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A pioneering philosemite: Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna (1790-1846) and the Jews

Hilary Rubinstein

<plain_text><page sequence="1">A pioneering philosemite: Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna (1790-1846) and the Jews* HILARY L. RUBINSTEIN It is perhaps fitting that a lecture named in honour of a noted Jewish female writer should have as its subject on this occasion a noted non-Jewish female writer. Both started their literary careers as authors of instructive material in their respective creeds. Both were keen students of Hebrew. Their lives over? lapped, albeit very briefly: Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna died when Katie Lady Magnus was a toddler. Lady Magnus (i 844-1924) was the daughter of Emanuel Emanuel, the first Jewish Mayor of Portsmouth (1866-7). Until the Municipal Offices Act (1845) the presence of Jews on town councils was technically illegal, because municipal office-holders were obliged to swear on the 'true faith of a Christian'. But Ports? mouth's Corporation, in common with the civic authorities of Southampton and Birmingham, had for several years turned a blind eye to that requirement so that Jews could participate. Emanuel Emanuel was a well-respected manufacturing jeweller - he would eventually make the Corporation a new set of regalia - and a popular 'councilman'. In 1843 he unexpectedly lost his seat on the Council, despite the uncanvassed votes of the town's elite, because too many supporters had been deterred by a sudden rumour that he faced a ?50 fine for every council decision in which he was involved. The following year, in which his daughter Katie was born, he was decisively returned in a hard-fought though good natured campaign. When he heard local church bells pealing in jubilation at his victory he was astounded, the more so because his Anglican opponent was an active churchworker. 'This is conclusive proof, Emanuel wrote, 'that all those religious prejudices are gone, and men are now judged by their conduct'.1 The goodwill displayed reflected the spirit of the age - an increasingly enlightened spirit in which the campaign for Jewish parliamentary emancipation was gaining ground. Even some of the most redoubtable religiously-minded champions of Parliament as an exclusively Christian assembly were softening. Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna, who had believed that the presence of Jewish legis? lators would be 'to abandon altogether our distinctive character as a Christian nation' was among them.2 But her new-found attitude did not arise from liberal? ism and it surpassed tolerance. It arose from a deep, spiritual conviction and a * Paper presented to the Society on 9 July 1998. 103</page><page sequence="2">Hilary L. Rubinstein profound admiration for Jews which made her into a most remarkable philosem ite, in many respects ahead of her time. Mrs Tonna was an influential British author and editor. Like Lord Shaftes bury, a personal acquaintance, she was a Tory radical and an Evangelical. She was, indeed, one of the most prominent Evangelical crusaders of her time, well known to and well respected by leading clergymen, yet neglected in this respect by historians, probably on account of her gender. As a novelist she is believed to have influenced her younger and better-remembered contemporary, Mrs Eliz? abeth Gaskell. While her moralistic style fell out of favour by the end of the nineteenth century, she has never been entirely forgotten by scholars of literat? ure, especially with regard to her several novels describing the evils of factory life. These were considered by another contemporary, Harriet Beecher Stowe, to be as effective as anything written by Dickens, and possibly better.3 Mrs Tonna's literary output was prodigious and varied, comprising a range of themes and literary forms: fiction and non-fiction, prose and verse, books, pamphlets and articles on topics secular and religious. With the growth of modern femin? ism, her works have been discovered by fresh generations of scholars (ironically, since she professed to believe in the biblical notion of male supremacy). Very little attention, however, has been paid to her achievements as a religious writer,4 and virtually none to her attitude to Jews and Judaism, so that her pioneering philosemitism, acknowledged in her day, lies unacknowledged in ours. Charlotte Elizabeth Browne was born in Norwich in 1790, the daughter of a senior Anglican clergyman who encouraged her intellectual pursuits and from whom, presumably, she obtained the thorough grounding in Hebrew that was to prove so crucial to her concept of Jews. By the age of ten she was totally deaf, and she relied for the rest of her life on sign language. An early marriage with an Irish army captain who ill-treated her ended in separation in 1824. She then, while still in Ireland, turned to writing for a living, using only her fore? names, and became known to contemporary readers as 'Charlotte Elizabeth'. Being deaf, she had always depended particularly on reading for information, and during her unhappy and childless marriage it became her solace. A chance encounter made her a devourer of Protestant tracts and other Evangelical, anti Roman Catholic material and she began to read the Bible assiduously. She decided that it was her mission to separate the Irish peasantry from what she considered a false and loathsome faith that kept them priest-ridden, superstitious and ignorant. Her first literary venture was for the Dublin Tract Society. Suc? cess came her way as a writer of edifying pieties, and poems she penned for the Ulster Protestants have been described as 'quite the best Orange songs that have been written'.5 Moving to England in the 1830s, she consolidated her reputation as an Evan? gelical commentator and made her name as a novelist of social protest. Her 104</page><page sequence="3">A pioneering philosemite: Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna estranged husband died in 1837, and in 1841, at the age of fifty, she married the twenty-eight-year-old Lewis Tonna (1812-57), a man of broad intellectual pursuits. He became Secretary of the United Service Institution in Whitehall (which