So much interest being centred in this spot, I give many entries made on the subject. "I met John Cumming; he signed the conveyance of East Cliff to me. I paid him" (the purchase money and the value of the furniture), "after he had executed all the deeds. I also paid Messrs Dawes and Chatfield for the conveyance, &c., L124, 4s. 4d. May the Almighty bless and preserve my dear Judith and myself to enjoy the possession of it for many years, that we may also have the happiness of seeing our intended Synagogue completed, and always have a large congregation."
They engaged Mr A. D. Mocatta as architect; he submitted drawings for the Synagogue, which were at once put into the hands of the builders. The architect estimated the cost for erecting the Synagogue at between L1500 and L1600, exclusive of the interior, which was to cost L300 or L400.
The work was commenced, and on the 29th of July the excavations for the foundation walls were complete. "Please heaven," said Mr Montefiore to his wife as they walked round the adjoining field, "to-morrow night, after Sabbath, we shall have the happiness of placing the two first bricks preparatory to our laying the foundation stone on the eve of the new moon of Tamooz," 5691 A.M. (9th August 1831).
In accordance with this arrangement, they proceeded to Hereson the next evening at nine o'clock, accompanied by Mrs Justina Cohen, her daughter Lucy, and Mr Benjamin Gomperz. On the ground they were met by Cresford the builder, with his nephew, also Grundy with his son, and Craven his partner. Everything having been properly prepared, Mr Montefiore covered the part on which the wall near the Holy Ark for the reception of the sacred scrolls of the Pentateuch was to be built, with Terra Santa, which they had brought with them from Jerusalem. Upon this Mr Montefiore, having spread some mortar, fixed four bricks. Mrs Montefiore, Mrs Cohen, Miss Lucy Cohen, and Mr Gomperz each spread some Terra Santa, and fixed two bricks, praying the Almighty to prosper the undertaking and bless them.
The following is the account given by Mr Montefiore of the ceremony of laying the foundation stone.
"Tuesday, 9th August.—New moon of Tamooz. After reading my prayers and reciting the Psalms cxiii. and cxviii., I called at seven A.M. on David Mocatta, the architect, and informed him that we should lay the first stone at eight o'clock. We walked to Hereson, and with the blessing of the Almighty, we laid the first stone of a Holy Synagogue, assisted by our dear and honoured mother, by Abby Gompertz, her daughter Juliana, Solomon and Sarah Sebag, Rebecca Salomons, Justina Cohen, and her daughter Lucy, Louis Cohen, Floretta, his wife, and their son Henry, Nathaniel Lindo, David Mocatta, my dear Judith, and myself. The builders were also present. After the stone was placed, we deposited in a hole, made in it for that purpose, a glass bottle containing the inscription, signed by myself and my dear Judith; a large stone was then placed above it, they were then firmly riveted together with iron bolts and boiling lead. Louis Cohen, Solomon Sebag, Rebecca, and I went afterwards into the cottage, and read the Psalms known by the Hebrew name of Hallel (special praise). They all breakfasted with us at the Albion Hotel, where we were joined by Adelaide Israel, whose delicate state of health would not permit her to witness the ceremony."
Mr Montefiore gives the following: "This day, 20th August, five and twenty years ago, in 1806, J. E. D. robbed me of all I possessed in the world, and left me deeply in debt; but it pleased the Almighty in His great mercy to enable me in the course of a few years to pay everyone who had been a sufferer through me to the full extent of their loss."
LORD BROUGHAM AND THE JEWS—THE JEWISH POOR IN LONDON—MR MONTEFIORE HANDS HIS BROKER'S MEDAL TO HIS BROTHER—DEDICATION OF THE SYNAGOGUE AT HERESON—THE LORDS REJECT THE JEWISH DISABILITIES BILL.
On his return to London he called on Mr Wood at the Earl Marshal's office, and paid him L32, 17s. 6d., the fees on the grant for having the word Jerusalem in Hebrew characters in his crest.
In October 1831 his friends brought him the account of the Reform Bill having been thrown out at its second reading by the Lords—majority, 41. Mr Montefiore, on hearing that Lord-Chancellor Brougham had spoken in a very illiberal spirit of the Jews, observed, "So much for Whig friends." Still he did not despair, and entertained the belief that their just cause would ultimately meet with better success.
A month later he attended an important meeting of the Board of Representatives of the Spanish and Portuguese Community, established to watch over the general sanitary condition of the poor of the congregation. He generously contributed to the funds to enable the Board to purchase warm clothing, blankets, &c., for the poor.
In the same year he completed the purchase, and took possession of, a cottage and garden near the site on which his Synagogue was being erected.
The Rev. Dr Hirschel having submitted for his approval a number of circular letters addressed to the Hebrew communities in America, wherein he reminds them of their duty to support their indigent brethren in the Holy Land, Mr Montefiore affixes his name to each letter as requested by the Chief Rabbi, in token of his appreciation of the good cause.
Among the entries referring again to financial matters is the following interesting record:—
"On the 31st of January 1815 I was admitted a sworn broker of the city of London. This day, 16th May 1831, I signed over my medal to my brother Horatio, free; it cost me L1625. May heaven prosper his endeavours with it."
On the 25th of the same month he gave L100 to be handed to the Lord Mayor for the transfer of the said medal.
Happily in our days it is less difficult for a Jew to become a sworn broker. A gentle breeze of justice for all human beings alike has begun to disperse the dark clouds of prejudice and oppression, and the more the light of wisdom and truth illumines the world, the greater will be the happiness and loyalty of those who have hitherto been deprived of the rights of ordinary citizens.
On Wednesday evening, the 27th of June 1832 (5592-3 A.M.), corresponding this year to the Hebrew date of the anniversary of their wedding day, they took possession of East Cliff Lodge, Mr Montefiore having, in accordance with an injunction of the Sacred Scriptures (Deuteronomy vi. 9), previously affixed mezuzas (phylacteries) to all the doors.
Mr and Mrs Montefiore had intended to have an inscription placed over the entrance to the Synagogue. It appears, however, that the idea was finally abandoned, though there is a square moulding over the door, and a parallelogram on the northern wall of the Synagogue purposely made for it. I once asked him the reason of this omission, and from his reply I gathered that he did not wish the building to unduly attract the attention of strangers. The modest appearance of the Synagogue as it now stands, having neither steeple nor turret, windows in the walls nor arches over the door, evidently confirms this idea.
Mr H. Lehren, of Amsterdam, a gentleman well known for the interest he took in promoting the welfare of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, had appealed to him this year for his intercession in a lawsuit which brought him to England, and Mr Montefiore gladly helped him by his personal exertions to accomplish his object. Mr Lehren, thus encouraged, asked of Mr Montefiore yet another favour, which was to permit his name to be enlisted in the ranks of the "Friends of Zion." Mr Montefiore, in answer, assured Mr Lehren that his heart had ever been filled with a love for Jerusalem, and that he had been a staunch supporter of a resolution, recently adopted at a Committee consisting of members of his congregation, to the effect that L60 should be sent annually to the Holy Land as a contribution to the fund intended for the support of the poor. Mr Lehren expressed great satisfaction at what he had heard, and enquired in what proportion the above amount would be distributed among the four Holy Cities. Mr Montefiore informed him that the Committee had divided the sum into thirty shares, of which they gave twelve to Jerusalem, seven to Safed, six to Hebron, and five to Tiberias.
To complete the number of Sacred Scrolls which Mr Montefiore wished to deposit in his Synagogue, he made a purchase of one particularly recommended to him, and also procured prayer-books for the members of the congregation.
In this year, 1833, Mr and Mrs Montefiore had the happiness of seeing their heartfelt wish realised in the completion of the Synagogue at Hereson.
Invitations were sent out on the 23rd of May to the ecclesiastical chiefs of both the Spanish and Portuguese and the German congregations; to the readers, wardens, and other officers of the Synagogue; to presidents and representatives of all important institutions, and to more than two hundred private friends and acquaintances, requesting the honour of their company at the dedication of the Synagogue at Ramsgate on Sunday, the 16th of June, at 5 o'clock, and at dinner after the ceremony at East Cliff Lodge. Bands of music and first-class singers were engaged, 4000 lamps for the illumination of the gardens were ordered, fireworks and balloons tastefully prepared, and a large temporary room erected, occupying the whole quadrangle of the court at East Cliff Lodge. Handsome chandeliers and large tablets beautifully inscribed with the prayer for the Royal Family were ordered for the Synagogue.
The morning of the 16th was ushered in by a deluge of rain and a heavy gale of wind, much to the mortification of the visitors. Mr Montefiore and his brother Horatio, who had brought a silver cup and spice-box as a present for the Synagogue, went together to Ramsgate, and engaged all the sedan chairs in the town to take the ladies from the public road to the Synagogue, and ordered several loads of sand to cover the walk. About two o'clock the Rev. Dr Hirschel arrived. The rain was actually falling in torrents at the moment, but he consoled Mr and Mrs Montefiore, saying, "All things must not go as we wish, since the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem." He had, however, scarcely been in the house ten minutes when the clouds dispersed and the sun appeared. At ten o'clock, when they had a rehearsal in the Synagogue, all were much out of spirits at the deplorable appearance of the weather; but by three the rain had ceased, and the evening proved delightful.
The dedication commenced at six o'clock. The founder and his friends brought the Sacred Scrolls of the Law to the door of the Synagogue, where, standing, they chanted: "Open unto us the gates of righteousness, we will enter them and praise the Lord." "This is the gate of the Lord, the righteous shall enter therein." The doors being then opened, they said on entering: "How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob! thy tabernacle, O Israel! O Lord, I have ever loved the habitation of Thy house and the dwelling-place of Thy glory. We will come unto Thy Tabernacle and worship at Thy footstool." They then advanced, and the readers and choristers sang, "Blessed be he who cometh in the name of the Lord: we will bless ye from the House of the Lord," and other verses from the Sacred Scriptures bearing on the same subject.
