"The Governor, hearing this statement, asked them where they had secreted the blood of the murdered men, to which one of them replied, that it had been put into a bottle, and delivered to Moses Abulafia, who, however, declared he knew nothing of it. In order to make him confess he received a thousand stripes, but this infliction not extorting any confession from him, he was subjected to other insupportable tortures, which at length compelled him to declare that the bottle was at home in a chest of drawers. Upon this the Governor ordered him to be carried on the shoulders of four men (for he could not walk), that he might open the bureau. This was opened, but nothing was found in it, except a quantity of money which the Governor seized, asking at the same time where the blood was. Whereupon Abulafia replied that he made the statement in order that the Governor should see the money in the bureau, trusting by this means to escape. Upon this the tortures were again repeated, and Abulafia, to save himself, embraced the Mohammedan religion.
"In this manner they treated all the prisoners who have been for one month in this misery. In Beyrout and in Damascus the Jews are not permitted to go out.
"After this an individual came forward, and stated that by means of astrology he had discovered and ascertained that the seven individuals above named assassinated the priest, and that the servant was killed by Raphael Farkhi, Nathan and Aaron Levy, Mordecai Farkhi, and Asher of Lisbon. The two first were immediately arrested, the others, it appears, sought safety in flight.
"You will judge from this—the Elders of Damascus say—what sort of justice is administered by means of astrology, and how such justice is exercised. And there is no one who is moved to compassion in favour of the unfortunate victims. Even Bekhor Negri, the Governor's banker, unable to bear these afflictions, became a Mussulman.
"Read this, dearest friends,—they continue,—to Messrs Camondo, Hatteni, and Carmona, in order that they may co-operate for the safety of our unfortunate and calumniated brethren, with such persons as they may deem most fitting.
"The Jews of Rhodes describe their state of misery to the elders of the congregation in Constantinople in the following statement:—
"A Greek boy, about ten years old, son of an inhabitant of the country, is said to have been lost, and the Christians have calumniated us by saying that we have killed him. All the European Consuls came forward to demand an elucidation of the affair. They went in a body, with the exception of the Austrian Consul, to the Pasha, and requested that he would entrust to them the conduct of the business, which request the Pasha granted. They then summoned before them two Greek women who dwelt near the city, who stated that on Tuesday some Jews were passing from the villages to the city, and that one of them had a Greek boy with him. The Consuls immediately cited the Jew to appear before them, and questioned him on the subject. He replied that he could prove that during the whole of Tuesday he was in the village, and did not come into the city until Wednesday. He added, moreover, that even if this boy did enter the city by that road, and at the time the Jews were going into it, it ought not therefore to be believed that the Jews had killed him, as the road was the chief and public thoroughfare through which any one might pass.
"These reasons were not admitted by the Consuls, and the unfortunate Jew was immediately put in irons, and tortured in a manner never yet seen or heard of. Having been loaded with chains, many stripes were inflicted on him, red hot wires were run through his nose, burning bones applied to his head, and a heavy stone was laid upon his breast, so that he was reduced to the point of death; all this time his tormentors were accusing him, saying, 'You have stolen the Greek boy, to deliver him up to the Rabbi—confess at once, if you wish to save yourself."
"Their object was to calumniate our Rabbi, and to take vengeance on all the community; and they stated openly that this was done for the purpose of exterminating the Jews in Rhodes, or to compel them to change their religion, so that they might be able to boast in Europe of having converted an entire community.
"Meanwhile the poor Jew cried out in the midst of these torments, praying for death as a relief, to which they replied, that he must confess to whom he had given the boy, and then he should be immediately set at liberty. The poor Jew, oppressed by tortures beyond endurance, resorted to falsehood in order to save himself. He calumniated first one and then another, but many whom he accused had been absent from the town some time, which clearly proved that his assertions had no other object than to free himself from these tortures. Nevertheless all those who could be found were immediately imprisoned, and subjected to insupportable torments, to extort from them the confession that they had delivered the boy to the Chief Rabbi, or to the elders of the community, and night and day they were tormented, because they would not accuse innocent persons. Meanwhile, goaded by continual tortures, these poor creatures cried out and prayed that they might be killed rather than be subjected to the endurance of such anguish; especially seven of them, who anxiously courted death, and indeed were all but dead in consequence of these tortures. To increase the misery, the Jewish quarter was closed and surrounded by guards, in order that none might go out, or learn what had happened to their unfortunate brethren.
"You must know—they say—that during the day at such times as there is no one in the Jewish quarter, the Christians are going about endeavouring clandestinely to leave the dead body of a Turk or Christian in the court of some Jewish house, for the purpose of having the individual brought before the Governor, in order to give a colouring to their calumny. Such is the misery that weighs upon our hearts and blinds our eyes. We have even been refused the favour of presenting a petition to the Pasha of the city.
"After three days spent in this wretchedness, they refused even to supply us with bread in our quarter, for our families shut up with us; but by dint of entreaty we have obtained, as a favour, the supply at high prices of salt fish and black bread.
"From what we can gather from the Europeans who are about the Pasha, he acts in concert with the Consuls, as he has done from the beginning. We except the Austrian Consul, who at first endeavoured to protect us, but who was at length compelled to join with the multitude."
INDIGNATION MEETINGS IN LONDON—M. CREMIEUX—LORD PALMERSTON'S ACTION—SIR MOSES STARTS ON A MISSION TO THE EAST—ORIGIN OF THE PASSOVER CAKE SUPERSTITION.
These communications, together with all the letters which had been addressed to Sir Moses on the same subject, were submitted to the consideration of the Board of Deputies and others at a meeting held at Grosvenor Gate, Park Lane, the residence of Sir Moses.
There were present—Mr Joseph Gutteres Henriques, President; Baron de Rothschild, Sir Moses Montefiore, Messrs Moses Mocatta, I. L. Goldsmid, Jacob Montefiore, Isaac Cohen, Henry H. Cohen, Samuel Bensusan, Dr Loewe, Messrs Louis Lucas, A. A. Goldsmid, Louis Cohen, H. de Castro, Haim Guedalla, Simon Samuel, Joel Davis, David Salamons, Abraham Levy, Jonas Levy, Laurence Myers, Solomon Cohen, Barnard van Oven, M.D., S. J. Waley, and F. H. Goldsmid.
The following resolutions were unanimously adopted:—
"That this meeting has learned with extreme concern and disgust that there have been lately revived in the East those false and atrocious charges, so frequently brought against the Jews during the middle ages, of committing murders in order to use the blood of the murdered as an ingredient in the food during the religious ceremony of Passover, charges which, in those times, repeatedly served as a pretext for the robbery and massacre of persons of the Jewish faith, but which have long disappeared from this part of the world, with the fierce and furious prejudices that gave them birth.
"That this meeting is anxious to express its horror at finding that, on the ground of these abominable calumnies, numbers of Jews have been seized at Damascus and at Rhodes; that many children have been imprisoned, and almost totally deprived of food; that of the adults seized, several have been tortured till they died, and others have been sentenced to death, and, it is believed, executed, although the only evidence of their guilt was the pretended confessions wrung by torture from their alleged accomplices.
"That this meeting earnestly request the Governments of England, France, and Austria to remonstrate with those Governments under which these atrocities have taken place, against their continuance.
"That this meeting confidently relies on the sympathy and humanity of the British nation to exert its influence and authority to stay such abominable proceedings, and that the President, Joseph Gutteres Henriques, Esq.; The Baron de Rothschild, Sir Moses Montefiore, and Messrs I. L. Goldsmid, Jacob Montefiore, David Salamons, A. A. Goldsmid, and F. H. Goldsmid do form a deputation to request a conference on the subject with Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
"That these resolutions be advertised in the newspapers."
A letter was read from the Rev. Dr Hirschel, Chief Rabbi, expressive of his regret that his infirmities prevented his attendance at the meeting, and declaring his concern at the revival of such false and calumnious assertions, and his horror at such atrocious cruelties.
The meeting was attended by Monsieur Cremieux, Vice-President of the Consistoire Central des Israelites Francais, who addressed the meeting, expressing his concurrence and sympathy in its proceedings.
On April 30th the Committee proceeded to Downing Street, and were most kindly received by Lord Palmerston. He promised to use his influence with Mohhammad Ali and the Turkish Government to put a stop to such atrocities. Sir Moses mentioned on this occasion, when Lord Palmerston was speaking of his visit to Palestine, Mr Young's humanity at Jerusalem, and also the fact that the Jews were desirous of being employed in agricultural pursuits.
On June 15th at a meeting of the Deputies and Representatives of all the Synagogues, including the Rev. Dr Hirschel, Rev. D. Meldola, Monsieur Cremieux, and Rev. D. Bibas, Sir Moses was requested to proceed, with Monsieur Cremieux, to Alexandria and Damascus, to which request he acceded.
On June 23rd he attended a meeting at the Great Synagogue, where the resolutions adopted at the previous meeting (June 15th) were confirmed, and he declared his readiness to go.
On the 24th of June he went with Baron Lionel de Rothschild to the Foreign Office. Lord Palmerston was most friendly, and read to them the despatches to Colonel Hodges and Lord Ponsonby. That to Colonel Hodges was most strongly worded, calling on him to address Mohhammad Ali in writing to urge him to compensate the sufferers and remove those officers who had misconducted themselves in Damascus. Lord Palmerston further said he would give Sir Moses letters to Colonel Hodges, telling him to afford him every protection and assistance, and desiring him to apply to Mohhammad Ali to give him (Sir Moses) every facility for the investigation of the affair. His Lordship also added that he would give him any other letters he might require.