developed into the present-day Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies). Despite a paternal family background in the Spanish Mediter? ranean he was a militant Protestant with a fierce antipathy towards Roman Cath? olicism that matched his wife's. He wrote several treatises on religion and came to share her high regard for Jews.6 During this marriage Mrs Tonna produced much of her most notable work, including The Perils of the Nation, a powerful indictment of the plight of the urban poor. Commissioned by the Church Influence Society as an appeal to policy-makers, it was issued anonymously since its author's gender was consid? ered a liability. It made a tremendous impact: Jacob Franklin, the prominent English Jew with whom Mrs Tonna became firm friends, insisted that the book 'has done almost as much service to the cause of the suffering poor as Lord Ashley's [Shaftesbury's] own speeches', and much key social legislation was dir? ectly attributed to it.7 The 1840s saw Mrs Tonna assume the editorship of no less than three Evan? gelical periodicals. From 1839 to 1844 she edited, in an anonymous capacity, the Protestant Magazine, organ of the Protestant Association, established in 1836 by eminent laymen and clerics to lobby for legislation based on Scripture. In the Watchman she indulged her hatred of Roman Catholicism and High Church Anglicanism. She made the Christian Lady's Magazine (associate editor, 1834 6; editor, 1836-46) probably the highest-circulating of all Evangelical periodicals of the day.8 This periodical - read by men as well as women - became the main vehicle for her noteworthily sympathetic opinions relating to Jews, their religion, their status and their future. Mrs Tonna's interest in Jews began in inauspicious fashion. During a child? hood phase she became strangely fixated on Shakespeare's Shylock and as an adult she started down that all-too-familiar conversionist path, since, as one of her early poems advises, in rejecting Jesus 'Israel stands accurs'd before the God of Heav'n!' As she wrote elsewhere, she was filled with compassion for these 'outcasts'. When she proposed that an organization be set up to bring Jewish individuals into the Christian fold, to her 'surprise and delight' she discovered that the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews had been in existence since 1809 (an exclusively Anglican venture since 1815). In promptly joining the inaptly-dubbed 'London Jews' Society' she found herself among its numerous Evangelical supporters (notably Shaftesbury, who would serve as its President, 1848-85). She became a dedicated activist and was each year assigned a prominent place on the platform of Exeter Hall, Strand, the venue for the Society's annual meetings at which office-bearers reported on its funds, its plans 105</page><page sequence="4">Hilary L. Rubinstein and what were in truth its meagre achievements. For, despite its strenuous efforts and lavish expenditure, it was spectacularly unsuccessful in luring Jews from Judaism.10 A conspicuous triumph for the Society related to the Prussian-born apostate Michael Solomon Alexander, a rabbi-turned-Anglican clergyman who took an energetic interest in its affairs. Mrs Tonna counted him as 'her honoured friend' and was among the 'highly privileged and favoured few' who witnessed his ordination at Lambeth Palace in 1841 as bishop of the brand-new See of Jerusa? lem. Emotion engulfed her: 'I breathed as if till that moment I had lived in chains'. The next day she was one of a select group of invitees, who included Shaftesbury, at a dinner hosted by the Bishop of London to celebrate the event.11 Shaftesbury, who had been instrumental in procuring the bishopric's founda? tion, was of course a Millenarian, one who believed that in order for the Second Coming (and ensuing 1000-year reign) of Jesus to occur the Jews must convert and return to Zion. Mrs Tonna had become a Millenarian as a result of the British defeat of a Turkish fleet off Navarino in 1827: 'I plainly saw that Turkey must now lie helpless before the Russian .... I could not stifle a sensation of joy that a signal-gun had thus been fired for the ingathering of the scattered tribes.'12 Consequently she scrutinized the Bible for prophecy relating to the Jews' Restoration, and kept keen watch for the signs that pointed the way. The ordination of Bishop Alexander, born a Jew, was one such sign: 'Yes, before our eyes was the Lord about to turn again the captivity of Zion ... to betroth once more to himself in righteousness the repentant Judah . . .'.13 Like other Evangelicals, she believed in the literal and historical accuracy of all parts of the Bible and took it as her supreme authority. Scripture convinced her of 'the certainty of Israel's conversion . . . and restoration to their own land'.14 Her ideas were expounded in the Christian Lady 's Magazine and in a novel, Judah 's Lion (1843; serialized in the magazine, 1841-3). Franz Kobler, seemingly the only historian of Gentile Zionism to mention Mrs Tonna, wrote that the novel 'stamps [her] as the mouthpiece of the Restoration Movement'.15 Satisfying herself that human agency was 'in perfect accordance with the revealed word of God', she suggested that her female readers might aid the Restorationist cause by organizing an address commending it to Queen Victoria and by collecting money towards a fund paying the travel expenses of impover? ished Jews who wished to reach Palestine. Her devotion to the subject was symbolized by a brooch she habitually wore bearing an inscription from Psalm 137: Im eshkachekh Yerushalayim tishkach yemini ('If I forget thee O Jerusalem may my right hand wither').16 It was precisely her fluency in Hebrew which made Mrs Tonna stray from the predictable path of the conversionist. Her reading of the Bible in the original convinced her that Jews as a unique, distinctive, consecrated people were des? tined to endure, since the Abrahamic Covenant could not be revoked. 