesome meats as pork and rabbit’s flesh. Man’s physique suffered from their improvidence. Thus, whilst Christianity increased in numbers and powers, some once populous and flourishing countries—Egypt for instance—declined, and fell to the lowest depths of degradation. It is the race of man that exalts the faith in proportion to man’s moral and material excellence. The faith fails, on the other hand, to raise a degraded race.[Pg 321] The Armenians and Abyssinians have derived little from the specific virtues of Christianity. Inferior in mind and body to the Turks and Arabs, they have degenerated into a semi-idolatry at once ridiculous and contemptible. With respect to moral conduct, a modern traveller (Curzon, Armenia) has had the courage openly to state that in Turkey not one-tenth part of the crime exists which is annually committed in Christendom. Sectarians are fond of citing in favour of their Reformation the superiority of the Protestant over the Catholic cantons of Switzerland. They forget that the former belong to the hardy and industrious nations of the North, and that the latter are in climate and population indolent Southrons.

To return eastward. About the sixth century of its era the Christian world called loudly for reform. When things were at their worst, Muhammad first appeared upon the stage of life. It is here proposed to touch briefly upon the points wherein due measure of justice has not yet been dealt by philosophic and learned Europe to the merits and value of El Islam. The Western nations were so long taught to look upon the forcible propagandism of Muhammad as a creed personally hostile to them, they were so deeply offended by the intolerant Deism and Monotheism of the scheme, and finally so rancoured by their fierce wars and deadly collisions with the Muslim, that certain false views have long been, and still continue to be, part or rather essence of the subject.[Pg 322] And though in this our modern day a wiser and more catholic spirit of inquiry and judgment has not been deterred from manifesting itself, still even in the writings of those who pride themselves most upon candour and freedom from prejudice not a little of the bad old leaven offends the taste. Men do not now, it is true, fear the imputation of “turning Turk”[216]—an expression since become common, and coupled by old writers (Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy) with “betraying father, prince, and country, forsaking religion, and abjuring God.” Nor does there survive in Europe the former rancorous hate for the founder and creed, for the apostles and followers of El Islam. Still, it is to be repeated the Saving Faith has not yet been allowed to assume its proper rank and position amongst the religions of the world. And the moderns rather busy themselves in philosophizing over and in detecting flaws and falsehood rather than in seeking out the truth, the merits, and the beauties of a religion which for thirteen centuries has been the light and “life guidance” of one-fifth of mankind (Carlyle, Hero Worship).

These four are briefly the most popular errors of the present day upon the subject of El Islam:

In the first place, it is determined to be merely a perceptive faith, and therefore adapted only to that portion of mankind whose minds, still undeveloped and uncultivated, are unripe for a religion of prin[Pg 323]ciples. This is partly correct of the corrupted, untrue of the pure, belief; it will somewhat apply to the tenets of the Turks and Persians, but not to those of the first Muslims and the modern Wahhabis. The spirit of the religion, its sentiments, and its æsthetics were committed to the poets of El Islam, and right worthily have they fulfilled their task. It is not too much to assert that almost every celebrated metrical composition amongst Muslims is either directly or indirectly devotional. Even the licentious Anacreons of Persia and India, Hafiz and Jafar i Zatalli, disguise their grossness under a garb of mystical double entente.

But even in their purely spiritual songs and hymns the poets of El Islam do not betray that poverty of invention and puerility of imagination that distinguish the religious rhymesters of Christianity. In the great and noble literature of England, for instance, there is but one poem founded upon the base of revelation—Paradise Lost. Who can arise from its perusal without the conviction that a splendid genius has so fettered himself with his theme that many ballad-mongers have produced more poetical effects upon the reader? Who rises without disgust at the dialogues of the Father and the Son in which is discussed at length Calvinistic sectarianism? And what Christian, who deems his Holy Trinity a sacred mystery of the Spirit beyond, not contrary to, material reason, would not blush to[Pg 324] see his Divinity thus degraded in the eyes of the stern deistical Muslim?