The procession then went round the almember in the Synagogue seven times, during each circuit one of the seven Psalms—xclxi., xxx., xxiv., lxxxiv., cxxii., cxxx., c.—being chanted, after which Mr Montefiore ascended the pulpit and offered up a Hebrew prayer, of which the following is a translation:—
"Almighty God! whose eyes are upon all the ways of the sons of men, and by whose will their paths are established; wherewith shall I come before Thee, how shall I acknowledge the kindness Thou hast shown me from my youth? How great the goodness Thou hast vouchsafed unto me, in granting the fulfilment of the ardent desire Thou didst awaken in my heart and in that of the companion of my life, to visit the inheritance of our forefathers, to traverse the sea and behold the Holy Land, a land which is under Thy special providence. Thou hast protected us on our departure and aided our return: our steps failed not, we have passed through the Land, our feet have stood within thy gates, O Jerusalem! From the sight of our own eyes are we conscious of the refulgent light that once shone brightly on our country, and which yet faintly glimmers, though she has become desolate. Thou hast inspired us with a contrite spirit to perceive and declare Thy Almighty power over all the inhabitants of the world, therefore has Thy servant found in his heart to offer this public thanksgiving for Thy past bounties, and earnestly to implore Thy future protection in this humble sanctuary. Out of Thine own gifts I dedicated it to Thee as a freewill offering and a lasting testimony to show forth Thy loving-kindness in the morning and Thy faithfulness every night. O Lord God of Israel! incline Thine ear to the prayer of Thy servant. Bless, I beseech Thee, my revered and honoured mother, grant her length of days in the fulness of joy, and happiness with me, my beloved wife, my brothers and sisters, and with all their descendants, even unto the third and fourth generation. Strengthen our hearts to observe Thy precepts at all times. Truly nothing has failed of that of which Thou hast forewarned us through Moses Thy servant, for we have broken Thy covenant and not observed Thy Commandments; so are we surely convinced that we shall receive from Thee the promised good, and our days will be renewed as of old; Thou wilt fulfil Thy words unto Ezekiel Thy prophet, that 'The nations shall know that I the Lord rebuild the ruined places and plant that which was desolate; I the Lord have spoken it; I will do it.' Let our prayer and supplication, which we offer towards Thy chosen city, ascend to heaven, Thy dwelling-place. Gather together our dispersed in our days and in the lifetime of the whole House of Israel, that all nations, even from the ends of the earth, shall approach Thee, to call, all of them, on the name of the Lord, and the Lord shall be King over all the earth. Then the Lord alone shall be acknowledged, and His name be one. Amen."
Mr Montefiore, having concluded the prayer, descended from the pulpit, and the congregation chanted several Hebrew hymns. The prayer for the Royal Family was then said, and the service concluded with Psalm cl.
"At eight o'clock," writes Mr Montefiore, "the dedication finished, all delighted with the ceremony as well as with the music. May Heaven's blessing attend it."
At nine about eighty-two sat down to dinner. The gardens were beautifully illuminated, and during dessert a band played in the tent.
The next morning Mr Montefiore accompanied Dr Herschel to the Synagogue, followed by all their friends and visitors. After prayers they returned to East Cliff Lodge, where the time was spent in receiving the congratulations of their friends. The day was brought to a close by a most agreeable entertainment, a description of which I give in his own words.
"Soon after nine in the evening our company began to assemble, consisting of all our neighbours as well as our own party. The wind had been exceedingly high, almost too much for the lamps to keep alight. Providence kindly allayed it, and the night was beautifully calm. Our garden was splendidly illuminated; we had a band of twenty-four performers on the lawn and another in the dining-room. All our rooms were filled, many visitors strolling about the grounds to witness the illumination. Before eleven the fireworks were displayed, and exceeded our most sanguine expectations; the company was delighted. This over, the tent-room was opened for supper; it made a splendid appearance. All seemed happy and gratified; dancing was kept up till about two o'clock. The gardens looked magnificent, nothing could have added to the grandeur of the scene. I glory in the occasion, and that the Almighty has most bountifully provided us with the means. To my dear and much-valued wife I am indebted for the success of the entertainment. We can never forget the two last days."
The next day his mother and the greater number of relatives and friends left Ramsgate, and in the month of July we find Mr and Mrs Montefiore again in London, Mr Montefiore following his usual vocations, though only for a short time; for on the 13th of the same month there is an entry in his diary dated East Cliff, which gives striking evidence of the love and veneration he felt for the sacred edifice he had raised to the honour and glory of God.
"We had the happiness," he writes, "of attending our Synagogue morning, afternoon, and evening. Thanks to Heaven for a very happy day. Our Synagogue looked like Paradise. I pointed out to my dear Judith the spot, not more than ten or fifteen steps from the Synagogue, in which I should like my mortal remains to rest when it shall please the Almighty to take my soul to Eternal Glory, should I depart this world at or near East Cliff." His wife consented. Their love was great, and they did not wish even in death to be parted.
Mr Montefiore's attention having now been drawn to the urgency of continued exertions in the furtherance of the Emancipation Bill, he requested Mr G. R. Dawson to intercede with his brother-in-law, Sir Robert Peel, to withdraw his opposition to the Bill, and also took other steps in the interest of the cause.
A Bill was again brought before the Committee of the whole House of Commons, "That it is expedient to remove all civil disabilities affecting Her Majesty's subjects of the Jewish religion with the like exceptions as are provided by the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, with reference to Her Majesty's subjects professing the Roman Catholic religion."
The second reading was carried by a majority of 137; it was also read a third time, but in the Upper House, where the Duke of Sussex presented a petition signed by 7000 inhabitants of Westminster in favour of the Jews, the Bill was thrown out by a majority of 50.
Mr Montefiore continued to take the greatest interest in all important meetings of various committees, especially in those of his own community. Referring to one of the latter charged with the appointment of a lecturer, Mr Montefiore says: "The committee recommended a salary of L35 a year, but afterwards reduced it to L30. The resolution, however, was amended, and only L20 was granted." The particulars of this salary are interesting when compared with a salary to which a competent lecturer of the present day may consider himself fully entitled. It sounds strange to hear of fixing the salary for the services of a gentleman who has completed a University education, combined with special studies of theology, much lower than that which is generally offered to an upper servant in a gentleman's house. It can only be explained by the supposition that the candidate may have been simultaneously filling another and more lucrative office, which did not interfere with his duties as lecturer.
ILLNESS OF MR MONTEFIORE—HIS RECOVERY—SIR DAVID SALOMONS PROPOSED AS SHERIFF—VISIT OF THE DUCHESS OF KENT AND PRINCESS VICTORIA TO RAMSGATE—MR MONTEFIORE'S HOSPITALS—NAMING OF THE VESSEL BRITANNIA BY MRS MONTEFIORE—A LOAN OF FIFTEEN MILLIONS.
In the year 1834 much anxiety was felt for Mr Montefiore by his friends in consequence of a severe illness by which he was attacked. For several months he was under the treatment of eminent surgeons, and on his recovery his strength was so low, that a journey to the South of France was deemed necessary.
He accordingly left England, accompanied by his devoted wife, who had during his whole illness tended him with loving care. Mr Ashton Rey, one of his medical advisers, in a letter he once wrote to Mr Montefiore, observed that Mrs Montefiore was one of the best wives he had ever seen, never moving from her husband's bedside day or night except to snatch a few hours' necessary repose.
They remained abroad till August, the change of air having had the desired effect upon him, and on his arrival at East Cliff he was again in the enjoyment of his usual health.
They were both much disappointed on their return to hear the result of the Jewish Disabilities Bill, which, after having been passed in the Lower House, had been sent to the Upper House, where it was lost by 130 votes against 38. But still they did not lose courage, and hoped for the ultimate victory of the good cause.
There is only one entry after this referring to political matters. It is to the effect that Mr N. M. Rothschild had been with the Duke of Wellington and advised him to form a Liberal Government, and to consent to some reforms; saying to His Grace that he must go with the world, for the world would not go with him.
On the last page of the diary he writes: "This night (31st December) brings me to the end of my book as well as to that of the year 1834. When I reflect on the situation I was in during a long period of this year, languishing on a bed of sickness, in severe pain and affliction, on the eve of undergoing a dangerous operation, how can I be sufficiently thankful to the Almighty for manifold blessings I now enjoy, saved by His great mercy from the grave."
Praying for a continuation of former mercies, he concludes with a copy of the 85th Psalm.
The year 1835 will ever be noted in the history of civilisation as one in which the dawning light of liberty began to inspire comfort in the hearts of the unwearied strugglers for equal rights for the Jews.
On May the 7th Mr Montefiore writes: "I called at Downing Street on the Right Hon. Spring-Rice, Chancellor of the Exchequer. I was immediately admitted, and received by him in the most friendly manner. I thanked him for having at my request appointed Jacob Montefiore one of Her Majesty's Commissioners for the Colonisation of South Australia. The Chancellor spoke of the many new schemes now afloat of companies with small capital, and said he would always be glad to see me."
A month later he went to the Guildhall, and heard David Salomons proposed to the Livery as one of the Sheriffs for London and Middlesex. Sir John Campbell having introduced a measure, the Sheriffs Declaration Bill, which by the repeal of the Test and Corporation Act in 1828 enabled a Jew to enter into the office without violating his own religious convictions, Mr David Salomons was elected without opposition and "made a very good speech," Mr Montefiore observes, "in returning thanks."
The arrival in Ramsgate of the Duchess of Kent and Princess Victoria (Her present Majesty) is described by Mr Montefiore as follows:—
"This (September 29th) is a very busy day. At ten I was at the Town Hall; at 11 the committee and many of the inhabitants, both on horse and on foot, went to the extremity of the parish to receive their Royal Highnesses the Duchess of Kent and Princess Victoria. The Deputy of the Town and myself headed the procession; we walked by the side of the Royal carriage bareheaded all the way to Albion House. Thousands of people were in the streets, the houses all gaily ornamented with flags and boughs of trees. The Duchess, on entering the house, sent Sir George Conroy to request that the gentlemen of the committee would come in to receive her thanks for their attention. I went in among the number, and was introduced. She expressed herself delighted; the Princess was also much pleased. They had appointed to-morrow at eleven o'clock to receive the address. About four I again joined the committee at the head of the pier. Sir William Curtis was most polite. The Belgian Ambassador, with whom I had dined at N. M. Rothschild's, was also there, and introduced me to Sir John Conroy. Soon after five one of the King's steamers entered the harbour with the King and Queen of the Belgians. Several members of the committee went on board to welcome them on their arrival, I among the number. They had had a very rough passage from Calais. The King appeared greatly altered, looking very old, the Queen is young and pleasant looking. They proceeded on foot to the Albion Hotel. The town was handsomely decorated and the principal streets illuminated, but the wind was so high as to put out most of the lamps."