'Our 106</page><page sequence="5">A pioneering philosemite: Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna Hebrew friends protest against any effort "to merge them in the masses of the Gentiles." We are persuaded that even if they wished or attempted it, they could not be so merged. It is as impossible as that God should deny himself; as imposs? ible as that He should decline that which He has declared shall come to pass.'17 Accordingly, she issued a ringing challenge to the usual expectations regarding Jewish converts to Christianity. As things stood, 'all the great things' promised to a Jew as 'a son of Abraham' were snatched from him at baptism, leaving him with nothing to signify his membership of the Chosen People. This was unten? able, for the Bible made it clear that there were peculiar to Jews marks 'of very high national privilege', including Pesach and other festivals, which could not be discarded. 'Circumcision is ... a principal one of those things: the fringed garment [tallit] is another. By what authority does the baptized Jew withhold from his infant son the seal of the national covenant - that lease, or rather deed of gift, in virtue of which he claims his portion in the land of Judea?'18 Days before he left for Jerusalem she wrote to Bishop Alexander urging him, on attaining his diocese, to have his sons circumcised. 'Call you what we will my Lord, you are a Jew, a circumcised Jew', she observed in an open letter issued a year or two later. 'My dear Lord, bear with me, while I respectfully and affectionately put once more the query - why are not your sons also Jews? No reply was forthcoming.19 She was incensed by the reported behaviour of a speaker at a gathering of conversionists in Hertford. He produced tallit and tefillin and, it was said, mock? ingly gave a rough demonstration of how they were worn, exciting much mirth. A mezuzah was allegedly also ridiculed at this exhibit of what a leading clergy? man present (the prominent Millenarian, Revd Edward Bickersteth) called 'these specimens of Jewish superstition'. It was not for Gentiles to laugh at what the Jew 'rightly holds so sacred', protested Mrs Tonna. Those items were 'of such divine authority, that the Jew who laid them aside would be a rebel against God', who 'would keep his own peculiar nation to the end of time'.20 Since moving from Ireland and settling in Edmonton and finally Blackheath, she had become familiar with London's Jews in their principal surroundings. Among her Jewish acquaintances she numbered the poet, novelist and future historian of Anglo-Jewry, Grace Aguilar (1816-47) and Lydia Belisario (d. 1852), granddaughter of the scholar Isaac Mendes Belisario and cousin of the author Miriam Belisario (b. 1816); the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Asher I. Myers (1848-1902), was obviously relying on the memory of others when he described Lydia as Mrs Tonna's 'kindred spirit, good and gentle'.21 Since Mrs Tonna wanted Christians to 'meet our Jewish brethren on that firm, special ground, the inspired Word of Divine Truth', she published in the Christian Lady's Magazine a poem by Miss Aguilar (who was widely considered to be the Jewish community's earliest female ambassador). She described it as 'a noble specimen 107</page><page sequence="6">Hilary L. Rubinstein alike of Jewish feeling and of Jewish literature', and praised its author's 'own faith and hope in the God of Israel, as seen by her in the writings of Moses and the Prophets' and her efforts 'to raise ... the tone of religion among her own brethren'.22 This interaction with Jews kindled in Mrs Tonna a desire to attend a syn? agogue service, but a feeling that to do so would be tantamount to renouncing Christianity held her back. Eventually she overcame that inhibition and grew well acquainted with the liturgy and festivals at London synagogues large and small, old and new, and also visited the fledgling Reform congregation's premises off the Euston Road. She would sit in the ladies' gallery following the prayers without trouble, marvelling at the Aron Ha 'kodesh, and reflecting that Jews wear? ing prayer-shawls had bent over the Torah scroll 'long, long before' Rome was built and would surely do so long after that city's 'polluted grandeur' had turned to dust. In fact, she stifled a powerful urge to purchase a tallit for herself: 'they were', she explained in a presumably unintentional pun, 'holy unto Israel, and no Gentile had a right to put them on'.23 (Intriguingly, this avowed anti-feminist did not disqualify herself on grounds of gender!) 'Spiritually', she maintained, 'no Gentile can look down upon a Jew, unless from stilts of his own clumsy manufacturing'. Westminster Abbey was 'a toy of yesterday, compared with the newest, the smallest, of our Hebrew synagogues'. And yet 'the inside of a Synagogue is, to the generality of Christians, as little known as the inside of a Mosque. Even the most determined antiquity-hunters habitually pass it by . . . the most Bible-loving believers feel no inducement to explore its treasury of sweet and sad reminiscences - of budding hopes and ripening harvests . . . ,'24 Since Christians accordingly knew nothing of Judaism as a living faith, Mrs Tonna endeavoured to instruct readers of the Christian Lady's Magazine. The tribulations suffered by Jews must not, she stressed, be interpreted as God's vengeance on them. That assumption had given rise too often to justification of their persecution. God had not forsaken His ancient people. Persecution was the legacy of Popery. Jews and Protestants both tasted Rome's lash, and the latter group must 'throw a shield over' the former.25 She reproached Christians who misrepresented or disparaged Jewish beliefs or practices, regardless of who the culprits were or how unpopular her stand might make her. Thus she publicly remonstrated with the Religious Tract Soci? ety, an Evangelical body which had issued, in a series of cards, one headed 'Conversion of the Jews'. It bore an extremely offensive extract from a hymn, lines condemned by her as 'false impressions . . . unchristian epithets', relics of Popery still found in 'Romish Mass books'. She urged the Tract Society to withdraw the card, which it did. Further, she called on 'the compilers and pub? lishers of hymn-books to see that no future editions be disgraced by such epi? thets of scorn', adding: 'Would we might also call upon some competent author? ity to disconnect the name of Jew from that of Turk, Infidel, and Heretic in our 108</page><page sequence="7">A pioneering