The Koran—the only standard of divine Truth universally admitted by El Islam—consists of threefold matter: of historical and legendary lore, of principles moral and psychical, and of materials for a loose and scattered code of laws. And here, it may be observed, that, with perhaps the exception of the Pentateuch, which we have seen required its tradition, no code embodied in the sacred writings of any race has sufficed to govern it. What Christian nation has ever been ruled by Christian law? Even its codes are either of its own invention or borrowed from ancient custom or translated from Pagan legislation. No divine system yet promulgated to mankind has sufficed for the civil and criminal wants of future and more civilized generations. And thus it was with the Koran. The precepts of the Saving Faith were not fixed and definite enough for the sensuous and objective spirit of the East. In religion, as in politics, wherever public opinion is lax and impotent, law is, and must be, a mass of stringent ordinances so disposed as to provide for every contingency. Such codes cannot deal in principles and spirit; these must be extracted—by the few that require them—from a well-organized system of practical precepts. Thus the Muslim in the earliest ages sought to supply the imperfections of the code bequeathed to him. A remedy was at[Pg 325] hand. The deceased Prophet’s sayings were still fresh in the minds of his wives and immediate descendants, of his companions, and his early successors. All lent their best endeavours to the pious task. The earliest traditions were of sensible and useful import. Presently the most trivial precepts and the most puerile practices were either forged or remembered by so-called saints who made this collection the business of their lives. Thus in course of time and by slow degrees appeared that bulky mass of traditional lore popularly known as the Ahadis or Sayings and the Sunnat or Doings of the Prophet.

By such arts were subtle practices and silly legends grafted by scholasticism upon the primitive annals and laws of El Islam. In that faith almost every tenet or practice to which the philosopher could object may be traced to the Sunnat and Ahadis; the Koran is wholly free from them. Amongst others, upon these, and upon these solely, must be charged the defect of making the system eminently perceptive. Muhammad, like all other Eastern lawgivers, had suited his ordinances to the genius of his people by addressing them as semi-civilized men. The schools degraded their Muslims to the intellectual rank of babes and sucklings.

Regarding these Sunnat and Ahadis, however, it must be borne in mind that they are purely sectarian. The four self-called orthodox schools hold to one tradition. The principal heresies, as the Shiahs and[Pg 326] the Bayzawi, have their own recognized collections, whence all emanations from impure, that is to say, from other sources, have been carefully removed. But El Islam has existed, and can exist, independently of them. Had the Wahhabis, those Puritans or rather Reformers of the Saving Faith, succeeded in restoring to the Arabs their simple primitive belief, little of the Ahadis and the Sunnat would have been left to misguide and offend mankind.

Secondly, men object that the Saving Faith is one of pure sensuality. It is difficult to divine how this most erroneous estimate could have been formed except by the grossest ignorance. Possibly it was a vicious conclusion thus drawn: that as the Muslim’s Paradise is one of sense, consequently there is no limit to his sensuality in this world. But El Jannat, or the Heavenly Garden, has many mansions; the ignorant and savage, the hungry and sensual Bedawin will taste the flesh of birds, live in a golden house, command any number of angelic wives, and drink the nectars of Kafur and Zingibil. But, as in Christianity so in El Islam, eye hath not seen, nor hath ear heard, nor hath fancy conceived the spiritual joys of those who in mundane life have qualified themselves for heavenly futurity. The popular error that the Muslim Prophet denied immortal souls to women, and therefore degraded them to the mere instruments of man’s comfort and passions, might also have tended to represent El Islam as a scheme of sense. Possibly,[Pg 327] again, the monogamic races of a Northern clime—for monogamy, polygamy, and polyandry are an affair of geography—shocked by the permission to marry four wives and to maintain an indefinite number of concubines, overlooked in characterizing Muhammad’s ordinances the strict limits therein laid down for luxury and pleasure. The Muslim may not take to himself a single spouse, unless able to make a settlement upon her, to support, clothe, and satisfy her. He must act with the most rigid impartiality towards the whole household, and strictly avoid showing undue preference. He is allowed four wives with a view of increasing and multiplying his tribe. Man in hot and enervating climates coming to maturity early, and soon losing the powers which he is tempted by moral as well as physical agencies to abuse, would never raise up a large family as the husband of only one wife. Like the Patriarchs, he must have handmaids. Like the Jews, he must be allowed polygamy and power of divorce. These, forbidden by the ascetic Essene, are necessary to the increase of mankind in the East, and no religion can consecrate an ordinance which, directly opposed to the first law given by the Creator to his creatures (Genesis), tends to check that natural increase of population which is the foundation of all progress and civilization.