The next morning at half-past ten Mr Montefiore went to the Town Hall, and accompanied Sir William Curtis, Mr Warren, Mr Tomson (the Deputy), Colonel Clarke, and about a dozen more to Albion House, to present to the Duchess of Kent and Princess Victoria the address from the inhabitants and visitors of Ramsgate and its vicinity. They were all introduced, and were most kindly received by the Royal party. The Duchess honoured the committee with a gracious reply, which she read.
The committee then returned to the Town Hall, and prepared an address to the King and Queen of the Belgians, and at one o'clock walked to the Albion Hotel. They were introduced and very graciously received, the King speaking to Mr Montefiore and several other members of the committee. The King read a reply to the Address, and after a few minutes the Committee withdrew, much gratified with their reception.
Subsequently Mr and Mrs Montefiore attended a ball given by the Master of the Ceremonies at the Albion Hotel, where they met many acquaintances. Sir John Conroy was particularly polite to them. Mr Montefiore offered him the use of the key of his grounds for the Duchess, which he accepted with pleasure. Accordingly both Mr and Mrs Montefiore called the next day on the Duchess, and left a key there for the use of Her Royal Highness, Sir John Conroy and his family.
On Wednesday, October 21st. the Duchess, accompanied by one of her ladies of honour, and attended by a footman, made use of the key, and walked through their grounds.
Sir John Conroy, meeting Mr Montefiore next day at Burgess' Library, said that the Duchess regretted that his gardener had suddenly disappeared yesterday, which had prevented her sending to inform Mrs Montefiore that she was in the grounds as she had wished to have done.
Her Royal Highness having repeated her visits to his grounds, Mr Montefiore ordered an opening to be made in the field on the side next to Broadstairs for the convenience of the Duchess. In recognition of this attention he received the following note from Sir John Conroy:—
"Sir John Conroy presents his compliments, and in obedience to a command he has just received from the Duchess of Kent, hastens to acquaint Mr Montefiore that Her Royal Highness is exceedingly gratified and obliged by his attention in making a new access to his charming grounds from Broadstairs for her convenience, but Her Royal Highness fears she has given a great deal of trouble.
"Ramsgate, 24th October 1835.
There were several incidents which afforded them much gratification this year.
Mrs Montefiore was invited to name a new steamer. "This morning," writes Mr Montefiore on July 9, "we embarked from the Custom House stairs on board the Harlequin, to witness the launch of a new steamship built by Fletcher & Fearnaly. On reaching the dockyard near Limehouse, Mr Woolverly Attwood and Judith went on shore; I followed with Horatio at half-past one. My dear wife named the ship by throwing a bottle of wine against the side of the vessel at the moment she left the stocks and plunged into the water. 'May every success,' she said, 'attend the Britannia.' We then went on board the Royal Sovereign. There was a large party; about a hundred sat down to dinner. Several members of Parliament with their ladies were present, G. R. Dawson, Medley, T. M. Pearce, Pepys, and Col. Lawrence. Many speeches, all drinking my dear wife's health."
Another entry refers to his having been admitted to the freedom of the Merchant Taylors Company. Mr Montefiore received a letter from Mr Matthias Attwood, informing him that he had proposed his name at the Court of the above Company for admission to the freedom and livery of the same. The proposition, said Mr Attwood, was carried unanimously, many of the members expressing the high respect they entertained for Mr Montefiore's personal character.
On the 4th of November he was accordingly admitted and sworn a freeman of the said Company. "Matthias Attwood," says Mr Montefiore, "has acted with the greatest kindness in procuring me this honour, I being the first Jew admitted to their Company. At the next meeting of the Court I am to be made one of the livery."
A printed slip of a newspaper is affixed to one of the leaves of the diary, referring to a loan raised under the authority of the Act 3 and 4 of William IV., cap. 73, for the compensation to owners of slaves; it reads as follows:—
"The parties to the contract for the L15,000,000 loan are N. M. Rothschild and Moses Montefiore on the one part, and Lord Melbourne, Mr F. Spring-Rice, Lord Seymour, and Messrs W. H. Old, R. Steward, and R. More, on the other; witnesses, Messrs James Pattison, Governor, and T. A. Curtis, Deputy-Governor of the Bank of England."
There is another slip attached to it, showing the interest on this loan to have been lower than several preceding ones.
The interest on the loan of 1812 was L3, 5s. 7d., and of 1813, L5, 10s.
Second loan of 1813, L5, 6s. 2d.; 1814, L4, 12s. 1d.; 1815, L5, 12s. 4d.; 1819, L4, 5s. 9d.; 1820, L4, 3s. 3d.; and on the present loan, L3, 7s. 6d.
The particulars of that loan are given in the Money Market and City Intelligence, dated Monday evening, 3rd August 1835:
"The bidding for the West Indian loan took place this morning. Mr Rothschild and his friends waited upon Lord Melbourne and the Chancellor at ten o'clock. Mr Rothschild's tender, the only one prepared, the other lists having been withdrawn, was then opened, when that gentleman's bidding was found to be 14s. 11d. in long annuities. The offer having been declined, the sealed minimum of ministers, as previously arranged, was opened, and it appeared they were not willing to give more than 13s. 7d. of annuities in addition to L75 consols and L25 redeemed 3 per cents, for every L100 in money subscribed. It was for Mr Rothschild, therefore, either to agree to those terms or to abandon the contract. That gentleman and his friends retired for a short time to consult on the subject, and finally agreed to accept them. An important concession was, however, obtained in regard to the discount for paying up the instalments, which is to be at the rate of 4 per cent. on the payment, as in all former contracts for loans, and gives a bonus of L1, 19s. 10d. in favour of the contractors. The subscribers to the loan have now an inducement which did not exist under the arrangement at first proposed, for completing the instalments and turning their omnium into stock. Though it is an advantage, therefore, to them, it is considered somewhat against the present price of consols, as a large supply may at any time be thrown upon the market. The Chancellor of the Exchequer assured the gentlemen who attended the bidding, that all means would be taken on his part to bring back into circulation the money that might come into his hands beyond the amount called for to meet the West Indian claims. On the subject of debentures (they are not named in the contract specially) against which, as a security not yet created, there were many objections, it is agreed that they shall be at all times made receivable to the instalments of the loan. When the terms were first made known, the scrip bore a premium of 2-3/4 to 3 per cent., but they produced a decline in consols, which went back to 89, a fall of nearly 1 per cent. at the highest price of the morning. A large amount of business was done both in the stock and in the scrip; the fluctuations in them were not, however, very considerable afterwards. The following are the concluding quotations:—
"Consols for the account, 89-3/4 to ——; omnium 2-3/4, 3 premium; Exchequer bills, 18s. to 20s. premium."
On the same day he makes the following entry in his journal: "I accompanied N. M. R. Pattison and J. A. Curtis to the City; called at the Alliance, Irish Bank, &c.; at six we dined, and took our fast, &c., this being the anniversary of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem."
Few financiers, perhaps would feel inclined, after all the excitement incidental to the successful contracting of a loan for L15,000,000, to comply with so exacting a religious observance as a fast of twenty-four hours duration. With a mind pre-occupied with business details, the rise and fall of the public funds, and other matters, such an observance must be more than ordinarily trying. Nevertheless Mr Montefiore would not, on this occasion any more than any other, allow worldly interests to prevail over religious duties.
The loan for the abolition of slavery reminded him of the words of the Prophet Isaiah (ch. lii., v. 3) to Israel: "Ye have sold yourselves for nought, and ye shall be redeemed without money," and attuned his mind to reflection on the former glory of Zion and its present state of sorrow.
On the 2nd of November we find a record of his having paid L400 to the Blue Coat School to constitute him one of the governors. The manner in which he was led to take this step is noteworthy. A young man who was a complete stranger to them, wrote and implored Mr and Mrs Montefiore to take his wife and child under their protection. He acknowledged that, as a stranger and one professing a different religion, he had no claim whatever to make such a request, but he had heard so much of their kind-heartedness that he felt sure they would not refuse to accede to the dying prayer of one who was driven by unmerited misfortunes to despair and suicide. Sir Moses enquired into the case, and finding that the poor man had really deserved a better fate, he assisted the widow in her distressing position, and bought the governorship, as recorded, for the express purpose of being able to provide for the boy.
There is another entry of his having attended a meeting of the Committee of the Cock Court Alm's Houses, which he had erected and presented to the Spanish and Portuguese community. His object in attending was to remind the Elders to rebuild some of the houses on one side of the court, at an expense not exceeding L900, the funds in hand being L1400.
Turning to politics, he mentions a dinner party at Sir Robert Campbell's, where Mr and Mrs Montefiore met the Duke and Duchess of Cleveland, Lord and Lady Darlington, Lady Augusta Powlett, Colonel Lushington, and other friends of emancipation.
The reader having seen Mr and Mrs Montefiore in the circle of royalty and high nobility, I will ask him to accompany me into the circle of their own family and friends.
On November 27th I was invited to a dinner party given by one of his relatives in London, the late Mr Louis Cohen. It was here that I met Mr and Mrs Montefiore for the first time. During the course of the evening I had many opportunities of conversing with them, and before parting, they invited me to spend a week with them at East Cliff Lodge, Ramsgate.
A few days later I was informed that a place had been taken for me to Ramsgate, at the Spread Eagle, Gracechurch Street, in the name of Mr Montefiore.
There is a special entry of this little journey, which I copy.
Thursday, 3rd December 1835.—"Walked with Judith to Gracechurch Street. We met Louis and Florette (the late Mr Louis Cohen, of 5 South Street, Finsbury, their nephew, and his wife) and Dr Loewe. We all went with the Tally-Ho at three o'clock; they having the whole inside, and I riding outside on the box seat. We took tea at Sittingbourne, and proceeded from Canterbury about ten o'clock by the night stage coach with post horses to East Cliff.
"I found it extremely cold; it was near one when we arrived at East Cliff, thanks to Heaven, in safety, and found all well. Our library looked delightfully comfortable, with a good fire and lamps. I was almost perishing with cold. We took tea, &c., and when our visitors retired to their chambers it was near two o'clock."