On Friday, July 3rd, there was a crowded and enthusiastic meeting in the Egyptian Hall at the Mansion House, of bankers, merchants, and many influential and learned British Christians, for the purpose of expressing their sympathy with the Israelites, and their earnest wishes for the success of Sir Moses Montefiore previous to his starting on the mission to the East. Mr Alderman Thompson took the chair. The principal speakers were the Lord Mayor, Sir Chapman Marshall, J. Abel Smith, John Masterman, S. Gurney, Sir Charles Forbes, Dr Bowring, Daniel O'Connell, and the Hon. and Rev. Noel. The result of the meeting was highly satisfactory.
In the interval between these meetings Sir Moses attended the Queen's Drawing-Room, and was most graciously addressed there by Prince George of Cambridge, who said he was glad to see him, and reminded him of his having met him at Malta.
At a meeting of the Board of Deputies on the 26th Sir Moses was unanimously elected their president, on the resignation of Mr J. H. Henriques. He attended the annual festival dinner of the Jews' Hospital, when the Duke of Sussex presided. On the 11th of June he went to the Merchant Taylors' Hall to meet the Duke of Cambridge and Prince George, the latter being made an honorary member of the Company. Taking special interest in the abolition of slavery, Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore both attended the grand meeting of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, when Prince Albert took the chair and addressed the company. On June 15th he was present at a meeting of the Board of Deputies of the British Jews, and agreed to the addresses of congratulation prepared by the Hon. Secretary, to be sent to Her Majesty, Prince Albert, and the Duchess of Kent, on the occasion of the escape of the Queen from the attempt made on her life in the Park on the 10th of June. The address to Her Majesty was subsequently presented by him, as President of the Board of Deputies, accompanied by four other gentlemen, at St James' Palace; and Sir Moses was then presented to the Queen by the Duke of Norfolk, on his going to the East. The next day Sir Moses and the same four gentlemen presented the address to the Duchess of Kent, who received them most amiably, and enquired particularly after Sir Moses' health. He then proceeded with them to Buckingham Palace, and presented the address to Prince Albert, who also received them very graciously.
Sir Moses, as the representative of the Jews in the British Empire, now commenced making his arrangements for the departure of the Mission, and Monsieur Cremieux, as representative of the Jews in France, took similar steps.
Sir Moses selected for his companions Mr D. W. Wire (his former under-Sheriff and afterwards Lord Mayor of London), Dr Madden, a distinguished author and well-known traveller in the East, and myself.
Monsieur Cremieux engaged as his companion Monsieur Solomon Munk, a distinguished savant of Paris.
Before I proceed to give the account of the present mission, as taken from the entries in Sir Moses' diary and from my own personal observation, I deem it necessary to direct the attention of the reader to the origin of accusations similar to those made at Damascus, which were brought against the Jews in former times; and to point out the reason why, even to this day, they are not without effect in some of the most enlightened countries.
Tertullianus (J. Septimus Florens), one of the Fathers of the Church, who lived in the second century, complains in his work entitled "Apologet. advers. gentes" (chap. 8), of the adherents to the religion to which he himself belonged being accused of sacrificing and eating children. Upon which, Pamelius, in his commentary on the same chapter (which he dedicated to Philip II. and Pope Gregory VIII.), observes, that the accusation has its origin in the misunderstanding of the sense of all those passages in the New Testament which refer to the Agapes. These verses have been taken by the uninitiated in their literal sense.
The heathens at that time asserted that the Christians used human blood at their Passover. Thus we find the origin of that horrible accusation in the first three centuries of the Christian era; not until the thirteenth century was it brought against the Jews, viz., in the year 1235 in Fulda, 1250 in Spain, 1264 in London, 1283 in Bachrach, Moravia, 1285 in Munich.
If these charges were true, it might be asked, how is it that the Jews, who celebrated the Passover festival fifteen hundred years before the Christian era, had never been accused of such a crime before? The answer to this question is to be found in the history of the thirteenth century.
It was in this century, when fanaticism and hatred of race prevailed, and when persecutions for witchcraft and the burning of heretics and sorcerers were of frequent occurrence, that it appeared opportune to bring against the Jews the same accusation which had been formerly brought against the ancestors of their accusers, viz., the using of Christian blood for the Passover. The wealth of the Jews in several parts of Europe, as well as the high position to which they were raised in Spain by the rulers of the land, had aroused the jealousy of their adversaries. The unfounded nature of the accusation against them was so palpable that the heads of the Church deemed it necessary to defend and protect them. Thus Pope Innocent IV. published a Bull on the 5th of July 1247, addressed to the heads of the Church in France and Germany, officially refuting the demoniacal accusation (S. Baronitas Annales eccles. ad annum 1247, No. 84). I give here a translation of it in order to afford the reader the opportunity of acquainting himself with the contents of that important document:—
"Lyons, 3rd July 1248.
"Pope Innocent, the servant of the servants of God, sends his apostolic greeting and blessing to the right reverend Fathers, Bishops, and Archbishops in Germany.
"We have received from Germany the sad news that in your towns and dioceses there is a wish to despoil the Jews, in an illegal manner, of their property, and that, for this purpose, malicious counsels and different false accusations are brought against them. Without considering that they were, in a certain way, entrusted with the care of the Christian faith; that the command of Holy Scripture, 'Thou shalt not commit murder,' was given to them; and that, by their law, they are forbidden to touch corpses on the Passover, they are accused of eating in company the heart of a murdered child, and if the dead body of any human being is found, they are believed to be the murderers, although such practices are in direct contradiction to their laws. By such false accusations they are oppressed, and deprived of all their goods, although they have never been brought before any judge and found guilty, in spite of the privileges graciously granted them by the Apostolic Chair. This is against all human and divine law, and brings these said Jews into a worse condition than that of their forefathers under the Pharaohs of Egypt, and forces them, in their misery, to leave the places where their fathers had been settled from time immemorial. In their fear of being exterminated entirely, they have sought the protection of the Apostolic Chair, and we hereby forbid every unjust oppression of the said Jews, whose conversion we trust to the mercy of God, according to the promise of the Prophet, that those of them who remain shall be saved; and we commend them to you, our brethren, through this Apostolic letter, that you may show favour to them, and help them to their right, when they have been unjustly imprisoned; and that you in no case permit them to be oppressed for the said or similar causes. Those who are guilty of molesting them in this way are to be punished by doing penance in the Church, without regard to their station.
"Given at Lyons, on the 3rd of July, in the fifth year of our Pontificate."
In 1275 the Emperor Rudolf of Hapsburgh confirmed this Bull, in a decree, sealed with his great seal, which is still to be seen in the Archives of the Town of Cologne. The title of this decree is, "I, Rudolphus, Rex Rom., do hereby confirm the privileges granted to the Jews by Popes Gregory and Innocent, and declare to be untrue, that which some Christians say, that they do eat the heart of a dead child on the day of their Passover."
The contents of this decree are a literal translation of the Bull given above. Another Bull issued by Gregory, says, amongst other things:—
"Gregory, &c.... Following the example set us by our predecessors of blessed memory, Calixt, Cugen, Alexander, Coeloestin, Honorius, and Gregory, we agree to the prayer of the Jews, and will hold the shield of our protection over them. We also strictly forbid, that any Christian force them, against their will, to be baptised, as only those can be considered as Christians who, from their own free will, accept baptism. Nor shall any Christian dare, without a judgment from us, to wound or to kill them, to deprive them of their money, or in any way to molest them in the privileges granted to them in the places where they live."
The Emperor concludes his decree with the following words: "We confirm and permit, in our Royal mercy, by this act to the said Jews, all and everything which was granted and given to them by the Roman Popes, so that they may live securely under the shadow of our protection, and that they shall not be condemned, in any case whatever, unless properly judged and found guilty by the righteous testimony of Jews and Christians."
Considering that M. Achille Laurent has published a book, in which he presumes to give what he calls a "Procedure complete dirigee en 1840 contre des Juifs de Damas,"—a book which is replete with outbursts of hatred against the Jews, and has, since its publication, unfortunately served almost as a text-book in the hands of their adversaries,—I think it desirable, in addition to the declaration of the Pope given above, to introduce to the reader the names of some eminent Christian scholars, who have but recently (since the accusations of Kohling and Geza roused the attention of the public) expressed their opinion in the works they have published; some of which were written by the special order of the Courts of Law in Austria, and the Universities of Amsterdam, Leyden, Utrecht, and Copenhagen.
The Right Rev. Bishop Dr Kopp, of Fulda; the Right. Rev. Dr J. H. Reinkens, in Bonn; Professor Dr Franz Delitzsch; Professor Dr A. Dillman; Professor Dr G. Ebers; Professor Dr H. L. Fleischer, in Leipzig; Professor Dr H. Kalkar, in Copenhagen; Professor Dr Paul de Lagarde, in Goettingen; Professor Dr Merx, in Heidelberg; Dr Alois Muller, in Vienna; Professor Dr Th. Noeldecke, in Straszburg; Professor Dr Riehm, Professor Dr Carl Siegfried of Vienna, Professor Dr B. Stade of Gieszen, Professor Dr Sommer of Koenigsberg, Professor Dr Strack of Berlin, and Dr August Wunsche of Dresden.