Laying aside these considerations as too shallow for discussion, can we call that faith sensual which[Pg 328] forbids a man to look upon a statue or a picture? Which condemns even the most moderate use of inebrients, and indeed is not certain upon the subject of coffee and tobacco? Which will not allow even the most harmless game of chance or skill? Which rigorously prohibits music, dancing, and even poetry and works of fiction upon any but strictly religious subjects? Above all things, which debars man from the charms of female society, making sinful a glance at a strange woman’s unveiled face? A religion whose votaries must pray five times a day at all seasons, in joy as in sorrow, in sickness as in health? A system which demands regular almsgiving and forbids all manner of interest upon money to those who would be saved? Whose yearly fast often becomes one of the severest trials to which the human frame can be exposed? To whom distant pilgrimage with all its trials and hardships is obligatory at least once in life? Whose Prophet exclaimed, like the Founder of Christianity, [Arabic: الفقر فخري: Al-faqru fakhary][217] (Poverty is my pride), and who taught his followers that two things ruin men, “much wealth and many words”?

Those who best know El Islam, instead of charging it with sensuality, lament its leaven of asceticism. They regret to see men investing these fair nether scenes with mourning hues; “the world is the Muslim’s prison, the tomb his stronghold, and Paradise his journey’s end.” But this could not be otherwise.[Pg 329] Asceticism and celibacy are the wonted growth of hot and Southern climates, where man appears liable to a manner of religious monomania. The Brahman householder, after doing his duty to mankind by becoming a husband and the father of a family, ought by the law of Menu to leave the world and to end life a Sanyasi amongst the beasts of the jungle. No religion is more monastic than Buddhism; yet it is atheistic. Thus the votaries of this organized system of selfishness, this vast scheme of profits and losses, reduced to regularity, are deprived of all hope in death, and yet live the most comfortless and unnatural of lives. “The world knows nothing of its greatest men,” is true in more views than one. To the Muslim, time is but a point in illimitable eternity, life is but a step from the womb to the tomb. He passes from this world directly into the other, but not into a new existence; its every aspect and circumstance is as familiar to his mind as is the routine of earthly existence. He has no great secret to learn. The Valley of Death has no shadow for him;[218] no darkness of uncertainty and doubt horrifies his fancy. So it came to pass that, although Muhammad expressly and repeatedly declared, “There is no monkery in El Islam,” few schemes have produced a[Pg 330] more systematic or rigid asceticism. Even before his death monasticism began to appear; and now the Muslim world is overrun with Sufis and Kalandars, with Fakirs and Derwayshes, with Santons and recluses.

The third error is that the Founder of the Saving Faith began his ministry as an enthusiast and ended as an impostor. This is the improved modern fashion of treating the “perjuryose lying Machomete” of our forefathers. We are less gross and dogmatical than they were, though scarcely more charitable or philosophical. The recognized proofs of “imposition” seem to be:

Firstly, the convenient appearance of the Ayát, or inspired Versets. But what would have been their use had they not descended when wanted to solve a difficulty or convey a precept? Do we doubt the Books of Moses because Revelation is conducted upon precisely the same principle? And who will deny that enthusiasm would have produced them more effectually than fraud? It is a general rule that to deceive others well we must first deceive ourselves. He that would be believed in by others must thoroughly believe in himself. Is it likely that such men as Abubekr and Umar would become the victims of a mere fraud, so palpable to every petty annalist and compiler in this our modern day? Neither they nor Muhammad even at his dying hour seem to have doubted his inspiration. The Prophet’s[Pg 331] last words were, “Prayer! Prayer!” And, according to the Shiahs, a few minutes before breathing his last he called for an inkholder and a pen to write the name of his successor. Is this the death-bed scene of a hypocrite or an impostor?