The inconvenient mode of travelling at that time did not prevent his making such journeys whenever required, and however much he may have suffered by taking his seat outside the coach (which he evidently always did from politeness to his visitors), his comfortable home soon made him forget the unpleasantness of a long cold ride.
During my stay in East Cliff, the time of the party was generally devoted either to little excursions in the neighbourhood, or to conversations on literary subjects. Sometimes Mr and Mrs Montefiore entertained us by giving their reminiscences of travels in Italy, France, and Egypt.
There was a kind of charm which the visitor felt in their company; a very short time after his arrival a delightful sensation of comfort overcame him, and soon made him feel at home. The amiability of both the hostess and host made the days pass agreeably and rapidly, and they were always loth to retire when the midnight hour was announced.
Mrs Montefiore showed us all the curiosities she brought with her from Egypt, and told us how much she had been entertained in that country by the number of languages spoken around her. There was an amusing incident that day, which particularly induced her to speak on the study of languages. Mr Montefiore had laid a wager with her to the effect that if, at a stated time, she would be able to pass an examination by him in Italian grammar, he would give her a cheque for L100. She was fortunate enough to acquit herself most creditably in our presence, and received the amount in question.
Mr Montefiore was delighted at the perseverance and ability displayed by his wife, and she was truly happy to have again succeeded (as she always did) in obtaining the approbation of her husband.
The conversation of the visitors being frequently in French and German, many an hour was spent in reading letters and poems addressed to Mr and Mrs Montefiore in these languages. Mrs Montefiore, however, was not content with the study of modern languages, and expressed a wish to acquire also a knowledge of Eastern languages, especially of Turkish and Arabic.
To give her an idea of the grammatical construction of the latter, I used to write out lessons for her, and she at once commenced to learn them. The following morning she surprised the whole party by saying by heart every Turkish and Arabic word that I had written out.
It was amusing to all of us, and to Mr Montefiore a cause of great delight, to notice the zeal with which she took up the subject.
One day she produced from her cabinet a scarabaeus and a little Egyptian clay figure, which had been given to her by Mr Salt, the English Consul in Egypt.
Both the scarabaeus and the little figure had hieroglyphical inscriptions, and she requested me to give her a translation of the same.
In compliance with her request I explained the inscriptions, and gave her a short account of the Rosetta stone and the works of Young and Champollion and other Egyptologists.
I concluded my visit to East Cliff Lodge on the 13th of December. Mr Montefiore requested me to draw up a plan for some future travels in the Holy Land; I promised to comply with his wish, and then took leave. There is an entry of this date in the diary, in which he says:
"If my dear Judith consents to our again visiting the Holy Land, I should be glad to obtain the company of the Doctor on our pilgrimage."
A few days later I sent him the plan for the journey, also a second copy of the translation which I had made of the hieroglyphical inscription on the Osiris or sepulchral figure. He acknowledged the receipt of the same in two letters, one written in Mrs Montefiore's handwriting, the other in his own. Mr Montefiore subsequently told me that his wife now commenced to take a special interest in antiquities, enriching her cabinet with curiosities whenever an opportunity presented itself. The year 1835 is also noted for the particular interest which Mr Montefiore took in the affairs of his own community. He was elected President of the London Committee of Deputies of British Jews, his predecessor, Mr Moses Mocatta, having resigned the office.
DEATH OF MR N. M. ROTHSCHILD—MR MONTEFIORE VISITS DUBLIN—BECOMES THE FIRST JEWISH MEMBER OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY—DEATH OF WILLIAM IV.—MR MONTEFIORE ELECTED SHERIFF.
In the Diary for 1836, the first entry is on the 17th July, which is accounted for by its being the second journal for that year, the one containing his entries for the early months having been lost. On the date mentioned he records his grief at the death of an aunt to whom he was much attached, and for whom he entertained a sincere respect. About this time he was also much affected by the illness of Mr N. M. Rothschild, and on the 19th we find him busily engaged in making preparations for a journey to Frankfort-on-the-Main, on purpose to visit this "kind friend." Only ten months ago they had together signed the contract for the loan of L15,000,000, and now they were to see each other for the last time. Mr Montefiore writes: "We arrived there in time to see him alive, but death was fast approaching. At four o'clock on the same day (28th July) his brother, Anselm, asked him to say prayers, which he did, and all present joined him; he then kissed his wife and said 'good night' quite distinctly. At five he breathed his last, and passed away without the slightest struggle. I was with him the whole time, and remained in the room an hour after all the others had left it. I had thus the melancholy satisfaction of paying the last respect to his remains. Oh! may this mournful sight remind me of the nothingness of this world's grandeur, and may I daily become more prepared for a blessed Eternity! He was a good friend to me and my dear Judith in our early life. Peace to his memory. Hannah (his wife) did not leave him for a moment during his illness, and remained in the room for some time after his death, returning there again the same evening."
On the day of the funeral, which took place in London, Mr Montefiore writes: "I remained at the burial ground above an hour after the mourners had left, and saw the grave of my kind and truly lamented friend arched over, filled up, and a large slab of Yorkshire stone placed upon it. Thus have I witnessed all that was mortal of my dear friend consigned to the earth; his spirit the Almighty, in His great mercy, has taken to a better world, there to enjoy in glorious eternity the reward of his charitable actions."
We will now, however, turn to more cheerful matters.
On October 8th he writes: "I had the honour of receiving a card of invitation to dine with Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent on Tuesday next;" then, true to his motto, which bids him "think and thank," he adds, "Praised be He from whom all honour and distinction flows."
Tuesday, the 11th. The words of his entry are as follows:—"I attended Synagogue, and a little before seven went in our chariot to West Cliff, where I had the honour of dining with their Royal Highnesses the Duchess of Kent and the Princess Victoria. The other guests were, Sir John Conroy, the Dean of Chester, Mr Justice Gaselee, the Rector of St Lawrence, the Hon. Col. Stopford and his wife, the Ladies Jane and Charlotte Seymour, and one other lady and gentleman. I took down the Colonel's wife and sat opposite to the Princess. There were thirteen at table, and it was impossible for it to have been more agreeable. I never felt myself more at ease at any dinner party within my recollection. The behaviour of the Duchess was most kind and condescending, and all the party were extremely amiable and chatty. The entertainment was truly Royal, and after dinner, when the gentlemen had joined the ladies in the drawing-room, where tea and coffee were served, the Duchess again spoke to each of us. The Princess Sophia Matilda was also present. I returned home quite enraptured with the very kind and obliging manner in which I had been distinguished by her Royal Highness."
In the same year Mr and Mrs Montefiore received the congratulations of their friends on a providential escape from the horrors of shipwreck. They had left Margate in the Magnet at nine o'clock in the morning of the 17th October. The weather was foggy, but they thought it would soon clear up. They had only proceeded a short distance, however, when they got on to a sandbank, where they were obliged to remain for two hours, feeling the gravest anxiety all the time. At last the tide floated them off again, and they endeavoured to grope their way through the fog, passing several vessels, which were only visible when quite close upon them. Mr Montefiore was standing near the bow of the ship, when suddenly a steamer was seen to be quite close to them, and before it was possible to avoid her, she struck their bow with a dreadful crash. Mr Montefiore threw himself on deck to escape injury. The screams of the people on board both boats were terrible. It was soon seen that the Red Rover, the vessel they had encountered, was sinking fast. Her passengers and crew lost no time in getting on board the Magnet, and in five minutes the Red Rover was engulfed in the sea, which was immediately covered with spars, boxes, and other wreckage. The alarm was dreadful. The Magnet, having sustained serious damage, her situation was most critical. She was making a great deal of water, and the pumps were instantly set to work, while the vessel made for the shore. Happily they were boarded by a fishing smack and taken to Sheerness, where they landed, but where, unfortunately, their troubles did not end. No sort of conveyance was to be found in Sheerness, and they were obliged to go by boat to Chatham, and thence in a post-chaise to town. It was nearly 1 P.M. when the Marine Office was reached. "My poor dear wife," writes Mr Montefiore, "conducted herself with her usual admirable courage. We were, in all probability, never in our lives in more imminent danger. God be praised for His great mercy for granting us His protection."
At seven o'clock the next morning Mr Montefiore proceeds to the Synagogue, where he renders thanks to the Almighty. At the same time he gives L600 in charity—L50 for the Portuguese and L50 for the German poor in London, and L500 for the poor of Jerusalem.
The journal of this year contains but few entries relating to politics.
In the session of 1836 the Ministry, in their attempt to carry several important measures of reform, were defeated in the House of Lords, but succeeded in passing an Act enabling Dissenters to be married otherwise than by the Established clergy. Bills were also passed for commuting tithes into a corn-rent charge payable in money, and for a general registry of births, deaths, and marriages. The second reading of the Bill for the removal of civil disabilities from His Majesty's Jewish subjects was postponed in the House of Lords. The Jews were, however, satisfied with the progress their cause had hitherto made, and they considered themselves justified in hoping for a speedy and complete emancipation. The election of Mr David Salomons as Sheriff of London and Middlesex, and Alderman for the ward of Aldgate, took place about this time.
The particulars I shall give of the next few years will show the progress of good feeling between the Jews and their fellow-citizens, and, in particular, the esteem in which Mr Montefiore was held by men of all sects.
On the 1st of January 1837 we meet Mr Montefiore in Dublin, whither he had gone with a deputation from the Provincial Bank of Ireland (in London). "My companions, Messrs Th. Masterman and James Marshall," he writes, "accompanied me to the new house of our agency, and we were present at the commencement of business. We remained there till five o'clock, and found that all was conducted comfortably." He then called with the Directors on Lord Morpeth and other influential persons, in the interests of their business. Whilst in Ireland he gave handsome donations to various charitable institutions, including L100 to the Dublin Bluecoat School. He also visited the Synagogue, where he made generous offerings.
On the 13th he is again in London, receiving the thanks of the Board of Directors of the Irish Bank for the valuable services he and his colleagues had rendered by their visit to Ireland.
On the 23rd February, at the Royal Society, he is introduced to the vice-president, the Earl of Burlington, by Mr W. H. Pepys, Mr Montefiore being the only Jewish member as yet admitted. Writing in his journal on the subject, he says: "I think I may be proud of the honour of enrolling my name in the same book which has already been signed by several of the kings of England."