philosemite: Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna prayer-books!' (That suggestion, incidentally, was revived by a senior Anglican cleric in 1920.)26 Her ideas concerning the enduring Jewishness of converts found favour with Dr Joseph Wolff, a prominent apostate engaged in missionary work among Jews in the Near East. Some Gentile conversionists also proved receptive. She had encouraged an intolerable trend, grumbled a correspondent to a leading Anglican journal: her 'new-fangled notion is making rapid speed . . . and is likely to be acted upon by many of the converts of the London Society for the Conversion of the Jews, unless the good sense of its conductors shall promptly discounten? ance such proceedings'.27 Years after her death, she was named by an Anglican clergyman as a principal villain among that strict faction within the Evangelicals which practically raises the Mosaic dispensation above the Christian. It is essentially a Judaizing party. The characters on which it dwells most fondly, the ordinances to which it clings most passionately, are the characters and the ordinances of Judaism. Its models of Chris? tian life are the Jewish Patriarchs. Indeed, the religion of some members . . . seems to consist solely in love of Jews and hatred of Papists. Their favourite society is that which professes to be founded for the conversion of Israelites to Christianity, but which too often acts as a Propaganda for converting Christians to Judaism. It spends vast sums in sending emissaries over the country who diffuse Judaic views of Scripture, and proclaim the spiritual inferiority of the Gentile to the Jew. Those glorious prophecies of the restoration of Israel, and the blessedness of the new Jerusalem, which have their fulfil? ment ... in the destinies of the Christian Church, are applied by these propagandists to the carnal seed of Abraham and to the pawnbrokers of Monmouth Street, and the slop sellers of St. Giles's.28 Mrs Tonna realized that 'most' Christians considered her 'a little too Judaizing, as some call it', and to those who assailed her she had a stock answer: 'we do not propose to Judaize the Gentiles; we only protest against the erroneous plan of Gentilizing the Jews'. Devout Christian that she was, she never ceased to hope for the ultimate espousal by Jews of Jesus, but her career as a conversionist was at an end. She had become convinced that conversion would not precede, but follow the mass restoration of Jews to Zion, and that attempts in the mean? time to proselytize Jews piecemeal were inexcusable since those converted were expected to divest themselves of all traces of their Jewishness.29 Therefore, she became the arch-champion of Jewish cultural expression: 'we hail the strengthening nationality of Israel'. It saddened her that some Jews discarded their ancestral religion for the sake of their own or their children's advancement. She admired the Jew who 'scorned to barter for Gentile patronage the boast of his high lineage, and who came forward, an acknowledged Jew'. And she now recognized their right to sit in Parliament.30 Since the essence of the conversionist approach was that Jews faced eternal damnation if they failed to accept Jesus as their saviour, Mrs Tonna had in 109</page><page sequence="8">Hilary L. Rubinstein effect conceded that their souls were no longer doomed, that Judaism coexisted alongside Christianity as an alternative road to redemption. Her friends were aghast. The Revd Dr Hugh McNeile, widely regarded as the ablest Evangelical preacher of the nineteenth century, remonstrated with her: 'I affectionately but solemnly warn you against the disastrous uncertainty which must be brought upon the faith of the gospel, by maintaining or implying that a Jew, as a Jew, may be saved', he thundered. 'If so, the gospel of Christ is at the best no better than an improved way of salvation, instead of being, as the Scripture declares . . . the only way.' In denying Jesus, Jews had failed to heed Moses and their own prophets; in rejecting the Trinity they were idolators, for the deity they worshipped was not the true God. 'Are you really of the opinion that sinful creatures, holding such a religion as this, can be saved?'31 Mrs Tonna was unfazed. She used her formidable knowledge of Scripture to refute McNeile point by point, and she held her position against all comers.32 For she had found a stalwart ally. At the beginning of 1842 she had discovered the Voice of Jacob, launched in September 1841 (two months before the initial, short-lived series of the Jewish Chronicle began). It was owned and edited by Jacob Abraham Franklin (1809-77), Portsmouth-born founder of Manchester Jews' School, an optician-turned-auditor in London. The Damascus Affair of 1840 and the establishment in 1841 of London's Reform Congregation had con? vinced him of the need for a communal newspaper which would defend the cause of Jews everywhere as well as promote the welfare of traditional Judaism.33 Mrs Tonna was delighted that Jews now had such a newspaper, since hitherto 'Israel might be attacked from every quarter, but could not repel the assailants: Israel might be calumniated, but had no means of flinging back the aspersion, save by the reluctant or the well-paid concession of some corner in a Gentile periodical'. She arranged to receive the Voice of Jacob each month; her husband subscribed separately.34 Franklin, however, had no desire to attract a non-Jewish readership; he attempted to restrict delivery orders to Jews, and he discouraged literary contri? butions from Gentiles. From the first there were an assortment of non-Jewish subscribers, clerical and lay, conversionists and non-conversionists. It was the inevitable presence of conversionists that worried him. He tended to assume that every non-Jewish professed ally of Israel's cause was intent on snaring Jewish souls, and bluntly warned readers of meddlesome 'pretended "Friends of Israel," - trading "Sympathizers," pursuing objects repugnant to Judaism'. Realizing that Christian subscribers had slipped through the net, he resolved to make the best of it by enlightening them regarding the Jewish interpretation of scriptural passages which had been 'misconstrued'. Mrs Tonna wasted no time in commending his newspaper to readers