Secondly, the delivery of the inspiration by the Archangel Gabriel, and the frequent visions of heaven and heavenly beings recorded by the Muslim Prophet. Without having recourse to any other explanation, are not instances of the kind perpetually recorded in the history of mankind? And granting that such apparitions are purely subjective, shall we charge with fraud all those subject to them? How often has the Founder of Christianity appeared to the highly imaginative races of Southern Europe? How frequently have fervent Muslims been favoured with “a call” by Muhammad and Ali? Physicians and men of science have accounted for these seemingly marvellous apparitions by natural causes. Why then, unless by the action of mere prejudice, should we determine the same thing to be imposture in one man and yet regard it with reverence in another? Who also has even ventured to decide what the modus inspirandi or the divine afflatus really is? The most ancient theory apparently is that angels ([Greek: αγγελοι: angeloi]) were used as messengers between God and man; and thus the Muslims, whose tenets are identical in this point with the Jews, rank angelic below human nature.

[Pg 332]

Thirdly, the change from peaceful to warlike language, from the arts of eloquence and persuasion to the propagandism of fire and steel. But did not the Founder of Christianity declare, “I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Matt, x. 34)? And did Moses disdain to place carnal weapons in the hands of his people? The great Lawgiver of Israel sanctioned the murder in cold blood of women and childish captives. Even kings were hewed in pieces before the Lord. These atrocities were strictly forbidden by Muhammad. Even forcible proselytism was not allowed. The protégé of El Islam paid a small capitation tax, and was allowed to practise his faith and to worship his God as his law directed. Had, moreover, the Prophet forged the fresh order to propagate his scheme by the sword, surely he was not so shallow an impostor as to leave behind him those peaceful revelations which might so easily have been cast into the fire. No; the man honestly believed, like Moses, that the voice of Allah spoke within him.

The fourth error is that Muhammad, unable to abolish certain superstitious rites and customs of the ancient and Pagan Arabs, incorporated them into his scheme, and thus propitiated many that before avoided him. We have seen that the same might be objected to Moses. But Muhammad may surely have believed in the defilement of Allah’s holy places by Pagans, and have restored them to their pure original[Pg 333] purposes. Thus the Kaabah, that Pantheon of the idolater, was given to El Islam as the house built by Abraham and Ishmael. And what antiquary so wise as to declare that the Friend of God did not visit Mecca and there lay the foundations of a mosque and an abode?[219] The gigantic tombs of Adam and Eve at Mecca and Jeddah were in the olden times places of litholatry. Yet might not the numerous Arab Christians, in whose religion Muhammad believed before the old dispensation was abrogated by a new scheme, have had traditions concerning the meeting of our first parents on the Mount of Arafat, and their sepulture in the Holy Land? Mecca was at that time consecrated by no less than five religions. The Guebre had established there the Shrine of Saturn. The Hindu had made it the residence of the third person of his triad. The Pagan Arabs had erected there a gigantic Pantheon. The Jews revered it because, as Ibn Shaybat relates, Moses and Aaron performed pilgrimages there; when the famous Tobba Judaized, he invested the house with a splendid curtain. And, finally, the Christians, according to some authors, had procured admission into the Kaabah for the images of the Virgin and Child. Colonists and expatriated men readily connect the remarkable events and incidents of their religion and history[Pg 334] with the strange objects revered in foreign lands. The Muslims in Sindh, as an instance, have occupied in force most of the sacred places of the Hindus; often, too, both Monotheist and Polytheist worship at the same shrine. The original Yoni becomes a Da'asah, or footprint of Hazrat Ali; and the sacred alligator of the Hindus is revered as the creation of a Muslim saint. Thus in Ceylon Buddha’s retreat has become Adam’s Peak. The description of St. Mary and the Holy Infant resting in the shade of the sycamore tree of Heliopolis in the old apocryphal gospels is clearly borrowed from the old Egyptian symbol, Isis with Horus in her lap sitting under the Hiero-sycaminon. In the incorporations of traditions then current amongst the Arab Christians there is no valid reason for charging Muhammad with fraud.