In March Mr Montefiore had a deed of gift prepared by T. M. Pearce, conferring the "Upper French Farm" on his brother Horatio and his children. He also returns L500 to a friend who had repaid that sum which he had borrowed from him in the year 1819 to commence business with; Mr Montefiore observing that he was more than repaid in witnessing his friend's success.
On the 20th of the same month I find the first entry referring to an offer of the Shrievalty of London and Middlesex. Mr A. H. Thornborough called on Mr Montefiore, saying he was deputed by some of the most influential members of the Corporation of London to offer him the Shrievalty at the ensuing election, if he would accept the office. Mr Montefiore candidly stated that he was not desirous of the honour, but if he were elected, he wished to be free either to accept or decline it; he also stated that he could not attend church, but had no objection to send his money, and at all the city feasts he must be allowed to have his own meat, dishes, &c. To all of which Mr Thornborough said there could be no possible objection. It was nearly twelve o'clock before he left. "I suppose," writes Mr Montefiore, "I shall hear nothing more of the business, but whatever is, is for the best. Praise be to God alone."
Till the 2nd of June there is no entry of any importance in the diary, but on that day the death of the King of England (William IV.) is recorded, and a further reference is made to the subject of the Shrievalty. Mr Montefiore says, "This morning at 2 A.M. it pleased the Almighty to call to a better world our beloved King William IV. Oaths of allegiance were taken to-day by the members of both Houses of Parliament to the Queen Alexandrina Victoria. May her reign be long, glorious, and happy. Amen."
After entering various particulars relating to his financial transactions, and to some visits which he paid to different friends and relations, he writes:
"Mr Lucas, one of the aldermen, having written to me yesterday to ascertain my intention respecting the proposal made to me some time ago to be Sheriff next year, I requested he would inform the parties that I did not give my consent to my being proposed to the Livery, and in the event of its being done, and of my being elected, I most distinctly stated that I considered myself perfectly free either to accept or decline the honour."
On the 22nd of June he wrote a note to L. Lucas, begging him to inform Mr Thornborough that his state of health would not allow him to accept the office of Sheriff if the citizens of London did him the honour to elect him. He also acquainted T. M. Pearce with his intention of declining the Shrievalty in the event of its being conferred on him. It appears, however, that many friends and relatives spoke to him on the subject, and prevailed on him to accept the office if elected.
On the 24th June Mr Huffam called to bring the news that Mr Montefiore had been unanimously elected Sheriff of London and Middlesex. He had been proposed by Mr T. A. Curtis, Governor of the Bank of England, the resolution being seconded by Mr Samuel Gurney. Mr Huffam said that both gentlemen had spoken most highly of him, and that there were over four hundred persons present.
In the evening, Mr Montefiore, accompanied by his good wife, paid a visit to his mother, to tell her of the honour he had received from the Livery of London, and to ask and receive her blessing on his undertaking. He then prayed for the blessing of heaven, so to guide his conduct that he might discharge the duties of the office to the satisfaction of his own conscience, to the gratification of the citizens, and to the honour of the Jews.
He received congratulations from numerous friends and relatives, which seemed however to give him but little satisfaction. The following extract from his diary will show why this was so:—"I shall have the greatest difficulties to contend with," he writes, "in the execution of my duty; difficulties which I shall meet with at the very outset. The day I enter on my office is the commencement of our New Year. I shall therefore have to walk to Westminster instead of going in my state carriage, nor, I fear, shall I be able to dine with my friends at the inauguration dinner which, from time immemorial, is given on the 30th of September. I shall, however, endeavour to persuade my colleague to change the day to the 5th of October.
Some of our readers will perhaps smile at his difficulties, but when his friends observed how differently other persons would act in a similar position, he used to say: "Very well, I will not deviate from the injunctions of my religion; let them call me a bigot if they like; it is immaterial to me what others do or think in this respect. God has given man the free will to act as he may think proper. He has set before him life and death, blessing and curse (Deut. ch. xxx, v. 15). I follow the advice given in Holy Writ, and choose that which is considered life, which is accounted a blessing."
His first visit in the city was to Messrs T. A. Curtis and Samuel Gurney, to thank the former for having proposed the resolution for his election, and the latter for having seconded it. He then received congratulations from Messrs Pearce, Thornborough, and Wire at the Alliance Office, and appointed Mr Wire as his under-sheriff. On the same day he addressed a formal letter of thanks to "The worthy and independent Livery of London."
The next day Messrs Thornborough, Lucas, and Carrol called, and it was agreed to have the Sheriffs' inauguration dinner on the 5th October instead of the 30th September. Sir James Duke, one of the outgoing Sheriffs, also came, and was most friendly. He offered Mr Montefiore every assistance, and invited him to dine at the Old Bailey on Thursday, the 4th July. Two days later he attended with his colleague, Mr George Carrol, a meeting of the subscribers to the Sheriffs' Fund, at the City of London Coffee House, Ludgate Hill, where he was introduced to Mr Sheriff Johnson, who was in the chair. There he also met Sir James Duke, Mr Wire, Mr Anderson, the Governor of Bridewell, and other gentlemen, and a committee was appointed to prepare a plan for a more extensive employment of the funds of the above-named Charity. Both Sheriffs were most polite to Messrs Carrol and Montefiore, and invited them to be present on all occasions at the Sessions in the Old Bailey, when they were also to breakfast and dine with them.
July the 4th.—Mr T. A. Curtis kindly accompanied Mr Montefiore to the Court of Aldermen, where both he and Mr George Carrol signed bonds engaging to take upon themselves the office of Sheriff, under penalty of L1000 fine. "The Lord Mayor," writes Mr Montefiore, "and every Alderman present shook hands with me, each paid me some neat compliment, and every attention was shown to my religious feelings."
At a meeting of the Livery, where a resolution to send an address to the Queen was proposed by Mr David Salomons and carried unanimously, twelve of the Livery were appointed to present the same, amongst whom, besides the Lord Mayor, Sheriffs, and Aldermen, were Messrs David Salomons, G. Carrol, and M. Montefiore.
July 6th.—Mr Montefiore went to the Old Bailey at half-past eight, and breakfasted with the Under Sheriff, Mr G. Carrol, and other gentlemen. The Sheriffs and Aldermen came in a little before ten, at which time Baron Vaughan, Baron Alderson, and the Lord Mayor also came. He was introduced, and received by all in a very friendly manner, and then went with them into Court. At eleven he went with Sheriff Johnson and Mr George Carrol over every part of Newgate. "It was half-past one before we had finished our tour of inspection. I find my new post will give me very serious occupation, and much more trouble than I had expected, but I hope the blessing of Heaven will attend my endeavours to fulfil its various duties to the satisfaction of my fellow-citizens." This did, however, not prevent him from turning his mind, when necessary, also to the affairs of his own community. He accompanied T. M. Pearce to Downing Street, and had an interview with Mr Lister, the Registrar-General. "We agreed," he says, "that it would not be safe for Jews to marry by licence under the present Marriage Bill, and that they must give twenty-one days' notice to the Registrar."
On the same day he dined at five with the Lord Mayor, Sheriffs, and other distinguished persons at the Old Bailey. "A capital dinner," he observes, "dessert and wine; I had part of a fowl which had been sent from home." Every one was most attentive to him. The Judges and the Lord Mayor left at seven, but the Sheriffs stayed till eight o'clock.
THE JEWS' MARRIAGE BILL—MR MONTEFIORE AT THE QUEEN'S DRAWING-ROOM—HIS INAUGURATION AS SHERIFF.
On July 7th he called on the Chief Rabbi to discuss the marriage laws, a subject which was causing much uneasiness in the community. He was detained there so long that it became too late for him to attend the committee meeting at the Irish Bank. He wrote a letter to the Archbishop of Dublin on the subject of the Jews' Marriage Bill, requesting him to take charge of it in the House of Lords. In the course of the day he received a card of invitation to a dinner of the Merchant Taylors Company from J. Allison, the new Master, with a most friendly note, requesting him to name the dishes he would wish to have placed before him.
On July 9th Mr Montefiore went with a member of the Board of Deputies to consult T. M. Pearce on the subject of the Jews' Marriage Bill, and in the evening attended a meeting of the Deputies, at which it was resolved to petition the House of Lords in favour of the measure. He writes: "I am most firmly resolved not to give up the smallest part of our religious forms and privileges to obtain civil rights." One of the members of the board also gave notice of a motion for "a more popular election of the Deputies."
On July 10th Mr Montefiore met T. M. Pearce at the House of Lords. Mr Blake, the legal adviser of the Archbishop of Dublin, made several important alterations in the Bill, which, in Mr Montefiore's opinion, greatly improved it. He then called at Downing Street to see Mr Spring-Rice, but that gentleman had just left town for Cambridge. Mr Montefiore immediately resolved to go and see him there.
At 5 P.M. he again met Pearce, also Mr Buxton, at the House of Lords. The Archbishop of Dublin and several other Lords had declined to propose the second reading of the Marriage Act Bill. Mr Buxton exerted himself greatly, and spoke to several Peers in his presence without success. At last he prevailed on Lord Glenelg to promise that he would speak with Lord Duncannon, and would give notice the next day.
In accordance with his resolution, Mr Montefiore went the same day by the "Cambridge Mail" to see Mr Spring-Rice. On his return he went to the House of Lords with Pearce and saw Lord Glenelg. "But," writes Mr Montefiore, "he would have nothing to do with the Bill, and Pearce could get no Peer to move the second reading, consequently, the Bill will be lost, and with it all the expenses, L400."
Wednesday, July 19.—He attended the Queen's first levee at St James' Palace; it was very crowded. He was one of the Deputation of the Livery of London, by whom an address of congratulation was to be presented to Her Majesty. The Lord Mayor introduced them. Mr Montefiore was afterwards presented a second time. On his card was written, "Mr Montefiore, presented by the Duke of Norfolk." "The Queen," he observes, "looked very pretty and most interesting." "May she be happy!" is his prayer to heaven. It was after four o'clock when he left the Palace. He had spoken to a great number of acquaintances there. The next day he went with Mrs Montefiore to St James' Palace to attend the Queen's drawing-room. Mrs Montefiore was presented to Her Majesty by the Countess of Albemarle, and was most graciously received. "I followed her," writes Mr Montefiore. "The Queen smiled good-humouredly at me, and the Duchess of Kent said she was pleased to see us. No reception at a drawing-room could have been more flattering."