A book entitled, "Christliche Zeugnisse gegen die Blutbeschuldigung der Juden," published by Walther and Apolant, Berlin, 1882, gives a compilation of all the statements on the subject made by these authors, all proving the accusation to be a calumny.
To take possession of the wealth accumulated by the industrious and sober habits of the Jews, and to deprive them of the important positions which they had, by their uprightness and ability, obtained, was the object their adversaries had in view in raising this accusation in the thirteenth century, and the same object can be traced in the persecutions which, in the present century, in some parts of the world, continue to affect individuals, and sometimes even whole communities.
July 7th.—We proceeded to the London Bridge Wharf, where we were met by the members of the Ecclesiastical Courts, both of the German and Portuguese congregations, and many others of our brethren. "I should think," Sir Moses observes in his diary, "there were more than one hundred Jews waiting to see us set off, all giving us their blessing, and wishing us health, success, and a safe return. May the Almighty hearken to their prayers, and grant their petition."
It was blowing very hard when we reached Gravesend, and we determined to land, which was not effected without some difficulty and inconvenience. Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore were much fatigued, having spent nearly the whole of the previous night in writing letters and arranging various important matters relative to the Mission.
July 8th.—We went on board the Arrow a little before eight, and reached the French coast before eleven o'clock. The weather being squally and the sea rough, we and several others remained on board till the vessel could enter the port. We came to anchor, and continued to roll about till half-past four, when we landed in safety.
Thursday, July 9th.—Found our carriages, and servants all well at Boulogne, and ready to receive us. Having taken some refreshment, we proceeded to Abbeville, and travelled all night, arriving shortly after mid-day in Paris.
During our stay there we had frequent interviews with the members of the Rothschild family, who took a deep interest in our Mission. A meeting of the Consistoire de France on the subject was held at the house of Baron Anselm de Rothschild, which I attended together with Dr Loewe and Mr Wire. Monsieur Cremieux made a fervent appeal to all present, and the result was very satisfactory. We left Paris on the 13th July, together with Dr Madden, who had come from London to join us. Monsieur and Madame Cremieux joined our party at Avignon, and together we reached Marseilles on the 20th. The Grand Rabbin, with the principal members of the community, immediately came to welcome us; afterwards we went on board the Minos to inspect our cabins.
Tuesday, July 31st.—Repaired early in the morning to the Synagogue, and prayed for the safety and success of our Mission. At 4.30 P.M. we went on board the Minos; Messrs Palmer and Taylor, of the Imperial Continental Gas Association, accompanied us. Mr Moore, the Queen's messenger, and Mr Doyle, of the Chronicle, were fellow passengers. The wind blew very fresh when first we started, but the evening was very fine.
ARRIVAL AT LEGHORN—ALEXANDRIA—SIR MOSES' ADDRESS TO THE PASHA—ACTION OF THE GRAND VIZIR.
July 23rd.—Landed at Leghorn, and went at once to the Hotel du Globe. Many visitors called. A deputation from the Synagogue came, and Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore asked to have the evening prayers read in the presence of all their brethren. They accordingly gave notice to the members of the community, who assembled in great numbers. Before the service commenced we all joined them. Subsequently the Ecclesiastical Chief opened the Holy Ark, and offered up a special prayer for the Mission. At the conclusion of the service we returned to our ship, accompanied by the representatives of the community, and at four o'clock we left the harbour.
July 24th.—At ten we dropped anchor at Civita Vecchia. We had been advised in Leghorn not to land in the city, as there had been some little movement against the Israelites, occasioned by the writings of a priest called Meyer, a converted Jew. We were visited by Signor Scala and Signor Samuel Alatri, a deputation from Rome. Their account was very unfavourable as to the opinion of the Papal Government, and murmurs, not loud but deep, were heard in Rome. They strongly recommended our going from Malta in an English steamboat to Egypt. They related an incident which had taken place a few days previously, and caused them much uneasiness. A Hebrew woman was delivered of a daughter by a Christian midwife, who immediately baptized the child, and the authorities refused to restore her to the mother. At Leghorn, just before Passover, a woman had lost a child, and accused the Jews of stealing it, but the Governor put her in prison, saying she should remain there till the child was found. This had the desired effect, and the child was discovered the next day.
We left Civita Vecchia at 3 P.M. and anchored the following day at 8 A.M. in the harbour of Naples. Baron Charles de Rothschild and his son came on board to see us, and to converse with us respecting the Mission.
It was nine when our captain and his companions returned, and we immediately started.
July 27th.—Entered the harbour of Malta at 5 A.M.; landed, and went to Dunford's Hotel. Subsequently paid our respects to the Governor, at the Palace, also to Sir Hector Grey.
Tuesday, July 28.—Rose at five. Went to Synagogue. Having left cards at the Palace and called on some friends, we went on board the Eurotas at half-past eleven.
The sea was terribly rough and disagreeable. "Those who have the happiness of remaining at home," said Sir Moses, "can have no idea of the miseries of the sea."
July 29th.—Had some heavy squalls. While Lady Montefiore was sitting on deck, a lurch of the vessel threw her backwards with great force. Both she and Sir Moses were much alarmed. The weather continued very rough.
July 31st.—Were close in with Falkner's Island and the Island of Milo to the E.S.E.; every one was delighted with the change in the weather. The appearance of the Islands was barren and monotonous. At five o'clock we cast anchor in the bay, pretty close to Syra. The water here is extremely blue, and so clear that we could see the-bottom at a depth of sixty feet. We had made all preparations for immediately embarking on board the vessel which was to take us to Alexandria, but we learnt, to our regret, that she had not yet arrived from Athens. We were consequently compelled to remain on the Eurotas.
August 1st.—At twelve left the Eurotas and went on board the Tancrede, which had arrived in the night from Athens, having made the voyage in seven and a half hours. We had very few passengers besides our own party,—one a brother of Count Capo D'Istria. He had been imprisoned during eight months, and was being sent out of Greece. A boat with soldiers remained close to the steamer till we left Syra.
August 2nd.—In sight of Candia, near Cape Soloman. The morning was fine, with a pleasant breeze. Lady Montefiore was well and in very good spirits, active and studious as ever.
Tuesday, August 4th.—Dropped anchor in the harbour of Alexandria at a quarter to eight in the morning. The harbour was filled with ships of war, Turkish and Egyptian. We noticed particularly the Mahmudie, 130 guns, and two vessels of sixty-eight guns.
We immediately went on shore to see the Ecclesiastical Chief of the Hebrew community, and ascertain from him the latest news from Damascus.
Later Sir Moses went to Colonel Hodges, the English Consul General, who received him most politely. The Colonel said he wished to go over the whole business with him. It had assumed, he said, a political character. Sir Moses would find Monsieur Cochelet, the French Consul, very plausible, but very firm; another Consul, he remarked, had been charged with taking bribes. Colonel Hodges recommended Sir Moses to keep clear of all parties, and requested him to call again in two hours. The Colonel had seen, with much satisfaction, Dr Hirschel's letter addressed to Sir Moses previous to his departure from England, which had been translated into the Arabic, Turkish, Armenian, and modern Greek languages, for distribution in the East. He had shown it to Mohhammad Ali.
At twelve Colonel Hodges accompanied Sir Moses to the French Consul, where they met Mons. Cremieux. They afterwards called on Mons. Laurin, the Austrian Consul, with whom they saw the Prussian Consul. They finally called on the Russian Consul, who, however, happened to be asleep.
August 5th.—It was nearly two o'clock this morning before we could retire, having read over and arranged various documents. We rose soon after five, and at eight Colonel Hodges called to accompany us to the Palace. Sir Moses was dressed in uniform, and the gentlemen who went with him wore either their court or official costume. Messrs Cremiere and Munk did not join us, as their appearance before Mohammad Ali on that day was not considered advisable by Monsieur Cochelet, for reasons best known to himself.
Sir Moses, who rode in the carriage with Colonel Hodges, read to him the petition which he had to present to the Pasha. He said he approved of it and hoped it would be granted, but did not appear from his manner to think it would. On our arrival we were immediately ushered into the hall of audience. Mohhammad Ali was seated in the same spot as when last we had seen him. Colonel Hodges presented Sir Moses, saying he had the pleasure of presenting an old acquaintance of His Highness. The Pasha greeted Sir Moses very graciously, after which we were all introduced. Colonel Hodges then said that Sir Moses desired to present a petition to His Highness on behalf of his Government, to which the Pasha gave a most gracious assent.
Sir Moses addressed His Highness as follows:—
"Your Highness,—We have heard in Europe that false accusations have been brought against the Israelites of Damascus, who are the subjects of your Highness, and that tortures and fearful sufferings have been inflicted upon them, in order to extract evidence against themselves. As it is well known that our religion not only does not approve the crime of which they are accused, but strictly commands us to abhor the use of blood in every form, we have been delegated by our co-religionists in the whole of Europe, to implore your Highness' justice for our brethren. It gives us the highest satisfaction to hear that your Highness, as soon as informed of the tortures, gave orders to suspend them immediately. Being firmly convinced that your Highness, who has already earned such great renown in Europe for bravery in war, wisdom in council, and tolerance towards all your subjects without distinction, will, with your usual benevolence, grant our request, we appear before your Highness. We come, not in anger nor with hatred, but solely with the most earnest desire to have the truth made known. We therefore entreat your Highness to grant us authority to go to Damascus, and there to institute such enquiries as will lead to satisfactory information on the subject of this accusation, which has caused consternation to the Jews of the whole world, and untold sufferings to the Jewish population of Damascus; that the information thus obtained may be officially authenticated by the Governor of Damascus and put before your Highness.