To rank the Saving Faith amongst the religions of the world, it is necessary briefly to relate what its founder did for mankind. A youth of noble origin, but fallen fortunes, as was the Prophet of Nazareth, he was strengthened like the Jewish Lawgiver Moses by travel, solitude, and meditation. Jebel Hira was his Mount Horeb. But though surrounded by learned Jew and Christian, his education was defective; and though, a genuine Arab, he thought strongly and clearly, and he was a perfect master of eloquence, he had none of that knowledge which passes for a preternaturalism amongst a barbarous people. His probity won for him in early manhood the[Pg 335] surname of El Amin, or the Trusty, and his noble qualities enabled him to marry the wealthy widow in whose service he had lived a hireling.

After a long course of meditation, fired with anger by the absurd fanaticism of the Jews, the superstitions of the Syrian and Arabian Christians, and the horrid idolatries of his unbelieving countrymen, an enthusiast too—and what great soul has not been an enthusiast?—he determined to reform those abuses which rendered revelation contemptible to the learned and prejudicial to the vulgar. He introduced himself as one inspired to a body of his relations and fellow-clansmen. The step was a failure, except that it won for him a proselyte worth a thousand sabres in the person of Ali, son of Abu Talib. With an uncommon mixture of prudence and energy he pursued his task till he overcame the hate, the ridicule, and the persecution of such men as Abubekr, Umar, and Usman. Expelled by the violence of his enemies, he fled his native city—a wonderful contrast to the fierceness and the impatience of his race. But after a long course of meekness and longsuffering in the work of proselytizing, his spirit, like that of Moses, rose high against violence and oppression, and at last—for he was an Arab—abrogating his peaceful precepts he appealed to the God of Battles in his combat for a righteous cause. Heroes and mighty men like Hamzah Khalid and Amru el Ays flocked[Pg 336] to his standard, and his personal valour and high qualities as a guerilla soldier soon led him on to fortune. After several years’ exile, he re-entered as a visitor the walls of his native city, whence he had fled persecuted and proscribed. And he lived long enough to witness the splendid success of his early projects.

Abolishing all belief in a local or personal God, he announced to his Arabs the One Supreme, now in terms as terrible as man could bear, then in words so lofty and majestic that they sank for ever into the heart-core of his followers. He broke to pieces with his own hand the images of the Kaabah, and he witnessed the total extinction of a gigantic idolatry—a work of itself sufficient to immortalize the memory of one reformer. He said of the Deity, “He is not enclosed by the bonds of space or by the limits of time; he hath no form which requireth a former from whom he is free; and whatever concerning him entereth thy mind to that he is the contrary.” He preached Allah, the God unapprehensible, incomprehensible, omnipotent, all-beneficent, spiritual, and eternal.

He revived the earliest scheme of Mosaicism and the pristine simplicity of Christianity by making every man priest and patriarch of his own household. Preceding faiths had attempted to elevate human nature above itself, and had, as might be expected,[Pg 337] degraded the object of their endeavours. He inculcated the dignity of man instead of perpetually preaching human degradation, he respected mortal nature, and therefore he made his scheme eminently practical with something of a higher flight. He did away with the incestuous marriage with a father’s widow; he abolished the Wad el Banat, or the murderous inhumation of female children. He corrected the laxity and immorality of the age by making drinking and gambling penal offences, and by forbidding modest women to appear in public unveiled. Finally, to mention no other great and good works, by the enunciation of a modified Fatalism—they greatly err who confound it with an absolute Predestination—he attempted to check that tendency of self-mortification which he could not wholly expel from the affections of his countrymen. He died, not like an enthusiast or an impostor, but as one true to the tenets and practices of his life; and he bequeathed to the world a Law and a Faith than which none has been more firmly or more fervently believed in by mankind, whose wide prevalence—wider indeed than that of any other creed—alone suffices to prove its extrinsic value to the human family. This much did Muhammad for his fellow-creatures.

Can we wonder that the Arabian Prophet, finding himself, despite the accidents of fortune, of time, and place, so much in advance of his age, so solitary[Pg 338] a being amongst the fanatic, the superstitious, and the debased, fondly believed himself Allah’s Apostle, and the chosen instrument of man’s regeneration? Considering the ardent temperament of the Arab, his high development of veneration, and his discerning the divine hand in every human work and change, can we marvel that he attributed the fire of his soul and the strong workings of his mind to a something preternatural—an inspiration or a revelation? The celebrated mystic Mansur el Hallaj was stoned by the crowd for using the words, “I am Truth” (i.e. the Lord). But his Sufi confraternity still explain away the apparent irreverence of the saying, and believe him to have been, as was said of Spinoza, a God-intoxicated man.