At five o'clock he went to dine at the Merchant Taylors Hall. Mr Alliston, the Master, was most civil and kind to him, and to Mr George Carrol. It was a most splendid banquet, about one hundred and twenty sat down to table. The entertainment was given by the Merchant Taylors to the Skinners Company, in accordance with an old custom, which owed its origin to the following occurrence. A difference having arisen between the two companies, it was referred to the Lord Mayor, who decided that "they were both wrong and both right," and decreed that each company should annually entertain the other at a dinner. This has been kept up, without a single exception, ever since the Lord Mayor gave his verdict, which was more than three hundred years ago. "Nothing," says Mr Montefiore, "could have been more magnificent than the entertainment. I sat next to Mr Charles Culling Smith, the Duke of Wellington's brother-in-law, and my health and that of Mr George Carrol was drunk."
Mr Montefiore now wished to go to Ramsgate for a few days' rest, but before leaving town he sent a letter to the Master, Wardens, and Assistants of the Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors, requesting the use of their hall for the inauguration dinner in October.
In August we find him again in London, attending a dinner of the Skinners' Company, where he meets Mr Attwood and his colleague Mr George Carrol, also several friends belonging to the Merchant Taylors' Company. His health is proposed, and he returns thanks. One of the party, Dr Knox, the Master of the Skinners' Company's school at Tonbridge, expressed himself in very flattering terms to Mr Montefiore after the entertainment, but observed that he ought not to be one of the Court Assistants, as the latter had to protect their church. Mr Montefiore, in reply, assured him that he would never ask anything of the Company that they might not be willing to grant. Dr Knox appeared fully satisfied with what he heard, and continued the conversation in a friendly spirit.
On the 20th of August there is a very affectionate entry, dated from Tonbridge, and referring to his brother, Horatio Montefiore.
"Horatio," he writes, "joined us this morning at breakfast; he left Ramsgate and his family last evening, and travelled all night. At eleven o'clock my dear Judith, Horatio, Mr Ridge, and myself went in the britzka to Tinley Lodge, Upper French Farm. The houses, barns, stables, and outhouses had all been put in the most substantial and complete repair, and looked extremely well, as did the land. With the full and willing consent of my dear wife, I informed Horatio that I made him a present of the estate, and after him to his children, strictly entailing it on the eldest son from generation to generation, and recommended him to grant Shetfield, the present tenant, a lease at a moderate rent for fourteen years, say at L70. Horatio appeared well pleased with the gift."
This entry is followed by another equally pleasing. He dined with his sister-in-law, Mrs Hannah Rothschild, and met there, among others, the Count and Countess Ludolf. In the course of conversation, the Count said that several English physicians had offered to go to Naples, where the cholera was then raging, and assist in relieving the sufferers, but, unfortunately, they had no funds. Mr Montefiore, upon hearing this, immediately promised L200 for the purpose, and of course kept his word.
In the following record of a visit paid by Mr and Mrs Montefiore to H.R.H. the Princess Sophia Matilda during her stay at Ramsgate, we find one of the many gratifying instances of the esteem in which they were both held by the highest in the land.
On September the 12th he writes:—"At three we went in our britzka with post horses, through a torrent of rain, to West Cliff House, by appointment, to visit H.R.H. the Princess Sophia Matilda. She received us most kindly, and was very chatty. She spoke on many different subjects, including the slave trade and the prevailing epidemics; also of her proposed visit to Brighton, which she hoped would agree with her. We then spoke of the Queen and the Duchess of Kent. Judith said she hoped the Queen would build a palace at Ramsgate. Her Royal Highness replied, she could not recommend the expense, as it would be talked of a hundred years after; it was all very well just at first. We remained more than half-an-hour, and on our taking leave, Her Royal Highness shook hands with Judith most kindly, and said she was happy in having made her acquaintance. During our visit she also spoke of her brother, the late King, and on each occasion the tears came into her eyes. She appeared in very good health, and fond of retirement."
On the 24th of September Mr Montefiore writes:—"Her Royal Highness the Princess Sophia Matilda paid Judith a visit yesterday, and remained with her an hour and a half. She had first appointed to come on Friday if I had been at home, then on Monday or Tuesday, but Judith wrote that we were going to London in the middle of the week, and would be happy to see Her Royal Highness on Saturday. She was most gracious and agreeable."
Wednesday, September 27th.—Mr Montefiore called at the Mansion House and saw the Lord Mayor and Mr Croft, who accepted the new Sheriffs' invitation for Wednesday, the 11th October. According to an ancient custom Mr Montefiore, as Sheriff, should have dined with the Lord Mayor on Friday, the 29th, but he apologized for his inability to do so on account of the Sabbath commencing in the evening.
Thursday, the 28th.—"I cannot," he says, "but reflect with gratitude on the Almighty's goodness to me: may He bless my endeavours to be useful." He then gives the following account of the day's proceedings:—"At ten I entered our state carriage, Mr Wire having come for me in his, and we drove to Cavendish Square, where Mr George Carrol in his state carriage took the lead, he being the senior Sheriff, on account of his having been proposed to the Livery by the Lord Mayor. We proceeded to the Merchant Taylors' Hall, where we found sixteen of their members, and sixteen of the Spectacle makers, besides some few friends of Mr George Carrol. The following gentlemen were also present:—Barons Lionel, Nathaniel, and Anthony de Rothschild, Messrs T. A. Curtis, Benjamin Cohen, Isaac Cohen, Solomon Cohen, S. M. Samuel, John Helbert, and M. Davidson, the six last named being the brothers and brothers-in-law of my dear wife. At one o'clock we went in grand procession to the Guildhall, accompanied by a band of music. At two we were sworn into office, and about three I returned to Park Lane. I changed my official costume for plain clothes, and went at half-past five to Cavendish Square. Mr George Carrol then accompanied me to the London Tavern, and we dined with Sir James Duke and Mr Sheriff Johnson."
Monday, 2nd October.—Mr Montefiore and his colleague went to Newgate. In the afternoon they proceeded to Windsor, and inscribed their names in the Duchess of Kent's visitors' book. The next day Mr Montefiore called on the Lord Mayor, who introduced him to Alderman Cowan, the Lord Mayor elect; he also attended the Hustings at the Guildhall in his violet gown, the Lord Mayor and Mr George Carrol being present. He afterwards settled, with Messrs Maynard, Carrol, and Wire, the toasts and the grace before dinner, and proceeded with these gentlemen to the Lord Mayor to submit them for his approval. This having been obtained, he went to the Merchant Taylors' Hall to see that the arrangement of the tables was satisfactory.
The inauguration dinner of the new Sheriffs took place at the Merchant Taylors' Hall in Threadneedle Street. The number of guests who sat down to dinner was not less than four hundred; and the Lord Mayor presided. After the cloth was removed, the usual toasts were proposed by the Lord Mayor, and the two Sheriffs returned thanks, each in a separate speech.
Mr Sheriff Montefiore said: "My Lord Mayor, my Lords and gentlemen, if I consulted my own feelings of diffidence on this occasion, I confess I should have remained silent, and have allowed my friend and colleague to return our united thanks for the honour conferred on us by the distinguished company. But as custom demands that I should say a few words, I rise to express briefly, and I fear imperfectly, my feelings of gratitude for the flattering manner in which my health has been proposed, and the warm and affectionate greeting with which it has been received. New to the high and important office I have been called upon by the kind wishes of my fellow-citizens to fill, it will readily be conceived that I cannot be acquainted with all its various duties. But I can assure you it shall be my study to understand their nature, and my earnest endeavour to fulfil them in such a manner as to justify my fellow-citizens in the choice they have made. Although I cannot pretend to say that I will do what your late Sheriffs have done, still less to surpass them in their efforts to be useful, yet I hope, so far, to imitate their example as to show my anxiety to transmit to my successors the functions of my office unimpaired in their usefulness, and its privileges undiminished in their value. Believing that it is not a political office, and yet that it has duties both to the Queen and to the public, I hope, in the execution of those duties, to swerve neither to the right nor the left, but on the one hand to uphold the rightful prerogatives of the Crown, and on the other to support the just liberties of the people. Called upon by the free, intelligent, and wealthy citizens of this great city to fill so important an office, I trust that I shall never be found wanting in any efforts to prove that the great privilege of electing their own Sheriffs may be safely entrusted to the people. May I add that in choosing the humble individual before you to fill so important an office, they have shown that private character, when based on integrity, will secure public honour and respect? Nor is it less gratifying to find that, though professing a different faith from the major it of my fellow-citizens, yet this has presented no barrier to my desire of being useful to them in a situation to which my forefathers would in vain have aspired; and I hail this as a proof that those prejudices are passing away, and will pass away, which prevent our feelings from being as widely social, as just, as comprehensive in their effect as the most amiable and best-instructed mind can desire. Nor can I forget, while alluding to kindly feelings, how much I am indebted to those friends who, unasked and unsolicited, proposed and elected me to the office which now gives me the opportunity of addressing you. To them, to you, to the Livery at large, I again tender my thanks, and I beg to assure you that, whatever may be necessary to enhance the high, respectability of my office, to support its splendour, to maintain its rights, to add to its honour, and to make it more useful to my fellow-citizens—if it can be made more useful—I will attempt, and with your countenance and support, I trust, accomplish. Thus acting, I shall hope to receive the only reward I seek—the thanks of my fellow-citizens, and the approbation of my own conscience."
The Attorney-General in replying to the toast, "The health of Her Majesty's Ministers," given by the Lord Mayor, alluded to Mr Montefiore in the following words:—"There could be no more honourable or important office than that of Sheriff, and although Mr Montefiore differed in faith from the established religion, there could be no doubt that he would discharge the duties which devolved on him with equal credit to himself and advantage to the city. He (the Attorney-General) was one of those who thought that the only qualification which should exist for such offices was that the holder should be a good citizen; and he recollected with no small degree of satisfaction, that it was he who had brought in the Bill, a measure that passed through the Legislature by, he might say, the unanimous vote of both Houses of Parliament, which entitled Mr Montefiore to occupy the position he then held. He was happy to say that the ancient prejudices, founded on difference of religious belief, were fast wearing away, and he only hoped the time was at hand when objections on such grounds would altogether cease to operate. It was the desire of Her Majesty's Government to promote such a state of things by all the means in their power; and for his own part, his opinion was that, so far from injuring the Constitution, it would tend materially to uphold and strengthen it."