"We further beg that your Highness will cause every facility to be given us for procuring evidence, and will grant absolute protection to the members of this Mission, and perfect security to all who give evidence.
"We entreat your Highness to grant us permission to see and interrogate the accused as often as may be necessary, and that the authority and permission, which your Highness will be pleased to grant us, may be, by a firman, registered in the Archives, and sent officially to the Governor of Damascus, who shall cause its contents to be proclaimed in the streets of that town.
"In conclusion, we beg to be permitted to state that the eyes of all Europe are fixed on your Highness, and that by your granting our prayer the whole civilised world will be much gratified. It is well understood that the Great Man, who has already earned such a glorious name, must love justice dearly. There cannot be a greater homage rendered to your Highness' genius and benevolence, than this Mission sent to you by the Israelites of the whole world, to appeal for justice. It is the highest tribute paid to your genius, to your love of truth, and to your earnest desire to secure justice to all your subjects, that this Mission addresses itself to your Highness with the greatest confidence, and feels sure that its appeal will not have been in vain."
The Pasha had kept his eyes upon him the whole time. Sir Moses, when he had finished, requested that his interpreter might be permitted to read it to His Highness in Turkish. The Pasha said it was too long; he would have it translated, and would then read it and give an answer. Sir Moses then begged that the heads of the petition might be read to him; he repeated, "It is long, it is long; shall be translated!" Sir Moses then stated that the petition referred to the Jews of Damascus, to which the Pasha replied, "I know it."
Dr Madden then presented an address of thanks on behalf of the Society for the Abolition of Slavery. The Pasha appeared pleased to be able to turn the conversation from the petition, and spoke at considerable length on the subject of slavery. Sir Moses tried, through Colonel Hodges, to bring his business again to the fore. An ineffectual attempt was made several times, when Colonel Hodges said Sir Moses should leave it to him. Before leaving, Sir Moses told His Highness that the English people were looking forward with great anxiety to his answer, for which he would wait on His Highness in two days' time. The Pasha told Sir Moses to come, and he should have it, adding that if it was an affair of justice, and Sir Moses had brought a French advocate with him for that purpose, then this could not be permitted. Upon which Colonel Hodges informed the Pasha that Monsieur Cremieux, though an advocate, had come solely from motives of humanity, and was himself a Jew. Sir Moses, on his return, remarked that nothing could have been less satisfactory than this interview, very different from the two former occasions, when His Highness was most friendly and chatty.
Sir Moses now heard that Monsieur Cochelet, the French Consul, had been with His Highness for an hour and a half on the previous night.
August 6th.—We had many visitors; the captains of two English war-ships were of the number, and also Captain Lyons. Sir Moses, on receiving a message from Colonel Hodges, informing him that the Pasha was going to the Delta early on the following morning, immediately went to the Consul. The latter read to him the letter he had sent to the Pasha on the subject of the Jews in Damascus; it could not have been stronger. Sir Moses determined upon going to the Pasha. It was nearly nine when he entered the Palace. His reception was most affable and kind, very different from that of the previous day. Sir Moses said he had heard that His Highness was going away. The Pasha replied that he would be back on Friday.
August 7th.—Monsieur Laurin sent a message to the effect that the Pasha had told him that he would grant our request. Colonel Hodges called to confer with Sir Moses on the subject.
August 8th.—The Grand Vizier directed a letter to the Pasha, of which the following is a translation:—
"His Excellency, the Ambassador of Great Britain, to the Sublime Porte, stated in a letter which he presented, that Sir Moses Montefiore, Mr David William Wire, and Dr Madden, English subjects and distinguished members of society, also Mr Adolphe Cremieux and Dr Louis Loewe, form a distinguished deputation to the East, for the purpose of making a thorough investigation respecting the persecutions to which the Jews have been subjected at Damascus and the island of Rhodes. The above-named Ambassador asked that the members of the Deputation should be treated with due respect, and should have every facility afforded them for accomplishing their mission.
"This is the purpose of my writing to your Highness.
"10 Gema-zil-Akhar, 1256. "Reouf."
We attended divine service morning and evening, and received visits from the leading members of the community. Colonel Hodges and Monsieur Laurin conferred a long time with us on the subject of the Mission.
Monday, August 10th.—Sir Moses, Monsieur Cremieux, Monsieur Munk, Mr Wire, and I went to Monsieur Laurin, who read to us all the papers and despatches respecting the Damascus affair. We remained with him for more than three hours, making notes of all that appeared likely to serve our cause.
From the following letters subsequently addressed to Sir Moses by the Rev. Joseph Marshall, Chaplain of H.M.S. Castor, Lieutenant Shadwell of the same ship, and the Rev. Schlientz, of Malta, all referring to their visit to Damascus on the 16th August, in the year 1840, the reader will be able to gather important information respecting the accused.
AUTHENTIC ACCOUNTS OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES ATTENDING THE ACCUSATIONS AGAINST THE JEWS—TERRIBLE SUFFERINGS OF THE ACCUSED—EVIDENCE OF THEIR INNOCENCE—WITNESSES IN THEIR FAVOUR BASTINADOED TO DEATH.
Copy of a Letter from the Rev. Joseph Marshall, Chaplain of H.M.S. "Castor."
Sir,—In reference to the enquiries you make concerning your brethren in Damascus, I have much pleasure in informing you, that when I visited that city about the middle of last August, I took considerable pains in making myself acquainted with the nature of the charge preferred against them, the evidence on which it rested, the treatment to which they were exposed. The result of my enquiries I will briefly submit to you.
That two men, the Padre Tommaso and his servant, are missing, is beyond dispute. There is not the least reason to believe that the servant is murdered or dead; there is but little evidence that the Padre has been murdered, and not the slightest that he was murdered by Jews; on the contrary, evidence a priori is entirely in their favour, and that extorted by torture, if fairly considered, is equally so. However, as some others who have visited Damascus have expressed a contrary opinion, I think it necessary to state, in a few words, some of the grounds upon which I establish mine.
I need not allude to their ceremonial and moral law; both are equally abhorrent of the act imputed to them; but perhaps they were fanatics influenced by an inward light stronger than their law. Fanaticism is not usually found among such men as Soloman Murad and Meyer Farki, with their compeers, the leading men of a highly respectable and wealthy community, as was evident from the appearance of their families even in distress. Indeed I was answered by both Moslem and Franks, that the higher order of Jews at Damascus were less to be remarked for enthusiasm than coldness in religion. I have the same authority for believing that worldly competitions and commercial jealousy made it very improbable that they would unite so closely as the commission of such a crime would imply.
What testimony is there then to overcome these probabilities? Confession wrung from mortal agony and unsupported by circumstantial evidence. Their enemies do, to be sure, appeal to certain circumstances, such as the identity of the extorted confession itself: true, I believe it to be so perfectly identical as to lose all character of independence. But there were other circumstances. There were animal remains found twenty-five days after the Friar had disappeared, in a running sewer in closer proximity to a butcher's stall than to David Arari's house. There was said also to be the mark of fire on the white marble pavement of the same gentleman's court. I saw it not, though the stone was pointed out. This mark, which did not exist, was supposed to be caused by the burning of the Padre's clothes, but there were certain stains on a wall which might be blood; I thought they might be anything else rather. Again, with the aforesaid animal remains there was found a piece of cloth such as might identify it with part of the Friar's cap. Is this circumstance consistent with the burning of his apparel, or did they spare that part only, which would most easily lead to detection?
But there was another circumstance much dwelt on, viz., the posting of a notice at the barber's door, at too great a height for the Friar's stature; therefore, evidently the work of a Jew. I can positively say, it was at the natural height for such fixtures, within the reach of any middle-sized person, and with the slightest trouble might be placed there by anyone. But what was the object of the gigantic Jew in posting the advertisement at all? He had taken it, it was supposed, from the Synagogue door, where it was supposed the Friar had posted it. And for the purpose of destroying all trace of the Friar having been in the Jews' quarter, he transferred it to the barber's door, which was actually within the Jews' quarter. He might, to be sure, have destroyed it and all trace of the Padre at once; but this would have been an expedient too simple for the sagacity of this Hebrew, which appears to have been in an inverse ratio to his bulk.
The dulness of such reasoning defeats its malice. And this is all the evidence for the charge procured by the bastinadoing of one hundred and twenty persons, in several instances to death. I think its meagreness proves the negative, viz., that the poor victims had nothing really to confess; and this in addition to the positive evidence of those who died under the torture, sealing their testimony with their blood.
But might not the accused have brought forward positive evidence in their favour? One person did come forward to prove that he had seen the Friar in another part of the town subsequently to the date of the supposed murder. He was bastinadoed to death—a consummation not likely to encourage other witnesses to come forward; and indeed the Jews assert that Moslems of the first rank in Damascus, if they dared speak, could have established an alibi for them in many cases.