Muhammad’s mission, then, was one purely of reform. He held that four dispensations had preceded his own, and that his object was to restore their pristine purity. But the Adamical had been obsoletized by the Noachian scheme; and this by the Mosaic, which in its turn becoming defunct, had left all its powers and prerogatives to Christianity; thus also the latter dispensation in the fulness of time had been superseded by the revelations of El Islam, the Saving Faith. All the past was now effete and abrogated. All the future would be mere imposture; for his was the latest of religions, he the Soul of the Prophets. He accused the Jews and Christians of entire corruption, of spiritual death,[Pg 339] and preached to them with fervour a new faith, a doctrine of life. He openly charged them with having altered and remodelled their sacred writings.[220] Nor could this charge be denied. It is now, and was then, impossible to discover what Moses wrote or what was written for him by Ezra the scribe and other compilers. The difference of style and language, the frequent changes from the first person to the third, and finally the account of the Law[Pg 340]giver’s death and burial conclusively prove that the Pentateuch had in its present state more than one author. Probably the original draught was concise and short.

Even the Koran contained little that was new. With the exception of some legends, the addition of some regulations touching the daily prayers and the purification of property, with a few ordinances as that of Diyat or blood-money, disallowed by the Pentateuch (Numb. xxxv. and Deut. xix.), but rendered necessary by the state of Arab society, and some dietetic modifications—the camel for instance and the horse were recognized as pure food,—the Koran might almost be extracted from the Mosaic and Rabbinical writings, from the Evangelists and apocryphalists of the Christian era. There is also but little to commend in it, except its fiery and commanding eloquence. As a code of laws it is eminently defective. He who could write such a work could have written much better. Muhammad, however, relied for the success of his mission upon far higher claims than any book.

Muhammad laid no claims to prophecy or to miracles. He called himself El Rasúl, and El Nabbi, the announcer of good tidings from Allah to the Adamites. He did not give his name to a new system of belief; his ordinances were designated in a mass as El Islam, the Salvation or the Saving Faith. His night journey to heaven,[Pg 341] the subject of so much opprobrious declamation, was either a vision or a dream. The splitting of the moon, a tale so monstrously told by his posterity, rests upon no broader basis than a line in the Koran which might properly be translated: “The hour [of Judgment] shall come, and the moon shall cleave asunder.” Probably this absurdity was the invention of followers who determined to dispute for their lawgiver with Joshua’s command over the host of heaven. An ignorant Afghan is said to have boasted that his Pir, or spiritual pastor, the celebrated poet Abd el Kahman, was in the habit of making night journeys like Muhammad to Paradise, and to have bastinadoed the holy man severely when, taxed with impiety, he denied the irreverent assertion. Such a Muhaddis, or relater of the Prophet’s sayings, as Abu Hurayrah, the Father of the Kitten, may fairly, to judge him by his recognized writings, be suspected of such a forgery. Muhammad the more especially disdained the claim to miraculous powers which, as those who know Eastern lands, belong to every petty saint and village santon. The “most extraordinary of ordinary men,” the historian Hume, inferred that, because he himself had never seen a miracle, no one else ever saw a miracle. The Oriental traveller will disbelieve in miracles for the opposite reason—because he has seen so many.

The rapid and extensive spread of El Islam,[Pg 342] considered by the Faithful a remarkable instance of divine aid, is to be accounted for without the intervention of a Deity. The Arabs poured forth from their great centre, till the whole surplus population was exhausted. Everywhere they appeared as liberators of slaves, especially in Turkey and Persia, where an artificial and over-refined state of society had produced tyrannical despots, an innumerable and insatiable nobility, and a people robbed and spoiled. Another circumstance favoured the growth of “the Religion of the Heavens and the Earth.” Whether we consider the Arabs to have been the aborigines of their native wilds, or, as the modern theory is, we derive them from the Highlands of Æthiopia, it is certain that their great success lay amongst a kindred people speaking cognate languages. From the earliest times, indeed, Arabia had sent forth several extensive streams of emigration. Essentially an Asiatic form of belief, El Islam could not progress beyond the barriers opposed to it by geography. Not having a St. Paul to modify, to change it, the Saving Faith broke upon the rock of a new race.