of the Christian Lady's Magazine: 'Towards Christians, its tone is exceedingly mild, yet perfectly candid; ... to the real lovers of Israel it is calculated to afford much valuable information . . . no</page><page sequence="9">A pioneering philosemite: Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna for we know very little of the real state, the real feeling of our Jewish brethren.' This endorsement proved convenient for Franklin, who reproduced it in his pages as a counter to some highly placed Jews who had complained that some of the material he printed might 'wound the susceptibility of our Non-Israelite neighbours'. But when a friendly letter from Mrs Tonna arrived at his editorial offices in Camomile Street he reacted warily, resolving to discourage her attempts to befriend him.35 He had reckoned, however, without her forceful personality and dogged persistence, and eventually she managed to breach his defences. He probably reasoned that he should grasp the opportunity to explain to an influential opinion-moulding editor exactly where Jews stood in relation to various issues, and to ensure that she properly understood the Jewish liturgy and the basic tenets of Judaism. Consequently, there passed between the two editors a flow of letters - 'still charming to read, though they have an odd rust upon them', observed the Jewish Chroniclers editor Asher I. Myers some fifty years later.36 (No letters from Mrs Tonna survive among Franklin's papers at the University of Southampton's Hartley Library nor in the Jewish Chronicle archive at the same repository.) It was apparently well over a year before the pair came face to face, introduced by Lydia Belisario. By then Franklin had long since shed his misgivings about his correspondent's motives, and a mutual admiration had blossomed. Mrs Tonna, who felt strongly that Jews should bring their justifiable grievances and demands forthrightly to the attention of the non-Jewish world, praised his 'manly frankness'. She proclaimed her 'very sincere regard and respect . . . honour and love' for Franklin, who 'rouses himself as a lion' in his people's cause, and who 'both of personal labour and of money . . . has prevailed to establish a free, outspoken, independent Jewish Press in England'.37 For his part, while dissociating Jews 'from any concurrence in the execrations against Rome', Franklin praised Mrs Tonna's 'uncompromising writings' and her 'high-souled aspirations after truth', expressed admiration for her 'superior mind', and bestowed that ultimate of compliments when he noted her 'masculine vigour of argument'. She was 'amicable', 'excellent', 'noble-hearted', 'the best embodi? ment we have known of ethical Christianity', and 'stands forth pre-eminently' among Gentile champions of Jewry. It was 'among the highest privileges' of his editorial career to introduce her merits to his readers.38 Such lavish tributes to each other appeared at intervals in their respective periodicals. As Lewis Tonna recalled, 'an intimacy, which soon ripened into the warmest, most affectionate friendship' swiftly developed between the pair. The good of Jewry became his wife's consuming passion, overriding even the attention she gave to the welfare of the industrial poor.39 Her concern extended to Jews irrespective of country or class. The persecu? tion of Jewish communities overseas, including those accused of ritual murder and tortured at Damascus in 1840, caused her immense sorrow and indignation. in</page><page sequence="10">Hilary L. Rubinstein For readers of the Christian Lady's Magazine - and of the Protestant Magazine, too, when Roman Catholics were the persecutors - she reproduced reports from the Voice of Jacob. 'Let the soul of every Christian reader break a deep response', she enjoined.40 She decried the degraded status of Jews in the Rome ghetto, and enlisted in the spirited (and successful) campaign against promulgation of the Ancona decree of 1843, by which the Papal States intended to strike at the very liveli? hoods of Jews through draconian restrictions on their employment of and com? munication with Christians, on their domicile and travel.41 And she waged verbal war on the Russian ukase (Czarist edict) of 1843, which ordered Jews living close to the Pale of Settlement's borders with Austria and Prussia back into the heart? land. This measure, ostensibly a precaution against smuggling, threatened up to half a million Jews with economic ruin. A letter from an anonymous Jew in the London Morning Herald, reproduced in the Christian Lady's Magazine, bears the hallmarks of Franklin: 'Let, now, those thousands of noblemen and gentle? men who not only profess Scripture with their hearts - let them stand forth now ... let them, if they indeed covet it, earn that blessing promised to those that bless Abraham. Let them memorialize the Russian Emperor for pity on half a million of Israel's remnant . . . .'42 Imploring her female readers to press this suggestion on their menfolk for the sake of God's 'long-afflicted nation', Mrs Tonna also reproduced a demand for action openly put by Franklin. Jews, he wrote, expected an outcry from 'the philanthropist, whose heart yearns for the sufferer, whoever and wherever he be' and from 'the Christian, who owes to the Jews . . . the hope that is within him'. They looked for an organized public indication of outrage, such as a petition to the Czar or a great protest rally like that held in the City of London in 1840 during the Damascus Affair, 'some demonstration which may assure the fainting hearts of the sufferers' kindred [of] the moral support of the British people . . .'