To have anything like an adequate idea of what these unfortunate people suffered, after the heads of their families had been thrown into prison, you must be on the spot to hear, as one of themselves expressed it, "their hearts speaking." Insults of all kinds heaped upon them by the refuse of mankind, their houses broken into and plundered with impunity, jewels torn from the persons of their female relatives, young children imprisoned and tortured with starvation, the son bastinadoed before the mother's eyes to make her betray her husband's place of concealment, the most exorbitant bribes demanded to permit the common necessaries of life to pass the gates of the prison for its bruised and wretched inhabitants. These, sir, were some of their sufferings, and of these I had undoubted evidence.
Surely the correspondent of the Times, to whom you allude, if he had not confined himself while in Damascus to Frank society, and that, too, of a particular caste, would have seen and heard enough to make him hesitate before he declared his belief in the guilt of the Jews, the mildness of their sufferings, and the mercy of their persecutors! Had he gone to the house of David Arari, he would have learned that women had been tortured, and in vain. He might have seen with his own eyes the heroic conduct of the poor negro girl, a Moslem and a slave, whom the torture could not force to bear false witness against the Jew, her master. He might there also have learned that if Madame Arari had consented to sacrifice her daughter's virtue, she might have preserved her husband's person from violence, his property from plunder, and her people from slander. He might have ascertained the amount of sympathy and mercy which Madame Lagnado received at the hands of a European functionary, when she visited him on behalf of her husband, who died under the torture. Had he visited Signor Merlato, the Austrian Consul, a man whom all Christendom must respect, he might have satisfied his eyes respecting the barbarity of the torture, and that the sufferers had not at that time recovered from its effects. Long after that period I saw men who, after the lapse of five months from the infliction of the bastinado, had their feet and legs swelled to a form as if produced by elephantiasis. The correspondent of the Times, whose very just description of the state of Syria and Palestine lends an undue importance to his opinion on the case of the Jews, would have been persuaded that there were cases in which foreign influence was used with the Pasha to encourage the application of the torture when some old men, too feeble to survive for a moment the infliction of the bastinado, were subjected a second time to the torment of sleeplessness, under the bayonets of the Egyptian soldiers. But it is indeed too unreasonable and unjust to lay on the Pasha of Damascus the whole blame of these proceedings, unequalled in atrocity since the days of the fourth Antiochus. The guilt must be equally shared by those who delivered up an innocent people into his hands; indeed, their share is greater. He may plead that he was obliged to do these things by the nature of his office. The persecutors of the Jews cannot even shelter themselves under such a plea as that. Indeed, if they be blameless, then is the Spanish Inquisition blameless also; the Auto-da-Fe being, in the last result, certainly the result of the civil power. In short, the charges and recommendations of the Jews against their persecutors are of such enormity as to make them, it is to be hoped, if they be conscious of their innocence, anxious that the whole matter should be sifted to the bottom by a process more rational than the bastinado, and before a judge less suspected of foreign influence than Sheriff Pasha. Although I trust you will persevere in your meritorious exertions for the sake of humanity and truth, yet, as you ask my opinion as to the practicability or prudence of proceeding at once to Damascus, I must say that I do not think it advisable. Though Damascus may have submitted to the Sultan, and the Emir Beshir would be happy to grant you, if necessary, an escort through the mountains, yet I am afraid a short time must elapse before the people of Damascus can be made aware of the important changes in their social condition, when the Hatti Sherif of Gulhane shall be no longer to them a dead letter, when violence shall no longer usurp the place of justice, nor men endanger their lives by bearing witness to the truth. You will be able to return to Syria in a few months under better auspices, and cover the slanderers of your people with confusion.
The example of Rhodes should give you encouragement. I was there last summer when the atrocious charge of the same malignity which was made against the Jews of that place, resulted in like violence, and which, if tried by a similar process, would have led to the same results as at Damascus.
Justice was done to them at Constantinople, and they triumphed. In the same way will you find the cloud clearing away from Damascus. Indeed, there exists not at present the shadow of evidence against them, except you so call a most unnatural and suspicious identity of confession, to be found in all false accusations where torture has been applied, such as in trials for witchcraft. A remarkable instance of this you may have seen recorded in Chambers' Journal a few months ago. It happened in the reign of James I. of England. The accused, if I rightly remember, was the "wise wife of Kent." In the meantime, if this testimony of mine can be of any service in comforting your distressed people, I shall not consider I have visited Damascus in vain.
Accept, Sir, my best wishes and esteem, and believe me to be your very obedient servant, Joseph Marshall.
To Sir Moses Montefiore, Bart, &c., &c., &c.
Copy of a Letter addressed to Sir Moses Montefiore by Lieutenant Shadwell of H.M.S. "Castor."
H.M.S. Castor, Malta, December 5th, 1840.
Sir,—In compliance with your request, I beg leave to submit to you some observations relative to the affairs of the Jews at Damascus, which I was enabled to make in my recent visit to that city, and also to lay before you the general impression on my mind at that time, as to the weight and credibility of the evidence addressed in support of the charges which have been advanced against them.
My visit to Damascus took place in the early part of the month of August of the present year, my fellow-travellers being the Rev. Mr Marshall, Chaplain of H.M.S. Castor, and the Rev. Mr Schlientz, of Malta, and his lady.
On the 10th of August, soon after my arrival at Damascus, accompanied by Mr Marshall, I went to the Jewish quarter of that city, and proceeded in the first instance to the house of David Arari, one of the accused persons, who was then in confinement, and at whose house the Father Tommaso is said to have been murdered. We were shown into an apartment where the atrocious deed is said to have been committed. It is a small room to the left of the Divan, with windows in front looking into the interior court, and high windows behind looking into the street. The latter circumstance is important as tending to throw doubts on the credibility of the accusation, as it is scarcely possible to conceive that any person could submit quietly to the pains of death without uttering cries for assistance, and that, if those cries had been uttered, they should not have been heard in the street outside.
In the corresponding apartment on the other side of the Divan, we were shown a stain of dirt upon the wall, which the zeal of the accusers branded with the imputation of being blood. This room was in a dismantled state, all the furniture having been removed, and the marble flooring torn up in order to search for bones or other remains of the supposed crime.
We afterwards visited the house of Mourad Farki, Mayer Farki, and Solomon Farki. The two former, being accused of participating in the murder, were in confinement. We were shown the room where the murder of Tommaso's servant is said to have been perpetrated, and saw the privy and the sewer in the street where the remains of the two are alleged to have been thrown.
We also went to the house of Halil Said Naivi, one of the accusers, and saw that individual. He is the keeper of a low grog-shop of disreputable character. It must be admitted that the nature of the man's calling does not afford any guarantee for the credibility of his testimony.
On the following day, August 11, we went to visit the Latin Convent of the Capuchins, of which Father Tommaso was an inmate. In the chapel is a tomb with an inscription to the following effect:—
"Qui reposano le ossa de Pre. Tommaso da Sardegna Missionano Cappuccino assassinato dagli Ebrei il giorno 5 di Febrajo 1840."
I will not be exactly certain whether the above is a literal copy of the inscription, having written it down from memory after my return home, but I can confidently state that it is substantially correct, especially in so far as concerns the use of the obnoxious word "assassinato."
By this it will be seen that these enlightened Capuchins, following the example of popular credulity, assume the murder of their colleague as a fact before it has been proved judicially.
On the same day, in company with Mr and Mrs Schlientz, we repeated our visit to the Jewish quarter, and afterwards, having obtained permission from Sheriff Pasha through the British Consul, Mr Werry, went to the Seraglio to see the Jewish prisoners.
Sixteen individuals were implicated in the charge of murder; of these, two had died under torture, four had absconded. One, Mr Picchioto, being, fortunately for himself, an Austrian subject, was under the protection of the Imperial Consulate, the remaining nine were then in prison, and also a venerable Rabbi.
We were accompanied on our visit by the British Consul's dragoman and a writer in the service of the Pasha. The rooms in which the prisoners were confined were in the second floor of a large exterior building attached to the Pasha's palace, principally used as a barrack.
The apartment opened into a covered corridor or gallery running round the whole length of the building. None of the doors were closed, but sentries were planted at intervals along the gallery. The prisoners were almost all of them elderly men, and seemed very unhappy. Mr Schlientz, who is both an Arabic and a Hebrew scholar, spoke to several of them on the subject of religion, pointing out to them, in their affliction, the consolations of Scriptures, which appeared greatly to excite the mirth of our attendants and other bystanders.
The prisoners confined here were either six or seven in number, the remainder, amongst whom was the Rabbi, were in custody in another part of the Seraglio, in apartments on the ground floor.
The chambers in which the prisoners were lodged were tolerably comfortable, and spacious enough to afford them the means of taking partial exercise. An obvious desire existed on the part of our attendants to represent matters in the most favourable light, and to convince us that the prisoners, in their confinement, were treated with the greatest leniency.