But this I claim for El Islam.

The recurring purpose which runs through the world is chiefly manifested by the higher esteem in which man holds man. David made him little lower than the angels. Christianity, a system of asceticism, confirmed this estimate: we are fallen beings, fallen not[Pg 343] through our own fault; condemned to eternal death, not by our own demerits; ransomed by a Divine Being, not through our own merits. El Islam, on the contrary, raised man from this debased status, and with the sound good sense which characterizes the creed inspired and raised him in the scale of creation by teaching him the dignity of human nature. Thus modern Spiritualism is giving a shock to Christianity, whereas El Islam has power to resist it.

But, however El Islam prospered amongst the kindred races, it fell flat elsewhere. No power of propagandism availed in China. In Southern Spain the faith maintained itself for a long time; its letter and spirit, however, were almost lost. The Zegris and Abencerrages were European knights, not Eastern. And when pushed forward into a Northern people, a single destructive defeat sufficed to set for it bounds which it has never attempted to cross. In Hungary and Austria again, with a tenfold power, it failed to establish a footing; and when “Holy Russia” became sufficiently united to be powerful, El Islam was cast out like a corpse.

Again, what reconciled the ancient Muslim and endears the modern to his creed is its noble simplicity. The votary has little or nothing comparatively speaking to pay for his moral and spiritual necessary—religion. He has no tithes, and few fees. His places of worship are built and maintained by religious[Pg 344] bequests, carefully guarded by law and custom. Muhammad Ali, it is true, confiscated the “Wakf” left to many of the Cairene mosques and tombs. He also, following the example of Turkey, substituted at Mecca and El Medinah yearly pensions for the produce of their ancient extensive church lands. But he carried out these measures among Egyptians, a race of men whose languor and apathy require repeated inducements to fight for the faith; in Kabul and Bokhara the boldest and most powerful extortioners would hardly venture upon such a sacrilege. The Islam Muslim, moreover, has no priesthood; those whose duty it is to preach and pray to the people are not churchmen; they temporarily receive from the Wahil, or mosque-warden, a few piastres per month; but all must live by some honest secular calling. Even the Sultan, the Defender of the Faith, the Representative of the Khalifs, and the Vicegerent of Allah upon earth, does not disdain handicraft, to make and sell toothpicks. Finally, the Muslim has no baptism; he is circumcised by a barber; he can marry himself with a reason for deviating from popular custom; and he can be bathed, buried, and prayed over by any lay fellow-religionist.

It is generally believed in Europe that El Islam is on the decline; and the old prejudices bequeathed by Crusades tend to make the assertion popular. It is based upon insufficient grounds. With as much correctness might the Muslim predict the present[Pg 345] fall of Christianity by the heresies and schisms that distract the Church, from the wide spread of visionary Swedenborgians and of the shallow imposture Mormonism.[221] Turkey and Egypt may show traces of latitudinarianism, even as France and Germany have done; no Muslim people, however, has yet ventured to abolish El Islam by law. But Arabia and Afghanistan still stand firm as in the first ages of the faith. Generally it may be remarked that in Eastern religions the propagandism and missioning of the West has tended to strengthen and confirm the tenets against which they have been directed. Thus Hinduism, after giving a few outcasts to Christianity, has entrenched itself behind the stronghold of Vedantism; the learned are pure Deists, the ignorant pure idolaters. Buddhism remains untouched, and the very nature of its encyclopedian tenets renders it unassailable. Even the sect of Guebres has been strengthened by polemical arguments, and bids fair to rival its antagonists in disputative theology. In spite of the mighty force brought against it, the Parsee converts to Christianity might be numbered on a man’s fingers. Nor can these faiths yield to compulsion. The laws of Menu, of Zoroaster, and of Muhammad have still bulwarks not easily to be battered down. And should[Pg 346] Christianity, as it has often threatened, ever meet the Saving Faith in mortal conflict, and the Cross assail the Crescent in the latest of crusades, the Muslim scimitar, rusty as it is with the rust of ages, will prove the good metal of which it was in the beginning forged.