Mr and Mrs Montefiore returned to Park Lane at two o'clock from the inauguration dinner, much pleased with the reception they had met with from their fellow-citizens.
DEATH OF MR MONTEFIORE'S UNCLE—MR MONTEFIORE RIDES IN THE LORD MAYOR'S PROCESSION—IS KNIGHTED—HIS SPEECH AT THE LORD MAYOR'S BANQUET—PRESENTS PETITION ON BEHALF OF THE JEWS TO PARLIAMENT.
We may now consider Mr Montefiore as almost entirely occupied with the discharge of the duties of his office as Sheriff. We shall give here the entries he made referring to the subject, some of which are particularly interesting.
From the following entry one can form an idea of the way in which he spent his days during his year of office:—
"8.30 A.M., left Park Lane; 9 o'clock, breakfasted at the Old Bailey; 10, attended the Recorder into the Court, was present at a meeting of the subscribers to the Sheriffs' Fund, met the Lord Mayor at the Guildhall, and attended the Hustings. At 12.30 went back to the Old Bailey, had lunch there, re-entered Court, and remained there till near five, then returned to Park Lane. Accompanied by my wife, proceeded at 6.30 to the Mansion House, where we dined with the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, and a very large and elegant party; had music, and singing and dancing; returned home at one o'clock."
On the 11th of October Mr Montefiore in his turn gave a dinner to the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, the Sheriffs and Aldermen and their ladies, after which Mrs Montefiore held a reception, which was followed by a concert.
The next day he went to Newgate, and saw the prisoners who had just been received. He went through the male and female wards, and spoke to many of the prisoners. He then proceeded to Whitecross Prison, and gave Mr Barrett, the governor, a cheque for L20 for distribution among such cases of distress as he thought most deserving.
There are entries in the diary which show that on many occasions Mr Montefiore did not leave the Old Bailey before nine o'clock in the evening. "Sometimes," he remarks, "the duties of Shrievalty cause me much trouble." But however numerous or onerous his duties may have been, they never prevented his leaving the Old Bailey in time to attend Synagogue, on the eve of the Sabbath and festivals, the Judges in Court always, in the most kind manner, giving him permission to do so.
About that time one of his near relatives happening to be dangerously ill, he more than once, after having performed the daily duties of his office, and been present at an entertainment which lasted till midnight or later, instead of returning home, proceeded to the house of sickness, where he watched at the bedside of the patient till morning.
On Monday, November 6th, his uncle died. "I have always," Mr Montefiore said, "regarded him as a second father, but I must not grieve at his being taken from us, for he is gone to receive the reward of a well-spent life in a better world; very many of his relatives will miss his kind liberality." Mr Montefiore remained with the family that day for a considerable time, but had afterwards to leave them to attend to the necessary preparations for the important day of the 9th of November.
If the many thousands of spectators who fill the streets and occupy the balconies and windows on Lord Mayor's day, and witness the glorious institutions of the Livery of the largest and most wealthy city of the world, and to gaze at the magnificent cavalcade preceding the state carriage of the Lord Mayor, think that the Aldermen, Sheriffs, and under-Sheriffs have but to mount their chargers, and be comfortably seated in the saddle, to receive the shouts of approbation from the multitude, they are in error. As the glorious entry of a victorious army on its return from the field of battle requires previous organisation, so as to ensure the perfect regularity of the marching and evolution of each respective battalion, even thus does the entry into the metropolis of the assembly of citizens, almost equal in number to a powerful army, require much previous organisation.
Mr Montefiore, in order to prepare himself for the duties he would have to perform at the forthcoming procession, went to Davis' riding school, where he met the Lord Mayor and the Lord Mayor elect, as also most of the Aldermen, Sheriffs, and Court of Common Council. They each had a horse appointed for their use. A troop of artillerymen, with their horses, headed by Colonel Jones, were also present. After trying the horses they went through the plan of the procession, and it was five o'clock before they returned home.
On November 7th he called at the Mansion House, attended the Court of Hustings in the Guildhall, went with the Lord Mayor, the Lord Mayor elect, and Mr George Carrol to the Entertainment Committee, and then to Downing Street to see the Lord Chancellor. On finding him absent he went to his house, where he met with a most friendly reception.
In the evening he went to the house of his late uncle. While the Lavadores were performing their mournful duties, he and his wife read, in an adjoining room, the prayers which his lamented uncle had selected during his extreme illness. Greatly fatigued, they both returned to Park Lane, with the intention of retiring to rest. They had scarcely been home an hour when Mr Montefiore's colleague, Mr George Carrol, called. The cause of his coming at so late an hour, that gentleman said, was his desire to be the first to inform him that Lord John Russell had that day acquainted the City Remembrancer with his intention of recommending Her Majesty to bestow a baronetcy on the Lord Mayor, and to confer the honour of knighthood on the Sheriffs. "It was very kind," Mr Montefiore said, "of Carrol to come, and to acquaint me with the pleasing news, for which I am very grateful to the Almighty."
On Wednesday, the 8th November, he left home soon after eight in the morning, and was at the Mansion House at nine. It was half-past when the Lord Mayor elect made his appearance; there was a large party assembled. At ten they set out in procession for the Guildhall, where Alderman Cowan was sworn into office; the hall was very full. Mr Montefiore introduced Chevalier Benthausen and two Russian noblemen to the Lord Mayor, and then left the hall. He then went to the Alliance Marine, attended the Board of the Alliance Life and Fire Assurance Company, returned to the Guildhall, and thence repaired again to the house of mourning, to attend the funeral of his late uncle. At six he was again at the Mansion House, to be present at the farewell dinner of the retiring Lord Mayor. Many Aldermen, he says, were present; also the companies of the two Lord Mayors. At half-past nine he went for the third time to the mourners to read prayers with them, and afterwards he and his wife took up their quarters for the night at their chambers at the Marine Office in the city. "A very fatiguing day," he says, "and one in which I have seen the last of a dear and near relative. I hope I may imitate his virtues."
Thursday, 9th of November.—"With unspeakable but heartfelt gratitude to the Almighty God," he writes, "I note the occurrences of the day, a day that can never be forgotten by me; it is a proud one: with the exception of the day I had the happiness of dedicating our Synagogue at Ramsgate, and the day of my wedding, the proudest day of my life. I trust the honour conferred by our most gracious Queen on myself and my dear Judith may prove the harbinger of future good to the Jews generally, and though I am sensible of my unworthiness, yet I pray the Almighty to lead and guide me in the proper path, that I may observe and keep His Holy Law.
"At half-past eight I went to the Mansion House, at nine set off in grand procession to London Bridge; there I embarked with the Lord Mayor, &c., for Westminster. The new Lord Mayor was presented to the Judges in several Courts. We then returned the same way to the Mansion House. I went to the Marine. My dear Judith was beautifully dressed, but very unwell. We went to the Mansion House, and soon left there in procession. Our state carriage being in advance, I got out at Temple Bar, and the carriage went on with Judith to the Guildhall. I mounted on horseback, with my brother Sheriffs, some Aldermen, and Members of the Common Council. After many of the Royal carriages had passed, we set forward two and two before the Queen. On her arrival in the hall she reposed herself for some time. The Recorder then read the address, to which she replied. The Lord Mayor was introduced, and made a Baronet; the Aldermen were introduced, and then the Sheriffs were knighted, first George Carrol. On my kneeling to the Queen, she placed a sword on my left shoulder and said, 'Rise, Sir Moses.' I cannot express all I felt on this occasion. I had, besides, the pleasure of seeing my banner with 'Jerusalem' floating proudly in the hall. I hope my dear mother will be pleased. The entertainment was most magnificent, but my poor wife dreadfully ill."
Friday, November 10th.—The new knight, now Sir Moses, proceeded to Buckingham Palace to enter his name in the Duchess of Kent's visiting-book. On his return he received numerous visits of congratulation. He then went to the house of the mourners in the city, and also visited his mother.
Saturday, November 11th.—Although Sir Moses might have gone on that day to a place of worship near Park Lane, he preferred walking to the city on the first Sabbath after the honour of knighthood had been conferred upon him, to return thanks to the Almighty in the ancient Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in Bevis Marks, a structure which commemorates the first step towards religious liberty in England, and which had from his earliest days been an object of love and veneration to him. He started from home early in the morning, and joined the congregation before nine o'clock.
After service he attended an entertainment given by one of his friends on the occasion of his son attaining his thirteenth year (the age which constitutes religious majority). The remainder of the day he passed in visiting his relatives, and again attending the Synagogue to join in prayers with the mourners.
On Sunday, November 12th, he went to Newgate, where he found all well; his colleagues had already been there three hours. He then went to the residences of the Duke of Cambridge, the Princess Sophia Matilda, the Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke of Sussex, the Princess Sophia, and Princess Augusta, and entered his and Lady Montefiore's names in their visitors' books. On his return to Park Lane he dined with his wife, and spent a pleasant evening in reading and writing. "One of our old-fashioned happy East Cliff evenings," he says.
On Monday, November 13th, he attended the general meetings of some of his companies, and in the evening dined with the directors of the Imperial Continental Gas Association. The next day he was actively engaged in performing the duties of his office, attending the Lord Mayor at the Court of Hustings, and afterwards making arrangements with his under-Sheriff respecting the invitations for the dinner on the 16th inst. Having sent fifty invitations, and received but twenty-eight tickets, "I passed the whole day," he says, "in a state of much anxiety as to the best mode of acting. At last I have determined to seat the ladies, and send the gentlemen tickets for the Council Chamber, should they be unable to find seats in the hall. I most sincerely hope I may give no offence, as I am sure none was intended; my desire to oblige the family has brought me into this dilemma."
On Thursday, the 16th of November, Sir Moses walked to the city in the morning, called at the Alliance, Guildhall, and Mansion House, returning home at two o'clock. A few minutes before four, he and Lady Montefiore started in their state carriage, with the servants in full livery, for the Guildhall. "We called," he says, "at Cavendish Square, and followed Sir George and Lady Carrol in their state carriage to the Guildhall. At five the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress made their appearance long after many of Her Majesty's Ministers had arrived. We sat down to dinner soon after six. The hall presented a splendid appearance; there were between eleven and twelve hundred present, including nearly all the Ambassadors, Ministers, and Judges."