. (Incidentally, advocacy of a rally conflicted with Sir Moses Montefiore's belief that personal negotiation only must be tried lest public passions inflame the situation.) Again, Mrs Tonna commended Franklin's ideas to her readers: 'We earnestly hope that all our friends will be on the alert to help forward this good work, of which the object is to influence foreign states by a strong public expression of the feeling which Englishmen cannot but entertain.' And she also carried, with appropriate com? ment, a pertinent poem by Grace Aguilar entitled 'The Hebrew's Appeal'.43 In July 1844 Mrs Tonna found herself with an opportunity for the 'practical response' she had advocated, for Czar Nicholas I was in London on a short private visit to Queen Victoria. When Mrs Tonna learned of his presence, two days before his scheduled departure, she hastened to compose a petition to him on behalf of his 'oppressed and burdened Jewish subjects' and employed an accomplished scribe to burn the midnight oil copying it onto vellum. During the next forty-eight hours she rushed around London in a specially hired car 112</page><page sequence="11">A pioneering philosemite: Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna riage obtaining signatures from her influential friends: 'Bishops, Peers, Privy Counsellors [sic], Members of Parliament, and others, each affixing to his name his rank and designation; all being the names of men who feared the Lord'. Reluctant, as a woman, to take too public or forceful a role, she apparently did not sign, and the document almost certainly bore only men's signatures. It was taken by Lord Shaftesbury to the departing Czar, who also accepted a petition signed by Jews, presented by Montefiore.44 She had a further proposal in aid of the cause. It was doubtless suggested by Franklin's stern observation that in order to ensure no 'misdirected zeal' or the temptation to proselytize, Christians who wished to assist Jews fighting for their rights must do so only as 'auxiliaries' under Jewish direction. Mrs Tonna now set about recruiting men of influence who would place themselves at the disposal of the Board of Deputies as a sort of pressure group in the struggle to alleviate the plight of Jews in lands of oppression or persecution. The recruits apparently included Shaftesbury and almost certainly, to a considerable extent, reflected the petition's signatories. They promised not to attempt unilateral action and, although 'more than nominally Christian', they agreed not to proselytize. But the Board, for reasons which remain unclear, rebuffed them. It might have regarded them, despite their disavowals, as conversionists who must be kept at bay. More likely, it felt that since the ukase was to be temporarily stayed, there was time to secure its removal through Montefiore's efforts.45 Meanwhile, Mrs Tonna urged her readers to pray for oppressed Jewry while continually keeping alert for any scheme of amelioration which might be assisted. When in 1844 the Jews of Mogador in Morocco suffered terribly at the hands of marauding hill tribesmen, she speedily helped the relief fund opened by Anglo-Jewry. She publicized the situation so effectively and sought donations so persuasively that the amount she forwarded (via the Voice of Jacob) was unsur? passed by any Jewish collector.46 She had become increasingly interested in Jewish agricultural colonies in Palestine as a means of relieving distress, and schemes such as those by Colonel George Gawler and Edward Mitford were favourably reviewed by her. 'The sole of Israel's foot can know no rest till it be again planted on the mountains of Judea. ... on the one hand Europe must place some barrier against Russian aggression and extension: on the other hand, some place of refuge must be found for the hundreds of thousands of houseless Jews who will debark upon shores where those who love the Bible will not, cannot, turn away from those who gave us the Bible'.47 While crusading for Jews overseas she did not neglect her campaign to eradicate misconceptions and calumnies regarding Judaism, a campaign after Franklin's own heart. Acquiring a set of festival prayer-books, she was dejected to discover that only one of her clerical friends was acquainted with the liturgy of the Jewish festivals. She lamented that the average Christian knew little of the 'Old Testa? ment' beyond Isaiah and the Psalms. It infuriated her that one of'the painful and 113</page><page sequence="12">Hilary L. Rubinstein unjust charges' against Jews 'continually going the round of the press, the pulpit, and the platform' was the canard that they censoriously omitted from the Hafta rah-cych Isaiah 53, the 'Suffering Servant' chapter, taken by Christians to refer to Jesus. She supported Franklin in his demand that a representative of the London Jews' Society who peddled that accusation be forced to retract.48 Her opinions regarding the Jewish future, her publicizing of issues affecting Jews, and her support for Franklin's newspaper, met with resistance. As her memoir somewhat bitterly observes, all sorts of 'Popish' and 'worldly periodicals' were tolerated, but as soon as 'the first people of the earth' possessed a newspa? per promoting their interests 'it became a sort of sin to name the work in public, lest any one should be tempted to read it, and be judaized out of hand by its insidious doctrines'.49 She was upbraided for swallowing Franklin's 'falsehoods', while he had to defend himself against Jews who objected to the views of a Christian being aired in his pages. Her attachment to Franklin, many Christians felt, had addled her judgement, and in print the apostate and future Anglican clergyman Moses Margoliouth implied as much. This she denied, since 'no Jew, converted or unconverted' led her to her conclusions 'save only those Jews who by inspiration wrote the Bible'. (For good measure, she paid tribute to Franklin, and added that she would have been 'delighted to have seen Mr. Margoliouth, with a Talith on his shoulders, bearing a palm-branch' in the synagogue during the recent festival of Sue cot, 'uniting in Hosannas with his brethren'.)50 Wild rumours were flying, spread by people evidently unaware, or too preoc? cupied to notice, that while Franklin - Mrs Tonna's junior by nineteen years - was (and would remain) a bachelor, she was already in possession of a husband. By the late summer of 1843 she was publicly refuting a 'widely circulated' report that she had 'become, by marriage, allied to the House of Israel'. Had she been, she declared defiantly, she 'would glory in the distinction . . . honour and privil? ege'. Against inclination, she was driven to issue a denial. Having discovered 'that such supposed alliance is assigned as the origin of her recent efforts in the cause of Jewish nationality, and that thus a character of private partiality is given to her recorded opinions, she feels bound to state that