Supposing, however, El Islam abolished by civilization, underminded by the slow action of the Christian Powers closing around it, or become decrepit from old age, what would be the result? Some renewal essentially the same, formally different; some revival of its eternal principle, Monotheism, disguised under a fresh garb of those outward accidents that constitute a religion. Such has ever been the history of the world’s creeds. At all times

emerging from the storm,
Primeval faith uplifts her changeful form,
Mounts from her funeral pile on wings of flame,
And soars and shines another and the same.



[211] Existence of God is not “the common and almost universal belief of mankind.” The truth that there is a God is usually thus demonstrated:

1. Physical argument, in which effects and events are traced to causes, till arrival at a First Cause, uncaused.

2. Argument from final causes and design, of which innumerable evidences in physical and mental worlds point to a Great Original Designer.

3. Moral argument, based upon innate feeling of obligation and responsibility.

4. Historical argument and the consensus of mankind.

[212] The idea that man is a compound being, consisting partly of spirit and partly of matter, mysteriously linked together, and acting and reacting upon each other, is a neocosmic dream. Savages hold mind to be a property of matter, like philosophers.

[213] [Chap i. 46.]

[214] Deuteronomy ix. 9. The term was forty days and nights. Amongst Muslims this has become the recognized period of isolation for those who are being initiated in mystical and magical practices. It is, however, directly opposed to the spirit and letter of El Islam.

[215] A modern philosopher was accustomed to say: “And as for that Christianity which is such, according to the fashion of modern philosophers and pantheists, without a personal God, without immortality, without an individuality of man, without historical faith—it may be a very ingenious and subtle philosophy, but it is no Christianity at all” (Niebuhr).

[216] Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act III., scene ii.

[217] [The program you use to display the Arabic may reverse the word order. Reading right to left, the first word is الفقر.—Transcriber.]

[218] “I think,” said Captain Wyatt, “the Red Indians die better than white men; perhaps from having less fear about the future.” An acute conjecture!

[219] Some geographers identify Massa, the town and castle of the seventh son of Ishmael (Gen. xxv. 14), with Mecca.

[220] Muhammad probably little thought how much more directly this charge was to be brought against his own revelations. The Ayát, or inspired versets, were jotted down without order or time in the Musnad character, which admitted no “vowel points,” upon palm leaves, shoulder blades of sheep, and similar wild substitutes for paper. In this state they were cast into a box, and consigned to the keeping of Hafsah, one of the “Mothers of the Muslims.” After the Prophet’s death they were drawn from their concealment in a state of disorder, which explains their present confusion. An edition of the Ayát was first published by Abubekr, who called it the Koran, or “What shall be read.” This work was full of errors. The second issue was from the hands of Usman, one of whose modern titles is “Scribe of the Koran.” His subjects, however, put him to death, though he had surrounded himself with a rampart of sacred writings, for his impiety in meddling with inspiration. Finally, Ali the Khalif, who was more of a scholar than most Arabs, who wrote poetry, indited proverbs, and according to some improved the syllabarium by the invention of vowel points, recalled all others, and issued his own. The Shiah schism to the present day declare that a whole Juz, or section, of which the Koran now contains thirty, was omitted and destroyed by the Khalifs hostile to Ali as it was in his praise. Some passages from the lost revelation are actually quoted in their theological works. It is true that nothing in the sacred writings of the Muslims, not a jot or tittle, can be altered, added, or omitted. Like the Jews, they have numbered and recorded every letter and vowel point. Unfortunately they have taken this wise step too late; as the Eastern proverb is, they have looked to halter and heel-ropes after the horse is stolen.

[221] [In his City of the Saints, written after his visit to Salt Lake City, and published in 1861, Burton takes a different view of Mormonism.]

[Pg 347]


N.B.—Numbers printed in italics refer to the footnotes.



Archaic, obsolete and inconsistent spellings are maintained from the original book. There were no obvious misspellings. No changes were made to the text with the following exceptions:

The cover was produced by transcriber using images in the book, and is hereby placed in the public domain.

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