I have been particular, at the risk of being thought tedious, in giving a circumstantial detail of our various visits, as it will impress upon this statement the stamp of authenticity, and at least serve to show that we were anxious by all the means in our power to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
In the course of these visits we had a great deal of conversation with the families and friends of the accused, persons who, far from appearing desirous of concealing anything, seemed on the contrary anxious to have everything fairly enquired into, and submitted to the most ample investigation. We saw several people who had been subjected to torture, amongst whom was one woman, a female servant of David Arari; we saw their wounds yet unhealed, and heard from their own lips the description of the sufferings they had endured. The tortures to which they had been subjected were of the most cruel and disgraceful nature, and some of them even too disgusting to be mentioned with propriety. We also had, during our stay at Damascus, many opportunities of discussing the question with various people with various shades of opinion, and of canvassing the evidence adduced in support of the charges.
My own opinion, in which I may, I believe, also safely state my fellow-travellers fully concur, is that the Jews of Damascus are NOT GUILTY of the atrocious charges which have been preferred against them.
My grounds for this opinion are simply this, that there is no admissible evidence to support the charge.
I at once reject in limine, as repulsive to every principle of reason and equity, and as unworthy to be considered as legal evidence, all the admissions and confessions of the witnesses and accused persons which were extorted by torture or the fear of torture, however plausible they may seem, or however compatible with one another they may appear, particularly when I find them at variance with conflicting testimony on the one hand, and inconsistent with the general probabilities on the other.
Any absurdities, as the annals of witchcraft fully show, might be proved by the agency of torture. It was through fear of the application of this beauteous engine for the elucidation of the truth, that the Inquisition extorted from Galileo the admission that the doctrine of the earth's motion was heretical; yet, notwithstanding this confession, as that illustrious man observed on rising from his knees, "e pur si muove." So also might the unhappy Jews of Damascus, whilst yielding to bodily suffering and confessing their guilt, exclaim the moment afterwards, "but yet we are innocent."
The whole of the pretended evidence against the prisoners was obtained either by torture or fear of torture, and the alleged agreement between the statements of the different witnesses, on which great stress has been laid, may easily be accounted for when it is considered how impossible it would be for people writhing under agonies of intense bodily suffering to give their evidence in a clear and connected manner, and how absolutely necessary it would be to extract their confession from them word by word, affirmatively or negatively—yes or no—through the agency of leading questions.
On the other hand, the only two witnesses who appeared in favour of the Jews were conveniently disposed of by being bastinadoed to death. These were a young man, who deposed to having spoken to Tommaso and his servant on the evening of the alleged murder as they were proceeding from the Jewish quarter, and the porter of the gate near the house of David Arari, who stated that he had heard or seen nothing of the priest's remains being thrown into the sewer.
The evidence was awkward, and not at all suited to the wishes of the prosecutors; and it proved fatal to the witnesses who gave it.
But, exclaim those who argue in favour of the guilt of the Jews, even although there is not sufficient legal evidence to convict them of the crimes laid to their charge, surely you must admit that, morally speaking, there can be no doubt that they are actually guilty. Far from it. Every reasonable consideration appears to my mind to throw discredit on the statements of their accusers, while the whole of the evidence teems with obvious and palpable improbabilities.
For instance, to say nothing of the absence of any rational assignable motive which could induce frontier merchants—men of rank and influence among their own people—men of wealth and consideration among their neighbours—with everything to lose and nothing to gain, to conspire together to commit two such atrocious murders, is it likely for one moment, even if they did so, that they should be so utterly devoid of all common prudence, and so grossly infatuated, as to place themselves in the power of two such inferior persons as a barber and a servant as accomplices?
And again, even on the hypothesis that they had been actuated by some such fanatical motive as has been imputed to them, is it at all probable that they would have selected for their victim an individual so certain to be missed as the Father Tommaso? From his long residence at Damascus, and the nature of his calling, his absence was sure to be noticed. Why not have selected for their victim some more obscure individual, on whom their barbarous fanaticism might have exercised their impious rites with impunity? Bah! why waste time by pursuing the ridiculous absurdities of these suppositions any further?
Then, again, all the accusers, with Halil Said Naivi at their head, were persons of low degree and disreputable character, whose testimony on any ordinary occasion would have been received with extreme caution; while the recollection of the pillaging and extortions to which the Jewish families have been subjected, affords a clue to the motives which have instigated the persecutors.
Considerable importance has been attached to the finding of the bones, but it should be remembered that they were not discovered till twenty-five days after the disappearance of Father Tomasso; that the sewer where the bones were found was the common receptacle of all the filth and offal of the neighbourhood, and that considerable difference of opinion existed among the medical men by whom they were examined as to the fact of their being human bones at all; while there are strong grounds for believing in the existence of the most fraudulent collusion with reference to their discovery.
In conclusion, to the reiteration of my already expressed opinion, I can merely add that I conceive the whole charge to be a base and odious calumny, unsupported by any credible testimony; a mere renewal of those disgusting persecutions which disgraced the annals of the dark ages, and one which would not for one moment be tolerated in the present day among a civilised and enlightened people.
It is much to be regretted that the disturbed condition of the East at the period of your Mission to Alexandria prevented Mohhammad Ali from ordering a full and fair judicial enquiry into the whole of the proceedings of the Damascus affair, as there is no doubt that the enemies of the Jews will not be slow to represent the edict which Mohhammad Ali has accorded to your requests, as granted more through pressure of external political embarrassments than freely given as a mere matter of justice and righteous dealing; more as a political compromise of a difficult and troublesome question than as the solemn act of the Government of the country, vindicating the Jews from the aspersions which had been foully cast upon them, and branding with the stamp of official disapprobation those who had dared to utter them.
You have, however, done all that circumstances permitted you to accomplish. In the present excited condition of these countries, your attempting to reach Damascus would be highly dangerous, if not altogether impracticable; and even if you got there, I do not see how you could accomplish any good while the Government is yet unsettled, and in the absence of any constituted authority to aid your efforts with the influence of the British Government.
"Magna est veritas et praevalebit." Go on and prosper in your righteous endeavours to protect the cause of innocence and truth. Let us hope for better times, when the advancing tide of knowledge and civilisation will sweep away the last remains of ignorance and fanaticism, and the vindictive spirit of persecution flee at the scowl of the genius of truth.
Trusting you will excuse my having so long trespassed on your attention, I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant,
Charles F. A. Shadwell.
The evidence of two such witnesses, given in an English Court of Justice, would surely have been considered decisive.
AFFAIRS IN THE EAST—ULTIMATUM FROM THE POWERS—GLOOMY PROSPECTS OF THE MISSION—NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE PASHA—EXCITEMENT IN ALEXANDRIA—ILLNESS OF LADY MONTEFIORE.
Tuesday, August 11th.—We called on Colonel Hodges, who informed us of the arrival of a Turkish steamer from Constantinople. He said it must have brought the Ultimatum of the four great Powers to the Pasha; that the door of negotiation was now not only shut, but locked, and the Pasha must give an immediate answer. Colonel Hodges advised Sir Moses to act in the same way as he should do; if he (Colonel Hodges) left Alexandria, Sir Moses should do the same, and also go to the same place as he did. He said he expected every hour some ships belonging to the English fleet, but did not wish Sir Moses to mention this fact. Sir Moses said this interview and conversation reminded him forcibly of those he had had in 1827 with the late Mr Salt, English Consul General in Cairo, but he felt even less uneasy than he did at that time, as he did not apprehend war, though things looked serious.
Wednesday, August 12th.—A French war steamer arrived from Toulon, and returned the same afternoon to Smyrna; the reports were all very black. We called on Colonel Hodges, but seeing he was occupied on important business, we left him.
Mr Thorburn called, and told us that Mr Larkin had summoned a meeting of all the British residents at his house at one o'clock, to inform them that the four great Powers had sent their Ultimatum to Mohhammad Ali. Colonel Hodges warned them to limit their credits as much as possible, and to prepare for the worst. The meeting occasioned much alarm.
In the afternoon Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore, with their friends, visited the Turkish line of battleship Mahmudie, under Colonel Reale Bey, who received them most politely, and showed them over his ship. On their return they found that one of their party had been taken ill.
August 13th.—Mr and Mrs Tibaldi called, and Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore accompanied them to a small palace near the Pasha's, where they were introduced to Sa'eed Bey, Mohhammad Ali's son, a very chatty and good-tempered young man about eighteen years of age. He understood English and spoke French well. He conversed about his studies, his horses, &c., and had his favourite grey led under the window where the party were assembled. Mr Thurburn was present. They afterwards went over the Pasha's palace, were much pleased with the building, and admired the elegance with which it was furnished. In the evening Monsieur and Madame Laurin, Monsieur and Madame Cremieux, Captain Lyons, Captain Austin, and Mr Thurburn dined with us. They told Sir Moses that the Count de Walewski, a natural son of Napoleon, had arrived from France, and it was confidently stated that he brought offers of men, money, and ships from the King of the French to the Pasha. The news was credited in the town, and it was therefore supposed that the Pasha would not accept the Ultimatum of the Powers, and a general war in Europe as well as in the East would be the consequence. Sir Moses did not believe that this would be the case, but thought the affair would be arranged satisfactorily. The Pasha had ten days to consider his answer, and by that time Sir Moses hoped to be at Damascus.
August 14th.—Sir Moses called on Colonel Hodges, who gave him Mr Werry's reply to the enquiries respecting the unfortunate Jews at Damascus; the Colonel also showed him a letter from Beyrout, dated the 8th inst., from which it appeared that the insurrection in Syria had not been entirely put down; and he advised Sir Moses not to venture just then to Damascus, as our situation there might be very perilous, in the event of the Pasha's not agreeing to the Ultimatum of the Powers.