The health of the Sheriffs was not drunk till long after the ladies had left the table. Each of them returned thanks, Sir Moses doing so in the following words:—
"My excellent friend and colleague has so fully expressed my sentiments and feelings, that I ought, perhaps, to apologise for trespassing on your attention, but as this is the first time I have had the honour of addressing so large an assembly of distinguished guests and of my fellow-citizens, I cannot resist the temptation of offering you my congratulations on the auspicious event which has distinguished the commencement of our year of office. The recent visit of our most gracious Queen to this ancient hall, the kindness which induced Her Majesty to present herself, at the earliest possible period, to her faithful subjects of this great and opulent city, must have made a deep impression on every heart, must have strongly rooted the feelings of loyalty with which Britons naturally regard their sovereign; and, if I may judge of others by myself, must have awed all emotions save those of fervent hope and prayer, that the reign of our now youthful Queen may be long and peaceful, and that her greatest glories may be connected with the universal education of her subjects, the diffusion of the most comprehensive principles of benevolence, charity, and love—principles which shall unite all in a desire to accomplish the proud wish that England may possess and exercise the great prerogative of teaching other nations how to live. What we have seen is a proof, in my opinion, that we are fairly on our way to the full completion of the wish: for do not the recent events demonstrate to us, and will they not demonstrate far beyond the precincts of our city, that the purest freedom, and the warmest attachment to religion, may co-exist, and may safely co-exist, with the forms of monarchy and with feelings of affection to the sovereign, especially when that sovereign evinces the dispositions which we all recognise in our amiable, youthful, and illustrious Queen? Let, then, other countries boast of natural advantages, denied perhaps to ours, let our pride be in our civil advantages, in the security of our person and property, under a system of law and government which, whatever be its defects—and what is perfect on earth?—is at least as near to perfection as any government that has existed, or does now exist. But I am carried away by my feelings from the main object I had in view in rising to address you. That object was to tender you my thanks, warm from the heart, for the honour you have conferred on myself and colleague. I can sincerely say that the kindness of our fellow-citizens is a full reward for the performance of our duties, and will be a full inducement to devote ourselves cheerfully to the service of those who, unasked, have placed us in a position of so much trust and honour. We feel satisfied that in the performance of our duties we shall not betray the trust reposed in us, nor tarnish the honour of the Corporation. No; it will be our pride and pleasure to enhance the dignity of our office, in order that the distinction it confers may be more and more an object of laudable ambition to the most worthy and opulent of our fellow-citizens. Connected with the Corporation by high office, I feel a deep interest in its prosperity; and I pray that it may long exist to prove that popular corporate institutions are a bulwark to the throne, while they offer to the people a security for the preservation of their laws, and pure administration of justice."
Sir Moses was much pleased with the manifest approbation of the sentiments he expressed. "Lord Glenelg," he says, "spoke in a very friendly manner with me, as did the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. The Vice-Chancellor also made a very complimentary speech, saying he hoped to see me enjoy high city honours."
Most of the time of Sir Moses was now occupied in the discharge of the duties imposed on him by his office, which included his attendance at numerous meetings, dinners, and balls. Some of them are recorded in the diary. In making an entry of the Polish ball, which took place on the 21st of November, he says: "We left home at nine o'clock, and got to the Guildhall with great care between eleven and twelve. The hall was crowded, and presented a splendid appearance. There were above 2500 people present, including the Lord Mayor, the Duke and Duchess of Somerset, Miss Burdett-Coutts, Mr P. M. Stewart, Lord Dudley Coutts Stewart, &c. All were most friendly. In consequence of the absence of the Lady Mayoress, Lady Carrol and my wife did the honours. It was quite a fairy scene; I never saw anything like it before, and I daresay it will be some time before we again witness so brilliant an assembly. Before the hall became crowded, I was much pleased with the effect of my crest and arms, which had been chalked in colours on the floor, the crest with the word 'Jerusalem' in Hebrew being nearest the throne."
From the hall of splendour our attention is directed to the home of misery. We find him next visiting the Whitecross Street Prison. "I went," he says, "over the whole building, and found 428 unfortunate individuals confined within its walls. The men's wards were very unclean, but the women's extremely clean; there were only twenty-four females. The day rooms of the male prisoners were crowded with visitors. The prisoners were in good health, not more than seventeen in the infirmary, and all only slight cases of cold."
On Monday, the 27th of November, he went at half-past eight in his state carriage to the Mansion House, and at 9.30 he and his colleague accompanied the Lord Mayor, in grand state, to open the first session in his Lordship's mayoralty at the Old Bailey.
On the 29th he attended a meeting of the Deputies of British Jews, and a sub-committee was appointed to endeavour to get Mr Baines—the originator of a Bill for the purpose of altering the declaration contained in the Act 9 George IV., cap. 17, to be made by persons on their admission to municipal offices—to obtain an extension of its provisions to the Jews. The Bill, as it then stood, limited the indulgence to Quakers and Moravians.
When, on the following day, the Lord Mayor, accompanied by the Sheriffs, attended the meeting of the first Common Council, Mr David Salamons presented a petition, calling on the Court to petition both the Houses of Parliament to amend Mr Baines' Bill. "Charles Pearson," Sir Moses says, "proposed the motion, which was carried unanimously."
On the 3rd of December, Sir Moses was particularly requested by Mr David Salamons, to go with him to H.R.H. the Duke of Sussex, to inform him of their intentions respecting Mr Baines' Bill; but His Royal Highness was not well enough to see them. On the same day, Barons Lionel and Nathaniel Rothschild called on Sir Moses, to say that Sir Robert Peel had appointed the following Monday to see a deputation of the Jews.
In accordance with that appointment they called, with Mr David Salamons, on Sir Moses, the next day at the Old Bailey, and requested him to go with them to Sir Robert Peel; but, as it was expected that the Recorder would pass the sentences at twelve, he could not leave the Courts. The Recorder, however, did not make his appearance till three o'clock, and then made great difficulty before permitting him and Sir George Carrol to go to the House of Commons with the petition, positively refusing to allow their under-Sheriffs to accompany them, under the penalty of a fine. At about five o'clock Sir Moses and Sir George Carrol proceeded in their state carriages with their servants to the Guildhall for the Remembrancer, who went with them to the House of Commons with the three petitions.
On entering the House, led by the Sergeant-at-Arms with the Mace, the Speaker said: "Sir George Carrol and Sir Moses Montefiore, what have you there?" "A petition from the Lord Mayor and Common Council to the Honourable House," replied Sir George. "You may withdraw," returned the Speaker. They then withdrew in the same manner as they had advanced, bowing three times. They took their seats under the gallery, and listened to the debate on Mr Baines' Bill. "I very much regret," Sir Moses says, "that we, the Jews, allowed the House to divide."
A week later, on December 10th, after having gone over every part of Newgate Prison, and spoken with the prisoners, both male and female, he called, on his way back to Park Lane, on Dr Sims at Cavendish Square, to inform him that Lord John Russell would see that the Jews were relieved from the effect of the resolution passed by the London University, as to the examination of candidates for the degree of Bachelor of Arts, &c. He then accompanied Messrs Isaac Cohen and David Salamons to Kensington.
The Duke of Sussex saw them immediately, and was most kind. He approved of the Jews getting a Bill into the House of Commons to relieve them from the declaration on taking municipal offices, but not before the Bill relieving the Quakers had passed the Lords.
On Sunday, 17th December, he wrote a letter to Lord Melbourne to solicit the honour of an interview, previously to the Municipal Corporation Declaration Bill going into Committee. In the course of an hour his Lordship sent him a note in his own handwriting, saying he would be glad to see him the next day at half-past three, at Downing Street. Sir Moses immediately communicated with Messrs David Salamons and I. L. Goldsmid, and requested them to accompany him there on the following day.
Agreeably to this intimation they were at the appointed time in Downing Street. Lord Melbourne received them at once, the Marquis of Lansdowne being with him. Both of them, Sir Moses says, were very polite, but gave them to understand that they could not include the Jews in the present Bill, as they would not be able to carry it through the Lords.
On the same day he was officially informed of his having been elected President for the year of the Jews' Free School, but the duties of the Shrievalty prevented his accepting the honour. After calling at Newgate and Whitecross Street Prison, and speaking to all the prisoners, he attended at Doctors Commons to administer the will of his late uncle.
On December 19th he wrote a letter to Mr Alteston, Master of the Merchant Taylors' Company, offering to give L50 as a prize to the best Hebrew scholar in the Company's schools, as a token of his appreciation of the benevolence of the Company.
The diary of the year 1837 concludes with an entry referring to a banquet given at the London Coffee House by the Commercial Travellers' Society, under the presidency of Sir Chapman Marshall, at which Sir Moses was present. Two hundred persons sat down to table, among whom L1200 was collected for the benefit of the institution. This entry is followed by an account of a narrow escape of Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore. "We have been much alarmed," he writes, "by some person firing a pistol at us, near Welling, on the road from Rochester to London; happily it missed both horses and carriage; the postboy was much frightened."
DESTRUCTION OF THE ROYAL EXCHANGE—CITY TRADITIONS—"JEWS' WALK"—SIR MOSES DINES AT LAMBETH PALACE.
The diary of 1838, like that of the preceding year, abounds in descriptions of Sir Moses' official duties, as well as records of events.
January 11th.—Early in the morning, before he was dressed, Sir Moses was informed that the Royal Exchange had been burnt down in the night. He at once rode to the Alliance, and found the news true; only the walls of the Exchange were still standing. "I called at the Mansion House," he says, "and accompanied a deputation of the Gresham Company to see the ruins; the loss of books, papers, and securities is said to be immense. In the evening I repaired again to the Mansion House to attend a Court of Aldermen, which sat till after ten. It was a full meeting; the Town Clerk and all the Law Officers of the city were present. There were long and grave discussions respecting the making of a new city seal, the old one, as it was thought, having been destroyed in the fire at the Royal Exchange."
On January 14th he was present at a meeting of the Elders of his community at Bevis Marks. The resignation of the Deputies was received, and a resolution passed, that "for the future Deputies be elected by the Elders and seat-holders, generally known by the appellation of 'Yehidim,' and out of either body." After the meeting he called at Newgate, and went over the female wards and the infirmary.