the report is wholly false and unfounded. Neither by marriage nor in any other way, directly or indirectly, is she connected with the descendants of Abraham; and alike the origin, the authority, the rule, and the encouragement of her humble efforts to shame the Christian world, and the Gentile church, into a more seemly line of conduct towards their elder brethren of the house of Jacob, are to be found in the Bible, and in the Bible Alone'.51 Perhaps to publicize his friend's married state, an embarrassed Franklin made an opaque reference to Lewis Tonna in the Voice of Jacob (27 October 1843) as 'the partner of her labours in Israel's cause'. Franklin had long wondered how she could remain a paid-up member of the London Jews' Society, when on key questions she differed from most of her colleagues. At last - it is unclear precisely when - she and her husband resigned 114</page><page sequence="13">A pioneering philosemite: Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna from it. 'Old cherished friendships with the highest and noblest in the land, with the most exalted and eminent in the Church', were shaken or shattered. But nothing deflected her from the Jewish cause, not even cancer, with which she was diagnosed in December 1844 during the peak of her fundraising for the Mogador appeal. When at length she found writing too painful, her editorials and articles were dictated to Lewis Tonna.52 She announced her illness early in 1845; Franklin now asked his readers to pray that her pain might be eased and her life preserved. Later that year she produced a full and revealing tribute to the man she had often referred to as ?our elder Brother' (in the sense that Judaism predated Christianity), who was resigning as editor (although not as proprietor) of the newspaper that had taught her so much. He had, she observed inter alia, 'very materially lessened the great mountain of prejudices' dividing Christians and Jews, and had 'done ready just? ice to those who seek the national welfare of his people'. Indeed, Franklin's blanket suspicion of Gentiles who avowed solidarity with Israel had been replaced by satisfaction that Jewry's 'true friends' were 'numerous', and he now listed communication with Christians as one of the purposes of his newspaper.53 At the beginning of her illness Mrs Tonna, seeking sea air, stayed at a hotel in Ramsgate. That town's illustrious residents, Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore, 'overwhelmed her . . . with attentions and kindness'. She visited them at East Cliff Lodge, where she and Sir Moses rivalled each other in producing quota? tions from Isaiah concerning Israel's 'glorious' destiny. On returning to their home in London's Park Lane following their mission to Russia, the Montefiores sped to Mrs Tonna's sickbed at her husband's official apartment in Whitehall. She was too weak to communicate, but she insisted on reciting Psalm 120, and watched intently as Montefiore's description of his trip was conveyed to her in sign language. When, later, she left for Ramsgate by rail, Sir Moses saw her off at the station and presented her with a basket of grapes for the journey. The Montefiores arranged that at her destination she would be afforded every com? fort, and her first visitors there were the minister of the couple's private syn? agogue, Revd Isaac Henry Myers, and his wife. Myers' book on the Bible for young people, co-authored with his brother, had recently received a glowing review from Mrs Tonna.54 Two days after arrival she died, with the future of the Jews her final expressed thoughts. Lewis Tonna noted that the date of her death, 12 July 1846, was the anniversary of the Protestant victory at the Boyne, which she had always marked. Franklin noted that it was Tisha B'Av, the grim fast day characterized by the recitation of dirges and the reading of Lamentations (though he inexplicably appears to have confused the date with that of another fast, the 17 of Tammuz).55 To mark her passing, the flag at East Cliff Lodge was lowered to half-mast, and Montefiore sent a message of condolence to a memorial service held at Ramsgate Town Hall on 15 July, the day of her burial in the local churchyard.56 115</page><page sequence="14">Hilary L. Rubinstein On her lonely pathway as a pioneer, Mrs Tonna had become despondent. She felt that, despite her best efforts, 'every libellous misrepresentation of the Jewish people' and 'every unkind and untrue report circulated respecting them, and their religious belief found an avid audience. Was it not 'passing strange,' she asked, 'when every cause has its advocate, every injury its redresser, every oppressed individual ... a friend to plead aloud,' that 'the championship of one of the noblest and most sacred causes under heaven, the championship of God's own chosen people, should be thrown upon a weak, dying woman, who has neither learning nor influence to lead her, and nothing to encourage her but the word of God ....?' She had hoped to be spared until 'some far more able champion' of Jewry should emerge.57 In the long run, her influence was perhaps more pervasive than she knew, if the clergyman's rant, quoted above, regarding her 'Judaizing' legacy is any indication. She surely deserves to be acknowledged as a spiritual forebear of such modern philosemites as the Revd Dr James Parkes. In assessing her worth to the Jewish cause, let the last word rest with Jacob Franklin: Charlotte Elizabeth has truly been a champion for Israel among the Gentiles, and God has blessed her endeavours to remove delusion from the eyes of many who misconceived us, and helped to set snares in our path .... The loss to Israel is greater than our readers are prepared to estimate .... Her memory is blessed. On whom shall her mantle fall? .... Let us do justice to her memory, not only because it is justice, but in order that other pious Christians may not be scared from the path she has marked out for them ... in pursuance of justice to Judaism.58 Acknowledgements Sincere gratitude is expressed to the following, who very kindly responded to queries I posed while preparing this paper: Mr Cyril Drukker, Dr Anthony Joseph, Dr Lionel Kopelowitz, Miss Miriam Rodrigues-Pereira, Rabbi Margaret Jacobi, and Dr C. M. Woolgar, Archivist and Head of Special Collections, Uni? versity of Southampton. I am indebted to Miss Rodrigues-Pereira for the birth date of Miriam Belisario, whose dates are given as 1820-85 in The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia II (New York 1940) 151-2; in fact, the birthdate 1820 belonged to Miriam's brother Jacob. NOTES 1 Jewish Chronicle (hereafter JC) 7 March 1924 (obit. Lady Magnus); Voice of Jacob (hereafter VJ) 24 Nov. 1843, 15, 23 March 1844. 