In the evening we attended the European Synagogue, which was beautifully illuminated, while the floor was thickly strewn with flowers. The building was crowded, and the utmost decorum prevailed during the service. Subsequently the representatives of the community were invited to join our dinner party, on which occasion many excellent speeches, in various Oriental and European languages, were made, referring principally to the object of our Mission.
August 15th.—We selected the Synagogue of the natives for attending divine service on this day. The heat there was very great and oppressive, but the devotion of the congregation and the mode of chanting the prayers afforded us much satisfaction.
Between two and three Sir Moses called on Colonel Hodges to express his extreme regret that Mr Werry had done so little towards improving the condition of the unhappy men at Damascus, and to request him to write to the Consul, which the Colonel promised to do. The Sabbath did not prevent Sir Moses from attending to the object of his Mission, as in a case like this, where life and death are at stake, exertion and work are considered permissible. Colonel Hodges said that the Pasha would give us no answer till the political question was settled. Monsieur de Wagner, the Prussian Consul-General, was present and confirmed this. Both advised Sir Moses not to venture on a journey to Damascus while affairs were in such a serious state. Syria was in open rebellion, and in Damascus he would only be looked upon as a Jew coming to screen the guilt of his brethren, while the fanaticism of the Christian populace of that place was so great, that he would certainly be murdered. Both Colonel Hodges and the Prussian Consul said that the Pasha would refuse the Ultimatum, and war was inevitable.
Sir Moses returned home, very unhappy on account of the nine unfortunate prisoners at Damascus, but determined to do everything in his power, and to go to the Palace after Sabbath.
At seven he proceeded to the Pasha's residence, accompanied by Monsieur Cremieux and the members of the Mission. His Highness received us kindly, but said he was so much engaged with affairs of high importance, that he could not give us an answer then. Sir Moses urged him strongly, in the cause of humanity, to give his decision, as there were nine prisoners; he replied that he had given orders for their being well treated, and he would send a letter to Sir Moses next day to the same effect. Sir Moses then asked pardon for the trouble he had given him, but the Pasha said, on the contrary he ought rather to apologise to Sir Moses. Mr S. Briggs, who was present at the audience, very frequently added kind words, which appeared to influence the Pasha. We took leave much dispirited; but scarcely had we returned to our hotel, when Mr Briggs came, and informed Sir Moses that the Pasha had given him more than half a promise that he would liberate all the prisoners, declaring at the same time his entire belief in their innocence of the murder, and of the other charges made against them.
August 16th.—Having prepared with great care the document proposed by Mr Briggs for the approval and signature of the Pasha, Sir Moses took it to Mr Briggs. The petition had been drawn up in strict accordance with what Mr Briggs said His Highness would agree to. On his return he sent for Monsieur Cremieux, so that his signature might also be attached to it. Mr and Mrs Briggs then called, and Sir Moses gave them the document for the Pasha.
In the evening Mr Briggs called again, and informed us that he had seen the Pasha, to whom the paper had been explained, but he had declined to grant the request it contained, saying that there was so much excitement on the subject that he could not determine; he appeared, however, willing to allow the prisoners their freedom, and so end the matter. Mr Briggs had afterwards spoken with the Secretary, who took the paper, said he would alter it, and show it him the next day. "The fact is," said Sir Moses, "they wish the atrocious transaction to be hushed up, but I will never consent to that."
In the morning we went to the Austrian Consul to obtain from him the names of all the prisoners, as well as a list of those who had already fallen victims to the outrageous tyranny of Sheriff Pasha and of the French Consul Rattimenton. Monsieur Laurin informed us that the four ambassadors had arrived from Constantinople with the Ultimatum, and would visit the Pasha.
Monday, August 17th.—Sir Moses called on Mr Briggs, and gave him copies of several Bulls of the Pope, with some letters and Smyrna papers; also a list of merchants at Damascus, with their supposed amount of capital. Mr Briggs promised he would see the Pasha in the evening, but his manner of speaking was much less sanguine of success.
On the same day Dr Madden and Mr Wire left us for a trip to Cairo and the Pyramids. Sir Moses writes: "I would gladly have accompanied them with my dear wife and Dr Loewe, as I am sure it would have been most beneficial to our health, but it did not appear to me right to leave my post, even for an hour."
August 18th.—Mr Briggs went in the morning to the Pasha. Colonel Hodges informed Sir Moses (confidentially) that three of his Highness' transport ships, with provisions and arms, had left the harbour for Syria, and that he (Colonel Hodges) had sent the Gorgon to bring them back. They were not to be allowed to land on the coast; if they refused they were to be compelled to return, and if force was used they were to be sent to Malta. When this was accomplished, notice would be given to the Pasha that none of his war-ships would be allowed to leave the harbour. Nothing could be more warlike than the momentary aspect of affairs. The Pasha sent Mr Briggs and one of his Secretaries to Sir Moses with a copy of a despatch he had received from Sheriff Pasha, of Damascus, giving an account of the manner in which prisoners were treated by him. Of course it was stated to be most lenient, and it was denied that tortures had been used. Monsieur Cochelet made the following proposal to Monsieur Cremieux for the solution of the Damascus difficulty:—
That the Pasha was to declare that the Jews who had died had committed the murder from motives of private vengeance, but that the nine Jews still in prison were innocent, and were to be set at liberty. The Pasha would also publish his opinion that there was nothing in the Jewish religion or writings that in any way sanctioned the shedding of blood for the Passover.
Sir Moses told Monsieur Cremieux that it was impossible for him to consent to such an arrangement. He never would allow that any Jew committed the murder of Father Tommaso and his servant, either from vengeance or any other motive; were he base enough to admit such a thing, its effect would be most mischievous, for in every part of the world it would be said that the Jews were guilty, and the same awful charges would be brought against them over and over again.
This proposal of Monsieur Cochelet caused a most painful sensation in the heart of every member of the Mission; but, from a man whose official position compelled him to justify the proceedings of Rattimenton, a different suggestion could scarcely have been anticipated.
August 19th.—All this anxiety preyed so much on the minds of Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore that their health was greatly affected by it, and Lady Montefiore became so ill that the immediate attendance of a physician was required. The weather, also, was extremely close and oppressive, which greatly aggravated the discomfort of both. Monsieur Cremieux called, and brought the news that the British fleet, with Albanian troops which they intended landing, was off Beyrout. He requested Sir Moses not to go to the Pasha, as Monsieur Cochelet did not deem it prudent; but Sir Moses did not feel justified in making a promise to that effect, and explained to Monsieur Cremieux, as his reason, that it would not be advisable to adopt any suggestion made to the latter by Monsieur Cochelet.
The town had been in a state of great consternation all day, and most warlike reports were spreading everywhere. Nevertheless Sir Moses would not agree to the proposal which had been made by Monsieur Cochelet.
August 20th.—Lady Montefiore felt somewhat better, and the doctor entertained hopes of her speedy recovery. Early in the morning Sir Moses called on Colonel Hodges, and remained with him fully two hours. Captains Napier and Walker were off the coast of Syria with six thousand Albanians, and had summoned Beyrout. A serious occurrence took place in the forenoon, which added greatly to the already troubled state of the town. The Dutch Vice-Consul, whose horse had accidentally kicked one of the National Guards, was immediately set upon by the mob and grossly ill-treated. It was with great difficulty that some of the officers rescued him from being murdered.
Two large Austrian frigates anchored near the Bellerophon, and the Cyclops took soundings outside the harbour.
Mr Briggs called to inform Sir Moses that he was going to England in three days. He brought a paper which he had drawn up, similar to that which Sir Moses had given him for the Pasha's signature, but not couched in such strong terms. He wished Sir Moses to see it, and he would then take it to the Pasha, and endeavour to procure his consent to it. Sir Moses sent for Monsieur Cremieux to approve it, and then returned it to Mr Briggs, who promised to speak to the Pasha either the same evening or the next evening.
August 21st.—Lady Montefiore continued poorly, and Dr Laidlow advised our removing to the Nile. Sir Moses was also unwell, and the uncertain state of politics did not afford any consolation; every person we saw had alarm depicted on his countenance. Monsieur Cremieux spoke of leaving on the following Tuesday for Athens or Constantinople in the French steamer. Sir Moses wrote to Mr Wire and Doctor Madden, begging them to hasten their return. Mr Briggs called to say that he feared the Pasha would do nothing against the wishes of Monsieur Cochelet. Mr Galloway and Mr Tibaldi also paid us a visit, both much out of spirits. Sir Moses said he would not move till Dr Madden and Mr Wire returned, unless Colonel Hodges left, in which case he almost feared he would be compelled to do so. The weather was dreadfully oppressive; the sickly season had commenced, and fever was prevalent.
We attended divine service in the evening, and afterwards Monsieur and Madame Cremieux dined with us. Monsieur Cremieux told Sir Moses that Clot Bey had introduced him to the Pasha in the garden, and that he (Monsieur Cremieux) had made a speech to the Pasha, wishing him success with Egypt and Syria, but had not referred to the Mission.
Saturday, August 22nd.—Lady Montefiore continued ill, and too weak to leave the house. At seven o'clock in the morning we repaired to the Synagogue where we attended service. A large and devout congregation was assembled. On our return Mr Larkins, the English Consul, called. He had just left the Pasha, with whom he had been conversing for more than an hour on the subject of our Mission. He had read to His Highness the letters he had received from England from Colonel Campbell, Mr Thurburn, and Dr Bowring, all entreating him, in his own interest, to grant our request, that he might stand well in the opinion of Europe. They also assured him that the affair had caused a great sensation in England; but Mr Larkins said that the Pasha remained firm, and declared it was impossible for him to do anything in the business just then. Mr Briggs also spoke to the Pasha, but without success. He gave the papers we had prepared for the Pasha's signature to Khosrev, the principal interpreter at the Palace, so that he should be fully acquainted with the contents. Mr Larkins told the Pasha that Sir Moses intended coming for his answer in the evening. In reply to his application for a simple "firman" to go to Damascus, the Pasha said that Syria was in too disturbed a state to permit of his travelling there with security.
In the evening, after the conclusion of Sabbath, as we were setting out for the Palace, Sir Moses received a note from Mr Briggs, enclosing one from Khosrev, requesting Sir Moses to defer the visit to His Highness, as it was a most unfavourable moment.
Affairs appeared decidedly alarming, and the English fleet was expected every moment with Admiral Stopford. Captain Austen of the Bellerophon and Captain Austen of the Cyclops both called on Sir Moses, and most kindly offered to receive us on board their ships in the event of our being obliged to leave Alexandria for safety. The Pasha was making great preparations for war, including new batteries and arrangements for the better armament of the fleet. It was rumoured that he intended leaving Alexandria in a few days.
August 23rd.—Lady Montefiore passed a very bad night, and her illness caused Sir Moses much anxiety. The doctor came twice during the day. In the evening he found her less feverish, and reported more favourably upon her state of health generally. He advised her to change her bedroom, which appeared damp, and might have caused the fever.
Madame Cremieux came to tell us that she intended spending the day in the country, and talked of visiting Cairo as soon as the French boat arrived. Colonel Hodges, Mr Bell, Mr and Mrs Briggs, and Mr Stephens also called. The latter informed us that it was generally believed that the Pasha had agreed to leave the settlement of the whole question to the King of the French. It was also stated that Monsieur Guizot was to have an audience with His Majesty on the 12th inst., and the result would be known in Alexandria on the following Tuesday. It was thought that the troops in Syria would probably be influenced by the Sultan's money, as they had not received any pay for the last eleven months. The English Admiral with the fleet was expected to arrive on the following day.
Monsieur Cremieux called, and we agreed to send a letter to the Pasha, soliciting him to set at liberty the unfortunate Jews at Damascus. Monsieur Laurin, the Austrian Consul, promised to call upon all the other Consuls, and, if possible, prevail on them to sign a recommendation to the Pasha to grant our request. Sir Moses did not think he would succeed with Monsieur Cochelet or the Sardinian Consul. Mr Briggs announced his intention of going to the former with the original document that we prepared for the Pasha, and of using his influence to remove Monsieur Cochelet's hostility.
August 24th.—Dr Laidlaw found Lady Montefiore rather better and tolerably free from fever.
THE ENGLISH GOVERNMENT AND THE PASHA—MOHHAMMAD ALI AND THE SLAVES—THE PASHA PROMISES TO RELEASE THE DAMASCUS PRISONERS—HE GRANTS THEM AN "HONOURABLE" LIBERATION.
The French steamer from Marseilles arrived; our letters from London gave confident hopes of peace being preserved. The Ministry was stronger than ever, being supported by both Whigs and Tories. There would be no half measures, and the Pasha would be obliged to submit. Baron Charles de Rothschild wrote from Naples, that Lord Palmerston had made a pacific speech on the 7th, and amicable relations would be preserved with France. Baron Charles enclosed a letter of introduction to the Neapolitan Consul for Sir Moses.
We immediately went there to present the same, and had a very long conversation with him. He knew all about the Damascus affair, and the painful reports of Sheriff Pasha. He told us that the latter was an adopted son of Mohhammad Ali, who had had him educated with his own children. Sheriff Pasha's own father had been an officer, and was killed in battle when he (Sheriff) was only four months old. The Consul observed that the trial of the Jews had been conducted according to Turkish law, and any interference would be improper. He had sent all the accounts to his Government. He considered the business had been badly managed by the Consuls, but he could not sign any paper, as it would do no good with the Pasha.
On the same day we received a letter from Constantinople, enclosing a firman from the Sublime Porte in favour of the deputation of the Jews; from the Grand Vizier to Mohhammad Ali, and to the Governor of the Island of Rhodes.
We called on Colonel Hodges and Monsieur Laurin, who had both signed the petition which Sir Moses and Monsieur Cremieux had prepared on the preceding evening. The Consuls of the four Powers signed it very readily, but Monsieur de Wagner called on Sir Moses and recommended his not presenting it to the Pasha, as it would do no good unless signed by Monsieur Cochelet. It is impossible to describe the distress of Sir Moses as he became more and more convinced that, with a few exceptions, every one in the place, great and small, was opposed to the object of his Mission. Dr Madden and Mr Wire returned from Cairo, and Admiral Stopford arrived with part of the fleet. Sir Moses thought we should be obliged to leave very shortly.
August 25th.—Lady Montefiore continued to mend, but was not sufficiently recovered to venture out. Sir Moses went at an early hour to Monsieur Cremieux, and requested him not to part with the petition bearing both their signatures. The rest of the day we were engaged in preparing letters and reports for the London Committee. Mr Charles Allison called and reported that the aspect of affairs was less warlike, but there appeared no doubt of the Pasha's refusal. We were only to have a military blockade of the Port and the Coast of Syria, and all merchants would be allowed to pass freely. This sort of blockade would cause but little annoyance, and the Pasha would no doubt laugh at the English and their allies. At eight o'clock the following morning the Consuls of the four Powers were to wait on Mohhammad Ali for his answer.
August 26th.—Lady Montefiore was much better and able to leave her room. While we were at breakfast, Mr Briggs called and took leave of us. He expressed great regret that his endeavours with the Pasha on behalf of the Damascus prisoners had failed. Afterwards Sir Moses visited the slave-market, accompanied by Dr Madden, as he was desirous of learning how far the present state of the market corresponded to the humane act of the Pasha in abolishing slavery. During the first interview which Sir Moses had had with Mohhammad Ali, the latter had spoken for a considerable time on the subject, and appeared much pleased with the address of thanks presented to him by Dr Madden from the London Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. The conversation led Sir Moses to hope that a heart which could be thus moved by humane sentiments, would surely not sanction such tortures and sufferings as the Damascus prisoners had been made to endure.
At the slave-market, Sir Moses found about one hundred slaves, mostly girls and boys; he noticed a few women among them, but no men. The price of the girls was 1000 piastres (L10), and of the boys, 600 or L6. There were two Albanian women for whom they asked 1500 or 2000 piastres (L15 to L20). The girls appeared to be well treated and contented with their situation, but not so the boys. He observed two boys weeping most bitterly, and on enquiring the cause, he heard that the children had been brought from Nubia together, that they were most likely brothers, much attached to each other, and one had just been sold. He spoke to the man who had purchased the youth, and he said he had paid 600 piastres. The master took the lad away, and in all probability the boys never saw each other again.
"Oh! the horrors of slavery!" exclaimed Sir Moses, and added, "Perhaps Mohhammad Ali may not be aware of what we have seen, else he could not conscientiously have spoken as he did, and evinced such pleasure in the vote of thanks which the London Society would certainly not have sent had they known the true state of affairs."
Sir Moses returned home much depressed by what he had witnessed.
There was nothing new in politics, but two English men-of-war had left for the East.
August 28th.—About nine o'clock in the morning Sir Moses received a letter from Monsieur Cremieux, informing him that he had started for Cairo. Sir Moses, who felt himself in duty bound not to quit his post for fear of injuring his cause, determined, notwithstanding the disheartening state of politics, to go to the Pasha and ask for an answer to the petition that he had presented on the day after his arrival.
At two o'clock we went to the Palace. We were shown into the audience hall, and a beautiful pipe was handed to Sir Moses. About twenty minutes afterwards we heard that the Pasha was leaving his room for the hall of audience. On Sir Moses going to the door, the Pasha smiled and beckoned him to follow him. Sir Moses did so, and the Pasha motioned him to be seated. Sir Moses then informed His Highness that he came for an answer to the paper which he had presented at his first interview. Mohhammad Ali replied that he would release all the prisoners, upon which, Sir Moses said his desire was to have the guilty punished, and requested therefore a "firman" to go to Damascus. The Pasha said he had better not go there, as that place was in a very excited condition; the country was disturbed and politics unsettled. Sir Moses agreed to postpone his journey for a short time, but begged for the firman, that he might proceed there as soon as things changed, and the Pasha then promised to give it him. Sir Moses further petitioned for permission for the Jews who had fled to return to Damascus, and the Pasha granted his request. Finally Sir Moses requested Mohhammad Ali to give him a copy of his letter to the Governor of Damascus. His Highness promised to send it to him with the firman, and desired him to write to his co-religionists at Damascus, and he (the Pasha) would send the letter by his post, by which means they would receive it in five days.