2 Protestant Magazine (hereafter PM) 1 April 1841; VJ 11 April 1845. 3 The Works of Charlotte Elizabeth. With an Introduction by Mrs. H. B. Stowe i (New York 1844) i-ii. 4 E.g., Ivanka Kovacevic and S. Barbara Kanner, 'Blue Book Into Novel: The Forgotten Industrial Fiction of Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna', Nineteenth Century Fiction 25 (1970) 152-73; Elizabeth Kowaleski,' "The Heroine of n6</page><page sequence="15">A pioneering philosemite: Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna Some Strange Romance": The Personal Recollections of Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna', Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature i (1982) 141-53; Monica Correa Fryckstedt, 'Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna &amp; the Christian Lady's Magazine\ Victorian Periodicals Review 14 (1981)43-51. 5 Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna Personal Recollections, 3rd ed. (London 1847); Clara Lucas Balfour, Working Women of the Last Half Century (London 1856) 7-43; Dictionary of National Biography (hereafter DNB) 57 (London 1899) 34-5. 6 DNB (see n. 5) 35. 7 The Perils of the Nation. An Appeal to the Legislature, the Clergy, and the Higher and Middle Classes (London 1847); Tonna (see n. 5) 408-9; VJ 24 Nov. 1843. 8 Christian Lady's Magazine (hereafter CLM) June 1843, p. ii; Nov. 1843, p. 454. 9 Tonna (see n. 5) 9, 139, 244-5; Works (see n. 3) 500; CLM Dec. 1841, pp. 507, 510, 555-6. 10 CLM Oct. 1841, pp. 372-3; Dec. 1841, pp. 507, 510; VJ 31 July 1845; W. T. Gidney, The History of the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews, from 180g to igo8 (London 1908); Mel Scult, 'English Missions to the Jews - Conversion in the Age of Emancipation', Jewish Social Studies 35 (1973) 3-17 11 Tonna (see n. 5) 398-9; CLM Dec. 1841, pp. 498-513. 12 Tonna (see n. 5) 247-8. 13 CLM Dec. 1841, pp. 498-513; Tonna (see n. 5) 398-9. 14 CLM Jan. 1841, p. 81; Feb. 1841, p. 187. 15 Franz Kobler, The Vision Was There: A History of the British Movement for the Restoration of the Jews to Palestine (London 1956) 71-2. 16 CLM Feb. 1841, pp. 189-90; Jan. 1843, p. 66. 17 CLM Jan. 1843, pp. 63-8 (emphasis in original). 18 CLM May 1843, pp. 443, 446. 19 Tonna (see n. 5) pp. 399-400, 404; Israel's Ordinances. A few thoughts on their perpetuity . . . by Charlotte Elizabeth (London 1843) quoted in CLM Nov. 1843, p. 443 (emphasis in original). 20 VJ 25 Nov. 1842; CLM Jan. 1843, pp. 63-8. 21 CLM Aug. 1840, p. 232; Miriam Belisario, Sabbath Evening at Home; or Familiar Conversations on the Jewish Religion, Its Spirit and Observances (London 1856); Asher I. Myers, 'Jacob Franklin', JC 13 Nov. 1891. 22 DNB i, 179-80; CLM Sept. 1843, pp. 224-7. 23 CLM Jan. 1843, pp. 63-8; May 1843, 392-8, p. 393. 24 CLM May 1843, pp. 396, 398. 25 PM 1 June 1840, 1 May 1842; CLM Oct. 1844, 289-302, p. 302; Jan. 1840, p. 89. 26 CLM May 1844, 434~42; Jc 20 Feb. 1920. 27 Tonna (see n. 5) 404; VJ 6 Sept. 1844; M. L. 'On a Passage in Charlotte Elizabeth's Letter to Bishop Alexander', Christian Observer Jan. 1844, pp. 18-20. 28 W. J. Conybeare, 'Church Parties', in his Essays Ecclesiastical and Social (London 1855) 81-3. 29 ^73i July 1846; CLM Dec. 1846, p. 575. 30 CLM March 1843, p. 223. 31 CLM June 1843, pp. 548-9, 551-2. 32 CLM June 1839, p. 483; May 1843, p. 443; Tonna (see n. 5) 411-3. 33 Myers (see n. 21); 'The Late Jacob Franklin',^ 10 Aug. 1877; Letter from A. L. Emanuel, JC 17 Aug. 1877, JC 29 Jan. 1909 (with photo.); VJ 11 Sept. 1846; Arthur Ellis Franklin, comp. Records of the Franklin Family and Collaterals 2nd ed. (London 1935). 34 Tonna (see n. 5) 405; CLM May 1843, p. 440; Nov. 1843, p. 446. 35 VJ 16 Sept. 1841; 4 Feb. 1842. 36 Myers (see n. 21). 37 CLM May 1843, p. 439; June 1843, p. 560. 38 VJ 19 Aug. 1842; 9 June 1843; 19 Jan.; 6 Sept. 1844; 3, 17, 31 July; 11 Sept. 1846. 39 Tonna (see n. 5) 407. 40 PM 1 Jan. 1842; 1 May 1843; 1 June; 1 Sept; 1 Dec. 1843; CLM March 1844, pp. 202 5, 259-65; Oct. 1844, pp. 289-308; Oct. 1843, PP- 335-46. 41 CLM June 1844, pp. 491-2; Sept. 1843, pp. 254-61; PM 1 Sept.; 1 Dec. 1843; VJ 18 Aug.; 1, 29 Sept.; 24 Nov. 1843. 42 CLM Jan. 1844, PP- 66-76; Morning Herald 13 Dec. 1843; VJ 15 Sept. 1843. 43 CLM Jan. 1844, p. 76; Feb. 1844, PP- 97" 108, 163-5. 44 CLM Feb. 1844, p. 163; Tonna (see n. 5) 410; VJ 14 April; 31 Aug. 1843; 22 March 1844; 31 July 1846; Ashley [Shaftesbury] to Mrs Tonna 9 May 1843 in Maurice Myers. 'Some MS Sidelights on Anglo-Jewish Emancipation', JC 8 May 1908. 45 CLM May 1844, pp. 265, 412-3; VJ 22 March 1844. 46 CLM Oct. 1844, pp. 303-4; Dec. 1844, ii7</page><page sequence="16">Hilary L. Rubinstein PP- 527-43; VJ, i Nov.; 20 Dec. 1844; 3, 31 Jan. 1845. 47 CLM Oct. 1844, pp. 303-4; Aug. 1845, pp. 182-3; March 1846, pp. 241-54; April 1846, pp. 352-66 (emphasis in original). 48 CLM March 1843, p. 243; April 1846, pp. 368-70; Tonna (see n. 5) 406; VJ 17 July 1846; James B. Cartwright, Two Sermons, preached at the Episcopal Jews' Chapel, December 18, 1845. . . . (London 1846). 49 Tonna (see n. 5) 406-7. 50 CLM May 1843, pp. 438-47; Moses Margoliouth, The Fundamental Principles of Modern Judaism (London 1843), q.v. CLM Nov. 1843, PP- 448, 453-4 51 Tonna (see n. 5) 411-3; CLM Jan. 1844, p. 66. 52 3i July 1846. 53 Tonna (see n. 5) 411-3, 416; CLM Nov. 1845, PP. 403-4; ^5 Aug. 1842; 15 Sept. 1843; 14 March 1845. 54 Tonna (see n. 5) 415-9, 421; M. H. and I. H. Myers, Twelve Hundred Questions and Answers on the Bible. ... 2v. (London 1845), CLM Nov. 1845, pp. 468-9. 55 Tonna (see n. 5) 429-30; cf. VJ 17 July 1846. 56 Tonna (see n. 5) 409-10, 428-9; Gentleman's Magazine 26 n.s. July-Dec. 1846, PP- 433-4; VJ 17, 31 July 1846. 57 CLM Nov. 1845, pp. 468-9; June 1846, quoted in VJ 17 June 1846 (emphasis in original). 58 VJ 17, 31 July 1846. n8</page></plain_text>